Tobias Kamke

Roland Garros Rewind: Federer, Azarenka, Serena Cruise, Monfils Leads French Parade on Day Four

Profiting from more cooperative weather, Roland Garros produced a Day 4 replete with action.  Here’s the review of how it all went down.

ATP:

Match of the day:  Ah, the French in Paris.  Sometimes they dazzle, sometimes they implode, sometimes they puzzle, and sometimes they do all three.  Julien Benneteau achieved the trifecta in a five-set victory over Tobias Kamke, completing his first pair of consecutive victories since February.  En route to the third round, Benneteau a) won a 20-point tiebreak b) blew a two-set lead c) ate a bagel in the fourth set and d) won anyway.  Richard Gasquet, it’s your move.

Worth the wait:  After a 14-game fifth set, the epic between Horacio Zeballos and Vasek Pospisil finally ended a day and two sets after Zeballos could have ended it in a third-set tiebreak.  A young Canadian talent, Pospisil showed grit by rallying from the brink of a straight-sets loss to the brink of a five-set victory.  But Zeballos, who defeated Rafael Nadal to win a South American clay title this spring, relied on his greater experience to get the last word.

Comeback of the day:  Dutch heavy hitter Igor Sijsling looked ready to knock off the lowest men’s seed when he swept two tight sets.  Continuing a surprisingly solid clay campaign, Tommy Robredo surged through the next three sets for the loss of five total games.  The pattern of the scores recalled Roger Federer’s comeback over Juan Martin Del Potro here last year.

Surprise of the day:  Surely elated by his upset over Berdych in a first-round epic, Gael Monfils might have fallen victim to a hangover against the dangerous Ernests Gulbis.  Although he dropped the first set for the second straight match, Monfils outlasted his fellow erratic shot-maker for another quality win that jangled the nerves of his compatriots a bit less.  Up next is a more compelling test of his consistency against Robredo.  Check out the more detailed recap of Gael’s win on this site by colleague Yeshayahu Ginsburg.

Gold star:  A few of the less notable home hopes fell today, but all of the leading French men prevailed.  Like Monfils, Benoit Paire completed a comeback from losing the first set to win in four.  Gilles Simon hurled three consecutive breadsticks at clay specialist Pablo Cuevas after he too spotted his opponent a one-set lead.  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga roared through in straight sets for the second consecutive match, as did Jeremy Chardy.  And don’t forget the wacky win by Benneteau explored above.  Plenty of reason remains for French patriots to return as the third round unfolds.

Silver star:  Struggling to win matches this year, Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki both survived potentially tricky encounters.  Tipsarevic cruised past local hero Nicolas Mahut, perhaps helped by the schedule shift away from Court Philippe Chatrier after the rain.  Troicki weathered five taxing sets and two tiebreaks against clay specialist Daniel Gimeno-Traver, who had upset 17th seed Juan Monaco.

Marathon man:  For the second straight round, Andreas Seppi prevailed in five sets.  Halfway to defending his fourth-round points from last year, Seppi seemed to have a stranglehold when he bageled Blaz Kavcic in the first set.  He later would allow a two-set lead to escape before regrouping when the match hung in the balance.

Stat of the day:  All 15 men’s seeds in action today advanced, eight in straight sets.

American in Paris:  After winning just one match in his first six Roland Garros appearances, top-ranked man Sam Querrey has won two in his seventh trip here without losing a set.

Question of the day:  Second seed Roger Federer entered this tournament as a distant third favorite for the title after Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.  Looking at least as sharp as either of them, Federer now has lost just 12 games in two matches, albeit against weak competition from two qualifiers.  Should we start taking his title hopes more seriously?

WTA:

Match of the day:  After Victoria Azarenka outlasted her in a long match at the Australian Open, Jamie Hampton secured a happier ending to another three-setter at a major.  Hampton stunned 25th seed Lucie Safarova after winning the first set in a tiebreak, withstanding Safarova’s second-set surge, and closing out a 9-7 final set.  That 16-game affair was the longest set of the women’s tournament so far.

Worth the wait:  Delayed by rain, world No. 3 Azarenka did not start her Roland Garros campaign until Wednesday.  Needing to issue a strong statement, as all of her rivals had, Azarenka delivered with a resounding victory over former doubles partner Elena Vesnina.  None of the top four women has lost more than five games in a match so far.

Comeback of the day:  For the second straight tournament, Svetlana Kuznetsova ate a first-set breadstick from an unseeded opponent.  Whereas the Rome breadstick from Simona Halep preceded another breadstick, the Roland Garros breadstick from Magdalena Rybarikova spurred the 2009 champion into action.  Kuznetsova dropped just four games over the next two sets, responding much more forcefully to adversity.

Surprise of the day:  Surviving a first-round flirtation with disaster boded well for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova’s chances here.  She almost always has ventured deep into draws this year when passing her first test.  This time, though, Pavlyuchenkova fell short in the second round to Petra Cetkovska in another tight three-setter.  The victim of painful losses here as well, coach Martina Hingis can empathize.

Unsurprising surprise of the day:  Unseeded 2012 quarterfinalist Kaia Kanepi continued her momentum from winning a Premier title in Brussels last week.  Kanepi dispatched 23rd seed Klara Zakopalova in straight sets on a difficult day for Czechs.

Gold star:  Famous forever after what happened last year, Virginie Razzano technically surpassed that performance this year.  Razzano more than justified her wildcard by reaching the third round, perhaps bolstered by the memories of her landmark victory over Serena Williams.

Silver star:  In the first match of her career at Roland Garros, promising Australian teenager Ashleigh Barty made her presence felt.  Barty stunned last week’s Strasbourg runner-up Lucie Hradecka in three sets, overcoming dramatic disparities in power, experience, and clay expertise.

Marathon woman:  Eight of Petra Kvitova’s last nine matches have reached a third set, the latest against the fossilized Aravane Rezai today.  That recent capsule from clay reflects a trend typical for Kvitova overall, for she has played 18 three-setters this year and a staggering 39 in 2012-13.  Whether caused by slow starts or mid-match hiccups, those rollercoasters illustrate her unreliability.

Stat of the day:  Bojana Jovanovski has won three matches since January, two of which have come against Caroline Wozniacki.  The Dane predictably became the first top-ten woman to lose at Roland Garros as Jovanovski accomplished what the more talented Laura Robson could not.

Americans in Paris:  Blasting past Caroline Garcia today, Serena Williams has lost just four games in two matches and 18 games in seven matches since Rome started.  While the top seed continues to look every inch the title favorite, several other American women acquitted themselves well.  Varvara Lepchenko notched a second straight routine victory, while women’s wildcard Shelby Rogers swiped a set from 20th seed Carla Suarez Navarro despite the gap between their relative credentials.  On the other hand, Madison Keys dropped a winnable match to Monica Puig, and Mallory Burdette could not find any answers to Agnieszka Radwanska.

Question of the day:  All of the top four women have roared through their early matches, confirming their elite status.  Outside that group, who has impressed you the most so far?

Sony Open in Photos: Kamke ousts Del Potro, Sharapova thru

MIAMI, FL (March 23, 2013) — Friday at the Sony Open saw sunshine, rain, a power outage on Stadium court and hey, even some great tennis!

The surprise of the day came when Tobias Kamke handed last week’s BNP Paribas Open finalist Juan Martin del Potro a straight set defeat, 7-6(5), 6-1. Luckily, the Argentine felt no pain in his wrist and didn’t make any excuses of fatigue for his loss, but rather, called it “just a bad day.” To Kamke’s credit, he played one of his cleanest matches on tour, securing only his second top 10 win of his career, after defeating Tomas Berdych back in 2010.

Aside from the tennis, other grounds activities have taken place all week for fans and tennis players to enjoy, and Friday was no exception. Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders Lilly Watters and Idelys Martinez came to the Sony Open entertainment stage to show ATP player Bernard Tomic a few of their well-known kicks, and he even joined in on some of the fun.

Below are Tennis Grandstand’s “Best Shots of the Day” by our photographer Christopher Levy, including match play, Tomic’s cheerleading skills, and Venus Williams‘ practice session.

 

Roger Federer sails into the next – US Open day 1

The final Grand Slam of the year got underway on Monday in New York and with hurricane Irene no longer looming, the tournament was able to get through all of its scheduled matches.

On the men’s side we saw third seeded Roger Federer advance with relative ease against clay-court specialist Santiago Giraldo in straight sets by a score of 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Federer very likely could have closed his opponent out in a much more devastating manner but was off his game at times throughout the match. He fully admitted afterwards that he rarely plays his best tennis in the opening rounds and is happy to be through to the next round where he will face Dudi Sela of Israel.

Elsewhere, seeded players Alexandr Dolgopolov, Tomas Berdych, RIchard Gasquet Janko Tipsarevic, Marcel Granollers, Gael Monfils, Marin Cilic, Radek Stepanek and Mardy Fish all advanced in straight sets as well.

Granollers, known more for his clay court exploits, dispatched tough veteran Xavier Maliss 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Monfils, the flying frenchman, took out a future star in Grigor Dimitrov, 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-4. He will next face 2003 finalist Juan Carlos Ferrero who needed five sets to get past Pablo Andujar. Ferrero is still capable of solid results on clay as evidenced by his recent title in Stuttgart, but forget about him making it far on the hard-courts here.

Another veteran player who had a decent result today was Germany’s Tommy Haas who advanced past French qualifier Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy (good thing tennis players don’t wear their names on the back of their shirts!) Haas has had a real tough-go since returning from a year long layoff earlier this year. He is currently ranked 475th in the world and has a record of 2-8 so far this season. Haas actually has a pretty good draw here and if he can get on a roll is someone you can never count out.

Mardy Fish looked every bit the part as the top-ranked American in the world as he easily defeated Tobias Kamke 6-2, 6-2, 6-1. Fish has somehow managed to top his solid summer of 2010 and made the finals of the Masters 1000 event in Montreal and then the semi-finals in Cincinnati the week after that. Seeded eighth in this event, Fish is no longer going to be content with making the round of sixteen in a major. With the way he has been playing the past two months, he must be considered a title contender for perhaps the first time in his career.

The only upset on day one was to see Serbia’s Viktor Troicki be beaten by Alejandro Falla 3-6, 6-3, 4-7, 7-5, 7-5. Fortunately for fans of that nation, there is a guy who opens tomorrow who has a decent shot of going deep into the draw. Novak Djokovic will open against Conor Niland of Ireland, a man who will need all the luck of the Irish he can muster.

US Open Begins in Wake of Irene – Early Day One Matches

Despite a hurricane travelling through the area just over 24 hours previously the US Open got underway on Monday with just a two-hour delay disrupting schedules as cleanup teams tried to restore the grounds as best they could before the gates opened.

Anybody who may have feared a subdued day one, understandably, due to disruptions to preparations quickly had their worries allayed.

Just days after admitting she was worried about her recent form, the new Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova crashed out in round one to world No.49 Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania.

“Still I have bad timing for the hard court and I didn’t have some small steps before the shots,” she had said after early round exits from Cincinnati and Toronto. “Sometimes my serve is like up and down. It’s also right before the US Open, so I have a week off now. Hopefully it’ll be better. Of course I won a Grand Slam so it’s going to be more [pressure], but it’s not in my head.”

And certainly she seemed ready for a fight during the first set as her and Dulgheru traded blows before entering a tie-breaker on Louis Armstrong Court.

But she dropped it, and could never quite get herself firing in the second. A surprised Dulgheru rushed to take it 6-3 and complete an unlikely victory. She will now face her compatriot Monica Niculescu in round two who defeated Austria’s Patricia Mayr-Achleitner 6-3, 6-3 on court nine.

Top American seed in the men’s draw Mardy Fish kicked off play on Arthur Ashe Court and dropped only five games against Germany’s Tobias Kamke in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win that made the sport look extremely simple.

But his compatriot, Ryan Harrison, lost in straight sets to Croatia’s Marin Cilic, who progressed 6-2, 7-5, 7-6(6).

Tomas Berdych, Richard Gasquet, Flavio Cipolla, Bernard Tomic, and Janko Tipsarevic were among the male players to make it through in straight sets, while Michael Llodra was one of the first stars taken to five sets by Romania’s Victor Hanescu before triumphing 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Teenage British star Laura Robson went through earlier than planned when Japan’s Ayumi Morita retired at the beginning of the second set with a shoulder injury, while German star Julia Goerges progressed by dropping only five games in a routine 6-3, 6-2 win over her compatriot Kristina Barrois.