2012 Unicef Open, Eastbourne ATP Recap
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Top seed David Ferrer smashed and served his way to a title in Den Bosch today, beating Pierre Luc-Duclos, Leonardo Mayer, sizzling Igor Sijsling, Benoit Paire and surprise finalist/qualifier Philipp Petzschner. Ferrer beat him in the final, 6-3 6-4.
Petzschner beat Dimitry Tursunov, Mate Pavic, Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Xaiver Malisse to reach the final. Paire beat seeded player Lukasz Kubot, while Malisse beat 2 seed Viktor Troicki.
Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau won the doubles title over Juan Cabal and Dmitry Tursunov.
Andy Roddick shocked nearly everyone and rekindled his mojo to take the title in Eastbourne over Andreas Seppi, 6-3 6-2. Roddick held his own against Sam Querrey, Jeremy Chardy, Fabio Fognini and Steve Darcis en route to the final and gave fans glimpses of his former top 10 self.
Seppi did well for himself in beating Carlos Berlocq, Phillip Kohlschreiber by retirement and surprise semi-finalist Ryan Harrison to reach the final. Darcis beat Aussies Matt Ebden and Marinko Matosevic to reach the semis. Matosevic had knocked off top seed Richard Gasquet.
The “Flemchins”, Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins, took the doubles title on home soil over fellow Brit duo Jamie Delgado and Ken Skupski.
2012 UNICEF Open ATP Preview
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The 2nd set of grass court events and final tune ups before Wimbledon will kick off next week in the Netherlands and Eastbourne, England. The UNICEF Open is previewed below, and the Eastbourne preview follows shortly.
ATP World Tour 250
‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
June 17-23, 2012
Prize Money: €450,000
Top 4 seeds
1: David Ferrer
2: Viktor Troicki
3: Jurgen Melzer
4: Robin Haase
Ferrer returns to action after a semi-final performance in Paris while Haase carries home hopes and Troicki comes off a loss in Halle. The UNICEF Open is a combined event with the WTA.
1st round matchups to watch:
Oliver Rochus vs. Malek Jaziri
Veteran serve and volleying Belgian Rochus is coming off tough 1st round losses to Sam Querrey at Queen’s Club and Leonardo Mayer in Paris as he tries to get in the groove before Wimbledon. He will face Tunisian Jaziri, who continues to climb in the rankings considerably and will be a tough out.
Jurgen Melzer vs. Igor Kunitsyn
A couple of crafty veterans who have been down on their luck recently, but still have plenty of talent will battle it out. Melzer is only .500 on the year (12-12) and Kunitsyn continues to float right around the top 100, reaching the quarterfinals in the Nottingham challenger in his last event.
David Goffin vs. Benoit Paire
A Round of 16 participant at Roland Garros, Goffin, who has now broken into the top 70 will take on Belgrade finalist Paire in a battle of a Frenchman vs. Belgian in the Netherlands.
Flavio Cipolla vs. Potito Starace
Potato Starch will take on his countryman Chips. Combined, they make an Italian potato chip.
Top seed David Ferrer begins his tune up for Wimbledon with a qualifier and then Leonardo Mayer or a qualifier. If he gets through, Rochus or 6 seed Jarkko Nieminen, the lefty vet from Finland, are likely quarterfinal match ups.
3 seed Jurgen Melzer will face Kunitsyn, Tatsuma Ito or a qualifier and then Goffin/Paire or Dudi Sela/Lukasz Kubot, the 8 seed. This is a wide open part of the draw.
2 seed Viktor Troicki comes off a 2nd round loss to Tomas Berdych in Halle and will take on veteran Xaiver Malisse. He could then face the man who beat Tsonga in Halle, Ivan Dodig, and after that 5 seed Santiago Giraldo, serve and volleyer Gilles Muller or Ruben Ramirez Hildalgo/Alejandro Falla.
4 seed Robin Haase will seek to win one of his home countries 2 ATP tournaments facing wild card Mate Pavic then a qualifier or Dmitry Tursunov. That would follow with a match up against Alex Bogomolov Jr., Vasselin or Starace/Cipolla in another permeable part of the draw.
Dark Horse: Ivan Dodig
Dodig, ranked just inside the top 70, comes off a quarterfinals run at Queen’s Club where he knocked off Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and fell in 3 sets to Sam Querrey. While his recent results haven’t been stellar, he will face a weak draw and has momentum on grass going in. If he can beat Paolo Lorenzi and overcome the roadblock that is Viktor Troicki (an inconsistent player himself ), the route to the final is somewhat clear as none of the other seeds in the bottom half of the draw look that daunting (Haase, Giraldo and Bogomolov).
Ferrer d. Kubot
Dodig d. Haase
Ferrer d. Dodig
2012 ATP Rome Preview
by Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Internazionali BNL d’Italia
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
May 14-May 20 2012
Prize Money: € 2,427,975
Things will attempt to return to normal on the ATP World Tour this week as the final tune up for many of the top players before the French Open, the Rome masters event on red clay. Novak Djokovic tries to defend his title from last year, Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer seek to build off their success in Madrid on the blue clay, Andy Murray returns after pulling out of Madrid last week with injury and Rafael Nadal hopes to start up another winning streak after a disappointing 3rd round loss in Madrid.
Top 8 Seeds (who all receive 1st round byes)
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Rafael Nadal
3: Roger Federer
4: Andy Murray
5: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
6: David Ferrer
7: Tomas Berdych
8: Janko Tipsarevic
1st round matchups to watch:
(9) John Isner vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber
Isner seeks to recover from a tough 2nd round loss to Marin Cilic in Madrid and will face an intriguing match-up with Munich champ Kohlschreiber. Both guys have had some good wins on clay this year and It should be interesting to see how they both perform in what is likely their final tune up before the French.
Fernando Verdasco vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov
Verdasco, fresh off a shocking upset of Nadal in Madrid to reach the quarters, will take on Dolgopolov, who reached the quarterfinals himself. Both players are very close in ranking and recent results and it should be a fun match to watch style wise as well. It is a match befitting a later round of the tournament.
Marin Cilic vs (12) Nicolas Almagro
Cilic, who notched a good win over top 10 player and fellow big man on campus John Isner in Madrid, is slowly climbing his way back to the top (he was also a finalist in Munich). He takes on the steady Almagro, who keeps grinding away himself.
(16) Richard Gasquet vs. Jurgen Melzer
Two ATP vets who still notch good results on occasion will battle in out in a battle of backhands (1 hander vs 2 hander) and clay court games.
Fabio Fognini vs. Marcos Baghdatis
Fognini, a wild card and ATP Bucharest finalist, will take on Baghdatis, who always seems to have a trick or two in the bag on home clay. It should be an exciting match.
Top seed Novak Djokovic seeks to defend his title and recover from a quarterfinals loss to countryman Janko Tipsarevic in Madrid. He will start off with either Bernard Tomic or a qualifier before a possible 2nd round match up with the dangerous 14 seed Juan Monaco. It does not get any easier in the quarters as Juan Martin Del Potro, the 10 seed, or 5 seed Jo Wilfried Tsonga are likely match ups.
Tsonga will start off with either Viktor Troicki or Italian wild card Filippo Volandri before a likely 3nd round match up with Del Potro. Del Potro will face veteran Michael Llodra in the 1st round and then either Mikhail Youzhny or Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil. While Tsonga is seeded higher, Del Potro has had better recent results and will likely be favored to advance.
3 seed Roger Federer, Madrid champion, has peformed beyond many expectations after a hiatus. He starts off his efforts in Rome against either Carlos Berlocq or a qualifier before a likely 3rd round match up with 13 seed Gael Monfils, 8 seed Janko Tipsarevic (who he dispatched in the semi finals of Madrid) is a possible quarterfinals match up.
Tipsarevic will seek to build on his upset of Novak Djokovic in Madrid last week, starting off against Stanislas Wawrinka or a qualifier before a 3rd round match up with either Isner, Kohlschreiber, home favorite and top ranked Italian Andreas Seppi or Denis Istomin.
2 seed Rafael Nadal, who is certainly still smarting from his shocking loss to Fernando Verdasco last week in Madrid, will try to return to form against either the dangerous Milos Raonic or Florian Mayer of Germany. From there, he could face fellow Spaniards Feliciano Lopez (15) or Marcel Granollers, Fognini or Baghdatis before a likely 3rd round match up with the man of the moment and 7 seed Tomas Berdych.
Madrid Finalist Berdych starts off against either Lukasz Kubot or Italian wild card Potito Starace before a probable 2nd round match up with either Almagro (some bad blood there), fellow big man Marin Cilic or Jarkko Nieminen (or a qualifier). If he reaches the quarters and gets Nadal, that could also be a very testy match.
4 seed Andy Murray will seek to recover from a back injury that kept him out of Madrid. He starts against either David Nalbandian or a qualifier before facing either Gasquet, Melzer, WC Paolo Lorenzi or Nikolay Davydenko. He could later face David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, Alexandr Dolgopolov or Gilles Simon in the quarters. All difficult match ups.
Ferrer, the 5 seed, will start off with either countryman Verdasco or Dolgopolov before a likely match up with 11 seed Gilles Simon. A very difficult draw for him.
Dark Horse: Gilles Simon
Simon, the 11 seed, who last took the title in Bucharest, will start fresh against the slumping Donald Young before a likely 2nd round match up with Pablo Andujar. If he can get through that, he will be the underdog in a likely match up with David Ferrer, but like Ferrer, he has performed well on clay this year and will have more than a puncher’s chance. If he can pull off the upset in that one, he gets the recently inconsistent Andy Murray or Richard Gasquet and, like Ferrer, he would be favored in both match ups.
Djokovic d. Federer (a possible world no 1 vs. world no 2. match up)
Nadal d. Ferrer (could be another of their classic battles this year)
Nadal d. Djokovic
Rafa should be fighting hard to recover from his loss in Madrid and to prepare himself for another French Open run while Djokovic seeks to do the same.
By Steen Kirby, TennisEast Coast.com
Rafael Nadal extended his amazing winning streak in the month of April to 77 matches, taking the Barcelona title once again over David Ferrer in grinding fashion 7-6 7-5. In addition to the win streak, he also becomes the 1st man to ever win 2 tournaments 7 times in a row (Monte Carlo and Barcelona).
Nadal had an easy week, rolling over fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, former USC standout Robert Farah of Colombia, top 10 player Janko Tipsarevic and a thrashing of compatriot Fernando Verdasco that bared little resemblance to some of their more memorable encounters (AO 2009), before toppling Ferrer in the all-Spanish final today. Verdasco had taken out Steve Darcis, Kevin Anderson and Kei Nishikori, who was forced to retire during their match before running into the Nadal steamroller.
Ferrer had another fine performance on clay that was spirited but once again fell short against Rafa. He beat Filip Krajinovic, who had notched his first ATP win since coming back from shoulder surgery in the previous round over wild card Inigo Cervantes. Then came the win against always-dangerous Albert Montanes, who had knocked off 15 seed Bernard Tomic in the previous round. He then played a quarterfinals thriller against countryman Feliciano Lopez where he saved 3 match points and survived a 2nd set tiebreak after losing the 1st set, finally triumphing 6-7 7-6 6-3 after a dejected Lopez faded in the 3rd set. It took him 2 tiebreaks to finish off surprise semi-finalist Milos Raonic in the semis.
Raonic, the 11 seed, started off his surprise run in Barcelona taking out one of the 3 Colombians in the draw Alejandro Falla. Next up was veteran Russian Igor Andreev, then 6 seed Nicolas Almagro, and an upset of 2 seed Andy Murray to reach the semis. Murray had played good matches against Sergiy Stakhovsky and Santiago Giraldo, but he struggled against the big serving Raonic and continues his inconsistent play on clay.
The Polish duo of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski won the Barcelona doubles title over home favorites Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez.
Top seed Gilles Simon took the title in Bucharest with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Italian Fabio Fognini.
Simon was in control all week, notching victories over Dudi Sela, Lukasz Kubot and German Matthias Bachinger, a surprise semifinalist.
Bachinger, who notched wins over Filippo Voldari, 4 seed Viktor Troicki, and fellow German Daniel Brands to reach the semis. He was joined by another surprise semifinalist, 23-year-old qualifier Attila Balazs of Hungary (ranked outside the top 400), who knocked off Lukas Lacko, Potito Starace, “X-man” Xaiver Malisse (who himself had knocked off the defending champion and 2 seed Florian Mayer of Germany in the previous round) before he fell to Fognini. To reach the final, Fognini took out 5 seed Marcos Baghdatis, 6 seed Andreas Seppi and Balazs.
It will be interesting to see if all these players can build upon their performances in Bucharest and make some more noise during the clay court season. Simon is another Roland Garros dark horse pick who has been playing some of his best clay court tennis so far.
Top seeds Robert Lindstedt and Romania’s own Horia Tecau won the doubles title in Bucharest over Jeremy Chardy and Lukasz Kubot.
In other news and notes, American Andrey Kuznetsov (Russian by birth) won the Napoli challenger and Brian Baker will take on Augustin Gensse in the Savannah Challenger final. Baker, who continues his comeback from retirement, also earned the French Open Wild Card and will be making an appearance in the main draw at Roland Garros.
The ATP world tour now heads to Munich, Belgrade and Estoril.
2012 Barcelona Open Preview
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell
ATP World Tour 500
April 23-29, 2012
Prize Money: € 1,627,500
The ATP World Tour 500 series tournament in Barcelona on clay kicks off today as top seed Rafael Nadal, fresh off a record-setting 8th straight victory in Monte Carlo, tries for his 7th title in Barcelona on home soil. While the Barcelona field was slightly weakened by the withdraw of 4 seed Tomas Berdych, a quarterfinalist in Monte Carlo (shoulder injury), who joins the 2 other players who withdrew from the main draw and were replaced by lucky losers, Thomaz Bellucci and Juan Ignacio Chela, but it is still a field that features 4 top 10 players and stellar group of Spaniards playing on home soil.
Top 8 Seeds (who all receive 1st round byes)
1: Rafael Nadal
2: Andy Murray
3: David Ferrer
5: Janko Tipsarevic
6: Nicolas Almagro
8: Kei Nishikori
9: Fernando Verdasco (replaces Berdych)
1st round matchups to watch:
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs. Olivier Rochus
The Spaniard Garcia-Lopez, who pulled off an upset of Andy Murray earlier in the year takes on the always fun to watch Olivier Rochus of Belgium.
Malek Jaziri vs. Kevin Anderson
Jaziri, the most successful North African tennis player since Younes El Aynaoui and the first Tunisian player to ever reach the top 100, takes on lanky South African Kevin Anderson trying to pull off an upset. Jaziri also gave Jo-Wilfried Tsonga a real battle in Dubai a few months back.
Paolo Lorenzi vs. Flavio Cipolla
Lorenzi, who reached the final of the challenger in Sarasota this week losing to Sam Querrey, takes on his countryman Flavio Cipolla in an Italian battle. Both players are streaky and have produced some good wins in the past.
Bernard Tomic vs. Ernest Gulbis
In a battle of present vs. past, rising young gun Tomic takes on the consistently inconsistent Gulbis in a battle of young talent that could come down to the mental game more than anything.
Top seed Nadal is a heavy favorite in a seed line that could feature match ups with ATP Casablanca champ Pablo Andujar and Janko Tipsarevic, among others. Rafa will start with either Garcia-Lopez or the tricky Rochus in the 2nd round before a possible 3rd round match-up with Andujar.
Tipsarevic will get either Rui Machado of Portugal or Victor Hanescu of Romania in the 2nd round before a possible 3rd round match up with 12 seed Marcel Granollers. The winner will likely face Nadal in the quarters.
Fernando Verdasco, a former champion and the 9 seed who replaced Tomas Berdych and receives a 1st round bye will have to deal with either Andrey Golubev or Steve Darcis before a possible 3rd round match up with Kevin Anderson.
Albert Ramos, the ATP Casablanca runner-up, faces German Andreas Beck in the 1st round before a possible match-up with Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic or Benoit Paire of France. If he advances, he could get 8 seed Kei Nishikori in the 3rd round.
Nishikori will play either Mikhail Kukushkin, who played well in Monte Carlo last week. or Daniel Gimeno-Traver, another of the numerous Spaniards in the draw before a possible match-up with Ramos. The winner likely advances to face Verdasco in the quarters.
2 seed Andy Murray will serve it up again on clay facing either Sergiy Stakhovsky or Evgeny Donskoy, a lucky loser in the 2nd round before a possible match-up with Denis Istomin, Colombian clay courter Santiago Giraldo, qualifier Sergei Bubka of Ukraine or Dutchman Robin Haase in a wide open part of the draw if he makes it through that he could face Nicolas Almagro in the quarters.
Almagro, who lost to Stanislas Wawrinka last week in Monte Carlo, starts off with either Stephane Robert or Edouard Roger-Vasselin before a possible match-up with the recently inconsistent Milos Raonic who has struggled on clay. Igor Andreev of Russia, who has one of the best forehands in the game, is also in this seed line.
3 seed David Ferrer will face either wild card Filip Krajinovic of Serbia or wild card Inigo Cervantes before a possible match-up with either Tomic or another Spaniard who is at home on clay Albert Montanes.
The “forgotten” 7th seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who has had some good but somewhat unheralded results this year, especially on clay, will take on either Cipolla or Lorenzi in the 2nd round before a possible match-up with 10 seed Radek Stepanek or Jarkko Nieminen of Finland. That would probably be followed by a match-up with Ferrer in the quarters that should be fun to watch.
Dark Horse: Albert Ramos
The Casablanca finalist who recently broke into the top 50 plays his best on clay has a tough but manageable draw of Andreas Beck, Paire or Rosol and then a likely rematch with the man who beat him last week in Monte Carlo, Kei Nishikori. He would then face Verdasco or other in the quarters. If he can get through that, he likely has to deal with Rafa but he has at least a punchers chance in all his matches.
Predictions: (it could be an all-Spanish semi-finals and final showdown)
Nadal d. Verdasco
Ferrer d. Almagro
Nadal d. Ferrer
On one other note, the USTA Pro Circuit is in Savannah this week.
Davis Cup Weekend Recap
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Spain d. Austria 4-1
The Spanish Armada started off hot and finished strong, crushing the men in red with Nicolas Almagro notching a straight sets win over Austrian workhorse Jurgen Melzer and David Ferrer also taking out Austrian no. 2 Andreas Haider-Maurer in straights on Friday.
The Austrians only victory in the tie was in the doubles rubber where Oliver Marach and Alexander Peya were able to beat Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez in 4 long sets. Any semblance of hope for the Austrians after the doubles win on Saturday was quickly erased by David Ferrer though, who beat Melzer in straights, followed by Almagro beating Peya in the dead rubber, and the Spanish cruise in the semis where they will face the USA at home.
USA d. France 3-2
John Isner carried the weekend for the US, taking out Gilles Simon in 3 sets on Friday and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 4 sets today to clinch the tie for the US. The Bryans also came up big for the US, winning the doubles rubber over Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra in straights on Saturday. The only weak link for the Americans was fill in Ryan Harrison, who lost both his matches, first to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who temporarily put the French up 1-0 early on in the tie on Friday, and later to Gilles Simon in the dead 5th rubber today.
It’s another big clay court and Davis Cup win for Isner, who is back in the top 10 again and will certainly be counted on to lead the US against Spain in the semis, which will most certainly be on clay as well. With the way Isner is playing right now, he is being mentioned by many as a possible French Open dark horse as well. It’s another Davis Cup disappointment for the French, though, who lost at home on their preferred surface in what was the final tie for their retiring captain Guy Forget. Jo Wilfried-Tsonga, who is back in the top 5 now, also heads into the Monte Carlo masters in a week disappointed.
Czech Republic d. Serbia 4-1
The Czechs took out the Serbians in Prague with victories by Tomas Berdych over a slumping Viktor Troicki in straights on Friday, a doubles victory by Berdych and Radek Stepanek on Saturday and a tie clinching victory by Berdych over Serbian no. 1 Janko Tipsarevic In straights today. Lukas Rosol beat Troicki today in straights in the dead rubber as well. This tie also got a lot of attention for what happened on Friday between Radek Stepanek and Janko Tipsarevic. Tipsarevic evened up the tie for a time beating Stepanek in a thrilling 5 sets 5-7 6-4 6-4 4-6 9-7, but it was a very cut throat match and at the end of Tipsarevic and Stepanek looked like they were going to have a physical altercation after an angry Stepanek flipped Tipsarevic the bird and called him a derogatory name. The drama continued into the pressers but it appears things have been sorted out between to the two guys and luckily (or unluckily depending on your disposition) no physical fighting occurred. The Czechs move on to face Argentina in the semis.
Argentina d. Croatia 4-1
The Argentines recovered from an opening rubber loss by the traditional Davis Cup top performer David Nalbandian to Croatian no. 1 Marin Cilic in a 5+ hours, 5 set, 200+ unforced errors match to beat the Croatians in Buenos Aires. Juan Martin Del Potro notched a straight sets win over fellow hard serving big man Ivo Karlovic in the other match on Friday, while Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank won the doubles rubber in 5 sets over Cilic and Karlovic. Del Potro closed out the tie for Argentina, beating Cilic in straights while Juan Monaco won the dead rubber over Antonio Vecic with ease.
It was a couple of huge wins for Del Potro to carry his team through, even though he was suffering from severe allergy symptoms on Friday and their were questions as to whether he would be able to play. The Argentines will face the Czechs at home in what is sure to be a blockbuster semi final match up.
In other Davis Cup ties over the weekend, Uzbekistan led by Dennis Istomin beat India 3-2 (winning all the live rubbers but losing the final 2 dead rubbers), Australia, led by Delray finalist Marinko Matosevic and Bernard Tomic swept South Korea 5-0. Israel, led by Dudi Sela, beat Portugal 3-2, a talented Belgium beat a weakened Great Britain 4-1, the Netherlands led by Robin Haase swept Romania who suffered from a player boycott due to the dismissal of former captain Andrei Pavel (you can read more about it here) 5-0 and South Africa beat Blaz Kavic and Slovenia 4-1. All the winning squads mentioned above, in addition to either Chile or Uruguay and Brazil or Colombia (ties which still have live rubbers to play today) will move onto the world group playoffs for a spot in next years Davis Cup world group.
With a third round record of 12-4, any prognosticator would want to rest on his laurels. Not Boys Latin Coach Magee. From here, the waters get rough, but he’s taking the plunge. These picks are for amusement purposes only:
Simon over Isner
Murray over Young
Ferrer over Roddick (as much as it kills Coach to say it)
Nadal over Muller
Djokovic over Dolgolopov
Ferrero over Tipsy
Federer over Monaco
Fish over Tsonga – Tough call
Coach believes that Fish’s game, unlike most newly married players, has sharpened with matrimony. Between his newly found fitness, winning the US Open Series and the New York crowd behind him, he is becoming America’s newest superhero, MARRIED MARTY MAN.