Tsonga Returns To Top 10 by Beating Four of the Top 10 to Win Rogers Cup

ATP Toronto

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had a resurgent week at the Rogers Cup in Toronto and after a 7-5 7-6 victory over Roger Federer, will return to the top 10 for the first time since March. The title in Toronto the second career masters title for the charismatic Frenchman and his first title overall of the 2014 campaign.

Tsonga beat four of the top 10 this week posting big wins over Novak Djokovic in straights, Andy Murray in 3 sets and Grigor Dimitrov in straights in consecutive matches to reach the final. He also beat Jeremy Chardy and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the second and first rounds respectively. After being in a noticeable decline all season, a return to elite quality for Tsonga comes as a surprise and throws a wrench in what many fans and pundits thought about him and his game as of late. Tsonga has struggled to stay healthy, but he clearly has talent and he could pose a dangerous threat at the US Open in a couple of weeks. He looked fresh and his forehand and serve were clicking as he moved his opponents well to win matches, he truly was a dominant virile player this week, and his play was a throwback to his earlier promise.

Federer also had a strong week, even though he’ll be disappointed by his play in the final, He reached his third masters final of the season (0-3 record now) with wins over Peter Polansky in straights, Marin Cilic in 3 sets, David Ferrer in 3 sets and Feliciano Lopez, a surprise semifinalist in straight sets. Fed does not appear to be ready to fall out of the top 5 anytime soon and he hit circles around most of his opponents this week, along with showing superior mental fortitude and shot selection.

Federer vs Lopez and Tsonga vs Dimitrov highlights

Alex Peya and Bruno Soares beat the renewed team of Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo to win the doubles title this week.

—Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

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2014 ATP Clay Court Season In Review

2014 ATP Clay Court Season In Review
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast


In review: The 2014 ATP Clay Court Season

After Kitzbuhel concluded last week, the clay court calendar portion of the 2014 ATP season came to an end. With that conclusion, we can now review which players performed the best, and which players underachieved on the dirt this season. Clay courts comprise a large portion of the ATP calendar so there is a much larger sample size to draw from compared to, say, the grass court season.

Biggest clay court surprise: Leonardo Mayer

27 year old journeyman Argentine Leonardo Mayer has transformed himself into a top 30 player this season and his best results have come on clay. He posted 18 wins on the surface compared to just 10 losses this season at the ATP level and scored wins over household names David Ferrer, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Joao Sousa and Tommy Robredo on the surface; he also pushed top 6 player Tomas Berdych to three sets in Oeiras.

He reached his first career final in Vina Del Mar, but fell short against Fabio Fognini there, and he finally got his maiden title in Hamburg over Ferrer in 3 sets. Winning that final set tiebreak ended a long journey to the top 30 for Leo and he remains an under recognized and underappreciated Argentine player. With Del Potro perpetually injured and Nalbandian now retired, Argentine will have to look to the likes of Mayer to carry Davis Cup and national hopes for a while. He reached the third round of the French Open and had quarterfinal appearances in both Oeiras and Nice to round out his best results on clay for 2014.

Honorable mentions for clay court surprise: Carlos Berlocq, Santiago Giraldo, Kei Nishikori, Roberto Bautista Agut

Carlos Berlocq joins his countryman Mayer as a surprising player this season. He won an ATP title for the second year in a row, this time coming in Oeiras where he upset and outlasted Tomas Berdych. The loud and flamboyant dirtballer also posted quarterfinals in Nice and a semifinal in Bastad to compliment his win in Oeiras. This highlights an overall 16-9 record on clay at the ATP level for 2014. He tends to get overmatched in the masters level and grand slam events but against a 250 level field he often flourishes. Notable opponents he defeated this year on clay include Andreas Seppi, Milos Raonic, Ferrer and Lleyton Hewitt at the French, along with the aforementioned Berdych.

Santiago Giraldo, a shotmaking Colombian with a huge forehand, has also had some of the best success of his career this season. He went 19-11 on clay and though he did not win a title, he reached the final in Barcelona, his second career final, along with semis in Houston and Vina Del Mar, and a pair of quarterfinals in Madrid and Stuttgart. Giraldo beat top players Tommy Robredo, Andy Murray, Nicolas Almagro, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga this season. Giraldo joins Mayer as a first time top 30 player after success on clay.

Kei Nishikori had an underappreciated clay court season this year, partially due to the fact that he had to battle injuries during that portion of the season, He played just three tournaments but posted a 10-2 record in them with a title in Barcelona and a final in Madrid, where he took a set off Nadal but had to retire during the third set of the match. He had top tier wins over Roberto Bautista Agut, Marin Cilic, Ferrer, Ernests Gulbis, and Raonic among his 10 overall and should he be able to stay healthy he has shown himself to be a threat on clay.

Bautista Agut is the last player I’ll discuss. He went 12-5 on clay and won his first title on the surface in Stuttgart over Lukas Rosol. Success on clay has helped him reach the top 20 for the first time in his career and he beat Robredo, Fernando Verdasco, and Fognini this year on the surface. RBA doesn’t play prototypical Spanish tennis but he’s still a top performing Spaniard on red clay.

Biggest upset: ATP Barcelona quarterfinals: Nicolas Almagro d. Rafael Nadal 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4

The powerful Spaniard Almagro had been outclassed by his much more successful countryman Nadal eight previous times on clay. Finally, Nico was able to get a victory against perhaps the greatest clay courter of all time. The first set was a routine affair, but Almagro fought back hard and Rafa played poorly, resulting in Nadal’s first loss on clay after winning the first set in over six years. Nadal had his chances to close out the match in the second, and didn’t face break points himself, but he couldn’t convert and the tiebreak went against him, giving Almagro an opening he took advantage of by winning a decisive fifth and final break in the third set to seal the victory. Nadal struggled to win his service points, and at the time, many were deeply worried about how he was playing going into the French Open. The fact Rafa did win the French perhaps makes this victory by Almagro look even more improbable and top quality, given Rafa showed his career wasn’t in serious decline yet.

Clay court breakthroughs: Dominic Thiem, Alex Zverev and Dusan Lajovic

A trio of young players found maiden ATP success on clay, while new Austrian number one Dominic Thiem was a mere 12-8 on clay at the ATP level. He went 4-0 in qualifying matches on the surface and won multiple main draw matches in Barcelona, Madrid and Hamburg. He finally reached his first career ATP final on home soil in Kitzbuhel and appears very close to his first career ATP title. Thiem had notable wins over Radek Stepanek and Stan Wawrinka this year on clay.

Alex Zverev, a teenager, notably made the semifinals in Hamburg, a one off showing but clearly a sign of things to come for the young German. Zverev had wins over Mikhail Youzhny and Giraldo en route. I have a feeling Thiem vs. Zverev may develop into a clay court rivalry in the future. Both players have things to work on but we could have a Germany vs. Austria French Open final come 2018 or beyond.

Dusan Lajovic established himself as a top 70 player with a strong clay court season. He also established himself as the Serbian number 2 behind Djokovic and should feature on their Davis Cup team for quite some time. He went 14-11 in both ATP main draw action and qualifying on clay this season and along with quarters in Hamburg and Bastad, he reached the round of 16 at the French Open, his best ever result in a major. He didn’t beat many top names this season but he still proved he can grind out matches to increase his ranking.

Clay Court Disappointments: Tommy Robredo, Stan Wawrinka, Gilles Simon, Joao Sousa and Andreas Seppi

The well-liked veteran Spaniard Robredo went just 15-12 this year on clay after going a tremendous 25-10 on the surface in 2013. His age may finally be catching up with him as he reached just one final, one semi and one quarterfinal this season along with posting seven early round exits. Once he finishes this season he will have a lot to think about going into to 2015.

Wawrinka did not have a terrible clay court season, but he underachieved after high expectations were placed on him after winning his first grand slam in Australia at the start of the year. He won Monte Carlo, but that was the only highlight of his 6-3 clay court season. He had a trio of surprising early exits in Madrid, Rome and the French Open, and next season he will have much to gain during the clay court portion of the year. He posted a 43-17 record on clay over the previous two seasons before this one and has the ability to do much better than he did in 2014.

Veteran Frenchman Gilles Simon has struggled to stay healthy in 2014 and he had a disappointing clay court season that has contributed to his fall from the top 30. He won consecutive matches in a clay court tournament just twice this season and failed to beat any players ranked above him on the surface. He also had bad losses to Teymuraz Gabashvili, Lukasz Kubot and Pablo Andujar. He was a subpar 8-9 on the surface overall in 2014. ‘

After a breakthrough 2013, top Portugese player Joao Sousa was a disappointing 7-13 on clay in 2014, struggling against ATP level competition on the surface. He reached one quarterfinal and one final but suffered ten opening match exits and eleven early round exists overall with multiple losses to players ranked below him. Sousa will need to improve considerably and adjust his game if he hopes to be more successful on clay in the future.

After struggling on clay in 2013, Italian veteran Andreas Seppi did so again in 2014. He is just 18-22 on the surface over the past two seasons and was 11-12 this season. He failed to reach a semifinal in any clay court tournament this year.

First time winners: Federico Delbonis, David Goffin and Pablo Cuevas

23 year old Argentine Federico Delbonis won his maiden title in Sao Paulo and has been successful on clay overall this season, posting an 18-13 ATP record. He later made a final in Nice, semifinals in Casablanca and a quarterfinal in Stuttgart to complement his Sao Paulo victory. Delbonis also showed his prowess on the red stuff last season when he reached the final in Hamburg and he should be a name to watch in many clay court tournaments to come.

David Goffin snagged a maiden title in Kitzbuhel at the tail end of the clay court season after getting red hot on the ATP Challenger Tour prior. Goffin, who had that run to the fourth round as a qualifier at the 2012 French Open, and has seen his once promising career fade from the spotlight since then, returned to the challenger tour to find his game and hopefully he will be able to keep himself at the ATP level this time. Goffin is undersized and many players were able to hit him off the court at the top level but perhaps he has rediscovered a path to success for himself given the limitations of his physical stature.

Lastly, Pablo Cuevas, who has overcome multiple knee and shoulder injuries and built his ranking back up to ATP status from the challenger tour, won his maiden title at 28 years old in Bastad, then followed it up with a title in Umag a couple of weeks later. Cuevas makes his living on clay and has been rapidly improving as of late. He pushed Fernando Verdasco to five sets at the French Open and has wins over Robredo, Fognini, Seppi, Sousa, and Verdasco this season. Cuevas’ rise is a testament to his tenacity and the work he has put into his game.

2014 ATP Rogers Cup Preview, Predictions

2014 ATP Rogers Cup Preview, Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

The first of two Masters 1000 level events on the Emirates Airlines US Open Series will take place this year in Toronto starting Monday. Most of the big names are in action and it is the first tune up for many of them before the US Open.

Rogers Cup 2014

ATP Toronto
Rogers Cup
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Toronto, Canada
August 4-August 10, 2014
Prize Money: $3,766,270

Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)

1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Roger Federer (3)
3: Stan Wawrinka (4)
4: Tomas Berdych (5)
5: David Ferrer (6)
6: Milos Raonic (7)
7: Grigor Dimitrov (8)
8: Andy Murray (10)

Notably missing from the tournament are defending champion and world number 2 Rafael Nadal with a wrist injury, and top 40 players Fernando Verdasco, Nicolas Almagro and Dmitry Tursunov. Juan Martin Del Potro, Alex Dolgopolov, and Tommy Haas are also notable names we aren’t likely to see again this season.

First round matchups to watch:

Radek Stepanek vs. Gael Monfils

Stepanek was upset early in DC and seeks to rebound, while Monfils is finally beginning his post Wimbledon campaign. Both players are seeking to stay healthy and do well, and the style contrast will be fun in this one. They have met many times before and Monfils holds a 5-3 edge in the overall h2h, with it tied 2-2 on outdoor hard courts, the last meetings coming in 2011. I could see this going either way but I’m leaning towards picking Monfils to prevail.

(12)Richard Gasquet vs. Vasek Pospisil

Pospisil now has won two meetings against Gasquet, and he just beat him in the DC semis on Saturday, in that match Gasquet got off to a good start but let his advantage slip in the next two sets and bowed out in a 7-5 third set. The advantage should swing back to Gasquet for this meeting though, as I’m favoring the Frenchman to get his first win in the series because he did return to form in Washington DC after being on a cold streak for a while, and Pospisil, under the pressure of playing at home and defending semifinal points here, is likely to be fatigued after playing so much tennis this past week in DC. That slight change in circumstances, along with Gasquet being a motivated former finalist twice at the Rogers Cup, should make this match even more interesting.

Ivo Karlovic vs. (Q)Bernard Tomic

Another reprisal of a recent high stakes match, Tomic beat Karlovic in three sets by winning a pair of tiebreaks to win the title in Bogota, and will get the big serving Croat again as a qualifier in the Toronto first round. He has two other previous wins over Ivo outside of the Bogota meeting, and does seem to have the formula to get past Dr. Ivo’s serve and volley game

Santiago Giraldo vs. (WC)Nick Kyrgios

DC quarterfinalist Santiago Giraldo, who has had a solid season and is a big hitting shotmaker from the baseline, will do battle with the passionate and fiery Kyrgios, who as a wild card will be playing his first Masters tournament match in Toronto. The young Kyrgios has a heap of talent, great composure and a lot of eyes on him right now as he seeks to follow up his career result at Wimbledon where he beat Nadal and reached the quarterfinals. The winner will meet Andy Murray and this one should be an excellent match full of shotmaking highlights, I favor Kyrgios to get through in 3 sets.

Kevin Anderson vs. (Q)Thanasi Kokkinakis

Young Aussies Kokkinakis and Kyrgios could both win their ATP Masters main draw debuts in Toronto. Kokkinakis, who qualified and has had a good few weeks at the challenger level on hard courts will face the big serving Anderson, who is a solid hard court player but has been down in recent weeks, as he exited earlier than expected in DC, and was upset in his opening match in Atlanta as well. Kokkinakis will have to hold his serve and return well, as Anderson will put a lot of pressure on him with his serve/forehand combo that is elite, but he has a punchers chance if he can keep his nose ahead in the match.

Top Half:

Three time Rogers Cup champion and odds on favorite for a fourth, Novak Djokovic, will face Stepanek/Monfils to start, and then likely Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is making his post Wimbledon debut and looking for a stronger third quarter of his season, in round 3. Tsonga must defeat Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Jeremy Chardy/Federico Delbonis to get to that stage. Djokovic has owned Tsonga in recent years and that trend should continue.

Andy Murray, who is also making his post Wimbledon debut, and seeking to make a move back up the rankings with a strong hard court summer, will face Kyrgios/Giraldo in a big round 2 test, and should he survive he will face Gasquet/Pospisil or Karlovic/Tomic in round 3. It’s a tough draw for Murray but he should be rested and motivated, look for him to get through to meet Djokovic in the quarters.

Stan Wawrinka, also looking to put up a solid result in his post Wimbledon campaign resumption, will face Benoit Paire or Alejandro Falla in round 2. Paire, who had to qualify here, is best friends with Wawrinka and I doubt one will enjoy having to eliminate the other from the tournament should they meet. Look for Wawrinka against one of Kokkinakis/Anderson/Mikhail Youzhny/Fabio Fognini in round 3. Youzhny and Fognini are both struggling, so Kokkinakis/Anderson have a nice chance at making the third round, and Wawrinka should be favored through to the quarterfinals.

Grigor Dimitrov, hopefully healthy again, is also making his post-Wimbledon debut and has had a breakout season. The top Bulgarian may be tested by an in-form Donald Young in round 2, assuming the DC semifinalist Young can defeated Canadian wild card Frank Dancevic. Young made his first semi since 2011 in DC, but assuming Dimitrov is healthy I think he has too much game for the American baseliner (the h2h surprisingly is tied 2-2 and Young leads 2-1 on hard courts). Dimitrov/Young is slated to face one of Tommy Robredo/Philipp Kohlschreiber/Gilles Simon/Dominic Thiem in round 3. Robredo and Kohlschreiber are both struggling veterans, as is Simon, who may also be injured, while Thiem should be tired after playing in the Kitzbuhel final. Someone has to reach round 3 though and Kohlschreiber or Thiem is most likely to do so. Dimitrov/Young are quarterfinalist favorites in this section.

Bottom Half:

Roger Federer, seeking to win his third Rogers Cup, will open with Peter Polansky or Jerzy Janowicz, and should get his first big test against Marin Cilic in round 3. Cilic has been good on multiple surfaces this season, including hard courts and is close to reaching the best level of his career. He has never beaten Federer (0-4 last meeting in 2012) and would need to get past Denis Istomin and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez/Marinko Matosevic, a trio of players who can pull upsets on hard courts, to setup a fifth shot at Federer, but the match should at least be competitive if they meet. Look for Federer to be a quarterfinalist out of his section.

David Ferrer has had a down year this season and is on pace to have fewer wins and more losses than in any of his previous four seasons on tour. He was upset here in his first match last year and though Nicolas Mahut/Michael Russell don’t look like difficult opening match tests, Ferrer has shown he is vulnerable to being upset by journeyman over the past two seasons. He is carrying an elbow injury according to media reports but did not withdraw from the tournament like those reports suggested. If he’s not healthy, an already out of form Ferrer, who seems to have hit the wall, could be upset in his first match, if not look for 10 seed John Isner to send him home in round 3.

Isner seeks to bounce back from a disappointing showing in DC and he faces big server Ivan Dodig, playing his first match since the French Open after being injured, in round 1, Dodig should be unprepared to deal with Isner who plays a similar style as himself, and Isner should get through to face Andreas Seppi/Brayden Schnur in round 2. Canadian qualifier Schnur is making his ATP debut this week after working his way up through college tennis and the challenger circuit. Look for a Federer vs. Isner quarterfinal this week.

Tomas Berdych, another top 10 name who is struggling and was upset early in DC as the top seed, faces Rendy Lu or Marcel Granollers in his first match, and assumingly should advance to round 3 against most likely Roberto Bautista Agut who upset him earlier this spring in Indian Wells. RBA has two titles this season and is close to reaching the top 15 in ranking, he faces a struggling Feliciano Lopez in round 1, and then Tim Smyczek/Tobias Kamke in round 2 before a likely Berdych meeting. Smyczek tore it up in qualifying and is looking to have a resurgent result after slogging through a difficult 2014 season thus far. I look for Bautista Agut to beat Berdych again and reach the quarterfinals.

Defending finalist and DC champ Milos Raonic, one of the two prides of Canada along with Pospisil this week, will have a quick turnaround against Jack Sock/Jurgen Melzer in round 2. Raonic beat Sock in DC winning a pair of tiebreaks last week and overall he has beaten the American 3 times this year and four times overall, losing to him once in their maiden meeting in February 2013. The in form wild card Sock should beat Melzer who was playing on the clay of Kitzbuhel this week, and I give him a good chance against Raonic as well. Milos is likely to be tired and all of their previous head to head meetings have been relatively close. With Sock playing some of the best tennis of his young career right now, beating Raonic would be a stellar result for him. Raonic/Sock are likely to face Ernests Gulbis, always a dangerous lurker, in round 3. Gulbis must defeat Joao Sousa and Lleyton Hewitt/Julien Benneteau to reach that stage. Gulbis vs. Hewitt would be an entertaining and fiery round 2 encounter with Gulbis being slightly favored, they have never met before. This is probably the most open section of the draw and cases can be made for Raonic, Sock, Gulbis and Hewitt to be quarterfinalists.

Dark Horses: Donald Young and Jack Sock

American players have a great chance to post some surprising results at the Rogers Cup this week with Isner, Russell, Smyczek and two players I’ll spotlight for this tournament as dark horses, Young and Sock all having reasonable draws on paper.Young would need to beat Dimitrov but could reach the quarterfinals if he does so as the draw opens up until it gets to Wawrinka. Sock must beat Raonic and Gulbis/Hewitt as discussed, but he could also reach the quarterfinals where Bautista-Agut/Berdych are likely opponents. Sock has a more favorable potential quarterfinal opponent of the two dark horses this week.

Predictions

Quarters:
Djokovic d. Murray
Wawrinka d. Dimitrov
Bautista Agut d. Gulbis
Federer d. Isner

Djokovic beat Murray this season in Miami and he is a gear above the Scot right now, Murray could make it competitive but I don’t see him winning. Dimitrov had no trouble with Wawrinka this season on grass but Wawrinka won their only hard court meeting in 2011 and though it’s a very difficult pick, I’m going with Stan by just a hair, probably in 3 sets. In the hardest to predict quarter, I’m going against the 3-0 h2h in favor of Gulbis, including two wins this season, and picking Bautista Agut. The Spaniard is improving and has had better recent results than Ernie, also their two meetings this season went 3 sets and having watched them both, they were competitive contests where either player could have prevailed based upon just a few points. Federer should be a gear above Isner as well, and he has a 4-1 h2h advantage in that matchup.

 

Semis:
Djokovic d. Wawrinka
Federer d. Bautista Agut

Stan and Nole have an excellent rivalry going, one of the best in the game currently, and should they reprise it in Toronto, Novak should have the advantage. He’s been the legitimate number one this season and has been elite all year, Wawrinka got him at the AO, but in a best of 3 sets format given both current form and mindset, Novak has to be favored like he has been in all of their previous head to head meetings, a vast majority of which he has won.

Fed and RBA have never met but Federer is the better player and should win.

Final:
Djokovic d. Federer

With Nadal out, the spotlight shifts to Djokovic and Fed this week in Toronto, they contested a very competitive Wimbledon final, along with three other tournament matches this season, all of which came in the semis or final of a tournament. The h2h this season is split 2-2, and on outdoor hard court Djokovic won in 3 sets in Indian Wells, and before that Federer won in 3 sets in Dubai. Things are very close between these two titans of the sport almost every time they meet to do battle, however a slight edge seems to be favoring Djokovic right now and I’m picking him as the champ this week. ]

Also I’d like to introduce a friendly battle of the brackets between myself and our new ATP Challenger Tour journalist at Tennis East Coast, Chris De Waard, I’ll be including Chris’ weekly picks for the ATP tournaments on my preview posts and we will keep track of our selections compared to the actual results of the tournaments, at the end of the season the winner gets a prize yet to be named.

Chris De Waard’s Picks:

Quarters:
Djokovic d. Murray
Wawrinka d. Dimitrov
Raonic d. Bautista Agut
Federer d. Ferrer

Semis:
Djokovic d. Wawrinka
Federer d. Raonic

Final:
Djokovic d. Federer

Nadal Remains Undefeated on Hardcourts in 2013, Cruises @CoupeRogers Montreal

Nadal Remains Undefeated on Hardcourts in 2013, Cruises @CoupeRogers Montreal

Nadal 4

Rafael Nadal made quick work of local favorite Milos Raonic in the Montreal Masters final, winning 6-2, 6-2 in 68 minutes. The title is his 25th overall Masters title, his 3rd Rogers Cup title and his 4th Masters title this year. The wins keep mounting for Rafa and he only has 3 losses to his name so far this year.

Nadal 2013 Montreal

He added wins this week over Jesse Levine, Jerzy Janowicz and Marinko Matosevic in straights, before needing 3 sets to take care of Novak Djokovic, as he dominated both the first set and the final set tiebreak. In the Janowicz match, JJ had a chance to take the opening set but Rafa denied him. As mentioned, he dropped just the single set to Djokovic this week.

Nadal 2013 Montreal

Raonic passed a milestone in his career this week and he is now inside the top 10 after reaching his first Masters final at home in front of pumped Canadian fans. This run also came out of nowhere really, as his form going in had been quite poor. He beat Jeremy Chardy in 3 sets, eking out a first round win, then dispatched Mikhail Youzhny and Ernests Gulbis before meeting the Canadian #2 and fellow career climber Vasek Pospisil. The All-Canadian semifinal took 3 sets and a final set tiebreak, but Raonic would be the sturdier player, and relied on his serve and forehand to carry him throughout the week.

In doubles, Alex Peya and Bruno Soares won their first Masters title over Colin Fleming and the usual singles player Andy Murray, who did better in doubles this week than he did in singles. He also added some flavor to the usually undercard doubles event. Nadal also participated in doubles with Pablo Andujar but withdrew during the tournament.

@Sorana_Cirstea Tears Through Toronto to Reach 1st Final in 5 Years @RogersCupTo

Sorana Cirstea Tears Through Toronto to Reach 1st Final in 5 Years #RogersCupTo

Cirstea, Washington 2013

She’s been on the radar to some degree for a while now. This year alone, she made the semis at Pattaya and Stanford, the quarterfinals at Birmingham, and the Round of 16 at Charleston and Miami. Now everyone knows her name, but they still can’t pronounce it.

Today, Cirstea (Keer-stay-uh) advanced to her first final in five years in a solid 6-1, 7-6(5) beating of Na Li at Rogers Cup in Toronto. Tomorrow, she’ll face either Agnieszka Radwanska or Serena Williams in her first ever Premier 5 Final.

 

Cirstea was ranked #26 to begin the week, and will move into the top 20 as a result of trashing the Toronto field. She has torn through Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic, Petra Kvitova and Na Li, and that’s just since Monday. If anyone can stop the unstoppable Serena Williams, she has the best chance. Serena does have a 2-0 H2H against Cirstea, with Serena dominating both contests at 2012 Stanford and this year at Roland Garros. That record is a heck of a lot better than Radwanska’s 0-5 H2H against Serena.

 

Oh, yeah. She is a super-nice person to interview, she jumps out of planes for fun, and you think you can’t spell or pronounce her name? Well, last week she told me that Starbucks is the worst and that she’s just going to tell them her name is Mike or Bob the next time she goes for a latte in the little interview below.

You can call yourself whatever you like if you keep winning like this.

—S. Fogleman

 

Canadian Conquest @CoupeRogers @RogersCupTo; Wednesday’s Schedule

Canadian Conquest @CoupeRogers @RogersCupTo; Wednesday’s Schedule

This Land is Our Land

This Land is Our Land

Canada Day is supposed to be celebrated on July 1st. But for Tennis Canada, August 6th seems like a more appropriate date. Yesterday, there were celebrations in both languages and great moments of national unity due to  massive successes on the hard courts of Montreal and Toronto. Most Canadian players were celebrating long three set comeback wins, so it will be interesting to see if fatigue is a factor today as they continue their marches to the titles.

In Montreal, junior sensation Filip Peliwo was already on his way to winning a first round ATP match with Jarko Niemenen retired at 3-6, 7-5, 3-1. It marks Peliwo’s first win as a pro. He’ll play Denis Istomin at noon today.

Filip Peliwo

Filip Peliwo

Vasek Pospisil provided his Canadian fans with a shocker of his own, a 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(4) victory over a red-hot John Isner. For his troubles, Vashy will face Radek Stepanek later today.

Also, Frank Dancevic delighted the faithful at Parc Jarry with a three set win against qualifier Yendy Lu, 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-1. He’ll try to duplicate that success against Jerzy Janowicz today.

Not wanting to be left out of the Tennis Canada party, standard-bearer Milos Raonic edged Jeremy Chardy, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5. Mikhail Youzhny is on his docket today.

Jesse Levine

And don’t forget Jesse Levine, who advanced on Monday. He’s got the tallest order of all today, as he tries to upstage the upsetters. He’s got Rafa Nadal today.

On the women’s side in Toronto at the Centre of the Universe, Canadian phenom and national darling Eugenie Bouchard was all poise in her conquest of Alisa Kleybanova, 6-3, 6-1. That poise will be tested tonight as Bouchard does battle with Petra Kvitova.

Genie Bouchard

About the only bad news Canadians got yesterday was that two Canadians had to play each other. Sharon Fichman and Stephanie Dubois are no strangers to the others games, so it was no surprise that a grueling three setter ensued. In the end, the recent successes of Fichman continued as she won 5-7, 6-2, 6-2. Fichman plays Jelena Jankovic for a trip to the third round.

—Steve Fogleman

TORONTO RESULTS, TUESDAY AUGUST 6, 2013 / RÉSULTATS DE TORONTO DU MARDI 6 AOÛT 2013
Singles – Second Round / simple – 2e tour
[3] A Radwanska (POL) d Y Wickmayer (BEL) 62 63
D Cibulkova (SVK) d [8] A Kerber (GER) 67(0) 62 75

First Round / 1er tour
[11] M Kirilenko (RUS) d [Q] P Martic (CRO) 62 61
[12] S Stosur (AUS) d [Q] J Glushko (ISR) 57 62 63
[13] K Flipkens (BEL) d V Williams (USA) 06 64 62
[15] J Jankovic (SRB) d [Q] A Tatishvili (GEO) 76(6) 46 63
[16] A Ivanovic (SRB) d S Hsieh (TPE) 61 62
F Schiavone (ITA) d [Q] C Scheepers (RSA) 26 63 63
M Rybarikova (SVK) d [Q] A Dulgheru (ROU) 64 63
[Q] L Davis (USA) d [LL] S Kuznetsova (RUS) 36 75 75
A Cornet (FRA) d E Vesnina (RUS) 63 63
E Makarova (RUS) d [Q] A Rodionova (AUS) 61 75
[WC] E Bouchard (CAN) d A Kleybanova (RUS) 63 61
C Suarez Navarro (ESP) d J Hampton (USA) 64 64
[WC] S Fichman (CAN) d [WC] S Dubois (CAN) 57 62 62

Doubles – Second Round / Double – 2e tour
[1] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA) d K Marosi (HUN) / M Moulton-Levy (USA) 64 36 10-5

First Round / 1er tour[5] S Mirza (IND) / J Zheng (CHN) d N Grandin (RSA) / D Jurak (CRO) 46 76(5) 10-2
[6] L Huber (USA) / N Llagostera Vives (ESP) d [PR] S Kuznetsova (RUS) / F Pennetta (ITA) 76(2) 76(6)
J Goerges (GER) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) d [7] K Mladenovic (FRA) / G Voskoboeva (KAZ) 75 64
H Chan (TPE) / E Hrdinova (CZE) d A Klepac (SLO) / V Lepchenko (USA) 62 63
[WC] D Hantuchova (SVK) / M Hingis (SUI) d [WC] A Kerber (GER) / P Kvitova (CZE) 64 62
I Begu (ROU) / O Govortsova (BLR) d S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) / K Zakopalova (CZE) 64 26 10-5
A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) d J Husarova (SVK) / P Martic (CRO) 46 64 10-5

MONTREAL RESULTS, SUNDAY AUGUST 4, 2013 / RÉSULTATS DE MONTRÉAL DU DIMANCHE 4 AOÛT 2013
Singles – Second Round / simple – 2e tour
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) d F Mayer (GER) 62 61
[7] R Gasquet (FRA) d M Klizan (SVK) 63 62
[9] K Nishikori (JPN) d A Seppi (ITA) 46 75 61

First Round / 1er tour
[10] T Haas (GER) d [Q] D Goffin (BEL) 76(4) 63
[11] M Raonic (CAN) d J Chardy (FRA) 63 46 75
R Stepanek (CZE) d [12] N Almagro (ESP) 63 67(4) 63
[13] F Fognini (ITA) d M Baghdatis (CYP) 16 61 61
N Davydenko (RUS) d [14] G Simon (FRA) 26 61 61
[15] J Janowicz (POL) d J Benneteau (FRA) 36 63 75
[WC] F Peliwo (CAN) d J Nieminen (FIN) 36 75 31 Retired
[WC] F Dancevic (CAN) d [Q] Y Lu (TPE) 57 76(6) 61
A Dolgopolov (UKR) d K Anderson (RSA) 76(0) 64
[WC] V Pospisil (CAN) d J Isner (USA) 57 76(5) 76(4)
[Q] A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) d M Llodra (FRA) 62 46 63
M Youzhny (RUS) d J Melzer (AUT) 64 76(3)
M Granollers (ESP) d G Dimitrov (BUL) 64 64
Doubles – First Round / Double – 1er tour
A Seppi (ITA) / M Youzhny (RUS) d [Alt] J Chardy (FRA) / L Kubot (POL) 64 63
D Inglot (GBR) / J Janowicz (POL) d A Begemann (GER) / R Bopanna (IND) 76(4) 64
P Andujar (ESP) / R Nadal (ESP) d D Ferrer (ESP) / F Lopez (ESP) 67(2) 61 12-10
M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) d B Paire (FRA) / S Wawrinka (SUI) 76(6) 62

TORONTO ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY AUGUST 7, 2013 / HORAIRE DES MATCHS DE TORONTO – MERCREDI 7 AOÛT 2013

CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am / débute à 11 h
A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [4] N Li (CHN)

Not Before 1:00 PM
[Q] L Davis (USA) vs [7] [WC] M Bartoli (FRA)

Not Before 3:00 PM
K Zakopalova (CZE) vs [5] S Errani (ITA)

Not Before 7:00 PM
[1] S Williams (USA) vs F Schiavone (ITA)
[6] P Kvitova (CZE) vs [WC] E Bouchard (CAN)

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[11] M Kirilenko (RUS) vs A Cornet (FRA)
[15] J Jankovic (SRB) vs [WC] S Fichman (CAN)
[16] A Ivanovic (SRB) vs F Pennetta (ITA)
S Cirstea (ROU) vs [9] C Wozniacki (DEN)
C Suarez Navarro (ESP) vs [12] S Stosur (AUS)

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
M Barthel (GER) vs [14] S Stephens (USA)
E Makarova (RUS) vs [10] R Vinci (ITA)
[Q] K Bertens (NED) vs [13] K Flipkens (BEL)
[WC] G Dabrowski (CAN) / S Fichman (CAN) vs [8] A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) / L Safarova (CZE) – After Suitable Rest

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[5] S Mirza (IND) / J Zheng (CHN) vs O Kalashnikova (GEO) / A Rosolska (POL)

Not Before 1:30 PM
V Lepchenko (USA) vs M Rybarikova (SVK)

Not Before 3:30 PM
J Jankovic (SRB) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs D Cibulkova (SVK) / S Hsieh (TPE) – After Suitable Rest

COURT 3 start 11:00 am
[4] R Kops-Jones (USA) / A Spears (USA) vs H Chan (TPE) / E Hrdinova (CZE)
I Begu (ROU) / O Govortsova (BLR) vs [3] A Groenefeld (GER) / K Peschke (CZE)

Not Before 3:30 PM
A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) vs [2] E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) – After Suitable Rest

Click here for printable version. / Cliquez ici pour obtenir une version imprimable.

MONTREAL ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 7, 2013 / HORAIRE DES MATCHS DE MONTRÉAL – MERCREDI 7 AOÛT 2013

CENTRAL start 12:00 noon / débute à midi
M Granollers (ESP) vs [2] A Murray (GBR)

Not Before 14:00
[4] R Nadal (ESP) vs [WC] J Levine (CAN)

Not Before 18:00
M Youzhny (RUS) vs [11] M Raonic (CAN)

Not Before 20:00
[6] J Del Potro (ARG) vs I Dodig (CRO)

BN COURT start 12:00 noon
[WC] V Pospisil (CAN) vs R Stepanek (CZE)
[5] T Berdych (CZE) vs A Dolgopolov (UKR)
[WC] F Dancevic (CAN) vs [15] J Janowicz (POL)

Not Before 19:00
[Q] A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) vs [3] D Ferrer (ESP)

COURT 9 start 12:00 noon
[13] F Fognini (ITA) vs E Gulbis (LAT)
[WC] F Peliwo (CAN) vs D Istomin (UZB)
J Benneteau (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs C Fleming (GBR) / A Murray (GBR)
N Davydenko (RUS) vs P Andujar (ESP)

COURT 5 start 13:00
B Paire (FRA) vs [8] S Wawrinka (SUI)
[10] T Haas (GER) vs [Q] M Matosevic (AUS)
T Berdych (CZE) / M Llodra (FRA) vs M Klizan (SVK) / J Tipsarevic (SRB)
G Dimitrov (BUL) / P Kohlschreiber (GER) vs [WC] F Dancevic (CAN) / A Shamasdin (CAN)

2013 ATP Montreal Rogers Cup Preview #CoupeRogers

2013 ATP Montreal Rogers Cup Preview

Rogers Cup Official Site

Most of the big names will be back in action this week as they begin the drive towards the US Open. For some, like Murray, Nadal and Djokovic, it is their first time in match play since Wimbledon. The Rogers Cup men’s edition is in Montreal this year, as it alternates between Montreal and Toronto on a yearly basis along with the WTA edition. Tennis East Coast is very pleased to have some coverage of the early part of the week with our own Courtney Massey roving the grounds.

ATP Montreal
Rogers Cup/Coupe Rogers
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Montreal, Canada
August 5-August 11, 2013
Prize Money: $2,887,085

Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Andy Murray
3: David Ferrer
4: Rafael Nadal
5: Tomas Berdych
6: Juan Martin Del Potro
7: Richard Gasquet
8: Stanislas Wawrinka

Roger Federer has struggled, and for personal and health reasons chose to skip this event. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is also missing from the field with a knee injury, but 8 of the top 10 are participating. Other notable withdrawals include Gael Monfils and Mardy Fish.

First round matchups to watch:

Jarkko Nieminen vs. (wc)Filip Peliwo

Filip Peliwo

Filip Peliwo

Nieminen comes off a lengthy layoff since Wimbledon, and though he should be happy to return to hard courts, his form has not been the best recently. Peliwo is a 19 year old rising Canadian who has done very well: first at futures and now at the challenger level this year. He is ranked 353 and still has a long way to go, but local organizers gave him a wild card and he will actually have an outsiders shot at an upset here. Peliwo had an amazing 2012 before turning pro, making all 4 junior Grand Slam finals and winning 2 of them (The Junior US Open and Junior Wimbledon). He was also the world #1 junior during that period.

Benoit Paire vs. Phillip Kohlschreiber

Philipp Kohlschreiber

Philipp Kohlschreiber

Kohli is 2-1 career against Paire with all three of their meetings on hardcourts. They played a memorable five-setter at the US Open last year, while Paire beat Peppo in straights at Indian Wells this year. Paire comes off injury, while Kohli will be adjusting to hard courts off of clay. The quality may be reduced, but expect some drama.

John Isner vs. (wc)Vasek Pospisil

Vasek Pospisil

Vasek Pospisil

Isner is coming off the DC final, after winning Atlanta the week before and playing Newport before that. Such a whirlwind schedule, paired with his propensity to play deep sets and lots of tiebreaks could very well wear the top ranked American down. He gets Pospisil, who has been on the other side of Canada, in Vancouver, where he is currently in the final and perhaps will also be tired. He will still be on his home turf. The career h2h is 1-all, with both meetings coming on hard courts, and Isner beat Vashy in 3 sets in San Jose this year. I think Isner survives but tiebreaks may be in order again. Perhaps three of them.

(11)Milos Raonic vs. Jeremy Chardy

Raonic

Raonic


Raonic has been atrocious as of late, and as the big Canadian hope, he would hate to trip up early against Chardy, who has also been poor recently, both are lanky solid servers, and because Montreal is in French Canada, the Frenchman Chardy should also have a decent cheering section. I expect Raonic to get through, but he could have trouble.

(13)Fabio Fognini vs. Marcos Baghdatis

A tale of two totally different years for Forza and Baggy. Fognini has had a career year and now looks to take that quality play to hardcourts. Baghdatis has had a terrible year but somehow found form in DC, where he beat Lukas Lacko and amazingly upset Kei Nishikori before losing to John Isner in 3 sets (like so many others). Most things point to Fognini here, but if Baghdatis can go against the odds and continue his decent play, he could win this. Fognini won two clay court meetings last year, but Baghdatis won their (indoor) hard court meeting.

Ernests Gulbis vs. Feliciano Lopez

Feli Lopez

Feli Lopez

Gulbis is 3-1 against Lopez in his career and routined the Spaniard at Indian Wells this year. That being said, while both are inconsistent, Lopez has been a tad bit better. This could again go either way, and with such unpredictable players, this could be a tremendous match or someone could be served baked goods.

Top Half:

Novak Djokovic looks for his 3rd straight Rogers Cup title, facing the winner of Bernard Tomic/Florian Mayer in his first match. Djoker could meet Nieminen/Peliwo or Denis Istomin/Janko Tipsarevic in Round 3. Istomin has been decent enough recently and expect him to “upset” the way-out-of-form Tipsarevic, who actually gave Djokovic a solid match at the Rogers Cup last year.

Richard Gasquet has final points to defend here, and he will return to hard courts against Martin Klizan/Thomaz Bellucci. If Gasquet wins that he could meet Kei Nishikori, a qualifier, or Andreas Seppi/Lukas Rosol in Round 3. Rosol, with his style of play, would be expected to do well on North American hard courts, but he has been very poor in recent tournaments.

Rafa Nadal is back, facing Jesse Levine or Xaiver Malisse. He could also see Jerzy Janowicz, who is also back on tour this week, if JJ can take out Julien Benneteau and then Frank Dancevic or a qualifier.

Stan Wawrinka will hopefully be recovered from his back troubles. He will play the Kohlischreiber/Paire winner in a much anticipated Round 2 match, and then Tommy Haas, a DC semifinalist, or one of three qualifiers. This is a rough and tumble section.

Bottom Half:

Andy Murray faces Grigor Dimitrov for the third time this year, if Grisha can beat Marcel Granollers (who is coming off the Kitzbuhel clay court title). Murray won the previous two meetings, both on hardcourts, and should move on to face Fognini/Baghdatis or Gulbis/Lopez. There, he will again face a solid enough opponent, but probably not someone who can beat him.

DC Champ Del Potro will face Ivan Dodig or Grega Zemlja before dueling with Mikhail Youzhny/Jurgen Melzer or Chardy/Raonic. Del Po should be good enough to win his first two matches. Melzer lost in the opening round of the Kitzbuhel clay event.

Ferrer in MTL

Ferrer in MTL


David Ferrer gets Michael Llodra or a qualifier before a face-off with a qualifier/Pablo Andujar or Gilles Simon/Nikolay Davydenko. Everyone in Ferrer’s section at the start is in terrible form, meaning the Spaniard should not have trouble.

Tomas Berdych could face Kevin Anderson for sixth time in 2013 alone. Berdych has beaten the South African each and every time they have played, which has been ten times in the last two years. Anderson just has to beat the severely slumping Alex Dolgopolov. After that, Berdych/Anderson should run into John Isner or Nicolas Almagro, with Pospisil and Almagro’s first round opponent Radek Stepanek also options. Isner/Anderson would be an Atlanta final rematch, and Berdych/Almagro, the more likely matchup, would be another big rematch event, as Berdych beat Almagro 5 out of 6 times last year.

Predictions

Quarters:
Djokovic d. Gasquet
Nadal d. Haas
Berdych d. Ferrer
Murray d. Del Potro

All four players who I predict to win should be heavily favored, assuming everyone is healthy and in good form. Del Potro, Ferrer and Haas could provide trouble, but I don’t expect upsets. Djokovic beat Gasquet twice last year on hardcourts, including in the Toronto final. Nadal is 5-0 career against Haas, with all of their meetings happening on hardcourts. Ferrer has a 3-1 fast courts advantage over Berdych, but I still like Tomas in this one. Murray is 5-2 career against Del Potro, though Del Potro beat him in 3 sets in Indian Wells this year.

Semis:
Djokovic d. Nadal
Murray d. Berdych

Between the Rogers Cup being a comfortable place for Novak and his generally more consistent hard court form, including winning most of his hard court meetings against Nadal in the past, I like him over Rafa. Murray should be superior to Berdych.

Final:
Murray d. Djokovic

In a reprisal of the Wimbledon final, I like Murray again. Djokovic is 4-1 since 2012 on hard courts against Murray, but looking at all of their meetings, it is hard to parse the favorite no matter what. I have to go with gut feeling.