Alexandr Dolgopolov recovered from a slow start and poor play at times to best Rhyne Williams 6-4 4-6 6-4 yesterday in Memphis. Williams got off to a strong start, breaking to open and leading 3-0 but he would let his game slip and let Dolgopolov back into the opening set, a set he would eventually take with a break. In the 2nd set, it was Williams getting the big break he needed in a match full of long-winded rallies, with both guys putting a ton of balls back in play and returning serve well. In the 3rd, Dolgopolov got a break midway through and held on the rest of the way through some long difficult games. Dolgopolov was not at his top level but Williams, as usual, seemed to let the emotional rollercoaster get the best of him, and with every racquet smash and outburst, it was almost as if you could see Dolgo realizing he had gotten into Williams head and capitalizing.
Marin Cilic survived a brutal 3 set match with Igor Sijsling 7-6 3-6 7-6, a match where he didn’t have a single break of serve and struggled to deal with Sijsling’s powerful serve. He had a clear edge in the 1st set, holding easily, with Sijsling struggling with a sore shoulder that required the trainer after a few games. But Sijsling would hang in there, and almost got better as the match went on, holding his serve, but then struggling in the 1st set tiebreak. In the 2nd he came back though, got a break and held all the way through, hitting with power on both the backhand and forehand side along with continuing to serve well.
In the 3rd set, it continued to be a battle with holds all the way until the tiebreak and Sijsling having a break point at 6-5 to take the match that he couldn’t convert. Sijsling also had 2 more match points in the tiebreak, but an odd netcord and an unforced error prevented them from being converted. Cilic continued to hold his serve and eventually took the 3rd set tiebreak and the match in tough fashion.
In other men’s singles action, Michael Russell made the quarters 6-2 6-4 over Lukasz Kubot, smacking the ball around well, serving comfortably and passing the serve and volleyer Kubot, who was clearly off his game today, with relative ease. Kubot even whiffed on his volleys a few times, while Russell just glided corner to corner and put the ball away for winners, keeping Kubot uncomfortable and defensive.
Russell is joined in the quarters by Denis Istomin, who whipped up on Lleyton Hewitt 6-1 6-2, running over Rusty with good serving and a wicked forehand showing. Kei Nishikori eased past Donald Young 6-3 6-3, not showing any real weakness. Marinko Matosevic finally earned another marquee win, upsetting Sam Querrey in 3 sets 3-6 6-4 7-5. Jack Sock and his ripping forehand beat his doubles partner James Blake 7-5 6-4, surviving everything JB could throw at him in style. Feliciano Lopez also made the semis via walkover as Tommy Haas withdrew shortly before the match with “respiratory illness”.
The men’s quarterfinals will be Cilic vs. Nishikori, Matosevic vs. Dolgopolov, Russell vs. Istomin and Sock vs. Lopez.
In men’s doubles Peya/Soares beat Butorac/Hanley 6-4 6-2 and Kubot/Nestor beat Melzer/Petzschener 6-4 7-5. Both teams make their way into the semifinals.
On the women’s side, the singles semifinals were determined, with Sabine Lisicki beating Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-3, Stefanie Voegele dominating Heather Watson 6-1 6-2, Marina Erakovic beating a frustrated Jamie Hampton 7-5 6-2 and Magdalena Rybarikova winning a slice and dice battle with Kirsten Flipkens 6-7 7-5 7-6-3. That match was highlighted by a back and forth opening set tiebreak that went as long as a double changeover, and it seemed neither player could string consecutive points together, serving or returning.
The women’s semis will be Lisicki vs. Rybarikova and Voegele vs. Erakovic.
In women’s doubles, Arvidsson/Larsson booked a spot in the final , 4-6 6-3 11-9 over Deikmejre/Moulton-Levy and Dolonc/Hrdinova fell to Mladenovic/Voskoboeva 7-6 6-4. Mladenovic and Voskoboeva make the semis, where they will play Lee-Waters/Pegula.
It was a great time in Memphis and I hope everyone enjoyed the on site coverage, TEC will continue to update on news from Memphis until the conclusion of the tournament, and we want to thank everyone at the tournament, including the media director and the ATP and WTA media representatives for their helpfulness. I also want to extend a special thanks to Tennis Now’s Blair Henley, who was personally very helpful to me throughout the week as a fellow journalist.
Cilic vs. Sijsling, Dolgopolov vs. Williams Key Matches In Memphis Thursday Action
Our final day of onsite coverage in Memphis will conclude with a host of big matches, starting off with women’s quarters in the morning, featuring Flipkens vs. Rybarikova and Lisicki vs. Mladenovic, along with Kubot vs. Russell in the men’s 2nd round on one of the outer courts.
The next set of matches will be Hampton vs. Erakovic, Istomin vs. Hewitt and Voegele vs. Watson. I predict the best matches of the day will follow, Cilic vs. Sijsling and Dolgopolov vs. Williams. The good news: two matches that could both go the distance featuring streaky players. The bad news: they will both be going on at the same time.
Querrey will play Matosevic along with Young taking on Nishikori. The ladies doubles matches will be Deikmejere/Moulton-Levy against Arvidsson/Larsson and Hrdinova/Dolonc vs. Mladenovic/Voskoboeva.
In the night cap, James Blake will play Jack Sock, followed by Haas vs. Lopez. In men’s doubles Peya/Soares will play Butorac/Hanley while Melzer/Petzschener will take on Kubot/Nestor.
The Men’s doubles draw is out for Memphis and headlining it, of course, are the number 1 ranked Bryan Brothers who will open with Robert Farah and Tommy Haas. The winners may run into a showdown with another accomplished doubles team, David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco, who open with doubles specialists Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky.
4 seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares, both of whom are very accomplished in doubles themselves, will play the Harrison brothers. UVA’s Treat Huey and Domic Inglot will take on Eric Butorac and Paul Hanley.
3 seeds Daniel Nestor (the Canadian legend who was part of the championship pairing last year) and Lukasz Kubot will take on Quisner (John Isner and Sam Querrey). Team Quisner made the semis last year in Memphis and lost to Nestor. Florian Mayer and Juan Sebastian Cabal will take on good friends Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner.
2 seeds Horia Tecau and Max Mirnyi (the other part of the championship doubles pairing last year) will take on wild cards James Blake and Jack Sock, a team that mixes one of the old faces of American tennis with one of the new ones.
Last but not least, Marin Cilic and Andre Sa will take on Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo in what will be a rematch of their 1stround singles encounter for Cilic and Dodig and a battle of countrymen for both teams. Dodig and Cilic are Croatian and Melo and Sa are Brazilian. The other irony is that Dodig and Melo made the final last year, yet this year they will be on opposite teams.
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 500
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
February 18-Feburary 24, 2013
Prize Money: $ 1,212,750
The Joint ATP/WTA Event held at the Racquet Club of Memphis in lovely Memphis, Tennessee will be holding its 38th edition. For the first time, Tennis East Coast will have some onsite coverage of the event. I will be there Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday covering the Men’s and Women’s 1st and 2nd rounds with all the info and excitement you would expect of both the tennis action and the energy surrounding the event. With that, here is a preview of the Men’s main draw.
Top 8 seeds
1: Marin Cilic
2: Milos Raonic
3: John Isner
4: Sam Querrey
5: Kei Nishikori
6: Tommy Haas
7: Alexandr Dolgopolov
8: Fernando Verdasco
All seeds are ranked in the top 24 in the world and are closely clustered between 12 and 24 in the world. This makes for fierce competition. Since I’ll be there, I’ll go through the draw quarter by quarter explaining each matchup instead of the usual overview.
Zagreb champ Marin Cilic opens with his Davis Cup teammate Ivan Dodig. He has a 0-1 career record against Dodig even though he is ranked some 50 spots higher. Dodig’s best result is quarters in Zagreb this year.
Defending Memphis champ and Cilic’s opponent in the Zagreb final is Jurgen Melzer. He’ll begin his quest to repeat against Igor Sijsling, who comes off a nice upset victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Rotterdam. If Melzer and Cilic both advance, it would be a repeat of the Zagreb final in the 2nd round.
San Jose quarterfinalist Xaiver Malisse opens with a qualifier. Kei Nishikori, in his first tournament since the Australian Open, also draws a qualifier.
Sam Querrey is still in the running for the San Jose title. He’ll play the same guy he played in the San Jose quarterfinals, Alejandro Falla. Marinko Matosevic and Go Soeda will play each other for the right to face the winner of that rematch in the 2nd round.
Steve Johnson, also coming off quarters in San Jose, gets a qualifier. Alexandr Dolgopolov, who will likely be looking to get back into the top 20 with a good run, faces off with veteran German Bjorn Phau.
John Isner, still in the running for the SAP Open crown as well, gets fellow hammering server Denis Istomin.
Up the draw, Lleyton Hewitt will face Yen-Hsun Lu. Hewitt has a 2-2 career record against Lu, including a win in Memphis during the 2011 tournament.
Lukasz Kubot, who is coming off an ankle injury, will face Ryan Harrison. Big Harry struggled through a 1st round loss in San Jose that can partially chalked up to the fact he had flu like symptoms. Fernando Verdasco, coming off a 1st round loss in San Jose, will look to regroup against a qualifier. Verdasco is already in Memphis and took part in the draw ceremony along with Marin Cilic.
Milos Raonic, still looking to repeat in San Jose is also the defending finalist in Memphis. The Canadian opens with Jack Sock, and the winner will face Florian Mayer (who can be streaky on indoors) or Dallas Challenger semifinalist James Blake.
Veterans Feliciano Lopez and Benjamin Becker (a Memphis semifinalist last year) will serve it up for a spot in the 2nd round. If Becker and Raonic both advance it would be a rematch of the 2012 semifinal matchup.
Tommy Haas, still battling for the title in San Jose as well, opens with Evgeny Donskoy.
Dark Horses: Igor Sijsling and Lukasz Kubot
Sijsling played superbly in his win over Tsonga in Rotterdam and really displayed the range of his talent when he puts it all together. He won’t have an easy first couple of rounds but he will have good shots at upsets.
Kubot was playing pretty well before his ankle injury suffered during Davis Cup and is solid indoors. Given the form of the players in his draw line, Harrison and Verdasco quarters or better is a good possibility.
Cilic d. Dolgopolov
Raonic d. Isner
Cilic was solid in Zagreb and given this is also an indoor hard court tournament, he should be in good shape here. He won’t have a super easy draw the whole way, likely getting Nishikori in the quarters. Dolgo and Querrey should slug it out in the quarters, but I’ll give an edge to the more rested Dolgopolov.
Raonic is playing well and is beastly indoors, while Isner is also solid but still not quite 100% in terms of his level of play. However, Isner has a somewhat easier draw to make the semis.
Cilic d. Raonic
It could well be a slugfest but I’ll give a slight edge to Cilic, simply because he won’t have played as many matches if they both make it this far.
Zeballos Shocks in Vina Del Mar, Gasquet Makes it 2 for ’13 in Montpellier, Cilic Nabs Zagreb Hat Trick
ATP Vina Del Mar
World number 73 Horacio “Z ball” Zeballos of Argentina shocked Rafa Nadal in 3 sets 6-7 7-6 6-4 tonight. Zeballos gutted out a 2nd set tiebreak and broke at love after holding at love to take the match in the 3rd set for his first ever ATP title in his 2nd career final.
Zeballos was able to push Nadal around the court, even on clay, and played what was probably the match of his life with nifty shotmaking. He broke down in tears of joy at the conclusion.
It was Nadal’s first event back from a knee injury and it will be certain to leave a bitter taste in his mouth, even though he made the final.
Previously in the week Zeballos beat Diego Sebastian Schwartzman in 3, Pablo Andujar, Albert Ramos in 3 and Carlos Berlocq in straights.
As for Nadal, he actually looked ok in his first matches back, not 100% but still above average, scoring comfortable wins over Federico Del Bonis, Daniel Gimeno-Traver and Jeremy Chardy. Zeballos certainly caught him by surprise. The loss was just the third of his career after winning the 1st set on clay and his first loss to a player outside the ATP top 50 on clay since 2004.
Nadal also had success this week in doubles but fell short again in the final, as he and Juan Monaco lost to Paolo Lorenzi and Potito Starace.
Richard Gasquet won his 2nd ATP title in 2 months and has only lost one match this year. He beat countryman Benoit Paire 6-2 6-3 in a slam dunk all-French final. Gasquet is red hot and mentally focused as he beat Gael Monfils, Julian Benneteau and Jarkko Nieminen, all in 3 sets to reach the final. All were competitive matches but Reeshie outlasted his opponents.
As for Paire, he reached his 2nd career ATP final and will be at a career high ranking as he slipped past Adrian Mendendez-Maceiras, Steve Darcis, Gilles Simon and Michael Llodra to reach the final. Llodra had knocked out Janko Tipsarevic in round 2.
In the doubles, it was also a victory for France, as Marc Gicquel and Llodra beat Johan Brunstrom and Raven Klaasen.
Marin Cilic returned to victory, capturing his 3rd career Zagreb title 6-3 6-1 in his home country over a frustrated Jurgen Melzer. Cilic beat Grega Zemlja, Blaz Kavcic, and Mikhail Youzhny to reach the final, while Melzer, who had been struggling recently, had a bit of a lucky draw in beating Somdev Devvarman, Lukas Rosol and Robin Haase.
In doubles, Julian Knowle and Filip Polasek beat Croatians Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic.
2012 ATP Halle and Queen’s Club Recap
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Tommy Haas continued his shocking run of stellar play, taking the Halle title today over fellow veteran Roger Federer, 7-6 6-4. The world number 87, who recently broke back in the top 100 at the age of 34, rolled over Bernard Tomic, Tomas Berdych in 3 sets and countryman Philip Kohlschreiber (who had shocked Nadal in his previous round match to reach the final) before taking it to Federer.
Haas showed more than glimpses of his former top 10 self: beating players much his junior and showing not only grit but also great skill on the grass, just as he had shown on clay in Paris and Munich.
Federer will go home disappointed but he still beat Florian Mayer, survived in 3 sets over big bomber Milos Raonic (who couldn’t close him out) and shellacked Mikhail Youzhny to reach yet another final on grass.
Aisam Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer won the doubles title over Treat Huey and Scott Lipsky.
ATP London Queen’s Club
Yet another aggressive David Nalbandian outburst gave Marin Cilic the title in the AEGON Championships, even though he was down 6-7 4-3. The incident occurred when Nalbandian kicked an advertising board in rage around a lines judge and accidentally injured him in the process, causing the linesman’s leg to bleed profusely.
It not only made quite the mess but also resulted in Nalby being DQ’ed and Cilic taking the title to the shock of fans who proceeded to boo profusely all the way through the trophy ceremony. This is not the first time this year Nalbandian has suffered from a violent outburst, as he was fined $8,000 for throwing water at another tournament official during his first round match at the Australian Open. It was an unfortunate incident any way you look at it.
As for the rest of the tournament, it was a week of upsets as top 3 seeds Murray, Tsonga and Tipsarevic all fell before the quarterfinals to much lower ranked players. Nalbandian came from a set down to beat Vasek Pospisil, handled Ruben Bemelmans, came back from a set down to beat both Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Xaiver Malisse, and then rolled over refreshing youngster Grigor Dimitrov to reach the final.
Dimitrov punched above his weight this week as well, as he beat Bobby Reynolds, Nicolas Mahut (who upset Andy Murray in the previous round) and came from a set down to beat the big serving Kevin Anderson.
6 seed Cilic took care of Matt Ebden, Lukas Rosol, Yen Hsun-Lu (who beat Tipsy Tipsarevic in the previous round) and suprising Sam Querrey to reach the final. Querrey had beaten seeded players Julien Benneteau and Denis Istomin along with (Tsonga-eliminator) Ivan Dodig and Olivier Rochus.
The event was also marred by a lot of rain, as can be expected during the British summer and a lot of the match schedules became convoluted. Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor beat the Bryans for the 2nd week in a row to take the doubles title.