April 30, 2011
In this week’s Podcast, Nima and Parsa are back in action with a preview of the men’s draw at the Mutua Madrid Open in Spain.
Will Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer meet for the third straight time in the event? Will Novak Djokovic continue his scintillating form in 2011 by capturing his third Masters title? Could we see hometown favorites David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco make some noise and dethrone their higher-ranked countryman?
Nima and Parsa combat these questions and many more in this week’s show.
As always, you can alternatively listen to the #1 tennis PodCast via iTunes and never miss another episode. It is very easy and completely free.
April 30, 2011
ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, 1 MAY, 2011
MANOLO SANTANA start 11:00 am
 M Sharapova (RUS) vs [WC] A Rus (NED) – WTA
 C Wozniacki (DEN) vs A Morita (JPN) – WTA
 S Wawrinka (SUI) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 6:00 PM
 N Almagro (ESP) vs J Tsonga (FRA) – ATP
[WC] L Pous-Tio (ESP) vs  J Jankovic (SRB) – WTA
ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO start 11:00 am
S Peng (CHN) vs  F Schiavone (ITA) – WTA
Qualifier vs A Rezai (FRA) – WTA
 A Ivanovic (SRB) vs B Mattek-Sands (USA) – WTA
A Dolgopolov (UKR) vs S Giraldo (COL) – ATP
J Monaco (ARG) vs A Golubev (KAZ) – ATP
STADIUM 3 start 11:00 am
Qualifying – D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) vs R Ramirez Hidalgo (ESP) – ATP -
Qualifying – A Mannarino (FRA) vs D Munoz-De La Nava (ESP) – ATP -
 M Bartoli (FRA) vs Qualifier – WTA
Not Before 2:00 PM
M Melo (BRA) / B Soares (BRA) vs M Knowles (BAH) / A Roddick (USA) – ATP
N Petrova (RUS) vs Qualifier – WTA
COURT 4 start 11:00 am
F Pennetta (ITA) vs [WC] A Parra Santonja (ESP) – WTA
J Goerges (GER) vs  K Kanepi (EST) – WTA
Qualifier vs E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA
E Makarova (RUS) vs Y Wickmayer (BEL) – WTA
COURT 5 start 11:00 am
K Date-Krumm (JPN) vs D Hantuchova (SVK) – WTA
Qualifying – P Riba (ESP) vs I Andreev (RUS) – ATP -
Not Before 2:00 PM
C Chuang (TPE) / O Govortsova (BLR) vs [WC] S Kuznetsova (RUS) / V Zvonareva (RUS) – WTA
D Hantuchova (SVK) / A Radwanska (POL) vs  V Azarenka (BLR) / M Kirilenko (RUS) – WTA
COURT 6 start 11:00 am
Qualifying – F Del Bonis (ARG) vs A Falla (COL) – ATP -
Not Before 13:30 PM
Qualifying – L Kubot (POL) vs T de Bakker (NED) – ATP -
K Zakopalova (CZE) vs S Errani (ITA) – WTA
Qualifier vs Qualifier – WTA
COURT 7 start 11:00 am
Qualifying – V Hanescu (ROU) vs [WC] M Copil (ROU) – ATP -
Not Before 12:30 PM
Qualifying – O Rochus (BEL) vs F Cipolla (ITA) – ATP -
G Arn (HUN) vs B Jovanovski (SRB) – WTA
A Cornet (FRA) / J Goerges (GER) vs N Llagostera Vives (ESP) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) – WTA
April 30, 2011
€ 2,835,000 Total Prize Money
by: Nima Naderi
There’s something to be said about the grind and effort that is put forth during the clay-court season. While the end of the Sony Ericsson Open signifies the beginning of nine weeks on the dirt, the world’s best players are forced to step up their footwork and fitness in order to survive.
They’ll get that chance this week at the duel-gendered Mutua Madrid Open.
On the men’s side, everything has gone to form with the continued dominance of Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard added to his brilliance in Monte Carlo by taking home another title in Barcelona, and I have a good feeling that his week off in Spain will aid him toward a third title in Madrid. Defeating Roger Federer in a straight set affair last year, Nadal is currently riding a 34 match winning streak on clay, while not losing a match on his favorite surface since the fourth-round of the 2009 French Open.
The same can’t be said for Federer, who has encountered less-than-satisfactory results as of late. Falling to Jurgen Melzer in Monaco, Federer was blown out by Nadal in Miami, while losing his third-straight match of the year to Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells. Federer does like the conditions in Madrid, and the high altitude could be just what he needs to get his confidence back on track.
A player that doesn’t need anything in the way of confidence is Djokovic. Flying through the draw in Belgrade over the weekend, Djokovic remains the most likely to challenge Nadal this week. Playing a classic four-hour three-setter against the Mallorcan at the event in 2009, Djokovic already has two wins over the top seed in 2011. Aiming to keep his unbeaten streak alive, Djokovic’s fitness will be tested after his second-straight week in action.
It’s a long shot of sorts, but what about the progression of Robin Soderling and Tomas Berdych? At first glance, both these power-hitters look anything but clay-court ready, but their results over the past two seasons have proved their prowess on clay. Soderling has encountered some injuries as of late, and while Berdych continues to slip in and out of his competitive demeanor, it would be foolish to overlook his talent on any surface.
While musing through the top and bottom halves of the men’s draw, one can’t help but notice just how loaded the field really is. Nadal will potentially have to deal with Marcos Baghdatis in the second-round; Juan Martin del Potro in the third-round; Andy Roddick or Jurgen Melzer in the quarters, and either Federer, Verdasco, Soderling, Dolgopolov or Almagro to reach the finals.
Del Potro appears to be back to his pre-injury form, while Almagro and Melzer have been striking their shots with conviction this spring. Almagro in particular could give Nadal something to think about going forward, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a marquee Nadal vs. Federer semifinal didn’t occur on Saturday. Federer does have one career win over Nadal in Madrid, but I don’t believe he currently has the patience to out rally the Spaniard on clay.
The altitude could also help Canadian Milos Raonic in his first Madrid outing, but a recent back injury in Estoril could derail his progress.
All in all, it would be foolish to bet against Nadal in this half, considering his winning record against everyone on the dirt. If there’s a player with the best chance of defeating Nadal at his point, I’d have to go with the mentally strong and physically capable del Potro.
Onto the bottom half of the draw and Djokovic’s chances.
Djokovic doesn’t appear to have any immediate concerns headed his way, except for the inconsistent efforts of Stan Wawrinka. The real test for the Serb could come in the quarters, where Ferrer would likely await. Ferrer is in terrific form this season, and he has the type of game that could trouble Djokovic on clay.
Elsewhere, Murray will try and build on his result in Monte Carlo, while Berdych and Monfils look like the other two contenders to reach the quarterfinals. Ivo Karlovic could get his serve going here, and that could spell curtains for many of the seeds in this half. However, apart from a potentially strong showing from either Monfils or Ferrer, I don’t think Djokovic will have too many obstacles in this half.
In saying that though, I don’t believe that Djokovic can dominate on clay the same way he did on asphalt, and that could result in his unbeaten streak ending here.
But we must stay within the framework of the favorites and the players with the best chances of prevailing, and as it stands now that’s Nadal and Djokovic.
On the women’s side, Caroline Wozniacki continues to prove that she’s a legit No. 1. Even though she hasn’t locked up a Grand Slam title as of yet, the Danish speedster showed her championship form by winning in Palm Springs, and following up her performance on the clay in Charleston. However, Wozniacki’s game has shown some cracks on the clay this spring; most notably losing a one way match to Julia Goerges in Stuttgart.
I’ve always thought of Wozniacki’s forehand as her weakest link, and it’s evident that the clay doesn’t help her technique at all. Hoping that her court speed and backhand will pull her through the draw in Madrid, Wozniacki will have to shake off a slew of determined players.
With Serena, Venus and Kim Clijsters missing in action, this could be just the right time for Vera Zvonareva to step in and bank a big title. Not known for her clay-court results, Zvonareva will have the luxury of the thinner air behind her swings. Playing only one clay event following Miami, Zvonareva won’t have the excuse of fatigue to blame on an early loss.
Enduring a poor year by her standards, Aussie Sam Stosur will be vying for some much needed confidence this week. Holding a great skill set for the clay in Europe, Stosur rebounded from a dismal start to the season by reaching the semis in Stuttgart. With the thought of the finals in France looming in the back of her mind, Stosur will have even more pressure to deal with in Madrid.
A player who could continue her good run of form here is Goerges. Swatting away Wozniacki in Stuttgart, Goerges took back some of the limelight that had been allocated to her higher-ranked countrywomen Andrea Petkovic.
Goerges has always been full of fire and she won’t hesitate to throw a fist pump in the direction of any opponent. Luckily for her, she’ll get another chance to prove that her win over Wozniacki wasn’t a fluke, meeting the Dane in a potential third-round clash.
There’s much to look forward to in the women’s draw, considering that no clear favorite can be identified.
While Wozniacki would have to get past Goerges, Dinara Safina or Kaia Kanepi to reach the quarterfinals, a potential match with Stosur could be the best of the event.
Other players who could challenge for a semifinal spot in the top half include Victoria Azarenka and Jelena Jankovic. While Jankovic continues to play scratchy tennis, Azarenka hit her highest gear by winning the titles in Miami and Marbella. However, a recent first-round retirement to Georges in Stuttgart could have the Scottsdale resident on shaking ground.
All in all, I like the rejuvenating form that Stosur has shown, and a run to the finals does seem possible.
The bottom half of the draw features four Grand Slam champions. Led by reigning French Open winner Francesca Schiavone, the bottom half will also be highlighted by past Roland Garros champs Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Three-time Major winner Maria Sharapova also lurks in this half, but her form on clay in recent years hasn’t been great.
While Schiavone remains short on match play, Kuznetsova continues to round into form with a semifinal showing in Marbella. The Russian has always been a force on clay, and it wasn’t too long ago—2009 to be precise—that she hoisted the women’s trophy at Roland Garros.
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who many people may not know, won the premier 5 event in Rome last year and prefers the dirt to any other surface. Playing at home and in front of her fans, the unorthodox serve and drop shot game of the Spaniard could turn a few heads this week.
However, I’ll still have to go with Kuznetsova to plow through here, regardless of the altitude and Zvonareva’s higher seeding.
It could be a wacky week on the WTA, one in which should favor Kuznetsova.
April 30, 2011
Sunday’s final at the Estoril Open will feature a quality clash between No. 2 seed Fernando Verdasco and No. 8 seed Juan Martin del Potro.
For Verdasco, his day begin early by overcoming a one set deficit to send off South African Kevin Anderson in a rain-delayed quarterfinal match. Returning to the court in the afternoon, Verdasco avenged two-straight defeats to Milos Raonic after the Canadian withdrew after losing the first set.
Raonic sustained a back injury during the early stages of the contest. The 20-year-old had defeated Gilles Simon in a two and a half match during another rain-delayed quarterfinal encounter.
Aiming to win his sixth career title, Verdasco will take on del Potro in a third-career meeting on Sunday. Del Potro, who has had a successful return to the Tour this year, swept past Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 7-6 (6) to reach his second final of the season.
April 30, 2011
The men’s singles draw for the Mutua Madrid Open in Spain can be found below. This year’s event will feature the top 16 ranked men in the world led by top seed Rafael Nadal.
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Robin Soderling will also highlight the 56-man field.
The link to the men’s draw can be found below.
April 30, 2011
Estoril Open—Estoril, Portugal
No. 2 seed Fernando Verdasco defeats Kevin Anderson 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-3; No. 5 seed Milos Raonic defeats No. 4 seed Gilles Simon 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3.
No. 7 seed Nikolay Davydenko defeats Radek Stepanek 6-3, 4-0; No. 5 seed Florian Mayer defeats Philipp Petzschner 6-3, 6-4.
April 30, 2011
Top seed Novak Djokovic will face Feliciano Lopez for the Serbia Open title on Sunday. After receiving a walkover from countryman Janko Tipsarevic, Djokovic will contest his fifth straight final of 2011 against his Spanish opponent. Owning a 3-0 head-to-head series lead over Lopez, Djokovic last defeated his left-handed opponent at the Dubai event in February.
Lopez reached the seventh final of his career after defeating Filippo Volandri 7-6 (3), 6-2.
Djokovic’s Davis Cup teammate Tipsarevic was forced to withdraw from the highly anticipated semifinal with a right leg injury.
Djokovic hasn’t lost on Tour since the World Tour Finale in London.
April 29, 2011
Argentine Juan Martin del Potro has signed an endorsement deal with Rolex watches. The 22-year-old, who won the US Open in 2009, will sport the Rolex DateJust watch during press conferences and off court.
Del Potro joins Roger Federer, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Li Na, Justine Henin and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as featured Rolex players.
April 29, 2011
Eighteen Grand Slam singles titles, four Grand Slam runners-up trophies, and three Davis Cup winner’s medals are among the honours won by players taking part in this year’s Gerry Weber Open grasscourt tennis tournament (4-12 June 2011). The entry list released today, which features five of the world’s top nine players, is headed by the 16-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic doubles gold medallist Roger Federer, who is looking for his fifth title on the pre-Wimbledon grass. Four of Federer’s six Wimbledon titles have been preceded by victory at the Gerry Weber Open, the event which hosts the biggest stadium for a grasscourt tournament outside Wimbledon.
But Federer won’t have it all his own way in his quest for a sixth Halle title, as the field includes the three men who beat him in June last year: Robin Soderling, Tomas Berdych, and the reigning Gerry Weber Open champion Lleyton Hewitt. Soderling beat Federer in the French Open quarter-finals, Berdych at the same stage at Wimbledon, and Hewitt, the former US Open and Wimbledon champion, in a dramatic final in the Gerry Weber Stadium.
Among other big names committed to the Gerry Weber Open are top-tenners Jurgen Melzer and Gael Monfils, reigning Davis Cup champion Viktor Troicki from Serbia, and two-time Davis Cup champion Mikhail Youzhny from Russia.
The Gerry Weber Open tournament director Ralf Weber said, ‘We have a very good line-up, both looking back and forward. The achievements of our top names speak for themselves, but we also have the year’s two rising stars in Milos Raonic and Alexandr Dolgopolov. They are wonderfully contrasting players – the clean-cut Raonic with his big serve, and the colourful Dolgopolov whose sense of humour seems to come out through his tennis. The fans here in eastern Westfalia will love what our players will offer this year.’
(For Dolgopolov, it will be a return to the Gerry Weber Open after 18 years growing up. He came to Halle as a five-year-old when his father, Alexandr Senior, coached the tournament’s first runner-up Andrei Medvedev back in 1993.)
For the home fans, this will be the chance not only to see preparations for Wimbledon, but also the last appearance of the German Davis Cup team on home soil before July’s quarter-final against France in Stuttgart. The likely singles players, Florian Mayer and Philipp Kohlschreiber, are both definites for Halle, while the hero of Germany’s win over Croatia in March, Philipp Petzschner, could make it into the main draw through either a wildcard or a couple of late withdrawals.
April 29, 2011
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic needed one hour and 25 minutes to defeat Blaz Kovcic 6-3, 6-2 at the Serbia Open on Friday.
Hitting 18 winners, Djokovic broke his 85th ranked opponent on four of five occasions, while losing his delivery once. Improving to 26-0 on the season, Djokovic will next face countryman Janko Tipsarevic on Saturday evening. Tipsarevic defeated Somdev Devvarman 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 earlier in the day.
Djokovic remains on target to capture his fifth title of 2011.