October 4, 2010
Rakuten Japan Open Tennis—Tokyo
Former US Open champ Juan Martin del Potro was defeated soundly on Monday at the Japan Open in Tokyo. Falling to No. 6 seed Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-0, del Potro lost his second straight match since his return to action. Sidelined for nearly eight months with a wrist injury, del Potro displayed the inevitable rust that comes with not playing for many months.
Losing his serve on five occasions, del Potro dropped to 3-3 on the year after one hour and 21 minutes on-court. Lopez, who used the fast hard-court to his advantage, won 83 percent of his first serve points, while improving to 3-2 against del Potro in lifetime meetings. Pounding 11 aces during his 26th victory of the season, Lopez will next face either Rajeev Ram or recent Bangkok winner Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the second-round.
Del Potro, who was optimistic after his defeat, admitted that he would need more time to round into form.
“It is difficult to come back and play against these players, especially Feliciano on such a fast court,” said del Potro. “I need time, I need to work on a few things to get back to my best level. If I work in a good way, I will be in good shape in a month or so.”
Elsewhere, No. 7 seed Ernests Gulbis suffered another early defeat and fell to Dmitry Tursunov 6-3, 6-4; Radek Stepanek gutted out a tough win over Alejandro Falla 2-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5), and Daniel Gimeno-Traver dismissed Eduardo Schwank 6-4, 6-4.
Tour finale candidates Tomas Berdych and Fernando Verdasco were defeated in the first-round of the China Open on Monday.
Berdych, who reached the finals of Wimbledon and the semifinals of the French Open earlier this year, struck 10 aces, but won only 44 percent of his second serve points in a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 defeat to Michael Berrer.
Berrer, who reached the finals in Zagreb, Croatia earlier this year, converted on five of seven break point opportunities throughout the two hour and 21 minute encounter.
Improving to 17-22 on the season, Berrer will next face Gilles Simon, who defeated Sam Querrey 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
No. 6 seed Verdasco suffered his second straight first-round loss in as many weeks to tough German Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-2, 7-5. Failing to convert on four of five break point chances, Verdasco lost his delivery on four occasions, while winning only 36 percent of his second serve points. By contrast, Kohschreiber won 56 percent of his second serve points, while providing nine aces toward his one hour and 25 minute victory.
Verdasco, who is currently ranked No. 9 in the world, will now have more pressure on his shoulders as he attempts to qualify for the London finale. The Spaniard will next see action at the Shanghai Masters next week.
With the win, Kohlschreiber will next face towering American John Isner. The world No. 22 needed one hour and 28 minutes to defeat Tsung-Hua Yang 7-6 (5), 6-3.
Elsewhere, Mardy Fish set up a second-round meeting against No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic by defeating Janko Tipsarevic 6-2, 7-6 (5).
Quotes courtesy of ATP World Tour.
October 3, 2010
The main draw for this year’s China Open in Beijing will feature Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Robin Soderling, Tomas Berdych, Nikolay Davydenko, and Fernando Verdasco.
For the full China Open draw, click the link below.
October 1, 2010
PTT Thailand Open—Bangkok
Nine-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal made short work of his opponent on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the Thailand Open. Defeating Mikhail Kukushkin 6-2, 6-3, Nadal continued his stellar serving by winning 91 percent of his first serve points. Advancing to the final four in one hour and 11 minutes, Nadal struck seven aces, broke serve on three of four occasions, and never provided a break point to his opponent. Improving to 61-7 on the season, Nadal will next face either No. 4 seed Ernests Gulbis or fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the semifinals.
Winning six titles on the year, Nadal is making his first ever appearance in Thailand.
Elsewhere, Jarkko Nieminen upset No. 3 seed Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 7-6 (3) to reach the semifinals. Owning a spotless 3-0 head-to-head lead over the Austrian prior to today’s match, Nieminen used his improved serve and return game to advance in one hour and 14 minutes. Working with new coach Jan de Witt since the Wimbledon event, Nieminen explained his goals for the remainder of his career.
“I’ve had a new coach since Wimbledon, working with Jan de Witt,” said Nieminen. “We’ve worked on a lot of things, especially the serve, and everything takes time to take shape.
“I’m 29 years old and have been doing the same things for a long time, so it takes a while to implement changes into my game but I think I am serving better than ever now. I’m feeling very good and it’s very satisfying to get through to the semi-finals here.”
With the win, Nieminen advanced to his second semifinal of the season, after reaching the final four at Delray Beach in February. Nieminen will next face Benjamin Becker for a spot in the finals. Becker needed less than an hour on court to dismiss countryman Daniel Brands, 6-4, 6-2.
Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2010
Top seed Robin Soderling and No. 3 seed Tomas Berdych tumbled out of the Malaysian Open on Friday to less known foes.
Soderling, who reached the finals of Roland Garros earlier this year, was upended by Hamburg champ Andrey Golubev 6-3, 6-2. In a first time meeting between the two, Golubev used his sneaky quick serve to win 71 percent of his total serve points, while placing six aces past his Swedish opponent. Never losing his delivery throughout the one hour and 12 minute encounter, Golubev broke Soderling on four of eight occasions, while out-acing his taller opponent six aces to five.
Reaching his second semifinal of the season, Golubev reflected on the biggest win of his year.
“Everything was perfect. In the important points I played really well. I’m really happy,” said Golubev. “I expected, and it was, a really tough match, despite the score line. Against Robin if you get a chance you have to use it because the top guys don’t miss small opportunities to come back.”
Golubev will next face feisty Spaniard David Ferrer for a place in Sunday’s final. Ferrer posted a hard-fought victory over Wimbledon finalist Berdych, defeating the Czech 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. Tying Berdych with five aces throughout the two and a half hour match, Ferrer overcame the loss of the first set by breaking serve once in the second set, and twice in the third set. Improving to 5-2 against Berdych in lifetime meetings, Ferrer reached his ninth semifinal of the season. The world No. 11 spoke to the assembled media regarding his victory over Berdych.
“It was a very good match for me, perhaps my best of the season,” said Ferrer. “I’m happy for that because it was a very tough match. At 4-3 down [in the third set] I returned really good and when I was 5-4 up he made a few mistakes and I was able to win.”
Elsewhere, Mikhail Youzhny set up a semifinal showdown with countryman Igor Andreev by defeating Marcos Baghdatis 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-1. Youzhny, who reached the semifinals of the US Open for the second time in his career in September, fought through some testy moments in the second set which included five total breaks of serve. Overcoming the loss of the first set, Youzhny bounced back to tie the match at a set apiece, before blowing past the Cypriot in the final set.
Defeating Baghdatis for the second straight year in Kuala Lumpur, Youzhny will take a 2-1 head-to-head lead against Andreev into Saturday’s contest. Andreev needed three up-and-down sets to defeat Canadian upstart Milos Raonic 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. After winning the first set in 24 minutes, Andreev lost his serve to trail 2-0 in the second set. While Raonic’s blistering serve continued to pick up steam, Andreev remained adamant on chipping his return back in the court. With the match tied at one set all, Andreev cashed in on his first break point opportunity to lead 3-1 in the third set. Saving two break points to solidify a 5-2 lead, Andreev defeated his No. 237 ranked opponent, and reached his second semifinal of the season.
Andreev provided some feedback on his Canadian opponent, while looking ahead to his encounter with Youzhny.
“It was a very tough match. I think Milos is a very good player. He was serving very well and he has a good game, good potential,” said Andreev. ”I’m really happy with the way I played today, that I used my chances and finally won the match. I haven’t played in a semi-final since February this year, so it’s great to play well again. Winning some matches gives you a lot of confidence and gives you a great feeling.”
Quotes courtesy of ATP World Tour.
September 30, 2010
PTT Thailand Open—Bangkok
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal advanced to the quarterfinals of the Thailand Open on Thursday with a straight set thrashing of Ruben Bemelmans, 6-1, 6-4.
Winning 92 percent of his first serve points, Nadal broke his Belgium opponent on three of eight occasions. Improving to 60-7 on the season, Nadal needed one hour and 11 minutes to advance, and will next face Oliver Rochus or Mikhail Kukushkin in the quarterfinals.
“It’s never easy in a first match,” said Nadal. “I had a few days rest after the US Open but I think I am playing well. I’m happy with my match. Bemelmans played well during some moments and the second set for sure was not easy. It’s important to start with a win.
The top ranked Spaniard was further aided in his title bid when No. 2 seed Fernando Verdasco crashed out of the tournament. Losing to Benjamin Becker 6-4, 6-4, Verdasco dropped his second match in six meetings against the German.
The No. 2 seed committed four double faults throughout the one hour and 27 minute match, while striking one ace. By contrast, Becker’s booming delivery posted nine aces to only four double faults. The 29-year-old also won 79 percent of his first serve points, while breaking serve on three of five occasions.
“It’s always good to get a win over a Top 10 player,” said Becker. “It’s not every week that it happens, so it gives me confidence for the rest of the indoor season. I had beaten him before so I knew I had a chance today.”
Becker, who reached the finals in Bangkok in 2007, will next face Daniel Brands for a semifinal spot. Brands dispatched Thiemo de Bakker on Wednesday.
Elsewhere, No. 7 seed Viktor Troicki was bounced from the event by Jarrko Nieminen, 7-6 (4), 6-2. Nieminen will next face No. 3 seed Jurgen Melzer.
Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2010
Top seed Robin Soderling wasted little time in reaching the quarterfinals of the Malaysian Open on Thursday. Breezing past Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-0, 6-1, Soderling won 80 percent of his first serve points, while striking four aces. Needing one hour and three minutes to advance, Soderling broke Roger-Vasselin’s serve on six of 14 occasions, while saving two break points.
Reaching the semifinals of the Malaysian Open in 2009, Soderling will next face Hamburg champ Andrey Golubev, who defeated Kevin Anderson 6-4, 7-6 (4). Soderling, who is currently ranked No. 5 in the world, remains in the hunt for a top eight position during the Tour finale in London.
Fellow top tenner and No. 3 seed Tomas Berdych raced into the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Denis Istomin. Needing a boost of confidence heading into the final stretch of the season, Berdych stung seven aces past Istomin during the one hour and 23 minute encounter. Improving to 2-0 against Istomin in lifetime meetings, Berdych will next face No. 5 seed David Ferrer. Ferrer posted a solid 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 532 ranked Yuki Bhambri.
Losing in the first-round of the event last year, Ferrer will take a 4-2 head-to-head series lead against Berdych on Friday.
Quotes courtesy of ATP World Tour.
September 27, 2010
by: Nima Naderi
The Asian circuit begins in full swing this week with events in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal is back in action after his US Open victory, while Juan Martin del Potro returns to the Tour after a lengthy wrist injury. Over in Kuala Lumpur, Robin Soderling will lead the way against a formidable 28-man field. Consisting of Tomas Berdych, Mikhail Youzhny, and David Ferrer, the Malaysian Open will set the stage for the upcoming events in Tokyo and Beijing.
I’m still on the fence with Nadal returning to the circuit immediately after his culminating Slam victory, but I suspect that a hefty appearance fee, and the fact that he missed the event last year due to injury, persuaded him to show up this year. Apart from Nadal’s unnecessary early trek to Asia, the other combatants in the two events have a lot to play for. While Nadal and Roger Federer have locked up two of the eight spots for the Tour finale in London, the six remaining positions will begin to take shape this week.
Will Nadal’s form continue in Thailand? Will del Potro make an immediate impact upon his return? Will Soderling begin his favorite time of the season in style? Will Berdych sneak out of his recent funk?
With a lot to answer, there’s certainly a lot to look forward to this week.
PTT Thailand Open—Bangkok
While a tournament win would do nothing for Nadal’s ranking, the Spaniard never shows up to a tournament without giving it everything he has. Starting off with a bye in the first-round, Nadal will face one of two qualifiers in the second-round before setting up a possible mouth-watering match against del Potro. The lanky Argentine has been out of commission since January, but has owned Nadal on hard-courts in the past. However, considering the circumstances at hand, and Nadal’s ominous level at the moment, I think it’s safe to say that he would move through comfortably.
Ernests Gulbis also lurks as a possible threat to Nadal in the section, but the Latvian has shown sub-par form in recent months, and his confidence remains low.
Nevertheless, it’s good to see Delpo back in the mix, and his powerful ball-striking should round into form in the coming weeks. I’m sure we’d all like to see a quarterfinal battle between the last two US Open champs, but I wouldn’t expect an epic result just yet.
Look for Nadal to continue this winning ways in the section, and reach his eighth final of the year.
Fernando Verdasco will enter Bangkok in search of his third title of the season. Losing in the quarterfinals of New York to Nadal, Verdasco’s draw in Bangkok could get complicated from the quarterfinals onward. The No. 2 seed could face up-and-coming Dutch youngster Thiemo de Bakker in the final eight, with a semifinal showdown against either No. 3 seed Jurgen Melzer, or No. 7 seed Viktor Troicki on the horizon.
Verdasco’s fourth-round victory over Ferrer at the Open was a great effort, and if he’s finally figured out his racket issues for the season, then I’d certainly give him a great shot of contending for the title. I do however like what I’ve been seeing from De Bakker as of late, and the future 10 tenner is beginning to pick up steam. Possessing great racket head speed and hard-work on his side, look for De Bakker to become the surprise of the event.
However, regardless of a great performance by the Dutchman, this event remains Nadal’s to win or lose. The Spaniard may need a round or two to find his barrings after completing his Grand Slam package, but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t walk away from the event the winner.
Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2010
The second edition of the Malaysian Open will feature world No. 5 and top seed Robin Soderling in search of his second title of the season. Soderling has continued to improve his game this year, but his march through the tightly knit field will be difficult. While Hamburg champ Andrey Golubev is slated to be Soderling’s quarterfinal opponent, hard-serving South African Kevin Anderson remains a more likely adversary. Anderson has an all-or-nothing back-court game, but the Swede remains the best in the world at swinging for the fences.
Berdych and Ferrer are also in this half of the draw, and both players will hope for a quality result. Berdych has been up-and-down this year, but when he’s hit his highs, he’s been deadly. Something tells me that the Czech believes that he belongs in the Tour finale in London, and the lack of elements during the indoor season will allow him to fulfill that promise. Ferrer has posted quality results in Asia in previous years, and he certainly can’t be overlooked.
All in all, considering that this half of the draw is loaded to the brim, a few upset, or worthy victories could be handed out. However, Soderling appears to be in the best form in this section, and that should mean something against either Berdych or Ferrer. I’ll stay with the Swede to reach the finals, with Berdych a close second.
The bottom half of the draw features defending champ Nikolay Davydenko. The Russian has encountered an awful season after injuring his wrist in the spring, and although he possess a relatively easy draw to the finals, I wouldn’t pencil him in just yet. Potentially facing workmanlike Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky in the quarterfinals, Davydenko could run into Marcos Baghdatis, Mikhail Youzhny, or Alexandr Dolgopolov in the semifinals. Baghdatis was burnt out heading into New York, while Youzhny pulled in the highlight of his year by reaching the semifinals at Flushing Meadows. Dolgopolov alongside De Bakker appear to be spearheaded toward the top 10, but the young Ukrainian still needs to work on his shot-selection before he can fulfill his potential.
Watch out for young Canadian Milos Raonic in this section, but the glory of a finals appearance should belong to Youzhny.
Youzhny has played solid throughout the past 12 months, but he’ll need his length of shot to be in order for a chance to upend Soderling in the finals.
I just don’t see the indoor conditions backfiring on the Swede.
September 25, 2010
The 28-man draw for this year’s Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2010 event will feature Robin Soderling, Nikolay Davydenko, Tomas Berdych, Mikhail Youzhny, and David Ferrer.
For the complete men’s draw to this year’s ATP World Tour 250 point event, click the link below.
September 14, 2010
by: Nima Naderi
Davis Cup Preview:
Playing for one’s country often brings out the best level of play from the world’s greatest tennis players. With the Davis Cup World Group competition shaved down to four elite teams, this weekend’s action in France and Serbia should bring forth some exhilarating storylines.
Fresh off of his great run in New York, Novak Djokovic will quickly head to Serbia in order to aid his country toward their first ever Davis Cup final. Squaring off against a fresh Czech team, Djokovic and company will have to dig deep in order to survive.
The indoor facility in Lyon, France will host the weekend’s second World Group tie. Played on a slick, indoor, hard-court surface, the French squad led by Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet, will be in tough against the never-say-die Argentines. Top-ranked Argentine David Nalbandian has publicly made it clear that his career goal is to hoist the Davis Cup title, and he’ll be joined in his quest by consistent baseline player Juan Monaco.
Let’s now take a look at the respective semifinal World Group ties, as well as outlining the World Group playoff match ups.
France vs. Argentina—Palais des Sports de Gerland, Lyon
France leads Argentina 4-0 in career ties.
Team Captain for France: Guy Forget
Team Captain for Argentina: Tito Vazquez
The always dangerous Frenchmen will be playing in their second straight tie at home. With Monfils, Gasquet, and Michael Llodra pulling in quality performances at the US Open, the transition to the enclosed court in Lyon should be favorable.
Monfils could become the X-factor in this contest, depending on his mindset. Forgetting how to compete against Djokovic during their quarterfinal contest at the Open, Monfils will have to put forth a better effort in front of his local fans. Gasquet and Llorda have also endured up and down seasons, but both players rebounded nicely to win a few matches in the Big Apple.
Llodra will likely be Forget’s singles choice alongside Monfils, while Gasquet and Gilles Simon could take over for Saturday’s doubles rubber.
David Nalbandian will likely have to win both of his singles matches—just like he did in Russia—in order for his squad to advance. The doubles tandem of Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos did reach the semifinals of the US Open, but their loopy strokes and slower serves will not be favored on the indoor surface.
Taking into account the variables of the court, and Llodra’s serve and volley expertise, I’d say that France has a slight advantage in this tie.
Although Nalbandian will be tough to beat, he’ll need some help from his amigos if he’s to advance. Unless Nalbandian takes part in Saturday’s doubles action, I’m not entirely convinced that Argentina can survive with Schwank and Zeballos pairing up on Saturday.
This tie should provide some great cat and mouse dialogue for the near 6,000 in attendance.
Pick: France wins 3-2.
Serbia vs. Czech Republic—Belgrade Arena, Belgrade
First time meeting.
Team Captain for Serbia: Bogdan Obradovic
Team Captain for Czech Republic: Jaroslav Navratil
Highlighted by a fatigued Serbian team versus a fresh Czech Republic squad, the weekend’s second World Group semifinal could be the most compelling.
Where Djokovic will be beaming with confidence from his stellar run in New York, one has to question the transition that he’ll take from court surfaces to countries when gearing up for this tie. Djokovic was put through the ringer in reaching the finals at the US Open, and he’ll be hard-pressed to recover in time for his matches. Viktor Troicki, who almost defeated Djokovic in the first round of the Open, holds a powerful game, but has struggled with confidence issues throughout his career.
Janko Tipsarevic also put forth a respectable march in New York by defeating Andy Roddick in the second round, but a recent ankle injury could hinder his court coverage.
Doubles dynamo Nenad Zimonjic should be able to keep up his end of the bargain, but he’ll need a worthy partner in order to prevail.
The Czech team will be entering this weekend’s action full of promise. With Berdych, Radek Stepanek, Jan Hajek, and Ivo Minar either losing in the first round of the Open or failing to qualify, the physically fresher Czech Republic team will be favored. Reaching the finals of last year’s Davis Cup competition before losing to Spain, Berdych and Stepanek could end up playing the entire weekend.
With Djokovic being spent, and Berdych and Stepanek in fresher form, an upset at home for the Czechs appears more than likely.
Tipsarevic could prove to be Serbia’s saving grace in this tie, but he’ll have to engage in the similar go-for-broke mentally that he showed against Roddick in New York.
All in all, taking into account Djokovic’s late arrival to Serbia, coupled by the Czech Republic’s rested squad, I’m more inclined to pick a repeat run for the Berdych led team.
Look for the crowd to be involved in a major way in this tie, but it may not be enough considering the variables that have been presented.
Pick: Czech Republic wins 3-2.
World Group Play-Offs
Israel vs Austria (Begins 16 September)
Nokia Stadium, Tel Aviv
Hard – Indoors
Colombia vs United States
Plaza de Toros La Santamaria , Bogota
Clay – Outdoors
Germany vs South Africa
TC Weissenhof Stuttgart, Stuttgart
Clay – Outdoors
Sweden vs Italy
Sparbanken Lidkoping Arena, Lidkopoing
Hard – Indoors
India vs Brazil
SDAT Tennis Stadium, Chennai
Hard – Outdoors
Australia vs Belgium
Cairns International Tennis Centre, North Cairns
Hard – Outdoors
Kazakhstan vs Switzerland
The National Tennis Centre, Astana
Hard – Indoors
Romania vs Ecuador
Centrul National de Tenis, Bucharest
Clay – Outdoors
Americas Zone Group
Canada vs. Dominican Republic
Rexall Center, Canada
Players: Peter Polansky, Frank Dancevic, Milos Raonic, and Daniel Nestor.
Team Captain: Martin Laurendeau
Players: Jhonson Garcia, Victor Estrella, Luis Delgado, and Jose Hernandez
Team Captain: Rafael Moreno
September 1, 2010
US Open—New York
No. 4 seed Andy Murray d. Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-2, 6-2; Michael Llodra d. No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych 7-6(3), 6-4, 6-4; No. 12 seed Mikhail Youzhny d. Andrey Golubev 6-2, 6-3, 6-3; No. 14 seed Nicolas Almagro d. Potito Starace 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(5); Ryan Harrison d. No. 15 seed Ivan Ljubicic 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4; No. 18 seed John Isner d. Frederico Gil 6-4, 6-3, 6-4; No. 20 seed Sam Querrey d. Bradley Klahn 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4; No. 25 seed Stanislas Wawrinka d. Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-2, 6-2; No. 29 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber d. Tobias Kamke 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4; Juan Ignacio Chela d. Yen-Hsun Lu 6-4, 4-6 6-3, 6-3; Sergiy Stakhovsky d. Peter Luczak 6-7(8), 7-5, 6-4, 6-2; Dudi Sela d. Xavier Malisse 7-6(1), 7-5, 6-2; Dustin Brown d. Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 6-4, 7-6(6), 7-5; Marcel Granollers d. Andreas Seppi 2-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3; Guillermo Garcia-Lopez d. Lukasz Kubot 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(4); Gilles Simon d. Donald Young 6-1, 6-4, 6-2; Marco Chiudinelli d. Jack Sock 6-1, 6-4, 1-6, 6-1; Victor Hanescu d. Carlos Berlocq 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.
Second Round Results:
No. 17 seed Gael Monfils d. Igor Andreev 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
Matches that are still to come on Wednesday will feature Andy Roddick vs. Janko Tipsarevic.
August 17, 2010
Western & Southern Financial Group Masters—Cincinnati, Ohio
Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych continued his fine form on Tuesday during his second-round match in Cincinnati. Defeating Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-4, Berdych improved to 41-14 on the season, and will next face Marcos Baghdatis for a spot in the quarterfinals. Baghdatis needed two hours and eight minutes to oust Thomaz Bellucci 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4).
Berdych, who served for the match against Roger Federer last week during the quarterfinals in Toronto, struck six aces and broke serve on three of four occasions. Winning 77 percent of his first serve points, Berdych kept his unbeaten streak against Frenchman intact at 3-0 lifetime.
The towering Czech also reached the semifinals of the French Open earlier this year.
In search of a dominate Grand Slam performance, American Mardy Fish powered through former top six player Gilles Simon during first-round action. Winning in Newport and Atlanta to start the summer, Fish needed one hour and 43 minutes to record a 7-6 (4), 7-5 scoreline.
Reaching the finals of Cincinnati in 2003, Fish talked about his comfort level on hard-courts.
“Well, I think I tend to play better in the States,” said Fish. Summer has always been a good time of year for me. It’s close to home. You know, friends and family can come and go a lot easier.
“And the courts and the weather have always suited my game real well. It’s fast this year. The weather tends to be maybe a little bit hotter. It’s usually extremely hot here. So that’s something different.
“But, you know, conditions are still almost perfect out there. You know, not much wind, not much humidity, still 80 or 85 degrees or something like that. But you don’t feel it at all compared to some other events we’ve played this year.”
Fish will next face his toughest opponent of the summer when he faces No. 8 seed Fernando Verdasco in the second-round. The American holds a 2-1 head-to-head series lead over the Spaniard.
Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt benefited from an injury to Yen-Hsun Lu to advance to second-round action. Losing by a set and 4-0, Lu retired with a back injury.
Hewitt, a finalist in 2002 and 2004, will next face powerful Swede Robin Soderling for a place in the third-round. Holding a 3-0 career head-to-head series lead over Soderling, Hewitt captured two straight set wins over the No. 5 seed in 2004, while overcoming a first set loss to prevail at the Cincinnati event last year.
Hewitt, who captured the Halle event earlier this year, withdrew from Toronto last week with a leg injury.
Elsewhere, Denis Istomin d. James Blake 6-3, 6-0; John Isner d. Lukasz Kubot 6-2, 6-3; Richard Gasquet d. No. 12 seed Mikhail Youzhny 2-6, 6-4, 6-1; David Nalbandian d. No. 15 seed Ivan Ljubicic 7-5 6-0; Alejandro Falla d. No. 16 seed Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-4; Julien Benneteau d. Michael Llodra 3-6, 6-3, 6-2; Philipp Kohlschreiber d. Horacio Zeballos 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-4; Ernests Gulbis d. Donald Young 7-6(5), 6-4, and Jeremy Chardy d. Florian Mayer 6-2, 7-6(4).
Wednesday’s action in Cincinnati will feature:
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray.
August 14, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You seemed to be struggling with your serve during the first set tonight and then suddenly turned things around in the second and even in the third set were serving quite well. What adjustments did you make between that first and second set to raise your percentage on serve?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I don’t think it was just any like big adjustments on my serve. I mean, I just ?? I was just keep going, you know. You know, tried to do it every time the same, you know, same thing.
Yeah, that’s how it is, you know, you just start the match and sometimes you don’t feel it right, you don’t feel the right rhythm, and, you know, all of a sudden just, you know, with more and more games, you just getting closer on it, and that’s it.
So I don’t think that I just changed something that I would serve like with more spin or something, so no, it was just, you know, same as beginning.
Q. What do you think in such a tight match, in such a match that could have gone either way, what do you think was the difference tonight?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Oh, well, I mean, the difference was really, really small one, you know. I would say that we both play quite a good tennis today. But just, you know, I mean, just everybody see like, you know, forehand, backhands, whatever.
But I think the part of the game is the luck, as well. And this aspect I was just missing a little bit today, you know. It was little more on his side, and, you know, it was just about one, two points in the tiebreak.
Q. You’re referring to the net cord? I think he hit ?? there was one that just dribbled over I think early in the tiebreak?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, could be the one. We can find couple of more. (Smiling.)
Q. You’ve got some taping on your left knee and thigh area. Can you speak about what you’re dealing with there, and did that play any part at all tonight in hindering you in any way?
TOMAS BERDYCH: No. I mean, everything is fine. I mean, I’m not looking for any excuses, so I’m fine.
Q. Having had the close history, history of close matches with him, and having beaten him the last two times, does this make it easier knowing you can beat him, or does it make it more difficult to take the loss?
TOMAS BERDYCH: You could just see it on the court that we played today against, you know, such a long match. I lost in the tiebreak of the third set, so I don’t think that even with any other opponent you can say it is easier or tougher, so every match is different. That how it was today.
It was different match than we play in Wimbledon, and, yeah, I mean, it was about just couple of points. It was ?? today it was on his side, so yeah, that’s how it is. Maybe if we gonna play tomorrow, it will be completely different match again.
Q. I remember, I think I noted somewhere at 5?4 you were serving, on those deuce points, each time you kept sliding it out wide to Federer’s forehand. Any reason for that? Was that a preferred play, a game plan, something that you had done?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, actually, I mean, I was quite confident for the serve to go wide, you know, and then even if I go ?? or if I went wide, and the serve was not like kind of ace or something like that, then I would say he’s like ?? I mean, he’s like ?? he’s not that strong, I would say, on the forehand return, that side, you know, because from the backhand he can play more options, you know. He can play slice, he can play with a lift, he can just push it up there, just put it in the court.
And from the side you have, you know, more ?? you just have more angles, you know, to serve, you know, just open up the court.
Yeah, I served it, I would say, quite well there but then just make the mistake from the second shot, which is a pretty big mistake, but, yeah, I mean, that’s just how it is.
Q. I know this is a tough loss, and I don’t know what is in your nature. From my own personal opinion, you don’t look too happy. I don’t know, but is it that the crowd actually react to you? You think they were not very friendly?
TOMAS BERDYCH: No, definitely not. How can I be happy after the match I lost, and I lost 7?6 in the third when I was serving to close out the match. There is no, any other aspects that I can be sitting here and be just a little bit, you know, happy.
So you are right, that I’m really sad after the match like that. You know, just I think that’s the worst thing, you know. I don’t ?? I hate losing any other matches, not even if you lose 7?6 in the fourth, if you just lost 6?1, 6?1, I hate it, so just need take some time and then just go again for the next matches.
Q. Are you satisfied with quarterfinal in this tournament, or were you hoping for something more?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Actually, I’m not the one like who’s going to come for tournament, just see the draw and say, Well, I want to go semis. I’m kind of player that, you know, just want to play my best every match I go on court, try to win it.
And what happen is just gonna happen. You know, I’m really sad that I lost today, and yeah, of course, I mean, the quarterfinal is ?? it’s all right result for me that, you know, I beat all those guys who are, you know, just a little bit behind me just, you know, to like defend my position, but this match is ?? well, yeah, I’m sad from that and just take some time, you know, to get ready again.
Q. What did you think of the crowd? Did they annoy you? Did they affect, you know, the tiebreaker at the end?
TOMAS BERDYCH: No, I mean, it’s ?? it’s all right. I’m happy that so many people just come to see, and they were enjoying, so just let them enjoying, and that’s it.
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