Paris Masters: Order of Play for Tuesday November 9, 2010

November 8, 2010

Tuesday’s order of play at the Paris Masters 1000 will feature Fernando Verdasco, Gael Monfils, and Tomas Berdych.

For Tuesday’s full order of play, click the link below.

Order of play for Tuesday November 9, 2010.

ATP Swiss Indoors Basel: Draw Preview and Analysis

October 31, 2010

SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 15: Novak Djokovic of Serbia checks a ball during his match against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain during day five of the 2010 Shanghai Rolex Masters at the Shanghai Qi Zhong Tennis Center on October 15, 2010 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images)

Tournament Preview:

There will be more than a few compelling storylines to follow this week at the Swiss Indoors Basel event in Switzerland. First off, Roger Federer returns to his hometown tournament in search of his 65th career title, while attempting to recapture the crown that Novak Djokovic defeated him for last year.

Although Federer and Djokovic have firmly cemented their names in the season-ending finale in London—Tomas Berdych, Andy Roddick, Jurgen Melzer, Marin Cilic, Ivan Ljubicic, and John Isner—all of whom still have a mathematical chance of capturing one of the three remaining spots at the O2 Arena, are ranked three through eight in the draw, respectively.

Holding 500 crucial points to the winner, the Basel champion will pocket € 291,700 in prize money.

After musing through the 32-man field, I was pleasantly surprised to see the quality of first-round matches on hand. There could be a handful of early exits from the top seeds—considering their opposition—but I’m willing to bet that more than a few classic encounters are contested by week’s end.

Let’s now dive into an analysis of the top and bottom halves of the draw.

Top Half:

If there’s one match that I’ve been waiting to see all season, it’s been a clash between Roger Federer vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov. The young Ukrainian is one of the most talented players on the circuit, and remains the youngest player inside the top 100. Possessing exquisite timing and balance off the ground, Dolgopolov will be tested by the artful grace of Federer from the get go.

Federer’s opposition in this half apart from facing Dolgopolov will feature the likes of Janko Tipsarevic, Melzer, Roddick, Sam Querrey, and David Nalbandian.

Tipsarevic has had a banner year, while Melzer remains hot on the heels of a singles position in London. Roddick has been cleared by doctors to resume his fight towards the World Tour finale, but America’s top ranked player will have to get by good friend Querrey in the first-round.

Nalbandian, who has troubled Federer in the past, remains capable of a monumental upset, but could very easily lose to Marin Cilic in the second-round.

Don’t get me started on Cilic, who has been the single biggest disappointment of the 2010 season.

Look for some imminent fireworks between Federer and Dolgopolov before the second-round, but I wouldn’t count out a hungry Roddick to make a determined charge to the semifinals.

However, Federer has reached the finals or better in his native event on six occasions, and that record should prove to be worthy as the week moves on.

We can all hope for a Federer-Nalbandian semifinal tussle on Saturday, but I’ll stay with the Swiss master to make his seventh final in Basel.

Pick: Federer

Bottom Half:

With a breath of fresh and the roof over his head, Djokovic appears ready to end the year in fine form.

The defending champ was dealt a menacing draw, though, which will see him face Ernests Gulbis in the first-round, and John Isner or Marcos Baghdatis in the quarterfinals. Isner struck his 1,000th ace of the season last week in Montpellier, and he would be a formidable final eight opponent for the Serb.

Berdych will also be a man to watch for this week, considering his recent poor form. Berdych needs a big result in Basel, and an early exit would allow David Ferrer, Roddick, or Fernando Verdasco to leapfrog him in the race to London. Berdych is a swing for the fences kind of guy, and when his game is clicking, there are very few players who can stop him.

Ivan Ljubicic and Viktor Troicki have been playing well as of late, but neither player has posted the recent results to indicate a deep charge in a tournament of this magnitude.

With that being said, I’ve enjoyed watching Troicki develop his confidence, and his linebacker style of play could provide an upset or two.

However, Djokovic has proven since the US Open that his talent can not be undermined. He’s defended the points that he’s needed to, and there’s no reason for him to stop in Switzerland.

Taking down the king pin last year, Djokovic should have enough game to set up a rematch with Federer this year. A result that could very well resemble last year’s final.

Pick: Djokovic

Champion: Djokovic

Kooyong Field Rounding into Form

October 22, 2010

CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 18: Lleyton Hewitt of Australia celebrates a point during the doubles match against Olivier Rochus and Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium during day two of the Davis Cup tie between Australia and Belgium at Cairns International Tennis Centre on September 18, 2010 in Cairns, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The field for the premier exhibition event prior to the year’s first Major in Australia is almost complete.

Adding former Australian Open finalist Lleyton Hewitt to the list, the eight-man round-robin event will boast Tomas Berdych, Mikhail Youzhny, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, and Fernando Verdasco.

The final two spots will be awarded by tournament director Colin Stubs.

ATP: If Stockholm Open Preview

October 18, 2010

Robin Soderling of Sweden celebrates after winning his second round match against Nicolas Almagro of Spain at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing October 7, 2010.  REUTERS/David Gray   (CHINA - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

by: Nima Naderi

If Stockholm Open—Sweden

This week’s Stockholm Open will mark the first time top seed Roger Federer returns to the field since his second-round exit in 2000. Reclaiming the world No. 2 spot with a finals run in Shanghai, Federer will be joined in the 28-man draw by No. 2 seed Robin Soderilng, and No. 3 seed Tomas Berdych.

Soderling, who reached the finals of his hometown event in 2003 and 2008, remains hot on the heels of a World Tour finale position. The hard-hitting Swede has suffered a drop in form as of late, and was defeated handily by Federer in the Shanghai quarterfinals.

Berdych has also struggled on Tour since making the finals of Wimbledon. Losing early at the US Open, the powerful Czech hasn’t won three matches in a row since July. Suffering from a stomach ailment before losing in the third-round of the Shanghai event, Berdych previously recorded a quarterfinal showing in Stockholm during his lone appearance in 2006.

Other contenders for the title in Stockholm will include No. 4 seed Ivan Ljubicic, No. 5 seed Stanislas Wawrinka, and No. 6 seed Feliciano Lopez.

The winner of the week-long 250 point event will take home € 95,845 in prize money.

Let’s now take a look at the top and bottom halves of the draw.

Top Half:

The knowledgeable Swedish crowd will be ecstatic to finally get a glimpse of Federer after a decade absence. Having watched the Swiss prior to his year’s of dominance, the fans in Stockholm could be in line for a deep run by the Swiss. Facing either Taylor Dent or Michal Przysiezny in the second-round, Federer would likely take on countryman Wawrinka in the quarterfinals. Rounding into form during his quarterfinal march at the US Open, Wawrinka could test Federer in a final eight contest.

Ljubicic recently showed signs of his Indian Wells victory by posting decent results in Asia, but the aging Croatian would likely have to fend off Oliver Rochus, and German Tobias Kamke to reach a semifinal against Federer. Kamke captured his second Challenger title of the season in California over the weekend, while increasing his ranking to a career high of No. 72.

With that being said, Federer’s jet-lag from Asia could be his biggest worry entering this half. The 16-time Slam champ should have enough energy and confidence to reach his seventh final of the season.

Watch out for dark horse Robin Hasse in this section.

Pick: Federer

Bottom Half:

Turning into an instant hero after his finals appearance at the French Open last year, Soderling will enter the Stockholm event in search of his second title of 2010.

Taking on either Benjamin Becker or a qualifier in his first match, Soderling could face No. 6 seed Lopez, or countryman Michael Ryderstedt in the quarterfinals. Ryderstedt, who pulled off a first-round win on Monday against Daniel Gimeno-Traver, is currently ranked No. 392 in the world.

Former top four player James Blake could be a name to watch for this week. The 30-year-old is on his last legs on Tour, and needed a wildcard to enter the event. Blake’s first match will be against clay-court specialist Thomaz Bellucci. The Brazilian has struggled to make his western forehand adapt to the faster surfaces on Tour, but he will remain the favorite against the fragile American.

Berdych is without question the other standout player in the half, and his road to a blockbuster semifinal against Soderling appears all but likely. The two power hitters have never been the best of friends on Tour, and their potential 10th meeting on the circuit could be a barnburner.

All in all, I’d be surprised if Soderling or Berdych didn’t reach Sunday’s final. However, with the home crowd behind him this week, I’d say that Soderling holds the slight edge over the Czech.

Watch out for dark horse Florian (the new Fabrice Santoro) Mayer in this section.

Pick: Soderling

Champion: Federer

If Stockholm Open: Men’s Singles Draw

October 16, 2010

The high profile 28-man field in Stockholm, Sweden this year will feature Roger Federer, Robin Soderling, Tomas Berdych, and Ivan Ljubicic.

If Stockholm Open: Men’s singles draw.

Shanghai Masters: Roddick Wins; Isner Saves 7 Match Points to Advance

October 12, 2010

Andy Roddick of the U.S. returns the ball to Gael Monfils of France during the Japan Open tennis championships in Tokyo October 8, 2010. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao (JAPAN - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

Shanghai Rolex Masters—China

No. 10 seed Andy Roddick charged into the second-round of the Shanghai Masters on Tuesday with a 6-1, 2-1 retirement victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Needing 53 minutes to advance, Roddick began the contest in great form by breaking the German in the sixth game of the set. However, with Kohlschreiber’s health continuing to deteriorate at the beginning of the second set, the world No. 32 would end the match after the third game.

With the win, Roddick will next face Guillermo Garica-Lopez, who defeated Eduardo Schwank on Monday.

Aiming to reach the World Tour finale in London, Roddick discussed his outlook on the remainder of the season.

“London is something I want to be a part of,” said Roddick.

“I qualified [for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals] last year and didn’t get to play ’cause of my knee that I hurt here. It just looked like an amazing event. It’s a goal at the beginning of every year. It’s in my hands now. I’m in the position I need to be in.”

“I feel good,” said Roddick, who will play in Basel and Paris through to the end of the regular season. “I don’t feel like I’m fighting myself out there right now. I feel like, after the US Open, I was kind of able to train the way I want to for the first time in a while.”

Elsewhere, marathon man John Isner chalked up another epic victory over Lukasz Kubot in first-round action. Saving three match points in the second set, Isner saved four further match points in the third set to prevail, 4-6, 7-6(9), 7-6(7).

Needing two hours and 50 minutes to advance, Isner will next face No. 3 seed Roger Federer in the second-round.

Blasting 24 aces past his Polish opponent, Isner improved to 35-20 on the season. The 24-year-old currently trails Federer 1-0 in career head-to-head meetings.

Other winners on the day included Tomas Berdych battling stomach problems to defeat Tommy Robredo 6-0, 6-4; David Ferrer continuing to find his form in Asia with a 7-6 (2), 6-1 victory over Micheal Llodra; Ivan Ljubicic needing three sets to defeat Ze Zhang 5-7, 6-3, 6-4; Janko Tipsarevic dispatching Andrey Golubev 6-3, 6-4; Daniel Gimeno-Traver dismissing Denis Istomin 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, and Yan Bai delighting hometown fans with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Radek Stepanek.

Yan, who is ranked No. 465 in the world, scored his first Tour level victory, and will next face No. 4 seed Andy Murray in second-round action.

“It’s my first time in a top-level tournament, so it’s really an unexpected performance for me,” said 21-year-old Bai. “My club gives me some opportunities to play overseas. They cover the cost. The national team also provides me with some support because I’m somehow different.”

Quotes courtesy of ATP World Tour.

Del Potro Defeated in Japan; Verdasco and Berdych Dusted in China

October 4, 2010

TOKYO - OCTOBER 04: Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during his match against Feliciano Lopez of Spain during on day one of the Rakuten Japan Open at Ariake Colosseum on October 4, 2010 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

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.

China Open—Beijing

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.

ATP: China Open Main Draw

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.

China Open main draw.

Nadal Reaches Semifinals in Bangkok; Soderling and Berdych Ousted in Kuala Lumpur

October 1, 2010

BANGKOK, THAILAND - OCTOBER 01: Rafael Nadal of Spain serves against Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan during the Day 7 of the PTT Thailand Open at Impact Arena on October 1, 2010 in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images)

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.

Nadal Wins in Bangkok; Soderling and Berdych Advance in Malaysia

September 30, 2010

Spain's Fernando Verdasco reacts after losing a game against Germany's Benjamin Becker during the Thailand Open 2010 tennis tournament in Bangkok September 30, 2010. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj (THAILAND - Tags: SPORT TENNIS IMAGES OF THE DAY)

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.

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