WTF: Nadal Defeats Berdych, Flies into Semifinals Undefeated

November 26, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball during his men's singles match against Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic during the ATP World Tour Finals at O2 Arena on November 26, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Barclays ATP World Tour Finale—London, England

Top seed Rafael Nadal reached the semifinals of the season-ending event in London on Friday, defeating No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych 7-6 (3), 6-1.

Persevering through a tough first set, Nadal overcame a disputed line call 5-6, 15-all to gain full control. Matching Berdych with four aces throughout the one hour and 55 minute contest, Nadal struck 27 winners and 13 unforced errors. By contrast, Berdych committed 32 unforced errors, while hitting only 18 winners.

Hanging with the No. 1 seed for much of the first set, Berdych’s power was nullified during the tiebreak. Continuing his downward spiral in the second set, Berdych executed a miserable drop shot to fall behind 3-1, while losing his serve once again to trail 5-1.

Nadal, who captured the match after Berdych sailed a forehand return long, improved to 9-3 against the Czech in lifetime meetings. Winning his 70th match of the season, Nadal will next face Andy Murray in Saturday’s semifinal.

Berdych, who ended the year with a 45-26 record, reached the finals of the Wimbledon (l. Nadal), and the semifinals of the French Open as his highlights of 2010.

Nadal leads Murray 8-4 in their career head-to-head series.

Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach defeated second seeds Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 6-0, 1-6, 10-6 in Group B doubles action.

Friday’s final round robin match will feature No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic vs. No. 8 seed Andy Roddick. In order to advance to Saturday’s semifinal, Djokovic will have to win at least one set against Roddick. If the American defeats the Serb in straight sets, he will advance to the final four. Roddick has defeated Djokovic on four straight occasions.

WTF: Berdych Overcomes Sluggish Start to Defeat Roddick in London

November 24, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 22: Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic serves in his singles match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena on November 22, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

ATP World Tour Finale—London, England

Struggling Czech Tomas Berdych recorded a much needed win at the season-ending event in London on Wednesday, defeating a distracted Andy Roddick 7-5, 6-3.

Saving two set point at 5-4 down in the first set, Berdych began to tighten up his return game before mounting his comeback. After evening the set at 5-all, Berdych held serve for a 6-5 lead, before breaking Roddick once again in the ensuing game.

Continuing his rejuvenated confidence in the second set, Berdych broke Roddick on two of three occasions, including the final game of the match. Losing four-straight encounters to the American prior to his victory, Berdych will next face Rafael Nadal on Friday in his last round robin match.

Roddick, who was visibility disgruntled by his poor return game and low first serve percentage, became even more anger when the revolving ads behind the court turned on by mistake. Falling to 0-2 in Group A action, Roddick is now eliminated from reaching this year’s semifinals.

Addressing his outburst with the umpire, Roddick said: “I was angry with myself, and there wasn’t anyone else to talk to.”

Winning 90 percent of his first serve points, Berdych won his ninth match since reaching the finals of Wimbledon, and his first during the season-ending event.

Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be featured during the night match on Wednesday. If Djokovic defeats Nadal, he will qualify for the semifinals.

Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman dismissed Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach 6-1, 6-3 earlier in the day during doubles action.

WTF: Djokovic Destroys Berdych in Robin Round Competition

November 22, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 22: Novak Djokovic of Serbia walks out for his singles match against Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena on November 22, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Barclays ATP World Tour Finale—London, England

World No. 3 Novak Djokovic poured in a commanding performance during his first round robin match at this year’s Tour Finale in London by defeating No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3.

Jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead, Djokovic continued his dominance by wrapping up the first set in 48 minutes. Striking 20 winners in total to only 16 unforced errors, Djokovic used the geometry of the court to great effect in exploiting the movement of his tall opponent.

Berdych, who has been in miserable form since reaching the finals of Wimbledon, lost his serve on three occasions, while winning only 39 percent of his second serve points.

Improving to 4-1 in lifetime meetings against the Czech, Djokovic’s final service winner on his second match point landed him atop the standings in Group A action.

Participating in his fourth-straight season-ending event, Djokovic’s 88-minute victory will allow him to remain confident ahead of the Davis Cup final in Belgrade.

The day’s second singles match will feature top seed Rafael Nadal vs. No. 8 seed Andy Roddick.

Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi defeated Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach 7-6(2), 6-4 earlier in the day.

WTF: Ferrer’s Suit Decision Questionable

November 18, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 18: British Prime Minister David Cameron (C) meets ATP Tour Final tennis players (L-R) Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic, Roger Federer of Switzerland, David Ferrer of Spain, Robin Soderling of Sweden, Andy Murray of Scotland, Rafael Nadal of Spain, Andy Roddick of USA and Novak Djokovic of Serbia outside Number 10 Downing Street on November 18, 2010 in London, England. Mr Cameron met the eight players who are competing in the season-ending tournament ATP Tour Finals which are to commence on November 21, 2010 at the O2 Arena.  (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

by: Nima Naderi

With the ATP World Tour Finale beginning on Sunday, the eight participants for the season-ending tournament gathered today in London for the customary photo op.

Looking dabber in their two piece suits, it appeared that Spaniard David Ferrer didn’t get the memo regarding the “all-black look.”

Strutting his stuff in an all-gray suit, Ferrer’s wardrobe choice was definitely an eye-catcher.

I’m not sure, but it looks like Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych weren’t impressed with Ferrer’s casual attire.

Berdych, Ferrer, Roddick Claim Last Three Spots In Barclays ATP World Tour Finals

November 11, 2010

VALENCIA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 06: David Ferrer of Spain celebrates matchpoint over Robin Soderling of Sweden in his semi final match during the ATP 500 World Tour Valencia Open tennis tournament at the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias on November 6, 2010 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Press Release

No. 9 Verdasco’s loss guarantees eight-man field in London

LONDON—The last three positions in the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals have been determined on Thursday with Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, David Ferrer of Spain and Andy Roddick of the U.S. rounding out the eight-man field in London.

All three players were guaranteed a spot in the year-end championship as a result of No. 9 Fernando Verdasco losing to Gael Monfils in the third round of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris on Thursday and by Roddick’s earlier singles win over Ernests Gulbis. Roddick, who is No. 8 in the year-to-date ATP Rankings, now has enough points to stay ahead of No. 11 Jurgen Melzer even if the Austrian wins the Paris
title this week.

Berdych, Ferrer and Roddick join a blockbuster singles line-up featuring Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Robin Soderling as the world’s top eight players battle it out for the last title of the season in London.

In doubles, Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach became the fifth team to qualify following their win over Nicolas Almagro and David Marrero in Paris on Wednesday. The final three doubles berths will be determined this week in Paris.

Berdych, Ferrer and Roddick’s qualifications also mean that their self-portraits, created using paint-covered tennis balls, will be displayed as part of the “Art of Tennis” exhibition at La Galleria Pall Mall in London until 18 November, as well as being displayed in the Fan Zone at The O2 during the tournament. Their original works of art are also being auctioned online for charity through: The first artwork open for bidding, Robin Soderling’s self-portrait, has already attracted a top bid of more than US$1,500 in the opening days.

Berdych, 25, is the lone player making his maiden debut in the season finale. He reached his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in July (l. to Nadal) and is currently a personal-high No. 6 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings. In addition to a runner-up at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami tournament in April (l. to Roddick), Berdych was a semi-finalist at Roland Garros and quarter-finalist in seven other tournaments. Berdych will finish in the Top 10 for the first time in his career and he made the biggest jump of any player in the Top 10 from last season, climbing from No. 20.

Berdych said: “Qualifying for London is the pay off for all the hard work during the year and I’m very happy to see my name among the best eight players in the world.”

Ferrer, 28, who previously qualified for the season finale three years ago when he finished No. 5, reached the title match that year in Shanghai, losing to No. 1 Roger Federer. He captured titles in Acapulco in February and in his hometown of Valencia last Sunday while reaching clay court finals in Buenos Aires in February and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome in May. Last month he was a finalist in Beijing. He also won the most clay court matches (31) during the year and second-most (60) overall, behind Rafael Nadal (67).

Ferrer said: “It is great to qualify again. Last year I was watching the final on TV. I am so happy to be playing in London this year.”

Roddick, 28, who qualified for the eighth consecutive year, will be making his first appearance at The O2. Last year he qualified but had to withdraw due to a knee injury. Roddick is a three-time semi-finalist in the year-end championship. He began the season with his first title in Australia in Brisbane and three months later he captured his fifth career ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown in Miami. He is the third active titles leader with 29 on the ATP World Tour, trailing only Federer (65) and Nadal (43). Roddick has won at least one ATP title for 10 straight years and he finished in the Top 10 for the ninth consecutive year. He is the last American ATP World Tour No. 1 in 2003.

Roddick said: “I think it’s a goal at the beginning of every year; It’s certainly an accomplishment every year. It’s an honor to qualify once and each time you realise how tough it actually is. You can’t just play well for one week. It’s the culmination of doing it week after week on tour.”

Paris Masters: Defending Champ Djokovic Ousted

November 11, 2010

PARIS - NOVEMBER 10: Michael Llodra of France celebrates his straight sets victory against John Isner of USA during Day Four of the ATP Masters Series Paris at the Palais Omnisports on November 10, 2010 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

BNP Paribas Masters—Paris, France

Defending champ Novak Djokovic was defeated by an inspired Micheal Llodra at the Paris Masters event on Thursday.

Losing to the Frenchman 7-6 (6), 6-2, Djokovic squandered a hefty lead first set tiebreak. Llodra, who continued to power through the court with his aggressive serve-and-volley style, gained further momentum in the second set to lead 3-1.

Winning 90 percent of his first serve points, Llodra struck six aces, and tied his head-to-head record with Djokovic at 1-all.

Djokvoic, who will lose 910 ATP World Tour points with his defeat, will next see action at the World Tour Finale in London. The Serb will also have the Davis Cup final in Belgrade to contest at the beginning of the December.

“I have to congratulate him, because he really played, I think, a perfect match,” said Djokovic.

“I don’t think I’ve played bad. Actually, I think I even returned well in the first set. But any time I needed a point when it was important, couple of games in the first set, deuce or 30 All, he came up with a huge serve. I mean, just close to the line, or he came up with an incredible first volley or something like that. All credit to him, he deserved to win.”

Capturing the biggest victory of his career, Llodra will next face either No. 5 seed Tomas Berdych or No. 10 seed Nikolay Davydenko in the quarterfinals.

Elsewhere, Berdych, Andy Roddick, and David Ferrer completed the field for the season-ending event on Thursday.

The popular trio advanced to the London Finale after Gael Monfils defeated Fernando Verdasco 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2), 7-5. Saving two match points against the Spaniard, Monfils’ victory ensured the completion of the London field.

Verdasco, who was ranked ninth heading into London, advanced to his first Tour Finale in 2009.

Roddick’s 6-3, 7-6 (8) defeat of Ernests Gulbis ended the qualifying hopes of No. 11 seed Jurgen Melzer, who posted an impressive 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-3 win over Ferrer.

Ferrer will be making his second appearance at the season-ending event.

“Yes, I lost, but I’m really glad, because it’s very nice [to] come back to London,” said Ferrer. “I [have] played a lot of matches, but this year I play less tournaments [than] the last two, three years. [It] is very nice come back to [the] Top 10. Now I want to relax two or three days, and I will prepare one week for London.”

Melzer will be on hand at the World Tour Finale in London, competing with partner Philipp Petzschner. The duo qualified for the event by capturing the Wimbledon title in July.

No. 5 seed Robin Soderling advanced to his fourth Masters quarterfinal of the season by eliminating Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6 (3), 6-3.

Blasting seven aces by his Swiss opponent, Soderling improved to 53-20 on the season, and will await Roddick in the final eight.

Soderling and Roddick have split four career meetings.

Matches that are still come on Thursday will feature Roger Federer vs. Radek Stepanek, and Andy Murray vs. Marin Cilic.

Quotes courtesy of ATP World Tour

Roddick, Berdych, and Ferrer Round Out London Field

November 11, 2010

Andy Roddick of the U.S. celebrates after defeating Latvia's Ernest Gulbis in their Paris Masters tennis tournament match, November 11, 2010. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier (FRANCE - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

BNP Paribas Masters—Paris, France

The field for the World Tour Finale in London was decided on Thursday at the Paris Masters event in France.

Andy Roddick qualified for his eighth-straight season-ending event by defeating Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 7-6 (8). Roddick’s victory ended the hopes of world No. 11 Jurgen Melzer, who dismissed David Ferrer 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-3.

However, Fernando Verdasco’s failure to convert on two match points against Gael Monfils resulted in Ferrer reaching his second career Tour Finale. Monfils recorded an entertaining 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 7-5 victory over the Spaniard.

Czech powerhouse Tomas Berdych, who has struggled as of late, qualified for the culminating event by virtue of Verdasco’s loss.

The trio will join Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Robin Soderling in the eight man field.

The World Tour Finale begins on November 21.

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.

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