The former Wimbledon runner-up bounced back from a nightmare start to push Murray hard in the decider but the British number one, celebrating his 25th birthday, eventually prevailed 6-1 4-6 7-5 win. There was no hint of the drama to follow when Murray, returning to action after missing last week’s event in Madrid with a back injury, swept through the first set and looked ready for a quick night. But Nalbandian battled back to level the match and went a break up in the decider before his frequent unforced errors began to tell and Murray clawed back to serve out for the match after two hours and 37 minutes. There were no signs in the first set of Murray’s stuttering start to the claycourt season, which apart from his back injury also saw him suffer a shock loss to Milos Raonic in the Barcelona Open last month. Murray broke Nalbandian twice to blaze into a 4-0 lead and after breaking the Argentinian for a third time the Scot served out to take the set, with Nalbandian complaining about glare from the setting sun. Nalbandian looked much stronger from the start of the second set, and both players found their form on serve with no break points for either until Murray served to stay in the set at 4-5 down and was broken. Murray had the first chance in the decider, fashioning two break points on the Nalbandian serve at 1-1, but the Argentinian hung on and went on to break Murray to seize the advantage. But Murray responded by breaking back immediately and grabbed the crucial second break at 5-5, when after spurning his first two of three break points, he only converted the third after the most fortunate of net cords. Nalbandian was not quite finished, going 15-40 up on his opponent’s serve as Murray served for the match, but a backhand drive which clipped the outside of the line helped Murray haul back to deuce before rounding off a gutsy win.
Archive for the '(A LIST OF THE ATP PLAYERS).' Category
Roger Federer will play Tomas Berdych in Sunday’s Mutua Madrid Open final. The Swiss will win this event for the third time if he sees off the Czech, having eased past Janko Tipsarevic. A 6-2 6-3 victory took Federer into his 104th career final, while Berdych edged out 10th seed Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/6) in the other semi-final. Federer, a winner of this event in 2006 and 2009, has benefited from the early exits of both Rafael Nadal and top-ranked Novak Djokovic on the blue clay which has attracted criticism for being slippery. And he had few problems today, wrapping up victory in 67 minutes and hitting 25 winners and eight aces in the process. The Swiss excelled in his service games and took control of the first set in the fourth game when he broke Tipsarevic and wrapped up the set when he repeated the feat two games later. And the end was in sight for the man who knocked out Djokovic when he was broken in the fourth game of the second set, giving Federer the incentive he needed to close out the contest.
Another success inthe final against sixth seed Berdych will see Federer replace Nadal at number two in the ATP Rankings.
Novak Djokovic again criticised the blue clay court as he was knocked out of the Madrid Open. Djokovic lost 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 to fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic and vowed not to play in the competition next year if the controversial surface is retained. “In 2013, if they play on blue [clay], they can have their own tournament but I am not coming for sure,” he said. “It is simple – no blue clay for me. The test has failed.” Djokovic has been frustrated by the slippery blue courts all week and Rafael Nadal, who was beaten by compatriot Fernando Verdasco on Thursday, had similar complaints after his defeat. “I want to forget this week as soon as possible and move on to the real clay courts,” Djokovic said. “Here you can’t predict the ball bounce or movement. “I want to perform my best but, if I cannot move and am putting pressure all the time on muscles and my body, and I am worried about not getting injured because the court is unpredictable, then what is the sense in playing here?”
Djokovic was also critical of the ATP and says players must be consulted in future before new initiatives are introduced. “They made a decision without the players agreeing on it so this is a rule that has to be changed immediately,” he said. “The fault is from the people who gave them permission to do these things. This is just a clear example of how our system does not work in favour of players.” Djokovic was particularly critical of former ATP chief executive Adam Helfant, who took the decision to allow Madrid to switch to blue clay in order to make it easier for television viewers to follow the yellow balls. Earlier on Friday, Helfant said he gave Madrid the green light only after receiving assurances the blue courts would play the same as the traditional red surfaces. He said he consulted the players and tournament officials and, realising they could not agree, made the decision himself. Also on Friday, tournament chief Ion Tiriac apologised for the slippery courts but defended the colour switch, which he said had nothing to do with the problems with the court surface. Tiriac explained that the courts, which have to be built from scratch six weeks before the tournament, had been pressed too much, which meant the clay was unable to penetrate the hard base. “The players are right when they say it is too slippery and I apologise,” he said.
There were no problems for Roger Federer, who was a 6-4 6-4 winner against Spain’s David Ferrer, although the Swiss player said he understood the frustrations of Djokovic and Nadal. “It is a pity we are talking about a surface rather than a great shot or a great match,” he said. “After the tournament we will have to sit down and see what happens next year.”
Verdasco, the 15th seed, had lost all of his previous 14 meetings with his Spanish compatriot. But the 28-year-old upset his Davis Cup team-mate 6-3 3-6 7-5 to book a quarter-final against Tomas Berdych. The Czech sixth seed eased through earlier on Thursday, winning 6-1 6-1 against Gael Monfils, seeded 12th. Nadal had previously won twice in Madrid and the six-time French Open champion was in good form having won a record eighth Monte Carlo title and a seventh Barcelona crown last month. The 25-year-old star took the third-round match to a deciding set but Verdasco, playing in his home city, prevailed to disrupt Nadal’s preparations for this year’s French Open, which begins later this month. Berdych had earlier ended Monfils’ comeback from injury. The Frenchman was playing for the first time since picking up an abdominal muscle problem in March and failed to earn a break point.
There was another surprise in the men’s draw as Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov knocked out fourth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. Dolgopolov, seeded 16th, won 7-5 3-6 7-6 (7-2) to book a last-eight match with Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro, the 10th seed disposing of Croatian Marin Cilic 6-2 6-4.
Milos Raonic pushed Roger Federer to the brink of elimination in the second round of the Madrid Open. But the hard-hitting native of Thornhill, Ont., couldn’t complete the upset as the third-seeded Federer survived two tiebreakers en route to a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4) win Wednesday. Raonic did what he could against the Swiss star, firing 21 aces in a match that lasted two hours 13 minutes. But he also missed plenty of opportunities by converting just one of eight break point chances. The 21-year-old last lost to Federer in three sets at the third round at Indian Wells in March, but had hoped to build on his win over No. 4 Andy Murray two weeks ago in Barcelona. “I felt I played really well the whole time doing what I wanted to do,” said Raonic. “I was dictating on my serve. I had a lot of looks on his serve, I came up a bit short today though. “I was there the whole match and doing the right things. It was good, and I’ll probably be more happy in a few days about the outcome.”
Federer, who hasn’t been eliminated from a tournament in the second round since the 2010 Rome Masters, will face France’s Richard Gasquet in the third round. Rafael Nadal had an easier time in his first match on the blue clay as he beat Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 6-2.
Milos Raonic dominated former grand slam finalist David Nalbandian 6-4, 6-4 on Tuesday in the first round of the Madrid Open. The 21-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., defeated the Argentine in just 74 minutes with his 16th ace of the match. Nalbandian played in the Wimbledon final a decade ago and won the Madrid tournament when it was played indoors back in 2007. Raonic, ranked No. 23 in the world, will face Swiss ace Roger Federer in Wednesday’s second round, having lost to the world No. 3 in the third round at Indian Wells in March. “I hope I can do much of the same stuff (as I did) in March. I need to serve better than I did then,” Raonic said. “I’m playing well and confident and I’m serving well, so that should be a big help.” Raonic says playing a star like Federer is a big challenge, but tennis a simple game once the players step between the lines. “He’s achieved a lot of great things, but when we step out onto the court he’s just another tennis player who wants the same thing that I do,” Raonic said of Federer. “You respect him, but you don’t respect him too much. “He’s set a new level for others to aim for. But on court he’s trying to take away from you something that you want.” Raonic ended his win over Nalbandian with 28 winners and just 13 unforced errors in a controlled display of his serving power on clay. He broke twice from three opportunities while never facing a break point on his own serve. The hard-serving Raonic started the match with a break and added another in the eighth game of the opening set. The second set was more one-way traffic for Raonic, with a break of his opponent yielding a 5-4 lead. He completed the win on the first of three match points. The match marked Raonic’s first appearance on the controversial blue clay in Madrid. Several players, including Raonic, were critical of the surface in the leadup to the tournament but it didn’t seem to affect the Canadian on Tuesday. “I got her early and have been training for almost a week on it. I like the conditions (but) the only tricky thing is the movement,” Raonic said. “It’s not a natural clay so it bundles up after some time. You get a few bad bounces, but other than that it’s not so different. “It’s slippery and hard to change direction, but that benefits me in a way. “
Both dominated their opening sets, lost the second in tiebreakers and recovered in the third to record fighting second-round victories. The fifth-seeded Tomic beat Potito Starace of Italy 6-1 6-7(4) 6-3 to make his first career quarterfinal on clay, while Matosevic defeated fellow qualifier Robert Farah of Colombia 6-1 6-7(2) 6-2 in his maiden event on the surface. The duo’s progress marks the first time in 16 years two Australians have made the quarterfinals of an ATP claycourt tournament. Back in 1996, Jason Stoltenberg won the Coral Springs title in Florida, while fellow Australians Sandon Stolle and Michael Tebbutt also made the last eight.
Tomic was down a break of serve at the start of the final set before peeling off six of the last seven games to prevail over Starace in just over two hours. “I played very well in the first set and had chances to be up early in that second set,” said Tomic. “I think that could have made a difference to not play three sets. He started playing good in the third and I was down a break, so it was good for me to get back and I played well in the end. “My claycourt game has struggled in the past few years. Now, to win back-to-back matches at the same tournament is huge for me so I’m going to keep going and hopefully next round I can win too.” Tomic next goes against Feliciano Lopez, the second-seeded Spaniard who beat Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-4 7-6(4). Matosevic plays German fourth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 7-5 6-3. Kohlschreiber and Lopez had byes into the second round.
In the other quarter-finals, third-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia plays sixth-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia and eighth-seeded Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus meets Tommy Haas of Germany.
Tournament organisers have announced that the former world number one has a hamstring injury and has also pulled out for the Rome Masters later this month. Given the Italian tournament starts less than a fortnight before the French Open is due to get under way, the American is facing a race against time to be fit enough to compete in Paris. The three-time Wimbledon runner-up is likely to be more concerned about regaining full fitness in time for the grasscourt season as he has rarely impressed on the clay, his big serve being nullified by the slow surface. Roddick’s compatriot Mardy Fish has also withdrawn from the Madrid event. The pair will be replaced by Dutchman Robin Haase and Olivier Rochus, of Belgium, in the main draw which starts on Sunday.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Briton Andy Murray are all due to compete on the new blue clay surface at the Caja Magica.
The 34-year-old German, a wild card entrant, had not reached the quarter-finals of an ATP World Tour event on clay for three years but he needed less than an hour to dump out world number five Tsonga 6-1 6-4. In the last eight Haas will meet eighth seed Marcos Baghdatis, who was given a torrid time by German qualifier Dustin Brown in the first set before recovering to win 1-6 6-4 6-4. Sixth seed Mikhail Youzhny also had to come from a set down against Colombian Santiago Giraldo, the Russian eventually prevailing 6-7 (2/7) 6-4 6-4 to set up a meeting with Croatia’s Marin Cilic, who was a comfortable 6-3 6-2 winner over Matthias Bachinger today.
Stanislas Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet wasted little time in reaching the quarter-finals of the Estoril Open in Portugal today. Second seed Gasquet was particularly impressive, losing only two games in his 6-1 6-1 victory over Paolo Lorenzi, while third seed Wawrinka had a trickier time in the first set against qualifier Ivan Navarro before coming through 7-6 (7/5) 6-1. In the last eight Wawrinka will face Dutch sixth seed Robin Haase, who dropped the opening set to another qualifier, Inigo Cervantes, but recovered to win 5-7 6-4 6-2. Awaiting Frenchman Gasquet is Spanish qualifier Daniel Munoz-De La Nava following his 6-4 6-4 victory over eighth seed Flavio Cipolla, while in the final first-round match America’s Bobby Reynolds beat Attila Balazs of Hungary 6-3 6-4.
The 6ft 5in 21-year-old from Ontario, who crushed sixth seed Nicolas Almagro in the last round, headed into the match having never beaten a top-eight player but rarely looked overawed en route to a 6-4 7-6 (7/3) triumph. He endured a minor blip when serving for the second set, allowing second seed Murray his first break of the match, before breezing through the tie-break to clinch the biggest win of his fledgling career in one hour 44 minutes. Raonic will face third seed David Ferrer or seventh seed Feliciano Lopez in the semi-finals, the Spanish duo meeting in the second quarter-final in Catalonia.
Murray had little difficulty in the last round against Santiago Giraldo, but knew he was in for a battle from the outset today. Raonic’s fierce forehands helped him bring up a break point in the opening game. Murray survived, but two aces from the world number 25 swiftly levelled things up. The first set followed a similar pattern – Murray tested on serve and Raonic holding with ease – until game seven, when a loose drop shot from the Scot resulted in a second break point for the youngster, and this time he capitalised to go 4-3 up. Raonic comfortably held again to move within a game of the set and then, after Murray had dug out the hold with the help of an ace, the Canadian brought up three set points with his ninth ace and duly took the first with a forehand winner. Having managed only four points on the Raonic serve in the first set, Murray looked brighter at the start of the second set, but continued to struggle to make inroads against the serve. The Scot served out to love in game three himself, though, and then took Raonic to deuce in game four before the Canadian pulled through with another huge serve. A superb cross-court winner edged Murray ahead again and again he then troubled the Raonic serve, but could not force the break. Just when the second set looked to be following the same format as the first, Raonic too passed up two break-point opportunities in game seven as Murray squeezed 4-3 ahead. But, after powering through another strong service game, Raonic broke Murray to give himself the chance to serve for the match and claim the biggest scalp of his career. Murray showed his battling qualities by breaking back, though, before two clinical service games took the match into a tie-break. However, if the Scot thought nerves were getting to Raonic, he was sadly mistaken. He cruised into a 5-1 lead and, although Murray engineered a chink of light by taking his two points on serve, there was no way back.