Russian tennis has been in crisis in the last couple of years. The best Russians drop in the ATP ranking, the best players in the world aren’t interested in playing in Russia due to different reasons. It was especially visible this week in distribution of the high-ranked guys as three European indoor tournaments took place: three Top 20’s in Stockholm, three Top 20’s in Vienna, none Top 20er in Moscow, where the highest seeded player Alexandr Dolgopolov was No. 21 this week. Juan Martin del Potro  after a 4-week break arrived in Europe with an intention to play 4 weeks in a row. I assume that potential perspective of many matches ahead, caused his laziness in the opening meeting in Vienna with Daniel Brands. Del Potro seemed like a guy who is concentrated only on exercising serves, in the consequence he was involved in a non-break all-tie-break battle, which concluded as the first ‘best of three’ match with two players serving at least 30 aces # Del Potro barely survived that all-serve duel (challenge helped him on the second m.p.), but wasn’t threaten in the following three encounters capturing his 12th title. Slovenian tennis celebrated its best week in history: 23-year-old Aljaz Bedene advanced to quarterfinals, his three years older compatriot Grega Zemlja , who practices in Vienna during the off-court season, became the first Slovenian to play an ATP final. The qualifier Zemlja, emotionally reserved, patient baseliner with a solid cross-court backhand, was two points away from defeat in deciding set of the first round (Malisse), and three points away from a straight sets loss in semifinals (Janko Tipsarevic) when his forehand clipped the line at *3:4 in the tie-break, and another forehand at 4-all hit the net-cord twice before landing on opponent’s side of the court! Jo-Wilfried Tsonga loves indoor tennis, in the past he played in Moscow and Vienna, so this year he chose Stockholm, and almost like a year before in Vienna, finished his first appearance as a champion. The crucial point of his final against Tomas Berdych  came at 4:2* (30-all) for the Frenchman in the 2nd set. There was a very demanding rally, and Tsonga instead of playing aggressive forehand to put away, decided to deliver a drop-shot and Berdych passed him. The Czech even one points later had a problem with breathing, but got back into the match. In the 3rd set at 4-all he saved a mini-match point with a risky 2nd serve (164h kmh) on Tsonga’s body. Berdych levels his record in ATP finals at 8-8, it’s the first season that he’s managed to win two titles (the previous one in Montpellier eight months ago). A ray of hope for very weak lately Swedish tennis: 24-year-old Patrick Rosenholm , playing first ATP match in career, ousted defending champion Gael Monfils in the first round. Clay-court specialist Thomaz Bellucci took advantage of a weak field in Moscow, and almost got the title. He was serving twice to win the final against Andreas Seppi , but on both chances played poorly. Only two players (Tom Gullikson, Vincent Spadea) in the Open era played more tournaments than the Austro-Italian before clinching the first title; in contrary to the Americans though, Seppi has already added two another titles to his resume and each of them was grabbed under different conditions (grass, clay, indoor hard). It’s possible that Seppi will win a hard-oudoor tournament as well.
Vienna (250) S: (1)Juan Martin del Potro d. (q)Grega Zemlja 7-5, 6-3 D: A.Begemann/M.Emmrich d. (2)J.Knowle/F.Polasek 6-4, 3-6, [10-4]
Stockholm (250) S: (2)Tomas Berdych d. (1)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 D: (3)M.Melo/B.Soares d. (1)R.Lindstedt/N.Zimonjic 6-7(4), 7-5, [10-6]
Moscow (250) S: (2)Andreas Seppi d. (4)Thomaz Bellucci 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 D: (1)F.Cermak/M.Mertinak d. S.Bolelli/D.Bracciali 7-5, 6-3
Choker of the week: Alexandr Dolgopolov in the Moscow 2nd round. He led in the deciding set 6:5* (40/15) against Eduard Roger-Vasselin, Dolgopolov had a double m.p. also leading 6:4 in the tie-break – on the 4th m.p. he was serving and lost a rally sending a forehand wide, and lost 3-6, 7-5, 6-7(6). Dolgopolov’s first m.p.-up defeat at the main level in his 80th tournament.
# The most aces served in the ‘best of three’ matches: