Rotterdam – the first “500” tournament of the year: after a few editions the color of court has been changed from orange to green. The second significant change in comparison to previous seasons – the Dutch spectators had an occasion to watch Roger Federer in action for the first time in seven years. Federer got broad attention among tennis fans for the first time exactly in Rotterdam, in 1999 as he led 3:1 (deuce) in the 3rd set of his quarterfinal match against Yevgeny Kafelnikov, No. 2 at the time. The Swiss champion has extended his winning streak on hardcourts indoor to 25, and as usual the best match played in the final, however, was on a verge of defeat a round earlier when he was down a set and a break to Davydenko #, later on fought off a triple mini-match point at 3:4 in the 3rd set – since then won 13 out of the last 14 points… There weren’t in the draw last year’s finalists Soderling (two-time defending champion) and Tsonga due to different reasons – the Swede is still injured, the Frencham presumably didn’t want to bother with a long trip after the Davis Cup tie from Canada to Netherlands, trying to preper calmly to his home event in Marseille.
An amazing luck experienced a 24-year-old Dimitar Kutrovsky ; the Bulgarian who had played just one qualifying ATP tournament prior to San Jose, advanced this week to the quarter-finals (he qualified to the main draw) beating other Futures-level players: Lajola (q) and a “lucky loser” Strode (replaced Monfils). The main favorite Milos Raonic  retained the title not dropping a set to become the first man to win two titles in 2012. The young Canadian faced just two break points throughout the week being broken once (in his opening match against Kamke – Raonic came back from a 1:5 deficit in the tie-break there). Milos has a simple but very efficient tactics: focusing on service games based on two big weapons (serve, forehand) and trying to find weaknesses in opponent’s game-style which he exposes in tie-breaks (he’s got a perfect TB record: 8-0 in two successful trips to San Jose). I’m very curious whether his tactics will be working against the big boys, at the moment for me it seems he’s going to lose on a regular basis 4-6, 4-6 or 6-7, 3-6 etc. playing against them, but maybe he has an ace in the hole which will allow him to raise the game when it needed the most…
After 11 years at Costa do Sauipe, the Brazil Open has changed its location moving to Sao Paulo. I think it’s a good idea because in CdS stands were empty when home favorites didn’t play. Otherwise in Sao Paulo, where attendance in the first few days was better than at the crucial stages of the tournament held in CdS. The fans were very enthusiastic and helped his pupil Thomaz Bellucci to overcome Leonardo Mayer in a match of the tournament (Bellucci saved a mini-match point trailing 2:4 in the 3rd set). It’s worth mentioning that Sao Paulo becomes the first clay-court tournament half-indoors, the venue is similar to that one in Brisbane, players see the sky partially but there’s no threat that rain will fall on their heads because courts are nicely covered by a roof. Nicolas Almagro  – the biggest specialist of winning smaller clay-court tournaments – won back-to-back Brazilian crowns in a plausible style. In the final he surprisingly faced a 30-year-old Filippo Volandri  who sank in Italian Challengers in years 2009-10 but managed to comeback on the main level last year and was two games away from capturing the biggest title of his career. Almagro improves his excellent ATP final record to 73% (11-4), in contrary to Volandri who drops to an abysmal 22% (2-7).
S: (1)Roger Federer d. (3)Juan Martin del Potro 6-1, 6-4
D: (2)M.Llodra/N.Zimonjic d. (3)R.Lindstedt/H.Tecau 4-6, 7-5, [16-14] – 5 m.p. *
San Jose (250)
S: (3)Milos Raonic d. Denis Istomin 7-6(3), 6-2
D: (4)M.Knowles/X.Malisse d. K.Anderson/F.Moser 6-4, 1-6, [10-5]
Sao Paulo (250)
S: (1)(WC)Nicolas Almagro d. Filippo Volandri 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
D: (1)E.Butorac/B.Soares d. (4)M.Mertinak/A.Sa 3-6, 6-4, [10-8]
# Choker of the week:
A young Spaniard Javier Marti led against his compatriot, slightly limped Fernando Verdasco 5:2* (40-0) in the 3rd set. Verdasco saved another match point in that game, the following one being two points away, and the momentum completely shifted. In the last three games Marti won just one point, broke his racquet and lost the match in three tight sets 4-6, 7-6, 5-7.
# Federer was supposed to play this week 3 out of 5 players he has the most lopsided H2H against (beat Nieminen and Davydenko, Youzhny gave him a walkover): 21-2 Andy Roddick; 17-2 Nikolay Davydenko; 13-0 Jarkko Nieminen; 12-0 David Ferrer; 11-0 Mikhail Youzhny
* Lindstedt and Tecau led 6-4 3:1*, in the super TB they held match points at: 9:6*, 10:9* & 12:11*
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