“Weekend for Old Men” paraphrasing a title of the Coen brothers’ movie. In every of three cities that hosted ATP tournaments this week, more than 30-year-old players triumphed in doubles (Frank Moser got his maiden title at the age of 36) and advanced to the finals in singles: 34 y.o. Tommy Haas, and three years younger – David Nalbandian & Julien Benneteau. The time for the Frenchman is shrinking, arguably he might be the best Open era player not having won a title # In Rotterdam he confirmed once again his unpredictability outplaying Federer in quarters 6-3 7-5. The Swiss didn’t suffer such a beat-down indoors since Paris 2003! It might have been even worse because Benneteau led 4:1* in the 2nd set. Now, he has lost eight finals; fellow Frenchman Cedric Pioline got a maiden title on his 10th final attempt, but he was 27-year-old as he did it, and was trying to become a titelist from a different level as a finalist of Grand Slam and Masters 1000 (called ‘Mercedes Super 9’ then) events. Juan Martin del Potro, who dashed Benneteau’s dreams, showed brilliant form the entire week. He was broken just twice (by Benneteau on both occasions, in the 1st set of their final), the closest to lose a set he was in the second round as he found himself at *4:5 in a tie-break against Gulbis. Actually, the Argentine turned into an indoor specialist lately, he has won four out of his last six tournaments played under the roof (14 titles overall). “It’s amazing. I’m so happy to win this tournament,” said Del Potro. “I played really well from the first round to the final. I think I played the way I needed to, to win this kind of tournament.” He joked about the nose bleed he suffered before the last game: “I have a big nose. Maybe it was nerves, getting close to finishing the match and winning the tournament. But it was not dangerous and I felt fine to close out the match at 5:3.“
The King of Clay is vulnerable, at least for the time being. Rafael Nadal admittedly won his 51st title (first in eight months) in Sao Paulo, but his form is far away from delightful. He came back from a *1:3 deficit in the 3rd set against Berlocq, in semifinals lost a set to 27-year-old ‘lucky loser’ Martin Alund  of Argentina, who hadn’t won an ATP match prior to the Brasil Open (wasted a match point in his qualifying round), finally in the final Rafa was 0:3 down with a double break against Nalbandin, who returns to the tour after a long break as well (it was his first tournament in five months). In quarterfinals, Nalbandian ousted two-time defending champion Almagro withstanding four mini-match points in the deciding set. The tournament in Sao Paulo in some sense is refreshing, similarly to Brisbane its venue is a combination of outdoor and indoor enviroment, but the surface was awfully prepared this year, players had problems with standard clay-sliding, ball bouncing was inadequate and very fast, Nadal commented: “The surface here is much faster than any hardcourt. It’s much faster than the U.S. Open, much faster than the Australian Open. The conditions are not good for me and my game style. I don’t have the feeling of (ball) control or that I can attack. My knee hurt more.” It was the reason of Nadal’s withdrawal in doubles where he was teamed up with… Nalbandian (they won their first match as a team saving a double match point).
125-year-old history of the SAP Open came to the end (first hosted in 1889, in the Open era initially held in Berkeley, then Albany, between 1973-1993 in San Francisco, since ’93 in San Jose; second oldest tournament in the United States). The last three edition won Milos Raonic, not dropping a set (24-0 record). He displayed the most impressive form this year, faced just one break point, his backhand was working better than ever. He became the first player in the Open era to win here three consecutive years, and the first overall since Tony Trabert did it between 1953-55. “It’s pretty awesome. It’s pretty special,” said Raonic. “It’s more than just the trophies that I have. It’s the little things that come with it. There was always the maple syrup story. The San Jose Sharks jersey. It all means a lot.” Besides San Jose, the Canadian has also captured a title in Chennai. He has played 50 main-level tournaments so far.
S: (2)Juan Martin del Potro d. Julien Benneteau 7-6(2), 6-3
D: (3)R.Lindstedt/N.Zimonjic d. (WC)T.De Bakker/J.Huta Galung 5-7, 6-3, [10-8]
Sao Paulo (250)
S: (1,WC)Rafael Nadal d. David Nalbandian 6-2, 6-3
D: (2)A.Peya/B.Soares d. (3)F.Cermak/M.Mertinak 6-7(5), 6-2, [10-7]
San Jose (250)
S: (1)Milos Raonic d. (4)Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-3
D: (4)X.Malisse/F.Moser d. (WC)L.Hewitt/M.Matosevic 6-0, 6-7(5), [10-4]
Choker of the week:
Ivo Karlovic, who squandered a double match point in the deciding tie-break in San Jose against Steve Johnson. The American won 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(6). The Croat, once 13-2 in MP matches, now is 14-8.
# The most losing finals without a title:
8 – Julien Benneteau (2008-13)
6 – Pierre Barthes (1969-72), Steve Denton (1981-84), Lawson Duncan (1985-90);
5 – Georges Goven (1970-75), Carlos Kirmayr (1976-82), Martin Damm (1996-98), Daniel Vacek (1994-99)
* Barthes and Goven began their careers in the pre-Open era, they aren’t titless considering this period of the history of tennis
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