It’s an untypical week in the tennis season because two ‘500’ finals were played on Saturday. The 20th edition of the Dubai Duty Free gathered delicious players, there were 8 out of the 10 best guys in the world (the draw deprived only of Spaniards: Nadal & Ferrer). The main favorite Novak Djokovic has been finally beaten after 18 consecutive wins in Dubai. The Serb was almost destroyed by Andy Murray, who played a perfect match until 6-2, 5:2 (powerful serves and flat ground-strokes), then dropped his concentration and three games quickly, but rebuilt his composure to win the last two games with ease. In the final he had to concede Roger Federer‘s superiority. The Swiss played excellent tennis throughout the week, was broken only once (in the final) and claimed his 72nd ATP title, 5 of them grabbed in Dubai. Federer has won 5 out of his last 7 tournaments, perhaps it’s a sign he may destabilize the “Djodal” dominance this year. We will know more about it at the beginning of April when the Indian Wells-Miami combo will have been concluded. “I think second set he played better than me,” said Murray about the final. “For sure I made a few too many mistakes in the second, and he was playing a lot more aggressive than in the first set. But overall it was a good week. It was perfect preparation for the stretch over in America.”
So-called “Golden Swing” – a stretch of four South American events has had its own pattern for the last five years – each season one player wins 2 out of 4 tournaments #. This year it was David “Pics” Ferrer, who without any troubles got back-to-back titles in Buenos Aires and Acapulco. Admittedly he lost one set during the fortnight, against Almagro, but the match was easily won anyway. Ferrer has now collected three straight crowns in Mexico, three titles this year, and has the best win/loss record in 2012 so far: 18-1! His contenders for the No. 5 (Berdych, Del Potro and Tsonga) seem to be in a good form as well, so the upcoming two ‘1000’ events in Indian Wells and Miami show promising. It’s very probable that a winner of them will have to play very tough last three matches. I guess it’s worth mentioning that in the first round, Carlos Berlocq won a set against Gilles Simon which lasted 1 hour 40 minutes, just nine minutes shy of the record for a tie-break set.
Delray Beach. Kevin Anderson  was drifting three years between ATP tournaments and Challengers until the previous season in which he distinctively improved the 1st serve and the net-game. I suppose he should reach the Top 20 this year, for the time being he becomes the first player of the season to win a title saving a match point – he fought off three match points in the 2nd set tie-break of his quarterfinal battle against fading Andy Roddick. Anderson prior to DB was involved in three matches having saved match points in the 2nd set, but every time he was beaten in the end (Kiefer, Almagro, Isner). In the final he faced a qualifier Marinko Matosevic , 26-year-old Australian born in Bosnia-Herzegovina, who had won only 3 main level matches prior to this week! The final began in unusual fashion with five breaks in a row, since then there wasn’t any break to the end. Anderson celebrated his 2nd ATP title on the back. Arguably he was more happy than last year when he claimed the maiden title in his hometown (Johannesburg).
S: (2)Roger Federer d. (3)Andy Murray 7-5, 6-4
D: (4)M.Bhupathi/R.Bopanna d. (3)M.Fyrstenberg/M.Matkowski 6-4, 3-6, [10-5]
S: (1)David Ferrer d. (8)Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-2
D: D.Marrero/F.Verdasco d. M.Granollers/M.Lopez 6-3, 6-4
Delray Beach (250)
S: (7)Kevin Anderson d. (q)Marinko Matosevic 6-4, 7-6(2)
D: (3)C.Fleming/R.Hutchins d. M.Mertinak/A.Sa 2-6, 7-6(5), [15-13] – 1 m.p.
Choker of the week:
Kei Nishikori in Acapulco (2nd round). The Japanese had a triple match point at 5:4* in the 2nd set, another 2 mp’s at 6:5, and two more in the tie-break (at 8:7 the only one on serve). Nishikori who had not lost a m.p.-up encounter in his 57 tournaments prior to Acapulco, lost first 3-setter after winning 16 in a row. Chardy prevailed 1-6, 7-6(8), 6-0.
# Nine seasons of the South American swing consisted of four tournaments (Chile – Brazil – Argentina – Mexico):
2004: F.Gonzalez – Coria – Kuerten – Moya
2005: Gaudio – Gaudio – Nadal – Nadal
2006: Acasuso – Moya – Massu – Horna
2007: Horna – Canas – Monaco – Chela
2008: F.Gonzalez – Almagro – Nalbandian – Almagro
2009: F.Gonzalez – Robredo – Robredo – Almagro
2010: Bellucci – Ferrero – Ferrero – Ferrer
2011: Robredo – Almagro – Almagro – Ferrer
2012: Monaco – Almagro – Ferrer – Ferrer
* In years 2004-2006 the tournaments in Chile and Mexico were separated by a different order, first Argentina, then Brazil.
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