Cincinnati – round 1st + 2nd

Here is a stronger field than in Toronto. Federer, Ferrer, Roddick (two-time champion) and other renowned players (Hewitt, Blake, Davydenko, Wawrinka, F.Lopez) back in action. Unfortunately Jo-Wilfried Tsonga withdrew. After a loss to Chardy in Toronto, Tsonga had a weird accident – according to his manager, Tsonga during a walk somehow hurt his knee hitting a fire hydrant and required eight stitches, he should play at the US Open though; also John Isner and Gilles Simon pulled out (back problems) already after the draw had been made. In the last five years the tournament has been won by two players: Federer (thrice) and Murray (twice). Djokovic is the main favorite to grab two Masters titles of the North American summer swing. I can’t imagine that this year would win other player than one out of these three guys.
There’s International Left-Handers Day on August 13. On that day two left-handed Americans met on Grandstand and Jesse Levine [88] outlasted Donald Young 6-4 7-6. For Young [80] it’s 17th defeat in a row which closes him significantly to the infamous record of his compatriot Vincent Spadea. Veterans, Tommy Haas [23] and David Nalbandian [39] played the most entertaining first round matches in Toronto last week as well as this week in Cincinnati. Their meeting at the Western & Southern Open had an astonishing process. Haas got a break point to lead 4:0 in the opening set. Nalbandian since *2:5 saved set points in three different games (six in total) and managed to win 16 straight points since 5:6! He led *2:0 (30/0) in the 2nd set when the longest game of the match occurred – six deuces and Haas broke back after a double fault. It’s pretty amazing that 9 out of 12 games during the 2nd set were concluded after ‘deuce’ games! Nalbandian had a match point at 6:5 when Haas delivered a service winner pointing in Nalbandian’s body. A break in the 8th game of the 3rd set was decisive – Haas finished the match in exactly the same fashion as the previous set – with an ace down the middle – the match lasted 3 hours 22 minutes! The German improves his H2H against the Argentinian to 5-0, but drops to 0-3 against fellow Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, to whom he lost on the following day 5-7 2-6. Also Sam Querrey and Jurgen Melzer played against each other in back-to-back ‘Masters 1000’ events lately # I thought Brian Baker [78] would transform his very good shape from clay and grass-courts onto hardcourts where he grew up, however, he had lost four straight matches on this surface before Cincinnati, where he made a first-round upset eliminating Philipp Kohlschreiber in two tie-breaks. The German was close to win both sets leading 6:5: set point in the 1st set on serve, 30/15 in the 2nd set on return. Baker played a poor match in the second round though, which awarded Bernard Tomic with first advancement to the last 16 of a big American tournament. The other most promising player born in the 90’s, Milos Raonic [19] has notched two valuable wins in his first tournament as a Top 20 player. First he outplayed last week’s finalist Richard Gasquet saving a double set point in the 1st set (7-6 6-3), then battled past Marcos Baghdatis 6-7 6-3 6-4. The Cypriot had a mini-match point at 4:3 in the 3rd set only to be a witness of a booming second serve from Raonic – it was an ace, one out of 22 Raonic hit in that encounter. He saved a break point also in the last game of the match. “I was hoping to play a little bit better last week,” said Raonic, referring to his dubious performance at the Rogers Cup. “Coming here I’m playing better. I still have a long ways to go, but I feel like I’m on the right track.” I have noticed Raonic attacks the net more often recently, he tries to implement a serve-and-volley action on the ad-court with a kick-serve. It’s a good sign that he and his coach Galo Blanco try to figure out a way to improve the game-style – it’s necessary to enter the Top 10.

# First round matches within a week between the same pairs of players:
Toronto: Haas d. Nalbandian 6-2, 6-7(11), 6-3 | Querrey d. Melzer 6-2, 6-3
Cincinnati: Haas d. Nalbandian 6-7(0), 7-6(4), 6-3 | Querrey d. Melzer 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
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