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  outlasted Donald Young 6-4 7-6. For Young  it’s 17th defeat in a row which closes him significantly to the infamous record of his compatriot Vincent Spadea. Veterans, Tommy Haas  and David Nalbandian  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  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  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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