Cincinnati – round 3rd + QF’s


Despite different clothing brands (Nike, Lacoste), Juan Martin del Potro and Jeremy Chardy looked almost the same on the court during the first quarterfinal: two tall slim guys in white socks, black shirts and yellow T-shirts, but the difference in their tennis-class was huge. Del Potro’s troubles with left wrist seemed to have gone away, he came back to his standard double-handed usage on the backhand but didn’t try to hit winners from this side. His forehand is strong enough to get many points on Chardy’s weak slicing backhand. The Argentine created break point opportunities almost in every service game of the Frenchman (17 in total) and won 6-1 6-3 in 76 minutes. It’s painful to watch as some of the Top 20 guys are hopeless against the “big boys”. It had been Gasquet’s case on Sunday versus Novak Djokovic, and the scenario was repeated in Djokovic’s match against Marin Cilic. The Croat is able to play solidly from the baseline when he dictates the pace, when he is forced to running in different directions, he becomes an error-machine, and he hasn’t a plan “B”. Djokovic knows it very well and didn’t even try to display his full potential, he restricted himself to moving Cilic around the court with the good placement, obtaining a comfortable 6-3 6-2 victory in 81 minutes – Djokovic has now won 14 sets (two tie-breaks) in a row against Cilic. Stanislas Wawrinka [26] appeared as a frustrated man until the the tie-break of the 2nd set facing Milos Raonic. The Canadian allowed his opponent in his first 10 service games to get just one ‘deuce’ and a routine two-set victory was nearly sealed by him. He led *4:2 in the tie-break approaching the net with a slice as Wawrinka made his best perpendicular backhand of the day which clipped the sideline. This shot turned the tables, the Swiss won the tie-break having lost  seven previous, and converted his only break point of the match in the 3rd game of the decider, holding the next four service games and winning 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4. Wawrinka is through to the semi-finals of a Masters 1000 event for the first time since 2009 (Monte Carlo). Extremely tough task ahead of him because in the semifinal he meets Roger Federer, who defeated Mardy Fish 6-3 7-6(4) in the last quarterfinal, not facing a break point. “This week I’m playing great tennis,” said Wawrinka. “I had a tough last two months. It was not easy, especially after the French Open. I played a great French Open, but then I lost [in the] first round at Wimbledon, Gstaad [and the] Olympics.”

Third round

Mardy Fish [20] is enjoying his best tournament of the season, after quick trashing of Feliciano Lopez and Carlos Berlocq, Fish has notched third easy win in a row,  dismantling 6-3 6-3 more dangerous opponent – Radek Stepanek, to whom Fish had lost all four previous meetings. The American displayed comprehensive tennis in the first match on Centre Court, served 7 aces and saved only two break points (in succession) while leading 3:2 in the 2nd set – fended them off at the net. “That was the monkey jumping off my back,” said Fish. “He’s been a very tough opponent for me over the years. Not only has he beaten me, he’s beaten me pretty soundly most of the time.” At the same time on Court No. 3 there was an interesting duel between Juan Martin del Potro and Viktor Troicki [32]. Del Potro played with injured left wrist, and it forced him to adjust a new tactics – normally he plays 1 out of 5 backhands with a slice, this time the proportion was reverse. In their five previous matches Del Potro had established such an overwhelming superiority over the Serbian player (last three sets: 6-0 6-0 6-1),  that even playing barely 60-70 % of his normal tennis on Thursday he was able to get a convincing 7-6 2-6 6-1 win. In the 1st set consisted of six breaks of serve, Troicki led *5:3 (30-all). The defending champion Andy Murray held 66 consecutive games on serve between the 1st set against Baghdatis at the Olympics and the 1st set against Jeremy Chardy in Cincinnati (in the meantime the Brit saved break points in 12 games). It’s interesting that usually after such a long streak of service holds, a player loses his serve a few times within a match. It was Murray’s case as well – he was broken by Chardy 4 times in 5 service attempts! The Frenchman lost his serve twice, but notched a very important 6-4 6-4 victory. Actually he experiences the best two weeks of his tennis life. Last week in Toronto made a third round, now at least has advanced to quarterfinals, as a lucky loser # (was two points away from beating Fognini in the qualifying round, took the main draw spot after Isner’s withdrawal). “Sometimes a few games can change matches,” explained Murray. “I had break points in the first set [two at 3:2]. If I had maybe gone up there, maybe I would have started to play better. But when I went behind, he started serving better and he was going for his shots.” Chardy [38], who began the year as No. 103, thanks to his sensational run in Cincinnati will be seeded at the US Open. In the last two weeks he defeated: Tsonga (post-Olympic fatigue), Roddick (back spasm) and Murray (sore left knee) – each of them in straight setters. It’s impressive, isn’t it? Who will be remember in years to come that neither of them was fully fit? Milos Raonic fired 20 aces beating Tomas Berdych 6-4 2-6 6-2 in the last third round match to set up a quarterfinal clash with Stanislas Wawrinka (came to Cincinnati with four consecutive defeats). Raonic also last week entered the last 8 in ‘Masters 1000’ but the difference between these two achievements is significant, in Canada he ousted just one opponent, and a weaker one (Troicki) than three guys he has beaten this week.

# ‘Lucky losers’ to reach ‘Masters 1000’ quarterfinals:
Franco Davin – Hamburg 1990
Alex O’Brien – Cincinnati 1994
Todd Martin – Stuttgart 1997
Franco Squillari – Rome 1999
Sjeng Schalken – Stuttgart 2000
Ivan Ljubicic – Miami 2001
Alberto Martin – Hamburg 2001 & Rome 2005
Thomas Johansson – Toronto 2004 *
Julien Benneteau – Cincinnati 2009
Jeremy Chardy – Cincinnati 2012
* ‘ToJo’ as the only one advanced to semifinals
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