London (Olympics) – round 3rd + QF’s
Andy Murray displayed brilliant service performance during his 59-minute 6-4 6-1 victory over Nicolas Almagro. The Brit fired 15 aces at 82% 1st serve in. The Spaniard was complaining the entire match on his right sore arm. Anyway it’s Almagro’s best result on grass, he never won three matches in a row on this surface before. “It’s great, that was the goal coming into the tournament,” said Murray about entering the medal zone, “It’s nice to get the opportunity. It makes a big difference to play in front of a home crowd. It does add a little bit of extra pressure, but it helps raise your game.” In the semifinal Murray meets Novak Djokovic – it’ll be their first grass-court encounter. Perhaps Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was too tired against Djokovic in the second quarterfinal. The Frenchman had already played five matches (3 singles, 2 doubles) including a marathon with Raonic, which actually consisted of “three best of three matches”. Tsonga’s forehand was erratic, and even when he led 3:0* in the 2nd set Djokovic’s superiority wasn’t questionable. The Serb won 6-1 7-5 to reach the medal circle second straight Olympics. He noticed: “I was very sharp, very aggressive from the start. I think it was the windiest day I’ve played here in recent years“…
No upsets also in the top half of the draw. Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro won their matches after identical scoreline: 6-4 7-6. Del Potro failed to close out both sets, but stayed cool and out-rallied Kei Nishikori, winning 8th tie-break in a row. Federer broke John Isner once, it was enough to dismiss the tall American, who didn’t survive a tie-break this time – facing first match point he served well, but Federer’s hallmark shot – backhand slice – hit the net-cord and dropped slowly on the half of the hopeless Isner… After men’s quarterfinals there was finished the first round in mixed doubles. Five players participated in three events at this year’s Olympics: Philipp Petzschner, Andreas Seppi, Mikhail Youzhny, Andy Murray and Radek Stepanek. Neither of them managed to win a match in each competition.
Grass-courts help in breaking records. Just one day after an epic duel between Tsonga and Raonic, another record – this time in doubles – was broken during a second-round match between Brazilians (Marcelo Melo / Bruno Soares) and Czechs (Tomas Berdych / Radek Stepanek). When they started on Tuesday seemed it would be a very short match. The Czechs led 6-1 4:2* (30/15), but the Brazilians broke back and were unbreakable another 19 games on serve! The Czechs had a match point on three occasions in the 3rd set – 6:5, 16:15 & 18:17. When Melo and Soares leveled at 18-all officials decided to suspend the encounter due to darkness. After the resumption on Wednesday it was “6-4” for Brazilians who broke Stepanek’s serve at 22-all, and finished the contest in the following game at ‘love’ after 3 hours 13 minutes. Melo – co-holder of the longest doubles 5th set in terms of games – said: “We knew that the match was going to be tough, but not like this and especially after yesterday when we stopped for bad light. It was a great atmosphere [and] a great match – especially because we won.” It’s the longest three-set men’s doubles match in terms of number of games (63) and games of the final set (improved by eight) in Olympic history #.
Another Olympic record has been broken in singles – John Isner ousted Janko Tipsarevic 7-5 7-6(14) – the previous longest tie-break was “barely” 13/11 as Albert Costa beat Sebastien Lareau 7-6 6-4 in Atlanta 1996. Tipsarevic led 6:4 in the tie-break, later on had four set points on return, but Isner  is a tie-break master, and prevailed 10th breaker in succession.
Favorites in the bottom half of the draw, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray faced a scare during their third round matches. Especially Djokovic, who was two games away from a sensational elimination from Lleyton Hewitt‘s  hands. The former No. 1 reminded he’s a Wimbledon former champion and used all his experience to come back in the 2nd set from 3:5 to 5:5. Unfortunately for the Aussie fans it was all he could deliver on the day, and Djokovic won 4-6 7-5 6-1. The Serb commented: “He was serving really well, with a lot of efficiency. I just needed to step in a bit. That’s what I did [and] I changed the momentum in the middle of the second set when I made a break. Yes, he [broke back], but I felt I got back into the match.” Marcos Baghdatis is a tough match-up for Andy Murray. They met in the third round at Wimbledon four weeks ago and the Scot survived a complicated 4-setter. Again Wimbledon, again third round, and again physically demanding battle with plenty of shots of a different kind was successfully concluded for the British hope. The crucial point of the match came at 2:1* for Murray in the 2nd set, when Baghdatis missed a forehand from a comfortable position trying to save a break point. It affected his resistance and he lost altogether seven games in a row. He was fighting bravely in the decider, escaping twice from a possible double break down, but Murray, supported by the home-crowd kept his composure to finish the match by a 4-6 6-1 6-4 margin with a powerful cross-court forehand followed up by a resonant roar.
According to seeds the quarterfinal line-up should inter alia consists of Tipsarevic and Tomas Berdych, but Isner and Nicolas Almagro, who advanced instead, are Top 10 contenders so there’s no way to think about them as unpredictable quarter-finalists. Therefore, Kei Nishikori‘s quarterfinal appearance is the only surprise in some respects. The Japanese after nine consecutive holds was leading 5:4* in the 3rd set against David Ferrer (last two games 6 & 3 deuces) on Court No. 14 when the officials decided to move this match onto Centre Court due to bad lights as the Olympians approached 9 p.m. of the local time. Approximately 20 minutes later, they entered Centre Court under the roof. Nishikori  played two great backhands, Ferrer committed a double fault and found himself at 15/40. Nishikori attacked the second serve with his top-spin forehand to force an error of the Spaniard: 6-0 3-6 6-4 was the final score. It’s a great news to Juan Martin Del Potro, who was recently beaten by Ferrer twice, whereas four weeks ago defeated Nishikori easily at Wimbledon.
# The longest – in terms of games – deciding 3rd set in doubles:
1997 Australian Open, 1R – W.Arthurs / J.Irleand d. C.Brandi / F.Messori 6-3, 3-6, 29-27
2012 Olympics, 2R – M.Melo / B.Soares d. T.Berdych / R.Stepanek 2-6, 6-4, 24-22
1995 Wimbledon, q – R.Matuszewski / T.Nelson d. T.J.Middleton / A.Thoms 6-4, 4-6, 23-21
2011 Wimbledon, 1R – J.Cabal / R.Farah d. R.Bopanna / A.Qureshi 2-6, 6-2, 21-19
1984 Australian Open, 2R – D.Gitlin / H.Pfister d. S.Davis / B.Testermann 2-6, 7-6, 20-18
2008 Olympics, SF – S.Aspelin / T.Johansson d. A.Clement / M.Llodra 7-6, 4-6, 19-17
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