US Open 2003

I am planing to begin adding Grand Slam tournaments of the XXI Century in the second half of 2013, but this year will be two exceptions of 2003, namely US Open and Roland Garros, as a part of farewell of Andy Roddick & Juan Carlos Ferrero, two former Nos. 1, each had won his only major title nine years ago, both went into retirement this season. I’m going to implement a different look for years 2000-10  than I’ve done it for 1980-99 –  bigger font and colorful pictures.

Changing of the guard in American tennis: a defending champion – Pete Sampras, 14-time Grand Slam winner, officially announced his retirement on day one (2000 champion Marat Safin withdrew too), the following day joined him other American player of the “golden generation” – Michael Chang. It opened the gate for much more younger Americans to get into the biggest courts at Flushing Meadow drawing attention of fans. It was a great opportunity especially for 21-year-old Andy Roddick, who had won 3 out of 4 tournaments on American hardcourts before the US Open ’03, which established him as a main favorite. He was on fire, with a little help of officials, spectators and pure luck captured his only major title beating Juan Carlos Ferrero in the final. For the Spaniard it’s also memorable tournament because he reached No. 1 in the world advancing to that final. Read more…
Posted in History | Leave a comment

37th Week – Davis Cup (SF + play-offs)

This gallery contains 4 photos.

World Group – semifinals Gijon (clay): Spain – USA 3:1 Rafael Nadal announced before the US Open that he would come back at this semifinal tie. He skipped it though, and it’s tough to say when he might play first … Continue reading

More Galleries | Leave a comment

Roddick’s farewell

This gallery contains 3 photos.

He was the next big thing in American tennis after a decline of “golden generation” born in the early 70s. His emergence onto the tennis scene was thundering, as soon as he appeared in the ATP ranking (2000) he was … Continue reading

More Galleries | Leave a comment

US Open 1988

“Now they are starting at 15 and burnt out at 24” said Jimmy Connors on the upcoming generation of American players. It was a tournament marked by a tennis torch that passed from one generation to another: 16-year-old Michael Chang and two years older Andre Agassi made their biggest results at the time, fourth round and semifinal respectively. The statement about burning out paradoxically was not correct to them, but in relation to Mats Wilander, the US Open ’88 champion. The Swede had captured his first major title at the age of 17 (Roland Garros 1982) and seemed to be a certain successor of Bjorn Borg. Wilander couldn’t reach the No. 1 over the years despite winning another majors. His dreams of becoming the best in the world came to fruition at Flushing Meadows, in 1988, as he defeated Ivan Lendl avenging six straight defeats, in the longest US Open final (one minute longer than yesterday’s final between Murray and Djokovic). Wilander, only 24 at the time, was so fulfilled that lost his motivation, and never came back to a Grand Slam final. 
Posted in History | Leave a comment

US Open – final

(3)Andy Murray d. (2)Novak Djokovic      7-6(10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2            [4:54 h]

Fifth straight US Open final held on Monday was the most magnificent revenge for the Australian Open loss to Djokovic, Murray could ever imagine. The Scot, who had lost the previous four major finals, finally fulfilled dreams of British fans capturing the first Grand Slam title for Great Britain since 1936 (Fred Perry). The final started at 4 p.m. in tricky conditions, the wind blew so strongly that visibly affected tennis of both finalists, especially of Djokovic, who was constantly off balance whereas playing backhands, it forced him to adapt backhand slice as the main stroke. Perhaps Murray was better adjusted because he’d played against Berdych in similar conditions. He led 4:2* (deuce) in the 1st set, but Djokovic broke back attacking often to the net. In the tie-break the Serb won a tough rally for a 4:2 lead which seemed crucial. Murray’s record in tie-breaks in the last two seasons is remarkable though, and it was symbolically capitalized when they changed the ends, and Djokovic fell on the ground twice – once protecting his body from Murray’s powerful serve, then after a rally being caught on contre pie – both knees of the Serbian player were slightly bleeding in the consequence. Djokovic saved five set points (two on return – Murray’s unforced errors), but the Scot is recently invincible as he reaches a set point – the last time when he lost a set being one point away occurred two years ago in Cincinnati (to be precise it was a match point against Chardy, but Murray won then anyway). On sixth occasion he fired a service winner, followed up with a huge roar of relief. 12/10 – Murray has an awesome record of tie-breaks that reached six-all at least: 18-9. The 87-minute set cost Djokovic decrease of concentration. Murray jumped quickly to a *4:0 (15/0) lead in the 2nd set whilst his rival was spreading errors everywhere. It was elegantly wasted by Murray, however, one of his strongest mental features since his early days on the tour, is that he doesn’t lose his focus once he wastes a comfortable leading. When Djokovic leveled at 5 games apiece, Murray recovered with some considerable help (two unforced errors in the 12th game from Djokovic, including an easy overhead missed by inch) to build a two-set advantage. When they entered 3rd set, the stadium immersed into night session atmosphere. Djokovic likes to repeat that under floodlights he loves to play in New York, feeling the energy of the crowd. He confirmed it when won his first game of the set with a brilliant volley. He made his first solid fist-pumps on day encouraging spectators to bigger support. Sets no. 3 & 4 were played completely on Djokovic’s terms. Murray was point or two from breaking Djokovic’s serve a couple of times, but every time the Serb responded with good serves and aggressive baseline shots. An average rally was longer and more punishing, the tensity increased… Srdjan Djokovic jumped out of his seat when his son got a code violation from umpire Jake Gardner. Because Djokovic is a 5-set master, and Murray signalized some physical problems at the tail end of the 4th set, vast majority of fans could expect Murray’s fifth straight loss in Grand Slam finals. Nonetheless the Scot outsmarted his peer. First points of the decider clearly showed that Murray had saved the required energy, he even interacted with the crowd winning long rally to get 2:0. In the following game Djokovic had two game points but failed. He did everything to cut the deficit winning two games in a row, but 6th game (Murray won to ‘love’ needing only service winners) disenchanted Serbian fans – Djokovic suffered cramps. He was limping in the 7th game losing his serve for the third time in the set. Although he took a medical time-out, his movement didn’t improve drastically and Murray converted a second match point after Djokovic’s crazy attempt to play the hardest return of the final (the ball landed 10 cm outside the baseline). Murray didn’t celebrate excessively, he just crouched in corner of tram-lines covering his face with hands. He got ultimately the monkey off his back after 4 hours 54 minutes – tied record of his coach Ivan Lendl, who co-created it 24 years ago along with Mats Wilander, who… had predicted before the US Open 2012 Murray as a new champion. Lendl, like his current pupil, had lost four initial Grand Slam finals prior to obtaining his first major, and it happened after a 5-set thriller as well – against John McEnroe in Paris 1984. One significant difference – Lendl was one year younger at the time (and had already known the taste of being No. 1). The hobbling Murray said during the trophy presentation: “After the third and fourth sets it was tough mentally for me… Novak is so, so strong. He fights till the end in every single match and I don’t know how I managed to come through in the end. It was close to five hours and I’ve had some really long and tough matches. I just managed to get through.” Stats of the final.
Murray is extremely tough nowadays, both, physically and mentally. He has won two last biggest tournaments (Olympics, US Open) and his advancement on No. 1 seems more probable than ever, maybe not this year, rather after the Australian Open 2013. His rivalry with Djokovic in years to come looks fascinating, I’m already curious how may look a comparison # of them when they turn 30 in the 50th anniversary of the Open era (year 2017). For the time being the new Grand Slam champion goes to No. 3, a currently inactive Rafael Nadal subsides to No. 4. Very likely this setup will prevail to the end of the season. I bet Djokovic is able to overcome Federer at the very top.

Doubles final:
(2)B.Bryan/M.Bryan d. (5)L.Paes/R.Stepanek 6-3, 6-4

# Comparison of the finalists:
Andy Murray
Age 25.3; tournaments 143; finals 24-12 (1-4 majors); matches 370-118; tie-breaks 107-65; five-setters 13-6
Novak  Djokovic
Age 25.3; tournaments 141; finals 31-19 (5-4 majors); matches 454-122; tie-breaks 132-77; five-setters 17-6


Posted in Tournaments | Leave a comment

US Open – semifinals

 2nd semifinal: Sunday

(2)Novak Djokovic d. (4)David Ferrer         2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2            [2:32 h]

Although the wind wasn’t as strong as in the first semifinal, Djokovic performed poorly in first twenty minutes of the match. He was visibly very irritated because he knew entering the court that the weather forecast had been awful. Ferrer led with a double break when tournament’s supervisor said to players about leaving the court because a tornado was coming… The play was resumed on the following day at 11 a.m. Djokovic was fully concentrated, and his supremacy couldn’t be questioned despite Ferrer won the opening game which established a 1-0 lead for him. There were punishing rallies with 20+ strokes won by both guys in the second and third sets, but they affected physical fitness of the Spaniard much more (he’d spent six hours longer on courts than Djokovic before their semifinal clash). He rallied from 0:2 to 3:2* in the 3rd set, however, it was the last moment of the match when his potential triumph could be considered. As the Serbian defending champion raced to a 4:0 lead in the last set, he didn’t even bother to fight in Ferrer’s last service games. Djokovic moves to the US Open final third year in succession, Ferrer becomes the second best (# behind Tim Henman) in terms of number of semifinals played at majors not having a final appearance. “It’s a great relief obviously to get it over with in four sets,” said Djokovic. “As well I was a different player. I felt much more comfortable on the court today than I did yesterday. Obviously the conditions were more brutal for all of us who played yesterday.”

# Most semifinals at majors without a final:
6 – Tim Henman (Wimbledon 1998, 99, 01, 02; Roland Garros 2004; US Open 2004)
4 – David Ferrer (US Open 2007, 12; Australian Open 2011; Roland Garros 2012)
4 – Sebastien Grosjean (Australian Open 2001; Roland Garros 2001; Wimbledon 2003, 04)
4 – Nikolay Davydenko (Roland Garros 2005, 07; US Open 2006, 07)
4 – Tommy Haas (Australian Open 1999, 02, 07; Wimbledon 2009)
3 – Roger Taylor (Wimbledon 1970, 73; Australian Open 1970)
3 – John Alexander (Australian Open 1973, 77, 77)
3 – Hank Pfister (Australian Open 1978, 81, 82)
3 – Raul Ramirez (Roland Garros 1976, 77; Wimbledon 1976)
3 – Cliff Richey (Roland Garros 1970; US Open 1970, 72)
3 – Tom Gorman (Wimbledon 1971; US Open 1972; Roland Garros 1973)

1st semifinal: Saturday

(3)Andy Murray d. (6)Tomas Berdych         5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(7)         [3:58 h]

It was ugly match (delayed one and a half hours due to rain) under very difficult conditions: hot day (27 Celsius), airplanes in the air, strong wind (15-20 mph). In consequence of the wind, strange things happened: Murray served one ace just 88 mph (141 km/h), at his other serve the wind blew his bag and chair onto the court, Berdych’s serves twice landed outside the baseline… Murray was struggling to find a proper rhythm in the 1st set, he was playing mainly slices from both sides (!), anyway led 2:1 with a break when he saved a break point with a dropshot, but his cap dropped down off his head before the second bounce and the point must have been replayed. This situation aroused a small quarrel between the players around Pascal Maria’s umpire chair. The more solid Berdych broke back after the replay, eight games afterwards converted his second set point with a huge forehand to take the 77-minute opener, but when the 2nd set started, the wind was stronger, and Murray was better adjusted – he found the right timing to play forehand top-spins. Berdych in turn completely lost his ball-toss and regular breaking him seemed easy for the Scot without special involvement. The Czech proposed a plan-B at the beginning of the 4th set though, trying serve-and-volley, and it was the right tactics. He escaped from a *0:3 (15/40) and levelled at three games apiece, he did it three times more in that set. It’s unbelievable that Murray always wins 4th set leading 2-sets-to-1 when the scoreline reaches a tie-break #. This time he trailed in the breaker 0:3, 1:4*, 2:5, but somehow managed to get back, saved a set point at 5:6 with a backhand contre pie and won the last two points of the semifinal after Berdych’s unforced errors. Murray returns to the US Open final after a 4-year break. “[The wind] was really, really tough one,” Berdych stated the obviousness, “He dealt with that much better than I did.” Two most famous Scots: actor Sean Connery (b. 1930) and football manager Alex Ferguson (b. 1941) appeared on Murray’s post-match press conference. Murray’s mother Judy said on Ferguson, “He’s just been telling me that Scotland invented the world.” Stats of the match.

# Murray’s 4-set wins with a 4th set tie-break:
US Open 2008: M.Llodra 6-4, 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(7)
Ausralian Open 2011: D.Ferrer 4-6, 7-6, 6-1, 7-6(2)
Wimbledon 2011: I.Ljubicic 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(4)
US Open 2011: J.Isner 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2)
Wimbledon 2012: I.Karlovic 7-5, 6-7, 6-2, 7-6(4)
Wimbledon 2012: D.Ferrer 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6(4)
US Open 2012: F.Lopez 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6(4)
US Open 2012: T.Berdych 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(7)
Posted in Tournaments | 2 Comments

US Open – quarterfinals

This year’s US Open was extremely predictable until quarterfinals. All highest seeded players advanced to the last eight, except Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but attendance of former Top 10’er instead – Marin Cilic, who had won 24 out of 29 matches since Queens Club, couldn’t be treated as a surprise. US Open quarterfinals are separated: two on Wednesday (top half of the draw), two on Thursday (bottom half).

 4th quarterfinal:

(2)Novak Djokovic d. (7)Juan M. del Potro      6-2, 7-6(3), 6-4             [3:06 h]

Djokovic’s physical preparation to the US Open 2012 is phenomenal, I assume he might win next two matches in straight sets as well. Del Potro played his best tennis in the 2nd set, striking the ball with tremendous depth and accuracy but Djokovic’s defense was exceptional – there were rallies when he was operating 4-5 meters behind the baseline to win points; two rallies of this type occurred at 4:5* (30-all) with DelPo two points away from tying the match. The highlight of the match came in the 12th, 17-minute game of that set as Del Potro with brave attitude saved three set points and took an 8-deuce game. Djokovic was in such a positive mood though, that unlucky game didn’t distract him – on the contrary – he focused even more to get very important breaker 7 points to 3 with excellent down the line backhand winner. Two separated sets were just decent. The Serb quickly obtained a break and held majority of service games quite convincingly. He improves their H2H record to 6-2. I count on many confrontations of them in the future because it’s a great match-up and would be very nice to see their four- or five-setters kept on this level of intensity.

3rd quarterfinal:

(4)David Ferrer d. (8)Janko Tipsarevic           6-3, 6-7(5), 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(4)        [4:31 h]

Perhaps it was a lifetime opportunity for Tipsarevic to get a Grand Slam semifinal because nowadays it’s really tough to avoid at this stage one of “big four” guys. This quarterfinal will be remembered as one of the most memorable matches of this year’s tournament, but the level of play in the first two sets was average, and Ferrer was going to grab a routine, boring 3-set victory. He lost opening two games, since then had a full control of the match though, his serve was working exceptionally well, he was more solid during longer rallies based on whipping in the middle of the court. However, Tipsy saved four mini-set points, made two stunning backhands in the tie-break on Ferrer’s serve, and converted his third set point with a risky inside-out forehand winner. Ferrer had five game points at 2-all in the 3rd set, when the inspired Tipsarevic got three amazing points in a row (all backhand winners). Henceforth the level of play was risen because the Serb had been found himself in a trance about 15 minutes, thus Ferrer was forced to increase his tennis to stop that trance at the beginning of the 4th set. He broke the Serbian player in the 8th game of that set to level at two sets apiece. Tipsarevic survived first tight three games of the decider, and when he led 4:1 (30/0), his pretty wife Biljana smiled with relief… too early. Ferrer caught the line with his second serve then, and won the game as Tipsarevic tumbled probably bruising left hip a bit. That fall somehow affected Tipsarevic’s mind, Ferrer broke back and had a double mini-match point at 4-all when the Serb took medical time-out (right groin pain), soon he came back on court winning four consecutive points. 5:4 (30/15) for him, two points away from semifinal, an attack to the net and backhand-volley error, if he was a volley specialist it could have been a double M.P. Both short guys received a standing ovation before the deciding tie-break. There was one mini-break which gave Ferrer a 5:3 lead after his most reliable action – penetrating forehand cross-court enhanced with an inside-out forehand taking the ball on the rise. The Spaniard got a double match point after a rally in which his strokes hit lines three times whilst Tipsarevic’s clipped the net-cord twice! On the first match point Tipsarevic netted backhand, and Ferrer could celebrate his return to the US Open semifinals (loss to Djokovic in 2007) on his knees. Stats of the match

5-set barometer: 17-9 David Ferrer, 15-8 Janko Tipsarevic

 2nd quarterfinal:

(6)Tomas Berdych d. (1)Roger Federer          7-6(1), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3      [2:42 h]

6-4 7-6 3:3, advantage on serve… It was a partial scoreline of a fourth round match at the Australian Open three years ago, in which Berdych blew that 2-0 lead and lost to Federer in five. When he wasted a 3:1* lead in the 3rd set today, a copy of that bitter loss hung in the air, however, they both are currently different players than in 2009. Berdych confirmed it beautifully when he slipped and fell on the ground at 2-all in the 4th set, but escaped from 0/30 getting four points in a  row. Federer, powerfully supported by 23.000 crowd, played arguably the best point of the match as he won a rally with a stretch-drop-volley at 3:4 (30-all). Who expected it would be his last point won this year in New York? That magnificent point was followed up by his casual forehand error and Berdych’s stunning forehand cross-court winner. Break. The Czech serving to move further,  delivered four hard serves and there was no play at all. It’s Berdych’s first victory on Arthur Ashe stadium (lost four previous matches here) in his first ever match on this court during night session. He improves his record against Federer to 5-11, including two extraordinary wins – when Berdych beat Federer at Wimbledon ’10 in four sets (quarterfinal), it was Federer’s first loss in London before the final in seven years; today’s knock out means Federer won’t play a US Open semifinal for the first time in eight years!  “I cannot count on beating Roger in straight sets and not getting in any trouble,” said Berdych. “I was always careful that anything could happen. Actually, it happened in the third set that he came strongly back. But for that, I’m even more happy with the way that I was able to hold his pressure and then add something extra for the fourth set.” It’s very important moment of the season, because probably this outcome decides that Djokovic is going to finish second straight year as the best player in the world. If the Serb doesn’t lose to Del Potro on Thursday, I really don’t see him losing to either Ferrer or Tipsarevic in semis, and obviously his chances to defend the title are huge then (especially if Berdych will be a final opponent).

1st quarterfinal:

(3)Andy Murray d. (12)Marin Cilic             3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-0       [3:00 h]

This match was shifted from Arthur Ashe to Louis Armstrong stadium because of rain-interruption at the beginning of the day. Murray had played two matches before quarters in day session (with a cap), and two in night session (without a cap). He began  the meeting with Cilic  under the sunlight, but appeared without a cap, perhaps it was a reason of his irritation and sluggish display. Cilic won first nine points of the match to establish a quick 3:0 lead. The Scot wore a cap (afterwards took it off), but couldn’t find his rhythm. Cilic was rock-solid from the back of the court – 7-0 in forehand winners in the 1st set, and less orientated spectators could sense an upset when he led with a double break in the 2nd set. Yet Murray never gives up, especially against mentally unstable opponents like the Croat (in the past Murray won almost all their tight sets). The Scot changed a bit his tactics (more attacks to the net), changed emotions too, from negative to positive ones, and Cilic started to lose his self-confidence. Murray saved a set point in the 8th game on return, and managed to improve the scoreline from *1:5 (15/30) to 6:5* (30/15)! Cilic got to the tie-break where led *4:2, approached the net with a shaky forehand, Murray passed him and didn’t slip away an opportunity to take the breaker. Cilic tried to forget about the unfortunate set, he even led 2:1* (30-all) in the 3rd set, but Murray was already in a different mood feeling the blood of his victim. Errors crept into Cilic’s game, he was showing more and more indifferent demeanor as the match progressed under the floodlights, and ultimately he completely fell apart – Murray won the last eleven games, finishing the contest with a cross-court backhand winner: “I have always found that court tricky to play on. I have had a lot of tough matches on it. It took me a while to get used to it. I think when the conditions slowed down a bit and started to get a bit darker, that helped me.”

Posted in Tournaments | Leave a comment

US Open – round 4th

Bottom half of the draw (Wednesday)

Due to rain the postponed fourth round matches were delayed almost two hours. Philipp Kohlschreiber [20] had overcome three tough rounds in the first week of the tournament, in contrary to Janko Tipsarevic [9], who was admittedly two-sets-down in the first round, but won the last three sets easily then (against Rufin). A different level of energy was visible during their match in front of rather empty Grandstand. The German made a small pursuit in the 2nd set going from 3:5 to 6:5* (30/15), but missed an easy volley wasting a chance for a set point, which significantly helped the Serb to obtain a 6-3 7-6(5) 6-2 victory. He advances to the US Open quarterfinal second straight year. Tipsarevic’s compatriot, Novak Djokovic [2] had even an easier passage to quarterfinals because Stanislas Wawrinka [19] retired on Louis Armstrong stadium trailing 4-6 1-6 1-3. Juan Marin del Potro [8] functions as a tennis Cerberus 😉 Three years ago he sent into retirement a 2000 US Open champion Marat Safin in Paris, today he sends there a 2003 US Open champ, Andy Roddick [22] by a 6-7(1) 7-6(4) 6-2 6-4 margin, in more than three hours (the only four-setter of the fourth round). Roddick fought bravely, but his double fault in the second point of the second tie-break was crucial. The American entered the 3rd set losing his serve twice and his chances to make an upset dropped drastically. During the post-match speech, his eyes were wet, he stated that a long road with many ups and downs came to an end. Until 2009 Americans had every year at least one representative in quarterfinals, in the last four years none of them has reached that stage thrice. This trend may worsen in the next few years because other best Americans of “Roddick’s generation”, Mardy Fish, Robby Ginepri and James Blake are supposed to retire soon.

Bottom half of the draw (Tuesday)

Day 9 was unfortunately rainy… I mentioned during the last Canadian Open that Richard Gasquet [14] isn’t able to compete with the most reliable baseliners: Djokovic, Nadal and David Ferrer [5]. In his today’s match against the latter Spaniard, he demonstrated that it’s not only a matter of patience and physical preparation but also a psychological issue. Gasquet was playing really good match over two opening sets, but he simply couldn’t step up when it was needed the most. He led 5:4* in the 1st set, and 5:2* in the 2nd – instead of continuing offensive and risky game he became way too passive being close to finish the sets off. Ferrer withstood four set points at 4:5 in the 2nd set, including a triple set point, only one of those four points he won taking the initiative – Gasquet made errors at three other points. It’s third consecutive match in which Ferrer wins a set saving set points (3 – Sijsling, 5 – Hewitt, 4 – Gasquet)! The last set (twice interrupted by long rain-breaks) didn’t bring any chance for Gasquet, and Ferrer converting his fifth match point, won 7-5 7-6 6-4 in almost three hours. His consistency this year is praiseworthy, he has advanced to quarterfinals of each major… Shortly after Ferrer’s advancement to the quarterfinal, rain came again and halted matches on other courts: Juan Martin del Potro vs. Andy Roddick on Arthur Ashe stadium (6:6 in the 1st set) and Janko Tipsarevic vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber on Grandstand (5:2, deuce in the 1st set). At 10 p.m. local time, officials decided to postpone these matches on Wednesday as well as a match between Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka (they played just two games on Louis Armstrong stadium).

Top half of the draw (Monday)

Ten tie-break losing streak must have been a bit overwhelming for Tomas Berdych [7]. Who could be a more comfortable opponent to snap it than Nicolas Almagro [12]? Berdych had beaten the Spaniard this year in Melbourne winning three tie-breaks in a row, had also won their tie-break in Rome just before the bad streak started. On Louis Armstrong stadium until the 1st set tie-break they were winning service games with an extreme ease, Berdych made a mini break at 1:1 – it was the first point he won in the set on Almagro’s first serve (!) and it decided – Berdych delivered four aces and a service winner to take the tie-break 7/4, and when he broke Almagro at 3-all in the 2nd, the match was virtually completed. The Spaniard had won three tough matches en route to the last 16, sore legs, and no hope to come back from 0-2 against a more solid guy. Berdych joins Ivan Lendl and Petr Korda as the third Czech in the Open era to reach quarterfinals of all Grand Slam tournaments. Other great Czech player, Jak Kodes never played at the Australian Open, during his best years (early ’70s) Europeans didn’t fly willingly to Melbourne. Mardy Fish [25] advanced to the fourth round after overcoming Gilles Simon in a strange match, in which the Frenchman was struggling physically throughout, but Fish couldn’t take advantage of it quickly. The American had his personal health issues too – they allowed him to win that match but prevented from entering the court against Roger Federer [1] # It’s the fourth time as Federer receives a walkover at majors, Fish for the third straight time leaves the US Open at the same stage.
Due to Fish’s withdrawal, Martin Klizan [52] – the only unseeded player in the last 16 – had a privilege to play his first match on Centre Court in a major. And he paid the price of being a debutant at the new territory. He played two decent sets but nerves let him down when things got tighter. At 4-all in the 1st set had a double break point but couldn’t reply on Marin Cilic‘s [13] standard second serves, then serving to stay in that set, made a couple of careless forehand errors. In the 2nd set wasted a 4:2* lead, and again facing a loss of a set delivered forehand unforced errors, including a pathetic one on set point down. Cilic was fully in command in the 3rd short set, obtaining ten consecutive games in total (7-5 6-4 6-0). In my opinion Klizan has technically similar potential to Thomaz Bellucci, so I expect to see the Slovak making upsets sometimes in the future at the biggest events and his steady progress in the ATP ranking. “I’m very, very happy and thrilled to be back in the quarters,” said Cilic. “The last two seasons since playing the semis at the Australian Open, I’ve been having lack of results at the Grand Slams. This just shows I had a really good summer, [playing] consistently.” In the ESPN studio, John McEnroe said before the Andy Murray [4] vs. Milos Raonic [16] night session match that the Canadian has the best serve ever and with improved net-skills would be a Top 5 player next year. Of course Raonic’s serve is a huge weapon, Murray is an awesome receiver, but Big-Mac has a tendency to exaggerate own opinions as well. This match exposed Raonic’s weakness – his inability to construct points when more balls backs on his side than usually. Murray did what on a normal basis should do against Raonic also Nadal and Djokovic, namely broke him several times, holding all service games not facing a break point, and notched a 6-4 6-4 6-2 win in exactly two hours, avenging a surprising loss from Barcelona earlier this year. Murray was magnificent: focused on every game, using wisely dropshots to mix up the pace and showing off fantastic backhand passing-shots. Raonic will have to work hard on his game to be a serious threat at majors, that’s for sure…

# Walkovers that Federer received at majors:
US Open 2004: Andrei Pavel (4th round)
Wimbledon 2007: Tommy Haas (4th round)
Australian Open 2012: Andreas Beck (2nd round)
US Open 2012: Mardy Fish (4th round)
Posted in Tournaments | Leave a comment

US Open – round 3rd

A favorite for the title in eyes of Mats Wilander and Goran Ivanisevic, Andy Murray faced one of his whipping-boys Feliciano Lopez on Louis Armstrong stadium. It was tough to predict that the Scot would win this match losing ten more points that the opponent (152-162). It’s not only that Murray possessed a 7-0 record against Lopez, but all those matches had won quite convincingly, including a beat-down last year at the US Open, in the third round as well (6-1 6-4 6-2). This time Lopez played his best tennis, Murray had a worse day, and three tie-break sets were required. In the first two, Lopez was two points away, he had very good chance especially in the second one as he led *5:3 and missed a forehand from a good position. Before the last tie-break, Murray withstood a break point at 5-all after a spectacular rally consisted of more than 20 flat shots with different spins and rotations. Well, Murray is one of the best tie-break players, and he always wins a tie-break leading 2-sets-to-1. In the 4th set he didn’t bother too much on Lopez’ service games, from time to time indicating a fatigue which in his case usually is a deceptive demeanor. Murray’s next opponent impresses with a consistency of serving aces in New York – Milos Raonic, regardless of a number of service games, delivers the same amount of aces, 30 in opening rounds, one ace fewer against James Blake during a 6-3 6-0 7-6 win on Grandstand. Blake lost this match as brutally as he won in the previous round against Granollers. Raonic had a short lapse of concentration leading 4:2* in the 3rd set, but once they entered the tie-break his dominance wasn’t questionable – no rallies, 4 aces and Raonic took it 7/3.
Andy Roddick secured himself one more opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere of the Arthur Ashe stadium overcoming Fabio Fognini in four sets in exactly three hours. The American was surprisingly out-aced (15-10) by the nonchalant Italian, but the serve didn’t let him down at the crucial stages of the sets he won. In the fourth round he takes on Juan Martin del Potro, presumably in the last match of career. Del Potro needed 3 hours 20 minutes to prevail a difficult three-setter (6-3 7-5 7-6) with a countryman – Leonardo Mayer. Del Potro saved a set point at 4:5 in the 2nd set on return, and two set points on serve in the tie-break, which he won 11/9 (on sixth match point). David Ferrer fought off five set points in a first set tie-break against Lleyton Hewitt, and it was a solid base to notch a 7-6(9) 4-6 6-3 6-0 victory. Ferrer won an amazing point at 9-all in the tie-break running from side to side, and finishing the helpless Hewitt off with a backhand passing-shot from the ad-court. I looked at Ferrer’s long tie-breaks, he has won the last nine of them when the score went  at least to 7:7. It’s tremendous stats considering Ferrer’s serve, which isn’t a weapon producing free points, so helpful in long breakers. Hewitt was one out of four “wild card” players to participate in the third round – the Open era record at the US Open, three others “wild card” victims of the last 32 are Americans: Blake, 19-year-old Jack Sock [243] & three years older Steve Johnson [245]. Both young Americans were ousted on Grandstand, but left good impression. Sock played three tie-breaks against Nicolas Almagro before fell apart in the 4th set, Johnson led 4:0 in the 1st set tie-break with Richard Gasquet, eventually losing 6-7(4) 2-6 3-6. Defeats of “wild card” Americans were calculated in minds of the local fans, but loss of John Isner must have been disappointed. Isner entered his match against Philipp Kohlschreiber with a 3-0 record, but all those matches were concluded in “the best of three” format. When it’s “the best of five”, the German is a different type of animal. Actually it’s some kind of mystery for me that he doesn’t choke in deciding 5th sets despite it happens to him in deciding 3rd sets quite often. Isner had four game points in the opening game of the 5th set, but was broken (three times in the match on just three opportunities for the opponent!) and Kohlschreiber never looked back, albeit Isner had his chance to break back  in two return games. At 2:26 a.m. local time (tied the latest finish in US Open history – Wilander d. Mikael Pernfors in 1993), Isner made a characteristic forehand error as a cause of tiredness and Kohlschreiber won 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 in 3 hours 20 minutes – the only five-setter of the third round. Isner was eliminated this year in each major after a 5-set encounter.
Two best players in the world, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic destroy subsequent opponents with smiling faces. Their road to the fourth round was a piece of cake, neither of them found himself at 5-all at least in one of those nine sets which are already behind them. Djokovic said on his preparation to the Open: “My goal was, in these seven, eight days I had off after the Cincinnati final, to really try to recover, charge my batteries, work on some things in my game, and come out strong from the start. That’s what I’ve done. I feel great on the court. I’m really trying to keep that up.”

Longest match: 3 hours, 53 minutes. Andy Murray d. Feliciano Lopez 7-6(5), 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(4)
Most aces: 29 – Milos Raonic, defeated James Blake in three sets
5-set barometer: 14-5 Philipp Kohlschreiber; 4-9 John Isner
Posted in Tournaments | Leave a comment

US Open – round 2nd

On 30 August, Andy Roddick [22] appeared on his birthday press-conference (turned 30) and stunned journalists with words: “I’ll make this short and sweet. I’ve decided that this is going to be my last tournament.” He later explained his surprising decision: “It’s been a process. Certain parts throughout the year, I’ve thought about it, just with the way my body feels, with the way that I’m able to feel like I’m able to compete now, I don’t know that it’s good enough. I don’t know that I’ve ever been someone who’s interested in existing on tour. I have a lot of interests and a lot of other things that excite me.” On the following day, the 2003 champion played one of his best matches in the last few years beating Bernard Tomic 6-3 6-4 6-0. Roddick served 13 aces, not committing a double fault, had very good efficiency at the net (22 of 33) and never faced a break point. Two other American veterans advanced to the third round as well: Mardy Fish [25] outplayed Nikolay Davydenko after losing the first two sets on Arthur Ashe stadium, James Blake [114] enjoyed probably his best match since 2008 as he demolished Marcel Granollers 6-1 6-4 6-2 on Louis Armstrong stadium in the night session. The 32-year-old American overpowered his opponent with outstanding all-court game, the Spaniard never got to ‘deuce’ on Blake’s serve. Actually it’s the tournament of veterans so far, Lleyton Hewitt [125] in a battle of five-set specialists outlasted Gilles Muller in four and a half hours. “It’s great,” Hewitt said on 5th set, “That’s why you still play the game. It all happens pretty quick when you’re actually out there playing. Sometimes you wish you had a few more seconds to just sort of soak it up and enjoy the moment a little bit more.” Hewitt avoided a two-sets-to-love deficit railing from 3:5 in the 2nd set. Other 30-year-olds, but being still at the top of the game, Roger Federer and David Ferrer secured their places in the last 32 not losing a set in their two matches, however the Spaniard was forced to play a 3rd set tie-break in both his matches, including the longest one this year in New York – 14/12 against Igor Sijsling. Philipp Kohrschreiber still holds his amazing record of winning five-setters when a 5th set goes to 5-all at least. Against Benoit Paire, Kohlschreiber led 4:1 in the decider but blew two mini-match points and was on verge of being eliminated as the Frenchman served at 6:5 (30-all). The German somehow prevailed 6-7 6-3 3-6 6-2 7-6 in 3 hours 38 minutes though. Also tight 5th sets won other experienced players in these circumstances, both after squandering a two sets cushion: Feliciano Lopez, who saved a mini-match point at 2:4 against Pablo Andujar (6-4 6-1 6-7 3-6 7-5), and Marin Cilic – the winner over Daniel Brands (6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 7-5) – the Croat was three points away from defeat at *4:5 in the 5th set. Tough conditions (33 degrees, low humidity) brought first big upset on Thursday – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was terribly erratic and Martin Klizan [52] took an advantage of it winning 6-4 1-6 6-1 6-3. It’s arguably the biggest achievement in career of the 23-year-old left-handed Klizan, who is coached by a former Top 10 player, fellow Slovak Karol Kucera.  Tsonga’s earliest elimination in a Grand Slam tournament since Australian Open 2007.

Longest match: 4 hours, 35 minutes. Lleyton Hewitt d. Gilles Muller 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4
Most aces: 35 – Gilles Muller lost to Lleyton Hewitt in five sets
5-set barometer:
31-18 Lleyton Hewitt, 19-13 Stanislas Wawrinka, 16-8 Feliciano Lopez, 14-6 Marin Cilic, 13-5 Philipp Kohlschreiber, 13-10 Nikolay Davydenko, 11-9 Mardy Fish, 11-8 Nicolas Almagro, 8-3 Gilles Muller, 8-8 Philipp Petzschner, 1-2 Benoit Paire, 1-3 Daniel Brands, 1-4 Steve Darcis,  1-5 Pablo Andujar
Posted in Tournaments | Leave a comment