Roland Garros – Day 6, 7 (3R)

haas_rg13Just like during last year’s Wimbledon, five 30+ year-olds reached the last 16 of a major tournament (Haas, Youzhny, Robredo, Ferrer & Federer). The oldest among them, Tommy Haas survived one of the most amazing matches in the Grand Slam history. The German wasted 12 match points (Open era record!) in the 4th set against John Isner on Court No. 1, then trailed *0:3 (30-all) in the deciding set, and saved a match point at 4:5 (30/40) with a quite long rally during which he hit one of his shots uncleanly close to the sideline. Isner fought off nine match points serving at 5:6, including 15/40, and another three match points in the tie-break (6:7, 7:8*, 8:9). Haas committed a double fault having the only match point on serve, Isner delivered 5 aces saving other match points! “It’s obviously a great match to be a part of, especially at such a big event against somebody that is very used to those kinds of matches,” said Haas. “Unfortunately one has to lose, and I think it would have been more upsetting for me in this case, after having many chances in the fourth set there.” The German joins Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker & Greg Rusedski as the fourth Open era player to survive six five-setters facing a match point, he also becomes the first 35 year-old player to reach the fourth round of a major since Jonas Bjorkman advanced to the fourth round of the French Open 2007. Rafael Nadal, after two first rounds in which had lost opening sets, was close to repeat it when Fabio Fognini was serving at 6:5. The Italian couldn’t consolidate the break and lost the match 6-7(5) 4-6 4-6. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for the third time won their matches in straight sets, Djokovic avenged a Madrid loss to Grigor Dimitrov outplaying the Bulgarian 6-2 6-2 6-3. The Serbian became the 40th player in Open era history to win 500 main-level matches. Federer dismissed Julien Benneteau 6-3 6-4 7-5 – in very similar fashion like five years before in the fourth round. Gael Monfils, despite his two entertaining matches on Philippe Chatrier, robredo_rg13was subsided to Suzanne Lenglen and perhaps it didn’t help him. The Frenchman, playing his 13th match in 18 days, wasted four match points, two consecutive on serve leading 5:4 in the 4th set, and lost to Tommy Robredo 6-2 7-6(5) 2-6 6-7(3) 2-6 in 3 hours 46 minutes. “Maybe today he was physically fitter than me,” Monfils said,  “Already during the match I started feeling some problems. I tried to hide it, but there comes a stage when whatever you do to hide your physical problems you can no longer hide them, and he became stronger and stronger. It is frustrating, because I don’t like to lose matches for physical or fitness [reasons]. But today I have to admit he was stronger.” Robredo’s second straight five-set win coming back from two sets down (in the second round he won easily three sets after dropping the first two to Igor Sijsling).

Longest match: 4 hours, 37 minutes. Tommy Haas d. John Isner 7-5, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-7(10), 10-8
Most aces: 27 – Isner against Haas
5-set barometer: 21-20 Tommy Haas, 12-4 Tommy Robredo, 12-6 Gilles Simon, 11-6 Geal Monfils, 5-12 John Isner, 2-6 Sam Querrey
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Roland Garros – Day 4, 5, 6 (2R)

Gael Monfils has taken part in two best matches at this year’s Roland Garros (both on Philippe Chatrier). After surviving a 5-set thriller against Tomas Berdych, the former semifinalist defeated Ernests Gulbis in an entertaining 4-set duel. Monfils came from a break down in sets 2 & 3 to build a 5:2* lead in the 3rd set. The level of tennis from that moment to the end of the set was extremely pleasant to watch because both players raised the level of their game-styles to their best. gulbis_monfils_rg13Gulbis saved five set points on return in the 9th game (including a triple SP) and had four chances to break his opponent in the 11th game – the last break point was saved by Monfils with a very lucky net-cord. The local pupil converted his seventh set point with a stop-volley and Gulbis couldn’t recover after that, losing the 4th set unfortunately not putting too much energy onto the court. Sergiey Stakhovsky used his smart-phone to take a picture of a questionable call during his first round loss, Monfils went a bit further with the technology and asked the chair umpire for permission to record the atmosphere on his phone. “I asked, ‘[Am] I allowed to tape the wave?’ He tell me, ‘Sure, you can.’ So I said, ‘Okay, I will tape it, like quick. No worries.’ (Laughter.),” explained Monfils, the 6-7(5) 6-4 7-6(4) 6-2 winner. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic outplayed their opponents without any troubles, Somdev Devvarman and Guido Pella respectively. “He doesn’t need to change his game. It worked back then, so it’s up to me now to change something and to see what didn’t work during that match and to see how I can change it,” stated Federer about his next match against Julien Benneteau to whom lost twice indoors and barely survived a Wimbledon hanescu_rg13encounter last year. Benneteau, strongly supported by the partisan crowd, ended in tears his second round match against Tobias Kamke, 7-6(9) 7-5 5-7 0-6 6-4. The Frenchman saved two set points in the tie-break and rallied from a 0:2* (15/30) deficit in the deciding set. Kamke played two five-setters in Paris, and both had a twisted progress – he lost 11 straight games in the first round, but won the match; against Benneteau experienced the reverse – won 10 straight games, but finished as a loser. Victor Hanescu [54] moved into the third round as a grantee of two retirements. I’ve made some research to find only eight earlier cases in the Open era that a player got two wins via retirements within one major (it happened once at Australian Open – Arnaud Clement in 2000, once at Wimbledon – Clark Graebner in 1969, once at Roland Garros – Alberto Berasategui in 1994, and five times at US Open: Raymond Moore, Jiri Novak, Andy Roddick, Robin Soderling and Tommy Robredo). Janko Tipsarevic for the third time in career lost a match point up set to Fernando Verdasco, but second time managed to win under these circumstances, 7-6(3) 6-1 3-6 5-7 8-6 in 4 hours 33 minutes. Rafael Nadal again unexpectedly lost  his opening set, this time to fellow left-hander Martin Klizan (4-6 6-3 6-3 6-3). “I started the match probably with not the right intensity, with more doubts than usual,” admitted Nadal. “The positive thing was that I had a good reaction at the beginning of the second, even if I didn’t play fantastic. I played the way that I had to play, with intensity, with passion, playing more inside.”

Longest match: 4 hours, 33 minutes. Janko Tipsarevic d. Fernando Verdasco 7-6(3), 6-1, 3-6, 5-7, 8-6
Most aces: 24 – Milos Raonic, defeated Michael Llodra in four sets
5-set barometer: 18-8 Janko Tipsarevic, 16-13 Fernando Verdasco, 15-11 Andreas Seppi, 11-4 Tommy Robredo, 11-10 Viktor Troicki, 8-6 Julien Benneteau, 5-11 John Isner, 3-3 Daniel Gimeno-Traver, 2-2 Blaz Kavcic, 2-3 Tobias Kamke, 1-2 Igor Sijsling, 0-3 Ryan Harrison
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Roland Garros – Day 3, 4 (1R)

Because of bad weather on Tuesday (heavy rain delayed the start of play until 1:45 p.m. local time) three matches were suspended, Janko Tipsarevic and Nicolas Mahut didn’t enter the court at all. In one of those suspended matches a recent semifinalist in Rome, Benoit Paire outlasted Marcos paire_rg13Baghdatis 3-6 7-6(1) 6-4 6-4 coming back from a break down in the 2nd set. The Frenchman survived a titanic 6th game of the 3rd set (11 deuces, 15 minutes) saving six break points in the process, and got the crucial break in the following game just before the suspension. Baghdatis has lost eight consecutive tournament matches! In other two-day battle Lukasz Kubot saved two set points in a 3rd set tie-break to defeat qualifier Maxime Teixeira 6-4 5-7 7-6(7) 6-2 – it’s the first time in history that three Polish players have advanced to the second round of a major. I had an impression that Novak Djokovic in his opening match against David Goffin wanted to save as much energy as possible thinking already about a very probable clash with Nadal in the semifinals. The Serb won 7-6(5) 6-4 7-5 taking advantage of Goffin’s errors in latter stages of all sets. “He did really well at the start, and throughout all the match he was playing really nice tennis from baseline,” said the World No. 1 “It was a tough match. I needed to fight all the way through every set, and I served well when I needed to and played my best tennis when it was most important.” In the second round, Djokovic will face Guido Pella, who notched first GS win overcoming Ivan Dodig 4-6 6-4 6-3 2-6 12-10 in 3 hours, 24 minutes. Four players retired, Bernard Tomic for the second time this year facing Victor Hanescu (previously in Dubai).

Longest match: 4 hours, 34 minutes. Horacio Zeballos d. Vasek Pospisil 7-6(9), 6-4, 6-7(4), 2-6, 8-6
Most aces: 23 – Pospisil, lost to Zeballos
5-set barometer: 3-4 Ivan Dodig, 2-0 Horacio Zeballos, 1-0 Guido Pella, 1-2 Vasek Pospisil
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Roland Garros – Day 1, 2 (1R)

The second Grand Slam of the year is deprived of two major champions and last years quarter-finalists: Andy Murray (back problems) and Juan Martin del Potro (virus). The lack of Murray is exceptionally interesting for the progress of the tournament because the Scot reached at least quarterfinal in his last nine major appearances (eight times semifinal or better). The last year finalists, Ragfael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are in the same section of the draw which means that if Roger Federer doesn’t advance to the final, at least one finalist will be considered as unexpected.

15 matches on Day 1 (Sunday), 29 on the following day. Tomas Berdych vs. Gael Monfils looked like the most intriguing first round match-up on paper, and indeed it was a very interesting match between a very solid current Top 10’er and a player who was in the Top 10 two years ago, but monfils_rg13recently returns to the Top 100. The Frenchman needed five set points to take the opening set. A break in the 3rd game of the 2nd set gave him a two-sets-to-love lead, but Berdych comes back from the brink more often than anyone else in 2013. The Czech survived another two sets in tie-breaks being two points away from loss in set No. 4. Losing two tie-break sets and winning a match is extremely tough task #, but this match depended on serve above all, Monfils was broken just once in four sets and it gave him a solid base to believe in victory despite unfortunate circumstances. The crucial game of the match came in the 6th game of the final set when Monfils fought off a triple break point. He broke in the 11th game and served the match convincingly at ’15’. “It’s a unique moment because I have not won such matches for a long time, and I have not performed, if I can say, mentally, physically,” said Monfils. “It’s one of the best ones I have played here. I believed I would win during the whole match. I have gone through very difficult moments, so you get tougher.” There were other dramatic five-setters: Gilles Simon in front of his mother almost suffered the worst defeat of his career – he blew a 5:0* lead in the 5th set against a 5-set specialist Lleyton Hewitt, but took easily two games from 5-all (winning eight points in a row) to win 3-6 1-6 6-4 6-1 7-5. Simon next meets Pablo Cuevas [732], who didn’t play two years because of right knee injury. The 27-year-old Uruguayan saved two match points on return in the 5th set against Adrian Mannarino. Juan Monaco had a mini-match point in the 3rd set against Daniel Gimeno-Traver, and led *4:1 in a tie-break shortly afterwards, only to lose for the fourth time in career despite a 2-0 advantage in sets (third time against a Spaniard), 6-4 6-4 6-7(4) 4-6 4-6. From 3-all in the 3rd set, Paulo Lorenzi won 11 nadal_brands_rg13consecutive games against Tobias Kamke, but when the German snapped the streak at *0:2 in the 5th set, he was in command to the end of his 6-3 6-3 3-6 0-6 6-3 victory. Other German, Daniel Brands after winning the 1st set, jumped to a 3:0 in a tie-break of the 2nd set against 7-time champion Rafael Nadal. Brands [59] was in trance at the moment, and attacked Nadal’s second serve with his powerful forehand; if the ball was good he would probably take stunningly 2nd set, however, he missed just 10-15 cm, and Nadal took the control of the match winning the tie-break 7/4 and breaking Brands three times after that (he couldn’t do it in first two sets even once)t: 4-6 7-6 6-4 6-3. “He was playing unbelievable,” said Nadal. “I just tried to find my game and tried to resist his fantastic shots. He played a fantastic match and put me in a very difficult situation. I’m very happy to be through.” 18-year-old Nick Kyrgios [262] received a wild card to his first main-level tournament and notched a kyrgios_rg13valuable win overcoming veteran Radek Stepanek in three tie-breaks ##. In the 2nd tie-break Kyrgios saved six set points (!): 1:6 & 7:8, in the third one three more (6:7, 8:9, 10:11). “My goal today was just to go out there and enjoy every moment and give my best effort from the first point to the last. If I won today it was a bonus,” said Kyrgios. Robin Haase has ended his infamous streak of 17 tie-breaks lost in a row. The Dutchman, who couldn’t win a tie-break at the main-level since February 1, 2012, ousted a tall Frenchman, Kenny de Schepper 6-4 7-6(3) 2-6 6-3. It doesn’t happen often that two players face each other twice within one week: Michal Przysiezny defeated Rhyne Williams in his last qualifying match, Williams got into the main draw as a “lucky loser” and lost to the Pole again, this time taking a set off him. Przysiezny is one of three Poles participating in this year’s French Open; as many Poles as during the French Open ’13 were just once in a major, also in Paris (1970) – Wieslaw Gasiorek, Mieczyslaw Rybarczyk & Tadeusz Nowicki.

# French Open matches in which the winner lost sets No. 3 & 4 in tie-breaks:
1977: Rolf Norberg d. Pavel Slozil 6-2, 6-3, 6-7, 6-7, 7-5
1977: Brian Fairlie d. Yannick Noah 6-1, 6-3, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2
1986: Yannick Noah d. Tarik Benhabiles 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-7(8), 6-4
1990: Paul Haarhuis d. Jim Pugh 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-7(6), 7-5
1992: Chris Pridham d. Stephane Simian 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-7(4), 6-3
1994: Henrik Holm d. Stefan Edberg 7-5, 7-6(1), 6-7(2), 6-7(8), 6-4
2013: Gael Monfils d. Tomas Berdych 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-7(4), 7-5
## All-tie-break 3-setters at the French Open:
1998: Marzio Martelli d. Goran Ivanisevic 7-6(3), 7-6(6), 7-6(2)
2006: Ivo Karlovic d. Olivier Patience 7-6(6), 7-6(1), 7-6(10)
2008: Albert Montanes d. Kristof Vliegen 7-6(5), 7-6(2), 7-6(3)
2008: Wayne Odesnik d. Guillermo Canas 7-6(6), 7-6(3), 7-6(8)
2009: Victor Hanescu d. Steve Darcis 7-6(8), 7-6(5), 7-6(3)
2013: Nick Kyrgios d. Radek Stepanek 7-6(4), 7-6(8), 7-6(11)
Longest match: 4 hours, 3 minutes. Gael Monfils d. Tomas Berdych 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-7(4), 7-5
Most aces: 26 – Monfils, defeated Berdych
5-set barometer: 31-19 Lleyton Hewitt, 17-8 Feliciano Lopez, 17-9 Jarkko Nieminen, 16-8 Tomas Berdych, 14-11 Andreas Seppi, 11-5 Gael Monfils, 11-6 Gilles Simon, 9-11 Paul-Henri Mathieu, 7-2 Albert Montanes, 6-3 Marcel Granollers, 4-9 Juan Monaco, 3-2 Daniel Gimeno-Traver, 3-3 Pablo Cuevas, 2-1 Adrian Mannarino, 2-2 Tobias Kamke, 0-3 Leonardo Mayer, Steve Johnson & Paolo Lorenzi
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21st week

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No Top 10’ers in action this week. In Dusseldorf for the first time since 1978 a regular ATP tournament was held instead of the annual World Team Cup. Juan Monaco [19] took an opportunity of rather week draw and quick elimination … Continue reading

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| Roland Garros 2006-2008 |

nadal_2006-08championUnprecedented period in the Open era for many reasons, most of all – for the first time one player (Rafael Nadal) defeats the other one (Roger Federer) in three consecutive Grand Slam finals; only Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker had met in three consecutive finals of the same major (Wimbledon) before, with Edberg edging 2-1. During his 2006 triumph, Nadal overcame Guillermo Vilas‘ record of the most victories in a row on clay (the Argentine won 53 matches in 1977, Nadal was unbeaten on clay 81 straight matches in years 2005-07!).  In 2008 Nadal became the second man to win in Paris fourth year in succession (Bjorn Borg did it in years 1978-81). The Mallorcan repeated also other accomplishment of the Ice-Borg – while triumphing in 2008, he devastated all opponents (dropped just 41 games) like no-one in a Grand Slam event since Borg captured French Open titles in 1978 (lost 32 games) and 1980 (38 games). Federer, in years 2006-07 was just one win shy of equaling Rod Laver‘s 1969 feat of claiming four Grand Slam titles in a row. No other player was so close to make it before Federer’s ascendancy. The Swiss managed in 2007 to level other, much less important record though – in Melbourne & Paris stretched his Grand Slam winning streak to 11 matches not dropping a set (John McEnroe did it in 1984; London & New York).
Roland Garros 2006-07                     Roland Garros 2008
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Rome – final

(5)Rafael Nadal d. (2)Roger Federer    6-1, 6-3    [1:09 h]

nadal_rom13triumphWhen two best players of the XXI Century meet, expectations are always enormous. They had played on Centre Court in Rome one of the most memorable finals of the Open era (2006), so spectators gathered at Foro Italico counted on similarly equal match, in vain… 30th meeting between Nadal & Djokovic was epic (Australian Open ’12), unfortunately 30th match between Nadal & Federer was miserable. 1st game didn’t indicate it would be one of Federer’s worst defeats in career. The Swiss opened the final with an ace, played two nice volleys and a forehand winner. Afterwards Nadal produced a 9-game winning streak though, dominating the court entirely. He was returning Federer’s serves with ease, his forehand just like a day before was admirable. Federer couldn’t find any solution, and what’s worse he didn’t even try, he looked rather indifferent. He had a break point in the 1st game of the 2nd set, but Nadal fought it off with a service winner. During a changeover at 3:0 in the 2nd set whistles flight around the stadium, they didn’t motivate Federer to bigger effort. Nadal was serving at 5:1 to make the most devastating loss in Federer’s career (the Swiss lost 1-6 1-6 in Barcelona ’00 to Sergi Bruguera), bnadal_federer_rome13ut two best backhands of the final helped Federer to break at ‘love’. Nadal was more focus on his second service chance and quick hold to ‘love’ gave him 56th title (7th at Italian Open). The Spaniard seems to play better tennis than ever after the 7-month sabbatical, and very likely he’s going to regain the status of the best player in the world this year. In 2013 he’s played eight tournaments, reaching finals every time (!) – it’s his best half of the season since turned pro ten years ago. It’s tough to imagine someone would beat him in Paris, taking into account rather poor appearances of Djokovic and Murray in Madrid and Rome. Federer goes to Paris for the first time not having won a title in the first five months of the season since he captured his first one in 2001. “If you told me four or five months ago that after eight tournaments I would have won six titles from eight finals, I would say you are crazy,” said Nadal, “To win three Masters 1000 and two ‘500’ tournaments is more than I ever dreamed.” 

Doubles final:
(1)B.Bryan/M.Bryan d. (6)M.Bhupathi/R. Bopanna 6-2, 6-3

Match stats (total points: 59-36):
Nadal: 12 service, 1 aces, 2 FH, 7 BH, 1 dropshot
Federer: 5 service, 3 aces, 3 FH, 2 BH, 6 volleys, 2 overheads, 1 dropshot
Nadal: 1 double fault, 7 FH, 7 BH
Federer: 0 double faults, 15 FH, 16 BH, 4 volleys
Break point conversion:
Nadal: 5/6 (5 games)
Federer: 1/2 (2 games)
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Rome – semifinals

2nd semifinal:
(2)Roger Federer d. Benoit Paire    7-6(5), 6-4    [1:27 h]

federer_rome13_Paire played a solid match, especially given the circumstances – completely new territory for him; first time on Centre Court, first time in such an advanced phase of a big tournament, against one of the best players of all time. In the 1st set he was more aggressive, more creative, tennis-wise more interesting for spectators, breaking first (7th game, immediate ribreak), he also led in the tie-break a couple of times, including 5:4 on serve when made two casual errors. The 2nd set was decided in the 3rd game when Paire led 40/15 and lost four straight points – two consecutive double faults in the end. The unorthodox Frenchman had a double break point to level the score in the 6th game, but Federer once again was able to win four points in succession. The Swiss stated: “I’m very happy with how things went for me. It could have gone either way again like yesterday against Janowicz, so to come through in straight sets shows that I’m comfortable. When it’s close, I am not doubting myself a whole lot, which is always a good thing heading into a final.”  The hermetic hierarchy in men’s tennis has been finally questioned lately: in each of the last three Masters 1000 events on clay, an unheralded player, for whom the quarterfinal had already been a great result, advanced to the semifinals (Fabio Fognini in Monte Carlo, Pablo Andujar in Madrid & Paire in Rome).

Match stats (total points: 78-70):
Federer: 18 service, 1 aces, 8 FH, 1 BH, 1 volley, 5 overheads, 1 lob
Paire: 13 service, 8 aces, 4 FH, 11 BH, 6 volleys
Federer: 3 double faults, 16 FH, 8 BH
Paire: 5 double faults, 15 FH, 23 BH, 1 volley
Break point conversion:
Federer: 2/6 (3 games)
Paire: 1/6 (4 games)

1st semifinal:
(5)Rafael Nadal d. (6)Tomas Berdych    6-2, 6-4   [1:17 h]

nadal_rome13Djokovic and Nadal are the two toughest opponents for Berdych. The Czech managed somehow to beat one of them, so it was pretty obvious that eliminating two in back-to-back would be too tough for him. Nadal was flawless in the 1st set, he delivered his A-game with enormous top-spin forehands. His level dropped a bit in the 2nd set and Berdych held four service games, he led 4:3* (30-all) when sent a backhand long, Nadal shouted “Vamos!” and the semifinal was actually finished in that moment – the Spaniard won 10 out of last 12 points. The 26-year-old Nadal is through to his eighth final in as many tournaments this year! “He started really well and of course it’s Rafa and we know how he plays on clay,” said Berdych. “I had a chance that I didn’t take and yesterday I had one chance that I did take and I won.”

Match stats (total points: 57-36):
Nadal: 10 service, 0 aces, 10 FH, 5 BH, 1 volley
Berdych: 7 service, 5 aces, 4 FH, 2 BH, 1 dropshot
Nadal: 0 double faults, 13 FH, 7 BH
Berdych: 0 double faults, 13 FH, 13 BH, 1 volley
Break point conversion:
Nadal: 3/4 (4 games)
Berdych: 0/1 (1 game)
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Rome – three rounds + QFs


Tomas Berdych had lost 11 straight matches to Novak Djokovic, so when the Serb led 6-2 5:2 in their Rome quarterfinal, Berdych’s victory was actually beyond imagination. Yet this year, the Czech comes back from similarly difficult situations more often than anyone #. In the 9th game berdych_rome13Djokovic was serving at 30/15 being two points away from the semifinal, but Berdych responded with three points won in a row and the match turned magically around. A break for Berdych in the 3rd game of the 3rd set was decisive, but serving for the match, Berdych choked a bit allowing his opponent to save a triple match point. At ‘deuce’ Berdych extended his service preparation, delivered a service winner followed by an ace, 2-6 7-5 6-4. “One day you have to break [the run] and I am happy that it was today,” said Berdych. “It was a great game and I am happy. I was trying to stay positive from the beginning. He didn’t give me a single chance. I was trying to stay there and there are matches when you don’t get a single chance, but then if you get one, then you are ready. Then everything could turn the other way and this is what happened.” Last week in Madrid, Rafael Nadal needed 2 hours 27 minutes to beat his compatriot David Ferrer, this time their encounter lasted 20 minutes longer, but Nadal wasn’t in serious danger like seven days before, notching a 6-4 4-6 6-2 victory that impreoves his H2H record vs. Ferrer to 19-4 – one of the most lopsided H2Hs in the Open era. Roger Federer saved a set point on return during his 6-4 7-6(2) win over Jerzy Janowicz and next meets Benoit Paire, a guy who is completely unexpected in a semifinal of such a big tournament. The 24-year-old Frenchman dismissed Marcel Granollers 6-1 6-0 in just 57 minutes in the first quarterfinal of the day (they’d played twice before at the main level, and both matches in straight sets won the Spaniard). Thanks to his amazing run in Rome, Paire will be seeded for the first time in a Grand Slam tournament at Roland Garros.

Three Rounds

A bit stronger line-up in Rome than last week in Madrid because Juan Martin del Potro entered the tournament after three weeks off. The Tandil Tower met fellow Argentine, the new Pope paire_rome13Francis. It didn’t help Del Potro – he was unexpectedly ousted in the third round by Benoit Paire [36], who had saved a match point in the second round (against Julien Benneteau) reaching quarterfinals of a Masters 1000 even for the first time in career. Marcel Granollers [37] became the second unheralded quarter-finalist, however, the Spaniard made this stage in Masters 1000 last year at the Canadian Open. The Spaniard was doing everything to slip away his chance to beat Andy Murray in the second round. After winning 1st set 6-3, Granollers led 4:1 in the 2nd set with a double break and *5:4 in the tie-break. The Scot (celebrated 26th birthday that day) leveled at one set apiece, but retired immediately after taking the tie-break due to back pain: “I pulled out because there is a good chance I wouldn’t be playing tomorrow. We’ll have to wait for Paris. I’d be very surprised if I were playing in Paris.” Seven year ago Murray defeated Granollers in Barcelona being a set and 1:4 down in the 2nd set (4-6, 6-4, 6-2). In the third round Granollers struggled past Jeremy Chardy, a man whom had also defeated reaching his previous big quarterfinal (Toronto ’12). Qualifier Ernests Gulbis displayed an awesome tennis in the 1st set of his third round match against Rafael Nadal. The Latvian (in the first round snapped Jarkko Nieminen‘s 9 tie-break winning streak) was a point away from bagelling the King of Clay! Nadal survived a break point at the beginning of the 2nd set and his patience paid off in the end. Gulbis was producing fantastic winners off both sides throughout, twice came back from a break down in losing sets, but when they stuck at two games from taking sets Nos. 2 & 3, Nadal’s experience and enormous fighting spirit prevailed. The final scoreline: 1-6 7-5 6-4; Nadal’s improved H2H vs. federer_rome13Gulbis to 6-0, but in five matches lost a set being four times quite close to lose another one, twice in Rome (previously in the 2010 semifinal). “I thought I was the better player in the match and also in the second and third sets but he is the champion,” said Gulbis. “I lost against him in Indian Wells when I also thought I played better than him. He is solid and he didn’t do anything special and I made mistakes and so he won.” Roger Federer showed up with a new haircut – his shortest in the XXI Century and very strong performances in two opening matches. In the quarterfinal he’ll face for the first time Jerzy Janowicz, who rediscovered his magic from Paris Bercy where he stunned the tennis world advancing to the final out of nowhere. The young Pole in two entertaining battles sent two Top 10 Frenchmen packing (Tsonga & Gasquet).  Janowicz [24] ripped off his shirt in celebration after defeating Tsonga. Tomas Berdych for the fourth time this year ousted Kevin Anderson – they have met eight times in the last 18 months with Berdych as a winner every time.

# Berdych’s five wins in 2013 being a few points from a straight sets loss:
Dubai: Roger Federer 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-4 – 3 mp
Miami: Daniel Gimeno-Traver 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-2
Miami: Alejandro Falla 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 – 2 mp
Barcelona: Nikolay Davydenko 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 – 2 mp
Rome: Novak Djokovic 2-6, 7-5, 6-4
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19th week – Madrid

I haven’t described this tournament as past ‘Masters 1000’ events this year, because I had a busy weekend (partying with friends from Breslau), and simply hadn’t time to watch any matches from quarterfinals and onwards. 

dimitrov_madrid13There was a big surprise in the second round: in the longest ‘best-of-three’ match of the season (3 hours 6 minutes), Grigor Dimitrov notched his first win over a Big 4 player stunning Novak Djokovic 7-6(6) 6-7(8) 6-3. The young Bulgarian saved three set points in the 1st set, but wasted a match point in the 2nd set suffering cramps in the meantime. It had seemed he should have lost the decider quickly, but somehow regrouped and survived being supported strongly by the Madrid crowd, who booed the Serb when he left the court (it’s tough to indicate one special reason of that). “Of course this has been what I’ve been working for, to play matches like that, and why not win them?” Dimitrov said. “Today was one of these days that I felt good on court. I felt I had enough hours of practice in the weeks before. I felt that I could actually hang with Novak the whole match. That’s the whole purpose of getting ready for big events and eventually for big matches.” Other surprise, but of much more smaller caliber came from Kei Nishikori‘s hands. The Japanese ousted Roger Federer 6-4 1-6 6-2 in the third round. “Credit to Kei. He got it done and was more solid in the wind. He played better than I did, so the better guy won today, that’s for sure.” said the haase_madrid13Swiss playing his first clay-court tournament this year. Robin Haase has become an infamous record holder of the longest tie-break losing streak. The Dutchman suffered three tie-break defeats this week which has extended his streak to 17 (the previous longest losing streak belonged to Graham Stilwell, who lost 15 tie-breaks in a row in years 1972-73) # The Dutchman can’t win a main-tour level tie-break since Zagreb ’12, however, in the meantime he won a few in qualifying rounds and a Challenger. The best tournament of career experienced Pablo Andujar [113]. The 27-year-old Spaniard came to Madrid having lost 11 consecutive matches lately, yet during the Mutua Madrid Open he won four matches, reaching first Masters 1000 semifinal. Arguably it was the best tournament for Stanislas Wawrinka as well. The Swiss gained his second Masters 1000 final, the previous one (Rome 2008) was a bit less demanding, because he got a quick retirement in the semifinal. This time the semifinal was very tough, he had been trailing *2:4 (15/40) in the 3rd set against Tomas Berdych, before won it 6-3 4-6 6-4. Wawrinka returns to the Top 10 for the first time since October 2008. “I’m very happy,” said Nadal after his final win over Wawrinka. “I think I played a really good match. I think I played the best match of the whole week today in the final. Being able to play here in Madrid and being able to win in front of all my people, is something really special.” The 26-year-old Mallorcan nadal_wawrinka_madrid2013barely escaped in the quarterfinals when he was two points away against his most frequent rival on clay, David Ferrer. The older Spaniard had a comfortable position to finish a point with a forehand which could give him a double match point, instead he was lobbed, Nadal finished the point with a smash and never looked back with a 4-6 7-6(3) 6-0 victory. Nadal joins Thomas Muster in the Open era with 40 clay-court titles (55 titles altogether). He is 40-6 overall in clay finals, now only trails fellow left-hander Guillermo Vilas (46). Stats of the final


S: (5)Rafael Nadal d. (15)Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-4
D: (1)B.Bryan/M.Bryan d. (7)A.Peya/B.Soares 6-2, 6-3

# Robin Haase’s 17 lost tie-breaks in a row (new record):
Indian Wells: Pablo Andujar 2-6, 6-3, 6-7(2)
Miami: Jurgen Melzer 6-7(2), 6-3, 4-6
Nice: Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-7(6)
Roland Garros: Mikhail Youzhny 3-6, 6-7(5), 4-6
s-Hertogenbosch: Mate Pavic 4-6, 6-7(2)
Wimbledon: Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(3), 5-7
Kitzbuhel: Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-2
Davis Cup: Stanislas Wawrinka 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(4)
Bangkok: Hiroki Moriya 6-2, 6-7(6), 3-6
Zagreb: Jurgen Melzer 6-7(2), 3-6
Miami: David Goffin 6-7(4), 6-3, 1-6
Casablanca: Kenny De Schepper 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-3
Barcelona: Pablo Carreno Busta 1-6, 6-2, 6-7(5)
Madrid: Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-2
Madrid: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-7(5), 6-7(2)
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