Paris – Day 2 (1R/2R)

Ten first round encounters were played on Monday, another six on Tuesday. The last year’s semifinalist Michael Llodra upset the home crowd wasting five set points (including a triple s.p. in the tie-break) against Feliciano Lopez. The Spaniard won 7-6(7), 6-3 to set up a clash with the fellow Frenchman, last year’s finalist Gael Monfils. The last week champion in Valencia (Marcel Granollers) and finalist in Basel (Kei Nishikori) bothered with slight injuries and lost their matches quickly in contrary to Juan Monaco, who also played five matches last week.
In a match opening the second round, the former champion Tomas Berdych moved one step closer to London with a convincing 6-3, 7-5 win over Fernando Verdasco and improved their H2H to 9-4. The Czech should have won easier but lost his concentration leading *5:2 (30-0) in the 2nd set and needed six match points to seal the victory. Berdych might not qualify for London only if Tsonga and Fish advanced at least to quarter-finals and one of three other contenders won the event… very unlikely occurrence. Besides Berdych, second round matches on Tuesday won Roddick, Tsonga (50th win of the season) and Gasquet, who finished his match with Anderson 20 minutes before midnight.

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Paris – Day 1 (1R)

Perhaps it’s my favorite ‘Masters 100’ event because of its specific structure. It’s the only tournament of the series with the 48-draw. It means there aren’t accidental players in the main draw, it’s the most selective ‘Masters 1000’ event with strong field already in qualifying tournament, relatively easy to follow because all matches are played only on two courts. It’s a special tournament for me because 21 years ago it was the first such a big tournament I witnessed.
It was a good day for the Parisian crowd, “wild cards” Julien Benneteau [54], Adrian Mannarino [92] and qualifier Nicolas Mahut [95], all won their matches in good style. Benneteau couldn’t break a powerful Milos Raonic‘s serve through two sets (Raonic fired 22 in total), but held his service games comfortably throughout the match and converted a break point in the first game in which he had the opportunity (at 2:2 in the 3rd set) to win 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 playing three successful dropshots in the last game. Later on, Mahut and Mannarino dismissed their opponents, especially Mahut’s easy win over Juan Carlos Ferrero was surprising – 6-2, 6-3 despite Ferrer* had a break advantage in both sets. Mahut finished the match with 3 consecutive aces (10 in total). In the most interesting match on court No. 1, Andreas Seppi [46] ousted Nikolay Davydenko in two tight sets, the former champion squandered a set point in the 1st set and a mini-set point in the 2nd set, producing two double faults in the last game. Davydenko who played in quarter-finals last year and the final in Doha at the start of this season, will probably drop outside Top 50 in January 2012 for the first time since 2004.

Actually everything is clear in the context of getting the last three spots for ‘Masters’ in London: these three spots are almost guaranteed for Berdych, Fish & Tsonga. The scenario is simple: Almagro & Tipsarevic must get the final to have a chance, the local favorites Simon and Monfils must win the title to have a chance. The strongest contender Del Potro (he needed to advance to the final to have a chance) pulled out due to injury he suffered last week. Del Potro: “My shoulder started bothering me in Valencia and it got worse after each round.” Among the Top 20 guys, earlier withdrew also Robin Soderling (hasn’t played a match since July) and Rafael Nadal, who never won the title in Paris and wants to prepare himself to ‘Masters’ and Davis Cup final.

Seven players to fight for the last three spots:
6. Tomas Berdych – 2,940
7. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – 2,935
8. Mardy Fish – 2,875
9. Nicolas Almagro – 2,370
10. Juan Martin del Potro – 2,315 (withdrew)
11. Janko Tipsarevic – 2,305
12. Gilles Simon – 2,155
13. Robin Soderling – 2,120 (withdrew)
14. Gael Monfils – 1,925
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44th WEEK

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The 37th edition of the Swiss Indoors was featured by change of color of the court, from maroon to blue, and one of the biggest surprises of the season as Kei Nishikori stunned Novak Djokovic 2-6, 7-6, 6-0 in the … Continue reading

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2011: descriptive summary

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Only 11 days left to the end of the regular season, thus I thought it’s a time to begin a recap of the year 2011 I want to do this in three parts, today “descriptive summary”, after Paris I will … Continue reading

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Muster’s second retirement

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Thomas Muster [1,078], the former No. 1 in the world, for the second time finished his career last week in Vienna. The 44-year-old Austrian retired for the first time at Roland Garros in 1999, where he achieved his biggest success getting the … Continue reading

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43rd WEEK

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [8] has found his best tennis in the second part of the season in Great Britain on grass. Afterwards he experienced very good American tour (outdoors), and has confirmed his ‘Masters’ aspirations collecting two consecutive titles which he … Continue reading

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42nd WEEK

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It’s the last stage of the battle for London. Two players, who collected titles this week, Gael Monfils [10] in Stockholm, and Janko Tipsarevic [14] in Moscow, increased their chances to qualify for the season-ending championships. Monfils, who captured his … Continue reading

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Troicki survives an epic (Moscow)

Viktor Troicki [16], known for his choking abilities, won today in Moscow as the defending champion, arguably the most dramatic match in his career. The Serb rallied from a *0:4 deficit in the 3rd set against the Moscow-born Alex Bogomolov Jr. [47] to win all tie-break match (Troicki saved a set point in the 1st set tie-break). The match lasted 3 hours 38 minutes, which is the second longest “the best of three” match of the season #, and the eighth all tie-break match in 2011 (only two matches of this kind were played last year).
# Four longest “best of 3” matches in 2011:
3 hrs. 41 min. Carlos Berlocq d. Blaz Kavcic 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 (Umag)
3 hrs. 38 min. Viktor Troicki d. Alex Bogomolov Jr. 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 (Moscow)
3 hrs. 38 min. Rafael Nadal d. Fernando Verdasco 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 (Cinacinnati)
3 hrs. 32 min. Juan Monaco d. Carlos Berlocq 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 (Bastad)
* Troicki played the longest “best of three” match last year as he lost 5-7, 7-6, 6-7 to Stanislas Wawrinka after 3 hours 25 minutes in Belgrade.
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End of Mannarino’s odd streak

I had already mentioned Mannarino’s winning streak of long tie-breaks during the last Wimbledon. The Frenchman didn’t play a tie-break with at least two changes of end since then until today – he was beaten by Ivan Dodig 6-7(5), 6-7(6) in the first round in Stockholm. Mannarino led 3:0 and 6:5* in the 2nd tie-break, but Dodig managed to escape with a help of solid service performance (19 aces). It’s Mannarino’s first tie-break defeat with at least fourteen points played since September ’08 when he lost to P.H.Mathieu 6-7(8), 6-7(1) in the Metz semi-final #. After that, he won 15 consecutive tie-breaks (on different levels) with at least two changes of ends!
# At least 14-point tie-breaks of Mannarino between September 2008 & October 2011:
<<< 9-7, 8-6, 12-10, 8-6, 8-6, 8-6, 8-6, 8-6, 9-7, 8-6, 11-9, 9-7, 9-7, 16-14, 9-7 >>>
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Shanghai – final

(2)Andy Murray d. (3)David Ferrer               7-5, 6-4        [1:45 h]

Ferrer in his fourth big final, for the fourth time couldn’t even win a set. He led 5:4 in the 1st set, but Murray held his serve to ’15’ and broke in the following game winning four points in a row from 0/30 (four consecutive errors by ‘Pics’). In the 2nd set Murray early on established his supremacy (breaks in the first three games) and finished the match from 15/30 with two service winners and forehand winner on the line directly after a good 1st serve. “It’s been one of the best runs of my life,” said Murray. “I’ve played very, very well the last few weeks. I was very nervous today because I wanted to win here and defend my title. I’m very happy to come through. Ferrer’s one of the toughest players on the tour and one of the best people; it’s a pleasure to share the court with him. I love playing here; it’s one of my favourite places to play.” Stats of the final
It’s a new peak for him – for the first time in career he has won three tournaments in a row, it means the longest winning streak (15; 19 including doubles) and advances to No. 3 in the world. Admittedly he was No. 2 once, but never finished a season higher than No. 4; with his current form a new highest ranking at the end of the year is very probable, especially that Federer rests and his amazing performance in his last three events (Basel, Paris, London) is doubtful. Murray has now won 21 titles, and repeated his feat from the previous three seasons, collecting two ‘Masters 1000’ shields within a year #. I hope to see the Djokovic-Murray clash in Paris or London – that match would be an answer to a question “Is Murray good enough to dethrone Djokovic next year?”.

Doubles final:
(2)M.Mirnyi/D.Nestor d. (3)M.Llodra/N.Zimonjic 3-6, 6-1, [12-10] – 2 m.p.

# Murray’s ‘Masters 1000’ triumphs year by year:
2008 – Cincinnati, Madrid
2009 – Miami, Montreal
2010 – Toronto, Shanghai
2011 – Cincinnati, Shanghai
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