Shanghai – SF

Two days in a row, David Ferrer prevailed almost identical battles against big-servers. Just like yesterday against Andy Roddick, lost the 1st set against Feliciano Lopez today, despite an advantage in a crucial stage of a tie-break (yesterday 5:3*, today 5:4* – Lopez played awesome backhand passing-shot then). Both Roddick and Lopez, couldn’t take the momentum after the tie-breaks against the rock-solid “Pics”, who was outplaying them from the baseline throughout, he wasn’t broken once in those matches (6-7, 6-2, 7-6 over Roddick, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3 over Lopez), and what is more interesting, he was an equal opponent in the service department (11-11 in aces vs. Roddick, 11-12 vs. Lopez). “I know the record with him, but I tried to refocus on my game,” Ferrer said about his 1-6 record on hard-courts against the left-handed compatriot, “I had confidence with me, with my game. When I lost the first set, I tried to forget the tiebreak and I tried to focus again. I played better in the second and the third.” Ferrer will play his fourth big final tomorrow (he has lost two ‘Masters 1000’ finals to Nadal, and ‘Masters’ final to Federer, it happened also in Shanghai, four years ago).
In the second semifinal – as expected – Andy Murray dismissed Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-0 in just 56 minutes, winning the last eight games. The Scot has won 24 of his last 25 matches since mid-August, with the only loss coming to Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the US Open; there’s no doubt it’s the best season in career of the 24-year-old player from Dunblane.

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Shanghai – QF

At the age of 30, Feliciano Lopez [28] has a chance for the biggest achievement in his professional life. The Spaniard repeated his best ‘Masters’ performance in Shanghai, but this time managed to do this in impressive style – faced only 1 break point in the last two matches (Berdych, F.Mayer). Two years ago, Lopez retired against Nadal in the Shanghai semi-final at very uncomfortable scoreline (1-6, 0-3), this time he’ll play against the other Spaniard – David Ferrer, with whom leads 6-4 in their H2H. If Lopez wins this match, he will finish the season for the first time in the Top 20 #. The crowd favorite, Kei Nishikori [47] after three tight wins, without serious troubles defeated Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-3 – both guys fought for their first ‘Masters’ semi-final. “I feel like home here,” said Nishikori, “It means a lot to play semis here. I’m really excited now. I think I started well today. I knew he [was] going to hit a lot of slice and I have to be careful. I was trying to not go for too much, just try to [be] steady on the court, and that worked.” 21-year-old Nishikori will be the first Japanese to enter the Top 40 next week (the best player from Japan in the Open era – Shuzo Matsuoka – reached career-high No. 46 in 1992).

# Lopez’s ranking in the last 10 years: 2001 – 159; 2002 – 62; 2003 – 28, 2004 – 25; 2005 – 33; 2006 – 79; 2007 – 35; 2008 – 30; 2009 – 47; 2010 – 32.
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Shanghai – 3R

Juan Carlos Ferrero, who is mentioned on my blog in the “Match points” page as the biggest active specialist of winning matches from a match point down, lost today a third round encounter, squandering four match points (the most in his career #). He was four times one point away from beating his compatriot David Ferrer on return at 5:4 in the 2nd set. Ferrer has improved their H2H to 7-2 (three “tight” wins). “Pics” with this win has already qualified for ATP Tour World Finals in London for the third time.
Gilles Simon didn’t increase his chances to qualify for London as he was surprisingly beaten by Matthew Ebden 2-6, 6-2, 6-7(8). The Australian needed five match points in the final set tie-break to clinch the biggest victory of his life. It’s astonishing achievement for Ebden, who hasn’t even won a Challenger (the only final: Kyoto ’10). Florian Mayer [23] upset Rafael Nadal 7-6(5), 6-3 in 1 hour 47 minutes, notching the biggest scalp of his tennis life, it was their first meeting at the ATP Tour level. The German converted his first match point with a backhand passing-shot and caught his head in disbelief. He had never before defeated a player of this caliber (H2H’s: 0-1 Agassi & Djokovic, 0-3 Federer). “It’s a really nice feeling,” said Mayer. “He’s such a great competitor on court. For sure it is the biggest win in my career. I cannot actually believe it right now. But the tournament goes on tomorrow so I have to stay focused for the rest of the week“.

# Ferrero’s defeats after wasting a match point:
Estoril 2002, 2R: D.Nalbandian 6-4, 4-6, 6-7(4) – 3 m.p.
Sydney 2003, F: H.T.Lee 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-7(4) – 1 m.p.
Dubai 2005, 2R: R.Federer 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(6) – 2 m.p.
Palermo 2005, QF: T.Behrend 7-6(2), 6-7(4), 5-7 – 3 m.p.
Vienna 2006, 1R: J.Melzer 7-5, 6-7(5), 3-6 – 1 m.p.
Shanghai 2011, 3R: D.Ferrer 6-1, 5-7, 2-6 – 4 m.p.
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Shanghai – 2R

To be honest, nothing particularly interested happened in the second round. The top two seeded players move through to the next round quickly, Nadal dropped only five games against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Murray received a walkover from Dmitry Tursunov. Santiago Giraldo known for his choking abilities prevailed in a 3rd set tie-break against 3rd-set-TB specialist Jurgen Melzer. Giraldo was two points away from defeat when his backhand return clipped the line. In the following point he passed the Austrian (4-6, 6-4, 7-6) to advance to the 3rd round of a Masters ‘1000’ for the second time in career (previously he did it in Rome 2010). Earlier on, Giraldo held his serve at 1:3 in the 2nd set after 7 deuces. In a battle of qualifiers Matthew Ebden [124] stunned Ryan Harrison 6-4, 6-2. It’s the biggest success for the 24-year-old Australian. Nenad Zimonjic notched his 500th win in doubles, the Serb along with Llodra defeated the Italian duo Bolelli & Fognini.

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Shanghai – 1R

Two out of three biggest stars of the tour, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer pulled out of the competition this week. Djokovic due to injury, Federer is tired and looks forward to finish the season well (it means on the 3rd position ahead of Murray) playing in Basel, Paris & London. Other notable guys who withdrew: Soderling, Monfils, Del Potro & Gasquet.
I’m not a lover of this tournament. The draw is weaker only in Monte Carlo, the atmosphere is far from exciting, stands are rather empty, spectators temperated in showing emotions. Robin Haase has automatically qualified as the biggest choker of the week. The Dutchman led 6-0, *4:1 (30-15) against Kei Nishikori. At 5:4 he had a match point on serve and led 5:3* (30-15) in the 3rd set. Nishokori won 0-6, 7-5, 7-6. Also a third set tie-break was required in a duel between Milos Raonic and Michael Llodra, although Raonic led 5:2* (deuce) in the 3rd set. Raonic has a perfect record in the 3rd set tie-break matches: 5-0 (all matches this year).

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40th WEEK

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Before the Asian tour, Andy Murray [4] announced he would like to finish the season as No. 3 for the first time in career and he’s been confirming his aspirations winning back-to-back titles in Asia. In Tokyo he claimed his … Continue reading

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Mixed – new page

18-year-old Jack Sock of the United States and his one year older compatriot Melanie Oudin, won the last US Open in mixed doubles. I’ve added today the last page to my blog in 2011: mixed doubles.
I feel like I have been serving pretty well all week actually in mixed and even in singles, so I was very comfortable serving,” Sock said after claiming his first Grand Slam title in mixed doubles. “I feel like I have been playing pretty well playing mixed doubles. A lot of those things, like my serve and returning, is very important in singles,” Oudin said. “I will have a lot more confidence, I think, going into my next singles matches coming up.”
Sock/Oudin’s road to the title:
1 Polasek / Uhlirova 6-4, 0-6, [11-9]
2 B.Bryan / Huber  2-6, 6-3, [10-6]
Q Petzschner / Zahlavova 6-3, 7-6(3)
S Paes / Vesnina w/o
W Schwank / Dulko 7-6(4), 4-6, [10-8]
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39th WEEK

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This week two indoor Asian tournament began the Asian tour which will last three weeks. When Andy Murray [4] is seeded with No. 1 we can expect his triumph in a tournament. In Bangkok he needed four easy wins to … Continue reading

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38th WEEK

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [10] has been in very good shape since Queens Club, however, his self-confidence was spoiled a bit with two devastating defeats to Federer and Nadal in back-to-back matches. He came to his home country, interacted with the crowd … Continue reading

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Masters – new pages

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There are only seven weeks left to the end of the regular season. The best four players of the last four years have already secured their spots in the ATP season ending championships in London. Who will join them? I … Continue reading

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