Davis Cup – play-offs

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A tie between Australia and Switzerland required playing one game on Monday to conclude a Hewitt-Wawrinka rubber, which was suspended due to darkness at 5:3 for the Swiss in the 5th set. After the resumption, Lleyton Hewitt [199] led in … Continue reading

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37th WEEK – Davis Cup (SF)

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Belgrade (indoor-hard): Serbia – Argentina 2:3 As I expected on Monday, a 3-day rest couldn’t be long enough for Djokovic to recover after an extremely difficult finish of the US Open. It’s tough to blame him or the team captain Bogdan Obradovic for … Continue reading

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Juniors – new page

Oliver Golding (b. 29/09/1993) won this year’s US Open. Will he join the US Open ’04 junior champion Andy Murray as the second strong player from the Great Britain? It’s tough to tell because the list of junior Grand Slam champions is full of names which don’t tell a lot casual tennis fans. Here you can check them out – it’s a new page on my blog. “I’ve seen him around a couple of times and we wished each other luck,” said Golding being asked about his contacts with Murray, “Unfortunately he came up short here but I’m sure he’ll get a Grand Slam title soon.”
Golding’s road to the title:
1 Brett Clark               6-3, 6-4
2 Ben Wagland          7-5, 6-3
3 Bjorn Fratangelo   7-5, 3-6, 6-3
Q Filip Horansky       5-7, 6-4, 6-1
S George Morgan       6-0, 7-6(2)
W Jiri Vesley              5-7, 6-3, 6-4
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US Open – Day 15 (final)

                             (1)Novak Djokovic d. (2)Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-1       [4:10 h]

It was a rematch of the last year’s final, a clash of tennis titans: a 10-time Grand Slam champion (and the title defender in New York) vs. a 3-time Grand Slam champion and contender to join a narrow elite of the biggest champions in the Open era. Definitely the two best players of this season, fighting in their own league, with a prospect of creating the most impressive “head to head” in the modern history of tennis! Expectations were high and the final fulfilled them, it was probably one of the most exciting 4-setters in major finals in the Open era!
The scoreline of the first two sets doesn’t say the whole story: Nadal in both sets led *2:0 (3rd game of the 2nd set he lost after 16 minutes, squandering 3 game points) and the quality of baseline rallies was astonishing. Nadal was playing really well, but D’Joke seemed to have all the answers. I saw their last year’s final also yesterday to compare what has been changed within the last 12 months; the crucial difference is connected to their comfort zones during majority of rallies. Last year, it was Djokovic who was running 2-3 meters behind the baseline whilst Nadal on the line, this year it’s been changed, Nadal is forced to work harder than ever competing with the Serb, he must cover bigger areas on the court, but what an amazing fighter that “Spanish bull” is… He came back three times from a break down in the 3rd set, the second half of that set was exceptional. Djokovic began to have some problems with fast moving, but escaped from a *4:5 (15-30) deficit, and two games later was serving for the title. At ’15 all’ Nadal won arguably the most amazing point of the final with a backhand down the line winner. Nole got the next point quickly, but his extreme defense in the third point of the game took its toll – Nadal notched 9 out of the next 12 points and the 3rd set tie-break (another amazing rally won by him with a backhand DTL winner at *5:3). Before the 4th set Djokovic needed a treatment to the lower part of his back, visible problems of the final stages of the previous set increased, and Nadal’s fans could believe in his 5-set triumph. Although the Spaniard won two entertaining points at the net in the 1st game of the 4th set, Djokovic prevailed after two ‘deuces” and physical problems caught Nadal too. The last six games of the tournament were completely different than the rest of the match. There weren’t long rallies, the much more cleaner hitter Djokovic began producing winners from both sides, and Nadal couldn’t response. At *5:1 (30 all) Djokovic obtained the last two points with winners directly after Nadal’s returns and fell on his back to celebrate the fourth major title. It’s a milestone for him – he becomes just the sixth player in the Open era to win three majors within a season # Three less important things, but statistically interesting – before Djokovic, only four players won the US Open being one point away from defeat ##; Nadal is beaten for the first time in a more than 4-hour match (won all nine previous marathons!) and he has lost six times to Djokovic this year without a single revenge, in the Open era there had been only two cases with a 6-0 H2H within a year before (J.McEnroe vs. Connors in 1984 & Federer vs. Hewitt in 2004).

Upon being announced as the 24th different US Open champion, Djokovic asked about beating Fed & Rafa in back-to-back major matches, said, “It really sounds unreal; it’s an incredible feeling. I had an amazing year and it keeps going. Every time I play Rafa it’s a big challenge. I want to congratulate him on a great tournament again. I wish that we will have many more tough matches in the upcoming years. It’s an absolute pleasure to be a part of the very few players that have won this trophy throughout history.” The defeated Nadal admitted: “Obviously I’m disappointed. This guy is doing unbelievable things, so I just want to congratulate Novak. What he did this year is probably impossible to repeat. I tried my best in every moment”. I wonder whether they’re able to recover after the epic final in the next few days, they’re supposed to play on Friday in Europe in the Davis Cup semifinals (Serbia vs. Argentina & Spain vs. France) :) Djokovic played longer than 3-hour matches also in the quarter- and semi-finals! He’s at the new peak of his tennis life at the moment, but never before had to work so hard to win a tennis tournament (it’s his 28th title)! I guess his body needs now two weeks of relaxation, not three days… Stats of the final

Doubles final:
(9)J.Melzer/P.Petzschner d. (6)M.Fyrstenberg/M.Matkowski 6-2, 6-2

# Players to win three majors within a season:
1969: Rod Laver (Grand Slam)
1974: Jimmy Connors (Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open)
1988: Mats Wilander (Australian Open, Roland Garros, US Open)
2004, 06-07: Roger Federer (Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open)
2010: Rafael Nadal (Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open)
2011: Novak Djokovic (Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open)
# US Open champions saving match point(s):
1975: Manuel Orantes, saved 5 m.p. against Guillermo Vilas (semifinal)
1989: Boris Becker, saved 2 m.p. against Derrick Rostagno (second round)
1996: Pete Sampras, saved 1 m.p. against Alex Corretja (quarterfinal)
2003: Andy Roddick, saved 1 m.p. against David Nalbandian (semifinal)
2011: Novak Djokovic, saved 2 m.p. against Roger Federer (semifinal)
Djokovic’s 5 other wins over Nadal in 2011:
Indian Wells
Miami
Madrid
Rome
Wimbledon
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Stats: Djokovic, Federer, Murray, Nadal – legendary rivalries

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This year’s US Open semi-finals were consisted of players making historical “head to heads” at majors, not only in the current era, but in the entire Open era as well. The Djokovic-Federer pair becomes the first one in the Open … Continue reading

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US Open – Day 13 (SF)

1st semifinal:
(1)Novak Djokovic d. (3)Roger Federer 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5                  [3:51 h]

The match was delayed more than hour due to rain. There were no breaks of serve in the 1st set, either player was unable to get ‘deuce’ on opponent’s serve. In the tie-break Federer led 5:2 after D’Joke’s double fault, but served a double fault as well. The Serb saved a triple set point in impressive style, then the 4th set point, but at ‘7 all’ Federer deceived the rival with a tricky semi-lob during the rally – Djokovic was unprepared to play a backhand slice on a high bounce. It was their 11th tie-break and the longest one. Federer increased the level of play in the 2nd set, in the previous set he was concentrated mainly on his own service games, in the 2nd set stepped up and Djokovic (wore a cap in the meantime) lost his service games twice (3rd and 7th game; broke back at 3:3). The 3rd set was actually decided in the initial phase, the Serb made a break in the 2nd game and held his service games to get the set rather comfortably. It was a time when Djokovic loosened up himself and his more solid ground-strokes began to overwhelm Federer’s baseline game more and more prone to make errors. Especially the Serbian backhand was working tremendously well, and two breaks in the 4th set gave him leveling at two sets apiece, albeit he needed six set points to do it. The final set was exceptional… Nothing special in the first seven games, at 3:4 the serving Djokovic plays the worst game in the match (first point Federer’s winner, then two pathetic errors and double fault by Nole).  Federer serves at 30-15, frustrated Djokovic throws away his cap, a moment later 5:3 (40-15) means two match points, quite good serve and Djokovic plays the best return in the entire match – cross-court forehand winner! He smiles and tries to make a contact with the crowd with his hands. Again first serve in, on the body, Djokovic blocks with a double-handed backhand and Federer’s forehand hits the tape, then lands outside the sideline, four points later Djokovic ribreaks! Next game, D’Joke holds to ’30’, fantastic ground-strokes in the following game, D’Joke breaks to ’15’ with two consecutive forehand winners. Federer can’t deal with the dramatic turn around, a couple easy mistakes of him produce another game to ’15’ for the Serb! Absolutely amazing, unprecedented stuff – second year in a row Djokovic beats Federer saving a double match point on the same court (!!) – last year he fought off those match points with forehand winners, after 11- and 5-stroke rallies. “It was a very similar situation to last year,” acknowledged Djokovic. “I had to take my chances. I was very close to being on my way back home. He was serving. He was 40/15 up. I managed to hit that amazing forehand return which got me back. I got a little bit of energy from the crowd, and I fought back. I needed to stay positive, and I definitely didn’t want the French Open to happen again. It was an incredible last two games“. Federer said: “It’s awkward having to explain this loss because I feel like I should be doing the other press conference. But it’s what it is. It’s the obvious, really. He came back; he played well. I didn’t play so well at the very end. Sure, it’s disappointing, but I have only myself to blame. I set it all up perfect, but I couldn’t finish it“.
The former and current Nos. 1 made their own trademark today, it was their fifth consecutive match in New York (all encounters at Arthur Ashe Stadium), there hadn’t been a pair before to play in a major more than four matches in a row #.

# The record – five consecutive Federer-Djokovic meetings at the US Open:
2007, F: Federer d. Djokovic       7-6(4), 7-6(2), 6-4
2008, SF: Federer d. Djokovic     6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2
2009, SF: Federer d. Djokovic     7-6(3), 7-5, 7-5
2010, SF: Djokovic d. Federer     5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5                     2 m.p.
2011, SF: Djokovic d. Federer     6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5               2 m.p.
# 5-set barometer: 18-16 Federer; 13-5 Djokovic

2nd semifinal:
(2)Rafael Nadal d. (4)Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2                 [3:24 h]

Well, Nadal is a much more worse match-up for Murray than both Federer and Djokovic #. Against ‘Fedjok’ Murray can count on some unforced errors, he is excellent in defense, so playing especially against Federer he has always a few chances to pass the Swiss obtaining important points. In a confrontation with Nadal, Murray is forced to adapt a more challenging style because the pace of the match is completely different, Murray needs to dictate the pace against a defensive and more efficient player like Nadal. Against the vast majority of players, the Brit is a sovereign at 10-12 stroke-rallies, it doesn’t work against Rafa, for whom it’s a kind of warm-up rally, he quite often plays rallies consisted of 20 strokes and more!  It was their fourth meeting this year (all in the semi-finals) and every time the same scenario was realized – longer sets in terms of the match-time than the scoreline would suggest with Nadal as a winner without a special threat of being beaten. “For sure it’s an emotional day for me, winning against one of the best players in the world and reaching another final at the US Open,” assessed Nadal, “I have to play my game. I’ve beaten him in the past playing my game. The thing is playing my game very well. I need to be strong mentally all the time, fight every ball, believe in the victory in every moment. That’s something that for moments this year I didn’t do.” “If you want to judge someone’s whole career based on Grand Slams, then I would have had a terrible career. But I don’t really feel like I have,” said “the eternal No. 4” Murray, who became just the seventh player in the Open era to reach semi-finals at all slams within a season (Djokovic achieved this feat also in New York, one day before). Stats of the match

# Murray’s H2H’s against the Top 3:
– Novak Djokovic 4-6
– Rafael Nadal 4-13
– Roger Federer 8-6
## Top 4 seeded players in semi-finals at the US Open:
1969: 1 – Laver, 2 – Newcombe, 3 – Roche, 4 – Ashe
1982: 1 – J.McEnroe, 2 – Connors, 3 – Lendl, 4 – Vilas
1985: 1 – J.McEnroe, 2 – Lendl, 3 – Wilander, 4 – Connors
1992: 1 – Courier, 2 – Edberg, 3 – Sampras, 4 – Chang
2011: 1 – Djokovic, 2 – Nadal, 3 – Federer, 4 – Murray
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US Open – Day 11 + 12 (QF)

1st quarterfinal:
(1)Novak Djokovic d. (20)Janko Tipsarevic 7-6(2), 6-7(3), 6-0, 3-0 ret.      [3:27 h]

It was a match of two Belgrade boys, good friends, composed of two completely different parts. The level of play in the first two sets was astonishing, Janko Tipsarevic was playing much more above his standards, especially in the 2nd set when he notched 83% of 1st serve in, delivering regularly bombs racing 200 kph (125 mph)!! Djokovic was forced to make miracles in a deep defense with his trademarking slides. Tipsy was serving at 6:5 (30-30) in the 1st set, having erased a 2:5 deficit before, but it doesn’t obviously mean he would have led two-sets-to-love if he had won that set… The breathtaking quality disappeared in the 3rd set as the lights were switched on. The lower ranked Serb didn’t stand his own tremendous pace, the legs couldn’t work anymore like in the first two hours. There was a moment in the 1st game of the 4th set when appeared a chance for equaling of strength on both sides. It happened as D’Joke won an amazing rally, celebrated it powered by adrenaline, but fell down in pain and asked for a medical time-out. He received a treatment to his big toe (left foot) and came back playing with normal movement. Tipsarevic after producing a poor backhand at *0:3 (15-30), decided to retire in order to avoid a double bagel.

# Here are the players who played the most Grand Slam tournaments before reaching their first quarter-final (copied from atptourworld.com):
54 – Fabrice Santoro (Australian Open, 2006)
38 – Mark Woodforde (Australian Open, 1996)
34 – Todd Woodbridge (Wimbledon, 1997)
32 – Jurgen Melzer (Roland Garros, 2010) & Jason Stoltenberg (Wimbledon, 1996)
31 – Janko Tipsarevic (US Open, 2011)

2nd quarterfinal:
(3)Roger Federer d. (11)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-3, 6-3     [1:55 h]

Great expectations preceded this match because Tsonga had beaten Federer twice in the last three months, in entertaining matches at Wimbledon and Montreal. Unfortunately this time their encounter was one-sided from start to finish. Federer was reading Tsonga’s serves like an open book, especially from his backhand side, and broke the Frenchman six times (lost his serve twice). Actually, the five-time champion was better in each department of the game. Just like in Melbourne, Federer advances to the semi-finals in New York eighth straight time, tying Ivan Lendl‘s achievement (the other US Open legend – Jimmy Connors, played semifinals in New York 12 years in a row)! Two additional notes: I’ve never seen Tsonga winning so many points with one-handed backhand; the match was interrupted by light rain at *3:2 (0-15) Federer, for around 90 minutes.

# The most consecutive appearances in Grand Slam quarter-finals:
30 – Roger Federer (2004-11)
27 – Jimmy Connors (1973-83)
13 – Ivan Lendl (1985-89)
12 – Bjorn Borg (1978-81)
11 – Pete Sampras (1991-94)

3rd quarterfinal:
(4)Andy Murray d. (28)John Isner 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2)             [3:24 h]

“All-service players” are a great match-up for Murray. The Brit has a perfect record against Ivo Karlovic (3-0), Feliciano Lopez (6-0), Gilles Muller (1-0) and John Isner (2-0). In his service games, he exposes decisively their frailty on the baseline, moreover his patience and extraordinary skills in the defense, allows him to break them at least once per set, if a tie-break is required, no problem for Murray, he knows how to play them (88-59 career record… 60%), even against a tie-break specialist like Isner. The American had a little chance to get the 4th set as he obtained a double break point at 4:4 – Murray saved it quickly with an ace and an awkward backhand winner directly after the return (it was an approach shot but Isner didn’t run thinking about the challenge, but it was too late to question the second serve as a long one). In the tie-break Isner served at 1:1 a silly double fault (didn’t try to hit an ace; 5 d.f. in total) and Murray built immediately a safe 4:1 advantage. He advances to the fourth straight Grand Slam semifinal, snapping a career-best 9-match winning streak of Isner.

4th quarterfinal:
(2)Rafael Nadal d. (21)Andy Roddick  6-2, 6-1, 6-3                  [1:53 h]

Humiliation of the 2003 champion… Roddick is too weak this season to play against Rafa from the baseline on even terms, so he was attacking the net quite often, but his approach shots were poor and Nadal’s passing-shots looked like a formality. A-Rod had a break point only in one game, in fact it was 40-0 for him in the opening game of the 3rd set, he had also the fourth chance to break in that game. Quick match with Roddick is a positive news for Nadal’s fans in a perspective of tomorrow’s meeting with Murray; the Brit spent 5 hours 21 minutes on court in the last two days, Nadal “only” 4 hours. It may be a decisive factor in their match, which will probably extend to 3 hours at least, given the pace of their previous matches in 2011… I’m a bit disappointed that the best four players in the world have a huge advantage over the rest of the tennis elite. This year’s majors confirm it explicitly, only two other guys advanced to the last 4, neither of them was able to get the final # “It was evident pretty early that he was in full control of things,” said Roddick. “I think he has a tendency to play himself into tournaments, and then by the end he’s taking cuts. I feel like today he was doing that. I had zero reserves. I didn’t have any time to train this summer, so I played a four setter yesterday; I felt like I played six sets.”

# Participants of the major semi-finals in 2011:
Australian Open: Djokovic, Federer, Murray, Ferrer
Roland Garros: Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, Murray
Wimbledon: Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Tsonga
US Open: Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, Murray
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US Open – Day 11 (4R)

In a match of two US Open champions, Gilles Muller (junior champion 2001) had a great opportunity to clinch the 1st set against Rafael Nadal (the defending champion). Muller thanks to a lucky beginning yesterday, needed to hold just three service games to take the set. He was broken though in the 7th game with a sloppy play. In a potential tie-break against Nadal, Muller is rather useless because on the 2nd serve his chance to win a point drops drastically (today won only 33% points on 2nd serve). During the last Wimbledon, Muller was eager after losing the 1st set tie-break (6-7, 6-7, 0-6), this time after losing the tie-break, he surrendered quickly (6-7, 1-6, 2-6). Nadal takes on Andy Roddick [21] next. The best American player of the previous decade, eliminated David Ferrer 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 on Court No. 13 (only 584 seats). The match started yesterday at Louis Armstrong Stadium (it had been designated at Arthur Ashe Stadium two days ago), but today after playing two games, both players agreed that the surface around one of baselines had been damaged by two-day heavy rain, and the match was shifted onto other court! For Roddick it’s arguably the best result of the season.
Andy Murray avenged a sensational loss to Donald Young at Indian Wells earlier this year, beating him in two hours, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 on Grandstand. “It’s not just losing the way I lost. I felt I didn’t put my best foot forward and play the way I’ve been playing the whole time. But it’s been a good tournament.” analyzed Young his best performance in a major. John Isner once again showed great confidence in tie-breaks, won all three he played against Gilles Simon on Court No. 17 to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal. The Frenchman was close to win 2 out of 3 losing sets, served at 6:5 in the 1st set, squandered two set points at 5:4* in the 4th set. The match lasted 3 hours 39 minutes, Isner hit 26 aces. It’s the seventh 4-setter in the US Open history with three tie-breaks won by one player:

1985, 1R: Todd Nelson d. Mark Dickson                7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(3)
1991, 3R: Derrick Rostagno d. Jakob Hlasek       6-7(2), 7-6(3), 7-6(2), 7-6(4)
1999, QF: Cedric Pioline d. Gustavo Kuerten     4-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(14), 7-6(8)
2001, 2R: Marat Safin d. Ivan Ljubicic               7-6(5), 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(5)
2001, QF: Pete Sampras d. Andre Agassi            6-7(7), 7-6(2), 7-6(2), 7-6(5)
2003, 2R: Ivo Karlovic d. Hicham Arazi            3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 7-6(6)
2011, 4R: John Isner d. Gilles Simon                    7-6(2), 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(4)
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US Open – Day 10 (4R)

Another frustrating day at Flushing Meadows… Matches were delayed 90 minutes due to rain. The players entered three different courts in front of rather empty stadiums only to play a couple games when a drizzle forced them to walk off. More than fours hours later, the officials decided of postponing the matches to Thursday! The biggest problems with these inconvenient conditions had Rafael Nadal, who delivered two double faults in his opening service game and was broken to ‘love’! “We are not protected, we are only part of the show,” complained Nadal on the slippery court on which he spent about fifteen minutes on Wednesday.
In the picture a disorientated David Ferrer

Arthur Ashe Stadium: Gilles Muller vs. Rafael Nadal 3:0* (0-15)
Louis Armstrong Stadium: Andy Roddick vs. David Ferrer *3:1
Grandstand: Donald Young vs. Andy Murray 2:1*
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US Open – Day 9 (4R)

No play due to bad weather (heavy rain). All four matches in the bottom half of the draw have been shifted from Tuesday to Wednesday. Three matches were supposed to play at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Simon and Isner were scheduled to play at Louis Armstrong Stadium. Three out of four matches in the last 16, have been rescheduled onto other courts, only a match between Nadal and Muller has been kept at the main arena.

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