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# In the picture Guillermo Vilas at the US Open 1977 and Rafael Nadal during the Monte Carlo final 2011 Rafael Nadal in 2006 overcame a record which belonged 29 years (!) to Guillermo Vilas of the most consecutive wins … Continue reading
(1)Rafael Nadal d. (4)David Ferrer 6-4, 7-5 (2:16 h)
Just like in years 2008 and 2010, Nadal clinches his first title of the season at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, establishing an Open era record of the most consecutive titles in one tournament – seven. Despite a defeat to Ferrer during the last Australian Open, Nadal was a huge favorite today, given his amazing streak in Monaco… There were three breaks of serve in the 1st set between the 3rd and 5th game of the match. Nadal leading 3:2 was forced to save a triple break point, also at 4:3 he had a tough game on serve (four deuces – the longest game of the match). In the following set he led 4:2, but ambitious and tenacious as always “Pics”, broke back and having a 5:4* (15-15) lead, missed an easy overhead, and lost the momentum immediately – Nadal got the next three games, albeit the last two games went to ‘deuce’. Nadal hadn’t won a title in his six previous tournaments, which were played in the last six months. It is his 44th career-title, including an ATP record of 19 ‘Masters’ titles, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer share the second position with 17 titles. En route to the Monte Carlo title, Nadal beat Ferrer in straight sets also in 2008 & 2010, today they met for the 16th time (the younger Spaniard leads 12-4). It’s Nadal’s third biggest rivalry, he has played more matches only against Novak Djokovic and Federer. The No. 1 in the world said after the final: “[To] win seven times in a row any where is almost impossible I think. But to win Monte Carlo, all the best players in the world are here, you always have tough matches, is impossible to imagine for me. So I am very lucky, I think.”
(1)Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan d. Juan Ignacio Chela/Bruno Soares 6-3, 6-2
List of players with the most consecutive titles in one tournament (the Open era):
7 – Rafael Nadal (Monte Carlo 2005-11)
6 – Guillermo Vilas (Buenos Aires 1973-78*)
5 – Bjorn Borg (Wimbledon 1976-80), Balazs Taroczy (Hilversum 1978-82), Yevgeny Kafelnikov (Moscow 1997-01), Roger Federer (Wimbledon 2003-07 & US Open 2004-08), Nadal (Barcelona 2005-09)
4 – Jimmy Connors (Birmingham 1974-77), Borg (Roland Garros 1978-81), Pete Sampras (Wimbledon 1997-00), Federer (Halle 2003-06), Nadal (Roland Garros 2005-08)
* Vilas won Buenos Aires twice in 1977
David “Pics” Ferrer  advanced to his second ‘Masters 1000’ final with a rather comfortable win over Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-2. “Pics” took a revenge on Melzer  for two Parisian defeats last year (Roland Garros & Paris-Bercy) in 78 minutes. The Austrian began the match promisingly with a 3:1* ‘deuce’ lead, but Ferrer won five straight games. Similar thing happened in the 2nd set, ‘2:1’ for Melzer and five straight games for Ferrer (Melzer had two break points in the final game, one of them “Pics” saved after a very long rally at the net). Ferrer reaches the final in impressive style, no-one won against him more than three games in a set! Ferrer: “I was thinking at the beginning of the first games, he played a really good game, was playing very aggressive. [It was] a surprise to me. Maybe the key was in my serve. I played very consistent. I didn’t make mistakes. I played very regular and very focused all the match
Rafael Nadal  has opened double-digit of wins # against Andy Murray , beating him in 2 hours 58 minutes 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 in the second, 20-minute delayed semifinal (Murray received injections to the sore right arm). It was a high quality tennis, especially in the 1st set, highlighted by a sequence of two very long games after a change of ends in the middle of the 2nd set which lasted 29 minutes in total (!) – Murray won both games to lead 4:1: the first one after 19 minutes 3 seconds (eight deuces, saving five break points), the second one after 10 minutes 18 seconds (four deuces, Nadal had three game points). Murray broke Nadal’s 32-set winning streak on clay… Stats of the match
# List of players beaten by Nadal at least 10 times (in paranthesis the exact H2H):
(16-9) Novak Djokovic
(15-8) Roger Federer
(11-4) David Ferrer
(11-0) Fernando Verdasco
(10-4) Andy Murray
(10-3) Thomas Berdych
…at the Challenger level. The 31-year-old American had won 23 consecutive Challenger matches in span of ten seasons (!), before lost tonight to fellow countryman Donald Young  1-6, 6-1, 3-6 in Tallahassee. Blake  had won a Challenger at the end of 2001 in Knoxville, the following year triumphed in his another Challenger (Waikoloa) and began to play regularly at the main level. In a consequence of many troubles (personal and physical) slipped considerably in the ATP ranking in 2005 and played two clay-court Challengers in the United States to rebuild his form, winning both (Tunica Resorts, Forest Hills). He hasn’t played any Challenger since then (almost six years), until this week.
David Ferrer  has been in impressive form. After crashing a big-serving Milos Raonic, Ferrer easily beat another hard-hitter Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-3. The match was balanced until 3:3 in the 1st set, since then Ferrer won 8 out of the next 9 games and was two points away to win the 2nd set 6-1. Troicki  finally managed to get two consecutive games though, but was broken to ‘love’ trying to serve to stay in the match for the second time. “Pics” now faces Jurgen Melzer  who stunned Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4 in very windy conditions. Melzer never lost his serve, breaking Federer twice: in the 5th game of the 1st and the 3rd game of the 2nd set. The former No. 1 had his chances to break back in both sets, especially at 3:4 in the 2nd set (Melzer held his serve after nine minutes). “He did well. I think he played aggressive, was able to mix it up. Obviously, I wasted way too many breakpoint chances today, which was unfortunate.” the Swiss commented. Melzer joins David Nalbandian, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Gilles Simon, Robin Soderling and Nikolay Davydenko as the seventh player to notch wins over the best three players (Nadal, Federer, Djokovic) of the last five years, making it within twelve months #.
Rafael Nadal  ran his clay-court winning streak to 25 matches, topping Ivan Ljubicic  6-1, 6-3. The Spaniard is only two wins away from establishing a record of the most consecutive titles obtained in one tournament. Nadal will meet tomorrow Andy Murray  in a repeat of the Monte Carlo semifinal 2009. The Scot easily outplayed a qualifier Frederico Gil 6-2, 6-1 in 71 minutes, for Gil it was the best event in career. The 26-year-old Portuguese before today’s defeat had won five matches in a row at Monte Carlo (two in qualifying tournament, three in the main draw), all of them in straight sets!
# Players who beat Nadal, Federer & Djokovic within 12 months:
Nalbandian – 2007 (1 tournament)
Roddick – 2008 (span of 3 tournaments)
Murray – 2008 (span of 4 tournaments)
Davydenko – 2009 (span of 5 tournaments)
Melzer – 2010-11 (span of 20 tournaments)
Simon – 2008 (span of 23 tournaments)
Soderling – 2009-10 (span of 24 tournaments)
26-year-old qualifier Frederico Gil  has achieved the biggest success in his career advancing to the quarter-finals of a ‘Masters 1000’ tournament. The Portugese won an extremely long 1st set against Gael Monfils (1 hour 27 minutes) and quickly broke his opponent twice at the beginning of the following set to get a 7-6(6), 6-2 victory, converting the first match point with a half-volley. Also Viktor Troicki advanced for the first time to a quarterfinal of such a big clay-court tournament. He has done it with the help of luck, his rival Tommy Robredo retired after winning the 1st set due to left adductor injury… Six years ago at Monte Carlo-Rolex Masters, in a scintillating battle of two teenagers, 18-year-old Richard Gasquet led 7-6, *2:1 (40-30) against his peer Rafael Nadal, and later had a break point at 3:3 in the 3rd set (Nadal won 6-7, 6-4, 6-3). Between that match and their today’s encounter, Nadal notched 28 consecutive wins in Monte Carlo, never being so close to defeat as in that semifinal in 2005. The Spaniard beat Gasquet today 6-2, 6-4 with a very convincing performance, which allows to expect his another Monte-Carlo title without dropping a set (he did that in years 2007-08 & 2010). “It was a good match,” assessed Gasquet, “But I have regrets about that game at 4-4 [in the second set]. I believe I played at the level of a Top 10 player, but he is one step above.” Andy Murray was booed six times during a 6-3, 6-3 win over Gilles Simon and refused the on-court interview. The Scot had the audience against himself every time he played a drop-shot to his injured opponent (the Frenchman had slightly twisted his right ankle on set point in the 1st set).
Rafael Nadal  began his quest for a record seventh straight Monte Carlo-Masters title with an easy win (2 & 2) over Jarkko Nieminen and improved to a 35-1 event record. Two out of the most probable Nadal’s opponents in the final, David Ferrer and Roger Federer dropped even less games in their opening matches, 2 and 3 respectively.
Gael Monfils  made a successful comeback to the tour after a left wrist injury which eliminated him from two Masters tournaments in the United States. The Frenchman beat 7-5, 6-2 Daniel Gimeno-Traver , the first set consisted of five breaks of serve. “I wasn’t impressed by my game, but it was nice playing on centre court, though a bit strange for a start,” said Monfils. In the longest second round clash (exactly 3 hours), Nicolas Almagro  improved his clay-court record this year to 15-1 after an unexpectedly tight battle with Maximo Gonzalez . Almagro saved a triple match point on serve at 4:5 in the 3rd set and saved another match point at 7:8* in the tie-break. The Spaniard survived a 6-7(6), 7-5, 7-6(10) scare, he has won 6 out of the last 7 matches in which was forced to play a deciding tie-break set and great outlook to advance to the Top 10 for the first time in career next Monday. Andy Murray  outplayed Radek Stepanek 6-1, 6-4 breaking the career-worst losing streak of 4 defeats (0-9 in sets). The youngest player in the main draw Milos Raonic  squandered a triple match point serving for the match against Ernests Gulbis , but kept his nerves and broke the Latvian to ‘love’ in the following game to win the match 6-4, 7-5, finishing the contest with an ace (his seventh). It is the first main tour event on clay and the first one in Europe for the 20-year-old Canadian, who is without a doubt the biggest revelation of the season.
The first out of three ‘Masters 1000’ tournaments on clay began without the hottest player on the tour Novak Djokovic. The Serb withdrew due to knee problems, but maybe it wasn’t the main reason. He is going to play in his home tournament in Belgrade and perhaps wants to win easily the title there to extend his winning streak before a hypothetical clash with Rafael Nadal in Madrid. During the absence of Djokovic, the Spaniard is actually a 100% favorite to get the title at Monte Carlo. Nadal won this tournament six consecutive years – which is an Open era record – last year outclassing all opponents. “Winning the tournament without losing a set was the turning point of the season,” Nadal said, “Very difficult thing to happen two years in a row. It’s very difficult to imagine something like this.”
The most interesting matches in the first round occurred on Court des Princes (the second biggest arena at Monte Carlo). Radek Stepanek  fell on the ground trying to chase the ball in the last point of the 11th game of the final set against Marcos Baghdatis . The Czech suffered a bleeding right hand but held his serve to get the final set tie-break in which trailed 0:3*, 1:4, 4:5, 5:6* & 6:7. He managed to fight off two match points and sealed a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(7) victory with a high forehand volley. 32-year-old Stepanek had never won such a long deciding set tie-break before… Jarkko Nieminen  led in the 3rd set of his match against Julien Benneteau  with a double break (4:1), was two points away from victory at 5:3 and 5:4, but found himself at *5:6 (15-40). He saved the first match point with an ace, the second with a baseline winner and another two match points at the net (forehand half-volley directly after the serve, forehand volley after a quite long rally). Nieminen won 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3), notching the 12th tour win saving at least one match point (#only four active players won more matches in these circumstances). Also Olivier Rochus won his match facing four match points (on return) against Juan Ignacio Chela – the longest first-round battle, 3 hours 5 minutes. The shortest player on the tour has won 10 battles being a match point down…
# Active players with the most match point-down wins:
15 – Juan Carlos Ferrero
14 – Ivo Karlovic
13 – Fernando Gonzalez
12 – Andy Roddick, Jarkko Nieminen
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It is the first week of the clay-court season which is going to the end in June (after the Roland Garros final). In the meantime, there won’t be any tournament on a different surface than clay. In Casablanca unexpectedly triumphed … Continue reading