Eltingh/Haarhuis for the first time since 1998

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Jacco Eltingh finished his career prematurely, but in an impressive style – serving an ace in the final of the year ending doubles Masters (Hartford) in 1998. He was 28 then, his long-time doubles partner Paul Haarhuis finished his career … Continue reading

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5th WEEK

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It was an interesting tennis week because two players won their #maiden titles, and the third one was only two points away to join them… 26-year-old Ivan Dodig [84] debuted on the main level relatively late because in 2008, so winning … Continue reading

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Lapentti’s retirement

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34-year-old Nicolas Lapentti a few weeks ago, on January 18th decided to retire from professional tennis but he hadn’t been active since 24th May 2010 when he was beaten by Taylor Dent in the first round at the Roland Garros. … Continue reading

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Ivanisevic’s cameo

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39-year-old Goran Ivanisevic won a final in London last year (seniors Champions Tour) and decided that’s fit enough to play once again in a professional event, albeit only in doubles, in Zagreb (the tournament he won twice in singles in … Continue reading

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Australian Open – Day 14 (final)

(3)Novak Djokovic d. (5)Andy Murray        6-4, 6-2, 6-3            (2:39 h)

British people still wait for a big triumph in prestigious disciplines (football & tennis) which originate from the United Kingdom. Murray didn’t fulfill dreams again to become the first British player since Fred Perry (1936) to win a Grand Slam tournament. The final was very equal until the fourth point of the 10th game. Djokovic gave everything then, leading 5:4 (30-15); Murray did the same, and after a 39-stroke rally of dynamic shots with impressive stretching from both sides, Djokovic obtained a double set point. Sometimes just one point in seemingly irrelevant moment of a match decides the final outcome, and it was that case… Djokovic won the next point, took the set and thirty minutes later had a set point to win the 2nd set 6-0! Murray finally ended a 7-game drought but lost the set anyway. The Brit made the same mistake as Nadal in his quarterfinal against Ferrer, despite being outplayed from the baseline in the first two sets (Djokovic was amazing even in Murray’s department – successful moon-lobs from very difficult positions), still was playing from the back of the court in the 3rd set (in the entire match had not win a point thanks to a volley!). He broke Djokovic twice in the set (to lead 1:0 and at 1:3), but in the last three games, it was Djokovic who took the initiative and converted his first match point after Murray’s forehand unforced error that hit the tape. The Serb wins his 19th title, including the second major – joins a group of eight players who won two Grand Slam tournaments (Sergi Bruguera, Lleyton Hewitt, Yevgeny djokovic_ao11Kafelnikov, Johan Kriek, Ilie Nastase, Patrick Rafter, Marat Safin & Stan Smith). Murray on the other hand joins Tony Roche – these two players have lost the most major finals (three) without having won once (the Open era, Roche is a pre-Open era champion). Djokovic said: “Maybe there was a turning point in the whole match, that 5:4 game. I was a bit fortunate, I kind of anticipated well and read his intentions and played some great shots and great moments. It is a big advantage mentally when you are a set up and you are getting to the second set and really going for the shots.” Murray stated: “It was better than it was last year,” despite winning fewer games than in the 2010 final, “I thought Novak played unbelievably well. It’s tough, but you have to deal with it. You always have to try to find a way, to believe. When I got ahead in some games, even in just points, he was sticking up lobs that were landing on the baseline, passing shots that were on the line. I broke his serve twice in the third set and still lost 6-3.” Stats of the final

Doubles final:
(1)Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan d. (3)Mahesh Bhupathi/Leander Paes 6-3, 6-4

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The biggest “head to heads” at majors

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Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic met on tennis court in a professional match for the 20th time two days ago. The Swiss leads in their H2H confrontation 13-7, but only 4-3 at majors. With 7 matches played against each other, … Continue reading

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Australian Open – Day 11 + 12 (SF)

1st semifinal:
(3)Novak Djokovic d. (2)Roger Federer 7-6(3), 7-5, 6-4        [3:00 h]

Djokovic began the match in unusual style, serving two double faults in a row in the 1st game which gave Federer a break point – saved by the Serb after a long rally. Since then, both players were winning service games comfortably until the tie-break, where Federer (second player behind Pete Sampras who has won the most tie-breaks in tennis history) was surprisingly tense, I don’t know, maybe the fact he had unusually long period (20 sets) without a tie-break was crucial – Djokovic won it easily. The 2nd set was different, early break for Djokovic, then Federer wins four games in a row and after a return winner leads 5:2* (15/0) – Djokovic gets the momentum and wins five straight games and the set being two points away from losing it at *4:5 (30-all). In the 3rd set Djokovic again breaks to lead 2:1, this time holds his serve in the next few games. Federer levels up from 2:4 to *4:4 but loses the 9th game with poor shot selection and despite saving a double match point in the following game, has to walk off the court as a loser – his first defeat after 15-match winning streak. Federer won one game less from set to set, but paradoxically, the time of each set was increasing (57, 61, 62). I guess it’s interesting that they’ve played the third semifinal of a major against each other with a similar scoreline. Here are the scorelines of those matches and their duration:

Australian Open, 2008: Djokovic d. Federer 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(5)… 2:26 h
US Open, 2009: Federer d. Djokovic 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-5… 2:34 h
Australian Open, 2011: Djokovic d. Federer 7-6(3), 7-5, 6-4… 3:00 h

2nd semifinal:
(5)Andy Murray d. (7)David Ferrer 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-1, 7-6(2)                [3:46 h]

The end of the 1st set was excellent – Murray led 4:3 with a break of serve but Ferrer managed to win three straight games, in which both players showed their best tennis. Ferrer responded with a break thanks to two great points played at the net to level at four games apiece, and won the next game saving a double break point (ace & service winner). There was close that the 2nd set would be a copy of the first one. The first break for Murray, then a ri-break for Ferrer and the Spaniard has a set point at 5:4… Murray saves it with a service winner – after the match he tells Jim Courier, he thought it was 3:4 not 4:5! Saving the set point was vital – Murray in the middle of the 2nd set had changed his tactics attacking the net more often, but after the set point in the 10th game, he was more convincing from the back of the court than his opponent, and winning the 3rd set easily, he led 2:0* (30/0) in the 4th set. An ambitious and pertinacious Ferrer saved a break point in that game and just like in the sets No. 2 and 3, he broke back Murray immediately. For the second time, the tie-break was required, and for the second time, Ferrer could not do too much in it. It’s amazing that “Pics” has lost his last 11 tie-breaks in Melbourne! He won out there only one tie-break – the first he played in 2004 against Gilles Muller. “I think toward the end of the second set I started going for my shots more. I was missing a lot earlier,” Murray said. “I changed my string tension and managed to come through. I changed my tactics … played closer to the baseline, waiting for my shots a bit more.”

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Australian Open – Day 9 + 10 (QF)

1st quarterfinal:
(2)Roger Federer d. (19)Stanislas Wawrinka 6-1, 6-3, 6-3   (1:47 h)

After impressive wins over Gael Monfils and Andy Roddick on Rod Laver Arena, Wawrinka disappointed totally on the same court playing against his compatriot Federer in the first all-Swiss quarterfinal at a major in the Open era. Perhaps Wawrinka was affected by the sun, because his two previous matches had played in night session and the average speed of his 1st serve had been distinctively higher (200 kph with Roddick, 16 kph slower with Federer). The only moment of the match when the final outcome was open, occurred in the middle of the 2nd set as Wawrinka had a break point leading 3:2, Federer won seven straight games since then… “I think it was a good match for me really. I started off well. Was able to serve and return really well… I expected him during today[‘s match] to even serve bigger because the ball travels faster through the air. For some reason I was able to return him well.” says Federer, who was playing in his record-tying 27th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal! Wawrinka’s first loss this year after 9 consecutive wins.

2nd quarterfinal:
(3)Novak Djokovic d. (6)Tomas Berdych  6-1, 7-6(5), 6-1   (2:32 h)

It was an equal match (played indoors) with high level of play from both sides only in the 2nd set. Berdych was very tense at the beginning of the encounter, he was missing a lot especially from his forehand side. In the 2nd set he had his opportunities to level at one set apiece but every time at the most important stages (4:1*, 30-all; 5:4* 30/15 & 5:5* in the tie-break), Djokovic was more patient and able to force his rival to make a mistake. After very long, 78-minute set, Berdych couldn’t regroup and lost the 3rd set as quick as the 1st set (less than 40 minutes). “Pretty much I can be disappointed with the second set,” says Berdych. “I took over a little bit and was playing well, aggressive enough, and somehow he starts to make at least a couple of mistakes that give me a chance to have a break”.

3rd quarterfinal:
(5)Andy Murray d. Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-5, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3   (3:06 h)

Dolgopolov was behind his opponent all the time, but left better aesthetic impression leaving the court… Murray began the match like the previous ones – in an impressive style – led 4:1* (deuce) but the Ukrainian managed to erase one break of serve and was close to get the tie-break after saving a couple set points – finally Murray hit the line with his backhand return. In the 3rd set Murray led 3:1, then had three mini-match points – Dolgopolov saved them all with very good serves and risky play. The set cost Dolgopolov too much energy and experienced Brit jumped quickly into a *4:0 lead in the 4th set. Dolgopolov caught up a bit but there was too late to dream about the third consecutive 5-setter. “It was very tough, every point was different, he hits, just different,” says Murray. “He came back at me well in the third set, but I did well in the end. I had to go for my shots a little bit more, I was a little bit tentative in the tiebreak, so went for my shots a bit more and that settled me down. It was a tough match, and a good one to get through.

4th quarterfinal:
(7)David Ferrer d. (1)Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-2, 6-3   (2:23 h)

Generally speaking this year’s tournament was extremely predictable until the last quarterfinal. Nadal who was aiming to become the first winner of four consecutive majors since Rod Laver in 1969, had on the other side of the net his long-time rival, friend and compatriot – David “Pics” Ferrer, whom had beaten in the previous seven encounters, and each time without any serious troubles. The beginning of the match was crazy, in the 2nd game they both played their best tennis and Ferrer took an early break after 8 ‘deuces’, he lost his serve immediately but everyone would expect that this time Nadal is facing a tough test. And then, happened something strange, Nadal disappeared from the court and came back a few minutes later screwed up. He took a medical-time twice in the set but a grimace on his face didn’t change to the end. The older Spaniard was controlling all longer rallies and finished the match with a winning forehand after two and a half hour of play, ending Nadal’s streak of 25 successive matches won in Grand Slam tournaments. “In general, I had a virus. When you have a virus, your body goes down and you have more risk of everything,” he explained. “That’s probably what happened. That’s the simple thing.” Here is a list of the longest Grand Slam streaks (matches won in a row) in the Open era:

29 – Rod Laver (1969-1970)
27 – Roger Federer – twice: (2005-2006) & (2006-2007)
25 – Jimmy Connors (1974-1975), Pete Sampras (1993-1994) & Rafael Nadal (2010-2011)
* In all cases, the players won at least three consecutive majors (Laver won 4).
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Australian Open – Day 7 + 8 (4R)

So called “sweet sixteen” turned around into a “bitter sixteen”. That was pretty obvious that Nadal would beat Cilic and Federer would outplay Robredo without any problems, but we could expect much more from Verdasco, Almagro, Roddick and Melzer in their matches against respectively: Berdych, Djokovic, Wawrinka and Andy Murray. Unfortunately the 4th round didn’t deliver any drama and emotions: five straight set wins, two short 4-setters and one 5-setter, also a short one – a sensation of the tournament, Alexandr Dolgopolov survived the second consecutive match in a short 5-setter, after beating Tsonga (2:19 h), needed only 2 hours 36 minutes of mixing slices and top-spins to eliminate Soderling, who always play poor tennis at the Australian Open, this year advanced to the 4th round for the first time. Definitely the biggest success in his career, Dolgopolov accepted calmly; does he think a Grand Slam quarterfinal is not a peak of his abilities? Seemingly, his next match against Murray looks like the easiest one to predict – last year’s finalist Murray has been in a terrific form – in his first four matches has not lost more than three games in a  set! Murray comments after destroying Melzer: “The matches are definitely going to get tougher. I’m not expecting to go through the tournament winning matches like that, with that score line. So I’m ready for that mentally when it does get tough. Where there has been tight moments, like today it was right at the beginning of the match, went up a break, got broken straight back, I managed to break him in the next game“.

Longest match:
2 hours, 36 minutes: Alexandr Dolgopolov d. Robin Soderling 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2
Most aces:
24 – Stanislas Wawrinka, defeated in three sets  Andy Roddick
5-set barometer:
7-9 Robin Soderling
3-1 Alexandr Dolgopolov
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Australian Open – Day 5 + 6 (3R)

Alexandr Dolgopolov [46] stands out not only by his feminine haircut but also by very hard, unorthodox forehand. “Dolgo” isn’t very young  – 22, but he is a new face on the main tour, two years ago (2008) finished the season at the No. 309, in the last season played his first three majors and improved his ranking position considerably (moved from No. 131 to 48). Today has achieved the best career result destroying Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [13] in the last two sets of their five-setter (just 44 minutes) – for Tsonga, who was affected a bit by right hip injury,  it’s the first 5-set loss (he beat in five sets Dolgopolov during the last Wimbledon). The Ukrainian says: “For sure it’s probably the biggest match I’ve won for now. This year I got a lot stronger physically. I worked out consistently in the preparation for the year, so I’m feeling a lot better. Feeling good, feeling solid, so I can really get my game up with the level because I don’t need to do, like stupid shots, you know, miss a lot.”
John Isner [20] has inscribed himself to all record books winning a titanic ’70-68′ set in the last Wimbledon, but today wasn’t so resistant playing against Marin Cilic [15]. The Croat, known as a weak tie-break player, managed to win the 4th set tie-break though, after Isner’s two consecutive double faults, and held his serve without troubles in the 5th set. Isner, who was all the time behind, at 7:8 saved a match point and had a point to level at 8 games apiece, but Cilic played very good volley and a moment later converted his second match point after Isner’s forehand mis-hit. Cilic has improved his perfect record in 5-setters in Melbourne to 4-0. 

Longest match:
4 hours, 33 minutes: Marin Cilic d. John Isner 4-6, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 9-7
Most aces:
32 – Andy Roddick, defeated in four sets Robin Haase
5-set barometer:
10-6 Marin Cilic
5-1 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
3-3 John Isner
2-1 Alexandr Dolgopolov…            Interesting article on “Dog”
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