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(4)David Ferrer d. (WC)Michael Llodra 7-5, 6-3 [1:50 h]
It would have been completely different match if Llodra had converted 1 of 10 break points in the 1st set (2, 5, 1, 1, 1 respectively in Ferrer’s first five service games!). Both guys fit to a “veteran” category, but Ferrer is a veteran only by his huge experience, he still runs across the court like a teenager. Llodra is known as a front-runner so when he lost his serve for the first time this week in the 12th game (Ferrer’s backhand return winner on set point), his chances decreased rapidly. As it happens often, after snapping such a long streak, a player loses his serve a few times short afterwards, so did Llodra – he was broken twice at the beginning of the 2nd set. Loud chanting “Mi-ka! Mi-ka!” gave him a second wind, and he cut the deficit from 0:4* to 3:5* (30-all). Ferrer is astonishingly solid though, and maximal concentration helped him to win another two points awarding a berth in the final. No doubts 30-year-old Spaniard enjoys the best season of his career, now he has added first big final indoors to his rich collection of beautiful results. “I feel good. I am very happy because I am in the final,” Ferrer said. “Tomorrow, it’s going to be a very difficult match because my opponent, he’s playing very, very good.”
(q)Jerzy Janowicz d. Gilles Simon 6-4, 7-5 [1:29 h]
Janowicz adjusted himself to a big arena beating Murray and Tipsarevic, but facing Simon was a bit new territory for him, because the Pole was a crowd favorite in previous matches as an underdog, this time he had to deal with a local pupil. Fortunately the Parisian crowd was very fair throughout, there was a cheering after Janowicz’s 1st serve misses, nevertheless spectators awarded with ovation his spectacular points as well. There was one break of serve in each set: to ’15’ on both cases, at 2-all in the 1st and 5-all in the 2nd set. Simon only once got ‘deuce’ on Janowicz’s serve, at the beginning of the 2nd set. The Frenchman couldn’t do anything on serves of his opponent (astonishing 88% 1st serve in, with a 212 km/h average speed in the 1st set!), but he began to read JJ’s awesome dropshots pretty well in the 2nd set, regardless of that, Janowicz made a dropshot to break Simon in the 11th game (followed up with an exchange of characteristic glares with his Finnish coach Kim Tiilikainen), and played two more dropshots on match points, the second one was crucial. Janowicz is a cool customer between the points, however, his post-match reactions are extremely emotional – this time he showed tears of joy as he stood up from initial celebrating on knees with head covered by hands. ‘The Pole vaulter’ becomes the 9th qualifier to reach a final of ‘Masters 1000’ events # “This is what I saw from his game on the previous matches, and I was not surprised with how he played against me today. He is very difficult to return. Normally I’m supposed to be one of the best returners on the tour, and I was not able to do that today.” said Simon. Stats of the match
# Qualifiers in Masters 1000 finals:
1991 – Alberto Mancini (Rome)
1996 – Robert Carretero (Hamburg) – won!
2000 – Harel Levy (Toronto)
2001 – Albert Portas (Hamburg) – won!
2001 – Max Mirnyi (Stuttgart)
2004 – Radek Stepanek (Paris)
2005 – Richard Gasquet (Hamburg)
2007 – Guillermo Canas (Miami)
2012 – Jerzy Janowicz (Paris)
It might have been a great day for the Frenchmen. There were three French guys in quarterfinals and each of them had a reasonable chance to move through to the last 4, however, “only” two of them fulfilled expectations; because they are placed in different halves of the draw, at least one French finalist is still uncertain. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga disappointed severely local fans, he was clearly outplayed by David Ferrer 2-6 5-7 producing two shocking volley errors in the final game as he was broken to ’30’. Tsonga is very weak this year when it comes to meetings with the Top 10 players, he has just won 1 out of 12 those matches. Volleys weren’t any problem for Michael Llodra who was attacking the net constantly after 1st and 2nd serves to notch a 7-6 6-3 win over Sam Querrey. The American had break points only in the 7th game of the 2nd set (five in total). One of the best French players in recent years, 27-year-old Gilles Simon  had a bad record (4-6) in Paris prior to this week. Now everything is changed, Simon has advanced to semifinals not dropping a set. In first quarterfinal he faced Tomas Berdych, whom had beaten in 4 of 6 previous encounters. Simon was exceptionally good in defense, retrieving many difficult balls and forcing the Czech player to committing errors. Berdych led 4:1* in the 2nd set, but Simon, strongly supported by Parisian crowd broke twice in a row, and erased a 0/40 hole in the final game serving much more harder than throughout the match. “I’m happy to play well here this year, because when I was young I grew up nearby and I came to see this tournament. It’s a very special tournament to me,” said Simon after his 6-4 6-4 victory. “I always wanted to do well here. Until today, I always played awfully bad when I came here, so I’m trying to enjoy this year in Paris.” A Jerzy Janowicz‘s fairytale continues. He played dimly first three games against Janko Tipsarevic, it looked like the 21-year-old Pole didn’t have anything left in the tank a day after his sensational win over Murray. Janowicz possess an amazing serve though, which allowed him to get a couple of games. He broke Tipsarevic to lead 3:1 in the 2nd set and the momentum shifted in his favor. The two following long games (4 & 5 deuces) were a highlight of this year’s tournament: excellent shot-making and Janowicz feeling the energy of the crowd took them both. It pumped him up tremendously, the Serb seeing bombs landing on his side simply melted, and as Janowicz fired two big aces (220 km/h) in the 6th game, ‘Tipsy’ decided to retire losing 6-3 1-6 1-4 (0/40). He retires more often than any other player, it’s his 7th retirement in the last two years!
Jerzy Janowicz knew that he needed something special to have any chance against Andy Murray. The Polish qualifier applied enormous service effort and overusing of drop-shots – in the end this tactics made him happy. He led 5:4* (30/0) in the 1st set having served 9 aces, which meant in five service games he already equaled his ace-record this week! Murray escaped with a bunch of big serves and everything indicated he got the match under his control winning 10 of the next 13 games… 5:3 in the 2nd set, a moment later 5:4 (30/0) on serve, and Shanghai’s deja vu haunted him – exactly at the same scoreline Djokovic being down against Murray, played his best point of the match then, magically turning things around; Janowicz did the same – he won quite a long rally with a sublime BH dropshot. Two points later Murray had a match point but sent a forehand long. At 1-all in the 3rd set, Janowicz played probably a game of his life mixing up winners of all sorts to break the Scot after two ‘deuces’. In no time at all he won the following three games. Was Murray thinking: [Djokovic and Federer are already focused on London, so what’s the point to fight here for a win if I face a tough retriever tomorrow (Monaco/Tipsarevic). Maybe it doesn’t make sense to be tired before London?] ?? Janowicz serving to win the match was tense for the first time, but his powerful serve (22 aces in total) + a couple of dropshots helped a lot to calm down. He saved three break points and converted second match point with a forehand down the line, the biggest win of career he celebrated like winning a major, rolling on the floor: 5-7 7-6 6-2 in 2 hours 25 minutes! “This was the most unbelievable day in my life,” said Janowicz. “I beat the Olympic champion, US Open champion. Unbelievable feeling for me. Still, I have the feeling that in a few minutes I’m going to wake up and it will all be gone. No matter what happened today, I have to do my job tomorrow.” It’s a significant moment of the last 24-month period because it means no “Big 4” player will win a big tournament for the first time since Paris 2010!
32-year-old “wild card” Michael Llodra  and five years younger Tomas Berdych  are playing their 200th tournament at the main level this week, both successfully. The Czech despite a slow start (0:5) quite convincingly ousted an “excessively focused” Kevin Anderson 1-6 6-3 6-4 (their third meeting this year, second in Paris – Berdych won all); in turn the indoor-specialist Llodra used all his trickery to snap Juan Martin del Potro‘s 11-match winning streak. Llodra stunned the Argentine 6-4 6-3 not being taken even once to ‘deuce’ on serve (their fourth meeting this year, Llodra’s first win). “Coming here I knew I was playing well,” said Llodra. “But now, thinking I would be able to beat Isner and del Potro, I wasn’t sure. It’s true that the conditions are getting faster, so I served very well today.” There were two emotional matches between the London contenders: Janko Tipsarevic outsmarted Juan Monaco in a baseline duel 6-3 3-6 6-3 on Court No. 1, a few hours later in a no-break encounter on Centre Court, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was pretty hopeless on return games, but explicitly better in tie-breaks (7/4, 7/3) than Nicolas Almagro. Tsonga beating the Spaniard for the sixth time on sixth occasion, secured himself a spot in London simultaneously awarding Tipsarevic, because Almagro was the last man left who could surpass the Serb. Earlier in the day, a theoretical London contender (must have won the whole thing) Milos Raonic played poorly and lost 3-6 6-7 to Sam Querrey. A little consolation for the Canadian – he recorded his 1000th ace of the season, it’s something only five ‘servebots’ have accomplished in history within a season (Pete Sampras, Goran Ivanisevic, Andy Roddick, Ivo Karlovic & John Isner).
Defending champion Roger Federer after losing in his hometown Basel to Juan Martin del Potro, didn’t catch an optimistic mood and withdrew from the last 1000 event of the year to rest and prepare for the ATP World Tour Finals in London the following week: “It’s just too much. I was trying to make up my mind and I had some niggles I didn’t want to take a chance on. I feel very disappointed as I had one of the best weeks of my life there last year, but this is just a last-minute decision.” Federer was replaced by Victor Hanescu, who spent most of the season participating in Challengers, so in some sense he automatically reached his 2012 peak in the consequence of Federer’s withdrawal (the Romanian didn’t pass second round six times this year in smaller ATP events). Federer’s decision means he won’t tie Pete Sampras‘ record of six years finished at the top (1993-98), and Novak Djokovic has secured No. 1 at the end of the season second straight year. Perhaps this new pleasant awareness was the main reason of a weird Djokovic’s match on Wednesday afternoon. The totally relaxed Serb was breaking one of the best servers (Sam Querrey) time and time again, but the streak was finally stopped at 6-0 2:0 for him. “It was a little embarrassing. I walked over to where Casey, my physio/chiropractor sits with my girlfriend and Casey’s wife, and I said, ‘I hope I can get two games in this set.’” Said the American, who broke back in the following game, and still relaxed Djokovic couldn’t focus to deal with better adjusted opponent, actually he looked like someone who doesn’t care too much. At 5-all in the tie-break he produced a casual backhand error which cost him the set. At 2-all in the 3rd set he was broken after two ‘deuces’, and didn’t show signs of his tremendous fighting spirit until the end. Querrey was striking 1st serve with impressive speed (everything around 220 km/h, especially as he faced 5 break points in the 8th game) to produce a huge upset: 0-6 7-6 6-4. It’s tough to say whether Djokovic had some physical problems or he simply wanted to leave Paris as soon as possible to prepare himself for London, these quer(r)ies will be solved next week.
Ivan Dodig had defeated two top 20 players (Philipp Kohlschreiber & Marin Cilic) after identical scoreline (6-2 7-6) last week in Valencia; this week in Paris the pattern was repeated with almost exactly the same outcome by Jerzy Janowicz . The young Pole, who scraped through qualifying rounds, ousted Kohlschreiber 7-6 6-4, and Cilic 7-6 6-2 coming back from behind in both tie-breaks (2:4 & 1:3 respectively). Janowicz didn’t face a break point in four consecutive matches in Paris thanks to outstanding service performance. He doesn’t serve ace after ace (7, 9, 9, 9 respectively in those matches), but his serve ensures him plenty of service winners and weak returns, which allows generating the pace with powerful forehands. It’s the best result for a Polish player in Masters 1000 events, a just dethroned best Polish player of the last few years, Lukasz Kubot, lost four times in the second round at this level. Beside Cilic, also Richard Gasquet has definitely lost a chance to play in London. The Frenchman was ousted by Kevin Anderson , whom had beaten in their three previous meetings, every time in straight sets. In one of the most entertaining openers, Paul-Henri Mathieu came back from a *1:4 (15/40) deficit in the 2nd set against Roberto Bautista Agut, and serving at 5:4 was involved in an extraordinary game # which lasted exactly 27 minutes 19 seconds: 13th ‘deuce’ of that game was witnessed after a rally when both players fell on the court (Mathieu won the point with a dive-drop-volley), 14th ‘deuce’ when the Spaniard played a moon-lob that the ball hit a very high ceiling of the Paris-Bercy Centre Court! Bautista fought so furiously that his left shoe was trashed and shoes must have been changed when he leveled at 5 games all. Mathieu, known many years for his choking abilities, this year came back after a long injury with a different mentality though, he held his nerve perfectly winning the following two games quite easily, and the match in 2 hours 18 minutes.
# The longest games of the Open era:
28 minutes: Alberto Berasategui d. Marcelo Filippini 6-2, 6-3 (Casablanca ’96)
Berasategui breaks Filippini on 7th break point and leads 2:1 in the 2nd set
(20 deuces, 46 points; Filippini had 14 game points)
28 minutes: Ivan Lendl d. Joakim Nystrom 2-6, 6-1, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 (Roland Garros ’87)
Nystrom breaks Lendl on 7th break point at 3:5 in the 3rd set
(15 deuces, 36 points; Lendl had 9 set points)
27 minutes: Paul-Henri Mathieu d. Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 7-5 (Paris ’12)
Bautista breaks Mathieu on 12th break point at 4:5 in the 2nd set
(15 deuces, 36 points; Mathieu had 6 match points)
24 minutes: Andy Murray d. Igor Kunitsyn 6-2, 6-3 (Dubai ’10)
Murray breaks Kunitsyn on 9th break point at 2:0 in the 1st set
(14 deuces, 34 points; Kunitsyn had 6 game points)
1995, it was a year of amazing dominance of three players: Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Thomas Muster. When the Australian Open ’96 kicked off, it seemed almost impossible that the trophy would lift someone else than one of these three guys, however, Sampras faced an opponent who played a match of his life, Agassi and Muster suffered slight leg injuries in Australia (off and on court) which eventually led to their failures, and none representative of the Big 3 managed to advance to the final. Boris Becker was a man taking advantage of it – the German came to Melbourne not having won a Grand Slam title in 5 years, he had not even won a match at the Australian Open since 1993. In the first two rounds he barely escaped defeats to relatively unknown young guys at the time (Greg Rusedski & Thomas Johansson), but survived in 5-setters, and since then delivered the most comprehensive tennis of his career to the very end. Read more…
Next major (Wimbledon ’88) will be added after the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
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Six of seven contenders for the last spot in London disappointed this week, only Richard Gasquet thanks to reaching semifinal increased his chances. Admittedly Jo-Wilfried Tsonga isn’t confirmed officially yet, but his point-advantage over the next player in the ranking … Continue reading
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As early as Ferrero  notched a rookie season (1999, the time of Sampras/Agassi’s decline), they said this slim Spaniard with blond-dyed hair would be a new world number 1. He showed signs of being someone special in the first … Continue reading
Improbable finalists featured twenty years of Roland Garros: after Wilander, Pernfors, Chang, Berasategui and Kuerten, Martin Verkerk was a man who stunned everyone during the fortnight. Similarly to Pernfors and Berasategui, the long-necked Dutchman couldn’t do anything in the final though, where he met Juan Carlos Ferrero – a player who was preparing himself for that triumph four straight editions. Defending champion Albert Costa enrolled his name to record books spending on court in first five rounds more time (18 hours 32 minutes) than anyone before and after. Read more…
It’s an entry No. 328 here, plenty of information is already contained in voodemar.com on 33 pages, therefore I’ve added a plugin at the bottom of the homepage (in the footer) which allows to jump between the pages. I think it’s a great tool which backs up other helpers like menu’s *Seasons*, and search engines of my sidebar – “search” button, Archives & Categories. Due to new plugin I’ve changed the number of posts per page from 20 to 10.
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Russian tennis has been in crisis in the last couple of years. The best Russians drop in the ATP ranking, the best players in the world aren’t interested in playing in Russia due to different reasons. It was especially visible … Continue reading