It was another very interesting week – all title winners of the 6th week, advanced to the finals again! Two of them (Soderling & Almagro), clinched their second titles in the fortnight… Andy Roddick  captured his 30th career title in Memphis and has joined Federer as the second player to win at least one tournament in the last 11 years! His match concluding the tournament, against a sensational Milos Raonic , was one of the most dramatic indoor finals in the last couple of years. In the battle of huge servers (Raonic struck 32 aces, Roddick – 20), the eight-years older American fought off two set points in the first tie-break but squandered three match points in second second tie-break. The Canadian, who was forced to play the fifth consecutive three-set match (!), seemed out of gas in the decisive set, his average serve speed dropped from 140 mph to 125 mph. Roddick led 4:1* (40/15), Raonic managed to break back though, and saved another match point in the 10th game. In the 12th game, Roddick, on his fifth match point, played one of the most amazing championship points ever: Raonic hit a very good forehand volley from a difficult position, but Roddick responded with a forehand dive; it’s not only a matter of playing the ball – A-Rod did it in an extraordinary way (!), the stunned Raonic couldn’t do anything to get the flat passing-shot produced by his opponent. “That’s the best shot I’ve ever hit in my life, considering the circumstance” said Roddick. The runner-up during the week established a new record for the most aces served in a 32-draw tournament. Below a list of players to serve at least 100 aces in events of this type:
129 aces – Milos Raonic – ’11 Memphis (16, 38, 20, 23, 32)
122 aces – Goran Ivanisevic – ’97 Vienna (23, 19, 20, 24, 36)
109 aces – Martin Verkerk – ‘03 Milan (21, 23, 14, 21, 30)
109 aces – Mark Philippoussis – ’95 Kuala Lumpur (13, 44, 16, 18, 18)
108 aces – Goran Ivanisevic – ’97 Zagreb (40, 21, 10, 15, 22)
107 aces – Goran Ivanisevic – ’98 Split (17, 22, 31, 21, 16)
106 aces – Ivo Karlovic – ‘07 Stockholm (34, -, 30, 15, 27)
101 aces – Mark Philippoussis – ’01 Memphis (16, 19, 14, 26, 31)
101 aces – Ivo Karlovic – ’07 Nottingham (10, 30, 24, 16, 21)
Robin Soderling  came to Marseille as the main candidate for the title and didn’t disappoint. The only set he dropped the whole week, occurred in the final; the Swede was surprisingly tense in the tie-break against Marin Cilic , admittedly saved four set points but couldn’t get a set point for himself and lost the first tie-break after winning six in a row this year. Cilic broke back in the 2nd set (from 1:3 to 3:3) and led 30/0 on his serve, but Soderling converted a break point with an excellent forehand pass down the line, he jumped after that in delight… indeed it was a pivotal moment for the rest of the match – the Swede since then played his standard, powerful & accurate tennis and made a decisive break in the 3rd set leading 3:2. “It’s of course a very nice feeling,” says Soderling, “Winning three tournaments in four tries is something I’ve never been close to before. It’s the best possible start. I’ve won many matches and only lost one, unfortunately in the fourth round in Melbourne. It’s a great start and I really hope it can continue this way.” ‘The Toad’ has impressive record this year (17-1), counting from Paris ’10, where he clinched his first ‘Masters 1000″ title, has won 23 out of the last 26 matches!
31-year-old Juan Ignacio Chela  in his 11th attempt, finally reached the final in his hometown (Buenos Aires). Unfortunately for the local fans he lost in three sets to one of the best clay-court specialists, Nicolas Almagro , who earned his 200th win on the main level, 6 years older Chela, during the tournament overcame 300 wins. “It’s a very good feeling, I’m very happy after winning here and I hope it won’t just be nine titles in my career but a lot more,” said Almagro, about his 200 wins he added “It’s a very high number and I hope I can keep getting to higher numbers in my career.” The Spaniard loves the clay court period between Australian Open and Indian Wells – he gathered two titles in Costa do Sauipe, two in Acapulco and the first one in Buenos Aires, isn’t successful only in Chile (played twice in Vina del Mar in years 2005-06, but lost in the initial stages of the tournament) – “It’s great to play the Latin American swing every year. “I’ve always had great results. When I was younger I made some semi-finals and lately I’ve won a lot of titles. I hope I can keep getting more here“… Due to bad weather, all quarterfinals and semifinals were finished on Saturday (match between Chela and Montanes was halted on Friday at 3:3 in the 3rd set).
S: (1)Andy Roddick d. (WC)Milos Raonic 7-6(7), 6-7(11), 7-5
D: (1)M.Mirnyi/D.Nestor d. (4)E.Butorac/J.J.Rojer 6-2, 6-7(6), [10-3]
S: (1)Robin Soderling d. Marin Cilic 6-7(8), 6-3, 6-3
D: R.Haase/K.Skupski d. J.Benneteau/J.Tsonga 6-3, 6-7(4), [13-11] – 1 m.p.
Buenos Aires (250)
S: (1)Nicolas Almagro d. (8)Juan Ignacio Chela 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
D: O.Marach/L.Mayer d. F.Ferreiro/A.Sa 7-6(6), 6-3
Choker of the week:
Pablo Cuevas – in the second round in Buenos Aires after winning the 1st set against Jose Acasuso, led 5:3* (30-0) and lost 10 out of the next 11 games to lose the match 7-6(2), 5-7, 1-6.
* ‘The Toad’ has impressive record this year (17-1), counting from Paris ’10, where he clinched his first ‘Masters 1000″ title, has won 23 out of the last 26 matches!
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