Miami – quarterfinals
Thursday. All four previous matches between Mardy Fish and Juan Monaco had a dramatic conclusion. Monaco – celebrating his 28th birthday – has broken this pattern. He was playing a perfect match supported by loud Argentinian colony chanting “Ole, ole-ole-ole, Pico, Pico!“, didn’t miss anything from the baseline, dealt without problems with Fish’s serves, kept extremely high percentage of 1st serves in (96 % in the 1st set!). Fish was on a verge of disastrous outcome, but saved a break point trailing 0:2 in the 2nd set, and broke back, but Monaco got two more breaks finishing the contest in 1 hour 22 minutes (6-1, 6-3) with a stretch backhand drop-volley. “It was unbelievable,” said Monaco. “I think the way to celebrate my birthday, playing like this like I did today, [I] feel proud and very happy [to] be here on my birthday.” It’s the biggest success in his career, admittedly he was in a ‘1000’ semi-final once, in Shanghai 2010, but I’d consider it as a second league of ‘1000’ tournaments along with Monte Carlo. ‘Pico” has been in very good form since Valencia ’11, and I expect it’s going to be the best season in his career.
In the last match of the fourth round, David Ferrer overcame Juan Martin del Potro after bilaterally good performance despite losing just six games. The Spaniard two days later experienced similar match, but with a reverse outcome. He was playing his best tennis, but it wasn’t enough that day to beat Novak Djokovic. There were plenty of punishing rallies, one of them consisted of 41 strokes (each player run around 100 meters during it). Ferrer came back twice from a break down in the 2nd set, and was two points away from the decider at 6:5* (30 all), Djokovic saved more energy for the crucial stage though, winning 9 out of the next 10 points, securing himself another semifinal berth with a 6-2, 7-6(1) victory. This match showed what separates Djokovic and Del Potro – the net game. The Argentine goes forward too rarely, and makes too many easy errors at the net – it is something Djokovic does not.
Wednesday. Ivan Lendl appeared in Andy Murray‘s box for the first time since the epic Australian Open semifinal. “Ivan the Terrible” was unimpressed throughout the match in contrary to his pupil, who had a tough time during 15-20 minutes. The Scot had a game point leading 4:2 in the 1st set but started to moan in characteristic manner for himself, and lost six straight games (Janko Tipsarevic finished the set with two aces in a row). After the 1st game of the 2nd set he declared to a trainer struggling with stomach problems, allegedly he was afraid of vomiting every time he took a sip of water. He received a pill and the picture of the match changed drastically. Murray is an on-court thinker, he slowed down the pace allowing the opponent to make silly errors. Since 2:3* in the 2nd set, Murray won 7 out of the next 8 games, and focused on holding his serve to the end. After 2 hours 38 minutes he clinched a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory on his first match point. I thought today that Tipsarevic in terms of tennis skills is very similar type of player to a former Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson, but I don’t expect the Serb might win a ‘1000’ tournament at least as Johansson had done before he became one of the most unexpected major champions in the Open era.
The night session quarterfinal between Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was highly entertaining, however, through long part of the match it seemed that Nadal would be a straight set winner. Tsonga began the encounter awfully – lost his opening service game despite a 40-0 lead. He was spreading backhand errors, couldn’t find his rhythm at the net and Nadal broke him two more times soon. Tsonga had nothing to lose and feeling the energy of the crowd managed to win five straight games from 3:5 in the 2nd set (!), he even had a break point in the early stage of the decider, Nadal didn’t surrender though, and got the final three games to win 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 just under 3 hours before the midnight. In the last game Tsonga had a break point twice, on the second occasion broke the string in his racquet trying to play an offensive forehand return…
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