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Murray’s “New Tactics” Should Include Tact After Dubai Comments.

Tournament officials angry at Andy Murray is turning into a trend for the Scot. Last week it was Marseille that wasn’t pleased with Murray’s pulling out of that event for basically not feeling up to it. Now Murray has earned the wrath of the Barclays Dubai event after admitting during his press conference after his second round loss to Janko Tipsarevic that he was trying “some things out” and that, quote, “If it had been a slam, my tactics and game style would have been a bit different.” Continue reading

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Soderling Holds His Nerve Against Djokovic.

Robin Soderling continued his confident run in the Barclays ATP World Tour finals by defeating Novak Djokovic. 7-6 (5), 6-1.

The first set showed both players battling nerves and less than stellar play despite some very long rallies. Soderling was able to get to 0-40 on Djokovic’s serve at 4-5 but Djokovic came up with big serves to hold on and win the game eventually forcing things to a tiebreak. But Soderling was the one who held his nerve, especially after missing a backhand volley early on but sticking another one for a winner at 4-4.

Djokovic looked flat throughout and often berated himself for no reason. The second set he quickly went down 0-40 at 1-1. After a super long rally at 15-40, Djokovic tried a lame drop shot that went into the net giving Soderling the break at 2-1. Soderling broke him again at 4-1 and then again at 5-1 to win the match.

With the win, Soderling qualifies for the semifinals of the event and will move up to No. 8 in the world. Djokovic will next have to battle Rafael Nadal in a must win match for both to qualify for the semis.

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Fed Struggles in London & Day 2 Predix.

For a moment it looked like the erratic play of Roger Federer late in the season would continue as he dropped the opening service game in his match against Fernando Verdasco at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Verdasco, who had never won a set against the world No. 1, finally did through steady play and solid serving to go up 6-4.

In the second set, Verdasco stayed right with Federer throughout. But Verdasco’s sloppy attempt at a smash overhead on the baseline that went awry gave Federer the opening he needed to take the second set 7-5.

After that it was all Federer as the wheels came off of Verdasco’s game while Federer’s forehand finally found its mark allowing Federer to seal the victory 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Tomorrow Rafael Nadal opens up against Robin Soderling while Novak Djokovic, the pre-tournament favorite, takes on Nikolay Davydenko. I actually like Soderling in the first match as recently Nadal has been very vulnerable indoors. Djokovic should win against Davydenko but will be interesting to see how much gas “Nole” has left after winning the last two events in a row.

By the way, kudos to the ATP for staging the ATP finale in London. The arena has been packed for each match and the play so far has lived up to the superstar billing. Hopefully this will finally allow the finals to be the “fifth slam” the ATP has dreamed of.

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Murray Wins ATP Finals Opener.

Andy Murray got off to a good start at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals by defeating long time rival Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

Murray jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first set before closing it out 6-3 and it looked like it would be a short day for the home crowd favorite. But Del Potro started to cut down his errors and got his big forehand going helping him to jump out to a 3-0 lead in the second.

Del Potro effectively used his forehand, especially crosscourt, to force Murray into deeper defensive positions. Del Potro sealed up the second set 6-3 with another crosscourt forehand and it looked like the big man was ready to take the match.

But Murray dug his heels in early in the third and broke Del Potro to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Murray’s first serve became his most lethal weapon as he did not drop a point when he hit a first serve in. Del Potro missed two forehands long and his chance to break back at 4-2 down and that was pretty much it as he dropped serve to lose the third set 2-6.

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Soderling on Standby for London.

According to the London Times yesterday, Andy Roddick was preparing to announce he was withdrawing from the Barclays ATP Finals in London due to his ongoing knee injury. The internet was abuzz with the rumor and waited for the news.

Well, we’re still waiting.

As of now, Roddick is still officially in the field although Robin Soderling and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are the official alternates should Roddick bow out.

At last year’s ATP finale in Shanghai, Roddick lost his first round match to Andy Murray then withdrew from his next match due to an ankle injury. If Roddick does withdraw prior to the finale start, he would at least give Soderling a chance to win the whole thing and avoid the injury plagued drama of that WTA season ending event in Doha where alternates Vera Zvonareva and Agnieska Radwankska were called up to play with no hope of winning the event.

Stay tuned.

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Davydenko’s “Matrix” Moves Him into Shanghai Final.

Nikolay Davydenko literally appeared to be in all corners of the court at the same time during his three hour shootout with Novak Djokovic in the Shanghai Open Masters semifinals. Eating up the quick pace of Djokovic’s shots allowed Davydenko to hit winners from varying angles causing one commentator to compare the Russian to the “matrix”.

Davydenko’s 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1) win puts him in the final against Rafael Nadal who won over Feliciano Lopez 6-1, 3-0 (retired). Lopez said he woke up that morning with a right foot infection and then twisted his ankle later on the match.

Nadal has now won two matches on retirement and should be the favorite since he has played less tennis than Davydenko. Yet the Russian has not been been beaten in the other three finals he’s been in and a win in Shanghai will put him good shape for qualifying for the ATP London finale later this year.

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Shangahi Masters Preview.

Since early round play in the ATP Shanghai Masters 1000 event has kicked off, I will do a very quick preview.

Obviously the main interest will be who will qualify next for London but I think whoever wins Shanghai will get a much needed boost into 2010.

Andy Roddick just needs to win a round or two to qualify for London but that won’t be easy. His first match will either be against Lukasz Kubot who took him out in Beijing or Stanislas Wawrinka who as we all know can beat anybody or lose to anybody depending on his mood. If Roddick survives that, he could potentially face either Fernando Gonzalez or Nikolay Davydenko in the quarters and I like Roddick against either of those guys.

Novak Djokovic in his section could face Tommy Haas early and then find himself up against Gilles Simon or Marin Cilic in the quarters. But Djokovic feeds off confidence and I see him getting through his section and facing Roddick in the semis where I actually like Djokovic in that one.

Fernando Verdasco and Gael Monfils must do well in Shanghai if they want to qualify for London. They are both in Nadal’s section and I like their chances of maybe getting through to the semis as Nadal still looks shaky to me.

On the bottom draw is Juan Marin Del Potro who could face off against Jo-Wilifred Tsonga in the quarters. Del Potro should be well rested after getting bounced first round in Tokyo. Tsonga needs another strong event but I can’t seem him winning two titles back to back.

So for the semis, I’m going with Roddick/Djokovic in one and Verdasco/Del Portro in the other potentially setting up a Djokovic/Del Porto final. But of course it’s the end of the year so maybe John Isner will use his new muay thai skills to blow everybody away.

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