With the Super Bowl dominating sports news this weekend, don’t forget about the tennis being played with some “off the radar” players coming through with big wins.
Fed Cup was the focus of the women this week. The U.S. team, led by Melanie Oudin, who won both her matches, easily won their tie against France 4-1. Considering this was played on red clay and in France, it’s quite an accomplishment and could bode well for Oudin with the clay court season just around the corner. Continue reading →
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Perhaps Ernests Gulbis wishes he had stayed home rather than take that wildcard into the Stockholm Open. Although he has yet to acknowledge or deny Sunday night’s events, his tennis career is still not going in the right direction as he endured a 6-2, 6-4 loss in the first round by eighth seed Feliciano Lopez. Other winners included Robin Soderling and Tommy Haas.
In Moscow at the Kremlin Cup, Marat Safin’s retirement party in his native country was extended thanks to his mild upset of top seed Nikolay Davydenko 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. I say “mild” as Davydenko admitted to being a bit tired after his extraordinary title run at Shanghai the week before. But Davydenko still looks in good shape to qualify for the ATP Barclays Final in London.
In other end of the year qualifying news, Agnieska Radwanska saw her chance to make it to Doha end when she lost to Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-3. The early exit means that it is now down to Jelena Jankovic and Vera Zvonareva to battle for the final spot as they are both still alive in the Kremlin Cup.
The continuing story on the two ATP players caught soliciting sex during the Stockholm Open gained more heat as the names of the supposed culprits were announced both by Italian media and of all places on former top 100 player Joachim Johansson’s personal blog.
Johansson, who is playing in the event this week, wrote “no comment” when asked the question “What do you think about what Gulbis did?”, referring to Ernests Gulbis who, at the moment, is considered one of the suspects. Previously his blog reportedly said something like “Gulbis admitted it”, though that was changed.
The name of the other suspected player is still up in the air and at this time, no official charges have been filed. If and when Gulbis will say something about the whole thing before his scheduled match against Feliciano Lopez remains to be seen.
Of course leave it to the Italians to poke fun at the whole thing. The English translation of their story’s headline says it all. – “Tennis Mischievous Red Lights In Stockholm”.
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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The quarterfinals of the Shanghai Masters Open saw more drama and unfortunately more retirements.
Nikolay Davydenko improved his chances of making the ATP London finale by taking out Radek Stepanek 6-1, 4-6, 6-1.
He will face in the semis Novak Djokovic who passed a stern test by Gilles Simon winning 6-3, 2-6, 6-2.
The surprise of the day was Feliciano Lopez’s defeat of No. 9 seed Robin Soderling 7-6(4), 6-3. Lopez, known more lately for his good looks than good results, has changed coaches and cut his trademark locks and it seems to be working. Soderling couldn’t figure out Lopez’s massive lefty serve and silky slice backhand.
Lopez will next face Rafael Nadal who survived an onslaught by veteran Ivan Ljubicic 3-6, 6-3 (ret). Ljubicic, you guessed it, had to retire in the third set after suffering a groin pull.
At this point who will win the whole thing is anybody’s guess. It is nice to see Lopez playing well again. But the real question is, do you like his new look?
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