Weekly Roundup: ATP Winners

Atlanta

Andy Roddick recovered from a dreadful first set to take the Atlanta title against Gilles Muller. Roddick took a mini-break in the first point of Muller’s serve in the tiebreak and never looked back, breaking the Luxembourger twice in the third set to earn the victory 1-6 7-6(2) 6-2 for his second title of the year. Roddick and Muller both served huge, with the pair hitting 18 and 20 aces respectively. Meanwhile the doubles title was won by Matthew Ebden and Ryan Harrison, the duo earned their second doubles title as a team (Newport ’11 first) by defeating Xavier Malisse and Michael Russell in three sets 6-3 3-6 10-6.

Source: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Gstaad

Thomaz Bellucci gained revenge for his defeat against Janko Tipsarevic a week ago in Stuttgart by defeating this Serb in this week’s final in Switzerland. After an incredible double fault to gift away the first set, it looked like Bellucci may falter once more but this was not to be the case as Bellucci took control of the match, breaking to love at 5-4* up in the second set to take it. Bellucci started the third set fast, and broke in the first service game of Tipsarevic’s and never looked back as he earned his second title of the year (Braunschweig Challenger) with a (6)6-7 6-4 6-2 victory. The doubles were taken by the Spanish pairing of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez who didn’t drop a set through out the whole tournament. Granollers and Lopez beat Robert Farah and Santiago Giraldo 6-4 7-6 to add the Gstaad title to the Rome title they earned a few months back.

Source: @opengstaad

Hamburg

Another to recover from being defeated by Janko Tipsarevic last week is the losing finalist Juan Monaco who took the Hamburg title with victory over Tommy Haas.  Monaco had a slow start, going down a break to the German early on, but made an excellent comeback to win the set 7-5. The second set was fairly similar as the pair traded breaks, including in the seventh and eighth games of the set before Monaco finally served it out, winning the last two games of the match for a 7-5 6-4 victory. Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero earned their fourth title of the year (Buenos Aires, Acapulco, Umag) as a duo with a 6-4 6-3 over the pair who only made it into the draw as alternates Rogerio Dutra Silva and Daniel Munoz-De La Nava.

Source: AAP

Advertisements

July 16th-22nd ATP Previews

It’s another packed schedule this week, with three mens tournaments to look at. The North American hard court swing carries on with ATP Atlanta while the European clay courters move on to Gstaad and Hamburg complete the clay trio.

(Click tournament name for draw links)

ATP Tour

Hamburg 500

Former multiple winners of this tournament include Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal but since it’s demotion from a Masters 1000 to an ATP 500, the German tournament has struggled to attract the very best names. In 2010, the tournament was won by the unseeded Kazakh Andrey Golubev but a fairly strong set of seeded players make it seem unlikely that such an event could happen again.

Favourite – Nicolas Almagro is one of the best clay courters around, but unfortunately suffers from being from a country where he is considered probably 3rd best on the surface! Thankfully, neither of his compatriots David Ferrer (who defeated him once more to earn the Bastad title and make it 11-0 head to head) or Rafael Nadal will be taking part in the tournament this week. Almagro repeated wins last year in Nice and at the Brasil Open for his two titles this year and also made the final in Buenos Aires where he was defeated by Ferrer once more. A finalist last year, I think Almagro has improved enough to have a great chance of winning it all.

Outsider – Fresh from a successful trip in Umag, where he picked up the title in his home country, Marin Cilic can go deep again here. The Croatian will feel he has been placed in the kinder side of the draw with Viktor Troicki a potential quarter final opponent. Cilic appears to be feeling no ill-effects from his Wimbledon run which included the epic 5hr30 third round encounter with Sam Querrey. Although often inconsistent, Cilic is hard to write off when he gets into a run of a form as he has done the past month.

One To Watch – A former French Open Boys winner, Martin Klizan has finally made the breakthrough to the main tour after a successful year winning three challenger events and making the final of another. Klizan qualified for the French Open directly through his ranking – the first time he has done so for a slam in this way. He suffered a defeat to Nicolas Mahut in the second round but put up a decent enough fight to show he could be a threat at this level.

Did You Know…?

Only Rafael Nadal (36) and Juan Carlos Ferrero (13) possess more clay court titles than Nicolas Almagro (12) of active ATP players.

All 4 top seeds possess at least one clay title this year.

Atlanta 250

Atlanta is a fairly new tournament on the tour, having been moved from Indianapolis only two years ago. Mardy Fish and John Isner have competed in the final both times with Fish coming out on top both times. These two lead a strong field which also includes two-times Indianapolis winner Andy Roddick.

Favourite – Having suffered from major health problems Mardy Fish appears to be back to near his best after a fairly impressive Wimbledon display where he made the fourth round and gave eventual semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga a big scare. Having won this tournament twice before, he has to be the pre-tournament favourite, especially with the 3-0 hard court record he holds over second seed John Isner.

Outsider – With many writing him off after a poor season to date, there have been some calls for Andy Roddick to perhaps retire. Roddick silenced some of the doubters for at least a while with a strong performance at Eastbourne where he picked up the title as a wildcard. He continued this impressive showing with almost two sets of great grass court tennis against David Ferrer before the Spaniard eventually battled through in four sets. While clearly the former world No. 1 is way below that level, the serve and forehand can still be a big threat on these hard courts and it is silly to write him off.

One To Watch – The story of Brain Baker has been an inspiring one. The former Junior star fought back from terrible injuries and after coming out of retirement last year has been on an excellent run to make the Top 100. A fourth round appearance as a qualifier at Wimbledon showed just what this American is capable of. He has been handed a wildcard here and it will be interesting to see how he shapes up against some of the more established Americans if he can make it that far. He faces Igor Kunitsyn in the first round here.

Did You Know…?

John Isner is one of only two players to have reached the 300 aces barrier this season on hard courts, the other being Milos Raonic.

The draw contains four college champions, 2x winner in Singles Steve Johnson (2011,2012) and doubles champions Rajeev Ram (2003), John Isner (2005) and Kevin Anderson (2006)

Gstaad 250

While the Swiss tournament does not get an appearance from now No. 1 and former winner Roger Federer, his fellow countryman Stanislas Wawrinka and Janko Tipsarevic lead a fairly weak field. The draw suffers from the withdrawal of David Ferrer so it will be up to Marcel Granollers to lead the charge of the Spaniards here as No.2 seed.

Favourite – Both the top seeds Marcel Granollers and Janko Tipsarevic have a fair case for being seen as the favourite. Granollers is coming off a final appearance in Umag and won Gstaad last year defeating fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the final. Meanwhile top seed Tipsarevic is also following up a final appearance last week, having taken the Stuttgart title in three sets. Tipsarevic managed to shrug off the loss off a second set when 4-0 and break point up to defeat Juan Monaco in three sets.

Outsider – While yet to pick up his first ATP Tour title, Santiago Giraldo was a regular victor on the challenger circuit before he made the step up. Giraldo has reached the Bogota Challenger final and faces Alejandro Falla tomorrow so will be high on confidence coming into the tournament.

One To Watch – Swiss-Finnish Wildcard Henri Laaksonen is a former French Open Boys semi finalist, in 2009 as a 17-year old. Laaksonen was close to qualifying last week for Bastad but was defeated in the final qualifying round by Ivo Minar – who went on to push Nicolas Almagro extremely close.

Did You Know…?

Mikhail Youzhny possesses winning records over 5 of the other 7 seeds, having never played Bernard Tomic and a 2-4 record against Feliciano Lopez.

Only twice in the last 20 years has a European not won the Gstaad title (Thomasz Bellucci 2009, Gaston Gaudio 2005)

Sleeping Giants

Bernard TomicSince 2003, America has been awaiting a male Grand Slam winner.

Andy Roddick won the US Open on his own turf eight years ago and still remains the only real chance of adding to the illustrious legacy of a dominant tennis nation.

Roddick very nearly won Wimbledon in 2009 but at the age of 28 his chances of building on his solitary Grand Slam victory are slipping.

It’s perplexing how a country which has spawned legends such as Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and John McEnroe is running out of talent at the highest level.

It’s very much a similar story for Australian tennis too. Not since Lleyton Hewitt won Wimbledon back in 2002 have we seen the Aussies challenge at Grand Slam level.

Although not enjoying the same kind of history as the USA, with Mark Philippoussis and Pat Cash being the only other notable players in the last 30 years, they did produce tennis legend Rod Laver and the passionate sport-loving Australian public demand competitors in the Grand Slam event they annually host.

There is, though, hope that both countries could end their barren runs and it comes in the form of two 18-year-olds.

At number nine in the USA’s best ranked players and at 156 in the world’s, Ryan Harrison could be the next Grand Slam contester and take over the mantle of Roddick in two or three years.

Being an American automatically gives Harrison an advantage of great home support at Flushing Meadows enhancing his US Open chances in the process. Australian Bernard Tomic is in the same position.

Like Harrison, Tomic is currently sitting outside the top 100. On paper, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s another product of the Eastern European tennis machine churning out talented players every year but, although of Croatian descent, he is from Down Under.

That home advantage has already begun to have an effect with Tomic mustering a third round run at this year’s Australian Open.

But be warned, the teen has also gained a controversial reputation in his short career so far. He’s been quoted as saying compatriot and former world number one Hewitt was “not good enough” for him to practice with whilst his father and coach John has threatened to convert his nationality to Croatian.

That could hinder his dreams greatly as his support on and off the court wouldn’t be at the same level.

Even if Tomic and Harrison don’t make Grand Slam winners it’s crucial for both countries to encourage new talented youngsters to pick up a racket.

Currently the Williams sisters and the recent success of Sam Stosur have been keeping US and Aussie fans content but after their reign ends there’s little waiting in the wings to keep the respective legacies going.

Harrison and Tomic therefore play a more important role than just winning tournaments, they must also win over new tennis fans and the stars of the future.

Ryan Harrison loses his shirt
Youngsters Ryan Harrison and Bernard Tomic are the next prospects from the supposed giants of world tennis

Milos Raonic

Before I go into detail about Canada’s 20-year-old prospect Milos Raonic, watch this and imagine these scenes at Wimbledon.

As you can probably tell from the 1990’s style film quality and the rather drab serve that is not the Milos mentioned above but it’s something that we could be seeing more of in the future.

Raonic’s fans have already taken to the celebration even if the world number 37 hasn’t trademarked his wins with it.

He’s already breaking Canadian tennis records in every tournament he plays this year and half of them were set by Greg Rusedski before he decided to turn British.

In January he reached the fourth round of the Australian Open beating seeds Michael Llondra and Mikhail Youzhny before eventual semi-finalist David Ferrer ended his run despite winning the first set.

He followed this up with his first ATP tour title after defeating top seed Fernando Verdasco at the SAP Open. Verdasco was so furious with his loss that he stuck his middle finger up at the crowd. Someone had made a noise on championship point though.

To make matters worse for the Spaniard he had to face Raonic in the first round of the proceeding Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis. This time seeded second it still held no bearing on his opponent as Raonic won in three sets.

Only Andy Roddick could stop Raonic from claiming a second successive tournament victory as the American produced a spectacular match point shot to win 7-6 (9-7), 6-7 (11-13), 7-5.

Raonic is now the greatest male Canadian tennis player ever. No other man from said country has ever been as high in the rankings as Raonic right now.

His fellow compatriot Aleksandra Wozniak reached 21 in the world previously but has now dropped outside the top 100.

Raonic must avoid a similar dramatic drop but this looks unlikely based on the views of tennis icons – John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova just to name-drop.

However if any of you think he’ll do a Greg and convert to British shores then I’m afraid he’s already nullified that idea.

“Come on Andy” it is then and maybe they’ll meet sometime in the near future. Certainly, the chances of that happening seem to be getting likelier everyday.

SPORTS: Milos Raonic rising fast at Australian OpenThe real Milos on his way to the fourth round of the Australian Open

%d bloggers like this: