Weekly Roundup: Rogers Cup

ATP

Novak Djokovic sealed his second Masters 1000 title of the year by defeating Frenchman Richard Gasquet in straight sets. After facing break points in his first service game that were not taken, he took control breaking Gasquet on all three occasions he had a break point. Djokovic was dominant on serve throughout and dropped just eight points on his serve on the way to a 6-3 6-2 victory. This win means that Djokovic does not suffer any points hit as he defends the title that he took in 2011 where he beat Mardy Fish. Djokovic only dropped one set on his way to the title here, in the quarter finals against Germany’s Tommy Haas.

Second seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan carried on their excellent form picking up the Doubles title just a week after doing the same at the Olympics. The brothers dropped just one set on their way to the trophy, as they defeated Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers 6-1 4-6 12-10 to make it five titles on the year.

Source: Rogers Cup Facebook

WTA

Petra Kvitova finally took her first title of the year in Montreal in an enthralling encounter with Na Li, defeating the Chinese star 7-5 2-6 6-3. Kvitova had gone down an early break in the first before reeling off four games in a row to serve for the first set. She could not do so and was pegged back to 5-5. Li eventually buckled under the pressure of serving to stay in the set as Kvitova broke in the twelfth game of the set to take the first. With the set in Kvitova’s pocket, one would expect that she had the momentum but that was not to be the case with the Czech dropping the first SIXTEEN points of the set to quickly drop into a 0-4 hole. Kvitova recovered slightly but Li eventually took the set 6-2. Kvitova’s serve reappeared in the third set as she was never in danger and after breaking for a 4-2 lead never looked back sealing the third set and with it, the championship and 900 WTA ranking points.

The Doubles title was taken by the surprise package of Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Kristina Mladenovic. The pair defeated their more storied counterparts Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik in a tight encounter 7-5 2-6 10-7. The title is their first as a team and Mladenovic’s first on the WTA Tour.

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ATP 1000 Toronto Masters Preview

Due to the Olympics, Toronto has suffered a big number of withdrawals including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer. The field still does contain three of the four semi finalists though, with Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin Del Potro scheduled to play at the time of writing.

Favourites – With such a depleted field in terms of the top players, the two big favourites are clear. Defending champion Novak Djokovic has not quite been showing his 2011 form with two recent semi final exits on the grass but is still a huge danger. The Australian Open champ has only lost twice on hard courts this year to Andy Murray and John Isner, both of which reside in the other half of the draw.

Andy Murray will be big on confidence after taking the Gold Medal and defeating Roger Federer with such ease. Murray did not take a hard court title post-Australian Open but was twice a finalist losing to Federer and Djokovic in Doha and Miami respectively. The draw appears to favour Murray, with the top seeds in his half being an out-of-form Tomas Berdych, Juan Monaco and John Isner – who Murray always performs well against.

Outsiders
While both players fitness is in question after record breaking matches at the Olympics, Juan Martin Del Potro (match length in minutes) and Milos Raonic (match length in games) are dark horses for this tournament. Raonic will be hoping for an excellent tournament in his home country, and has a nice route to the final if he can defeat the No.2 seed Andy Murray in a potential Round 3 clash. While Murray has dealt with big servers well in the past, Raonic will take heart from his victory on the clay in Barcelona earlier this year. Raonic has some extraordinary serving stats this year, topping the aces count as well as winning the highest percentage of service games this year.

Meanwhile, Juan Martin Del Potro looks somewhat back to his best after an excellent Olympics in which he picked up the bronze medal after defeating Novak Djokovic in straights. While often thought of as just a forehand, the tall Argentinian showcased it all in the latter stages as possibly should have beat Roger Federer in the semi final. After a long time out with injury, Del Potro finally looks like he is ready to take on the top players again.

One To Watch
Canadian number two Vasek Pospisil is one of three home players to receieve a wildcard. The 22 year old reached his career high of 85th in the world after taking the title in Granby Challenger, his second of the year. Pospisil will most likely float between low level ATP tournaments and North American challengers this year but does have a win over No. 8 seed John Isner to his name. He faces a tough tie in Round 1 taking on the Italian Andreas Seppi

Did You Know…?
The last eight Toronto Masters titles have been shared equally by the top four players – Roger Federer (04,06), Novak Djokovic (07,11), Rafael Nadal (05,08) and Andy Murray (09,10).

Novak Djokovic has winning records against all of the other top 8 seeds – though John Isner, Juan Martin Del Potro, Janko Tipsarevic and Andy Murray have all defeated him in their last encounters.

Finals Prediction Andy Murray defeats Novak Djokovic in three sets

For a more detailed preview of the tournament check out the write up I did for Stevegtennis here.

Weekly Roundup: ATP Winners

ATP Kitzbuhel

Robin Haase became the seventh player (most recently Albert Costa 98/99) to defend the Kitzbuhel title with his defeat of Philipp Kohlschreiber in three sets. The first set was a tight one, with serve dominating and the Dutchman saving numerous break points. However, in the tiebreaker he could not hold off Kohlschreiber who took it 7-2. After that Haase took control in the second and third sets and was only broke once throughout the whole match on his way to a (2)6-7 6-3 6-2 victory. It appears that Kohlschreiber was carrying an injury of sorts during the week as after the final he announced his withdrawal from the Olympics.

Meanwhile in the doubles there was some Austrian success as No.1 seeds Julian Knowle and Czech teammate Frantisek Cermak picked up the Doubles title in an extremely close encounter. They defeated the No.2 pairing of Dustin Brown and Paul Hanley in three sets winning 7-6(4) 3-6 12-10

 

Source: Bet-at-home Kitzbuhel Facebook

 

ATP Los Angeles

Sam Querrey joined an impressive list of three-times winners at the Los Angeles Open, that includes Arthur Ashe and Fred Perry, with a comprehensive defeat over the Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis 6-0 6-2. Querrey was unstoppable as he took eight games in a row with Berankis failing to get even to deuce until game 9 where he failed to take break points on the Querrey serve. It capped an excellent week for Querrey who has served brilliantly throughout, hitting 32 aces in four matches and only getting broken once all week (against Rajeev Ram SF).

Unseeded Belgians Ruben Bemelmans and Xavier Malisse took their first doubles title as a pairing with an impressive victory over the No.3 seeds Ken Skupski and Jamie Delgado. Both teams were dominant on serve and breaks were minimal as the match went into the final set deciding tiebreak. Bemelmans and Malisse earned the mini-break early and did not relinquish it as they took the match 7-6(5) 4-6 10-7.

 

Source: AFP/Getty Images/Frederic J Brown

Citi Open Preview – ATP 500/WTA International

While the majority of the top players are off in London taking part in the Olympic Games, the tour continues to roll on with one tournament this week – The Citi Open. The Citi Open is a joint tournament based in Washington D.C., formerly known as the Legg Mason Tennis Classic on the Men’s side while the Women’s tournament is only in it’s second year.

(click for draw)

ATP 500

While not at the usual standard of a 500 points tournament, there is still a fairly strong field on the men’s side. Mardy Fish, who chose not to play in the Olympics, leads the field while fallouts with their tennis federations meant Alexandr Dolgopolov and Kevin Anderson meant that neither man was available for the Olympics. The French and Germans are also represented well here, with Jeremy Chardy and Tommy Haas the best chances of a title here for the respective nations.

Favourite – Seeing as he withdrew from the Olympics in order to concentrate on defending points he picked up in the 2011 hard court swing, it is very likely that Mardy Fish will have his mind fully focused on the tournament here. He missed out last year here due to injury, but had he played he would have been expected to make the third final in three weeks due to the form he was in. There is no doubting his hard court credentials and he had an impressive 29-11 record last year. The only thing to look out for is the potential ankle injury he may have, which forced his retirement against Gilles Muller and stopped him from defending his Atlanta title.

Outsider – No.4 seed Tommy Haas has continued his great run of form by making the Hamburg final a few weeks back, where he was defeated by Juan Monaco in straight sets. The 34 year old has continued to amaze by competing so well at this level since his return from injury over a year ago. The disappointment of missing out on the Olympics (German Olympic Committee refused to support him, a decision made to look even sillier with Philipp Kohlschreiber’s late withdrawal) will serve as top motivation to do well here. Before his injury, the majority of Haas’s titles were during the US Hard Court seasons so it is obvious that he still favours this type of surface.

One To Watch –  Wildcard Ricardas Berankis is another player who has returned to form (though not quite to the extent of Haas above) after a sizable amount of time out with injury. The Lithuania dropped just one set on his run to the Final in Los Angeles (1st qualifying round, 5-7 to Dennis Lajola), looking impressive in victories against the likes of Nicolas Mahut and Marinko Matosevic. He did not face a break point in his match against the latter and looked utterly dominant on serve for most of the week. While he was embarrassed in the final by Sam Querrey, only picking up two games, it had been a great week for him and much better than what he would have expected. Berankis favoured surface is the hard court and he had also made the final of a Challenger in Winnetka at the start of this month.

Did You Know…?

Only four players have won a singles title in the draw this year, Sam Querrey, Pablo Andujar, Tommy Haas and Kevin Anderson.

Of the 12 finalists in Washington last year (8x doubles, 4x singles), only losing Women’s doubles finalists Olga Govortsova and Alla Kudryavtseva will be attending this year. 

Final Prediction – Mardy Fish defeats Sam Querrey in three sets

WTA International

While the tournament is weakened slightly, the Women’s side of the Citi Open does not suffer as much due to the lower tournament level. Many of the seeds would have qualified for the Olympics if not due to competitor limits while Chanelle Scheepers (much like Kevin Anderson in the Men’s tournament) did not enter due to her disagreements with the South African tennis authorities.

Favourite – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia is the No.1 seed here and suffers from being from a strong tennis country in that she fails to make the tournament despite being in the top 30 currently. After a 25-13 record (w/ Monterrey title) on the hard courts last year, Pavlyuchenkova has struggled to build on that only going 2-7 so far this year. She will be hoping for better in the run up to the US Open, where she made the quarter finals and was defeated by Serena Williams. In the past year Pavyluchenkova has had issues with her service motion and this could be her downfall. Another issue is that many of her recent defeats have been in matches she should be expected to win and that perhaps she does not deal well with the tag of “favourite”.

Outsider – The highly rated Sloane Stephens is yet to win a tournament in her WTA career, but for someone of her talent it cannot be much longer. Sloane is only one of a few teenagers around the top 60 at present, where a lot of that can be put down to her appearances in slams. Stephens impressed at Wimbledon and Roland Garros, being defeated by Sabine Lisicki and Samantha Stosur respectively but had great chances in both. While there are no complaints with her performances in the bigger tournaments, defeats like those she has suffered since Wimbledon are incredibly disappointing – losing from 6-1 4-1 up against Melanie Oudin and losing in three sets to Heather Watson. If she can convert her form in slams to the International tournaments there is no reason why she cannot go deep here.

One To Watch – As a relative unknown at Wimbledon Camila Giorgi impressed the tennis world with a handy run defeating both Flavia Pennetta and Nadia Petrova (2011 Citi Open champion). The Italian has an aggressive style of play and when on form is hard to deal with. Much like many other young stars, inconsistency is a big issue. Great results like those at Wimbledon are combined with disappointing defeats in matches she is highly favoured to win. There is no doubting her talent though, and if she can get it together there is definitely potential to spring a shock or two.

Did You Know…?

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is a multiple junior grand slam champion having won the Girls Singles at the Australian Open and US Open

None of the seeds have a Singles title this year, though unseeded players Melanie Oudin and Bojana Jovanovski do.
Finals Prediction – Sloane Stephens defeats Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 3 sets

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

ATP Los Angeles Preview

 

Los Angeles 250

Again, with the Olympics ongoing, a fairly weak draw appears in Los Angeles headed by a surprising No.1 seed in Benoit Paire. Finalists from last year Mardy Fish and Ernest Gulbis do not appear, with Fish skipping this week (also picked up an injury in Atlanta) and playing Washington next week while Gulbis has chosen to play in Kitzbuhel instead. Sam Querrey heads the list of Americans hoping to pick up a title.

Favourite – Were in not for the injuries he had suffered in the past year doing damage to his ranking, I think Sam Querrey would have been No.1 seed here. Most likely though, an fully fit Querrey would have been highly ranked enough to be at the Olympics rather than here! The American is a two times champion here (2009, 2010) but was unable to compete last year. With a serve like Querrey’s fast hard courts will suit him and he can take advantage of a weak draw.

Outsider –  James Blake is another who has been suffering from injuries recently, only gaining one victory on the tour in seven attempts. However, this victory was in his most recent outing in Atlanta, shocking the No.6 seed Ryan Harrison in three sets. He still possesses the monster forehand that brought him so much success in earlier years, but is perhaps a little more inconsistent with it. If it gets going again here, he can dictate many of the rallies as he did in the later stages against Harrison. The only issue may be is a potential shoulder injury which affected his serving at times in Atlanta.

One To Watch – Igor Sijsling is yet to make any impact on the ATP World Tour with only 17 matches in three years but the Dutchman has come off a good run of form that includes a third round appearance at S’hertogenbosch where he defeated Jarkko Niemenen and Olivier Rochus before being sent crashing down to earth with a battering from eventual champ David Ferrer. More recently, Sijsling showed good hard court form in Granby Challenger where he lost in the final to Vasek Pospisil.

Did You Know..?

Los Angeles Open is one of the oldest tournaments on the tour, having been held every year since 1927.

Only two seeds (Querrey, Malisse) have a ATP World Tour title in their careers.

Only Bjorn Phau of the seeds has defeated Sam Querrey in their career.

Finals Prediction – Querrey defeats Mahut in 2 sets

 

 

ATP Kitzbuhel Preview

Kitzbuhel 250

The clay court season ends on the main tour here in Kitzbuhel, Austria. Again, with the Olympics the draw is much weaker than usual but is headed by two top 25 Germans in Philip Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer and two capable Spaniards in Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Albert Ramos.

Favourite – No.1 seed Philip Kohlschreiber possesses an 8-5 record on the year, and more importantly has already picked up a title in Munich, where he defeated Marin Cilic in the final. While it is clear that the German’s game suits faster surfaces, he is clearly a competent clay player against the standard of players in this draw and is coming off a good run of form having made the quarter finals at Wimbledon. Much like many other players, the thought of the Olympics may be in the back of his mind and so an early exit is possible.

Outsider – This will not be an issue for Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who has dropped in the rankings recently after a poor 2011. The Spaniard took the Kitzbuhel title in 2009 defeating Julien Benneteau but has not played here in the past two years. Most recently, Garcia-Lopez had a good run in Stuttgart where he made the Semi Final, only to be defeated by Juan Monaco in a thrilling three set encounter – having came back from 5-0 down in the third to tie it up, only to drop the set 7-5. He has a good chance of going far if he can keep up the level he showed in Stuttgart.

One To Watch – A four times Hungarian National champion, Attila Balazs made quite a splash in his first tour event of the year in Bucharest, making the semi final as qualifier where he was defeated by Fabio Fognini. However on the way, he recorded impressive victories over Xavier Malisse, Lukas Lacko and Potito Starace. At the lower level, he has picked up numerous clay titles but is yet to make the step up so much on the Challenger circuit. However, as his Bucharest run showed, he appears to be a momentum play and having gone into the tournament on a three match winning streak to make the first round, he has potential to do damage again and could draw worse than wildcard Martin Fischer.

Did You Know…?

Kitzbuhel was a ATP 500 event until 2008, an ATP 250 event in 2009 and 2011, but a Challenger Tour event in 2010 where it was won by Andreas Seppi.

Ernest Gulbis is the only seed not to have won a title on clay, be it ATP World Tour or ATP Challenger Tour.

Martin Klizan against Dominic Thiem is a battle of two former French Open junior finalists. Thiem was a loser in 2011 while Klizan picked up the trophy in 2006.

Finals Prediction – Garcia-Lopez defeats Ramos in 2 sets

Weekly Roundup: This Week’s ATP/WTA Winners

ATP Tour

Bastad

David Ferrer extended his winning record over Nicolas Almagro to 11-0 with an easy straight sets victory 6-2 6-2. Ferrer only faced one break point through out the whole match and was always in control breaking Almagro twice in each set including the final game of the match. In the doubles Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau eased a little bit of the heartbreak of losing another Wimbledon final by taking the title, defeating second seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares 6-3 7-6(5).

AFP/Getty Images

Stuttgart

Janko Tipsarevic picked up his first title of the year with a far from straight forward victory over Juan Monaco in Stuttgart. The Serbian failed to take a break point for a 6-4 5-0 and was consequently pegged back to 4-4. Serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Tipsarevic made silly errors gifting the set away. With all the momentum seemingly in the Argentinian’s favour, Tipsarevic broke three times in the third set to take the match 6-4 5-7 6-3. The Doubles title was taken by Jeremy Chardy and Lukasz Kubot who convincingly beat Michael Mertinak and Andre Sa 6-1 6-3.

AFP/Getty Images

Umag

Marin Cilic defeated Marcel Granollers in straight sets to make up for his 2011 final defeat. Cilic came back from a 4-2 deficit in the first set, reeling off four games in a row to take the set. A break early in the second saw Cilic take control and despite a minor blip in failing to serve the match out at 5-1, he broke back straight away winning in 92 minutes 6-4 6-2. Granollers didn’t fare much better as an all Spanish final in the doubles saw David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco defeat Granollers and Marc Lopez 6-3 7-6(4).

AFP/Getty Images

Newport

Another dominant serving display saw John Isner defend his Newport title beating Lleyton Hewitt 7-6(1) 6-4. The first set saw no breaks of serve, and after that Isner took control in the tiebreak dropping just one point. An early break at 1-1 in the second was enough for Isner to hold on to for the remainder of the match, with his 16 aces certainly a big help. Santiago Gonzalez  and Scott Lipsky  took the doubles title with a 7-6(3) 6-3 victory over Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchings, breaking in the vital eighth game of the second set to earn the opportunity to serve it out which they did to 30.

via @TennisHalloFame twitter

WTA Tour

Palermo

Sara Errani took yet another WTA International title with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Barbara Zahlavova Strycova. An excellent performance from Errani in the 25 minute first set saw Errani drop just 1 game and break her opponent twice while managing a  96% first serve percentage (24/25) facing zero break points. The second set was slightly tougher as Errani dropped two service games but was never in danger of losing the set, sealing the victory by passing a helpless Strycova at the net. Strycova fared much better in the Doubles taking the title alongside partner Renata Voracova with a 7-6(5) 6-4 victory over Darija Jurak and Katalin Marosi.

Stanford

Serena Williams fought off a spirited Coco Vandeweghe to win the Stanford final 7-5 6-3 for the second time in a row. Williams was *3-5 0-30 down before taking the first set and fought off a set point to win the first despite an unconvincing performance in the set. Williams took full control in the fourth game of the second set breaking to love. At 4-1 30-0 on Vandeweghe’s serve, the potential for a breadstick was looming but she held on and forced Serena to serve for the match at 5-3 which she did to 15, finishing off  with a forehand down the line. In the Doubles Jarmila Gajdosova and Vania King suffered defeat to Marina Erakovic and Heather Watson 5-7  (7) 6-7. The pair came from a break down in the first set and saved set points in the second to win in straights.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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