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).

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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.

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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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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)

Lost Talents

Marin Cilic’s defeat in the first round of the French Open to 33-year-old Spaniard Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo compounded what has been a tough year for the former top 10 player.

The Croatian was seeded 19th but lost in straight sets a man whose only Grand Slam victories came in the 2006 French Open, where he reached the fourth round.

Now world number 20 Cilic is likely to drop further down the rankings when only last year he sat at number nine following an impressive Australian Open semi-final run.

So what has happened to the once lauded young talent and former French Open junior champion? Well 67 unforced errors doesn’t help and certainly aided his downfall against Hidalgo but there are aspects of his game which need improving.

When looking at his only ATP final appearance this year in Marseille compared to his Australian Open quarter-final there are notable differences.

The first is the movement. Some of the shots Robin Soderling produced in Marseille were reachable but Cilic either stood still or gave up trying to make the return.

Another thing is his reading of the game. Against Andy Roddick, Cilic anticipated the ball’s placement and the American’s shot selection much better.

And also he can’t rely solely on his serve. At 6′ 6” it’s a great weapon to have, smashing in aces on your own service game but it’s not enough to win you matches against the top players. Ivo Karlovic and John Isner have yet to learn that lesson as well.

Mentality is also key. I heard American youngster Irina Falconi say after her first round defeat that tennis is “100% physical and 100% mental”.

Cilic has spoke before of feeling nervous before big matches, something I’m sure most players experience, but if it gets to you during the match then you’re more than likely going to crumble.

Marin Čilić on the receiving side

Another first round exit came in the form of Ernests Gulbis whom I’ve written about before. Back then I admit my thoughts on Gulbis’ similar ranking ‘injustice’ were sketchy but after more thorough research I’ve come to realise how important mentality is.

One thing I labelled Gulbis was a “headcase” and I stand by that. His interviews are often light-hearted and clichés are rarities, which is nice and different but some of the things he comes out with raise eyebrows over commitment issues.

Upon publication Gulbis fans hated me for saying that but he’s admitted to not enjoying practice whilst saying he loves being on the court and winning matches.

Unfortunately it’s a symbiotic relationship. If it wasn’t, I could be at Roland Garros.

In one interview Gulbis says he’s happy no matter how he wins. In contrast, women’s number one Caroline Wozniacki has said she’s a perfectionist and works on the things that didn’t please her during victories.

Perhaps that is the difference; I’m not sure. Certainly maturity on the court is something for Gulbis to improve on. One-time racket-smashers Victoria Azarenka and Andy Murray have become much better players for it.

Gulbis is a player who intrigues and often confuses me. I don’t know whether to love him for his casual style or hate him for how it affects his tennis.

Him and Cilic are both currently 22 and have many years ahead of them. Although the Croat is ranked higher than the Latvian, they both have top 10 potential. Whether they’ll get there and remain there, depends on how they react to their current slumps.

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