3 Titles for Andy Murray for #3

16 Oct

Congrats to your new World #3 who went undefeated on the Asian Swing to pass Roger Federer, who falls out of the Top 3 for the first time since 2003. Where are you going to put all these trophies, Andy?

Andy Murray wins Bangkok

Andy Murray and Surprise Finalist Donald Young in Bangkok

Andy Beats Rafa in Tokyo

Andy Wins Big Over Rafa in Tokyo

Murray Wins The Shanghai Masters Over David Ferrer

And let’s not forget Andy’s doubles title with his brother Jamie in Tokyo.

Andy and Jamie Share Their Tokyo Trophy

David Ferrer and that Crying Baby

16 Oct

Does anybody remember the much ado about nothing involving David Ferrer hitting the ball toward the crying baby earlier this year in Miami? Well, I wonder if the producers of this Shanghai Masters promo do.

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I am not sure why this made me laugh so hard, but I thought I should share in case you have the same warped sense of tennis humor. I also wanted an excuse to shout a “Vamos Ferru” before the big final tomorrow. Bring home your first Master Series shield – do it for all of the hard-working grinders out there.

david ferrer shanghai final

VAMOS FERRU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shanghai Surprises (Plural)

15 Oct

A final between #2 and #3 seeds might indicate a routine week on the ATP Tour, but this Masters 1000 produced a few career-changing performances. While the attention will be on Murray and Ferrer tomorrow, much of the excitement of the week came from Florian Mayer, Matthew Ebden, and Kei Nishikori.

Florian Mayer – The draw was busted wide open in the 3rd Round when the 28 year-old German dismissed Rafael Nadal Florian Beats Rafa76(5) 63. While Florian was certainly mixing it up with his usual slicing and dicing, it was his improved serving that secured him this win as well as his best overall year on tour. Nadal never had a break point with Mayer winning 33 of 37 points when he got his first serve in.

In addition to his improved serve, Florian credits his best year on tour to his improved mental and physical fitness. He young florian mayer with boris beckerfully admits that when he had his first breakthrough of reaching the Wimbledon quarters in 2004, he simply was not ready for that level of success and attention thrust upon him. Many of the German players over the last 15 years have found it hard to handle the pressure of who would become the next Boris Becker.

While still a bit allergic to the spotlight, Florian is enjoying the fruits of his labor and patience now in 2011. Earlier this year he became the top ranked German player for the first time and finally surpassed his previous career-high ranking of 34. This time around he was more prepared to handle his success and the added pressure that comes with it. He carried this momentum even further to crack the Top 20 and win Bucharest for his first ATP title ever. His win over Nadal this week was just icing on his 2011 cake as you can see in his post-match interview.

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Matthew Ebden – The 23 year-old Australian was ranked a career-high 124 going in to Shanghai this week, so he needed to matt ebden shanghaiplay qualifying rounds like he does virtually every week. He dismissed former Top 40 players Florent Serra and Philipp Petzschner in quallies. After gaining entry to only his second Master Series main draw, he then cruised past #45 Pablo Andujar and #79 Ryan Harrison with ease.

One would think that Ebden would wake from this dream run against the steady #12 Gilles Simon, but this is the match that really made people take notice. As he often does even in his winning matches, Simon lost the first set 62 but it seemed like he regained control when he took the second by the same score. Ebden instead won a dramatic 10-8 tiebreak in the 3rd to set up a quarterfinal against Andy Murray.

While Murray looked strangely panicked in their first 6 games on serve, he then composed himself to win 63 62. Ebden will move inside the Top 100 for the first time to an estimated ranking of #80 tomorrow, and this should set himself up quite nicely for a 2012 full of many more main draw direct entries at the very least. He doesn’t like to be considered a late bloomer and explained, “‘I don’t know if you’d call it late; I mean, I’m 23. In a way, yes, but there’s probably only a handful of guys every year who are making it before the matthew ebdenages of 21, 22. The average age in the top 100 is about 26…I’m really trying to make it happen now. That’s where we’re heading.”

His compatriot Bernard Tomic also had a good week with a 2nd round win over Mardy Fish before losing to Alexandr Dolgopolov. Maybe it will help them both to share the pressure since there has been much scrutiny about the lack of talent after a long run of tennis legends. I would not be surprised if we also saw a few Aussies like Marinko Matosevic and Carsten Ball join the party in 2012. But this week is all Ebden, so take a look at his joy and composure after his big win over Gilles.

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Kei Nishikori – Project 45 was completed in style earlier this week by the 21 year-old kei nishikori shanghaiJapanese player. For three years now, many tennis fans have known and talked about Project 45 as Kei Nishikori’s has been quite open about his ranking goal of #45 in order to become the highest ranked Japanese player ever on the ATP. Nishikori secured his mission with a 67(1) 64 64 win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the 2nd round. Kei must have felt lucky to even have the opportunity to battle the World #8 in the 2nd round with how he played in the 1st round. He must have had Project 45 on his mind when he got bageled by Robin Haase in the 1st set before fighting back to win the next two hard-fought sets to complete the 06 75 76(5) victory.

Nishikori proceeded to back up his big victory over Tsonga with wins over Santiago Giraldo and Alexandr Dolgopolov to get to his first Master Series semi Actually, he has only once reached the 2nd Round of  a Master Series so this was a week of many firsts for Nishikori. He lost quite meekly to Andy Murray 63 60 in the semis due to an ankle injury, and without his weapon of speed he looked quite lost out there. Time will tell if Kei Nishikori is the next tennis sensation that many have touted. He certainly should leave this week flying high after achieving Project 45, and he already made his next goal known in this new ad from Wilson.

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I think Project 10 and/or Project Grand Slam will be a big ask, but let’s see if coach Brad Gilbert has the magic touch once again.

Andy Murray and David Ferrer: The Not-So-Unusual Suspects

15 Oct

It is the final weekend of a Masters Series, and the usual suspects are nowhere to be found. Novak Djokovic pulled out with a nagging back injury, and Roger Federer was also a no-show for “rest and recuperation”. Rafael Nadal bowed out in the 3rd Round to an inspired performance by Florian Mayer.

andy murray shanghaiWith the Big 3 out of the mix, #4 Andy Murray and #5 David Ferrer certainly both look eager to capitalize on their absence. Andy Murray will pass Roger and move to #3 if he wins the title, and the Scot has been very vocal all week about this being a major source of motivation. Andy is looking for his 3rd consecutive title to go undefeated in Asia after wins in Bangkok and Tokyo. He may have gotten a little lucky early in the week with a 1st Round bye and 2nd Round walkover in order to receive some well-needed rest.

David Ferrer, despite an otherwise successful career and many weeks in the Top 5, has never won a Master Series. He has given himself another look at securing that elusive Master Series shield with a 67(5) 63 63 win over Feliciano Lopez. david ferrer shanghaiLopez came in to the match with a 6-4 record against Ferrer and an even more encouraging 6-1 record on hard courts. Ferrer showed why he is Top 5 by playing tough after losing a tight first set, and Lopez quite frankly just got tight at the end of the 3rd set. While serving at 3-4 in the final set, Feli threw in 3 double-faults and a sprayed forehand to hand Ferru a trip to the final. Earlier in the week, Ferrer fought off 3 match points against his best friend Juan Carlos and also needed a 3rd set tie-break to beat Andy Roddick. Ferrer certainly earned his way to his 3rd Master Series final, and unlike his previous two attempts he will not have to face Rafael Nadal on a clay court.

David will now sit back and wait to see whether or not he will be the underdog in the final to red-hot Andy Murray or the massive favorite against young Kei Nishikori. Stay tuned for our next post “Shanghai Surprises (Plural)” to learn more about Kei and Project 45 among other surprises this week.

Agnieszka Radwanska Feels Like Dancing. Yeeaaaahhhh.

10 Oct

And why shouldn’t Agnieszka Radwanska feel like dancing?

She certainly deserves to be enjoying this Asian leg of the tour with her second tournament win in the past two weeks. Radwanska won a crowd-pleasing roller coaster of a final in Beijing over Andrea Petkovic by a score of 7-5 0-6 6-4. Perhaps even more entertaining than the match was the joy, sportsmanship, and dance both displayed after the match. You may as well take a look for yourself…

Radwanska’s  victories over Jankovic, Azarenka, and Zvonareva in Tokyo and Ivanovic, Pennetta, and Petkovic in Beijing showcase how Aga has been the ready and steady force to take advantage of the weary-looking WTA field. Although her opponents these past two weeks were from from pushovers, I simply cannot remember a WTA tournament like Beijing where all of the top eight seeds failed to make the semis.

Radwanska over the last two weeks has been able to sneak up to match her career-high ranking of #8 and looks poised to make the year-end championships out of nowhere. Considering the way top players have wilted under the pressure of their own success and Radwanska’s recent form, the World #8 has the steady yet crafty play that could help snag her biggest title yet.

It seems like Aga has been around forever, but let’s remember she is only 22 and has not had major titles like these before. Her title in Carlsbad in August of this year ended a three and a half year drought since her victory in Pattaya City back in 2008, and Carlsbad seems to have given her the momentum needed to have this end of the year surge. Radwanska has been able to stay in the Top 20 for four years mostly due to her QF and 4R runs at Slams, but maybe now we will be seeing her lift these trophies on a more regular basis as well.

Keep on dancing, Agnieszka!

Radwanska and Petkovic Dance From Behind

Open Letter to USTA: Stop Dissing The Ferrer(o) Boys

4 Sep

Dear US Open Scheduling Committee:

David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero are both quiet achievers who have the respect of both the fans and players. However, you have  treated the scheduling of their matches as if they were both unknown qualifiers. 

Today for example, David Ferrer will face off against Florian Mayer on Court 17.  I am not suggesting that you bump Roddick, Nadal, or Murray off Arthur Ashe. I won’t even suggest moving Delpo-Simon or Isner-Bogomolov off Armstrong despite Ferrer having a much higher ranking than all of them. I will even concede Donald Young vs Juan Ignacio on Grandstand. But Gilles Muller vs Igor Kunitsyn gets Grandstand treatment over the #5 player in the world?!?!? Really?!?!?  Come on US Open, you are better than that.

And in case you have not noticed, David Ferrer is ranked #5 in the world again in what has been the quietest return to the Top 5 ever. This achievement really should be celebrated and rewarded by the US Open scheduling committee in my opinion. When you see other veterans like Lleyton Hewitt, Nikolay Davydenko, and now Andy Roddick struggle to maintain their level of play, Ferrer’s return to #5 in the world is all that more impressive. Usually players that rely on speed fall rather quickly when they move closer to the end of their careers, but the 29 year-old has not only maintained his speed but he also pummels his forehand with more might than you would think from a supposed defensive grinder. One of the many things Ferru does not get the credit he deserves is his aggressive ball striking.

mosquito ferreroNow why should I complain about the court scheduling treatment of Juan Carlos Ferrero since his ranking has fallen to 105? The short answer is because he is a former #1 player, Grand Slam winner, and US Open finalist. That’s not to say he should automatically get stadium treatment for every match, but scheduling him on Court 10 for his first match was a real slap in the face. For those who do not know, this court is not one of the six televised courts and barely has 4 rows of seating. JCF has gotten this outer court treatment in the past, and just like when Ferrer plays out in the boonies the fans suffer because they often are not able to even get a seat. I would not have a problem with the US Open scheduling if these were players like Davydenko and Berdych who may have similar resumes but not the fans to fill up the seats. Sorry guys, but it’s true.

While Ferrero’s ranking may have dropped to 105, you should have realized he is very much still relevant as was evident by winning his 16th career title in Stuttgart this year on top of his 3 titles last year. He also leads all active players including Roddick and Federer with 13 consecutive years of being in at least one ATP final. And please do David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferreronot tell me that Ferrero and Ferrer are just clay-court specialists. JC’s best Slam results in recent years have been at the US Open and Wimbledon. David Ferrer has his best Slam results on hard courts making the 2007 US Open and 2011 Oz Open semis

Despite their humble nature, please start putting them on the show courts where they belong. If they keep winning, you will have to start giving them stadium treatment so maybe you should put this letter aside for next year.

Thank you,

Tennis Crack Whore

PS – Here are a couple of videos of these two best friends and champions, who both vacationed together in Puerto Rico where they fled from Hurricane Irene before they had to seek shelter in NYC later in the week. Also, please take notice of the misspelling of Ferrero by the ATP.  Can’t anyone show these two some love and respect?

The 2011 US Open Will Start As Planned (Almost)

29 Aug

Arthur Ashe Stadium, Sunday 08/28/11

The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center came through Hurricane Irene with minimal damage. The gates are prepped to open at 10AM tomorrow as scheduled. Most courts on the grounds will commence play as close to 11AM as possible with the first match on Arthur Ashe Stadium starting at 1PM. The first match on Arthur Ashe will now feature Tobias Kamke vs. Mardy Fish (8). The original 11AM match of Petra Kvitova (5) vs. Alexandra Dulgheru has been moved from Arthur Ashe to Louis Armstrong Stadium.

The first match ever on the new Court 17 will be Sergiy Stakhovsky vs Richard Gasquet (13), which is also slated for a later 1PM start time. For the complete revised schedule tomorrow, click here.

court 17, us open (billie jean king national tennis center)

Sneak Preview of New Court 17