Around The Corner: Atlanta, Gstaad and Umag
By Mike McIntyre
The Emirates Airlines U.S. Open Series officially gets underway with the level 250 event in Atlanta. While the major players will make their first hardcourt swing appearances in two weeks time at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, some smaller (and taller) fish will start accumulating points a bit earlier.
When I say taller I am definitely talking about John Isner who heads the field in Atlanta as the number one seed. Isner has become the hardest working player on the ATP Tour in recent summers and this year should be no exception. He has plenty of points to defend which must compel him to play such a heavy schedule, but it certainly seems to leave him weakened by the time the U.S. Open arrives at the end of August. At the age of 29 Isner is no kid anymore and if he truly wants to have his major moment he is going to have to ease up on the hours he spends out in the summer heat. Isner's success in 2014 has been limited to the early months of the season where he won his first event in Auckland and then reached the semi's at Indian Wells where he fell to Djokovic in three sets. He's the defending champ here in Atlanta and anything less than a repeat victory at this event will be seen as a disappointment.
Isner has a first round bye and then will face the winner between wildcard Robby Ginepri -who is still trying to salvage something of a once promising career - and Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine. Gael Monfils of France is the number three seed and is also in the top-half of the draw. Monfils could win this thing or self-destruct in a dizzying array of cartwheels and Boris Becker inspired dives...you just never know with him.
Wimbledon doubles champs Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil are reunited together again since their big triumph. They are also both playing singles of course and Pospisil is the fourth seed and in the bottom-half of the draw. With his back seemingly no longer troubling him, the Canadian will look to gain some momentum as the Roger's Cup approaches where he has semi-final points to defend. Lots of pressure on the youngster who is fresh off a loss to Bernie Tomic in Bogota this past week.
Yen-Hsun Lu of Tapei is the seventh seed and in the bottom half as well. He is coming off a Challenger level tournament victory in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan. For him it will be a battle between his rising confidence and impending jetlag. Kevin Anderson, the second seed, is also one to watch. He lost the final a year ago to Isner and played very well last summer on the smaller American hardcourt events.
For those looking to cling to red clay for a little bit longer we have just the event for you in Switzerland. No Roger Federer this year as he does not need the extra ranking points nor is he testing out a new racquet. Federer was shocked in his opening match a year ago against Daniel Brands in a forgettable 65 minute match.
Mikhail Youzhny is the number one seed and defending champion in Gstaad. He is quite capable on clay as he is on all other surfaces. He's got some decent dirt-ballers such as Juan Monaco, Thomasz Bellucci and Federico Delbonis to content with in the top half of the draw.
In the bottom half the ATP World Tour welcomes back the self-proclaimed innocent Viktor Troicki who hopefully has learned his lesson about refusing to provide a blood sample when asked. He was fortunate enough to have his 18 month suspension reduced to 12 and to receive a wildcard for this event. He opens against sixth seeded Dominic Thiem from Austria.
Fernando Verdaso will try to get his season back on track as the fourth seed here in Gstaad. Other than winning a small tournament on green clay in Houston back in April, there has been little worth reporting from the thirty year old Spaniard so far in 2014.
Marcel Granollers is the second seed in the event and won this tournament in 2011.
Take the results from this tournament with a grain of salt. Clay court events are on their way out this year and a win here does not by any means translate to success at the final Grand Slam of the year in New York. These are players who are trying to pad their stats or bank accounts but clearly care little for what they may be able to accomplish at a major.
Ditto for Umag.
Number one seed Fabio Fognini will try to stick around a little longer than he did last week in Hamburg where he was defeated 6-4, 6-0 by the 150th ranked player in the world - Filip Krajinovic. A dismal effort from the defending champion to say the least. Fognini was a finalist here in Umag in 2013 and I would expect somewhat of a stronger effort this week as he tries to hold on to his current ranking of 15th in the world.
17 year old Alexander Zverev has received a special entry into the tournament due to his phenomenal effort last week in Hamburg where he reached the semi-finals before falling to David Ferrer. This kid has experienced the most prolific start to his career by a teenager since one Rafael Nadal did about ten years ago. He jumped 124 spots in the rankings up to his current of 161st in the ATP. Zverev started 2014 ranked in the 800s and won the Australian Open junior event. Looks like he's ready for the big leagues now.
In the bottom half of the draw the fans will no-doubt be pulling for Marin Cilic who won here in 2012. Tommy Robredo is the second seed and defending champion from a year ago. Every time I write anything negative about Robredo he goes on a serious run and manages to rediscover his top-twenty ranking and form. I'm done predicting anything for this guy, he is officially my kryptonite!
We're back in business here at ProTennisFan after some website issues earlier this year. Please check back with us during the summer swing for in-depth analysis of the ATP World Tour. You can also follow us on Twitter if you're so inclined.
Dolgopolov In Hot Water Over Instagram Pic
By Mike McIntyre
Wanted: new PR manager for Alexandr Dolgopolov.
It seems as though the 19th ranked Ukrainian has made a very poor judgement call with his use of social media. Dolgopolov posted the following picture on his Instagram account. Be warned that the picture is not appropriate to be viewed by children or in ones workplace.
The general consensus on Twitter on the translation of the words beneath the picture is, "childhood is over, bitches."
The first thing that crossed my mind when I saw this was that Dolgopolov's Instagram account had to have been hacked. I mean, what professional athlete would post such a vulgar and offensive photo on their public account? Then I saw the following article from changeovertennis.com and realized this is not the first time that Dolgolpolov has posted questionable materials online. I guess he just doesn't get it.
The fact that this picture is still up on Instagram more than 24 hours after it was posted is just as mind-blowing as the original post itself. Does Dolgopolov not have someone in his inner circle who might have suggested, "hey dude, maybe this isn't such a great idea?"
The two main issues (among the many) that I have with this image are the fact that it sexualizes children and that it is openly displayed in a place that children could view it. If I were a young fan of Dologopolov's and I saw that picture, I would have plenty of questions for my parents about its content. While the internet did not yet exist when I was a young tennis fan, I could never imagine finding something like that posted by one of my idols like Pete Sampras or Stefan Edberg. They both possessed two things that Dolgopolov appears to lack - common sense and class.
Of course I'm sure if social media existed back in the day, we would have had plenty of controversies similar to this one. Imagine Johnny Mac with Twitter during the 1970s and 80s! I'm sure Ilie Nastase and Jimmy Connors would have gotten in all kinds of trouble as well. But that was then and this is now.
Pro athletes are so much more in tune with the watchful eye of the media and of the damage that social media can have on ones public image. Dolgopolov seems to be oblivious to this fact. With his morals appearing to be about as low as his service toss, Dolgopolov - one would think - needs to seriously reconsider if having an Instagram account is such a good idea. An apology and removal of the picture in question might be nice as well.
Canadians Dominate at Wimbledon
By Mike McIntyre
While the term "dominate" might be a bit of a stretch, Canada can be proud to say that they have representation in the final four at Wimbledon in both the men's and the women's singles draws.
Just four years ago John McEnroe told me that, "If tennis was played on ice, Canada would have a top-ten player." Today thanks to victories on grass, not ice, Canada will have two players in the top-ten of professional tennis when the updated rankings come out Monday.
With her quater-final victory over Angelique Kerber, 20 year old Canadian starlet Genie Bouchard is going to jump into the top-ten on the WTA Tour next week and join Milos Raonic who broke into the top-ten on the ATP Tour in April of this year.
Also still alive in doubles action at Wimbledon are icon Daniel Nestor who is active in both the quarter-finals of the men's doubles with partner Nenad Zimonjic as well as the mixed doubles with Kristina Mladenovic. And don't forget Vasek Pospisil who along with American Jack Sock are also in the quarters of the men's doubles draw.
While Canada Day was July 1st, it is proving to be Canada Year in the world of professional tennis as seemingly every week on both the men's and women's tour there seems to be groundbreaking results for players from the Great White North.
Wawrinka Success Testament to Hard Work
If you were to look up Stanislas Wawrinka on Wikipedia and scroll down to the ‘Playing Style’ section you’d notice that, according to whoever wrote this entry, the Swiss star’s biggest fault is his lack of mental toughness. Having watched him win the Australian Open this week, I believe this line should now be scratched and never entered again.
The 28-year-old has, in the past year, shown facets to his game we did not think he had, hanging with and bettering those who had been considered all-round better players by fans of live tennis online. His stunning victory over Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals was the culmination of years of hard work, the majority of which did not look as though it had paid off.
At the 2012 Australian Open, Wawrinka was dumped out of the tournament in the third round by Nicholas Almagro and was considered as nothing more than “the other Swiss tennis player”. His remarkable rise shows he is way more than that.
Despite making it to consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals the Olympic double’s gold medallist is continually written off by tennis betting pundits. Minutes after his semi-final triumph over Tomas Berdych his stats when facing Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were dragged up, as if to dismiss him as a genuine title contender.
He may never have beaten Rafael Nadal but that record no longer matters. Warwinka had lost 14 out of 14 to Djokovic before this week but has now set that record straight as well.
What has gone on before should count for very little when you step out on court, and Wawrinka is a testament to that having put so many tough losses behind him to reach this point. Nadal started as the heavy favourite for Sunday’s final, and rightly so given his ability. The tag of favourite can count for very little though, as Juan Martin del Potro demonstrated when he won the US Open in 2009 against Federer.
Wawrinka has now become just the second man in the last five years from outside the ‘big four’ to win a Grand Slam. He can now certainly upgrade his status from ‘also ran’ to ‘contender’ amongst the tennis fraternity.
ATP Wrap Up: Brisbane, Chennai and Doha
By Mike McIntyre
It was more of the same for the start of the 2014 season on the ATP World Tour. World number one Rafael Nadal hoisted the trophy in Doha continuing his impressive return to the game following an eight month injury break that lasted from June of 2012 until February of 2013. In the 18 tournaments he has played since then, Rafa has won an astounding 11 and lost in the finals of 4 others.
In Doha, Nadal overcame his 2012 Wimbledon nemesis Lukas Rosol in the opening round, defeated a tricky Ernests Gulbis in the third round, survived a stiff challenge from Peter Gojowczyk in the semis and then finally toppled Gael Monfils in the finals, a guy who has historically had his number in this early season tournament. Nadal is simply en fuego and not likely to let-up anytime soon. The favourite at the Australian Open - you bet.
You can count world number three and four, David Ferrer and Andy Murray amongst those who found Doha to be a disappointment to the start of their seasons. Ferrer lost in the second round to German Daniel Brands while Murray also fell in his second match against another German, Florian Mayer. Ferrer should rebound quickly enough but I am a bit concerned for Murray as he recovers from back surgery late in 2013.
Gotta give the German contingent credit for their performance in Doha. Four of them made it to the quarter-finals and the rise of the previously (relatively) unknown Gojowczyk was something to see. It reminded me of the emergence of Jerzy Janowicz in Paris in 2012 or Federico Delbonis in Hamburg last summer. We'll have to wait and see if he can continue his early season success but so far he is the surprise player on the ATP Tour in 2014.
In Brisbane, Roger Federer made his first ever appearance at the event and did not disappoint by making it all the way to the finals. Still, Federer did not leave with the trophy at the level 250 event which must be largely viewed as a let-down. No Nadal, Djokovic or Murray to contend with and yet he could not secure the title.
In fairness, let's give credit to Aussie Lleyton Hewitt who was able to win his first trophy since 2010 and the 29th tourney win of his career. I can only imagine how satisfying this must be for Hewitt to do in front of his home fans and against arguably the greatest player of all-time. Could it be the last title of Hewitt's career? Not if he keeps playing this way. When you look at what 35 year old Tommy Haas has been able to do the past couple of years, there's no reason to think Hewitt can't be a level 250 and 500 contender for a little while longer.
In Chennai, Stan Wawrinka continued his string of success where he won the title for the second time in his career and in his third final there. For the second year in-a-row Wawrinka is the first Swiss player on the ATP World Tour to capture a title. Who would have thought that day would ever come? He has quietly established himself as a bona-fide top-ten player and when we talk about the next player not named Nadal, Djokovic, Murray or Federer to win a Slam, Wawrinka's name must now be mentioned as a viable option.
One more week until the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne. Keep checking back with us at ProTennisFan as we will take a look at this week's tournaments in Sydney and Auckland. Be sure to follow us on Twitter as well for regular updates and analysis.
Federer Releases 2014 Schedule
By Mike McIntyre
Roger Federer released his 2014 ATP World Tour schedule on Saturday which reveals the world number-six plans on entering sixteen tournaments this season. The total is the same as what he played a year ago, though with a couple of location changes.
Added to his travel itinerary in 2014 are Brisbane, Miami and Toronto while he has ditched the events in Rotterdam, Hamburg and Gstaad.
Federer has made a few adjustments in the off-season in the hopes of climbing back towards the top-four in the rankings, thus giving himself a better chance to add at least one more Grand Slam to his incredible total which currently stands at seventeen majors.
Former world number-one and six-time Grand Slam champion Stefan Edberg is now a part of Federer's coaching team. Edberg will join Federer for the Australian Open which begins January 13th as well as at least eight other weeks of tennis on the ATP circuit this year.
What will Edberg be able to bring to Federer's game that we haven't seen before? Perhaps nothing tactical but rather a fresh mental perspective and a calmness that the Sweded carried with him throughout his fifteen years on the professional tour.
In the following clip, Federer talks about the process of uniting with Stefan Edberg for the 2014 season and is clearly excited to work with his self-professed childhood idol.
Federer also reveals some of the problems he experienced in 2013 and shares his positive outlook on the year ahead.
Another change for Federer is going to be a renewed attempt at using a 98 square-inch frame from Wilson as he briefly dabbled with last summer before switching back to his old faithful one of 90 square-inches. Federer says he has felt confident after two and a half weeks using the larger frame and only time will tell if this is a permanent change or just another experiment to jump-start his once invincible game.
Federer kicks-off his season in Brisbane where he is appearing for the very first time in his professional career.
A New Chapter: 2014 ATP World Tour Ready to Go
By Mike McIntyre
Despite only lasting for little over a month, the layoff between the ATP World Tour finals in November and the start of the 2014 season (which actually begins at the end of the 2013 calendar year) seems to last an eternity to tennis enthusiasts. Well the wait is finally over as the men get back to business in Brisbane, Chennai and Doha this coming week.
The Brisbane International begins on Sunday December 29th and features world number six Roger Federer as the top seed. Federer might be the best number six player there ever was and is no doubt entered in this event as a sign that he plans on making big gains in the world rankings. While regaining his number-one ranking is likely out of grasp for the 32 year-old Swiss maestro, he definitely has the ability to get back into the top-four which would make his life so much easier when the Grand Slams come around.
Federer has shared some major news over the past week as he revealed to his fans that his wife Mirka is expecting their third child in 2014 and also that he is adding his self-professed childhood idol Stefan Edberg to his coaching entourage for at least ten weeks this season.
Federer opens his season with a first round bye and will then face the winner between veteran Jarkko Nieminen and wildcard James Duckworth. Sam Querrey or Dmitry Tursunov could be his quater-final opponent, followed by perhaps fourth seeded Kevin Anderson in the semis.
Locals will be hoping that Lleyton Hewitt makes it to the finals in the other half of the draw, although look for Gilles Simon, second seeded Kei Nishikori or disgraced dope-offender Marin Cilic to say otherwise. Incredibly this is Hewitt's 17th season on the ATP World Tour!
The Qatar Exxon Mobil Open begins play on Monday and can boast about having world number-one Rafael Nadal in their draw, along with world number four Andy Murray (who returns from back surgery), defending champion Richard Gasquet as well as world number three, yes that's right - #3, David Ferrer.
Nadal opens against Lukas Rosol who defeated the Spaniard in the second round of Wimbledon in 2012 in a match that shocked the tennis world. Nadal comes into the event after losing days ago to Ferrer in Abu Dhabi at the Mubadala Tennis Championship, an exhibition tournament that offers up big prize money and appearance fees to its annual field of six players.
Nadal defeated Jo-Wilfrid Tsonga in a consolation match for third place to earn a little solace for his trip to the U.A.E. In short, I wouldn't expect Rosol to give Nadal anywhere near the same level of trouble that he did on grass two seasons ago when Rafa was struggling with knee issues. The loss to Rosol was Nadal's last match played in 2012 as he was forced to shut his season down to properly recover. Nadal could face the tricky Ernests Gulbis in the quarter-finals before meeting fourth seeded Tomas Berdych in the semis if the draw holds true.
In the bottom half look for Andy Murray to quickly find his game against wildcard Mousa Shanan Zayed from Qatar. Aged 19 and with an ATP rank of 2129 in the world, the only thing that can prevent Zayed from being double-bageled is if Murray is feeling pity towards his over-matched opponent. In reality, this is probably not the match Murray is looking for as he returns to the tour following his back surgery last year.
The bottom quarter of this draw is particularly loaded, with unseeded names like Gael Monfils, Nikolay Davydenko and Alexandr Dolgopolov floating around along with fifth seeded Gasquet and second seeded Ferrer. Tennis fans in Qatar are definitely in for an early season treat this year.
The Aircel Chennai Open also begins on Monday but has a much weaker field that the one in Brisbane and Doha. Top seed Stan Wawrinka should not be troubled en route towards the finals as his biggest obstacle seems to be fifth seeded Canadian youngster Vasek Pospisil. While Pospisil made huge strides last year, he could very well suffer a step back in 2014 as his opponents will no longer be taking him lightly. Third seed Fabio Fognini is also in the top half of the draw but is rarely seen as a threat on hard courts.
In the bottom half, second seed Mikhail Youzhny is a veteran presence who can still hit the ball pretty darn well. Somdev Devvarman will get lots of attention from his home partisans and media members, but otherwise Benoit Paire is the only other recognizable name that could perhaps make some noise.
Check back with us soon here at ProTennisFan for more analysis and previews of the very first week of ATP action and enjoy whatever tennis you are able to catch on tv or online.
Federer Adds Edberg to Coaching Staff
By Mike McIntyre
Roger Federer announced today that he will add his childhood idol Stefan Edberg to his coaching staff for the 2014 season.
The 47 year old Edberg who hoisted six Grand Slam singles titles during his playing career will join Federer at the Australian Open beginning January 13th in Melbourne.
The Edberg/Federer pairing first surfaced earlier in December with a week of training in Dubai. At the time Edberg said, "If we can, I would be more than happy. The idea of the (training) camp was that I would give my views and come up with some feedback. He wants to try some new things."
Trying new things is a must for Federer as last season proved his old routine was no longer getting the job done. He lost in the second round at Wimbledon and at the U.S. Open failed to move past the fourth round. He closed out the year ranked sixth in the world, his lowest year-end ranking since 2003.
After parting ways with coach Paul Annacone in October, Federer was in no rush to bring on fresh blood. He kept long-time advisor and Swiss Davis Cup captain Severin Luthi who will remain the constant on his team in 2014.
Edberg will join the Federer camp for a minimum of ten weeks according to a post by Federer on his official website.
Andy Murray proved in recent years that hiring a former great can pay immediate dividends. After taking on former world number-one Ivan Lendl as his coach in 2012, Murray went on to win his first Grand Slam title that summer along with an Olympic gold medal. He continued his successful partnership with Lendl last year by becoming the first Brit in 77 years to win Wimbledon.
After losing his number-one ranking in October, Novak Djokovic approached another legend from the 1980s, Boris Becker, to be his new coach. Becker is best known for making the finals at Wimbledon seven times, capturing the title on three occasions.
Regardless of the immediate results of these two new coaching partnerships, watching some of the great tennis rivalries from the 1980s take on new form today should be something to keep tennis fans and pundits alike enthralled this coming season.
For the record, Becker held a 25-10 career head-to-head record against Edberg, while to date, Federer narrowly leads Djokovic 16-15.
If you combine player/coach career statistics the Federer/Edberg team leads the Djokovic/Becker duo in terms of win-loss ratio, career titles and earnings.
Murray could go one better in Melbourne
The betting markets seem to suggest that the forthcoming Australian Open in Melbourne from the 13th to the 26th of January will be a straightforward contest between three-time reigning champion Novak Djokovic and the back-to-form Rafael Nadal who beat the Djoker so convincingly in the U.S. Open final at Flushing Meadows in September.
In fact, if you look at the advanced betting market with the biggest online betting exchange in the world, Betfair, the only other player on the men’s side of the draw they give a cat in hell’s chance is Britain’s Andy Murray. Currently, Djokovic is around 6/4, with Nadal a little further out at 2/1, followed by quite a big percentage gap to Murray at a best priced 6/1.
For those who watch the game closely, that 6/1 represents outstandingly good value if you enjoy a wager on the tennis now and again.
Remember that Murray has been on the losing side of the net in three of the last four finals in Melbourne, losing twice to Djokovic and once to Roger Federer back in 2009. This is a tournament in which the Scot really excels. The problem is that the man who excels a little more, Novak Djokovic, keeps getting in the way.
But of course that wasn’t the case at the Flushing Meadows 2012 final, nor in the London Olympics, nor at Wimbledon this summer when Murray well and truly overcame the Djoker’s Grand Slam hoodoo with a 3-0 convincing win. So perhaps Murray has lanced that particular boil?
Also; consider that Murray had to have surgery on his back at the end of the summer and wasn’t really back to his best for the U.S. Open. He will be determined to prove that he is now – and he could very easily go one better in Melbourne, so 6-1 looks mightily generous.
Raonic Rewarded for Fine Year
Runs to the fourth round at the Australian and US Opens in 2013 have helped Milos Raonic to clinch Tennis Canada’s male player of the year award for the third year in a row.
The 22-year-old also won through to the third round of the French Open but was surprisingly knocked out in the second round at Wimbledon by the Dutch player, Igor Sijsling. He reached as high as ten in the world rankings in August before ending the season in 11th spot.
He also won two ATP tournaments, surprising line betting pundits to reach the final of the Rogers Cup for the first time, and helped Canada reach the semi-finals of the Davis Cup.
Raonic beat Tommy Haas in the San Jose Open final, his third successful victory in the tournament, and Tomas Berdych in the final of the Thailand Open.
“It feels great to be honoured with this award from Tennis Canada for another year,” said Raonic. “It was definitely a good season for me, and it’s been incredible to receive so much support from Canadian fans.
“Being able to play at home in the Davis Cup and Rogers Cup, it was amazing to see how passionate Canadians can be about tennis. I’m looking forward to 2014 now, and working hard to achieve everything I can.”
Meanwhile, Vasek Pospisil was named as Canada’s most improved player and Daniel Nestor was handed the accolade for the doubles player of the year.
Pospisil, an increasingly popular figure with fans of live tennis online, improved his ranking by more than 100 places in 2013, ending the year at a career high of 32 after winning his way through to three semi-finals.
Nestor won the doubles award for the 13th consecutive year after winning one tournament and becoming the first player to reach 900 career doubles wins.
Federer Secures 12th Straight World Finals Spot
Roger Federer has ensured he will play his 12th straight ATP World Tour Finals after coming through a tense second round clash against Kevin Anderson in the Paris Masters.
The Swiss star needed to reach the third round in order to book his place at London’s O2 Arena this month and did so courtesy of a hard-fought straight sets victory against the big-hitting South African.
Federer has never had to wait until the last minute to book his place at the season-ending showpiece, but a difficult year meant he needed a strong display in Paris to secure his place among the top eight to play at the O2 in London this month.
The former world number one has not been anywhere near his best this year, with some fans of live tennis online calling on the 17-time grand slam winner to hang up his racket. However, Federer has ignored his critics and merely focused on ensuring he finishes a difficult year on a relative high by reaching the Tour Finals.
"It feels great, I'm so happy, it's been a tough year so this is a highlight because this was one of the big goals I set for myself this year so it's great to have made it," Federer said after his crucial victory in Paris.
"I don't know if I'm doing anything wrong or maybe it's just a time where my opponents play well when they need to. Overall I played solid and it's just such a minor detail that it's hard to say what it is."
The six-time Tour Finals champion will now go into the final tournament of the season looking to bounce back from his defeat in last year’s final at the hands of the favourite in the betting, Novak Djokovic. And it would take a brave punter to completely rule out Federer’s chances of competing for the title in this year’s tournament.
Nalbandian Hangs up his Racquet
Former world number three, David Nalbandian, has announced his retirement from the game after enjoying a successful 13-year career.
The 31-year-old Argentinian won 11 titles and reached the 2002 Wimbledon final, when he was beaten by Lleyton Hewitt, as well as reaching four other Grand Slam semi-finals.
Nalbandian went through to the last four of the French Open in 2004 and 2006 as well as reaching the US Open semi-final in 2003 and the same stage of the Australian Open three years later.
A well-known player among tennis fans on betfair.com, he reached number three in the world in March 2006 and finished in the year-end top ten of the ATP rankings on five occasions.
However, he has been troubled by a shoulder injury recently and said, when confirming his decision to quit the game: "I can play matches, but my shoulder won't let me continue my career. I can't play like that at a professional level.”
"It's tough because I have to announce my retirement from the sport that gave me so much. I'm very grateful."
Nalbandian represented Argentina in three Davis Cup teams that reached the final - in 2004, 2008, 2011 - and he has fond memories of those achievements, adding: "It's the event that I felt was different from the others.
“The pressure and the support of the people, it's something unique. It's a shame Argentina couldn't win it, but that's the way it was."
Nalbandian reached his last final at the 2013 Brasil Open in Sao Paulo, when the perennial favourite on betfair, Rafael Nadal, beat him. However, after helping his country beat France in the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup earlier this year, he was forced to undergo an operation on his right shoulder.
Nalbandian has announced that he will play a series of farewell exhibition matches against Nadal, which are scheduled to start on the 21st of November.
Murray Ready to Dominate in 2014After deciding to end his season early in order to undergo an operation on his long-running back injury, Andy Murray will begin 2014 free from injury and ready to build on another huge year.
The Scotsman underwent minor surgery on the injury in order to avoid aggravating the problem further, ruling him out of the season-ending ATP Tour Finals in London next month.
The back issue that Murray has struggled with is an injury that has plagued the 26-year old for a few years in varying degrees, but flared up badly in May and ruled him out of the French Open.
The problem did not stop Murray from finally winning Wimbledon the following month, but played a role in preventing the 2012 US Open champion from defending his title this year.
But while he played a key role in Great Britain qualifying for the elite World Group of the Davis Cup with a crucial victory in Croatia, it was evident Murray was struggling with the problem and the decision was taken to end his year early and attempt to solve the injury once and for all.
With his season now ended, Murray will be targeting a return to action in good time to get himself back fully fit ahead of the Australian Open in January, in a tournament that will have the three-time losing finalist right up there among the favourites in the tennis betting.
After the opening Grand Slam of the season, Murray will likely line-up for Leon Smith’s GB team for their Davis Cup clash against the United States.
It mustn’t be underestimated how much of a role this back injury has had on the two-time Grand Slam winner this season and those who bet on tennis will know a fully fit Murray could well be next year’s dominant force in the game.
Serena Relieved to end “Disappointing” Year on High Note
Serena Williams admitted she was "honoured" have drawn level with Roger Federer’s 17 Grand Slam titles by winning the US Open against Victoria Azarenka, putting herself just one Grand Slam title behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.
Williams added the US Open title to the French Open crown to end another season at the top of the WTA rankings, but the 31-year old insisted she wasn’t entirely happy with how 2013 had gone. Despite losing only four matches all season, two of those defeats have come in Grand Slams, Williams claims she would have been disappointed if she hadn't won at Flushing Meadows for a sensational fifth time.
While admitting she was delighted to have equalled Federer’s 17 Grand Slam titles, Williams said that 2013 wouldn’t have been a success if she hadn’t been victorious in New York.
"It's an honour to be even with Roger. He's been such a great champion throughout the years, and he's just an unbelievable competitor and he's still playing, and he can probably still win more."
"I felt almost disappointed with my year, to be honest. So I definitely feel a lot better with at least a second Grand Slam under my belt this year,” admitted Williams.
But while the Grand Slams may be over for the season, there is still plenty of intriguing tournaments left to play, most notably the WTA Championships in Istanbul in November. With so much live tennis online still to come before the end of the year, the tennis betting options available offer plenty of opportunities.
In terms of the WTA Championships, as long as Serena can stay free from injury between now and November then she has to be the heavy favourite heading into the tournament in Turkey.
Federer Falls to Robredo at U.S. Open
By Mike McIntyre
A disappointing season of tennis from Roger Federer took another hit on labor day Monday as he was beaten in the fourth round of the U.S. Open by 19th seed Tommy Robredo 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-4 on Louis Armstrong Stadium. That's the same Tommy Robredo that has lost in all previous ten career meetings against the 7th seeded Federer.
Despite a subtle point imbalance of 110 for Robredo to 101 for Federer, the Swiss superstar was only able to convert 2 of 16 break point opportunities in the match. He would lose in straight sets at the Open for the first time since 2002 when he was beaten by Max "The Beast" Mirnyi.
The loss marks the end of a Grand Slam season where Federer failed to advance to a single major final. That is also a first for Federer since 2002. He lost in the semis of Australia (Murray), the quarters at the French (Tsonga), the 2nd round at Wimbledon (Stakhovsky) and now in the 4th here at Flushing Meadows to Robredo.
The loss denies tennis fans the chance to have seen Federer take-on longtime rival Rafael Nadal in what would have been an epic quarter-final Wednesday night. The dynamic duo had never faced each other in New York and perhaps they never will.
Federer made no excuses after the match while talking to the press saying that his loss had nothing to do with either playing in a smaller venue like Armstrong or his back which felt fine throughout the tournament. Instead he said plainly that, "It just ended up being a bad combination of many things today."
For Federer it will be a real test to go back to the drawing board with coach Paul Annacone and the rest of his team. Does he return to testing the larger frame Wilson racquet that he experimented with following his even more shocking loss at Wimbledon? Is it time perhaps for him to find a new coach to help change the recent string of surprise losses? Or does Roger simply need to go out and continue to play more matches this fall in order to re-discover his confidence and top-four form?
Pospisil Amazingly Into Rogers Cup Semifinals
By Mike McIntyre
Vasek Pospisil's career just took a meteoric rise thanks in part to a match he barely even had to play. The twenty-three year old Canadian, who has been working his tail off over the past couple of weeks, moved into the semi-finals of his first Masters 1000 event on the ATP World Tour when his opponent Nikolay Davydenko retired trailing 0-3 in the first set. Davydenko was suffering from a case of bronchitis, not pospisilitis, and was unable to breathe properly enough to continue the match.
Speaking about the retirement after the match, Pospisil admitted that it came at a good time for him as he too was dealing with his share of aches and pains.
"It came at a perfect time to have a bit of a rest," he said. "Even those three games, I was really trying to catch my breath. Felt like I had a bit of sore legs, making me a little bit tired. So it came at a great time."
Pospisil came into the tournament ranked a career-high 71st in the world but will now see some major movement up the rankings. By making the quarter-finals he was guaranteed to be boosted to approximately 57th in the world according to ATP stats guru Greg Sharko. By making the semis he will now move to around 40th and could come awfully close to the top thirty in the world should he continue winning. Talk about a week of tennis that will change your life forever.
While tennis fans in Canada have come to appreciate Pospisil's role on their Davis Cup squad over the past couple of years, those outside of the country likely aren't too familiar with what he brings to the table or has accomplished up to this point in his young career. Here's a quick recap.
Pospisil, who hails from Vernon, British Columbia, first popped up on the ATP rankings in March 2007 at the age of 16. Pospisil was playing futures tournaments that year but would get his first taste of the big leagues in 2008 while going through qualifying at the Rogers Cup. It was more futures in 2009 where Pospisil saw his ranking crack the top 1000 in the world for the first time. At the end of 2009 is when he showed the first signs of consistent accomplishment as a pro when he won four futures tournaments in-a-row and vaulted into the top 400 in the rankings.
In 2010 he would win a couple of more futures events and enter the qualifying of a few ATP tournaments. Canadian tennis fans likely first noticed Pospisil in doubles action at the Rogers Cup that summer where he partnered with Milos Raonic to defeat the mega-star tandem of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal by a score of 10-8 in a champions tiebreak.
A year later in 2011 he would be playing challenger events instead of futures which was a step up and would also win one round of qualifying at a little tournament called Wimbledon that you may have heard of. Pospisil made his Davis Cup debut that year going 1-1 in a tie against Ecuador. He was given his first wildcard into the Rogers Cup and surprisingly defeated veteran ATP player Juan Ignacio Chela in the opening round before falling to his idol Roger Federer in the second round. The 5-7, 3-6 scoreline was respectable however and gave Pospisil the confidence to know that he could handle himself at this level. He used that confidence to win all three qualifying matches at the U.S. Open later that summer and then defeated Lukas Rosol in the first round before falling to Feliciano Lopez. Pospisil's amazing break-out year was not over yet as he would play the hero for Team Canada in their Davis Cup tie against Israel, winning twice in singles and once in doubles to help them advance back into the world group where they remain today.
In 2012, Pospisil would play in his first Masters 1000 event apart from the Rogers Cup which was in Indian Wells. He would break into the top 100 in the world in April and represent Canada in the London Olympics where he lost to David Ferrer in his opening match.
That brings us to this year where Pospisil started ranked just inside the top 130 in the world but struggled out of the gates and let a two set lead slip away in his singles match of the quarter-final Davis Cup tie against Italy's Andreas Seppi. In April he got close to the top hundred again with a tournament win in South Africa and then he qualified for his first French Open where he lost 8-6 in the fifth set against clay court vet Horacio Zeballos. You got the sense however that Pospisil was starting to knock at the door of bigger or at least more consistent success when he won the opening round at Wimbledon as well and then lost another tight five set match to established pro Mikhail Youzhny. Last week at a challenger event in Vancouver Pospisil would win the title bringing as much confidence as he possibly could into the Rogers Cup where we stand today.
Now with impressive wins over big-time players like John Isner, Radek Stepanek, Tomas Berdych and Davydenko today, he amazingly finds himself on the verge of the finals of Canada's biggest event, the Rogers Cup and it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Pospisil's gigantic smiles after his victories this week reveal a guy who is just loving every unpredictable moment. His comments after his matches display an innocence that is hard not to like as well. For example when asked about the $135,000 he has made thus far in Montreal, Pospisil revealed, "Yeah, I had no idea how much I made until somebody told me in the TV booth. I was like, Oh, really? Wow!"Wow indeed.
Later when asked what he would have said if someone had told him before the event that he'd be in the semi-finals he was honest in replying, "That they're probably crazy, to make the semifinals here (laughter). Winning in Vancouver was something I wanted to do. I knew I had a realistic shot of doing that in front of my friends and family. This is a little bit of a different situation, coming in as a wild card, playing against guys that I don't get to play with too often. Yeah, definitely would think they lost their minds a little."
Pospisil will now face friend and Davis Cup teammate Raonic who earned a tough three set win against Ernests Gulbis today. Canadian tennis fans will get a match-up that could only have been dreamed about coming into the tournament. The vibe in Montreal should be an interesting one tomorrow as fans might be confused as to where they should direct their encouragement.
Asked about the possibility of playing Milos before his match against Gulbis had ended, Pospisil said that it would be an, "Exciting match. Two Canadians in the semifinal, one guaranteed to be in the final. Historic moment for tennis in Canada...I think it would be more special if it was Milos for the crowd, the tournament and everybody."
Pospisil and Raonic have faced each other four times before but not in a regular ATP match. The record stands at 3-1 in favour of Pospisil, although their last meeting was back in 2010 before Milos really became Milos. Both will be dealing with their own respective hindrances, as Raonic felt numbness in his right shoulder two nights ago against Del Potro and Pospisil has been battling fatigue since arriving from Vancouver.
While Raonic will be considered the favourite on paper due to his more noticeable rise into the top twenty of the men's game, Pospisil knows his opponent's game inside and out and both men are playing in their first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final, so nerves could affect either one. While Pospisil's serve isn't at the same level of ferociousness as Raonic's, it is still quite a weapon and better than your average player on tour. Pospisil moves better than Raonic and is just as comfortable at net given all the play he's accumulated alongside Daniel Nestor.
With his win already this week over a huge server like Isner, I must admit I like Pospisil's chances at defying all the odds to advance to the finals. I just re-read the last sentence several times as I still cannot believe that this is in fact the reality we are facing for Sunday. It truly is a special time for Canadian tennis.
Check back with us this weekend for more news and analysis from Montreal and the WTA tournament in Toronto. You can follow us on Twitter as well for regular updates.
Thursday at the Rogers Cup in Pictures
By Mike McIntyre
Eight women made their way into the quarter-finals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto today. Here's a look at some of the highlights as we head into the final three days of action.
3rd seed Agnieszka Radwanska was up against 14th seed Sloane Stephens in the opening match of the day
Check out the intensity in those eyes!
Radwanska was more consistent however and would prevail 6-1, 7-6.
Kristina Mladenovic was on the practice courts with Jamie Hampton despite being knocked out of the event in the first round. Mladenovic won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon this year with Canadian Daniel Nestor.
Cooling off was key for players today as it was the hottest day of the event so far.
The Williams sisters practicing side-by-side. Venus was ousted by Kirsten Flipkens while Serena was set to play the Belgian later today to try and exact some family revenge.
Venus checking her text messages (?) on a break.
Serena working on her serve.
Serena's long time hitting partner Aleksandar "Sascha" Bajin
Stretching is key, especially when you've been off the tour for over two months with a back injury.
Venus' hitting partner wasn't quite as jacked as Serena's, but he got the job done.
Poor Daniel Nestor. Two hours before the end of the auction and still no bids to hit with one of the greatest doubles players of all time.
Looks like Milos Raonic's big win over Juan Martin Del Potro went straight to his head!
5th seed Sara Errani of Italy does whatever she can to win her match against Alize Cornet, which she does 7-5, 7-6.
I hate when this happens!
Errani freaked out on Cornet at 5-5 in the 2nd set asking, "You always say 'allez', but now you say 'vamos'. Why you say 'vamos'?" Cornet replied, "I always say 'vamos'!"
Dominika Cibulkova stretching after her morning hit.
After Vasek Pospisil, the 2nd best smile of the day.
Daniela Hantuchova practicing ahead of her doubles match
Martina Hingis working on her overhead smash
Potentially the professional tennis player with the most amount of fans. Li Na is absolutely huge in China. She took on Ana Ivanovic on Thursday.
Ivanovic would let a 5-2 third set lead slip and fall to her opponent 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5).
Wimbledon champ Marion Bartoli did not bring enough racquets to her match. Had to actually ask her opponent Magdalena Rybarikova if she could borrow hers for a game! Rybarikova was all class and allowed it. She also won the match when Bartoli withdrew due to an ab injury.
Mladenovic is good friends with Bartoli and this was her reaction courtside after she encouraged Bartoli to challenge one of her opponent's shots that was called in. The replay showed that it was in fact out. Nice to have friends, eh?
Serena Williams destroyed Kirsten Flipkens 6-0, 6-3 avenging her sister Venus' loss to the Belgian from earlier in the week. Williams hit the practice court after the match as she said she was not happy with her own return game.
Jelena Jankovic sarcastically reacts to a fan's comments (in Serbian) after losing a point to Sorana Cirstea of Romania.
Cirstea, who beat Caroline Wozniacki in 2hrs 56 minutes the night before, gets another huge win. This time 6-3, 6-4 over Jankovic.
Serena Williams in press. The black purse at her feet is actually carrying her dog Chip. No joke.
Dominika Cibulkova celebrates defeating higher ranked Roberta Vinci for a spot in the quarter-finals.
Hingis and Hantuchova would lose their second round doubles match for the second tournament in a row of Hingis' comeback. The pair is gearing up for the U.S. Open.
In the final match of the night, vet Samantha Stosur (one of the fittest players on tour) fell to Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-3.
Keep checking back over the final three days of the Rogers Cup for more images and reports. If you're not already, follow us on Twitter as well for regular updates here in Toronto.
August 8, 2013 in Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Daniela Hantuchova, Dominika Cibulkova, Kristina Mladenovic, Martina Hingis, Rogers Cup, Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams | Permalink | Comments (0)
Rogers Cup Reaches Third Round in Toronto
By Mike McIntyre
The Rogers Cup in Toronto has reached the third round and will see 16 players battle it out for spots in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
Starting the day off at Rexall Centre will be 3rd seeded Agnieszka Radwanska from Poland against 14th seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States. Radwanska has a 2-0 career head-to-head against the young American though both victories took three sets to accomplish. Radwanska easily dispatched the hard hitting but error prone Yanina Wickmayer on Tuesday night while Stephens took out Mona Barthel in a match that went the distance. Radwanska has been looking sharp this week and I'd expect her to get past Stephens today.
Over on the Grandstand court, Alize Cornet of France will see if she can continue to deliver upsets against 5th seeded Sara Errani. Cornet defeated 11th seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko in the second round in straight sets while Errani took out Klara Zakopalova 6-2, 7-6 yesterday. Errani has won two of the three meetings against Cornet and should be favored to move on today.
Beginning no earlier than 1pm on Centre Court, the 4th seeded Li Na from China will face 16th seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia. The two have only met once before, on clay back in 2006 in a match that Ivanovic was forced to retire after trailing 1-6. Neither player has dropped a set yet this week here in Toronto. Coin toss in this one, although don't forget that Li Na did make the finals a year ago in Montreal.
The second match on the Grandstand is between Wimbledon winner and 7th seed Marion Bartoli against the unheralded Magadalena Rybarikova of Slovakia. This is their seventh career meeting with Bartoli holding a 4-2 advantage. Look for Bartoli to advance with ease as her confidence is huge at the moment.
World number one Serena Williams will take to the court not before 2:30pm and faces Kirsten Flipkens the 13th seed. Flipkens ruined any chance of an all-Williams match-up when she dropped Venus in the opening round 0-6, 6-4, 6-2. Will she be able to defeat two Williams' in one tournament? Don't count on it. This will be the first career meeting between the two but I wouldn't expect it to last too long.
Jelena Jankovic the 15th seed will be up against Sorana Cirstea who out-lasted Caroline Wozniacki in a match that lasted 2 hours and 56 minutes Wednesday night. Cirstea saved two match points against Wozniacki and we'll see if her good fortune continues today against the talented Jankovic. The pair have split their previous four meetings although Jankovic has won the last two in a row on hard court.
Dominika Cilbulkova and Roberta Vinci have played each other more than any other third round combo here in Toronto. This will be their eighth match against one another with Vinci holding the 5-2 lead. Vinci in fact has won the last five straight and that includes victories on clay, grass and hard court. That being said, Cilbulkova has been striking the ball awfully hard all week and is coming off an excellent performance in Stanford two weeks ago where she won the title by defeating Radwanska in the final. I can see her pulling off the mild upset here today.
At night, Petra Kvitova will play Sam Stosur in the last of the third round matches. Kvitova dashed the hopes of Canadian tennis fans by knocking off Eugenie Bouchard last night in straight sets 6-3, 6-2. She leads Stosur 4-1 in their previous encounters although Stosur won their most recent match on clay in Rome earlier this year. Stosur is coming in hot with a tournament win in Carlsbad and will have a great shot at upsetting her higher ranked opponent today.
Check back with us often here at ProTennisFan for more updates and be sure to follow us on Twitter as well.
Tuesday at the Rogers Cup in Pictures
By Mike McIntyre
First round matches continued today at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, while some second round matches also got underway. Here are some of the photos I was able to take on day two of the tournament.
World number one Serena Williams in practice this morning. Won't see action until Wednesday night.
Qualifier Petra Martic of Croatia has had enough of 11th seed Maria Kirilenko.
Not many fans on the Grandstand court at 11:30am on a Tuesday. Sparse crowds have been contagious through the first two days of the tournament which is unfortunate as the tennis has been terrific.
Kirilenko (who happens to be engaged to Russian hockey player Alex Ovechkin) stayed focused throughout the match. Check out the heavy tape on her left knee!
Big serve considering her slight frame.
Anastasia Rodionova was doing her best impersonation of Bethanie Mattek-Sands with her black knee-high socks.
Umpire Kader Nouni has without a doubt the coolest voice on the WTA Tour. Looks pretty badass too.
Two time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova getting worked on during a medical timeout during the third set of her match against American Lauren Davis. Davis was up 3-0 when this happened. Coincidence...I think not.
Davis didn't look impressed about the interruption. Or maybe it was the quality of the umbrella she had to sit under?
Davis would win the match against her more experienced opponent by a score of 3-6, 7-5, 7-5. Due to some funny scheduling with the qualifiers, it was the second time that Davis had defeated Kuznetsova here in Toronto this week - once in qualies and now again in the main draw.
Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia leaps through the air as she volleys the ball back towards opponent Angelique Kerber, the 8th seed, from Germany.
Cibulkova would earn the tough victory, 6-7, 6-2, 7-5 to advance to the third round. We had her picked for the quarterfinals in our tournament preview based on hard court play in 2013.
Venus Williams made her return to the WTA Tour today, playing in her first match since the French Open.
Williams raced out to take the first set 6-0 in 22 minutes. Why don't I look that good after a two and a half month layoff?
Unfortunately Venus couldn't keep it up and her opponent, world No. 13 Kirsten Flipkens would win 0-6, 6-4, 6-2 to deny tennis fans the possibility of an all-Williams 3rd round match-up.
Martina Hingis in her second tournament appearance since coming out of retirement. She and partner Daniela Hantuchova defeated singles power-houses Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova in straight sets to advance.
Hantuchova was lethal at the net.
Both players confirmed they would like this partnership to continue into the 2014 season, though Hingis said a return to singles was not going to happen. "I'm not 17 anymore," she said smiling.
The Polish contingent was out to support Agnieszka Radwanska. Here tennis fan Dariusz Grabka proudly shows off his colours.
Radwanska would not disappoint her fans as she cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium.
It was a tough day at the office for Wickmayer who has been struggling to find consistency this year.
Closing time at the Rogers Cup. See you tomorrow!
Keep checking back with us for more images of the Rogers Cup this week in Toronto. Follow us on Twitter as well for regular updates from around the grounds.
Monday at the Rogers Cup in Pictures
By Mike McIntyre
The stars of the WTA Tour got into the action on Monday in Toronto as round one of the Rogers Cup began. Here are a few shots from around the grounds of the Rexall Centre.
Four Canadian women are in the draw this year, led by Eugenie Bouchard who at the age of 19 is already ranked 62nd in the world. Stephanie Dubois and Sharon Fichman play each other in the first round on Tuesday guaranteeing at least one Canuck moving on.
Flavia Pennetta takes out the younger Radwanska in the first match completed on Centre Court. Take a look at the first serve percentage by the Italian though...wow. Something tells me the statistician was sleeping on the job!
Check back with us throughout the week for updates on all Rogers Cup action and be sure to follow us on Twitter as well for timely updates.
Rogers Cup WTA Draw Analysis
By Mike McIntyre
The Rogers Cup is ready to begin in Toronto on Monday where Petra Kvitova is the defending champion and Serena Williams is the number one seed. With both Vika Azarenka and Maria Sharapova having to withdraw due to injuries, many will be expecting a Serena victory by the time Sunday comes around.
As one of the top eight seeds in the tournament, Williams received a first round bye and will play the winner between qualifier Chanele Scheepers and Francesca Schiavone. Schiavone won the French Open in 2010 and then lost there in the finals in 2011, the same year she reached her career high ranking of 4th in the world. Clearly stronger on clay, the Italian is now ranked 55th in the world but still represents a quality opponent should she face Serena in round two.
This quarter of the draw has not just one, by two Williams sisters in it. Venus makes her first tournament appearance since the French Open and could face Serena in the third round. The two will play in a doubles exhibition on Monday night against former world number one Monica Seles and Canadian sensation Genie Bouchard. They are not however entered in the office Rogers Cup doubles draw.
Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli will bring her two-handed forehand and backhand to Toronto and is also in this section of the draw as the 7th seed. She will face the winner between qualifier Lauren Davis and former Grand Slam champion and lucky loser Svetlana Kuznetsova. Oddly enough, Davis defeated Kuznetsova on Sunday in the final round of qualifying, but as the Russian was the highest ranked player in the qualifying draw, she takes a spot that was vacated in the main draw by Vika Azarenka's last minute withdrawal. Look for the veteran to make the necessary adjustments to earn the victory over Davis this time.
First Quarter Prediction: Serena Williams d. Bartoli
In the next quadrant of the draw, Agnieszka Radwanska will look to get her confidence going as she aims for her first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open later this month. The third seed will have a tough opening match as she will face the winner between Yanina Wickmayer and Laura Robson. Wickmayer was once ranked as high as 12th in the world and has three career titles to her name. The 23 year old has still not reached her peak and while currently only ranked 57th in the world I feel that she is due for a breakthrough at some point. Robson for her part represents the future of British tennis on the WTA Tour and at only 19 years of age is the 32nd ranked player in the world. Wickmayer defeated Robson in their only career meeting back in 2010 on grass and should expect a much tougher match this time around. This match-up is one I would recommend to anyone attending on Monday and has three sets written all over it.
Up and coming American Sloan Stephens is the 14th seed and also in the second quarter of the tournament. Lookout as well for the future Mrs. Alexander Ovechkin - Maria Kirilenko that is, along with 5th seeded Sara Errani who will threaten Radwanska for a spot in the semi-finals.
The 26 year old Errani is one spot below her career best ranking in singles and has made the finals of two clay court and two hard court tournaments proving she can play well on either surface. She got to the semi finals of the French Open where she was humbled by Serena Williams 6-0, 6-1. Her record at the Rogers Cup is a mediocre 1-5, so I'm not sure if playing in Canada agrees with her too much. Still, given her 5-1 record against Kirilenko I would expect her to make her way to the quarter-finals to face Radwanska against whom she has struggled with a 2-6 head-to-head.
Second Quarter Prediction: Radwanska d. Errani
In the third quarter of play Li Na of China is the 4th seed and made the finals of the event a year ago while Angelique Kerber of Germany is the 8th seed. Kerber has had a solid but not spectacular season and is 1-6 lifetime vs Na. Former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic is also in this section and the 16th seed could also put together a good run here in Canada where she won the event all the way back in 2006 in Montreal.
I'd look a little bit beyond the top seedings in this part of the draw to 11th ranked Italian Roberta Vinci to have a strong outing here. She has made the quarter-finals the past two years and knocked off some quality players while on Canadian soil. Her last tournament appearance was nearly a month ago but she won that event in Palermo on clay.
Don't overlook Dominika Cibulkova as well who could face Kerber in the second round and is currently ranked 21st in the world. The Slovak just won the event in Stanford last week where she knocked-off Radwanska in the final. The win was particularly meaningful to Cibulkova as she was double "bageled" earlier in the year by Radwanska 6-0, 6-0 in the finals in Sydney. Her confidence levels should be enough to carry her through a few rounds.
Third Quarter Prediction: Vinci d. Ivanovic
In the last part of the draw, Caroline Wozniacki replaced 2nd seed Azarenka late Sunday night and will receive a bye even though she is the 9th seed in the event. Azarenka lost for the first time in nine career meetings on Sunday to Sam Stosur in the finals of Carlsbad, California. Her official reason for withdrawing in Toronto was due to a lower back injury.
The 23 year old Wozniacki is still the youngest player in the top ten in the rankings even though it seems she has been there for quite some time now. She brings a modest 21-16 record on the WTA Tour into this event and has been struggling to find consistency all season long. The Dane was 3-6 during the clay court season and then fell in the second round of Wimbledon. Getting back onto hard courts is probably the best thing for her at this point.
Wozniacki, who won here in 2010, could face Jelena Jankovic in the third round and then either defending champion Kvitova or Sam Stosur in the quarter-finals. Jankovic is 29-12 on the season but has lost in the first round of the Rogers Cup in each of the past three years. Stosur made the finals in Toronto two years ago but has also been inconsistent since her U.S. Open victory that same summer. Kvitova meanwhile has won a hard court event in Dubai earlier this year and made the quarter-finals of Wimbledon.
This section of the draw is extremely tough, with rising Canadian sensation Genie Bouchard also present. Bouchard opens with a tough match against Russian Alisa Kleybanova who was once ranked as high as 20th in the world before Hodgkin's Lymphoma forced her to withdraw from the game. Kleybanova played in only one event in 2012 and has only played in three this year that have all been challenger type events. Currently ranked 602nd in the world, it will be a real test for her to get back up in the rankings but something we'd all love to see given the difficulties she has faced.
Fourth Quarter Prediction: Kvitova d. Jankovic
Serena Williams d. Radwanska
Kvitova d. Vinci
Williams d. Kvitova
Serena will be hungry to reclaim the Rogers Cup title and show that her loss at Wimbledon a month ago was just a small blip on the screen in her otherwise stellar 2013 season.
Check back with us often throughout the week as we will be covering the tournament live from the Rexall Centre in Toronto. Follow us on Twitter as well for timely updates on all of the action both here and in Montreal.
August 4, 2013 in Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic, Laura Robson, Maria Kirilenko, Maria Sharapova, Rogers Cup, Serena Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Venus Williams, Yanina Wickmayer | Permalink | Comments (0)
Rogers Cup ATP Draw Analysis
By Mike McIntyre
World number one Novak Djokovic will be going for three Rogers Cups in-a-row in Canada as he is headlining an impressive field of talent from the ATP World Tour in Montreal this coming week. The defending champion from 2011 and 2012 will be looking to add his fourth tournament victory at the Canadian Masters 1000 event that he also won back in 2007.
Joining Djokovic as a top threat will be number two seed Andy Murray who will be playing in his first tournament since capturing Wimbledon last month in front of an entire nation of fans who had waited 77 years for a Brit to win. As if Murray wasn't dangerous enough before, he will now be able to play a little more freely knowing he has finally won that elusive Grand Slam on home soil.
World number four Rafael Nadal will test his knees on hardcourt for the first time since March. Nadal takes an impressive 43-3 record on tour into the event and has won seven titles in 2013. Despite all those accomplishments he is coming off a shocking first round loss at Wimbledon where his fragile knees could not withstand the punishment as he switched from months of playing on the red clay of Europe. In an interesting twist, Nadal will be playing doubles in Montreal with Pablo Andujar. Will he ever learn?
Roger Federer leads the list of noteable absences in Montreal. For the second consecutive year he will not be making the trip to Canada to play. Federer gave no official explanation for his decision. We don't know if the back troubles he experienced on clay in Hamburg and Gstaad in July are still lingering or if he is just pacing himself before playing in Cincinnati and then the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows.
Also missing in action are Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (knee), Gael Monfils (ankle) and Mardy Fish (personal). The loss of Tsonga and Monfils in particular is a blow to Montreal tennis fans who always enthusiastically support the French contingent. For Fish it is a calculated decision to gradually ease back into playing again after just recently returning to the ATP Tour in Washington where he lost in his third match of the tournament. Two other players who are not present are Marin Cilic and Viktor Troicki who are ineligible after doping infractions. Still the draw in Montreal is a strong one and here is how each quarter breaks down.
With the top eight seeds receiving first round byes, Djokovic will not see action until round two. He will play the winner between Bernard Tomic and Florian Mayer. Mayer has performed admirably this year especially on clay, and with his experience I would not be surprised if he gave Tomic some trouble. Ultimately though I'd expect Tomic to come through in three sets although the young Australian (like Canada's young Raonic) has not yet proven ready to challenge the top guns. Djokovic could see countryman Janko Tipsarevic in the third round and then either Kei Nishikori or Richard Gasquet in the quarterfinals. A Gasquet vs. Nishikori third round match would be an entertaining prospect between the world's 10th and 15th ranked players respectively. Gasquet will be the fan favorite due to his French heritige and has made the finals twice before at the Rogers Cup, both a year ago and in 2006. Those two results were both in Toronto however and he has yet to enjoy the same success in Montreal.
1st Quarter Prediction: Djokovic d. Gasquet
In the second quarter, Rafael Nadal will be causing the tennis world to collectively hold its breath in hopes that his knees are solid enough to get him through the hard court stretch. Nadal will be looking to win his first match in Canada since 2010 as he lost in his opening match in 2011 against Ivan Dodig and missed the event a year ago. Nadal has won the tournament twice, against Andre Agassi in Montreal in 2005 and in 2008 in Toronto versus surprise finalist Nicolas Kiefer. Nadal will open this year against the winner between veteran Xavier Malisse and Canadian wildcard Jesse Levine. A third round match against Wimbledon semi-finalist Jerzy Jankovic looms unless Canuck Frank Dancevic can bring out some of the tennis he showed in 2007 where he lost to Nadal in a tight three set quarter-final. Tommy Haas and Stan Wawrinka are the best bets to make it to the quarter-finals against Nadal. The 35 year old Haas has been fantastic in 2013 but might be feeling the effects of playing a heavy schedule as he is in the semi-finals of the Citi Open in Washington as this article is being written.
2nd Quarter Prediction: Nadal d. Haas
In the third quarter of the draw let's not forget about third seed David Ferrer and fifth seed Tomas Berdych. I'd take Ferrer to get to the semis as he loves to grind it out on hard courts and is well rested after not playing since Wimbledon. On hard courts this year has has won in Auckland, reached the semis at the Austraian Open and the finals of the Masters event in Miami. He'll open in Montreal against either Michael Llordra or a qualifier before potentially facing Gilles Simon in the third round and Berdych in the quarters.
Berdych will open against either Kevin Anderson, who is on the verge of breaking into the top twenty in the world for the first time in his career, or Alexandr Dolgopolov who is always an egnima at best. Another first round match to watch will is between up and coming Canadian Vasek Pospisil, who is once again ranked inside the top hundred in the world, and John Isner who is flirting with disaster by playing the entire U.S. Open Series of hard court events leading up to the Open. This guy is going to be absolutely spent if he doesn't take a break soon. Isner has just advanced to the finals in Washington and is looking to win back-to-back tournies.
3rd Quarter Prediction: Ferrer d. Berdych
In the final quarter Andy Murray will be facing the winner of Dmitri Grigov and Marcel Granollers - who is fresh off a tournament win in Kitzbuhel on clay. Murray could see any one of Fabio Fognini, Marcos Baghdatis, Ernests Gulbis or Feliciano Lopez in the third round. I'd take Gulbis to put a couple of good matches under his belt here as Fognini has achieved all of his success on clay this year, Baghdatis has been in a funk losing ten straight tour matches in-a-row until this past week in Washington and Lopez is...Lopez.
Juan Martin Del Potro is the sixth seed and also in this section of the draw. Fans will be anticipating a potential third round match between he and Canadian Milos Raonic. Unfortunately the probability of Raonic even making it to the third round is unlikelky at the moment as his tennis has suffered enormously over the past several months. Raonic has not won more than two matches in-a-row since April and most recently lost in his opening match in Washington to unheralded Marinko Matosevic in straight sets. Raonic has been paired with former world number three Ivan Ljubicic since May as his coach but the results have yet to surface.
Del Potro is playing some great hard court tennis in Washington right now and I feel that he is ready to take a step forward as he did four years ago at the U.S. Open which to date is still the only Slam victory he has. With Federer faltering and Nadal dealing once again with injury concerns, the stage is set for Delpo to take advantage.
4th Quarter Prediction: Del Potro d. Murray
Djokovic d. Nadal
Del Potro d. Ferrer
Djokovic d Del Potro
Check back with us soon for our WTA Preview from Toronto and follow us on Twitter throughout the tournament as we will be reporting live on a daily basis.
2013 Rogers Cup Draw's Revealed
By Mike McIntyre
The 2013 edition of the Rogers Cup is ready to begin in both Montreal and Toronto as the tennis world converges on Canada's two premier ATP and WTA tennis events.
The men's draw in Montreal was revealed yesterday and has world number one Novak Djokovic ready to defend his titles from 2011 and 2012 from number two seed and two time winner Andy Murray .
In Toronto, the women's draw came out today at around 2:30pm ET and Serena Williams will be looking to take the trophy out of the hands of last year's winner, Petra Kvitova.
Check back with us shortly to see our in-depth draw analysis. Follow us all week as we will be reporting live each day from the WTA tournament in Toronto while also keeping a close eye on the action in Montreal.
Follow us on Twitter as well for timely updates throughout the next nine days of action.
Here are some of the other draws that are also posted in both cities:
Fed Alert: Federer Loses to Brands in Gstaad
By Mike McIntyre
It was another dissappointing loss for Roger Federer today as he was defeated 6-3, 6-4 in a brief 65 minute match by Daniel Brands at the Credit Agricole Swiss Open in Gstaad.
Playing in only his first match of the event, the 5th ranked Federer could not find the answers to his 55th ranked opponent. Federer was zero for five on break point opportunities and landed only 53% of his first serves, an indicator of the apparent back issues he has been feeling over his last two tournaments.
A week ago in Hamburg, Federer was seen with tape on his lower back. There he was at least able to navigate his way into the semi-finals defeating Brands, Jan Hajek and Florian Mayer before falling to Federico Delbonis (who himself lost today at Gstaad as well.)
Federer was using the clay events in Hamburg and Gstaad as a way to test out a new Wilson racquet and also to gain some much needed ranking points to potentially improve his seeding at the upcoming U.S. Open. Being seeded 5th will likely mean a quarterfinal match against one of Djokovic, Murray or Nadal, something he would clearly like to avoid if possible.
So the clay court experiment did not pan out - is this time to panic as both fans and media alike have done from time to time in recent years of Federer's career? I think not.
Any mention of injury automatically means we can't measure these two results against NFB - normal Federer behaviour. Who knows just how much it was affecting him on the court. Perhaps he would have pulled-out of the event in Gstaad if it had not been in Switzerland in front of his home fans. Instead he decided to give it a go and unfortunately for him wasn't able to get the job done. Federer did have the following to say today after his defeat, "In the last 7-10 days I could hardly practice. This made it difficult to prepare properly. I decided to play so it's no excuse."
Federer also has his new racquet to contend with. Going from a 90 to a 98 square inch head is a sizable adjustment that is going to take some time to work out the kinks. It will be interesting to see if Federer continues with his new stick, but I would be surprised if he didn't at least give it a try on the hard courts in Montreal in a week and a half. It's too soon to cut ties with his latest weapon without seeing what it can do on his strongest surface.
Now suppose that his recent struggles have little to do with injury or equipment choice and instead are the outcome of nothing more than a common slump. All players go through them at some point and Federer has had some, albeit not as noticeable, before. Better to go through a lull at this point of the season rather than a month from now. Federer will leave these results behind him in Europe and likely find the return to hard courts in North America as the perfect tonic. He has Montreal, Cincinnati and then a week of practice time before we head to Flushing Meadows and the U.S. Open. There is still lots of time for him to figure things out.
Some will claim that this is the beginning of the end for Federer. That with his 32nd birthday approaching he is finally starting to show the decline that all great champions (minus Borg) must inevitably go through. I find it hard to believe that this is the case. We are merely a year removed from seeing yet another Wimbledon victory and an Olympic silver medal as well. He won Cincinnati last year without dropping a set, made the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open and the finals of the season ending ATP Championships in London. Even in 2013 his record is 30-8, he has one title, almost made the finals in Australia and is still a guy that people want to avoid if at all possible in any given tournament. This is not a Pete Sampras 2002 type fall-off that we are witnessing. That year Pete went 20-16 heading into his final Grand Slam victory and if it weren't for that wonderful accomplishment in New York at the Open it would have been a catastrophe of monumental proportions for him.
We can all take a deep breath and realize that we are still in for plenty of meaningful tennis from Federer and that very likely we are going to see some much stronger results delivered before this season comes to an end. He might not win the U.S. Open or even make the final, but if healthy and adjusted to his new racquet you can't put those types of results out of his reach.
Check back with us frequently as the Rogers Cup approaches as ProTennisFan will be covering the event live for the entire duration of the tournament. Be sure to follow us on Twitter as well for regular updates from both the ATP and WTA tours.
ATP Hardcourt Swing Ready to Begin
By Mike McIntyre
With Wimbledon now a couple of weeks behind us and the humidity levels rising here in North America it must be time for the ATP World Tour to officially kick-off its summer hard court swing. Five weeks of grinding tennis will build in intensity and eventually lead-up to the final Grand Slam of the year at the U.S. Open. The results we see over the next month will go a long way in terms of indicating who has the best U.S. Open tennis odds for 2013 in New York.
Other than good preparation for America's Slam, the U.S. Open series of tournaments offers players a bonus of $1 million if they finish first in ATP points earned over these five weeks and manage to win the Open as well.
This week we begin with a level 250 tournament in Atlanta, the BB&T Atlanta Open which is guaranteed to have a new champion in 2013 as the now retired Andy Roddick won the event last summer. Roddick is now doing some broadcasting for Fox Sports but will make an appearance at the Rogers Cup WTA event in Toronto in two weeks to play some exhibition tennis with Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Jim Courier.
The number one seed this year and a two time finalist in Atlanta (2010, 2011) is John Isner who recently made some headlines by appearing nude in the annual ESPN Body Issue. Isner's biggest threat other than the ribbing he is sure to receive from his fellow pros is veteran Lleyton Hewitt who is also in the top half of the draw and is capable of still stringing together a few good matches. Hewitt lacks the physical durability perhaps to hoist another trophy as it has been three years since he last won an ATP event. Hewitt did make the semi-finals a week ago at the Hall of Fame championships in Newport before falling to champion and feel-good story Nicolas Mahut.
Ivan Dodig is the third seed and also found in Hewitt's quarter of the draw, while American tennis vet James Blake is in the top section of the draw as well.
The bottom half of the draw has Kevin Anderson as the second seed and while this might seem surprising it is a testament to the consistent tennis the South African has been playing this year. The 27 year old Anderson just fell to Ivo Karlovic in the semi-finals of a hard court tournament in Bogota and has wins in 2013 over David Ferrer, Milos Raonic, Fernando Verdasco and Marin Cilic. Anderson could face Karlovic again here in Atlanta as they are on course for a second round encounter.
Tennis fans will be happy to welcome Mardy Fish back to the tour at this event. Fish, who won in Atlanta in 2010 and 2011, has only played in two tournaments since last years U.S. Open due to a heart condition. Here's hoping he can compete again at the highest level. Young Americans Jack Sock and Ryan Harrison are also in the bottom half of the draw.
While Atlanta offers a lighter playing field it does show us which players are serious about improving their chances on the hard courts by gaining a head start on some other pros who are either still playing clay court events in Europe or taking this time to rest their bodies or put in more time on the practice courts.
Next week we head to Washington D.C. for the level 500 Citi Open event.
Keep checking back with us at ProTennisFan for all your hardcourt updates and follow us on Twitter as well throughout the summer swing.