Ljubicic, Gonzo, Fish on Court in Vienna

Posted on October 10, 2007

Eight players will do battle for four quarterfinal berths, as the first four second round matches take place at the BA-CA Tennis Trophy, an International Series Gold event held on the indoor hardcourts of Vienna.

The first match on Center Court pits No. 2 seed Fernando Gonzalez against unseeded Jiri Vanek. After a strong first half of the year - highlighted by runner-up finishes at the Australian Open (his first Grand Slam final) and Rome (his second ATP Masters Series final), Gonzalez cooled off during the summer hardcourt season, going 0-4 (culminating in a first round loss at the US Open). But he made a successful fall debut a few weeks ago, winning his eighth ATP singles title at Beijing (beating Ivan Ljubicic and Tommy Robredo back-to-back in the semifinals and final). He has played well here in the past, finishing runner-up last year (falling to Ljubicic in the final). Vanek has his work cut out for him, as he is 0-12 against Top 10 players in his career, including a straight-sets loss to Tomas Berdych in the same round of Tokyo just last week.

Juan Carlos Ferrero tries to follow up a first round upset as he faces fellow non-seed Julien Benneteau. Ferrero surprised No. 5 seed Guillermo Canas in a marathon three-setter on Tuesday, his first win over the Argentine in three tries this year. Now he has a shot at reaching his fifth quarterfinal of the season, and his second in Vienna, having gotten all the way to the final here two years back (falling to Ljubicic). Although Benneteau has reached the quarterfinals or better three times this season, he hasnít won back-to-back matches in his last nine tournaments, including first round losses at five of those. But Benneteau did win the pairís only previous meeting almost exactly a year ago in Metz, also on an indoor hardcourt surface.

The next match on Center Court pits No. 3 seed Ivan Ljubicic against unseeded Mardy Fish. Having spent 83 consecutive weeks among the worldís Top 10 (between November 7, 2005 and June 10, 2007), Ljubicic is spending his 18th straight week hovering just outside the gameís elite, having dropped out after Roland Garros on June 11. But in Vienna he has been a perfect 11-0, going 5-0 to win the title in 2005 and 5-0 to win the title again last year, and on Monday winning his first round match of this yearís tournament. Incredibly, he hasnít dropped a single set in those 11 wins; even more incredibly, he dropped serve for the first time here in his win Monday. Fish could be a tough opponent to that streak; he made the quarterfinals or better at his first four tournaments of the year (including reaching his first career Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open) and, after 11 straight pre-quarterfinal losses, he reached his ninth career ATP final at New Haven the week before the US Open (falling to James Blake). The pair is 1-1 head-to-head, but the lower-ranked Fish won their only match this year during the aforementioned Australian Open run (Ljubicicís win came four years ago in Davis Cup play). Fish is making his career debut at this tournament.

The other second round match of the day pits two unseeded players against each other out on Court B, as Robin Haase takes on Andreas Seppi. The 20-year-old Haase fell first round in his first two career ATP main draws last year but this year has reached the second round or better at six of 10. On Wednesday he will chase his second career ATP quarterfinal, having gone that far once earlier this year (going one better in making the semifinals or Amersfoort). The 23-year-old Seppi will chase his 14th career ATP quarterfinal, having reached one in 2004, five in 2005, five last year and two already this year (including going all the way to his first ATP singles final at Gstaad). He has actually reached quarterfinals on all four surfaces as well (eight on clay, three on hardcourt, one on grass and one on carpet). They will play for the first time. (ATP Digital Services)