Russia leads Chile 2-0
MARAT SAFIN (RUS) d. NICOLAS MASSU (CHI) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
IGOR ANDREEV (RUS) d. FERNANDO GONZALEZ (CHI) 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2
The Chileans, heavily favored, look less-than-fearsome on their home clay as the Russians put themselves within a win of advancing on Friday. The less-than-fresh Gonzo, coming off the Australian Open final and Vina del Mar, will need to man-up for the Saturday doubles with Massu as the former Olympic gold medalists expend more energy against the Russian throw-away team of Igor Kunitsyn and Teimuraz Gabashvili, with Russian captain Shamil Tarpischev working the exhaustion strategy against the depth-challenged Chileans. Look for Safin to seal the deal against a tired Gonzo in the first match on Sunday.
France leads Romania 2-0
RICHARD GASQUET (FRA) d. VICTOR HANESCU (ROM) 7-5, 6-2, 6-2
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN (FRA) d. ANDREI PAVEL (ROM) 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-2
Richard “Baby Fed” Gasquet puts France out front, then Grosjean shows his fitness in coming back from two sets down against a tired Pavel as France remains in control on their home hardcourts. Look for the French to wrap it up Saturday when veterans Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra will be the heavy favorites against Challenger-level Romanians Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau.
Germany and Croatia tied 1-1
TOMMY HAAS (GER) d. MARIO ANCIC (CRO) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
IVAN LJUBICIC (CRO) d. BENJAMIN BECKER (GER) 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2, 6-3
The Germany-Croatia tie will remain up for grabs through Saturday and into Sunday as the host nation won the opener behind veteran Tommy Hass, but the Davis Cup rookie Becker could not maintain a fast start against Ljubicic, who says 2007 will be his final Davis Cup campaign. Ljubicic and the fighting-illness Mario “Baby Goran” Ancic, undefeated in Davis Cup doubles, will be the favorites Saturday against the not-to-be-taken-lightly German pair of Michael Kohlmann and Alexander Waske. Saturday’s winning nation will be in the driver’s seat when Haas and Ljubicic take to the court Sunday for the first of the reverse singles.
Belgium leads Australia 2-0
KRISTOF VLIEGEN (BEL) d. LLEYTON HEWITT (AUS) 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
OLIVIER ROCHUS (BEL) d. CHRIS GUCCIONE (AUS) 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-3
A tailor-made low-bouncing clay court proved a difficult fit for the Aussies when Vliegen outlasted Hewitt in five on the Australian’s worst surface, and the diminutive Olivier “The Roach” Rochus tracked down too many balls against the towering serving machine Guccione. “The Gooch” blew a set lead, giving up a late break in the second despite eight aces for the set, and converted on 0 of 6 break opportunities. The Aussies have a long road over the next two days, and will be the slight favorites Saturday when Hewitt and Paul Hanley face Belgians Dick Norman and Christophe Rochus in the doubles.
USA and Czech Republic tied 1-1
ANDY RODDICK (USA) d. IVO MINAR (CZE) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
TOMAS BERDYCH (CZE) d. JAMES BLAKE (USA) 6-1, 2-6, 7-5, 7-5
The weaknesses were glaring as the U.S. was put on its worst surface in Ostrava, with Roddick one-set all at one point with a player ranked outside the Top 150, and Blake losing his opener to leave the Americans at 1-1 with the Czechs. The Bryan brothers are heavy favorites to put the U.S. up 2-1 after Saturday against the Czech team of Dlouhy/Vizner. “The US has lost its last three matches played on clay and that says something,” Berdych said.
Switzerland and Spain tied 1-1
MARCO CHIUDINELLI (SUI) d. FERNANDO VERDASCO (ESP) 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2)
DAVID FERRER (ESP) d. STEPHANE BOHLI (SUI) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Oh how both teams miss their respective susperstars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard Nadal sat out the opening day with injury, Federer chose to skip the contest, and the Swiss No. 2 Stan Wawrinka was forced to miss the tie after surgery. It was therefore a shock when Chiudnelli put the home team up 1-0, stunning Verdasco, but Ferrer quickly put things even against the rookie Bohli who is 0-2 career in ATP matches. Saturday’s doubles could go either way with Yves Allegro/Chiudnelli facing Verdasco and Feli Lopez.
Sweden leads Belarus 2-0
ROBIN SODERLING (SWE) d. VLADIMIR VOLTCHKOV (BLR) 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-1
THOMAS JOHANSSON (SWE) d. MAX MIRNYI (BLR) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
Belarus’ sterling home record looks to take a hit as Max “The Beast” Mirnyi and Vladimir “The Vladiator” Voltchkov try and rebound from an 0-2 deficit in the Saturday doubles. Mirnyi and Voltchkov try and keep hope alive against the Swedish doubles specialist team of Simon Aspelin and Jonas Bjorkman.
Argentina leads Austria 2-0
JOSE ACASUSO (ARG) d. STEFAN KOUBEK (AUT) 7-6(6), 6-1, 6-4
GUILLERMO CANAS (ARG) d. JURGEN MELZER (AUT) 7-6(6), 6-2, 6-4
Austria’s quick indoor carpet was no problem for the visiting Argentines Friday with Acasuso and the back-from-doping Canas sweeping to straight-set victories. Acasuso and Sebastien Prieto will try and cap the tie in the Saturday doubles against Austrians Melzer and Julian Knowle.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Pete Sampras, Venus Williams, John McEnroe, Anna Kournikova, Nicole Vaidisova and the Bryan brothers are some of the players that will compete during the 2007 World Team Tennis season during the month of July. The 2007 WTT schedule includes 77 matches in 11 markets beginning July 5 and running through July 25. Team lineups will be completed on March 27 when WTT holds their annual player draft in Miami…The British Lawn Tennis Assoc. has teamed with the Monte Carlo Country Club, home of the ATP Monte Carlo Masters Series event, to form a travelling tennis academy to boost British junior players…Tim Rosaforte of The Golf Channel revealed that long-hitting PGA Tour golfer Hank Kuehne is dating Venus Williams…French teen Aravane Rezai on the WTA Tour’s on-court coaching experiment: “I don’t want my father coaching by the court. I’m big enough and I want to play my own game. If there’s someone telling you what to do they might as well be playing instead of you. The pleasure I get from tennis is from playing my own game.”…Kim Clijsters, speaking to tennis writer Matt Cronin on retiring at the end of 2007 at 24 years of age: “People in Belgium say to me that money-wise you could earn a lot more, especially if I stayed on top of the game for a few more years, but that doesn’t do it for me. I don’t play for money. I know how well I can play, but tennis has never been the main priority in my life, maybe because a lot of things happened. My father was sick. My mother was sick. A lot of things happen in the family that make you realize there’s nothing better than going home and seeing that everyone’s healthy. Of course, if you can play well and meet your personal goals, it’s great to achieve them, but it’s not the most important thing…I love winning and there was no better feeling than preparing for this year when you are so sore from training that walking up and down the stairs is hard, but now I also love going to the supermarket, getting food and preparing a meal.” Clijsters says she may skip the French Open in this her farewell year on tour…Serena Williams says she’ll join sister Venus for the U.S.’s Fed Cup match in April versus Belgium, which will be without tops players Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters…From Tennisnews.com: “The SAP Open, the Bay Area’s premier men’s professional tennis tournament has teamed with B2 Networks to offer live streaming of all SAP Open matches originating from HP Pavilion. This marks the first webcast for the prestigious ATP circuit stop in San Jose that runs from February 12-18. The SAP Open will feature American superstars Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish, plus defending champion Brit Andy Murray, two-time Grand Slam winner Russian Marat Safin, Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer and Korean #1 Hyung-Taik Lee. Other countries currently represented in the player field include Thailand, Spain, Denmark, Canada, Croatia and Chinese Taipei. Fans interested in watching matches online will simply hit www.sapopentennis.com and click on the words WATCH LIVE beginning on Monday, February 12. Beginning with the first serve on Monday at 9:30 a.m. PST, fans from all over the world with internet access will be able to enjoy watching matches through to the conclusion of tournament week on Sunday, February 18.”…Former ATP player Francisco Costa was named as captain of Brazil’s Davis Cup team on Monday. Costa, whose highest ATP rank was 140th in 2000, replaced Fernando Meligeni, the Brazilian Tennis Confederation said…From SI.com’s Jon Wertheim: “Look for the new ATP calendar to include eight Masters Series events: Indian Wells, Key Biscayne, Rome, Canada, Cincy, Paris, Madrid and China. (Hamburg and Monte Carlo get downgraded to economy class.) Players will be expected to play “eight of eight”, though, realistically, six or seven will be the norm. The year-end Masters will be held in London. Details to come.”…Tennis writer Matt Cronin putting Justine Henin on the psych couch: “Let’s start with this 100-billion euro quote from Justine Henin: “I must remember that adversity made me the person I am now.” What kind of person is that, and is it one that the soon to be divorced Belgian is pleased with? A greater amount of time will tell, but in the short term since Henin announced her separation from Pierre Yves Hardenne, it appears that she has come to the decision that the tennis court will be her refuge. That’s why she said she’s decided to play the Paris Indoors this week, rather than for Dubai next week. It could have been lost in translation, but didn’t Henin really mean to say that “adversity made me the player I am now,” you know, the one that is full of vim and vigor. But, as a person? She’s been a wounded wolf since her mom passed away and someone might tell her to focus on healing, rather than believing that fighting against the current (personal adversity) will bring her happiness.”…From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “The Super Bowl is over, but there still might be a “Super Ticket” in the offering for Tiger Woods and Roger Federer fans in South Florida. In a rare scheduling overlap, Woods and Federer are expected to play in Miami-Dade at the same time, with the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament beginning March 21 at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne and the CA Championship golf tournament starting March 22 at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa. CA Championship and Sony Ericsson Open officials are exploring ways to cross-promote the events, including a possible ticket package that would allow fans to see Federer and Woods play on the same weekend and possibly the same day. “Where else in the world are you going to be able to do that?” CA Championship Executive Director Eddie Carbone said.”
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