Tennis-X Weekend Wrap: Murray, Ivanovic Win; Luzzi Dies
Seeds: Top 8 are Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Nikolay Davydenko, Andy Roddick, David Nalbandian
Notes: Roddick, Del Potro and Simon are the favorites for the remaining three berths at the year-end Masters Cup, but 10 players remain in the running entering the last week of regular-season play. The seeds get byes, but potentially opening-round matches of interest are (16) Gael Monfils vs. Marat Safin, (6) Davydenko vs. (Q) Ivan Ljubicic, (8) Nalbandian vs. Ivo Karlovic, (7) Roddick vs. Janko Tipsarevic, and (2) Federer vs. Robin Soderling.
QUEBEC CITY, Canada
Seeds: Nadia Petrova, Sybille Bammer, Tamarine Tanasugarn, Aleksandra Wozniak, Bethanie Mattek, Olga Govortsova, Sofia Arvidsson, Sabine Lisicki
Davidoff Swiss Indoors
World No. 2 Roger Federer won his third Basel title on Sunday, defeating nemesis David Nalbandian 6-3, 6-4 to raise his career record over the Argentine to 10-8.
“It was fantastic to beat one of my biggest rivals in a good match,” Federer said. “It was great to win at home. That is what really stands out for me, realizing a childhood dream and winning the title over and over again.”
Nalbandian fell to 1-3 in career Basel finals.
“Roger played almost perfect, he played great,” Nalbandian said. “He served very well and although I didn’t play bad he was better than me today. I had a good week though.”
St. Petersburg Open
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia
Andy Murray’s hot streak continued this week as the Scot successfully defended his St. Petersburg title, capturing his second consecutive title following the Masters Series-Madrid. Murray rolled over tired Kazakhstani qualifier Andrey Golubev 6-1, 6-1, becoming the first British player in 33 years to win back-to-back tour titles.
“I had a lot of pressure coming into this match,” Murray said. “I was the favorite and he didn’t have anything to lose. The match was close in the beginning of both sets but once I was able to take the lead I felt more comfortable.”
The 21-year-old Golubev, who was born in Russia and resides in Italy, was playing only his fourth tour-level event this year, failing to get past the second round and competing primarily on the Challenger circuit.
“I was playing well all week but today I was just off. I think I ran out of fuel,” Golubev said. “I felt very tired. This match was good for me to compare my game to the top players in the world.”
Grand Prix de Tennis de Lyon
Robin Soderling won his first title in almost three years Sunday at Lyon, outlasting Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1.
With the win, Soderling will break the Top 20 for the first time.
“As a player you always have the goal to reach the Top 100,” Soderling said. “Once you get there, you want to get to the Top 50. Reaching the Top 20 feels great. It has been my goal for two or three years.”
Soderling was 0-3 in the finals this year entering the championship match, and posted two Top 10 wins over Andy Roddick and Gilles Simon.
Benneteau dropped to 0-2 in career finals.
“Winning my first title in Lyon close to my hometown would have been unbelievable,” Benneteau said. “Robin is one of the best players indoors. If I played him outdoors, on clay with some wind it might have been a different story.”
Generali Ladies Linz
Former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic got back on track after weeks struggling to return from a thumb injury, on Sunday capturing the Linz title with a resounding 6-2, 6-1 victory over No. 2 seed Vera Zvonareva.
It was the Serb’s third title of the year after Indian Wells and the French Open. Zvonareva drops to 2-5 in finals this year and 7-10 career, but the result was enough for her to clinch a spot at the year-end WTA Championships.
“After coming back from an injury and putting in a lot of hard work, it’s great to see the results,” Ivanovic said. “It’s a very good feeling to win another title. I played better and better in every match and really enjoyed my week in Linz.”
Russia’s Elena Dementieva outlasted Dane Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) for her third title of the year on Sunday at Luxembourg. Dementieva trailed by a set and then a break in the third before denying the teen the title.
“I feel like I just won a Grand Slam,” Dementieva said. “I think it was the most difficult final I’ve ever played. Caroline was playing so well — she has such a good defensive game, but was also hitting really good drop shots and passing shots. I had to stay positive and aggressive and I’m so happy I was able to win today.”
Wozniacki was seeking her fourth title of the year.
“It has been a fantastic year for me; I would have loved to win my fourth title here, but it just wasn’t my day today,” Wozniacki said. “Everything happens for a reason. Elena was just too good today.”
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
LUZZI SUDDENLY PASSES: Federico Luzzi, who in 2002 ranked in the Top 100 and as recently as last year represented Italy in Davis Cup play, died this weekend of leukemia at age 28. Luzzi was admitted to a hospital for a few days after retiring from an Italian league match citing a high fever. In February Luzzi was suspended for 200 days and fined $50,000 by the ATP for betting on tennis. One of his career high-points came in 2001 when he beat Ville Liukko of Finland 14-12 in the fifth set after 4 hours, 35 minutes, the longest Davis Cup match ever played by an Italian.
LJUBICIC SLIPPING: Former world No. 3 Ivan Ljubicic is now free-falling out of the Top 50 after losing first round in Lyon to No. 182-ranked wildcard Josselin Ouanna. Perhaps time to devote less time to ATP politics and more time to not making yourself a fixture of the Challengers circuit.
HERE’S A WHEELBARREL FULL OF MONEY: What happens when you can’t get your own ATP event? If you’re an oil-rich Middle East country, just drop a few million on top players and start your own event. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) newspaper The National has announced negotiations are almost complete to bring the Top 6 men’s players to Abu Dhabi for a three-day exhibition event at the beginning of 2009, prior to the ATP calendar beginning with events on Jan. 5. “The plan is to secure contracts for the [top] six to compete in Abu Dhabi just before the 2009 Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) season opens in neighboring Qatar on Jan. 5,” says The National. “Abu Dhabi Sports Council have made an official bid to stage a WTA tour event which they hope to secure by 2010 and leading officials in that organization have made no secret of their desire to emulate Dubai by adding an ATP tournament. The unsanctioned showpiece involving the world’s top six would undoubtedly assist in any future initiative to present an official men’s draw of 32 players.”
WTA PLAYERS STILL UNHAPPY WITH ROADMAP: The WTA Tour’s new calendar realignment, the Roadmap 2009, is proving a tougher sell than anticipated. First Dinara Safina shot off to the media, now other top players are joining the chorus after an apparent lack of communication between the WTA and its top draws. “We do have our voice and we have to come together,” Ivanovic told of media regarding new rules requiring players to play certain events. “The changes were made in the middle of the season and when you’re playing Grand Slams you don’t really want to think about next year’s schedule. I do believe it’s going to be a lot of tournaments we have to commit to and it’s maybe going to be a little bit harder in that sense. We don’t have much opportunity to choose, and at the end of the day it might be that we play more matches than we did in previous years. Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, a new entry into the Top 10 in 2008, wants to be able to play smaller tournaments. “After the new rules with the WTA I don’t want to be Top 10 because the rules are so bad and everything is for the WTA,” she said. “I cannot play the small tournaments and it’s quite bad. I hate these rules. I can play just two small tournaments a year.”
MISC: Roger Federer played the “pressure” card regarding Rafael Nadal repeating as year-end world No. 1 in 2009: “My chances are normal [of taking back No. 1]. It starts at zero next year. Rafa is going to have way more to defend next year than I have, he’s played more than I have. He’s still got Davis Cup (final) after Shanghai, so we’ll see how he feels next year with all the pressure.”…Jelena Dokic lost in the qualifying at Linz. The 25-year-old has won three events this year on the ITF circuit…Nikolay Davydenko pulled from St. Petersburg with a wrist injury, and is doubtful for the Masters Series-Paris…Patrice Dominguez, technical director of the French Tennis Federation, on the fading Richard Gasquet as compared to the rising Gilles Simon: “He has to be a little bit more ambitious and mature. Today he’s not as good as the others because he’s still a child on certain points. He hasn’t shown much up to now, but the fact we have other players in France doing well and exploiting their talents much more than he has done himself I think will help him. Maybe it will help him to grow a little bit quicker.”…Paul Hutchins would not be staying in his role as head of men’s tennis for the LTA after December, but will continue to help out in a diminished capacity…Rafael Nadal is No. 30 on Askmen.com’s list of Top 49 Most Influential Men, behind No. 1 Barack Obama, Apple Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs at No. 2, and American swimming star Michael Phelps at No. 3…Serb Jelena Jankovic has wrapped up the year-end No. 1 ranking…Vera Zvonareva and Venus Williams clinched the final two spots at the year-end WTA Tour Championships, joining Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams, Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova…Jim Courier beat Thomas Enqvist for the Outback Dallas senior title…According to Colette Lewis at Zoo Tennis, major changes in USTA professional development include the letting go of Rodney Harmon, the naming of Ola Malmqvist as head of women’s tennis, and Jay Berger as head of men’s tennis…Richard Gasquet pulled from Paris with an elbow injury.
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