Federer, Soderling Capture Titles; U.S. Wins Hopman; Tennis-X Notes
Federer Stops Defending Champ Davydenko to Win 2011 Doha Crown
Russian workhorse Nikolay Davydenko was one match away from duplicating the 2010 feat when he defeated the top two players in the world, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, to repeat as Doha champion on Sunday, but this time the world No. 2 Federer was having none of it. Federer defeated Davydenko 6-3, 6-4 to claim his third career Qatar ExxonMobil Open title in Doha.
The Swiss improved to 67-28 in career finals.
“This is important to do well here,” said Federer, who will in roughly a week’s time begin his defense of the Australian Open title. “I’m not just using this to get ready for the Australian Open. This is a pleasure coming to this part of the world where I actually do spend quite a bit of time, and I’ve always had good friends here in Qatar.”
Federer was untouchable on serve against the Russian, not offering Davydenko a break point opportunity over the two sets.
“When he’s on, he’s easily Top 10 if not Top 5 potentially, and that’s why this is obviously a huge win, because I thought he was playing well,” Federer offered faint praise to the Russian, who defeated him in Doha last year and has ranked No. 3 on the ATP Rankings. “I thought the level of play was extremely high. I was very happy with, from my side, I was almost flawless, and I was able to play offensive when I needed to, and when I wanted to it all worked out.”
Davydenko fell to 2-15 head-to-head career against Federer. In the semifinals he beat the world No. 1 Nadal, who suffered from a fever and illness during the work.
“Today he was tough. Really played fast,” Davydenko said. “He gave me no chance on the return, and also he was returning good. His first serve was very good. My tennis is OK, really. I don’t want to say I played bad today.”
Davydenko tumbled from the Top 20 in 2010 after being sidelined with a fractured wrist, and entered the event at No. 22 on the rankings.
Soderling Batters Roddick for 2011 Brisbane Title
Once the biggest server on tour, defending champion Andy Roddick received a bit of his own medicine in the Brisbane final on Sunday, not getting a sniff of one break point in a 6-3, 7-5 loss to champion Robin Soderling of Sweden. Soderling will on Monday climb back to a career-high No. 4 on the ATP Rankings.
“I’ve never really played well in Australia before and now finally I won a tournament playing really good tennis,” Soderling said. “It gives me a lot of confidence for Melbourne…now I’ll have a week of rest and practice in Melbourne and I’ll be more than ready to go. I know I have a chance to do really well if I play good tennis like here.”
Soderling saw plenty of chances on the American’s serve, converting one break point in each set from 10 break chances.
“He served great. Conditions were heavy and he served through it better,” Roddick said. “I think that was the difference. I wasn’t able to get into any return games and he got into two and was able to break in those. I don’t think the conditions will be similar to this in Melbourne. But all you can ask for is getting in five good matches, that’s what you want after a layoff.”
Soderling did not drop a set all week, and had his serve broken just once by Radek Stepanek in the semifinals. It was the Swede’s seventh career title, and second outdoors. He improved to 7-10 in career finals.
After the final Roddick announced he would double the $100 per ace he previously pledged for Queensland flood relief efforts for a total of $10,800.
U.S. Beats Belgium to Win Hopman Cup
The unseeded U.S. squad of John Isner and Bethanie Mattek-Sands won the Hopman Cup on Sunday, defeating Belgium 2-1. Justine Henin started with a win for Belgium, beating Mattek-Sands 7-6(3), 6-3, but Isner evened the final with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Ruben Bemelmans before the U.S. won the deciding mixed doubles 6-3, 6-4.
“I’ve got to thank Bethanie; her back’s got to be hurting from carrying me all week,” Isner said. “She was rock solid all week long. I kind of got a whooping yesterday [against Andy Murray], but I regrouped and played very well today which is really, really encouraging. Also I want to say congrats to the Belgium team. It’s a great team we beat today.”
Mattek-Sands was 3-0 during the week in singles before the loss in the final to Henin. She led the first-set tiebreak 5-3 before Henin took charge.
“It’s been an amazing week,” Mattek-Sands said. “It’s my first time in Perth and I’ve really enjoyed myself. It’s funny, I saw this (diamond tennis ball trophy) actually when I first got here and I thought it was the best trophy in sports…There was a really strong field this year, there was great players; Ana [Ivanovic], Justine, [Novak] Djokovic, [Lleyton] Hewitt.”
It was the record sixth Hopman Cup title for the U.S.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
MARIA GETS HEAD – Former No. 1 Maria Sharapova and HEAD have announced a multi-year endorsement deal reportedly worth $2 million a year. The 23-year-old dropped Prince racquets after 10 years of sponsorship, and is working with HEAD to develop a custom racquet rather than using one of their current lines. The Russian debuted in Auckland with a HEAD racquet, losing early.
India’s Leander Paes says he will make the transition to acting after tennis: “I cannot go on entertaining people with my tennis as age catches up. So I am now taking up a new career in films. I have signed up to act in four films to remain active after tennis.”…Jarmila Groth blew up at her husband and on-court coach Sam during the Brisbane event, yelling at him “Don’t talk to me like a f***ing tourist.” She later apologized to fans via twitter…Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters have committed to playing Fed Cup for Belgium against the U.S. next month. Which means U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez needs to shore-up some talent on the north side of Coco Vandeweghe…Alona Bondarenko has withdrawn from the Australian Open after undergoing knee surgery…Mikhail Youzhny, Andre Agassi and Marat Safin collected exhibition cash this week in Taipei. Agassi beat Safin 2-6, 7-6(7), 13-11…Flavia Pennetta pulled from Brisbane citing illness…Lucie Safarova is working with Biljana Veselinovic, one of the few women coaches on tour…This week Wayne Odesnik playing for and earned a wildcard into the USTA $10,000 Plantation Open Futures next week in Florida. The Sun-Sentinel reported that while he never tested positive for HGH, Odesnik says a doctor advised he take it for a shoulder injury…The Champions Series senior men’s circuit founded by Jim Courier, with certain events rumored to be financially strapped last year, has announced for 2012 it will re-jigger its format to 12 one-night four-man events, with locations to be announced…Swiss Stan Wawrinka reportedly walked out on his wife, former TV personality Ilham Vuilloud, and newborn last September. “Stan returned on September 20 after the Davis Cup in Kazakhstan and told me he had new priorities. He packed his bags and moved into a hotel,” Vuilloud told the tabloid Blick. The walkout came after Wawrinka canned his longtime coach and childhood friend Dimitri Zavialoff for Swiss veteran coach Peter Lundgren…Amelie Mauresmo has been named as joint director of the February WTA Paris Open tournament…Juan Carlos Ferrero pulled from Auckland citing knee and wrist injuries, and from the Australian Open…World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki has signed a deal to play with Yonex racquets, dumping Babolat…Taylor Dent is starting a tennis academy in Newport Beach, Calif…Serb Viktor Troicki has switched to adidas…Former No. 1 Venus Williams’ Aussie Open preparation at a Hong Kong exo hit a snag this week when she lost to China’s Li Na in straight sets, and wouldn’t elaborate on an apparent injury where she was holding her stomach: “I just tried my best and just pushed myself to play my best tennis,” said Venus in her best Williams sisters’ patented avoid-the-topic explanation. The 30-year-old elder Williams sister has not played a tour event since the US Open last year after a knee injury ended her year…Ana Ivanovic (stomach strain) and Francesca Schiavone (groin strain) pulled from the Hopman Cup with injuries. In total, seven of the 16 players originally named in the line-up for the mixed team event either pulled out beforehand or suffered injuries during it.
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