Ferrer, Simon, Li, Groth Win Titles Leading Into Aussie Open; Tennis-X Notes
Ferrer Stops Hot-handed Knowledge-dropping Nalbandian for ATP Auckland Crown
Spaniard David Ferrer stopped the hot-handed David Nalbandian 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday in the final at the Heineken Open in Auckland.
It was the 10th career title for the 28-year-old No. 7-seeded Ferrer.
“When I won here [in 2007] it was my first hardcourt title and to win it for a second time four years later is special because it’s more difficult now with the pressure and expectation,” Ferrer said. “I like a lot to play the second week of the season here; I like the tournament a lot, the people support me a lot.”
Nalbandian was unable to convert on any of his three break points during the final. Ferrer had lost his previous three meetings against the Argentine.
“He played better than me,” Nalbandian said. “I had some chances in the beginning of the first set, but couldn’t take them. Sometimes I missed easy shots and I tried risks that didn’t work.”
Ferrer improved to 10-10 in career finals. The philosophical 29-year-old Nalbandian stays at 11 career titles.
“I think it was a very good week,” Nalbandian said. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you play good and lose, sometimes you play bad and win. Sport is like that. Today I lost. I will try to play better every day.”
Frenchman Simon Recaptures Some of Former Top 10 Glory with ATP Sydney Title
World No. 41 Gilles Simon beat Serb Viktor Troicki 7-5, 7-6(4) to win the Medibank International Sydney on Saturday in his first career ATP final in Australia, giving the former Top 10er a much-needed confidence boost.
“In tennis it’s always a matter of confidence,” Simon said. “I could see tonight I was playing very nice tennis, but I played some bad games at the beginning of the second set. I wasn’t doing it two years ago. I think it will come back with the match and with the victory.”
The former world No. 6 was sidelined last year for a period with a knee injury. He improved to 8-2 in career finals.
“You never know if you’re going to win more after, so I enjoy it every time,” Simon said. “It’s nice also for me to win here, to win some different tournaments.”
Troicki was up two breaks in the second set 3-0, and broke again later in the set, but failed to maintain his momentum. He fell to 1-3 in career finals.
“I had a lot of chances that I didn’t use, and obviously Gilles doesn’t suit my game,” Troicki said. “For the past five matches already I haven’t been able to figure out how to win a set.”
Li Surprises Clijsters for WTA Sydney Title
Former No. 1 Kim Clijsters looked ready to step up to the podium and claim the Medibank International Sydney title after racing to a 5-0 lead in the first set, but the Belgian took her foot off the gas pedal and could never recover, losing to China’s No. 8-seeded Li Na 7-6(3), 6-3.
“I think I just softened the quality of my strokes,” Clijsters said. “I wasn’t hitting as deep or aggressively as before, and she took over very quickly…Mentally she maybe gets a little bit nervous in big matches, but she can beat any top player out there when she’s playing her best. She’s very dangerous.”
It was the fourth career title for the 28-year-old Li, who last year won at Birmingham on grass. She improved to 4-4 in career finals. Li had lost four of her five previous meetings against Clijsters.
The Belgian fell to 40-18 in career finals, and 6-1 since her comeback from retirement.
“Every time I saw the name of the [Sydney] champion I would think, ‘Oh, when will my name be there?’ Also, when you walk to center court, you can see many pictures of champions over there,” Li said. “So after today I talked to my team, saying we will come next year and see my picture.”
Fiery Groth Denies Mattek-Sands 1st Career Title in WTA Hobart Final
Australian Jarmila Groth won her second career title on Saturday in Hobart, denying American Bethanie Mattek-Sands her first after a 6-4, 6-3 victory in the final of the Moorilla Hobart International in Australia.
The 23-year-old Groth, born in Slovakia but an Australian citizen since 2009, won her first title last year at Guangzhou.
“It’s a home title so is it my highest point? Probably, yeah,” Groth told the media. Last week Groth made headlines when during some on-court coaching by her husband, ATP player Sam Groth, she shouted at him, “Stop treating me like a f*****g tourist!”
Hopefully it’s not the last one and I can still improve,” Groth said. “I still have a couple days hopefully to prepare in Melbourne so I will leave in the morning, practice and I’ll try to do what I did this week.”
Mattek-Sands fell to 0-3 in WTA finals, formerly a runner-up twice at Quebec City.
“I think I served pretty well today. I mean it was up and down but the times I did, I got some aces in,” said Mattek-Sands, who the previous week with John Isner led the U.S. to the Hopman Cup title. “I’m really excited — this is the best beginning I’ve had in a long time. I’m healthy, and that’s the most important thing.”
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will play an exhibition match on Sunday ahead of the Australian Open to raise funds for the country’s flood victims in the state of Queensland. The “Rally for Relief” will also feature Novak Djokovic, Kim Clijsters, Lleyton Hewitt, Sam Stosur and Pat Rafer…Former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic lost in the 1st rd. last week at Sydney to Aravane Rezai…According to the Herald-Sun, the WTA headliners are set to debut their new 2011 attire at the Aussie Open. Maria Sharapova will show off her Nike outfit featuring a boomerang-style back piece as an Australian reference with day-glo orange; Caroline Wozniacki will wear a weird-looking high-waisted dancer style dress from adidas’ Stella McCartney, while adidas’ Ana Ivanovic will wear a bright purple and green outfit; Fila will celebrate 100 years by dressing Kim Clijsters in a re-creation of a green outfit once worn by Evonne Goolagong (yawn); Sam Stosur will wear a new outfit from Lacoste…From SMH on Aussie problem child Bernard Tomic: “After his limp 6-2, 6-2 loss to Florian Mayer in the first round of the Brisbane International as, yes, a wildcard entrant again, Twitter comments included ‘eagerly awaiting Bernard and his dad to slam organisers for scheduling him in afternoon.’ Another tweet was that Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter described Tomic as having an ‘XFactor about him.’ Perhaps, but as both Xtremely talented and Xceptionally high-maintenance.”…On-air personalities Martina Navratilova and Lindsay Davenport had their contracts extended with Tennis Channel…France’s Nicolas Mahut came out on court for the Hopman Cup mixed doubles in a dress that matched his partners’…Former No. 1 Dinara Safina won one game off Marion Bartoli in the first round at Hobart…SI.com’s Bruce Jenkins on Vera Zvonareva: “She’s making herself impossible to ignore. Until last year, she was a horribly ill-tempered woman who would systematically destroy any chance of winning a big match with godawful bursts of temper, most of them requiring little or no provocation.” — Uhh, Bruce, she’s still that way, the only difference now is she’s winning more matches. Watch her burst into tears, or maybe flames, during the Aussie Open…The WTA Auckland event sold out for the first time, reportedly on the star power of Maria Sharapova. Sharapova is looking to pick up Aussie Open ranking points after last year losing in the first round to Maria Kirilenko in an easy-on-the-eyes match-up…Last year was the worst Grand Slam showing for American men in the history of the Open Era, with Andy Roddick’s quarterfinal effort at the 2010 Australian Open the best performance…There are four American men in the Top 20, but only one other player, No. 99-ranked Michael “Iron Mike” Russell, in the Top 100. Yikes, that is a giant talent hole. Almost an Australian-sized talent hole…Long-time Cincinnati Tournament Director Paul Flory was unexpectedly canned this past week by the USTA, with no replacement to announce. “I’m proud of what the tournament has achieved over the years, and I’m looking forward to seeing the continued growth,” a surprised Flory told the Cincinnati Enquirer. The USTA took over the tournament in 2008, and Flory had been the director since 1999. “We’re at a transition point in the tournament,” USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said. “We felt that with the combined event coming up, it was time to look at the overall internal structure of the tournament, and we decided to change the approach to a certain degree so moving forward we see the same type of growth the original team put in place.” Flory will reportedly remain as a consultant through 2011…Embattled American Wayne Odesnik, caught with HGH last year and now trying to work his way back on tour at lower-level events, has now told the AP in his ever-changing story that he was going to apply for an exemption for HGH!: “Odesnik has said he bought the performance-enhancing substance to treat a recurring injury and intended to apply for a therapeutic use exemption.” — Maybe Martina Hingis should have tried to apply for a therapeutic exemption for coke…16-year-old American Christian Harrison is back from injury and playing Futures events, and says he wants to get his ranking high enough to play doubles with older brother Ryan…Maria Sharapova debuted her giant rock of an engagement ring in Australia…Melbourne police are putting out warnings to Australian Open fans in hopes of avoiding some of the warring ethnic factions going at it again. The more than 600,000 people expected to attend the Australian Open this year can expect on-the-spot fines of up to $478 for drunken, disorderly or offensive conduct, $239 for threatening or abusive language, and $500 fines for wearing those dumb-ass kangaroo ears. We made that last one up…Marcos Baghdatis pulled from Sydney with a groin injury, is he ready for the Aussie Open?…What happened, or didn’t happen, during world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki’s off season? After switching from Babolat to Yonex, the Dane’s Aussie Open preparation consisted of getting waxed 6-1, 6-0 in an exhibition, losing another exo, and losing in her first match at the WTA Sydney event…Some surprising names in the Aussie Open qualifying include Chile’s Nicolas Massu, France’s Nicolas Mahut, and Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller (remember when he beat Andy Roddick at the US Open?)…Aussie Open wildcards have gone to Aussies Marinko Matosevic, Peter Luczak, Matt Ebden, Carsten Ball, Bernard Tomic, Olivia Rogowska, Jelena Dokic, Alicia Molik, Sally Peers, and Sophie Ferguson; Americans Ryan Harrison and Lauren Davies; France’s Benoit Paire and Virginie Razzano; and India’s Somdev Devvarman and Taipei’s Kei-Chen Chang…The WTA tour is moving ahead with plans to eventually put a “Premier”-level event in week one of the new year, which is freaking with the current small pre-Aussie Open events on the WTA calendar.
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