Murray Torks Nadal; Marat Mouthing Off; Weekend Wrap and Previews
Nadal, Murray Head Loaded ATP Shanghai Masters Field
The third-year Shanghai Rolex Masters in China this week is without world No. 1 Novak Djokovic (back injury) and Roger Federer (resting), but the Masters event still boasts the majority of the Top 20 players and will be a fertile ground for players looking for points to qualify for the year-end Masters event.
2009 runner-up Rafael Nadal is the top seed, joined by defending champ Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Mardy Fish, Tomas Berdych, Nicolas Almagro, Gilles Simon, Janko Tipsarevic, Andy Roddick, Viktor Troicki, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Stanislas Wawrinka, Jurgen Melzer, Florian Mayer, and Fernando Verdasco.
Opening-round meetings of interest abound in Shanghai, including (WC) David Nalbandian vs. Ernests Gulbis, (9) Tipsarevic vs. Feliciano Lopez, (6) Berdych after a bye vs. Radek Stepanek, (3) Ferrer after a bye vs. the Milos Raonic-Michael Llodra winner, former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero vs. Mikhail Youzhny, the struggling (10) Roddick vs. (Q) Yen-Hsun Lu, (5) Fish after a bye vs. the Bernard Tomic-Kevin Anderson winner, (14) Melzer vs. Ivan Ljubicic, (11) Troicki vs. (Q) Ryan Harrison, (13) Wawrinka after a bye vs. (Q) Donald Young, and (2) Murray, coming off a long week, after a bye vs. the Thomaz Bellucci-Dmitry Tursunov winner.
American Mardy Fish is the only seed making his debut at the event. Other players missing the event this week include Robin Soderling (mono), Gale Monfils (knee), Richard Gasquet, Juan Martin Del Potro, Juan Ignacio Chela, and 2009 champion Nikolay Davydenko.
The team of Melzer-Leander Paes won the doubles title last year, and this year both return with their regular partners — Melzer with German Philipp Petzschner, and Paes with Indian countryman Mahesh Bhupathi. The Bryan brothers are the top seeds in the doubles draw, with all-unseeded Spanish teams of note Nadal-Marc Lopez and Lopez-Verdasco.
Ivanovic, Petkovic Withdrawals Leave WTA Linz Lame
The Generali Ladies Linz this week in Austria took a hit when defending champion Ana Ivanovic pulled from the event, and No. 2 seed Andrea Petkovic also exited citing a knee injury.
Reigning Wimbledon champ (WC) Petra Kvitova heads the field, joined by fellow seeds (WC) Jelena Jankovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Sabine Lisicki, Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges, Dominika Cibulkova, Daniela Hantuchova, and Flavia Pennetta on the indoor hardcourts.
Kvitova opens against Canadian comer Rebeca Marino, and Pennetta against Russian veteran Elena Vesnina. Other floaters in the field are Lucie Safarova and Tamira Paszek.
Hantuchova (2007) is the lone returning champ in the field.
Stosur, Bartoli Look to Print Title Efforts at 2011 HP Open in Osaka
Asian intrigue surrounds this week’s HP Open Osaka outdoor hardcourt event, where rumor has it that every player will receive an elaborate gift basket featuring a low-end HP refurbished printer.
The seedings in Osaka swing wildly, beginning with Top 10er Sam Stosur, and end-capped by No. 49-ranked American Christine McHale. Other seeded players are Marion Bartoli, Angelique Kerber, Petra Cetkovska, Jarmila Gajdosova, Ayumi Morita and Chanelle Scheepers.
Wildcards went to Bartoli and Japan’s Aiko Nakamura and Kurumi Nara.
Upset opening-round matches of interest include (7) Scheepers vs. Russian Alla Kudryavtseva, and(4) Cetkovska vs. the ageless Kimiko Date-Krumm.
Returning champions in the field are Tamarine Tanasugarn (2010) and Stosur (2009).
Murray Beats Nadal, Wins Singles and Doubles at Japan Open
Former world No. 1 Rafael Nadal’s troubles at the hands of virtually every other top player continued on Sunday in the Japan Open final when he failed to close the door after a first-set win, falling to eventual champion Andy Murray 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the Tokyo final. Murray also won the doubles title with brother Jamie.
“[Novak] Djokovic set the bar pretty high with his year and his records so far, so I’ve got to try and keep up somehow,” joked Murray after claiming his fourth title of the year, far short of the Serb’s tally. “I’ve played well in the last few months in Cincinnati and then the US Open. I need to carry on that form in Shanghai. I need to keep up the wins and hopefully I’ll get to the No. 3 ranking.”
Nadal dropped to 46-20 in career finals after failing to defend the title he won in 2010. “He played unbelievable, he didn’t make any mistakes in the third set,” Nadal said. “He played very aggressive and made no mistakes.”
Berdych Breaks Down Cilic for China Open Crown
Tomas Berdych captured his first title of the year Sunday in his first 2011 final, ending a 29-month title drought by topping Croat Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to win the China Open in Beijing.
“To win this title means really a lot to me because it’s after 29 months,” said Berdych after winning his sixth career title. “It was quite a long time, so I’m happy that I could break this up. I think I couldn’t have a better place to win a title than here in Beijing. I did a great move to have a good chance to qualify for London (year-end championships).”
Cilic was unseeded at the event, and after winning the first set, slowly saw the wheels come off his title effort. “I had two advantages at 4-4 [in the second set], got maybe a little bit tense and he served two big first serves,” Cilic said. “From then on, I think he started to play a little bit better and wasn’t giving me as much and I wasn’t finding right solutions for the game after that.”
Streaking Radwanska Wins Again at China Open in Beijing
Aggie Radwanska won her second consecutive WTA title after Tokyo on Sunday, defeating Andrea Petkovic 7-5, 0-6, 6-4 to win the China Open in Beijing.
“If someone said I was going to win these two tournaments, I’d say they were crazy. All of the top players were playing,” Radwanska said. “But I was playing better and better every match, especially in Tokyo. I feel like Tokyo was my biggest title already so when I came here I felt like I had nothing to lose. I just tried to keep going and not think about anything, and just fight for every point.”
It was the fifth consecutive win over Petkovic for Radwanska.
“Me and Agnieszka always have long matches. Even when it’s two sets we always play very long rallies and always play good matches,” Petkovic said. “In two or three days, when the disappointment settles a little bit, I’ll be able to look back at this as a really great match and great entertainment for the people.”
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
John Isner on Facebook: “Contrary to reports, I pulled out of Beijing and Shanghai due to illness NOT an abdominal strain. I have a 12-pack I mean cmon!!”…U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier says American tennis is finally starting to kick itself in the ass: “There was a time period where maybe our players were not getting the best out of themselves, and I think right now there’s a renewed sense of commitment and work ethic that our kids need. You can’t just get by on talent. I mean, Donald Young is a prime example. He was the No. 1 junior in the world at 16 years of age, but it’s taken him six years to figure out what he needs to do training-wise to compete at the professional level. You can’t just rely on your skill to get this done. You have to commit the time and the energy, both on and off the court, to compete with these guys and girls who are the best at what they do.”…Reigning French Open champ Li Na, who has not posted a major result since raising the trophy in Paris, is ready to put the racquets in the bag after crashing out of the China Open 6-4, 6-0 in the first round: “I’ve just lost all confidence now,” said the 29 year old, who is back with her husband as coach after a trial with Dane Michael Mortensen. “I don’t know what I can do. Even winning one point is tough for me. For me it seems like the end of the season right now. I need a long break — for the body and the mind.”…In Beijing to promote his exo with Pete Sampras, Marat Safin says his sister Dinara is done with tennis, and will not make a return after battling chronic back issues: “Dinara was injured two years ago, in Beijing, remember?” Safin told Russian Eurosport. “She left, but never recovered completely. She tried to return, but only aggravated the crisis. Now she needs to keep her back to be able to walk normally and live a normal life. It will continue to be treated, but she will play no more…She will make an official statement herself, but as her brother, I believe that there is no chance of return.” — Safina later took to her Twitter account to say she had not retired…Serb David Savic, banned for life from pro tennis for match fixing, says he will appeal his innocence and that he was set up to get caught by a “current top player”: “That is an absolute lie,” Savic said in a statement regarding being accused of asking another player to throw a match in exchange for cash. “I was obviously chosen as a scapegoat. Without any concrete evidence, I became a drastic example for other players.”…Andy Roddick responding to a Chinese reporter’s question about retirement with “I think you should retire!” Zing, Andy! Nice comeback…Seville in Spain will be the venue for the Davis Cup final in early December, when the host nation meets Argentina. Argentina hosted their last meeting in the 2008 final which Spain won, denying the Argentines a first Davis Cup title. Seville hosted the 2004 final when they pounded the U.S…According to the math geeks, four players are still in the running to take away Caroline Wozniacki’s world No. 1 year-end ranking: Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova and Li Na.
Also Check Out:
Year End Bust
Davis Cup Wrap: Czechs at Croatia, Israel at Spain in Semis
ATP Previews: Davydenko Opens vs. Safin in Moscow; Stockholm
Davis Cup Quarterfinal Previews
Legg Mason Day 6: Rain, rain, go away