Federer Bruising in Basel; Henman Injured, Waffling on Davis Cup

Posted on October 27, 2006

Federer Wins; Gonzo, Nalbandian Save MPs at Basel

Third-seeded Fernando "Gonzo" Gonzalez saved six match points to stave off Mardy Fish 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(8) Thursday at the Swiss Indoors in Basel.

Fish led 6-2 in the third-set breaker, but Gonzalez won the next four points. The Chilean then saved two more match points before Fish double-faulted on the last point. Gonzo now will face Argentine teen Juan Martin del Potro, a 6-3, 6-2 victor over George Bastl.

Playing in front of his Swiss fans, world No. 1 Roger Federer earned his 21st straight match win with a 6-2, 6-0 destruction of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

"I'm playing unbelievable right now," Federer said to the press afterward. "To take control of the match the way I did today was surprising...I felt like I couldn't miss much."

Federer has never won his home tournament in Basel.

Also, David Nalbandian saved a match point in his win over Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-6(7).

Awaiting Nalbandian in the quarterfinals is Federer's countryman Stan Wawrinka, who upended Tim Henman 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. Henman injured his knee in the loss, likely ending his season.

Also advancing to the quarterfinals were Jose Acasuso and Paradorn Srichaphan. The seventh-seeded Argentine defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(2), 6-1 while the Thai star upset Juan Ignacio Chela 6-4, 6-3.

Gasquet, Grosjean Thrill Locals in Lyon

Fourth-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet gave his locals reason to cheer after beating big-serving Belgian Dick Norman 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals at Lyon.

The 20-year-old Gasquet has won 22 of last 29 matches, and will now face Swede Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals.

Joining Gasquet is sixth-seeded Sebastien Grosjean, a 7-6(5), 6-2 winner over French countryman Cyril Saulnier 7-6 (5), 6-2. Grosjean next will face his third straight Frenchman, Marc Gicquel.

2004 Lyon finalist and No. 7 seed Xavier Malisse ousted Julien Benneteau 6-2, 7-6 (5). Malisse now gets American Robby Ginepri, a 6-1, 6-2 winner over Germany's Simon Greul.

Former champion and Frenchman Arnaud Clement became the fourth Frenchman into the final eight following a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(2) victory over countryman Michael Llodra. Clement will face No. 8 Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals.

Ancic Wins, Haas Hopes Dashed at St. Pete

No. 3 seed Mario Ancic kept his slim hopes of a Shanghai bid alive following a 6-3, 6-4 win over Dutchman "Everybody Loves" Raemon Sluiter in second-round play Thursday in St. Petersburg.
Ancic enjoyed nine aces and never faced a break point in the second set. He'll next plays Max "The Beast" Mirnyi, who beat Andrei Pavel of Romania 6-3, 7-5.

Russian Igor Kunitsyn stunned fourth seed Tommy Haas 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-2, effectively ending the German's hopes of qualifying for the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup.

"It was a tough match. At some points, especially in the first set, I was playing good," Haas told the AP. "If I held my serve in the ninth game of the first set, I would have won the match."

Kunitsyn will face Potito Starace of Italy in Friday's quarterfinals.

Also Thursday, Czech Jan Hernych took care of Australian qualifier Wayne Arthurs 6-4, 6-4.

Sharapova, Schnyder Win Linz Openers

LINZ, Austria -- Faced with a stiff first set challenge from Eleni Daniilidou on Thursday afternoon, Maria Sharapova hung tough then pounced at her first opportunity, storming into the Generali Ladies Linz quarterfinals in straight sets. Patty Schnyder also won her opener, keeping herself in the running for a berth in the Sony Ericsson Championships.

Sharapova, the top seed, and Daniilidou, a qualifier, hung on tightly to their serves throughout the first 10 games, but it was the Russian who cracked open the match with a break, going up 6-5. She blasted three aces in serving out the set and then cruised through the second after her opponent called for a medical time-out for dizziness, losing only three points in the last four games of the match and improving to 4-0 lifetime against the former Top 15 player from Greece.

"She played really good, solid tennis," Sharapova said after the match. "We both held serve for a while, and I had a couple of break points against me, but I saved them. I had a few opportunities in the first set but didn't take them at first. I was able to break her and keep moving forward."

Sharapova is now 13-0 since stepping onto the quick hard courts of the US Open, winning her second career Grand Slam there and capturing her fourth title of the season at Zurich just last week. In the Linz quarterfinals, which all take the court on Friday, she will face fellow teen Ana Ivanovic, whom she has never played.

"I think It'll be a matter of figuring out her game as early as possible," Sharapova added. "So we'll see, but I need to figure her game out."

Ivanovic, seeded No.5 this week, made it to her seventh quarterfinal of the year, and her first since winning her second and biggest ever Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title at the Tier I Rogers Cup in Montreal, with a straightforward 62 62 victory over another qualifier, Polish youngster Agnieszka Radwanska.

"It was a very tough match even though the score didn't say that," Ivanovic said. "She's a very good player and runs very well so you have to win all of the points yourself. She's not going to give you any free points."

The 18-year-old Ivanovic, who withdrew from her last two events due to right shoulder tendonitis, is also looking forward to Friday's first-time clash with one of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's biggest names.

"This is very exciting for me," she commented. "Maria is a great competitor and after winning the title last week is obviously in good form. But it's very important that I play aggressive. I had some time off with my injury but I feel good and confident now that I have two wins here."

Schnyder toughs out opener, keeps Madrid hopes alive

For Patty Schnyder, a loss in her first match here would have dashed her hopes of qualifying for the upcoming Sony Ericsson Championships. But despite losing a tight opening set she never gave up, rallying past Nathalie Dechy, a player she had lost to twice before, 67(1) 64 63. She is now 4-2 against the Frenchwoman.

Schnyder is one of three players duking it out for the last two singles berths of the $3-million, season-ending event. Her competition, Swiss compatriot Martina Hingis and Belgium's Kim Clijsters, are both inactive this week, but have strong leads over Schnyder in the Race Standings. Schnyder must at least make this week's final to stay in the running for one of the remaining berths in Madrid.

Schnyder will have another tough test in Friday's quarterfinals as she takes on Russia's Vera Zvonareva. Zvonareva advanced to the quarters after the dramatic last match of the day, which resulted in an injury retirement from Mary Pierce.

Pierce had taken the first set and was up 6-5 in the second, with three match points, when she fell on the court, holding her left knee. She was taken away on a stretcher, and rushed to the hospital; Zvonareva, who ended up with a 46 66 win, was one of the first to react, immediately running over to get her some ice, and appeared much more concerned about her injured opponent than anything else during post-match interviews.

Rounding out the Generali Ladies Linz quarterfinal line-up will be No.6-seeded Jelena Jankovic and Samantha Stosur, who both won competitive second round matches Thursday. Jankovic outlasted Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina, 67(4) 64 62, and Stosur beat No.7 seed Anna Chakvetadze, 64 64. The win over the 13th-ranked Chakvetadze was Stosur's ninth career Top 20 victory, and fifth this year.

No.2 seed Nadia Petrova and No.4 seed Nicole Vaidisova grabbed quarterfinal berths on Wednesday with straight set wins. All four quarterfinals will take the court Friday.
-- WTA

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Eliot Teltscher
, the USTA's Director of High Performance until September when he stepped down, on the U.S. tennis panic this year: "I thought there was a little bit of an overreaction. We should take it seriously and not make excuses -- it was a bad French Open and a bad Wimbledon. But we also shouldn't panic. Everyone needs to take a step back and see that we have two guys in the Top 10 and still have a lot of good women in the game."...From Richard Vach writing for Tennis.com on the U.S. women's tennis well drying up for top players: "The death knell for U.S. women's tennis was first rung in January 2005, to little fanfare, when Jennifer Capriati underwent shoulder surgery. That year the U.S. finished with only two players in the Top 10, tying the lowest-ever U.S. tally. In 2006, the U.S. women will finish with zero. "That's tough for you guys," says world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo. "It is definitely maybe something wrong in the way, I don't know what is going on in the way of the USTA finding the next kid...You have basketball, baseball, you have a lot of other sports and tennis is suffering right now. We suffered in Europe a couple of years ago, it is much better now. It is difficult to produce champions decade after decade. You guys were lucky for 30 or 40 years." http://www.tennis.com/features/general/features.aspx?id=50392 ...What happened to the WTA blogger this week in Linz?...From tennis writer Matt Cronin: "FEDERER RE-THINKS ROUND ROBIN IDEA: The No. 1 figured it out: Round robins at regular tournaments don't benefit him because it means he'd have to play another match. So much for global thinking from the global player."...Andy Roddick (ankle), Ivan Ljubcic (throat infection) and Marcos Baghdatis (???) withdrew from the Masters Series-Paris, ending Baghdatis' hopes for the year-end Masters Cup...From the Kim Clijsters blog: "Despite tripping over my dog and bruising my tailbone last week's training went fine. I feel ready to have a go at it at the Gaz de France Stars in Hasselt from Wednesday onwards...Whether or not I'll be at the Masters is not so much of a concern to me. I have said it before that it would be hard against the top players after two months of absence anyway. But that is not on focus right now, we'll see how things go after Hasselt."...Serena Williams with a message of congratulations to the players who qualified for the Nike International Masters junior tournament: "This is Serena saying 'hello'! I know you guys are out there trying your best and it's important that you do. Also remember to enjoy what you're doing. I love tennis, and because I'm so passionate, I've been able to win a couple championships. You can be successful too, just remember to stay focused, stay committed, practice the right techniques, and enjoy yourself out there!" -- Won't touch that..."Gentleman" Tim Henman refused to shake hands with the chair umpire after his Thursday loss over what he perceived to be a bad call...Former Aussie player Scott Draper is now playing "qualifying school" events in an attempt to get his PGA Tour card...From The Daily Mail: "Tim Henman agrees with Andy Murray's assertion that recalling him to the Great Britain squad might be a retrograde step. Henman has yet to make a decision on whether he will come out of Davis Cup retirement to play alongside Murray in April against Holland. He said he would continue to have talks with team captain John Lloyd, new Davis Cup coach Peter Lundgren, his own coach Paul Annacone and, of course, Murray. He backed the Scot's claim that bringing a 32-year-old back into the team would take away an opportunity for younger players. "Andy made a valid point," said Henman. "I'm not going to play forever and maybe this is the time when the younger players should step up. "Sooner or later they're going to have to play without Greg Rusedski and myself. Whether that should happen next April, I don't know. We'll talk about it nearer the time."...Mikhail Youzhny's damaged ankle ligaments mean he will miss the Davis Cup final.

Also see:
Weighing the Round Robin