Andy Roddick is off to another excellent start to a tennis season. The American former No. 1 was sharp today in a 6-2, 6-3 win over Marcos Baghdatis in the quarters at Brisbane.
Roddick ripped Baghdatis breaking the Cypriot four times in eight service games.
“I felt good about pretty much everything tonight,” said Roddick. “The conditions were a little heavier, which made it tougher to create and that’s probably why you saw a lot of break point opportunities; the serves weren’t jumping through. On the flip side my slice was staying down, and it was tough to create off of that. That won me a lot of baseline rallies tonight.”
A lot of baseline rallies? That is the new Roddick! It’s a good thing he’s fit, too.
“This is probably the first time since May of last year where I haven’t felt like I’m playing catch-up or trying to cover something up,” he said. “I can play with all my options, because I’m confident that my fitness is there. So it’s more exciting.”
Roddick, who is the defending champ in Brisbane, gets a day off before a battle against the 6-foot-7 Kevin Anderson on Saturday in the semifinals.
Top-seeded Robin Soderling, a winner Thursday over Michael Berrer, meets Aussie qualifier Matthew Ebden.
Further North and many miles away in Doha, it appears that we are headed for another Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal clash. Can it really be? After the two buddies (or couple if you will) spent much of the off-season getting to know each other better, they are just a win each from a Saturday finals showdown. But Nadal, who’s been pestered by a cold this week, will have to stave off Nikolay Davydenko tomorrow in the semifinals.
“I think he’s playing unbelievable, so it’s gonna be a very difficult match,” Nadal when asked of facing Dayvdenko. “I’m gonna try my best tomorrow, and I know it’s gonna be a real difficult match. We will see what’s going on, what happens, and hopefully I feel good physically tomorrow.”
Davydenko took out Ivo Karlovic 7-5, 6-3, while Nadal won his fourth straight over Ernests Gulbis 7-6, 6-3.
For Federer, after a strong win today over Victor Troicki 6-2, 6-2, he’ll meet the streaky JW Tsonga. The Frenchman is back at good strength after a two-breaker win over G-Lo.
“First of all, it’s nice to see him back,” Fed said of JW. “It’s never nice to miss those guys because of injuries. I think it’s exciting playing him again. I think he’s a very explosive player with good character, good for the game. Looking forward to the match, it’s going to be difficult. It seems like he’s hitting the ball really well already early in the season. He seems really energized, and that’s nice to see.”
So will it be Federer-Nadal this weekend? My guess is no. At some point the numbers are going to catch up and one of them will be ousted. Plus, if we get it this weekend could we really get another such matchup in Australia? Heck, after not playing against each other for 18 months or so now their playing every week! Something’s got to give tomorrow and I think it will be Rafa.
Nadal, who’s already in the doubles final, has been less than 100% and I think Davydenko can and will take him down. As for Federer, Tsonga hits with pace something the Swiss likes. So I do think Roger should get through in straight sets. But I’ll pick Davydenko only because Roger and Rafa can’t play at every tournament now, can they?
In Chennai tomorrow, the quarterfinals feature Tomas Berydch v. Kavcic, Kei Nishikori v. Janko Tipsarevic, Robin Haase v. Stan Wawrinka (the now divorced Stan Wawrinka) and Malisse v. Phau.
In women’s tennis, the big news was the stunning loss in Auckland by top seed Maria Sharapova to Greta Arn 6-2, 7-5. That is not a good result for Maria if she has designs on getting back into the Top 5.
“When you’re in those situations, whether you’re down or up, you have to figure things out. You’re on your own,” Sharapova said after falling to the 31-year-old Hungarian who had never won a match against a Top 20 player until Thursday. “Sometimes you do the same things and the balls go in. Today, a few more went out than I would have liked. But the tournament will still be here without me. I’d love to come back.”
Since her Australian Open title in 2008, Sharapova has won just three titles while battling shoulder injuries. And the former No. 1 is still ranked way down at No. 18. The future is not looking good, at least not on the tennis court for Maria.
And since I know many of you follow it – and it’s been airing on the Tennis Channel – at the Hopman Cup exo, team Serbia with Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic are into the final where they will meet either France, Italy or the USA.
FRIDAY BRISBANE SCHEDULE
PAT RAFTER ARENA start 11:00 am
R Stepanek (CZE) vs  F Mayer (GER) – ATP
 M Mirnyi (BLR) / D Nestor (CAN) vs  L Dlouhy (CZE) / P Hanley (AUS) – ATP
 R Soderling (SWE) vs [Q] M Ebden (AUS) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
J Groth (AUS) or A Petkovic (GER) vs  M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA
P Kvitova (CZE) vs  A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) – WTA
FRIDAY DOHA SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 4:30 pm
 J Tsonga (FRA) vs  R Federer (SUI)
 R Nadal (ESP) vs  N Davydenko (RUS)
 M Lopez (ESP) / R Nadal (ESP) vs D Bracciali (ITA) / A Seppi (ITA) – After Possible Suitable Rest
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