Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Murray Overcomes Del Potro To Win Masters 1000 Title

Andy Murray had ended Juan Martin del Potro’s exceptional summer run last year at the US Open, and stemmed the start of a similar streak this season. The No. 3 seed battled past last week’s Washington champion 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-1 on Sunday at the Rogers Cup in Montreal to capture his fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, also becoming the first British winner in tournament history.

Murray, who will replace Rafael Nadal as the World No. 2 following his effort in Montreal, earned $443,500 and 1000 South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings points – further boosting his chances of qualifying for the elite Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held in November at the O2 in London. He also moved up to No. 3 in the US Open Series Bonus Challenge standings, trailing del Potro at No. 1 by 40 points.

Del Potro, playing his ninth match in 13 days, looked visibly spent compared to Murray in Sunday’s final. While Murray was making his first appearance since Wimbledon and had used the last two weeks getting acclimated to North American hard courts in Miami, del Potro had come to Montreal straight from last Sunday’s successful title defence in Washington, D.C. Additionally, whereas Murray had eased through the week without the loss of a set, del Potro had needed to save one match point Saturday in his win over Andy Roddick.

In spite of a fresher set of legs, Murray came within three points of a straight-sets loss as he struggled to control del Potro’s forehand returns during the opening two sets. The sixth-seeded del Potro – playing in his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final – took the mini-break in the first set tie-break to go up 5-4 when Murray placed a return wide, and served it out with an ace and blistering forehand winner past the Brit.

After trading early breaks of serve in the second set, del Potro made crucial saves to stay in the set but could not close out the match as Murray got back on level ground by clinching the tie-break. Del Potro said: “I felt my chance in the second set, tie-break second set, and I didn't take them. I was trying until the final, but it was so complicated for me. Andy is a good player. I think he's a very good winner of this tournament.”

After two hours and 17 minutes of evenly played tennis, Murray finally wore down the Argentine in the 27-minute third set as his opponent managed to win just nine points total – including four on serve.

"He was just making it really tough because of the way that he was playing and serving, and he was always giving himself a chance," said Murray. "I had to keep fighting and believing in myself, and that was enough in the end."

Murray, who is now 4-1 lifetime against del Potro, fired 16 aces in the match and won 67 per cent of second serve points compared to del Potro's 11 aces and 48 per cent.

The 22-year-old Scot became the first player to post 50 match wins this season (50-7), and also joined Nadal as title leaders after lifting his fifth ATP World Tour trophy in 2009. He also titled at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha (d. Roddick), the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Nadal), the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami (d. Djokovic) and the AEGON Championships in London (d. Blake). He improved to 13-6 lifetime in finals (4-1 in ATP World Tour Masters 1000) by winning five ATP World Tour titles for the second year in a row.

He said about his prospects for the remainder of the summer swing: "I feel like I've got a good chance of doing well at the US Open, but each week is a different week, and I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself. I'll just focus on Cincinnati."

Murray will be the first player other than Federer and Nadal, who both lost in the Rogers Cup quarter-finals on Friday, to rank No. 2 since Lleyton Hewitt on 18 July 2005. Already the highest-ranked Briton in ATP history, Murray will be the 12th player in the history of the ATP Rankings (since 1973) to reach No. 2 with a 585-point advantage over No. 3 Rafael Nadal’s total haul of 8,665 points.

He compared his two accomplishments in Montreal: "I've won a couple of Masters [1000 tournaments] now, so it still feels great, but the No. 2 - maybe because it's something different - that means maybe a little bit more, but winning a tournament here is still great."

World No. 6 Del Potro, who had won 10 straight matches coming into the final, was attempting to earn his third ATP World Tour title of the season and second in as many weeks after defeating Roddick last Sunday in Washington. The 20 year old fell to a 6-2 mark in ATP World Tour finals and a 42-11 season match record.

Despite the loss, del Potro was pleased with his effort in Montreal: “I never play a final in Masters, and the crowd and this tournament and everything, it's so good for me and for my future. I'm very happy to be in the final. I lost, but I'm happy. I don't have to think in the past and now see the future.”

Del Potro had emerged as a serious contender last summer, when he won his first four ATP World Tour titles in successive tournament appearances at Stuttgart, Kitzbuhel, Los Angeles and Washington. He missed the summer’s two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournaments, not ranked high enough at the time of entry, and extended his winning streak to 23 straight matches going into the US Open quarter-finals before losing to Murray.

The two players now head to next week’s Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 hard-court tournament in Cincinnati, where they are in the same quarter of the draw. Murray won the title last year in Cincinnati with victory over Novak Djokovic in the final.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2009/08/Montreal-Sunday-Murray-Overcomes-Del-Potro-In-Montreal.aspx)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Gonzalez Gathering Pace; Roddick Cuts Down Karlovic

Fernando Gonzalez maintained his perfect record in tour-level quarter-finals this season as he edged out the in-form Tommy Haas 7-5, 6-4 Friday to book his spot in the semi-finals of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, an ATP World Tour 500 tennis tournament in Washington, D.C.

The fourth seed, who is now undefeated in five tour-level quarter-finals this year, was made to work hard for his 27th victory of the season against a resilient Haas, who was bidding to reach his fourth tour-level semi-final in a row.

Dominant serving from both Gonzalez and Haas in the first set – they surrendered just two and three points respectively behind their first serves – led to a lack of break point chances. But Gonzalez was quick to pounce with the one chance he created in the 11th game, breaking to lead 6-5 before closing out the one-set lead after 45 minutes.

Watch live web streaming of Saturday's semi-finals (not available U.S.A or Brazil)

Gonzalez looked to be on his way to a more comfortable second-set score line as he broke twice to race out to a 5-2 lead. The No. 23-ranked Haas gave the Chilean food for thought as he recouped one of the breaks, but Gonzalez held strong to close out victory at the second time of asking, after 83 minutes.

The 29-year-old Gonzalez is one win away from reaching his second final in Washington, D.C., having defeated then World No. 1 Andre Agassi in the 2003 semi-finals before falling to Great Britain’s Tim Henman in the title match. He captured his 11th ATP World Tour title earlier in the season as he successfully defended his trophy in Vina del Mar (d. Acasuso).

Haas, 31, suffered his third quarter-final exit in Washington, D.C. as he dropped to a 26-12 mark on the season. The former World No. 2 has been rejuvenated of late, clinching his 12th ATP World Tour title in Halle (d. Djokovic) and reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals (l. to Federer) before opening his Olympus US Open Series campaign with a semi-final showing in LA (l. to Querrey) last week.

In the semi-finals Gonzalez will face defending champion Juan Martin del Potro, who advanced with a walkover over Robin Soderling when the Swede was forced to withdraw with a right elbow injury. The Roland Garros finalist will have an MRI today to determine the extent of the injury and whether he will play in the Rogers Masters, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Montreal, beginning Monday.

Looking ahead to his clash with del Potro, Gonzalez said, “We are really good friends. We have a few years in age difference, but we are really good friends.”

Gonzalez revealed that he took an extended break from the practice court immediately after Wimbledon to rest his right knee, which is affected by tendinitis.

Del Potro said of his walkover from Soderling: “It is very unfortunate Robin couldn’t play today. I was looking forward to this match against Robin as he has been playing incredibly well in the past months. I am sure it would have been a close match.”

Gonzalez takes a 3-0 career lead into the clash with the second-seeded Argentine, although the pair has not met since the 2007 Australian Open. The 20-year-old del Potro has since risen to No. 6 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings after a major breakthrough last summer, when he went on a 23-match winning streak that included four successive ATP World Tour titles and finished in a quarter-final loss to Andy Murray at the US Open.

“I played a very long match against Hewitt yesterday so this day off will help me to recover better for my semi-final match tomorrow against Gonzalez. I’ve lost to him three times in my career and I hope I can get my first win tomorrow,” said del Potro.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2009/08/Washington-Friday-Gonzalez-Edges-Haas.aspx)