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Archive for June, 2007

Head-to-head: Baghdatis leads 2-1

Baghdatis defeated Latvian Ernests Gulbis 36 64 63 62 in the first round and then recorded the 100th victory of his career in defeating Nicolas Devilder 60 76 67 64 in the second.

Baghdatis is making his third consecutive Wimbledon appearance. He had his best result here last year, reaching the semifinals by defeating Andy Murray 63 64 76 in the last 16 and Lleyton Hewitt 61 57 76 62 in the quarterfinals, before losing to Rafael Nadal 61 75 63. He lost to Mikhail Youzhny 62 36 61 64 in the first round on his debut in 2005.

2006 was an outstanding year for Baghdatis. Before reaching the Wimbledon semifinals, he advanced to his first Grand Slam final at the 2006 Australian Open, as world No. 54 recording three consecutive wins over Top Ten players – No. 3 Andy Roddick in the round of 16, No. 8 Ivan Ljubicic in the quarterfinals and No. 4 David Nalbandian in the semifnials – before falling in the final to No. 1 Roger Federer 57 75 60 62.

By contrast, Baghdatis lost in the second rounds at 2006 Roland Garros and the 2006 US Open, but the above results combined with winning his first career title at 2006 Beijing saw his ranking jump up 44 places throughout the year to end the season at No. 12.

This is Baghdatis’s 12th Grand Slam event and he is bidding to reach the round of 16 at a major for the fifth time.

In 2007, Baghdatis has picked up where he left off in 2006, although his Grand Slam results have been less impressive so far. He won his second career title at Zagreb on indoor carpet (d. Ivan Ljubicic 76 46 64 in the final), and also reached another final two weeks later at Marseille on indoor hard (l. to Gilles Simon 64 76), and a third final at Halle on grass (l. Tomas Berdych 75 64). His best Grand Slam result to date this season was a round of 16 appearance at Roland Garros (l. Igor Andreev 26 61 63 64).

2007 Halle marked Baghdatis’s first career grass court final. That was the only tournament he played on this surface ahead of 2007 Wimbledon, as he then withdrew from ’s-Hertogenbosch with a foot injury.

Baghdatis was ITF Junior World Champion in 2003, winning the boys’ singles at the Australian Open and finishing runner-up in that event at the US Open that year. He fared less well at Wimbledon during his junior career, losing in the boys’ singles second round on both of his appearances here, in 2001-02.

Nalbandian, playing in his fifth Wimbledon, defeated qualifier Mischa Zverev 63 64 62 in the first round and lucky loser Frank Dancevic 62 63 57 63 in the second round.

Nalbandian has maintained his record of always reaching the third round at Wimbledon. Last year he lost at this stage for the first time, losing to Fernando Verdasco 76 76 62, his earliest Wimbledon exit.

Nalbandian reached his first Grand Slam final on his Wimbledon debut in 2002. He defeated Nicolas Lapentti 64 64 46 46 64 in the quarterfinals and Xavier Malisse 76 64 16 26 62 in the semifinals, before losing to Lleyton Hewitt 61 63 62 in the final. This is his most successful Grand Slam performance to date and remarkably was achieved in his first ever professional grass court event.

Since reaching the final in 2002, Nalbandian’s best performance at Wimbledon has been a quarterfinal finish in 2005 (l. Thomas Johansson 76 62 62).

Nalbandian is one of two active players, along with Roger Federer, to have reached the semifinals or better at all four Grand Slams. He reached that stage here in 2002 en route to the final (see above), at the 2003 US Open, and at 2004 Roland Garros, and completed the set at the 2006 Australian Open. He reached his fifth Grand Slam semifinal at 2006 Roland Garros.

Nalbandian is playing a Top 10 player for the 53rd time in his career. He has a 20-32 win-loss record in his previous meetings with Top 10 players.

Nalbandian is joined in the third round by Guillermo Canas, who plays Lleyton Hewitt today. If both Argentines win today and advance to the round of 16, it will mark the second time in the Open Era that two Argentines have advanced to the round of 16 at Wimbledon. Nalbandian and Guillermo Coria achieved this for the first time in 2005.

Nalbandian warmed up for Wimbledon at Halle, but as No. 7 seed lost in the first round to Marc Gicquel 57 62 64.

Nalbandian reached the round of 16 at both the Australian Open and Roland Garros this year, losing to Tommy Haas 46 63 62 63 and Nikolay Davydenko 63 76 36 76 at that stage respectively.

Nalbandian’s other highlight of 2007 was reaching the quarterfinals at Barcelona. After a first round bye, he defeated two Spaniards (Alberto Martin and Carlos Moya) in the next two rounds before losing to another Spaniard David Ferrer 76 62.

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Wimbledon champion Roger Federer took just 11 minutes to wrap up a convincing 6-2 7-5 6-1 win over Argentine teen Juan Martin del Potro.

Federer returned with a two-set lead and soon secured his 50th straight win on grass. Federer’s next opponent is Marat Safin on Friday.

There were also wins for Rafael Nadal, Lleyton Hewitt and Novak Djokovic.

Federer enjoyed a fairly easy victory against the 18 year old Argentininan as he was in control through the whole match.

Federer dominated the match with a number on unretunable serves and some amazing shots that Del Potro had no answer to. He is very pleased with this victory, but he expects a tough challenge from Marat Safin in the third round.

Elsewhere, fifth seed Nadal enjoyed an easy day’s work with a 6-2 6-4 6-1 second-round victory over Austrian Werner Eschauer.

The Spaniard produced some outstanding groundstrokes on his way to a comfortable win and will now face 28th seed Roger Soderling of Sweden, who beat Frenchman Sebastian Grosjean 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-2.

It was a good day for the seeds in general, though sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko had to battle from two sets down to reach the third round as he finally beat Australian Chris Guccione 3-6 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-2.

Fourth seed Djokovic needed four sets to get past world number 67 Amer Delic, finally seeing off the American 6-3 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4). Delic played very well, especially on the net, but Djokovic prevailed with his famous all around game hitting some great shots off the base line and playing well on the net.

Australian 2002 champion Hewitt steamrolled through his second-round match against Italian Simone Bolelli 6-2 6-2 6-1.

American ninth seed James Blake enjoyed a second straight-sets win to move into the third round, defeating Romania’s Andrei Pavel 6-4 6-3 6-3.

The 15th seed Ivan Ljubicic needed just over an hour-and-a-half to get past Czech Jan Hernych 6-4 6-3 6-4 in his rain-delayed second-round match.

Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu faces the big Croatian next after he beat David Ferrer 6-3 6-4 6-3.

Big-serving Australian Wayne Arthurs defeated the Spanish 11th seed Tommy Robredo with a 6-3 7-6 (7/5) 6-3. But, it is a known fact that Robredo is playing very poor on grass.

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Teenager Paul Baker, the ball boy in Wimbledon, is probably the happiest person in the world, especially among tennis fans.

He will never forget the day when,at the age of 14, he was a ball boy on Centre Court for the 2006 final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. All those months of training, all those 12-hour days at the tournament were worth it. He said:

“When Federer won the final point, I was right there, I got goosebumps,”

“You have a smirk on your face afterwards. You cannot describe the feeling – but it is a good one,” he said.

“I loved every minute of it and I wanted to do it again,” he said after coming off centre court as ball boy to Federer in his opening match at this year’s tournament.

The London schoolboy said that it was too late for him to start practicing tennis at the age of 15 and added: “Nadal started when he was four, Federer when he was five.”

He also mentioned the contrasting temperaments of the two best players in the world:

“Federer is very gentleman-like. Nadal is more wanting to win every point, that sort of passion for the game,”

It was his debut appearance at Wimbledon last year and as he said: ” It was very intimidating but a great experience. I was shivering with nerves the first time.”

Being a ball boy requires lightning-fast reflexes, and Paul had the ultimate test when he was on court with Andy Roddick:

“I did Roddick once. You have got to move as soon as you see the ball coming,” he said.
“You don’t realise how hard they are hitting the ball until you have been a ball boy. It is coming straight at you.”

(source: Reuters)

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Here is a rap song Vince Spadea made just for Wimbledon:

Its all in the club, The All England Club,
playing singles, mixed and dubs,
slugging passing shots and mugs,
Roger trying to an ace, crowds filled with pretty face,
hotties trying to give a hug,
and I’m giving them the shrug,
cause I’m the menace of tennis at the Oscars of service winners,
its time for Wimbledon, mingling in England,
where’s my friends, where’s my Pims, where’s Tim Henman,
royal attendance, where’s Rich Branson, where’s my mansions,
if not now then when then,, if not you then who? Spadea ? Federer, the predator,
who’s betterer, than a big wall, or a big Nadal,
neither miss a ball ,
or the serve of Andy Roddick, Its hypnotic, its illogic, its a comet,
coming like a rocket, and its chronic. where’s our girl, Kournikova, Anna are you married?
strawberries and cream, I used to dream about a street, SW 19 ,
on Center court I’m hitting short wearing shorter shorts than Borg’s. who is Vince, where’s Williams, where’s Prince William, where’s my millions,
where’s Guga Brazilian. where’s my Brit civilians? come on Hewitt, come on do it,
just admit it, Nike said just do it and u did it, its not over Sharapova,
where’s my Rover, where’s my chauffeur get my gopher, this aint kosher.
get me back, to the days, of Johnny Mac, 18 16 making history, Bjorn’s a mystery,
I hear whispering, on the campus, that man Sampras serve attacked us,
the best ever? lets get clever maybe Federer,
how bout Henin, how about Lennon, how bout me and BBC? that be sweet,
on TV, eating scones and tea,
But I feel I won, cause I’m chillin in the Sun ,selling 4 million, having fun is number one,
I’m almost done, but my thoughts are never wrong, Wimby tennis anyone?
I aint lying sis, I’m a music scientist.
Martina, we will savor like Rod Laver, course I met her,
and Sir Edberg, Boris Becker, Having laughs with Steffi Graf ,
doing laundry with our Andre……. Agassi. Tennis’ Brad and Jolie,
has to be, something left to see,
Wimbledon, you’re my friend, our tradition, you’re our mission til the end.

(source: tennisnews)

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The only player that keeps the American dream alive in Wimbledon is Andy Roddick. He feels confidant, even though he knows that Roger Federer is once again in his way. Andy Roddick said:

“In order for me to be successful here I’ve got to beat him one time. That’s the way I look at it. You wake up, you work hard, you go after it again. That’s what I’m going to keep doing.”

American men’s tennis has been in the doldrums since Roddick won the US Open in 2003. It reached a new low at Roland Garros this year when all nine starters were knocked out in the first round.

Roddick, runner-up to Federer in 2004 and 2005, suffered a third round defeat by Andy Murray here last year when his career appeared to be in decline.

However, after hiring former No 1 Jimmy Connors as coach, the big-serving American appears to be back on track, winning the Queen’s Club title for the fourth time last week.

(source: gulfnews, photo taken from getty images)

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Arnaud Clement (FRA) v (Q) Nicolas Mahut (FRA)

            v        

Head-to-head: Mahut leads 2-0

This is the third meeting for these fellow Frenchmen, and the second in two weeks, Mahut having defeated Clement in the semifinals at Queen’s on his way to his first ATP final.

In the 18 June rankings, Clement was the French No. 2, while Mahut was the French No. 12.

Clement is playing his 11th Wimbledon, having competed here every year since making his debut as a qualifier in 1997. He lost in the second round here last year to David Nalbandian.

Clement’s best results at Wimbledon are two round of 16 finishes, in 2001 as No. 13 seed (l. Marat Safin 60 63 62) and unseeded in 2002 (loss to Nicolas Lapentti 3-6 7-5 2-6 7-5 6-3).

Clement has won eight of ten matches played on grass so far in 2007. He was a semifinalist at Queen’s, losing to today’s opponent Mahut (see head-to-head above), and reached the final at Nottingham last Saturday, falling to Ivo Karlovic 36 64 64.

Clement’s results on grass have been his best all season. Before arriving at Queen’s, he had only won back-to-back matches once all year, winning two in a row to record a quarterfinal finish on hard court at Zagreb (loss to Marcos Baghdatis 6-2 6-7 7-6).

Mahut is making his second appearance at Wimbledon. He made his debut last year as a direct entrant, and recorded the best Grand Slam result of his career by reaching the third round. He defeated Jurgen Melzer and Kristof Vliegen in the first and second rounds respectively before losing to eventual champion Roger Federer 63 76 64.

Although this is just his second Wimbledon, it is the 14th Grand Slam event of Mahut’s career. Apart from here last year (see above), he has never advanced beyond the second round of a major, and has lost in the first round ten times, including in his first nine Grand Slam appearances.

In last week’s qualifying competition, as No. 2 seed, Mahut defeated Noam Okun 75 63 in the first round, Joseph Sirianni 64 64 in the second round, and Simon Stadler 63 76 61 in the final qualifying round. It was his fourth attempt to qualify for Wimbledon, having been unsuccessful 2003-05.

Mahut had the best result of his career at Queen’s just over a week ago, advancing to his first career singles final. In an impressive run as an unseeded player, he upset four seeded opponents, No 11 Jonas Bjorkman in the second round, No. 5 Ivan Ljubicic in the round of 16, No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals and No. 14 Clement in the semis as detailed above. He lost in the final to No. 2 Andy Roddick 46 76 76, after having a match point in the second set tiebreak.

From Queen’s through three wins in qualifying for here, Mahut has now won eight of his last nine matches on grass. (Note: only main-draw tour-level matches are counted in a players’ win-loss record.)

Until Queen’s, the only time Mahut won back-to-back matches this season, including matches played at challenger level, was in winning two to reach the third round at AMS Indian Wells (loss to Andy Murray 6-1 6-3).

(source: tennisnews)

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This is what Andy himself said:

“I have done everything possible to get ready for Wimbledon. I have played practice sets the last few days but still cannot hit a topspin forehand properly. It has been six weeks of really hard work but I’m not 100% ready. The wrist is a VERY important part of tennis and there are a number of players who have made the decision to come back too soon and ended up with long term injuries and I do not want to take the risk and make the same mistake. The doctor has advised me not to play and that I probably need about ten days to be ready. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is going to rain for the next ten days. I love playing Wimbledon because of the great support I get from the British public and that is what I will miss the most”.

(source: andymurray.com) (picture taken from getty images)

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