Federer Match A Shocker

It almost seemed like an imposter was playing at the Open under the name of Roger Federer last night.

Fedrer lost in the quarter-finals to Czech Tomas Berdych 7-6,6-4,3-6,6-3, making his earliest exit at the Open since 2003.

Federer curiously won the opening toss and chose to receive. Things got worse from there.

Berdych hit winners from every angle on the court, seemingly leaving Federer defenseless. Berdych also had 14 aces.

Federer and the No. 6 seed had split their last 6 matches.

Federer had 40 unforced errors to only 21 by Berdych. Many of the unforced errors were forced by Berdych.

The crowd, very vocal earlier in the day when Andy Roddick played and lost his last competitive match seemed to sit on its hands during most of the match in stunned silence.

Berdych, never a winner in a Grand Slam will play Andy Murray on Saturday in the semis.

Marino Stops Bartoli in Her Tracks

Montreal, September 16, 2010 – Rebecca Marino (Vancouver, BC) achieved another milestone in her young
career on Wednesday night at the Bell Challenge in Quebec City, a $220,000 WTA Tour event.

Just two weeks removed from the playing the biggest match of her life on Arthur Ashe Stadium against Venus
Williams in the second round of the U.S. Open, Marino is making headlines again after ousting world no. 14
Marion Bartoli of France 6-1, 6-3 to reach her first WTA quarter-final. The win is also her first over a Top 20
player.

“This was one of the best matches of my life,” Marino said. “She’s the highest-ranked player I’ve ever beaten. I want to be playing at this level, competing against – and winning – against these players. I have put a lot of work in and maybe this is a reward for that.”

Marino served 10 aces and lost only 18 points on serve in the 75 minute match. The 19-year-old also broke
Bartoli’s serve four times in six attempts. She will face American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in Friday’s quarterfinals.

With the victory, Marino becomes only the second Canadian to beat a Top 15 player in the last 10 years.
Aleksandra Wozniak has accomplished the feat four times in that span.

“Rebecca gave me absolutely no chance,” Bartoli remarked after the match. “If she plays like that every day she can be Top 20, Top 10 even. I felt she could put the ball wherever she wanted to and I had no chance to win the match with her playing like that. She served well; there was so much pressure for me to hold my serve.”

Marino’s compatriots Stéphanie Dubois (Laval, QC) and Valérie Tétreault (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC) will
attempt to join her in the final eight when they take over Centre Court tonight at PEPS on the campus of Laval University for their second round matches. Tétreault will begin proceedings during Thursday’s evening session against American Christina McHale followed by Dubois who will take on another American in Alexa Glatch. Both Canadians upset seeded players in their opening matches.

For all of the latest news and results from the Bell Challenge, visit the tournament’s official website
www.challengebell.com.

Dubois, Marino and Tétreault will headline an impressive player field at the $50,000 Saguenay National Bank
Challenger which is set to get underway on Saturday in Saguenay with the qualifying rounds.

About Tennis Canada
Founded in 1890, Tennis Canada is a non-profit, national sport association responsible for leading the growth, promotion and showcasing of tennis in Canada. Tennis Canada owns and operates two of the premier events on the ATP and Sony Ericsson WTA Tours; Rogers Cup men’s and women’s events that rotate annually between Rexall Centre in Toronto and Uniprix Stadium in Montreal. In addition, Tennis Canada owns and operates six professional ITF sanctioned events and financially supports six other professional tournaments in Canada.

Tennis Canada operates national training centres at the Centre of Excellence in Toronto and at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal. Tennis Canada is a proud member of the International Tennis Federation, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympics Committee and the International Wheelchair Tennis Association, and serves to administer, sponsor and select the teams for Davis Cup, Fed Cup, the Olympic Games and all wheelchair, junior and senior national teams. Tennis Canada invests its surplus into tennis development. For more information on Tennis Canada please visit our Web site at: www.tenniscanada.com.

Raging Rafa Determined To Get The Career Slam

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Just look in Rafael Nadal’s eyes and you see determination. The top seeded player on the men’s side knows this is his time and the career Grand Slam is there for the taking.

Maybe that’s why the 24 year-old was so serious this year when by taking Barcelona off and concentrating on winning the all elusive US Open title.

“I didn’t change a lot in my schedule,” said Nadal as he reached the Semifinals for the third year in a row by dispelling countryman Fernando Verdasco in straight sets 7-5 6-3 6-4. “My schedule just changed so I don’t play in Barcelona. So I am fresher because I know how important is the US Open and I’m fresher I think because I had to stop three weeks during the summer without tennis because I had to do a treatment on my knees.”

Whatever it is New York is seeing a determined player out there, who is trying to break the barrier and become a one of the few with four majors under his belt.

And so far, so good, but of course, Nadal has the hardest hill to climb with hard conditions on the court and of course the 400 lb gorilla in the room named Roger Federer.

Now, the wind is something every player had to endure and Nadal has come up aces in that area. He said it was difficult to play tennis tonight and even lost his serve during the third, but that didn’t stop a straight set win.

No it’s the matchup with Federer everyone wants to see, even Verdasco, who thinks the title will go back to Switzerland rather than joining the World Cup in his homeland.

“I think if I need to bet here, I will bet for Roger,” Verdasco thought. “I think that he won five times here and he likes these conditions.”

It’s true Federer has been playing as well as Nadal in this tournament. In fact, everyone – and especially CBS – is looking forward to a Federer-Nadal final, something that has happened in the other three Grand Slams, but never in Flushing Meadows.

Yet looking too far ahead is hard for the Spaniard, and for now, he thinks his longtime rival has the edge.

“Well, for sure Roger is the favorite of the tournament, especially because he won five times ‑‑ five times?” he said.  “And six finals in a row.  No one doubt on that.

“And I am in semifinals, so I don’t think about the final.  Everybody free to think, and what Fernando says is completely fair.  I hope keep playing well and have my chance in that match in semifinal.”

Nadal has a date on Saturday with 12th seeded Mikhail Youzhny, whom Nadal has a nice 7-4 record against the Russian, but  took his most recent loss back in 2008 in India.

So sure, the Spaniard has a right to smile these days, after two straight years in the Semifinals, Nadal is looking to take the next step. Back in 2008 he said he didn’t have the energy after playing so much that summer and lost to Andy Roddick and last year he ran into a steamroller Juan Martin Del Potro.

Now things have changed.

“This year,” he said.  “I think ‑‑ I know how important is the US Open for me right now, and I know I have to arrive to this tournament fresh if I want to have any chance to have a very good result.

“That’s what I tried.  I think I did.  I am at the right round without problems, so that’s very positive?  Right now remains the most difficult thing.”

And yes, you can see it in his eyes.

All-Star Matchup In The Semis As Federer Takes On Djokovic

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In a match where timely shotmaking turned the tide time after time, Roger Federer fittingly rocked the court-side clock with one final authoritative ace to cap a 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 sweep of Robin Soderling and fly into the US Open final four for the seventh straight year. Continuing his quest to regain the US Open title he lost to Juan Martin del Potro last September, Federer will square off against Novak Djokovic in Saturday’s semifinals in their fourth consecutive Flushing Meadows clash.

It was a superlative serving performance from Federer, who ripped 18 aces and saved five of six break points in subduing Soderling. The fifth-seeded Swede had four break point chances at the outset of the match but could not convert and Federer picked up his serve considerably from that point forward.

“I think the serve was today the biggest key, because obviously he’s very famous for serving extremely accurate, extremely hard, over a long period of time,” Federer said. “That’s what makes him so hard to beat really. That wasn’t the case today.  He struggled to get the pace, the accuracy going, until midway through the third set when I think he started to hit it a bit better.  Then it was almost too late, really.”

The third-seeded Djokovic came to court with a dragon on his back, fire in his eyes and after an early mis-step found the swagger in his step in scorching a flat and floundering Gael Monfils, 7-6(2), 6-1, 6-2, to storm into the semifinals.

Hard court is Djokovic’s best surface. He can use his expansive reach to rip returns down the lines off both sides, he covers the court quickly and the speed of the Deco Turf adds some sting to his serve. Federer has won eight of his 12 meetings on hard court with Djokovic, but believes Djokovic is at his best on hard court.

“I think this kind of favors his play the most, kind of a faster hard court, because he can pick up some incredible balls, you know, half volley them, redirect them,” Federer said. “It helps maybe serve a bit more, and on the return he can, you know, zone in a bit, and all of a sudden he’s really tough to pass, you know, when he’s returning. That’s what makes him one of the best players in the game right now, and especially on this surface he’s obviously in the top 3 or 4.  That’s why he’s been able to play consistent here at the Open.  He’s obviously waiting for a breakthrough where he can win this title.”

Djokovic fell to Federer in the 2007 final and was victimized by Federer’s stupefying between-the-legs passing shot in last September’s semifinal. Djokovic said stylistically, the rivalry has not changed; he’s just hoping to reverse the result on Saturday.

“We do have more or less same game, you know.  Just maybe experience wise in my case I feel better now,” Djokovic said. “Physically I feel better than I did last year.  I feel stronger, faster on the court.  The conditions are quite different, so let’s see, you know.  Let’s see how this Saturday is gonna come out, you know, if we gonna have normal conditions or not.”

The second-seeded Swiss is 10-5 lifetime vs. Djokovic, including a 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 win in Toronto last month.

“Here we go again,” Federer said in anticipation of the latest installment of his rivalry with Djokovic. “He’s a great player. I got really lucky to get through there in Toronto and he’s obviously looking for the big break through here at the Open, so it’s gonna be a tough one.”

Though Federer has won nine of the 10 sets he’s played vs. Djokovic at the Open, the matches have typically been tightly-contested affairs, including the Swiss stylist’s 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 6-4 triumph in the 2007 final in which Federer fended off five set points in the first set and two set points in the second set, relying on his edge in experience, expertise in playing the the right shots on pivotal points, exceptional anticipation and a first serve that was sharpest in crucial stages to subdue the first Serbian man to contest major final.

Since his five-set win over Serbian Davis Cup teammate Viktor Troicki in the first round, the Djoker has won 12 consecutive sets and will enter the semifinals playing his best tennis of the tournament.

Opening the season by capturing his 16th career major championship in Melbourne in Australia, Federer suffered successive Grand Slam quarterfinal setbacks at Roland Garros and Wimbledon ending his reign in Paris and London and increasing speculation that Federer was more vulnerable in majors than ever.

On a drizzly day in June,  Soderling reigned a series of resounding winners across the red clay in overwhelming Federer, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 in the French Open quarterfinals to snap the World No. 1’s record streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals. It was Federer’s first loss before a Grand Slam semifinal in seven years, ending one of the most hallowed record streaks in tennis history.

Soderling could not reproduced that form tonight, in part because the wind wreaked havoc with his high ball toss and because he has little margin for error on his flat strokes.

“I didn’t put so many first serves in as I needed to because of the wind,” Soderling said. “It was tough for me. So I could have needed some more first serves. Maybe I would have played better then.”

The lanky Swede did not hit an ace until the third set. To his credit, Soderling did not give up the fight as Monfils did in today’s first quarterfinal against Djokovic. He began to center his shots more and when Federer missed the mark on an inside-out forehand, Soderling broke for 5-3 in the third set.

The two-time French Open finalist could not capitalize on the break, putting a forehand into net as Federer broke back for 4-5.

Down 15-30 Federer benefited from a Soderling error to draw even then lured the big man forward with a drop shot followed by a forehand volley that rattled Soderling’s Head racquet. For all his prodigious power from the backcourt, Soderling is almost clueless at times at net and he screamed in frustration at himself as Federer eventually worked out a hold for 5-all.

Summer started with a struggle for Federer, who followed his French Open demise with a Wimbledon quarterfinal loss to Tomas Berdych. But he’s crafted another late-summer resurgence in picking up his play after Labor Day and working toward a potential blockbuster final against World No. 1 Rafael Nadal.

“I think he’s playing great. Because he lost in the quarters of the French and in Wimbledon, some people think he’s more vulnerable than ever.  But I think he’s actually playing really well,” Djokovic said of Federer. “He played great in Toronto and Cincinnati, and he’s just loves this surface.  He loves this tournament.  He has won so many times. Obviously he’s a favorite.  But, you know, we played so many times, and mostly we played on this surface.  It’s no secret in each other’s game.  Just I will try to hold on, you know.  He always tries to put pressure on his opponent.  He’s very aggressive.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

No Joke, Blake Exits Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – A streaking James Blake caught up to the ball before it expired, pushed a precise pass up the line and danced across the court with a fist-pump during the second-set tie breaker against Novak Djokovic tonight. Blake still has a burst, but Djokovic put an end to his US Open run.

Playing pivotal points with precision, Djokovic won five consecutive games to open the match and quell the crowd then put down a second-set uprising in registering a 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory on a windy night to advance to the US Open fourth round.

Because he plays with more variety and can put more air under his shots, Djokovic can dial down his play when the elements require more safety and net clearance, whereas Blake basically hits the same hard flat shots time after time that gave him little margin for error.

“It’s a big mental struggle when you have such a strong wind to find a way how to try to play good tennis, especially if you have somebody across the net who is so aggressive, taking everything early and playing a risky game,” Djokovic said. “I think I was serving very well. It was a high percentage of first serves in. It was important in these conditions.”

Blake earned break points in the first game of the match only to see Djokovic, whose serve has been shaky at times this season, drill successive aces to erase both break points and ignite his first-set run. Djokovic plays with more spin than Blake, he takes the shorter preparation steps to set up for his shots and controls his game amid the bluster better than Blake.

“It was tough, tough conditions. He did a great job of handling them,” Blake said. “He’s one of the best defenders in the game, which makes it tough on a night like that where I need to rely on my power and speed to sort of dictate and move forward. It’s tough when you need to get into position and the ball can move one way or the other. You are not going to hit it cleanly. If I don’t hit it perfect, he’s too good of a counter-puncher. He hurt me too many times when I was in position and in my head to win the point. He did a great job of turning it around.”

Since Djokovic’s draining five-set win over Serbian Davis Cup teammate Viktor Troicki in the first round in which he found back from a two set to one deficit to earn a 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory, he’s run through six straight sets. And tonight’s match was ideal preparation for his fourth-round clash with Blake’s former Florida neighbor and long-time golfing buddy Mardy Fish.

“We had a tough one here a couple of years back at the US Open,” Djokovic said. “I think he’s playing his best tennis at this moment. He’s moving really well. He’s serving good as he served always. He has a lot of talent. He’s recognizing the moment, coming to net. He has a lot of variety in the game. I guess I have to be on top of the game to be able to win.”

Though Djokovic is unbeaten in four matches with Fish, the Vero Beach, Florida native has taken a set in three of those four meetings. Djokovic beat Fish, 7-6(5), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(3) in the 2006 US Open before Fish transformed himself with a fitness and nutrition regimen. They faced off most recently in Indian Wells in March with Djokovic prevailing 6-1, 0-6, 6-2.

Five-time US Open champion Roger Federer said Fish earned his respect before his 30-pound weight loss.

“I always thought he was an incredibly good player, regardless of his weight, to be honest.  I think it’s great to show maybe other players, too, to see what’s possible at a later stage in your career, if you come up with some new ideas,” Federer said. “It’s great to see him playing well, doing well.  He’s a nice guy.  He’s always been talented, so we knew that.”

Fish is playing for his second trip to the US Open quarterfinals.

New York fans showed two-time quarterfinalist Blake their appreciation when he was honored on opening night of the US Open. Djokovic showed Blake the door tonight.

The inevitable “is Blake done?” speculation began before Blake was even done walking out the door of his post-match press conference. Blake insists he’s intent on playing next season.

“I really hope that wasn’t my last match on Arthur Ashe Stadium,” Blake said. “I definitely want to be back next year. If it was (my last match), you know, I competed my heart out. I did everything I could. But I think I got more in me and I think I’m going to be back there. Maybe more night matches, some more excitement for the crowds, some good times. I definitely believe that. I hope it comes true next year.”

Clearly, it’s unlikely Blake will ever return to the heights he ascended when he reached No. 4 in the world, but to suggest Blake is done because he was swept by the No. 3 in the world after an injury-plagued season in which he never really found his form is foolish.

This is a man who came back from a broken bone in his neck after his horrific collision with a net post and a bout with Zoster that left one side of his face frozen to play the best tennis of his life. If Blake has shown you anything aside from a ferocious forehand and lighting speed around the court, it’s his willingness to work his way back and not back down from a challenge.

“Once I got hurt in ’04 and got sick, I never planned on this career as a marathon,” Blake said. “I tried to treat it as a sprint, every match being its own sort of entity, working hard to win that. If it’s my last, it’s my last. If that came at 25 when I blew out my knee, if that came at 30 when I do something to my back so be it. I’m going to treat every match as a sprint and just do my best every time. When it ends, it ends. I don’t feel like right now I’m out there looking for charity. I think I can play with just about anyone still and I don’t think I’m at my best physically right now.”

If Blake can regain his health, is he willing to make the adjustments to his game to make the best use of his ability. Contrast the court sense and dynamic all-court game Ryan Harrison showed in his five-set loss to Sergiy Stakhovsky with the tennis Blake played tonight. Harrison, who is not nearly as quick around the court as Blake, understands that tennis is a sport that requires the ability to play offense and defense and the knowledge of when to transition.

The former Harvard all American doesn’t need tennis and tennis doesn’t need him, but Blake still brings the buzz and class to court and still believes he’s got something left in the tank.

“Even if I’m not 100 percent right now I don’t feel like I’m hurting the game by being out here,” Blake said. “I’m not on a pity tour just getting beat up first round every week by kind of nobodies. I lost to a pretty darn good player. I’m playing okay and I know I can play better because the preparation can be better.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Elena and Stasur To Meet In the Fourth Round

Elena Dementieva has been to the US Open final before. Samantha Stosur is striving to get there. They will square off for a spot in the US Open quarterfinals in a clash of one of the best hard-court returners in the women’s game, Dementieva, against one of the most reliable servers in Stosur.

The 12th-seeded Dementieva deconstructed Daniela Hantuchova, 7-5, 6-2, to advance to the fourth round for the eighth time in 12 career Flushing Meadows appearances. Dementieva lost to Caroline Wozniacki in the New Haven semifinals and has continued her solid form in Flushing Meadows this week in winning all six sets she’s played.

French Open finalist Stosur smacked seven aces in sweeping Sara Errani, 6-3, 6-2. Since surrendering the first set of her opening-round 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-1 win over Elena Vesnina, Stosur has not dropped a set.

Dementieva has beaten Stosur four times in five meetings, including a 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-3 victory in their last meeting in Toronto last summer. Three of those five matches have spanned the three-set distance.

“We’ve had some good matches in the past.  I’ve beaten her once or twice, and then she’s obviously beaten me, as well,” Stosur said.  “So I think it’s gonna be whoever can, you know, execute the game plan better on the given day. But I know what I’m gonna want to do against her.  If I can do that, I think I have a chance.”

Dementieva has worked diligently to transform her serve from the side-arm, slingshot slice it was when she reached the 2004 US Open final, falling to Svetlana Kuznetsova, and though her serve is not a weapon it has become a much more stable shot.

Stosur is at her best hitting the kick serve to set up her favored forehand and in past matches Dementieva has tried to prevent the muscular Aussie from creating one-two combinations off her serve and forehand by directing her inside-out forehand to Stosur’s weaker backhand wing.

The fact that Stosur will hit the kick on both first and second serves can pose problems for some women, who are unaccustomed to returning off shoulder high balls.

“Samantha, Serena, they both have a very powerful serve, and especially second serve,” Dementieva said. “They have such a good kick.  The women don’t usually have this. It’s always very difficult to play against her.  She puts a lot of pressure on you when she’s serving.  But also, I think she’s very solid on the baseline, and, you know, very experienced player, singles and doubles. She covers the court very well and, you know, can finish the point at the net.  She has a great variety to her game.  It’s never easy to play against her.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Tennis King Meets British Prince

With Prince William on hand to watch Roger Federer cruise into the third round, you have to wonder, who was more excited to see whom?

Although, not every day a member of the Royal Family comes around, the World’s No. 1 has met his share of stars and celebs over the years. And frankly, earlier in his career he said he was more nervous when his family came around.

“[It] used to be my friends and parents early on,” Federer said after his straight sets Second Round win over Victor Hanescu, 6-2 6-3 6-2. “Then it goes other athletes, actors and musicians, Royal Highness. Just moves on. So I’ve had plenty. Obviously depends on the situation. Obviously having legends of the game watching, for me, is very nice always.

“But then, of course, where he comes from, you know, he knows tennis, and Wimbledon’s big, you know. So for me it was very ‑‑ I mean, a big honor that he came to watch me.”

Federer was able to chat with the Prince for a few minutes although he didn’t divulge everything, the Swiss Master did say, “he looked really happy coming to a sports venue. I think he’s had a very busy schedule the last few days. He shook a lot of hands, and I knew mine was one more. From what I’ve heard, I think he met Serena and myself, and came to watch my match.”

Even if Prince William was happy, for Federer this was just another day at the office. After getting a scare and not playing sharp in his first round match against Igor Andreev, he looked in control against Hansecu, pretty much cruising though out the hour and 39 minute match. With a first serve percentage of 82% (40 of 49), eight aces to just one double fault, the best player in the world looked pretty sharp.

“Against, let’s say lower‑ranked players outside of top 10, you do sometimes in the rally get a second chance; whereas against top players it’s pretty obvious how you going to play,” Federer said.

“That’s how my two opponents played. They know they have to step it up and not give me a chance in the rally. That’s why it’s dangerous for me to play against all these guys. They take huge cuts at the ball and nothing to lose. And if they win they are heroes, and if they lose, it’s an incredible experience.”

“From my standpoint, it obviously depends also on how the opponent plays. Today I was willing to go for more points and rallies where I decided I not to miss and only go for it if I’m perfectly set up. I think the tactic worked tonight.

“For the next round opponent, I definitely have to adjust my tactics again.”

And for the third round, Federer will be playing 31st seed Albert Montanes of Spain, who beat France’s Stephane Robert in five sets, 4-6 6-7 2-6 3-6 2-6.

Stepanek Wins Despite 78 Aces Against Him

Somehow, Radek Stepanek won. Despite a record 78 aces coming off the big racket of Ivo Karlovic, the 30 year-old Stepanek prevailed in five extraordinary sets 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (2), 16-14, giving the Czech Republic a 1-0 series lead over Croatia in the Davis Cup semifinal in Porec earlier today.

The match took five hours and 59 minutes to complete. Just a minute shy of reaching the six hour mark. Only three Davis Cup matches have ever gone that far. While Stepanek and Karlovic didn’t quite get there, they did match a record for most total games (82) since the tiebreak was introduced in 1989 to Davis Cup.

Ironically, it was earlier this year in a first round defeat to Lleyton Hewitt at Roland Garros that Karlovic shattered his own record with 55 aces. Apparently, the big Croat would be better off with less considering the heartbreaking end results which again held true with Stepanek saving five match points with three coming in the 10th game and another in the 24th game of the climatic final set.

“I am very happy that I was able to pull it through,” an ecstatic Stepanek expressed afterwards. “The match was going crazy; we were not able to break each other. I was the one who was using more fitness. He had four match points in the fifth set but I stayed mentally strong and it paid off at the end. You can’t live through bigger emotions than Davis Cup and this match just proved it.”

Amazingly, there were no breaks of serve until the 81st game (29th of 5th set) following a brief exhange in the first set which Stepanek dropped in one of four breakers.

“I have no words right now, it was like a lottery and I managed to seize my chances,” the winner added.

“It was a long and exhausting match but when you play for your country it’s worth it. It wouldn’t matter if it lasted for another few hours.”

“It was really close match, it was long and I had match points,” said a drained Karlovic who blew leads of 3-0 and 4-1 in the fourth set tiebreak before Stepanek stormed back to take it 8-6, forcing a deciding set. “I could also have won … I don’t know, that’s it.”

In the second match, Tomas Berdych held off U.S. Open quarterfinalist Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3 to put the Czech Republic a win away from the Davis Cup final. Spain leads the other semifinal 2-0 over Israel thanks to straight set wins from Juan Carlos Ferrero and David Ferrer.

“It was like was going to put you in front of a wall and shoot at you, it was feeling like that,” summed up Stepanek. “I knew he was going to serve incredibly well and I was expecting it but I said to be patient and wait for my chances.”

Petrova To Quarters In Quebec

QUEBEC, CITY, Quebec – Nadia Petrova may be thankful Melanie Oudin dropped out of the Bell Challenge. After losing in the fourth round to the 17 year-old, Petrova rebounded to make the quarterfinals of the Quebec City Tournament.

Petrova, the top seed and defending champion in the 220,000-dollar tournament, beat Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-2 in 69 minutes, belting 10 aces past the 19-year-old American in their second-round clash.

This comes a day after the Russian knocked out Open mixed doubles winner Carly Gullickson in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0.

Petrova will face fifth-seeded Hungarian Melinda Czink, a 6-4, 6-3 winner over France’s Severine Bremond Beltrame in the quarterfinals.

Cilic stuns Murray

There won’t be a repeat of last year’s men’s final. That’s because Marin Cilic took out Andy Murray in grand style stunning the No.2 seed in straights, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 at Ashe Stadium.

While it’s a surprising result, the 20 year-old Cilic was expected to have a breakout year. On one of the biggest stages, the 16th seeded Croat waited before making his arrival with a sound thrashing of last year’s runner-up.

Early on, Murray had his chances blowing a couple of early break points. After saving one on his own serve for 5-4, a shaky Cilic handed him two set points but dug out of it to hold. Then, the crowd favorite played a sluggish 11th game making uncharacteristic misses handing his opponent the first break. Cilic took the kind donation serving out the set to surge ahead.

“You know, he hit the spots on the serve, especially quite a few 30 All points or 15 30 points, and he served well,” lamented Murray after being sent packing without a first major.

That was, for me, the difference. A lot of the times I played him before was he served well and I returned poorly and, you know, I didn’t give myself enough chances.

“It was a relief for me to start getting more into the game,” Cilic said. “I didn’t have to think too much. I played good, played tactically well, and he was missing.”

The same two players met in this round earlier this year at Roland Garros with Murray prevailing in straight sets. But on this occasion, it was the lanky Croat who continued to play more consistently quickly breaking in the opening game of the second set.

Suddenly with confidence, he began serving better mixing in a few of his match best 10 aces. In Murray’s third round win the other night over Taylor Dent, he only missed six returns. But it was a far different story today with Cilic saving all seven break points while winning 79 percent of his first serve (38 of 48) and a respectable 58 percent on seconds (26 of 45).

In the middle set, he never was pressured. One of the reasons was that he was much more aggressive going for his shots forcing bad misses from Murray who committed more than twice the unforced errors to winners (29 to 13). Meanwhile, Cilic was much more consistent using his big forehand to pin the struggling No.2 player behind the baseline. In fact, he finished with 35 winners and 41 errors. A much better ratio.

As the match wore on, the more confident he seemed winning baseline exchanges while also using the net to his advantage where he did well finishing 19 of 30 (63 percent). Conversely, Murray went to the net only eight times converting five speaking to the difference.

Up 3-0, Cilic earned a second break thanks to more Murray miscues with a large forehand drawing a short reply into the net to which the Croat let out an enthusiastic scream. What was so stunning was how little emotion the Scot showed. Usually, he plays with such intensity admitting how much he enjoys playing in front of the big New York crowd. However, for some reason, Great Britain’s only hope to erase Fred Perry’s name from the record book was lifeless.

You know, today I mean, I could have been better in pretty much every part of the game, whether it was mental or serve, forehand, backhand returns. I don’t know,” added Murray.

Whether it had something to do with his left wrist which British TV made reference to didn’t matter. He just didn’t compete disappointing many who came to see a much better match than they got.

“I had a problem with it for a week or so. But regardless, I mean, you know, I just struggled today. I played poorly. You know, I’m obviously very disappointed. I mean, after, you know, the way that the last three Slams went I felt like I had actually played well and lost,” Murray accurately pointed out.

“And today, you know, it didn’t feel like    didn’t feel like I played well. I had my chance in the first set, and then, you know, struggled after that.”

After Cilic made quick work to go up a commanding two sets, he again stunned Murray with an early break in the first game of set three. By now, the Ashe crowd grew concerned trying to urge on the 22 year-old who tried to hang in there holding serve twice to stay close. In the fifth game, he finally got his first break point since the first set but couldn’t cash in with Cilic proving too tough.

Following the missed opportunity, it was Cilic who sensed the moment breaking a struggling Murray for a double break 5-2 lead. With a chance to close it out, he had little trouble converting his second match point when a Murray forehand sailed long allowing a victorious Cilic to pump his fists in celebration.

Cilic will meet No.6 Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro for a spot in the semis after Del Potro used 22 aces and 44 winners to dismiss former 2003 finalist Juan Carlos Ferrero (24) 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 over on Louis Armstrong. Last year, Del Potro lost to Murray in the quarters but there won’t be a rematch with instead a battle between 20 year-olds.

Later tonight, Rafael Nadal will try to avoid a similar upset when he takes on another dangerous player in No.13 Frenchman Gael Monfils. No.7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga faces No.11 Fernando Gonzalez this afternoon.