Thailand Open (Bangkok, Thailand) – Gasquets Wins Seventh Title; Lu/Udomchoke Clinch Doubles Crown

Singles – Final
[2] R Gasquet (FRA) d [4] G Simon (FRA) 62 61

Doubles – Final
[WC] Y Lu (TPE) / D Udomchoke (THA) d [4] E Butorac (USA) / P Hanley (AUS) 63 64

TV and streaming schedules on ATPWorldTour.com
How impressed were you by Gasquet’s performance? Discuss on Facebook.
Gasquet steps up his bid to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Tweet about it. Use #ATP

WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID

Gasquet: “I played against a French player, who is also my friend, so of course it a little bit strange, but for me it’s a title and I’ve had some tough matches this week so I’m very happy to win. The people here are very nice, the crowd was very nice. The night I played against [Grigor] Dimitrov it was late, but the people stayed and cheered for me so it’s more reason for me to come back next year and defend my title.”

Simon: “I was playing some of the best tennis I ever played yesterday [against Janko Tipsarevic] and today I just couldn’t play at all. Thierry [Tulasne] was here to watch, but it was our last week together so I really wanted to win.”

Lu: “I feel very happy, there’s no reason to be upset at all. I’m very happy for Danai [Udomchoke] to win on his home ground. I don’t know how I can explain how I feel, I’m just very happy and I appreciate playing with my friend. This is another experience we go through as friends and I’m happy.”
Udomchoke: “I was at my happiest moment during match point because I’ve always dreamed of holding a Thailand Open trophy in the 10 years I’ve played the tournament. I feel very proud of having done it today.”

Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – Monaco Wins Fourth Title Of Year; Peya/Soares Win Doubles

Singles – Final
[2] J Monaco (ARG) d [7] J Benneteau (FRA) 75 46 63

Doubles – Final
[3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d C Fleming (GBR) / R Hutchins (GBR) 57 75 10-7

WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID

Monaco: “I think we played a great match, with a lot of ups and downs. I got a little nervous when I had chances, but I never gave up, particularly in the 12th game of the first set. He surprised me a little bit with his comeback in the second set. In the final set, I knew I had to be more aggressive and I am happy the way I finished the match.
“I’d like to relax now and enjoy the victory. It isn’t easy to win tournaments, but I will focus on the next challenge and go to Tokyo tomorrow. It has been nice to be in this city and win the trophy. It feels very good. When I win a title, I think of my family and my team, as they believe in me, they have supported me and we have worked hard to win tournaments.”

Benneteau: “I was very focused on this game, because I wanted to win this final. The fans were great; there was a lot of French in the crowd. It was a nice atmosphere and the game was a good level.”

Soares: “It feels very nice. Every title is very good, really special; a different story and different atmosphere. It is only our fourth tournament, so it feels really good. This week was special, because we felt we were playing better with each match.”

Peya: “We are starting to click more as a team, also on our off days as we work on our games. It paid off this week. We enjoyed the tournament a lot, it was a lot of fun.”

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.

Roddick Still Goes Out On Top

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – After his loss to Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Roddick was asked to say a few words.

For the first time in a long time, his mouth was at a loss.

“I mean, I don’t know that I had a plan,” Roddick said.  “You know, I was just going to try to win.  It was perfect.  This whole week has been perfect, you know.

“Rain‑delayed match, come back the next day.  It’s like typical US Open.  Played with me in the end, so I guess it was right.”

It wasn’t the storybook ending for Roddick, but it was his ending, as the No. 7 seed took him out of the Open with a 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 win today in a match that was restarted after postponed last night.

But it didn’t matter for Roddick. He didn’t think he would have lasted to the final with some younger and better players in front of him. Rather, he wanted to go out on his terms. And today, he did.

Even in his final press conference.

“I was walking out of the locker room, and I said, Man, I think I have more expectation of this press conference than I did the match today,” he said.

“So, you know, like you said, I think it’s at the point now where I look back on rough moments fondly, you know, in these rooms.  I hope you all do, too.  There has certainly been some good ones; there have been some fun I ones.

“There has been some horrible ones both ways, but it wasn’t boring.”

Maybe that’s Roddick’s legacy. He wasn’t boring. Much like John McEnroe and Andre Agassi before him, he knows tennis is entertainment and besides being an athlete, he is there to entertain the crowd. He is always witty and funny and of course never a snoozer.

His matches with Federer were epic at times, even though he could never break through, and he played to the crowd in exhibitions, such as last March when he imitated Rafa Nadal on his serve much to the laughter of those in attendance.

He was no clown prince, though. Tennis was a serious business to him and he never gave up, which is why the Arthur Ashe crowd was chanting, “Let’s Go Andy!” throughout the match.

“I know the thing that is certain is I didn’t take any of it for granted,” he said.  “ I think I went about things the right way.  The umpires might disagree with me.  (Laughter.)

“I was consistent, and I don’t feel like I left a lot on the table on a daily basis.  When I look back, that’s probably what I’m proud of.”

What’s next for him, well that’s anyone’s guess, but Roddick will be humbled when the accolades come down, especially if he gets the call from Newport.

“That’s not for me to say,” he said.  “That’s not my choice.  Obviously it’s the ultimate honor of any tennis player, and that’s something I’d be extremely humbled by. But I’m certainly not going to be presumptuous about anything.  If it happens, I’ll be thrilled and amazed.  If it doesn’t, I’ll probably still be thrilled and amazed with what I was able to see.”

Because deep down inside, Roddick is still that 12 year-old kid who dreamed about playing Ivan Lendl or Stefan Edberg and now that they are his contemporaries, he is definitely satisfied.

“Yeah, it’s funny, because if you tell a 12‑ or 13‑year‑old kid that he’s going to win 30‑some odd titles and become one of 20 for this and 20 for that and be No. 1 and have a slam, you’d take that in a heartbeat,” he said.  “Going back, I would have taken that in a heartbeat.

“There were a lot of tough moments but unbelievable moments.  I mean, who gets to play in Wimbledon finals and who gets to play in an Open and who gets to be part of a winning team?  Most people don’t get to experience that.”

Roddick did and today he closed that chapter in his life on his terms.

 

 

 

 

Hold The Retirement For Another Day

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – And he lives on. Andy Roddick delayed his retirement by at least another two days by beating Fabio Fognini of Italy in a hard fought 7-5, 7-6, 4-6 and 6-4 match before a very highly partisan Roddick crowd.

The match featured many entertaining rallies and a between the legs shot by Fognini which almost passed Roddick at net.

There is no doubt that Roddick is suffering from a hurt right shoulder, but he is deriving energy from the crowd. He noted that, “it was loud out there, about as loud as I remember.”

Roddick will have a much harder time Tuesday night as a decided underdog against Juan Martin Del Potro, like Roddick also a US Open winner and the only player besides Federer, Djokovic and Nadal to win a major in the last 30.

Roddick is 1-3 all-time against Del Potro, winning their last contest in Memphis in 2011. All of Roddick’s losses have been close.

Fognini called Del Potro a slight favorite but would not be surprised with a win by Roddick.

Roddick feels that he has an edge in serve but that Del Potro has an edge in his return game.

The Dark Knight Returns

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – With his one handed backhand and quick ability to attack the net, Roger Federer looked superior, almost like a super hero fighting a henchman early in the story.

And his dismantling of Santiago Giraldo, 6-4 6-3 6-2, may look like an easy win on paper, but it really added something to the Federer lore. He’s not just a super hero, he’s the Dark Knight of the Open.

Much like Christian Bale’s title character from the movies, Federer does his best work at night, under the lights when the pressure is on.

“[The crowd] can’t wander around to different courts and say, Okay, on Court 2 we have this going on; Louis Armstrong we have that happening,” said Federer, who with tonight’s win has tied Andre Aggasi tonight for most wins in majors at 224. “No avoiding that limelight.  You do feel that pressure as well.  When you miss a stupid volley, you go like, Yeah, everybody saw it.  I’m a bit of an idiot here right now.  Better don’t miss that next time because on TV everybody’s watching, in the stadium everybody saw it.

“So you do feel that pressure.  Yes, you do.  That’s why I think Giraldo did well tonight.  Also you’re thinking about me, but think of the other guy who is playing a top guy in that stadium.  It’s also not that easy.  Surely he can swing freely, there’s nothing to lose, but also he does feel that big stage.”

Being Federer, who has seen it all, craves the excitement of the night in Queens. The Maestro said he likes the rock and roll atmosphere of the Open as much as tones of other tournaments.

“When you have some success, you actually start enjoying different types of atmospheres:  loud, you know, crazy, to very proper and never applauding on a mistake like you have in Japan,” Federer said.  “Then you go to England where they know exactly what is a good shot and what is a bad shot.  Then you go to Switzerland where it’s also very proper again.

“So I like that, you know, difference we have.  Music played on the change of ends.  They’re showing all sorts of stuff on the big screens; whereas in other places it’s just complete silence.  So I like that change.

“Here, this is a huge tournament which I like a lot and have had such amazing success that obviously every year I will come back here to New York I’ll feel that it’s a place that’s very special to me and where I usually do actually play my very best tennis.”

Federer feels this year’s Open may be a little different. The court speed in Flushing has always been known as notorious fast surface, but he sees it as a little slower this year.

“It’s definitely slower,” he said.  “Obviously, night sessions always maybe play a touch slower than the day clearly.  I really have the feeling conditions are slower this year than last year here at the Open.

“So it takes I think some getting used to.  You’re not getting as many free points maybe with your serve.  Maybe that was part of the inconsistent play I had early on in the first couple of sets.

“As the match went on, I think I started to get more solid and better, and that’s a good feeling to have.  But the ball really gets used after a while, I have to say.  I was quite surprised.”

Yet, this is Roger Federer and the Dark Knight of tennis is used to all surfaces no matter what the changes are. He attacked the net more in his match tonight, especially against Giraldo, whose best surface is clay, while also taking changes, simply because, well he’s better.

And isn’t that why the super hero always wins?

“Why am I successful?,” he pondered.  “I guess because I’m a pretty good player and I’m usually the favorite when I go into these matches, so I expect myself to win.  I should win these matches, thank God, and I more often do than don’t.”

The Dark Knight rises in the second round against Israeli Dudi Sela.

Fourth Round Brings A Very Interesting Matchup

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Ana Ivanovic spent some of her US Open Series summer between the covers. An avid reader, Ivanovic was absorbed by Stieg Larsson’s  “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and today a fist-pumping Ivanovic looked liked the woman empowered by an inferno of intensity in a 7-5, 6-0 thrashing of 157th-ranked French wild card Virginie Razzano.

The victory vaults Ivanovic into a fourth-round showdown with reigning  champion Kim Clijsters in a match of former World No. 1 players.

Down a double break at 0-3 minutes into the match, Clijsters found her range and reeled off 12 consecutive games in pounding Petra Kvitova, 6-3, 6-0. It was Clijsters’17th consecutive US Open victory. She raied her record to 23-1 in her last four visits to Flushing Meadows.

“A match like this today probably gives me more satisfaction, because, you know, I beat a good player without even playing my best tennis,” Clijsters said. “There were moments in there that I was very satisfied with the way I was playing, and just overall the way I was moving, the way that I was serving. But then, yeah, it becomes kind of you become greedy in a way because you want it there, you want that to happen in every rally that you play in.”

The fourth round match is a rematch of the Cincinnati semifinals where Clijsters held a 2-1 lead when Ivanovic retired with a foot injury.

“Kim is a great player.  She hasn’t lost a match here in a long time.  So I can go out there and try to do my best,” Ivanovic said. “I’ve been playing really well.  It’s gonna be exciting no matter what. I think, you know, in some ways we have similar games.  It’s going to be a fun match, I think.”

On serve in the opening set, Ivanovic cracked a winner and then celebrated by unleashing a furious double fist pump that elicited an approving roar from the crowd. That explosion of positive emotion energized both Ivanovic and the crowd and was a physical sign of how far she’s come this season. During her long slump when she dropped out of the top 50, Ivanovic would often pull her adidas visor down over her face as if repulsed by her poor play.

Now, she’s playing with a positive posture, showing more conviction in both her shots and celebrations.

“It’s very important.  That’s something that I felt change over last few months,” Ivanovic said. “I became a lot more positive on the court.  Even if the things were not going my way, I still, you know, had a fist pump.  I still tried to bring a lot of energy on the court. That kind of, you know, helps also supporters get into the match more.  I felt that.  I’m, you know, sticking with it.”

Richard Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

In The Twilight Of His Career Blake’s Still Looking Forward

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – As James Blake stood on the court of Arthur Ashe last night, you had to wonder if this was going to be his swan song. After all, the 29 year-old has struggled with injuries the last few years and he’s not getting any younger.

“A couple people mentioned something like that to me,” he said after downing Kristof Vliegen in straight sets, 6-3 6-2 6-4. “They’re trying to get rid of me already.  I hope that’s not the case.

“But, you know, I was just really honored to be there.  I didn’t think of that until it came up yesterday when someone sort of mentioned that to me, ’cause I really, when I got the call first or email first actually about being a part of it, I didn’t tell any of my friends or even my coach or anyone, because I thought in a couple weeks they were going to call and tell me, We found someone better, forget it, you don’t need to be here for it.”

Blake, though, is not ready to hang it up. He is planning of playing as long as possible and just looks at his friend and confident Andre Agassi, with whom he had that classic encounter, back in 2005, where the future Hall of Fame legend came back from two sets down to win quarterfinals.

“I think we all remember his speech here in his last match,” he said.  “He’s someone that also played with a little bit of emotion and fed off the crowd and enjoyed tennis and appreciated as much, had a second career as well when he dropped all the way down to 141 and came back to No. 1.

“What he did, he belonged there last night as well as someone that’s inspired so many others, including myself.  He finished here, he beat me when he was 35, I think, 34, 35.  You know, there’s a chance I still could be playing in four or five more years.

“His brand of tennis maybe took a little less punishment on his body because he was the one doling out all the punishment.  I’m proud to say I’m a friend of his.  He’s someone that helped me.  You wouldn’t think of a superstar like that calling a young kid to give him a scouting report, helping him out when he really didn’t need to, treating him at his nightclub in Las Vegas.  Everything you could think of for a superstar they normally wouldn’t do, he was there to do.  To be a normal guy, to be one of the guys in the locker room, I respected him so much for that.

Also Blake can look at Mardy Fish, whom many have picked to be a dark horse choice at this Open. Fish lost 30 pounds and is in the best shape of his life. Yet Blake feels it’s different with him as he tends to need to put on weight, rather than lose it.

So there may still be a chance for Blake, but he is clearly on the downside of his career and may pack it in, even as early as this year and if he does he will be able to look back at all the great matches the Yonkers native played.

His best though: At the Davis Cup in 2007 when he beat Mikhail Youzhny, 6–3, 7–6, 6–7, 7–6 in the finals over Poland.

“It’s the most memorable, yeah,” he recalled.  “That’s the one that I think I’ll remember forever ’cause that Davis Cup team was one that had been through a lot together.  We played so many matches together, I think the most of any group, specific group, in U.S. history.

“We just had so much fun together.  We had won a lot, we had lost a lot.  We made it through that whole journey, got to the finals, and we all contributed.  Andy won.  I won a close one.  The Bryans closed it out.  We were all part of that year, part of that victory, shared holding that victory, being part of something special.

“For me, that was pretty darn exciting, especially since I lost to him the year before on the clay in Russia.  To get a win over him, three tiebreaks, it wasn’t on cruise control by any stretch.  Came through in a lot of big points, had a lot of confidence at that time.  Had the fans and the team right behind me.

“That’s always going to be a pretty good memory.  When you have the Bryan twins playing doubles for you, you feel pretty confident going into Saturday up 2‑0.”

Maybe, though he will have one more memorable match in his at the 2010 US Open.

Djokovic Wins The Battle of Belgrade

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY –  Searing sun has burned Novak Djokovic in the past. So when Djokovic found himself battling scalding temperatures that soared above 100 degrees on court against his childhood friend Viktor Troicki in the US Open first round, he welcomed the inviting cool shade as if it were a welcoming warm embrace of his girlfriend.

In a match of Serbian Davis Cup teammates, Djokovic did not exactly play with the conviction of a Grand Slam champion but showed some stubborn resilience to rally for a 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory over the 47th-ranked Troicki.

Djokovic kept his competitive composure in the latter stages of the three hour, 40-minute win then broke up the crowd when he compared the feeling of the shelter of the shade to sharing a loving embrace with his girlfriend.

“The sun came down and I didn’t have any more heat, (I was asked) what kind of feeling was it,” Djokovic said. “It just came up to me.  It’s one of the best feelings, I guess, when you’re sleeping with your close one.  So I compare it to that.”

“It felt unbelievable. Let’s get back to tennis now,” Djokovic said with a sly smile in the post-match press conference.

Leave it to Djokovic to share the love after enduring an experience that has proved to be painful in the past. He has retired from matches in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments in the past due to heat or breathing issues and anytime the heat and humidity collide on court Djokovic can begin to wear that haunted look of a man who just completed a marathon only to be informed there’s another 10 miles to run.

Today, Djokovic had a measured response to the heat: he waited it out.

“Look, you know, it was very hot.  It was just very hot,” Djokovic said. “It’s same for everybody. That’s all basically I can say. You know, heat issue is something that, you know, it’s just there.  You cannot affect it.  The weather is weather.  You just have to try to be patient and wait for the shadows, like I did.”

Contesting his 24th consecutive Grand slam event Djokovic stared down a familiar face in Troicki. This was their sixth professional meeting — Djokovic holds a 5-1 edge — but their first meeting came when Djokovic was 9-years-old and Troicki was 10 in Djokovic’s first tournament.

Needless to say, things did not go Djokovic’s way that day.

“My first tournament in my life that I’ve played, first match officially, it was under 10,” Djokovic said. “I won my first round and then I played him second round. He destroyed me. We keep on talking about that. But we are very good friends for a long time already.”

Since that match, the pair have joined forces on Serbian Davis Cup squad and have a shot to lead the nation to its first Davis Cup final when Serbia hosts the Czech Republic in the September 17-19th Davis Cup semifinals in Belgrade.

“We won many things together with Davis Cup, a lot of matches. We won European team championship under 18 together,” Djokovic said. “So we share a lot of nice moments.  It’s never easy to play a good friend on the court.  Just bad luck for him today because he’s been playing really well, you know, lately.  Today he was the better player on the court for a while.  Just too bad.”

Djokovic survived today, but the reality is, like compatriot and fellow former US Open finalist Jelena Jankovic, who also escaped with an opening-round match that went the distance, he must pick up his play if he is to go deep into the second week. Like Jankovic, Djokovic is an exceptional athlete who covers the court comprehensively, moves quickly and returns well, but is prone to periods of retrieving tennis.

The 2007 US Open runner-up is in the same quarter as Americans Andy Roddick, who beat Djokovic in Cincinnati, and Mardy Fish, the Cincinnati runner-up to Federer.

Djokovic didn’t need to watch replays of Roger Federer’s between-the-legs highlight reel winner that electrified the fans on Monday night — he experienced a similar shot in real life in the 2009 semifinals.

“No.  I’ve seen it live last year passing next to me,” Djokovic said with a smile. “That’s enough traumatic experiences for me. Today when Viktor tried to do the same thing, I said, No, no, please.  He was running for the ball between the legs.  Please miss it.  Please don’t embarrass me again.”

The master mimic who entertained the crowd with his impressions of Nadal, Roddick and Maria Sharapova during his run to the ’07 final was asked if he would consider trying to emulate Federer’s tweener himself.

“No, definitely not.  I am not as good as he is in that.  I’d like to be very careful with my racquet,” Djokovic said glancing down below his waist. “You know what I mean.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

The Soft Spoken Giant Comes Through

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – His size would make you think he’s older than his just 20 years on this Earth. And even at 6’6”, this giant is as gentle as it comes. So much so that Juan Martin Del Potro was almost in tears as he gave his post-championship press conference.

“Well, when I lay down to the floor, many things come to my mind,” Del Porto said. “First my family and my friends and everything. I don’t know how I can explain, because it’s my dream. My dream done. It’s over. I will go home with a trophy, and it’s my best sensation ever in my life.

“It’s too early to explain. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week I will be believing in this. But now, I don’t know. I don’t understand nothing.”

The Argentina native did it the hard way, pretty much giving away the first set to the almost impossible to beat Roger Federer. Yet he was able to compose himself in the second set to win 7-6 in a tie breaker and did the same feat in the fourth.

That forced a decisive fifth set and right before our eyes, this 20 year-old grew into a man making Federer look like the inexperienced player.

“Well, when I won the second set, I think if I continuing playing same way, maybe I have chance to win,” he said. “But after, when I lost the third set, going to break up, I start to think bad things, you know. It was so difficult to keep trying to keep fighting. But one more time the crowd and the fans helped me a lot to fight until last point. I think I have to say thank you to everyone for that.”

Del Potro did it with a tremendous serve, which was at 65% on the first try and a blistering return which was clocked at about 100 m.p.h. at times. Ranked No. 6 in the world, this Argentine moved himself into the upper echelon of players, usually reserved for Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick and of course, Federer.

“Well, I think everything is to learn about this match,” he said. “I have many things to improve to be better. Of course I would like to be in top 4, top 3, or top 1 in the future. But I have to play like today many, many weeks in the year. If I still working and still going in the same way, maybe in the future I can do.”

Of course he can. Today was just the first step, but with his skills and resolve, seeing Del Potro in the finals will be commonplace in the future. And as he proved today, he can play with the best of them.

Of course I will be in the history of this tournament,” Del Potro said. “That’s amazing for me. I have new opportunities in the other Grand Slams to win, because if I did here, if I beat Nadal, Federer and many good players, maybe I can do one more time.
“But of course, will be difficult, because I was so close to losing today.”