Andreev Upsets Gonzalez’s Farewell Tour at Brasil Open

Fernando Gonzalez speaks to ESPN at 2012 Brasil Open

By Lucia Hoffman

SAO PAULO, Brazil – Russian qualifier Igor Andreev upset  Fernando Gonzalez’s retirement party tour as he stopped the Chilean wild card 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the Brasil Open.  The Chilean was broken three times as Andreev won in  a mere 64 minutes.

Andreev was pounding the ball hard and fast and it was difficult for Gonzalez to keep up with the Russian’s pace as Gonzalez is not fully recovered from a hip injury. Gonzalez said that the difference in the match was that Andreev served extremely well. Gonzalez was broken three times by Andreev in the loss.

Gonzalez officially announced last week that he’ll be retiring from the tour after the Sony Ericsson Open. When asked about why did he chose to call it quits after Miami, he said it was because of the large Latin community that gathers in Miami.

Gonzalez was also asked about the difference between tennis today and when he first came on tour. The Chilean said that nowadays the balls are faster, the physical load is tremendous and the players have to be better prepared. He emphasized that the speed of the ball, was what he noticed has changed the most since he started playing on the tour.


Thomaz Bellucci paired up with countryman Marcelo Melo to stop  the pair of Albert Montanes and Albert Ramos 6-3, 6-2. Bellucci was asked by media about who  he considers the  favorite to win the title and if he believes that a Brazilian player can hold he trophy this year.   Bellucci said that there are some clay court specialists that are always favorites to win, and he considers Fernando Verdasco, Gilles Simon and Nicolas Almagro very tough opponents. They are “players play in a vey high level.” But if he had to bet in one player to win he smiled and said that he had to bet on Thomaz Bellucci.

Also Bellucci candidly emphasized his contentment in playing in Sao Paulo, which is his hometown and he has his friends and family supporting him. I noticed that during the match that Marcelo Melo and Bellucci were very happy to have such great crowd support, which was one third full of capacity for last doubles match of the day.

Tomorrow it will be one of the best days at Sao Paulo tournament with big names Simon, Verdasco and David Nalbandian playing. Verdasco got to Sao Paulo very late Monday night and will start Wednesday.
When asked by ESPN Brasil about difference playing his friends on the tour, Bellucci who plays  friend Ricardo Mello Wednesday, he explained that they are very close and usually go out for dinner and that doesn’t affect their work on the court. There is an understanding t hat friendship is strong and that they have to play heir best.  In fact that has been a very close group lately, they all support each other, always watching each other’s games, practicing together etc.  Andre Sa, has been great support for the group, himself being a top player.

I asked  Bellucci about the Olympics and he’s looking forward to participating and feels very happy for the chance to play.

Melo/Bellucci photo by Douglas Daniel

In terms of doubles, Bellucci said he will play Acapulco with Marcelo Melo, and then focus on his singles game.  Bellucci said that playing doubles is definitely helping him to come to the net more to improve his game, since his game is “heavily on the baseline.” His forehand is his weapon. During the match on Tuesday, Bellucci made more mistakes on return of serve in the ad court on the backhand return.

Melo said he will play again with Bruno Soares, that their separation was not because of anything personal but scheduling, and likes playing with other great Brazilian players.
I asked about their thoughts on the Olympics and Melo and Bellucci said they are looking forward to representing the country. Marcelo considers Olympics a great honor to and he might play with Bruno Soares. Also Bellucci and Mello said that having played in the Beijing Olympics it was an amazing experience they are looking forward to June in London.

Joao Souza photo by Gaspar Nabrega.

Brazilian player Joao Souza lost to Romania’s Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-3, but won the crowd. Souza is from a city called Mogi das Cruzes, near Sao Paulo, and had many friends and family come out to support him. The Brazilian crowd offered all its of support, and in the beginning of second set he even raised his arms asking for more.

Souza mentioned that what hurt him the most in the match was that Hanescu kept balls deep and his backhand down the line was hurting Souza. In hindsight Joao feels that he needs to get stronger in his legs and try not to make so many unforced errors. Most errors were forced by Hanescu’s more aggressive and sophisticated style of play.

Hanescu plays with a poker face and started putting pressure from the first game which Souza said it hurt him in first set. It took him two games first set to start breathing better and feel his strokes. But Souza is positive on his game and he has had wins over Volandri, Gonzalez and other good players. The Brazilian said he needed to just keep positive and working hard.

Hanescu will face Nicolas Almagro in the second round.

Lucia Hoffman is in Sao Paulo covering the Brasil Open for Tennis Panorama News.

ATP World Tour 250
Sao Paulo, Brazil  (-2 hours GMT)
13-19 February, 2012     Surface: Indoor Clay


Singles – First Round
[5] C Berlocq (ARG) d E Prodon (FRA) 64 60
V Hanescu (ROU) d J Souza (BRA) 63 63
[Q] I Andreev (RUS) d [WC] F Gonzalez (CHI) 62 63
[Q] R Ramirez Hidalgo (ESP) d R Machado (POR) 63 16 62

Doubles – First Round
T Bellucci (BRA) / M Melo (BRA) d A Montanes (ESP) / A Ramos (ESP) 63 62
D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) / F Volandri (ITA) d [WC] G Clezar (BRA) / C Zampieri (BRA) 64 63


CENTRE COURT start 12:00 noon
P Starace (ITA) vs [Q] P Capdeville (CHI)
S Giraldo (COL) vs [8] A Ramos (ESP)

Not Before 4:30 PM
[6] J Ferrero (ESP) vs L Mayer (ARG)

Not Before 7:00 PM
D Nalbandian (ARG) vs B Paire (FRA)
R Mello (BRA) vs [4] T Bellucci (BRA)

COURT 1 start 12:00 noon
B Kavcic (SLO) vs [Q] J Chardy (FRA)
F Gil (POR) / D Junqueira (ARG) vs [4] M Mertinak (SVK) / A Sa (BRA)
[WC] R Dutra Silva (BRA) / B Sant’anna (BRA) vs [2] D Bracciali (ITA) / P Starace (ITA)

COURT 2 start 4:00 pm
R Machado (POR) / R Ramirez Hidalgo (ESP) vs J Chardy (FRA) / G Simon (FRA)