2015/02/27

Juan Martin del Potro Withdraws From Indian Wells with Wrist Injury

Del Potro in press

(March 9, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday due to ligament damage in his left wrist. Del Potro also pulled out of the Dubai tournament last week with the same injury.

“Well, my situation, it’s the same as Dubai,” said the Argentine.  “The wrist is still bothering me a lot.  I signed up for doubles here to try before singles how I’m feeling, and I played yesterday and I didn’t feel really well.

“I’m not feeling 100%, and I’m not in good conditions to compete and to try and to win the tournament.

“I mean, I always like to feel good and feel the chance to win the tournament, and I’m not feeling that.  The wrist is still bothering me a lot, and my doctors tell me to wait ten more days doing the treatment and do everything possible to play in Miami.

“That’s what is my focus now.  I will have the next ten days for do the same treatment, the same exercises, the same rehabilitation, and try to get in Miami much better than here and see what could happen in that tournament.”

“The problem start in Melbourne,” Del Potro said.  Yeah.  In my first round in Melbourne, yeah.

“And after that match is painful all the time.  I couldn’t spend time without the pain after Melbourne.”

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Juan Martin Del Potro Retires from Match in Dubai

Del Potro retires

(February 25, 2014) DUBAI – Juan Martin Del Potro was forced to retire from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday with a left wrist injury after losing the first set in a tiebreak to Somdev Devvarman.

 

The No. 2 seed had been suffering with the injury before he arrived in Dubai, and he sought medical advice in the United States following his opening round loss at the Australian Open last month. Del Potro missed most of the 2010 season recovering from wrist surgery. Del Potro won the US Open, his only major in 2009.

 

Although he broke for a 2-0 lead, Del Potro immediately dropped his own serve in the next game and after failing to convert three set points on his opponent’s serve at 6-5 he lost the tiebreak 7-3.

 

“My wrist is hurting a lot and it was really tough to play today and I tried everything, but it’s very difficult play like in these conditions, you know, playing slices or I cannot be the player what I would like to be,” said the Argentine.

 

“It’s hurting all the time, it’s sometimes less and sometimes little more. But it’s hurting, and I have been in contact with my doctor all the time.  He’s trying to keep me motivated to keep playing, but I know what it’s my limit playing on court. Today was enough. I have been doing a big effort to play this tournament, and it was not enough to play what I like to play.”

 

Devvarman said that he realized after a few games that Del Potro was having some pain.

 

“After starting the match, I realized that he wasn’t very comfortable hitting backhands obviously, and I tried to make him hit as many as I could, and he wasn’t really hitting over it, so I knew that he wasn’t happy,” said Devvarman. “I just tried to fight hard and tried my best to make things tough for him, make things easier for me.

 

“Obviously it’s unfortunate, you know, especially for a guy like him. I think he’s been playing really good tennis to be in the top 5, and I wish him nothing but the best and a good recovery.”

 

Del Potro said that he plans to head straight to the Mayo Clinic for another consultation with his physician Dr. Richard Berger, who operated his right wrist surgery.
The next tournament is in the United States, and I have a couple of weeks off before the tournament and I will be there to see the doctor and what advice he will give to me,“ Del Potro said.

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Djokovic, Del Potro, Berdych and Federer Meet the Media in Dubai

 

Dubai venue-001

By Florian Heer

(February 23, 2014) DUBAI – For the 22nd time, the only ATP World Tour 500 event in the Middle East region is taking place in Dubai. The tournament is held at the Aviation Club and its Centre Court with the official name of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, has a capacity of 5,000 seats. Total prize money will be US-$ 1,928,340.

The draw was announced on Saturday in which defending champion as well as top-seed Novak Djokovic and five-time winner Roger Federer are projected to clash in the tournament’s semifinals. “We have two of the greatest men who have ever played the game once again competing here at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free. “Their semifinal will be one to savour, but the field here is so strong that neither are guaranteed their place in the final four,” he added.

There is also second-seed Juan Martin Del Potro, who opens his bid for the title against popular wild card Somdev Devvarman. The Argentine could meet 2013 runner-up and recent Rotterdam winner and Australian Open semi-finalist Tomas Berdych in the semifinals. The Czech faces a qualifier in the first round. “With other members of the Top ten in the form of former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, and very in-form Tomas Berdych and the entertaining and highly-talented Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also vying for one of the most coveted trophies on the ATP World Tour, Dubai tennis fans are set to enjoy a fantastic week of top-class action,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak.

Tomas Berdych-001

Tomas Berdych

On Sunday the event’s top-seeds spoke about the coming week. “Every tournament starts from zero. There will be an opponent already in the first round, who really wants to beat you and plays well,” Tomas Berdych explained. “For me there is also a big change coming from indoors and now playing here outside. I still need time starting to build it up again,” the Czech winner from Rotterdam said.

Roger Federer-001

Roger Federer

“For me it is key playing point to point from match to match,” fourth-seeded Roger Federer stated. “The tournaments in Brisbane and Melbourne gave me confirmation that the racket switch was a good choice,” the Swiss said. “It’s nice spending time with him and it is also inspiring just to hear him speaking about the game,” Federer added about his partnership with Stefan Edberg. “Clearly we are favourites in the next match,” the Swiss talked about the Davis Cup when Switzerland will face Kazakhstan. “Clearly with Stan (Wawrinka) we have a very good team, although the depth is not quite there. Nonetheless Marco (Chiudinelli), Michael (Lammer) and Henri (Laaksonen) can play good tennis but still it depends a lot on Stan and myself. We will see how the next round goes and it is clearly nice to play at home in Switzerland,” Federer is looking forward to the tie and hopes that a lot of spectators will come to Geneva in April.

Juan Martin Del Potro-001

Juan Martin Del Potro

“There are a lot of good players here in the draw. There are Federer or Djokovic, who are also favourites to win the title here,” second-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro said. “Of course I also want to go deep into this tournament. There are high expectations in my country as well and I’m trying to keep within the top-five, top-ten this year and it will be a great season for me,” the Argentine said.

Novak Djokovic-001

Novak Djokovic

“I discussed it with my team last year during the Asian swing in September and Marian (Vajda) was actually the one, who suggested to include another coach,” Novak Djokovic said about his partnership with Boris Becker.

“Marian has been travelling for so many year on the tennis tour and he got a little bit tired. He wanted to spend more time with his family. He has two daughters, who also play tennis so the subject came up and we talked about it. We considered different names and Boris was the one, who fitted most to our vision and to that what I want. Next we talked to Boris and there were several months of discussion how we could make this work and eventually he accepted it. Today I’m still excited for having a tennis legend like Boris in my team,” Dubai’s top-seed told the press.

“As a head coach Boris committed to travel a lot of weeks and many tournaments, which is hopefully going to bring me positive results. It’s just the beginning of the season and the Australian Open was a good tournament for us, although I lost in five sets against the champion, somebody who played an incredible tournament of his life. This was a great match to be part of. The year before I won against Stan (Wawrinka), so this is normal. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. It was not because Boris was there instead of Marian, as many people were saying. We are not significantly changing anything in my game. The biggest part where Boris can help me is obviously the mental approach and figuring out certain match situations, as he knows the position on the court.

 

“We are not changing my technique, you will not see me playing with my left and or single-handed backhands,” Djokovic added and laughed. “We do have different games. Boris was a serve and volley player, very strong and muscular. In contrary I’m a player, who stays more at the baseline but I have been working for the last year and a half – also with Marian – trying to use the opportunity that is presented due to my groundstrokes to come to the net and win the point,” the Serb said. “I felt that I have dropped two or three titles in the big tournaments during the last two years, which I could have won. That’s another reason why Boris is here,” Djokovic added.

“After the Australian Open I took some time off. There are more than four weeks between my last official match and Dubai. I only played five matches this year, just practiced for the rest of the weeks and so it will be challenging for me to go out on the courts here. It’s a totally different situation playing matches in front of thousands of people and so I tried to play so many points as possible in the last few days with all the players here,” Djokovic said.

The draw for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships was completed on Sunday after four qualifiers Adrian Ungur, Lukas Lacko, Marius Copil and Thiemo de Bakker battled their way to victory.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Futures Circuit.  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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Del Potro Upset by Bautista Agut, Murray Rolls On at Australian Open

Juan Martin Del Potro

(January 16, 2014) World No. 5 Juan Martin Del Potro became the first major upset victim of the 2014 Australian Open on Thursday when he fell to Roberto Bautista Agut 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 in second round action.

The match which lasted 3 hours and 53 minutes and ended at 1:20 a.m. Friday was the Spaniard’s first win over a Top Ten player in seven tries.

“I think he play a great match during the four hours,” Del Potro said.  “It’s tough when you play very high level during four hours.  Tough to beat the opponent.  I was close.

“But in every moment what I have, he play unbelievable shot.  In breakpoint down, he serves well.  He made winners with forehands, backhands, and he play always to the line very often during the match.

“When you don’t have that little lucky on your side, it’s another thing negative to play.  And I think he did really well.

“I’m so happy for the victory today,” Bautista Agut, the no. 62nd ranked said.  “It was one of my best wins in my career.  I’m so happy for win Del Potro.  I play a good tennis today.

“He’s a great player, one of the best in the world, and I could beat him.  I’m so happy because of that.”

“The season has just started,” the world No. 5 said. “I will try to be positive for the rest of the year.

“I mean, just lost match.  He play really well.  That’s it.

“I need to keep working.  I already won the tournament last week, and that give me confidence to improve my game.

But this kind of match also help me to learn something, and I will try to take my positive things about this match and change the negative to improve my game.”

 

In other action three-time Australian finalist Andy Murray won the last 23 straight points  coming form 1-5 down to dismantle French qualifier No. 267 ranked Vincent Millot 6-2, 6-2, 7-5

Commenting on his 23 point feat, No. 4 player Murray said: “it’s not easy to do either.”  “Good way to finish the match.

“I think, you know, he was obviously almost going for broke on a lot of shots.  I mean, he was hitting the ball so early, and flat and low.  It was very humid today, so the ball really wasn’t flying much.

“You know, he came up with some great shots in the third set.  Then when he didn’t get his set point, I put a good point on his set point.  Then, yeah, I mean, I guess it’s normal he got a little bit nervous, which helped.  He started missing a few balls and I adjusted my tactics a little bit.

“Then that obviously made a difference as well.  So it’s a good way to finish.

In another upset on the day, the once promising American Donald Young took out 24 seed Andreas Seppi 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. The 24-year-old who once reached No. 38 in the world, turned pro as a teenager has recently been picking up ATP points by playing Challenger events

“I happen to be back playing well and hopefully I can keep improving and stay here at this level,” he said to media. “This is where I want to be.”

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Players React to the Heat at the Australian Open

 

(January 14, 2014) Temperatures topped 42C (108F) at the Australian Open on Tuesday while similar temperatures are expected to continue until Friday. Officials still did not invoke the “Extreme Heat Policy.” Here is the official statement from the Australian Open:

AUSTRALIAN OPEN STATEMENT

The top temperature at Melbourne Park today was 42.2 degrees Celsius, at 5.45pm.

Statement from Wayne McKewen, Referee:

While conditions were hot and uncomfortable, the relatively low level of humidity ensured that conditions never deteriorated to a point where it was necessary to invoke the extreme heat policy. Stages one and two of the heat policy were implemented.

Dr Tim Wood, Chief Medical Officer:

The majority of matches today were completed without any court calls from the medical team. Of course there were a few players who experienced heat related illness or discomfort, but none required significant medical intervention after they had completed their match.

 

Most of the matches today didn’t go for much longer than a couple of hours and generally the playing group coped extremely well.

 

Players reacted to the scorching temperatures in their news conferences. Here is a compilation of what the some of players said to press in response the heat:

Wozniacki frustrated

Q.  Could you give us a sense of the conditions and how you felt you coped with that today.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI:  It was a little warm out there today.  But the first set I thought I managed to keep my head cool.  Every time in the changeovers, ice bags, ice towels, everything; and then in the second set I could feel they were starting to heat up even more.

I put the bottle down on the court and it started melting a little bit underneath, the plastic, so you knew it was warm.

But it was warm for both of us, and it was great that I managed to finish it off in two sets and it wasn’t too long.

Yeah, just had an ice bath now.  Yeah, I could go out and play another two sets now (smiling).

Victoria Azarenka

Q.  Any tricks of the trade to the heat?  Do you get an ice bath after that kind of heat?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I’m going to go probably after.  Just using ice, you know, hydrate.  It’s simple things, but you just have to be very disciplined about it.  Ball kids make a great job just bringing the ice towels right there.

 

Q.  Did you have a cold shower before you went out to hit the ball again, or is it a process that you go through to try and sort of bring your body temperature back down?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  No, I just went out straight to go hit.  Actually put on a long sleeved shirt.  It wasn’t probably the smartest thing to do, but I’m fine.

 

Q.  Should the roof have been closed for your match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I don’t know.  I would love it, but, you know, I think my opponent would also enjoy that.  But it’s fine, you know.

I think, you know, we’re all in the same conditions.  It’s much hotter out there right now than when I was playing.

 

Q.  Caroline said she put a plastic water bottle down on the court and she thought that it started melting a bit.  Is it that hot out there?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I don’t know.  It’s pretty hot.  I don’t know, when I went out on the court I was just curious what was the temperature.  Because even though it was windy, the wind was like hot wind.  Like I said, Just don’t blow it, because it’s like even hotter.  Just stop.

But you normally expect a little bit of, I don’t know, some freshness, I don’t know what, but it just didn’t come.  From anywhere (smiling).

 

Q.  The soles of your shoes weren’t burning, were they?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  It felt pretty hot, like you’re dancing in a frying pan or something like that.

 

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

Q.  Not a bad first start.  What was it like playing in that sort of heat in the middle of the night?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I knew I had a tough opponent ahead of me.  You know, the conditions were tough for everyone.  I think we got the least today, considering how late we played.  But it was still pretty warm out there.  Warm enough to have to use some ice vests.

But, you know, looking at her results in the last, you know, couple of weeks and last year and the matches that I’ve played against her, I knew that it was going to be a tough match.

No matter what I had to do, I wanted to get through it, and I think that’s what it was about today.

Q.  How did you like the vest?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It’s cool.  Feels good.  Makes you a little wet, but that’s okay.

Q.  Did you feel sorry in any way for some of the players in the heat?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I noticed their facial expressions.  I’m sure it was very difficult for everyone.  I think everyone, except the meteorologists and the doctors, seemed to have the same opinion about the whether, so…

 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Q.  Everyone’s talking about the heat.  How hot did it feel out there on court?  Some of the hottest conditions you played in?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah, I think it’s maybe the hottest condition I played in.  I remember a match I played against Nishikori a few years ago which was also tough.  We knew before it’s gonna be difficult today, and it was, so it’s good to finish that and look for the next round.

Q.  You seem to be having trouble with your shoes, with getting grip out there.  Was that just the heat?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah, because of the heat, you know, the material of the shoes, you know, it’s really becomes, you know, not really hard.  Like, I don’t know how to say it in English.

But anyway, it’s not good for our shoes when it’s hot like this.

 

Federer 1

Q.  Much obviously today has been made of the conditions.  How would you describe them and how it affected your play, if any, today?
ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, I thought it was very dry, just hot, you know, stinging sort of sun.

I guess also it depends on who you play, if you’re playing a big server, clearly faster conditions.  If you’re getting into rallies, I guess you’ll feel the heat a bit more.

Depending on where you come from it has a bigger effect on you, this type of heat, than maybe humid heat.  So it’s very personal, and it can become just a very mental thing, you know, and you just can’t accept that it’s hot.

Just deal with it, because it’s the same for both.  That’s basically it.

 

Q.  You spoke before the tournament about how hard you trained in the offseason.  Does that help you if the weather stays like this to cope well?
ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, I didn’t practice in 40 degree heat because that’s hard to find, you know, around the world.  I did that after the US Open.  In Dubai we had 42, 43, so that was warm then.

But like I said, it’s just a mental thing.  If you’ve trained hard enough your entire life or the last few weeks and you believe you can do it and come through it, there’s no reason.

If you can’t deal with it, you throw in the towel.  But that’s for me.

Q.  From your perspective, should the roof be closed on Rod Laver when the heat gets this bad?
ROGER FEDERER:  No.  I think it should always stay open, honestly.  That’s my opinion.

 

Kei Nishikori

Q.  How was it today?

KEI NISHIKORI:  I’m happy to win, I mean, first of all.  You know, it was not easy condition with the heat and with the wind.

Yeah, it’s always tough to play, you know, first round.  You get tight and, you know, anything can happen.

But I’m happy to win in fifth set.

Q.  Was there any point in the match where you had some problems with the heat?  Because you played five sets, three and a half hours, I think, 3:40.

KEI NISHIKORI:  Actually, not really.  Brisbane was much tougher.  It was no wind and humidity was high.  Here it’s, you know, with the wind and it’s dry, so it wasn’t too bad, actually.

 

Q.  I think it’s still 41 degrees outside.  How do you deal with the heat?
NICK KYRGIOS:  I think it suits my game pretty well.  It will suit my serving a lot.  The more aggressive you are, I think it helps a lot.

Obviously it’s affecting everyone out there.  It’s pretty tough.  You got to stay hydrated.  You got to be smart with nutrition, as well.

Yeah, tough conditions out there, for sure.

Juan Martin Del Potro

Q.  How did you find the conditions today in the heat?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO:  Was terrible for play.  I mean, it was for both player, but is tough to play long rallies, to manage the weather conditions.  And it’s tough to play in these kind of conditions.

I mean, you are thinking about a lot more things than the tennis match.  You are trying to drink a lot and always thinking about your body, your physic, and not about the game.

I know tomorrow and after tomorrow it’s going to be worst, so I will try to be ready for the weather conditions, too.

Andy Murray 8202013

Q.  Do you think the conditions were safe out there?  A couple players collapsed.  A ball boy collapsed.
ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah, it’s definitely something that you maybe have to look at a little bit.  As much as it’s easy to say the conditions are safe   you know, a few people said there’s doctors and stuff saying it’s fine   it only takes one bad thing to happen.  And it looks terrible for the whole sport when people are collapsing, ball kids are collapsing, people in the stands are collapsing.  That’s obviously not great.

And I know when I went out to hit before the match, the conditions like at 2:30, 3:00 were very, very, very tough conditions.  Anyone’s going to struggle in that heat.

Whether it’s safe or not, I don’t know.  You just got to be very careful these days.  There’s been some issues in other sports with, you know, players having heart attacks.  I don’t know exactly why that is.  Or collapsing.

In this heat, that’s when you’re really pushing it to your limits.  You don’t want to see anything bad happen to anyone.

 

Q.  Were you surprised the heat rule wasn’t implemented today?
ANDY MURRAY:  I don’t know what the heat rule is, so…

Q.  Nobody does.
ANDY MURRAY:  Exactly.

Q.  Bearing in mind how hot it was this afternoon, you could have had a roof and air conditioning.
ANDY MURRAY:  Apparently it wasn’t that humid today.  That’s why it wasn’t implemented.  There’s different rules for the men and women.  I don’t know why.  I don’t understand what the difference is in the two rules.

If I’m told to play, I play; if not, then we don’t.

 

Q.  What’s the talk in the locker room?  Are people unhappy about it?
ANDY MURRAY:  I don’t know.  I mean, I didn’t sit down and discuss whether the guys are happy with the rules or not.

But every single person that I saw coming in from practice or going out to play a match or coming back from a match, everyone just said like, It’s really hot today.  That was what they said (smiling).

SloaneStephens

Q.  Has there been much chatter in the locker room today about the heat and wind, especially out on Court 6, the outer courts?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, no, I saw it this morning at breakfast.  I was like, Can’t be windy outside.  I just expected it would be hot.

But, I mean, I kept looking at my phone.  Mine is in Fahrenheit.  I’m like 108 Fahrenheit, why is that happening?  Then I kind of like Googled 45 Centigrade like just to see what’s happening.

I think the heat was more in my mind than anything.  When I got there it wasn’t that bad for me.  Obviously I played later, so it was okay.

 

Q.  We don’t have to ask Siri about the Celsius conversion?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, just ask me, because I’ve been looking at it all day (smiling).

GillesSimonTasteofTennis-600x450

Q.  So the conditions helped you?
GILLES SIMON:  Yeah.  If I feel ready and I want to fight from the baseline, then he a tough opponent because I will just look for rhythm in the match and finally the condition will be helpful for this.  He will serve fast, with the wind, with the heat; you don’t control anything.

But today it was the other way.  I just wanted it to be as short as possible with no reason.  I wanted him to feel bad, to get tight, and I managed to do that.

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Top Seeds Advance in Melbourne Despite Extreme Heat Conditions

Nadal

(January 14, 2014) On a day which saw soaring temperatures, the Australian Open saw top seeds advance on day two of the tennis’ first major of the year. Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer,  Juan Martin Del Potro, Maria Sharapova and defending champion Victoria Azarenka  moved into the second round despite temperatures which went over 42 Celsius (108 Fahrenheit).

In addition to the heat, the tournament was beset by retirements, not linked to the heat – six in all which included top American John Isner (ankle) the 13th seed, 12 seed Tommy Haas (shoulder) and 21st seed Philipp Kohlschreiber who withdrew before play, Radek Stepanek (neck).

Nadal was only on the court for a set up 6-4 when his opponent Australian Bernard Tomic retired with a groin injury.

“I know how tough is this situation, I had the same a few years ago at this tournament,” Nadal said. “Since the beginning, I saw a little bit he had some problems on the leg.”

“It was sad,” Tomic said.  It’s unfortunate.  You know, this opportunity I had to play against Rafa was huge for me.  Could have used a lot of it.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t compete.  It was very difficult for me to say sorry to the crowd.  I don’t think they quite knew what was wrong with me.”

Federer began his record 57th consecutive major tournament with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 win over Australian wild-card James Duckworth.

Just over a week after beating Federer in Brisbane, Former Lleyton Hewitt fell in his home slam in five grueling sets to No. 24-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy

Men’s seeds advancing included No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 11 Milos Raonic, No. 16 Kei Nishikori, No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 31 Fernando Verdasco.

On the women’s side No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanzka, No. 8 Jelena Jankovic, No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 11 Simona Halep,  No. 13 Sloane Stephens, No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro, and No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova.

In the women’s upset of the day, No. 19 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova fell  6-3, 6-3 to Elina Svitolina.

Related Articles:

Players React to the Heat at the Australian Open

Nishikori Wins Five-Set Test Under Scorching Heat in Melbourne

Dimitrov Recovers form to best Klahn at Australian Open

One-on-One with American Tennis Player Tim Smyczek

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Juan Martin Del Potro Wins Sydney International

Del Potro

By Dave Gertler

(January 11, 2014) SYDNEY – A flurry of unforced errors in the first set between Bernard Tomic and Juan Martin Del Potro was the beginning of the end of Tomic’s campaign to defend the Apia International title, in Sydney on Saturday night.

For the first six games, both Tomic and Del Potro displayed a cross section of the shots and power available to them, and although Tomic was dropping the first point of his service games – a trend that would continue throughout the rest of the match – he was still managing to hold serve, albeit without pushing Del Potro on his own serve – also an unhelpful trend for the 21-year-old Australian.

Tomic was hanging in there with the world No.5, and serving at 3-all when he made four consecutive unforced errors to hand Del Potro the break. This would be the start of a ten-point run that would only end when Tomic was serving at 3-5, 0-30. Seemingly stripped of his confidence from this point, the set was over a few points later, when Tomic netted a backhand to give Del Potro the first set 6-3.

Tomic would later comment on the significant turning point, saying, “I felt like at the 3 all game I missed two, three shots I shouldn’t have probably missed. From then, he just sort of got momentum and started to relax, and he was starting to play to win rather not to lose. From then it was very difficult for me to turn it around. Very difficult.”

Nonetheless, after a rousing cheer from the Aussie crowd between play of the first and second sets, Tomic showed positive signs of keeping up with the grand slam champion. When Del Potro – whom many in the crowd also came to support – held the opening service game of the second set to love, Tomic matched this feat on his own serve, firing off two aces on the way to his own love-hold.

Unfortunately for Tomic, that was all the love he would get on Ken Rosewall Arena, as he would go on to lose the next five games, and the championship, in a match that lasted 53 minutes.

A stingy Del Potro never let Tomic have more than two points on his serve – he dominated his younger opponent with 83% first serve points won (compared to Tomic’s 60%) and 86% second serve points won (compared to Tomic’s 25%). Towards the end of the short match, Del Potro was regularly clocking over 200km/h on first serve, whereas the Australian’s first serve maxed out at about 160km/h.

Del Potro said post match, “I think I play great. My forehand works perfect, I make a lot winners, many aces, play good slices. Every long rally we played I won all of them.” He summarized the win over Tomic, saying, “I think Bernard was a little frustrating after see me very focus on the match and hitting the ball so well. He is still young in some moment of the match, but he has everything to win titles, and he will reach finals very, very soon.”

Both players are now looking ahead to the Australian Open in Melbourne, where Tomic has drawn world No.1 Rafael Nadal in the first round. Ken Rosewall, the man himself, had congratulated both players on court after the final was over. “He said, Very good tournament. Pleased to have you back,” Tomic recounted his conversation with the living tennis legend, “I said, Thank you, Mr. Rosewall, hopefully next year I can come back and have another chance of winning.  He wished me luck for Tuesday’s match against Rafa.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and was covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Del Potro and Tomic advance to the finals of the Apia International

Bernard Tomic

Bernard Tomic

By Dave Gertler

(January 10, 2014) SYDNEY – Juan Martin Del Potro put on a clinical display of dominant tennis to beat Dmitry Tursunov in the semifinals of the Apia International, on Friday.

Tursunov mustered all the defensive skills he could manage to try and hold off the Argentine world No.5, who seemed to be hitting bigger and moving around the court at a higher intensity than the Sydney crowd had yet seen in 2014. The 31-year-old Russian world No.32 fought well on serve but was unable to match the level of the 2009 US Open champion. While he kept up for most of the first set, only ceding one break toward the end for 4-6, the second set was more one-sided, Tursunov broken twice on the way to a 2-6 scoreline.

“I think I played the best match of the week,” said Del Potro, “I played great with my forehands and serves. I didn’t make easy errors and I play solid on the baselines and I play good dropshots, good volleys. I think I did everything okay, and I’m glad with my level of today. I’m looking forward for the final of tomorrow.”

When asked whether it was the announcement of the Australian Open draw earlier in the day that had been the catalyst for his performance today, Del Potro emphasized his focus on this tournament, saying, “I didn’t see (the draw) yet, and I don’t want to know yet. I think I’m trying to be professional. This tournament is not over yet for me. I have an important match tomorrow, so I try to just be focus on this tournament, on this draw, this schedule. And my team already knows they’re not allowed to talk about Melbourne yet.  My friends, too. If I can be focused just on in tournament it’s much better for me.”

While the second semifinal was being decided between Sergiy Stakhovsky and Bernard Tomic, Del Potro discussed his thoughts on playing Tomic – the eventual winner – saying, “He’s hitting harder his forehand. He been working a lot on that forehand I think. He improve a little bit his game. In the final everything can happen. Doesn’t matter who’s the favorite on the paper. The final must to be play, and tomorrow I can tell you who is the winner.”

Tomic’s win over Stakhovsky was a nervous one, Stakhovsky known as a net-rushing all-court player, and also famously for his upset over Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2013. In a topsy-turvy affair, Tomic seemed unsettled and less confident than the calculating, aggressive Tomic who had beaten Alexandr Dolgopolov the previous evening.

In the early stages of the match, Stakhovsky was the more aggressive and won the first set in a tie break. While Tomic and Stakhovsky together faced 11 break points in the first set, the second set saw only one break point – on Stakhovsky’s serve – which Tomic converted, to win the set 7-5, taking the match to a deciding set.

Stakhovsky’s unforced errors were a factor throughout the match, and were his downfall in the third set, along with some untimely double faults. Tomic became the more aggressive and relatively consistent player of the two, in a match largely characterized stalemate. Forcing the break of serve at 3-3, Tomic held for 5-3 and broke again to close out the match.

Tomic was realistic about his chances against Del Potro, and gave an honest assessment of his sketchy performance in the semifinal by saying he will need to, “Play the way I played in my first round and the quarters to win.”

Like Del Potro, Tomic – who it was announced today will face world No.1 Rafael Nadal in the first round at the Australian Open – was reluctant to cast his thoughts ahead to next week’s grand slam, saying, “My main priority is tomorrow night, and on Sunday I’ll think about the Australian Open.” When asked again, he said, “Like I said, we’ll talk about it Sunday.”

About Del Potro, Tomic said, “He can play amazing. I have to stick with him to have a chance. He could get tight and I play a little bit differently, so hopefully I can get buzzed up and play my tennis,” also adding that the Argentine’s forehand is the best on tour.

As an overall strategy going into the final, Tomic said, “I know what Juan is gonna be doing.  Obviously he’s very, very good at what he does. This is why he’s there. I have to do something different. I have to play my game. It’s a final. I’ll go out there, have fun, relax, and I’m going for the win.”

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Top Seed Del Potro Pushed by Stepanek

Del Potro

By Dave Gertler

(January 9, 2014) We’re into the sharp end of the 2014 Apia International in Sydney, on a Thursday that features men’s quarterfinals and women’s semifinals matches on Ken Rosewall Arena, with a mix of singles and doubles matches being played on Grandstand Court.

The biggest drawcard of the men’s tournament, Juan Martin Del Potro, had to contend with consistent pressure from Radek Stepanek throughout their two hour and eight minute quarterfinal. After Del Potro served well to seal the first set 6-4, the Czech 35-year-old played high-risk tennis which seemed to affect Del Potro’s confidence and energy levels, particularly in the second set, during which Stepanek outplayed his opponent, ranked 40 places above him, to win it 6-3.

After being broken in the second set, Del Potro was visibly frustrated, and experienced a dip in energy, errors frequently coming off his racquet.

Post-match he described a moment when he almost smashed his racquet, saying, “Yeah, I was close, but I can’t do that yet. When I get eight or ten racquets, I will smash all of them. I will talk before with the chair umpire to don’t call me a code violation or something. I have to be allowed to do that after two years maybe.”

The third set provided some of the most entertaining tennis seen so far in the 2014 Apia International, when Del Potro lifted his game to match the swashbuckling net-rushing of the world No.45. Whereas in the second set, Del Potro had faced eight break points, saving only five, he proved the better player on all the big points, only allowing Stepanek one break point, which he saved. Del Potro’s break came early at one game all, and with the help of a small but vocal Argentinian contingent on Ken Rosewall Arena, was able to hold onto the advantage and take the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Talking about his growing confidence toward the end of the match, he said, “I’m trying to be calm all the time.  I was positive every moment of the match.  Even Radek improve his game during the second set, I was positive, waiting for my chance, and I play a fantastic two pints in the third game of the third set to break his serve. Then I serve okay.  Just doing my job, and I was close the match really calm.”

In the second men’s quarterfinal, Dmitry Tursonov defeated Denis Istomin 7-6, 6-2. Del Potro and Tursonov will meet in Friday’s men’s semifinal.

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Del Potro Survives Test from Mahut to Advance in Sydney

Juan Martin Del Potro

(January 8, 2014) SYDNEY – Sydney top seed Juan Martin Del Potro had to rally to beat Nicolas Mahut 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in his opening match of the tournament.

“I think to be my first match after two months it was okay,” note the Argentine.  “The court and the balls are really fast and it’s tough to play long rallies.

“And also Mahut serves really well, and he played a lot of slices and volleys.  It’s tough to feel the ball on the baseline.  In the end I broke his serve in the third set, only once, and that was enough to close the match.”

The world No. 5 gets another challenge in Czech Radek Stepanek next.

“He’s a really tough opponent,” Del Potro said.  “They won the Davis Cup, so he must feel confidence playing in this surface.  He has experience.  He’s doing really well in doubles matches, too.

“We play many times.  Every match was close.  I need to improve a little bit my game basically when I start the match and then see what’s happen.

“I’m glad to be in quarterfinals here once again, and I am looking forward to go far in this tournament.”

In other men’s matches, Alexandr Dolgopolov upset second seed Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 6-2, 6-2 while defending champion Bernard Tomic moved in the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over Blaz Kavcic.

“I’m trying to prepare as best I can,” Tomic said.  “I’m not looking at this to defend my title, like I said yesterday.  I’m looking to win another one.  I believe I can do it.

“Eight players left.  I’m confident.  I’m going to keep trying.  Tomorrow is a difficult match.  I’ve got to go out there and play tennis like I did in the first round, ant that’s going to give me the best chance of winning.

Tomic is the defending champion at the Apia International.

Tennis Panorama News is in Sydney Australia covering the Apia International tennis tournament. Follow the Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN

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