>Rafael Nadal has had a routine round two match against Taylor Dent, defeating the American 6-2, 7-5. The opening set was essentially one way traffic for the Spaniard as Dent struggled on serve, and had even more difficultly stringing consecutive points together.
In the first set Dent frequently over-played, trying early to find a way to penetrate the Nadal game. Error after error came off Dent’s racquet and in almost 30 minutes Nadal had wrapped up the first set.
Dent found his way in the second set, finding his first serve along the way. He broke Nadal for a 4-2 lead after and incredibly sloppy game from the Spaniard, however, the world number one wasted no time breaking back. From that point Dent only managed to win one more game. Nadal put the break down to Dent’s impressive service power. “It happens when I play against big servers like Taylor. The match was close, and I was waiting to have my chance, but you are out of the rhythm from the baseline because he’s not giving you the long point. It’s difficult to have feel for the ball.”
At one point Dent threw down an incredible 149mph service ace, but struggled with his second serve, winning only 32% of these point. It may have been an uninspiring match from Dent (who seems to have added more than a few kilos) but we have to remember that most people look like novices against Nadal and Federer. Dent has previously suffered from a serious back injury that required surgery and kept him off the courts for over a year.
The win marks Rafa’s 35th win in 37 matches over recent weeks. His only losses were at Queens and Toronto last week.
Despite his success in recent weeks Nadal will struggle as always at the US Open, with his serve lacking the bite to really penetrate the court.
Nadal next faces Julien Benneteau.
France has annihilated Spain in their Davis Cup quarterfinal tie 5-0. It is the first time in over 50 years that Spain has been handed such a savage beating. After losing the doubles, and with it the tie, the Spaniards remained unable to produce any wins with Nicolas Almagro falling 6-7, 6-7 to Gilles Simon while Feli Lopez fell 6-7, 4-6 to Julien Benneteau.
It was a terrible result in an otherwise brilliant week for Spain. Last Sunday Rafa Nadal won Wimbledon, the Davis Cup players then celebrated Spain’s World Cup semi final win before the tie started, and just last night Spain walked away with the World Cup trophy.
France will now face Argentina in the semi’s after David Nalbandian proved to be the hero of the South American team. France have won their last four meetings with Argentina in Davis Cup.
Nalbandian was the saviour of Argentina in the last round of Davis Cup, returning unexpectedly from injury to help guide them to victory. Again David has returned from injury to help after withdrawing from Wimbledon to allow himself more healing time to ensure he was healthy for Davis Cup. “I played great, much better than Friday. I said I had to keep improving my game, and that is what I did today. We won so I’m so happy to be in the semifinals again.”
Nikolay Davydenko, also returning from injury, had struggled in the tie but managed to level the meet at two all, prior to Nalbandian’s decisive win. Davydenko had been unsure if he would play until his wife stepped in. “I said to my wife, I don’t know how I feel, maybe it would be better if I retire today. She told me, you started playing on Friday and you need to continue through till Sunday and win.”
France has produced a remarkable upset by defeating the two-time defending champions Spain in the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup overnight. On hard courts, in front of French home crowds, Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco were no match for Julien Benneteau and Michael Llordra in the doubles rubber. The Spaniards were lucky to avoid a straight sets defeat having lost their opening service game in the third set and then managing to push towards a tie break which they narrowly managed to secure. The French team were superior and ultimately took the match 6-1, 6-2, 6-7, 7-6.
After holidaying together in Ibiza, Feli and Fernando lacked intensity throughout the match, and consistency on serve. The French resistance was so strong that the Spaniards were repeatedly broken and struggled to get into any of their returning games. While the Spaniards were lacking fire, the French players were clearly inspired by their lead and with the home crowd advantage.
Verdasco, who had struggled on serve all match, double faulted in the fourth set tie break to give the French a 4-2 lead from which the could not recover even with some huge serving from Feliciano.
The Spaniards may have saved a match point in the third set tie break, but they were unable to stop the French recording the historic win. The French crowd went wild as the players fell to the ground in celebration of their victory.
“Even if I am 30 years, I like this kind of match. Amazing. We play tennis for that. Today it was too good on the court. When I started playing tennis, my dream was to play in the French team. When I was 11 years old, I saw Guy Forget and Henri Leconte in Davis Cup in Lyon when they won against the USA and, in my head, you know I said one time in my life I want to be like this and today it was amazing. We beat Spain, the defending champions. It’s unbelievable.” – Michael Llordra
Gilles Simon has registered his first win of the season after not playing since March and barely playing since the US Open last year. Simon improved his season record to 1-4 at Eastbourne after the 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 victory over Evgeny Korolev.
Simon had been ranked inside the top ten before struggling with an injury to the patella tendon (on top of tendinitis) that was stubborn to heal. The Frenchman had said earlier in the year he was just going to have to learn to play through the pain, before sitting out nearly 3 months of play.
Gilles played without his usual heavy taping.
James Blake, also returning after a knee injury, slipped outside the top 100 after his extensive time off the tour, not playing since March. Blake was not as lucky as Simon, losing to Julien Benneteau 7-6, 7-5.
Ernest Gulbis has fallen on the first day of play at Roland Garros. Gulbis struggled from the start against Julien Benneteau and was behind 4-6, 2-6, 0-1 when he retired due to a thigh injury sustained during the second set on a bad slide.
“I stretched my leg, my hamstrings, and I heard two cracks. I hope it’s nothing serious, because it can be anything, but it’s a little stretch of the muscle.I will go for a scan and hope that nothing is broken.”
“Of course I’m disappointed. I prepared really good for this tournament, but it’s okay. It’s a Grand Slam, it’s a big tournament. But I have maybe nine more, eight more years of my career, I will have 20 Grand Slams in front of me, and if I concentrate on one, which wasn’t that good, I will get nothing, but it’s okay.”
It’s a disappointing loss for the big hitting Latvian who took out Federer and challenged Nadal in Rome. He was widely tipped as being one to watch in the tournament, and has instead, failed to survive the opening day. As Gulbis said “If I concentrate on just this one, I’d go nuts. It’s happened and I will learn from it.”
>It was a bad day for the seeds in Rome today with Marcos Baghdatis, Sam Querrey and Juan Carlos Ferrero packing their bags and heading off towards Madrid to train and await the next Masters tournament.
Ernests Gulbis disposed of Baghdatis 6-2, 6-2 in just under 70 minutes in fairly simple fashion with Gulbis striking the ball cleanly and simply outplaying the Cypriot. Gulbis will face Roger Federer in the next round.
Querrey was scheduled to play Julien Benneteau who can play dangerous tennis if he’s in form, and in a first round encounter that could have gone either way, the Frenchman came out on top 7-6, 3-6, 7-6. Benneteau managed to win just 4 more points in total that his American opponent.
The biggest surprise (although I’ll admit I had a sneaky feeling he’d fall early but not this early) was the thrashing of Juan Carlos Ferrero by qualifies Santiago Giraldo who beat Ferrero with 32 winners compared to just 9 from Ferrero. Ferrero was thrashed so convincingly that the first set, which Giraldo won 6-0, took just 17 minutes to complete.
John Isner barely survived his 25th birthday clash with Horacio Zeballos, rallying back to win in three tight sets 4-6, 7-6, 7-5. Isner was aided by 20 aces.
Things could potentially be fairly tough for Roger Federer, who is coming back to the tour after a chest infection, if he wants to get through to the finals of Indian Wells. If he’s to do so he will likely have to pass through Andy Murray and Andy Roddick on his way. While Federer should have no trouble defeating either Victor Hanescu or Juan Ignacio Chela in the second round (1st round bye), he will most likely have to battle Marcos Baghdatis in the 3rd round.
Roddick will have to work hard if he wants to meet the Fed-express in the quarterfinals. He may have to beat Gael Monfils and, dangerous floating wild card, David Nalbandian.
Things look equally rough for Rafa Nadal, also returning to the tour after 6 weeks off resting his knees, who will most likely have to face Nikolay Davydenko in the quarterfinals. This is bad news for the Spaniard who had Davydenko’s number earlier this year in Dubai and then let his lead slip and lost the match. Nadal has apparently spent the last 3 weeks in heavy training with no apparent pain in his knees. Rafa will face a qualifier in the second round and then possibly Julien Benneteau.
“We’ve worked during the pre-season to recover the form which I had when I arrived in Australia. I feel strong and my knees do not hurt. I just want to compete. The most immediate goal is to play well during the American hard court season. I have 1,000 points to defend at Indian Wells as defending champion. But the main idea is to play well.”
There is also seemingly a larger number of first round byes, with grateful recipients including; Feli Lopes, Radek Stepanek, Tomas Berdych, Gilles Simon and Philipp Kohlschreiber.
The French doubles team of Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra thrashed the German doubles team of Christopher Kas and Philipp Kohlschreiber, winning 6-1, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5, to secure the tie for the French. The French team, including reserves Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon, celebrated the victory
After being in devastating form in the 1st and 2nd sets, a lull in the French game and concentration saw the Germans crawl back into the match, but only briefly. The victory gave France an unbeatable 3-0 lead that will allow them to move into the next round. They will still play the reverse singles (which are now dead rubbers) with Tsonga and Monfils.
The USA was supposed to play world class doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan in the doubles rubber today against Serbia. However, John Isner had to step in for Mike who had food poisoning. Team USA are hoping that the victory, and his second live rubber, will help John Isner settle into the tie and allow him to play better tennis in the reverse singles on Sunday where he will play Novak Djokovic.
“Mike got room service, chicken curry, and at 3am he started to get the shakes and started to vomit. We put him on an IV, he came out to the stadium and tried to practise but shook his head as he knew he couldn’t finish a match. I picked John because I wanted to back up that big serve and I think we combined pretty well.” – Bob Bryan
In other Davis Cup news Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic secured their tie against Ecuador with their doubles win, giving them a 3-0 victory.
Posted in Bryan Brothers, Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon, Ivo Karlovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, John Isner, Julien Benneteau, Marin Cilic, Michael Llodra, Novak Djokovic, Richard Gasquet