Monday Net Post

Monday, September 17, 2007 /by

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Last Week's Tournaments

BCR Open Romania (ATP - Clay - Bucharest, Romania)

- Singles Final: Gilles Simon def. Victor Hanescu 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
     - Singles Semifinal: Gilles Simon def. Carlos Berlocq 6-7, 6-2, 6-3.
     - Singles Semifinal: Victor Hanescu def. Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-3.
- Singles Bracket

- Doubles Final: Oliver Marach/Michal Mertinak def. Martin Garcia/Sebastian Prieto 7-6, 7-6.
     - Doubles Semifinal: Oliver Marach/Michal Mertinak def. Mariusz Fyrstenberg/Marcin Matkowski 6-4, 6-4.
     - Doubles Semifinal: Martin Garcia/Sebastian Prieto def. Victor Hanescu/Andrei Pavel 7-5, 2-6, 11-9.
- Doubles Bracket

China Open (ATP - Hard - Beijing, China)

- Singles Final: Fernando Gonzalez def. Tommy Robredo 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.
     - Singles Semifinal: Tommy Robredo def. Nicolas Kiefer 7-6, 7-5.
     - Singles Semifinal: Fernando Gonzalez def. Ivan Ljubicic 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
- Singles Bracket

- Doubles Final: Rik de Voest/Ashley Fisher def. Chris Haggard/Yen-Hsun Lu 6-7, 6-0, 10-6.
     - Doubles Semifinal: Chris Haggard/Yen-Hsun Lu def. Eric Butorac/Ross Hutchins 6-4, 6-3.
     - Doubles Semifinal: Rik de Voest/Ashley Fisher def. Scott Lipsky/David Martin 7-6, 7-6.
- Doubles Bracket

Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic (WTA - Hard - Bali, Indonesia)

- Singles Final: Lindsay Davenport def. Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
     - Singles Semifinal: Lindsay Davenport def. Sara Errani 6-1, 6-3.
     - Singles Semifinal: Daniela Hantuchova def. Sorana Cirstea 7-5, 6-1.

- Doubles Final: Chunmei Ji/Shengnan Sun def. Jill Craybas/Natalie Grandin 6-3, 6-2.
     - Doubles Semifinal: Jill Craybas/Natalie Grandin def. Martina Muller/Gabriela Navratilova 6-3, 6-4.
     - Doubles Semifinal: Chunmei Ji/Shengnan Sun def. Lindsay Davenport/Daniela Hantuchova (walkover).

- Singles & Doubles Bracket

Fed Cup Final (WTA - Indoor Hard - Moscow, Russia)

- Russia vs. Italy
     - Rubber 1:
Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) def. Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
     - Rubber 2: Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) def. Mara Santangelo (ITA) 6-1, 6-2.
     - Rubber 3: Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) def. Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 4-6, 7-6, 7-5.
     - Rubber 4 (dead): Elena Vesnina (RUS) def. Mara Santangelo (ITA) 6-2, 6-4.

By the Letter

T...itleless since February 2004, Gustavo Kuerten is considering retirement if he cannot "compete at a high level" next year.
E...levated to No. 9 in the world after reaching the U.S. Open semifinals, Venus Williams joins her sister Serena in the WTA Tour top 10 for the first time since September 19, 2005.
N...ovember 22 has been confirmed as the date of the first exhibition match between Roger Federer and Pete Sampras.  Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal will play each before the main event at the Malawati Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  It has also been confirmed that Sampras and Federer will play at Madison Square Garden on March 10, 2008.
N...ice-born Gilles Simon won his second title of the year - and his career - in Bucharest this week. 
I...taly was powerless to stop the Russian Fed Cup team, loaded from top to bottom, from winning their third Fed Cup in four years. 
S...weden is the United States' semifinal opponent in the Davis Cup, but should the Americans win, and if favored Russia defeats Germany in the other semifinal, the U.S. will host the final in either Winston-Salem, NC or Portland, OR, according to the USTA.
W...rist pain will sideline Marat Safin for the remainder of the tennis season, but it will not stop him from ascending the 26,906 feet Cho Oyu mountain in Nepal.  Safin has joined a Russian expedition that will attempt the one-month long climb.
O...ut of action since the Fed Cup in mid-July, Amelie Mauresmo returns to the WTA Tour this week at the China Open in Beijing.
R...omanian wild cards made a splash in both the ATP and WTA tours this week.  At the BCR Open in Bucharest, hometown favorite Victor Hanescu made it all the way to the finals, while farther east in Bali, wild card Sorana Cirstea reached the semifinals of the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic.
L...awn Tennis Association has decided to not sell any grounds passes at Wimbledon for Great Britian's upcoming Davis Cup tie against Croatia.  Because of this, Henman Hill will be curiously vacant while Tim Henman plays his final career matches.
D...aniela Hantuchova and Lindsay Davenport were doubles teammates when the week began, but then withdrew from the competition due to their success in the singles bracket.  However, they wouldn't drift far apart, as they later met in the singles final.

McGrogan's Heroes

ATP - Roger Federer's tenth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open back in January seems like a while ago, but Fernando Gonzalez's finals appearance at the same event seems like an eternity ago.  Gonzalez, who played nearly flawless tennis in Melbourne, seemed to be turning a new leaf in his career.  "Gonzo" was labeled as a more patient player who actually tried to set up his lethal forehand instead of unleashing it on every point.  2007 was going to be a career year for Fernando, claimed the partisans.

Gonzo Since going Down Under, Gonzalez's play has followed suit, going downhill.  Aside from a finals appearance at the Rome Masters, Gonzalez hasn't impressed at many other tournaments, and his play has reverted back to its erratic roots.  Coming into last week's China Open, Fernando had lost five consecutive matches, which included defeats to lesser-knowns Zack Fleischman and Teimuraz Gabashvili.

But for at least one week, Gonzalez's year of lost opportunities was forgotten, as he won the China Open for his eighth career title.  It wasn't easy for Fernando, as he required the full three sets in four of the five matches he played, but Gonzalez navigated through a tough string of opponents, including Hyung-Taik Lee, Ivan Ljubicic, and Tommy Robredo.  It's an encouraging result for Gonzalez, and he'll need similar results in the fall to keep his high ATP ranking.  Last year, Gonzalez reached the finals in Vienna, Madrid, and Basel, and he'll need just as strong of a conclusion this year to have a chance at the year-end Tennis Masters Cup.

WTA - Every day this past week, I read about another Lindsay Davenport win, and with each passing day, I was even more amazed than the last.  In a most improbable fashion, Davenport won at Bali, the first tournament she entered since giving birth to her son.  Her last tournament appearance was almost a year ago to the day; as such, her expectations weren't set very high.  But Davenport suprised not only her fans, but herself with her performance.  "I certainly exceeded my expectations in how I'd play. I think a lot of it just had to do with being excited to be back out there and being fresh to play. But I would have never expected this to happen so soon, so I'm a little bit of shock."

Lindsay's first match back was not a cakewalk, the way it was when she entered events with a high seeding. Unranked this time, she played fifth-seeded Eleni Daniilidou, but had no trouble, breezing by her 6-2, 6-2.  Her strong play continued in the next round against American qualifier Juile Ditty, winning 6-1, 6-4.  Then came Jelena Jankovic.

This was the end of the road for Davenport - at least I thought so at the time.  I thought that her two wins would still made a strong case for the McGrogan's Hero award, and - wait - never mind, instead she clinched the award with her victory against the top-seeded Jankovic.  Winning 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, Davenport's amazing play put her in the semifinals, which she won in straight sets against Sara Errani.  Her finals opponent, second-seeded Daniela Hantuchova, posed another threat to the Cinderella story, but the shoe fit for Lindsay, as she won 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 to claim the Bali title.  There have been a number of remarkable women's stories this year - Serena at the Australian Open, Venus at Wimbledon, the emergence of the Serbian stars, and Justine Henin's dominant play.  Davenport's comeback tournament joins the list.

Next Week's Tournaments

Davis Cup (ATP - Various)

World Group Semifinals

- Russia vs. Germany

TV (Eastern Standard Time):

Friday: 5:00 am - 12:00 pm (TTC, Live)
Saturday: 7:00 - 10:30 am (TTC, Live)
Sunday: 5:00 am - 12:00 pm (TTC, Live)

- Sweden vs. United States

TV (Eastern Standard Time):

Friday:
12:00 - 6:00 pm (Versus, Live); 8:00 pm - 3:00 am (TTC, Delay)
Saturday: 12:00 - 3:00 pm (Versus, Live); 8:00 - 11:30 pm (TTC, Delay)
Sunday: 12:00 - 5:00 pm (Versus, Live); 8:00 pm - 3:00 am (TTC, Delay)

World Group Playoffs

- Israel vs. Chile
- Serbia vs. Australia
- Austria vs. Brazil
- Peru vs. Belarus
- Great Britain vs. Croatia
- Czech Republic vs. Switzerland
- Japan vs. Romania
- Slovak Republic vs. Korea Republic

Banka Koper Slovenia Open (WTA - Hard - Portoroz, Slovenia)

- Website
- Singles & Doubles Brackets

China Open (WTA - Hard - Beijing, China)

- Website
- Singles & Doubles Brackets

Sunfeast Open (WTA - Indoor Hard - Kolkata, India)

- Website
- Singles & Doubles Brackets

Beyond the Bracket

The focal point of this week's Davis Cup play will be on the two semifinal clashes, but there's no guarantee that the most memorable tennis will emanate from these prestigious ties.  The World Group Playoffs also have much to offer.  These eight do-or-die contests pit countries fighting to stay in the elite 16 that will comprise next year's World Group.  Tim Henman's farewell event,  a surely feisty clash between Novak Djokovic and Lleyton Hewitt, and of course, Roger Federer playing for his country highlight just some of these ties.

But the playoffs aren't just intriguing because of their surprising star power.  Israel hasn't made it to the World Group since 1994, and they'll try to beat Chile in hopes of finally getting back to the main stage.  The Korean Republic has had an even longer drought, as they have been stuck in qualifying since 1987.  A surging Hyung-Taik Lee will try to bring Korea to the Supreme Sixteen. The last time the KR made it into the  Big Dance, it's hopes were snuffed out by France, as  Tarik Benhabiles and Guy Forget trounced the Koreans 5-0.

And then there's Peru.  Even the most die-hard tennis fans would have difficulty naming someone on the Peruvian squad besides Luis Horna, and would find it just as hard to say when Peru last made the World Group.  That's because they've never been there.  In fact, Peru has only been in this 'win and you're in' situation twice before: in 1989, when they lost to Australia, and in 1994, losing to Denmark.  This year, they play Belarus, one of the weaker sides they could have drawn.  This is Peru's chance to shine, and the veteran Horna undoubtedly recognizes this.

Luis has been splendid this year in Davis Cup play, going 3-0 in ties against Venezuela and Mexico.   But countryman Ivan Miranda has done even better, going 4-0 in his matches (2-0 in singles and 2-0 in doubles).  Miranda has had good results in Futures tournaments this year, and has backed it up with great play in Davis Cup. 

One last note  on this tie: it will be played in Lima, and therefore, on red clay.  Max Mirnyi - who will probably figure into three of the rubbers - will be a thorn in the side of Peru, but the crowd and preferred surface will be critical in combating the beast.  Don't be surprised if one of the more emotional and momentous ties comes not from Europe, but from South America.  It could be the start of something beautiful for Peru - their first ever trip to the World Group.

- Ed McGrogan

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