Tiebreakers are terminal heartbreakers for Igor Sijsling.
Jiri Vesely's 7-6 (2), 6-3 victory over the No. 8 seed in Dusseldorf today dropped the Dutchman's record to 1-11 in tiebreakers this season, including a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1) loss to Vesely in Indian Wells in March.
Sijsling has become a tennis Sisyphus, pushing matches to the very edge of victory only to see the rock roll right back down on him. Five of his 16 losses this year have come in decisive-set tiebreakers, and in all five matches he won the opening set. If you'd experienced the torment of stress tests Sijsling's endured, you'd probably feel palpitations and dizziness at the sight of 6-6 lighting up a scoreboard.
Sijsling suffered three successive 7-6 in-the third losses at Masters events: At Indian Wells, Miami (to No. 43 Edouard Roger-Vasselin) and Monte Carlo (to No. 48 Jeremy Chardy). A year ago, Sijsling lost three matches in decisive tiebreakers, including to Marin Cilic in Memphis (9-7 in the breaker) and a stinging 7-6 (3), 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5) setback to Michael Russell in the Newport quarterfinals despite out-acing the American veteran 15 to 0.
A perplexing part of Sijsling's futility is the fact he owns a very solid first serve. He’s won 75 percent of his first-serve points this year, better than both Rafael Nadal (71 percent) and Andy Murray (73 percent), and has held in 80 percent of his service games, more than Roland Garros runner-up David Ferrer and Wimbledon semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz.
John Isner's .646 career winning percentage in tiebreakers is a testament to both his imposing serve and comfort level in playing so many pressure sessions. Big servers may seem to have more pull in the tiebreaker tug of war—Pete Sampras (.637 winning percentage) and Andy Roddick (.622) were both excellent in them—but the biggest servers are not always the best tiebreak players. The world's fastest server, Ivo Karlovic, owns a .507 career winning percentage in tiebreakers, while Novak Djokovic, arguably the world's best returner, boasts a .642 career percentage. Nadal isn’t far behind at .632.
One for the Ages
The oldest and youngest women in the Strasbourg main draw posted wins today.
Casey Dellacqua, 29, knocked off No. 5 seed Elena Vesnina, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, while 19-year-old American Madison Keys beat Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, who has gone 1-4 since winning her first career WTA title at Marrakech.
Time flies. Dellacqua began the day as the oldest woman in the main draw, but before it was over she was eclipsed by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. The 32-year-old Croatian was a 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-5 victor over top-seeded Zheng Jie in the final round of qualifying. Both former Wimbledon semifinalists, Zheng reached the 2008 final four; Lucic-Baroni beat Monica Seles en route to the 1999 Wimbledon semifinals, and pushed Steffi Graf to three sets before bowing out. Lucic-Baroni will play No. 6 seed Bojana Jovanovski in the first round.
Mixed Melzer Arts