Rafael Nadal beats Djokovic to win Queen’s Club title
Rafael Nadal rubber-stamped his grasscourt credentials by winning his first Queen’s Club trophy with a 7-6 7-5 victory over Serbia’s Novak Djokovic on Sunday. The top seed became the first Spanish man to win a title on green turf since Andres Gimeno walked away with the Eastbourne trophy in 1972.
With just over a week to go before Wimbledon begins on June 23, the victory will provide Nadal with a much needed boost as he aims to improve on his two runner-up finishes at the All England Club in 2006 and 2007. After recovering from a terrible start, when he trailed 0-3 in the opening set, Nadal rebounded in spectacular style and wrapped up victory with a thumping smash.
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It does not appear that Roger Federer is still thinking about his horrendous loss at Roland Garros.
The world No. 1, Federer claimed his fifth title at the Gerry Weber Open on Sunday with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over German Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Despite a disastrous showing against Rafael Nadal in the French Open final last Sunday in which he captured just four games, Federer proved to be on top of his game at this grasscourt tournament, not dropping a set in five matches en route to raising his record here to 25-0.
The Swiss star also extended his winning streak on grass to 59 matches dating to 2002. Federer will start his quest for his record sixth straight Wimbledon title in a little more than a week.
Facing Kohlschreiber for the second time in his career, Federer fired six aces and was successful on both of his two break chances en route to picking up the $182,000 first prize.
It was the second title of the year and 55th career for Federer.
Kohlschreiber, who lost to Federer in the quarterfinals here in 2005, dropped to 1-1 in finals this year.
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Nikolay Davydenko beats Robredo in Warsaw Open final
Top-seeded Nikolay Davydenko captured his third ATP Tour title of the year Sunday, beating second-seeded Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the Warsaw Open.
Davydenko, who also won the clay-court tournament in 2006, broke the defending champion three times in the first set, while giving up his serve once. He needed just one break in the second, saving five break points en route to the victory.
Davydenko, who conceded just one set on his way to the final, also won the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami and the Hypo Group International in Poertschach, Austria, this year. He also reached the final in Estoril, but retired with an injury against Roger Federer.
Robredo was trying to win his first ATP title since October 2007.
David Ferrer coasts into second round at Ordina Open
Top-seeded David Ferrer coasted into the second round at the Ordina Open on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-3 triumph over Jesse Huta Galung.
Ferrer, who is appearing in this $535,469 grasscourt event for the first time in his career, enters this Wimbledon tuneup after reaching the quarterfinals of the French Open. The Spaniard next will face either Massimo Dell’Acqua or Fabio Fognini, a pair of Italian players.
There are two other matches involving seeded players Sunday. No. 5 Igor Andreev takes on Grigor Dimitrov while No. 6 Mario Ancic - the champion here in 2005 and 2006 - faces Ivo Minar.
Also advancing Sunday were Rainer Schuettler and Steve Darcis.
The defending champion is fourth-seeded Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia.
Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and Novak Djokovic: Serbian stars rising Written by Ronald Atkin
There has been no more heart-warming, and newsworthy, story in tennis this year than the rise of the sport in Serbia, a troubled nation that has found welcome relief in the heroics of three players: Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.
Djokovic became the first Serb to win a Grand Slam singles title when he captured the 2008 Australian Open. Ivanovic followed this success with victory at Roland Garros to become Serbia’s first female singles champion.
The Serbian trio will be come in for extra attention, and expectation, at The Championships, especially following Ivanovic's success in Paris, where she got to the final by defeating Jankovic. Both women will be strongly favoured, a turn of events undreamed of a few years ago.
The difficult road to the top was made even harder for Jankovic and Ivanovic. The Balkans conflict took a heavy toll on Serbia and tennis facilities in the country were laughably pathetic.
Jankovic, 23, and Ivanovic, 20, both recall how their main practice facility was an abandoned swimming pool, where two courts had been laid side by side and where conditions were so cramped that chasing the ball sideways risked collision with a wall.
Despite, or possibly because of this, both have come through to the top of the women's game, matured by the severity of those early years.
Jankovic found help to base herself, at the age of 12, at the Bollettieri academy in Florida where she sat, homesick, watching on TV as her home city of Belgrade was bombed by Nato during the Kosovan conflict.
As the only athlete in a family of academics, Jankovic came close to giving up tennis in the spring of 2006 when she lost in the first round of nine out of ten tournaments.
She changed her mind after beating defending champion Venus Williams at Wimbledon, 2006. Since then she has collected many notable scalps while winning four titles in 2007, including Birmingham on grass and the Wimbledon mixed doubles title.
"Learning the hard way with facilities which are still not good is what has made us stronger," says Jankovic. "You learn better that way rather than when you have everything."
For Ivanovic, salvation from living through the bombing of Belgrade came in the form of a Swiss businessman, Dan Holzman, who heard of her youthful promise and organised her resettlement in Basle and an interest-free £250,000 loan — long since repaid — to help set up her career.
Holzman was in Paris to watch the progress of his investment as Ivanovic won her first Grand Slam final on her third attempt.
A year ago, Ivanovic had been consumed by nerves in the French Open final as Justine Henin thrashed her 6-1 6-2. The same happened at the 2007 Australian Open, where she finished runner-up to Maria Sharapova.
Ivanovic has admitted that on both occasions she had spent too much time thinking about the prospect of holding the trophy. At the third time of asking she got on with the job and beat Dinara Safina 6-4 6-3 in the 2008 French Open final.
This victory merely boosted the already sky-high popularity of the three players in their home country. They are delighted to be such positive representatives of Serbia and to have ignited a tennis boom there.
"For so many kids in Serbia now, carrying a tennis racket has become a fashion statement," Ivanovic says. "I am so happy to have helped make that happen."
Second seed Novak Djokovic cruised through to his first grass court final after crushing former Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinal on Saturday.
Djokovic, the reigning Australian Open champion, took just 48 minutes to overcome Nalbandian and set up a mouth-watering final with top seed Rafael Nadal.
“Having these kind of performances, these easy victories, is always good before the finals,” said Djokovic, who won 12 consecutive games in the semifinal. “Honestly, I wasn't expecting such an easy match. Knowing that Nalbandian has a lot of experience and he loves to play on this surface, he had quite a bit of success in the past years, he played the finals of Wimbledon and he managed to get here to the semifinals quite comfortably, you know, I was preparing for a tough match, tough encounter.
“But obviously I did everything that I needed to do. In the most important moments, I was playing great tennis.”
It will be third time Djokovic and Nadal have met in as many tournaments, with the Spaniard winning a classic three-set battle in the semifinals in Hamburg before repeating his victory at the same stage at the French Open just over a week ago. Nadal leads their head-to-head rivalry 8-3 overall, with the Serb’s last victory coming in the semifinals in Indian Wells in March.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Djokovic. “We played only one time on grass courts, last year Wimbledon. I was unfortunate to finish that way due to injury. But this time I feel much more comfortable on this surface, more experienced. I gained a lot of confidence, matured. Physically, I'm much better. So it can be very interesting match.
“The way he plays on grass, it's very impressive. He's improved a lot, especially on his serve. So he gained a bigger serve percentage, so he has this advantage a lot. And, of course, always he plays very well from the baseline, puts a lot of pressure on an opponent. He's making very few mistakes these days on grass courts, so this can be a trouble for me. I need to step it up and just be aggressive because it's much better playing him on the faster surfaces than on his favorite, clay.”
If Djokovic wins the title here, he will become the first man this year to win titles on three different surfaces having won on hard courts at the Australian Open and Indian Wells and on clay at the Masters Series event in Rome.
The final will be the first between the top two seeds here since Lleyton Hewitt defeated No. 2 Tim Henman in 2002.
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John Isner and Sam Querrey Connect to NYC from London
Rising American stars John Isner and Sam Querrey made contact with home during The Artois Championships on Monday, but not in the most conventional of ways.
Rather than making a call home like most overseas visitors, the ATP duo took advantage of a Mercedes-Benz, the Official Car of The Artois Championships, and headed into the heart of London to check out a tunnel linking the English capital with New York, a project that was started more than a century ago.
Isner and Querrey were able to interact with fans in New York and much to their surprise, a locker room attendant from the 2002 US Open was waiting for the two players, and scribbled down on a piece of paper for Isner, "Who beat you in the 2002 US Open Junior?"
Isner lost to Richard Gasquet, who is now ranked 10 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings and also competing at the Queen's Club this week.
"It's crazy, I'm not exactly sure how it works, but obviously it does some how," said Isner. "We saw a guy talking on the phone with a friend of his in New York so that was pretty neat. There was a locker room attendant from the 2002 Junior US Open and he was there asking me a question from when I played there and I remembered him from when I played it. It's insane, I'm not sure how it works, perhaps they should put some more of these structures up around the world."
Querrey echoed the sentiments of his American counterpart but also questioned the reality of the project.
He said: "I saw it on CNN about two weeks ago. It seems pretty cool, it looks a giant telescope and there is one here and New York, but I am not sure if its real or not, I think it might be a video camera, I mean with the curvature of the Earth and the direction of the tunnel, how can you be sure New York is in the direction the tunnel has it, so I am going to study up on it and find out more but it's a good idea, you can talk to your friends if you are in New York, so it's pretty cool."
The project is open 24 hours a day, and uses an extraordinary optical device called a Telectroscope, which allows people in both cities to see each other in real time. The visual art project is produced by Artichoke in partnership with Tiscali. For more information about the Telectroscope project, visit www.tiscali.co.uk
The two Americans will both be in action Tuesday, with Querrey taking on Frenchman Olivier Patience, while Isner takes on South African Kevin Anderson in a battle of the giants.
Roger Federer Extends Grass Court Streak, makes it to another final
World No. 1 Roger Federer improved his grass court winning streak to 58 consecutive matches with a 6-1, 6-4 semifinal victory over Nicolas Kiefer at the Gerry Weber Open on Saturday.
Federer improved to 11-3 lifetime against Kiefer with his ninth consecutive win over the German. Kiefer was the player to beat Federer in Halle in the semifinals six years ago. Since then, Federer has won 24 straight matches in Halle.
He will attempt to capture his fifth career title in Halle on Sunday against unseeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber (pictured), who defeated No. 2 seed James Blake 6-3, 7-5.
In their only previous meeting, Federer won 6-3, 6-4, in the quarterfinals of Halle three years ago. The Swiss No. 1 has won 31 consecutive matches against Germans since losing to Kiefer in the semifinals in Halle six years ago.
In Saturday's match, Federer broke in the second and sixth games to win the opening set in 22 minutes. He lost only seven points on serve. In the second set, Federer saved four break points in the sixth game and then broke in the ninth game before serving it out.
Federer goes into the final without losing serve this week, holding all 39 games. He will attempt to capture his 10th career title on grass in his 10th final. The last time Federer lost a match on grass came in the first round at Wimbledon to Mario Ancic in 2002.
"He’s not a top ten player, but he’s beaten good players on the way, Tommy, then James let’s say. So, nobody is to be underestimated," said Federer, who is 9-0 lifetime in grass court finals. "I’m happy to be back in another final. I’ve played quite a few finals lately. And it’s nice to be playing well right away on grass especially."
The 26-year-old superstar will also look to capture his 55th career title and second this season. He won Estoril (d. Davydenko) in April and reached three other finals in Monte Carlo, Hamburg and Roland Garros (losing to Nadal each time).
The 30-year-old Kiefer was playing in his first ATP semifinal of the season and the fourth time in Halle. The Sievershausen resident claimed the title in 1999 (d. Kulti) and was runner-up in 2002 (l. to Kafelnikov) and 2003 (l. to Federer).
Kohlschreiber defeated Blake in Halle for the second straight year after beating the American in the quarterfinals last season.
The 24-year-old German will be appearing in his second ATP final of the year and third in his career. In January, he earned his second ATP title in Auckland in January (d. Ferrero). Last year he collected his first ATP crown on clay in Munich (d. Youzhny).
Kohlschreiber will also attempt to become the first German to win the Halle title since David Prinosil in 2000 (d. Krajicek). The other German winners in the tournament's 16-year history are Michael Stich (1994) and Kiefer (1999).
In Saturday's win, Kohlschreiber broke in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and added another break in the ninth game to close out the opening set. In the second set, Kohlschreiber went up 3-1 but lost serve for the first time in the next game. Both players held the rest of the way until Kohlschreiber broke in the 12th game to secure the victory.
Kohlschreiber converted four of six break points while saving three of four on his serve in the one hour and 12 minute match. He also won 70% of second serve points compared to Blake's 45%.
"I think it’s great for a German player to play the final in a German tournament, especially if you have the number one in the tournament," said Kohlschreiber. "I think it’s a great final. I hope for me that I will play good tennis. I think it’s special to play in your country in front of the home crowd against the best player in the world. It’s a great honor for me."
"You can say he’s the best, the greatest. But I think every era has an end, also with Rafa on clay. He had much more wins on clay. Of course, he’s the favorite. He’s the big guy to beat. He’s very tough or maybe too tough. But I will go out, fight, do everything and hopefully I play good tennis. Maybe it’s enough or not."
Kohlschreiber has a 9-18 lifetime record against Top 10 players and he's never defeated two Top 10 opponents in the same tournament.
Top Two Seeds Davydenko, Robredo to Square Off in Final
Top seed Nikolay Davydenko defeated unseeded Italian Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-3, in the semifinals of the Orange Warsaw Open on Saturday.
The 27-year-old Russian advanced to his fourth ATP final of the season (2-1), his third on clay, and he will take on No. 2 seed and defending champ Tommy Robredo (pictured), who beat No. 3 Juan Monaco 6-4, 6-4, in Sunday's championship.
Davydenko is looking for his second title in Poland, having won two years ago when he defeating Florian Mayer in Sopot. The World No. 4 improved his match record to 40-10 in 2008, including 21-5 on clay. This is the fourth straight year he's won at least 40 matches.
Davydenko is 13-4 in his career in ATP finals with titles coming this year at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami (d. Nadal) and Poertschach (d. Monaco). He also was runner-up in Estoril (ret. vs. Federer with a leg injury).
In Saturday's first-time meeting with Fognini, Davydenko raced out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the first set in 34 minutes. He only lost five points on serve (17 of 22), two coming on double faults, while converting two of six break points.
In the second set, Fognini saved two break points in the opening game but was broken in the fifth game at 15-40, giving Davydenko a 3-2 lead. The Russian never faced break point in the set and closed out the one hour and 16-minute match by breaking in the final game.
Davydenko converted four of 12 break points while saving the lone break point he faced. He won 82% of first serve points on serve compared to Fognini's 52%.
Fognini, who upset No. 5 seed Guillermo Canas in the semifinals, was appearing in his second ATP semifinal of the season, having reached the semis in Costa do Sauipe in February. The 21-year-old Italian came in ranked No. 103 after reaching a career-high No. 71 on April 14. This was only the second Top 10 opponent he's faced in his career after losing to No. 1 Roger Federer at the Rogers Masters in Montreal last year.
Defending champion Robredo saved 10 of 11 break points in his 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 3 Juan Monaco in one hour and 30 minutes.
In the first set, Robredo broke in the fifth game but was broken back in the next game. He then broke again in the seventh game to take the lead and he never looked back. In the second set, Robredo accounted for the only break in the seventh game and went on to seal the victory. Monaco had a break point in the last game but couldn't convert.
The 26-year-old Spaniard advanced to his first ATP final of the year and the 13th of his career (6-6). His last ATP title came in Metz in October 2007 (d. Murray).
Robredo also improved his career tournament match record to 15-1, having captured the title in 2001 (d. Portas) and last year (d. Acasuso).
Alex Bogdanovic and Dan Cox both defeated top 100 players to reach the final qualifying round at The Slazenger Open in Nottingham (14th-21st June, City of Nottingham Tennis Centre).
Dan Cox overcame a rankings gap of over 800 places to beat second seed Thomaz Bellucci on the opening day at The Slazenger Open in Nottingham. The 17 year old took the first set against the world number 68. A close second set went the way of the Brazilian but a determined Cox broke in the ninth game of the third set and held his nerve to claim the biggest victory of his career in just under two hours.
Cox’s second opponent of the day was Andrew Coelho, a 21 year old from Melbourne with a world ranking of 292. Full of confidence after his superb victory earlier, Cox claimed a tight first set 7-5 and came from a break down to win the match on a tie break.
Speaking after his second match, Cox said: “I played some good tennis today, especially in the first match. It was the biggest win of my career so far so I’m really pleased. When I woke up this morning I didn’t think that I’d be in the position I’m in now but it just shows that you can’t predict results.”
Next up for Cox is Kei Nishikori, ranked 113 in the world and the seventh seed in qualifying.
Alex Bogdanovic is also through to the final round of qualifying at The Slazenger Open after a straight sets victory over world number 78 Igor Kunitysn. It was the second match the British number two played having beaten Brazilian Bruno Soares earlier in the afternoon.
Bogdanovic got off to a dream start in Nottingham taking the first set against Soares 6-0 before the Brazilian fought back in the second set to level the match. Some consistent serving and the trademark single handed backhand help Bogdanovic to a 6-0 4-6 6-3 victory.
Bogdanovic then faced third seed Kunitsyn in round two. The left hander took just one hour ten minutes to dispose of the 26 year old Russian to set up a match against Alejandro Falla, a Columbian ranked 101 in the world.
Bogdanovic was satisfied with his performance, only his second grass court singles match of the season. “I played well today. I’ve beaten some good players this year and now I just need to start playing at this level on a regular basis. I’m looking forward to the match tomorrow- I want to get as many matches as possible on grass before Wimbledon so today has been great.”
Dan Evans had a close match against fourth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Although the 17 year old from Birmingham was able to claim the first set, it was the Spaniard who ran out the winner 3-6 6-3 6-4.
Top seed Janko Tipsarevic had a straight forward victory over Sanchai Ratiwatana in his first match of the day in Nottingham but was unable to overcome the challenge of Australian Samuel Groth, losing 7-6 6-4.
Tickets are currently on sale for The Slazenger Open which offers sports fans a fantastic opportunity to watch some world class tennis. Ticket information is available from the box office on 0871 945 3000. The qualifying for this year’s event starts on Saturday 14th June with the main draw beginning on Monday 16th June.