Roger Federer again reclaimed the #1 ranking by virtue of his title in Stuttgart that came 6-4 7-6 in the final against a resurgent Milos Raonic. Federer had some tough matches to open his grass court season in Germany, but he got past Mischa Zverev in 3, Guido Pella in straights, and Nick Kyrgios in a tight third set tiebreak earlier in the week, along with the Raonic victory.
Raonic had his best run of the year defeating Mirza Basic, Marton Fucsovics, Tomas Berdych, and Lucas Pouille without dropping a set or having his serve threatened en route to the final.
Germany’s Petzschner and Puetz defeat Lindstedt/Matkowski in the Mercedes Cup doubles final.
31 year old Richard Gasquet defeated his fellow over 30 French countryman Jeremy Chardy to win the Libema Open title in the Netherlands on grass. Gasquet claimed his first championship of the season 6-3 7-6 after previously winning matches against Evgeny Donskoy, Stefanos Tsitsipas and surprise semifinalist Bernard Tomic to reach the final.
Chardy moved to 9-1 on grass this season after defeating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Adrian Mannarino, Mackenzie McDonald and Matt Ebden to reach the final, he could be a dark horse at Wimbledon.
Inglot/Skugor defeated Klaasen/Venus in the doubles final.
Roger Federer Returns at the Mercedes Cup 2018 in Stuttgart Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The Mercedes Cup ATP 250 in Stuttgart is where Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios, Milos Raonic and other accomplished grass courters will start their 2018 Wimbledon preparations. Here is a look at the German grass court stop.
Roger Federer will begin his return to the ATP tour against a veteran no matter what. Mischa Zverev is his likely opponent (rather than qualifier Mikhail Youzhny). Federer should be tested more by Denis Shapovalov or John Millman in the quarters though. I’ll back Shapovalov to defeat Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Millman (or Guido Pella) to reach that quarters. At that stage though I don’t see him beating the legendary Fed on grass.
Nick Kyrgios vs. Feliciano Lopez looks like a great quarterfinal contest. Kyrgios will need to find form and defeat Max Marterer or Viktor Galovic while Lopez has to defeat fellow veteran Viktor Troicki, followed by Gilles Simon/Matteo Viola. On grass Lopez should be up to scratch though, I’ll back him to reach the semis and upset Kyrgios in the process.
Lucas Pouille is in awful form this year but he should still defeat Rudolf Molleker/J.L. Struff as he aims to turn his season around. Philipp Kohlschreiber at home is the danger player here though. Peppo opens with Denis Istomin and I’ll back him over Florian Mayer or Yannick Maden in round 2. Kohlschreiber over Pouille at home in Germany seems like a sensible pick.
Milos Raonic will take on Mirza Basic in round 1, Marton Fucsovics or Denis Kudla in round 2 will be far trickier. That said, Raonic is the most accomplished player in this section and I’ll back him into the quarters against Tomas Berdych. Berdych has to find form and defeat Taylor Fritz and Benoit Paire in round 2. Raonic should win the section.
Pouille and Muller Claim Second ATP Titles of the Season Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
A great comeback for Frenchman Lucas Pouille secured his second ATP title of the season, the first final of the 2017 grass court season was decided 4-6 7-6 6-4, as Pouille was pushed to the limit in the second set tiebreak, and after taking that, battled hard in the third to break Lopez’s effective grass court serve and volley and hold his own serve to secure the title. Pouille barely got out of his opening match, winning close second and third set tiebreaks and saving a match point to defeat J.L. Struff, he went on to defeat Philipp Kohlschreiber and Benoit Paire in close matches, showing his mental toughness this week.
Lopez chip and charge helped him reach his first tour final of the season, the Spaniard, happy to be on grass, got past Gilles Simon, Jeremy Chardy, Tomas Berdych, and Mischa Zverev, all of those matches going three sets except for his contest against Simon as the Mercedes Cup featured a lot of close matches this week.
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares defeated Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic to take the doubles title.
34 year old Gilles Muller continued his best season on tour, winning a second title this year 7-6 7-6 in narrow fashion over fellow big server Ivo Karlovic at the Ricoh Open. Muller won tiebreaks this week against Andreas Seppi and Alexander Zverev, also winning in three sets against Aljaz Bedene to reach the final as his serve and volley game was lethal on grass.
Karlovic, 38, reached his first final this season, the veteran upset Marin Cilic in three sets in the semifinals, Daniil Medvedev and Stefan Kozlov were his other victims on the week, as both players will be difficult early round opponents at Wimbledon.
Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo continued the trend of veteran success in Rosmalen as they defeated Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram.
2017 ATP Stuttgart and Rosmalen Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2017 ATP grass court season starts this week with two European tour stops that are on the 250 level of the tour. Clay season is over, so get ready for fast paced action on the green grass of Stuttgart and Den Bosch.
ATP World Tour 250
June 12-18, 2017
Prize Money: €630,785
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Roger Federer (5)
2: Grigor Dimitrov (12)
3: Tomas Berdych (14)
4: Lucas Pouille (16)
Stuttgart has a great field this week, highlighted by one of the best grass court players of all time, Roger Federer, along with a core group of solid tour players for a 250.
First round matchups to watch:
Pierre-Hugues Herbert vs. (WC)Tommy Haas
A battle between solid grass court players, the 39 year old Haas has lost more than a step, but he’s a very crafty player at his age, and will give the big server Herbert plenty of trouble. Herbert has not been able to consistently compete at the tour level in singles, and Haas should get the win in his German homeland.
Florian Mayer vs. Jeremy Chardy
The unorthodox shotmaking of Mayer is a good fit for grass, and he’s the favorite in Germany against the higher ranked Chardy, who hits the ball hard and plays aggressively, but often racks up a high error count in the process. Mayer should find form and notch the win.
(7)Gilles Simon vs. Feliciano Lopez
Lopez has won both meetings these veterans have played on grass, Simon is in poor form, and Lopez, happy to be off of the slow, high bouncing clay, should be able to whip his serve in and advance forward enough to get the win and reach round 2.
Marcos Baghdatis vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber
Baghdatis has been in terrible form and hasn’t won a match since January, but he’s been good on grass against the German, who for his part has lost three straight matches and isn’t in the best form himself. Baghdatis badly needs this win, but in Germany, Kohlschreiber is a sensible favorite.
Roger Federer, the heavy favorite this tournament, will open his bid against the Haas/Herbert winner, look for Roger to tune up and get the win, before doing the same against serve and volleyer Mischa Zverev, who is happy to be off of clay, and should beat Malek Jaziri and either Yannick Hanfmann or Marton Fucsovics in round 2.
Tomas Berdych and Feliciano Lopez should contest the other quarterfinal in the top half, Lopez will face Mayer/Chardy in round 2, and should be the favorite in that match, if he defeats Simon. Berdych will get a dangerous contest against Bernard Tomic for his first match, presuming Tomic puts away the ageless Stephane Robert. Given Tomic’s awful form (four straight defeats), Berdych should make it to the quarters, where I have him knocking off Lopez to reach the semis. Berdych and Lopez have split the h2h 6-6.
Grigor Dimitrov will face Andrey Kuznetsov or Jerzy Janowicz in round 2, Janowicz is far removed from his success on grass, although he still has plenty of power. Kuznetsov has had a good season, but Dimitrov is a favorite in this section for a reason, having found a bit of form at Roland Garros. Viktor Troicki should beat Benoit Paire and Nikoloz Basilashvili/Peter Gojowczyk to reach the quarters. Dimitrov will be the favorite whether it’s Troicki or someone else in the quarters.
Lucas Pouille begins his tournament against either Jan-Lennard Struff or Lukas Lacko. Pouille isn’t perfect on grass by any measure but he should be good enough to reach the quarters before falling to Steve Johnson. The in-form American Johnson faces Max Marterer first up, then the Kohlschreiber/Baghdatis winner, a difficult but winnable path. Johnson’s game is built for fast surfaces.
Dark Horse: Feliciano Lopez
The unseeded Spaniard has every shot to at least make the quarters, and will have a punchers chance against Berdych. Federer is probably too much in the semis, but after a rough few months, Lopez could be back in winning form on grass.
Semis Federer d. Berdych
Dimitrov d. Johnson
Final Federer d. Dimitrov
Nothing suggests Federer will not win in Stuttgart, he should be fresh and focused, while Dimitrov looks to be solid enough to make the final with his all-court game.
ATP World Tour 250
S-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
June 12-18, 2017
Prize Money: €589,185
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Marin Cilic (7)
2: Alexander Zverev (10)
3: Ivo Karlovic (24)
4: Gilles Muller (28)
First round matchups to watch:
Yuichi Sugita vs. Janko Tipsarevic
Sugita has found form this year and just won a challenger on grass. Tipsarevic is a steady veteran who has a h2h win this matchup, but has yet to return to his tour level form. Fatigue may be an issue for Sugita, but it’s sensible that he’d be able to defeat Tipsarevic on grass.
(5)Steve Darcis vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov
Two shotmaking specialists, Dolgo has a only won one out of three meetings against the Belgian veteran, but he’s still the favorite in this match. The serve and volleyer Darcis is my pick though, he’s had a great season and that should continue on grass.
Dustin Brown vs. (WC)Stefan Kozlov
Brown is a dangerous serve and volleyer and should teach the young Kozlov a thing or two on grass. Kozlov has the game to compete on this surface but he still has plenty to learn, and Brown should have too crisp of a performance to suffer a defeat in this one.
Mikhail Youzhny vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis
The veteran Youzhny has a great history on grass, but at 34 his game has declined from its peak by a large margin. Kokkinakis is just getting his feet wet on tour after injury, he’s immensely talented but Youzhny should find a way to scrape through for a much needed win to further enhance his grass court record.
Jordan Thompson vs. Adrian Mannarino
Another battle between players who enjoy grass court tennis, Thompson comes off of a challenger final on the surface, and although Mannarino should challenge him, look for Thompson’s fast developing game to show out and get the win.
Marin Cilic is in good form after reaching the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and should beat the Sugita/Tipsarevic winner, and then Darcis/Dolgopolov in the quarterfinals. Cilic didn’t drop a set in his Paris victories and looks setup to continue that trend on grass. The Darcis/Dolgopolov winner will face Vasek Pospisil or local wild card Tallon Griekspoor in round 2.
Ivo Karlovic‘s serve is a threat on grass, and he should defeat Brown/Kozlov, before facing Youzhny in the quarters. Youzhny faces Robin Haase or Daniil Medvedev in round 2 and has a winnable path to the quarters, although Haase is a competitive opponent. Karlovic should be solid enough to reach the semis on this surface.
11-6 in his career on grass, Alexander Zverev is a contender for this title, after breaking through on tour this season with a 27-10 record on the year. Zverev struggled at Roland Garros, but moving to grass may bring a refreshing change for him. Zverev should defeat Thompson/Mannarino to reach the quarters, Nicolas Mahut has won three Den Bosch titles and should defeat him there. Mahut opens with Dennis Novikov and then faces Rendy Lu/Evgeny Donskoy. Look for Mahut to show off his talents and reach at least the semifinals.
Gilles Muller also looks set for success, he’s had a great season and grass is perhaps his best surface. Muller should defeat Andreas Seppi/Tatsuma Ito, and then either Aljaz Bedene or Denis Istomin in the quarters. Rising young gun Hyeon Chung and improving American Ernesto Escobedo are also here in this section, and Chung could rise up and secure it. I have it Muller over Bedene, two players who have had good seasons, in the quarterfinals.
Dark Horse: Mikhail Youzhny
There are plenty of seeds with a shot at this title, but don’t count out Youzhny. The veteran still has enough game to find form for a week and take a title. In the very least, he should make the quarterfinals, with a good chance at beating Karlovic.
Semis Cilic d. Karlovic
Muller d. Mahut
Final Cilic d. Muller
Cilic should be the clear favorite to take the title this week. I’ll back Muller’s form over all of his opponents to make the final, and he could take the title as well.
2016 ATP Grass Court Season Recap: Murray and Thiem Soar Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The last four ATP grass court tournaments after the French Open featured most of the top players looking to get practice before Wimbledon, and a host of players making strong runs. Many of these players will likely find themselves wishing their was more grass court tennis after Wimbledon, while others are already ready for hard court action.
Austrian superstar Dominic Thiem has moved into the top 8 after his fourth title of the season was won in Stuttgart at the Mercedes Cup. Thiem has won titles on all of the surfaces (hard court, clay, and grass) already this season and has clearly demonstrated his all-court prowess. Thiem beat Sam Groth, Mikhail Youzhny, and grass court legend Roger Federer, before toppling Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in the final. Only against Groth did Thiem not drop a set, but he showed great fight to prevail in his matches. Kohlschreiber had defeated Thiem earlier this season in a clay final, so the Austrian got his revenge.
The German defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Denis Kudla, Radek Stepanek, and Juan Martin Del Potro to reach the final. Del Potro showed great form as he continues his return from serious wrist injuries.
Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak defeated Fabrice Martin and Oliver Marach in the doubles final.
ATP ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch)
Nicolas Mahut won a second consecutive, and a third overall Den Bosch title as he defeated fellow big server Gilles Muller in the final. Mahut defeated Lukas Lacko, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Bernard Tomic, and Sam Querrey en route to the final, surviving in three sets against all but Lacko and Muller. The Frenchman clearly enjoys playing in Holland.
Muller contested his second career ATP final as he defeated Robin Haase, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, David Ferrer, and Ivo Karlovic to get that far. Both Ferrer and Tomic disappointing. At 33 he’s still looking for an elusive first ATP title.
Mate Pavic and Michael Venus defeated Dominic Inglot and Raven Klaasen in the doubles final as New Zealanders won both doubles titles on offer last week.
Florian Mayer stunningly captured his first title since 2011 as the oft-injured German will return to the top 100. Mayer defeated countryman Alexander Zverev in the final, the passionate Zverev simply didn’t have consistency to prevail in the third set. Mayer with his funky game has seen a resurgence in his tennis on grass this season. The 32 year old defeated Brian Baker, got a walkover against Kei Nishikori, and then defeated Andreas Seppi, and the in-form Dominic Thiem to reach the final.
The 19 year old Zverev dropped his second career ATP final after posting wins over Viktor Troicki, Benjamin Becker, Marcos Baghdatis, and most surprisingly, Roger Federer in three sets. Federer will now enter Wimbledon without a grass court title, though he entered two events. The Swiss legend hasn’t won an ATP title this season.
Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram defeated Alexander Peya and Lukasz Kubot in the doubles final.
Andy Murray was a set and a break down against Milos Raonic before he fought back to capture a fifth career London Queen’s title. Murray defeated Nicolas Mahut, Aljaz Bedene, Kyle Edmund, and Marin Cilic, as he dropped sets against Edmund and Cilic, along with Raonic. Murray has been in tremendous form as he moved to 33-6 on the season with two ATP titles. Murray hasn’t lost a match before the final since Monte Carlo.
Raonic defeated Nick Kyrgios, Jiri Vesely, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Bernard Tomic to reach his third ATP final of the season. The Canadian has established himself as a possible Wimbledon dark horse.
Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert defeated Chris Guccione and Andre Sa in the doubles final as they will perhaps be the Wimbledon men’s doubles favorites given their prowess on grass and great success this season as a team.
Stuttgart Loves 2015 Champion Rafael Nadal and Nadal Loves The Mercedes Cup Andreas Thiele, Tennis Atlantic
Nadal wins on grass (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
The last two days here in Stuttgart were very sunny and without any problems. At this weekend three matches were played, two Semi-finals on Saturday and the final on Sunday. As you already know, Rafael Nadal could gained the fourth grass title of his career and managed to defeat the Serb Viktor Troicki in two sets, concluding a week of intense matches for Rafa. Troicki performed very well in the first set against Cilic on Saturday, but – in short – his game wasn’t a similar threat to Nadal’s precise game. Nadal defeated Troicki 7-6(3), 6-3.
Semifinals: Nadal d. Monfils in 2, Troicki d. Cilic in 3
Gael Monfils didn’t perform up to a level needed to beat Rafael Nadal who has improved his forehand a lot. Monfils served better than on Friday when he faced Philipp Kohlschreiber, but his many unforced errors during rallies prevented him from troubling Rafa. Besides Nadal’s first service game, Monfils didn’t face any break point and he blew his chances then due to wrong shot selection. Nadal served very well and approached to the net successfully, though he had some forehand unforced errors Uncle Toni was critical of in the stands. It seemed the Frenchman was slightly cramping from his thighs, as his movements got even worse than the day before and Nadal could hold his serve easily with Serve-and-Volley after he avoided the break. Monfils made it too easy for Nadal who dictated the match without any pressure. Nadal improved his returns a lot and could read Gael’s serve with ease, breaking him in the middle of the set as Monfils double faulted when serving against the break. Monfils knowing Nadal was dialed in on his second serve, overcranked himself on first serves. Nadal didn’t have any problems to hold his serves then, though Monfils displayed some great shots and forehands.
Monfils looked deflated (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
In the second set Monfils kept having problems holding his service, though he served 11 aces. Nadal returned too well and Monfils had problems staying focused on the match, put on a show and tried to hit many hot shots which didn’t get in. The crowd was delighted, but it didn’t help his game, he even laughed a lot and didn’t appear to be taking things too seriously. Monfils tried to strike at Nadal’s topspin on grass, the problem is you do a lot of UEs if you don’t move well enough to get every ball. Nadal didn’t have many problems dictating the rallies, predicted Monfils’ shots in the right spots and could let him move a lot. The very charismatic person – that’s how Nadal described Monfils – lacked the get up, did some great shots, but a double fault and a very silly backhand smash which went right into the net sealed Nadal’s break and just like in the first set he didn’t have problems to hold his last service game to win in a surprisingly short match 6-3, 6-4.
Nadal’s forehand worked very well a lot of times, but failed at crucial moments too. Nevertheless his forehand improved a lot compared with the first practice sessions when almost all his forehands reached the net or were far and few between out. His service which has a slice kick, since it ‘skirts’ the returner was lethal this tournament. Nadal reached a grass court final for the first time since Wimbledon 2011 (l. to Djokovic).
Viktor Troicki played fantastically in the first set against Marin Cilic. The Croat didn’t seem to be fit, even at practice he looked very troubled and unhappy with himself. Marin lost his first service game and had a rusty start to the match as he couldn’t put his plan into action to attack with his forehand. He committed too many unforced errors at the beginning of the match and didn’t have the depth in his shots to let Troicki on the baseline, Viktor could move forward often and approach to the net. He played an all-round solid first set and struggled in just one service game. Cilic had a chance at four break points but he couldn’t convert due to good serves and good shot selection, aside from that Cilic didn’t have the power in his shots to force errors. Nonetheless the Serb returned very well and the Croat had issues during his service games: Troicki had even set points on Cilic’s serve. Troicki’s groundies were good and he often varied, so Troicki had the rhythm to break Cilic.
Troicki (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
In the second set Marin had issues and had to take the medical timeout, Troicki lost his rhythm to win the match in two sets. Both had more problems with their serves and long rallies took place in the second. Cilic started to return better as time went by and his shots had the depth they had previously lacked. Troicki found his keys to success again and returned very well at later stage of the set, many returns landed on the line. Cilic faced pressure, but many serve winners kept him in the match. Troicki also matching him with big serves, so the second set had to be decided in a breaker. Troicki didn’t have any chance in the breaker and Cilic redlined his game. Troicki by contrast committed unforced errors in crunchtime and wasn’t clutch enough.
In the third set Cilic had Troicki behind him as he won the rallies, returning well, and broke Troicki, but thanks to a pair of poor backhand errors, he failed to keep the break in hand and the te match was even again. Troicki saved himself after a very long service game, with three break points gone for Cilic. The breaker had to decide a set yet again, and therefore the whole match. Contrary to the second set tiebreak Cilic committed many unforced errors, above all with his forehand. He was more nervous than Troicki, perhaps feeling the pain of losing break point chances in the third set. Troicki took advantage of the situation, and served the match out 6-3, 6-7(1), 7-6(2). Vik achieved his first grass final ever and his second ATP final in 2015 (Sydney).
The crowd applauded Troicki (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Final: Nadal d. Troicki in 2
Before the match it was clear Nadal was the favorite. At his press conference he didn’t want to put himself under pressure and was even more relaxed than probably the tournament director and journalists were at his day before the final. Sweltering heat featured on the final day in Stuttgart and these were probably the best conditions for Rafael Nadal, a player of great stamina. It was a sell out like the past three days and this year’s tournament goes down in the history as one of the most successful ones ever for the Mercedes Cup. Both players,vying for a coveted Mercedes car, got a big cheer after their entry to the stadium, Nadal of course the fan favorite, but both looking comfortable playing in Germany.
Troicki served first and got off to a strong start. The Spaniard returned well in the beginning but wasn’t given time to rip his groundies.Troicki began with solid baseline game and good shots to keep the ball in play. Nadal committed the unforced errors at the beginning, and especially in his service game. A wrong shot selection, some tricky misses and a very good return granted Troicki the first break point. Nadal could save his serve with backhands crosscourt, and a great forehand down-the-line passing winner to get his game point and convert it with an ace. Troicki seemed unfazed and served again like he did at the beginning. He made the better start as he served better than the Spaniard and had more free points. Nadal won his service games after very long and exhausting rallies, exhausting particularly for Troicki. Nadal’s forehand down-the-line wasn’t as effective as usual, and Troicki began even to win the longer rallies. As time went by, Nadal could feel more comfortable with his forehand. He began to touch the lines with depth, and got more offensive in his service games, winning them without effort. Both served very well in the first set, but couldn’t hold a good level in returning. They won the service games more or less smoothly, apart from Nadal’s first one, and still needed time to adjust to the others game. Suddenly Nadal served two double faults serving at *3-4 and but managed to win the game then with huge services.
Troicki started strong (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Troicki was the one winning routine service games at this point, Nadal couldn’t return as well as he did against Monfils the day before. Whereas Vik sometimes returned great. and posed problems for Nadal. The Spaniard still held his service games and the breaker had to decide the first set. Though Troicki played a bit better and was leading in the most aspects, the Spaniard, known for clutch play, rose to the occasion. He won the first point Troicki served and extended his lead winning two more mini-breaks. The second time Troicki lost his serve was because of a double fault and he gifted his third point on serve due to a forehand unforced error. Troicki, who had a great shot selection before the breaker, began to fail too often at the important points and Nadal took the first set. as Troicki began to fold after he lost the first three points.
Nadal started again to serve very well in the second set and moved well on and behind the baseline. He anticipated more and more Troicki’s shots which slowly became powerless, and had the perfect answers to Troicki’s tests. Though Nadal’s forehand wasn’t at its classic best, his baseline game was enough for Troicki, who had many problems when forced to hit on the run. The Serb too often missed the sweet spot of his shots and was not in the zone, his shots also started to lack depth but Rafa still missed his chances to break Viktor. As Vik, how friends and players call him, served for the second time in this set, I heard Nadal’s uncle Toni Nadal, who was right behind him in the stands at this moment, shout very briefly in a very cryptic Spanish: “Play point to point”. Nadal began to play very aggressively, passed Troicki with his backhand and started to return sharply. A double fault vanished a good run of two won points. Toni Nadal must have realized his nephew was a bit too nervous, always thinking in games and his uncle tried to remind him what they talked about earlier in a subtle way.
Rafa was clutch on serve (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Troicki felt the pressure as Rafa raised his level and finally lost his service. His poor second service was the result of a failed first one which was a very close call. Troickiwas confused a bit as Lahyani already started to say ‘Let…’, but the linesman called it out and Nadal just nodded. Troicki didn’t challenge and his second serve wasn’t threatening enough, a forehand UE clinched the break. This exchange shows how important the mental side of the game is in tennis, and Troicki failed a crucial test. It was the only break point in the third set and thus perhaps the most important point of the match. After getting broken Troicki faded and Nadal servbotted his way to holds without worrying about securing a double break.
As I sat in the first row, it seemed to me Nadal was a bit fraught, his uncle tried to motivate him and keep the pressure on but after a great serve-and-volley to have two match points, Troicki pushed one final time. Long rallies and some great winners happened, at deuce Nadal played a very harmless volley at the net and Troicki responded with a backhand into the net. He yelled and was off the wall, the Spaniard gained the control again to close the match with a smash winner. A very good match which had its highs and lows, but more highs and the deserved winner was Rafael Nadal 7-6 6-3.
Nadal adds sorely needed ranking points as he had slipped down in the rankings, nearly outside the top 10, while Troicki moves up to 25.
Many Rafa-fans have shown up in Stuttgart and he didn’t disappoint the fans! He took his time, gave many autographs and took a lot of photographs with spectators and supporters. Even the press conferences were always relaxed as he gave detailed answers. Congratulations, Rafael Nadal, on your third Mercedes Cup (he won it twice on clay). Stuttgart showed great appreciation and love for their champion.
Rafa was great with fans! (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
It should also be noted that Florin Mergea and Rohan Bopanna won their second ATP title of the season in doubles over Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares.
Bopanna and Mergea won the dubs (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Monfils, Cilic reach semis @Mercedescup ATP Stuttgart 2015 Friday Andreas Thiele for Tennis Atlantic
Nadal advances to the semis (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Seventh day of this year’s ATP Stuttgart and it was at the beginning a very hot day. Later on it got very cloudy and bad weather arrived in Stuttgart. It rained at about one hour and the match between Groth and Troicki had to be moved to the Mercedes Court which is not televised. The rain delay didn’t change anything as just three matches were played. Before those two matches Nadal played against Tomic in the Center Court and won deservedly in three sets.
Gael Monfils had the right keys to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber who was not looking sharp against Frenchman. Monfils broke in the first game, only to get broken back. Monfils broke his serve again at five all, as Monfils changed his return position. His balls were really long and sliced and Kohlschreiber’s slices went many times today into net. He also couldn’t bring the power to extort Monfils during rallies. Monfils anticipated very well and could read Kohli’s weak serves. Monfils served out the set out after his break, the rhythm of Le Monf bothering Kohli. In the second set Kohlschreiber served well again and Monfils let the German’s service games slide. Monfils couldn’t find his focus anymore and started to commit many unforced errors. Kohlschreiber benefited from these and could break very early in the second set with some beautiful forehand winners. Monfils shots became short and Kohli consolidated the break.
Monfils couldn’t gain a foothold anymore in this set and Kohlschreiber stayed focused to not lose his serve. Monfils had three break points again as the Bavarian served for the set. The Frenchman lost these break points just a bit too easily, played too risky and had the wrong shot selection. For example: At set point he played an unnecessary and failed half volley, though he was almost at the net. Over and above his down-the-line shots didn’t reach the lines they used to. He wasn’t moving well the whole second and the beginning of the third set.
Le Monf (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
He slipped many times, hurt himself and Kohlschreiber couldn’t level up his return game, when Monfils had signs of almost giving up the match. After the first three games in the deciding set Monfils had to take a medical time out, Kohlschreiber lost his rhythm due to this. Monfils was passive during this service game and just waited for the unforced errors the German many times committed. With the break in the bag Monfils served the match out, without any problems. Kohlschreiber’s backhand slice doesn’t work with Monfils who loves to return them with the power and strength he has. Monfils defeats Kohlschreiber 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.
Monfils’ next opponent Rafael Nadal had problems too in the second set. He could have easily closed the match out in two, but he fiailed to pressure Bernard Tomic, who moved poorly today, on serve. In the first set, Tomic had few chances to break as Nadal was strong on both wings. Though the Australian hit some jaw dropping winners, he didn’t have the consistency to put pressure on Nadal, who swung freely. In the second set Tomic started poorly with an opening game break. Tomic appeared to be behind the ball timing was and lacked aggression. Nadal moved better, hit some great returns. Most of all Nadal served unbelievably with 14 aces and many more nonreturnable serves. Still, Nadal got immediately re-broken, as he was too inattentive for a few seconds and Tomic didn’t waste his opportunities to hit the winners for the break. Though he was in the match again, he had more problems holding his serve than Nadal.
Rafa on the trot (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Tomic didn’t change anything to make the match more exciting at this point, just hoped to not get broken. The second set would go to an eventual tiebreak with ease. As the breaker started, bad weather approached and it got very cloudy, you couldn’t see the sun anymore. Leading with a mini-break Nadal kept the balls longer in play to attack Tomic’s groundstroke flaws, but after another long rally Tomic hit this unbelievable forehand down-the-line winner as Nadal was at the net to get the mini-break back. Both serving very well until 6 all Tomic hit another unreturnable serve to get his first set point. Nadal felt the pressure he was in at this point, double faulting to gift Tommic the set. In the third set Nadal established his serve and the in Stuttgart born Australian still had his flaws during the rallies. Nadal played his forehand down-the-line winner to get the break point, he converted with a good forehand, and Tomic just committed another backhand UE. The Spaniard served it then out and didn’t have any problems holding his serves, Tomic lost 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-3.
After Nadal’s match it suddenly began to rain, so we had a rain delay of about an hour. Organizers realized they couldn’t play two matches on the Centre Court, so they moved the match between Viktor Troicki and Sam Groth It was a competitive match, with Troicki finding success attacking Groth’s backhand. Both played a fantastic Serve and Volley and both faced two break points they couldn’t convert due to strong serving by their rivals. Troicki stood more behind the baseline than Groth and was overall a better returner, whereas Groth served better than the Serb. In the breaker the baseline game decided the outcome of the match, Troicki returned really good and dictated the rallies, Groth struggled when blocked from approaching the net. After quality deep shots, Troicki forced Groth in successive volley errors. Troicki converted his first set point on his serve thanks to his great Serve-and-Volley and a smash winner after a bad lob return. The second set went byquickly, Groth couldn’t gain a foothold in the match and got broken two times, as Troicki returned to the line and very long. The Australian’s one dimensionality had been exploited and he didn’t have any clue how to change it. Troicki with very good returns and very good serves held to defeat the serve-and-volleyer Groth 7-6(3), 6-1.
Troicki will face Marin Cilic who after an abysmal start could turn the match over in two tiebreaks against an in-form Mischa Zverev. The German profited from a rusty start by the Croat who committed many unforced errors. By the time he started to serve better and to hit his auspicious forehand shots in the second set. Zverev stood many meters behind the baseline, and couldn’t manage to get many break opportunities and to break him. Though he played a great baseline game and Cilic had many problems with his serve, at the end Cilic served too strong and Zverev couldn’t handle this in the second set. A double fault decided the first tiebreaker to the advantage of Cilic. Cilic got suddenly nervous too and couldn’t hold his serve as Zverev notched up his performance and with the crowd behind him.
Both servers could hold their nerves and their service games until the second breaker. Cilic once again played very clutch in the breaker and hit a return winner on the line, as Zverev moved forward to the net. Cilic lost his match point on his serve and Marin just had one more in the breaker. Zverev served and volleyed, but Marin hit an unbelievable lob winner touching the base line. Cilic won the match and defeated a very strong Mischa Zverev in three 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5).
Zverev, Tomic reach Quarterfinals @Mercedescup ATP Stuttgart 2015 Thursday Andreas Thiele for Tennis Atlantic
Nadal-Baghdatis went 3 sets (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
It’s the sixth day of this year’s ATP Stuttgart tournament and it was another hot day after quite a while. Not only the weather was perfect, today’s schedule was very interesting as we saw Nadal’s first appearance on the Center Court in a singlels match, along with Marin Cilic. The veteran Tommy Haas played his second match against Bernard Tomic who’s finding his form for grass and Mischa Zverev, upset Andreas Seppi. Zverev previously had a promising career that was derailed.
Thursday 2nd round matches
Everyone expected the name Zverev on today’s schedule here, but it’s more surprising Mischa was the one who played. Getting support from his whole family in the box, Mischa Zverev started perfectly. He kept in the long rallies both were playing and Seppi with his variation in shots just let the German move, but Zverev wanted these long rallies to as he was waiting for errors the Italian hit when he tried for winners. Zverev especially moved very well on the baseline and on grass overall, giving the Italian a small margin for error on his shots. The German played very defensively and didn’t approach to the net, knowing Seppi’s strength with passing shots.
Zverev is talented on grass (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
As the match went on, the South Tyrolean got more passive and stayed behind the baseline. He tried to build up the points from behind to finish them aggressively at the net. Zverev realized this and the rallies became longer. Zverev sliced the ball almost always in the break service games he won twice. The German had a perfect start with the double break and held his service games to win the first set. He served very well and tried to avoid playing on the Italian’s forehand since he hit some awesome forehand cross winners on the line. However, the more defensive Seppi got the his shots became, Zverev could have decided the games earlier with some risky forehands, but he preferred to stay in the rally and waited for a Seppi error. The returns were another crucial advantage for Zverev. Seppi couldn’t serve very well today, so Zverev could read his serves and hit some great returns. Whereas Seppi couldn’t manage Zverev’s hard serves and its variation. Seppi could hold his serve twice in the first set, but didn’t have any chance to break him, as long as Zverev even played very good serve-and-volley at his last service game of the set. He served too consistently well and benefited from Seppi’s UE at the end too.
Second set started better for Seppi, he started to serve better and Zverev was more expectant, not as aggressive and effective as the first set. Zverev focused at the beginning more on his service games, approached more often to the net and Seppi had his chances for passing shot winners he sometimes was successful with, but Zverev was really powerful and it was difficult for Seppi to control the ball and massage it. However, Zverev let Seppi’s service games slide and he got much stronger. His groundgame shots were more on point, and his game began to have more depth, on the other side Zverev couldn’t hold his high level of returning he had in the first set. Both players showed no signs of breaking before a tiebreak. Suddenly Zverev tried to hit more top spin and Seppi more slice, in contrast to the first set, and Seppi’s slice shots were a real threat for the German.. Slice shots were a great choice as the court was very fast and had a low bounce, a good slice causes many problems for both with its low bounce.
After his period of weakness Zverev started to return more aggressively and the Italian had problems again with his serve, the German had two breakpoints. He started to play again with a real big depth causing Seppi more problems. A backhand down the line went out and after a long rally. Zverev stayed in the rally, varied with short slice and long forehands to the line. Another backhand UE into the net bestowed the break on the German and he served it out to win it in two sets, 6-2 6-4.
Another German who had hopes to get into quarterfinals was Tommy Haas in his second match after his comeback. He was the underdog against the in Stuttgart born Australian Bernard Tomic and had the problems with his serve. He couldn’t serve very well, rather very slow (1st service with an average speed of 155 km/h) and was easy to return for Tomic. Haas won the points due to good rallies and UE Tomic committed. The German veteran had many problems, when Tomic played the balls very long to the baseline and wasn’t able to return them properly. Besides the UE’s Haas hit some great winners, especially fine tuned volleys. The Australian stayed behind the baseline, waited more during rallies and suddenly hit a winner, while Haas had problems with his shoulder to keep up his offensive game. His returns were just so-so and Tomic held with ease his serves in the first set. The German was often too slow to react to Tomic’s whipped serves until the tiebreak. Haas moves very well on grass, Tomic waited for his shots, but Haas wasn’t that patient and committed hasty errors with many forehand UE.
Tomic in action (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
The 1st set breaker began with a good cross-court rally and very beautifully finished with a backhand down-the-line shot for Tomic. The young gun won the first mini-break with another backhand down-the-line winner, just to hit a too long forehand afterwards. Tomic was the more aggressive player now in the breaker and wanted to finish it off quickly, but the backhand missed the line and Haas got the first set point on his serve. Haas applied his good serve-and-volley, but Tomic’s down-the-line passing shot was just too good for the veteran. At 8-7 Haas served again, but after a weak return Haas committed the next forehand UE.
Just like in second set’s tiebreaker Haas can’t level up his game again and had too many UE, hitting poorly with forehands. His game wasn’t up and he couldn’t get off his unforced errors. He went too early on winners, just like in the return game after his serve and missed quite a few. On return, Tomic raised his level taking an overwhelming 0-40 advantage. Haas served well then until 30-40, then Tomic and Haas played a long slice rally. Bernie’s backhand slice cross court was in, touching the line, but someone from the crowd shouted very loudly ‘out’ and Haas thought a linesman called it out. After a long discussion which lasted around three minutes, the hawkeye demonstrated the ball went in. Leading with double-break Bernie served the match out. The big hitter and big server won the match in two sets without facing any breakpoint and converted his fourth match point for a 7-6(6), 6-2 score line.
14 time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal next took to center court. Nadal began the match a little bit rusty and wasn’t moving well at all, allowing Baghdatis to get an early break. After he lost his serve Nadal couldn’t raise his level, the Cypriot even had three break points for the double break, that he didn’t convert. Nadal’s backhand saved him the service game and could break him after his held serve with ease due to Baghdatis’ unforced errors. Nadal started to move better on grass and to adapt his game to the surface, adjusting from clay, his favorite surface. After he survived another three break points and saved two because of good serving, he really took the control of the match and approached more often to the net. Nadal returned very well, but he still hasn’t the feeling for the right shot selection before the breaker and his forehand lacking is something which is a big flaw for his game right now. Nadal won the first mini-breaks with an incredible backhand down-the-line lob winner as Baghdatis served and volleyed very well, but the Spaniard could reach the ball yet. Though he lost the mini-breaks again, the lefty was lucky Baghdatis’ backhand down-the-line shot went out and served the breaker out.
In the second set Nadal broke him because of forced errors Baghdatis committed, but the Cypriot could re-break him again and was still in the match. His backhand failed three times, and the forehand UE into the net ended the service game. Nadal’s forehand still missed at important points the lines it had to or his forehand landed in the net. He moved well after a while, especially on the baseline, but was maybe a bit too fast reaching balls and thought too much about what to do. Nadal’s forehand was shaky overall, he didn’t have the full control, but his backhand and net approaches were really nice and he had the right feeling when to move forward to the net.
Rafa (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Baghdatis played well, but couldn’t move that well to cover the whole court for Nadal’s shots. His slice shots were really threatening for Nadal, as he doesn’t like to put his whole weight on his knees I reckon. Marcos returned very well and could read Nadal’s serve like in the breaker which had to decide the set again. Nadal played better again at the beginning than before, but Baghdatis returned too well twice at 5-4 and the Spaniard committed once again two UE with his forehand.
In the third set Marcos started to serve very well, yet lost his concentration already at the second service game. Nadal started to return very much better. A return on the line gave him the break and another good return and good shot on the line ended the match. Nadal played better in the third set, served quite well and his serve-and-volley worked, Marcos lost his concentration and ran out of gas. All in all a deserved win for Nadal after the third set, could have lost the match in two if Baghdatis would have been more clutch. Furthermore, Nadal looked a bit unsure on grass at the beginning, but won confidence game by game. Everybody was kind of surprised of the tiebreak Nadal lost, also because of two good but lucky (i.e. close) returns which were very long. His game got deeper and his good shot-selection in the 3rd set he didn’t have was the key for a good relaxed last set. Nadal wins 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2.
Marin Cilic defeated Matthias Bachinger 7-6 (2), 6-3. The Croat practiced his serve a lot today and was on point serving after he got broken in the middle of the set. It was a very nervous start, many unforced errors, but as Bachinger served for the set Cilic returned too well and dominated the rallies. Even in the breaker Cilic was too dominant and could return Bachinger’s serves very well, though he ran back and forth. Bachinger could hold Cilic’s pace, but just reacted and Cilic hit a winner at the end of a rally. Cilic returned very well again the second set and could break him after really beautiful rallies both could stand out. Cilic’s power and depth triggered the home German to start cramping after the first set. However, all in all he played a really good match today given his ranking. Cilic needed his backhand to click. Bachinger played a great tournament. If he gets the consistency he can certainly qualify for the next tournaments including Wimbledon.
Serve and Volleyer Groth Reaches Quarters @MercedesCup ATP Stuttgart 2015 Andreas Thiele for Tennis Atlantic
Groth volleys into quarters (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Wednesday in Stuttgart wasn’t as windy as the previous main draw days, yet almost as cold as we had yesterday, maybe a bit warmer. However, conditions weren’t relevant for the first time at this tournament and many players didn’t want to forfeit their chance to have some good practice on the practice courts.
Almost every player was practicing today, even those who lost their matches in singles and doubles. Grass season recently started and not everyone feels comfortable with the grass. Dominic Thiem for example practiced a lot with Lukas Rosol who was also his doubles partner. They were joking a lot and talked about tennis, while working on their forehands. Thiem’s forehand looks a bit better, backhand was a bit worrying though. Thiem really didn’t look happy with his progress at the beginning, but he cheered up with every backhand cross which went on the line. I reckon Rosol is a bit injured, since he didn’t move as well. Dustin Brown and Gilles Simon also practiced in front of fans. Just like Rosol and Thiem they laughed a lot and put on a show with some great shots.
Dreddy and Gillou (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Next to them on the same court were Alejandro Falla and Mikhail Kukushkin training, though the Colombian got defeated by Sugita on Sunday. Falla worked on sharpening his game on grass and his backhand got more effective now, he really displayed a much better tennis than he did on the weekend. Especially his backhand slice looks pretty good. Kukushkin on the other side wasn’t as inspiring as the Colombian and appeared frustrated.
Rafael Nadal was practicing today and expected his second doubles match. Unfortunately Robert Farah had wrist problems and had to call off (wish you a speedy recovery). His forehand was looking very solid with depth and power. However, his backhand didn’t improve a lot and he needs time to fix it.. He looked very pleased about his training and smiled, he really enjoys the grass-practice in Stuttgart. Francisco Roig looked happy too, as he watched Rafa’s down-the-line forehands land in again and again. Still, one has to admit the conditions made the grass courts very slow and the grass here doesn’t have a low bounce.
Marin Cilic got the biggest court to train on, Court 1! He hit many backhands at practice, trying to fix the shot that bedeviled him in doubles. His cross-court forehand looked to be a strong weapon, but he wasn’t clicking on down the line shots.
Cilic on the practice courts (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Wednesday Second Round Matches
Alexander Zverev was up in the first match against Viktor Troicki on Center Court and I’m certain that a member of his team watched Troicki’s match yesterday. Zverev employed a strategy more suited to clay than grass, but his gameplan was to stay in rallies and to attack Viktor’s flaws (his almost careless shot selection and his poor groundies). Though the scoreline would indicate otherwise, Viktor didn’t play great Tuesday against Borna Coric hitting many forehand unforced errors, so it wasn’t a bad idea to be more defensive for your second grass match ever if you’re Zverev.
Problem was his shots lacked depth and Troicki was able to dictate the rallies like he wanted. Zverev started very bad in the first set losing his serve and having many problems on his second serve. He didn’t find his rhythm at first, and by the time he did, the first set was in the books in favor of Troicki. Second set started similar, problems holding his serve and lost his service again. Troicki hit the balls very well and moved quickly on grass. He was very often at the net, Zverev almost never and he got too passive during rallies, the Serb toyed with him playing the balls back and forth. The young German couldn’t always yield an advantage of his serve today to be more competitive. Troicki served a bit better and returned very much better than Zverev who had problems anticipating the Troicki serve.
Troicki had a very good depth today, hence Zverev the younger had to move very often on the baseline and slipped and fell quite often. After a while Troicki lost his focus and was inattentive, he started to prefer the worst option and his shot selection was awful. He lost his two match points in the breaker due to this, and lost the second set with a stab volley right into the net. Once again, in the third set, Zverev had many problems with his serves as he didn’t aim to hit a winner and let Troicki dictate the game. This match was full of very long rallies, seemed to be more a clay event than a grass match in reality. Zverev failed to break Troicki again, and the Serb served it out though with some silly UEs 6-3 6-7 6-3.
Gael Monfils routined Andreas Haider-Maurer 7-6(6), 7-6(5), a typical scoreline for a match on grass. Both served very well in the first set, Monfils couldn’t convert the first break point at the first game thanks to an ace the Austrian hit and Haider-Maurer couldn’t convert his break point (which was a set point too) because of a very strong forehand cross winner Monfils hit. Breaker had to decide the first set and the Austrian had a very rare problem: His two foot faults cost him greatly as he double faulted twice. Monfils couldn’t hold the edge with the first mini-break, but converted his next set point on his serve. Second set started like the first one with lots of service winners due too good serves. The Frenchman lost again his concentration and couldn’t break the Austrian. He put up on a show to amuse the crowd after he started to return well. Haider-Maurer had more problems returning, so Monfils didn’t have many problems with his serve apart from a service game. Just like Zverev before Haider-Maurer, a dirtballer, played like on clay, very defensive and cautious. He wasn’t as often at the net with serve-and-volley as Monfils was, but when he decided to take over the rally, he went forward and won it. In contrast to his rival who tried many hot shots and serve-and-volleys, some of them enchanting the crowd.
Monfils won in two tiebreaks (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Furthermore, both had problems volleying, since Haider-Maurer waits for these net approaches to pass Monfils and the Austrian went forward after a very harmless shot. Many volleys landed at the net. Gael played very well when he needed to and had an eye on the clear space for the winners. However, breaker had to decide the second set again and the Austrian led with a mini-break, but gifted it right back to Monfils. Then he again committed the first UE to lose his serve after a good return while the Austrian played serve-and-volley. Monfils closed the match of course with an ace. Monfils has promised his fitness trainer the new Mercedes-Benz car if he wins the title.
Against Feliciano Lopez, a grass court expert, big serving Aussie Sam Groth notched a huge win. After losing a service game in the first set in routine fashion, he didn’t lose another service game. His match would have been easier if he converted all the volleys and smash opportunities that Lopez offered up. Both were serving fantastically without any big problems they couldn’t handle. Lopez began suddenly to play less slice and more top-spin which helped the Australian a lot and his returns became less hazardous. The Spaniard lost his confidence as the match continued, whereupon Groth gained more confidence in his groundgame which got more threatening as the games went by. Lopez’ surprising slice shots vanished Groth’s rhythm during the second set and so it got very difficult to break him. The Spaniard’s usual return position was a few meters behind the baseline, His distance was even farther away from that line returning in the 2nd set.
This wasn’t the best approach against Groth, as Flopez’s passivity in the second set resulted in a losing result unlike in the first. When Lopez failed to get amazing return winners he was going for, Groth didn’t have any problem with his serve-and-volley to win the points on serve. Lopez hit slice and topspin body shots at Groth when the Australian went forward, but Lopez couldn’t repeat this strategy to success execution wise. The second set tiebreaker seemed to be very even for a long time, but after a very good return on the line and a long slice rally Groth hit a miraculous and lucky bh slice in front of Lopez’ feet. Furthermore the ball had a rare bounce, rendering it unreachable. Groth served fantastically well and Lopez didn’t have the ghost of a chance to break him. The third set tiebreaker was more of a nailbiter than even the second set tiebreak, and after Groth’s incredible forehand on the line Lopez’ backhand slice reached the net. Groth served it out without problems and won the match after losing first set 3-6 7-6(5) 7-6(6).
Philipp Kohlschreiber posted another routine win in round 2, defeating Jerzy Janowicz 6-4, 6-4. Kohli played very well today and Janowicz couldn’t keep up the level he had in his match against Brown. Kohlschreiber moved very well and anticipated Janowicz’ shot selection well. As a contrast to the Pole, Kohli served with accuracy not just power. Kohlschreiber often played the ball in to stay in the rally, expecting an UE from Janowicz and JJ had no clue how to handle this approach. It was a very one-sided match as Kohlschreiber dominated the whole match and didn’t lose the control of it. Janowicz didn’t have his serve today, so his groundies were even worse, as he didn’t have much confidence during the match. He had a very negative body language as well.
Kohli served well (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
The German did everything right: He stood a few meters behind the baseline to return weak Janowicz serves, and pulled surprising returns out of his hat. Jerzy, who moved poorly on the day, struggled with the fact Kohli didn’t give him a chance to gather rhythm. Kohli was able to trigger forehand and baseline shanks out of Janowicz. The Bavarian counter attacked with his power, very clever shot-selection and very good movement. A big quarterfinal match with Gael Monfils will be next for him.
Tomic Back in the Groove, Coric Shelled Tuesday at ATP Stuttgart 2015 Andreas Thiele for Tennis Atlantic
Tomic back in the groove (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
It was the fourth day of this year’s ATP Stuttgart tournament and it was the coldest and windiest day yet. It’s always the worst what can happen here in Germany in terms of weather, with dark clouds, strong winds, and no rain: A winter day during summer. Many players had problems today, especially muscular problems. We witnessed the first retirement in a main draw match and many tennis players moving poorly. Conditions were a challenge today, but matches were completed in full.
Difficult wind created the highest amount of unforced errors per match today, yet very beautiful winners which were powered by the wind. Even in the press centre it was quite cold. In the cold, fans gathered around Rafael Nadal, Gael Monfils and Dustin Brown seeking an interaction with their favorites. Nadal had to call the security team to get through the crowds, when he played doubles with Feliciano Lopez.
Main Draw Round 1
The schedule looked promising on Tuesday, especially for the German crowd. as German was featured in 8 out of 11 matches. Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki led off the day.
Borna Coric’s father was quite optimistic this could be the day he wins his first match on grass, before the match began. With Croatian journalists in the stands Borna just absolutely disappointed his countrymen and couldn’t end his negative run of four losses in a row on grass (0-4 career record). His first service game looked promising, though he had problems holding it. He still doesn’t know how to move on grass and gets too passive during rallies. Troicki was the way more aggressive player and hit some great winners, but some funny unforced errors. While the beginning of the first set was competitive, Borna lost his second serve with a fight, it seemed he wasn’t up for the match entirely. The second serve game he lost was on him and Troicki didn’t even have to play well.
The second set was just pathetic, Coric only won nine points out of 36 and just won a lone return point during the whole set. I stopped watching it after the first break which was very hard-fought (three times deuce) and Troicki won it a few minutes later. Troicki’s forehand didn’t look that bad at all, in contrary to Coric’s which can’t be even called a weapon. Given he’s a young gun, Coric will have the time to develop his game on grass, but in the present day Troicki rolled 6-2 6-0 in a blowout.
Jan-Lennard Struff struggled on the day, though he offered some great forehand-shots and even nicer volleys. Bernard Tomic was out of his league, he offered up great variation in his serve and delivered what he needed, to win, throwing in some great winners. The first set was very one-sided, Tomic won the very first game which was a break to love and broke him at the end of the first set again. However, like is often the case with his matches. Bernie wasn’t consistent enough to close out the match routinely, leading a set and a break ahead.
Struff started to hit one good return after another, and dictate the rallies – He almost always won the point at the net and almost always lost the points on longer rallies, as he hit many forehand unforced errors under pressure. After Tomic broke his serve with a fantastic forehand down-the-line winner, he immediately was broken bakc after serving two double faults and committing a very easy backhand ue after a poor return. The set built up its tension because of the fact both served very well till the second set breaker, when the Borussia Dortmund-fan suddenly led 3-0. Two long forehands later, and Tomic took a decisive advantage, eventually closing out the breaker 7-5 for a 6-3 7-6 victory. Tomic’s game looked quite sharp today, although there was room for improvement. Bernie has to face now another German he lost to in Halle three years ago, Tommy Haas.
Another German moving on here is Mischa Zverev who’s showing great grass tennis as a veteran. The underrated grass specialist had many problems at the beginning against Dominic Thiem and lost even his serve, but he managed to catch himself and rebroke, converting his first break point of the match. As the match progressed, both started to serve better and the breaker had to decide the set. After three consecutive mini-breaks Zverev held his serve to get set point and Thiem failed to save another set point, as he didn’t serve well under pressure. Zverev looked fresher, though he played every day in the last three days, and could break him again. Thiem broke himself with a lot of unnecessary errors. The German served well in set 2, broke Thiem again returning and moving very well to hit one forehand after another in his last service game to close the match 7-6 6-2.
Marcos Baghdatis vs. Lukas Rosol looked like a great match on paper, but Rosol played poorly on the outer court. Baghdatis lost the first game and his serve, but Rosol couldn’t maintain the advantage and ended up losing the first set with a double break. Rosol moved poorly and showed signs of rust. He didn’t have the fortune to trust in his first serve, it was either too long or into the net in big moments and Baghdatis even started to return well when given the chance. The veteran Baghdatis had very good and strong groundstrokes, made Rosol run, and in this way the Cypriot hit many winners. His form looked excellent, throwback in a way and could have some great results in the next week overall like today where he won 6-3 6-4. Depending on Rafael Nadal’s form on the day he could come even through in their match.
Baghdatis was smooth in Stuttgart (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Benjamin Becker came back to Germany in good form after some wins at Roland Garros, and was excited to start the grass court season, his best surface, but unfortunately the shoulder-problem he had in Paris discomforted him again and he was in pain. Therefore he slumped in defeat against Andreas Seppi. After the first set he asked for a medical timeout and it went better afterwards. He held twice his serve, and he had signs of a comeback, but after Seppi served again his should flaired up once more. The German let the match slide and wants to focus now on getting completely recovered again. Wish you all the best, Benjamin, and a speedy recovery! Seppi defeated injured Becker 6-1, 6-2.
Similar to Becker Sergiy Stakhovsky had medical problems against Sam Groth. The first set Stakhovsky won with a classic grass court serve and volley game, often chipping and charging with brilliant volley winners. Groth, famous for his fastest serve ever recorded at a Challenger in South Korea, served again very well, but was too slow to reach Stakhovsky’s volleys. Especially the second serves were attacked by Stako, till the Australian let off steam and yelled
“he always gets my 2nd serve” after 0-30, *3-5 in the first set. Bit by bit Stakhovsky started to play more passively and gave Groth some opportunities at the net that he could approach.
Groth and Stakhovsky volleyed away (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Nothing changed in the second set and Stakhovsky’s serve lessened in effectiveness, he had to save seven break points in the second set alone, as Groth wasn’t always attentive at his chances. On the eight break point chance in set 2, a set point as well, Groth finally won it. Stako lost his serve at the beginning of the third set, and then retired 5-3 down in the third. At the end his serves were a shadow of the his serving in the 1st set, so Groth won it 4-6, 7-5, 5-3. Wish you a speedy recovery as well, Stako!
Matthias Bachinger again displayed great tennis against Peter Gojowczyk. Gojo dictated with his forehand in very good rallies and the Bavarian Bachinger ran left and right to get the balls. Both were serve-and-volleying very well and little things decided this match. One of these things was Bachinger’s fighting spirit, and his poison slices which were a hazard for Gojowczyk. He committed unforced errors and many forehands landed at the net after Bachinger’s slices.
Bachinger was very clutch on important points and didn’t give up any game. Gojowczyk was leading in his last service game in before a theoretical breaker 40-0, but many forehand unforced errors and an incredible forehand smash into the net after a long slice-rally and a well played lob gave Bachinger a break. The Bavarian served the match out, just like in the first set he did after winning the break and will face #2 seed Marin Cilic. Bachingers win was 7-5 7-5.
Alexander Zverev was the better player against Mate Pavic and deservedly won after losing the first set 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. It was a bad start at the beginning facing a break point, and he eventually got broken and lost the first set. In the second set the young German improved his serve on break points, and his forehand was very sharp against Pavic, who likes to attack at the net with his backhand volley. Zverev was aware of that and could read his serve-and-volleys, as he stood meters behind the baseline and didn’t give Pavic many free points.. All in all Zverev played with a very good strategy and kept his head cool, against a nervous Pavic. He finally won the match with a very strong forehand triggering a Pavic error.
Both Zverev brothers advanced on the day (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
The old German master Tommy Haas returned finally to the tour! His win over Mikhail Kukushkin was a graet match, based on good serve and offensive forehands. Kukushkin didn’t have any clue how to react and it says a lot about his tennis on grass when he gets dominated by the rusty Haas. In the second set Haas lost his rhythm and started to gift Kukushkin games he never would have been able to win. Giving that Kukushkin at the end couldn’t hold the break and Haas was able to raise his level again to finished it in two 6-4 7-5.
The last German who played today, Dustin Brown lost in three to Jerzy Janowicz. Both were rock solid on serve, and Brown lost some points due to easy unforced errors he hit. The first set went quickly as Dreddy took it in a tiebreak but Janowicz was able to break him in the second and third sets, while Brown wasn’t able to convert break points. Janowicz completed the comeback 6-7 6-4 6-3. It was still a successful tournament for Brown as he qualified for an ATP event for the first time since Munich.
Janowicz vs. Brown was a quick match (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
In the other singles match on the day, Andreas Haider-Maurer dashed the hopes of young German wild card Max Marterer 7-6 6-3.
Tuesday Doubles Scores
Lopez/Nadal d. Junaid/Shamasdin 7-6 6-2
Cabal/Farah d. Rosol/Thiem 7-6 7-6
Matkowski/Zimonjic d. Monfils/Simon 6-3 6-4