The Dysfunctional Tennis Blog
A healthy dose of pro tennis blogging.
March 29, 2013
A healthy dose of pro tennis blogging.
March 29, 2013
Headlines from TENNIS.com
Toni Nadal, the uncle and coach of Rafael Nadal, tells National Radio of Spain that Roger Federer is not among his lists of favorites to win Roland Garros.
"I do not see him amongst the favorites,” Toni Nadal said. "My top three favorites are [Novak] Djokovic, [David] Ferrer and Rafael. That’s today. Later we'll see who is going to play better because [Juan Martin] del Potro, [Tomas] Berdych and [Grigor] Dimitrov can raise their levels and end up being candidates. I don't see Federer so much as a favorite because that’s the rule of life. He’s played for many years and when you've won as much as Roger Federer ... on clay, which is not his favorite surface, so maybe you're not willing to sacrifice as much. Maybe he’ll be a favorite at Wimbledon or the U.S. Open, but not at Roland Garros."
Toni Nadal added that he’s isn’t sure how Rafael has taken over as the leader in the ATP Points Race. Rafael Nadal returned from a knee injury at the beginning of February and has won six tournaments and reached two other finals. By virtue of winning Rome, Nadal earned a top four seed at Roland Garros.
“He has played better than expected,” Toni Nadal said. “Things have gone very well. In Madrid we were almost a ball away from losing to Ferrer. If we had lost in the quarterfinals we would have lost 700 to 800 points. In Rome we were close to defeat against Gulbis. It’s true that Rafael knew he had to face up to both situations, but in reality sport changes very quickly.”
World No. 11 Stanislas Wawrinka is questionable for Roland Garros after suffering a small tear in his right thigh in Rome. Le Matin reports Wawrinka hasn't touched his racquet since he fell to Alexandr Dolgopolov in Rome. The Madrid runner-up is hopeful that he can compete in Paris. Roland Garros starts on Sunday.
"My situation is not easy to live with,” Wawrinka said. “I am preoccupied with therapy. I have not done anything else since I got injured. I’ll know more precisely where I am (Wednesday) when I see my doctor and get some tests. [But] the injury is getting better. Two days of training [prior to the French] would be sufficient."
After suffering her fourth opening-round exit in her last five tournaments with a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Camila Giorgi in Strasbourg today, world No. 13 Marion Bartoli tells Le Figaro she will try and turn around her fortunes quickly.
"I’m lacking practice but there’s no use crying over it as it won’t make me move forward," Bartoli said. "I will practice again to arrive in best possible shape for Roland Garros.”
After winning her 24th consecutive match by defeating Victoria Azarenka in the Rome final, Serena Williams says she isn’t concerned that she’ll freeze up at Roland Garros, where she lost in the first round last year. Williams has won the just French Open once, in 2002. She did tell reporters that winning another Roland Garros title is her biggest challenge.
“Maybe, but I don’t feel any pressure, but in the past I have and I have always said, I have won every Grand Slam and perhaps only once but I don’t feel the pressure,” said Williams.
The 24-match run is the longest winning streak of Williams’ career.
ROME -- Serena Williams won her fourth consecutive title of the year in dominating fashion Sunday, beating third-seeded Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-3 in the Italian Open final.
The top-ranked American will enter the French Open, which starts next Sunday, on a career-best 24-match winning streak.
Williams was coming off consecutive titles in Miami; Charleston, South Carolina; and Madrid last week.
She didn't drop a set while winning this title.
Williams' only previous title at this clay-court event came in 2002, when she beat Justine Henin in the final.
That was also the year she won her only title at Roland Garros. Last year in Paris, Williams lost in the opening round of a major for the first time, falling to 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano of France.
Later, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were renewing their rivalry in the men's final at the Foro Italico.
On a pleasant spring day, Williams immediately took control by breaking Azarenka's serve twice to take a 3-0 lead in the opening set.
The 15-time Grand Slam winner slugged winners at will off both Azarenka's first and second serves, stepping into the court to dictate play at every opportunity.
Azarenka grew distraught at the end of the first set, twice slamming her racket on the court in desperation.
After trading breaks midway through the second set, Williams took control again when Azarenka double faulted to hand her a 5-3 lead. Williams then served out the match at love and let out a big scream when she unleashed a backhand winner down the line to close it out.
Williams held a massive 41-12 edge in winners and served nine aces to Azarenka's none.
Williams improved to 12-2 in her career against Azarenka, who spent 51 weeks at No. 1 before Williams reclaimed the top spot in February.
Williams had twice won 21 matches in a row before, although both of those runs came more than a decade ago, in 2002 and the beginning of 2003.
Martina Navratilova established the longest women's winning run in the Open Era at 74 matches in 1984.
At 31, Williams is back at the top of her game after missing 11 months in 2010 and 2011 with a right foot injury and a pulmonary embolism.
It was Azarenka's first final since beating Williams for the title in February at Doha, Qatar. That followed the Belarussian's Australian Open victory. Since then, Azarenka has been slowed by right ankle and left foot injuries.
It was the 51st title of Williams' career. Navratilova also holds the record in that category with a seemingly insurmountable 167 titles. Williams moved within two titles of matching Monica Seles for ninth on the all-time list.
Williams was already first among active players and now has seven more titles than her sister Venus, who is second on the list and watched the final from the stands.
Earlier in the women's doubles final, Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan and Peng Shuai of China upset the top-ranked Italian pair of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci 4-6, 6-3, 10-8.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP)—Defending champion Roger Federer and top-seeded Novak Djokovic are on course to face each in the Dubai Championships final after each moved into the quarterfinals Wednesday with straight set victories.
The world's two best players were joined by Juan Martin del Potro and Tomas Berdych who also won in straight sets. Berdych saved 12 of 14 break points to beat Tobias Kamke 7-5, 6-1, and Del Potro defeated Somdev Devvarman 6-4, 6-4 before hitting a few balls with former Argentina soccer star Diego Maradona.
Djokovic beat Roberto Bautista-Agut of Spain 6-1, 7-6 (4).
The top-ranked Djokovic broke Bautista-Agut three times to win the first set in 23 minutes and took a 3-0 lead in the second. But at 5-3 up and serving for the match, Bautista-Agut managed to break Djokovic and seemed to suddenly come alive - going on to save four match points to level the set at 5-5.
Djokovic produced a volleyed winner to go up 6-5 up, only for the 55th-ranked Spaniard to have a good service game capped by a return from the Serb into the net to force the tiebreaker. However, Djokovic soon took control, accelerating into a 5-2 lead and winning the match when Bautista-Agut double faulted.
''I played really, really well and a high level throughout most of the match and then I had another poor game like yesterday toward the end when I needed to close it out and a few match points,'' Djokovic said. ''He fought his way through and I have to give them credit for that. He's a great competitor. I never played against him, so I didn't know really what to expect.''
Djokovic now plays seventh-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy who beat Lukas Rosol 6-4, 7-6 (4).
Federer beat Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-4, looking much more confident than he did in his opening, three-set victory over Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri. His serve was almost untouchable — he won 84 percent of first serve points - and he was much more aggressive, winning several key points at the net.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner broke the 34th-ranked Spaniard to go up 4-2 on the way to winning the first set. Federer broke a second time to make it 3-2 in the second and closed It out with a dominant serving game - including an ace and a final serve that Granollers returned wide.
''The last four sets have been pretty good, you know, so I'm happy I bounced back after a rough opening first set here in the first round,'' Federer said. ''I think I was sharper today. I had a more, clear plan. I knew what I could and couldn't do.''
Federer will next face Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, who beat Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-4, 7-6 (2). Federer has an 18-2 record against the Russian and hasn't lost to him since 2010 in Qatar. But the Swiss star said he still had to be ready for a player who once was ranked third before sustaining a series of injuries.
"I'll never disrespect a guy like Nikolay. He's done too much in the game," he said. "That's why I know it's a dangerous round next match... I know what he can do on his absolute best day because I was one of the guys that got crushed by him as well during that time."
Maradona, who is a goodwill ambassador for the Dubai Sports Council, went on court after Del Potro's match to give the Argentine a hug. Dressed in a polo shirt and tracksuit bottoms, Maradona then proceeded to hit a few balls with Del Potro and even had a volley winner.
"It's a pleasure to share moments with Diego," Del Potro said. "All the Argentinian people love him, and he's our No. 1 representative on the world in the sports. You know, to play some balls with him here in this stadium, it's amazing for me. He played really well, not like soccer, but he can hit the balls with me."
Berdych led 4-2 and 5-3 in the first set but Kamke broke to get back to 5-4 and then held for 5-5. The 90th-ranked German later saved five set points before Berdych broke him to win the set.
Berdych, who reached the quarterfinals for the fourth straight tournament, said he struggled to adjust from the indoor courts of Marseille to the faster, outdoor courts in Dubai. He also complained about the intense sun and windy conditions.
"It was a tricky one and not one of my best games," Berdych said. "I'm happy with the way it went. Just enough to win in two sets. I was really trying to extremely focus on every single point because you don't know what can happen, what the wind will do."
Also, German qualifier Daniel Brands defeated eighth-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 6-4, 6-4.
Mardy Fish announces on Twitter that he plans on playing the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, which begins next week. He is also scheduled to play the LA Challenge exhibition next Monday night.
The 30-year-old has not played since he withdrew from his fourth-round match against Roger Federer at last year’s U.S. Open due to heart trouble. Fish reached the Indian Wells singles final in 2008; he partnered Andy Roddick to win the doubles title in 2009.
The Tennis Channel and the FCC appear to have their backs against the wall in the network’s discrimination case against cable giant Comcast.
Last year, the FCC ordered Comcast to provide equal treatment to Tennis Channel in its tier placement, ruling that it must be on the same tier as the two sports networks it owns, the Golf Channel and NBC Sports.
But on Monday, judges on U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit panel expressed concern about whether the Tennis Channel's complaint was issued on time, and whether the FCC’s order affected its First Amendment rights.
A variety of outlets reported that Senior Judge Harry Edwards appeared ready to strike the FCC order on the grounds that the Tennis Channel’s discrimination complaint was filed outside the one-year FCC complaint window.
One of the judges said that it was “ludicrous” for the FCC to suggest that a complaint could be filed anytime somebody wanted.
Tennis Channel argues that if such a time limit were placed on complaints, then companies such as Comcast could wait for a year after a contract is signed and then discriminate against them as much as they like.
Comcast counters that being told where to place Tennis Channel is an invasion of its First Amendment rights because it is being ordered what to do editorially, and that it has a constitutional right to favor its own speech over others, so long as it does not do so for anti-competitive reasons.
There is no timetable set for the judges ruling, but a decision is expected in a few months.
The stakes are high: Tennis Channel has said that if it were move to the same basic tier that Golf Channel and NBC Sports are on, the network would be available in an additional 20 million homes, which could mean about $3 million per year in revenue. Tennis Channel is currently available in about 34 million homes nationwide.
Switzerland and Australia have agreed that the Swiss will host April Fed Cup playoff tie outdoors on red clay at the Tennis Club Chiasso in Chiasso.
Tennis Australia was originally awarded choice of ground, but the Fed Cup Committee has approved a proposal by the two nations to move the tie to Switzerland. As part of the agreement, Australia will now have choice of ground on the next two occasions Australia and Switzerland meet in Fed Cup.
The winner of the tie will advance to the World Group, while the loser will be relegated to World Group II competition next year.
Former Delray Beach champion Ernests Gulbis tells the Sun Sentinel that there are players ranked inside the Top 100 who aren’t very good.
The Latvian, who had to qualify for this week's tournament in Delray Beach, has seen his ranking drop from a career-high No. 21 in February 2011 to No. 109.
“I was really getting pissed to see who's in the top 100,'' the 24-year-old Gulbis said. "There are some guys who I don't know who they are. Some guys, I'm sorry, with respect—they can't play tennis."
Gulbis, who has been said by some to have Top 10 potential, hired coach Gunther Berezniki last summer and said that he is in better shape and ready to fulfill his potential.
"This is the first year I really want to do this,'' Gulbis said. "I'm starting to enjoy tennis much more. Before I didn't like it, honestly. I had a couple of good wins and enjoyed it. Then I went on the wrong path and was doing wrong stuff for my game. Now, I want to play maybe five more years and do the best I can. My goal is to really win something big.”
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP)—Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States won her first main-draw singles this year, beating 16-year-old Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 Tuesday in the rain-disrupted first round of the Malaysian Open.
Mattek-Sands, a former top-30 player who has slipped to No. 197, is playing as a wild card. She eliminated the sixth-seeded Vekic in nearly two hours.
The American has had more success in doubles of late, winning her second title of the year with Sania Mirza in Dubai last weekend.
Also advancing were fifth-seeded Misaki Doi of Japan, Patricia Mayr-Achleitner of Austria and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.
Playing Wednesday are top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki and defending champion Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Juan Martin del Potro saved three match points Tuesday to get past Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) and reach the second round of the Dubai Championships, while Michael Llodra upset eighth-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets.
Top ranked Novak Djokovic, looking for his fourth Dubai title, had a much easier time against good friend Viktor Troicki, beating him 6-1, 6-4 in just over an hour.
Del Potro, who reached the quarterfinals in Marseille and won his 14th title the week before in Rotterdam, appeared sluggish early, handing the first set to Baghdatis when he hit one of his three double faults. But the 2009 U.S. Open champion served better in the second, and broke Baghdatis to go up 3-2. The two traded breaks in the third and Del Potro won it when the Cypriot hit a forehand into the net after a short rally.
Del Potro then saved three match points at 5-4 in the third before forcing the tiebreaker.
"I was fighting every time of the match," Del Potro said. "He's a great player. He fights like me every point, and we made fantastic rallies. The crowd was enjoying the game. I'm so glad to beat him tonight in Dubai."
Del Potro said his right wrist is still bothering him, having missed most of 2010 after having surgery on it and still struggling to return to the top.
"I'm trying to keep focus on this tournament because it's very important," Del Potro said. "And then to come for Indian Wells and Miami, I need good results here."
Tsonga, who had never lost in six meetings against Llodra, blamed the loss partly on the fact he only arrived in Dubai on Monday after winning the Open 13 in France. Tsonga also said a key turning point was when he had to replay a point at 4-3 in the first set, double-faulted twice and was broken.
"Maybe if I win the first set it gives me enough energy, maybe to play in the second and maybe win," Tsonga said. "But after that, I'm just disappointed and then I'm scared. ... I was supposed to win this set, and you do like two double faults because you're thinking about it. That's it."
Llodra broke Tsonga twice in the second set to go up 5-2 and clinched the match when his fellow Frenchman hit a return long.
"Today I didn't start well," Llodra said. "Beginning of the second set, I break him early, and after, it was just to be focused on my serve. ... It's special to beat him."
Coming off his third consecutive Australian Open title, Djokovic broke the 44th-ranked Troicki twice to easily win the first set. The second was tighter, with Troicki breaking Djokovic to even the set at 4-4. But Djokovic broke back and then clinched the match with a slicing serve that Troicki couldn't return.
"That was a great one, especially in the first set, considering the fact I haven't played an official tournament for three, four weeks," said Djokovic, who now has a 13-1 record against Troicki. "This is one of the fastest hard courts on the tour that I have experienced outdoors. So you need to be really committed to every point and play well."
In other matches, sixth-ranked Tomas Berdych made easy work of American wild-card entry Rajeev Ram, beating him 6-1, 6-3. Australian Bernard Tomic withdrew from his match against Romanian Victor Hanescu after falling behind 3-2 in the first set.
Former third-ranked Nikolay Davydenko of Russia had the other upset on the day, downing ninth-ranked Janko Tipsarevic 6-0, 7-5. It was the third tournament in a row that the Serb had lost his opening match after he injured his heel at the Australian Open.
The big-hitting Tipsarevic had trouble with his serve all match, committing six double faults and finishing with a first serve percentage of only 49 percent.
The 46th-ranked Davydenko said it was clear Tipsarevic isn't playing at this best.
"Maybe he doesn't have the confidence after the Australian Open," the Russian said. "After his injury, he tried to come back. (His) game is good but is not enough now. Maybe he will feel better in America."
Former soccer star Diego Maradona, who is an ambassador for Dubai Sports Council and has been attending WTA matches in Dubai this week, jokes that he will take charge of a fellow Argentine next week, when the ATP begins its tournament there.
“Next week I’ll be the one training [Juan Martin] del Potro myself," he told Gulf News. “I will ask Franco Davin to step aside and Diego will train del Potro.”
Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova has high praise for the depth of the Dubai field.
The world’s top two of Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka were in the draw before pulling out with injuries. Kvitova beat world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-2, 6-4, today to reach the semifinals.
“Well I mean, it’s like a small Grand Slam,” she told reporters. “Everybody is playing there, so I can’t say that I have any chance I will win. I play my best I can.”
Former world No. 3 David Nalbandian, who returned to singles play for the first time in six months last week in Sao Paulo (where reached the final), says he has changed his attitude about playing.
"I feel whole," the 31-year-old told reporters in Buenos Aires. “This year I'm going to be different. I want to go every week, choose which tournaments to play and enjoy them. I am not going to go crazy over rankings.”
The former Wimbledon finalist is currently ranked No. 78.
MARSEILLE, France (AP)—Russian qualifier Dmitry Tursunov upset fourth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic 7-6 (4), 6-2 to reach the Open 13 quarterfinals on Thursday.
The 30-year-old Tursunov, a semifinalist at the tournament two years ago, saved the four break points he faced and broke serve twice.
Sixth-seeded Gilles Simon of France advanced to his third straight quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-1 win against Roberto Bautista-Agut, although Simon's serve was again not at its best. Although he broke his Spanish opponent seven times, he conceded three breaks of his own.
Simon faces either No. 2 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, the defending champion, or countryman Michael Llodra in the quarters, while Tursunov plays Gilles Muller of Luxembourg.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova overpowered defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-4 Thursday to set up a semifinal against Caroline Wozniacki in the Dubai Championships.
Wozniacki, once ranked No. 1, defeated Marion Bartoli 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, capitalizing on 14 double-faults and 46 unforced errors by her opponent. Two double-faults cost Bartoli games in the second set.
Doubles specialist Roberta Vinci of Italy surprised former U.S. Open champ Sam Stosur 6-2, 6-4 in their quarterfinal. She will next face doubles partner Sara Errani, who downed Nadia Petrova of Russia 6-4, 0-6, 6-3.
Radwanska, ranked No. 4, had no answers for the big-hitting Kvitova, who neutralized her opponent with a powerful forehand.
"I think to beat Agnieszka here it means something more because she's defending champion, so she's playing well here," said Kvitova, who has a 4-1 record against the Pole. "So that's a good sign for me."
Kvitova had 38 unforced errors against Radwanska and said she would have to play better against Wozniacki.
"I am a player who is going for the winners, so I have to accept the unforced errors, too," she said. "I shoot bullets on the court next time."
Wozniacki was almost untouchable in the second set, and the third went back-and-fourth. Bartoli jumped ahead 2-0 and then Wozniacki ran off five straight games. Bartoli won two straight to make it 5-4 but Wozniacki was able to hang on and serve out the match.
Afterward, Diego Maradona, an ambassador for the Dubai Sports Council, came onto the court to give her one of his signed Argentina jerseys emblazoned with his No. 10. The Dane gave the soccer great a signed tennis racket.
"It was disappointing to lose that first set after I had been up," Wozniacki said. "But then I felt like she couldn't really do much in that second set because I was all over it."
Vinci put away Stosur, who lost in the quarterfinals in Doha last week following a second-round exit at her home Australian Open. Stosur made 28 unforced errors and was broken twice in each set.
"Way too many errors," Stosur said. "She did well to not be bothered by anything I was trying to do. She used her slice very well which kept all the points neutral."
Despite the latest setback, Stosur felt she was improving over her dismal start to the year.
"January didn't really go as well as I wanted it to. I wasn't playing up to the standard and level that I think I'm capable of," she said. "The last couple of weeks, it's gotten better. I've played many more good matches than bad."
Vinci also ousted sixth-ranked Angelique Kerber. Her coach told her to attack Stosur's backhand.
"She has an unbelievable forehand, so I tried to play against her backhand because she has a lot of problem with backhand, and try some slice and also some top when I have time," Vinci said.
Vinci said her success in doubles -- the Italian has 19 doubles titles to only seven singles -- has contributed to her resurgence in singles, where she was ranked 17th.
"In doubles, you can try something that you can play in singles," she said. "I probably play more relaxed and then I play better in the singles."
It doesn’t take much to make people hopeful about Ernests Gulbis again, does it? Coming into Rotterdam last week, everyone’s favorite lackadaisical Latvian was ranked firmly in the triple digits and had just one victory on the year. Brandishing a strange new forehand, though, Gulbis emerged from qualifying to reach the round of 16 and gave eventual champ Juan Martin del Potro a decent run for his money there. Even better, Gulbis claimed that he was going to cut back on the drinking and smoking. Fans wondered, not for the first, second, or even the third time: Was the 24-year-old Ernie, who has beaten Roger Federer and challenged Rafael Nadal on clay, and who is still the owner of a world-class serve, ready to turn things around at last?
We got our next piece of evidence today, when the 118th-ranked Gulbis faced top seed Tomas Berdych in Marseille. While Gulbis lost 6-4, 6-7 (10), 6-4, and that strange forehand failed him many, many times, this wasn’t a match that should make anyone write him off again just yet. Gulbis had upset Berdych in the first round at Wimbledon last year, and the Czech admitted today that he doesn’t like to play him: ‘You don’t know what’s going to happen,” Berdych said. Gulbis has the ability to take the racquet of a player’s hand, and Berdych, a power player himself, isn’t used to that.
What happened in the first set of this match, though, was fairly predictable. Gulbis earned two break points at 2-2, went for big forehand returns, and missed both of them. The two players then held until Gulbis was serving at 4-5. At 30-30 in that game, Gulbis drilled a backhand into the net. Down set point, he drilled a forehand into the net. What had been a close set was suddenly over.
The real surprise in this match wasn’t from the Gulbis side of the net; it was the fact that Berdych couldn’t close out the second set, and never looked comfortable on the court. After trading breaks in the middle of the set, the two went to a tiebreaker. Berdych saved two set points, only to squander three match points, one with a shank on a makeable forehand volley. Worse, he dumped a tentative forehand into the net at 10-10, and lost the set on a Gulbis forehand winner on the next point. Berdych really doesn’t like to play Gulbis; the Czech looked as tight trying to close out No. 118 as he does when he’s trying to close out one of the Big 4.
But he wasn’t tight enough to lose it. Berdych broke at 2-2 in the third, when Gulbis double-faulted and missed a forehand badly at break point. From there, Berdych held out, but it still wasn’t easy. He lost two more match points at 5-4, before kicking a nasty second serve into Gulbis’s body for the win, on his sixth match point.
Berdych advances to play the winner of Julien Benneteau and Jerzy Janowicz, and could be a tough out after surviving this one. As for Gulbis, I can’t say I like the new forehand. It involves a huge swooping motion with his left arm; by the time he gets around to swinging, he’s often on his back foot, and can look something like a tilting scarecrow as he hits.
If there’s going to be a Gulbis resurrection, it won’t be his forehand technique that leads the way. It will be, as it is for every player, how he deals with the psychological ebbs and flows of a match. Today he hung in when he was behind, saving five match points. But he didn’t deal with success all that well. He squandered his own break points, and when he finally broke Berdych at 3-3 in the second, he immediately gave his serve back. Gulbis seemed bothered by having the lead, slamming a towel to the ground and jawing with his father in the stands.
That was nothing compared to what Gulbis did with his racquet in the third set. Down a break at 3-4, he threw it to the court, watched it bounce high in the air above him, then threw it down again and shattered it. The sound was loud enough to force chair umpire Cedric Mourier to cover his ears. When Gulbis saw him do that, the two shared a laugh, a laugh that continued even as Mourier gave him a warning for racquet abuse.
Hey, maybe it’s a sign of progress: At least Gulbis cares enough these days to crush his racquet. The smash and the laugh, after all, are part of what fans like about Ernie, and why they get their hopes up about him so easily.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP)—Top-seeded David Ferrer of Spain began his defense of the Copa Claro title with a comfortable 6-4, 6-1 victory over Argentine wild card Agustin Velotti on Wednesday.
Ferrer, ranked No. 4, is a heavy favorite to win his second tournament of the season. He won in Auckland, New Zealand, last month.
The first-round match was postponed Tuesday because of rain in the Argentine capital.
Second-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain played a second-round match later against Andrey Kuznetsov. Argentines David Nalbandian and Carlos Berlocq also played later in a first-round match.
Serena Williams criticizes the tournament officials in Dubai for not handing former two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova a wild card. The tournament gave out wild cards to veteran Marion Bartoli, as well as teenagers Laura Robson and Yulia Putintseva.
Kuznetsova was off the tour for six months due to a knee injury and just returned in Australia. A three-time finalist in Dubai, she is currently ranked No. 51. Kuznetsova owns a home in Dubai and when she found out she was not getting a wild card she tweeted: “Someone can explain me the Wild Cards of Dubai??? What a choice ...”
Williams, who is friendly with Kuznetsova, told reporters there that it was tough on the Russian.
“She’s such a great player and she got injured. She’s won a couple of Grand Slams, so it’s like how can such a great player not get a wild card?" Serena said. "It’s kind of weird, but she’ll be back and then she’ll be fine, so she doesn’t have a lot to worry about. (If I were in her situation) I would request a wild card, and if I didn’t get one, I probably wouldn’t play.”
Kuznetsova qualified, but lost to Roberta Vinci, 6-3, 6-2, in the first round.
“I read what Serena said, that she wouldn't play the tournament,” Kuznetsova said. “The thing is there aren’t so many tournaments to play. I wouldn't play it, either, because I think I deserve to have a wild card. But in my situation, I just have to go through this patch. Not many players that would say just ‘I'm not gonna play.’ But there’s also a good way to look at it. That I have to still be humble. I still have to prove that I can do it and I can go through qualies.
"It's very weird, believe me, to play qualies. You're like you cannot turn yourself on, like, 'Where am I? Am I playing qualies for real?’”