Monday, August 16, 2010

Clijsters, Murray Win; Federer #2

Last week, tennis seem to officially be back after the unofficial "off season" that inevitably happens post-Wimbledon and before the premier hardcourt events in North America. The women were in Cincinnati for the Western & Southern Financial Group Open while the men battled it out in Toronto for the Rogers Cup Masters.

Despite the absences of the William sisters, Sam Stosur, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Justine Henin, the rest of the women field in Cincinnati was strong with 16 of the top 20 entered including Jelena Jankovic, Kim Clijsters, and Maria Sharapova as well as Ana Ivanovic. The latter did well relatively to her recently dismal results to reach the semifinals only to retire with injury.

In the end it was two former world no. 1s and Grand Slam winners Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters duking it out in the final. Sharapova was poised to win leading Clijsters 6-2, 5-3 but Clijsters miraculously saved a couple of championship points in that ninth game in the second set then breaking Sharapova as the Russian tried to serve out the match. Clijsters then went on to win in the tiebreak and prevail in the final set with an injured Sharapova. This was Clijsters' first tournament last year after her comeback and en route to her win at the US Open. With this win, she is now #4 in the world.

Most of the top men were in Toronto last week including the top four--Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray. They all struggled, but still reached the quarterfinals before also getting to the semifinals stage of the tournament. The last time the top four men were the last four men in the tournament was at last year's Cincinnati event with these same men, albeit with different rankings than they have now.

The final was contested between Roger Federer and defending champion Andy Murray. While Murray led their H2H, Federer has won their last three meetings. Both men had trouble with their service games, being broken a couple of times throughout the match. Federer was down two breaks in the serve and did well to get it back to 5-5. Serving for the 6-5 lead, he was broken and Murray pulled it out. The second set Federer again has his chances, but he was broken first and eventually lost 5-7, 5-7. As a finalist though, Federer is back to #2 in the world.

This week the men and women switch places. Same players, different cities. Then, for some, they will head to New York for the US Open.

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