Saturday, April 26, 2008

World's Top 4 Reach Monte Carlo Semis

Eight of the best tennis players in the world gave us a Friday to remember as they took to the claycourts of Monte Carlo to battle for a spot in the semifinals.

The day started with an all-Russian showdown between world number 4, Nikolay Davydenko and Igor Andreev, who am sure will be haunted by this match for quite some time. Andreev suffered a surely disappointing defeat to the top Russian 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 as he squandered precious leads in both the first and third sets with a string of unforced errors, handing Davydenko his 27th win of the season.

Next up on Center Court was a match we were all anticipating, yet another faceoff between world number one, Roger Federer and sixth-seeded arch-rival, David Nalbandian, who had posted back-to-back ATP Masters Series wins over the Swiss in Madrid and Paris, late last season. The first set was everything it had promised to be with both players showing some real sweet tennis as Nalbandian managed to snatch a crucial break to go up 6-5 and went on to hold serve and take the first set.

Federer stepped on court in the second set with the kind of determination that helped him maintain his top spot for the past 4 years. The 12-time Grand Slam champion wasted no time as he broke Nalbandian's serve in the opening game before the Argentine immediately broke back. Unfortunately the break didn't help Nalbandian much as Federer increased the pressure to just the right amount to trigger a series of unforced errors from the Argentine, to sail to a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 victory.

Until that point, I had no doubt that the Federer-Nalbandian first set would be the highlight of the day, but Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer proved me wrong as the all-Spanish quarterfinal was one hell of a rollercoaster ride.

Second-seeded Nadal tortured his good friend and world number 5, Ferrer, from the very start as he quickly clinched the first set 6-1. This was in fact quite a shock as we all know how good Ferrer can be on clay (he just won Valenica last week) and I was hoping to watch an intense quarterfinal, and an easy first set kind of threw me off.

A new Ferrer however showed up in the second set and he somehow found himself 2 breaks up against Nadal. Rafa was certainly in a hole but it was not one he didn't know how to climb out of. The three-time French Open champion managed to break twice to level, and pulled off a third break when Ferrer was serving to stay in the match, to finally seal a hard-fought 6-1, 7-5 victory and schedule a semifinal against Davydenko.

I didn't watch the fourth quarterfinal but as expected, world number three, Novak Djokovic, ousted the dark horse of the tournament, America's Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-0, and will next face Federer in the semis.

This means that the world's top 4 players will feature in the semifinals, a feat that only happened once before in the history of Master Series events in 1999 when Sampras, Rafter, Agassi and Kafelnikov all reached the Cincinnati semis.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Federer-Nalbandian first set was on fire!! Too bad David lost. Rafa's comeback against Ferrer is something to be taught!!! Good run for Sam Querrey in Monte Carlo. He's come a long way. The Djoker is just too good for him, nothin he could do bout dat.