Friday, October 31, 2008

Paris Masters: Tsonga on a Roll, Murray's Streak Halted

* Jo-Wilfried Tsonga continued his great run at the Paris Masters as he followed his win over Novak Djokovic, with a 3-set victory over Masters Cup qualifier, Andy Roddick.

"I really played beautiful matches. Things are happening during those matches. There's a lot of intensity, sometimes frustration, sometimes a lot of joy, and I love tennis like that... I think players are trying to find a solution against me, and lately they've been playing a lot on my backhand. For me, the more they hit on my backhand the more my backhand improves, thanks to them. It's just the fact that I play more backhands so it becomes better."

* Roddick, became the 6th man to qualify to the Masters Cup in Shanghai. The former world number one, who has a sole Grand Slam title from back in 2003, is one of the most consistent active players on tour despite his Grand Slam drought.

"It's always an honor to qualify... I think this is six straight years, so that's a good accomplishment. They put on a great event there, so I'm looking forward to it... It shows consistency. A lot of times people dip down for a year or two and then kind of get back. So it's been a solid process, but I think I've gone about it the right way and picking and choosing my spots. I think that's helped me be ready or at least want to compete every time I go out on the court, and I think that many years is just a testament to being ready to compete maybe more than anything."

* Defending champion in Paris, David Nalbandian, is on course for clinching a Shanghai spot although he might not go, even if he makes it, as he wishes to focus on the Davis Cup final tie in Argentina. The Argentine ended Andy Murray's 14-match winning streak by ousting the Scot in straight sets in the quarters on Friday.

"It's not my goal. I'm not thinking about Shanghai because we have the Davis Cup right after, so that's why."

* The top 2 seeds, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, both pulled out of their quarterfinal matches with injuries, handing their opponents, Nikolay Davydenko and James Blake, safe passage to the semis.

"I had some pain in the knee yesterday. I felt the pain a lot when I woke up this morning... When I push [on my knee] I feel a sharp pain," said Rafa about his injury.

When asked whether he was concerned about being fit for Shanghai, the world number 1 said:

"For sure. Hopefully it will be fine ... [but] I don't know... With this pain maybe [I will go to Shanghai] a little later. I don't know, it depends."

Federer was forced to pull out with a back problem. The world number 2 said:

"I've had a lot of back pain over all the years of playing tennis, so it's not like the first time. It's just the first time it's acute during a tournament and it makes me pull out. I'll check it out for the next few days."

"The flight is scheduled for Monday. I hope I can recover otherwise I'll postpone that. I'm confident and I'm positive that hopefully it's going to get better in the next few days."

"I can't take a chance over a back, so I just want to play it safe and then hopefully be fine for Shanghai again."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Shanghai Contenders Watch: Blake, Roddick Stumble

The semis have been decided in this week's tourneys in Basel, Lyon and St. Petersburg, and many seeds have stumbled along the way.

Andy Roddick (no. 6 in the race) failed to clinch a Masters Cup berth in Lyon, as he fell to Sweden's Robin Soderling 7-6, 7-6 in the quarterfinals on Friday. The American will have to wait till next week's Masters Series in Paris to try to seal the deal.

"He played better than me in the rallies but this was a good preparation for Bercy... It's a long season... Whoever tells you he's not tired is lying,"
said Roddick after his loss.

James Blake (no. 10 in the race) also succumbed to a similar fate when he lost to Spain's Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 7-6, in the Basel quarterfinals on Friday. Blake is now 31 points behind 9th placed Gilles Simon.

Meanwhile, Simon managed to increase his chances of grabbing a Masters Cup berth when he reached the Lyon semifinals by defeating fellow Frenchman Josselin Ouanna 6-3, 7-5 on Friday. Simon can move within 3 points of 6th-placed Roddick if wins the title in Lyon this week.

Also still alive in this week's action is 8th-placed Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentine, who is having an incredible season, ousted Igor Andreev 6-4, 7-5 in the Basel quarterfinals and will next face his compatriot, David Nalbandian, in a repeat of last week's Madrid quarterfinal, where Del Potro demolished Nalbandian. Del Potro has now won 35 out of his last 38 matches and is 15 race points behind Roddick.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who started the week at number 13 in the race, beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in the Lyon quarterfinals, to set up a semfinal against Julien Benneteau (OK Benneteau's quarterfinal match isn't over yet, but he's up 6-3, 4-1, so I assume he's gonna win).

Fernando Verdasco also still has a chance to add some race points to his tally as he reached the semifinals in St. Petersburg where he faces top seed, Andy Murray, on Saturday. Murray beat Verdasco in the final of St. Petersburg last year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Shanghai Contenders Watch: Wawrinka Crashes Out, The Rest All Advance

After Nikolay Davydenko snatched the 5th qualifying ticket to the year-end Masters Cup in Shanghai, the fight for the remaining 3 spots has just gone wild, with only 2 weeks of playing time to go.

Who is playing where?

Number 6 in the race is Andy Roddick, who secured passage to the second round in Lyon on Tuesday after defeating home favorite, Nicolas Mahut. His next opponent is his fellow American, Robby Ginepri. Roddick believes his chances for qualifying for his 5th Masters Cup are pretty good. The former world number 1 made it to the semis in Shanghai last year, where he lost to David Ferrer.

"I'm in a good position to go to Shanghai but you never know what can happen behind me... Before the last tournament in Paris (next week), I prefer to have all the cards in my hands."

Currently occupying spot number 7 is 2007 Shanghai finalist, David Ferrer. Ferrer is taking a break this week and will have to secure his place in the Shanghai field in the Paris Masters next week.

Juan Martin Del Potro is holding tight to the number 8 position. The Argentine hot shot eased through his first round match on Tuesday against George Bastl in Basel. Next up for Del Potro is another Swiss, Stephane Bohli.

Last week's surprise finalist at the Madrid Masters, Gilles Simon, soared to number 9 in the race and will be looking to add to his tally in Lyon this week. The Frenchman starts his campaign against Argentina's Juan Monaco on Wednesday.

James Blake is at number 10, and he's playing in Basel this week. His opening match is against Nicolas Kiefer.

Number 11, Stanislas Wawrinka, suffered a setback in his qualifying quest when he failed to progress to the second round on home soil in Basel. The Swiss fell to Benjamin Becker 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5), squandering 2 match points on the way.

Other contenders in action this week include Aussie Open finalist, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who advanced to the second round in Lyon and Spain's Fernando Verdasco, whose hopes are also still alive in St. Petersburg.

Number 17, David Nalbandian, had previously expressed his disinterest in qualifying for the Masters Cup this year, and stated that he wishes to focus on the Davis Cup final.

"The jet-lag from China to Argentina is terrible... I'm not thinking about qualifying for Shanghai. We have a chance to win the Davis Cup and that's what I'm concentrating on. That's what I'm worrying about now."

FOOTBALL: Alan Shearer on Amr Zaki

Courtesy of Soufy :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

'Adios Madrid' for Both Rafa and Federer

The top two seeds in Madrid, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, have taken their leave as they both suffered close defeats to their opponents in the semifinals on Saturday.

Federer stumbled 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to world number 4, Andy Murray, who was firing 210+ km/hr serves throughout the match.

The young Scot, who fell to Federer in the US Open final last month, is now 3-2 against the Swiss.

Murray, who will be bidding for his second Masters Series shield of the season (won Cincinnati in August) next faces unseeded Frenchman, Gilles Simon, who delivered a major upset to home favorite and world number 1, Nadal.

Simon edged the Spaniard 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (8-6) with a dramatic ending to the final set tie-break, when the Frenchman challenged a ball from Nadal that was called in, but was then proven long by the hawk-eye system, giving Simon the game, the set and the match.

Despite the defeat, Nadal will leave Madrid a happy man, as he has secured the year-end number 1 ranking after Federer failed to defend his points from a final showing last year.

Simon and Murray are tied at 1-1 head-to-head, where Murray has won their most recent meeting this year on clay.

Simon, who is currently ranked number 16 in the world, has now joined an exclusive club of players who have posted victories over the world's top 3, Nadal (Madrid semis), Federer (Toronto 2nd round) and Novak Djokovic (Marseille 2nd round), all in the same season.

FOOTBALL: Zaki Scores Twice in Anfield as Wigan Fall to Liverpool

Liverpool avoided a near-defeat to Wigan Athletic in Anfield when two late goals from Albert Riera and Dirk Kuyt gave the Reds a 3-2 win over the Latics.

Egyptian macho-man, Amr Zaki, scored the brace for Wigan, who were ahead 2-1 until the 75th minute when Antonio Valenica received a red card, for a second booking.

Liverpool then took advantage of 10-man Wigan and managed to secure the 3 points.

Zaki's second goal of the match, his 7th in 6 Premier League matches, was a scintillating side-kick that opted the ESPN commentator to say:

"You won't see a better finish anywhere, than this."

Kuyt's second goal that came 5 minutes from time was described by Eurosport's Alex Chick as:

"Kuyt attempted a Zaki-esque volley from a Jermaine Pennant cross."

Derick Alsop of the Telegraph said of the 25-year-old Egyptian:

"... a striker with the muscular presence and finishing appetite to exploit any frailty or half-chance."

We gotta all agree with Liverpool legend, Alan Hansen, when he said that:

"The Egyptian has got to go down as the find of the season."

Zaki is now leading the Premier League top scorer's list with 7 goals, 2 goals ahead of second placed Jermaine Defoe and Fernando Torres.

Zaki's second goal against Liverpool

Friday, October 17, 2008

Madrid Masters: Djoko, Roddick, Nalbandian Crash out of Last-16

The last 8 spots have been claimed at the Madrid Masters on Thursday, after a day of some pretty cool tennis. One might say the day was packed with upsets, but I wouldn't call them "upsets" per se. I mean yes, Wawrinka, Roddick, Nalbandian and Djokovic all fell to lower seeded players but if you take a closer look at who they were up against, I'd say they were just outmatched!

Yet Another 7-6,7-6 win for Karlovic

Third-seeded Djokovic was sent packing as he suffered a tight defeat to Croatian giant, Ivo Karlovic. As most Karlovic matches go, this one saw no service breaks and it all came down to just a few important points in each tie-break to settle the match in Karlovic's favor.

Djokovic couldn't deal with the Croat's serving stampede which was accentuated with the fast surface in Madrid. Djokovic didn't struggle on serve, he just couldn't break Karlovic and seemed to lack any creativity to retaliate.

Next up for Karlovic is Frenchman, Gilles Simon, who beat Robby Ginepri for a spot in the quarters.

Federer Eases Past Tsonga

Second seed, Roger Federer, continued his almost hopeless quest for recapturing the number 1 spot in the rankings, when he easily dispatched Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. We all expected more from the Australian Open finalist, even Federer said so himself:

"It got easier for me as the match went on. It is the first time I have played him and I had expected it to be much harder."

"I don´t think Tsonga could show what he normally can, today, I couldn`t either because conditions are so quick that there are hardly any rallies if you serve well... so it´s hard to judge your own game."

Next up for Fed is the ever-impressive, Juan Martin Del Potro.

Del Potro Victorious in the Battle of the Argentines

The short version of this story is what David Nalbandian said after his 6-4, 6-2 defeat to his 9th-seeded compatriot Del Potro:

"He played very well, was very solid. I started both sets badly. He took advantage and maintained it throughout the match."

Nice and Precise!!

Del Potro was on fire and outclassed his Davis Cup teammate and the tournament's 7th seed in every possible way. It looks like Del Potro will be the number 1 Argentine real soon.

Rafa Posts Another Win Over Gasquet

Top seed, Rafael Nadal, showed a more convincing display on Thursday against 15th-seed, Richard Gasquet, than he did in his opening match against Ernests Gulbis. Nadal posted a 6-4, 6-2 win over the Frenchman, who was not as ruthless as he normally is with his backhand.

Next up for Rafa is his close friend and countryman, Feliciano Lopez.

"Feliciano is a very awkward opponent on all surfaces; he has got a great first and second serve and that stops you from playing comfortably. Besides, he approaches the net a lot when he is playing aggressively and he is very dangerous. Here at altitude, even though it is indoors and it doesn´t have that much of an effect, the court is fast. It´s going to be difficult to win."

Lopez is the kind of player who every once in a while, has a good run to the final of a tournament - which is normally on a fast surface - yet fails to nail the title at the end. Like Rafa said, he has a good serve and plays well at the net, and when it's going for him, he is pretty dangerous, especially on indoor carpet.

Lopez seems to be enjoying playing at home as well; as his list of seeded victims this tournament has grown to include David Ferrer and Stanislas Wawrinka.

Monfils Ousts Roddick, Murray Edges Past Cilic

French showman, Gael Monfils, eliminated 8th-seeded Andy Roddick to book a quarterfinal meeting with 4th-seeded Andy Murray.

"I just felt a little out of it [mentally] which is not the norm and makes it a bit frustrating," said Roddick.

Monfils is on a bit of a revival run especially after his runner-up showing in Vienna last week. He ousted Fernando Gonzalez before doing the same to Roddick and his next match will be a tricky one.

Murray struggled past Croatian up-and-comer, Marin Cilic, to eventually come through 7-5, 7-6. The young Scot handled the match well as he managed to save the first set when Cilic was serving for it at 5-4, and went on to win the match in straight sets.

Murray and Monfils are 1-1 head-to-head. This match promises to be a good one!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nadal Overcomes Gulbis Threat; Faces Gasquet Next

Nadal endured a tough fightback from Ernests Gulbis, to edge past the Latvian youngster 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, and book a third round meeting against 15th-seed, Richard Gasquet.

Here's what Rafa said after his second round match:

"The entire match was very tough...He played very aggressive. You can't get the rhythm during the whole match. His balls were coming very fast; you go behind the line and it's difficult to come back inside. When he's serving, his second serve is very fast too, so it's very difficult."

"Gulbis is young with a great future ahead of him... He fought back well in the second set, winning the important games. I pulled out my best game when I had to...It was tough to attack him, and this was my first match in a few weeks so I have things to improve."

*Side note: Anyone know why Ernests Gulbis from Latvia, could possibly be referred to as "Lithuanian" ?!?! See the snapshot below from the Eurosport website:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nadal to Open Madrid Campaign Against Gulbis

World number one, Rafael Nadal, will be making his return to the circuit for the first time since his US Open semifinal exit, when he takes to the courts of the Madrid Masters on Tuesday, to face up-and-coming Latvian, Ernests Gulbis, in the second round action.

This is a particularly special tournament for Rafa and am not just referring to the Hugo Boss models. Rafa received the ATP no. 1 ranking trophy on Sunday on Pista Central and he also has the chance to secure the year-end no.1 ranking if he reaches the final.

Rafa and Gulbis' sole previous meeting came in Wimbledon this year where the world number 54, took Rafa to 4 sets.

Gulbis, who reached the French Open quarterfinals earlier this year, reached a career high of 38 in the rankings back in August after an impressive quarterfinal run in Cincinatti, but hasn't capitalized on that effort as he failed to surpass the second round at any event ever since.

Nadal, who won the Madrid shield in 2005 after trailing Ivan Ljubicic 2 sets to love, made it to the quarters last year where he was crushed by David Nalbandian 6-1, 6-2.

Rafa won his first doubles match with fellow Mallorcan, Carlos Moya, against Americans James Blake and Mardy Fish on Monday.

Other action on Tuesday includes:

James Blake vs. Gilles Simon
Andy Murray vs. Simone Bolelli
Fernando Verdasco vs. Marin Cilic

Photo Credits:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

JJ Makes it Three in a Row, Holds on Tighter to No. 1 Ranking

World number 1, Jelena Jankovic, continued her recent bulldozing run on the WTA tour, as she defeated home favorite, Vera Zvonareva, 6-2, 6-4, in the Kremlin Cup final on Sunday, to win her third straight title in 3 weeks and stretch her lead at the top of the rankings.

JJ is proving she is worthy of her position at the summit despite everyone's reservations about a number 1 player who doesn't have a Grand Slam title to her name. I honestly don't know why people are speculating so much about JJ. They're attributing her success to the fact that she plays a lot of matches... like that's a bad thing!!!?!?!?!

Glitter, splits and the occasional theatrics aside; I am totally for JJ being number 1 right now. I mean who else deserves it?! We all need to face the fact that there is no longer a Justine Henin in the play field, and the remaining players have either already "been there, done that" (the Williams Sisters, Sharapova...etc...) or are building towards being dominant players and future Grand Slam stars.

If Serena manages to pull it off with another title win before the year ends, then maybe she deserves it, but Serena's post-US Open season has not been successful so far.

Ana Ivanovic is suffering a dismal losing streak and has dropped to number 5 in the rankings, while Olympic champion, Elena Dementieva, is not as dominant as she needs to be, despite her two Grand Slam semifinal showings this year.

Dinara Safina, currently ranked number 3, is having a breakthrough season, winning 4 titles, and reaching the French Open final and the US Open semis, but up until May (when she won Berlin), she had a relatively bad season where she reached a few quarters but mainly lost in the first, second or third rounds in most events. Safina's second half of the season was way more impressive, particularly her back-to-back titles in LA and Montreal followed by a runner-up showing at the Olympics. Still, she needs to do something special in the coming couple of weeks to outshine JJ.

Meanwhile, JJ, who struggled through injuries the first part of the season, has reached the semifinals at the Australian Open and the French Open, as well as a final appearance at the US Open and a title in Rome. To top it off, she is sealing her season with 3 back-to-back title wins in Beijing, Stuttgart and Moscow, where she posted victories over fellow top 10 players like Venus Williams, Svetlana Kutznetsova, Zvonareva and Dementieva.

JJ has proven she can play well throughout the entire year regardless the surface or the opposition. She fought boldly against Serena in the US Open final and just tries to hit back every ball. She has the mental strength to turn around near-defeats and the fact that she's grabbing points left and right because she's always playing is something to be considered in her favor not to be held against her. If she's playing a lot and winning a lot, then what exactly is wrong with that? Others are either not fit enough to play as much or are just losing early and not getting enough match practice, but the end result is, JJ is outperforming most of them and it's only a matter of time till she captures that elusive Grand Slam title.

JJ will be appearing in Zurich next, before she rests ahead of the season-ending championships in Doha.

Yet Another Title Miss for Safin...

Former world number one, Marat Safin, stumbled to a 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 defeat to his compatriot, Igor Kunitsyn, in the Kremlin Cup final on Sunday.

Safin was featuring in his second final in Moscow; the first was 2 years ago when he lost to Nikolay Davydenko.

The 28-year-old stud, who is suffering a severe title drought (his last being the 2005 Aussie Open) failed to capitalize on his good run this week which saw him shock world number 5, Davydenko, in the quarters before falling to 71st-ranked Kunitsyn, whose victory gave him his maiden ATP title.

Perhaps the walkover Safin received in the semifinals when his opponent, Mischa Zverev, withdrew from their match, was not very beneficial to the Russian, or maybe Kunitsyn was on a roll that just couldn't be stopped, but am sure Safin knows that he missed a huge opportunity to clinch a much-longed-for title.

"Everybody knows Marat is better than me but today I'm the winner... It's terrific to win my first title in front of my home fans and I hope I would be able to defend it here next year."

This is beyond my wildest dreams."

"I was chasing him all the time. I could not capitalise on my chances but he converted every time he had a chance and didn't make many mistakes... There's no surprise he won."

"I have only myself to blame... If I had won the first set, it would have been a different story but he gained confidence as the match went on, played well in the end and deserved his victory."

Safin withdrew from the Madrid Masters with a shoulder injury. His last resort for winning a title would be in Paris where he has enjoyed a threesome of titles in 2000, 2002 and 2004.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

JJ Through to Moscow Final, Safin Edges Davydenko to Reach Semis

Reigning world number 1, Jelena Jankovic, reached her third straight final when she ousted third-seeded Elena Dementieva in the Kremlin Cup semifinals on Saturday.

Jankovic overcame a miserable start to her match to notch a 0-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory over the no-longer defending champion. I bet Dementieva didn't see that coming after grabbing that bagel in the first set.

Jankovic now leads their head-to-head record 6-3.

Meanwhile, Marat Safin ended a 4-match losing streak to his compatriot and Davis Cup buddy, Nikolay Davydenko, when he edged past the two-time defending champion, 7-6,4-6, 6-4, to reach his second semifinal of the season.

Safin, who made a surprise run to this year's Wimbledon semfinals, has not won a title since his Australian Open triumph back in 2005.

The former world number one next faces Germany's Mischa Zverev, who beat rising Serb Viktor Troicki in 3 sets.

I think if Safin were to ever have a good chance of winning a title, it should be this one; especially that he's playing at home and the remaining players in the field are Zverev, Fabrice Santoro (come on he's 36) and Igor Kunitsyn (lost 3 times to Safin).

Thursday, October 9, 2008

FOOTBALL: Wondering why Capello ditched Owen again...?

Well so are these people...

Examining England's strike force of Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Emile Heskey, BBC Sport expert Alan Hansen said:

"If you look at the four forwards in there and take Wayne Rooney out of the equation, Michael Owen is better than the other three."

Another BBC Sport expert, Mark Lawrenson, said:

"If England need a goal with 20 minutes to go in one of the two games, surely you would want Owen on the bench."

ESPN's Soccernet Fifth Official was just as confused when he wrote:

"Just what is it about Michael Owen that Fabio Capello
doesn't like? Is it cos he's tiny? Is it cos he plays for Newcastle? Is it cos he's England's all-time fourth highest scorer with 36 goals in 78 games? Is it cos he's scored five goals in eight games so far this season for Newcastle United? Is it cos he left Real Madrid after just one season? Is it cos he likes a flutter on the gee gee's? Is it cos he's been just about the only bright spark at all in Newcastle's tragic season so far? Is it cos he responds well under pressure? Is it cos he's a bit too boring? Is it cos he likes Kevin Keegan? Is it cos he used to helicopter into training on Tyneside? Is it cos he doesn't speak Italian?

Well, then I've absolutely no idea why it is then. Maybe because Peter Crouch is better?"

Phil McNulty of BBC Sport joined the others stating that:

"England are not so blessed with attacking riches that they can leave their most reliable goalscorer at home. Time will tell if Capello simply wants to see more from Owen or that he just does not fit his bill."

A poll on the Eurosport website asking people whether Michael Owen should have been named in the squad to face Kazakhstan and Belarus, showed a 57% vote against Capello's decision in discarding the player.

Capello's point is:

"A player has to do more than just score goals. To not play for 89 minutes and then score a goal is not enough."

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Comedy Spots: Early Doors' Take on Tottenham's Season

Given Tottenham's horrendous season so far which was topped by a home loss to Hull last weekend, Early Doors dedicated a post to the Spurs' dismal position in the Premier League.

Many tabloids have discussed the fact that this is Tottenham's worst season since 1912, the same year the Titanic sank, which gave way to Early Doors' very own version of Titanic's "My Heart Will Go On". They also suggested we sing along:

Every week in London, we watch you, you're woeful
This is how our season goes on...

Right across the back four, there's space in between us
Even Hull can beat us at home...

Hoddle, Carr, wherever you are
I believe that these Spurs can't go on...

Woody, Cor, you open the door
And we're leaking in goals, and come May we'll be gone, gone, gone...

Juande came to save us from smug Gunners banter
Spain is much cooler than France...

But Bentley, Bent - and look what we've spent
You are not Jimmy Greaves or Ossie...
We're poor, and what's more, we're struggling to score
And we're sinking so fast, that come May we'll be gone, gone, gone...

Priceless!!!! :D

Sunday, October 5, 2008

JJ in Red Triumphs in Stuttgart

Jelena Jankovic beat Nadia Petrova 6-4, 6-3 in the Stuttgart final on Sunday, to win her second straight title and recapture the number 1 spot in the world rankings after Serena Williams conceded her reign when she fell to Li Na in the second round.

Always dressed for the occasion, a red-clad JJ paraded on court in a red Porsche Carrera, which she could choose to take home instead of her prize money.

So a number 1 ranking and a red Porsche as the cherry on the top... Not bad JJ!!

Week Wrap-Up: Berdych, Tursunov Grab Titles, Federer Out of Stockholm

World number 32, Dmitry Tursunov, beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 in the Metz final on Sunday to capture his second title of the season (won Sydney beginning of the year).

"In the second set he had a lot of chances to attack my second serve and he was successful in doing that," said Tursunov. "As I was two breaks down, Paul-Henri was playing with a lot of confidence. Today there wasn't a big difference. I can't say that I was better than him. He could have broken me as well in the third set."

Across the globe in Tokyo, former world number 9, Tomas Berdych, who won a doubles title partnering Tursunov earlier this year in Rotterdam, captured his first singles trophy of the season by defeating the freshest addition to the world's top 10, Juan Martin Del Potro, 6-1, 6-4.

Del Potro took a timeout to take some medicine for his stomach during the match but the hot-shot Argentine said that Berdych's game was the main reason he lost.

"It was very tough for me," said Del Potro, who is now number 9 in both the ATP rankings and the ATP Race.
"He played unbelievably today, I didn't have chance to do anything. I didn't feel well during the match but I think it was more to do with how well he played. But I had a great tournament anyway, so I'm sad because I lost today but I have to be happy for the week."

"If someone had told me before the match (how I would control the play from the start) I wouldn't have believed it because I saw Juan Martin playing his earlier matches and he was in really good shape, playing well," admitted Berdych.

"Today I think he had a little bit of bad luck and I think he didn't feel well on the court from the beginning. But I think in the second set was getting pretty close and I'm very happy that I finished it the way I did."

Meanwhile, world number 2, Roger Federer (it still feels really weird saying that), announced last Wednesday that he won't be playing in Stockholm due to fatigue.

"2008 has been a tough year for me as I was always playing catch up after being diagnosed with mononucleosis at the beginning of the year. I feel fortunate to be healthy again, but I want to remain at the top of the game for many more years to come and go after the #1 ranking again. In order to do that, I need to get a proper rest and get strong again so that I am 100% fit for the remainder of the year or next year."