Sunday, October 11, 2009

Asian Champions

TOKYO - OCTOBER 11:  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France holds the winners trophy after winning against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia in the Men's Singles Final during day seven of the Rakuten Open Tennis tournament at Ariake Colosseum on October 11, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan.
Getty

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France holds the winners trophy after winning 6-3, 6-3 against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia in the Men's Singles Final during day seven of the Rakuten Open Tennis tournament at Ariake Colosseum on October 11, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan.

Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia kisses the trophy during the award ceremony after beating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland at the women's final match of the China Open 2009, at the National Tennis Center in Beijing on October 11, 2009. Kuznetsova beat Radwanska 6-2, 6-4.
Getty

Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia kisses the trophy during the award ceremony after beating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-2, 6-4 at the women's final match of the China Open 2009, at the National Tennis Center in Beijing on October 11, 2009.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia holds aloft the trophy after winning the men's singles final against Marin Cilic of Croatia at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing October 11, 2009.
Reuters

Novak Djokovic of Serbia holds aloft the trophy after winning the men's singles final against Marin Cilic of Croatia at the China Open tennis tournament 6-2, 7-6(4) in Beijing October 11, 2009.

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I didn't watch a point of any of the finals. I couldn't change my sleep patterns for the Asian swing this year. If anyone has a match report, please post in the comments.

Thanks in advance.

15 comments:

Whole Sight said...

I don't know if this would be considered a "match report" - apologies if it's skimpy. I get up real early, like at 3:30 a.m. - which happens to be when the Djokovic/Cilic match started at 3:30 p.m. over in Bejing. So I was able to catch it start to finish.

From the early news releases, Djokovic appears to have gotten it right when he credits his greater experience & wider shot selection for the win. Early in the first set Cilic had chances to break but never quite could; after the rain delay he still had a shot at breaking, but again D. managed to hang on. That turned the match around as Cilic's 1st serve started to desert him & D. did very well on returning. D. also did well at net, showing some great touch. Many breaks on both sides in the second set, but Cilic just couldn't hold it together - I think he gets nerves, still.

The match made me think that although Cilic's win over Nadal was hugely impressive, part of the reason for that win was that Nadal plays right into Cilic's game: lots of short, high balls that let Cilic move forward and slam winners. Whereas Djokovic is better at slicing the backhand, varying the forehand also, and especially at getting depth. As a result Cilic was never able to consistently hurt D. the way he hurt Nadal.

My other thought was that as great as Cilic looks when he's on, his best game is also a high-risk game - he really goes for the lines. This is in contrast with Del Potro, who doesn't need to go for the lines w/his power - even his short balls have so much pace it's hard for opponents to handle.

But I like Cilic and hope he does well in future - he's an exciting player. It was also fun to see Djokovic handle the pressure & actually hang in there so as to be able to win the match - much more fun than his hangdog effort vs. Federer in the Open.

Helen W said...

Thank you Whole Sight -- that was most interesting.

Did you happen to see any of the Nadal - Cilic match? I'm surprised at how one-sided the score was. What happened?

Whole Sight said...

Yes, I saw the Nadal-Cilic too. Basically, Cilic was spot-on from the start - couldn't miss, especially the first set. And Nadal didn't do anything to make him uncomfortable the way Djokovic did. Nadal can't be 100 percent yet, because back when he was, he was able to keep the ball deeper than he is now. Cilic got a little uncomfortable serving toward the end of sets - nerves again - but again Nadal didn't offer any pressure to speak of even then.

If you saw Cilic-del Potro at the Open, you saw what can happen to Cilic when someone does apply pressure - he can fall apart in an instant. But I'm sure he'll get better at keeping his cool, or at least I hope he does.

charags said...

Cilic gave Djoker a very hard time; at 2-all 1st set was interrupted by rain, after which Djoker charged out super-fired. 2nd set was a pleasure to watch. By the time Djoker slammed his racquet in the 2nd set, Cilic had already won, mentally :-)

Didn't watch the Tsonga-Youzhny final, but in the semi, Monfils stood no chance against the lean and cute Tsonga!

Did catch last few games in the Kuzni-R'wanska final; glad Kuzni was moving so good, despite seeming rather plump. R'wanska stook her ground. Kuzni just couldn't score from the deuce court and R'wanska just couldn't save from the Ad-court.

They were all good matches. Fast and furious, no signs of hesitation from any player. Always on the look for a kill, taking chances, blowing some and winning some. Look out for Cilic. He didn't give Nadal any chance to play his game, hitting wide forcing Nadal to cover extra court width. Maybe Nadal couldn't cover the court as fast as he usually does. Or maybe, Cilic did play better.

Graf_sampras said...

the significant matches i managed to get online visually were:

semis of
Cilic/Nadal
Djokovic/Soderling

finals of Tsonga/Youzhny


the rest just livescore, off and on..

I was impressed with the djoko/soderling..soderling hit the big shots he usually makes, even moved quite well and tried to punish Djoko's Forehand often...but in the end Djoko was the better player.

I was impressed with Cilic having such an easy time with Rafa...rafa simply wasn't AS good that day, although he played almost as well as in his quarters (which i also caught).

Tsonga was most impressive to me, over-all. the ball kept "TWHACK-ing" with a real POP from his racket all match...and youzhny played quite well by HIS usual standards - but simply was no match for Tsonga who seemed almost like a giant in his playing in contrast..75% first serves , second serves STILL sharp set-ups..and the usual very athletic , power/finesse game.

I read somewhere that -- the French tennis federation being very "clinical" in everything they do - measuring just about anything that can be "measured"...with all sorts of very latest technologies ...

had "test conclusions" - such as in "eye-hand" coordination, "movement recognition by the eye"..."hearing",,,,"reflex"..."muscle twitch"...

and that of all players today -Tsonga is about the "closest" to the perfect player.

Graf_sampras said...

oh - and yea -- CILIC played a game that was simply, QUICKER than normal nowadays..i mean - not the "running" to the ball..like nadal or others do ...

but a QUICK game..no hesitations to go for winners after a couple of shots...or in rallies, the first sign of a chance - just killing the ball...no dilly-dallying.

especially the first set.

Beverly said...

Rafa was totally off his game. He made tons of unforced errors and gave Cilic one short, high ball after another, not to mention being frozen on so many of Cilic's serves. In contrast, Djokovic allowed Cilic only one ace. Rafa's serve also was lacking - don't know if it's because he's had to retool it to protect his injured abdominal muscle. Even playing as badly as he did he still had some chances but blew them all with horrendous playing. Cilic was never under pressure and never missed, unlike the way he was missing when he had some pressure from Djokovic. He was making some mistakes even when he had Djokovic under fire.

Either Rafa has sustained a serious loss in capacity due to his injuries (movement, serve and accuracy of his own groundstrokes are way off) or he is still very very rusty and needs more time to get back into a good rhythm.He is also much more erratic, playing a good match and then horribly in the next match.

One has to hope that he gets back to full physical form for next year but he is definitely not in a groove yet, whatever the cause.

Graf_sampras said...

one thing is sure:

RAFA will NEVER have a CHANCE to "remind" everyone the tennis world ....that

"I had MONO since 2006"....

although of course Rafa LOST his number one and failed to defend his Wimbledon and FO....and not really because of Mono....

Helen W said...

I watched most of the Rafa -- Safin match and Rafa seemed to be playing pretty well. He seemed to be moving well and not hitting many short balls.

I suspect that long injury time-outs he has endured have affected his concentration and consistency -- his mentality as he might describe it.

HoiHa said...

I agree with both Whole Sight and Beverly - got to see most of the ATP Beijing matches (this is the only time tennis is my time zone - hurrah - but only the men - women don't get TV coverage around here unless it's a slam event).

Cilic played lights out tennis in that first set against Rafa - he went for broke, agressive, and his serve was firing in a frightening way. There was nothing Rafa could do - in fact I don't think there was anything anybody could have done except wait it out cause I knew he would have to go off the boil at some point. And Cilic's level did indeed drop in the second set - problem was Rafa looked far from sharp in that second set - his serve was terrible and he was hitting short balls that Cilic, even though off the boil, was fully able to take advantage of - it looked like Rafa on hardcourts circa 2007.

I think a fit Rafa would have just waited out Cilic and then have been able to pull it out in the
2nd and 3rd sets - but this Rafa looks terribly out of sorts to me. As mentioned the serve is not firing at all, which might be the injuries - both the knee and stomach tear made pushing off on his serve problematic. But it's more than that - he is truly rusty - his timing is off, his transition from defense to offense is not there.

I think its rust - his court instincts have deserted him so his anticipation is slow.

I am not really worried about it as this was only his fourth tourney since the French. I think the problem for Rafa is that he is such a momentum player - he needs to play a lot to get his rythme and instincts sharp - I think that's why he does play so much. But we all know what that does to his body - he's got to find the right balance though or else he is going to struggle.

In the final Cilic was not playing at the same level he was against Rafa - he played well but not with the same intensity and his serve was nowhere near as lethal. And Novak played him very well ...

Novak looked good - he still clearly has issues in terms of tightening up in crucial moments - but his shot selection was excellent, he looked fit (playing a very polluted Beijing) and if he gains in confidence from this win he will be tough to handle for the rest of the season.

Shanghai should be interesting.

Graf_sampras said...

Helen W said...

I watched most of the Rafa -- Safin match and Rafa seemed to be playing pretty well. He seemed to be moving well and not hitting many short balls.

I suspect that long injury time-outs he has endured have affected his concentration and consistency -- his mentality as he might describe it.

Sun Oct 11, 09:24:00 PM


==========

I also think that. it's more the concentration that he usually has - and it's probably right that the "timeout" - the concern in playing himself through a tournament - as well as probably some lingering effect of his parents' divorce...also having lost his top ranking, the titles..these have to have SOME effect on what is usually a "razor-sharp" concentration intensity.

of course a lot of it also has to do with the opponent....del potro DID play well enough to probably beat anyone in their USO match...

CILIC has a very good game that can be uncomfortable for Rafa...

and as we all know...rafa doesn't usually get beaten as easily as cilic dealt him.

but on the whole - this was still a VERY good year for rafael, despite the huge losses.

any other player - he'd be happy.

Graf_sampras said...

Tennis | Shanghai Masters Time Match
06:00 Qualifier 3 v Qualifier 4
07:00 Blake v Karlovic
07:00 Qualifier 2 v Robredo
07:30 Qualifier 1 v Petzschner
09:00 Gasquet v Ferrer
09:00 Qualifier 5 v Wawrinka
09:30 Qualifier 6 v Qualifier 7
11:00 Zverev v Gonzalez
11:00 Stepanek v Ferrero
13:00 Mao Xin v Safin

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Graf_sampras said...

"I like the tournament very much, especially that the prize money is higher than the men's, I think we deserve it," said the 24-year-old Kuznetsova, who will pocket a cheque for $775,500 (£490,123).

Craig Hickman said...

Sveta sounds a bit misguided here. Beijing is a WTA premier/mandatory event, equivalent in stature to the Shanghai Masters. For the ATP, Beijing is a step down from there.