We're back and ready for action after a week absence, but it's not to worry. Tennis updates are back! Following some intense play from Memphis, we have some new champions to crown and some awards to give out.
First, a little business. Three tournaments were held last week, none bigger than the Memphis 500 (no, that isn't a NASCAR event). Also, the final ATP 250 series on red clay of the three-week span was held from Buenos Aires.
Marseille also held it's annual ATP 250 event, the Open 13. How original. Can we just get to Indian Wells already?
Anyway. Some awards
The Jackrabbit Award: Pablo Cuevas, Uruguay. The 23-year-old Cuevas had a stellar month on clay bouncing him from 171st to 134th. That's 37 spots, sir! Boing, boing, boing.
The Howitzer Award: Andy Roddick, USA. Roddick deposited 66 aces en route to a second championship in Memphis, including 20 A-bombs against poor Steve Darcis. Can you hear the thunder?
The Robin Soderling Award: Martin Vassallo Arguello, Argentina. This pest has annoyed players on clay all month long, earning him his first Robin Soderling Award. He has harrassed the likes of Almagro, Monaco and Montanes, and will look to do more damage in Acapulco. Watch out Nalbandian and Navarro, you're next!
The Sunrise Retirement Home Award: Juan Carlos Ferrero, Spain. Ferrero pulled out the white flag after being utterly dominated by David Nalbandian, 6-3, 3-0. Good news, Juan Carlos. They've got just the spot for you, complete with a great view. Happy retirement!
Marseille Open 13
- Champion: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France
- Runner-Up: Michael Llodra, France
- Semi-Finalists: Novak Djokovic, Serbia and Gilles Simon, France
- Surface: Hard courts, indoors
- Level: ATP 250
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga continued his excellent start to 2009 with yet another tournament victory. After a quarterfinal exit at the Australian Open, he has won two tournaments (Johannesburg and Marseille) in addition to a quality three-set loss to Rafael Nadal in Rotterdam.
Tsonga defeated fellow Frenchman Michael Llodra, 7-5, 7-6 in impressive fashion, dominating on serve as he did throughout the tournament. Although Llodra also served well for most of the match, he committed the majority of his five double faults in pressure situations.
Tsonga, who is now 19-3 on the year, has now won four career ATP titles and has shown very good signs of what to expect coming up. Llodra on the other hand, has his best tournament of the year. After going through qualifying, he knocked off Paul-Henri Mathieu, Mikhail Youzhny and Gilles Simon to advance to the finals.
Not bad for a guy who was dismissed in the first round of the Australian Open by 195th-ranked Xavier Malisse.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's victory over Feliciano Lopez in the quarterfinals. Tsonga had to work a little harder than what he would have liked in a 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 victory over the Spaniard.
It quickly became a shootout, with both players tallying a total of 29 aces in the hour and 45 minute match.
Tsonga was shooting to kill as he fired 18 aces, no double faults and won an unreal 81 percent of the points on his first serve. However, Lopez was right with him the entire match, also winning a high percentage of service points.
It wasn't as much an upset as it was a disappointment, with third-seeded Gael Monfils looking to put on a show on his home soil. However, he bowed out in a three set first-round match to Paul-Henri Mathieu, 4-6, 6-4, 5-7. Monfils, despite serving well, could not out-do Mathieu, who saved 10 of 11 break-point chances.
Mathieu, who has been a disappointment in his own right thus far (a mere 8-6 in 2009), quickly folded in the next round to Michael Llodra. After a promising start in Brisbane, reaching the semifinals, Mathieu's season has fallen apart.
Memphis Region Morgan Keegan Championships
- Champion: Andy Roddick, USA
- Runner-Up: Radek Stepanek, Czech Republic
- Semi-Finalists: Lleyton Hewitt, Australia and Dudi Sela, Israel
- Surface: Hard courts, outdoors
- Level: ATP 500
1st-ranked Andy Roddick did not disappoint as he bombed Czech Radek Stepanek, 7-5, 7-5. Roddick played a controlled game, only dropping serve once despite serving a slightly below average game (only eight aces and 67 percent on first serves).
Stepanek hung around in the match however, never giving up.
Roddick successfully avenged his semi-final loss to Stepanek in San Jose a week ago. However, Roddick has gotten off to a extremely good start, advancing to at least the semi-finals in every tournament he has entered, including a very impressive result at the Australian Open.
The 30 year old Czech hasn't had a poor season either. In fact, quite the opposite. He has a 16-3 mark in 2009 with two titles won already, San Jose and Brisbane, to double his career number.
Andy Roddick defeats Lleyton Hewitt in the semi-finals. The old rivals were at it again, this time Roddick winning 2-6, 7-6, 6-4. Hewitt had struggled previously, sinking all the way down to 103rd in the world and suffering a first round exit from his home tournament, the Australian Open.
But he seemed perfectly comfortable to slug it out with Roddick, both players hammering aces all day long. Hewitt was only broken once in the match, but unfortunately for him, it was at the worst possible time in the third set.
Two. James Blake and Robin Soderling falling in the first round. Blake, who was undone by none other than Lleyton Hewitt, played a terrible match. He only broke Hewitt once and couldn't touch his first serve after the first set.
Blake, who won the first set comfortably, fell apart afterwards, losing the next two 6-1, 6-4.
Soderling, who came in as the fourth seed, had no answers for Florent Serra. The Frenchman was on top of his game all afternoon and Soderling was very lucky to have even won the second set in a tie breaker.
Buenos Aires Copa Telmex Open
- Champion: Tommy Robredo, Spain
- Runner-Up: Juan Monaco, Argentina
- Semi-Finalists: Jose Acasuso, Argentina and David Nalbandian, Argentina
- Surface: Red clay, outdoors
- Level: ATP 250
Tommy Robredo of Spain continued his mad clay court season, playing in his third consecutive clay court championship in three weeks. He won his second over local favorite Juan Monaco, 7-5, 2-6, 7-6.
A typical clay court match, with plenty of rallies and only one ace hit in the entire match, Robredo found a way to bounce back after being whacked around in the second set.
Robredo continued his highly successful run in South America. He is now 12-1 on South American clay in 2009 and won his second consecutive tournament after defeating Thomaz Bellucci to win in Costa du Sauipe.
Monaco, who has also competed in all three South American clay tournaments, has had less than stellar results. After two early exits, Buenos Aires was a friendly sight to him, as he won the tournament in 2007.
Juan Monaco defeated David Nalbandian in the semifinals, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6. The two Argentines put on a terrific show for nearly three hours and both players had their problems on serve. Monaco was broken five times while Nalbandian wasn't much better with four.
After winning in Sydney, Nalbandian took a fall in the Australian Open, going down to Yen-Hsun Lu. He took a few weeks off, but it was to his benefit as he came out and played a solid tournament.
Once again, there was plenty of them, but none more so than Carlos Moya and Nicolas Almagro falling in the first round. Former world No. 1 Carlos Moya was flattened by qualifier Maximo Gonzalez in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.
Second seeded Almagro fell to Oscar Hernandez in three uninspired sets.
What Awaits This Week
Two ATP 500 events will be played this week, Dubai and Acapulco. The hard court championship in Dubai will field an impressive draw, including Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Gilles Simon and David Ferrer.
First-seeded Djokovic is coming off his first tournament since the Australian Open retirement, and he fell to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-final of Marseille
Second, the Abierto Mexicano Telcel Open from Acapulco is the biggest red clay tournament of the year to date. Many of the players who hopped around South America for the last month will be in the field, including David Nalbandian, Tommy Robredo, Jose Acasuso and Nicolas Almagro.
Underrated clay court talent such as Pablo Cuevas, Martin Vassallo Arguello, and Juan Monaco will also be in attendance and could make a splash after solid performances earlier.
Lastly, the ATP 250 hard court event from Delray Beach, Florida will commence with a relaxing draw. Top seeds include Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey, and Ernests Gulbis. Marcos Baghdatis is also in the draw, and his first round match with Gulbis could be a very good one.
Cheers until next time!