The Ultimate ATP Tournament has begun! Sound the trumpets and assemble the grounds crew! Let the raucous fans in! Pray that it doesn't rain!
Well, lucky for us, there won't be any rain.
If you've missed any portion of how the Ultimate ATP Tour will work, allow me to educate you.
First, the players will be seeded in this Utopian tournament as according to The Top 25 Greatest Male Tennis Players of the Open Era.
Second, the brief introduction to the tournament and how it will be played can be found here: The Ultimate ATP Tournament: Introduction
And finally, the entire tournament draw can be found here: The Ultimate ATP Tournament: The Draw
Now for the main attraction. The results are in for the third quarter of the tournament bracket which includes Roger Federer and John McEnroe.
Match No. 18: Goran Ivanisevic (CRO) vs. Richard Krajicek (NED)
Result: Ivanisevic in four. 5-7, 6-4, 7-6, 6-1.
Ivanisevic and Krajicek had some bad blood for each other, but Goran always seemed to come away with the upper hand, winning 75 percent of their encounters. They are both huge, hulking players with monstrous serves.
Hard courts is a surface that seems tailored to fit both of these players' game. However, Krajicek seemed much more comfortable, and he won two of three of their matches on hard. As they began play, neither could get a break, with many extremely short points and only one break point chance up through 5-5.
Ivanisevic was finally broken on the only opportunity Krajicek had, and it was in the books after that.
Krajicek had received a huge boost of confidence after taking the first set. He continued his solid play, but Ivanisevic had answers for everything he did on clay, and was eventually rewarded with the second break in the match. It was just as costly as the first, as Goran won the second set shortly after.
They continued to slug it out on grass, both players approaching the 20 ace mark already. Both players also had earned their only Slam on grass, so the intensity level had risen to unprecedented heights. Krajicek was bending, but never giving up the break.
Ivanisevic just kept pummeling serve after serve, until it finally was pushed to a tiebreaker. He managed to dictate points and score the 9-7 victory for the third set.
Heading back indoors to carpet, Krajicek seemed spent. He had given all he had on grass and it wasn't enough. Ivanisevic was sitting pretty on a surface he had beaten the Dutchman on five times out of five. He jumped out to two early breaks and ran to the finish line with the win.
Ivanisevic will now face Roger Federer in the second round.
Match No. 19: Gustavo Kuerten (BRA) vs. Carlos Moya (ESP)
Result: Kuerten in five. 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 8-6.
Here's another matchup of two rivals who had nearly identical playing styles. They were both built at 6'3" and both dominated play on red clay. Kuerten holds the slightest advantage at four wins and three losses. All but one of their meetings were on clay, except for one on hard courts, won by Moya.
Fitting enough, they head inside to the hard courts. Moya comes out swinging, no fear at all in going for every big shot possible. Kuerten has no answer for his intensity and gives up a couple quick breaks. Kuerten finally wakes up, but it is too late as Moya takes the set.
Guga is not intimidated and finds his stroke immediately on clay. But for every shot he makes, Moya comes right back with his own. The see-saw set continues as Moya brutally forces it into a tiebreak. Kuerten looks dazed, but retains focus and manages to hold on. One all.
These two had never met on grass or won a tournament on grass. But they were going to give it a go anyway, and the same energy from the previous set carried over. However, Guga had managed to settle himself and begin hammering away at Moya. As he jumped out to a 4-1 lead, it looked like he would easily take the grass.
But Moya wasn't done yet as he roared back to force yet another tiebreak, although the result was the same. Kuerten snagged another tiebreak away from the Spaniard.
Another surface where neither played much. The carpet. But Moya was determined to take this match back to the hard courts. Playing like a mad man, he pounced on an early break chance and rode the momentum to a 6-4 win on carpet.
Judgement set. Both players were spent, and there was still one more to go. One break apiece set the tone early, but as it progressed to 6-6, neither could get a break. However, Kuerten found the most minuscule piece of energy and broke for 7-6 and eventually the match.
He will take on the winner of Fibak/Edberg in the second round.
Match No. 20: Wojtek Fibak (POL) vs. No. 14 Stefan Edberg (SWE)
Result: Edberg in three. 6-0, 6-3, 6-3.
This match just spells mismatch in every way. Fibak, more known for his doubles play, takes on one of the most underrated players in Edberg. They faced each other four times between 1983-85 where Edberg won three, all in straight sets.
Edberg took no time in establishing his dominance on the hard courts. He took the net whenever possible, forcing the doubles player to play defense and make uncharacteristic errors. Fibak also tried serve-and-volley, but Edberg foiled that with expertly placed passing shots. The set was all Edberg, 6-0.
Neither player was extremely dominant on clay, but Edberg did reach the French Open final. Fibak couldn't find any answer for the Swedish juggernaut, but he put up more of a fight on the scoreboard.
Fibak never had much success on grass either, in singles or doubles. Edberg was a seasoned pro, winning four Slams on grass in five years. He put on a clinic of serve-and-volley en route to a simple, but effective 6-3 victory for the match.
He will face Gustavo Kuerten in the second round.
Match No. 21: No. 11 Mats Wilander (SWE) vs. Raul Ramirez (MEX)
Result: Wilander in three. 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
Although these two were on tour at the same time, they never faced each other on court. It's a completely different tale of the tape, however. Wilander won titles in about every way possible, while Ramirez won minor events and could never take the Slam title.
Wilander took no time to establish his dominance on the hard courts, and Ramirez was powerless to change it. But Ramirez continued to fight, despite being down all set. Wilander walked to a 6-3 victory.
Ramirez desperately wanted to change the tone of the match, so he began to throw every different look at Wilander on clay. Wilander, however, took it all in stride. Ramirez kept pushing, and eventually evened the set out at 5-5. Then the Swede kicked it into a second gear and locked up set two.
Wilander, the two-time Australian Open champion, would not be denied on grass. Ramirez was basically out of tricks, and Wilander served out the set for a 6-4 victory. Smooth sailing for Mats.
He moves on to face the winner of Clerc/Kafelnikov.
Match No. 22: Jose-Luis Clerc (ARG) vs. Yevgeny Kafelnikov (RUS)
Result: Kafelnikov in four. 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
These two have never met, but they share different play styles. Clerc, who won the vast majority of his titles on clay, never won a Slam. Kafelnikov saw decent results on nearly every surface, where he won the French Open and Australian Open.
Kafelnikov jumps out to an early lead in the first set, which ultimately ends up to be the only break of the set. Clerc played fantastic on hard, catching Kafelnikov by surprise. But the Russian stood tall and didn't allow Clerc to get back into the set, taking it 6-4.
Clerc hit the ground running on clay, never giving Kafelnikov a shot to do anything. Kafel won a few games towards the end of the set but they were pointless, as Clerc won easily 6-3.
All tied up at one all, they headed to grass, where neither saw much success. Kafelnikov, utilizing his power game plus his volleys to control points, broke Clerc twice en route to another easy set win. Clerc looks to be uninspired.
Kafelnikov loved the idea of heading to carpet to win the match and for a good reason. He was a very strong carpet court player, while Clerc certainly didn't enjoy it. Kafelnikov swatted his way through a routine set, 6-2, without expending much effort.
He will now face Mats Wilander in the second round.
Match No. 23: Andres Gomez (ECU) vs. Jan Kodes (CZE)
Result: Gomez in three. 7-5, 6-4, 7-6.
Two opposite people here, Gomez is a case of a player who wins all the minor tournaments, but can never cash in during the Slams. His lone Slam was a French Open title in 1990. Kodes never won many minor tournaments, but he showed up when it counted during the Slams, winning three.
Hard courts were no specialty of the Czech. But Gomez won his fair share of minor tournaments on hard courts, and it showed early. Gomez rocketed out to a 3-0 lead before Kodes came back to tie it. Both players held serve until 5-5 where Gomez broke at love for the back-breaker.
Kodes took two French Open titles, but Gomez was no slouch on clay either. His slam came over Andre Agassi. Gomez again launched himself out to a big early lead, this time at 4-0. But Kodes again found a way to claw back into it. He was playing great, but he couldn't seem to get any breaks and Gomez plugged in another set. Two-nil.
Kodes was looking for any answer now, and grass may be it. He had seen some strong play on grass in the past, but he was deflated. Gomez dictated play, but Kodes hung around and forced a tiebreak. Gomez won that easily, 7-1.
Gomez will face John McEnroe in the second round.
Now lets examine the second round of the third quarter.
- No. 3 Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Goran Ivanisevic (CRO)
- Gustavo Kuerten (BRA) vs. No. 14 Stefan Edberg (SWE)
- No. 11 Mats Wilander (SWE) vs. Yevgeny Kafelnikov (RUS)
- Andres Gomez (ECU) vs. No. 6 John McEnroe (USA)
Enjoy and stay tuned for the results of the fourth quarter!
Bonus Biscuit: "Federer, today, unfortunately came out with no balls. You don't find too many champions in any sport in the world without heart or balls. He might have them, but against Nadal they shrink to a very small size and it's not once, it's every time." - Mats Wilander on Roger Federer, after his 2006 French Open loss to Rafael Nadal.
Federer vs. Wilander is a possible quarterfinal match in this quarter.