The Ultimate ATP Tournament: Second Round (First Quarter)
The epic first round of the Ultimate ATP Tournament has finished, and the 32 remaining combatants now prepare to face the second round gauntlet.
The top eight seeds will see their first action of the tournament and some of the lucky first round winners are rewarded with playing a great.
Sound the horns and fasten your seat belts because the stakes have been raised yet again.
Here are the results of the second round, first quarter, which includes Rod Laver and Ivan Lendl.
Match No. 33: No. 1 Rod Laver (AUS) vs. Marat Safin (RUS)
Result: Laver in four. 2-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-3.
Safin was nearly hobbling into this second round match with top-seeded Rod Laver after suffering through a five set brawl with Pat Cash. The two-time Grand Slam champion had the pleasure of observing the frivolities. Safin, however, had other ideas about Laver taking the crown.
Safin wanted to play a power game on the hard court from the first whistle. His ridiculous aggression took Laver aback and the big Russian had quickly jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Laver would gather himself, but it was too late, as Safin had already built too big of a lead. One-nil, Safin.
Laver wasn't about to let this one slip away, as he came out focused as ever on clay. He was adjusting well to Safin's power, countering with smart shot-making and forcing Safin into uncharacteristic unforced errors. However, Safin would not break, and the set was forced to a tiebreak.
Laver appeared to be rattled, but he held off two set points for Safin to take the clay 12-10 in the tiebreak.
Safin knew deep down that he didn't have much of a chance on grass. Laver was one of the biggest grass court performers in the history of the game. He needed to force the Aussie out of his comfort zone, which meant taking away his net game. Marat kept his points short and again, forced another tiebreak.
This one was all Laver, unlike the first one. Laver won handily, 7-2. Safin was now the one looking drained and unmotivated.
Safin didn't have the same drive any more. His anger was very apparent now, and Laver capitalized immediately. The carpet master ran out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back, winning 6-3.
Laver will face the winner of Courier/Newcombe in the third round.
Match No. 34: Jim Courier (USA) vs. John Newcombe (AUS)
Result: Courier in five. 7-6, 7-5, 5-7, 3-6, 6-4.
What figured to be one of the better matches of the second round certainly didn't disappoint.
Courier ripped out to an early lead on hard, which was absolutely necessary for him. Newcombe wasn't about to let him walk away with his best surface too, as the set was brutally dragged into a tiebreak. Neither player wanted to say never, but Courier broke through and took the first set.
Both players were again fairly competent on clay. Courier had the upper hand in Slams though, winning two on clay to Newcombe's zero. Courier again showed flashes of brilliance early, getting two breaks to take a commanding 4-1 lead. However, Newcombe broke back for 3-4, but Courier was locked in. He took the second set 7-5 and now possessed a two-love lead.
Writing a five-time Slam champion on grass off is just stupid. Down two, Newcombe was hardly done. In fact, he was ridiculously optimistic for a man facing elimination. He found the pastures to be very welcoming, and took full advantage of them, taking the third set. Courier put up a fight for sure, but he was outmatched from the first point.
Newcombe's buzz-saw was just getting fired up. Courier was a poor player on carpet and Newcombe had won the bear's share of carpet court titles. Coming at Courier relentlessly throughout the set, the balance swiftly began to swing away from the American. All of a sudden, it was a tie match.
Courier dumped a water bottle over his head and looked to the sky for answers. Newcombe had everything going his way and pretty much jumped onto the court for the final set. Courier figured if he was going down, he was going down shooting. So he starts going for shots immediately with a reckless demeanor, catching Newcombe flat.
Other than double faulting a game away, Courier was dominant and earned the pass.
He will face Rod Laver in the third round.
Match No. 35: No. 9 Ken Rosewall (AUS) vs. Andy Roddick (USA)
Result: Roddick in four. 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.
Feeling like he just came off court an hour before, Ken Rosewall still felt the effects of a brutal five-set slug-fest with the big serving southpaw, Roscoe Tanner.
Andy Roddick couldn't have been sitting prettier after demolishing Vijay Amritraj in straight sets. Rosewall proved he could deal with power serving players after defeating Tanner, but nobody knew how much he had left in the tank.
Roddick started in a dream situation, on hard courts. He served lights out all set, depositing 11 aces in a 6-3 victory. Rosewall was constantly playing defense - a place he did not want to be in.
Rosewall however, jumped right back up as he was launched off a trampoline. Clay was his territory, and he wanted Roddick to know that immediately. Roddick's serve kept him in the set, but once Rosewall got his first break, the set was all but over. All tied up!
Roddick quickly returned the favor on grass. He got an early break to go up 2-0, and held onto that break for a 7-5 victory. Rosewall continued to play inspired tennis, but every time he came close to breaking Roddick back, the American shut the door immediately. Rosewall was suddenly staring down a major upset.
Carpet wasn't exactly either of these players' forte. But Rosewall was the one who came out flat and showing signs of tiredness. The match was briefly interrupted by Roddick engaging in his normal shouting match with the chair umpire over a ball that was clearly six yards into the stands.
It wouldn't affect the outcome, as Roddick took the match in four.
Roddick will move on to the third round to face Rafter or Lendl.
Match No. 36: Patrick Rafter (AUS) vs. No. 8 Ivan Lendl (CZE)
Result: Lendl in three. 6-4, 6-1, 7-6.
Rafter, coming off a straight sets win over Thomas Enqvist of Sweden, feels pretty optimistic facing Lendl. However, Ivan the Terrible is poised and rested. A major mismatch on paper, Rafter wants to prove that his lone victory head-to-head was no fluke.
Beginning on the hard courts, Rafter comes out shooting for the moon. Playing with terrific athleticism and fire, he pushes Lendl into a 4-1 hole.
However, Ivan wasn't intimidated. He knew a fair bit about winning on hard courts too, and quickly righted the ship to tie the set at four. Lendl then took a break off Rafter and instantly, the Aussies' fire was gone. Lendl took the first, 6-4.
Rafter was down, and now had to face Lendl on a surface he hadn't won a single tournament on. Lendl continued his murderous run from the first set, and before Rafter could say "Jaka je polevka dne?", Lendl had won the clay.
Rafter then gathered his thoughts and needed to make a push on grass. Down two-nil, he had nothing to lose. They began the set riding the see-saw, never suffering any breaks. Rafter saved several break points, but was never truly tested.
Lendl was automatic on his service games, realizing the finish line was near. The set went to a tiebreak, which the mighty Czech had enough left in the tank for.
Lendl will move on to face Andy Roddick in the round of 16.
Now let's examine the third round.
- No. 1 Rod Laver (AUS) vs. Jim Courier (USA)
- Andy Roddick (USA) vs. No. 8 Ivan Lendl (CZE)
- Stan Smith (USA)/No. 5 Andre Agassi (USA) vs. Harold Solomon (USA)/No. 12 Boris Becker (GER)
- No. 13 Guillermo Vilas (ARG)/Thomas Muster (AUT) vs. Yannick Noah (FRA)/No. 4 Pete Sampras (USA)
Stay tuned for more second round action!
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