Men's Tennis: ATP World Tour Week 1 in Review
Week 1 of the 2013 ATP World Tour is officially in the books. Three tournaments were played this past week in Chennai, Brisbane and Doha, and the results are already getting people talking.
The three aforementioned 250-level tour events are significant due to the limited action before the Australian Open, which begins on January 14.
There were some surprise results, some expected results and there was a lot to digest moving forward to Sydney, Auckland and then Melbourne. Week 1 was definitely a good one.
Now, let's take a closer look at some of the results from across the Men's game throughout the last week.
Brisbane International 2013
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Where: Brisbane, Australia
Tournament level: 250
Results: Andy Murray def. Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(0), 6-4 in the finals and defends his 2012 title.
Good showings: Bulgarian 21-year-old Grigor Dimitrov had a dream tournament as he defeated No. 2 seed and top-10 bound Milos Raonic in impressive fashion by a score of 6-3, 6-4.
Dimitrov, who was playing the ATP's best server of 2012 in Raonic, didn't lose a single point on his first serve all match, and out aced Raonic 10 to four. Dimitrov would go on to beat Austrian Jergen Melzer 6-3, 6-2, and a hot-handed Marcos Baghdatis in a tight three-set match.
While he eventually lost in the finals, his first tour-level final, Dimitrov definitely sent out a warning shot to the Men's side that he too is a rising star with a big game.
Marcos Baghdatis was equally impressive as he easily dismantled both Florian Mayer and Gilles Simon by the scores of 6-4, 6-4 and 6-3, 6-4 respectively, on his way to the semis.
Andy Murray did well in starting the year off on the right foot. You can't do much better than a title in the first tournament of the year. Solid warm-up tournament for Britain's No. 1.
A big congrats to Aussie qualifier and 199th-ranked John Millman, who won his first-ever ATP tour-level match against Japan's Tatsuma Ito, and was the only player to take a set off Andy Murray all week.
Disappointing: Rough week for Milos Raonic. A bye in the first round, and then a significant beatdown from Grigor Dimitrov, who surprisingly broke down the Canadian's big weapon: his serve.
While Kei Nishikori made the semifinals in comfortable fashion, health issues continue to plague Japan's No. 1 as he was forced to retire against eventual champion Murray with a knee problem.
Coming off a career year, No. 8 seed and No. 30 in the world, Slovakian Martin Klizan, was absolutely dismantled by 43rd-ranked Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the first round, 6-1, 6-2.
Aircel Chennai Open 2013
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Where: Chennai, India
Tournament level: 250
Notable entries (w/rankings): Tomas Berdych (6), Janko Tipsarevic (9), Marin Cilic (15), Stanislas Wawrinka (17).
Results: Janko Tipsarevic earns his fourth ATP title, defeating world No. 80 Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Good showings: Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut had a tournament to remember. Currently ranked at No. 80 in the world, with only three tour-level victories in his career, the 24-year-old fought through to the finals, defeating Benoit Paire and Tomas Berdych along the way.
He pushed Serb Janko Tipsarevic to three sets in the finals but couldn't hold on for the championship. Either way, Bautista Agut put together a fantastic tournament and should be proud of the result.
It wasn't the most star-laden tournament of the week, but it produced quality tennis from players like Benoit Paire. The fifth-seeded Frenchman had impressive wins over tour journeymen Flavio Cipolla and Dudi Sela, and earned a tight three-set victory over world No. 15 Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals. Paire was defeated in the semis by tournament surprise and finalist Roberto Bautista Agut.
Hailing from Slovenia, world No. 86 Aljaz Bedene also had a surprisingly strong run in Chennai. The 23-year-old made the semifinals and notched victories over Robin Hasse and Stan Wawrinka, and pushed Tipsarevic to three sets before falling.
Disappointing: After making short work of India's Somdev Devvarman 6-3, 6-1, Berdych was beaten by Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarterfinals 5-7, 6-2, 3-6. Berdych served just 56 percent of his first serves on the match, and more concerning won just 36 percent of his second serves.
Third seed Marin Cilic, after a bye in his first round, had a real struggle with Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine in his first match. He won 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, but his struggles carried over as he lost his next match to Benoit Paire 4-6, 6-1, 5-7.
Cilic looked to be the better player by far against both Stakhovsky and Paire, but couldn't come up with the big shots and breaks when he needed them. Tremendously rough first- and third-set return games hurt the Croatian, who was winning only 20 percent of the points against Paire's first serve.
Qatar ExonnMobil Open 2013
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Where: Doha, Qatar
Tournament level: 250
Results: Frenchman and No. 2 seed Richard Gasquet topples former world No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 for his eighth career title.
Good showings: The 26-year-old Richard Gasquet had a surprisingly easy run to the finals, facing no seeded players. Gasquet did what you should come to expect of a top player, though; he won the matches he should have won. For his efforts he was rewarded with his first title of the 2013 season.
Nikolay Davydenko, at the ripe age of 31, still proved he can be a factor in the men's game. The Russian made his way to his first tour-level final since April of 2011 (Munich), and took out countryman Mikhail Youzhny and world No. 5 David Ferrer along the way.
The latter match was particularly impressive as Davydenko dismissed Ferrer 6-2, 6-3 and didn't face a single break point in the match. He didn't drop a set on the way to the finals but was taken out by Gasquet in three sets.
Qualifier Daniel Brands had a huge tournament this week as the No. 153-ranked German played his way into the semifinals. Brands, once No. 66 in the world, has seen very limited tour-level action since about 2010, and had been relegated to the challenger circuit.
However, after qualifying, he had a big run in Doha, taking out No. 5 seed Jeremy Chardy and comeback kid Gael Monfils before falling to eventual champion Gasquet.
Disappointing: David Ferrer looked a little off in his first-round match against qualifier Dustin Brown. Although he dropped a set he would go on to win that match 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. After rather routine dismissals of Paolo Lorenzi (6-0, 6-4) and Tobias Kamke (6-3, 6-0), Ferrer was shelled by Davydenko in the semis.
The Spaniard can't be happy with the result as he looked like a surefire lock in the finals after fellow seeds Pablo Andujar, Mikhail Youzhny and Feliciano Lopez were dismissed early.
Every seed not named Richard Gasquet really struggled out the gate in week No. 1 of the ATP Tour. Andujar, Chardy and Lopez were all defeated in the first round, and Kohlschreiber, Youzhny and Serbian Viktor Troicki fared no better than the second round.
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Week 2 of the ATP tour has two tournaments on tap, both 250 level. These are the final two tournaments before we can indulge on the year's first Slam at Melbourne Park.
Apia International Sydney
Location: Sydney, Australia
Dates: January 6-11
Notable entries (w/rankings): John Isner (14), Gilles Simon (16), Fernando Verdasco (24), Grigor Dimitrov (41), Roberto Bautista-Agut (55), Bernard Tomic (64), Ryan Harrison (68).
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Dates: January 7-12
Notable entries (w/rankings): David Ferrer (5), Tommy Haas (21), Sam Querrey (22), Jerzy Janowicz (26), Benoit Paire (43), David Goffin (50), Gael Monfils (99).