The Nasdaq-100 Discussion Thread [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

The Nasdaq-100 Discussion Thread

tangerine_dream
03-23-2005, 04:43 PM
Thought maybe it would be good to start a thread where we can talk about everything related to TMS Nasdaq and not have a bunch of separate threads like "Ha! Ha! Look at Andy's draw!" or "Can anyone stop JesusFed?" ;)

Here's Tennis-x's preview of Miami:

Here is the quarter-by-quarter breakdown for version 2005 of the Masters Series-Miami:

Top Quarter

Seeds: (1) Roger Federer, (6) Tim Henman, (10) Joachim Johansson, (16) Tommy Haas, (1 Mario Ancic, (23) Radek Stepanek, (2 Juan Ignacio Chela, (30) Paradorn Srichaphan

Floaters: Ivo Karlovic, Mardy Fish, Julien Benneteau, Juan Monaco

A few potential challenges for Federer as mentioned above, with huge-serving "Dr." Ivo Karlovic likely in his opener (all the seeds receive first-round byes) and then No. 30 seed Paradorn "The Thai Fighter" Srichaphan before meeting the big boys in either Haas or Ancic (or Fish, who as they say, is "due"). Henman, the second-highest seed in the quarter, could be up against it from the start in an opener against Argentine Army member Juan "The Principality" Monaco, who last year in Miami upset Joachim "The Jackhammer" Johansson and Guga Kuerten. Other opening-round matches of note in the section are Fish vs. a qualifier (winner to face (16) Haas), French comer Julien "United Colors of" Benneteau vs. Sargis "Sarge" Sargsian (winner to get a gift vs. (23) Stepanek), and undercooked American wildcard "The" Donald Young vs. a qualifier (winner to face (2 Juan Ignacio "The Spitting Snake" Chela). If "The Jackhammer" Johansson has healed from his shoulder problems of late, the big-serving Swede would be a tester for Club Fed in the quarters.

Second Quarter

Seeds: (4) Guillermo Coria, (7) Gaston Gaudio, (9) Andre Agassi, (15) Fernando Gonzalez, (19) Feliciano Lopez, (22) Nicolas Kiefer, (27) Sebastien Grosjean, (31) Taylor Dent

Floaters: Florian Mayer, Mark Philippoussis, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Tomas Berdych

Agassi, Gonzalez and Dent are salivating at their chances here, with the Argentines Gaudio and the recovering-from-injury Coria not scaring anyone. Dent and Coria should meet in the third round, with Gaudio granted a cake walk at least until a fourth-round confrontation with Agassi or Feliciano "F-Lo" Lopez. Opening-round match-ups to watch for are (22) Kiefer vs. Florian "Oscar" Mayer in an all-German (if Mayer can bypass a qualifier in his opener), wildcard car-crash Mark Philippoussis vs. a qualifier (winner to face (15) Fernando "Gonzo" Gonzalez), (9) Agassi in a potential second-rounder vs. the confidence-riding Paul-Henri Mathieu who has tested the American in both their meetings, and (19) F-Lo vs. Tomas "I Beat Federer in '04" Berdych in a potential second-rounder. If Agassi's toe is truly healed, the American doesn't face a whole lot of resistance in reaching the quarterfinals versus likely opponents Dent or Gonzalez.

Third Quarter

Seeds: (3) Marat Safin, ( David Nalbandian, (11) Guillermo Canas, (14) Nikolay Davydenko, (17) Mikhail Youzhny, (20) Andrei Pavel, (26) Dominik Hrbaty, (32) Xavier Malisse

Floaters: Jurgen Melzer, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Gael Monfils, Thomas Enqvist

Perhaps the weakest quarter, a couple players could go for the steal depending on which Marat Safin and which David Nalbandian show up. Safin won the Australian, then bombed out in the first round at Dubai and early at Indian Wells, claiming he played his "worst match ever." Nalbandian likewise did well at the Australian but then lost early at Marseille, Rotterdam and Indian Wells, where he was pasted by Nicolas Kiefer. Safin has a safe opener against the too-streaky Irakli "Freak Show" Labadze, who is apparently in the midst of passing a kidney stone (ouch) or the struggling-with-injury Younes El Aynaoui. Nalbandian on the other hand has a tricky opener against giant-killer Jurgen "Tuna" Melzer. Other openers to look for are the former No. 1 Ferrero vs. American wildcard Brendan Evans (winner to face (11) Canas), wildcard Gael "Force" Monfils vs. Michael Llodra in an all-French struggle (winner to face (14) Davydenko), and a big-hitting conflict when Swedish veteran Thomas Enqvist squares off against Korean net-rusher Hyung-Taik Lee (winner to face (17) Youzhny). Anything goes in this section, with Safin's draw a soft one against the off-kilter Dominik "The Dominator" Hrbaty in the third round, then Russian counterparts Davydenko or Youzhny in the fourth before a likely quarterfinal against Nalbandian or Canas.

Bottom Quarter

Seeds: (2) Andy Roddick, (5) Carlos Moya, (12) Tommy Robredo, (13) Ivan Ljubicic, (21) Vince Spadea, (24) Jiri Novak, (25) Thomas Johansson, (29) Rafael Nadal

Floaters: James Blake, Greg Rusedski, Max Mirnyi, Rainer Schuettler, Fernando Verdasco

As a player, this is the section of the draw you didn't want to land in. Two former No. 1s in Roddick and Moya, three former slam champs, five former slam finalists, and a big bald Croatian with a lot of confidence. Roddick's opener could be against Fernando "Hot Sauce" Verdasco, who he barely edged in three sets last week in Indian Wells, if the Spaniard can get by Peter "Nuclear" Wessels in his opener. Moya's road is no easier with a likely opener against the hungry hard-hitting James Blake, and "Grinning" Greg Rusedski or (25) T.Johansson waiting in the next round. The hot-handed Ljubicic has a cushy draw, with (21) Spadea the first resistance in the third round, and a potential Davis Cup rematch with Roddick in the fourth round. Other openers to look for are Max "The Beast" Mirnyi vs. Jonas Bjorkman in a veteran battle (winner to face (12) Robredo), and potential seeded openers in (29) Rafael "The Prodigy" Nadal vs. Rainer "He's So 2003" Schuettler, and (21) "Vincenzo" Spadea vs. Robby "Baby Courier" Ginepri in an all-American "C"-squad match-up. If Roddick can get by the firepower of Nadal and Ljubicic, a repeat of last week's Indian Wells stunner against Moya could be in the making in the quarterfinals.

In last year's final Roddick captured his third career Masters Series win after Argentina's Guillermo Coria retired during the best-of-five-set final with a back injury with the American leading 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-1.

Returning champions this week in Miami are Roddick (2004) and the six-time champ Agassi (2003-01,'96-95,'90). Defending the doubles title will be Zimbabwe's Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett, who last year upset Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge in the final.

tangerine_dream
03-23-2005, 04:55 PM
We're even allowed to mention Roger's name in here. ;)

http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11210/125665881390.jpg

Pursuing Federer boosts interest

Miami Herald
March 23, 2005

The post-Pete Sampras vacuum in men's tennis has been charitably described as a ''transition period.'' Or you could just call it what it was: Dull.

While women's tennis was producing rich rivalries and memorable matches, men's tennis was about as intriguing as a two-shot rally. Wham, bam, yawn.

No more. Men's tennis has found its new star -- the sublime Roger Federer -- and he has three worthy adversaries. Andy Roddick, Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt have all lost to Federer more than they have beaten him, but the chase has just begun. It continues for the next week and a half at the NASDAQ-100 Open, the ''fifth major,'' right here on Key Biscayne.

The Fantastic Four -- all but Hewitt (toe injury) will be playing in the NASDAQ-100 -- give the game a chance to return to the heights of the 1970s and 1980s, when the diverse playing styles and clashing personalities of the likes of Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and Boris Becker made tennis so entertaining.

With Andre Agassi in the twilight of his career, tennis needs a charisma replenishment. Federer, Roddick, Safin and Hewitt have converged at the right moment. This is a quartet with high Q ratings.

Federer is like an exquisite Swiss timepiece. Even casual fans marvel at his movement and artistry. He won three Grand Slams last year. Already he is being compared to the greatest players in history.

Roddick personifies everything American: The rocket serve, the bared emotions, the baseball cap. He talks fast, plays faster.

Safin is the Russian conundrum. You never know what you'll get. Will he smash another racket (as he has done more than once)? Pull his shorts down (as he did at the French Open last year)? Argue with a linesman? Built like a middle linebacker, he possesses a rare combination of power, shot-making skill and agility that can defeat anybody, if he can win his own head games.

Like the Australian Outback, Hewitt will wear you down. He just keeps going and going, fighting, scrapping, bashing from the baseline. Annoying, too, in his on-court histrionics. Not a craftsman, but a counter-puncher.

''There could be some amazing matches because they each play their own brand of tennis,'' said Brad Gilbert, Roddick's former coach. 'You get a combination of any of those four playing a match and you say, `Oh, I have to check that out.' ''

COMMON THREADS

All are younger than 25, have been the world's top-ranked player and have won at least one Grand Slam. They separated themselves from the pack last year and could do so again this year. The last time the same four men's players dominated the top four slots was 1983-85 when McEnroe, Lendl, Connors and Mats Wilander were a cut above.

''To keep tennis in the public consciousness, you need familiar names going at it,'' Patrick McEnroe said. ``People want to see Kansas and Kentucky. For a while the problem with men's tennis was too much depth.''

Rivalries are the lifeblood of tennis. Federer and Roddick recalled watching Becker vs. Stefan Edberg. Hewitt loved Connors vs. McEnroe. Rivalries are blossoming now among the four.

Take Safin's thriller (9-7 in the fifth set) against Federer at the Australian Open two months ago. Federer leads Safin 6-2 all-time, including a third-set, 20-18 win at the 2004 Masters Cup. Three of Hewitt's four losses in Grand Slams last year were to Federer, but Hewitt did come back from two sets down to beat Federer in a 2003 Davis Cup match. Federer's 8-1 lead over Roddick is deceiving; the sparks always fly between the two, including at Wimbledon in 2003 and '04.

''I don't know if in a rivalry you need one time the one wins, one time the other wins,'' Federer said. ``I just think you've got to play each other often in the big matches. The ones I played in the last Grand Slams I won were Marat, Andy and Lleyton. So that's definitely a good sign for the future.''

Federer is having the same effect on tennis that Tiger Woods had on golf. He's forcing his opponents to improve.

''Anyone who wants to be in the top group of tennis needs to adjust himself to Roger,'' said Safin, who referred to what he has adjusted. ``Being more professional, more consistent. Was not my case, but I'm getting there.

``Hewitt has improved a lot his serve, his forehand, his volley. Roddick improved his volleys. He's moving much better. He became much smarter. We are growing.''

GETTING BETTER

Cliff Drysdale thinks the quality of men's tennis declined when Sampras retired but that it has risen the past two years.

''I've never seen a more complete player -- and I'm going back to Pancho Gonzalez -- than Federer,'' said Drysdale, a TV analyst and former pro. ``Safin is the next most talented; he's only 10 percent lesser in stroke-making genius but needs to tame his demons. Andy won't be satisfied until he figures out a way to beat Federer, and that will require more variety and more strategy from him. And although Hewitt is limited, he can pounce on any lapse and turn the match around on you.''

What will it take to dethrone Federer? During the six consecutive years when Sampras was No. 1, there were five different No. 2s.

Todd Martin, who played against all four before he retired, said Federer -- who has won the last 16 finals he has appeared in -- can be the best ever ''because he doesn't shy away from being No. 1 like Pete did.'' But he's not indestructible.

''Roddick has the best serve in tennis, Safin often has the best return, and Hewitt is the most tenacious,'' Martin said. ``If they could each develop one more attacking facet, it will be really interesting.''

Roddick also has to shrug off the pressure of being ''the savior of American tennis,'' Gilbert added.

Each of the four is quick to compliment the others. Each used the same word to describe their generation: Exciting.

''This is what we've been waiting for,'' McEnroe said. ``Patrick Rafter, Gustavo Kuerten and Carlos Moya flirted but never established themselves. Now we've got four guys who understand the big picture. They know tennis needs them to keep pushing each other.

Sjengster
03-23-2005, 04:56 PM
You know, I'm quite fond of giving glib taglines to players myself, but Tennis "Nickname Factory"-X goes way too far. It gets in the way of any attempt to read the article seriously, although a couple of them are pretty good: "Nuclear" Wessels obviously shows that the Tennis-X staff think just as highly of Star Trek IV as I do, while Robby "Baby Courier" Ginepri is all the more hilarious because the only possible comparison between them is the colour of their hair. And "Korean net-rusher Hyung-Taik Lee"??? It just goes to show that giving your articles a snarky tone to make them stand out from the crowd doesn't necessarily make the journalism any more accurate.

tangerine_dream
03-23-2005, 09:36 PM
I'm going to troll my own thread and post this terrific piece of garbage from Faux News. Enjoy. http://67.19.129.138/mtf/images/icons/icon10.gif

Ten key questions with Grand Slams looming
by Dan Weil
Special to FOX(Faux)Sports.com

Tennis' top players are gathering in Key Biscayne outside Miami for the U.S.' second biggest tournament of the year. The Nasdaq-100 Open begins Wednesday, and marks the end of the spring hardcourt season. With the year's three remaining Grand Slam tournaments looming on the horizon, 10 major questions dominate the tennis world.

1. Can anyone stop Roger Federer?
In a word, no. As Pete Sampras said recently, the Swiss wunderkind's biggest opponent now is the record book. The 23-year-old Federer already has racked up four major victories and is on course to challenge Sampras' record of 14. Federer is a genius shotmaker with no holes in his game. He moves as well as anyone in the sport and can hit any shot at any time. On top of that, he makes it look easy. Like Sampras, he barely seems to be working up a sweat. It's no wonder he's won 42 of 43 matches since the Olympics last year. If not for a narrow loss to Marat Safin at the Australian Open in January, Federer would be a serious threat to win the Grand Slam this year.

2. What's up with the Williams sisters?
Serena won the Australian Open for her first major victory since 2003. But she captured the crown more on guts and self-belief than the strength of her game. The 23-year-old has a good to chance to garner her fourth Nasdaq crown, but she isn't the dominant player she once was. Other players have caught up to her power. And while Serena is pre-occupied with acting and fashion design, others are working harder on their tennis. Serena hasn't made any improvements since dropping from No. 1 in 2003. Those points ring even truer with Venus. She really seemed to lose interest in tennis after Serena beat her in five consecutive major finals in 2002-2003. Look for the 24-year-old to continue her slow fade.

3. Can Marat Safin challenge Federer for No. 1?
Not likely. Safin's results since his amazing Australian Open win in January have been disappointing. Whenever the 25-year-old Russian has raised expectations for greatness with big wins, like the 2000 US Open, he has quickly succumbed to the pressure. He's likely to fizzle not only at the Nasdaq but perhaps the final three slams of the year too. Safin plays his best tennis at the beginning of the year and at the end, when the pressure is lightest.

4. What's going on with the Belgian Bashers?
Former No. 1 Kim Clijsters and former No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne are back on tour from injuries. The likable Clijsters just won the Pacific Lite Open in Indian Wells. But the 21-year-old has shown a propensity for losing big matches throughout her career. She dropped all three of the major finals in which she played — all of them to her compatriot Henin-Hardenne. It is Henin-Hardenne who seems headed for greatness if she can get over injuries, the latest one being to her knee. Henin-Hardenne is the most exciting woman player since Australia's Evonne Goolagong in the 1970s. The 22-year-old is a bit like a female version of Roger Federer. She was dominating the game until a virus took her out of action last year. And it's no wonder why. She can do it all, and does it with grace and style.

5. What's Andre Agassi's story?
After a couple impressive wins, he had to pull out of the Pacific Life Open last week with a toe injury. It's sad to say, but the 34-year-old Las Vegas native looks headed for retirement. Injuries are becoming a constant drumbeat for the man who has taken tennis fitness to a new level. And he appears to have lost a step. His eight major titles are quite an accomplishment, but don't expect a ninth.

6. How about those Russian women?
Three different Russians captured the last three majors last year, with Anastasia Myskina taking the French, Maria Sharapova winning Wimbledon and Svetlana Kuznetsova emerging victorious at the US Open. And the beautiful Elena Dementieva was runner-up at the French and US Open. Those players are here to stay, but perhaps Sharapova is a bit too busy chasing her $18 million in endorsements. She was destroyed 6-0, 6-0 by Lindsay Davenport in the Pacific Lite Open.

7. Can Andy Roddick get back to the top?
Probably not. The 22-year-old has the misfortune of coming into the prime of his career at the same time as Roger Federer. Roddick has a huge serve and forehand, great footspeed and feisty competitiveness. But his game is limited compared to Federer. If the Swiss Superman doesn't get injured, Roddick's 2003 US Open crown may be the only major title of his career.

8. Why is Lindsay Davenport the women's top-ranked player?
You can thank an arcane ranking system and a weak field for that. Davenport hasn't won a big match since the Australian Open in 2000. The good-natured 28-year-old has beautiful booming groundstrokes and a huge serve, but loses confidence in big moments. She was ready to retire last year until she went on a hot streak. This year may be it.

9. What can we expect from Lleyton Hewitt?
A lot of wins but no major titles. The tenacious Australian doesn't have enough game to challenge Federer — or Safin when the Russian is capable of coping with pressure. Hewitt, 24, does have Roddick's number, beating the American in six of their seven meetings. But unfortunately for Hewitt, the two are unlikely to meet in any major finals.

10. Where's Jennifer Capriati?
She's coming back from shoulder surgery at the Nasdaq, but sadly the 28-year-old's best days are behind her. She's unlikely to contend for any more major titles.

liptea
03-24-2005, 12:23 AM
:sad: I wish Carlos would do well.

jole
03-24-2005, 12:37 AM
You know, I'm quite fond of giving glib taglines to players myself, but Tennis "Nickname Factory"-X goes way too far. It gets in the way of any attempt to read the article seriously, although a couple of them are pretty good: "Nuclear" Wessels obviously shows that the Tennis-X staff think just as highly of Star Trek IV as I do, while Robby "Baby Courier" Ginepri is all the more hilarious because the only possible comparison between them is the colour of their hair. And "Korean net-rusher Hyung-Taik Lee"??? It just goes to show that giving your articles a snarky tone to make them stand out from the crowd doesn't necessarily make the journalism any more accurate.

I stopped paying attention to them when I spotted Jeff "Baby Krajicek" Morrison.

liptea
03-24-2005, 12:41 AM
I really think that Fernando "Hot Sauce" Verdasco has a good ring to it.

gravity
03-24-2005, 02:37 AM
I really think that Fernando "Hot Sauce" Verdasco has a good ring to it.

What better than:

Guillermo "The Wound" Coria.
Tim "The Dentist's Nightmare" Henman.

-ernie-
03-24-2005, 02:42 AM
Marat vs. Irakli, two of my faves.....hmm i have given this some thought but i decided if Irakli would win he would lose next round to ROCK ON MARAT!

haas'luv
03-24-2005, 02:55 AM
C'mon,Tommy Haas~~~~
and any1 who knows the official site???????:P im stupid:Pcant find it

Paialii
03-24-2005, 03:01 AM
I'm going to troll my own thread and post this terrific piece of garbage from Faux News. Enjoy. http://67.19.129.138/mtf/images/icons/icon10.gif

Ten key questions with Grand Slams looming
by Dan Weil
Special to FOX(Faux)Sports.com

Tennis' top players are gathering in Key Biscayne outside Miami for the U.S.' second biggest tournament of the year. The Nasdaq-100 Open begins Wednesday, and marks the end of the spring hardcourt season. With the year's three remaining Grand Slam tournaments looming on the horizon, 10 major questions dominate the tennis world.

1. Can anyone stop Roger Federer?
In a word, no. As Pete Sampras said recently, the Swiss wunderkind's biggest opponent now is the record book. The 23-year-old Federer already has racked up four major victories and is on course to challenge Sampras' record of 14. Federer is a genius shotmaker with no holes in his game. He moves as well as anyone in the sport and can hit any shot at any time. On top of that, he makes it look easy. Like Sampras, he barely seems to be working up a sweat. It's no wonder he's won 42 of 43 matches since the Olympics last year. If not for a narrow loss to Marat Safin at the Australian Open in January, Federer would be a serious threat to win the Grand Slam this year.

2. What's up with the Williams sisters?
Serena won the Australian Open for her first major victory since 2003. But she captured the crown more on guts and self-belief than the strength of her game. The 23-year-old has a good to chance to garner her fourth Nasdaq crown, but she isn't the dominant player she once was. Other players have caught up to her power. And while Serena is pre-occupied with acting and fashion design, others are working harder on their tennis. Serena hasn't made any improvements since dropping from No. 1 in 2003. Those points ring even truer with Venus. She really seemed to lose interest in tennis after Serena beat her in five consecutive major finals in 2002-2003. Look for the 24-year-old to continue her slow fade.

3. Can Marat Safin challenge Federer for No. 1?
Not likely. Safin's results since his amazing Australian Open win in January have been disappointing. Whenever the 25-year-old Russian has raised expectations for greatness with big wins, like the 2000 US Open, he has quickly succumbed to the pressure. He's likely to fizzle not only at the Nasdaq but perhaps the final three slams of the year too. Safin plays his best tennis at the beginning of the year and at the end, when the pressure is lightest.

4. What's going on with the Belgian Bashers?
Former No. 1 Kim Clijsters and former No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne are back on tour from injuries. The likable Clijsters just won the Pacific Lite Open in Indian Wells. But the 21-year-old has shown a propensity for losing big matches throughout her career. She dropped all three of the major finals in which she played — all of them to her compatriot Henin-Hardenne. It is Henin-Hardenne who seems headed for greatness if she can get over injuries, the latest one being to her knee. Henin-Hardenne is the most exciting woman player since Australia's Evonne Goolagong in the 1970s. The 22-year-old is a bit like a female version of Roger Federer. She was dominating the game until a virus took her out of action last year. And it's no wonder why. She can do it all, and does it with grace and style.

5. What's Andre Agassi's story?
After a couple impressive wins, he had to pull out of the Pacific Life Open last week with a toe injury. It's sad to say, but the 34-year-old Las Vegas native looks headed for retirement. Injuries are becoming a constant drumbeat for the man who has taken tennis fitness to a new level. And he appears to have lost a step. His eight major titles are quite an accomplishment, but don't expect a ninth.

6. How about those Russian women?
Three different Russians captured the last three majors last year, with Anastasia Myskina taking the French, Maria Sharapova winning Wimbledon and Svetlana Kuznetsova emerging victorious at the US Open. And the beautiful Elena Dementieva was runner-up at the French and US Open. Those players are here to stay, but perhaps Sharapova is a bit too busy chasing her $18 million in endorsements. She was destroyed 6-0, 6-0 by Lindsay Davenport in the Pacific Lite Open.

7. Can Andy Roddick get back to the top?
Probably not. The 22-year-old has the misfortune of coming into the prime of his career at the same time as Roger Federer. Roddick has a huge serve and forehand, great footspeed and feisty competitiveness. But his game is limited compared to Federer. If the Swiss Superman doesn't get injured, Roddick's 2003 US Open crown may be the only major title of his career.

8. Why is Lindsay Davenport the women's top-ranked player?
You can thank an arcane ranking system and a weak field for that. Davenport hasn't won a big match since the Australian Open in 2000. The good-natured 28-year-old has beautiful booming groundstrokes and a huge serve, but loses confidence in big moments. She was ready to retire last year until she went on a hot streak. This year may be it.

9. What can we expect from Lleyton Hewitt?
A lot of wins but no major titles. The tenacious Australian doesn't have enough game to challenge Federer — or Safin when the Russian is capable of coping with pressure. Hewitt, 24, does have Roddick's number, beating the American in six of their seven meetings. But unfortunately for Hewitt, the two are unlikely to meet in any major finals.

10. Where's Jennifer Capriati?
She's coming back from shoulder surgery at the Nasdaq, but sadly the 28-year-old's best days are behind her. She's unlikely to contend for any more major titles.

I wrote him a nasty but intelligent email about that garbage he wrote. I've never liked anything he's written, really, but wow that took the cake.

foul_dwimmerlaik
03-24-2005, 07:31 AM
Marat vs. Irakli, two of my faves.....hmm i have given this some thought but i decided if Irakli would win he would lose next round to ROCK ON MARAT!Marat will also lose the next round though.

buddyholly
03-24-2005, 01:25 PM
I wrote him a nasty but intelligent email about that garbage he wrote. I've never liked anything he's written, really, but wow that took the cake.

Could you please enlighten me on what parts are garbage?

TheMightyFed
03-24-2005, 01:47 PM
Could you please enlighten me on what parts are garbage?
yeah, nothing amazing... yawn :zzz:

tangerine_dream
03-24-2005, 03:55 PM
I wrote him a nasty but intelligent email about that garbage he wrote. I've never liked anything he's written, really, but wow that took the cake.

I knew you'd get a kick out of it. Faux News is a joke. :o

Some more stuff from the local papers:

NASDAQ-100 | Men to watch

•*Roger Federer, 23, Switzerland: No. 1 in the world, he has been nearly unbeatable since last year's U.S. Open. A joy to watch, he creates highlight shots as he floats across the court. Coached by Tony Roche. Won three Grand Slams last year, the first man to do that since Mats Wilander in 1988.

•*Marat Safin, 25, Russia: Currently No. 4, the mercurial Muscovite is a crowd-pleaser who also leads tennis in racket-abuse penalties. At 6-4, 200 pounds, he combines power and speed. Won his second Grand Slam title by beating Federer in the Australian Open semis and Hewitt in the final.

•*Andy Roddick, 22, U.S.: The part-time Boca Raton resident has the fastest serve in tennis and a game well-suited to the Key Biscayne courts, where he is defending champion. He finished No. 2 to Federer last year.

•*Ivan Ljubicic, 26, Croatia: Led Croatia's upset of the U.S. in recent Davis Cup tie by beating Agassi and Roddick. Carries a picture of countryman Goran Ivanisevic with his Wimbledon trophy in his pocket. Hot player has moved up to No. 13.

•*Rafael Nadal, 18, Spain: Up-and-comer got as high as No. 30 last year and is 17-4 with two titles so far this year. Lefty comes from same area (Mallorca) as Carlos Moya.

•*Andre Agassi, 34, U.S.: Miami loves him and he loves Miami, having won six times here. Constantly bugged about retirement, Steffi Graf's husband is still motivated, chasing a ninth Grand Slam title. Currently No. 9.

•*Guillermo Coria, 23, Argentina: Stuck with a heartbreaker last year here when he had to retire from the final against Roddick with back spasms (he later had kidney stones removed). Lost 2004 French Open final after getting leg cramps. Perhaps the quickest guy on tour, he's now No. 5.

•*Joachim Johansson, 22, Sweden: Beat Roddick in U.S. Open quarterfinals last year and his aces pushed Agassi to the brink in January's Australian Open. The 6-6 ''Pim-Pim'' has a huge serve. Dates Hewitt's sister. Currently No. 11.

•*Tim Henman, 30, Great Britain: It's a treat to savor one of the last serve-and-volley masters. Has improved his velocity after recovering from shoulder problems.

•*Gaston Gaudio, 27, Argentina: A bit of a surprise winner last spring at the French Open, Gaudio already has won two titles this year, though both came on clay.

-----------------------------------------

Argentinan a crowd pleaser
03-24-05

World No. 5 Guillermo Coria of Argentina, seeded fourth at the NASDAQ-100 Open, is always a crowd favorite on Key Biscayne.

Last year, Coria, suffering from back spasms, pulled out of the tournament during the final against Andy Roddick. But Wednesday, the opening day of NASDAQ, Coria said he felt "perfect.''

He opens his NASDAQ play Saturday.

''I feel 10 points out of 10,'' Coria said. "I've been working very hard and feel very good. Also, this tournament helps me a lot because I like it very much.

"Apart from the problem that I had -- I had little stones in my kidney -- I had good memories from the tournament, from what I did last year. There are more Latins here than in Latin America, in South America, so I feel good here.''

Coria, 23, was asked if he feels the system of tennis is better in Argentina now than when he was growing up. "There are no secrets. It's the hard work, the practice every day. That's what takes you up. Obviously, the good results of the Argentinian players in particular help the young players look at them and encourage them to get better. Hopefully, there will be more to come.''

----------------------------------------

How the Men fared so far:

Robby Ginepri d. Filippo Volandri 7-6 (4), 6-1. :yeah:

Hyung-Taik Lee d. Thomas Enqvist 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. :retard:

David Ferrer d. Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2, 7-6 (6)

Kevin Kim d. Luis Horna 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (0). :retard:

Alberto Martin d. Agustin Calleri 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3).

Irakli Labadze d. Younes El Aynaoui 6-4, 1-6, 6-1. :sad:

Jose Acasuso d. Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 6-3. :sad:

Juan Carlos Ferrero d. Brendan Evans 6-2, 6-4. :banana:

Jonas Bjorkman d. Max Mirnyi 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. :cool: that's a match I would've liked to have seen

Greg Rusedski d. Andreas Seppi 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Rainer Schuettler d. Potito Starace 7-6 (4), 5-7, 7-6 (5). he won a match :woohoo:

Jarkko Nieminen d. Cyril Saulnier 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Fernando Verdasco d. Peter Wessels 6-4, 7-5.

James Blake d. Kenneth Carlsen 6-3, 6-2. :banana:

Gael Monfils d. Michael Llodra 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Igor Andreev d. Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (12).

Today's schedule

Men's singles first round

Stadium - 11 a.m.: Tomas Zib (CZE) vs. Mardy Fish (USA); Christophe Rochus (BEL) vs. Mark Philippoussis (AUS) WC; 7 p.m.: Nicolas Lapentti (ECU) vs. Karol Beck (SVK). Crap, Mardy's playing my new favorite guy :banghead:

Grandstand - 11 a.m.: Jean-Rene Lisnard (FRA) vs. Donald Young (USA) WC; Stefan Koubek (AUT) vs.Jeff Morrison (USA).

Court 1 - 10 a.m.: Juan Monaco (ARG) vs. Ivo Minar (CZE) LL; Gilles Muller (LUX) vs. Mariano Zabaleta (ARG); Arnaud Clement (FRA) vs. Tomas Berdych (CZE).

Court 2 - 10 a.m.: Ricardo Mello (BRA) vs. Santiago Ventura (ESP); Sargis Sargsian (ARM) vs. Julien Benneteau (FRA).

Court 3 - 10 a.m.: Ivo Karlovic (CRO) vs. Olivier Rochus (BEL); Jan Hernych (CZE) vs. Davide Sanguinetti (ITA) Q.

Court 6 - 10 a.m.: Bjorn Phau (GER) vs. Alex Calatrava (ESP); Antony Dupuis (FRA) vs. Victor Hanescu (ROM).

Court 7 - 10 a.m.: Lars Burgsmuller (GER) vs. Florian Mayer (GER); Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) vs. Michal Tabara (CZE).

tennischick
03-24-2005, 03:56 PM
(from Tennis-X): While women's tennis was producing rich rivalries and memorable matches, men's tennis was about as intriguing as a two-shot rally. Wham, bam, yawn.

this is such a stereotype and it's not true. :mad:

Domino
03-24-2005, 05:20 PM
You forgot one really dangerous floater in the top quarter, Ivo Minar, who is a player on the rise at the moment.

jmp
03-24-2005, 05:49 PM
this is such a stereotype and it's not true. :mad:

You're so right, tennischick.

Great articles and information, Tangy. :yeah:

Thanks, everyone. I'm enjoying this thread. :D

tangerine_dream
03-25-2005, 03:12 AM
You're welcome, peeps :)

Let's see how our boys did today....

NASDAQ-100 Open Thursday Results
First round

Mardy Fish def. Tomas Zib, 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (3-7), 6-3
Mark Philippoussis def. Christophe Rochus, 6-4, 6-2
Jean-Rene Lisnard def. Donald Young, 6-4, 7-5
Jeff Morrison def. Stefan Koubek 6-2, 6-4
Ivo Minar def. Juan Monaco, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
Mariano Zabaleta def. Gilles Muller, 6-4, 6-2
Arnaud Clement def. Tomas Berdych 6-3, 3-0, retired
Ricardo Mello def. Santiago Ventura, 6-0, 1-0, retired
Julien Benneteau def. Sargis Sargsian, 6-0, 6-3
Olivier Rochus def. Ivo Karlovic, 5-7, 7-6, (7-5), 7-6 (7-3)
Davide Sanguinetti def. Jan Hernych , 7-6 (8-6), 6-1
Bjorn Phau def. Alex Calatrava, 7-6 (9-7), 6-0
Victor Hanescu def. Antony Dupuis, 6-4, 6-1
Florian Mayer def. Lars Burgsmuller, 6-2, 6-3
Paul-Henri Mathieu def. Michal Tabara, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4
Nicolas Lapentti def. Karol Beck, 6-1, 7-6 (10-8)

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http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/afp/20050324/capt.sge.aza53.240305225800.photo01.photo.default-389x265.jpg
Philippoussis finding plenty of tough obstacles to comeback
By Richard Hinds

For world No.188 Mark Philippoussis, it is a case of another week, another wildcard, another chance to make the breakthrough as he struggles to get his game - and his career - back on track.

Philippoussis takes on the diminutive Belgian Christophe Rochus in the first round of the Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami on Friday (Sydney time). Once, that would have seemed a straightforward assignment for the former Wimbledon finalist. However, just last week Rochus beat the Australian in a second-tier Challenger event in Florida.

Dropping back to the events usually frequented by up-and-comers and struggling journeymen - the field at the Sunrise Challenger was actually much stronger than most such events - brought mixed results for Philippoussis.

He beat American Jeff Morrison in the first round before going down to Rochus in three sets. He also made the final of the doubles with Jan-Michael Gambill, but was forced to withdraw before the match because of hamstring soreness.

However, while Philippoussis's body has become famously fragile since undergoing two knee operations and suffering an adductor muscle injury that forced him to withdraw from the Australian Open, this time he escaped major damage and practised without inconvenience in Miami. Despite winning just one regular tour match since Wimbledon last year, he also has not lost his appeal with tournament organisers, who not only continue to dish out wildcards but have scheduled his match against Rochus for centre court.

The $3.45 million Masters Series event is another opportunity for Philippoussis to gain some valuable match practice and ranking points ahead of the French Open and Wimbledon. However, even if he gets past Rochus, he would face the 15th-seeded Fernando Gonzalez of Chile in the second round.

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Nadal not troubled by Spanish highs and injury lows
by Neil Harman, Times Online

HE HAS beaten a player he regards as unbeatable, thrived in an atmosphere that has paralysed the finest of athletes, he is 18 and yet he retains an adult’s appreciation of his struggles and his limitations. It would seem that the world is Rafael Nadal’s oyster, but the Majorcan is not ready to reach out for it just yet.

To those who saw a 15-year-old make a memorable ATP Tour debut in Monte Carlo three springs ago, stun Roger Federer in the Nasdaq-100 Open here last March — one of only six defeats the world No 1 suffered all year — and help to deliver Spain to Davis Cup glory in December with a lung-bursting victory over Andy Roddick, Nadal’s capabilities are endless, his future immense. But it is because, in between those enormous highs, he has known what it is like to suffer physical setbacks, to be powerless as the world passed him by, that Nadal retains a sense of perspective rare for someone of his talents.

He is No 31 in the Indesit ATP rankings but the sixth-best player this year, with back-to-back tournament victories in Costa do Sauípe, Brazil, and Acapulco, both on clay, once he had transferred there after losing to Lleyton Hewitt in a five-set classic in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Those, he refreshingly accepts, were the limit of his ambitions. “When I went to Brazil, I knew I could win, the same in Acapulco, but I don’t see myself right now as a grand-slam winner — this is real,” he said.

“I wanted to win three matches in Australia and I did that, but I played one long doubles, a five-set singles against [Mikhail] Youzhny, then a 7-6 third-set loss in doubles the day before facing Hewitt. We were even until the fourth set, which I won even though I had bad cramps. In the fifth, I could not move.”

Although he may think that he cannot win a grand-slam title yet, Nadal must, one assumes, have an idea where he might succeed. He responds with a very non-Spanish answer. “I have never played Roland Garros [he has missed the last two French Opens with injury], I like all the slams, but Wimbledon is special,” he said. “If I choose one to win, it is Wimbledon. I think the Spanish players have a good chance — [Carlos] Moyà and [Feliciano] López have been to the fourth round — and if we get a good draw . . .” He rolls his deep brown eyes.

Those eyes were staring out from every Spanish front page three months ago, when Nadal was the unlikely hero of the victory over the United States in the Davis Cup final in Seville. Behind the scenes before the tie, the intensity of the debate over who should play had reached fierce levels. “It was my most important moment and my most difficult one,” Nadal said . “There were problems, because all players want to play and the captains tell me I am to play instead of [Juan Carlos] Ferrero. I was going to tell them, ‘let Ferrero play, I will be happy’. But Moyà came to me and said, ‘Don’t be stupid, you are playing great, better than Ferrero, I am 100 per cent sure you can win.’ ” And so he did.

Moyà had been there to help his fellow Majorcan through his three-month absence from the tour in the middle of last year because of a stress fracture in his ankle, when Nadal’s morale sunk and his ranking slipped from the thirties towards No 70.

“There were days when I would not talk to anyone, even my close friends and family,” he said. “But it helps to appreciate what you have when it is not there. It was a tough injury because it took a long time to heal and when you have achieved something and you have to achieve it all again, you wonder if you can do it.”

Nadal is living, boyish proof that a career can seem even sweeter the second time around. Today he plays Rainer Schüttler, runner up at the Australian Open two years ago, in the second round of the Nasdaq-100. Next, it could be Roddick. What a prospect.

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Hewitt has cyst removed
Herald Sun

LLEYTON Hewitt has had successful surgery to correct a chronic foot problem.

The world No. 2 returned to Adelaide yesterday to have a cyst removed from his right foot and could be sidelined for up to six weeks.

Hewitt is on crutches after the operation and not expected to resume training for two weeks.

He was treated by Davis Cup medico David Brooks.

Hewitt has been plagued by foot soreness throughout his career.

He was troubled again by the problem in his losing final against world No. 1 Roger Federer in Indian Wells at the weekend.

Hewitt had previously had corrective surgery for the same injury. He will miss the Nasdaq-100 in Miami.

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Agassi Ready to Play at Key Biscayne
By STEVEN WINE

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. - Andre Agassi first came to Key Biscayne in 1987, a 16-year-old heartthrob with lots of hair and flair. He's back this week, a six-time champion and the oldest player in the tournament, bald and battling a bum toe but ready to fend off 140-mph serves and questions about retirement.

"This sport has given me so much that my hope would be to give back as much as I can for as long as I can," Agassi said Thursday, two days before his opening match at the Nasdaq-100 Open. "How long I consider it to be something of a useful effort is hard for me to say. I would hope to believe that when I'm playing my best tennis, I still believe I can win any match that I'm playing."

In a field that includes top-ranked Roger Federer, defending champion Andy Roddick and Australian Open champion Marat Safin, Agassi is well down the list of favorites. He turns 35 next month and is hampered by a sore left toe that forced him to withdraw before his quarterfinal match at the Pacific Life Open last week.

The toe remains swollen, but an MRI revealed no structural damage, Agassi said.

"It's probably only 30 percent bigger than my other toe now, which is a big step forward," he said. "Certainly this tournament gives me more motivation to come here and to push through it. I'll be in a position to hopefully play well."

Seeded players received an opening-round bye and will see their first action Friday. Among those joining them in the second round were Kim Clijsters, coming off her first tournament title in 13 months, and injury-plagued Mark Philippoussis, who hobbled to victory after hurting his left ankle in the next-to-last game.

Also winning was Mardy Fish, who served 34 aces, the most at Key Biscayne since at least 1991, while 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic hit 30 aces but came up short against 5-foot-5 Olivier Rochus.

"When he's serving, you have the feeling he's just behind the net," said Rochus, who won 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3). He'll play Federer on Saturday.

Agassi will take the court at Key Biscayne for the 70th time when he opens against Paul-Henri Mathieu. The tournament has changed names and formats several times since his first match on the island, a five-set loss to Thomas Muster.

"I was down two sets to love, then lost my serve at 4-5 in the fifth," Agassi said. "I'm convinced I can remember every match here."

His big hitting zone is well suited to the unpredictable Florida wind, and he won the tournament for the first time in 1990 by beating Stefan Edberg. He edged Pete Sampras in a winner-take-all tiebreaker for the 1995 championship, and afterward they flew together to Italy for a Davis Cup match. From 2001 to 2003 he won 18 consecutive matches at Key Biscayne _ and three titles.

He didn't always like South Florida, but he does now.

"There are a lot of times where sort of nostalgia hits you," Agassi said. "You see the same faces years later, and you realize that in between all these tennis matches life is happening, and it's a pretty amazing feeling."

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Photos for the day :)

Oops. I missed it again.
http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11214/125762811056.jpg

Juanqui escaped from the hospital in time to win his match.
http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11214/125762844698.jpg

Brendan Evans: Not ready for primetime.
http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11214/125762855912.jpg

Poor Juan seems to be suffering from March Madness.
http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11223/125957332889.jpg

Penn and Teller make a surprise appearance.
http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11223/125957355335.jpg

aceit
03-25-2005, 03:18 AM
Thanks a lot for the pictures. :) They are too funny!

foul_dwimmerlaik
03-25-2005, 07:16 AM
Thanks for the articles, great read.

ataptc
03-25-2005, 09:15 AM
:lol: at the captions!

bad gambler
03-25-2005, 09:57 AM
cheers for the read, please keep them coming for the next week :)

jmp
03-25-2005, 01:28 PM
Tangy, this thread is great - match results, articles, pictures! Keep it coming! :D

Peoples
03-25-2005, 03:04 PM
What better than:

Guillermo "The Wound" Coria.

They can't beat Alfonso's Guillermo "Zvonareva" Coria.

tangerine_dream
03-26-2005, 04:41 AM
So how did our boys do today? :)

NASDAQ-100 Open Friday Results
Second round

Marat Safin (3) def. Irakli Labadze, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5)
Rafael Nadal (29) def. Rainer Schuettler, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5)
David Ferrer def. Xavier Malisse (32), 3-6, 5-5, walkover
Fernando Verdasco def. Andy Roddick (2), 7-6 (11-9), 4-3, retired
Carlos Moya (5) def. James Blake, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (8-6)
David Nalbandian (8) def. Jose Acasuso, 6-3, 6-3
Juan Carlos Ferrero def. Guillermo Canas (11), 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
Tommy Robredo (12) def. Jonas Bjorkman, 6-4, 6-0
Ivan Ljubicic (13) def. Alberto Martin, 6-3, 6-3
Gael Monfils def. Nikolay Davydenko (14), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
Hyung-Taik Lee def. Mikhail Youzhny (17), 6-1, 6-4
Igor Andreev def. Andrei Pavel (20), 6-2, 6-1
Vincent Spadea (21) def. Robby Ginepri, 6-3, 6-4
Jiri Novak (24) def. Kevin Kim, 6-1, 6-2
Thomas Johansson (25) def. Greg Rusedski, 6-3, 6-4
Dominik Hrbaty (26) def. Jarkko Nieminen, 6-3, 6-4

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No Room for Ego at the Top
by David Hyde
March 25, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE -- Roger Federer should be embarrassed at being the No. 1 player in tennis. Just look at him. He has no agent, no publicist, no security guard, not even a coach for the TV cameras to focus on.

His entire entourage typically consists of two people -- his girlfriend and trainer. That's it. You call this the world's top tennis player?

And ego? Doesn't No. 1 come with a let-net full of that?

Well, earlier this week, at the Nasdaq-100's pro-am day, Federer didn't call a limo or even a golf cart to ferry him across the tournament grounds to his match in the way tennis heavyweights always do.

He walked. Alone. Amid gawking fans.

"Isn't that ...?"

"Why's he ...?

Mr. No. 1 In The World even stopped and autographed for whoever asked.

"I don't need special treatment," Federer explained.

You think Jimmy Connors ever said that? Or even Pete Sampras? You think John McEnbrat ever won the men's Player of the Year award and was voted by fellow competitors winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsman of the Year trophy?

Don't winning and sportsmanship run crosscurrent to each other?

Well, Federer picked up both prizes earlier this week. The only other player to win both in the same year got the sportsmanship award named for him.

Of course, the way people talk in tennis, Federer might get his name on the Player of the Year trophy before he's through. He has lost one of 27 matches in 2005. He has won a record 17 finals dating to 2003. He won three of four Grand Slam events last year, the first player to accomplish that since Mats Wilander in 1988.

He's beaten No. 2 Lleyton Hewitt in seven straight matches and 12 consecutive sets.

Listen to how someone who knew how to role-play No. 1 with the big agent and entourage talks about Federer.

"There's probably not a department in his game that couldn't be considered the best in that department," Andre Agassi said. "You watch him play Hewitt and everybody marvels at Hewitt's speed, as well as myself. And you start to realize, `Is it possible Federer even moves better?'"

"Then you watch him play Andy [Roddick], and you go, `Andy has a big forehand. Is it possible Federer's forehand is the best in the game?' You watch him at the net, you watch him serve-volley somebody that doesn't return so well and you put him up there with the best in every department."

"You see him play from the ground against those that play from the ground for a living, and argue he does it better than anybody."

Agassi gives a dramatic pause.

"So he's good," he says.

Meanwhile, here's how Mr. Humblespeak explains his success.

"Maybe the difference is big in the rankings, but I feel they're all right there to beat me when I'm maybe just a little bit off," he said.

He talks that way in five languages, too. The Swiss native is fluent in German, French and English. He also speaks some Swedish and Italian. He can count to 10 in Turkish, too, thanks to a kid who immigrated to his elementary school. The kid was picked on by several Swiss boys, including Federer, whose mother suggested he hear about the Turkish kid's life instead.

Maybe this helps explain why Federer is a such an abnormal No. 1. His parents didn't shove him into the sport and then use him as a piggybank. Why, at 14, his mother actually took away his rackets until he promised to behave properly on the court.

Now he's winning the sportsmanship trophy on the court and acting even better off it. A few months ago, he suggested the top players do something to help tsunami victims and a charity tournament went off.

Two weeks ago, he was in South Africa (his mother is South African), where his new foundation educates children in the ghetto of New Brighton.

"Tennis is just part of life," he said.

He's 23, and he's got it figured out.

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The future is here in Gael Monfils
March 25, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE · Take a stroll.

Leave the familiar faces like Roddick and Williams and Federer and Sharapova behind.

Head to the court less ogled.

See what the future looks like.

At every major tennis tournament, there is a player like this. One player you know is going somewhere, though you can't be sure how soon. One player you can say you saw when. All of today's featured attractions at the Nasdaq-100 Open were that player once.

So today, check out Gael Monfils (pronounced Mon-FISSE) out on Court 6.

If you had Wednesday night, when Monfils, 18, faced countryman Michael Llodra in front a couple hundred on the grandstand, this is what you would have seen:

A baby-faced, bright-eyed, cat-quick, wiry, raw, combustible and intermittently undisciplined 6-foot-3 baseliner in alternating fluorescent Nike sleeveless and shiny shirts, rallying from a set down to wear out a crafty, steady, southpaw serve-and-volleyer in the third.

A star in the making.

"In the first set, I was nervous," Monfils said of facing his good friend. "To break him was very difficult."

Especially since he frequently appeared close to a breaking point, challenging the chair umpire and screaming at himself after questionable calls and errant shots. Still, Monfils hung in, moving Llodra more to ultimately move on.

"I tried to have positive thinking," Monfils said.

So it was another positive, baby step.

There isn't much doubt among tennis experts that Monfils, who won three of the four junior Grand Slams in 2004, will someday take the big step to elite. Only Stefan Edberg had ever won all four majors as a junior, back in 1983, and Monfils fell just short at the U.S. Open. Edberg, you may recall, had a rather fine career.

Today, Monfils will try to improve his own professional record to 9-7 against yet another style, that of 14th seed Nikolay Davydenko, a 23-year-old right-hander with $1.8 million in earnings.
Win or lose, Monfils will be the show.

First, it's impossible to ignore how unusual he is in the men's game, which has had few black rising stars since Arthur Ashe.

Plus, he has star-quality charisma that translates from on to off the court, and even into his measured yet passable English.

"I like the USA," he says. "You know, Miami, New York."

The Paris-born son of a soccer star from Guadeloupe and nurse from Martinique likes to sing French rap and soul. He loves McDonald's -- one could envision him shouting "oui oui" to Le Big Mac on international TV screens. Oh, and he dunks basketballs on his days off.

His favorite players?

"Carmelo Anthony and James LeBron."

Why Anthony?

"I like his style. And how he plays. And he's young."

The Nuggets' forward is actually two years older, and still making many errors of youth.

So Monfils surely must make his. He is traveling only with two coaches, former pro player Thierry Champion and Remy Barbarin, a duo Monfils calls "not young, but young in the head." They know there is work to do, especially with balancing his big frame. They even thought of skipping this tournament to work on conditioning in the Alps. But Monfils had played well of late, so they took a wild card.

Sometimes, Barbarin wishes Monfils would struggle more in matches, like he does in practice.
"If he loses one match, then you can talk to him," Barbarin said "He's a young player. He wants to improve, but sometimes, he doesn't know the best thing to do. If we explain something, then he'll understand it and do it."

So, what of the McDonald's?

"Big trouble for us," Barbarin says. "If he wants to make his career, he has to improve a lot. But he has big potential."

The idea is for enough realization by age 20 to go five sets late in a major.

Can he be a big star in the States?

"Maybe," Monfils said with a shrug and smile after slipping into the second round here. "Maybe. Maybe."

You never know.

So you should go.

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Life good for Roddick
And he'll be happier if he can beat Roger Federer.
By Charles Bricker
March 25, 2005

FISHER ISLAND · The sky was too blue. The shrubs were too green. The ambiance was too luxurious.

And there was Andy Roddick, behind the wheel of a speeding golf cart, making an abrupt left turn Thursday afternoon into a parking spot at the tennis center right here in Perfect World, this opulent, leafy island of the rich in the middle of Biscayne Bay.

While his coach, Dean Goldfine, loosened his death grip on the passenger side as the cart jolted to a halt, Roddick popped out, smiling broadly, leaner and physically stronger than I've ever seen him and appearing, well, perfect.

The only thing that could make him happier than he is today is a win over Roger Federer, and, despite four straight losses to the God of Tennis and eight defeats in nine matches, Roddick insists he is close. Very close.

"The thing that excites me is that a couple of matches last year were deceivingly close," he said. "Even in Toronto, I'm at 3-4, love-40 and he hits five straight aces. One of those points and I'm up a break. I realize how close I am."

As Roddick begins defense of his Nasdaq title this afternoon against left-handed Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, there is no grand plan for overcoming Federer, no one shot that Roddick feels he has to perfect to even the odds.

"You can't become obsessed with beating someone who is arguably the best that ever played," Roddick said. "You have to focus on what you do best and I know I'm a better player than I was when I was No. 1 or at the end of last year. I just have to keep making progress.

"One of the most underrated things about Roger is how he moves to the ball. He does all this artistry. You see all the pretty shots, all the highlights, but no one focuses on the fact that it takes him only three steps to get from one side of the court to the other and, with a fully extended racket, he can hit completely under control."

There are, said Roddick, lots of meat and potato players on the tour and Federer can do all the meat and potato stuff. But no one makes the transition from defense to offense like him.

"I crank two balls, he gets them back. I let up on the third and he's on it. You can't defend that. So you've got to take your opportunities when you get him."

Roddick pointed to the players that give Federer the most trouble himself, Ivan Ljubicic and Marat Safin, who beat him in the semifinals of the Australian Open. The common denominator? A big serve, big enough to get you through the rough spots until that opportunity to break comes.

A big part of Roddic's progress this year involved terminating Brad Gilbert as his coach and hiring Goldfine in December. Out with Mr. High Profile, in with the quiet professionalism of the man from Aventura who spent seven years coaching Todd Martin.

It wasn't easy to split from someone who had guided him to his first Grand Slam title and infused him with a better understanding of the game.

Roddick called it a clash of personalities. He and Gilbert haven't spoken since the split, despite Gilbert's presence at the Australian Open doing television commentary.

One of the most important things Goldfine brought to this teaming was a higher emphasis on off-court fitness and Roddick raves about how good it feels not to be nicked up with all manner of minor problems, how good it feels now to come off the court feeling strong enough to go immediately to the gym.

"It's just kind of secluded here," said Roddick, explaining the attraction of Fisher Island. He and Andre Agassi met at the tennis facility Thursday morning and trained in front of just seven people.

Boris Becker once had a place here. So did Jim Courier. Agassi and Roddick rent condos for the fortnight and, though they most often take the ferry and drive to the Nasdaq site, there are times when Agassi hires a helicopter and buzzes about five minutes over the water to the grounds.

"I'm sure he'd let me tag along if we left at the same time," Roddick said, joking.

Roddick's in a good place mentally right now. I hope it continues.

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Today's tennis players are loud, proud and rowdy, and fans seem to like it
March 23, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE · AY-EEEEE-YAAAAA!

It's not easy translating Maria Sharapova's soprano shriek onto newsprint, but that comes close. Now take it up two octaves, add about 100 decibels and you've got it.

In a sport that has become increasingly noisy on court with annoying grunts, shrill caterwauling and ear-splitting exhortations of “Come on!'” no one assaults your ears like Sharapova.

About midway through her opening sets, once she has settled into a groove, she becomes loud enough to overpower the terrifying screams of Janet Leigh at the Bates Motel.

There is, says longtime Nasdaq-100 Open and Wimbledon tournament referee Alan Mills, no doubt that on-court noise is at an all-time high.

“You've got people turning down the volume on their television sets just to watch a match,” Mills said.

He had in mind the Australian Open semifinal between Sharapova and Serena Williams, with both players blaring so loudly every time they struck the ball that it might have been mistaken for the soundtrack from a movie about the Marquis de Sade.

The screams, grunts, whining and bellowing begin today at 11 a.m. at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne with the playing of the Nasdaq-100 Open, the second-most important of U.S. tennis tournaments.

It won't have one of its loudest participants, the feisty Australian Lleyton Hewitt, whose reverberating cries of “Come on!” punctuate most of his matches. Hewitt, who would have been seeded second, pulled out with a toe injury.

But there will be no lack of vocal players of either gender, and, while tennis purists aren't too happy about the elevating level of noise, there are a lot of fans who will tell you it's about time the players threw a little character into the game.

“I think anything that shows personality is good for the sport, ” said Jeff Salzenstein, 31, the former Stanford All-American, who has bridged two generations of players from the relative quiet of the Pete Sampras/Steffi Graf era to today's just-about-anything-goes period. He has no problem with Hewitt's loud self-pumping. “I think any type of emotion shown is a very positive thing, as long as it's directed in the right way, though if it's used for gamesmanship, I'm not sure it's the best thing. Fans don't want to see a bunch of robots out there, ” said Salzenstein.

Most players tune out opponents' noise. “It doesn't bother me at all, ” said former No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne, who is making a comeback here after nearly a year of battling illness and injury.

But obviously, in certain situations, it bothers some. In the third round of the Aussie Open, Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela became so irritated with Hewitt's “Come ons” that he spit in his direction during a changeover.

Later, another Argentine, David Nalbandian, criticized Hewitt for not showing “respect” to the feelings of players on the other side of the net.

Grunting has been around since Jimmy Connors' days and later was taken to a higher pitch by Monica Seles. But it's far more pervasive now, and you can trace it to a lot of coaches who teach their juniors that it's smart to inhale while awaiting a ball, then exhaling, loudly if necessary, as they strike.

Roger Federer, the best player in the world, didn't get that message. He doesn't need to exhale loudly in order to relax. Nor does Henin-Hardenne. “I'm never going to be like that, ” she said of the grunters that surround her.

But perhaps half the players on tour are filling the air with “oofs” and “yaas” when they hit the ball and any number of exhortations designed to push themselves forward emotionally.

Dominik Hrbaty of the Slovak Republic is one of the silent players, but he likes players with personality. “John McEnroe ... people liked him because he was loud. Yannick Noah ... he was always doing crazy stuff on court and joking with the audience. And Connors because he was fighting so hard all the time,” said Hrbaty.

But when they had faded, the game went largely into a period of high decorum with the exception of Seles, who grunted so loudly that British reporters at Wimbledon hooked up a grunt-o-meter to measure the noise, and Seles' opponents formally complained.

So did one of Sharapova's opponents at Wimbledon in 2003. In a first-round match, Sharapova's shrieking became so loud that Ashley Harkleroad in the second set called out, acerbically, “Louder!”

There are players who can turn the noise on and off. Serena Williams can play with a hush until she gets into one of those protracted struggles with Sharapova or Jennifer Capriati. And then it gets loud, as if it builds with the drama.

Venus Williams once was a lot louder than she is now, though she can still pierce the air when she gets into tight second or third sets.

Guillermo Canas, the blue-collar Argentine grinder, plays a lot of long matches, and the longer they go, the louder he gets.

Gustavo Kuerten, the three-time French Open winner who is recovering from hip surgery, hits the ball every time with a pronounced “ooo-wah” that is audible in any part of the stadium.

Andy Roddick is probably right behind Hewitt in loud, self-pumping remarks, and then there is Marat Safin, who makes most of his noise slamming his rackets against hardcourts or changeover chairs.

How do fans feel about the increasing racket? You can only guess, but it seems as if more people are calling out “Come on!” during matches, even when Hewitt isn't playing. That must mean something.

“We like it the noise,” said Doug and Debbie Morris, who were at the grounds Tuesday, visiting from Minnesota and watching the qualifying. “It adds to the matches.”

Rick Leach, 40, and one of tennis' enduring figures, has a more traditional feel for the game. “I don't buy the grunting,” he said. “You see too many players who turn it on and off. It's almost like a ploy to get to your opponents.

“I've noticed it as a spectator, and it's gotten a lot worse. Monica seems pretty minor compared to what you're hearing these days.”

But he doesn't mind the fist pumping and emotion showed on court. “It's a competitive game, and the fans appreciate it. I don't have a problem with any of that,” said Leach.

It wouldn't matter much if he, or anyone else, did. The noise is here to stay, and if you can't handle it, you're at the wrong sporting event.

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Photos from today:

“Thanks, man. I was faking.”
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050325/capt.flla11503251914.nasdaq_100_open_flla115.jpg

“Yes! Lost another point.”
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“Couldn’t fight off Marat even if I tried.”
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050326/capt.flla13903260423.nasdaq_100_open_flla139.jpg

“No, Andy, kissing the boo-boo won't help.”
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Saturday Preview:
The second round of the NASDAQ-100 Open continues in Miami with top-seed Roger Federer, 2004 runner-up Guillermo Coria and six-time champion Andre Agassi in action on Stadium Court.

In the day session, a confident Guillermo Coria hopes to repeat the success he had last year when he withstood some stiff competition on his run to the finals against Andy Roddick. "I feel 10 out of 10," Coria said. "I've been working very hard and I feel very good. This tournament helps me a lot because I like it very much. Everything is perfect." Coria was down 7-6(2), 3-6, 1-6 in the 2004 final before injury forced him to concede. The No. 4 seeded Argentine will meet qualifier Davide Sanguinetti for the second time in three years in Miami. In 2003, Coria dispatched the Italian in the third round 6-3, 7-6(4).

Roger Federer is seeking back-to-back ATP Masters Series titles, having defended his Pacific Life Open title last week in Indian Wells. The most-dominant player on the circuit will meet his former doubles partner Olivier Rochus of Belgium. Rochus tamed the towering Croatian Ivo Karlovic in the first round to set up the meeting with Federer and had this to say: "I know pretty well Roger, so I was pretty happy today, you know, first to win and then now to play Roger. It will be a great experience and, you know, I have nothing to lose. It's just fantastic."

Federer is currently riding a 16-match winning streak, and enters Miami having made a personal-best 26-1 start to the season. He is 13-6 here and last year suffered one of only six losses when the fiery Spaniard Rafael Nadal bested him in the third round. In 2002, Federer was runner-up to Andre Agassi -- the last time Agassi beat the Swiss star.

Agassi will meet Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu on Stadium Court in the night proceedings. Agassi is an amazing 57-12 in Miami with a record six titles. His legacy in finals here includes wins over Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg, Goran Ivanesivic, Carlos Moya, Jan-Michael Gambill and Federer. He has a lifetime 2-0 record against Mathieu including a five-set grind fest at Roland Garros in 2002.

Other exciting Day Four match-ups include Germany's Nicolas Kiefer and Florian Mayer squaring off, and Mardy Fish taking on the No. 16 seed Tommy Haas. On the comeback trail are wildcard Mark Philippoussis who meets No. 15 seed Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Lapentti who made it through qualifying and the first round to take on Sebastien Grosjean.

jole
03-26-2005, 04:54 AM
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050326/capt.flla13903260423.nasdaq_100_open_flla139.jpg

Solid gold.

Booshie
03-26-2005, 06:18 AM
Thanks for posting the articles and pictures. :yeah: This is a really fun thread to read.

jacobhiggins
03-26-2005, 06:49 AM
LoL What the hell happend to him, LMAO, OH MAN THAT IS GREAT. I mean...what happend to him? Imagine watching the match and seeing how that occurred, i mean....WTF? lol

tangerine_dream
03-27-2005, 05:20 AM
Time to check up on our boys’ progress :)

NASDAQ-100 Open Saturday Results
Second Round (completed)

Roger Federer (1) def. Olivier Rochus, 6-3, 6-1
Guillermo Coria (4) def. Davide Sanguinetti, 6-1, 6-4
Tim Henman (6) def. Ivo Minar, 6-3, 7-5
Gaston Gaudio (7) def. Bjorn Phau, 6-2, 6-2
Andre Agassi (9) def. Paul-Henri Mathieu, 7-5, 6-4
Jeff Morrison def. Joachim Johansson (10), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
Fernando Gonzalez (15) def. Mark Philippoussis (walkover)
Tommy Haas (16) def. Mardy Fish, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5
Mario Ancic (18) def. Ricardo Mello, 6-1, 6-4
Arnaud Clement def. Feliciano Lopez (19), 6-1, 7-5
Florian Mayer def. Nicolas Kiefer (22), 6-4, 6-2
Radek Stepanek (23) def. Julien Benneteau, 7-5, 6-0
Sebastien Grosjean (27) def. Nicolas Lapentti, 6-1, 6-3
Juan Ignacio Chela (28) def. Jean-Rene Lisnard, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2
Mariano Zabaleta def. Paradorn Srichaphan (30), 7-6 (7-5), 6-3
Taylor Dent (31) def. Victor Hanescu, 2-6, 6-1, 4-0, retired

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Nick’s Picks for Sunday

Vince Spadea vs. Ivan Ljubicic

Ljubicic is nobody to play around with. He is very dangerous, explosive and can hit winners at any time.

Spadea is a character and I am sure he will go directly to Hollywood when his playing days are over. He will fight you, he will move at all times, he will hit big returns and will moan and groan.

Prediction -- The Miami crowd will pull Spadea through a real dogfight unless Spadea gets too emotional. Spadea in 3 sets.

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Spadea Finds Comfort Zone

Vince Spadea of Boca Raton -- at 23rd the second-highest ranked American left in the NASDAQ-100 Open men's field behind Andre Agassi (10) -- found his comfort zone again on Key Biscayne, and Friday it felt just right.

Spadea, 30, took exactly one hour to defeat fellow American Robby Ginepri of Marietta, Ga., 6-3, 6-4.

''I have an underlying strength that I don't even realize I have when I'm hitting passing shots and I'm playing aggressive [here],'' Spadea said. “I think it's sort of like mental padding I have here that you realize you don't have when you're playing in other events. But when you come back here you're like, ‘Wow!'

“There's something advantageous about people screaming my name out. Humans, we just love and thrive on support, on encouragement, on the positive. And I think it's very obvious when you see home crowds in sports, Davis Cup matches or even supporters among your small group.''

Last year, Spadea had his best pro season by finishing a year-end best No. 19, capturing his first career ATP title at Scottsdale, Ariz. Then he advanced to the NASDAQ semifinals, losing to Andy Roddick.

Friday, he had eight aces and won 89 percent of his first serves.

''I set the tone with my serve and it just allowed my life to be easier on the groundstroke points,'' Spadea said. “I'm preparing for the clay season and I'm trying to get really fit. This is great preparation for that.''

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No. 1 junior learns patience
Donald Young, a bright prospect for American men's tennis, lost in two close sets but said, ‘I'm getting a little more confident, I guess.'

Miami Herald
March 25, 2005

This isn't about winning.

That was the hard part for Donald Young to grasp. How could winning not be the objective when all he has ever done is win? Besides, when you're 15, simply making progress doesn't have the same appeal as the rush of victory.

But Young, the world's top-ranked junior boys' player, accepted a wild-card entry into the NASDAQ-100 Open as an opportunity to measure himself, rather than make a name for himself. So, despite losing 6-4, 7-5 Thursday to Frenchman Jean-Rene Lisnard in first-round action at Crandon Park, Young got exactly what he wanted out of his brief appearance in the tournament -- just his fourth professional match.

''I think the confidence is the big thing,'' said Donald Young Sr., the teenager's father.

The adolescent Young, a tall, lanky easy-going left-hander, has finally grasped the difficult concept. This is a process, he now admits, as he tries to move from putting pressure on himself to win in his pro matches.

''It was a little hard at first, but now it's a lot better,'' Donald Jr. said. “Yeah, I understand.''

A GOOD START

Using that philosophy as the barometer, this was a rousing success for the rising American star who tournament officials believe is the youngest player ever in the main draw.

For the first time in any of his pro matches, Young found himself ahead. He spurted to a 3-1 advantage in the first set against the 25-year-old Lisnard, ranked 100 in the ATP rankings. Young's finesse kept Lisnard thinking and moving and guessing throughout, though the veteran's craftiness and strength in the end contributed to the young 150-pounder's loss.

Lisnard, a qualifier, rallied in the first set and stormed back after Young began the second set 3-0. It was a disappointing series of events that led to Young's breakdown and Lisnard's victory, but Young wasn't going to let Lisnard get off the Grandstand Court without a fight.

With Lisnard trailing 5-4 in the second, Young forced three break points before Lisnard managed to pull to 5-5. Things didn't go well from there, but Young showed something right then.

''I'm getting a little more confident, I guess,'' he said.

Good thing, because this clearly isn't the junior circuit.

''In the juniors, when I was up like 5-3, they were probably giving me that game,'' Young said. “Instead, [Linard] kept playing and came back and won the match.''

Taking advantage of such scenarios on the junior circuit has allowed Young to dominate there. He became the youngest male to win the Australian Open junior title in January, beginning 2005 with a performance much like those he displayed in 2004. Last year, he advanced to the championship of the Orange Bowl tournament also at Key Biscayne, and won the Easter Bowl tournament in Palm Springs, Calif., in April.

STAR ON THE RISE

Young already has been identified as a player who can become one of America's next generation of stars. He joins 17-year-old American Jessica Kirkland in this tournament as two young players with bright futures. Kirkland, also a wild card, lost 6-2, 6-2 to Akiko Morigami of Japan in her opening match.

Young already has endorsement deals with Nike (clothes and shoes) and Head (rackets), and with more success, more support will come. But the success isn't as high a priority right now as the learning. So, Young isn't stressing about losing again.

He finally understands this process and likens his development on the pro level to that in juniors.

''I know in a couple years, I'll be here,'' Young said. “In juniors, I [used to lose] in first round of Wimbledon, first round U.S. Open, first round French Open. Now, I just won the Australian Open and I'm aiming for No. 1. Hopefully it happens like that.''

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Malisse loses control
A routine win for the British No1 in Florida was overshadowed by an extraordinary tantrum from a former Wimbledon semi-finalist.

By Barry Flatman
March 27, 2005

There was Tim Henman doing everything a sixth seed should do in outplaying a relative rookie. And on the other, there was Xavier Malisse getting defaulted for swearing at a female line judge and then aggravating his crime by throwing a ball at her.

The Belgian now faces a heavy fine, the withdrawal of all prize-money won at the Nasdaq 100 Open and a suspension that could keep him out of the French Open.

Malisse, aged 24 and currently ranked 34th in the world but once as high as 19th and a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2002, lost his temper within sight of victory in his match with Spain’s David Ferrer. He won the first set 6-3 and was serving to round out the second when he was twice foot-faulted. A verbal onslaught was then directed at the line-judge, so loud and explicit that French umpire Cedric Mourier felt he had no option but to disqualify Malisse and award victory to Ferrer.

As the Belgian continued his diatribe, Mourier left his chair and stood between player and official but Malisse then threw a ball that hit the line-judge’s arm and caused deep bruising.

“I threw the ball, but I didn’t get defaulted for that,” said Malisse. “The line judge misunderstood the words. Of course I am going to get mad after playing an hour and a half in the sun and I hadn’t done anything wrong the whole match. Yes, I took it a little personal because it meant all the hard work I’d done was thrown away by one person.”

Malisse was reprimanded for audible obscenities towards officials at Wimbledon four years ago and believes his reputation goes before him. “Then, I said something wrong and admitted it, but now I know and believe in what I did and said,” he said. “I’m going to try and turn it around because I’m not going to go down for something I didn’t do. I’m afraid of serious punishment. It’s like putting somebody on death row for something they didn’t do. I didn’t swear.”

The ATP refused to make any official comment, but supervisor Gayle Bradshaw will submit a report to Richard Ings, the executive vice-president of rules and competition, who will study the case and allow Malisse to put his point of view before deciding on his punishment.

In contrast, there was hardly a murmur from Henman as he swept past the young Czech Ivo Minar 6-3 7-5 to ensure his place in the third round. With temperatures close to 90F it was a day to conserve energy and employ common sense. Minar showed he has the potential to progress to much higher levels when he reached the final of the pre-Australian Open event at Sydney in January. Among his victims was Russian Nicolay Davydenko , who little more than a week later at Melbourne Park subjected Henman to one of his most humiliating defeats.

But the Henman of yesterday was a different player. He was accurate with his serving, and precise with his volleys. Minar only managed two break points and Henman dealt with both expertly, unleashing the sort of inch-perfect serve that gave his opponent no chance of making a return.

Next, Henman faces Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Chela, a player he beat with consummate ease in his passage to the French Open semi-final last June. Chela positioned himself close to Henman’s court. “I don’t know what he was doing there because he must be pretty aware how I’m going to play,” said the 30 year-old Englishman, making his 10th visit to this tournament and still convinced he can surpass his previous best performance of reaching the semi-final in 1998. “I’m always going to be aggressive on this sort of court and today with the heat, there was an added incentive to get the match over as quickly as possible.”

Henman insisted he is now totally at one with mind and body for the first time since the beginning of last summer’s Wimbledon. The back problems which hindered him throughout the second half of last year, wrecked his close season training schedule and then incapacitated him in Australia, finally seem a thing of the past. And after, by his own admission, becoming something of a grumpy old man last week in Indian Wells, self-analysis has produced a happier individual.

“For some unaccountable reason I just had an attitude problem for four matches, but I’ve given myself a good talking to and now feel determined not to get distracted by things.

“From about the second game against [Guillermo] Canas last week, I was just irritable. I don’t know why. It just happens. Perhaps it’s just age, the over-30 syndrome, but I don’t want it to happen again.”

On a day when the men’s top seed Roger Federer, of Switzerland, eased past Christophe Rochus, of Belgium, 6-3 6-1, and his counterpart in the women’s competition, Amelie Mauresmo, laboured to a 4-6 6-4 6-1 victory over another Russian teenager Maria Kirilenko, the main shock in the competition came as qualifier Jeff Morrison beat the normally lethal serving 10-seeded Swede Joachim Johansson 7-6 6-4.

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Marat Safin's Australian Open triumph is less than two months old, but already the glow is fading.

Safin is his own worst enemy
The Russian still insists on torturing himself with self-doubt two months after his Grand Slam win in Australia.

March 27, 2005

There are those who believe that Marat Safin is the most sublime of tennis talents and the player who is best equipped to wage a serious threat to the imperious Roger Federer. Others, meanwhile, genuinely fear for the Russian’s sanity, so often does his inner psyche suffer peaks and troughs that don’t affect his peers.


Both schools of thought hoped that his triumph in the Australian Open — which included a truly epic semi-final victory over Federer followed by an emphatic win over Lleyton Hewitt to capture a long overdue second major title — would finally exorcise the demons that have tormented Safin for so long. Two months on from his Melbourne victory, however, such expectations seem to have been blown away by one of the many gusts whipping up off Biscayne Bay.

The Muscovite is still in this year’s second Masters Series event, but his continuing attachment to the Nasdaq-100 Open is tenuous, to say the least. Hewitt is back home in Australia, putting his feet up after toe surgery, while defending champion Andy Roddick has also joined the injured list, retiring from his first-round match with Fernando Verdasco because of a jarred wrist. Yet the third-seeded Safin isn’t just trying to deflect pressure when he insists it is ludicrous to suggest that he remains Federer’s only main threat.

Are those wondrous few days Down Under really still so fresh in the memory? Listening to Safin’s lament, it seems as though it all happened an age ago. “Everything is becoming more difficult,” he moans with the hang-dog look of a man who is struggling to recollect what it’s like to win a match, let alone lift major prizes. “It’s difficult to go out there on court without the confidence, but it’s almost inevitable. After Australia, there was always going to be a period when I went downhill again.”

Less tangled minds than Safin’s would have sat back for a week or so after winning the year’s opening major event, savoured every aspect of what he had achieved and then used it as a platform of self- esteem from which to build. But not this young man; he is almost using the trophy as a weight to drag himself down in self-doubt.

“I am not like Roger [Federer],” insisted Safin, apparently paying no heed to the five-set victory he scored against the Swiss. “He’s way too high and has all the skills. Even when he is not playing well, he has enough feeling and talent to cover it up. Me, when I’m not playing well, I just suffer a little bit more and my game sinks because most of the time it’s a risk.”

Unlike Federer — who was utterly pragmatic after his loss in Australia and has regrouped superbly to collect successive titles in Rotterdam, Dubai and, most recently, Indian Wells — two post-Melbourne defeats were all that was required to wreck Safin’s poise: the first-round loss to Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer in Dubai and then a second-round exit in Indian Wells to Taylor Dent of the United States.

It didn’t seem to matter to Safin that, in between, he won both his Davis Cup rubbers against Chileans Adrian Garcia and world No 16 Fernando Gonzalez — the latter a particularly close five-set encounter that involved three tie-breaks. Like many artists before him, Safin seemed to be set on a course of self-deprecation. “I’m a perfectionist,” he claimed. “It’s really difficult for me, you know, to admit or to accept that I’m not playing really well.”

Had his Key Biscayne opener against Irakli Labadze ended in another defeat instead of the extremely close 6-4 2-6 7-6 win, there is no telling how much Safin would have sunk. After all, he was facing the world’s No 105-ranked player, a man who really does have problems; Labadze has a kidney stone that regularly demands the strongest of painkillers, not to mention a subpoena from an Austrian court on the issue of possible match-fixing.

Last May a friend of Labadze, Martin Fuehrer, placed a bet on the Georgian losing a first-round match at the St Poelten tournament to doubles specialist Julian Knowle. A three-set win for Knowle brought Fuehrer a pay-out equivalent to close on £14,000, but after the ATP brought in legislation to prevent known associates of players from betting on results, the bookmakers refused to pay him the money, and a lawsuit rapidly followed.

“The loss to Dent was a really bad one, but this [against Labadze] would have been much worse,” said Safin, who despite winning his first major title at the 2000 US Open has long struggled with simply existing in America.

He has never progressed past the third round in seven attempts at Indian Wells, and apart from once making it to the quarter-finals, he has been similarly ineffectual here off the coast of Miami and fared no better later in the year at Cincinnati. Curiously, though, he is a past champion of the Canadian Masters Series event.

Repeatedly he has tried different approaches to overcome his alien feelings. Hotels have varied, along with the size of his travelling entourage. This year Safin is attempting to prove the more the merrier.

In an attempt to get back to family values, he has his girlfriend, his mother, Rausa, and his younger sister Dinara (a competitor on the WTA Tour) along for company, as well as coach Peter Lundgren and fitness trainer Walt Lammers. “Everybody’s here on my shoulders because I need the support,” he said. “There are times when you bring people you know to carry you, and that’s what I’m trying. If that doesn’t work, next time I’ll try something different again.”

Yet all the regular hallmarks of the 25-year-old’s frustrations were there to see. He mangled two rackets after losing his temper, and then ripped his shirt down the line of his breastbone before tugging it off his shoulders and tossing it away on the court in disgust. Of course he received the obligatory warning for his behaviour; it wouldn’t be a true Safin struggle without a little enforced discipline thrown in.

The continuing disappointment is that he needs to resort to such indiscretions. We hoped that Australia would represent a new dawn for this undeniably hugely talented individual. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

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Throwback Dent on verge of greatness
The Californian's old school style is winning over fans and opponents.

SP Times
March 23, 2005

He chips. He charges.

He smashes his serves.

He races to the net.

In an era dominated by baseliners, Taylor Dent is one of the exceptions. He plays the game the way it used to be played, with a serve-and-volley style reminiscent of yesteryear, when three of the four majors were contested on grass and baseliners routinely got clobbered.

He is, pardon the cliche, old school.

"He's a throwback," ESPN commentator Cliff Drysdale said. "There's not many left that play that way. He has a kamikaze style."

Dent's go-for-broke attitude has made him one of the game's most exciting players, if not yet one of its most recognizable. Dent, ranked No. 33, is one of only four Americans in the top 50. But because No. 3 Andy Roddick and No. 10 Andre Agassi have won a combined nine major titles, they receive the bulk of the media attention and Dent remains somewhat of an unknown commodity among the sporting public.

That could be about to change.

Dent, a 23-year-old native of Newport Beach, Calif., appears to be playing the best tennis of his life. And recent victories over No. 4 Marat Safin, this year's Australian Open champion, No. 2 Lleyton Hewitt and No. 9 David Nalbandian have given him an injection of confidence heading into today's Nasdaq-100 Open at Key Biscayne.

"For the first time I'm really excited about where I'm at," Dent said. "I want to see if I can climb over the top."

Will it happen?

It's difficult to tell, of course. Dent has four career titles and played for the bronze medal at last year's Summer Olympics, but he has had limited success in Grand Slam events. His best finish is a fourth-round showing at the 2003 U.S. Open.

And yet, there is reason for hope.

Recent history shows that serve-and-volleyers peak later than those who spend the bulk of their time on the baseline. And for Dent, who turned professional in 1998, that could be good news.

"We saw it with Patrick Rafter," said tennis legend and Dade City-native Jim Courier. "It took awhile for him to develop. And with Tim Henman. It takes a little bit more time because you have to understand all the angles."

Baseliners, Courier said, get an earlier start. He said when players learn the game today, they focus on groundstrokes, not net play. And physically, he added, most players aren't ready to serve and volley until they are 15 or 16.

As Dent contended, "It's just a tougher game. You have to be able to do everything."

Still, Dent does not necessarily buy into the argument that it should take serve and volleyers longer to find their groove. "I don't believe it has to be that way," he said.

His greatest struggle thus far, he says, has been with consistency. At times he hits all the shots. At others, he stumbles. Minor injuries also have caused havoc, and all of this has made maintaining his patience a difficult task.

He wants to be a top-10 player.

He craves Grand Slam success.

And he would rather have this sooner than later.

"It can be frustrating," Dent said.

Dent learned the craft from his father, Phil Dent, an Aussie great and former Top-20 player who reached the Australian Open final in 1974. Drysdale, a close friend of Phil Dent, said the elder Dent had a style similar to his son's.

It's no coincidence Taylor Dent lists Rafter among his favorite players. Rafter achieved great success, winning U.S. Opens in 1997 and '98. His first Open title came when he was 24. Up to then, he had never advanced past the third round at the Open and only earlier that year - in the French Open - did he reach the semifinals of a major for the first time.

"There are a lot of parallels," Dent said. "I go for more but he had more consistency. In some ways I've tried to copy him."

In the recent victory over Safin, one he says is "up there" among his biggest, Dent thought much of his game came together. Most important, he said, was that he won almost 60 percent of his second serves, long a weakness of his.

"That's very, very big for me," Dent said. "The top four players in the rankings win those points 60 percent of the time ... all the time."

In the past, Dent spent too much time trying to perfect every aspect of his game, he said. Now he concentrates on a few select parts. Otherwise, his plan hasn't changed. He is staying the course and has no intention of changing his style.

"I'm only 23 and I feel like I have a lot of tennis left," Dent said. "I'm playing good, solid tennis. I can see consistency coming. It's just a matter of time."

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Today’s photos

Fashionista Roger tries out a different-looking outfit
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/afp/20050327/capt.sge.bkc81.270305002659.photo00.photo.default-273x384.jpg

More of Coria looking the same ;)
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/afp/20050327/capt.sge.bkc86.270305002848.photo01.photo.default-275x370.jpg

PHM wearing Marat’s clothes
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050327/capt.flla14003270251.nasdaq_100_open_flla140.jpg

Snore! Boring whites. This isn’t Wimbledon, Andre. Time to bust out the hot-pink bike shorts and screaming yellow tank tops again.
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050327/capt.flla14103270352.nasdaq_100_open_flla141.jpg

Nothing to say here except: Look, it’s Ollie!
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050326/capt.flla12903262118.nasdaq_100_open_flla129.jpg

Ivo shows us his magic floating racket trick
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050326/capt.flla12503262041.nasdaq_100_open_flla125.jpg

Gaston is psyched he made it to the third round
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050326/capt.flla10903261755.nasdaq_100_open_flla109.jpg

The Swede-killer Jeff Morrison
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050326/capt.flyv11403261825.nasdaq_100_open_flyv114.jpg

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SUNDAY PREVIEW:

First up on Stadium Court will be American Vince Spadea taking on Croat Ivan Ljubicic. Although Spadea has beaten Ljubicic in both their previous meetings, the Croat has been on a tear in 2005 reaching four finals and earning a 25-7 win/loss record.

2005 Australian Open Champion Marat Safin will also be in action on Sunday as he takes on the No. 26 seed Dominik Hrbaty. Their head to head record is tied at 6-6 although the Russian has taken their last two meetings including a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win at this year's Australian Open.

Concluding the day's competition on the Stadium Court will be No. 5 seed Carlos Moya facing No. 25 seed Thomas Johansson. Moya had to save three match points in his second round match against American James Blake. This is Johansson's first third round appearance in a ATP Masters Series event since 2004 AMS Canada.

Former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero will also be in action on Sunday as he takes on Russia's Igor Andreev. Andreev will be looking to avenge his 6-3, 6-3 loss to Ferrero in the first round of last week's AMS Indian Wells event.

No. 8 seed David Nalbandian will face Spain's David Ferrer on the Grandstand court. The Spaniard leads the series 3-1 although Nalbandian was victorious in five sets in their last meeting at this year's Australian Open.

Up-and-comers Rafael Nadal and Gael Monfils will also be competing on Sunday as they take on Fernando Verdasco and Hyung-Taik Lee respectively.

tennischick
03-27-2005, 06:33 AM
hey you missed a pic Tangy :p

http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050325/capt.flla12603252133.nasdaq_100_open_flla126.jpg

tangerine_dream
03-27-2005, 06:39 AM
I already did the Roddick news yesterday, TC :p

Roger-No.1
03-27-2005, 06:40 AM
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/media/photo/2005-03/16848598.jpg
No Room for Ego at the Top
by David Hyde
March 25, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE -- Roger Federer should be embarrassed at being the No. 1 player in tennis. Just look at him. He has no agent, no publicist, no security guard, not even a coach for the TV cameras to focus on.

His entire entourage typically consists of two people -- his girlfriend and trainer. That's it. You call this the world's top tennis player?

And ego? Doesn't No. 1 come with a let-net full of that?

Well, earlier this week, at the Nasdaq-100's pro-am day, Federer didn't call a limo or even a golf cart to ferry him across the tournament grounds to his match in the way tennis heavyweights always do.

He walked. Alone. Amid gawking fans.

"Isn't that ...?"

"Why's he ...?

Mr. No. 1 In The World even stopped and autographed for whoever asked.

"I don't need special treatment," Federer explained.

You think Jimmy Connors ever said that? Or even Pete Sampras? You think John McEnbrat ever won the men's Player of the Year award and was voted by fellow competitors winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsman of the Year trophy?

Don't winning and sportsmanship run crosscurrent to each other?

Well, Federer picked up both prizes earlier this week. The only other player to win both in the same year got the sportsmanship award named for him.

Of course, the way people talk in tennis, Federer might get his name on the Player of the Year trophy before he's through. He has lost one of 27 matches in 2005. He has won a record 17 finals dating to 2003. He won three of four Grand Slam events last year, the first player to accomplish that since Mats Wilander in 1988.

He's beaten No. 2 Lleyton Hewitt in seven straight matches and 12 consecutive sets.

Listen to how someone who knew how to role-play No. 1 with the big agent and entourage talks about Federer.

"There's probably not a department in his game that couldn't be considered the best in that department," Andre Agassi said. "You watch him play Hewitt and everybody marvels at Hewitt's speed, as well as myself. And you start to realize, `Is it possible Federer even moves better?'"

"Then you watch him play Andy [Roddick], and you go, `Andy has a big forehand. Is it possible Federer's forehand is the best in the game?' You watch him at the net, you watch him serve-volley somebody that doesn't return so well and you put him up there with the best in every department."

"You see him play from the ground against those that play from the ground for a living, and argue he does it better than anybody."

Agassi gives a dramatic pause.

"So he's good," he says.

Meanwhile, here's how Mr. Humblespeak explains his success.

"Maybe the difference is big in the rankings, but I feel they're all right there to beat me when I'm maybe just a little bit off," he said.

He talks that way in five languages, too. The Swiss native is fluent in German, French and English. He also speaks some Swedish and Italian. He can count to 10 in Turkish, too, thanks to a kid who immigrated to his elementary school. The kid was picked on by several Swiss boys, including Federer, whose mother suggested he hear about the Turkish kid's life instead.

Maybe this helps explain why Federer is a such an abnormal No. 1. His parents didn't shove him into the sport and then use him as a piggybank. Why, at 14, his mother actually took away his rackets until he promised to behave properly on the court.

Now he's winning the sportsmanship trophy on the court and acting even better off it. A few months ago, he suggested the top players do something to help tsunami victims and a charity tournament went off.

Two weeks ago, he was in South Africa (his mother is South African), where his new foundation educates children in the ghetto of New Brighton.

"Tennis is just part of life," he said.

He's 23, and he's got it figured out.

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Like the pic

tangerine_dream
03-27-2005, 07:14 AM
Oh, all right, one more Roddick article and that's it. :p

Roddick does the mature thing
Facing a long, rigorous season, it's wise to rest his hurting wrist.

By Dave George
March 26, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE — The Nasdaq-100 Open tennis festival lasts 12 days. Andy
Roddick, defending champion, said goodbye Friday after little more than an hour.

This is how it works in this game, with the fitness of athletes tuned to such precision that slight twinges translate into major traumas.

Roddick, one of the most stubbornly competitive players out here, sprained his right wrist in the opening set of his opening match and, after nine more games, one smashed racket and a couple of visits from the trainer, calmly told the umpire that he was shutting it down like an Indy car with a blown gasket.

"You know, I'm glad that right now they don't think there's anything long-term or permanently damaged or anything like that," said

Roddick, who trailed Spain's Fernando Verdasco in the second set at the time of his withdrawal. "That's good."

Not so good for the tournament, which already is celebrating record attendance. All those who had tickets for next week's play or maybe for the championship match can forget about seeing the boy bomber from Boca Raton now. Not since Andre Agassi was upset by Scott Draper eight years ago has a defending champion exited this quickly here.

Call it the Curse of Key Biscayne revisited. Highly-seeded and high-profile men used to get kicked out of this event for the strangest reasons. Boris Becker once withdrew with food poisoning he blamed on something he ate on the property. Goran Ivanisevic took a powder one year with a cut foot, saying he stepped on a shell at the beach. Then there was the freakiest incident of all.

Thomas Muster won an incredible five-set semifinal match in 1989. That same night, while getting some gear out of the trunk of his rental car in downtown Miami, Muster's knee was smashed in a collision caused by a drunk driver plowing into a row of parked cars. Ivan Lendl won the tournament without having to play the final and fans had to settle for an exhibition match on stadium court.

Friday's shocker was far more common, but a lesson in what can happen when a young body, even this 22-year-old edition, goes through the repetitive stress of pounding 150-mph serves and racing around an asphalt griddle for hours at a time. This is Roddick's second withdrawal due to injury this season, and we're only in March. He won a quarterfinal match six weeks ago in Memphis but walked away because of a sprained ankle.

Hey, it's a short career already. No sense making it shorter by being short-sighted with an injury. A few years ago Roddick might have tried to gut it out, already one set down and too sore to hit anything but a flat first serve. He might have done it because a large crowd at stadium court was sweating it out right along with him, screaming "Come on, Andy," even as he was double-faulting away a first-set tiebreaker. There was one French Open match, after all, in which Roddick went against the wishes of his coach and tried to play a few more pointless points after coating himself in red clay on a dangerous spill that injured his hamstring.

That was our Andy, impetuous, unyielding and sometimes just a little unruly. The former Boca Prep star belongs to the world now, a former U.S. Open champion and No.*3 in the ATP rankings. That means greater responsibilities. He left that Memphis match, for instance, to make sure he'd be ready for Davis Cup play.

And don't even get started on the notion that Roddick tanked it Friday because he was having a hard time shaking Verdasco and didn't want to suffer the indignity of an opening-match loss. Andy lost only one first-round match all of last season. He plays hard every time out, and blew his stack when his body wouldn't play along Friday. At the end of a clumsy tiebreaker loss, he launched a ball into the upper deck. Then he smashed his racket on the court, picked it up and, after walking to his chair, smashed the fool thing again. http://67.19.129.138/mtf/images/icons/icon10.gif

"I don't know if there's anything that's more frustrating out there than trying to do something, being expected to do something and not feeling like you can do it to the best of your ability," he said. "It's a pretty frustrating scenario to be in."

The Nasdaq will go on without him, but it may be up to Serena and Venus Williams, winners of six of the past seven titles at Key Biscayne, and up to Maria Sharapova, too, to create most of the buzz.

"I don't think it's a new process for any athlete who competes 11 months a year," Roddick said of the treatment and pampering he now owes his injured wrist. "Stuff is going to go wrong."

Roddick should know. A year ago he was struggling with Guillermo Coria in the Nasdaq final when the Argentine called time to get treatment on a back injury. Eventually the match ended with Coria's withdrawal, a disappointment for fans and an inevitability in tennis.

Every muscle and joint is monitored like a racehorse's. You check them every morning, head to toe. See if they've got a cough, if they're off their feed, if their feet or ankles seem tender.

And if there's a scratch on the day's schedule, nobody should ever be truly shocked.

http://img.coxnewsweb.com/B/07/92/60/image_1460927.jpg

liptea
03-28-2005, 03:36 AM
Carlos Moya just lost and I think I'm going to jump in a lake.

lucashg
03-28-2005, 03:49 AM
Although I prefer to have all the seeds passing through early rounds and meeting each other, it's gonna be quite interesting, but I'll say that the women's competition looks way more interesting and exciting now.

uNIVERSE mAN
03-28-2005, 04:54 AM
Although I prefer to have all the seeds passing through early rounds and meeting each other, it's gonna be quite interesting, but I'll say that the women's competition looks way more interesting and exciting now.

The question is which women's matchup haven't you seen a thousand times already?

Daniel
03-28-2005, 05:17 AM
Molik - JHH
Myskina - Kim :clap2:

tangerine_dream
03-28-2005, 05:52 AM
It’s that time again. :banana:

NASDAQ-100 Open Sunday Results
Third Round

Dominik Hrbaty (26) def. Marat Safin (3), 7-6 (8-6), 6-1
Thomas Johansson (25) def. Carlos Moya (5), 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-2
David Ferrer def. David Nalbandian (8), 7-6 (7-0), 6-1
Ivan Ljubicic (13) def. Vincent Spadea (21), 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3)
Rafael Nadal (29) def. Fernando Verdasco, 6-2, 6-2
Juan Carlos Ferrero def. Igor Andreev, 6-4, 6-3
Gael Monfils def. Hyung-Taik Lee, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 7-6 (7-1)

The top seeds keep falling but no one was injured, retired, or defaulted today. The Curse of Key Biscane finally took a day off. :)

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http://www.theadvertiser.news.com.au/common/imagedata/0,1658,430048,00.jpg
Prankster Llodra Shows Ljubicic Naked Truth
March 27, 2005

MIAMI (Reuters) - Ivan Ljubicic was preparing for his third-round match at the Nasdaq-100 Open Sunday when he found something totally unexpected in his locker, naked fellow player Michael Llodra.

French prankster Llodra decided to surprise Ljubicic by taking off his clothes and squeezing into the Croatian's locker, much to the amusement of the other players in the changing rooms.

"I went to open the locker and I was completely shocked," 13th seed Ljubicic told reporters.

"He was looking at me, I was looking at him. I said, 'What the hell are you doing here?'."

Ljubicic has made a brilliant start to the 2005 season, reaching four finals in three months and also beating Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick during Croatia's Davis Cup win over the U.S. in Carson, California three weeks ago.

"He (Llodra) said to me, 'I'm trying to get positive energy from you. You're winning a lot of matches this year'," said Ljubicic.

"The locker, it's not a big locker, it's a small locker. It's not easy to get in that locker, I'm telling you.

"He is not a small guy (but) very flexible. Very, very flexible."

Ljubicic took the prank in good heart and went on to win his match against American Vince Spadea 6-3, 4-6, 7-6.

Llodra was also victorious in his first-round doubles match alongside Arnaud Clement.

"Now, when I open my locker, I'm opening it really slowly," said Ljubicic. "After this I don't know what I'm going to find in there."

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http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/afp/20050327/capt.sge.bnj90.270305192629.photo00.photo.default-262x380.jpg
Ljubicic gets the last laugh at NASDAQ

BY CHARLES BRICKER
March 27, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. - (KRT) - From the moment Ivan Ljubicic opened his locker and found French doubles player Michael Llodra scrunched up inside, stark naked, he had a sense that Sunday at the Nasdaq-100 Open might not go smoothly.

The Croatian, hero of this month's Davis Cup upset of the United States, had to put in some hard labor and fight off a gimpy knee to make Vince Spadea of Boca Raton, Fla., his third American victim of the season, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (3). But he's through to the fourth round and his meticulous game and engaging personality make him a favorite to go the distance - not only with fans, but probably with Llodra as well.

"Shocked. Completely shocked." That was the way Ljubicic described his reaction to the clubhouse prank. "I mean, he was looking at me. I was looking at him. I said, `What the hell are you doing here? I'm trying to focus on my match.' He said, `I'm trying to get some positive energy from you.""

Three players who could have used some of that positive energy were No. 3 seed Marat Safin, the mercurial Australian Open winner who is the only player to defeat Roger Federer this season, No. 8 David Nalbandian and left-handed No. 11 Patty Schnyder. All were sent packing.

Safin went down to the smooth-stroking Dominik Hrbaty, the 26th seed, 7-6 (6), 6-1. Schnyder, playing her best tennis in three years, was stunned by Colombian qualifier Catalina Castano 6-3, 2-6, 6-1. Nalbandian was blown off the court by Spaniard David Ferrer 7-6 (0), 6-1.

It was a day of smashing weather and smashing rackets as the temperature hovered in the 80s all day and Safin tried to beat a hole in the green asphalt. "I didn't feel good on the court. I couldn't find my game," he said.

What else is new with Safin, who alternates between moments of brilliance and truckloads of disappointment? This loss was not nearly as shocking as finding a naked player where your clothes are supposed to be hanging. Safin had to win the final three points of a third-set tiebreak to get past No. 138 Irakli Labadze on Friday, so there were doubts about Safin's form.

Most of the rest of Day 5 was on form. Unseeded French teenage sensation Gael Monfils swept into the round of 16 with 25 aces and precocious Spanish lefty Rafael Nadal defeated Fernando Verdasco, who had profited by Andy Roddick's wrist injury retirement Friday. The top half of the men's draw will play its third round Monday.

The women, meanwhile, got down to 16 with No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, No. 2 Maria Sharapova, No. 3 Serena Williams, No. 4 Elena Dementieva, No. 5 Anastasia Myskina, No. 6 Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 7 Alicia Molik and No. 8 Venus Williams all winning.

Serena Williams bolted to a 5-0 lead in the opening set before 17-year-old Israeli Shahar Peer, who is training at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, fought back, losing 6-3, 6-3. She won a lot of stadium court friends with her inspired play, but she needs a major service upgrade.

It was not, however, a good day for Spadea in any way. After reaching the semifinals here a year ago and having beaten Ljubicic in their two previous matches, he expected more. But he somehow cut his middle toe early in the opening set, possibly with the nail on an adjacent toe, and needed the trainer. "It was very painful," said Spadea. "But as soon as I got a pad on it, I really began to move."

He matches up well with Ljubicic, who likes long rallies and takes risks only on short balls and with his big first serve. But Spadea did not out-grind his opponent this time. "I should have been more aggressive," he admitted.

It was a great job of concentration by Ljubicic, who improved his record to 26-7 with four of those losses to Federer. His mind could easily have drifted back to the great locker room caper.

It happened at ten minutes to 10, just after a half-hour hit and an hour and 10 minutes before the Spadea match. "I went to take a shower. I come back and I see my stuff on the ground. I was like, `What's going on?' I see the door of the locker just slightly open, so I open it and complete shock," said Ljubicic.

Stripping for laughs is not new for Llodra, who somehow fit his 6-foot-3 body into a locker which is three feet high, 22 inches deep and 17 inches wide. When he won his first doubles title, with Diego Nargiso, at Mallorca in 2000, he removed every stitch as he celebrated on the court. When he won his first of two Australian Open doubles, in 2003 with Fabrice Santoro, both stripped down to their undershorts on court.

Ljubicic's final word on the subject: "I mean, he's a weird guy."

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http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/40967000/jpg/_40967693_malisse203.jpg
Defaulted Malisse denies swearing
Xavier Malisse is concerned he will be handed a heavy punishment after he was thrown out of the Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami for "serious verbal abuse".

BBC
March 27, 2005

The Belgian was leading David Ferrer 6-3 5-5 when he hit out at a line judge who foot-faulted him twice.

But Malisse, who could lose his prize money from the tournament or even face a ban, insisted: "I didn't swear.

"I'm going to try and turn it around because I'm not going to go down for something I didn't do."

After he was defaulted by the umpire, a frustrated Malisse threw a ball at the line judge.

"I threw the ball, but I didn't get defaulted for that," he said.

"The line judge misunderstood the words. Of course I am going to get mad after playing an hour-and-a-half in the sun and I hadn't done anything wrong the whole match.

"Yes, I took it a little personal because it meant all the hard work I'd done was thrown away by one person."

The Belgian, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2002, believes his reputation could harm his hopes of winning an appeal.

"In the past, I've done things wrong," said the 24-year-old, who was warned about his use of audible obscenities at Wimbledon four years ago.

"I'm not going to say anything, but definitely because of my behaviour in the past, I'm getting a little disadvantage.

"At Wimbledon I did say something wrong, so I immediately stood up for it and I admitted it.

"And I think that's the whole point of this thing - it's that I'm not going to back off, because I didn't do anything."

The ATP is considering the supervisor's report before deciding on Malisse's punishment.

He is likely to lose £5,540 in prize money as well as the ranking points he earned for reaching the second round.

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http://www.sun-sentinel.com/media/photo/2005-03/16872254.jpg
IN MY OPINION
Federer's domination has an unassuming feel
By GREG COTE

The smallest player in big-time men's tennis took on the sport's reigning giant down on Key Biscayne on Saturday, but 5-5 Olivier Rochus ought not take the result too personally. Even opponents of greater stature tend to shrink to human bobblehead dolls when across the net from Roger Federer.

Rochus bravely opted for Federer's backhand to reduce the times Roger's feared running forehand would send missiles past him. Nothing worked. It was almost painful to see, like watching Shaq dunk on Spud Webb.

By all methods did Federer dominate, even with a second-serve ace. The Swiss star is so ruthless, opponents could use a Geneva Convention to protect them.

''As you try to open the court against him,'' explained Rochus, ``you're always in trouble even more.''

This was the world's 40th-ranked player who had just been dispatched 6-3, 6-1 by a Federer on cruise control in his first match of the NASDAQ-100 Open tournament.

This one of the few dozen best tennis players on the globe who had just been made to look about as effective as a high school pitcher serving fastballs to Barry Bonds.

TIGER OF TENNIS

No single athlete owns his sport today the way Federer does in tennis. He is what Tiger Woods was in golf a few years ago, after winning at Augusta by about a thousand strokes to begin his run of mastery in the majors.

Federer is No. 1 in the world to such a degree, the Nos. 2 through 5 should be vacated in abject awe. Second-ranked Llewton Hewitt and third-ranked Andy Roddick don't need binoculars for a look at Federer's heels. They need a telescope.

That could be because Federer is mastering his biggest rivals nearly as much as he did little Rochus on Saturday.

Hewitt, who isn't playing here, has lost seven matches in a row to Federer. Roddick, already out here after retiring with an injury Friday, is 1-8 versus his sport's state of the art.

''The important moments like the finals and against other top 10 players, this is the moment when I actually play the best,'' says Federer, whose greatest challenge these days must be to remain true to his own genuine modesty. "For me there is no problem to maintain the motivation very high.''

Federer's record is 43-1 since the start of last year's U.S. Open. He became the first man since Mats Wilander in 1988 to win three of four majors in one calendar year.

At 23, Federer is just coming into his prime years, and carries as surely as his racket a potential to be seen one day as the greatest player ever. If the notion is premature, it nonetheless sets like cement, across tennis. Rod Laver and John McEnroe already have said as much. Pete Sampras has said, "His biggest opponent is the record book.''

Federer grew up with Sampras his favorite player, which might explain similarities not so much in their game as in the way they handle their fame.

Federer, like the retired Sampras, does not possess the cantankerous fire of Hewitt, the blond heartthrob looks of Roddick, or the flash-turned-elder-statesman aura of Andre Agassi.

Crowds love him, though. Sports fans love excellence. If you are the budding Michael Jordan of tennis, bells and whistles are optional. The cheering for Federer as he left the court Saturday was nearly as loud as Bud Collins' pants.

Federer wears his tennis-god, it-boy celebrity as if it doesn't quite fit him yet. He has a look that wonders what all the fuss is about.

He is the rare top pro who travels without an extensive entourage. No coach or guru. No gofers, PR flaks, bodyguards or sports psychologist.

''I don't need special treatment,'' he says.

He travels with a trainer and his girlfriend of five years. That's his entourage.

The greatest tennis player on Earth still cannot quite fathom the ride he is on.

'There's always a little bit of, `I hope I get through the first round,' 'I hope I get through the week,' '' Federer says. "It still is quite amazing.''

GENEROUS SPIRIT

The player qualifies as that -- amazing -- for more than his tennis streak.

Federer is the ATP tour's reigning sportsman of the year as well as its player of the year. He speaks Swiss, English, German and French fluently, and Swedish and Italian passably. He has a foundation that helps disadvantaged kids in his mother's native South Africa. He organized a charity tournament to aid tsunami victims.

It may be a draw on which is more impressive: How superhuman Federer seems on the court, or how very human he is off it.

It's enough to make you hope he'll be the first No. 1 seed to win on Key Biscayne in 11 years, and make you wonder who can possibly stop him.

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http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050326/capt.flyv11403261825.nasdaq_100_open_flyv114.jpght tp://www.rowztennis.com/gallery2/galleryimgs/gall50_salzenstein_lg.jpg
For love of the game, players span the globe
Far from marquee names, Jeff Morrison and Jeff Salzenstein continue to make their livings on the pro tennis tour.
BY MICHELLE KAUFMAN
March 27, 2005

This is the tale of two Jeffs and why they continue to toil in relative obscurity on the professional tennis circuit week after week, month after month, year after year, even though neither has ever been ranked higher than 85th in the world.

It is the story of two charming, college-educated men who could be doing something more secure, but choose, instead, to traipse from Bermuda to Covington, La., to Wroclaw, Poland, to Leon, Mexico, sometimes for paychecks as small as $520 because, quite frankly, Jeff Morrison and Jeff Salzenstein love the game and honestly believe their best tennis matches are still in them.

''I'm three or four wins in a row from a huge payoff,'' said Morrison, the 26-year-old former NCAA champion from the University of Florida. ''Every big tournament I enter, I figure I'm one week away from changing my life. I know it's there. It's so close. I've tasted it. I'm on the cusp. And that motivates me.''

This might be Morrison's week. He won two qualifying matches to earn a spot in the main draw, and Saturday advanced to the third round with 7-6, 6-4 upset of 10th-seeded Joachim Johansson, the Swede with the killer serve. Morrison won the match on an ace, screamed, ''Yeah!'' and needed a police officer to help him navigate through the throng of fans who wanted his autograph.

''One of my biggest wins,'' he said. ''I knew was close and just needed to get over the hump. I just needed to keep the faith, and I did.''

Morrison had 15 aces to just nine for Johansson, who had 51 in an Australian Open match against Andre Agassi.

When Morrison, ranked 108th, entered the post-match interview room, he sat at the microphone and said, ''Let's see what this feels like. I don't get to do this very often.''

Most players don't.

For every Andre Agassi, there are dozens of Jeff Morrisons. For every Roger Federer, dozens of Jeff Salzensteins. The ATP rankings go down to 1,350, but most sports fans would be hard pressed to name anybody below No. 25. And most of the fans roaming the grounds of the NASDAQ-100 Open on Key Biscayne this week don't know Morrison from Salzenstein.

''If I was one of the top 100 or 150 doctors or lawyers in the world, I'd be world renowned,'' said Salzenstein, who is ranked 115th and joined the tour 10 years ago after graduating from Stanford with an economics degree. 'To call a top 150 tennis player nothing more than a journeyman is a slap. I don't know if it's the media's fault, or the tennis [public relations] peoples' fault, but we only know about the top 10 or 15 people in our sport.

''Look at the NBA. There are 30 teams, and the five starters on each team are pretty well known. That's 150 people. And we're the top 150 in the world, not just our country.''

EARNING THEIR SPOTS

Salzenstein and Morrison, who was 0-5 this season entering the NASDAQ, played the qualifying rounds here last week because neither was ranked high enough to gain automatic entry into the tournament. The 48 men in the ''quallies'' were vying for 12 spots in the main draw.

Salzenstein wasn't as fortunate as Morrison, losing his second qualifying match, and is on to the next stop on his journey.

''I have beaten a few top 10 players in my career, so I know I have the ability to beat anyone. Otherwise, I wouldn't be doing this,'' said Morrison, whose highest career ranking was No. 85 in July 2002.

Morrison said he is making a decent living playing a game while touring the globe. Last year, Morrison traveled to Australia, England, France, Japan, Thailand, Mexico and Sweden. He played in 18 tournaments and earned a career-high $169,819 in prize money. He made $21,000 for reaching the second round of the Australian Open, $15,000 for reaching the second round in Cincinnati and $14,000 for losing in the first round of the U.S. Open.

''I make a lot, but I spend a lot,'' said Morrison, who estimated he spent $120,000 last year on travel, coaching and other tennis expenses. The typical coach, he said, charges $2,000 per week, and Morrison uses his coach about 20 weeks per year.

''Obviously, guys like me are not driven by money,'' added Morrison, who has won $561,877 in his six years on tour. ''We love the game. I play because I love this sport, I love the travel, love the camaraderie, love competing, and there is nothing else I'd rather be doing.''

Salzenstein, 31, jokes that ''I must not have been a very smart economics major if I'm still doing this.'' But then he says he would much rather be making $125,400 (his 2004 earnings) playing tennis than $500,000 on Wall Street.

''I could be richer, but I wouldn't be happy,'' he said. ''I'm a people person. I love the sunshine. I love to compete and play tennis. I can't imagine being cooped up in an office on the fifth floor of some high-rise building. I'd be bored, pale and miserable.''

Salzenstein last year reached No. 100 for the first time in his career. He reached his first semifinal at Delray Beach, which earned him his biggest paycheck of the season ($18,000). But there also were weeks he made $260 in College Station, Texas, $520 in Tiburon, Calif., and $860 in Covington, La.

ENCOURAGING SIGNS

Still, he says, it was well worth it. He has won $582,834 during the past decade, and played his best tennis last year.

''I'm getting better results now than I did in my 20s,'' Salzenstein said. ''I have a lot more great tennis left in me. The journey has been an incredible learning experience for me. I learned things about myself and found interests and hobbies I'll partake in later in life that I might not have found without tennis.''

Salzenstein's second passion is holistic healing, and he said he spends his down time reading books on the subject and practicing the teachings on himself. He said without tennis, he never would have found that calling.

''This is much more about the process than the results,'' he said. ''There are a lot of guys in quallies as good as guys in the main draw, and just as hungry, if not hungrier. Unless you're in the top 30, it's feast or famine out there. It's a huge challenge.

''Not to knock other sports, but I believe tennis is the hardest sport to succeed in, not only because of the physical and mental strain, but because it's an individual sport, there's no offseason and we have to travel all over the world, across oceans, paying our own way, eating different kinds of foods. We're not traveling from Cleveland to Milwaukee on a private jet with catered food.''

So, when will they know it's time to quit? When will they stop chasing their dream?

''When I can't pay the bills anymore,'' Morrison said. ''The minute I start incurring debt. But right now, I'm doing OK financially, and having a blast, so why quit?''

Salzenstein said: ''I'm not going to hang on just to hang on. I don't want to be one of those athletes who keeps playing because he has nothing else. I'm playing well, have big weapons, there's no reason for me to stop. I have people around me honest enough to tell me if I'm delusional, if I think I'm getting better and I'm really not. But right now, nobody's telling me I'm delusional, so I push forward.''

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http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050326/capt.flla12603262044.nasdaq_100_open_flla126.jpg
HENMAN REDISCOVERS MENTAL STRENGTH

Tim Henman has vowed to get his head straight after finally shaking off the back problem which has impeded him since Wimbledon.

The British number one today faces Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina in the third round of the Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami, the second Masters Series tournament of the year.

Henman, 30, admits he has struggled mentally in recent weeks, even though he describes himself as "100%" fit.

A fully-fit and mentally-equipped Henman can be a threat this week as the tournament reaches its business end, although Chela will be no pushover today and Roger Federer could await in the quarter-finals.

Defeat to Guillermo Canas in the quarter-finals at Indian Wells earlier this month frustrated Henman, because he felt capable of going beyond that stage, having been runner-up in 2004.

It was his fifth-successive loss to Canas, and Henman felt he contributed to his own downfall.

Henman has been troubled, on and off, by a back injury since last summer.

But of late, he insists: "I have really felt 100%, I felt great physically on the court.

"Then I have an attitude problem for four matches for some reason last week, and that was disappointing. But I could not really put my finger on it, on the reasons why.

"I have just made sure that I am not going to be distracted by people moving or whatever - just concentrate on the things that I can control, and that is the way it should be, and that is going to give me the best chance."

Having received a first-round bye, Henman overcame Czech youngster Ivo Minar in straight sets on Saturday to reach the last 32 in Miami.

He feels he is well on the way to sharpening his mental approach, but added of his recent stressful time: "It's over-30 syndrome. I was disappointed. But you play badly some weeks, some weeks you feel bad physically.

"That was a bad week mentally. But I still got something out of it. I got some good matches.

"This week, I gave myself a talking to, to say 'whatever happens, you're going to be mentally better', and it showed."

Henman had the back problem at last year's US Open and it did not stop him reaching the semi-finals.

That followed his run to the last four at the French Open, where he beat Chela in the quarter-finals.

Today's match against Chela is one which Henman is relishing.

It should provide a refreshing reminder of the Roland Garros victory over the 25-year-old, one of his career highlights, when Henman cast aside his aversion to clay to pummel a specialist on the surface in straight sets.

"He is someone I have had some good success against," Henman recognised.

"But he is one of these guys that if you are not quite on your game, then he can start to dictate.

"So it's clear-cut. I know the way that I need to play. He knows the way that I want to play. I know the way he wants to play. It comes down to who's going to be able to."

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Images from today:

Marat and his poor, abused racket
http://i.a.cnn.net/si/2005/tennis/03/27/bc.ten.nasdaq.100open.ap/t1_0327_safin_ap.jpg

Carlos and Thomas
http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050328/capt.flla14203280424.nasdaq_100_open_flla142.jpg

Dominik
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/media/photo/2005-03/16881371.jpg

Marat again
http://images.sportsnetwork.com/tennis/allsport/men/safin/2005/nasdaq.jpg

Bjorn Phau
http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11240/126345129800.jpg

Must’ve seen Llodra naked in his locker
http://espn-att.starwave.com/media/ten/2005/0327/photo/a_safin_frt.jpg

Yet another Marat pic. Sorry, but this guy emotes too well not to post them ;)
http://www.eurosport.com/imgbk/tennis/all/big_md-i171249.jpg

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SUNDAY RECAP
The bottom half of the draw concluded its third round competition on Sunday with a few surprises and a trio of successful Spaniards

In the first shocker of the day, Slovak Dominik Hrbaty knocked off the No. 3 seed Marat Safin with a 7-6(6), 6-1 upset. The fiery Russian couldn't find his rhythm serving up 33 unforced errors and only 11 winners.

The night session also provided fans with some thrills as another top seed was sent home early. This time, No. 5 seed Carlos Moya fell to Swede Thomas Johansson in three sets 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-2.

Despite Moya's loss, Spanish Tennis fans should still be pleased. A trio of Spain's best players tasted success as they moved into the Round of 16.

Spanish sensation and No. 29 seed Rafael Nadal booked his spot in the next round with a easy 6-2, 6-2 victory over countryman Fernando Verdasco.

Also advancing was David Ferrer as he upset the No. 8 seed David Nalbandian of Argentina 7-6(7), 6-1.

Juan Carlos Ferrero also gave Spanish Fans something to cheer about as he looks to regain his past form. The Spaniard edged past Igor Andreev 6-4, 6-3 to move into the Round of 16 where he will meet countryman David Ferrer.

French up-and-comer Gael Monfils continued his quest to make a name for himself in the professional ranks with his hard-fought 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(1) victory over Korean Hyung-Taik Lee.

No. 13 seed Ivan Ljubicic continued his stellar 2005 play as he knocked out American Vince Spadea in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(3). The Croat has already made it to four finals this year (Rotterdam, Doha, Dubai and Marseille).

MONDAY PREVIEW:

The stage is set for thrilling competition on Stadium Court as World No. 1 Roger Federer takes on Argentine Mariano Zabaleta, who is 1-2 lifetime against the Swiss superstar. Zabaleta’s only victory over Federer came here in Miami in 2000 when he defeated the Swiss 6-4, 7-6(7), but Federer has taken their last two meetings in straight sets. Federer has already captured four ATP titles in 2005 (Doha, Rotterdam, Dubai, AMS Indian Wells) and has started off the season with a personal-best record of 27-1.

Leading off the Stadium Court action will be last year’s NASDAQ-100 Open finalist Guillermo Coria and No. 31 seed Taylor Dent in their first meeting. The American is looking to make a strong showing here in Miami after being forced to retire due to a stomach virus at last week’s Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells. With a win, Coria will be making his second straight appearance in an ATP Masters Series Round of 16. The Argentine made it to the Round of 16 in Indian Wells last week before losing to Andre Agassi.

In the next match, Agassi will square off against Frenchman Arnaud Clement. Agassi, the No. 9 seed, has enjoyed success here in Miami, winning the title a record six times. This is the first meeting between the two since the 2001 Australian Open final, won by Agassi 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.

On the Grandstand Court, No. 7 seed Gaston Gaudio will be looking to continue his successful season as he faces No. 27 seed Sebastien Grosjean in the third round. Gaudio, who won back-to-back clay titles earlier this year in Vina del Mar and Buenos Aires, has won his only previous meeting with the Frenchman. The only time the two have faced each other came here in Miami in 2002 with Gaudio winning 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-1 in the third round.

No. 6 seed Tim Henman will be facing Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela in his third round match. The serve and volley specialist leads their head to head series with a 3-2 record. The British No. 1 has taken their last two meetings, including a quarterfinal victory over the No. 28 seed at Roland Garros in 2004.

Up-and-comer Croat Mario Ancic will also be in action as he takes on No. 16 seed Tommy Haas. The German was victorious in their only previous meeting at the Athens Olympics in 2004. This is the first time Ancic has made it past the first round in Miami, after losing to Squillari and Voinea in 2003 and 2002 respectively.

American qualifier Jeff Morrison and No. 23 seed Radek Stepanek will be in competition as well on Monday. Morrison shocked No. 10 seed Joachim Johansson to claim his spot in the third round. Stepanek has only made it to the Round of 16 once before in Miami in 2003.

German sensation Florian Mayer squares off against No. 15 seed Fernando Gonzalez in their third round match. With a first round bye and a walk over (Philippoussis) in the second round, this will be the first match the Chilean has played this year in Miami, while Mayer had a convincing 6-4, 6-2 victory over countryman Nicolas Kiefer to clinch his third round spot.

federer_roar
03-28-2005, 06:54 AM
A great read, thanks tangy.

foul_dwimmerlaik
03-28-2005, 07:05 AM
After sleeping on it, I'm not so mad at Marat now. Thanks for the articles!

Neely
03-28-2005, 01:53 PM
Thanks for posting that, Tangy! :yeah:

jmp
03-28-2005, 02:11 PM
Roger The Fashionista :yeah:

Marat The Emoter :crazy:

tennischick
03-28-2005, 05:19 PM
aewsome pic :inlove: :hearts:

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/media/photo/2005-03/16872254.jpg

liptea
03-28-2005, 05:20 PM
Tangy :hug: That must have been tons of hard work.

tennischick
03-28-2005, 05:44 PM
Coria a puzzle (to non-Latins)

By Ian Katz
Staff Writer
Posted March 28 2005

KEY BISCAYNE · It was late afternoon the Sunday before the start of the Nasdaq-100 Open, and a shirtless, bulked-up Guillermo Coria wouldn't stop chattering.

Except for a couple of matter-of-fact observations as his stadium court practice was winding down -- "I can't hit a serve into the court" -- Coria's monologue to his coach and a few friends was about his favorite tricks.

Holding his racket perpendicular to the ground, Coria balanced a ball on the side of the racket frame for several seconds, thrust the ball into the air, quickly grabbed the racket by its head and hit the ball nearly out of the stadium with the racket grip. "Ahi esta." There it is, Coria said in Spanish.

This was not the quiet, slight Argentine who is an enigma to many tennis fans. The fifth-ranked Coria, last year's losing Nasdaq-100 finalist (to Andy Roddick), is little known outside Latin America in part because he is the rare top player who does not speak to reporters in English.

Among those who follow tennis, Coria is El Mago, the magician, for his speed and touch. Andre Agassi, on the tour since 1986, calls the 5-foot-9 Coria "the fastest I've ever played against," including speedsters Michael Chang and Lleyton Hewitt.

To casual fans, Coria, 23, is the guy who let last year's French Open slip away. In fact, more than any men's player, Coria has demons to erase.

At last year's French on slow red clay, Coria was on his way to one of the event's most impressive runs. Going into the final against countryman Gaston Gaudio, Coria had lost just one of 19 sets in his six matches.

After taking a 6-0, 6-3 lead, Coria "became nervous," he said after the match. "I couldn't control [it]." The nerves gave Coria leg cramps, and Gaudio equaled the match at two sets. In the fifth set, Gaudio saved two match points -- almost hitting a couple of shots out during those points -- and won 8-6.

Coria was devastated. "I had the match in my hands," he said.

Argentine tennis cognoscenti believe that Coria has recovered.

"I think he's over it," said Franco Davin, who once coached Coria and now coaches Gaudio. "He's such a great player and competitor, he'll be fine."

Gustavo Flores, a sports writer with Clarin, Argentina's largest newspaper, said Coria is learning not to take losses so hard. "He's maturing," Flores said.

Guillermo Salatino, a tennis journalist with Fox Sports, is emphatic: "Coria will win the French this year."

Coria, for his part, said after his second-round victory over Italy's Davide Sanguinetti at the Nasdaq on Saturday that he is "hungry" for the clay-court season that starts after the Nasdaq and culminates in the French Open in June.

He said he has gained seven pounds of muscle since January, though he still weighs 150, light for a top player. Against Sanguinetti, Coria regularly cracked first serves over 125 mph, several miles an hour faster than last year.

To become better known in this country, Coria will probably have to speak English. Though he understands the language and speaks reasonably well, he isn't comfortable speaking it with the media. Typically after a match, he gives a brief press conference for English-language media during which his answers are roughly translated.

Then he gathers with Argentine journalists, many of whom follow Coria to tournaments and have known him for years. The result is a huge gap between what Latin American sports fans and the rest of world know about Coria.

For example, the English transcript of Coria's news conference Saturday included: "It's very humid. It's not easy to play when it's so humid."

But Coria was more interesting with Spanish-speaking reporters. He told them he thought that bad line calls favored him and cost Sanguinetti a few points and that he suffered an upset stomach early in the second set after drinking an orange-flavored electrolyte liquid used by many of the top Spaniards.

Though not as introspective as Agassi or as comedic as Marat Safin, Coria is forthcoming and articulate. But to fans north of the border, El Mago remains a mystery.

source: sun sentinal

tangerine_dream
03-28-2005, 07:44 PM
Niti, it's work but it's not hard. ;) I spend too much time surfing the web looking for stories anyway, so why not post them here? :)

Here's some more images I found that's from the local papers:

http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11240/126345051120.jpg
STAYING FOCUSED: Top-seeded Roger Federer chases down the ball during his match against Oilvier Rochus on Saturday.


http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11247/126505895096.jpg
http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11247/126505883849.jpg
DOWN AND OUT: 'When I'm playing bad, I'm playing really bad,' Marat Safin said. 'There's nothing I can do.'


IN MY OPINION
Marat Losing more than match
by ARMANDO SALGUERO

The Stadium Court crowd that expected Marat Safin to win, even wanted him to win, was suddenly turning against him Sunday afternoon.

Safin's serve was betraying him, and his backhand was AWOL. His shots were missing and, in the oppressive midday heat, his opponent wasn't even sweating. So an angry, frustrated Safin did what many 21st-century tennis players do.

He pitched a fit.

He served his Head racket onto the NASDAQ-100 hardcourt surface, and while it bounced around a couple of times, Safin took a short walk of disgust.

Welcome to the refined world of professional tennis where winners are gracious and losers . . .

Well, they're not quite as affable, a lot of them.

''It's difficult to deal with the situation when you are playing bad and you are losing, that's for sure,'' a more composed Safin said after his loss to Dominik Hrbaty. "Everybody would have the same problem in my position. I think if you would play the same way I played, you would feel the same thing that I felt today.

"I'm sure you would go crazy, also.''

Many of Safin's peers would agree, which is why tennis rage is now seemingly customary at tournaments around the world, bad theater trying to rival the real drama.

Xavier Malisse was so peeved about a series of calls earlier in this tournament, he defaulted for verbally abusing the line umpire. Not to imply Malisse cursed, but there are rumors he used a word that rhymes with, "quit.''

One night earlier, Irakli Labadze also showed his anger and not just because his parents named him Irakli.

While losing to Safin, he smashed his racket so hard, it was mangled when the ball boy picked it up. After losing the match, Labadze then pummeled the replacement racket and threw it into the stands.

The rampage continued when Labadze kicked an ice cooler, not once, not twice but three times. The beating was so thorough, the cooler is still looking for a good injury attorney.

BREAKING POINT

Vincent Spadea held his temper throughout his match with Ivan Ljubicic on Sunday. But after losing the Stadium Court's most competitive match of the day, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), Spadea was in no mood to talk.

So he was already in the parking lot when reporters caught up with him.

''What kind of interesting questions are you going to have for me today?'' he said sarcastically.

Why did you choke on the first two points of the tiebreaker, digging yourself an 0-2 grave with consecutive unforced errors?

OK, that wasn't actually the question, but it should have been. The actual question was a less garish, ''What went wrong?'' which Spadea embraced as if it was his teddy bear.

''I went wrong,'' he said, his voice and disgust starting to rise. "I played too tentatively. I should have been more aggressive because that's how I beat him before. I didn't take it to him. I played not to lose. I could have been in the next round, and instead I'm going home.''

Presumably to kick his dog.

This all suggests tennis players are poor sports and react like brats when faced with unexpected defeat. Not true.

THE OTHER SIDE

Sometimes the racket-tossing or umpire-baiting works during victories.

Hrbaty recalled a finals match in St. Petersburg during which he was again beating Safin. Safin, down a set and a break in the second set, pitched his racket just as he did Sunday.

''He broke the racket and broke it in a way that pieces got into his hand,'' Hrbaty said.

But this time, Safin rallied, forcing Hrbaty to appreciate the silly antics.

''If everyone were the same, then people wouldn't be coming to [watch] tennis,'' Hrbaty said.

Of course, people wanting to see rage really aren't watching tennis anyway.

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Finally found a story about the Argies....

http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11240/126345107320.jpghttp://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11247/126505951331.jpghttp://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11240/126345118560.jpghttp://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11223/125957321666.jpg

Argentina rules men's tennis
By Ian Katz

March 28, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE · To win in men's tennis these days, you usually have to be an Argentine or beat one.

Argentina can boast four players in the top 12. No other country has more than two. The United States, with seven times Argentina's population, has only Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi, who turns 35 in April.

What has made an economically troubled, soccer-crazed nation of 40 million such a tennis power? The answers range from a warrior mentality and heavy tennis balls to the volatile Argentine economy.

At the Nasdaq-100 Open, there's another factor: The throngs of chanting, jumping and flag-waving Argentines who live in South Florida. If the four Argentine men still in the tournament keep winning, their fans will make the courts of Crandon Park sound and look like scaled-down Argentine soccer stadiums.

After retiring from last year's final against Roddick with what turned out to be kidney stones, Argentina's Guillermo Coria said the Nasdaq crowd "is incredible. It's like playing at home for me."

The Argentines are led by No. 5-ranked Coria, known as the fastest man on the tour and for his delicate drop shots. No. 8 Gaston Gaudio, who defeated Coria in a dramatic French Open final last year, has a to-die-for backhand.

Though he lost Sunday to David Ferrer of Spain, ninth-ranked David Nalbandian is almost always in contention the final days of Grand Slam tournaments. And Guillermo Canas, No. 12, is a tireless marathoner who wins by attrition.

But they're not the only ones. Juan Ignacio Chela and Mariano Zabaleta are still in the tournament, along with Coria and Gaudio. A total of 11 Argentine men are ranked in the top 100. The United States has five.

"They are great competitors and they work extremely hard," said Darren Cahill, Agassi's coach. "It helps them that they have come through the tour together."

Like the top Americans in the past two decades, the Swedes in the 1980s and the Spaniards in recent years, the Argentines have been inspired by the success of their compatriots.

"They all push each other," said U.S. pro James Blake. "When you see guys you came up with doing well, you think maybe you can do that too."

The international competition is evident at the Nasdaq. In a practice set Friday, Gaudio whipped Chela, who was chucking his racket around the court in anger.

The next day both won second-round matches. After his second-round win Saturday, Coria spoke of looking forward to a possible quarterfinal against Gaudio, though he noted that both must first win two more matches.

It sounds simplistic, but a fighting spirit counts for a lot during an 11-month season in which players inevitably suffer mental and physical letdowns.

"When you play an Argentine, you know you are going to have a tough match," said Franco Davin, Gaudio's coach. "That can weigh on an opponent."

Paradorn Srichaphan, the No. 30 seed, felt that weight Saturday against the unseeded Zabaleta, who won a tight tiebreak in the first set and willed his way to the match's only service break in the second set.

"We are fighters; we love to compete," said Zabaleta, who is ranked No. 52. "Maybe that's the difference between us and other countries."

Zabaleta, less gifted than most in the top 100, is a scrapper. He continually exhorts himself with "c'mon!" and "yes!" in Spanish between points. With his long, stringy dark hair and scraggly beard, Zabaleta looks tough. He's someone you would want on your side in a street brawl.

The two stars of the group are 23-year-olds Coria and Nalbandian, Argentina's version of Agassi and Jim Courier -- rival/friends who grew up with each other on the junior circuit and stand in each other's way at Grand Slams. The two battled in the French Open junior final in 1999, with Coria winning, and as recently as January, when Nalbandian won in the Australian Open round of 16.

Coria, whose nickname is El Mago, the magician, for his deft touch, is probably the circuit's most feared player on clay. At last year's French Open he was on his way toward certifying his dominance on the slow surface when he mentally and physically fell apart, losing 8-6 in the fifth set after holding two match points.

Nalbandian, born 12 days before Coria, is the most successful Argentine off clay. Since 2002 only Nalbandian and Australian Lleyton Hewitt have reached the quarterfinals or better of all four Grand Slams.

Coria and Nalbandian, neither of whom grew up with a lot of money, were ordained a decade ago as future stars by the Argentine Tennis Association, which funded much of their junior careers. The training, coaching and travel necessary for a top Argentine junior cost about $70,000 a year, according to Guillermo Salatino, a veteran Argentine tennis journalist with Fox Sports.

The country's economic troubles since the late 1990s have contributed to its tennis success. "Hunger is the key," Salatino said. "They see tennis as an opportunity."

Horacio de la Pena, an Argentine who played on the tour and coaches No. 16-ranked Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, cites what could called the currency incentive: Because the Argentine peso is weak against the dollar, even pros making little money early in their careers can use that foreign currency to buy the best coaches and trainers in Argentina.

It helps, de la Pena said, that Argentines who played relatively recently on the pro tour, including Davin, Hernan Gumy, Javier Frana and Luis Lobo, have taken to coaching the current crop. "They know the ins and outs, about life on the circuit," he said.

De la Pena also believes that Argentines' ground strokes have been strengthened by the fact that as juniors growing up, they played with tennis balls that are made to be a bit heavier than those used in most pro tournaments, and in Argentina's humid conditions.

As for Argentine women, Gabriela Sabatini, who in the 1980s and 1990s reached the semifinals or better of a Grand Slam event 11 consecutive years, inspired only a small group of female athletes.

Paola Suarez, who has won the U.S. Open doubles with Spain's Virginia Ruano Pascual the last three years, hovers around the top 20 in singles. Argentina's best women's singles prospect is 20-year-old Gisela Dulko, ranked No. 36.

Argentine men, on the other hand, will be all over tournament draw sheets in the coming years. Of the 11 in the top 100, none is older than 28. To be sure, it will be difficult to keep so many among the elite. "These things go in waves," Davin said. "You can't always have three of the world's top 10."

Probably not. But you can try, and the Argentines certainly will.

tangerine_dream
03-28-2005, 08:02 PM
More good stuff. :lol: And it looks like Cousin Vinny isn't much of a media darling. *shocking*

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Meltdowns rule at Nasdaq
Marat Safin and Vince Spadea flash their anger in losing their third-round matches.

By Charles Elmore
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
March 28, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE — Marat Safin kicked his racket and declared himself crazy.

Vince Spadea, a Nasdaq-100 Open semifinalist in 2004, skipped the interview room and reporters had to chase him into the parking lot, where he asked hotly, "Now you want to talk to me?"

Day 5 at the world's biggest non-Grand Slam tourney was a story of shot nerves and escapes that never happened for a couple of top-25 players on stadium court.

Safin, the No. 3 seed, joined deposed No. 2 seed Andy Roddick and No. 5 Carlos Moya on the sidelines in the third round Sunday at a tournament where the search is on for anyone to challenge No. 1 Roger Federer.

Meet one player making as good a case as anyone: No. 13-seeded Ivan Ljubicic, the "American slayer" of recent Davis Cup fame. He beat Spadea for the first time in three tries 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (3).

Ljubicic served up to 140 mph, and averaged 122 mph to Spadea's 108 mph, cracking six aces to three. He also outdueled Spadea 14-9 in forehand winners.

Simply stated, Ljubicic is a different player in 2005. He has reached four finals and won 25 of his past 32 matches.

"I feel much more confident," Ljubicic said. "Physically, I can go on forever now. Just playing my tennis, run every ball out, just to put the ball back in the court and to see what the other guy's going to do, it's a great feeling."

Ljubicic stunned the Dream Team of Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi this month with wins over both in the Davis Cup. He has been so good, in fact, that fellow tour player Michael Llodra hid in the Croat's locker 10 minutes before Sunday's match, according to Ljubicic.

"So I went to open the locker and then shock, completely shocked (about) what happened — Michael Llodra naked in my locker," Ljubicic said. "He said to me, 'I'm trying to get positive energy from you. You're winning a lot of matches this year.' I mean, he is a weird guy."

Spadea, from Boca Raton, was in no mood to laugh about locker-room antics, or much of anything else, after the loss. He set out for his car despite media requests for interviews, risking at least a $1,000 fine from the ATP Tour.

When reporters caught up, Spadea said, "I would have been on my way to the semifinals. Instead, I'm going home. I didn't play well enough on the big points."

Spadea may not be fined because interviews did take place, even if under unusual circumstances, an ATP spokesman said.

Safin, ranked No. 4, could not escape his own fatalism about playing poorly in March, despite his Australian Open victory in January. Dominik Hrbaty, the No. 26 seed from Slovakia, drove Safin to a 7-6 (6), 6-1 collapse.

Safin threw his racket. He kicked it. He did everything but hit an ace with it.

Hrbaty hit five, and outshot Safin on forehand winners 11 to 1.

Safin, who has long said he does not play well in the humidity of Miami, said he never felt comfortable on the court.

"If you would feel the same thing what I felt today, I'm sure you would go crazy, too," Safin said.

Hrbaty, who improved his record 7-6 against Safin, gave the Russian credit for fighting through a first-set tiebreak.

"But he probably, in the end of the match, he gave a couple of points," Hrbaty said. "It was more like he resigned because he knew that with his game he cannot win today."

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Commentary: Resolve separates Serena from Safin

By Karen Crouse
March 28, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE — The first number in tennis' lottery has spat out like a tennis ball from a hitting machine, the crowning of the Australian Open champions the last week in January reducing the potential field of grand prize winners to a mere two.

Marat Safin and Serena Williams are the only players alive in the drive to win all four of this year's majors. Their approaches are as different as choosing lottery numbers based on some carefully constructed system vs. going with the quick pick.

Safin is a free-swinging fatalist. He regards the tour as a procession of traps waiting to ensnare him. He went to the Australian Open expecting to thrash around in destiny's undertow and, to his surprise, caught the perfect wave.

The flighty Russian dispatched Lleyton Hewitt in the final after dispatching Roger Federer in five sets in the semifinals — the Swiss master's only defeat in the past seven months.

You can't bowl a 300 unless you roll a strike in the first frame. Safin could become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors. Why not? He won the 2000 U.S. Open and has gone as far as the semifinals of the French Open and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

It's these kind of great expectations that make Safin's shoulders sag like a tent under the weight of a hailstorm. "Everybody gives their own opinion about how I'm playing and how well should I do and maybe I have a little pressure," he said after his third-round match at the Nasdaq-100 Open.

Safin, 25, was holding court after his latest dispiriting early-round exit, this one a 7-6 (6), 6-1 setback at the hands of 26th-seeded Dominik Hrbaty. In four tournaments since his masterstroke in Melbourne, Safin has yet to string together back-to-back victories.

Something other than Mother Nature's heat and Hrbaty's tenacity seemed to be eating at Safin's confidence and composure Sunday. A match that started with Safin winning his first two service games without surrendering a point ended some 60 minutes later with him standing frozen as the past while a 99-mph serve fell well within his reach.

The match was full of Marat moments. There was his indifferent 93-mph second serve that sailed out followed on the next point by an inimitable backhand half volley winner. There was a racket drop, a racket kick and a racket throw.

Hrbaty said it could have been worse. In one of his 13 previous meetings against Safin, "I won the first set and was a break up in the second set," Hrbaty recalled. "He broke the racket and he broke it the way that pieces of the racket got into his hand. And he needed an injury timeout to take it out."

The only injury Safin suffered Sunday was to his pride. "Personally," he said, "when I'm playing bad, I'm playing really bad. There's nothing I can do."

When the going gets tough, Safin just might decide to call it a day. Hrbaty acknowledged as much, saying, "in the end of the match .*.*. (he) resigned because he knew that with his game he cannot win today."

There are players with less skill than Safin who have greater self-determination. Only someone who is as tortured as he is talented would say, as Safin did in response to a question about what comes after reaching one of tennis' four summits, "Of course there is always downhill."

Safin is a very, very good player. He is not a great player. The great ones find a way to win when the magic is missing.

There is a reason Serena Williams has won seven majors and a Serena Slam (four consecutive majors, though not in the same calendar year). She has a "Plan C" for those times when her power game is on the fritz.

Williams is the queen of self-determination. She believes she will win. And so she usually does, even when her movement is sluggish and/or her groundstrokes are sloppy.

The 23-year-old from Palm Beach Gardens couldn't find her rhythm Sunday in her third-round match against Shahar Peer, 17. It didn't matter. Williams willed her way past Peer 6-3, 6-3.

She can't bend spoons like Uri Geller. What Williams can do is use her mind to break her opponents. There is no other way to explain how she defeated Maria Sharapova and Lindsay Davenport, both of whom were playing better, in the semifinals and final, respectively, at the Australian Open.

"No one ever talks about my mental strength," Williams said. "I wouldn't have won Australia if I hadn't have been mentally tough or any Grand Slam if I hadn't have been mentally tough. They said (Martina) Hingis was really mentally tough and Chris Evert. But no one ever talks about how mentally tough I am."

Maybe people can't see Williams' inner armor for her couture outerwear. On this day her strength, and Safin's weakness, were self-evident.

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Dent Beats Top 10 Player at Nasdaq Tennis
By STEVEN WINE

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Taylor Dent beat a top-10 player for the fourth time this year Monday, eliminating Guillermo Coria 6-3, 6-4 in the third round of the Nasdaq-100 Open.

The departure of Coria, the runner-up last year, left just one of the six highest-ranked players -- No. 1 Roger Federer -- in contention with four rounds still to go. The highest-seeded man left in one half of the draw is No. 13 Ivan Ljubicic.

Dent, seeded 31st, used his serve-and-volley game to keep Coria on the defensive. Dent lost only four points on his first serve, never faced a break point and won 37 points at the net.

This year the Californian has also beaten No. 2-ranked Lleyton Hewitt, No. 4 Marat Safin and No. 9 David Nalbandian.

"I feel like if I execute my game, I'm going to give anybody in the world a handful of trouble," Dent said.

But in three previous appearances at Key Biscayne, Dent never advanced past the second round.

While Coria was eliminated, fellow Argentine Gaston Gaudio won. The No. 7-seeded Gaudio beat No. 27 Sebastien Grosjean 6-2, 6-3.

Coria, seeded fourth, struggled with his serve on a cloudy, windy afternoon and hit double faults -- including four to fall behind 4-3 in the second set.

The crafty Coria tried drop shots hoping to disrupt his opponent's rhythm. Dent retrieved one with a sprint and angled his return crosscourt for a winner.

"It's always nice to beat the South Americans and Spaniards at their own little game," he said.

On Sunday, three-time defending champion Serena Williams needed 90 minutes to eliminate the scrappy 17-year-old Israeli Shahar Peer 6-3, 6-3.

Of the 20 consecutive matches Williams has won at Key Biscayne, the latest ranked among the most grueling. Peer kept chasing down her shots, much to the delight of the stadium crowd.

"She was really gutsy," Williams said. "I wasn't used to playing a person like that. It was a totally different game for me. She gets a lot of balls back, and she doesn't hit with a lot of pace."

The pesky Peer is part of the newest generation poised to make an impact on the WTA Tour. Along with Grand Slam champions Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, there's Tatiana Golovin of France, Vera Douchevina of Russia, Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic and Anna Tatishvili of Georgia.

Each is a teenager. Why is none from the United States?

"Everyone is interested in becoming a pop star, `American Idol,' becoming another Beyonce and stuff," Williams said. "Maybe I've got to up my image --- they'll want to become tennis players like me."

jmp
03-29-2005, 03:03 AM
Thanks for the articles and pics, Tangy. :yeah:

PaulieM
03-29-2005, 03:10 AM
thanks for the great articles tangy :D

tangerine_dream
03-29-2005, 04:46 AM
Glad I posted those articles earlier today. Time to check up on our guys' progress. :banana:

NASDAQ-100 Open Monday Results
Third Round (completed)

Roger Federer (1) def. Mariano Zabaleta, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3
Taylor Dent (31) def. Guillermo Coria (4), 6-3, 6-4
Tim Henman (6) def. Juan Ignacio Chela (28), 6-3, 6-1
Gaston Gaudio (7) def. Sebastien Grosjean (27), 6-2, 6-3
Andre Agassi (9) def. Arnaud Clement, 6-2, 6-4
Florian Mayer def. Fernando Gonzalez (15), 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 6-3
Mario Ancic (18) def. Tommy Haas (16), 6-4, 6-4
Radek Stepanek (23) def. Jeff Morrison, 6-3, 6-0

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Another day of the NASDAQ-100 Open, another top-five men's seed eliminated.
By MICHELLE KAUFMAN

Guillermo Coria, the fourth seed and 2004 finalist, was beaten by No. 31 Taylor Dent of the United States, 6-3, 6-4 in the first match on Stadium Court. It was the fourth time this year Dent beat a Top 10 player. Dent's serve-and-volley style kept Coria moving, and despite the Argentine's speed, he couldn't get in rhythm. Dent didn't face a single break point and won 37 points at the net.

''Taylor certainly has a game that should cause problems for a lot of people,'' said Andre Agassi, who also advanced with a straight-sets victory against Arnaud Clement of France. ``Not many players play like he does, and that in and of itself presents an awkward match for everyone he's up against. I would expect him to have these wins a lot more often. With the right coaching and commitment, there's no reason why he can't achieve great things on a consistent basis.''

Coria's departure means there is only one top six player left in the tournament with four rounds to go - No. 1 Roger Federer. Ivan Ljubicic, the No. 13 seed, is the highest seeded player left on one side of the draw.

Agassi said he is not surprised to see seeded players fall, that the results are proof of the depth in men's tennis.

''While you would favor certain guys in any given match, you have to show up and execute,'' Agassi said. ``That's the difficulty these days, if you're slightly off, just a lot of guys can hit the ball well enough to have their day or their week.''

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http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/40969000/jpg/_40969419_henman_getty_270.jpg

HENMAN FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS
March 28, 2005

Tim Henman prepared for last 16 combat with Radek Stepanek delighted and relieved to be physically fit enough to play the game his way again.

The British number one breezed past Juan Ignacio Chela, who was made to look leaden-footed by an energetic Henman display.

Henman won 6-3 6-1 against the man who he surprisingly beat in straight sets at last year's French Open and admitted he was now in peak fitness.

"When I reflect on it, there were fitness issues when I got on to the hard courts in Toronto and Cincinnati (last season) and I wasn't really aware of the problem, but I was a bit stiff and then it really flared up at the US Open," the 30-year-old told Sky Sports.

"It is great to be out there and really going after my shots, moving forward and lunging at the net, because that's when I'm going to be at my most effective and it's great to feel at 100%."

Henman broke Chela in the eighth game and never looked back, dominating his less mobile opponent with some superb tennis.

Both players started confidently and the match went with serve to 3-3. Henman broke his opponent's serve in the eighth game and held serve after being taken to deuce to close out the set.

The 30-year-old made a bullish start to the second set, his net game far too strong for the heavy-footed Chela, and he broke serve without dropping a point.

Chela, 25, seemed reluctant to uproot himself from the baseline and again he was broken to love, a deep forehand from Henman allowing him to advance to the net and go 3-0 up with a delicious half-volley.

Henman held serve to win his seventh-successive game before the Argentinian finally stopped the rot in the fifth game of the second set.

More solid net play took Henman to 5-1 and his tenacity unsettled the Argentinian again, winning one point off an overhead Chela smash which he had no right to win - and he was able to complete the job in the seventh game and make progress.

"Even when I played him at Roland Garros I was trying to get forward as much as possible and on a hard court with a sure footing I can do that," Henman added.

"But you still have to choose the right time to do it, because if you come in on an absolutely rubbish shot he is going to hit them past you.

"I felt I was timing the ball well and getting on to both his first and second serves. I kept the momentum and from 3-3 in the first set I really ran away with it."

Czech Stepanek, seeded 23, was a 6-3 6-0 winner over American Jeff Morrison and is an opponent Henman knows well.

"I practised with Stepanek before Wimbledon. He has got a really deceptive serve and these are conditions where both of us will probably play quite similarly," said the British number one.

"We try to get to the net and put pressure on the other guy. I'm going to need to play well, but I'm looking forward to that next challenge."

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Patience lifts Dent in upset as maturity shows against Coria
BY CHARLES BRICKER
Mar. 28, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. - (KRT) - Fire but finesse. Power but patience. And especially patience, the sort of patience that is allowing Taylor Dent to finally forge the service breaks he needs to complement his serve-and-volley offense.

It was all on display Monday at the Nasdaq-100, where Dent's game, never closer than it is now to full maturity, was easily enough to take down last year's runner-up, No. 5 seeded Guillermo Coria, in a 6-3, 6-4 upset that sent the young man from Newport Beach, Calif., into a winnable round-of-16 match against Florian Mayer.

"I feel if I execute my game, I'm going to give anybody in the world a handful of trouble," he said. He might have added, "And if I can ward off stomach viruses and avoid injury."

A month shy of his 24th birthday and a good 10 pounds lighter than last season, Dent might be marginally quicker, but that's not the salient reason for his increased success.

There has never been a question about his serving and volleying, but now his service returns are better and so is his patience in attacking the net off his opponent's service game.

No longer hurrying his approaches, he's playing that one- more-slice backhand that puts him in his best position to parry passing shots and that, almost as much as winning 40 of his own 51 service points, was responsible for dropping Coria.

Dent was joined in the round of 16 by No. 1 Roger Federer, who won a beautifully played, tense three-setter vs. Mariano Zabaleta.

Also making it through were No. 6 Tim Henman, No. 7 Gaston Gaudio, No. 9 Andre Agassi, No. 18 Mario Ancic, No. 23 Radek Stepanek and unseeded Mayer.

It was a snap performance for Agassi, who ground down France's Arnaud Clement 6-2, 6-4. Arnaud simply had no weapons to hurt Agassi.

Midway through the first set, Agassi forced him to hit eight consecutive backhands before the ninth went long a point that encapsulated the way this match went.

It was also the end of the trail here for Tampa's Jeff Morrison, who qualified and won two rounds but lost to Stepanek.

Federer won 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 and was serving for the match when Zabaleta, using his fiery forehand, broke him twice. Federer never got back on top till the eighth game of the third set, when he lofted a spectacular topspin lob that came down on the intersecting base- and right sideline, leading to a break point.

With four wins this season over top-10 opponents Lleyton Hewitt, David Nalbandian, Marat Safin and Coria, Dent is no longer a one-dimensional player with a big serve-and-volley game.

He neutralized Coria's first serve by blocking it back deep and, when he got to net, reading the passing shots well. He can still bludgeon his volleys, but he's become more of a Patrick Rafter kind of volleyer, often going for placement rather than the do-or-die shot.

Against Coria he sent a lot of slice approaches down the middle, forcing Coria to play passing shots from the center and taking away the angles he likes.

"I was hitting my spots on my serve, sticking my volleys and making him play a lot of balls from the baseline, which was all good for me," Dent said.

Late in the second set Coria hit one of his deft drop shots, but he got surprised by Dent's quicker feet. He closed quickly on the ball and stroked a sharply angled crosscourt backhand back for a winner.

"Oh, yeah, I liked that one," he said.

"It's always nice to beat the South Americans and the Spaniards in their own little games."

The victory increased Dent's record to 14-7 for the year, and who knows if he could have exceeded the round of 16 at Indian Wells two weeks ago if he hadn't come down with a stomach virus. He had just defeated Safin in the third round.

So far, so healthy in Key Biscayne. He and Mayer, the tall, stylish German, will play Wednesday.

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Photos from today:

http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11253/126630176795.jpg
DAY AT THE OFFICE: Andre Agassi takes on France's Amaud Clement during Monday's third round at the NASDAQ-100 Open.

http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11253/126630188048.jpg
SENDING IT BACK: Amaud Clement returns a shot against Andre Agassi Monday afternoon.

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VICTORY: Andre Agassi blows kisses to the crowd after defeating Amaud Clement in straight sets Monday at the NASDAQ-100 Open.

http://www.miami.com/images/miami/miamiherald/11253/126630244313.jpg
OH, NO: A dejected Guillermo Coria reacts after losing the first set against Taylor Dent.

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MAKING A RACKET: Guillermo Coria throws his racket at the ball duirng his match against Taylor Dent. The No. 4 seed was eliminated 6-3, 6-4.

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TOUGH: 'If I execute my game, I'm going to give anybody in the world a handful of trouble,' Taylor Dent said.

http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050328/capt.flkb10703281831.nasdaq_100_open_flkb107.jpg
Gaston Gaudio

http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050329/capt.flkb12203290330.nasdaq_100_open_flkb122.jpg
Mariano Zabaleta

PaulieM
03-29-2005, 04:51 AM
really glad to see taylor doing well, but why oh why does he take such scary photos?? :scared:

NATAS81
03-29-2005, 05:13 AM
TOUGH: 'If I execute my game, I'm going to give anybody in the world a handful of trouble,' Taylor Dent said.

So true! You go Taylor! Surf city! Here we come!

jmp
03-29-2005, 02:16 PM
While the seeds keep dropping, this tournament continues to provide endless entertainment and surprises. Best of luck to the remaining players. Take advantage of this great opportunity, men, and shine, shine, shine in Miami! :yeah:

tangerine_dream
03-30-2005, 05:21 AM
Nasdaq-100 Tuesday Results
Fourth Round

Roger Federer (1) def. Mario Ancic (18), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
Tim Henman (6) def. Radek Stepanek (23), 7-5, 6-3
Andre Agassi (9) def. Gaston Gaudio (7), 7-6 (9-7), 6-2
Rafael Nadal (29) def. Ivan Ljubicic (13), 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3
Thomas Johansson (25) def. Jiri Novak (24), 7-6 (7-2), 6-2
Dominik Hrbaty (26) def. Gael Monfils, 6-3, 6-3
Taylor Dent (31) def. Florian Mayer, 6-3, 6-4
David Ferrer def. Juan Carlos Ferrero, 6-7 (7-9), 6-3, 7-5

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Tuesday Recap

All remaining men were in action on Tuesday as Round of 16 matches were contested throughout the entire draw.

First up on Stadium Court was French sensation Gael Monfils taking on the No. 26 seed Dominik Hrbaty. The Slovak, who had previously knocked Marat Safin out in the third round, had no problem with Monfils as he advanced with the 6-3, 6-3 win.

As shadows inched their way across the court, American Andre Agassi and No. 7 seed Gaston Gaudio did battle for a spot in the quarterfinals. After a close first set, the American took control in the second closing out the 7-6(7), 6-2 victory in a little over two hours.

In an all Spanish affair, Juan Carlos Ferrero battled countryman David Ferrer for a ticket to the quarterfinals. Ferrer proved too much for Ferrero taking the match in three close sets, 6-7(7), 6-3, 7-5.

Spanish sensation Rafael Nadal booked his spot in the quarterfinals with an impressive 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 win over the No. 13 seed Ivan Ljubicic. The No. 29 seed will now face Thomas Johansson who also advanced after defeating Jiri Novak 7-6(2),6-2.

WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID:

DOMINIK HRBATY: "Yeah, I played well. I had a lot of confidence. The important thing is that I was serving well basically during the whole match. And then from the baseline I started -- in the beginning of the match, I started to play well. I had really couple of good rallies in the beginning, and that helped me."

"And since then I knew that I have a feeling for the ball for this chance. I knew that I can play the ball wherever I like because there was the feeling in my hands. And then it was, you know, just not to make any easy mistakes in the important moments, which I didn't make. I played some very good points on breakpoints."

ANDRE AGASSI: "The first set was as hard a set as you'll ever have, about an hour and a half almost. A match like that can just turn into a first-class battle, you know, I mean, all the way through from start to finish. Or if you take your right chances, you can maybe break a match like that open. Today, that's what happened. I played a few good points when I had to, and a couple things went right for me. I took advantage of it, and that makes life a lot easier."

RAFAEL NADAL: "I won because I played very well. I played very aggressive. In thought it looks like Ljubicic is just holding the match with his serve, but in reality he plays good from the back of the court and puts a lot of pressure. So I had to stay aggressive and fight hard and I returned well. That was the key of the match."

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20 QUESTIONS WITH ANDRE AGASSI
Agassi has learned a lot about himself
March 29, 2005

1). Were you an insecure superstar?

"I don't know about the superstar part. I can attest to the insecurity, which I still fight pretty much by the day. Being objective about yourself is a very hard thing to do. But when you are on the world stage, you can't help but hear the truth quite often, and in a pretty harsh way. That's been a curse and a great blessing because I deal well with honesty and try to evolve from it.''

2). The character trait you most admire in others?

"Empathy -- the ability to look at any given situation through the lens of someone else. Understand the full capacity of that emotion. It holds you accountable and leaves you fulfilled.''

3). You were around Steffi Graf for a long time before you began a relationship. How did you figure out you loved her?

"[Laughter] Same way anyone else does, I guess: I had the opportunity to understand how and who she was. I've marveled at her from a distance, like so many. For a lot of reasons. The looks are something I always responded most to when I didn't know her. . . . [Such a caveman . . .] Hey, an honest question deserves honest answer. But then you notice the pillars in her life that are a testament to who a person is. The saying is so true: You are what you do. I've always respected how she goes about her work, business, relationships. Companies. Coaches. People she has been so loyal to. The people in her life. Then I basically stalked her. Then I got to know her. And it has been a joy since.''

4). Three athletes anywhere you most respect?

"Wow. That's not an easy one. Alonzo Mourning has impressed me a lot through his foundation and what he cares about. His heart and commitment, pretty amazing. And seeing what people can do when they are 40 is pretty darned inspiring. Jerry Rice or Karl Malone. That hits the spot for me.''

5). During the last 15 years of growth from child star to introspective adult, what are you most embarrassed by?

"[Laughter] Probably my mullet. My hair. Sometimes it is better to not have any options anymore. [He is bald now.] Early on, I'm rather embarrassed about not understanding the world stage and that things you say and do in a casual sense get perceived in a grand sense and you can get boxed in. I've tried to make sure that everything I say and do now has some sort of reflection on who I am. It's a discipline.''

6). You look back at photos of yourself with that hair and think what?

"Boy, I would like to burn those. The hardest part is after games, when you are signing autographs and there are loyal fans who have been with you since the beginning. And they are pulling out pictures taken of you when you started. [Laughter] I mean, I want to be there for you and sign it, but I'm having a hard time signing that for you.''

7). You got much better older. What is the difference between the second half of your career and the first?

"I grew up. I started choosing my battles and realizing I could only expect a commitment from myself to be the person I aspire to be. That's not an easy thing. Still isn't. The effort and the journey is something people can respect and identify with, I hope.''

8). What are you proudest of professionally?

"I've taken a sport I've had a rough time with, and I've allowed it to make me better as a person. Tennis has been so good to me. Taught me a lot about myself. I've allowed it to become quite a friend. To play it at a time in my life when I'm old enough to appreciate and embrace the opportunity is probably my greatest joy.''

9). What do you love and hate most about tennis?

"Here's what I love about it: I love that tennis is a one-on-one sport only about problem solving. There are so many parallels between those lines and life. It taught me how to dig deep and take that next step even if you question it. That helped me in other parts of my life when I thought I was on the ropes. Get back to the fundamentals and know the most important point is the next one. And, to be quite honest, the hardest part is the grind -- putting yourself in position to do it every day. The traveling. The commitment. Takes its toll. But that's what makes the good times special.''

10). Where do you place yourself among the greatest male tennis player of all time?

"It's hard to argue with stats. Rod Laver, what he accomplished, every slam in the same year twice. And Pete Sampras, most slams ever. Hard to argue with that. Where do I put myself? I don't know. I was privileged to be on the other end of the court with Pete. I expected to win every time and, most of the time, I didn't. Thirty-five times, he beat me 19. You sort of marvel at everyone else. If you aren't watching the ball and moving your feet, it's a useless conversation. So I put my effort there.''

11). You are forever linked with Sampras. You like him? Respect him? Describe that relationship.

"I respect him tremendously. We've done battle. What surprises most people is how little I knew him off the court. He was a very single-minded man, and we only dealt with each other across that net. Hard not to respect someone like him. Liking him? He was always easy to get along with. [Laughter] But I think both of us would say that both of our greatest nightmares would be to wake up and have the other one's life.''

12). You have been trying to convince Steffi to play doubles with you. Why won't she?

"I'm the good guy in that part. I try to talk her into it. She's convinced we have a very happy life together. She doesn't want to risk that, I don't think. It just might be the only real argument we get into will be over something trivial, so she chooses to avoid that.''

13). You have built an inner-city school in Las Vegas. Why?

"It's the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy. It gives the highest standard of education to children who wouldn't normally have that. When you see a child who has no hope or opportunity or the ability to even dream, and to watch them take ownership of their future, it is probably the greatest feeling you can have in your experiences with people.''

14). What is the most moved you have been by something that project has produced?

"We have certain rules at our school. Parents have to sign contracts that they are going to volunteer and sign off on homework because we want to include the home environment. One young man called and said he understood the rules. But he said he had only one parent, his father, and that his father would not live up to this standard, but he didn't want it to cost him his chance. The child was the parent. His father was too irresponsible. One of the most touching stories I've ever heard.''

15). What is the greatest thing about your hometown of Las Vegas?

"Its soul and culture. I've done press conferences defending the city. And the one thing you don't ever hear in the recording is the chuckles when I defend it. It's the fastest-growing city the last 30 years running. It is a city that believed something, dreamed it, then did it. And it's a mentality instilled in everyone there.''

16). You have won $29 million in career prize money alone. What's the dumbest money you have spent?

"[Laughter] Brutal question. As a teenager, on the vehicles getting you from one destination to another. So much energy put into the car you rode in. At any given time, I'd have half a dozen cars on the expensive side. Learned real quick, it's not the ride to get somewhere -- it's where it is you are going. I have the minivan now. Greatest car in the world. Doors open on the keychain. Awesome with grocery bags and two children hanging on you.''

17). How has being a dad changed you most?

"Taught me to do more listening than talking. The more you know me, the more you know that's a skill I have to work on. You can't teach unless you are willing to learn. There's no space greater than a child's life. Learned how to learn. Be receptive to who they are. Discover that before going to what I believe.

18). When you were young, didn't you go to the mailbox and find checks for $1.4 million that you weren't even expecting?

"I don't know where any of this money has come from. It's a yellow, fuzzy tennis ball. I've learned real quickly to keep my eyes focused on that.''

19). Five adjectives you would use to describe yourself to a stranger?

"I was never good in English class. I don't even think I know what an adjective is, honestly. I just always hope to come across as somebody willing to take that step every day to become more of who I want to be. That's what it is about. It's about not accepting yourself not getting a day better. And being patient enough to understand you can't get more than one day better in one day. That's what I try to live by.''

20). How much longer you going to do this? When will you know to walk away?

'The simple answer is `I don't know' and 'I don't know.' As long as I'm healthy and able to be out there playing my best tennis with the real expectation of finding a way to win, I've got to believe I'll keep pushing myself to do it. When the day comes that I don't feel my best tennis could get the job done, that would be my signal. If you had asked me six years ago where I'd be today, I could never have imagined this. I feel like I burn out every day. That's the given. Everyone gets tired of punching the clock and struggles. But it is what I do. I have to look for ways to fuel those batteries. And I don't have to look far anymore. Beautiful family and friends. Those batteries get recharged.''

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Nadal turns back Ljubicic
March 29, 2005

MIAMI - (KRT) - He won his first ATP match in his homeland of Spain at age 15 - the ninth player in Open Era to win an ATP match before his 16th birthday.

Last year, as a 17-year-old, the long-haired lefty blasted his way onto Key Biscayne by defeating world No. 1 Roger Federer in the third round of the NASDAQ-100 Open. Then he closed the season in December by defeating No. 2 Andy Roddick in the Davis Cup final in Seville to lead Spain against the United States.

The career of Rafael "Rafa'' Nadal, only one of six players to beat the king of tennis in 2004, continues to soar. On Tuesday, 31st-ranked Nadal defeated 14th-ranked Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3.

"I've only played two years here in Key Biscayne, but I think the surface suits my game because it's not too fast, and I like it,'' Nadal said through an interpreter.''

Today, Nadal becomes the youngest man to reach the quarterfinals at NASDAQ since Roddick in 2001. He will attempt to become the youngest semifinalist in tournament history, facing No. 25 seed Thomas Johansson of Sweden.

Johansson defeated Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2.

Nadal's late-afternoon match was played on the grandstand court under a broiling sun that he said barely bothered him.

"Compared to the early days of the tournament,'' he said, "I suffered the climate much more before.''

The match was a two-hour 44-minute slugfest between two baseliners, the 6-0, 165-pound Nadal in his sleeveless, tangerine-colored shirt and calf-long piratas and the 6-4, 182-pound Croat exchanging grunts and pumped fists.

"I played very aggressive,'' Nadal said. "I thought it looks like Ljubicic is just holding the match with his serve, but in reality, he plays good from the back of the court and puts on a lot of pressure.''

Nadal said two points hurt him in the tiebreaker, "a crosscourt forehand which hit the tape and went out and a backhand volley'' that went wide at 5-5 to give Ljubicic a 6-5 advantage and final service winner for the set. But he was more than pleased to ad-vance.

"Now, I've got much better ball control in my match,'' he said, "but I think I should improve the backhand slice. I was very happy today with how my serve worked, because in the previous match, I wasn't too happy about my serve.''

One person who believes Nadal can make it to the NASDAQ final: Federer, who could be his opponent.

"Nadal hasn't really had the chance to show how good he really is,'' Federer said. "But I felt it here last year, so I'm not surprised at all.''

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Photos from today:

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David Ferrer of Spain returns the ball to Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain during their match at the Nasdaq 100 Open in Key Biscayne.

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Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain returns the ball to David Ferrer of Spain during their match at the Nasdaq 100 Open in Key Biscayne.

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Gael Monfils, of France, performs acrobatics in order to return a forehand during his loss to Dominik Hrbaty.

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Taylor Dent, serving toward a straight-sets victory in Key Biscayne, will take his new weapons into a winnable round-of-16 match against Florian Mayer in the Nasdaq-100.

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Six-time champion Andre Agassi thanks the crowd after ousting Arnaud Clement 6-2, 6-4 at the Nasdaq-100 Open on Key Biscayne.

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Roger Federer of Switzerland looks on against Mario Ancic of Croatia during the NASDAQ-100 Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 29, 2005 in Key Biscayne, Florida.

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Mario Ancic of Croatia returns to Roger Federer of Switzerland during the NASDAQ-100 Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 29, 2005 in Key Biscayne, Florida.

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Tim Henman of Great Britain returns to Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic during the NASDAQ 100 Open on March 29, 2005 in Key Biscayne, Florida.

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Andre Agassi, left, is congratulated by Gaston Gaudio of Argentina after Agassi defeated him 7-6 (7), 6-2 at the Nasdaq 100 Open in Key Biscayne, Fla., Tuesday, March 29, 2005.

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Rafael Nadal from Spain celebrates during his win against Ivan Ljubicic from Croatia during their quarter finals match at the NASDAQ-100 tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida, March 29, 2005.

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Taylor Dent hits a backhand during his fourth round match against Florian Mayer of Germany at the Nasdaq-100 Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, March 29, 2005.

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Florian Mayer, of Germany, returns a shot from Taylor Dent during the Nasdaq 100 Open in Key Biscayne, Fla., Tuesday, March 29, 2005.

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Thomas Johansson from Sweden hits a forehand against Jiri Novak from the Czech Republic during their quarter finals match at the NASDAQ-100 tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida March 29, 2005.

PaulieM
03-30-2005, 05:25 AM
congrats taylor on a good win :D

liptea
03-30-2005, 05:27 AM
Rafael "Rafa" Nadal. Why did that make me laugh?

tangerine_dream
03-31-2005, 04:33 PM
Getting down to the wire :banana:

Nasdaq-100 Wednesday Results
Quarter-finals

Rafael Nadal (29) def. Thomas Johansson (25), 6-2, 6-4
David Ferrer def. Dominik Hrbaty (26), 6-2, 6-3

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Spaniards reach Miami semis

Miami, FL --- Spaniards David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal picked up easy wins Wednesday to earn berths in the semifinals at the $3.45 million NASDAQ-100 Open -- an ATP Masters Series event.

The unseeded Ferrer upended 26th-seeded Slovakian Dominik Hrbaty, while the 29th-ranked Nadal downed 25th-ranked Swede Thomas Johansson.

Ferrer and Nadal will now battle each other in the round of four. The countrymen have met just once in their careers and Ferrer was victorious in that matchup.

Ferrer drilled Hrbaty in 6-2, 6-3 fashion at Crandon Park. The Spaniard is the lone non-seed still standing at this 12-day, 96-player tournament.

The world No. 44 Ferrer, who will turn 23 on Saturday, needed 65 minutes to stop Hrbaty, who had his serve broken four times and piled up 23 more unforced errors (41-18) than his Spanish counterpart.

Ferrer is now 2-2 lifetime against Hrbaty, with both of his wins coming in their last two matchups. The Spaniard topped the Slovakian in their most- recent meeting in Hamburg last season.

Nadal pounded Johansson 6-2, 6-4 to cruise into the semifinals. Johansson helped make it an easy win for Nadal, as he uncorked 33 unforced errors in the loss.

This has already been a great season for the 18-year-old Nadal, who has picked up 2005 titles at Costa Do Sauipe and Acapulco.

The quarterfinals will conclude here on Thursday when top-seeded Swiss Roger Federer takes on sixth-seeded Englishman Tim Henman and ninth-seeded Andre Agassi faces 31st-seeded fellow American Taylor Dent. Agassi has captured this prestigious event a record six times.

The 2005 Miami titlist will collect $533,350. This lucrative event has been dubbed "The Fifth Slam."

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Spain reigns for men at Nasdaq
Underdog countrymen Ferrer, Nadal win in quarterfinals
By Harvey Fialkov
March 31 2005

KEY BISCAYNE -- Call it the Curse of the X-man, because if not for Xavier Malisse's obscenity-laced tirade directed at a lineswoman, unheralded Spaniard David Ferrer probably wouldn't be in his first career semifinal on a hard court.

Ferrer, one of 11 Spaniards into the main draw of the Nasdaq-100 Open, was trailing the tempestuous Belgian 3-6, 5-5, in their second-round match on Friday, when Malisse freaked out after being called for a foot fault.

He was defaulted, fined $5,000, and forced to forfeit his second-round prize earnings of $10,350.

The unseeded Ferrer, a speedy clay-court specialist from Valencia, has taken advantage of Malisse's meltdown as well as the decimated bottom half of the draw to sneak into the semifinals after methodically dispatching an erratic Dominic Hrbaty 6-2, 6-3 on Stadium Court on Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm very surprised and I wasn't expected to do this well in a Masters [Series]," said the 44th-ranked Ferrer through a translator.

Ferrer, 23 on Saturday, entered Nasdaq with a 6-8 record in 2005 and a dismal 11-25 career mark on hard courts.

Ferrer, who disposed of countryman and boyhood idol Juan Carlos Ferrero in the fourth round, next faces good friend Rafael Nadal to set up the first all-Spaniard men's semifinal at Key Biscayne.

Nadal, 18, sporting a bandanna with a pumpkin-orange sleeveless shirt over calf-length white pedal-pushers, outslugged Sweden's Thomas Johansson 6-2, 6-4 in a late evening match to ensure that Spain will be represented in the finals for the third time. Sergi Bruguera and Carlos Moya lost in the 1997 and 2003 finals, respectively.

Nadal, a swashbuckling left-hander who trumpeted his arrival to American tennis fans last year at Nasdaq when he stunned an ailing Roger Federer in the third round, came to Miami on the heels of two consecutive clay-court titles.

Now on track for a potential final date with Federer, Nadal committed 11 unforced errors to Johansson's 33, while facing his only break point at 5-2 of the second set.

Ferrer fought off three match points to beat Nadal on clay at Stuttgart last July in their lone meeting.

"It was a great opportunity for me to continue, but the match could've gone either way,'' said Ferrer, who also took out eighth-seeded David Nalbandian after the Malisse debacle.

As spectacular as Hrbaty was in his third-round upset of Australian Open champion Marat Safin, he was just as awful in the quarters of his best Masters Series showing since reaching the finals at Monte Carlo in 2000.

Ferrer seemed content to keep the ball in play until the normally steady Slovakian sprayed one of his 41 unforced errors (to Ferrer's 18) and seven ill-timed double faults.

"If I played like the other day, he should have no chance against me," said Hrbaty, 27.

"But that happens to everybody."

The two remaining quarterfinal matches each contain a serve-and-volley specialist -- a dying breed in today's baseline bashing era -- in England's Tim Henman and American Taylor Dent. Dent, 23, is a late-bloomer whose net game was honed by his Aussie father, Phil Dent, a former top-20 player.

Dent takes on a razor-sharp Andre Agassi, the ninth seed and six-time champion here.

The sixth-seeded Henman, who holds a 6-3 edge over Federer, hopes to end the sweet-stroking Swiss player's 19-match winning streak.

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Federer escapes into quarters; Agassi advances
By Michael Russo
March 30 2005

KEY BISCAYNE -- The hottest man in tennis is looking to win back-to-back Masters Series shields for the first time. But if Roger Federer doesn't get his act together, he could be looking at a hasty exit from the Nasdaq-100 Open.

One night after being taken to three sets by Mariano Zabaleta, the No. 1 men's tennis player in the world again looked beatable when he was put to the test Tuesday night in the Round of 16 by Croatian Mario Ancic.

Ancic, who knocked off Federer at Wimbledon in 2002, came close to earning himself a grandiose 21st birthday present today. But as he's done so often the past 61 weeks, Federer pulled out a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory to answer the wakeup call and move into the quarterfinals.

"Two tough matches in a row, so I deserve a break [Thursday]," Federer cracked.

Federer was put on the defensive several times by Ancic's big serve, and the 20th-ranked and 18th-seeded Ancic often got the best of Federer with a backhanded second-serve return. Twice Federer grew so frustrated he threw his racket, a rare sight from the Swiss superstar.

"I got a little irritated," he said.

But Federer battled through and broke Ancic's serve in the seventh game of the third set. He improved to 29-1 in 2005, the best start on the ATP tour since Ivan Lendl in 1986. A winner of an ATP-best four titles this year, Federer has won 45 of his past 46 matches, 19 straight matches and 65 of 72 sets this year.

If he beats pal Tim Henman in the quarters, and if Andre Agassi can beat Taylor Dent, it'd create a semifinal showdown between Federer and Agassi.

Since Agassi beat Federer in the 2002 Key Biscayne final, Federer's defeated Agassi six straight times.

"You have to have an awareness of what his ridiculous strengths are," Agassi said.

The sixth-seeded and seventh-ranked Henman, a 7-5, 6-3 winner over Radek Stepanek, is 6-3 against Federer but lost two of three meetings in 2004.

The 10th-ranked Agassi, who has won Key Biscayne a record six times, won his 60th career match here, 7-6 (7), 6-2 over Argentina's Gaston Gaudio. The only other event Agassi's won more at is the U.S. Open (71).

Also advancing to the quarters were No. 25 Thomas Johansson, No. 26 Dominik Hrbaty, No. 29 Rafael Nadal and unseeded David Ferrer.

After converting just one of 10 break points in a physically demanding one-hour, 26-minute first set, Gaudio fell apart in the second as the 34-year-old Agassi rolled into his 10th quarterfinal in 19 appearances at Key Biscayne.

"The first set was as hard a set as you'll ever have," Agassi said.

In the second, Agassi continually frustrated his opponent into misjudgments.

The most glaring came at the end of a long sixth game when Gaudio inexplicably tried to execute a showboat shot between his legs.

The ball hit the net, which gave Agassi a 4-2 lead.

The match would be over in minutes. Agassi, seeing the white flag with Gaudio's senseless shot, sniffed the kill and executed his second set break in the next game before serving out four straight points for the match.

"It was an odd shot to play in that situation," Agassi said.

Asked why he attempted the between-the-legs shot, Gaudio said, "I just felt like it. ... That's how I've been playing my whole life, and that's how I'll keep playing. If I make it, everyone says, `What a star!' If I don't, they say, `What a jerk!'"

The 18-year-old Nadal, ranked 31st, has a terrific chance to advance to the semis. Nadal booted 13th-seeded Ivan Ljubicic, who has the second-most wins in 2005 (26), in three sets. Nadal is 20-4 this year with two titles.

French boy wonder Gael Monfils' run through the draw came to an end with a straight-set loss to Hrbaty. Monfils, 18, who won three of the four junior Grand Slams in 2004, was run all over the court.

Hrbaty, who took out Marat Safin in the third round, advanced to play Ferrer, a 6-7 (7), 6-3, 7-5 winner over Juan Carlos Ferrero.

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Odd duo dominates doubles
By Harvey Fialkov
March 30, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE · It's not as far-fetched as sending a Jamaican bobsled team to the Olympics, but having the top doubles team in the world claiming the laid-back Bahamas as home may be a close second.

Bahamian native Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor, who maintains residences in Toronto and Nassau, are perhaps the oddest couple on the circuit. But the top-seeded doubles team at the Nasdaq-100 Open has clicked on the courts, as 29 career titles -- including the recently completed Indian Wells Masters Series event and two Grand Slams -- show.

When Knowles -- the most accomplished Bahamian tennis player since journeyman Roger Davis beat then-No. 1 Ivan Lendl in a 1988 match -- isn't playing tennis, he practically lives on the water, captaining his 25-foot fishing boat, spearfishing and diving.

Nestor, who was 4 when his family escaped war-torn Yugoslavia for Toronto, prefers his liquid with a funny umbrella in it or frozen with a puck sliding across it.

"I'm not big on water," said Nestor, 32, the taller, left-handed member of the duo, who gave up his singles ambitions to focus on a doubles career that has netted him nearly $5 million. "I'm kind of scared of heights. I'd rather play hockey than have my head under water."

Like most long-term relationships, they have endured their share of rocky times since winning a junior tournament in Bogota, Colombia, 22 years ago. After a successful five-year union from 1995 to 1999, Nestor instigated a two-year split to pursue his Olympic dreams with fellow Canadian Sebastien Lareau.

After Nestor and Lareau stunned Australia's all-time greatest doubles team of Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge to win the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Nestor and Knowles went through a series of nondescript partners for two years.

"He asked me to play again, and obviously we had done well in the past," said Knowles, who has 36 doubles titles, two fewer than Nestor, and $4.4 million in career earnings. "We complement each other being right-handed and lefty, both improved our games, so it was kind of a no-brainer."

The reunion paid immediate dividends with a victory at the 2002 Australian Open, their first major title after losing in three previous Grand Slam finals. Last year they dominated the doubles circuit, going 60-20, winning five titles, including the U.S. Open, to finish as the No. 1 tandem for the second time in three years.

Although the pair seems inseparable, they do draw the line.

Neither picked the other to be best man at their respective weddings.
"The key to a good doubles team is don't get too close," joked Knowles, 33, who tabbed future Hall of Famer Jim Courier for his wedding in the Bahamas 15 months ago.

Nestor will include Knowles in his July wedding party, simply because he knows who feeds him during their offseason break.

"After 32 out of 35 weeks on the road, my perfect day wouldn't involve tennis," Nestor said.

"I'd spend most of the time on the beach, having a few drinks on Mark's boat and then having him barbecue me some food."

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Photos from today:

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David Ferrer upended 26th-seeded Slovakian Dominik Hrbaty, 6-2, 6-3 at the NASDAQ-100 Open in Miami.

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Reaching new heights
David Ferrer of Spain, above, reaches for a backhand during his straight-set victory against 26th-seeded Dominik Hrbaty, below. Ferrer advanced to his first hardcourt semifinal.

http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/afp/20050331/capt.sge.cls50.310305061906.photo01.photo.default-384x257.jpg
David Ferrer of Spain serves to Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia during the NASDAQ-100 Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Florida.

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Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia hits a forehand during his quarterfinal match against David Ferrer of Spain at the Nasdaq-100 Open in Key Biscayne, Florida March 30, 2005.[/

[img] http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20050331/capt.flkb12403310352.nasdaq_100_open_flkb124.jpg
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning a point against Thomas Johansson of Sweden during the men's quarterfinals at the Nasdaq 100 Open in Key Biscayne, Fla., Wednesday, March 30, 2005

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Thomas Johansson from Sweden hits a backhand against Rafael Nadal from Spain during their quarter finals match at the NASDAQ-100 tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida, March 30, 2005.

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60th career win here
Andre Agassi follows through on a serve Tuesday during his straight-set win over Argentina’s Gaston Gaudio.

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Dominik Hrbaty

tangerine_dream
04-01-2005, 05:34 PM
Our last men standing :banana:

Nasdaq-100 Thursday Results
Quarter-finals (completed)

Roger Federer (1) def. Tim Henman (6), 6-4, 6-2
Andre Agassi (9) def. Taylor Dent (31), 7-5, 6-0

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Federer Win Streak Hits 20 Matches

Roger Federer won his 20th consecutive match and charged into the NASDAQ-100 Open semifinals with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Tim Henman in Miami on Thursday. Federer improved to 30-1 on the year - equaling the best start to a season since Ivan Lendl in 1986.

On Friday Federer will play Andre Agassi, who defeated Taylor Dent 7-5, 6-0 to reach his 10th semifinal in Miami. Agassi dropped serve twice in the first set but tamed the big serve of Dent, breaking his countryman three times.

Agassi improved to 10-0 in career quarterfinal appearanes in Miami.

In nine previous semifinal appearances in Miami, Agassi has failed just once to advance to the final, falling to Gustavo Kuerten in 2000.

Agassi is chasing a fourth Miami title in five years and his seventh career title in Miami.

Making his 19th appearance in Miami, Agassi is 61-12 lifetime at the tournament. The only other tournament at which he has won at least 60 matches in his career is the US Open, where he owns a 71-17 career record.

Federer won his third straight match against Henman but still trails the Briton 4-6 in career meetings. [Henman is the only Top 10 player with a winning record against the Swiss.]

Federer is riding a 20-match winning streak and is chasing his fourth consecutive title and his eighth title from his past nine tournaments.

The Swiss is 30-1 on the season – the best start since Ivan Lendl went 30-1 in 1986. He is 46-1 since the beginning of the US Open and has won the past 17 finals he has contested.

Federer is looking to become the sixth player to win consecutive ATP Masters Series titles in Indian Wells and Miami. Last year he won consecutive Masters Series titles in Hamburg in May and Toronto in August.

Federer is chasing his fourth ATP Masters Series title in his past five outings at this level, and his fifth title from the past eight ATP Masters Series tournaments he has competed in, dating back to his victory in Indian Wells in 2004.

WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID:

Federer: “It was definitely one of my best matches this week, very clearly. Still have the feeling I could serve better; just to maybe get a few more free points. But from the baseline was really good today. I felt much better than the last few days. My movement was good, which is always a key to my success.

“In the middle of the first set I started to feel like I was not getting in the first serves I really wanted to, and he was keeping coming in. I knew that maybe after some time I won't make all those passing shots anymore, and that's exactly what happened. I missed quite an easy one at 30-all, he got his break point and you start thinking about it.

I am surprised to have, again, such a great start to the season after last year's season where I really thought, ‘...how in the world will I defend all those titles, and how will I maintain this level?" Because people expect so much. You have to feel well almost on every day, you know, to come through, because everybody wants to beat you out there.

That I could maintain such a high level, you know, is, for me, a little bit of a surprise. That's clear. Even though… I know I can do it. But then to really do it is a different thing again.”

Henman: “It was okay, but I think you're only allowed to play to a certain level because of the standard that he's playing so consistently. There were parts where I was -- I felt pretty comfortable, but it only takes your level to drop for a point or two points and that can be a break of serve, and he just keeps rolling from there.

“He makes it look easy when it's not. The conditions here, when it's a little bit breezy and balls are pretty lively, it's not easy to play. Every facet of his game is of such a high quality. There's plenty of guys that serve bigger than him, but you look at the number of times that he actually gets broken; it's so few.

“From the baseline, I think his movement is a factor that people don't really talk about so much. So difficult to get him out of position. Then even if you do, he still has the ability in his hand skills to then produce something. When he needs to volley, he's comfortable at the net.

“I feel somewhat disappointed with the way I played today, but I think in the context of the way I played the last couple of weeks, it's been positive. I needed to get involved in these types of tournaments. I now need to keep building from there.”

Agassi: “Well, seeing his [Federer’s] form over the last year and a half, I'd say I'd have to be doing a lot of things well - no question about it. I'll have to be working my serve well, returning well, picking my shots, executing them. But, you know, I don't go out there really with any other expectation anymore at all against anybody. So I'll have to really step it up tomorrow, that's for sure.

“The two things that he obviously does better than arguably anybody in the world is his movement and his forehand, you know. They're both big factors. So you have to know when to take your chance and not hesitate, and that's the way it is with all the guys. Except with him, it's what you consider your chance, you know. Certain guys you get a lot of looks. With him, you don't get many. So you have to recognize whatever does seem like a chance and be willing to execute it. I mean, you got to play a good match, unless he's not playing his best tennis.”

Dent: “I broke him two times in the first set. And at this high level, if you're not winning the set breaking two times, it's bad news. I got broken three times in the first set, and that has to do with my serving. I think that was the biggest part. I didn't get enough first serves in. When I did, they were okay. They weren't fantastic.

”But the big problem was my second serve. Just I was hitting a lot of double-faults. And, you know, they didn't have as much pop on them as they had earlier this week.

So it's a bit disappointing, but I'm very encouraged with this week. I've beat a lot of great players, and I feel like I'm moving in the right direction. So I'm actually excited.”

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Andre Agassi faces an uphill struggle tonight when he will play Roger Federer in the feature semifinal match at the prestigious NASDAQ-100 Open.

Agassi an Underdog Against Federer
By STEVEN WINE

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Roger Federer is so good he can transform a six-time champion into an underdog. That will be the rare role for Andre Agassi on Friday night when he takes on the world No. 1 in the semifinals of the Nasdaq-100 Open.

He's seeking his seventh Key Biscayne title, but will need an upset over Federer to reach the final.

Federer has beaten Agassi six times in a row and eliminated him at the past two Grand Slam events.

"Seeing his form over the last year and a half, I'd say I'd have to be doing a lot of things well, no question about it," Agassi said. "I'll have to really step it up Friday, that's for sure."

Federer, bidding for his first Key Biscayne title, advanced to the semifinals by beating No. 6 Tim Henman 6-4, 6-2. Agassi, seeded ninth, won the final eight games to defeat Taylor Dent 7-5, 6-0.

"Agassi learns every time he plays guys," Dent said. "He's going to try and impose his game on Roger, maybe try some new things we haven't seen him do before. If anybody can beat Roger, Andre can."

Unseeded Kim Clijsters will try for her second title in two weeks when she plays No. 2-seeded Maria Sharapova in the women's final Saturday.

Clijsters, coming back from a career-threatening wrist injury that sidelined her for much of last year, routed top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo 6-1, 6-0 on Thursday. The Belgian has a 2-0 record against Sharapova, who advanced by beating Venus Williams 6-4, 6-3.

Agassi is playing for the 19th year in a row at Key Biscayne, where the climate brings out the best in his game. He likes the unpredictable breezes because of his big hitting zone, and likes the heat and humidity because he's in great shape.

He hopes for a windy, muggy night Friday.

"I would prefer to be in extreme conditions," he said. "You know — 142 degrees."

Agassi won his first title on the island in 1990 and his most recent in 2003, and his record in the tournament is 61-12. In short, there's nowhere he'd rather take on the world's top player.

"You can't hand-pick it better," Agassi said.

"He loves this tournament," Federer said. "It's almost, maybe, probably his favorite tournament, the tournament he won the most. So it will be a tough match, but I'm really looking forward to that."

While Agassi has been terrific in South Florida, Federer has been terrific everywhere. He's 46-1 since the start of last year's U.S. Open and is trying for his fourth tournament title in a row.

"As the No. 1 in the world, you just don't want to give away victories to the other guys," Federer said. "Then they can say, `I beat the No. 1 player in the world.' At least you want to make it tough for them. This is the motivation I have."

On Sunday, Federer or Agassi will play the winner of the other semifinal, an all-Spanish matchup Friday between unseeded David Ferrer and No. 29 Rafael Nadal.

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That’s a wrap
Trainer Bill Norris treats Taylor Dent’s ankle after he tweaked it in the first set against Andre Agassi. Agassi won 7-5, 6-0, setting up a semifinal with Roger Federer.

Agassi, Federer roll to semifinal
It will be rematch of 2002 Nasdaq final
April 1, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE -- It's been said that one shouldn't rush genius.

It never rang truer than at the Nasdaq-100 Open on Thursday when Tim Henman and Taylor Dent, two of the rare serve-and-volley dinosaurs remaining on the ATP Tour, tried to pressure two of the greatest players in the sport.

While the strategy was admirable, it also was futile as top-seeded Roger Federer, utilizing every stroke in the book and some that haven't been written yet, schooled the classy Brit in a 6-4, 6-2, 72-minute quarterfinal lesson on Stadium Court.

In the evening quarterfinal, ninth-seeded Andre Agassi, the ultimate baseliner who honed his anti-repellent, net-rushing strokes against legendary serve-and-volley artist Pete Sampras, drilled a sore-tempered and sore-footed Dent 7-5, 6-0 to set up tonight's dream semifinal matchup against Federer.

It will be a reprisal of their 2002 Nasdaq final, which Agassi won for his fifth of a record six titles here. However, Federer has since dominated the matchup, and tour, reeling off six consecutive victories, including two knockouts in the past two Grand Slams.

"He's one of the legends left in tennis, and I want to be able to play him again a few times and enjoy the moment," said Federer, 30-1 this season -- matching the best start since Ivan Lendl's 1986 run -- and is 46-1 since the U.S. Open.

Agassi, who has won a tournament-record 61 matches here (sneaking past his wife Steffi Graf by two), couldn't serve out the first set at 4-5.

But the 33rd-ranked Dent, who has beaten four top 10 players this year, then gave it back with a double fault on break point.

A frustrated Dent then flung his racket 30 feet into the air as he went on to lose his temper and the match, dropping the final eight games.

Dent, who tweaked his right ankle at the end of the first set, won just 27 of 61 points at the net and only nine of his 27 second serves, a testament to Agassi's splendid return.

Dent received a ball abuse violation in the first game of the second set when he, and apparently Agassi, felt an Agassi backhand on game point should've been called wide.

"I didn't feel everybody was against me, but Andre is a legend," said Dent, now 0-5 against Agassi. "If I wasn't on the court playing, I'd be cheering for him, too."

Agassi, 34, the oldest player to reach the semis here since Jimmy Connors did it in 1988, knows he and the conditions must be near perfect for him to end Federer's 20-match winning streak.

"I would prefer to be in extreme conditions, 142 degrees and crazy humidity," Agassi joked. "The two things he obviously does better than arguably anybody in the world is his movement and his forehand. So you have to know when to take your chance and not hesitate.

"Except with him, it's what you consider your [only] chance."

Although Henman, 30, Great Britain's perennial hope for a Wimbledon title, is the only top-10 player to have a winning record against Federer (6-4), he knew his only chance would be to attack the net in an effort to rush Federer into errant passing shots.

But Federer, who never seems rushed, passed Henman at will while facing, and saving, just one break point all match.

"He makes it look easy when it's not," said Henman, whose 2004 year-ending rank of six was a career best, but is just 1-13 against No. 1-ranked players.

"He's doing -- you can't necessarily say it's the basics -- but every facet of his game is such a high quality."

In addition to swatting 14 groundstroke winners to Henman's three, Federer also outplayed the stylish volleyer at net where he converted 18 of 21 forays to Henman's 20 of 37.

The other semifinal pits amigos from Spain as unheralded and unseeded David Ferrer takes on 29th-seeded Rafael Nadal, who, at 18, is the youngest player to reach the semis here, and is coming off two consecutive clay-court titles.

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Henman remains positive

Tim Henman was upbeat despite his straight-sets defeat by world number one Roger Federer in the quarter-finals of the Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami.

The British number one found the Swiss ace too hot to handle despite a positive start and went down 6-4 6-2.

"I feel somewhat disappointed with the way I played," Henman said. "But I think in the context of the way I played the last couple of weeks, it's been positive.

"I needed to get involved in these types of tournaments. I now need to keep building from there.

"I think you're only allowed to play to a certain level because of the standard that he's playing so consistently.

"There were parts where I felt pretty comfortable, but it only takes your level to drop for a point or two points and that can be a break of serve, and he just keeps rolling from there."

Top seed Federer now meets ninth seed Andre Agassi in the last four.

Agassi, who has won this tournament six times, cruised past fellow American Taylor Dent 7-5 6-0.

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Henman relishing return to clay
Tim Henman has shifted his attention to the imminent European clay-court season after losing to Roger Federer at the Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami on Thursday.

Henman says with "lower expectations" on clay he can find the form that took him to last year's French Open semis.

"I'm positive and optimistic, almost to the stage of excited about the clay after the way that I played on the dirt last year," Henman told his website.

The Briton returns to action in the week beginning 11 April in Monte Carlo.

Following his best-ever season in 2004, Henman remains under pressure to defend the ranking points won last year.

But four successive quarter-finals in Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami have secured his top-10 place for the moment.

His next target is to at least match last year's run to the last eight in Monte Carlo.

"One of the big things that's always paid off for me is my expectations are probably a little bit lower on the clay," he said.

"That's something that I will remember.

"I won't try and suddenly expect to be playing great tennis and having fantastic results off the bat. I'll need to keep working at my game.

"And I'll really enjoy that challenge because I've always enjoyed the clay and that helps when you've had better results.

"But I will definitely approach it in the same frame of mind."

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Photos from today:

Agassi vs Dent
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Federer vs Henman
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tangerine_dream
04-01-2005, 09:15 PM
Roger, Roger everywhere :banana:

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WHY IS THIS MAN NOT A HOUSEHOLD NAME?
Roger Federer Soars Under the Radar

A few Sundays ago in Dubai, Roger Federer defeated Ivan Ljubicic to win the Dubai open for the third year in a row. It was his 15th consecutive win, and 41st in his last 42 matches. He's also won four of the last eight grand slams -- in a sport where two grand slams over the course of a career pretty much guarantees hall of fame status. His peers, men and women, have repeatedly said they prefer to watch him play more than any other. Tennis legends such as John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, and Boris Becker have said he could very well be the greatest player of all time.

Roger Federer is playing a brand of tennis that's never been played before, combining classic grace with modern power. He moves so fluidly that he never appears out of place and he finds angles on the court that would perplex geometry professors. His game has no glaring weakness. In case I'm not being clear, he is a supreme talent taking the practice of his sport to a new level --but how many of you could pick him out of a lineup?

The incongruity between Roger Federer's success and his popularity is not altogether shocking. The most famous tennis players in the world are undoubtedly Serena and Venus Williams and Andre Agassi. All three have tennis resumes that are beyond reproach. But that's only part of the story. Agassi and the Williams sisters have proven to be masters at placing themselves in the public arena outside of a purely athletic context. Agassi has long been a success as a corporate pitchman, particularly for his Canon "Image is Everything" campaign. The Williams sisters have proven to be even more adept at venturing into the realm of celebrity. They exist in that strange realm where people are famous simply for being famous. My sports-phobic mother knows who the Williams are, but has never seen one stroke of one match either of them has played. This comes as no surprise. Venus appears in the most recent edition of Sports Illustrated Magazine's swimsuit edition. Serena is well-known for the skin tight catsuits she wears during matches while other players stick to the tried and true tennis top and athletic skirt. I consider myself a faithful tennis fan, and I don't know of one non-tennis product or event that Federer has been associated with. Even Pete Sampras, winner of more grand slams than any other man but long derided for his lack of flair, has been a long-time endorser of Movado watches.

The notion that style wins out over substance is not new, nor does the validity of that proposition need to be debated. But has the popularity pendulum swung so far in the direction of style that a once in a lifetime athlete can toil away in relative obscurity? It's not as if the sport of tennis is incomprehensible to the average American the way that, say, cricket or rugby is. Every city is home to public tennis courts, and the popularity of players like John McEnroe, the Williams sisters, and Agassi speaks to the fact that tennis enjoys a noteworthy level of public attention. Even Andy Roddick, the top-ranked American (who Federer has beaten eight of the nine times they've played) has hosted Saturday Night Live. For comparison's sake, Federer's highest profile talk show gig has been on Charlie Rose.

If it's not the obscurity of tennis that's to blame for Federer's lack of recognition, then, is it the man himself? After all, the public success of the more well-known tennis players is inextricably linked with their ability to market themselves as personalities -- McEnroe is the hair-trigger wild man, the Williams sisters are glamour girls, etc. What does Federer bring to the table? Relatively undemonstrative on the court, Federer has shown no flair for drama off the court either. The most compelling quote I could find attributed to him was his remembrance of his grandmother telling him, "it's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." Not exactly the stuff of which media phenomena are made.

Perhaps the most obvious difference between Federer and the more spot-lit tennis stars is his foreignness. Federer is Swiss and the others are American. I'm sure it's better than Roddick or Agassi's French and German, but Federer speaks a measured, accented English -- it's obvious to anyone listening that he's not from around here. It would be sad to think that cultural otherness could preclude an otherworldly athlete from gaining popularity, but that seems to be the case.

It was not always so. Past Grand Slam champions Boris Becker (a German) and Bjorn Borg (a Swede) had more sex appeal and status than Federer enjoys -- even if it's unlikely that either could top Federer's game if they all played in the primes of their respective careers. Without judging whether or not the aforementioned two are significantly more attractive than Federer (I think they're all nice-looking dudes), there must be something else. It's not the personalities; while Becker was a passionate and fiery competitor, Borg was renowned for his utter stoicism on the court, something that drove his archenemy McEnroe crazy. Federer is cool as a cucumber, but Borg was an emotional snowman.

The difference again has to do with a selling point. Becker had a supreme self-confidence on and off the court, and also had the added cache of being the youngest man ever to win Wimbledon. He exploded on to the scene, a 17-year-old wunderkind, diving all over the court and smashing serves befitting his nickname of Boom-Boom. Then he came back the next year and won again.

Borg benefited from his rivalry with McEnroe -- a classic contest of polar opposites. Borg, long blond hair held in place by his ever-present headband, was content to stay in the backcourt and laser his groundstrokes across the net. He was the stylish and aloof counterpart to the brash New Yorker McEnroe, who fearlessly rushed to the net time and time again to put balls away or watch them whiz by in about equal number. They split the 14 matches they played against each other.

Becker and Borg captured particular saleable essences that Federer does not. Borg epitomized a certain European elegance and élan that was heightened when contrasted with McEnroe's scruffy explosiveness. Becker, riding the wave of adulation unique to prodigies, won early and often, and then played out the rest of his career in the role of living legend, which -- in the ridiculously accelerated career of tennis players -- meant his greatest victories were already behind him by the age of 24.

Unlike Borg, Federer has no great rival he can team with to capture the public's attention -- he beats everyone. Unlike Becker, a player for whom the term 'swashbuckling' was surely written, Federer's game does not appear overwhelming to the casual fan. He plays with such fluid ease that he never seems to exert himself. His shots are so consistently brilliant as to be monotonous. He doesn't explode at you, he just does everything better than everyone else. Lacking both personal magnetism and a foil to combat his cultural disadvantage, Federer seems destined to remain the idol of aficionados.

And this disadvantage shouldn't be understated. The failure of the Canadian and European dominated National Hockey League to find popularity outside of regional strongholds is evidence that the American public has trouble embracing heroes that aren't homegrown. Where is the counterexample? Yao Ming? Ignoring the fact that basketball has a built-in popularity advantage, Ming's popularity surely has something to do with his novelty. A gigantic Chinese man playing basketball is something we've never seen before. The concept of Yao is exciting. A non-descript white dude playing tennis? We've all seen that one before.

There does seem to be one way that foreign athletes can overcome the obstacle of their strangeness, though. That way is sex. Yes, Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova are Russians; but they are also beautiful blond women. The foreign heritage stumbling block can be easily avoided by the running, groaning, and sweating of beautiful young women. Let that not diminish the skill necessary to succeed at women's tennis -- a woman champion has just as much skill and trains just as hard as her male counterparts, but it would be naïve to say the looks of the players doesn't matter.

Who is responsible for sex appeal usurping skill in the marketing of talent? At a glance, everyone. Checking the Women's Tennis Association website to research this article, the second-featured story was titled, "Daniela Sizzles in Italian Vogue." And it's not just the women's tour that does this. It was only recently that the ATP abandoned its "New Balls, Please" marketing campaign. Seriously, the next generation of stars was promoted as "new balls." Excuse me for being squeamish.

It's hard to fault the players themselves. Who can blame someone for succumbing to the lure of endorsement money and the seduction of magazine covers? A player with the ability to capture the public's attention is going make a lot of people rich. Someone like Roddick, who shows up in teen magazines and has a witty, media friendly personality, plays the marketing game well. He shows up in ads and on talk shows, which gets him recognition, then the media feels compelled to focus on him because he's a known commodity -- he sells.

It's a cycle Federer is shut out of. In essence, Federer is an athlete of an order American sports fans have never been able to fully embrace. He's humble to a fault, wary of drawing attention to himself, and a Swiss polyglot. His relative strangeness is exacerbated by his seeming eagerness to be self-sufficient. At a time when most high-profile professional athletes have a battalion of trainers, coaches, advisors, agents, paid "friends," and the corporate star-making machine to lean on, Federer goes at it with a bare minimum. He has been without a coach for long stretches at a time and his girlfriend doubles as his publicist. His game does most of the talking.

Yet, to argue that Federer should be catapulted to the top of the sports celebrity heap is futile. His stature represents all that is good and all that is bad about modern sports. The good is that he is the number one ranked player in the world who has amassed millions of dollars in winnings. If you like athletic genius, you will like Roger Federer. The bad is that because he does not fit the mold of a media darling, his recognition will remain strikingly disproportionate to his achievements.

Instead, I propose a different strategy to give him his due. I say that anyone who is interested in the purity and excellence of sport, anyone who is interested in athletic brilliance, in strength of body and mind, in sport for sport's sake, should keep Federer as your special secret, your password to a largely forgotten world -- a world where the game and the people who play it is all that matters.

Let's make Federer's success something to stealthily toss around at the bar or on message boards. Put his name in play and see what happens. If you think you may have found a sympathetic partner, try tossing in a couple of spinners. Test their groundstrokes. Maybe you'll have found someone who sees the beauty and brilliance of Federer's game and what he stands for. Maybe you'll have found someone who cares more about what happens on the court than off of it. And tell them to pass the secret on. If we can't serve an ace, let's win the battle one stroke at a time.

Clara Bow
04-01-2005, 10:30 PM
That’s a pretty good article but it paints Federer like a real dullard off of the court which I think is unfair. Pmac was just saying yesterday that Federer is widely known to have a very warm and friendly personality off court. I also think that Federer has a nice dry, witty sense of humor. Sometimes the media seems to think that there is only one type of wit that can be had.

tangerine_dream
04-03-2005, 07:17 AM
Semi-Finals (completed)

Roger Federer (1) def. Andre Agassi (9), 6-4, 6-3
Rafael Nadal (29) def. David Ferrer, 6-4, 6-3

SUNDAY'S FINAL MATCH

Roger Federer (1) vs. Rafael Nadal (29)

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Semi-Final Review and Final Preview

World No. 1 Roger Federer won his 21st consecutive match and charged into his second NASDAQ-100 Open final with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over six-time champion Andre Agassi on Friday night. Federer saved five break points in the match and improved to 31-1 on the year. Federer broke Agassi in the 10th game of the opening set and in the eighth game of the second set to earn his seventh consecutive win over the American.

In the afternoon semifinal, 18-year-old Spaniard Rafael Nadal advanced to his first career ATP Masters Series final with an identical 6-4, 6-3 victory over unseeded countryman David Ferrer. Nadal also improved to 4th in the INDESIT ATP 2005 Race by reaching the final.

WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID:

Federer: “I played great from the baseline and had great focus in the match. It was a tough match tonight. I am looking forward to that match (against Nadal) and it’s going to be a totally different match.

(on playing Nadal): “Last year I struggled in my first match against Davydenko and I felt all right and he played a terrific match and I never really got into the match and never had a break point. It was tough to hit winners against him and hopefully Sunday will be different for me. He hits a lot of spin on his forehand and it’s tough to control.”

Nadal: (on his 15-match winning streak) “Yeah, I played very good in South America. I won the last two tournaments which is important for my confidence. I began the tournament, the first matches, a little bit nervous against Schuettler. The second match was not easy against Verdasco. He was playing very good the first match against Roddick. I only try to play my best tennis and fight every match. I am very happy with my tennis because I improve every day. I think today was not my best match, but against Ljubicic and Johansson, especially, I played very, very good match.”

(on possibly playing Federer again): “No, I think he didn't play a good match last year, not because he was the No. 1 and he is the No. 1. And if he played very good, and I played very good, he won (smiling).”

Ferrer: (on Nadal’s chances in the final) “Yes, yes. Nadal definitely has it in him. He's very self-confident. Last year he beat Federer here. He definitely could do it.”

Agassi: “My first serve let me down in the second set, and couldn't buy one there for a while. Just giving him way too many, way too many -- I needed some free points on my first serve today, and didn't quite get that in the second a great player he is?

(on the five break points): “Three of them he hit unreturnable serves. One of them I had a look at a backhand up the line that I took, would have beat him by like eight feet, but I just hit it long.”

FINAL PREVIEW
Top-seed and top-ranked Roger Federer of Switzerland takes on No. 29 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain at noon Sunday in the best-of-five sets final. Federer is trying to become the first top seed to win here since Pete Sampras (d. Agassi) in 1994.

This is the second career meeting between the two and last year Nadal defeated Federer 6-3, 6-3 here in the third round.

The winner of the championship earns $533,350 and 100 INDESIT ATP 2005 Race points while the finalist collects $266,675 and 70 Race points.

Federer, who reached the final here in 2002 (l. to Agassi), brings in a 21-match winning streak and an unbeaten streak in his last 17 finals (going back to October 2003). The Swiss No. 1 is 31-1 on the season – the best start since John McEnroe went 39-0 in 1984.

Federer is looking for his fourth consecutive ATP title (fifth this year) and his eighth title in the past nine tournaments going back to last year’s US Open. He is 47-1 since the beginning of the US Open, losing only to Marat Safin in this year’s Australian Open semifinals (9-7 in the fifth after holding one match point).

Nadal, at 18 years, 10 months, is the youngest finalist in the tournament’s 21-year history. The youngest champion here was Agassi (19 years, 10 months, 27 days) in 1990. The lefthander is the third Spaniard to reach the NASDAQ-100 Open final – Carlos Moya in 2003 (l. to Agassi) and Sergi Bruguera in 1997 (l. to Muster).

Nadal enters his first career ATP Masters Series final on a 15-match winning streak and he is trying to win his first ATP hard court title. He is attempting to become the third left-hander to win the title here -- Marcelo Rios (1998), Thomas Muster (1997).

Federer is looking to become the sixth player to win consecutive ATP Masters Series titles in Indian Wells and Miami. Last year he won consecutive Masters Series titles in Hamburg in May and Toronto in August.

Federer is chasing his fourth ATP Masters Series title in his past five outings at this level, and his fifth title from the past eight ATP Masters Series tournaments he has competed in, dating back to his victory in Indian Wells in 2004.

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Federer will face Nadal in final
No. 1 seed tops Agassi 6-4, 6-3

By Charles Elmore
April 02, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE — Five break points in one game dangled in front of Andre Agassi like a ring of keys.

None would open the lock No. 1 Roger Federer has placed on men's tennis.

A record Nasdaq-100 Open crowd of 12,772 chanted "Andre, Andre," but the seventh game of the second set of Federer's 6-4, 6-3 semifinal victory Friday night told the story. During the longest game of the night, 18 points, Agassi had five chances to break Federer's serve at 3-3 and lead the match for the first time.

Federer turned back the charge with the aid of two aces, two backhand gambles that Agassi missed and a smash to Agassi's forehand that he could not return.

"On three of them he hit unreturnable serves," Agassi said. "He's playing levels above everybody else. He's 46-1 since the U.S. Open. It's crazy."

Make that 47-1 since the Open. On Sunday, Federer bids to become the first No. 1 seed to win the Nasdaq since Pete Sampras in 1994. Federer meets 18-year-old Rafael Nadal of Spain, the No. 29 seed. Nadal beat Federer in their only meeting, last year's 6-3, 6-3 upset in the third round at the Nasdaq.

Federer refused to second-guess Agassi for going all-out for a backhand winner when Federer served at 0-40 and 3-3 in the second set. Agassi sent it deep by inches. Federer did say he wanted to make Agassi pay for it.

"No, it was the right shot to play," Federer said. "He missed it by just a little bit. ... After he missed that, I hoped I would get a couple of good serves and get back in the game, and it would haunt him to have gone for so much."

Federer did just that. He saved his biggest serves for Agassi's challenges, striking three of his eight aces on the night in that set.

"He has so much to fall back on," Agassi said. "If he doesn't like the way he's hitting his backhand, he serve-volleys. If he doesn't like the way he's hitting his slice, he doesn't hit a slice. If he doesn't like topspin, he doesn't hit topspin. That's good options."

On Friday, Nadal became the youngest player to reach a Nasdaq final, at 18 years, 10 months. Agassi won the tournament won at 19 years, 10 months and 27 days in 1990.

Nadal, who comes from Spain's tradition of clay-court baseliners, beat countryman David Ferrer 6-4, 6-3 in Friday afternoon's quarterfinal without a single ace or service winner. A typical service game featured an 115 mph first serve or a second spin serve that probably would not get him a ticket on the Florida Turnpike, as slow as 78 or 80 mph. His average for the match was 109 mph.

From the baseline, however, Nadal has learned how to create dangerous angles on any surface. Particularly potent: an inside-out forehand, hit from the center of the court to an opponent's forehand. The topspin is so strong, it bites inside the opponent's service box and ducks into the photographer's dugout before the opponent has taken a step off the baseline.

Nadal made the most of seven forehand winners and six on the backhand. Ferrer, who has never reached a final on hardcourts, helped him by making 41 unforced errors against just 14 winners.

It was not his best match, Nadal said, but overall, "I am very happy with my tennis because I am improving every day."

The all-Spanish semifinal marked the rise of hardcourt competence in a country better known for slugging it out on clay.

"Clay is what we play better tennis on, but with time, we're getting better and better on hardcourts," Ferrer said.

Federer will try to keep alive an astounding unbeaten streak in 17 straight tournament finals.

"Once more, I hope to play a great final," Federer said. "But I know I've got a tough opponent waiting for me. He's got a great future."


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Andre Agassi waves goodbye to the crowd of 12,772, which was a record for the event.

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Roger Federer needed all of his 6-foot-1 frame to reach this shot during his semifinal victory against Andre Agassi. Federer's record is 47-1 since last year's U.S. Open.

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Rafael Nadal returns a back hand during his 6-4, 6-3 win over David Ferrer in a NASDAQ-100 men's semifinal match on Friday. Nadal will meet top-seeded Roger Federer in Sunday's final.

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Andre Agassi lost to Roger Federer, but that didn't stop the crowd from chanting, 'Andre, Andre, Andre!'

COMMENTARY
Longevity an asset to game
Agassi most important player in tennis

By Greg Stoda
April 02, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE — Here's to his strut.

Here's to his waddle.

Here's to the odd, quick gait — strut and waddle somehow morphing into whatever it is (struddle?) — that has taken and keeps taking Andre Agassi, thank the tennis gods, onto the sport's most dangerous courts and into its most dangerous competitions.

He was there again Friday night in a Nasdaq-100 Open semifinal against yet another world's No. 1-ranked player in Roger Federer, and Agassi's 6-4, 6-3 loss was entertaining theater played out at a high performance level.

But the defeat mattered less, truly, than Agassi's mere presence in the place.

Not to him, of course.

But to the game, certainly.

Agassi, who has spent time on the top of the heap himself, has been tangling with the best of the best since the best days of Ivan Lendl and Mats Wilander.

"I can't be objective about myself," Agassi said when asked for retrospective comment on his career. "For me, every day is a challenge. It really is. I've been asked for years about how I'm playing now versus before. I don't know. I know I have no excuses. You can assess it from there."

Agassi will be 35 years old later this month, which is nothing short of a remarkable age given the individual and rigorous endeavor his profession demands. Agassi continuing to do what he does as well as he does — he's ranked No. 10 — is every bit as amazing as what 39-year-old Reggie Miller (ask the Heat) still does in the NBA.

Even now, Agassi might be the most popular player in the game to both serious and casual fan. If there is debate on that matter, what isn't open for discussion is the fact he's absolutely tennis' most recognizable player.

He has taken us from all that hair and a marriage to Brooke Shields to bald stubble and a marriage to Steffi Graf complete with fatherhood.

The image-is-everything commercial icon long ago proved his substantive worth ... both within and outside the sport.

Agassi is what so few athletes are these days. He's important.

There's more to Agassi than Las Vegas showman, and the proof has come at home in his native city. He founded the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation more than a decade ago, and the organization has raised many millions of dollars in assistance for at-risk Las Vegas children.

No argument, of course, that such work is of greater significance than any championship Agassi has won, including the six on this South Florida island. But to ignore a study of Agassi the tennis superstar would be to ignore that which he parlayed into fame and influence in the first place.

So, let's not.

He is in select company as winner of his sport's lifetime Grand Slam with titles from the Australian Open (four) to the French Open (one) to Wimbledon (one) to the U.S. Open (two). Those, quite obviously, are the greatest glories inside the lines. But the connective thread of the Agassi testament is his constancy.

And so there was deep gratification for most of the gathering watching Agassi labor and yearning for his success in this match. The crowd of 12,772 pushed and pleaded with rhythmic applause and chants: "Andre, Andre, Andre!"

Hardly is it an uncommon reaction at this stage of his career.

"I love them," Agassi said. "It's been an incredible 19 years. They've seen me through a lot."

He spoke of "ups and downs" and "peaks and valleys." Not always has he been as revered as he is now. In fact, Agassi was at times disdained as unnecessarily rebellious and dismissed as ridiculously frivolous.

But his maturity changed and nurtured the relationship, and Agassi's reaction to it has been a genuine appreciation.

He simply wasn't good enough against Federer, but few contestants are right now. The 23-year-old Swiss great is, after all, 31-1 this year and current holder of every major crown save the French Open.

"There are a number of departments of his game that are better than anybody's," Agassi explained. "There's no relief."

It was the kind of involvement, Agassi knew, during which he would have to go "living on the edge."

That's what's required of him in current circumstance against the likes of a Federer.

Here's hoping he keeps struddling into the harshest frays a while longer.

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Federer aims to avenge '04 loss
By Charles Bricker
April 3, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE · Roger Federer has the dice. Now, can he roll a seven today against Rafael Nadal in the final of the Nasdaq-100 Open (noon, Chs. 4, 12) in his seventh try at winning this tournament?

What could be more appropriate than playing the Spanish newcomer who put him out of here in the third round a year ago?

"What can I say," Federer mused as he tried to explain why he failed at the 2004 Nasdaq. "I was already struggling extremely hard in the second round against [Nikolay] Davydenko. It was the sunstroke I had from Indian Wells.

"I came through, and I think we should have played at night, and it got postponed because of the rain. I came back the following night, which gave me an extra day's rest, so I was happy about that. But maybe now my legs weren't moving as they usually do."

Nadal was 17 then and more of a prospect that the dangerous player he has become today. There are those who would rank him the best player on the ATP Tour for the two-month clay-court season that starts Monday.

"He played a terrific match," Federer said of the tall, left-handed Spaniard. "I think I never had a break point. I really had the feeling it was tough for me to hit winners against because he moves so well."

"I hope Sunday it's going to be different for me because I've got the matches under my belt now, and I really like this stadium court. I don't mind slow hard courts. I give myself a much better chance than last year."

If momentum means anything, both players will have it. Federer has won 21 in a row, Nadal 17, though you would have to say Federer has significantly more momentum after rocketing past serve-and-volley Tim Henman in the quarters and the best returner in tennis, Agassi, in the semis.

Meanwhile, Nadal had something of an emotional match against countryman David Ferrer in the semis, but he certainly must feel the pressure of playing a Masters Series final against the best player in the world.

"Last year I play one of my best matches. I play unbelievable, and I really hope I play the same this year," he said. But he acknowledged there is an element of intimidation now with playing the Swiss great.

"I think I have a little bit chance," he said.

His best weapon is his feet, though there is no debate about his variety of strokes. He lacks the impact of Federer's serve and is not quite as aggressive from the baseline.

But if he falls into a groove where he is retrieving all of Federer's best stuff and frustrates Federer, that's his edge.

The match will be best of 5 sets. It's Federer's second final here, having been beaten in four sets by Agassi in 2002.

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Tennis torch has been passed
Apr. 02, 2005

Andre Agassi losing to Roger Federer was about yesterday yielding to today.

This NASDAQ-100 semifinal was about a man at the top of his game going to no great extremes to beat a man past his prime.

There's nothing wrong with that. Federer and Agassi put on a fine show for the Stadium Court crowd Friday night.

But because the game now lacks a consistent antagonist for the ATP's best player, it also offers only rare classic drama.

We don't get Sampras against Agassi or Borg vs. McEnroe.

We get the hope of an upset and the reality that one isn't about to unfold.

''Most players count on one thing that's special and makes them hard to deal with,'' a realistic Agassi said after his 6-4, 6-3 loss. ``[Federer] has a few things. The guy moves incredibly well, and his forehand is dangerous from anywhere on the court. When you think you're in good position, you're not.

''You have to execute perfectly, and that's a sign of someone playing a level above.'' How much higher is Federer soaring than his competition?

Agassi is still a fine player in this third incarnation of a career that simply does not die. But he now has lost seven consecutive times to Federer, the most consecutive losses Agassi has ever suffered against anyone.

NO ANSWERS

Even on Agassi's unofficial home court, where he has won six titles and fans continually shouted, ''Andre, Andre,'' the tide of the match never threatened to drown out Federer's superiority.

Agassi made good shots. Federer made great shots.

Agassi had five break points against Federer with the second set tied at 3-3. Federer responded by forcing six deuces before winning the game and then closing out the set and match.

''On three of [the break points],'' Agassi lamented, “he hit unreturnable serves.''

The Stadium Court crowd was clearly disappointed by that truth. But they were as helpless to change the outcome as Agassi.

''It really doesn't affect you,'' Federer said of not winning over the crowd as he was winning the match. “You just feel like they're so much behind Agassi, behind their man. Every close call [draws] a comment from them, and they're not happy if it goes against him.

“And the tougher the situation is for you, the more they get into it. It makes it tough.''

So tough, the match took 85 minutes.

Federer now turns his championship sights on Rafael Nadal, which is something akin to a shark focusing in on a guppy.

Nadal is 18, which means he is the youngest man to reach the final on Crandon Park. It also means he was still in diapers when Agassi won his first professional title in 1987.

So what chance does this baby have vs. Federer when the veteran Agassi wilted?

Well, none.

Not now.

You see, just as Agassi has a great history, Nadal has potential for a great future.

ROGER THAT

But Federer remains the man of the hour. Now belongs to him while the other two must look to other times.

Nadal actually won a match against Federer last year, but blind squirrels occasionally find nuts, too.

''He was a different player then,'' Nadal said. ``He's playing much better now.''

And that's why Nadal speaks about his upcoming match against Federer, in part, like someone who sets low personal standards, then fails to achieve them.

''I hope he doesn't play one of his best matches, and if I play very, very well, I think I have a little bit of a chance,'' Nadal said. “If he plays very good and I play very good, see ya.''

Nadal said he planned to hit a few balls today, relax around his hotel and get a good meal before Sunday's five-set final.

The way Roger Federer is playing, that meal tonight will be something of a last supper.

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Nadal leads youth movement at NASDAQ
Rafael Nadal became the youngest player to reach the men's final of the NASDAQ-100 Open with a 6-4, 6-3 victory vs. fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.
BY MICHELLE KAUFMAN
April 2, 2005

He burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old in Mallorca three years ago, and word of Rafael ''Rafa'' Nadal traveled fast. This kid's the real deal, the experts said. He's intense, he's ripped and he's got good genes -- his uncle, Miguel, is a professional soccer player in the Spanish league.

Last year, jaws dropped in Key Biscayne as the 17-year-old lefty upset Roger Federer in the third round of the NASDAQ-100 Open. Nadal could have another shot at the top-ranked Swissman on Sunday after advancing to the NASDAQ final with a 6-4, 6-3 victory against countryman and good friend David Ferrer on Friday.

He will play the winner of Friday night's marquee match between Federer and six-time champion Andre Agassi. At 18 years, 10 months, Nadal becomes the youngest finalist in the event's 21-year-history, replacing Agassi (19 years, 10 months in 1990 ) in the record book.

''If it is Federer, and he does not play very, very well, and I play one of my best matches, I think I have a little bit chance,'' the teenager said, smiling. “If he plays very good, and I play very good, he wins. Last year, I played one of my best matches in my career against him, unbelievable. I really hope I play the same match this year.''

EASY WIN

Nadal won his semifinal with relative ease in one hour 31 minutes, and delighted the audience with his blistering forehand and his style. Nadal wears a sleeveless orange shirt and white calf-length ''pirata'' pants, and a bandanna holds his long locks in place. He wasn't quite as demonstrative as usual, he said, because he never is against his pals from Spain. Plus, he wasn't playing his best tennis. But it was good enough.

The Spaniard is riding a 15-match win streak and going for his third consecutive title after back-to-back clay titles at Costa do Sauipe, Brazil, and Acapulco. He has never won a title on hard courts, but few are counting him out.

''After the second round, I predicted that kid would make the final, that's how good I think he is,'' said TV analyst and U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe, who witnessed first-hand Nadal's Davis Cup heroics against Team USA in December. “He's the real deal. He's a big-match guy. You can see him improve before your eyes. He is so intense, and so strong physically for his age.

“He's going to be top 10 by the end of the year, for sure, and maybe top five. It would not surprise me at all if he wins the French Open.''

ONE TO WATCH

Veteran Swedish player Jonas Bjorkman says every young player around the world should watch Nadal.

''He has a fighting spirit you don't see so often in kids his age,'' Bjorkman said. 'He is fist-pumping after the first point, and is ready to grind every match. I would like all the kids back home to watch him, and I would tell them, ‘This is how to get to the top.' ''

For now, Nadal said he is not thinking past Sunday.

His plan Friday night was to get a massage, go out to dinner -- perhaps at Porcao in downtown Miami, his favorite local spot -- and rest.

''I am just enjoying the moment, enjoying that I am in a final of a Masters Series event,'' he said. “I didn't play my best tennis against David, but it was good enough to win, and now I will have to play three times more aggressive in the final. . . . I look forward to the challenge.''

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Big-hitter Nadal aims for an upset
The Spanish teenager has beaten Roger Federer, but the world No 1 is in the form of his life ahead of today’s Nasdaq-100 Open final. By Barry Flatman
The Sunday Times
April 3, 2005

Like anybody raised in Nevada, Andre Agassi appreciates how important it is to remember the numbers and respect the odds. Begrudgingly accepting the fact that four weeks short of his 35th birthday, his best is no longer good enough to overcome Roger Federer, he speculated on whether 18-year-old Rafael Nadal could fare any better.

“You know I’m from Vegas, so I don’t mind taking some chances,” said the man who knows more about winning on the cement of Miami’s Key Biscayne than any other player in the history of this tournament, the world’s most prestigious after the four Grand Slams.

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say the person who is 48-1 over the past seven months has got to be the favourite.”

How could anyone possibly take issue with him? It does not matter that Nadal got the better of Federer a year ago in the third round of the 2004 Nasdaq-100 Open. On a blustery evening the Swiss player was suffering the after-effects of sunstroke, caused by taking too long to overcome Tim Henman in the preceding Indian Wells final.

Nadal has also gone 16 matches without defeat, titles in the Brazilian outpost of Costa Do Sauipe and Acapulco priming the Majorcan for this campaign, in which he has become the youngest-ever contestant in a Masters Series final, but Federer has gone 21 matches since losing to Marat Safin at the Australian Open. Before that, his winning streak stretched back a further 27 contests, through the Masters Cup and US Open to a surprising defeat at the Olympic Games.

And although Nadal, so heroic in the service of Spain in last year’s Davis Cup final, when he scored the crucial first-day victory over Andy Roddick, is a talent gifted with strength and guile, as well as possessing the advantage of being left-handed, Federer is probably better than any player before him at restyling his game to suit the opponent or situation.

Last summer’s Wimbledon final against Roddick was a masterpiece, but Federer used a different strategy in Miami to beat Agassi in straight sets than he’d employed against Henman a day earlier. Nadal’s ability to hit with huge top-spin and to whip the most ferocious backhand across the court from positions more than 10ft behind the baseline may pose an altogether contrasting threat, but nobody expects Federer to be unhinged by such ability.

“There’s a number of departments of Roger’s game that are arguably better than anybody,” said Agassi, who in 19 years of contesting the men’s tour can cast his mind back to confrontations with Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and, of course, Pete Sampras. “That’s an incredible thing to say when you realise most players count on one thing to be special. He has a few.

“The guy moves incredibly well. His forehand is dangerous from anywhere on the court, and when you think you are in a good position, you’re not. He changes the whole perspective of the dynamics out there because when you think you see daylight or have a hole, you just can’t be tempted. And you know that’s a sign of playing somebody a level above.”

Federer has never won the Key Biscayne title. The closest he has come was three years ago, when Agassi needed four sets to beat him in the final. Going back to the mid-1990s, Agassi also contested a couple of finals with Sampras, and is quite prepared to compare the two opponents.

“Inside the lines playing Roger and Pete, the biggest difference was there were a lot of lapses with Pete,” says Agassi. “You could play a bad set and possibly get in a tie-breaker with him, but against Roger there’s no relief. In every department you have to be concentrating and ready to go, because he will take advantage of you on any part of the court.

“That’s not to say that Pete’s upside wasn’t just as spectacular. When he missed a first serve, I thought to myself, ‘God, just get this thing in play so that you have a chance’. I think Roger has a better return than Pete, while Pete’s volleys were better. Roger moves better and is stronger from the baseline, but Pete’s serve was probably better. Roger makes you do it from start to finish, while Pete made you do something incredibly special at a lot of given times.”

Nadal would no doubt have listened with attentiveness. He is rapidly learning about the nuances of the top echelon of the game, and if his progress continues at the same pace, he will undoubtedly be a contender for the game’s top prizes, most likely the French Open; quite possibly next year, if not this.

He out-hit his Spanish compatriot, David Ferrer, in the Miami semi-final in exactly the same manner as he did former Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson a round earlier.

However, tennis-watchers who genuinely expect Nadal to prevail in today’s best- of-five-sets final are hard to find. As Nadal said in his distinctly broken English: “I hope Federer don’t play one of his best matches. And if he don’t play well and and I have one of my best matches, I think I have a little bit chance. But if I play very good and he plays very good, he wins.”

Federer is not a man to dwell on defeats. He prefers to leave them behind and move on to the next potential achievement. He insisted that the loss to Nadal a year ago did not enter his thoughts until a few days ago.

Casting his mind back, he recalled struggling in his opening match against Russia’s Nicolay Davydenko and then having to wait an extra day to face Nadal because of rain. But still he admitted: “Maybe my legs weren’t moving as they usually do. Still, he played a terrific match. I never got into it and couldn’t make the necessary adjustments. Now I’ve got the matches under my belt and like the court, so I give myself a much better chance.”

The dominance of Federer is rapidly turning into one of the most memorable phases of men’s tennis.

With the chance of completing the elusive Grand Slam gone until next year, Federer intimated that he was joking when he said his goal for 2005 was to win all nine of the calendar’s Masters Series events. But was he really?

tangerine_dream
04-03-2005, 07:20 AM
.... cont'd.


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Nadal's more than a young pretender
By ALIX RAMSAY
The Scotsman
April 2, 2005

OH, FOR the confident exuberance of youth. When Roger Federer was just 18 years old he was already the Wimbledon junior champion, he had been the junior world No.1 and he was the youngest player, at 18 years and four months, to break into the top 100 in the world.

Now, almost six years on, he is the best player in the world by a country mile and if he does not win another match, he will still be No.1 until deep into the summer. By beating Andre Agassi 6-4, 6-3 on Friday night to reach the final of the Nasdaq-100 Open, he increased his record for the year to 31 wins and just the one loss. He came into the match on the back of a 20-match winning streak, the third time in ten months he had set off on such a sequence, and by beating the old-stager from Las Vegas, he extended his run to 47 wins from 48 matches since the start of the US Open. Federer is, by all accounts, unstoppable.
It is almost impossible to believe that less than two years ago Federer was regarded as an under-achiever, a blissfully talented loser. For all that he could hit any shot in the book - and a few that weren’t - it did not seem he had the backbone to win the matches that mattered. When it came to the grand slams, Federer had never got beyond a quarter-final.

Today Federer faces Rafael Nadal, the 18-year-old Spanish hope who became the darling of Seville in the Davis Cup final last December. It was Nadal who crushed the US on the opening day of that encounter, beating Andy Roddick in front of 27,000 over-excited Spaniards, and establishing himself as Spain’s great prospect.

But, like Federer, Nadal had already earned his spurs doing his national service. Before he had won his first title in Sopot last summer, he had already won the decisive point for Spain in their first Davis Cup tie of the year. Six months later, he did the same again in Spain’s semi-final against France, proving he had nerves of steel.

This year Nadal has won two titles and, by beating David Ferrer 6-4, 6-3 in the semi-finals here, he is on a 15-match winning streak. And he is one of the few men who has beaten Federer of late. It was Nadal who sent Federer packing in the third round here last year. This time around he knows it will be more difficult, but this time around he is more mature.

"I hope Federer doesn’t play one of his best matches. And if he doesn’t play very, very well, and I play one of my best matches, I think I have a little chance."

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Agassi’s losing streak against Federer is the longest against one opponent in his career.

Agassi picks nemesis Federer over Sampras
By Clive White
The Telegraph
April 3, 2005

Comparing a champion of one era to a champion of another is an invidious task at the best of times, unless the one doing the comparing has first-hand knowledge of both and is able to articulate that knowledge. That's why Andre Agassi's views on the merits of Pete Sampras and Roger Federer deserve respect.

The career of Grand Slam tennis's elder statesman has straddled that of both players, and when he left the stadium court here at Crandon Park on Friday night after losing to Federer in the semi-finals of the Nasdaq-100 Open he will have recognised the frustration that consumed him.

He had played as good a game of tennis as any man had a right to expect, never mind one with a body almost 35 years old - and it hadn't been enough.

Nowhere near enough. And it was invariably similar whenever he played Sampras.

The game is fast running out of credible challengers to the peerless Swiss, whose victory by 6-4, 6-3 took his record to 47 wins and one defeat since the start of the US Open last August.

On a good day and - this is the blue moon bit - in the right mood, Marat Safin might beat him again. Otherwise, Agassi, in a tournament he has won six times, with a court and conditions he

relishes and before a crowd who worship him, was reckoned to have as good a chance as any. But it was all immaterial once Federer had got into his elegant stride and Agassi, for the first time in a career spanning 1097 matches, duly suffered his seventh consecutive defeat to the same player.

Agassi's one and only chance of stopping the rot came in the seventh game of the second set when he had five break points, including a triple one, but Federer just dug a little deeper and extricated himself, as he has done throughout this tournament.

Britain's Tim Henman, whom Federer beat in the quarter-finals, could empathise with Agassi. The American may have played a more cagey game than Henman, but the result was the same.

And according to Agassi, the great Sampras might not have fared any better. After all, he lost to the emerging Federer in their only meeting at Wimbledon in 2001.

"The biggest distinction inside the lines that I feel playing Roger, versus playing Pete, is there were a lot of lapses with Pete," said Agassi. "You could play a bad set and possibly get into a breaker with him. With Roger, there's just no relief. In every department you have to be concentrating and ready to go because he'll take advantage of you on any part of the court.

"That's not to say that Pete's up-side wasn't just as spectacular because when Pete missed a first serve, I still thought to myself, 'God, just get this thing in play so you have a chance'. With Roger, he misses a first serve, I'm thinking, 'Okay, here we go'. I think Roger has a better return than Pete. I think Pete volleys better. I think Roger moves better, is better from the baseline. But Pete's serve was probably better … they pose different problems entirely, but Roger makes you do it from start to finish, and Pete made you do something incredibly special at a lot of given times."

The fact that Agassi had played his part in an outstanding match was no consolation. "I know nothing about the game," said Agassi, distancing himself from glory by association. "I only had him pegged to go to the semis - he's in the final now."

There, today, Federer will be confronted by a player at the opposite end of the spectrum from Agassi, but only in terms of age. It would be easy to dismiss the chances of the 18-year-old Rafael Nadal - the youngest player ever to reach the final here - if it were not for the fact that the clay-court specialist is on an impressive run of his own - 15 matches without defeat.

Nor has he any respect for reputations, as the world No 3 Andy Roddick would testify after losing to him in last year's Davis Cup final.

He has even beaten Federer here before; in straight sets in the third round last year, although the world No 1 may have been suffering from sunstroke at the time.

Agassi, asked by a Spanish journalist who his favourite for the final was, couldn't resist an ironic response.

"Let's see. You know I'm from Vegas so I don't mind taking some chances," he said "I'm going to go out on a limb and say the person who's 47-1 over the last six, seven months is the favourite."

Who he thought would win would probably have received a similar answer, but he would have been well advised to talk up the outsider's chances just a little. As Federer noted, the lefty will pose him a different set of problems with his "crazy" topspin forehands.

Nadal, who has never won a hard-court title, ran his fellow countryman David Ferrer ragged at times in his semi-final and his inside-out forehand is a lethal weapon.

Mentally as well as physically he is already stronger than many players in the top 20. As Agassi said: "Me at 18, looking at Nadal at 18, from the neck down you would think one person was 26 and the other was 12."

With his Andalucian looks, the young man from Mallorca will not want for support from Miami's large Hispanic community, which means Federer, as popular as he is, will again be up against the crowd. Not that it proved much of a handicap for him last time.

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In other Nasdaq-100 News:

DOUBLE TROUBLE

There were wonderful moments during the Andre Agassi vs. Roger Federer match Friday night, but the most thrilling match of the day was the marathon doubles semifinal between top-seeded Daniel Nestor and Mark Knowles and No. 3 seeds Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi.

A Bjorkman net-cord winner sealed the 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 upset after two hours and 47 minutes. Bjorkman, of Sweden, and Mirnyi, of Belarus, will play Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe today in the final.

''We've been looking for our first final this year, so we are happy and expect a very tough match,'' said Bjorkman. ``We lost to them in three sets in the semis at Indian Wells a few weeks ago, so hopefully we learned from that match and can have a different result this time.''

The combination of Mirnyi's serving and Bjorkman's work ethic is proving to be a good partnership. The two had played together sparingly in the past, but joined forces full time in January.

''We are both singles players, so doubles helps us so much because there is no practice session that would be like that three-hour match we just played,'' Mirnyi said.

JUNIOR WINNERS

Alisa Kleybanova of Russia and Marcus Fugate of the United States won the junior Luxilon Cup titles on Friday, earning spots in the 2006 NASDAQ-100 Open.

Kleybanova, 15, earned a wild card in the 2006 main draw with a 6-4, 6-2 victory against top-seeded Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada. Fugate, a 17-year-old New Yorker, earned a spot in next year's qualifying round with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-0 win against Philip Bester of Canada. Fugate and Bester room together at the Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton.

LUCKY DRAW

Karim Atash of Miami won a 2006 Mercedes-Benz ML350 sport utility vehicle in a grand-prize drawing Friday during the Mercedes-Benz ACE for a Cure event to benefit the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

''I called my wife tonight and told her I won a Mercedes and she thought I was joking,'' said Atash, who purchased five of the 1,500 tickets that sold for $100 each. ``Of course, it is April Fool's Day, so I guess she had reason to doubt me.''

As part of the activities, former Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti, one of the founders of the Miami Project, presented Mercedes-Benz with its exclusive ''Miami Project Spinal Award'' for the company's support. Friday's event raised more than $150,000 for the Miami Project.

RANKINGS CHANGE

NASDAQ No. 1 seed Amelie Mauresmo will only keep her world No. 2 ranking if Kim Clijsters defeats Maria Sharapova in today's women's final. Should the 17-year-old Russian claim the title, she will ascend to the No. 2 spot for the first time, replacing her Belgian opponent as the sixth-youngest woman to reach No. 2 (after Andrea Jaeger, Martina Hingis, Tracy Austin, Monica Seles and Steffi Graf).

Had Mauresmo reached the final and beaten Sharapova, the Frenchwoman would have returned to No. 1 for her second stint and sixth career week there.

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Photos from today:

http://www.buffalonews.com/graphics/2005/04/02/actualsize/0402federer.jpg
Roger Federer from Switzerland celebrates his win against Andre Agassi at the NASDAQ-100 in Florida.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/media/photo/2005-04/16958883.jpg
Back to you
Roger Federer returns a backhand to Andre Agassi during the men's semifinal match at the 2005 NASDAQ-100 Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne.

http://www.gotennis.com/Photos/2005-04-02T005411Z_01_KEY11D_RTRIDSP_2_SPORT-TENNIS.jpg
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/media/photo/2005-04/16958878.jpg
Nice effort
Andre Agassi backhands to Roger Federer in this men's semifinal match at the 2005 NASDAQ-100 Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/media/photo/2005-04/16957513.jpg
Advancing
Rafael Nadal of Spain, reacts to winning a point in the second and final set against countryman David Ferrer at the 2005 NASDAQ-100 Open

http://www.gotennis.com/Photos/2005-04-01T221041Z_01_KEY07D_RTRIDSP_2_SPORT-TENNIS.jpg
Spain's David Ferrer throw racquet during loss to compatriot Nadal at the NASDAQ-100 in Florida.

http://www.gotennis.com/Photos/2005-04-01T205500Z_01_KEY02D_RTRIDSP_2_SPORT-TENNIS.jpg
Spain's David Ferrer hits a forehand shot to compatriot Nadal at the NASDAQ-100 in Florida.

http://images.sportsline.com/u/gettyimages/photos/52513759ES022_NASDAQ_100_Op040217_lower.jpg
Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and his partner Max Mirnyi of Bulgaria smile after defeating Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe in the men's doubles final before the trophy ceremony at the NASDAQ-100 Open.

Chloe le Bopper
04-03-2005, 07:29 AM
Nadal actually won a match against Federer last year, but blind squirrels occasionally find nuts, too.

:haha:

Daniel
04-03-2005, 08:27 AM
thanks tangerine dream :)