Roger Federer’s looking laser-focused after he and Stan Warinka’s Davis Cup loss to Team USA, coming back last week to win his first ATP Title of the year in Rotterdam.
He faced a familiar opponent in the final, Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro. Since beating Federer twice in 2009 – in the U.S. Open Final and at the World Tour Finals – Juan Martin del Potro hasn’t come anywhere close to Roger’s game. Roger has defeated him in straight-sets in all three meetings since…in the Round of 32 at the 2011 Masters Event in Cincinnati, in the Quarterfinals this year at the Australian Open, and Sunday in Rotterdam (6-1, 6-4). Roger came out firing, del Potro came out missing, and it was (5-0) Federer in the first set before Juan Martin won a game. During the match, Roger saved all seven break points against him and broke del Potro three times.
For those shocked by Roger’s loss to John Isner at home, on clay, in the Swiss vs. US Davis Cup Tie earlier this month…here’s the quote from Roger after winning Rotterdam: “I have managed to restore my rhythm.” Enough said. (Team USA, by the way, will play away in France at the Davis Cup Quarterfinals April 6th through the 8th).
It was a rebound weekend, really – for those who faced tough Davis Cup losses the weekend prior…Canadian Milos Raonic, who won the only rubber for Canada during its Tie with France, came back to win the SAP Open in San Jose over the weekend. That’s his second consecutive title there. He defeated Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the final, with blistering serves.
Further south, Spain’s Nicolas Almagro won the Brazil Open for the third time in his career, defeating Italy’s Filippo Volandri (6-3, 4-6, 6-4). That’s Nicolas’s 11th ATP Title, all of which have come on clay.
This week, the guys play on the hard-court in Marseille (Tsonga, Fish, Tipsarevic, del Potro, Dolgopolov, Gasquet) and Memphis (Monfils, Roddick – lowest he’s been ranked since he was 18-years-old, Isner – #1 seed, Cilic, Raonic), with another clay-court event in Buenos Aires (Ferrer, Almagro, Simon, Wawrinka, Verdasco, Nalbandian, Nishikori).
Victoria Azarenka has yet to lose in 2012. Last weekend in Doha, after twisting her ankle during a semifinal win over Radwanska – she defeated Sam Stosur in the final (6-1, 6-2). The quote from Vika: “It’s amazing. I can’t believe I could play that kind of tennis today…I knew I wouldn’t be 100 percent, so I had to change and adjust. I was just surprised today that everything was going in.” Selfishly, I wish we would have had the opportunity to see that type of gutsy performance during the US vs. Belarus Fed Cup Tie in Worcester, Massachusetts three weeks ago, but she never played.
Now it’s a quick shot across the southern Persian Gulf to play in the Dubai Duty Free Championships, where she had her famous meltdown after losing in the first round last year. It was her grandmother who put Vika in her place after that match – reminding her that she’s had to work her entire life to make ends meet…all Victoria has to do is “play tennis.” The tough-love reality-check led to big wins in 2011; and now, after an Australian Open Championship – she’s the #1 player in the world.
This week, the ladies also play in Memphis (Mattek-Sands) and Monterrey (Coco Vandeweghe) – Serena Williams pulled out of the Monterrey Open last week, after reaggravating the ankle injury she suffered during the Australian Open, and played-through during her Fed Cup victories over Belarus.