Everybodys favourite runner up, the player of 2010 thus far, finally got his just desserts in Miami on Sunday. Andy A-ROD Roddick finally held aloft the winners trophy again. Having been so close to winning in Indian Wells, Roddick’s serve proved to be the decisive factor in the end as young Czech Thomas Berdych simply couldnt break him despite coming up with some fantastic lobs and passing shots. This is Roddicks first Masters title since 2006 and a testament to the work he is doing on the practice court with coach Larry Stefanki.
In the womens draw, Kim Clijsters clinched her 37th career title as she romped to victory against form player Venus Williams, winning 6-2 6-1. This was the Belgians second tour victory since her comeback last August, she proved she is the one to beat on the hardcourts by overpowering a hapless Venus, the score says it all. Both the ATP and WTA return to the dirt for the next 10weeks, with the Monte Carlo Masters and Rome Masters the next biggies!
 R Soderling (SWE) vs  T Berdych (CZE)
Both these men are in arguably the form of their lives. Both had a good tournament in Indian Wells last week and both have dispatched some big names; most notably, Berdych’s victory against Roger earlier this week. Soderling has a postive 4-2 (5-3)if you include challengers) record against Berdych, and was very impressive against Youzhny last night. Berdych hasn’t beaten Soderling since 2007 and 2005 on hard court. I don’t know whether it’s instinct, or that I want Berdych to win for the sake of my Bracket, that I was going to call this one too close to call. However, Berdych got rid of his Federer demons earlier this week, can he do the same against Soderling? Soderling will be hungry for a masters title, but so will Berdych, so I’m going to go against the paper and predict Berdych for the win.
 A Roddick (USA) vs  R Nadal (ESP)
This match carries all sorts of intrigue. Roddick will have the entirety of the home support, but Rafa will not want to let another fantastic opportunity to get back on the roll of hnours slip past him. Both men have been in descent form since oz and Rafa in particular was clinical against Tsonga. Andy can win this one, but going by the head to heads, I reckon this match will be decided by who’s hungrier for it. For the answer to that, can anyone look past Rafa? Is he not hungry for every single point, no matter what the importance? For that reason I’m going for Rafa into the final.
It’s quarter final time in Miami and once again we find only 1 of the top 4 seeds left in the draw. Has the tennis world gone upside down? Roger Federer lost for the first time against a spirited Berdych yesterday, and it just confirms my suspicions that he no longer cares about these tournaments. He said “I had tons of chances at the end. I tried everything I could. It is just not happening for me at the moment.” I don’t believe he had any other issues other than motivation. Wait until you see the change in him playing at the French Open. To today’s schedule…
 A Roddick (USA) vs  N Almagro (ESP) – ATP
If anyone had a bet on niccy almagro making the quarter finals of Miami, they’ll be in for a bit of money at the moment. He has played well, and has never met roddick, and given the amount of upsets there has been in the last 3 weeks, who knows, he may pull it out of the bag. However, Roddick hasn’t been in bad form himself and with the backing of the crowd I’ll say it will be Andy into the semi’s
 J Tsonga (FRA) vs  R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
This match has intrigue written all over it. When Tsonga turns up, on any given day, he can destroy anybody, including Nadal (memories of ozzy open 2008 anybody?). But Rafa seems to have had his number of late, even when his own form hasn’t been at it’s best. So for that reason I’m picking Nadal to make it through
So with 3 consecutive disappointing tournaments, the HSS Andy Murray seems to be rocking. We could forgive a first round loss in Dubai to Tipsy, but in Indian Wells, Andy was second best for the whole game agains R-Sod and the cherry on top was the straight sets loss to a guy from back to the future, Mardy Fish. Mardy is much more a doubles player than a singles, but he can hold his own on the singles court. Needless to say Mardy also managed to beat Federer in the semis in Miami in 2008 so he has good form on these courts. But Murray looking to finally get the grandslam monkey off his back must surely have targeted the American Hardcourt season for some form and to defend last years points when he came runner up in Indian Wells and won Miami.
Once again we are seeing Murrays weakness ruthlessly exposed. Soderling and Fish both have big serves and dominating forehands players who Murray would typically struggle against. Despite his vast array of shots, his backhand slice, his dropshots, his running crosscourt backhand, Andy can still not fail to mask that he does not have a killer forehand to finish a rally. This is what is hurting him most. Say hes letharagic jetlagged and playing a pumped up Top 50er looking to make a name for themselves, Andy will struggle as he chases ball after ball from the baseline.
Maybe Andy is having somewhat of a hangover since his Australian Open loss, he played well that day but he met a vintage Federer, ruthlessly efficient and eager to continue rewriting the record books. Having trained so hard in the off season, 8 hours a day for weeks, maybe the defeat has played on his mind. Even Andy has come out and said himself, its not his preparation moreso not being able to get into the grove in matches, concentration may play a factor. He has been an outspoken critic of ex GB Davis Cup captain John Lloyd, everybody knew they were friendly but really Andy did you really need to go stick the boot in?Focus on your tennis.
As the tour makes it way back to the European Clay circuit, it would seem unlikely that Andy’s luck is likely to change anytime soon, what with a resurgent Nadal and the rest of South America keen to stake a claim to the Roland Garros crown. Murray had some good encouraging results on the dirt last year even still he wouldnt be one of the favourites to win any of the events in Europe. And then as quick as the French Open arrivesm before you know it, its Wimbledon, the pressure the media the Fred Perry hype….. the circus continues!!!
That’s four mathes in a row where I have seen Roger Federer fail to impress. It says alot about what he thinks of these tournaments now. Still if he were to beat Berdych today (probably the stiffest opponent he’s faced since oz), that could give him the impetus he needs to go all the way. Which could possibly mean another glorious Federer/Nadal final. One Can only hope…
[ J Tsonga (FRA) vs  J Ferrero (ESP) Winner: Tsonga
 A Roddick (USA) vs B Becker (GER) Winner: Roddick
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs  R Nadal (ESP) Winner: Nadal
 R Federer (SUI) vs  T Berdych (CZE) Winner: Federer
 N Almagro (ESP) vs  T Bellucci (BRA) Winner: TCTC
M Fish (USA) vs  M Youzhny (RUS) Winner: Youzhny
 F Gonzalez (CHI) vs  R Soderling (SWE) Winner: Soderling
 F Verdasco (ESP) vs  M Cilic (CRO) Winner: Cilic
One website mentioned that Soderling was the third highest seed left in the tournament, suggesting that the tournament has gone sour. I don’t agree, because apart from the potential for another Federer Nadal final, there are some cracking matches in store for us today. For example Verdasco/Cilic, Gonzalez/Soderling and Tsonga/Ferrero.
I am so proud of Juan Carlos Ferrero at the moment. After so long in the also-ran category following his FO victory in 2003, not many would think he would make it back to the top. But this man has a champions class, and it’s a pity we havent seen it the whole way through his career. The way he fought against John Isner last night was magician like. Yesterday we also caught a glimpse of what David Nalbandian is capable of; stealing the first set from Rafa Nadal. Rafa went on to win rather comfortable, but I really hope this is a sign of things to come for the upcoming clay court season.
M Fish (USA) vs  F Lopez (ESP) Winner: Fish
 R Federer (SUI) vs F Serra (FRA) Winner: Federer
 F Gonzalez (CHI) vs  J Monaco (ARG) Winner: Gonzalez
 F Verdasco (ESP) vs  J Melzer (AUT) Winner: Verdasco
 M Baghdatis (CYP) vs  M Cilic (CRO) Winner: Cilic
P Petzschner (GER) vs  R Soderling (SWE) Winner: Soderling
 S Wawrinka (SUI) vs  M Youzhny (RUS) Winner: Youzhny
H Zeballos (ARG) vs  T Berdych (CZE) Winner: Berdych
Two ties of note this round. First off is Gonzalez vs Monaco. Both these men are brilliant clay court specialists, and both have descent hard court records, with Gonzalez having the slightly better; it will make for interesting viewing. Second is Baghdatis vs Cilic. Of course Cilic big serve will have a lot to say toward the outcome of this came, but both men are great ralliers and Baghdatis is a fighter. Finally, even on an incredibly off day, I can not see Florent Serra troubling Roger Federer.
Everything was proceeding as planned yesterday, that is until the second of last years finalists, lost in their first match of the tounament. Andy Murray was woefully bad yesterday. Take nothing from Mardy Fish however, because anytime Murray had a sniff of a comeback, he always closed the door on the big points. What now for Andy? He’s really going to have to go back to the drawing board. Some poor results in the last 3 tournaments makes me wonder was the Australian open a flattering to deceive? He won’t be getting match rhythm anytime soon either as its his not so favoured clay season coming up. Here’s hoping he can sort something because I just havent seen him play well since Wimbledon last year.
[WC] D Nalbandian (ARG) vs  R Nadal (ESP) Winner: Nadal
 A Roddick (USA) vs S Stakhovsky (UKR) Winner: Roddick
 J Tsonga (FRA) vs  P Kohlschreiber (GER) Winner: Tsonga
 N Almagro (ESP) vs J Chardy (FRA) Winner: TCTC
 T Bellucci (BRA) vs O Rochus (BEL) Winner:Bellucci
 J Isner (USA) vs  J Ferrero (ESP) Winner: Isner
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs  I Karlovic (CRO) Winner: Ferrer
 T Robredo (ESP) vs B Becker (GER) Winner: Robredo
Lots of quality matches today, Tsonga Kohlshreiber, Isner Ferrero, but my one to watch to day is Nadal vs Nalbandian. This has always been a good match in the past, and it has the added ingredient of two players no where near the top of their game. Who can be the first to rise above? Dave has done well to get thus far but my money is on Nadal
Last weeks winner, Ivan Ljubicic I’m sure will be disappointed to end his run with an injury, especially as he was leading by a set yesterday, but a man his age has to think in terms of body conservation (a topic to be hit soon by the LTB!). Another person who has been plagued by the restrictions of his body is fat dave nalbandian. It’s brilliant to see him back in fighting form. Most people had him written off to lose to either Kubot or Troicki, but when Dave is on top form, he can beat anybody, literally anybody. Finally, last noteable result from yesterday was the exit of American star, Sam Querrey. I’m sure the home fans weren’t best pleased with Jeremy Chardy, someone they would have expected Sam to dispatch with ease given their recent form. After the exit of blake, it looks like they’ll be relying on ever present Andy Roddick for their cheers. Here is todays schedule…
 F Verdasco (ESP) vs D Sela (ISR) Winner: Verdasco
 A Murray (GBR) vs M Fish (USA) Winner: Murray
 R Federer (SUI) vs [LL] N Lapentti (ECU) Winner: Federer
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs  M Youzhny (RUS) Winner: Youzhny
 M Baghdatis (CYP) vs J Chela (ARG) Winner: Baghdatis
 F Gonzalez (CHI) vs [Q] Y Lu (TPE) Winner: Gonzalez
 G Simon (FRA) vs H Zeballos (ARG) Winner: Simon
A Falla (COL) vs  J Melzer (AUT) Winner: Melzer
P Luczak (AUS) vs  R Soderling (SWE) Winner: Soderling
S Robert (FRA) vs  M Cilic (CRO) Winner: Cilic
T de Bakker (NED) vs  T Berdych (CZE) Winner Berdych
 J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs P Petzschner (GER) Winner: Tipseravic
 S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [Q] K Anderson (RSA) Winner: Wawrinka
[Q] M Ilhan (TUR) vs  J Monaco (ARG) Winner: Monaco
M Berrer (GER) vs  F Lopez (ESP) Winner: TCTC
F Serra (FRA) vs  A Montanes (ESP) Winner: Serra
Jeremy Chardy was the big winner of the day beating Mario Ancic in straight sets. It’s a pity fellow frenchie Rochard Gasqurt couldn’t say the same thing. He claims he is playing well, that he just needs to more confidence, but time is running out for the troubled frenchman. Another man coming back from a long lay off is David Nalbandian. He played wonderfully to rout Lukasz Kubot 63 62, a potential wildcard on our hands maybe? Lastly I should mention young serbianFilip Krajinovic. He is only just 18 years of age and he pushed home favourite James blake all the way. Do we have another Djokovic on the way? If so you heard it here first on the LTB. Here is today’ schedule…
[LL] N Lapentti (ECU) vs P Starace (ITA) Winner: Starace
M Fish (USA) vs L Mayer (ARG) Winner: Mayer
H Zeballos (ARG) vs A Seppi (ITA) Winner: Seppi
P Lorenzi (ITA) vs J Chela (ARG) Winner: Chela
P Petzschner (GER) vs [Q] R Sweeting (USA) Winner: Petzschner
[Q] M Ilhan (TUR) vs P Cuevas (URU) Winner: Cuevas
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs [LL] M Daniel (BRA) Winner: Daniel
V Hanescu (ROU) vs A Falla (COL) Winner: Hanescu
E Korolev (KAZ) vs D Sela (ISR) Winner: Korolev
R Ram (USA) vs T de Bakker (NED) Winner: de Bakker
L Lacko (SVK) vs M Berrer (GER) Winner: Berrer
F Fognini (ITA) vs [Q] Y Lu (TPE) Winner: Lu
[Q] N Massu (CHI) vs F Serra (FRA) Winner: Serra
P Luczak (AUS) vs O Hernandez (ESP) Winner: Luczak
[Q] K Anderson (RSA) vs [Q] R Mello (BRA) Winner: Anderson
S Robert (FRA) vs A Beck (GER) Winner: Robert
Tie of the round is Fish vs Mayer, Mayer is the favourite but it will upset the home crowd so it should be spicey. Also keep an eye on talented young french lad Robert [or is he destined to fail? ]. Finally, another shout out for the amazing Elena Baltacha. She just gets better and better making light work of a girl ranked 3 places above her. She now gets her second bite at the top 20 cherry in successive weeks in the form of Wickmayer. Fingers crossed she can come out with the same result.
It’s round two of the Masters series, which comes in quick sucession from Indian Wells. We barely have had to time to catch our breath and analyse the happenings over in California. Nevertheless Miami has arrived and I’m sure will bring about stories all of it’s own. I didn’t do great in the last bracket challenge so I will refrain for now from making any outright predictions of a winner, so for now we’ll just have to make do with my daily predicitions. I’ll make some more comments as the tournament progresses.
[WC] M Ancic (CRO) vs J Chardy (FRA) Winner: Ancic
[WC] D Nalbandian (ARG) vs L Kubot (POL) Winner: Nalbandian
[WC] F Krajinovic (SRB) vs J Blake (USA) Winner: Blake
E Schwank (ARG) vs M Gicquel (FRA) Winner: Gicquel
M Llodra (FRA) vs [WC] R Harrison (USA) Winner: Llodra
O Rochus (BEL) vs R Gasquet (FRA) Winner: Gasquet
T Dent (USA) vs [Q] R Schuettler (GER) Winner: Dent
[Q] D Istomin (UZB) vs M Russell (USA) Winner: Istomin
A Clement (FRA) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) Garcia-Lopez
I Andreev (RUS) vs [Q] X Malisse (BEL) Winner: Andreev
D Koellerer (AUT) vs C Rochus (BEL) Winner: Koellerer
M Chiudinelli (SUI) vs F Mayer (GER) Winner: Mayer
S Greul (GER) vs B Becker (GER) Winner: Greul
P Mathieu (FRA) vs [Q] I Marchenko (UKR) Winner: Mathieu
J Hajek (CZE) vs S Stakhovsky (UKR) Winner: Stakhovsky
[Q] A Golubev (KAZ) vs D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) Winner: Golubev
In my humble opinion, there isn’t a lot there that will get the crowd excited to be honest, but keep an eye out for upsets fromIlya Marchenko and Lukasz Kubot.