February 24, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

There seems to be a cloud hanging over the Barclays Dubai Tennis Tournament this week.

First there was Roger Federer who pulled out with a lung infection. Then U.S. Open champ Juan Martin Del Potro and Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick withdrew due to nagging injuries that have plagued them the last few months.

For those top players remaining, the road was still not so easy. Gilles Simon has failed to live up to a stellar 2008 season and pulled out of the Australian Open with knee problems -- he was first out the door with a straight set loss to Marcos Baghdatis. Nikolay Davydenko, who began this year with a red-hot string of victories bowed out earlier this morning, retiring after losing his first set to world #56 Michael Berrer. And Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who'd been questionable coming into the tournament, was out-played start to finish by Croat Ivan Ljubicic.

But by far the biggest upset of the tournament came when third seed Andy Murray met Janko Tipsarevic in the second round earlier today. The Scot had won three of their five previous meetings and, ranked fourth in the world, was by far the favorite. Even though the Serb got the first break of the match, the more experienced, but younger, Murray evened the score quickly to force a first-set tiebreak. He lost that one, but regrouped to take the second set and, I tweeted he'd likely harness that momentum to bagel his opponent in the decider.

To my -- and everyone else's, it seems -- surprise, Tipsarevic took the first lead of the third, and foiled Andy on six early attempts to break back. But the two-time Major finalist proved he had mettle and saved match points when Janko was serving in the ninth game of the set. Undeterred, the underdog rallied on Murray's service game and made good on his next match opportunity.

So that leaves Novak Djokovic as the clear leader in the field -- though if the results from the past few days are any indication, he shouldn't breathe too easily. In the next round he'll face Ljubicic and uber-underrated Marin Cilic looms large as a potential finalist.

Certainly the draw has proved to be wide open, and with such a big title on the line, there's no telling who'll be next to get swept up in the sands in Dubai!

No comments: