First times

WOW it’s been a while. I can’t even remember the last time I used this space to talk to you, but I’m sure it was during the US Open – the last tennis match I remember watching from beginning to end is Sam-Serena.

Quite a while. Lots happened since. Asian swing, started on a new job, and NFL. These three factors, plus the lack of Robin Söderling and convincing Andy Roddick runs kept me away from the sport that, from the first day of the Aussie Open and the second-to last of the US Open, is my favorite. I am not ashamed in assuming NFL is my all-time favorite sport. In fact, I’m warning you: I might use Daily Scores to post football-related articles. Be aware.

Just a clarification: This post is not meant to start a comeback. Hell, no. I don’t have much time. And there is not much tennis left out there this year. I am writing this just because this is a special occasion.

Tomorrow, for the first time ever, I will attend a tennis match.

I have already traveled the world… in front of my TV. But had never had the opportunity to watch two professional players battling for actual money and actual ranking points from the stands of a gymnasium before.

There aren’t many tennis events in Brasil, you know. Okay, we’ve got a Future in every week of the year, and there are quite a lot of challengers, and the Brasil Open. But hey: Only one or two of the challengers are in São Paulo – which happens to be the city I live in. And until this year, the Open was in Bahia. I recommend you to check on a Brasilian map. It’s not close. Not cheap either.

But good news: Koch Tavares and the ATP decided to adapt O2’s World Tour Finals, but with a much lower profile, left a wildcard available and brought it to my ‘hood, you know.

So well. I will try to get you as many pictures as I can – most of them taken from my cellphone. I will also try to write about the matches I watch – still don’t know if tomorrow’s OOP has been already unveiled. But I’m probably going to watch the last two matches of the day – likely to be both from the Green Group (Bellucci-Klizan, Beck-Reynolds).

I’m not sure what to expect. Have no idea how does it feel to watch a tennis match from somewhere else than the TV, or to sit down for hours (ok, more than one, less than two, probably). But I do expect it to be awesome – my first time on a tennis stadium, after all. Will keep you updated. For the old times.

See ya tomorrow, then. And Saturday and Sunday too, of course.


Why, Canada? (Or ‘Moderate rant on Toronto draw’)


Before I resume my line of thought, now sure I won’t make any enemies after this post (or am I? You can never know, but the chances are lower now), let’s look one post back to this – a Quick Guide, written by myself, of how to make Pete (3rd person wtf) lose interest in a tennis tournament. Items 4, 5 and 6, complemented by #7:

“4. Kim Clijsters

5. Yanina Wickmayer

6. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

7. Set the following match-ups: 4 vs. Serena Williams (3rd Round), 5 vs. Caroline Wozniacki (2nd Round), 6 vs. Hantuchova/Dulko, Azarenka (2nd/3rd round).”

Followed by a link to Rogers Cup Ladies’ draw: Toronto Premier 5

I think I got you in the mood by now. So let’s go.

There are two ways to do this. A complex draw analysis, praising how awesome and how much of a mindfuck, with excellent match-ups saved for every day of competition we, fans of tennis, got. But if you were looking for that, you wouldn’t be here – there are lots of better websites that do better analysis.

And there’s Pete’s way – which is why you’re reading this now. My unique, particular, (un)biased and (im)passionate way of dealing with this game we all love. Pete’s way, then, because I’m calling the plays here.

Introduction off. Let it be.


I start: WHAT IN THE HOLY GRACIOUS NAME OF FUCK? (I promise this is the only swearword you will see here today)

I was all ‘hey, all my faves have taken this month [July] to rest after the non-stop action in Europe, but they will be back in August and everything is fine’. BUT NO. NO KIMMIE, NO.

I will take a huge paragraph only to talk about Clijsters. You have been warned. You also might want to skip to the next one. Your call. Well, Kimmie is back from injury. An injury I had doubts about at a first glance, a very odd injury, in fact – dancing, in a wedding. I had heard complaints about her shoulder, back in the first US swing – and her level actually decreased after Paris Indoors – but then the ankle – and the subsequently ditching of the clay season – seemed all too convenient. She played two tournaments since. I won’t even bring up here how she fared. But fine. Toronto, present, here and now. She drawn a first-round bye, a qualy in the second round (and given the high caliber of the girls in the qualy will be a tough one, indeed, but beatable) and… the winner of Alona Bondarenko vs. Serena Williams vs. the winner of Julia Goerges vs. Jelena Jankovic. SERENA. The one who took almost a full-season lay-off, returned two months ago and won a title last week, even dishing a double-bagel. The woman who leads Kimmie 6-2 in the H2H (I’m pretty sure that’s it, though I haven’t double-checked it). The popstar one, against whom everybody seems to bow down and forget how to play tennis. In. The. Third. Round. Against a Clijsters who’s far from that form that made us all think she was the savior of the women’s tennis. Against a Kimberly who has the Cincinnati title to defend – over 900 points, because they swap Cincy and Canada to match with the ATP events (Stupid decision, Jesus). I couldn’t be sadder. Or more pissed off – because that’s probably how I’m gonna feel on Thursday, when this match-up is set to happen. Until then, I’ll be rooting for Kimmie and Alona, JJ or Julia, though they won’t even tickle mss. Popstar. And I have this uncomfortable hunch I will be forced to open my chest and… we shall wait and see.

Moving on, but staying in Belgium. From Bree to Lier. Yanina Wickmayer. Top-20, opens against Sara Errani – having to back all those points from last year’s quarterfinal run, which is a lot for her. Might not be the best opener, but beggars can’t be choosers. In the second round for her is… CAROLINE WOZNIACKI. Who owns her, since they were juniors. Of course, all the streaks have to go down some time, even Nole’s did. Even Rafa’s at RG did, but wowow, who invited you ATP guys here? GTFO! But you get it. However, the chances of Yanina beating Caro are just as unlikely as Alona’s to beat Rere. Goodbye and good riddance to the top-20.

Next on my list of faves. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. I hope you have switched to the old serve, Nastia, because the new one clearly did not work. Like Gary Cherome with Van Halen. Sometimes it’s more than feeling comfortable – or whatever were your intentions. Sometimes it’s just about effectiveness. And over 50 DFs in three matches are far from being effective – for you, let’s make this clear. Where was I? Oh, ok, Pavs. Depending on how Ivanovic does in Carlsbad, Pavs is likely to rise to the world #12. Pretty good, ah?? But she has the semifinals to defend – which might drop her a fair amount of positions. Opens against qualy. Okay, no problems, we all hope. Dani or Gise in the second round – Hantuchova more likely. That’s a problem. If she wins, Vika. It’s either Vika or Stephane Dubois/Qualifier in a Cinderella run – because this is the only way Azarenka will lose her opener. Azarenka vs. Pavs. It happened before. I didn’t like it.

Next and last. Marion Bartoli. No secret I’ve grown a lot of admiration towards her this year. Whatever, she’s playing some quality tennis in 2011, but still not enough to earn her a first round bye. So she will also play a qualifier in the first round – which she should beat with relative ease. Then, the winner of Pennetta/Kirilenko. Names that mean a lot. But they’re both struggling this year (Kirilenko was forced to withdraw from Carlsbad this year), so I’m counting with a him here, Marion. Third round. Sharapova. I’m done.

Last time I was so sure a tournament would become meaningless and empty of faves for me was… well, I can’t remember. But according to my math – widely helped by the tournament’s schedule – it might happen on Thursday in Toronto. The day by the end of which none of my faves will still breath and seek for a place at the sun. Sunday. Final. Sunday final. #LamePun.

Blame it on who? Canada? Far from it. Draw fixing? Makes no sense. Myself for picking the wrong faves? Meaningless. Lady Luck? Why not?

(or the Williamses. They were there, helping to sort it out, no?)

How it’s done + Quick considerations


Written by Pete S. Liguori

1. Andy Roddick.

2. Robin Soderling

3. Remove items 1 and 2 off the draw.

4. Kim Clijsters

5. Yanina Wickmayer

6. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

7. Set the following match-ups: 4 vs. Serena Williams (3rd Round), 5 vs. Caroline Wozniacki (2nd Round), 6 vs. Hantuchova/Dulko, Azarenka (2nd/3rd round).


So far, the Rogers Cup fits perfectly.

The following links will redirect you to the catastrophic Toronto/Montreal draws. Quick considerations to follow.


Montreal Masters 1000

Toronto Premier 5


– Djokovic vs. Federer again in the same half of the draw. I wonder of the tennis world will collapse in case this match-up starst being only eligible in finals.

– Montreal had so many withdrawals it now looks like the Bercy Masters. Or maybe not – since the tops usually also don’t take part in the last Masters of the season.

– Djokovic is likely to play Davydenko in the second round. Del Potro, who made his only Masters final up to date at the Rogers Cup, might play the world #1 in the third round. Gael Monfils is the seed placed in Nole’s quarter, but he could have John Isner before the quarterfinals. Tough draw.

– In the lower quarter of the upper half, Gasquet and Florian will meet in the first round. Bellucci MUST beat Golubev (who the hell loses to him these days anyway?); Federer and Almagro are the highest seeds in this section. I doubt Almagro will reach the QFs. As for Federer, he has Tsonga – who beat him in Montreal/09 and Wimbledon this year – on his way. Third round.

– Lower quarter, bottom half. Nadal is placed there, just like Berdych. Haas vs. Tipsarevic – luck keeps failing Tommy; Fernando Verdasco could be Rafa’s fourth round opponent, and I’m already laughing – you should too; Gilles Simon – who put a run in Hamburg – is Berdych’s biggest challenge before the quarterfinals. Or maybe not – he will play Dolgopolov or Chovka in the second round. The way things are going, I can see Berdych losing to Dolgo, yes, rather easily, even.

– The remaining quarter – or the tasty first-rounders quarter. (8) Fish vs. Lopez/Stepanek, Gulbis/Ferrero vs. Youzhny/Llodra, Wawa/Nalbandian, winner taking on Murray in the third round. Even with Fish owning Murray recently (their H2H favors Mardy, no?), and Ernie, David, playing the wildcard, darkhorse, mad dog role, I’m still skeptical about a surprise here.

Should I take a round up with the girls? No. Definitely not. At least not now, not on this post. Will be back later. But don’t expect to see me here again today.


Oh hello there, Beautiful

W00t, w00t! Wait no longer, the grass season is here!

(In fact, it is here since, uuh… Sunday. But I had no free time to write this post before. Whatever)

Okay, okay. It will be gone before you can correctly spell “s’Hertogenbosch” and win the national Spelling Bee, but I quote the old saying again: “All the good things go fast”. Or something like. I’m not very good in translating Gaellic idioms into English, sorry.

W/e, w/e, goodbye and good riddance to the slow surfaces, be welcome, our dear and beloved Lawn! Plain and simple, the schedule: This week, ATP events in London and Halle. Next week, in the Nederlands (Den Bosch) and in Britain again (Eastbourne), we get two combined events. The ladies will step on the ‘césped’ and battle for the AEGON Classic title in Birmingham this week (city of my glorious Aston Villa!). Then, the third Grand Slam of the year, the most traditional of them all. And, closing it, the Hallf of Fame Championships in Newport.

I’m not going to lie to you, though. This grass season is far from being Epic (unless for Haas’ comeback).

In the Gentlemen’s (Get into Wimbledon mood, shall we?) side, no big surprises. Only the usual suspects, but with some extra condiment: There’s the Djoko-Threat and the Fed-Menace. The former will arrive at the All-England Club, in theory his worst surface, poised (again) to take over the #1. But for the first time in 2011 Nole enters a tournament following a loss – and ‘we don’t know he will behave’ (to keep the suspense, let’s pretend his mighty mental strength could go down).

And the latter… well, I’m not going through his record at Wimbledon, because that involves talking about the Three-Finals-We-Don’t-Talk-About (the Lord Waldemar of Tennis). But he is straight out of a Major final (oh) and willing to shut up a little more the mouth of everyone who predicted he would never win a Major again (me included [?]). In other words, it’s Rafa against the world – Nadal doesn’t lose a match on the Holy Lawn since ’07 final. Yeah, yeah, he skipped 2009, but that’s quite a while anyway.

Yeah, yeah, the supporting cast? Brit Andy & Texan Andy chasing the dream, Birdych with the finals to defend, King Söd with a decent run to back, Milos and the big serve… but then, they are still the supporting cast – unless you proof me wrong.

Entertaining? Yes. Somehow. Surprising? Don’t think so. It’s a same cast, different plot situation.

Game on.


I would really like to talk about the ladies, but this is already getting a little longer than expected – I really can’t control myself. And I know that the chances you are reading a longer post = -2, so, I’ll leave it to another opportunity, finishing with a single double-line:

Serena and Venus are back! That must assure all the fun.

// Or the total and complete absence of it.


PS: New personal goal: Jump on a grass court and do a grass angel – just like you, people who come from snowy countries, do on the iced water that falls from the sky.

Quick take on RG draw

Yahoo! Sports

The wait is over. By now, we have already made plans, traced paths for our faves and wondered the outcome of both earlier and further rounds. Because that’s what we do, as tennis fans.

We also blog about it. A lot. So, there is a draw analysis galore out there – good analysis and stuff. But I just could not let go the opportunity to add my two cents. There we go

Rafa’s draw is easy (until the QFs, I hope) – I haven’t seen a consensus about it, but really, I don’t see how John Isner (barely wins matches these days) could be a tricky opener for Nadal. After Nadal gets past him, a virtual walkover vs. either Giraldo or Andujar, then Cuevas or Davydenko.

Davydenko even leads the H2H against him – one of the few players to do so – but after winning his 21st career title, in Munich, Koyla hasn’t won a single match. The five-time champ would just steamroll over him. I even dare to think Cuevas could be a better match-up (for tennis).


He must lead them by a combined 82-2. Or something like. But another Nadal-Soderling clash in Roland Garros (for the third straight year) is tasty, though.

Really? – The top-3 Americans in the French Open were drawn in Nadal’s quarter. Beside John Isner, who opens (and probably also closes) his participation against him, Querrey gets Kohls in the first round. IF he survives, plays the winner of Ljubicic or Devvarman. In a possible third round, Sam would play probably the clay rats Verdasco or Monaco. Enough?

Fish, the 10th seed, opens against Ricardo Mello (Mello must have already played around 6 Americans this year). Doable. Then Gimeno-Traver or Haase. Not easy, but yeah, he could survive. But a possible third round meeting with Chardy, Dimitrov or Simon?

Verdasco vs. Monaco might be a good match-up for girls to watch – But I’m not expecting a good match nor looking forward to watch it.

It doesn’t get much better – For Andy Murray. Drawn in the middle of three qualifier, Andy Moo opens against local Eric Prodon (and Murray is having some record against random local qualifiers, I must remind you). Don’t think he will go down. Bolelli or Dancevic are next for him. I’m think here 6-0 in sets arriving in the third round. Milos Raonic might be a problem.

Might. Then I just want Dolgopolov to have enough good days to book an Aussie Open QF rematch with Murray in the 4th round. Because it would be just awesome, mainly on clay.

I don’t care what you’re gonna say, I really believe it – Florian Mayer in the semifinals of a Grand Slam? Only Kunitsyn, Falla/Potito standing between him and the third round. Almagro could be his toughest foe. If he manages to defeat him, Melzer or Chela would be a big deal, but perfectly beatable. In a possible quarterfinal meeting with Murray (or someone else)…well. No-one would bet a single penny on Jurgen last year, right?

I’m sorry, Melzer, but I believe – Your days as a top-10 are about to end. Beck, Roger-Vasselin or Rosol, o.k. But unless he brings some momentum to Roland Garros (after some sad losses in the last two Masters prior to it), Juan Ignacio Chela could pull an upset.

Golden chance – For Ferrer to match, maybe even set a new, best at the French Open. Nieminen first, Jules (ranks second amongst my picks to win the tournament, after FloMo) second, no problems against Nishi or Stakh in the third, God knows if Monfils will survive until the fourth round.

Let’s a picture quarterfinal meeting between Federer and Ferrer. Fed, as usual, leads the H2H by an abnormal advantage, and will always be the favorite in a five-setter. But seriously, I would not be surprised in case the Spaniard finally fulfills the expectations and reaches the final four for the first time.

Would you?

In the paper… – Roger Federer’s path is hard. Only in the paper. I don’t think Feliciano can keep up with him, unless Roger is in a bad Federer day. Let’s not even waste space with the second round. Janko Tipsarevic is the seed drawn to play him in the third round. In the fourth?

Tsonga – schooled back in Rome – and Wawrinka – walkover. No scares, and Rodgie can already count with the total defense of his 180 points.

HE IS BACK – News of the year: Tommy Haas hasn’t officially retired yet. Back to the pro-tour, as a German again, he plays Marsel Ilhan in the first round. It will be his first match since Delray Beach, last year. Last time he played on clay, Roland Garros/09. I don’t care, just give him a show court already!

Oh yeah, and he is back too – Lleyton Hewitt, sidelined from the circuit since having a foot surgery, back in Indian Wells, opens against Albert Montañes. Not the best first rounder for the former no.1, but oh well.

Good news, bad news – For Gaskay. Good: He has nothing to defend (remember that uber chokage vs. Murray last year?) and making his way through the R16 is not an absurd. Bad: He is likely to play the winner of DelPo and Nole. Certainly gets on his way for further dreams.

So unfair – I really want Nole to take over the #1 in Roland Garros. I also really want Del Potro to have a deep run. Unfortunately for me, they’re set to play each other in the third round. Unfortunately (again), in my opinion, JMDP’s lack of rhythm will spoil all the fun, though.

LONG – this post is

FUN – I want you to have

ALL – Is this for now.

No Superstitions

Friday. Last day of the week, the start of the weekend, night lights, party, FUN FUN FUN. Oh, but the calendar is telling me today is the 13th day of the month. So what? I don’t think any of you believe Friday the 13th is a bad omen or something. But if somehow you do, Rome quarterfinals have three strong reasons to convince you to stop believing that breaking a mirror will give you seven years of bad luck.

First – Rafael Nadal defeats Marin Cilic, 6/1, 6/3


"I'm still the number one haaaaaaaaa" / Pic: Yahoo! Images

There are no black cats enough in the world to jinx Rafa. And I’m pretty serious. Rafa, who was allegedly feverish and kind of ill the whole week, took care of Marin in 1h25. He didn’t face a single break point the entire match, and now Cilic can’t be cocky about being one of the few players to have a non-negative record against Nadal – Rafa now leads 2-1. In the semifinals, the five-time champion plays Richard Gasquet, whom he leads 8-0. Gasquet has captured some momentum in Italy, but is it enough to beat Rafa?

Rhetorical question.

Second – Andy Murray breadstick(ed), breadstick(s) and breadstick(s) Florian Mayer, 1/6, 6/1, 6/1


"Not that it's a superstition or something like, but I am definitely NOT GOING to cut my hair now I'm winning" // Pic: Yahoo!

Say what you will. “Murray plays like crap on clay”; “Florian Mayer is now top-20 material (!)”; “Andy is still slumping”. But it doesn’t change a thing. Even though Florian is having the best year of his career (Surprisingly, he’s already a 27-yo veteran), Murray was the favorite, simply because he is Andy Murray.

The first set may have felt like walking under a ladder. But, as you know, Murray has the luck of Scottish, so fool superstitions can’t touch him. Nor could Florian – Murray faced only two BPs in the next two sets, returned the first’s scoreline in double and sealed his way to the semifinals – he is the first Briton to reach the final four in Rome. 2011 is also his first season ever with multiple clay semifinals, though he still needs to reach his first final.

Last and least – Novak Djokovic (Mars) def. Robin Soderling (SWE) – six-three, six-nothing


I know what you're thinking. Yes, they DO have weaknesses. Try water next time. // Pic: Yahoo! Images

It’s done. Nole spilt salt on R-Sod’s wounds. Earth’s last hope even had a positive start, breaking his opponent in the opening game from love. But he couldn’t keep the advantage, and when Novak got back on serve, we knew the biggest chance to kill that monster had been lost. Robin even kept toe-to-toe with him, but after six games he desperately hail-maried (Did I successfully translate Hail-Mary into a verb?) and gambled his last stamina to try a break, but meh, he failed.

Djokovic then used his inhuman, never-ending resources. He then left the court and went for a walk. In a park. Soderling tried to cool things down, went to the locker room, maybe even had an illegal coaching session with someone. But it didn’t even tickle The Alien On The Other Side Of The Net (TAOTOSOTN). Djokovic finally dished his second bagel of Rome, and repeated his opener’s scoreline, in the quarterfinals, against a top-5.


Oh yeah, that was also the ultimate proof of alien supremacy. There is nothing we can do now. Expect them to be marching over in our main cities some time real soon.



Nadal plays Gasquet, 2nd on Centrale tomorrow, not before 2 p.m., seeking his 5th Masters final of the year. He leads the H2H, 8-0.

Murray will try to be the first man to beat Djokovic since November, not before 8 p.m., also on Centrale. Djokovic leads the H2H, 5-3, and in case you have already forgotten, they played this year in the Australian Open final. Was a monster performance by Nole, who wasn’t threatened the whole match.


The Monsters… and Bellucci

“ATP is SO AWESOME, the level of the players is so high, and the rivalries are amazing!”

Yes, it is. You’re right, undeniable. But come on now, it’s not funny anymore. Biggest proof is, Rafa and Roger – friends, but rivals – will kill themselves on a tennis court tomorrow. And this event wasn’t even overhyped!

My theory is, the final four of the big events are eternal loops now. So people are just strategically tanking the early rounds, paying attention in one or two matches, and flash forwarding their tennis love to Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

In Madrid the screenplay, mostly, had no surprises under its sleeves. Sort of. As Murray – the last element of the Big 4 – is still slumping – even though he’s not losing to American qualifiers anymore – and clay was never his best surface, one semifinal spot is technically open. And there’s where the surprised dwell.


For Madrid, the outsider is Thomaz Bellucci. Yes, that’s right! I talked about him two posts ago, and I’m glad I’m at it again. Because Bellucci beat Berdych today, in straight sets, to reach his first ever Masters semifinal (last time a Brazilian had gotten this far was in 2003, in Indian Wells). From all the seeds and sleepers in Murray’s quarter, I must admit I would never bet on Bellucci. But for what is worth, he’s earning. Good luck tomorrow against Nole, kid.

I'm pretty sure he's acting. He must be getting bored.

Oh yeah, there is Nole too. He did his thing and extended The Streak up to 32 wins (30 this year). Ferrer fought, of course. Because that’s his personality. But in the end, Djokovic prevailed. So, chance for the long awaited Nole-Rafa meeting on the dirrrrrrrrrt is still alive and running.

That frustrated face of "Oh, damn, I dropped four games". I know the feeling...

Yes. Because didn’t you think Llodra could beat Nadal, did you? Rafa dropped only the insurance four games, and that was it. 74 minutes, job done, on the way to the semifinals. The Clay Monster (Monsters eat Kings for breakfasts, so) fed himself another win. I wonder if someday Rafa will just get bored.

Oh, right. There is a little rock standing between Rafa and the finals. And this “little rock” has won sixteen Grand Slams.

Today I hate you.

Routine. Can’t say anything else about Federer’s win over Robin Soderling. But that’s good, Robin, you fell in the quarterfinals to the number three. As the world number five, it’s ok to lose to the four best ranked players. But meh. It’s annoying when you play someone sixteen times and the guy is the one spraying champagne after the match point in fifteen of these occasions.

Whatever. I nicknamed these finals with the name of this post – The Monsters. And Bellucci. Because even though Bellucci did a MONSTRUOUS job, considering who he is, dismantling two top-10s en route to the final four, we cannot forget who the real deal is. Or are, in this case.

Just a curiosity: Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Bellucci are the number 1 of their respective countries. Respect.

USEFUL PART OF THE POST – Quarterfinal results:

(1) Rafael Nadal (ESP) d. Michael Llodra (FRA) – 6/2, 6/2

(3) Roger Federer (SUI) d. (5) Robin Soderling (SWE) – 7/6 (2), 6/4

Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) d. (7) Tomas Berdych (CZE) – 7/6 (2), 6/3

(2) Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. (6) David Ferrer (ESP) – 6/4, 4/6, 6/3

Semifinals schedule:

Nadal vs. Federer – Starting not before 4 p.m. local time – Nadal leads the H2H 15-8, 10-2 on clay. Most recent meeting was in Miami semifinals (Nadal won 6/3, 6/2); Last on clay, Madrid 2010 final, Nadal won 6/4, 7/6 (5).

Djokovic vs. Bellucci – Starting not before 7 p.m. local time – Nole won their only previous meeting, in Rome last year, 6/4, 6/4.

All pics taken from Yahoo! Sports