Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Federer Advance Again

Cincinnati Masters 2010
By Hiland Doolittle, August 20th, 2010
Andy Murray at Cincinati Masters

Andy Murray at Cincinati Masters

For the second week in a row, the top four seeds have emerged to the quarterfinals. Murray (4) and Nadal (1) were pushed to three sets and Djokovic (2) was pushed in two while Federer (3) received his second consecutive win by retirement. Challengers Andy Roddick (9) and (6) Nikolay Davydenko recorded three set wins while unseeded Marcos Baghdatis and Mardy Fish won in straight set upsets.

Crowd favorite Andy Roddick looked exhausted but rode a wave of support and summoned enough of his newfound skills to edge Swede Robin Soderling in three hotly contested sets 6-4, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (5). Roddick looked like he was in for a walk in the park before Soderling, the fifth seed, awakened midway through the second set.

The Swede used powerful forehands to earn his one and only break and get the set back on serve. Still, Roddick had the match in his hands but could not convert.

In the third set, Soderling was pressured heavily in the eighth game where he turned away five break points and in the twelfth game where he turned back three match points. In the tiebreak, the two-time champion had set points at 6-4 but lost his first service point before finally closing out the match in two hours 44 minutes.

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Roddick will play second seeded Novak Djokovic, the runner-up for the past two years. Djokovic saved five second set points against David Nalbandian who offered little resistance in the first set of the 6-1, 7-6 (7) loss. Cincinnati is the only tournament in the U.S. that Djokovic has not won and the Serb will face a tough crowd in Friday’s second match.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Frenchman Julien Benneteau’s strong performance against Rafa Nadal. Benneteau played aggressively with daring confidence to claim the first set and get to match point in the second before Nadal finally came to life. Benneteau needed help from the trainers on two occasions as he battled cramps at the end of the second set and midway through the third in the 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-2 Nadal victory.

Nadal has only lost two matches since April, the beginning of the clay court season. He appears more vulnerable on the hard court but is certainly the number one player on the tour and wearing a big red target wherever he goes.

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On Friday, Nadal will face upset winner Marcos Baghdatis who surprised 7th seed Tomas Berdych 7-5, 6-4. Baghdatis struggled through the grass court portion of the season but is back in form and always willing to go the extra distance.

Andy Murray won his first title of the year last week, but looked like he might fall on Thursday against 21-year old Latvian Ernests Gulbis in a tough 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) two hour 34 minute battle. Gulbis went after every return against the Scotsman and forced Murray to hold 6 of 9 breakpoint chances. In the back of Gulbis’ mind was surely the fact that Murray has won all five of their previous meetings.

On Friday, Murray hopes to overcome a two-match losing streak to surprising American Mardy Fish. Fish has lost more than 30 pounds with a strenuous commitment to better fitness. The new Fish looks good and has seemed the most conditioned athlete at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.

On Thursday, Fish put that fitness to work with a 7-5, 6-2 dominating performance against Richard Gasquet. Fish recorded 18 aces and lost only 8 points on serve in the 70-minute match.

Nikolay Davydenko survived a strong challenge for hot playing David Ferrer. The Russian claimed a comeback victory in two hours 16 minutes 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 with solid all court lay against the speedy Ferrer. Davydenko will now play a well-rested Federer who won via retirement by German Phillip Kohlschreiber.


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