World No. 13 Marin Cilic bowed out in the first round of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament for a second straight week, succumbing to Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-4, 7-5 on opening Sunday at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati.
Cilic dropped serve three times and managed to convert on just one of his seven break point chances to lose to Baghdatis for the first time in three meetings.
The 21-year-old Croat reached the semi-finals two weeks ago in Washington (l. to Nalbandian), but failed to maintain the momentum in Toronto, where he was upset by Serbian Viktor Troicki.
Baghdatis also enjoyed a strong run in Washington, finishing runner-up to David Nalbandian to move back into the Top 20 of the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings, before losing his Toronto opener against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
The 25 year old, who won the hard-court title in January at Sydney, will next meet the winner between Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci and German qualifier Benjamin Becker.
so Thomaz Bellucci, it is. since Thomaz is one of my "minor league" faves (my list of faves is longer than my Carrefour shopping list, remember?), great to see him playing in a really tight match and coming out with the win. looks like the young Brazilian clay-court specialist is determined to find solutions to a whole range of situations. but, Thomaz, let it stop here.
a couple of recent interesting articles on Thomaz: article 1, article 2. i believe this does, however, map better on Thomaz's case. yes, it's Krystle's excellent analytical write up, high-precision control-flow language there.
Marcos will have his hands full tomorrow, as Thomaz is able to give him a real scare, he may even cause an upset. one can only hope Marcos' unpredictable mood takes an understandably shining turn this week... this month?
World No. 7 and Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych claimed a 6-4, 6-4 win over Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in his second-round opening match at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, Tuesday afternoon in Cincinnati.
Berdych raced out to a 4-0 lead in the second set, but played his first loose service game as he attempted to close out the match at 5-2 in the second set. The Wimbledon finalist would not be denied a second time, serving out the match at love on his next opportunity.
The 24-year-old Czech is in the midst of a stellar season, highlighted by runner-up finishes at Wimbledon (l. to Nadal) and the Sony Ericsson Open (l. to Roddick) and a semi-final run at Roland Garros (l. to Soderling). He narrowly lost to Roger Federer last week in the Rogers Cup quarter-finals, falling in a third-set tie-break.
Berdych, a quarter-finalist last year at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournament in Cincinnati (l. to Nadal), next confronts recent Washington finalist Marcos Baghdatis, who toughed out a 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(4) win over Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci in two hours and eight minutes.
Berdych holds a 2-1 edge over the 20th-ranked Baghdatis in the head-to-head series, most recently defeating the Cypriot in the 2010 season opener at Brisbane.
tomorrow's order of play hasn't been announced yet. i assume that since Marcos and Berdych were the only two players to play their second-round matches on Tuesday as opposed to the rest who played today, the match is scheduled as the first match for, hmmm, Grandstand perhaps.
and, Marcos hates having to wake up early in the morning... oh well.
both players hit flat serves, although i'm open with Marcos about needing time to develop a sliding serve, a topspin serve. it would be easier to avoid the double faults then... Berdych: great power hitting, devastating forehand, he moves well for his size, he keeps his composure on the court (give credit to Tomas Krupa), and, hmm, he gives me the impression he works mostly on his mechanics ... Marcos: has great touch and reflexes, he feels the game and he's able to truly play than simply hit (these are things you can't teach), variety in the return of serve, and, hmm, he gives me the impression he works mostly on his patterns and point construction.
if both players avoid form dipping moments during the match, then the odds are half-half. hope Marcos is ready to compete. i'd love to see him getting through and oozing confidence go a little further... Berdych is a serious slam contender, also an Olympic medal contender along with Federer and Nadal. these three are just head and shoulders above anyone else on grass...
speaking of grass reminds me of Marcos' loss to Berdych three years ago in Halle. Marcos turned 22 that Sunday, but Berdych would not give him any presents on the court... he got birthday cake from tournament director Ralf Weber though and the whole stadium chanted "Happy Birthday" after the match. "i´ve never had so many people singing for me," Marcos stated. "i will still celebrate - my mother will still call me."... the birthday cake was marked with the Cyprus flag. it appears Cyprus asset with branding potential is Marcos Baghdatis.