• Djokovic back in action, Gonzalez returns

    4/25/11 6:50 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Djokovic back in action, Gonzalez returns  Serbia's own Novak Djokovic headlines this week's field in Belgrade, but he is far from the only attraction. Among the other contenders is Fernando Gonzalez, who is making his first appearance in eight months.

    The third installment of the Serbia Open is underway this week, and it boasts arguably its strongest field ever. Serbia's top three players--Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki, and Janko Tipsarevic--are once again in action, but this time they are joined by a host of other contenders.

    Belgrade welcomes the much-anticipated return of Fernando Gonzalez, who has not played an ATP event since the 2010 U.S. Open due to right hip surgery. Gonzalez, now registering at No. 516 in the world because of inactivity, opens with a qualifier before a possible second-round clash against either Juan Monaco or Feliciano Lopez.

    Last year's champion Sam Querrey is not returning, but fellow American and 2010 runner-up John Isner is back. An impressive entry list also features Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Albert Montanes, and Ernests Gulbis. Montanes won the Estoril title each of the past two seasons, but he decided to switch to Belgrade this time around. Gulbis got a late wild card into the event and the sixth-seeded Latvian is set for an opener against Illya Marchenko.

    In general, though, this week is all about Djokovic. The world No. 2 has not lost a single match this entire year, coming in at 24-0 with titles at the Australian Open, Dubai Duty Free Championships, Indian Wells Masters, and Miami Masters. Djokovic should not have too much trouble in Belgrade as part of a weaker top half of the draw. He could meet Isner in the quarters before potentially running into either Tipsarevic or Garcia-Lopez.

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Yes Mr Dimon, this week Is all about Novak Djokovic and of his continuing the winning streak that has filled him with confidence and belief that his time has come to claim the No.1 ranking that has eluded him the last couple of years. On Wednesday we will see Novak begin his preparation on clay, a surface where he has proven he can play very good tennis but also knows that if he is to come closer to his career goal (No.1 ranking) he will have to step up his game on this surface and I am sure we will all see that this year, clay season will not be so clearly ''dominated'' by player(s) whom this surface is their favorite. We can't wait to see Novak's game on Wednesday . His fans are expecting a lot from him and Serbia Open is the perfect tournament for Novak to warm up for the clay season. Lets go Novak, first the Serbia Open and then .... gr

virginia , 4/25/11 10:06 PM

"The world No. 3 has not lost a single match this entire year..."
It's world No. 2 Ricky :))). How honest was that mistake? ;)

Went there today for a brief stroll. Nole practiced with Gonzo just when Nishikori was wrapping up his practice session. Spent some time watching Zimonjic practicing with Granollers - they are doubles partners here but they played against each other. As for Gonzo, he looked good, moved good, didn't seem like he lost any of his shots.
Nole will most likely win all meaning that his winning streak will continue as well as the number of trophies in succession.

Btw, would LOVE to see Gulbis play ;)

danica , 4/25/11 10:48 PM

thanks for the report, danica...and the ranking correction. :D

cherylmurray , 4/25/11 11:21 PM

Thanks danica, great to hear Gonzo is back on the courts!

smr , 4/26/11 12:41 AM

Yes, I was happy to see Gonzo play and I hope he'll go far. He deserves to be back in top.
Btw, the wind in Belgrade is unimaginable. I can't remember ever seeing it this strong this part of the year (although, I must admit, I was away for 12 years but still...). It must be hell of a challenge to play in such conditions :((.

danica , 4/26/11 1:31 AM

Cant wait to see Rafa play Nole.

This is the only matchup where Rafa's win is not a foregone conclusion.

atul1985 , 4/26/11 12:57 PM

i'm not really a fan of Gonzalez somehow since that Olympics incident, but hope his injury comeback is not short-lived. that's the sad thing about sports, many top athletes just cant get back to the top after an injury setback.

mriiidula , 4/26/11 1:18 PM

atul, strange that you say that. Nole has never beaten Rafa on clay, he only came close in 2009 and that was Rafa's worst year on clay. Remember he lost to Fed at Madrid and Sod at RG that same year. How then can Nole be the one to threaten Rafa on clay? Nole may not get past Fed or Murray or Ferrer on clay. We have to show some respect to these three guys at least, not forgeting here are others too, like Almagro, Melzer, Gasquet.,

In fact I'm more interested to see Nole vs Fed or Nole vs Murray on clay. There's no guarantee that Nole can beat them. Both Murray and Fed have all the varieties to deal with Nole. One thing they should avoid is staying at the baseline and rally with Nole; only Rafa and maybe Sod and Delpo at their best can live with and beat Nole from the baseline.

luckystar , 4/26/11 1:37 PM

Why can't some or even most people be just happy for Rafa. This year he's only won one Masters 1000 and one 500 and some are already sick of that, they want Nole who has won 24 straight matches with 4 titles to take Rafa out as soon as possible on clay. So they don't mind whether other players win everything going just so long as it's not Rafa.

These same people were never tired of Roger winning everything in sight for years. Nole's record on clay is nowhere as good as Rafa's record on h/c but he is seen as the contender to Rafa on clay, whereas Rafa is denegraded as far as h/c is concerned even though he's beaten Nole enough times on h/c. If Nole should take a set off Rafa on grass anytime Nole will suddenly become the best grass court player next to Federer in this era. Even Murray is now nearing cult status on clay after taking a set from Rafa in MC, for the first time.

I hope Rafa continues to let his racquet do the talking.

nadline , 4/26/11 4:35 PM

Exactly nadline. Nole has done nothing yet this year on clay, and already people are penciling him in at the finals of the clay masters and the FO, even worse, they talk as if he's going to beat Rafa Come on, Ferrer had reached two finals in two clay tournaments so far this clay season, not forgetting he had also won at Acapulco and yet people don't give him a chance once Nole is there!

luckystar , 4/26/11 4:59 PM

I won't be surprised that Ferrer, if his knee isn't giving him any problem, may turn out to be the second best player on clay this season, after Rafa. Just look at how he beat Almagro and Melzer, he chose the right moments to approach the net, he really played some intelligent tennis. I'm not sure that Nole, Fed or Murray could beat him on clay this year. I hope Ferrer can land in the other quarters of the draw away from Rafa, so that he has better chances of defending his points and he has chances to move to no.5 in the rankings if he does well at RG.

luckystar , 4/26/11 5:09 PM

I have already made my case that Ferrer should not be ignored in the upcoming Masters tournaments in this clay season. He is playing some of the best tennis of his career and can give anyone a real fight. People ignore them at their own risk.

I think what we are hearing is called hyperbole. The assumption that someone like Nole has almost mythic abilities to take down Rafa on clay, the idea that winning a set off Rafa means that this player is unbeatable on clay and of course, how utterly boring it must be if Rafa keeps on winning.

Honestly, it's all talk until the players get on the court and start playing at Madrid. Rafa's record speaks for itself, which is why he doesn't have to talk himself up. I say let's wait for the tournament to begin and see the matches before we decide who has the best chance to possibly give Rafa a challenge on clay.

Nativenewyorker , 4/26/11 10:21 PM

Ferrer has Rafa on his mind too much. It's true that they're friends and that David is a great guy both in victory and defeat but it must piss him off like hell to lose a final time and time again. He gave it his best shot in the second set and he did move Rafa all around the court but he somehow loses in some points.
I think, in the Barcelona final, with 4-4 on the scoreboard in the 2nd set he missed an easy shot on the net to put himself 5-4 up.. same thing happened in MC, he missed some easy shots after doing all the hard work of putting Rafa out of position.
I think these bad misses really stick in his mind, normally he would never miss these type of shots.
I'm saying this because the same thing could happen against Novak- when you play against these amazing players you just have to capitalise your easy 'killing shots'.

Shireling , 4/27/11 10:59 AM

I don't agree. Ferrer will only miss those shots against two guys - Fed and Rafa. Ferrer has never beaten Fed, not even once and he simply has too much respect for Fed. At best he can only take a set off Fed, like he did last year at the Madrid semifinal and at 2009 Cincy. On clay, since their first meeting in Stuggart where Ferrer first beat Rafa, Ferrer has never beaten Rafa on clay since. Ferrer simply has too much respect for both Fed and Rafa.

Against anyone else on clay, Ferrer has no such problem. He had beaten Nole on clay before, so I don't expect him showing too much respect and lose the match. Likewise against Murray or Sod or whoever.

luckystar , 4/27/11 11:26 AM

True lucky,
Fed's is more or less (for sure much less now than before) in everybody's mind.Ferrer, as the hard fighting guy that he is, struggles to compete against players with this aura of invincibility.
As to the same thing happenning with Nole, we have to wait and see if they meet on clay this year :)

Shireling , 4/27/11 11:45 AM

I fail to see or understand how is it that Murray is suddenly a bigger threat than Nole on clay!? Don't mean any disrespect, but what did he win on clay? If nothing, Novak has a masters on clay, SFs in RG (running constantly to Rafa there, I feel he was worth and deserving of playing finals on both occasions had the draw fairy been little more forgiving :)) ) and great and tight matches with Rafa. He proved he can play on that surface. I think Ferrer and Almagro are more dangerous than Andy. As for Nole's current abilities on clay, we'll have to wait and see. In fact, the first indication of them is coming in just a few hours, so let's be patient.

danica , 4/27/11 12:48 PM

Nole, keep the unbeaten streak alive! Hope you win Belgrade to add up more confidence specially now that the fight is shifted to Clay.

Ajde !!!!

Raindrops , 4/27/11 1:46 PM

it is not the question of whether Nole will win Belgrade because IMO he has no competition there and the trophy should be his in a fairly easy is only a question whether Nole will be made to work harder for his wins than what was the case on hard courts...lifting trophy in BG is in Nole's hands and there is no doubt about it...

natashao , 4/27/11 1:59 PM

Murray playing the way he played at that MC final can threaten Nole or Fed or Ferrer, provided that 1) he can consistently play like that throughout the whole match, at least a best of three sets match; 2) his elbow is OK.

Of course he has yet to prove that he can play like that consistently. Also we have to see how Nole plays on clay this season, and that's why I say I Iike to see a Nole/Murray match on clay this season. Also interesting will be Nole/Rafa; Nole/Fed and Nole/Ferrer. Murray/Fed; Murray/Ferrer and Fed/Ferrer will be interesting too.

luckystar , 4/27/11 2:03 PM

Sorry, I mean MC semifinal and not final, for Murray.

luckystar , 4/27/11 2:06 PM

I guess Novak was a bit rusty loosing the first set against this Ungur (has anyone heard of this guy before?)

Shireling , 4/27/11 10:47 PM

Djokovic did NOT lose the first set!

RickyDimon , 4/28/11 1:04 AM

Oh, then either I'm interpreting the info wrongly or it must be wrong at:
It says Djokovic - Ungur 6-7, 6-3, 6-4...
but yeah, now I've checked elsewhere and it says 6-2 6-3
Sorry for that, next time I'll check directly on the tournaments's site.

Shireling , 4/28/11 11:42 AM

that's the scoreline by which ungur beat ramirez to earn his spot to play djokovic.

homos , 4/28/11 12:27 PM

OH, right you are homos.. thx
(shame, shame)

Shireling , 4/28/11 2:39 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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