Tuesday, March 02, 2010

ATP February Awards: While the Cats Were Away

Old ones. Young ones. They all feasted in February.

With the "big cat" (hey, is that a sly Miloslav Mecir reference?) likes of Roger and Rafa out of commission after the Australian Open, February was a time for the mice to inherit the ATP earth: a veteran and former #1 emerged from the shadows, an Aussie Open semifinalist from Croatia was the first man to notch two titles on the season, a Latvian lived up to his advance billing, a Serb took a tentative step toward reclaiming his vacated role as the ATP's "Prince," and a pair of twin brothers inched closer to becoming the all-time winningest doubles team in men's tennis history.

A thumbnail sketch of the past month:

**2010 February Awards**
1. Juan Carlos Ferrero/ESP
...by the end of the 2003 season, JCF had notched eleven career titles and spent time at #1 in the rankings. Since then, until a month ago, he'd added just one more singles crown (last year in Casablanca) in eight trips to finals from 2004-09. In the final three weeks of February, though, he won fourteen straight matches (his best run since a career-best sixteen straight in '02), reached three finals and won two titles. Who saw that coming?
2. David Ferrer/ESP
...with Nadal away, Ferrer joined JCF to give the tour a two-headed Spanish monster in February. He faced off with JCF in the finals of both Buenos Aires and Acapulco, and reached an additional SF at the start of the month.
3. Novak Djokovic/SRB
...with Murray a virtual non-entity since Oz (he lost early in the U.A.E. to Janko Tipsarevic), Djokovic defended his Dubai title, solidified his #2 ranking and made a case for being the top non-Roger/Rafa force on tour... if he could just find a way to not wilt away in the latter stages of the slams, that is.
4. Bob & Mike Bryan/USA
...the twins won their 58th title as a duo in Dubai and stand behind only Woodbridge & Woodforde on the all-time ATP title list.
5. Ernests Gulbis/LAT
...the 21-year old Latvian finally won his first career title in Delray Beach, vexing Ivo Karlovic in the final to grab the first of many tangible prizes after flashing such intriguing talent on occasion in the past.
HM- Marin Cilic (CRO), Sam Querrey (USA), Lukasz Kubot & Oliver Marach (POL/AUT)

1. Marin Cilic, CRO
2. Sam Querrey, USA
3. Lukasz Kubot & Oliver Marach, POL/AUT
4. Fernando Verdasco, ESP
5. Robin Soderling, SWE
6. Julien Benneteau, FRA
7. John Isner, USA
8. Mikhail Youzhny, RUS
9. Juan Monaco, ARG
10. Jurgen Melzer, AUT
HM- Albert Montanes, ESP

1. Ernests Gulbis, LAT
2. Philipp Petzschner, GER
3. Rohan Bopanna & Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, IND/PAK
4. Leonardo Mayer, ARG
5. Somdev Devvarman, IND
6. Ivan Dodig, CRO
7. Guillaume Rufin, FRA
8. Jeremy Chardy, FRA
9. Josselin Ouanna, FRA
10. Eduardo Schwank, ARG
HM- Daniel Brands, GER & Lu Yen-Hsun, TPE

1. Thomasz Bellucci, BRA
2. Michael Berrer, GER
3. Lukasz Kubot, POL (singles)
4. Joao Souza, BRA
5. Marcelo Melo, BRA (singles)
6. Mischa Zverev, GER
7. Denis Istomin, UZB
8. Horacio Zeballos, ARG
9. Lukas Lacko, SVK
10. Stephane Robert, FRA
HM- Philipp Marx & Igor Zelanay, GER/SVK

1. Juan Carlos Ferrero, ESP
2. David Ferrer, ESP
3. Bob & Mike Bryan, USA
4. Michael Llodra, FRA
5. Feliciano Lopez, ESP
HM- Simon Aspelin/Paul Hanley (SWE/AUS) & Daniel Nestor/Nenad Zimonjic (CAN/SRB)

1. Juan Carlos Ferrero, ESP
2. Marcos Baghdatis, CYP
3. Mardy Fish, USA
4. James Blake, USA
5. Taylor Dent, USA

1. Andy Murray, GBR
2. Andy Roddick, USA
3. Nikolay Davydenko, RUS
4. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, FRA
5. Juan Martin del Potro, ARG
HM- Gilles Simon, FRA & Radek Stepanek, CZE

History Repeats Itself
Juan Carlos Ferrero reaches back to his glory days of nearly a decade ago, dominating the tour for three weeks with fourteen straight wins and two titles.
A Good Year's Work in Less Than Two Months
Marin Cilic followed up his AO semifinal run and Top 10 ranking by becoming the first man to win two titles in 2010 when he claimed the Zagreb crown.
No Longer Simply "The Best American Player Not Married to Brooklyn Decker"

(hey, eyes down here)

...Sam Querrey sweeps the singles and doubles titles in Memphis. All right, you can let your eyes wander again.

Spaniard vs. Spaniard (Non-Rafa Division)
Juan Carlos Ferrero and David Ferrer matched up in back-to-back finals to end the month. JCF won in Buenos Aires, then Ferrer ended his countryman's 14-match win streak in Acapulco a week later.

Querrey & Friend Do Memphis
...no, Sam didn't marry Jessica Gomes outside Graceland or anything. But he DID experience something exceptional in Memphis, though. He defeated countryman John Isner in the singles final, but also teamed with the rangy American to win the doubles title. Is that considered a "friendship-saving" outcome?

And, finally...

"Sometimes you're winning easily; sometimes you're finding a way to win. That's being a champion, I guess." - Roger Federer

Yeah, he didn't play in February (and he uttered that gem in January). But, come now, we can't have an ATP update without a word from Roger, right?

All for now.

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