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BMW Tennis Championship: Mikhail Youzhny Leads Top-Ranked Field

Posted on March 09, 2010 by JA Allen
Mikhail Youzhny during recent Davis Cup play vs. India

Mikhail Youzhny during recent Davis Cup play vs. India

Currently ranked No. 13 in the world, Mikhail Youzhny, nicknamed Misha, heads the list of exciting players entered in the BMW Tennis Championship being held in Sunrise, Florida starting March 14th.  The field this year includes a record 13 of the top 50 players in the world.

The Russian Youzhny is a crowd-pleaser who loves to entertain and make fans fully relish the action unfolding before them.  He has been playing tennis professionally for over 10 years and at age 27 he shows no signs of letting up.

When he is healthy, Youzhny is a challenge for any player on tour because of his aggressive nature and his ability to hit the ball deep, hard and flat, often taking it on the rise and pushing his way forward into the court. His liberal use of drop shots keeps opponents on edge because the Russian is able to change direction and disguise his shots extremely well.

Youzhny's Special Salute after winning a match.

Youzhny's Special Salute after winning a match.

Tennis is never dull when Youzhny is playing.  When he wins he offers a special salute to the fans in the stands by placing the racket on his head to serve as a hat or cap while he salutes the crowd on all four sides of the arena.  It is a ritual for the Russian at the conclusion of all victorious matches.

Highly emotional and excitable, on April 1, 2008, Youzhny was a giant hit on news broadcasts around the world  and especially on Youtube when, after missing a shot that would have given him a break against Spain’s Nicolas Almagro, Youzhny struck himself in the head with his racket 3 times –– enough so to cause his head to bleed profusely! The video was seen by thousands around the world.

He did go on to win the match, by the way.

Youzhny’s highest ranking was world No. 8, which the Russian achieved in January of 2008 after making it to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open that year.  Like many other players who try to play a full schedule of events on the professional tour, often Misha finds himself slowed by injuries as constant play puts a strain on muscles and joints.

Youzhny, however, is off to a great start in 2010 after retiring prior to his third round match at the Australian Open, suffering from a wrist injury.

Youzhny came back strong at the ATP World Tour Tournament in Rotterdam, making it all the way to the final.   During the tournament in Rotterdam Youzhny shocked the world and Novak Djokovic by defeating the world No. 2 ranked Serb in the semifinals.

Once again, unfortunately, the Russian was forced to retire during his final match with Robin Soderling, this time with a right hamstring injury. Youzhny’s trek to the final in Rotterdam did increase his world ranking to No. 15, up 5 points since the Australian Open.

Youzhny and Djokovic during trophy ceremony in Dubai,

Youzhny and Djokovic during trophy ceremony in Dubai,

The Russian advanced once again to the finals in Dubai where he faced defending champion Djokovic.  Down a set and a break, rain delayed the final match and it had to be carried over to the next day.

Although Youzhny came back and won the second set, he could not sustain the effort and he lost in the third set, allowing Djokovic to retain his crown. Youzhny’s subsequent showing in Dubai catapulted the Russian to world No. 13 as he gets ready to compete at Indian Wells this week.

Although not all of the 13 top 50-ranked players will play at the BMW Tennis Championships because some will survive to continue play at Indian Wells, some will be on hand to thrill the crowds at Sunrise.

It would be a special treat, indeed, should the tennis fans gathered in the stands during the BMW Tennis Championship be allowed to witness the special energy and excitement generated by the Russian Youzhny during his second appearance.

Just like a championship win at Sunrise did for Robin Soderling in 2009, Youzhny might use a great outing at the BMW as a springboard for a break-out year for himself in 2010.

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