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The BMW Tennis Championship: “Double” Your Pleasure… 4

Posted on March 19, 2010 by JA Allen

Underway this week in Sunrise, Florida, the BMW Tennis Championship Tournament enjoys “double” the normal excitement. In addition to providing superlative singles matches, some exciting top-ranked doubles duos are on hand to add another layer of exhilarating tennis.

Doubles play offers tennis aficionados with a real taste of full-scale tennis action. Although “doubles” often finds itself overlooked, wicked serving coupled with fast-paced net play and subtle, yet aggressive, team-play tactics make these matches true fan favorites.

Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes accept the trophy after winning the 2009 French Open Championship in doubles.

Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes accept the trophy after winning the 2009 French Open Championship in doubles.

At Sunrise this week expect to see some first-rate doubles action provided by teams whose credentials have been built by winning the big events on tour:

#1 Seed –– Dloughy/Paes

Lukas Dloughy and Leander Paes are seeded No. 1 at BMW. Individually ranked Nos. 5 and 6 respectively in doubles play, while owning the overall world No. 5 team ranking in doubles, this two-some leads the pack of talented teams taking the court this week at Sunrise.

In 2009 they won two Grand Slams––the U.S. Open and the French Open. So far this year Dloughy and Paes have made it to the finals at Dubai, the quarterfinals of the 2010 Australian Open, the quarterfinals at Sydney and the finals at Brisbane. They are seeking their first win of the season at Sunrise.

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BMW Tennis Championship: The French Connection 1

Posted on March 12, 2010 by JA Allen
Frenchman Gael Monfils is known for his pure athleticism on court.

Frenchman Gael Monfils who won the BMW in 2007 is known for his pure athleticism on court.

The French love it in Sunrise, Florida.  Since the tournament’s inception in 2004, a dozen top-ranked Frenchmen have participated in the BMW Tennis Championship Tournament, some coming back year after year.

The reasons they keep returning –– great competition, outstanding hospitality, appreciative crowds and hope for a great springboard into the rest of the season.

In 2007 a young up-and-comer Gael Monfils of France won the BMW Tennis Championship trophy, defeating Andreas Seppi of Italy in the final 6-3, 1-6, 6-1. Monfils’ pure athleticism and power made him a crowd favorite as he worked his way through the draw.

Monfils followed this triumph in Florida with a trip to the finals of the Hypo Group Tennis International Tournament in Poertschach, Austria where he lost to Argentine Juan Monaco.  During the semifinals at Poertschach, Monfils upset Lleyton Hewitt, seeded No. 4, having previously dismissed the No. 2 seed Andy Roddick in the 3rd round of this French Open tune-up event.

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Rising Star Thomaz Bellucci Looks to Break Through 3

Posted on March 11, 2010 by Rob York
2010 Australian Open - Day 2

Thomaz Bellucci's left-handed forehand is already a formidable weapon.

Things a tennis player ought to have by age 22:

Overpowering forehand: Check.
Safe, consistent backhand:
Check.
Heavy, effective serve:
Check.

Lean but stout build (a la Novak Djokovic): Check
At least one tour title: Check
Deep run in a major: Uhm …

Currently No. 32, Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci is one of the least-known players in the world’s top 50. That has the potential to change — and soon — but whether or not it does will largely depend on factors other than his physical gifts.

The tools are there, and have already been demonstrated in the young Brazilian’s two career titles, last year at Gstaad in August, then in February in Santiago. Of these two clay court wins, his result in Switzerland would have to be considered the more impressive in terms of volume, as he came through qualifying to win seven matches and take his first title.

Though rather fortunate that the very tough German Nicolas Kiefer withdrew after winning the first set from Bellucci, the young Brazilian scored several impressive wins in the process: He topped the No. 2 Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka fell in the first round, then Russia’s mini-Nadal, Igor Andreev in the semis, and finally German Andreas Beck in the final. In doing so, he added his first tour title to his six Challenger wins. Read the rest of this entry →

Sebastian Grosjean: A Little Man in a Big Man’s Game 8

Posted on March 10, 2010 by Rob York

If you’re a tennis follower, you’ve probably heard it before: Little guys don’t have the power to reach the top of the game.

BNP Paribas Open.

Sébastien Grosjean has long been known as one of the game's speediest players.

If any “little” guy were likely to disprove that notion it’d have been Sébastien Grosjean. Now 31, Grosjean stands at 5’9” and weighs in at about 160 pounds. Now 31, he’s been a dangerous presence on the tour for more than a decade, thanks to his great speed, surprisingly punchy serve and ability to hit generate explosive forehands that belied his size.

He has been a regular, if not constant presence in the game since he introduced himself to the tennis-viewing public in 1998, reaching the fourth round on the lawns of Wimbledon. There he fell to Pete Sampras, who certainly knew a thing or two about grass, and the following year he reached his first ever Masters Series final in Miami.

In the early goings of the decade the Frenchman ironically nicknamed “Big John” established himself as a big threat on all surfaces, winning his first tournament on the grass of Halle in 2000 and the semis of both the Australian Open and Roland Garros the following year.

It’s through his 2001 RG result that Grosjean first attracted international attention, while earning his place as a footnote in tennis history. Facing none other than Andre Agassi in front of a hometown crowd, the young Frenchman appeared headed for quick exit, having been outmuscled in the first set 6-1. Read the rest of this entry →

BMW Tennis Championship: Mikhail Youzhny Leads Top-Ranked Field 4

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. Read the rest of this entry →

2009 BMW Tennis Championship: A Stepping Stone for Robin Soderling 3

Posted on March 02, 2010 by Rob York
The 2009 BMW Tournament was a breakout event for Robin Soderling.

The 2009 BMW Tournament was a breakout event for Robin Soderling.

Tomas Berdych and Robin Soderling are both representative players of the current generation on the ATP Tour.

First, there’s their common height and bulk: the Swede Soderling is listed at 6’4” and 192 pounds on the ATP Tour Web site, while Berdych is listed at 6’5” and 200 pounds.

Secondly, we have their game plans: The 25-year-old Soderling and the 24-year-old Berdych both serve big and hit hard off both wings, and like so many players today the centerpieces of their games are big forehands. The Czech’s is a bit flatter, and the Swede’s requires a bit more backswing, but both men are rightly considered to be among the hardest hitters around.

And by the time the two met in the finals of the BMW Tennis Championship last March, they could be considered to be in a similar phase in their careers. Soderling had broken through in 2003 by reaching his first tour final and the third round of Wimbledon, while Berdych’s big intro was in 2004, when he won his first title and beat Roger Federer at the Olympics.

Despite their early promise, however, their results were stagnant, with Berdych winning just four titles by early ’09 and Soderling only three. Their games had come to be known for one-dimensional power hitting, and both were struggling just to win matches in the early goings of ’09.

Berdych had pushed Federer to five sets at the Australian Open, and then won only one more match. Soderling took a 4-5 record into the event, and had to go through qualifying just to make the main draw of this unique event. Read the rest of this entry →

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