Rome Masters: Cilic Shines, Murray, Federer Hungry For Upsets

Marin Cilic was the man of the moment today at Rome Masters as he toppled the few seeds in action on the clay courts after he smoked out Kazakhstan’s Andrey Golubev 6-4 6-2.

The Croatian seeded 11th is billed to clash with Kevin Anderson, a South African who saw off Jürgen Meltzer of Austria, in the second round.

Argentinean Juan Monaco also fell to lowly rated Benoit Paire as the Frenchman won the first set tiebreak 7-4, but Monaco recovered to take the second 6-1 but went down 6-4 in the final set.

Czech Radek Stepanek also suffered a three-set defeat to Italian Potito Starace. Helped by local support, Starace won 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to set up a second round meeting with Roger Federer.

Second seed Federer who arrived earlier due to his early exit by Kei Nishirkori in the Madrid Open last week, said he has been practising and he is motivated and hungry to play some fine tennis again.

The Swiss will be starting fresh on Tuesday after the extra time he got to prepare.

“I arrived much earlier because of second round loss in Madrid,” Federer said. “I have been practising well, my body is well, really hungry and motivated to play again. I hope I can play a good tournament here.”

Andy Murray also had a first round bye and will face Spaniard Marcel Granollers who beat Nioklai Davydenko 6-3, 6-4.

The third seed from Britain said the Rome schedule would suit him better than Madrid where he was eliminated in the quarter-finals by Czech Tomas Berdych.

Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic will hope to make up for an early defeat also in Madrid when he begins in the second round on Tuesday against either Spain’s Albert Montanes or Slovakian Martin Klizan.

Rafael Nadal, winner of four clay court titles already this season after returning from injury, will begin with an Italian opponent in round two, either Fabio Fognini or Andreas Seppi.

Rome Masters: Serena to play Li Na in semis as Nadal ousters Berdych

Serena Williams recorded an easy passage as she majestically strolled into the semi-final of the Rome Masters on Friday when Italian Flavia Pennetta gave up her chance for a place in the semi-finals as she left with a right wrist injury.

Ranked 21, Flavia was treated when she called for medical attention with 3-0 down after which she decided to quit when the scoreline was 4-0  and 40-0 against and in favour of Serena Williams.

According Serena she wasn’t happy with her mode of qualification but it was nice to have a semi-day off.

The American will be meeting China’s Li Na in the semi-final who is the defending champion of the French Open, a match Serena qualified as a test for her playing ability, an ability that won her the Madrid title last week.

Li Na beat Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-1, 7-6 to reach the semis.

Williams is looking forward to the French Open also as she displayed confident ahead of the Open come May 27th.

After being side-lined from July 2010 to June 2011 because of a blood clot in one of her lungs, the world number six said she was now feeling more confident than last summer, when she won back-to-back tournaments before losing in the final at the U.S. Open.

Meanwhile in the men’s game, Rafa  Nadal flowed into the semi-final of the Italian Open in fashion he has never done in months as he struck his mark better with an impressive 6-4 7-5 victory over Czech Tomas Berdych today.

Nadal who is presently rated number three in the world is aiming to clinch the title a sixth time as he came from behind to claim victory against the Czech.

Spaniard David Ferrer will be his next opponent in the semis as Ferrer also edged out Frenchman Richard Gasquest with 7-6 6-3 scoreline.

Later today, World number one Novak Djokovic will be facing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France while Roger Federer, the winner in Madrid for the men’s will face Italian Andreas Seppi.

Federer Beats Murray to claim Dubai title

Fans’ favourite Roger Federer helped himself to a record fifth title when he fought past Britain’s Andy Murray in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open at a packed Dubai Tennis Stadium on Saturday night.

Watched by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirate (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai, and Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman, Dubai Sports Council, for a major part of the first set, the Swiss went on to record a 7-5, 6-4 victory.

The capacity crowd rose to the occasion to welcome Federer as champion for a record fifth time in Dubai following his earlier successes in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007. “I think I played well in the big points tonight and that is what made the difference,” Federer said.

He received the winner’s trophy from Shaikh Hasher Maktoum, Dubai Director of Information and President of Tennis Emirates; Shaikh Ahmad Al Sabah, Chairman, Kuwait Tennis Association; Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Vice-President, Tennis Emirates; Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman, Dubai Duty Free, and other officials.

Making his fourth appearance here, Murray had never previously got past the quarter-finals. But during the course of the week he showed all signs of maintaining his career edge against the former world No 1.

Playing both Djokovic — whom he beat in the semi-finals — and Federer at the same tournament for the first time ever, Murray was broken for the only time in the opening set in the 11th game. That put Federer 6-5 up and then served out 7-5 in 52 minutes.

In the second set, Federer assumed early control with a break in the third to go 2-1, up but squandered the advantage as Murray bounced right back with a break — the first against Federer’s serve in 65 service games — and then hold for a 3-2 lead.

Federer had not previously been broken since the semi-finals in Rotterdam against Nikolay Davydenko last month.

However, Federer was far from finished as he broke Murray a second time when the Scotsman netted a backhand return in the ninth game to enable the second-seeded Swiss to serve out for set and match in an hour and 36 minutes.

Federer received the winner’s cheque of $409,170 (Dh1.5 million).