The Worlds Favourite Playground

Wednesday, Feb 26th

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It was a great day for the seeded players in the men’s draw as all 15 seeded players who took to court emerged victorious from their respective first and second round encounters. World no.2 Roger Federer led the way by putting in a virtuoso performance against India’s Somdev Devvarman, thumping the qualifier 6-2, 6-1, 6-1.  4th seed David Ferrer and 6th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are his possible semi-final and quarter-final opponents and both of them prevailed in their 2nd round matches in straight sets. 8th seed Janko Tipsarevic and 10th seed Marin Cilic rounded off the top 10 with easy victories to move into the round of 32. 2008 semi-finalist Gael Monfils continued to play some of the best to take out Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis in 4 tight sets 6-7(5) 6-4 7-6(4) 6-2.

World no.2 Roger Federer has been playing extremely aggressive tennis on the red clay in a bid to reverse his fortunes at Roland Garros. That strategy failed in Madrid and Rome as he produced numerous errors to hand victories to Kei Nishikori and Rafael Nadal. Although the Swiss Maestro made 33 unforced errors in his match against Devvarman, he more than made up for it with 54 scintillating winners to both sides of the court.

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Day 4 of the Rome Masters was a bit anti-climactic as two top players in the form of Stanislas Wawrinka and Andy Murray ended up withdrawing with injuries. Defending champion Rafael Nadal continued his campaign with a dominating victory over homeboy Fabio Fognini in straight sets. The only excitement of the day came in the way of Jerzy Janowicz’s upset of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 4th seed David Ferrer's three set win against compatriot Fernanando Verdasco.

Rafael Nadal continued his brilliant return to tennis after his 7 month long absence from the ATP Tour with another comprehensive victory in the 2nd round of the 2013 Italian Open. The win came against local hope and world no. 25 Fabio Fognini after a little over an hour on court 6-1, 6-2.

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The legendary 'King of Clay' Rafael Nadal hasn't dominated the Madrid Masters in quite so similar a vein as he has the rest of the summer clay court season over the years, and the Spanish matador appeared to be on the verge of crashing out of this year's event when he went down a set and a break to compatriot David Ferrer, but Nadal's never say die attitude came to the fore once again as he battled back to win the second set in a tiebreak before romping to victory in the final set.

Nadal and Ferrer, two out of the top three seeds remaining in the Mutua Madrid Masters following the shock early exits of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, did battle in the quarter-finals of their local event with the latter seeded higher than his more illustrious compatriot, who was still working his way back to form and fitness.

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The seeds continued to topple at the 2013 Madrid Masters as world no.2 and defending champion Roger Federer joined his arch rival Novak Djokovic in the ‘upsets’ category after his defeat at the hands of Japan’s Kei Nishikori in three sets on Thursday.  5th seed Rafael Nadal, however, was in his usual ‘king of clay’ mode and dominated Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny 6-2, 6-3 to set up an all Spanish quarterfinal against 4th seed David Ferrer, who came through in three hard fought sets against German Tommy Haas.

The Swiss Maestro’s swift dismissal of Radek Stepanek in the 2nd round gave a sign that he had returned to tennis without any ring rust. That belief proved to be misplaced as he was shown the door by youngster Nishikori in 95 minutes 4-6, 6-1, 2-6.

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Following Novak Djokovic’s exit on Tuesday, the top players were in damage control on day 3 of the 2013 Mutua Madrid Masters. Leading the way was two time champion Rafael Nadal, who saw off Frenchman Benoit Paire in two easy sets 6-3, 6-4. ‘Comeback player of 2012’ Tommy Haas continued from his straight set thrashing of Andreas Seppi to defeat Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo 6-3, 7-5. 4th seed David Ferrer, 6th seed Tomas Berdych and 7th seed Jo Wilfried Tsonga were the other members of the top 10 to stay in the hunt for the Masters 1000 title.

5th seed Rafael Nadal seemed totally unruffled by the seeding controversy that he finds himself mired in at the upcoming French Open and decided to let his racquet do the talking as he edged out Paire in 80 minutes to move into the third round. In a lopsided match, the Spaniard won close to 80% of his first serve points and looked to have almost returned to his great form of previous seasons as he chased down the ball at both ends of the court.

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Third seed David Ferrer has been one of top 5 men’s players on the planet ever since he reached his career best world no. 4 position back in 2008. Despite that, there has been a huge gap between him and the ‘big 4’ players in front of him evidenced by the fact that he has been unable to defeat any of them in a final on twelve separate occasions with one of those losses coming against his opponent in the 2013 Miami Masters final – Andy Murray.

The duo had met 11 times over their careers prior to this meeting and the Scot led the head to head count rather narrowly, 6-5. With the Spaniard looking better and better as the tournament progressed and the 2nd seeded Murray looking a bit shaky, it looked like a perfect opportunity for Ferrer to finally improve that lopsided record against the top players.

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German veteran Tommy Haas is one of the lesser known members of 17 time Major winner Roger Federer’s ‘lost generation’ of tennis players that includes the likes of Andy Roddick, Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt. Players that could have won many more titles and majors had it not been for Federer’s great rise to the top and 5 year reign as world no.1. Roddick, Safin and Hewitt have a few slams to their credit and also a world no.1 ranking. Haas, on the other hand, who was up there with the Swiss Maestro as far as talent was concerned was never able to live up to the promise he once showed, even though he did manage to reach the world no.2 position and a couple of semi-final appearances at the Grand Slams.

2012 was the year where he made a comeback to the tour with a victory in Halle (against Federer) and jumped 184 places to get back into the top 20. With his defeat of world no.1 Novak Djokovic and 11th seed Giles Simon in quick succession in straight sets, the 34 year old German, became the feel good story of the Miami Masters. Could he, after all these years, manage to pull off something special and win the Sony Open?

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