If you say someone took a "beat down" many images come to mind. There's the person stomped by others laying on the ground bleeding. There's the baseball team that was beaten 14-0. The basketball team that was on the wrong side of a 130-75 score. In the sport of tennis beat downs can take many forms. A 6-0, 6-0 final score in a best of three match, a double bagel as we call it, would be considered a beat down. There were two beat downs administered yesterday and neither one was a double bagel.
The men's final in Dubai was won by Novak Djokovic. He defeated Roger Federer 6-3, 6-3. That score is sometimes called a virtual bagel. I'm not exactly sure why but it's common to see it called that now. That said the final score of the best of three final was indeed a double bagel.
You see Roger Federer was never in the match. With surgical skill Novak Djokovic executed his game plan to perfection. The commentators talked about Federer's backhand not working at all and that his forehand wasn't doing much either. What they didn't say was that Djokovic simply wasn't allowing them to work. They were more focused on Federer resurrecting himself in the second set and winning their hoped for third set. It wasn't going to happen.
Djokovic's play in the first set was nothing short of spectacular. It seemed he couldn't miss and lost no opportunity to flummox his opponent who was like a soldier under enemy attack with no foxhole nearby in which to take cover. You don't play the way Djokovic did without coming back to earth and when Federer got the break early in the second set it looked as if the commentators would get what they wanted. Instead the second set gave us a more methodical and devastating performance by Djokovic who simply continued the beat down he was administering and took it to it's logical conclusion.
Once again I have to say a soft draw does not a champion make. Federer opened against Somdev Devvarman. He next faced Marcel Granollers. When Richard Gasquet defeated Gilles Simon setting himself up to face Federer in the semi finals he ensured that Federer would make the final without facing a seed.
Djokovic opened against unseeded Michael Llodra and went on to face Feliciano Lopez, Florian Mayer and the #3 seed Tomas Berdych in the semi final. Berdych retired at 2-4 in the third set citing injury but he did so after forcing and winning the first set 7-6(5) tiebreak. I didn't see the match but Berdych lost the second set 6-2. Still he took a set from Djokovic who had cruised through his early round opponents. In the end Berdych did something Federer couldn't do against Djokovic.
To be clear I'm not a Djokovic fan and don't think I ever will be but you have to give credit where credit is due. The man played his ass off in that final and didn't allow Federer to settle into a pattern. It was a masterful performance by Djokovic and he deserved to hoist that trophy.
Vera Zvonareva and Caroline Wozniacki, the computer ranked world #1. I'd seen a lot of this tournament and noticed that Vera was playing very, very well. She opened against Dominika Cibulkova whom she defeated in straight sets. After that the going got tough. Vera defeated a determined Daniela Hantuchova in three tough sets 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-5. That match was followed by a semi final against Jelena Jankovic that again went three sets 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. That match was harder than it looked. JJ is always a challenge with her deflections and distractions and when Vera lost that second set 2-6 it looked as if she was going to be out of the tournament. What looks like a routine 6-4 third set wasn't. It was an all out war and Vera rallied herself mentally and came from behind in that set to win it.
Meanwhile Wozniacki was having an easier time of it. She opened against Nadia Petrova who appeared on court as Bad Nadia, best friend of Bad Sveta Kuznetsova. Bad Nadia lost in straight sets 3 and 2. Next up was Flavia Pennetta who tried but ended up doing nothing but playing the part every pusher wants their opponent to play letting Wozniacki set the pace and tone of the match. Hows this for a statistic? The winners to unforced errors was 35/7 for Wozniacki and 33/21 for Pennetta. And Flavia lost 6-2, 6-0.
Wozniacki's semi final was against Marion Bartoli. Bartoli defeated Wozniacki the last time they met and this match was expected to be a doozie. Instead a fitter Marion lost 6-1, 6-1 and was not able to change her strategy against Wozniacki. That led to Wozniacki making the final after having been able to have her way with three players who usually play better than they did against her but once again fell victim to a pusher. I have to say that if you think I'm nuts because I say Kim Clijsters is the older more experienced version of Caroline Wozniacki try and see the Bartoli match. I had to remind myself a few times that it was Wozniacki and not Clijsters playing Bartoli.
In my opinion the final would hinge on whether Vera would be able to play her own game and not do what the other players had done. She started the match with a break and after that never looked back. Vera's record in finals is dismal but yesterday she showed mental strength and played a match that had her opponent throwing racquets and talking to herself. Wozniacki found herself in positions where she was at her weakest and Vera was at her best. Vera moved her around the court like nobody's business and even when pressed didn't falter. It was a masterful performance from a woman who is best known for her waterworks and drama on court. At the end of the match she ran over and hugged her coach. It was the least she could do.
Gisela Dulko, looks quite stylish in her sombrero.
Nicolas Almagro came into the final as the hottest player on the Golden Swing. He'd won two previous tournaments and was looking to add Acapulco to become the second man to win three clay tournaments in a row, something some other guy from Spain did back in 2009. He was going to face defending champion David Ferrer who had defeated Alexandr Dolgopolov in the semi finals. That match was expected to be a real throw down but in the end a mentally and physically tired Dolgopolov, who had also played the Golden Swing had nothing left and while winning the first set went down quietly after that. The final score was 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 for Ferrer.
Ferrer owns Almagro. The head to head coming in was 4-0 in favor of Ferrer. It is now 5-0. Still Almagro gave it his all and it was nice seeing a decent clay court match this early in the year.
Juan Martin del Potro defeated Janko Tipsarevic at Delray Beach. After his semi final win last evening Juan, breathing hard, said he was tired and also said the same thing today. Still he had enough in the tank to defeat Tipsarevic who seemed not to know what to do against the Argentine. Del Potro is not the guy to light up the court and I had to fight to stay awake. I'm sure Del Potro is happy to have a new trophy to add to his collection.
With the men's final in Dubai and the women's final in Doha taking place at almost the same time I ended up watching the ATP match and auditing the women's match knowing it would be on later if it was going to be worth my while to see it. Even though I wasn't watching the women every minute on TennisTV I knew every time Piotr came down to counsel his daughter. Imagine my confusion when none of those visits were shown on the Tennis Channel replay? It couldn't have been for time issues since the match wasn't overly long. I don't understand the black out on Piotr.