Tennis Server ATP/WTA Pro Tennis Showcase - Legg Mason Classic 2010 - Baghdatis and Nalbandian Into Finals - Xavier Malisse, Marcos Baghdatis, David Nalbandian, Marin Cilic
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August 7, 2010

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Legg Mason Classic 2010, Washington, DC, USA
August 7, 2010
Editorial by Jane Voigt. Photography by Pablo Sanfrancisco.

Jane Voigt Photo
Jane Voigt

Baghdatis and Nalbandian Into Finals
 
August 7, 2010 -- Who knew that Tomas Berdych could be so aggrieved that he'd tell the media he might not return to the Legg Mason Tennis Classic next year? Making comments like that, immediately following a match loss, is like tweeting into the ears of the world... the Associated Press.
 
And so it happened. AP ran the story, as it should have.
 
"If you like the tournament, if you like the place you always want to come back," the now ousted #1 seed said. "But if you get an experience like that, we will see. Maybe I'm not going to come next year."
 
Berdych finished late on that rainy Thursday night -- 11:15 PM -- and he didn't sleep until 2 AM. His Friday start time was noon. Berdych felt dissed and tired throughout the first set of a three-set loss.
 
Jeff Newman, Legg Mason's tournament director, said he'd scheduled Berdych first because he finished before Marcos Baghdatis on Thursday, which was at 11:38 PM. Newman decided that Baghdatis, the #9 seed, deserved the preference solely on finish times.
 
"We tried to do the best we could, focusing on what's best for our No. 1 seed," Newman started. "Ultimately, I think, players react when they lose a match. Hopefully, he'll cool down and feel better. He's a great player and one we hope to have every year."
 
If Newman focused on the #1 seed why wasn't Berdych given a later start time? The twenty-five minutes that separated Berdych's and Baghdatis's finishing times was negligible in the big scheme of the tour. Had Newman actually focused on what was best for the first seed, he would have slated Berdych for the late afternoon session.
 
Newman must have reasoned that his decision was rational while Berdych's dismay ended up sounding like sour grapes.
 
Berdych and Radek Stepanek rectified some of the mess by winning their semifinal doubles match today over Andy Ram and Julian Knowle 57 62 10-4. However, Berdych seemed reluctant to speak about the fray.
 
"There's a year to go," Berdych said, his head down. "I was quite sad yesterday. I will think and then decide."
 
Berdych added that no one from the tournament had spoken to him since the story broke. He showed more interest in diverting attention toward his doubles victory and the upcoming Toronto tournament.
 
"We do well in Davis Cup, but it's nice now to be in our first final in a tour match," Stepanek interjected.
 
Marcos Baghdatis, however, benefited neatly from the late start on Friday. He defeated Verdasco in the quarterfinals and today defeated Xavier Malisse 62 76(4) to make his way to the 2010 Legg Mason Singles Final tomorrow -- his first here in DC.
 
Baghdatis was happy for his victory and proud of how he played the Belgian.
 
"I played really smart," Baghdatis said confidently. "I keep ball in court and down the middle mostly. I'm fitter than him. I went for shots at the right time. I didn't give him angles for his forehand."
 
Mid-way through the second set Baghdatis rolled his left ankle and stayed down on the court. Fans hushed as many probably thought this could be the end of the match.
 
"I was a bit scared," Baghdatis said, looking frail in the moment. "I didn't want to stand up. I hope it won't be bad tomorrow."
 
Before tournament officials reached Baghdatis, Malisse arrived at the player's side carrying a bag of ice.
 
"I know he has been injured. I saw he twisted his ankle a bit and don't want it to get more inflamed." Malisse said. "You don't want to win it that way. He played good after that."
 
According to Malisse, Baghdatis served well and made him hit one to two extra shots. Coming off two three-set matches, Malisse admitted he was tired, too.
 
One upshot of Malisse's loss: he won't have to qualify at Rogers Cup because of ATP Tour policy. It states that since Malisse played in a tour semifinal the Saturday prior to the start of another tour stop he receives a 'special exempt' entry into the main draw.
 
"Yeah, that's a positive," Malisse said, smiling. "I get a free week."
 
Malisse's ranking will move up approximately twelve spots to #50 on Monday.
 
Marin Cilic had a bad night on Stadium Court while wildcard David Nalbandian kept up his steady climb in confidence, defeating the Croatian 62 62 in the second semifinal of the day.
 
The #4 seed Cilic and highest ranked player (#13) in the semifinals served lukewarm for a man who had dominated with his serve in previous rounds. But his opponent played a big part in Cilic's service and match nightmares.
 
"I served better yesterday," Cilic said. "Tonight I was not able to hit my lines."
 
When Cilic couldn't get the point going on his first serve, Nalbandian punished him and the ball on the second. Cilic won a miserly 26% of points off his second serve. As the match drew to a close, his first serve failed time after time. For as badly as Cilic did on second service points won, Nalbandian won twice as many -- 74%.
 
"He returned really well," Cilic added. "They were deep and hard. I couldn't get control of the points."
 
The pressure from Nalbandian was tremendous. He played well from the start of the match and relied completely on a dominant strategy from the baseline. Nalbandian controlled the court with brilliant forehands and angles. When rallies extended beyond four strikes of the ball, Cilic committed an error and Nalbandian chalked up another point. At the end of the first set Cilic had committed 16 unforced errors and earned 2 winners.
 
Although the steadier player over the last few years has been Marin Cilic -- he's been ranked in the top 20 since January 2009 -- David Nalbandian has shown the tennis world his special brilliance in the past. His serve is efficient, but not his biggest asset. However, he is deceptively quick, extremely strong, and one of the best strikers of the ball.
 
"When I'm hitting this good," he began, "it's tough for everybody."
 
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have known of Nalbandian's penchant to beat up on top five players. Nalbandian held a positive head-to-head record against Federer up until a couple years ago when the Swiss figured out the conundrum that was the Argentine. But at any time, David Nalbandian can bring a game that will knock out a top contender. And, interestingly, Nalbandian would be the first one to say this.
 
"He'll be hard to beat over the next couple of weeks," Cilic added forebodingly.
 

 
[8] Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) {white shirt} d Xavier Malisse (BEL) 62 76(4)
 
Xavier Malisse Legg Mason Tennis
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Marcos Baghdatis Legg Mason Tennis

 
 
[WC] David Nalbandian (ARG) {black bandana} d [4] Marin Cilic (CRO) 62 62
 
Marin Cilic Legg Mason Tennis
David Nalbandian Legg Mason Tennis
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Marin Cilic Legg Mason Tennis
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David Nalbandian Marin Cilic Legg Mason Tennis
David Nalbandian Legg Mason Tennis
Marin Cilic Legg Mason Tennis

 
Earlier Coverage from this Event:
 
August 6, 2010 Legg Mason Classic: The Big Bounce - Xavier Malisse, Tomas Berdych, Marcos Baghdatis, Fernandos Verdasco, David Nalbandian, Gilles Simon, Marin Cilic, Janko Tipsarevic
August 5, 2010 Legg Mason Classic: Xavier Malisse, John Isner, Fernando Verdasco, Ryan Sweeting, Tomas Berdych, Andrey Golubev
August 4, 2010 Legg Mason Classic: Heat on the Hard Courts of America - Marcos Baghdatis, Horacio Zeballos, Alejandro Falla, Lleyton Hewitt, Janko Tipsarevic, Sam Querrey
August 3, 2010 Legg Mason Classic: Returning To The Flock - Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, Fernando Verdasco, Mike Bryan, Bob Bryan, Viktor Troicki, Michael Berrer, Grega Zemlja
August 2, 2010 Legg Mason Classic: Legg Mason Rocks the Creek - Ryan Sweeting, James Blake, David Nalbandian, Rajeev Ram, Illya Marchenko, Rainer Schuettler
 

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