The trend this weekend in tennis: Firsts and seconds!
Self-described “best friends” David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero met in a final for the second time in two weeks, with Ferrer avenging last weekend’s loss in Argentina with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win in Acapulco. With this victory, Ferrer scored his first title since 2008 and stopped Ferrero from winning an unprecedented three titles in a row on the South American circuit. Unfortunately, Ferrero’s efforts over the past few weeks have earned him a knee injury, and he won’t be joining Ferrer on court this coming weekend for Davis Cup action vs. Switzerland (Nicolas Almagro will be taking his place.)
Also in Acapulco, Venus Williams defended a title for the second week in a row (let’s call it a double-double), coming from a set down to win 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 over first-time finalist Polona Hercog of Slovenia on Saturday night. What an impressive feat – defending on hard courts in the Dubai desert one week, then repeating on Acapulco’s deep red clay the next. The versatile Williams is the WTA’s own Shaun White!
Venus described herself as “cucumber” cool on her WTA blog this week (reminding me of White’s tomato red). She says that her unflappable demeanor makes defending titles a breeze:
The thing about me… I never feel pressure to defend titles. I think that makes me better at defending titles, because whenever I return to a tournament, I usually do pretty well. I guess Dubai and Acapulco is one of my specials…
As for the sombrero… this one’s mine
A rain-delay meant that a nervy Novak Djokovic needed two days to win his second Dubai title in two years – the first time he’s ever defended any title – beating Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 this weekend.
The final was representative of Nole’s struggles all week, but he could joke about it once he had the trophy back in his hands:
“Well, look, obviously this tournament I don’t allow myself to win in straight sets except the first round, you know. Even though when I can finish the job in two sets, I still want to play, you know. Thinking about people who bought tickets and want to stay a bit longer, and I really don’t know what’s going on (laughing).”
Djokovic was not too happy with his serve this weekend, hitting twelve double faults during the match. But he’ll have plenty of time to work on it in March: he’s playing Davis Cup, Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back.
Alisa Kleybanova won her first career title in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, dominating countrywoman Elena Dementieva, 6-3, 6-2 in the finals of the Malaysian Open.
Ernests Gulbis became the second first-time titlist of the weekend, beating Ivo Karlovic 6-2, 6-3 in the finals of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships in Florida.
Rounding out the weekend’s theme of 1s and 2s: Bob and Mike Bryan became the first doubles team in the Open Era to notch 600 wins with their semifinal victory over Taylor Dent/Ryan Harrison in Delray Beach on Saturday. The duo went on to take their 58th title on Sunday vs. Philipp Marx/Igor Zelenay making them the second winning-est team in Open Era history (they’re just four titles away from the Woodies’ record.)