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Saturday Briefing - Stockholm, Moscow

Blake© AFP/Getty ImagesJames Blake faces Jarkko Nieminen for a place in the Stockholm final.

STOCKHOLM SATURDAY PREVIEW - MONFILS & RAONIC TO CLASH, 2006 FINALISTS MEET FOR EIGHTH TIME
A blockbuster clash between the World No. 10 and one of the young stars on the ATP World Tour while the 2006 finalists meet for the fourth time at the If Stockholm Open, in Saturday’s semi-finals. Three of the four semi-finalists are trying to capture their first ATP World Tour title of the season.

The first semi-final pits American James Blake against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen in a battle between two ATP World Tour veterans with excellent history at this tournament. Blake leads their overall head-to-head, 6-1, with that one loss in their last meeting on these same courts in the quarter-finals one year ago (Nieminen won 60 62 and almost twice as many points, 56 to 30, in 50 minutes). Blake won twice against the Finnish native here in the 2006 final and ’07 quarter-finals.  The 31-year-old Blake, a former No. 4 now ranked No. 69, has a 17-2 record at this tournament with titles in 2005-06. The 30-year-old Nieminen, a former No. 13 now ranked at No. 73 (four spots away from Blake), is 21-11 in Stockholm, with runner-up finishes in 2001 and 2006.

The second semi-final features top seed Gael Monfils and No. 6 seed Milos Raonic in a first-time meeting. Monfils sat the last two weeks out with a knee injury, missing Beijing and Shanghai, but he has bounced back here with two quality wins so far, over Bernard Tomic and No. 5 seed Kevin Anderson. He is the only player in the Top 15 without an ATP World Tour title this year and he will try to get one more step closer to shaking that tag here as he takes on 20-year-old Canadian rising star Raonic, who has an 11-1 indoor record this year. Raonic has hit 43 aces in his first three matches in 37 games, saving the only break point he faced against Marcos Baghdatis in the first round. Raonic has three Top 10 wins (3-5) this year but has lost his last four matches against Top 10 players. They were set to play in the San Jose semi-finals in February before Monfils had to withdraw from the tournament with a left wrist injury, which sidelined him for two months).

Raonic, who won his first career ATP World Tour crown in San Jose, is the only player with a title this year. Monfils was a runner-up while Blake and Nieminen have yet to reach a final. Here are the career finals records of the foursome: Blake is 10-14, Monfils is 3-11, Nieminen is 1-9 and Raonic is 1-1.

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SATURDAY SEMI-FINAL FEDEX HEAD 2 HEADS – In Order of Play

Centre Court

Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) vs James Blake (USA)  Blake Leads 6-1
03 Long Island (USA) Hard QF James Blake 4-6 6-2 6-3
06 ATP Masters 1000 Miami (U.S.A.) Hard R32 James Blake 6-3 4-6 6-1
06 Bangkok (Thailand) Hard QF James Blake 6-2 2-6 7-5
06 Stockholm (Sweden) Hard F James Blake 6-4 6-2
07 Stockholm (Sweden) Hard QF James Blake 6-7(1) 6-4 6-2
09 ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells (USA)Hard R64 James Blake 6-3 6-7(6) 6-3
10 Stockholm (Sweden) Hard QF Jarkko Nieminen 6-0 6-2

Nieminen FastFacts:
2011 Highlights:
QF: Bangkok (l Monfils)
YTD W-L: 20-22 (11-13 on hard)
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 1
Date of Birth: July 23, 1981
South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking: 73

• Nieminen, 30, enters his first ATP World Tour semi-final since last year here (l. to Mayer) with a 20-22 match record on the season (11-13 on hard)…His previous best result was the quarter-finals in Bangkok three weeks ago (l. to Monfils)
• The top player from Finland has a 21-11 career match record in Stockholm and he’s in the semi-finals for the fifth time, second year in a row…He was runner-up in 2001 (l. to Schalken) and ’06 (l. to Blake) and a semi-finalist in ’08 (l. to Nalbandian) along with last year
• He lost in the first round in all four Grand Slam tournaments for the first time in his career, all to
Top 20 Spanish foes -- No. 7 Ferrer (AO, RG), No. 15 Almagro (Wimb.) and No. 19 Verdasco (USO)
• He is trying to reach his 11th career ATP World Tour final (1-9) and his last title match came last year in Bangkok (l. to Garcia-Lopez)…His lone title came in Auckland in January 2006 (d. Ancic)

Blake FastFacts:
2011 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 17-13 (16-11 on hard)
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 10
Date of Birth: December 28, 1979
South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking: 69

• Blake, 31, is appearing in his first ATP World Tour semi-final of the season and the first since June 2009 when he reached the Queen’s Club final in London (l. to Murray)
• The Tampa resident enters his fourth Stockholm  semi-final with a 17-2 record here…Won back-to-back titles in 2005 (d. Srichaphan) and ’06 (d. Nieminen) and a semi-finalist in ’07 (l. to T. Johansson)
• He has a 17-13 match record on the ATP World Tour this season (16-11 on hard) with only one first round loss (Wimbledon, l. to Baghdatis in five sets) in 14 tournaments
• Prior to this week, his best result was the third round in Washington (l. to Isner) and Cincinnati (l. to Federer) in August
• Has also played well in Challengers with an 18-3 mark, winning titles in Sarasota in May, d. Bogomolov; and Winnetka in July, d. Reynolds…He was runner-up in Sacramento (l. to Karlovic) on Oct. 9
• Was as low as No. 173 in March but has improved to No. 69 this week (will go to around No. 45 w/title)
• He is trying to reach his 25th career ATP World Tour final (10-14) and his last final came at Queen’s Club in June 2009 (l. to Murray)…His last title came in New Haven in August 2007 (d. Fish)

(1) Gael Monfils (FRA) vs (6) Milos Raonic (CAN)    First Meeting

Monfils FastFacts:
2011 Highlights:
F: Washington (l Stepanek); SF: San Jose (W/O vs Raonic); Halle (l Kohlschreiber); Bangkok (l Young); QF: Barcelona (l Nadal); Roland Garros (l Federer); Hamburg (l Simon); ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Montreal (l Djokovic); ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati (l Djokovic)
YTD W-L: 34-14 (18-6 on hard)
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 3
Date of Birth: September 1, 1986
South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking: 10

• Monfils, 25, the No. 2 Frenchman (behind No. 9 Tsonga), is appearing in his fifth semi-final of the season with a 34-14 match record (18-5 on hard)…This is his Stockholm debut
• He’s the only player in the current Top 15 without an ATP World Tour title this season
• The Frenchman reached the semi-finals in Bangkok three weeks ago (l. to Young in third set TB) but then withdrew from Beijing and Shanghai  due to a knee injury
• During the  North American summer circuit, he reached the final in Washington (l. to Stepanek), his first in U.S., and back-to-back quarter-finals at ATP Masters 1000 tourn. in Montreal and Cincinnati (l. to Djokovic both times)…Then lost in 2nd Rd. at US Open (l. to Ferrero in five sets)
• His previous best results were the semi-finals in San Jose in February when he withdrew (vs. Raonic) due to a left wrist injury (sidelined for two months) and in Halle on grass in June (l. to eventual champ Kohlschreiber)
• He is trying to reach his 15th career ATP World Tour final (3-11 record) and his last title came on Oct. 31, 2010 in Montpellier, France (d. Ljubicic)
• The last Frenchman to reach the Stockholm final was Arnaud Boetsch in 1995 (l. to Enqvist) and last French winner here was Henri Leconte in 1982 (d. Wilander)
• Parted ways with Aussie coach Roger Rasheed after Wimbledon 3rd Rd. loss (here with Patrick Chamagne)
 
Raonic FastFacts:
2011 Highlights:
W: San Jose (d Verdasco); F: Memphis (l Roddick); SF: Estoril (l Verdasco); QF: Halle (l Petzschner)
YTD W-L: 31-16 (19-8 on hard)
YTD Titles: 1
Career Titles: 1
Date of Birth: December 27, 1990
South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking: 29

• Raonic, 20, the top Canadian on the ATP World Tour, is appearing in his fourth ATP World Tour semi-final this season, the first since April 30 in Estoril, Portugal (l. to Verdasco)
• This week in his Stockholm debut, has fired a tournament-high 43 aces and has not been broken in 37 service games (saving one break point in first round win over Baghdatis)
• He is playing in his third tournament since retiring in the second round at Wimbledon (vs. Muller) on June 22 due to a right hip injury…Underwent surgery on July 5 in Vail, Colorado and came back to play in Davis Cup World Group playoff tie in Israel, losing to Amir Weintraub in four sets in second rubber on Sept. 16…Canada won tie 3-2 and will host France in 1st Rd. next February
• His first tournament back was in Tokyo (Oct. 2) and he lost to No. 2 Nadal in the second round…The following week he lost in the second round at ATP Masters 1000 Shanghai (l. to Ferrer)
• The big-serving Thornhill, Ontario native comes in with a 31-16 match record on the season (19-8 on hard courts), including eight Top 25 wins (3-3 vs Top 10)
• In February, he captured his first ATP World Tour title in San Jose, defeating No. 9 Verdasco in two tie-breaks…He was broken once during the week and led the tournament with 58 aces…He became the first Canadian to win an ATP World Tour title since Greg Rusedski captured the title in Seoul in April 1995 (he also won in Newport in July 1993)…He is highest-ranked Canadian ever at No. 25 on May 2
• The following week in Memphis, he won four straight three-set matches, including back-to-back third set tie-break wins over No. 9 Verdasco and former Top 10 Radek Stepanek…He hit a career-high and tournament record (since 1991) 38 aces vs. Stepanek
• At the Australian Open, he qualified and posted wins over Phau, No. 24 Llodra and No. 10 Youzhny before losing to No. 7 Ferrer in four sets


POTENTIAL FINAL HEAD-TO-HEADS

Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) vs Gael Monfils (FRA)   Monfils Leads 1-0
11 Bangkok (Thailand) Hard QF Gael Monfils 7-5 7-6(4)

Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) vs Milos Raonic (CAN)   First Meeting

James Blake (USA) vs Gael Monfils (FRA)   Tied 2-2
06 Roland Garros (France) Clay R32 Gael Monfils 6-2 6-7(2)  7-6(1)5-7 6-4
06 London / Queen's Club (England) Grass QF James Blake 6-1 ret
07 ATP Masters Series Rome (Italy) Clay R64 James Blake 7-6(4) 6-3
10 Brisbane (Australia) Hard QF Gael Monfils 3-6   6-3 6-4

James Blake (USA) vs Milos Raonic (CAN)   Raonic Leads 1-0
11 San Jose (U.S.A.) Hard R16 Milos Raonic 6-2 7-6(4)

MOSCOW SATURDAY PREVIEW - THREE OF TOP FOUR SEEDS & QUALIFIER CHARDY IN SEMI-FINALS
Three of the Top 4 seeds and a qualifier on a hot streak will take centre stage in Moscow on Saturday for the semi-finals of the Kremlin Cup, currently in its 22nd year on the ATP World Tour.

The first semi-final pits No. 2 seed Viktor Troicki against French qualifier Jeremy Chardy. Troicki won their only previous meeting on clay. Last year in Moscow, Troicki won his first ATP World Tour title; this year these courts have lifted him up once again, as he came into this week having fallen in the first round at his past two tournaments in Tokyo and Beijing. But he has now battled through to the semi-finals of his title defence, his three-hour, 38-minute quarter-final win over No. 5 seed Alex Bogomolov Jr. tied for the longest best-of-three-set match of the season (with Rafael Nadal’s win over Fernando Verdasco in Cincinnati). “Mentally it was very tough and I am exhausted now,” the 25-year-old Serb said after the win. “I am in the semi-finals now; I hope I will be ready.” Chardy came out of qualifying and is through to his first ATP World Tour semi-final since July 2009. His run this week has included an upset of No. 3 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov.

The second semi features top seed Janko Tipsarevic and No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko, who has won two of the previous three meetings. Both men came into Moscow as uncertain quantities. Since winning his first ATP World Tour title three weeks ago in Kuala Lumpur, Tipsarevic had back-to-back first round losses at Tokyo and Shanghai. Davydenko suffered a hip injury and retired in his quarter-final against Tipsarevic in Kuala Lumpur and didn’t even play the last two weeks, missing Beijing and Shanghai. They have both looked impressive in their first two matches here though, and are now going to battle it out for a spot in the Kremlin Cup final. Tipsarevic has a 12-5 career record in Moscow, reaching the final here two years ago (l. to Youzhny). Davydenko has an even better mark at 19-5, winning the title three times (2004, ‘06-07).

With previous final records in mind, Davydenko could be the biggest threat to win the title should he reach the final. He is an excellent 21-6 in his career in ATP World Tour finals. The other three have less experience in ATP World Tour finals (Tipsarevic is 1-4, Troicki is 1-3 and Chardy is 1-1).

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BATTLE FOR LONDON -- There are three spots remaining for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.  Tipsarevic has moved from No. 13 to No. 11 and he could move to No. 10 with a title. Here are the updated 2011 ranking points leaders going into Saturday:       Bold indicates qualified
                                  2011 Points
1 Novak Djokovic         13,295   9 Nicolas Almagro          2,370   
2 Rafael Nadal              9,500   10 Gilles Simon               2,155  
3 Andy Murray             7,200    11 Janko Tipsarevic        2,085 (add 60 pts. with SF win)
4 Roger Federer           5,185    12 Robin Soderling         2,080
5 David Ferrer              4,300    13 Juan Martin del Potro 2,050
6 Tomas Berdych         2,940     14 Alexandr Dolgopolov 1,835
7 Mardy Fish                2,875     15 Gael Monfils             1,765 (add 60 pts. with SF win in Stockholm)
8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga    2,790      16 Andy Roddick          1,680   

SATURDAY SEMI-FINALS FEDEX HEAD 2 HEADS – In Order of Play

Centre Court

(Q) Jeremy Chardy (FRA) vs (2) Viktor Troicki (SRB) Troicki Leads 1-0
10 ATP World Team Chp. (Duesseldorf) Clay RR Viktor Troicki 6-4 6-2
Other Meeting:
06 Eckental CH (Germany) Carpet R32 Jeremy Chardy 0-6 6-4 7-6(6)

Chardy FastFacts:
2011 Highlights:
YTD W-L: 9-15 (3-7 on hard)
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 1
Date of Birth: February 12, 1987
South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking: 133

• Chardy, 24, who qualfied into the main draw, is appearing in his first ATP World Tour semi-final
of the season and first in Moscow...This week he leads in aces (41) and he's only been broken once in 38 games (97% held), saving 14 of 15 break points (93%), including all 10 in his quarter-final win over Philipp Kohlschreiber…He’s also winning 85% of first serve points
• The lone qualifier to reach an ATP World Tour final this year was countryman Julien Benneteau in Winston-Salem in August (l. to Isner)
• He is playing in the Kremlin Cup for  the third time (5-2 mark) and he was a quarter-finalist in ’08 debut
• He is trying to become the second Frenchman to reach the final in the tournament’s 22-year history …Paul-Henri Mathieu won the title in 2002 and was runner-up in ‘07
• He entered Moscow with a 6-15 match record on the season and winless on hard courts (0-7) before
winning three qualifying and three main draw matches this week
• This is the first tournament on the ATP World Tour this season he's won back-to-back matches
• Earlier this month (on Oct. 2), he won Madrid Challenger title on clay (d. Gimeno-Traver) and afterwards improving his ranking from No. 115 to No. 101...Came in this week No. 133 but will jump to around No. 113 thus far and around No. 95 if he reaches the final (around No. 78 if he wins the title)
• Has a 12-5 match record in Challengers and in June was runner-up at the Nottingham-2 Challenger (l. to Sela)
• In March, played in first round Davis Cup tie in Austria and defeated No. 10 Jurgen Melzer in opening rubber and Martin Fischer in fifth and decisive rubber to give France a 3-2 win
•  Looking to reach his third career ATP World Tour final (1-1) and two years ago won his first title in Stuttgart (d. Hanescu)...In February '09, advanced to his first final in Johannesburg (l. to Tsonga)

Troicki FastFacts:
2011 Highlights:
F: Sydney (l Simon); SF: Rotterdam (l Soderling); Kuala Lumpur (l Baghdatis); QF: Doha (l Federer); ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte Carlo (l Ferrer); Halle (l Berdych); Washington (l Isner)
YTD W-L: 38-23 (26-15 on hard)
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 1
Date of Birth: February 10, 1986
South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking: 16

• Troicki, 25, the reigning Kremlin Cup champion, has a 9-2 career mark in Moscow and this week defeated Spaniard Pere Riba 64 64 and fired 23 aces en route to 76(6) 67(1) 76(1) win over No. 5 seed Alex Bogomolov Jr. in three hours,  38 minutes (tying longest best-of-three match of year, Nadal d. Verdasco in Cincinnati)
• The No. 3 Serb (behind No. 1 Djokovic, No. 14 Tipsarevic) enters his fourth semi-final of the season with a 38-23 match record (26-15 on hard)…His best result was a runner-up in Sydney (l. to Simon) in January…He also was a semi-finalist in Rotterdam (l. to Soderling) in February and Kuala Lumpur on Oct. 1 (l. to Baghdatis)…He was quarter-finalist in four other tournaments
• He reached a career-high No. 12 on June 6 after a Grand Slam-best 4th Rd. showing at Roland Garros (l. to No. 4 Murray in five sets)
• He is trying to reach his fifth career ATP World Tour final (1-3 mark)

(1)Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) vs (4) Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) Davydenko Leads 2-1
07 Moscow (Russia) Hard SF Nikolay Davydenko 7-6(6) 6-1
08 ATP Masters Series Miami (U.S.A.) Hard QF Nikolay Davydenko 6-2 6-1
11 Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) Hard QF Janko Tipsarevic 3-1 ret  (hip)

Tipsarevic FastFacts:
2011 Highlights:
W: Kuala Lumpur (d Baghdatis); F: Delray Beach (l Del Potro); Eastbourne (l Seppi); SF: Chennai (l Malisse); Belgrade (W/O vs Djokovic); ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Montreal (l Fish); QF: Washington (l Monfils); US Open (l Djokovic)
YTD W-L: 45-22 (33-15 on hard)
YTD Titles: 1/Career Titles: 1
Date of Birth: June 22, 1984
South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking: 14

• Tipsarevic, 27, the No. 2 Serb (behind No. 1 Djokovic), comes in with a career-best 45-22 match record (33-15 on hard) on the season with quarter-final or better results in nine tournaments
• He is one of three Serbians in the Top 20 (No. 16 Troicki) at No. 14 after reaching a  career-high No. 13, first achieved on Sept. 12  after US Open quarter-final…In the ATP year-to-date rankings, he has moved from No. 13 to No. 11…There are three spots left for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals
• He is making his sixth straight appearance in Moscow (11-5 mark) and he reached the final two years ago (l. to Youzhny)…Also semi-finalist in 2007 and quarter-finalist in his debut in ‘06
• On Oct. 2, he captured his first career ATP World Tour title in Kuala Lumpur (d. Baghdatis) in his 148th career tournament (in fifth final)…He improved his ranking from No. 17 to No. 13
• He is 1-2 in ATP World Tour finals this season, finishing runner-up in Delray Beach (l. to del Potro) in February and Eastbourne (l. to Seppi) in June…Also a semi-finalist three times, at Chennai (l. to Malisse), Belgrade (w/o vs Djokovic) and Montreal (l. to Fish) and first Grand Slam QF at US Open
• He helped his country to Davis Cup semi-finals (l. to Argentina) after winning last year’s Cup (d. France)

Davydenko FastFacts:
2011 Highlights:
W: Munich (d Mayer); F: Doha (l Federer); QF: Kuala Lumpur (l Tipsarevic)
YTD W-L: 24-21 (16-13 on hard)
YTD Titles: 1
Career Titles: 21
Date of Birth: June 2, 1981
South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking: 38

• Davydenko, 30, enters his third  ATP World Tour semi-final or better with a 24-21 match record (16-13 on hard) on the season…In his previous two he went to the final
• His best result came in May when he captured his 21st career ATP World Tour title in Munich (d. F. Mayer), extending his title streak to nine straight years…The only active players with a longer streak are Roger Federer and Andy Roddick, with 11 consecutive years
• In January, he began the season with a runner-up in Doha (l. to Federer) and on Sept. 30 he advanced to the quarter-finals in Kuala Lumpur (l. to Tipsarevic)
• The three-time Kremlin Cup champion (2004, ’06-07) is appearing in the semi-finals for the fourth time and in his previous three, he went on to capture the title…Has a 19-5 career mark and this week has defeated countryman Teymuraz Gabashvili 75 62 in second round (after bye) and German qualifier Michael Berrer 63 62


POTENTIAL FINAL HEAD-TO-HEADS

Jeremy Chardy (FRA) vs Janko Tipsarevic (SRB)  Tipsarevic Leads 3-1
08 Metz (France) Hard R32 Janko Tipsarevic 7-6(5) 7-5
08 St. Petersburg (Russia) Hard R16 Janko Tipsarevic 6-4 7-6(3)
10 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome Clay R64 Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-4
10 s-Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands) Grass R32 Janko Tipsarevic 6-3 6-4

Jeremy Chardy (FRA) vs Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)  Tied 1-1
09 Hamburg (Germany)    Clay R16 Nikolay Davydenko 6-3 6-3
10 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Toronto Hard R16 Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-2

Viktor Troicki (SRB) vs Janko Tipsarevic (SRB)   Troicki Leads 1-0
08 Moscow (Russia) Hard R16 Viktor Troicki 6-3 6-4

Viktor Troicki (SRB) vs Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)  Davydenko Leads 2-1
08 RUS v. SRB WG 1st RD (Russia)   Hard RR Nikolay Davydenko 6-1 1-6 6-3 1-6 6-2
09 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid  Clay R64 Nikolay Davydenko 6-2 6-2
11 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome   Clay R64 Viktor Troicki 6-4 7-5

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