MEDIA NOTES 2012
Final Briefing - Sydney, Auckland
by Greg Sharko|
SYDNEY FINAL PREVIEW - BENNETEAU & NIEMINEN MEET FOR FIFTH TIME IN 30-OVER FINAL
• France’s Julien Benneteau and Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen are two of the veterans of the ATP World Tour - and now the 30-year-olds are going to meet for the fifth time with the title on the line. This is the first all 30-over ATP World Tour final since 2007 Umag when Carlos Moya (30) d. Andrei Pavel (33).
• Benneteau, ranked No. 49 and unseeded this week, hasn’t lost a set all week, including in a second round win of No. 4 seed Feliciano Lopez. He is now through to his sixth ATP World Tour final (0-5) and he is hoping his 182nd career tournament will be the breakthrough title event. His last runner-up came in Winston-Salem, N.C. last August (l. to Isner). He’s trying to become the first 30-over player to capture his maiden ATP World Tour title since Aussie Wayne Arthurs (33) won in Scottsdale in March 2005. Benneteau is also trying to become the fifth French winner in Sydney, joining Gilles Simon (last year), Guy Forget (1991), Yannick Noah (1990) and Henri Leconte (1985). Forget was the last left-hander to win the Sydney title 21 years ago.
• Nieminen, ranked No. 77 and a qualifier, was pushed to three sets during his second round win of No. 8 seed Radek Stepanek but won his other three rounds in straight sets, along with three qualifying matches in straight sets. The 30-year-old Finnish native is trying to earn his second career ATP World Tour title. He is 1-10 in his career in ATP World Tour finals, with the lone title coming in Auckland in January 2006. This is the 147th tournament he’s played since the title. He’s reached at least one final every year since 2006. The last qualifier to reach the final here was Ivo Minar in 2005 and last qualifier to win the title was Hyung-Taik Lee in ’03. The last qualifier to win an ATP World Tour title was Sergiy Stakhovsky in St. Petersburg on Nov.1, ‘09. Nieminen, who is also in the doubles final (w/Ebden), is trying to become the first player in Sydney to win both titles since Emilio Sanchez in 1992 (w/Casal).
• Nieminen has beaten Benneteau in all four of their career meetings, although two of those did go to three sets - including their most recent encounter, a 46 63 76(3) win for Nieminen in Monte Carlo last April. “Each time it was very tough matches, very tight,” Benneteau said. “He’s a good player and has confidence, because he won a lot of matches this week. But he could also be a little bit tired. Now it depends on me, how I can find a way to win the first title of my career.”
WHAT’S AT STAKE –
Winner: $78,360 and 250 South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking points
Runner-up: $41,290 and 150 South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking points
FINALS HISTORY –
Benneteau: Appearing in his 6th career ATP World Tour final..............He is 0-5 lifetime in finals (0-1 in ’11)
Nieminen: Appearing in his 12th career ATP World Tour final………He is 1-10 lifetime in finals (0-1 in’11)
SATURDAY CHAMPIONSHIP FedEx ATP Head 2 Head –
Ken Rosewall Arena
(Q) Julien Benneteau (FRA) vs Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) Nieminen Leads 4-0
07 Marseille (France) Hard QF Jarkko Nieminen 6-2 1-6 6-3
07 ATP Masters 1000 Montreal Hard R64 Jarkko Nieminen 6-3 6-4
09 Basel (Switzerland) Hard R32 Jarkko Nieminen 7-5 6-2
11 ATP Masters 1000 Monte Carlo Clay R64 Jarkko Nieminen 4-6 6-3 7-6(3)
F: Winston-Salem (l Isner); QF: Eastbourne (l Kunitsyn); Gstaad (l Verdasco)
YTD W-L: 4-1
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: December 20, 1981
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 49
• Benneteau, 30, is making his fifth tournament appearance (8-4 mark) and appearing in his first final... In 2010, he reached the semis (l. to Gasquet)...Has not dropped a set this week, winning a pair of 63 64 matches over Andreas Seppi and No. 4 seed Feliciano Lopez, 62 64 over Alex Bogomolov Jr., and 64 64 over Marcos Baghdatis
• Playing in his 182nd career ATP World Tour level tournament and in his sixth final (0-5)
• This week is No. 2 in return games won (13 of 35, 35%, converting 13 of 26 break pts.) and break pts. saved (14 of 18, 78%), and No. 4 in service games won (35 of 39, 90%)
• Last week opened the season in Brisbane and lost 7-5 in the third set to Aussie Bernard Tomic in 1R
• The Frenchman compiled a 21-21 match record last year and finished just outside Top 50 at No. 52 for first time since 2007
• After a slow start (8-14 through mid-July), finished with a 13-7 mark, highlighted by his fifth career ATP World Tour final in Winston-Salem (l. to Isner in three sets)
F: Stockholm (l Monfils); QF: Bangkok (l Monfils)
YTD W-L: 5-1
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 1
Date of Birth: July 23, 1981
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 77
• Nieminen, 30, who qualified into the draw, comes into his second final in Sydney with a 9-4 career mark...Three years ago, reached the final (d. No. 3 Djokovic, l. to Nalbandian)…This week has defeated wild card James Duckworth 62 62, No. 8 seed Radek Stepanek 76(5) 57 61, qualifier Bobby Reynolds 63 63, and qualifier Denis Istomin 76(12) 63
• This week, leads the tournament in return games won (20 of 43, 47%, converting 20 of 35 break pts, 57%) and No. 2 in returning second serve pts. (63%) and No. 3 in returning first serve pts. (37%)…Has been broken 10 times (33 of 43 games won, 77%)
• Last week opened the season in Brisbane, defeating Jesse Levine (l. to Stepanek in second round)
• Last season the top player from Finland finished in Top 100 for 11th straight year and his best result was a runner-up in Stockholm (l. to Monfils ) on Oct. 23…It was sixth year in a row he has reached a final
• The left-hander is trying to reach his 12th career ATP World Tour final (1-10 mark)…In 2006, captured his lone title in Auckland (d. Ancic)
• Lost in 1R in all 4 Grand Slam tournaments for the 1st time in his career, all to Top 20 Spanish foes -- No. 7 Ferrer (AO, RG), No. 15 Almagro (Wimb.) and No. 19 Verdasco (USO)
DOUBLES FINAL – WORLD NO. 1 BRYANS TAKE ON FIRST-TIME DUO EBDEN-NIEMINEN
• Top seeds and World No. 1 Bob and Mike Bryan are back in the Apia International Sydney doubles final for the fourth time in five years (except 2010) and fifth time overall as they take on the wild card duo of Matthew Ebden and Jarkko Nieminen.
• The Bryans have not dropped a set this week while the first-time squad of Ebden and Nieminen have dropped two sets. They upset No. 2 seeds Mirnyi-Nestor in the quarter-finals.
• The Bryans won their lone Sydney title in 2009 and were finalists in 2004, ’08 and last year. They have won the most titles together in the Open Era and come in with a career mark of 75-41. Last season they finished No. 1 for the seventh time in the past nine years, compiling an 8-3 mark in finals. Among their titles was a fifth Australian Open crown (11th overall Grand Slam title) and second trophy at Wimbledon.
• Ebden broke through last season to win the first two ATP World Tour titles of his career, in Newport (w/Harrison) and Atlanta (w/Bogomolov). Nieminen is 2-3 in his career in doubles finals, winning his last title in Mumbai in 2007. This is the first time he’s playing in singles and doubles finals in the same event.
AUCKLAND FINAL PREVIEW – FERRER LOOKS FOR RECORD-TYING THIRD TITLE AGAINST ROCHUS
• World No. 5 David Ferrer of Spain, the top seed this week, takes on unseeded Olivier Rochus of Belgium in Saturday’s Heineken Open championship. Ferrer had to complete quarter-final and semi-final matches on Friday after a rainy Thursday. Ferrer is one win away from defending his title (he also in 2007). He is trying to win his 12th ATP World Tour title (has an 11-14 mark) and is also trying to win the same ATP World Tour title in back-to-back years for just the second time (his first came at Acapulco in 2010-11. Ferrer is attempting to become the third player to win the Auckland title three times. The others to accomplish the feat at least three times were Onny Parun (1973, ’75-76) of New Zealand and Roy Emerson (1960, ‘65-67) of Australia.
• Rochus, ranked No. 68, has defeated two seeds to advance to the final - No. 6 Thomaz Bellucci and No. 8 Philipp Kohlschreiber. He was runner-up here in 2005 (l. to Gonzalez). But the week didn’t start off that great. “I almost didn’t go on court in the first round as I was feeling really bad with the flu, and five days later I’m in the final. I cannot believe it,” he said after his semi-final. “It’s the magic of this game. I almost feel I’m playing the best tennis of my career!” Rochus is going for his third ATP World Tour title, the first since Munich in May 2006. He is 2-7 in finals with both titles coming on clay.
• The 29-year-old Ferrer and the 30-year-old Rochus have met seven times before, with Ferrer leading the head-to-head series, 5-2. Rochus won two of the first three meetings, including a quarter-final here six years ago. But Ferrer has won their last four meetings and has won 51 of his last 52 matches against players outside the Top 50 (his only loss in this stretch coming at Indian Wells last March against former Top 15 Ivo Karlovic, who was ranked No. 239 at the time). But the Spaniard’s opponent is no stranger to the upset - Rochus has five career Top 5 wins, the first two coming at Wimbledon (over Magnus Norman in 2000 and Marat Safin in 2002) and his other three on hard courts (Carlos Moya at the 2004 US Open, Nikolay Davydenko at 2007 Dubai and Novak Djokovic at 2010 Miami).
WHAT’S AT STAKE –
Winner: $71,900 and 250 South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking points
Runner-up: $37,860 and 150 South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking points
FINALS HISTORY –
Ferrer: Appearing in his 26th career ATP World Tour final……....He is 11-14 lifetime in finals (2-4 in ’11) Rochus: Appearing in his 10th career ATP World Tour final………He is 2-7 in finals (0-1 in ’11)
SATURDAY CHAMPIONSHIP Fed Ex ATP Head 2 Head –
(1)David Ferrer (ESP) vs Olivier Rochus (BEL) Ferrer Leads 5-2
04 Roland Garros (France) Clay R128 David Ferrer 6-1 6-1 6-3
06 Auckland (New Zealand) Hard QF Olivier Rochus 6-2 6-0
06 Rotterdam (The Netherlands) Hard R16 Olivier Rochus 6-4 6-4
06 ATP Masters 1000 Miami (U.S.A.) Hard R16 David Ferrer 6-7(5) 7-6(2) 7-5
07 ATP World Team Chp. (Germany) Clay RR David Ferrer 6-3 6-4
08 Dubai (U.A.E.) Hard R16 David Ferrer 3-6 7-5 6-1
08 ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells (USA)Hard R64 David Ferrer 6-2 6-2
W(2): Auckland (d Nalbandian); Acapulco (d Almagro); F(4): ATP Masters 1000 Monte Carlo (l Nadal); Barcelona (l Nadal); Bastad (l Soderling); ATP Masters 1000 Shanghai (l Murray); SF(4): Australian Open (l Murray); Tokyo (l Murray); Valencia (l Monaco); Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (l Federer); QF(4): ATP Masters 1000 Miami (l Fish); ATP Masters 1000 Madrid (l Djokovic); Nice (l Dolgopolov); ATP Masters 1000 Paris (l Isner)
YTD W-L: 3-0
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 11
Date of Birth: April 2, 1982
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 5
• Ferrer, 29, the reigning champion who also won here five years ago, defeated Lukas Rosol 64 62, Alejandro Falla 64 46 63 and No. 3 seed Fernando Verdasco 63 64 to improve his career mark in Auckland to 19-5…Also a semi-finalist in ’09 and quarter-finalist three other times
• Has an 11-14 career mark in ATP World Tour finals (4-4 on hard courts)
• Last season finished in the Top 10 for the third time in five years at No. 5, highlighted by a pair of ATP World Tour titles (also Acapulco) and runner-up in four other tournaments, three on clay…Reached final at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Monte-Carlo (l. to Nadal) and Shanghai (l. to Murray)
• Helped lead his country to the Davis Cup title (d. Argentina) by putting together a 4-0 mark in three ties
• The Spaniard qualified for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London and reached the semi-finals (l. to Federer)…In round robin play, posted wins over No. 3 Murray and No. 1 Djokovic
F: Newport (l Isner); QF: Eastbourne (l Seppi)
YTD W-L: 5-1
YTD Titles: 0/Career Titles: 2
Date of Birth: January 18, 1981
South African Airways 2012 ATP Ranking: 68
• Rochus, 30 (turns 31 next week) and No. 2 Belgian (behind No. 63 Malisse), has a 13-6 career mark in Auckland…He reached the final in 2005 (l. to Gonzalez) and following year semi-finals (l. to Nieminen)
• This week has beaten German qualifier Tobias Kamke 75 64, No. 6 Thomaz Bellucci and qualifier Benoit Paire, both in third set tie-breaks, and No. 8 Philipp Kohlschreiber 67(4) 61 64
• He is appearing in his 10th career ATP World Tour final (0-5 on hard courts) and his last title came in Munich on clay in May 2006 (d. countryman Vliegen)…He is playing in his 105th tournament since then
• Last season the Belgian returned to Top 100 by reaching his ninth career ATP World Tour final in Newport (l. to Isner) for second year in a row…Also reached QF on grass in Eastbourne (l. to Seppi)
• Compiled a 13-7 mark in Challenger events, winning title in Le Gosier in March (d. Robert) and reaching final in Rennes (l. to Benneteau) in October
• Has a 13-40 career mark vs. Top 10 opponents (0-3 last year) and his last win came over No. 7 Soderling in 2R of Nice in May 2010
• Compiled match records of 7-3 on grass, 4-8 on hard and 2-5 on clay last season
DOUBLES FINAL – TOP SEEDED AUSTRIAN DUO MARACH-PEYA TAKE ON NO. 3 CERMAK-POLASEK
• The top seeded Austrian duo of Oliver Marach and Alexander Peya meet No. 3 seeds Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic and Filip Polasek of the Slovak Republic in Saturday’s doubles final.
• Marach and Peya have not dropped a set while Cermak and Polasek have won their last two rounds in a Match Tie-break en route to their second straight final. Last week in Doha, Polasek won the title with countryman Lukas Rosol
• Marach and Peya are appearing in their third final together (1-1), having won the title in Hamburg in July and reaching the final in Belgrade in May last season. Prior to last year they teamed up briefly in 2001-02 and ’07. They have a 12-7 career mark as a team.
• Cermak and Polasek combined for a 31-13 match record in their first partnership last season, putting together a 3-3 mark in ATP World Tour finals. They won titles in Belgrade, Gstaad and Moscow while reaching finals in Hamburg, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo.
• Here are the individual final records of each player: Marach (11-8), Peya (1-7), Cermak (26-19) and Polasek (8-9).