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Fast Surface Edge goes to Fed, Andy, Isner

Dubai, Delray, Acapulco


March 02, 2012 | 05:41 PM

This week, at least in DUBAI and DELRAY, the guys who are more dominating on their service games are coming out on top, though in Roger's case not facing a single break point didn't save him from having to play and win two tie-breakers to get past Del Potro for the second time in as many events (in Rotterdam two weeks ago, Roger crushed Delpo 6-1, 6-4 in the final). Delpo fought off 6 breaks points, and nearly came back in both tie-breakers before losing 6-7 (5), 6-7 (6).

Delpo can hardly be unhappy with the improvement, or with not doing what no one else this week has managed to do either - breaking Roger. He also notched another convincing win over #5 Tsonga this month. Reaching the semis is enough to push the Argentine one place higher in the rankings to #9, ahead of Tipsarevic, who lost in the quarters in another tight match with Joker.

For his part in the final, Roger will be looking to do to Murray what not even Joker could do to him today. The result, a 6-2, 7-5 win for Murray, was an even more controlling effort than his 6-3, 7-5 victory over Berdych in the quarters, and equaled his previous best showing against Joker in the Miami final in '09. Andy is now 5 and 7 life-time with Novak.

The Serb hasn't looked himself this week (his first tournament after Australia): not even his vaunted return could make a dent on the Scot's serve: he lost 34 of 40 on Andy's 1st serve, winning only 32% of return points (20% lower than his average percentage last year). Serving as he is, Roger won't be needing to tame Murray with his return game: he won 40 of 45 1st serve points today, and took 78% of total points when he served. It is Murray who will need to return well (in addition to continuing to serve well) to win the title.

In DELRAY, the last person who returned well enough to beat Federer, #1 seed Isner, won't be needing to win with his return either. His opponent today in the quarters was Bernard Tomic, a dangerous man for most players o their second serves. Bernie has won 52% of 2nd serve return points this year; today he managed to win just 24% of 2nd serve return points, little worse than he fared returning John's 1st serves. That said, John may have returned almost as well as did in his Davis Cupset over Roger on clay: he won 46% of the points on Bernie's serve to take a lop-sided 6-3, 6-2 victory over the Aussie.

In the semis, Isner will face the winner between #4 seed Andy Roddick and Kevin Anderson. John will be favored regardless of the outcome, and seems likely to redeem himself as a #1 seed this week. Win or lose, the points he gains will not come close to making up the 700 point gap between him and Del Potro or Tipsarevic, so the top 10 will remain a goal for him to try to reach with positive results in Indian Wells and Miami.

In ACAPULCO, where life is just a little slower, #1 seed Ferrer and #8 seed Verdasco are moving toward their first final together after 13 meetings. Fernando, who must get by unseeded Wawrinka, holds a 7-6 life-time edge, but has beaten David only once in their previous four meetings on hard courts (David has won the last two easily in straight sets). David plays unseeded Giraldo from Colombia.

RICK

ATP 3.2.12


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