Tennis: As Juan Martin Del Potro finds top form in Stockholm, Svetlana Kuznetsova sweeps Kremlin Cup and last WTA Final spot
By Andrea Leand, PSN analyst
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IF Stockholm Open
Singles: With his comeback complete from four career-threatening wrist surgeries, Juan Martin Del Potro won his first title in 33 months after sweeping through seeds No.7 John Isner, No.3 Ivo Karlovic, No.2 Grigor Dimitrov and beating No.6 Jack Sock in the final, 7-5, 6-1.
By capturing his 19th career title without dropping a set, 28-year-old Del Potro moves to No.42 in the world.
“I have been trying to fix my problems for the last two years and I did not expect to win a title at this moment in my career,” said Del Potro, who only lost serve twice the whole week. “I am so happy to get the trophy here. It is motivation for looking forward to the future.”
Sock surged to a career high No.22 after stunning No.4 seed Alexander Zverev 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4 in a 2-hour, 48-minute semifinal. As the new top American on tour, Sock mixed versatility with power to unhinge the usually formidable German to reach his second consecutive final in Stockholm.
Doubles: To the delight of their hometown crowd, unseeded Swedish brothers Elias and Mikael Ymer became the first Swedes to capture an ATP title in 18 years by overtaking No.3 seed Marcin Matkowski/Jean-Julian Rojer, No.2 seed Rohan Bopanna/Treat Huey and finalists, No.4 seed Mate Pavic/Michael Venus, 6-1, 6-1.
“It’s been unreal,” said Mikael, 18, who was making his ATP debut while Elias, 20, was playing only his second tour event.”We clicked really well and played some great doubles. I’m happy for this win and excited for our future together in doubles.”
Singles: No.6 seed Pablo Carreno Busta edged Italian Fabio Fognini, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, to move to No 14 in the world.
Doubles: No.2 seed Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah nudged Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer, 7-5, 4-6, 10-5.
Singles: No. 3 seed Richard Gasquet toppled Argentian Diego Schwartzman 7-6(4), 6-1 to notch his 14th career title. Top seeded David Goffin fell in the semifinals to Schwartzman but still moved to No.9 in the ATP race and within 100 points of No.8 Tomas Berdych.
Rafa Nadal: A day after opening his new academy in Spain, Nadal ended his 2016 season — including withdrawing from the ATP World Final in London — because of lingering injuries. The nine-time French Open champion welcomed Roger Federer to the unveiling in Mallorca.
Nick Krygios: Having been suspended until mid-January and fined over $41,000 for his antics in Shanghai, the Aussie showed no sign of seeking the counseling required to reduce the timeout to three weeks with a set of defiant tweets this past week. Rotterdam tournament director and former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek canceled Krygios’ contract to play the event. Krygios instead will play a celebrity basketball tournament.
Singles: Defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova showed iron will to sweep through the draw, trouncing Daria Gravilova 6-1, 6-2 in the final, to notch her 17th career title and the coveted No. 8 spot in the WTA Tour Final in Singapore. Kuznetsova claimed her first title of the year to overtake Britain’s Johanna Konta — who was already in Singapore ready to play.
“When I was warming up, my body hurt. I felt tired, didn’t really know how I was going to play,” Kuznetsova said. “I had very tough matches because I didn’t feel comfortable with the tennis I played. But I understood I could win even with bad tennis. I leveled up my game. I am so happy to win and reach Singapore.”
Doubles: Czech veterans Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka edged Gavralova and Daria Kasatkina, 4-6, 6-0 10-7, to win their fourth title this year.
BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open
Singles: After receiving a walkover from No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, Romania’s Monica Niculescu surprised top seed Petra Kvitova, 6-4, 6-0, in the final to take her first title of the year.
Doubles: No.2 seeds Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson edged Niculescu and Patricia Maria Tig, 4-6, 7-5, 11-9.
Novak Djokovic: The world No.1 claims he can not find joy in his profession, and from his lackluster performances of late, we believe him and remain doubtful much will change before London.
Andy Murray: Just 915 points from No. 1, Murray can smell the finish line and, after not dropping a set in Asia, may very well cross it at the ATP Tour World Final in London.
Stan Wawrinka: With three Grand Slam titles – most recently this year’s U.S. Open – Wawrinka knows how to peak at the big moments and none on tour are bigger than London.
Milos Raonic: The big serving Canadian reached No.4 showing consistency and continuity in attitude and approach, but will need more firepower on the big points to topple the very top stars.
Kei Nishikori: A glute injury sidelined Nishikori for his prized Asia circuit, but the Japanese superstar received comprehensive treatment at home base at the IMG Academy and is expected to return to London as a prime contender.
Gael Monfils: His unpredictability on court has made him a force and farce at times, but look for the 30-year-old Frenchmen to dazzle if not prevail in London.
Rafael Nadal: The Spaniard has looked older than his 30 years with aging bones and wilting strokes. To no one’s surprise, he ended his 2016 season to resolve injuries and subpar form for 2017.
Dominique Theim: The Austrian led the ATP’s Next Gen superstars but overplayed in too many smaller, lucrative events and jeopardized his chances for London by not posting at premiere stops in Beijing and Shanghai.
Tomas Berdych: Having recovered from an apparent appendicitis, the crafty Czech returned with mixed results, putting his London bid in jeopardy. Look for Berdych to find his form at the ATP’s last European events to seal his spot at the ATP World Final and in the top 10 ranks.
David Goffin: Steady progress has put Goffin in position for London, but he will need to raise the bar for a bigger result to make the ATP Tour Final.
Race to the ATP World Tour Final
- Novak Djokovic (qualified)
- Andy Murray (qualified)
- Stan Wawrinka (qualified)
- Milos Raonic (qualified)
- Kei Nishikori (qualified)
- Gael Monfils
- Dominique Thiem
- Tomas Berdych
- David Goffin
Angelique Kerber: After playing more matches this year than any top player, a weary looking Kerber suffered a string of upset losses in Asia. Even so, look for the new No.1 to regain her fortitude to cement her newfound place atop the sport in Singapore.
Serena Williams: After tweeting pictures of herself anywhere but the practice courts, it surprised no one when Williams pulled the plug on competing at the WTA Final. That means the 35-year-old champion forfeits her chance to regain No.1 before the end of 2016.
Aga Radwanska: Wedding bells will have to wait for Radwanska after she swept the Asian tour – winning in Beijing – and returns to Singapore with the momentum to defend her title.
Simona Halep: Halep played well enough to secure her No.4 spot but must show similar spirit and stronger strokes to make a dent in Singapore on fast indoor courts.
Karolina Pliskova: Pliskova knows well that her success depends on her lethal serve – she leads the tour in aces with 508 – and aggressive, first-strike tennis to overpower swifter opponents.
Garbine Muguruza: The French Open champion stumbled in early rounds since triumphing in Paris, telling Chinese press that she could barely breathe in her matches because she was so nervous. But the power player can regain her confidence by looking within and relying on her penetrating groundstrokes, not overcomplicated advice from her coach.
Madison Keys: Showing more consistency and maturity, 21-year-old Keys has combined more patience with power hitting to become the most dangerous contender on tour and in Singapore.
Dominique Cibulkova: After recovering from career threatening Achilles surgery, the 5-foot-3 Cibulkova wore down the tour’s giants mentally and physically with ground game and gumption in Linz. She always poses a threat in Singapore to more weary foes.
Svetlana Kuznetsova: Proving to be the WTA’s most durable player, Kuznetsova needed a wild card and title victory at the Kremlin Cup, to swipe the No.8 spot into the BNP Paribas WTA Finals in Singapore. The 31-year-old Russian, who leads top players in three-set victories this season, flew by private plane to Singapore to make it in time for her first-round match 24 hours later.
WTA Race to Singapore
- Angelique Kerber
- Aga Radwanska
- Simona Halep
- Karolina Pliskova
- Garbine Muguruza
- Madison Keys
- Dominika Cibulkova
- Svetlana Kuznetsova
- Carolina Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic
- Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza
- Elena Vesnina/Ekaterina Makarova
- Bethanie Mattek Sands/Lucie Safarova
- Yaroslava Shvedova/Timea Babos
- Yung Jan Chan/Hao-Ching Chan
- Andrea Hlavackova/ Lucie Hradecka
- Julia Goerges/Karolina Pliskova
WTA TOUR: BNP Paribas WTA Finals
- Site: Singapore
- Defending champion: Aga Radwanska
ATP TOUR: Swiss Indoors
- Site: Basel, Switzerland
- Defending champion: Roger Federer
ATP TOUR: Erste Bank Open
- Site: Vienna, Austria
- Top seed: David Ferrer