Monaco d. Isner, 6-2 3-6 6-3
The Houston tourny just finished, with Juan Monaco (Pico!) taking a 3-sets win over John Isner (who is now the top-ranked American at no. 9). The Isner-mania has come to a brief lull, although it will surely resume once Madrid starts in May.
llegamos a la final que era importante, ganarla mejor aun !!! q alegria tengo !! gracias por todos los mensajes !!!!!!! http://t.co/fuR0ERmd—
juan monaco (@picomonaco) April 15, 2012
Back to the good news, though! Off a reflexive pass volley, Pico played his consistent style of tennis that frustrated Isner’s attempts to attack. He broke late in the 3rd set to go up 5*-3 and serve for the title. This is Pico’s 2nd title of 2012 and he now rises to a career-high ranking of no. 14, which he last achieved in 2008. This is a fine way to consolidate his impressive SF showing at Miami. That’s two Argies in the top 15 now — how awesome would it be if one or both of them entered the top 10 sometime this year? It would be very awesome.
Pico is due to play Monte Carlo, which has already started. I’m not too hopeful about his chances, after flying overnight from Houston to Monaco, only to resume playing so soon after winning this title. Ah well — sacrifices were made and Pico benefited from his choices. Here’s hoping he continues his great season. Chapeau!
Here is a photo of Pico celebrating in the swimming pool at Houston. Dear Pico admirers, it may be worth a look 🙂 This, after I’d made a big show-and-tell of defending Pico’s honor last week as a tennis player! 😉 Right now, he has the best of both worlds.
In Monaco, Ljubicic Calls it a Career
After losing to fellow Croatian Ivan Dodig 6-0 6-3 in R1 at Monte Carlo, Ivan Ljubicic closed the doors on an illustrious career:
(Photos via Getty)
Ljubicic’s last match was unfortunately not available for streaming, which makes it the second high-profile retirement this year (after Gonzo) to which tennis fans had no live access. The wise man with the walnut-shaped head won 10 titles, including an Indian Wells Masters title. He put in a superhuman effort to win the Davis Cup for Croatia in 2005, and a bronze medal at the Olympics with dubs partner Mario Ancic. Chris Clarey wrote a lovely tribute to Ljubicic’s career — it captures Ljubicic’s wartime background and his beginnings in tennis — definitely worth a read! Prior to reading the article, I hadn’t known that Ljubicic stayed with coach Riccardo Piatti since 1997 (Piatti is also currently coaching Reeshie Gasquet).
Ljubicic also spearheaded player participation in the ATP Player Council, having served as President and even as a member of the Board of Directors. While the Player’s Council is certainly a work-in-progress, players like Ljubicic who committed long-term to defending players’ interests, certainly deserve due recognition. The recent news that Roland Garros would increase prize money for early-round losers indicates a small concession in favor of the great majority of players.
The tributes poured in from journos on Twitter as well:
Head buried in a towel, it is the end for Ivan Ljubicic. What a warrior. What a player. What an ambassador.—
Neil Harman (@NeilHarmanTimes) April 15, 2012
One last thing. Andy Murray confirmed that the players gave @IvanLjubicic1 an ovation in the locker room today. Nice touch & well deserved.—
Simon Cambers (@scambers73) April 15, 2012
It's over, first the Gonzo, now Ljubicic. Mark my words, their absence will hurt much more over the long term than it does now. ED #ATP—
Ubaldo Scanagatta (@Ubitennis) April 15, 2012
Farewell, Ivan. I’m not sure I will fully realize the absences of Gonzo and Ljubicic, until some point in the near future (perhaps when a player politely concedes his argument over a line call to the chair umpire, or when a player comments in a decidedly short-sighted/un-Ivan-like-way about his career). I fully agree with @UbiTennis’ tweet above, that they left behind something that will truly be missed.
In other Monte Carlo news, Rafa is on his quest to win Monte Carlo for the 8th year running. Standing in his path is Novak Djokovic. The clay season has verily started, with many of the top 30 players opting to play the scenic tourny set in Monte Carlo. The draw is here, for viewing. Right now, Fer-Rochus are on serve in the 3rd set, while Tomic just defeated Denis Istomin in straight sets (Bernie faces the winner of Chela vs. Dolgo in R2 — that should be an interesting match-up, either way).