Tennis: Ram/Mirnyi through to final of Rogers Cup

Israeli/Belarusian duo beats world's leading doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6, 6-2.

andy ram france 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
andy ram france 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Israel's Andy Ram and his Belarusian doubles partner Max Mirnyi qualified for the final of the $3 million Rogers Cup in Montreal late Saturday night. The duo beat the world's leading doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan of the US 7-6, 6-2 in the semifinal. The Israeli/Belarusian duo, which defeated Lukas Dlouhy and Phillip Petzschner 6-2, 6-3 in the quarterfinals, are currently ranked eighth overall in the doubles team rankings and are fighting to remain in the top eight to qualify for the season ending World Tour Finals in London. Meanwhile, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pulled out a stunning victory over Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro followed with a two-set win over Rafael Nadal on Friday as both advanced to the semifinals of the Rogers Cup. Down 5-1 in the third set, Tsonga broke serve twice and then beat Federer in the tiebreaker for a 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (3) quarterfinal victory. Del Potro broke Nadal's service twice for a 3-0 lead in the second to set up a 7-6 (5), 6-1 win. Nadal was the defending Rogers Cup tournament champion. In the other quarterfinals, fifth-seeded Andy Roddick recovered from a second-set service break to down Serbia's Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-6 (4) and will next face del Potro, while third-seeded Andy Murray had a 6-2, 6-4 win over Russian Nikolay Davydenko to set up a clash with Roddick. Both Federer and Nadal entered the tournament after time off. Federer's wife gave birth to twin daughters while Nadal had 10 weeks off to ease tendinitis in both knees. "I did not feel real good - 5-1 down and Roger playing well and I had no solutions," said the seventh-seeded Tsonga. "I just told myself 'you have to hit the ball one more time than him' and I did it." Top-seeded Federer looked to be coasting to a victory when he started struggling on serve just as the Frenchman seemed to find his form. "It's disappointing but that's what Jo does - he doesn't make a return for an hour and then he puts in a few and than all of a sudden he's back in the match," Federer said. The Swiss forced a final tiebreaker, but Tsonga used two aces to take the lead and then saw Federer double-fault on match point in the tiebreaker. Despite defeat, Nadal was pleased that his knees held up and left encouraged that he is on his way back to top form. "After two months out of competition it's tough to play at that level - I needed to concentrate more than usual," Nadal said. "The knees were very good. "I have to be happy with the tournament. Del Potro is playing very well and I was at the same level as him in the first set. I thought if I could win the first set I could relax a little in the second and try again in the third, but it was tough." Asked if he would be back in top shape for the US Open that starts August 31, he said "we'll see." Roddick's victory was his third this year over Djokovic. The American is unbeaten in tiebreakers in the tournament, extending his lead on the ATP Tour with 33 tiebreaker wins. "It's been important for me my entire career," said Roddick, the 2003 Rogers Cup champion. "I'm starting to break serve a lot more now, but I certainly grew accustomed to playing a lot of tiebreakers early on. I'm comfortable playing them, and normally I can count on getting a couple of points on my serve." Roddick is looking to reach a third straight final, after losing to Federer in a five-set thriller at Wimbledon and the loss in Washington. Also Friday, Kim Clijsters' comeback hit its first obstacle when she couldn't keep up with world No. 1 Dinara Safina in a 6-2 7-5 quarterfinal loss at the Western & Southern Financial Group Open on Friday. Safina broke seven times to reach the semifinals and finish Clijsters' uplifting week back on the court. With both Williams sisters gone, Clijsters' return became the talk of the Open. The former No. 1 took a break in 2007, married, and gave birth to daughter Jada, then set about returning to the game at a top level. While she was away, Clijsters watched one player improve more than any other: Safina. "I really felt today that Dinara played some of her best tennis that I've seen," said Clijsters, who won six of their seven previous matches. "I think by far that's the best she's ever played against me." No mother has knocked off a No. 1-ranked player since Evonne Goolagong Cawley beat Chris Evert in the finals of the Virginia Slims of Boston in 1978. Thirty-one years later, Clijsters got a good start at it, pushing the pace and getting a service break for a 2-0 lead. It unraveled fast. Safina used her powerful forehand to her advantage, hitting shots that eluded Clijsters' reach. She dominated the rest of the set, running off 24 of the last 31 points. For the first time all week, Clijsters looked like a player who had been off the tour for two years. "I know exactly what to expect from her," Safina said. "For me, she's one of the best players. I thought I was very aggressive today and didn't let her dictate too much." On Saturday, Safina needed only 56 minutes to eliminate Italy's Flavia Pennetta, reaching the championship match in Cincinnati with a 6-2, 6-0 victory in the afternoon heat. Safina reached her eighth final in 14 tournaments this year. She ended Pennetta's winning streak at 15. After two weeks of grueling - and winning - tennis, Pennetta had little energy left for her semifinal match. She had blisters on her feet, a sore right ankle wrapped in tape, and aches all over from so many matches back-to-back. By reaching the semifinals, Pennetta assured she will become the first Italian woman to move into the Top 10 when the rankings come out Monday.