Big Day in Toronto for Morocco’s Tennis Stars
Morocco’s Karim Alami completed a double sweep Monday at the Toronto Tennis Masters Series Tournament. Following a morning of light rain, Alami took to the court for his opening round match against Australian qualifier Peter Tramacchi. The matchup featured two huge servers, as both players won many easy points off first serve winners. In the end, though, Alami’s consistency and variety proved
too much for his Australian foe, as Alami won 6-2, 6-4. Tramacchi’s serve-and-volley style was bettered by Alami’s low returns and precise groundstrokes. And when Alami did come into the net behind his lethal ground game, he displayed a delicate touch on his volleys.
Up 4-0 in the second set, Alami got slightly careless, losing his concentration and dropping three consecutive games. Alami was finally able to buckle down, hold serve, and advance to the second round, concluding the match victorious.
Watching Alami from the stands was countryman and doubles partner Hicham Arazi, who offered constant words of encouragement. Later in the afternoon, the Moroccan team faced the duo of American Cecil Mamiit and Israel’s Harel Levy. Alami and Arazi wrapped up the match in under an hour, winning 6-3, 6-2. Although Arazi and Alami rarely
play doubles, they are regular practice partners and good friends, and their knowledge of each other’s games was apparent. With the win, the Moroccan team qualified for the doubles’ main draw.
Dutchman Richard Krajicek, who eliminated third seed Magnus Norman of Sweden, posted the day’s biggest upset 7-5, 7-6 (9-7). Although Norman entered this event with the top spot in the ATP Champions Race, while Krajicek sat in 59th spot, the result was not as much of a surprise as it might first appear. Krajicek, the 1996 Wimbledon champion, is a veteran of the ATP Tour who reached the finals in Toronto two years ago, disposing of Andre Agassi along the way. After the match, the Dutchmen remarked that the win signifies “a start to a good part of the season.” He admitted that he “had lost that [winning] feeling for a while,” but added that “beating Norman gives me more confidence.”
The day’s most exciting match featured teenagers Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt, two of the brightest young stars in the game. Seventh seed Hewitt of Australia, who leads the ATP with four titles this season, was down a set and faced a break point in the second set
before coming back to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. The match included numerous long and dynamic baseline rallies. In a post-match press conference, the Australian teenager admitted that, “it’s good to have my first hard court win after playing on clay and grass the last few months.”
He added though, “you can’t take anything away from Roger. He played a great set and a half.”
Pete Sampras highlights tomorrow’s afternoon action, when he will meet Michael Llordra of France. Karim Alami awaits the winner in the second round. Hicham Arazi must wait until tomorrow night to play his first round match. His opponent under the lights will be 1990 Toronto
champion Michael Chang.
The winner of this week’s event receives $400,000 -- Albawaba.com
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