Zimonjic-Nestor, Bjorkman-Ullyett Win
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Nenad Zimonjic and defending champion Daniel Nestor (team pictured) made their team debut at Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai with a tight 7-6(4), 5-7, 10-4 victory over Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski on Monday.
It is a key win for the Serbian-Canadian team that is involved in the battle with the Bryan brothers, who won Sunday, for the year-end No. 1 team ranking. Zimonjic also has the chance to usurp the Bryans and finish as the individual World No. 1 in the Stanford ATP Doubles Rankings for the first time in his career.
The 36-year-old Nestor is making his 10th appearance at the circuit finale, having made his previous nine with Mark Knowles; they captured the title last year (d. Aspelin-Knowle). Zimonjic, 32, was a finalist in 2005 (w/Paes) and also qualified the following year (w/Santoro).
Nestor and Zimonjic faced 12 aces from their Polish opponents on Monday and were broken twice, but they ultimately won nine points more and prevailed in 1 hr., 44 min., to open up a 3-2 series lead over Fyrstenberg-Matkowski. The Poles had won their most recent clash in the quarterfinals of Masters Series Madrid, a tournament they went on to win.
Currently No. 2 in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race, Nestor and Zimonjic have compiled a 43-17 match record on the season, highlighted by winning the team’s first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon (d. Bjorkman-Ullyett), which marked Nestor's career Golden Slam, and claiming a further three titles from six finals, including two ATP Masters Series shields at Hamburg and Canada (d. Bryan-Bryan on both occasions).
Fyrstenberg and Matkowski gained late entry into their second Masters Cup (0-4 record) following the withdrawal of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram. The Poles have titled twice this season at Warsaw (d. Davydenko-Schukin) and most recently at the Mutua Madrilena Masters Madrid (d. Bhupathi-Knowles), where they won their first ATP Masters Series shield.
In the second Gold Group round robin match, the in-form duo Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyett dismissed US Open finalists Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 6-3, 7-5.
Making their first appearance as a tandem at Tennis Masters Cup, Bjorkman and Ullyett converted both break points they were presented with and only surrendered 10 points on serve throughout the 1 hr., 10 min., encounter.
The 36-year-old Bjorkman, who is playing in his final tour event before retiring, is making his eighth appearance in the circuit finale. The Swede won the title on his debut in 1994 at Indonesia (w/Apell) and again in 2006 at Shanghai (w/Mirnyi). The 36-year-old Ullyett of Zimbabwe is returning for his sixth circuit finale and was a finalist in 2004 at Houston (w/W. Black).
Playing their first full season together, Bjorkman and Ullyett reached the Wimbledon final in July (l. to Nestor-Zimonjic) but did not win their first ATP title until October when they triumphed in Stockholm (d. Brunstrom-Ryderstedt). They followed with semifinal exits at Masters Series Madrid and Lyon before winning their first ATP Masters Series shield at Paris (d. Coetzee-Moodie).