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  1. #1
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    Tennis

    Even if it's off-season, it's still the season for Tennis!

    Also, Szlia.

  2. #2
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    With all the board hoping I lost the post I made to wrap 2012 and tease 2013

    Bah!

    The latest piece of news is that Federer launched a youtube channel that is broadcasting live his exhibition matches in south america. Three have been played already (Bellucci, Tsonga, Haas) but you can watch the footage on the channel, and three will be broadcasted in the next few days (Del Potro, Del Potro, Tsonga).

  3. #3
    The King of Beers Araxen's Avatar
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    Nadal out of the Aussie Open.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/tennis/20859522

  4. #4
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    That's too bad. He is so fun to watch.

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    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    Next two weeks are in the running for best two of the year for me from a purely sports fan point of view. NFL playoffs going on at the same time as a tennis major. Can't get much better than that for me!

  6. #6
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    The draw of the Australian is out!

    Let's check it in four chunks from the POV of the four top seeds:

    DJOKOVIC

    Mathieu in the first round. The french veteran made a great come back in 2012 after many health problems and is known to be fighter. Tricky draw, but... yeah.

    Harrison possibly in the second. One of the future faces of Tennis even if his only weapon is his tennis IQ.

    Lopez or Stepanek two different brands of veterans. The old school S&V lefty in Lopez and the crafty all court player in Stepanek. Or maybe Troicki. The serbian N3 pushed Djokovic at times when he is serving well.

    Wawrinka might be up next or Querrey. Both have different weapons, but if they can be the aggressor and still manage their shots, they can beat just about anybody. If they get too defensive, they are in for a tough day against Djokovic.

    Berdych is the other top seed in this quarter of the draw and should be there on quarter final day unless an in form Verdasco (played a very solid exhibition match against Djokovic a couple weeks ago) or an in form Anderson have their say


    FERRER

    Rochus to start. Very talented player with a great hand and great eye, but is that enough to best Ferrer?

    Karlovic is facing one of the best returner and most consistent baseline player so nothing short of his best serves and best volleys will mean a loss.

    Baghdatis only beat Ferrer once in four matches but it was at the Australian Open in 2010 and after losing the first two sets!

    Nishikori or maybe Youzhny. The japanese has been on a steady rise since his surgery (wrist? elbow?) and he is still only 23. Very fast on the court, he has a steady backhand and a mean forehand. Not a huge one, but a mean one: able to redirect shots, use the opponents power, place with lethal precision and depth. And he leads the head to head 2-1!

    Clever is the man who can predict who will escape this eighth of the draw. You have Tipsarevic, Almagro, polish sensation Janowicz and french veteran Benneteau as seeds and then you have some trouble makers like Federer clone Dimitrov, giant slayer Muller, eternal warrior Hewitt... for any of these guys, reaching the quarter of a Major would be big and when you know this quarter will be at worst against Ferrer they must feel the opportunity. It's not like Ferrer is a pushover, far from that, but the Big Four left very little room in the semi finals of majors for years now.


    MURRAY

    Haase is a tricky customer with a big serve and broad array of shots, but Murray is trickier.

    Both portuguese Sousa and australian Smith are unkown to me. Both are 23 so they are late bloomers or will lose heavily.

    Mayer is the seed and Stakhovsky the possible upset. Two tricky players that love to mix things up, play a lot slice, change pace... they face the master at this type of play though.

    An odd block here with Dolgopolov and Simon, but also Monfils, back unseeded from injury, who will face the ukrainian in the first round for a intriguing match. Giant slayer Lu is also around here. I can see an on fire Dolgopolov or Monfils overpower Murray, but it seems very unlikely a scenario.

    Any other than Del Potro in the quarter would be a surprise and really the only likely candidate is Cilic and I still would be surprised. Del Potro and Murray did not face each other since 2009 when they played several close matches with only one going the way of Del Potro. I must say I was a bit surprised by this stat.


    FEDERER

    Paire is a tall french player that really made an impact last year, climbing into the top 50. Too talented for his own good, he can lose his focus and/or temper but also make the most ludicrous shots with power of deft touch. Unless Federer tries to out-showboat the french he should win by virtue of consistent high standard.

    Davydenko... just outside of the seeding range and currently playing some of his best tennis since his injury in 2010. People knew there would be a stealth bomb in the draw (along with Monfils) and it's Federer who gets it. Will he be able to defuse it? He should be, because the russian did not seem to be at the level he was before his injury, that his when he won the Masters Cup in 2009.

    Tomic played some very solid matches in exhibition (including a win against a bland Djokovic) and reached the final in Sydney beating some quality player along the way so he is at home and surfing a wave of confidence. The guy as a good weapon with his serve, but I doubt his strange brand of off pace game can really bother a Federer who can deal with slices and generate his own pace.

    Kohlschreiber already showed some good things in 2013. The same cannot be said of Raonic who after beating two top 10 in Tokyo last year suffered early exists in all the tournaments he played. Kohlschreiber slayed some giants in the past (like Djokovic at the French, but the next day Soderling beat Nadal and stole the german's fire! - btw the swede got married, got a child and still got mononucleosis), but I have a tough time seeing an upset here from anyone else than an in-form Raonic.

    Tsonga is the top seed here, but he will have to deal with Llodra in the first round. Gasquet, who is also hot in this start of 2013 might have a word to say, but the amazing, the marvelous, the oh so great Tommy Haas might remind them why he was N2 in the world and why in a season at 34, he went from 205 to 21 at the ATP.


    THOUGHTS

    Djokovic has basically what you could expect from a Grand Slam draw as one of the top seeds other than being a tad unlucky with his first round. He should be in quarter and probably in semi.

    Ferrer has the easiest draw as he is also the most vulnerable top seed, he might not make it to the semi, but smart money is still firmly on him.

    Murray has a decent draw, but he will need to be careful: many of the people he will face have the ability to turn a match into a quagmire, to lower opponents to their levels, to mess with their mind. If Murray is not assertive enough, he might spend more energy that he needs to to go through these early rounds, an energy that could be sorely missing when facing a Del Potro and beyond.

    Federer has kind of a shitty draw. He gets the talented guy with a screw loose, the massive undercon and the youngster with the wind in his sails in the first three rounds. After that it falls into the regular Grand Slam fare.
    Last edited by Szlia; 01-11-2013 at 09:42 PM.

  7. #7
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Day One is done.

    - Monaco was seeded 11 and lost 6-1-1 to youngster Kuznetsov. Not sure what happened there, but Kuznetsov is one of these 'potentially future great' (PFG from now on). It's the only big upset of the day.

    - Djokovic, imperial on his serve, sailed past Mathieu with ease.

    - Stepanek prevailed in five against Troicki.

    - Verdasco faced a severe test from PFG Goffin but won in five after being lead two sets to one.

    - A guy to watch is Bautista Agut. The 50ish ranked spaniard won several challengers in 2012, reached the quarter in St-Petersbourg and in 2013 the final of Chennai, beating some quality players along the way. He beat Fognini and will face Meltzer next.

    - Ferrer won cleanly against Rocchus and will not have to face Karlovic as Smyczek beat him.

    - Almagro took five sets to beat journeyman Johnson. All is well since he will face Gimeno-Traver who also went the distance.

    - Similar scenario for Baghdatis and Ito, with the first playing deep into the night.

    - PFG Janowicz went through, but PFG Dimitrov was coldly denied by veteran Benneteau.

    - Hewitt for his potential swan song at the AO was unlucky to draw Tipsarevic as his first round match. He managed to make it a contest against the eighth seed, but lost in straight sets.

  8. #8
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Day Two is done

    - The strong seeds went through with ease. Federer, Murray, Del Potro, Cilic, Simon, Raonic, Gasquet, Tsonga: all through.

    - Dolgopolov(18) was victim of both Monfils and a shitty draw (as Monfils is only unseeded because he comes back from a long injury).

    - Haas(19), the in-form Haas, fell 8-6 in the fifth after almost four hours of battle against counter punching veteran Nieminen.

    - 8-6 in the fifth is also the score that allowed Duckworth to beat Michell in a 4h30 fight of the young australian wild cards.

    - Klizan(27) lost to the hulking german Brands. Brands is journeyman more used to the challenger circuit, but he is playing some very good tennis at the moment. He came out of qualifications in Doha to reach the semi, and he is out of qualies here once again. He is a tiny bit unlucky with his draw though as he will play the very much in-form Tomic next and Davydenko or Federer after that.

    - The talented Kavcic obliterated Bellucci(29). I guess the brazilian did not sleep since he beat Federer in an exhibition match at home.


    Day Two wrapped up the first round, so let's what the 2nd round has in store for us:


    Djokovic vs Harrison: A good test of skill and character for the american PFG.

    Lopez vs Stepanek: neat veteran battle. I expect Stepanek to try and take the net away from Lopez by rushing it himself. It should make for a refreshingly original match.

    Malisse vs Verdasco: we shall get to see how solid Verdasco 's regain of form is with this match against the always tricky belgian.

    Davydenko vs Federer: considering how well Davydenko has been playing of late and how well Federer will have to play to win, this should be a great match.

    Brands vs Tomic: a very in form dark horse in Brands against the home crowd favorite on a 9 matches winning streak. This could turn into an epic.

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    fags like tennis

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    Registered User Nothar's Avatar
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    No fags take the time to shit up a thread for no reason. Go crawl back under your rock jackass.

  11. #11
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Day 3:

    - The only upset of the day: russian youngster Donskoy prevailed over his compatriot Youzhny in five sets. The guy discarded the talented romanian Ungur in the first round and won five challenger events in 2012 with two in november. He'll face Nishikori next.

    - Very tough wins for Tipsarevic over Lacko and for Janowicz over Devvarman. The polish sensation lost his nerves early in the match because of some line calls on a court without Hawk Eye (that's the perverse effect of the system: once you get used to play with it, it's easily infuriating to play without it), found himself two sets to love down, but somehow managed to turn things around (the indian scoring a single game in sets three and four) and prevail in a tight fifth set. These four hours on court might cost him dear in the next round against Almagro.


    In the women draw:

    - Sharapova reached the third round without losing a game and without facing a break point. She plays against Venus Willams next, so much respect if she can double bagel her too!

    - The Australian Curse goes on for Stosur as she lost in the second round. A case of nerves, but also of bad draw since she faced Zheng, one of the very best unseeded player.

  12. #12
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Day Four:

    - Murray, Tsonga, Del Potro, Cilic, Gasquet, Kohlschreiber and Raonic unsurprisingly won in straight sets.

    - More surprisingly, Federer also had a comfortable straight sets win over Davydenko.

    - Even more surprisingly, Ricardas Berankis, lituanian PFG only allowed the 25th seed Mayer to score six games! I am curious to see what he will bring to the table when he faces Murray next.

    - Less of a surprise are the demise of 30th seed Granollers to lanky frenchman Chardy and the very hard work it took for 21st seed Seppi to edge past the very good hard court player that is Istomin. The same can be said of the five set battle of Monfils against Lu, the shotmaking and athletic defense of the frenchman prevailing in the end (but probably costing him dear for his chances in the next round against Simon - though Simon has health problems at the moment and at first thought he would not be able to play).

    - Brands vs Tomic is the only of my predicted hot match that delivered. Three tie-break sets and a 7-5: it can't get much closer than that. Tomic prevailed in the end by the skin of his teeth, giving him the opportunity to become a national hero if he beats Federer in the next round.



    With day four, the second round is over so it's time for the third aka the battle of the seeds.

    8 of the 32 seeds are missing, but only one (Monaco, 11th) from the top 16. Potential upsets:

    Querry(20) vs Wawrinka(15): these guys played an epic at the 2010 US Open. We could very well see another one here as both are back to the kind of level they had then.

    Ferrer (4)vs Baghdatis(28): The man from Cyprus has many good memories to draw upon when playing at the AO. One of them is fighting in 2010 from two sets to love down against Ferrer and winning in five!

    Janowicz(24) vs Almagro(10): The huge serving of the man from Poland can be very frustrating to opponents and Almagro is certainly not one known to keep his cool when things don't go his way.

    Simon(14) vs Monfils: One is not 100% fit, the other is tired but hungry. This, plus them being countrymen and very different styles could lead to an intriguing match.

    Kohlschreiber(17) vs Raonic(13): the german has been playing very well lately and he is an even keel and experienced guy, so he will calmly wait for his openings, knowing full well that they will be rare.

    Less likely to end in an upset, but a potentially good glimpses at the future of tennis, I will try to see the Murray vs Berankis and Federer vs Tomic. It's funny that these two battle with new faces while Ferrer and Djokovic face guys who shone and faded all through the last decade in Stepanek and Baghdatis.


    Slight note: it seems the court plays fast and with a relatively low bounce. I know a GOAT who must be happy about it.
    Last edited by Szlia; 01-17-2013 at 05:59 PM.

  13. #13
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    R32 is done!

    My prognostics were shitty:

    - Wawrinka won in straight sets.

    - Ferrer controlled Baghdatis.

    - Almagro kept nerves of steel against Janowicz.

    - Raonic kept Kohlschreiber at arms' length.

    - Simon vs Monfils produced a marathon of a match, but in the end it was not really an opposition in styles, both guys were content just to defend and wait for the other to take risk to then try and counter-punch, Simon by taking the ball early, Monfils by using his power. End result rallies that got up to 71 shots and a match that lasted 4h40 ending with two zombies. If Simon scores more than 6 games against Murray, he is a god amongst men (or his physio is).

    There were three upsets I did not expect at all:

    - Seppi proved too resilient for Cilic, so the seeded underdog prevailed.

    - Big serving Anderson bested in-form Verdasco.

    - Chardy, yes, Chardy, drowned Del Potro in winners and managed to create the unprobable upset at the very end of the fifth set. Chardy is one of these guys with big weapons and an aggressive game plan, which means he will beat some great players here and there, but will have trouble achieving the kind of consistency that allow to get rewards and not only prestige. He is getting better at managing his shots though: ranking does not lie, and his is firmly in the top 50.

    The direct consequence of these upset is that Murray, after discarding zombie-Simon in his next match, will play Chardy or Seppi in his quarter.

    Oh and Federer did not blink against Tomic, producing so top drawer stuff to win in straights. It could have gone the other way around as Tomic only lost his opening service game because of nerves and lead 5-2 in the 2nd set tie-breaker... in the end, he found himself two sets to love down against a suddenly relaxed Federer and a mountain to claimb... a 6-1 closed the match.

  14. #14
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    We have our quarterfinals:

    Djokovic started poorly against a very solid Wawrinka. The swiss N2 played well and made things very uncomfortable for the defender who had trouble finding his range (so many uncharacteristic errors) and his footing (the guy was slipping like crazy). As Wawrinka was about to take a very commanding 6-1 6-3 lead, things changed slightly. Wawrinka suddenly realized the magnitude of his performance and swung a little less freely, Djokovic changed shoes and, with his back against the wall found again this survivor instinct, this never say die attitude that has been his trademark for the last two seasons, getting in many many very tough matches but almost winning them all. And the tide turned. Instead of losing the set 6-3, Djokovic won it 7-5 and even got an early break in the third. All credit to Wawrinka, he managed to react, raise his game, fight back and cancel the break, forcing Djokovic to find an extra gear to close the set 6-4. At this point, surely Wawrinka would crumble? Surely. Nope: the swiss also found an extra gear which lead both players in a fourth set breaker that the swiss won to earn the right to play a decider. No tie-breaker in the fifth in the AO and Wawrinka was the Mahut of the day, forced to play catch up again and again after breaks were exchanged early. The underdog refused to flinch, fought and fought, producing tennis as stellar as his opponent's despite the duration of the match. But after saving in a masterful manner a first match point at 11-10 a cheap error brought another, resulting in another monumental rally won after 5 hours of battle by Djokovic.
    vs
    Berdych has yet to lose a set. Dominating Anderson through the first two sets of their match, he found himself in a tough battle in the third, but did not blink, producing the goods again and again in a breaker that ended at 15-13!

    Last year, Djokovic played a marathon against Murray in the semi only to play and win another marathon in the final against Nadal, so it's difficult to say that Berdych will benefit from the serb's fatigue. What can be said though is that the match might turn into another endless dogfight and that the semi also very well could and that, no matter who you are, the accumulation of effort has to be paid at short, medium and sometime even long term.


    Ferrer continues to show that being the weakest link of the top 4 does not mean he is a weak link at all. Facing the offensive Nishikori that had a 2-1 advantage in head to head (the japanese won their last meeting at the 2012 Olympics), the spaniard left no openings and won in straight sets.
    vs
    Almagro benefited from the withdrawal of an ailing Tisparevic to go through.

    Almagro never beat Ferrer. The veteran is probably just too steady, just defending a little too well, to make it possible for Almagro to have more winners than unforced errors. That said, tennis history is filled with guys breaking huge losing streaks.


    Chardy confirmed his performance against Del Potro by besting Seppi. The french started the match very flat but then went to work and prevailed.
    vs
    Murray had no problem discarding all that was left of Simon after his epic against Monfils.

    This one could be intriguing. Not only because Chardy won their last meeting in Cinci last year, but also because it's such an opposition in styles. Chardy tries to make the points as short as possible, while Murray is usually content defending, counter-punching, out-rallying and discombobulating his opponents. Murray's return of serve will be key to not allow Chardy to dictate play, because if he does, then Murray's weight in the equation is greatly reduced, it becomes only about Chardy being able to execute his aggressive game play and, obviously, he showed that, these days, he can.


    Tsonga continues to prove that he found a maturity that allows him to repeat again and again high quality performances. Here again winning in four sets in a very tricky match against a talented and in form compatriot in Gasquet.
    vs
    Federer had to face PFG in Tomic and that resulted in a first set well managed, a close second won in a breaker and a solo in the third against a mentally broken opponent. It was a repeat scenario against PFG Raonic who simply could not deal with Federer's serve and with the intensity of the swiss in the rallies. With that win, Federer will play his 35th grand slam quarterfinal in a row. Fun fact: only 5 of the other 127 players in the draw competed in the previous 34 grand slams! Another comparison is that Djokovic would need to reach the quarterfinals of the AO in 2018 to match that streak.

    Strangely, they faced each other 8 times in 2011 (6-2 Federer - 2-2 on fast outdoor) but never in 2012. For my money, Tsonga is a little better now than then, but Federer has been very impressive in these first few rounds, nimble on his feet, very consistent with his shots, serving well... yeah, the guy will be tough to beat.

  15. #15
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    Wawrinka - Djokovic is definitely the match of the tournament so far. That was very fun to watch.

    I really thought Raonic would put up a better showing. Then again, Federer is Federer.

    If Stevens beats Serena (she won't) she will be the media sweetheart of 2013 (if she isn't already).

    Is Azarenka the most hated #1 in recent memory? Everywhere she goes the crowd is rooting for her opponent.

    So far I see no reason to think the top 4 seeds in men's will not make the semi's. Novak had a rough one with Stan but if anyone can recover from that and still dominate, it's him.

    Right now I'd predict Djokovic over Murray and for Sharapova to steamroll her way to the finals only to get thoroughly dismantled by Serena.

  16. #16
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    I think people don't like Azarenka because of the screaming, which is a form of crypto-misogyny. Personally, I am not a huge fan (I love Stosur and all the chinese - Li, Zheng, Peng - or odd players like Martic, Niculescu, Daniilidou, Begu, Date-Krumm...), but you have to respect her work ethic, her will to make her game evolve and, seriously, how can you hate a girl who says her favorite player of all time is Edberg?

    As far as being the most hated... people hated on Wozniacki a lot and I know I did because the girl had no game, she really 'just' ran and made no mistake and found herself World N1 as a reward for her consistency, but not her excellence! She tried to make her game evolve without much success and now her opponents know what to expect and know how to play her better (I used to say she was an IQ test for the WTA players as you had to build the points to win, but now the cheat cards are out and coaching is allowed so... yeah).

    In the men's draw, I would be shocked if top 4 guys cruise into the semis, there is just too much quality on the other side of net for it to be easy for all four of them. Even if there is no upset, what happens in the quarterfinals could have a big impact on the semis. Djokovic playing Ferrer after a 6-2 6-2 6-2 win over Berdych is a different story than him playing the spaniard after another five hours match!

  17. #17
    The King of Beers Araxen's Avatar
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    Woz was a lot more hated when she was #1. She's pretty but her moonballing ways needed to go. She was also hated because she was #1 and Slamless.

  18. #18
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    The way I see tennis is that it can be similar to baseball in a way. For one, it is possible in theory that a baseball game can never end. Same with tennis. Also there is this idea of a 'perfect game' (or match). In baseball a perfect game is when a pitcher doesn't allow a single person on base. In tennis it simply means that you are able to hit every shot you intend to and that you intended to hit the correct shot to begin with AND that you have the physical ability to pull it off. This idea of 'perfect tennis' will never be achieved, ever, but we root for those who can get as close as possible. That's why Olympic, Davis Cup, Team Tennis, and even Doubles will never be as popular as Singles. We don't give a shit where you're from, why you play, or what gender you are. If you can produce a product that can be considered 'as close to perfect as can be reasonably expected' then we will love you and shower you with money and bitches. Right now, the Big 4 in Men's are unquestionably producing more perfect tennis than anyone else. Ferrer is close but he strikes me as Wozniacki-ish. Solid and reliable but not much flash. Lacking that one 'thing' that sets you above. Certainly, even the big dogs can have a bad day. Betting on the Big 4 isn't a guarantee, but having seen their ceiling, the odds are still in their favor. They more easily produce perfect tennis than the others. At least, this is what I see when I watch.

    Azarenka's screeching is part of it but people don't hate on Sharapova that much. I think the other part of it is her body language. When she's winning she has an arrogant swagger that people pick up on and dislike. And when she's losing she blames every person or thing but herself (or so her body language suggests). Every time she smashes a racket she gets booed. But I suppose it's possible to transcend it all. She can go full Mcenroe and become a chariacture of herself and have people almost DEMAND she smash a racket at every questionable call for amusement of the crowd. Not sure if that's it or not, just so long as she posses for Playboy it's all good.
    Last edited by AngryGerbil; 01-22-2013 at 02:21 AM.

  19. #19
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    Almagro is about to declare me wrong and Szlia right. I saw him win some smaller tournament a month or so ago and I remember thinking he looked like he was a step ahead. Maybe it was against Tipsaravic? Either way, Spain is cranking them out.

    Wow, Almeltdowngro.
    Last edited by AngryGerbil; 01-22-2013 at 05:32 AM.

  20. #20
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    Wow. The story will be that Serena was injured but still...wow.

    I haven't used the word wow enough in this thread.
    Last edited by AngryGerbil; 01-23-2013 at 04:49 AM.

  21. #21
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    I only saw the last few points, so here is a chunk of the post match interview that sheds some light on what happened on court:

    Q. You were serving at about 130 kilometer an hour after the back problem. What exactly happened? Was it tight?
    SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, a few days ago it just got really tight and I had no rotation on it. I went for this dropshot in the second set and it just locked up on me, so...
    I think that it just I couldn't really rotate after that, which I guess is normal. I don't know.

    Q. That point where it happened, can you talk us through that moment.
    SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I was running to the net for a dropshot. As I went to hit it, it was on the backhand. I even screamed on the court. I was like, Ahh. I totally locked up after that. It was just like it was a little painful.
    But, I mean, it's okay. It was what it was.

    Q. When you went off court, what sort of treatment did you have? Did you take any antiinflammatories?
    SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, there's only so much you can do for that. Not too much you can do. Just tried to have it loosened up a little bit. I'm always on antiinflams for my ankle, so you can't do too much more.

    Q. Did it feel better when you came back on? Were you freer?
    SERENA WILLIAMS: No. It was still tough. It's hard to rotate to the backhand. It was giving me trouble. But it was fine. I think my opponent played well and was able to do a really good job.

    Q. The microphones on court picked up you saying this has been the worst two weeks. What did you mean by that?
    SERENA WILLIAMS: I've had a tough two weeks between the ankle, which is like this big every day, and my back, which started hurting. A lot of stuff, so...
    It was what it was.
    Serena Williams without her serve and backhand is a much less formidable opponent, but then again, Stephens still had to fight against the aura and will of her idol and the pressure of this momentous occasion to reach the semi of a slam. Many would have beat themselves, but Stephens managed to keep enough composure to prevail. It should also be mentioned that she played a decent first set, winning to love three service games and saving two out of three break points in a fourth.

  22. #22
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    So we have our semi finals and... surprise surprise... the four top seeds went through. In the history of open era tennis, it's a relatively rare event (17ishth time out of 190ish slams), but somehow a lot more common in the past few years!

    Djokovic was expected to struggle against Berdych, but the 5th seed only managed to break out of his shell and swing freely for the duration of one set, the second. A bit of a pity considering he won it.. only to badly lose the next two.
    vs
    Ferrer is the weakest of the top four, knowing full well that he is a mere alternate for an injured Nadal. For the longest time in his quarter, it seemed Almagro would prevail as he was cruising against an out of sorts Ferrer. Leading two sets to love, serving several times for the match, somehow the underdog could not close it, putting his nerves and then his fitness under the microscope. Both flinched, giving Ferrer an opportunity he did not refuse.

    With a surprisingly easy and fast victory over Berdych, Djokovic arrives in this semifinal with a lot more confidence and energy than previously expected. The opposite is true for Ferrer, who found himself in an endless dogfight where he struggled greatly with his level of play. The spaniard knows that he will have to play a lot better to stand any chance at all against Djokovic, so that's additional pressure right there. The start of the match should give the tone.


    Murray cruised past Chardy. The frenchman managed to fight back from a two breaks deficit in the first set, but then Murray put the kibosh on this rebellion and left only crumbs to his opponent.
    vs
    Federer cruised through his tough draw until facing Tsonga, who proved as dangerous as expected. Serving well, aggressive from the get go, managing his forehand well and, most importantly, playing some heavy and steady shots with his backhand, Tsonga managed, without redlining his game, to make things very uncomfortable for Federer. Playing a decent match, the swiss did not serve as well as he hoped, and maybe played a little too conservatively, probing Tsonga with his shots, trying to get errors from him (errors that were too rare today for this to be a very good strategy). Still, the world N2 managed to produce some stellar stuff when he needed it the most to bank the first set in a breaker. Not demoralized, Tsonga soldiered on, capitalized on a rare opportunity while not giving any and tied the match. Breaks got exchanged in the third and it seemed for a while that Tsonga was dominating the debate, but Federer managed to reach and win another tie-break and immediately broke Tsonga in the fourth. Surely that blow would be fatal to the underdog? Not so: Tsonga immediatly broke back, charged on, broke again and won the fourth. At this point, Federer decided a change in strategy was in order and decided to be more aggressive, go forward and asphyxiate Tsonga. It payed dividends as after three hours of high octane tennis there was a little drop in the intensity and precision of the frenchman, making him commit a little more unforced errors. That was enough for the World N2 to dominate and close the match.

    Federer was pushed the distance, but his match still remained relatively short and his previous rounds definitely were, so he should still be pretty fresh for the semi. Murray certainly will be fresh, but that could also be a double edged sword as, going through a very easy draw (the only seed he faced was an injured Simon) he is not battle hardened and so might find it difficult to raise his game straight from 2nd gear to 6th. I doubt that could cost him the match, but that could cost him the first set or an early break.


    PS: By reaching the semifinal, Djokovic will keep his N1 ranking no matter what.

  23. #23
    The King of Beers Araxen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AngryGerbil View Post
    Wow. The story will be that Serena was injured but still...wow.

    I haven't used the word wow enough in this thread.
    The real story should be Serena is old(for Tennis that is) and this is what happens to old tennis players. No wow's for me.

  24. #24
    The King of Beers Araxen's Avatar
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    Sloan lost. =(

    Hopefully we see more of her in the later rounds of future slams.

  25. #25
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    I did not see the match, but it was one way traffic between Djokovic and Ferrer, resulting in a crushing straight set victory in 90 minutes!

    It was another story between Federer and Murray. The swiss played an ok match, but found himself on the edge of the sword the whole way through as Murray served supremely well and gave precious little on the return of serve. With two or three unreturned serves per game and some very solid and positive ground strokes (by positive, I mean trying to do something with the ball, trying constantly to move and hurt the opponent, not just trying to stay in the rallies), Murray's service games were a fortress. A 70ish first serve percentage made sure it remained impregnable. Having to fight tooth and nail on most his service game, Federer could not avoid the occasional break in the first set and barely managed to steady the ship to force a breaker in the second. At this point, Murray displayed some little signs of tension: less first serves, a couple wayward shots... so the GOAT pounced on the opportunity and tied the game.

    Unruffled, Murray went back to his arsenal of bombs down the T and daggers sliced wide, happy to trade backhands with Federer should a rally ensue. This time again, Federer blinked first and found himself two sets to one down. Just when things started to smell rotten for the World N2, he got what he hoped for: a bad service game by Murray. Here again, Federer made the most of the opportunity to break and take the lead. Murray's lull almost cost him a double break, but he shook out of it and not only did he save his serve, he broke back and then even broke again to serve for the match at 6-5. During the change of ends, sitting on his chair, Federer knew he still had the tiniest of chances: closing a match is always tough. Compound the pressure of the moment and the pressure of an opponent giving nothing for free and good things can happen (see: Almagro vs Ferrer). And good things happened for the man from Basel: suddenly finding two extra gears in front of a nervous Murray, he pushed the set to a tie-break and then pushed the match to a fifth set! That was some major Houdini shit right there!

    Serving first in the fifth, Murray had a very bitter potion to swallow: two points away from victory on his own serve and now back to square one after more than three hours of play he dominated almost through and through. A lesser player would have crumbled. In fact, Murray most certainly would have been that lesser player one or two years ago. But not today. Not today. The world N3 came strengthened out of his ordeal. Hungry, aggressive, intense, he raced to a 3-0 lead winning 12 of the first 16 points of the set. Dominated and shell-shocked by Murray's barrage of service winners, Federer tried to hang in there, to wait for an opening even if it should come, like in the fourth set, at the very last moment. This plan did not come into fruition as Murray did not have to serve for the match. At 5-2 a couple good returns and a couple unforced errors sealed the fate of the four hours match: an impressive Murray is through to the final.
    Last edited by Szlia; 01-25-2013 at 02:34 PM.

  26. #26
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    The announcers called them tears of joy but this human saw tears of frustration and relief. I'm almost mad at that crowd. You can only barely cheer for a Grand Slam Champion because she screeches? That's like not voting for a presidential candidate because they have bad hair.

  27. #27
    The King of Beers Araxen's Avatar
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    The screeching on the women side has gotten out of hand so I don't blame anybody for hating on the screehers. It needs to go.

  28. #28
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Araxen View Post
    The screeching on the women side has gotten out of hand so I don't blame anybody for hating on the screehers. It needs to go.
    I can't disagree any more. Vika and Sharapova are the only big names left who do it. But that's moot in any case because even if every player did it, so what? I guess I watch for a different reason. Did you pass a serve and volley player with a backhand down the line? Screech away baby! Produce perfect tennis, that is the goal, that's what I watch to see.

  29. #29
    The King of Beers Araxen's Avatar
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    Uh no, Serena does it. She sounds like a hog in heat when she gets going. There are more.

  30. #30
    1980-2015 Adam12's Avatar
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    Yeah, it's annoying and retarded. There's a difference between a loud exhale (Agassi comes to mind) and a fucking screech. Screeching is gamesmanship, whether it has become automatic through repetition or not.

  31. #31
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    There are several layers with the screaming debate in women's tennis. Let's look at a specific one through this question: Why does Sharapova scream? A part of the answer comes with another question: When doesn't Sharapova scream? Sharapova usually stops screaming at around the tenth shot of a rally. This begs another question: How comes she seems to always be screaming? Because in 99% of the cases, she won or lost the point before the tenth shot. Why? Because Sharapova, like several others on the WTA, has a pretty simple game plan: hit every single shot with the highest possible intensity. There is no construction, no variation, just relentless assault. You don't need to be Miyagi sensei to know that if you want to get the highest possible intensity in an explosive movement, you need to shout. You also don't need to be Goliath to know that women's larynx tend to produce sounds with a higher pitch.

    There are many male player who also shout on high intensity shots. The thing is that points are built, so these shots are occasional. There are exceptions though, like Ferrer who screams on like 80% of his shots.

    Gamesmanship would be Radwanska screaming when she hits a drop shot (which she does not).

    PS: Djokovic won. I hear they played long rallies and in the end the guy who played the 90 minutes semi three days ago beat the guy who played the 240 minutes semi two days ago.
    Last edited by Szlia; 01-27-2013 at 11:08 PM.

  32. #32
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    It's the first round of the Davis Cup this week-end.

    After two days, Serbia beat Belgium, France beat Israel and Argentina beat Germany. This last one is a bit surprising, but Haas was not playing for the germans and Kohlschreiber found himself in a dog fight against the unheralded Berlocq and was forced to retire because of a hamstring injury while on serve in the fifth.

    Italy, at home, leads 2-1 against Croatia, the italian clinching a possibly crucial point in the double after both N1 won their single.

    The USA lead 2-1 against Brazil in Jacksonville, the double specialists Mello and Soares dening the Bryan brothers the winning point, but probably only delaying the inevitable as even if Bellucci beats Isner, I have a hard time believing journeyman Alves could pull the upset against Querrey.

    Kazakhstan leads Austria 2-1. This one is a bit odd, because even if Kazakhstan is playing at home, they are spearheaded by Kukushkin who is 155 at the ATP and who did not even play! The N2 is the extremely talented but losing machine Golubev (165) and the third is the short tempered and now poorly ranked Korolev (211)... to make things even more bizarre, all these Kazakh players are former Russians who changed passport for money and a shot at playing Davis Cup. To make things even more odd, the point the Austrian won is actually the double as Korolev beat Melzer(30) in straight sets!

    Last but not least, Czech Republic is leading Switzerland 2-1 in Geneva. Historically, both teams are two men teams: Federer and Wawrinka for one and Berdych and Stepanek for the other. The thing is this time (like most times) Federer is not playing and Stepanek is injured. On day one, Wawrinka discarded with ease the Czech N2 Lukas "Nadal Slayer" Rosol and Berdych did the same against the swiss youngster Laaksonen (a sacrificial lamb to allow the swiss N2 to be fresher on day three). At 1-1, the double was critical as a Swiss win would mean a shot for Wawrinka to pull the upset against Berdych (not totally unlikely considering his current level of play) and a shot for Chiudineli, a competent but often injured player, to pull the upset against the erratic Rosol. Both team were very aware of that fact so they fought tooth and nail, the biggest surprise coming from the quality of Chiudineli's serve, dropping bomb after bomb, hour after hour. Yeah... because it lasted a long while.

    It was pushed to a fifth set, but the swiss had the double disadvantage of serving behind and of having not broken the czech since the second set... they got a few opportunities they did not convert and on their serve managed to pull one unlikely Houdini escape trick after the other, well helped by a Rosol missing most of his returns and a Berdych winning most his receiving points... except on break points. Break points that at 5-4 started to become match points. And those piled up as twice Wawrinka recovered from 0-40 in ten minutes games (notably saving one with the boldest of backhand down the line). It also seemed that there never was two players of the same team playing well at the same time, making a break of serve that much more unlikely. As the score grew and the time elapsed, it became clear that *something* needed to happen for the match to ever finish. That something took the shape of Chiudineli's first bad serving game, unceremoniously concluded by a cold shower of a double fault on the czechs' 13th match point. 24-22 in the fifth after 7h02 of battle, making it the second longest lasting match in the history of tennis and by a significant margin the longest single day match ever.

  33. #33
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Cilic kept the croatian hopes alive by beating Seppi and winning his 2nd single point, leaving Italy on the pretty dangerous situation: relying on head case Fognini to win a match. As Dodig clinched the first set, the italian public must have started to doubt the coach's choice, but Fognini turned the match around and gave to Italy its first Davis Cup World Group victory in 15 years!

    As I anticipated, Bellucci managed to beat Isner leaving all the brazilian hopes on the shoulder of Alves. The underdog won the first set against a probably nervous Querrey, but then the american set the record straight even if he needed a tie-breaker in the fourth.

    Switzerland needed two wins on Sunday and it looked all the more unlikely when an opportunistic Berdych raced to a two sets to love lead against Wawrinka. In front of his home crowd, the swiss managed to raise his level in the third grabbing an early break and not letting go of it. That lead to a pretty high quality fourth set, made that much more impressive when you realize the amount of tennis played by both guys in the last couple of days. Both managed to defend their service games, so we found ourselves in a tie-breaker. Wawrinka raced ahead with some aggressive play and quickly lead 5-2. The impressive scoreline is a bit misleading as only a single mini-break separated the two players. Wawrinka almost got a second one with an attempt at a winning return down the line, but missed, allowing Berdych to reach the much more threatening scoreline of 5-4. Still, the swiss had two serves to tie the match and push it to a fifth where he would be serving first... We'll never know what would have happened in that decisive set as a rock solid Berdych proceeded to steal both of Wawrinka service points and close the match and the tie on his serve. The team really can't be blamed, but there are certainly some regrets to have, especially in this year's draw where Spain lost in the first round and the USA faces Serbia in the second. Bah.



    In other news, Nadal should be back playing this week as he is doing the south american clay swing (much to the chagrin of Ferrer and Almagro I assume).

  34. #34
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    Anyone here actually play? I bought Oscar Wegner's book and am already thinking of firing my instructor.

  35. #35
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    If there was a single right way to teach tennis, there would not be such a rich variety of techniques among the top players. I mean I read a book by a french coach who was a pretty mediocre player and brought a club player to the top 100 through breathing, relaxation and body awareness techniques, mostly hand feeding balls from a basket with the player in the service box! The difficulty is finding the right person with the right method for oneself.

    I am happy with mine because I respect his achievements as a player and his experience as a coach, he is clear in his explanations and has a sharp eye to see what went wrong in the execution of shots. He has a kind of spacio-musical approach though that I am not 100% in sync with (for him, each type of shot has it's own little preparation-bounce-execution rhythm and a specific point of impact in relation to the body - when he wants to be super steady he mentally counts 1 2 3 with the correct rhythm on each and every shot... let's just say I am more instinctive!).

  36. #36
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    I think everything you said is probably right. I don't think my instructor is right for me. Maybe a Wegner-esque instructor can help me and maybe he can't but the words make enough sense, to me, to at least be worth a try. Now, to find one...

    For those who might not know, the thing with my tennis instructor/coach is that he is attempting to control every muscle in my body on every possible shot I can make. Wegner says simply that tennis is a game of Hand-Eye coordination. Not Hand-Eye-Shoulders-Hips-Feet-Toes-Offhand-Head-Eyes-Fingers coordination. Focus on your hands and the ball, the rest will take care of itself. No human on earth can coordinate all of those things with anything other than pure basic athletic instinct, he says. I want to try it.
    Last edited by AngryGerbil; 02-13-2013 at 05:09 AM.

  37. #37
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    So.... It's Master 1000 time in Indian Wells which is almost a mini Grand Slam as it's a 96 players draw with both men and women playing. The first two rounds have been played already and, surprisingly, almost a third of the seeded players lost their opening match! Let's go through the draw:


    Djokovic has yet to lose a match in 2013 but found himself in a strange topsy-turvy affair against italian head case Fognini. The world N1 raced through the first set in 17 minutes against a barely playing Fognini who accumulated unforced errors, but as Djokovic lost a bit of focus and intensity in the second, the italian started to play dramatically better even winning the second set and having opportunities to break early in the third. Order was restored though and the serb won the decider.
    vs
    Dimitrov

    Querrey dealt well with Karlovic's serve and won in straight sets without a breaker. Still a decent week for croatian veteran Karlovic has he went through qualies and won a match in the main draw.
    vs
    Matosevic benefited from the funk Monaco seems to be into since the olympics. The guy has one good week in Kuala Lumpur and won the title there he has a 4 win to 11 losses record on the atp tour!

    Cilic
    vs
    Raonic who benefited from Llodra retirement.

    Fish played a topsy-turvy match against compatriot Reynolds for his first match on tour since the US Open.
    vs
    Tsonga got well tested by Blake but the aging american wild card could not do more. We shall see more of his marvelous brand of tennis though as some wins at challenger level put him back in the top 100.


    Murray started a little flat against a not intimidated russian youngster: Donskoy. Playing a pretty complete game, with a decent first serve, a very steady backhand, a forehand that he can lift a lot but also flatten, decent net play, good shot selection, willing to defend patiently if need be (over the course of the match the russian won two third of the long rallies!) and not afraid to take the ball early and inject a lot of pace when he has opportunities, Donskoy raced to a 5-1 lead. Murray rebelled, managed to even the score at 5-5 and just when you expected the russian to melt down, drop his shoulder and except his fate, he broke Murray for a third time and closed the set! The third seed did not find the joke to his liking though and raised his game another notch as Donskoy's level dropped a little (less first serves, more unforced errors) which resulted in two 6-2 sets. It will be interesting to see more of Donskoy in the future.
    vs
    Lu beat the very talented and seeded Klizan in two tie-breakers.

    Berlocq upset a Dolgopolov who has not won many matches lately other than a good run in Valencia back in October.
    vs
    Nishikori is on a very good run in 2013 with an ATP 500 win and only three losses: two to top 10 players an a retirement. It takes something special to beat him lately.

    Almagro
    vs
    Haas has been playing so well since his 876876th return. The thing is he is not only playing well, he is playing consistently well! Impressive.

    Phau, the german journeyman, got the better of Chardy.
    vs
    Del Potro had a tricky first match against nemesis Davydenko. The tower of Tandil is a lot closer to his very best than the russian is, so the seventh seed prevailed.


    Berdych
    vs
    Mayer (note that the 27th seed easily beat Goffin who has yet to confirm the promising things he showed back in the French Open).

    Janowicz had the misfortune to play one of the toughest unseeded player in the draw in Nalbandian, but he managed to prevail in three sets.
    vs
    Gasquet reminded Tomic that he is not yet as good as he believe he is.

    Simon played a simonesque match against italian Lorenzi as he won 7-5 in the third after being lead 5-1 or something... I recently saw him play another match against a player ranked a lot lower than him that turned into yet another three sets dogfight and Simon was furious "Why does it always have to be like this! Why can't I just win 6-2 6-2 without drama!" On the up side for the frenchman, he tends to win most of these matches!
    vs
    Paire, the french trickster, cleanly beat the 21st seed Kohlschreiber.

    Nieminen is in form, Verdasco has not been for a while, the seeded spaniard scored a single game!
    vs
    Anderson has big weapons with his serve and groundstrokes and it rewarded him with the biggest upset sofar: a three sets win against 4th seed Ferrer. To make it even sweeter for the south african, he fought back from a set down.


    Nadal played the south american clay court swing, won two titles there with good wins over Almagro and Ferrer, but also lost in a final against Zeballos of all people! He faced a good test during a set against american youngster Harrison, but prevailed in straight sets.
    vs
    Mayer upset the 30th seed Youzhny who has been caught in a spiral of losses.

    Seppi is 29 but is currently near its best ranking ever, thanks to some decent performances at Grand Slam level and some very good results at ATP 250 level.
    vs
    Gulbis, as you might know, is one of my favorite players. After spending the bulk of 2012 losing first round matches he counted on his fingers the number of years he could hope to be in top shape and wisely decided to train a little more and party a little less. In fact, instead of going to the Australian Open qualies, he decided to train some more and start his season later. A good idea as he now played 18 matches on tour and won 16, his two losses coming to Berdych and Del Potro in competitive matches. This week, after fighting his way out of qualies, he convincingly beat Lopez and then dismantled a discombobulated Tipsarevic 6-2 6-0. It should be noted that he once again changed his forehand and has now one of the most strange preparation on tour, with a huge loop and the left arm straightened like the wing of an albatross. Ugly... but effective.

    Hewitt fights and over the course of three sets against Isner, he managed to be the one never dropping his serve! Come Ooooooooooooooooooooooon!
    vs
    Wawrinka

    Dodig is no stranger to upsets and pulled a clean one against Benneteau.
    vs
    Federer had not the most successful run since the AO, has he lost in straight sets to the aforementioned Benneteau in Rotterdam and lost to Berdych in Dubai after having three match points. This puts his N2 ranking in jeopardy, but the swiss did not seem to feel any pressure from it as he played some brilliant, half-exhibition half-execution tennis against Istomin. The Uzbek still managed to be the one making the the shot of the day, with an astounding reflex at the net, redirecting a Federer smash to the open court!


    The bottom half of the draw plays today.

  38. #38
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Third round is completed. Today is the day of the round of 16:

    Djokovic got tested during a set by Dimitrov. The bulgarian broke first and served for the first set, but served four doubles (not in a row, but still...) and later got trampled in the tie-breaker before fading in the second set. Not just there yet...
    vs
    Querrey

    Raonic rallied from a set down to upset Cilic.
    vs
    Tsonga found himself in a tough battle against Fish, but the american's lack of match play showed more in his mental fortitude than in his game as he lost his lead in the first set breaker and then lost his lead in the second set to get crushed in a second tie-break...

    Murray
    vs
    Berlocq impressed me in his match against Nishikori, playing with a lot of intensity, a lot of spin, power, pace and with alarmingly few unforced errors. I am not sure if the japanese N1 was dejected or injured, but in the end he just rolled over.

    Haas was almost the victim of a nasty trick played by the rules and the in the end he played a nasty trick on Almagro. 4-4 40-40 in the third set, Haas gets a time violation (more on that in another post), lose his temper and, two points later, his serve. Almagro reaches match point on his serve, a big rally ensues, guys hit hard and deep, move themselves around and suddenly Haas decides to break the rythm and play a pretty crappy down the line drop shot. So crappy in fact that Almagro is on it with ease. Early enough in fact to play an aggressive shot, a final emphatic winner to put the match to bed. Problem: 99% of easy shots are played cross court and Haas knows this, anticipates, and manage to redirect Almagro's missile into the open court... You need to be a Zen master to get over that on a match point and Almagro is no Zen master. Two games and a tie-break later, Haas is in the fourth round.
    vs
    Del Potro

    Berdych
    vs
    Gasquet had a surprisingly easy time discarding Janowicz. The pole played a poor match though. The serve misfired a lot and when it happens to a player that heavily relies on it to win a lot of free points, it puts a lot more pressure on the rest of their game than usual and as a result also misfire ground strokes. Gasquet made the most of the situation, ran away with the first set, took an early lead in the second and never surrendered it.

    Simon pulled a simon and won in three sets after losing the first against compatriot Paire.
    vs
    Anderson must be in very fine form because he had no problem at all against Nieminen.

    Nadal did not have to play as Mayer retired because of back problems.
    vs
    Gulbis made it look like smooth sailing at first, but played a catastrophic service game when came time to close the first set and totally lost the plot for a few games after that. It seemed the Gulbis of old was back, with broken rackets and constant chatter with the ref' and all (he took a warning for coaching at some point, upon denunciation from a line judge, he sure did not enjoy that!), but he somehow managed to refocus and overpower Seppi, whose consistency remained a constant source of frustration for the latvian.

    Wawrinka proved a little too solid to allow Hewitt to plant the seed of doubt.
    vs
    Federer



    A lot of intriguing match-ups in this round of 16! Let's hope the Gulbis vs Nadal delivers!

  39. #39
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    For a tournament that started with some crazy upsets, there is not much left of it in the draw: eight spots in the quarter finals, seven of the top eight seeds made it through there. The one missing is Ferrer, the fourth seed, and Anderson managed to confirm his second round giant slaying feat by beating Nieminen and then the 13th seed Simon to go all the way to the quarters. It's nice, because usually the guy that claims the big scalp just opens the draw for others. Here, Anderson is reaping what he sowed.

    So:

    Djokovic beat Querrey in straight sets with a surprisingly not that unconventional Bagel / Breaker combo. I'll leave psychologists explain that one.
    vs
    Tsonga prevailed in a very tight three sets match against Raonic, where both guys gave each other very few opportunities. This one had the most bizarre ending because the scoreboard croaked and both players lost track of the score. So when Raonic served a double fault on match point, he realized he got broken, but not that he lost and Tsonga did not realize he won until the chair umpire had to insist "That's it guys, it's over! I said it: game set and match." Most anticlimactic ending ever!

    Murray beat Berlocq in straight sets, but the argentinian probably regrets that he was not able to clinch at least one considering he broke Murray three times.
    vs
    Del Potro won the most one sided of the fourth round match against Haas.

    Berdych lost his previous two matches to Gasquet, but a strong start cemented a straight set victory.
    vs
    Anderson almost got simon'ed, but in the end won in three.

    Nadal found himself in the tough battle that was expected. Gulbis started strongly, serving well and dominating from the baseline to the point Nadal avoided the Gulbis forehand, fearing the random winners more than hoping for the unforced errors. The problem is that Gulbis' backhand is the steadier, sounder shot. He is certainly less aggressive from that wing, but even the Nadal spin does not bother him that much because of his size and a strength, enabling him to play shoulder height backhands without much trouble. At the end of the first set, Nadal played, out of nowhere, a terrible game on serve to give the first set to Gulbis, but the spaniard made amend immediately at the beginning of the second set by jumping to the throat of a slightly unfocused Gulbis. At first it seemed like the set would flew by the latvian (I *think* Nadal had a two breaks leads), but he still managed to make it somewhat competitive by breaking Nadal once. The third set proved to be a very very tight affair, with a lot of 30-30 points very well defended by the servers, a number of high quality shots at very tense moments (notably Gulbis managed to manufacture the most subtle sliced passing shot with an acute angle while pushed back and on the run), but just when we thought it would culminate in a third set breaker, Gulbis missed just a little too many forehands and Nadal made the most of his only break point of the set. A tough lesson for Gulbis who paid a steep price for two short passages of poor play.
    vs
    Federer started his match against Wawrinka by getting broken to love... and followed that by winning four games in a row. Pretty fast, the reason Wawrinka has such a poor record against Federer became apparent: the swiss N2 simply does not dare to play his game. Playing pacy, flat, penetrating shots against Hewitt two days ago, Wawrinka seems too worried by Federer's abbility to counter-punch and redirect this pace to play like this. So, he tries to play heavily lifted shots to the Federer backhand, basically trying to Nadalize Federer. The problem is that the pattern is very predictable, allowing Federer to camp on the backhand corner and robbing Wawrinka of some of his best shots like his backhand down the line. It looked like a nice day at the office for the World N2, but when came the time to serve for the match... he played a game as shocking as the one he started the match with. This lifted Wawrinka, confused Federer and a tie-break later it was one set all. Another bad game early in the third (punctuated with an argument with the ref' about his ability to challenge his own serve on a serve & volley - he thought the serve was out so he played an half-assed volley thinking the call would come, but it did not and was refused the challenge because he played the volley) and suddenly things looked grim for Fed and his fans. The swiss N1 immediatly reacted though and narrowly escaped a third set tie-breaker by breaking a disappointed Wawrinka at 6-5.


    Berdych vs Anderson is about to start and Nadal vs Federer will be the night session match of the day. Note that both guys already managed expectations: Federer has a fubared back since the middle of his match against Dodig and Nadal said that he is not back at his best just yet and does not expect to be during the quarter and that it should probably be not enough to win...

  40. #40
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Better late than never: two rounds for the price of one.


    SEMIS:

    Djokovic played a solid match. No great heights, but no lows. It proved too much for Tsonga to live with.
    vs
    Del Potro had opportunities early in the first set, then lead in the tie break, but still lost it. Lesser players would fade away, Del Potro did just the opposite against a Murray abandoned by his serve and lacking a clear game plan. 6-7 6-3 6-1 in the end.

    Berdych really got tested by a very aggressive Anderson, but the south african tamely surrendered his serve at 5-4 in both sets. Berdych gladly accepted the gift.
    vs
    Nadal has his work cut out for him as Federer was hampered in his movement because of his back. Bad movement, means bad adjustments, means more unforced errors. Bad back also means less effective serving. Nadal did not play a stellar match, but he did not have to.


    FINAL:

    Del Potro once again fought from a set down, but this time Djokovic rebelled in the third, rushing to a 3-0 lead, but then the World N1 seemingly ran out of gas and often found himself losing long physical rallies. There was a glimmer of hope for the serb when it seemed Del Potro was both tense and exhausted when came time to serve for the match, but Djokovic did not mamage to play a clean enough return game to capitalize on his opponent's weaknesses.
    vs
    Nadal came into the semi with the worst breaking record of the semi finalists and Berdych with the best holding record. It happened these stats had very low predictive values! The match was a relatively close one, but Nadal managed the tight moments better and displayed a good offensive mentality, looking for any opportunity to take the ball early and become the aggressor.



    Playing Nadal on the back of two long three sets matches that were both taxing mentally and physically might not be the best scenario for Del Potro, but there is no doubt he has enough weapons to make it a competitive match and even win his first (1st) Master 1000 title (isn't it scary that a guy like Del Potro has none and a guy like Berdych just the one from back in 2005?)

  41. #41
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    At first the final looked like it would be a remarkably short one. Del Potro looked a little rusty and quickly had to abandon his initial game plan: playing with his usual depth of shot, but with a lot more volume, forcing Nadal to play shoulder height forehand from a meter of two behind his baseline. It's an original strategy, because it's close to impossible to fire winners from there and it takes considerable energy to just be aggressive. If Del Potro could have kept it up, Nadal arm would have fallen off after a set. The flaw in this strategy is that Nadal kept being aggressive and refused to miss, resulting in a long rallies that forced Del Potro to run from left to right again and again. The tower of Tendil realized that with the heat of the day and his previous two matches, his lungs would give up before Nadal's arm. Having to find a new plan, the argentinian tried a little bit of everything and missed a lot. So yeah, at 3-0 for Nadal and 15-40 on the Del Potro serve it looked like it would be a remarkably short final.

    At this point, Del Potro said "Fuck it! If my carefully planed Plan B did not work and the rest of the alphabet is even worse, let's go back to my usual Plan A and blow this guy out of the court with my heavy, pacy, flat forehand." And as the rust and the nerves of the beginning of the match had subsided, he did just that. That allowed him to save his serve and then win 5 of the 6 following games to bag the first set.

    Nadal certainly did not expect this turnaround, and it was his time to be a bit confused and nervous, which often translates in his game with an overabundance of top spin, making his forehand land short when they actually pass the net. This allowed Del Potro to continue with his barrage of forehand and to get an early break in the second set. But just as the finish line was in sight for the argentinian, some nerves came back and the gas meter found itself in the red. Less effective serving, a little more unforced errors, some wrong choices, that was more than enough for a fighter like Nadal to claw his way back into the set and even leapfrog Del Potro to tie the match at one set all.

    The trend continued in the third as Del Potro had to battle for more than 10 minutes to win the opening service game only to see Nadal blitz through his. The writing was on the wall and soon Nadal got the break he needed. Knowing that in the previous round Del Potro fought his way out a 0-3 deficit against the world N1, his fans cheered him on in hope of such a second wind. They went from despair to elation as at 3-5 0-40 on his serve, he discarded three match point with as many forehands and then held to force Nadal to serve for the match. Loosing match points is the kind of stuff momentum switches are made of, but not on that day. A couple tight shots by Nadal were canceled by a couple unforced errors by Del Potro and the spaniard won a record breaking 22nd Master 1000 title (and his 3rd at Indian Wells, the only non-clay Master 1000 he won multiple times). This success also allows him to climb back to the Club's penthouse at N4.



    I guess two new Master 1000 winners in back to back tournament (as Ferrer won in Paris) would have been too much to ask, but with both Nadal and Federer skipping Miami next week (a combined 43 Master 1000 crowns !!) that mountain should be a tad easier to climb.

  42. #42
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    A week at a film festival followed by an hectic week and Miami almost went by without a word about it! Going from the dry heat of Indian Wells to the humidity and wind of Miami is always a challenge that gives a little edge to those who had an early exit in the first or had to play qualifiers at the second. That proves true once again as last week's finalist Del Potro had a very poor showing against german journeyman Kamke. That part of the draw opened up even more with Blake ousting Benneteau, Ramos upsetting Monaco and Melzer beating Grannollers. At this point I hoped Blake would make the most of this opportunity to reach the quarter final and face Ferrer against who he has a wining record! Sadly, the marvelous american veteran lost to Ramos in a tight match, leaving the red carpet all to another veteran: Meltzer. The austrian who had been a losing machine for months managed also to win the first set against Ferrer, but his good week stopped there.

    Florida, home of the senior citizen? The main story of this past two weeks is the magnificent tennis displayed by a god amongst men: Tommy Haas. The german's home tourney (he lived most of his life in Florida training at the Bollettierri academy) showed him prevail after a rough start against a player on the rise, Sijsling, discard a confiremed young talent, Dolgopolov, following with a clinic of clean ball striking and astute shot selection to beat that young serbian guy known as Novak Djokovic (who never found his rhythm against Haas' variations and in the cold windy night). Why stop there? He allowed Simon to win a mere 4 games in the quarter final... by the way, in five days Tommy Motherfucking Haas will be 36, but before that he will face Ferrer in semi.

    The marvel of seeing Haas play is that he is resolutely from another era. His tennis is made of variations, never giving you the same ball twice in order to get the short ball that will allow him to attack and transition to the net. He is not blowing the cover off of every ball, but he is also always looking to attack or to create an opportunity to attack. Smart, all court, offensive tennis. It is only now, with the experience resulting from his years on tour, the serenity provided by his wife and child and the humility of a man who spent enough time in surgery to know that every new day he can play tennis is a gift to savor, that he reached the maturity, the clearness of thoughts, that allows him to execute this game plan with the right balance of patience and aggressiveness. In his first career (that peeked at world N2 still!) his fiery temper often held him back. In this 9087263rd career that showed him shoot from nowhere to the top 20 (and, at this pace, the top 10!), much less so.



    On the other half of the draw, the usual suspect progressed, Murray being only tested for one set by Dimirov (a set the bulgarian served for before loosing it in a breaker). The fourth semi-finalist will be Gasquet though who upset in quarter final a Berdych who hemorrhaged unforced errors (the french avenging his defeat from two weeks ago).



    tommy_haas_def_novak_djokovic_r4_miami_26march20133.jpg
    Last edited by Szlia; 03-29-2013 at 03:29 PM.

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    Well, I have been a long time FoH'er and now a RR'er. So I was pleasantly surprised to see a few tennis followers here. I am currently in Charleston for the WTA Family Circle Cup. Watched Serena and Stosur practice this morning as well as others. Also saw a great match between Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Anastasia Rodinova.

    It went 3 sets, Sands mixing it up with slices , drop shots and coming to the net, while Rodinova hits a hard, flat ball. The tennis was good, but the drama far better. Rodinova had the chair official come down at least 15 times to check obvious marks in the clay, she claimed the court was too wet after they watered the clay between sets and made the grounds crew come back out, and she tried to pull a " I am too hurt to play, but will try" routine by taking a full 10 minute off court medical timeout. She came back limping around like she couldn't walk, but amazingly still moved like a gazelle once play resumed. Sands won in a 3rd set breaker and gets Sloane Stevens in the Tuesday night match.

    Will try to post pictures a bit later.

  44. #44
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    If Sharapova is known to have very few friends on the tour, Rodionova has the reputation to be detestable, almost insane and with an ego that has no relationship with her skills. She is playing a lot of double though, so I guess she is at the very least tolerable.


    EDIT: Oh and Haas finally lost to Ferrer in three sets after leading twice by a break in the decider and Ferrer lost to Murray in three sets after a WTA style break-a-thon third set where Ferrer melted after incorrectly stopping a rally to challenge when he had a match point. To be fair, challenging was the right decision as Murray only had an easy put-away to play, but still... it played with Ferrer's mind. Next stop: Davis Cup Quarter Final and then the pseudo Master 1000 in Monte Carlo (non-mandatory, smaller draw, less top players attending).
    Last edited by Szlia; 04-02-2013 at 11:09 PM.

  45. #45
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    Sloane is one of those sports characters that has every possible advantage and it is now just down to one basic question: can she win?

    Szlia: what is your primary source(s) of information whilst following the tours?

  46. #46
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Well... I have a subscription to http://www.tennistv.com/ and I spend too much time playing with the data on http://www.atpworldtour.com/ Other than that, I also read/watch the players' interviews that are often available on Tennis TV or the website of tournaments. I don't read any tennis blog / news sites. If I stumble upon a tennis related article in a newspaper/magazine, I'll read it though, but that does not happen too often.

  47. #47
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    So... Monte-Carlo came and went. Djokovic arrived there no knowing if he would play or not as he twisted his ankle in Davis Cup, hobbled through his first two matches and then mowed through the next two rounds (thanks to poor attendance and upsets, that meant Nieminen and Fognini) and started the final by breaking Nadal three times. The weather was terrible before the match though, so at first the clay was very heavy, giving very little bounce to Nadal's shots. As the sun dried it some, the match got a lot more balanced, but the world N1 dominated the second set tie-break through and through.

    Nadal found some comfort in winning the ATP 500 of Barcelonna. The 250 in Bucarest was won by Rosol (maiden title for the giant slayer), the one in Estoril by Wawrinka (including a surprisingly one way final against World N4 Ferrer) and, last but not least, Munich was dominated by Tommy 'God Amongst Men' Haas, pushing him up to the 13th spot on the ranking.

    That brings us to the ATP Master 1000 of the week: Madrid. No slippery blue clay this year, just the regular red stuff with plenty of bad bounces (clay courts need to settle over time and that's the third built in five years). Two rounds have been played, here is the situation:

    Dimitrov pulled the upset of the week in a dramatic match. The guy gave a Nadal a run for his money in Monte-Carlo, lost a close one to Murray in Miami and served for the first set against Djokovic in Indian Wells. Yesterday, against the World N1, history seemgly repeated itself as Djokovic [1] broke Dimitrov at the end of the first set to force a tie-break, but this time Dimitrov won it and went on to take a lead in the second, playing confidently some brilliant attacking tennis with a lot of variations. Things cooled down for a bit has Djokovic almost ran over his ankle and had a medical time out. As it was more fear than pain, the serb went on, clawing his way back into the match with his typical never say die attitude. An attitude seen as a bit too feisty for a major favorite against a young underdog that rapidly turned the whole crowd against him. Drama reached new heights when Dimitrov started cramping (talent is not a substitute for fitness) and got dragged into another breaker. My gut feeling as it started was that Djokovic would wipe him out and that the bulgarian would then withdraw. The scenario proved very different as Dimitrov tried to hang tough and even managed to turn the tie-break around, earning match points as the whole Casa Magica was chanting "Dimitrov! Dimitrov!" A very pissed off Djokovic shut them up by winning the breaker 10-8 and returned to his chair vociferating and gesticulating against the public (not helping his case one bit). More surprisingly, Dimitrov did not call it quit. In fact, he hung tough, tried to play shorter points and even managed to break early. Even more surprising was that, at 5-3, Djokovic served to stay in the match and force the young bulgarian to close (which he failed to do in their previous three sets) and played a terrible, terrible game, much to the crowd and his opponent's delight.
    vs
    Wawrinka [15]. Not much to say here...

    Verdasco is playing better these days and managed to edge past Raonic [12]. An interesting twist of fate as his downfall and Raonic's raise came as the canadian beat the spaniard twice back to back.
    vs
    Tsonga [7].

    Murray [3] is not that great on clay so far, as he got properly slaughtered by Wawrinka in Monte-Carlo and he barely made it through against tricky customer Florian Mayer her in Madrid.
    vs
    Simon [16] reached the third round after two good wins over dangerous compatriots Benneteau and Chardy.

    Anderson upset Monaco who himself had upset Tipsarevic [9].
    vs
    Berdych [6] prevailed in a very tough battle against big hitting (and drop shot lover!) Janowicz.



    Nadal [5] got challenged by Paire but there was always an aura of inevitability in this one.
    vs
    Youzhny, believe it or not, won for a fifth straight time against Almagro [11]. I guess the russian has a way to get under the spaniard's skin and forces him to go for too much and make error. He'll also look for a fifth win over Nadal (for nine defeats), but I would not expect a repeat of the 2008 Chennai final (Nadal scored a single game that day... not too sure what happened!).

    Haas [13] destroyed the very competent Seppi and managed to win in straight sets a pretty tricky match against fellow veteran Robredo.
    vs
    Ferrer [4] hung tough against Istomin. Not sure what's up with Istomin by the way. I like his demeanor on court, he has a big game without going too crazy with it yet he win a lot les matches than he should. A confidence problem maybe.

    Gimeno-Traver, a journeyman really, posted two solid wins against Lopez and Gasquet [8] to reach the third round. A big opportunity considering his opponent.
    vs
    Andujar, a journeyman really, posted two huge wins against Cilic [10]and Isner to reach the third round. A big opportunity considering his opponent. By the way, the organizers are not too cool, because they sent this all spanish underdog battle on an outside court.

    Nishikori [14] is sneaky good. The guy just made light work of Melzer and Troicki. I am not sure how much he likes clay as he is a product of Florida, but he really has the tools to play a very good clay game with his footwork and great forehand.
    vs
    Federer [2] started his title defense by a convincing win in a relatively hard fought match against Stepanek. Nishikori could very well proved tricky, but if, he passes that hurdle, I don't see him go down to one of the two journeymen, which should give us a Nadal vs Federer semi even if Nadal has not his work cut out for him.



    If one of the usual suspect is expected to reach the final in the bottom half (unless... TOMMY HAAS!), the top half is more intriguing with Djokovic out and Murray unconvincing. Wawrinka and Verdasco are the two players who enjoy clay the most, but a Tsonga or a Berdych will hit through you even if they don't like finding clay in their washing machine.
    Last edited by Szlia; 05-08-2013 at 11:17 PM.

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    Great summary Szlia. I don't comment as much as I read since I am usually on my Ipad in bed and typing is annoying. But I wanted to say I really enjoy your commentary. What do you think of the woman's draw? Serena's tournament to lose?

  49. #49
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    I have not followed the WTA for a while so I am not sure who is in form and who is not at the moment. That said, Serena is the heavy favorite whenever she plays. Consider this, in 27 matches this year she lost just the two and one was the crazy upset against Sloane Stephens at the Australian Open (Stephens who lost six matches and won just the three since then...). Her other loss came to Azarenka who is no longer in the draw. Still in the draw though are quality players, including two Roland Garros winners in Sharapova and Ivanovic and a finalist in Errani. It should also be said that Serena is a very good front runner. The usual scenario of her matches is that she starts strong and just smothers and overpower her opponent. For her it's a virtuous circle of winners beget confidence begets more winners and for the opponent a vicious circle of despair begets unforced errors beget more despair. When the opponent manages to enter the match though, by breaking early or holding for two or three service games, it all becomes more competitive.

    As I am writing this, it's 3-2 for Kirilenko in the first with no break. There could be a match.

  50. #50
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    So yeah... after I posted, Kirilenko won one of the following 11 games... Anyway: ATP.


    Wawrinka [15] was keen to not be the other victim of Dimitrov, but the bulgarian started things just like he left them two days ago (but without the cramping!). Great variations off both wings, finding the right offensive balance, serving well: good stuff. Wawrinka was not ready for the level of play and you felt that at the start there was a bit of one-up-manship going on, both having a not too dissimilar sort of play. In the diagonal of the backhands, Dimitrov stood his ground more than well and was often the one dealing the blow down the line before the swiss. Dimitrov also dealt the first blow in the break department, but Wawrinka broke back, leveled things up, only to drop serve minutes later and see the giant slay bag the first set under the cheers of the bulgarian fans. Irritated by the turn of events, the somewhat undisciplined crowd and the umpire's inability to prevent cheers during the rallies, Wawrinka still managed to funnel his frustration into much better serving and the match turned into big boys warfare. These guys were throwing just about everything at each other short of the kitchen sink and both managed to defend so well that we witnessed in total awe grueling rally after grueling rally where the attacker tried desperately to put the ball away hitting harder and harder and the defender trying desperately to find length in his defensive shots to get a neutral shot in return allowing to become the aggressor. It was scary stuff and at this game Wawrinka proved the tougher of the two and bagged the second set. As the swiss took an early lead in the third, it became obvious that Dimitrov was paying the price of his heroics from two days prior. Unforced error came thick and fast, the head started to drop and Wawrinka ruthlessly thwarted any hint of a revolt. Dimitrov lost today, but he made it pretty clear that he will be a major threat sooner than later.
    vs
    Tsonga [7] also lost his first set to Verdasco and rallied back (in a match I did not see).

    Murray [3] took the court with the attitude of someone ready to lose. Bothered by a stiff left hip, made to work hard by Simon's usual backboard strategy, making way too many unforced errors, he rapidly found himself a set and a break down. Maybe his hip loosened up a little, maybe he managed to find some of the proverbial fighting spirit he has often been accused of lacking, he managed to collect his mind, become patient and try to beat Simon at his own game. Rallies ensued. But if the rallies in the Wawrinka vs Dimitrov match were a high octane affair akin to a boxing match on cocaine, he it was more of a marathon, followed by a marathon, followed by another marathon. Consistency and cool mind are the keys here because the second time you make an unforced error on the 20th shot of a rally you are just about ready to eat your racket. Things got a lot tenser and a lot more competitive this way. Things even tipped in favor of Murray as he got a little more free points on serve and was a lot more aggressive returning the Simon's second offering. As Murray won the second set and rushed to a 3-0 lead in the decider, it seemed like a done deal, but Simon rallied back, putting a little more on his shot while still refusing to make the errors. The frenchman could not find a second break though, but managed to save a couple match point on the way to a breaker. Murray took the lead here only to see Simon save another couple match points. The irony of it all is that at 7-6 for Murray, Simon played a good point, moved Murray around and followed an excellent inside out forehand to the net, showing a commendable willingness to take matters in his own hand at such a critical juncture (much to the happiness of every tennis coach around the world), but he put the pretty trivial volley in the net.
    vs
    Berdych [6] spent the evening laughing at the Murray vs Simon match as he managed to narrowly edge past Anderson at the end of both sets of his victory.


    Nadal [5] was not overly challenged by Youzhny.
    vs
    Ferrer [4] found himself in a tough battle against Haas. The spanish N1 found an opening late in the first, but that just pissed off Haas who raised is already good level considerably to win the second set and take a lead in the third. The bulk of both the winners and the unforced errors came from Haas' racket as he tried to be the aggressor, but Ferrer relentlessly tried to make the german play another shot, ideally one where he would go for too much and miss or not enough and give the spaniard an opportunity to dictate play with his forehand. Haas lead 4-2, but Ferrer's rear guard action, carried by the Madrid crowd allowed the spaniard to prevail 6-4. Here is to hoping he manages to have the same never say die attitude when playing his next match, because if he just lies down waiting to get his head chopped off like he too often does on clay against Nadal, I'll certainly regret not seeing Haas in his stead.

    Andujar became the beneficiary of Gimeno-Traver missfortune. A bit sad that the battle of the journeymen ended by a retirement at 5-5 in the first set. Really terrible for Gimeno-Traver as it is very unlikely he will ever have such a shot at a Master 1000 quarter finale. To add insult to injury, the draw opened up even more.
    vs
    Nishikori [14] won. More than that: he made it look like a routine win. In the first set, Federer had trouble with all his shots. Making too many unforced errors, unable to find depth and penetration, returning very poorly... only the serve, firing on all cylinders, kept him afloat as Nishikori played a very clean game, taking on just about everything that landed short with his forehand. The thing with the Japanese N1 is that he has a very good forehand. The amount of work he puts on the ball allows him to both find great depth with great net clearance or find short angles with fast shots. So basically, if you give him time to set his feet and hit a forehand, you'll run. One bad service game from Federer resulted in a set for Nishikori. In the second set, the title defender found a couple extra gears. He moved Nishikori from left to right but also from back to front with the spin variations that filled his trophy cabinet. As things became a lot less comfortable for the japanese player, Federer rushed through the second set. So, when Nishikori found himself 0-30 down on his serve at the beginning of the third, it almost felt like a done deal, but four missed returns later, it was the first set all over again. A flat Federer making errors against a Nishikori playing a clean game without having to do anything extraordinary. This resulted in a break for the japanese and, cherry on top, as Federer served to stay in the match and force Nishikori to close it on his delivery, the swiss played another poor and, more shockingly, tame service game to let Nishikori through. I guess two months off and a new surface is a bit too much to be able to compete well.



    Very intriguing end of tournament here. You have a Wawrinka vs Tsonga which is the remake of a thriller from last year's French Open, you have a tired Murray who has to go from Simon to the polar opposite in Berdych, you have the two top spaniards going at it and then you have a very much in form journeyman who legitimately thinks he has a shot against Nishikori considering he beat Cilic and Isner.
    Last edited by Szlia; 05-10-2013 at 02:06 AM.

  51. #51
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Another day, another round.

    Wawrinka [15] started the match just like he ended the previous one: hitting big on both wings and painting the lines. His meetings with Tsonga have almost always been long and hard fought battles ending with Tsonga as the victor, but the swiss leading 5-0 after 20 minutes seemed to indicate it was exception night. Known for his offensive game and big serve, Tsonga was forced to do a lot of defending. To make it that much tougher, Wawrinka often forced him into backhand battles. A three way catch 22 for the frenchmen as he could try and go for the tougher shot down the line with his backhand, try to withstand Wawrinka's barrage and hope the swiss will miss or play short first or, last but not least, try the Hail Mary and run around the backhand to hit a forehand on Wawrinka's heavy and well angled shots. Near the end of the set though Wawrinka cooled off a little and Tsonga managed to set foot in the match by holding and then breaking the swiss. Not enough to save the first set, but planting the seed of a possible rebellion. Tsonga did not see the stats of the first set, but he certainly felt one them: 15 winners to 1 in favor of Wawrinka. He had to be more aggressive, to be the one striking first and moving the opponent around. Easier said than done, but with a Wawrinka missing a little more and Tsonga's will to stop getting bullied around, the match got a lot closer and it culminated in an epic tie-breaker where Tsonga had to pull rabbits out of hats on a match points to stay alive and force a decider. Full credit to Wawrinka, he did not blink despite his history of close loss to Tsonga. He broke early in the third and managed to keep just enough intensity to reach the finish line unscathed.
    vs
    Berdych [6] was known to be a bit of a head case, a guy that threw match away when things did not go his way. That's definitely a thing of the past and he proved it again today. He had to fight hard for every single of his service game against a Murray that performed better than in his previous matches, but he hung tough, calmly looking forward instead of dwelling on the past. He played an excellent tie-breaker to bag the first set, broke early in the second, blinked, lost serve. but kept his cool. As the match went deep in the second set, Berdych's domination became clearer and clearer as Murray became more and more agitated. A break and a hold and Berdych was through. As I write this, he must be sleeping with the added comfort of knowing that Wawrinka and Tsonga stepped on court very late and he will certainly be in a good mood tomorrow morning when he'll learned they played until 1:30 am.


    Nadal [5] pulled some Houdini trick today. He started the match playing very poorly. Unable to produce any depth or speed with his backhand, Ferrer 'only' had to insist on it to get unforced errors or mid court balls to attack. Nadal tried to slice some, but here again his shots were lacking the bite of a good slice, allowing Ferrer to run around them and unleash his forehand. To make things even worse, the poor quality of Nadal's backhand on the day put inordinate pressure on his forehand and as a result he also missed a lot with that shot. Still the match was competitive. Why? Because Nadal was still able to have here and there flashes of brilliance and because his aura was still there, making Ferrer often second guess himself and make the most absurd shot selection. Still, Ferrer broke to take the first set and was in a good position through the second set. In fact, returning at 5-6 15-30 he played a brilliant point, got a floating ball from Nadal that he 'just' had to put away to get two match points, but he played to Nadal instead of to the open court and out of genius, instinct or good old fashioned luck, Nadal managed to produce a reflex half-volley lob that turned the point around. From then on, it was all Nadal. The boost in confidence allowed him to clean his act and Ferrer just could get over the fact that he was two point away and should have had match points. Nadal won the breaker 7-3 and the decider 6-0.
    vs
    Andujar has a decent underdog game. By that I mean he defends well enough, has a good sense of the territorial battle that is a clay court tennis match, trying to push the opponent away from his line with deep bouncy shots and is not afraid to go for it when he has opportunities. Nishikori, possibly feeling some post giant-killing hangover, played an ok first set, but just could not string enough good points together to break Andujar or have easy service games. The opportunities were there, he got eight break points in the set, but he could not convert and payed the price: Andujar broke first and won the first set. Nishikori kept his cool, knowing that he had opportunities and that he had to be more forceful and execute better, but maybe he stayed a little too cool and expected things to fall into place naturally, maybe he fell into the classic 'I just beat the World N2 so why I am not blowing the Word N113 away?' mental trap. Anyway, as Andujar competed better, he broke again and later served for the match. Suddenly, Andujar seemingly realized the magnitude of the situation and could not find a first serve to save his life. Nishikori did not let this opportunity pass and broke to level things at 5-5. A cruel turn of events for Andujar who, earlier in the set, missed an easy smash to be two breaks up. At that point I thought:'Here we go! Nishikori will play better, win the second set and it will be a one man show in the third, just like Nadal earlier.' I was dead wrong. You now that kind of dip in tension some players get after winning a tough set that can cost them an early break? Nishikori just had that after managing to break back at the last possible moment. Result: a terribad game and a break for Andujar who could not beleive his luck to be gifted a second bite at the cherry. The guy took it and closed the match. Not bad for a guy who did not win two main draw match in a row since august of last year and in the last 12 months won just 10 of the 40 main draw matches he played!


    It should be noted that the four quarter finals resulted in four upsets (even if the Nadal win over Ferrer is an upset on paper only).


    Wawrinka vs Berdych is a tough one to call. I was surprised to see how well Berdych moved on clay and the quality of some of his defensive plays. This newfound clay flair coupled with his offensive arsenal make him a tough nut to crack. Let's hope Wawrinka will recover well so we get a good match. As for the other semi, it will be interesting to see the attitude of Andujar. Will he be able to go on with his positive mind set or will he freeze in front of the King of Clay and get annihilated? His brilliant run deserves a better reward than two bagels.

    On the WTA side of things, the semi are Williams (former French Open winner) vs Errani (last French Open finalist) and Sharapova (French Open title holder) vs Ivanovic (former French Open winner). Not bad!
    Last edited by Szlia; 05-11-2013 at 01:44 AM.

  52. #52
    Totally Ninja Sterling's Avatar
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    Martina Hingis needs to unretire again.

  53. #53
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    She is coaching now! I saw her working for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova the other day. Hingis' mother is also still coaching, she is trying to turn a talented swiss teenager called Belinda Bencic into a pro.

  54. #54
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Hey things did not end past midnight this time, so we already know who will be the finalists.

    Wawrinka [15] somehow prevailed. He jumped on Berdych from the get go to break and managed to defend somewhat laboriously his own deal, well helped by a Berdych making a number of unforced errors and just unable to capitalize on Wawrinka's low first serve percentage. To make things worse, the world N6 played a poor game at 5-3, surrendering his deal and the first set with a double fault. Both players were far from the best they displayed during the week and, on both sides, unforced errors were aplenty. Wawrinka's intensity dropped somewhat in the second, maybe paying the price for the amount of tennis he played as of late, and this allowed Berdych to make more inroads when returning. Since the czech also served more efficiently, the balance decidedly tipped in his favor which materialism in a break and a match leveled at one set all. Wawrinka was really threading on ice with his service games in the beginning of the third, missing a lot of first serves and having trouble dealing with his opponent's deep returns. He conceded a break early and found himself 2-4 15-40 down. So really, almost as good as two match points for Berdych. Was the Wawrinka Syndrom (playing tight matches against top players and losing in the end) back? Nope. Wawrinka found a second wind, a spark, and not only did he save his game, but he broke and held again to lead 5-4. Even the mentally improved Berdych was a bit shaken by this turn of event. Serving to stay in the match, the titan crumbled. Wawrinka astutely went to the Berdych forehand, a powerful but somewhat unreliable shot under pressure and milked errors from it to break and win. Stan The Man. A big big disappointment for Berdych through as he had a foot in Sunday's final when he tripped.
    vs
    Nadal [5], as expected, made light work of Andujar.


    Much to my surprise, not only did Nadal win all his eight matches against Wawrinka, but he also did so without losing a single of the 17 sets they played. If you take a closer look though, you notice that five of them are 7-6 or 7-5 sets and there are also a bunch of 6-4. The thing is that, looking at the stats of their recent matches, Wawrinka seems to have a lot of trouble getting break points. The silver lining for the swiss though is that for his previous matches against Nadal, it hardly ever was with the kind of form and confidence he is having currently. In the 'pro' column is also the fact it is not his first Master 1000 final as he already reached this stage of the competition in Rome in 2008 (lost to Djokovic in three sets). As far as match-up go, you can argue that Nadal can make it tough for Wawrinka if he plays high bouncing balls on the swiss single handed backhand (I can think of another swiss guy who does not enjoy that too much), but Wawrinka also has in his arsenal a shot that works well against Nadal: the flat, deep, pacy backhand cross court, the anti-Nadal strategy being to neutralize him on his backhand side and then attack cross court. The spaniard being always ready to dance around his backhand to hit a forehand and also having a big swing with this shot is often in trouble when he has to rush to the forehand corner of the court to defend. Djokovic has that shot, Federer, with the low indoor bounce, also has that shot. The countermeasure that Nadal put in place is being more aggressive with his backhand, but, as seen against Ferrer this week, Nadal's backhand is currently not exactly where he wants it to be, so there might be room here for Wawrinka to exploit this chink in the armor.


    On the WTA side of things, Williams overpowered Errani (even if the diminutive clay-courter put up a good fight) and Sharapova was just a little more opportunistic to prevail against Ivanovic. Fun fact: if Sharapova wins she is back to world N1. Not so fun fact for her: her recent record against Williams is not good at all.

  55. #55
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Wawrinka started his final poorly, immediately giving good looks to a Nadal that was much sharper than in his previous matches. The spaniard still made some uncharacteristic errors, but it was more than evened out by the number of unforced errors and the bad shot selections of the swiss. Not only did Wawrinka lost his serve twice, but he did not even get crumbs during Nadal's service games. It felt like we would be in for a very short final, but lead 4-0 a pissed off Wawrinka just fired four winners in quick succession to hold in less than a minute. From then on, the match was slightly more competitive, but still leaning in Nadal's favor, mostly because of his domination in his service games and of Wawrinka's inconsistency, constructing points brilliantly here only to miss routine shots there. A break in the middle of the second set was all it took for a too routine 6-2 6-4 victory, pushing Nadal two units ahead of Federer in the 'most Masters 1000 / Master Serie / Super 9' category with 23.

    No rest for the braves as the Master 1000 in Rome began today. Nadal has a first round bye, so will probably not play before Wednesday, but Wawrinka has no such luxury, so it's Tuesday for him at the very best. In his stead, I would drop out of the event and use the two weeks until the French Open to rest and make myself 100% healthy.



    As for the WTA, the usual suspect, Williams, prevailed 6-1 6-4 over Sharapova, but the World N1 had to fight from a break down in the second set.

  56. #56
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Yep... Wawrinka drudged through his first round match in Rome, won, but withdrew before the 2nd round because of a thigh bothering him.

    Watching Murray at the moment and he is still bothered by his hip/lower back on the left side and is on the path of defeat against Granollers who is playing a very clean, smart, offensive match. Murray's situation is different than Wawrinka's because the swiss played a lot of clay court tennis (the flip side of success), so he will (hopefully) be fit and ready for the French. Murray started the european clay court swing somewhat injured and as a result could not play well and as a result did not play a lot of matches. A catch 22 really: should he have taken full rest and arrived at the French with little to no clay court preparation? He chose to try to play, but now he'll arrive at the French with few clay court matches, an injury that is worse than a month ago and really nothing to draw confidence on...

    As I write that, Murray fought back from two breaks down in the second.... an I have to go!

  57. #57
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    So: let's take a quick look at Rome's draw now that the first two rounds are done.

    Djokovic [1]
    vs
    Dolopolov benefited from Wawrinka's withdrawal (seeing the draw, now it makes even more sense, you don't want to play Djokovic when not 100% fit, especially if you know that you have a shot when fit and that you may play him in a couple weeks at the French).

    The ukrainian is too up and down to be a real threat. He has weapons though, but he would need a full match of top drawer stuff to win and he has not delivered that in a while.

    Anderson blew away Melzer and edged past Cilic [11].
    vs
    Berdych [6]

    The guys played seven times in the last two years and Berdych always won, but there are a number of tie-break sets and matches going the distance in there. Berdych is probably a little better, a little more consistent and that little bit more confident in the end of sets and matches. That's why he is in the Top 10 and Anderson 'only' in the Top 30.


    Ferrer [4] had to go the distance against Verdasco.
    vs
    Kohlschreiber beat Raonic [14] in the first round. It shows you how brutal the Master 1000 events are. With only 16 seeds there are some top quality players that go unseeded.

    Ferrer is the heavy favorite here, but Kohlschreiber is having a good clay court swing so it could be fun to watch.


    Gulbis emerged from a part of the draw where the seed had been replaced by a lucky loser (when a seed withdraw after the draw is made, he is replaced by a player who lost in the final qualifying round - a lucky loser) by somehow finding a way to beat Nieminen while playing poorly and then he trashed Troicki who is going through a crisis these days.
    vs
    Nadal [5] was untroubled by italian mad man Fognini.

    Gulbis is playing well this year. In fact he went from 130ish to 46 and he only lost to Top 20 players. He won the first set when he faced Nadal in Indian Wells earlier in the year and they played a semi final that went the distance in Rome in 2010. Here again, Nadal is the heavy favorite, but it will be fun to see I am sure (win or lose, all matches involving Gulbis are fun, because you know you will see outrageous winners, crazy shot selection, funny banter, temper tantrum... entertainment!).



    Del Potro [7] is back.
    vs
    Paire beat Monaco and Benneteau who beat Almagro [12].

    Two good wins for Paire who is on the rise in the rankings. His strange mix of power and finesse could cause Del Potro problems. We know the argentinian is not too happy when he has to move up and down the court and Paire is a member of the crazy drop shot club.


    Chardy managed to beat both Lopez and Nishikori [16]. Considering the guy is usually the artisant of his own downfall, him winning against two quality players in a row must mean he is feeling the ball well and has both his serve and forehand firing. In the rare moments it happens, he is very tough to play.
    vs
    Granollers finally lost the second set in a breaker to Murray [3] after being two breaks up, but the World N2 called it quit after that.

    Murray injured or not, Granollers played a seriously good first set and also a good second set until the medical time-out that made him lose his focus somewhat. I am sure both players will relish the opportunity to reach the fourth round, especially to play against Del Potro, who, since his early march heroics in Indian Wells (beat Haas, Murray and Djokovic and pushed Nadal to a decider in the final), played only four matches and won just the two.


    Janowicz stunned the tennis world at the end of last year by reaching the final of Paris' Master 1000., but in 2013 he had a pretty tame 6 wins for 9 losses record, with no good scalp to show. He pushed it to 7 wins in his first round against Giraldo, a solid clay-courter, and to 8 wins after beating Tsonga [8] in a solid match where he converted his only break opportunity, did not let his opponent into any of his service games and played a rock solid tie-breaker to seal the deal.
    vs
    Gasquet [9] wins a lot of matches these days. He posted some good wins in 2013, but he still can play the odd bad match. In the second round he disposed of Dimitrov in a business-like 6-4 6-4.

    These two played in Indian Wells and Janowicz got spanked, but with the confidence boost that is the Tsonga win, this could be a lot more competitive this time around.


    Simon after a poor start, managed to turn the table on Youzhny who played a 'walking on water' match against Haas [13] in the first round.
    vs
    Federer [2] was sluggish in Madrid against Nishikori, but really pump'ed up against Starace and he really mowed through his opponent.

    Simon is actually one of Federer's Nemeses. The french lead 2-0 in their head to head and the swiss brought that to 2-2 with a five setter at the AO in 2011 and a retirement. It's really the style of Simon that rubs Federer the wrong way. The GOAT rushes his opponents by taking the ball early and redirecting the pace sent at him. Since Simon gives no pace to the ball, Federer has to generate his own pace to try and rush Simon and in the process makes more errors. Another source of points for Federer is his variations that put players out of their comfort zone and make them miss when they try to go for too much in not good enough of a position. This also does not work with Simon, because he is very patient and very conservative in his shot selection. You will not draw an unforced error out of Simon with variations, his very mechanical shot production allows for extreme consistency and he does not mind playing long rallies: he does that all year long. The clay tends to make defending easier too, so it should be a nail-biter.




    As you can see, there has been a 'seedicide' in Rome as only 7 of the 16 seeds made it through to the third round and there is not a single part of the draw where both seeds made it through to the third round! My (pretty safe) bet is that we will still have at least 5 seeds in the next round.
    Last edited by Szlia; 05-16-2013 at 07:36 PM.

  58. #58
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    So... Gulbis is destroying Nadal at the moment. 5-0 in 19 min of insane first strike tennis. Can he keep it up?

  59. #59
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    What's in store for the quarter finals:

    Djokovic [1] was not troubled by Dolgopolov.
    vs
    Berdych [6] once again proved that he is just a little better than Anderson.

    Court surface (clay) and past meetings (13-1 for Djokovic) put the serb as the heavy favorite on paper. In fact, beating Berdych is always tough. You have to hope he is not in a great day or that, should he take a lead in the match, he gets nervous. I expect a competitive match, no matter the outcome.


    Ferrer [4] won without playing as Kohlschreiber was ill (symptom: vertigo).
    vs
    Nadal [5] dodged a latvian bullet. At some point in the first set, Nadal was serving 0-5 0-30 down and had won a total of 8 (eight!) of the 30 points played. If you count on your finger you'll notice that, at this stage, Nadal had yet to get a game point or even reach a deuce! Gulbis was just turning just about every shot into winners or putting so much pressure on Nadal he would draw a fault or a short ball to dispatch. At around this point though Gulbis turned back into his human form and made some errors. This allowed Nadal to step into the match and put a foot in the door so to speak. Still, for the bulk of the two sets that followed, Gulbis was the one making the points and the mistakes. Here and there, Nadal managed to pin Gulbis back and make him play defensively, but even there, even if this pattern that Nadal enjoys (dictating with the forehand as the opponent runs), Gulbis proved a tough nut to crack, moving well, chasing down balls and managing to produce depth, pace and/or angles to turn the tides of some of these rallies (the backhand cross court was astonishing in that regard). In tennis, there are good errors and bad errors. A good error is when you take a risk at the right time, but miss long. Bad errors are when shot selection is poor or when balls that just wait to get dispatched are not dealt with. The problem with Gulbis was not the number of errors he made, but the number and timing of the bad errors he made. Clusters of those cost him games in the middle of both the second and third sets. Both time he managed to break back and both times another poor game caused is downfall. In the end, he hit a massive 59 winners (many bludgeoning blows, but also a number of clean volleys, deft drop shots or acutely angled groundstrokes) for 50 unforced errors (+9). Nadal had 13 winners and 19 unforced errors (-6) but still won in the end. Credit to him for just surviving the barrage of winners, keep his spirit up and just try to make things as tricky as possible for Gulbis. Late in the match, he had some success drawing errors by returning high, deep, loopy balls with no pace, not only tempting Gulbis to go for too much too soon and miss, but also giving himself some time to move up from is extraordinarily deep return position.

    I am not too sure what the story is, but I think it ends with Nadal winning.


    Paire won a badge of honor from the crazy drop shot club by using the shot over and over and then playing long slices mascarading as drop shots, making Del Potro's life miserable. The guy must be looking forward to the end of the clay court season.
    vs
    Granollers was a break behind in the third set, but he still managed to prevail through a clever mix of clay court tennis (moving the opponent around, pushing him back with top spin) and double expertise (transitioning well to the net, hitting tough volleys for winners) that proved too hot to handle for Chardy's monolithic 'see ball - hit hard' strategy.

    Granollers' no-nonsense approach to the game and his good net abilities (not only the execution of the shots, but also the selection of the shots and the net position to take after hitting the shots) can match up well against Paire's lack of consistency and his drop shot that will bring Granollers to the net. The frenchman has more weapons, but will he use them well enough? Who will handle the pressure of the opportunity better?


    Janowicz looked down and out early in the second set when he got broken by Gasquet... he argued the line call in pure form, the umpire went to check the mark and... decided Gasquet's volley was out. The frenchman could not believe it and, seeing the replay, it seemed like he had a case (the umpire probably misread the mark or got the wrong one). This gave a serious second wind to Janowicz and a serious blow on the head of Gasquet. Losing the second set in a tie-break did not help and losing the match in the decider certainly will encourage him to mail a DVD of the match to the umpire! Note that later in the match, the man in the chair also missed an obvious double bounce which favored Gasquet, so the frenchman will need to cut that before sending the DVD!
    vs
    Federer [2] blitzed through Simon. We talked about the consistency of Simon, the long rallies he forces onto the opponents... well... Simon was a little off today and Federer was in a killer mood so we did not see that many rallies in the 6-1 6-2 victory!

    I think this one is hanging on very few parameters that have a high variance, making the outcome difficult to predict. How will they serve? How will they return? How consistent will they be? I can see this match turning into a festival of unreturned serves with the outcome determined by a couple loose games. Janowicz is more likely to be the one serving the loose games, but again, maybe he'll have two in the same set and Federer will have a couple loose points on serve in two tie-breakers... the absolute reference being Karlovic beating Federer in a third set by winning a single point on the swiss' serve! Maybe we'll have this time the nail-biter I predicted for the previous round?

  60. #60
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    So:

    Berdych [6] was down and out. He played some clean service games to love, played some decent return games, but every time Djokovic [1] managed to bring a game to 30-30 or deuce, every time it became a battle, Djokovic won. Defending better, returning better, more consistent... basically doing everything a little better than Berdych. When you win all the battles there is a good chance you will win the war so we relatively quickly managed to find ourselves at 6-2 5-2 for the World N1. Berdych won his serve to get to 5-3. Berdych explained in the post match interview that something amusing happened at that point. It was time for the new balls, which most players use to also change their racket (the idea being that the tighter strings help control the livelier balls), and Berdych almost did not change racket, not wanting to bother for the one game remaining... and did it anyway, thinking 'one never knows, maybe an opportunity will arise.' It did. Djokovic, a bit bothered by the uneven ground at the spot he uses to serve lost a little bit of focus and out of nowhere found himself broken. Worse: from then on, surfing a wave of confidence, Berdych became the one winning all the battles. That translated into a 7-5 set for Berdych. Things got a little more balanced in the third, but after Berdych manufactured an early break and this time he did not get Wawrinka'ed and closed it.
    vs
    Nadal [5] against Ferrer in one statistic: break point conversion in the first set. Ferrer: 0/6. Nadal: 1/1. Seriously? It seemed Ferrer would build great points, get an opportunity and then miss or have Nadal produce a miraculous shot (with a variable quantity of luck involved). Once again, the whole strategy was to force Nadal to defend with the forehand and attack with the backhand (making him significantly worse than when he does the opposite) and Ferrer executed it better in the second set, winning it 6-4 (with a very WTA-ish five breaks of serve), but then faded. I mean he still fought, but the door closed all the same.

    Berdych has the power to take it to Nadal, but his relatively flat shots could prove too much of a liability if he has to hit three or four great shots in a row to go through the spaniard.


    Paire only left Granollers crumbs in a 6-1 6-1 trashing (that I did not see).
    vs
    Federer [2] said after the match that since there must be a winner in a tennis match, the outcome can become close to random if both players play well, giving credit to the quality of play and high spirit Janowicz brought to the court (in stark contrast with Nadal commenting after his win over Gulbis that being the best is not about hitting 165 km/h winners, but about finding a way to win, concluding that the best player won...). The polish sensation indeed went for his shots from the get go and was the first to have opportunities to break. Refusing to move back and serving very well (he out-aced Janowicz by a huge margin and in the process became the first player to serve more than 8000 aces in his career), Federer saved his neck and later managed to make the most of a sloppy game at 5-4 to win the opening set. Janowicz was not phased and fired a cluster of winners to break in the first return game of the second set. The underdog managed to keep his nose in front through the set until 5-4, but a topsy-turvy game, filled with great serves, double faults, brilliant returns by Federer and some serious slices of luck brought the match to 5-5. Two games and a one-sided tie-breaker later, Federer was through.

    I am always worried when Federer plays against talented but somewhat crazy guys, because the match can turn into an exhibition where the swiss tries to prove he can play even crazier shots than his opponent. The worst is when he plays Malice and Paire has a somewhat similar profile (a lanky figure and a mix of power and finesse). That said, they faced each other twice and Paire has yet to break Federer once.


    A Federer vs Nadal final seems a lot more likely than a Berdych vs Paire one.

  61. #61
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    We have our final:

    Nadal [5] broke Berdych in the opening game and rolled from that, gathering a second break in the process to bag the opening set. Berdych kept it closer in the 2nd, but Nadal pushed at 4-4, broke and served it out.
    vs
    Federer [2] played a poor match, making too much unforced errors. Pair on the other hand played a decent match, using his backhand to good effect, serving a number of winners, going for the returns... good stuff. In fact he was the first to break. The thing is the frenchman got a little tight, so he lost his advance, found himself in a tie-breaker, lead in it and... once again, made some untimely errors or poorly executed drop shots, costing him the set. As one can expect from the veteran he is, Federer put pressure on Paire right at the beginning of the second set, to capitalize on the poor mental state of the underdog who tripped with the finish line in sight, and it paid off. The swiss then took care of business, no more no less, to close the match in straight sets and don't go to bed too late.

    Federer will have to find the form of his earlier rounds if he wants to get some enjoyment out of tomorrow's final. On the up side, the match will not take place at the same time as the final of the Ice Hockey World Championship so it will not be in the back of his head.

  62. #62
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    It's about to start!

  63. #63
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    That did not last long.

    Federer played a good first game, throwing a couple winning serve and volleys in there for good measure, played a decent return game after than, but Nadal hitting his backhand very aggressively, managed to fend him off. After that, it was basically all Nadal for an hour. The spaniard played well, but the blame lays chiefly at the feet of Federer, who was very inconsistent. It's one thing to miss backhands because of the high bouncing balls Nadal throws at you, but it's another to make dozens of unforced errors with the forehand when in a good position in the rallies. That was that much more infuriating that here and there, Federer managed to play some good points, with sound tactic and solid execution, but it was drowned by the unforced errors and the quality of Nadal's play. As Nadal served for the match, Federer suddenly managed to string enough good points together to break and even hold after that, but the buck stopped there. 6-1 6-3 for Nadal, pushing the Master 1000 all time record to 24.

    The most worrying thing as a Federer fan is that he used to play better and better as he went deep into tournaments, but these days it seems like he starts by playing well or decently and then it goes downhill. Today was his first final of 2013. At the same time last year, he had played and won four.

  64. #64
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    Fed can still wins slams. But his reign of terror is over. =) I mean that in a good way, I like Roger but he ain't gonna beat Nadal on clay.

  65. #65
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Federer did beat Nadal in relatively recent times on Clay (Madrid final in 2009) and the French Open final of 2011 was certainly the closest between the two and was three or four point away from being a straight set victory for Federer (lead in the first set, tie-breaker in the second set, won the third). Federer's game plan in Rome was good, but the execution was deeply flawed and Nadal played one of his best match since his come back. Obviously, Nadal will always be the favorite on clay, but I don't think the task is impossible for Federer, providing he executes a lot better than in Rome and that Nadal is not on fire.

    Anyway: the draw of the French Open will take place tomorrow and we already know that Del Potro and Murray are not part of it. Wawrinka has a question mark next to his name (he will probably wait until the last minute to decide because of his thigh), but so does Haas who did not play today against Nieminen in Dusseldorf because of a cold. Honestly, I saw a little bit of that tournament and I wondered why anyone with any hope of winning some matches at the French would go out and play, because it's November out there: rain, wind, cold. A perfect combo to catch death or injure yourself. I am not saying Haas is not ill, but I am sure the craptacular weather factored in his decision to retire. Let's hope he will be in Paris though.

  66. #66
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Nadal is in the top half with Djokovic. Ferrer in the bottom half with Federer. Monfils, back from injury and who got a Wild Card will play Berdych in the first round... more when the fine web people of the French Open post the draw!

  67. #67
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Here we go: The draw from the POV of the top 8 seeds:

    DJOKOVIC beat Nadal in Monaco's final, but also lost to Dimitrov in Madrid and Berdych in Rome. One ankle at 90%.

    R128: Goffin belgian hope who reached the round of 16 last year and did precious nothing since. Played through qualifications.

    R64: Dodig (can play well, as not done so for a while) or Pella (young argentinian leftie who is playing well in Dusseldorf this week)

    R32: Dimitrov managed to play an epic match in Madrid, but even if he finds the same level of tennis is dubious level of fitness should prevent him from prevailing in a best of 5 sets match.

    R16: Probably Kohlschreiber, the lowest ranked of the top 16 seeds (but who already beat Djokovic on the parisian clay!). Dolgopolov and Tomic could also emerge from this part of the draw, but considering their recent results, it's unlikely.

    There are some quality players in there, but Djokovic is te pretty clear favorite to go through.



    TIPSAREVIC is far from his best and not much of a clay court player...

    R128: Mahut, the french attacker, is here thanks to a wild card as he was injured for a while. Always a tricky opponent on a fast surface, the frenchman is not much of a threat on clay especially in the cold and damp condition we should have early next week.

    R64: Verdasco is playing somewhat better and trying to climb out of the hole he dug himself into. The spaniard will like his chance.

    R32: Youzhny (seeded 29 but with mixed results lately) or Andujar (unseeded spaniard who is making a great clay court season).

    R16: If healthy, Haas should emerge, but this part of the draw also has Isner (always tricky even if not in great form at the moment), Berlocq (very competent dirt-baller and playing well), Harrison (american youngster with potential but still trying to find his stride on the tour, fought through qualifications), Rufin (big hitting french youngster, Haas' somewhat tricky first round opponent)...

    Very opened part of the draw considering all seeds have a big question mark next to their name for form or health reasons. I am rooting for Haas, but if the german demonstrated that he could beat Djokovic on a fast surface, I doubt he can beat Djokovic on clay in a 'best of five' match.


    NADAL played better and better through the clay court season. He lost to Djokovic, but other than that he only gave up four sets in 19 matches (one to Gulbis, one to Dimitrov, two to Ferrer).

    R128: Brands a strong german journeyman.

    R64: Klizan, a telented but up and (mostly) down slovakian youngster.

    R32: Fognini (seeded 27) who flamboyant but just got dismantled in Rome by the same Nadal or... why not... Rosol who just won a tournament and had some good wins recently. I seriously doubt in his ability to ever find the level of form he displayed when he beat Nadal in Wimbledon last year, but who knows...

    R16: Nishikori (13) or Paire (24). When the japanese is playing well, he is tough to beat. The guy plays a bit like Ferrer: running fast, steady shots, makes you run with his forehand... a tricky customer, but he played somewhat poorly since his victory over Federer in Madrid. Paire is a mix of power and finesse, with a very good backhand. As it is often the case with players with a good hand and a big arsenal, shot selection can become dubious and focus can dissipate, making it hard to keep a high level through a whole match.

    Nadal is the obvious favorite in this part of the draw. No one is immune to bad day, bad luck or an opponent playing out of his skin, but it's most likely that Nadal will reach the quarter finals without having lost a set.


    GASQUET is the 7th seed. A ranking that is more the reward of consistency than great results. He also played a poor clay court season.

    R128: Stakhovsky is a player I love and I can't figure why he has been lingering for months at the door of the top 100 after having been almost a top 30 player. I don't think he has been injured, so I suspect it's a confidence thing.

    R64: Undefined qualifier (sometimes there are very dangerous players forced to play qualies because their ranking dropped due to inactivity, but it's not really the case this year).

    R32: Mayer (28) or Davydenko... both not playing their best, but both can be tricky: Mayer because of his unconventional style, always mixing things up and putting a lot of slice on his backhands, and Davydenko because he takes the ball very early and hug the baseline, taking time from the opponent.

    R16: Wawrinka (9) if he can play or possibly polish sensation Janowicz, who, after a poor year, beat Tsonga and Gasquet in back to back matches in Rome.

    For me Gasquet is an enigma and I always feel that he can lose whatever the opponent his because of his natural inclination to play so far back behind his baseline, making it very tough to hit winners and to be aggressive on the opponent's short balls. If healthy, I expect Wawrinka to go through. If the swiss is not fit enough, Gasquet has a good shot, but a surprise like Janowicz, Davydenko or even the arentinian Zeballos is not impossible. In any case, Nadal is not overly worried.





    BERDYCH is not known as a major threat on clay, but I thought he moved really well in Madrid and Rome.

    R128: Monfils... one of the dangerous unseeded player in the draw. Back from injury, here because of a Wild Card, the athletic frenchman just beat Santiago, Fognini and Haase in Nice, three quality players. I suspect both Berdych and him are bit bummed by the draw.

    R64: Gulbis... yep... probably the most dangerous unseeded player in the draw. We know his devastating power, his renewed investment in the game, his deft touch, but I suspect a difference could be the quality of Gulbis' defense that really impressed me in his recent matches. Not only the quality of the shots he can produce with his backhand when under extreme pressure, but also the ground he covers and, even more importantly, the fighting spirit, the willingness to chase these balls down. Here again: both Berdych and Gulbis must be a bit bummed.

    R32: Robredo (32) is the unexpected seed, rewarding some decent results from the veteran spaniard. Another option is talented dutchman Sijsling (or even less likely, austrian veteran Melzer).

    R16: Almagro (11) and Seppi (20) are the most likely to go through on paper, but through be told, Seppi played a terrible clay court season and Almagro reached the final of Barcelona (losing to Nadal), but suffered early exists everywhere else. Maybe a surprise guest like Alund (unheralded argentinian playing well at the moment) can capitalize on this, but it's still a long shot.

    In spite of two supremely shitty first rounds, Berdych is the favorite of this part of the draw. I don't believe too much in a health, hungry but rusty Monfils going through, but a hot Gulbis or an Almagro back to his real level (see Barcelona) are reasonable options.


    FERRER (seeded 4) is the only guy other than Djokovic and Gulbis who seriously tested Nadal. Yet, his clay court season is a bit underwhelming, getting creamed by Wawrinka in Portugal and losing to russian veteran Tursunov (!?!?) in Barcelona.

    R128: Matosevic (Bosnia-born australian, journeyman).

    R64: Montanes (spanish clay court journeyman).

    R32: Granollers (31), played well in Rome, but has yet to win a set against Ferrer in five matches (and it's rarely close).

    R16: Raonic (14) or Anderson (23), two 'big serve, big forehand' guys, but against Ferrer you need to be able to defend and turn defense into attack and on a clay court I suspect Ferrer will absorb their big serve, make them hit a backhand or a tough forehand, absorb that and engage a rally they will lose. The quality of their serving can keep the match close though.

    Ferrer should really cruise into the round of 16 and is as big a favorite you can be in a match where not everything is in your hands (if a big server is in a groove and finds his targets, the match will be tight even if the sniper loses 99% of the rallies). The quarter will be tougher though, who ever is on the other side of the net.


    TSONGA is not exactly a clay court guy, but he had a decent enough season, posting wins over Wawrinka, Monaco, Berlocq or Verdasco, and playing a decently close match against Nadal in Monte-Carlo. A suffered two upsets, one from a hot Wawrinka and one from a hot Janowicz, so not much shame in that.

    R128: Bedene, relatively young solvenian that I never saw play (ranked 80ish, best 60ish).

    R64: Nieminen will be an nice opposition of styles, as the lefty finn is about counterpunching where Tsonga is about punching.

    R32: Chardy (25) big game guy who was in a funk and is playing better lately.

    R16: Monaco (17) who was in a funk and is playing a lot better lately. The top seed is Cilic (11), but he is still in a funk!

    On paper, this is a pretty kind draw for Tsonga, but the frenchman has a knack to let matches he should win easily become deadly traps, so, while I expect him to go through, I also expect one or two five sets matches in there that will clip his wings for the later stages.


    FEDERER is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. He did not play much, played some great matches, half-ass'ed others, but his record in best of five matches is what it is and Grand Slams are his N1 objective as far as results go (staying healthy, enjoying tennis are probably the two main general objectives at this point).

    R128: Undefined qualifier.

    R64: Undefined qualifier (Berdych is pouting).

    R32: Benneteau (30). While the frenchman pulled some great upsets against Federer, it was on fast indoor courts and since his heroics in Rotterdam in February, he lost eight of the nine matches he played. So maybe we will see young lituanian Berankis or german journeyman Kamke at this stage.

    R16: Simon (15) is the top seed of this section of the draw and should be there providing he does not stumble in his first match against veteran Hewitt (the former world N1's experience and fighting spirit could prove to be good weapons against Simon who wears his opponent down mentally even more than physically). The other seed is Querrey (18), but he played a really poor clay court season.

    Unless some qualifier is in top form, Simon should prove the sternest test for Federer. He obliterated the frenchman in Rome, but it was in great part because Simon played a very poor match. Come the round of 16, if Simon plays a solid match, it will take a solid Federer to go through and let's just say that the perspective for the french crowd to have a Simon vs Tsonga quarter to play Ferrer in the semi will certainly make the atmosphere electric. Should the swiss go through, Tsonga will also be a tough hurdle to jump. Obviously, clay will dull some of Tsonga's weapons, but that is also true for Federer's. The weather, the form of the day, the energy spent in the previous rounds will factor in this one. What is certain is that Federer would be looking forward to a semi against Ferrer considering he never lost to the spaniard.



    TO SUM THINGS UP I expect the following quarters:

    Djokovic vs Haas (if healthy; Mr. X if not)

    Nadal vs Wawrinka (if healthy; Gasquet or Janowicz if not)

    Berdych (if no early exit; Gulbis or Almagro in case of an early exit) vs Ferrer

    Tsonga vs Federer


    From there, the likely scenario is Nadal vs Djokovic and Ferrer vs Federer in the semis, with a Nadal vs Federer final won by Nadal. There are many crazy scenarii that are possible, but there is also a not so crazy one that I would find personally pretty awesome: a Ferrer victory over Nadal or Djokovic in the final.
    Last edited by Szlia; 05-27-2013 at 09:47 AM.

  68. #68
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    It would be fun to watch Ferrer beat one of the big boys to win a major, I agree. But there can be only one spanish god of clay!

    Do you know of any place that does Fantasy Pick-'Ems for tennis majors?

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    Great summary, I watched way too much tennis today while grinding double experience in EQ. (Yes i am one of the nuts who still play EQ.) i amlooking forward to some of the upcoming matches.

    Tennis Warehouse "Talk Tennis" forum sometimes has fantasy picks, and is generally a good read also.

  70. #70
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    A little update to say we know the names of the two qualifiers in Federer's part of the draw. The first one was Pablo Careo Busta who, contrarily to what I said, was the dangerous player lurking in the qualies. This young spanish player was on the rise and at the door of the top 100 a couple years ago and held back by an injury and in 2013 he probably has the most match wins of all players (more than 50, with seven titles) even if those successes came for the vast majority in the 3rd division of tennis (first division being Grand Slams / Master 1000 / ATP 500 / ATP 250, second division being Challengers and third being Futures). Federer took the opponent seriously and made sure to impose himself on Careo Busta who, in spite of the tremendous confidence his match wins provided him with, was at first paralyzed by the moment, the size of Court Central and the aura of Federer. And then there is the speed. No matter how much you play on the Challenger or Future circuits, it cannot prepare you to how early a player like Federer takes the ball and how fast and 'zippy' some of his shots are. 6-2 6-2 6-3 for Federer.

    The second round opponent will be Somdev Devvarman, the indian player who comes from the american college team tennis circuit (like Isner, who Devvarman famously beat in a final) has been as high as 60ish two years ago. I remember a player with no huge weapons, more of a 'good court coverage and counter punch' kind of guy. Like most players who honed their game in the US, more at ease on hard court.

  71. #71
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    The Brands vs Nadal match should be a must watch in tennis schools, filed in the chapter 'how to play when you are the underdog'. Brands did just about everything right: shot selection, attitude, game plan... the whole package. Brands had a couple things working for him though: big weapons (1m96 / 6'5" with a big game), experience (8th year on tour) and confidence (no huge results, but a lot of match wins, of fights through qualifications, that brought his ranking from 150ish to 60ish). Anyway: he did exactly what you must do as the underdog. First: focus on your service games. Return games don't matter. If a break opportunity arise, great, but ideally, what you want is return games that do not tire you, do not break your focus, do not allow the favorite to ascertain authority through big rallies ended by big winners and, that's where an early break can be dangerous, does not sting the opponent into too high a gear. You want good, no non-sense, aggressive service games, where you go for your shots without going for too much, accepting the positive mistakes, accepting that the opponent will play some great shots, but understanding that if you execute well enough, with a cool head and a positive attitude, it takes a lot of great shots from the opponent, all clustered in a single return game, for a break to happen. Expect tough games though and be calm and ready for them. What you want, just like it happened with Brands, it's to reach 4-4 and understand that no matter who the favorite on the other side of the net is, he will get a little bit tight, because he should be winning and he is not.

    That's Brands' first set for you: big serves, big forehands, killing short balls. Doing some serve & volley to mix things up, trying to be aggressive with the backhand or to slice down the line to get a forehand to play, using a lot the inside out forehand from the backhand corner. 80% of well placed first serves, but also very good second serves, bouncing high and taking Nadal far out of the court... perfect. Not over playing, but playing cleanly. Brands saved some break points at 4-3 with some great points and at 4-4, Nadal blinked: a double fault, a forehand in the net on a barely ok return from the german, a good point by Brands and then another unforced error... one service game later: 6-4 for Brands.

    The beginning of the second set is danger zone for the underdog: the opponent is likely to be pissed off (which can be good or bad depending on who you play against) and you are likely to be excited (I am winning! I am giant slaying!) or deflated (pfffiouuuuu that was tough to bag this set). You can't do much about the opponent, but it is vital to remain focused and on an even keel. Brands did that marvelously. The guy was one set up over the overwhelming favorite of the tournament, playing extremely well, and he looked and acted absolutely unfazed. Just a Monday. The german reached 4-4 again, but Nadal did not blink. 5-5? Nope. Tie break it is then. When the underdog reaches the tie-break, it's already half a victory. Considering most of the Brands service games where closer than Nadal's, the spaniard was the favorite. Brands knew that, so he tried to force his luck and make things even more uncomfortable for Nadal by being even more aggressive on the return points. It worked. He took a lead... but then blinked. After a brilliant wise serve he got a mid court high bouncing reply and the german tried a reasonable shot (a net approach with a slice down the line, ideally a short, low bouncing one) but he made a total mess of it, reaching the bottom of the net. It would have been for a 4-2 lead, instead they switched side at 3-3. Enough for Nadal to find a way through and bring the match to one set all.


    Now the underdog has a very very tough mental task: he has to acknowledge that what he has been doing is working because it brought him into a tie-breaker where he had opportunities and he has to brush aside the fact that he did not take these opportunities and that, because of it, he is back to square one. It takes a zen master to do that and Brands is apparently 'only' a talented disciple, because he played a poor game at the start of the third. A little less intensity in the footwork immediately translated into more unforced errors which was an unsustainable level with Nadal pushing. Much to Brands credit though, he did not crumble. He swallowed the bitter loss of his serve and marched on with a new goal: hold serve to get as many shots as possible to break back and reach another tie-breaker. He held, but could not break. A tough pill to swallow especially when you realize that suddenly you will need to win in five sets, that you spent a lot of energy with little reward and that maintaining the focus, the intensity and the quality of play for another two tough sets becomes a tougher task by the minute. So yeah, Brands, shaken, lost serve again early in the fourth, but once again, much much credit to him, he refocused and fought until he was too much. He was not able to force Nadal to serve for the match and lost his serve again for a 4-6 7-6 6-4 6-3 spanish victory (3 hours).



    I think Brands really played almost as perfect a match than he could and really what hurt him was the overall poor quality of his returns (and good quality of Nadal's serving and, even more importantly, first ground stroke). In 19 return games, I think he sank his teeth in only four (and one of them was with Nadal's help). It shows how complete a package you must be and how full a match you must play to beat Nadal in the French Open.





    In other news, Monfils did win a four hours match against Berdych 7-6 6-4 6-7 6-7 7-5. The fifth seed will probably not sleep too well when you consider he had four break points in the fifth set and converted none. Monfils will face Gulbis who won in straight sets. Hyper athletic defense versus hyper powerful attack should be a fun match to watch. It might be a blessing in disguise for Berdych who has greater ambitions in Wimbledon anyway.
    Last edited by Szlia; 05-27-2013 at 10:29 PM.

  72. #72
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    That match just fired Nadal up. This tournament is already over.
    Last edited by AngryGerbil; 05-28-2013 at 04:09 AM.

  73. #73
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    This match, along with Monfils', seem to, at the very least, have fired up the underdogs. Goffin offered a stern resistance to world N1 Djokovic. The young belgian has less weapons than Brands so it was harder for him to consistently take the game to the serb, but, helped by a Djokovic that was not at his very best, he managed to reach the tie-breaker of the first set, to level the second set after being a break down and to keep it very close deep in the third. Still, Djokovic managed to remain just good enough in the important moments to prevail in three sets. A feat made even more important because of the weather and the very real possibility rain and declining light could have adjourned the resolution of the match.

    Other than the craptacular weather, things of note were:

    - The retirement of australian hope Tomic (Hanescu through) and 28th seed Mayer (Istomin through).

    - Recently ill/injured Wawrinka and Haas playing and winning (both not playing very well, but well enough)

    - Dolgopolov (22) losing in three close sets to veterant Tursunov.

    - Youzhny (29) being too strong for in form Andujar.

    - Pella, the argentinian who reached the Dusseldorf semi-final as a qualifier, beat Dodig 12-10 in the fifth!


    Oddly, we'll have some second round matches tomorrow even if the first round is not yet finished. Notably Federer vs Devvarman, Monfils vs Gulbis and Tsonga vs Nieminen. The weather forecast is a little better, but rain is still a distinct possibility.

  74. #74
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    The big match of the day was Monfils vs Gulbis that the frenchman won in four sets. Gulbis will have some regrets over that one, because he rallied from a break down and then won the first set tie-breaker, was a break up in the second that he lost 6-4 and a break up in third that he lost in a tie-breaker (I only got to see the first set sadly). At that point both players were pretty tired, so, to Gulbis' own admittance, the loss of the third set was tough to handle mentally, and he faded in the fourth as Monfils, on the other end, was boosted by his success in the third.

    The extraordinary court coverage of Monfils and his superior returning skills make things very difficult for offensive players that live and die by theire winner/unforced errors ratio. Forcing you to fire two or three more shots to get a point and minimizing the cheap points one can get when serving, it takes a big mental effort of patience and regularity to beat the frenchman when you try to be the aggressor. In fact, I am sure Gulbis would have preferred to play Berdych rather than Monfils.

    Ferrer, Tsonga and Federer all won in straight sets (with only Tsonga having a contest - due to the quality of his opponent, Nieminen, not a lack of quality in Tsonga).




    Ferrer will play Lopez instead of Granollers. With Lopez being a Serve & Volley kind of guy, I am not sure how he wiggled his way past two dirtballers with this weather, but he did. They have a 6-6 head to head, but Lopez never beat Ferrer on clay. On top of that Ferrer is playing at or near his best at the moment while Lopez seriously lacks recent quality results.

    Tsonga will play compatriot Chardy. A tricky customer, but only Chardy plays a full match and is in a hot day, Tsonga's experience and his new found ability to manage well the ebbs and flows of a long match should do the trick.

    Federer will play Benneteau. The big serving french veteran pulled a couple big upsets against Federer and also played an epic match against him in Wimbeldon last year, but these all were on fast surfaces (indoor, indoor, grass). On clay, it's a much tougher challenge for the frenchman, especially on the back of a five sets against journeyman Kamke.

    Monfils will face Robredo next. The spanish veteran, enjoying a second wind lately, had to fight from two sets down, so neither player should be very fresh.

  75. #75
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Today, it rained. The few seeds that managed to finish their match (Djokovic, Dimitrov, Paire, Nishikori, Fognini) all won. Kohschreiber is also through, but without playing (Lu withdrew).

    Today it rained.


    We have the anticipated Djokovic vs Dimitrov though and it could be a good one. It would take a great Dimitrov and an off color Djokovic for an upset to happen though considering how dificult it was for the young Bulgarian to prevail in that 'best of three' match in Madrid.

  76. #76
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    Not a drop of rain today, so the top half finished its second round and the bottom half its third.

    Not much to say about the top half other than Isner [19] and Tipsarevic [8] had to play for five sets against Harrison and Verdasco respectively. Klizan played a very good and aggressive first set against Nadal and won it 6-4, but he could not summon the serenity of a Brands to remain highly competitive the whole way through (despite breaking Nadal in the third and fourth set).

    The bottom half was a little more eventful. Robredo managed to barely outlast Monfils. The spaniard has no huge weapon other than his ability to play on an even keel, with great care for placement and shot selection, every single strike in every single rally in every single game from the start to the end of a match. And that is a formidable weapon. This allowed him, after losing the first and second set, to dominate Monfils in the third and to contain his second wind in the fourth, when, carried by the cheers of the public, Monfils managed to break and served for the match. Robredo, 31, who could not play through 2012 because of a surgery to adductor muscles, managed to win back to back matches after being two sets down. This time he even saved 4 match points in the process. Hats off. Almagro will most certainly perform the last rites in the next round though.

    There were also two upsets and an epic. Troicki beat Cilic [10] in straight sets, probably boosted by a 14-12 tie-breaker in the first. Anderson [23], also in straight sets, won the battle of the 'big serve, big forehand' guys against [14]. As for the epic, it involved all american Querrey [18] and french hope Simon [15]. The closest match on paper was the expected opposition of styles, with Querrey, feeling good and confident for his first third round showing at the French, attacking and Simon defending and counter-punching. Querrey will have some regrets because leading 2 sets to 1 he fought from a break down in the fourth to win the right to play a tie-breaker that end up being totally one sided in favor of Simon, who also dominated the fifth.

    Federer (against a diminished Benneteau), Tsonga (against nervous underdog Chardy) and Ferrer (against fast court specialist Lopez) won with ease.



    Tomorrow, I feel that six of the eight matches in the top half are mouth watering. You have a Djokovic vs Dimitrov in a Madrid rematch, a real test of patience for Haas against ace machine Isner, Nadal against a Fognini who has enough weapons to emulate Klizan and Brands, the lanky and fiery Paire against the shorter and slightly introvert Nishikori will replay the age old battle of creativity vs reason, this time in the field of aggressive tennis, Wawrinka and Janowicz will try to see who can blow the cover of the most balls and Gasquet (who, without making much noise, cruised to the third round) will try to break the potentially tough nut that is russian veteran Davydenko. The other two are Hanescu vs Kohlshreiber (which *should* be an easy win for the german) and Tipsarevic vs Youzhny who could turn into a serious dogfight. A good day of tennis ahead!
    Last edited by Szlia; 06-01-2013 at 07:37 PM.

  77. #77
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    We do have our round of 16:

    Djokovic made a point to blow away a slightly disappointing Dimitrov and he reaches the fourth round without having to spend much time on court. The only question mark is that near the end of his match he required the trainer to get a shoulder massage, but that did not prevent him to serve hard and to close the match emphatically.
    vs
    Kohlschreiber started late today, but managed to sprint to the finish line, Hanescu only managing to make the second set close (only to get curb-stomped 7-0 in the tie-breaker).

    The german arrives at full health, with confidence and without having spent much energy through his first three rounds. Also, he already beat Djokovic at the French Open, but while I expect a good match and a good challenge from him, I can see him win a set, but not much more. Note that with Djokovic being 1 and Kohlschreiber being 16, that's, on paper, the most unbalanced match possible between two top seeds at this stage.


    Haas found himself the winner of an epic against Isner. Leading two sets to love, the german got dragged into a fourth set where he got no less than 12 match points against a extenuated Isner (played five sets the day before). Standing and serving on fighting spirit alone, the tall american not only forced a tie-breaker, but somehow won it 12-10 and even broke early in the fifth! But as far as fighting spirit go, Haas is not half bad. The veteran clawed is way back to finally prevail 10-8 in the fifth in a little under five hours.
    vs
    Youzhny took benefit of Tipsarevic's poor current form to win in straight sets.

    Haas is on paper the favorite of this match, but how fresh will he be in two days? Youzhny is obviously playing well and would have been tough to beat even when at 100%. I fear Haas' victory over Isner cost him a shot at a quarter final against Djokovic and that even if he beats Youzhny in two days, it will be a tough battle that put on top of his epic of the day will not leave much in the tank to try to challenge the World N1.


    Nadal faced a very good Fognini, but, as expected, a very good Fognini is still not constant enough to create an upset. It was just enough for a lot of entertaining points and three reasonably close sets.
    vs
    Nishikori did not play a great match, but his luck was that he faced the Paire of old (unfocused, irritable), not the Paire of 2013 (focused, calm). So he won in four sets.

    I really like how Nishikori plays, but I feel his shots lack penetration to take the game to Nadal like Brands, Klizan and Fognini did. He will have to rely on hitting precise targets to move Nadal around, so out-rally Nadal. A tough ask. Some managed to do it on hard court (Simon in Madrid a few years back comes to mind), but on clay with a return of sunny conditions?


    Wawrinka made things more difficult for himself than they should have been, playing a poor game when serving for the second set, he allowed Janowicz to put his foot in the door. Still, the swiss won in four sets without spending too much time on court.
    vs
    Gasquet controlled his match against Davydenko with a new found maturity and authority. He pushed at the end of the first two sets to bag them 6-4 and then surfed this wave to win in straight sets.

    This could be a close one. Both are playing well in 2013, both arrive fresh and with a lot of confidence, their ranking is in the same ball park... it will really be a matter of who can impose his game upon the other. The swiss probably has an edge in fitness though, so if it becomes a trench battle with hard fought rallies after hard fought rallies during hours, Wawrinka should be the last one standing. That scenario who be a bit of a Pyrrhic victory though, considering Nadal will probably be awaiting the winner.



    Robredo outlasted Monfils
    vs
    Almagro in cruise control.

    Considering how tired Robredo was at the end of his match, I seriously doubt he will be able to produce much of a fight against Almago. Almagro is also very much aware of the opportunity he has. For most of the players ranked 9 to 16, the biggest hurdle in grand slam is not only beating the top dogs, it's reaching them while being fresh enough to be competitive. For an Almagro, potentially reaching a quarter final of a grand slam on the back of 4 easy matches is a great opportunity. That might be a danger also. Robredo will not just fall over, the match needs to be won. So if Robredo resists, Almagro might become a bit frustrated, might rush things and turn the match into a trap.


    Anderson bossed Raonic at his own game.
    vs
    Ferrer keep on trucking.

    Anderson has weapons and he knows it. Clay gives him a little more time to set for his shots and run around his backhand to dictate play, his size allows him to deal with the high bounce... a good package. On the other side of the net there is a guy that will try to make Anderson run, try to turn defense into attack and generally make things as tough as possible for the south african. Can Anderson execute well enough and long enough to prevail? It's not impossible, but Ferrer is not the fourth seed by accident (well... technically he is, because Murray is injured, but you get the idea: guy is good).


    Tsonga reminded Chardy who is the boss in french tennis.
    vs
    Troicki after a decent tourney in Dusseldorf ousted 10th seed Cilic in straight sets.

    The serbian N3 is obviously on a good dynamic these past weeks and his straight set victory also allows him to absorb the fatigue accumulated in the five sets match of the previous round. It will be interesting to see if he can play his game and challenge Tsonga or if, like Chardy, he will stay trapped in his shell and be of little threat.


    Simon outlasted Querrey in five.
    vs
    Federer discarded a slightly injured Benneteau.

    Federer cruised though his first three rounds, while Simon had two epics against Hewitt and Querrey. This is a big problem as Simon's shot at beating Federer is to force long rallies where the swiss misses. If your winning strategy is not viable because of your fitness level, you are left with fewer options and none satisfying. Still, like Almagro or Tsonga, Federer could be caught looking ahead, getting nervous and missing because he wants an easy match to be fresh for his next rounds.





    All in all, I doubt we will see many upsets in this round of 16. Wawrinka over Gasquet is the most likely, and it's still a 55/45 proposition. Youzhny over Haas is also a distinct possibility if Haas spent too much energy against Isner.

    After three rounds, we get a sense of where the top dogs are at. Djokovic, Federer and Ferrer have been impressive, but the swiss and spaniard were allowed to impress because of their easy draw. It's more of a struggle for Nadal, but it's also true that the poor weather does not help his game. Confidence and effectiveness should come back with the sun. There are several strong underdogs for the title that managed to reach the fourth round with ease, so that should make for a great second week.

  78. #78
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    The bottom half of the draw played today and all four match got completed (several matches ran long, also on the WTA side, so it was not a given).


    Ferrer made sure to make things as uncomfortable as possible for Anderson. Refusing to miss, turning defense into attack and then just jerking the tall south african around, forcing him to go for ridiculous shots to escape from the iron grasp of the spaniard. As a result, if Anderson did not manage to win with one of his first three shots, he lost 95% of points. The weight of each lost point added on the shoulders of Anderson, less and less able to find and execute winning paterns. A speedy 6-3 6-1 6-1.

    Things went somewhat similarly with Tsonga against Troicki. Breaking early in each set, the powerful frenchman simply did not allow his opponent to hope for an upset. There were maybe three or four games where Troicki managed to resist at the beginning of the second set and maybe the match would have turned differently if he managed to break, but Tsonga played very well on the key points. 6-3 6-3 6-3 victory.

    Almagro's match was made of a similar cloth. As expected, Almagro was producing more tennis than Robredo, the veteran being content to extend the rallies and try to make Almagro go for too much. The youngest man on court managed to keep the winner to unforced error ratio high enough to take a two sets to love lead with a break in the third. Robredo at that point was tired and had pain in his arm. But like an horror movie villain, Robredo is not dead until he is really dead. He came back from two sets down against Sijsling, he came back from two sets down against Monfils, so had no interest in going down without fighting, fighting and fighting some more. He did just that. A point after the next he tried to make things as difficult as possible for Almagro... and Almagro blinked, got broken, tensed up, missed more and lost the third set. Just a minor road bump: Almagro broke first in the fourth and... Robredo roped him back and won the fourth. Not happy with the silly scenario, Almagro pushed once again to break first for a fourth set in a row, but as Robredo somehow found within himself the energy to fight back it was too much for the 11th seed to fathom. So yeah: Robredo won in five sets. Ferrer is warned: if he ever leads by two sets to love, he'll be right where Robredo wants him!

    Federer started with Simon just like he ended in Rome. Sharp, aggressive, dictating the rallies, making the frenchman explode. It took six games for Simon to really set foot in the match but he also lost the seventh one in a 10+ minutes behemoth, giving the set to Federer. The first few games of the second set where a lot tighter, but still it's Federer that had the first break points opportunities, but as Simon tried to save one with a deep, flat and pacy backhand cross court, Federer slid to his backhand side to make a defensive shot, missed it and to everyone's surprise found himself on the ground. With the slow motion it was possible to see Federer's foot getting stuck in the clay and him slightly rolling over his ankle. A scary sight and most certainly a scary feeling for Federer. He dusted himself off and resumed playing immediately, but, undoubtedly shaken, his level dropped considerably and Simon broke him immediately which totally turned the match around. Simon, who was playing better since the tail end of the first set, gained additional confidence, while Federer, suddenly more nervous, entered a downward spiral (missed shots -> less confidence -> less clear game plan -> Simon allowed to play better -> more tension -> more missed shots). 45 minutes later Simon had won the second set 6-4 and really was the only player on court in a third set won 6-2. It looked bad. Very bad. Even more so because the match was still far from reaching the two hours mark, making Federer's edge in freshness null and void. Still, beating champions is tough.

    If it was in a regular tournament, I am not sure Federer would have put much of a fight, but in a grand slam? The guy fought hard and tried to find a way back into the match. Step one: rebuilding some confidence by cutting drastically on the unforced errors. Step two: make returns, put pressure on second serves. Step 3: try and shake Simon out of his comfort zone. All of this with a positive attitude and positive body language: motivate yourself while sending the message across the net that the war is not over. This worked remarkably well. Suddenly Simon found it a lot harder to win points and chased down drop shots and lobs instead of just running only left and right. The seed of doubt was planted and it blossomed with a couple ridiculous shots by Federer (notably a passing shot down the line played in half-volley and full extension as a counter-punch to a net kill by Simon: insane). The match remained full of tension, but Federer dominated the debates, bagged the fourth set, served first in the fifth, broke first and, despite some serious rear guard action by Simon, closed the match as dusk approached.

    The up side for Federer is that he won, that the match was a very shot five setter (3 hours) and that he managed to find his game back during the match. The down side is that his level dropped very low and that against more aggressive opponents, he would not have been able to work himself back into the match. And then there is the question mark: the ankle. At the end of the match, Federer was just as sharp and moving just as well as in the beginning, but this kind of things can go well when hot and turn seriously sour once cold. We'll need to wait until Tuesday to know more, but I am reasonably optimistic considering there was no limping, no medical time-out and, as far as we could tell, no medication taken.

    EDIT: In press conference, Federer said he had no pain at all when falling and that he just broke his focus for a bit and his confidence in his footwork for a while. He credited the quality of Simon's game for his inability to get back in the match for a long while.

    PS: That was Federer 900th career win. He'll most certainly pass Villas' 923 mark, but Lendl (1071) will be tough to beat and Connors (1243!!!) simply impossible.

    PPS: With that win, Federer reaches his 36th Grand Slam quarter final in a row. That's nine years (!!) worth of non-stop quarter final. The longest on-going streak is Djokovic's 15.
    Last edited by Szlia; 06-02-2013 at 09:26 PM.

  79. #79
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    Almeltdowngro is 2/2 in the Majors so far when it comes to meltdowns this year. I really like him, I do, but what the hell? Actually, I'd like to know for real because I play like that. I am energetic and have a one handed backhand and I tend to take an early lead ...but then I get inside my own head and I blow my lead. My old tennis instructor used to say that front-running a tennis match, regardless of physical ability, is a skill in and of itself. Poor Nick. I guess it doesn't matter much anyway because Ferrer was going to ruin the winner regardless.

    As for Federer: I also noticed that as far as 5-setters go, his was relatively short. Some guys are just plain fit enough to absorb a match like that and still be %100 for the next one. Roger is certainly among those ranks so I consider it a non-issue.

    Forgetting the tennis and just focusing on the skirts and tans for a second, Victoria Azarenka has gone from sexiest woman alive to 'ugh' in a bit over a year. She is so graceful in her interviews but then when on the court she acts like a cry baby, grunts during drop shots, and looks to her pet clown for support after every point.

    As usual, I expect Serena again in the women's. I know it's France, I know. But I just cannot justify any pick that isn't Serena. Maria is the obvious second pick.

    Nadal will win the mens. End of line.

  80. #80
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    I don't know, I would worry about Nadal in the semis against Djokovic. I don't feel as confident about him for some reason, even though he is one some streak this year.

  81. #81
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    It's quarter finals time!

    Djokovic started a bit flat against Kohschreiber and the german capitalized on it with great opportunism to bag the first set. Kohlschreiber is a top tier guy, but he is stuck navigating between the 30s and the mid teens because he has no big weapon, 'just' a solid all around game. As Djokovic raised his level somewhat from the second set onward, especially on key points. Kohlschreiber could hang around, even create opportunities, but (almost) never break and never reach a 4-4 or 5-5 situation. Djokovic did just enough to win in four sets. It should be noted that Djokovic learned the death of his first coach (almost a second mother for him according to his press conference) which, along the windy condition, could account for his performance of the day.
    vs
    Haas is a veteran. An experienced and appeased version of his former self. So when he sees Youzhny is struggling big time with his shots, he makes a point to remain extremely focused, to keep his aggressive yet safe point construction and he does not blink even when the russian pulverizes his racket. Never allowing the russian to enter the match, Haas blizzed through in 1h25.

    If Djokovic plays against Haas like he played against Kohlschreiber, he is out in straight sets. If he plays like he played against Dimitrov, Haas will be in trouble. I suspect it will fall somewhere in the middle which could lead to a fun match.



    Nadal had to play a serious set in the first to beat Nishikori, but then, the japanese player became a little too defensive which is rarely a winning proposition against the spaniard.
    vs
    Wawrinka won a match I hardly saw (Only the 3 first games and the last four! Not much in a 4 hours match!). It went the trench war way, with carpet bombing the opponent's positions with winners, resulting in a spectacular match (made possible by their styles and the fact both played well at the same time). Gasquet won the first two sets and Wawrinka clawed his way back in to prevail 8-6 in the fifth against a slightly cramping Gasquet.

    Nadal is a bit lucky on this one. Would Wawrinka have won in straight sets he would have been a very very dangerous opponent. Perhaps to the tune of 70/30 in favor of Nadal. The tough, physical battle of the day probably brought that to a 90/10 split. Still, with a day of rest, Wawrinka should arrive a lot fresher than he was in Madrid's final, so it should be a closer contest.



    Robredo derailed the Almagro train.
    vs
    Ferrer kept on trucking.

    Robredo had couple wins over Ferrer in the past, but... yeah... beating Ferrer by defending after playing through three five sets matches sounds about as likely as beating Federer on grass using your wrong hand. Ferrer losing it is also highly unlikely considering he reached the semi finals in 4 of the last 6 Grand Slams.



    Tsonga stayed the course.
    vs
    Federer was up and down and up.

    Tsonga has been extremely impressive in the tournament. Not only because of the quality of his game (much improved backhand!) but also because of the quality of his focus, his relentless quest for excellence and his thirst (he is not here to play the quarter final, he is here to win the title). I still think his return of serve and his defense are not at top dog level, but they are not major liabilities. One of the key will really be good serving on both sides. It's a bit of a clich, but it's even more true with two players that shine when they attack, not when they defend, as second serves often mean starting the point defending. We had a spell of bad Federer against Simon, but through the rest of the event we had some super sharp Federer so it should be tough for anyone to win this match (but someone will!).
    Last edited by Szlia; 06-03-2013 at 10:30 PM.

  82. #82
    Registered User Merrith's Avatar
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    Djoker in 4 tops (maybe straights)
    Nadal in 4 (Wawrinka is 0-9 career against Rafa, I doubt the French is where he breaks through)
    Ferrer in 3 (maybe Robredo wins a set, but Ferrer isn't the guy I'd want to play after 3 straight 5 setters)
    Tsonga in 4 (He's good for one big win in a lot of Slams, I think he gets Federer for his big win this time)

  83. #83
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    I'll play:

    Djokovic in 5 with a 6-1 or 6-2 final set.
    Nadal in 4 with Wawrinka winning the first but unable to keep it up.
    Ferrer in straight sets with one sided scores in 2nd and 3rd.
    Federer in four sets because: Clay.

  84. #84
    Registered User Merrith's Avatar
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    Well, I gave Feds a set, but I nailed Ferrer in straights and Tsonga beating Feds.

  85. #85
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    It was a strange match, Tsonga started by serving supremely well, Federer no so much, but he dictated play in almost all the rallies or turned defense into attack in them, making the odd unforced error here and there. So already at 2-2 Tsonga felt the pressure after losing a rally behind a second serve and making an unforced error on a one-two punch (or something similar) and bam! broken. Federer held behind that, confident, in control, sharp, aggressive. He still put pressure on Tsonga in the next return game, but not only did the frenchman held, but he found himself gifted a break of serve... and that's all she wrote really. Federer allowing Tsonga to enter the match, the frenchman grew in confidence and executed brilliantly while Federer tensed up a tad, made a little more errors and couldn't get his serve working. Tsonga giving nothing, Federer getting no free points on serve and still making one or two unforced errors per game made every hold a battle. To make things worse for the swiss, when he went to the net, Tsonga managed to deliver tricky dipping balls with alarming consistency, forcing Federer to volley upward and, as a result, getting an error or a look at a passing shot. To complete the picture, Tsonga kept through the match a very very high first serve percentage (80ish percent - a constant through the tournament as these days he goes for a little less power and more accuracy/variation). In some games it dropped a little, creating little openings for Federer, but Tsonga managed these tense moments very well and only surrendered his serve twice (the first set break included!).

    The performance by Federer was decent and it could have been enough if he managed to surf on his early lead and keep Tsonga out of the match, but it would have taken a great Federer to beat the great Tsonga of the day.


    That must have a put a smile on Ferrer's face considering he never beat Federer in 15ish meetings and that the only time Tsonga beat him it was on grass (Ferrer winning easily a clay match a couple years back and winning - get this - in straight sets in indoor, in Paris, at the end of last year). I am curious to see how it will go. Oh and yes, as expected, Ferrer made light work of Robredo.

  86. #86
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    Tomrrow when Kirilenko plays Azarenka, I'm closing the curtains, locking the doors, and lighting some candles. Just sayin.

  87. #87
    Registered User Merrith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AngryGerbil View Post
    Tomrrow when Kirilenko plays Azarenka, I'm closing the curtains, locking the doors, and lighting some candles. Just sayin.
    As a big Washington Capitals fan, I will be firmly rooting for Kirilenko.

  88. #88
    Registered User Merrith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merrith View Post
    Djoker in 4 tops (maybe straights)
    Nadal in 4 (Wawrinka is 0-9 career against Rafa, I doubt the French is where he breaks through)
    Ferrer in 3 (maybe Robredo wins a set, but Ferrer isn't the guy I'd want to play after 3 straight 5 setters)
    Tsonga in 4 (He's good for one big win in a lot of Slams, I think he gets Federer for his big win this time)
    Not that these were hard to pick as long as you picked the Tsonga upset of Feds, but aside from giving some guys a set that didn't get any, I nailed it.

  89. #89
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    I did not see the matches today

    Both favorites managed to win in straight sets, Nadal with a bigger margin than Djokovic. As a result we get the blockbuster Nadal vs Djokovic semi that was both hoped and expected when we saw the draw. From all accounts (including Nadal's), the spaniard played at a very very good level against Wawrinka. From day 1 all said the return of the sun in the 2nd week would help him a lot, and it does. But even with the better conditions, this semi is tough to call. Both are fresh and at full health, both really want to send a clear message across the net, but who will deal the best with the pressure of the occasion? I just read my post about the Monte-Carlo's final and it was all Djokovic when the court was damp and things became more and more balanced as it dried. Friday, the court will be dry right from the start, that should give some hope to the Nadal fans. Djokovic fans can find solace on the fact that Djokovic was struggling with one of his ankle through the evnt in Monte-Carlo and has no such worries currently.

    The other semi is Ferrer vs Tsonga. The people of France are ecstatic because it is the 30th anniversary of Noah's title (the last frenchman to have won the title - Pierce, a french woman, won in 2000) and journalists are finding many similarities between his run and Noah's (same seeding, same number of 30+ players in the R16 and other craziness). The extreme quality of his match against Federer certainly legitimizes big hopes. Ferrer does not care. He crushed all opposition on his way to the semi. The thing with Ferrer is that when he step on the court he has a very clear idea of what he wants to do, because he does the same thing in every single match. As a result, he is very very good at executing his game plan. When defending, he looks for depth and placement hoping for a miss or a shorter ball allowing him to turn defense into attack. When attacking, he'll try to hit as many forehand as possible and make you run. And you're going to run a lot because he is very good at running around his backhand and hitting inside out forehands that land almost in the service box, forcing you to cover a ridiculous amount of ground. And if you reach that shot, you are so far past the tramlines that any shot that is not a winner basically gives the point to Ferrer (maybe you will try to lift the ball to give you time to get back into position and you would not be the first: Ferrer is the player who hits the most smashes per season... yep). The corollary of a well executed and clear game plan is that he makes very few unforced error. It sounds trivial, but it has a huge impact: for the opponent to win the majority of the rallies their total of good rallies must be greater than the total of Ferrer's good rallies PLUS the differential in unforced errors. A nut that can only be cracked if you play a very clean and consistent offensive game and/or are able to counter-punch his attacks with regularity, something only the very best are able to do over and over.

    Many top players expect their serve to provide them with one or two unreturned serves per game, along with one of two poor returns they can kill. Ferrer, not so much. He serves very few aces, but the silver lining is that he is expecting a return, ready to absorb it if it is good and capitalize on it if it is bad. When the opponent is serving, he makes a lot of returns, more than what your average big server would expect, and then he win a lot of rallies when they start. That combination puts a lot of pressure on the servers ('I need a great first serve or we'll get into an other damn rally' OUT! 'Great! Now we'll have a damn rally and my 2nd better be good or he will make an aggressive return and make me run' OUT!) which results in things like Murray getting broken 10 times in fours sets last year at the French or huge servers like Anderson struggling to even win games.

    The new Tsonga certainly has weapons to deal with Ferrer. He has proved his offensive intentions and his consistency. On top of that, his current serving policy (no more huge bombs, but variation, accuracy and high % of 1st serves) should prepare him to accept that a lot of balls will come back and that they will need to be dealt with. If he struggles though, if he gets frustrated, if he goes for too much too soon and, as a result, misses too much (and 'too much', as seen above, does not have to be 'a lot'), Ferrer will be the victor.

    Answers on Friday!

  90. #90
    Registered User Merrith's Avatar
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    Nadal in 4
    Ferrer in 5

  91. #91
    1980-2015 Adam12's Avatar
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    Nadal in 5
    Tsonga in 4

  92. #92
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    What I would find funny:

    Djokovic in 5.
    Ferrer in 3.

    What will happen:

    Nadal in 3.
    Tsonga in 3.

  93. #93
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    You're spot on about Ferrer, Szlia. I see him run around his backhand SO much. And he has the ability to hit that extreme angle inside-out forehand, like you said. And he's an energizer bunny. I like watching him play for that reason. The problem is that if you play low and flat you force him on his backhand which, although solid, isn't like Novack or Federer's, it isn't such a weapon. If he starts to guard his backhand (like I do IRL) he opens up the deuce court and gets spanked.

    Any combination of these 4 players in the final would be great and a ton of fun to watch (Dj vs Ferrer being maybe the least interesting). There is a part of me that wants to see Tsonga win it all of course. And if Ferrer could take Nadal in the final at Roland Garros??? It would be the match of his career.

    That said, Nadal in 4. Ferrer in 5. And then Nadal over Ferrer in 3.

    I have to miss the semis tomorrow because a tornado took out the EMS house at the airport where I would have been able to watch tennis all day. God hates tennis. =(
    Last edited by AngryGerbil; 06-06-2013 at 12:50 PM.

  94. #94
    1980-2015 Adam12's Avatar
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    So I'm up watching OOOOOOOOOOOO this semi-final OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO and it's really OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO fucking OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO pissing me the OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO fuck off. Fuck these retarded whores.

  95. #95
    Totally Ninja Sterling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam12 View Post
    So I'm up watching OOOOOOOOOOOO this semi-final OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO and it's really OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO fucking OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO pissing me the OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO fuck off. Fuck these retarded whores.
    ^

  96. #96
    Registered User Szlia's Avatar
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    I realized something amusing the other day: Jankovic does not peep when she plays yet she is the one with the totally broken voice!

  97. #97
    Registered User Merrith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam12 View Post
    So I'm up watching OOOOOOOOOOOO this semi-final OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO and it's really OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO fucking OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO pissing me the OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO fuck off. Fuck these retarded whores.
    I honestly don't even notice it while watching. Too busy watching the point.

  98. #98
    Registered User Merrith's Avatar
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    One thing that drives me nuts about women's tennis (even the top players) is just how their game can just completely fall off for an entire set. In the men's game, you'll see some letdowns where a guy will drop a service game, then recover (although it may be enough to cost them a tight set)...but with the women it feels like you see an awful lot of matches where someone drops a set 6-1 or 6-0, then suddenly is able to play better and force a 3rd, or vice versa start off really hot only to blow the 2nd set.

  99. #99
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merrith View Post
    One thing that drives me nuts about women's tennis (even the top players) is just how their game can just completely fall off for an entire set. In the men's game, you'll see some letdowns where a guy will drop a service game, then recover (although it may be enough to cost them a tight set)...but with the women it feels like you see an awful lot of matches where someone drops a set 6-1 or 6-0, then suddenly is able to play better and force a 3rd, or vice versa start off really hot only to blow the 2nd set.
    It's like hormones and shit dude.

  100. #100
    some sweet gravity AngryGerbil's Avatar
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    Go turn on Serena vs Errani. It is a massacre. Serena must feel like I do when I play my nephew.

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