Monday, July 25, 2016

Wk.29- While the Cat's Away the Mice Will Play


Hey, all. Galileo here.

In a way, it’s nice when all the big stars decide to skip events. Like in the wild, when the big predators are at home, the little guys come out and play. We saw all manner of different styles and methods of play this last week. The wily vet in Paolo Lorenzi was a dog having his day, Fabio Fognini was a battered warrior returning to form and Feliciano Lopez was proving once more he isn’t just a pretty face.

With youngsters sneaking up on the old guard and the few big names collapsing, it was all to play for. The clash of styles as a continuing theme is a good one, a pleasant one. But this also feels like the eye in the middle of the storm. There’s a feeling of imminent danger, you can hear the cyclone a-coming. With the Olympics just around the corner along with a bunch of Masters and our final slam, it’s a question of survival of the fittest. How big a part will injury play?

But that is all in the future. Right now we have to focus upon four different events. So let’s get stuck in. Later you will be able to hear this BACKSPINNER ramble, but for now we have urgent business to attend to. Let’s not leave it hanging, eh?

=RANKINGS WATCH=
Top 32 - Fognini up 6 to 33 in the world and is threatening to rise further. Simon and Ramos-Vinolas fall one place but stay at 31 and 32, respectively. Klizan falls two but is still in the top 30.
Top 10 – No change. Thiem, Tsonga, Goffin are 9-11. Cilic and Ferrer have the same amount of points, but Ferrer is at 13.
Top 8 – No change. Kei still barely leads Raonic. While Kei is 500 points behind Wawrinka, but he and Raonic form a little island.
Top 4 – No change. Novak, Andy, Roger and Rafa are the top four.

*WEEK 29 CHAMPIONS*
WASHINGTON, D.C. USA (Hard)
S: Gael Monfils def. Ivo Karlovic 5-7/7-6(6)/6-4
D: Nestor/Roger-Vasselin d. Kubot/Peya

GSTAAD, SWITZERLAND (Clay)
S: Feliciano Lopez def. Robin Haase 6-4/7-5
D: Peralta/Zeballos d. Pavic/Venus

KITZBUHEL, AUSTRIA (Clay)
S: Paolo Lorenzi def. Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3/6-4
D: Koolhof/Middelkoop d. Novak/Thiem

UMAG, CROATIA (Clay)
S: Fabio Fognini def. Andrej Martin 6-4/6-1
D: Klizan/Marrero d. Mektic/Sancic



PLAYER OF THE WEEK: GAEL MONFILS
...This is more than just the winner of the biggest tournament. Monfils improved to 6-19 in finals. It is an appalling record. He has lost two this year. To be fair, most of his losses were to very good players, but not taking advantage of the likes of Petzschner and Montanes is evidence of his well-known mental fragility. Most players who make 25 finals win at least half. There are players with a third of the finals who have more titles. But let’s focus on the positives: he had a tough draw and eased through it. He beat Lu 6-3, 6-2 and dismissed 16th seed Coric 6-2, 6-3 to make the quarters unscathed. It was quite the performance considering he was on the comeback trail. Querrey has been on dangerous form, which anybody who hasn’t been living on Mars would know. It was a tight match until La Monf! stepped it up and won going away, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. In the semi-final he was rampant in seeing off Zverev 6-4, 6-0. When he gets on a roll he cannot be stopped. And in the final he came back to defeat Karlovic 5-7, 7-6[6], 6-4. He saved championship point and demonstrated his newly found mental strength. This year he has been just that little bit more firm in the head department. It is a big reason for his resurgence into relevancy.

=============================
RISER: FABIO FOGNINI
...Up and down like a yoyo, like the poll ratings on Trump. The Italian had an easy draw and dismissed it. He eased past Olivo 6-4, 6-1 in the second round and saw off Dzumhur 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 in the quarters. Elias in the semi—finals put up little resistance, going down 6-3, 6-3. And Martin in the final only mustered five games. Fognini’s final set, a 6-1 beat down, was vintage Fabio. The draw may have been weak and the seeds may have collapsed, but it still had to be won. And for once there was no implosion, no inexplicable collapse. This is the good Fognini, the Fabio inspired by Pennetta. When he puts it all together and the jigsaw fits he can be nigh on unplayable. The forehand is a real weapon when he can catch fire. What was really remarkable was how he dropped just the one set. He dished out four breadsticks, too. A solid week sees him deservedly return to the top thirty.

=============================
FRESH FACE: NIKOLOZ BASILASHVILI
...The first thing he needs is a nickname. How about after a well-known film-maker? Bas has yet to be seeded on the ATP tour. He did once upset Lopez at Wimbledon, however. Or it might have possibly been in Australia. Anyway, the unheralded Georgian [Not Atlanta, this is the Georgia where nobody cares if Russia invades it] made a good run here. Just beating Rosol 6-4, 7-6[4] was a remarkable victory. Rosol is experienced and in decent form. He is awfully difficult to play and has won titles before. Three set victories over Sijsling, 6-2 in the third, and Pavlasek followed. He only just edged the Czech, winning 5-7, 7-6[2], 6-3. In the semi-finals he defeated 6th seed Lajovic 6-3, 6-1, finally coming into his own. So the seeds collapsed and the draw turned into a cake-walk. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time draws dividends. Look at Errani, look at Murray. Both have benefited from luck in the draw. The biggest disappointment for Bas was his tame loss in the final to Lorenzi. He should have won that match, especially with the streak he was on. But now he has that finalist experience, maybe next time will be his time.
=============================

VETERAN: FELICIANO LOPEZ
...A rare thing this - an ATPBACKSPIN prediction come true. But last week this BACKSPINNER called the Spaniard as the winner of this event despite the surface and it came true. That never happens. Todd takes his predictions far more seriously [Ed.Note: But I haven't been getting many more correct -- this week ANOTHER final correct w/ Venus/Konta, but then the "wrong player" wins! Grrr. - tds] Over here we pretty much draw the name out of a hat. It explains all the Kyrgios predictions. But Lopez came through another weak field to lift a beautiful trophy. In Gstaad he saw off qualifier Mertl 7-6[4], 6-4. Then he edged Ymer, who will be great in 2018, 6-4, 7-6[2]. He was troubled by Brown, but gritted it out 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. In the final he was far too solid for Haase, seeing off the Dutchman 6-4, 7-5. He is now 5-9 in finals, but has won a title on the three major surfaces with this win. Lopez has had a glittering career and whether or not he has slightly underperformed, he has been a breath of fresh air. Here’s Lopez in 2004 for no reason at all. Oh here’s one - it's after his first title, which he won by defeating Canas in five in the final.

=============================
SURPRISE: PAOLO LORENZI
...A maiden title and highest ever ranking for the 34 year old. 41st in the world and with a 1-1 mark in ATP tour finals, he has something to tell the grandchildren. He has developed a career similar to that of Estrellos Burgos. It doesn’t matter how late you develop so long as you do develop. Lorenzi took advantage of yet another weakened field, only playing one seed. Once he edged past Struff [8] in three grueling sets the tournament was before his feet. How long can the veteran keep this up?

=============================
DOWN: GILLES SIMON
...It’s really dull to watch this happen over and over again. Sometimes it works. "Groundhog Day" is a great film. It may have its critics but it’s a clever, fantastic film. The repetitiveness there works. But this year Simon has been abysmal. Monteiro qualified and then defeated the Frenchie. Ranked 104, the South American is four times worse than Simon. Yet he blew away the world number 28 in straight sets 6-2, 6-4. It has to start getting better from the Frenchie.
=============================
UPSET: GASTAO ELIAS
...This is discussed more below, but just a note on this. Cuevas is very good, very solid and a consistent top thirty player. On clay he is even better. But lately he has started to drop a little. But for the world number 20 to lose to the world number 64 something funky has to have taken place. Upsets are about the underdog winning as much as the favourite playing poorly. Sometimes even more so. Elias rising eight places to his career high is as deserved as it is impressive. He’s now more highly ranked than Gulbis.
=============================

Notes from the week...
1 - If Federer wins his singles Gold, does he call and end to the career? Does Serena? If not what are they still playing for?
2 – Non-tennis here. What golfers are actually attending the Olympics?
3 – Federer, Murray and a horde of others have elected not to play in Canada. How badly is the Olympics effecting ticket sales?
4 – Another week in which the seeds were obliterated. It is expected on the WTA tour but there were three unseeded finalists. The winners may have all been top four seeds, but often they were the last standing.
5 – Our first hard-court Masters is coming up and it is two weeks earlier than usual.


1. Washington Final - Monfils d. Karlovic 5-7, 7-6[6], 6-4
...A classic clash of styles ended in Monfils escaping. After holding 53 times in a row, Ivo lost his serve when serving at 7-5, 5-4. Talk about the magic of Monfils. The Frenchy then saved a match point in the breaker and rolled through to victory. What a match, what a highlights reel. This had a lot of surprisingly good points in it.
=============================
2. Umag R1 - Elias d. Cuevas 3-6, 6-3, 7-6[7]
...Up 5-3 in the third the Portuguese man had the ’14 champion down and out. But then Cuevas won three games in a row and lost just three points. The Uruguayan even had a match point in the breaker at 7-6. But the plucky underdog never lost another point in the match.
=============================
3. Gstaad SF - Lopez d. Brown 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
...What an entertaining match from the two tricksters. On their worst surface the two put together a show for the tennis aficionado. This was not Djokovic-esque, cold tennis. This was fun, old-school stuff. We need to see more of it. Earlier was a picture of that Lopez, but here is a video from 2004:

=============================
4. Kitzbuhel R2 - Khachanov d. Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-4
...This could be the big breakthrough for the Russian. Russia’s number four has been up and coming for some time and he is finally starting to click. It was the professionalism that was particularly impressive. He will rise to 95 after another solid week and is almost at the point of automatic qualification. For these journeyman that’s the best thing that can happen in a career.
=============================


*ROGERS CUP, TORONTO*
=SF=
Djokovic [1] d. [4 Raonic
Nishikori [3] d. [2] Wawrinka
=FINAL=
Djokovic [1] d. [3] Nishikori

...Nobody is here. So many withdrawals have occurred it is possible a total surprise wins. A lower ranked player could sweep to the final here but Djokovic will not be beaten by anybody. The seeds should still hold, but for players like Kyrgios this is a great chance to make a run.

Ummm, or maybe not...



Seeded 4th, Mladenovic did alright in Washington. Solid wins over Crawford and Lisicki were followed up with a three set loss to Wickmayer. That’s a solid week, and losing to eventual champion Wickmayer isn’t an awful loss, either. Kiki opens with qualifier Kudryavtseva in Montreal but 9th seed Kuznetsova is waiting. Trounced in the finals last year, when Kiki won in 2012 she was the first French woman to win for 12 years. Hingis and Tauziat won in 2000. Seeded second, she and Garcia will play either Muguruza/Suarez Navarro or Groenefeld/Peschke in the second round. That will be tricky. The 6th seeds Safarova/Babos will play our girls in the quarter-finals. She is ranked 4th in doubles but has fallen four places to 38 in singles.


Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

Read more!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Wk.28- Murray Finds Love in the Eternal City


Hey, all. Galileo here.



Let's go straight into the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Great Britain def. Serbia 3-2
Great Britain defeated Serbia on Belgrade clay 3-1 with the home team claiming the dead rubber. This was a Britain that won without Murray, with Edmund leading the charge. The blonde defeated Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-4, 6-0. Despite Lajovic beating Ward even more comprehensively 6-1, 6-3, 6-2, when Britain won the doubles the tie was done. Inglot/Murray won in the drizzle in four, sending Zimonjic packing. And Edmund sealed it with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6[5] decision to seal a clash with Argentina.



Argentina def. Italy 3-1
On the clay in Pesaro, Italy, Delbonis set the tone early. He defeated Seppi in four grueling sets 7-6[4], 3-6, 6-3, 7-6[3]. This whole Davis Cup weekend was affected by the rain and here it cost the Italians. Fognini had to finish his 6-1, 6-1, 7-5 victory over Monaco on Saturday and then play the doubles. Pella and Delpo winning in five fiery [Del Potro’s passion] sets was the breaking point. Fognini could not muster much the next day as he fell to Delbonis 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5. It was a tie played in good spirits, a tie with great tennis and an occasion where Delbonis got to play hero.



Great Britain faces Argentina in the semi-finals. It’s being played on British soil, so read Glasgow. Britain will lose two singles rubbers and win three-two. With it being right after the U.S. Open concludes it is uncertain who will turn up. If Murray doesn’t the Argentines will win 3-2. The doubles pairings of Great Britain are very good but can be beaten. That’s the key to the whole tie for the Argies. Win that and they probably have it.

France def. Czech Republic 3-1
When Rosol bested Tsonga in five the Frenchies looked in trouble. Coming back from two sets to one down, Rosol won 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6[8], 6-4. He saved match points and even came back from a break down in the fourth set. But Pouille impressively outmuscled Vesely 7-6[2], 6-4, 7-5. Even though Herbert/Mahut looked a little off they still took care of Stepanek/Rosol 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. They should have clinched it in the fourth but Stepsy held his serve in a 12-minute 9th game in the fourth, giving his team momentum. And Tsonga, with not an inconsiderable bit of help from Noah, came back to seal it with a 4-6, 7-6[3], 6-4, 7-5 four set victory. France have dropped just the one rubber thus far. The Croats have dropped four, Great Britain two and the Argies two.



Croatia def. United States 3-2
We had a rare occurrence where all four ties were alive come Sunday. No whitewashes to be found. The funny thing, though, was that only one went to five. Up two-nil with the Bryans on tap, America squandered its lead and fell 3-2 to Croatia. Sock coming back from two to beat Cilic was a highlight. The 23-year old showing his chutzpah and his wicked forehand. Isner dismissing Coric was equally impressive. What followed, though, was disastrous. America’s first ever defeat from two rubbers up. Croatia through, the U.S. in disarray.



Now the problem Croatia has is that there is no team better across all surfaces than France. Even on grass they have the edge. They are also the team with the most talent comparative to least wins. Very little bang for their buck. But Herbert/Mahut will win a rubber. And with Tsonga, Gasquet, Pouille, a healthy Monfils, Simon and Benneteau to choose from, they will find the two other wins somewhere. So Croatia are massive underdogs there. But if I were them I would choose the surface Cilic feels best on. The other wildcard is the consistency of the French. It definitely varies.

Right, let’s take a look at post Wimbledon tournaments now. And we have clay and grass for you to sink your teeth into.

=RANKINGS WATCH=
Top 32 - Sousa and Simon fall two but sit at 32 and 30 respectively. Ramos-Vinolas up two to 31. Klizan is up 19 places to 28.
Top 10 – No change. Thiem, Tsonga, Goffin are 9-11. Cilic and Ferrer have the same amount of points but Ferrer is at 13.
Top 8 – No change. Kei still barely leads Raonic. While Kei is 500 points behind Wawrinka but he and Raonic form a little island.
Top 4 – No change. Novak, Andy, Roger and Rafa are the top four.

*WEEK 28 CHAMPIONS*
NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND (Grass)
S: Ivo Karlovic def. Gilles Muller 6-7(2)/7-6(5)/7-6(12)
D: Groth/Guccione d. Marray/Shamasdin

HAMBURG, GERMANY (Clay)
S: Martin Klizan def. Pablo Cuevas 6-1/6-4
D: Kontinen/Peers d. Nestor/Qureshi

BASTAD, SWEDEN (Clay)
S: Albert Ramos-Vinolas def. Fernando Verdasco 6-3/6-4
D: Granollers/Marrero d. Daniell/Demoliner



PLAYER OF THE WEEK: ALBERT RAMOS-VINOLAS
...Ramos-Vinolas lost just one set in four matches in Bastad as he took out the title in Bastad, watched on by the mighty Borg. He defeated Baena 7-6 [5], 6-3, which on clay is a good victory. Up against unheralded Arnaboldi next he barely escaped 5-7, 7-5, 6-0, but after that he slipped into cruise mode. You get that a lot - players escape then go on a roll. He sent Ferrer packing 7-5, 6-4 in the semi-final, though that is not the scalp it once was. Riding high he was very impressive in seeing off his powerful compatriot Verdasco. His fellow lefty had dropped no sets, let alone games on the way to the final. But Ramos had the consistency and that was enough in a 6-3, 6-4 win. The third seed had won his first-ever title just a month after making the quarters of the French Open. He is cementing himself as a top 32 player with his consistent, crafty tennis. How will he react to the switch onto hard courts? He has never been to a final outside the clay in doubles or singles, whether on the challenger circuit or on the ATP.

=============================
RISER: IVO KARLOVIC
...Put him in as player of the week, as veteran, as surprise. Really, Dr. Ivo ticks all the boxed this week in Newport. He’s just so compelling in a way Isner isn’t. There’s no reason, no rhyme, for it. No particular quirk or habit. But Karlovic just draws attention to himself, in the best way possible. And this week the serve was sizzling, was cooking. During the week he hit over 80 aces and went 5-1 in breakers. He survived Canadian Dancevic 3-6, 7-6[5], 6-4 in the first round before dismissing Chiudinelli 6-3, 6-4 in the quarters. He then took out Bagman in a pair of breakers to come through to the final where he beat Muller in three breakers to triumph. That is the magic of Karlovic, really. He has, in an age of returners, made his serve such a feared weapon that he can give even dull baseliners like Murray trouble. He is ageless and emotionless, robotic almost.

=============================
FRESH FACE: RENZO OLIVO
...Curly hair and a baby faced. Olivo has the game to be very good, well, at least on this surface. In Hamburg, he beat Youzhny 7-6[5], 2-6, 6-1. He dismissed Gonzalez 6-3, 6-4 and then he edged the top seed, Kohlschreiber, 7-5 in the third. He has played in a slam just once but did reach the second round. It was in Australia this year. He is at 109, which is his highest ever ranking and if he can rise into the top eighty or so he should get direct entry. He is also perhaps more of a doubles player, having won three titles from five finals on the challenger tour. Partners have included Zeballos and Delbonis. With friends like that a rise seems inevitable.
=============================
VETERAN: MARCOS BAGHDATIS
...Ranked 43rd the Bagman has gone from fat to fit and is now looking at a comeback into the top 40. He made a semi-final in Newport, beating Brian Baker and Dudi Sela in straight sets. Even in the loss to Karlovic he looked alright. He looks motivated again and he still has a small window to find another run somewhere. Wouldn’t it be good if he could string together wins in Australia again?
=============================
SURPRISE: MARTIN KLIZAN
...Honestly, considering he won a 500 in Hamburg and only dropped a set he should be the player of the week. But he was an enormous surprise, akin to Trump’s nomination. Because Klizan is somebody who could make a semi-final run at a major. But he is also somebody who could lose to the world number 500 in qualies. That forehand is a serious weapon, it can wreck games and wreak havoc. He edged past Sjisling 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 but he had momentum and he rode it. He beat Wessels 1 and 1, before besting Gimeno-Traver 6-4, 6-3. Klizan dismissed Robert 6-3, 6-4 to make the final. Of the three events we had just two right-handed finalists. Having reached the final Klizan blew Cuevas away 6-1, 6-4. Well, that wasn’t supposed to happen, was it? Now ranked 28, he is just four away from equaling his highest ever ranking. He won his 5th title. He made a run to the fourth round of the U.S. Open in 2012. Repeat that and he could be on the cusp of the top twenty.
.=============================
DOWN: BENOIT PAIRE
...Another first round loss. It is just beyond disappointing. The second seed in a weak field in Hamburg, he had a massive chance. A loss to Gimeno-Traver in a 500. It’s really quite embarrassing. It’s no wonder he was there and not in the Davis Cup. Would you call him up to represent your country? It’s the seeming lack of interest and occasional burst of brilliance that makes it all the more frustrating. We rightfully expect more from Paire.
=============================
UPSET: DONALD YOUNG
...When Donald Young gets it right one wonders how he fell to such a low ranking. He was on a higher plane this week in Newport before he had his wings clipped by Muller. He dismissed Donaldson 6-1, 6-3 and Kozlov 6-0, 6-4. Having seen off two of his compatriots he had to face a third. But this was top-seeded Johnson riding a career-high ranking. And it was the way Young dismissed him so routinely, 6-2, 6-3. It wasn’t close, it was a statement victory, a stamp. Which just made his loss in straight sets to Muller all the more mystifying.
=============================

Notes from the week...
1 - Mahut and Herbert have sealed their place in London at the end of the year.
2 – With four events happening twice and the Olympics throwing things out of whack expect the U.S. Open seedings to be funky.
3 – Is that Federer’s last shot a major? Will he have regrets?
4 – Nations who gain promotion in the lower tiers of the Davis Cup will now win medals. Which is nice.
5 – Congratulations Azarenka on being pregnant. I hope she comes back faster than Kirilenko, who has disappeared.
6 – Nice to see Borg with Klizan at the Swedish Open. Good to see how Borg has developed into a statesman and ambassador of the game.


1. Newport F - Karlovic d. Muller 6-7[2], 7-6[5], 7-6[12]
...Absolute madness in Newport. Karlovic becomes the oldest winner of a title since 1979. He also saved three championship points and wins his first title here in his third final. It took three hours but the Croat won his 7th title.
=============================
2. Hamburg F - Klizan d. Cuevas 6-1, 6-4
...It must be nice to come back after missing over two months earlier in the year and dominate your first final back. I don’t know for sure, but Klizan does. He dominated Cuevas in the final, like he did against Monfils in Rotterdam in February. Klizan was happy to win the same tournament Mecir once did.
=============================
3. Hamburg R3 - Olivo d. Kohlschreiber 1-6, 6-0, 7-5
...Occasionally this BACKSPINNER likes to throw in a match because of the bizarre scoreline. But this one also has an upset factor, too. Olivo saved match point down 3-5 in the third, before sweeping the last four games and taking victory. Here’s one way to break back, too.
=============================
4. Bastad R3 - Ferrer d. Brown 6-1, 4-6, 6-4
...The clash of styles here is remarkable. Throw in a decent attempt at an upset and this was a decent match. Ferrer is definitely trending downwards, but does he have one last big run left in him?
=============================



*WASHINGTON*
=SF=
Johnson [5] d. [3] Tomic
Querrey [8] d. [14] Muller
=FINAL=
Querrey [8] d. [5] Johnson

...It will be interesting to see the response of Tomic and Johnson, who both reached the same round at Wimbledon. Nobody in the bottom half can be trusted and so it falls to the form players of Muller and Querrey. Zverev could make a run here but he still has a slam hangover. There will be a surprise winner here and with a home crowd, why not an American?

*GSTAAD*
=SF=
Lopez [1] d. [4] Bellucci
Ramos-Vinolas [4] d. [2] Simon
=FINAL=
Lopez [1] d. [4] Ramos-Vinolas

...Anything really could happen here, but at the least the seeds are in alright form. Well enough that they can be relied upon. The Spanish fourth seed is really dangerous here but Lopez is the better lefty. Sure he’s better on grass but he’s due a surprise title. Why not here?

*KITZBUHEL*
=SF=
Thiem [1] d. [4] Lorenzi
Kohlschreiber [2] d. [3] Granollers
=FINAL=
Thiem [1] d. [2] Kohlschreiber

...Welcome to event three of four. With four events the field is really spread thin, too thin. And it means the seeds will almost always have their way. This tournament should be a cakewalk for the Austrian, especially with that home crowd.

*UMAG*
=SF=
Cuevas [1] d. [4] Fognini
Klizan [7] d. [8] Vesely
=FINAL=
Cuevas [1] d. [7] Klizan

...How will the South American react to not being a dark horse? He should be able to roll through this field. And the other semi-final, if it comes to pass, will be an excellent match. Two big-hitting lefties who somehow have different styles. But Cuevas has too much form and too much experience. Whew, finished. But four again next week!

Mladenovic is seeded fourth at the Washington Citi Open. She opens with Crawford, but Lisicki and Brengle lurk. Stephens is the bigger seed in her half. So she has ended up in a manageable section. No sign of Garcia, though. She and Bencic won this last year so she will lose points next week. She has not even entered the doubles. She is ranked 34th in singles and 4th in doubles.


Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

Read more!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Wimbledon Final: Take a Bow


Hey, all. Galileo here.

We shall dissect the match properly below. Some thoughts first. Who goes to a Wimbledon final and decides that looking like a hobo is acceptable? Apparently Andy Murray does. He didn’t shave or get a haircut. He looked so scruffy and undignified. No hair was in place, a direct contrast to Milos Raonic. For any other tournament, it’s whatever. But for a Wimbledon final? It’s important. Particularly if it is your home slam.



Murray did not beat Federer or Djokovic. He played no top five players on his run. He played just one top eight guy. This run will, like Bartoli’s, have an asterisk. He was never going to beat Federer or Djokovic here; he can’t do it. It’s why he will never deserve to be a number one. Even though he is five times more accomplished than about four different WTA number ones.

Congratulations to Murray on winning Wimbledon twice and making all of Britain happy. He has played well this past fortnight. Of course he has.

Now this is the moment we look at pictures of Andy and Serena together. Well, this BACKSPINNER won’t let you down...







*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Congrats to Henri Kontinen and Heather Watson, who won the mixed by defeating 15th seeds Robert Farah and Anna-Lena Groenefeld 7-6[5], 6-4. It is Kontinen’s third title of the year and his first mixed title. He and Watson played attractive tennis, matching his youthful good looks. Just one break in it but Kontinen/Watson hit thirteen winners to their opponents' three. Both of the champions' first two matches were walkovers, including second seeded Soares/Vesnina. After beating Hingis/Paes in three, they didn’t drop a set.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Despite being a lefty, junior Denis Shapovalov has a zippy one-handed backhand. He used it in his three set win over 7th seeded Alex De Minaur of Australia. The 5th seed won 4-6, 6-1, 6-3. Canadian tennis is certainly very healthy right now. The Aussie went an abysmal 8-27 on the errors. The Canuck went 25-34.

Strangely the boy’s doubles tournament saw the top four seeds make the semi-finals with the final being between the top two seeds. And Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime lost despite being seeded first. Kenneth Raisma of Estonia and Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece beat the Canadians 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

In the rankings, Federer and Nadal are on 5000 points, Murray at 10 and Djokovic at 15. Berdych and Thiem swap, seeing the Czech back into the top 15. Raonic stays at 7th but is just 5 points from the broken Kei. Tsonga is up two to 10th while Gasquet falls to 14th. Cilic only rises a place. Kyrgios and Tomic stay while Pouille is the big jumper. He is up 9 places to 21st. Querrey moves up 12 places to 29th but relatively speaking Pouille is the bigger mover. Anderson and Troicki fall 6 and 5 places to 31 and 32, but expect them to rise.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Davis Cup now in this stupidly packed week. The ATP messed up organizationally and it really isn’t all the Olympics' fault. In fact, blaming the Olympics is a lazy excuse. Anyway, on the bottom of the draw America wins in Portland [ORE] against Croatia 3-2. Sure, Cilic will get a win but the Bryans along with two top thirty players should be enough. France will go to the Czechs, but they are that rare thing - a team that has no weak surface. Tsonga and Pouille will be enough to get a victory each. Throw in Mahut and Herbert with rocket-high levels of confidence and you have 3-1 France. Italy and Argentina always do better than one thinks they should. Expect a lot of grinding on outdoor clay in Presaro, Italy. Del Potro is the wildcard here. Argies to win 3-2 because of Delpo. And at the top of the draw is Britain versus Serbia without either of their best players, most likely. Without the big guns this is a dog’s dinner. Outdoor clay combined with home-court advantage should see the Serbians win this.

As well as the Davis Cup we have two 250’s and a 500. Eight events in two weeks mean a loss in profits and surprise winners. At Hamburg top seeded Kohl beats 3rd seed Cuevas in the first semi. In the other Zverev [4] defeats 2nd seed Paire.

Johnson will ride his confidence in Newport and defeat third seeded Muller on his way to the final. Second seeded Karlovic gets past defending champion Ram but loses in the final.

In Bastad Ferrer [1] defeats [3] Ramos-Vinolas. Granollers seeded 4th will take out second seeded Sousa in the other semi, but this is Ferrer’s to win. Ferru is 2-0 in finals here.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Finally, Serena swept the doubles, as well. There’s now a discussion about greatest overall, though Navratilova still wins for this BACKSPINNER. When asked if she was one of the greatest female athletes of all time she replied simply...


She and Venus are a tribute to our sport.


CENTRE COURT: MURRAY D. RAONIC
...When Chang won that French Open he never kicked on, he never rose to the heights of which he was capable. Ditto for Philippoussis in that U.S. Open final. For Mecir, reaching that final in 1986 and defeating Wilander [2nd in the world] and Becker [3rd] on route was not the start of something. Aged 22 he would make just one more final. We know Kei’s tale, too. Look at Ferrero. Never quite kicked on after 2003. Look at Kei. He has done little since 2014. Will Canada’s most successful ever singles player follow in their footsteps or Nadal’s? That first final tends to make or break players. He will certainly be back in a Wimbledon final. Impossible to guarantee, but this BACKSPINNER guarantees it anyway. He will also make a final run in Australia or New York, more likely Melbourne. He will be a top two player at some point. But it is here on the grass he will be most effective. We saw a grass court player lose to a baseliner. Milos played most of the grass-court tennis while Murray sat back and tried to be as dull as possible, throwing in the odd slice. Then Raonic comes forward and gets passed. Murray played boring, counter-punching tennis. That awful rubbish does not belong in a Wimbledon final. It belongs at Masters 1000 level on indoor hard courts. Raonic may have lost 6-4, 7-6[3], 7-6 [2] but it wasn’t close. Only one break in it and Murray was always going to win it. He essentially smothered Raonic. But the stat that really hurt the Canadian? 64 per cent of first serves in. Abysmal. It was not a totally awful first final but it was far from perfect. Now this BACKSPINNER believes in Raonic. He will go from strength to strength. With Nadal out and Nishikori nowhere and hurting, he is the fourth best player in the world right now, maybe higher. He will be in more slam finals, he will win more titles this year. He is already 1-3 but he has played Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Murray. Last year he lost in New York to Lopez in straights. This year he will, for the first time, get past the fourth round. But what other BACKSPINNERS think, I don’t know. Hang on- Todd, what do you think, which direction is he headed in. Will he be a top two player one day? [ Sounds about right. Just by process of eventual elimination or a further slip in the rankings, from Federer and Nadal, would get him very close. He 's not flighty like Dimitrov, nor injury prone like Nishikori, so you'd think he'd be able to keep his position and be able to continue to move up with big results. - tds ]


Well, folks, consider this BACKSPINNERS mic dropped. Thank you linesman, thank you ball boys. See you on Sunday for a hectic edition of ATP BACKSPIN.


Thanks and visit WTA BACKSPIN. Of course we are all absolutely exhausted here so the next week is designated nap week at headquarters.


Read more!

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Wimbledon: The Calm Before the Storm (or "Williams Conquers All")


Hey, all. Galileo here.

Serena is the greatest singles player ever. Sure, Navratilova is the best player ever overall and Graf’s numbers are slightly more consistent and better in some areas. Sure, she lacks mixed doubles titles and she has courted controversy, but those are barely flaws. She has yet to win the Golden Slam and won’t now do it. But the Gold medals in singles and doubles is practically guaranteed. She will have an impressive haul and the doubles title she won alongside the singles just adds to her glory.

Graf congratulated her. Todd will write a long and interesting piece on her, too. But, and this is revisiting an old Volley post, the fact that a 35-year old woman who has had several long term injuries and general health issues previously, including being on death’s door can dominate the women’s tour is embarrassing. This is supposed to be the world’s best tour and Serena has still made nearly eight straight (7/8) finals. She is still world number one by a long way. It is a poor show from the rest of the professional tour. Kerber isn’t young. Kvitova is utterly unreliable. Azarenka is essentially finished if she cannot sort out the myriad of injuries. And Muguruza is still finding her feet. The WTA needs to look at itself.

**************************************

Editor's note: [just to highlight comments made on the other side of the Backspin universe this past week] "...ignoring the fact that (such an) argument could be made far more easily about the continuing merit of the men's side of the game considering four now 30+ year old (or nearly so) men have decimated the field for the past thirteen years and won 41 of 45 slams dating back to 2005 (and two of those four "non-wins" were claimed by now 31-year old Stan Wawrinka, with the others having come seven years ago by Juan Martin del Potro and two years ago by Marin Cilic, who couldn't hold a 2-0 set lead or convert three MP vs. a 35-year old Roger Federer this past week) while the lack of additional contenders for slam titles from the following generation have been far, far more disappointing than in the women's game."

"The fact is that both tours are currently seeing the birth of what might be a new generation of stars just now coming into their own, or maybe it will take an additional 3-5 years for those players to truly hit their PEAK. But with careers lasting longer the need for players to win big as teens or from age 20-23 before they're 'past their prime' isn't as important as it used to be when careers fizzled out at age 27-28 two decades ago. There's a new paradigm in the game now, with longer careers producing players who can challenge for slams near or past age 30, often reaching their peak (see Djokovic) at an age when past generations saw players in the thick of their inevitable decline, if not already past it. The fields on both tours will be put to a test of their collective mettle as the likes of Serena, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray transition from dominant to lesser roles or leave the game entirely. It will be fascinating to watch..."


That said, just as Muguruza's win in Paris was a big step for the women's game, so could be Milos Raonic's appearance in the men's final at SW19. All right, I just wanted to add that. Sorry, G... but since I had the "last word" I couldn't resist. - tds

**************************************

We had the first all-French Mens doubles final. Roger-Vasselin/Benneteau lost to the top seeded Herbert/Mahut in two hours 6-4, 7-6[1], 6-3. It was fun, flair-filled, flamboyant French fabulousness, fully. The unseeded pair had blown a two sets to love lead in the quarters but won 10-8 while in the semis our top seeds won from two sets to one down. But in the final the number one players in the world cemented their position. They were superb.

The top seeds broke three times and never lost their own serve. They also won an impressive 38 per cent of receiving points. We may finally have a successor to the Bryans here.

Now onto the singles...


CENTRE COURT: RAONIC D. FEDERER
...In three and a half hours the baton was passed, just as Sampras handed it to Federer 15 years ago. 12 years before that Sampras beat Wilander in five in New York. Raonic won this by being mentally stable. He won it by refusing to back down under immense pressure in the fourth set. But 23 aces helped him to a 6-3, 6-7[3], 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory. The key stat? Federer taking one break point from nine. That isn’t Federer, isn’t Federer at all. The Swiss was all over the place. He looked nervous, unsure and a little lost. The credit must go to Raonic for finally stepping up and taking control. 75 winners to 40 and winning a per cent more than Federer on receiving points. As usual he looked totally unflappable, totally focused and ready to go. He has one of the best poker faces on tour and he used it to great effect. Sometimes he can lose it...


But often he can mentally block out anything. The crowd combined with his opponent throwing the whole bathroom at him made it tricky. But before we shout and dance, let's see how he does against Murray.
=============================
CENTRE COURT: MURRAY D. BERDYCH
...Berdych was poor and Murray too good as the Czech lost 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The scoreline may not say it explicitly but this was a rout. Sure, Berdych broke but Murray went a very boring, precise 20-9 on the winners. The Scot returned at 42 per cent and blunted out the Czech attack. Five breaks and 10 errors a set from Berdie were enough for Muzza. This was a match Berdman was never allowed to be in. And for a top ten player it is ridiculous that he should let that happen. He should have found a way to force a breaker, he should have found a new attack plan to worry Murray. But he did none of those things. The really annoying thing about this is that means there is no storyline. There is no more to be written about this match. Murray is going to win that final in four. It is going to be dull, too. One hopes Raonic can pull one out of nowhere but Murray will not have another chance like this.
=============================


Garcia is in Gstaad but Kiki has yet to take a wild card into the event. If not I’m sure we will see them before August. The Wimbledon defeat will have knocked their confidence a little.


Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

Read more!

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Wimbledon Day 10/11: The Final Four are Set


Hey, all. Galileo here.

This BACKSPINNER saw Vesely/Siniakova lose 7-5, 7-6[5] to Safarova/Stepanek, but was still impressed and surprised by the talent on display. Vesely being brilliant and big-serving was more expected. He is still honing his doubles skills and is a little sloppy in certain areas like shot selection. But his partner was brilliant; a future top-ten player. Great movement, great shot-selection and very intelligent. The serve is good enough to be going on with and the groundstrokes were always perfect. The lob was always spot on, too. This girl is the future of Czech tennis.

Vesely, of course, lost to Berdych 6-3 in the 5th set. It took Berdych some four hours to get the win but both men played a great match. The mental resilience of his younger opponent was refreshing to see. He saved eight of thirteen break points and hit 53 winners to Berdman’s 52. He only hit 33 errors, two more than Berdych, and broke thrice. It was a brilliantly played match from the young star who will win this event one day.

Also seen yesterday by BACKSPIN’S man on the ground was the end of the Bryans' straight sets loss. The crowd seemed a bit shocked. The Bryans' had been on the comeback trail and were rising again in the rankings. But, honestly speaking, they seemed a tad off. They also had no idea how to deal with their opponents’ red-hot form. And they now have not triumphed since the 2014 U.S. Open. The last one before that was the 2013 edition of Wimbledon.

The top seeded men, Herbert and Mahut, were also witnessed and they played well. They played a tactically astute match and won in four. But the crowd in attendance was small. It should have been larger. Quite disrespectful to the world’s best pair.

So, lots happened. Let’s go straight in...


CENTRE COURT: FEDERER D. CILIC
...The escape of the year? This match can be described in numbers. Three and a quarter hours. Federer won from two sets down, 6-7[4], 4-6, 6-3, 7-6[9], 6-4. Three match points saved. But it was more than that. I was sitting on Henman Hill watching with bated breath. I was sitting on an outside court looking at the score that is displayed on the side of Centre Court. Waiting for the raucous cheer or ominous silence. If there is a more beloved sports star anywhere, tell this BACKSPINNER. Because he cannot think of even one. Federer knew the match would come down to the fourth set but the telling moment came earlier. At 3-3, 0/40 in the third he edged through the game and then broke for 4-3. It was a different match after that. It was Federer’s match. Federer out-aced Cilic 27-23 and found a way to win despite breaking just twice. Federer won a solid 72 per cent of service points, better than Cilic. But this match was about heart and soul, about the refusal to give, the mettle. Federer was too tough and too mentally focused to fold. Against Raonic he is the favourite. He needs to try and find the Raonic backhand and make him move. He should hit droppers and take the net away. The inside out backhand could also work well as a surprise tactic.
=============================
CENTRE COURT: MURRAY D. TSONGA
...Murray let Tsonga back in. He faltered. He cannot afford to do that against either Berdych or, god forbid, Federer. He triumphed in some four hours [longer than Fed’s match] 7-6[10], 6-1, 3-5, 4-6, 6-1. He was lucky his opponent hit 47 errors along with the 59 winners. For a little while it looked like Tsonga would storm back and win it. Muzza still managed to win 41 per cent of return points. It was a nervy victory but the Scot did have the upper hand. He has a way of winning those five set matches. He also seems to always get the best of Tsonga. Next he faces a less flashy, more solid version of Tsonga. Berdych has none of the thrills but he has weapons and he has the physical ability to really challenge Murray. The Scot also has that magic home support. Henman Hill is never as crowded as when Murray steps onto Centre. To beat Berdych one must make him move and defend well. Murray will be just fine, though he cannot afford to be too passive.
=============================
NO.1 COURT: RAONIC D. QUERREY
...Querrey hit 15 aces to the Canadian’s thirteen in the match but still lost in two and a half hours. Raonic won 81 per cent of serve points on the way to a 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 decision. The Canuck also hit 58 winners to just 16 errors in a quite remarkable performance. He broke three times and made his second Wimbledon semi-final. He also tied Isner for most aces at Wimbledon with 114. The world number seven has justified his Dark Horse tag at Wimbledon this year. This was a classic server’s match and a serving masterclass from North America’s best player. This was Querrey’s career defining slam, at least. With Federer dominating ten Wimbledon semi-finals, barely dropping games let alone sets, Raonic will have to play out of his skin. He has to serve big and take any chances he can. Mix up the serve and come in on some of Fed’s floatier slices. He also has to return alright and put away anything midcourt. He is the underdog but he won’t mind that at all.
=============================
NO.1 COURT: BERDYCH D. POUILLE
...This was easy, this was simple. The Czech had struggled through his last match but was inspired here. The opening set was tight but once Berdie won it the rest was easy. It didn’t even take the tenth seed two hours to win 7-6[4], 6-4, 6-2. Four breaks to one and 35 winners were enough for Tomas but he has to cut down on the 24 errors. He is looking in ominous form and has never played Murray on grass. He beat Novak here in his last semi-final and had a bad record against him, too. This also feels similar to that 2009 Wimbledon. To win he needs to just open fire with the cannons. He has to try to hit through Murray and be careful when taking the net. Murray’s the favourite but that will take pressure off the Czech. Can he spring one of the upsets of the year?
=============================

Kiki and Garcia played yesterday against Parra-Santonja/Medina-Garrigues and this BACKSPINNER was in attendance. The girls looked crisp and were playing at a decent level. But the match was over before photographic evidence could be compiled. Medina called the trainer before the warm-up and had her shoulder strapping reapplied constantly. She could only serve at 50 per cent of her usual power, flicking it in on each delivery.

But today they fell to the 8th seeds 7-6[9], 6-3. Luckily the top seeds fell so the French women will stay at number two, well three and four. But their opponents only won two more points and Goerges/Pliskova are an established and talented team. This is not a a bad loss. Besides, it’s common for players to implode after winning their first slam. This is a great follow-up to the French triumph.


Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.


Read more!

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Wimbledon Day 8: Happy Fourth of July, Serena and Sam


Hey, all. Galileo here.

Jiri Vesely saved five match points, the same amount of points won by Sveta in her second set, and won the fourth set breaker against Berdie 11-9. He and Berdman are two sets all with the winner playing Pouille. Vesely could make his maiden slam semi-final here.

And after this BACKSPINNER waxed lyrical about the Aussies, they both blew it. Impressively, Querrey backed it up and won a tricky match against Mahut. This day was exciting and memorable just as every manic Monday should be. Kerber can rise to number one if she wins. Radwanska crashed out again in three long sets. That match against Lisicki is beginning to look more and more like the turning point of her career. And Shvedova has made a highly improbable run here.

Stat of the day: on first serve points Querrey was 96 per cent won.

So, lots happened. Let’s go straight in...


CENTRE COURT: FEDERER D. JOHNSON
...Sure, the outer matches were spectacular. But some of the ones more heavily billed were damp squibs. They used to say Steffi played like she was double parked. Today Roger played as if he had left the oven on. In just over an hour and a half he dismissed the American 6-2, 6-3, 7-5. He hit the ball fine and rallied with the top seed. He spanked that forehand and even went 23-21 on the winners. But Federer is in form that he hasn’t been since January. How do you beat somebody who goes 35-13 on the winners? How do you beat somebody who wins 46 per cent of return points and 71 per cent of second service points? Forget the numbers; Federer is flowing like water over worn down rock, like champagne in a flute. The Swiss is gliding, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a hornet. That forehand is back with a vengeance. Sure Cilic is dangerous, but he also relies on surprise and upsetting his opponent. Federer is ready and, as much as this BACKSPINNER has predicted abysmally, Cilic won’t win that. In ten semi-finals at Wimbledon Fed has dropped just one set. To Djokovic. Book the Swiss in for an 11th final.
=============================
CENTRE COURT: MURRAY D. KYRGIOS
...Kyrgios tanked today. He threw the match and has once again been roundly criticized by everyone. He is back in the dog house but at least he acknowledges that. Off the court he behaves but on it is a different matter. He capitulated and his press conference was shocking. This section of BACKSPIN land, as is all of it, is about tennis. It is not about the further embarrassing behaviours of one of our crazier residents. Murray won 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 and was on the court barely longer than Fed. The two appear to be on a collision course with one another at this point. Murray hit just six errors and played the perfect match. Kyrgios never even got a break point. This was a poor match and one that is hopefully soon forgotten. Murray has to deal with Tsonga next and then a surprise semi-finalist. Tsonga will play with nothing to lose and could be very tricky. At least Kyrgios is likely to finish in the top five on the aces count.
=============================
NO.1 COURT : TSONGA D. GASQUET
...Tsonga won when Gasquet retired down 2-4 in the first. In stark contrast to Kyrgios’ behaviour, Tsonga gets massive sportsmanship points for this:



Against Murray, Tsonga just has to go for it. Serve-volley, go big on any forehand he sees. He should be as unpredictable as possible. He does all these things, anyway. Murray is likely going to win in four but Tsonga will play all the nicest tennis. Look for him to also try to take the net from Murray. If Murray is somehow having a bad passing shot day his chances will dramatically improve.
=============================
NO.2 COURT: CILIC D. NISHIKORI
...Nishikori needs to create a website or Twitter account dedicated solely to keeping us updated on his various injuries. Down 6-1, 5-1 he finally listened to his team who had been urging him to retire for at least a set. It was the ribs this time. Is there any part of him that isn’t injured? He should do what Clijsters did. He should retire, come back and somehow be more brilliant than before. Anyway, Cilic is through to his third consecutive quarter here. He lost to Nole in five in 2016 and in straights last year. He is a back half of the year guy and has been abysmal throughout the year. But now is when he starts to get cooking. He needs to take the racket out of Federer’s hand. But he will have to move around and on this surface once you start to get moved around you never stop. He also has to be perfect for over three hours. Can he do that?
=============================
NO.2 COURT: RAONIC D. GOFFIN
...A contender here for match of the championship. Goffin crafted, sliced, diced and served his way to a 6-4, 6-3 lead. He had momentum, he had the upset. He also had the Canuck right where he wanted him. But alas, Raonic came back from 2 down for the first time and won 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Essentially a top-ten clash, this burgeoning rivalry is growing into one of the most exciting around. In Basel, Goffin triumphed in three. That was in 2014, but in 2016 Raonic won in Indian Wells in three. It was a semi-final, too. The game styles are a fantastic contrast with Raonic the muscle against the thinker, the brain. There were six breaks in the three hours clash. Raonic went 53-44 on the winners while his opponent hit 44-27. Honestly, everybody had thought this would be a straight sets, straightforward encounter. But the Belgian is the successor to Ferrer and he has an uncanny knack of making these matches close. He really had Raonic all over the place throughout, but on this surface Raonic always has a slight edge. On this occasion it was too much. Raonic plays Querrey and in that you can expect 50 combined aces and lots of breakers. Could Querrey possibly continue his run?
=============================
OUTER COURT SELECTION: POUILLE D. TOMIC
...before Wimbledon, Pouille had never won a grass court match but he beat Tomic in five heart-breaking sets. At least Bernie didn’t tank. No, the Frenchman won 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 10-8. Somehow it didn’t even take three hours. Up 4-2 in that last set those final eight points eluded Tomic, who graciously admitted his opponent had “played the match of his life.” Despite his despair he will rise to world number 17. That’s a career high. With a decent summer showing he could rise to the top 16, which would help him greatly in New York. But Pouille is the Cinderella of the tournament and is not done yet. He is set to rise to 21, up nine places. That semi-final in Rome gave him seeding in Paris and that in turn assured him seeding at Wimbledon. He is a journeyman who has finally made it big, made it big time. And you have to love that. France needs a new hero, needs a new cast and it may have found its leading man. Pouille could make it all the way to the semi-finalist, though he will be a massive underdog against whichever Czech he faces. Then again, he thrives as the underdog. Props to Pouille. He keeps rising and riding.
=============================


Kiki and Garcia should be playing tomorrow folks.


Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.


Read more!

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Wimbledon Day 7: History is Alive Today


Hey, all. Galileo here.

Only three or four times in history have we had to play on the middle Sunday. Today was one of those days. Let’s just have a look at the matches, shall we.


CENTRE COURT: BERDYCH D. ZVEREV
...Berdych survives the future by winning 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. The Czech himself declared his opponent would win slams in the future. And who are we not to believe the world number ten, anyway? It was a match where cannonballs and bombs were the currency. Physical and intriguing in the right measure, Zverev showed steel in his refusal to go away. But Berdman slowly broke the 19 year old’s spirit. It was an incredible effort to just take it to four sets. For nearly two and three quarter hours the pair entertained the sold-out stadium. The backhand rallies in particular were engaging. But while they both hit 34 errors, Berdych hit 44 winners to the German’s 24. It was factors like that, where Berdie had the edge. He managed to break six times, too. Of course, his young opponent did capitulate in the last set but even then Zverev hung around as long as possible. Now Berdych gets to play Vesely, most likely. No, scratch that...Vesely just won. Talk about another battle betwixt the past and future, but this time the winner can rightfully be declared the Czech number one. Vesely will be rising 15 spots to 49 so he really is starting to catch up the Berd.
=============================
NO. 1 COURT: KYRGIOS D. LOPEZ
...Kyrgios had a horror draw, but in the end he has come through with aplomb. He only dropped a set to Stepsy and edged Brown in five. Now he has beaten Lopez in four and looked fairly mature through all of it. When the umpire called him on match point for taking too long to serve he was very gracious. He didn’t rant. He didn’t rave. He was calm and accepted it though it was a horrible decision; Kyrgios is one of the most rapid servers out there. Kyrgios won 6-3, 6-7[2], 6-3, 6-4 in some three hours spread across two days. The crowd was under a spell throughout the whole thing. Nick won the aces battle 27-11. Isner has 114 aces and leads the aces count but Kyrgios is in joint second with 79. He is ahead of Querrey, but level with Raonic. The key number here is that Lopez only got 53 per cent of his first serves in. If that number is 15 per cent higher this match goes five. Kyrgios was 72 per cent in that area and he will neEd to stay at that level against Murray. He may even need to raise his level against the Scot. Considering this BACKSPINNER has butchered every other prediction, maybe the prediction that the Aussie will upset the Scot might come true. Wouldn’t it be good if I could prove I wasn’t totally useless?
=============================
NO.1 COURT : VESELY D. SOUSA
...Now a top 50 player, Vesely he should be dismissing Sousa on this surface. The future top-tenner [hardly a bold prediction, for once] was calm and controlled as he rolled through 6-2, 6-2, 7-5. It took the lefty just 100 minutes to come through to the fourth round. If he beats Berdych he will crack the top forty. He even survived the third set fightback from his experienced opponent. Hitting 32 winners, including 12 aces, and breaking five times to none, he played the perfect match. And doing that against a seed at Wimbledon is very tricky indeed. He also won 82 per cent of his serving points. Sure, Berdych is 7 and a half steps up from Sousa but the Czech number one should still be a little nervous. He is about to be tested.
=============================
NO.2 COURT : TSONGA D. ISNER
...6-7[3], 3-6, 7-6[5], 6-2, 19-17. That was the scoreline. Just four breaks. Isner hit 53 errors and 101 winners but somehow only 38 aces. Four hours and 24 minutes. Isner won 18 per cent of return points, his opponent just 27 per cent. Tsonga hit an incredible 88 winners to 20 errors. This was a match of incredible quality but also one where most rallies were really short. Honestly, it would be impossible to do this match justice unless you were there. So this BACKSPINNER suggests you go find someone who saw it and quiz them on this match. Because raw numbers do nothing to describe this bizarre and long battle. Tsonga’s victory prize will be a fourth round clash against Gasquet and that is most likely a bridge too far for the talented Frenchie.
=============================
NO.18 COURT: GASQUET D. RAMOS-VINOLAS
...What a good day Gasquet has had. He gets past the Spaniard at a canter and his next opponent plays a marathon. Yes, the Frenchie won 2-6, 7-6[5], 6-2, 6-3. Seeded 7th, Gasquet has passed every test at this year’s Wimbledon. This match was only ever competitive as long as Gasquet couldn’t figure out the Spaniard’s game. Once he got to grips with it his opponent was in trouble. In the last set Gasquet started to really cook and even won the match on a massive forehand winner. Yes, correct, not a backhand, a forehand. Imagine that! He is starting to exude confidence, and with Tsonga likely to be 10 per cent less than usual he has a great shot to make a second semi-final in a row here. It would be his fourth slam semi but first he must deal with some tricky opponents. Even tired Tsonga will test him and so will Murray or Kyrgios. Berdych is likely to be waiting beyond that, too. He hit 47 winners against the Spaniard. He also showed more uncharacteristic mettle. Can he keep it up?
=============================
OUTER COURT SELECTION: POUILLE D. DEL POTRO
...Hard-working, unheralded Pouille has come through against the giant giant-killer. And it’s strange that Del Potro should so tamely fall to a Frenchman with seemingly little but a big serve. The Frenchie won 6-7[4], 7-6[6],7-5, 6-1. The match was effectively won in that second set. Once he leveled it at a set-all he had the momentum and he rode it all the way through. Also, his opponent somehow out hit him in the winners department by 73-36. That’s double and also not the Delpo that we know and love. The Argentine still rose 30 spots to 139. A few decent results over the summer and he will be able to enter events automatically. The Olympics may be beyond him, however. Pouille rises 4 places to 26 but he won’t beat Tomic. The Aussie has found momentum and form. He will see the fourth round clash as too good an opportunity to miss. There is a possibility of a Kyrgios versus Tomic semi-finals. Let us hope it happens.
=============================

Kiki and Garcia edged through a nervy encounter against Peng/Zhang 0-6, 6-3, 6-4. Their opponents broke more times [5-4] and won more points [84-82] but still lost out in the hour and forty-five minute contest. But they managed just one winner. So now our Frenchies go through. They may have to play seeds next, though their opponents have yet to be determined.


Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.


Read more!

Friday, July 01, 2016

Wimbledon Day 5: Keep Calm and Ignore the Rain


Hey, all. Galileo here.

Well, let’s go on with it. The rain has wrecked everything. The storylines are few and best explored individually. So let’s ignore the rain and the fact that no seeds are safe and proceed.

Actually, hang on. Djokovic has imploded.

Querrey was up 4-2 in the breaker and squandered chances to win the breaker early before eventually taking it 8-6. After winning the opener he won the second set 6-1. So now Djokovic will have to play tomorrow and then four times in seven days. Federer is one of the few who gets two days off. Could it make the difference?

With the rain hitting Wimbledon so badly we have just five matches to focus on.

*Suicide Picks*
MS 1st Rd: Mahut d. Klein {W}
MS 2nd Rd: 2nd Rd: Karlovic [21] d. Lacko [Q] {L}
==
WS 1st Rd: Makarova d. Larsson {W}
WS 2nd Rd: Vandeweghe [27] d. Babos {W}
WS 3rd Rd: Suarez Navarro [12] d. Erakovic [Q] {W}
WS 3rd/4th Rd: Lisicki d. Shvedova


CENTRE COURT: DEL POTRO D. WAWRINKA
...This is the big moment, the match we remember. It is the match that kick-started Delpo’s 78th career and also the match where Wawrinka may just have started to show his decline. The Argentinian’s ranking will improve and he can slowly find his way back. His serve and forehand fired while his slice backhand was surprisingly effective. With Djokovic in trouble, Wawrinka out and only Federer looking competent, could Murray finally win his long-awaited third slam? Delpo hit 70 per cent of his first serves in and of those he won 75 per cent. Those numbers are enough to see him through most matches, though his winner ratio of 23-25 is far too low. 32nd seed Pouille awaits and after that Tomic or Agut. One of those players is going to make a big run here, possibly to the final. Could it be Delpo?
=============================
CENTRE COURT: FEDERER D. EVANS
...This Brit was actually less effective than the previous one, losing in just 80 minutes. Federer seemed to get bored during the 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 decision. Up 4-0 in the first he weathered the British storm and then slowly picked apart his opponent. The last set was Federer playing at a level rarely seen since the Australian Open. Federer does not even know his next opponent yet. On paper neither Dimitrov nor Johnson pose much of a threat to Federer, but this is not a slam played on paper. Still, would you want to play the GOAT after two days of rest? No, me either. What about if he has just hit 29 winners including 11 aces and won 76 per cent of his serve points? The Swiss is gearing up for what would be a tenth final here. How many different ways can you say dominant?
=============================
NO.2 COURT: KYRGIOS D. BROWN
...This is like playing yourself. Kyrgios may be seeded and he also does have a slightly tighter grasp on reality, but both these players are equally mad and brilliant. Fiery, pleasant off-court and funky hair are also points in common. Kyrgios has the bigger serve, so far he has hit 52 aces, which is good enough for joint 5th with Raonic. He edged the German 6-7[3], 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. The last two sets he showed his mental strength and his solidness. He proved he has mettle. The Aussie went 55-16 on the winners count while his opponent went 78-30. This match was not just insane, it was something you couldn’t write into a movie. Neither player returned anywhere near decently. Brown won just 35 points on the Kyrgios serve. This had dropshots, serve-volleying and bad-temperedness from Nick. Pure excitement and fire from both men. And the Australian’s reward is a clash with somebody who really should have exited in this round.
=============================
NO.3 COURT: BERDYCH D. BECKER
...Sometimes a player or a sports team is simply outmatched. Raiders fans, Bills fans, Oilers fans and Utah Jazz fans all know what I’m talking about. So do fans of the Rockies. Getting roundly thrashed is part of sports. It’s almost always ugly and never leaves anyone feeling very good unless you’re with the winning team, of course. When Becker ran into Berdych in the second round of this year’s Wimbledon not even he expected the drubbing that was to come his way. It took Berdie just 80 minutes to come through 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. 43 winners and 5 breaks later the German had permission to leave. The Czech lost just 16 service points in some 12 games. This BACKSPINNER thinks it's time to move on, frankly. Berdych gets Zverev or Youzhny up next. And then Sousa or Vesely. So the quarterfinals beckon. But if there was ever a player capable of mucking it up it is Berdych.
=============================
OUTER COURT SELECTION: LOPEZ D. FOGNINI
...Let’s not think about the days and hours [only three actually] it took to complete this match between two of our most attractive players. Attractive as in, you know, tennis and stuff. But Pennetta is still a lucky woman, winning that U.S. Open title and all. Lopez came back from the dead and won 3-6, 6-7[5], 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Lopez hit 61 winners to Fognini’s 50 and only 43 errors, less than his opponent. In the end this was about the surface. Fognini has never quite understood the grass while Lopez thrives on the green stuff. He managed to break eight times, double the Italians. It was a very watchable five sets. The BBC kept flicking onto the match every now and then. It seemed to go on forever. And now Lopez gets Kyrgios. Kyrgios is the slight favourite, but the talent on show will dazzle all those in attendance. Look for them to combined crack 50 aces there.
=============================

Kiki will possibly play tomorrow. Honestly, who knows? The rain has been truly abysmal and it has been non-stop.


Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

Read more!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wimbledon Day 4: Seeds Crumble, Fall Out the Door


Hey, all. Galileo here.

Viktor Troicki has added another rant to his collection:


He is known for his hot head and even at Wimbledon he is liable to explode. In a five set loss to Ramos he blew up, yelling at the umpire. Apparently one of the line judges made a sound. And on the same day Simon threatened to sue for being forced to play in awful conditions. Yes, it was all in all an utter shambles. Like in Paris, nobody wants to play in the rain.

And 18 seeds fell, though only 7 in the men’s draw. Karlovic, my suicide pick, was very disappointing. Of course, the biggest seed to fall in the men’s was an Austrian who was everybody’s dark horse. Radwanska only survived [winning 9-7 in the third] Konjuh because her opponent wasted three match points before injuring herself. So it’s an extremely lucky escape for the third seed.


Ankle injuries are nasty. They can really effect a player’s career. Long term how has this impacted the Dane’s career? I suppose we’ll never know.


Before we get onto Murray and Nishikori, there is one more leg injury that must be referenced. Warning- not for the squeamish.


Well let’s go on with it...

*Suicide Picks*
MS 1st Rd: Mahut d. Klein {W}
MS 2nd Rd: 2nd Rd: Karlovic [21] d. Lacko [Q] {L}
==
WS 1st Rd: Makarova d. Larsson {W}
WS 2nd Rd: Vandeweghe [27] d. Babos {W}
WS 3rd Rd: Suarez Navarro [12] d. Erakovic [Q]


CENTRE COURT: NISHIKORI D. BENNETEAU
...It’s a massive banana peel sidestepped by Kei here. When Benny won the first set 6-4 the upset alarm in BACKSPIN HQ began to flash, though not red. It flashed a light pink. Kei turned it off with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 come-from-behind win. Few avoided the upset, with Venus being a notable escape artist. Radwanska doesn’t count; she got extremely lucky. Benny went just 29-22 in the winners while Nishikori exploded. He hit the same amount of errors but blasted 48 winners throughout the match. He also broke 5 times to 2 in the two and a half hour contest. Nishikori started slow but soon hit his usual rhythm. The Asian number one has an abysmal record here, making just one fourth round. Kuznetsov is up next and will be no pushover. After that Cilic likely lurks. So from here it gets tougher.
=============================
CENTRE COURT: MURRAY D. LU
...Rendy Lu was up 2-0 in the first set but his resistance was soon snapped. The Scot cruised through after that, dropping just 4 more games in the 100 minute contest. He managed just 20-25 on the winners while the second seed went 31-12. Muzza broke 7 times and won 56 per cent of receiving points. Little else need be said except that John Millman is up next for the Scot. He shocked Paire in four. The problem with these early matches is that they are so rarely close and this one was sadly no exception.
=============================
NO.1 COURT : DIMITROV D. SIMON
...Dimi is back. He announced himself with a 6-3, 7-6[1], 3-6, 6-4 shock ‘upset’ over out of form 16th seeded Simon. It was a bad day for the 16th seeds. Konta drew Bouchard and lost in three. Dimitrov flashed 44 winners to 43 errors and was completely mad the whole match. Brilliantly, frustratingly mad. And you’re mad if you didn’t enjoy every stupid moment. Simon almost sued the umpire. Dimitrov’s defence and offense was mind-blowing. The confidence was back, the magic is flowing once more. Is he slowly moving out of his rut or will he be forever a grass-court specialist? Both men won well over 60 per cent of their serve points though there were still eight breaks. Simon seemed all out of ideas while Dimitrov flowed effortlessly around the greasy court and played some sparkling tennis. If he can beat Johnson he could be looking at rising into the top 32 again. Johnson will be somewhere around 25 in the world, a just reward for a very talented college player. Oh, the winner of that one gets Roger Federer. Yep.
=============================
NO.1 COURT : VESELY D. THIEM
...One could be forgiven for forgetting these two are the same age. 7-6[4], 7-6[5], 7-6[3] was the scoreline, completed in three hours. But this is no reason to sell Thiem stock. Berdych lost in an identical scoreline to Gulbis a few Wimbledons ago. Berdych is still in the top ten while Gulbis has imploded. Despite Thiem going 45-29 in the winners while his opponent could only manage 37-25, and the Austrian only losing serve once, he still finds himself going home. He only won 31 per cent of receiving points, a mirror of his opponents. Vesely won four of every five points on his first serve. In the matches coming up against Sousa and Berdych he will need to continue that stat. It was his first big signature win and he can follow it up with his first round appearance at a slam.
=============================
COURT 18: TOMIC D. ALBOT
...The Aussie blew many a chance but scraped through to a 7-6[3], 6-3, 6-7[6], 6-3 victory in front of his fanatics this afternoon. He refused to come to the net, allowing his Macedonian opponent to scamper around the back of the court and defend. He was the same mercurial self he has always been. Albot resisted admirably but he could never hurt Tomic. Tomic hit 66 winners, exactly twice that of his opponent. Tomic always seems to find his best tennis at Wimbledon and in Australia. He is the slight favourite against Agut, who has recovered a little form lately. But after that lurks Wawrinka and then probably Berdych. So the road is tough.
=============================
OUTER COURT SELECTION: BARTON D. OLIVETTI
...Sure it took the Aussie three days and four hours but a win is a win. He won through 6-7[7], 7-6[5], 6-3, 6-7[5], 14-12. That took an age to type - this BACKSPINNER cannot imagine playing that kind of a match at a slam level of intensity. The Frenchman only managed to find one break point the whole match. He didn’t even convert it, either. Barton was only 2 from 13. Both players won just a quarter of receiving points and the Frenchie played 107 net points. A combined 196 winners outweighs the 79 errors that were hit in this insane match. Isner now awaits the Aussie qualifier. In this battle of the qualifiers both had been forced to go over 6-6 at some point in qualifying. Tennis is a funny sport.
=============================


Kiki plays on court 7 tomorrow with Garcia. They play last and are up against Schuurs/Voracova. Kiki lost to Sasnovich 3 and 3 today. 27 errors and five breaks on the Pastry’s serve. She barely even won points on her opponent’s serve. Man, she needs to find some consistent slam singles form. She has too much talent for it be wasted. Roland Garros was a massive step in the right direction, though.


Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

Read more!