Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Wk.9- Federer Wins #78, Dimitrov Wins #2

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

We have finished in Asia and signed off in Latin America, so now we look to the States for Indian Wells and Miami, which together comprise the fifth slam, or what I think of as the fifth slam. Since 1990, a few have won the Miami/Indian Wells double. Courier did in 1991, Chang in 1992, Sampras in 1994, Rios in 1998, Agassi in 2001, Federer in 2005-6 and Djokovic in 2011.

Federer has made eight finals in Halle, Dubai, Wimbledon, the Tour Finals and Basel. No other player in history has reached eight or more finals at a single tournament at as many different tournaments. If Federer gets to the final in Basel this year, that will be eleven finals, the most at any tournament by any player ever. He has also won Halle, the WTF, Wimbledon and Dubai at least six times. If Fed wins Cincy, he will be the only player ever to win five different titles at least six times. Nadal has won four titles at least seven times -- the same four clay events he wins pretty much every year. Also, Fed has now won 78 titles, third all time. He bypassed McEnroe. Next up is Lendl with 94 titles and I think that may be unassailable for the mighty Fed.

Anyway, this week in Dubai, Federer looked back to his old self, with perhaps one or two exceptions. He was playing that graceful gorgeous tennis that it seems only he is capable of playing. He played classy, vintage stuff and he brought back the old to defeat the new. That sounds like it shouldn't work, but it did. Federer could be primed for a deep run in both halves of the fifth slam.

Delbonis won his first titl,e which pushed him up to #44 in the world. He is now ranked higher than Harrison and Tomic. The lefty dirtballer had a fantastic week, though of course he had his share of luck. I think he may well pick up another title in the spring clay swing, but in any case he is definitely one to watch out for in the future. Argentinian tennis has been very strong and it retains a lot of depth, led by Del Potro and Monaco. Zeballos had his moment last year, so which lefty Argentine will win next year?

Oh and Dimitrov won, which was fun especially for those of us who like flashy tennis. He literally showed us why he will win a slam one day. I could talk all day about his very attractive one-handed backhand but I will resist the temptation.

Dimitrov plays floating court tennis with Genie Bouchard in Acapulco

But enough of my talking, stuff happened this week and it went like this:

S: Roger Federer d. Tomas Berdych 3-6/6-4/6-3
D: Bopanna/Qureshi d. Nestor/Zimonjic

S: Grigor Dimitrov d. Kevin Anderson 7-6/3-6/7-6
D: Anderson/Ebden d. F.Lopez/Mirnyi

S: Federico Delbonis d. Paolo Lorenzi 4-6/6-3/6-4
D: Garcia-Lopez/Oswald d. Cabal/Farah

...Well, well, well. Dimitrov wins his second title and his first 500 with a great week in Acupulco. Typically, Fed overshadows him by winning Dubai and beating the world number two, but Dimi showed us he has arrived. He had a horrible draw, as well. He was very strong in his opening two rounds, beating Matosevic and Baghdatis in straight sets back-to-back. That is the mark of a great player -- one who can navigate potentially tricky matches with ease. He would face a sterner test in the shape of seventh seeded Latvian Gulbis, who had beaten Goffin in the the second round. Dimitrov fell behind early and could not recover as Gulbis took the first set 6-4. The strong-willed Dimitrov found his feet in the next two sets, however, as he fought back and ground his way into the next round with an epic 4-6, 7-6, 7-5 victory. Next up was Murray and the youngster played some epic tennis to cause an "upset,"although really the way Murray has been playing, it seemed less of an upset. Surely the youngster had earned an easy match. He didn't get it. He had to play South African number one Anderson and it turned out to be a titanic struggle. After winning the opening breaker 7-1, he surrendered the second set 6-3. However, he was too strong in the end, winning the final set breaker 7-5. I think the Bulgarian is poised for a big run in Indian Wells and Miami, especially if he lands in a soft quarter like Murray's or Gasquet's.
….This is why Federer is the greatest, or part of it. Yes, the numbers, the facts, the stats prove that. Yes, the way he plays prove that, but the thing that impresses me is his sheer longevity that only Connors, Lendl and McEnroe really seemed to have. He has spent 595 weeks in the top ten, consecutively. That, for me, is just ridiculous. He showed this past week that he still has a slam left in him, so long as Nadal lands in the other half of the draw. In the past three slams, he has been in Nadal's half. I was most impressed by the Swiss backhand this week. He used his slice well and he actually used it as a weapon, a really effective weapon. The forehand was swinging like the Fed forehand of old that we know and love. The forehand that terrorized all before it. Combine the fact that he served extremely well and his volleys were again crisp and clean, as well, and it was a complete performance He was too strong for Becker in the opening round, but ran into trouble against Stepsy in the third round. Down two-love in the third, Radek had a point for 3-0 but couldn't take it and Fed came back to win 6-3, 6-7 [4], 6-3. It was a classy, high quality match, which Federer may have lost last year. Federer used his forehand and serve to decimate Rosol in the quarters to set up a meeting with Djokovic. An off-form Djokovic would prove to be no match for the G.O.A.T, who came back to win 6-2 in the third. After that, Fed was yet again in trouble in the final but pulled it out of the bag as he recovered from a set and a break down to win in three against the Czech. With quarterfinal points all he has to defend, look for the Swiss to rise up the rankings.
...I have lost count of how many times this perennial dark horse has been my surprise of the week. This week he was up to his usual tricks. He seems able to play stunning tennis in any and every match, but the important ones. If he had one consistent shot, I feel like he would improve vastly. He also needs to really improve mentally, so he can win those big matches. He is 2-4 in finals, though all but one were winnable. Anyway, this week he smashed sixth seeded Pospisil 6-2, 6-2 to open his campaign. When he plays his best, he is truly frustrating and impossible to play, too. He was too good for talented Frenchman Chardy, as well, winning 6-3, 6-4. After beating Karlovic 6-4, 7-6, he just had to beat 5th seed Anderson to advance to the final. However, he crumbled and crashed out, losing 6-1, 5-7, 6-4. Despite taking that second set, he could not take the momentum and Anderson slowly took control back before closing it out. He is seeded 28th in Indian Wells, but he will not be getting far.
...The Italian just made his maiden final aged 32. He is a classic journeyman dirtballer. He is 14-12 in futures and challengers, however. Lorenzi is always on the fringes and he finally got his moment in the spotlight. Well, kind of. Incredibly, he won his only ATP doubles title against Monaco/Nadal on clay, last year in Chile. He has had a decent career for a journeyman but nothing to write home about. I think I could see him making a good coach, however.
...There was no comeback this week unfortunately. [Editor's note: well, maybe Federer. :) - tds]
...The Spaniard has offered little so far on the early Americas clay swing. On another surface, in another place this would be acceptable, but not here, not where Almagro plays his best. This is where he earns his money, where he best plies his trade. Almags has to improve and quickly, lest he face a hefty drop in the rankings. If he cannot win here, well then where can he win? I don't know why he is not playing his best, but the last final he reached was last year in Barcelona and his last title was May 2012 in Nice. It is a big drought, but I do expect him to snap it soon.

1. DUBAI SF - FEDERER d. DJOKOVIC 3-6/6-3/6-2
Guess who's back! Federer turned back the clock to beat Djokovic in an enthralling quarterfinal match. The Swiss dominated on serve throughout, to put the pressure on Djokovic. Both Djokovic and Murray have looked beatable this year and with Federer only 500 points off Ferrer ranked four, we could see Federer rise to the top three once more. He played liked a top three player here, with fluid groundstrokes off both sides, fantastic volleys and a complete aggressive gameplan. He showed his mettle again, against Berdych. Down a set and a break, with Berdych on fire, Fed staged a comeback and forcefully stole the second set off the Czech before taking control in the third. It was a demonstration of mental toughness. It showed that Fed still has it.
The world number sixteen, his highest ranking, had a very tricky draw. In the quarterfinals he played Gulbis in what was a titanic clash. He edged the very talented Lativian in an epic encounter, turning the momentum in his favour by taking the breaker 7-2. He then claimed the third 7-5 to advance. The pair played an extraordinary amount of quality rallies and this must surely be a top ten clash soon. After that, he had to play Murray and he played so well for long periods of this match that Murray had no answer. He claimed the second in the breaker 7-5 after trailing Murray in that set. Some of the shots he played were wizard-like. The backhand slice worked well and the forehand was excellent. The serve, though, was of a very high standard pretty much throughout.

Here is Gulbis' career in a nutshell. Brilliance, then wackiness followed by destroying a racket:

In a fiery encounter, Almagro was ousted by tricky lefty Delbonis, an Argentinian dirtballer. The 23-year old makes his top 50 debut with this win, in at 44. The lefty played the match exactly as you would expect -- lots of balls to the backhand of Almagro, and he also returned well. He followed it up by going on to win the title, though the withdrawal of Haas may have had something to do with that.

Nadal [1] d. [23] Monfils
Raonic [10] d. [5] Murray
Wawrinka [3] d. [17] Anderson
Federer [7] d. [11] Haas
Gasquet [8] d. [22] Kohlschreiber
Dimitrov [15] d. [4] Berdych
Del Potro [6] d. [9] Tsonga
Djokovic [2] d. [24] Cilic
Nadal [1] d. [10] Raonic
Federer [7] d. [3] Wawrinka
Dimitrov [15] d. [8] Gasquet
Djokovic [2] d. [6] Del Potro
Nadal [1] d. [7] Federer
Djokovic [2] d. [15] Dimitrov
Djokovic [2] d. [1] Nadal

...Yes, I am going out on a limb here. I think Dimitrov is going to have an excellent tournament and Nadal will once more stop Federer. I think Berdych and Murray look most likely to crash and burn.

Li [1] d. [12] Cibulkova
Sharapova [4] d. [5] Kerber
Halep [6] d. [3] Azarenka
Jankovic [7] d. [2] Radwanska
Sharapova [4] d. [1] Li
Halep [6] d. [7] Jankovic
Sharapova [4] d. [6] Halep

...Yeah I know, it doesn't make much sense. I just think that someone has to step up and Vika has been in a cast recently. Really, I just don't know so I apologize for how badly wrong my guesses will go.

In the ladies doubles, I think Hsieh/Peng will beat Hlavackova/ Strycova in the semis. Makarova/ Vesnina will beat Peschke/Srebotnik in the other semi but lose in the final to the new world number ones. There is no men's doubles draw yet, but I pick the Bryans.

Thanks all and visit WTABACKSPIN.

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