Tuesday, January 24, 2017

AO Day 8: Welcome to Newport, Andy & Kim

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, folks. Yes, the person in the back who said that last time, you're correct. Though it DOES seem as though they were playing yesterday. Both made number one, both won the U.S. Open and both should have achieved more. So this summer we will have cause to celebrate.

Oh, in case you didn't know... Petrova, Gajdasova/Groth/Wolfe and Schiavone all recently announced their retirement. The Italian will play out the season. The others are now gone.

Before we get to the singles, a look at the doubles draw and then a check in with our favourite Aussie.

Herbert/Mahut and Kontinen/Peers seem destined to meet in the semifinals. The Frenchies play Polmans/Whittington while Groth and Guccione take on the fourth seeds. The Bryans are the only dangerous pair left and loom as potential opponents in the final.

Real-life couple Dasha Gavrilova and Luke Saville, a former Wimbledon boy's singles champion, lost tamely in mixed doubles to sixth seeded Chan/Kubot 6-3, 7-5. Dasha ran out of steam in the singles, going down to Pliskova 6-3, 6-3. Pliskova hit 27 winners in a 72-minute contest. She also broke five times. This has heen a superb breakout tournament for the Australian. But when do we see her next? She may, at a guess, appear in St. Petersburg next week. But it is more likely we see her in the Fed Cup or in Qatar.

Right, on with the show.

...Some matches are just destined to be night matches. It took Rafa three hours to win 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. He dominated the first two sets and looked to be on his way. But a surprise break in the third saw Monfils cruise to the set and then take a 4-2 lead in the fourth. Predictably, however, the Frenchman collapsed. From nowhere his game disintegrated and he even blew a 30/0 lead serving at 4-5. Monfils' serve out wide saved him several times. He hit 15 aces. But you can't hit 64 errors and expect to beat Rafa. Still, this match had some of the best rallies of the tournament. Monfils won a 32-shot rally with a dropshot-lob combo. A good tournament from Gael, he can definitely take positives from the matches he has played here. Nadal goes on to face Raonic for a spot in the semis. Look for the Canuck to win in four.
...A minor upset and another chapter on Thiem's rivalry with Goffin. The Austrian won in four at Roland Garros, getting revenge for a four set loss in Melbourne. All of the matches are watchable, especially with the lovely clash of styles. Again the Belgian won, moving to 4-3. He won going away 5-7, 7-6[4] 6-2, 6-2. Despite hitting 15 aces he only hit 38 total winners. But going 38-29 is better than going 45-58. In his second career quarterfinal he will play Dimitrov. That will be a big ask. He will have to be a wall and see if Dimitrov will miss. It does look like a faint chance, but Dimitrov is absolutely rolling right how.
...Interesting how the court assignments work - what was Raonic doing on Hisense while this was going on? As the third seed he should have been on Laver. Anyway, this looked like an upset in the making after Istomin took the first 6-2. But the underdog wilted and collapsed to a 2-6, 7-6[4], 6-2, 6-1 victory. Dimitrov began to take control in the second, slowly taking apart the tired Uzbeki. Dimitrov is playing at such a high level it is impossible to live with him for long at all. Istomin hit double the Bulgarian's seven aces, but also hit nearly 40 errors. The 15th seed hit nearly 40 winners. Istomin has had a wonderful run here. But Dimi just finds a way. And he should win that semi with Goffin.
...There's always a dud in these Fourth round clashes. Except this year. Even the Hisense match feathering Agut and Raonic was a good one. The Spaniard always makes the fourth round at slam level, but can't get over the hump. 33 aces and 75 total winners. The Canuck won 7-6[6], 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in some three hours. But he is through to face Rafa now.

Meanwhile, remember this?

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