Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Wk.5- Shapovalov, umm, Makes His Mark

Hey, all. Galileo here.

This week we had the Davis Cup. And full of drama it was. Before we get started check this out:

Two different commentators, one horrific incident. This kid is 17. He is in front of a home crowd during the Davis Cup. He is down two sets. He loses it and accidentally hits the umpire. You cannot legitimately hate on the kid. If he attacks the umpire, fine. But he has to relieve the stress somehow. So he intends to thwack a ball into the stands, but miscues. It’s all very well making excuses for Kyrgios and not meaning them. But this is a guy who wouldn’t even be in college. Are you going to get annoyed with a high schooler? No. Of course not. Is what he did any worse than this?

We should get on with it. First, we have the clay experts...

MVP: Andreas Seppi, ITA

There was almost a rout in Argentina. The defending champions, who were admittedly missing Del Potro, nearly went down in ugly fashion to upstarts Italy. In the first rubber Lorenzi broke six times on the way to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory. Seppi was next, and he won 6-1, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6[6]. Argentina were looking at a loss on home soil as the defending champions. Luckily they managed to avoid the embarrassment of going out in ‘straight rubbers.’ Berlocq/Mayer clung on, despite letting their opponents come back from the dead, to win 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6[7]. The Italians, Fognini and Bolelli, outhit their opponents in winners by 43-42. From a mundane start this had become something wild, dramatic and entertaining. Despite starting at 11 a.m., the fourth rubber finished past seven, with several long rain delays disrupting the match. Berlocq extended the tie at the expense of Lorenzi, winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 5-6, 6-3. The rallies were long and grueling. And it wasn’t pretty - 156 errors in the match. In a tie that was extended to Monday, Fognini came back from the dead in a fashion similar to Argentina’s. Pella looked good for the first two sets but wilted and watched Italy come back and triumph 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Four and a quarter hours and 190 errors later, the match was over. Italy go on to play...
MVP: Steve Darcis, BEL

There’s always one upset tie. Belgium went into Germany and won, comfortably even. The signs should have been there when Kohl collapsed. The German had so many chances to finish the match, but never quite managed it. Darcis took the rubber 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 7-6[2], 7-6[5]. In the not-quite four hour contest the Belgian won 94 per cent of his second serves. The German won even more - 98 per cent. The German also won more points [10 more] and more games, too. Yet still he lost. Zverev responded, dismissing De Greef 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. But you can’t rely on a teenager, even one as good as the young German is. They run out of steam, like you saw against Nadal. De Loore and Bemelmans outlasted the Zverev brothers 6-3, 7-6[4], 4-6, 4-6, 6-3. In a year where the very existence of this competition is in doubt, the level of competition right now is fantastic. It’s great for the sport and the event. In the doubles match, which contained 100 winners, it felt like the tie would turn on it. It so often does. Zverev looked good, efficient, in the fourth rubber, but slowly faded to a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6[6] loss. Darcis thought he had won on his first match point, at 6-4 in the fourth set breaker. He celebrated the victory, but it was premature. When he failed to win on the next match point things started to look dicey. But he held on for a nervy win. Mischa Zverev lost the final rubber 7-5, 6-1. Belgium go to Italy next. They’ll be wanting Goffin for that one.
MVP: Jordan Thompson, AUS

Australia hosted a Czech team without Berdman. So have fun pronouncing some of these names. No, sorry, that’s their Fed Cup team. Todd how do you spell Hradecka’s partner's name? It might rhyme with Baklava? [Hlavackova, although they've moved on to new partners for the second time in the last few years] Well, anyway, in the opening rubber Jordan Thompson continued his impressive string of results, as he beat Vesely 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. In the two hour contest the Aussie went 36-22 on the winners ratio. And he capitalised on his opponent's 46 errors. ‘Thommo’ is another one of the enormously talented juniors the Aussies have. They’re in for another golden era. And when was the last decade they failed to have a male slam champ? This BACKSPINNER might guess the 1930s or 1940s. Kyrgios beat Satral next and it was quite unusual - he behaved, he didn’t hit many funky shots and he was perfect throughout. He won 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in 90 minutes and broke five times, never losing his own serve. Vesely/Satral won no sets. Groth/Peers dismissed them 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 and they did it quicker than Kyrgios did. Six breaks to one and double their points. The Australians host the Americans next and, boy, what’s the betting it’s on grass, too. The Aussies always do well at home and you have to think they have an excellent shot at the title this year.
MVP: Jack Sock, USA

In the Davis Cup for every close match, every classic, there’s one blowout, one truly abysmal match. It can be a gap in quality or players having a bad day. Switzerland’s problem is they won the DC in 2014. Now neither of their two best players have any interest. Anyway, Sock opened with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 drubbing of Chuidinelli. It was an ugly match. In the next rubber, Isner lost a set to Bossel and actually struggled for parts of the match. He still won 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6[1]. 28 aces for Isner and four breaks in the two and three quarter hour long contest. Johnson/Sock put the Swiss out of their misery 7-6[3], 6-3, 7-6[4]. Bossel/Laaksonen really were no match. The Aussies split the dead rubbers. The Yanks didn’t even have the good grace to do that. The America versus Australia match coming up is going to be a crackerjack. If Kyrgios turns up and they win the doubles, it could come down to Isner turning up consistently. Oh boy.
MVP: Richard Gasquet, FRA

With no Nishikori another blowout was on the cards. France could have played their third string team here. Benneteau, Roger-Vasselin and Llodra could have won this. Heck, Leconte — no, even better, bring Philipe Chatrier back from the dead. The French did not spend six hours on court. You’d have to include the dead rubbers, where they went 1-1, to get to six hours play time. Gasquet opened with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 win over Daniel. 23 winners to four. Fifteen break points. The fact the Japanese denied him on eight of those chances is quite extraordinary. In the next round, Simon wasn’t much kinder. He won 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 against Yoshihita Nishioka. And, hey, 34-14 on the winners count is almost close. Japan were being humiliated at home. Herbert/Mahut never left third gear in their dismissal of Sugita/Uchiama. This is why the Davis Cup is dying. No big players are playing. Not anymore. They host Britain next. Heavy clay must be the surface.
MVP: Philipp Kohlschreiber, GER

Without Raonic, and with their two top fifty players, Britain would surely stroll to victory. Nope. Talented junior Shapovalov stood in their way. In the first rubber, the 200 place gap in rankings showed as Evans dismissed the youngster 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. No problems, no issues and not even one loss of serve. But then in comes Pospisil and he showed Britain strength on serve in the two hour contest. He won 6-4, 6-1, 7-6[3] against Kyle Edmund.. He blasted 20 aces and won about 90 per cent of service points. Inglot/Murray then outlasted Nestor/Pospisil 7-6[1], 6-7[3], 7-6[3], 6-3 in over three hours to give the Brits a vital advantage. Pospisil again came up big on serve. He beat Evans 7-6[3], 6-4, 3-6, 7-6[5]. Pospisil served 152 times. 25 were aces. 25 times he lost the point. Canada were kept in this tie purely because this kid served lights out. Sadly, well, you know what happened. But what a tie it turned out to be. It’s a shame we never got to see that one played out. But Britain move on to France.
MVP: Viktor Troicki, SRB

Karen Khachanov’s future is beyond bright, it is dazzling. But the future is not now...it’s now. That sentence is in the past and, hey, so is this one. But with every sentence that passes that Russian kid gets better and better. He was a point away from beating Troicki but lost 6-4, 6-7[2], 6-3, 1-6,7-6[6]. In the four and a half hour contest, Khachenov won 201 points, 27 of them aces, winning one more than his opponent. Djokovic looked in trouble but still won 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 1-0 against Medvedev. The youngster retired with cramps after having Nole on the ropes. This really looks like the end for the former number one. He went 21-37 on the winners ratio. That’s really poor. Troicki/Zimonjic were on hand to put the finishing touches on the match. They won 6-3, 7-6[3], 6-7[5], 6-4. Now Serbia host Spain. Who else is hoping for Novak versus Rafa?
MVP: Roberta Bautista Agut, ESP

So, is this an upset? Carreno Busta lost the opening rubber to Skugor 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6[6]. Both men hit 50 winners in a nervy match. It was filled with lengthy rallies with neither able to establish dominance. Bautista Agut was having none of it - he beat Pavic 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Draganja/Metkic proved to be surprisingly good in the doubles. They beat the Lopez’s 6-7[6], 7-6[7], 7-6[5], 2-6, 6-4. 11 breaks and 150 errors tell the story of this one. This whole tie looks good on paper, but the quality was lacking. Again RBA rescued his home country. This time he put Skugor to the sword 6-1, 6-7[4], 6-3, 7-6[6]. He just keeps going, keeps chugging away. He is so dependable and in Davis Cup sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Busta needed only two and a quarter hours to see off Metkiv 7-6[4], 6-1, 6-4 and with it the tie.

Right, next week’s tournaments. In the Open Sud De France, Gasquet won last year despite being injured and out of form. This year he gets past top seed Cilic in one semi-final before seeing off Tsonga in the final. In the other semi, Tsonga will edge [A] Zverev.

In Sofia, Dimitrov rides the home crowd, to victories over top seeded Thiem and fourth seed Bautista Agut. The Spaniard will beat Goffin in the bottom half bracket. It isn’t an upset.

In Ecuador, Estrella Burgos makes it three finals in a row as he gets past Giraldo in the top half. Ramos-Vinolas will beat third seed Lorenzi, but surely Burgos will win this title for a third year on the trot.

Going 1-1 in singles in St. Petersburg is fine for Dasha. She beat a player who could not legally buy a beer three months ago, Anna Kalinskaya, 6-4, 7-5. Then Sveta smacked her 6-1, 6-3, but she did at least make the doubles semi-final with Mladenovic. They lost to third seeds Jurak/Knoll 6-3, 6-4.

Eugenie Bouchard agreed to go on a date. She wagered that if Brady came back she would go out with one of her Twitter followers. And, of course, the predictable happened.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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