Monday, February 13, 2017

Wk.6- The Terrific Tales of Grigor the Great and the Dominating Dominican

Hey, all. Galileo here.

What do we say about February? It really is the LaToya Jackson month of the season. One or two good moments, but mostly it is utterly forgettable. Most of this month is dry and stuck in a bad place. Just after Australia and before the March double bill. Apart from a couple of 500 tournaments, we spend most of the time praying for March. We also wonder how Dubai always gets so many top calibre players. This year it has Wawrinka, Federer and Murray. 24 slams right there.

That’s a pretty good stat, incidentally; combined, Wawrinka and Murray have a third of Federer’s slams.

At least we have a few good storylines coming up. Estrella Burgos won his third on the trot in Quito. No other player has won three titles in one place but has failed to win a title anywhere else. It is such a great Cinderella story, that a man like the Dominican can have a career starting so late. He was well into his 30s when he began to win and he has stayed relevant the last four years.

This is it, this is the moment.

His career started then. And what a celebration it was. He knew then, he knew that it was the start of something. He has since been around the world. We have talked before on BACKSPIN, around this time of year, about the average wage of the Dominican. It adds another dimension to just how beautiful this success story is.

More on Burgos in a minute, lot’s more. But let’s talk about the ATP’s best. Dimitrov is 14-1 on the year. This guy is playing out of his skin good. His serve is a cannon, his forehand is a vicious, spitting weapon and his backhand is one of the best defensive shots on tour. He moves dynamically and can transition from defence to offence beautifully.

His match against Gasquet in Australia was where it really showed. The Frenchman played fine, but barely got ten games and was utterly routed. Dimitrov would have lost that match last year. This year he ripped him apart.

And now he has a title at home. He lost one set this whole tournament, to Janowicz. This year he has barely lost sets, let alone matches.

* – Kohlschreiber drops five places to 33. Tomic is sitting in at 32, having been in a slump. Querrey, Johnson and Feli round out spots 29-31.
* – Dimitrov being ranked 12 is madness. He was 13th last week. He has few points to defend, so expect him to be in the top ten soon. Goffin holds at 11, Monfils falls to 10.
* – Cilic leads Thiem by 65. They are 7 and 8, ahead of Federer at 9.
* – No change in the top five. Muray, Djokovic, Wawrinka, Raonic and Nishikori. The number one ranking is safe.

Now, it’s time to look at the tournaments we had this week...

S: Alexander Zverev def. Richard Gasquet 7-6(4)/6-3
D: Zverev/Zverev d. F.Martin/Nestor

S: Grigor Dimitrov def. David Goffin 7-5/6-4
D: Troicki/Zimonjic d. Elgin/Kuznetsov

S: Victor Estrella Burgos def. Paulo Lorenzi 6-7(2)/7-5/7-6(6)
D: Cerretani/Oswald d. Peralta/H.Zeballos

...Why don’t we expect this by now? Burgos is now 15-0 in the Ecuadorian capital city. He has not lost there and he has still has years left on the tour. Couldn’t you see it now? Five titles in Quito, none anywhere else. He just plays perfectly at this tournament. He always does. He always seems able to find his forehand, always seems to have time. He gets every bounce of the ball, every single thing goes for him. He even wins the majority of breakers here, and he plays a lot of them. The first time it was a shock, the second time it was a surprise and now it is expected. This BACKSPINNER thought he would do well, but wasn’t sure how well. He has risen 63 places to 93. He is six places behind Youzhny but one ahead of Tipsarevic. It is the place where forgotten players end up, mixed in with up-and-comers. This year he avoided losing in his first match, edging Martin 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Then came an epic against the big serving Karlovic. And he took it in three epic breakers. It was only two hours and 11 minutes, which is surprisingly short for a clay court match like this. Karlovic won the aces battle by 39-3. Three match points saved. What a match. Italian qualifier Gaio didn’t put up much resistance, losing 6-4, 6-4. A dull match by the Dominican’s standards. Bellucci was up next. Both men broke twice in the 7-6[3], 7-6[4] decision. The Brazilian, who Burgos beat last year in the final, couldn’t quite drag it out into a third. And, of course, like the last two years, he won in a three set final. This time it was another Italian - Lorenzi. Burgos dominating here in Quito is unusual. This isn’t Nadal not dropping sets at Roland Garros. This is just him always finding a way to win no matter what. His record here is quite extraordinary. And we’ll be here again next year.
...Have you ever had a delay on a train or a bus? This BACKSPINNER has sat in Hartford’s gorgeous bus station waiting an extra half an hour for a connection through to Springfield. How about a train delay? Over here in England it is a shock if the train is on time. Or airport delays. We’ve all been in Dallas/Fort Worth waiting for a plane. This BACKSPINNER has watched a football game in that airport. It was the Chiefs losing at New England in the 2015-16 playoffs. Dimitrov is that plane. We’ve waited. Since he beat Djokovic at Madrid in three epic sets we have expected it. When he spanked Murray at Wimbledon we thought that was the next step. Sure, we can talk about this week. How he only lost one set and gave Goffin a lesson in the final. But this is the regular. He’s going to do this again and again throughout 2017. You don’t start 14-1 with a grand slam semi-final and end up having a rubbish year unless you get injured. Still, lifting the trophy...


A post shared by Grigor Dimitrov (@grigordimitrov) on

in one’s hometown is special. Imagine if Mauresmo or Gasquet had ever won Paris. Or think about the look when the Russian women win Moscow. It’s important. This year Dimitrov is going to make another slam semi-final and win two more titles, at least. But winning in front of your people? That’s big, that’s amazing. Every sports person should experience that at one point or another. So when we conclude the year and look back, the Bulgarian will almost certainly have secured this spot. He has risen and it really does feel like we are done waiting. Of course, you never know - we’re still waiting for Monfils.
...Doesn’t James Cerretani just sound like a ‘masshole’? One of those Massachusetts politicians, whose signs you see all over town. Well, he has won his fourth ever doubles title. Six years after his last one, the 35 year old has won another. He and Oswald won, via a retirement. The American is in the top 100 in doubles. He lost in the first round of the Australian Open this year but has been to back-to-back Wimbledon quarterfinals. He and Oswald drew the top seeds, Marrero/Gonzalez, in round one. That’s a great team, particularly on clay. But they beat the best team in the draw 6-4, 7-5. Then they beat Giannessi/Lorenzi 4-6, 6-1, 1-0[10-8]. In the semi-finals, they saw off third seeds Monroe/Sitak 6-3, 5-7, 1-0 [10-3]. To complete the hat-trick they beat the top seeds 6-3, 2-1 retired. Peralta/Zeballos were unable to continue when Zeballos’ neck injury became too much. It is not often you get to your first final in six years and then see off the top three seeds to win the title. So props to the American. Can he ride the momentum and win some more titles this year?
...The Frenchman is now 30. This week he made another quarterfinal. He beat 7th seed Granollers 6-0, 3-6, 6-3. He saw off Mathieu 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. Then he tested Zverev but ultimately fell 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. The Frenchman has cracked the world’s top 25. He has made the fourth round at every slam. He has a slam quarterfinal, too. He turned 30 yesterday, on Sunday. He is now old. But looking at his career, with his title and great slam record, it makes you realize that so many tennis players have a very good career but somehow go unrecognised. He has a great forehand and does produce superb results. It’s another impressive player France have produced. Boy do they have tremendous strength in depth.
...Nobody is in more need of a nickname than the Georgian. Nikoloz -- Niko for short let’s say -- has defeated Feliciano Lopez at Wimbledon. He has big wins under his belt. He beat Mannarino 7-6[7], 7-6[3] to open his account in Sofia. Then an upset - he saw off Thiem 6-4, 6-4. Thiem always schedules badly, but it was still an excellent result. Klizan bageled Niko but faded badly and lost 0-6, 6-3, 6-3. Of course, it was always going to have to end at some point - and Dimitrov spanked him 6-1, 6-3. But a good run for the new world number 67. It’s his highest ever ranking.
...”Does he ever change? It's not just the losses, it is the way they happen and to whom.” Those words were written on this blog in January. Cilic lost 6-4, 6-4 to Brown. Dustin Brown was injured and retired in the next match. So Cilic lost to a player who was hurt and who he massively outranks. Cilic is the worst top ten player of the last decade, bar none. Slam or no slam when he finally falls out of the top ten it will be a happy day for all tennis fans. He is not even top twenty. He is truly abysmal as a tennis player. He can’t even beat an injured player out of the top 50. Enough is enough. This is now permanently reserved for Cilic until he makes a quarterfinal or, at a Masters, a fourth round.
...Props to Paire here. Every now and then he pops up and just makes a run. Last week he edged Lopez 6-4, 7-6[5]. It was not a huge upset, but big enough to be noteworthy. Paire is still one to watch, always. Of course it usually comes to an end fairly quickly. Indeed, Gasquet put Paire to the sword and won 6-2, 6-2.

Notes from the Week...
1 – Tommy Robredo is playing in Argentina. Yes, that one. He opens with Fognini. He could play Estrella Burgos in the next round. Their combined age would be 70. Robredo has won this before. Surely he couldn’t put together a run?
2 – We’ll say it once again; Dimitrov is 14-1 on the season. Just think about that for a second.
3 – When will the Fed Cup change its format? It needs to go. It has to incorporate doubles more.

1. Quito Final – Estrella Burgos d. Lorenzi 6-7[2], 7-5, 7-6[7]
...This BACKSPINNER erred. He was watching this match but, at a set and 3-1, it felt over. Burgos was fading, Lorenzi was in the ascendancy. In the opening set, Burgos had just had so much time on the ball. Now he didn’t. So he stopped watching and did other things. Mistake. Burgos came back, forced a third and then won another final in a third set beaker. He even saved a match point down 5-6 in the breaker. He won the last three points of the match to win his third career title. He’s 3-0 in final, all of which came here in Quito.
2. Sofia SF – Goffin d. Bautista Agut 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(3)
...It took three hours and the Belgian had to come back from 1-3 down in the third, but Goffin earned his place in the final. When he won his opponent in the final, Dimitrov, said “David’s looking for revenge.” This was a battle of backhands, especially crosscourt. Neither man was impressive on the second serve, with Goffin’s 43% five percent higher than his opponents. Serve-volleying is no more. This baseline battle is here to stay.
3. Montpellier Final – A.Zverev d. Gasquet 7-6[4], 6-3
...Gasquet escaped at the Hopman Cup, but not here. The German was too physical, too strong. He won the backhand battle, and found a way to get through the Frenchman’s defence. The home crowd was vocal, but the German was far too good. Zverev took control after winning a tight first set. He’s on his way to number one.

4. Quito 2nd Rd. - Estrella Burgos d. Karlovic 6-7[7], 7-6[5], 7-6[8].
...Burgos does it again. He loves his tiebreakers. Not a single break point was had by either. The Dominican loves playing breakers here in Quito. And Karlovic is no stranger to them himself.
5. Sofia QF - Basilashvili d. Klizan 0-6, 6-3, 6-3
...The Georgian won a funny match. Klizan’s inconsistency did him in. It was a bizarre match. 12 games each, but sometimes it’s just how the games fall.

Berdych [4] d. [1] Cilic
Dimitrov [3] d. [2] Thiem
Dimitrov [3] d. [4] Berdych

...Dimitrov is the best player in the world right now. Only against Federer on grass right now would he lose. This BACKSPINNER would pick him to win against anyone. He has lost once all year. To Nadal, and we all know what it took to do it. Cilic is utterly unreliable and Berdman can be expected to do something here. And Thiem is too good not to make the semi-final.

Nishikori [1] d. [3] Ferrer
Cuevas [2] d. [4] Busta
Nishikori [1] d. [2] Cuevas

...The four-time defending champion is not going for a fifth in Memphis. Bizarre. He’ll still be fine. Spaniards always do well here and Cuevas can ride the ‘home crowd’. Nishikori will have too much, even on clay, for the Uruguayan.

Tomic [5] d. [1] Karlovic
Isner [2] d. [3] Querrey
Isner [2] d [5] Tomic

...Isner on American soil is a different story than regular Isner, don’t forget. If Tomic can motivate himself he might get quite far. Karlovic and Querrey have those huge serves which really come in handy.

At least Gavrilova was consistent. In a Fed Cup World Group II clash against an absurdly talented Ukraine team, she faltered. She lost to Tsurenko 6-2, 6-3. She then lost to Svitolina 6-3, 6-2 to give Ukraine the tie 3-0. She is not appearing in Qatar, but may well do in Dubai. So we have a week to mull over her poor Fed Cup performance.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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