Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Wk.9- But First, a Game of ATP Empires Featuring the Capriati Scale

Hey, all. Galileo here.

The Roman empire crumbled eventually. Before it, so did the Greek and Egyptian empires. The Ottoman empire mysteriously disappeared. Even the British Empire, upon which the sun famously never set, eventually came to an end, though the Commonwealth Games remain a reminder of what was.

All things must come to an end, except Serena Williams winning slams. Graf, Navratilova and Evert won, at an estimate, 70 per cent of slams from 1975-1995. Two decades of dominance.

Australian men from 1960-1975 were dominant, winning the majority of slams. American men in the 1990’s won 21 of 40. If you take out the French Open, they won 18 of 30 slams, or 3/5. Since 2003, Fedalovic have won 44 slams. There have been 57 slams. Wawrinka and Murray have taken three. Seven slams. Seven in that period have gone to someone else. Cilic and Del Potro were five years apart. The last one before Del Potro was in 2005 - Safin.

But cracks have started to show. So let’s play a little BACKSPIN game. Using the Capriati scale, how much trouble are each of the top four in?

After a poor loss to Istomin, which you can make some excuses for, Djokovic had to show something in Acapulco. He didn’t perform at all well. He had a tough draw, but he has won 12 slams and been the world’s best hardcourt player since 2010. He struggled past Cilic and Del Potro before losing to Kyrgios. His record on the year is 9-2, with no titles. Sounds all right, doesn’t it? Last year at this time her was 14-1, with two titles. That one loss was a retirement, too. In 2015, it was 13-2 with two titles. He is playing poorly right now. He has a huge amount of points to defend and he doesn’t even look top five.

The Capriati verdict: Mugshot Jenny

Well, the loss to Zverev was one of the worst in his career. He lost to a predictable gameplan with the best passing shot and lob combination in the world. His big return couldn’t break down the German’s serve. He came into Dubai with a point to prove and he was totally ordinary. Even the final wasn’t great. Verdasco really blew it. But Murray has shown an uptick. He is starting to find form again, but it isn’t looking pretty.

The Capriati verdict: 2000 Jenny [Not pretty but recovering her career]

He just won a slam after being written off. He was supposed to lose to Murray in the quarterfinal. Instead he came back and beat Nadal, the one man he never could beat, in the final. But in Dubai he lost to Donskoy after having all those match points and such a big lead in the final set breaker. Yet, it just doesn’t matter. Four years after being written off Federer has his slam and will win three or four titles this year.

The Capriati verdict: 2002 Jenny [somehow relevant again after looking done eight years before]

A final in Australia followed by a final in Acapulco. It doesn’t matter at this point what happens. What a swan-song this is.

The Capriati Verdict: 2004 Jenny [Ending on a high]

After that slightly longer feature, let’s press on...

* – Mischa Zverev falls two places to 32.
* – In bigger news, David Ferrer is down three places to 31. The end is nigh for the Spaniard. He turns 35 next month.
* – Despite his brilliant effort, Kohl moves down one place to 30. Verdasco is up six to 29.
* – Goffin and Monfils swap, with the Frenchman in at 11. Federer sits at ten.
* – Thiem falls off a bit, but stays at 9. Cilic moves up one, above Tsonga into 7th. He leads by 10 points.
* – No change in the top six. Murray, Djokovic, Wawrinka, Raonic, Nishikori and Nadal. The number one ranking is safe. Wawrinka’s 115 point lead over Raonic is tenuous, however.

DUBAI, UAE (Hard Court)
S: Andy Murray def. Fernando Verdasco 6-3/6-2
D: Rojer/Tecau d. Bopanna/Matkowski

S: Sam Querrey def. Rafael Nadal 6-3/7-6(3)
D: J.Murray/Soares d. Isner/F.Lopez

RIO, BRAZIL (Red Clay)
S: Pablo Cuevas def. Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-7(3)/6-4/6-4
D: Dutra Silva/Sa d. Daniell/Demoliner

...It is simply a prediction, since Sunday's final in Rio was continued to Monday due to rain and hasn't finished as I write this. [Ed.note: as it turned out...]

Cuevas should win this event for the third time in a row. But since we have no clue here, let’s have some story time. Once up a time this BACKSPINNER was in his tennis club-house watching Rome. The tennis tournament, not the beautiful city. And the day’s play was badly rain interrupted. So what did this SPINNER do? Why he watched their epic four hour replay of the Coria/Gaudio French final. And what a match it was, too. A player like Coria could not exist today. A player like Gaudio would not crack the top 40. That era has passed, has moved on. In fact, it is almost an insult to all those, like Ferrer and Soderling, who deserved a slam, that he won one. But watching that match, the replay of that match, was an incredible memory. So whenever we have rained out play this BACKSPINNER thinks of that match. What do you think of when you think about play being washed out? [Ed.note: the Connors/Krickstein Labor Day match from '91 being replayed for twenty+ years during rain delays at the U.S. Open... another thing which has gone the way of the dinosaurs, since with the Ashe Stadium roof there is ALWAYS a live match to show now. - tds]
...Murray doesn’t deserve to be Player of the Week. He wasn’t good - he just wasn’t as bad as everyone else. The reason he is number one is because there was nobody else to do it and it is the same in the Dubai tournament. He is winning these titles because he is less rubbish than everyone else. When somebody like Zverev actually plays inspired tennis, he has no answer. But he did at least respond. Dourly, sourly and angrily he responded.

His performances this year have made this BACKSPINNER yearn for the days of classy world number ones, world number ones who breezed through tournaments and didn’t save match points on flukey drop shots. Edberg, Wilander and Lendl. Anyway, Murray did win this week. It is the first time he has won this 500 level tournament, too. This SPINNER should not be so harsh on our world number one, however. He had a tricky time in Dubai but finally managed to win the title, improving his record to 1-1 in finals at the event. His 4 and 1 win over Jaziri and 2 and 0 victory over Garcia-Lopez were a very good start. Just like in Australia. But he fell to bits against a German. Just like in Australia. This time, however, he survived. He edged Kohl 6-7[4], 7-6[18], 6-1. From there he just gained galleons of confidence. He knocked out Pouille 7-5, 6-1. In the final, he was poor again. He hit three doubles in his first two games and had Verdasco managed to find any consistency it might have been a different result. But the Spaniard never found a way to counter the Scot’s return, losing 6-3, 6-2. If you haven’t seen the final don’t bother.
...It is a career high, albeit of 271, for South Korea’s Soon-Woo. If you haven’t heard of him, don’t worry. Here he is.

He has great touch and a wicked out-wide serve. And just last week he got to a final on the challenger circuit. The result boosted his ranking up 70 places. Taking place in the Keio challenger, Yokohama, his beat Andrew Whittington and Tatsuma Ito to make the finals. Going up against Yuichi Sugita, the top seed, he put in a great effort but eventually went down 6-4, 2-6, 7-6[2]. Up 5-2, this is a loss that will sting.

But we like to keep you on your toes, keep you up to date with the rising stars, and the young Korean is one of those.
...This vet met another to open up his Dubai campaign. He saw off Seppi 6-2, 7-2. But then he claimed his first upset: a gritty 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory over Bautista Agut. Having done away with the 6th seed, he then dismantled Monfils, seeded 4th, 6-3, 7-5. Now, Verdasco is one of the most frustrating players on tour for a very good reason. Namely, the fact he beats good players but does terribly against players he should smack. He escaped Haase 7-6[5], 5-7, 6-1 in the semi-finals. That was quite an effort and it gave him his first hard-court final ever at 500 level. Put aside the horrendous final, again don’t bother watching it, and just focus on how good it is to see the Spaniard playing well.
...He has risen 14 places to 26 in the world. He has had a series of great moments in what seems like his late career. He beat Djokovic in Paris a few years back after losing the first set 6-0. He saw off the Serb again at Wimbledon, obviously. And now he has won his maiden 500 title. Here’s a great fact for you: 9-7. That’s Querrey’s mark in finals on the ATP tour. 1-3. That is how he’s done in 500 level tournaments.

...The Australian Open semi-final is becoming a fixture, with Wawrinka now 1-2 in those matches. But while that’s impressive he has to also impress outside of Melbourne. He has to defend his titles, especially at 500 level. Wawrinka is the most mystifying player this side of the WTA tour. He’d be considered par-for-the-course over there - three slams but zero consistency on the tour. That’s not an attack on the WTA, far from it. Until you’ve watched over a decade of Svetlana effing Kuznetsova you have no idea of true pain, true inconsistency. And she’s just the tip of the iceberg. Petra Kvitova, anyone? Anyway, Wawrinka could have been a world number one but he is in the wrong era and he loses to players like Dzumhur. He needs to work on it. He is better than this. But don’t worry - this BACKSPINNER already has ideas about what he’ll write come his inevitable victory at Wimbledon this year.

...The biggest upset in the 25 year history of Dubai. Donskoy has history - in Indian Wells in 2013 he pushed Murray all the way in a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 loss. He had the Scot for a while before he was finally overwhelmed. He managed to survive the lights going off and came back from 5-2 down against the greatest player ever. He won less points [six] and less games but still came through. Of course, the Federer curse struck in the next round, but this will give him confidence.

Notes from the Week...
1 – Nick Kyrgios had a touching moment on social media this week
2 – The last man before Kyrgios to see off Federer, Nadal and Djokovic in their first meeting? Lleyton Hewitt.
3 – In Indian Wells, Djokovic is going for his fourth in a row, Nadal his fourth title and Federer number five. Since 2004, only one man has broken their grip on this event - Ivan Ljubicic in 2010.

1. Dubai R2 – Donskoy d. Federer 3-6, 7-6, (7), 7-6 (5)
...Federer led 5-1 in the third set breaker, but lost six points in a row to lose the match. He had a fistful of match points. He was totally in charge. He had just beaten Paire 1 and 3. Then the world number 116, a qualifier, came out and beat him. The lights broke, Federer blew a 5-2 final set and went from a 48-5 record here to 48-6. This was an extraordinary match.

2. Dubai QF – Murray d. Kohlschreiber 6-7[4], 7-6[18], 6-1
...Just watch this:

That breaker is reminiscent of the Federer/Safin one in the Masters up in the early 2000’s. That was a classic breaker. This was also extraordinary. What a match. That tiebreaker was 31 minutes long, sixty seconds more than the last set. This BACKSPINNER believes that if Murray loses that match his career would be over. Done. This could be just the boost he needs.
3. Acapulco F – Querrey d. Nadal 6-3, 7-6[4]
...In four attempts Querrey has never beaten Nadal. To do it in a final and win in a tournament that had five top ten players is something else. A set and a break up, it took the American a while but he finally got over the hump to earn the win.

Our girl turned 23 on the weekend. As she noted on Twitter, she shares a birthday with Nicole Pratt.

This tweet was pretty cool from Dasha:

She will be the 23rd seed in Indian Wells, though ranked 27th. There aren’t many points for her to defend, just ten, so if she can upset two seeds in a row the top twenty could beckon. This March will present big opportunities for her.

P.S- Expect a proper draw analysis later on.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

Read more!


Post a Comment

<< Home