Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Wk.16- Nasty

Hey, all. Galileo here.

This BACKSPINNER was all set to talk about Maria Sharapova. Did you know she’s returning? She opens against Roberta Vinci. She has Cibulkova and Radwanska in her section. This BACKSPINNER expects her to make the semi-finals. But from there all I can is that she won’t win.

And, boy, is that Svetlana Kuznetsova versus Karolina Pliskova quarterfinal matchup, if it happens, enticing.

But, frustratingly, this BACKSPINNER cannot. Because over the weekend something foul occurred.

Before the rant begins, I’d like to point out how much women’s tennis means to me. And why I am so personally insulted by Ilie Nastase’s comments. To highlight my love of women’s tennis I thought I’d write a list of 20 great matches in the tennis world that we have had this decade. No order, no scores looked up. No research. The first that come to mind.

Federer d. Murray - 2012 Wimbledon Final
Stosur d. Dementieva - 2010 US Open QF
Azarenka d. Stosur - 2012 US Open QF
Serena Williams d. Kuznetsova - 2013 RG QF
Djokovic d. Nadal - 2011 Miami Final (In a third set breaker. It was superb.)
Rosol d. Nadal - 2012 Wimbledon R2
Tomic d. Dolgopolov - 2012 Australian Open R3
Soderling d. Federer - 2010 Roland Garros QF
Clijsters d. Henin - 2010 Brisbane Final
Sharapova d. Li Na - 2012 Rome Final
Youzhny d. Gasquet - 2010 Australian Open R1
Gasquet d. Wawrinka - 2015 Wimbledon QF
McHale d. Wozniacki - 2011 Cincinnati R2
Serena d. Kvitova - Wimbledon. (Several times. 2010 in particular, SF
Djokovic d. Murray - 2012 Shanghai Final
Ka.Pliskova d. Williams - 2016 US Open SF
Wawrinka d. Djokovic - 2014 Australian Open QF
Wawrinka d. Djokovic - 2015 Roland Garros Final
Djokovic d. Wawrinka - 2013 Australian Open 4R
Keys d. Muguruza - 2016 Rome SF

You can see that I am slam obsessed. But also that I watch all kinds of tennis. All tennis fans should watch a wide array of styles. You do not have to like them all so long as you appreciate them.

In no other sport is the men and women’s game this equal. This BACKSPINNER could not name a single WNBA team, though he does know how good the UConn team is. He could not name a female golfer or soccer player. But, then, soccer isn’t my sport. Only swimming and tennis offer equality. But when you think of swimmers you think of Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps. You probably think about Katie Ledecky, who is insane. You possibly might think about Dawn Fraser, an Australian legend. Sadly, even swimming favours the men.

Tennis is the only sport that is truly equal. There is no, and nor will there ever be, a place for sexism. Since 1973, when Billie Jean King and her disciples set up the WTA, equality has grown and grown. Our sport, though frequently criticised for being archaic, is one of the few with actual equality. There are still golf courses that don’t allow women in.

It is shocking that a former number one, who has given so much to this sport, has been openly sexist and racist. He has abused women and shouted at reporters. He has ruined what should have been a friendly tie. Of course, it is a competition. But at the same time there’s a kind of camaraderie about the Fed Cup. And he has ruined that with his behaviour. It just...makes me SO ANGRY.

I thought I was on "Punk’d" or something when I read it. My first reaction was no way. Matches have been stopped for rain, for snow, for heat and for injury. I watched Venus Williams retire against Barbora Strycova in 2011 in Australia. But this, this is beyond stupid. They had to stop the match because KONTA WAS BLOODY CRYING. SHE WAS IN TEARS. ACTUAL TEARS. SHE COULDN’T CONTINUE. Because of what a former number one said to her. It’s cruel.

It is not enough to simply denounce this behaviour. No, this is the kind of behaviour you attack. Nick Kyrgios swearing at umpires is one thing. But this is disgusting. It overshadows, darkens and dirties Nadal’s umpteenth Monte Carlo title and Belarus’ first Fed Cup final. It blacks out Maria Sharapova starting her third career. It is disgusting. And if it doesn’t make you upset and angry, I am disappointed in you. Because it should.

Look, enough. Let’s please talk about the ATP. And leave the crusty old man alone. And send out well-wishes to Jo Konta. If tennis could only get out of its own way it could be the best sport in the world.

S: Rafael Nadal def. Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1/6-3
D: Bopanna/Cuevas d. F.Lopez/M.Lopez

...Nadal is the first man ever to win 10 titles at the same event. Nadal’s 50th clay court title finally sees him eclipse Guillermo Vilas’ previous record of 49. In 2013, Novak Djokovic beat him in a final, breaking his eight straight years of titling streak. The last two years he has won it, and handily. This event belongs to Nadal the same way Oregon belongs to the Democrats. In 2003 he beat reigning French Open champ Albert Costa as a 16-year old qualifier. Guillermo Coria beat im in the third round.

He lost to Djokovic in ‘13 and ‘15, and Ferrer in ’14. His 63-4 mark at Monte Carlo is a 94% win mark. At Rome he has a win rate of 91%. It is only 85% in Madrid. At the French it is 97 %. This guy, on this surface, is inhuman. And not in the way Ilie Nastase is. Yes, I’m still fuming, still seething about his behaviour. Anyway, Rafa doesn’t just win here, he tends to break the will of his opponents, then their game. He grinds them into the dust. It’s really quite impressive. It was an unusual first match for the former number one - he edged Edmund 6-0, 5-7, 6-3. But he was back on form in the next round, battering Zverev to a pulp. Do you know what it takes to win a point against him on this surface?

He had to scrap against Diego Schwartzman in the quarters, but came through 6-4, 6-4. That was a real battle. The Argentine won four games on the bounce in the second set, but when Rafa returned the favour that was the match, done and dusted. Oh, there was this too:

Yes, you’re right. The ATP have made that shot illegal. After that the going was easy. He dominated David Goffin 6-3, 6-1 and blew Albert Ramos-Vinolas away in the final, 6-1, 6-3. When Rafa really catches fire, especially on clay and especially here, you may as well pack your bags.

...This is turning into a breakout season for the young Spaniard. 7 quarterfinals, four semi-finals, two finals and a partridge in a pear tree. But a title eludes the Spaniard so far this year. He beat Verdasco in the Bastad final last July, but apart from that he has gone 0-4 in finals. And not all of them clay, either. A late bloomer, he has reached his highest ever ranking, 19, at the age of 29. He made his first final in 2012 but waited four years for another chance. The French are renowned for their late bloomers. Julian Benneteau didn’t become relevant until he was well into his 20’s. But the Spanish usually start young - David Ferrer, Carlos Moya and Rafael Nadal all started in their teenage years. The lefty, along with compatriot Carreno Busta, steadily climbed the rankings. He hasn’t done it with a big weapon or flashy shot. He has done it by being unerringly, and unnervingly, consistent. He is a superb counterpuncher, particularly on the dirt. His breakthrough came last year. He has never, this year’s slam included, got past the second round of a slam except for twice. Both came last year. He made the quarters of Roland Garros and backed it up by winning two matches at Wimbledon. Unseeded, he beat Sock in five sets. Then he beat Milos Raonic 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. Nevermind that in the next match Stan Wawrinka took him apart - that was a very impressive run. And at Wimbledon he led Gasquet 6-2 and a break before the Frenchman came back at him, and beat him. This guy has, after years of playing the role of journeyman, finally blossomed. This week his wins over Murray and Cilic were eye-opening. He beat them both in three. To beat players of their calibre in that kind of match is really tough. His dismantling of higher-ranked Pouille in the third set of their semi-final, which he won 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, was an almost perfect set. He even responded well against Nadal, though you always felt that one was beyond him. It is good to see new characters on the stage show we call tennis. If he could get the 16th seed going into Roland Garros, he would be a dark horse to make a very deep run indeed.

[Ramos V d. Raonic Roland Garros]

...This is a week of firsts and for the young Argentine it is a special one. It is a first ever 1000 level quarterfinal. For a 24-year old from Bueno Aires with three siblings to have had such a career really is something. To rise to a career high of 34 three years after his slam debut is quite exceptional. It has been a long journey for the diminutive South American. He opened up with a tricky encounter on paper, but handled Bernie Tomic in a 6-1, 7-6[3] victory. Next was Spaniard Bautista Agut, but that was a similar scoreline; Schwartzman won it 6-3, 7-6[3]. He spanked Struff 6-3, 6-0 to set up a clash with Rafael Nadal. And he was not cowed in that match. He stood up to the Spaniard. He traded with him and led 4-2 in the second set. But it was for nought. Nadal was too strong and bundled him out 6-4, 6-4. This is what we here at BACKSPIN call the clay effect. Some player’s seasons rest on different surfaces. Look at Isner. For the Argentinians and Spaniards, the clay is heaven.
...A household name in men’s doubles and a constant presence on tour, the Indian won a title this week with Pablo Cuevas. Ironically, the Uruguayan has won more slams than he has. Having not won a title since June 2015 at the beginning of this year, he has now won two out of three finals since January. He rose six spots to 18, which is still 15 places off his best ever. He also improves to 4-8 in Masters finals. He and Cuevas took out the 1st and 5th seeds.
...The greatest quote in tennis? Oh, well, that’s easy.

Goffin has finally had his first win over Djokovic. The Serb now leads the head to head by 5-1. A tiny margin, really. He won their last meeting, at the WTF, 6-1, 6-2. Goffin has only taken one set. But it was a Monte Carlo miracle for David as he edged Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. He was down 4-2 in the third but came back hard to win it, stringing together some incredible rallies on the way. Check this out.

That win, along with victories over Almagro and Thiem, has put him back at world number ten, his previous high. But in his match against Nadal, tragedy struck.

Gros clash lors du match David Goffin - Rafael... by Sport-Buzz

If not for that call we could have been talking about a very different result. When early calls go against you it can be really difficult to come back into a match. Still, it has been a good week for Goffin. His best slam is on the horizon and he could be looking at a new career high ranking soon, too.
...He was injured in Indian Wells. He just had a bad day at the Australian Open. He isn’t so good on clay. When are the excuses going to end? Murray is not a good world number one. He hasn’t been at the races this year. What the ATP has right now is the best player according to the rankings, and the best player according to form. Kyrgios, Federer, Nadal and Dimitrov. They have been the best players this year. Murray and Djokovic have looked vulnerable in a way we haven’t seen for years. Muzza won the first set against Ramos Vinolas 6-2. But he still lost. It is inexplicable. There should be a rule that if a world number one is playing at a certain level, a replacement should be found. It would have been handy for the Marcelo Rios year on the ATP. It would be handy now.
...There are just so many to choose from. Let’s take Cuevas beating Wawrinka 6-4, 6-4. Wawrinka is a former champion here but the Swiss is absolutely unpredictable. On his day, at his very best, I don’t think there’s a guy he couldn’t beat anywhere. Boris Becker on grass or Bjorn Borg on clay. But he is also the guy that when he loses to Pablo Cuevas in straight sets you aren’t really surprised. A nice win for the Uruguyan, but somehow it feels like it doesn’t quite count for as much as it should.

1. Monte Carlo F- Nadal d. Ramos Vinolas 6-1, 6-3
...It’s just what Rafa does. Nadal is 14-0 against Spaniards in finals. That includes a slam final, too. He won on a Ramos-Vinolas double fault, but when your opponent is doing this...

what can you do? It’s important to highlight utter dominance, it really is.
2. Monte Carlo R3 - Ramos Vinolas d. Murray 2-6, 6-2 7-5
...How does the Muzza keep blowing these matches? He led Vasek Pospisil 4-1 in Indian Wells but lost in straight sets. Here he was in the ascendancy, but lost the second set really badly. Then he had a 4-0 lead in the final set. He had his opponent bang to rights. You will always struggle to win a three set match if you lose your serve seven times like Murray did. It’s a poor start for the Scot, who has some serious points to defend coming up.

Carreno Busta [7] d. [10] Ramos Vinolas
Nadal [3] d. [5] Goffin
Nadal [3] d. [7] Carreno Busta

...Gasquet returns as Nishikori withdraws with -- surprise, surprise -- an injury. Murray is going nowhere. So let’s stick with Spaniards in Barcelona. Goffin will continue his form, but this clay swing already feels like every clay swing between 2008 and 2014. Nadal’s going to win a lot of titles. The body is, as ever, his biggest question, but now it’s an enormous one. He has to keep something back for the French.

Fognini [3] d. [1] Pouille
Verdasco [4] d. [2] Karlovic
Fognini [3] d [4] Verdasco

...This is a new event and it will almost certainly have a more competitive final than the other tournament. Anything could happen here, so let’s go for the most entertaining option.

So we finally have positive news, good tidings. She defeated Ivana Jorovic in the Fed Cup in her first match, then saw off Nina Stojanovic in the next. Ash Barty’s first rubber win over Aleksandra Krunic, a surprisingly comfortable 6-4, 6-3, was enough to give the visitors the tie. And still the Fed Cup will not move the doubles up. Why?

No sign of Gavrilova anywhere in Stuttgart, but how dangerous is the pairing of Stosur/Hlavackova in the ladies’ doubles?

There was this, handily supplemented by a CNN reference. Which is a good note on which to end.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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