Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Wimbledon Day 3- Nadal Fends Off the Youth of Today

Hey Y'all. Galileo here,

Every year this BACKSPINNER makes the trip to Wimbledon on the first Friday, as his annual pilgrimage to the holy land. It is set in stone. But this year, American friends wanted a trip to SW19. And that has thrown this side of BACKSPIN into chaos. So, with a report on being at Wimbledon to come, and with another trip to the grass on the 7th, this BACKSPINNER finally gets to pen his first words on the day's proceedings.

Wimbledon is the best organized, most traditional, up-to-date, tourist-friendly, player-friendly tournament there is anywhere in the world. It has honed itself into the perfect entity over the course of 13 decades or so. It is so organized it manages every year to have a little holiday. It built a roof before it was cool. It has the best tennis app seen yet. It is run to perfection, from the queue, to the courts, to the security. And for many British people, it is a sacred time. We here on BACKSPIN recognize and appreciate that. It transcends tennis, this tournament. There is a special story behind every champion, every winner. Only the very greatest of our sport seem to triumph here. The unworthy almost always fall by the wayside. Think back - can you remember the last time a Wimbleon champion had a career high below three? Or at least a long history with the event?

Wimbledon is the graveyard of champions, it is upsets and five-setters. It is the last bastion of epic doubles matches and it is where, this year, Jelena Ostapenko has played into the darkening motes of dusk, and survived two upset attempts, but refused to go down. She has ground her way into the third round with a blunt refusal to go down. This BACKSPINNER saw her on Monday, in the fading light, cling onto life. It is impressive, it is noteworthy. She is backing up her extraordinary run in Paris.

The bizarre also happens at Wimbledon. Like this.

Well, today, on Day Three, we have plenty of tennis to bring you. Now lets dive in.

Many a player has gone into a daze under the heavy weight of occasion that Centre Court brings. Not Dustin Brown. Very little ever fazes him. He did, in fact, bring his entire bag of tricks to entertain the feisty home crowd. From drop-shot smashes to half-volleys, to lobs and back again, there was no shot he wouldn't hit. With the German it is not about the stats - though he did manage a 30-28 winners ratio - it is about getting applause. He played good tennis throughout the match, but Andy Murray was at a different level. For the first time he looked like a world number one. He hit just five errors as he saw out his opponent 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. It was a consummate performance from the Scot, who played a controlled game. He knew that Brown would not be able to play with the same level all match, so he sat back and let the German lose. He played some great lobs, and his passing game was superb. Murray appears to be back now. Next up is 28th seeded Fognini. The Italian has not dropped a set. After that his likely opponent is Jerzy Janowicz. He plays Benoit Paire in what promises to be the match of the tournament.
The Spaniard cruised for 90 minutes, and led the young American 6-4, 6-2. But there lay a chance. If Young, who had been playing well up to that point, could hang on, the roof might have to be put over Centre Court. If he could just extend the match...well, then there might be a shot. When Nadal served for it at 5-4, he played the return game of the year. One rally he hit four perfect backhand slices in a row before running round and smacking a 100 mile an hour forehand winner up the line. In fact, he looked like the prodigy he had been ten years ago. But Rafa has an ominous air about him at these Championships. And he broke right back and sealed the match 7-5 in the third, though it took him over two hours. Five breaks to one and 38 winners to 31 disguise how well Young actually played during the match. The key for Rafa was winning 43 per cent of receiving points. Young served brilliantly, even throwing in a few serve-volley plays, but he met with a Spanish wall of defiance. Rafa is through to face Karen Khachanov. The Russian edged Thiago Monteiro in four epic sets and also went five in his first round. But he could trouble Rafa for a set or two. He will be ready for the big time next year, but for now just achieving his seeding is an enormous feat.
Sergiy Stakhovsky double faulted on his final serve. After coming back from 3-6 in the tiebreaker his error was enough to let the Asian number one in to win the match. Yes, Kei won in three and a quarter hours 6-4, 6-7[7], 6-1, 7-6[6]. He superbly avoided the upset, as he took away the net from his opponent. The Ukrainian won only 54 per cent of his approaches. Breaking fives times to two, he took advantage of 37 errors off his opponent's racket to grind out a win. He faces Roberto Bautista Agut next. Both he and Nishikori have moved through this draw almost silently. The winner of that will almost certainly get a red hot Marin Cilic. Nishikori could beat the Croat. It is unlikely, but this is the tournament where Bastl beat Sampras. To do that, however, Nishikori will have to dispatch of the Spaniard quickly. He does lead the head-to-head 4-0.
It is just another win for the French vet. It wasn't even two hours on court, as he he won 6-1, 7-5, 6-2. He hit 17 more winners than his opponent and broke five times to none. It was a dominant performance from a resurgent Tsonga. He even won 48 per cent of return points while serving at 65 per cent. That's really good, though it is against a clay-courter way past his prime. He faces Querrey and the winner almost certainly gets Kevin Anderson. And then it is Andy Murray. A third Wimbledon semi could await Tsonga. We might have to start calling him Tiger Tsonga soon. The draw has broken well for him. That combined with his improved form is a potent mix for the rest of the players in his half. But Sam Querrey is a dangerous prospect. It will be an ace fest in that match.
The German served for the first set and led 5-2 in the third, and also led in the second. But the Croat won 7-6[2], 6-4, 7-5. Go figure. Cilic marches on, while his opponent chokes. 26th seeded Steve Johnson is a classic banana skin. Will Marin slip up or make it four quarter-finals in a row? His two and a quarter hour win today inspired little confidence in him.
This sums it up, frosty handshake and all...

Reminiscient of another Wimbledon handshake?

Anyway, after match points, long rallies and a comeback, Gilles Muller is off the brink and back with the living. He edged past the Czech 7-5, 6-7[7], 4-6, 6-3, 9-7 in three hours and 40 minutes. This match seemed to go on for an age. 169 winners. Muller won 87 per cent of his first serve points, his opponent 78 per cent. But both men could only manage 48 per cent on their second delivery. Perhaps the crucial stat was that Muller won five per cent more of points on the return. In tight matches it can be five per cent here or there that swings a match. On the deciding break point both players were very tentative. And eventually the Czech fluffed one and the game was up. Rosol fails to add to his famous Wimbledon upset list, but Muller continues to make the seeding decision look excellent.

It was slated to be Dr. Ivo meeting Muller but he will face the not-very-British-but-still-sort-of-British Aljaz Bedene in the third round. He edged Karlovic, and yes this BACKSPINNER saw that one on Court Three, and then today beat good pal Damir Dzumhur. In fact, they are such good pals he lent his friend some tennis whites. Anyway, the Luxembourgian should win that nice and easily, before facing off against Rafael Nadal. Big things are coming for the big man.

P.S- Dasha Gavrilova is out of the ladies singles. She lost 6-4, 2-6, 10-8 to Petra Martic of Croatia. She was slightly injured but she played her heart out. No more could be asked of her. And she is in no more events. So, sadly, there is no more Dasha, unless she enters the mixed.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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