Monday, August 07, 2017

Wk.31- A German in America

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

As we go into the American swing, which could be called the Americas swing, we are reminded of a once-great empire. It is like playing tennis in Pompeii or in Atlantis. American tennis is a lost empire. In Serena's absence, it is a stark and shocking reality. But America needs to calm down and stop worrying about the tennis. This summer they dominated the World Aquatics Championships, particularly in the swimming events, are dominating the Athletics and also look better than they ever have in soccer.

Right now they are a third-world tennis nation. But this BACKSPINNER thinks it is a good thing that America is not having it all its own way. It's a good thing to lose on occasion. And you know that it will be only a matter of time before they come back. In the sporting world, America has always been the dominant force. Forget the USSR and China. Forget Australia and Britain. It is always America. Feeling sorry for them because they no longer dominate a sport is like feeling sorry for Tom Brady because he lost 20 bucks. Or like feeling sorry for Roger Federer when Lenny is sick on him.

America will be fine. They're allowed to be average at something. Just this week Tommy Paul made the quarters while Jack Sock went one better. They aren't even that bad. With nine guys in the top 100 and five in the top 50 they are still a threat at any slam that isn't staged in France. Just because they aren't Jimmy Connors or Johnny McEnroe doesn't mean they've fallen on truly hard times.

This week we saw comebacks. Henri Kontinen and his partner John Peers responded well to a heartbreaking Wimbledon loss. Sam Querrey responded well to losing such a tight match to Marin Cilic, and Alex Zverev backed up a superb tournament. In other tennis news, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka have both pulled the plug on their seasons. It leaves Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to fight it out for the number one crown. With hard being the surface for the rest of the year, injury concerns and more points to defend, Rafael Nadal is the slight underdog. But it could swing either way. Yes, the tour has a very 2008-09 feel to it. Let's look at what happened this past week...

S: Alexander Zverev def. Kevin Anderson 6-4/6-4
D: Kontinen/Peers d. Kubot/Melo

S: Sam Querrey def. Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-3/3-6/6-2
D: Cabal/Huey d. Galdos/Maytin

S: Philipp Kohlschreiber def. Joao Sousa 6-3/6-4
D: Cuevas/Duran d. Podlipnik/Vasilevski

...We have a rule here on BACKSPIN. If there is one 500 and two 250's then the winner of the big event comes in here. It just makes sense. So the German. He's had a good year. He is the only player to win one of the big events outside of the Fedal. He has played spoiler the best, but lost in heartbreaking five-set fashion in Melbourne and London. His backhand is the best on tour right now, and the scariest thing is that you never know where he is going to put it. Will he go inside-out? Will he spank it crosscourt? Nope. It's a dropper and the point is over. Last week he climbed to 8 in the world, a career high. He has consolidated that with a great run in Washington, home of the NL's second-best team. Since May last year he has made eight finals and looked competent at slam level, too. Five titles from eight attempts is an excellent mark. He has also engaged the services of Juan Carlos Ferrero. The Spaniard knows how to play in New York. In the capital, he opened by edging Jordan Thompson in a third set breaker. Next he beat Tennys [Ha-Ha] Sandgren 7-5, 7-5. By now he was on a roll, confirmed by his 6-4, 6-2 beatdown of Medvedev. He put Nishikori to the sword 6-4, 6-3. In the final he swept by Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4. He forced the big man into several errors, used his variety and generally made it hard for the South African to get anything going.

Now he needs to repeat in Canada. But can he do so?
...The German first won the Kitzbuhel doubles title in 2006. He and Stefan Koubek beat Marach/Suk. Nine years later he took the singles title. Now he has won for a third time. Unseeded, he beat Bagnis in three sets, dismissed Vesely 6-3, 6-3 and then edged Lajovic 4-6, 6-4, 7-6[5] in the quarters. He just could not get out and away from the Serb. He knocked out the last seed remaining in the semi - number two Fabio Fognini. It was a tight match but the German always plays well in German speaking countries. Kohl won 7-5, 6-3. In the final, Joao Sousa couldn't muster up anything and Kohl ran away with it 6-3, 6-4. It was a superb week for the German. He is now ranked 37th. That Flushing Meadows seed is there, looking him in the face.

...This is a rare occurrence - a sensible Australian tennis star under the age of 25. It's the run that's glorious more than anything. He edged Frances Tiafoe in two breakers in round one. He beat Peter Polansky in a third set breaker in match two. He held off Taylor Fritz 7-6[5], 6-2 in the quarters before edging Tomas Berdych in the semi. Despite the loss in the Cabo final it is the kind of performance you can look back on with so much pride. He now has momentum going into the summer swing. But can he use it?
...Kevin Anderson is awfully reliable. Unlike the Miami Marlins, who are reliably awful. Another point for tennis - anybody can win. In the big four you can be dreadful for years, and years and years. The Bills haven't made a playoff appearance since Bill Clinton was president. When were the Browns last good? When have the Padres ever been relevant? Will the New Jersey Devils ever be good again? Why haven't they disbanded the Knicks and started again? In tennis you have good weeks and bad weeks. A drought is never more than a year or two. And you can make ten semi-finals a year and call that a good year. Anderson's big serve is one of the most consistent weapons on the tour. Combined with a wicked forehand and a good mental game it is a weapon to be feared. Season after season he turns up and plays the same way. But it is unbeatable. He even came back from injury and was just as relevant. In Washington, he made another final on hard-courts. His last final was two years ago the month. He is currently 3-9 in finals. With his ranking at 32 he should get a seed in New York.
...Bhambri was part of that initial Indian Wave. The one which went as quickly as it came. They had Sania Mirza, Somdev Devarrman and the men's doubles talents, too. But they just disappeared. We never saw them again after a while. It was really strange. Bhambri is now 159 in the world. He won the junior Australian Open in 2009. In Washington qualies, Ramkumar Ramanathan also did very well. He is Bhambri's compatriot. Rankumar was the top seed, Bhambri second. He beat Liam Broady 6-2, 6-4 to qualify. In the first round he defeated Stefan Kozlov via a retirement. In the next, he edged Gael Monfils 6-3, 4-6, 7-5. Pella ran out of steam and crumbled, as Bhambri defeated him 6-7[5], 6-3, 6-1. It took the huge weapons of Kevin Anderson to finally subdue the Indian. The South African won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. The odyssey is over for now. But there may be a spark of a new career forming, and perhaps it could ignite.
...The Uruguyan is one of the steadiest players on tour. He is Mr. Reliable. But he was undone by a rain delay and a vociferous home crowd. He lost to Ofner 6-3,2-6,7-6 (7-3). Going into the event he was one of the favourites, but his sudden departure set the tone for the rest of the seeds to collapse. Incidentally, this event is more historic than you might think. Santana, Panatta, Orantes, Vilas [4-1 in finals], Gerulaitis, Sampras, Muster, Ivanisevic [winners in 1992, '93 and '94], Costa [3-2 in finals], and Juan Martin Del Potro have all won here. Cuevas may yet add his name to that illustrious list. But not yet. At least he won the doubles title this year.
...What a summer! The Russians aren't just in the Kremlin and the White House, bad action movies and good James Bond flicks. No, they are now firmly ensconced in the ATP hierarchy. Andrey Rublev is 19 and number 53 in the world. Medvedev is 21 and 48th. And we all know about Karen Khachanov. In D.C., He edged Reilly Opelka 6-7 (6), 6-3, 7-6 (6), saving a match point with a 130 MPH ace along the way. In the second round he edged Stevie Johnson in a third set breaker. It was a fiery, fractious match. According to an online source, here’s what happened: #34 ranked Johnson won the first set 6-3 and was up a break in the second set. Both players were resting on a changeover and the chair umpire called “time.” That’s when Medvedev, ATP 50, suddenly asked for a medical timeout. It took the physio three or four minutes to get to the court and a further delay ensued. Johnson was understandably irritated at Medvedev’s stall tactic which, of course, was designed to distract the American's following service game.

And, of course, it did. Medvedev broke Johnson, who then shouted across the net at the young Russian, who is based in Nice, France since age seven, “Nice injury time out you piece of sh**!” – according to the photographer who was present.

In the third round, the Russian spanked Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2. But he got his comeuppance at the hands of Alex Zverev. He lost 6-2, 6-4. He moves on to the Rogers Cup. A seed in New York is in play after all.

For more on the controversy.

1. Los Cabos QF – Kokkinakis d. Berdych 3-6, 7-6[5], 6-4,
...After 18 months spent making his body work, and ranked 454 in the world, the Australian has defeated a Wimbledon semi-finalist. With the win he has risen 234 spots to 220th in the world. Sure, he nearly blew a 6-2 lead in the breaker. And, yes, he squandered four match points and 5-2 in the third, but a win is a win. And for the Australian to just get on court is awesome.

2. Washington QF – Nishikori d. Paul 3-6 7-6(8) 6-4
...Saving three match points and barely clinging on to beat a player out of the top 200 is not very impressive, even if they are a rising star. The Japanese man recovered from 3-5 to edge through in the final set. A win is a precious thing for Nishikori these days. How will he defend all those points in New York?
3. Kitzbuhel 1st Round – Zeballos d. Dutra Silva 2-6, 7-6, [11], 7-6[4]
...The Brazilian won 119 of the 237 points played in this three hour epic. This BACKSPINNER's theory is that there are a handful of people who tuned in to watch the entirety of this. We salute those brave souls. There were just four breaks in the whole match.

Nadal [1] d. [4] Zverev
Federer [2] d. [3] Thiem
Nadal [1] d. [2] Federer

...Even in 2007, Roger did not win in Montreal. He has always played worse there for some reason. He has skipped the previous two. But Tsonga, Zverev and Kyrgios are all in the top half. Kyrgios knows how to beat Zverev. Tsonga is such a big question mark. Nadal is going to win this and take the top ranking along with it.

Next year we will be following Valentini Grammatikopoulou. No, not really. But it was worth it just to mention that name.

Last year Dasha only made the Rogers Cup second round. She has already matched that this year. She beat Lara Arruabarrena 6-3, 6-3 on Monday. Now she must face Barbora Strycova (rather than Mladenovic, who lost). If she wins, then defending champ Halep is almost certain to be the one standing in her way.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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