Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Wk.38- Brothers in Arms

Hi All. Galileo here.

We have had a very rare occurrence. Federer and Nadal have played together. Yes, the greatest rivalry on the planet has a new chapter.

But this is not unprecedented. Oh, no. This has long been coming...

Now the funny thing is that they actually complement each other. The big lefty and the slicey-dicey righty. Federer has finesse, Nadal brutal groundstrokes. They were pushed all the way in the inaugural edition of the Laver Cup team international competition in Prague, but held on for a 6-4, 1-6, 10-5 victory. And they looked good together. Well, for the most part.

But, much like coffee, once you have a taste for it you want, need, more. So let’s look at the possibilities.

Low chance
Shanghai: Fed played doubles here in 2013 and won a match

Wimbledon: It’s five sets in doubles, so we can rule this out

Madrid and Basel: As a favour they might play in the hometown of either one. Fed made the final in 2000 in Basel. Nadal played in 2007-8.

Good Chance
Miami: It’s a long enough tournament and one they both like, plus Federer won it 2003 with Max Mirnyi. They made the semi-finals the year before. The Swiss also played here 00-01.

Best Chance
Indian Wells: In 2000, Fed qualified with Dominik Hrbaty and went all the way to the SF. The next year they lost in the second round to Hewitt/Rafter. In 2002, he lost in the final while playing with Mirnyi. Federer made the final in 2011, beating Nadal/Lopez in the semi-finals. Wawrinka was his partner. Nadal played with Tomic this year and he won it in 2010 and 2012.

Roland Garros: Yes, it sounds crazy. But think about it. Federer likes Paris, he has fans there. The doubles is easier than at Wimbledon.

Suppose as a one-off Nadal says hey I feel I can play both this year. Federer could do the doubles and the mixed. He could keep up his form and he would have a shot at a deep run. Why wouldn’t he? If he just played the doubles he could still prepare for Wimbledon easily enough.

Nadal is 11-4 in doubles, playing with either Juan Monaco or a compatriot. He won in Beijing last year and is the reigning Olympic champ. He has good results in Qatar and Barcelona, but Federer never plays there.

Federer is 8-6. He has played with a mix but, most interestingly, he played with Marat Safin and won a title in Switzerland. It was in 2001, but so what? He hasn’t won since the 2008 Olympics, however.

Something amazing happened this past week. Nick Kyrgios behaved well and played some awesome tennis. Yes, that Nick Kyrgios. He even did a really good thing-

The Americans kneeling have every right. And his support, along with the Athletics player who did so are inspiring. These events are going into history textbooks people. And after the match, which he lost 4-6, 7-6[6], 11-9, he burst into tears. Time and time again he gets so close to upending Federer but he can’t seem to get win number two. Team Europe staged an amazing comeback from 7-1 [and 9-3 on the final day] down to go into the final with a shot at a tie.

The most curious thing we learned is that the world is not quite as far behind Europe as we thought. Once Rafa and Roger go will Thiem and Zverev really be able to hold up against the rest of the continents?

As it is not officially a part of the ATP tour we must move on to things and events that are. But we can safely say that was a success and it should continue. The tour needs more publicity, needs more 'fun' events.

S: Damir Dzumhur def. Fabio Fognini 3-6/6-4/6-2
D: Jebavy/Middelkop d. Peralta/Zeballas

METZ, FRANCE (Hard Indoor)
S: Peter Gojowczyk def. Benoit Paire 7-5/6-2
D: Benneteau/Roger-Vasselin d. Koolhof/Sitak

LAVER CUP (Prague, Hard Indoor)
Team Europe def. Team World 15-9

...This is the guy that almost beat Nadal in Doha a few years ago. We have been waiting for an age for a title from this guy. He has risen to a career high of 66 as a result and maybe now he can kick on. He has a fun game with plenty of big shots and up-and-at-em. He was the top seed in qualifying and did not drop a set. It's funny how the qualifiers can sometimes be considered the most dangerous because they have wins and are adjusted to the court. He should have lost in the first round to the epicly named Norbert Gombos. He was a set and a break down but came back to win 3-6, 7-6[5], 6-3. He edged 8th seeded Gilles Simon 6-4, 7-6[4]. Next was Marius Copil, who he beat 6-2, 6-4. He was rolling and and Mischa Zverev's retirement in the semi-final gifted him a place in the final. Benoit Paire was his opponent and it was the funny forehand derby. He had to endure a very tight first set but did so, winning 7-5. He broke at the end of a long rally which came at the end of a long game. But from there it was pretty simple, as he rolled to a 6-2 final set victory. After starting the year ranked 189 he has to be delighted with his progress. He has momentum now and is almost highly ranked enough to get seedings in smaller tournaments.

...He was a disgrace at the end of the U.S. Open, having acted like an awful person and, deservedly so, been criticized by everyone. Fognini is he most frustrating player on the tour because he has a nice side, a horrible side and a talented side.

And this week we saw everything he has to offer in St. Petersburg. Seeded third he toughed out a match against Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Then he manhandled Berankis 6-3, 6-0. It was a consummate performance where we saw the very best he has to offer. In the semi-final he was pushed all the way by Bautista Agut but held on for a 2-6, 7-6[7], 7-6[5] win. In the final, he blew the match from a winning position but we expect that from him by now. When Vika cheated in Australia against Sloane, Todd defended her. Now I won't defend the Italian, but we need characters in tennis. And that’s what he is. He has bounced back a little from disgracing himself. He looked good and composed, too. We want more of it.

...At long last we have our title. The new world number 40 (career high) has become one of the best open coaching jobs available. He doesn't currently have one and he's in the top 40. It's very Tsonga of him. He lost to Bautista Agut in Winston Salem last month and now he finally has his moment in the sun. That top 40 ranking means he can enter any tournament, pick up seedings at some of the bigger 500 tournaments and it also gives him a great shot at more prize money. This week is a key to unlocking further career riches. It wasn't easy, either, in the first round he beat Paolo Lorenzi 7-5, 7-5. In the second he edged out Baghdatis 6-4, 7-6 [4]. After looking great for two matches he had to labour past qualifier Liam Broady 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. He knocked out the 8th seeded Struff in the semi-final 6-3, 7-5. In the final, he was battered by Fabio Fognini early on. But he mounted a comeback to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Three seeds dealt with and one title. Not a bad week's work, eh?
...For a guy who is worth 10 million dollars aged just 32, you can't help but feel a little disappointed about what has happened to Almagro. He was one of the best players to watch and had more variety than Federer at his zenith. But injuries and bad luck have taken away another fantastic tennis career from us. This week he won a match. He beat Benneteau 7-6[3], 7-5. He even took a set off Goffin, but lost 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. He is ranked 132 in the world and it’s a crying shame. In twenty years time we'll probably forget about Almagro. But I hope not because he was a top ten stalwart with a world-class ground game.
...Why is it always the long names? Sometimes it feels like it only happens to BACKSPIN writers. Millot led Basil 6-2, 4-2. But he broke on a lengthy game and eventually the set went to a breaker. He won it 7-5 and hung on to win the match 6-4 in the third set. After that escape the Georgian went on a roll. He dismissed Muller 6-4, 6-4. Then he beat Denis Istomin 7-5, 6-3. But he was unable to beat the fizzing Frenchman Paire. He lost 6-1, 7-6[5]. Paire can also find form at the drop of a hat and his big serve and dropshot combination is very off putting. Still, despite the loss, it was a memorable week for the Georgian number one.
...He should have played in Moselle. He is one of those players who always does so well at hone. So to lose in his second match is frustrating. Why is the three time champ playing in St. Petersburg? It was a catastrophically stupid decision. So much success on the tour is down to playing on your best courts and at your best events. You have to maximize the schedule.
...It isn't often the 8th seed comes into this category. Struff defeated Borna Coric 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. The Croat is the better player with stronger weapons. He has more game and a brighter future. But he is still young. He is still finding his way. His career thus far has been remarkable. But in the colds of Siberia he found himself lacking. Struff also edged out Tsonga 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. The last two sets were brilliant. It took eventual champion Dzumhur to see him off in the semi-finals. It was a very encouraging run from the German.

1. Prague RL Cup – Federer d. Kyrgios 4-6. 7-6[6], 11-9
...Kyrgios is denied once again by Federer. He had a match point and he had already won a doubles rubber, too. His win over Tomas Berdych kick-started a come back from Team World. He is playing exceptional tennis. But he couldn’t quite get over the hump. Team world didn’t have Raonic or Del Potro. Kyrgios led from the front. Incidentally, Del Potro turned 29 last week, on the same Day Bruce Springsteen turned 68.
2. St. Petersburg SF – Fognini d. Bautista Agut 2-6, 7-6[7], 7-6 [5].
...He was down 2-6, 4-5 but held his serve. At 30-30 he was two points from defeat but still clung on. At 5-6 and 30-30 a very lengthy rally ensued. But the Italian survived once more. At 6-5 in the breaker, Agut had the match on his racket. But he netted a simple backhand. At 7-7 there was a correction at the end of another lengthy rally. But it went the Italian's way and soon after so did the set. It was a break-filled final set which the Spaniard should have won. He had the mini-break in the tie-break and was 4 points away but collapsed. Fognini saves two match points and moves on.
3. Moselle Open QF – Paire d. Goffin 7-6[3], 5-7, 7-6[7]
...Goffin threw away a 4-2 final set lead and a match point in the third-set breaker, too. He had this match done and his opponent bang-to-rights. But he let him escape, slip away. It was a costly error. He might regret that come November.

Thiem [1] d. [4] Rublev
Khachanov [3] d. [2] Ramos-Vinolas
Thiem [1] d. [3] Khachanov

...Thiem tends to over-pack his schedule, but he is the favorite here because he is the best player. How can you look past him? The ATP is, as you’ve noticed, trying to branch out even more into the Asian markets. This tournament gives us a lot of young-gun action and it could be crucial in determining their weird end-of-year tournament. Khachanov is the defending champion, which has to help.

A.Zverev [1] d. [3] M.Zverev
Goffin [2] d. [4] Lorenzi
A/Zverev [1] d. [2] Goffin

...A.Zverev likes the indoor hard-courts. And this isn’t a slam, so there’s that. Goffin has found his mojo again, meanwhile. These points are going to be important if players want to qualify for London, so expect the competition to be fierce.

So Dasha lost to Linette in the first round of the Toray Pan Pacific Open. She had a great first set but collapsed to 2-6, 6-0, 7-6[3] loss. She lost to the player who lost to the player who lost to the player who lost in the final. But in the doubles, the Dashas won 1-6, 7-5, 10-7 against Kichenok/Srebotnik in the first round. After that they rolled to the final where they lost to Klepac/Martinez Sanchez.

So, quite a week. In her first match in Wuhan she lost 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 to Julia Goerges.

(Meanwhile, Ash Barty, who has defeated CiCi Bellis and Johanna Konta, has had another fantastic week and now looks like the best player in Australia.)

In the doubles, Dasha has lost to Melichar/Smith. For some reason she played with Strycova. Kasatkina is there. They just aren't playing together. It's bizarre, but what can you do?

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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