Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Wk.39- The End is Nigh

Hi All. Galileo here.

Let's be honest. This hasn’t been the best season. Injuries, loss of form and a lack of star power have all contributed to what feels like a bit of a letdown season. Just as the NFL feels off kilter, so the ATP this year has felt a bit average. No Wawrinka or Djokovic. No titanic three-way battle for the top ranking. The doubles has been consistently good and the off-court stuff has not overshadowed the play, either, but it took Federer and Nadal to rescue this season.

I think sports across the board are seeing an increase in injuries and it means the top ten aren't as good, the quarterfinals and semi-finals lack bite and there aren't enough storylines. Pablo Carreno Busta is a very good player. Top ten? I doubt it. We have these periods in tennis, from 1998-2004 was the last time, where you look at the top ten and you say they just aren't that good. Juan Carlos Ferrero and Marcelos Rios both failed to make good number ones. And then you have those players who are fantastic and watchable and exciting...during the regular season. But come the ‘playoffs’ they mysteriously disappear. Alex Zverev is the Detroit Lions - fun and exciting, but then it means something and poof! He's gone.

But the long season is almost at it's end. We've got one more blast before we get a nice three day rest.

And that brings me to this week.

This week we had a retirement in a final, withdrawals and collapses from the big seeds. We had comebacks and drama. Plus David Goffin’s comeback continued. He has recovered so well from that Roland Garros incident.

In fact, we'll start with David...

S: Denis Istomin def. Marcos Baghdatis 3-2 ret.
D: Erlich/Qureshi d. Daniell/Demoliner

S: David Goffin def. Aleksandr Dolgopolov 6-4/6-7(5)/6-3
D: Peya/R.Ram d. Mektic/Monroe

...This BACKSPINNER always forgets that David Goffin, like Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price and Bryce Harper, don't do this for entertainment or even fame. They do it because it's their job. It's what they do for a living. So when they get hurt it's a big deal. It's like taking cement away from a bricklayer. They have overheads like you wouldn't believe - coaches, flights, hotels and physios. They get hurt for six weeks and they could lose 20000 bucks. And on top of all the other costs they have to pay for their own rehabilitation. So when Goffin got hurt, at his best slam no less, he lost form, money and ranking points. On top of losing money for weeks afterwards he also faced an increased amount of overhead costs. He's come back so quickly considering how badly he fell and it’s good to see that from one of our stars. It wasn't easy and he will still be feeling a little drained from the Davis Cup, too. He opened up with a great result, edging out Evgeny Donskoy 7-6[3], 6-3. Donald Young has risen steadily in the rankings, but five years too late for American tennis to really care. He was seeded eighth and had recent form. But players that mercurial tend to struggle against the steady, patient players. The Belgian eased to a 6-2, 6-3 win. It wouldn't be the ATP without a strange match and Henri Laaksonen provided one, pushing the second seed all the way. But he missed chances in the first set and eventually lost 7-6[7], 5-7, 6-3. In the final he outlasted Alex Dolgopolov in a see-sawing three setter. Once again the wall was impenetrable.

...Honestly, he had a better week than Goffin. But his opponent retired in the final. He only had to play five games to win the match. Marcos Baghdatis had to play two matches in one day the day before. Istomin became the 10th player outside the top 50 to win a title this year. He had a good tournament, with plenty of upsets. He played JL Struff first and won 6-3, 7-6[6-3]. Then he spanked Karen Khahanov 6-3, 6-2 to make the quarters. He edged past Jared Donaldson 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(5). In the 5th game of the second set he had to survive a slew of break points. But after that he slowly turned the tide and, on his second match point, took out the match. In the semi-final he won 6-2, 6-7[4], 6-0 against Sugita. And then in the final the retirement of the Cypriot sealed the title, the second of his career.

...on his home continent Sugita has made a semi-final showing. He is another one of these Asian sensations that are coming along so frequently now. But most of them are young and up ‘n coming. He's been a journeyman until this year. Now he's the 40th best player in the world. Not bad at all. He had good wins against Monteiro and Lajovic. And despite the odd scoreline in his loss to Istomin he has still had a fantastic week.
...We could probably do a BACKSPIN special on fat players. Nalbandian's nickname was Fat Dave. Andy Roddick struggled with his weight. Marcos hasn't been in great shape for years. His last title was in 2010, but he did play a very entertaining final against Wawrinka in Dubai last year. We're very much seeing the end of that 2004-07 generation now. Even Gonzalez has moved on. It is heartening to see another run from Bagman even though it's probably one of his last.
...Absolutely rubbish from Alex Zverev. Why was he even playing in China? He doesn’t need to. He should be saving his energy for the push to London and the finals. He should have made the semi-finals of a slam by now and he should be world number three or higher. He is the future, but not like this. Hopefully next year he breaks through even bigger because this isn’t enough. He shouldn’t be losing to Dzumhur in straight sets anywhere in the world. Except he is. It’s just a poor result.

...Pella beat Coric 6-4, 7-6[2]. The Croat is a better player, but Pella still found a way. Then he beat Domi Thiem 7-6[6], 6-4. The Austrian is also a better player, but never paces his schedule well. Then he beat American qualifier Fritz 6-3, 7-6[3]. That's another player better than him. Baghdatis is probably a better player than him...and against the Cypriot his luck finally ran out.

1. Shenzhen 2nd – A.Zverev d. Darcis 4-6, 7-6[5], 7-6[5]
...Steve Darcis is the ultimate trouble maker. He loves nothing better than causing trouble. He was inches away from beating the German and causing a huge upset. Yes the German went and crashed out in the next round, but still. Darcis led by a break in the third set and served for a 5-3 lead. In the breaker he led 4-2 but then shipped four straight points to the German. It doesn’t matter who you are, Darcis will cause you problems.
2. Shenzhen Final – Goffin d. Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-7[3], 6-3
...Goffin wins the first set in half an hour. Goes down 1-5 in the second set. Recovers to force a tiebreaker. Loses the second set. Wins the third set at a canter. He goes a step closer to locking up a spot in London. If you get a chance to, watch the point at 5-5 in the breaker. It’s one of the best you’ll see this year. Plus, this match had a clash of styles which is always a win in the BACKSPIN books.

3. Chengdu SF – Baghdatis d. Pella 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
...An epic battle this one. Baghdatis flashed some of the old Marcos en route to a final appearance. The Cypriot had to play twice in one day but threw down 12 aces to outlast his South American opponent. He hasn’t won a title since 2010 in Sydney. The streak continues.

Del Potro d. [6] Isner
Kyrgios [8] d. [7] Berdych
Del Potro d. [8] Kyrgios

...At this point I have no shot at making the right picks. So I have instead picked what would be entertaining. Delpo and Kyrgios both usually do quite well post-U.S. Open. Murray isn't here and Nadal never looks good on hard.

Anderson [5] d. [3] Raonic
Thiem [2] d. Gasquet
Anderson [5] d. [2] Thiem

...The health of Gasquet and Raonic should hold until the semi-finals. But how can you think they can even play five matches in a week, let alone win them? Sometimes players collapse after their best result. But the South African seems a lot more grounded than that, more together. He will rebound nicely and beat Thiem who, once again, has overpacked his schedule.

In her first match in Wuhan, Gavriloav lost 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 to Julia Goerges. In the doubles, she and Strycova also failed to win a match. Melichar/Smith eased past them 6-3, 6-3.

This week in singles in China, Dasha has already won twice. She beat Anna Kontaveit 7-5, 7-5 in the first round. Then Coco Vandeweghe retired and Dasha is now through to the third round. Muguruza has withdrawn leaving the top half open. Ash Barty and Gavrilova are within one ranking spot of one another, so there's that angle to think about, too.

No doubles in China for Dasha I’m afraid. She is headed to Hong Kong next.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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