Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Wk.40- Kings and Queens, Those Kind of Things and Up-and-Coming Teens

Hi All. Galileo here.

A common theme on BACKSPIN is the defense of whoever happens to be the world number one. Rafael Nadal, with his title in China this week, has locked up the world number one ranking for the year. Not mathematically, no, but can you see Fedex tracking him down now? But the WTA has done it once again. The best female player in the world has won a title this year. Thats right - one. She got there by making a final. She is only number one because other players lost. It’s the most Simona Halep way to ascend to the top. Not by her own hand.

She lost to Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-0 in Cincy. She has just been dispatched by Caroline Garcia. And the title she won, in Madrid, she won because her opponent, Kiki Mladenovic, choked. She is not a top five player. There are five active players better than her. There are ten players I'd choose above her on grass and eight on hard-courts. She has collapsed in two grand slam finals and lost in the first round of two slams this year. Two!

Her slam record this year is a mediocre 10-4. Venus has won twice that. Pliskova, who has had a solid if under-achieving year is 14-4. Muguruza managed 17-3. Ostapenko is 15-3. Kuznetsova is 11-4. Svetlana Kuznetsova has had a better slam years by wins than the world number one.

So to recap - she is rubbish in finals [1-4], above average at getting to finals, and average in slams. And that makes her the world’s best player? It’s a meaningless title at this point. It’s utterly irrelevant. It has been drifting in and out of relevancy for years. You don’t deserve applause and admiration for it.

On the men’s side Rafa Nadal has won title after title. He has won two hard-court titles in one season for the first time in an age. He has taken two slams and made a final at a third. He has reached a level we haven’t even seen from Djokovic yet. This has been one of the all time great seasons. He has locked up the top ranking for the year and if we’re lucky he might play Federer again, too. The contrast between the number ones has never been greater. Todd will try and defend the WTA but even he must be getting tired of the top spot’s irrelevancy. Does it even matter as a prize anymore?

S: Rafael Nadal def. Nick Kyrgios 6-2/6-1
D: Kontinen/Peers d. Isner/Sock

S: David Goffin def. Adrian Mannarino 6-3/7-5
D: McLachlan/Uchiyama d. J.Murray/Soares

...After two wins in a row, Goffin must be feeling like his maiden Masters title is in the works. It is one of the hardest things to do in our sport, the threepeat, but he has a chance to achieve it. Winning back-to-back titles is not so hard. You usually play eight-ten matches in that period, but it's only in a three-set format. So it's actually less effort than you'd need to take out a slam. And if you've got the form there's really no limit to what you can achieve. Goffin really got going during the Davis Cup and that has given him a surprising boost. He opened with the veteran Deliciano Lopez but won easily 7-5, 6-1. His next opponent looked like a gimme. It was Aussie qualifier Matt Ebden. It turned out to be extremely difficult, what you might call a trap game. He ground out a 2-6, 7-5, 7-6[1]. Goffin opened up a 5-3 lead in the second but couldn't put it away. He opened up a 5-2 lead in the third set, but then lost four games in a row. He recovered and took 11 of the last 12 points to run out the winner. Ebden started the year at 699 in the world. He is now 103. In the semi-finals he ousted Diego Schwartzman 7-6[3], 7-6[6] to make it seven in a row. He is also 8-1 at the Japanese tournament. He was put under pressure in the 9th game but survived and endured a spirited fight at the tail end of the second set, winning in two hours despite failing to serve it out at 5-4. In the final he negated Adrian Mannarino’s tricky lefty serve with that big backhand. He beat the Frenchman 6-3, 7-5.

Goffin is now 49-18 on the year, which is an excellent mark. He's almost certainly made the finals, too.
...He has got nowhere to rise to. His level is the highest of any since Roger Federer in 2007 and ‘09. He was and is the best defender in the game. His movement and shots kept him in a rally four more shots than you'd ever expect. His rise from the ashes, Phoenix like, has been the second best storyline all year. It took Federer winning two slams to knock it into second. In the first round he recovered from a slip (literally) but edged out Lucas Pouille 4-6, 7-6[6] 7-5. He saved two match points against the Frenchman. It must be so hard to put away the Spaniard. You've seen him come back time and time again, against you, your compatriots, your friends and even your idols. And that's an added layer of pressure. The next match Nadal dismissed Khachanov 6-3, 6-3. Then he knocked out John Isner 6-4, 7-6[0]. To beat Isner to love in anything is almost impossible, but there are few better closers in the game than Rafa. In thw semi-final he ground poor Dimitrov into dust, winning 6-3, 4-6, 6-1. In the final, Nick Kyrgios was never at the races and crumbled. He argued with the line judges all day and couldn't mentally recover. He lost 6-2, 6-1. It's another great title run from the Spaniard, and if he does finish number one he can look back at this.

...Australia should have kept Jo Konta. And New Zealand should have kept Cam Norrie. He is a very handy player. In the last week of September he won in Tiburon. He was seeded 8th and dropped just two sets. He was seeded 8th in Stockton and lost just one set. He also made a final last month. On the last Monday of August he was 200 in the world. He's now 111. Keep watching this guy. He could be another British success story.

...There won't be many more times we can talk about overly talented Frenchman after this year. His fitness has collapsed the last two years, but when he actually gets onto court he can be very effective. You saw it against Sam Querrey in his 6-4, 7-6[2] win. He has a deceptively good forehand return and the backhand is still an enormous weapon. He can hurt you. It'll be a sad day when he hangs up his rackets because he brought a unique style to the table.

...He played a match and a game. He beat Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-4. But he called it quits after just one game against Sugita. Now he's not a bad player, but Raonic at his peak would have no trouble. What is the Canuck still playing for? He's injured and not recovering properly, so he should sack it off. He should call time on his season or play just the Masters. If he worked on recovery now he might have a shot at the Aussie Open title.
...As usual, Domi Thiem is playing too many events. There'll be a season where he has a sensible schedule eventually but it isn't this year. He was in control against Johnson, but the American found his return game just in time to win 4-6, 7-6[5], 6-4. The Austrian will need to go deep in Shanghai to recalibrate his Finals run. The American backed up his upset of the 2nd seed by taking down Alex Dolgopolov 6-2, 6-4. The Ukrainian had good recent form, but the American had found his groove. Schwartzman ended his run in the next round but a quarterfinal run is good for ranking, confidence and the wallet.


Cilic [4] d. [6] Dimitrov
Federer [2] d. [3] Zverev
Federer [2] d. [4] Cilic

...Cilic always pulls out one great result towards the end of the year. Nadal won’t win two hard-court tournaments back to back. Kyrgios has health struggles. And Federer will know that if he doesn’t pull something out here it could mathematically be impossible to finish at number one.

Garcia is just the third person to do the Asian double and her incredible journey makes for a great week which Todd has you covered on. But our Dasha also did well. She beat Anett Kontaveit. In the next round, she benefited from the retirement of CoCo Vandeweghe. She lost to Strycova in the quarters 6-4, 6-0. That is a classic Gavrilovian scoreline.

Ever heard of Miyu Kato? She is the Japanese qualifier that Dasha Gavrilova defeated in the first round in Hong Kong. The 7th seed will next play Shelby Rogers. That has game of the week potential. She has not entered the doubles, which is surprising. She could have asked Sam Stosur.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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