Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wk.16- Djokovic Masters Monte Carlo

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

When Nadal entered Indian Wells earlier this year, the general consensus made Djokovic out to be favourite and Federer second favourite because Nadal had fitness concerns. History hath repeated itself in Monte Carlo. Amid fitness concerns for Novak, Nadal was the heavy, heavy favourite. There wasn't really a third favourite. Possibly Delpo might have been third favourite as Andy Murray is usually a little wobbly during the early stages of the clay season. However, Djokovic yet again proved that he can pretty much beat Nadal any place. It is quite ironic in a way that what Nadal was doing to Fed, is now being handed back to him. The problem Nadal has is the fact that when he hits his big shot- the forehand crosscourt to the Djokovic backhand- Djokovic isn't fazed and can stick it anywhere. It isn't very effective against the Djoker.

I do not think that Djokovic is yet the favourite to win the French despite ending Nadal's 46-match winning streak at the Rolex Masters. I think if -and when- he beats Nadal again on clay he becomes the favourite. The French Open should be a crackerjack with a hugely talented top 15 and a mis-seeded Nadal. For example, because of the seedings and rankings, any of the top three in the world ranking wise might have to play Robredo, Nalbandian, Dimitrov, Gasquet and Nadal to get to the semi-final. I don't think anyone in the world can get through those guys without dropping at least 2 or 3 sets and expending a serious amount of energy. I think that's an extreme case but there are an awful lot of floaters who are excellent on the dirt. Fabio Fognini made his first Masters semi, after making the quarters of the French a couple of years back and Fish is playing the Savannah Challenger this week, too. I think that is a smart move by Fish.

S: Novak Djokovic d. Rafael Nadal 6-2/7-6
D: Benneteau/Zimonjic d. Bryan/Bryan

...Nadal may be my slight favourite still for the French but a lot of people have seen this as a sign that Djokovic will win the French Open and thus complete his career Grand Slam. He was hitting his backhand sweetly and his ability to grind out matches is still there. He had to grind out wins against Youzhny and Monaco, before getting past surprise package Nieminen in two much closer sets. After that, he smashed Fognini and beat Nadal in what is now a famous match. In fact , he nearly bageled Nadal in that opening set. He has now won every Masters bar Cincy. He has reached four Cincy finals, losing two to Murray and two to Fed. Anyway, he broke Nadal to love when Nadal served for the second set and it looks like the king of clay is on a slightly more unstable throne. Djokovic is taking a break while the Spaniards go to Barca, but he will be back for Madrid.
RISER: Grigor Dimitrov, BUL
...He has finally risen into the top thirty. He beat Malisse 3 and 2, then beat Tipsy 7-6 ,6-1 to reach the third round. He played Mayer, who had ground out a couple of tight three-setters, and put him to the sword 6-2, 6-4. After that he played Nadal close and even had chances of a massive upset, too. He finally lost 6-4 in the third after they split a pair of 6-2 sets. I am relieved he is ranked so high because I think it would be great for him to be seeded at the French and to avoid seeds for a few rounds. I know I'm talking about the French a lot, but it is coming up soon and I do love the French Open.
SURPRISE: Fabio Fognini, ITA
...Beating Seppi on clay is an arduous task because he plays so well on the dirt. Fognini ground him out in three high quality sets. He played with flare and surprisingly his shot selection was not too crazy. After that ,he defeated proven clay courter Ramos and then defeated Berdych fairly comfortably 4 and 2. After that, he beat a rather flat Gasquet 7-6 6-2, 7-0 in that breaker, and then played the world number one for a spot in the final. That didn't go so well unfortunately.
VETERAN: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, FRA
...He turned 28 this April. He seems to have been around for ages but it's only been five years really since he broke out. How long does he have left? Hard to tell with Jo, but he made a Masters semi last week so presumably he has a bit left to go still. He lost to Nadal despite a spirited performance but his route there wasn't particularly difficult.
COMEBACK: Juan Monaco, ARG
...He seems to have finally emerged from a major slump. He smashed Klizan, handing him a bagel before bageling Gulbis, too. Admittedly, Gulbis came back a bit before finally losing in three, but Monaco appears to be fully back. He even took a set off Djokovic before Djoko came back to grind out a three set win. He will be a big threat at the French and at the upcoming Masters.
NEW FACE: Grigor Dimitrov, BUL
...I know I've already talked about him but he reached his maiden slam quarter here. He is therefore a fresh face, although if I was a betting man I'd put 50 on him winning a Masters one day.
DOWN: Andy Murray, GBR
...I am taking nothing away from Stan, but Murray was poor. It is very hard to lose a match 6-1, 6-2 if you're not playing badly, if you know what I mean. I have been thrashed before and each time I know I didn't play my best. We saw the worst of Murray against Wawrinka here. I found it funny when he said he was skipping Davis to focus on winning the French Open. He has more chance of winning Davis then he does of winning the French. I think he struggles to consistently hit with power and so struggles to hit through people on the clay. Also, his serve is not as effective and his good return doesn't quite have the same affect on opponents as it does on other surfaces.

1. MC QF - Nadal d. Dimitrov
A fantastic match full of great rallies and it nearly had a massive upset, too. A sign that Dimi might finally have arrived.
2. MC 3rd Rd. - Nieminen d. Del Potro
A great match filled with long rallies and lots of lefty angles, too. In the dusk of the dying day with the audience applauding every point, this was some match. Delpo had to be at his best here because Jarkko was playing so well but in the end, Nieminen took the epic match in a tight third set breaker.
3. MC 3rd Rd. - Gasquet d. Cilic
I thought this would be a damp squib, but it wasn't. There were a lot of long rallies, lots of angles and dropshots. There was serve and volley and drama, too. Also these two being so close in the rankings gave this match extra spice. In the end, though, Gasquet was just too good.

Goffin d. [1] Tipsarevic
Seppi [3] d. Monfils
Seppi [3] d. Goffin

...Hmm, a lot of the players here are in slumps, so it is difficult to pick a winner or even the finals. I think this could go to anyone frankly...

Ferrer [1] d. [4] Almagro
Nadal [2] d. [Q] Gulbis
Nadal [2] d. [1] Ferrer

...Pretty standard, really. I think Gulbis will be a very low seed for the French and a semi run here would really help him toward that.

All for now and visit WTABACKSPIN.

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