Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Wk.1- A New Year for Old Faces

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

.I hope your holidays went well. We start our new tennis year with tradition: Stosur bombs in Australia, an Aussie wins a home tournament, Serena looks very dominant and we talk about just how darned hot it is down there. And, boy, is it hot down there.

Anyway, this week an upset. Yes, that's the one. The Chargers beat the Bengals. I know. Crazy. It is mostly Dalton's fault. Cincy really are in a mess despite having a good coaching staff, good players and a talented, if erratic, quarterback. But I digress. I am not here to talk about the NFL, thankfully. I am here to talk about a certain racquet sport. And the upset, to which I refer, is Hewitt turning back the clock to defeat Federer. Federer did not turn up until the second set and Hewitt took advantage. With their combined age of 64, these two veterans - who have played in a grand slam final and several semifinal s- played for the 27th time. After the victory, Hewitt improved to 9-18 all time.

Also, the world number one and the defending champion of the US Open and the French Open won. I suppose that is worth mentioning.

S: Lleyton Hewitt def. Roger Federer 6-1/4-6/6-3
D: Fyrstenberg/Nestor d. Cabal/Farah

S: Rafael Nadal def. Gael Monfils 6-1/6-7/6-2
D: Berdych/Hajek d. Peya/Soares

S: Stanislas Wawrinka def. Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-5/6-2
D: Brunstrom/Nielsen d. Draganja/Pavic

ABU DHABI (exhibition)
Novak Djokovic d. David Ferrer

...It may surprise you to learn that Hewitt was ranked 60 before his title run. After the run, he is now at 43 in the world. He beat rising star Kokkinakis in straight sets to advance to the next round, where he edged Lopez in two sets. He dismissed Copil 6-4, 6-2 before coming from behind to edge Nishikori in the semifinals. He stunned Federer 6-1 in the first before clinging on for victory 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. He won his eighth title on Australian soil and his 29th title overall from 45 finals. He won a title every year from 1998 up until 2008. This was his first title since Halle in June 2010, where he beat Federer in three sets. Hewitt will be a very dangerous floater at the Aussie and nobody will be happy to play him early. In fact, if he can keep up his form, he may yet be seeded at the coming slams. With the win, Hewitt took over as the Australian number one ahead of Tomic at 52 and Matosevic at 56. Not only that, but it is the first time since 2010 he has been in the top fifty.
...I don't think Nadal can actually rise anymore, what with him owning two grand slams and being world number one. So, we turn to enigmatic Frenchman Gael Monfils. Monfils will now be seeded at a grand slam for the first time since the Aussie last year and this is good for everyone. Still, there is usually one top seed who gets a horror draw and, with Hewitt floating, it could be anyone. Anyway, this week Monfils opened his tournament against talented Colombian Giraldo, who he beat 7-6, 6-2. He was too consistent for an injured Gasquet and he then put away Brands 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals to make it into the semis without the loss of a set. Mayer had upset Murray in three, but Monfils droped just five games to the German. Despite not losing a set in getting to the final, Nadal was still too good for him and Monfil lost in three. Still, the signs are positive and a deep run in Australia is always a possibility, especially if the draw is kind. A few of the big seeds are looking vulnerable. Ferrer, Berdych, Murray and Gasquet all look there for the taking. Do any of them -Ferrer aside, perhaps- have the physicality and patience right now to grind down Monfils over five sets?
...Much like most celebrities nowadays, I had never heard of Gojo. Until ,that is, he made the semifinals of Doha this past week. He won an ITF title in Ningbo in September. He also made the second round of the US Open where he lost to Donskoy in five sets. He turned pro in 2006 and he was born in a town called Dachau, which is not to be confused to with the other Dachau. The Dachau he was born in is just outside of Munich. But I digress. Gojo beat Thiem to advance to the second round where he played Kohlschreiber. In the upset of the tournament, he beat Kohl in a pair of breakers. He edged Brown in a third set breaker in the battle of the German qualies. After that, he faced off against Nadal. He took the first set before fading and Nadal won 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. It has been a postive week for the German and he has been rewarded with a good seeding in the qualifying for the Australian. He is ranked sixteen, which means that if he fulfills his seeding, he will make his second grand slam main draw in a row. In his little section are Zverev and Cipolla. He opens with Olivetti.
...He was as high as eighteen in the world rankings but he has slipped to 36 now. At age 30, time is running out. There are examples of veterans staying in the upper echelons -Haas, Federer- but they have much simpler games than Mayer does. At time it looks as if he doesn't know what he'll do next. Watching him against Murray showed his best and worst sides. At his best, he is confusing, tricky and nigh on impossible to beat. At his worst, he looks like he is trying new shots on the practice courts. He will be a player that nobody will want to get in the first round of the Aussie.
...The comeback continues as the Croat prepares for the slam he made his first and only semifinal appearance in. He edged Istomin in three very tight sets before knocking out fifth seeded Dimitrov 7-5, 7-5. He set up a meeting with second seeded Nishikori with victory over the Bulgarian. Despite beating Kei at the US Open in 2012, Nishikori owned their head-to-head 3-2. Cilic lost the first tight set but won the next before fading in the third. Cilic will be yet another dangerous floater at the Aussie. his ranking has slipped down to the forties but with good results, he should be seeded for the upcoming slams.
...I would put Berdych here, but he had a harder match and Gasquet was injured, so it falls to Murray. Murray has been disappointing so far. He was poor at the Abu Dhabi event and then lost in the second round here despite a love and love thrashing of Zayed in his opening round. I think 2014 will not go as well for Murray as 2013 did and he has to hope for a decent Aussie Open draw. If he gets a rough draw, I fear he may suffer an early exit.

.Despite being an old man in tennis terms, Hewitt fought past Nishikori in this tight three setter. There were long baselines rallies, drop shots and net charges. It was thoroughly entertaining and had a deserved winner, too.
Despite acquitting himself very well, the upstart German was not quite good enough to beat Nadal, but he gave the Spaniard a scare and he has some big shots, too.
In this match, the grind and fight of Hewitt was enough to grind down Federer.

Del Potro [1] d. [4] Tursunov
Tomic d. [3] Seppi
Del Potro [1] d. Tomic

Ferrer [1] d. [4] Anderson
Isner [3] d. [6] Paire
Isner [3] d. [1] Ferrer

...Todd is so much better than I am at picks, so I will just butcher these then leave you.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN.

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