Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wk.16- The New Swiss Master

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

It is 32 days until the French, the same amount of seeds we are going to have. Wawrinka is the best player in the world right now. He has gone 6-0 against the top ten, and has won the last match in his head-to-head with the Big Four. He also leads the points race and has the most titles of anyone this year with three. He has now won his maiden slam, a maiden 1000 and if the draw falls his way [Nadal injured or losing early] he could win his second slam. For those who thought his slam victory was a fluke [not me, he beat Djokovic] this gave solid evidence to the contrary. He was a class act all week and dismissed several good players before showing his mettle in a win over compatriot and Swiss number two Federer.

I fear for Nadal and Djokovic. Over the years they have pushed their bodies to beyond what is medically advisable. There are signs, small indicators really, that perhaps show that Father Time is beckoning. It was the earliest Nadal exit at a clay tournament since 2009, when Soderling gave Federer his grand slam by ousting the Spaniard. Also, Nadal had a 30-match winning streak on the dirt which has now been snapped. I will be surprised if we see either Nadal or Djokovic compete for the Olympics. What happens when they eventually tumble out of the Top 10? Will they still be contenders? I don't think anyone will have Federer's longevity at the same level, or not for a while at least. Murray has already reached the crest of the hill it seems. The stars of today are starting to look like the stars of yesterday, albeit very very gradually.

Tsonga is back. Or is he? He played tennis of the highest standard for most of his match with the Fed. He saved so many break points before Fed finally overwhelmed him. Sixteen chances came and went. Berdych? I don't even know what's going on there. Delpo is out for a while with another wrist problem. Gasquet has been having problems with injury, too. The Top 10 is in disarray, especially the big guys. I am starting to doubt Nadal's ability to defend his RG crown. In fact, I think the chance for a surprise winner is a good one.

But enough of my talking, tennis happened this week and this is kinda how it went.

S: Stanislas Wawrinka def. Roger Federer 4-6/7-6(5)/6-2
D: Bryan/Bryan def. Dodig/Melo

...Really, who else could I choose? The guy is so good right now, it is beyond a joke. He has the best backhand in tennis, a serve that is difficult to break at the best of times and, seemingly, few flaws or weaknesses. Federer confused him with the serve-volley for a while but Wawrinka soon found a way just like he has all year long. I think Wawrinka will make another slam final this year if he remains fit. I also think the Swiss will romp to Davis Cup victory. Stan the Man opened his title bid with a love and two drubbing of Cilic. Almagro claims he was injured, but really he was scared to play Wawrinka. He decided to take the easy way out and forfeit the match beforehand. I would have done the same. Next, Wawrinka dismissed Raonic in straight sets, staying in control throughout the match and losing just eight games. In the opening set of his semi against Ferru, Nadal's conqueror, he hit sixteen winners in the opening set and played the finest set of tennis I have seen all year. He struggled through the inevitable Spanish fight-back in the next set and eventually closed it out 6-1/7-6. He then out-mentaltoughed [not a word, but it sure sounds like one] Fed to win his maiden 1000 level. Wawrinka is the dawn of a post-Fedalovic era it seems.
...Expectations were low coming into Monte Carlo for recently returned Ferru. The Spaniard who has been in the Top 10 for as long as I can remember [I genuinely struggle to recall a time when he wasn't] and he was back from a slight injury. It looked as if he would grind out a couple of matches before losing somewhat respectably to Nadal. The usual, basically. It started off well. Ferru dismissed Chardy 6-3/6-0, improving as the match went on and eventually crushing his opponent with ease. Next up was Dimitrov in a hotly anticipated match. It was the up and coming star of tomorrow against the wily veteran of last week [Ferrer is old in tennis terms] and that always promises a great match. This time, the veteran was too strong, getting through a tough first set before rolling through to a 6-4/6-2 decision. Ferrer then provided the upset of the tournament, perhaps the year, with a 7-6/6-4 win over Nadal, the eight-time champion. He beat Rafa 7-1 in the breaker, but even that impressive performance could not help him get past Wawrinka, the king who is risen. Ferru will likely be a semifinalist at the French once more, but I do not think the trophy will have a Spanish name on it this year. On that note, is it a funny coincidence that the top four all hail from countries beginning with S?
...Rosol turned up this week. Yep -- a surprise to everyone including the man himself, no doubt. The Czech and one-time ATP winner had a good tournament, making the third round before running into Federer playing like he used to. Rosol dismissed Donskoy 7-5/6-1 to open his Monte Carlo tournament. After beating the Russian qualifier, he faced another qualifier. This one was French and a much more talented opponent. Llodra, five times a titlist, had been as high as 21 but has slipped down now in the singles, mostly due to his increased attention to doubles. Rosol needed a break in each set to win 6-4/6-4 and set up a meeting with the Fedexpress. He even challenged for a while, before the Swiss inevitably broke him down and then cruised to a 6-4/6-1 victory. Rosol will likely pick up another 250 this year, if he can only keep his brain switched on during matches .
FRESH FACE: Garcia-Lopes, ESP
...Guess who made their maiden clay masters 1000 quarterfinal? Yep! Not only that, but he made his first 1000 QF since Shanghai 2010. He is just 5-4 at Monte Carlo lifetime, but he is currently in the form of his lifetime, so really anything is possible.
...The talented dirtballer won 7-5/4-6/6-2 against a seriously slumping Paire in the first round of Monte Carlo. The fact he lost to the Djoker 1 and 0 is of little importance. The Spaniard is 33 and has been to 11 finals, losing just 5. He even won one last year. Two of his last three title wins have come against Monfils. The Spaniard has consistently been in the Top 100. He is somewhere between journeyman and serious clay specialist. He has played most of the big guys, though he never defeated one. He has made all his finals and career breakthroughs on the red stuff. He is a Spaniard through and through, though he is getting on a bit. Mind you, that seems to only inspire Ferru so maybe Montanes can think the same way, too.
...A 6-4/6-2 loss to Llodra is never acceptable. I didn't even know Llodra could break serve that many times. I want to know what is going on with the young Pole. Is it injury or just a huge loss of form? Either way, he is in a Safin-like slump and it is hard to see when he will be out of it, or even what could drag him out of it.
UPSET: Garcia-Lopez, ESP
...Credit to Ferru for beating Nadal, but GGL beat an on form Berdman despite being exhausted from winning a title just previously. That takes serious mental and physical strength. He won 4-6/6-3/6-1. GGL also eased past Dolgopolov with little trouble.

1. MONTE CARLO Final - Wawrinka d. Federer
Wawrinka is the master. He is the master of tennis and he is the master of Roger Federer. God knows he has waited for this day. For a long time, Wawrinka and Ferrer were the second best players in their respective countries. They were far better than anyone else except the number one who was far better than them. With a come from behind victory, in which he got stronger and stronger, Wawrinka made a statement of intent.
The Frenchman was the better player, but once Federer snuck that second set in a long breaker, Tsonga's mental fortitude started to shake, then wobble before crumbling magnificently. Tsonga played like the Jo of old here and really outclassed Fed for two sets. The switching off in the third set was also classic Jo-Wilfried Tsonga it must be said.
Winning the breaker 7-1 was perhaps the most impressive feature of this very impressive performance from the Spanish number two, Ferru may have beaten a somewhat subdued Nadal, but it was a hard earned victory and his first in ten years on clay over Rafa. Only three other players have beaten Nadal twice or more -- Gaudio, Federer and Djokovic.
The scoreline literally speaks for itself here. Just look at that scoreline. Vavsy had the decency to forewarn us he was going to win the title.

Nadal [1] d. [3] Fognini
Ferrer [2] d. [5] Robredo
Nadal [1] d. [2] Ferrer

...I back Robredo again, but really this draw picks itself. Nadal will reign supreme once more and get revenge over Ferru in the final, but drop a set to the ever fabulous Fognini. Expect the scoreline against the Italian to be ridiculous, possibly something like 6-0/5-7/6-0. Fognini is unpredictable in such a fun way, and he challenged Nadal at the French last year, too.

Dimitrov [1] d. [3] Monfils
Simon [4] d. [2] Youzhny
Dimitrov [1] d. [4] Simon

...Dimitrov and Monfils are by far the best players here and Dimi has the best form. Throw in the fact he's the top seed and I'm pretty confident with this call. Which of course means Rosol will easily roll to victory, without losing a set.

Thanks all and visit WTABACKSPIN please.

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