Monday, May 19, 2014

Wk.20- Just About Half-Way...

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Yes. We are roughly half-way through. The French Open starts next Sunday. That means we have smaller tournaments with not much star power this week. Last week, though, everyone went to Italy.

Federer entered Rome but was distracted by the birth of his twins, and Nadal and Djokovic met in the final. This was their 21st final together -- the most all-time.. Nadal is down 12-9, though he leads on the clay courts 13-4. Djokovic has not lost to Nadal this year, winning in Miami 6-3/6-3. The Spaniard has not won Miami or Paris [he has only entered Paris four times], but he has been to four finals in Key Biscayne. He got to the final in '05, '08, '11 and '14. The slams, the Masters, the Davis Cup, the Olympics and the end of year tournament are the tournaments considered most important. Nadal is missing the year end championships as well as those two Masters titles. Agassi was missing Hamburg and Monte Carlo. Federer and Djokovic are both missing a lot. I do not think anyone will ever win all of them and I also think it will be a serious ask for anyone to outdo Agassi's collection.

This French Open is exactly what it says on the packet. Open. I think we could have two surprise winners come June. In the women's, I am thinking that how Sharapova does will largely depend on where she lands with regards to Williams. If she lands in the quarter of Williams, she makes the quarterfinal. If she lands anywhere else, she has an excellent chance of winning. I think what will happen in the men's will be similar to what happens most years. Nadal will be pushed to four, maybe even five sets, in his first couple of matches. He will then, when he looks most vulnerable, rip through several opponents and simply get stronger and stronger. I doubt that he will win Wimbledon, or defend his US title, but I think he will beat someone Swiss in the final.

In Rome, Raonic and Dimitrov both had their best performances on the dirt. They also both had one of their best ever performances at a Masters event. I have a feeling one of them will land in the section of the draw where a top four seed lies. Federer/Dimitrov in the 4th Round would be the one I would love to see. I think Raonic versus Nadal is the one with the biggest upset chance because Nadal can struggle against the bigger servers who do not necessarily fear him. Who can forget Isner's match against the king a couple years back?

Another note: Zimjonic and Nestor won back-to-back doubles titles. They did not lose a set in Rome and that included an impressive 6-4/6-2 victory over the Bryans.

Right. Enough of my talking, stuff happened this week...

S: Novak Djokovic d. Rafael Nadal 4-6/6-3/6-3
D: Nestor/Zimonjic d. Bryan/Bryan

...Djokovic improved to 19-22 with his victory over Nadal in the final. This rivalry is not what it once was, but every now and then it still gives us a classic. It did so here. Djokovic said he could beat Nadal easily or similar after he lost in the French Open all those years ago. Since then this rivalry has grown and grown. They managed to hold off the future. Djokovic opened with the tricky Czech Stepanek [Vaidisova's ex-husband] but got past him via a 6-3/7-5 decision. Kohl was up next for the world number two. The German has had an okay but not spectacular year. He remains always dangerous but rarely consistent like so many players. He took the first set like he did during the 2009 French Open. He won in straight sets then but not in Rome. Djokovic lost just three more games. He played Ferru next. In an epic arm wrestle, he subdued the Spanird 6-3 in the third. Ferrer could not out-grind the Serb, but he did better than Nadal. That is at least something. He needed three hours to eliminate Raonic 6-7/7-6/6-3. He hit just 12 winners in that match, a low amount. The Canuck managed to hit twice that.

Next would come the final.

Djokovic hit six aces and no doubles. He also hit 46 winners to the Spaniard's 15 whilst both had around 30 unforced errors. Djokovic also had fourteen break chances, though Nadal had just 6. Djokovic got better and better as the match drew on. Nadal soon became unable to live with Djokovic and finally crumbled when one last errant backhand flew long.
...The Canadian has a simple game. Simple games always work the best. Those with more complex games, Niculescu and Gulbis come to mind, are not consistently successful. It could be for this reason. They have about a thousand shots but only thirty seconds maximum to decide which shot they should play. With Raonic, it is simple. Cannon on the first serve, smaller cannon on the second serve and then exploit the gap. In the rallies and return games it is also simple. If there is an opening, exploit it. If not, continue to rally until there is an opening. For those who love simplicity, Raonic is the best. With the Fed exiting early, the path was fully open for the young star to make a run. He beat Bolelli 6-3/7-6 in his opening match. Bolelli beat qualifier Travaglia in the first round, 7-6 in the third. Raonic beat struggling Tsonga 7-6/6-4 in the next round. Tsonga will almost certainly not defend his French Open points, which means he will slip down the rankings. Raonic moved on after winning the serving duel. He was challenged by Chardy, but played a perfect match with the exception of a small blip in the third. He won 6-3/5-7/6-2. Djokovic finally ended his run, but only with a lot of effort. Raonic has made the quarterfinals of every single Masters this year, Madrid aside. He lost to Kei, an excusable loss. Our next Masters will be in Canada. That feels like a long way away from where I'm sitting.
...He just turned 36. I find that incredible. He was a seed at a Masters for the first time in the 1999 Indian Wells tournament. Moya, Sampras, Kafelnikov, Corretja, Rafter, Henman, Krajicek, Rios, Agassi, Phillippoussis were the top ten seeds then. It always surprises me when Haas makes another great run. It shouldn't, but it does.
...It is a third Masters quarterfinal for the Frenchman, but his first on clay. He has been to the quarters of a slam, too. He has gone beyond the second round twice since the Cincy Masters in 2012. He made the third round of Rome last year. He will be seeded for the French Open, I think.
...The Austrian was a late bloomer. He will turn 33 on Thursday. He was ranked as high as 8 on the 18th of April 2011 but is now sitting at 59 in the world. He had an excellent two and a half years from 2010-2012. He has been to three 500 level finals, winning one. In fact he beat Raonic in Memphis in 2012. He also famously upset Djokovic in five long sets at Roland Garros in 2010. He was two sets to none down and being pushed all over the place. He started to use that little drop shot he has more and and more. He started to be aggressive with the backhand, and got over his nerves and rattled Djokovic's cage. Once that happened he was able to get victory. In Rome he beat Isner 7-6/6-3. He won that breaker 9-7. That was an impressive victory. He followed that up with a tough three-set win over Cilic, recovering from the loss of a tight second set breaker. It is hard to know if he is back but the signs are certainly positive.
...The Spaniard lost in the qualies. He lost to Travaglia of Italy. He lost in straight sets. That is unacceptable for a player of his standard. This is his surface and he should be dismissing qualifiers. He was seeded third and he should have played that way. He has been out of form, but even an out of form Montanes is better than a rookie qualifier. It is disappointing, but the Spaniard is still someone nobody wants to land in the first round.
...Fognini has been having a good, if somewhat inconsistent, clay season. He is top fifteen for a reason. He deserves to be there. He does not, unfortunately, always play his best, matches do not always go his way. This was proved when he lost to Rosol 6-3/6-2.

Murray, probably the worst claycourter in the top ten, nearly beat Nadal in Rome. That might have been upset of the year. Nadal had looked poor all week and Murray took full advantage of this, running up a 6-1 opening set. Nadal ground his way back into it and then broke in a lengthy game in the third. He went up 1-0 and it looked like that third set would go quickly. It didn't. Murray clawed his way back into it, but it was not enough.
Dimitrov beat Berdman again. He has upset him in a Masters previously, though that was on hard courts. Dimitrov proved that he really is here to stay. He rebounded from a very disappointing first set. He lost it right at the end but managed to gather mentally and then dominate his opponent. It was a strong showing.
... 7-5/ 4-6/6-3..
Djokovic proved too strong for Ferrer once again. Ferrer needs to mix it up to beat the big guys. He is always the gatekeeper never the gatekept. Maybe he should serve/volley?
Raonic will be world number one at some point. The old guard still cling on, but as Father Time grows stronger so their grip grows ever weaker. Tommy Haas aside..

2006 Roland Garros QF - RC - Nadal 2-0 ret.
2007 Indian Wells F - HC - Nadal 2-0
2007 Miami QF - HC - Djokovic 2-0
2007 Rome QF - RC - Nadal 2-0
2007 Roland Garros SF - RC - Nadal 3-0
2007 Wimbledon SF - G - Nadal 1-1 ret.
2007 Montreal SF - HC - Djokovic 2-0
2007 Masters Cup RR - HC - Nadal 2-0
2008 Indian Wells SF - HC - Djokovic 2-0
2008 Hamburg SF - RC - Nadal 2-1
2008 Roland Garros SF - RC - Nadal 3-0
2008 London F - G - Nadal 2-0
2008 Cincinnati SF - HC - Djokovic 2-0
2008 Beijing SF - HC - Nadal 2-1
2009 Davis Cup 1st - RC - Nadal 2-1
2009 Monte Carlo F - RC - Nadal 2-1
2009 Rome F - RC - Nadal 2-0
2009 Madrid SF - RC - Nadal 2-1
2009 Cincinnati SF - HC - Djokovic 2-0
2009 Paris SF - HC - Djokovic 2-0
2009 Masters Cup RR - HC - Djokovic 2-0
2010 US Open F - HC - Nadal 3-1
2010 ATP Finals RR - HC - Nadal 2-0
2011 Indian Wells F - HC - Djokovic 2-1
2011 Miami F - HC - Djokovic 2-1
2011 Madrid F - RC - Djokovic 2-0
2011 Rome F - RC - Djokovic 2-0
2011 Wimbledon F - G - Djokovic 3-1
2011 US Open F - HC - Djokovic 3-1
2012 Australian Open F - HC - Djokovic 3-2
2012 Monte Carlo F - RC - Nadal 2-0
2012 Rome F - RC - Nadal 2-0
2012 Roland Garros F - RC - Nadal 3-1
2013 Monte Carlo F - RC - Djokovic 2-0
2013 Roland Garros SF - RC - Nadal 3-2
2013 Montreal SF - HC - Nadal 2-1
2013 US Open F - HC - Nadal 3-1
2013 Beijing F - HC - Djokovic 2-0
2013 ATP Finals F - HC - Djokovic 2-0
2014 Miami F - HC - Djokovic 2-0
2014 Rome F - RC - Djokovic 2-1

21 - Rafael Nadal/Novak Djokovic*
20 - Roger Federer/Rafael Nadal*
20 - Ivan Lendl/John McEnroe
16 - Andre Agassi/Pete Sampras
16 - Boris Becker/Stefan Edberg
15 - Jimmy Connors/John McEnroe
13 - Boris Becker/Ivan Lendl
12 - Bjorn Borg/Jimmy Connors

27...Rafael Nadal*
21...Roger Federer*
19...Novak Djokovic*
17...Andre Agassi
11...Pete Sampras
9...Andy Murray*
8...Thomas Muster

100 - Mike Bryan*
98 - Bob Bryan*
85 - Daniel Nestor*
83 - Todd Woodbridge
78 - John McEnroe
78 - Tom Okker

Isner [1] d. Thiem
Monfils [3] d. [2] Gulbis
Monfils [3] d. [1] Isner

Kohlschreiber [1] d. [3] Seppi
Granollers [2] d. [8] Sijsling
Kohlschreiber [1]d. Granollers [2]

Thanx all and visit WTABACKSPIN please.

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