Monday, June 22, 2015

Wk.24- Roger & Andy... but no Galileo

Hello, all. Todd here.

Yep, Galileo is away yet again. Lucky for you (or not), I have no life... so I'm here for a quick Top 10 tip-in after another historic ATP weekend involving a Roger Federer title run that coincides with our regular recapper being unable to bathe in the joy of it all.

Hmmm, the last time I was here after a regular season week was also -- just as this one is -- following an Andy Murray title run. Coincidence, or something more? Oh, I'm sure it's nothing. (Wink, wink.)

S: Roger Federer def. Andreas Seppi 7-6(1)/6-4
D: Klaasen/Ram d. Bopanna/Mergea

S: Andy Murray def. Kevin Anderson 6-3/6-4
D: Herbert/Mahut d. Matkowski/Zimonjic

1. Roger Federer's title run in Halle gives him eight at the event. It's just the fifth time a man has been crowned champion so often at a single tournament, but only three different men have managed to pull off such a feat in ATP history. I'm guessing you can figure out one of them, as he holds the overall record with his nine titles at that little get-together in Paris that comes around every spring. Federer's just-completed run didn't include a win over a Top 20 player (his highest-ranked opponent was #27 Ivo Karlovic in the SF), and he barely escaped his match with Philipp Kohlschreiber early in the week, barely pulling away to win the 3rd set tie-break. But the joy he showed in winning the final (his tenth in Halle) over Andreas Seppi shows that he's heading to Wimbledon with confidence. He's serving well -- something that's a LITTLE important at SW19 -- and is knocking out tie-breakers like he's Ronda Rousey (Ha! That might be the first-ever MMA reference on ATP Backspin! See the history that Galileo is missing?). He won all six of the TB he played last week.

2. After having the best clay court season of his career, Andy Murray has picked right back up on the grass. At the Queen's Club tournament in London, even after being forced to play two matches on Sunday, the Scot locked away his Open era record-tying fourth crown at the event. Rain forced the resumption (at 3-3 in the 1st) of Murray's Saturday semi against Viktor Troicki, which he wrapped up in a decisive 1:05. Later in the day, Kevin Anderson didn't have any luck, either, as Murray looked fresh and was dominant in a straight sets win. He's won this title every other year since 2009, and the last time he did (2013) he went on to win his first Wimbledon (non-Olympic) title a few weeks later. So, one has to ask, who's the favorite when next week starts? Murray or Novak Djokovic? Something that may be important: four of Murray's six losses this year have come against the Serb. But, of course, nothing says they have to meet at the AELTC. Murray will be the #3 seed, though, so a semifinal clash is a possibility.
3. So, one expects Djokovic to be ready next week. And Federer, Murray and Nadal have all won tune-up events on grass heading into SW19. What about the new ATP stars, one year after Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic reached the SF at the '14 Wimbledon? Well, things aren't particularly looking encouraging. Dimitrov lost in the 2nd Round in London to Gilles Muller, while Raonic returned following surgery on a pinched nerve in his foot and lost in the QF of the same event to Gilles Simon. Nick Kyrgios was taken out by Stan Wawrinka in the 1st Round at Queen's Club, and then the Roland Garros champ was put out by Kevin Anderson a round later. Meanwhile, Kei Nishikori retired with a calf injury in the Halle semis.

Of course, none of that matters until next week.
4. Dimitrov is at least saying all the right things about remaining positive. Still, aside from the usual annual nominees (del Potro, Monfils), the Bulgarian is likely in the lead in the "Most Disappointing Season" race as the summer begins. He's fallen outside the Top 10 (even below Rafa, who at least won a grass title the other week), is just 18-11 and has reached just two semis in twelve events, and zero finals.

5. In doubles, Nicolas Mahut was playing on grass. So you just knew SOMETHING was going to happen. As it turned out, he won his ninth career title, teaming with Pierre-Hugues Herbert to take the London crown. The duo reached the final last week in the Rosmalen event, as well. Mahut has won twelve singles/doubles titles on the ATP tour, and this is the fifth that has come on the grass, with all coming since 2013 for the now 33-year old Frenchman.
6. Ivo Karlovic may have lost in the Halle semis to Federer, but the big Croat set the ATP record for aces (45) in a three-set match earlier in the week against Tomas Berdych. Naturally, Ivo already shared the mark, having previously been tied with Aussie Mark Philippoussis with 44 aces in a match.

7. Stan Wawrinka will be the only tennis player to pose nude in ESPN's Body Issue this year. The issue goes on sale in July.

8. Kei Nishikori, who retired in the Halle semifinals with a calf injury, says that he expects to be fine for Wimbledon.
9. On that note, Wimbledon qualifying is already underway.

The wild cards into the Gentlemen's draw have been handed out:

Liam Broady, GBR (brother of WTA player Naomi, by the way)
Matthew Ebden, AUS
Kyle Edmund, GBR
Lleyton Hewitt, AUS (Rusty's last trip to SW19?)
Brydan Klein, GBR
Denis Kudla, USA
Nicolas Mahut, FRA (shocker!)
James Ward, GBR

Also, what do you think the odds are of Mahut drawing John Isner again? Speaking of odds...

And I guess that answers the previous question posed in #2.
10. Murray is raffling off a tennis ball signed by himself and Fred Perry, the last British man to win the Wimbledon singles title before the Scot ended the 77-year drought in 2013. It's believed to be the only item signed by both Murray and Perry, who died in 1995.


7...Novak Djokovic, SRB (5-2)
5...ANDY MURRAY, GBR (3-2)
3...David Ferrer, ESP (3-0)
3...Stan Wawrinka, SUI (3-0)
3...Kei Nishikori, JPN (2-1)
3...Rafael Nadal, ESP (2-1)
3...Tomas Berdych, CZE (0-3)

9 - Rafael Nadal (Roland Garros)
8 - Rafael Nadal (Barcelona)
8 - Rafael Nadal (Monte Carlo)
8 - Guillermo Vilas (Buenos Aires)

136-19 - Roger Federer
128-40 - Lleyton Hewitt
83-16 - Andy Murray
60-15 - Novak Djokovic
59-31 - Feliciano Lopez

4: Boris Becker - 1985, 1987, 1988, 1996
4: Lleyton Hewitt - 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006
4: John McEnroe - 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984
4: Andy Murray - 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015
4: Andy Roddick - 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007
3: Jimmy Connors - 1972, 1982, 1983

109...Jimmy Connors
94...Ivan Lendl
77...John McEnroe
66...Rafael Nadal

The Aussie put up a main draw win over Lauren Davis last week in Birmingham before falling in the 2nd Round to Jelena Jankovic, losing in straight sets after dropping a 13-11 1st set tie-break. In doubles, with regular partner Yaroslava Shvedova out with an injury, Dellacqua teamed with Sania Mirza, whose regular partner Martina Hingis was taking a week off before rejoining her this week in Eastbourne. Unfortunately, as the #1 seeds, Dellacqua/Mirza lost in straights to Chan Yung-Jan & Zheng Jie, who then went on to hand Halep/Watson a walkover victory in the next round. Yeah, I know... the nerve.

Casey has opened with a singles win over Anna Schmiedlova in Eastbourne.

All for now, and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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