Monday, September 07, 2015

U.S. Open Day 7: Seven Days and Champions to Go

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

I have returned from Springfield. This is not a travel blog and so comment on Springfield will not be made here. Except to say all one would have to do is to imagine Baltimore, but smaller and slightly better. And that would be Springfield. But in the tennis we have gone from six former champions in the men’s draw to four. In the ladies, Kuznetsova and Sharapova went down to give us just three left. Williams, Williams and Stosur. By the time we get to the semi-finals it could be as few as one on the ladies and two on the men’s.

Welcome to SABR. What is SABR you ask? Well you can find out all about it here.

The U.S. Open now has its biggest weekend as people flood in on the Monday to see world class tennis. In the men’s doubles the upsets just keep on coming. The quarterfinals aren’t even determined yet and the highest seed in the top section left is the eighth seed. Peers/Murray should make the final. The biggest seeds left are the third and sixth seeds, but they are slated to meet in the semi-finals.

QUESTION: 32 for America, 28 for Australia, nine each for Britain and France and seven for Sweden. With Andy Murray feeling the pressure, already could this be Australia’s year to win the Davis Cup again? Sweden last won it in 1998, France 2001, Great Britain 1936 [they’ve never won it in the Open Era] and America in 2007. But when did the Aussies last take home the Cup?

...Let’s start with Cilic. He’s earned it, after all. He may not have beaten a string of the world’s best players all in a row but he has beaten the man in front of him. He is playing the role of defending champion perfectly here. And if the stars have aligned themselves a little then that’s just gravy. He could well make the semi-final again, although Tsonga’s starting to catch fire. Cilic won 6-3, 2-6, 7-6[2], 6-1. The match essentially went once Cilic took that third set. Cilic leads the tournament in aces with 82 ahead of Anderson on 69. He is really starting to cook. Incredibly, Venus leads the women. Cilic hit 52 winners to just 23 errors and broke 3 times to 2. Tsonga has a slightly smaller serve [albeit fractionally] but a bigger game overall. Expect tiebreakers in that one.
...Djokovic led 6-3, 4-2. He had had a double break in the second set, too. But then the Spaniard reeled off four in a row to take it. He eventually folded and lost 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in over three hours. It’s exactly the kind of match Djokovic didn’t want. Agut is unflappably solid with a good forehand and serve. He hit 34 winners with only 28 errors. Djokovic hit 42 winners but he also hit 37 errors, which is really high for him. There were 11 breaks in this match but it was still high quality. On set point in the second, the rally lasted some 25 shots with both players defending and, err, offending frequently before Agut finally managed to crack Novak’s forehand. With players like the Spaniard and Venus finding some serious form, the Top Ten at the end of the year will be very interesting. Novak moves on to play Lopez, another Spaniard, and that is a very tricky match indeed. Djokovic no doubt will know Feliciano’s game very well.
...Tsonga was the only one of the three Frenchie’s featured to go through. And it was uncomplicated as he came through 6-4, 6-3 and 6-4. Paire has put together a solid, consistent run here. He will be rewarded, of course, but more importantly he has found some form. Ten aces and no break points given up. On court for just an hour and forty minutes. Just 13 points dropped on serve. Tsonga is close to completing the Nalbandian slam which is where one makes the semi-finals of all four majors. Tsonga runs into the defending champion next but he has the form and the ability to win. He is even perhaps the favourite. But like all Frenchmen he has the ability to mentally shutdown or just throw in an awful match. And yet he could be one of only a very small group of players to make the semi-finals at two majors.
...The first thing to note and to make clear is that BACKSPIN sends its congratulations to the U.S. Open organization team. Well done for putting this match on Armstrong. These two players deserve to be in the fourth round and it’s good that that fact has been recognized. And they’re plenty entertaining, too. But it was Lopez who blew by Fognini 6-3, 7-6[5], 6-1. Both men have carved out very respectable careers and Lopez now makes a fourth slam quarter-final. Fognini hit 28 winners to 27, but his 40 errors were just too many. And in this kind of a match that number is ridiculous. Lopez dropped serve just once and broke his opponent four times. It will be a lefty Spaniard who faces Djokovic just not the one we thought. Lopez has to drag the match into tiebreakers and try to snatch a set here or there. He also has to try to keep Nova guessing on the return, but then he does have fantastic service variety.

In the women’s doubles some order has been restored. Seeds 1,3,4,5 and 9 are all still around, though we do not have the completed quarter-final line-up yet. Casey and Yaroslava will play either the twelfth seeds A-Pavs/Alla Kud or 17th seeds Vinci/Knapp. After that they have achieved their seeding and made the semi-finals. They should meet 5th seeds Garcia/Srebotnik in that semi-final.

ANSWER: In 2003, Mark Phillippoussis, Lleyton Hewitt and Woodbridge/Arthurs beat Spain in Melbourne. Could this be the year they win it again? Could this be the start of an era of dominance for them?

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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