Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Wk.44- That’s All, Folks

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Todd finished ages ago. Or at least that is what it feels like. Of course, he didn’t. He is still wrapping up the last couple of events. And, really, BACKSPIN is winding up and heading into the season review part of the year. So stick around for that.

Honestly, I get to this part and I feel done. I feel like it’s the end. I feel like Serena after she lost to Vinci, like Djokovic will when he inevitably wins the tour finals. I feel like Clarice Starling does when they caught Buffalo Bill. I feel like Bruce Springsteen after his Born in the U.S.A. tour. I feel finished, done. I have done all there is to be done this year.

So bear with me and pity me. To lack motivation is no small thing and right now I lack it. Djokovic is the heavy favourite going into the finals, but he could have a very stacked group. No doubt there will be a surprise player who does well and I think that will be Kei Nishikori. Look for Berdych to bomb. Where Rafa falls is key, as well. If Novak gets Federer and Nadal, that would be quite a group. I want to see Ferrer win a match, too, just to prove himself though there are players he never beats attending.

Venus Williams is having the season of her life. At some point expect some extra BACKSPIN coverage on her. She has had quite the year and she is proving age is no barrier. Massive kudos goes out to perhaps the most beloved of WTA players. Serena has people who dislike her, though all respect her, but nobody can dislike Venus. To be both popular and a great player is difficult to achieve.

Well, for the last time, let’s a-go exploring. What happened this week?

QUESTION: Which four other players have won as many or more World Tour Finals events as Djokovic?

Top 32 - Kyrgios stays the steady one at 30. Johnson and Chardy swap but still round out the top 32. Dimitrov goes up one to 28, ahead of 29 Seppi.
Top 10 – 400 points separates 9 from 13. Cilic drops two to 13 behind Anderson and Isner, who rose two. Gasquet and Tsonga round out the top ten, though Ritchie leads by over 200 points.
Top 8 – Kei is back down to eight, 300 behind Ferrer. He has barely played since the Open. Ferrer is on the rise and Berdych is falling, but the Czech remains in 6th and ahead by 300 points. Nadal up to five with a ten point lead over Tomas. Nadal is 2000 behind the top four.
Top 4 – Murray and Federer swap. Murray has a big lead now of 1100. Federer is only holding off Wawrinka by 900 points now. Djokovic, of course, stays on top.

S: Novak Djokovic def. Andy Murray 6-2/6-4
D: Dodig/Melo def. Pospisil/Sock

...Novak takes six of the nine Masters events this year and heads into the WTF with a 22-match win streak. Djokovic has gone 78-5 and won 94% of his matches this year. He has been machine-like. It’s almost as if he has been sent from the future to stop Federer and Nadal from winning. He has whipped both this year and made Murray his toy-thing. He has lost to only Federer, Wawrinka, Karlovic and Murray. He has won his tenth title and he isn’t even done. Oh, boy. He started off in typical fashion in the French capital, edging Bellucci 7-5, 6-3 before putting in a fine display to see off Simon 6-3, 7-5. Berdych really pushed Djokovic for once but still lost 7-6[3], 7-6[8]. Berdych has actually started to put together a little consistency late in the year. In the semi-finals there was resistance. Wawrinka pushed Djokovic hard and even took the second set. With the scores poised at 6-3, 3-6, Djokovic turned on all the burners. He went to a level few have ever reached, and none now can reach, then proceeded to blow Wawrinka away 6-0 in the third. And in the final Murray was really no match for the Serb. An easy 6-2, 6-4 victory for Novak. He has obliterated all before him and he has had no challengers this year. He isn’t even done yet. He is far and away the favourite the win the finals event.
...Until Murray finds a way to consistently challenge Djokovic, he will always be a bit disappointing. He’s a bit like a carrot cake with chicken icing. Great all the way through until the last bite. It’s kind of in the job role of the number two in the world. They have to challenge the world number one. Federer did a great job of it. Wawrinka is our focus today. Murray will be the focus for two more weeks after the gap, of course. Let’s ignore the semi-final match. Djokovic bagels a lot of people. He did it to Wawrinka at the Australian this year. Stanimal has done a lot this year, including winning the French and putting together an extremely solid top four year where he has even breached the top three. Here in Paris he showed his rather French flare. Seeded four he beat Tomic 6-3 7-6[8]. Tomic had just dismissed Fognini 6-3, 6-2. Next the Swiss dismissed Troicki 6-4, 7-5. Two very solid wins over tricky opponents had given him confidence. He was blown out by Nadal recently, but in their quarterfinal he had the Spaniard’s measure. He won 7-6[8], 7-6[7] to beat Nadal, his long-time conqueror. Wawrinka now has confidence and form going into the WTF. Not only that, but he also has a set off Djokovic. A dark horse to win it? Certainly.
...Why not have some doubles, too? Possock beat Mathieu/Paire and their home support 6-3, 5-7, 10-7 to open their campaign. They have been an inconsistent but dangerous team all year and are going to London. It is as alternates, but it still kind of counts. Then they ousted 7th seeds Matkowski/Zimonjic 7-6[9], 7-6[2] to advance through to the quarters. The top seeded Bryans were never at the races and they went down 7-6[3], 6-3. The Bryans are falling and quickly. Possock had eliminated the 7th and 1st seeds to make the semi-finals. Inglot and Lindstedt fought hard in the first but went down 7-6[6], 6-1. Then they took the first set against 2nd seeds Dodig/Melo 6-2. But they fell 2-6, 6-3, and 10-5 in an extremely high quality final. Some of the rallies were mind-blowing. They should finish in the top ten this year and deservedly so.
...Noah Rubin beat Kozlov his good friend in the 2014 Wimbledon boys final. No, he is not related. Here is a video of him hitting.

He won that Wimbledon title as a qualifier and did so in Charlotte last week, also. Having qualified he beat Quigley 6-4 in the third from a set down. 6th seed Donaldson was next and again it went three. He won 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. Then he beat Kozlov -- yes, that Kozlov -- 6-4, 6-4. Having seen off his fellow young compatriots he then edged veteran Laaksonen 6-2, 7-5 to find himself in the final. Next up was alternate Tommy Paul. Paul is 1-1 in boy’s finals this year. He and Fritz swapped very similar three set scorelines at the French and U.S. Opens. Down two breaks in the second, Rubin came back to win in style 3-6, 7-6[7], 6-3. America’s future is bright. Could Rubin be the brightest light of all?
...It’s disappointing that Marin would go out like this. Sure, he is the 2nd alternate in London. That means nothing. With a week-long gap, Gasquet likely won’t play. Competing for the alternate spot in London he went out in straight sets in the first round. He lost to the even more disappointing Dimitrov 7-6[3], 7-6[2]. With a serve like that, only getting five points in those breakers is criminal. Cilic has had another poor year. The only reason he is going to London is because three other players didn’t want it. He doesn’t deserve to go there. He needs to improve and go back to how he was last year. Federer was also poor. Had Cilic won another match it would be Federer here.
...Federer should really be in the down section. But the benefit of the doubt goes to Isner. The top American played a great game to unseat the Swiss. The on song American needed two breakers to come through, but Federer struggles in Paris and the Yank could take advantage. Isner’s serve, as usual, proved to be the big weapon but this was something of a complete performance. Federer had his chances and he shouldn’t have lost to Isner in three, but in the lotteries of the breaker, Isner’s aggression paid off.

Notes from the week...
1 – Murray can finish number two for the first time
2 – Isner at 11 is about to have his highest ever finish
3 – Venus entered the top ten for the first time in 1998. She just rose to seven by beating Pliskova in the final of the WTA’s final event.
4 – Djokovic had a much harder path to victory than Murray and he swept all before him. Impressive, if you ask me.
5 – Llodra comes back, but this time to coach. He will be helping the Belgians. Could this be a ‘gateway’ role?
6 – Thank you, Nieminen. Jarko the flying Finn has entertained us for 15 years. Ah, well. All good things and that.
7 – Paire is taking on a small challenger event in France this week. Seeded 23, he is the top seed by a long way. It’s a great decision. Money, confidence and wins should all be his.

1. Paris QF - Muray d. Gasquet 7-6[7], 3-6, 6-3
...Murray faked a back injury throughout the whole match but still came through in three long sets. The clash of styles was watchable with both exchanging drop shots and backhands. Gasquet has been showing a lot of mental toughness as of late and he is a deserved world number nine.
2. Paris QF - Wawrinka d. Nadal 7-6[8, 7-6[7]
...Nadal comes back in the second set but cannot take it to three. Wawrinka was up 5-4 30-15 in the second but missed two sitters. Then he saved set points in the breaker before finally closing it out. This was a high quality match where Wawrinka finally showed his stuff.
3. Paris 3rd Rd. - Isner d. Federer 7-6[3], 6-3, 7-6[5]
...Federer disappoints as Isner serves up a storm. Isner held his nerve after Fed saved several match points. Isner gave us a good upset to close out his season. He will be as inconsistent as ever next season but he will also be dangerous in Melbourne.
4. Paris Final - Djokovic d. Murray 6-2, 6-4
...This was Murray’s year writ small. He beat a slew of talented but lesser players on the way to a final with Djokovic. Once there he got blown away. In this final, Murray was never in contention. He really is not the world number two, not really. He just does not have it against Djokovic…

ANSWER: Federer is the obvious one. You should have gotten Sampras and Lendl, too. The fourth player is Ille Nastase.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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