Thursday, May 26, 2016

Roland Garros Day 5: Nadal Nowhere Near Nadir

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

There are few things you can guarantee in this world. You can guarantee that Cher will outlive us all and that the Republicans will never again have credibility. The Cubs, even this year, will find a way to lose the World Series. And in a century New York will be still be overrated and still an incredible city at the same time. For a long time Rafa Nadal making opponents cry on red dust was another thing written in stone. But then he lost in three sets to Djokovic in 2015.

That match was one of the hardest to watch. This BACKSPINNER was quite depressed watching it, watching the fall of the king. Even as a Federer fan, who had been waiting for the inevitable collapse, it was a brutal match to watch. Rafa faded and faded until he was nothing. He still fought, but a bull with horns fighting isn’t going to get anywhere. And so it proved to be.

But now he has overcome his difficulties and is back in Paris. He is once more obliterating all and sundry. And in lots of ways it really is good to see. A healthy Rafa is what the ATP needs. If he can keep up this firepower, that semi-final will be one to remember.

But what other things happened on the first Thursday?

*Suicide Picks*
MS 1st Rd: Sousa d. Dzumhur {W}
MS 2nd Rd: Chardy d. Pavlasek {W}
MS 3rd Rd: Isner d. Gabashvili
WS 1st Rd: Ivanovic d. Dodin {W}
WS 2nd Rd: Stephens d. Cepede Royg {W}
WS 3rd Rd: Kuznetsova d. Pavlyuchenkova

...The Spaniard has now dropped nine games. In four of his sets his opponent has failed to win two games. The score against the Argentine? 6-3, 6-0, 6-3. Facundo Bagnis had an early break in the first set. It was his first and penultimate hurrah. With 39 errors the Argentine was never quite there. Luckily it was quick and painless. The one and three quarter hour victory gives Nadal his 200th victory at slam level. Strangely Djokovic is already at 216. Federer has 302 wins and Connors 233. Neither Djokovic nor Nadal will catch the Fed but the Connors is certainly in reach. Up next is Granollers and then probably Thiem for Nadal. No bagels there though Granollers will certainly be pushed around.
...This was a match worthy of Chatrier. Baghdatis and Tsonga did battle throughout the day and played a dramatic five setter. Tsonga escaped, scraping a 6-7[6], 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory. Once again the fitness of the Cypriot comes into question. It was a physical match with both players really going for it. At one point Baghdatis so intently chased down a drop-shot he failed to see the net. With only ten breaks and neither man yielding on their first serves, this was a server’s match. Of course, Bagman crumbled towards the end, but it was still a physical contest. Tsonga will be Tsonga and that means coming to the net. He won 32 of 59 net points and that is an area he needs to work on. This was a classic second round Roland Garros match that would’ve kept the crowd very happy.
...Points like this one were practically the norm .

The Djoker joined Roger and Serena as the only players to win 50 matches at all four slams with a very hard fought win over Darcis. The Belgian had nothing to lose and pushed Djokovic, though the Serb eventually triumphed 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. Djokovic only won the break battle by 5-2, and hit 42 unforced errors. It is not something you see ever, really. This was a sloppy win that the top seed had to really earn. It can be so hard to play a player with nothing to lose but is still equipped with weapons. Djokovic returned well but did not break down the Darcis serve. With Bedene and Agut coming up the tests start now.
...There are different ways of winning matches. Subtlety is one, as Santoro will attest to. A big serve is another one, and Isner is a fan of that method. Sticking around for an infuriatingly long period of time like Simon also works. But if you’re Berdych you like to bludgeon the ball. He battered Jaziri into submission with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 win. He threw down 11 aces and 32 winners overall. It sees him through to face Cuevas in the third round. That is a real test and one he needs to win to prove his title credentials. If he can serve like he has been doing he will be fine. This is Berdman we’re talking about, however, and that means anything could happen.
...With a combined age of nearly 70, it was a veteran’s match on Court 1. Ferrer triumphed in four and will face another old Spaniard in the form of Lopez. It also means Djokovic may have to play three Spaniards in a row. It’s funny how such a good modern clay rivalry like this may have just closed the curtains on its last match. Two old warriors battling it out on the red dust of Paris. There’s something medieval about such a contest. Of course, Ferrer moved through, but it isn’t about the result. It’s about the history and the connections. The head to head was tied at 3-3 on clay and 4-4 overall. This may well be the last time they play. And it’s another sign of the end of an era.
...The Croat won 3-6, 6-2, 7-6[4], 7-6[6]. Battling dizziness and the usual overly high expectations, Tomic once again fell before the third round of Roland Garros. Tomic now has to prove it at Wimbledon. He has to show he still has the magic in London. Borna has matched his result from last year with another solid win here. Last year he lost badly to Sock. This year it is harder - he goes up against Agut. The boys combined for 32 aces and some 90 winners in total. There were only five breaks in this very high quality match. Tomic’s forehand again proved to be attackable. Coric has a great chance to make his maiden fourth round.

Mladenovic/Garcia open on Friday. They play on court six against Beck/Wickmayer. Not easy but not a massive banana peel, either. And Mladenovic is at least on form. After her semi-final result last week she has reached the third round here. She broke four times and hit almost twice the winners of her opponent, Timea Babos. She rolled through 6-4, 6-3 but now must face Serena Williams. Ouch.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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