Monday, June 06, 2016

Roland Garros Recap: Djokovic’s Place in History

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Right now, in history, this BACKSPINNER’S top five is:


Of course, Todd’s would be different though at least three of those five would be in there.

[ Ed.Note: I don't feel I can adequately rank Laver, not having seen him play and feeling that I couldn't give him all the credit he deserves since so much of the ranking would be based on numbers -- and his are impacted by the pro/amateur issue, as well as three of four majors being played on grass in those days, which would have been a boon to, say, the likes of Federer, Sampras and Bjorn Borg (imagine their slam numbers, especially Fed and Pete, if three slams were grass events). From the players whose full careers I've seen, I'd put Federer at the top of the list, but then things get a bit murky. Nadal and Djokovic would be in the Top 5, with Djokovic maybe now barely starting to edge ahead of the Spaniard. He could be past him by the end of the summer with another slam run (or two, or a Gold in Rio or, gulp, all of the above, which IS possible). I'd have Sampras in the five, but I think I'd have Andre Agassi either equal or slightly ahead of him because of his great versatility -- AA won all four majors, plus the Olympics, and probably would have won more slams than eight had he been more serious early in his career. Sampras' success was based so much on one shot (his serve) and, much like Nadal, one tournament (Wimbledon - 7 titles in 8 years)... but at least Nadal DID get a Career Slam. So, as of this minute, I'd go with this: 1.Federer, 2.Nadal, 3.Djokovic, 4.Agassi, 5.Sampras for the last two-decade-plus stretch of play. - tds]

Laver would have won more slams than even Federer if not for cruel circumstances. He also won all four in a year twice amid heavy competition. Sampras dominated a much harder era for longer. Djokovic has mainly dominated at a time Federer and Nadal are in the twilight of their careers. He couldn’t live with them at their peak. And Nadal is such a one-surface guy, he really hasn’t performed consistently well out of Roland Garros.

France’s Geoffrey Blancaneaux won the boy’s tournament, beating Felix Auger-Aliassime [Canada] 8-6 in the third and final set of the final. So France do have some joy. It is the second boys’ slam in a row a home town hero has triumphed.

In the rankings Djokovic, Murray, Federer and Nadal round out our top four. Wawrinka is sitting in 5th. Thiem moved up eight places to 7th. Gasquet and Goffin move two places to 10 and 11. In the doubles Melo drops seven places to 8th. The Bryans are back in the top five, at four and five. Mahut is our stand alone number doubles number one, Murray sits at two and Herbert at three. It’s a career high for the Frenchies.

...Most slam finals can be categorised on the memorable scale. Perhaps, like the 2002 AO final where Johansson triumphed, they are remembered for the big upset. Throw in the women’s 2016 FO final into that mix. Sometimes they are famous for being long like the 2012 men’s AO final. And that 1980 Wimbledon final is remembered because it was just so darn good. The 2004 French Open is memorable because Coria did an enormous choke. But some really are forgettable. There has yet to be a Djokovic/Murray grand slam final that is regular. Even regular finals are usually totally forgettable. And this one with its ten breaks and 80 unforced errors was just that. Djokovic won 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. What is there left to say when the two best players in the world can’t even play a very good final. People hated the duopoly of Fedal that existed for six years, but is this really better? No variety, no excitement. At least off the clay there was a Federer versus Nadal rivalry. On no surface is this rivalry close. The thing that is surprising is Djokovic won 27 out of 33 points at the net. Isn’t Murray’s passing shot meant to be one of his best? This BACKSPINNER find himself struggling to sit through even a set between these two. The ‘highlights’ are sometimes too much. There is a real danger that tennis could lose its fans. Few tennis people online and off gave the final a favourable review. To their credit they are a different flavour and if their tennis is your cup of tea this is a great time for you. And, honestly, nothing can be worse than that ’08 Roland Garros final. That was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Anyway, there are other events to focus on. And right now the women’s may just be the more watchable tour.

They’ve done it. Mladenovic/Garcia have won the ladies doubles and their first grand slam. She could have won a total of 18 matches (singles, doubles and mixed). Her total was 11, which is definitely a pass.

The Pastries defeated Makarova/Vesnina 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. Garcia had never been to a final before. Mladenovic was 0-1 in ladies doubles slam finals. The Russians as a pair had been to five and Vesnina three more before that. With five breaks a piece and only four points separating the pairs, this was a dead even contest. The key was that the French pair won just a few more points on their opponent’s serve.

Kiki and Garcia are now ranked 3 and 4. Garcia is up five places from eight, while Mladenovic rises seven from 11th. They are now finally confirmed as the world’s second best pairing. With the second seed at Wimbledon and good history there, they can start to cement their position. With double their points the top ranked Hingis/Mirza are out of reach for the moment. Both Frenchies sit at their career high.

Despite the third round run Kiki slips two places to 32. Better than poor Safarova, who falls from 13th to 29th.

Instead of just linking to one image, this BACKSPINNER is going to send you to Kiki’s Twitter page. Scroll down and have a look. The video will warm your heart.

Mladenovic is also at the Ricoh. She is the third seed and opens with Shvedova. She is not playing the doubles with Garcia, though Mahut is playing the men’s doubles with Bopanna. Different strokes for different folks. These next few weeks are vital for her singles ranking. She has to make at least one or two semi-finals.

At the Rosmalen Ricoh championships played on grass Karlovic [1] will defeat Muller [7] in one semi-final. Tomic [2] will start to give a ‘you-know-what again’. He will beat Querrey [5] and then win the title. He needs to find form and motivation again and he did actually win a match in Paris, don’t forget.

At the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart Federer [1] will defeat Lopez [5] in the first semi-final. Thiem might have a bit of a down after his first massive result at a slam. And Lopez is a tricky quarter-final opponent. Kohlschreiber [7] will edge Dimitrov in the second semi-final. Del Potro is the Bulgarian’s first match on grass this year. Federer will win this tournament and drop a set at most.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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