Monday, July 18, 2016

Wk.28- Murray Finds Love in the Eternal City

Hey, all. Galileo here.

Let's go straight into the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Great Britain def. Serbia 3-2
Great Britain defeated Serbia on Belgrade clay 3-1 with the home team claiming the dead rubber. This was a Britain that won without Murray, with Edmund leading the charge. The blonde defeated Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-4, 6-0. Despite Lajovic beating Ward even more comprehensively 6-1, 6-3, 6-2, when Britain won the doubles the tie was done. Inglot/Murray won in the drizzle in four, sending Zimonjic packing. And Edmund sealed it with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6[5] decision to seal a clash with Argentina.

Argentina def. Italy 3-1
On the clay in Pesaro, Italy, Delbonis set the tone early. He defeated Seppi in four grueling sets 7-6[4], 3-6, 6-3, 7-6[3]. This whole Davis Cup weekend was affected by the rain and here it cost the Italians. Fognini had to finish his 6-1, 6-1, 7-5 victory over Monaco on Saturday and then play the doubles. Pella and Delpo winning in five fiery [Del Potro’s passion] sets was the breaking point. Fognini could not muster much the next day as he fell to Delbonis 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5. It was a tie played in good spirits, a tie with great tennis and an occasion where Delbonis got to play hero.

Great Britain faces Argentina in the semi-finals. It’s being played on British soil, so read Glasgow. Britain will lose two singles rubbers and win three-two. With it being right after the U.S. Open concludes it is uncertain who will turn up. If Murray doesn’t the Argentines will win 3-2. The doubles pairings of Great Britain are very good but can be beaten. That’s the key to the whole tie for the Argies. Win that and they probably have it.

France def. Czech Republic 3-1
When Rosol bested Tsonga in five the Frenchies looked in trouble. Coming back from two sets to one down, Rosol won 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6[8], 6-4. He saved match points and even came back from a break down in the fourth set. But Pouille impressively outmuscled Vesely 7-6[2], 6-4, 7-5. Even though Herbert/Mahut looked a little off they still took care of Stepanek/Rosol 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. They should have clinched it in the fourth but Stepsy held his serve in a 12-minute 9th game in the fourth, giving his team momentum. And Tsonga, with not an inconsiderable bit of help from Noah, came back to seal it with a 4-6, 7-6[3], 6-4, 7-5 four set victory. France have dropped just the one rubber thus far. The Croats have dropped four, Great Britain two and the Argies two.

Croatia def. United States 3-2
We had a rare occurrence where all four ties were alive come Sunday. No whitewashes to be found. The funny thing, though, was that only one went to five. Up two-nil with the Bryans on tap, America squandered its lead and fell 3-2 to Croatia. Sock coming back from two to beat Cilic was a highlight. The 23-year old showing his chutzpah and his wicked forehand. Isner dismissing Coric was equally impressive. What followed, though, was disastrous. America’s first ever defeat from two rubbers up. Croatia through, the U.S. in disarray.

Now the problem Croatia has is that there is no team better across all surfaces than France. Even on grass they have the edge. They are also the team with the most talent comparative to least wins. Very little bang for their buck. But Herbert/Mahut will win a rubber. And with Tsonga, Gasquet, Pouille, a healthy Monfils, Simon and Benneteau to choose from, they will find the two other wins somewhere. So Croatia are massive underdogs there. But if I were them I would choose the surface Cilic feels best on. The other wildcard is the consistency of the French. It definitely varies.

Right, let’s take a look at post Wimbledon tournaments now. And we have clay and grass for you to sink your teeth into.

Top 32 - Sousa and Simon fall two but sit at 32 and 30 respectively. Ramos-Vinolas up two to 31. Klizan is up 19 places to 28.
Top 10 – No change. Thiem, Tsonga, Goffin are 9-11. Cilic and Ferrer have the same amount of points but Ferrer is at 13.
Top 8 – No change. Kei still barely leads Raonic. While Kei is 500 points behind Wawrinka but he and Raonic form a little island.
Top 4 – No change. Novak, Andy, Roger and Rafa are the top four.

S: Ivo Karlovic def. Gilles Muller 6-7(2)/7-6(5)/7-6(12)
D: Groth/Guccione d. Marray/Shamasdin

S: Martin Klizan def. Pablo Cuevas 6-1/6-4
D: Kontinen/Peers d. Nestor/Qureshi

S: Albert Ramos-Vinolas def. Fernando Verdasco 6-3/6-4
D: Granollers/Marrero d. Daniell/Demoliner

...Ramos-Vinolas lost just one set in four matches in Bastad as he took out the title in Bastad, watched on by the mighty Borg. He defeated Baena 7-6 [5], 6-3, which on clay is a good victory. Up against unheralded Arnaboldi next he barely escaped 5-7, 7-5, 6-0, but after that he slipped into cruise mode. You get that a lot - players escape then go on a roll. He sent Ferrer packing 7-5, 6-4 in the semi-final, though that is not the scalp it once was. Riding high he was very impressive in seeing off his powerful compatriot Verdasco. His fellow lefty had dropped no sets, let alone games on the way to the final. But Ramos had the consistency and that was enough in a 6-3, 6-4 win. The third seed had won his first-ever title just a month after making the quarters of the French Open. He is cementing himself as a top 32 player with his consistent, crafty tennis. How will he react to the switch onto hard courts? He has never been to a final outside the clay in doubles or singles, whether on the challenger circuit or on the ATP.

...Put him in as player of the week, as veteran, as surprise. Really, Dr. Ivo ticks all the boxed this week in Newport. He’s just so compelling in a way Isner isn’t. There’s no reason, no rhyme, for it. No particular quirk or habit. But Karlovic just draws attention to himself, in the best way possible. And this week the serve was sizzling, was cooking. During the week he hit over 80 aces and went 5-1 in breakers. He survived Canadian Dancevic 3-6, 7-6[5], 6-4 in the first round before dismissing Chiudinelli 6-3, 6-4 in the quarters. He then took out Bagman in a pair of breakers to come through to the final where he beat Muller in three breakers to triumph. That is the magic of Karlovic, really. He has, in an age of returners, made his serve such a feared weapon that he can give even dull baseliners like Murray trouble. He is ageless and emotionless, robotic almost.

...Curly hair and a baby faced. Olivo has the game to be very good, well, at least on this surface. In Hamburg, he beat Youzhny 7-6[5], 2-6, 6-1. He dismissed Gonzalez 6-3, 6-4 and then he edged the top seed, Kohlschreiber, 7-5 in the third. He has played in a slam just once but did reach the second round. It was in Australia this year. He is at 109, which is his highest ever ranking and if he can rise into the top eighty or so he should get direct entry. He is also perhaps more of a doubles player, having won three titles from five finals on the challenger tour. Partners have included Zeballos and Delbonis. With friends like that a rise seems inevitable.
...Ranked 43rd the Bagman has gone from fat to fit and is now looking at a comeback into the top 40. He made a semi-final in Newport, beating Brian Baker and Dudi Sela in straight sets. Even in the loss to Karlovic he looked alright. He looks motivated again and he still has a small window to find another run somewhere. Wouldn’t it be good if he could string together wins in Australia again?
...Honestly, considering he won a 500 in Hamburg and only dropped a set he should be the player of the week. But he was an enormous surprise, akin to Trump’s nomination. Because Klizan is somebody who could make a semi-final run at a major. But he is also somebody who could lose to the world number 500 in qualies. That forehand is a serious weapon, it can wreck games and wreak havoc. He edged past Sjisling 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 but he had momentum and he rode it. He beat Wessels 1 and 1, before besting Gimeno-Traver 6-4, 6-3. Klizan dismissed Robert 6-3, 6-4 to make the final. Of the three events we had just two right-handed finalists. Having reached the final Klizan blew Cuevas away 6-1, 6-4. Well, that wasn’t supposed to happen, was it? Now ranked 28, he is just four away from equaling his highest ever ranking. He won his 5th title. He made a run to the fourth round of the U.S. Open in 2012. Repeat that and he could be on the cusp of the top twenty.
...Another first round loss. It is just beyond disappointing. The second seed in a weak field in Hamburg, he had a massive chance. A loss to Gimeno-Traver in a 500. It’s really quite embarrassing. It’s no wonder he was there and not in the Davis Cup. Would you call him up to represent your country? It’s the seeming lack of interest and occasional burst of brilliance that makes it all the more frustrating. We rightfully expect more from Paire.
...When Donald Young gets it right one wonders how he fell to such a low ranking. He was on a higher plane this week in Newport before he had his wings clipped by Muller. He dismissed Donaldson 6-1, 6-3 and Kozlov 6-0, 6-4. Having seen off two of his compatriots he had to face a third. But this was top-seeded Johnson riding a career-high ranking. And it was the way Young dismissed him so routinely, 6-2, 6-3. It wasn’t close, it was a statement victory, a stamp. Which just made his loss in straight sets to Muller all the more mystifying.

Notes from the week...
1 - Mahut and Herbert have sealed their place in London at the end of the year.
2 – With four events happening twice and the Olympics throwing things out of whack expect the U.S. Open seedings to be funky.
3 – Is that Federer’s last shot a major? Will he have regrets?
4 – Nations who gain promotion in the lower tiers of the Davis Cup will now win medals. Which is nice.
5 – Congratulations Azarenka on being pregnant. I hope she comes back faster than Kirilenko, who has disappeared.
6 – Nice to see Borg with Klizan at the Swedish Open. Good to see how Borg has developed into a statesman and ambassador of the game.

1. Newport F - Karlovic d. Muller 6-7[2], 7-6[5], 7-6[12]
...Absolute madness in Newport. Karlovic becomes the oldest winner of a title since 1979. He also saved three championship points and wins his first title here in his third final. It took three hours but the Croat won his 7th title.
2. Hamburg F - Klizan d. Cuevas 6-1, 6-4
...It must be nice to come back after missing over two months earlier in the year and dominate your first final back. I don’t know for sure, but Klizan does. He dominated Cuevas in the final, like he did against Monfils in Rotterdam in February. Klizan was happy to win the same tournament Mecir once did.
3. Hamburg R3 - Olivo d. Kohlschreiber 1-6, 6-0, 7-5
...Occasionally this BACKSPINNER likes to throw in a match because of the bizarre scoreline. But this one also has an upset factor, too. Olivo saved match point down 3-5 in the third, before sweeping the last four games and taking victory. Here’s one way to break back, too.
4. Bastad R3 - Ferrer d. Brown 6-1, 4-6, 6-4
...The clash of styles here is remarkable. Throw in a decent attempt at an upset and this was a decent match. Ferrer is definitely trending downwards, but does he have one last big run left in him?

Johnson [5] d. [3] Tomic
Querrey [8] d. [14] Muller
Querrey [8] d. [5] Johnson

...It will be interesting to see the response of Tomic and Johnson, who both reached the same round at Wimbledon. Nobody in the bottom half can be trusted and so it falls to the form players of Muller and Querrey. Zverev could make a run here but he still has a slam hangover. There will be a surprise winner here and with a home crowd, why not an American?

Lopez [1] d. [4] Bellucci
Ramos-Vinolas [4] d. [2] Simon
Lopez [1] d. [4] Ramos-Vinolas

...Anything really could happen here, but at the least the seeds are in alright form. Well enough that they can be relied upon. The Spanish fourth seed is really dangerous here but Lopez is the better lefty. Sure he’s better on grass but he’s due a surprise title. Why not here?

Thiem [1] d. [4] Lorenzi
Kohlschreiber [2] d. [3] Granollers
Thiem [1] d. [2] Kohlschreiber

...Welcome to event three of four. With four events the field is really spread thin, too thin. And it means the seeds will almost always have their way. This tournament should be a cakewalk for the Austrian, especially with that home crowd.

Cuevas [1] d. [4] Fognini
Klizan [7] d. [8] Vesely
Cuevas [1] d. [7] Klizan

...How will the South American react to not being a dark horse? He should be able to roll through this field. And the other semi-final, if it comes to pass, will be an excellent match. Two big-hitting lefties who somehow have different styles. But Cuevas has too much form and too much experience. Whew, finished. But four again next week!

Mladenovic is seeded fourth at the Washington Citi Open. She opens with Crawford, but Lisicki and Brengle lurk. Stephens is the bigger seed in her half. So she has ended up in a manageable section. No sign of Garcia, though. She and Bencic won this last year so she will lose points next week. She has not even entered the doubles. She is ranked 34th in singles and 4th in doubles.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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