Friday, July 07, 2017

Wimbledon Day 4- Federer Recalls His Army of Flying Ants

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

First. This...

Watching it on television, in real time, was breathtaking. And the match point from that same match featured one of the best 'passing shots' of the Championships. This year the Centre Court lot are getting their money's worth. Seventeen of the women's 32 seeds are gone and it is only the start of round three. At first, this BACKSPINNER thought that Petra Kvitova and Roger Federer would take the singles. Now I am leaning toward a different player. Not wanting to jinx it, I would add only that she won a slam last year.

In the men's, we have most of our favourites intact, Stan Wawrinka aside. On day four, Dominic Thiem, looking to make a name for himself on a different surface, got a good win against a tricky vet and Federer looked briefly mortal. There are always storylines here at SW19, across the doubles and singles.

In the doubles, there have been no major upsets on Thursday. The top seeds survived Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi in four. For second seeds Herbert and Mahut it was a tight four-setter, as well, over Donald Young and Santiago Gonzalez. Murray and Soares, seeded third, did not drop a set, while the Bryans also survived unscathed.

Henri Kontinen, Marcelo Melo and Jamie Murray all have one thing in common; they could be world number one after the tournament.
Well, on day four, lots happened. Curious? Well read on...

Kyle Edmund is a very competent top 50 or even top 40 player. But he is out of his depth against the very best in our sport. Gael Monfils turned in a considered, efficient performance, where he edged out a dangerous opponent 7-6[1], 6-4, 6-4. Indeed, the Brit had a break in that last set but had his advantage blanked out by the Frenchman. Edmund's backhand does not match up. His forehand has real sting and his first serve is good, but the actual motion is patchy and his serve percentage can tend toward the erratic. He out-hit Gael by 36-33, but did hit 7 more errors. It was a match with a few long rallies, with the youngster able to test Monfils a bit. But the Frenchman didn't do too many ridiculous things. He broke four times to two and won 39 per cent of receiving points. He was very solid and even used his forehand magnificently. He now plays dangerous compatriot Adrian Mannarino. He will get the winner of Djokovic and Gulbis. So no easy matchup for him if he can beat the lefty.
Federer has a history of dropping sets to Eastern Europeans at Wimbledon. Who could forget Bozoljac?

And when Dusan Lajovic led the points total 7-0, it looked like an old man had taken the place of the GOAT. Indeed, he hung on and broke the Swiss to lead 2-0. But Fed slowly found his form over the course of the set. He began to find his forehand, much to the delight of the crowd, and soon after that it was all over. He won the breaker 7-0 and his opponent didn't do anything wrong. Once that first set was out of the way he cruised to the win, taking the next two 6-3, 6-2. 90 minutes. Four breaks, one conceded. And 31 winners is pretty good. It took Federer 15 minutes to find some form, but once he did it was curtains for the Serbian. The Swiss had won 81 per cent of both first and second serves. It's just a different level sometimes. The guy turns 36 in weeks. And now he has a 'challenge'. He faces Mischa Zverev, seeded 27th, before he must take on Grigor Dimitrov. It is the first time we will see Fed flex his muscles.
ovak Djokovic has found some of his old mojo. But even a shadow of what he is now, which is a shadow of his 2011 form, would hardly have been troubled by the handsome, but ineffectual, Czech. He won 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 but, at 93 minutes, took three minutes longer than his Swiss rival to get things done. He broke seven times, won 51 per cent of his return points and won 46 more points overall than his hapless opponent. It was the kind of match you see on offer and think no, no I won't watch that. There's no point. It is a problem that has plagued tennis, and other sports, for a long while. During the early stages of competition, some of the players are not up to the standards of the top guys. Djokovic is better on defense, on offense and just knows how to dismantle guys. From the start it was only ever going to go one way - Czech-mate. Next for Novak is Ernests Gulbis, who saw off Delpo. Then it is likely Gael Monfils. Then he might see Dominic Thiem or Tomas Berdych. If the old Djokovic is still hanging around it will be tight. But this one? He should cruise.
Two years ago, the upset would have been on. But we are beginning to see age take its toll on some of our older stars. Gilles Simon for once did not have the legs as he lost 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 to Dominic Thiem. Johnny Mac commented that the Austrian was five per cent away from winning the French. He is totally correct. Simon did everything correctly, he even mixed it up and came to the net. Thiem's backhand and forehand combination is deadly. Simon did once have the defense to ward off that power, but no longer. The slicing variety of the Austrian was too much. In the first set it was reminiscent of when Dinara Safina struggled past Amelie Mauresmo at Wimbledon. The 8th seed had to find a way. In the second set he broke fairly early and slowly took control. Once he had the momentum he rolled through the next two sets. By the end, Gilles Simon looked a spent force. He was 22-23 on errors to winners while his opponent was 45-26. It felt like a baton had changed hands. Thiem has now navigated Vasek Pospisil and Gilles Simon for the loss of just a set. Now he faces Jared Donaldson. That will be a test for a different reason. It is going to have a youthful feel to it on Saturday when they play. Thiem has to use his experience of big matches and his heavy serve to see off the American. Donaldson is free to go for broke.
For a moment the upset was on. Milos Raonic looked there for the taking. Mikhail Youzhny played out of his skin good. But the Canuck broke the back of the match in the second set, as he won 3-6, 7-6[7], 6-4, 7-5. The Russian led 6-4 in the breaker. But he blew it and the match inevitably crumbled away. Considering he won the winners battle by 58 to 17, it is amazing that Raonic was on the brink here. But he survived to go on and face Albert Ramos-Vinolas. And if you think that might be an easy clash, well you've another thing coming. The Spaniard can irritate anybody on any surface. And after that he is likely to face Alex Zverev. Or maybe Jack Sock. So the road is not easy for last year's finalist.
We have little rules here on BACKSPIN, little things that happen frequently. Stan Wwrinka is brilliant at slams outside of Wimbledon and always does well at four Masters events a year, but never the same ones. Karolina Pliskova has the best weapons, the best mentality of any WTA rising star, but will always lose five bad matches a year. Don't go near CSN when picking anything, ever. Roger Federer is always a safe bet to watch on your TV. The U.S. Open and the French will have scheduling issues. The Australian Open is always run brilliantly, but we never talk about it. And John Isner must always lose in ridiculous fashion at the one slam he should be a perennial fourth-rounder at. Dudi Sela won 6-7[5], 7-6[5], 5-7, 7-6[5], 6-3. A handful of points here and there. At first you think, well, next year. But it is always a handful of points. It is frustrating. I no longer care or find it impressive that he hit 45 aces to five. Just win. You're the better player. You were up two sets to none. No excuses. And how do I feel about this?


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