Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wimbledon 2012 Day 6 Open Thread

Since I last sat down, Rafael Nadal lost in five sets to Lukas Rosol and Roger Federer had to come from a two-set-to-love deficit to eek out a win over Julien Benneteau. Must be something about the roof.

Today is a big day for American tennis with Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey, Brian Baker, and Vivara Lepchenko all in action. Serena needs to relax, Andy needs to grip and rip, Mardy and Sam need to fight harder than usual, Brian needs to hold his nerve, and Vivara needs to pray.

Any upsets on the way today?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wimbledon 2012 Day 4 Open Thread

The day is almost over and here I am watching Rafael Nadal start cracking the ball as hard as he can to try to get to a deciding set against Lukas Rosol , a 26-year-old Czech that takes gamesmanship to new heights, who, nevertheless, has been slapping the ball all match and now seems to be unraveling.

Nadal does his part with a blistering backhand down the line that Rosol can't handle.

The roof is going to close before the final set. Just as Nadal has momentum.

It's going to take 30 minutes.

Interesting.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wimbledon 2012 Day 3 Open Thread

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 26:  Fans of Andy Murray of Great Britain cheer during  his Gentlemen's Singles first round match against Nikolay Davydenko of Russia on day two of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 26, 2012 in London, England.

Getty

Fans of Andy Murray of Great Britain cheer during his Gentlemen's Singles first round match against Nikolay Davydenko of Russia on day two of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 26, 2012 in London, England.

::

INTENDED ORDER OF PLAY FOR WEDNESDAY 27 JUNE

CENTRE COURT - SHOW COURT - 1.00 PM START


1 Roger Federer (SUI) [3] 33 vs Fabio Fognini (ITA) 35
2 Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) [7] 97 vs Tamira Paszek (AUT) 98 T/F 2/2 0*-0
3 Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) 22 vs Kim Clijsters (BEL) 23
4 Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] 1 vs Ryan Harrison (USA) 3

No.1 COURT - SHOW COURT - 1.00 PM START

1 Arantxa Rus (NED) 61 vs Samantha Stosur (AUS) [5] 64
2 Jamie Baker (GBR) 71 vs Andy Roddick (USA) [30] 72 T/F 6/7(1) 2/4 0*-0
3 Maria Sharapova (RUS) [1] 1 vs Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 4
4 Xavier Malisse (BEL) 45 vs Gilles Simon (FRA) [13] 48

No.2 COURT - SHOW COURT - 11.30 AM START

1 Heather Watson (GBR) 38 vs Jamie Lee Hampton (USA) 39
2 Ryan Sweeting (USA) 61 vs Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) [8] 64
3 Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) 22 vs Richard Gasquet (FRA) [18] 24
4 Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 29 vs Angelique Kerber (GER) [8] 32

No.3 COURT - SHOW COURT - 11.30 AM START

1 Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 13 vs Juan Monaco (ARG) [15] 16
2 Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [3] 33 vs Elena Vesnina (RUS) 36
3 Nicolas Almagro (ESP) [12] 17 vs Guillaume Rufin (FRA) 19

COURT 12 - SHOW COURT - 11.30 AM START

1 Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) 13 vs Sabine Lisicki (GER) [15] 16
2 Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 103 vs Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) [25] 104 T/F 3/6 7/6(2) 2/6 6/4 5/4 40*-40
3 Michael Russell (USA) 38 vs Julien Benneteau (FRA) [29] 40
4 Fernando Verdasco (ESP) [17] 41 vs Grega Zemlja (SLO) 43
5 Na Li (CHN) [11] 49 vs Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 51

COURT 18 - SHOW COURT - 11.30 AM START

1 Florian Mayer (GER) [31] 25 vs Philipp Petzschner (GER) 27
2 David Ferrer (ESP) [7] 65 vs Dustin Brown (GER) 66 T/F 7/6(5) 6/4 1/1 40-40*
3 Vera Zvonareva (RUS) [12] 17 vs Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 20
4 Benjamin Becker (GER) 5 vs Radek Stepanek (CZE) [28] 8

COURT 4 - 11.30 AM START

1 Johan Brunstrom (SWE) / Philipp Marx (GER) 47 vs
Mariusz Fyrstenberg (POL) / Marcin Matkowski (POL) [3] 48
2 Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) / Monica Niculescu (ROU) [15] 41 vs
Elena Baltacha (GBR) / Anne Keothavong (GBR) 42
3 Jonathan Marray (GBR) / Frederik Nielsen (DEN) 39 vs Marcel Granollers (ESP) / Marc Lopez (ESP) [9] 40
4 Naomi Broady (GBR) / Johanna Konta (GBR) 47 vs Kveta Peschke (CZE) / Katarina Srebotnik (SLO) [3] 48

COURT 5 - 11.30 AM START

1 Steve Darcis (BEL) / Olivier Rochus (BEL) 11 vs Lewis Burton (GBR) / George Morgan (GBR) 12
2 Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 93 vs Dudi Sela (ISR) 94 T/F 6/4 6/4 1/1 0*-0
3 Mirjana Lucic (CRO) / Valeria Savinykh (RUS) 5 vs Tara Moore (GBR) / Melanie South (GBR) 6
4 Robin Haase (NED) / Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) 63 vs Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) [2] 64

COURT 6 - 11.30 AM START

1 Marcel Felder (URU) / Malek Jaziri (TUN) 31 vs Mahesh Bhupathi (IND) / Rohan Bopanna (IND) [7] 32
2 Shahar Peer (ISR) 119 vs Julia Goerges (GER) [22] 120 T/F 2/6 1/2 0*-0
3 Simona Halep (ROU) / Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) 31 vs
Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) / Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) [7] 32
4 Eva Birnerova (CZE) / Petra Cetkovska (CZE) 63 vs Sara Errani (ITA) / Roberta Vinci (ITA) [2] 64
5 Paul Hanley (AUS) / Mark Knowles (BAH) 53 vs Scott Lipsky (USA) / Rajeev Ram (USA) 54

COURT 7 - 11.30 AM START

1 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) / Lucie Safarova (CZE) 45 vs Flavia Pennetta (ITA) / Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 46
2 Santiago Giraldo (COL) 87 vs Milos Raonic (CAN) [21] 88 T/F 4/6 4/6 4/5 0-0*
3 Hao-Ching Chan (TPE) / Yung-Jan Chan (TPE) 39 vs
Nuria Llagostera Vives (ESP) / Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP) [9] 40
4 Lukas Dlouhy (CZE) / Michal Mertinak (SVK) 15 vs Robert Lindstedt (SWE) / Horia Tecau (ROU) [5] 16

COURT 8 - 11.30 AM START

1 Olga Govortsova (BLR) 83 vs Annika Beck (GER) 84
2 Igor Andreev (RUS) 53 vs Denis Istomin (UZB) 55
3 Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER) / Petra Martic (CRO) 7 vs
Chia-Jung Chuang (TPE) / Vera Dushevina (RUS) [16] 8

COURT 9 - 11.30 AM START

1 Jonathan Erlich (ISR) / Andy Ram (ISR) 19 vs Treat Conrad Huey (PHI) / Dominic Inglot (GBR) 20 T/F 4/6 6/3 2/6 0/0 0-0*
NOT BEFORE 12.30 PM
2 Wayne Odesnik (USA) 69 vs Bjorn Phau (GER) 70 T/F 3/6 6/3 7/6(3) 3/6 0/0 0*-15
3 Colin Fleming (GBR) / Ross Hutchins (GBR) [13] 41 vs Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) / Lukas Rosol (CZE) 42
4 Iveta Benesova (CZE) / Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) [8] 33 vs
Vania King (USA) / Yasmin Schnack (USA) 34

COURT 10 - 11.30 AM START

1 Liga Dekmeijere (LAT) / Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 27 vs Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) / Johanna Larsson (SWE) 28
2 Tatsuma Ito (JPN) 83 vs Lukasz Kubot (POL) 84 T/F 6/7(6) 3/6 3/5 30-30*
3 Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (PAK) / Jean-Julien Rojer (NED) [8] 33 vs Josh Goodall (GBR) / James Ward (GBR) 34
4 Janette Husarova (SVK) / Ksenia Pervak (KAZ) 35 vs Olga Govortsova (BLR) / Mandy Minella (LUX) 36

COURT 11 - 11.30 AM START

1 Arnaud Clement (FRA) / Michael Llodra (FRA) 59 vs Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo (ESP) / Albert Ramos (ESP) 60
2 Alize Cornet (FRA) 99 vs Nina Bratchikova (RUS) 100 T/F 6/0 5/5 15*-0
3 James Blake (USA) / Sam Querrey (USA) 45 vs David Marrero (ESP) / Andreas Seppi (ITA) 46

COURT 14 - 11.30 AM START

1 Ana Ivanovic (SRB) [14] 113 vs Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (ESP) 114
2 Shuai Peng (CHN) [30] 57 vs Ayumi Morita (JPN) 60
3 Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) [26] 57 vs Inigo Cervantes (ESP) 59
4 Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP) 54 vs Maria Kirilenko (RUS) [17] 56

COURT 15 - 11.30 AM START

1 Jamie Delgado (GBR) / Kenneth Skupski (GBR) 61 vs Matthias Bachinger (GER) / Tobias Kamke (GER) 62
2 Anastasiya Yakimova (BLR) 117 vs Mandy Minella (LUX) 118 T/F 3/3 A*-40
3 James Cerretani (USA) / Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 43 vs Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) / Benoit Paire (FRA) 44

COURT 16 - 11.30 AM START

1 Kimiko Date-Krumm (JPN) 115 vs Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) 116
2 Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 79 vs Sara Errani (ITA) [10] 80 T/F 1/6 3/5 40*-A
3 Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) 5 vs Stephanie Foretz Gacon (FRA) 7
4 Alejandro Falla (COL) 50 vs Nicolas Mahut (FRA) 52
5 Anna Tatishvili (GEO) 46 vs Camila Giorgi (ITA) 47

COURT 17 - 11.30 AM START

1 Petra Cetkovska (CZE) [23] 9 vs Sloane Stephens (USA) 11
2 Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 30 vs Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 31
3 Nadia Petrova (RUS) [20] 41 vs Timea Babos (HUN) 43

COURT 19 - 11.30 AM START

1 Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) [13] 81 vs Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 82
2 Viktor Troicki (SRB) 10 vs Martin Klizan (SVK) 11
3 Darija Jurak (CRO) / Katalin Marosi (HUN) 13 vs Renata Voracova (CZE) / Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 14

MATCHES TO BE ARRANGED

Not Before 5.00 pm

Christina McHale (USA) [28] 25 vs Mathilde Johansson (FRA) 28
Vesna Dolonc (SRB) / Olga Savchuk (UKR) 19 vs Serena Williams (USA) / Venus Williams (USA) 20
Alexander Peya (AUT) / Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) [6] 49 vs Chris Guccione (AUS) / Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) 50

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Championships, Wimbledon Preview

It's 2012. Roger Federer has more Wimbledon trophies than any other active player male or female, and he receives the easiest draw in London.

Humph.

Rafael Nadal broke Bjorn Borg's record at Roland Garros. Federer is looking to simply tie Pete Sampras' record (among gentlemen, that is) at Wimbledon. Can he do it? If so, he'll need someone to dispatch of defending champion Novak Djokovic before the semifinals, which is exactly where Federer will be. He won't squander a two-set-to-love lead in this year's quarterfinals, that's for sure.

Djoke, on the other hand, will have to actually do some work to get there.

The bottom have of the Gentlemen's draw is loaded. Whoever makes the final will be bloody.

Poor Andy Murray. And Nadal.

The American men won't post. None of them.

Best first-round matchup: Phillip Kohlschreiber vs. Tommy Haas. May the better grass-court-playing German win.

::

There's no telling what's going on with defending champ Petra Kvitova these days, except that she hasn't won anything all year and has been struggling with just about everything. That she's in Serena Williams' quarter won't make matters any better.

Yeah. I know. The same Serena who choked away a big lead in the first-round in Paris to make history in her own career in a way I won't even type.

But let's be clear: the Serena who arrived in Paris and earned a big lead against Virginie Razzano was playing vintage Serena tennis. Will that kind of form reappear in London? I guess it depends on her mindset. If she's feeling ferocious, she's in another Wimbledon final and I hope she has to go through Marion Bartoli to get there. Other than the Frenchwoman, I just don't see anyone in the bottom half of the draw with a grass court game big enough to trouble her, except maybe a certain Czech, and not the one mentioned above.

We'll see.

Whoever emerges from down there will face Maria Sharapova in the final.

Period.

Best first-round matchup: Kim Clijsters vs. Jelena Jankovic. Just because.

Enjoy the Championships.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quote For The Day

Andy Roddick of the U.S. celebrates after winning the men's singles final match against Andreas Seppi of Italy at the Eastbourne tennis tournament in Eastbourne, southern England June 23, 2012.

 Reuters

“The thing that makes sports great is there is no script. You can draw it up, and it rarely works out the way this week has. I think, as I've gotten older, I guess I've learned to appreciate this a little bit more... I went from a six-match losing streak to all of a sudden winning a tournament. It is a 180-degree turnaround.” 

--Andy Roddick, after defeating Andreas Seppi to win Eastbourne and matching Roger Federer's streak of winning at least one ATP title 12 years running

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lawn Tennis Open Thread

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Rafael Nadal of Spain and Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action on centre court during their final round Gentlemen's match on Day Thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 3, 2011 in London, England.

Getty

Wimbledon is almost here. Until then, talk about the grass.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Nadal Breaks Borg's Record in Paris

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 11: A close up of the Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy showing the previous winners after the men's singles final between Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Rafael Nadal of Spain during day 16 of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 11, 2012 in Paris, France.

Six titles are already etched on the trophy. The 7th will be soon. With his rain-delayed victory over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic this morning, Rafael Nadal makes history.

Wimbledon and the Olympics will be most interesting.




Sunday, June 10, 2012

2012 Roland Garros: Men's Final Preview



BY MAD PROFESSAH

Here are my predictions for the men's final at Roland Garros for 2012. This year, I correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 1 of 2 women's semifinals. I also correctly predicted 2 of 2 men's semifinals and 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals this year. This year I also correctly predicted that Maria Sharapova would win the final, and last year I correctly predicted that Rafael Nadal would win the 2011 men's final.

 Novak Djokovic SRB (1) v. Rafael Nadal ESP (2). Here we go again! For the 33rd time in their career and the 10th ATP tour final in a row, Nadal and Djokovic are meeting. Nadal leads the overall head-to-head 18-14 but lost 7 consecutive finals to Djokovic before winning the last two finals the two played (on clay) in Monte Carlo and Rome. The two are meeting in their 4th consecutive major final, with Djokovic having won the first three (2011 Wimbledon2011 US Open and 2012 Australian Open) in the sequence, including the last incredible final which lasted nearly six(!) hours. Nadal has beaten Djokovic in a major final (2010 US Open), in  one of most important matches of his career, to win the career slam. Now, Djokovic needs to get through Nadal to reach his career slam.

In fact, Djokovic-Nadal XXXIII is the most important match the two have ever played, and may be the most important the two will ever play in their careers. If Djokovic wins, he not only becomes the 8th man to win the career slam but he will also have the "Nole Slam," having won 4 majors in a row. No man has been able to win 28 Grand Slam matches in a row for 43 years since Rod Laver did it (for the second time!) in 1968. Before Djokovic did it on Friday by beating him, Roger Federer was the last person to win 27 Grand Slam matches in a row, and he has done it twice in his career. Nadal has won 25 Grand Slam matches in a row, but on Sunday he is playing for a different place in history; to become the winningest player in French Open history with 7 major titles, more than even the great Bjorn Borg.

The match-up on clay is not a good one for Djokovic but he is probably the only active player who even if Nadal plays his best tennis could still beat the King of Clay if he plays his best also. In the major finals played in 2011, because they occurred while Djokovic was repeatedly beating Nadal on every surface, Nadal had a distinct mental disadvantage. Now, having basically had the title on his racquet in Melbourne  and having beaten Djokovic in two consecutive clay court finals in Monte Carlo and Rome and the manner in which he has demolished the rest of the field in Paris (not even facing a set point against competition like Juan Monaco, David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro). Nadal has erased that mental disadvantage and must relish the chance to turn the tables around where he is the strongest and Djokovic the weakest. After all, Nadal must take comfort that he has been able to beat the Greatest of all Time five times on Court Phillipe Chartrier, including in 4 finals (2011, 2008, 2007, 2006).

In reality, Djokovic also has more pressure on him because the match is more important to his career, but it is balanced by the consensus of expectations, which is that nobody can beat Nadal at Roland Garros right now. Nadal must know that if he doesn't win on Sunday, he will have at least 2-4 chances to win his 7th French Open in the future. But Djokovic has to realize that is very unlikely he will ever have another opportunity to hold all 4 major titles simultaneously.

That being said, Djokovic has a better serve, and is atleast as mentally tough as Nadal, but does he really have the fortitude (both mental and physical) to beat Nadal on his own turf? I'll believe it when I see it.

MadProfessah's pick: Nadal.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Maria Sharapova: Career Slam Champion

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 09:  Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates with the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen after the women's singles final against Sara Errani of Italy during day 14 of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 9, 2012 in Paris, France.

Getty

What else is there to say?

Over the past few years, the Russian has battled injury and ennui but come back strong to complete a career Slam in her first Roland Garros final against a first-time finalist and surprise runner-up in Sara Errani of Italy.

And she's the new World No. 1 to boot.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Can she complete the rare Roland Garros Wimbledon double?

2012 Roland Garros: Women's Final Preview



BY MAD PROFESSAH

Here are my predictions for the women's finals at Roland Garros for 2012. This year, I correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 1 of 2 women's semifinals. I also correctly predicted 2 of 2 men's semifinals and 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals this year. Last year I correctly predicted that Li Na would win the 2011  women's final.


Sara Errani ITA (21) vs. Maria Sharapova RUS (2). Maria Sharapova is playing in her 3rd major final in the last year and the seventh of her career (3-3 record). Her opponent is a much lower ranked player playing in her first major final. One would think this is a clear advantage for Sharapova, but the last two major finals that the Russian has lost have been to players playing in the first major final (2011 Wimbledon final to Petra Kvitova and 2012 Australian Open final to Victoria Azarenka). Those players will almost certainly go on to reach (and win) other major finals. Will Sara Errani?

The French Open is paradoxically one of the hardest tournaments to win, but also the one most likely to be won by someone who will win it but no other major (c.f. Iva Majoli, Francesca Schiavone and Ana Ivanovic). It favors players who have grown up on the surface, and who instinctively know how to move on the surface and construct patient, tactical points.

However, in a contest between power and guile, I'll take power. Especially if that power is combined with determination and mental fortitude. The only real weakness in Sharapova's game is her merely average ability to move on this surface and the tendency of her serve to go off in times of stress and/or tough weather conditions (like, bizarrely, bright sun or heavy winds). But Sharapova's weakest serve will still be better than Errani's best serve. There's also no question that Sharapova has a much better return game than the Italian. I would not be surprised if Errani holds serve less times than she is broken, and almost definitely will hold serve fewer times than she will be able to break Sharapova's serve. In that case, the sheer mathematics of tennis scoring (every game you don't hold belongs to your opponent) would dictate that the new World #1 will also be the newest Grand Slam champion.

MadProfessah's pick: Sharapova.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

2012 Roland Garros: Men's Semifinals Preview




BY MAD PROFESSAH

Here are my predictions for the men's semifinals at the 2012 Roland Garros. This year I previously predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals correctly and predicted 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals correctly. Last year I correctly predicted 1 of 2 men's semifinals and 1 of 2 women's semifinals. I have also predicted this year's women's semifinals (1 of 2 correctly).


Novak Djokovic SRB (1) vsRoger Federer SUI (3).  This a rematch of last year's US Open, French Open and Australian Open semifinals. In fact, in the record 31(!) major semifinals that Roger Federer has reached in his career, an inordinate number of them (7) have been played against the kid from Serbia. In those seven major semifinals, Djokovic actually leads 4-3. Only one of them has been on clay, and that was last year's thriller when Federer became the first player to beat red-hot Djokovic in 2011, ending an astonishing 42-match winning streak. Federer leads their career head-to-head 14-11, including a 3-2 lead in clay court matches. In Grand Slam (5-set) matches the two are tied 4-all, with all their matches coming in those 7 semifinals and the 2007 US Open final won by Federer. Djokovic is a very different player now, a deserved World #1 and has won 26 Grand Slam matches in a row, and is a mere two matches from achieving something that Federer has never been able to do, win 4 major titles in a row (28 consecutive Grand Slam matches). Federer knows precisely the historic pressure that Djokovic is feeling, because twice in his career he has won 27 matches in a row, only to be stopped in the 28th match by Rafael Nadal in Paris.

Federer is not playing as well this year as he played last year, but with his talent you never know when he can raise his game and take out anyone, anytime. Last year I predicted that Djokovic would advance to his first major final in Paris and was proven wrong by Federer. This time, even though Federer has reached 5 finals here in the last 6 years as the clear second-best clay court player in that period, I have to go with the higher ranked player, who I think is starting to show that he is about to take over the title of second-best player on clay in the world.  PREDICTION: Djokovic.


David Ferrer ESP (6) vs.  Rafael Nadal ESP (2)David Ferrer showed that even though he is no longer rated in the Top 5 in the world , he is most definitely one of the top 5 clay-court players in the world by dismissing World #4 Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.. These two Spaniards have played 19 times before, with Nadal holding an overwhelming 15-4 edge. On clay, Nadal lost the first time the two met, in 2004 when he was a teenager and has since won 12 matches in a row on the surface. Interestingly, the two have only met three times in Grand Slams and Ferrer has won two of those matches, losing the one match the two have played at Roland Garros, in the 2005 quarterfinals. In fact, the two played on clay just a few weeks ago in Rome and the match ended with a bagel beat down. Nadal has yet to lose a set and Ferrer has only lost a single tiebreak set in the last round. I suspect that Ferrer will be able to at least hold on to reach at least one tiebreak set and will probably break Nadal enough to win some battles and preserve his pride but he will lose the war.  PREDICTIONNadal.

2012 FRENCH OPEN: Women's Semifinals Preview



BY MAD PROFESSAH

Here are my predictions for the Women's Semifinals at the 2012 Roland Garros. This year I previously predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals correctly and predicted 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals correctly. Last year I correctly predicted 1 of 2 men's semifinals and 1 of 2 women's semifinals.


Samantha Stosur AUS (6) vsSara Errani ITA (21).  The  only quarterfinal prediction that I got wrong was the match-up between Errani and surging lefty Angelique Kerber. I expected that since Kerber had won a major quarterfinal before and Errani had not, experience would decide the match instead of tennis. But what happened was that Kerber was very nervous and Errani was able to hold her nerve and calmly dismiss her higher ranked opponent in straight sets 6-3 7-6(2). Nothing succeeds like success and Errani has been on a tear all year long, winning 8 titles (3 singles and 5 doubles) on the WTA Tour. The other quarterfinal in this half of the draw was Stosur versus the little giant-killer Dominika Cibulkova. I expected this match to be pretty close, but instead it ended up being a blowout by Stosur 6-4 6-1. The career head-to-head between these two players is a decided advantage to the Australian, with 5 wins in as many meetings, including their last meeting which was on clay in Rome just a few weeks ago. Stosur has been one of the best players on clay of the last couple years, and reaching her 2nd Roland Garros final in 3 years will confirm and cement that status. PREDICTION: Stosur in 2 sets.


Maria Sharapova RUS (2) vs.  Petra Kvitova CZE (4) These two "Big Babes" have already played each other in one major final and a major semifinal in the last 3 majors (2011 Wimbledon final won by Kvitova and the 2012 Australian Open semifinal won by Sharapova) and are quickly forming a rivalry which  is beginning to dominate the top of women's tennis. In this tournament the two have pretty similar stats, with both serving 10 aces over 5 rounds but with Sharapova having 23 double faults to Kvitova's 20. Also, the two are very close in the number of winners hit, with Sharapova hitting 126 but Kvitova hitting 131. Sharapova has only hit111 unforced errors (+15) while Kvitova has hit 123 (+8). Additionally, Kvitova has played two 3-set matches while Sharapova has only played one.  This analysis of the numbers would suggest that Sharapova is playing better tennis, against higher ranked opponents. Head-to-head Sharapova leads 3 to 2 including a win on clay in Stuttgart in April. The stars appear to be aligning to assist Sharapova in returning to the top of the rankings and complete the career grand slam. PREDICTIONSharapova in 3 sets.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Roland Garros 2012: Women's Quarterfinals Preview



BY MAD PROFESSAH

I have also previewed the 2012 Roland Garros men's quarterfinals. Last year I predicted 2 of 3 men's quarterfinals correctly and 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals correctly. Below is my preview of the 2012 Roland Garros women's quarterfinals.

Victoria Azarenka BLR (1) Dominika Cibulkova SVK (15) vs Samantha Stosur AUS (6)The feisty Slovak is in her second career Grand Slam quarterfinal following the biggest win of her career in holding her nerve to outhit and outplay an unsettled World #1 Vika Azarenka. Stosur has had success on clay for the last three years, reaching two semifinals and one final at Roland Garros in that period before breaking through to win the 2011 U.S. Open over Serena Williams. The Australian has long been blessed with one of the most effective serves in women's tennis and excellent movement but her mental toughness has been considered her Achilles heel. As she approaches veteran status on the women's tour at age 28, that has surprisingly become less of an issue in her actualizing her tennis potential. Cibulkova has as big a forehand as any of the Big babes on the tour despite barely being 5'3" tall and is reminiscent of the feisty Barcelona Bumblebee (Arantxa Sanchez Vicario) with her indefatigable movement on the clay. These two have only met once before, 3 years ago on hard court with Stosur winning relatively easily. I see no reason why the Australian with the superior skills should be prevented from reaching her 3rd semifinal in 4 years, and perhaps even her second final in Paris.  Mad Professah's Pick: Stosur in 2 sets.

Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS (26) Sara Errani ITA (21) vs Angelique Kerber GER (10). These two relative unknowns are currently two of the hottest players on tour with Errani having won 3 singles and 5 doubles titles in 2012 so far while Kerber shocked the tennis establishment by reaching the 2011 U.S. Open semifinals before anyone even knew she was a lefty! Errani is playing in her second consecutive major quarterfinal while her opponent is also in her second major quarterfinal of her career. Errani was able to dismiss a 2-time major champion one round after she had beaten one of the favorites for the tournament (Aggie Radwanska) while Kerber has only been tested once to this point. I suspect this will be a tough, ugly match, but that the higher ranked player will prevail. Regardless, I find it hard to believe that one of these players will be in the final on Saturday. Mad Professah's pick: Kerber in 3 sets.


Li Na CHN (7) Yaroslava Shvedova KAZ vs Petra Kvitova CZE (4)One of the hardest things to do in tennis (besides winning one's first major title) is coming back a year later and defending it. The last woman to do that was Kim Clijsters at the U.S. Open in 2010 (as did Serena Williams at the Australian Open and Wimbledon earlier that same year). Li Na made herself one of the most famous women on the planet in 2011 when she became the first player from her country, male of female, to a win a major tennis title. However, this year she was unable to defend her title, losing the deciding set of her fourth round match without winning a single game against the first qualifier to reach a grand slam quarterfinal since fellow 2012 French Open quarterfinalist Kaia Kanepi did it at Wimbledon in 2010. or the challenge. Although much of this surprising result must have been due to an epic collapse from the defending champion, clearly Shvedova was not just a mere spectator on the court when the upset happened.  Kvitova has been slicing through the women's draw like a scythe and the future World #1 should be regularly reaching the semifinals or better of most major tournaments she plays in at this point in her career Mad Professah's pick: Kvitova in 2 sets.

Caroline Wozniacki DEN (9) Kaia Kanepi EST (23) vs Maria Sharapova RUS (2). The future Mrs. Vujicic is having a fairy-tale like fortnight in Paris, with early wedding presents arriving almost daily with the felicitous removal of almost all the players in the draw who can prevent the Golden Girl from completing her career slam in the most economic manner possible. First Serena Williams lost for the first time ever in the first round of a tournament, followed by the wily Aggie Radwanska falling to the 2009 French Open champion who herself promptly lost her next round match. World #1 Vika Azarenka, who embarassed Sharapova in the first major final of 2012, is also no longer in the tournament. Then, while Sharapova herself was in the middle of a surprisingly tight tussle with Klara Zakapalova the defending French Open champion was bounced by a qualifier. If I believe in a higher power (who of course I do not) I would think that someone behind the scenes is aligning things for Sharapova to win this tournament. There are now no women who have won this tournament before left in the draw and the only remaining finalists or champions are people that Sharapova has a winning record against!  Kanepi and Sharapova are both "big babes" but the two have never faced each other across the net. The greatest female player from Estonia has long been talked about to make an impact at a major tournament, but she appears to suffer from the one weakness which can not be corrected through hard work or inspired coaching: mental insecurity in tight moments. Kanepi blew gigantic leads against former World #1 Caroline Wozniacki (up 5-1 in all three sets) but this time she was able to come through with a W instead of a L. Playing in her 4th major quarterfinal (but first in nearly 18 months after a disastrous 2011) Kanepi should not be overwhelmed by the occasion, but she may be overwhelmed by her opponent. Mad Professah's pick: Sharapova in 3 sets.

Roland Garros 2012: Men's Quarterfinals Preview


BY MAD PROFESSAH

I have also previewed the 2012 Roland Garros women's quarterfinals. Last year I predicted 2 of 3 men's quarterfinals correctly and 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals correctly. Below is my preview of the 2012 Roland Garros men's quarterfinals.

Novak Djokovic SRB (1) vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga FRA (5)The World #1 demonstrated that he is not perfect after all by playing his worst tennis of the fortnight against efficient, effective and unemotional Andreas Seppi of Italy but stil came through his test in 5-sets and 4 1/2 hours. Tsonga is one of the few players who is not intimidated by the 5-time major champion, sporting an even 5-5 career head-to-head record. After losing to him in their first meeting in the 2008 Australian Open final, the Frenchman went on to win their next 4 matches. The two met for the first time on clay last month in Rome (while I was in town) and Djokovic won easily in straight sets. In their grand slam matches, the two have always had tight encounters, including their incredibly entertaining semifinal at Wimbledon last year. On home turf, in front of an amped up Parisian crowd, this will almost certainly be the best match to watch of all 8 quarterfinals, and almost certainly one of the best matches of the entire tournament. Tsonga is playing for national glory and personal pride, while iDjokovic is playing for history, trying to reach his 4th consecutive major final (and 8th consecutive major semifinal) in order to continue his quest for tennis immortality and the improbable "Nole Slam." Mad Professah's Pick: Djokovic.

Juan Martin Del Potro ARG (9) vs Roger Federer SUI (3). After Roger Federer completed his 4th round match on Sunday to reach his record 32nd consecutive major quarterfinal he said that he hoped that Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro would be able to finish their 4th round match before the end of the day or otherwise he would have an advantage. They didn't finish on Sunday and Federer does have an advantage. He is 11-2 head-to-head against the tall Argentinian and ever since losing to him in the 2009 U.S. Open final in 5 sets and 3 months later at the 2009 ATP World Tour Finals, the 16-time major champion has not even lost a set to del Potro in their last 5 meetings, 4 of which have come this year. I actually doubt that that streak will remain intact on Tuesday. Del Potro should play like a man with nothing to lose, and when someone can hit second serves at 130 mph and forehands (and backhands) at 100 mph good things can happen. But can Del Potro do that for 5 sets, in heavy conditions? Very doubtful. Then again, the last few times Federer has lost in the quarterfinals it has been to a player in the mold of Del Potro (Tsonga at Wimbledon 2011Berdych at Wimbledon 2010 and Robin Soderling at 2010 Roland Garros). That being said, Federer will almost certainly match (and eventually break) another of Jimmy Connors' records by reaching his 31st major semifinal. Mad Professah's pick: Federer in 4 sets.

David Ferrer ESP (6)
 vs Richard Gasquet FRA (17) Andy Murray GBR (4). This match is a rematch of  the 2011 Australian Open semifinal,  which was won by Murray in 4 sets. That was Ferrer's second ever major semifinal despite getting to 6 major quarterfinals (2-4 record). Murray is trying to reach his 6th major semifinal in a row. This is the only time the two have played a best-of-5 set match and although the Scotsman leads the Spaniard 5-4 in their career head-to-head, Ferrer has won their two clay court meetings. With his now-famous back spasms, I'm surprised that Murray was able to get past Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the previous round. I find it difficult to believe that Murray is going to really want to go through the amount of pain it will take to beat Ferrer, only to face Nadal in the semifinals, less than 3 weeks before he needs to be ready for the most important month of his life in the 2012 Wimbledon and the 2012 London Olympics. Ferrer is what Brad Gilbert calls "a rough customer." I call him "the Valencian Terminator." The Valencian has not dropped a set in the tournament, and I honestly do not expect him to do so until he faces hit countryman in the semifinals. Mad Professah's pick: Ferrer in 3 sets.


Nicolas Almagro ESP (12) vs Rafael Nadal ESP (2) The King of Clay gets a sadistic delight over showing other clay court pretenders to the throne that they do not have what it takes to grab the mantle from him, especially if they are from Spain (or speak Spanish). All you have to do is look at Nadal's 6-2 6-0 6-0 thrashing of Argentina's Juan Monaco if you doubt that. The King has now only dropped an astonishing 19 games in 4 rounds, his lowest total ever in his 7 appearances at this tournament. Monaco is a decent clay court player, having won a clay court title this year and is starting to develop into a threat on other surfaces as well. Almagro has already won two clay court titles in 2012 but has never even won a set on clay against Nadal in 5 meetings on the surface, including the last time the two met, which was at this stage of the 2010 French Open. I don't expect the streak of Nadal's 7 victories in as many matches in their career head-to-head (or his streak of not losing a set in the 2012 edition of Roland Garros) to change, but I suspect there may possibly be a few close sets. Mad Professah's pick: Nadal in 3 sets.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Roland Garros 2012 Day 7 Open Thread

Tempus fugit.