The 2015 US Open is over…now it’s time to get excited about your own play!


Pennetta beat her but who cares?

Djokovic’s dominance, Federer’s rejuvenation and quest for another slam, the ongoing struggle of Nadal, and last, but certainly not least, the journey of Serena through tournament draw after tournament draw have all been storylines that garnered quite a bit of attention and rounded up 2015 into a great year for tennis. Altogether, it has helped the sport gain traction in the mainstream media more than it had in the recent past…and hopefully it will lead to more adults choosing tennis to learn and play, signing up their kids to learn and play, or to simply having some of their racquets dusted off in a triumphant return to the court.

I would also wager that it has additionally invigorated those of you who were already interested in the pro tour and playing on a semi-regular basis. I know that is the case for me and many people I speak to anyway.

Any time a Grand Slam comes and goes, I get more and more interested in getting out onto the court myself. The spirit of competition starts to flood back into my system and the intricate details and nuances of a high level match sparks my tennis intellect into hyper-drive. (It’s not until I suffer through a double fault or the absence of the ability to call for the Chase review that I then come back to reality)

Regardless of how good of a player you are, there are things you can assuredly pick up from watching the best of the best go at it. For instance…according to Roberta Vinci, the complex strategy of ‘running and getting the ball in’ was the decisive factor in beating one of the greatest players of all time. If that isn’t inspiring to you and your tennis game then I don’t know what is. Although…on second thought…John Isner has been a pro for 8 years and still can’t execute the former of the two part Vinci plan, so who knows?

All jokes aside, it is truly inspiring to see the great players playing great, the young guns making names for themselves and the seasoned veterans making a push for glory. One of the most beautiful aspects of the sport of tennis is that there is always something someone can relate to just by watching. Whether it is a coach, a player, a swing, a strategy or even just fashion…there is always something.

So when you walk back through the doors of the Newington Tennis Center, walk back in with the exuberance of a kid on their first day of school…or it’s equivalent, the exuberance of an unseeded veteran doubles player that just knocked off one of the greatest competitors in athletic history. Whether it was a smile or a crisply struck slice backhand that has you inspired, keep that inspiration in mind as you do your best and enjoy the wonderful sport that we, in one way or another, hold so dear to us.

Updates from Roland Garros (5/29/14): Serena And Venus Disappoint Everyone But Their Opponents…Plus Much More


Serena after the loss. Credit: NY Daily News

Its been a little while since my previous post. Let’s get caught up to date:

First of all, the interesting and anticipated matchups of Isner vs. Mahut and Venus vs. Serena both failed to happen. Mahut lost, and, somehow, both Venus and Serena lost. I said that Venus’ opponent is young and could be tricky, but Serena losing is a complete shocker. Venus won the first set 6-2 then faltered, while Serena just never had it…she lost easily (2 and 2).

Other notable results:

  • Stan the Man was ousted in the first round, losing the 4th set 6-0. Second biggest shocker thus far behind Serena losing.
  • The crafty veteran Ivo Karlovic beat one of my favorites, Grigor, in straights. 6-4; 7-5; 7-6. Tough loss and very disappointing as an optimistic supporter of the next generation of tennis players.
  • Caroline Wozniacki lost in the first round in three sets. Looks like the breakup was better for Rory than her so far.
  • Tommy Haas had to retire mid-match again. He needs to just give it up and stop taking the spots of young players who can actually play a full match. Almagro was another seeded player who had to retire mid-match..at least Jack Sock was up 5-0 anyway.
  • Lleyton Hewitt lost in the first round. Can never quite count him out at this point, but it looks like his late-career resurgence may be losing some momentum. I am going to wait and see what happens at the U.S. Open before drawing too many conclusions though.
  • Sabine Lisicki also had to retire mid-match. I wonder what’s in the water in Germany.
  • Ironically enough, Isner had another marathon match even without Mahut involved. 6-7 (6-8); 7-6 (7-4); 6-3; 7-6 (7-4). The poor guy just can’t make things easy for himself.
  • Dolgopolov lost in 5 sets. He won the first two and got blown in the last three…he only won 5 games total during those sets.
  • Donald Young and Jack Sock both advanced to the third round, with Young beating a solid Feliciano Lopez. I saw Feliciano in New Haven and was really impressed, but he hasn’t really put all the pieces together. Good for American tennis though. Let’s see how far they can go.

Pretty much all of the other big names and top seeds are still alive in the tournament. It will undoubtedly be exciting to see what happens next, particularly because the significant amount of big seeds left mean that they will start facing each other in high pressure matches. It will also be cool to keep an eye on Schmiedlova to see if she can take advantage of Serena losing, as well as Sock and Young. If Sock wins his next match, he is slated to face Nadal afterwards. Young has a bit of an easier go of it.

Oh, and call me cynical, but my money is on Robredo taking out Isner.

Full results and draw can be seen here: http://espn.go.com/tennis/courtcast

The French Open Is Underway…Mahut vs. Isner in Round 2 and Venus vs. Serena in Round 3?


The tournament at Roland Garros has officially started up!

All of the seeds in the Men’s draw have won thus far, so no real surprises. While it has been fairly ho-hum early on, there is an interesting development brewing.

John Isner, in only a way that John Isner can, won his first round match against a nobody 7-6; 7-6; 7-5. Typical. In any event, if Nicolas Mahut wins his match against Kukushkin, it will set up a second round match-up between the two. As you may or may not remember, they had that ridiculously long match at Wimbledon a few years back (2010).

On the Women’s side, the only seed to lose was the 25th seeded Kaia Kanepi, who lost in 3 sets to Monica Niculescu of Romania. She is currently ranked 60th, but has reached 28th in singles and 24th in doubles at her peak.

Both Williams sisters advanced, and should they win their second round matches, will face off in the third round. That match would certainly be a spectacle…and even though Serena would be the overwhelming favorite at this stage in their careers… one would think that of any of the low seeded players, Venus would have the best shot at beating her due to familiarity. It is a double edged sword though because obviously Serena is very familiar with her as well.

Venus’ next opponent is Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia. Schmiedlova is 132-59 career, but mostly in low level tournaments. She doesn’t have many big wins in her career and has never gotten to the third round of a Grand Slam, but she is only 19 and you never really know what could happen. It would be great for a new star to be born, and if she was to beat both Venus and Serena back to back, that would be a great way to be put in the spotlight…but for selfish reasons, let’s just hope her stardom is postponed until after the French Open so we can see Serena vs. Venus (perhaps for the last time). In fact, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Venus announces her retirement (at least from singles competition) after the match if she loses. It would be fitting and a graceful way for her to go out.

2014 Italian Open Final Results


The Champs (Credit to SI)

The 2014 Italian Open is now complete and two familiar names finished on top: Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic. The next big tournament up on the docket is the French Open at Roland Garros (May 25th).

ATP Results

Quarterfinals

  • Grigor Dimitrov defeated Tommy Haas 6-2 (ret.) Good win for Grigor as it was inevitable after the first set…and a tough break for Tommy who was playing some good tennis.
  • All of the other matches in the Quarterfinals went three sets. Nadal beat Murray 1-6; 6-3; 7-5, Djokovic beat Ferrer 7-5; 4-6; 6-3 and Raonic beat Chardy 6-3; 7-5; 6-2. Typical of Novak and Rafa to pull out tough matches against great competitors.

Semifinals

  • Novak won again in 3 sets, this time against Milos Raonic, 6-7; 7-6; 6-3. Tough break for Milos, especially seeing that he had a legitimate shot to knock off Novak in the second round. This victory is the epitome of what makes Novak so great though…no matter how bleak a match seems, or how close he may be to losing, he cannot be counted out until the absolute last point.
  • Nadal beat Baby Fed 6-2; 6-2. Good run for Grigor, but not a surprising result here. Nadal on clay is just too much for him.

Finals

  • Novak beat Rafa in three, 4-6; 6-3; 6-3. Another let-down for Rafa, but you can’t really blame anyone for losing to Novak at this point in time. He is just on another planet and is completely relentless, especially in big matches. His last four matches went three sets..two of which he lost the first set. An absolutely marvelous run for him.

WTA Results

Quarterfinals

  • Serena Williams defeated Zhang Shuai 6-1; 6-3, Jelena Jankovic defeated Radwanska 6-4; 6-4, Sara Errani defeated Li Na 6-3; 4-6; 6-2, and Ana Ivanovic defeated Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-4; 3-6; 6-4. Tough day for the Chinese with Shuai failing to upset Serena and Na falling in an upset to the Italian Errani.

Semifinals

  • In an odd result, Serena defeated Ivanovic 6-1; 3-6; 6-1. Serena utterly dominated the first set, was nearly completely reversed in the second and then dominated the third set. It shows that Serena is the type of sports legend that has an on/off switch where she can all of a sudden just ramp up her skills to another level when needed.
  • With the home crowd behind her, Errani defeated Jankovic 6-3; 7-5. As the last Italian standing, she was playing with a lot of pride and came through in straights.

Finals

A tearful Errani after losing to Serena in Italy.

  • Unfortunately for Errani, her run at the Italian Open came to a screeching halt against Serena in the finals. Serena looked nearly unbeatable in what amounted to a 6-3; 6-0 victory. Good for the 10th seeded Errani to make a run in Italy, but she simply ran into a Serena playing great tennis.

2014 ATP and WTA Internazionali BNL d’Italia Second and Third Round Results (Italian Open)


Tommy Haas is actually doing something!

There are two big stories that have developed, one on Wednesday and one today.

On Wednesday, Roger Federer lost to Jeremy Chardy in 3 sets and today, Tommy Haas defeated Stan the Man in 3 sets. My opinion of Tommy Haas has been made clear on the site through some tournament reviews, but I have to say the win over Stan is impressive. Chardy’s win was probably a bit more impressive since it was against Fed, and the fact that he won in the next round easily was good to see.

All the results are listed below:

Tuesday Results

ATP

  • (2) Djokovic d. Stepanek 6-4; 7-5.
  • (3) Wawrinka d. Pire Riba 6-0; 6-3.
  • (5) Ferrer d. Kukushkin 6-1; 6-2.
  • (8) Raonic d. (Italian) Simone Bolleli 6-3; 7-5.
  • Ernests Gulbis d. (10) Falla 6-1; 0-0 (Ret.)
  • (15) Haas d. (Italian) Andreas Seppi 6-1; 4-6; 6-3.
  • Kohlschreiber d. (16) Robredo 6-2; 6-4.
  • Anderson, Cilic, Golubev, Tursunov and Sijsling also advanced in unseeded matches.
  • All 3 Italians playing on Tuesday lost.

WTA

  • (2) Li Na d. Dellacqua 6-1; 6-4.
  • Zhang Shuai d. (5) Kvitova 7-6; 5-7; 6-3.
  • Petra Cetkovska d. (7) Angelique Kerber 4-6; 6-3; 6-4.
  • Camila Giorgi d. (9) Dominika Cibulkova 6-4; 7-6.
  • (10) Sara Errani d. Chanelle Scheepers 7-5; 6-3.
  • (13) Carla Suarez-Navarro d. Mona Barthel 6-2; 6-2.
  • Puig, Makarova, Bencic, Blanco, McHale all advanced in unseeded matches.
  • 2/4 Italian women playing advanced.

Wednesday Results

ATP

  • (1) Nadal d. Gilles Simon 7-6; 6-7; 6-2. Tough match for Rafa.
  • Jeremy Chardy d. (4) Roger Federer 1-6; 6-3; 7-6 (8-6). Yikes. Chardy is tough but ouch. Tough break for Fed. Would have been quite the day for French Tennis if Simon knocked off Rafa.
  • (6) Berdych d. Tursunov 6-4; 6-3.
  • (7) Murray d. Granollers 6-2; 7-5.
  • (11) Tsonga d. Anderson 7-6 (16-14!); 7-6 (7-5). Could this have been any closer? Wow.
  • (12) Dimitrov d. Karlovic 7-6; 6-4.
  • (14) Youzhny d. Golubev 7-5; 4-1. (Ret.)
  • (15) Haas d. Sijsling 7-6; 6-1.
  • Gulbis, Melzer and Dodig advanced in unseeded matches.

WTA

  • (1) S. Williams d. Petkovic 6-2; 6-2.
  • (3) Radwanska d. Ormaechea 6-3; 6-2.
  • (4) Halep d. Keys 5-7; 6-0; 6-1.
  • (6) Jankovic d. Kuznetsova 6-2; 4-0 (Ret.)
  • (8) Sharapova d. Puig 6-3; 7-5.
  • (10) Errani d. Makarova 6-2; 6-3.
  • (11) Ivanovic d. Cornet 7-6; 7-5.
  • (12) Pennetta d. Bencic 6-2; 2-6; 6-3.
  • (13) Suarez-Navarro d. V. Williams 6-4; 6-2.
  • Lepchenko d. (16) Stephens 6-2.
  • Stosur, McHale, Schiavone advanced in unseeded matches.

Thursday Results (So Far)

ATP

  • (7) Murray d. Melzer 7-6; 6-4.
  • (8) Raonic d. (11) Tsonga 7-6; 6-4.
  • (15) Haas d. (3) Wawrinka 5-7; 6-2; 6-3. Unbelievable.
  • Chardy d. Dodig 6-3; 6-2.
  • (1) Nadal is currently losing to (14) Youzhny 5-6.
  • (6) Berdych is beating (12) Dimitrov 5-3.
  • Ferrer and Djokovic will be playing later.

WTA

  • (2) Li Na d. Stosur 6-3; 6-1.
  • (3) Radwanska d. Schiavone 6-4; 6-1.
  • (13) Suarez-Navarro d. (4) Halep in a Walkover.
  • (11) Ivanovic d. (8) Sharapova 6-1; 6-4.
  • (10) Errani d. Cetkovska 6-4; 7-6.
  • (6) Jankovic is leading (12) Pennetta 3-1.
  • Serena has yet to play and Zhang Shuai d. McHale 6-2; 4-6; 6-2.

History Made! Nishikori Wins In Barcelona (With Video)


Kei Holds The Trophy…Credit to Sky Sports

Kei Nishikori defeated Santiago Giraldo 6-2 6-2 in the finals of the Barcelona Open becoming the first Japanese-born player to win a clay court tournament in ATP history. He is also the first non-Spaniard to win the tournament in 12 years.

Kei has been playing wonderfully and he noted in an interview that it had helped him mentally.

This title and (my run in) Miami helped my confidence, especially this week on clay. There are three big tournaments coming up in Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros so I hope I can do well and increase my (Emirates ATP Rankings) points. My next goal is to get to the Top 10.

Nishikori isn’t all that far away. By winning this tournament, Nishikori improved his ATP ranking to 12th from 17th. Kei, who has been under the tutelage of the famous Michael Chang, is now only one short of his best ranking of 11th and improved to 8-1 in the month of April. I wouldn’t rule him out of making the Semi’s in a grand-slam this year and perhaps sneaking into the finals.

Rafael Nadal Loses Early On Clay In The Barcelona Open, Ferrer Even Earlier


Credit to Sports Illustrated

Credit to Sports Illustrated

The clay court tournament in Barcelona has provided tennis analysts and enthusiasts with much to talk about.

Right at home and on their best surfaces, both Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer suffered surprisingly early losses.

Ferrer, the two seed, lost to Teymuraz Gabashvili on Wednesday in the 2nd round, 6-4; 6-2. Gabashvili is currently ranked 55th, but has a staggeringly bad career record of 75-136. Ouch.

Nadal didn’t fare all that much better. He squeaked by fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos 7-6;6-4 in the 2nd round, won 3 and 3 in the third round vs. Ivan Dodig, but then lost to Nicholas Almagro in 3 sets. Almagro is a solid player and was seeded 6th, but it is brow-raising to see Nadal lose on clay in his backyard. Not to mention the fact that he had a 41 match win streak at the tournament.

The loss has many wondering if there is something seriously up with Rafa or if it may be the start of his downfall. I think it may be jumping the gun to say that he is on the way down…but I don’t think it is a reach to say that he will not end the season at #1.

Furthermore, I also think that his game may not age as gracefully as Federer’s has. I don’t believe it would be accurate to say that he relies on his athleticism and conditioning to win, but they have been a significant advantage he has had over competitors during his meteoric rise to the top of the sport. It definitely leaves one to wonder how the rest of his  career will play out. I expect him to remain a Top 5 caliber player for a while but it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the latter part of 2015 and in 2016.

Semi-Finals Results

Santiago Giraldo, the 65th ranked Colombian journeyman (also with a career below .500 record) took out Nicholas Almagro, 7-5; 6-3. Not sure if it more or less surprising following Almagro’s defeat of Nadal. Sometimes a big win like that can make a player lose a bit of focus in their next match against a less heralded player. Just goes to show that in tennis, if you are not playing well, there’s a chance that anybody can beat you.

Giraldo will be going up against Kei Nishikori in the finals. Nishikori defeated 9th seeded Ernests Gulbis 6-2 ; 6-4. Nishikori has been playing fantastic thus far this year and should be the overwhelming favorite to win the tournament. Giraldo should be pumped up to play for his first ever tournament victory so you never know, but I would be floored if Nishikori lost, or even if it went 3 sets.

 

The “Man”te Carlo Open Comes To A Close: Stan beats Roger and Some Reflections


“The Man” of Monte Carlo

Stan Beats Fed

What a victory for Stan Wawrinka. After losing the first set to his friend Roger Federer, Stan battled back for a tiebreak second set victory (7-5 in it) and finished off the match by winning 6-2.

It was a true show of graceful grit for him to come back and win. I think that him playing with Federer so often helped him stay in it mentally even more-so than he would have if he had played a Nadal or Djokovic. Sure, he is more than capable of beating them, but with all the practice and familiarity with Fed, it makes sense that it would be far easier for Stan to maintain his composure and not let the pressure of the moment get to him, especially given the fact that Federer was previously 13-1 against Stan. This makes the victory in the first all Swiss final since 2000 (Fed vs. Rosset) all the more impressive.

Some Brief Reflections

  • I don’t know what the deal is with Tsonga, but he needs some sort of mental training. His game is there, but in a big match after a let-down, he just mails in the match. He needs to read some philosophy and do some meditation and yoga. Losing 6-1 in the 3rd after losing 8-6 in the second set tiebreak is pathetic. I think he needs to drop a few pounds and step up his conditioning too. All he needs is more physical and mental endurance and he will start winning Grand Slams.
  • Milos Raonic continued his stellar play. He put up a good effort against Stan and has been reaching at least the quarters pretty consistently. He needs to add a bit more flair to his game and he could take a step up to the next level.
  • Disappointed with Grigor. He has all the potential in the world. Sure, he is still young, but if he elevated his game, he has the star power to elevate the game. By dating Sharapova, they could truly be the power couple of tennis. Then again, his proficiency with the ladies may be holding him back. The world has seen what Wozniacki has done to McIlroy and vice versa. Obviously that’s pure speculation, but the precedent has been set.

Updated Junior Development Stuff and Saturday Monte Carlo Semi-Final Results (4/19/14)


Junior Development

If you have a child that would like to join a session, it is not too late. Just because the session is underway doesn’t mean that they cannot play. You can always pay the “drop-in” rate, which varies depending on the exact program and length thereof that they would be participating in.

Monte Carlo

  • Stan The Man defeated Ferrer in straights. It is quite the surprise to me, as Ferrer is a beast on clay while Stan isn’t all that consistent on it. Furthermore, Stan’s showing in doubles with Fed was borderline embarassing. He is bouncing back like a champion should and beat Ferrer 6-1; 7-6. One has to wonder that Ferrer wasn’t mentally sharp after riding the wave of beating Nadal, or was a bit physically beat up compared to Wawrinka who had advanced to his previous match through walkover.
  • In the other semi’s match, Federer faces off yet again against Djokovic. At the moment it is 4-4 and is anyone’s match. As I wrote in the analysis of their previous showdown, smart money is on a three set match or a match with at least one 7-5 or 7-6 set (or both).

Ferrer Beats Nadal At Monte Carlo (4/18/2014)


Early this morning (as far as the U.S. is concerned), David Ferrer defeated compatriot and heavy favorite Rafael Nadal in straight sets (7-6; 6-4). Ferrer hasn’t had much success against Nadal historically (though he had won their previous meeting) but is also a very good clay court player in his own right and was well deserving of this victory.

I’m going to take credit for motivating him to play at a higher level by picking Grigor Dimitrov…that was the only reason I picked Grigor to win (haha). On a serious note, Grigor had defeated Ferrer in the last match they played together and envisioned a slip-up from Ferrer, but I was completely wrong.

Stan the Man and Federer vs. Tsonga

Wawrinka also advanced by beating Milos Raonic (7-6; 6-2).

Roger is slated to play Jo-Wily today as well. We all know that Jo-Wily at his best is a true force to be reckoned with, but the question is…which version of Jo-Wily will we see? He’s going to need his best to take out Fed.

 

Not Too Many Surprises In Monte Carlo Thus Far (4/16/14)


The amount of chalk remaining in the tournament reminds me of an old class-room.

Most seeded players have advanced to the third round. Mikhail Youzhny (13th Seed, lost to Andreas Seppi), Kevin Anderson (14th Seed, lost to Gael Monfils), Jerzy Janowicz (16th Seed, lost to Michael Llodra) and fan favorite Alexandr Dolgopolov (17th Seed, lost to Guillermo Garcia Lopez) are the only seeds to have lost.

That means that there are a bunch of marquee match-ups on the horizon. “Baby Fed” Dimitrov vs. David Ferrer, Stan “The Man” Wawrinka vs. Nicholas Almagro, Tommy Robredo vs. Milos Raonic and Jo Wily Tsonga vs. Fabio Fognini all look great and could conceivably go either way. Then you have the giants of Nadal, Federer and Djokovic all slated to play, which is always good T.V.

 

Djokovic Dispatches Nadal Easily, Joins Federer In History..Plus..Hingis Wins a Title(?!)


Novak had his eyes on the prize during his straight set victory against Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic had yet another meeting against Rafael Nadal in the finals of a tournament. While Nadal may have the historical advantage, this 6-3 6-3 victory did fall in line with trends.

Djokovic earned his 4th Sony Open title as he simultaneously halted Nadal’s quest for his first, and in doing so, he joined Roger Federer as the only other player to have won Indians Wells and the Sony Open back to back two different times.

Djokovic simply played better tennis than Nadal. Nothing too tricky, just better overall tennis. He had fewer unforced errors and capitalized on Nadal’s inability to hit the ball as deep in the court as he normally does. Djokovic has the conditioning and mobility to match Nadal’s strengths, and on hard court, Djokovic is now 12-7 vs. Nadal.

The match point rally was long and exciting, but Nadal’s fight during the rally merely was delaying the inevitable. Djokovic just had him beat this time around. It may have helped that he was the beneficiary of two walk-over victories during the tournament, but Nadal also experienced extra rest with his walk-over victory in the semi’s so there is nothing he can complain about besides the fact that he got outplayed.

Hingis and Lisicki

Lost in the shuffle of another Djokovic-Nadal battle was the amazing comeback of Martina Hingis and her doubles title win with her partner Sabine Lisicki. I’m a big fan of Lisicki’s game and believe that if she is able to be healthy, she is easily a Top 10 player. Hingis’ ability goes without saying, and like another Martina, Navratilova, she has proven that she can still play tennis (at least doubles) at a very high level despite her age and diminished amount of training and athleticism. That is the sign of a legendary tennis player. Congratulations to her.

 

Where We Stand At The 2014 Sony Open: Na vs Serena and A Pair of Walkovers?


Saturday (today) at 1:00

Although I am not quite sure, it seems as if what had happened in the Sony Open was completely unprecedented. The semi-finals wasn’t even played due to two walkovers.

Both Kei Nishikori and Tomas Berdych had to withdraw from the tournament due to injury before their matches even started. Very weird. We’ll get to that.

Wednesday Results

  • Li Na defeated Caroline Wozniacki 7-5; 7-5. It is clear that Wozniacki is playing some of her best tennis in recent memory, but Na is as well. She is a veteran who can out play her opponent but also out think them if her game isn’t completely on. In a big match, in big positions, Na has been proven to be able to come through. Not a surprising result in the least, but props to Wozniacki for improving so much ( she came in as just an 11 seed).
  • Cibulkova beat Radwanska in 3 sets (3-6; 7-6(7-5); 6-3). Yet another fail from Agnieszka in a big match, this time to a player younger than her.
  • I already wrote a feature article about Nishikori defeating Federer. The other match on Wednesday was Andy Murray vs. Novak Djokovic. Novak won in straights 7-5; 6-3. Lendl can only go so far.

Thursday

  • Na defeated Cibulkova in 3 sets. Dominika has to be disappointed as she came back from losing the first set to win the second set 6-2, but came up with a dud in the third in losing 3-6.
  • In a marquee match-up, Serena Williams defeated Maria Sharapova 6-4; 6-3. Serena has held historical dominance over Maria, and Thursday’s match was no different. The scores were decent and respectable, but the result was far from unexpected.
  • Tomas Berdych defeated Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4; 7-6. Yet another good run from Alexandr, but just didn’t have enough against Berdych. Tomas was hitting shots at incredible angles and was just a bit more consistent than Alexandr, which can be the difference in a 6-4; 7-6 match.
  • Rafael Nadal beat Milos Raonic in 3 sets, wining the second and third after Milos won the first 6-4. Nadal’s forehand was incredible down the stretch and Milos’ play fell off the slightest bit from his first set victory. Can’t have that happen against Nadal and expect a victory.

Friday

  • This brings us to the day of the walkover. Berdych had to withdraw from his match with Nadal due to gastroenteritis. Berdych officially pulled out of the match only an hour before the start time. I don’t think this is a conspiracy or anything, but Nadal has won their last 16 meetings over 7 years.
  • More disappointingly, Nishikori also had to withdraw, but due to a groin injury. He had to retire from a match in Delray Beach last month. He was on a roll and unfortunately couldn’t give it a go against Djokovic. “I tried to warm up and I couldn’t move” Nishikori said. “With anybody on the other side, I don’t think I could win today.” Fair enough.

The Finals

  • Saturday at 1:00 PM: Serena vs. Na. 1 vs 2 seed. Should be a great match. Despite her age, Serena is still the best when playing her best. Na isn’t the best match-up for her though…she can capitalize on errors and is usually a very consistent player.
  • Sunday: Novak vs. Rafa. Rafa has yet to win the Sony Open. No matter the outcome, both players will remain 1 and 2. $787,000 goes to the winner, and if it is Novak, he will be only the second (to Federer) to win Indian Wells and Miami back to back

Nishikori defeats Federer!


Geoff Burke- USA TODAY Sports

Boy oh boy, do I feel pretty good about my prognostication skills.

Kei Nishikori defeated Roger Federer last night, despite losing the first set and being down a break in the second. The final score was 3-6; 7-5; 6-4.

Okay, granted, I didn’t quite pick Nishikori, but I said it’d be far more likely for him to win than Murray, and that I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if Nishikori won.

Federer ended up with 39 unforced errors and was surprisingly inefficient. Nishikori was able to hit the ball well and fight through rallies. The win actually improves Nishikori to 2-1 all time against Federer.

“Yeah, it was second time to beat him,” a low-key Nishikori said afterward. “I was hitting balls deep and striking well. And I was fighting.”

Unfortunately for Kei, it was a finals matchup. He has Novak Djokovic to play next in the semi-finals.

 

 

Updates from the 2014 Sony Open in Miami (Sunday-Tuesday)


Here are results from Sunday, Monday and Tuesday as well as what is slated for today:

Sunday

Women

  • Perhaps the most interesting match result was Caroline Wozniacki defeating Sloane Stephens in the manner that she did. 6-1;6-0. Shocking really. I was expecting a tough battle resulting in a close Sloane victory, but that was far from the case. She was in her home territory but dropped to 6-4 on the season.
  • 2,3, and 10 seeds Na, Radwanska and Cibulkova all advanced in straight sets.
  • 29th seeded Venus Williams also won, albeit barely, in her match against the Australian Casey Dellacqua. The final score was 6-4;5-7;6-4. It was good to see Venus pull out the victory, but the close result shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise. Though she is a relatively unheralded player, Dellacqua took Venus to a second set tie-break in the 2010 Australian Open, when Venus was a far better player than she is now.

Men

  • Jo-Willy ended up prevailing over Marcos Baghdatis in a wild 3 set match. He ended up winning 4-6; 7-6(8-6); 7-5. Definitely a gritty victory for Tsonga against a crafty veteran player.
  • Ferrer, Murray and Federer all advanced easily in straights.
  • “Little Fed”, Grigor Dimitrov lost 6-7, 5-7 to Kei Nishikori. Obviously a tough match. I plan on doing a write-up on Dimitrov in the future. I think it could be argued that he has the most potential of any young player on tour.

Monday

Women

  • Na, Radwanska, Cibulkova and Wozniacki all advanced again. Cibulkova defeated Venus in 3 sets, with Venus winning the second set 7-5 after losing 6-1 in the first. She was vanquished 6-3 in the third.
  • Sharapova, Kvitova and Kerber all won in three set matches.
  • Sharapova lost the first set but won the next two against Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium.
  • Kvitova beat the famous Ana Ivanovic with a double bagel in sets 2 and 3 despite losing the first set 6-3. Needless to say, that is a bit of a weird score.
  • Kerber beat Makarova in an up and down match 6-4;1-6; 6-3.
  • Serena Williams won in an easy fashion, beating fellow American Coco Vandeweghe 6-3;6-1. Serena looked very strong.

Men

  • 1st seeded Nadal and 3rd seeded Wawrinka won their matches in straights. While Nadal only lost one game against the Uzbeki Istomin, Wawrinka won a tight one 7-5;6-4.
  • The day went by “the chalk” as all players with the higher seed earned passage to the next round. The list included: Berdych, Becker, Isner, Raonic, Fognini and Dolgopolov. Dolgopolov had the toughest match, winning 7-5 in a third set tiebreak.

Tuesday

Women

  • Maria Sharapova defeated Petra Kvitova 7-5; 6-1 and Serena Williams beat Kerber 6-2; 6-2. Serena has been playing some of her best tennis in recent history this tournament.

Men

This was, perhaps, one of the best days of tennis in a long time. Marquee match-ups across the board. I wish I could’ve attended.

  • The Ukrainian Dolgopolov upset Stan Wawrinka in three sets, winning the third 6-1. As mentioned in an article earlier, it seems as if Dolgopolov is playing some of his most motivated tennis ever and is successfully riding the wave of emotion and keeping the momentum going. His decisive victory over Stan definitely looks good on his resume.
  • Milos Raonic beat Benjamin Becker 6-3; 6-4. Although Raonic was seeded 12th to Becker’s 8th, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it was an upset.
  • Tomas Berdych defeated John Isner 6-3; 7-5. More of the same for Isner. He has a tough time against a player with a consistent serve and a good return game, particularly veterans who don’t get down on themselves if they don’t have success early against him.
  • Kei Nishikori eliminated David Ferrer in one of the closest matches possible. He won 7-6 (9-7); 3-6; 7-6 (11-9). Wow. I feel a bit bad for Ferrer, who actually won more game than Nishikori and lost in tight tiebreaks..but I am also impressed with Nishikori to earn a victory in this manner against one of the toughest players on tour.
  • Nadal, Federer and Djokovic all won in straight sets. Nadal and Federer both had an easy time Fognini and Gasquet, but Djokovic beat Tommy Robredo in a fairly well contested 6-3; 7-5 victory.
  • Maybe the biggest surprise outside of the Dolgopolov upset was the way Murray dispatched Tsonga. 6-4; 6-1. The Frenchman played terribly in the second set.

Wednesday Matches

  • Radwanska and Cibulkova are currently battling it out early in the third set. Radwanska won the first set 6-3 and lost the second 7-5.
  • Li Na vs. Wozniacki is also on the docket. I’d be shocked if Na lost, but, on the other hand, Wozniacki has been playing very well in Miami.
  • Andy Murray is to face Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori is going up against Roger Federer. I’d expect Djokovic and Federer to advance obviously…but for some reason, if I had to pick an upset, I’d take Nishikori instead of Murray to win. Nishikori is coming off of two very tough matches, but is only 24 and has the legs to bounce back quick. He is having a great year, with one tournament victory and a sparkling overall record. One of the few blemishes is a loss to Nadal at the Australian, but it took everything it could out of Nadal. The final score of that match was 7-6 (7-3); 7-5; 6-5 (ret).

Sony Open Tournament in Miami 2014


Although this tournament is a bit less heralded than Indian Wells, it is yet and still another big one with prize money totaling near $5,000,000 while being a part of the Masters Series.

Pretty much all of the top guys are playing in the tournament. Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, Murray, Ferrer, Berdych, Isner and Wawrinka (as well as others).

In the “others” category, Jo Willy Tsonga is battling on the court with Marcos Baghdatis. Baghdatis won the first set 6-4. The second went to a tiebreaker in which Tsonga double faulted at 6-5 and set point, but pulled it out 8-6. Tsonga is 4-0 career against Marcos, so the loss would be disappointing, especially with Marcos being ranked in the mid 100’s.

Robredo vs Benneteau is also slated to play soon. They are currently in warm-ups. Should be a nice, quality match to watch. Benneteau has momentum, but it is always entertaining to watch a Spaniard and Frenchmen to go at it on the tennis court.

Federer, Ferrer and Murray are also scheduled to play today (Sunday).

Yesterday, Nadal beat Hewitt, Raonic beat Sock (4 and 6), Wawrinka won in 3 tough sets, Isner beat Donald Young after losing a first set tiebreak to him and Dolgopolov advanced by beating the ancient Jarkko Nieminen. Jarkko is 32 but it seems like he has been around forever. Monfils and Cilic were eliminated.

On the women’s side, Serena survived a tough match against Caroline Garcia of France (6-4;4-6;6-4). Sam Stosur lost (7-5;5-7;5-7) to 22 year old American Coco Vendeweghe. Sharapova and Ivanovic advanced while Sabine Lisicki had to default.

I’ll update the results later tonight or tomorrow.

Familiar Foes…Djokovic And Federer To Meet In Finals At Indian Wells


Back at it for the 33rd time..

To the surprise of few, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both advanced through their semifinal matches to set up the 33rd meeting between the two.

As of now, Federer has won 17 times while Djokovic has won 15 times, in one of the more even head to head match-ups between elite players in the history of pro tennis.

Roger defeated Novak in their only match thus far in 2014 3-6; 6-3; 6-2. This was in the tournament in Dubai which was played on hard court, the surface in which the upcoming finals showdown will be held on.

Going back since 2012, Djokovic is 5-3 vs. Federer with his previous 3 victories all being on hard court. Despite this, and the fact that Djokovic is 26 years old, compared to Federer’s 32, recent history indicates that the ongoing rivalry is as close as ever.

In the matches from 2012 on, 4 of their 8 matches have been decided in straight sets but all 4 have also featured set victories of 7-5 or a tiebreaker at 7-6, with one of those matches having both (Djokovic’s 2012 victory at the Barclays 7-6 (8-6); 7-5. Needless to say, it is fair to expect another tight one in Sunday’s final.

Djokovic had a bit of a tougher Semi’s match by beating John Isner 7-5; 6-7 (2-7); 6-1, while Federer dispatched the motivated Alexandr Dolgopolov in a relative breeze, winning 6-3; 6-1.

It has to be disappointing for Isner to fight so hard in the first two sets, especially after claiming a tiebreak victory in the second, to go down 1-6 in the third. What would have been a great victory for him turned into a disappointing outing in just a set. While I’m sure he feels fairly content with his performance, it still has to be tough to go into a third set against a guy like Djokovic in a Semi just to get beat 6-1. Sometimes that is how the cookie crumbles in tennis.

Dolgopolov also must be disappointed but for a different reason. He had such a great run this tournament and ended up losing pretty badly. Sure, it was against one of the all time greats and he has nothing to be ashamed about, but you’d have to imagine that Dolgopolov came into the match truly believing a victory may have been in store. It almost seemed destined that this was his tournament to win, even with all the odds stacked against him. For him to go out 3 and 1 must be heart wrenching for him, but at least he earned himself some confidence for the rest of 2014, and hopefully he continues to ride that wave of overall solid play.

Indian Wells Results and the Upcoming Matches


A great  set of matches await tennis fans

Thursday and Friday Results

  • Alexandr Dolgopolov kept his momentum rolling by earning a huge victory over Milos Raonic by winning 6-3;6-4. His run at Indian Wells has been quite impressive, and though it may still be a longshot, I wouldn’t put it past him to win the whole thing.
  • Roger Federer also kept his tournament hopes alive by beating Kevin Anderson. Anderson also had some good momentum and put up a good fight in the first set losing 7-5, but he went down in the second 6-1.
  • On Friday, Djokovic defeated Benneteau easily, 6-1;6-3.
  • Isner, in his regular fashion, barely squeaked by in two break sets against Gulbis.

Upcoming Matches

  • Novak Djokovic is set to face John Isner in the first semifinals match. Isner defeated Novak in the semis in 2012 at Indian Wells. I wouldn’t bet that history will repeat itself, but at least the precedent has been set for a potential Isner victory.
  • In the other semifinal, Federer is going up against Dolgopolov. Should be a quite interesting matchup, particularly with both playing so well at the moment. If Alexandr is to win, he is going to need all he has in his repertoire to win. Federer could win in straights easily, while if Dolgopolov is to win, it will, in all likelihood, take three sets or at least a tiebreak.

Wednesday’s Results at Indian Wells: Joker Needs 3, Federer beats Haas, Wawrinka and Murray Eliminated


What an interesting day at Indian Wells.

  • Novak Djokovic needed 3 sets to beat Marin Cilic. Cilic actually won the first set 6-1, but then lost 2 and 3 in the 2nd and 3rd sets. Joker decided to stop joking around apparently (cheesy pun). Cilic is still fairly young at 26 and had a sparkling 18-4 2014 record with 2 titles coming into Indian Wells, but he needs to truly take it to the next level and win a grand slam. He beat Tsonga and Murray in consecutive matches at a tournament in the Netherlands, but lost quite easily to Berdych in the finals. To win a grand slam, you’re often going to need 3 quality victories like that to hoist up the title. On the other hand, Djokovic cannot be counted out until he literally loses the last point of the match. Even if he looks terrible in a set, he has the ability to quickly turn it around and get a victory. All the credit in the world should go to his mental toughness and craftiness, not just his skills and conditioning.
  • In an interesting match-up of veterans, Roger Federer beat Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-4. Haas is 3 years older than Roger at 35, and somehow is ranked 12th in the world despite being only 8-7 this year, with 0 victories being against a seeded opponent in a tournament. He has been one of the biggest disappointments in recent tennis history. Granted, he has had a lot of injuries, but there was so much hype in his early career that his strokes were lauded as picture perfect with tennis coaches across the country using him as an example and trying to teach his strokes to young players. Bolletieri took him in for free at age 11 and touted his ability for years. He ended up only been an above average/pretty good tennis professional throughout his career and is near the end of the road. On the other hand, Federer’s demise may have been greatly overstated as he improved to 16-2 in the new year and already has earned about a third of his 2013 prize money. He has had a specially designed racquet added to his repertoire and has been working with slightly different grips at times, and it seems to be paying off.
  • Kevin Anderson and Milos Raonic upended Stan “The Man” Wawrinka and Andy Murray, each in tough, 3 set matches. The 17th seeded South African Anderson beat Stan 7-6 (7-1), 4-6, 6-1. Anderson is barely above .500 in win-loss throughout his career, but is 11-4 this year. The ever-talented Raonic, who turned pro in 2008 yet is only 23 years old, came back after losing the first season 4-6 to Murray by winning the 2nd and 3rd sets 7-5 and 6-3. Raonic has a huge game and is ranked 11th in the world. The only other tournament he has played in this year was the Australian, in which he ended up losing to another up and coming potential star Grigor Dimitrov 10-12 in a 4th set tiebreak. Raonic is now 4-1 this year, and could be on the verge of breaking through and winning a few big tournaments if he plays up to his potential (unlike Haas).

Other Results

  • John Isner advanced by beating Verdasco in 3.
  • Previously featured Alexandr Dolgopolov didn’t have the let-down match after beating Rafa by taking out 13th seeded Fabio Fognini in 2 fairly smooth sets. He will have to beat Raonic in order to advance, and is the lowest seeded player left in the tournament aside from Julien Benneteau.

Alexandr Dolgopolov defeats Rafa Nadal at Indian Wells


Alexandr celebrates after knocking out #1 seed Nadal

Despite losing in February in a tournament final to Rafa Nadal, Alexandr Dolgopolov prevailed in Indian Wells against Nadal after winning a third set tiebreak 7-5.

The 25 year old Ukrainian went into the meeting 0-5 against Nadal but played extremely well this time around, particularly in big moments, and earned one of his most impressive victories of his career.

Dolgopolov won the first set 6-3 and lost 3-6 in the second. He got up 5-2 in the third but it seemed as if Nadal was going to end up pulling it out after he rattled off 3 straight games to tie it up at 5-5. The 31st ranked player in the world responded to the pressure and fought off Nadal’s momentum to get to and win the third set tiebreaker 7-5.

His previous match against Nadal clearly helped his confidence going into this match. Dolgopolov played Nadal close, losing in straights, but after a 2nd set tiebreak. In addition, that match was Nadal’s to lose the whole time with it being on clay.

Dolgopolov historically is better on hard courts than clay and is also undefeated this season after winning the first set. It’s important for a young player like him to get confidence early in a match against a proven veteran and to not waver when things start to get away from him.

It is also important to prepare at an elite level, something Dolgopolov is improving at doing. He has switched back to being coached by his father, who knows his semi-unorthodox game best and practiced against a lefty thoroughly before this match with Nadal.

The dynamic of the volatile situation in his home country is also interesting to take note of. Dolgopolov put out a video with other pros Djokovic, Nadal, Monfils and Murray addressing the situation while calling for peace there. It’s speculative of course, and professional athletes are generally so focused in the moment, but it’s hard to imagine that it didn’t weigh on his mind at some point and perhaps provide a bit of extra energy and motivation. He has been playing very well in the past few tournaments he has played in.

Hopefully he can use this victory to propel himself to a very successful season. He needs to make sure that he doesn’t get too happy about this victory or he may falter against the 13th seeded Fabio Fognini, who is himself coming off a three set victory against Gael Monfils. He may also have to get through a combination of Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer just to get to the finals where Novak Djokovic may be awaiting him.