Archive for February, 2008

Competition is fierce!!

February 29, 2008

Man it’s hard to be a pro tour player!!

It has only been roughly two weeks since Nishikori made some headlines by taking his first ATP title being ranked in the 200s. Yet another surprise showed up today… he is from the great Ukraine?! and called Sergiy Stakhovsky (hope I don’t have to write that one more time) and is 209 on the frikin’ ranking!

Actually, for the big brains of tennis, this guy has marked his name down on a few drawboards before. In Moscow in 2006 he actually beat Tursunov in 3 sets. He has been a loyal challanger player and will most likely start to hit hisway up to the top 100s. I haven’t seen him play but he must be good; he has beaten Karlovic, Tipsarevic and Bolelli on his way. Not bad at all. Tomorrow either Ljubicic or Ancic stands in his way.

This shows how hard it has to be to get up there with Federer and co. I think once you are there as an established ATP level player, you sort of play yourself some confidence. But the road up…. BRUTAL!

Clay tournaments more predictable?

February 27, 2008

I cannot see how the seeds will lose in Acapulco. Andreev is the only clay profile to lose early, but he didn’t do a great job in Argentina either. I think these “early” clay tournaments have got to move towards the rest of the clay season. It seems that the only players turning up are those who feel more comfortable or those who belive that they could go further in compared to the hard court ones. Oh well, I want the players to have countless options so no change is needed. It just seems that these tournaments aren’t of great importance or very prestigous.

I’m not too impressed with Zagreb either unfortunately. Apart from Ljubicic, who needs to win this tournament if he wants to go back upwards, there are few players who I would watch. There are three though. The Croats Ancic, Cilic and Tipsarevic. How good are they and is Ancic on his way back to the top 10? Is Cilic the new young gun? Can Tipsarevic get his first title? In addition to Ljubicic, I think these are the favorites to win. 3 from Croatia and one from Serbia. One thing is for sure, they all want this title.

Memhis is according to the 2009 changes probably the more prestigous of the three. But here too, the field is far from impressive. After Blake pulled out, Roddick remains the only top 10 player. Favorite? You bet! The only real threat, and I mean REAL threat, is Tommy Haas. Last year he gave Roddick something to think about in the final where he humiliated Roddick in front of his home crowd. Although sometimes it seems like Tommy is the local hero in Memphis. He seems to treat it like his second home. But Roddick will have to face Fish again to get to a potential Haas final.

Ah well… this is still a sleep in progress week, as we all wait for DU-freakin’-BAI next week. This year it represents a mini-Grand Slam, with the strongest field ever. Goody!

3 finals & Next week

February 24, 2008

Soderling – Llodra
Soderling has had a smooth ride into the final. I haven’t seen any match of his, but the numbers speak for themselves. He has beaten every player pretty seriously, except for Baghdatis in the first round. I think he wil be the favorite going into the final. Llodra took out the big Ivo and might be heading for his second title of this year. They have never met, and the rankings could not be less decisive… Llodra at 58th and Soderling 59th. Coin toss goes to Soderling.

Roddick – Stepanek
So Stepanek managed to dismantle Ginepri after being down 1 set. People say that he has played consistent good tennis throughout this week, but when I look at his opponents.. well I don’t really know them! Capdeville, Reynolds, Lu, Ginepri – well I’ve heard of all of them but they haven’t really pierced into my tennis memory. Roddick’s opponents quite more difficult. Guccione – in good form, Nishikori – just won a title, Fish, Garcia-Lopez.
Anyway, it will probably be close like all of their 3 previous meetings, but Roddick will grap it.

Nalbandian – Acasuso
Now here I am not so sure. Nalbandian is predictable, but Acasuso is very good when he plays his absolute best. He has overcome players like Moya, Andreev, Volandri to get here and Nalbandian might be in for a ride. Important thing is, both are Argentinians and Maradona will probably not mock the opponent this time. Should we say Nalbandian in 3 due to lack of insight?

Next week is ALSO a tennisful week, if anyone didn’t know. Apparently some of the top 10 players don’t know it. Draw for Acapulco is not out as far as I can see, but in Memphis (soon to become masters 500) has Roddick and Blake in it. 8th and last seed is Soderling. Relatively strong field but still far from ideal if this trend continues next year. Then there’s Zagreb where Ljubicic (23) is top seed with Karlovic (24) as second. I still cannot see how all of the other top players benefit from NOT playing tennis in several weeks.

Federer still not activity since Aussie Open, Nadal failing miserably against Seppi in Rotterdam this week, Djokovic *cough, cough* sick sick sick (?), Davydenko has probably aged.. he used to play almost every week… the list goes on.

Lets just hope that Dubai will be a firecracker as a result of this “absence”. Strongest 32 draw in quite some time and we will see how players who play these two weeks will do in Dubai.
BTW.. what the hell happened to Tsonga?!

No top 5 players in sight, but…

February 23, 2008

There are plenty of players who show great potential for the upcoming master’s mania in March. One of them is Karlovic. He has played a picture perfect tournament so far, and based on ranking, is the favorite to clinch it tomorrow. Michael Llodra stands in his way today, who also has performed over his ability in Rotterdam. Both players show straight set wins over good players. On the other half, Gilles Simon and Robin Soderling seem just as strong. Soderling-Simon is hard to predict, but Karlovic’s 6-4, 6-4, win over Berdych is so impressive that I will give him the edge against Llodra.

I believe this year could be it for the big Ivo, and will probably have to win a lot on grass to achieve something before he gets old. Maybe finally win at Queen’s club?

Or maybe Roddick won’t allow him this year either. Roddick beat his pal Fish in 3 sets in San Jose and will hit Spain’s!! Garcia-Lopez in the semis. Fish had plenty of opportunities in the first set and won the second 6-1! I think it was Fish’s lack of ability rather than Roddick’s excellence that decided the outcome. Stepanek is another guy who looks back on track, but he will have to beat Ginepri who simply tore Blake apart 6-2, 6-2 in the QF. It might just be an all American final here.

By the way… if any of you saw Isner-Garcia-Lopez, please tell us what the hell separated the two… 7-6(4), 6-7(1), 7-6(11) tells me this match was relatively close, right? I imagine that Isner was inches away from victory and Garcia-Lopez was less than a game from defeat in second set. Based on this, Garcia-Lopez will probably struggle against Roddick tonight.

And on the red clay, Nalbandian seems to be on his way back, but I don’t know if he has had the real test yet. He will meet Chela in the SF, while Volandri and Acasuso will fight for the second spot. This could go Nalby’s way and catapult him into success in March. Err….maybe not solely based on this, but still a kick.

BTW, the post title could have been “no top 10 players in sight, but….” if Roddick wasn’t around. Federer, Nadal, Djoko, Davy, Ferrer, Gasquet, Youzhny, Blake, Murray… what the hell are they doing? Is losing early a part of their prep plan for Dubai and Indian Wells?

And I don’t really understand why Federer, will go through January and February only having played ONE tournament! 6 competitive matches! How is this good prep for Dubai?

Top players down and out

February 21, 2008

We haven’t even gotten to the night matches and almost all seeds are out. David Ferrer lost 2-6, 5-7 against qualifier Zverev. Llodra took care of Davydenko in 2 as well, and same old by Karlovic over Berdych. Biggest upset was certainly Seppi’s suprise win over Nadal 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. What is this telling you? I thought Federer and Djokovic should have played this week so that they are ready for Dubai. If Nadal and the other guys play this poorly in Dubai (those who actually will play there), will most likely have a difficult time in March and the two master’s.

In Buenos Aires the story is opposite. All seeds are winning, including Nalbandian, Chela, Almagro, and Starace. The other half of R16 will be played today.

San Jose is still a in R16 and the two highlights are Haas-Isner and Roddick-Nishikori. Interesting to see what Isner can do at home, if he can still play like he did in August-September and if Roddick has the power to take out the Japanese Nishikori, who showed his good pal Blake a thing or two about tennis on Sunday.

Enjoy!

Big News from Holland

February 20, 2008

Andy Murray, fresh Marseille champion, went down big time against local hero Robian Haase. Was it Murray’s less than optimal performance or was it Haase, the rising star’s good performance? It’s really up to you to decide. But one thing is certain, Murray is far from any “change” in his up-and-down trend the past few years. Question remains if he can stay in the top 10 this time. If he continues to go from title to 1st round loss… no!

But hey…. go Haase!

Rotterdam, San Jose, Buenos Aires

February 19, 2008

Of the three only one tournament will be really interesting. Rotterdam offers 8 seeded players and all of them in the top 20. 4 top 10 players. That’s a good sign for Rotterdam as they go into 2009 being a masters 500 tournament. Popularity doesn’t seem to be a problem for them. One who does have problems is Youzhny, defending champ in Rotterdam, lost last night against the much feared Tipsarevic. That will most likely make him drop out of top 10 again.

Nadal has a tough draw, and will meet Tursunov in the first and possibly Hewitt in the second. Besides that, he could go to a final against Ferrer or Murray. It will be interesting to see how well Murray is able to play doing 2 in 2. Can he win 2 in 2?

In Buenos Aires red clay is the word, and so is the label on most players contesting. Nalbandian is back in action and is already in round 2. Being top seed will probably do him good as he has to contest with Monaco, Moya, Chela and Almagro for the title. Man that’s a clay-filled field!

Not so much clay in San Jose, but not too many top players. Roddick and Blake are on opposite ends with Tommy Haas as the only real threat. Should be mentioned that Delray Beach champ Nishikori is going against Hartfield and could make a Roddick-clash in 2nd round.

And for all of you Sampras fanatics… he will play exhibition (if he hasn’t already) in San Jose. Remember that this tournament is streamed live on B2B, so please… Samprasify yourself!

Tennisful week

February 17, 2008

A couple of important notes from Marseilles is that Baghdatis has played a good tournament, reaching the semi final and losing to another “surprise” Ancic.  Ancic was the man who ended Tsonga’s ATP momentum. He then managed to take out Baggy in straight sets. Now Andy Murray is the man to beat in the final. He has also played convincingly, apart from being a few points away from defeat against Wawrinka.

I think this will be a real nice match. If Ancic can serve his best, Murray should be in trouble. In fact, Ancic is up 1-0 in straight sets against Murray. How about that!

Too bad I can’t watch it. I welcome some reports!

The clay tournament in Brasil was nothing but a routine from the best players. Moya and Almagro will fight like crazy for their first 2008 title

The most important news this week comes from Delray beach. You thought this would be an American tournament? You bet! 3 of 4 semi finalists from USA is not bad for a nation who struggles to find top 20 players. Who is that last guy? A Japaneese player (Nishikori) ranked 244!! He had 3-5 career record before the tournament, and his best result is the QF in Indianapolis last year. This guy hasn’t won any challenger, but has played consistent good tennis and has gone from no ranking to 244 in 2 years. Last night he saved 4 match points and was able to beat Sam Querrey. You think Blake is scared?

I hope for the sake of tennis that more players from China, Japan and the rest of Asia pushes up the rankings and makes tennis a WORLD sport. Like I’ve written before, if we go back a couple of decades, there weren’t too many nations on the ATP ranking. We know how good potentially Chinese and Japanese can become in any sport with increasing interest. I like, I like! But for Blakes’ sake I hope he will clinch his home title and return in the top 10.

Tsonga.. out, Djokovic…out, Gasquet…out

February 15, 2008

Why?!

First of all, if I were French, I would give it my absolute best to win A home tournament. Now it is true that France has plenty of them, ONE GS, ONE Master’s, a few smaller ones; so you probably don’t have the ambition of winning them all. But if your name is Tsonga or Gasquet, you probably should try even harder. Ancic took care of Tsonga in 2 sets, which should not be possible for a player who hasn’t had any real run of victories this past year. Gasquet went down against Soderling, who took down Nieminen. I’m not convinced that Gasquet belongs in the top 10. Soderling, at this point in time should be a win for Richy.

Novak Djokovic is another sad story. This guy needs to figure out his fitness and breathing issues. Is it a genetic problem? Or is it something with his individual fitness? Or was this just a completely no-prob illness which contributed to a stop in the momentum. But if you struggle physically after the Davis Cup, WHY would you go and play in France? Think, and rest that talent!

I think we’ll see a Murray-Youzhny final were the outcome is hard to tell.

I Brasil, Moya and Almagro (1st and 2nd seeds) are heading for a final clash, but Volandri who just beat Coria 6-1, 6-2, could join in on the fun. Or ruin it for Almagro.

In Delray Beach it’s pretty much USA all the way. Blake, Ginepri, Fish, Spadea, Querrey, Reynolds (who?) are still in. So it’s a good deal for the Americans, at least 2 players in the semis but with a potential of four. In fact, I believe that’s possible.

This Reynolds guy has beaten Malisse, Hartfield could clearly take out Nishikori?? from Japan.

At this point though, it looks like a Blake-Querrey final.

Coria – how high can he go?

February 13, 2008

Coria is back in business and is trying to “come back” from a long break. He was a consistent top 10 player only a few years ago and surely has what it takes. The question is how fast can he “come back”. He won his first round match in Brasil yesterday, which was his first victory since July 06. Last final was Beijing 2005, and last win Umag same year.

Now it’s just about getting that top 10 feel back and finally a Nadal challenger. Who remembers the Rome 2005 final?? It would be nice to see Coria back on track on clay this season. So, what say you? Top 10 by the end of the year? Top 20 before Wimbledon? Or not even 50?