Posts Tagged ‘Almagro’

QF @ Roland Garros

June 3, 2008

Finally, we have come to the point where the BEST of the best remain!
Let’s start with today’s action:

Almagro – Nadal
No doubt that Almagro has made a good run here in Paris. He has never been past a 4th round of a slam and as his chance now against Nadal. Is is a chance, or is it merely an event that needs to be completed. IMO Almagro has never looked this strong, the only problem being that Nadal has arguably never looked this strong either. It’s Spain vs. Spain, Murcia vs. Mallorca, Defense vs. Offense. What I love about Almagro’s game is that he is not even clos to mainstream Spain clay game. He tries to hit winners ASAP and has probably the most vicious serve of the top ranked Spaniards. (not including Lopez) Could he pull it off? No, I would be surprised to see Nadal lose a set, but again.. I think this is the first match where Nadal plays an in-form player who just hit the highest rank a few weeks ago. He is actually en route to a place for Shanghai, being #9 at this point.
Nadal takes it in 4.

Gulbis – Djokovic
Ok. Logically this is Djokovic in three short sets, right? And it could be… However! Gulbis is probably the biggest talent since.. well Djokovic. I don’t know if he’s much of a talent, but he has a very mature and fine tuned game. Big serve, big groundstrokes, and if I’m correctly informed… clay is his least favorite surface. QF is his best, like Almagro, so argument is NOTHING TO LOSE! The only problem for Gulbis is that he hasn’t had a real opponent yet. Nothing compared to Djoko. Blake, Llodra, Lapenti, Greul… not the list of the best clay players. I think the match will go to Serbia, but this is a real battle between two miniscule countries with two great talented players. Think about it… Serbia vs. Latvia!! Where the heck is Russia and the US? I’m afraid Djokovic will take the advantage of having the lowest ranked player as opponent and do a fast workout in 3 sets
Djokovic in 3

Yesterday… all of Stepanek’s troubles seemed so far away..
Ferrer-Stepanek was a sick match. Physically sick, mentally sick… anyway you want it. Rollercoaster is a mild expression to a match where both players had momentum every other point, every other, game or most significant every other set. Stepanek took the third set 6-1, but still managed to lost the 4th quite easily. Was down 0-4 in the final, came back to 4-4 just to be broken back and losing the incredible momentum. It’s not only Stepanek who contributed to the rollercoaster, Ferrer was just as inconsistent with his groundstrokes. I don’t know how Ferrer will get past Monfils if he doesn’t show some more consistency.

Monfils on the other hand impressed me. He was more consistent than ever. He got broken too many times, but seemed to break back with ease a couple of times, against Ljubicic who has hit a very low number of unforced this tournament. Not the best tennis, but both players played a reasonable medium-paced game with a lot of combos and flat hit shots. Very nice to watch, and very nice for France to at least have gotten one out of the 5 players into the QF.

Federer and Gonzo sailed through in 3 sets and didn’t sweat their brains out. Therefore it might be some high quality tennis when they meet next time. Remember Shanghai 2007? Gonzo has actually beaten Federer now, so nothing is impossible.
That’s tomorrow… for now.. Enjoy today’s tennis

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Last 16 and end of 1st week

May 31, 2008

Finally we have made it to the players who have deserved to be going into 2nd week. RG is IMO the hardest of the 4 slams to get past the first 3 rounds. There are so many clay lover below top 100 who could take the advantage and get instant fame. Who am I talking about…hmm
Well, there’s Chardy!! That’s the only one who’s left, but there are always a few players who come from nothing and get big wins against big guys.

Let’s go to today’s action and find the man of the day… IVAN LJUBICIC!!!

Why, you say? Firstly he was down 2-0 against the 4th best clay player, the robotic Davydenko. Second, he has fallen down from top 3-4 to #30 very fast and with no good results to show in recent time. Third, he is one of the BIG guys with the big serve as main weapon. History shows that these guys succeed more on hard courts and grass. Fact of the matter is Ljubi played great tennis, few errors and made Davydenko come up with the good stuff. He wasn’t able anymore after the first two sets, and Ivan took over. Great match, great setting and a great result for the big guy from Croatia. Kinda the only surprise left, apart from Chardy in the last 16.

Gonzalez did the same thing today, but you would excpect him to play a lot better than what he showed during the first two sets. Gonzo is a rollercoaster of another dimension and needs stability to get a big title. Wawrinka playing his best is perhaps not as good as Gonzo playing his best. That’s why Gonzo won, I think.

Ok, here’s a breakdown of the remaining candidates:
Federer-Benneteau (Federer just torn Ancic apart, will do it to Benne as well)
Gonzo-Ginepri (is this for real?! If Gonzo loses this, shame on him!)
Ljubicic-Monfils (this could go either way, depending on mental strength+best tennis possible)
Stepanek-Ferrer (probably to of the biggest dark horses to win the entire thing, super match!)
Gulbis-Llodra (big chance for both of them, is Gulbis mature enough to take it? 50-50 IMO)
Mathieu-Djokovic (either Mathieu plays his best and has a chance, or plays poorly and gets humiliated at home)
Chardy-Almagro (bye bye Chardy, Almagro losing this would be a big upset! who knows?)
Verdasco-Nadal (bye bye Verdasco. never beaten him, never even close, except for once on grass..Nadal in 3 I’m afraid)

Contenders for Roland Garros

May 23, 2008

All right. The draw is out. What d’ y’all think?! Before I get to the draw, here’s a list of the top contenders. There’s no point in analyzing the draw without the missing qualifiers. They are, more often than not, good enough to beat some of the other jokers.

1. Rafael Nadal
King of clay. Rafa will get the #1 position to win this title for many years to come I think. I mean, are there really any indications that this is wrong? All things considered, his clay season has been better than people want to say. Every player must experience an injury or some sort of problem SOMETIME!
Blisters was Nadal’s stop. Could this be decisive? I thought that this might be a problem for Rafa, but Hamburg proved that predictions wrong. I don’t know how two weeks of best of 5 sets will be any different. He might get the same problems, but he might also be perfectly fit. Perhaps he has grown a new layer of skin, who the heck knows? Let’s just say that if he doesn’t reach a final, it will be more surprising than any year.

2. Roger Federer
Will he make the final? I cannot see why. Like with Rafa, for every year he plays excellent tennis on clay, the bigger the upset will be if he DOESN’T make the final. Yes, there is Djokovic, but that’s it.
His clay season has only had 1 downside. Losing to Stepanek was bad timing. That Rome title was a must-win, especially after Nadal was out. Instead he let Djokovic take it and get CLOSER and CLOSER!
He will make the final, don’t you worry.

3. Novak Djokovic
Okay. Now this is new material. This time last year, we wasn’t too far away from #3, but still wasn’t in the same position he is today. Djokovic has had a great clay season. In fact, SF, W and SF in the masters is better than the two kids further up. He played a good match against Nadal and might play another one in the SF in Paris. He is still behind Nadal on clay. Best of 5 sets, is not gonna help.

4. Davydenko
As we speak, Davydenko is playing for the title in Austria. Doesn’t he EVER get tired? He actually had to play two 3 set matches in like a half a day! Do they make robots in Russia?! So no surprise to see him in another SF against Federer. A year (or 2) ago it would not be a big upset if he lost early. These days he gets to SFs and still has points to hunt in Wimbledon. The more he plays, the better he gets it seems.

5. Ferrer & Robredo
From this point on, I don’t believe we are speaking about contenders for the title. Ferrer finished 2007 on a perfect note. 2008 has been more routine-Ferrer. He hasn’t really too many good results to show in Paris, and based on the draw he has a good chance of getting to the SF, if he wants to.
I need to place Robredo just as high. They have performed almost equally on clay, and they might meet before getting to a potential SF with Federer. A match between the two would favor Ferrer (3-1) but you never know with Ferrer.

7. Almagro
Has done a good job this season. Started things good on HC and has improved on clay. He hit a career-high rank of 17 (now 20) and this might be the year where he can break through top 10. However, HC and Grass isn’t something he loves so that would be weird. He has only 35!!! points to defend. I can see him in 4th round, this year. But playing his best clay tennis, who knows?

8. Andreev
Has not impressed anyone on clay this year. Still a clay lover and last year’s QF must be defended. He seems to perform a little better in bigger events. It all depends on that forehand.

9. Wawrinka
Will Federer be able to say that they have a strong DC team, finally?!?! Wawrinka made quite a name of himself by reaching the final in Rome. The SF that Nadal was supposed to play. So a little lucky? You frickin’ bet! HOWEVER!! he has played well this year and if he has enough points to be #10, then sure why NOT?! No realistic contender of course, but one of the few who could surprise.

10. David Nalbandian
Likes to play on clay from what I know. He just needs to grab his you-know-what and get more disciplined or something! He has bigger potential than most people believe but hasn’t done anything big since Wimbledon final almost a damn decade ago. Okay, and TMC final where he beat Federer. But why not on clay? He has two SF to show in Paris. If you can get there, you can make the final. only #10 on my list though.

AMS Rome QFS – my favorite kind

May 9, 2008

…is when seeds fall and other players have a chance to do some title hunting. I watched Robredo-Davydenko last night and the frustration just grew and grew. On behalf of both players really. 12 og 13 breaks of serve!! 2hrs 40min!! Robredo was ahead 3-0 and 5-3 AND behind in the breaker. Robredo and Davydenko sure are good players, but both have that little something which classifies them as top 10, but not top 5. Unforced errors on key points was pretty much the description of the match. He did manage to save the Spanish pride by having two left in the last 8. You know what other countries have two players?

Switzerland and USA! Federer sailed past Karlovic, and Wawrinka passed the Nadal-slayer Ferrero. And James frickin’ Blake… how did he beat Verdasco? Blake is almost worse than Roddick on the red stuff, and Verdasco simply loves this type of rally-sliding-angleling tennis. They said that conditions are relatively fast due to warm weather the last days. That certainly helps the Americans on the way. Roddick is perhaps not the same hero, but beating local hope Bollelli was also a good performance.

And then, there are Stepanek and Djokovic who seem less stable at times. Both played one bad set each in their respective 3rd rounds. Why? Djokovic still seems to struggle with his breath and Stepanek…no clue..age or volleys letting him down…who knows? I know that inconsistency won’t work against Federer, so Fed will get to the SF. Djokovic will have to battle clay lover Almagro who didn’t play yesterday as Gonzo chose not to play. That might just be enough for Almagro to pull off an upset, not because he isn’t tired, but because Djokovic is. I still think Federer-Djokovic is the top half SF.

On the bottom half, Roddick goes in with a perfect 7-0 against Robredo. In fact he beat Robredo here in 2002 in straight sets. Somehow Roddick played better on clay in 01-03 so who knows if he’s still on that level. Due to this record I hold Roddick as slight favorite, BUT Robredo with more consistency on the baseline will get a mediocre-serving Roddick. 51-49 to Roddick.

James Blake will get a tough time against Wawrinka. Wawrinka is one of those players with GREAT potential, but never being able to show or use his ability over a long period of time. Blake seems to have found his confidence and will probably take a set. But this is also open, and I see Wawrinka as a slight favorite, but not more than Roddick is in the other match. I can also mention Wawrinka won their only meeting, which was in Paris. Wawrinka won a 5 set match which, yes, Blake had a 2-0 lead. But the match is definately OPEN.

Based on this Fed wil beat the heck out of Djokovic and Roddick will beat Wawrinka for his first clay final in decades. Federer will of course WIN.

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.