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Shelby Rogers Continues Cinderella Run In French Open Quarterfinals

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Shelby Rogers, the 23-year-old American ranked No. 108 in the world, reached her first major quarterfinal at Roland Garros Sunday as she dispatched the No. 25 seed Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.

Rogers, the second-to-last directly accepted player into the tournament, is making the most of her opportunity as she has now defeated her third seeded opponent in four rounds.

After defeating the No. 17 seed Karolina Pliskova in the first round and the No. 10 seed Petra Kvitova in the third round, Rogers went into her fourth round encounter with Begu brimming with confidence.

“I have done that pretty much this whole tournament, starting with the first round” said Rogers of backing up a big win with another stellar performance. “That was a huge upset for me and kind of set the tone for the last few matches I have played.”

Rogers, who made the final of a clay court tournament in Rio in February of this year, got off to a good start on Sunday, breaking Begu in just the third game of the match to get out to an early lead. That lead would be backed up by a strong serving performance in the first set, as Rogers didn’t face a single break point and only lost one point in her last two service games before grabbing another break at 5-3 to close out the set.

Rogers ensured that she kept playing with the aggressive mindset that she had used to get her to this stage and it was paying dividends so far in the fourth round.

“Keep your game plan and your strategy and keep doing what you have been doing…just keep going after it…It was working in the first, it’s going to work again. So keep doing it,” said Rogers.

After Begu was able to break in the first game of the second set and jump out to a 2-0 lead, Rogers was able to turn the momentum back in her favor with that same strategy, allowing herself to reel off four games in a row, including two breaks and two holds at love, putting herself just two games from the quarterfinals.

The Romanian did not go away, though, breaking Begu back and taking the set to 4-4. Rogers was able to restore order with a hold to go up 5-4, before quickly going up 15-40 and capitalizing on her first break point of the game, getting an unforced error from Begu that gave her the win.

Rogers, who will now take on the No. 4 seed Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals, has to keep reminding herself that this isn’t a dream.

“I’m definitely outside of my comfort zone already and I keep telling myself you belong here,” said Rogers. “I’m ready to step up the challenge. I have nothing to lose. I have no pressure. It’s just been a great experience here and I want to keep enjoying it and keep pushing myself.”

Richard Gasquet also had an emotional win on Sunday as he was able to reach his first quarterfinal at the French Open with a four set win over Kei Nishikori, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

When the rain came and delayed play for a couple hours, Gasquet found himself down a break in the first set. However, once he and Nishikori returned to the court, the Frenchman had everything going his way, and, before he could even realize it, found himself up two sets to love.

“I think this rain interruption did me a world of good because we had a very good chat,” said Gasquet of utilizing his time off the court to discuss strategy with his coach Sergi Bruguera.

Gasquet closed out the second set with a winner off of his majestic one-handed backhand wing and sent the French crowd into a frenzy. That French crowd has been looking for a home champion since Yannick Noah won the title in 1983.

Gasquet, of course, still has three more matches to win, the first of which will be against Andy Murray in the quarterfinals, but reaching the quarterfinals is an achievement in itself for him.

Calling Court Philippe-Chatrier the “biggest stage in the world for a French player,” Gasquet had more than enough motivation to get himself through the match and earn the win.

The match felt like “a Davis Cup match for me today,” said Gasquet. “I admit it made a big difference for me and of course it will be the same on Tuesday, but for sure I need to play a big match.”

Gritty Serena Williams Continues To Advance At Roland Garros

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Serena Williams was able to fight off a spirited attack from Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic on Saturday at the French Open as she won their third round encounter, 6-4, 7-6(10).

Williams, who has been the No. 1 player in the world for the past 172 weeks, got the match started in a manner that most of her matches go, holding at love and forcing her opponent to stress in her first service game, winning the first six points of the match. Mladenovic, though, was able to fight for the hold and quickly turned the first set in her favor as she became the aggressor and was dominating the majority of the points, bringing the French crowd to life.

“I had not been playing my game. I was playing really defensive. It’s not me,” said Williams.

Mladenovic was able to take Williams to deuce in three of her last four service games in the set, having a look at four break points in that span.

Williams, being the fierce warrior that the tennis world has come to know, fought off all of that pressure and quickly applied it to Mladenovic as she served to stay in the first set at 4-5. Williams raced out to a 0-40 lead in the game, eventually converting on her third break point to close out the set with the only break of the match.

In the second set, Williams carried the momentum and played dominantly as she never fell behind in any of her service games. Playing so freely on her own serve, Williams continuously had looks to break Mladenovic’s serve, seeing nine in total in the set, but was unable to take advantage of any of them and was forced to play an epic tiebreak that lasted 19 minutes.

That tiebreak was put on hold for more than two and a half hours as a massive thunderstorm passed over Paris and delayed all play at Roland Garros. But once the rain had subsided and the courts were prepared for play again, the level of play from Williams and Mladenovic was just as high as it was before the rain came.

Mladenovic, the No. 26 seed, held leads at 3-0 and 5-2 in the tiebreak, but Williams was able to win four points in a row for a 6-5 lead and a match point. Mladenovic was able to save four match points, and had a set point of her own, but in the end, the 21-time major champion was too good and capitalized on her fifth match point to close out the two set win in over two and a half hours.

“I think she played well. I feel like I made a tremendous amount of errors, but I feel like she kind of forced me to,” said Williams, praising Mladenovic’s play.

Williams’ win sees her move into the fourth round of the French Open where only 16 women are left, and she will take on Elina Svitolina, the No. 18 seed.

Rafael Nadal Withdrawal Shocks Roland Garros

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

The biggest news of the day at the French Open on Friday wasn’t caused by something that happened on the court, rather by a decision made by nine-time champion Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard, who was the No. 4 seed in the event this year, announced that he had withdrawn himself from the tournament.

“This is one of the toughest press conferences of my career…If it wasn’t Roland Garros, I probably wouldn’t have taken the risks (of playing with an injury). It’s the most important event of the year for me,” said Nadal.

The cause of Nadal’s surprising decision was a left wrist injury that the Spaniard has been dealing with for the past “couple of weeks”, just another bullet point on a long list of injuries that have hindered his success in the past few years.

Nadal first felt pain in his wrist three weeks ago when he played in the quarterfinals of Madrid, but attempted to play through the pain in Rome, and then in Paris.

After beating Sam Groth and Facundo Bagnis in his first two matches in Paris, losing only nine games in the process, many began to believe that Nadal would be able to provide a tough challenge to Novak Djokovic in the latter stages of the tournament.

Unfortunately for Nadal and fans of tennis, there will not be a 50th meeting between the two great champions, as the pain in Nadal’s wrist continued to grow.

“I arrived here with a little bit of pain but I thought it was something I would be able to manage, but every day it got a bit worse,” said Nadal.

While many will be disappointed with his decision to leave the tournament, Nadal is doing what is best for him and his career as he is weary of the potential problems that would come from playing with his injured wrist.

“It’s not broken, but if I keep playing it’s going to be broken in the next couple of days,” said Nadal.

“To have won the tournament I would have had to play five more matches and the doctor told me that was 100 percent impossible,” said Nadal.

Nadal and his team hope that he will be able to play in Wimbledon and are taking all the necessary steps to ensure that happens.

“I need a couple of weeks with the immobilization. Then we’re going to do the treatment and we hope the treatment works well. We expect to recover quick,” said Nadal.

Nadal’s withdrawal grants fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers a walkover into the fourth round.

On the court, headlines were made by 23-year old American Shelby Rogers as she upset two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova by a 6-0, 6-7(3), 6-0 score line.

After racing out a hot start, converting on three out of four break points and saving the only one she faced in the first set, Rogers began to be challenged by Kvitova in the second set. The Czechwoman had a breakpoint in Rogers’ first service game of the second set but couldn’t convert, but did grab her first and only break of the match when Rogers was serving up a break at 4-3 and looked like it could be a turning point.

Kvitova went on to take the second set in a tiebreak, but was unable to carry the momentum over into the decider. Rogers stood strong and continued to play well as she had done all match, going up 0-40 in Kvitova’s first service game and breaking for an early lead. Kvitova had a look to break right back, but once again failed to convert on a break point, and that was ultimately where the match ended.

Rogers went on to break twice more, with a hold at love thrown in the middle, to close out the set and the match.

Rogers, the No. 108 player in the world, earned her first appearance in the fourth round of a major with her win over the No. 10 seed. The moment gave Rogers, and fans of American tennis, plenty to cheer for and be emotional about.

“It was incredible…I’m one that cries very easily and I think everyone saw that. I immediately started crying,” said Rogers.

Irina-Camelia Begu, the No. 25 seed from Romania, will be Rogers’ next opponent.

Tsonga Stages 0-2 Comeback To Earn 100th Major Win

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga earned his 100th win at a major and advanced to the third round of the French Open on Thursday in Paris after battling back from a two set deficit against Marcos Baghdatis, earning the 6-7(6), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win.

Tsonga, who owned a 6-0 head-to-head record over Baghdatis, came into the match with plenty of confidence playing in front of his home crowd, but the experienced Cypriot was up to the task in the early stages.

In the battle of former Australian Open finalists, Baghdatis in 2006 and Tsonga in 2008, Baghdatis’ strategy was to utilize the drop shot as much as possible and make the Frenchman run all over the court. Throughout the first set, that gameplan worked perfectly for the Baghdatis, the former No. 8 player in the world, and it allowed him to have the confidence to go up an early break and eventually save a set point in the first set tiebreak before going on to win it.

The French faithful did not give up hope in the highest ranked French player as he showed signs of being able to battle back from the deficit, despite the fact that Baghdatis had been playing at such a high level. After going up a break early in the second set, all seemed to be right for Tsonga, but Baghdatis was able to break right back before going on to grab another break later in the set. A hold at love, including an ace at set point, gave the Cypriot a two sets to love lead, pulling him to within one set of his first third round appearance at the French Open since 2010.

“He just played perfectly, tactically in the first two, and he pushed me to give the best of myself,” said Tsonga of Baghdatis’ play.

The high quality play from Baghdatis in the first two sets was all for naught, however, as Tsonga was able to battle back, as the majority of the crowd on Court Philippe-Chatrier expected. Baghdatis, who has struggled with fitness before, including in his epic second round encounter with Andre Agassi at the 2006 US Open, Agassi’s final professional tournament, began to show signs of decreasing energy as he began to make too many errors and relied on his drop shot too much to shorten points.

After dropping the third set, Baghdatis had a chance in the fourth to go up a break again, but Tsonga came up clutch and did not look back from there. Two breaks in the fourth and fifth sets came easily to Tsonga as he was able to eventually pull out the five-set win and advance to the third round where he will take on 2014 French Open semifinalist Ernests Gulbis.

Baghdatis never gave up on the drop shot throughout the match, finishing up by hitting 68 total. “Over five sets that’s a lot of running to the net, very tiring,” said Tsonga, who successfully came back from two sets to love down for the third time in his career.

On the women’s side, both Williams sisters won their matches easily with 6-2, 6-1 score lines. Serena beat Teliana Pereira of Brazil, while Venus defeated fellow American Louisa Chirico.

Venus, who is 15 years older than her opponent on Thursday, cited experience as the deciding factor over the young and talented Chirico. “Louisa has a lot of talent but I think I had the experience. Today, I was lucky that I’ve played 20 years here at Roland Garros…It’s not as much fun when you have to meet an American early on, but the best part is an American will go through,” said Venus.

Andy Murray Survives Against French Wild Card In Another Five-Setter At Roland Garros

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

French wild card Mathias Bourgue gave Andy Murray another scare at the French Open on Wednesday as he forced the two-time major champion to five sets. Murray, who had to come back from two sets to love down to beat Radek Stepanek in the first round, had to fight back from a two sets to one hole in the second round, eventually earning the 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win.

The No. 2 seeded Murray was not only battling the spirited wild card, but also the French faithful on Court Philippe-Chatrier who gave their full support to Bourgue throughout the match as he gave the crowd much more to cheer for than anticipated.

The match began as most would have expected as Murray raced out to a 6-2, 2-0 lead, but that was where the match turned on its head as Bourgue was able to roll off a six-game win streak, taking the set and leveling the match at one set all.

The Frenchman was able to battle back thanks to a dip in concentration for Murray that led to him making too many unforced errors. “It wasn’t like I was not there mentally, but I just couldn’t find the court,” said Murray.

Bourgue, a 22 year-old who is currently ranked No. 164 in the world, continued his hot streak into the third set and outplayed Murray, utilizing a variety of shots to get the job done.

The sense was present throughout the match that Murray would be able to battle back and find a way to pull out the win, like he has shown so many times before throughout his career. That was the case as Murray was able to begin controlling his shots more in the fourth set, limiting his unforced error count to just three in the set and finding a way to assert himself on the court.

The fifth set was more of the same as the much more experienced Murray continued his roll in the fifth set, attacking the youth and inexperience of Bourgue to earn two breaks and close out the match.

Murray highly praised the young Frenchman for his performance on Wednesday, but clearly stated his disappointment with his own level of play. “Today certainly wasn’t easy. I lost my way on the court today for quite a while…You can’t continue playing matches like that and then expect to win the tournament” said Murray.

The Brit will take on big serving Ivo Karlovic in the third round. Karlovic had a scare himself in the second round, as he was forced to play 22 games in the fifth set of his matchup with Australian Jordan Thompson, eventually pulling out the 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 12-10 win.

Another Frenchman in action on Wednesday was on the opposite end of the potential upset bid as Gilles Simon battled back from two sets to love down to beat Argentine Guido Pella, 4-6, 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(4), 6-4.

Pella, who is having a career year after having reached his career his career high ranking of No. 39 in March, raced out two a two sets lead and looked to be in complete control of the match. After going up a break in the third set and having a 3-1 lead, Pella was just three games away from his first third round appearance at a major, but the battle tested Simon needed to give his French faithful something to cheer for.

After going down 3-1, Simon won six of the next eight games, breaking Pella back to take the third set and keep the match alive.

Pella’s upset bid was far from over, though, as he broke in the first game of the fourth set and held a 4-2 lead before Simon was once again able to break late in the set to get back on serve, eventually forcing a tiebreak. The Argentine’s hopes looked to be crushed in that fourth set tiebreak as Simon raced out to a 5-0 lead and eventually won 7-4 to force a deciding fifth set.

The battle continued into the fifth set as each player was forced to battle in their service games, including at 2-2 where Simon had two break points and took advantage of the second one to begin his closing out of the match.

When the Frenchman served for it at 5-4, Pella showed just how much of a battler he is. A 22-point game ensued and Pella had a look at three break points, but Simon was too good and came up clutch as he saved all of them and finished off the comeback win to the delight of the Parisian crowd.

Simon’s epic win sets up a battle in the third round with Viktor Troicki.

Kerber and Azarenka Upset As Murray Survives At Roland Garros

Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber was upset on Tuesday at the French Open by Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, highlighting the biggest upset so far this year in Paris.

Kerber, the No. 3 seed in the event, had the unfortunate luck of drawing Bertens who was on a seven match win streak and had won 18 of her last 21 matches, dating back to March.

The Dutchwoman was able to continue her good run of form into Paris, as she got off to a hot start, breaking Kerber in just her second service game of the match. From there, Bertens, the No. 58 player in the world, only lost four points on her serve to close out the set, and broke the German again for a comfortable first set win.

Kerber looked to bounce back in the second set, as she fought through getting taken to deuce in her first two service games while Bertens cruised through hers. In the sixth game of the set, though, the tides appeared to turn as Bertens played one poor service game and Kerber jumped all over it, breaking at love for her first lead of the match. Bertens was able to break back in the next game, but Kerber kept her composure and broke once more before closing out the set comfortably, taking the match to a decider.

Bertens didn’t let the disappointment of dropping the second set get to her and, unlike most upset bids, was able to stave off the late fight of the more experienced player. Bertens broke in Kerber’s first service game of the third set, but Kerber certainly did not allow her to cruise to the win. While serving at 3-1, Bertens fought off two break points to hold before saving one more at 5-3, as she was able to close out the match and book her spot in the second round.

Berten’s opponent in the next round will be Camila Giorgi of Italy, who defeated Frenchwoman Alize Lim, 6-3, 6-2.

Another notable player to exit the French Open was No. 5 seed Victoria Azarenka, as she was forced to retire while losing in the third set against Karin Knapp with a knee injury.

On the men’s side, Andy Murray was able to fight back from two sets to love down in his match that was suspended from Monday against Radek Stepanek, 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5. After dropping the first two sets to the experienced Czech, Murray fought back to win the third set and was up 4-2 when play had to be stopped for the night.

When play resumed on Tuesday, Murray was able to close out the fourth set, saving two break points along the way, and force a deciding fifth set that was much tougher than he would have hoped.

Murray had very few problems on his serve throughout the set, but Stepanek fought hard on his service games and gave the Brit very little to work with. That was the case until he served at 5-5 and Murray was finally able to break through, breaking at 30-40 for the chance to close out the match.

Murray, the No. 2 seed, was taken to deuce by Stepanek, but was able to close out the win in the end and force a matchup with French wild card Mathias Bourgue in the second round.

 

Defending Champ Wawrinka Evades First-Round Upset At Roland Garros

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Defending champion Stan Wawrinka survived a major scare on Monday at the French Open as he withstood a tremendous effort from Lukas Rosol and won in five sets, 4-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Rosol, the No. 59 player in the world from the Czech Republic, got off to a quick start in the first set as he broke Wawrinka for a 3-2 lead, but Wawrinka continued to battle despite going down a break as he took Rosol to deuce in two of his last three service games. The Czech stood strong and was able to close out the set, though, as he reminded tennis fans around the world that he is able to take out major champions, bringing back memories of his upset win over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012.

Rosol continued playing well early in the second set as his go-for-broke game plan was working out, but the two-time grand slam champion found something that clicked in the latter stages of the set and he forced Rosol into making a few more errors, earning himself two breaks and only losing two points in his last three service games to level the match at one set all.

After leveling the match, many would have thought Wawrinka would be able to cruise to victory, but Rosol did not go away and actually broke the No. 3 seed in his first service game of the third set. Just like in the first set, Rosol was able to keep his composure throughout and didn’t allow Wawrinka to earn a single break point as he regained a lead and was one set away from pulling off a major upset.

Despite dropping the third set, that is where Wawrinka believed the tides turned in his favor. “In the middle of the third set, I calmed down…I was trying to be really tough with him, and eventually that’s what made the difference,” said Wawrinka.

That difference was clearly felt in the fourth set as Wawrinka forced Rosol to play one bad service game at 3-4 that allowed Wawrinka to break at love and go on to serve out the set to force a decider.

Wawrinka was all business in the fifth set as he broke Rosol for a 2-1 lead and only lost six points on serve as he had no problems closing out the match and earning his spot in the second round, where he will take on Taro Daniel of Japan.

Wawrinka was in danger of becoming the first French Open men’s defending champion to lose in the first round, but he was able to fight off one of Rosol’s better performances of his career.

Another major champion in action on Monday did not have the same luck that Wawrinka did, as Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, lost in the first round to the No. 166 player in the world, Marco Trungelliti, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Trungelliti, a 26-year old from Argentina, got into the main draw after winning three qualifying matches, and earned his second win at a major after he also won a match at the Australian Open this year.

Cilic, the No. 10 seed in the event, went down a break early in the first set but appeared to work his way back to the match as he broke Trungelliti when the Argentine served for the first set. The lesser-experienced Trungelliti was surpringly able to keep his composure and saved three set points at 5-6 to force a tiebreak, which he was able to win 7-4 and stun Cilic.

Cilic went down a break early in the second set as he was broken in his first service game, but came back to break Trungelliti three times and looked like he had finally killed off the spirited upset bid from the Argentine.

That was far from the case, though, as Trungelliti continued to fight. Cilic went up a break late in the third set for a 4-2 lead, but was unable to consolidate as Trungelliti broke right back and ended up winning four games in a row to close out the set at 6-4, putting himself just one set away from what would be the biggest win of his career, by far.

Roles were reversed in the fourth set as Trungelliti looked like the major champion, breaking Cilic twice and not allowing the Croatian to see a single break point in the set, as not a single sign of nerves was shown. The Argentine closed out the four-set win emphatically with an ace, and booked a spot in the second round where he has a great opportunity to continue his run and make the third round, as he will take on Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain.

Trungelliti, who has never won a title above the Futures level, increased his best win by ranking by 61 spots after beating the No. 11 player in the world in Cilic. His previous best win came over Leonardo Mayer when he was ranked No. 72 in the world.

Petra Kvitova, Benoit Paire Highlight Opening Day At Roland Garros

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

On a rain shortened day of play in Paris, Benoit Paire made the French faithful nervous, but was eventually able to pull out a five-set win over the No. 137 player in the world, Radu Albot, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.

Paire appeared to have an easy day at the office on his hands after jumping out to a set and a break lead over Albot at 6-2, 3-1. Albot, the first player from Moldova to play in the main draw of a major, looked to settle in halfway through the second set as he got back on serve and broke Paire as he served to stay in the set at 4-5 to level the match at one set all.

The third set looked promising for Paire early on as he broke Albot at love to take a 3-2 lead, but that break was the first of five in a row that eventually saw Paire end up with a 5-4 lead. The Frenchman had no problems serving out the set to take a two sets to one lead and looked like he would be able to cruise into the second round to the delight of the home crowd.

If you have followed tennis for the past 12 months or so, then you know that nothing Paire is ever as straightforward as it should be, and that was certainly the case on the opening day of play. Paire, after taking the two sets to one advantage, looked to be uninterested in the fourth set as Albot was able to break serve three times and take it 6-1 to force a decider.

Albot, who had to win three qualifying matches to get into the main draw of the French Open, continued his fight throughout the fifth set, holding a break lead twice. Both times, though, Paire was able to break back in the next game as the lesser-experienced Albot was unable to come up clutch on the big points. This trend continued as Paire held a 5-4 lead on serve and Albot attempted to serve to stay in the match. Albot, though, found himself down 15-40, and Paire took advantage of the first match point he had to clinch the win and his spot in the second round.

Paire’s win see him go on to face Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia, who beat Donald Young in straight sets, 7-6(1), 6-2, 6-3.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova also had difficulty in her first round match, but was able to overcome Danka Kovinic of Montenegro on Court Philippe Chartrier, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

Kvitova, like Paire, was also up a set and a break and looked like she would cruise into the second round. Kovinic, 21-years old and the No. 59 player in the world, was able to break Kvitova three consecutive times in the second set to force a deciding third set.

Kovinic was able to utilize her firepower to force Kvitova out of her comfort zone. “I think she just came back and tried to play more aggressive…I was just trying to put the ball in, but it’s not really my game,” said Kvitova

Kovinic continued to play well throughout the decider and looked very comfortable on serve. That was the case until she broke Kvitova to take a 5-4 lead and served for the upset win. Kovinic got to within two points of the match at 30-30, but never held a match point as Kvitova was able to break and get back on serve.

After holding at love to take a 6-5 lead, Kvitova was able to break Kovinic one more time and close out the win, earning herself a spot in the second round against Su-Wei Hsieh, who defeated  Lara Arruabarrena, 7-6(6), 6-3.

Kvitova was happy to get the win, but knows she will have to play better if she has plans to advance to the later round of the tournament. “I think that the end of the match was kind of sorry from my side. It was a big fight again. I’m happy that I won it,” said Kvitova.

Djokovic, Nadal or Murray – Who Will Win The 2016 French Open?

The second Grand Slam of the year has started – and there‘s a big buzz about the victor-to-be already. Will we continue to see the same legendary players snatching their consecutive titles, or could we hope for a bit of fresh air in terms of a new star? Let‘s take a look at who‘s the most likely to win French Open.

 

A Debut Title for Djokovic?

While it may sound hardly likely that any title could be a first for a player like this, all tennis fans know that the only Grand Slam that Djokovic is yet to win is Roland Garros.  He managed to go to the finals thrice – and was defeated by Rafael Nadal in 2012 and 2014 and by Stan Wawrinka in 2015. Could this finally be his year?

According to the UK-licensed bookie TonyBet, it absolutely can: the odds for his outright win are 1.80, which is way ahead of anyone else. It’s only fair, too, as the world’s #1 has double the points that #2 Murray managed to collect, and he’s been in incredible form for a ridiculously long time.

Djokovic started off his season with a sixth Australian Open title, and while he did have a blip in his performance when he lost to Jiri Vesely in Monte Carlo, it seems to have gone away. He won Madrid Masters against Murray and even though the Scot managed to then stop him in Rome finals, the Serb remains a powerful contender.

Could Rafael Nadal Make a Phoenix Comeback?

If Djokovic seems to have disproportional amounts of trouble at French Open, Nadal is the exact opposite. He’s got nine titles, of which four and then five were consecutive, although Rafa did struggle last year and only went through to the QF. If there’s a Grand Slam he can rule though, it’s this one: can we expect the old Nadal back?

The TonyBet bookies think that he’s got a fair shot at this as they’ve given him the odds of 4.75 at winning his tenth Roland Garros. The world’s #5 has been having struggles with his form since 2014 when he suffered an injury, and his first Grand Slam of 2016 ended in the first round.

However, since then he’s managed to win Monte Carlo and Barcelona, although he did lose to Murray in Madrid Master’s SF and to Djokovic in Rome’s QF. Nadal seems to have gained at least some of his form back, and the upcoming tournament will really be a good show of that. And who knows – maybe he’ll finally win another Grand Slam title!

Andy Murray to Keep Climbing?

The Scottish player had a pretty good season last year – even though he didn’t bring home any Grand Slam titles, his form was pretty good and he managed to push Britain’s national team to the first Davis Cup trophy in 79 years. Could Murray go on to win his first French Open?

Even though the furthest that world’s #2 has managed to go in this tournament before is semi-finals, TonyBet bookies seem to have a reasonable amount of faith in him. The odds for Murray winning Roland Garros are at 4.90 which is just a smidge behind what Nadal got. Obviously, Djokovic remains a force to be reckoned with, but even he can fall.

The Serb has already been a big hurdle for Murray this year, beating him at the finals of Australian Open and Madrid Masters. However, the Scot managed to win against Djokovic at Rome finals, which is definitely a very good sign – although it remains clear that this is one of the scariest opponents he could face.

Still, we never know what surprises may strike us. A dark horse win is always a possibility, and we have seen that plenty of times in the past. While Djokovic, for example, absolutely dominates the ATP ratings, that doesn‘t mean he‘ll get every title. In any case, there‘s a lot to look forward to in the French Open, so make sure to not miss it!

Juan Carlos Ferrero Academy In Spain Adds “PlaySight” Technology

Juan Carlos Ferrero’s – Equelite Sport Academy joins an elite group of pioneers in Europe to introduce Playsight to their tennis courts and is the first academy in Spain of its kind to debut the smart video-analysis technology.

Playsight, a technological system developed by Israeli engineers, allows tennis players to monitor and analyze their on-court activity. Equipped with a similar technology akin to the revolutionizing Hawk-Eye, this innovative technology can generate the ability to perform a number of various, timed on-court exercies. As a feature of technology already largely affixed on tennis courts throughout the United States, Playsight is readily becoming more diffused throughout the world. It stands to mention that all Grand Slam training courts are equipped with Playsight technologies.

Juan Carlos Ferrero and Antonio M. Cascales (Ferrero’s career-long coach) have opted to install this smart court technology on their courts at their high performance academy in Villena. On Thursday, May 12th the academy hosted an official presentation to unveil Spain’s first Smart-Academy with the leading edge techonology, Playsight, in place. On hand for the event were Ferrero accompanied by leading academy players, Pablo Carreño-Busta (Currently ranked No. 43 in the ATP and No. 5 in the National Spanish rankings respectively) and Nicola Kuhn, a rising junior star with much awaited promise of a professional future who exhibited a live-demo of the Playsight system technolgies.

“This leading technology allows a player to improve their strokes more quickly thanks to instantaneous, personalized information made readily available at one’s fingertips. We’ve installed these smart courts with a clear objective in mind; to foster continuous player development mediated through an elite, game-changing technology used by the professionals.” Commented Cascales.

Ferrero highlighted a renewed sense of motivation that Playsight has generated among tplayers: “The target objectives of the exercises are defined much more visually. The machine tells you when you have successfully met your obectives, it even commends you with applause. Moreover, it makes players more aware of how they play, they can see their mistakes and learn how to improve along with their coaches.” Which in his day, the former world No. 1 noted that, “It would have been much better to have this technology available.”

“With this technology, we can now present to whatever class of player whether it be a child, adult, or professional the opportunity to go home with a new and unique experience. An analysis of their game can be readily accessed 24/7 at the touch of a button through their mobile phones,” concluded representatives of the academy. With its implementation of smart court technologies, JCFerrero-Equelite Sport Academy has asserted itself as a clear front-runner in Spain serving as a model to incite a revolutionizing wave of smart courts around the country.

Ferrero’s academy is featured in the book “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit for sale and download here via Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1937559491/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_-9Gpxb0EANP9A