del potro

Will The Chase For The US Open Men’s Title Be Predictable Once Again?

Starting with Roger Federer’s win at Wimbledon in 2004, only seven different men’s players have won major titles. That’s a span of 14 years and 56 major tournaments. The players are Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic.

It’s pretty safe to say than one of those seven will win the 2018 US Open men’s singles title.

The least likely among this group are Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray. Both are coming off of serious injuries and surgeries (hip surgery for Andy Murray and knee surgery for Wawrinka) so the likelihood of them winning are slim.

Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, who has also reached the Wimbledon and Australian Open finals within the last 14 months, would be the next longest shot along with del Porto. Del Potro is playing his 22nd Grand Slam and Cilic is playing his 15th since winning US Open titles respectively. Either could set an Open Era record for most attempts before winning a second Grand Slam. Del Potro reached the semifinals last year – including a win over Federer in the quarterfinals – and his win in Indian Wells in March – prove that he is a force to be reckoned with on hard courts this year. To boot, he has belief that he can win on the grand stage of New York City after having won the title in 2009 beating Federer in a five-set final for his lone major singles title to date.

Next come the three overwhelming favorites, according to 888sport, – top seed and defending champion Nadal, Wimbledon champion Djokovic and five-time champ Federer.

Nadal is rightly the favorite, buoyed with his title in Toronto heading into New York and yet another amazing clay court season, capped by his incredible 11th French Open title. To boot, the courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center are playing slow, which perfectly plays into Nadal ‘s game. Nadal has lost three matches in 2018 — the same number he lost in 2013 entering the US Open. Nadal is 40-3 this season and was 53-3 at the start of the 2013 US Open, where he won his 13th Grand Slam title. The Spaniard has won six Grand Slam titles as the top seed, including the US Open in 2010 and 2017.

Despite being seeded No. 6, Djokovic is the No. 2 favorite for the title, based on his return to form after two years of injuries and mental fatigue. His title at Wimbledon announced his return to the top of the tennis world and he comes into the US Open hot after beating Roger Federer in the final of Cincinnati to become the first player to complete the modern-sweep of all “Masters Series” titles – to go with his career Grand Slam as well. Djokovic went 6-6 in his first six tournaments of 2018. He is 27-4 in six events since.

Federer is 37 years old and is not only battling these six other major contenders, but a brigade of youngsters, some of which really believe they can defeat the awe-inspiring 20-time major singles champion.

Federer is the all-time leader with 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles and 310 weeks at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings. The Swiss could extend those records and set several new ones during the 2018 US Open. Federer seeks his sixth US Open title, which would break a three-way tie for most in the Open Era. Federer, 37, bids to become the oldest US Open champion in the Open Era (and oldest US Open finalist since 1974).

Among the outsiders from these seven contenders are three players who have never won a major title. Alexander Zverev reaches the most attention as the No. 4 seed, who has yet to excel on the Grand Slam tournament stage. However, with new super coach Ivan Lendl in his corner, keep a close eye on the German. John Isner, the top American player, is going through his best stretch of tennis, winning his first Masters Series title in Miami, and achieving his career results at the French Open (Round of 16) and Wimbledon (semifinals). Also to look out for Kevin Anderson, who took advantage of the open draw last year blown open by the late withdrawal of Andy Murray to reach the final, losing to Nadal, but also made his own hole in the draw at Wimbledon earlier this summer beating both Federer and Isner in extended fifth-set matches to reach the final, falling to Djokovic.

Djokovic And Murray – The Wimbledon Battle Royale, Round 4

by James A. Crabtree

Novak Djokovic

Normality has been restored, with the exploits of Janowicz, Darcis, Del Potro, Stakhovsky, Brown, Kubot and Verdasco disappearing into the vault named Wimbledon folklore.

After all the hiccups throughout the draw the number one and two ranked players meet in the final. Wimbledon 2013, like 33 of the last 34 Slams will be won by one of the Big Four.

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, currently the best hard-court players tour, know each other’s games well. Too well, having played18 times, with Djokovic leading 11–7. This tally includes three Grand Slam finals. The 2011 and 2013 Australian Opens, won by Djokovic and the 2012 US Open, won by Murray.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wqbbikk13tk

For Murray to win this one he will have to find influence from a multitude of sources. He is coming off a tough fight back victory against Verdasco, and a solid win against Janowicz. There is no reason to believe he has peaked. Also, he has beaten his rival on the big stage but also on the same court, one year ago during the Olympic semi-final. He knows he can’t rely on just rallying out his opponent. He needs surprise attacks, rather than just the passive get backs. Somehow he needs to persuade the Serb to over hit his backhand and question the serve that can get tight under pressure. He needs to keep Novak guessing, find a way into his brain while keeping his own mind unruffled. Conversely, the Serb will be looking to play the very same mind games, and very similar tactics to the Scot.

Wimbledon 2013 will serve to either even the score for Murray or push Djokovic past the tallies of Becker and Edberg with six total slams and onto seven to equal Wilander and McEnroe.

Novak has reached this level by shaking the old label as someone who would quit and crumble. These days he doesn’t merely tolerate tough battles, in truth they galvanize him, not that he has had many this Wimbledon. When he is pushed to the brink he screams, dives, slides, rips and fights to the bitter end better than no man. A tennis machine, possibly inspired by Nikola Tesla, is always dangerous even when he is playing badly; he is always in the game. Novak carries the air of invincibility. He doesn’t miss an easy shot. His serve is rarely broken. He doesn’t make unforced errors. He chases down balls that most players wouldn’t have even attempted. The only real worry is the fact he has only been pushed once all tournament, in that absurdly good semi-final against Del Potro. But is it foolhardy to question someone who has been good?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKbsq26lU7E

If Novak claims his second Wimbledon crown he will further cement his name as a legend, all round good guy, great player on all surfaces and poster boy for the new Serbia. If Murray wins his first Wimbledon crown, and the countries first in seventy-seven years, the Scot will enter the realms if immortality. Murray hysteria will abound. Aside from all his extra million dollar deals will be surely be a Knighthood, statue at the All England Club, a new Column in Trafalgar square opposite Nelson and likely divinization.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK4HDCIr_E8

Lleyton Hewitt – working overtime as usual

Lleyton Hewitt

 

by James A. Crabtree

Research has concluded that those who repeatedly work extended hours are more than twice as likely to experience major depression.

And influences such as marital status, socio-demographics, lifestyle, work strain and support at work make little difference.

So spare a thought for Lleyton Hewitt. Whether you love him or loathe him it is impossible to deny the guy gives more than a hard days work and never leaves work early. He is hard school from the old school and someone the new school could learn from. This year alone out of the 19 matches he has played 12 have gone the distance.

Apologies for the following business jargon filled paragraphs that many readers may find enlightening, motivating and team spirited or mind-numbing, long winded and down right boring.

Lleyton owns a can do bizmeth attitude, a holistic, cradle-to-grave approach that he has displayed since the get-go. His mission critical goal of raising back up to the top proves you can have your cake and eat it, given he is nearing his tenure yet still manages to push the boundaries.

Some say he is well beyond his prime but this fearless, spirited, Dad of three will argue otherwise. He continues to challenge and apply himself to every proposal. He is certainly no guy that abuses the ‘sickie’. Lleyton prefers a life where he is at work, playing tennis and playing hard.

Hewitt Pie Chart

Just so you know, the business jargon paragraphs are over and of the 42% who claimed they understood them only 8% actually did. Irrespective, we are back to tennis.

And Lleyton Hewitt is back, thanks to a fine week at Queens Club where he has outlasted Grigor Dimitrov, Sam Querrey and Juan Martin del Potro. At age 32 Lleyton is back and we could well see him around for many more years to come considering the dinosaurs, older than him and still playing, such as Michael Russell, Radek Stepanek, Nikolay Davydenko, Tommy Haas and Michael Llodra.

Don’t, however, shed a tear for the taxing way in which he plays. This is simply the way Lleyton plays, and as far as we can recall has always played.

Lleyton’s family usually come to work with him, watch him work than reap the reward of more than a standard income. The seventeen year veteran and two-time grand slam winner has almost $20 million in prize money, a whole heap in sponsorship deals and a property portfolio to his name. Simply, hard work pays off and people, adversaries and peers are always jealous of those who work hard. He doesn’t have an obvious weapon such as a serve or a devastating forehand. His weapon is grit and resolve.

So as far as working overtime it could be argued that its Lleyton’s opponents are the ones experiencing overtime. As for the Aussie battler, it’s just a normal days slog.

As predictable as a Vin Diesel movie and the Importance of that Gulbis Debate

By James A. Crabtree

 “Modern tennis is sorely lacking in character.”

Snot nosed rich kid Ernest Gulbis raised a debate recently at Roland Garros.

“I respect Roger, Rafa, Novak and Murray, but, for me, all four players are boring. Their interviews are boring. Honestly, they are boring.” Gulbis said after his second round loss to Gael Monfils that Federer was the biggest perpetrator.

“I often go on YouTube to watch interviews. I quickly stopped watching tennis interviews. It’s a joke,” said the Latvian.

“It was Federer who started this trend. He has a superb image as a perfect Swiss gentleman. I repeat that, I respect Federer, but I don’t like the way that young players try to imitate him.”

In truth, Ernie does have a point, but only sort of. This debate has a few underlying factors that need to be addressed.

Now, the question of boring is really only being brought up because the same players are being asked the same questions time and time again. And why, Ernie, are they being asked the same questions? Because Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray have been winning all the time! How many differing responses can they come up with from the same journalists asking the same questions at tournament after tournament?

The same four players winning consistently is all becoming as predictable as a Vin Diesel movie, and as we know he has been using the same script on different titles for roughly a decade. Now we can’t fault the stars of the game for their monopoly across different tournaments. Perhaps the bigger crime is that of the underachievers, and that is a huge number of players below the top four.

Over the years we have been waiting on the likes of Ferrer, Berdych, Tsonga, Gasquet, Tipsarevic, Raonic, Isner, Baghdatis, Janowicz and dare I say Gulbis to not only provide us with a surprise win, but a surprise championship. Someone to come in and really stir things up.

Surprisingly the monopoly of the slams is very even across the men and women’s tour. Since 2003 the men can boast ten different slam winners. The women meanwhile can only boast fourteen.

However since 2008 and across twenty-one slams the men can claim only five winners while the women can boast eleven.

If we compare this with the past usually a no name or unlikely could sneak a slam. Gustavo Kuerten won the French in 1997 ranked 66th. Mark Edmondson won the 1976 Australian ranked 212th, Goran Ivanišević won the 1999 Wimbledon title ranked 125th. Richard Krajicek sneaked a Wimbledon win between the Sampras dominance as the 17th seed. Thomas Johansson managed to take the 2002 Australian title as the 16th seed. These days a shock grand slam triumph would be Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 U.S. Open seeded sixth.

Gulbis may claim that the game lacks characters. What he has failed to notice is that the games most prominent representatives happen to come off as gentleman, whether they sincerely are or not. Not many sports can claim that. In truth when we think of the most major sports a plethora of reprobates line the tabloid pages for all the wrongs reasons.

Something, for now, tennis gladly doesn’t have.

 

Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.

Ernest Hemingway

 

 

Roger Federer Makes Shocking Wimbledon Exit

Roger Federer has failed to advance past the quarter-finals for a second consecutive Grand Slam tournament. The defending champion and top-seeded Federer was beaten by Tomas Berdych 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Wednesday.

The shocking upset improves Berdych to 3-8 against Federer all-time, including a recent victory in Miami in March.
The growing trend of Roger losing to players he had previously dominated is continuing and the fact that it is happening on the grass of Wimbledon must be particularly alarming.

Talk of Federer’s decline has been present since 2008 when he failed to win a Grand Slam until late in the year at the U.S. Open. Then in 2009 after losing the Aussie Open final to Nadal, people really started to wonder if his dominance was wavering. Just when it seemed like that might be the case, Federer rebounded by winning his first French Open and then regaining his Wimbledon crown a year ago. He then lost the U.S. Open final to Del Potro but again bounced back in Australia earlier this year. It seemed liked Federer still had a lot of gas left in the tank.

With back-to-back quarter-final exits from the last two Slams however, the situation is starting to look dire for the world number-two player. He has not won a tournament since his lone Slam down-under and continues to get beat by players like Berdych, Lleyton Hewitt and others that he had owned until the past year.

In his post-match press conference, Federer spoke respectfully towards his opponent but revealed there were some injury issues that affected his play today.

“I think he was a bit more consistent than in the past. I lost to him in Miami this year, where it was a really tight match as well. But from my end, obviously, you know, I’m unhappy with the way I’m playing. I couldn’t play the way I wanted to play. You know, I am struggling with a little bit of a back and a leg issue. That just doesn’t quite allow me to play the way I would like to play. So it’s frustrating, to say the least. Looking forward to some rest anyway.”

Whether the injury aspect was real or imagined we’ll never know for sure. It could be Federer’s way of avoiding questions of his declining stranglehold on the men’s game.

Either way, Wimbledon will have a different champion this year and for the first time since 2002 the finals will not include Roger Federer.

SHARAPOVA: WILL SHE BE A TOP CONTENDER AGAIN? THE FRIDAY FIVE

By Maud Watson

Extended Leave – Continuing to cite the bone bruise that knocked her out of Miami, Maria Sharapova has stated that she’ll also have to forgo the Family Circle Cup in Charleston with her earliest plans to return coming possibly at Rome or Madrid. I personally feel that despite her young age, Sharapova is at a crossroads. Her game can certainly still be devastating to most opponents, provided she’s on. But the fact is that she’s become more and more prone to injuries since 2008, and with the return of players like Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, it’s going to be that much more difficult to break back into the top 10. Couple that with the fact that she’s not a great mover, has no game plan B, lacks confidence and has lost virtually all of her once intimidating aura in the locker room, it really is difficult to imagine her being a top contender once again. Only time (and results) will tell, but she may have some critical decisions to make very soon.

Good Timing or Good Omens? – No doubt that Andy Roddick has had an excellent two tournaments, reaching the finals of Indian Wells and going one step further in Miami. But while some are predicting this is the resurgence of Roddick’s career, with his own coach suggesting he may be a lot like Andre Agassi and win multiple majors post age 27, I’m not sold on it. Don’t get me wrong. The guy has played some amazing tennis, and he may have another major in him (last year’s Wimbledon proved that). That said, I wonder if he isn’t just taking advantage of a temporary lull in the men’s game. It’s not to take away from what Roddick has done in the month of March. But I still contend that guys like Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Juan Del Potro, Rafael Nadal, etc. have more talent, though it remains to be seen if they’ll be able to put it back together mentally or physically for the long term. If they do, hard to see Roddick matching them toe-to-toe week in and week out. So with all due respect to Larry Stefanki and others, I’m personally not ready to jump on the Roddick bandwagon once again.

What Was He Thinking? – That’s the question that had to be going through the minds of players and the fans when Wayne Odesnik opted to play in Houston. Forget that the ITF has said that technically Odesnik can play until an official ruling is made regarding his HGH case. The guy pleaded guilty, he’s going to get banned, and even if it isn’t a full two-year ban (which will be shocking if it’s not), he’s ultimately going to have to forfeit any prize money and ranking points he earns this week anyway. Given the harsh criticism he received when news broke of his HGH scandal, I can’t see where his latest move is going to endear him to his peers and fans. In short, even if he doesn’t get the maximum ban for possession of HGH, he should get one for utter stupidity.

That Niggling Knee – Gilles Simon certainly hasn’t had much to smile about over the course of the last 6-12 months. Much like Sharapova, the young Frenchman may also see his own career at a crossroads, which is a real travesty given the amazing promise he showed in the second half of 2008. Simon’s knee continues to be a niggling problem, and he’s announced that he has little to no chance of competing at his home major, having pulled out of Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid. I’ve got my fingers crossed for Simon, whom I think is a brilliant and fun player to watch when he’s on. Given his potential talent, it would be a shame to see his career snuffed out so early.

Prognosis: Excellent – In a story that not only made tennis headlines but sport headlines across the globe, it was announced Martina Navratilova has breast cancer.  The good news for the former tennis champion, who won an astonishing 59 Grand Slam titles, is that the cancer is considered non-invasive and that her prognosis is excellent.  Given the many obstacles that Navratilova has had to navigate over the course of her life, there’s no doubt that she possesses the tenacity to fight the disease and inspire others also suffering from it to do the same.  I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing Navratilova the best in waging her battle against breast cancer.

AROUND THE CORNER

Open 13 – Marseille, France

With six players in the top-fifty of the ATP rankings system, France is certainly well represented in the upper echelon of the men’s game. The tournament in Marseille enjoys a significant French presence that starts with number two seed, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The defending champion from a year ago has had a solid start to 2010, reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open where he lost in straight sets to Roger Federer. France enjoyed a sweep in this tournament a year ago with Arnaud Clement and Michael Llordra taking the doubles title as well.

Top seed Robin Soderling will be trying to prevent a Frenchman from hoisting the trophy and is currently experiencing a deep-run in Rotterdam where he knocked-off Nikolay Davydenko in the semi-finals. Soderling has a first-round bye in Marseilles, and could encounter Marcos Baghdatis in the quarter-finals.

Other locals to keep an eye on include Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon.

Expect a Frenchman to hoist the trophy in a week’s time.

Regions Morgan Keegan Championships – Memphis, Tennessee

Andy Roddick will make the move from San Jose to Memphis for back-to-back hard court tournaments. With so many top players skipping these smaller events, it is nice to see regular appearances from Andy. The only World Tour 500-level tournament this coming week, there is some serious prize money to be had and I’m surprised we are not seeing more top-ranked players in attendance.

Roddick faces fellow-American James Blake in a tough first round match. Blake has dropped to 52nd in the world and is realizing how tough it is to enter tournaments without a seeding. He faced Del Potro in the second round of the Aussie Open, and Baghdatis in the first round last week in Rotterdam. Things do not get any easier for him here in Memphis.

Roddick leads their career head-to-head meetings 6-3, however Blake has won their last three matches in a row. They have only met once in the last three years, with Blake winning by default at the Queen’s tournament in 2009 when Roddick pulled-out with injury at 4-4 in the first set. With the way he has played thus far this year, Roddick should prevail in straight sets in this one.

Fernando Verdasco is the number two seed and has a pretty good draw in the bottom half. He;ll have to keep an eye on big-servers John Isner and Ivo Karlovic as well as veteran Tommy Haas. Haas has not looked sharp thus far in 2010, and faces a stiff challenge from veteran Xavier Malisse in the first round. The German might finally be showing his age – although he has won this very tournament three times before, in 1999, 2006 and 2007.

Copa Telmex – Buenos Aires, Argentina

David Ferrer takes the pole position in Buenos Aires but has lacked the consistency so far this year to lead him to the title. Ferrer has lost to lower ranked players such as Stephane Robert, Marcos Baghdatis and Arnaud Clement in his three tournament appearances up to now.

The tournament has quite the interesting mix of players including clay court specialists such as Juan Monaco, Nicolas Almagro, Albert Montanes and even wildcard entry Gaston Gaudio. Having dropped off the radar in recent years, Gaudio’s name still pops up from time to time on the challenger circuit and he is obviously benefiting from the hospitality of his local Argentinian Tennis Federation. He’ll always have his lone Grand Slam title to look back on, from Roland Garros in 2004.

Gaudio isn’t the only former French Open winner present, as Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya are also in the draw. Richard Gasquet is also lurking, which is a surprise since you would think he would be playing in his home country’s tournament in Marseille. Perhaps he is not yet ready to face the French press over his doping suspension from a year ago.

Also showing in the draw as of right now is Argentinian David Nalbandian who has been off the tour since May 2009 due to a serious hip injury. Nalbandian was supposed to return to play a month ago at the Australian Open but had to withdraw after sustaining an abdominal injury in practice. Nalbandian will ease back into competition with a favorable first round opponent in Italian Potito Starace.

I <3 Wimbledon

fan-wimbledon09a1

A fan at the Kunitsyn/Roddick second-round match. Roddick took it 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. He next faces 26th seed Jurgen Melzer, who beat Beni Beckerin three sets (two tiebreaks).

Now that JM Del Potro has been ousted by perennial grass threat Lleyton Hewitt (yay! more fun pics of Bec Cartwright!), this is looking like the Wimbledon quarterfinal clash o’ the year.