Nova Djokovic

Can Anyone Stop Andy Murray From Reaching the Wimbledon Final?

(June 28, 2013) Andy Murray came out firing in his third-round match and Tommy Robredo didn’t know what hit him. Robredo played very strong tennis for much of the match and even hit some incredible shots. But at the end of the day, he stood no chance against Murray and lost 6-2, 6-4, 7-5.

And now, Murray is primed for a clear path to the finals against Novak Djokovic, as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have all been taken out already. But if this tournament has taught us anything, it’s that we should never take anything for granted about the top seed winning the match.

That being said, Murray has looked nearly unbeatable this tournament. His defense and depth of shot have been incredible. His movement has been crisp and his shot selection has been almost perfect. When Murray plays at this level it takes an incredible performance to stop him.

So who could Murray meet along the way that could derail his path to the final? For starters, he could meet a resurgent Viktor Troicki in the next round. Troicki’s level of play fell for much of last year, but he is playing well again and looks very comfortable on the grass. He is 0-5 in his career against Murray, but did win the first two sets in a match at Roland Garros two years ago. Of course, he has to get by Mikhail Youzhny first.

No quarterfinal opponent should pose any problems for Murray on grass, unless Ernests Gulbis decides to play out of his mind tennis for the rest of this tournament. Even then, though, Murray should be able to handle almost whatever Gulbis throws at him.

The only place that we can really see trouble for Murray is in the semifinals. Jerzy Janowicz has backed up his final at the Paris Masters last year with a great season and he is only getting better. The big Pole has been playing great tennis this tournament, bombing down huge serves and supplementing that with a lethal ground game.

Janowicz clearly has the talent and the style to trouble Murray’s game. His serve is big, accurate, and well-placed enough to nullify Murray’s amazing return game. Janowicz can also hit with—and hit through—Murray from the baseline, something that few players in the world today can do. Murray is still the better player, there is no doubt about that. But if someone is going to stop the Scot from reaching the final, Janowicz is your best bet.

Mondays With Bob Greene: The First Week of Wimbledon

STARS

(Wimbledon first week)

Zheng Jie beat top-seeded Ana Ivanovic 6-1 6-4

Marat Safin beat third-seeded Novak Djokovic 6-4 7-6 (3) 6-2

Alla Kudryavtseva beat third-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-2 6-4

Mario Ancic beat fifth-seeded David Ferrer 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 7-6 (3)

Janko Tipsarevic beat sixth-seeded Andy Roddick 6-7 (5) 7-5 6-4 7-6 (4)

Frank Dancevic beat seventh-seeded David Nalbandian 6-4 6-2 6-4

Ranier Schuettler beat ninth-seeded James Blake 6-3 6-7 (8) 4-6 6-4 6-4

Shahar Peer beat ninth-seeded Dinara Safina 7-5 6-7 (4) 8-6

SAYINGS

“Sport isn’t the priority at the moment. … I think food would be.” – Cara Black, discussing her native country, Zimbabwe.

“There’s only one winner in the tournament, and everyone else is disappointed. I’m one of them.” – Maria Sharapova, after her 6-2 6-4 second-round loss to Alla Kudryavtseva.

“I don’t like her outfit. It was one of the motivations to beat her.” – Alla Kudryavtseva, on Sharapova’s tuxedo-style ensemble.

“I just didn’t make anything happen out there. Zero, zero, zero.” – Andy Roddick, following his 6-7 (5) 7-5 6-4 7-6 (4) loss to Janko Tipsarevic.

“This means the world to me. I’m just glad that I won and Serbia will have more representatives in the men’s singles draw.” – Janko Tipsarevic, following his upset win over Roddick.

“Jocks win Wimbledon, and those are clearly two of the best athletes in the game. They can make the adjustments. They can play physical tennis. They can think on the move.” – Television analyst Mary Carillo, predicting Venus and Serena Williams will face each other in the Wimbledon final.

“I felt like I was about 25, maybe 30 percent. In a first-, second-round match, it’s just not good enough. It’s not going to get better the more I play on it.” – Lindsay Davenport, who withdrew from Wimbledon hours before her second-round match because of a knee injury.

“He’s trying to become number one in the world and he had a lot of pressure on him and I really didn’t have any pressure at all.” – Marat Safin, after beating third-seeded Novak Djokovic.

“It was a bad day for me.” – Novak Djokovic.

“Yeah, 127 is a good way to end it.” – Venus Williams, after hitting a 127-mph ace on match point in her third-round match.

“At the end of ther match it was pretty tough because we both, I think, couldn’t see the ball anymore.” – Marat Safin, who completed his victory over Andreas Seppi in virtual darkness.

“Maybe when you are my age you are happier as a tennis player than when you’re in the 20s. I’m happy right now even if I’m the oldest in the draw.” – Tamarine Tanasugarn, who at 31 is the oldest player in the Wimbledon women’s draw to reach the second week.

“I look forward to the rest of my 2008 season, which hopefully will include the Olympic Games in Beijing. It would be the most incredible way to finish my career if I could win a medal for Sweden.” – Jonas Bjorkman, who will retire at the end of this year.

“Tomorrow is the only day that I can think of. I never thought I could play this long. This is my 16th Wimbledon, and it’s been great. … But I just don’t want to just be here. I still need to play good.” – Ai Sugiyama, who is playing in a record 57th consecutive Grand Slam tournament.

“I put so much pressure on myself for the (Olympic) goal that I was traveling for almost three months and I couldn’t find my game. Somehow in the last moment I qualified. I catch the last train.” – Dinara Safina, who was picked for the Russian Olympic tennis team after reaching the French Open final.

“Among the targets of my comments was Anna Kournikova, not to mention a general disregard and disrespect toward women. They all deserve and have my deepest apologies. While I see how it could be implied by my remarks, I assure you that I have the utmost respect for women.” – Justin Gimelstob, apologizing for remarks he made on a radio chat show broadcast in the Washington, DC, area.

“The ATP cannot condone any form of intolerance and Justin Gimelstob’s comments last week were unacceptable. However, Justin has done the right thing in taking full responsibility for his comments by apologizing publicly to Anna (Kournikova) for what he has rightly described as his disappointing and disrespectful comments.” – The ATP, in a statement.

“I really don’t want to get into any of the off-court stuff. I’m just going to take the high road and not get into this discussion.” – Anna Kournikova.

“We’re disappointed at Justin’s remarks, which are inappropriate and contrary to what our sport should stand for.” – The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, in a statement.

SIZZLING SERVE

Venus Williams closed out her third-round victory over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez with a record-breaking serve. The American ended a love game with a 127-mph delivery, the fastest recorded by a woman at Wimbledon. It was her 11th ace of the match, which she won 6-1 7-5. Williams also holds the WTA Tour record for fastest serve at 129 mph.

SHUT YOUR MOUTH

When Justin Gimbelstob was interviewed for a radio chat show in the Washington, DC, area, his comments sent shock waves throughout tennis. The former player and newly-elected ATP board member, later apologized to Anna Kounikova, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour chief Larry Scott, World Team Tennis co-founder Billie Jean King, the ATP and just about everyone else. In the interview, Gimbelstob called Kournikova a “bitch” and said he wanted to make her cry, called French players Tatiana Golovin and Alize Corent “sexpots,” and said Czech player Nicole Vaidisova was a “well-developed young lady.” Gimbelstob said there was “no excuse and I am extremely disappointed in myself. I take full responsibility for all the words that came out of my mouth, and while I can’t take them back, I hope my heartfelt remorse can begin to heal the woulds felt by many.”

SEEING THE END?

Former Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport has hinted strongly that this is her last year on the tour. The 32-year-old recently returned to the tour after giving birth to her child. She withdrew from her second-round match because of a knee injury, then told BBC Sport: “I would be surprised if I was back here playing. I am looking forward to the Olympics and playing the U.S. Open. After that there are not a lot of plans.” Davenport won the U.S. Open in 1998, Wimbledon in 1999, the Australian Open in 2000, and a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

SINO SHOCKER

Because she missed most of 2007 with an ankle injury, China’s Zheng Jie saw her ranking slip from number 27 in the world to 133. So she wrote to the All England Club asking for a wild card since she had qualified for the French Open and reached the third round, had won the women’s doubles at Wimbledon in 2006 and that China was staging the Olympics this year. She got the wild card, and turned it into history when she upset the world’s top-ranked player, Ana Ivanovic, to advance to the fourth round. Four years ago at the French Open, Zheng became the first Chinese woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament. Two years ago, China’s Li Na gained a quarterfinal berth at Wimbledon.

SAFINA TO BEIJING

French Open finalist Dinara Safina will play singles at the Beijing Olympics in August. The Russian Tennis Federation added Safina when Anna Chakvetadze decided to skip the Games. Also heading to Beijing are Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Dementieva. En route to the final at Roland Garros, Safina beat Sharapova, Dementieva and Kuznetsova. Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpishchev said the men’s team will be picked according to the rankings, meaning Nikolay Davydenko, Mikhail Youzhny, Dmitry Tursunov and Igor Andreev will play singles in Beijing.

STILL GOING

By playing at Wimbledon this year, Ai Sugiyama of Japan set a record for most consecutive Grand Slam main draw appearances by a man or woman. This is her 57th straight Grand Slam tournament, which she began with a victory over Belgian Yanina Wickmayer. Sugiyama, who turns 33 years old on July 5, said she has never had a serious injury, travels with a trainer and has a massage every day to prolong her career. Currently ranked number 38 in the world, Sugiyama started her unbroken stretch of majors at Wimbledon in 1994 before she had graduated from high school. South Africa’s Wayne Ferreira previously held the record at 56 straight.

SET FOR BEIJING

Two sisters and two brothers will be key players on the United States Olympic tennis team in Beijing. Serena and Venus Williams will lead the women’s squad, while Bob and Mike Bryan will be favored to win the men’s doubles. Others named to the nine-player squad include Lindsay Davenport, Liezel Huber, James Blake, Sam Querrey and Robby Ginepri. The Williams sisters will play both singles and doubles, while Davenport will play singles and team with Huber in doubles. Blake, Querrey and Ginepri will play singles and Blake and Querrey will join the Bryans in doubles. Zina Garrison will coach the women’s team, while the men’s coach is Rodney Harmon.

SHAKEN

Anna Chakvetadze’s recent bad form is the result of an armed robbery at her Moscow house late last year. While she escaped unharmed, Chakvetadze admits she is still suffering mental stress from the ordeal. Her father, Jamal, a wealthy Russian businessman, was badly beaten during the robbery.

SCANDAL TALK?

Nikolay Davydenko said he may have inadvertently become embroiled in a betting scandal by talking too loudly to his wife during a tournament in Poland last year. An online bookmaker, Betfair, voided all bets on a match between Davydenko and Argentina’s Martin Vassallo Arguello in Sopot, Poland, last August after the Russian retired in the third set, citing a foot injury. Davydenko said his wife was in the stands when he told her something like, “I don’t want to play or I can retire.” He feels someone may have overheard him and misunderstood what he meant. Denying any involvement in illegal betting, the 27-year-old Davydenko says he will be vindicated when the ongoing investigation is complete.

SWEDE SUSPENDED

The Swedish junior team indefinitely suspended a 15-year-old player after he and two others reportedly vandalized several clay courts in Bastad, site of the Swedish Open. According to a newspaper, the vandalism occurred during Midsummer celebrations in the Swedish seaside town. The other two players are former members of the junior team. None of them was named.

SHIFTING SITE

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event that has been played at Amelia Island Plantation, Florida, since 1980 may have a new home. Residents of Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, have received a notice that the Sawgrass Board of Governors has approved in principle a proposal from Octagon Enterprises to have Sawgrass play host to the tournament. The tournament has been known as the Bausch & Lomb Championships.

STOPPED BY COPS

Two rowdy fans were ejected from Wimbledon for unruly behavior during a match between Lleyton Hewitt and Albert Montanes. While police could not confirm if the two unidentified fans were detained, they did say six people were arrested at Wimbledon for various offenses, including the possession of pepper spray.

STOPPED FROM VOTING

Serena Williams says their Jehovah’s Witness religion will keep her and sister Venus from voting for Barack Obama or anyone else in this fall’s United States presidential election. “So I’m not going to necessarily go out and vote for him. I would if it wasn’t for my religion,” Serena said.

STERN LETTER

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent a letter to Tim Phillips, chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, condemning the treatment of pigeons at Wimbledon. All England Club spokesman Johnny Perkins confirmed media reports that contract pest controllers had used marksmen to shoot at pigeons around the club.

SECRET EXPOSED

Those who live in the community of Wimbledon receive free parking permits that enable them and their guests access to streets and driveways during the tennis tournament’s fortnight at the All England Club. But it seems as if some of those permits are showing up on eBay for USD 120 dollars. And it seems as if some permit holders have been making copies of the originals since one resident offered for sale no fewer than 17 permits.

SHARED SORROW

The first round at Wimbledon wasn’t kind to seeded doubles teams. Among the men’s teams that lost were fourth-seeded Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles, fifth-seeded Simon Aspelin and Julian Knowle, and sixth-seeded Martin Damm and Pavel Vizner. Gone from the women’s doubles at the end of the first round were fourth-seeded Chan Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung, along with eighth-seeded Peng Shuai and Sun Tiantian.

SITES TO SURF

Wimbledon: www.Wimbledon.com

Newport: www.tennisfame.com

Gstaad: www.swissopengstaad.com

Palermo: www.countrytimeclub.it

Budapest: www.gazdefrancegrandprix.com

Stuttgart: www.mercedescup.de

Bastad: www.tennisfame.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

The Championships, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

$125,000 Cordoba Challenger, Pozoblanco, Spain, hard

$100,000 Turin Challenger, Turin, Italy, clay

WTA TOUR

The Championships, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

$100,000 ITF Cuneo, Cuneo, Italy, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$860,000 Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart, Germany, clay

$580,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay

$566,000 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, grass

$480,000 Catella Swedish Open, Bastad, Sweden, clay

$125,000 Bogota Challenger, Bogota, Colombia, clay

$100,000 Scheveningen Challenger, Scheveningen, Netherlands, clay

WTA TOUR

$175,000 Gaz de France Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay

$145,000 Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, Palermo, Italy, clay

SENIORS

Hall of Fame Champions Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, grass