Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Cincinnati Round One

With the withdrawal of seeded players Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic, Cincinnati organisers strangely allowed byes for the lucky losers in qualifying who replaced them.

So the top five seeds and Janko Tipsarevic (ranked 69), Christian Harrison (240) and Thomas Fabbiano (85) receive free passes to the second round. Losing your qualifying in Cincinnati brings ridiculous rewards.

The first round is complete and some results are surprising.

Injury has troubled the recent progress of Nick Kyrgios but he had little bother in his opener against ninth seed David Goffin.  Dominant on serve, losing only 3 points on his first delivery in the first set and just 1 in the second Goffin was a passenger in the match.

Nick faced a mere four break points all match, all saved.  The 6-2 6-3 result keeps the hopes of a fine career alight.

Montreal quarter finalist Kevin Anderson lost to qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov, and other unseeded players were successful:

Jared Donaldson knocked out 12th seed Roberto Bautista Agut

Yuichi Sugita defeated Jack Sock (13) in straight sets

Juan Martin del Potro won the deciding set 6-0 against Tomas Berdych (10)

Of course del Potro is a much better player than his ranking of 30 suggests.

Again the top twenty ranked women have all turned up for the Premier 5 Cincinnati event - except the pregnant Serena.

The top eight seeds have had first round byes but we have seen exits from some of the others already.

Daria Gavrilova defeated 13th seed Kristina Mladenovic in two contrasting sets.

The opener was totally one way traffic, Dasha winning almost everything on her first serve and trashing the French player's efforts from the line.

To win 6-0 was amazing and not surprising was the comeback from Mladenovic in set two.

The returning of Gavrilova's serve became more efficient and both players broke each other twice meaning a tie break would decide the set.  Before the breaker Dasha had the chance to serve for the match at 5-4 but Mladenovic was back in the match at that stage and broke for her second time.

An even tie break was ended with a poor French forehand and the Aussie was second round bound.

Other seeds to fumble their opening rounds were:

Roland Garros champ Jelena Ostapenko, losing to qualifier Aleksandra Krunic, ranked 85.

Agnieszka Radwanska, bounced out by big server Julia Georges, ranked 37 but playing above her ranking in recent tournaments.

Simona Halep (2) and Johanna Konta (7) have played their first matches (second round) and both won comfortably in straight sets.

Halep will play the winner of Sevastova (15) and Vinci, while Konta faces the victor of Cibulkova (11) and Cornet.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Svitolina and Zverev rule Canada

Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki entered the Rogers Cup tournaments in Canada with similar records in 2017 finals - Roger had won 5 from 5 and Caroline had lost 5 from 5.

Montreal looked like a half dozen was in the bag for the Swiss legend, as he had only recently given his opponent, Sascha Zverev a carpeting in the June Halle final in less than an hour.

However this was another day for Zverev as he took it to Federer in no uncertain manner.  The fourth seed served consistently well, both on first and second delivery.  Federer, the second seed, again contributed a very high first serve percentage, but was worried by the return on his second serve.

Sascha managed to create two break points off the Swiss serve, but protected his own serve from any.  An unusually frustrated Federer was unable to hold off an aggressive German and Zverev broke for 3-1, an advantage he never relinquished until the set ended 6-3 in his favour.

Set two looked better for Federer as he held three break points on Zverev's first service game.  These were all saved and that was it for the 19 Grand Slam title winning ace.  The Swiss serve was broken for the final time in the seventh game and Roger would surrender the Rogers Cup to Zverev 6-3 6-4.

5 titles for the young German in 2017, and just 20 he appears clearly the head of the next era of players to perhaps top the rankings and maybe even dominate tennis for awhile. Five titles equals Federer (yes 2 Grand Slam titles less but the US Open is awaiting maybe) and more to come I suspect.

Roger had his 2017 finals record spoiled but Caroline kept her record intact by losing her sixth final for the year, her second to Elina Svitolina.

But lets go back to the quarter final where Garbine Muguruza led Svitolina by a set.  The two had met twice earlier in 2017 for a 1-1 result and this time the Wimbledon champ appeared likely to prevail.winning the opening set 6-4, 37 points to 28.  Instead of the momentum continuing rain stopped play for the day.

Like the Rain in Spain with Eliza, this was the Rain in Toronto with Elina, and it was to the Ukrainian's relief.

The next day it was a new look Svitolina and she was on fire, taking the remaining two sets and the quarter final from Muguruza, then later in the day taking the sword to defending champ and second seed Simona Halep, donating just 2 games to the Romanian.

The final was close in set one but Svitolina slightly out served Wozniacki to finally lead 6-4.  Then it was Halep-like carnage, perhaps worse, as the fifth seed allowed nothing for poor Caroline, winning twice as many points and the rest of the games.

A comprehensive 6-4 6-0 victory and, like Sascha, Elina's fifth victory for 2017.

The first woman to win three Premier 5 tournaments in the one calendar year, Svitolina has the chance to extend that, and she also has real claims to grabbing the US Open crown next month.

Both Svitolina and Wozniacki move ahead of Muguruza to 4 and 5 in the rankings respectively.

However the star mover is Aussie Ash Barty who crashed into the top fifty up 10 places to a career high of 48.  Her round of sixteen performance from qualifying in Toronto was impressive, the loss to Muguruza leaving some decent skin off the Wimbledon champ.

Barty has again qualified for the Cincinnati Premier 5 this week, but surely the qualifying pain will be a thing of the past before long for the talented Australian.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Wozniacki d Pliskova in classic

The tournaments being played in Canada, both ATP and WTA, are titled the Rogers Cup.

Which is fair enough for what is happening in Montreal because Roger Federer should win this year.  The Veteran Swiss ace, seeded two, has reached the semi finals following a standard Straight sets win over Roberto Bautista Agut (12) 6-4 6-4.

Federer will play unseeded Robin Haase who accounted for fellow unseeded Diego Schwartzman despite dropping the opening set.

Joining Federer and Haase in the final four are  brilliant young German Alexander Zverev (4) and the surprise star of the tournament - 18 year old Israeli born Canadian Denis Shapovalov.  High profile wins by Shapovalov over del Potro and Nadal were followed by another success in the quarter final, defeating Adrian Mannarino.

Zverev knocked over unseeded South African Kevin Anderson to reach the semi final.

Federer is unlikely to take the Rogers Cup in Toronto as it is a open only to women, a relief to Caroline Wozniacki 6) who has completed a terrific victory over world number one Karolina Pliskova 7-5 6-7 (3) 6-4.

In one of the best women's matches of 2017 Wozniacki weathered a 1-5 start and used rain delays to her advantage, winning the final six games to be a set up.

The Danish former world number one was seemingly in control in set two but Pliskova saved several break points and played an excellent tie breaker to level the match.

In the decider Karolina broke serve in the fifth game, the first time for either player since set one.  The consolidation at 4-2 set the top seed nicely for a semi final berth but as in the opener Caro said no, and rattled off the next four games to take out the match.

Sloane Stephens is having her best tournament for a long time and her victory over Lucie Safarova in three sets secured a semi final spot against Wozniacki.

The other semi final is yet to be decided due to rain stopping play in the third quarter final and preventing the fourth quarter final from even commencing.

Garbine Muguruza (4) has taken the first set from Elina Svitolina (5) 6-4, while Simona Halep (2) and Caroline Garcia wait to begin.

I predict final number six for Caroline Wozniacki in 2017 - can she win her first one ?

And Roger will win the Rogers Cup in Montreal !

Friday, 11 August 2017

Nadal shocked and out

Quarter finals of the Toronto Premier 5 WTA and Montreal Masters 1000 tournaments have been finalised, and a number of fancied seeds were dumped before the final eight.

The biggest of them all was Rafa Nadal (1).

The world number two was gunning for the top spot, and losing in the third round to Denis Shapovalov in three sets was a setback to say the least.

The Israeli, ranked 143, had won just a single ATP match in 2017 before Montreal and now he had knocked out del Potro and Nadal in successive matches.

Amazing stuff from the 18 year old wild card.

David Goffin (9! and Milos Raonic (6!, drawn to meet in the round of sixteen, were both defeated in the second round, by unseeded players Adrian Mannarino and Hyeon Chung.

Sam Querrey upset French Canadians while upsetting Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (8) in round two, and. Robin Haase sent Grigor Dimitrov (7) back to Bulgaria after winning their third round encounter.

Over in Toronto, the top two seeds had easy roads into the quarter finals. Karolina Pliskova (1) was in total control until Naomi Osaka grabbed a second set tie breaker to level their third set match. Sadly an injury to Osaka stopped the match early in the decider and the world number one skipped into a quarter final with Caroline Wozniacki who whipped Aga Radwanska (10) 6-3 6-1.

Simona Halep (2), and defending champion, did worse to Barbora Strycova, destroying the Czech player 6-0 6-1 and sending a stark warning to her quarter final opponent Caroline Garcia.

Seeds to fall before they were scheduled included a troubled Angie Kerber (3), downed by unseeded American Sloane Stephens in the third round.

Stephens had already made an impact by outlasting Petra Kvitova in the previous round.  Her victory over Kerber was more decisive 6-2 6-2.

Dominika Cibulkova (11) and Johanna Konta (7), due to battle out a mouth watering third round match, will just have to find a mouth watering meal at one of Toronto's best restaurants after each falling in the second round - Safarova and Makarova the respective assailants.

Elena Vesnina (16) lost to qualifier Ash Barty and unseeded teenager Catherine Bellis gave veteran Sveta Kuznetsova her marching orders after their second round match, Sveta's first of the tournament.

So here are the quarter final line ups:


Denis Shapovalov v Adrian Mannarino

Alexander Zverev (4) v Kevin Anderson

Robin Haase v Diego Schwartzman

Roberto Bautista Agut (12) v Roger Federer (2)


Karolina Pliskova (1) v Caroline Wozniacki (6)

Sloane Stephens v Lucie Safarova

Elina Svitolina (5) v Garbine Muguruza (4)

Caroline Garcia v Simona Halep (2)

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Thiem out of Montreal

On Day Two in Canada some of the top seeds came out to play.

In Montreal one failed to make it past his first match - a second round encounter with Argentine Diego Schwartzman.

Yes, third seed Dominic Thiem, a dangerous young gun, was thwarted after almost three hours, Diego winning 6-4 6-7 (7) 7-5.

Set one was all about the points won on second serves - Schwartzman won five from his eight while Thiem also won five, but from sixteen.  It illustrated the inability of the Austrian to hit enough first serves into play.

Set two was close, requiring a tie break, although Diego had more opportunities to break before, but Dominic saved four of six and converted both of his break points.

Thiem managed to scrape through and level the match, 9-7 in the breaker.

In another thrilling set, the decider was basically a matter of break points once again.  Thiem had 10 chances but could only convert one.  Of 6 opportunities Schwartzmaan converted twice, enough to forge an upset win.

No other upsets although David Goffin (9! and Pablo Carreno Busta (11) both surrendered first sets before defeating Sugita and Khachanov respectively in first round matches. 

No seeds fell in Toronto but locals were disappointed to see Canadian wildcard Genie Bouchard disappear from proceedings, losing her opening round match to Croatian qualifier Donna Vekic in straight sets.

In what was expected to be a tough battle, Aga Radwanska (10) gave Coco Vandeweghe a hiding 6-3 6-2.  

Astonishingly, Aga served more aces than the American and her serve was not broken all match.

Of the top ten players having their initial runs after a first round bye, Elina Svitolina (5) and Caroline Wozniacki (6) were successful, Wozniacki especially brutal in her disposal of qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 6-0.

Day Three will feature second seed Roger Federer against Canadian wildcard Peter Polansky, ranked 116.  Clearly not a showcase match but one for locals to cheer both ends.

Potential contests to watch out for are Nishikori (5) v Monfils, Dmitrov (7) v Mischa Zverev and Sascha Zverev (4) v Gasquet.

Women's battles highlighted are Karolina Pliskova (1) in her first match as world number one v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Dominika Cibulkova (11) v Lucie Safarova and Venus Williams (9) v rising star Katerina Siniakova, already winner of two titles this year.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day One in Canada

Day One in Toronto and Montreal didn't produce too many surprises although Nick Kyrgios did finish a match, in fact in the way expected of the Australian when fully fit.
He thrashed Viktor Troicki 6-1 6-2 
The 16th seed showed off his serve to the Montreal crowd, winning 88% of points on his first serve and 67% on his second delivery.
He faced no break points, yet created 10 on the Serb's fragile serve.  Only four were converted but they were all that were necessary.
One hopes that the Kyrgios body can withstand the rigours of more than one round of this Masters event.

Unseeded Juan Martin del Potro provided an upset of sorts, removing fourteenth seed John Isner 7-5 7-5.  The second set was more dominant for the Argentine as he held six break points on the American's big serve while not having to save one of his own.
One of the six was turned into a service break and the match was South American.

The other seed to fall on Day One was Lucas Pouille (13), victim to American Jared Donaldson in two gripping tie breaks.

Toronto opened with some great matches, including what seemed after set one a Venus Williams cake walk.
Irena-Camelia Begu was completely eclipsed by a consistent serve and pin point ground strokes from the recent Wimbledon finalist, Venus showing no signs of lack of matches, this being her first since that final.
Begu, down a break immediately in set two, then pounced on a period of surprising Williams error making.
Four successive games had the Romanian on the cusp of levelling the match, which she did, with a slight struggle, holding serve for 6-3.

An early break of serve from Venus in the decider was quickly replied with one from Irena-Camelia and then chances went begging until 3-4 where Venus pounced.
The veteran had the edge when it mattered and won a high calibre encounter 6-1 3-6 6-3.

Qualifier Varvara Lepchenko provided the biggest upset on Day One after giving Roland Garros champ Jelena Ostapenko (12) a 1-6 start.  Two tie break wins later Ostapenko was gone.
Kristina Mladenovic (13) was the other seed to fall, Barbora Strycova in excellent form and too good for the French player 6-2 6-3.
Mladenovic has failed to progress beyond the first round in every attempt at this tournament, which alternates between Toronto and Montreal.

A fascinating match was that between Petra Kvitova (14) and Carla Suarez Navarro.
Kvitova swept through set one 6-1, winning 31 points to 18.  Then the Spaniard turned up to play.
With a break of serve and a 4-1 lead it appeared Carla had placed herself in a position to make a third set possible, but Petra denied that by breaking back and winning a tie break.
The quality of set two makes one wish Carla had arrived at the court a little earlier and set one could have been similar.

Day Two has some interesting matches but for me the best on paper has to be Aga Radwanska (10) v Coco Vandeweghe.  Coco was a finalist last week in Stanford and quarter finalist at Wimbledon before that so Aga will need to be at her best.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Keys impresses with Stanford win

American fans were rejoicing in Stanford as three of the four semi finalists were from the USA.  More joy as Madison Keys, the third seed, played all over Wimbledon champ Garbine Muguruza to win her semi final in straight sets.
That form continued in the all American final as Keys won a tight battle with sixth seed Coco Vandeweghe 7-6 6-4. Maybe this third WTA title will be the catalyst to a Grand Slam breakthrough for a much vaunted (especially American press) player. 

Also in America we had both men and women contesting Washington.
Alexander Zverev (5) defeated Kevin Anderson (15) after they had knocked out Kei Nishikori (2) and Jack Sock (8) in the semis.

Ekaterina Makarova (7) defeated Julia Goerges (4) in the WTA final - the defeated semi finalists were Oceane Dodin (5) and Andre Petkovic respectively.

In Los Cabos wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis defeated top seed Tomas Berdych in a semi final but couldn't continue that amazing run in the final where Sam Querrey served too well and captured his second title for 2017, both in Mexico.

The only seed to reach the Kitzbuhel semis was Fabio Fognini (2) but Philipp Kohlschreiber dismissed him and proceeded to win the title from runner up Joao Sousa.
This was the second final for Kohlschreiber in 2017 and his first success.

The eye is on Canada this week with the next ATP Masters 1000 event in Montreal and the Premier 5 WTA tournament in Toronto.
The big names missing from Montreal are Andy Murray (injured), Novak Djokovic (gone for the year) and Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic.

The women's draw for Toronto includes all of the world's top twenty ranked players - apart from Serena Williams of course.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Muguruza still firing

In Kitzbuhel the men are still playing on clay, while the sane tennis players have opted for hard court tournaments in Washington (ATP and WTA), Stanford (WTA) and Los Cabos (ATP).
No sign of Nadal, Federer, Murray, Karolina Pliskova or Kerber.

However Simona Halep, the world number two, is competing in Washington and has made it through to the quarter finals where she will meet seventh seed Ekaterina Makarova.
The depth of the field isn't that strong, with Kristina Mladenovic the only other top twenty player, and she has been ousted by Canadian Bianca Andreescu, ranked 167, in the second round.
The other quarter finals are:

Sabine Lisicki v Oceane Dodin (5)
Monica Niculescu (6) v Julia Goerges (4)
Andrea Petkovic v Bianca Andreescu 

All of the men's quarter final spots have been filled from a strong field including four top ten and eight top twenty players.
Top seed Dominic Thiem exited via Kevin Anderson (15) in the third round, leaving the South African to play Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri, ranked 200 in the world.  Bhambri had knocked sixth seed Gael Monfils out of the event in the second round.

Daniil Medvedev will take on Alexander Zverev (5) while another unseeded player, Tommy Paul, will battle Kei Nishikori (2) after the Japanese star defeated Juan Martin del Potro  (13) and Paul dismissed Gilles Muller (11).

The best quarter final on paper is that between Canadian Milos Raonic (3) and American Jack Sock (8).
No guessing for which player the fans will cheering.

Stanford is a great tournament for the seeds with each of the top eight progressing to the quarters where the line up is:

Garbine Muguruza (1) v Ana Konjuh (5)
Madison Keys (3) v Lesia Tsurenko (7)
Coco Vandeweghe (6) v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (4)
Catherine Bellis (8) v Petra Kvitova (2)

Maria Sharapova's comeback continues to stall with an injury forcing her out of even starting her second round match with Tsurenko.
In Muguruza's only match she asserted herself in the same manner seen throughout her Wimbledon campaign, and she appears hell-bent on continuing her charge.

Los Cabos has seen top seed Tomas Berdych through to the semi finals, defeating seventh seed Adrian Mannarino who had lost a mere eight games in his previous two matches.

Australian wild card Thanasi Kokkinakis won a battle of two young guns, beating American teenager Taylor Fritz in straight sets to move into the Berdych semi.
Fritz had taken out third seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round, but after a tie break first set, was unable to counter the return of the Australian in set two.

The other Los Cabos semi final will be a clash between American second seed Sam Querrey and unseeded Damir Dzumhur.

On the Kitzbuhel clay the two semi finals will be:

Sebastian Ofner v Joao Sousa
Philipp Kohlschreiber v Fabio Fognini (2)

Ofner, ranked 157, and offered a wild card to enter the draw, defeated top seed Pablo Cuevas and Sousa ousted third seed Paolo Lorenzi, both in second round matches.
The seeds had been given first round byes, so they obviously were of no assistance.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Isner 2nd title in 2 weeks

No luck for Caroline Wozniacki in Sweden.  The Danish top ten player lost her fifth final from five attempts this year thanks to the efforts of Katerina Siniakova in Bastad.

Siniakova burst to a 4-1 lead in set one, and had break chances for a 5-1 advantage.
Wozniacki survived those and broke back herself.  Unperturbed, seventh seed Siniakova broke once more and served out the opener 6-3.

Wozniacki came back and lead 3-1 in the second set but could not hold back the Czech surge and the second title of 2017, and of her career came to Siniakova 6-3 7-5.  
Bastad is becoming a love affair for Katerina as she was runner up in 2016 to Laura Siegemund.

In the battle of the Mayers, Leonardo from Argentina outlasted home favourite Florian in three sets to take his second Hamburg title.  In control after taking set one, and seemingly not under threat in set two, Leo was broken late and Florian grabbed the leveller.

Leo finally split the two in the eighth game of the final set, with a break of serve converted to a match win in the following game 6-4 4-6 6-3.

John Isner took two tight tie breaks to defeat compatriot Ryan Harrison and win the Atlanta title, his second title in two weeks following his Newport success.  Newport was on grass and Atlanta was on hard court so Isner has proved he can convert surfaces in readiness for the American season.

Italian fourth seed Fabio Fognini ended the honeymoon run of qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in Gstaad, capturing the crown 6-4 7-5, a year after his previous title in Umag.
Hanfmann jumps from 170 to 125 in the world rankings.  Nadal is only 285 points away from grabbing the number one ranking from Andy Murray.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Wozniacki 5th final in 2017

Caroline Wozniacki has made four WTA tournament finals in 2017 without success but her fifth chance in Bastad looks to be a good one, her opponent being seventh seed Katerina Siniakova.  

However nothing should be taken for granted considering Siniakova disposed of third seed Caroline Garcia in an impressive semi final performance.
The 44th ranked Czech player did not drop serve in the first set, winning 67% of points on her serve and 55% on Garcia's.  The second set was tighter but Siniakova managed to secure the extra break to clinch a finals berth.

Hamburg will see an all Mayer final following the two semis - one all Germany, the other all Argentina.
Leonardo Mayer overcame the challenge of qualifier Federico Delbonis in straight sets to become the Argentine finalist.
Florian Mayer won through good fortune as fellow German Philipp Kohlschreiber had to withdraw when leading 6-4 2-3.

Atlanta will fittingly see an all American final, with second seed John Isner matched up against fourth seed Ryan Harrison.  Harrison knocked out Kyle Edmund who had previously ended the tournament for top seed Jack Sock.

In Gstaad, 170th ranked player Yannick Hanfmann took out another seed Robin Haase (6) to reach the final and meet fourth seed Fabio Fognini who's semi final victim was Roberto Bautista Agut.
Hanfmann lost the opening set but won two tie breaks to claim victory.
The final is on and Fognini is a set up.

Nanchung has its title winner for 2017, second seed Shuai Peng, successful in straight sets over Japan's Nao Hibino.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Why Clay Court events now ?

In a continuation of ridiculous scheduling three of the five tournaments this week - Hamburg ATP, Gstaad ATP and Bastad ATP are being contested on clay when the next part of the WTA and ATP tours is the American hardcourt season.

This is in the same vein as the Bastad and Umag ATP, and Bucharest and Gstaad WTA tournaments immediately after Wimbledon.
It may be how the calendar is set but it makes no sense.

We completed our clay court season with a rousing climax in Paris.
Then Wimbledon equally ended the grass court season amazingly well.

Why then should players have to change back to clay court management when the next Grand Slam tournament is the hard court classic at Flushing Meadows ?
Lead up events in America will be on that surface and so many players will have had to adapt from clay to grass, back to clay, and then to hard court. 

Thankfully Atlanta ATP and Nanchang WTA have enabled players in those tournaments to adjust from grass to hardcourt instead of reverting to the clay which we finished with Roland Garros last month.

To the results themselves, and Hamburg has seen the humbling of six of the eight seeds prior to the quarter finals.
Leonardo Mayer, 30 years of age, and lucky loser from qualifying, dumped top seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the first round and has found himself in the final eight to play unseeded Jiri Vesely, who dispensed with seventh seed Fernando Verdasco in the opening round.

Third seed Karen Khachanov survived the carnage to reach the quarter finals where he will battle qualifier Federico Delbonis, conqueror of eighth seed David Ferrer in a second round straight setter.

Fans were most pleased to see a German through when unseeded Philipp Kohlschreiber overcame fourth seed Gilles Simon in a three set clash.
He will play 96th ranked Argentine Nicolas Kicker who kicked fifth seed Benoit Paire out of Hamburg.

The final quarter final features another Mayer, this one a German, Florian, and unseeded.  His challenge will be sixth seed Diego Schwartzman, the fourth Argentine in the final eight.

Atlanta has been a little kinder to the seeds, five having made it to the quarters, with top seed Jack Sock having just beaten Dudi Sela and now to play fifth seed Kyle Edmund.

Other quarter finals are:

Ryan Harrison (4) v Christopher Eubanks (ranked 461 beating eighth seed and fellow American Jared Donaldson in round two)
Gilles Muller (3) v Tommy Paul (ranked 291 beating seventh seed Korean Hyeon Chung in the first round)
John Isner (2) v Lukas Lacko

In Bastad top seed Caroline Wozniacki battled through two three setters, down a break in each of the deciders, but finds herself in a quarter final, her opponent Kateryna Kozlova, ranked 124

Other quarter finals:

Elise Mertens v Aleksandra Krunic (2nd seed Carla Suarez Navarro and 8th seed Julia Goerges early casualties amongst this section of the draw)
Caroline Garcia (3) v Barbora Krejcikova (Czech qualifier ranked 138, fortunate receiver of a walkover from 6th seed Kiki Bertens.
Katerina Siniakova (7) v Anastasija Sevastova (2)

In Nanchung only one seed made the quarters, Shuai Peng (2).

Some extremely low ranked players have reached the final eight:

Yafan Wang (147) v Su-Wei Hsieh (112)
Nao Hibino (88) v Jing-Jing Lu (313)
Arina Rodionova (134) v Xinyun Han (126)
Lin Zhu (118) v Shuai Peng (seeded 2 but ranked 30)

Quarter finals in Gstaad are:

David Goffin (1) v Robin Haase (6)
Yannick Hanfmann v Joao Sousa (8)
Ernests Gulbis v Fabio Fognini (4)
Denis Istomin v Roberto Bautista Agut (2)

Fine effort by German qualifier Hanfmann, ranked 170, to oust 3rd seed Feliciano Lopez in the second round.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Bertens goes one better to win Gstaad

Titles were decided in the five tournaments post Wimbledon and there were some surprises along the way.

Newport saw Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden defy his ranking of 154 to battle top seed John Isner in the final for over an hour, only to come up just short 3-6 6-7.
Isner converted the single break point for the match, confirming how competitive Ebden had been.

David Ferrer found some of his old form to win yet another crown, this one in Bastad.
Ranking having dropped to 33, the Spaniard used his first serve more effectively than Alexandr Dolgopolov to claim both sets 6-4 6-4, and title number 28.

Lucky loser from qualifying Andrey Rublev managed to run through the main draw and defeat fourth seed Pablo Lorenzi convincingly in the final 6-4 6-2.  
Lorenzi's serve was attacked throughout, broken four times from seven opportunities.

Irina-Camelia Begu brought back memories of her form of 2016 with her Bucharest title, straight sets victor over big serving Julia Goerges.
Begu had a satisfactory first serve % of 75 but more impressive was the point winning off her second serve - 86%.

In a clash between the second and third seeds, Kiki Bertens (2) outlasted Anett Kontaveit (3) in three sets and almost two hours to take out the Gstaad title, one she lost to Viktorija Golubic in the 2016 final.

After two tight sets Bertens, despite a poor first serve percentage of 42%, won all of her points on the first delivery.  Kontaveit could only manage to win 4 points out of 11 of her first serves.
6-1 came easily to Kiki who won her second tournament for 2017, both on clay.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Tennis all over Europe

Yes the great weeks of Wimbledon are over and the champions have been celebrated, but the tours don't stop and the past week has seen five tournaments played.
ATP events have progressed in Newport, Umag and Bastad.
WTA events decided in Bucharest and Gstaad.

In Newport Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden has reached the semi finals, a second round win over sixth seed Lukas Lacko impressive.  He will meet unseeded German Peter Gojowczyk who knocked out second seed Ivo Karlovic in the quarter finals.

Other quarter finals are:

John Isner (1) v Dennis Novikov
Pierre-Hugues Herbert v Bjorn Fratangelo 

Quarter finals in Umag are:

David Goffin (1) v Ivan Dodig
Fabio Fognini (3) v Andrey Rublev
Jiri Vesely (8) v Paolo Lorenzi (4)
Alessandro Giannessi v Rogerio Dutra Silva

Dutra Silva upset top seed Gael Monfils in the second round after Monfils had a first round bye.

In Bastad, the Pablos have been defeated early.  Top seed Pablo Carreno Busta was ousted after an opening bye, retiring in the third set against Andrey Kuznetsov.
Third seed Pablo Cuevas also lost after an opening bye, his conqueror Henri Laaksonen.

Quarter finals:

Andrey Kuznetsov v Diego Schwartzman (7)
Karen Khachanov (5) v Alexandr Dolgopolov
David Ferrer (8) v Henri Laaksonen
Fernando Verdasco (6) v Albert Ramos-Vinolas (2)

Most of the seeds have survived to the quarter finals in Bucharest:

Anastasija Sevastova (1) v Ana Bogdan
Julia Goerges (3) v Alexandra Dulgheru
Irina-Camelia Begu (7) v Pauline Parmentier
Tatjana Maria (8) v Carla Suarez Navarro (2)

Top seed Caroline Garcia was toppled by Tereza Martincova, ranked 140, in the second round of the Gstaad tournament.
Garcia was one of four seeds not to reach the quarters.

Second seed Kiki Bertens has made the semi final where she will play 97th ranked Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Remaining quarter finals:

Tereza Martincova v Antonia Lottner
Anett Kontaveit (3) v Carina Witthoeft (6)

As can be seen, all of the top ten players in the world and most of the top twenty have taken a break after Wimbledon but soon thoughts will turn to the American hard court season and back to the courts the very best will return.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Federer Record 8th Wimbledon Crown

Roger Federer made more history by winning his eighth Wimbledon title (the most by a male) and his nineteenth overall Grand Slam title (4 more than Rafa).
Sadly it was not in the greatest of circumstances because there was practically no opponent.  

Marin Cilic wasn't there, at least he was present in body, but the player whose talents and determination had brought him to win six matches at this tournament was nowhere to be found.  2017 saw the most one sided final since David Nalbandian said congratulations to Lleyton Hewitt in 2002 (coincidentally the year before Roger began his hobby of collecting GS trophies)

A mere ghost of Marin turned up to only give a yelp.  Roger of course happily thrashed the pants off the shell of Cilic, never looking in trouble. (faced one break point the entire match and that was saved consummately)
The first break came in game five and Cilic couldn't save the set. Serving at 3-5 and 30-0 to try and make Federer serve it out, Cilic threw in 3 forehand errors and a  double fault to finish the set 6-3 in Roger's favour.

Marin lost his serve straight away in set 2, giving Federer a 2-0 lead.  The backhand was breaking down now so nothing could help the Croatian out.
After Federer held for 3-0 Marin called for a medical time out although no obvious physical issues appeared to be hampering him.
Indeed he wasn't treated physically - he was just a mental wreck and needed some words of comfort and advice to stop the meltdown.

Back on court he held serve to the plaudits of the crowd.  That was however the final hurrah for Croatia for set two.  Despite holding two game points in his next service game Cilic managed to serve his way into bother and was broken, the game and effectively the set gone.
6-3 6-1 for Roger and the job was almost done - a quick Swiss assassination with a big payout.

Set three padded its way along to the 7th game where four errors from Cilic, two from each wing, were sufficient to donate the final break of the match to Federer, from which he nonchalantly completed victory in just an hour and 40 minutes 6-3 6-1 6-4.

Federer, to his credit, can only defeat what is thrown up against him, and he was fortunate this time that his main rivals were hamstrung with injury, or in Rafa's case simply outgunned earlier.
Roger played a brilliant tournament, and he would have been difficult for anyone to hurdle at any point, as Marin Cilic found to his utter disappointment in the final.

The rankings show Roger swapping spots with Stan Wawrinka, Roger now at 3 and Stan at 5.  Grigor Dimitrov slides back into the top ten at 10.  Murray's lead over Nadal has been sliced to less than 300 and Federer is closing close with no points to defend for the remainder of 2017. 

To illustrate just how Federer and Nadal have dominated in their respective comebacks, the year to date points leaders are:

Nadal            7095
Federer        6545
Thiem           3345
Wawrinka      3150
Cilic               2905

The following are some of the players who have achieved new career high rankings:

Pablo Carreno Busta - up 1 to 16 (prev high 17)
Gilles Muller - up 4 to 22 (prev high 26)
Mischa Zverev - up 2 to 28 (prev high 29)

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Muguruza Wimbledon Champ - and how !

Garbine Muguruza has joined an illustrious group of current players with two Grand Slam titles after her outstanding performance in the 2017 Ladies Wimbledon Final.

Not favoured by the majority of supposed experts, who were probably a little blinded by the emotion of a possible Venus win, Garbine should have been given more of a chance considering her preparation and match form pre final.

35 Grand Slam trophies are owned by the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova.
Then next of those still active are those with two apiece: Sveta Kuznetsova, Vika Azarenka, Petra Kvitova and Angie Kerber.  Garbine can be added to these four now.

The beginning of the big match was an ace from Venus and a strong service hold from the five time champ.  Garbine's first point on her serve was a double fault but she held her nerve and serve, not dropping another point, two backhand volley winners sealing the game.

It took a couple of games but soon both players were into their stride and generally serves were being held with relative ease, the Venus forehand reliable and Muguruza confident in her attack.

Each saved a break point in games six and seven but the most significant moment in the final was the tenth game of set one where Venus held two set points following 2 forehand errors off the Spanish racquet. 
Garbine not only stood firm in this crisis, but she turned the match on its head from the minute the serve was held, significantly with an attack on the American forehand.

Three forehand mistakes and a double fault were too many gifts for Garbine not to take in the eleventh game and the 14th seed broke for 6-5 and held for a set lead.

Three games in succession became nine in a destruction so decisive and ruthless but beautiful to watch in itself.  Sad to see Venus brought to her knees by this wonderful display of relentless Serena-like tennis from the 23 year old, but there was no disgrace. The older sister had played a magnificent Wimbledon in her own right and losing 7-5 6-0 was just a reflection of the winners stunning exhibition.

14 winners and just 11 unforced errors is amazing from Garbine, when you think of how attacking her game is - Venus hit a few more errors but was more generous with her mistakes and that was pronounced in set two.

Obviously disappointed with the loss, Venus was all class at the interviews post match, genuinely delighted for Garbine's success and hopeful for her own future. (37 years young !)
Garbine, if she can remain fit, is truly the player for advertising the woman's tour.   Attractive and attacking tennis is what Serena Williams offers and Garbine attempts that type of game.  It's exciting, and not many others on the tour are capable of exhibiting it, certainly not at this level.

If Wimbledon 2017 has shown us many things, one is that women's tennis is alive and unpredictable - Karolina Pliskova is the new world number one despite again failing to make it past the second round.  Simona Halep is marginally behind her, while Vika Azarenka and Petra Kvitova are back and seriously challenging for their rightful positions amongst the top few.

Johanna Konta has moved up three spots to a career high of 4,  Garbine Muguruza has jumped ten places to number 5 and Venus Williams is improved by two back in the top ten at number 9.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Cilic to play scary Federer in final

The 2017 Wimbledon Men's Final will be a contest between Roger Federer and Marin Cilic as predicted before the semis, but the efforts of Tomas Berdych and Sam Querrey are to be commended.  Clearly the competitiveness of these semi finals gave us something that the ladies didn't. (not blaming Venus and Garbine for being too good)

First up were Cilic and Querrey, and the American was firing fastest first.
It didn't matter to Cilic who by serving first was always placing pressure on Querrey to play catch up.  
Not enough pressure to create a break point which never looked likely on either mans serve and a tie break resulted.

Cilic settled quickly, taking a 4-1 points lead but then lost the edge and 6-6 arrived.  Two unforced backhand mistakes from the Croatian saw the opening set slip from his grasp and Querrey was a set to the good.

Set two began with the American serving first and the advantage stayed with him until the seventh game where Cilic opened with a forehand winner and closed with a backhand winner, those enough with errors from the American racquet to cause a break of serve.

Cilic consolidated the break and won the set 6-4 and also the third in a tie break, putting Querrey under the pump, especially with Sam serving second.

When Sam broke in the third game, hopes had been regenerated amongst his fans, only to be reduced a little in the eighth game.  From 0-30 Cilic hit three clean winners to set up a break point which he duly converted for 4-4 and control once more.

At 5-6 Querrey began with a double fault and two unforced errors brought up two match points for Cilic.  A forehand winner on the second of these gave Cilic entrance to his first Wimbledon final 6-7 (6) 6-4 7-6 (3) 7-5.

His next challenge will be slightly more problematic.  Roger Federer is in his eleventh Wimbledon final, chasing his record eighth title, having ousted Tomas Berdych in a worthwhile semi final, yet frustrating if a Berdych fan.

For two fascinating sets the Czech player held serve, albeit through somewhat more difficulties than his Swiss counterpart, and two tie breaks ensued.

Federer is renowned for his abilities in tie breaks - let's be honest his abilities period - and poor Tomas was the latest victim, losing both of these and facing the improbable task of winning the final three sets to beat the maestro.
Coming back from two sets down in any match was something not achieved by Berdych since 2005, so history wasn't on his side.

Indeed Federer tightened the screws once Berdych failed to take advantage of two break points in the sixth game of the third set.  Federer served four brilliant points, two of them aces, to squash any chance.  
Next he broke the Czech serve after setting up break point with a forehand volley winner.

Holding serve to the finish line, Federer stepped into the final, with no Djokovic, Nadal or Murray in sight, but careful not to take Cilic lightly.  He did lose to Marin in the 2014 US Open semi final when everyone had already carved the Swiss name in the trophy.

Berdych can be pleased with his determined performance, knowing that Federer is currently playing tennis at a level similar to 2008-9 which is rather scary.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Garbine and Venus to contest final

The ladies semi finals at Wimbledon 2017 were both straight sets affairs, with Venus Williams and Garbine Muguruza becoming the finalists as a result.

Venus destroyed local hopes by continuing her dominant tennis displayed throughout the tournament.  Winning a close first set against Johanna Konta was sufficient to give energy to charge into the second and Konta was virtually an onlooker for most of the remainder of the match.

Despite hitting 14 winners and only making 6 unforced errors in set one, Konta was punished on her second serve, losing eight of twelve points.
Serving at 4-5 the Brit generously donated four errors to Williams, handing the set to the American.

Set two was less of a contest - Venus faced no break points, hit 11 winners, made just 4 unforced errors and won 16 points out of 20 on serve.
Konta won just 17 of 34 on her serve.
Breaks came in the fourth and eighth (final) games and Williams won 6-4 6-2.

In the most brutal thrashing of the tournament to this point, Garbine Muguruza ended the amazing run of Magdalena Rybarikova.
Raising the standard of her game even higher, the Spanish number 14 seed dropped just a single game in each set as she clinically disposed of the Slovakian in a little over an hour.

22 winners to the Spanish star and only 11 mistakes of her own, five break conversions of the twelve opportunities created, and just over half of the points won by Garbine were off the Rybarikova serve.

If Venus was super impressive in her route to the final, then Garbine was possibly more so.

A final to come of which to savour.

Mens semis next and hopefully I can predict as perfectly as I did for the ladies.

Federer should be too adept for Berdych and Cilic enough equipped to account for Querrey (although I'm wanting the American to win and continue  a great story)

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Federer cruising to his 8th

Roger Federer has been given a free fide through to another Wimbledon title (his eighth) thanks to unfortunate exits by Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in quarter final matches.
True Roger played a terrific match himself to defeat Milos Raonic, avenging last year's semi final loss, but Djokovic retiring against Berdych means avoiding that tough mountain to climb and Querrey's epic win over an obviously sub par Murray leaves Federer as the overwhelming favourite to take more silverware.

Querrey is the real story, irrespective of Andy's troubles.  To hang in there through three sets and then just take full advantage of the top seeds worsening condition took a great deal of focus and great tennis.  His serving was fantastic and ground strokes some of his best for the tournament.

Sad to see Murray struggle so much but also good to watch him stay to the end and allow the American win on his merits 3-6 6-4 6-7 (4) 6-1 6-1.
Querrey hit 70 winners against just 30 unforced errors, and even Murray was on the plus side with 33 winners and 19 unforced errors.

Whilst Federer was a standout with his 6-4 6-2 7-6 (4) thrashing of Raonic - 46 winners and just 9 unforced mistakes - Marin Cilic is still in contention and could be a danger to Federer if things go right for the 2014 US Open champ.
He did beat Roger in the semis on the way to winning at Flushing Meadows that year.

Cilic ended the Wimbledon hopes of Gilles Muller in the best of the quarter finals, winning a tight five setter 3-6 7-6 (6) 7-5 5-7 6-1.  The Nadal match finally must have worn Muller down as Cilic dominated the final set.
The Croatian is warm favourite to edge past Querrey and make his first Wimbledon final.  Either way there will be one debut finalist and the American is confident enough to say it will be him.

Hard to see Berdych beating Federer, although he did win a quarter final against Roger back in 2010, and funny things can happen, but rarely.

Women's semis next and my selections are Venus Williams to upset Johanna Konta and all of Britain, and Garbine Muguruza to end the fairytale run of Magdalena Rybarikova.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Muguruza staking claims

Because of the incompetence of organisers the first match decided on women's quarter final day was that between Novak Djokovic and Adrian Mannarino.
Djokovic was happy to wrap this up in straight sets and prepare himself for a quarter final with Tomas Berdych, whose Wimbledon this year has been most impressive.
Mannarino played a pretty good match against the second seed, especially being down a set and a break. He forced Djokovic to a second set tie break, losing it seven points to five.
A single break of serve in set three was sufficient to seal proceedings but Novak knew that he had been tested somewhat.

The head to head record against Berdych is 25 from 27 for Djokovic including the last 12.  The third meeting was the Wimbledon semi final in 2010 which Berdych won so he can use that as some hope.

Garbine Muguruza (14) continued her terrific tennis, ending Sveta Kuznetsova's Wimbledon hopes in two clinical sets. Power mixed with grace has seen the Spanish star emerge as a favourite, particularly since she has been a finalist before (2015).

In another high class battle, Kuznetsova (7) hit 21 winners and only committed 12 unforced errors, yet was unable to break the reliable Muguruza serve, and the timing of the single breaks of the Russian serve early in each set was impeccable.

Muguruza will play Slovakian surprise packet, 87th ranked Magdalena Rybarikova, who accounted for an erratic Coco Vandeweghe in their quarter final.
Rybarikova was ranked as low as the 400s earlier this year, having had to undergo surgery on her knee and wrist, and missing the second half of 2016.
Her record on grass is good, however, and by taking out Karolina Pliskova and now Vandeweghe, she is proving that in spades.
Never having been beyond the third round in a Grand Slam event before, a semi final is fantastic for Magdalena.

The Brits are really into Wimbledon 2017 with Murray in the quarters and now Konta (Aussie born) into the semis.
Another three setter was required and Johanna ultimately overcame Simona Halep in style, with a superb serving exhibition by both players.
The first two sets were split by tie breaks with only two breaks of serve included.
The decider was again close, but in the sixth game Konta attacked the Halep backhand and drew a couple of errors, helping create the critical break of serve for 4-2.

This was enough and Johanna Konta has raised Brit hopes for a first home win since Virginia Wade 40 years ago.
To even reach the final, Konta must defeat five time champ Venus Williams, who knocked off another youngster almost half her age, Jelena Ostapenko.

Venus is looking dangerous, her serve damaging.  In the last four and knowing how to win this thing must make her a big hurdle for Konta. A great semi final is guaranteed.

Mens quarter finals are next on the agenda and the match of the four in my opinion has to be Federer v Raonic.  Raonic defeated the Swiss master here in the semis last year so revenge is on Roger's mind no doubt.