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:


Montreal


Denis Shapovalov v Adrian Mannarino

Alexander Zverev (4) v Kevin Anderson

Robin Haase v Diego Schwartzman

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


Toronto


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.