Saturday, January 31, 2015

Australian Open: WTA Backspin in Disguise


Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Welcome to a very poor imitation of Backspin. There are no fancy lists or impressive stats. There is no big post for the women's final, but hey. Oh, also, everyone I hope you enjoy the Super Bowl. LETS GO PATS!



Let's open with this:



And I love the comment, though Serena could match her record this year. I mean who is gonna stop her? Right now, I have Halep, Azarenka on clay and Venus on the grass. And that's Serena having a bad day and those players having a career day. At slam level who can take her on? Stosur, Kuznetsova, Henin, Clijsters, Davenport, Capriati, Mauresmo and Li Na are all gone in one way or another. Sharapova can't handle her. Perhaps the young guard can stop her -- Muguruza certainly can. Perhaps Bouchard can hit her off the court. We've seen Kerber and Lisicki handle her.
Sharapova played a good match, breaking her serve once and hitting more winners than errors. But Serena blasted eighteen aces and won three of Maria's service games. Serena may have vomited, but that still didn't stop her claiming number 19 in just under two hours. So, well played Maria, but you never really had a chance.

To be honest, if you want the final done properly there is no point reading about it here. Basically my neighbor [I'm renting, he owns both properties] is hosting a fabulous party. Why would I throw a party, too? Besides which I can have a kind of break from hosting parties. Why not head over there. I'll join you, I just have to finish writing about the boys doubles. No, really. But hey, save me some pizza. I want in on that. There's a gate that goes next door. In fact here it is: http://wtabackspin.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/33-is-new-19.html

Well, anyway, we have only the mixed and the men's final to go tomorrow. But today Polmans and Delaney, who beat the top seeds in the first round, finally triumphed in the final. The Austalians beat the eighth seeds Hurkacz and Molcan 0-6, 6-2, [10-8] in a gripping final. Roman Safiullin was the top seed in the boys singles and he won through 7-5, 7-6 [2] against the Korean seventh seed Seong-Chan Hong. For the boys singles, the event went relatively to plan with six seeds in the quarterfinals.

In the men's wheelchair quad tennis, stalwart David Wagner has been replaced by Dylan Alcott. The young Australian has won gold for men's basketball in the Paralympics. He also knows a grand slam winner fairly well. See if you can spot her in this introductory video:



That was Dylan Alcott. He didn't lose a set. In the doubles [which is just one match] he and partner Sithole lost to Wagner/Lapthorne 6-0, 3-6, 6-2.

And, finally, back to the more mainstream. In the men's doubles, Fognini/Bolelli broke thrice to win the men's doubles over Mahut/Herbert. Perhaps when he has a partner he is more calm. With 29 errors and just 14 errors, the Italians were far too consistent in the 6-4, 6-4 triumph. Yet they were imaginative and they event went with the 'I' formation on set point in the first set on a second serve. It worked.



So after fairly similar 41-minute 6-4 sets, we have our doubles champions. And I will see you soonish for the wrap, but remember tomorrow is Super Bowl day so it could easily turn into Monday or Tuesday...

=Suicide Pick=
Round 1: Venus Williams [D. Torro Flor]; Jerzy Janowicz [d. Moriya]
Round 2: Ka Plíšková [D. Dodin]; Lleyton Hewitt [d. Becker]
Round 3: Agnieszka Radwanska [D. Lepchenko]
Round 4: Eugenie Bouchard [D. Begu]
QF: Simona Halep [D. Makaraova]
Mixed Round 1: Hingis/Paes [D Jovanovic/Thompson]
Mixed Round 2: Dellacqua/Peers [D.Klepac/Guccione]
Mixed QF: Mirza/Soares [D. Dellacqua/Peers]
Mixed SF: Hsieh/Cuevas [D. Hingis/Paes]
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Thanks, Galileo.

We're almost done now. We've almost finished one more slam.

Casey Dellacqua has fallen to 35 sadly.

And remember to visit WTA BACKSPIN. Always remember to visit WTA BACKSPIN.

Read more!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Australian Open: Semi-finals, Pt.2 - Déjà Vu Déjà Vu


Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Ill clean up the rest of the events along with the ladies final tomorrow. But for now, let's just finish the semi-finals.

=Suicide Pick=
Round 1: Venus Williams [D. Torro Flor]; Jerzy Janowicz [d. Moriya]
Round 2: Ka Plíšková [D. Dodin]; Lleyton Hewitt [d. Becker]
Round 3: Agnieszka Radwanska [D. Lepchenko]
Round 4: Eugenie Bouchard [D. Begu]
QF: Simona Halep [D. Makaraova]
Mixed Round 1: Hingis/Paes [D Jovanovic/Thompson]
Mixed Round 2: Dellacqua/Peers [D.Klepac/Guccione]
Mixed QF: Mirza/Soares [D. Dellacqua/Peers]
Mixed SF: Hsieh/Cuevas [D. Hingis/Paes]

And I am done at the semi-final stage. Expect this feature to return, accompanied by one or two new ones, bigger and better, for the French Open.

ROD LAVER: DJOKOVIC d. WAWRINKA
...Djokovic opened up by dismissing Bedene and then Kuznetsov fairly routinely. He had Verdasco and Muller next for a change of pace. And what pace they have, though it wasn't anywhere near enough to unseat the top seed. He then beat eighth seed Raonic comfortably and fourth seed Wawrinka uncomfortably to advance to the final.

I was a little harsh on Murray's cake walk to the final and I would extend the same criticism to Djokovic's road, but I can’t because he has earned it. If Murray had faced Novak's path would he have looked as good? Quite possibly not. Djokovic was average but did enough to win 7-6 [1], 3-6, 6-4, 4-6 in three and a half hours. The quality was questionable, with Djokovic breaking seven times to Vavy's five. Djokovic hit just 27 winners. That is shocking. Djokovic did win 41% of receiving points, which if he replicates in the final will surely make him the winner.

Winners - 27/42
Unforced errors - 49/69


This match was not a classic five-setter. It is the worst of their AO series so far and it has badly let the side down. But what you should reflect on is the last set. Yes, Wawrinka imploded. Of course he did. But Djokovic showed an upturn in his form, he showed an improvement. I think if he plays maybe five per cent better than he did in that last set Murray could be in trouble.



Tomorrow, I clean up the rest of the event. We are at the end of the meal and what a meal it has been but, alas, there is still scrumptious sauce left. So tomorrow I will be doing this:



We all know my analogies and synonyms are rubbish, but they stay this rubbish so by the time we get to this stage of a slam they begin to look relatively decent. Anyway, I will be mopping up the last of that scrumptious sauce. I may even review the women's final. I will also be previewing our dessert and coffee -- the men's final will be a rich vanilla cheesecake and the mixed a strong espresso.

How does this sound for a work in progress title: "Serena Williams Too Good, Pulverizes Pova"...
=============================

It was nice of Casey to last this long although I guess it would've been nice to have a bit more to celebrate.

Thanks, Galileo.

We're almost done now, we've almost finished one more slam.

And remember to visit WTA BACKSPIN. Always remember to visit WTA BACKSPIN.

Read more!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Australian Open: Semi-finals, Pt.1 - Déjà vu


Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

So I will basically do the semi-finals one at a time. Then Saturday I will do an even lighter Backspin before I close the tournament with a final post and Todd does his bit.

I think Sharapova doesn't get blown away. Remember 2007 when Serena Williams blew her away 6-1, 6-2? That won't happen here. Pova will make it tight and, as much as I want to see her take a set, she goes down 7-6, 6-4. Or something resembling that score line. Serena just hates losing to Maria and she also has that Open era record of slams to gun for. Can she reach 22? I think she has a 75% chance of equalizing it if she wins on Saturday.

Herbert/Mahut beat fourth seeds Dodig/Melo on Margaret Court in two hours twenty by a 6-4,6-7,7-6 score. Meanwhile on Rod Laver, Fognini/Bolelli came through 6-4,3-6,6-3 against sixth seeded Rojer/Tecau.

So I will keep it short and sweet. I can't wait for Wimbledon when they actually put the semi-finals on the same day. It's a lot less disjointed.

=Suicide Pick=
Round 1: Venus Williams [D. Torro Flor]; Jerzy Janowicz [d. Moriya]
Round 2: Ka Plíšková [D. Dodin]; Lleyton Hewitt [d. Becker]
Round 3: Agnieszka Radwanska [D. Lepchenko]
Round 4: Eugenie Bouchard [D. Begu]
QF: Simona Halep [D. Makaraova]
Mixed Round 1: Hingis/Paes [D Jovanovic/Thompson]
Mixed Round 2: Dellacqua/Peers [D.Klepac/Guccione]
Mixed QF: Mirza/Soares [D. Dellacqua/Peers]
Mixed SF: Hsieh/Cuevas [D. Hingis/Paes]

A big roll of the dice here. It really is a lose/lose situation here but I thought Mladenovic/Nestor were the favorites and I am bravely sticking with them.


ROD LAVER: MURRAY d. BERDYCH
...Bhambri, Matosevic, Sousa, Dimitrov, Kyrgios, Berdych. That is a run that puts fear into the heart of nobody. Yes, those are good players but there isn't one player there capable of beating Murray, not really. Murray has never played two big four players on the way to winning a slam. In 2012 he beat Berdych in a very similar score line to today 5-7, 6-1, 6-2, 7-6. I have said it before and I'll say it again -- until Murray wins a clay event he is not part of the Big Four. The stats don't back him -- he has only two majors, he has never been world number one and he has not once even been to a clay final. But, yet again because of a softer draw, he is in a grand slam final. Djokovic had a softer draw, as well. But that being said you can only play what is in front of you.



That illustrated perfectly the gap, and that's especially bearing in mind this wasn't during Federer's prime. He can't even hold a winning record against a guy many people are calling past it. I should give more dues to Murray, but when he faces a truly challenging draw and wins and also claims a clay title, I can take his bid to expand the Big Three seriously. Berdych capitulated in this match as he crashed out 6-7 [8], 6-0, 6-3, 7-5. It took Murray close to three and a half hours to close it out and move to Australian Open final number four. He lost to Federer in 2010 and has lost to Djokovic in three of the last five finals. Murray really pulled out a great match here, going 40-39 on the winners count with 15 aces thrown in, too. Berdych had a shocker, collapsing dramatically and hitting 56 errors as Murray broke his "big serve" six times. Murray also won 40% of his receiving points in the match, an incredible number. He will need that in the final, whoever he plays against. On Saturday, I get to talk about the bloodbath/slaughter/annihilation ladies final. I get to conclude most of the rest of the event, too. I will preview the men's event, look at the men's doubles and the mixed final. I also have to talk a little about the juniors. All these fun things, but for now I am not talking about Sunday. I will, however, leave you with this instructional video about Sunday:



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It was nice of Casey to last this long, although I guess it would've been nice to have a bit more to celebrate.

Thanks, Galileo.

Visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

Read more!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Australian Open: The One Where Nothing Happened


Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Sometimes there are just boring days in slams. It happens. The fourth rounds were acceptable. The quarterfinals were a disappointment. No four or five setters. No big upsets. No drama. So I will happily conclude the quarters today and hope for better luck in the semi-finals.

Why not watch some of this- this is the kind of stuff we were missing:



And in doubles, sixth seeded Rojer/Tecau beat the fourteenth seeded Inglot and Mergea 6-4, 7-6. In the semi-finals they will play Bolelli/ Fognini, who needed a pair of breakers to advance past the also unseeded pairing of Cuevas and Marrero. They won 7-5 in both of those breakers.

=Suicide Pick=
Round 1: Venus Williams [D. Torro Flor]; Jerzy Janowicz [d. Moriya]
Round 2: Ka Plíšková [D. Dodin]; Lleyton Hewitt [d. Becker]
Round 3: Agnieszka Radwanska [D. Lepchenko]
Round 4: Eugenie Bouchard [D. Begu]
QF: Simona Halep [D. Makaraova]
Mixed Round 1: Hingis/Paes [D Jovanovic/Thompson]
Mixed Round 2: Dellacqua/Peers [D.Klepac/Guccione]
Mixed QF: Mirza/Soares [D. Dellacqua/Peers]
Mixed SF: TBD


ROD LAVER: DJOKOVIC d. RAONIC
...Raonic is coming closer and closer. From 2011, he has reached in that particular year, two finals, four finals, four finals, three finals and one final. The last two times he failed to achieve his seeding at a slam were against Dimitrov on grass and Nishikori at the U.S. Open. He has made the quarterfinals three of the last four slams and not missed the fourth round for a year. He is rising but he consistently meets road blocks. He no longer loses to someone one would not expect him to but he needs to find a way to get past these road blocks. In last year's Wimbledon semis, Federer put on a master class to beat him 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and twenty minutes. Federer faced one break point and was just too good throughout. Djokovic has pulled a similar performance here -- under two hours and only 12 games conceded. Djokovic won the breaker and then the match was always going to be his. Raonic never even had a break point, although that could be due to the fact his opponent hit just 17 errors. Raonic was broken thrice as his serve couldn’t quite hold up. Raonic hit 114 aces in Melbourne, probably the most in the tournament come the end. It is now Djokovic against Wawrinka. I think this time, not like the past two times, people will see Wawrinka coming. "People" includes Djokovic. Of course, he was ready last time but this time there is no element of surprise. I still think this is perhaps the one slam where Wawrinka has the best chance of upending the top seed. To be fair, I would like his chances in London, too, but here in Australia he looks very good.
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ROD LAVER: WAWRINKA d. NISHIKORI
...Nishikori has disappointed us all. We expected a fight, a battle. We expected him to win a set, to frustrate and confound the Swiss number two. He did none of those things. He meekly faded away. Wawrinka proved to be simply too strong, but against Rafa last year in that situation he outclassed Rafa for whole swaths of that match. Wawrinka is on fire. He could melt rocks right now. He could be in the Fantastic Four. He and Djokovic are on course for an explosion the likes of which we haven't seen since Eva Asderaki last looked Serena's way. Vavsy claimed victory 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 [6] in a shade over two hours. The scoreline is generous. Wawrinka was pushing Nishikori around. Wawrinka looked a top two player and he looked determined. He was in no mood to grant clemency. The Swiss blasted 20 winners and 46 winners overall to win. He even cut down on his errors, although 34 is still a little too high. He surrendered his serve just once, an area he needs to improve on but if he replicates the 3/11 on break points against the Djoker he has a shot. He has more than a shot. He also won 74% of serving points and 35% on the receiving side. This was pure domination. There was no let-up. It was a relentless barrage. Up next for Wawrinka is Djokovic. If he wins then he goes on to win the whole tournament. Murray has been to three Australian Open finals and is 1-9 in sets. Wawrinka is 3-1 in sets. Berdych has been to one major final. So if Stan wins here, he wins through. Well, at least that's how I'm calling it.
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=Any other notes?=
* - Casey Dellacqua and John Peers lost and it meant the end of the Casey Dellacqua odyssey here down under, where she went one and one just about everywhere. In Australia she finished with a 5-4 record, excluding the Hopman Cup and a 5-6 record if you do include it. She went 5-3 in Melbourne. Next up could be Stuttgart for the Fed Cup, but that isn't till February.

Thanx all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

Read more!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Australian Open: Let That Be a Lesson to You All


Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

"And let that be a lesson to you all, nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row." So said Vitas in 1980 after he finally beat Jimmy Connors.

After Tomas Berdych ended Rafa Nadal's 17-match winning streak over him the Australian Open quarterfinals, it's still a fact that nobody has ever beaten anybody 18 times in a row in the Open era at the professional level. As a result, along with Andy Murray's victory, this is the second year in a row the sixth and seventh seeds have made the semi-finals.

Berdych may finally have come of age. If he beats Andy Murray then he will have truly arrived at last. Murray will be a very tough match, obviously, and the winner really will be deserving of a place in the final.

And now for some men's doubles, because it's not all just about the singles. The second seeds Benneteau/Roger-Vasselin could have capitalized and made a bid for the world number one ranking a possibility had they clung on. They faltered, however, and lost to Herbert/Mahut 7-6, 3-6, 6-3. The unranked all-French pair hit 50 winners in the two hour match on their way to a three-set upset. But who would they play? The fourth seeds, Dodig and Melo, were the favorites against big-serving unseeded pair Lopez and Mirnyi. They broke three times and won the opening set at love in 19 minutes. The Europeans were just getting started, however, and slowly took control. They took the next set 6-3 and the match was on a knife's edge. It went all the way to a third set breaker, which the fourth seeds took and now have a French pair waiting for them.

=Suicide Pick=
Round 1: Venus Williams [D. Torro Flor]; Jerzy Janowicz [d. Moriya]
Round 2: Ka Plíšková [D. Dodin]; Lleyton Hewitt [d. Becker]
Round 3: Agnieszka Radwanska [D. Lepchenko]
Round 4: Eugenie Bouchard [D. Begu]
QF: Simona Halep [D. Makaraova]
Mixed Round 1: Hingis/Paes [D Jovanovic/Thompson]
Mixed Round 2: Dellacqua/Peers [D.Klepac/Guccione]
Mixed QF: Mirza/Soares [D. Dellacqua/Peers]


ROD LAVER: BERDYCH d. NADAL
...It wasn't just the scoreline, it was everything. Like "Roots," "Cheers," "Friends" and the Jackson Five, Nadal's aura and career had to begin to fade to diminish. The beginning of the end was the loss to Soderling. He had his best year after that but the first tiny crack had appeared. It was barely noticeable but it was there and in an otherwise unblemished surface, it stuck out. Rosol was a big crack along with missing all those slams and all those suspect losses in slams to people like Ferrer and Murray. He was clearly injured in those Australian Open quarterfinals. People began to openly wonder, "what's going on." And since the end of 2012, he has been either brilliant or woefully abysmal. There hasn't been much middle ground. And now, Nadal is done. I have written those words before but truly I believe them now. I've been a lot more opinionated of late but, really, he is done now. He'll still win a lot on clay and have a lot more success but if he is still relevant come the Oympics I will be surprised and impressed. He will certainly not be at the Olympics after that like Federer has been. This loss wasn't on Rafa. It was all about the dominance of the Czech star. He needed an hour to get to 6-2,6-0 and 73 minutes to take the next 7-6[5] after being up 5-1 in the breaker. Ten aces and 46 winners were hit off the Berdych racket. He only hit 21 errors in the demolition. Tomas broke five times and faced four break points. He broke more than he faced break points. This was a slaughter and it was coming. Nadal is broken. Berdych is too physical. Berdych faces Murray next. He must be aggressive and serve big. Play like he did against Nadal and he will be fine.
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ROD LAVER: MURRAY d. KYRGIOS
...The ball is over.



Nick Kyrgios is done. He has inspired us more in this two week period than top twenty players have in their entire careers. He is the breakthrough star of the tournament, but sadly, his ball is over. He has danced his last dance. I think he will go on to win more slams than Murray. He has more power and more weapons. I think he also has more of a champion's quality about him. Kyrgios went out tamely in the end as he lost 6-3,7-6[5],6-3 to the seven time grand slam finalist and two time winner. He just ran out of gas. Murray was too solid hitting 48 winners to 28 errors while the Aussie could only muster a 36-38 record in that area. Murray broke three times to the youngster's once in the match between the past and the future. Murray moves through to another slam semi-final is his illustrious career in two hours and five minutes. Murray has Berdych next in a match where fireworks meet safety inspector. The exciting Czech knows how to beat Murray and he has a great chance of doing so again, but can he go five sets with Murray and win? I think Berdych can win if he plays cleverly and doesn't make silly mistakes both tactically and physically.
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=Any other notes?=
* - Kyrgios is the first teenage to make two slam quarters since Federer and the first Aussie since Hewitt.
* - Makarova. The little engine that could. She is also the little engine that blew my suicide pool to bits by thumping Halep.
* - Shall we do some math? Three American men in the third round of the doubles. None made it through. Isner and Steve Johnson lost in the third round in the singles. I'll give Smyczek a pass. In the mixed, two women lost in the second round. I'll give the American ladies an A* but Venus and Serena are both 33-plus. Once they go, will it still look rosy?
* - Remember when Men's doubles was consistent? With Nadal and Federer going down, followed by the Bryans losing in the third round are we approaching the end of an era?
* - Federer needs to find more slam consistency but he is still certain to be number two. He will be about 4000 ahead of Nadal but 2000 behind Djokovic in the points.
* - Casey Dellacqua and John Peers won, bringing Casey's record here to 4-2. She is guaranteed a positive record at the Australian Open though it is unlikely she will win the mixed. The Australians have landed the top seeds.

Thanx all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

Read more!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Australian Open: The Little Girl Who Grew Up to Be a Starr


Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Venus Ebony Starr Williams is the first African-American woman to rise to number one, emulating Arthur Ashe. There are so many reasons to love Venus. I think Serena has caused controversy before, sometimes through her own fault but usually just because the Tennis Gods decided to experiment with a certain set of sisters. I'm going to do a different kind of introduction today. Are you ready?





With the early years done, she made her first final and it was at the U.S. Open.



In 1998 she made the final of Sydney and then won Oklahoma. Her first major tournament win? It was in Key Biscayne. Oklahoma and Key Biscayne are below. She also has fire but not as much as Serena. I know it was out. She also said, about Serena, that, "if you think I'm good, wait till you see my sister," to which most everyone said, "Yeah, right."





1999 Rome and Oklahoma, again. She won them in 1998-1999. One can never forget how dominant she was from 1997-2003 or so. She and Serena are 21-1 in doubles finals, and they won one in Oklahoma but they faced off for the first time in 1999.





And now to 2000, her biggest year quite possibly.






2001 was more of the same, literally.




2002 was the big year. It blows my mind she reached all those finals, won all those tournaments and yet she only took the top ranking in 2002 and
only for eleven weeks. Ironically, It was also the year Serena took over.






In 2003, the "kind-of year of the Serena Slam," Venus remained relevant. They faced off in four consecutive slam finals but Venus could not stop Serena in any of them. At no other time in tennis history have four individuals faced off in four consecutive finals on either side. Perhaps if she had won that Wimbledon final, after losing from a set up, her career arc would have been different.




In 2004, injuries and a lack of form kept her back. This was the start of the later years. Her loss to Sprem summed up her season. She missed a couple of shots in that second breaker that she would normally have made every single time.



After that she won two more Wimbledons and a few more titles but her career was no longer the same. Since 2010 she has struggled to be relevant, especially after her diagnosis of Sjogren's Syndrome. She was number two in 2010-11. This was a light review of the major moments of her early career. There are entire websites dedicated to her and everything she does. It's not like she's retired, I just felt now was an apt time to look back. And Venus, is she back?




After five years of battling, yes, yes she is. If I had done an in-depth post of her career I would have been here till kingdom come. Todd and I do not much over the off-season, he just switches me off and puts me back in his box. Next time it rolls round we may come back and re-explore her early career.

=Suicide Pick=
Round 1: Venus Williams [D. Torro Flor]; Jerzy Janowicz [d. Moriya]
Round 2: Ka Plíšková [D. Dodin]; Lleyton Hewitt [d. Becker]
Round 3: Agnieszka Radwanska [D. Lepchenko]
Round 4: Eugenie Bouchard [D. Begu]
QF: Simona Halep [D. Makaraova]
Mixed Round 1: Hingis/Paes [D Jovanovic/Thompson]
Mixed Round 2: Dellacqua/Peers [D.Klepac/Guccione]


ROD LAVER: DJOKOVIC d. MULLER
...Nadal dismantled a big server and big hitter yesterday. It was Djokovic's turn. The top three are all experts at dismantling big servers. It is simply because they have all developed rather impressive return games. Djokovic has the best return since Agassi. When Federer brought that chip slice return on the scene in a way nobody had seen before, it looked amazing. Nadal upped it with his neutralizing loopy magic. And now Djokovic has blown them both out of the water by making sure his opponents cannot serve anywhere. There is no safe zone. Muller is a big server and a lefty, too. He went 35-32 in the winners category despite losing 6-4,7-5,7-5. He was only broken three times but Djokovic puts so much pressure on you mentally at crucial times of the match. Djokovic missed just 16 times [or four games] and hit 47 winners. He hit two sets of winners. 44% of the points he won ended in outright winners, 15% ended in error. So he made an error one in seven balls, or about every two games. Sixteen errors in 34 games. It's insane. Raonic will have to hope he has a bad day. An in-form Raonic now awaits like a mine. This is a perfect example of what could happen if Djokovic isn't wary or if he just blinks.

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ROD LAVER: NISHIKORI d. FERRER
...Just over two hours for the 6,3,6-3,6-3 victory. Ferrer was abysmal, Nishikori solid. Ferrer hit 14 winners and 44 errors. In the Lopez/Raonic five setter, Lopez hit 30 errors and his opponent 47. That was five sets. Ferrer imploded and got broken six times. This was awful from a former world number three. It's absolutely inexcusable. And for a fighter like Ferrer to simply fade away is not acceptable in the slightest. Nishikori played well but there are WTA players who could have handled Ferrer over five sets the way he was playing. It might actually harm Nishikori as he isn't battle tested. Up next for Nishikori is Wawrinka. I still think Wawrinka is the favorite but whoever goes through does have a chance of beating Djokovic or Raonic. Djokovic will be looking for revenge.
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MARGARET COURT: WAWRINKA d. GARCIA-LOPEZ
...Some people love the perfect spiral, others the perfect baseball hit and yet others love a crunching hit on the rink. Some think a beautifully struck soccer ball into the top corner of the net is sporting perfection. For me it has to be the one handed backhand hit at pro level. It's just a beautiful piece of artwork.




But anyway, Wawrinka edged a tight match 7-6[2],6-4,4-6,7-6[8] against a very dangerous player. It took the Swiss Star three hours and 120 seconds to get through to quarterfinal number three here. He is 1-1 in the quarterfinals here but 1-0 in semi-final matches. GGL will be at number 33 and, if I were the FFT, I would make sure he is a seed at the French. Wawrinka hit 70 winners in this match but he shouldn't be hitting 61 unforced errors in any match this year especially at this level. It's revenge time for Wawrinka. He can avenge his loss to the Japanese man for his defeat at the U.S. Open. I think he should win but I keep underestimating Nishikori. I do believe Djokovic is beatable, especially under certain conditions. If Djokovic is pushed to five exhausting sets will he lose maybe the slightest of an edge against one of these two? Will that be enough?.
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HISENSE: RAONIC D. LOPEZ
...58 winners and 129 winners. It's a classic from Hisense to finish with today. Sometimes when two big servers meet, there are breaks and it turns into a class not just a duel. This was the case yesterday as Lopez was edged 6-4,4-6,6-3,6-7,6-3 in three and a quarter hours. Lopez won that breaker 9-7. There were four breaks of serve in this, the second best of a very good bunch of fourth round matches. Raonic is so consistent in his play and his results. Sampras did so well partially because his game plan was simple. This is basically Raonic's thinking on his service games:



He hit three double faults. Lopez was always going to be in trouble. Djokovic next for the young Canuck. We know he has the capability and the weapons to oust the world number one. We don’t know if he has the confidence and the belief. I think if this was 2017 he's win comfortably. Now, I think Djokovic takes it.
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=Any other notes?=
* - I like that we've finally had a tournament free of controversy. It's refreshing, especially in this day and age of sports. "Twirlgate" was blown out of proportion, even though it is quite offensive.
* - Venus is world number eleven. She is a hero I think everyone should get behind.
* - Kubler is ahead of Kokkinakis in the rankings. Another Aussie special K.
* - Lopez keeps everything fresh with his creative plays and deceptive power. Can we please see more of him?
* - Vintage Nadal right here.
* - Casey Dellacqua and John Peers play today! She still clings on in the mixed. Let us hope she wins through because then I get to keep this section going and I get to stay alive in the mixed suicide pool.

Thanx all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Australian Open: An Australian Conveyor Belt


Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

A new Aussie superstar is created every decade without fail. Gerald Patterson in the roaring twenties was the first and he was followed by the famous Jack Crawford in the 1930s. After the war, Hoad and Rosewall carried the load all through the fifties, though Rosewall lasted till the '70s. Emerson, Laver and Newcombe dominated the sixties and had some fantastic battles. Newcombe and Rosewall were still strong in the early seventies, though 1976 would be the last time an Australian won a slam until 1987. Cash was a solid top four player and was always around though the eighties were the least dominant decade for the Aussies.

Rafter was world number one [for seven days] and he won two slams in the '90s. Hewitt took up his mantle and was a key part of the ATP tour from 2000 to around 2007. If America fails to win a slam this decade and Australia does, it will be the only country to have had a slam winner in every decade since 2000. One of Kyrgios, Tomic and Kokkinakis will win a slam this decade, probably at Wimbledon or here. I think they have the games and they have the magic to do it.

Kyrgios could be this decade's wonder man for the Australians, though the last is still hanging around.

=Suicide Pick=
Round 1: Venus Williams [D. Torro Flor]; Jerzy Janowicz [d. Moriya]
Round 2: Ka Plíšková [D. Dodin]; Lleyton Hewitt [d. Becker]
Round 3: Agnieszka Radwanska [D. Lepchenko]
Round 4: Eugenie Bouchard [D. Begu]
QF: Simona Halep [D. Makaraova]
Mixed Round 1: Hingis/Paes [D Jovanovic/Thompson]
Mixed Round 2: Dellacqua/Peers [D.Klepac/Guccione]


ROD LAVER: NADAL d. ANDERSON
...Just over two hours needed and it is bye bye, Kevin Anderson. He has really developed strongly as a player and I have a fun table to prove it:



7-5,6-1,6-4 is not the most flattering scoreline and it is also an unfair scoreline for the South African. Nadal was just too consistent. He didn't miss enough, he didn't give Anderson enough time to impose his game and slowly the Spaniard strangled the life out of this one. Anderson can cement his place in the top fifteen with this win. Fifteen is his highest ever ranking. He has points to defend in Delray Beach, in Acupulco and in either Miami or Indian Wells. He has to win a small tournament before his defense begins if he wants to move up the rankings. Berdych, another big server, is up next for Rafa. Rafa should win but, again, if Berdych can make this physical and make it a dog fight then he has a chance. He literally has to serve like Sampras in a bad mood and he has to have no fear of Nadal.
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ROD LAVER: MURRAY d. DIMITROV
...Murray has built a career on being in the right place at the right time. He faced no big seeds in the U.S. Open and Wimbledon tournaments he won until very late. His opponents had him beat but then they choked in both of those events. He has had a lot of good fortune at these tournaments and, yes, he would have been very successful otherwise but that element of luck has really helped him. Dimitrov choked here in the 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 7-5 Murray win. He had chances to win the first set and he also looked strong in the fourth. In the three and a half hour contest Dimitrov was the better player but he lost in four. Murray even hit a dead let cord on match point. Being in Britain is absolutely infuriating if you aren't an Andy Murray fan. The media here truly believe he is a god and frequently refer to him as outright one of the greats. It's one of the things that really irks me the most. This is a guy who won two slams with a lot of luck and has been dominated by Djokovic and Nadal, especially over the past few years. He can't even beat Federer anymore. If he makes the final I may have to move. I don't think I could stand it.
I wouldn’t mind their obsessive coverage, but over here Judy Murray is a "celebrity" and that's not okay. It's just annoying having Murray shoved in one's face all the time. Rant over. Murray has Kyrgios up next and he is playing with house money. Kyrgios is going to come out swinging. This is probably going four.
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MARGARET COURT : BERDYCH d. TOMIC
...It took Berdych less time than Nadal but still just over two hours to get through. Tomic has always struggled with Berdych, especially at the slams too, and he crashed out 6-2, 7-6, 6-2. He got just three points in that breaker. Tomic was a modest 27-25 in the winners category. Berdych hit 17 aces and 52 winners. It is surely impossible to compete against such firepower. Tomic didn't play badly, he was just outclassed. He was powerless to stop the Czech but a second fourth round appearance here in the last four years is encouraging. He looks to be improving and if he could get the 32 seed at Wimbledon, who says he couldn't go far there, too? Berdych is on fire. The best part? Nobody's noticed and so there is no pressure. It's nice work if you can get it. Tomic will be world number 48 after this. He may be seeded for the French. Berdych moves onto Nadal, and I think Tomas is the slight favorite.
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MARGARET COURT: KYRGIOS D. SEPPI
....This might already be point of the year.


But also this:


This wasn't bad:


This is my nomination for match of the year too. 5-7,4-6,6-3,7-6,8-6. An epic comeback from the dead, fantastic points and a crowd hanging onto every single point. This was a match to behold. It even had a funky ending with the ball being challenged after a late overrule. Really, this match was perfect. Nick Kyrgios is for real. He isn't some big server like Voltchkov, who fluked it once. He is the real deal and he is here to stay. This match is one that will go down in history for some time. Frankly, I can't do it justice. Kyrgios is up against Murray next and while that is winnable, it is probably a bridge too far for the talented star. If he wins he may well face Berdych in the final. With a bit of luck and some big serving, we could see Kyrgios in the final.
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=Any other notes?=
* - Has it really been a week? It's funny, the first three days of a slam feel like three years and then the week feels like it goes by so quickly.
* - Nadal looks very good again, but tests await. Berdych is on fire. Nobody has noticed Berdych yet. Why?
* - Kyrgios has now made the quarterfinals at two majors in the past six months. Nadal hasn't done that. Kyrgios, unseen by many, looks headed for a solid top ten career or beyond. So far at slam level he has won 12 matches and lost six. 66% win rate. The ATP titles will come unless he is the ATP's opposite answer to AMG.
* - https://vimeo.com/117470300
* - Casey Dellacqua and John Peers defeated the eighth seeds in the mixed doubles. She is one of the only players to have won a match in each of the disciplines. 1969 Australian Open, 1970 U.S. Open and 1987 U.S. Open. At all those events one player swept three disciplines -- Court twice and Navratilova once. How impressive does that look as time goes on?

Thanx all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Australian Open: The Stealth Swiss


Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

It's time for another slightly shorter post I'm afraid. My hands really are tied now. So yes, a shorter post again but it should be back to how it was before.

=Suicide Pick=
Round 1: Venus Williams [D. Torro Flor]; for the men I had Jerzy Janowicz [d. Moriya]
Round 2: Ka.Plíšková [D. Dodin]; for the men I had Lleyton Hewitt [d. Becker]
Round 3: Agnieszka Radwanska [D. Lepchenko]
Round 4: Eugenie Bouchard [D. Begu]

Don't forget, I picked Hingis in the mixed. They play today.


ROD LAVER: WAWRINKA d. NIEMINEN
...Never before has a defending champion been so quiet and yet so efficient in moving through the draw. He and Raonic could both upend Djokovic and, yet, nobody is talking about either of them. I find this strange. He's the third best player left in the draw by seeding and by form he's now in the top two. He also won here last year and beat quality opposition. Like a shadow he moves ever closer to defending his crown. Vavsy gave the Rod Laver crowd just 109 minutes of his day. He battered the Finn into submission 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. Six breaks of serve to two and 55 winners did the trick nicely. Winning 71% of serves is very good and if he can get it up to about 75-80 he will be nigh on unbeatable. He should also be winning more than just 33% of his receiving points, but winning 1 in 3 is still very good. Up next for Vavsy is GGL in his second ever slam fourth round. He is still in the top forty. He has dropped 33 games and Stan 32. GGL has dropped a set and in that same match his opponent retired. Oh, lest we forget, GGL beat Stan in the first round of the French last year. He made the fourth round of a slam for the first time then. So, revenge or a repeat?
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ROD LAVER: DJOKOVIC d. VERDASCO
...There were only two breaks in the match, but they both went to Djokovic. They were not the knockout blow. The knockout blow occurred when Djokovic took the opening set 10-8 in a breaker. Verdasco didn't crumble, but he lost a little momentum. You can lose a little momentum against the world number 100 but not the world number one.

WINNERS: Player 1 - 43, Player 2 - 38
UNFORCED ERRORS: Player 1 - 24, Player 2 - 50

Guess which player had each total. Yep, you're right. He needed to go for his shots against the Djoker, but perhaps not that much. Verdasco will stay at around thirty but Djokovic marches on. Harder tests are awaiting him. Raonic is lurking and that test will all too soon be upon him. It was a good performance but I'm still not entirely sold. He plays Muller, who upset Agut and Isner, next. The man from Luxembourg is in his first fourth round since that U.S. Open run. He has a big serve so expect a tie-breaker, but this shouldn't be going anywhere near five let alone four.
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MARGARET COURT : LOPEZ d. JANOWICZ
...America used to be a world leader in many things. They have, as have many old world powers, regressed. Not as much as the United Kingdom, very much living off old money, but they have regressed. Russia is not as powerful as it was and nor is China. But politics is very heavy. America has specialized in big servers. They didn't invent it specifically but they have really developed it as a big tactic. The vast majority of their world number ones and American number ones on both sides are or were big servers. Now, however, big servers are to be found every and any place. Janowicz and Lopez are both big servers. Lopez could have been the first man ever to survive three matches in a row where he had been match point down. Well, at least as far back as records go. Lopez won this server's match 7-6, 6-4, 7-6. Lopez only has a breaker career winning percentage of .533. Here is the rest of the data. So a solid win for Lopez and it didn't take him five hours. Things can change. Lopez has now reached the fourth round at least twice at every tournament [six at Wimbledon] except at the French. Ranked 14 in the world, his highest, he plays Raonic in another server's match. I predict tie-breakers but I don't predict a Lopez victory, though he is only just barely the underdog.
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MARGARET COURT: FERRER d. SIMON
...The polar opposites to the big servers are the grinders. The Spaniards and the South American dirtballers are particularly proficient at this. The ones who always have socks covered in red dust. Ferrer outground Simon 6-2, 7-5, 5-7, 7-6. There were 16 breaks in the match, meaning 35% of games ended in a break of service. It's like talking about the WTA. Seven aces in a contest lasting over three hours tells the story perfectly. 138 errors. 36 winners apiece and Ferrer only hit 66 errors, so I suppose he comes out on top in the stats. This was a war and Ferrer won. He won because nobody ever beats Ferrer in a war. It just doesn't happen. Ferrer plays Kei again. Is it just me or are these guys always playing each other?
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=Any other notes?=
* - Davis Cup is coming up soon. I still like Switzerland to do well again, but this time will it be Stan carrying the Swiss.

* - Kevin Anderson is the best player for his continent. Ditto for Kyrgios and Djokovic. Nishikori and Raonic are top of their continents, too. They are all still in. Mayer is not.

* - I see you there, Raonic, moving quietly through the draw. Djokovic/Raonic swiftly approaches. How good is that going to be?

* - Casey Dellacqua is playing tomorrow.

Thanx all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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