By sachs on Jun 29, 2010 | In tennis
If you can't be arsed with the first week of a major, this is for you. Cause Week Two is here and its time to get a little Wimblenutty. What makes a tournament great: at least three serious contenders. A massive breakthrough or two. Something special, somewhere, some way. And of course, some great tennis.
The men's side has it all. Right now, Rafa, Roger, Murray and Soderling, you could pick any of these pretty legitimately, and you've got strong dark horses in Tsonga, Djoker, and Berdych. Then there's Lu! Lu who? Exactly. Lu, #82 or so in the world,, first ever Taiwanese anywhere near this far in a Slam, and beater of Andy Roddick. Lu. Who knew?
I said in the early rounds, that if Roger and Rafa progressed, plus one other contender, we'd have some real tension growing. And just about all the potential candidates are doing their jobs. I had mentioned Hewitt and Querrey as possible dark horses too, but they were knocked out by Djokovic and Murray respectively. In other words, this is as good as it could get. Well, Roddick could have been here, but then where would Lu be? So seven of the final eight are stars I picked before the tournament. That makes for a great final week!
Then there was the 11 hour Isner-Mahur match, with a fifth set longer than the previous longest match ever. What was it, 70-68 in the fifth? Best line on Letterman's Top Ten as read by sudden celeb John Isner: “We’ve been playing so long, I’ve forgotten — am I Isner or Mahut?”
All through it, we've had some brilliant tennis from Soderling perhaps overall, but Murra, Rafa and Roger at times too.
On the women's side, upsets have been the order of the week. Venus, OUT, Clisters, OUT. Only Serena and that crazy chick remain among the big names. Serena looks awesome, and she gets some total no name in the semis.
Fed v Berdych: Berdy was one of those picked as the "next Fed" a few years back. Huge talent, huge big hitting game. Never lived up to his potential, lots of mental breakdowns. Until this year. He beat Fed in a thriller a couple months ago, and made the semis of the French. So this should be a great match.
Djokovic vs Lu: Well, who knows?
Murray vs Tsonga: the defensive master against an all out offense machine. If Tsonga has his best day, he wins. If he is less than perfect, he loses.
Nadal vs Soderling: A similar dynamic to Murray/Tsonga. If Soderling makes his serves and hits his lines he has the power to blow Nadal off the court, and the height to be untroubled by Nadal's high bounces. Look for Nadal to be more aggressive than usual, going for winners, to counter Sod's power. They also have a great history: in '07 they fought a brilliant 5 setter here that included a Sod mimmicking of Nadal's ass picking and time wasting. It was not well received. Then last year, The Sod knocked Rafa out of the French, for Rafa's first ever loss there. This year, Rafa demolished Soda Pop in the French Finals.
This is your match of the day!
Great tournament, this Wimbledon. Great tennis-ball game.
By sachs on Jun 22, 2010 | In tennis
Some quick notes:
Things are looking exciting. The secondary characters- the Roddicks, Murrays, Soderlings are looking good (actually, there's only one of each of them). I'm hoping that Berdych, Hewitt and Djoker can also step their games up,perhaps Tsonga or Querry too. Actually, even one of them would make this more interesting, but as it is, we have got one legit threat on Fed's path in Roddick, and two in Nadal's way in Murray and Soderling. I like this mix of characters, lots of different styles, nationalities, personalities. Great tennis jambalaya.
First round casualties: Stan Wawrinka, Francesca Shciavone (French Open women's cinderella).
Major scares: Fed, Djokovic, Davydenko
Beat Downs: Nadal, Murray, Soderling, Roddick
By sachs on Sep 17, 2009 | In tennis
Definitely shaping up to be an exciting year next year. I think people are writing off Andy Murray to quickly, probably in part because he’s so unlikeable that people WANT him to go away. But just because DelPo has added himself to the contenders mix doesn’t mean that Murray’s been dropped out of it. Murray is nothing if not ambitious, and I think he’s going to work hard as ever to get to the top of that mountain.
Personally, I think if anyone is dropping out of the contenders mix its Djokovic. I would love to be wrong, but with Rog handling him so easily in their last two contests, we know how that match-up will go. So the question will be: can Djoke stand up to Nadal, Murray and DelPo? That will be one of the big questions in 2010.
I also don’t think DelPo’s defeat of ROger makes him a favourite against ROg next time. Roger is going to, again, be VERY strong at the Slams next year. One thing I’ve noticed going wrong for Rog lately is that he is tending to lose his offensive game as the match wears on. If you noticed, in the finals and his over-long win against Soderling, Rog started gangbusters, but his style was very aggressive- coming to the net and going for winners in the first set. In both cases, Rog then moved into baseline, defensive mode in the 2nd, and from there things became much tougher. When Rog was first dominating, he was one of the great thinkers on court, adapting as he tested out his opponents. I think he has really lost this trait.
I expect Nadal to be a dominant force again in 2010, but I do think DelPo is his kryptonite. 3-0 in 2009 against Nadal, DelPo is just perfectly built to defeat Nadal’s strengths. The same high bouncing shots to the backhand that make Nadal tough for Fed make him easy pickings for DelPo. So there’s a matchup problem there.
Conversely, I was disappointed that Rog didn't play more to DelPo's weaknesses. One of Roger's strengths has always been his ability to wrong-foot players, especially less nimble ones, with camouflage and spin. He really didn't use that against DelPo, and I think this opens a little hope into what more he can do. He only used his drop shot a couple times, and from bad positions. Sometimes, as with Murray, it can take Rog a while to figure an opponent out, but he often does. I think he's really made up his mind on how to play Rafa as well (ie offense, offense, offense)
Aside from these guys, I believe Roddick can contend on the fast courts still, but I personally believe Tsonga has reached his upper limit. I just don’t see that much more upside there. On the other hand, Monfils MAY yet be the next one to challenge the elite.
IS there anyone else coming up that we can imagine challenging the top four or five? Maybe Soderling. I don’t really see anyone else. So the field is certainly not open wide yet, despite the crack that DelPo has put in it. But one thing we’ve seen this year is that storylines change fast!
The fact remains that, as the 1 and 2 seeds, we may very well see a few more Fedal finals next year.