Archive for the ‘Roland Garros’ Category

6 Jun 2013

It’s that time again! Predict both men’s semifinals AND the number of sets and look super freaking smart when you get it right! (For the record I don’t do the ladies because they tend to be much easier to predict with only 3 setters). If you’re not in yet, leave your guess in the comments or tweet me @MindTheRacket. Here’s what we have so far!

Nadal in 3, Tsonga in 3 –
Nadal in 3, Tsonga in 4 –
Nadal in 3, Tsonga in 5 –

Nadal in 4, Tsonga in 3 – @Renestance
Nadal in 4, Tsonga in 4 – @PokeyLokey, @rosso_neri
Nadal in 4, Tsonga in 5 – @TennisFanMark24, @marinvall, @sixerfan1220, @4TheTennis, @ohiskaka1990, @ayshaqureshi, @Simontwelliott, @TheMaarja

Nadal in 5, Tsonga in 3 – @JugamosTenis
Nadal in 5, Tsonga in 4 – @MindTheRacket, @Curtos07, @heartsneedabeat
Nadal in 5, Tsonga in 5 –

Djokovic in 3, Tsonga in 3 –
Djokovic in 3, Tsonga in 4 –
Djokovic in 3, Tsonga in 5 –

Djokovic in 4, Tsonga in 3 –
Djokovic in 4, Tsonga in 4 – @Deadchips
Djokovic in 4, Tsonga in 5 – @MichalGradziel, @_Catalina27, @Grunty7

Djokovic in 5, Tsonga in 3 –
Djokovic in 5, Tsonga in 4 – @ITakeTheeTennis
Djokovic in 5, Tsonga in 5 – @vab14

Nadal in 3, Ferrer in 3 –
Nadal in 3, Ferrer in 4 – @CarosWrist, @DebLecker
Nadal in 3, Ferrer in 5 –

Nadal in 4, Ferrer in 3 –
Nadal in 4, Ferrer in 4 – @Stephen_Molloy
Nadal in 4, Ferrer in 5 – @hoksze, @jontownend1, @storacle

Nadal in 5, Ferrer in 3 –
Nadal in 5, Ferrer in 4 –
Nadal in 5, Ferrer in 5 –

Djokovic in 3, Ferrer in 3 –
Djokovic in 3, Ferrer in 4 –
Djokovic in 3, Ferrer in 5 –

Djokovic in 4, Ferrer in 3 –
Djokovic in 4, Ferrer in 4 – @artincircles, @seemsuncertain
Djokovic in 4, Ferrer in 5 – @anna_tennisfan

Djokovic in 5, Ferrer in 3 –
Djokovic in 5, Ferrer in 4 – @JamieNDRawling, @EMBuddy
Djokovic in 5, Ferrer in 5 –

3 Jun 2013

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This week we talk the success of Tommys, American ladies, the stupidity of taking pictures of line calls and other things we noticed from the first four rounds of Roland Garros. There was no previewing done, so don’t worry about this being out of date!

Remember to subscribe to us on iTunes (it comes right to your telephone! Technology!) If you like it, give us a rating and even a review and we will love you forever. Also, check out the always great The Changeover and all of its lovely members: @linzsports, @juanjo_sports and @AmyFetherolf .

25 May 2013

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The Changeover Trident and myself do a quarter by quarter breakdown of both the men’s and ladies’ draws of Roland Garros. Predictions, laughs and some other goofy things you might not have noticed.

Remember to subscribe to us on iTunes (it comes right to your telephone! Technology!) If you like it, give us a rating and even a review and we will love you forever. Also, check out the always great The Changeover and all of its lovely members: @linzsports, @juanjo_sports and @AmyFetherolf .

12 Jun 2012

Originally posted to TennisBloggers.com. You can follow the feed at @TennisBloggers to get all the updates to your Twitter timeline.

Another spring and another fantastic Rolland Garros is finished. It took an extra day, but it was a dramatic couple of weeks that saw two worthy champions rise to the top of the red clay heap.

It was an emotional victory for Maria Sharapova, as she became the first ever woman to complete the career slam (all four major titles) having only won one each time. This was her first major title since the 2008 Australian Open, and major shoulder surgery. Making it even more special is that clay has hardly been her best surface in her career, and Sharapova herself has called herself a “cow on ice” while playing on the surface. With improved serving has come great confidence. Her ability to continually hit through heavier conditions overwhelmed all seven of her opponents. Sharapova returns to the number 1 ranking with the victory in Paris. Overall, it is a fantastic moment for the WTA to have such a wonderful ambassador back and winning, as humble and powerful as ever.

While it was a familiar story on the men’s side, Rafael Nadal made history winning his seventh Roland Garros title on Monday, after the final was delayed due to rain. Nadal has played Djokovic in the past four grand slam finals, and was finally able to overcome him, losing the past three meetings. This is also the third time he has prevented someone from holding all four major titles at one time, as well as Novak Djokovic’s own “career slam”. With the record, he breaks Bjorn Borg’s record for six Roland Garros title, and earns the name “King of Clay” without a shred of doubt. Nadal has still only lost once at Roland Garros. This bumps his all time grand slam championships to 11, five behind Federer’s record of 16.

Special note needs to be made of some of the players who pushed on deep into the tournament. Sara Errani had a career tournament, making the final and upsetting three different grand slam winners on the way, and also won the doubles championship with partner and friend Roberta Vinci.

Were David Ferrer born in a different generation, he may have been a Roland Garros champion. Possibly a multiple time champion. His intense concentration, amazing defense and excellent movement and fitness is incredibly impressive. As much as there can be made for Nadal playing “every point like it is his last”, he can still have moments of lapsed concentration, or questionable tactics. It is so incredibly rare to see Ferrer go on a walk about. It could be late in the fifth set, and he looks nearly identical to the beginning of the first set. It’s truly impressive, and the fact that all tennis fans can look on in admiration says a lot about his character and skill.

WTA Surprise of the Week: Sloane Stephens
Only just recently turned 19, this young American is a player to watch. Power is an incredible asset on the WTA tour, and it was this power and confidence on the clay that helped her reach an incredible fourth round of Roland Garros. Junior results are rarely meaningful, and power players can take more time to develop as they continue to grow. Sloane Stephens has to be one to watch for the future as her ranking rises and she continues to improve her timing. She plays a very different style compared to compatriot Christina McHale, and I’ve said it before, I hope to see both young Americans and both young Brits Laura Robson and Heather Watson continue to grow and take the WTA and top 20 by storm over the next several years.

ATP Surprise of the Week: David Goffin
A lucky loser is a player who is defeated in the final round of qualifying, but randomly makes it into the main draw due to a late withdrawl from another player. David Goffin went from lucky loser to lucky winner, as he turned a final round qualifying loss into a fourth round loss to Roger Federer. The coming out party for the young Belgian might just give him the confidence and ranking boost to continue causing surprise damage on slower surfaces. A fantastic story.

8 Jun 2012

Originally posted at TennisBloggers.com I typically write Week Reviews and other fun stuff over there. There are tons of excellent articles by many other fantastic writers there as well, so make sure to read. Follow along at @TennisBloggers

The headlines have already been written. Sharapova returns to the number 1 ranking after moving into the Roland Garros final, the one major title she has yet to win. In a sense, the headlines have already been written. A career slam and the number one ranking has a chance to put a book end on wild era of the WTA where players can be slam champions one week and footnotes of a draw the next. In a time when major WTA icons fade away and retire, Sharapova, still young, remains a figure of stability and dominance.

These headlines may very well be written.

Ask Ivanovic, Kuznetsova and Stosur about headlines.

Sometimes players only get one chance at their ultimate dream. Who knows what the future holds for Sara Errani, but this may be the only chance she gets. Sharapova will be the overwhelming favourite, and the spotlight will be on her for the 2012 edition of the Roland Garros final. She has come in the favourite to her past two major finals, 2011 Wimbledon and 2012 Australian Open, but was overwhelmed by big hitting Kvitova and Azarenka who looked completely unfazed as all eyes were on them.

This will give Errani hope. She has continually flown under the radar, beating three slam winners on the way (two of them having won Roland Garros) and hitting her stride at the right time. For me, she has looked less like the scrambler of old, and more a figure of consistency. I have made several allusions to Ferrer through out the week, and I stand by them. She might not have the supreme focus of Ferrer, but she is not far off. She makes incredibly smart, high percentage shots. Instead of simply getting back the ball and outlasting the opponent, she has used the surface to her advantage to push opponents off balance, and then take the necessary time it requires to finish off points. She has also alluded to a new, longer length racquet, which she feels has helped her compete at a higher level. Watching her push balls deep and go toe to toe with big hitters, it is hard not to agree.

Regardless, Sharapova must remain the overwhelming favourite. With a revamped and now effective serve she has found her confidence. With confidence has come movement, and with movement has come an increasingly impressive power game that is effective on all surfaces, even clay. She has at times ground opponents into a pulp, and the ability to use a vintage big serve and massive forehand follow up have left opponents struggling for answers.

Sharapova’s strategy will likely be the exact same as it has been all week. Crush the serve, follow it up, and push out wide to throw opponents off while moving forward with necessary. This should and will work well. Sharapova will need to continue her serving consistency, where much of her overall consistency stems from. When she is comfortable on serve, she is able to really go for it on the return, where she is particularly dangerous. With the number 1 ranking already secured, there is a real possibility that Sharapova will shrug off the pressure and run away with this final. At the same time, if the confidence and the serve go, Errani will be more than ready to pounce.

Patience is key for Errani. She has played some big hitters, but no one quite as devastating and flat as Sharapova so far. With the pressure on, Errani must find herself on serve some 6 games in. 3-3 in the first set would be a massive win for Errani. From there she must try to push Sharapova off balance and use her craft. Simply returning under the pressure of the moment will not be enough. Slices, drop shots, and fearless defense will take things to the next level and combat the overwhelming power of Sharapova. Errani is naturally the underdog, style wise, but with some doubt in Sharapova’s mind, she has a legitimate chance of dragging this match out and becoming the second Italian champion of this tournament in three years. It has to be said, it would be one of the most surprising major titles we have ever seen in the Open Era, both on the men’s and women’s side.

Two completely different storylines and two completely different styles. Enjoy the final, everyone.

7 Jun 2012

A shoulder surgery, patience, and a lot of tournaments later and Maria Sharapova has returned to the top. She’s reached the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals, but how fitting might it be that she could win her first slam title in years, and it would be the only one she has yet to win in her career.

The largest obstacle on Sharapova’s comeback has been her serve. Shoulder surgery forced her to relearn the shot and with such a high ball toss, it was often a struggle just to get it over the net. Combined with the fact that Sharapova is not the most natural athlete in the world and does not have amazing movement, players were able to return well and force her off balance from the word go. Power players need their serve to be solid so they can follow up off the serve and take control of the points. For Sharapova it was often more like volleyball, and she was tossed into a defensive, retrieving state on serve. Her matches tended to be highly erratic as she would go through spells of struggling on serve. Damaging her overall confidence, momentum could swing wildly.

In my opinion, Sharapova’s improved serve has made all of the difference. On serve, she is not only cutting out double faults but pummeling the ball on the first serve. This often allows her to move into the court to hit her trademark shot after the serve in which the opponent is sent scrambling. With pressure off of her on serve, she can go for it on the return. It sounds fluffy, but the large strings of dumbfounding, bonehead errors (which may also have been due to the shoulder injury) are largely gone and Sharapova has become a figure of powerful consistency, regardless of surface.

The tour has desperately missed her. Most fans tend to love her determination, and those who don’t fall on the side of those of her biggest rivals (Serena, Vika). Though she has been around since the ripe age of 17, Sharapova is not a figure of a generation gone by (Williams sisters, Clijsters, Henin) and is a player who can continue to carry the tour to bigger things, hopefully inspiring a(n Azarenka) rivalry or two on the way.

A footnote needs to be made about Petra Kvitova, who lost to Sharapova in the semifinals. We shouldn’t be panicking quite yet, but as we’ve seen with players in the past, results can be inflated by one big slam final or victory. In other words, a high ranking can help a player skip by a lot of challenges and narrowly defeat players they should be destroying, much like Kvitova. I wouldn’t say that Petra is much of a natural athlete or mover, but her ball striking and power is quite immense. That being said, there are some serious timing issues that need to be addressed, and soon. She will likely power her way through her first several rounds of Wimbledon, but if she comes up against a crafty player who can absorb pace and take advantage of the low bounces of grass, watch out.

2 Jun 2012

- The bottom halves of the draws are sorted, and with only 16 players left in each draw, we have a pretty clear idea of how the second week may play out.

- The Murray/Gasquet match will be a must watch affair. Murray has come back from a 2 set defecit twice against Gasquet before, one at Wimbledon and once at Roland Garros two years ago. However, Gasquet beat Murray this year in Rome and the two have a split head to head, 3-3. They match up quite well and the two of them sure love some self depricating drama.

- At this point, Nadal is in the final. The remaining seven men in his half are the exact type of player he loves to feast on. Even Ferrer, who might otherwise have a shot, won’t survive five tough sets on clay, and will be ground into dust.

- A tough loss for Raonic today in five sets, but his inability to break Monaco was his undoing. Regardless, he put in a good effort and a third round showing is not terrible at all. He appears to be moving quite well, which is good. Again, believe the hype when it comes to this summer. A big upset is coming.

- With a string of upsets, the ladies’ draw seems destined for some big time quarterfinal matches in which the remaining eight players all have a legitimate chance at the title. The difference this time is that the big names that you expect to see (minus Serena) are still around and largely playing very well.

- It appears that Petra Kvitova is indeed healthy and on a crash course to play defending champion Na Li. I prefer Nails in that match-up, but the winner likely plays Sharapova in the semfinal. Yum. Once again, an absolute show in brute power and baseline rallying on clay.

- Another tournament, another disappointment for Caroline Wozniacki. Clay has never been her best surface, but more and more she looks like she was largely a stop gap number 1, and the best “non-loser”. With players such as Azarenka, Sharapova, Kvitova and Li Na crushing forehands and taking major titles, it looks like the Dane may never make a return to the top.

- Bizarre scenes as Julia Goerges goes down in flames against Arantxa Rus. A lot of gamesmanship, a lot of complaining, and even an “f$#% you” tossed towards, allegedly, a Dutch fan. However, her largest frustration was that they were still playing as it got dark, and it is difficult to disagree. The match continued on long after many other matches might and have been called. Surely if we are going to load up courts with matches after rain delays and NOT have lights to extend play, a time should be decided on where play must stop. Get it together, Roland Garros. And by that, I mean buy some lights.

1 Jun 2012

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga engages rocket thruster shoes after advancing to the fourth round

- Things are starting to shape up in the men’s draw as we head towards a remaining 16. The top half is down to 8, and looks like it will feature a semifinal of Djokovic and Federer, os possibly Del Potro/Berdych

- Tsonga recently said that he thinks he has the best chance of winning Wimbledon out of all four slams. I’ve always seen Jo as a complete player who isn’t too sure exactly what he wants to be. This is clear that Jo thinks he’s a power player, likes quick points, and likes to use his back to front movement to the net to his advantage. Interesting stuff.

- Once again, Del Potro impresses on clay. He was returning from the stands today versus Cilic, but repeatedly got it beyond the opposite service line while quickly getting up to the baseline. He has excellent defense and is willing to be patient on clay. I’m really hoping to see a Fed/Delpo quarterfinal.

- Is there anyone who can stop a Djokovic/Nadal final? Barring some sort of epic collapse or superhero performance, the answer has to be no.

- Likewise, the top half of the ladies side of things is down to 8. The bottom part of this half is most interesting, and looks likely to feature a Kuznetsova/Kerber quarterfinal.

- Just when you least expect it, Kuznetsova is back and kicking ass again, demolishing Radwanska 1 and 2. She clearly loves Paris, and has to be a contender to make the final.

- After times of insecurity, it appears that brute force may be making its way back to the top of the women’s game. Azarenka, Stephens, Stosur, Kuz and Kerber all tear the ball up and all remain in the top half.

- Speaking of which, how about Sloane Stephens? One to watch, no doubt. With very different styles of play, her and Christina McHale are players to watch for the future. I’d love to eventually see a bit of a friendly rivalry between the two Americans and two up and coming Brits, Watson and Robson. Early days, however.

- I penned in Stosur for the final in my ladies draw preview, and I’m sticking with it. She’s finding a lot of success, looks confident, and is largely avoiding the big stages and big names, just like she would like it. I think her ability to play more of an all court game as well as mix and deal with power should throw off the baseline heavy Azarenka, in which Stosur becomes the automatic favourite for the title. Watch out.

27 May 2012

- Are Andy Roddick’s days numbered? I know he was likely only playing RG because he owed Lacoste a favour, but Roddick looks increasingly like a man frustrated. This grass and hard court swing will be important for him. Many seem to think he will slog it out on the outer courts of America (ala James Blake) due to his love of the US Open, but I tend to agree. Careers fall fast in tennis, and Roddick has high, top 10 expectations of himself. Time will tell, but I still see next year’s US Open as his last.

- I only saw the highlights, but Del Potro continues to be a massive dark horse and underdog on clay. Delpo is part of a select few of power players (Soderling and Stosur come to mind) who tend to do well on clay. The extra time allows them to set up and continually drive the ball deep. It is relentless, and wears opponents down quickly, particularly of they are not natural defenders or clay specialists. Five sets further helps his cause, as his ability to drive shots deep rarely diminishes. There has been a little made of his knee problem, but he moved very well and confidently despite popping some pills on the changeover.

- Does Sorana Cirstea have a chance against Li Na tomorrow? No, really. Both players are a habit of close matches, for both good and bad. Likewise, both tend to have difficulty holding on to leads. Sorana’s game matches up very well against power players, and is very comfortable absorbing power, particularly while on the run. Much like her upset of Stosur in Australia, it is a match she will be up for, and her willingness to go for shots against big opponents may unsettle Nails. Don’t count the Romanian out.

- Speaking of which, no one is talking about Samantha Stosur… so it’s probably time to keep an eye out for Samantha Stosur.

- The more I think about it, the more I think the draw may keep Maria from her first Roland Garros title. A match against Serena in the quarters is very likely, and despite the improvements to her clay game and overall game, she might not have what it takes.

- Thinking of doing a live blog for those who are at work and have Twitter hacked off, or just want a more concise update or a bit of fun. Thoughts? Might start as early as tomorrow.

- Good to be back on the blogging train. Many posts coming this week, keep an eye out and spread the word! Cheers.

26 May 2012

French Open Stadium

Official Site: Here
Mens’ Draw: Here
Ladies’ Preview Here

Djokovic’s Quarter, Top Half – It can never be intentional, but the top seed always seems to get an excellent path to the quarterfinal, and it has to be said that Djokovic’s first four matches will have to be nearly painfully straightforward. Only Melzer or Davydenko could even have him breaking sweat in the first three matches, and will never last for five sets. Verdasco is a potential fourth round match up, however it remains to be seen whether or not the Spaniard will make it that far, and he surely will not have what it takes to outlast the Djoker.

Likewise, the other side of the quarter sees fan and French favourite Tsonga with confidence boosting first four matches. He would likely get Simon or Wawrinka (how’s that for a third rounder, by the way) and should be able to handle either of those if he can keep his brain together. This should be a largely straight forward and upset free quarter.

Predicted Quarterfinal: Djokovic vs. Tsonga

Federer’s Quarter, Top Half – Things are far less straight forward for Federer, as it is immediately obvious that Nalbandian in the second round is a serious landmine that all tennis fans should be aware of and be looking forward to. It should be one of the first displays of world class tennis that will deserve every eye ball it gets. I don’t think Nalby will have what it takes, but he may push Fed to the limits of his game.

The other half of the draw seems destined for a Berdych/Delpo showdown. Before his US Open win and eventual injury, Delpo pushed Fed to five sets and nearly won. He has some of the most underrated defense on the tour, and his ability to consistently drive the ball deep and find the angles and big shots to finish points means that he is a considerable clay opponent for a big man. Regardless, Berdych, an insanely streaky player, is finding his groove and will feel he has a legitimate chance at Fed in the quarterfinals. A tough one to call.

Predicted Quarterfinal: Federer vs. Berdych

Murray’s Quarterfinal, Bottom Half – In a mirror reflection of the ladies’ draw, the third quarter offers up many more questions then it answers. Ferrer and Murray are the favourites to make the quarters, but many names, including many who have found recent success on clay, may toss things slightly out of position.

Isner could wait for Ferrer, a match-up that does not suit the Spaniard, though clay will give him an obvious advantage. Murray could meet Dolgopolov, and yes, Richard Gasquet. If memory serves correctly, Murray has come back down two sets to love TWICE to the Frenchman at Roland Garros. Always an intriguing match (though, when isn’t it with Murray on clay?). Perhaps the most difficult quarter to call.

Predicted Quarterfinal: Ferrer vs. Gasquet

Nadal’s Quarter, Bottom Half – Sven himself could not have drawn up a better draw for Nadal. Pico in the fourth round and Tipsarevic in the quarters is heavenly for the Spaniard. Both players who play a defensive, grind style. In other words, a lesser attempt at what Nadal plays, and a style Nadal routinely feasts on. Easy.

The only other real threat, Nico Almagro, is on Tipsarevic’s half of the quarter, and a player Nadal can easily outlast over five sets.

Beyond that, Nadal could easily take a Ferrer, Murray or Gasquet and grind them into a pulp in the semis. Again, these are not power players who push the ball deep or serve big on clay. They are players whose games match up perfectly for Nadal on clay. No Soderlings, no Isners, no Delpos. If you are a Rafanatic, give a prayer to the tennis gods before bed.

Predicted Quarterfinal: Nadal vs. Almagro

Predicted Semifinals: Djokvoic vs. Federer, Nadal vs. Ferrer
Predicted Final: Djokovic vs. Nadal
Champion: Nadal

The Changeover Podcast:

Episode #56 – Indian Wells Wrap