Monday, June 29, 2009
Tsonga: "Nothing. Nothing. What I can say? He served well, and that's it. That's the only thing I can tell."
How about your own level today? Are you happy with the way you played?
Tsonga: "I didn't play, so... I don't have to be happy or not. I don't play, that's it."
"I didn't play. He served well, and that's it."
-- World number 9, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, speaks after losing a tight 4-setter against Ivo Karlovic, who served his way past the Frenchman for a spot in the 4th round.
"If I can win with only one shot, I don't know, I'm a genius."
-- Croatian giant and Wimbledon's 22nd seed, Ivo Karlovic, talks about his lethal and possibly sole weapon, his serve.
All I can say is that my Wimbledon wish list now includes Fernando Verdasco gaining sudden super returning powers so he can hit back those Karlovic cannon balls in their 4th round match on Monday, because that guy is just unbelievable. How long do you think Karlovic can keep up that serving?
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
No. 21 seed, and 2-time Wimbly quarterfinalist, Feliciano Lopez fell to lucky loser, Karol Beck in 5 sets, 10-8 in the fifth
Last week's Eastbourne champion, and Wimbledon's 25th seed, Dmitry Tursunov retired from the third set (was trailing 2 sets to love) of his match against Mischa Zverev
Jeremy Chardy falls to the ground during a rally with Andy Roddick on Tuesday
Julien Benneteau suffers an injury after slipping during his match against Novak Djokovic
Those truly tested
Halle champion, and 24th seed, Tommy Haas, came through in 4 tight sets against Alexander Peya
Hot second round matches
Andy Murray  vs Ernests Gulbis
Juan Martin Del Potro  vs Lleyton Hewitt
Tomas Berdych  vs Paul-Henri Mathieu
Marin Cilic  vs Sam Querrey
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  vs Simone Bolelli
How many aces do you think Ivo Karlovic can hit in his next match?
Okay I know this is silly, but the giant Croat really blows my mind with his ability to keep knocking down those aces. He hit 55 aces in one match at the French Open a few weeks back and despite losing that match, he remained at the top of the aces leader list until the semis. Karlovic hit 32 aces during his 1st round match at Wimbledon against Lukas Lacko and next faces Steve Darcis. So just for the hell of it, how many aces do you think he can hit in his next match?
The former world number 1, who reached the semis at SW19 last year for the first time, had announced earlier this year that this season will be his last and he assured everyone after his match on Tuesday, that he is leaving the tournament a very relieved and satisfied man.
"Is this really it, you and Wimbledon?
How do you feel?
Safin: Relieved. Pretty much relieved (smiling).
The temperamental Russian, known for his on-court outbursts and off-court remarks, did not depart the grounds without leaving behind a trademark Safin presser comment:
"Second serve he made an unbelievable pickup volley ‑ unbelievable. So I couldn't expect that coming on a breakpoint in a crucial moment of the match... Because after that the match would go completely the other direction. And also thanks for the guy who made the call. I want to say hello to him. Too bad that he was a little bit too blind today. But anyway, that's tennis. That's tiebreak."
The 29-year-old has had a rollercoaster career where he won the US Open and the Australian Open almost 5 years apart, coping with injuries along the way. Safin however insisted that he has no regrets and has accepted the ups and downs of his tennis career, focusing more on his achievements than his disappointments.
"And be in a semifinal in all four Grand Slams, I think there's not so many of us. Nalbandian, me. I think Hewitt didn't even make it. Roddick. So it makes it special. But thanks to Wimbledon I have this achievement."
"I should probably have won a couple of more, but I'm pretty satisfied with what I did."
Despite Safin's statements during his post-match presser, about how he has no regrets, I can't help but feel some bitterness underneath. Actually that's how he has sounded throughout the season so far. I find his approach towards his very last tennis season very odd. He claims he wants to just have fun, play the events he will miss the most, and with no pressure, yet he has failed to win 2 straight matches since his 3rd round showing at the Australian Open earlier this year. He has let 2 set leads slip away, has lost to opponents he could have easily beaten, and his attitude after his matches always made him look like he doesn't care.
It's true that he is currently at number 24 in the rankings, which is not so bad, but that is only thanks to the 900 points he has from his semifinal showing at Wimbledon last year; points that he will lose after the tournament ends. And the sad part is, Safin did not make use of his ranking which had him seeded in the Grand Slams, and he couldn't make it far in any of his draws, even the ones that seemed fairly reasonable.
His comments during the year about how routine the tennis life is, and how he wanted to retire this year but his career plans have been postponed for 1 more year, are making him sound like he does not value the game, although am sure he does. But it's sad for the fans to see how eager he is to leave this life behind him.
As a true Safin fan, I am urging myself to accept the fact that he is willing to move on and that does not mean he has no love for the game. He just no longer has the passion to win, nor the motivation to help him endure the routine, the practice and all the hard work required from any tennis professional. What we love most about Marat is how unique he is, and despite the inconsistency and the disappointments, we also appreciate how unpredictable he can be.
I think I will choose to ignore this Safin farewell season, and just remember everything incredible he has brought to the game, from his 2000 US Open victory over Pete Sampras, to his epic 2005 Australia Open, where he knocked out Federer and Hewitt to win the title, and finally his surprise run to the 2008 Wimbledon semis, where he toppled Djokovic along the way. Unless something drastic changes for the rest of this season on the Safin front, I shall choose to forget this season ever happened in Marat's career. If he is bidding the circuit goodbye a relieved and satisfied man, then I shall follow the same approach to his retirement. It's just healthier that way, don't you think?!
Monday, June 22, 2009
"It's funny, I actually didn't even think about it I didn't have a grass court match yet this year. It's something I completely forgot about. I just felt good in practice the last few days.
I had some good practice matches, you know, with Safin and Youzhny and Wawrinka. Some good quality players. I felt like I was, you know, in good shape for my first round. That's what I remembered, not if I did play a tournament or not before.
But actually I'm very happy with my first round. I thought it was a very solid performance, because that's what it took today against Lu."
-- World number 2, Roger Federer, on how he felt during his first round match, despite not playing any matches on grass prior to Wimbledon.
Well apparently if you've won the tournament 5 times, and reached the final once, you don't really need to stress over getting match play before Wimbledon. The Swiss opened his campaign at the All England Club and his quest for the number 1 ranking, with a solid straight sets win over Yen-Hsun Lu.
Federer, who committed only 10 unforced errors throughout the match, beat the Chinese from Taipei 7-5, 6-3, 6-2, in his first match on grass this season.
Next up for Federer is Eastbourne's semifinalist, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Okay am sure being in Wimbledon for the first time and not being able to watch Rafa defend his title sucks the most, I could barely find anything that actually sucks more, but still… it’s been barely 2 days since Rafa announced his withdrawal and am already sick of the snarky comments.
Call me deluded, optimistic or whatever floats your boat, but I think that even if Rafa loses the number 1 spot to Roger Federer by the end of Wimbledon (which let’s face it is highly likely since Federer is possibly the strongest contender for the title), and even though he said he doesn’t know when he’ll be back, something tells me he will come back stronger than ever and could compete for the US Open title. Who knows, maybe this is the year Rafa fails to defend Roland Garros and Wimbledon, but captures the 2 remaining Slams to complete a career Slam.
The thing is, this isn’t the first time Rafa has had to miss a Slam cuz of his knees. It’s true that when he missed the Australian Open in 2006 he wasn’t the defending champion and the circumstances were different, but the injury then, seemed way more serious than it is this time. In 2006, he stormed back and beat Federer in Dubai, before he had a perfect clay sweep winning Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros. Nadal has proven that he is capable of bouncing back and missing Wimbledon is disappointing yet not the end of the world. With a good recovery plan and enough time to rest, the Spaniard can be up and running by Montreal or Cincy.
Angel Ruiz Cotorro, one of Rafa’s doctors, told Marca radio on Saturday that Rafa can be back at 100% within 3 to 4 weeks. The Rogers Cup starts August 8th, which means there’s plenty of time to recover.
Here's a video from Nadal's press conference announcing his withdrawal:
Thursday, June 18, 2009
"I have been very impressed with him this year... I was really impressed with his clay-court season and coming off that, he feels strong and played well again last week at Queens. Right now, he probably feels very, very confident. He can handle the pressure."
Tim Henman also stated his views on the matter by saying:
"I watched Andy at Queen's and what impressed me most was how routine his performance was... It is always a very good field and he only dropped his serve twice the whole week.
"He was a class apart, and it was such a great platform for him going into Wimbledon. His game looks very comfortable. There is every possibility he can win it with the way his game has developed in the last 12 months."
I must say I am concerned about all this hype surrounding Murray ahead of Wimbledon. The Brits have a way with creating a buzz around their stars and in the process, the pressure builds up and they end up cracking. Okay, I don't really blame them considering they haven't had a Wimbledon champion in over 70 years, but for the kid's sake, they should try and tone it down a notch (they've written a song for him for crying out loud).
The last time this big of a fuss was made about the Scot was right before the Australian Open, when many people tipped Murray as the favorite considering his record and solid form heading into the first Slam of the year, but look what happened there?!?! He lost in the fourth round to Fernando Verdasco!! I know I said before Queen's that I believe Murray has a great chance on grass this season, but he is certainly not a clear favorite nor should he be favored ahead of Federer or Rafa.
Here's an interview the Telegraph had with Murray discussing his chances at Wimbledon this year:
World number one and Wimbledon's top seed this year, Rafael Nadal, has hit the practice courts at the All England Club on Tuesday and has announced his participation in two exhibition matches against Lleyton Hewitt and Stanislas Wawrinka, at the Hurlingham Club on Thursday, hoping to test his injured knee before making the final decision on whether he can play Wimbledon or not.
Nadal's verdict on the knees after his practice on Tuesday was : "Not perfect, but OK."
The reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion also had a practice session with British hope, Andy Murray, on Wednesday after which Murray said that "Rafa was hitting the ball well."
Am sure all Rafa fans are crossing their fingers like myself. Lets hope we hear good news after the exos.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The former world number one, who will be playing the last Wimbledon of his career after announcing his impending retirement earlier this year, has little over 10 days to recover in time for the third Slam of the year, where he has a tough task ahead of him if he plans on defending his semifinal points.
The tournament's 7th seed has been replaced by lucky loser Rik de Voest of South Africa, who received automatic entry into the second round, since Safin had a 1st round bye. This whole lucky loser skipping the first round thing is an advantage I still fail to comprehend.
I can't believe how unlucky Safin is. The one time his seeding helps him get a pretty decent draw he is forced to pull out. Tough break for the Russian. I hope he's ready for Wimbledon.
Meanwhile, France's Gael Monfils also withdrew from the same tournament with a wrist injury he picked up during his second round win over Andrey Golubev. Am not really worried about the Frenchman, because the last time he said he was injured and not ready to play, he made the quarters at Roland Garros. Totally irrelevant, I know, but I choose not to worry about him!!
Other Queen's action saw top seed, Andy Murray, ease past Andreas Seppi, 3rd seed, Gilles Simon edge Grigor Dimitrov in 2 tie-break sets, Mikhail Youzhny beat Marcos Baghdatis, 5th-seed Marin Cilic stumble out to Nicolas Mahut and Lleyton Hewitt rally back to defeat Frederico Gil in 3 sets.
"Murray could win all of the Grand Slam titles out there."
"The clay courts and the French Open will be the toughest for him - but he could still do it... The Australian Open, the US Open and Wimbledon, especially with the home-crowd, are all definitely possible for Murray."
"It is now about winning one of them and, once he has done that, he will be able to win more... You have to crack it first. Getting the first one is the hard bit for someone like Andy, he just needs a bit of luck."
"It's like Ivan Lendl. He was in his seventh year as a professional before he finally won a Grand Slam title and he lost in four Slam finals before he cracked it... When he finally won one, it was the start for him."
"Lendl went on to win seven more Grand Slam titles, eight in total - even more than McEnroe - and become world No1. I think Andy Murray could do the same thing."
-- Seven-time Grand Slam champion, Stefan Edberg tips Andy Murray for Grand Slam glory
I agree with the Swedish phenomenon. Murray has all the tools to tally up those Slams, but he needs to win the first one. I think if Murray reaches another Major final, he will not crumble like he did against Federer at the US Open last year. It's just like Djokovic, who got nervous against Federer in the 2007 US Open final, but he didn't think twice a few months later when he won the Australian Open. The question is: when will Murray win that first Grand Slam title?!?!?
Quotes from thesun.co.uk
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
"After the appropriate tests (MRI, Ultrasound scans and gammagraphy) Mr. Rafael Nadal suffers from insertion tendonitis in the superior end of both kneecaps with a light osseous edema," said Doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, Spanish Federation doctor and Managing Director of the Mapfre Medical Tennis Center.
"His treatment will involve oral anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy as well as progressive muscular exercises for both quadriceps's. Following the 48-hour treatment, Mr. Nadal will gradually get back into training progressively."
Nadal said he will do his best to recover in time but he will not play Wimbledon unless he is 100% fit:
"I have been playing with pain on my knees for some months now and I simply can't go on like this. The pain was limiting certain movements in my body, which affected me mentally as well."
"After the tests and with the appropriate treatment, we have decided to travel to London next Tuesday, June 16th."
"I am going to give my 200% to be ready for the most important tournament in the world. The tournament that I always dream about. I will not go out and play, especially on the Wimbledon Centre Court, if I am not 100% ready to play."
"I have 2 difficult weeks ahead of me, especially because I won't be doing what I like doing most, which is to play tennis, but I will be working on my recovery through physiotherapy treatments as well as recovery work on the specific muscular area."
Although it seems Nadal doesn't worry much about rankings and for him it really is all about playing the game, participating in Wimbledon and facing the challenge of defending his title, I must point out that if he doesn't play Wimbledon, and Roger Federer wins the tournament, the Swiss will overtake Nadal in the rankings, and retain the number 1 spot.
Best of luck to Rafa, I know millions of people will be praying for his recovery.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Of course, with the hopes of 60 million Brits weighing on him, Murray sure seems to have a tougher task than most players, dealing with all that added pressure, as he will attempt to become the first Brit since Fred Perry in 1936, to lift the Wimbledon trophy on home ground.
“Anyone who watches sport will understand you can’t win every single match,” Murray told DEUCE.
“Unfortunately, in tennis there are no draws – even Manchester United have probably lost five or six games out of something like 60 this season. I’ll try my best at Wimbledon and I’ll have a decent shot if I play well, but I won’t view it as a failure if I don’t win it."
“I think I’m closer than I was a year ago – obviously the US Open was a good indicator of that. It might take time, but too bad. It’s not an easy thing to do and I’ve got maybe the two best players of all time playing just now. You’re probably going to have to beat one of them – maybe both of them – if you want to win a slam.”
The 22-year-old is drawn in Queen's to possibly face Mardy Fish, Feliciano Lopez or Michael LLodra in the quarters, Monfils or Marat Safin in the semis, while Simon, Marin Cilic, James Blake and Roddick all await on the other side of the draw as potential final opponents.
Last year Murray reached the quarters in Queen's where he was forced to withdraw from his match against Roddick, before he went to Wimbledon and reached the quarters there for the very first time, where he bowed out to eventual champion, Nadal, after edging out Richard Gasquet in an incredible 5-set thriller, where he came back from 2 sets down.
Ever since then, Murray has shot up the rankings to a current number 3, has reached the US Open final and the quarters in Roland Garros (his least favorite surface) and also managed to tally up an impressive 6-2 record lead over Roger Federer, one of the toughest players he might have to beat, to grab that elusive Wimbledon title.
I personally believe Murray has an excellent chance this year on grass, especially that looking at his record at Wimbledon, his results have been in a constant rise as he reached the 3rd round in 2005, the 4th round in 2006, followed by his quarterfinal showing in 2008 (he missed the event in 2007).
Murray, who had a 1st round bye, opens his campaign in Queen's tomorrow against Andreas Seppi of Italy.
You can read the full DEUCE article here and can watch some pre-Queen's interviews below:
Watching Roger Federer let out of a cry of joy and fall to the ground today on Philipp Chatrier after beating surprise finalist, Soderling, in straight sets, had a very strong and emotional effect on me. I have always respected the Swiss, despite my obvious bias towards Nadal throughout the years, but today Federer went a single step farther than he had gone the past 3 years and just like that, history has been made, or has been equaled at least. And what more would one ask for from a tournament?!?!
It is not important who Federer beat in the final, nor is it important whom he beat en route. The world number 2 has now won all 4 slams, has matched Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slam singles titles, and now has further proof to consolidate his place as the greatest of all time, a position he can safely boast to his soon-to-arrive child.
It’s weird how one extra step has silenced everyone’s doubts about Federer, who has reached the last straight 20 Grand Slam semis and had contested the last 3 Roland Garros finals, yet still many people needed this title to put the GOAT label on the Swiss, and restore their faith in him.
Well seeing him receive that trophy from another great, who was the last one to win all 4 slams, Andre Agassi, made me grateful once again for being able to witness history in the making, and I must admit, I am hopeful that Rafa can achieve the same feat of completing a career slam, by winning the US Open this year.
Congratz to Fed and to my party-pooper, Soderling (who was surprisingly nice today although his speech could have been shorter), and now I can switch my focus to praying for Rafa’s knees.
Before I forget, I’d like to congratulate Svetlana Kutznetsova, who after almost 5 years, proved that she still knows how to win a Grand Slam. And 2 is always better than 1. I just hope Safina doesn’t become a headcase and give up on her search for her first slam. I wonder what’s in those Safin genes?!?! They’re very hard to understand let alone predict.
The grass season kicks off Monday in Halle and Queen’s. I love how the tour switches surfaces instantly. It’s fun for us fans but probably not so much for the actual players. Right now am hoping Rafa recovers for Wimbledon because I’m going to be there for the first time and I can’t bear to be there if he can’t attempt to defend his title.
Friday, June 5, 2009
"I am very disappointed to not be able to come this year to Queen's, defend the title I won last year and enjoy playing there in front of that very knowledgeable crowds. To play in London has always been special for me, to play at the Queen's Club an honour and the fans in the UK are among the best I have ever seen, always supporting me since the first time I played there.
I have been having some problems in the past months with my knees, that's no secret, that did not allow me to compete at 100% always.
I need to work with my team to recover well, work on my physical condition to be at my top form and get ready for the grass to play at Wimbledon. I hope I can be ready to compete by then.
I am really sorry and I hope that the people at the Club will still want me to come next year.
Rafa"This means that Nadal will have to head to Wimbledon without any match play on grass prior to the event and it also means that he will lose all the points he gained from winning Queen's last year, allowing Roger Federer to get closer to him in the rankings.
So it may look like this is really a bad piece of news however am sure this decision was not easy on the Spaniard and his team and it is better for him to be fit for Wimbledon, than to exhaust himself in a warm-up event and then maybe lose early at Wimbledon like he did at Roland Garros.
Meanwhile, former top 10 player and 2004 Wimbledon semifinalist, Mario Ancic, announced he will miss Wimbledon as well as the USA-Croatia Davis Cup tie, since he has still not regained his fitness ever since he got glandular fever (mono) 2 years ago.
The 25-year-old Croat has won 13 of his 20 singles matches this year but was forced to miss the French Open citing lack of fitness as the main reason. The world number 38 has now decided to take a break from the game, in efforts to regain his form and health.
"Don't ask me when I'll return, because I don't even know the answer myself. Health is most important. I have to listen to my body."
"The fact that I canceled my favorite tournament (Wimbledon) and an important match with Americans, tells it all about the seriousness of the situation."
I have been waiting for Ancic to make a proper return to the game but now am starting to doubt his return. I seriously feel for the guy and hope his bad luck can turn around at some point.
Quotes from rafaelnadal.com and skysports.com
Thursday, June 4, 2009
What’s happened so far at the French Bizzare-O Open?
You know in the movie Final Destination when certain people were dying with a certain sequence?! That’s how I felt when I was watching the French Open this past week. The first on the target list was 4th-ranked Novak Djokovic, who suffered a straight sets upset to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round. Djokovic, who was the second best player on clay this season, who we all thought would face Rafa in the final, and who some even believed could win this tournament (certainly not me), lost in the third round!!! That day, that loss was described as the upset of the tournament. A statement that was immediately refuted the next day, as the curse continued to target the world’s top 4.
Just like that, Sweden’s back on the tennis map, and it’s taking a rather vicious stance too!!
Sweden’s Robin Soderling, who seemed to be on a special save-Borg’s-record mission, handed Rafael Nadal his first ever defeat at the French Open (dating back to 2005 when he made his debut), as he eliminated the world number one in 4 sets in the fourth round, to deny the Spaniard a record-breaking 5th consecutive Roland Garros title.
The 23rd seed then moved on to oust Nikolay Davydenko in straights and is now 1 win away from his first ever Grand Slam final. I was shocked when Soderling beat David Ferrer in the third round; now he’s in the semis. I doubt anyone could have seen that one coming.
Gonzalez hitting like I’ve never seen before
Soderling’s next opponent is rather ruthless himself; Fernando Gonzalez, who taught Andy Murray (no. 3 on the curse’s target list) a lesson on clay, as he blasted his forehand at every possible chance. I can safely say that Gonzalez hit the ball against Murray, stronger than I have ever seen. It was scary from where I was at, on my couch, in Cairo. Imagine how Murray felt across the net from that blazing Chilean. Poor Andy!!! The Soderling-Gonzalez semifinal should be a bloodbath if both players take the form they’ve shown so far, with them into the match.
Federer narrowly escapes the curse
After Djokovic and Rafa lost on back-to-back days, imagine how everyone reacted the following day when world number 2, Roger Federer, was down two sets and was facing a break point in the third during his fourth round match against Tommy Haas. Murray had not lost yet, but I was starting to think that there was actually a chance that the semis in Roland Garros this year could be top-4 free. Federer however pulled out the 13-Slam experience card while Haas decided that winning 2 sets was enough for the day, allowing the Swiss to rally back and win the match in 5.
The important piece of information about Federer now is that he has managed to reach 20 straight Grand Slam semifinals. Not much to say after a stat like that!
Karlovic number 2 on the aces leader board
26th seed, Ivo Karlovic, lost in the first round to Lleyton Hewitt, yet somehow the record-breaking number of aces he fired in that match, has him at number 2 in the aces leader list, although we are now in the semis. It took Roger Federer 5 matches to edge past Karlovic with 59 aces to the Croat’s 55, while Karlovic needed just 1 match to tally up that record. That’s insane!!!
Monfils made the quarters?!?!
Why is no one else wondering how Gael Monfils made it farther in the draw than Rafa, Djokovic and Verdasco, to name a few?! The Frenchman, who reached the semis last year, was reported to be injured and if I remember correctly, right before the first round, he said he will play through the pain and try to get through his first match. Somehow he reached the quarters (beating Roddick en route), where he gave Federer a tough time in the first set, forcing a breaker, before he fell to the Swiss star in straights. Was he really injured or was that some sort of scheme to take the Parisian pressure of his back?!
Impressive Del Potro takes out Tsonga
Juan Martin Del Potro’s path to his first Grand Slam semifinal has been filled with impeccable wins. His route included victories over Frenchman, Michael Llodra, Viktor Troicki, Igor Andreev, another home favorite, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Tommy Robredo. Too bad his next opponent is Federer, a player he has never beaten in 5 previous attempts. Anyone think this tournament still has room for one more upset?!?! I don’t think so…
That’s enough for now. I’ll do my best to do some more catching up later. In the meantime, tell me your picks for the semis tomorrow. The first match will be Gonzalez and Soderling (Gonzo leads 4-3, won last straight 4) at 1pm Paris time (2pm Cairo time), followed by Federer and Del Potro (Fed leads 5-0).