So I finally have a minute to breathe between the end of Roland Garros and getting ready for Wimbledon, and I thought I’d stop by here since it’s been awhile. The French Open was certainly a blast, and full of amazing tennis – even though the two people holding the Championship Trophies at the end were anything but surprises. Nadal won a Grand Slam in just about as domination fashion as one could imagine, and Sharapova cemented her comeback into the top echelon of the sport with her win. Going into Wimbledon, it would not surprise me in the least if both prevailed again. What did surprise me in Paris? Let’s see: Isner exiting early (although Mathieu winning was definitely a feel good story), Serena losing in the 1st Round, other American women going 10-0 in the first round, Andy Roddick not making a deeper run (kidding, obviously), Federer not taking at least a set from Djokovic, and I think my two favorite stories were two guys on the opposite ends of their careers (Tommy Haas & David Goffin) winning multiple matches. What do other people have to say about Roland Garros & more? Read below.
Ok, so my tennis team has 4 matches in the next 5 days, and on Day 6 I leave for Paris. I’ll do my best to get a Roland Garros preview up before the start of the tournament, but for now deal with people who write better than
Adriano Panatta had some game back in the day...read the story below.
I love all the hype around the blue clay. This story is making everyone look bad in my opinion. On one side you’ve got tournament organizers, who many are claiming are simply doing to blue clay to stand out (is that such a bad thing?) and make more money. On the other hand are players that win millions of dollars a year for playing a sport complaining that they aren’t used to it. Come on, play. Everyone be quiet. And I’ll watch because I can finally see the ball!
Tried something new out this week - letting Facebook fans pose some questions on our page, and answering them here. Only a few people took advantage, but they asked some great questions so I’ll do my best to answer them below.
There are many Spanish & French players in the top 100, & yet only one Brit. Why?
Unfortunately I am not quite tapped into the tennis world enough to answer this question with any certainty, however, my initial thought is lack of resources. Whether or not the UK has the money and is not using it on tennis development, or they don’t have the money to spend in the first place is not something I know. That being said, the countries that put the money in develop more top talent- like France & Spain. Take the US, for example. Lots of us complain that we don’t have the likes of Agassi, Sampras, Connors, etc. anymore. While that is obviously true, that is more due to the fact with how global the game has become. There are still 7 male players from the USA ranked in the top 100, 6 more than the UK…and my guess is there is a pretty strong correlation between money spent on tennis development and top ranked players.
Most of the players I like are ranked 5-20. What tournament in the US would be the best to see them and what round? I’ve thought about Cincinnati or Toronto. (Men btw….)
I can’t answer this question honestly without saying the US Open. Even if you didn’t want to pony up for one of our travel packages, and just get some grounds passes or nosebleed seats, simply attending the US Open is something that should be on every fan’s bucket list. I’d recommend going during the earlier rounds, not only is it a bit cheaper but besides the Big 4, there is no guarantee your favorite is likely to survive the first week. Lots of people see Arthur Ashe Stadium on TV and that’s all they know about the US Open. However, the most fun I’ve had is patrolling the outer courts for some good matches where I can sit a few feet from the action. And yes, players inside the top 20 will play on outer courts, especially during the first few rounds.
When will the WTA put an end to all the “noise”? I’ve been able to watch very little women’s tennis this year (and I’ve been a fan for decades) b/c the grunting is unbearable.
I bet she was grunting...
In a word, never. I’m 30, and have been watching tennis pretty much for the past two decades, which means I started when Monica Seles was lighting up both the courts, and my ears. While fans constantly complain about it, and justifiably so, I might add, and some players voice their annoyance, the bottom line is until a large contingency of players takes a stand I doubt anything will get done. I also think this is a case where we are making just a tad too much of it; often times I find myself watching a women’s match featuring to grunters and it’s barely noticeable, until someone says something about it. If we collectively just start to ignore them, it might become more tolerable. As it stands, it might be our only option.
I’ll be the first to admit, with the Red Sox starting off their season (poorly, I might add), the Celtics looking poised to make a deep run in the playoffs, and the Bruins starting the defense of their Stanley Cup title, tennis news has not exactly been on the forefront of my mind recently. Luckily for you, I can scour the net for good articles better than any other. Here are the fruits of my labor:
Ok, as always, I think it’s important to go back and review how I did with my Davis Cup picks. For those that don’t trust me to divulge the truth about my original picks last week, either scroll down a few posts or click here.
USA vs. France – I picked France to win 3-2, and fortunately, I was wrong. I don’t think I was selling Isner short by predicting a close loss to Tsonga, but at the same time I don’t think I accounted for just how far Isner has come over the past few months. The bottom line is this – he should be mentioned with the other top guys (outside of the “Big 4″) as players capable of doing significant damage, on a regular basis, at the big events…much like Tsonga. Win or lose against Spain in September, what Big John has accomplished to date in the 2012 Davis Cup Tournament should go down in history as one of the most memorable runs in recent history for Team USA. One last note, lets give 1st timer Ryan Harrison a bit of credit as well for battling a bit in the opening rubber and taking a set off Tsonga. And oh yeah, the Bryans win again…and my taxes are due next week.
Big John gets it done again!
Austria vs. Spain – I picked Spain to win 4-1, and that’s exactly what they did. Honestly, Austria never had a chance in this tie. Spain just rolls way too deep, as exemplified by Team Austria’s failure to win a single set in any of the four singles rubbers. It’s impossible to tell who will play for Spain (or USA, for that matter) in the semifinals all the way in September, but with all their depth, and home court advantage, Team USA will certainly have their hands full.
Czech Republic vs. Serbia – I was close on this one, as I expected the Czech Team to win, I just figured it would be 3-2 as opposed to 4-1. You really have to give the MVP of this Tie to Tomas Berdych, who absolutely dismantled Troicki in the opening rubber to get the ball rolling for CR. Then, with the Tie knotted up at 1-1 after a thrilling five-set battle that saw Tipsarevic edging out Stepanek, Berdych carried his exhausted teammate to a doubles victory Saturday, before taking three straight tiebreakers in the opening rubber Sunday over Tipsarevic to seal the win. The combination of Stepanek and Berdych might not excite you the way a couple of Spanish players might, but these guys give the Czechs a solid chance going forward.
Croatia vs. Argentina – Ok, let’s get one thing straight first – I nailed this match, picked Argentina 4-1 and that was the exact result. Instead of lauding myself for being really, really smart, I’m going to focus for a couple of sentences on the 5+ hour battle between Nalbandian & Cilic that opened this Tie up. Yes, it was dramatic; yes, it was exciting; BUT, it was also awful. I don’t care that this match was played on slow, red clay…for two guys as accomplished and talented as they are, to hit a combined 241 unforced errors is mind-boggling. I mean, read that number again, it’s STAGGERING. Couple that with a total of 83 winners (3:1 ratio) and I am quite happy I only followed that match online, and was not actually subjected to watching it.
Let’s face it, despite a very exciting weekend of tennis ahead of us, more people will be watching the Masters, including myself. Why? Well, because I STILL don’t get The Tennis Channel, but I do get CBS. So, whatever you decide to watch this weekend, enjoy it, and here are some links to get you through.
For those of you who don’t like to read, I’ll redirect you to a podcast I did this week on the Davis Cup with Tennis Connected. I’d also tell you to read on, because the insight I’m going to provide below is second to none. Or not, but either way please read.
Team USA will have their hands full this weekend
France vs. USA (France, Outdoor Clay) – When Team USA upset Switzerland back in February, they were short a Bryan brother. This weekend, they will be short Mardy Fish. In February, Team USA was able to overcome it, this weekend I fear they will not have the same success. Tsonga gets things going against Ryan Harrison on Friday, followed by Simon and Isner. I could definitely see Isner winning, but give Harrison very little chance. Then let’s assume the Bryan Bros win the doubles (though, we should note that the last time they lost was to Llodra some years back), which will give Team USA a 2-1 advantage heading to Sunday. The 4th rubber is Isner vs. Tsonga, and the Tie will be capped with Harrison against Simon. Again, I can’t see Harrison beating the 13th ranked player in the world, on clay, in France with the tie on the line. So, it will come down to Isner and Tsonga. I love the way Isner has been playing and would really call this a toss up, so I have to give it to the higher ranked player in front of his home crowd. France, 3-2.
Spain vs. Austria (Spain, Outdoor Clay) – Once again Rafael Nadal will not compete for Spain, and once again they should have no trouble advancing. They are just too deep with the likes of Almagro & Ferrer playing singles, and half of the winning BNP Paribas Open doubles champs in Marc Lopez playing doubles. Jurgen Melzer of Austria is certainly no slouch, and I can see him pulling off an upset in singles. However, I certainly can’t see him winning both matches on Spanish turf, and a doubles upset as well. I’ll go with Spain, 4-1.
Czech Republic vs. Serbia (Czech Republic, Indoor Clay) – Without Djokovic in the mix, this might be the most intriguing of the four match ups. Look at the singles players – Berdych (ranked 7th) & Stepanek (24th) for CR, and Tipsarevic (8th) & Troicki (27th) for Serbia. Nenad Zimonjic is far and away the most accomplished doubles player of the group, and gives Serbia a slight edge there; but the top doubles players are rarely the same without their typical partner. Add this all up and I really have no idea who to pick. That being said, if it comes down to the 5th rubber (Stepanek vs. Troicki), I have to give a slight edge to the Czech Republic. Between the home crowd behind him and the fact that Stepanek is pretty much a robot, I like him to win a tight one against Troicki. Czech Republic, 3-2.
Argentina vs. Croatia (Argentina, Outdoor Clay) – On paper this looks like it should be a blowout for Argentina. Nalbandian is playing like it’s 2004, and del Potro is, well he is a kind of a beast. The Croats feature Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic, neither of whom inspire much confidence. ‘Dr. Ivo’ seems to be in the twilight of what has been a solid, and at times, slightly spectacular career. Cilic is ranked 23rd in the world, but is only 1-3 in 2012. So, really, it seems that Argentina has the advantage all around; not to mention that should they need a sub in a pinch, they can turn to Juan Monaco who is coming off a semifinal showing down in Miami. I know what you are all thinking – it seems like I’m building up towards some kind of “Argentina should destroy them…but…” However, there is no ‘but’ coming. Argentina, 4-1.
As we head into the final weekend of ‘March Madness’ for tennis, it’s easy to forget all that’s gone down at just two events. Lots of ups and downs for lots of players – John Isner made a run to the singles & doubles finals at the BNP Paribas Open only to flame out early down in Key Biscayne; Roger Federer won BNP, then lost to his first player ranked outside the top 20 in a VERY long time; that player, Andy Roddick, had a tough loss at Indian Wells, beat Federer, then got crushed by Juan Monaco; the Williams sisters made some good runs in Miami, but then people were surprised at their losses as well. Though, I would say, that neither of the Williams has played in a long time, and the fact that we are still surprised any time they lose says more about our expectations than anything else. Once this weekend passes, we’ve got the next round of Davis Cup then time to start paying attention to the European Clay-Court season. For now, here are some links on what’s been happening down in Key Biscayne: