Friday 29 June 2012

Goliath vs David (Federer defeats Benneteau) Wimbledon 2012

Just a day after Nadal went out of Wimbledon, Federer seemed to be on the course to join him. Walking onto the Centre Court today, Federer had not lost before the quarter-finals of Wimbledon during his previous 9 visits here. His last loss before the QF stage at Wimbledon was way back in 2002, when he lost in the first round.

Benneteau had won 8 matches during his 9 (inclusive of this year) visits to Wimbledon when he walked onto the Centre Court today. He was 1-2 head to head against Federer, but he won the pair's last encounter in the second round of Master Series Paris in 2009.

It was Rosol who rocked the crowd yesterday, and it Benneteau who started rocking the crowd today. Benneteau fired the first bullet when he broke Federer at 4-4 to give himself a chance to serve for the first set. Though Federer saved two set points but a big serve from Benneteau did the job. Fed served a poor 44% against Bene's 62%. The most notable stat of the first set was the Winners-Unforced errors differential. Fed was -3, while Bene was +2. Bene did not face a break point in the first set.

Federer held to open the second set and broke Bene's serve to go up 2-0, but Bene broke right away and held his serve to to level the match. Federer had 3 set points when Bene served to stay in the set at 5-6, but Bene saved the first with a forehand into the corner, second with an ACE and the third with a sweet drop-shot that caught Fed off-guard. The tie break was all Bene as he went up 6-2. Fed saved one set point with an ACE but Bene was not to be denied on the second. The most notable stat was the winners-unforced errors differential. Fed was +1, while Bene was a whooping +18.

Federer went down two sets to love, this has happened before as well. Federer went down two sets to love against Haas in the 2009 Roland Garros, just one day after Soderling took out Nadal in the 4th round. However, Federer did recover to win that match in three sets.

Federer broke to open the third set, held and broke again and held again to go up 4-0. Bene held serve, as did Federer and bene held again to force Federer to serve for the set, and serve he did winning the set 6-2.

Bene saved 3 break points while serving at 2-2 in the fourth set. The set went on serve till the tie-break. Bene saved one set point when Federer's backhand pass went into the net, but Federer was quick to earn a second set point on which Bene netted the forehand to let the Swiss Master stay alive in the match.

There was no David this time as the fifth set started. The Goliath had other plans for David. Fed held to open the final set and Bene responded likewise but that was all David could do against Goliath today, as Fed held and broke, held and broke and held to remind David that this was not his day. With this Fed not only kept his 32 consecutive QF streaks of Grand Slams alive but also kept his quest for the record equalling 7th Wimbledon trophy and the race to the top spot alive.

Let us have a look at what the numbers tell us about the match:

Description   Federer         Benneteau   
Aces      14        15
Double faults        4        10
1st serves in      65%        68%
1st serve points won      79%        69%
2nd serve points won      56%        51%
Net points won      56%        62%
Break points won      38%        33%
Receiving points won      37%        29%
Winners      53        59
Unforced errors      29        32
Total points won    173      151

Federer's first serve came back in the last three sets to save him and destroy Benneteau. Federer was clearly efficient in winning points on the first and second serve as against Benneteau. Federer is normally good at winning points at net, but today his proficiency at net was far below, winning only 56% of the net trips.

"It was a tough match. Oh my God, it was brutal. Bit of luck maybe on my side, who knows? I tried in the third, fourth and fifth to stay alive. I'm very fortunate and very happy the crowd was so into the match, and I appreciate that enormously. Julien was playing amazing. I knew it was going to be difficult. He played so well, he was making me doubt for most of the match. The thing is to stay calm, you just try to play tough and focus point for point." Federer in on-court interview.

Federer moves on to face Malisse for a spot in the quarter-finals. Yesterday was David's day but today Goliath reminded David that he is not done yet. How far will Federer go? The last time it happened at French Open in 2009 (Federer went down 2 sets to love to Tommy Haas, the day after Nadal went down to Soderling), Federer went on to win the title. Will we see a repeat? Only time will tell us.

Thursday 28 June 2012

David vs Goliath (Rosol def. Nadal) at Wimbledon 2012

Walking onto the Court today, Rafael Nadal had his sights set on a routine win, while Rosol had an unsurmountable mountain in front of him. Rosol was bidding to reach to reach the 3rd round here and equal his best Grand Slam performance (3rd round appearance at RG 2011).

Rosol currently sitting at a ranking of 100, in his past 5 visits at Wimbledon had never made it out of the 1st round of QUALIFIERS, but defeated 64 36 76 75 Dodig in the 1st round on his Wimbledon debut. Having beaten Dodig must have given him the confidence to beat the reigning Roland Garros champion, since Dodig was one of the last few guys to have beaten Nadal, when he beat him last year in the second round of Montreal Canada.

Nadal had never lost in the second round of Wimbledon during his past 7 visits to Wimbledon but once, back in 2005 and during his past 5 visits he had made it to the finals here, winning on two ocassions in 2008 and 2010. Rosol on the other hand had won a total of 3 matches in the 5 Grand Slams he had played before Wimbledon this year, all the 3 wins coming on clay. Rosol was 0-3 against top 10 this year and 1-4 against the elite in his small career, where he has won just 18 (11 of these wins have come this year) matches and lost 32 matches.

But it all changed for Rosol today. Having played flawlessly in the first set and still lost it, I thought he is done for good, but he rebounded to take the next two sets and played flawless in the 5th set to clinch the BIGGEST VICTORY of his career and cause one of the BIGGEST UPSETS of the WIMBLEDON HISTORY.

Rosol's lone victory over a top 10 had come over Melzer, then world no.8 at the second round of the Roland Garros, when he came back from two sets to one down to clinch the match.

Rosol had won back to back matches on grass for the first time this year in his 3rd round showing at Queen’s (l. Marin Cilic) – his first-ever Tour-level grass court event. He attempted to qualify for 2012 Eastbourne, but fell in the 3rd round of qualifying. So there was little if any in Rosol's favour today but he had a few things in his favour today, having won 3 of his last 4 matches against the left-handers (if that counts :) )

There was a lot of talk about which of the BIG 4 will loose earliest, and most of the people ended up with Murray's name, since he was in the toughest quarter, who could have predicted Nadal going down to Rosol in the 2nd round??? Nadal with this defeat has become the first of BIG 4 to fall, and with the 2nd seed out ,the possibility of the top 2 seeds making it to the final has ended.

Let us have a look at how Nadal lost in numbers:

Description     Nadal             Rosol
Aces       19           22
Double faults         2            3
1st serves in       67 %                  67 %         
1st serve points won       78 %           83 %
2nd serve points won       63 %           58 %
Net points won       67 %           79 %
Break points won       75 %           50 %
Receiving points won       26 %           27 %
Winners       41           65
Unforced errors       16          29
Total points won       137        139

The match was close, no doubt, Rosol had 3 more aces than Nadal, the most important being the one on the match point of-course, but he aslo hit one more double fault than Nadal.

Nadal and Rosol both served at 67% but Rosol won a whooping 83%, 5% more than Nadal, of his first serves. Nadal, however bettered Rosol on 2nd serves, winning 63%, 5% more than Rosol, but that was not enough, not at least today to get Nadal past Rosol.

There was a moment in the 3rd set when Nadal argued with the chair umpire during a changeover when he went down a break in the 3rd set, apparently irritated by something of Rosol, and just after two games Nadal actually deliberately brushed past his opponent, and did not acknowledge the contact.

I had written Rosol off when Nadal won the first set, but he had other plans. He went on to win the next two sets. Most of us had written him off again, as Nadal stormed back to win the 4th set and level the match at 2 sets a piece but Rosol played like a David against Goliath. He went for his own from the very start of the 5th set. Nadal served to open the set and Rosol raced out into a 30-0 lead thanks to the bravest of drive-volley passes. Nadal's serve got him back in the game at 30-30. But Rosol sent a raking forehand into the corner for break point, a passing shot on the break point and BANG!!!!!!!! The final strike was made.

Serving for the match, he never let nerves get to him, an ace to open, then a forehand pinged into the corner for a clean winner, again an Ace and he had three match points. ACE on match point and HE HAD DONE IT! and with that Rosol fell to the floor to celebrate, to make him believe he had done it. Nadal walked to the net and kicked the net in frustration, before the pair shared a fairly cold handshake probably (reading too much into the hand-shake may be).

"It's like a miracle for me. I never expected this. It's just so many emotions I don't know what to say. I'm very sorry for him I played unbelievable today. I hope I can play one more match like this" Rosol in on-court interview!

Nadal moves on with his grass season over (O YES! Olympics remain, where Nadal is the defending gold medalist) on just the 4th day of the Wimbledon, for the first time since 2005 and Rosol moves on to celebrate the BIGGEST WIN of his career on the BIGGEST COURT and the BIGGEST STAGE.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Wimbledon Matches to Watch - Day 3

Let us have a look at few matches of the day 3.

1 - Djokovic (1) vs Harrison

DescriptionDjokovic   Harrison        
YTD Match Record    36-6    17-15
H2H       1        0
Wimbledon Best Result   Winner  2nd round
Year of best Result    2011    2011
Djokovic is the defending champion and is coming off a straight sets win over a tricky first round opponent, Ferrero. Harrison is coming off a 4 set win over the 2010 Wimbledon quarter-finalist Lu. The pair has met only once, with Djokovic easily handling the American in Cincinnati last year. Harrison is playing in just his 2nd Wimbledon. Harrison is playing at a carrerhigh ranking of 48, but so is Djokovic, at a career high ranking of 1. Djokovic had a slow start in his opener. Harrison has lost his all 4 meetings against the top 10 this year, and is win-less  against the top 10 in his 13 career meetings against them. This is Djokovic's 8th appearance here, and he has lost in the 2nd round only once. It was back in 2008, but he has transformed a lot since then. Will it be 14th time lucky for Harrison or will Djokovic march on to defend his title?

Pick: Djokovic in 4 sets

2- Federer (3) vs Fognini

Description    Federer    Fognini
YTD Match Record      39-6     11-12
H2H        1         0
Wimbledon Best Result        Winner   3rd round       
Year of best Result2003-07 & 2009     2010
The pair's only meeting came back in 2007 in the 3rd round of Montreal Canada. Federer straight setted Fognini then, but since then they have not faced each other. Federer in his previous 9 visits here has  not lost before the QF stage. Fognini has just one win over a top 10 player in his career in the 16 encounters against the elite. Will he be able to record his second win? Federer looked great in his first round win over Ramos. It will be an uphill battle for Fognini.

Pick: Federer in 3 sets

3- Simon (13) vs Malisse

Description    Simon  Malisse   
YTD Match Record    29-15   13-15
H2H       2    0
Wimbledon Best Result     4th round       SF
Year of best Result     2006   2002
Grass brings the best out of Malisse, whose best grand slam performance to date came on this very surface when he made it to the semi-finals. Simon too has been steady on this surface, though he has never made it out of the 4th round in his previous 6 visits here. The pair's last meeting came in 2010 in the QF of Metz, won by Simon in 3 sets. Malisse is coming off a straight sets win over Australian Matosevic, Simon however got a win when Mathieu retired while trailing 36 45. Malisse is one of the talented under-achievers, who could not realise his potential to the fullest. Simon, being the higher ranked will be no doubt the favourite, but Malisse will have a chance for an upset. I have to give an edge to Malisee given his love for grass, but given his up and down form during the matches, it will be tough for him to pull it off.

Pick: Simon in 5 sets

4- Mahut vs Falla

Description     Mahut       Falla
YTD Match Record     11-10       7-14
H2H         2         0
Wimbledon Best Result       3rd round          2nd round
Year of best Result       20062004, 2006, 2007
Both Mahut and Falla had lost the opener at Wimbledon in their previous 4 visits here. While Mahut is best known for his match against Isner in the first round of Wimbledon 2010, Falla is best known for stretching Federer, 6 time Wimbledon champion, to 5 sets in the opener Mahut had the chance of meeting the marathon man Isner for the 3rd straight year (the last 2 years the played the opener here). However, Falla had other plans, he outplayed Isner in the first round to book a spot in the second round to match his best performance at Wimbledon. THe pair has met twice in the main draw matches and twice at the qualifiers and challenger level. It is Mahut who has won the pair's both meetings in the main draw matches, but it is Falla who has got the better of Mahut in the qualifiers and challenger level matches. Falla must be high on confidence after his comeback win over highest ranked American in the first round. He saved a match point en-route his upset over Isner. Mahut, however, must be as confident while he walks on court. It will all come down to who can manage his nerves. Falla has a chance to make it to the 3rd round of Wimbledon for the first time in his career, while Mahut will try his best to match his best showing here of 2006. Let us hope for a great battle.

Pick: Mahut in 5 sets

Who do you think will be the one leaving the court with a smiling note?

Saturday 23 June 2012

Sharapova, Azarenka, Kvitova, Serena or Clijsters - 2012 Wimbledon Draw Analysis

The Wimbledon draw was released yesterday, the major hype was where will the unseeded Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters fall in the draw??? For now, we have the answers, the wrath of the draw gods fell on Jankovic and Radwanska. Jankovic faces Clijsters in the opener, while Radwanska has a potential 2nd round meeting with Venus Williams.

Sharapova comes into Wimbledon after completing her career slam at Roland Garros. Azarenka, Kvitova and Serena come in with a lot of questions to answer. At the end of the fortnight, who will it be holding the Venus Rosewater Dish with the smile of champion? Let us break down the draw:

First Quarter
Sharapova and Kerber are the highest seeds in this quarter, with Clijsters and Jankvoic, the 2 former no.1's also lurking in the draw.

Sharapova's first real test will come in the 2nd round where she will face 2010 Wimbledon semi-finalist and last year's quarter-finalist, Pironkova. Although, Sharapova leads the H2H 3-0, the pair has not met since their clash in the first round of Beijing 2010. Pironkova is fresh off a quarter-final appearance from Eastbourne, where she defeated the world no.3 Radwanska in the opener. If Sharapova gets through this match, her road to the quarter-finals is easy.

Kerber is the next highest seed in Sharapova's quarter. She is coming off a runner-up showing at Eastbourne, where she had 5 match points against Paszek, but ultimately lost. Kerber's first test will come in the second round where she will meet Makarova for the second time in as many weeks. Kerber beat Makarova in straight sets in the quarter-final of Eastbourne, I doubt the outcome will be different this time. The real battle will begin from the 4th round where Kerber might face former world no.1, Clijsters who is unseeded. Clijsters is coming off a semi-final showing at Unicef Open, but withdrew from her semi-final match due to stress in the stomach muscle. 

Clijsters faces a tough opener against 18th seeded Jankovic. Clijsters leads Jankovic 7-1 in their H2H, and should be able to make her way past Jankovic. Should Clijsters reach the quarters, she will definitely be a title threat. This is her last Wimbledon, and she would love to go all the way to the title. She has never been past the semi-finals, but she should be able to work her way into the draw. She would love to have a beautiful ending of her fairy tale which started from her triumph at 2009 U.S Open. Should Clijsters and Sharapova meet in the quarters, which Sharapova will be hoping is not the case, Clijsters will walk into the match as favourite. Clijsters leads Sharapova 6-3, however they have never played on grass and the pair has not met since the final of Cincinnati 2010, a match won by Clijsters. 

I would love to see Sharapova go all the way and my mind tells me to go with her, but my heart says to go with Clijsters in her final run at Wimbledon. 

First Round matches to Watch:
Jankovic vs Clijsters
Barthel vs Zvonareva

Pick: Clijsters def. Sharapova


Second quarter is by far the most wide open of all the quarters, with the quarter-final spots up for grab.

Second quarter is highlighted by world no.3 Radwanska, 5 time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, last year's Roland Garros champion Li Na and this year's Roland Garros semi-finalist and world no.5 Samantha Stousr. Stosur is the weakest of all on grass, grass being her worst surface, and a tricky opener against Spanish player Navarro won't help either. 

Rawanska for the second straight slam has a potential 2nd round match up against Venus Williams. Radwanska has not been playing well recently. She was blasted off the court in the 3rd round of Roland Garros by Kuzetsova and then she lost in straight sets in her first grass court match of the year in Eastbourne by Pironkova. However, Radwanska has lost in the 2nd round only once during her last 6 visits here, that being last year. She has made the quarter-finals twice here in 2008 and 2009. 

Radwanska's potential 4th round opponent could be an in form Petrova. Petrova has also been twice into the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in 2005 and 2008. She made a trip to the 4th round last year and is winner of Unicef Open. 

Li Na has a favourable and manageable draw till the quarters where she might face Radwanska, Venus or Petrova. Li Na has been a quarter-finalist here twice, in 2006 and 2010. Her game is best suited to grass, and when her shots are landing inside the court she is a pleasure to watch. However, Li has serious head problem, she has had a history of blowing the lead and letting small things get to her head. If she can manage this problem, she will be a threat for the title.

I like the chances of Li Na, but with the uncertainty that has been surrounding the women's tennis, you never know. I am unsure of who will be the other player in the quarter-final. If Radwanska can negotiate her way past Venus, she should be a threat. Although my mind tells me not to go with Radwanska, I will still give her a chance to prove herself and her doubters wrong.

First round matches to watch
Venus Williams vs Elena Vesnina
Stosur vs Navarro

Pick: Radwanska def. Li Na

Semi-finals: Clijsters def. Radwanska


This quarter is highlighted by the reigning Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova and 4 time Wimbledon champion, Serena Williams. 

Serena had shocking results in the last 3 majors she has played, she was heavily favoured to win the matches she lost, starting from U.S Open 2011, lost the final to Stosur, Australian Open 2012, lost in the 4th round to Makarova, and the worst of all at French Open 2012, lost in the first round to Virgine Ruano Pascual. 

Serena is 30, and she faces the same problem as Federer, having off days or loosing the focus for sometime. However, she still is the best and the player to beat when it comes to slams. She is over-due for a slam title, and has a decent draw till quarters, a potential 3rd round clash against Jie Zheng, against whom Serena is 5-0 and a potential 4th round clash against either Errani or Safarova, against whom Serena is combined 9-0.

As for our reigning Wimbledon champion, Kvitova, she has been flying under the radar since the start of the year, she has yet to make a final appearance, let alone win a title. Kvitova is seeded 4th and she will not like the fact that since the dawn of Open Era a 4th seed has won Wimbledon only twice. Kvitova, like Li Na is a head case and she needs to believe herself and in her game. She was a wonderful game when she is on, but it all depends on her. One moment she will be hitting winners after winners and the other moment she will fail to put a ball back into the court. Her first real test will come in the 4th round where her potential opponent is the diminutive Cibulkova, the conqueror of the world no.1 in the 4th round of Roland Garros. Cibulkova made the quarters of Wimbledon here last year, en-route she defeated the then World no.1 Wozniacki. All the eyes are on the potential clash of Kvitova and Williams in the quarter-final.

Will it be the veterans of the tour or the new guards who take a stride? We will have to wait and see.

First round matches to watch:
Cibulkova vs Zakopalova
Schiavone vs Robson

Pick: Petra Kvitova def. Serena Williams


The last quarter of the draw is headed by 2 former world no.1's Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka. There is another former no.1 here lurking in the middle of the quarter in the form of 14th seeded Ana Ivanovic.  

Wozniacki has by far the toughest opponent in the first round, in the form of last year's quarter-finalist and this year's Eastbourne champion, Paszek. Wozniacki won the pair's only encounter handily, though it was way back in 2008. Wozniacki is combined 10-4 against her potential 3rd round and 4th round opponents, Kuznetsova and Bartoli respectively.

Azarenka made the breakthrough here last year when she went on to reach the semi-finals before loosing a 3 set hard fought battle against the eventual champion Kvitova.

Azarenka has a manageable draw till the 4th round, where her potential opponent can be a resurgent Ana Ivanovic. The pair have split their previous 4 meetings, with their most recent meeting being won by Azarenka in straight sets in the 3rd round of Madrid. Ivanovic's best result at Wimbledon came in 2007 when she made it to the semi-finals, however since then she has failed to progress beyond the 4th round. However, should the two meet in the 4th round, it should be Azarenka who will have an edge.

Azarenka and Wozniacki (if she gets out of her first round encounter) should make it to the quarters without much trouble, and should the 2 meet there, it will be a blockbuster match. Wozniacki leads the H2H 5-2. However, the 2 have not met since their clash in the quarter-finals of Indian Wells 2011, where Azarenka retired while trailing 3-0 in the first set. Azarenka will have the edge and the momentum going into the match, but should the dane reach there, she will definitely have all the confidence.

First round matches to watch:
Wozniacki vs Paszak
Peer vs Goerges
Wickmayer vs Kuznetsova

Pick: Azarenka def. Wozniacki

Semi-final: Kvitova def. Azarenka

Final: Clijsters def. Kvitova

P.S:  I have made many picks with my heart, though I have presented all the stats. What do you guys think? Who do you see the winner at the end of the fortnight?

Friday 22 June 2012

Wimbledon 2012 and BIG 4 - Breaking down the draw

The draw for Wimbledon has finally been released. Djokovic once again finds himself in the same half of the draw as Federer. This has happened for the 16th time during the past 21 majors. Murray and Nadal are seeded to meet each other in the semi-final. There are a lot of mouth watering first round clashes. Let us have a look into the draw.

Djokovic has a tricky opener in the form of former world no.1 and 2002 Roland Garros champion and 2007 and 2009 Wimbledon quarter-finalist, Ferreo. They have split their prior 2 meetings but they have not met since Madrid 2007. Djokovic should be able to negotiate his way easily into the quarter-finals. 

The second highest seed in Djokovic's half is Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon finalist.  Berdych may face some test in the fourth round with either Gasquet, the 2007 Wimbledon semi-finalist or the in form Almagro. Berdych leads Almgaro 6-3 but trails Gasquet 2-3 in the pair's head to head meetings. However, he should be able to make his way past them to set a block buster quarter-final clash against Djokovic.

Djokovic is 9-1 life time against Berdych, BUT, yes, BUT in caps, Berdych's lone victory over Djokovic came here at the lawns of Wimbledon in 2010 in the semi-finals. Berdych has been playing well lately. He made it to the QF of Australain Open before bowing out to Nadal in 4 sets and lost in the 4th round of Roland Garros at the hands of Delpotro. However, he crashed out of Halle in the 3rd round at the hands of eventual champion Haas. Djokovic recently beat Murray in the Boodle's Challenge 64 64.

First Round Matches to watch:
Djokovic vs Ferrero;
Berdych vs Gulbis; and
Harrison vs Lu.

Pick: Djokovic def Berdych

Federer heads the 2nd quarter, with Tiparevic at the bottom of the quarter. Federer's first test could come in the potential 4th round meeting against Simon. Federer has had trouble against Simon in the past. Federer is  2-2 against Simon, winning the pair's last 2 meetings, though the last win came via retirement.

However, Simon must overcome a potential 2nd round match against the 2002 semi-finalist Malisse. Malisse made it to the 4th round here last year and is coming off a semi-final showing at Unicef Open. Simon has won both matches played against Malisse.If Simon makes it to the 3rd round , he will have to overcome the challenge of Verdasco, who has has made it to the 4th round of Wimbledon on 3 ocassions ( 2006, 2008 and 2009), Simon however has made a trip to the 4th round only once, in 2009. Simon and Verdasco have split the previous 4 matches they played. 

Potential quarter-final opponents of Federer can be Tipsarevic who faces a tricky opener against Nalbandian (2002 Wimbledon runner-up), Nalbandian or Isner. Nalbandian has won 2 of the 3 matches played against Tipsarevic. Federer leads the H2H against all 3, Nalbandian, Tipsarevic and Isner. Federer is 11-8 against Nalbandian, 3-1 against Isner, and 5-0 against Tipsarevic.

First round matches to watch:
-Isner vs Falla; Isner has had wins over Federer and Djokovic this year but has failed to capitalise over them. Falla is the man who stretched Federer to 5 sets in the first round of Wimbledon in 2010.
-Nalbandian vs Tipsarevic, Nalbandian was the 2002 Wimbledon runner-up and recent Queens's finalist. Tipsarevic however, has never been beyond the 4th round of Wimbledon.

Pick: Federer def. Nalbandian

Semi-final: Djokovic def. Federer

Although I would love to see Federer extract some revenge and beat Djokovic to make it the final, but the current form of both players suggests otherwise. Federer should be extra motivated, since he has a shot at the top spot if he wins the title. (P.S: I will be keeping my fingers crossed for Federer to claim the record equalling 7th Wimbledon crown and the top spot.)


Murray has by far the toughest quarter of the BIG 4. He faces a tricky opener against former world no. 3 Davydenko. Murray, however should not have a problem against Davydenko, given the current form of both the players. Murray leads the H2H 5-4, however the pair has not played since Masters 1000 Canada, when Murray defeated Davydenko in the QF.

Murray then faces another tricky opponent in the second round, should he get past Davydenko in the form of 2009 Wimbledon quarter-finalist Ivo karlovic. Murray leads Karlovic 3-0, however the pair has not met since their meeting in the semi-finals of Cincinnati 2008.

Potential 4th round encounter for Murray can be Raonic or reigning Queen's champion Cilic.

Del Potro, Ferrer or Roddick can be potential QF opponents of Murray. Roddick will have to overcome Ferrer in the potential 3rd round clash. Roddick is beginning to find his form. He is into the final of Eastbourne.Given Ferrer's record at Wimbledon (he has never been beyond 4th round) and Roddick's recent form, Roddick should book a place into the 4th round and a potential meeting with Delpotro. I will be picking Raonic over Murray and Delpotro over Ferrer or Roddick. Most of you must be thinking that I am crazy, but hey, these are just picks, though my mind would tell me to go with Murray but I want to go with Raonic.

First round matches to watch:
Murray vs Davydenko; and
Dimitrov vs Anderson

Pick: Del Potro def. Raonic

Nadal and Tsonga headline the last quarter of the draw. Nadal's first test can come in the 3rd round. A potential meeting with the reigning Halle champion and 2009 Wimbledon semi-finalist Hass. Nadal has won the pair's all 5 encounters, with Haas failing to win a set against Nadal. Haas will have to overcome Kohlschreiber in the first round though. The two met recently in Halle semi-finals, with Haas edging Kohlschreiber in straight sets. Rest of Nadal's draw is manageable. His real test will come in the quarter-finals, where he may meet either Tsonga, Hewitt or Tomic. 

Tsonga and Hewitt play each other in the first round, though Tsonga has won the pair's 2 meetings, he comes in Wimbledon with a question mark on his broken finger. Tomic made it to the quarter-finals here last year, so he might have his say. His draw seems manageable as well. My mind says me to go with Tsonga, but my heart tells me to go with Tomic, so I will go with Tomic to make it to the quarters.

Nadal leads the H2H against Tsonga 7-3, though one of Tsonga's 3 victories came on grass in the Quarter-finals of Queen's last year. 

Nadal leads the H2H against Hewitt as well 6-4. Hewitt's last victory over Nadal came back in 2006 in the quarter-finals of Queen's. Nadal has been to the final of Wimbledon in his previous 5 visits to Wimbledon, winning the Wimbledon crown on two occasions (2008 and 2010).

First round matches to watch:
Tsonga vs Hewitt; 
Haas vs Kohlschreiber; and 
Tommic vs Goffin

Pick: Nadal def. Tomic

Semi-finals: Nadal def. Del Potro

Final: Nadal def. Djokovic

What do you guys see? and who do you guys think should win the title?

* The image is not my property and can be found on google images.

Thursday 21 June 2012

The best of the best at Wimbledon

Since the dawn of Open Era, the top 2 seeds have met in the Wimbledon Championship match 12 times, with the top seed edging the second seed 7 times for the title.

The last time the top 2 seeds met in the final was last year, when Rafael Nadal took on Novak Djokovic. Djokovic was the second seed and he took out Nadal to win his first Wimbledon crown. Enjoy some of the highlights.

The first time top 2 seeds met in the final of Wimbledon was in 1972 when Stan Smith, the top seed defeated Ilie Năstase 46 63 63 46 75.

The last 2 times the top 2 seeds have faced each other for Wimbledon title, the second seed has been victorious. To find the last top seed who defeated the second seed for the championship, you have to go back to 2007, when Federer defeated Nadal to claim his 5th straight Wimbledon crown. Enjoy some of the highlights.

Let us have a look at who were the other top 2 seeds who met in the final and in which years they faced each other. The winner is indicated in bold.

Year       Top SeedSecond SeedScore
1972  Stan Smith  Ilie Năstase  46 63 63 46 75       
1977  Jimmy Connors         Bjorn Borg  36 62 61 57 64
1978  Bjorn Borg  Jimmy Connors       62 62 63
1980  Bjorn Borg  John McEnroe  16 75 63 67 86
1981  Bjorn Borg  John McEnroe  46 76 76 64
1982  John McEnroe  Jimmy Connors  36 63 67 76 64
2004  Roger Federer  Andy Roddick  46 75 76 64
2005  Roger Federer  Andy Roddick  62 76 64
2006  Roger Federer  Rafael Nadal  60 76 67 63
2007  Roger Federer  Rafael Nadal  76 46 76 26 62
2008  Roger Federer  Rafael Nadal  64 64 67 67 97
2011  Rafael Nadal  Novak Djokovic  64 61 16 63

The 1980 encounter of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe is considered as one of the greatest matches of all time. McEnroe saved 5 championship points in the 4th set tie-break before winning the tie break 18-16. However, McEnroe failed to break Borg's serve in the decider loosing the decisive set 8-6.

In 2008 Rafael Nadal won his first Wimbledon crown by defeating the top seed Federer. The match is considered by many tennis experts as the best match ever played in the tennis history. At 4 hours and 48 minutes, the match was the longest singles final at a Wimbledon in terms of time played. Enjoy the highlights of the match.

Will it be the 13th time that the top seeds meet each other in the final? Or will Roger Federer and Andy Murray will have their say? Or will it be a player outside of the BIG 4 who will have his say? What do you say?
* I don't own any of these videos and they can be found on you-tube.

Love of the top 4 seeds for Wimbledon

You will find some interesting facts if you go back into the history of Wimbledon. A top seed has lost in the first round of Wimbledon thrice since the beginning of Open Era, but a 2nd, 3rd and 4th seed have never lost the opener since the beginning of Open Era.

Of 3 first round looses of top seed players, 2 belong to Martina Hingis, one in 1999, when she came off a runner-up showing at Roland Garros, loosing the championship match at the hands of Steffi Graff. Hingis was upset in the first round of Wimbledon by qulaifier Jelena Dokic. Dokic went on to reach the quarter-finals before bowing out to another qualifer Stevenson in 3 sets. Hingis won just 2 games in that first round loss. This marked Hingis's second exist in the first round of Wimbledon. Her first loss in the first round came on her debut at Wimbledon in 1995.
In 2001, Hingis was coming off a semi-final showing at Roland Garros but lost the opener in Wimbledon in straight sets, marking it the 3rd and last time in her career that she would loose the opener at Grand Slam. Her conqueror was none other than the Virginia Ruano Pascual (who would go on to hand Serena Williams her first ever defeat in the first round of a major at the Roland Garros 2012).

Steffi Graff is the only other top seed to have dropped out in the opener since the dawn of Open Era. This happened in 1994. This was Graff's only loss at Wimbledon during the time span of 1991 - 1997. Graff was coming off a semi-final showing at Roland Garros but was upset by Lori McNeil in the first round of Wimbledon. Lori McNeil then went on to reach the semi-finals before bowing out to eventual champion Conchita Martinez 8-10 in the third set. Sharapova is the top seed for Wimbledon this year. Will she become only the 3rd top seeded player to bow out in the opening round of Wimbledon, or will she continue her recent dominance at Grand Slams? Her current form suggests the latter.

Another Interesting fact is that since the dawn of the Open Era(1968 onwards) each of the top 3 seeds has won Wimbledon at least 6 times, however a 4th seed has won Wimbledon just 2 times in the past 44 years and you have to go all the way back to 1980 to find a 4th seed who went on to win the trophy. It was Evonne Goolagong Cawley who defeated 3rd seed Chris Evert in the final to become the second 4th seed to win Wimbledon since the Open Era. She defeated Evert 61 76(4). It was the first tie-breaker played in the ladies singles final at Wimbledon. To locate the first ever and the only other 4th seed to date who has won Wimbledon, you have to go all the way back to 1969 when Ann Jones defeated 2nd seed Billie Jean King to claim the Wimbledon crown. Ann Jones beat King 36 63 62. Ann Jones defeated the top seed Margaret Court in the semi-finals 10-12 63 62. Things have not been looking good for our 4th seed of this year who happens to be the defending champion as well as Kvitova dropped her opener at Eastbourne to Makarova, the Serena Slayer at Australian Open this year. Will Kvitova become the 3rd 4th seeded player to win Wimbledon or will she also bow out?

If we look back at the 44 years of Open Era, the top 4 seeds have combined to win the title for 38 times.
The top 4 seeds for this year are:
Maria Sharapova;
Victoria Azarenka;
Agnieska Radwanska; and
Petra Kvitova, the defending champion.

It is said that history repeats itself. But it is also said that fortune favours the brave. Will it again be a top 4 player winning the title and repeating history or will it be an outsider brave player having his say??? We will have to wait and watch things unfold over the course of the next 2 weeks.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

The 4 wheels and their performance at Wimbledon

When you look into the Wimbledon history, a few things grab your attention, like the fact that a top seed has never lost the opener at Wimbledon since the dawn of Open Era, but only once. A top seed has lost only once in each of 2nd and 3rd round of Wimbledon in the past 44 years. 2nd and 3rd seeds each twice dropped out in the opener since 1968. To find a 3rd seed who won the Wimbledon crown, you have to go all the way back to 1990.

Lleyton Hewitt is the only top seed since 1968 to date to have dropped the opener at Wimbledon. Hewitt was the defending champion when he set his foot onto the court in 2003 Wimbledon but was overwhelmed by the missiles fired by Ivo Karlovic. In bowing out to Karlovic, Hewitt also became the first defending champion since the beginning of Open Era to loose in the first round.

The only top seed to have dropped out of Wimbledon in the second round was Boris Becker who lost to Peter Doohan back in 1987 in 4 sets. Becker was the two time defending champion having won the trophy in 1985 and 1986.

Andrei Olhovskiy became the first and only player to date to have beaten a top seed in the 3rd round of Wimbledon when he took out Jim Courier, the then world no.1 in 4 sets.

Michael Stich, the 1991 Wimbledon champion, was the first player seeded 2nd to loose his opener at Wimbledon in 1994 when he was defeated by Bryan Shelton in straight sets. Marcelo Rios was the 2nd player, seeded 2nd at Wimbledon to drop his opener. He lost to Francisco Clavet in 5 sets in 1998.

In 1997 Goran Ivanesevic became the first player seeded 2nd at Wimbledon to drop out in the 2nd round. He lost to Magnus Norman in 5 sets. The final score being 62 26 76(4) 46 1412. Ivanesevic went on to win his only Wimbledon crown in 2001. Marat Safin is the only other player seeded second to loose in the second round of Wimbledon. He lost to Belgian Olivier Rochus 26 24 63 67(1).

Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi are the only players seeded 3rd to have dropped out in the opener in Wimbledon since 1968. Connors was defeated by Robert Seguso in 1986 in the first round, while Agassi lost to Doug Flach in 1996 to mark the decade of Connors first round loss at Wimbledon.

Another thing that stands out is the fact that top 2 seeds have combined to win 30 of the last 44 championships, while the 3rd and 4th seed have won only 4 and 3 times respectively. What implication will it have on our current BIG 4???? Will it have any implication or will it not have any implication?

Federer, the winner of 6 Wimbledon crowns, is one of the 3 players who can win the top spot at the end of the Wimbledon this year, the other 2 players being Nadal and Djokovic. Federer is motivated to win a record equalling 7th Wimbledon title and to win the top spot as well to break Samprass's record of 286 weeks spent at the coveted no.1 ranking. But is motivation the only factor? Federer's cause won't be helped by the fact that he failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals of Wimbledon during the last 2 years and add the recent loss at the hands of Haas in the Halle final to this as well. Not to disappoint Federer fans, the last player seeded 3rd who went on to claim the Wimbledon trophy was Stefan Edgberg, who defeated the top seed Lendl in the semi-finals and second seed Becker in the final. Will Federer become the first man seeded 3rd to win Wimbledon since 1990?

Will we see an early exit by our top 4 seeds (Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray) or will it be one of them holding the trophy at the end of the fortnight? Only time will tell us.

Saturday 16 June 2012

When the wheels fall off.

I was just trying to look into the Wimbledon history and found something interesting. Since the start of Open Era, it has happened only twice that none of the top 4 seeds made it to the semi-finals of Wimbledon. Which years were they?
The first time it happened was in 1992, yes the year Agassi won his first grand slam and his one and only Wimbledon trophy.
The next time it happened was in 1996, when Richard Krajicek, the current tournament director of the  ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, defeated MaliVai Washington to win his one and only grand slam. It was the one and only Grand Slam final appearance for both players during their careers.

Who were the party spoilers in those years? Let us have a look at the results of the top 4 players during those two years.

1992 Wimbledon:
The top 4 seeds at 1992 Wimbledon were:
Jim Courier,
Stefan Edgberg,
Michael Stich (the defending champion), and
Boris Becker.

Courier had routine straight set victories in the first 2 rounds. He lost his first set of his third round clash against Russian Qualifier, Andrei Olhovskiy, but bounced back to take the second set. Olhovskiy, however, was determined not to let Courier get past him and sent Courier home by winning the next 2 sets.
Edgberg, the second seed and two time Wimbledon champion (1988 and 1990) fell short in the quarter-finals to Ivanesevic, loosing in 5 sets.
Michael Stich, seeded 3rd, was the defending champion. He lost to future 7 time Wimbledon champion Pete Samprass in the quarter-finals in straight sets.
Boris Becker, the 4th seed, and 3 time former Wimbledon champion (1985-6 and 89) was sent home by the eventual champion Agassi in quarter-finals in 5 sets.
Agassi was seeded 12th and he defeated Ivanesevic, the 8th seed in the final in 5 sets to take home his first Grand Slam title (It would take him 3 more years to win another Grand Slam, the Australian Open in 1995).

1996 Wimbledon:
1996 marked the second year since the dawn of Open Era, that all the top 4 seeds fell before the semi-final stage. Infact not even a single top 10 player made it past the quarter-finals. The top 4 in 1996 were:
Pete Sampras (defending champion),
Boris Becker,
Andre Agassi, and
Goran Ivanesevic.

Only 2 of the top 10 players made it to the quarter-finals.
Pete Sampras, the top seed, was the three-time defending champion, but he was upset in the quarterfinals by 17th seed and eventual champion, Richard Krajicek, in straight sets. This would be Sampras' only loss at Wimbledon between 1993 and 2000. Krajicek was originally unseeded, but replaced 7th seed Thomas Muster in the draw, when Muster withdrew shortly before the start of the tournament.
Becker, the second seed, damaged his right wrist during his third-round match against Neville Godwin and was forced to withdraw from his match and hence tournament.
Agassi, the 3rd seed, was upset in the first round by Doug Flach. Agassi won the first routine set but lost next three tight sets to pack his bags and fly home.
Ivanesevic, the 4th seed, and 1992 and 1994 runner-up lost to unseeded Jason Stoltenberg in the quarter-finals in 4 tight sets. Ivanesevic, though went on to win his only Wimbledon trophy in 2001 as a Wild Card entrant.

Do you think that all the top 4 seeds, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, will fall before the semi-final stage this year? It does not seem likely that this year will add to the list of the above two years, given the current form and dominance of the big 4 at the majors, but you never know. What are your views???

* The pictures used in the article are not my property.

Federer or Haas (Halle Final Preview 2012)

Roger Federer breezed past Youzhny to make it to his 7th Halle Final. Federer served for the match at 5-2 but got broken, Youzhny saved match points on his serve but could not deny Federer a place in final. Haas meanwhile made good work of Kohlschreiber. It was a re-match of their meeting in the semi-finals of Halle back in 2009, which Haas won in the 3rd set tie break. Haas again walked off smiling but this time in two tight sets.
The final pits 2003-06 and 2008 champion, Federer against 2009 Halle champion, Haas. This is the 4th time in the past 5 years that a German has made it to the final (The exception being 2010)

Let us look into the final between Federer and Haas.

Description   Federer       Haas    
Match Record this year          36-5*     9-6*
H2H      10      2
H2H on grass        3      0
YTD Titles        4      0

* Do not include Halle wins.

Federer is through to his 105th tour level final (74-30), while Haas is into his 22nd tour level final (12-9). 2 of Federer's win on grass against Haas have come at the SF stage of Halle in 2005 and 2006.
Both Federer and Haas have lost serve only once on their way to the final. Federer lost his serve when serving for the match against Youzhny, while Haas lost his serve in his QF victory over 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Berdych.

Haas was impressive in serve stats in the semi-final, serving at 71% and winning 80% of those first serve points, Federer on the other hand served at 68% and winning 84% of his first serve points.

The last time they met was on the lawns of Wimbledon in the semi-finals. Federer, though won in straight sets but not after a fight put up by Haas. Federer won 76(3) 75 63. They have had quite few tight matches, Federer came back from 2 sets to love down to win the pair's clash in the fourth round at Roland Garros in 2009.
Federer said of Haas " Tommy and I share many years together on the tour and also our families are close,I’m happy for him that he made it so far and beat such top players. I hoped that he’d find his way into the tournament and would have a good run. He’s very dangerous on grass. So, it won’t be an easy final for me."

Pick: Federer in 3 sets

Who do you think will lay his hands on the trophy? Will it be Federer winning his 6th Halle trophy or will it be Haas winning his second Halle trophy?????
While you think, enjoy the highlights of Federer's win over Haas in the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2009.

* The video is not my property and can be found on you-tube here.

Aegon Championships Semi-Final Preview (2012)

Aegon Championships started with 3 top 10 players and overall 4 top 15 players highlighting the field, 2 of whom were last year's semi-finalists, Murray and Tsonga. However, come Saturday and none of them is left standing. The only seeds left in the draw are Marin Cilic, who will square off against American Querrey, and David Nalbandian, who will take on first time ATP tour level semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov.
Let us have a look into the semi-finals:

 Cilic (6) vs Querrey

Description    Cilic       Querrey   
Match Record this year         10-9     7-11
H2H       1       0
H2H on grass       1       0
YTD Titles       0       0

This is the pair's second meeting, their lone meeting came in 2009 at none other than the lawns of Wimbledon in the second round, Cilic walking off the court smiling after a hard fought 5 sets win over Querrey (46 76(3) 63 67(4) 64). Cilic in his last 7 tournaments has lost only once to a player ranked outside top 12, and it was at the hands of Kohlschreiber, ranked no. 34 at that time, in the final of Munich. Querrey has been unable to find the form he had before injuries and surgry took him out.
Cilic is the one of the 2 seeds left in the draw, the other being Nalbandian. However, he is the only player who has yet to loose a set. Querrey has lost 3 sets in making it to the semi-finals. Querry will be eager to avenge his 2009 Wimbledon loss, but given current form it is Cilic's match to loose.

Pick: Cilic in 2 sets

Nalbandian vs Dimitrov

Nalbandian has complied a 15-11 match record this season, Dimitrov on the other hand has only 7 wins in 15 matches played before coming to Aegon Championships.
It is the pair's first meeting and is unique in that it pits 2002 Wimbledon runner-up against 2008 boy's Wimbledon champion. Dimitrov is into his first tour level semi-final, Nalbandian on the other hand is a veteran with 11 titles in his bag, though none of them has come on grass courts.
Dimtrov has lost his serve 4 times and has lost only one set in making it to the SF's, Nalbandian on the other hand has lost 3 sets and has been broken 7 times so far in the tournament.
Nalbandian's career has been plagued by injuries, while Dimtrov has been looking for a breakthrough. Nalbandian has been relying on his match experience to make it to the semi-finals here and he will be the favourite in the first match up of the pair.
Dimotrov lets things get to his head and looses his cool quite often. Nalbandian took the court twice on Friday to complete his 3rd round match and then to contest his quarter-final match. Nalbandian must be feeling the effects when he takes the court today against Dimitrov.

Pick: Dimitrov in 2 sets

Who do you think has a better chance at making it to the finals? Enjoy :)

Friday 15 June 2012

Halle Semi-final Previews (2012)

The tournament had a great Friday which saw one of the two favourites falling short to make it to the semi-finals. The defending champion, Kohlschreiber, straight setted the 2010 Wimbledon champion to book a semi-final meeting with 2009 Halle champion, Haas. Haas made it to the semi-finals upsetting world no.7 Berdych in the quarter-finals. Federer, once again managed to dodge the missiles fired by Raonic, to make it to the 8th consecutive Halle semi-final. Youzhny, went down to the wire with Stepanek, to book his 13th meeting with Federer. Let us have an in-sight into the semi-finals:

(2) Federer vs Youzhny

Description   Federer    Youzhny  
Match Record this year         36-5   16-8
H2H      12      0
H2H on grass       4      0
YTD Titles       4      1

It will be a re-match of the pair's 4th encounter back in 2003 in the semi-finals of Halle. Youzhny won the first set, but Federer won the next 2 sets to take the match 4-6 76(4) 62.This is pair's 13th meeting, starting from 2000, where the pair first met at Stockholm, Youzhny won the first set but Federer bounced back to take the match in 3 sets. Since that meeting the pair has met 11 times (Technically 12 times, but Youzhny withdrew from the pair's match at Rotterdam this year in the Round of 16), with Youzhny taking only 2 sets off Federer. However both the sets were taken off on grass courts. The first being at the semi-finals of Halle back in 2003 and the other being on the lawns of Wimbledon in the fourth round last year.

3 of the pair's 4 meetings on grass have come at this very tournament in Halle. Will it be the 13th time lucky for Youzhny or will Federer continue his dominance over Youzhny? Federer is coming off a 3 set win over Raonic and must be feeling confident of his chances, while Youzhny is coming off a 3 sets win over Stepanek. Federer has not been broken during his run to the semi-finals, and he faced only one break point. Youzhny on the other hand has been broken 4 times. If Federer can keep his serve, it will be his match.

Pick:Federer in 2 sets

(8) Kohlschreiber vs (WC) Haas

Description   Haas              Kohlschreiber          
Match Record this year          9-6            22-12
H2H        1                1
H2H on grass        1               1
YTD Titles        0               1

This match pits former Halle champions against each other, Kohlschreiber, defending champion and 2008 finalist vs Haas, the 2009 champion. Interestingly both of their previous meetings have come on the grass courts of Halle and both have gone the distance.Kohlschreiber won in the 3rd set tie break 2008 during his run to the final of Halle (75 57 76(5)). Haas, however extracted revenge, the very next year when they met in the SF of Halle, winning 26 76(5) 76(3) during his run to the title of Halle.

Kohlschreiber made it to the semi-finals after defeating Nadal, 2010 Wimbledon champion, in straight sets in the QF and did so by winning 90% of his first serve points and saving all the 3 break points he faced. The confidence boost must be high. Haas on the other other hand made good work of Berdych, 2010 Wimbledon finalist. Kohlschreiber has yet to loose his serve while Haas was broken once during his QF victory over Berdych. Given the current form of both players, it must be a mouth watering match. It will come down to serves and nerves, whoever looses his serve and nerve will go down. It is a tough call but given Kohlschreiber is the fitter player and Haas has turned 34 and is coming over a 3 sets victory, he must be tired and feeling the effects of it. I would love to see Haas pulling it off, but I think Kohlschreiber has an edge.

Pick: Kohlschreiber in 3 sets

Who do you think has better chance at making it to the final? While thinking, enjoy the highlights of Federer's win over Raonic in quarter-finals of Halle.

*The video is not my property. It can be found on you-tube.

Thursday 7 June 2012

The Spanish Derby (Nadal(2) vs Ferrer (6) Roland Garros 2012 Semi-Final Preview)

We have block buster semi-finals at Roland Garros 2012 with Swiss Mastero vs Serbian Magician and the all Spanish affair. The Spanish Derby is set with Nadal aiming to reach his 7th Roland Garros final and have a shot at record breaking 7th Roland Garros title, while Ferrer who is in his first Roland Garros semi-final, aiming to reach his first ever Grand Slam final. On Wednesday,  3 Spaniards took the courts who had not lost a set so far in the tournament , however, only Nadal came out unharmed without loosing a set and sent Almagro home in straight sets, while Ferrer lost a set to Murray in the ensuing battle between the two.

Nadal will be the favourite when he takes on the court on Firday, as Ferrer has already said so:  "I think you can win a set to Rafa, but there is a difference between winning a set and winning a match. Winning a match against Rafa is almost impossible. He is in such good shape". Ferrer saying so, seems that he has already given up his hopes of beating Nadal, which will only make the job easier for Nadal.

Let us have a look into the clash:

Description    Nadal       Ferrer    
Match Record This year        38-7       38-4
H2H       15       4
H2H on clay       12       1

Ferrer's lone victory over Nadal on clay came in 2004 when they met for the first time in the QF of stuggart in 2004, since then Nadal has lost only 2 sets in the pairs 12 meetings on clay. The have already met twice on clay this year, in the final of Barcelona (Nadal won 76 75) and in the semi-finals of Rome (Nadal won 76 60).

Let us have a look at the stats regarding their performance so far in the tournament:

Description         Nadal             Ferrer       
1st Serve %          64%        67%
1st Serve Points Won          79%        74%
2nd Serve Points Won          61%        53%
Break Points Saved          94%        76%
1st Return Points Won          42%        40%
2nd Return Points Won              64%        64%
Break Points converted          60%        46%

Nadal has been broken only once in the tournament so far, while Ferrer has been broken 8 times. There is not a single department in the stats where Ferrer is better than Nadal (other than the 1st serve %age, that advantage too is neutralised by the %age won  by  both players).

Enjoy some highlights of the Nadal's win over Ferrer at Barcelona
Ferrer will have to play the match of his life if he is to have any chance against Nadal, but guessing from his recent press comments, it seems he has already given up on it. Let us hope for a great match.
Nadal in straight sets.

* The picture and the video used in this article are not my property.

Swiss Mastero vs Serbian Magician (Roland Garros 2012 Semi-Final Preview)

We could not have asked for more, the Former No.1 vs Current No.1, former 3 Slams holder vs current 3 Slams holder, Federer vs Djokovic. We are all in for a treat with the Swiss Serbain War and an all Spanish love affair. This is going to be the 26th chapter of the Swiss Serbian War and 10th part of their on court battles at Grand Slams. Federer won 14 of the previous 25 battles contested between the two. The Swiss Mastero holds a slim 5-4 edge in their encounters at Grand Slams. However, Djokovic has won 3 of the pair's last 4 encounters at Grand Slams.

Both come into this clash on the heels of epic comeback wins in their quarter-finals against dangerous opponents. Tsonga had Djokovic on the ropes, wasted 4 match points and Djokovic did not give him 5th. Del Potro at the same time had Federer in trouble as he won the first 2 sets, before his knee injury came back to trouble him in the last 3 sets, and Federer ran off with the last 3 sets to set this mouth watering clash.

Djokovic comes into this match having won the pair's 5 of last 6 encounters, most recent being a straight sets victory in the semi-finals of Rome. Djokovic will for sure have last year's match in his mind when he walks onto the court, where Federrer put an end to Djokovic's 41 match winning streak. Let us try to read into their clash!

Description      Djokovic      Federer    
Match Record this year      35-5      36-4
H2H        11        14
H2H on clay          2          3

Federer has been shaky throughout the tournament and having dropped 5 sets so far, will be a little less favourite, as compared to the World No.1 Djokovic. Djokovic himself was not so brilliant in his 5 set win over Tsonga, but he has been better, and given he won the pair's last encounter on clay in straight sets in the semi-finals of Rome just 3 weeks ago, Djokovic must be the favourite. I am a huge fan of Federer, and you must be pondering, why I, as a fan am not referring to their last year's encounter at the same stage in the same tournament. Well, last year the circumstances were different, Federer going into the match was playing well (though not better than Djokovic, but of-course better than his current year's form), but this year he has not been himself, although he has been able to win matches, but that spark, that brilliance, that authority is not there. We witnessed some of that in the last 3 sets of his quarter-final win over Juan Martin Delpotro, and if he has to have any chance against Djokovic, he must remain focussed and aggressive throughout the match. He has been having mental lapses for some time now, and if he has to make it to his 6th Roland Garros Final, he must not let those lapses come to him him during the match.

Djokovic is one of the best returners on the tour, and he will look to target Federer's backhand side, and if Federrer's backhand breaks down he will stand little chance against Djokovic. Serve will be most important for both players, the one who will take care of his serve better than the other will definitely stand a better chance. Federer will have to keep his unforced errors under control, while Djokovic will have to push Federer for more, and go for his shots from the start, if he is to make a trip to his first Roland Garros final and have a chance at creating history.

Let us have a look at their stats so far in the tournament.

Description DjokovicFedererComments
1st Serve   %67%60%Federer needs to improve on his first serve, if his to have any chance against Djokovic, otherwise the Serbian Magician will cast a spell on the Swiss Mastero's second serve.
1st Serve Points Won73%75%Not much difference in this department
2nd Serve Points Won61%62%Not much difference here either.
Break Points Saved16/2824/34Federer's serve has not been very good so far in this tournament, he will for sure look to improve in this department and will try to avoid being broken.
1st Return Points Won40%33%Djokovic will have to keep this up, if he wants to win it.
2nd Return Points Won53%55%Not much difference
Break Points Converted43%40%This will be the most crucial area for both players, who ever fares better in this category on the day, will be more likely to walk away smiling.

There is not much that separates the two at the moment, but we all know that it also depends greatly on the form of the player on the given day as well.

Let us have a look at the highlights of their epic encounter here last year.

The longer the match goes on, the better Federer's chances will be to win the match. Djokovic will be highly motivated to extract some revenge for the heart breaking loss he had last year here at the hands of Federer, which snapped his 41 match winning streak.. Djokovic has been to the final of 5 of the last 6 Grand Slams he has played, winning 5 of them. Federer on the other hand has been to the final of only 1 grand slam of the last 8 he has played. Whose time will it be? Will it be the Serbian Magician or the Swiss Mastero? Who are you rooting for??? Who do you think will be playing on Sunday and who will be packing his bags after the match???
The video and picture used in this article are not my property.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

3 Spanish Musketeers and A Scot [QF Preview RG 2012 - Nadal (2) vs Almagro (12) and Murray (4) vs Ferrer (6)]

A befitting day for Roland Garros yesterday, which saw world no.1 and last year's Roland Garros semi-finalist, Novak Djokovic, 4 times just one point away from going home, but every time he came back stronger to save that match point and ultimately break down his opponent in the decider. What added spice was Federer's thrilling come back win from two sets to love down to take the quarter-final match from Juan Martin Delpotro. There will be a block buster semi-final and a re-match of last year's Semi-final which saw Djokovic's 41 match winning streak come to an end at the hands of Federer. We will talk about it later. Let us have a look at what we have in store for today! Quite a day we have ahead of us, Nadal takes on Almagro and Murray takes on Ferrer. There are for sure going to be long long rallies and some spectacular shot making and I hope we are all in a for a treat today All 3 men who have yet to loose a set are here in this half of the draw and surprisingly all three are Spaniards. One of them is bound to loose 3 sets today, and that one will be either Nadal or Almagro, since they face each other for a spot in the semi-final. Let us break down the semi-finals:

Court Philippe Chatrier

Nadal (2) vs Almagro (12)

Let us start by having a look at the match record and head to head record of Nadal and Almagro.

Description   NadalAlmagro    
Match Record this year      37-11        38-11
H2H          7         0
H2H on clay        5         0

Almagro has won only 2 sets in his past 7 encounters with Nadal. This is Almagro's 3rd QF here at Roland Garros, and his last 2 losses here at this stage have come at the hands of none other than his rival today. Although their clash in 2010 QF was a close call, Nadal winning the first two sets in tie breaks and taking the third set 6-4. They have not met since that clash at Roland Garros. Will it be 3rd time lucky for Almagro here at Roland Garros?

On his way to quarter-finals Nadal has lost 3 or more games in only 2 sets out of the 13 sets he has so far played here, in the 2nd and 3rd set of his 3rd round win over Argentine Eduardo Schwank, whereas Almagro has only 2 sets out of the 12 played so far in which he lost less than 3 games and and surprisingly that too came in the 2nd and 3rd set of his 3rd round win over an Argentine (that too surprisingly) Leonardo Mayer. Almagro has a top 10 win in his bag so far in the tournament, which came when he defeated Serbian Tipsarevic in the 4th round.

Enjoy a few points from Nadal's 3rd round win over Schawank.*

Here, enjoy the best of Almagro vs Tipsarevic from the 4th round.*
Nadal is playing very well at the moment, but so is Almagro, if Almagro has to have any chance against Nadal, he will have to play a flawless match, a match of his life. Nadal is favoured to take the contest in straight sets, but I fancy Almagro taking a set or may be 2 from Nadal. The wise pick will be Nadal in straight sets, but I will take Almagro in 4 sets (I know most of you must be thinking that I have gone crazy, but hey what wrong can it do to, after all it is a prediction ;))

Court Suzanne Lenglen

Murray (4) vs Ferrer (6)

Let us start by having a look at the match record and head to head record of Murray and Ferrer.

Description   Murray   Ferrer   
Match Record this year      26-7           37-7
H2H       5       4
H2H on clay       0       3

Murray came into Roland Garros on the heels of a back pain that forced him not to participate in Madrid. He lost early in Rome too. Not many had picked Murray to make even the Quarters here, given the fact that clay is the Scot's worst surface, but here he is in the quarter-finals. Although he had a somewhat bumpy road, loosing the first set in his second round to Nieminen 6-1, but composed himself to walk away in four, and then again in his 4th round against home favourite Gasquet, he lost the first set by the same score-line but again he walked away in 4 sets. Interestingly the score-line of both matches is the same (1-6 6-4 6-1 6-2). Ferrer, on the other hand is one of the most tenacious guys on the tour, and he has been on a tear so far in Roland Garros, and too like Nadal, has conceded 4 games in only one set out of the 12 sets played so far, 2nd set of first round match against Lacko. He was quick and master-ful in dispatching 27th seed and former RG semi-finalist, Youzhny, in the 3rd round and 20th seeded Granollers in the 4th round. Clay is Ferrer's best surface and Murray's worst, add Murray's back problem to it as well. Murray has lost in all 3 of the pair's clay court encounters, though their last clay court clash came more than 2 years ago in the QF of Madrid, which Ferrer won in straight sets (7-5 6-3).

Enjoy Murray's win over Giraldo in the 3rd round.*

Enjoy the crazy point between Nadal and Ferrer in Rome 2010 encounter.*

Murray will have to play aggressively and will have to keep his unforced errors under control if he is to have any chance against Ferrer. He will have to be quick from the start, otherwise Ferrer will cruise by Murray if he establishes an upper-hand early on.

Given the current form and performance so far here at Roland Garrros, I will go with Ferrer in 4.
Let us hope for great matches. Enjoy!!!!!!!
*The video is not my property and is not owned by me, it can be found at you-tube via link:
hereherehere and here