Tag Archives: tsonga

Wimbledon: Men’s semi-finals

30 Jun

(Just a quick side note: This quickly written piece about the men’s semis will be my last entry for a few days – I’m off on a weekend away to celebrate my best friend’s birthday. Check back on Sunday evening for a Wimbledon Top 10 entry or a review of the tournament. In the meanwhile – enjoy the awesome weekend of tennis!)

The second Friday of the Wimbledon fortnight is the day on which the men’s semi-finals are contested. After 128 men started the tournament 12 days ago, only four remain. The semi-finals to be contested are Novak Djokovic vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Rafael Nadal vs. Andy Murray.

Semi-final 1: Novak Djokovic vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

The biggest upset of the tournament came in the men’s quarter-finals on Wednesday with the loss of title favourite Roger Federer. The six-time former champion looked set to win when he went two-sets to love up. His opponent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did not however accept defeat and went on to win the match in five sets. He became the first man to come back from a two set deficit against Federer in a grand slam match.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia will be Tsonga’s semi-final opponent. Djokovic had a far tougher quarter-final match against Bernard Tomic than most expected. Tomic, an 18-year old Australian, won the second set to make it a best of three set match. He then went up a break in the third set and it seemed like more than one upset could be on the cards. Tomic was however reeled in by Djokovic who took the third and fourth sets to win the match despite his inability to consistently play at a high level.

 Tsonga – who was on fire against Federer particularly in the final two sets – will be hoping his serve remains in good shape. If he does serve at a level consistent with his performance in the previous match it is it is likely that he will give the world number 2 a serious challenge. Djokovic will be fancying his chances against the Frenchman to whom he has lost more often than not in the past. Tsonga might lead their head-to-head record 5-2, but Djokovic is the grand slam winner of the two and possesses a 41-1 record for the year to date. While Djokovic has undoubtedly been the best player in the world for much of the year, his form during Wimbledon has been sub par, and certainly not at a standard with which he will be satisfied. If his form fails to improve it is likely the match result will be on Tsonga’s racket. It is however doubtful that the flamboyant Frenchman will be able to maintain the level of play required to beat Djokovic for more than a couple of sets. As such, Djokovic ought to win. If his form improves to anything like it was prior to and during the French Open, he ought to win with relative ease.

My pick: Djokovic in five.

Semi-final 2: Rafael Nadal vs. Andy Murray

Much of the focus on Rafael Nadal has revolved around his injury problems – or if you prefer, the lack thereof. Regardless of the validity of his injury claims, he doesn’t seem to be suffering much and moved about as well as ever in his previous match against Mardy Fish. His injury problems are thus unlikely to have an effect on his performance during the final weekend of Wimbledon. Despite Fish managing to take a set off the defending champion, Nadal was very much the dominant player throughout the match. In addition to his brilliant form at the Championships, he is still enjoying the momentum provided by his win at the French Open.

His semi-final opponent is British hope Andy Murray. This is Murray’s third consecutive appearance in the final four at Wimbledon. He is due an appearance in the finals. The Brit’s form has been at a high level for the duration of the grass court season with a title win at the Queen’s Club tournament to his credit.

While Murray’s record against Nadal leaves much to be desired with Nadal leading 11 to 4, the British man has been playing some inspired tennis in the last few rounds of the tournament and is certainly capable of beating the Spaniard for a fifth time. This will still however be a tough assignment for Murray. Left-handed Nadal has developed a taste for grass since his first appearance at Wimbledon and will be the favourite to win the match. Nadal will be playing great tennis; whether or not he wins will be determined by the attitude and play Murray brings to the court. His best could send the defending champion packing.

My pick: Incredibly difficult to call, I’m hoping for a dramatic five-setter with the home favourite leaving the victor. As such I’m going with Murray in five, but I also know that Nadal could win in straights should Murray fail to show up with his absolute best.

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The French Open Draw: Men

20 May

The French Open men’s draw is somewhat easier to analyze than the women’s. For starters – not everyone can win. It’ll almost certainly be one of the top 4, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Andy Murray. They’re almost like the English Premier League Big 4 at the moment. Nadal and Djokovic consistently on top form, not unlike Chelsea and Man U, Federer would be Liverpool, older, wiser, solid, but lacking in spark and motivation. Murray is Arsenal. Highly inconsistent, can beat any one on a good day, and fun to watch. Enough of my abstract analogy – the point is, one of the four will win. All there really is to consider, is who in each quarter of the draw might prevent each of them from reaching the semi’s and how will the semi’s and final pan out…

Nadal’s Quarter:

Nadal has quite an interesting section of the draw. In the 3rd he could face Nikolay Davydenko, which on paper should be a good match up, but when you consider the Russian’s recent form, it’s unlikely that he will truly bother Nadal. In the 4th he could face fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco. Their friendship is likely to be mentioned as a factor making it an interesting match up, most likely this will not affect the outcome, Nadal has never really struggled with closing out matches, as other players might against a friend. On the other hand, (quite literally) the fact that Verdasco is a lefty might make the match interesting, probably not in terms of who wins, but at least will serve as an indicator of the kind of form Nadal is in. If his form isn’t at a desirable level it will often show in that he struggles a little bit in matches against left-handed, lower quality players. In the quarter’s, he could come up against the man who halted him two years ago, Robin Soderling. While this is likely to be a good match, I think the odds are highly in favour of Nadal winning. He is the superior clay courter, the French is his home court to a large extent. This match is more likely to resemble last year’s rout in the final, than the surprise Soderling win of 2009.

Murray’s Quarter:

Murray is not a brilliant clay court player. Despite this, the fact that he has a fairly easy part of the draw means that he is likely to still reach the semi finals relatively unscathed. A match against young up-and-comer Milos Raonic in the 3rd round ought to be interesting. It is unlikely that the young Canadian will have much effect on the clay with his hard-hitting game though. Murray will progress to face 8th seed, Jurgen Melzer, in the quarter finals. While Murray is the inferior clay court player, he should be able to take advantage of the Austrian player’s inconsistent game, and reach the semi finals.

Federer’s Quarter:

His first round match will be a telling encounter against another Spanish lefty. While it should serve as in interesting measure of Federer’s form, it is unlikely that Feliciano Lopez will challenge him for a win. While many will feel that the likely 3rd round encounter between Federer and Janko Tipsarevic will be a test for Federer, I think that Federer will continue on to the 4th round with relative ease. A fourth round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Stanislas Wawrinka will make for good viewing, but is still a match Federer should by all accounts win. As is the quarter final, which according to seedings, should be against David Ferrer.

Djokovic’s Quarter:

With the unbeaten run Djokovic is on, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to mount a challenge of note against him at least until the semi’s. Matchups he is likely to face include the always dangerous Juan Martin Del Potro, hometown favourite, Richard Gasquet and Tomas Berdych, who is capable of beating anyone on a good day. Of these, only Del Potro ought to be able to get more than a set off him, and will be an intriguing encounter that I for one won’t miss.

Semi Final 1: Nadal vs Murray

Despite Nadal having a few tough matches, he ought to get through, as should Murray, largely by virtue of his significantly easy draw.

Semi Final 2: Federer vs Djokovic

Federer is still the 3rd ranked player in the world, and hellishly dangerous. As such, he ought to  make it thru his quarter home safe. While Djokovic is likely to have a particularly tough match in the 3rd round against Del Potro, he is currently the best player in the world, and other than that match should make the semi’s relatively unhindered.

Final: Nadal vs Djokovic

Don’t bet against Nadal on clay. Murray is not as capable on clay as he would like. So I have to pick Nadal for that half of the draw. On the other side, I would love to see yet another, maybe final Federer vs Nadal classic, but I honestly don’t think the king has what it takes at the moment to challenge Djokovic on current form. It’s my opinion that Djokovic will struggle more against Del Potro in the 3rd, than against Federer in the semi’s.

Winner: Nadal

Don’t bet against Nadal on clay.

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