Monday, December 31, 2007

They're baaack! (the pro tennis players, that is)...

And so am I!

With the Australian swing kicking off this weekend marking the start of the '08 season, I'm ready to get in at the start of the year with this blog. (I started last year around Wimbledon). And not only will I be writing and making picks on the season ahead, but I'm gonna document in full a personal goal I have: To be among the top 10 4.0 players in the tri-state area. (The "Oh yeah, I play tennis, too" series will continue!)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Holiday wish list

Whew!

So the U.S. won the Davis Cup, which has made my year as a sports fan. I was telling a friend of mine that that is like his favorite football team winning the Super Bowl. I hope there will be nothing but good things coming for those guys after pulling it off. I'm sure there will be less tension as they play their matches in ties now because they know they can get it done. I'm also hoping it pays off for them on the main tour, too. Here's my wish list for these guys in the year ahead:

For Andy Roddick: Unless you run into Roger Federer, you should be in some Slam final at the three you usually contend at:The Aussie, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. And hopefully, you can add another major title to your U.S. one. I still think you can do without Jimmy Connors in your corner (I hear Brad Gilbert's looking for a job!)

For James Blake: A return to the top 10 and a deep run at a major. Beating Mikhail Youzhny was the biggest win of your career, and since you did it once, there's no reason not to expect to do it again. Losing to Fernando Gonzalez, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Tommy Haas at the three majors best suited for your game this year are bad losses if you want to get to a point of making a breakthrough. You can do it man! Come on, 2008 is your year!

For the Bryan Brothers: For the guys who have nearly everything and have just completed one of the most dominant seasons ever, what do you ask for? How about even more dominance? This is a statement requesting something that only a few people in the history of the game have achieved, but I really, really think it's time to start thinking about the Grand Slam. In my eyes, nothing less will do!

But anyway, congrats to the team and here's hoping those four have a great '08.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Three games away!

The headline says it all! (I'm such a Davis Cup nut!)

Glad to admit I was wrong

Way to go, JB! That was definitely the biggest win of his career beating Youzhny: I swear I didn't think he had it in him. With the Bryan brothers going today, that should be it: The U.S.'s first Cup in 12 years. Also, Andy Roddick's performance was pretty impressive. Mere hours away from those guys lifting the Cup!

Friday, November 30, 2007

The moment I've been waiting for

The highlight of my tennis season is nearly upon us:

The Davis Cup final kicks off today in mere hours! The U.S. versus Russia in Portland, winner takes all! I wish I would've made a post before this one so I could look like a genius, but I knew Russia was gonna leave Nikolay Davydenko out of the singles lineup, seeing as how he's barely won sets against James Blake and Andy Roddick. I think Davydenko's the favorite whipping boy among the top 10 for both of those guys.

Being from the U.S. and all, of course I'm root, root, rooting for the home country, but if Russia were to come through, I wouldn't be too upset because it would be a hell of a feat the team would accomplish. I say all this because I'm a little nervous: Dmitry Tursonov and Mikhail Youzhny have been on Cup-winning teams and I don't think the situation will affect them too much, playing on the road against a vocal crowd. Plus, they're both pretty good fast-court players.

The way the first day's draw shakes up is interesting and I'm saying this right now: I think it'll come down to a split. I like Roddick blasting Tursonov off the court first up. He should come out trying to serve big and hit big forehands (as he's apt to do. Duh, Van!) But few guys on tour hit as hard as Tursonov, so he'll have to be careful.

I think Youzhny can take Blake in four: And it's not that Mikhail is better than James. Far from it, in fact. But I just question Blake's mental fortitude, and he's never played in anything this big in his career to really test it. I hope James spent the past few weeks talking to a sports psychologist to get ready for this tie. I would like for him to come through, but I just can't see it.

I'll be following the live scoring all day from work on the computer and post something later on.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

They are the champions, my friends

I figured I'd comment on both of the season-ending championships in one fell swoop; you know, a consolidating my motions type thing.

First, since it was so long ago: The women in Madrid and the finalists, Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin. It was a tough one, but Henin capped off the year with another victory. I was a little more impressed with Maria making it to the finals, though, after hardly playing over the past few months. But Henin did deserve it. I mentioned this in an earlier post around Wimbledon, how I'm a big fan of historical sports accomplishments. I'll be rooting hard for Justine to come through at the Big W next year to cap off a career Slam. She deserves it.

On the men's side last weekend in Shanghai, how about that R-Fed? This was an odd year to me for him, seeing as he lost, what, a whole nine matches? But he concluded the season with another big title over surprise finalist David Ferrer (see previous post). Until the end of his career, I'm gonna be rooting for him to win the French, to wrap up that career Slam of his own.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The best-laid plans...

I just woke up, hopped in the shower and started thinking right away of a game plan for Andy Roddick to beat Roger Federer in the Masters Cup final, since I figure I should be coaching Roddick. (I'm not a fan of the Connors-John Roddick team AT ALL.) I figured first thing he needs to get out of his head is this "addition" he's made to his game: using his weak one-handed slice to get into the net. R-Fed eats that up.

Then, when he's serving, Andy should throw in a ton of kickers and sliders on both sides the majority of the time, then throw in some 140 bangers every now and then. He needs to be more Greg Maddux out there instead of Roger Clemens (a little baseball reference there for ya). Get Roger thinking instead of sitting on fastballs.

On his return game, when he gets the ball in play, don't think going for winners so much: Try to construct a point. If you have one of the top 10 biggest forehands in history, that should be able to be pulled off as to where you could at least start having more positive results in your head-to-head meetings with the guy.

However, all this is moot now as I logged on to atptennis.com and saw Andy got DUSTED by David Ferrer.

I guess I shouldn't have been looking ahead.

Friday, November 9, 2007

From the mouths of poisoned tennis players

The madness continues!

Aside from another player saying he was offered money to tank a match (Jan Hernych) and Nikolay Davydenko's family being questioned, plus the probe of Allesio di Mauro for betting on other matches, there's allegations Tommy Haas was poisoned!!! That's the craziest thing I've heard of. Hopefully it's just that: allegations.

But before that news hit, Haas said probably the most important statement made yet in regard to these gambling charges sweeping through the game: All these players coming out saying they were offered money should name names! Are families being threatened and that's why they're not saying anything? If that's what the players are thinking, then that doesn't make sense, because if you're out there saying you were offered money then whoever is offering the money would come after you anyway because they're afraid you would rat them out. At least that's how they'd do it on "The Sopranos"!

That's the tack the ATP should be pursuing: Get these players (particularly Arnaud Clement, whose comments infuriated me) to name names!

Read the second paragraph here to see what Clement said:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tennis/7068456.stm

Maybe Tommy Haas should be the ATP commissioner. He's the only one offering any kind of solution to what's going on.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What a crazy day!

If memory serves me correctly, this has been the craziest day ever in pro tennis (at least in my 20 years following it.)

To recap:

• The Hingis retirement and drug scandal: Whoa! Where did all this come from? I mean, I figured her body was giving out on her and she wasn't much longer for the game, but to throw in some positive drug test news in your speech? Whoa (again!) I'm really willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, particularly after she laid out everything that happened. I think she's safe from any major controversy dogging her into retirement--or at least I hope.

• Speaking of controversy: Nikolay Davydenko should make that his middle name. At this point, I don't know what to think. Maybe a little Elena Dementieva-Anna Kournikova action is snaking its way into his service motion. I'm still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, too, because I don't think anyone could be so blatant as to tank matches like the way he's been losing them. I wonder if the umpires have a target on him. I think the best thing for him to do, if he's innocent, is to skip Shanghai, sit down with the ATP and say, "Hey, whatever you want to know, I'll tell you."

• And down goes Roger: David Nalbandian took out R-Fed again! Is it a return to the old days in the rivalry? It looks like there are two guys that are in Roger's head again. I've seen matches Roger's lost to these baseliners like Nalbandian, Canas and Nadal, and I can see him losing to Nadal because that kid's a monster, but the other two, I just don't get. Federer's still the baddest man on the planet, but I think after watching how this year went, the next couple can get kind of dicey. That's just my guess.

• A slammed door on Shanghai: Not as big as the other three, but a few guys got eliminated from going to Shanghai: James Blake, Tommy Haas and Tomas Berdych, three in my opinion, who definitely did not deserve to go the way they haven't stepped up. I think Andy Murray will get that final spot, but it seems like Tommy Robredo's been playing OK, so who knows?

What a day indeed!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

When in the prediction business, always go with Roger

So it looks like I got two out of six of my finalist predictions right, with R-Fed and Andy Murray making finals. But it wouldn't be "predictions" if you got everything right, right?

I really like the way Murray's playing heading down the stretch and I hope he makes it to Shanghai because at least he's stepping up, unlike the other 20 contenders for those final three spots in the eight-man field. I like to see guys earn their way in and it looks like he's the only doing that so far: winning the matches he's supposed to. James Blake's not playing too well (I know he just lost a tough one to Karlovic, but man, top 10 players have to close out matches when they have match points! Maybe playing in the doubles final in Switzerland can give him some confidence); I can't remember the last time Tommy Haas did anything; and Fernando Gonzalez and Tommy Robredo have both slacked off after winning titles this fall.

On the women's side and their race to the end-of-the-year event in Madrid, there's only two spots left, and it looks like it could be Venus and Daniela Hantuchova making gains toward those places. It would be good for the women's game if both Williams sisters made it (and hopefully play in it, too, without bagging out due to injury or fatigue or something.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em

Plenty of indoor action heating up in the race for Shanghai on the ATP. But I guess the biggest news (and you know it's big when you see the headline on the front page of Yahoo!) is what's going on in St. Petersburg and (the accused of gamblin' man) Nikolay Davydenko.

Of course, I wasn't at the match, but I wonder: Is there a target on Nikolay's back? How many times do you hear of a player getting warned for lack of effort? I'm willing to give Nikolay the benefit of the doubt on this one because I know I've seen players hit a bad patch after dominating for a while. And I definitely hope that's all there is to it because nobody under such scrutiny for possibly throwing matches could be that stupid to try it again, right?

Anyway, I want to make some final-round predictions for these ATP tournaments this week:

In the aforementioned St. Pete, I'm going with Andy Murray over Ernie Gulbis in his first career final. I think Andy's playing the best of the Shanghai contenders.

In Switzerland, it'll be R-Fed over the Bagh Man (Roger Federer over Marcos Baghdatis for the unitiated!). Then Roger will withdraw from Paris, citing fatigue or something.

In Lyon, Ivan Ljubicic over my man Jo-Willie, aka Jo-Wilifred Tsonga, also making his finals debut this weekend.

You've read it here first: Barring injury, Gulbis and Tsonga will be top-15 players by the end of next year.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Outside influences (or "Oh yeah, I play tennis, too: The saga continues")

This weekend was supposed to be my last sanctioned tournament that I was competing in for the year. It was also my last chance to win one before I went half my life without lifting the first-place trophy. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Well, it couldn't happen if I didn't even play the tournament!

I bailed on entering because my preparation over the past couple of weeks has been pretty nonexistent for a variety of reasons: The weather's been kind of bad outside (I wanted to practice on hard courts at the local park because that's what the tournament was on), I couldn't find anyone to hit with even if the weather was good and most importantly, girl issues, which really, REALLY made it hard to get motivated. I'll spare all the major details, but needless to say a little bit of the broken-hearted blues really sucked.

There is a tournament that I'm playing in in December at my club that I'm gonna really try to gear up for. But I really wanted to beat that half-of-my-life mark. A lot of it's on me that it didn't happen, but things on the outside can make a big difference, too, as any tennis player can attest to.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

They're number 1 (at least this week)

As I mentioned in my last post, I'd make my picks for the winners in this week's tournaments, and on the men's side (I hope this isn't seen as too much of a copout), but I'm picking the top seeds Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko and James Blake to come through in Vienna, Moscow and Stockholm, respectively. So it doesn't seem so much like I'm just going with the favorites, I'll pick their final-round opponents: Djokovic over Fernando Gonzalez; Davydenko over Paul-Henri Mathieu and Blake over Tommy Haas (even though I'm sure for Blake, he'd trade this one for that U.S. Open fourth-rounder.)

For the women, I'm going for a Williams sister weekend: Serena in Moscow and Venus in Bangkok.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Inside information

The indoor season on both sides has been in full swing (particularly in the couple of weeks since I last updated the blog: sorry about that! Geez, I missed the whole Asia swing!) All this leads up to the respective end-of-the-year tournaments for the ATP and WTA, which I feel is a pretty exciting time if you're a tennis fan.

I remember back in the day (late '80s, early-to-mid '90s), when the only players winning indoor tournaments were the rocket servers on the men's side, from Becker to Ivanisevic to Sampras to Kraijcek, and the "big babes" (to quote Mary Carillo), such as Davenport, the Williams sisters and Graf. But I think the indoor game is good now because you have more baseliners standing a chance.

The ATP has tournaments in Stockholm, Vienna and Moscow (actually a co-ed event) going on this week, while the women, beside Moscow, are also playing in Thailand. Something to watch for this week among both tours is the fact that Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano is making Asia her personal playground, having already won two tournaments over the past two weeks and taking her first match today.

I have some ideas about what's going to happen in these tournaments: As a round or two gets knocked out, I'll post my picks.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tsk, tsk, tsk, Lleyton, Tommy and Thomas (and the captains, too)

I just woke up and checked out daviscup.org to see what's transpiring in the ties around the world (told you I'm a fan!) and I saw some of the wackiest matchups I think I ever have seen in my years of following the cup:

Mikhail Youzhny vs. Phillip Petzschner: Who? The story hasn't been updated yet, but from what I did see, it said Tommy Haas wasn't "feeling well."

Jonas Bjorkman vs. Andy Roddick: What? In the first match of the day, when the U.S. can clinch the tie? Note to Mats Wilander: The year is 2007, not 1997, back when Jonas might have had a chance. On behalf of the U.S., we thank you for this gift to clinch the tie. You'd think Thomas Johansson would've been jonesing to get back on the court after the clinic he put on against James Blake. By the time I get through typing this sentence, Bjorkman-Roddick should be over and Andy should be over on the sideline hugging P-Mac.

Novak Djokovic vs. Chris Guccione: Huh? The story says Lleyton Hewitt woke up with a "viral infection." First, why was he playing doubles yesterday, when it's obvious you needed him for singles? Djokovic-Hewitt was gonna be the best matchup of the whole weekend. Too bad it's not happening. And Tennis Australia, you should rethink how things are going: with your program and John Fitzgerald as captain. He's made some weird decisions in the past, like if I remember correctly, sitting Todd Woodbridge from playing doubles, which makes no sense at all.

Oh, and Andy's up two sets to none on Jonas, with three break points in the third, so I guess I was a little off in my estimate of the match time, but not much.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I dreamed of Davis Cup

This weekend coming up is one of my favorite times on the ATP tennis calendar: the Davis Cup semifinals. And what's funny is I think I'm the last American die-hard fan of the event.

I wouldn't say I'm overly patriotic or anything, even though I am a big fan of the Olympics. Maybe it's the team camaraderie spirit of it all. Anyway, when I was a kid, playing in the juniors and thinking like all other juniors that I was gonna go pro one day, being named to the U.S. Davis Cup team was my dream--even more so than winning a Slam. I remember thinking my doubles partner and I could make it as a team (we were ranked among the top-five teams in Alabama our last two years in the juniors), but alas, it wasn't meant to be. But Davis Cup is something that's always captivated me, probably from about 1988 on.

Anyway, I think this is the best shot the U.S. has in years to take home the title. I'm not expecting much resistance against Sweden for the guys. It's gonna be a bunch of big hitting in that tie, and I think Blake and Roddick hit a little bit bigger. My only concern about this tie is if Joachim Johansson sneaks into the singles lineup. Davis Cup does some inspirational things to guys who have been injured: Take the Henri Leconte performance in '91, for instance.

On the other side, Russia should be able to sweep Germany on the clay, even though Germany's Phillip Kohlschreiber (he of my Wimbledon-quarterfinal picks fame) has had some decent results on the dirt this year.

I believe the deal is if the U.S. wins and Russia wins, the U.S. hosts the final. The U.S. would travel to Germany if they both win. I never can get those scenarios right!

But aside from the semis, there's some pretty exciting ties on tap in the playoffs, with these being the best ones, in my opinion: Great Britain-Croatia (So long, Tim!); Switzerland-Czech Republic (It's up to Stan the Man Wawrinka to help out R-Fed in his cameo appearance); and Serbia-Australia (I know Lleyton Hewitt and Novak Djokovic are up for the challenge; it's gonna come down to their less-heralded teammates not being overcome by the pressure.)

Davis Cup: Gotta love it!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Four-gone conclusion

I'm kind of late wrapping up the men's final at the Open here, but it went pretty much how 99.9 percent of the population thought: Another Roger Federer triumph.

A funny thing about my experience with the final: I left to go to the gym when Djokovic had those three set points in the first set. I was just going there to ride the exercise bike and I figured I'd be able to watch a lot of the match there. So I get there about midway through the second set and as I was looking at the scoreline, I kept reading it like Novak had won the first set. It wasn't until the second-set tiebreak that I realized Federer had won the first! Duh! Always look at the score carefully and don't assume anything, particularly when Federer's involved!

About that point: I can't recall seeing Federer facing the tests he did from the third round on, basically. Dropping those sets to John Isner and Feliciano Lopez, then being in REAL tight spots against Andy Roddick, Nikolay Davydenko and Djokovic. You hope guys take it to heart they pushed the guy and figure maybe they're closing the gap. But unfortunately, and I hate to be the bubble burster, but guys, you're still miles away from him. R-Fed just wiped out any precarious situation he was in and then rolled--against some of the best hard courters in the game today.

Just a few months ago, I remember it coming up about what would happen if the guy actually got taken out of his comfort zone at a Slam and the match got tight. Would he have the wherewithal to come through after not being tested for a few years? I think it's safe to say he answered that at Wimbledon in the finals and only confirmed it in New York.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

This may sound crazy...

but I was thinking here, right before the men's final comes on: I almost have this sense of deja vu about this match. It almost has that Safin-Sampras 2000 final feel to it.

Aw, what am I thinking? R-Fed in four. (But what if?)

Big things in small packages

Standing tall yet again, pocket dynamo Justine Henin's wrapped up another Slam, winning her second U.S. Open title with a pretty thorough smashing of Svetlana Kuznetsova. What if Henin had been in shape, mentally and physically, for Australia? What if she hadn't been monumentally upset by Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon? We could've been talking about this as a completion of a calendar Slam. She pretty much has the French locked up, unless she's hit by injury, for next year. She's won the Aussie before and knows what it takes to get it done there. And what she did at this U.S. Open, beating the other two Slam titlists of the year--the Williams sisters--pretty convincingly, has to give her confidence for next year's Wimbledon.

That top half of the draw she played through was one of the toughest I've seen on the women's side at a major for a while. I guess it's a testament to her ability and will, to still be able to put it on Kuznetsova like she did. And congrats to Svetlana for doing what Sharapova couldn't do: take advantage of her opportunities. But Svetlana's been playing at a pretty high level all year, making a ton of finals, so I guess it shouldn't be too unexpected.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The week that was ...

Before the Labor Day festivities kick off at the Open, I wanted to take a look back at some of the big things that happened last week at the tournament. There were notable accomplishments, a lot of shockers and a LOT of my picks getting knocked off! But I can't be too bad a sport about that, I guess!

• Not feeling so "pretty" anymore: Maria Sharapova getting knocked off was the biggest thing in the week. And she's really gotta be hating life: What an easy draw! It was set up for her to let everyone in the top to beat each other up and she would be just ready to pick up the title. But I guess that's why "you play the game." (A little football quote from former New York Jets coach Herm Edwards!)

• Young (and tall) Americans: Donald Young and John Isner really showed something this tournament here. Young played solidly in that loss to Lopez and Isner made Federer think a little bit before going down. I think these two really have it.

• Sisters doing it for themselves: Well, Serena Williams is right where I expected her to be, and I'm still gonna go with Justine Henin in that QF matchup, but I thought Ana Ivanovic would have gotten Venus. Oh well, looks like I'm on course to be proved wrong about picking against the sisters once again!

• Five alive: James Blake finally did it! He won a five-setter against the trickiest player of all time, Fabrice Santoro. And my butt sores are evidence that I sat through the whole Novak Djokovic-Radek Stepanek match! What a match to catch live in my annual "First Friday of the Open" excursion.

• So long Tim: Being out there Friday, I also got to see the Tim Henman-Jo-Wilifried Tsonga match, which proved to be Tim's last in tournament play. I really wish that guy could've taken a Slam because he was such a solid player and had a great career. I said to my friend Melissa, who I go to the tournament with, while we were watching the match: "You know, if he only had a bigger serve where he could've won more free points at Wimbledon, like Pete and Goran did ..."

• Keep on rollin': The number ones, Roger Federer and Justine Henin, might as well have gotten byes into the fourth round--even though R-Fed did drop that set.

• Not-so weak in the knees: Rafael Nadal, with a little laser treatment every couple of days on both his aching knees, is getting through comfortably enough now, but we'll have to see how he holds up. I still like Djokovic on the bottom half of the draw coming through.

• Don't stop believin': I say that to myself because my predictions for this tournament got wrecked! Kiefer? Gonzalez? Mirza? But that's what makes it fun, making the tough calls!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

And now, for the ladies

Whew!

Looking back at past postings, I found a disclaimer: I only have to pick a Williams sister to make Wimbledon finals, not all of the majors! But should I anyway? That top half of the draw has both of them in it, plus anyone else ready to make a claim for the title. I think with everyone beating each other up up there, they're gonna be too tired for whoever comes out of the bottom half. So I'm looking at a repeat from Ms. "oh I'm so pretty."

Here we go:

Justine Henin vs. Serena Williams: Both of these two should get through pretty easily, even though in Henin's section, there's a couple of players I'm perplexed by that haven't done more with their careers, namely Tatiana Golovin and Dinara Safina. They're both capable of beating her from a talent standpoint, but just don't have the mental capacity. And I think it's pretty amazing Serena can go months without tournament play and still make it to the quarters, but the run ends here for her.

Elena Demetiava vs. Ana Ivanovic: I'm picking Elena to come through her fourth-round match with Jankovic in an upset: Jelena's really slowed down over the past few months. And Ana should be able to top Venus in the fourth.

Daniela Hantuchova vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova: Talk about a soft portion of the draw! Svetlana should cruise through this section. Martina Hingis is in this part and she hasn't done much for a while now, except break up with Radek Stepanek and team up with Ana Ivanovic to beat Andy Roddick and wrestling superstar John Cena on Arthur Ashe Kids' Day.

Sania Mirza vs. Maria Sharapova: The Indian Express has been playing well this summer: advancing in singles draws and winning doubles tournaments left and right. I think she'll knock off Anna Chakvetadze in the third round. But in the quarters waiting for her will be Sharapova, who will have dropped 10 games in four matches at that point.

Semifinals:
Henin vs. Ivanovic: Ana's good and will only get better, but she's still not ready to knock off Henin at this stage in a major.
Sharapova vs. Kuznetsova: Svetlana will push her, but she should still go down.

Finals:
Sharapova over Henin in straights: Maria's draw was just too easy. Henin should be commended for making it through to that point.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

"If they can make it here..."

It's officially my favorite tennis time of the year: The U.S. Open is a day and a half away! One of my favorite things to do is to make predictions for the majors and of course, the Open is no exception. But not only do I pick the winners and runners-up, I go as far back as the quarterfinals. (I would post my round-of-16 picks, but that might look a little too obsessive!)

Anyway, here I go, starting with the men:
Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick: (If there ever was a stage in a tournament Roddick wanted to avoid R-Fed, this is it. After this match Andy, dump Jimbo and your brother and see if you can get a coach that helps you make adjustments.)

Nicolas Kiefer vs. James Blake: I'm picking Kiefer to come through a pretty weak part of the draw: Davydenko's been playing pretty iffy and Andy Murray hasn't been playing at all. Blake and Sam Querrey in the third round should be a good one, if James isn't tired from all the tennis he's been playing. Tommy Haas or Marcos Baghdatis could test JB in the fourth round, but he should come through.

Mardy Fish vs. Novak Djokovic: I know I said I was giving up on Mardy after Wimbledon, but this draw is so easy for him. If he blows it this go around ... I mean, come on! I could get through a couple of rounds in this section! But Djokovic should put it on him, especially if he gets through the toughest section of the tournament, with three of his first four opponents probably being Mario Ancic, Radek Stepanek and Lleyton Hewitt.

Fernando Gonzalez vs. Rafael Nadal: Gonzalez has been pretty much off the radar after making it to the finals of the Italian Open, but a soft draw should help him out here. Too bad he'll be running up against R-Nad in the quarters, who should be pretty rested and I'm assuming healed up for this tournament.

Semifinal picks:
Federer vs. Blake: Blake breaks through! But too bad about who he'll face on Super Saturday.
Djokovic vs. Nadal: This is the third big semi in a row for them, but I'm predicting a reverse from the other two.

Final:
Federer vs. Djokovic

Winner: Federer in four.

Tomorrow, the women (and as per my Wimbledon posts, I have to pick a Williams sister!)

Will it be too much tennis?

In New Haven, local legend James Blake has made another final this summer and will play against his best buddy Mardy Fish, who beat Ivo Karlovic in straights. Blake, meanwhile, played another three-setter this tournament, beating Paul-Henri Mathieu in a third-set breaker.

But will this week catch up with him heading into the U.S. Open? Gutting out a couple of these matches like he has this week was a good sign. Maybe that can translate into some five-set success. I just wonder if he'll still be in top shape for the final Slam, where he actually has a pretty good draw, with the toughest player I see in it being Sam Querrey. He gets past that, I see him going further and playing on Super Saturday--IF his body holds up.

And while I got it right on the women's side with Kuznetsova getting through, who saw Agnes Szavay making it? I just knew it would be Mirza, who's had a great summer. I still expect her to punch a hole in the draw at the Open.

Speaking of draws and Opens and all, I'll be making my quarterfinal predictions, so feel free to comment!

Monday, August 20, 2007

If only they'd read Tennis Talk, Anyone? before their matches

I tried to spell it out for Blake and Jankovic to do what they needed to do against Federer and Henin, respectively, but did they check this site out? Nooo! In their defense, I guess they were both going up against two of the greatest players ever. The score lines pretty much followed the previous six ones: Federer blows out Blake and Henin beats Jankovic in a tight one. I still don't understand, though: Why not do something different!

Anyway, the U.S. Open Series wraps up this weekend in New Haven, Conn. It's a dual-gender event, which would be great to see more of. An interesting result is Donald Young winning his first ATP match against a solid top-100 player in Delic. Young has been beating some top or former top 100 players for a few months now. Davydenko's the first top 10 player he will face in his career. I wonder how that'll go, seeing as Davydenko's not gonna be able to blast him off the court.

On the women's side, a player that's been on a nice little run the past few weeks has been Sania Mirza. This could be a nice title for her to pick up. I can see her getting through the bottom half of the draw and maybe taking out Kuznetsova in the finals.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Let's go streak-bustin'!

First, congrats to JB for making it to the Cincy finals. Maybe he read my last posting telling him he had to make the finals here! Nice wins against Querrey and Davydenko. His summer really hasn't been too bad. And he's guaranteed to get back to at least 6 in the rankings.

In the much-depleted Rogers Cup, at least the top two seeds came through: Justine Henin and Jelena Jankovic. This tournament has really cast a lot of attention on something I thought has been running pretty rampant in the women's game for a few years now: withdrawals. I get kind of confused by this because WTA tournaments usually give first-round byes to the top seeds, which of course means fewer matches. Is the damage being done on the practice court? This is a bigger issue than I can figure out, but hopefully something can be resolved because the quality of play is better than ever and it'd be a shame for the game for it to be getting negative attention caused by the withdrawal syndrome.

But what I really wanted to do is talk about the head-to-heads in these finals and give my opinion on what can be done for those on the wrong side of the winning streak.

Federer is 6-0 against Blake, which considering who Federer is, it really isn't too much to hold your head down about. But the matches I've watched them play against each other, Blake has never deviated from his game plan, which it looks like to me, is to try to blast Federer off the court. I know he's an aggressive player, but today, why not do something different? And my suggestion is to use more topspin, meaning loop a few shots and keep more balls in play, a la Guillermo Canas in Indian Wells and Miami. Blake's just as athletic as Canas, but does he have the patience? His power game is not powerful enough to take out R-Fed. He should just really try to give him some different looks.

And Henin is 6-0 against Jankovic, which when looking at the scores and some of the matches I've watched, the mental factor plays a big part. First, Jelena, keep your head in the game if Henin fights back! She's a Hall of Famer, that's what they do! And Jelena has to stay dictating the points, but not really run her side to side because I think Henin hitting on the run is one of the best at doing that in the past 15 years or so. Blast a lot of shots at her down the middle. At least when they used to beat up on her, that's what the Williams sisters would do.

Anyway, there's my winning tips. I think they're pretty good for an out-of-shape 4.0 player!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ohio players

In the last big warmup before the U.S. Open, the seeds are darn near no more, with sections of the draw punched through. Federer's still around, of course, but defending champ Andy Roddick got knocked out by Spain's David Ferrer, a very solid top-20 player, but one Roddick shouldn't be losing to at this time of the year.

As I mentioned post-Canada, I don't know what's going on with him. If you really, really look at his results this summer, they have been kind of mediocre for supposed Slam contenders. You don't lose to Dancevic or Ferrer at this time of the year. Winning Washington was nice, but then you get dusted by Djokovic a week later. It's not like he was in the slump like last year, but some of his results I'm just not jazzed about.

I like Carlos Moya and Lleyton Hewitt pushing through. Moya's always been a class act and while a lot of people have a problem with Hewitt, his intensity is still impressive. What he's done in his career still flips me out: How does this guy with his game have the results he has?

In the bottom half of the draw, this is James Blake's time to shine and he should really be looking for some payback against Sam Querrey next for that Indy loss. Dude, you HAVE to come through and get to the finals here!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

No Djoke: He really did beat Federer!

OK, I didn't really see that coming. I thought it would take Novak Djokovic a little while to play Roger Federer that tough, much less beat him. But beat him he did, in a third-set tiebreak, which I always think is a kind of tricky result because at that stage of the match anything can happen. It was a great tournament for Djokovic, though. Knocking off the top three players is a pretty rare feat. It'll be tough for him to pull that off at the U.S. Open, I feel. Federer beats him in four sets in the finals there.

"Wait Van, how do you know they'll meet in the finals when the draw won't be out for another week or so?" you may be asking yourself. Well Novak'll more than likely be going in as the number three seed, meaning he'll probably be in Nadal's half of the draw. (Two and three are usually matched, with one and four on the top half.) I think he can handle Nadal comfortably on a hard court.

I was telling my U.S. Open-going companion this last night: Novak's strokes are flat enough and he's big and strong enough to punch through Nadal's heavy spins on faster surfaces, even though Nadal's gotten better playing guys like that on quicker stuff, as evidenced by his Wimbledon run. I think Federer has too many options for Djokovic to handle--he can hit flat shots with him, loop, cut under the ball--or at least that's usually the case.

One more post-Montreal note: I'm not too convinced on the job the Roddick coaching braintrust is doing. There's only three guys ahead of him in the rankings and those guys are waaay ahead of him. And sadly, I don't see him beating either one of them anytime soon.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Pushing along (or, "Oh yeah, I play tennis, too, Part 2")

I played a match last night in a USTA tournament at the club I belong to, Roosevelt Island Racquet Club. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have tournament playing issues, but still continue to compete in them. I've been going back and forth with this for the past few months whether or not to enter 3.5 or 4.0 tournaments: 3.5 because I haven't won a tournament in what is approaching half my lifetime and I figure I should be able to pick up a title there, or 4.0, which I should be playing because that's my skill level.

Anyway, I went for the 3.5 division this time around because I have more ranking points there, and I figured if I made it to be the number-one 3.5 player in the tri-state area, that's pretty legit, right? Well, those plans hit a snag last night after my first-round match. I played this guy last night that some (myself included at times) would call a "pusher." But in all honesty, that's an unfair term to put on him: I guess some of the best words to describe him would be "heady" and "determined." After warming up, I figured there'd be no way this guy could beat me: I just had too much firepower for him. (I like to think I have pretty big groundies.) But this guy returned everything. EVERYTHING! Granted, we were playing on clay, which slows my balls down, but I still can usually get around that as I think I've become a decent clay-courter over the years.

During the match, I was constantly changing my game plan, trying to remember what you do to beat a grinder like that: Do you keep trying to hit through them? Do you try to outrally them? Do you hit drop shots to draw them forward? Do you hit their moonballs on the rise or even take them out of the air? Do you serve and volley and chip and charge? I tried them all, except for the serving and volleying because I'm fighting a pretty tender Achilles tendon and would hate for it to blow up on me trying to push off that leg. The outrallying idea kind of works against me because I'm a pretty aggressive player: I figure if you got big shots, why not use them?

So this is all part of my dilemma: If I keep playing 3.5's, I'm likely to run into that, which can be extra frustrating. And that hurts my chance of winning that elusive second singles title. Or do I play 4.0's where at least I'm playing to the best of my ability, even though it might be even longer before I win again, if ever.

Any suggestions on which way to go? Or at the least, how to beat someone super-consistent?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Say it ain't so, Booty and Stretch!

It looks like my doubles team of the future is no more.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6925726.stm

I personally don't know if it's the right move: Sure, they've hit a rough stretch, but winning three titles in a year with three months left to go in the season isn't shabby at all. Obviously, something was going right.

Monday, July 30, 2007

On the Road to Rhode Island

So how about that Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken?

The Hit Machine and the Iron Man both got inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this past weekend, which with their stats, was as big a no-brainer as one could imagine. This follows on the heels of our sport's no-brainer inductees: Sampras and Sanchez-Vicario. However, looking at the current rankings are there any other no-brainers (of course, recent retirees Agassi and Clijsters will go) that will make it into the Hall in Newport? Here's what I came up with from both the ATP and WTA rankings.

From the men's side:
Roger Federer: Duh.
Rafael Nadal: See above.
Andy Roddick: Number 1, a Slam (so far), three runner-up finishes in Majors (so far) and titles on every surface.
Lleyton Hewitt: It seems so far ago now and kind of hard to believe, but he was actually a pretty dominant number 1 for a couple of years.
Marat Safin: Yes, the headcase goes. Two Slams, finalist in two others and a number 1 ranking, but man, what could have been.
Carlos Moya: Number 1, a Slam, a runner-up and winning in Umag this past weekend only helps the cause as he racks up the titles.
Bob and Mike Bryan: Dominance in doubles along the line of Federer. But not to knock them by any means, those guys should have way more Slams than they do now.

For the women, here's who:
Venus and Serena Williams: Double duh.
Justine Henin: For sure. I'm a big fan of career Slams, so I hope she gets her Wimbledon.
Maria Sharapova: Yes; number 1 for a stretch and a couple of Slams.
Amelie Mauresmo: The same as above.
Lindsay Davenport: Yeah, she's in. Ages ago, my old doubles partner/tennis-talking buddy and I used to always pose this question to each other: Who's tennis career would you rather have? And one I asked him after she won the U.S. Open was Davenport or Mary Joe Fernandez? I thought MJ's three runner-up appearances would beat Davenport's what I thought would be fluke Slam. Little did I know back then.
Martina Hingis: That 1997 was a sight to see. Damn Iva Majoli! Ruining history!

Any others?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The future is now (or at least by 2010)

So the U.S. Open Series kicked off last week with Radek Stepanek, on the comeback trail, knocking off James Blake in L.A. and Anna Chakvetadze winning another title in Cincy over Akiko Morigami. There was also some clay-court tennis going on with Nadal, near-300th ranked Darcis and Szavay coming through.

However, the biggest result of the weekend if you're a tennis follower didn't happen on either of the main tours, but rather on the ATP Challenger Circuit. The day before his 18th birthday, Donald Young won his first Challenger beating solid pro Bobby Reynolds in the final, and kind of handily, too. A couple of weeks ago, he won junior Wimbledon, which you can say is pretty much like winnning a Futures tournament (which he won one of a few months ago, too.) Not a bad stretch, considering everyone had pretty much written him off (yours truly included.) I admit I've seen the error of my ways!

I think something that's been a big contribution to this run was practicing with the Davis Cup team during its quarterfinal match--at least that's what the results indicate: Some quarters here, a semi or two there, some wins. Practicing in a stress-free environment and seeing how the big boys prepare seems to have gotten him on track, and obviously having a great support system with hsi parents has helped tremendously.

One of the knocks I had against him was that he was too slight to compete at a higher level; I thought those spins and touch he uses to trick kids with would have never played out well against stronger players. However, the other night, I was on YouTube and stumbled upon some old Marcelo Rios clips (What can I say? I'm a tennis nut who looks at YouTube for old tennis clips!) and thought, "Hmmm, here's a super-talented left-hander with super speed who's smaller than the other guys." Sound familiar?

I'm not saying he's the next Rios, but I think by 2010, he should definitely be in the top 20, if not 10. Once he gets in that area, there's not gonna be much to stop him from sticking around there for a few years.

So in other words, Donald Young's gonna be A-OK.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Throwing my hat into the GOAT debate

A hectic work week has slowed me down from making some posts, but I'm back; right on time for some good ol' debatin'!

In what is the most obvious no-brainer of all time, Pete Sampras is going into the Hall of Fame today, along with Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (well done, Barcelona Bumblebee!), Sven Davidson and Russ Adams. But truly the day really belongs to the Pistol.

With Federer winning his fifth Wimbledon title in a row and all the talk about him being the greatest ever, I'm actually gonna go out and say I'm still gonna give the nod to Pete. (And I'm not even that big a Pete fan; I've always been an Agassi guy.) And while R-Fed probably will break all of Pete's records, unless he shatters them, say 20 Slams to Pete's 14, then he'll come up second best in my mind.

The main reason I say this is because what Pete has going for him is the level of competition he faced, which dwarfs Federer's in a big way. I took a look at the top 25 rankings on the ATP tour 10 years ago the week after Sampras won his fourth Wimbledon and compared the guys among the elite to the ones now. In 1997, all but four of the top 25 had made or would go on to make at least one Grand Slam final in their careers. The top 10 then was ridiculous: Sampras, Chang, Ivanisevic, Muster, Kafelnikov, Corretja, Bruguera, Enqvist, Rios and Moya. Kuerten and Rafter, two future number ones, hadn't even made it to that point yet. And what about Andre? He was starting his descent to the famous 141 in the world by then.

As for Federer's top 25, only 10 have made Slam finals to this point (and one of them is Moya!) You can say that Federer just has the game on lock right now (with Nadal as the only one really offering a challenge). But for Pete, every late stage of a tournament he was playing, he was taking out guys with Hall of Fame-worthy careers. I think it's still going to take a while for some of the guys Federer is playing to mount a challenge to him at a Slam, which says something both about the ability of the guys he's playing and (a positive nod) to his ability.

Anyway, the level of competition seals the deal for me in the Sampras-Roger debate.

Feel free to post comments on this: You don't have to have a blogger account to do it. Click on the comments button, a separate window pops up and you can click on "Anonymous."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Oh yeah, I play tennis, too

So I've been talking about Wimbledon for the past couple of weeks, but that's come and gone now. My predictions didn't win, but it's OK; life goes on!

When starting this blog, I went about it with the idea that it would be all-encompassing on tennis, and one of the topics I thought it would be cool to talk about would be my game and all it entails--the wide-scoping magnitude of it all!

I played a tennis tournament this weekend at the club I belong to, Roosevelt Island Racquet Club. It was a combined 3.5-4.0 tournament as there weren't enough 4.0 players to compete. Before I talk about how I did in the tournament, something should be noted about my tournament-competition hang-ups (or neuroses, as it were). I've lost a lot of matches that I shouldn't have and 99.9999... (you get the point) percent of those were mental. See, I haven't won a tournament in singles since I was 17 years old and I'm almost 34 now. Granted, I've made some finals and semis over the years, but no more tournament wins. It's something I've become almost obsessed with rectifying even though I don't do all the necessary training to make sure it happens.

Anyway, at least this past weekend, I was able to break my first-round losing streak. I came through more from a mental standpoint than anything, because I was cruising then hit a hiccup. Plus, my opponent's playing style didn't help matters any, but I held on.

In the quarters, I played the number-two seed and lost. A sucky partial cause of the loss was something that's happened to me a few times over the years. My ball toss for my serve gets completely screwed up. Not to take anyway from my opponent because he did the job and beat me, but I think he beat me with a little help from me!

Anyone out there know how a player can stop thinking about winning the tournament when they still have their first match going on? And also what to do about the ball-toss hiccups?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Wrapping up Wimbledon

It's been a little over 24 hours since the best men's final in a few years wrapped up. Hats off to Nadal for making it that far (despite me thinking he would lose to Mardy Fish in the first round!) But how about Federer? It was great to see him getting tested and coming through. I like the fact that every Slam he wins, it always seems like the first one for him when it's over.

And congrats to Venus as well. A Tennis Talk, Anyone? reader brought up a good question to me (OK, it was my mom, but still!): Does her winning Wimbledon REALLY signify a comeback? With her game, she should always win Wimbledon. I hope it does.

I'm kind of shocked the Bryans lost in the finals: To me, those guys should have a Grand Slam or two: not titles, THE Grand Slam. Black/Huber took the ladies' crown and my man "Stretch," aka Jamie Murray, came through with a mixed crown partnering Jelena Jankovic.

And I usually don't follow the junior results too much, but I think Donald Young taking the juniors is a good thing. He's been on a kind-of decent tear since he got to practice with the Davis Cup squad back in the quarters. I actually think now that he's gonna be fine as a pro.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

French fried

So much for my studio gig.

Before the women's final kicks off, I guess I gotta say hats off to Gasquet and Bartoli for knocking off my picks to win. For Roddick and Henin to blow such big leads ... wow! I really felt this was A-Rod's chance to get Federer. I still think Roddick's too good to only have one major. Henin, I think, also blew a huge opportunity.

As for my thoughts on the women's final, I'm picking Venus in straights. Good for her!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Bye-bye Berdych (and the Bagh Man, too)

First, I want it to be known that I like Rafael Nadal. You can't help but have respect for the guy. I never thought he had a chance, though, looking at the players on his side of the draw—Soderling, Youzhny and Berdych—that are supposed to be big-hitting, faster-surface players. I can see Djokovic (he who knocked off Baghdatis) coming through against him ... Wait, I interrupt this regularly scheduled posting with a breaking news announcement: Bartoli's up 3-0 in the third against Henin! More on this as it develops.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled posting.

Anyway, I think if Nadal gets through to the final, then something's seriously wrong with Wimbledon. I didn't mind seeing some nice serve-and-volley duels like back in the day between Edberg and Becker. If old Pistol Pete were to play another match there, it'd be a disaster for him.

And now Bartoli's up 5-0! I'll have to catch the replay later to see what happened.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

All my picks are still alive, right?

I've lost track with the rain and all!

Seriously though, there was some action going on before rain brought everything to a halt again. The Bagh Man got through, Djokovic took out Hewitt (a TTA pick)), Berdych (another TTA pick) beat up on Old Man Jonas. Despite the first set being tied up now, I still think R-Fed will get past Ferrero, but I also think not playing for a week is gonna hurt him against Roddick. The Roddick-Baghdatis Breakfast at Wimbledon is still on course!

As for the women, I hereby declare that I, Van Sias, of Tennis Talk, Anyone?, will pick a Williams sister in the finals at Wimbledon for the next four years. So much for my comment earlier: "None of the outside contenders are in good enough match shape." Venus has really shot that one down, demolishing two -ova's back to back. And though Serena lost to Henin yesterday, she barely did, falling in three on a bad leg (how bad I'm really not sure about, though.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

P-Mac's got my back

I was watching the rain-interrupted debacle disguising itself as Wimbledon this morning and they cut to the studio, where Chris Fowler, Patrick McEnroe, Darren "Killer" Cahill and Brad Gilbert were talking about the men's draw. McEnroe (I always knew I liked that guy!) said he likes Baghdatis in the bottom half of the draw. Note the pre-Wimbledon predictions here at Tennis Talk, Anyone? and look who was picked to make the finals against A-Rod. Maybe I can get a studio gig!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Shades of the Aussie Open

So I just got home and caught the last few games of the Serena-Hantuchova match, and it just really gave me this feeling of deja vu back to January and the Australian, like, "Here I go again, counting her out" and a few days later she's kissing a trophy. I'm thinking now that the Henin-Serena match won't be as cut and dry as I originally imagined when the draw came out.

Man, is this tournament backed up by rain delays! I guess they'll finish it one day. I was glad to see a couple of young guns I tabbed to do big things here--Berdych and Baghdatis--come through. I'm sticking with them to make the semis. If Nadal gets past Soderling, back-to-back big-hitting guys will be too much for him.

And way to go Booty and Stretch! Congrats on beating Erlich and Ram. I'm telling you: Doubles team of the future!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Laying off the grass

Since it's the middle Sunday of Wimbledon and not much is going on out there (except Federer getting a walkover into the quarterfinals), here's a chance to mention something else that I hope Tennis Talk, Anyone? can help out with.

I got an e-mail from someone yesterday looking for a partner to play with in the Park Slope area, who's also looking for courts as well, and a place to possibly take lessons. I told her Prospect Park Tennis Center, but if there are any other ideas, please feel free to post them in the comments section. The more people playing tennis (and talking about it, too) the better I always say!

And if you don't have a Blogger account, you can just click on the "Anonymous" button in the comments pop-up window and leave an answer like that.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rain, rain go away...

Today's been a wash on the grassy lawns at Wimbledon, but Sharapova and Mauresmo made it through. Tradition's all good and grand, but come on! Play on the middle Sunday! A retractable roof's not gonna prevent a backlog of matches. Wimbledon organizers (in case there's a slight miracle you might see this) give the people what they want -- more tennis!

You know, say what you will about her commercials, the dad coaching her from the stands, the "hot" factor, I don't think there's a female tennis player I root for more than Sharapova. All that other stuff aside (well, the coaching from the stands is crappy and I'm sure after today, Sugiyama would disagree with me), she's as gutsy as they come. To make it to the semis of the French was impressive, especially with her bum shoulder, and she's getting through Wimbledon. (Keep going, I have you picked to make the finals! Make me look good!)

On the men's side, things seem to be going pretty much to plan. I'm still not totally convinced about another Nadal final appearance. I think he'll get knocked off by a big hitter in the quarters (namely Berdych). If Nadal ever wins Wimbledon, then that should be a sign that things need to be changed there. Baseliners have won there in the past 15 years (Agassi and Hewitt), but those guys have flatter strokes than Nadal.

One more men's note before I wrap up this posting: I can't be more disappointed in James Blake's performance. I thought he would at least get to the fourth round, but it's kind of sad that I had my man Kohlschreibber getting through out of that part of the draw. This is a bold statement I'm about to make here: At the U.S. Open, if he's not in Federer's half of the draw and fails to make it to at least the semis, then he will never get that far at a major in his career. Faster-surface slams are the time to shine (as Roddick knows).

Oops, actually one more men's note: So long (this year, at least) Timmy! I really hope you pull it off at Wimbledon one day, or at any Slam, actually. (How awesome would that have been if you would've beaten Coria in the French semis a few years ago? Then knocked off Gaudio?)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Timmay! (That's supposed to be in my "South Park" voice)

I spent so much time watching tennis today and doing stuff later that I'm just now getting to post. Real quick because I'm getting up in the morning to play tennis, but congrats Tim! Keep it going (at least until the quarters, where I picked you to end up!)

I'm gonna write about that Fish/Nadal match in the morning. That was my upset pick for the tournament, but I guess I blew it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Why would anyone pick Kohlschreiber?

It was crazy, I know, but he did just make the semis in Halle, which was the best grasscourt result of anyone in that section of the draw. Heavy hitters Blake and Gonzo are in that section, but I always think those two are vulnerable for an upset and I thought my man Phil could've pulled it off. I'll take the knock on my quarterfinal picks, but unofficially I'll go with Gonzalez in that section.

Now watch him lose to Falla in the next round!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Quarters, semis and winners, oh boy!

Here's my pick for the quarters on in both draws. I'll go through the men first:

Federer vs. Kolschreibber (I don't think Kolschreibber even think he's gonna make it to the quarters!)
Roddick vs. Henman (The last hurrah for Henman. Someone's gotta carry Britain's hopes with Murray out!)
Baghdatis vs. Hewitt (I think both of these guys lucked up with an easy draw.)
Berdych vs. Fish (This is Mardy Fish's last stand as far as I'm concerned. If he doesn't beat Nadal in the first round and really make a statement, then that's it. He'll never be a top player.)

Semis
Federer vs. Roddick, Baghdatis vs. Berdych

Final
(I can't believe I'm typing this) RODDICK over Baghdatis!

On the women's side, I have no upset picks whatsoever and I think all eight top seeded women will make the quarters. I just don't think the contenders outside the top eight (V. Williams, Hingis, Petrova) are in good enough match shape.

So I'll just go from the semis on:
Henin vs Jankovic, Ivanovic vs. Sharapova

And the finals, Henin over Sharapova.

There you go.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hop on the Booty and Stretch bandwagon!

The Croatians came through for me in my final-round picks with Lubey and Ivo winning their first grass-court titles. I don't have either one of them making the quarters at Wimbledon (I'll make my quarterfinal picks tomorrow; I can't do it now, I'm at work!)

As far as the Eastbourne final and what resulted from it, I still think Henin'll go deeper than Mauresmo. As for the Netherlands result, I guess with a score that close it could've gone either way, but Chakvetadze came through.

However, the most interesting result on finals weekend to me was "Booty" and "Stretch" winning the Nottingham doubles for their third title. You've read it here first: I think Eric Butorac and Jamie Murray are stars in the making. It's pretty rad to see a new young team doing good things. I'll definitely be writing more about them in the future!

(Props to Coetzee/Wassien, Raymond/Stosur and Chan/Chuang for bagging doubles titles, too.)

Men's and women's quarterfinal picks for Wimbledon coming tomorrow.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Warmups before the big one

Well, the Wimbledon warmups are wrapping up this week. And since the finals are tomorrow, I'm gonna go ahead and make my picks:

In Nottingham, I'm going with Karlovic over Clement, even though Clement got him last week at Queen's.

In The Netherlands, on the men's side, I'm going with Ljubicic over Wessels (the Wessels story is kind of neat. Whatever happened to that guy? I remember watching him win Newport years ago, and thought he would have a decent career.)

For the women, Jankovic over Anna Chakvetadze. But I think Jankovic should slow down. Racking up titles can leave you a little tired for majors (not that I've ever played in a major, but still!)

In Eastbourne, Mauresmo over Henin, but I don't think this will mean much when it comes down to Wimbledon. I think Mauresmo will bow out kind of early, and Henin (especially saying how much she wants this one) will make a deep run.