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.