Monday, June 23, 2008

Mr. Federer's neighborhood

The first day of Wimbledon is in the books, with almost all of the big stars getting through, such as Ana Ivanovic (who cruised), Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who was back on his home turf looking very stylish in a classic cardigan.

I liked that he came out and dropped the hammer on his good buddy, Dominik Hrbaty. Surprisingly, he'd never beaten him before. Hrbaty's really fallen by the wayside the past couple of years, though, and wasn't able to offer much resistance. R-Fed looked very sharp regardless, and didn't even relax too much after the changeover where Hrbaty sat next to him!

Serena, on the other hand, looked a little shaky. I thought Mary-Joe Fernandez made a great point this morning: She really needs to get back to establishing herself as the true favorite in these Slams, noting that she hasn't gotten past the quarters at a major since winning the Aussie last year. Djoko dropped a set, but I figured he'd be OK.

The biggest names to fall were David Nalbandian and Ivo Karlovic. When I was doing my predictions for the tournament, I originally had Djoko going against Nalbandian, but I figured it would be too risky since you never know which David will show up. So I went with Karlovic thinking, "Hey, he's won grass-court titles and he has to come through at a big one at some point, so why not now?" Let me tell you: The guy just doesn't have it up top. Never making a Major quarterfinal with his game? There's something wrong.

Well anyway, that section of the draw as far as my predictions go is blown for me! I think Marcos Baghdatis is now the favorite there, but I'd also watch out for what Frank Dancevic can do after knocking out Nalbandian.

Tomorrow has some interesting matches on tap. My pick on the women's side, Venus Williams, kicks things off, and Maria Sharapova is taking the court, too. These are a few, though, that would almost tempt me to call out sick for work to stay home and watch!

• Fabrice Santoro vs. Andy Murray (12): This, my friends, is a match to watch! No one out there likes playing against Santoro because of his style. Playing in his last Wimbledon, he's frustrated more guys to defeat than anyone this side of Brad Gilbert. If Murray, probably the most volatile player on tour, can keep his head in the game, he could get through this quickly. If not, it could be a very long day at the office. I'm going with Murray, though, and just to make it interesting, I'll say it'll be a five-setter.

• Richard Gasquet (8) vs. Mardy Fish: It's hard to pick which way to go with this one: Gasquet is way more talented than Fish, but is having some well-documented mental-toughness issues. This would be a perfect opportunity for Fish to make a statement, since grass is one of his favorite surfaces, but I said that last year when he played Rafael Nadal in the first round here and he ended up getting destroyed. I'll go with Gasquet in four. They're both major head cases and good grassers, but as I said, Gasquet has a little bit more game. It wouldn't shock me at all, though, if Fish won.

• Nicolas Mahut vs. Dmitry Tursunov (25): Mahut's the closest thing to a true grass-court specialist on the men's tour: You only hear his name for three to five weeks out of the year and that's it. Tursunov plays well at Wimbledon and his game is so big, it's hard to go against him in an early-round match here. However, that's just what I'm going to do! Mahut in four.

(Photo: Getty Images)


IHeartRafa said...

Any year before this year I would agree with your 5 setter prediction for the Santoro vs Murray match. But this year Santoro is just doing his farewell tour. He lost more than half a step....I still cannot get over the fact that he only won one game in the French open last month playing against Ferrer in front of his home crowd. I mean, it is Ferrer, not Nadal, that he was playing. And he only got one game? So I am going to give Murray a straight set victory, provided Mr. Autobiography there shows up with positive attitude.

I am having Fish all the way through to the 4th round. The secret is for him to control his wild forehand. And both Fish and Gasquet have good back hands, so you will see them attacking each others' forehand tomorrow. I have a stupid meeting in the morning, or else I would call in sick. Fish in 5.

Mahut vs Tursunov. I agree with your prediction. Tursunov's has great serve and power forehand, but I think he needs sport shrink. At this rate we will see him falling out of top 50 pretty soon. I mean, he will get kicked out of Wimbledon if he pulls that crap again... so, DON'T walk away you primadonna anger management issue air head Tursunov! Calm, breathe, and then play. Mahut in 5.

van said...

Hey Iheartrafa. That Ferrer-Santoro result at the French was so shocking, I couldn't believe it! I see what you're saying about what could happen here. It should be entertaining, though. Watch out for picking Fish! I did it last year at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, where I thought he had great opportunities and he blew it for me. I just can't do it anymore, even though it'd be nice to see him get through.

Tursunov has been getting on my nerves lately. I hope it's nothing personal going on with him that he's trying to work out. If so, good luck on things getting better. I hope he's not just being an asshole for being an asshole's sake.

IHeartRafa said...

Hi van,

Should have listened to you. Fish is down two sets and a break now. Oh well, bye bye my office pool.

Isner is not far behind. As Luke Jensen said : 'John is not used to seeing so many balls coming back....'

Yeah, John needs to learn how to play tennis other than relying on his big serves.

Rafa is up now.