When it comes to the French Open…

Is the time to win it, in our day and age, inevitably when Rafael Nadal is injured?  It was the knees, after all, that were no doubt crucial in that famous fall to Robin Soderling in 2009, which of course gave Roger Federer his.  Yeah, Novak Djokovic has shown the ability to beat him at Roland Garros, but beating him and then winning the final is another matter.  Much easier to win the French Open when he doesn’t have to do both.  It’s definitely looking like this is the year, especially with Roger out already and Andy Murray having two five-setters already-even if he fixes whatever caused those quick, there’ll still be the physical toll they took.  Not the way he wanted to win it, but it may be the only one, plain and simple.  Just remember there’s no such thing as asterisks.  Also that Rafael Nadal will still fight to come back from injuries as long as he’s able.   This is sad, but I still don’t think he’s won his last slam.

I wish I could say the same about Roger.  Hell, I’m not sure about Murray.  Yeah, he’s winning clay masters now, but that’s always been what he’s done, won masters and then faltered at slams.  His ability to beat Djokovic at them, even when it’s fled, has never been far away.  Of course, it’s not like either man needs to win any more slams, but until either Rafa’s playing better, or a few more of these young up and comers have reached the level of our old Big Four, you’d like them to stay in play.

I also wish I could say I’m certain Maria Sharapova is innocent of any intentional wrongdoing.  But with all these claims going around about the Russians, and now the blatant disrespect they displayed of saying she’s going to be on the team from the start, even before they really started talking about forgiving everyone who tested positive for meldonium in January…just leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

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Week One of Wimbledon

I must say, as well as all its other benefits, it’s nice that moving the tournament back a week means that here in the States, we have a national holiday taking place when ESPN is still showing Wimbledon the entire day.  Since it seems there will never again be a People’s Sunday, we need all the days off from work in which we can actually watch live that we can get.

Although at least they had the sense to use the roof today, and make sure everything was done in time for the big day of tennis Monday.  Still, one did worry about if the gambit failed to get the match completed before curfew, and we instead had Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon coming out to play two games Monday instead(and when Monfils would’ve thrived on a People’s Sunday too, I bet).  Quite frankly it was a relief when Simon didn’t have much trouble with the last set.

Today was definitely an odd one, in ways.  Petra Kvitova going out even felt more of a shock than Rafa Nadal had Thursday; after he went down at the French, one almost feels like anything could happen to poor Rafa anyway.  A bizarre episode involving medical timeouts begs the question as to whether it is proper to give someone who’s thrown you off with a medical timeout a taste of his own medicine, or, if that was not Andy Murray’s motivation, just how alarmed we should be about these back/shoulder issues.  And James Ward losing, though it was a match that didn’t draw the attention or drama of Serena and Heather Watson yesterday, is kind of more heartbreaking than the latter.  After all, Heather is still on the up, and did we really want her triumph to come at the expense of Serena’s possible calender slam, and a good all-Williams grass battle?  But who knows if James Ward will ever again get anywhere near the chance he couldn’t grab today, and when the matchup he would’ve prevented would’ve been no great loss(seriously, why couldn’t Dustin Brown had followed up?  I want more of that guy); hey, we might have even seen an all-British quarterfinal!(talk about the crowds going crazy…).

And now the question is, do we dare start believing in Madison Keys now?  Or will she now get overhyped and then crash and burn, just like every other young North American woman who has shown promise recently?

A few scattered conclusions on Wimbledon

Has the guard been changed yet?  On one hand, the ladies semifinalists are all young, and Murray and Rafa both went out to much younger opponents.  On the other, not only is Nole still around but so is old man Federer, and I’d still pick one of them to win it, especially with Stan now out too(I would also pick Kvitova to pick up a second Wimbledon, though there, really, who knows?). And it’s not like the two guys out haven’t both shown indications of trouble recently, and I want to see how both their conquerors follow up on Wimbledon.  Dmitrov, especially; he has now finally undisputedly arrived, but will he stay? But this whole year has been about guard changing, so we probably will get the answer to that question in New York.

Should we stop anticipating potential matchups for Serena?  It doesn’t seem to go well.  First everyone buzzes about her and Venus in the 3rd round of the French, and then neither of them reach said round.  Here, everyone was waiting for her and Sharapova’s quarterfinal, and then, somehow, neither of them makes that one either!

They should’ve had a People’s Sunday, if only to get the lineups for a normal crazy second Monday.  I’m still confused as to why they didn’t.

At least the World Cup hasn’t kept much of the country from seeing anything like the end of a the marathon match the way it did last time around.

So Wimbledon starts tomorrow

Ready? It’s time!

Ready? It’s time!

And I’m probably going to miss most of it this year since ESPN only comes on half an hour before I have to go to work(suddenly the stopping of play on the Middle Sunday seems to be aristocratically insensitive!), but a few scattered thoughts anyway.

So now apparently Rafa’s thrown his back out, at least according to Chris Fowler?  And they still think he can win?!  Granted, one underestimates an injured/struggling Rafael Nadal at one’s peril, but really?  Though I’d be more shocked if Rosol is the one who defeats him again; I’d worry more about Karlovic, especially after his recently shown ability to break.

Looking at Roger’s draw, I can’t help but feel it’s all or nothing for him here, like he’ll either go out in the second round again or he’ll win the whole thing.  Which one he’ll do at this point is anyone’s guess…

Poor Maria Sharapova.  Dodges a Serena quarterfinal in one slam, and then promptly gets drawn into her quarter again!  And Serena ain’t gonna lose early for the second slam in a row when that slam’s Wimbledon.  I know we’ve had some shocking losses sometimes in history, but still, I can’t believe that one.

Bold prediction: Belinda Bencic will come out of Halep’s quarter.  Well, maybe Halep will take her down, but enough of that quarter feels like a free-for-all that I’m feeling a shock semi-finalist, and she’s just the one that feels like the one with the most potential for it.

Got the sinking feeling Maria Kirilenko’s going out in the first round again…Ovi will probably never make it to Wimbledon at all this year.

Wimbledon draw reactions

And as I intend to spend three days staycation lazing around watching the Championships this year, despite the fact that I am very much not looking forward to Serena’s probably winning the ladies title, a few reactions to the draw:

I have often thought when seeing Grand Slam draws, that Novak Djokovic is very good at getting easy ones.  Then, at the French this year, he very much did not.  But the Tennis Gods must have repented of that very quickly and made it up to him for this one.  Roger, Rafa, and Mandy all on the other side of the draw?  Talk about luck!

Meanwhile, we are stuck with a probable Fedal quarterfinal in an age where that no longer promises a good match at all.  But still, this is Roger’s best surface, so assuming Rafa’s knees hold up, etc., if we must lose one of them before the semis, here’s hoping they go in style.  But before then, it seems Roger may be the one who has to deal with Rosol in the 3rd…

Hewitt-Wawrinka & Sabine Lisicki & Francesa Schiavone sound all well a good, but I suspect the blockbuster first round match will be Angelique Kerber & Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Maria Sharapova possibly facing Michelle Larcher de Brito.  Insert the obvious comments here…

I’d predict Donna Vekic to upset Caroline Wozniacki, but that seems just a little too obvious a thing to happen, to the point you wonder if it somehow won’t.

Deeply sorry we have to lose one of Maria Kirilenko or Laura Robson after only one round.  If the latter upsets the former, she’d better stick around after.

The Americans were remarkably good at drawing each other for the first round, with even a clear potential 2nd-round clash if both Sam Querry & James Blake make it through their first round matches(certain in neither case, though; what state will Bernard Tomic be in?), and then another one in the ladies for Alison Riske & Mallory Burdette, though between Riske’s inability to win WTA matches outside Birmhingham & Burdette facing Ula Radwandska, that seems far less likely.  And for the home players, there in theory might be a all-British second round match too, though really, it’s a safe assumption James Ward won’t make it past Rendy Lu, so…

Dead Spots Are Dead

This morning, around the time Rafa was 0-4 down to Bernard Tomic in the second set, I tweeted that this was officially the weirdest Australian Open ever.  Then Rafa got both the breaks back and life resumed it’s normal programming, but still, it’s an odd one.  I can now think of six mid-match retirements offhand, the surface of one of the stadium courts is malfunctioning, the nice Belgian girl is accused of pregnancy-related grumpiness and retaliates by embarrassing the man responsible while he was interviewing her(and ESPN initially bleeps out a reference to her boobs which made me initially think she was repeating something dirtier), and right now I can’t remember what else.  And as I type this, the reason for the latest injury-related retirement has changed from a finger injury to a groin injury.  Which actually makes things less odd, but still.

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Fedal Festa!

So the past two days have seen two tennis exhibition matches.  As matches they were nothing special: three sets, yes, but with each of the two players involved predictably winning on his home turf, things conveniently wrapping up in the second match before local TV would have had to change their programming, and not much showmanship, though whenever Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal play each other the tennis itself will always be worth watching.

However, that’s not all there was.  There were also Facebook photos and foreign TV footage.

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