Tenaciously Tennis

ATP Post-Wimbledon Ranking Roundup

Wimbledon ended yesterday with Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams collecting the titles of the particularly historic tournament. Along with taking the trophies, the world number ones are enjoying uncontested positions as the best in the world. Here’s a breakdown of the ATP ranking changes released today.

  • Rafael Nadal surges ahead to a dominant position as world number one with over 10,000 points. His exceptional play at the French Open and Wimbledon after a difficult 2009 makes him poised to hold the spot for the remainder of the year. If so, this will be his second year to end the season as number one.
  • In a severe shake-up of the rankings, Roger Federer fell to number three in the world. This is the first time in seven years he’s been at the position. I don’t see him reclaiming the number two spot from Nadal, although number two is definitely in his sights with a strong US Open Series showing. Novak Djokovic — now number two — leads Federer by only the slimmest of margins. At the US Open, Federer will need to make the finals or win the title to avoid losing any more points and salvage his worst year on tour in quite some time.
  • Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych also moved big in the rankings. The Czech is now inside the top ten for the first time since 2008. With his improved play and the confidence gained from making the semifinals at Roland Garros — going along with his first finals showing at a Grand Slam — I think he’ll continue to ascend. I predict a top five finish the year, especially if he can advance past the fourth round at the US Open for the first time in his career.
  • Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey both posted their best wins at Wimbledon. Isner won the longest match in tennis history to make it to the second round, claiming a well-deserved career-high ranking of 18. Querrey made it to the fourth round to come out just behind Isner at number 19. They meet compatriot Andy Roddick in the top twenty.
  • Yen-Hsun Lu, the man that beat Andy Roddick, raced up the rankings 40 spots after his quarterfinal showing. Let’s see if he can keep the momentum going through the hard court season.
  • Other notables include Daniel Brands, who will enjoy a career-high 66 after gaining 30 spots, while Dudi Sela of Israel — a player that made it to the 4th round of Wimbledon last year — dropped 25 spots after losing to Mikhail Youzhny of Russia in the first round.

The women’s ranking changes will be highlighted tomorrow.


Mega Monday Brings High Drama to Wimbledon

The best day in tennis didn’t fail to surprise. Big names left stunned, great battles were fought, and Wimbledon remains left with a whittled down number of eight men and women. Let’s look at the fourth round action.

The ATP Tour:

  • Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal look solid with both winning in three relatively easy sets to advance to the quarterfinals. It looks like they’re on course for a collision in the finals. Federer took out French Open semifinalist Jurgen Melzer, while Nadal ousted Paul-Henri Mathieu.
  • Up next for the number one and number two? Nadal plays Robin Soderling in a rematch of the French Open. Soderling, who didn’t lose a set until his match today against David Ferrer, needs to muster all his energy to eliminate a revived Nadal in this second week. He isn’t the same player that lost two sets to relative unknowns. He’s in it to win. Federer will next have his hands full with Tomas Berdych, who’s given him trouble in the past. I don’t see that happening here. He’s just too good.
  • But before the two settle themselves into the final, Andy Murray is poised to stand in the way of Nadal. Murray, who has the crowd distinctly on his side, took control against the American Sam Querrey, and continues to play without dropping a set. He won 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 and will next face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. Tsonga beat a fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau in four sets to continue his run under the radar. I see Murray winning in four.
  • Also looking particularly sharp today was Novak Djokovic. Despite my prediction that he’d lose to Lleyton Hewitt in a major upset, the Serb took the match in four sets, 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. He next takes on Yen-Hsun Lu, which brings me to my next point.
  • Yup, that’s right. Andy Roddick, last year’s finalist, is out. Lu took out the defending finalist in five sets with a 9-7 win in the fifth — the match was the second longest of the season trailing only the John Isner – Nicholas Mahut marathon. It’s a sad result for Roddick, who really looked set for another semifinal showing at Wimbledon at the least. Everyone was hoping for him to face off against Federer. But Lu played better tennis in the end, capturing the only break in the match. He becomes the first Asian man in the quarterfinals of a major in 15 years. Congratulations are certainly due.

I’ll update this post with the women’s results tomorrow.

First Week of Historic Wimbledon Comes to a Close

The first week of the 2010 Wimbledon has finished, and it’s been one of the most talked about events in tennis history with a slew of stories intriguing both on and off the court. Here’s a rundown of the events that have collectively turned this year’s Wimbledon into one to be remembered for years.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal Begin with Shaky Results:

With order relatively restored to the top rankings, and a “healthy” Nadal back at Wimbledon, audiences everywhere expected the top two seeds to advance easily to make it to the second week. In fact, I’m calling for there to be a rematch of the 2008 Wimbledon final.

However, both have played their fair share of dangerously close matches. In the first round, Alejandro Falla pushed Federer to the limit, forcing him to come back from two sets down. Federer, the 2009 champion, prevailed with a 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-0 win.

While many thought he’d refocus in the second round with a straights sets win, the qualifier Ilija Bozoljac of Serbia, proved otherwise. The 153rd player in the world used his two-handed swings, powerful game, and wacky serve to unnerve Federer. Bozoljac, who calls himself “Bozo,” took Federer to four sets before losing, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6.

In the third round, however, Federer won easily in straight sets against Arnaud Clement to set up a match with French Open semifinalist Jurgen Melzer.

Nadal has had an equally, if not more, difficult path to the second week. After a quick win in the first round over Kei Nishikori, Nadal needed five sets over Robin Haase, ranked 151st in the world. In the third round, Nadal was also pushed to the brink of defeat when Philipp Petzschner of Germany played an inspired second and third set. Nadal, warned for accepting coaching repeatedly and after taking a questionable medical timeout, beat the 39th ranked Petzschner 6-4, 4-6, 6-7, 6-2. 6-3.

Nadal will next play against Paul-Henri Mathieu of France, who ousted the 13th seed Mikhail Youzhny, in the second round.

John Isner and Nicholas Mahut Play the Longest Match Ever:

Not just the best match of the tournament so far, the 11 hour and five minute battle between Isner and Mahut is ensured to be one of the best matches for years to come. The atmosphere must have been phenomenal, and the poise both players showed at the 70-68 conclusion in Isner’s favor is to be applauded as one of the best instances of sportsmanship.

For a more detailed post on the match, click here.

While Isner lost in the second round in ironically the shortest men’s match of the first week, the American and Mahut, who qualified to get into the main draw, showed a level of dedication and passion unmatched so far. Both deserve to take the time to regroup. It’ll be exciting to witness their renewed form by the time the US Open rolls around in August.

The Queen of England Pays Wimbledon a Visit for the First Time in Decades:

On Thursday, Queens Elizabeth II watched Andy Murray beat Jarko Nieminen 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 before having lunch with Federer. She also met with many other players including: Andy Roddick, Venus and Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic, Billie Jean King, and Martina Navratilova. The visit was her first at Wimbledon in 33 years.

The Williams Sisters Look Sharp in Singles and Doubles:

In contrast to the shoddy play of both Federer and Nadal, Serena and Venus look ready to take Wimbledon by storm — again. The younger sister came through the first three rounds bagel-ing her opponents in the first set each time. Her next obstacle to the finals, however, is much harder. Williams shouldn’t expect a 6-0 set against her next opponent: Maria Sharapova. Regardless, look for Williams to get the win, albeit in three sets.

Venus, while getting just one bagel set in her three rounds, looks just as good. Up next for her is the much less well-known Jarmila Groth, who’s currently ranked 92nd in the world. Expect Venus to trounce the Australian in two painless sets to make it to the quarterfinals.

In doubles, the sisters are well on the way to taking home a fifth consecutive major doubles title, improving upon their “Williams Slam.” Read more about that here.

Under the Radar – Murray and Robin Soderling Poised for Success:

With all of the drama going on, relatively little attention has been paid to the players flying through the field. Murray and Soderling, who’ve fought their way through the rounds in straight sets,  can safely be considered dark horse picks for the title with the first round scares from Federer and Nadal.

In the fourth round, both need to continue stepping up their games. Murray faces Sam Querrey, who I previously picked getting into the quarterfinals. We’ll see if that’s still the case given Murray’s fantastic play. Either way, I see that match going the lengths.

Soderling’s next match, against David Ferrer, will also be a test. Soderling’s been on fire these past few weeks, and I see no chance of this coming to a conclusion just yet. That is until he meets Nadal in the quarterfinals.

The WTA Tour is Full of Surprises:

Along with the Williams sisters and Sharapova swinging their ways easily into the second week, a bunch of surprise players are also showing their stuff. Players to look out for include: unseeded Petra Kvitova, ranked 62nd, who took out Victoria Azarenka in the third round, Klara Zakapalova, ranked 66th, and qualifier Kaia Kanepi, ranked 80th.

The draws opened wide when the French Open finalists Francesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur bowed out in first round upsets.

Props to the Belgians Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters for making their way to a 25th meeting in the fourth round. I see Henin coming through with the win in three.

Lindsay Davenport Wins First Round in Mixed Doubles:

Three-time major title winner and mother of two Davenport is back, yet again. This time, the 34-year old American played and won her first round mixed doubles match with Bob Bryan. The two won over Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Alla Kudryavtseva 7-6 (3), 6-3.

Davenport mentioned that she’ll also be playing two other doubles events during the season leading up to the US Open. Without much pressure, look for Bryan and Davenport to sweep through the rounds and win the title.

The Curious Cases of Victor Hanescu and James Blake:

In weird fashion, both Blake and Hanescu suffered on-court drama before falling in their respective rounds. Blake, once a top ten player, now currently ranks outside of the top 100. During his match, he reportedly heard ESPN commentator Pam Shriver talking about his dismal playing, prompting some harsh remarks  during the match. Blake lost to Haase 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. Read more here.

Hanescu, who made it to the third round, was heckled by the crowd. His response? To spit. Afterward, he allegedly didn’t do his best. Hanescu foot-faulted, double-faulted, and complained his way before retiring against Germany’s Daniel Brands. The Romanian has been fined $15,000 as a result.

Venus, Tsonga Win; Azarenka Ousted

On the first day of the 2010 French Open, Venus Williams and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga posted wins in varying fashion – Venus won quite convincingly against her opponent, the crafty veteran Patty Schnyder, while Tsonga slid past the German Daniel Brands. On  the flip side, Victoria Azarenka continued a poor streak of play, losing to Gisela Dulko quite handily.

Williams beat Schnyder 6-3, 6-3, a strong showing for the first round, especially against such a strong player like the Swiss, who considers clay her best surface. Venus played a focused match, hitting her shots and not being afraid to really hit the ball. The only part of her game that let her down was the serve, which should become controlled as the tournament continues. If she can continue the strong form and continue to attack and move forward, I foresee Venus going very deep into the tournament as previously predicted. When Venus is on, there’s no stopping her. Unless of course the opponent is Serena Williams. However, the younger sister will have a tough time of getting past the semifinals, where she’ll likely meet her rival, Justine Henin of Belgium.

Contrasted to Venus’ success was Azarenka’s 6-1, 6-2 loss at the hands of Dulko. Injury has very much to do with her streaky play. With a result like that, it probably would have been better for Azarenka to simply retire. However, it’s nice knowing that she has the morals to fight it out on the court. There’s a real strength of character to her decision.  That said, she did miss her press conference, getting fined as a result. Hopefully, Azarenka can get her fitness and mind back in the game and show the exceptional form that took her to the quarterfinals of the last three Grand Slams.

On the ATP side, Tsonga won in a five-set battle against the German Brands, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6- 7 (2), 7-5. Also plagued with injury and fatigue, the result isn’t as much of a surprise. According to a recent Associated Press article, Tsonga has been having issues with his back, explaining the result. With the day off, look to see Tsonga regroup and win his next round more handily.

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