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Tenaciously Tennis


Ginepri’s November Crash Squirrels Away Australian Open Chance

Posted in Robby Ginepri by Ben on December 24, 2010

American Robby Ginepri won’t be making the trip down under for this year’s Australian Open. After sustaining an arm injury from a motorcycle accident in November, he hopes to be ready for action by March.  The cause of the accident? Trying to avoid a squirrel. PETA would be proud.

According to Ginepri’s official website, however, he has started to practice again. A post dated December 13 — before he pulled out of the Aussie Open — had a more optimistic message about his near future. It reads, “After a long and patient wait from being sidelined this fall due to a biking accident, Robby is getting back into the swing of things and started hitting the practice courts last week for the first time since September. Throughout the fall, Robby has been doing extensive physical therapy and rehab five times a week to accelerate the recovery of his elbow he underwent surgery on in September. Robby is not practicing and training a full schedule yet, but is hoping to be able to in the New Year.”

The good news: the squirrel’s fine and had ample time to collect acorns in preparation for winter. The bad news: the 28-year old will be doing some hibernating of his own until March.

See below for a video of Ginepri’s warm-up routine; he’ll be getting a lot of practice (and nothing else) for the next few months.

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US Open Predictions – ATP Tour

The US Open is finally upon us. The stage has been set, the qualifying is over, and the last major of the year is underway. Here’s my review of each section of the draw.

Rafael Nadal’s Quarter:

This section of the draw is owned by one man: Rafael Nadal, the number one player in the world, and the winner of both the French Open and Wimbledon. He’s primed to take home his first US Open title on paper, but his US Open Series has been severely lacking, raising some questions about his most recent form on the hard courts. Regardless, this is a major tournament, and there’s no one that enjoys the grind more than Nadal.

The first real test for the Spaniard seems to be Ivan Ljubicic, but even that’s a stretch. I’m going for Nadal to get through to the quarterfinals in dominating fashion.

Other notables: Ryan Harrison, the young American qualifier, plays Ljubicic in the first round. Can he get the upset? Probably not.

Fernando Verdasco’s Quarter:

Verdasco and David Ferrer, both Spaniards, own this section of the draw. There is, however, a very dangerous 31st seed in the Argentinian David Nalbandian. Something about Ernests Gulbis, the 24th seed, is also enticing. I’ll pick Gulbis to face against Nalbandian for a spot in the quarters. In that match, I’m going with Nalbandian to find himself across the net from Nadal.

Other notables: None. I’ll just stress that Gulbis and Nalbandian are ones to watch.

Andy Murray’s Quarter:

With a strong US Open Series, including his win over both Nadal and Federer in Toronto, I like the looks of Murray going into this event. And his path doesn’t look to difficult until getting to the fourth round. There, I’m going with Sam Querrey to fight for the chance at the second week.

Murray, however, will win in three or four sets. He’s too masterful of a tactician to get shocked by Querrey’s power.

Other notables: Can the 14th seed Nicholas Almagro make any noise by defeating the home favorite Querrey in the third round?

Tomas Berdych’s Quarter:

The tennis world hasn’t heard too much from Berdych since his stunning run to the Wimbledon finals, where he was promptly dominated by Nadal. This section of the draw won’t make a repeat performance any easier. With Mikhail Youzhny, Xavier Malisse, and John Isner looming in the background, Berdych will need to prove he’s ready to continue his success at the majors. He made the semifinals at the French Open, too. Can he keep up the form when the pressure’s really on?

I’m going for the compelling match-up featuring Isner and Berdych. Although Isner’s health looks questionable, get injured in the last tournament he played, I’m looking for a good showing for the American giant. In the fourth round, however, Berdych stops the big guy without a problem.

Other notables: Youzhny could very well break my prediction with some inspired play against Isner in the third round. Watch out.

Nikolai Davydenko’s Quarter:

While this is called Davydenko’s section — he’s the sixth seed?! — it really belongs to Andy Roddick. Davydenko has been suffering recently with injury, and while Roddick isn’t doing too much better health-wise with his mono, he’s proven he’s on the fast track to recovery. I say it’s already a thing of the past.

Roddick shouldn’t have too much trouble making it to the fourth round. Gael Monfil had a lot of trouble in his first round match, barely getting by Robert Kendrick in the first round. I predict Roddick gets into the quarterfinals.

Other notables: The Frenchman Richard Gasquet may very well have the form to take out Davydenko early on. Even so, I’d say Roddick can dispatch Gasquet without too much trouble.

Novak Djokovic’s Quarter:

This section also reads incredibly tough on paper. While Djokovic stands out as the heavy favorite to get through by seeding, one American, Mardy Fish, has been playing some incredible tennis recently. At the top of the quarter, the 16th seed Marcos Baghdatis is more fit than ever before. I call Fish advancing in a tight and dramatic four-setter against the Cypriot. The winner faces Djokovic without a doubt.

Other notables: Wild card James Blake and Robby Ginepri might become inspired by the home crowd. Both made the US Open quarterfinals a few years ago.

Robin Soderling’s Quarter:

Although Soderling, the 5th seed, looked shaky in the opening round, he gains confidence as the tournament progress. He’ll make the fourth round without dropping another set.

Marin Cilic finds good form — he looked good in practice when the qualifying tournament was going on — and doesn’t drop a set on his way to play Soderling. That is, unless one Japanese qualifer doesn’t get in his way (explained below) In the probably match Cilic-Soderling, however, Soderling prevails in five sets.

Other notables: Qualifier Kei Nishikori, who made the fourth round before injury set in, has looked sharp so far in his four matches. With a withdrawal after two sets in the first round, he’ll have the extra rest to do some damage. He may give Cilic a real test in the third round. In fact, I hope he does.

Roger Federer’s Quarter:

This section, of course, belongs to Federer. He’s gunning for his second major in a year and number 17 in total. After losing in two straight Grand Slam quarterfinals, he’s hungry for the win. With Paul Annacone as his full-time coach and his new, aggressive brand of tennis, he’s looking very, very good. Federer cruises into the quarterfinals in straight sets all the way.

Other notables: Jurgen Melzer and Lleyton Hewitt are promising, but there’s no way either can get past Federer in a major tournament.

The Quarters and Semis:

In the top half, Nadal defeats Nalbandian in four, while Andy Murray loses to Berdych in five sets. In the semis — a rematch of Wimbledon — Nadal dispatches Berdych, although this time in four sets.

In the bottom half, Roddick faces Djokovic, a player he’s beaten four times in a row. He continues the streak to make the semis. There, he faces Federer, the winner versus Soderling to avenge his quarterfinal defeat at Roland Garros. Federer beats Roddick in three.

No American Men in Top Ten — Why I’m Not Worried

With Andy Roddick’s recent loss  in the third round of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, there is no American man in the ATP’s top ten — a first since 1973. While Roddick may be suffering (physically or otherwise), I don’t believe American tennis is in trouble at all. In fact, there’s a lot of which to be proud.

Even Roddick isn’t doing too shabby — he’s simply hitting a rough patch right now, and I’m sure he’ll bounce back in the coming weeks. Plus, he just announced he’ll be out of the Rogers Cup due to illness. If he’s down enough to pull out of such a major North American event, there’s something serious going on. Roddick isn’t the type of guy to simply drop playing a tournament over a loss. Time’s too precious.

Back to the positive: John Isner and Sam Querrey are big threats hovering around the top 20 in the world. Right there, we have three Americans ranked in the top 20. Mardy Fish, too, has been playing some spectacular tennis claiming titles and being extremely fit. He’s playing the best in his career, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

Robby Ginepri, not typically in the conversation, did well to make it to the fourth round at the French Open — the major that most Americans typically don’t fare well playing. That’s a big deal right there, and a welcome one.

Outside of singles, there’s doubles excellence: Bob and Mike Bryan just claimed their 62nd title to make history, while Fish teamed up with Mark Knowles to take home the trophy together at the Legg Mason tournament.

So, while there hasn’t been an American man hoisting a major title since Roddick’s US Open win in 2003 — an event that may not happen for some time — there are serious contenders poised for the spotlight. Will it be Isner? Querrey? Or a veteran making a surprise run to a big title? The US Open would be the place for it to happen.

I’m excited by these results the past few months on tour for US tennis, and I don’t think anyone should get too caught up in the rankings. These days, the field has great depth — especially in the men’s field — to linger on it too long, except, of course, if we’re talking about Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer. That’s another matter entirely.

Isner Wins in Atlanta; Other Americans Advance, Too

As the US Open Series gets underway with the ATP’s Atlanta and Lexington events, a slew of American men advanced, signifying a strong start on home territory. John Isner, seeded second in Atlanta, won his first match back on tour since his marathon Wimbledon win over Nicholas Mahut. James Blake, however, fell to Taylor Dent in three sets in the tournament’s first round– indicative of his lackluster year. Let’s take a look at the results.

Isner, the winner of the longest match in tennis history, deserves to go far in Atlanta after his historic result (followed by a quick three-set loss in the major’s second round). Isner beat Gilles Muller 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (7)  in his first match back.

Blake, a former top ten player with a career-high rank of four in 2006, hasn’t been in form for over a year now. The last time he made it past the third round of a major was at the 2009 Australian Open. Once a threat at Grand Slams, his results this year include a second round result at the Sunny Slam and a loss in the first round of Wimbledon. Blake didn’t play at the French Open. With the way things are going, Blake isn’t looking sharp heading into his best major — the US Open. There, he made it to consecutive quarterfinals in 2005 and 2006.

Regardless, it’s great to see Dent advance. Prone to injury, Dent, who reached a career-high ranking of 21 in 2005, looks poised to get back into the top 50 if he keeps excelling. Currently ranked 94, I see the California native building off his second round results at the past three majors to get a good showing at the US Open, an event he made it to the fourth round in 2003. If his draw is kind, look for a repeat performance of that result. After beating Blake in the round of 32, Dent won against the fourth-seeded Horacio Zeballos in three sets, including a bagel in the third, to get to his first ATP quarter-final since 2005.

At the same event, longtime friends and doubles partners, Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish advanced in two sets. Look for the duo to take home the title. Both Roddick and Fish are into the final 16 in singles, too. After an early loss at Wimbledon, Roddick could definitely use the win, especially on home turf. As the event’s top seed, look for a smooth ride into the finals, including over Rajeev Ram in the next round. The main competition in his quarter — Xavier Malisse in the semis.

Fish next meets compatriot Robby Ginepri, an opponent noteworthy for getting to the fourth round at this year’s French Open — a rare result for an American man. I see Ginepri pulling off the upset.

Wild card Donald Young won his match against Israel’s Dudi Sela along with Michael Russell, who beat Germany’s Benjamin Becker. At the Lexington tournament, Jesse Levine overcame a tough test from Brydan Klein to win 7-6 (4), 7-6 (8).

Wimbledon Predictions – The ATP Tour

Roger Federer’s loss to Lleyton Hewitt last week and a tough draw for Rafael Nadal signify a tough time for the two previous champions. Can both overcome the tough challenge that lays ahead of them? I think so. Let’s take a systematic look at the draw and crack this year’s Wimbledon code.

The First Quarter:

Notables – Roger Federer (1), Tommy Robredo (30), Feliciano Lopez (22), Jurgen Melzer (16), Tomas Berdych (12), Stanislas Wawrinka (20), Victor Hanescu (31), Nikolai Davydenko (7)

In this section, the obvious person to pull through is Federer, the five time champion. I see him advancing to the fourth round without much trouble. Once there, however, I see a tough test against Tomas Berdych in the future. Also noteworthy, Lopez of Spain, who beat Nadal a couple weeks ago. While Federer didn’t play too sharply against Hewitt in his pre-Wimbledon warm-up, it’s a different story in a Grand Slam. Watch Davydenko, whose been having a tough year so far, falter before the fourth round.

The Final Four: Federer faces Lopez, and Berdych handily defeats an ailing Davydenko.

The Second Quarter:

NotablesNovak Djokovic (3), Taylor Dent, Albert Montanes (28), Gael Monfils (21), Lleyton Hewitt (15), Marin Cilic (11), Mardy Fish, Ivan Ljubicic (17), Philipp Kohlschreiber (29), Andy Roddick (5)

This is a difficult part of the draw for Roddick, the guy I’m rooting for. He’s had some poor results this past few months, including a basically non-existent clay court season. Yes, he made it to the third round, which is as good as a showing as any for the top male American, but his third showing at Queens Club was his worst ever. Hopefully, this 2009 Wimbledon finalist can recall the drive and belief that took him to a fifth set against Federer last year. That match his to win. I see Roddick making it to the fourth round without losing a set. There’s no one to do any damage to his exceptional serving game and strong baseline rallying capabilities. The rest these past few months might also help. If anything, he’s fresh. It’s all up to the Roddick serve. Once he makes it there, I see a tough match against Marin Cilic in his future. He should, however, pull through.

The Final Four: Hewitt looks to be a difficult opponent with his win against Federer. I say he dismantles Djokovic. In the bottom half, Roddick proves to be too much for Cilic.

The Third Quarter:

Notables – Fernando Verdasco (8), Julien Benneteau (32), Nicholas Almagro (19), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (10), Juan Carlos Ferrero (14), Sam Querrey (18), Gilles Simon (26), Andy Murray (4)

Out of this slew of players, the only one that I feel holds a chance at victory is Sam Querrey, which is surprising given his lackluster Grand Slam performances in the past. With his best performance coming in the fourth round of the 2008 US Open, and only making it to the second round at Wimbledon last year, he has a lot to prove. Regardless, his career high ranking and win over compatriot Mardy Fish in the finals of Queens Club shows he’s ready to do well on grass. With three titles to his name already this year, I see at least a quarterfinal run for the giant American. It won’t be easy with Murray as a potential fourth round opponent, but I like his chances. A lot.

The Final Four: Tsonga surprises Verdasco in five close sets in the top half. In the bottom section, Querrey gives everything to take out Britain’s hope Murray in another five set blockbuster to make his first quarterfinal showing in a Grand Slam.

The Fourth Quarter:

Notables – Robin Soderling (7), Robby Ginepri, Thomaz Bellucci (25), Marcos Baghdatis (24), David Ferrer (9), Mikhail Youzhny (13), John Isner (23), Philipp Petzschner (33), James Blake, Rafael Nadal (2)

Notice Nadal’s section as probably one of, if not the, most difficult in all four sections. I think he needs to watch out for John Isner big time. There’s no saying how Isner will play on a given day. But if he’s at his best, and his baseline game mirrors his wicked serve, the American can take out anyone, even Nadal. I’m not saying that’s probable, but it’s a slim possibility. On the top section, Soderling has a difficult match afainst Ginepri to go through. Other than that, it should be an easy time to make it to the fourth round. There, I see him facing Marcos Baghatis.

The Final Four: Soderling defeats Baghdatis in three sets, and Nadal faces a test against Isner in four.

Second Week Predictions:

  • Federer fends off Berdych
  • Roddick stops Hewitt’s string of grass wins in three
  • Querrey, assuming he plays the match of his life against Murray, faces a pumped up Tsonga. Querrey wins in five for a second straight top ten victory.
  • Nadal notches another win against the Swedish Soderling in a three set repeat of the French Open final.

In the semifinals, I don’t see Roddick repeating the excellent play against Federer. I think he’ll bow out in four sets, much to my chagrin. As for Querrey (or Murray with a serious asterisk), Nadal’s too much to handle in a Grand Slam semifinal. Get ready for much-needed Federer – Nadal final. We’ll leave that prediction for another day — it’s just too close to decide in my mind.

For the men’s official draw, look here.

Two of the Last Men Standing – An Unlikely Pair

With the final sixteen decided, only one man is left for both the United States and France. While unseeded Robby Ginepri now represents the US, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga stands for his country. Tsonga’s latest win also means he’s the last Frenchman standing, period. The US is fairing slightly better, however, with Serena and Venus Williams joining Ginepri in the fourth round.

The latest casualties for the US include some of the biggest names: Andy Roddick and Mike and Bob Bryan. Roddick, according to an Associated Press article, “lost to Russian qualifier Teimuraz Gabashvili 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Roddick threw rackets and argued with the umpire, but the fits of temper failed to produce a turnaround against an opponent ranked 114th.” To be honest, this poor showing on the clay was to be expected. Roddick did not play before coming to Paris, and it is not surprising in the least that he’d fall so soon.

On Tsonga’s side, losses by Marion Bartoli and Aravane Rezai have left him alone. With Gael Monfils exiting the day before, he has the weight of his country to deal with in the coming rounds.

Predictions: I see Ginepri falling in three sets to Novak Djokovic in the next round. Ginepri has done well to make it this far, but his play during the two sets he lost against Juan Carlos Ferrero was unsettling. After playing exceptionally for the first half of the match, the American looked unstoppable. However, he quickly lost his accuracy, and it went to a fifth. He won’t have that sort of mental lapse of luxury against the world’s number three, who is a good clay court player in his own right.

As for Tsonga, I call him getting past Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny in four and finding a tough match against Andy Murray later on.

Things Get Heated On and Off the Red Clay of Roland Garros

With players verbally attacking one another, others quitting, upsets occurring, and poor decisions being made by French Open officials, this year’s event at Roland Garros proves to be highly dramatic. Who’s involved in the fray so far? We have Marion Bartoli and Aravane Rezai engaged in some bad blood over media coverage, American Sam Querrey feeling discouraged after a first round loss to veteran Robby Ginepri and pulling out of the doubles event, and the curious cases of the French throwing the French under the bus. Yup, that’s right. Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, and Gael Monfils were forced to play (or made to stop playing) to both players’ chagrin. What a tournament, and it’s still only the first week!

Let’s take a look at each case.

1. The Case of the Verbal French Cat Fight:

Rezai openly said that Bartoli is jealous of the spotlight being given to her, despite her lower ranking. “Marion is a difficult girl. She already attacked me two years ago when I reached the final in Istanbul,” said Rezai. “If she has a problem with me, I don’t know, because I did nothing. That’s a bit of a shame, but that’s her education. I mean, she attacked me many times in the press. She reportedly said:

“I don’t have the same education as the one she has. I think I have respect for players. I do what I have to do. I get on with many people. But with Marion, it’s very difficult. She has difficulties getting included with the other girls.”

Well, Bartoli has every right to get angry in my opinion. She’s the one to have made it to a Grand Slam final, she’s ranked higher, has the experience, etc. But the fact of the matter is she simply doesn’t have the “it” factor. Without that, she’ll be pushed aside by the up-and-comers. She’s different, she’s no younger, beautiful teenager. She uses two hands on both sides and a highly unorthodox father. Her destiny is, and will probably remain, relative anonymity. In the meantime, let the cat fight ensue. It’s interesting stuff.

2. Querrey’s Poor Attitude

Contrasted to the first French fiasco is an American’s problem, not with anyone else but himself. Querrey, after losing to Ginepri, pulled out of the double’s event, too. Basically, just when things were looking up for American men’s tennis, just when there seemed to be someone else to count on besides Andy Roddick, we’ve taken another step back. Sure, we have the giant John Isner, but only one guy isn’t enough. Querrey needs to find himself again and fast. For the sake of his career and the country’s tennis future.

3. French Men Fried

A final example of the drama intensifying the clay Slam is the poor treatment of French players Tsonga, Monfils, and Gasquet. Both Tsonga and Gasquet wanted to started later, but to no avail. Instead, they were forced to play under difficult physical conditions.

Tsonga said in a recent statement: “Frankly, I was a bit disappointed because I was playing on a Sunday. I had asked not to play on a Sunday, absolutely, because I had practiced in such a way that I thought I wanted to play on a Monday or Tuesday, to be totally fit. But they imposed it on me.”

While Tsonga won in five, Gasquet lost in five. Maybe not the best idea? Monfils, too, has problems of his own. According to an Associated Press article, “Local favorite…Monfils of France survived three match points in a thrilling second round match against Fabio Fognini that was suspended because of darkness at the French Open on Wednesday.” Regardless of whether or not Monfils wanted to keep playing, it just shows that the French might not be filling at home at their own tournament. Maybe a move to another venue would be better after all….

Henin and Nadal Begin with a Bang

Justine Henin and Rafael Nadal, my two picks to win the event, began their French Open campaigns with strong showings. Henin beat Tsvetana Pironkova (try saying that ten times fast), 6-4, 6-3, while Nadal took out Gianni Mina, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. There easy wins portray two players confident on the red dirt, and it will be interesting to see how these two stories develop over the next two weeks.

And, yes, they will both last for all of the two weeks. Henin, despite winning a title in Stuttgart, did not come back to the WTA tour after her retirement simply to win a title in Stuttgart. She’s hungry for much, much more. And while her draw is far from easy (one could make a strong case that it’s the worst in the draw with potential meetings against Maria Sharapova, Sam Stosur, and Serena Williams before the finals), she knows how to succeed at Roland Garros. Nadal no doubt feels quite the same. He needs to prove that not only is he back in the swing of things, he can swing his way to another Grand Slam title. There’s no reason why these dreams cannot become a reality soon enough.

Besides these two, the Americans were in action today, with wins posted by Andy Roddick in a five-set thriller, Robby Ginepri, who upset compatriot Sam Querrey, veteran Jill Craybas, and Betthanie Mattek-Sands, the winner over another American, Vania King.

While it will be difficult for any of them to make a real run for the title, it’s nice to see each fighting through themselves and making the effort to win on the surface on which Americans are notoriously poor players. Who knows what can happen, really.

Other matches of note: Sharapova won in straight sets and Kimiko Date Krumm (one of, if not, the tournament’s oldest player at age 39) took out last year’s finalist, Dinara Safina in the biggest upset so far.

What a day! And the tournament has only just begun.


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