Category Archives: Tennis

Davis Cup Semifinals Recap

The Davis Cup – The World Cup of Tennis. From September 15-17, 2017, four teams vied for a spot in the 106th Davis Cup World Group finals, while nations losing in the quarterfinals battled to stay in the World Group league. For the first semifinal, Belgium and Australia faced off in Brussels. Meanwhile, in the second semifinal, France and Serbia met in Lille. Many expected easy victories for Australia and France, who have 28 and 9 Davis Cup titles, respectively. France cruised to a 3-1 victory, winning the best of five rubbers (the Davis Cup term for an individual match), and Belgium upset Australia by a score of 3-2.

In the Belgium-Australia match, World No. 12 David Goffin was looking to lead Belgium to another final after barely losing to Great Britain in 2015. Goffin first beat John Millman, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5. Nick Kyrgios responded by overcoming Steve Darcis in a brutal five set match, 6-3, 3-6, 6-7, 6-1, 6-2. The British doubles combination of John Peers and Jordan Thompson easily beat the Belgian doubles team, forcing Goffin to step up his level of play. During Goffin’s match against Kyrgios, he was initially down 6-7, but ultimately secured the necessary break points to win the next three sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

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Kyrgios, who has taken down many top five players, said, “I can always do better, but Goffin was too good.” Leveled at 2-2, Steve Darcis, who has been playing some of his best tennis, performed well again, easily beating Jordan Thompson.

In the France-Serbia match, many expected an easy win for France as Novak Djokovic was injured and not playing this year. Dusan Lajovic shocked many when he beat Lucas Pouille, giving Serbia an early lead. However, his level of play did not transfer to his teammates, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France easily beating Laslo Djere. Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, the duo that won the 2016 Wimbledon and 2015 US Open doubles tournaments, easily won the Rubber 3 match. For the Rubber 4 match, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga led France to another Davis Cup final with his four-set victory over Dusan Lajovic.

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Meanwhile, the World Group Playoffs occurred across many continents to determine next year’s World Group, which collectively represents the best teams from the three zones (the Americas, Europe/Africa, and Asia/Oceania). If they lose in the playoffs, teams can be relegated to the Group One zonal tournament. Argentina, the reigning champions and No. 1 seed, lost in a huge upset to Kazakhstan by a tally of 3-2, and will be relegated during Davis Cup 2018. The surprising result comes largely from Juan Martin Del Potro’s absence this year. The Netherlands also surprised many with their shocking victory over the No. 4 seeded Czech Republic, again attributed to the absence of a top player, Tomáš Berdych.

From November 24 to November 26, 2017, the Davis Cup finals will occur in France. The matchup between France and Belgium will be extremely close. The Davis Cup is unique, as players can cross over from singles to doubles in order to maximize their chances of winning. In 2014, Switzerland overcame France by only playing Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka across all matches, granting them a 3-1 victory. If Belgium only plays Steve Darcis and David Goffin, they will maximize their chances for obtaining Belgium’s first Davis Cup title.

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If they do so, they would most likely face Tsonga and Pouille in Rubber 1, 2, 4, and 5, and Herbert and Mahut in Rubber 3, the doubles match. A Darcis-Goffin duo may be able to take down the Grand Slam-winning Herbert and Mahut duo. However, Pouille leads 3-0 against Goffin (all in 2016) and Tsonga leads 4-2 against him. Additionally, Darcis usually loses in early rounds and has not faced Pouille before or Tsonga since 2002. Come November, I predict a relatively easy 3-1 or 3-0 French victory to grant them a tenth Davis Cup title.

An Early Look at the 2017 US Open

The 2017 ATP World Tour has been reminiscent of many past years with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal dominating the season. Leading up to the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the year, Rafael Nadal is ranked World No. 1 and Roger Federer is ranked No. 3. This year, Nadal also won a historic tenth French Open title while Federer won a historic eighth Wimbledon title and a fifth Australian Open title. Federer has won five total titles this year, despite missing quite a few tournaments. There are many players who have the potential to progress or even win the US Open; some are old favorites, and some are rising stars.

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The Big Four are always potential winners, but this year, Federer is the most dangerous. Despite missing the entire clay court season and Cincinnati Masters tournament due to injuries, Federer has maintained a 93.9% win record and has taken down many top ten foes. He has also played his best tennis in Grand Slams, winning two this year.

Nadal also has the potential to win, securing the World No. 1 ranking for the first time in three years. However, just as in years past, he has been struggling to perform at his peak level after the French Open, facing relatively early exists in Wimbledon, Montreal and Cincinnati.

Murray pulled out late on Saturday after the seeding was released due to an injury. Djokovic is also missing the US Open and perhaps much more of the season after his doctor recommended 6-12 weeks to recover from an elbow injury. Stan Wawrinka is also out after undergoing knee surgery.

The rising stars of men’s tennis are also poised to make headlines. Twenty year-old and fourth seed Alexander Zverev recently beat an injured Federer in Canada, perhaps making him a formidable candidate for this year’s trophy. However, he also lost to unseeded Francis Tiafoe in Cincinnati, and Roger Federer easily dispatched of Zverev 6-1, 6-3 in June’s Halle Open. Dominic Thiem, the sixth seed, could also make it well into the second week, but he has faced many early exits to unseeded players throughout the year.

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For the top half of the draw, my pick is that Federer makes it to the finals, defeating Nadal in a very close match. Based on his performance throughout the year, he can overpower Nadal potentially for the fifth time in a row. However, his first match against Frances Tiafoe showed how cautiously he was playing. That being said, Nadal leads 23-14 in the head-to-head rivalry. If Federer plays more assertively in later rounds of the US Open as analysts predict he will, he would be in a position to beat Nadal and win his sixth US Open title. Federer’s success in Flushing Meadows also overshadows Nadal, who has only won two titles.

Finalist #1: Roger Federer

As for the bottom half of the draw, my pick is Marin Čilić. Although Čilić played below average in the Wimbledon Final against Federer, Murray’s absence grants him a clear shot at the finals. The Croat has openly admitted his happiness regarding the easy draw that he has received given Murray’s lack of participation in the tournament, and has posted career best finishes in two major tournaments this year. Čilić also won the US Open in 2014.It looks as though he may face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the bottom half of his bracket, which could lead to a matchup against the higher-seeded Alexander Zverev. Given the Croat’s abundance of experience at the US Open, he has the upper hand.

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Roger Federer (right) had a very close call in the first round when he almost lost to US youngster Frances Tiafoe (left)

Finalist #2: Marin Čilić

Ultimately, my pick is Federer as the 2017 US Open Champion. While Federer may have claimed in recent interviews that, “I am not 25 anymore. I’m not sure I can win three slams in one year. Winning two is already pretty crazy and plenty good enough for me,” he knows that he is aging, he realizes that Murray, Wawrinka, and Djokovic are out, and he knows that Nadal is tired from the French Open and clay court season. He also just easily beat Čilić, who is quite possibly his biggest competitor in this tournament, in the Wimbledon finals and leads 7-1 in their head-to-head record. These factors will make his will to win even stronger. His record this season rivals his glory days in 2004 and 2007, and his opponents know it. Unless he suffers a serious injury or continues to struggle like he did against NextGen star Frances Tiafoe, Federer will fight on and come out victorious.