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.

3500

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.

78fc4b49-4678-4426-b6de-f66e8c3f4cc5

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.

davis-cup-sf-2015-darcis-goffin

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.

rafael-nadal1.jpg

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.

2156156-45080539-640-360

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.

2155796-45073339-640-360.jpg
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.

Youngsters Triumph in Montreal and Cincinnati, but Veteran Nadal Returns to No. 1

Though the 2017 tennis season has been dominated by older veterans, the aging bodies of the Big Four kept them away from the championship trophies in the two biggest lead-up tournaments to the US Open: the Canada Masters in Montreal and Cincinnati Masters in southern Ohio. Young players pounced on these opportunities, claiming major victories for themselves in these two pivotal tournaments.

When the draw was finalized in Montreal, it was already filled with holes. Novak Djokovic, then the defending champion, called off the rest of his season after Wimbledon due to elbow injury. Then-World Number One Andy Murray also withdrew, due to his own hip injury. Additionally, Stan Wawrinka, who recently reached the finals of the French Open, was also absent from the tournament, as he too ended his season early due to a knee injury.

article-2482291-05C1E30800000514-929_634x558.jpg
With Andy Murray (pictured) sidelined due to injury, Rafael Nadal was able to take the World Number 1 ranking relatively uncontested.
Thus, the clear favorites for the title were the two players who have dominated the past decade of tennis, but especially the past year: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. In addition to seeking another title at the Canada Masters, Nadal also had the opportunity to regain the world’s top ranking if he reached the semifinals of the tournament. However, the tournament’s top seed suffered an early exit in the third round at the hands of hometown wildcard Denis Shapovalov, who went on to make his own fairy-tale run to the semifinals.

Nadal’s departure left Federer as the sole favorite for the title, as the Swiss maestro has played superb tennis all season. Federer fought his way to the championship match, where he faced off against German youngster Alexander Zverev. Zverev, who is amidst a breakthrough year, handily defeated the heavily favored Swiss champion in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, to win his second Masters 1000 title of the year.

zverev-montreal-2017-friday-volley.jpg
Alexander Zverev (pictured) came away as the victor in the Montreal Masters.
Though Nadal did not reclaim the top ranking in Canada, he was ensured the world’s highest spot before play even began in Cincinnati due to the continued absence of Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka, as well as the withdrawal of Federer from the tournament due to back injury. A number of others joined the older champions in pulling out of Cincinnati, including Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori. This left Nadal as the sole member of the Big Four and as the favorite to win the tournament. However, the Spanish champion could not capitalize on the absence of his peers; it was again younger players who would seize the day.

Nadal fell to swaggering Australian powerhouse Nick Kyrgios in the quarterfinals in the second match of a doubleheader. Both Nadal and Kyrgios were forced to play two matches in a single day, as their third-round matches were rained out and then moved to the following day. In his third round match against the towering Croat Ivo Karlovic, Kyrgios fell behind early, but came back in the second and third set to play lights-out tennis. He replicated this play in his night match against Nadal, defeating the top seed in straight sets, 6-2, 7-5. In the semifinals, Kyrgios edged out another Spanish veteran in David Ferrer, 7-6, 7-6, to face Grigor Dimitrov in the final, who also won his semifinal match 7-6, 7-6, against hometown favorite John Isner. In the final, Dimitrov, long considered an up-and-comer who has never quite reached his full potential, defeated Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5 to claim the title.

2148013-44917670-2560-1440.jpg
Nick Kyrgios (left) defeated Rafael Nadal (right) in the Cincinnati Open, but eventually fell to Grigor Dimitrov in the finals.
Though Nadal fell short in both of these significant tournaments and failed to pounce on some rare opportunities, he did return to World Number One status through his efforts over the past two weeks. This is a special milestone for Nadal, who last held the world’s top ranking over three years ago in June 2014, as his injury struggles throughout 2015 and 2016 left him doubting whether he would ever return to his old form.

Stan Wawrinka’s Stellar 2017: Short, but Sweet

Standing six feet tall, 179-pound powerhouse Stan Wawrinka has demonstrated his tremendous capabilities in his 2017 tennis career. Currently ranked fifth in the world in men’s singles, Wawrinka has proven to be one of the top performers of 2017. He has demonstrated his ability to crush weaker opponents consistently and contest legendary players such as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer. Despite his recent withdrawal from the U.S. Open, Wawrinka has proven to be one of Switzerland’s most respected tennis players.

stan-wawrinka-ends-season-us-open.jpg
Injury has halted Wawrinka’s hopes of participating in the US Open.

Wawrinka’s first tournament this season was the Brisbane International, located in Queensland, Australia. He played two tough matches, beating Viktor Troicki 7-6, 6-4 in the Round of 16 and Kyle Edmund 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinal. Wawrinka played a tough match against the Japanese Kei Nishikori, and lost 7-6, 6-3. Although Wawrinka did not win the Brisbane International, he showcased his ability to play powerful tennis, while still implementing strategy into his game. This tournament was only the beginning of what would become one of Wawrinka’s best tennis seasons.

The Australian Open, one of the four annual Grand Slam tournaments, was Wawrinka’s next target. Martin Kližan gave a tough fight against the Swiss tennis player in the first round. Although Wawrinka was down a break in the fifth set, Wawrinka still managed to jump to a close win against Klizan, beating him 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.  All hope seemed to be lost when Wawrinka was down in the fifth set, but he quickly turned the match around and won four consecutive games, clinching him the match. Wawrinka carried his determination to win a second Australian Open title into the next few rounds. He managed to only lose a total of one set in the next four matches he played (against Steve Johnson, Viktor Troicki, Andreas Seppi and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga). He beat Johnson and Troicki in straight sets, gave up one set against Seppi, and defeated Tsonga in straight sets, bringing him to the semifinals of a major tournament once again. In the semifinals, Wawrinka faced off against Swiss compatriot Roger Federer. In a grueling and tight match, Federer finally defeated Wawrinka in five sets; this match demonstrated Wawrinka’s perseverance and ability to contest the legendary Roger Federer who would go on to win the tournament.

australian-open-tennis_af1b77c0-e3bd-11e6-95da-c88e93771820.jpg

Although Wawrinka lost in the first round in the Dubai Tennis Championships, he bounced back in the next tournament he played in: the Indian Wells Masters. Getting a bye in the first round, Wawrinka went on to win his second and third round in straight sets against Paolo Lorenzi and Philipp Kohlschreiber, respectively. In the fourth round and quarterfinals, Wawrinka faced more of a challenge, winning both matches in three sets. He played Austrian underdog Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals, a young tennis player rising through the ranks. Although Thiem proved to be a tough contender for Warwrinka, the Swiss veteran eventually put the Austrian youngster down, beating him 6-4, 4-6, 7-6. Wawrinka’s semifinal was a breeze, as he won 6-2, 6-2, and off he went to the finals against who else but Roger Federer. Wawrinka had recently met him in the Australian Open semifinals, and was going to try his best to defeat his Swiss friend. However, Federer once again came out on top and edged Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 in a close match for both players.

58873707

Players sometimes have days when they do not play as well as expected and end up losing in earlier rounds of the tournaments they play in. Wawrinka may have lost in the early rounds of the Miami Masters, the Monte-Carlo Masters, the Madrid Masters and the Rome Masters, but he did make up lost ground at the Geneva Open. Once again getting a bye in the first round, Wawrinka proceeded to face the Brazilian Rogério Dutra Silva in the second round. Dutra Silva was forced to retire the match after getting a right ankle injury, putting Wawrinka in the quarterfinals against American Sam Querrey. Wawrinka beat the sixth seed in three sets, winning 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.  Wawrinka moved on to the finals after beating Andrey Kuznetsov in straight sets in the semifinals and was ready to face his final opponent: Mischa Zverev. In a close and physically demanding match, Wawrinka finally won his first tournament of the year, beating Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Wawrinka’s next tournament was Paris’ world renowned grand slam, the French Open, or Roland Garros. In this tournament, Wawrinka played exceptional tennis and reached the finals, where he met Spanish champion Rafael Nadal. Wawrinka cruised through the first five rounds winning in straight sets, dismantling Jozef Kovalik, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Fabio Fognini, Gael Monfils, and Marin Čilić. In the semifinals, Wawrinka faced the tournament’s top seed: Andy Murray. The British world-number-one was off to a great start in the tournament, getting past Juan Martin del Potro and Kei Nishikori. However, Wawrinka put an end to his winning streak at the French Open in an amazing battle. Wawrinka eventually won the match in five sets, which included a tiebreak in the first and fourth set. The 2015 champion advanced to the finals where he played the legendary Rafael Nadal. Although Nadal beat Wawrinka in straight sets, the Swiss veteran proved to be a strong competitor against many other players at the French Open.

39161716_303.jpg

Unfortunately, Wawrinka cannot participate in tournaments for the rest of 2017 because of a knee injury. He has showcased his brilliant skills as a tennis player this season and has demonstrated his ability to win matches and contest tough opponents in an era where two monster powerhouses dominate the sport. Hopefully, the Swiss baseliner can recover soon and return to the game he has dominated thus far.

 

 

The Young Guns: The Future of Tennis

Roger Federer. Rafael Nadal. Novak Djokovic. Andy Murray. These four tennis superstars, collectively known as the Big Four, have ruled tennis for the past decade, with each of them taking a turn at the top. In total, they have won 48 out of the last 56 Grand Slam dating back to Federer’s first Wimbledon in 2003. . For the past 14 years, they have dominated almost every tournament and produced one of the biggest rivalries of all time: Federer vs. Nadal.

This past year has been a throwback to the years of Federer-Nadal dominance. Though both players appeared to be declining veterans, Federer won this year’s Australian Open and Nadal won the French Open last month. Though the Big Four are now all over the age of 30, they do not seem to be slowing down in any way.. However, there will come a time in the (hopefully distant) future when they will all retire, relinquishing their hold on the tennis world. Injuries and lack of motivation might start to creep in as the years roll by, and eventually a new generation of tennis players will take over.

OcAz65uk9W4.jpg

Some of these players have been labeled as the NextGen by many tennis experts and commentators because the Big Four’s dominance has stretched for so long.. These players are only 21 and younger, but have been marked as stars to watch in the future. Although the NextGen stars are considered exciting, there are some players in their mid-20s who could also possibly usurp the Big Four. With many new players starting to break onto the professional tennis scene, here are some of the players who will most likely bring the dawn of a new tennis era.

Alexander Zverev Jr.

Age: 20
Country: Germany
NextGen: Yes
Ranking: 12

alexander-zverev-roland-garros-2017-monday1.jpg

Alexander “Sascha” Zverev is a tennis player from Germany who is considered one of the brightest NextGen tennis players. Tennis runs in his blood, as his parents both played tennis for the Soviet Union., His older brother, nicknamed “Mischa,” is also a professional tennis player and is ranked number 30 in the world. After turning professional in 2013, he has continuously been on the rise since proceeding to the semifinals of his first ATP tour event in 2014. In 2015, he broke into the top-100 and made it to his first Grand Slam competition at Wimbledon. He broke into the top-20 the following year. In 2016, he impressed many by competing with many of the top players, defeating his idol Roger Federer, and winning his first ATP title against 2016 US Open Champion Stan Wawrinka. . This year he made even bigger strides by breaking into the top-10 and winning his first ATP Masters tournament (a level below Grand Slams) against Novak Djokovic. His keys to success have been his strong, fast serve and his solid, dependable backhand.

Dominic Thiem

Age: 23
Country: Austria
NextGen: No
Ranking: 8

thiem-brisbane-wednesday-2016.jpg

23-year-old Dominic Thiem of Austria has also been touted as one of the greatest players of this upcoming generation. After choosing to become a pro in 2011, he advanced to his first ATP final and the Fourth Round of the US Open in 2014. Since then, he has worked on his game to become a strong baseliner, using an aggressive one-handed backhand, which is rarely seen in someone so young. In 2015, despite not doing too well at the Grand Slams, he still consistently excelled on the ATP World Tour,, winning three ATP titles through his determination. By ascending in the rankings, Thiem entered a tournament as the top seed and finished the year ranked number 18.. Thiem translated his ATP Tour success to Grand Slams in 2016. A very strong clay court player, he upset then 9-time French Open champion, Rafael Nadal, en route to winning an ATP title on clay. At the French Open, he eventually reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time, which propelled him to number 7 in the world. In 2017, so far, he has won his eighth ATP title and advanced to his first Masters final. On the clay courts again, he recorded some major upsets by defeating Nadal at the the Rome Masters and demolishing Djokovic at the French Open in straight sets. His aggressiveness, consistency, and strong mentality has made him one of the greatest of his generation.

Milos Raonic

Age: 26
Country: Canadian
NextGen: No
Ranking: 7

1297578336276_ORIGINAL

The big-serving Canadian known for his philanthropic deeds is also one of the most promising players of his age. Despite being 26-years-old and turning pro nine years ago, he has come into his own in the last couple of years. The Big Four’s dominance overshadowed his achievements when he was in his early 20s, but he has been one of the few players who has slowly narrowed the gap and challenged the sport’s titans. Until 2010, Raonic mainly played in small ATP tournaments and qualified for the Grand Slams occasionally, but lost quite early. However, in 2011, he broke ground when he reached the Fourth Round of the Australian Open as a qualifier, the first to do so since 1999. Many former players praised Raonic, and he backed it up by winning his first ATP title to reach a career high of world number 25. In 2013, he consistently achieved success at many ATP tournaments and broke into the top-10 for the first time. In 2015, he reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time. Additionally, he reached the ATP World Tour Finals, a tournament where only the top eight players play, and was ranked as high as number four. Last year saw a new Raonic, as he was more consistent and determined than before. His hard work came to fruition when he reached the finals of Wimbledon, and ascended  to world number three. His strong forehand, serve and prowess on all surfaces has allowed him to grow into a strong player who could be the heir to the Big Four.

Federer’s Dominant Path to a Record 8th Wimbledon Title Overshadows Other Wimbledon Victors

This year’s Wimbledon brought many surprises and crowned champions new and old at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. On the gentlemen’s singles side, Roger Federer cemented his status as the greatest of all time and most certainly the greatest Wimbledon player of all time by winning the tournament and clinching a record 19th Grand Slam title. His 3-set, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 domination over Marin Čilić secured his record eighth Wimbledon Title, making him the only eight-time champion of the tournament. The man didn’t drop a set the entire way through. On the women’s side, Garbiñe Muguruza won her first Wimbledon singles title at just 23 years of age, defeating veteran female player and five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in straight sets.

DEyb92oXYAI5iBO.jpg

On the gentlemen’s doubles side, new champions Łukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo battled through four five-set matches to win their first Wimbledon doubles title, winning the championship in a thrilling 5-7, 7-5, 7-6, 3-6, 13-11 match against Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic. In women’s doubles, Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina dispatched Hao-Ching Chan and Monica Niculescu 6-0, 6-0 in just 55 minutes. Although this year unveiled many new champions, Federer’s victory stands above the others as he continues to break records and play some of the best tennis of his career.

Roger Federer’s victory was not entirely surprising, but still left many in the tennis community awed, including himself; Federer described the win as “magical.” Roger, 35, is the oldest man to win the Wimbledon singles title in the Open Era and broke the record of seven Wimbledon titles which he shared with Pete Sampras and William Renshaw. Federer had not won Wimbledon –or any Grand Slam– since 2012 (until this year), seeing his ranking fall to 17 in the world in January 2017 due to a 6-month injury layoff. It was the first time he ranked outside of the Top 10 since October 2002. After Federer broke his Grand Slam title drought in Australia earlier this year, tennis pundits and fellow players knew Federer would be formidable. It was the first time he beat Rafael Nadal at a Grand Slam other than Wimbledon.

3977.jpg

In the months leading up to Wimbledon, Federer dominated in two ATP Masters 1000 tournaments. The Masters 1000 circuit, which is just under the Grand Slam tournaments in prestige, had been controlled by Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal for all of 2016, with Federer never even reaching the final of any of the nine tournaments. Then, Federer won the first two Masters of the year by dismantling countryman Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 in Indian Wells and, again, Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in Miami.

After taking another break, this time for two and a half months, Federer returned to the ATP World Tour, losing his first match back. However, he quickly quelled rivals’ hopes when he won the Halle Open without dropping a set.

Federer’s return to Wimbledon, however, was flawless. In his first three rounds, he breezed through lower-ranking opponents Alexandr Dolgopolov, Dušan Lajović, and Mischa Zverev. Federer’s Round of 16 match against Grigor Dimitrov foreshadowed a thrilling match against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals and, if he won, against Andy Murray or Rafael Nadal in the finals. But Nadal’s five-set, nearly five-hour loss to Gilles Müller in the Round of 16 seemed to guarantee Murray a place in the final. In the Quarterfinals, more surprises came with Sam Querrey’s stunning five-set upset over Andy Murray. Furthermore, Djokovic, arguably Federer’s toughest competition at Wimbledon, retired to Tomáš Berdych. Federer had lost to Djokovic in the final in both 2014 and 2015; now, with Djokovic gone, it appeared as if Federer had already won the title.

4041

In the semifinals, 2014 US Open champion Marin Čilić regained his composure after losing the first set to Querrey, defeating him in four sets. Federer won in straight sets over Berdych, who was playing extremely well. In fact, Boris Becker, Djokovic’s former coach, commented that Federer had “10 gears” and “whenever he’s in trouble he comes out with an even better shot.” He added that Berdych “played great under pressure,” but Federer’s performance is “what makes him the greatest of all time.” Becker also believed that Čilić would be “dangerous” in the final. After all, Čilić defeated Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 at the 2014 US Open in New York and, last year, forced Federer to battle back from two sets down in a 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 3-6 loss at Wimbledon.

As Federer’s 11th Wimbledon final began, commentators noticed that Čilić looked “tight” early on. Federer’s early break also heightened Čilić’s nerves, who would go on to be plagued by a “huge blister”, and frustration. Federer broke again to secure the first set, 6-3. Federer had not lost a Grand Slam match after winning the first set since 2014, but he and experts knew that Čilić was dangerous. Čilić smashed his racket on his chair during the 6-3, 1-0 changeover, indicating he was mentally unraveling. Federer quickly won the next two games. Now, down 0-3, Čilić began to cry in his chair and some wondered if his slip in the first set hurt him more than he had initially let on. Čilić instilled some hope in his fans when he held serve to make the score 1-3, but ten minutes later Federer won the set 6-1.

5294

In the third set, Čilić stepped up his level of play, but the pressure proved too much at 3-3. Federer secured a necessary break and the held his serve to make it 5-3. Minutes later, Federer was up 6-3, 6-1, 5-4 and 40-30. At championship point, Federer missed his first serve, but nailed a second-serve ace down the middle to secure another Wimbledon title. After the match, Banter Sports writer Nima Majidi said that, “while this year’s Wimbledon tournament was full of upsets, the champion was no surprise. Roger Federer played a great match, and proved why he is the greatest player.”

In the trophy ceremony interview, Čilić admitted, “it was really tough today,” but humbly congratulated Roger for his victory. Federer took the opportunity to congratulate Čilić and assuaged concerns of retirement, saying “I hope I can come back next year to try to defend the title.” Banter Sports Tennis Editor Nikhil Lahiri offered his insight, adding, “Federer seems to be playing the best tennis of his life at the astounding age of 35. He shouldn’t be slowing down anytime soon.”

5400

Federer’s 19th Grand Slam title further extended his lead over other active tennis players. Nadal’s French Open victory last month placed him second with 15 Grand Slams. Meanwhile, Djokovic, who has been not in his best form as of late, trails at 12 Grand Slams. Perhaps Federer’s latest victory is due to the early exits of formidable rivals at this year’s Wimbledon Championships. Even so, his strong performance and consistent execution in matches makes him a dangerous opponent and a player to watch in the upcoming Masters 1000 tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati and at the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the year. As he rises to 3 in the World, despite starting at 17 in the beginning of the year, many are excited to see if Federer can win more tournaments and perhaps even secure the “No. 1” ranking. Either way, he will surely be celebrating his 8th Wimbledon and his $2.9 million prize.

Wimbledon 2017 – Gentleman’s Singles Preview

On Monday, the tennis tour will return to its sacred ground: The Championships, Wimbledon. To culminate the month-long grass-court season, tennis greats and unknowns alike will attempt to forever etch their name in tennis history by claiming the sport’s most coveted title.

Wimbledon’s pristine grass lawns have set the tournament apart from other tournaments, even other Majors, for decades now. The low bounces and quick play contrast sharply with the high bounces and long rallies of clay-court tennis played just a month ago. With only three weeks to make the transition, players must rapidly shift their playing styles, making the tournament a fascinating fortnight of tennis.

Picture1.png

With the qualifying tournament complete and the first round underway, let’s breakdown the draw for a closer look at the next two weeks.

Gentlemen’s Singles Draw Preview

At the top of the draw sits defending champion, top-seed, and World Number One Andy Murray. Murray has achieved his best results on the grass, winning two titles on his home-turf in 2013 and 2016 respectively. Murray accumulated a streak of success towards the end of last year, winning Wimbledon, Olympic Gold, and the ATP World Tour Finals to finish as year-end Number One. However, Murray hasn’t been able to replicate the same level of success this year, losing in the fourth round of the Australian Open and in the semifinals of the French Open. In his Wimbledon tune-up, Murray, the clear favorite to win the 500-level tournament, fell in his first match to a Lucky Loser. Murray’s quarter of the draw includes some dangerous players. Nick Kyrgios, the big-serving, swaggering 22-year-old who took out Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014, could have met Murray in the third round, but he removed himself from the tournament due to a nagging injury after going down two sets in the first round. Fifth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who reached the finals of the French Open last month, was eliminated in the first round, clearing a path to the semifinals for Murray. My pick to meet Murray in the quarters is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the big-serving and hard-hitting Frenchman. Despite Murray’s recent struggles, his mastery of the grass makes him the obvious pick to reach the semifinals from his quarter.

tsonga_2267787b

The importance of tradition at Wimbledon has set it apart as a unique tournament. Wimbledon differs from many other tournaments through its seeding system. While most tournaments seed players based only on their ATP or WTA ranking, Wimbledon factors in success on grass in its seeding formula. As a result, world number two Rafael Nadal is seeded fourth. Nadal has looked incredible during the first half of the year, reaching many finals during the year’s first quarter and dominating the clay-court season. Dangerous players in Nadal’s section include big server Gilles Mueller and Lukas Rosol, who defeated Nadal in the second round of Wimbledon in 2012. However, I’d bet on Nadal’s recent excellent play to propel him to the quarterfinals. At the bottom of Nadal’s quarter, Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic are likely to meet in the fourth round in a rematch of the 2014 US Open final. Cilic, with a hard and flat game, is the clear favorite in that match-up. A Nadal-Cilic quarterfinal will prove interesting. Despite Nadal’s recent dominance, he has struggled mightily at Wimbledon since his last run to the final in 2011. Nadal’s topspin-heavy game and injury prone body has prevented him from winning a third Wimbledon title. Cilic has made a few deep runs at grass-court warm-up tournaments, while Nadal has rested his body since a highly successful clay-court season. The addition of Carlos Moya to Nadal’s coaching team should help him transition from clay to grass. This match-up is a tossup, but I lean towards Cilic. In a Murray-Cilic semifinal, the hometown favorite Murray has the crowd, the surface, and experience all behind him.

My pick for the top half’s finalist: Andy Murray.

Onto the bottom half. Novak Djokovic, the world number four, is seeded second despite his struggles over the past six months. Djokovic claimed a title in Eastbourne on grass-courts this week, which should inject the Serb with some much-needed confidence. A potential matchup with Juan-Martin del Potro in the third round could prove interesting, but I see no legitimate threat to Djokovic’s quarterfinal chances. There, he could face Dominic Thiem, the young Austrian who defeated Djokovic in quarterfinals of the French Open, or Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon finalist. Thiem’s struggles on grass point towards a Berdych-Djokovic quarterfinal, a matchup that shouldn’t trouble the second seed. Blessed with a relatively easy draw, I see Djokovic advancing to the semifinals in London.

novak-djokovic-day-one-the-championships-wimbledon-2016-27062016_1mk2dhtnwtylp14mf4osw7wx8s.jpg

Roger Federer, 7-time Wimbledon champion and world number five, has been seeded third due to his unmatched grass-court record. Federer has looked utterly dominant this year, winning the Australian Open, the Indian Wells and Miami Masters, and a recent grass-court title in Halle, Germany. Federer skipped over the clay-court season, historically his worst stretch of the year, to prepare for this very moment. His quarter of the draw appears most interesting. Federer is likely to meet Grigor Dimitrov, nicknamed “Baby Fed” for his Roger-esque game, in the fourth round. Fed versus Baby Fed will be fun to watch, but the Swiss champion should have no problem advancing to the quarterfinals. Here, he could likely face eighth-seeded Milos Raonic or tenth-seeded Alexander “Sascha” Zverev–both interesting matchups. Raonic reached the finals last year and will be seeking to replicate last year’s success with his big serve and hard, flat groundstrokes. Zverev has rapidly ascended the tennis rankings over the past year and looks to be a future star. Though Raonic struggled in pre-Wimbledon grass court tournaments, I lean towards the big-serving Canadian to battle past Zverev and reach the quarterfinals. This would set up a rematch of last year’s Raonic-Federer semifinal, in which Raonic upset Federer. This year’s match should produce a different result, as Raonic will likely struggle to topple the dominant Federer.

Wimbledon-2012-finalists-Roger-Federer-and-Andy-Murray.jpg

Should the bottom half play out as I predict, Federer and Djokovic should face off in the semifinals. This match could prove to be the jewel of the tournament, as the two faced off in successive Wimbledon finals in 2014 and 2015. Both of these championship matches are memorable, and the 2014 five-setter has become legendary in the world of tennis as one of the all-time great matches. I most look forward to this match-up, where a superb Federer will look to avenge his previous losses against a struggling yet determined Djokovic. I’m hoping for another five-set epic, but Federer is simply playing too well to beat. I pick Federer in five sets to advance to the final against Murray.A Federer-Murray championship match, a rematch of the 2012 final, should produce a similar result in 2017. Murray is a fighter, tougher than almost any player on tour. He will defensively battle back against whatever is thrown at him. But Federer has form, confidence, and seven Wimbledon Championships on his side. My guess? Federer in four sets to win a record eighth Wimbledon title (surpassing Pete Sampras) and a mind-boggling nineteenth Grand Slam title.