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Friday, 22 July 2011

Nothing major nowadays but at least something's going on on the ATP Tour.

With three of the four majors gone already this year tennis seems to ease into the background with many sports taking it's deserved spotlight like football(americans might call it soccer) and the everlasting F1 calendar. However I would like to look back on this year's majors and accomplishments by the top players.

After Federer winning the end of year ATP tournament people seem to think nothing's changed at the very top and that Federer and Nadal are still going to set the pace and whisk off every formality till they get to finals in any bigger tournaments and we are again going to bathe in the genius of those two. However this year was going to be Djokovic's journey to indestructibly and never lasting form.

January came at last and every tennis fan was turned to Melbourne as the top players battled for the first major of the year. The beginning of the tournament was going very smoothly without any hiccups therefore the second week's quarterfinals were as expected with the top 4 being very much in contention. However Ferrer pulled off what seemed to be impossible as he beat Nadal in the last 8 with some superb returns and  unpredictable forehand. So the 'Rafa Slam' as the press called it was diminished. (The Rafa Slam was that at the time Nadal had the last 3 majors from 2010 and if he won the Australian Open he would hold all of them at the same time). So the semi-finals were as follows Ferrer-Murray and Djokovic-Federer. I thought that it's going to be a repeat from the year before when Murray lost in straight sets to the almighty genius that is Federer. However that was the time the lion took his bite as Djokovic won against Federer in spectacular manner and really began his roll of consecutive wins. He was facing Murray in the final as Murray didn't flinch and got past Ferrer in another night of top level tennis. So it was the younger players that reached the final and showed everyone that they are going to be a bigger force in this year's tour. The final started off with long rallies of consistency until Djokovic took the game to another level and was winning most of the points. Unfortunately for British fans the situation stayed the same and Djokovic took his second Grand Slam. For me it was a dramatic U-turn as I was expecting like many people for Federer to take the top spot again in a fantastic form that gave him so many majors over the past years. However what Djokovic did was unbelievable to me as his consistency off the base line was just phenomenal and that he was like a tiger waiting to pounce only not with teeth but accuracy off his forehand and backhand.

So there was it the first major ended in a big surprise to some people. However the hard-court hasn't ended with Masters tournaments in Miami and Indian Wells providing opportunity for Nadal to get his dominance back. At first though I thought it was just a mistake that Nadal lost and Djokovic was wiping his opponents from the court, but this was not the case as Djokovic wrapped up the tournaments in America with ease and still having not lost one match even against Nadal or Federer from which he took the number second place in the rankings in Miami.

With the tennis tour coming into the clay season I was just absolutely sure that Nadal will overcome the unstoppable force that Djokovic had become. However the Monte Carlo tournament that was starting the season was without Djokovic so Nadal had to wait bit more to challenge Novak but at least he showed why he's sooo good on clay. Every time I watch him I'm stunned at how he runs after every ball even if it seems a lost cause sometimes but because he's so athletic he can get to the ball in time and still put so much spin on it the opponent just can't do anything about it but just watch it as skims the line and hits the unsuspecting ball boy. After the incredible win by Nadal in the city of no tax and never ending luxury the top players had a week of peace the world stage went to Madrid with nearly every top player participating. Surprise surprise the final again was Djokovic vs Nadal with the Serb coming on top again.         This seemed very weird to me as how can Nadal lose on clay; however this again might have just been a malfunction so the very next week Rome was the place to host the cream of tennis. It was business as usual again with the top players getting through to the later stages however an upset was generated by the very talented Richard Gasquet as his backhand saved few match points against Federer and managed one of his own and got through.

Ok unfortunately I need to go but more on this later.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Wimbledon Review

A memorable 125th Championships ended with two new names on the singles honours boards. The men's title went, for the first time, to a player from Serbia as Novak Djokovic halted Rafael Nadal's 20-match winning streak at Wimbledon - a run which included the 2008 and 2010 titles - with a merited 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 victory. It was the Serb's fifth victory over Nadal in a final this year and took his won-lost record for 2011 to an incredible 48-1. Nadal was playing with a pain-killing injection in a sore foot, suffered in the fourth round and was below his best form. Djokovic on the other hand swept all before him, and was justly congratulated by the loser for playing "very, very high level''.
In the ladies' singles Petra Kvitova upset the form book by outhitting the 2004 champion and hot favourite Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4. The 21-year-old lefty added further lustre to the tennis reputation of the Czech Republic as two of her compatriots and former Wimbledon champions, Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna, looked on from the Royal Box, alongside eight other ladies' champions of yesteryear. Navratilova, now an American citizen and winner of nine Wimbledons, had perceptively predicted that her fellow left-hander's serve and groundstrokes would prove too much for Sharapova to handle and she was proved correct. The tall blonde kept her nerve and emotions in check until she met Novotna and Navratilova afterwards, when the tears finally flowed.
For Sharapova, defeat came as a bitter blow as she gradually rediscovers the form which had won her three Grand Slams before undergoing a shoulder operation in 2008. She had reached the final without conceding a set but her service remains her weak point - the final saw her lose five of her eight service games and double-fault six times.
If the ladies' singles provided a sea change at The Championships, with the final contested by the sixth and eighth seeds, the men's always promised to be more predictable since the top four seeds looked a cut above the rest of the field from the start. So it proved, at least until the quarter-finals when Roger Federer, a six-time champion and third seed, was blasted to defeat by charismatic Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who overhauled a two-set deficit to demolish the ambitions of the Swiss who was pursuing his 17th Grand Slam title. It was unfortunate for Federer that he caught Tsonga on one of his irresistible days, as tournament statistics reveal. He finished up leading the men's ace count with 108, but was also top of the double-fault table with 27 and unforced errors (143).