Google Down the Line!: 2014-06-22

Friday, June 27, 2014

WIMBLEDON: Djokovic injury scare, Li upset, Kvitova hangs tough, and a proposal for Sharapova

Novak Djokovic had a scare today during his third round match against Gilles Simon. The top seed was running to his forehand side when he lunged for a ball, fell on his left side, and clutched his shoulder in apparent agony. He took a medical time out and then continued to play, eventually winning the match 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. In his presser, Nole said he had an ultrasound done and there’s no damage. For a few minutes there, it looked like a very serious situation. Thoughts of his tourney and possibly his season ending may have crossed my frantic mind based on his reaction. Thank GAWD all is well.

Remember how I wrote that Li Na is an enigma of the highest degree? She did absolutely nothing to change my mind today. The second seed was upended by Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5). As I tweeted today, it was definitely an upset but not based on current form. BZS was a finalist in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago and has a game built for grass, while Li adds this loss to her first round disappointment at Roland Garros. In her presser, the 32-year old regretted not playing one of the warm-up tourneys. “I think I made wrong decision,” she said. “I needed to play some matches before the big one [Wimbledon]." AGREED.

Former Wimbledon champs Petra Kvitova and Venus Williams put on a power-tennis showcase today in their spectacular third round battle. The match was of the highest quality, with both lady ballers throttling the ball and looking to control the rallies with aggressive play. With V serving at 5-6 in the third set, Petra held tough and earned the second of the two breaks in the ENTIRE match to win 7-5, 6-7 (2), 7-5. It was the best I’ve seen V play in many years and that wasn’t lost on the Czech either. "I think she's playing really, really well," said the 6th seed. "She showed it as well today. I think that she can win some titles again. If she's going to be healthy and play some matches and everything like that, she can do it." As for Kvitova, it was her finest performance since winning here in 2011. Best match of the women’s draw so far. I honestly couldn't sit down - it was absorbing stuff.
Loooooooool. Okay then. I suppose that’s one way to do it.

Other notables: Marin Cilic, the 26th seed, continued his fine 2014 form, upsetting 6th seed Tomas Berdych 7-6(5), 6-4, 7-6(6) in a match that ended at 9:38pm. It was the latest finish for a match outside of Centre Court in the tourney’s history. Grigor Dimitrov, the 11th seed, beat the 21st seed Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-7(3), 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 to reach his first-ever round of 16 at Wimbledon. Jerzy Janowicz, the 15th seed and a semifinalist last year, and Lleyton Hewitt also went the distance with the Pole coming out on top 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images, AFP]

Thursday, June 26, 2014

WIMBLEDON: Rosol busted, Kyrgios rises, and Cornet goes full-on Cornet

Although he preferred to say otherwise, Rafael Nadal exacted revenges on Lukas Rosol for the shock defeat he suffered in the same round (second) on the same court (Centre) two years ago. Little did Rafa know that the Czech had other ideas up his Lotto sleeve. On a changeover Lukas purposefully used his racquet to knock down one of the Spaniard’s water bottles. As any tennis fan knows, Rafa always perfectly positions his two water bottles in the same spot by his chair (one of his many famous idiosyncrasies). NOT. COOL. LUKAS. I suppose you got what you deserved in the end.
Youth was served up in Paris and it looks like the trend is continuing at Wimbledon. Take 19-year old Nick Kyrgios. He’s the youngest baller in the men’s draw but showed elite quality when he saved nine, yes NINE, match points to defeat the 13th seed Richard Gasquet today. Talk about clutch. It was impressive stuff to watch. Even Richie had to give it up to the Aussie. Respect.

Only Alize Cornet would be able to win the "Best Actress in a Vine Award" by the second round. Screw tennis; THAT takes real talent. Hope she brings some of it to her third round match against Serena Williams. Duh, of course she will (sorry, I have a penchant for self-talk). Enjoy the lulz. I will be.

Other notables: On their match’s second day, 14th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga finally closed out Sam Querrey 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-7(4), 6-3, 14-12. Another talented up-and-comer, 20-year old Jiri Vesely, bested the 24th seed Gael Monfils 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-7(3), 6-4 in his Wimbledon debut and will face Kyrgios for a spot in the fourth round. American Madison Keys continued her stellar grass-court form. The Eastbourne champ took out the 31st seed Klara Koukalova 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-2.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WIMBLEDON: Serena takes a seat, Gulbis and Azarenka fall, and a wolverine meets a bull

No, you're not seeing things. Serena Williams didn't decide to spontaneously crowd surf during her doubles match with sister, Venus, today at Wimbledon, or take a mid-match breather in the stands. She was running hard after a ball and couldn't stop her momentum. ReRe was fine, a little embarrassed maybe, but not hurt. I can't speak for the fan who caught her, though.

I thought Ernests Gulbis had a good shot on going deep in the draw, since he probably came into Wimbledon with the most confidence he's ever had after reaching the semifinals in Paris. But the 12th seed fell today to the serve-and-vollying game of Sergiy Stakhovsky who famously booted Roger Federer in the same round last year. Serg's superior play can be blamed for the loss. With the extra time off now, perhaps he'll hit up the casinos again. Just don't ask him how much he lost. Or about umpires for that matter.

Not as much of shocker, at least to me, as Curlbis going out was Victoria Azarenka's 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 loss to Serb Bojana Jovanovski. She really prefers the firm-footing of a hard court which explains why her best Slam results have been at the Australian and U.S. Opens. That being said, I thought Vika played really well and could have pulled out the win had she played some of the key points better down the stretch. After being out for 3 months, playing the big points isn't automatic yet. Come the U.S. Open, I have a feeling they will be for former top lady baller.

And this happened (technically yesterday but it was tweeted today). Good GAWD.

Other notables: Great wins by American Lauren Davis over 12th seed 6-4, 7-6 (4) Flavia Pennetta and Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov over 7th seed David Ferrer 6-7 (5), 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Also, excited to see Vera Zvonareva back in action and winning. The former finalist completed her first round match and defeated homegirl Tara Moore 6-4, 6-7 (3), 9-7.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

Monday, June 23, 2014

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Sloane Stephens

The streak is broken. I'm so sorry to all of you who don't have to write about me this week and next week. I'm so sorry. 

- Sloane Stephens after being asked about her streak of 6-straight second week appearances ending today

YIKES. Next question anyone? Anyone??

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

(NSFW) PHOTO OP: Venus, Berdych, and their glorious ass-ets

ESPN just released images of a naked Venus Williams and Tomas Berdych that will appear in their annual "Body Issue." V looks amazing and she gave a great interview to ESPN to accompany the issue. And Tomas? Well, his nickname is Big Berd, but perhaps it should be "Coppertone Baby."

[Photo(s) credit: ESPN]

Sunday, June 22, 2014

WIMBLEDON: Ones to watch in the gentlemen's draw

Tick, tock, tick, tock...

Here are the boys I'll be watching very closely this fortnight. No real surprises, because it would be an absolute shocker if one of the "Big Four" - all past champs - doesn't capture the title. But there are a few in the draw who could certainly cause them some issues.

Rafael Nadal. There’s never been a baller in the history of the game that owned a tourney the way Rafa rules Roland Garros. Seriously, one loss in 66 matches? Siiiick. But, unlike the clay where he always reigns supreme, the grass has not been kind to Rafa as of late. The world’s top baller seemed to have mastered the slick stuff earlier in his career, playing in two straight finals before playing arguably the best match, like, EVER when he pocketed his first Championships crown in 2008. He repeated the feat in 2010 over Tomas Berdych. But the last two years Rafa has sputtered out of the gates with a second and first round loss, respectively. If pre-Wimby results are an omen, it’s not looking good again this year. The 28-year old lost in Halle to Dustin Brown in his first match on grass. We’ll all be anxiously awaiting to see Rafa’s form in his first match.

Novak Djokovic. If there’s mystery concerning Rafa’s grass-court losses, there are even more questions surrounding Nole’s losses in his last three major final appearances, including two to Rafa and one to Andy Murray. Can you believe it’s been a year and half since he won his last major at the 2013 Oz Open? For someone with as much pride as he has, it’s got to hurt. The Serb was clearly not at his physical best in the Roland Garros final although he made a late surge in the fourth, and final, set. But he seemed spent and it went down pretty meekly at the end. Speaking of physical issues, he worried his fans again when he pulled out of The Boodles, a pre-Wimby exo this weekend, due to concerns with the wrist injury he sustained during the clay-court swing. There’s a lot of pressure on Nole to right the ship, get back to his Grand Slam-winning ways, and prove the addition of Boris Becker was a smart one (the jury’s still out on that).

Roger Federer. If there’s anywhere that could take the bitter taste out of his 5-set defeat to Ernest Gulbis in the French Open fourth round, it’s at Wimbledon. He owns 7 titles and a 67-8 record on the tourney’s historic lawns. But last year, a strange thing happened; the Swiss fell to Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round, ending his streak of 36-straight quarterfinals at majors. Even thinking about it now, the result was pretty shocking. But the word coming out of his own mouth right is “contender.” This year," Fed said, "I feel all the options are there. Return, serve, serve and volley, come in, my backhand -- everything is working to my liking.” It’s been two years since he won his last major (at the All England Club, of course), and if what he says is true, that drought could end this fortnight.

Andy Murray. It was good to see Muzz’s game finally start to come together in Paris where he made the semifinals for the second time. Even though Rafa crushed him, the Brit baller played some of his best tennis since undergoing back surgery and splitting with Ivan Lendl. And the timing couldn’t have been better. Muzz became a national hero when he won Wimbledon last season, the first British man accomplish the feat since 1936. Although he says there’s less pressure this year, his country will still be looking for the repeat. The addition of former champ Amelie Mauresmo as coach and the timing of it add an intriguing twist to this storyline. It usually takes time for a new coaching partnership to start paying off. We’ll see the results very soon.

Grigor Dimitrov. Big things have always been expected of Grisha and the he hasn’t usually handled the pressure well. But this year his game has been steadily building along with his confidence. He reached his first major quarterfinal in Oz and captured his first title on clay in Bucharest. Unfortunately, the Bulgarian faced off against the towering Ivo Karlovic in the opening round in Paris and was beaten in straight sets. But the 23-year old has rebounded well, winning his first title on grass at Queen’s Club and beating Stanislas Wawrinka and Feliciano Lopez along the way. With his versatility, movement, and all-court style, Grisha has a game tailor-made for the grass. 

Milos Raonic. Like Grisha, the Canadian has made a steady rise this season, reaching his first major quarterfinal last month in Paris (the first Canadian man to do so). Although their games are very different, Milos, like Grisha, has a game that translates to all surfaces, but especially the grass. The serve alone should win him a game or two easily. But his movement, unlike Grisha’s, is a work in progress and it could hurt him on the slick stuff. That being said, he’s still a very dangerous prospect on this surface regardless.

Ernests Gulbis. “Less talk, more action” is the refrain most people in the tennis world would use when referring to Curlbis. You could always score a nifty sound bite from the Latvian, but little else until now. It seems he has finally put in the work to match the talent, and it showed in Paris where he upended Fed in five sets and reached his first major seminfinal. His record at Wimbledon is a measly 5-6 with his best effort being last year when he reached the third round. But as we saw at Roland Garros, it’s a new Curlbis. Can he keep the momentum going?

Others to eyeball:

Stanislas Wawrinka. The Swiss has had spotty results since winning his first Grand Slam title at the Aussie Open, including an opening round loss in Paris. He went right back to work, though, reaching the semifinals at Queen’s Club. He’s never been past the fourth round at Wimbledon, but that could change.

Tomas Berdych. A former finalist, the Czech can never seem to close the deal when it matters most. At Wimbledon, he has the best winning percentage out of the four majors (71.88%) and his power game flourishes on the stuff. With a new crop of hungry young ballers readying to make their mark, it’s only going to get tougher for Tomas to make that long-awaited breakthrough.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...