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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Jack Sock: The Only American Left Standing in RG 2015

While the women's round of 16 had many new names in it, on the men's side, five of the 16 slots went to Frenchmen, and only one American made it - Jack Sock, currently #37 in the world.  This is also the first time Sock reached the 4th round of a grand slam, a new high for her.  He had wins over Grigor Dimitrov, Carreno Bautista and Borna Coric. He will next face the king of clay, Rafael Nadal.

Elite Men's Team Award for 2015 French Open - FRANCE

France wins this year's Elite Men's Team Award for the 2015 French Open by putting an amazing five players into the fourth round!  There is no top 10 male player from France this week, so putting five players in the top 16 is very impressive.  France is led by Gilles Simon, the highest ranking male French player now, at #13, Gael Monfils (#14), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (#15), Richard Gasquet (#21) and Jeremy Chardy (#45).

Elina Svitolina Off to First Grand Slam Quarterfinal!

I have been hearing a lot about the Ukrainian player, Elina Svitolina for sometime now but I've never seen her play!  That's because, during Grand Slam coverages, you have to play against Serena or Maria to get primetime coverage.  Otherwise, you fly under the radar.

And fly under the radar Elina did but not anymore, I think.  By reaching her first Grand Slam quarterfinal here in RG, the other players in the WTA tour will be marking her name and it will be up to her if she folds under the pressure or revel in it, since she'll be new to all the circus that will surround newly minted players of the future.

She plays former champion Ana Ivanovic in the next round, and I think she has the weapons to give Ana a good fight!  I hope the possibility of a semifinal won't daunt her too much!

Alison van Uytvanck Flies Belgian Flag in 2015 Roland Garros

Belgium is another country that has produced two great champions in women's tennis, so when Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne retired a few years back, a big hole was left, and for now, only Kirsten Flipkens has been the only one who has made some inroads for Belgian women's tennis.
93 ranked Alison van Uytvanck is slowly making inroads though, by making a fantastic fourth round appearance in this year's French Open! Winning over Diyas and Mladenovic has given Alison a slot very deep in the tournament. And she has a big chance of going deeper as her opponent is also a newbie, #100-ranked Andreea Mitu. It's pretty exciting times in the careers of these two ladies!
Alison is only 21 years old and if she continues to improve her game, she might really become a force in the game like her illustrious predecessors.

Andreea Mitu Makes A Big Splash in Roland Garros 2015

When I scanned the names of the women who made it into the fourth round of this year's French Open, I was shocked to see so many new names!  In a normal slam, four new names would be a very big number since it's really tough to make it to the round of 16.  If I'm not mistaken, around 8 of this women have never ventured further than the 3rd round of any grand slam, so to find them all here, is just a testament of how deep the bench women's tennis has become!

The lowest ranked among all the sixteen players is Romanian Andreea Mitu, who is currently ranked #100.  She's not exactly a new player because she's already 24 years old!  But this is the first time I've heard of her because this is only her second grand slam entry ever!  Imagine that!  Whatever becomes of her performance here, she should reach the upper echelons in the rankings and she should easily enter many main WTA tournaments.

Like Germany, there is an armada of Romanian players out there, all very talented and very crafty.  Simona Halep has paved the road for all of them and hopefully, Andreea can go deeper in this tournament so she can give more plus points for Romanian players.

Timea Bacsinszky: Finally Finding Her Footing on Clay

Ever since Martina Hingis and Patty Schynder retired, there has been a deep void in women's Swiss tennis. As their male counterparts, Federer and Wawrinka blazed trails in the men's game, it has been quiet in the women's front.

Timea Bacsinszky is already 26 years old but she is maturing pretty well with the game.  I remember she reached the final of a major tournament last year - she lost, but her confidence grew so much that in the Aussie Open this year, she reached its 3rd round for the first time.  

She takes it a round further here in RG, as she reaches the fourth round for the first time in a Grand Slam!  She has had notable wins over Smitkova and Keys, who are both competent players.  

She takes on a very tough player though in the fourth round, Petra Kvitova, who is, just like Timea, is finding her footing on clay. You can say though that they are both on even terms since it's their first time to really make an impression on clay.  It would be such a boost to her confidence if she does win over Petra.

Julie Goerges: Suddenly Finds A Breakthrough in 2015 RG

While Angelique Kerber has reached the top 10 and Sabine Lisicki has reached a Grand Slam final, their counterpart, Julia Goerges has been trying her best to make an imprint as well, considering that there is now a sizeable German armada of women players ready to take the mantle of their illustrious predecessor, Steffi Graf.

As of yet though, none has quite reached the heights Graf did.  However, Julia Goerges, has the potential to achieve a bit of tennis glory, if she can only get her act together. She can be a top ten player if she wants.

As of now, she's been to three fourth rounds in a Grand Slam, all in the Australian Open.  This is the first time that she has reached the fourth round in Roland Garros, and I'm pretty excited for her!  I was very happy that she was able to take out Caroline Wozniacki in the second round, although clay is not Caroline's strong surface, because Caro is up and swinging again these days.

Julia plays a very tough opponent though if she wants to go deeper. Sara Errani has been a finalist here in RG, and although she's diminutive, she's a fighter and one of the best female clay courters around.  Well, there's never an easy round anymore in tennis in the women's game nowadays.

Elite Women's Team Award for the 2015 French Open - RUSSIA

Russia wins this year's Elite Women's Team Award in a hotly contested competition.  Italy, the Czech Republic and the US were also in contention with two players each but Russia had the lowest sum of all the countries.  The winning players were Maria Sharapova (#2) and Ekaterina Makarova (#9).

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Serena Speaks Fluent French!

Je ne sais pas que Serena Williams puisse parler en Francais à quoi bon ce soir! Je suis fier d'elle!  C'est rare qu'une americaine aille essayer apprendre une autre langue parce que plupart des americains ont le sentiment qu'anglais est plus superieur que des autres langues, donc, à quoi bon faire l'apprendre!

Monday, May 25, 2015

French Open 2015: Up Next - My Boy Crush vs My Man Crush in the Second Round

I just checked the men's draw for the 2nd round French Open and what are the odds that my boy crush and man crush are meeting!  This is their first meeting and possibly one of the last few considering that Tommy Robredo is already in his 30s and may retire soon while Borna Coric's star is just starting to rise!

I guess Tommy is still sticking around because he's still in the top 20s anyway, and with that rank, he can still earn decently from playing. If Borna goes deep here in Roland Garros, he might just be in the top 40 soon!

Tommy should win this match-up though.  He's too experienced in these big stages and should have enough weapons to thwart the boy!

French Open 2015: My Boy Crush is now a Man!

My favorite boy tennis player, Borna Coric of Croatia, is slowly making waves in the main men's draw, when he won his first round match against veteran American Sam Querrey yesterday, 76 63 06 63.
I've always had a crush on this boy for the longest time and now he's finally making inroads in the main draw, already ranked #53. How rapid naman his rise! I hope he goes to Asia during the Asian leg of the men's tour. Alam na kung sinong hahanapin for a selfie! I hope he's nice in person!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

French Open 2015: Flavia Pennetta Another Surprise Pick for 2015 French Open

On paper, current world #2 Maria Sharapova would've been the pick to get the semi-final slot on the lower bottom half of this year's French Open women's draw, but since I give more credence to their head-to-heads, surprisingly, it's Italian player Flavia Pennetta who comes on top on that side of the draw.
Flavia actually has a winning 3-2 head-to-head with Maria, probably one of the few players who have more wins than losses over the blonde bombshell. Flavia has actually won all their last 3 meetings, including Indian Wells this year.
Anyhow, the other two picks for this side of the draw include Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Angelique Kerber. And don't count out current hot clay favourite Carla Suarez Navarro! So this side of the draw has a lot of potential women, who, on any given day in this year's Roland Garros, has a very good chance of getting that semifinal slot.
Using head-to-heads though, it looks like an Agnieszka Radwanska and Flavia Pennetta semifinal in the bottom half of the draw.

French Open 2015: Agnieszka Radwanska A Surprise Head to Head Pick

In a draw with Ana Ivanovic, Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska, surprisingly, it's Agi who tops everyone else, and using objective means, becomes the pick for the semifinal slot on her side of the draw.  Peng Shuai of China completes this draw's four top picks.

However, if I were to choose subjectively, I would've picked Simona Halep, because out of the three players, she's had the most success on clay.

Anyhow, for the purposes of this article, Agi Radwanska would be the pick for the semifinal slot for the top lower bottom half of the draw.  Agi is not so bad a choice anyway, as she has always shown consistency. She actually reached a quarterfinal here in RG a few years back.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

French Open 2015: Petra Kvitova Announces Her Arrival On Clay

When Petra Kvitova dismissed Serena Williams in the semi's of the Madrid Open a few weeks ago in a 61 63 thrashing, she announced to the select world of clay courters that she too had what it takes to win on this surface.

She had been a lacklustre clay court player even in the grand slams, reaching only the third round last year. Anyhow, this could be her breakthrough year on clay if she maintains her form and momentum. Using the head-to-head among the players in her draw, she still is the person picked to get the semi-final slot in her side of the draw.

The other most likely contenders were Eugenie Bouchard (a semi-finalist here), and a pair of up-and-coming players, Varvara Lepchenko and Kiki Bertens.

If everything went as it should on paper, Serena might get her chance for a revenge match against Petra in the semi's here in Roland Garros.

French Open 2015: Serena Williams A Leading Contender

The clay court is not really Serena Williams favorite surface but as long as she's healthy and active, she continues to be a real threat in any grand slam, including this year's French Open.
She's in a tricky part of the draw with some well-known giant slayers like Tsvetana Pironkova, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki. However, none of these women have really solid clay court credentials, so it would still be safe to pic Serena to be the player on her side of the draw to reach the semifinals.

The three other picks on Serena's side of the draw is Caroline Wozniacki, Andrea Petkovic and Tsvetana Pironkova.

French Open 2015: Rafa Nadal Still an Ominous Threat

Since Rafa didn't quite have a great European clay court season, he lands at #7 going into the draw of this year's French Open, which meant he could be in the same draw as the best player on tour right now, Novak Djokovic.
And that's exactly what happens! I'm sure oohhs and aahhs were heard when the draw was announced, to find Novak and Rafa in the same side of the draw. This means that only one of these guys will reach the semi's. Although Rafa has lost to some players this clay court season, none of them are in his side of the draw, so it's pretty much expected that they will be the blockbuster quarterfinal to watch in this year's RG.
As to who will win, although Novak has had a respectable clay court season, Rafa has been champion here in RG 9 times these past decade, it would be difficult not to pick him as favorite to take the semifinal slot in their side of the draw.

French Open 2015: Andy Murray Shows Off Some Clay Court Magic

Andy Murray is not a name one would usually associate with clay court prowess, but this year, he was able to add his name to two clay court titles, including the one in Madrid, where he beat Rafa Nadal.
He also finds himself in a cozy corner of the draw where he has a very good chance of making it into the semi-finals. The other top 10 players he has in his side of the draw, David Ferrer and Marin Cilic, he has good records against.  The fourth pick for his side of the draw is John Isner.
Interestingly, even using the head-to-head, Andy Murray is still the player to beat in his side of the draw. The upper half of the draw seems like a Nadal-Murray pairing.

French Open 2015: Tomas Berdych Flexes Clay Court Prowess

Tomas Berdych, like Andy Murray, is not a name you would normally associate with clay court prowess. But his consistent results this clay court season plus his ascendancy to #4 in the world places him in a very lucky section of the draw - lucky because he doesn't have the formidable 4 in his side of the draw.
It doesn't mean though that it's going to be a walk in the park for him since there are many journeymen players on his draw who are adept as well on clay. Possible encounters could include Fernando Verdasco, Lukas Rosol, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
On paper though, he is still the player to beat and the most likely player to get the semifinal slot on his side of the draw.

French Open 2015: Roger Federer Continues to be a Threat

I know time is already ticking for tennis legend Roger Federer because the older he gets, the slimmer the chances he gets to win yet another grand slam title - as if he really needs another one!
Still, every time you check the draw, this time, for this year's French Open, he's still in the mix and you just can't count him out. Currently ranked #2 in the world, and using an objective way to predict wins, he's still the player to pick in his side of the draw to reach the semi-finals.
His side of the draw is peppered with very talented players like Stan Wawrinka, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon, but Roger has very solid records against them. So, it's most likely a Berdych-Federer semi-final match-up for the bottom side of the men's draw.