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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

French Open 2016: Cheering for Stosur and Pironkova, Now in the QFs

It was cheering night tonigt for me as two of my favorite players, Sam Stosur and Tsvetana Pironkova, suddenly showed inspired play - ousting two pre-tournament favorites, Simona Halep and Agi Radwanska.
It's been four years since this two were in the QF or SF stage of a grand slam and I know if they're on, they can be very deadly players.
I admit it was fun to see Simona and Agi run around like headless chickens in long rally after long rally. Nakakanerbiyos tingan because Simona and Agi are very good counter punchers and they always give you an extra ball to play with. And it's not easy to run them off the court!
Kaya bravo talaga to Sam and Tsvetana for being more aggressive today!

French Open 2016: Samantha Stosur Poised to Take Semifinal Slot

It's exciting to see Sam Stosur (#24) of Australia play well again in the grand slam stage.  It has been 4 years since she last reached her last semi-final here in Roland Garros.  And this is definitely a surface she loves to play in.  She was a finalist here after all, in 2010.

She's had to defeat a lot of very good players to reach this stage:

R1: Misaki Doi (JPN) (#42) 62 46 63

R2: Zhang Shuai (CHN) (#69) 63 64

R3: Lucie Safarova (CZE) (#13) 63 67(0) 75

R4: Simona Halep (ROU) (#6) 76(0) 63

On paper, she has a 3-1 head-to-head over Tsvetana Pironkova (#102) of Bulgaria, so she is the expected one to get the semi-final slot on her side of the draw.

Great to See Tsvetana Pironkova Deep in a Slam Again

It's great to see Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, ranked #55 in the world, deep into a Grand Slam again.  This is the first time she has reached the fourth round of the US Open but she's no stranger to the quarters and the semi's as she had done that before in Wimbledon.  

She just lost to Ana Ivanovic in her fourth round match though.  Her path to the fourth round her include wins over Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain (#58), Ayumi Morita of Japan (#95) and Camila Giorgi of Italy (#87).

Sunday, May 29, 2016

French Open 2016: Albert Ramos-Vinolas Makes A Breakthrough In A Grand Slam

After having been to the second round of all the grand slams, Albert Ramos-Vinolas (#55) of Spain suddenly finds himself in the quarterfinals of this year's French Open - his best performance in a grand slam yet!

His campaign started with a win over Horacio Zeballos (#89) of Argentina 63 46 75 60 in the first round. In the second round, he vanquishes another Argentinian, Marco Trungelliti (#166) 63 64 75. 

Then he defeated Jack Sock (#25) of the US in the third round 76(2) 46 46 64 64.

And I thought his winning streak would end there.

Today, he showed a master class in clay court playing against Milos Raonic (#9) of Canada 62 64 64.

He will next meet last year's champion, Stan Wawrinka (#4) in the quarterfinals.

Shelby Rogers Female Breakthrough Player for French Open 2016

Unexpectedly, Shelby Rogers (#108) of the US gets the Female Breakthrough Award for this year's French Open.  

This award is given to the player ranked outside the top 100 who reaches the deepest part of the main grand slam draw.

This is only Shelby's fourth French Open and she did reach the second round in 2013.  This year, she reached the quarterfinals.

Her journey started with an upset against top player Karolina Pliskova (#19) of the Slovak Republic in the first round, 36 64 63. She followed it up with another upset on the Russian player, Elena Vesnina (#49) in the 2nd round, 64 62.

Then, the major upset happens in the third round when she shocks Petra Kvitova (#12) of the Czech Republic 60 67(3) 60.  

Shelby continues that winning streak as she shocks Irina-Camelia Begu (#28) of Romania in the fourth round 63 64, putting her in the quarterfinals of a grand slam for the first time in her career!

She is slated to meet Garbine Muguruza (#4) of Spain in the quarterfinals.  We wish her the best of luck!

Whatever happens, she will definitely break into the top 100!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

French Open 2016: Dominic Thiem May Find Himself in the Spotlight

With the sudden injury withdrawals of  Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, up-and-coming player, Dominic Thiem (#15) of Austria, now finds himself as the favorite to get to the semi-final slot in his side of the draw.

This youngster has been referred to by pundits as the future of tennis, and well, the future of tennis may now have reached the French Open.  Well, anyhow, we're still a few rounds to find out if the future has indeed arrived now as Thiem has to deal with several veteran players before he reaches the semi's stage.  And these veterans are very good clay courters as well, so I don't think they'd fold up that easily.

Thiem will next meet Spanish journeyman, Marcel Granollers in the 4th round and a possible encounter with either Nicolas Almagro or Ernests Gulbis in the QF.

Andrej Martin: Male Breakthrough Player French Open 2016

Andrej Martin of Slovakia (#133) is the Male Breakthrough Player Awardee for this year's French Open.

It is given to a player ranked outside the top 100 who reaches the deepest part of the draw.

Andrej Martin had to qualify to get into the main draw of the 2016 French Open. This is actually his very first appearance in a grand slam, although he's already 26 years old.  This is definitely a big step up for him from just challenger tournaments!

He defeated Daniel Munoz de la Nava of Spain (#105) in the first round, 62 63 46 64.  

In the second round, he upset Lucas Pouille of France (#31) 63 75 63.

In the third round, he lost to Milos Raonic (#9) of Canada 76(4) 62 63.

French Open 2016: Marcel Granollers Into Fourth Round for the Third Time

Marcel Granollers (#56) of Spain gets to the fourth round of the French Open for the third time.  This is the grand slam where he has performed the best.  He was in the fourth round in 2012 and 2014.

His path to the fourth round first began with defeating Italian player Fabio Fognini (#33) of Italy 75 64 63, who was seeded in this tournament.  In a strange twist of good luck, his second round opponent, Nicolas Mahut (#44) of France retired 62 62 10, and then his third round opponent, Rafael Nadal (#5) of Spain withdrew suddenly because of a wrist injury.  

So Granollers has had enough time to rest before his fourth round match.  He is still awaiting the result between Alexande Zverev (#41) of Germany and Dominic Thiem (#15) of Austria. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

French Open 2016: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga May Get to His Third Semi-Final Here

With the withdrawal today of Rafael Nadal due to a wrist injury, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (#7) of France is now, at least on paper, the most likely player to get the semi-final slot on their side of the draw.  

He has been to the semi-finals of this grand slam in 2013 and 2015 and he has a really good chance of making it again this year.

He's still a long way off though and his prospective opponents are no push-overs either. He will meet another former RG semi-finalist in the 3rd round, Ernests Gulbis (#80) of Estonia.

If he gets through that, Nicolas Almagro and Dominic Thiem are possible opponents, both very competent players in the clay court themselves.

However, if Tsonga does get through with them, he will have had great preparation for a possible encounter with Djokovic in the semi's and possibly Murray in the finals.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fun Pictures: Borna Coric

In today's up-and-coming tennis players, Borna Coric is probably my most favorite.  He has his finely-chiseled face and he's just handsome in my book.  I hope he comes to my side of Asia so I can cover him!

Discovered Another Cute Tennis Player - Andrej Martin of Slovakia

One of the current players doing well in the French Open is Andrej Martin of Slovakia. Although currently ranked at #133, Andrej is now in the second round and is getting the first tough test from Lucas Pouille of France, who's currently having a great run in this year's clay season.

Please come to Kuala Lumpur Andrej for this year's Malaysia Open!  We would love to see you play there!  I hope I can be able to interview you there!

I'm sure with his performance here in Roland Garros, his ranking will improve, and hopefully, he can qualify into the main draw of KL.

French Open 2016: Viktorija Golubic Into the Second Round of a Grand Slam for the First Time

Swiss player Viktorija Golubic (#130) gets into the second round of a grand slam for the first time.  She had to qualify for the main draw defeating Andreea Mitu of Romania, who reached the 4th round last year.

She upset Alison Riske (#93) of the US in the first round 62 16 62 but lost to last year's finalist Lucie Safarova (#13) of the Czech Republic in the second round 26 26.

Hopefully, with this performance, her ranking would improve.

French Open 2016: Tsvetana Pironkova Into Third Round for the Second Time

Tsvetana Pironkova (#102) of Bulgaria gets to the third round of the French Open for the second consecutive year.  To do that, she had to beat two very good clay court players.  

The first one she upset was 2012 French Open finalist Sara Errani (#18) of Italy 63 62.  She then proceeded to upset Johanna Larsson (#62) of Sweden 75 76(6) in the second round.

She will meet Sloane Stephens (#22) of the US today.

Tsvetana has reached the second round of the Australian Open eight times, the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2011 and the fourth round of the US Open in 2012.

French Open 2016: Veronica Cepede Royg Makes a Grand Slam Breakthrough

In her very first grand slam main draw, where she had to qualify, Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay (#161) upset German player Sabine Lisicki (#51) of Germany in the first round of the French Open 62 62, to make her reach the second round of a grand slam for the first time.

She lost however to Sloane Stephens (#22) of the US in the second round 76(0) 61.

I hope to see her more in the grand slams soon.  In the qualifying rounds, she had good wins over former top 100 players, Kaia Kanepi of Estonia and Romina Oprandi of Switzerland, so she really had some good matches under her belt before she reached the main draw.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

French Open 2016: Naomi Osaka A Surprise Player Into the Third Round

This is the first time I've heard of Naomi Osaka (#101) of Japan, so it's great to see her in the 3rd round of Roland Garros with nary a fanfare.

It is not a surprise though because she also reached the 3rd round of the Australian Open, earlier this year.

Here in Roland Garros, she defeated Jelena Ostapenko (#36) of Latvia in the first round, 64 75.  Then she dispatches the veteran Croatian player Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (#52) in the second round, 63 63.

She will next face Simona Halep (#6) of Romania in the 3rd round.  I hope she gives a good account of herself.

French Open 2016: Myrtille Georges Into Her Very First Second Round Appearance in a Slam

Myrtille Georges (#203) of France lost her second round match today to Garbine Muguruza (#4) of Spain, 26 06.  However, Myrtille gave her all in her first round match against American Christina McHale (#67) 67(7) 60 63.

This is her very first appearance in the second round of any grand slam.  This should give her a lot of confidence in her next tournaments.

French Open 2016: Petra Kvitova Given A Chance to Prove Herself Again on Clay

With the elimination of Roberta Vinci in the first round, Petra Kvitova (#12) of the Czech Republic, becomes, on paper, the most likely player to reach the semi-final slot on their side of the draw.

However, like Venus (on her side of the draw), Petra Kvitova is not really known as a clay courter, but she has reached the semi-finals here once, in 2012, so she may be able to do it again.

There are, however, some very good clay courters on this side of the draw, who can give Petra good competition.  There's last year's finalist Garbine Muguruza as well as former champion here, Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is currently playing well on clay this season.

This mix of great players and good clay courters makes the match-ups very interesting!

French Open 2016: Venus Williams Given A Window of Opportunity to Meet Serena

Such interesting permutations the game of tennis gives us!

Now with the ouster of Angelique Kerber on their side of the draw, Venus Williams gets a window of opportunity, at least on paper, to be the favorite to get that semifinal slot, as she has the best head-to-head among all the players in their side of the draw.

She is not really known as a clay courter, but she has reached the finals here in 2002, losing to her sister, Venus.

But 2002 is already an eternity ago, so Timea Bacsinszky, last year's semi-finalist, is also another good prospect for the semifinal slot yet Venus has a better head-to-head against her, that's why Venus is our pick for this slot.

This then opens the window of opportunity for Venus to meet sister Serena again, this time, in the semifinal. At least on paper.

French Open 2016: Tatjana Maria Into Her Very First Second Round Appearance

Tatjana Maria (#111) of Germany has been to the second round and deeper in the other grand slams, but it is only this year, that she does it, here in Roland Garros, as she defeated the Serbian veteran (#26) Jelena Jankovic 63 36 63.

Tatjana has been ranked as high as #62.

She will meet Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier (#88) in the second round.

French Open 2016: Virginie Razzano Attempts a Resurrection

Currently ranked at #184, veteran Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano wins her first round match at this year's French Open, against the Turkish player Ipek Soylu, ranked #171, 46 61 60.

This is the ninth time she has reached the second round of this grand slam.  Her best performance was a 4th round appearance in 2009.  She has also reached a career high of #16.

She will meet a new player, Russian Daria Kasatkina (#32) in the second round.

French Open 2016: Timea Bacsinszky Takes Favorite Slot In Her Side of the Draw

Last year's semifinalist, Timea Bacsinszky (#9) of Switzerland takes the mantle from Angelique Kerber, as the favorite in her side of the draw, to make it into the semifinal slot.

Angelique Kerber was eliminated by hot on a streak Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, as she dismissed the German in the first round.

Timea is still on track for a semifinal appearance.

French Open 2016: Karin Knapp Into Her Third Second Round Appearance

Karin Knapp (#118) of Italy outlasted the injured Victoria Azarenka (#5) of Belarus in their first round match 63 67(6) 40. Karin has ranked as high as #33 and can actually play well against top 10 players.

She also reached the third round here in 2007 and 2008.  This is her ninth appearance in the second round of a grand slam.

She will next meet Anastasija Sevastova (#87) of Latvia in the second round.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

French Open 2016: Taylor Townsend Off to 2nd Rd

Talor Townsend (#172) of the US gets to the second round of Roland Garros for the second time in her career. She defeated Amandine Hesse  (#157) of France 62 61.  She has actually reached the third round here in 2014.

She will next meet Elina Svitolina (#18) of Slovak Republic in the second round.

French Open 2016: Mathias Bourgue Makes Wise Use of Wild Card Entry

Mathias Bourgue of France (#164) gets into the second round of the 2016 French Open as he defeated Jordan Samper-Montana (#216) of Spain 75 76(5) 76(6) in the first round.

This is also his first grand slam appearance.  

He will meet Ivo Karlovic (#29) of Croatia in the second round.

French Open 2016: Bjorn Fratangelo Former Boy's Champion in RG Makes Inroads in Main Draw

Bjorn Fratangelo (#103) of the US gets into the second round of the French Open for the first time.  He defeated fellow American Sam Querrey (#37) 63 61 67(3) 63 in the first round.

He will next meet Richard Gasquet (#10) of France.

French Open 2016: Adam Pavlasek Gets Into His First Second Round Appearance in a Grand Slam

Adam Pavlasek (#132) of the Czech Republic gets into his first second round appearance in a grand slam this French Open.  He won over Spanish player Roberto Carballes Baena (#105) 62 46 36 61 16 in the first round.

Adam also had to go through the qualifying rounds to get into the main draw.  

He will next meet Jeremy Chardy (#32) of France in the second round. 

French Open 2016: Marco Trungelliti Into His Second Consecutive Grand Slam Second Round

Marco Trungelliti of Argentina (#166) continues his good performance in the grand slams, getting into his second consecutive 2nd round appearance, this time, at Roland Garros. Earlier this year, Marco also reached the second round of the Australian Open.

He had to defeat a top 20 player to do that, in the form of Marin Cilic of Croatia, 76(4) 36 64 62.  Trungelliti had to qualify to enter the main draw, which often works, because it allows the qualifiers to do well in the first round.

He will next meet Albert Ramos-Vinolas (#55) in the second round.

French Open 2016: Dustin Brown Finally Makes A Breakthrough in Roland Garros

German player Dustin Brown (#116) finally makes a breakthrough in Roland Garros this year, reaching the second round for the very first time.  This is his third time into the second round in a grand slam.

He won over Dudi Sela of Israel (#62) in the first round 67(5) 64 76(5) 46 64.

He will meet Jack Sock of the US (#25) in the second round.

Dustin has reached a career high ranking of #78.

French Open 2016: Steve Darcis Gets to the 2nd Round for the Third Time in His Career

Steve Darcis of Belgium (#161) gets to the 2nd round of the French Open for the third time. He was able to do it in 2010 and 2011, where he reached the 3rd round, for the only time in his career. This is his 7th French Open appearance in the main draw. 

Because of his current ranking, Steve had to qualify for the main draw, which put him in good stead, because he defeated his first round Turkish opponent, Marsel Ilhan, rather easily, 63 64 60.

Steve has reached a career-high ranking of #44.

His second round opponent though is world #1 Novak Djokovic, so it's going to be a tough ask for him.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

French Open 2016: Andy Murray Is Ready to Be the King of Roland Garros

Among all the top male players right now, Andy Murray has probably made the best turnaround on clay, from being a mere pushover for clay court specialists to making an emphatic victory in the Masters Series in Rome against the world no.1, Novak Djokovic!

That 63 63 scoreline was just incredible, although it may have also shown how tired Novak was already since the Rome Open is the last relatively important tournament before RG.

An article explained the technicalities of what Andy had done to his game, but for us fans, it would be better if we just see him play this fortnight, and judge for ourselves, what he did right to tweak his game to suit this very slippery surface.

Without RF in the draw, Andy's potential nemeses could be Isner in the 4R, Gasquet in the QFs, Wawrinka in the SFs and Novak in the finals - a much easier path than the rest of the top men.

French Open 2016: Stan Wawrinka Ever the Dangerous Man When He's On Fire

Stan Wawrinka just won the Geneva Open and he's had quite a full schedule this clay court season, so let's see how he maintains his stamina for a grueling full two-week schedule.

Being the defending champion, much is expected of him to at least reach into the deeper part of the tournament. Without RF in the mix, Stan has Milos Raonic and Gilles Simon as the toughest opponent on his side of the draw.

On paper, Simon stands in his way in the 4R, Raonic in the QFs, Murray in the SFs and Djokovic in the finals. That is a tough field to play for him to retain the title he won last year.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

French Open 2016: Rafa Nadal Still A Decent Threat For the Title

Although not as dominant in the clay anymore as before, Rafa still had a decent clay court season, enough to still make him one of the favorites in this year's French Open.

He won Barcelona and Monte Carlo but lost Rome and Madrid, to the two other favorites in this year's RG, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Without RF, it kinda lightens his draw but still a few probable tough players to deal with before he gets to the semis - Kevin Anderson, Fabio Fognini and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who could be his toughest opponent in his side of the draw.

Novak looms in the SFs and Andy in the final - at least on paper.

French Open 2016: Novak Djokovic Should Have the Title Within His Grasp

With the way he is playing now, I'm sure Novak Djokovic would really be pissed at himself if he once again, ends up being the bridesmaid in this year's French Open.

Everyone expected him to win it last year, until Stan Wawrinka spoiled his party. Novak's clay court season this year looked pretty solid, although he lost to Murray two weeks ago in Rome, got bageled in a set by Brazilian player Bellucci and lost early to Vesely in Monte Carlo.

He did win in Madrid and Miami so he still is the odds-on favorite to win this title this year.

With Roger Federer out of contention due to injury, none of the other top four now have to deal with an extra great grand slam champion on their side of the draw.

So on paper, Novak's hardest assignment would be Milos Raonic in the QFs, a possible meeting with Nadal in the SFs, and possibly Murray in the final. He had wins over these players this clay court season so all he as to do stay on top of his game all the way to the finals.

French Open 2016: Agi Radwanska Leads Her Side of the Draw

Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska are the two possible contenders for the semifinal slot in their side of the draw.

Simona has relatively more clay court success, but in their head-to-head, it's Agi who leads, so she gets my prognosticator's nod.

Interestingly though, Agi has only reached one QF here in RG, and that was three years ago! Her performances after that have been poor to say the least.

Her 2016 clay court season has also been so-so, with just a semifinal loss in Stuttgart. So in a way, Halep has a good chance to getting the semi's slot here and maybe go all the way to the final.

Simona has already been in one RG final so if she is just consistent enough, this might be the year for her!

French Open 2016: Roberta Vinci A Surprise Favorite on Her Side of the Draw

Although many tennis fans who bought tickets to the US Open women's final last year were disappointed that Serena was not on either side of the court, I was very ecstatic, because finally, the world had noticed this cheerful and crafty Italian player, Roberta Vinci.

She actually has done well in the US hard courts for years but hasn't reached the status of a grand slam finalist till that dramatic semifinal win over Serena. Now, here at Roland Garros, she may have another chance to have a dream run, mainly because of the quirks of the draw.

Garbine Muguruza in her side of the draw, but based on head-to-head history between her prospective match-ups, surprise, surprise - it is Roberta Vinci who has the best head-to-head record of everyone in this side of the draw.

Unfortunately, Vinci is not very well-known as a good clay courter so this side of the draw is pretty open.

There are other great players in this side of the draw like grand slam champions Petra Kvitova and Sveta Kuznetsova. But on paper, it's Christina McHale and Roberta Vinci, who are the favorites on this side of the draw. Let's see if that all pans out.

Friday, May 20, 2016

French Open 2016: Angie Kerber Poised For Another Dream Run in Another Grand Slam

After that great breakthrough in Melbourne earlier this year, Angelique Kerber is poised once again for a breakthrough in Roland Garros.

With a title in Stuttgart and semifinals in Charleston and Miami, Angie should be feeling confident of her chances at a French Open title.

That wish is boosted by her relatively easy draw, with two former grand slam semifinalists as her biggest nemeses - Madison Keys in the 4R and Timea Bacsinszky in the QFs

Both Keys and Timea are very good clay courters so they are also likely contenders for the semifinal slot in this side of the draw.

For all of them though, Serena is still their biggest stumbling block and most likely SF opponent.

However, I still feel that Angie is the strongest player in this side of the draw.

French Open 2016: Serena Faces A Tough Draw in Roland Garros

I haven't seen yet the other parts of the women's draw in this year's French Open women's singles, but once again, every time Serena Williams has that solid chance of winning that slam, she also, justifiably gets the hardest draw.

Even on paper alone, the 4th round for her side of the draw is an all-star cast with 3 grand slam winners and a GS semifinalist. Ana Ivanovic looms as Serena's probable 4th rd opponent, then Victoria Azarenka in the QFs and her conqueror in the Australian Open, Angelique Kerber in the SFs, and Agi Radwanska in the finals. All that on paper.

So if everything falls into place, it's going to be a tough path for Serena towards getting her 22nd grand slam title, and something that her fans would love to see!

But knowing Serena, she thrives very well when she is fighting the best players. I have noticed that she kinda falters when she meets a much lower-ranked player deeper in the draw, maybe because the expectations are all on her favor.

However, with an emphatic victory in Rome two weeks ago, Serena shows the rest of the field that she's here in Paris to win.