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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wimbledon 2016: Radu Albot Makes Maiden Second Round Appearance

Radu Albot of Moldova (#110), makes it into the second round of Wimbledon for the first time. He had to qualify to make it into the main draw.

In the first round, he defeats Gastao Elias (#92) of Portugal 36 62 75 64.  However, in the second round, he falls to Bernard Tomic (#19) of Australia 67(3) 36 76(6) 36.

Wimbledon 2016: Benjamin Becker Into Second Round for Seventh Time

It's great that Benjamin Becker, currently ranked #102, has been to the second round of Wimbledon for the seventh time.
He has been ranked as high as #35. 

He won over Facundo Bagnis (#96) of Argentina in the first round 63 63 61. He has a tough second round assignment in Tomas Berdych (#9) of the Czech Republic.

Wimbledon 2016: Dennis Novikov Into First Second Round Appearance

American player Dennis Novikov (#145) went through qualifying to get into the main draw of Wimbledon 2016.  He won over Australian Luke Saville (#221) in the first round, 
who also qualified for the main draw 46 64 75 64.

He will next meet Joao Sousa (#31) of Portugal in the second round.

Wimbledon 2016: Julien Benneteau Into Second Round for the Seventh Time

Veteran player Julien Benneteau (#547) of France gets into the second round of Wimbledon for the seventh time in his career.  His best performance was in 2010 when he reached the 4th round.

He upset Ilya Marchenko (#84) of Ukraine in the first round 64 62 76(8) but lost to top player Kei Nishikori (#6) of Japan 46 64 64 62 in the second round.

Wimbledon 2016: Lukas Lacko Into the Third Round for the Second Time

Lukas Lacko of Slovakia, currently ranked #123, reached the third round of Wimbledon for the second time this year.  He first achieved it in 2013.  

Lukas has actually reached as high as #44 in his career.

He had to go through qualifying to reach the main draw and it has served him well.  He upset Paolo Lorenzi (#49) of Italy 64 67(5) 75 63 in the first round.  He then proceeded to upset another veteran player, Ivo Karlovic (#32) in the second round 63 36 76(5) 64.

He has a tough third round matchup against Marin Cilic (#9) of Croatia.

Wimbledon 2016: Marcus Willis Sparks Hope For Lower-Ranked Players

This is probably the first time I've seen a player ranked as low as #772 to be in the main draw of a grand slam!  Marcus Willis, who was all over the news of the tennis world these past few days, is an inspiration to lower-ranked players, that is, if they just train better and get physically fit, they, like their other peers have a chance to make tennis a career,and compete at its highest levels.

Marcus Willis had to qualify for the main draw.  He drew Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis in the first round, upsetting the #54th ranked player 63 63 64.

In the second round, he was casually dismissed by the legendary player Roger Federer (#3) 60 63 64, but even then, just by having this opportunity certainly meant a lot for him.

I hope this won't be the last time we hear of Marcus Willis. I hope he improves his game so he can enter the main draw of the slams soon.

Wimbledon 2016: Edouard Roger-Vasselin Gets Into Second Round for the Third Time

Edouard Roger-Vasselin, currently ranked #186, has been trying to qualify in a grand slam since Wimbledon last year but has failed to till this 2016 Wimbledon. 

However, he not only qualifies here, he gets to the second round of this slam for the third time.  He won over Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili 16 63 64 64 in the first round.  He reached the third round once in 2007.

He lost to David Goffin (#11) of Belgium in the second round 64 60 63.

Wimbledon 2016: Denis Istomin Into Third Round for the Third Time

Veteran player from Uzbekistan, Denis Istomin, currently ranked #116, gets to his third third round appearance in Wimbledon.  It's also the fifth time he passed the 2nd round.

He has reached as far as the last 16 in 2012, and has also been to the 4th round of the US Open.

He has reached a career-high ranking of #33.

He upset South African Kevin Anderson (#25) in their first round match 46 67(13) 64 76(2) 63.  In the second round match, he upstaged Nicolas Almagro (#47) 64 76(2) 62.

He will either meet Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France or David Goffin of Belgium in the third round.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Wimbledon 2016: Jelena Jankovic The Improbable Semi-Finalist Pick on Paper

I thought the result of the other women's draw was strange, the bottom lower part of the women's draw has an even more bizarre head-to-head result!

If it were 2008-ish, I wouldn't be surprised to see Jelena Jankovic's name come up as top player on her side of the draw. But 2016 has been a year of injuries for the former world number 1, yet on paper, she has the best chance of getting the semi-final slot for Wimbledon 2016!

Garbine Muguruza and Venus Williams, both formidable grass court players, are the top seeds on this side of the draw, but in the early rounds, they are going to meet players who have a better win-lose record than them, and who might cause some upsets!

Anyhow, after all the dust settles , Jelena's name comes on top, with Lucie Safarova, her most probable QF opponent.

Grass hasn't really been Jelena's strongest suit but you never know tennis and life. If the stars align, strange things can happen. Daria Kasatkina and Carla Suarez Navarro are the other players she may meet.

Karolina Pliskova awaits in the semi's and if she really pushes through, Serena may be there waiting in the finals.

Wimbledon 2016: Karolina Pliskova The Other Czech Threat May Just Bloom on Grass

This is probably the strangest head-to-head result of a draw that I've done in a grand slam in a long time.

Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber are the top seeds of this side yet they will meet opponents who have handily defeated them before so after all the dust settles down, it's the Czech player, Karolina Pliskova, an up-and-coming newbie ranked #17 right now, who has the best head-to-head among all the players.

I am not surprised since I have heard a lot about Karolina and I've seen her play and she really has the capability to defeat the top players. She may need more consistency though, and based on the H2H results, she may be getting there.

Her prospective opponents include Sara Errani, Varvara Lepchenko, Ana Ivanovic and Misaki Doi, whom she has all handily defeated before.

She will most likely meet Garbine Muguruza in the semi's and if she goes through, possibly Serena in the finals.

For now, let's see if what is on paper can translate into real life for Karolina!

Wimbledon 2016: Petra Kvitova Always a Silent Threat on Grass

Petra Kvitova has just fallen out of the top 10 after the French Open yet in her side of the draw, after objective head-to-heads with her opponents, on paper, she is still the player to beat for the semifinal slot.

Her side of the draw has some competent grass court players like Agnieszka Radwanska, Tsvetana Pironkova, Belinda Bencic and Dominika Cibulkova.  She may meet three of the aforementioned plus Andrea Petkovic in an earlier round.

She has won the title here twice and based on experience, on grass, Petra suddenly acquires some sort of ferocity, which she hopefully unleashes this fortnight, if she wants to have a chance at title #3.

Wimbledon 2016: Andy Murray Refuses to be a Bridesmaid Again This Year

I think Andy Murray does not want to be the bridesmaid again to Novak Djokovic if he does reach the final of Wimbledon 2016. 

He re-hired Ivan Lendl as coach, who was instrumental in his grand slam winning form, and wants to win his first grand slam this year.

In his side of the draw, Andy Murray's potential opponents include Benoit Paire, Feliciano Lopez, John Isner and Stan Wawrinka in the semi's while a possible meeting with Novak in the finals can materialize.

Wimbledon 2016: Stan Wawrinka Wants to Conquer Grass

Looks like Stan Wawrinka is serious in improving his QF best performance the past two Wimbledons this year by hiring former champ Richard Krajicek as a coach specifically for grass.

Interestingly, the draw where he is in also helps him as his potential opponents include Leonardo Mayer, Mikhail Kukushkin and Tomas Berdych, a former finalist here. He is my pick to get the semifinal slot in his side of the draw.

It would be interesting to see how Krajicek influences his glass play and if it can bring immediate results.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wimbledon 2016: Novak Djokovic Still the Man to Beat

It's reset time for Novak Djokovic as Wimbledon starts on Monday. When he won the French Open title last month, he effectively held the four grand slam titles all at the same time.

However, he may be on the road again to another grand slam title here in Wimbledon as he's a heavy favorite in my book to get the semi-final slot in his side of the draw.

He has some tricky potential opponents like Sam Querrey, Phil Kohlschreiber, David Ferrer and Milos Raonic, but only Ferrer has ever won over him.

Roger Federer is a likely semi-final opponent and I won't be surprised if Andy Murray meets him again in the final.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

French Open 2016: Garbiñe Muguruza The New Queen of Clay

Now that Nadal's impressive run of nine titles in Roland Garros has been on hold due to injury, Spain installs another champion on the red clay, this time in the women's side!

Garbiñe Muguruza becomes the third straight first time female grand slam champion - a trend which started with Flavia Pennetta in the US Open last year, then Angelique Kerber in the Australian Open in January.

What's great about Garbiñe Muguruza is that she can be the female version of Nadal in the women's side - and I won't be surprised if this will be the first of her many RG titles.

It's seems like everyone in the women's field is delaying Serena's achievement of 22 grand slam titles, protecting Steffi Graf's record.

However, I have no doubt that Serena can achieve that number and even more. If she can be this strong on clay, which is, arguably, her 'weakest' surface, she can even be more fierce on grass in Wimbledon and on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows.

By the way, I love the way Serena speaks in French! She's really very relaxed already in speaking it! It helps naman talaga if your boyfriend is a local.

Friday, June 3, 2016

French Open 2016: Best Chance for Garbiñe Muguruza to Win Roland Garros

With Maria Sharapova's fate currently in limbo due to her use of prohibited drugs, it is but fitting that Garbiñe Muguruza puts herself into the finals of Roland Garros, as women's tennis does need a new IT girl.

With this becoming Garbiñe's second grand slam final, a victory here will finally confirm her it girl status. And I really think she has a great chance.

Serena (who else?) will be her opponent and she barely made it against two youngsters, Putintseva and Bertens. Muguruza is a different kind of opponent because she is statuesque and has more firepower and has defeated Serena here a few years ago.

Well, we'll know by tomorrow evening, if Garbiñe becomes the second Spanish woman to win RG in the Open Era.

French Open 2016: The Future of Tennis Dominic Thiem Fights The Current World's Best

With Roger Federer absent from this year's RG, and with Nadal and Tsonga both retiring due to injuries, it is fortuitous to find the fourth semi-final slot go to Dominic Thiem, THE representative that pundits have chosen to lead THE next geenration of Federers and Nadals and Novaks.

He will be playing today, fittingly against Novak Djokovic, since that would be a good barometer where the future of tennis stands vis-a-vis, the best player right now.

I do hope Dominic visits KL at the Asian leg of the ATP tour this year, although I think he would already be a top 10 player by then and could easily choose the bigger tournaments with bigger point (Beijing, Tokyo).

Thursday, June 2, 2016

French Open 2016: Kiki Bertens The Dutch Threat

I saw Kiki Bertens play before in a lower tournament, I think it was the Morocco Open in Rabat, and it was also red clay, like in RG. She was playing really well and I thought, that was the year she would make her breakthrough in the grand slams.  

I was wrong.

It would take her some more time to really find her game and I think she found it this year, with renewed confidence, by winning the title in Nuremboday.erg, a pre-RG clay tournament.

This has prepared her well for RG, and this week, she reaches a grand slam semifinal for the first time.

I'll definitely be watching how she handles herself against the great Serena in the semi's later today.

French Open 2016: The Fearless Yulia Putintseva

Ok, so she lost! But sometimes, it's not the only thing that counts.  Yulia Putintseva (#56) of Kazakhstan put on a fearless display of aggressive tennis against the world #1 Serena Williams.  It was great to see Serena do all those rallies and also have to temper all her unforced errors.

The scoreline of 57 64 61 definitely showed how many games Yulia was able to reel in and win over Serena.  I hope this encounters helps Yulia gain more confidence and the way she played today showed that her current ranking should be higher!  Anyhow, she would need more consistently good performances if she wants her ranking to improve.

As for Serena, this game is a good test for her opponent today, another fearless young player in Kiki Bertens.