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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Kevin Anderson: The Only One Blocking Another US Open Title for Rafael Nadal

When I was growing up, I thought Pete Sampras was already the compleat tennis player, but on hindsight, you get to appreciate more how compleat some of this generations players are - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, because, not only can they be dominant in one surface, they also make those little adjustments to their game, to make them deadly in the other surfaces.
And Rafael Nadal is testament to that. Like Guga, Nadal could have easily not bothered about the other grand slam titles and just decimate everyone in the French Open on clay, but he decided to tweak his game, so much so that in a hardcourt, which he says is a surface he is not really good at, a newbie in the grand slam finals department is the only one blocking him from yet, another US Open title.
And although talented players like Kevin Anderson of South Africa, have finally put themselves on the world stage of tennis, this year, has really been a master class of men's tennis from two of its most legendary players - Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
If a pundit told me exactly a year ago that Federer and Nadal would be dominant in the grand slams of 2017, my right eyebrow would rise an inch higher and give him (or her) a look of incredulity.
Yet, it has happened, and the possibility that two of the grand slam titles of 2017 will go to Rafa, as it did to Roger, is now a strong possibility.
Of course, we would love to see Kevin do well in the final, but the way Nadal demolished del Potro in their semi's, you can really see that Rafa will bulldoze you over if he can.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Madison and Sloane - Finally A Grand Slam Title Almost at their Reach!

For someone like me who knows all the top 100 tennis male and female players at any given week, it's always a joy to see non-marquee names (at least to those who are not really tennis addicts, yung Federer and Nadal and Williams sisters lang ang kilala) finally realize their true potential.
Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens have been in the top 10 before and both have reached a grand slam semi-final prior to this historic all-American, all-African American, and no Williams on-either-side-of-the-net US Open women's final.
So for tennis addicts like me, they truly deserve their finalist slots and to have similar Cinderella stories, coming-back-from-injury tales, it just shows that, sports is very similar to life - if you fall down, just get up and find that fire again.
Of course, it helps a lot if you have talent as well.
I have seen both women play before, and usually, I assess women players by the way they handled their games against Serena Williams, who, undeniably is the gold standard in the women's game.
On paper, Madison looks like she should win this title, with an amazing, almost perfect execution of her game plan, against fellow American Coco Vandeweghe in their semi's. (Coco now seems to have a history of wilting in the grand moments)
But Sloane's well-deserved standing ovation performance against Venus Williams shows how very mentally tough she is at the moment. I really thought she would lose the match when Venus was up 5-4 in the 3rd set.
But what happened in the next two games were some of the more amazing games I've seen in the women's game and to beat Venus, who is a giant in this sport, when she is leading,is a testament of how mature now, Sloane's mental toughness is.
Before, like Coco, she would normally wilt easily in very tight situations like this, which is very irritating to watch, especially if you know how good they really play.
Stressful situations can either bring the worst - or the best - in a person, and in sports, it's always a joy to see when the athlete's show their best.
If Sloane still has enough gas in her tank, she should win her first grand slam title.
If Madison wants to win this, she should not allow any cliffhanger moments to happen during their final, because beating a Williams in a very close match in a grand stage like a US Open semifinal, can really make a player believe that anything is possible - and I'm sure Sloane has lots of it right now.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Still An Open Field for the Women's US Open 2017

There are actually three excellent American players in the QFs in this year's US Open (Venus Williams, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens).

However, based on the head-to-heads, none of them will reach the semifinals.

And of those who should (at least on paper), only one has two Grand Slam titles, and it's not even on a hard court.

Karolina Pliskova is still, in my book, the woman who should win this title this year. She came very close last year, losing to eventual champion, Angelique Kerber, and beating Serena Williams in the semi's!

Fellow Czech, Petra Kvitova, can certainly take this title, with her game, very suited to a fast surface like a hard court. Yun lang, she has to beat Venus first in her QF match.

Kaia Kanepi of Estonia has been to five grand slam quarterfinals, and on paper, may finally, get her chance this year. She has been to the 2010 US Open QF and should have enough experience, in her up-and-down career, to finally seal this historic breakthrough for her.

Latvia, like Estonia, is a very tiny country, but has produced two top women players, this year's French Open titlist, Jelena Ostapenko, and Anastasija Sevastova, who saw off Maria Sharapova in their 4th round match.

Although only 5'5 to Maria's 6'1, her strong defense and varied play, threw Maria off in some very crucial points, and she really deserved the win.

Let's see if she is as fearless as her compatriot, Jelena, in beating the other remaining top women players.

The Steady Hands Meets the Veterans: US Open Possible Semifinal Showdown

I have completely missed this year's coverage of the US Open, being also the first year I go full-time teaching!

Hirap pala may hobby tapos magtuturo pa!

Anyway, I still love prognosticating and it's already the QF's and based solely on head-to-heads, Rafa and Roger are set to collide again in the semi's if they do beat their QF opponents (Rublev and del Potro).

So the dream final may instead be a semi-final dream match, at least on paper.

So while the veterans rule the upper part of the draw, the steady and relative newbies to the public are in the lower part of the draw.

Based again on head-to-heads, Kevin Anderson of South Africa, may finally get a chance to be in a grand slam semi-final. He narrowly missed it in Wimbledon, when he lost to Sam Querrey, in the fourth round!

And Querrey, again, is his opponent in the QFs here!

Sam Querrey is on a confidence high though, being in the semi's of Wimbledon a few months back.

Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain has been slowly climbing up the rankings (now at #20), and shows that he has grand slam potential, with possibly his best chance to get into a grand slam semifinal, because his QF opponent, Diego Schwartzman of Argentina is ranked #34.

Just imagine the boost to his stock if he does get that semifinal slot. Possibly a top ten ranking? Let's see how it plays out.

Elite Men's Team Award for the US OPEN

Spain narrowly wins the 2017 US Open Elite Men's Team Award as it fields two players into the fourth round - Rafael Nadal and Pablo Carreno Busta. 

They edged Germany, who had Philipp Kohlschreiber and Mischa Zverev and Argentina, who had Juan Martin del Potro and Diego Schwartzman.

This blog gives this award to the country that puts the most number of players into the fourth round of the US Open.

2017 - SPAIN - Rafael Nadal, Pablo Carreno Busta

2016 - FRANCE - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Lucas Pouille 

2015 - FRANCE - Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Jeremy Chardy and Benoit Paire

2014 - SPAIN - Rafael Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut, David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo

2013 - FRANCE - Jeremy Chardy, Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet

2012 - SERBIA - Novak Djokovic, Janko Tipsarevic

2011 - UNITED STATES - Andy Roddick, Donald Young, John Isner, Mardy Fish

2010 - SPAIN - Albert Montanes, Tommy Robredo, David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, Rafael Nadal, Feliciano Lopez

Elite Women's Team Award for the US Open

American tennis legend Venus Williams leads the USA into another Elite Women's Team Award for the 2017 US Open. This blog gives this award to the country that has the most 4th round players for that particular grand slam.

2017 - UNITED STATES - Venus Williams, Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Coco Vandeweghe

2016 - UNITED STATES - Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Madison Keys

2015 - UNITED STATES - Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Madison Keys, Varvara Lepchenko

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Up-and-Coming Players: Taro Daniel

Taro Daniel from Japan is currently ranked #121 and this is his second appearance in the main draw of the US Open.  It's also his best performance yet, reaching the second round.

He won over Tommy Paul of the US (#159) 61 46 46 62 62. He then lost to world #1 Rafael Nadal of Spain in the second round 46 63 62 62.

At least, he won a set over Nadal!