3-6 1-5, Simona Survives!

In her post match interview Simona Halep said she didn’t know she was match point down in the second set tie-break. The Romanian turned her quarter final around in incredible style and deserves a lot of credit for the grit she showed from 3-6 1-5 down in the match to turn it around at the last moment possible winning 12 of the next 13 games to keep her dream of winning her first major alive.

At the same time I do feel for Svitolina who’s game capitulated and it looks like a case of seeing the finish line before it was reached.

The whole tournament so far has shown such a big step in Halep’s mental preparation, guts and determination on the court which she has lacked for a while and even admitted herself a short break from her coach made her realise she needs to be more controlled and composed on the court and what I enjoy seeing come the end of a match is that fist pump from Halep. She doesn’t overreact to winning but she knows it’s a job gone and she is two wins away from her greatest completed job!

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Why has Wozniacki struggled in finals this year? Is a lack of anticipation part of the problem?

So far so good for Caroline Wozniacki but it could have been better. Caro is one of the form players on the tour this year getting back up to a ranking of 12 in the world but in the race to Singapore she is sat a number three with just Karolina Pliskova and Johanna Konta ahead of her with Sinagpore just under 200 days away.

Three finals isn’t bad at all but what you are judged on at the end of the day is how many of those finals have you won? For Caro she is yet to pick up a piece of silverware this season but why is that?

I watch a lot of Wozniacki’s matches on tour and have watched her over the years so many time and I like her never giving up/giving in style of play but somethings been missing in these finals and on too many big points I’d have to say she seems to be more of a spectator in these big points rather than that usual anticipation and skill you ususally see in her game and now I’m going to look at a couple of points from to finals this year.

Elina’s passing shot

Passing shots in the first set in Doha were too high for a player who is as smart as Wozniacki and covers the ground so well it should have been 1000 times better but credit to Elina as well let’s not forget who during the match gave herself that extra split second to make a brave, bold and subsequently a right decision!

1c

Covering the court is Caroline Wozniacki’s bread and butter and a point she should have won. Looking at her body position she seems to be waiting for that backhand into body (blue line) and is set to play that close to the body volley over the net but doesn’t seem to think about that backhand passing shot and when she does react it’s too late and she went on to lose the set in that game.

Lessons weren’t learnt v Konta…

Wozniacki’s worst loss of the season to date based on games won was against Konta in Melbourne and from then to the Miami final lesson’s weren’t really learnt from the Dane who failed to upset the Brit’s rhythm from the baseline. This is Caroline Wozniacki who we are talking about who is usually so good at moving these baselines and making them run but she never asked questions and here is a point from the final in Miami which frustrated me.

2 c

Right now Caro is in this position due to a poor return. Now you can see above I’ve put together three options off this backhand from Caro. The cross court is unlikely, it would take perfect connection to rotate and hit such a low and dangerous shot is tough. The backhand down the line is on at this point but would need early contact on the ball but the shot that she played was down the middle which isn’t a bad idea but against Konta if you don’t get that depth in rallies you set yourself up for a difficult afternoon.

Time is something that Konta thrives on but Caro didn’t seem to anticipate it much at all and played into her strengths time and time again we saw too much of Konta lining up that forehand cross court or down the line and wasn’t under pressure.

Going forward?

Clay next for the Dane who will be hoping for some good results, she doesn’t have too many points to defend and conditions in Stuttgart in particular would favour her I believe!

2 titles, 17 wins and 2 defeats.. Elina Svitolina is on route to the top!

As of Monday morning Elina Svitolina will be a debutant in the top 10. I’ve said in the past the Ukranian sometimes has gone under the radar but 17 wins from 19 matches including wins against Kerber (x2), Puig and Wozniacki amongst others with two titles to her name and her first Premier title this week in Dubai.

I’ve said before her all round game is good and there isn’t really a standout weakness and it is all coming together at the right time now the only issue may be that consistency during matches. I spoke about how well she dealt with winning the first set 6-0 and then maintaining a good level to then see out the match in two sets as to win a set so quickly without having to do much mentally can be tough to then maintain a level where the breaks might go on.

To win against Kerber for a third time in a row and twice this year is pretty remarkable. She has found a brilliant consistent level from the baseline and to take this form from Australia at the beginning of the year and carry it on is a fantastic achievement, now she has a big 5 weeks coming up with Miami and Indian Wells just around the corner!

Well done Elina!

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Svitolina 6-0 6-4 Davis – Cruise control as Elina makes another semi-final!

Whatever happens for the rest of the week Elina Svitolina has guaranteed that on Monday she will be ranked at a career high of 11 in the world after making another semi-final this year extending her record for the year to 15 wins and just 2 defeats!

It didn’t take Elina long at all to make her mark in the match breaking straight away and from then on in during the first set was a walk in the park taking about 18 minutes to seal the set at 6-0 but prior to sealing the set there felt an inevitability about the match.

In all honesty Davis could not have played any worse in set one but after going 4-0 down the set was over and mentally that can be a tough one for the winner to deal with as just over quarter of an hour has gone you are a set up and to be honest you haven’t had to do anything at all to get into this position it’s like Christmas has come early.

Next set will be better, you can’t maintain that level and that’s where it asks big questions because you could sit and there and think well I can continue playing this way but that is where complacency falls into the game but credit to Davis she did play better but also bigger credit to Svitolina she may have broken early in the second set and let it slip but maintained that level and camped behind the baseline saying to Davis bring the game to me.

Sadly for the American she fought hard but the game just wasn’t there the errors of 33 in 16 games is way to many averaging at least 2 a game and the backhand was the main issue.

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We saw a lot of backhand to backhand rallies but as the rally went on and on decision making wasn’t great and if anything I think she got stuck in two minds. Do I go forehand down the line which is on, do I go cross court and follow in with a volley or do I go into the body and hope for a short ball from Elina. Davis had time but maybe too much time and instead hit the ball into the net which happened a lot as well as a panic swing hitting the ball wide.

Another good performance from Svitolina though who will play Kerber or Konjuh in the next round, she has beat Kerber in their last two meetings…

Four to watch out for in Melbourne…

Melbourne is upon us. The first Grand Slam of the year is always much anticipated to see where different players are at as the new season is just a couple of weeks old. Some have impressed where as some look like they are still on their holidays but who should you watch out for in Melbourne?

Elina Svitolina

I wrote about Elina at the beginning of the year and I spoke about her game being there or there abouts but sometimes lacks that standout shot which isn’t a bad thing but sometimes needs that extra bite. We saw this extra bite at Brisbane where she made it all the way to the semi-finals before being defeated by Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals but the week saw her come up with wins against Olympic champion Monica Puig and world number Angie Kerber. The talent is there just on a consistent basis against top players it’s missing but is something that will come with more practice.

Lucas Pouille

The Frenchman had a bit of a scare last week having to retire down a set and a break to Kyle Edmund with a foot injury but the 22 year old has arrived in Melbourne and has posted videos of himself practising ahead of the first major which suggest everything is ok with his foot. Pouille was one of the breakthrough stars last season and stole the headlines with his dramatic climb up the rankings as well as his five set win against Rafael Nadal at the US Open. Pouille reminds me a lot of Pete Sampras he has that exceptional swinging serve and that delicate touch as well as that bullet like power to become a top player!

Karolina Pliskova

I’m not going to go too much into Karolina’s chances as I do have a piece currently working on her after her win in Brisbane but the Czech star is one to watch out for with her big serve and ground strokes and calming play on the court. There are aspects which need improvement but It will come with time. She made it to the final of the US Open last year and could go that step further this season.

Grigor Dimitrov

Another one I’m going to talk about just a little bit. Title winner in Brisbane with three top 10 wins in one week matching his record for 2016 and stay tuned as I explore the changes to his game which has made him a better play and one who go only go up!

Brisbane Preview – Monica Puig v Elina Svitolina

In life we all set targets for ourselves. 2016 quickly took off for Monica Puig in Brazil last year. The Puerto-Rican set herself a target of winning Olympic Gold and also named her dog Rio before the Olympics and suddenly her name hit the headlines winning Puerto Rico’s first Olympic Gold medal.

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Now 2017 the eyes of the world will be on her. She will forever be remembered for what happened in Rio and she has the talent to push herself up the rankings and become a contender. A run of form like that and performances at the Olympics were no fluke and now there is a pressure on her to recreate this week in week out on the tour which will be tough but it begins in Brisbane.

Round one meetings at the first tournament of the year don’t get tougher than the unpredictable and solid Elina Svitolina who finished 2016 ranked at 14 in the world and the 22 year old will be itching to edge that step closer to the top 8 with Singapore surely in mind but that’s a long away right now.

If anything I think both have a lot to prove this season. There are no doubts how good both are and how good they can become in the future it’s about making that step up now!

Svitolina has kind of gone under the radar, her game is solid which is good to see variety and confidence with her game already at 22 but I wouldn’t say there is a big shot which stands out for me right now in her game. She is a good defender and attacker but I think she does need that extra push in her game to get to that next level.

The meeting between these two in Brisbane should be really interesting. They have met twice before on the tour for the first time back in 2014 with Elina winning their first encounter 6-4 7-5 at Indian Wells and in their last meeting in Rome last year it was Monica Puig who won 6-1 4-6 6-1 against the Ukrainian.

Tough one to predict but I think it will be Elina who progresses to the next round in Brisbane. If Puig can dictate from the baseline early on in the match and keep Elina camped behind the baseline and her forehand keeping her moving then she stands a good chance but it would require her to get the better of a solid opponent in Elina.

 

 

 

 

 

Svitolina stuns Serena in Rio!

Well, what will happen next?

The Olympic Tennis tournament has been full of upsets and another big one has followed as the world number one Serena Williams has been dumped out of the tournament in straight sets but the upcoming Ukrainian star Elina Svitolina.

The draw just continues to open up and for these events are a once in a lifetime and for all still in the competition the chance to lift and Olympic medal for the first time lives on!

It is a shame to see Serena lose but at the same time you have to praise Elina who was excellent throughout the match but it was an out of sorts Serena at times who did in one game amazingly did serve 5 double faults!

The draw continues to open up but who will be victorious on Saturday?

U N R E A L 🇺🇦💪🏼 #olympics #rio2016

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