Wimbledon 🎾 Day 2 – Thiem 🚑 Kvitová 👎🏻 Clarke so close 🥈 Spanish duo through, Goffin out 😢 DelPo 💪🏻 British trio win!

Dominic Thiem injured!

It’s a shame that Dominic Thiem’s run at Wimbledon is over before it has really begun. The Austrian who made the Roland Garros final a few weeks ago picked up an injury down two sets and a break to Baghdatis called it a day.

The 5th seed seemed to be having a problem with his back/shoulder and received some treatment for this but could not continue.

Kvitova stunned!

Well, I had Petra down as my favourite and Sasnovich with respect is no pushover. I expected her to give Petra a battle but to do what she did has well and truly opened up the ladies draw now. Sasnovich took the first set 6-4 and then Petra repaid the favour with the same scoreline before being bageled in the third set by the Belarussian.

Jay Clarke so close!

Following some good tennis this year and some good tennis in Eastbourne lately Jay Clarke of Great Britain was given a wildcard for the tournament and found himself up against a very talented but troubled player in Ernests Gulbis who now what seems a lifetime ago was ranked so high but injuries and issues meant he dropped down pulled off a five set win against the young Brit.

Garbine & Rafa win!

Business as usual for these two. Neither Garbine Muguruza or Rafael Nadal wasted much time at all in their respective matches as they booked their place in the second round of Wimbledon with straight set victories.

David out! 😦

It’s been a tough old year for David Goffin. Bizarre injuries have meant that he just hasn’t been able to find any rhythm at all and I didn’t expect him to pull up trees this fortnight but a first round exit is a shame for a player who just cannot get a break. Fingers crossed this break does him some good, he can get fit and think and focus on getting to London in November.

Del Potro begins his quest

Out on Court 3 the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro won in straight sets against Gojowcjwk from Germany as the former semi-finalist who many consider a favourite here got his tournament under way in fashion.

Three Brits through!

Kyle Edmund and Johanna Konta safely orchestrated their way through to round two at Wimbledon but also Katie Boulter who I had the pleasure of watching in Birmingham alongside Heather Watson who lost today at SW19. Katie was up against a tough player in Veronica Cepede Roug who has taken headlines at majors before including last years Roland Garros where she made the fourth round

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Sharapova out!

Maria Sharapova led fellow Russian and qualifier Diatchenko 7-6 5-2 and was a game away from the second round of Wimbledon for the first time in a few years but the former champion didn’t play too well and her game fell apart as she lost 7-6 6-7 4-6 against Diatchenko a type of performance we haven’t seen from Sharapova for a few months after it looked like she turned a corner.

 

 

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Who will win Wimbledon? 🤔

Wimbledon begins on Monday, 256 players will begin their tournaments over the next few days but only half will survive but who is a contender for the title?

Roger Federer

The man looking for his ninth title. The eight time former champion did his usual hiatus of the clay court season and returned to grass at the beginning of the month in Stuttgart where he won his first title, a tenth Halle title did not materialise after a tough defeat to Borna Coric in the final in what was an unconvincing week from his standards.

Favourite? Maybe but it’s not looking as straight forward as people reckon…

Serena Williams

The queen is on site! This is Serena’s 20th appearance at Wimbledon and the story from the beginning to now is remarkable. She is hungry, ready and determined as ever as she aims for 8th singles title. We should just celebrate the chances we have to watch this wonderful lady!

Garbine Muguruza

In her pre-match press conference Muguruza said that she is ready to win Wimbledon again. I watched Garbine Muguruza in Birmingham a couple of days and I wasn’t really impressed by the performance but in press afterwards she didn’t seem to bothered. I have said before she is the type of player to turn up in bad form and do well!

Rafael Nadal

Rafa said in his pre-tournament press conference that he is ‘feeling good’ however that transition from a full clay court season to competing at Wimbledon is one he just cannot get going. Having withdrawn from Queens Club for the second year running so I don’t fancy his chances of causing too many issues as Wimbledon progresses.

Milos Raonic

Slipped under the radar slightly this year, the Canadian has had many injury problems which is a theme throughout his career. He did well in his comeback in Stuttgart making the final but pulled out of Queens last minute with a shoulder injury despite saying in press hours before he was fine. On grass he is a danger but in a best of 5 right now?

Caroline Wozniacki

Caro’s fight is something unmatched the tour. If she can stay in matches she is a danger! I loved watching Caro at Eastbourne last week her performances were what we know she can produce and is why she is one of the best on the tour! The performance against Kerber in particular was off the charts the defence was out of this world and I genuinely think that she is a contender here

Simona Halep

Simona Halep in her conference says no pressure now and new goals (which is the 2020 Olympics). Halep was due to play in Eastbourne but this Achilles injury which we know has been around for some time including in Australia resurfaced during Roland Garros. The mental strength of this lady at Roland Garros was simply stunning to watch, the way she dealt with the incredibly intense fortnight was bloody brilliant!

Juan Martin Del Potro

I honestly think that Del Po behind Federer is the favourite here. We may go on and on but the comeback has been quite incredible and he has created soo many stories on the tour and to win another major would epitomise his fight and character. Beating this one will a challenge!

Alex Zverev

I don’t see it happening… he is having his best season at the majors and is one win from his highest number of wins in a season at all 4 combined but despite his run at Roland Garros which was highly spoken about but outside of Masters events he hasn’t done it and I don’t see it happening here.

Novak Djokovic

Remember when everyone over-reacted following Novak’s loss at Roland Garros and I said it was a blip? His run at Queens Club showed he is here to win and he will be there deep in the second week if he can stay fit I see no reason why he couldn’t win it.

Petra Kvitova

Birmingham champion, pulled out of Eastbourne with a hamstring injury, precaution? For me Petra is the favourite here. She has done it twice before and her form this year has been exceptional. I watched her at Birmingham and she was a delight to watch!

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Madison Keys

I think Madison is nearly there, she will be super dangerous on the grass but sadly injury has cut her preparation for Wimbledon withdrawing from Birmingham last minute. With Lindsay Davenport in her corner she has the experience there and with some big runs in majors recently she will cause trouble!

Maria Sharapova

Maria didn’t play a warm-up tournament. It was quite a funny one but poor on her part to agree a two year deal with Birmingham and fail to show up in both years and her picture was all over the back of the East Stand.. little awkward! She has looked better and her tennis has been a bit more competitive so who knows…

 

2 weeks of incredible tennis, stories and moments await but only two will walk away victorious.

 

Sharapova + Nadal withdraw, Novak’s wildcard, Roger’s return and Stan’s sensible schedule change!

The second major of 2018 is over. Now the attentions turn to Wimbledon and with a quick turn around the big guns have been busy these last few days.

Sharapova’s two year deal…

Just over a year ago Maria Sharapova signed a deal with the LTA to play WTA Birmingham for two years. The LTA came under criticism for this having rewarded the former world number one with two scheduled wildcard so close to her return from a drugs ban.

How did Sharapova repay them? Well, she hasn’t turned up to either event.

Sharapova withdrew last year at the last minute and rumours started circling yesterday morning that the Russian would not be taking part in this year’s tournament and that has since been confirmed!

LTA have been made to look a little silly. I wouldn’t even ask if she was coming back next year.

Novak’s wildcard

Following that explosive press conference following the loss to Marco Cecchinato at Roland Garros the press hounded Djokovic about the grass court and were unfair to him. I said in my piece it was a blip and his explosive press conference shows he cares and expects better.

On his quest to find better tennis ahead of Wimbledon for the first time since 2009 he will be at Queens Club in London having taken a wildcard there!

Stan’s sensible withdrawal

When Stan withdrew from Madrid during the clay court season it was announced he’d go to play two clay court tournaments at the end of July and I asked ‘why’ and called the decision ‘bizarre’ especially for a man who has struggled this last year or so with surface changes and he didn’t look too sharp at Roland Garros but has been practicing on site at Queens Club.

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Nadal’s expected withdrawal

Some things in life you can predict.

Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from Queens Club is one of them. The world number one is resting once again following a long clay court season and the question is how can Rafa follow up a successful clay court season with a successful grass court season?

Changing surfaces is tough and he does not want to do that knee any damage however history has shown he needs warm up tournaments on grass to do well at SW19. He hasn’t made it to the second week at Wimbledon since made the final in 2011 and with no warm-up event I don’t think that run will be ended this year.

Roger’s back!

Clay season is over which means Roger is back!

Roger’s schedule on grass is like clockwork. He will begin in Stuttgart before travelling to Halle; a tournament he has won 9 times and then he will make his move to Wimbledon.

Federer faced Mischa Zverev in round one of Stuttgart a player he once defeated 6-0 6-0 but had to come from a set down to navigate to the next round.

 

Rating their Roland Garros – who impressed and who didn’t?

The second major of the year has come to an end. The season is over the half way point but how did some players rank over the course of their stay in Paris?

Simona Halep – 10

There is nowhere else to start than with Halep. The tennis has been stunning and the mental strength she has shown has been out of this world. A true testament to hard work, determination and never giving up!

Novak Djokovic – 7.5

I think Novak had a good tournament and after his defeat by Cecchinato the dissection of his performance was unfair in my opinion. Novak was frustrated and that shows two things; he cares and he expects much better. This was a blip, anyone expecting him to pull up trees here was a little naïve.

Garbine Muguruza – 9

Really impressed by Garbine throughout the tournament. I said she looked calm and locked her. She dispatched opponents with ease and her performance against Maria Sharapova was outstanding. By far her best tournament of the year. She will be disappointed she couldn’t stay close to Halep whose movement was too much!

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Diego Schwartzman – 8

In my clay court preview I said how dangerous Diego was on the surface and his tennis was impressive. No one can go a minute without mentioning his height during a match but his game style and performances were good. His aggression from the baseline was fantastic to watch and if it didn’t rain he could have caused Nadal more problems than he did!

Maximilian Marterer – 8

Max impressed me. He made it into the second week at Roland Garros but the performance against Nadal was excellent. He found himself down two sets but in the third when most just roll over and take it he took full advantage of the opportunity he had at Roland Garros and forced a third set tie-break.

Maria Sharapova – 7

Maria Sharapova played a good tournament. The Russian who played well in Rome replicated that here. Her dispatch of Karolina Pliskova was impressive however her performance against Muguruza led to more questions despite a positive tournament for the former champion.

Jelena Ostapenko – 1

Disappointing performance in R1. Her loss emphasised what I have said since winning the title here last year, her tennis has not improved and is not what I consider a top 10 player right now.

Daria Kasatkina – 7

Daria Kasatkina is a tough player to gage. I watch her blow Caroline Wozniacki off the court with her controlled aggressive tennis but then I watch her play in the next round and the performance is completely different. I think Daria can win a major over this next few years but needs to put everything together first.

Sloane Stephens – 9

Sloane likes to surprise us at a major. Her movement isn’t one of which where I’d say it is natural on a clay court. She turned up and just plays, there never seems to be any nervousness. Her last four appearances at Grand Slams have been R1, Winner, R1, Finalist so who knows what will happen next? She will continue to be a threat!

Alex Zverev – 7

So much was made of Alex never making the second week of a major but to get to the quarter finals he struggled with three give set matches. I don’t feel like we ever saw Alex’ best tennis but I do think it is unfair to criticise him for this he looked nervous but won ugly and let’s remember how young he is. He has a few Masters titles to his name and it won’t be long until he adds majors to his honours list.

Dominic Thiem – 9

Hats off Domi! Really good couple of weeks from him! I was critical of his decision to play in Nice and then come to Roland Garros but it worked out nicely for him! (I do still think he plays too much though). His performances were great to watch, the final he did everything he should have but Rafa was rampant and it was unfair of Roy Emerson to say

Karolina Pliskova – 4

After a very good period of results on clay lasting over 12 months and the tournament win in Stuttgart I fully expected her to do well at Roland Garros but her lack of performance against Sharapova was scary. She didn’t conduct herself well and was a performance I have seen before as her game can be hit and miss but one I have not seen for some time and hopefully not again soon!

Sharapova’s second serve – ranked at 112 in the world, trust, double faults, challenging at the top and Birmingham!

Prior to Roland Garros former world number one Maria Sharapova had played 19 matches this season. In those 19 matches she had hit 93 aces and 115 double faults which on average is 4.8 aces a match but also 6 double faults a match.

The win percentage behind second serve for the year is 44.2% over 20% lower than her first serve. This second serve is ranked at 112 in the world.

People will turn around and say well she is almost top 20 now but the difference between just a top 20 player and at the very top is massive and this won’t help.

Ok, Maria got to the quarter finals but better players as tournaments progress will just be all over it!

Against top 20 ranked players her win/loss for the year prior to Roland Garros is 4/4.

So, let’s have a look!

The win percentage of the serve was 19% winning 5/26 shots behind it so let’s see where these 26 have landed.

Sharapova 2nd v Mug

This data from the match v Muguruza is the second serve of Sharapova. 20 shots that landed, 6 of the 26 were double faults.

Unfortunately the data I have only gives a percentage and not position on the court. You can see there is a mix of landings on second serve. No real consistency.

This shows me a lack of trust especially with the positioning of the serve.

We can see below on this one Muguruza is ready for it;

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Muguruza is ready, she takes it on the rise, goes cross court which then means Maria has to stretch which she does and hits the backhand into the next and loses 6-2 6-1 in 70 minutes.

The speed and a lack of conviction/trust is the big issue here. At Roland Garros in four matches she hit 13 aces and 23 double faults which is on par with her form for the year, better players will get the better of it!

Sharapova has had shoulder injuries before, I don’t think there was a problem but maybe the surface led to her stepping back a bit but it was the same on the hard courts earlier on in the season.

I’ll be seeing Sharapova in a couple of weeks time at WTA Birmingham which has a very strong field so it will be interesting to see how it stands up on the grass courts where she is more dangerous but right now it’s flat and a bit central and slow which does not stand up well.

Muguruza 6-2 6-1 Sharapova – Spaniard is locked in and will take some shifting!

So…

Ladies, watch out!

If you didn’t think Muguruza was a major threat before you do now! The Spaniard took 70 minutes in her dismissal of Maria Sharapova on Suzanne Lenglen this afternoon.

Everything was just perfect from the third seed this afternoon.

I said at the beginning of this fortnight she looks in the mood and is now back in the semi-finals here without a set drop and looks locked in!

Everything was just perfect for Garbine and here’s a look at the numbers;

6/6 net points
72% first serves won
57% of return points won
10 winners
15 unforced errors

Everything clicked. She took control so early on with her patience and steady play still using that acceleration and movement to keep Sharapova where she wanted her.

As well as Garbine played with the control on the backhand and the placement of the forehand Sharapova did not play well.

27 unforced errors and a second serve win % of 19% (5/26) is no where near good enough and is something I will have a look at over the coming days.

Garbine is locked in and she’s done it here before! The only player still in the draw who has!

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Roland Garros Day 9 – Injuries, Marathons and Normal Service!

The draw is getting smaller. The quarter final line-ups are set. A day which was tipped to be a big one didn’t really deliver but what did happen on the second Monday?

Serena withdrew!

The news did slowly start to break and in hindsight I am slightly surprised no one picked up on anything before then following her performance and walk-off after the final set of her doubles match with Venus the night before. The big hope now is Serena is fit for Wimbledon!

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Serena Williams withdraws from Roland Garros

Kevin choked!

Kevin Anderson took about an hour as he found himself 6-1 6-2 up against Diego Schwartzmann and it looked like it would be plain sailing for the South African however Diego had different ideas and turned it around from two sets down to set up a quarter final with Rafael Nadal!

Kasatkina through!

Daria Kasatkina came back yesterday and took around 20 minutes to see of Caroline Wozniacki to advance to her first Grand Slam quarter final and with her section of the draw she has a good chance to reach the final here!

Daria Kasatkina 7-6 6-3 Caroline Wozniacki – Russian shows patience and aggression as she defeats the Dane

Rafa,Marin and Del Potro win!

Rafael Nadal had a meeting against Maximilian Marterer in R4. The German had made the headlines with his run here and he gave his all throughout the three sets against Nadal!

Marin Cilic on the other hand had to go the long way around. He led Fabio Fognini by two sets and the Italian looked injured but Cilic did come through in 5.

Juan Martin Del Potro is also through to the quarter finals after a pretty comprehensive 6-4 6-4 6-4 win against John Isner.

Cruising Halep!

Simona Halep is looking better and better as the tournament progresses. The world number one wasted no time at all as she cruised into the quarter finals with just three games dropped against a difficult opponent in Elise Mertens.

Simona Halep 6-2 6-1 Elise Mertens – Ruthless Halep cruises in less than an hour!