Who if anyone can stop this man at Indian Wells?

Whilst we freeze in Britain the top players on the ATP tour are heading off to the Californian desert of Indian Wells as the first Masters 1000 of the year is here but who if anyone can stop Roger Federer.

Roger the favourite?

Of course he is. No one has been to more finals than Roger at Indian Wells winning 5 of the 7 he has played losing just to Novak Djokovic but of course Roger is the defending champion here.


Who is missing?

Well, where do we begin? The ATP tour is like an episode of casualty at the moment with many missing but who won’t be there?


Will they? Won’t they?

Kei Nishikori, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are all down to play but have been having issues themselves.

Kei has returned but isn’t near match fitness to make him a contender here at all.

Djokovic hasn’t played since Melbourne so how fit and ready is his elbow?

Nadal once again either retired or withdrew from a tournament. He cited a sharp pain in his leg, the same that what made him withdraw from the Australian Open. Nadal has now withdrawn from his last four tournaments.

The Contenders?

So, who could make a name at Indian Wells?

Marin Cilic – Under-rated as the world number three. He did well in Melbourne making the final and is good at taking an opportunity when presented to him so I wouldn’t rule out a deep run here.

Grigor Dimitrov – Hasn’t really happened for him this season. His game has taken a dip since winning at the O2 especially his second serve which has taken a beating this year and in a word was awful against Jaziri in Dubai.

Alex Zverev – It hasn’t happened for him yet this year. He’s lost a lot of matches of late which you would put in the category of ‘should win’. Watching him a bit this year he does seem to be labouring through matches and those big performances haven’t resurfaced yet this year.

Dominic Thiem – Unpredictable and not in a good way! You never know what you will get from him. It’s been up and down for too long. I wouldn’t be too shocked on early exits, clay is where he should burst into life!

David Goffin – Dangerous player. Like to see him grab the chance by the neck if it were to come around. Not playing this week which is a smart move and of course had that freak eye injury a couple of weeks back so hopefully he will be back and ready!

Juan Martin Del Potro – I just have this feeling Juan Martin could be one the watch. He is a player for the big stage so I wouldn’t rule him out here especially with soo uncertainties about players.


Australian Open Day 9 – Nadal, Svitolina & Dimitrov out! Wozniacki through!

The conclusion of the Australian edges closer day by day but for some players it has come to a surprising end with Grigor Dimitrov, Rafael Nadal and Elina Svitolina’s tournaments all coming to an end on the same day!

Edmund stuns Dimitrov!

Well, a first Grand Slam semi-final for Edmund who got it right from the first game of the match. He went after Dimitrov and forced him out of his comfort zone and bided his time to see of the world number three! See more on the win below!

Stunned! Edmund see’s off Dimitrov to make first Grand Slam semi-final!

Mertens strikes again!

Elise Mertens is causing trouble on the tour. The Belgian is racing through the draw at the moment and after seeing off Elina Svitolina who had been so impressive throughout the tournament now hangs questions on Caroline Wozniacki who is looking to make her first final in Melbourne.

Nadal injured and out!

In what was a bit of a rollercoaster with Marin Cilic during the latter stages of the match Nadal felt some pain and after receiving treatment decided to retire from the match ending his tournament. Since the retirement Nadal has said he will have an MRI tomorrow to find out what the issue is.

Caro safely through!

In a day of upsets Caroline Wozniacki orchestrated herself through a tricky opponent in Carla Suarez Navarro. The Dane cruised taking the first set 6-0 before losing the second on the tie-break but as ever showed some fight to make her first semi-final in 7 years!

caro 1


How a lack of trust on the backhand led to Marinโ€™s early exit

Marin Cilic is no stranger to London however the Croat was in all honesty one of the biggest disappointments of the world tour finals last month but where did it all go wrong? Trust is the issue.

Most of the field in London were first timers and that put more pressure on someone as experienced Cilic as for them it was a free hit but at the same time the trusted what they were doing.

You could argue one of his biggest weapons is the backhand. The two hander is such a strong weapon but he didn’t utilise it and became predictable and safe to play against and with his power and accuracy you shouldn’t feel safe as an opponent against one of the big shots on the tour.

The graphics below via ATP InfoSys says it all, just look the percentage. The two handed backhand should not be that short and safe.

Marin will be deeply disappointed with what happened in London as this looked a good shot for him this year but he fell short and now preparations for the new season shouldn’t entirely focus on his game but confidence.


Nervous Cilic on verge of going home after another defeat!

Marin Cilic is on the verge of going home. Out of the ย eight players in London right now after Rafael Nadalโ€™s withdrawal youโ€™d say heโ€™s the second most experienced player in the field with a Grand Slam, Masters 1000 title and a third appearance in London which looks like ending winless.

Cilic will be disappointed and will know himself it will take something extraordinary to qualify for the semi-finals now. This is Marinโ€™s third appearance in London and so far he has a win/loss ratio of 1-7 at the tour finals and now plays a player he has a win/loss ratio of 1-7 in Roger Federer. That one win for Marin? US Open Semi Final back in 2014!

We have seen him get frustrated in the first couple of matches and well the nerves have gotten to him when it matters the most. At this event between the best itโ€™s the smaller margins which cost big at the end of the day and he will look back to losing against Zverev despite being 3-1 in the final set and 3-0 to Sock in the final set as two matches that got away and he should have won.

After winning the second set today Sock seemed to fizzle out and Marin played a great few games of tennis winning 12/13 points to begin set three but was he guilty of seeing the finish line?

Federer wins tonight and Cilic goes home!



Sascha bites back despite second set capitulation!

After winning the first set Sascha Zverev’ level dropped dramatically. The world number three has had issues of late winning after winning the first set but he dug deep when it mattered to see off the Croat.

Set two was a complete write off from the German who look flat and was hitting error after error whether it was the backhand into the net or the forehand long it just wasn’t working.


It did look like it was going to go from bad to worse in the final set especially when he went a set down but turned it around when it mattered to secure his first win at the tour finals and leave Marin Cilic with a mountain to climb which he will be deeply disappointed with after gaining control of the match.

Zverev’ frustration was evident with gestures towards his box as well as questioning line calls with the umpire which begged the question why not challenge?

Despite a 125 minute marathon the German hung around and was back on court at around 11pm last night practicing with his coach!

Next up? Federer.


London calling!

In January you whisper about it, in June qualifiers begin and in October the race reaches it’s final sprint but now the marathon week is about to begin.

A season hit by injury for many top players saw some returning faces in Roger and Rafa and some new faces!

Rafael Nadal

We are unsure whether the world number one will participate. The knee injury has flared up and forced him out of Paris. No matter what does happen he will finish the year as number one. Inside hard courts have not been his strength over the years so I wouldn’t even have him down as the favourite.

Roger Federer

Missing Paris was a good decision, time to rest ahead of London and of course a stop in Glasgow for Andy Murray Live which ended up in him playing tennis in a kilt. He has to be the favourite. No one knows London like Roger.

Alex Zverev

Stepped it up ahead of the other younger players on the tour. Can show frustration at times but has his game settled. I haven’t seen too much of Alex on the indoor court but if it is another slow one in London he will rely on his variety to win matches. Getting out of the group will be key but will be tough.

Dominic Thiem

Second year running for Thiem who there are concerns about as he once again travelled week in week out playing 28 tournaments in 9 months. At some point the tennis will catch up and bother him long term, to cement his place as a contender cutting out unnecessary travelling and tournaments. The game is there but is the challenge?

Marin Cilic

Could be one to watch in London! Cilic has had some unusual results this year but he has played at a consistently good level and maybe doesn’t get the credit he deserves sometimes. With the serve, ground strokes and his improvement at the net will make him dangerous!

Grigor Dimitrov

Exceptional start to the year for Grigor. He was unplayable early on, it did fall apart a little but has been consistent throughout the season. He has grown up a lot on the court and his game is much better now! If he can settle then he can be dangerous on this O2 court.

David Goffin

One of my stories of the year. That freak injury at Roland Garros was tough for him physically and mentally but David is a fighter. If I compare the tennis he was playing during the clay court season with that of last year at the O2 when he had a brief cameo as an alternate and his game is much better and I think that cameo did him the world of good.

Jack Sock

Well, I’m not sure where to begin. With great respect Jack Sock an addition I would call a fish out of water. He has had good results this year but winning a Masters 1000 title has propelled him into the final position and qualifies and it is a great achievement personally for him but it does highlight the lack of quality outside the top players.



Why Marin Cilic needs to be less predictable and think more to find his form!

It seems a lifetime ago that Marin Cilic was a champion at Flushing Meadows. Last year the Croat picked up his first Masters 1000 title seeing off Berdych, Verdasco, Coric, Dimitrov and of course Murray on route to his win in Cincinnati but this year it hasnโ€™t happened for him but why is that?

I say it time and time again tennis moves on and I think back to that US Open final and compare it with matches this year and his game is still at the same level and that level isnโ€™t good enough. No one is going to convince me just because he won a Masters title last year then heโ€™s taken big strides.

To be four months into the season and have a win/loss of 5-7, remarkable be sat still at 8th in the world but in the Race to London with just 6 months of tennis left he is sat at 41 so a year which was meant to be a step up has quickly turned into a fight to regain form and getting to London has to be the main priority. So what needs adapting in his game?

Can you under think?

Sometimes you can say a player is over-thinking a shot and has too much time but can you under think a shot and have too much time?

Cilicโ€™ game is quite predictable. Predictability is not a bad thing especially as it has propelled him to being a top 10 player but how to go that step further? You donโ€™t need to remove it but give yourself options and something for opponents to think about.

A Cilic rally is usually serve down the T followed by a slice return down the middle and then he will look for that inside-out forehand cross court but why not go for that inside-in forehand down the line.

fh 1

Just look at this. Inside-in is on, out is on but Dan is anticipating this, his body is on the move already. Inside-in gives Cilic more time and he has lined up the forehand well enough for the option so why not mix it up more?

At the same time the backhand is slightly different. This is to do with the body position so letโ€™s have a look!

bh 1

With this position there is just one place the backhand is going and that is cross court. There isnโ€™t much threat or variety off the shot but because of his height he could step a tiny bit back and with both legโ€™s straight can have more of a swing behind the backhand similar to Murray and Djokovic with that steady position and then the down the line and cross court flat backhand is on!

From now until Roland Garros he has about 150 points to defend after missing Monte-Carlo, Rome and Madrid last year so he must get wins under his belt.

Screenshots credit to the Australian Open