Nishikori got caught up in the fun and blew it!

Kei Nishikori has been on the tour for quite some time. Currently ranked at number 9 in the world the former US Open finalist from three years ago still looks a million miles away from winning a major but what does it come down to?

Kei is a talented player who has been hampered by injuries throughout his career but if you take that out of the equation you’d have to question his decision making which at times is bizarre.

I watched Kei earlier in the year against Bellucci in Rio and I remember writing about the match and the word I used in the title was ‘lost’ and in the article ‘panic’. Getting over the finishing line does seem to be an issue and we saw this against Monfils the other day.

Nishikori took the first set 7-6 and led the second and the third by a break but got caught and you’d have to say he can only blame himself. To be a major winner you have to be ruthless and he does play good tennis but it’s not effective when it matters and that isn’t down to the shot selection but the lack of ruthless instinct.

Monfils played a stunning few points at the end to win but Kei was a spectator and should have won the match at 6-3.

nishikori

Kei plays a very good shot and does the worst thing in tennis, he admires it. He stops moving like he’s waiting for a bus. Where is the ruthlessness? Never think it’s won until it is. Why not approach the net at this stage to close the rally and hopefully win the match instead he lost 5 points in a row.

If anything Nishikori got caught up in the circus of the tie-break and forgot there was a match to win.

The decision making and strategy just isn’t there right now for me and it is a shame. To think there will be no Stan, Novak and maybe no Andy in New York so you need to bring your A game!

 

ATP A&E

The last major of the year approaches. On the men’s side of the draw it is looking an episode of casualty. The injuries keep on pilling up and speculation grows day by day on who will be taking part at Flushing Meadows.

Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka who both participated in last year’s final will not feature again this season and it is looking unlikely that Andy Murray will be taking part. The Brit has been suffering from a hip issue for quite some time which was evident in his loss at Wimbledon and since then has recently pulled out of Rogers Cup this week and just pulled out of Cincinnati next week.

There are also concerns over Nick Kyrgios who didn’t seem to be moving well in his defeat to Alex Zverev in Montreal last night as well as Cilic and Berdych but all are down to play next week in Cincinnati.

IMG_0983

Stan’s ‘battling hard’ but will he be back to defend his title in New York?

By the time the US Open begins on the 28th of August it would have been 80 days since Stan Wawrinka won a tennis match a wait of almost three months since he defeated Andy Murray in the semi-finals of the French Open.

The defending US Open champion has withdrawn from the two Masters 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati that lead up to the final major of the year in New York but it is looking unlikely at the moment that Stan will participate in the tournament.

In a statement he said he is battling hard to be back fit in time for the US Open with this injury bothering him for at least 6 weeks now.

The news opens up the draw even more as there will be no Novak Djokovic in New York in a few weeks time and the race is on for the defending champion to be fit for Flushing Meadows.

sww

All noise points towards a wildcard for Maria Sharapova at the US Open

The race to New York is on. At the end of the month Flushing Meadows will be ready for the final major of the year and one lady you can expect to be there is Maria Sharapova.

No official decision has been announced yet however all noise is pointing towards a wildcard in New York.

Sharapova was denied a wildcard to the main draw of qualifying at Roland Garros but at Wimbledon was giving one for qualifying but had to withdraw to due injury. A former champion at the US Open back in 2006 we can expect to see Maria compete.

Maria is currently taking part in the Bank of the West Classic down in Stanford this week and the US Open twitter account was very vocal about the Russian during her first round victory in Stanford.

After the match Sharapova said how she wanted to hug everyone at the match for making her return to the US one to remember which was then prompted with a reply from the US Open Twitter account which said…

“It seems like the feeling is mutual. Sharapova got a great reaction from the crowd after her match tonight”

I would be surprised if discussions haven’t been going on for a while and this would be (surely) communicated within all levels of the USTA/USOpen whether it’s directors or someone who runs the social media account. 

It would be a bit odd to be vocal and discussing support for Sharapova if she wasn’t to appear at Flushing Meadows.

Early signs suggest she will but we will have to wait and see.

Maria+Sharapova+Maria+Sharapova+News+Conference+ElKdA2WUY_Kl

 

Why this former finalist might be favourite to make her mark in New York

Everyone wants to win. Many have, many still dream. Recent champions include Angie Kerber, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and of course Flavia Pennetta. One lady who has made the final before could be about to make her mark again and is no stranger to pleasing crowds in New York.

carolinewozniacki2014openday7mt5uarohfyhl

This iconic picture from 2014 is Caroline Wozniacki in a nutshell. The passion, determination and fight she shows on court is second to none. Her performance against Sharapova at Flushing Meadows three years is probably my favourite performance of all time.

Wozniacki is a player who has been on the tour for so long. She has seen so much and achieved so much but what is missing from her trophy cabinet is a Grand Slam title. She’s come close in New York twice before making the final on two previous occasions and with no Serena or potentially Maria as we don’t know what will happen there it is up for grabs and the only previous champions taking part potentially this year are Angie Kerber who has been in poor form this year, Venus Williams who has made two grand slam finals this year and surprise winner from 2011 Sam Stosur.

It’s a possibility but the coming weeks are important for Wozniacki as preparations as necessary and the decision to play in Sweden this week is one I think is a great decision as she bids to find confidence and consistency going into the final major of the year.

No Novak in New York?

Former world number Novak Djokovic on Monday will fall outside the top 4 on the rankings for the first time since 2007 and is likely to slip further down the rankings over the coming months.

It is expected that Novak Djokovic will not travel to New York over the coming weeks for the US Open and on a bigger picture I’d be surprised if we will see him again this season meaning he could miss big tournaments in Canada, Paris, Beijing and of course the season ending championships in London.

Novak has been suffering with this elbow injury for quite some time and it is unsure how long it will take to recover with some saying 8-12 weeks which would take us to the end of October where no tournaments get played and preparations for London reach the final step.

IMG_3040

 

Nishikori impressed against Murray but there’s still plenty of work to do to become a major contender

Kei Nishikori has picked off some big wins in his career. Against Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and in New York recently Andy Murray but despite this win against the British number one I’m still not convinced by Kei’s ability to challenge the top players regularly as we saw against Wawrinka in the semi-finals.

Panic

Even in tough circumstances you have to remain in control and in the third set at 4-5 30-15 on serve this is when I saw Kei panic going for a to be honest dodgy serve and volley.

serve-v-kei

If you’re going to serve and volley the best choice would surely be the kicker out-wide and not a serve down the middle of the box forcing you to play an awkward volley and quickly in no man’s land. If you are in this position on the third 3 shot of the rally on your own serve you are in trouble.

movement.png

You can see that Stan has the time to pick his spot but just look at Kei, he’s sold himself his body weight is moving to the right and where does Stan go? To the left of former finalist… This happened again in this game and you guessed right it led to Stan winning the set.

Lack of depth!

These courts in New York have a lot of a room so if you are going to play against a player who likes to dominate the baseline you are in trouble if you play with little depth.

lack of depth.png

It wasn’t just playing with little depth but variation it seemed a bit flat and central but there were times we saw that forehand down the line forcing Stan to play the slice and I kept thinking, follow it in and close off the point.

I wanted Kei to do this but he didn’t and Stan this and timed it to perfect he saw the opportunity and went for it and there never seemed to be any doubts.

I want to see Kei step it up to the next level this final in New York was over two years ago now and since then we have seen some impressive wins I loved his performance against Nadal a year ago in Montreal but we don’t see enough of it to put him in a list of genuine major contenders.

ALL screenshots credit to British Eurosport