Top 10 Statement Wins on the ATP World Tour in 2014

“Statement Win”–not only defeating your opponent, but accomplishing other victories in the process. Whether it be overcoming a lopsided head-to-head record, putting a beat-down on a top rival, getting your name out to the world, or simply playing your best tennis, a statement win is about more than just a notch in the win column. (See also: highlight win, signature win, etc.) 

2014 was another incredible year in tennis, and with the season wrapping up, The Tennis Nerds will look back and highlight some of the best moments from the past twelve months. We’ll try to stray from the norm–“Best points” “Best matches” etc–and give a little variety for our readers. You can find the Top 10 matches of the year just about anywhere. Today, I countdown the Top 10 Statement Wins of 2014. Comment if you agree/disagree or have thoughts on the best statement wins of the year!

10. Kei Nishikori d. Novak Djokovic 6-3 1-6 7-6(4) 6-3 US Open SF

Nishikori was the young gun who made the best breakthrough in 2014, finishing the year ranked a career high #5 in the world and reaching a Grand Slam final in the process. After two five-set marathon wins over Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka, few if any expected Nishikori to have much left in the tank for his Semifinal showdown with Novak Djokovic. He had been hampered by a recurring left foot injury for much of the summer, and looked out of the tournament when he took a medical timeout trailing two sets to one against Raonic. To add insult to injury, Nishikori had spent over 8 hours on court in his previous two matches. A windy day in Flushing led to some inconsistent play early, but after Djokovic won the second set 6-1, Nishikori looked on the ropes. He refused to give in to the sweltering heat of that day, and pulled off a shocking upset over the World #1. More shocking? He beat him at his own game.

9. Stan Wawrinka d. Roger Federer 4-6 7-6(5) 6-2 Monte Carlo F

The fact that Wawrinka is only on this list once is probably a huge mistake on my part. His 5 set epic over Djokovic was deserving, but I felt that this win was actually more significant in terms of mental strength. Coming into the final, Federer led the head to head matchup with his Swiss friend 13-1. FIFTEEN TO ONE. Federer owned his compatriot. Stan struggled not as much with forehands and backhands, but with his head. Mentally he was inferior. So when he lost the first set–playing pretty well–the outcome of the match looked clear. Federer was going to win his first Monte Carlo title. Wawrinka started to hold serve much easier in the second set, and although he gave up a break lead, the Lausanne native sealed the second set tiebreak with a serve and volley overhead winner. He ran away with the third set, tearing the cover off the ball on both wings. Federer was not playing poorly whatsoever, but Wawrinka was just too good.

8. Federer d. Murray 6-0 6-1 ATP World Tour Finals RR

By scoreline alone this one could have been number one. Andy Murray had a subpar 2014 campaign, but looked to be back in good form during the fall season. He won titles in Shenzhen, Vienna and Valencia to earn himself a spot in the World Tour Finals. His match with Federer was his final round robin match, and he needed a straight sets win to reach the semifinals. Playing in front of a home London crowd, Murray laid an egg, while Federer was on fire. If it weren’t for a few bad unforced errors at 6-0 5-0, Federer would have delivered the Scot a double bagel. Still, Federer proved that he was in far superior form, attacking second serves and approaching the net at will. He was off the court in 56 minutes, handing Murray the worst loss of his career.

It was so bad there aren’t even highlights on YouTube! (But here’s a Hotshot)

7. Novak Djokovic d. Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-3 Miami F

Djokovic came into the Miami final having just won Indian Wells. He was attempting the difficult IW-Miami double in back to back weeks, and had to face one Rafael Nadal in the final. What unfolded was a comprehensive, dominant performance. Djokovic went at the Nadal forehand relentlessly, which opened his two best attacking shots; the inside out forehand and backhand down the line. He was in full flight on return, putting everything Nadal threw at him within feet of the baseline. The last few matches of this rivalry had been back and forth, with Nadal winning 3 of the last 5. You felt like this match would serve as a good barometer to show where each player was at, and it did. Match point was pretty decent as well.

6. Marin Cilic d. Roger Federer 6-3 6-3 6-4 US Open SF

Hard to find words for this one. Just a look at the score pretty much tells the story. After looking….shaky against Gilles Simon in the fourth round of the US Open, Cilic started playing the best tennis of his career. This match was astonishing in particular. His liability in years past was often his forehand, but he was outhitting even Federer on that side. He was standing up on the baseline, giving his opponent nothing to work with. Federer wasn’t great, but he also wasn’t bad, which made this result one of the most surprising of 2014. The crowd tried to get Federer into the match throughout, but Cilic silenced them on every occasion with booming serves and flat, penetrating groundstrokes. Cilic claimed his first win in six tries over the 17-time major winner, and went on to beat Nishikori for his first Grand Slam title.

5. Rafael Nadal d. Andy Murray 6-3 6-2 6-1 French Open SF

It was a down year by Nadal’s insane standard, but he managed to win his 9th Rolland Garros title in relatively simple fashion, dropping only two sets the entire tournament. His most impressive performance came in the semifinals against Murray, who appeared to be back in good form after struggling with his return from back injury. Murray had taken Nadal the distance in Rome just two weeks prior, and this semifinal had the chance to replicate that competitive scoreline. It didn’t. Things started off badly for Murray, and they didn’t get any better. Nadal had time on all his shots, and was dictating play from the get-go. Yes, Nadal is the undisputed clay court GOAT, but to beat one of his best rivals, only losing 6 games in the process was a massive effort.

http://youtu.be/UDS-Mgh7wbg (FFT disables embedded video)

4. Novak Djokovic d. Tomas Berdych 6-0 6-2 Beijing F

Beijing seems to treat Djokovic pretty well. He’s won the 500 event all five times he’s chosen to play it. In fact, he’s only dropped *THREE SETS* in 24 matches played. The final in 2014 was, in a way, just another dominant performance from the Serb. But this might have been the best match Djokovic has ever played. Save for getting broken at 6-0 5-0, the world #1 played flawless tennis. He broke Berdych’s serve six times and never looked troubled. The quotes from both players after the match tell the story.

Berdych: “I just said to my coach now that I probably played over 700 matches in my career, and I met guys like Andre, Roger, all those probably in their best times. But I have never, ever experienced anything like that.”

Djokovic: “This has been, in the circumstances, probably the best performance of any final in my career. I have played some great finals, had some convincing wins, some straight-set wins against top rivals. But with this kind of performance and with this domination result-wise, I mean it’s never happened.”

3. Roger Federer d. Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-4 Shanghai SF

As stated in #4, Djokovic was playing unbelievably well during the fall swing. When Federer and Djokovic set the semifinal showdown in Shanghai, Novak was the betting favorite. Still, most in tennis expected a fascinating encounter. Well, it was fascinating. Djokovic played well, but the guy on the other side of the net was a different animal. Federer turned back the clock, and played as well as I’ve seen from him in years. The Edberg net-attacking gameplan coupled with an aggressive baseline game put Federer in vintage form. Vintage is a word that is used too often with Federer, but this really was a vintage performance. Federer halted Djokovic’s incredible 28 match win streak in China, sending a message that he was not going to finish the year quietly.

Federer: “It was a great match, I agree. I think I played very well. There was nothing in the game today that wasn’t working. I think it was a high-level match. I’m unbelievably happy with the way it went.”

Djokovic: “I think I did not play too bad.It’s just that he played everything he wanted to play. He played the perfect match. I think he’s going to tell you how he felt, but that’s how I felt he played. He played an amazing match.”

2. Grigor Dimitrov d. Andy Murray 6-1 7-6(5) 6-2 Wimbledon QF

I’m guessing that many of you will think I’m putting this too high on the list. (And please, let me know what you think!) But when I first came up with the idea for this Top 10, this match was the first thing that came to mind. Murray(on the wrong side of this list for the third time) was truly playing well at Wimbledon through the first four rounds. He had not dropped a set, while Dimitrov had just scraped through a 5 setter with Alex Dolgopolov. But Dimitrov was on a mission during this quarterfinal. He had already made the QFs at the Australian Open, and won two titles in 2014–Acapulco and Bucharest. But the Bulgarian made his official arrival to the top of the sport at SW19, blowing Murray off the court in the process. After every game you thought that Murray would find a way back, but he didn’t come close. Dimitrov’s shotmaking was incredible, and his backhand slice proved critical in a straight set dismantling of the defending champion.

1. Nick Kyrgios d. Rafael Nadal 7-6(5) 5-7 7-6(5) 6-3 Wimbledon R16

Finally! Number 1. (It took way too long to write this) Is there really any other option here? Kyrgios, 19, went out onto Center Court at the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, and took out Rafael Nadal in stunning fashion. Nadal certainly did play poorly. The match was taken out of his hands by the young Australian, who was bursting with confidence. Kyrgrios’ win was pretty much the definition of a breakout performance. Ranked outside the top 100 at the time of their meeting, Kyrgios looked like he belonged from the onset. Dozens of aces, massive winners, and even a jaw-dropping tweener set the tone as Kyrgios shocked the tennis world. (Actually, he actually shocked the ENTIRE world because of the Drake Drama!)

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Tennis Nerd Takeaways From The US Open

Photo Credit: Ricky Dimon

Photo Credit: Ricky Dimon

  • A night session on Arthur Ashe stadium is completely different that any other live tennis experience. In the early rounds, just about everybody in the stadium is having a full-boar conversation with the person next to them. The two players trading groundstrokes below serve as perfect background noise for two friends catching up on life. Even I, a tennis nerd, have fallen into the trap. I’ve watched many of these night session matches with Ben Rothenberg, and we hold a conversation for pretty much an entire match. While most of our talking points are tennis related, the atmosphere on Ashe lends itself to gossip, speculation, and banter. And let me clarify: I love everything about the atmosphere here. Sure, the tennis knowledge of some may be lacking, but they’re here for the show, the whole package, not just the tennis match. However, when a match becomes competitive, the fans become wildly invested. Example A: Roger Federer vs Gael Monfils.
  • Another thing I notice about the crowd here is how each different section of the stadium conducts themselves. We start at the bottom bowl, where, as media, I am lucky enough to sit. Obviously these seats are not cheap. In fact, unless you a)know somebody, b) sneak in(many try, few succeed) or c)pay the big bucks, you will not get down to the this level. It’s an interesting crowd. You have the two player boxes, the media section, and then a lot of well-dressed, well-spoken fans who are, most of the time, rather subdued. Next up is the box suites. This one is pretty self explanatory. Either you *really* know somebody, or you make a lot of money and can treat yourself to the perks of being in a suite. (Including but not limited to food, drinks, and alcohol) These people are generally less interested in the tennis being played; instead they socialize and catch up with friends. You also get the celebrities in the suites. (I must note that during Raonic/Nishikori’s 5 set, 2:26 a.m. match, there was only one box with people still in attendance, and they were very vocally supportive of Kei). I will group the promenade and upper deck into one fan base, and say that these are the the hardcore fans. They coordinate chants, yell out in support, wear shirts, and know all the players. You really start to figure out the differences in each fan group when a match starts to gain traction. If it’s starting to get good, the upper levels realize it first, slowly followed by the lower sections. Not sure why I find it intriguing, but I do.
  • Nick Kyrgios. There is not enough time or space for me to write sufficiently about the Australian rising star. Brian Phillips took many of my thoughts and put them into magically constructed words. Read here. The thing that stood out to me most was Nick walking out onto the biggest tennis stadium in the world, looking around, and totally owning the place. As a kid, I played a lot of hockey. Before a big tryout, my father would always tell me to “go out there and act like you’re better than them all.” I could rarely muster up that mindset. It’s all I could think of as Kyrgios destroyed the tennis ball, and his opponent Tommy Robredo, for the first set and a half under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium. His confidence was so pure, so innate. He *knew* he was “better than them all.” And he lost. In fact, he lost after being up 6-3 2-0 40-0. It spoke volumes about Robredo’s incredible resilience and fight. It also spoke volumes about how much Kyrgios still has to improve. His forehand is astounding. On many occasions, he didn’t even have his feet in the right position, and yet he was able to do mind-blowing things with the ball. I can’t even put into words how much potential the kid has. To sum it all up? At 2-5 in the fourth set, a fan yelled out, “you gotta get your swag back Nick!” On the next point, Kyrios hit a forehand winner and yelled “SWAG!” It was epic. It was hilarious. It was awesome. When I asked him about it after the match, Kyrgios simply said,”I just answered (the fan’s) question.”
  • Gael Monfils’ performance in New York made headlines; this time for mostly the right reasons. I’ve always been mystified, confused, and amazed with Monfils. Initially, I saw his talent and figured he should be in the top 5. After watching him for a few years I started to realize that he never really expected much out of himself, which often led to mediocre results, with the occasional(okay, on many occasions) hot shot mixed in. About halfway through 2013 I started to look at Monfils in a different light. His role in tennis is something we all have to realize and appreciate. Yes, he’s an entertainer. And if you can honestly say you’re not entertained watching him play…well then we can agree to disagree. But this US Open was wildly different in out viewing of Monfils. He was focused from the first ball. Through his first four matches, he was 12-0 in sets, and other than this incredible jumping forehand, his highlight reels weren’t on par with Gael the entertainer. He breezed through Richard Gasquet and Grigor Dimitrov. Those results were outstanding, and he looked as determined as ever. Even passing him in the halls–he was always in good spirits, yet looked unsatisfied with “just” reaching the quarterfinals. Of course you all know he went up two sets to one on Roger Federer, held two match points in the fourth set, before eventually falling to the Swiss man, 6-4 6-3 4-6 5-7 2-6. It was the best atmosphere I can remember on Ashe. I’m hesitant to say that Monfils will use this performance as a springboard for greater results. Part of me wants La Monf to just be himself, because he always makes me turn on the TV. But another part of me, a big part, wants *this* Monfils to stick around a while. Maybe win a slam? Just imagine what he would do for our sport.
  • My love for tennis comes from watching the ATP, and obviously all of my writing has covered men’s tennis. But there’s seriously something to be said about the WTA. This stemmed from another conversation I had with Rothenberg. I’ve watched a lot of women’s tennis over the last two years, and there are things that are truly incredible about the game. After getting off of work for the day, I sat down to watch Barbora Zahlavova Strycova face off against Eugenie Bouchard. Zahlavova Strycova is incredibly fun to watch. She talks to herself almost non-stop, and complains to her box on most given occasions.. She yells positively, and negatively, with both being hilarious and awesome. For me, the WTA has a few more “routine” scorelines(ie. 6-1 6-1), which can lend itself to less compelling entertainment. However, when a match is good, it’s great. The drama is unmatched, and you really never know what is going to happen next. Ivanovic/Sharapova in Montreal is the best example of this; I literally could not take my eyes off the screen. The WTA’s unpredictability is highly underrated and undervalued.
  • We now bring ourselves to the much maligned talking point: American Tennis. News broke this week that Patrick McEnroe, head of player development at the USTA, will be stepping down from his position after six years in charge. While American women have flourished(mainly in part to one Serena Williams) during his tenure, American men have struggled mightily. I don’t want to spend much time on the past though, because we’ve all heard that story a million times over. Let’s look at American men for the future. With Jared Donaldson, Stefan Kozlov, Francis Tiafoe, Michael Mmoh, Ernesto Escobedo and many others showing promise, things are going to turn around. It’s not a question of if, but when. Three-four years seems like the right target, with the majority of our talent-crop filling out their bodies and reaching their potential. American men’s tennis, simply put, is in the worst position they’ve been in for the last few decades. But they will rise back to the top, and it’s only a matter of time.
  • My thoughts on McEnroe’s tenure are up and down. I think Patrick was a great face and brand at the top of our developmental system. However, he held other large commitments such as being an ESPN analyst and commentator, which surely took time away from his more-than-full-time job at the USTA. That in itself is a huge conflict of interest. The idea to have one central training facility was good in theory, but they forced it on players and their families way too quickly. And if a player didn’t produce results in a short time frame, they were dismissed from the academy, and left on their own. With the USTA’s plan laid out to have another new training facility in Lake Nona, Florida, let’s hope that they can manage this one with greater transparency and value.
  • Kei Nishikori, at the time of this writing, is about two hours away from his first Grand Slam final. How he got there is surely the best story of this years US Open, at least on the men’s side. I sat with Michael Beattie as Nishikori took on Milos Raonic under the lights of Ashe. Though Nishikori looked as engaged and animated as we had ever seen, we doubted his chances of even finishing the match after going down two sets to one. He was once again being visited by the trainer for a right foot issue, and his movement looked 75% at best. But after the painkillers kicked in, Nishikori was a new man. He was back to his ball-striking best. Every groundstroke he hit seemed to land within a foot of the baseline, and before we knew it, Nishikori was serving for the match in the fifth set.
  • I have to pause that narrative for a second to talk about my most memorable moment in Flushing Meadows. As Nishikori and Raonic we’re playing through the night and into the morning, Beattie and I knew what was at stake history wise. Two other matches had finished at 2:26 A.M. at the US Open, and this one was on track to be remarkably close. As Nishikori broke in the fifth set, Beattie and I knew that this was going to be incredible close to the record. Before the final game, what was left of the crowd gave each player a standing ovation, which lasted about 30 seconds. The clock was now at 2:23. Nishikori raced out 30-0, two points from the match, and chances were looking slim. Raonic won the next point, and we gave a sigh of relief, because every second now counted. Nishikori went up 40-15, and just as the clock hit 2:25, he had trouble catching the balls from ball boy, which ended up delaying the match by about 30 seconds. The point started, and Beattie and I had our eyes locked on the clock, and the players, simultaneously. Nishikori came to the net, hit a great backhand volley cross-court, and it looked like the match was over. But Raonic somehow got to that ball. It was at his shoestrings, but he stuck his racket out and got it back over the net. As Nishikori hit the final volley winner to seal the victory, the clock ticked to 2:26, and the record had been tied, for a third time. I kid you not, as the wilson ball hit Nishikori’s strings, the clock turned, and Beattie and I went pretty nuts. It was almost a sense of pride, of fulfillment, for staying at the match the entire way. I don’t know why, but it was rewarding.
  • Back to Nishikori’s run. The Japan born right-hander’s main issue over the years has been staying healthy over a long stretch of matches. If you had told me, a Nishikori believer, that he would defeat Raonic, Wawrinka, and Djokovic, with none of those being straight sets, I would have probably laughed at you. What Kei has done is truly amazing, and speaks volumes for his work ethic and discipline. Oh, watching Michael Chang in the box during Nishikori’s matches is almost as fun as watching the match itself. Seeing somebody so invested in their player is refreshing.
  • Autographs. I don’t even know where to begin. You should start with the Wall Street Journal piece here. If you’re over the age of 14, and are asking for somebody’s autograph, are you in the right state of mind? If you are under the age of 14, and have never heard of the player you’re getting an autograph from, what value does it hold? Now, if you get a picture with a player, that is really cool. You can always remember that moment. But I’m not sure if that holds true for simply a players signature. I spent extensive time thinking  about the validity of autographs during my time in New York. I was eating breakfast one morning on the porch outside the media and player entrance to Ashe. Just outside the security guards was a young boy, maybe 10, with one of those big tennis balls made for autographs. He had the best strategy of anybody I had ever seen at attaining a signature from the players. In only 15 minutes, he must have gotten 15 signatures. I was enthralled in what I was watching, but soon started think about what those autographs actually mean. I don’t understand how a players scribbling can have any impact on a person. I’m pretty sure I’m the one who is completely lost here, because most people disagree with me. Please, in the comments below, convince me why an autograph can be so valuable. I want to be persuaded.
  • I’ve been rambling on for a while now, haven’t I. I’ll finish these notes, which I’ve worked on in-and-out for the last two weeks, with my thoughts on working vs watching a tennis tournament. I worked for the first 9 days of the tournament, and it’s an experience that I obviously enjoyed. But it’s also something that to some may seem routine, par for the course. I just watch tennis, log matches, tell the producers when something crazy happens, and create highlight clips at the end of matches. It sounds resoundingly easy, and in a sense, it was. But it’s not the kind of easy you’re thinking of. It’s hard work. It’s 12 hour days in an office. It’s 10 cups of coffee per day. But if you truly have a passion for tennis, an unbounding passion, it will not seem like such hard “work”. It will instead seem like hard “play”. I didn’t get much more than 6 hours of sleep per night, but that was by choice. Even if I had completed all my assigned matches for the day(which was usually around 8 p.m., sometimes later), I would get out to Ashe or any court that still had matches going. Most of my colleagues at ESPN, and I surely cannot blame them, went home, got some sleep, and prepared for the next day. But I truly am a tennis nerd, and the best part of being on the grounds was heading to the media room at 1 a.m. to be the only guy requesting Tommy Robredo questions in English. To sit back and chat with the few people that were still there about that amazing day that had just taken place, and how surely tomorrow would be better. If there was ever any doubt I wanted to go into tennis media(writing, tv, communications, who knows), it’s gone now. I loved every second of my time working at the US Open, and I sure as hell hope to be back next year.

Day 6 In a Nutshell

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Hey guys, sorry I wasn’t able to get my preview and picks up, something came up last night and I was unable to get to a computer. With that said, Day 6 was a very busy day, with 12 third round matches being played. The quality of tennis really rises at this point of the tournament, so it was a joy to watch. Let’s take a look at some of the best matches from Saturday.

Ferrer Comes Back In Style- Before the match even started, many knew that this match would be a good one. Alexandr Dolgopolov is a lot of fun to watch, with his vary spins and paces. He’ll hit one extreme slice backhand, and then the next ball he’ll step up and crush it flat. On grass, that extreme slice stays extra low, and his flat shots get through the court a little quicker. The first two sets went to tiebreakers, where the players each took one. Ferrer served for the first two sets, but got abnormally tight and was broken each time. Dolgopolov raced through the third set winning in 6-2, as Ferrer’s ankle appeared slightly hampered. Ferrer came right back however, taking the 4th set 6-1. After being down 1-2 in the 5th, Ferrer rallied to win 5 straight games and take the epic match.

Djokovic Clinical- Jeremy Chardy was the first seed Djokovic has faced thus far, and he made him look like a chump. Through two sets, he had lost less than a handful of points on serve. He took the mtach 6-3 6-2 6-2, and made an incredible 3 unforced errors. The stats at Wimbledon are a little more generous than other tournaments, but that stat is still unreal. He will have his first real test in the round of 16 when he faces Tommy Haas.

Bernie Gets a Big Win- I’ve been very critical of Bernard Tomic in the past, but I was actually impressed by his performance today. Richard Gasquet is a very capable player on grass, but Tomic took out the #9 seed in 4 tight sets. The final scoreline was 7-6(9) 5-7 7-5 7-6(7), but Gasquet actaully won 13 more points than Tomic. That just shows how much better Bernie played he big points. He will play Tomas Berdych next, who got through a tough 4 setter against Kevin Anderson.

Seppi Flying Under the Radar- As I’ve watched the ESPN coverage all week, I’m not sure if they talked about Andreas Seppi once. He came back from down 2 sets to 1 today, in an impressive effort over the young Kei Nishikori. Final Scoreline was 3-6 6-3 6-7(4) 6-1 6-4. He gets Juan Martin Del Potro in the 4th round.

My Picks… since I wasn’t able to make picks for Saturday’s matches, I guess I was 0 for 8.

Day 2 Recap

Nole

 

Wimbledon Day 2 had it’s fair share of story lines. Although there were no huge upsets like day 1, there were way more 5 set matches. The World Number 1 was in action, and the American Men had a very up and down day.

Djokovic Sharp In Opener- I predicted that Florian Mayer would play 2 tight sets against Novak Djokovic, and that was a pretty good pick. He was close for about a set and a half, as Novak won in straight sets 6-3 7-5 6-4. Mayer played well, mixing it up between topspin, flat, and slice shots. Djokovic was way too good though, and he never dropped serve. His next two rounds will probably be easier than this match.

The Americans: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly- There were 9 American men in action Tuesday, and many of them struggled. We’ll start with the good. Denis Kudla continued his torrent run with a 5 set win over another qualifier James Duckworth, 6-1 in the fifth. Kudla will play Ivan Dodig next, and that’s a really good opportunity for the young Virginian to make the third round of a grand slam for the first time in his career. Another positive came on the other end of the spectrum, as 32 year old James Blake won his first match Wimbledon in 3 years. He beat Thiemo De Bakker in straight sets.

Now the bad. Ryan Harrison had a great opportunity against the 28 seed Jeremy Chardonnay Chardy, who has never had good results on grass. The first set went on serve until Harrison had a break point to serve for the set, but he missed an easy forehand. Chardy took the tiebreak, but Harrison rebounded to take the second set. He was the better player, but he didn’t take the numerous chances he had and eventually lost in 4 sets. Harrison falls to an atrocious 6-13 on the year. In an all-American match, Steve Johnson led by a break in the fifth set, but fell to the journeyman Bobby Reynolds.

The ugly. Sam Querrey had a tough first round opponent, Bernard Tomic. However, Tomic was not playing well, and quite frankly, it didn’t look like he cared. Querrey squandered 7 sets points in the first set, and went down 2 sets to none. After easily taking the next two, Querrey choked and lost fifth. Both players showed nearly no emotion, and Bernie seemed more fired up in his post match interview when he was defending his dad.

Young Guns Move On- Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, and Kei Nishikori all advanced to the second round with straight set wins. Each of these players are in David Ferrer’s Quarter of the draw, so look for at least one of them to make a run.

My Picks- Not quite as good today, as I went 22 for 32. Looking back, I have no idea why I picked Michael Russel to win.

French Open Preview – Day 11

Rafa

 

 

The first day of quarterfinals was fairly straight forward with one upset. Expect little drama on the second day of quarterfinals.

Rafael Nadal vs. Stanislas Wawrinka: I did not expect Wawrinka to be the last Swiss man remaining in the draw. But with Federer out, that is exactly the case. Wawinka played one of the matches of the year in the previous round against Gasquet where be battled injuries to come back from 2 sets down and win 8 – 6 in the fifth set. That match clearly had an affect on him physically. Honestly, I don’t know how he managed to pull that one out myself.  It will be an even tougher ask for him to challenge Nadal tomorrow. Nadal looked a lot stronger against Nishikori in the last round. It will be very tough for Stan to penetrate the Nadal defenses. Rafa will be all over Stan’s backhand tomorrow and he will advance to the semis in 4.

Novak Djokovic vs. Tommy Haas: The rematch is on! The ageless wonder Tommy Haas faces off against world number one Novak Djokovic. If there is potential for an upset tomorrow, this is the match to watch. Haas already beat Nole in Miami this year so he will be full of confidence going in. That being said, beating Djokovic in 3 out of 5 sets is much different than defeating him in 2/3 sets. This will be a very entertaining match, with both players showing off their variety and great movement around the court. I like Djokovic in a very close 4 sets, en route to his showdown with Nadal in the semis.

Enjoy the tennis!

French Open Preview – Day 9

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Here is a look at the remaining fourth round matches on day 9 of the French!

Novak Djokovic vs. Phillip Kohlschreiber: Hard to pick against Novak after what he did to Dimitrov on Saturday. That was the best I have seen him play since he beat Nadal in Monte Carlo. If he plays anywhere near that level again, he will have no problems with the crafty German Kohlschreiber. Kohlschreiber has been playing well recently, but has not faced any real competition until now. I don’t see him beating Djokovic, let alone even troubling him. I think Kohlschreiber will play one solid set but Nole will win in straights anyways.

Rafael Nadal vs. Kei Nishikori: This is a very interesting match up between the speedy Japanese superstar and the dominant Spainaird. Nishikori is a better version of Fognini, whom Nadal did have issues with in the previous round. Nishikori looked very strong against Frenchman Beniot Paire. If Nadal starts slow again, Nishikori will make him pay for it. I think that will happen, but as the match goes on, Nadal will gain more confidence. I don’t believe that Nishikori has the belief to beat Nadal here at Roland Garros. Nishikori will start strong, but Nadal will pull it out in 5 tough sets.

Tommy Haas vs. Mikhail Youzhny: Big opportunity for both players aged over 30 years old. Haas is the oldest player in the draw at 35. That match against Isner was physically taxing though and I think it will catch up to him here. Youzhny has gotten a very solid draw having 2 unknowns in his first 2 matches and a worn down Tipsarevic in the third round whom he beat in straights. Haas will certainly not be fresh for this match. But then again, if Tommy Robredo can do it, why can’t Haas? Probably because Haas is 35 years old. As much as I love the heart and soul from this man, I think he runs out of gas and Youzhny ousts him in 4 sets.

Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Richard Gasquet:I call this, “The Beautiful Match.” These 2 men probably have the 2 best one handed backhands in the game and they will be on full display tomorrow. Both have looked very solid throughout so this has the makings to be an epic fourth round encounter. Gasquet will certainly have the crowd on his side although Stan has dealt with that before when he beat Tsonga in Paris in 2011. When I looked at the draw, I knew this would be the best of the fourth round matches. This match is honestly a toss up. If Wawrinka’s forehand is on, he will be tough to beat. He was also very impressive in his win over Jerzy Janowicz on Saturday but there some spots of mental breakdown that he cannot afford to have against Gasquet. The longer the match goes though, the better chance Stan will have because his fitness is much stronger than Gasquet’s. Ultimately, I see the Frenchy crowd being the difference and Gasquet will win in one of the best shot making matches of the tournament in 5 awesome sets.

And just a quick shout out to Joey because I know he will love this. Stefan Kozlov won his first round in the juniors so that’s a plus for American tennis for once. Noah Rubin won as well.

Enjoy the great day of tennis everyone!