Epic Doubles Win for Canada in Davis Cup
By Mike McIntyre
Doubles took centre stage in the tennis world on Saturday for a pivotal Davis Cup match between Canada and Italy at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre in Vancouver. Tied at one victory apiece heading into the match, the result would give a big boost to the team that emerged with the win today.
It could be argued that Team Canada captain Martin Laurendeau was taking a risk by putting Pospisil back out there after his five set singles loss to Andreas Seppi yesterday. Aside from failing to close it out after leading two sets to none, Pospisil's partnership with Nestor has also been fragile in recent matches. The two have not enjoyed much success in Davis Cup play and have lost their last three matches in a row to France, South Africa and Spain.
Laurendeau explained at the end of the day Friday that he was going to stick with the guy he described as Team Canada's "workhorse" from a key Davis Cup tie against Israel in 2011 that put Canada back into the world group. That Loyalty for Pospisil seemed to be a risky move and one that Laurendeau would certainly be second guessed for should he and Nestor be unable to secure the victory against Italy.
As for Nestor, Laurendeau was quite frank in his press conference on Friday when he was asked if the 40 year old veteran really needed to come through for Canada.
"He sure does. Daniel is a champion, he's won a lot of things. He's won pretty much everything out there and the one thing he's lacking is a semi-final appearance in Davis Cup. He's waited a long time for this opportunity as a champion. He pretty much lost one doubles match or so in the last fifteen years and now he's lost the last three so he's looking forward to the opportunity to turn that around and contribute a point for the team. He's a great team player, he shows up at Davis cup and he's there for the team every time. It's not a good feeling when you only have one match and you don't contribute. He wants to avenge that for sure. I'm expecting a good level of play tomorrow."
Driving to the arena this morning with Italian Davis Cup legend Nicola Pietrangeli (166 Davis Cup matches, 120-44 record) I was asked by the former two time Grand Slam champion why Canada would not play Milos Raonic instead of Pospisil in the doubles. An Italian journalist who was with us mused that it was due to a personality clash between Raonic and Nestor although I've never witnessed anything to support that statement. In the end despite their recent struggles, the Nestor/Pospisil combination was still the best that Canada had to offer.
As was the case yesterday in singles, Canada jumped out to an early lead by taking the first set. With Bracciali serving at 2-3, 30-40, a hard forehand from Nestor forced a backhand error on the volley from Fognini to give the first break to the Canadians. They would hold on to win the opener 6-3.
The second set followed a similar path with Nestor and Pospisil getting a break of Fognini's serve to go ahead 3-2. The Canadians would then continue to hold their own serves to capture the set 6-4.
Being up two sets to none was a familiar position for Team Canada and especially for Pospisil who squandered the same lead a day ago in his singles match.
Unable to maintain an early break in the third set, Nestor and Pospisil allowed the Italians to break right back. Serving at 3-4, 40-A, Pospisil would have his serve broken as a Fognini service return handcuffed the young Canuck prompting the unfortunate error. Fognini and Bracciali would take the third set 6-3 and suddenly the Italians had some life.
Pospisil and Nestor continued to struggle in the fourth with double faults and errors seeming to mount. Was Nestor at age 40 starting to tire? Apparently he had tweaked his right calf in the recent Masters event in Miami. Or was the problem once again Pospisil's focus as he himself admitted to in his match against Seppi yesterday? Either way the match was quickly spiralling out of control for Team Canada as Italy took the fourth set 6-3.
In the fifth both teams were feeling the pressure but it was the Canadians who almost buckled first. With Nestor serving at 2-3, he and Pospisil would face two break points at 15-40. They held their ground however and managed to get the crucial hold to tie things up at 3-3.
In the end it was strong serving from Pospisil that allowed Canada to stay in the hunt. He held at love three times in a row to tie the set at 4-4, 6-6 and 8-8. Knowing that a loss of his serve would mean losing the match, Pospisil seemed like the poised veteran and continually gained some key points for Canada throughout the fifth set.
Canada had two looks at a break while Fognini was serving at 9-9, 15-40, but the Italians refused to capitulate and found a way to hold on.
Later while serving at 11-11, Fognini was called for a footfault on his first serve with the score 15-30. While the Italians won the next point, chair umpire Jake Garner had words with the line judge who made the call and then gave the Italian duo a warning for unsportsmanlike comments that it appeared Bracciali had made after the foot fault call.
Madness ensued at 12-12 when a timely challenge by Canada led to a video replay reversing an "out" call that would have given the game to the Italians. Fognini and Bracciali had to return from their team bench and play instead at deuce. The game went on for at least another ten minutes with each team having multiple chances to win it. Canada couldn't close out their two break points and so eventually Italy did hold serve. The Canadians certainly seemed to be closing in though.
Two games later on Fognini's serve the Italians quickly found themselves down 0-40 thanks to some great plays by Nestor who had been re-vitalized since halfway through the fifth set. With three break points the Canadians were not going to let-up and they finally earned the elusive break to move ahead 14-13 and send the home crowd into a frenzy.
With Pospisil continuing to serve so consistently the pair closed it out in 4 hours and 32 minutes by a final score of 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, 15-13 to move within one win of advancing to their first ever Davis Cup semi-final.
It was redemption for Pospisil after the way his singles match turned out a day ago and also for he and Nestor as a doubles partnership who were so desperate to get back in the win column. The victory also served as validation for captain Laurendeau's decision to keep the struggling pair together.
Milos Raonic will now try to seal the deal on Sunday in a reverse singles match against Andreas Seppi. Will they be able to top today in terms of drama? As we've seen so far this weekend, anything can happen.
Raonic Opens Up During Davis Cup Press Conference
Following his Davis Cup victory on Friday over Fabio Fognini, Canada's Milos Raonic was able to show off his lighter side while also giving some revealing answers about his current approach to the game of tennis and his country's rise in prominence on the world stage. His facination with Canadians sports writer Tom Tebbutt gave reporters a few laughs throughout the exchange. Here's the transcript below
Q: After Vasek’s performance and obviously your win in straight sets do you feel that Canada has the momentum going into day two?
A: I don’t think. The best way to answer that is I don’t think it matters. It’s another match tomorrow and you just have to step up and win that match. Up two zero, down two zero, it doesn’t matter. It’s a match, you’ve got to go out there and win it.
Q: Even though you won’t be playing tomorrow do you consider that doubles match a pretty pivotal part of this series? Even though the doubles team hasn’t played well the last few Davis Cups, what are you expecting out of them tomorrow?
A: I don’t think it’s fair to say they didn’t play well last time. I think they did. I just think that team that they faced is a world class team – I think their number two in the world right now for a reason. I don’t think they played well against South Africa, but I think they are very capable and in these situations that that team of Danny and Vasek is very, very capable. Whatever happens tomorrow win or lose, it’s no effect on me. I know what I gotta do to bring out the best level for myself. And I know I can play better than I played today and I think that’s a good sign for me.
Q: It seemed like a very professional performance today, you controlled your emotions and executed well. How would you assess it?
A: First of all Tom Tebbutt I’d like to thank you for asking questions. I think that’s four press conferences without a question until today, so thank you, I’m honoured.
Q: Answer the goddamn question!
A: Well Tom Tebbutt – what was the question? I was actually shocked.
Q: I thought it was a very mature performance and you controlled your emotions very well.
A: Yes I did.
Q: How would you assess your performance?
A: It was good. I kept within myself. I felt I was able to control most of the time and I felt that I was putting in my terms and we were playing under “Milos can decide which way this goes.” I did slip up a little bit but I think I turned that around and I was proud of how I managed that.
Q: Is there any concern at all being sick a week ago with it having an effect?
A: Two questions. Spoiling you eh? Spoiling me. No, to tell you the truth I didn’t honestly feel the best today. I just had a scratchy throat last night. I know how to play in these situations and I know what I gotta do to bring out the best of myself. I’ve developed a routine, some are superstitious parts of the routine some are for what I gotta do to be 100% from the first point to the last point.
Q: There’s a new member of the team, are we going to see a dance at some point?
A: Oh they don’t invite you to the Davis Cup dinner. He had to sing the national anthem against Spain. It was a tough one but he was lucky obviously that it was in Canada and everybody else knew the anthem and could sing along. He did it like a champ. But if you want to dance you are more than welcome to step on court. You can take Tom Tebbutt with you! I heard that he has the 60s moves down.
Q: Your opponent was asked what was it that made the difference in the game and he answered that obviously it was your serve. Does that sometimes start to get on your nerves that there is so much concentration on your serve, neglecting other parts of your game?
A: No. I think that’s a good thing. My serve is something I’ve spent a lot of time on and I’m proud of the respect it gets and I think I’m getting better in other aspects of the game. I think I stepped up and I was able to break his serve at a critical moment. If my serve gets attention it means I’m putting a lot of pressure not only with my service games but also on his service games - him knowing that if I get a set I can close it out. So we can keep talking about my serve but I know the work I’m gonna put in on it and everything else.
Q: Milos is seemed after the match in your interview and even now in the press conference that you’re pretty loose and pretty playful. I don’t know if that’s because of Tom Tebbutt or is it more an indicator of just how far Canada’s come as a team over the past year and a half and where your confidence levels are as a group because of your successes?
A: I think it’s a group thing. It’s a great thing. And I think also I’ve learned within myself that I’m going to play my best tennis when I’m happy. Sometimes I feel like I stress like I need to practice, like I need to get this many hours in, but at the end of the day if things when things aren’t going well on court I’ve got to scrap, I’ve got to fight and I’ll do that best when I’m happy. Honestly I’m happy with everything on the court, off the court I feel at peace and I think that allows me to play my best tennis. I think Tom Tebbutt, hey I’m gonna give you a good one, one that you’re gonna smile about – Tom Tebbutt had that happiness when he lost at O and O (?) in San Jose.
First of all walking in shorts to a press conference in the freezing rain is not a good idea. Sarah Grossman.
(Sarah) I told you it was raining before going out.
You told me after I had already left the locker room.
Q: I don’t know where to go from here!
A: Let’s go home!
Q: One more. Growing up, and maybe Tom can speak about this too, not many successes like this for Team Canada obviously on the international scene. What does it mean for you to bring Davis Cup back to something meaningful here in Canada for kids growing up and for tennis enthusiasts at large?
A: I think success is the best way to promote the sport. I think if I do personally well week out and week in through the tour it’s a great thing and it will help to get more kids wanting to play tennis. But I think if you can show that we have a group of four, five or six that can win at the international stage then it makes it a bit more convincing, not only to the kids but to the families, to the parents you’ll say as a Canadian that you can really succeed in tennis, let’s give this a shout. It’s the same kind of belief that we have with hockey and many winter sports. I think that we’ve got to get that belief in tennis.
Seppi Defeats Pospisil in Gruelling Five Set Davis Cup Opener in Vancouver
By Mike McIntyre
While Milos Raonic rightly captures much of Canadian media and fan attention, other players on Team Canada are proving to be able to carry their own as well when it comes to Davis Cup competition.
In February it was Frank Dancevic who came up with an unexpected win to help propel Canada into their first ever World Group quarter-final. Today in Vancouver it was Vasek Pospisil who was aiming to fill the role of the underdog who could deliver when counted on.
Taking on the 18th ranked player in the world, Andreas Seppi, was no easy task for Pospisil who is currently only ranked 140th on the ATP World Tour. The two had split their earlier career encounters with Seppi winning 7-5, 7-6 back in the fall of 2011 in St. Petersburg and Pospisil evening the score with a victory last summer in Toronto at the Rogers Cup where he prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.
Prior to the match the teams were introduced on court followed by the playing of both the Italian and Canadian national anthems. I found it interesting to note that Pospisil was the only player on Team Canada who was not singing along. Intensely focused or consumed with pre-match jitters...only time would tell.
Initially it appeared that the magnitude of the moment might have gotten the better of the 22 year old Canadian, as he quickly found himself down a break at 0-2. Pospisil managed to recover however and ran off three games in a row to get the match back on serve.
Things progressed rather evenly from there until Seppi was serving at 5-6. Pospisil came running out of his chair after the tv break, pumping himself up as if he were Rafael Nadal. The fans at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre sensed Seppi was feeling the pressure and did as best they could to add to his self-doubt with thunderous chanting and applause after each and every point. Seppi was up 40-15 at this important juncture of the game but double-faulted and then a cross-court forehand into the net to quickly even things up at deuce. The Italian then sent a shot long to hand Pospisil the only set point he would need to gain the upper hand. What followed was the longest rally of the match that concluded when Pospisil made one of only a few forays into the net to close out the first set 7-5.
The pair stayed on serve again until the late stages of the second set with Pospisil showing no signs of letting his higher-ranked and more experienced opponent into the match. Seppi didn't seem to have the ability to hurt Pospisil with his game despite the Italian being in the midst of a career twelve month period that has seen him reach his all-time high ranking. Late in the set with Seppi serving at 4-5 nerves once again got the better of him as he found himself quickly down 15-40 in the game. Pospisil wouldn't let him get his footing back and the Canadian hung on to take the second set 6-4.
While Canada could afford to lose the opening match and still have decent odds of emerging victorious in this quarter-final tie, the Italians would have some serious trouble maintaining their hopes if they were to have their number one singles player lose to Pospisil. You have to figure that Raonic is going to be nearly impossible to beat on a hard court against the Italians.
Seppi must have realized this too and picked it up a notch in the third set. He wasted little time in breaking Pospisil to go ahead 2-1 and did not let go from there. Pospisil let his foot off the gas peddle just enough to let his opponent get back into the match. Serving later at 5-4, Seppi momentarily looked as if he might let nerves get the better of him once again, but he was able to maintain his composure and hang out to take the set 6-4.
Pospisil's confidence quickly seemed to be disappearing as Seppi broke right away to start the fourth set. Suddenly there was quite the different vibe in the building as it became clear the Italian was starting to find his groove. He took the fourth set 6-3 to even the match.
Two hours and forty two minutes to get to a fifth and decisive set between Seppi and Pospisil. It was only the second match that the Canadian has ever played that has gone five sets with his last one being during his Davis Cup heroics against Israel in late 2011.
A repeat was not to be in order on this day unfortunately for the Canadian as Seppi broke early yet again in the set to go ahead 3-1. He would not let Pospisil get any looks on his service games the rest of the way and would finish with a 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory.
While Pospisil gave a valiant effort, perhaps better than most expected, he was not able to close the match out when he had the chance up two sets to none. It will now be up to Raonic to even things up this evening in his singles match against Fabio Fognini.
Canada vs Italy Davis Cup Preview
By Mike McIntyre
Canada finds itself in unfamiliar territory as they play in their first ever Davis Cup quarter-final on Friday against Italy. Even more surprising is perhaps the fact that they will be considered by many to be the favourite in this match-up.
Led by rising star and current world number 16 Milos Raonic, the Canadian team will be hoping to use their home crowd and home surface to advance to the semi-finals in September.
The Thunderbird Arena on the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver might have a tennis court instead of an ice surface on the floor but it will definitely feel more like a hockey game thanks to the increased level of support a home crowd is expected to provide during Davis Cup play. Warning: this is not your typical tennis environment.
The hard court surface has been chosen yet again and this should come as no surprise given the extra pop it will give Raonic on his ATP World Tour leading serve. While I do not have any statistical evidence to support the ferociousness of his serve, ask anyone on the tour right now whose serve they would most like to avoid and I guaranteed Milos gets the bulk of the votes.
The hard court being used will also put Team Italy at their most vulnerable given that most of their players prefer to play on the red clay that is more commonly associated with tennis back in Europe. The Italians used such clay to defeat the Croatians in their opening round victory back in February.
The team rosters and schedule of play was just released today and revealed one change from each team from what was previously expected. For the Canadians it will be Vasek Pospisil and not Frank Dancevic who will join Raonic as our second singles player. Dancevic was a late scratch due to pain he was experiencing in his left knee. Pospisil is currently ranked 140th in the world and while it was Dancevic who gave the Canucks the extra win they needed to dispatch Spain two months ago, the younger Pospisil is also quite capable of coming through in Davis Cup play. It was his heroics in Israel late in 2011 that allowed Canada to jump back into the world group of the Davis Cup.
For Italy, doubles specialist Simone Bolelli has been forced to bow out due to a wrist injury he sustained recently. Instead of playing doubles with his regular partner Fabio Fognini, the Italians have opted to go with the duo of Paolo Lorenzi and Daniele Bracciali. They will face-off against Canadian legend Daniel Nestor and Pospisil.
Pospisil will in fact kick-off the tie against Italy on Friday against world number 18 Andreas Seppi. The two have played each other before with Pospisil scoring the upset last summer in Toronto at the Rogers Cup and Seppi winning their first encounter in 2011 in St. Petersburg by a close scoreline of 7-5, 7-6. Despite the large gap in their rankings, expect Pospisil to give Seppi a good challenge with either player capable of scoring the initial victory.
Raonic will play second against the flamboyant but often enigmatic Fabio Fognini. More known for his clay court prowess, this match on paper should be a routine win for Canada's top gun. Raonic says he is 100% ready to go after having to withdraw from the Masters 1000 event in Miami two week's ago due to strep throat. The 25 year old Fognini is currently ranked 31st in the world rankings but will have to play the match of his life in order to score the upset in this one. I remember Fognini arriving to play the Rogers Cup a couple of summers ago and he only had his clay court shoes with him. While I don't think he'll make that mistake this time around, I wouldn't expect it would make much of a difference against Raonic anyway.
With Raonic the overwhelming favourite in both of his singles matches and Pospisil in theory the underdog, the result in Vancouver may likely be determined by the doubles match on the second day of competition. For all of his past doubles glory, including victories at the Olympics and all four of the Grand Slams, Daniel Nestor needs to step up and overcome some recent Davis Cup struggles to get the win on Saturday. Nestor has looked ordinary of late and has never really established a huge rapport with Pospisil as his partner.
I'm still going to go with Canada in this one due to their home crowd, choice of surface and the fact that they seem to have such an emerging team camaraderie as they begin to truly believe that they belong amongst some of the top tennis countries in the world right now.
Check back with us here at Pro Tennis Fan for updates throughout the event and feel free to follow us on Twitter as well for timely observations on each day of competition.
Davis Cup Quater-final Preview
The Davis Cup quarterfinals take place in early April with eight teams ready to do battle for the right to progress to the World Group semis.
With first seeds Spain already eliminated the field is wide open and tennis fans in the betting world will be eagerly anticipating this opportunity to back winning teams during the 5-7 April weekend.
Here’s the top tennis betting tips for the four quarter-final clashes:
Canada vs Italy: Vancouver
Having knocked-off last year’s finalists Spain 3-2 on home soil in February, Team Canada carries both form and confidence into this quarter-final clash. Milos Raonic has had a solid start to 2013 and alongside Frank Dancevic the pair have enough in them to earn a victory in the singles rubbers.
However, Italy are also buoyant after beating Croatia this winter and their doubles partnership of Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini will likely earn them a point at least.
Result: 3-2 Canada
USA v Serbia: Boise, Idaho
Novak Djokovic will look to use this Davis Cup tie to put to bed a nightmare March that saw him crash out of Indian Wells and Miami before their respective finals. The world number one can carry this team and earn two points but with the Bryan brothers set to win the doubles the Americans are dangerous themselves.
Both Sam Querrey and John Isner have something to prove after indifferent starts to the 2013 season and up against Viktor Troicki in the singles can win this clash by the narrowest of margins.
Result: 3-2 USA
Argentina v France: Buenos Aires
The Parque Roca has grown into a fortress for Argentina over recent years and tennis betting fans should not be surprised by a home win in Buenos Aires. Juan Monaco and Carlos Berlocq masterminded Argentina’s 5-0 victory over Germany on clay and could do the same against the French.
The French will not be a pushover and should put up a good fight – with the talented Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and a resurgent Richard Gasquet – but with Monaco and Berlocq comfortable in front of a vocal home crowd they will be favoured to earn the victory. Doubles pair David Nalbandian and Horacio Zeballos are two of the best in the business, and their results could mean victory for Argentina .
Result: 3-2 Argentina
Kazakhstan v Czech Republic: Astana
Eighth seeds Kazakhstan were worthy winners in their first-round clash with Austria last February but their Davis Cup run will stop there at the hands of last year’s champions, the Czech Republic.
The Czechs started the defence of their title with a 3-2 victory over Switzerland and despite the travelling involved in getting to Kazakhstan should breeze past Andrey Golubev and Evgeny Korolev on the indoor clay.
Result: 4-1 Czech Republic
2013 Men's Australian Open Preview
By Mike McIntyre
The Australian Open begins tomorrow from Melbourne, Australia and tennis fans from all over the world will be eagerly waiting to see how their favorite players perform in the first Grand Slam of 2013.
While the overwhelming number one pick among experts and fans alike seems to be Novak Djokovic to capture his third slam in a row Down Under, we know that nothing is certain and that five set matches in the Aussie heat can produce some big surprises (see Johansson 2002 for example).
Here are the main questions I have as we embark on two fantastic weeks of tennis.
- How will Roger Federer perform in his first match action of 2013? I'd be a little concerned if I were in his camp since he is the only top player to have yet to play this year.
- Will Bernard Tomic be able to continue his solid start to the year and back-up the confidence he is displaying at the moment? He is already publicly talking about a third round encounter vs Federer.
- How will Canada's Milos Raonic play? His start in Brisbane and Kooyong have yielded four straight losses.
- Will Lleyton Hewitt be able to use home court advantage to defeat Janko Tipsarevic in the opening round and find his groove in a very promising section of the draw?
- Who will be (if anyone) the darkhorse of this tournament. There are plenty of exciting options such as Gael Monfils, Jerzy Janowicz, Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic.
Let's take a look at the men's draw quarter by quarter to examine who has the best chance of advancing and what matches should be watched at all costs.
Top seeded Novak Djokovic couldn't have asked for a much friendlier section of the draw to help with his title defence. While veteran Paul-Henri Mathieu is capable of playing some decent ball and a second round match with Ryan Harrison will get all the Americans buzzing, there is nobody before perhaps Tomas Berdych in the quarters who has the capability of defeating Djokovic on a day where he is healthy. Radek Stepanek is his projected third round opponent, with Sam Querrey in the fourth round. While these are all solid players, I would be absolutely shocked if they could take Djokovic down in a best of five set match.
Berdych gets veteran Michael Russell in his opener followed potentially by Guillaume Rufin, Fabio Fognini and Fernando Verdasco or Juan Monaco in the fourth round. In other words, look for him to advance to the quarters where he would face Djokovic for a spot in the semis.
David Ferrer, the fourth seed, finds himself in the top half of the draw with Djokovic. Ferrer could go from diminuitive Oliver Rochus in the first round to giant Ivo Karlovic in the second. Talk about a contrast! Beyond that he will have quality opponents such as Marcos Baghdatis in the third and Mikhail Youzhny in the fourth if he hopes to continue his quarter-finals or better streak at the majors which currently stands at four consecutive Slams. Not quite Roger Federer levels, but he sure did produce a consistent season in 2012. Ferrer is favored to make it to the final eight, but either Baghdatis (3-1 head-to-head for Ferrer) or more likely Youzhny (3-4 h2h) could bring an end to that without anyone being shocked.
Ferrer's quarter is going to give someone the opportunity to impress that we might not normally expect to see go deep in a Slam, or someone who has not gone deep in a while. Janko Tipsarevic is the 8th seed but faces national hero Lleyton Hewitt in the first round. Hewitt won the Kooyong Classic exhibition event this past week with victories over Milos Raonic, Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro in the finals. He's clearly in great shape and healthy which is always a concern for the 31 year old former world number one. This could be Hewitt's last chance to make a good run in Australia. Either he or Tipsarevic could see Gilles Muller in round two, Grigor Dmitrov or Julien Benneteau in round three and perhaps Nicolas Almagro or Jerzy Janowicz in round four before facing-off against Ferrer. Whoever manages to emerge from this terrific first round tilt should definitely be able to build on it moving forward in the draw.
I'm already looking forward to a potential fourth round match between Juan Martin Del Potro and Marin Cilic. Both of these guys should get through their initial three matches to set-up a this battle. Despite the fact that Del Potro has won their past four matches and leads head-to-head 7-2, I feel like Cilic is due for a breakout performance and that he is a player who has often played well early in the year. He also made the semi-finals here just three years ago, so we know he can perform in Australia.
A healthy Gael Monfils could spell trouble in this section if he can get by (and I think he will) the eighteenth seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round. An Andy Murray vs. Monfils fourth round match would not be one to miss either.
Murray should be enjoying the fact that the press has already annointed Djokovic as the eventual champion. After a tough loss to Federer at Wimbledon last summer, Murray finally grabbed a big one with his Olympic triumph and then followed that up with an even bigger result by nabbing his first Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows. The difference in Murray's play could be huge in 2013 as he no longer must dodge the constant stream of questions relating to his lack of Slam success. Free to simply let his play do the talking, Murray might be the one we should all be watching at the moment.
Roger Federer is getting some buzz for a potential early upset but doesn't that seem to be often the case with the game's all-time most consistent player? It is only natural for people to wonder how much longer he can keep-up his incredible streak of making the quarter-finals or better at the Slams which currently sits at an astounding 34 straight. While Benoit Paire lost to Federer in their only career meeting last fall in Basel, the young Frenchman has risen nicely in the rankings over the past couple of years and had decent results last year against some top players. While I'm not expecting an upset here, Federer does have tough players moving forward including an in-form Nikolay Davydenko in round two, upstart Bernard Tomic in round three and then perhaps the tricky Philipp Kohlschreiber or the booming Milos Raonic in the fourth round. My only issue with Federer coming into this tournament has been his decision not to play any warm-up events. All of the guys he will be facing are already well match tested in 2013.
Other players to look-out for in this section are Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet. Those two should play each other in another entertaining fourth round possibility. Veteran Tommy Haas is lingering as well but in a best of five set match I don't think he has enough gas in the tank to compete with the younger guys.
Finally, don't forget about the potential of Raonic who is slated to meet Kohlschreiber in the third round. While he has dissapointed thus far in 2013, he has all the tools to be successful and is perhaps playing possum as we get underway. He's a guy that nobody wants to face in this tournament, I can guarantee you of that.
I'd normally go into predictions here for our semi-finalists but when I come up with Djokovic/Ferrer and Murray/Federer it just sets me up for a no-win scenario! I see Djokovic as a rock-solid pick and feel that Murray will likely face him in the finals if the latter part of 2012 was any indication. Both Federer and Ferrer are the far more vulnerable players and could be upset earlier, though I'd never bet against either one.
Enjoy the return to big-time tennis everyone and do check back for updates both here and on Twitter as the tournament progresses.
2013 Australian Open Draws
Here are the draws for the upcoming Australian Open. Check back with us shortly for full draw analysis.
One Week Until the Australian Open: First Sydney and Auckland
By Mike McIntyre
With only one week remaining until the first Grand Slam of the year, the ATP World Tour turns to Auckland and Sydney this week for the final two warm-up tournaments.
Andy Murray (Brisbane), Richard Gasquet (Qatar) and Janko Tipsarevic (Chennai) have already earned titles in 2013 and have proved to be more than ready to start the year. Who else will hoist some hardware in one week's time?
In Auckland, David Ferrer is the top seed and will be tough to beat. Solid on any surface, Ferrer played some fantastic hard court tennis a year ago where he made the quarter finals of the Aussie Open and the semi finals of the U.S. Open. Ferrer had three wins last week in Qatar before falling to a very in-form Nikolay Davydenko. He gets a bit of rest at the start of this event with a first round bye as he attempts to win the Heineken Open for the fourth time (2007, 2011, 2012).
Ferrer has 8th seeded Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil in his quarter of the draw but should be able to come through unscathed.
In the second quarter German veteran Tommy Haas is the third seed and will look to build on his impressive 2012 season where he came back from obscurity and into the top 25 in the world rankings. Haas will have to contend with Jurgen Melzer and wildcard Gael Monfils in this section.
Further down, Sam Querrey is the third seed and will potentially have to face Jerzy Janowicz who captured everyone's attention with his improbable run to the finals of the Masters Series event in Paris last fall. One hit wonder or a star in the making...only time will tell.
In the fourth quarter, Philipp Kohlschreiber is the second seed while veteran Xavier Malisse could also cause some damage.
I like Ferrer to come out of the top half and I think Sam Querrey had such a strong 2012 that he could definitely emerge from the bottom half. A victory for Ferrer should be expected given his history at this event and the fact he has a little more match preparation coming in that most.
In Sydney, Richard Gasquet was supposed to have been the top seed but pulled out due to personal reasons following his victory in Qatar. Instead, American John Isner will take the top spot and no doubt serve his way deep into the draw. Isner took the number one position in 2012 for aces on the tour with 1005 and will be the favorite to repeat as the holder of that distinguished category again this year. An Isner vs Ryan Harrison second round match would entertain American tennis fans who are eager to see the potential the latter player can achieve as he continues to develop. Fernando Verdasco is the fourth seed and the most likely to see Isner in the semi finals here. Verdasco just finished helping Spain capture the Hopman Cup and has been playing well.
In the bottom half of the draw, second seeded Gilles Simon will be looking to improve upon his first week on tour where he fell to Marcos Baghdatis in the third round in Brisbane. Simon will have to deal with a potential meeting in the third round here in Sydney against local hope Bernard Tomic. I would bank on either of these two to have a strong event and face Isner in the finals with the American prevailing.
Please follow us at ProTennisFan on Twitter as well for timely updates.
Watson Faces Fitness Race
Britain’s hopes for a female tennis star to succeed on the Grand Slam stage may have to wait a few more months after the nation’s top-ranked player, Heather Watson, revealed she is struggling with injury just 11 days before the Australian Open.
Watson, the UK’s greatest hope to reach the second week in Melbourne, suffered an elbow injury during her second-round defeat to Kiki Bertens in the ASB Classic in Auckland on Wednesday. She struggled to find her rhythm in the three-set clash and consistently failed to make points on her second serve.
It was clear to those following the action in the tennis betting news that something was not right out on the Auckland courts and soon after the 6-4 3-6 6-3 defeat Watson played a doubles match with New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic, which the pair also lost.
“I injured my elbow in my singles match, I have to withdraw from Hobart. Doing everything I can to get healthy,” Watson tweeted after her matches, revealing what many fans in the betting world had already concluded, that she played through her injury in the singles clash.
To make matters worse, Watson is now not only out of Auckland but withdrew from the Hobart International, which starts 4 January and could have proven a major form boost for the Brit before Melbourne.
Without that week in Hobart, Watson now heads into the Australian Open with just two games and one victory under her belt in 2013. It is not ideal preparation for the world number 49 and WTA tour champion in Japan last year, for Watson is now a genuine competitor on the women’s circuit and will have been hoping to make the fourth round at least come Melbourne.
However, it seems British fans and punters with bet365 tennis betting will have to wait a little longer to see their main hope in genuine Grand Slam competition. Watson’s elbow injury comes at a bad time but she has months to recover until the clay and grass season this summer, where Wimbledon will be eagerly anticipating something big from this 20-year-old.
2013 ATP World Tour: Ready. Play.
By Mike McIntyre
Andy Murray leads the field in Brisbane as the top seed. He has a first round bye followed by either Tatsuma Ito or a qualifier in the second round. A competitive yet ultimately winnable match against Lleyton Hewitt looms for round three, although the Aussie veteran must get past an equally aged Radek Stepanek in his first match of the tournament.
Talented but inconsistent Alexandr Dolgopolov is the fourth seed and is also in the top half of the draw. He has Kei Nishikori in his section as well as the experienced Tommy Robredo and Julien Benneteau. While Robredo is trying to re-establish himself after missing a large portion of last season due to injury, both he and Benneteau are still capable of causing an upset.
In the bottom half of the draw Canadian Milos Raonic holds the second seed and is playing in this event for the first time. It is interesting that he has chosen to play in Brisbane rather than defending his trophy from Chennai. I'm only speculating here but I would imagine this has to do with acclimatizing himself to Australia ahead of the season's first Grand Slam in two weeks time. A final match against Murray would be a good early season test for Raonic who is hoping to post more wins against top-ten calibre oponents this season as he continues his development on the tour.
Marcos Baghdatis and third seeded Gilles Simon are also in the bottom half of the draw and could both give the young Raonic problems.
A new champion will be crowned in Chennai this year and first seed Tomas Berdych will be leading the charge. Berdych will face either Jan Hajek or Somdev Devvarman in the second round after receiving a bye for the first round. Marin Cilic is also in the top half of the draw and has won this tournament in 2009 and 2010. A Berdych vs. Cilic semi final showdown is a safe bet here.
It makes sense for players to return to tournaments where they have experienced success in the past, and Chennai is no different with former champ Stan Wawrinka (2011) and finalist Janko Tipsarevic (2012) both in the bottom half of the draw this year.
Wawrinka may be rusty while Tipsarevic has already played three matches at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition in Abu Dhabi. There he defeated Andy Murray in his opening match before losing to Nicolas Almagro and David Ferrer. Tough to take much stock out of those results, but it does give Tipsarevic more match preparation than the other competitors in this event.
With more than double the prize money of the other two level 250 events going on this week, Doha represents a stronger opening week field.
David Ferrer is the top seed and opens against a qualifier. Ferrer also competed in Abu Dhabi this past week where he defeated Berdych and Tipsarevic but fell easily to Novak Djokovic. Ferrer is certainly getting the most out of his skill set and had a fantastic 2012 season that saw him rise to number five in the world. The gap between him and the injured Rafael Nadal is quite close so the chances of him breaking into the top four is likely if he starts the year with a few wins.
The second quarter of the draw contains threats such as Nikolay Davydenko, Mikhail Youzhny and Feliciano Lopez while the third quarter of the draw is also dangerous with Gael Monfils, Philipp Kohlshreiber and Jeremy Chardy.
In the final quarter, second seeded Richard Gasquet could be a good pick to advance to the finals while Viktor Troicki should also be watched. Gasquet is ranked 10th in the world which is his best ranking since June of 2008.
Enjoy the return to competitive tennis everyone and check back with us soon for more info on the upcoming Australian Open. If you are thinking about betting on the Australian Open, have a look at TAB's Australian Open betting page. Luxbet Online Betting also has some pretty attractive tennis betting options.
You can also follow ProTennisFan on Twitter for timely updates.
Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Australian Open
By Mike McIntyre
One of the most anticipated returns in men's tennis will have to wait a little longer with the announcement today that Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the upcoming Australian Open due to the effects of a stomach virus. After only a few weeks of being back on the practice courts as he continued to rehabilitate his troublesome knee, Nadal contracted the virus recently and has been unable to train during this latest ordeal. Ordered by doctors to wait at least a week until returning to the court, Nadal determined that he would not be able to compete at the necessary level one requires at a Grand Slam event. He withdrew as well from the Mubadala Tennis Championship exhibition in Abu Dhabi that is happening at the moment and also from the upcoming ATP World Tour event in Doha. His next potential tournament is in Acapulco on clay courts at the end of February.
Nadal revealed that his latest setback has nothing to do with his knee that has kept him off the professional circuit since June.
"My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors," Nadal said in a statement today. "But this virus didn't allow me to practice this past week and therefore I am sorry to announce that I will not play in Doha and the Australian Open."
Stay tuned for more details about Nadal's return as details unfold.
Djokovic Breezes Into Mubadala Tennis Championship Finals
By Mike McIntyre
Novak Djokovic found his way into the finals of the Mubadala Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi on Friday with a dominating 6-0, 6-3 victory over David Ferrer.
Djokovic will now face Nicolas Almagro in the finals on Saturday after the Spaniard earned a tough three set win against Janko Tipsarevic by a score of 2-6, 7-6, 6-2.
Djokovic has defeated Almagro in each of the three matches they have played on the ATP World Tour and has never lost a set against his opponent in any of those encounters.
Ferrer and Tipsarevic will face-off in the consolation finals tomorrow as well.
Djokovic Headlines Mubadala World Tennis Championship
By Mike McIntyre
The Mubadala World Tennis Championship once again is serving as a wake-up call to tennis enthusiasts all over the world as six of the top players on the ATP World Tour unofficially begin their competitive season.
Held in Abu Dhabi, the three day event boasts world number one Novak Djokovic, world number three Andy Murray as well as David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Janko Tipsarevic and Nicolas Almagro.
On day one, Ferrer beat Berdych 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the semi-finals against Djokovic on Friday. Also, Janko Tipsarevic surprised Murray in straight sets by a score of 6-3, 6-4. Tipsarevic will face Almagro in the other semi-final.
Starting in 2009, the event has seen Rafael Nadal make the finals three times, winning twice, but we won't be seeing the Spaniard this time around. He was supposed to make his return to competitive tennis this week but had to pull-out due to a stomach virus.
Western and Southern Open Masters Preview
By Mike McIntyre
The Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati is two days away from continuing the summer hardcourt swing on the ATP World Tour. While not quite as hampered by post-Olympic withdrawals as the Rogers Cup in Toronto, there are still several notable players missing in action.
World number three Rafael Nadal is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Nadal has not played since Wimbledon and there are murmurs that he may even have to shutdown his entire season to allow for a proper recovery. At this stage of the summer I cannot see Nadal coming back to play the U.S. Open without adequate preparation and testing the knee out in best-of-five set competition does not seem like such a great idea.
Joining Nadal on the sidelines are a slew of other Spanish players including Juan Carlos Ferrero (foot), Nicolas Almagro (shoulder) and Fernando Verdasco (wrist). Also missing is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the victim of a freak accident with a fire hydrant while walking the streets of Toronto. Seven stitches to his knee will prevent the Frenchman from taking to the court in Cincy. Compatriot Gael Monfils is also missing as he recovers from a knee injury.
World number one Roger Federer is present which is a huge bonus for tennis fans and tournament organizers and sponsors. Federer without a doubt remains the top drawing card on the tour. He will face either Jarkko Nieminen or Alex Bogomolov Jr. in the first round, with either being a good opponent to warm-up against for a good run at this event. Federer has a fairly routine quarter of the draw and should see either Mardy Fish or Juan Monaco should he attain the final eight. One interesting first round pairing in this part of the draw has youngsters Bernard Tomic and Ryan Harrison facing one another.
QF Prediction: Federer d. Monaco
In the next section of the draw fourth seed David Ferrer returns to action and will be slated to play fifth seed Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals if their rankings hold true. There are plenty of players capable of preventing that from happening however including Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and Milos Raonic. Talk about some quality players!
Gasquet who has just made the finals of the Rogers Cup is scheduled to face Raonic in the opening round which is just back luck for both of these players, and Simon also faces a tough starting opponent in Marco Baghdatis.
QF Prediction: Ferrer d. Baghdatis
The third quarter is very difficult and is almost a mini-tournament within itself. Juan Martin Del Potro the sixth seed will face the winner between Tommy Haas and David Nalbandian. It will be a case of deja vu for Haas and Nalbandian as they just played eachother in the first round in Toronto. Haas had to play two matches in Toronto on Friday where he beat Radek Stepanek but fell to Djokovic. Both of those matches went three sets and when you factor in all of the tennis the German veteran has played lately I think an early exit in Cincinnati is a real possibility.
Another veteran, Lleyton Hewitt of Australia has been given a wildcard into the event and has to open against a very capable player in Mikhail Youzhny. Ranked 134th in the world due to injury issues this year, Hewitt has seemed to get his game back on track lately by making the finals in Newport in July and then pushing Djokovic to three sets in defeat at the Olympics. Taking down Youzhny is well within his abilities and would be a nice confidence boost as he continues his lengthy career.
Big serving American's John Isner and Andy Roddick are also both in this part of the draw, along with a resurgent Sam Querrey who has taken a wildcard into the event. Querrey has had a great summer with a win in LA, semi-finals in D.C. and a couple of good wins in Toronto against Jurgen Melzer and Nishikori before falling to Djokovic.
If healthy, Andy Murray rounds out this quarter and should be able to get deep in the draw if his knee is feeling up to it. I wasn't getting a good vibe from Murray on either the physical or mental side of his game in Toronto though. Murray had to withdraw after his first round win there and is going to need to get a few hardcourt matches under his belt before the U.S. Open.
QF Prediction: Del Potro d. Querrey
The last quarter has fellow Serbians Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic who are both facing each other tonight in the semifinals of the Rogers Cup. Alexandr Dolgopolov could be a player to watch here as well depending on whether it is the Washington or Toronto version that shows up. He was unbeatable in D.C. but looked completely absent-minded in his straight sets loss to Radek Stepanek this past week in TO.
QF Prediction: Djokovic d. Tipsarevic
Semis: Federer d. Ferrer and Del Potro d. Djokovic
Finals: Del Potro d. Federer
Rain Dominates Rogers Cup in Toronto
By Mike McIntyre
As if the Rogers Cup didn't have enough adversity to contend with after being upstaged by the Olympic Games and subsequent withdrawals and early round upsets. Thursday saw an entire day's worth of play washed-out due to the wet conditions while Friday has been moving along at snail's pace due to on-going rain delays.
Earlier today there were a few matches that saw their way to completion. These were third round matches that were supposed to have been played yesterday.
Frenchman Richard Gasquet continued his strong play this week by beating fourth seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-2.
Fifth seed Janko Tipsarevic was able to defeat the younger Marin Cilic by a score of 6-2, 6-4.
Mardy Fish, the eleventh seed, was pushed to three sets but able to get past Juan Monaco 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.
None of the above results are surprising despite a couple of higher ranked players going down. Gasquet is one of the most skilled players on tour who lacks the motivation to properly dedicate himself towards realizing his full potential. His defeat of Berdych today only gives more weight to the notion that he might never reach that level of play that we have all expected of him for years. He has not shown the ability to do this on a consistent basis.
Monaco for his part might be ranked higher than Fish at the moment but on hardcourts it is safe to say that it is the American who would be favoured to advance. I pegged this one to go three sets however since Monaco has played well on clay and hardcourts this year and Fish is still lacking the match play in 2012 after his healthy issues earlier in the year. These must be encouraging results for Fish as he tries to ready himself for the U.S. Open.
When rain halted play today, top seeded Novak Djokovic was leading Sam Querrey in their match 6-4, 4-3 and was up a break in the second set. These two just resumed and Djokovic quickly marched to a 6-4, 6-4 victory.
With the forecast looking suspect for the remainder of the day on Friday as well as Saturday, this tournament very likely will have to be extended into next week in order to get to its completion.
Keep checking back with us at ProTennisFan as we will eventually see this tournament progress to its culmination.
Upsets Galore At Rogers Cup in Toronto
By Mike McIntyre
With thirty Olympians entered into the singles draw here at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, you just knew that the possibility for upsets would be plentiful due to the taxing playing and travel schedule these athletes have been faced with.
As the second round of play heated up on Wednesday at the Rexall Centre, several high profile players lost matches that they very likely would have won under normal circumstances. The Rogers Cup is quickly turning into a tournament where the underdog is ruling the day.
The surprises started early on Centre Court with 6th seeded Juan Martin Del Potro giving a solid effort but ultimately a losing one as he went down courtesy of veteran trickster Radek Stepanek 6-4, 7-6(5). Del Potro showed flashes of the ability that reveal his incredible potential, in particular a lethal forehand that leaves spectators and opponents speechless, but could not do it consistently enough to defeat a quality second round opponent like Stepanek. After the match Del Potro was brief in his comments but revealed he was on the brink of exhaustion.
"It's not easy to play after a big effort in the Olympics, but I tried anyway," he said. "Now I need time to recover my body if I want to stay healthy, you know."
Stepanek will now face Tommy Haas in the third round, the German moving ahead thanks to a 6-2, 6-3 dismantling of Gilles Simon, the 9th seed. I don't think many people would qualify this result as an upset given that the 34 year old German is quickly resembling a much younger version of himself now that he is healthy again. Haas has reached finals on three different surfaces so far in 2012, most recently on hardcourts in Washington D.C. last week where he lost a close match to Alexandr Dolgopolov. Keep your eye on this guy as a darkhorse as the U.S. Open approaches.
The upsets continued in the second match on the stadium court with an all-French battle between 3rd seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jeremy Chardy. While ranked 47th in the world, Chardy has performed well here in Toronto before by making the quarter-finals in 2010. His strong play on Canadian soil continued as he was able to defeat Tsonga for the first time in his career by a score of 6-4, 7-6(4).
Just as was the case with Del Potro, Tsonga was dealing with mental and physical fatigue, the result of his long stay at the Olympics which culminated with a silver medal in men's doubles. He said after the match here that the loss had nothing to do with his game but merely the tough circumstances that brought him here.
"I think it's not about my game. You know, my game is my game. But I was just, you know, not enough - how you say that? I didn't have enough energy to move well," he revealed. "I mean I just played 287 games last week and I took the plane. There is a jet lag, and that's it."
Tsonga was not thrilled to lose but also made it clear he was here because of his obligations as a professional tennis player.
"You know...I'm disappointed because I lost it. But, you know, this is the rule. I have to play every week. You know, for me it's a mandatory tournament; I have to be here."
Fortunately for tournament organizers and sponsors, Andy Murray was ready to reverse the trend of upsets. Despite only arriving in Toronto Tuesday evening and admitting to little more than four hours of sleep each night since his big win at the Olympics, Murray was able to dispatch his opponent, Flavio Cipolla by a routine score of 6-1, 6-3.
While the scoreline looked easy enough, Murray struggled physically at various times during the match and was favouring his left knee that he had a trainer examine in the late stages of the match.
Murray assessed his condition as follows, "I feel okay. I feel a little bit sore in the joints and stuff a little bit. I mean, I feel tired mentally...I haven't really slept much the last few days, so that's probably catching up with me a little bit."
He understandably looked like he was in the twilight zone during his post-match press conference and as he hobbled off after answering multiple questions I wondered if he would be fit enough to compete tomorrow against Canadian Milos Raonic in a match that will certainly test him more than he was today.
Already having won their only career meeting thus far, Raonic could be considered the favourite heading into this third round match due to Murray's evident lack of readiness at the moment. Not only is he dealing with physical and mental burdens, but he still has not had the chance to properly experience all the emotions that come with winning an Olympic gold medal. On top of that, today was his first match on hardcourts since Miami back in March.
Indeed the Rogers Cup this year represents an excellent opportunity for those outside of the "big four" to make their mark as we rapidly approach the final Grand Slam of the year. The chances of Djokovic and Murray meeting in the final as the number one and two seeds is probably pretty slim. Instead look at a veteran like Haas, a relative rookie like Raonic or a steady guy like Mardy Fish, Juan Monaco or Janko Tipsarevic to make the most of this rare opening.
In other results today, Marin Cilic defeated Marcos Baghdatis 7-5, 6-3. He will now face Tipsarevic, a 7-6(2), 6-4 winner over Mikhail Youzhny.
Marcel Granollers beat 15th seed Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-4 to advance to play Chardy in the next round.
Philipp Kohlschreiber took out qualifier Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-2 and will face big-serving John Isner next.
In a match that last over three hours, 4th seeded Tomas Berdych survived a huge test from Julien Benneteau. Berdych would prevail eventually by a score of 6-7(10), 6-4, 6-4. He gets a tough match again tomorrow against the super-talented Richard Gasquet of France, who beat Mikhail Kukushkin 7-5, 6-3.
American Sam Querrey continued his hot summer streak that has put him atop the U.S. Open Series leaderboard with a win today over Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-3. Querrey has won an event in LA and made the semis in D.C. in recent weeks and is playing with some superb confidence at the moment.
Querrey will next face a gentleman by the name of Novak Djokovic who defeated 19 year-old Bernard Tomic, 6-2, 6-3 in the night match on Centre Court. Of all the top ranked Olympians to come to Toronto, he appears to be the freshest somehow. Maintaining his ranking points from last year's victory in Montreal will no doubt be on Djokovic's mind as he tries to minimize Federer's hold on the number one ranking in the world.
Keep checking back with us here at ProTennisFan for coverage all week long in Toronto. Follow us on Twitter as well for timely updates.
Dancevic Keeping His Head Up
By Mike McIntyre
With tennis fans in Canada so enamoured at the moment by rising star Milos Raonic, it is easy to forget about some of the country's other professional tennis players who are also still on the scene. In doubles we have world number one Daniel Nestor who at the age of forty is still winning Grand Slams. In singles, Vasek Pospisil is flirting with a top-hundred ranking and upset world number twenty six Andreas Seppi in the first round of the Rogers Cup before falling in round two to a steady top-ten opponent in Juan Monaco.
You'll have to look a little bit further to find Frank Dancevic who held the title of Canadian number one for several years before back injuries, and the emergence of Raonic, pushed him down the ladder. Currently ranked a respectable 123rd in the world, Dancevic is trying to rebuild his career at the age of 27 and re-establish himself as a capable veteran who can still cause some damage.
Earlier this year it appeared that the Niagra Falls native was on his way to doing just that. At a challenger in Dallas he endured two qualification matches to make the main draw and then progressed all the way to the finals knocking off quality opponents such as Yen-Hsun Lu, Marin Cilic and then Igor Andreev to capture the title. He followed that up by qualifying for the Masters event in Miami before falling in the second round to Mardy Fish. Then his back acted-up again and brought his momentum to a grinding halt.
Dancevic was in the finals of a challenger event in Tallahassee when had to suddenly retire after popping some ligaments in his back and needing his opponent, American Tim Smyczek, and a trainer to carry him off the court. He would not play again for another month and a half.
When he returned, his body had clearly not healed as he was forced to retire again at Roland Garros after playing a mere four games in his opening match. Afterwards he said, "“I was petrified out there, I didn’t know what would happen. I started feeling twinges even during the warm-up and it only got worse during the match. I didn’t want to mess up my whole summer, it was just not worth it for me.”
A few weeks later at a grass-court tournament at Queen's Club Dancevic would try once more to comeback with disappointing results. He would retire after losing the opening set 6-1. The constant fear of re-injuring himself caused Dancevic to endure some hard times.
"Coming back and starting to train again was really difficult. I found that just practicing and going out for the first couple of weeks I was very tentative, very afraid of what was going to happen and if I would get hurt again and be out again," Dancevic said.
Only recently have things started to slowly improve for the unlucky Canuck. Last week at a challenger event in Vancouver he was able to put together a string of consistent matches before losing in the semi-finals. Then yesterday at the Rogers Cup, a tournament he was playing for the 10th time in his career, he was beaten in the first round by 69th ranked Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 7-5. Despite the loss, Dancevic remains cautiously optimistic that he can still get his game back to where it once was when he was ranked 65th in the world back in 2007.
"The fact that my conditioning is coming back and I played some good matches (in Vancouver) is a good sign. I think it's a matter of just staying healthy this year and staying on top of my body and hoping for the best," Dancevic said following the match against Kukushkin.
Back in '07, all hopes were on Dancevic to be the next big tennis phenom for a country that has been starved of such talent for as long as many of us can rememeber. Dancevic was well aware of that pressure and spoke about it candidly yesterday.
"I guess back in the day I was a talented junior. I was playing well. I feel like if I wasn't out - if I didn't hurt my back early in my career...I felt like who knows what could have happened, you know?"
Dancevic showed promise at various times back then. He was a finalist in Indianapolis in 2007 where he beat Andy Roddick in the semi-finals. He also made the quarter-finals that summer in Montreal before falling to Rafael Nadal in three tight sets. In 2009, he made the finals of his 2nd ATP tournament in Eastbourne on grass. In 2011, Dancevic became the first man to ever make it through qualifying at all four Grand Slam events in the same calendar year.
There still remains time for Dancevic to make something of his time as a tennis professional. While reaeching Raonic-like heights is not going to happen, a return into the top hundred in the world should be within his capabilities if he can remain healthy.
"I feel like if I put the pieces to the puzzle together I still have the game to be in the top 50. Realistically I feel like that."
Time will tell if Dancevic will be able to do it, but he certainly appears game to try.
Day One Delivers at Rogers Cup
By Mike McIntyre
The Rogers Cup had the odds stacked against them as play began today in Toronto. A somewhat subdued vibe lingered in the air due to the uncertainty of Andy Murray’s status and the already known absence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Murray, fresh off his gold medal in London, stated today that he would appear in Toronto but would have to see how he felt once on-site before committing to playing. It was not a scenario that tournament sponsors and organizers were happy about and yet one that was to be expected due to the abnormally hectic summer scheduling caused by the Olympics.
Indeed there were sparse crowds for the daytime session despite some beautiful weather and the fact it was a holiday for most here in Ontario’s capital city. The tournament cannot really be faulted for this sluggish start however, as the top sixteen seeds all enjoy a first round bye and other big players like Tommy Haas and Alexandr Dolgopolov still had to make their way here from Washington D.C. where they just wrapped up the Citi Open.
Despite these hurdles, there were some interesting story lines to follow here at the Rexall Centre including some Canadian talent for the home crowds to get behind. Here’s how day one unfolded:
Action started on Centre Court at 11am ET with Frenchman Jeremy Chardy extending American Donald Young's epic losing streak to sixteen matches with a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-0 victory to open play. Young collapsed after losing the second set in a tiebreak and revealed the fragile nature of his mental game which can be easily understood for a player who has not won a match on the Tour since February. He now stands just five losses away from tying retired countryman Vince Spadea for the all-time losing streak on the ATP World Tour at 21 consecutive matches.
After the match Chardy was asked if he was aware of the magnitude of his opponent’s stretch of bad luck. “Oh, sixteen is a lot. I didn’t know that. I know he lost many matches on first round, but not sixteen.” When asked about the longest drought he had ever experienced he half-joked by saying, “I don’t know. I prefer to forget it.” No doubt Young will also be hoping to forget his most recent setback and try to cling to the hope that better days are ahead. At only 23 years old, it sure seems the American has endured and created more than his fair share of hardships as a professional tennis player.
In the afternoon big-serving Michael Berrer of Germany provided some mid-match trouble to promising nineteen year-old Aussie Bernard Tomic before falling 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Berrer impressively carries his 220lb frame around the court and at the age of 32 used his experience to push the match to a third set. As for Tomic, he certainly does not play the way you would imagine someone of his own generous stature of 6'5'' and 201lbs. He tries to take the pace off the ball rather than playing the power game you might expect. It worked for him today against the 131st ranked Berrer, but might not be as effective against his next opponent – Novak Djokovic.
Next-up on the main court was some Canadian content with Peter Polansky, ranked 157th in the world, taking on Matthew Ebden from Australia. Both players are 24 years of age, but it is Ebden who has made more of a mark thus far on the circuit. Both players received some help to get into the main draw of the event, with Polansky receiving one of four wildcards from Tennis Canada and Ebden receiving a lucky-loser designation after losing his final qualifying match but replacing Feliciano Lopez in the draw after the Spaniard withdrew.
Ebden was certainly playing the part of the loser well at the start of the match as Polansky cruised through the first set by a score of 6-0. It was not as much due to the Canadian’s play, but instead Ebden’s own inability to hit a tennis ball inside the lines of the court. As Polansky said after the match, Ebden, “was missing almost every single ball.”
Despite having a chance to break Ebden in the first game of the second set at 15-40 on the Australian’s serve, Polansky would lose the game and spiral downwards from there. The Canadian seemed to suddenly get tight and did not resemble the player who enjoyed so much success here two years ago in an opening round defeat of then 13th seeded Jurgen Melzer. Ebden picked up his game sensing the fragility in his opponent and would carry that momentum forward for a 0-6, 6-4, 6-3 win.
Polansky did not hold back after the match in assessing his disappointing performance. “…it’s very frustrating, especially having a big tournament like this, such a great opportunity. Just wasn’t able to perform today.” When asked what part of his game needed he work he conceded, “…I’ll probably say everything.”
Canadian tennis fans hoped that Vasek Pospisil would be able to reverse their country’s fortunes in the opening match of the night session. Up against consistent veteran Andreas Seppi, Pospisil had a match that was certainly within his promising capabilities despite his opponent being currently ranked 28th in the world.
Instead the hardships for the Canucks seemed to continue with Seppi taking the first set 6-4. Even with the bigger serve as a weapon, Pospisil’s control of his groundstrokes could not match the Italian’s in that opening frame.
Pospisil would not give-up despite the early setback, and he would take the second set by the same score to settle the match at one apiece. In the final set Pospisil would break his opponent early and then consolidate his serve to go up by a comfortable 3-0 margin.
Later Seppi would break his way back into the set but while serving at 4-5 he would allow Pospisil two chances to take the match at 15-40. Unfortunately the home crowd would groan twice as their young hopeful could not close it out.
Both players would hang-on to their last service opportunity with ease to force the deciding tie-break. This is where we would find out what Pospisil was made of. Could he block out the missed match points and maintain his composure in front of such a nervous crowd?
Pospisil dictated most of the points in the breaker and was up 6-3 after a timely ace. Seppi would then hold his serve in consecutive points giving Pospisil his third match point of the tiebreak and on his serve. A missed forehand by the Canuck would prolong the tension but he wouldn’t miss his next chance with Seppi serving at 6-7. Pospisil would complete the upset to the delight of the frenzied crowd by a final score of 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(6) to advance to the second round.
After the match ended the satisfaction within Pospisil was obvious as he gushed to the crowd before leaving the court. “It’s incredible to come here and play in front of my home crowd…I’ve been looking forward to this all year.”
There will be more to look forward to tomorrow as he will face seventh seed Juan Monaco in the late afternoon/early evening on the Grandstand Court.
Other Canadians up tomorrow include Frank Dancevic and Milos Raonic. Dancevic opens play against Mikhail Kukushkin at 11am on Centre Court, while Raonic will entertain the night crowd at 7pm against Viktor Troicki in the first second round match to be played on Centre Court. Troicki advanced today with a 6-4, 7-6(5) win over Russia’s Alex Bogomolov Jr.
Check back with us at ProTennisFan for full coverage of the Rogers Cup here in Toronto. You can also follow us on Twitter for regular updates of the daily action.
Donald Young's Misery Continues
By Mike McIntyre
American tennis player Donald Young's string of bad luck continued today at the Rogers Cup in Toronto as he was defeated by Jeremy Chardy 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-0 in the opening match of the tournament on Centre Court. Young has now remarkably lost sixteen matches in-a-row stretching all the way back to February.
Young started the day well by going ahead 2-0 before allowing Chardy to win three straight games to get back into the opening frame. An error-filled first set would see several breaks of serve and a slightly steadier Young would hold-on for a 6-3 margin.
In the second set Chardy's serve would heat up allowing him a few more free points and his forehand settled into range as well. Young would go down 2-4, but managed to claw his way back into the set and save three set points to force a second set tiebreak. In the breaker however it was mostly the Frenchman who was dictating play and he would jump out to a 6-2 lead, before finally taking it 7-4.
In the third set Young's shaky mental framework would completely fall apart as he lost all six games to essentially hand the match to Chardy. Six months of consistent losing has clearly effected his ability to fight his way back into a tennis match.
Young will undoubtedly be hoping that he can still find a way to salvage this season with a few months of play still to go. It was around this time a year ago that Young stepped-up his play and saw his ranking jump from 128th to 44th by the end of 2011. It is actually a testament to his strong finish that year that has allowed him to maintain a ranking inside of the top one hundred despite his monumental collapse this season.
If things continue, Young will soon be challenging retired American Vince Spadea for the all-time worst losing streak on the ATP World Tour. Spadea dropped 21 straight matches between 1999 and 2000. Young will unwillingly takingover that dismal record if he does not take some concrete steps to rectify his current situation.
Rogers Cup Day One Order Of Play
By Mike McIntyre
Here is the order of play in Toronto for day one of the Rogers Cup.
Looks to be a pretty sparse day in terms of matches with only three courts in use and not an overwhelming amount of singles play to choose from.
The opening match at 11am ET pits Jeremy Chardy of France against American Donald Young. Chardy will be heavily favoured not only due to his experience on tour but mostly as a result of Young's fifteen match losing streak. The former number one junior player in the world has not won a match since February.
That match will be followed by Bernard Tomic against a qualifier but will not begin until at least 1pm, leaving fans to check out some action on the Grandstand Court between Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Viktor Troicki.
At 3pm Canadian tennis fans can catch Peter Polansky take-on a qualifier on Center Court and they can also see Vasek Pospisil open the evening session at 7pm against Andreas Seppi. Closing-out the day's play will be Marcos Baghdatis versus Carlos Berlocq.
Keep checking back with us at ProTennisFan for regular updates throughout the week.
Rogers Cup 2012 Men's Preview
By Mike McIntyre
The Rogers Cup Masters is set to begin tomorrow in Toronto and with the Olympic tennis just wrapping up one might think the momentum that the sport is carrying would make for an even more electric event than usual. Instead, the usually talent-laden tournament is showcasing its sparsest draw in terms of talent in several years due to the withdrawals of many of the world's best players.
This Olympic hangover is led by the absence of world number one Roger Federer and world number three Rafael Nadal. Undoubtedly the two biggest draws on the ATP World Tour, Federer withdrew after his epic defeat of Juan Martin Del Potro in the Olympic semi-finals where he prevailed 19-17 in the third set, while Nadal has been injured with knee issues since Wimbledon. For Federer it will be the first time he has missed the premier Canadian competition since 2005 while Nadal has made an appearance every summer since his debut in 2004.
Other big-name players to withdraw include Andy Roddick, David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco and Gael Monfils.
It appears now that Andy Murray has stated he will travel to Toronto to participate. Murray just captured Olympic gold with a stunning rout of Federer at the All-England Club by a score of 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. He then teamed with Laura Robson to capture the silver medal in mixed doubles. Rogers Cup sponsors and organizers must be thrilled to hear he will make the trip. I would not have been surprised if he had bailed due to a lack of energy or desire to make the trip across the Atlantic Ocean after his busy Olympic schedule. Hats off to him for keeping his committment.
While Djokovic too would have been a candidate to withdraw, I see him as the top-player with the most to gain from showing up. His play has been clearly behind that of Federer and Murray over the past month of competition and he has lost the world number one ranking during that time as well. With only a small amount of ranking points separating him from Federer and with a sparse turn-out in Toronto, this would be an opportune moment for the Serb to re-assert himself.
Let's now take a look at how the draw might unfold this year in Toronto.
In the top quarter of the draw Djokovic holds the number one seeding. After a first round bye he will open against the winner of the Bernard Tomic vs. Qualifier match. Tomic represents the future and even the present of Australian tennis at the tender age of nineteen. Currently ranked 49th in the world which is down from his career high of 27th which he attained in June, the young Aussie holds an 0-2 record against Djokovic but might be able to take advantage of the Serb's mental state following a disappointing fourth place finish at the Olympics.
Djokovic's quarter is in fact the toughest of the tournament with several veteran landmines to navigate such as David Nalbandian and Tommy Haas (who both face each other in the opening round), Radek Stepanek and Jurgen Melzer as well. Add to that some younger talent like Del Potro, Kei Nishikori and Alexandr Dolgopolov and there will be some serious tests for the Djoker. A quarter-final versus Del Potro will be on everyone's minds as it would be a rematch from the Bronze medal match in London.
In the second quarter of play, Jo Wilfried-Tsonga the third seed is clearly the most dangerous foe. He won an Olympic silver in doubles with partner Michael Llodra and along with Del Potro represents the next wave of ATP talent after the "big four." Tsonga will face the winner of the first round match between Jeremy Chardy and Donald Young. You might be best served to simply pencil in Chardy's name already as Young has lost an incredible fourteen matches in-a-row on the tour in a stretch that goes all the way back to February.
Marin Cilic, Janko Tipsarevic and Marcos Baghdatis are also floating around in this quadrant of the draw but it is Tsonga in my opinion that stands in a class of his own and should advance.
In the third quarter, the inconsistent Tomas Berdych is the fourth seed and will be looking for a strong result to turn his 2012 season around. Since reaching the finals of the Madrid Masters in May, Berdych has gone a rather ordinary 9-5 for a player of his calibre. Berdych could face Gasquet in the third round and then possibly Mardy Fish in the quarter-finals. I would give either of Gasquet or Fish the edge in those matches.
Canadian tennis fans will also be closely watching Berdych's quarter as Frank Dancevic, Peter Polansky and Vasek Pospisil all have wildcards and were coincidentally lumped together in this part of the draw. All three Canucks have an excellent chance of advancing into the second round. Dancevic, the most experienced of the trio, opens against Mikhail Kukushkin. Polansky will face a qualifier while Pospisil will play Andreas Seppi.
In the final quarter, Andy Murray is the second seed. A third round encounter between he and Canadian star Milos Raonic would be a match that would get the Center Court buzzing. I would put my money on Raonic in this match due to the impact of the home crowd coupled with Murray's understandable fatigue and the mental edge Raonic might have to due to his victory in their one and only career meeting earlier this season. I just don't see how Murray could possibly be mentally ready to continue to compete after the magnitutde of his Olympic victory.
This tournament could be Raonic's chance to make his mark at the Masters level. While he has three tournament titles to his name, all have come at 250 level tournies and Canadian tennis fans are ready for him to take the next step. With a slightly lower field of competition, Raonic should be eager to take advantage. Seeded 16th, Milos will receive a bye and open against the winner between Viktor Troicki and Alex Bogomolov Jr.
The only other player in this section that I could see making a run is John Isner of the United States. Isner made the finals of another Masters Series event on the hardcourt's of Indian Wells earlier this year where he lost to Federer. This is another good opportunity for him to build on the success he has experienced in 2012 which has taken him briefly into the top-ten and now to his current position of 11th in the world.
Despite the reduced competition, the 2012 version of the Rogers Cup still has plenty of great players and the added excitement of a home-grown talent that could truly compete for the title. With many of these competitors missing any recent hardcourt play, upsets could be numerous and perhaps a winner of the Guillermo Canas variety (see 2002) could be in the cards.
My personal pick for this event would be Tsonga and my "darkhorse" would be a guy like Isner or Raonic.
Keep checking back with us here at ProTennisFan as we will be updating daily reports from the grounds of the Rexall Center in Toronto. You can also follow us on Twitter for regular observations and reactions.
Rogers Cup Draws Revealed
By Mike McIntyre
The 2012 singles draw has been released at the Rogers Cup and it is certainly one of the thinner fields that we have seen in terms of talent in some time. The two most noteworthy names to be missing from competition include world number one Roger Federer along with number three Rafael Nadal. With Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Juan Martin Del Potro still competing at the Olympic Games in London, there still exists a very real possibility that this draw with suffer even further losses before play begins in two days time.
The doubles draw has also weakened due to the proximity of the tournament to the olympics, with fewer top singles players using this platform as a secondary means of getting their hardcourt preparations into gear.
Check back with us shortly at ProTennisFan for a full main draw analysis and preview for the Canadian Masters.
Federer Regains Wimbledon Crown and Number One Ranking
By Mike McIntyre
Roger Federer won his seventeenth Grand Slam title on Sunday at Wimbledon by defeating Great Britain's own Andy Murray by a score of 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. In the process he also tied Pete Sampras' record with seven Wimbledon titles and perhaps even more surprisingly has now regained the world number one ranking from Novak Djokovic.
While most tennis fans and members of the media have admitted that Federer has been more than capable of winning another Grand Slam tournament, probably very few would have agreed that getting back to number one was a real possibility for the nearly 31 year old Federer.
Federer's re-capturing of the pinnacle position in the sport has not happened by fluke or through the misfortune of others. Since last year's U.S. Open he has put forward an incredibly consistent run that has included eight tournament victories and shown the world that he has much, much more top-level tennis within him.
He now needs only two weeks to beat Pete Sampras' 286 weeks of being the number one ranked tennis player in the world and with the schedule the way it is, such a result is already a lock.
The greatest player of all-time somehow finds a way to keep getting better. In less than a month we will find out if he can add the only major missing piece from an otherwise perfect career - an Olympic gold medal in singles competition. With that event being held on grass at the All-England Club, I'd say Federer has just put himself in an excellent position to accomplish that as well.
Here is the transcript of his post-championship press conference from Sunday.
Wimbledon Preview 2012
By Mike McIntyre
The world's most prestigious tennis tournament is set to begin at Wimbledon and with the announcement of the draw we can now debate the likelihood of Novak Djokovic repeating as champion, although some might say it is not much of a debate!
The world number one has not played any events on grass in the two week's following the French Open, so it will be interesting to see how he transitions from the clay of Roland Garros. Keep in mind however that the same preparations certainly did not hinder him a year ago in capturing his first Wimbledon crown.
In the top quarter of the draw, Djokovic opens against veteran Juan Carlos Ferrero. Ferrero has the experience to know that anything can happen, but against Djokovic he will need to play one of the best matches of his career in order to make it competitive. While we remember Ferrero for winning the French Open in 2003, he has had success on grass with two quarter-final appearances here before. At the age of 32 and with a losing record in 2012, look for Djokovic to advance in straight sets.
Djokovic's next few rounds should provide few surprises as potential opponents include the inexperienced (Ryan Harrison), the over-experienced (James Blake and Radek Stepanek) and those with experience better suited for red clay (Juan Ignacio Chela and Juan Monaco). In other words, don't expect the returning champ to bow-out early.
Players in the top quarter with a legitimate chance to face Djokovic in the final eight include Richard Gasquet, Philipp Petzschner and Tomas Berdych, the sixth seed.
Petzschner could be a darkhorse as he does play well on grass as evidenced by his appearance in the finals of s-Hertogenbosch after entering as a mere qualifier. Berdych is always a threat regardless of the surface and made his one and only Grand Slam final in 2010 here at Wimbledon where he lost to Nadal in straight sets.
Quarter One Pick: Djokovic d. Gasquet
In the second quarter, we find Roger Federer hoping to pick-up his seventh Wimbledon title and end a drought of two and a half years without hoisting a Grand Slam trophy. Still, Federer is always a huge threat and is eagerly anticipating a return to the finals at the All-England Club. He opens against sacrificial lamb Albert Ramos of Spain who will be playing in his first-ever main draw here.
Federer will likely face serve and volley expert Michael Llodra in the second round which would be entertaining for fans to watch, but likely not the type of player that Federer would like to face especially so early in the draw.
Marathon men John Isner and Nicholas Mahut could meet in this portion of the draw with a potential second round match that will clearly not live up to the hype that was set two years ago. Isner won that match in a gruelling 11 hours, 5 minutes by the unbelievable score of 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 70-68. Isner could definitely do some damage in this section, helped by his monstrous serve.
One terrific first round match pits David Nalbandian against 8th seed Janko Tipsarevic. I'd call this one the upset special of the opening round, given Nalbandian's strong history on grass. Hopefully he can keep his feet under control after his default from Queen's a week ago in the final against Marin Cilic. Line judges beware!
Quarter Two Pick: Federer d. Isner
In the third quarter, seventh seeded David Ferrer is capable of making life miserable for just about any opponent he faces. With Ferrer the surface of play is irrelevant because he is willing to do just about anything to win a tennis match. He will not quit - ever. He also comes off a big win in the Netherlands against Petzschner and will be carrying that momentum in with him. Ferrer could have a huge match against Andy Roddick in the third round and with both coming off tournament wins you'd really have to flip a coin in this one. The winner will likely see Juan Martin Del Potro in the fourth round in another hard to pick match that will captivate audiences.
The bottom-half of this draw is stacked with big names and none bigger than fourth seed Andy Murray. Murray is always under such enormous pressure to perform in the UK but this year he is really going to be hard-pressed to deliver. He opens with a former top-ten player in Nikolay Davydenko, would potentially face Ivo Karlovic in round two and then could stack-up against Marcos Baghdatis before playing either Milos Raonic or Marin Cilic. Good luck Andy boy. Actually, good luck to whoever comes out of this quadrant because they are going to be absolutely drained from the quality of opponents they could have to face.
Quarter Three Pick: Ferrer d. Raonic
In the final section of the draw, Rafael Nadal will try to go for the French Open/Wimbledon back-to-back accomplishment for the third time in his career. He played the warm-up event in Halle two weeks ago where he lost in his second match against Philipp Kohlschreiber. I wouldn't put any stock into that result as Nadal had played plenty of tennis in the weeks leading up. He wants that Wimbledon trophy back in a bad way and will be ferocious in his attempt to make that happen. He opens against Tomaz Bellucci and should be able to get through his first two rounds without too much trouble. He could get a rematch with Kohlschreiber in round three or perhaps face 34 year old Tommy Haas who just came off one of the biggest wins of his long career over Roger Federer in Halle.
In other parts of this section look for a fun first round match between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lleyton Hewitt. Unfortunately I don't think Lleyton has much left in the tank after all of the injury issues he's faced in recent years. This could very well be the last match of his career at Wimbledon, a place that is close to his heart after winning the event in 2002. Oddly enough Hewitt is now ranked 202 in the world and it would take a heck of an effort to get that ranking back up into the range where he would ever be considered a threat at such an event.
A long-shot in this part of the draw would be 19 year old Bernard Tomic of Australia who represents no longer the future, but the present of Australian tennis. A match against Tsonga in the fourth round could be a solid prospect.
Quarter Four Pick: Nadal d. Tomic
No sense in my picking the eventual winner because there's no glory in picking the safe bet. Well ok, here goes anyways...
Novak is going to "bounce back" from his defeat at Roland Garros and take Nadal in a five-set battle in the finals. These two players are just too solid right now to be prevented from facing one another yet again on the fourteenth day of a Grand Slam.
Wimbledon Draw Revealed
Only a few more days to go until Wimbledon is officially underway.
Here is a look at the men's draw which has Novak Djokovic as the defending champion.
Meanwhile, here is the ladie's draw with Petra Kvitova as the returning winner.
Check back with us shortly for a full analysis of the men's draw.