Spring 2018 claycourt season

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Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by MrInvisible on Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:59 pm

There's always something reassuring about the arrival of the claycourt season - means (for those of us in northern hemisphere) longer days and warmer weather on the way and we can start to predict what sort of crazy new records Nadal will get this year whilst looking for any chinks in his armour and speculating on which players can challenge him on the surface.

Well, before the claycourt season proper started, Nadal laid down an impressive marker by beating Zverev comfortably in the Spain vs Germany Davis Cup tie on home soil. Meanwhile, Kyle Edmund, who had a pretty forgettable Indian Wells and Miami, is looking good so far on the clay in Marrakesh, where he is seeded no. 2. Norrie looked good on the clay earlier this year in Davis Cup, so will be interesting if he can show some further form on the surface.

I will be watching Thiem with interest when he returns as he is arguably one of the few potential challengers to Nadal on clay. Other than Thiem, Nadal and Zverev I am struggling to see who else will be going far in the claycourt masters and Roland Garros this year - maybe Coric? From what I've seen of the Croat he looks to have a good game for clay although I don't know what his results have been on the surface so far. Djokovic still looks in trouble, I fear Wawrinka is on his way out shortly and neither Federer nor Murray will be around in the claycourt season.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by sirfredperry on Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:54 am

Rafa will, I think, dominate, as he invariably does at this time of year. Not sure there's anyone to stop him. Thiem usually performs well on clay and delpo could be a danger but I'm fully expecting Nadal to defend all his points from last year. Good chance for Edmund to carry on his good work (he's through to the final in Marrakech today after a two-wins-in-one-day Saturday).

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:08 am

Edmund's performance in AO 2018 suggested he might have turned a corner in his professional development.  But then injury and his poor performances after "recovering" and returning to the tour suggested perhaps his AO 2018 was just an unrepresentative series of circumstance and fortune.  However getting to his first ATP tournament final suggests that perhaps we might expect more from him in future.  In the final Edmund is meeting someone (Andujar) who has won this tournament twice before - and seems to be very comfortable with this particular tournament.

With regard to Hyeon Chung I think his AO2018 performance does represent a true jump in performance level.  However since then he does tend to show that he is vulnerable to big servers that can intimidate him and blow him away - on hard courts and towards the business end of tournaments.

Addendum (16th April, Afternoon):  Evans loses tamely to Andujar 6-2 6-2.   The following is a link to an ATP brief account of Pablo Andujar winning a challenger tournament prior to this Marakesh tournament.  It indicates that he has spent years with an elbow injury that required three operations.  It seems to have taken him about three to four years to recover.  If this is an omen for Djokovic - he might be off for a few more years.
http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/alicante-challenger-2018-andujar-feature

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by MrInvisible on Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:37 pm

Surprised no-one's mentioned yet the win for Djokovic today in Monte Carlo - beat countryman Lajovic 6-0 6-1. Is this a sign of finally turning the corner or another false dawn?

Also a good win for another player on the injury comeback trail, Nishikori, who beat Berdych in 3 sets.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:57 pm

If Djokovic is really recovered that will be the end of Federer's comeback. Very very promising results. Nishikori lost the first set 6-4 but then suddenly he smashes Berdych 6-2 6-1 in the final two sets. I think both felt they were now over their injuries but that they had yet to find their timing and feel.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by lags72 on Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:32 pm

No name Bertie wrote:If Djokovic is really recovered that will be the end of Federer's comeback.............

You sound very certain of that. Really ?   chin

Nobody can predict the future ; but history provides very little evidence - if indeed any - to support your view.

Federer’s glittering career is undoubtedly close to its final stages because of age alone, regardless of Novak Djokovic’s current matchplay level.

Due to respective injuries / layoffs, the two haven’t met since 2016. But their last ten encounters ended 6-4 in favour of Novak - a h2h tally which hardly points to any form of domination or overall definitive supremacy.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Wed Apr 18, 2018 4:04 am

Hi Lags72 - I feel very confident in my statement. If Djokovic loses to Federer then he hasn't really recovered. He may have recovered, but not really recovered. You have to realise that Roger Federer is really old now, not just old, but really old. It can't be too long before he will need a zimmer frame.

Meanwhile the great British hope Kyle Edmund loses just a little too easily to Andreas Seppi in the third set: 6-3 5-7 6-2. Seppi who is now 34 years old, was once ranked as high as 18 but is now moving into the twilight of his career although he has been playing well recently.

The great Dimitrov seems still to be playing scratchily with a three set win over Monsieur Herbert.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by lags72 on Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:22 pm

@ No name Bertie

Oh sure .... Federer really is a tennis pensioner, we all know that ; and normal people of his age have traditionally migrated to the Seniors Tour by now - or left the pro sport completely as active partcipants.

The fact remains, however, that he is still remarkably tricky to beat. We’re talking about a guy who has been ranked either Number 1, or Number Two (at worst !) these past few months.

Rafa - even when, (by his own assessment) playing at a very high level in the first quarter of the 2017 season, couldn’t manage to take him down. Plus  ...... over a total of 76 matches contested by Fed during 2017, and 2018 to date, only six guys have scored wins against him.

My fundamental point is that I suspect even the OAP Federer still has it in him to beat Djokovic ; and the reverse is undoubtedly true. BUT, more importantly, a loss suffered by one at the hands of the other hardly points to respective disaster for either of them. And there is no shame in any such defeats. These are closely-matched players when all said & done.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by MrInvisible on Wed Apr 18, 2018 4:50 pm

Equally another angle on the Djokovic return could be that he's the one who stops Nadal racking up another title at Roland Garros. Djokovic had a good close fought (but 2 set) win over Coric today, which I think is quite a big marker of what shape he's in at this tournament, given how well Coric has been playing this year.

Meanwhile, Nishikori gets another win on his comeback, there's a routine win for Nadal and Edmund loses to a qualifier, but an illustrious one in the shape of Seppi.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Thu Apr 19, 2018 1:35 am

The last time Roger Federer beat Novak Djokovic in a Grand Slam tournament was back in June 2012.

Djokovic vs Federer Head to Head: Grand Slams
Year Slam Stage Winner Score
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2016Australian OpenSFNovak Djokovic61 62 36 63
2015US OpenFinalNovak Djokovic64 57 64 64
2015WimbledonFinalNovak Djokovic76 67 64 63
2014WimbledonFinalNovak Djokovic67 64 76 57 64
2012WimbledonSFRoger Federer63 36 64 63
2012Roland GarrosSFNovak Djokovic64 75 63
2011US OpenSFNovak Djokovic67 46 63 62 75
2011Roland GarrosSFRoger Federer76 63 36 76
2011Australian OpenSFNovak Djokovic76 75 64
2010US OpenSFNovak Djokovic57 61 57 62 75
2009US OpenSFRoger Federer76 75 75
2008US OpenSFRoger Federer63 57 75 62
2008Australian OpenSFNovak Djokovic75 63 76
2007US OpenFinalRoger Federer76 76 64
2007Australian OpenR16Roger Federer62 75 63

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by sirfredperry on Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:51 am

Thiem-Djoko match today could be interesting. Novak needed 10 MPs against Coric yesterday and will have been glad to come through.
   Only real ultimate interest, though, is in who gets to the final to face Rafa. There's an air of inevitability about the European clay-court season. Will be a big surprise if Rafa doesn't clean up again.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:54 pm

Djokovic is being well and truly tested.  Tournament intensity cannot be underestimated for someone hoping to find his way back from such a significant injury.  I suppose a few months on the challenger circuit is out of the question for the likes of Djokovic?  Same could be applied to Andy Murray and Wawrinka.

And Djokovic takes the first set 7-6 against potential future RG champion Thiem.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by lags72 on Thu Apr 19, 2018 2:16 pm

sirfredperry wrote:............................
   Only real ultimate interest, though, is in who gets to the final to face Rafa. There's an air of inevitability about the European clay-court season. Will be a big surprise if Rafa doesn't clean up again.

Couldn’t agree more. He will clean up, as per usual.

Despite the many, many injuries and layoffs, Rafa somehow manages to schedule them all ever so carefully so that he never misses the clay swing. IIRC (?) there has been just the one (significant) exception - a withdrawal from RG after only the first round or two, a few years back.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by MrInvisible on Thu Apr 19, 2018 2:27 pm

Thiem levels, now 1 set apiece. Arguably this is the most interesting match of the claycourt season too far. I do acknowledge that Nadal is favourite to win Roland Garros and the claycourt Masters this year but I do feel either Thiem or a resurgent Djokovic is capable of beating him. Will also be watching Nishikori's comeback with interest as he has pushed Nadal on clay before. Other than these players and possibly Alex Zverev (who was well beaten by him in the recent Davis Cup tie) I don't see anyone else giving Nadal much of a challenge on clay this year.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:18 pm

Thiem wins 6-7 6-2 6-3.  I hope Djokovic hasn't strained his elbow, I hope he lost because of a lack of tournament fitness, a level of rustiness in his timing.  Well done to Thiem - he continues to demonstrate his potential as a clay courtier.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by slashermcguirk on Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:39 pm

Another defeat for Djokovic. Crikey that is more matches lost by April than he used to lose in a full calendar year! A couple of good wins this week and then goes a set up today and somehow goes on to lose it.

Hugely frustrating but at least on the positive side it wasn't a woeful showing like Indian Wells and Miami. To be fair Thiem is no mug but having gone up a set, Djokovic should have the experience to see it out.

Until Djokovic finds his serve again, he has no chance of winning the big tournaments. His serve has declined beyond recognition, he hardly ever gets free points off it and the pace of it is so slow. While he says he is playing with less pain in his elbow, his serve has been the big shot that has gone from his armoury. He also makes far more errors off the back hand wing.

It is a long road back for him but if I was to take any positives, his forehand looks quite solid and his return is improving again.

still a shadow of the player he was. Really hope he finds the answer and at least today I saw some positives as up until this week, there were few if any

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:24 pm

If Djokovic was fully recovered then he would have the same serving action that served him so well as in the past.  If he has changed his serving action and is continuing with it, then that suggests his elbow is not the same as it was - or he is too fearful that his elbow problems will return.  He is probably at an age where he won't be able to change his serving action and be as successful as he was in the past.  The same has been said of Andy Murray and his serving action - but that was with his second serve - and there the problem seemed to be more psychological than technique (because his first serve was a potent weapon).

And in all of this there is barely a mention of Wawrinka and his recovery. I had heard he played in a few tournaments recently but was knocked out early.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:29 pm

Hmmm it seems that Raonic is injured again - Cilic gets a walkover victory.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by sirfredperry on Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:01 pm

Thiem, a good player on clay, was always likely to be a bit of a handful for Djoko. Let's hope for Raonic's sake that his injury is not too serious. He rarely manages to get thru a season without being hors de combat at some stage.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:19 pm

It feels like there is a lull in tennis - I am now waiting for the next (new) generation to impose themselves, the next star, the next exciting player.  Instead we have two fading gods in Federer and Nadal responsible for bringing in this present era of tennis but behind them are the ruins of worn elbows, corroded hips, cracked knees, seized up wrists, and behind them a rabble of false pretenders, the weak minded, the non-disciplined, and then beyond them the next generation not yet strong enough to break through.  And then there is the fear that maybe this new generation will never have the strength to break through - they will inherit whatever the fading gods decide to leave behind, and we will then be in the next era, the era of mediocrity.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:33 pm

To continue with this oasis of reflection.  Associated with the rise of Federer and Nadal and the Djokovics and the Murrays was the rise of a social media following, cliques, groups, hustle and bustle, and with the gradual demise of these tennis stars and with nothing to replace them with so too did those social media communities decline - from the BBC 606, to MyTennisLounge, 606v2, and the various splinter groups that have all since withered and faded.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by whocares on Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:10 pm

No name Bertie wrote:It feels like there is a lull in tennis - I am now waiting for the next (new) generation to impose themselves, the next star, the next exciting player.  Instead we have two fading gods in Federer and Nadal responsible for bringing in this present era of tennis but behind them are the ruins of worn elbows, corroded hips, cracked knees, seized up wrists, and behind them a rabble of false pretenders, the weak minded, the non-disciplined, and then beyond them the next generation not yet strong enough to break through.  And then there is the fear that maybe this new generation will never have the strength to break through - they will inherit whatever the fading gods decide to leave behind, and we will then be in the next era, the era of mediocrity.

That’s a great post No Name Bertie. However after witnessing a decade of great tennis with perhaps the best modern tennis players ever, aren’t we setting our standards a bit too high now? I do remember (not that much granted) when the Bruguera and Muster of this world were battling for a slam in RG and the standard back then wasn’t that high as well but we didn’t call it « mediocre ».

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by MrInvisible on Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:47 pm

I personally think we are in a transitional era and fully expect us to have different year end no. 1s for each of the next 3 years. I think whenever Federer and Nadal finally decide to call it a day they will be clearly missed by tournament directors and broadcasters everywhere. However, we have been spoilt over the years and tennis did have lulls before e.g. after the Borg/McEnroe era. For me one of the dullest periods was actually the late 1990s (at Wimbledon at least) when we had a lot of servefests - as good as Sampras was on the grass (and I acknowledge he was a real force on the surface) a lot of his Wimbledon wins weren't the most captivating.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by CaledonianCraig on Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:51 pm

whocares wrote:
No name Bertie wrote:It feels like there is a lull in tennis - I am now waiting for the next (new) generation to impose themselves, the next star, the next exciting player.  Instead we have two fading gods in Federer and Nadal responsible for bringing in this present era of tennis but behind them are the ruins of worn elbows, corroded hips, cracked knees, seized up wrists, and behind them a rabble of false pretenders, the weak minded, the non-disciplined, and then beyond them the next generation not yet strong enough to break through.  And then there is the fear that maybe this new generation will never have the strength to break through - they will inherit whatever the fading gods decide to leave behind, and we will then be in the next era, the era of mediocrity.

That’s a great post No Name Bertie. However after witnessing a decade of great tennis with perhaps the best modern tennis players ever, aren’t we setting our standards a bit too high now? I do remember (not that much granted) when the Bruguera and Muster of this world were battling for a slam in RG and the standard back then wasn’t that high as well but we didn’t call it « mediocre ».

Correct whocares.

Tennis fans have been truly spoilt over the last (almost) two decades. We've seen great rivalries between players ripping up the record books with great supremacy shown on grass and clay as well as on hard courts. To expect that era to be replaced by a similar-type era or even close was always going to be well nigh impossible as players of the ilk of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic only come around once in a blue moon and we have been blessed with three at one time.
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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by Henman Bill on Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:19 pm

Interesting discussion all.

Some signs that Djokovic may be trending upwards then, but let's see the next tournament. I'd suspect he is no 2 favourite for the French Open. However, you think he needs Rafa to suffer a shock defeat or an injury perhaps. A bit early in the season to speculate.

I think if Djokovic gets back to the 2015/2016 level, or even perhaps the 2012-2014 level, he probably would beat the 2017-2018 Federer more often than not.

I'm waiting for the women's game to go up a level and take the chance to get on par with the men's but so far nothing really. The 20 and 50 ranked players seemed to have got a lot better over the years but a really outstanding player to drive things forward...? Serena Williams obviously, but I am talking about young players for the next 5-10 years.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by sirfredperry on Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:46 am

Yes, it's going to be a bit of a downer when the Big Four fade away into the sunset. But new favourites will emerge. It often seems like the end of the world when a much-loved player hangs up his racket. In soccer, you get popular players moving on but new stars come on the scene. (Think merely what Salah has been like for Liverpool fans who were pining for the likes of Suarez and Coutinho).
  Besides, Fed hasn't packed it in yet. Murray is on the way back. Djoko, I think, will come again and Nadal is.....number one at the moment.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by Nathaniel Jacobs on Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:21 pm

Rafael Nadal thrashed Dominic Thiem 6-0 6-2 and send out an ominous message ahead of the French open.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by slashermcguirk on Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:14 pm

I think tennis is going to struggle when the current top players leave the scene. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are three of the greatest players of all time and we are just so lucky to have been able to witness their battles over the past 10 -15 years. An honourable mention for the likes of Murray, Wawrinka and others too who on their day could beat anybody. It has been such a joy to watch all these guys battle it out and I just cannot see a generation as strong again in my lifetime.

While Federer vs Nadal is the rivalry that most people have got behind and been captivated by, I actually think the rivalries that Djokovic had with both Federer and Nadal were equally as good if not better in that they were less one sided. It was so hard to call a winner every time Djokovic faced Federer and Nadal whereas when Federer and Nadal met you almost knew that Nadal was going to win, last year was an exception obviously.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by slashermcguirk on Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:17 pm

On a separate note, what the hell happened to Thiem today??? 6-0 6-2, was he injured? If not that is a pretty pathetic performance to lose 9 games in a row. I knew Nadal would win but I would have expected much more from Thiem given his clay court pedigree, maybe he was exhausted from the Djokovic battle. Still these young lads really need to step it up now, taking one big scalp and then non existent in the next match

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by sirfredperry on Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:09 am

Really dreadful result for Thiem, although Rafa was, apparently, in terrific form. Whatever Dimi does today, surely he'll get more than two games.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:23 am

It seems to me that Federer is about 30% of the player he once was and Nadal about 50%, but this is enough to beat the current generation of players - although I think Federer is becoming borderline as to how long he can keep going.   Federer's youthful vigour and snap have gone and we are left with a more tactical, careful, energy preserving player.  Similarly wear and tear has caused Nadal to lose most of his youthful vigour - shown most clearly by his performance on grass.  In general there seems to be less spin on the ball and he looks to shorten points now.

Though Federer has declined more than Nadal, Federer has become more successful over Nadal recently (off clay), because Nadal has lost precisely those killer aspects at the top end of his game, that Federer had no answer for.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by Nathaniel Jacobs on Sat Apr 21, 2018 4:26 pm

Rafael Nadal marched into the Monte Carlo final for the third consecutive year, and twelfth time overall. Saw off Dimitrov 6-4 6-1.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Sat Apr 21, 2018 5:33 pm

Nishikori in another three setter but beats A Zverev to reach the final. I expect the final will be a match too far for Nishikori and will be easily beaten by Nadal - but this is very promising for Nishikori - especially given that I nominated him to be the next player to win a maiden grand slam.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by sirfredperry on Sat Apr 21, 2018 8:38 pm

Well, Dimi got five games which ain't much better than Thiem. Really, there's nobody who can give Rafa a decent game on clay. He's not even taking much out of himself with these easy wins.
   I see the draw for Barcelona puts Rafa in the same quarter as Nishi and Djoko. Let's hope, for the sake of competition, that one or other of them can at least extend Rafa a bit.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Sun Apr 22, 2018 7:11 am

Fed Cup - Johanna Konta (#23) performing surprisingly well has beaten Kurumi Nara (#100) and Naomi Osaka (#22) in straight sets, but Heather Watson (#77) lost to Naomi Osaka in straight sets, and is now one set down against Kurumi Nara after a first set tie-breaker and after having led 5-3.  Kurumi Nara now goes 3-0 up in the second set and Heather Watson is looking beaten already in terms of her demeanour and movement.

This match is for a place in the World Group - the British Girls haven't been at that level for 25 years.

Update: Heather Watson eventually loses in straight sets to Kurumi Nara 7-6 6-4.  Either Watson lacks the "bottle" for high pressure matches or lacks the quality - it is probably both.

So now the tie has been levelled up 2-2, it all depends on the doubles match.

Erratum: This is a play-off for World Group II - the second division of World Tennis for Females.  Britain is currently in the third division of World Tennis for Females - called Europe/Africa Zone Group I

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by sirfredperry on Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:15 am

GB loses Fed Cup tie. Watson, sadly, ALWAYS seems to lose when it's a tight match.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by sirfredperry on Sun Apr 22, 2018 3:44 pm

Rafa takes the Monte Carlo crown for something like the 32nd time with a 3 and 2 win over Nishi. Surely even for Rafa fans this is getting a wee bit boring now - and there's plenty of the clay-court season left.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by laverfan on Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:07 pm

Congratulations to Nadal on the umpteenth win @MC.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by Haddie-nuff on Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:21 pm

sirfredperry wrote:Rafa takes the Monte Carlo crown for something like the 32nd time with a 3 and 2 win over Nishi. Surely even for Rafa fans this is getting a wee bit boring now - and there's plenty of the clay-court season left.

No not really.. no more boring that Roger fans get bored seeing him win .. everyone will be rooting for him to win Wimbledon again I bet. Im definitely going to be bored when the big 4 retire that's for sure Wink Ill crawl back behind my sofa now

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by sirfredperry on Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:21 am

H-Nuff: Of course, if Rafa continues his clay-court dominance this year and Fed does well on grass, the two of them will probably be one and two at the end of 2018.
   I guess the boredom factor really does kick in if fans aren't keen on BOTH Rafa and Rog. But at this rate it could be many months before either of the Big Two are toppled from the top spots.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:35 am

It has been said by several for a long period of time that Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic introduced a very physical (baseline) style of tennis, that was highly effective, and that didn't require much talent to execute.  

However, given that none of the subsequent generations of tennis player have come anywhere remotely near to the success (early & otherwise) of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, this demonstrates that Nadal & Djokovic must also have been uber-talented skill-wise - as it is clear a childhood and teenage-hood trying to reproduce the physical tennis of Nadal or Djokovic has failed to produce a generation of Nadal or Djokovic clones.  

Clearly therefore the evidence demonstrates these two must be very unique skill-wise despite their brand of tennis being describable as "highly physical and repetitive".

As I have mentioned I see both Federer and Nadal as shadows of their former youthful & physically exuberant selves - but this is still enough for them to be numbers #1 and #2 in the world.  However, to me, they are like wines that are tasting a little watery and bland compared to their former days, the beluga caviar has been replaced with cheese and biscuits - and this is my perception looking onto todays tennis.

As for the women's tennis - that is long dead for me, with the introduction and spread of the shriekers and assortment of weird sounds - but that is associated with my own personal aural sensitivities.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by laverfan on Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:52 am

It would be good to see Djokovic and Murray back in mix soon.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by MrInvisible on Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:47 am

Regarding players like Nadal and Djokovic not being 'skilled' or 'talented' that's clearly a load of nonsense. There's no way of getting at the elite of such a competitive sport on physical attributes alone. Aesthetically Nadal, Djokovic and to a certain extent Murray, are not my favourite players to watch, but each of them has unique skills and fantastic talent. Nadal I admire greatly but to be honest I don't especially enjoy watching many of his claycourt matches (though I find it more fun to watch him on grass and faster surfaces). However, that forehand is a force of nature and he has 'good hands' at the net where he can display a delicate touch. Djokovic when on song has such a precise game in just about all compartments whilst Murray is a master of tempos, spins and angles, although this isn't always apparent in all his matches and some of his contests can be bit dreary at times.

I will always enjoy watching Wawrinka more on clay than Nadal, but that's a subjective opinion based on aesthetics, and it would be a stretch to claim the former is 'more talented' because he has prettier shots (in my opinion).

On Nadal I think because of his long-standing dominance on clay we are almost underestimating his achievements on the surface. Before Nadal came along we had relatively few dominant multiple champions at Roland Garros other than Borg - clay is such a tough surface - physically and mentally, but to produce the goods on the surface year after year and into your 30s is an astonishing achievement. One could argue that we maybe don't have as much strength in depth on clay as we used to, but still, to be so dominant on the surface year after year is unprecedented.

The way that Nadal swept aside the opposition at Monte Carlo suggests he's as strong a favourite as ever for Roland Garros. Based on what happened at Monte Carlo, I now think that unless Djokovic recaptures his old magic, winning Rome and the remodelled serve isn't an issue that Nadal will win Roland Garros with ease this year.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:13 pm

I have to say I have been very disappointed in this years performances of Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin - the ATP End Of Year Tournament winner and runner-up for 2017.  

I had thought that tournament was David Goffin's breakthrough moment.  But clearly I was mistaken.  I won't say anything about Dimitrov - having read other peoples comments about him - he has a history of disappointing his fans and potential fans.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:27 pm

MrInvisible wrote:Regarding players like Nadal and Djokovic not being 'skilled' or 'talented' that's clearly a load of nonsense.  There's no way of getting at the elite of such a competitive sport on physical attributes alone.  ...

On Nadal I think because of his long-standing dominance on clay we are almost underestimating his achievements on the surface.  Before Nadal came along we had relatively few dominant multiple champions at Roland Garros other than Borg - clay is such a tough surface - physically and mentally, but to produce the goods on the surface year after year and into your 30s is an astonishing achievement.  One could argue that we maybe don't have as much strength in depth on clay as we used to, but still, to be so dominant on the surface year after year is unprecedented.

...

I would like to add that there was also a lot of talk in the past about all the surfaces being very similar to explain Nadal's growing success off-clay, where it looked for one moment that Nadal would dominate on grass and possibly the hard courts.  Maybe there was some aspect of "nonsense" in that talk also? 

There certainly has been some evolution or maybe revolution between "serve & volleyers" and "baseliners" but looking at performance levels in the four grand slam tournaments - there is still evidence of wide differences between the surfaces and tournaments.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:49 pm

Djokovic loses in his first match in the Barcelona tournament to Klizan (#140) 6-2 1-6 6-3.

Nishikori retires hurt after losing the first set 6-3 in his first match in the Barcelona tournament against Garcia-Lopez (#69). So he should be penalised his match fee. Nishikori was appearing after a short turn around after reaching last weeks Masters final in Monte Carlo. Now my initial suspicion was that's him "done" - but he is reporting a thigh injury rather than a reappearance of his long term wrist injury.  Now I had suggested that these tennis players returning from long term injury should spend some time on the Challenger circuit building up match fitness and tournament fitness.  It provides a less intense more gradual development back to a top level fitness and endurance.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by sirfredperry on Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:41 pm

Poor result for Djoko. His first-serve percentage was very high in the middle set but dropped away in the decider. Is it match rustiness with him, or is he still short of full, or fullish, fitness?

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:55 pm

sirfredperry wrote:Poor result for Djoko. His first-serve percentage was very high in the middle set but dropped away in the decider. Is it match rustiness with him, or is he still short of full, or fullish, fitness?
slashermcguirk comment above suggests one significant reason is that Djokovic has changed his serving action which has resulted in a less effective serving - which puts pressure on the rest of his game.  

I am wondering whether this new Djokovic serving action will in of itself result in a less effective Djokovic.  

In the past Djokovic's returning ability and ground strokes were very formidable - and it seems that this part of his game is awry - which maybe due to a number of reasons - one of which is match / tournament fitness.  

However my primary concern surrounds Djokovic's new serving action - I don't know whether this is a precautionary measure or whether it reveals a true decline in the functionality of his elbow. If the latter then we may never get Djokovic back - at least the imperial all conquering Djokovic of the past.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by MrInvisible on Fri Apr 27, 2018 2:28 pm

Thiem has been beaten quite convincingly in Barcelona in straight sets by Tsitsipas - wonder if it was a case of the young Greek playing to v high level, a subpar performance from Thiem or a bit of both.

Elsewhere Nadal recorded his 40th consecutive claycourt set won in his match at Barcelona, and I've just realised there is a court called 'Rafa Nadal' court at the tournament! Can't be many players who've had the privilege of playing on a court named after them whilst they were still playing on the main tour.

Another win for Goffin, and a v tight win for Dimitrov over Jaziri. Neither Goffin nor Dimitrov convincing me of their form at the moment though I do feel they should probably be able to reach 4th round/quarters at Roland Garros, given the lack of depth amongst claycourt specialists.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

Post by No name Bertie on Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:07 pm

Tsitsipas is only 19 years old and seems to be progressing well over the past year and is currently ranked 63.  So another to add to the potential list after his thumping of Thiem 6-3 6-2 in the quarter-final.

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Re: Spring 2018 claycourt season

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