The Clay-court Season - Run up to the French 2019

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Post by sirfredperry on Tue 09 Apr 2019, 9:07 am

It's clay court time, with Rafa raring to go on his favourite surface and Roger playing on the dirt for the first time for three years.

As I do every year, I'm making Rafa favourite for RG and also expect him to have his usual good run at the other big tourneys. There could be a few changes in the men's top ten, with Zverev and Thiem both defending a stack of points.

At the very top, Djoko has a chance to extend his lead, knowing that come June it will be his turn to defend a huge points haul.

A look at the women's rankings shows just how close it is at the top, with the lead likely to change hands a lot over the season.

Kyle Edmund has already chalked up a first-round win on clay in Marrakech. Bad draw for him as he now has to play Tsonga.

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Post by laverfan on Tue 09 Apr 2019, 11:44 pm

Thiem at #5 is a dangerous floater. I expect Djokovic to do well at RG.

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Post by No name Bertie on Wed 10 Apr 2019, 3:24 am

To be honest I am just really interested in whether Nadal is going to win his 12th RG title (and 18th slam) or whether Djokovic is going to get his second year round "grand slam of slams" - 4 in a row (and his 16th slam), to see how well Federer does - and hope none of them get an injury, to see if any of the young pretenders will step up (Thiem et al).

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Post by No name Bertie on Wed 10 Apr 2019, 8:25 am

British tennis player Tara Moore saves match point at 0-6 0-5 down before beating Jessika Ponchet 0-6 7-6 6-3 at the ITF World Tour event in Sunderland. She is 26 years old and ranked #479 in the world having been ranked at #145 in May 2017.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/47871628

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Post by sirfredperry on Wed 10 Apr 2019, 9:02 pm

My fears for Edmund were unfortunately realised. He lost in straight sets to Tsonga.

I see 2017 French Open champion Ostapenko is having a tough time of it. Beaten by a very lowly-ranked qualifier in Bogota.

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Post by sirfredperry on Fri 12 Apr 2019, 8:57 am

Bad result for Cameron Norrie, beaten in Houston by Tipsarevic. Even worse result for A Zverev, who lost to 21-yr-old Spaniard Jaume Munar in Marrakech.

Zverev seems to be doing a Dimitrov, in that he wins the year-end 02 event and then has a poor season.

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Post by sirfredperry on Mon 15 Apr 2019, 12:56 pm

Terrific tournament win for young Chilean Christian Garin in Houston. An even younger player - 17-yr-old Amanda Anisimova - also took a title at the weekend and moves up to 54 in the rankings.
Stan the Man is thru to the second round at MC where main-round play began yesterday (Sunday). RBA got thru today and now plays.....Rafa.

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Post by No name Bertie on Mon 15 Apr 2019, 4:03 pm

I assume Zverev is still being coached by Ivan Lendl? My own thoughts were that A Zverev would reach a limit to his ability / acheivements - that he wasn't someone of multi-slam winning ability - mainly due to physical limitations. He is still young so can prove me wrong.

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Post by sirfredperry on Tue 16 Apr 2019, 1:06 pm

NNB - What's let A Zverev down in the last couple of years has not been his non-winning Slam record but his inability to get even beyond the last eight in a Slam.
But, as you say, he has time on his side. He certainly showed UK fans what he can do in winning the O2 event.
After Edmund lost to Schwartzman in MC yesterday, Cameron Norrie has won today.

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Post by sirfredperry on Wed 17 Apr 2019, 8:00 am

Djoko squeezed thru in long three-setter with Kohlshreiber who always manages to give the top players a good game.
Stan the Man managed to lose after winning the first eight games, while Cilic's horror run continued with a three-set defeat.

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Post by sirfredperry on Wed 17 Apr 2019, 3:21 pm

Rafa starts with a 1 and 1 win over RBA. Nishi is out and Cameron Norrie is thru to the third round with a straight-sets win over Fucsovics.

A Zverev fought back from a break down in the second set to bt Felix A-A. Tsitsipas also thru'.

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Post by sirfredperry on Thu 18 Apr 2019, 5:41 pm

Good wins for Rafa and Djoko in MC but Zverev and Thiem both beaten.


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Post by Nathaniel Jacobs on Fri 19 Apr 2019, 2:46 pm

Daniil Medvedev beats Novak Djokovic 6-3 4-6 6-2.

Lajovic beats Sonego 6-4 7-5

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Post by Nathaniel Jacobs on Sat 20 Apr 2019, 2:45 pm

Dusan Lajovic beat Daniil Medvedev 7-5 6-1 to reach maiden masters 1000 final

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Post by laverfan on Sat 20 Apr 2019, 4:21 pm

Fognini (despite a minor melt down) beats Nadal 6-4, 6-2.

Two new Monte Carlo finalists! The Clay-court Season - Run up to the French 2019 3845856932

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Post by sirfredperry on Sat 20 Apr 2019, 5:40 pm

Fantastic result for Fognini. Although the Italian's recent record on clay was awful, he's a little magician on the surface when on song, so if anyone could upset Rafa was it him. Still a big surprise, though.
Looking at the score without actually seeing any of the match, I wonder if Rafa was injured. Until he fought back in game six of that second set, he'd only won something like six points in five games. May be he won't play Barcelona next week.

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Post by Turron on Sat 20 Apr 2019, 6:19 pm

Losing to Fabio will hurt unless Nadal was desparate to take a holiday. Fognini was being held together by duct tape and elastic bandages so Nadal can hardly claim that he was beaten by an opponent at peak fitness!

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Post by No name Bertie on Sat 20 Apr 2019, 11:52 pm

I have to now assume that old timers Nadal and Djokovic with various physical frailties (wear and tear and coming back from severe injuries) now see the various pre-grand slam tournaments as warm up exercises to build match fitness and sharpness so that they peak for the slams. However the fall off of Nadal against Fognini is surprising and suggests some underlying issue that Nadal didn't want to push.

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Post by sirfredperry on Sun 21 Apr 2019, 8:01 am

Rafa will play Barcelona this week so his problems may not be down to injury. He has said that this was one of his worst matches on clay.

Every year, with the possible exception of 2015, Rafa has got himself into peak condition to garner huge points tallies during the clay-court season (CCS). If he was not feeling too great, perhaps he shouldn't have played IW this year. Last year he skipped IW and Miami and then had his usual stellar CCS.

Then there is Djoko who wiped the floor with Rafa in the AO final but has done little else this season. If you chuck in the struggles of A Zverev, plus Cilic's terrible start to the year, everything is a bit strange at the moment.


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Post by No name Bertie on Sun 21 Apr 2019, 6:06 pm

Well done to the British women - after years of heartbreak in falling at the very last hurdle to gain promotion to World Group II of the Fed Cup - they have finally done it.  It is the first time they have been at this level since 26 years ago.  Key to this seems to be the rise of Katie Boultier - joining Johanna Konta as a top level tennis player.  Katie Boultier is now Britains second ranked player after Johanna Konta and maybe she has the ability and mental strength to succeed where Heather Watson ultimately failed (although Watson has been good enough to make a good living out of tennis - with money in the bank to survive the lean times).
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/live/tennis/47969390

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Post by sirfredperry on Sun 21 Apr 2019, 6:29 pm

Boulter had three MPs and had been 4-0 up in the final set of her first match before, tearfully, losing. Big effort from her today, especially after losing the first set, being a break down in the second set and having back trouble.

Konta was also a set down against Putintseva today before winning. She has been immense in this Fed Cup run.

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Post by sirfredperry on Tue 23 Apr 2019, 5:12 pm

Another terrible result for A Zverev - beaten by lucky loser Jarry in a final-set tiebreak having taken a WC into Barcelona. Not quite sure what the matter is with the German at the moment.

Watched some highlights of the Rafa-Fognini semi in MC. Rafa didn't seem to be really going for it until he was 3MPs down right at the end. Later he said it was about the worst he'd ever played on clay.

Rafa could face about-to-retire David Ferrer in Barcelona. Ferrer bt M Zverev comfortably today and could meet Rafa in round three. Just Madrid left for Ferrer in this farewell tour.

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Post by sirfredperry on Wed 24 Apr 2019, 10:47 am

Just been announced that Turin will be getting the year-end championship on a five-year deal starting 2021.

Pity about the 02 but London has had a good run at this. Djoko, for one, has been pressing for a change of venue and this may have been part of his row with Chris Kermode which has seen the ousting of the Brit as ATP supremo.

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Post by Nathaniel Jacobs on Wed 24 Apr 2019, 11:27 am

Seems an odd choice to select Turin, when Rome already has one of the best events on tour. Would've liked to have seen the ATP try to grow different markets such as Africa or maybe India

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Post by sirfredperry on Wed 24 Apr 2019, 7:19 pm

NJ - Turin, apparently, has a 15,000 capacity which may have been the reason it was chosen.

Rafa eventually won a long match today, having dropped the first set against L. Mayer. He now plays David Ferrer in the Duracell Bunny's penultimate tournament. Rafa, I learned today, has never lost consecutive clay-court matches. Amazing stat - although if you think about it, it's hardly surprising given his unbelievable success of this surface.

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Post by Nathaniel Jacobs on Wed 24 Apr 2019, 11:29 pm

sirfredperry wrote:NJ - Turin, apparently, has a 15,000 capacity which may have been the reason it was chosen.

Rafa eventually won a long match today, having dropped the first set against L. Mayer. He now plays David Ferrer in the Duracell Bunny's penultimate tournament. Rafa, I learned today, has never lost consecutive clay-court matches. Amazing stat - although if you think about it, it's hardly surprising given his unbelievable success of this surface.
I'll check out the arena online, thanks for the heads up

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Post by sirfredperry on Thu 25 Apr 2019, 4:16 pm

Having seen off Zverev, lucky loser Jarry has now taken out Dimi after a third-set tiebreak. Rafa is close to victory over Ferrer, while Nishi and Medvedev are also thru.


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Post by sirfredperry on Fri 26 Apr 2019, 9:03 am

Cilic, who is having a horror time, lost again yesterday in Budapest. Apparently Cilic was suffering from injury earlier in the season and this may account for his terrible results. He's now lost six of the last seven.

Interesting result in the women's where Azarenka beat Pliskova in Stuttgart. Osaka got thru a potentially tricky first match and will stay top for at least another week.

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Post by sirfredperry on Sat 27 Apr 2019, 5:46 pm

Thiem knocks out Rafa in Barca semi. Just looking at the scores, Rafa did not earn a BP until towards the end and also had some fairly poor second-serve percentages.

Admittedly Rafa has now lost to two guys who are fairly handy on clay. But if he carries on like this I might be forced to declare, for the first time, that he is not favourite for the French.

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Post by lags72 on Sat 27 Apr 2019, 5:57 pm

Rafa may not be a straightforward ‘shoe-in’ for RG this year, but equally I’m not sure whose chances would actually be stronger than his.

To me there is no great complex mystery or surprise about his loss in MC and now at Barcelona : I just think he is finding - in exactly the same way Federer has / is - that Father Time will eventually catch up with you. Perhaps it’s affecting Rafa a couple of years or so sooner than it did Fed (ie. allowing for the difference in their respective ages).

‘Twas ever thus in the world of elite sport.

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Post by No name Bertie on Sun 28 Apr 2019, 12:49 am

Federer (37) turned pro in 1998 whilst Nadal (32) turned pro in 2001 - so only three years difference.  Furthermore Nadal has likely more mileage and stress on the clock than Federer - because of the way Nadal plays. Whereas Federer is aging due to arthritis and the like, Nadal is aging because of all the impact damage.  That said Nadal's loss is a bit of a surprise but Thiem has beaten Nadal before in non-slam clay tournaments.

I wonder if Djokovic could repeat his four in a row.  I am not convinced that the Djokovic of today has anywhere near the physical toughness of the Djokovic of 2011 - 2016.

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Post by sirfredperry on Wed 01 May 2019, 9:27 am

Another disappointing defeat for Kyle Edmund in Munich. He's not having a very good time of it at the moment.

Konta came back from the brink against Wang in Rabat, saving three MPs and then winning after being 3-1 in the final set.

Lots of stuff at present about ATP board member Justin Gimelstob after former US star sentenced for assault. Stan the Man wants him off the board. Andy Murray has also spoken out. Decision expected after May 14 vote.

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Post by sirfredperry on Sat 04 May 2019, 8:58 am

Zverev 's troubles continue as he loses in three - after again squandering MPs - to Chilean Garin who is having a good season.

In Estoril, Monfils was beaten in the quarter final by 19-yr-old Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (sounds like a 1960s' soccer half-back line-up).

Konta is thru to the final in Rabat after seeing off Tomljanovic and must now have a good chance of taking the title.

Madrid starts next week with Fed due to feature.

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Post by No name Bertie on Sat 04 May 2019, 10:42 am

sirfredperry wrote:... Konta is thru to the final in Rabat after seeing off Tomljanovic and must now have a good chance of taking the title ...
It seems to me Konta is having a bounce following her Fed Cup performances.  I recall Andy Murray also having a bounce following his Davis Cup exploits in 2015.  It seems to me Konta had been suffering a relative loss of form and a relative loss of confidence leading up to the Fed Cup play-offs.

With the Davis Cup it seemed to me that John Lloyd as Team Captain tended to sap the confidence of players whereas Leon Smith tended to energise the players often leading to bounces beyond the Davis Cup.

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Post by sirfredperry on Sat 04 May 2019, 6:34 pm

Konta beaten in final despite taking first set. A pity.

Zverev's conqueror Garin thru to final in Munich and will have the edge as his opponent will have to play twice on Sunday due to rain today.

Fed has been drawn in Djoko's half in Madrid where Djoko could meet Dimi early on. You'd normally make Rafa a firm favourite here, but this year? Who knows? This is David Ferrer's last tournament. What a career.

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Post by MrInvisible on Tue 07 May 2019, 3:48 pm

Wanted to put in a mention for Tsitsipas' win in Estoril. Not the biggest of tournaments, but he's now won 3 titles on 3 different surfaces (outdoor hard, indoor and now clay), which bodes well for the future.

So far an unusual claycourt season. Fognini deservedly won a Masters title (a player of his talent not to do so in his career wouldn't be right), but halfway through we have v little to go on for Roland Garros - Nadal underperforming by his usual exemplary standards, Thiem picking up Barcelona title but suffering couple of disappointing losses in other claycourt tournaments, Djokovic v quiet and Zverev in woeful form. Been disappointed in Coric but Medvedev looks good.

I'd be extremely surprised if none of Djokovic, Nadal or Thiem win either Madrid or Rome, and really, we need to see how these tournaments pan out before assessing who the favourite is for Roland Garros (based solely on past exploits rather than current form, I put Nadal as slight favourite, but only just).

No-one's expecting much from Federer but he could be a danger for Djokovic, Thiem (but surely not Nadal) or Zverev at Roland Garros.

Garin will be someone to avoid in 1st round - what a claycourt season he's had so far!


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Post by sirfredperry on Tue 07 May 2019, 5:48 pm

Cilic - hitherto having a nightmare season - has finally turned it around, saving four MPs in his first match in Madrid and winning again today.

Medvedev, somewhat surprisingly, is already out in Madrid. And as I write, David Ferrer has just beaten RBA in what will be his final tournament. Now plays A Zverev and the way things are going may even win. What a trooper.

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Post by sirfredperry on Tue 07 May 2019, 8:45 pm

Federer bt Gasquet in just 52 minutes on his return to clay after a three-year absence. Plays either Fucsovics or Monfils next.

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Post by sirfredperry on Thu 09 May 2019, 5:27 pm

Fed thru against Monfils for his 1,200th tour win. Not bad really. He took the first set 6-0 but Monfils fought back and was 4-1 up in the final set.

Later Fed had to save two MPs before coming thru. Next up is Thiem which will be tough.


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Post by lags72 on Fri 10 May 2019, 5:45 pm

Federer and Thiem locked at one set all in their QF, after a titanic TB battle in the second.

Thiem had struggled to live with a highly aggressive Fed in the opening set, but then found his game and power early in the second. Federer looked poised to see out a victory in straights when leading the TB 3-0, but Thiem came back strongly to take the match into a decider.

It’s been high quality tennis from both, little to separate them at this stage.

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Post by lags72 on Fri 10 May 2019, 6:18 pm

Update : Thiem has the vital break in the 3rd and will surely go on to take this match. Quite apart from his outstanding talent, his youth versus OAP Federer is a massive advantage at this stage of proceedings.

It’s been a useful week of clay re-familiarisation for Federer.

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Post by sirfredperry on Sat 11 May 2019, 7:29 am

Fed not too dismayed by his defeat to Thiem and I see that, at least for now, the Swiss is in the draw for Rome next week. He said he would make a final decision about participation this weekend.

Thiem takes on Djoko today and, if successful, probably Rafa tomorrow. Talk about winning a tournament the hard way.

Tsitsipas overcame A Zverev who will now lose big points. Halep goes back to number one if she beats Mertens in today's final.

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Post by No name Bertie on Sat 11 May 2019, 12:31 pm

Let's have a look at Federer's recent losses:
Madrid Open, Semi-Final, 10th May 2019
Loses to Thiem:  6-3 6-7 4-6

Indian Wells, Final, March 2019
Loses to Thiem: 6-3 3-6 5-7

Australian Open,  R16, Jan 2019
Loses to Tsitsipas: 7-6 6-7 5-7 6-7

Wins the first set then loses the next sets.  All indicative of father time & a loss of stamina / intensity as a match progresses in the later rounds of a tournament.  And all against much younger players, that once they get into their "groove" are able to turn the match around.

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Post by MrInvisible on Sat 11 May 2019, 12:46 pm

From Thiem's point of view he has to be beating Federer on clay if he's going to challenge again for Roland Garros, and its v creditable for Federer to push him so hard on the surface. Those stats from NoNameBertie are actually pretty good for Federer, to be pushing these talented younger players so hard at this stage of his career. Its a given that Fed is in twilight stage of his career - only uncertainty whether there's 1 last slam there left in him. Won't be at Roland Garros though - I'm expecting to reach 4th round (if its tough draw), quarters (with 'normal' draw) or semis (with soft draw) this year.

Got to admit being slightly surprised at Zverev losing to Tsitsipas - Zverev has been really poor this year, though I suppose Tsitsipas, whilst not seen as a claycourter is no slouch on the surface - reached his 1st ATP final in Barcelona last year and won Estoril this year.

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Post by No name Bertie on Sat 11 May 2019, 4:15 pm

Alexander Zverev still has Lendl as coach so I would expect some improvement from Zverev at some point. Zverev is still ranked #4 in the world and is showing very slow progress in his Grand Slam performances. Last year he reached the Roland Garros quarter-final - so he should be aiming to at least match that. Currently he is averaging getting to R3 - R4 in the slams - which is below where his world ranking would place him.

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Post by laverfan on Sat 11 May 2019, 4:23 pm

Djokovic wins first set, vs Thiem, in TB 7-6(2).

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Post by sirfredperry on Sat 11 May 2019, 5:35 pm

Djoko wins. Two tiebreak sets with a number of breaks including one when Nole was serving for the match. Wonder if Djoko's day off helped. Long match.

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Post by laverfan on Sat 11 May 2019, 6:55 pm

Bertens up a set and a break on Halep.

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Post by No name Bertie on Sat 11 May 2019, 9:18 pm

Tsitsipas has a break and is serving for the first set 5-4 against Nadal.

Nadal has yet to win a title this year.

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Post by No name Bertie on Sat 11 May 2019, 9:23 pm

Tsitsipas 30 - 0 Nadal
Tsitsipas 30 - 40 Nadal
Tsitsipas wins the next two points to take the first set 6-4.

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