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Clay Court Season - the run up to the French Open 2022

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Post by sirfredperry Mon 04 Apr 2022, 9:16 am

IW and Miami are done and attention switches to the clay-court season culminating in RG.

How much of this period will involve Medvedev playing is uncertain, while Rafa will miss part of the clay season as well.

Happenings in America have shown that the likes of Alcaraz and Sinner (and possibly Ruud) are ready to challenge the older stars of the Next Generation such as Zverev and Tsitsipas.

Alcaraz, in particular, has burst on the scene in a way perhaps not seen since the young Nadal emerged in 2003-05. Sinner is also a very exciting player and both he and Alcaraz look like they will become firm favourites with the fans.

What of Djoko? He has plenty of points to defend in the next few weeks and Medvedev could regain the number one position without playing. For once Rafa, assuming he's fit enough to play, can actually GAIN points at RG. I always tip him to win it, and see no reason to change my mind this year.

Swiatek won the French in 2020 and now comes into the clay-court stretch on top of the world after a sensational few weeks. Osaka is on the rise and the sooner the likes of she and Halep are back in the top 10 the better.




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Post by sirfredperry Tue 05 Apr 2022, 6:17 pm

Daily Telegraph suggesting that Medvedev (and presumably the other Russians) could be excluded from Wimbledon due to the Ukraine war.

Writer - Simon Briggs who is normally fairly OK - may have put pleas from interfering politician (Culture Secretary) together with Wimbledon's private-club ability to make up their own rules to create a story.

Effectively, the Russians would have to denounce Putin's actions if they wanted to play, the story says. Plenty of weeks before SW19 so we'll see how this one plays out.

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Post by dummy_half Wed 06 Apr 2022, 12:20 pm

For once it looks like the women's side of things could be reasonably predictable and the men's side not so in the absence of Nadal, Medvedev, Federer and perhaps Djokovic from some tournaments (does his vaccination status impact entry into any of the European countries hosting the clay tournaments?).

Definitely a good chance for Alcaraz to keep up the good work and pick up the points needed to push him into the top 10, although a look at his record to date suggests he may be a better hard court player than clay courter. Also be interesting to see whether Norrie can build on his current position (has some points to defend from Barcelona and RG, but if he plays well he could add)

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Post by sirfredperry Wed 06 Apr 2022, 4:07 pm

Forgot to throw Thiem into the mix. He lost his first match last week after a long lay-off, but it would be no surprise if he soon becomes a force again - and on his favourite surface.

There was also a, losing, return for Stan the Man. Twould be good to see him doing well again

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Post by sirfredperry Thu 07 Apr 2022, 8:28 am

JW Tsonga has announced he'll retire after this year's French. He's been plagued by injuries and has decided his body can't take it anymore.

JWT has been one of the most exciting talents in tennis for many years. I well remember his demolition job on Rafa at the AO semis in 08 when he blitzed the Spaniard with a range of power tennis not seen til then.

At his best, he could beat anyone as the likes of Federer and Murray realised to their cost at some Slams. As with so many of his generation he could have won more if he hadn't been up against the Big Four.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Thu 07 Apr 2022, 2:17 pm

Simona Halep has teamed up with Patrick Mouratoglou. Has Serena Williams retired? As Mouratoglou was her coach.

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Post by sirfredperry Sat 09 Apr 2022, 8:02 am

Jeff - Don't think Serena has packed it in yet as there are reports today she may play Wimbledon this year.

Meanwhile, Djoko is back in action at MC next week in a draw that also includes Stan the Man. Djoko could face Alcaraz in the q-fs.

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Post by slashermcguirk Mon 11 Apr 2022, 12:04 pm

Very hard to see past Alcaraz winning in Monte Carlo. He is in such good form and without Nadal there, you would have to think he is big favourite. I can see Djokovic going out early, you just cant expect to rock up at this level and win when you have played just one tournament in 4-5 months. It doesnt matter how much you are on the practise court even for the greatest players, there is no substitute for playing competitive matches. Everyone talking about Djokovic vs Alcaraz QF, I dont see Novak even making it that far to be honest.

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Post by sirfredperry Mon 11 Apr 2022, 3:14 pm

Stan the Man got the first set against Bublik in MC today and reached 5-5 in the second set before going down in three.

Although it's a tall order for Djoko to come straight back in and go a long way he's just the sort of guy to be able to do that. I don't think we should be surprised if he gets quickly back to winning ways.

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 12 Apr 2022, 7:42 am

JWT went down 2 and 2 to Cilic. It would be good if he can get a couple of good wins before he packs it in after the French.

Djoko in action today, facing a tricky opener against Davidovich Fokina. Tsitsipas has a tough first match, too, as he's up against Fognini who can be something of a magician on clay and who took this title in 2019.

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Post by slashermcguirk Tue 12 Apr 2022, 3:54 pm

As predicted, I think Djokovic going out early. By all accounts he is having an absolute howler today. I have a feeling this long break from the game will have done huge damage to his chances going forward.

He had such a golden opportunity to go and win the Australian open and finish top of that grand slam list but I think his choice not to get vaccinated could well end up costing him finishing with the most slams.

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 12 Apr 2022, 5:17 pm

Djoko into a third set after twiçe being a break down - and close to defeat - in the second set.

Welcome win in straight sets today for Dan Evans who has not had the best of times of late.

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 12 Apr 2022, 5:39 pm

Djoko goes down 6-1 in the third after nearly three hours. Others on here accepted the fact that it would be tough for Novax to get straight back to winning ways. I, though, thought if anyone could do it after a long break it was the Serb.

The long Djoko lay-off coupled with Rafa's fitness levels means the French could be more open than usual this year. If Rafa is able to return in good form and shape before RG then I would make him favourite.

But if the Spaniard is anything less than near-100% OK, then things could get interesting.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Tue 12 Apr 2022, 5:48 pm

Zverev might be the favourite for Roland Garros when factoring in Nadal’s current absence and the uncertainty over what events Djokovic can actually play prior to Paris.

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 12 Apr 2022, 6:05 pm

Zverev, eh? I must say that at the beginning of the season I thought this would be the German's year. But his results have been patchy. Tsitsi, who was close to triumphing in Paris last year, has also been somewhat underwhelming.

I wonder if any of the even-younger guard - Alcaraz, Sinner - might break thru at RG.

LATER - Just seen that this is the first time in four years that Djoko has lost his opening match at a tournament. Remarkable.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Wed 13 Apr 2022, 1:59 pm

Seb Korda outlasts Carlitos Alcaraz 7-6 6-7 6-3. Impressive win for the American. Alcaraz is still a work in progress on clay.

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Post by sirfredperry Wed 13 Apr 2022, 5:46 pm

Norrie and Evans both beaten. F A-A, after reaching back-to-back finals earlier in the year is now in a bit of a slump and lost to Musetti of Italy.


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Post by sirfredperry Fri 15 Apr 2022, 7:12 am

Sinner took out Rublev, overcoming a blister problem, and will now face Zverev in the quarters.

Dimi is looking good and Tsitsipas is also thru.

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Post by sirfredperry Fri 15 Apr 2022, 3:43 pm

Dimi has just beaten Hurkacz in three after H served for the match at 5-4 in the final set.

Earlier, D-Fokina beat in-form Fritz. Sinner now starting against Zverev. Could be some match.

In the BJ (formerly Fed) Cup there was a welcome win for Raducanu who beat Martincova of Czech Rep 7-5, 7-5. Earlier, Dart had managed just one game against Vondrousova.

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Post by sirfredperry Sun 17 Apr 2022, 8:04 am

Tsitsipas is on track to retain his MC crown after seeing off Zverev. He will face D-Fokina who beat Dimi in three.

In the MC doubles, Salisbury and Ram, now standing at one and two in the rankings, take on Farah and Cabal in the final.

In the BJK Cup Emma R, suffering from blisters, was well beaten by Vondrousova with the Czech Republic going on to win the doubles and take the tie 3-2.

Meanwhile there is a strong field in next week's Barcelona event even though Djoko and Rafa are absent. Tsitsi could meet Alcaraz in the quarters.


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Post by Jeff Navarro Sun 17 Apr 2022, 9:11 am

Sir Fred - Djokovic is playing his home event in Serbia rather than Barcelona.

I’m going for the Spaniard today.

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Post by sirfredperry Sun 17 Apr 2022, 12:13 pm

Quite right, Jeff. I did read that Djoko was playing "at home" but forgot about it.


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Post by Jeff Navarro Sun 17 Apr 2022, 3:26 pm

Tsitsipas defends his title beating Davidovich Fokina 6-3 7-6.

Tsitsipas joins a select group whom have defended the title in Monte Carlo in the open era:
Nastase 1971-73
Borg 1979-80
Muster 1995-96
Ferraro 2002-03
Nadal 2005-12 & 2016-18

So no pressure Stefanos but all the other won Roland Garros at least once in their careers…

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Post by sirfredperry Sun 17 Apr 2022, 6:32 pm

Tsitsipas failed to serve it out at 5-4 in the second set before clinching it on the tiebreak.

Just look at those Rafa MC stats (Jeff's post above). Incredible.

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Post by sirfredperry Mon 18 Apr 2022, 2:51 pm

I see that Salisbury and Ram won their final in MC, thus strengthening their position at numbers one and two in the doubles rankings.

Norrie and Evans in action this week in Barcelona. Dom Thiem is in the Belgrade draw and could meet Djoko in the third round.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Mon 18 Apr 2022, 3:29 pm

Nadal seems to be stepping up his return. Posted some photos a short time ago.

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 19 Apr 2022, 9:17 pm

Cameron Norrie came thru a long, and stern, challenge from Gerasimov to advance in Barcelona.

In Belgrade, Thiem fell in three to John Millman. I gather that after playing in his comeback Challenger match Thiem then contracted Covid. So it's been a tough time for him.

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Post by sirfredperry Wed 20 Apr 2022, 12:49 pm

Wimbledon are set to announce that Russian and Belarus players will NOT be allowed to play at SW19 this year.

It's been reported that the UK sports minister was keen on a ban. Wimbledon has said it's been in discussion with the UK Govt. So the likes of Medvedev, Rublev, Azarenka and Sabalenka won't be appearing.

As things stands at the moment these players WILL still be playing at the French next month.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Wed 20 Apr 2022, 1:49 pm

Brainless decision. Grass season has generally 1-2 good players. Usually Djokovic and one other. Even less reason to watch this year.
Next they’ll announce they’ll gift the titles to Ukrainians...

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Post by sirfredperry Wed 20 Apr 2022, 4:09 pm

After the Wimbledon ban news comes an announcement that Andy Murray will, after all, be playing some of the clay-court season.

Having originally said he would skip the clay, Murray is going to compete in Madrid next week. There's a suggestion he may also play Rome.


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Post by Soul Requiem Wed 20 Apr 2022, 4:34 pm

Seem like a reasonable decision to me.

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Post by JuliusHMarx Wed 20 Apr 2022, 7:05 pm

Jeff Navarro wrote:Brainless decision. Grass season has generally 1-2 good players. Usually Djokovic and one other. Even less reason to watch this year.
Next they’ll announce they’ll gift the titles to Ukrainians...

Not really about the ratings though, is it? It's about Russia murdering Ukrainian civilians - slightly more important than viewing figures.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Wed 20 Apr 2022, 8:10 pm

JuliusHMarx wrote:
Jeff Navarro wrote:Brainless decision. Grass season has generally 1-2 good players. Usually Djokovic and one other. Even less reason to watch this year.
Next they’ll announce they’ll gift the titles to Ukrainians...

Not really about the ratings though, is it? It's about Russia murdering Ukrainian civilians - slightly more important than viewing figures.
I’m here for sports not politics OK

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Post by sirfredperry Wed 20 Apr 2022, 8:24 pm

Raducanu wins this season have been few and far between, but she beat low-ranking Aussie Sanders 1 and 2 today, which is welcome.

Next up for Emma is an LL and then, almost certainly......Swiatek.

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Post by Soul Requiem Wed 20 Apr 2022, 10:04 pm

Jeff Navarro wrote:
JuliusHMarx wrote:
Jeff Navarro wrote:Brainless decision. Grass season has generally 1-2 good players. Usually Djokovic and one other. Even less reason to watch this year.
Next they’ll announce they’ll gift the titles to Ukrainians...

Not really about the ratings though, is it? It's about Russia murdering Ukrainian civilians - slightly more important than viewing figures.
I’m here for sports not politics OK

Not how it works, the two have and always will be intertwined.

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Post by sirfredperry Thu 21 Apr 2022, 7:32 am

Djoko almost came a cropper in his hometown tournament before recovering to win a 3hr 22min match in a third set tiebreak v 50th-ranked Djere.

Djoko has been critical of the Wimbledon ban decision.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Thu 21 Apr 2022, 8:01 am

From the bits I saw, Djokovic’s game fluctuates massively. At times he looked like his old self. Other times he was very poor. Obviously he also needs to build up on his match fitness. Whether he can retain Roland Garros I’m unsure, but I’m edging towards him for Wimbledon.

Djokovic also cleared to play Roma, I’m not sure what changed as has still unvaccinated. But the Serb will play Madrid, Roma, Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Finally Djokovic looks like he(family) will try to buy the event in Serbia and upgrade it to an ATP500.

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Post by Lowlandbrit Thu 21 Apr 2022, 5:38 pm

JuliusHMarx wrote:Not really about the ratings though, is it? It's about Russia murdering Ukrainian civilians - slightly more important than viewing figures.
Not an expert on Russia, but I don't think most of the (Bela-)Russians on the tour are heavily involved in making foreign policy decisions.

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Post by Duty281 Thu 21 Apr 2022, 7:23 pm

It's complete nonsense to blanket ban Russians and Belarusians. Another example of hypocritical Western morality in sport.

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Post by JuliusHMarx Thu 21 Apr 2022, 8:17 pm

Lowlandbrit wrote:
JuliusHMarx wrote:Not really about the ratings though, is it? It's about Russia murdering Ukrainian civilians - slightly more important than viewing figures.
Not an expert on Russia, but I don't think most of the (Bela-)Russians on the tour are heavily involved in making foreign policy decisions.

I doubt they are, but neither were the Japanese athletes banned from the 1948 Olympics, or the South African cricket team during apartheid etc etc.
Even if you don't support the ban, at least the players involved aren't getting murdered by a rogue state, so relatively they don't have too much to complain about.

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Post by MrInvisible Thu 21 Apr 2022, 9:44 pm

On balance I'm a bit uncomfortable with the Wimbledon ban of Russian an Belarusian players, seems unfair to me. The slams are not team events like Davis Cup and therefore the players aren't representing their country as such. Many have also been based abroad for a long time, and unlike the oligarchs have acquired their fortune fairly and transparently.

Also, if we're going down this road there are inconsistencies galore. What about Saudi Arabia and the war in Yemen? The Saudi football team is participating in the World Cup and the new Saudi takeover of Newcastle United was happily accommodated.

Therefore feels a crowd pleasing and bandwagon jumping gesture but wrong headed nevertheless.

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Post by Soul Requiem Thu 21 Apr 2022, 10:14 pm

Saudi Arabia aren't winning anything any time soon so the aesthetics aren't important. A Russian winning anything at the moment will be used by the Russian state which must be avoided at all costs.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Fri 22 Apr 2022, 12:58 am

Djokovic came from a set down to beat Kecmanovic 4-6 6-3 6-3. Another below par performance from Djokovic but he’s getting miles in the legs.
Djokovic vs Khachanov in the semis.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Fri 22 Apr 2022, 1:08 am

Soul Requiem wrote:Saudi Arabia aren't winning anything any time soon so the aesthetics aren't important. A Russian winning anything at the moment will be used by the Russian state which must be avoided at all costs.
Between Roma and Wimbledon, it’s highly probable Medvedev will return to world number #1 so I’d assume that’s a ‘win’ for Russia. More so if it happens Wimbledon.

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Post by sirfredperry Fri 22 Apr 2022, 6:52 am

Emma R won back-to-back matches for the first time this year in Stuttgart and now takes on bang-in-form world number one Swiatek.

Remarkably, it will be Emma's first match against a top tenner. You feel every match, win or lose, is a help for the Briton.

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Post by sirfredperry Fri 22 Apr 2022, 4:36 pm

The rain yesterday in Barcelona has done Cameron Norrie no favours. He's just come thru a 3hr 23min marathon and now has to play again almost straight away against a guy who only had to play one set (6-0 before a retirement) earlier today.

I see there's talk of the ATP/WTA getting tough with Wimbledon over the Ukraine War ban. There's even some suggestion that Wimbledon will go ahead with no ranking points awarded, altho' it seems unlikely it will come to that.

BJ King and Zverev are the latest to come out against the Wimbledon ban.

LATER: Just seen that Norrie's second match of the day has been pushed back to later in the evening. Still going to be a big ask for the Briton to win.

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Post by sirfredperry Fri 22 Apr 2022, 8:12 pm

Creditable effort by Emma R who went down 4 and 4 to all-conquering Swiatek.

Considering that the Pole has been dishing out bagels and breadsticks at will lately, an eight-game haul can be considered a good performance by Emma.

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Post by sirfredperry Fri 22 Apr 2022, 9:14 pm

Unsurprisingly, a no-doubt exhausted Cameron Norrie went down in three to de Minaur.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Fri 22 Apr 2022, 10:00 pm

Carlitos Alcaraz beats Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 5-7 6-2. Brilliant win for the Spanish sensation especially after he blew the second set.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Sat 23 Apr 2022, 12:29 am

Alcaraz will enter the top 10 on Monday for the first time. Just for reference he’ll be around the same age as when Nadal first done it - Nadal was 18 and 10 months. Alcaraz is 18 and 11 months.

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