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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, 7:16 pm

First topic message reminder :

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 Sat 23 Apr 2022, 5:41 pm

There are lists of teenagers who've got into the top 10. I think I'm right in saying Alcaraz will be the 7th youngest.

Nearly all on the list eventually got to number one. The man with the second-best number of weeks at number one did NOT break into the top 10 as a teenager - namely Roger Federer.

Recent figures showed Alcaraz reached 50 wins with the fewest defeats - just 20. In contrast, Federer had 47 losses before he chalked up 50 victories.

Alcaraz now has an excellent chance to win in Barcelona where everyone had to double up yesterday following Thursday's rain.

LATER: Amazing coincidence - this from the ATP site: "When Alcaraz officially enters the Top 10 on Monday, he will do so at the same age, on the same date and following the same tournament as Rafael Nadal in 2005."

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Post by Jeff Navarro Sun 24 Apr 2022, 1:15 am

Djokovic comes from a set down to beat Khachanov 4-6 6-1 6-2

Hearing that the Italian government is trying to ban Russian and Belarusian players from Roma…

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Post by Jeff Navarro Sun 24 Apr 2022, 2:41 am

Andrey Rublev outclasses Italian firebrand Fabio Fognini 6-2 6-2 to reach Belgrade final.
Should be a really good final between Djokovic and Rublev.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Sun 24 Apr 2022, 7:05 am

Barcelona semi finals disrupted by rain. This was despite the forecast suggesting rain.
Semi will conclude tomorrow morning. Final will not take place before 4.30pm

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Post by sirfredperry Sun 24 Apr 2022, 7:05 am

Iga Swiatek kept, just, her amazing run going with a three-hour victory over Samsonova. Now plays Sabalenka in the final.

Another rain-ruined day in Barcelona with only four games possible in each semi. Semis AND final to be played tomorrow.


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Post by sirfredperry Sun 24 Apr 2022, 10:27 pm

Alcaraz has saved two MPs and taken it to a third set in his semi v de Minaur.

The Aussie twice served for the match - at 5-4 and 6-5 - and was also an early minibreak up in the tiebreak, only to be denied.

Winner, probably exhausted, will take on C-Busta in the final later today.

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Post by sirfredperry Sun 24 Apr 2022, 11:34 pm

Incredible effort by Alcaraz who takes it 6-4 in the third in 3hrs 39mins after coming back from the brink in the second set.

The young Spaniard was an early break up in the final set before being pegged back but broke again and served it out.

Not sure if he'll have much left for the final today, especially as he had to have treatment at the end of the second set.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Mon 25 Apr 2022, 1:43 am

Andrey Rublev beats Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-7 6-0 to win the Belgrade Open on the Serb’s home patch.
Eventually Djokovic’s ‘tactic’ of coming from a set down comes a cropper. Not often you see Djokovic getting bagelled in recent times.
Third title of the year for Rublev.

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Post by slashermcguirk Mon 25 Apr 2022, 2:07 am

Not the same Djokovic these days unfortunately. Hopefully he will be back soon but he is not the player he was. To think just 6 months ago he destroyed Rublev in straight sets 6-3 6-2. Also bizarre how Djokovic seems to lose the 1st set of every match he plays these days, he used to steam roll opponents in his prime.

I have a strong feeling his slam winning days are behind him, hope I am wrong though but it’s a long way back with so little tournament play since winning the Paris Masters late last year.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Mon 25 Apr 2022, 2:20 am

I think you’re being a bit harsh on Djokovic tbh. I don’t want go on about the vaccination thing. But it’s nearly May, and this was Djokovic’s 8th match on tour. I don’t care how good anyone is - nothing beats match practice.
Do I Think he can win Madrid, Roma or Roland Garros? Not particularly. But do I feel he can get enough matches ahead of winning Wimbledon? Absolutely.
At this point i think Djokovic’s season is the defence of Wimbledon.

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Post by sirfredperry Mon 25 Apr 2022, 2:24 am

Agree that it's far too early to write off Djoko, who - as has been said above - has hardly played this year.

Time away and injuries are both far harder to overcome when a player is that much older.

Meanwhile, Swiatek's amazing run continues as she beats Sabalenka 2 and 2 for her 4th successive title. Emma R's eight-game total in the q-f against Iga is looking better and better.

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Post by slashermcguirk Mon 25 Apr 2022, 2:46 am

Ok I might have been a bit harsh but I am just not convinced Djokovic will take another slam. I thought at end of last year he had a great chance to win Oz and Wimbledon but I think he will really struggle in my opinion. This vaccination thing came at a really bad time because approaching 35 he is running out of time

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Post by sirfredperry Mon 25 Apr 2022, 4:05 am

Slasher - Yes, but who would have thought Rafa would have won the AO this year?

As I write, Alcaraz, incredibly, is a set and a break up in the final against PCB. You feel he has to win in straight sets if he is to do it.

LATER - And he has done it with another break to win 3 and 2 in only just over an hour. What an achievement.

Comparisons with the young Rafa are clearly going to be made. He certainly brings the same intensity to the sport.


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Post by Jeff Navarro Mon 25 Apr 2022, 4:12 am

Carlitos brushes PCB aside somewhat easily 6-3 6-2. This kid is incredible.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Mon 25 Apr 2022, 4:14 am

I’d point out with Djokovic, his serve was underwhelming at many points during Belgrade. But his return of serve was still insane.

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Post by sirfredperry Mon 25 Apr 2022, 5:58 am

Alcaraz is projected to rise to nine tomorrow. It is likely to be a long stay in the top 10.


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Post by sirfredperry Mon 25 Apr 2022, 7:04 am

Just seen a few clips from the Alcaraz final. The young Spaniard was hitting massive winners from way behind the baseline - one of his traits that so impressed Andy Murray when he first saw Alcaraz play.

It's a bit frightening to think he won't be 19 until the beginning of May and is bound to get stronger and match hardened.

I'm not sure we've had a young player burst so impressively on the scene since Rafa was a teenager.


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Post by slashermcguirk Mon 25 Apr 2022, 9:06 am

Agree, Alcaraz is a serious young talent, huge future ahead of him. Nadal and Djokovic were both brilliant talents from their teenage years, Nadal particularly so. Djokovic was already giving Federer and Nadal really tough battles back as early as 2006 and 2007.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Wed 27 Apr 2022, 6:12 pm

A couple of updates:

Rafael Nadal ‘willing to roll the dice’ and play Madrid. He really wants to play in Spain. Big risk imo.

Emma Raducanu has sacked her coach.

Roger Federer has announced he will play Basel

Daniil Medvedev back in training after his surgery

Novak Djokovic cleared to play Wimbledon unvaccinated

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Post by Soul Requiem Wed 27 Apr 2022, 6:41 pm

Djokovic being cleared to play whilst Medvedev isn't is just idiocy from the LTA.

One has made a very personal choice whilst the others have been caught up in an international crisis, I don't disagree with the ban but some consistency wouldn't go a miss.

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Post by slashermcguirk Wed 27 Apr 2022, 9:38 pm

You cannot compare the Djokovic and Medvedev situation. There are no longer any restrictions on people travelling into UK that are not vaccinated. Why on earth on that basis would the LTA not let Djokovic play if he is legally permitted to enter the country unvaccinated, that would make no sense whatsoever. Sure he is fine to play in French open, Madrid, Rome etc too. I don't understand your point there whatsoever.

The Medvedev situation is completely unrelated to covid so not really sure why you would compare those situations.

Raducanu sacks another coach, bizarre situation. You would think she would wait to see how she performs this season before making a complete change ahead of all the important summer events, bizarre

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Post by Soul Requiem Wed 27 Apr 2022, 10:18 pm

It's called an opinion, I personally wouldn't allow Djokovic entry into the country.

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Post by sirfredperry Wed 27 Apr 2022, 11:10 pm

Federer has said he will play Basle this year. Could be his final tournament or just a sign that he is, at least, going to be fit enough just to get on to a court.

It's often been said that when he does play his final tourney it will be in Basle. He's already said he wants to play the Laver Cup which will be in London this year. But, as yet, there's no indication of any other events he might be looking at.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Thu 28 Apr 2022, 12:09 am

Sascha Zverev gets hammered by 18 year old Norwegian Holger Rune at the BMW Open in Munich.

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Post by sirfredperry Thu 28 Apr 2022, 3:15 am

Seen this young guy Rune's had a few good wins of late, but nothing as spectacular as this.

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Post by slashermcguirk Fri 29 Apr 2022, 1:18 am

It will be interesting to see what direction Zverevs career will go. He seemed primed from his younger years to become a multi grand slam champion but the longer the wait goes on, it will only get more difficult to get over that mental hurdle. He is 25 now and he has only reached that one grand slam final and that was achieved without beating a top 10 player before he fell to Thiem, who was well overdue one in fairness having been in several slam finals.

Back around 2008, I thought the likes of Berdych, Tsonga and Nalbandian might win a couple of slams but it never transpired. Ferrer was a great competitor and so consistent but he lacked any big weapon, he relied so much on stamina. I always thought back in 2008 that Djokovic would win a lot of slams but I thought more in the region of 8-10 because so often back then you had to beat both Federer and Nadal. I thought Murray might win 4-5 but 3 was still a good effort given the Big 3 presence. Wawrinka always had huge talent and massive fire power but I think 3 was still a good return for him because he was such a streaky player, blows so hot and cold while grand slams require so much consistency and patience and about winning ugly sometimes which Murray could probably do more than Wawrinka.

I think of the next gen, Medevedev will probably end up with about 3-5, Tsitipas I think will win one eventually but I think it might only be 2-3. Zverev I am really not sure about, he should win a few of them but I am less convinced now than I was. Maybe if he gets one this year that could give him the confidence to win 4 or 5. You would have to think both Alcaraz and Sinner will be multi grand slam champions. i dont think Berretini will win one, his backhand really needs to improve.

The four players I really thought would win one were Nalbandian (crazy talented but didnt keep himself in great shape), Berdych (prone to mental collapses at key moments) , Tsonga (poor backhand held him back) and Nishikori (crazy talented but never had the serve to get him out of trouble or get any free points).

Not sure what others take on how many slams next gen might win and who they thought might win one from previous generation that didnt.

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Post by sirfredperry Fri 29 Apr 2022, 4:56 pm

I thought this might be THE season for Zverev but it's been relatively disappointing for him so far.

I can certainly see Medvedev winning more Slams but I guess there's a danger that the likes of Zverev, Tsitsipas and Rublev could lose out in the GS stakes to the even-younger brigade led by Sinner and Alcaraz.

FAA may have a say in it all, too. Perhaps we could include Rune after his win over Zverev.

But the old guard ain't finished yet. Take the next two Slams. Who is most likely to win at RG? - Rafa. And at Wimbledon? - Djoko.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Sat 30 Apr 2022, 6:44 am

Andy Murray vs Dominic Thiem round 1 Madrid. Hopefully it’s a decent contest.

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Post by sirfredperry Sat 30 Apr 2022, 7:25 am

A 7-6, 6-0 win for Raducanu tonight who had trailed 5-2 in the first set.

She has a good chance of another win but then will probably have to face Muguruza.

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Post by MrInvisible Sun 01 May 2022, 6:22 am

Surprised no-one's mentioned Boris Becker being sent to prison for fraud (hiding assets to avoid paying debts). Always a fan of his explosive all-action game (especially when he burst on scene and early years of his career), thought he was a good coach and enjoyed his match analysis (though not necessarily his commentary).

Sad that he couldn't look after his money properly - I recall him selling some tennis trophies when he was bankrupt.

Back to the claycourt season, we obviously need to wait for Madrid and Rome, particularly the latter, but at this stage I would put the Roland Garros favourites in following order:

1) Nadal - obviously
2) Djokovic - he may not be playing brilliantly, but after his self-inflicted Aussie Open debacle he will have a point to prove and extra motivation to keep up in the GOAT slam race.
3) Tsitsipas - his run to the final last year was no fluke - he has the claycourt nous to win Roland Garros
4) Zverev - probably a long way behind the others, but an accomplished claycourter and has the physicality to win these days too
5) Thiem - I think it's too early on his comeback trail - he needs time to play into form, but a contender nevertheless
6) Sinner - looks the best equipped of the younger players to win

Can't see past any of the above. Alcaraz at this stage is more of a hardcourter, and probably needs a couple more years before he can be serious contender at Roland Garros in my opinion. Medvedev has improved on clay but still not as accomplished as others.

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Post by sirfredperry Mon 02 May 2022, 3:19 am

Some welcome British successes today. Emma R smashed Kostyuk 2 and 1 and will NOT have to play Muguruza in round 3 in Madrid after the Spaniard was knocked out in straight sets.

Also in Madrid, Dan Evans had a good win over Delbonis 3 and 4. Before that, Jack Draper, given a WC, beat high-ranking Italian Sonego in straight sets. Draper has really pushed his ranking up this season.

Two GS champs seemingly getting back into form/fitness are Halep and Andreescu. Halep had an excellent straight-sets win over two-ranked Badosa while A'escu walloped Collins 1 and 1.

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Post by sirfredperry Mon 02 May 2022, 7:19 am

Rafa is the latest player to come out against the Wimbledon ban. He's unhappy that Wimbledon has taken, in his words, the most drastic action.

Not sure if anything can happen to happily resolve this issue, except an ending of the conflict in Ukraine, of course. But that seems unlikely.

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Post by sirfredperry Mon 02 May 2022, 6:10 pm

Now Murray has spoken out about the Wimbledon ban. But I think he echoes the thoughts of many when he says there's no easy outcome to all this.


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Post by Jeff Navarro Mon 02 May 2022, 8:16 pm

I understand the players speaking out but Wimbledon did as their government advised. Aside from the British Royal family boycotting the event. What exactly are Wimbledon going to do?

I fully aware that Djokovic is close friends with Medvedev and Rublev - these three share the same religious beliefs as well.
And Nadal is friends with Medvedev.

Aside from a player boycott there’s no other outcome.

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 03 May 2022, 6:15 am

Amid all this talk of ranking points not being at stake at Wimbledon, I guess one option could be considered.

It is that the banned players should not lose any points gained at Wimbledon 2021, given that they would be unable to defend those points at SW19 this year.

Ideally, Wimbledon would be happy with the players from Russia and Belarus appearing, BUT NOT DOING THAT WELL. The big fear is that Kate has to present the men's trophy to Medvedev on the final afternoon.

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 03 May 2022, 7:28 am

Cameron Norrie warded off two set points in the first set to beat S. Korean Kwon 7-5, 7-5.

Then Andy Murray beat Thiem 3 and 4 for his first clay-court win for five years. Next up is likely to be Shapovalov.


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Post by Jeff Navarro Wed 04 May 2022, 2:15 am

Kevin Anderson has retired from tennis.

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Post by sirfredperry Wed 04 May 2022, 3:38 am

Anderson, for me, was the best of the recent/current crop of big servers, in that he had a bit more to his game than just ace-producing tennis.

His semi with Isner at Wimbledon where the no-tiebreak final set lasted for eternity and left Anderson exhausted for the final, led to the introduction of 5th-set breakers at Wimbledon and the AO, with the French finally succumbing this year, too.

At Madrid today, Jack Draper gave Rublev an almighty scare, leading 3-0 in the final set before going down 7-5. The Briton certainly justified his WC.

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Post by JuliusHMarx Wed 04 May 2022, 4:48 am

Mr. Anderson.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XooISvoZ_rs

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Post by sirfredperry Wed 04 May 2022, 5:11 pm

Emma R, hampered by a back injury, went down in three last night but Andy Murray beat Shapovalov 6-1. 3-6, 6-2 to move on to a match with......Djoko.

It was the first time Murray has won back-to-back matches since reaching the Sydney final in January.


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Post by No name Bertie Wed 04 May 2022, 9:01 pm

I assume that Andy Murray beating Thiem is more an indicator of Thiem lack of match fitness / sharpness rather than how well Murray was playing?   Murray beating Shapovalov is a bit of a surprise but maybe it was a case of Murray outfoxing him.

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Post by sirfredperry Thu 05 May 2022, 12:42 am

Good win by Dan Evans over RBA, considering Dan was 5-3 down in the final set.

Evans was only 10-10 for the season going into Madrid and had slipped outside the top 32. So these are welcome points. Next up for Dan will be Rublev.

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Post by sirfredperry Thu 05 May 2022, 2:44 am

More British success in Madrid with Cameron Norrie seeing off Isner in three.

Isner forced just one BP - which he took - in the match. As usual, his only successful set was a tiebreak. You wonder how this guy would have fared in the pre-tiebreak era. His matches would have been longer, yes, but how many would he have won?

Rafa has made a good start in his match against Kecmanovic, taking the first set 6-1. Zverev, who has had a mixed time of it of late, came thru a tricky match against Cilic, despite dropping the first set.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Thu 05 May 2022, 7:47 pm

A handy little run in Madrid for Andy Murray with a match against Novak Djokovic in the Third Round. It will be a good way to gauge where Andy is right now given that Novak feels his win V Monfils in the previous round was the best he has played this year.
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Post by CaledonianCraig Thu 05 May 2022, 9:04 pm

Andy Murray pulls out of his match against Novak Djokovic due to illness. Shame.
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Post by sirfredperry Thu 05 May 2022, 11:03 pm

Andy gets himself into a good fitness condition and then gets....ill. Very disappointing.

Rublev has taken a tight first set v Dan Evans. Norrie v Alcaraz still to come.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Fri 06 May 2022, 4:43 am

Rafael Nadal survives against David Goffin to win 6-3 5-7 7-6. Nadal seemed to get frazzled by a poor line call when he served for the match in the second set.
Subsequently the Spaniard saved 4 MPs.
On this performance there will not be a 14th Roland Garros.

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Post by sirfredperry Fri 06 May 2022, 4:46 am

A 3hr 10min marathon which saw Rafa 4-2 up in the final set tiebreak only for Goffin to subsequently have four MPs before Nadal took it 11-9.

It must have been age between Rafa's two MPs in the second set and the final two right at the end.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Fri 06 May 2022, 8:02 am

Carlitos Alcaraz outlasts Cameron Norrie to setup showdown against Rafael Nadal.
Alcaraz won 6-4 6-7 6-3 in a match lasting over 2.30hrs

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Post by Jeff Navarro Sat 07 May 2022, 12:35 am

Djokovic eased past Hurkacz 6-3 6-4, the Serb didn’t even face a BP on his serve. He will face Nadal or Alcaraz in the semifinals

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