THE THRONE OF PARIS

The annual tennis calendar can be split into 5 pieces revolving around the four Grand Slams. April marks the start of the second phase and it runs until the end of Roland Garros. For a good part of the last decade, this period witnessed ‘routine’ proceedings. A certain Spanish Bull would go haywire, running through anything and everything in its path. But, with the bull subdued temporarily, the French capital has had a chance to look outside off its most decorated champion. The 2016 French Open has witnessed a lot of stories. The one that matters most will be strung together by an unfathomably dominant Serb and an enviably perseverant Brit at the Philippe Chatrier on Sunday evening.

Heading into the summit clash, both these players have walked contrasting paths. Djokovic has been serenely sublime if not his usual brutally dominant self. Nadal’s withdrawal meant that the World No. 1 had a significantly easier route to the finals. He was hardly tested up until Round 4 where Bautista Agut managed to steal the opening set. The Serbian quickly regrouped to see off the Spaniard and moved into the quarters. Berdych and Thiem were hardly an obstacle as Novak strode into his third consecutive Roland Garros final.

D

Murray started the tournament looking like he wanted to leave Paris at the earliest. He dug in deep to erase a 2 set deficit against Stepanek in the first round only to see himself fall 2 sets to 1 behind against local lad Bourgue in the very next round. Somehow, his grit and experience covered for his starting troubles as he avoided an early exit with back to back 5 setters. Since then, he has found his range whilst dispatching Karlovic, Isner, Gasquet and Wawrinka in the process. He was particularly impressive in his semifinal bout against defending champion, Stan Wawrinka where he mixed caution and aggression with considerable ease.

Andy Murray celebrates during the day eleven of the French Open 2016 at Roland Garros on June 1, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Nolwenn Le Gouic/Icon Sport)

This will be their 7th meeting in a Grand Slam final with Djokovic enjoying a 4-2 advantage. Nole hasn’t beaten Murray in a Grand Slam final outside Melbourne but is still the favorite to come out shining. Considering the regal drought of weaknesses in Novak’s game, Murray would be well served by exploiting the mental pressure which surrounds his illustrious counterpart.  The weight of completing a Career Slam is growing with each passing year and somehow Djokovic always finds a way to stutter at the final step. Nadal used this to this advantage in the 2014 en route to a 14th Grand Slam. Though he got back at the Spaniard with a quarterfinal drubbing in 2015, he took his foot off the gas in the final which helped Wawrinka blast him out of the contest. Murray should look to be aggressive and hit the returns as deep as possible. The first set will hold the key as it will be close to impossible to beat Novak after losing the first set.

#3

Andy Murray during the day eleven of the French Open 2016 at Roland Garros on June 1, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Nolwenn Le Gouic/Icon Sport)

Winning the championship will also give Murray a unique edge over Djokovic. If the Brit comes out smiling, he’ll need just the Australian Open to complete a Career Golden Slam (something which only Rafa and Agassi have achieved in the Open Era).For Djokovic, it’s all in the head. Currently, no one can match his skills on the court. If he can find a way to escape the expectations and speculations surrounding him and play out a normal ‘Novak Djokovic’ match, very few would bet against him. Irrespective of which way the fortunes swing, Roland Garros is all set to have a first time champion for the second year running.

Contenders at the US Open.

As the world’s best tennis players take on the hard courts of New York for the last Grand Slam of the season, the usual suspects – Nadal, Murray, Federer and Djokovic all enter with expectations of winning this title. There are some things which are quite different about the US Open this year, for starters Federer who has won this title 5 times is seeded 7th in the Men’s draw! Which is his lowest in the past ten years. The finals of this event have been scheduled on a Monday, which perhaps means that only the hardcore tennis fanatics will be around to cheer their favorite player.

In Women’s tennis, something that really stood out was Maria Sharapova’s idea to probably change her name to Maria Sugarpova in order to promote her candy line. It’s a good thing she decided against, fans would have definitely questioned her seriousness towards the game. However, all this because irrelevant when she withdrew altogether due to a shoulder injury. With Sharapova out of the running, there’s one less main contender for the rest of the players. Next in line is Serena Williams, she has always maintained the same daunting presence on court and although there have been a few unexpected twists along the way .

Azarenka won the Australian Open , and the unassuming Sloane Stephens beat Serena in the quarter finals. Similarly Serena lost to Azarenka in the Doha Open. In terms of other major players like Li Na and Radwanska, they have not been very consistent this year. All this points at Azarenka to be be the hot favourite for this year’s US Open.

Having performed quite consistently this year, Azarenka is the favourite in Women’s tennis.

Back to Men’s tennis, it’s quite surprising that Federer is seeded 7th. It looks like the Big Four has one again been cut down to the Big Three. Earlier this year it was Nadal who was left out of this coveted clique, this time around it’s Federer’s turn. This year Federer has won only the ATP title, while the other three main contenders have under their belts one major Grand Slam each. It could be that the US Open title may not see Federer in the finals keeping in mind his performance this year. Murray played some fantastic tennis last year, and it appears that he is the favourite this time as well.

Federer is seeded 7th, the lowest this decade.

Having won this year’s Wimbledon and last year’s US Open, there’s no reason that people should not bet on Murray to win it again this year. But Murray did have a bit of a struggle after the Wimbledon this June,  as he didn’t fare to well in his next hard court tune up and lost to No.6 Thomas Berdych.  Leaving Djokovic out of the fold would be irresponsible, as he is no doubt a worthy contender. Although he hasn’t won a tournament since January (Australian Open) the Serb has an unstoppable power about him which gives his opponents a run for their money. Rafael Nadal is also a force to reckon with, despite his knee injury his performance this year has been nothing short of admirable.

To view the schedule of the US Open click here. The men’s and Women’s draws can be viewed here. Did you miss Day 1 of the US Open? Catch the highlights here.

www.sports365.in has an awesome range of tennis products. From rackets to apparel and accessories, look no further for your tennis requirements. We house the best products from a number of local and international brands that are well known in the sphere of tennis – Prince, Head, Wilson and Babolat to name a few. What’s more, you can avail great discounts on these products while shopping with us.

Abstract

The US Open comes with a few surprises this year, like Federer’s lowest seed of 7 in the past decade. Women’s tennis is missing one of the main contenders,Maria Sharapova who had to withdraw because of a shoulder injury. It appears that Andy Murray is the favourite in Men’s tennis but then again the other two main players, Nadal, Djokovic have a fighting chance.

The Big Four Down to Three.

The most awaited tennis tournament of the year is here. The much coveted Wimbledon title is something every player aspires to win and this year Rafael Nadal is out of the running in the early stages itself. Nadal didn’t fare well here last year also, when he lost to Lukas Rosol who was ranked 100th at the time. After his impressive performance at the French Open at which he proved again that he is the king of clay, Nadal was not able to keep up the same performance at Wimbledon. It looks like Nadal’s  left knee is still not up to the mark, as he was seen moving with some difficulty with the knee taped up. Consequently this affected his forehand, because he was unable to plant his weight down to play the forehand stroke. Coming to the court with a taped up knee is not uncommon for Nadal, because since his return he has made it to the finals of all the tournaments he entered and winning an astounding seven!

The anguish on Nadal’s face after losing to Darcis is unmistakable.
Image courtesy:http://goo.gl/oQsbC

Ranked 135, Steve Darcis was responsible for quashing Nadal’s hope of winning the title this year. The 29-year old Belgian with a big serve, a love of the grasscourt game was able to beat the champ in straight sets (7-6, 7-6, 6-4). With each set his confidence grew and he took risks which later proved to be in his favor. He was able to draw Nadal to the net which is usually lethal for the opponent. Clever moves and placement of shots on Darcis’ part saw him the winner of this match. Yesterday’s match was probably one of the biggest for Darcis, this victory will definitely give him more confidence to take on the rest of players irrespective of rank.

In comparison to Nadal, Federer had a terrific beginning. Having the privilge of opening the tournament of center court, he was able to tide over Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 in just 68 minutes. This 7 time Wimbledon champion looked completely at ease and played some wonderful shots in the first round of what is to be a very exciting tournament. He had an almost flawless game, with only 6 unforced errors, 7 aces and winning almost 90 percent of the points put in with his first serve. Such a great beginning is vital for Federer who is eager to add another Wimbledon title to his credit!

Britain’s Andy Murray had a comfortable first round as well. He defeated Benjamin Becker of Germany 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. Murray’s disappointment last year was losing to Federer in the finals. This year he hopes to win the title, and the be the first English player to win it since Fred Perry way back in 1936. Meanwhile, Djokovic has reason to grin as his draw is the relatively easy one. With Federer, tsongs and Muraay in the same draw, Djokovic’s toughest opponents will be Del Potro and Berdych.  Having lost in the semi-finals last year, and not winning the French Open , winning the title this year will him a chance to redeem himself.

All in all this year’s Wimbledon has already presented a couple of surprises, and the next two weeks are surely going to keep tennis fans glued to the screens. If you are looking to take that Wimbledon experience to the next level, www.sports365.in has some exclusive Wimbledon merchandise. Not only this we also offer a 20% discount on these products. Apart from this we also see some of the best tennis equipment ranging from rackets to apparel from a number of top brands like Prince, Head and Wilson.

Abstract

The Wimbledon season has just started, and for some the first round itself has been disappointing but others have moved forward. The blog article highlights the top players in this year’s Wimbledon tournament and how they have fared so far.

The Sony Open so far.

The tables have turned in the Sony Open with Tommy Hass beating two time defending champion, Novak Djokovic. Hass was able to beat Djokovic in straight sets and was overjoyed about his performance. Hass said that he was happy to be able to take advantage of the opportunities he got to win against a player who has been dominating the courts for the last couple of years.  Seeded 15th he was able to put up a consistent performance against Djokovic who for some reason was completely off his game. Hass enjoyed a 72% success rate on his second serves. This is Hass’ second win against Djokovic in all of 14 times that they have clashed. Djokovic played well in the Australian Open and the Dubai Open, he admitted that Hass was definitely the better player this time, and said that it was the worst match he played in a long time.

Tommy Hass beat Djokovic in straight sets.
Tommy Hass beat Djokovic in straight sets.

With Nadal and Federer having withdrawn from this tournament the only other top player to talk about in Andy Murray. The Scot cruised into the quarter finals of the tournament defeating Andreas Sepi. In this 86 minute match, Murray won 28 of his 31 first serve points. Similary, it was an easy victory for Thomas Berdych who won his match against Sam Querrey in just 51 minutes. Berdych is a strong contender, he has made it to the quarter finals of every tournament he has entered in the recent past.

In women’s tennis, the most interesting match was that between Li Na and Serena Williams. Despite suffering an injury in the second set, Serena was able to bounce back and steer the match the way she wanted. She overcame six double-faults and rallied in the second set from a 5-2 deficit.  She hit six winners in the tiebreaker, including a forehand passing shot cross-court on the final point. Serena Williams has advanced to the semi-finals, and she seems determined not to let anything get in her way of winning the title.

Serena Williams played brilliantly against Li Na to cruise to the next round of the tournament.
Serena Williams played brilliantly against Li Na to cruise to the next round of the tournament.

Sharapova too has made it to the third round after beating Eugine Bouchard. Despite a power cut at the stadium which resulted in the flood lights temporarily going off, she was able to play well. She is one step closer to becoming the third woman to win back-to-back titles in Indian Wells and Miami. Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters are the other two players who have achieved this. the four time Grand Slam champion will now be facing Elena Vesnina in the next round.

For more updates about the Sony Open , you can view the official page of the tournament.

Are you looking to buy some great tennis equipment? Check out www.sports365.in, we have a variety of tennis equipment, from the best brands like Head, Prince and Babolat. We even have the Bobolat Aero Pro Drive series, and a flat 30% discount on these racquets! Shop with us and get to know about more irresistible offers!

Recap of the Indian Wells tournament.

(Article contributed through S365 GBP by Haresh)

When one looks back, 2013 could be the year that Indian Wells distanced itself from Miami as the fifth major event in the tennis calendar. From the facility upgrades to the fan friendliness to record prize money, Larry Ellison and Co. have made sure that their event is the marquee event on the calendar between the Australian and French Opens. And here’s a recap of the major talking points from the Indian Wellsmen’s event.

Any doubts about Rafael Nadal’s knees can now be officially banished. The Spaniard may have withdrawn from Miami but that seems more like a strategy to rest up for the clay court season. Nadal’s undermining his abilities at the start of his comeback make his success look even more remarkable, and had he lost early, he would have had a ready alibi. Nevertheless, Nadal has shown that he is back and the expectations have been heightened. Anything less than an eighth Roland Garros title will be a disappointment now after the best start to his career (17-1). Nadal’s win over del Potro marked a record breaking 22nd ATP Masters Series and also his 600th career win and also moves back him back into the top 4, where he truly belongs.

Nadal celebrates after Del Potro's unforced error.
Nadal celebrates after Del Potro’s unforced error.

Juan Martin del Potro makes for an interesting case study. The Argentine is the only one from the Ferrer-Berdych-Potro-Tsonga quartet to have won a grand slam and as his wins over Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic this week showed, he is also the best big-match player outside the top 4. But Potro’s left wrist is beginning to bother him again, forcing him to use the backhand slice more often in Indian Wells – a strategy that helped him beat Murray and Djokovic. And the sight of Potro huffing and puffing late into the third sets in his matches has become commonplace these days – undermining his credentials as a contender in the best-of-five sets slams. Until Potro fixes that, the 2009 US Open may remain the only grand slam on his resume.

World no. 1 Novak Djokovic saw his unbeaten run in 2013 come to an end at the hands of Potro. The Serb did have his chances, leading 3-0 in the final set of their match. But it was Potro who made a remarkable turnaround to win it rather than Djokovic losing it. The Serb still has a pretty solid lead in the rankings but his dream of completing his career grand slam in Paris may remain just that – given Nadal’s ominous comeback.

Del Potro gave an amazing perfomance and was able to beat Djokovic in the semi-finals.
Del Potro gave an amazing perfomance and was able to beat Djokovic in the semi-finals.

Indian Wells was also a lost opportunity for Andy Murray. The Scot, playing in his first event since the Australian Open, needed to reach the finals to go past Roger Federer in the ATP rankings but was also knocked out by Potro. Like Djokovic, Murray will have a chance to redeem himself in Miami.

From the top 5, Federer turned out to be the biggest disappointment at Indian Wells. Federer let Stanislas Wawrinka back into their fourth-round match – turning what should have been a routine straight sets win into a seesaw humdinger. Hampered by a bad back, the much anticipated showdown between Federer and Nadal turned out to be a damp squib. While Federer did seem clearly hampered by his bad back, watching him play Nadal, it seemed like Federer has lost the battle in his head much before he lost it on the scoreboard. The Swiss now takes a pre-planned eight week break and returns in Madrid in May. He should be well rested by then but expect nothing major from him until the grass courts come around.

Tomas Berdych had another good fortnight. After back to back runners-up finishes on tour, the Czech reached the semis here but lost to Nadal for the 12th time in a row. Jo-Wilfred Tsonga also reached the quarters losing to Djokovic. The second-tier of the ATP continues to remain just that – the second tier.

Berdych reached the semi-finals but lost to Nadal.
Berdych reached the semi-finals but lost to Nadal.

Others who had good fortnight included Ernest Gulbis, who reached the quarter finals and extended his winning streak to 13 matches before running into the Rafa juggernaut; South African Kevin Anderson, who only recently returned to the tour after an elbow surgery and reached the quarters; andAmerican Sam Querrey, who made the last 16 supplanting John Isner as the top ranked American in the world.

Isner was one of the big disappointments in Indian Wells, failing to defend his runner-up finish from last year and dropping out of the top 20; world no. 4 David Ferrer lost in the second round to Anderson in a major surprise; Juan Monaco lost early once again and now has lost all four matches on tour this year;  and Mardy Fish came back from a six month lay-off and won his first match before losing in the third round. But Fish has pulled out of Miami – increasing speculation that he may not be mentally ready to return full-time to the tour after suffering from anxiety brought on by his heart condition last year.

The tour now heads to Miami with somewhat muted enthusiasm. With Federer and Nadal both not in the draw, it should be left to Djokovic and Murray to make the fortnight interesting.

Are you looking to buy some great tennis equipment? Check out www.sports365.in, we have a variety of tennis equipment, from the best brands like Head, Prince and Babolat. We even have the Bobolat Aero Pro Drive series, and a flat 30% discount on these racquets! Shop with us and get to know about more irresistible offers!