Monday Net Post

Monday, June 30, 2008 /by

By TW Contributing Editor, Ed McGrogan

Last Week's & This Week's Tournament

Wimbledon (ATP & WTA - Grass - Wimbledon, England)

- Gentlemen's Singles
- Ladies' Singles
- Gentlemen's Doubles
- Ladies' Doubles

- Website
- TV Schedule

By the Letter

T...ennis Channel requested that Justin Gimelstob make a "substantial" donation to the Women's Sports Foundation after his off-color remarks about former player Anna Kournikova.
E...radicating pigeons from the All England Club will now be done by hawks instead of guns.
N...ot advertised very well, but Jon Wertheim reported this in his mailbag last Monday: "ESPN Classic will present three half-hour specials on the reigning five-time champion Roger Federer during the fortnight of play, on consecutive Sundays at 7:30 p.m. -- Roger Federer: The Making of a Champion June 22, Roger Federer: The Champion June 29 and Roger Federer: The Man July 6."
N...ewlyweds: Greg Norman and Chris Evert.
I...nteresting reason for not letting Maria Sharapova carry the Russian flag at the opening ceremony, from Russian coach Shamil Tarpischev: "I don't want her to spend three or four hours in hot weather waiting to march."
S...wede Jonas Bjorkman announced this past week that he will retire at the end of this year.
W...orshipping is now what former tennis great Margaret Court is devoting her life to.
O...lympic team for the United States was announced last week.
R...are art from Andy Warhol is expected to fetch big bucks, and one of the paintings is of John McEnroe.  McEnroe is also the seller of the painting.
L...TA is no longer paying Brad Gilbert, as he quit, but they paid him plenty while he was working for them.
D...ying to know what Roger's been up to off the court in London?

McGrogan's Heroes

ATP - Janko Tipsarevic

Janko_2Janko Tipsarevic nearly played the part of giant killer at this year’s Australian Open, when he pushed Roger Federer deep into a fifth set in the third round (Federer won 6-7, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1, 10-8).  On Thursday, the Serbian reprised the role, delivering a virtuoso performance against Andy Roddick in the second round.  Tipsarevic stunned the sixth-seeded American, winning 6-7, 7-5, 6-4, 7-6.

He didn’t let up after this unlikely win.  Tipsarevic once again played up to his competition, this time defeating No. 25 seed Dmitry Tursunov 7-6, 7-6, 6-3.  The fact that Tipsarevic won two tiebreakers should confirm that he is a mentally strong player.  He has the physical gifts to go with it, and is in a wide-open quarter of the draw that has no seeded players remaining.  Tipsarevic faces Rainer Schuettler next, and if the Serbian advances, he’ll get the winner of the match between Marin Cilic and Arnaud Clement.  Based on his play so far, Tipsarevic has to be considered one of the favorites to progress to the semifinals.

I've always thought highly of Tipsarevic's game - it may not be the prettiest, but Janko gives everything he has.  Now he's being rewarded for his efforts.  Tipsarevic has never won a title on tour, but his run this week probably feels like winning one.

WTA - Jie Zheng

ZhengRanked outside of the Top 100, Jie Zheng needed a wild card just to play at Wimbledon this year.  But unlike many wild card entrants who are sent packing after just one match, Zheng has made the most of her good fortune.  She's in the fourth round for the first time in her career, and has taken out some formidable opponents along the way.

Zheng's tournament started off against No. 30 Dominika Cibulkova.  The young Slovak has had a very nice year, and was expected to prevail over Zheng.  Instead, it was 6-4, 6-4 to Zheng, who won 76% of her first serve points in the upset. 

After defeating Elena Baltacha of Germany in straight sets, Zheng had the unfortunate task of playing the top-ranked woman, Ana Ivanovic, in the third round.  Few people, if any, would have picked Zheng to advance.  But as Alla Kudryavtseva showed after ousting Maria Sharapova a day earlier, big upsets can happen.  Lightning did indeed strike twice, as Zheng miraculously beat Ivanovic 6-1, 6-4 in just over an hour.  Zheng played wild - in a good way - and scored one of the biggest results of the tournament.  Her next opponent is No. 15 Agnes Szavay.

Tennis Theatre

I'm sure many of you will enjoy this video.  The accompanying music is great too:

Beyond the Bracket

Heading into the second week of Wimbledon, there are three distinct forces left in the men's bracket: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and everyone else.  I have a question about each of them:

1. Roger Federer: Will slow and steady win the race?

Federer's year has been labeled as inconsistent, with a number of puzzling defeats to lesser players and just two titles to his credit.  But aside from a first round loss to Andy Murray at Dubai, he's reached the quarterfinals or better in every tournament he's played.  He's also reached a number of high-profile finals, including at the French Open.  It was there that Nadal delivered his knockout punch, but by Federer's own admission, he was content with his play in Paris.  "I think, you know, I'm still very we're very pleased, you know, with the efforts I've put in."

The sight of green grass has since been a salve for any wounds Federer suffered on clay.  In Halle, Federer rolled through the field without dropping serve.  And he’s shown no vulnerability at Wimbledon, unlike nearly every other top player.  Surprisingly, Federer has managed to do this all rather quietly.  That’s because there’s been just as much talk about Nadal’s sterling play as there has been about Federer’s quest for six straight Wimbledon titles.

With Novak Djokovic now out of the way, Federer's path to his sixth straight final seems likely.  If he can win there, the doomsday scenario that many have already decreed (that Federer's days as the world's best player are over) may just be all talk.  I still think Federer is the favorite to win at Wimbledon, and win or lose, he's my favorite at the U.S. Open.  Many players start the year strong, but tail off at the end.  Federer is the exact opposite, improving as the year progresses.  That's something many people need to be reminded of.

2. Rafael Nadal: When will he win a Slam away from Roland Garros?

It seems very likely that at some point, Nadal will win a Slam other than the French Open.  Still a pup at 22, time is on his side.  His tennis is still improving – frighteningly.  He’s proven to be a threat on grass, and he’s collected some impressive hard court hardware.  But most importantly, he knows how to win, and absolutely hates to lose.  It’s just a matter of time before he wins in Melbourne, London, or New York, right?

It appears that way.  But there are few guarantees in professional sports, and this is no exception.  Nadal has never played his best at the Australian or U.S. Opens, and he’s going to have to contend with his buddy Federer at Wimbledon for many more years.  Nadal is already a clay legend, but to be considered a tennis legend, you need to win Slams on different surfaces.  It will be a significant and well-deserved achievement if Nadal can win one.

Rafa has another chance this week, and he won’t have to worry about Andy Roddick in the semifinals.  That is, of course, if he gets there.  Nadal’s quarter of the draw is absolutely loaded and no match will be easy from here on out.  Will Nadal win this year, after showing such poise on grass already?  If not, when?  As time progresses, that question will continue to follow Nadal.

3. Everyone else: Has men’s tennis been deeper in years?

It seems strange to ask this question, considering how few players have won Slams recently.  But I’ve been really impressed with many unseeded players at Wimbledon.  Mario Ancic, Marat Safin, Janko Tipsarevic, Marin Cilic and Arnaud Clement all made waves this week and are in the fourth round. 

When looking at this list, I’m struck by the mix of veterans and youth.  Are we at a point where generations are colliding at just the right time?  I sense that many of the ATP's better younger players are just hitting their stride, while the old guard still has plenty left in the tank.

There’s also been a lot of good play this week from some “forgotten” seeded players (as in, not Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Roddick).  Fernando Verdasco, Stanislas Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet, and Andy Murray have all had fine results and have stood out at the All England Club.

All of this could just be a result of playing on grass.  But I think this depth will continue to show itself during the upcoming hard court stretch.

if...

you've ever played on a grass court, did you enjoy it?  (I played on grass for the first time this weekend.  Look for a full report on TENNIS.com in the coming weeks.)

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