TENNIS FRENCH OPEN – The 2014 French Open is finally here! Tennis fans have been waiting with bated breaths because this year’s event, the 47th Championships since the Open Era (1968), promises to be an epic tournament on both the men and women’s sides. Cordell Hackshaw
The 2014 French Open is finally here! Tennis fans have been waiting with bated breaths because this year’s event, the 47th Championships since the Open Era (1968), promises to be an epic tournament on both the men and women’s sides. The draws are loaded and they offer many interesting match ups not only in the first rounds but also in the latter stages of the tournament if seeds hold true to form. The defending champions Rafael Nadal of Spain and Serena Williams of the United States are both here and seeded No1. The world’s number ones have not had a stellar clay court season as they did last year, winning multiple titles at the big tour events. However, they are prodigious talents with both the experience and confidence to put themselves deep in the draws despite the shaky season. Nadal is looking for his 9th overall title in his tenth appearance and 5th in a row here in Paris. The Spaniard’s credentials on clay need no introduction as he is far and away, the greatest clay court player ever. Meanwhile, Williams is going for her 3rd title in Paris. She has never defended the title here making it the only major where she has failed to do so at least once. She has done it at Wimbledon twice (2002/2003 and 2009/2010), Australia (2009/2010) and the US Open (2012/2013). The American might not be the “classic clay court player” but since 2012, she has been showing herself to be quite adept on this surface. Nadal and Williams are also trying to further cement their names in the history books with overall major titles. Winning here will give Nadal his 14th title equally Pete Sampras’s effort and tie him for 2nd on the all-time list. Williams wants to equal fellow Americans Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova to be 4th on the list with 18 singles titles.
Interestingly enough, neither Nadal nor Williams is the overwhelming favourite at this major event. There are several players who see themselves holding up the singles’ trophy at the end of the two weeks. Nadal can expect competition from his “arch nemesis” Novak Djokovic (2) in particular, Stanislas Wawrinka (3), Roger Federer (4), David Ferrer (5), Andy Murray (7) as well as several young players like Milos Raonic (8), Kei Nishikori (9) and Grigor Dimitrov (11). Williams has former champions here Na Li (2), Maria Sharapova (7) and Ana Ivanovic (11) along with Agnieszka Radwanska (3), Simona Halep (4) and Petra Kvitova (5) all looking to take this title away from her. The American has to also deal with her own personal demons which have caused her to self-implode most infamously here in Paris in 2012.
With all that being said, THE DRAWS: In an effort to make things simple, the 128-player draw will be divided into halves and then quarters which will be headed by the top seeds of the sections. These are not predictions but merely possible projections. This is tennis after all. The game is won on the court and not on paper.
Men’s Top Half: Nadal (1)/Wawrinka(3)
Nadal’s Quarter [1/4]: Nadal is likely to face his countryman Ferrer (5) in the quarterfinals but he must get past another compatriot Nicolas Almagro (21) in the 4th Round. Almagro handed Nadal a rare defeat in Barcelona earlier this year. Ferrer might be up against Dimitrov (11) who will be looking to make a major splash here. Tommy Haas (16), oldest man in the draw at 36 as well as one of the youngest, 20-year-old Dominic Thiem of Austria are ones to watch in this section. Thiem who took out Wawrinka in Madrid could face Nadal in the 2nd round.
Wawrinka’s Quarter [2/4]: The 2014 Australian Open champion is looking to be the 1st man since 1992 when Jim Courier did it, to win the first two majors of the year. The Swiss should have a relatively easy time getting to the Round of 16 though Feliciano Lopez (26) might be a bit of a task. Wawrinka could face either Fabio Fognini (14) or homecrowd favourite Gael Monfils (23). Richard Gasquet (12) or Murray (7) could be potential quarterfinals opponent for Wawrinka.
Men Bottom Half: Djokovic (2)/Federer (3)
Federer’s Quarter [3/4]: Federer getting to the finals of majors are no longer foregone conclusions. He has not reached the finals of a major since Wimbledon 2012, his last major victory. In fact, he is now struggling to get to the second week of majors. However, this year, Federer has renewed confidence, strength and a new coach in the form of Stefan Edberg. Things have been going rather well though with the birth of a second set of twins, Federer might be distracted as he lost 2nd round in Rome couple of weeks ago. Nonetheless, Federer will very much like a 2nd French title. He has the unpredictable and enigmatic Tomas Berdych (6) as a possible quarterfinal opponent. There is a possible 4th round clash between the Swiss and Ernests Gulbis (18) of Latvia. An interesting bit of side note: John Isner (10) could possibly face Nicolas Mahut in the 2nd round.
Djokovic’s Quarter [4/4]: There is no doubt about it that Djokovic wants this title badly and honestly, this is a good year for him to do it. He is the odds on favourite to dethrone Nadal here. His preparations have been excellent and he has beaten Nadal twice this season in emphatic fashion. However, he has a “Swiss problem.” In 2011, the Serbian looked poised to dethrone Nadal as he had beaten him 4 times for the year including twice on clay. Djokovic made it to the semifinals but ran into Federer who handed him his first defeat for the year. Federer is now again in Djokovic’s half. Furthermore, Djokovic has only lost to Swiss players this year; Federer twice and more prominently Wawrinka at this year’s Australian Open. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (13) looms in the shadow as a possible Round of 16 foe for Djokovic. There is also a mouthwatering possible Round of 16 match up in this section: Raonic (8) verses Nishikori (9), who is under the tutelage of 1989 French Open champion, Michael Chang. The winner will likely face Djokovic in the quarters.
Women’s Top Half: Williams (1)/Radwanska (3)
Williams’ Quarter [1/4]: There will not be a repeat of last year’s final as both Williams and Sharapova (7) are in the same quarter and slated to meet in the quarterfinals. Williams may in the 3rd round face her older sister Venus Williams (29) who is far from being a threat these days. However, the younger Williams could face Sabine Lisicki (16) who took her out of last year’s Wimbledon. Sharapova could face 2010 French Open finalist Sam Stosur (19) in the 3rd round and possibly Dominika Cibulkova (9) in the Round of 16. There is a dangerous floater in this section in the form of Kaia Kanepi (25) who has made it to the quarters here in Paris twice in 2008 and 2012.
Radwanska’s Quarter [2/4]: Radwanska (3) could be facing Angelique Kerber (8) in the quarterfinals if the seeds hold true to form but the Polish number one has to get passed Spain’s Carla Suarez-Navarro (14) in the 4th round. There is a potentially interesting match in the 3rd round between veteran Flavia Pennetta (12) and rising star Eugenie Bouchard (18). Lurking in this section is the 2010 French Open champion and 2011 finalist Francesca Schiavone.
Women’s Bottom Half: Li (2)/Halep (4)
Halep’s Quarter [3/4] Newly crowned 4th ranked player in the world, Simona Halep will be looking to confirm her new status in the game here in Paris. The Romanian should have an easy time to the quarters as the only player of prominence is Sloane Stephens (15) whose stocks have been quietly declining since her Australian Open semifinal appearance in 2013. Ekaterina Makarova (22) might be a testy opponent for Halep in the 3rd round. Also in this section are 2011 Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova (5) and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic (11) who can potentially meet each other in the 4th round. Last time they played in Miami, Ivanovic lost 12 straight games after taking the opening set. She might want to avenge that horrible loss. Ivanovic will face home crowd favourite Caroline Garcia in the 1st round. 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova (27) is a dangerous floater in this section.
Li’s Quarter [4/4]: 2014 Australian Open champ, Na Li will be looking to collect her 2nd major of the year with a strong showing here. She will have to get passed Andrea Petkovic (28), Caroline Wozniacki (13) and 3-time semifinalist here Jelena Jankovic (6) in the 3rd Round, Round of 16 and quarterfinals respectively. Jankovic could possibly face last year’s semifinalist and finalist in 2012 Sara Errani (10) in the 4th round. It really should be no problem for the 2nd seed Li to move through to the semifinals at the very least as she has shown herself in the past of being a very competent clay court player. However, Li like top seed Williams, has shown in the past to be capable of self-destructing on court.
Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days
The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.
The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.
Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.
There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.
“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”
Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.
“Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.
Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.
“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.
Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.
Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win
Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.
Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.
This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.
“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”
The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.
Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.
This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.
Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells
The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…
Vasek Pospisil faced off against his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it was the world number 13 who got the win after the Vernon native pulled out due to an injury whilst trailing 0-3.
It was a rough start for Pospisil who seemed to struggle with his serve in the opening game of the match and double-faulted twice in a row to give the early break and Shapovalov had no issues consolidating the break.
Shapovalov continued to apply pressure on the Pospisil serve and after saving two breakpoints the world number 68 pulled up after a serve and stopped play, calling for the trainer. He ended up taking a medical timeout off the court and a couple of minutes later returned to court. Pospisil was broken once again and the following game after a couple of returns decided to call it quits.
” It was pretty awful…and if I’m being honest I am shaking a bit…It really sucks I hope it’s nothing serious…He’s a great guy he’s a real warrior he’s fought back from some injuries surgeries to such a great level.” Shapovalov said of his compatriot.
Shapovalov will face 19th seed Aslan Karatsev in the next round after the Russian thrashed Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-0.
In the other results of the day sixth seeed Casper Ruud dominated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2, Roberto Bautista Agut beat the Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 6-3 and Sebastien Korda won an all American battle with Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 6-4.
Finally, Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to beat another American in Maxime Cressy winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.
Simona Halep cruises through to the second round with a straight-set win over Anastasia Potapova in Moscow
Andy Murray battles past Frances Tiafoe in a marathon match in Antwerp
Jenson Brooksby upsets Reilly Opelka to boost his chance to qualify for the Next Gen Finals in Milan
Ekaterina Alexandrova moves into the second round at the Kremlin Cup after Ons Jabeur’s retirement due to injury
Kim Clijsters Still Capable Of Top-Level Wins, Says Former world No.1 Murray
REPORT: Unvaccinated Players Set To Be Banned From Playing Australian Open
Injured Roger Federer Says The ‘Worst Is Behind Him’ As He Targets Comeback In 2022
EXPLAINED: Why Novak Djokovic’s Latest Trip To Bosnia Has Caused Controversy
Roger Federer Says ‘Revolution’ Needed To Help Next Generation Of Tennis Players
Roger Federer Eyes Laver Cup Captaincy Role Post-Retirement
US Open, Steve Flink: “Djokovic’s loss had more to do with fatigue than pressure”
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Steve Flink On Wimbledon: “Bautista Agut would be a tough semifinal test for Djokovic”
Wimbledon, Flink: “Djokovic Will Beat Zverev in the Final”
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