Archive for the ‘bracketology’ Category

statology: runnings the #s on the wta sec field

October 24, 2011
By Christopher Phillips

Maria is rearin’ to go.
(Getty Image)

Who said the numbers don’t matter?
TSF’s resident bracketologist, Chris Phillips, has run the numbers on the upcoming WTA Season Ending Championships to try to shed some light on just what, exactly, may come of the tennis being played in Istanbul. Will Caroline crumble on the pressure? Is Maria meant to be an afterthought for the rest of her carry? Chris carries the 3’s and breaks down the head-to-heads to help us understand.1. Lay off, will ya? Despite all the crap on Caroline Wozniacki not doing well at the Slams, she has the second most points of all the players accumulated at Slams with 3240 point accumulated. That puts her behind Li Na with 3505 — pretty much all from Australia & Roland Garros). Wozniacki maybe hasn’t won one, but she’s definitely the most consistent at them.  The next closest is Petra Kvitova (2785), and then Maria Sharapova(2740).

2. Dark horses in a field of eight? Agnieszka Radwanska and Victoria Azarenka are clearly the players to beat this fall. Aggie is 11-1, winning Tokyo and Beijing and perhaps serendipitously losing in her opener against Lucie Safarova in Moscow. Vika is 9-2, winning last week in Luxembourg.

3. H2Hs m-a-t-t-e-r. Kvitova has the best record against the rest of the field (8-4) followed by Sharapova (7-5). The worst? Azarenka (4-8).

4. Play it, girl. Vera Zvonareva has the most matches against the field with 14 meaning … she’s generally the most consistent out of everyone? It’s hard to say exactly what it means, but Vera’s consistency has helped pay off in the past. Perhaps she can conjure up a big title in Istanbul.

5. A new No. 1? Wozniacki is 1025 points ahead of Sharapova, 1425 ahead of Kvitova and 1805 ahead of Azarenka.  1500 points go to the tournament winner if they don’t lose a round robin match. That means that Sharapova and Kvitova are the only players with a chance of finishing 2011 No. 1.  All Wozniacki has to do is play two round robin matches and Kvitova is out of the running for the top spot. If Sharapova wins the title and Wozniacki fails to make it to the semifinals, Maria is your new No. 1.

6. Li Nahasn’t beat a top 10 player since the French Open. And all five of her wins over the field came from the Australian and Roland Garros.

7. Playing indoors could give Sam Stosur and her booming serve an edge. And she won’t need to worry about Maria Kirilenko.

8. Apart from Auckland and Stanford, Sharapova has only played the Slams and Premier tournaments. She is the only player in the field to win at least one match at every tournament she entered – everyone else had one first-round loss (or second-round loss if receiving a bye).

Chris’ picks: Red Group
1. Kvitova 3-0 2. Wozniacki 1-2 (def. Zvonareva) 3. Radwanska 1-2 (def. Wozniacki) 4. Zvonareva 1-2 (def. Radwanska)
With a three-way tie for second, I’d give the final spot to Wozniacki.
White Group
1. Sharapova 2-1 (lost to Azarenka) 2. Azarenka 2-1 (lost to Stosur) 3. Stosur 2-1 (lost to Sharapova) 4. Li Na 0-3
With a three-way tie for first, I’d give the SF spots to Sharapova and Azarenka.
Semifinals: Kvitova def. Azarenka and Sharapova def. Wozniacki
Finals: Kvitova def. Sharapova
***Wildcard?! Sharapova’s ankle. Chris says: If she doesn’t finish RR then that gives Azarenka and Stosur a good chance to get in there. 

After the jump: Chris breaks down the ladies number by number to give you a clear head on what might/could/should happen. Hey, it’s the WTA!

bracketology: it’s all about serena (plus more predictions)

August 28, 2011

By Christopher Phillips

Venus and Serena: potential final showdown? Or just posing for the red carpets? At the Hamptons magazine cover party last week. (Getty)

More: See Christopher’s breakdown of the men’s side of things here.

Caroline Wozniacki — Quarterfinals | Maybe the world’s no. 1 will play better now that her relationship with Rory McIlroy (someone who has actually won a US Open) is out and she’s back to her winning ways in New Haven. Her draws not the easiest of the top eight. She opens against no. 127 Nuria Llagostera Vives, then would likely play no. 43 Elena Vesnina in the 2nd round. 29th seed Jarmila Gajdosova could be trouble in the third round, but her summer’s been as underwhelming as the Dane’s. Wozniacki’s first challenge is in the 4th against Daniela Hantuchova, the 21st seed. Can the Slovak knock Wozniacki out of a slam for the second time this year?

Vera Zvonareva –- 4th round | The Russian opens against a qualifier and meets either hard-serving Lucie Hradecka or Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round. 30th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues is the first seed Zvonareva will face and shouldn’t pose any difficulties. With all the attention on the slamless Wozniacki, the Williamses, and Maria Sharapova, maybe this is Vera’s year to sneak back into the finals. We can’t completely imagine it, though.

Sharapova –- Finals | The serve seems to be less of a question for Maria coming into this year’s US Open than it has been in recent memory. Maybe because her return game has improved? She beaten four of the top 15 players in the world to win her last tournament in Cincinnati and, given her draw, it’s difficult to see her meeting any real challenges until 5th seed Petra Kvitova or 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals.

Victoria Azarenka –- 3rd round | Were it not for one woman –- 28th seed (?!???!?) Serena Williams –- Azarenka would be a bonafide lock to the semifinals. Unfortunately, Serena stands in her way. Don’t be surprised if some of Azarenka’s nerves about her upcoming match with Serena start showing during her second round battle against Rebecca Marino or Gisela Dulko.

Petra Kvitova –- Quarterfinals | If anyone can get in Sharapova’s way to the finals, it’ll be Wimbledon champ Kvitova. The Czech got the better of the Russian in England –- can she make it two for two this year? She could have a tricky first round against Alexandra Dulgheru and 27the seed Lucie Safarova could prove problems (if not an upset) in the third round.

Li Na –- 4th round | Li is capable of winning this thing or flaming out to Simona Halep in the first round. How about middle of the road? We see her losing to the ever-improving 10th seed, Andrea Petkovic, who has become the belle of the media’s ball this year and will do so even more with a run here.

Francesca Schiavone –- Quarterfinals | She’s got a relatively easy draw until a potential match-up with Cincinnati finalist Jelena Jankovic, the 11th seed, in the 4th round. Winner of that match loses to Serena in the quarters.

Marion Bartoli –- Quarterfinals | Bartoli’s strong statements in Toronto and Cincinnati? They didn’t happen. Marion made the semifinals in Brisbane and Doha earlier this year, finals at Indian Wells and Strasbourg, semis at the French, wins Eastbourne and takes out Serena at Wimbledon in route to the quarterfinals then follows it up with a trip to the Stanford finals. Hopefully early losses in Canada and Cincy — as well as a lackluster performance in New Haven — leaves Marion even more hungry for a run at Flushing.

Serena Williams –- Winner | Somehow she manages to look almost more relaxed and hungrier at the same time than ever before. Her play this summer only reinforces the fact that the rest of the field is just playing for second place. But can she stay injury-free?

Dark Horses | Potential winners? Probably not. But these gals could pull a few upsets and find themselves in week two at Flushing.

Petkovic | Sadly she’s made more news this summer for running off the court mid-match, but she’s got two wins over Kvitova since the Czech’s Wimbledon title, plus hard court wins over Wozniacki, Sharapova, Bartoli, Jankovic and Venus from earlier this season.

Can JJ find her 2008 form at Flushing this year? (Getty)

Jankovic | If anyone has enough gumption and attitude to upset Serena, it’s Jelena. A potential quarterfinal match-up between the two looms.

Hantuchova | With wins this year over Wozniacki, Zvonareva, Azarenka, Li, Bartoli and Venus, she’s capable of beating any given player on any day. Oh, Dani!

22nd seed Sabine Lisicki | The Dallas champ and Xperia Hot Shots winner is on her way back to the top after injury –- nowhere to go but up! But Venus looms in the second round…

TSF Vault: US Open | Bracketology

First Round Matches to Watch

13th seed Shuai Peng vs. Varvara Lepchenko | The Chinese no. 2 pulled out of this week’s tournament in Dallas and withdrew from Toronto and Cincinnati mid-tournament. If she’s not fully healthy, the American Lepchenko could end up with the biggest win of her career.

15th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Sara Errani | The world no. 38 Italian narrowly missed out being seeded and lost a three setter to the 2004 Open champ earlier this season.

26th seed Flavia Pennetta vs. Aravane Rezai | The former top 10 Italian has been slumping the past couple years. Has Rezai shaken off her Aussie Open family drama?

Gajdosova vs. Iveta Benesova The big-serving Aussie has lost in the first round at six of her last seven tournaments.

Jill Craybas vs. Madison Keys | Battle of the Americans –- the old guard versus the new guard.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Polona Hercog | It’s the no. 2 American’s first match back since Wimbledon. If she looks good here, you’ve got to believe she can upset 24th seed Nadia Petrova in the second round and give 10th seed Samantha Stosur a run for her money in the 3rd round.

See the full women’s draw here | Qualies

Predictions | 4th round
Wozniacki d Hantuchova
Petkovic d Li
Serena d Peer
Schiavone d Jankovic
Kvitova d A. Radwanska
Sharapova d Peng
Bartoli d Stosur
Lisicki d Zvonareva

Petkovic d Wozniacki
Serena d Schiavone
Sharapova d Kvitova
Lisicki d Bartoli

Serena d Petkovic
Sharapova d Lisicki

Serena d Sharapova – 2 (relatively easy) sets

bracketology: the men of flushing (and how they’ll fare)

August 27, 2011

By Christopher Phillips

Cool and calm: Novak is the US Open’s top seed for the first time ever. (Getty Images photo)

More: See Christopher’s breakdown of the women’s side of things here.

Djokovic — Winner | Shoulder injury aside, you’d be hard pressed to not pick Novak. He opens with a qualifier then would play either Pere Riba or Carlos Berlocq, two dirtballers, in the 2nd round. His first challenge could be in the third round against Nikolay Davydenko. 13th seed Richard Gasquet, 22nd seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Kei Nishikori, Ivo Karlovic, and Fernando Gonzalez could all be waiting Novak in the 4th round.

Rafael Nadal –- Semifinals | Nadal’s road is quite a bit trickier than that of Djokovic. He opens against Andrey Golubev. The Kazakh is currently ranked no. 97, but the ATP’s Most Improved Player of the year for 2010 was as high as no. 33 in October of last year. Nadal should get through that match without too much difficulty, but could face former Top 5 players David Nalbandian or Ivan Ljubicic in the 3rd Round, then two-time Open Semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny or 17th seed Jurgen Melzer in the 4th round.

Roger Federer –- Semifinals | Federer opens against Santiago Giraldo, who hasn’t played a match on hard courts since Miami, and then could play the Brazilian lefty Thomaz Bellucci, who just missed being seeded, in the second round. Ryan Harrison or 27th seed Marin Cilic should lie head in the 3rd Round with 23rd seed Radek Stepanek, 15th seed Viktor Troicki or Philipp Kohlschreiber potentially waiting in the 4th round.

Andy Murray –- Finals | This summer’s Cincinnati champion comes into New York in fine form. He’ll open against Somdev Devvarman in round one. Big-serving Robin Haase could challenge Murray in the second round and 25th seed Feliciano Lopez in the 3rd round could pose problems for Murray, but his solid return game should counter any danger there. | TSF Vault: Murray

David Ferrer — Quarterfinals | Ferrer reached the semis in New York back in 2007 and lost a thrilling fifth-set tiebreak to countryman Fernando Verdasco here last year in the 4th round. He also tasted a Major semifinal earlier this year in Australia. The only thing that brings about concern about Ferrer living up to his seeding is his lack of hard court match play this summer: an injury sat him out for every event save Cincy. To his credit, however, he beat Roddick and Fish in Davis Cup in early July — two giant wins on American fast courst. His biggest challenge to the quarterfinals will be 10th seed Nicolas Almagro or 21st seed (how strange is that number?!) Andy Roddick.

Robin Soderling –- Second Round | The Swede hasn’t played a hard court match since early losses to Juan Martin del Potro and Kohlschreiber in Miami and Indian Wells, respectively, but follows Djokovic with the second-most hard court championships this year (three). Soderling’s lack of play this summer could send him out early to rising American veteran Alex Bogomolov Jr.. Bogomolov beat Soderling 2 and 2 in Indianapolis in 2004, so there’s no reason to think he can’t do it again.

Gael Monfils –- Quarterfinals | Of the top eight, Monfils has the toughest draw into the quarterfinals. He’ll open against potential future star and current heartbreaker Grigor Dimitrov, before possibly meeting former USO finalist Juan Carlos Ferrero in the 2nd round. 31st seed Marcel Granollers, Albert Montanes or Xavier Malisse could wait in the 3rd round before a potential match-up with 9th seed Tomas Berdych — who’s never made it past the 4th round here — or Montreal semifinalist 20th Janko Tipsarevic in the 4th round.

Not filleted: Fish is riding a strong summer coming into the USO. (Getty)

Mardy Fish –- Round of 16 | Opening against German Tobias Kamke, Fish should have pretty smooth sailing to the 4th round where he’s likely to meet Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tsonga could come through in that match-up, but potential matches against big servers Thiemo De Bakker in the second round and Kevin Anderson or 29th seed Michael Llodra in the third round could give Fish the extra batting practice he needs to beat the Frenchman. | TSF Vault: Fish

Dark Horses | Potential winners? Probably not. But these boys could pull a few upsets and find themselves in week two at Flushing.

11th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga | Tsonga’s play has been one of the most exciting to watch this year. Assuming he’s regrouped and healed since his retirement against Novak in the Montreal semifinals, he’d meet slumping 19th Fernando Verdasco in the third round followed by “your country’s eyes are on you for a change” 8th seed Fish in the R16. Should Tsonga make it through both of those, he’ll face 3rd Federer for the 5th time this year and will be going into that match with some serious momentum beating the Swiss in their last two meetings.

16th seed Mikhail Youzhny | Youzhny has twice been a semifinalist in New York before: last year and in 2006. Despite a relatively easy loss to Nadal here last year, he did get the better of the Spaniard in 2006. He’s set to meet Nadal in the 4th round this year and — given the Spaniard’s unimpressive summer — it’s highly possible that Youzhny could find himself in the semifinals for a third time in six years.

18th seed Juan Martin del Potro | Well… in as much as a former champion can be considered a “dark horse.” JMdP has underperformed this summer, with second round losses to Federer and Cilic in Cincinnati and Montreal, respectively. Perhaps he’s just saving himself for the big show? The Argentine’s first challenge would be against 12th seed Gilles Simon in the 3rd round (Simon has never been past the round of 32). A potential 4th rounder versus 28th seed and Winston-Salem champ John Isner or Soderling would come next.

20th seed Janko Tipsarevic | The Serb loves the big stages and they don’t get bigger than Arthur Ashe Stadium. Janko opens against a qualifier and would face 9th seed Berdych in the 3rd round. Tomas’ track record in New York isn’t very good, so Janko could see himself in the 4th round against Monfils. And depending on the Frenchman’s form that day, perhaps even into the QFs to take on countryman Djokovic.

TSF Vault: US Open | Bracketology

First-Round Matches to Watch:

Youzhny vs. Ernests Gulbis | The Latvian was at his career peak at no. 21 in the world earlier this year, but has done little this summer since upsetting del Potro and Fish on his way to the Los Angeles title. He got the better of Youzhny at the Masters tournaments in Paris and Madrid last year.

23rd seed Radek Stepanek vs. Kohlschreiber | The dancing Czech dropped out of the top 70 earlier this year, but his title in Washington bodes well for him. The German has seen better days — but he’s always capable of an upset.

Harri situation? Ryan’s always an eye-brow raiser. (TSF)

Cilic vs. Harrison | Can the young (hot) American continue his hot summer?

Isner vs. Marcos Baghdatis | Just about anytime the Cypriot is on court, it’s going to be a fun match.

32nd seed Ivan Dodig vs. Davydenko | The Russian and former world no. 3 missed being seeded by a few spots, but twice a semifinalist here, he knows how to get it done.

Fernando Gonzalez vs. Ivo Karlovic | It’s great to see the Chilean back in action. Combined ages? 63.

See the full men’s draw here | Qualies

Predictions | 4th round:
Djokovic d Gasquet
Monfils d Tipsarevic
Federer d Stepanek
Tsonga d Fish
Del Potro d Isner
Murray d Wawrinka
Ferrer d Almagro
Nadal d Youzhny

Djokovic d Monfils
Federer d Tsonga
Murray d Del Potro
Nadal d Ferrer

Djokovic d Federer
Murray d Nadal

Djokovic d Murray – 4 sets

bracketology: the women at wimbledon

June 19, 2011

By Christopher Phililps

For Wimbledon, our resident bracketologist, Chris Phillips, takes a look at both the men’s and women’s draws and breaks down who he thinks are going to be the winners — and losers — in the London this year. -NM

Look who’s back! Both Williamses are seeded for the Championships — and on opposite sides of the draw. (Photo by Stuart Tree via Flickr)

Caroline Wozniacki
Prediction: R3

Caroline’s only made it as far as the fourth round here twice in the past, including last year. Unfortunately, we don’t think this time she’ll be as lucky as her likely third round opponent will be hard-serving Jarmila Gajdosova. A loss to the upstart Gajdosova will only cast more doubt on her no. 1 ranking.

Vera Zvonareva
Prediction: QF

Last year’s finalist should feel good coming into the Championships winning a tough three-setter over Serena Williams in Eastbourne. Her consistency alone could ensure her another run to the final, but we think she’ll only make it as far as the QFs. Even in this questionable era of women’s tennis, Vera just doesn’t have what it takes to win a Major.

Na Li
Prediction: R2

Historically — well, the past couple years at least — it seems the women’s French Open champion hasn’t fared too well (Ivanovic, Kuznetsova and Schiavone are a combined 4-3) at Wimbledon. Given Li’s post-Australian Open slump, I fear history is set to repeat itself.

Victoria Azarenka
Prediction: R3

She’s only been a QF here once and went out to Marion Bartoli in Eastbourne — with an injury. Vika’s just too mercurial for us ever to put too much hope in her. She’s beginning to beg the question: is it ever going to happen? So far, it doesn’t look like it. Vika’s results just don’t live up to the hype (or the grunt).

Maria Sharapova
Prediction: Winner

It’s been a long, hard road for Maria back to the top and this will be the title that signifies to the world that she’s finally back. The one achilles’ heel will be her serve — it must stay on. But Maria loves the grass, and seven years after she won her first Slam we think it’s due time for a little bit of dejå ju in the final. Over Serena in the semis? Why  not.

Francesca Schiavone
Prediction: R16

If she can get past her first match with the recently-hot Jelena Dokic — which could be awfully difficult on grass — she’s got a pretty soft draw until she’ll run into Andrea Petkovic or Shahar Peer in the fourth round.

Serena Williams
Prediction: SF

How she’ll do is anyone’s guess. (Not even Serena knows!)  She could take the whole thing, but with probably the most unfavorable draw of the top eight seeds, she’s going to have a hard time getting there. If Serena gets past Aravane Rezai in her opener, she may have to deal with tricky Serbian Bojana Jovanovski in the second round, with sometimes giant-killer Maria Kirilenko possibly waiting in the third round and former Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli in the fourth. | More: Ladies’ draw

Petra Kvitova
Prediction: Finalist

One of last year’s surprise semifinalists and this year’s Eastbourne finalist should do well on the grass courts this year again. Kvitova shouldn’t have too much trouble until running into Venus Williams or Zvonareva in the QFs, but she has a good relationship with the All England Club and will go a step further this year, solidifying her spot as a contender for future Slams.

Marion Bartoli
Prediction: R16

Even though Bartoli won Eastbourne, we’re still a little concerned about a (groin?) injury she seemed to obtain. Assuming she’ll be fit enough to play, Marion has a soft draw until she’d meet Serena in the fourth round.  The winner of that match — likely to be a slug-fest — should make it to the SF. Serena’s superior movement should get her past the French Open semifinalist, even if she isn’t at her baseline best.

Samantha Stosur
Prediction: R16

Another player who’s grass court play hasn’t seemed to have lived up to her potential. Another big server who’s yet to make it past the third round.  That’ll be her first battle here where her likely opponent will be the Chinese player Shuai Peng. But like Sharapova, if Stosur can get along with her serve and make it work for her, she could be dangerous.

Read Chris’ “Best of the Rest” (that includes Venus!) and see the most anticipated first-round match-ups after the cut. (more…)

bracketology: chris breaks down sw19 (men)

June 19, 2011

By Christopher Phililps

For Wimbledon, our resident bracketologist, Chris Phillips, takes a look at both the men’s and women’s draws and breaks down who he thinks are going to be the winners — and losers — in the London this year. -NM

Rafael Nadal, above, practicing yesterday at Wimbledon: Ripped and ready. (Getty Images)
Prediction: Winner

Last year’s champion had a surprising QF loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga two weeks ago, but I think after a long clay court season and successful French Open, the extra days off will have served him better than the match play — even on grass. | More: The men’s draw

Novak Djokovic
Predition: SF

Nole is on his first losing streak of the year — one match. A two-time semifinalist here, including last year, his form this year should carry him through any problems he may have had in the past adjusting to the lawn. But a title? Not yet in London for Novak.

Roger Federer
Prediction: Finalist

Roger’s six titles here speak for themselves.  Even though he lost at Roland Garros to Nadal in the final, his quality of play there should keep him playing to the best of his ability. And everyone knows: Wimbledon is Roger’s favorite tournament of the year. | TSF Vault: Roger at Wimbledon

Andy Murray
Prediction: SF

This year’s AEGON champion made quick work of the field in London with wins over Tsonga, Andy Roddick, Marin Cilic and Janko Tipsarevic. I’m sure the British press doesn’t know how much extra weight they can put on their own man again.  The quieter they keep, the better the Brit will do. But are we kidding ourselves? Andy-mania has already hit the entire country! Here’s to two weeks of painful and pressure-building headlines in the morning papers. All the same, Murray will do what he usually does in London — make it to the semifinals.

Robin Soderling
Prediction: QF

Soderling’s best result here was the QFs last year.  You’d think the big man would do better on the lawns with that serve of his.  By skipping all the warmup tournaments, his first couple matches could be difficult. The Sod has Halle finalist Philipp Petzschner in the first round, then either Kei Neishikori (Eastbourne semifinalist) or Lleyton Hewitt (2002 Wimby champion) in the second.

Tomas Berdych
Prediction: R16

Last year’s surprise finalist has a relatively easy draw until he runs into unseeded German and this year’s Halle champion Philipp Kohlschreiber or no. 10 seed Mardy Fish in the fourth round. Has anyone else suffered more of a muted last 12 months than Berdych? His first-round loss at the French only punctuated what has been a disappointing spell for the Czech.

David Ferrer
Prediction: R16

The seventh-seeded Spaniard has never had his best results on the grass, only reaching the fourth here twice (including last year).  He’ll most likely run into this year’s AEGON finalist Tsonga in that same stage this year.

Andy Roddick
Prediction: QF

The American’s best days are behind him and Murray’s rather swift dismantling of Roddick in the AEGON QFs still has to be hurting. Having skipped most of the clay court season, I think Roddick would’ve been better off to get some extra match play and confidence-building wins in this past week rather than take more time off.

Gael Monfils
Prediction: R16

The Frenchman has underperformed here in the past, only going as far as the third round in four appearances. Monfils’ first formidable opponent would be no. 23 seed Janko Tipsarevic, with the winner most likely facing Roddick in the fourth round. Tipsarevic is questionable after an injury over the weekend in Eastbourne, and if Monfils can get through his first few rounds unscathed, the athletic speedster could pick up steam and surprise a few in the second week.

Mardy Fish
Prediction: R2

Of the leading Americans, Fish has the toughest draw. He could face Kohlschreiber in second round, then Fernando Verdasco, Radek Stepanek or Robin Haase in the third round, the furthest he’s previously gone at Wimbledon. The streaky German will get the best of the American, we think, in the round of 64.

Read Chris’ “Best of the Rest” as well as the most anticipated first-round match-ups after the cut. (more…)

roland garros bracketology: the ladies

May 19, 2011

By Christopher Phillips

[Ed note: Chris Phillips, part of TSF West, files his thoughts on who’s hot, who’s not and who might just make a run at this year’s Roland Garros. -NEM]

Franny was feeling it last year. But can she re-capture her Parisian glory?

Caroline Wozniacki | I know Caro’s spring hasn’t been the best, but she’s 15-3 on the dirt, winning in Charleston in April. Yes, she lost to upstart German Julia Goerges twice and went out to Maria Sharapova in Rome, but with her earliest loss being the round of 16 in Madrid, I still think she has to be the favorite going in — just not as big of one as she was a few weeks ago. Result: Runner-up (to Kvitova in three-set loss)

Maria Sharapova | I’ve always been a bigger fan of Maria on clay than she has been herself.  She won Rome beating four of its top ten seeds (Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Samantha Stosur and Shahar Peer) without too much difficulty and went out the week before that to former FO semifinalist Dominika Cibulkova in Madrid in the round of 16. A semifinalist back in 2007 and three-time quarterfinalist, Maria pushed Justine Henin to three sets last year before bowing out.  She’s got nothing to lose. Result: Semifinal

Francesca Schiavone | I think I was the only one who wasn’t surprised — okay, completely surprised — by her victory last year. Even though her results on clay this year have been sub-par, I think Franny will have more confidence and desire going into Roland Garros than she did last year. But will it all come together? Result: Quarterfinal

Vera Zvonareva | She’s only played two clay court tournaments all season losing to Stosur and Petra Kvitova but Vera is as unpredictable as her emotions — you can’t count her out. Result: Semifinal

Victoria Azarenka | She’s 12-3 on clay this year but was forced to retire against Sharapova in her last match. Azarenka’s best victory on the dirt this season has been over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. And here’s something that might surprise you: Of the five times she’s played the French, she’s lost in the first round three out of five tries — including last year to Gisela Dulko. Result: Quarterfinal

Petra Kvitova | The Madrid champion (and Prague challenger finalist … what?!) has wins over Zvonareva, Li Na and Azarenka on the dirt. But can she make a deep run here? Result: Champion

Kim Clijsters | She’s decided to play Roland Garros, her first clay court tournament of the season after injuring her foot in April. A two-time finalist and semifinalist last year, she’ll be a contender but I don’t know if she’ll be a threat. It all depends which Kimmie shows up, and the two months of not playing could help or hurt — depending on how you look at it. Result: Fourth round

Sam Stosur | Since Roland Garros last year, where Stosur reached the final, she was yet to make it to the finals of another tournament until this past week in Rome. Granted, her loss to Sharapova wasn’t pretty, Stosur has beaten Zvonareva, Schiavone and Li Na in the past few weeks on red clay. She was a semifinalist in 2009 and came into the French last year on a hot streak but can she repeat her success? As we’ve learned with Sam, it’s up to her head more than anything else if that forehand can swing freely — and controlled. Result: Fourth round

Jelena Jankovic | Jankovic has underperformed as well this year but she’s reached the semis in Paris three times before. If she equals that mark again, I don’t think many would consider it a surprise. More trouble: Janky upset in Brusells Result: Fourth round

Li Na | Li started 2011 on a hot streak Down Under, but has fizzled since. The last two weeks she’s shown signs of life again with semifinal appearances in both Madrid and Rome. Granted Li had no real significantly mentionable wins in those two tournaments, maybe that’ll be the kick she needs to get back on track for the year in Paris where she’s never lost before the third round. Result: Fourth round

Who are the dark horses in the women’s field? Find out after the cut.


roland garros bracketology: the fellas

May 19, 2011

By Christopher Phillips

[Ed note: Chris Phillips, part of TSF West, files his thoughts on who’s hot, who’s not and who might just make a run at this year’s Roland Garros. -NEM]

With the men’s and women’s most significant clay court tournaments just completed and a handful of players getting their last bit of match time in this week, let’s take a look at some of the contenders for the 2011 French Open.  I’ve listed my top 10 favorites below in my own rank order as well as some other players to watch who’ve had notable achievements this year or in the past.

Rafael Nadal | While the tennis talk of the town has definitely been focused on Djokovic the past five months, I still believe this title is Nadal’s to lose. Djokovic has beaten Nadal four times this year with his last two on clay, but beating Rafa three out of five sets is much tougher of a challenge than beating him two out of three.  If anyone can do it though, Nole’s your man. Result: Champ (d. Djokovic in five-set final)

Novak Djokovic | I think at some point “streak pressure” has got to get to him.  Once people start asking how long can you keep it going is usually about when it stops, especially when it becomes the only question (in 20 different forms) in the media room. I detected a bit of panic on his face when he was two points away from losing to Andy Murray in the Rome SFs.  If you’re looking for more reasons he won’t beat Rafa, Nole lost to Jurgen Melzer last year in the QFs after holding a two-set lead.  Additionally — and one of the reasons why I think Murray was as successful against Novak as he was in Rome — is that nobody on the tour expects to beat this guy right now, giving them an increased ability to feel like they can swing away at their shots.  That being said, anything less than a trip to the final for Djoko would have to qualify as the biggest upset (for whoever snacks on him) of the year so far. Result: Runner-up

Roger Federer | As the oldest of the top three, the great one is past his prime … but this doesn’t mean another major (or two or three) are beyond him. But I just don’t see it happening here, nor do I see him as the victim of an upset.  He’s played eight tournaments this year winning one (Doha) and losing five to either Nadal or Djokovic.  What should be most troubling for Roger however is his straight-set loss to Melzer in the Monte Carlo QFs and losing two tiebreaks to Richard “Baby Federer” Gasquet in the third round at Rome. Result: Quarterfinals

Andy Murray | Murray’s year has been up and down, but the most encouraging thing for him going into the next two weeks should be the fact — not that he’s 13-7 on the year — but that he’s 7-3 on clay with two of those three-set losses to Nadal and Djokovic, respectively.  Hopefully these semifinal runs in Monte Carlo and Rome will give him the encouragement he needs to turn his game around for the year. More: Will Andy be OK despite his ‘injury?’ Result: Semifinals

David Ferrer | Ferrer is 15-3 (Update: DF upset by Alexandr Dolgopolov in Nice) on clay this year with his losses coming solely to … Nadal and Djokovic.  He’s had wins on the dirt over Melzer (twice), Nicolas Almagro (twice), Serb Victor Troicki, Jaun Monaco and Feliciano Lopez.  It’s going to take one of the big four to take him down. Result: Semifinals

Robin Soderling | Soderling’s made the past two finals at Roland Garros, but given his play this year, it’s difficult to see him going for a three-peat. He’s won three hard court titles (Brisbane, Rotterdam and Marseille) but has gone 5-4 on clay with his deepest run to quarterfinals in Rome, Madrid and Estoril.  Three of those losses were to Djokovic (losing most recently 3 & 0), Federer and Del Potro … but the other was to Ivan Dodig.  He also struggled against Almagro, Fernando Verdasco and Jeremy Chardy.  If any of the top eight are ripe for an early upset, it’s the Swede. Result: Quarterfinals

Scalp man: Soderling has had big wins the last two years. Don’t expect him to make it three in a row.

Tomas Berdych | Berdych made it to the SFs here last year, but hasn’t won a title in over two years. His record on the dirt this year is 5-3 with his most significant wins over Monaco (twice), falling at or before the QFs in all three events. His record going into Roland Garros last year wasn’t entirely dissimilar, but it’s hard to see him reaching the SFs again. Result: Quarterfinals

Nicolas Almagro | Many have considered Almagro to be the Spanish clay court successor to Nadal, but he’s yet to live up to any of that hype.  He’s 20-4 on clay this year with two South American titles (Buenos Aires and Costa Do Sauipe) with wins over Sam Querrey, Juan-Ignacio Chela (twice), Tommy Robredo, Nikolay Davydenko, Ferrero and Jose Acasuso. His clay success has helped him crack the top ten for the first time in his career. In seven trips to Paris, he’s lost to top 10 players on five of those occasions and twice been a quarterfinalist. The real question seems to be: Can Almagro finally break through to his predicted potential? Result: Quarterfinals

Richard Gasquet | While he’s 4-7 lifetime at Roland Garros (yep! You read that right.), four of those losses have been to top ten players (Murray last year after leading two-sets-to-none, Nadal and David Nalbandian (twice) and a fifth to eventual champ Albert Costa in 2002 (Right, we forgot about Albie, too).  So far this year on the dirt, Richard is 8-4 with three losses to top 10 players (Nadal twice and countryman Gael Monfils).  His play in Rome (with victories over Federer and Berdych) was inspiring and should serve him well in Paris. But will the home crowd be too much once again? Result: Third round

Stanislas Wawrinka | He’s 10-6 at Roland Garros, but — similar to Gasquet — three of those losses were to top ten players (Federer, Ivan Ljubicic and Nalbandian) and the other three losses were to future top ten players (Davydenko and Fernando Gonzalez) and eventual 2002 finalist (the now-forgotten Mariano Puerta).  Even though his 7-5 clay court record this year leaves plenty to be desired, needless to say it takes a considerable player to take out the second-highest Swiss player in Paris. Result: Third round

For a list of other players to watch, click to keep reading. (more…)

chris: how the women will fare in the desert

March 7, 2011

The women’s draw for the BNP Paribas Open came out today, and TSF bracketologist Chris takes a look at who’s going to end up the last women standing.

The WTA has had 8 different winners at this event over the past 10 years; 7 of those are in action here. All are in the top 32 and will get a bye into the second round.

Caroline Wozniacki: There’s been a lot of debate recently about Caro’s slamless #1 ranking. She went 31-5 on North American soil last year and has finalist points to defend here. She’s drawn to play Pennetta in R16, which’ll be the toughest test — along with questions about the legitimacy of her top ranking — on her way to the semis. Final.

Kim Clijsters: If we did our calculations properly, Kim needs to best Caroline by just one round to reclaim the top ranking. But her track record, both overall — 16-2 on the year and 27-3 since (and including) the 2010 US Open — and at Indian Wells — twice a champ (pre-retirement, in ’03 and ’05) — might not be enough to buoy her through the toughest draw of the top 4 women’s seeds: Groth in R32, Petkovic or Bartoli in R16, Kvitova, Jankovic or Ivanovic in QFs. SF

Vera Zvonareva Vera’s won her before (in 2009, the title that catapulted her in the rankings and helped her gain control of her emotions) and lost to a formidable Stosur in R16 last year. Of the top 4, she has the easiest route; the only woman in the way is Schiavone in the QFs. Win.

Sam Stosur: We’re still waiting for Sam to bounce back from that loss to Schiavone at the French. The Aussie’s 6-6 on the year and 10-11 since the US Open. Those SF points from last year are going to be hard to defend; we don’t expect her to make it past the QFs with this draw: Hantuchova in R32, Sharapova or Rezai in R16, Li, Kuznetsova or Petrova in QFs. QF

Francesca Schiavone: It took seeing Schiavone in person at Indian Wells last year (she lost that match to Rezai) for us to appreciate her athleticism. She’s never made it past R16 here (a three-set loss in ’08 to eventual champ Ivanovic) but we’re giving her a little bump past that. QF

Jelena Jankovic: The San Diegan (soon!) and defending champ has a dismal IW record (six first- or second-round losses in nine appearances) yet plays well on the California hard courts. That being said, she’s only 7-4 this year and finished last year 5-11 after Wimbledon. Needless to say, this is the biggest slump she’s been in for quite a while. Despite semi loses to eventual champs Wozniacki (Dubai) and Zvonareva (Doha), I thought she was in good form. R16

Li Na: She started 2011 with a title win in Sydney and an appearance in the AO finals. However, Li’s lost in the first round of her two tournaments since. We’re hoping this is just a period of adjusting to being on everyone’s radar (Ed: even our non-fan parents are talking about her!). While she made the IW semis in 2007 (loss to eventual champ Hantuchova), Li probably needs one more post-AO tournament to get her back into form. She’ll be back by Miami. R16

Victoria Azarenka: Vika’s been many a journalist’s pick for slam contention for quite a while now, but we don’t agree. She needs to work on her mental state and physical fitness to match her potential. R16

Agnieszka Radwanska: We’re putting her in the same lot as Azarenka (though we prefer her game over Vika’s). Aga’s a defending semifinalist and reached the QFs in ’08 and ’09. QF

Shahar Peer: A middling year thus far with an 8-5 record, but Shahar’s hovering near her career-best ranking so she must be doing something right. QFs here in ’07 (loss to Hantuchova) and R16 in the past two years. R16

Svetlana Kuznetsova: Sveta’s had a better 2011 compared to how she did in 2010 this time last year. She played well as she handed Henin the Belgian’s final career loss in Melbourne, and there was no reason why she should’ve lost that epic match against Schiavone. (Sveta got her revenge by taking out the Italian on the way to the Dubai final.) All that being said, after reaching the Indian Wells finals in 2007 and 2008 she lost her first match here in the last two years. What should we expect in 2011? We’re thinking that seeing the ups and downs of her countrywomen — Safina’s ranking slide (but now a doubles specialist!), Vera’s potential ascent to #1 (something Sveta’s yet to do despite having two majors), Dementieva’s tearful retirement, and Sharapova’s continued commitment to the game despite injury — will give her a little something more to fight for. She’s only 25 (seriously?!) and can still get 5-7 years of play, so she should decide whether to push back to the top or be content in top 30 purgatory. Lucky for us, she seems to be on the Masha/Bepa train instead of Elena/Safina. SF

Petra Kvitova: All’s good with the Czech, who’s 16-2 record for 2011 matches that of Clijsters (whom she defeated in the Paris final). Her only losses are in the QFs in Melbourne (Zvonareva) and a two tiebreaks in Dubai to Morita. Kvitova’s third trip to IW will have her in the same seciton of the draw as Jankovic and Ivanovic. We have her going out to Clijsters in the quarters. QF

Ana Ivanovic: Nowhere to go but up for the Serbian, who followed a title and a finals appearance (in ’08 and ’09) with a first round exit in 2010. Ivanovic got her act together and went 21-6 to finish the year, picking up titles in Linz and Bali. Unfortunately, she’s sputtered in 2011 so far. Can the desert winds bring back some of her mojo?

Daniela Hantuchova: The two-time IW winner (’02 and ’07) has done alright so far, taking the title in Pattaya City with a win over Zvonareva then lost to her in 3 tight sets in the Doha quarters. We’re expecting her to take out Stosur on her way to the quarters. QF

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Jarmila Groth, Gisela Dulko, Greta Arn: All these ladies have won titles this year. Pavs and Groth are seeded but will run into Peer and Clijsters in the second rounds. We think Dulko’ll go the deepest into the draw. Vania King shouldn’t pose too much trouble in 1R and Kanepi (R64) and Wickmayer (R32) are always liable to be upset.

1 Woniacki d 13 Pennetta
9 Radwanska d 8 Azarenka
26 Hanutchova d 16 Sharapova
11 Kuznetsova d 7 Li
5 Schiavone d 10 Peer
3 Zvonareva d Dulko
12 Kvitova d 6 Jankovic
2 Clijsters d 15 Bartoli

Wozniacki d Radwanska
Kuznetsova d Hantuchova
Zvonareva d Schiavone
Clijsters d Kvitova

Wozniacki d Kuznetsova
Zvonareva d Clijsters

Zvonareva d Wozniacki

wimbledon brackets: roddick the bridesmaid…

June 20, 2010

Our resident bracketologist Chris is also helping us tease out the 2010 Wimbledon Men’s Singles bracket. He has Murray crashing out of the fourth round to Sam Querrey (?!), and the lanky Socal native joining Roddick, Nadal, and Federer in the semis.

(Who do you have going deep into the event? Share your picks in the comments of this past week’s Sunday Survey!)

Read on: Chris’ Men’s Picks after the cut…

wimbledon brackets: a year later, will it go back to venus?

June 20, 2010

We had Chris look through the 2010 Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles Draw and give us his picks for the Sweet Sixteen and onwards. He roots for the undervalued Sam Stosur and bets on the Williams sisters overcoming tough draws to face each other in the finals. He’s also gunning for Venus to brush off last year’s 7-6, 6-2 drubbing and take back the title.

(And poor darling Brit Laura Robson for drawing Jankovic in the first round.)

All the nitty gritty: Chris’ 2010 Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles picks for the final rounds, the first-round notables, and potential upsets — all after the cut…

video: australian open draw predictions

January 16, 2010

We break down the men’s and women’s draws for this year’s Australian Open, set to begin on Monday. Click the image to watch.

chris’ final four: federer, murray, haas (!), del potro (!!)

June 22, 2009

With the bottom half of the men playing out their matches, its status quo so far, save for the early exit of 21st seed Feli Lopez. (Congrats to Karol Beck for capitalizing on his lucky loser luck!)

So, as with every major, we’ve asked our resident bracketologist Chris to give us his predictions for this fortnight.

He’s expecting Haas to shine (a title win over Djokovic at Halle), Fish to have his 18-month check-in with the media (last time was Miami, right?), and Karlovic to serve his way through the round of 16.

Meanwhile, Del Potro should make a statement on the grass and Kiefer will run away with that protected 33rd seeding and make it all the way to the quarters.

See how it’ll all play out after the cut…

fed or murray: who has the weaker draw?

June 22, 2009

Roger Federer and Andy Murray will have cake(crumpet?)walks on their way to that men’s Wimbledon final, but it’s worth considering the Davids that could topple these grass Goliaths.

1R: Federer faces Yen-Hsun Lu of Taipei, who does better on faster surfaces. (Murray: Robert Kendrick)

2R: Murray will have to deal with either Gulbis or Dent. You can never discount the hard-serving (and tall) American on a surface like this, especially when he’s already warmed up by making it through qualifying. (Federer: Calleri or Gigi Lopez)

3R: Federer could face Kohlschreiber, who we expect to give the former champ the most trouble before the final.

4R: Murray has to deal with Wawrinka or Safin. You never know what you’ll get with those two. (Federer: Soderling)

Quarters: Murray will play Gonzo, Kiefer or Simon.

aussie open: chris sees a venus/serena final

January 12, 2008

Chris has told us his picks for the men’s draw (and about ruing the loss of Rebound Ace). Now he does the women…

Top half, first quarter: (draw)

Okay, let’s get the match we all want out of the way first -– Lindsay Davenport vs. Maria Sharapova. I pick Davenport to blow Sharapova out of the water much the same way Serena did last year. Davenport rides high on emotion, momentum, and motherhood into the quarterfinals.

Unfortunately she’s going to run into perpetual party-pooper Justine Henin. Expect the Belgian to coast through her first three rounds, dropping no more than five games total. She won’t even be challenged until facing Tati Golovin or Sybille Bammer. Tati will breeze through her early rounds just as easy as Henin, but’ll go down to Henin in two close sets.

Top half, second quarter: (draw)

The next quarter opens with the most interesting first round match-up in the women’s draw: Jankovic vs. Tamira Paszek. Despite Jankovic’s poor play at the Hopman Cup and the Tour Championships, she’ll make it to the quarters (with a few three-setters, I’m sure). Jelena’s biggest threat is the winner of the MauresmoSchnyder match in the the third round. Mauresmo’s ’06 Australian Open title means nothing now; I question her desire to win and compete. Schnyder takes this one.

Serena makes her way to the quarterfinals by beating Nicole Vaidisova in a tight match in the Round of 16. Serena takes out Azarenka on her way there while Vaidisova goes through Zvonareva and hometown favorite Alicia Molik.

The semifinals will feature yet another rematch between Henin and Serena. The stakes here are a little higher (this being a semi and all), and now these girls have a history. Serena’s hunger and drive (plus her trim bod) pushes her through to the finals.

Bottom half, first quarter: (draw)

The top quarter here comes down to Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic. As usual, Venus will struggle with her first round opponent (Yan Zi) but gains momentum as she goes deeper into the tournament. Gold Coast champ Li Na continues her excellent post-hiatus form and (barring injury) defeats Marion Bartoli on her way to the Round of 16. Ivanovic will go through Safina and Srebotnik with little difficulty to get to the quarters, but will hit the Venus wall for the third consecutive slam. (Why aren’t these two getting the same attention as Serena and Henin?)

Bottom half, second quarter: (draw)

The final quarter is a little more open. Kuznetsova is my only lock for the semis. On her way she takes out Dechy, and teenagers Radwanska and Szavay. Her quarterfinal opponent is a little more up in the air but I’m going to go with Dani Hantuchova. Chakvetadze needs more time to shake off the robbery (which left her hands injured, from being bound) and will go out to Krajicek in the third round, if not earlier. Krajicek, as my dark horse pick, will make the Round of 16.

I see a Venus-Kuznetsova semi and, despite her success this year at Sydney, I see Kuzie clamming up and going down in two disappointing sets.

Quarterfinals: Henin d. Davenport, Serena d. Jankovic, Venus d. Ivanovic, Kuznetsova d. Hantuchova

Semifinals: Serena d. Henin, Venus d. Kuznetsova

Final: Serena d. Venus. Yes, I am predicting a Serena and Venus final, their first since the 2005 US Open. This will be one of the sister’s better slam finals against each other. I expect Serena to win in three.

What are YOU thinking? What do you think of Chris’ picks? Who do you think is ripe for success Down Under? Who’s ready to get upset? Which match-ups are you looking forward to? Tell us!

aussie open: chris’ picks for the men’s draw

January 12, 2008

Below are Chris’ picks for the men’s singles draw. (Printable draw here:

Top half:

You can’t bet against top seed Roger Federer. He opens against the dreamy Diego Hartfield, who gave R-Fed two tight sets in the first round at Roland Garros in 2006. This time, Diego will be blown out of the water.

One of the most interesting first round match-ups is Fabrice Santoro against John Isner. Isner hasn’t quite developed his slam chops, so I’ll tip my hat to Fabrice. That, and I’m secretly gunning for the guaranteed entertainment of Federer versus the Frenchman in the following round.

Roger’s semi appearance is a given, but it’s tough picking for the other slot because there are seven former slam finalists in this half. Instinct says to pick one of those guys…

Djokovic: Nole is the highest seed and the logical choice, but I think he’s due for a sophomore slump and I didn’t find his play at the Hopman Cup all that impressive. [Erwin: not to mention his back is already misbehaving.]

Hewitt: God bless him, but surface change or not (and backed by Tony Roche or not), the Aussie hope will be lucky to get to the Round of 16. He should just pass things on to Chris Guccione and have some fun.

Safin: With Marat, as always, it all depends on who shows up, plus he comes in with not having played a professional match since his loss to Ivo Karlovic in last October’s TMS Madrid. He could very easily go out to his first round opponent, up-and-comer (and Aussie Open first-timer) Ernests Gulbis. Hey Vern, I pick the kid to win this one.

Johansson: The Swede hasn’t mattered since his eye injury and he plays Baghdatis in the first round.

Nalbandian: The Argentine is suspect due to his back.

Ferrero: Juanqui has a tricky first round against Kiefer, but the Spaniard should get through.

Baghdatis: Marcos has played well at Kooyong this week and will come into the Open with that momentum. I pick Baghdatis him to make it past Johansson and Gulbis on his way to the semifinals.

Aside from those seven, there’s also David Ferrer. He’s mellowed significantly compared to his year-end play (vying for TMC Shanghai against Roger), but if he gets hot he has a chance to get to the semis.

Dark horses: My dark horses in this half are Dmitry Tursunov and Gooch -– who just happen to be meeting in the Sydney finals this week. This match will probably be an indication if my dark horse selection is accurate.

Tursunov’s biggest challenge would be Djokovic in the third round, but maybe that’s when Djoko’s sophomore slump fails the Serbian? And if the seeds hold up, Guccione has big upset potential against streaky Gonzo in the second round; then Almagro, who’s never made it out of the first round in Melbourne; then either Blake or Ljubicic in the Round of 16. I’m going to bet (which I can do. But not you, Potito Starace!) on James or Ivan not playing their best. Gooch makes it to the quarters.

Bottom Half

Mostly a boring bottom (hyuk) half, but there are a few gems like the potential Round of 16 match between Richard Gasquet and this year’s Doha champ, Andy Murray. Andy will be tested by his tough first round match-up against surging Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. If the Scot makes it through that, he’s through to the semis.

Murray’s quarterfinal opponent won’t be fourth seed Kolya Davydenko, who hasn’t shaken off the betting scandal and could lose to Adelaide champ Michael Llodra. Despite Youzhny and Karlovic (that’s the Croatian word for “tie breaker”), I pick Stanislas Wawrinka to make it through to the quarters for a rematch of the Doha final.

In the final two quarters, only three names matter: Andy Roddick, Rafa Nadal, and Mardy Fish. I like the way Mardy looked at the Hopman and he did well in Melbourne last year. He’ll go out to Roddick in the Round of 16 in a fun and friendly encounter.

Nadal’s health and fitness I think will be a non-issue here and his biggest roadblock to the quarterfinals is fellow mallorquín Carlos Moya. They had a tight match (three tiebreaks) sets earlier this year in Chennai, but Nadal should take this one in four.

Despite Murray’s recent form, the Australian heat takes it’s toll on him and we see the Murray of old — Crampy McCramps — lose to Roddick in three. [Erwin: but what about all that Bikram yoga he’s been doing?]

Quarterfinals: Federer d. Guccione, Baghdatis d. Ferrer, Murray d. Wawrinka, Roddick d. Nadal

Semifinals: Federer d. Baghdatis, Roddick d. Murray

Final: Roddick d. Federer. I know, I know, that’s a pretty big limb I’m on but I don’t think Federer is coming into the Open at 100% and Roddick will be riding his wave of confidence from his Kooyong success. Making it all the more bittersweet will be the fact that Roddick finally gets his win in Melbourne, and not under the Flushing Meadows.

What do you think of Chris’ picks? Tell us!

jnp’s aussie open thoughts: the williams sisters aren’t at 100%, davenport won’t go far, and paszek gets screwed

January 11, 2008

As you may already know, I leave the bracketology to the experts. So now that the Australian Open draws have been announced (see them here), I asked JNP to weigh in. Here’s what he wrote back:

“I filled out my womens bracket last night here’s what I ended up with:

Henin beats Sharapova in the quarters and Vaidisova in the semis, and she’ll face Kuznetsova in the finals…

Sveta will get there by beating Chakvetadze in the quarters and Ivanovic in the semis (so I picked the favorites for the most part, but I would not be suprised if some newcomer goes deep)…

I’m doubting the Williams sisters are 100%…

Paszek got f***ed over in the draw; she has to face Jankovic in the first round…

The most interesting match on paper is Sharapova vs. Davenport in the second round. I don’t see Davenport going far, not when she has to play Sharapova that early…

Lastly, I think Radwanska, Wheeler, and all the qualifiers have a real shot to upset some of the top players.

Oh, and I like Federer‘s chances.

YOUR predictions: Who do you think is ripe for success Down Under? Who’s ready to get upset? Which match-ups are you looking forward to? Tell us!

shanghai: the men clean up good

November 11, 2007

david ferrer - tennis masters cup 2007

Have you seen those photos from Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai’s opening ceremonies?

Simple lapel-less dark grey suits with light blue cheongsam-cut dress shirts on David Ferrer (above), Fernando Gonzalez, Richard Gasquet, and Nikolay Davydenko; while Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic decided to pair their shirts with tuxedo jackets… what?!? Of course, prom queens Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal stood out in their black suits.

Gone are the silk fabrics and the flowers — a marked improvement from what they wore in 2006 and 2005.

See pics of the other seven guys (and a list of seedings and predictions) after the cut.

trophy watch + year-end championships

November 5, 2007

justine henin - year-end no. 1

We all breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing a cleaned-up Justine Heninsans pirate pants, that is — receiving this lame trophy from the SEWTA in Madrid. The Belgian will finish 2007 as the No. 1 player female tennis player in the world. This is the second year in a row that Justine has achieved this feat; she also did it in 2003.

Look at those biceps. Rawr.

Of course, Henin’s in town to vie for Sony Ericsson Championships, which begins next week. On the Baseline handicaps the field.

My picks: Henin wins the Yellow Group round robin and Daniela Hantuchova wins the Red Group. Henin takes it all. Who do you think will win? Tell us!

(Henin photo via Getty Images; group photo via WTA)

>> what’s in this week’s water?: justine henin cleans up
>> justine in armani
>> henin channels her inner rafa
>> TSF’s trophy watch

JNP’s day five wrap

August 31, 2007

Well Day Five at the U.S. Open was an awesome day for Novak Djokovic. The Serbian outplayed Radek Stepanek in an ESPN Classic-style 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (2) battle.

On the women’s side, Venus, Dinara Safina, Ana Ivanovic, Serena, and Henin all won their matches, Jankovic defeated Alize Cornet in three sets.

Tommorow John Isner and Donald Young both play, so that should be interesting. By the way, in case you’re wondering: it’s Donald Oliver Young, Yes, his middle name is Oliver; I asked him today.

P.S. On my way home I got a small Cherry Berry float from Burger King… kinda awesome.

JNP’s day four wrizzap

August 30, 2007

Donald Young, way to get lucky! Don’s opponent Richard Gasquet withdrew from the tournament, leading me to believe will have a leg up in his next match. Although we did not get to see that possible five-set battle (and we predicted the Frenchman would win), we did see a lot of good matches: Svetlana Kuznetsova ran off an upset by beating Camille Pin 6-3, 4-6, 6-0. Also Masha won her match 6-1, 6-0.

Tommorow on the women’s side look out for some upsets, *cough* *cough* *French* *cough* *qualifier*.

On the men’s side, Tomas Berdych, Tommy Haas, and Andy Roddick all won in convincing fashion. Lastly, Fabrice Santoro should be inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame!!!

Who’s hot:

  • Tamira Paszek
  • Anabel Medina Garriques
  • Maria Kirilenko
  • Roger Federer
  • Nicole Vaidisova
  • Mikhail Youzhny

TSF contributor JNP is in the trenches and checking in with us everyday.

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