Wimbledon 2011: Men’s Final

What a fortnight it’s been, with new stars emerging and the spectacle of great tennis seen all around the grounds, we’ve finally reached our final day of the tournament. It all leads to the final two men in the draw. Current world number one Rafael Nadal will take on the new number one Novak Djokovic for the title of Wimbledon Champion 2011.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal playing for his third wimbledon title.

  •  1st Round: Michael Russell 6-4 6-2 6-2
  • 2nd Round: Ryan Sweeting 6-3 6-2 6-4
  • 3rd Round: Gilles Muller 7-6 (6) 7-6 (5) 6-0
  • 4th Round: Juan Martin Del Potro 7-6 (8) 3-6 7-6(4) 6-4
  • Quarter Final: Mardy Fish 6-3 6-3 5-7 6-4
  • Semi Final: Andy Murray 5-7 6-2 6-2 6-4

The final of 2007 was the last time Rafael Nadal has lost a Wimbledon match. Ever since then, the Spaniard has won 20 straight matches on the All-England-Match, which excludes his withdrawal from the 2009 tournament. The world number 1 now faces the challenge of rival Novak Djokovic. Nadals recent performances has shown his obvious adjustment to the grass game from his clay dominance.  He’s sailed in the first two rounds of the tournament and was mentally stronger than Muller in the third. In the next three rounds, he would lose one set in each match against former US Open champion Del Potro, American Mardy Fish and British hope Andy Murray to reach another Wimbledon slam final.

However Nadal’s status as the number one player in the world has now been taken by his opponent and regardless of how he does today, he will no longer hold the position. Nadal’s aggressive left-hander style has earned him the place as one of the best players of the sport. But can he summon the strength against the ATP’s new world number one and defend his title?

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic finally reaches his number 1 goal.

  • 1st Round: Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-1 6-1
  • 2nd Round: Kevin Anderson 6-3 6-4 6-2
  • 3rd Round: Marcos Baghdatis 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-4
  • 4th Round: Michael Llodra 6-3 6-3 6-3
  • Quarter Final: Bernard Tomic 6-2 3-6 6-3 7-5
  • Semi Final: Jo Wilfred Tsonga 7-6 (4) 6-2 6-7 (9) 6-3

On the other side of the net, we have Novak Djokovic. All tennis fans would know the tremendous form that the Serb has run this year, with a 43 straight match winning streak and only one loss in the entire year, it’s not surprising that Novak Djokovic is the new world number one. Like his opponent, he cruised through easily in the earlier rounds before running into Marcos Baghdatis which reduced him to smashing his racquet. The struggle seemed to persist against Australian qualifier Bernard Tomic, but won despite the constant shift of momentum during the match. His final challenge and match of his life was against Jo Wilfred Tsonga who pulled off a stunning upset against Roger Federer. He took the first after coming back a break down and took the second convincingly. But the Frenchman fought back winning 11-9 in the third set tiebreak. In a tight fourth set, Djokovic managed to seal victory, a first time appearance in a Wimbledon final and the number one ranking.

Djokovic has had a record breaking run this season which involves a second grand slam title in Australia. Can he continue this form to claim a third grand slam title against the defending champion?

Head To Head

  • Nadal Leads 16-11
  • Last Meeting: ATP World Tour Masters Rome Final, Djokovic wins 6-4 6-4
  • Last Grand Slam Meeting: Us Open 2010 Final, Nadal wins 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2
  • Last Grass Meeting: Queens Club 2008 Final, Nadal wins 7-6 (5) 7-5

Although Nadal heavily favours Djokovic in all time matches, Djokovic has won the last four meetings all in 2011 and the last two encounters in straight sets.

Betting Odds

(From Oddschecker.com)

  1. Rafael Nadal 13/19
  2. Novak Djokovic 10/7

Prediction

My final prediction will say that Novak will win in four sets. I think the confidence he’s earned from this year and  his new status will enable him to win today. Nadal may take advantage of his frustration but in the end, Novak will outplay Nadal for the title.

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Djokovic Streak Ends at 41

The unstoppable force of Novak Djokovic has swept the world of tennis this season. However, his legendary run has finally come to an end. In the he loses after 41 consecutive victories , just one match short to equal the record of Mcenroe’s 42-0 streak in the 1984 season.

It all began in the Hopman Cup where Novak Djokovic didn’t lose a single match. He continued the form into the Australian Open where he beat Roger Federer and Andy Murray in the final on the way to victory. What we didn’t know was that these victories were only the beginning of his phenomenal run.

Djokovic wins the Australian Open.

He then followed this victory by winning in Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome. These victories were also filled with difficult matches which the Serb eventually overcame. Djokovic defeated Nadal in both Indian Wells and Madrid after coming back one set down in both. He then continued this Rafa assault by defeating him again in the final of Rome. But it was Andy Murray who proved to be his greatest challenge. In their three hour encounter in Rome, Djokovic was two points from defeat until a double fault allowed him to come back and win the match. Throughout his streak, he lost ten sets in his matches against Nadal (two), Murray, Federer, Bellucci, Ferrer, Bedych, Lopez and Del Porto.

Coming into the french open, Djokovic emerged as a huge favourite to take it all while some predicted that his streak would end during the fortnight. Novak sailed past his first two matches to meet 2009 US Open Champion Juan Martin Del Potro in the third round. The Serb lost a set but came back the next day to win the next two. On what was supposed to be the match which he would most likely equal the record, his Italian opponent Fabio Fognini withdrew before their quarter final match which gave Novak a walkover into the semis.

Equaling the record suddenly got tougher as his next opponent was 3rd seed Roger Federer. Federer seemed in control as he won the first two sets. The former world number one has never lost a grand slam match from two sets up so Djokovic now faced mission impossible. The Serb began the third set with an early break to lead 3-0. He took advantage of his opportunity and took the set 6-3.

Confident Federer.

Djokovic looks above for help.

The fourth set began with both men holding their serves. In the 9th game at 4-4, Djokovic won a hard earned break to lead 5-4. But Federer denied a 5th set from happening and broke back in the following game. Another match tiebreak occured where dusk approached, the energy of the crowd turned electric and the future of the streak would be determined within the next several points.

The final moments were nail biting tennis. Federer hit his 17th ace followed by a winner to lead 6-3 in the tiebreak. Djokovic then survived a lucky net cord and served an ace to bring the score at 6-5. Hearts raced between the two players, the crowd and all the viewers watching at home. Roger tossed his final ball in the air and slammed an ace right down the middle to bring the crowd at it’s feet.

Federer into the finals.

 

The two champions embrace.

Roger Federer now faces 5 time French Open winner Rafael Nadal in the final in what we hope lives up to all their amazing matches. For Djokovic however, it’s a bitter loss. One win short of history and also one win short of the desired number one ranking. If Federer does defeat Rafa, then Novak is the new number one. In the next few weeks, it’ll be interesting how he bounces back after a tough loss. Though i’m sure that Novak will fight back in his following matches.

French Open Mens Draw Analysis: One Week Later

Unlike the women’s draw, the mens side has been more solid and consistent. With the exception of a few absences and some pretty bad predictions from last week, the big four still remain in contention.

Quarter 1: Nadal

Previous Prediction: Nadal Vs Simon

Nadal hasn’t gone past his first two matches as smoothly as we hoped. Though he proved us wrong by an easy victory against Antonio Veic. He now faces Ivan Ljubicic who defeated an unwell Verdasco. Despite the potential challenge, Nadal will find his way into the quarters. Meanwhile, the following match promises to be battle with two time runner up Robin Soderling and home favourite and french man Gilles Simon. Soderling has the experience, but Simon will have the support.

Nadal Vs Simon

I still stand by my prediction even though Soderling is the better bet. I’m sure Nadal will win here.

Semi Finalist: Nadal

Quarter 2: Murray

Previous Prediction: Murray Vs Melzer

This section has completely opened up for Murray with the defeat of Jurgen Melzer. In the previous match, he badly rolled his ankle and says it still ached during his press conference. If this really does affect Murrays game, we will see a new semi finalist from here. It’s likely to be Victor Troicki who has to get past Murray to equal his best result. This is very difficult to predict with the injured ankle. Argentinian Juan Ignacio Chela and qualifier Alejandro Falla inhabit the other side of this quarter. Both have taken advantage of the open draw and one will achieve their first quarter final in a grand slam.

Troicki Vs Falla

Troicki may take advantage of Murray’s situation while Falla who almost knocked out Roger Federer in Wimbledon will over Chela.

Semi Finalist: Troicki

Quarter 3: Federer

Previous Prediction: Federer Vs Monfils

The quiet man of this years french open, Federer is fine to play with the spotlight on his two higher ranked opponents. He faces compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka who upset the number 9 seed Jo Wilfred Tsonga in a grueling five set match. In the other section is David Ferrer Vs sliderman Gael Monfils. Both have played well this year and have rised in the rankings.

Federer Vs Monfils

Monfils is powerful on clay, but I believe Federer will over come him in this match.

Semi Finalist: Federer

Quarter 4: Djokovic

Previous Prediction: Djokovic Vs Haas

I look back laughing at my prediction. I guess I expected too much of the returning veteran. Djokovic has proven his status as the favourite by defeating Juan Martin Del Potro. He faces another tough matchup against Richard Gasquet and the french crowd. I believe Novak should win this match and will likely win against Fabio Fognini or Alberto Montanes.

Djokovic Vs Fognini

Semi Finalist: Djokovic

Semi Finals:

Nadal Vs Troicki

It should be Murray, but i’ve changed my mind to Troicki after the sprained ankle. I’m sure Nadal will win this in three or possibly four sets.

Finalist: Nadal

Federer Vs Djokovic

An interesting match up, particularly on clay.I trust Novaks streak will still  go on after this match.

Finalist: Djokovic

Grand Final:

Djokovic Vs Nadal

This will be the match of the year. The streak will either end or continue after this tournament. In my opinion, Nadal will be the one ending it. In a grueling five set match I predict the winner will be….

 

Champion: Djokovic

A Look At The First Week Of Roland Garros 2011

There’s nothing more exciting than the first week of a grand slam. For me, this is mainly due to the busy schedule and the amount of matches that are available during the day. The first week of this year French open has been entertaining and yet surprising. The bets placed on players have now been questioned, particularly in the women’s draw. We’ve seen the top two seeds and last year’s runner up in the women’s field defeated. We’ve also seen the king of clay Rafael Nadal struggle to win his matches. The second week will be the business part of the tournament and it will sort out the champions from the tennis players. Before that happens, let’s look back at the memorable moments of the first week.

In the women’s draw, there have been some stunning upsets and some new stars born. I would like to go back to the very first match between Razzano and Gajdosova. This was a very sentimental match as both women have lost their husbands in the past few weeks. Jarmila Gajdosova divorced her husband weeks before the tournament and Virginie Razzano sadly lost her husband to a brain tumor. It’s unfortunate that these two had to meet each other in the first round but I would like to congratulate both women, particularly Razzano on coming back after losing so much.

Virginie Razzano bravely returns after the death of her husband.

Another memorable moment was the match between Lisicki and Zvonareva. Lisicki, a former Wimbledon quarter finalist, is returning from injury and a slump in her ranking and has given the world number three a run for her money. In this match, Lisicki has impressed and shown the potential of what she can bring to the game. It was a close and it was a long match. In the end Vera clinched the match after coming back match point at 5-2 down in the third set. A devastated Lisicki had to be taken off the court on a stretcher due to injury. I hope in the future that Lisicki can get fitter so she can really perform to her ability.

Zvonereva defeats a devastated Lisicki.

We’ve also seen a number of upsets in the women’s draw. Sharapova and Zvonareva were lucky to find themselves coming back to win their tough second round matches. However, Clijsters, Stosur and Wozniacki weren’t so lucky. Clijsters had a convincing lead in her match against Arantxa Rus, but she failed to maintain the lead and ended up losing the match. Meanwhile, the 2010 runner up Sammantha Stosur started off on a bad note by losing the first set. She looked like she was coming back after a quick second set win and an early break in the third set. Dulko continued to play consistently as Stosur began to play numerous unforced errors which in the end cost her the match and possibly, her place in the top 10.

Clijsters digs deep but loses her second round match.

Finally, we’ve seen the world number one Caroline Wozniacki demolished by Daniela Hantuchova. This is an upset that many didn’t see coming. Hantuchova in the past has a history of blowing big leads, but today she kept her level and kept her calm when it really mattered to achieve her equal best place in the tournament. All these upsets have caused the draw to be more open than it was before. This year we could see someone unexpected to win the whole thing, just like Schiavone last year. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the womens field in the next week.

Hantuchova celebrate victory.

We now move to the men’s draw where it’s been more consistent with the top players. We’ve still seen upsets from Berdych, Melzer and Tsonga in the early rounds, but the main competition and threats still remain in play.

Federer has been an underrated pick to win this year. With the focus now on Rafa and Novak, we now see Roger playing under the radar for once. Roger is now into the fourth round without dropping a single set. Nadal on the other hand had an unfortunate first round match up with John Isner. The match required him to fight hard as he faced defeat two sets to one down. In the end, he was able to claim victory over marathon man and big server John Isner. The second round match up was against compatriot Pablo Andujar who has taken fans by surprise by challenging Nadal on his dominant surface. He had great energy and self belief and has now made my list of favourite tennis players. Nadal has progressed now to the third round where he will meet Croatian Antonio Veic who knocked out Nickolay Davydenko in five sets. With the tough competition ahead in his draw, Nadal has to recover his form quickly to what we all expect from him for him to win the tournament.

Nadal celebrates a hard earned win.

Andy Murray has also been an underrated force in this tournament. Despite not being as strong on clay as his other three competitors, his draw has completely opened up with the defeat of number eight seed Jurgen Melzer. Murray will surely make the semis unless he plays terribly. He may not win the championship but he’ll be progressing far into the second week.

Finally, the red hot favourite player of the season and the big favourite to win is Novak Djokovic. Novak is coming in with a huge streak (not sure the exact number as every source tells something different). He’s coming in with a victory against Nadal on clay, which is reasonable for him to be picked as the favourite. But today, Djokovic now faces his biggest challenge in his third match encounter. Argentinean player Juan Martin Del Potro is his biggest threat to making the finals and ending his streak. The match currently stands at 6-3 3-6 and will continue later today. Whoever wins in my opinion will be in the final and likely to win the whole thing as well. For now, the epic battle will continue on court Suzanne Lenglen today.

Thumbs up from Djokovic.

The man who may end it all.

This concludes my look at the first week of Roland Garros. It’s been a really entertaining week and definitely worthwhile for me staying up in the cold to watch the matches. Tomorrow I will make a new analysis with some revised predictions on who will be the winners of the 2011 French open so be sure to follow my twitter account and subscribe to my blog. For now, enjoy the tennis and good luck to the players.