Wimbledon 2011: Review Of The First Week

As Wimbledon takes it’s traditional break today, we shall look back at the week that was of this years Wimbledon championship. This tournament has come with stunning memories, frustrating rain delays and surprises in both the men’s and women’s singles.

The headline news of the womens field is the long anticipated return of the Williams sisters. Venus returns after a hip muscle injury which sidelined her for the majority of the season. The four time Wimbledon champion faced the toughest battle against the 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm who took Venus to the distance. However it was nerves from Date-Krumm which helped Venus in the end as she enters the 3rd round and now will play in the fourth.

Venus Williams scrapes through an epic second round match against Kimiko Date-Krumm and is now in the second week of the tournament.

For Serena, the comeback to Wimbledon meant much more. After winning the championships last year, she had an accident in a restaurant by stepping on glass. However this injury would then lead to several medical problems which put Serena out for 11 months. She now returns, more thankful than ever. She too has engaged in some battles with three sets against Aravane Rezai and Simona Halep. However she comfortably won the gruntathon between her and Maria Kirilenko which earns her a spot in the fourth round where she will meet and inform Marion Bartoli.

Serena on fire against Maria Kirilenko.

In the beginning of the tournament, many players are either delighted or disappointed with their location within the draw. But imagine how it felt for John Isner and Nicolas Mahut to verse each other once again in the first round following their longest ever match last year. This was the match that the sporting world was talking about. But many questioned if this sequel of the Isner and Mahut saga would be just as good as the first. Unfortunately, this match didn’t go the distance as many hoped. Isner successfully prevented another marathon, much to the dismay of fans, winning 7-6 6-3 7-6. It took nine hours less to win this time around.

No marathon this time for Isner and Mahut.

This years championships has also been shaken up by numerous upsets from both the mens and the womens side. The womens side has lost 4 of its top 10 seeds before the beginning of the second week. Australian Sam Stosur was the first to be ousted as she lost to Melinda Czink in the first round. The nexpected upset of the French Open Champion Li Na came next as she lost an epic battle with wild card Sabine Lisicki. Finalist Vera Zvonereva was favoured to be a finalist or even win this years championships, but last years semi finalist Tsvetana Pironkova had different plans as she got revenge by winning in straight sets. Schiavone was the last upset of the top 10, blowing several opportunities and losing 11-9 in their two day match against Tamira Paszek.

Lisicki celebrates her win against Li Na. The score was 3-6 6-4 8-6.

The top men have been more solid with Murray, Federer and Nadal all cruising from match to match. Djokovic faced a challenge against Baghdatis which lead him to boiling point and a smashed racquet. However he still ended up winning in 4 sets. Unfortunately, top 10 seeds Roddick and Soderling weren’t so lucky.

Andy Roddick came in favour to win his match against the Spaniard in their third round clash, winning their last 7 meetings. But a big service game and a dominant and aggresive game plan lead Andy Roddick packing early, leaving a quarter final epic against Murray to never be fought. Another surprise was Robin Soderlings surprising loss against Aussie teenager Bernard Tomic. A stomach illness appeared to be troubling the Swede, but the Australian kept delivering different shots which frustrated the number 5 seed. After coming back two sets to love against Hewitt in the previous round, he was unable to pass another Aussie as Tomic wins the biggest victory so far in his career.

Feliciano Lopez shocks Andy Roddick in the third round.

On of the surprising events of the tournament was the form of the two qualifiers in the mens draw. Bernard Tomic and Lukaz Kubot both came from qualifying and have now reached the fourth round. Kubot had a great run in back to back grand slams with a 3rd round appearance in Roland Garros. He ousted an impressive field of competitors from Ivo Karlovic, Arnaud Clement and Gael Monfils and will now face Feliciano Lopez. Bernard Tomic as mentioned before has had stunning run and shows signs of the future of Australian tennis after Lleyton Hewitt. After ousting Davydenko, Andreev and Soderling, he now faces Belgian Xavier Malisse.

Tomic on a run at Wimbledon.

 

Before we conclude, this years Wimbledon has also been filled with some hilarious moments. It started with Caroline Wozniacki crashing Novak Djokovic’s press conference and grilling him about his one match losing streak. Also Ryan Harrison had a hilarious moment during his shirt change. It seemed he couldn’t figure out how to put on a shirt. Also a first round match up between Americans Alex Bolgomolov Jr. and Donald Young had a intense situation turn awkward and comical. Watch below to see what happened.

This concludes my review on the first week. For more posts on Wimbledon and tennis in general, subscribe or RSS to my blog. Also follow me on twitter for updates on current and future posts and events. If there is anyone you know who would enjoy this or should be recommended to, please share. Once again thank you for reading and feel free to comment on your view of Wimbledon.

All images are courtesy of the official Wimbledon page.

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The Curse Of Winning Roland Garros

Henin. Ivanovic. Kuznetsova. Schiavone. Li.

All these women have won the French open title in the past few years. But all have one thing in common. All have failed to deliver two weeks later in Wimbledon.

Justine Henin

Justine Henin with her biggest weapon.

Henin is known by many for her superb one handed backhand, the variety in her game and the mental toughness which she possesses. She has been ranked number one in the world and has won seven grand slam titles, four of which came from Roland Garros. The only missing grand slam is Wimbledon. She’s come close many times, making the finals in 2001 and 2006. She followed her 2007 Roland Garros win with a surprising semi final loss to Marion Bartoli.

It was this tournament which brought her back from retirement in 2010, hoping she’d follow Roger Federers success at claiming his first French Open title in 2009. However it was the quarter final match against Clijsters which gave her an injury which ended her season.  It would be this injury which would force her to retire again in January 2011.

Ana Ivanovic

Ivanovic celebrates a hard earned victory.

In 2008, the whole tennis world seemed to be glued and obsessed with the Serb sensation Ana Ivanovic. She had everything, the big game, the confidence and the beauty which rivaled Maria Sharapova. Her dreams would come true in 2008 after she defeated Dinara Safina in the final of the French Open which would earn her a first grand slam and the world number one ranking.

But in Wimbledon, the pressure of her new status seemed to show as she struggled to get past her second round match against Natalie Dechy and then lost in the third round against then wildcard Jie Zheng. This loss would be the first of many as Ivanovic continued to lose match after match. Her ball toss was gone and her confidence had evaporated as she fell as low as number 65 in the world. However, the end of the 2010 season seemed to show some hope as she battled back into the worlds top 20.

Svetlana Kuznetsova

Svetlana Kuznetsova wins her second grand slam title in Roland Garros 2009.

In 2009, many eyes were on world number 1 Dinara Safina to win her first grand slam. In the final, it was Dinara who struggled as Kuznetsova sent blow after blow of winners to earn a seocnd grand slam title. In Wimbledon, Kuznetsova faced German up and comer Sabine Lisicki in the thrid round. This would be a bad day for the Russian as she lost her match and left the court in tears.

Francesca Schiavone

Schiavone beats Stosur in the French Open final in 2010.

The veteran stunned many tennis fans world wide as she took a surprising win in the 2010 French Open. However it was two weeks later when the Italian would face a shock. Her first round opponent Vera Dushevina came back from a set down to win in three sets against the French Open champion. Although she failed to deliver in Wimbledon, she delivered in the following grand slams with quarter final performance in the US Open and Australian Open and has made the final of this years Frenchh Open.

Li Na

Li Na during her French Open win against Francesca Schiavone.

Chinese player Li Na has already achieved so much, particularly for her country. She reached the Australian Open final for the first time in her career and was the first Chinese player to do so. Li Na came as a somewhat underrated force in the French Open. But she soon delivered as she battled past the likes of Kvitova, Azarenka and Sharapova for a place in the finals. She faced the defending champion Francesca Schiavone which she would win in straight sets, making her the first female Asian player to win a Grand Slam.

Two weeks later in the current Wimbledon championships, Li Na came in as one of the favourites to win the title. However many underestimated the ability of the German wildcard Sabine Lisicki. Coming back from injury, Lisicki was thrilled to be playing again in the tournament which she reached the quarter finals two years ago. The first set went to Li Na and Lisicki took the second. The final set would then become nail biting as Lisicki kept pulling huge serves and Li Na was beggining to feel the pressure. In the end, Lisicki would pull off a surprising win against the Chinese, breaking over a billion hearts in the process.

Federer Vs Nadal: 2011 Roland Garros Final Preview

The greatest rivalry in mens tennis continues as Roger Federer from Switzerland and Rafael Nadal from Spain will battle in what will be their 25th meeting. They’ve versed each other in 8 grand slam finals, with the last meeting in the 2009 Australian Open Final. With the form these two have shown in the tournament, this promises to be a thriller of a match.

  • Head To Head: Nadal leads 16-8
  • Grand Slam Final Head To Head: Nadal leads 6-2
  • Last Meeting: ATP World Tour Masters 1000, Nadal wins 5-7 6-1 6-3
  • Last Clay Meeting: ATP World Tour Masters 1000, Nadal wins 5-7 6-1 6-3
  • Last Roland Garros Final Meeting: Final, Nadal wins 6-1 6-3 6-0

Rafael Nadal

As we’ve just seen above, the statistics heavily favour the king of clay. He’s beaten Roger Federer four times in the french open and three times in the final. He showed huge domination in their last meeting in the 2008 final.

  • 1st Round: John Isner 6-4 6-7 6-7 6-2 6-4
  • 2nd Round: Andujar 7-5 6-3 7-6
  • 3rd Round: Veic 6-1 6-3 6-0
  • 4th Round: Ljubicic 7-5 6-3 6-3
  • Quarterfinal: Soderling 6-4 6-1 7-6
  • Semi Final: Murray 6-4 7-5 6-4

Nadal began the tournament with lackluster performances against his first two opponents. Many doubted his ability and the possibility of winning this years title. It wasn’t until his quarter final against Robin Soderling where eyebrows were raised and doubters were silenced. He showed a dominating force against the Swede which would then continue in the semi finals. He now comes into the finals as the favourite to win the title.

This time around, there’s more at stake for the world number one. If he wins tonight, he’ll equal Bjorn Borg’s record of six Roland Garros titles. If he loses, he will lose his number one ranking to Novak Djokovic.

So will we see Nadal make history? Or will we see a brand new world number one?

Nadal will play for his 6th Roland Garros title.

 Roger Federer

The Swiss maestro is arguably the best player of all time. He’s won 16 grand slam titles but only one french open title. The year he won, he defeated Soderling in the final who knocked out Nadal in the 4th round. Roger Federer comes into this match with a lot to prove.

  • 1st Round: Lopez 3-6 4-6 6-7
  • 2nd Round: Teixeira 6-3 6-0 6-2
  • 3rd Round: Tipsarevic 6-1 6-4 6-3
  • 4th Round: Wawrinka 6-3 6-2 7-5
  • Quarter Final: Monfils 6-4 6-3 7-6
  • Semi Final: Djokovic 7-6 6-3 3-6 7-5

Roger Federer came into the tournament as the number 3 seed and under the shadow of his younger competitors. Throughout the past fortnight, he’s proved us wrong and shown that he’s still a force within the men’s game. He’s only one set this french open and has played an overall better tournament than Nadal. Many of us predicted that Roger would be knocked out by Djokovic. But in fact it was Federer who surprised and ended the 43 match winning streak. Following this win, Roger will surely come in playing the best clay court tennis of his life.

In the previous round, Federer ruined Novaks chance of history when he stopped his legendery streak. If Roger wins tonight, he will stop Nadal equaling the record number of French Open titles and also knock Nadal off the number one ranking.

Can the swiss maestro finally overcome Nadal on clay? Or will NAdal be too strong once again?

Federer hopes to beat Nadal for the first time at Roland Garros.

 Betting Odds:

  1. Rafael Nadal 2/5
  2. Roger Federer  2

My Prediction

I’m unsure what will happen. Federer is playing the best clay court tennis of his life but Nadal seems too strong. Who could forget their last meeting in 2008. Three years later, he now has his own french open title. I’ll definately be rooting for the underdog Federer. But the statistics of all the head to heads and Nadals dominating force on clay is what makes me favour Rafa winning this year’s french open.

Schiavone Vs Li Na Preview

After a fortnight of thrilling tennis, we come to the end with two remaining in the women’s draw. Both have waited for this moment their whole lives. For Li Na, it’s an attempt to be the first Asian player ever to win a grand slam. While for Schiavone, she’s here to become the first Italian winner to successfully defend the title. Who will win? In a few hours we’ll find out.

Li Na

  • 1st Round: Zahalvaova Strycova 6-3 6-7 6-3
  • 2nd Round: Soier-Espinosa 6-4 7-5
  • 3rd Round: Cirstea 6-2 6-2
  • 4th Round: Kvitova 2-6 6-1 6-3
  • Quarter Final: Azarenka 7-5 6-2
  • Semi Final: Sharapova 6-4 7-5

The Chinese tennis player has made her second consecutive grand slam final. In the beginning of the week, many doubted that she would even pass the quarter finals. She’s now well exceeded those expectations and is now fighting for the title.  She’s defeated three top ten seeds with her aggressive baseline play. She holds the expectations of over a billion people who are desperate to see her succeed. Li Na lost her previous grand slam final in Australia against Kim Clijsters in three sets.

Has she learned from her mistakes to give her the best opportunity in winning the final? Or will the expectation be too much?

Can Li Na make history?

 Francesca Schiavone

  • 1st Round: Oudin 6-2 6-0
  • 2nd Round: Dolonts 6-1 6-2
  • 3rd Round: Peng 6-3 1-2
  • 4th Round: Jankovic 3-6 6-2 4-6
  • Quarter Final: Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 5-7 5-7
  • Semi Final: Bartoli 3-6 3-6

In 2010, Schiavone surprised many when she won the french open and her first grand slam at 29 years old. One year later, she finds herself in the same position once again, except this time, one year older and a more experienced and confident player. The Italian is known for her passionate and fiery play which is a thrill to watch. She’s came back from the dark in her quarter final match at 6-1 4-1 down against Pavlyuchenkova. Her stunning one-handed backhand gives glimpses of Justine Henin while her all-court game and big personality intimidates the women she faces.

Can Schiavone relive the success she achieved last year? Or will her fiery personality and the increased expectation be her down fall.

Can Schiavone repeat victory?

Betting Odds:

  1.  Li Na 4/5
  2. Schiavone 1

My prediction sees a possible three set match from happening. I’ll be rooting for Li Na purely because i’m asian. But Schiavone last year went for it despite being her first grand slam and coming in as an underdog. So as much as I would love an Asian victory from Li Na, I see Schiavone successfully defending her title at Roland Garros.

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.

Roland Garros: The Womens Semi Finals

128 women, 5 rounds of tennis matches and we now have our final four. Despite the upsets of some favourites, in my opinion, we have a solid and impressive field of semi finalists. Who will win?

Li Na Vs Maria Sharapova

  • Head To Head: Sharapova Leads 5-2
  • Last Meeting: 2010 Birmingham Final, Li wins 7-5 6-1
  • Last Clay Meeting: 2009 French Open 4th Round, Sharapova wins 6-4 0-6 6-4

This will be an interesting match up because not only are both women tough and formidable opponents, but this is the first time the two verse since Li Na’s coach has left without notification and moved on to coach Maria Sharapova. A bit of drama we have here but this match is really unpredictable. Sharapova may have the advantage as she recently won in Rome which is her biggest clay title of her career. Li Na comes in after overcoming what was thought to be a tough draw with Zahlavova Strycova, Kvitova and Azarenka.

Prediction: Li Na in 3 sets.

I don’t know why, but i’m going with who I actually think will win. Head to head favours Sharapova but Li Na has improved since then. But i’m also just as likely to be proved wrong.

Marion Bartoli Vs Francesca Schiavone

  • Head To Head: Schiavone leads 5-1
  • Last Meeting: Wimbledon 2009 3rd Round, Schiavone wins 7-6(5) 6-0
  • Last Clay Meeting: Never

Marion Bartoli comes in the semi finals with a big win against 2009 French open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. Bartoli has had a fairytale run in her home grand slam and hopes to continue into the finals. She faces another French Open winner in Francesca Schiavone. Schiavone comes in as the favourite to win this match. She’s overcome tough matches from Jelena Jankovic and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and will be sure to fight once more today.

Prediction: Schiavone in straight sets.

The odds favour Schiavone as well as the experience. However Bartoli has proved me wrong by beating a grand slam winner in the quarter finals and may prove me wrong again. I see Schiavone though being too strong for the french woman.

Betting Odds

  1. Maria Sharapova 11/10
  2. Francesca Schiavone 3
  3. Li Na 10/3
  4. Marion Bartoli 7

Good Luck to all women today. They’ve all played consistently to get this far in the tournament. In the end there will only be one winner so let the best woman win.

 

 

Roland Garros Quarter Final Review

The last two days of quarter finals is done and we now have our semifinalists. We’ve seen players step up to the occasion and get one step closer to the final. Although Novak Djokovic got a walkover into the semi finals, for everyone else, it wasn’t that easy as they battled the wind to get into the semi finals. Now we look back at the last two days of matches.

Federer Vs Monfils 6-4 6-3 7-6(3)

The Swiss maesrto is matched up against home favourite Gael Monfils. Gael Monfils came into this match an underdog despite winning their last match in the Paris Masters. Monfils began with a roaring start as he lead 3-1 in the opening set. Federer then bounced back to put the set back on serve. The 2009 champion didn’t allow Monfils any more chances as he took the first set 6-4, and won the next 6-3. Monfils began to lead Federer in the third set where Federer once again raced back from behind. The third set was determined by a tiebreak where he won 7-6 (3) in two hours and 34 minutes of play. Roger Federer will now play the long awaited match against Novak Djokovic in the semi finals.

Monfils congratules Federer.

Schiavone Vs Pavlyuchenkova 1-6 7-5 7-5

The veteren Schiavone battles against the Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who has just reached her first grand slam quarter final and also upset the number three seed Vera Zvonereva. The match started with a surprise as Pavlyuchenkova dominated the first hour of play leading 6-1 4-1.It seemed all was lost for Schiavone until she battled back with the fierce passion she’s known for and won the second set 7-5. She continued the momentum in the third set with a dream start at 5-1. Pavlyuchenkova refused to go away as she went for all or nothing. The final set equalled at 5-5 where both players traded game points and break points where Schiavone finally broke and served for the match. Schiavone then clinched victory on her third match point and earning a place in the semi finals. Although Pavlyuchenkova didn’t win today, she leaves with a promising future ahead. Schiavone will now face Marion Bartoli for a place in the final.

Schiavone through to the semi finals.

Bartoli Vs Kuznetsova 7-6 (4) 6-4

The frenchwoman Bartoli comes in as the underdog against 2009 french open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. Unlike Svetlana, Marion comes in with the home crowd behind her. She used this advantage to battle past the Russian. She lead 5-3 in the opening set before losing focus to see the scoreboard at 5-5. The set eventually went into a tiebreak where Bartoli took advantage of the situation and claimed the first set. She lead 2-0 in the second and both women began to hold their serves. Leading 5-4, Bartoli seized her opportunity and raised her arms in the air as she won match point. The last French woman to win the french open was Mary Pierce in 2000. Bartoli has come one step closer to becoming the next french woman to win her home grand slam.

Victory for Bartoli.

 

Li Na Vs Azarenka 7-5 6-2

Victoria Azarenka comes into her match one of the favourites to win this years french open. Her Chinese opponent Li Na comes into this match as the 2011 Australian Open runner up and her first appearance at the quarterfinals in Roland Garros. Both women have had success this year so this promised to be a thrilling clash. The match began with both women holding their serves in the first set.  Li Na eventually broke Azarenkas service game and won the first set 7-5. Azarenka fought hard to get back into the match, but the world number six was too strong as she took out the second set 6-2. Li Na will now face Maria Sharapova in the semi finals.

Li Na ousts Victoria Azarenka.

Sharapova Vs Petkovic 6-0 6-3

Both Maria Sharapova and Andrea Petkovic have claimed victory over each other this season. However it was Sharapova who was too much for Petkovic as she won convincingly on her least favoured surface. The match started with complete dominance from the Russian with a 6-0 2-0 lead. Despite what the score suggests, Petkovic actaully had game point in each game. The German seemed to be fighting back to equal the score at 2-2. Both women would then break each others serves. However, this game would be the last won by Petkovic as Sharapova raced to victory with 6-3 in the second set. She now faces Li Na in her semi final and equals her best result in the french open.

Sharapova screams into the semis.

 Murray Vs Chela 7-6 7-5 6-2

The result of this match was a predictable one, but the scoreline was not. The fourth seed who injured his ankle in his third round match, recovered from two breaks down in the first set only to win 7-2 in the tiebreak. The momentum seemed to switch to both men in the second set where despite blowing a 5-2 lead,Murray eventually took the second 7-5. Chela began to break down as the Brit began to lead the third set. After 2 hours and 53 minutes, Murray reached his first Roland Garros semi final and sets up a clash against world number 1 Rafael Nadal.

Murray in semis for the first time.

Soderling Vs Nadal 6-4 6-1 7-6

Robin Soderling is the only man ever to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. He proves as a huge threat as Nadal has struggled to play his best. The demonstration that the number one player has shown has silenced the doubters.  Nadal took early domination against the Swede with a convincing 6-4 win in the first set and a 6-1 win in the second set in just 33 minutes. The plan Soderling went for wasn’t going well as he hit many balls wide and saw Nadal chase ball after ball to see them smashed past him. The third set proved to be a thriller as Soderling dug deep and broke Nadals serve to equal at 5-5. After many incredible rallies, Nadal took the third set at 7-3 in the tiebreak to reach the semi finals. He now faces Andy Murray in the semi final and has now regained his form.

Nadal during an incredible rally.