June 30, 2011
Friday’s order of play at Wimbledon will feature the men’s semifinals.
June 30, 2011
(June 30, 2011 – Toronto) – Tennis Canada announced today that Milos Raonic (Thornhill, Ont.) will not be participating in Canada’s Davis Cup tie against Ecuador, scheduled for July 8-10 in Guayaquil. Canada’s four-person roster will be Philip Bester (Vancouver, BC), Daniel Nestor (Toronto), Peter Polansky (Thornhill, Ont.) and Vasek Pospisil (Vernon, BC).
“There was always a five-player contingency travelling to Ecuador,” said team captain, Martin Laurendeau. “Now with Milos out, Bester, Nestor, Polansky and Pospisil will represent our country. Just like any other tie in South America that we’ve played, we know this will be a challenge but the guys are all ready to do their best to help us win.”
Raonic is unable to compete due to a hip injury sustained on June 22 during his second round match at Wimbledon. He is still undergoing medical examinations to determine the severity of the injury.
“No decisions have been made with regard to Milos’ treatment,” said Michael Downey, President and CEO of Tennis Canada. “As we head into Canada Day weekend, we encourage tennis fans from coast to coast to rally behind our country’s Davis Cup team as they prepare to compete for a chance to advance to the World Group playoffs.”
This tie will mark the seventh meeting between the two countries. Ecuador has won five ties compared to Canada’s one. The last tie between the teams finished 3-2 in Ecuador’s favour in 2009 at Rexall Centre in Toronto. The winning team this time around will play for a spot in the World Group in September in a playoff tie. Tom Tebbutt will be on location in Ecuador and will serve as official blogger for the tie. Fans can read his analysis and follow the tie on Tennis Canada’s official website: www.LoveMeansNothing.ca.
June 30, 2011
It was truly a breathtaking upset. One the tennis community will be talking about for a long long time.
With many big events still on the horizon, tennis has seen its one defining moment in 2011. Nothing will supplant the memory of Roger blowing his first ever two-set to love lead in a major championship in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon yesterday.
No matter what happens in the remaining matches at Wimbledon, or this year’s US Open or our own Rogers Cup – the loss yesterday from what seemed to be an insurmountable lead will stay with me for as long as I’m a tennis fan. And I hope it’s not the way Roger will be remembered when he finally hangs up his racquet.
The sporting community has a terrible habit of isolating certain events (good or bad) and labeling them to the athletes forever. Bill Buckner’s horrific mistake cost the Red Sox the World Series in 1986 and he will never be able to erase that memory. Jana Novotna had a Hall of Fame career but she is only remembered for blowing a 4-1 third set lead against Steffi Graf.
Fed’s loss to Tsonga is on par with Rafa losing to Soderling at the French Open in 2009. Both results were jaw dropping moments that will be remembered as some of the greatest upsets in tennis history. However, for me the Federer loss is more stunning because he comfortably led two sets to love and looked in complete control 90 minutes into the match. Roger blowing a two sets to love lead just doesn’t happen – he is the greatest front-runner the game has ever seen. Very similar to his good buddy Tiger Woods. El Tigre had never blown a lead entering the final round of a major championship until he was shockingly caught by Y.E. Yang in the PGA championship in 2009.
Absolutely mind-boggling! Almost impossible given the circumstances – here are the factors that made Federer’s loss such a stunning result:
Roger was 178-0 when leading two sets to love – the odds of a Federer loss to a player ranked well below him (with a two set lead) would have been .005%
Rogers is a 6-time champion at Wimbledon and was the favourite this year based on his stellar play in Paris leading up to this championship.
Grass is supposed to be his favourite surface – although with back-to-back losses in the quarter-finals (last year he lost to Berdych) and the lawns playing like a fast clay court – this may no longer be the case.
Roger had massive motivation to win his 7th title and tie the all-time record with Pete Sampras.
Roger owns Centre Court at the All-England Club – this court has meant as much to him as Stade Roland Garros has meant to Rafa.
Tsonga was on the ropes after playing a horrendous second set tie-break. The commentators, viewers, patrons and players (maybe not Tsonga) had already started talking about a French Open semi-final rematch with Djokovic.
I keep coming back to the fact that Federer was playing so beautifully at the French Open…how does one explain how lethargically he looked in the last two sets vs. Tsonga on grass – his best surface in the world? I’ve seen him look this way, at times, on clay vs. his nemesis Rafael Nadal. But never before on grass! He looked passive, slow, indifferent, and, at moments resigned.
His serve returns were sitters for Tsonga to tee off on. His first serve percentage dropped drastically. He seemed to lose his will to fight. It’s hard to write – but the greatest player of all-time looked feeble, withdrawn and outclassed in his own backyard. We expected more from the 6-time champion. Yes, Tsonga played great. But if Federer played the way he had been playing in the first three matches and maintained his intensity the match would have been over in straight sets. Federer never complained of an injury in his post match press conference – however, mental fatigue seemed to be a major contributor to his unexpected collapse.
It’s worth repeating – for the first time in his entire career; Federer lost a match in which he had won the first two sets. (He had been 178-0). But Tsonga outlasted him 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Tsonga had a fantastic match – undoubtedly the best of his career. His serve was superb. But, still, no one felt Federer would lose yesterday, especially after winning the first two sets.
The big three — Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Federer — have dominated men’s tennis in recent years. They’ve won 25 of the past 26 majors. Across the pond, in Great Britain — exploiting that home-court advantage — they factor in Andy Murray and call them the big four. They all made the semifinals at the French Open, and until Wednesday, they were part of a stately, almost royal procession into Wimbledon’s final four.
Never before have the top four players made it to the semi-finals in back-to-back grand slams – all four stampeded their way to the semi-finals in Paris and they were one win away from repeating the feat in London – but Tsonga ruined the party and kept that remarkable stat alive for yet one more season. I guess there’s a reason why the top four players in the world can’t make it to the semi-finals in consecutive grand slams – because there is so much depth on the ATP tour.
Federer’s 16 Grand Slam singles titles place him ahead of all others, but he clearly is no longer playing at that level. He was playing in his 29th consecutive quarterfinal — a monumental achievement — but he’s lost in three of the past six (two in a row at Wimbledon).
At one point in his career he had made it to 23 consecutive semi-finals in grand slam events – a record that – in my opinion – will never be broken. Federer like Tiger Woods is all about history – winning major championships is all that matters at this point in their respective careers. Tiger has 14 and Roger has 16! The big question is – can either one of these two iconic superstars win another major and shut up the critics who believe they are both finished? I don’t know the answer to this but I do know that it will be fun to keep watching.
Michael Emmett is the Director of Tennis Operations, Mayfair Clubs
June 30, 2011
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has received two ESPY nominations ahead of next month’s award show.
After winning three Grand Slam titles last year, Nadal captured his sixth French Open crown in Paris last month. The Spaniard was nominated for Best Male Athlete and Best Male Tennis Player.
The ESPY’s will take place in Los Angeles on July 13.
June 30, 2011
by: Tom Cochrane
For the first time since 1999, the finals weekend at Wimbledon won’t feature at least one of the Williams sisters or Roger Federer. The Swiss master was sensationally bundled out of the tournament in the quarter-finals on Day 9 by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Federer squandering a 2 sets to love lead for the first time in 179 Grand Slam matches.
Day 9 Recap
When Roger Federer comprehensively claimed the second set tiebreaker against Tsonga to take a 2 sets to love lead, it appeared as though the third seed was on track for yet another semi-final at Wimbledon. But the world number 19 had other ideas, and came storming back into the match. After breaking Tsonga in the opening set, Federer was unable to muster another break point against the Frenchman’s formidable serve in the entire match.
For the Frenchman, it was a case of everything going perfectly to plan in the final 3 sets of the match. Booming serves, diving volleys and uncharacteristic one-handed backhand drives all formed part of the highlights package for Tsonga. As the match wore on, Federer’s stronger forehand side began to break down and the Swiss master’s footwork became a little sloppy, but for the most part it was the brilliance of Tsonga’s play, rather than poor play on Federer’s part, that resulted in the upset win for the popular Frenchman. Tsonga managed to steady his nerves in the final moments of the fifth set, closing out the match, 3-6 6-7(3) 6-4 6-4 6-4.
Tsonga will face Novak Djokovic for a spot in Sunday’s final after the Serb accounted for his frequent hitting partner and protégé, 18 year old Bernard Tomic. The young Aussie was far from overwhelmed in the biggest match of his short career, collecting the second set and going up a break in the third set.
Tomic dictated the play in many of the rallies against Djokovic, but the second seed’s greater experience and high-percentage play on the big points eventually resulted in a 4 set victory, 6-2 3-6 6-3 7-5. Still, I expect we will be seeing plenty more of Tomic at the business end of Grand Slams in the years to come.
In the other half of the men’s draw, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal advanced to a semi-final showdown with victories over Feliciano Lopez and Mardy Fish, respectively. Murray looked sharp against the dangerous Lopez, taking control early on in each set and thwarting the power of Lopez’s big serve. Cheered on by a parochial crowd on Centre Court, Murray crunched 40 winners to claim victory in straight sets, 6-3 6-4 6-4.
Murray will need to adopt a similarly aggressive style of game against Nadal, who produced a typically gritty performance to see off Mardy Fish’s valiant charge. Nadal, who admitted after the match that he was forced to take a pain-killing injection to numb the effects of a sore left foot, raced to a 2 sets to love lead as Fish struggled to reproduce his superb serving efforts of previous rounds. The American fought back to claim the third set, but the result was never really in doubt, Nadal wrapping it up in just under 3 hours, 6-3 6-3 5-7 6-4.
Matches of the Day – Day 10
1. Victoria Azarenka vs. Petra Kvitova
Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova have been, along with Caroline Wozniacki, the form players on the WTA Tour in 2011, and I’m expecting this to be a hard-fought and close encounter. Azarenka and Kvitova have split their 4 previous meetings, but Kvitova has won the last 2 of those matches. It seems strange that this match represents Azarenka’s first Grand Slam semi-final, since the Belarusian has been a dangerous player on the WTA Tour for several years. Kvitova, on the other hand, burst onto the scene by making the semi-finals at the All England Club last year, and has since cemented her position in the world’s top 10.
I give a slight edge to Kvitova in this match for a few reasons. Firstly, the surface favours the Czech more than Azarenka. The fourth seed likes the high-bouncing balls that come her way on clay and hard-courts, and she is not as adept as Kvitova as getting down to the low, skidding balls that often come through on grass-courts. Secondly, Kvitova has the better serve and that is a crucial weapon in big matches, especially when things get tight. Left-handed Kvitova has done well off the sliding serve and big forehand combination in the tournament to date, and I think that will be an effective strategy against Azarenka as well.
Finally, although Azarenka has plenty of big-match experience, Kvitova’s experience in making the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year should allow her to stay composed during the match, which is important against a volatile opponent in Azarenka. I think this match will feature plenty of ebbs and flows, as the shot-maker Kvitova gets in and out of the zone. But in a tense third set, I favour the Czech to come up with the goods. Kvitova in 3.
2. Maria Sharapova vs. Sabine Lisicki
Some pundits claim that wildcard Sabine Lisicki has nothing to lose in this match-up and, given that the German had to re-learn how to walk after seriously hurting her ankle, I guess that’s true in a sense. But a spot in a Wimbledon final is up for grabs, and that’s the sort of opportunity that doesn’t present itself every day. To my mind, it’s critical that Lisicki makes a good start to the match. Sharapova demonstrated in her quarter-final annihilation of Dominika Cibulkova that she is a tremendous frontrunner, and Lisicki can’t allow the Russian to get ahead and get her confidence up.
Since hiring Thomas Hogstedt as her coach, Sharapova has made some subtle changes to her game from the back of the court, but the most noticeable difference has been the improvement in her notoriously shaky serve. Against a big server in Lisicki, Sharapova will be focused on getting a high percentage of first serves into play and putting pressure on the Lisicki second serve.
Against Bartoli, Lisicki varied her game to great effect, mixing powerful serves and groundstrokes with some deft drop shots, and I think a similar approach would prove effective against Sharapova. The Russian will want to dictate the rallies from the baseline and, if Lisicki can keep Sharapova off-balance with some well placed drop shots, the German will go a long way towards wresting back control of the rallies. I think this will be a tight match, with the outcome coming down to a few key points, but I expect Sharapova’s experience and superior groundstrokes will give her the edge. Sharapova in 2.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow.
June 29, 2011
Thursday’s order of play at Wimbledon will feature the women’s semifinals.
June 29, 2011
Six-time former winner Roger Federer lost in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon for the second straight year following a 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 defeat to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Owning a 178-0 record when winning the first two sets at the Majors, Federer couldn’t muster up a single break point opportunity throughout the final three sets.
To Tsonga’s credit though, he continued to keep his head up and power through each and every serve he hit after falling behind by two sets. Winning 73 percent of his first serve points, Tsonga blasted 18 aces to Federer’s 17 during the three hour and 28 minute affair.
Never reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon, Tsonga will next face Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic for a place in Sunday’s final. Defeating Tsonga for his first Australian title in 2008, Djokovic ended the run of youngster Bernard Tomic, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Tomic, who surprised many critics and fans with his play throughout the fortnight, acquitted himself nicely during his four set encounter with Djokovic. Winning 63 percent of his first serve points, Tomic managed to break Djokovic’s serve on three occasions, but lost his own delivery six times.
Reaching his third career Wimbledon semifinal, Djokovic improved to 46-1 in 2011, and will take a 5-2 head-to-head series deficit against the Frenchman. Tsonga has won five of the last six meetings against Djokovic. The pair have never played on any other surface except hard-courts.
The other men’s semifinal on Friday will feature Rafael Nadal vs. Andy Murray. Playing second on Court 1, Nadal needed four sets to defeat Mardy Fish, 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
In a match that featured the rejuvenation of Nadal’s backhand passing shot, the Spaniard was forced to be on top of his game to get past the lone American left in the draw.
Using the geometry of the grass-court to his advantage, Nadal mixed in the occasional serve and volley to win 77 percent of his first serve points. Defeating Fish for the sixth straight time in his career, Nadal won his 19th straight match at the event. The defending champ will next face home-country favorite Murray.
Murray, who is still in search of his first Grand Slam title, breezed by Feliciano Lopez, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Striking 13 aces and 40 winners in total, Murray was excellent on his serve throughout his straight set victory. Trailing Nadal 11-4 in carrer head-to-head meetings, Murray has lost two previous matches to Nadal at Wimbledon, both in straight sets.
June 29, 2011
by: Tom Cochrane
With the semi-finalists in the women’s tournament now decided, the attention on Day 9 turns to the men’s quarter-finals. Will the big 4 in the men’s game make it through to the final 4?
Day 8 Recap
With the rain hammering down in London, Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli got the Day 8 proceedings underway under the Centre Court roof. The big-serving German was out of the blocks early, and captured the first set, 6-4, with her delicate touch on the drop shot a nice complement to her powerful serves and groundstrokes.
Bartoli is as tenacious a player as there is on the WTA Tour, and the Frenchwoman tried valiantly to stay in the contest despite the fact she was being outplayed by Lisicki. Bartoli saved 3 match points in the second set, then managed to steal the tiebreaker and force the contest into a deciding set. The third set was all Lisicki, though, as an exhausted Bartoli finally succumbed, 6-1.
Next up was Dominika Cibulkova, who was taking on former world number one Maria Sharapova. When Cibulkova held serve to start the match, it seemed as if we were in for an enthralling contest between 2 players who had split their 4 previous encounters. But Sharapova reeled off 8 games in a row, and was rarely troubled from there. The Russian proved she is one of the best frontrunners in the women’s game, dominating the far shorter Cibulkova, 6-1 6-1.
In the bottom half of the draw, Petra Kvitova and Tsvetana Pironkova played out a pulsating 3-setter. The Czech shotmaker claimed the first set, 6-3, and had the better of Pironkova in the second set, but the feisty Bulgarian took advantage of some wayward shots by Kvitova to claim the second set in a tiebreaker. However, Kvitova reasserted her authority in the deciding set, breaking twice to claim it, 6-2.
Kvitova, who is in Wimbledon semi-finals for the second successive year, will square off against Victoria Azarenka for a spot in Saturday’s final. The Belarusian accounted for young Austrian Tamira Paszek in an historic match. Due to the incessant rain, the match was moved from Court 1 to Centre Court after just one game had been played – the first time a match has been “moved” from one court to another in Wimbledon’s long and checkered history. Azarenka, who has finally made a Grand Slam semi-final after threatening to break through for many years, lost just 4 games against an overwhelmed Paszek, the fourth seed striking 30 winners against just 8 unforced errors.
Matches of the Day – Day 9
1. Roger Federer vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Roger Federer is no longer the all-conquering, dominant force on the ATP Tour that he used to be. Now ranked third in the world, Federer needs to be at his very best to beat the men above him, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. But Federer showed in Paris, by beating Djokovic and pushing Nadal, that he remains a very real threat at the Grand Slams. Moreover, Federer has maintained exceptional records against the players ranked below him, and it’s rare to see him lose to anyone outside of the top 5.
Tsonga has beaten Federer just once in 5 career meetings, but the Frenchman has been in good form this grass-court season, making the final at Queen’s Club and now equaling his best performance at Wimbledon by making the quarter-finals. Federer has been serving very well of late, which is a major reason why he played well in Paris and has done well at Wimbledon to date. To my mind, Tsonga needs to go for broke in this match. That means attacking the Federer second serve, going for his shots and keeping the points short, and honing in on Federer’s slightly weaker backhand side.
Tomas Berdych took a similar approach into last year’s quarter-final against Federer and managed to execute a near-flawless match to record an upset win. That shows it can be done against the Swiss master, but the odds are undoubtedly in favour of the third seed. Federer in 4.
2. Bernard Tomic vs. Novak Djokovic
Given Bernard Tomic’s amazing run at this year’s Wimbledon tournament, it would seem that nothing is out of the question for the 18 year old prodigy. But, surely, Novak Djokovic will prove too big of a hurdle for the young Aussie in this clash. The pair has trained together on several occasions this year, including before the French Open and on grass before Wimbledon, but this familiarity probably works against Tomic. Unlike in his previous matches, where Tomic has had the element of surprise work in his favour, Djokovic will know exactly what to expect from the Aussie and will not be taking his opponent lightly.
Having lost just one match all year, Djokovic is in as good a run of form as one could imagine, and the Serb has rarely been troubled in these championships so far, a slight meltdown against Marcos Baghdatis being the only exception. Tomic’s biggest strengths in the tournament so far have been his ability to vary his shots, to keep the ball low and flat, to serve well on big points, and to stay calm in the big moments.
Against a sublime mover and elite returner in Djokovic, I think many of those weapons won’t be as damaging. Tomic plays his best tennis on the big stage, so I expect the Aussie to put up a good performance and pinch a set from the world number 2. But, to my mind, it’s a case of anything Tomic can do, Djokovic can do that little bit better. Djokovic in 4.
3. Andy Murray vs. Feliciano Lopez
Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez has been the best server at this year’s championships, at least in terms of aces served, the lefty having already notched up a century of free points. Lopez was in dynamic touch against Andy Roddick, routing the American in straight sets. But Lopez’s next win was arguably more satisfying, as the Spaniard came from 2 sets to love down against the Polish qualifier Kubot to grind out a narrow victory.
Murray has seemed more relaxed to me at this year’s Wimbledon compared to previous years at the All England Club, and that has translated into some top-quality tennis from the Scot. The fourth seed produced his best tennis of the tournament to comprehensively defeat the talented Richard Gasquet in straight sets, and he will be looking for a similarly clinical win in today’s quarter-final.
Lopez’s huge serve, combined with the added advantage of the Spaniard being a lefty, means that he is always in the contest, and I expect at least one of the sets to go to a tiebreaker. Murray will need to serve well to stay in the match, but the Scot’s superb returning game should see him break down the Lopez serve over the course of the match. Murray in 4.
4. Rafael Nadal vs. Mardy Fish
After suffering an injury scare in his win against Juan Martin Del Potro and rushing off for an MRI on his troublesome left foot, Rafael Nadal has received assurance that his foot is OK, meaning that the top seed will be fit to take the court against Mardy Fish today.
Fish has always been a good grass-court player, who has done well at other grass-court tournaments but has been unable to translate that form into good performances at Wimbledon. Before this year, a third round appearance represented his best effort at the All England Club. Fish faces a mighty challenge against the 10-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, the American having claimed just one set off Nadal in 5 previous clashes.
I’ve been impressed with Fish’s serving in the tournament so far, and in the last 12 months the tenth seed has become far fitter than ever before, which has unsurprisingly coincided with his rise up the rankings. But I think Fish’s Wimbledon fairytale will end today – if Nadal negates the effects of Fish’s serve, the Spaniard has an overwhelming advantage from the back of the court. Nadal in 3.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow.
June 28, 2011
Wimbledon top seed Rafael Nadal has opted to skip the upcoming Davis Cup tie in Austin, Texas in order to rest his body.
The Spaniard has reached seven finals in 2011 and won three titles. Nadal is still in contention at Wimbledon for his third career crown. Spain will be represented by Feliciano Lopez, David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco and Marcel Granollers.
The US team will be led by Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan.
June 28, 2011
Wednesday’s order of play at Wimbledon will feature the men’s quarterfinals.