Wawrinka, Federer reach Monte Carlo Finals

April 19, 2014

Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Semifinal results:

(4) Roger Federer defeats (2) Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-2
(3) S Wawrinka defeats (6) D Ferrer 6-1, 7-6(3)

Ferrer upsets Nadal at Monte Carlo Masters; Djokovic, Federer and Wawrinka reach semifinals

April 18, 2014

Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Quarterfinal results:
(2) Novak Djokovic defeats Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
(6) David Ferrer defeats (1) Rafael Nadal 7-6(1), 6-4
(3) Stanislas Wawrinka defeats (8) Milos Raonic 7-6(5), 6-2
(4) Roger Federer defeats (9) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-1

Nadal, Djokovic and Federer reach Monte Carlo quarterfinals

April 17, 2014

Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Third-round results:

(4) Roger Federer defeats Lukas Rosol 6-4, 6-1
(2) Novak Djokovic defeats Pablo Carreno Busta 6-0, 6-1
(1) Rafael Nadal defeats Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-3
(9) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeats (10) Fabio Fognini 5-7, 6-3, 6-0
(3) Stanislas Wawrinka defeats (15) Nicolas Almagro W/O
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez defeats (5) Tomas Berdych 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
(6) David Ferrer defeats (12) Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2
(8) Milos Raonic defeats (11) Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6-3

Nadal, Wawrinka & Federer cruise into Monte Carlo third round

April 16, 2014

Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Second-round results:

(1) Rafael Nadal defeats Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-4, 6-1
(10) Fabio Fognini defeats Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(6), 6-4
(3) Stanislas Wawrinka defeats Marin Cilic 6-0, 6-2
(4) Roger Federer defeats Radek Stepanek 6-1, 6-2
(12) Grigor Dimitrov defeats Albert Ramos 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
(8) Milos Raonic defeats Yen-Hsun Lu 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-1
(11) Tommy Robredo defeats Julien Benneteau 4-6, 6-0, 6-1
Pablo Carreno Busta defeats Gael Monfils 6-3, 7-6(6)
Lukas Rosol defeats Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-4
(15) Nicolas Almagro defeats Nicolas Mahut 7-6(3), 6-3
Andreas Seppi defeats Pablo Andujar 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-4
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez defeats (17) Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1, 7-5

Tennis Elbow: 2014 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters: draw preview and analysis

April 15, 2014

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2014 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.

The series of tournament previews continues this week, with a look at the royalty of the Masters 1000 events.

While the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters does not have the excess of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, or the carelessness of the Sony Open Tennis in Miami, it has panache (and a Rolex) of its own. It’s set in Monaco, a principality that is governed by an actual monarchy. I call it the royalty of tournaments, because it basically is—if you played tennis on the backdrop of Mont Agel and the Mediterranean Sea, you’d probably feel like a king, too!

This tournament also serves as the de facto launch of the clay court season. Buckle up, people. We have about five months of tennis with very little interruption ahead of us.

The first section of the main draw is that of Rafael Nadal. I could give more details, but let this previous fact suffice. The Spaniard is the best clay court player in the world, and he’s only ever lost one (!!!) match at Monte-Carlo in his career. He’ll make it to the quarterfinals, then the semifinals and again to the final, because Nadal always does. Look for Grigor Dimitrov to continue his great season and join Nadal in the quarterfinals, if only because one player must—but he may as well be lamb thrown to the slaughter.

“Crazy” Stanislas Wawrinka headlines the second quarter, and something tells me Monte-Carlo might be the setting that reminds him that there’s more to the 2014 season than the Australian Open. He hasn’t played particularly well since January and he doesn’t even have to bring his A+ game to make the quarterfinals. There, Crazy Stan will battle…who exactly? I guess I’ll say Tommy Robredo. Because, that’s why.

Somehow, some way, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga remains ranked high enough to be the No. 9 seed. I don’t expect much, maybe one win and one loss because that’s essentially what he’s done so far this year at every tournament—he’ll lose his place in the final 8 to Italian Fabio Fognini, who unlike the Frenchman is playing as well as he ever has in his career. In the first four months in 2014, Roger Federer has proven to everyone that he’s maybe not quite ripe for the hospice like the end of last season seemed to say. So pencil him in across from Fognini.

While Nadal enters as the No. 1 seed and No. 1-ranked player, he somehow isn’t the defending champion, because Djokovic convincingly beat him a year ago. It was a big win for the Serb, coming in what is essentially his backyard (i.e. Djokovic lives in Monaco) and also the Spaniard’s figurative backyard. If Nadal is the Ned Stark of red clay, Djokovic could be its Joffrey (what, you don’t watch Game of Thrones?).

He’s almost as good as Nadal on the surface, and he’ll want to use this as the start of his march to his ultimate triumph at Porte d’Auteuil in Paris.

Oh, and the dog pound master himself, Alexandr Dolgopolov, is also in this final quarter. This time, it’ll be Tomas Berdych’s turn to suffer an ignominious death in the dog pound. It happens to the best of you, Berdych! (Well, except it won’t happen to Djokovic.)

Quarterfinals: Rafael Nadal over Grigor Dimitrov; Stanislas Wawrinka over Tommy Robredo; Roger Federer over Fabio Fognini; Novak Djokovic over Alexandr Dolgopolov

Semifinals: Rafael Nadal over Stanislas Wawrinka; Novak Djokovic over Roger Federer

Final: Novak Djokovic over Rafael Nadal

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG

Podcast: Previewing the 2014 Monte Carlo Masters

April 14, 2014

Welcome tennis fans to another season of the TennisConnected Podcast!

In this week’s show, Nima Naderi and Parsa Samii are back to preview the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.

Will Novak Djokovic repeat as the Monte Carlo champion and win his fifth straight Masters 1000 title? How important is this clay-court season to Rafa Nadal’s season as a whole? Will Roger Federer’s late wild-card into the event aid his chances at Roland Garros? Finally, we discuss Andy Murray’s coaching carousel and who he may choose next.

As always, you can alternatively listen to the #1 tennis PodCast via iTunes and never miss another episode. It is very easy and completely free.

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Verdasco wins Houston event; Garcia Lopez takes Casablanca title

April 14, 2014

FAYEZ SAROFIM & CO. U.S. MEN’S CLAY COURT CHAMPIONSHIP, Houston, U.S.A.

(4) Fernando Verdasco defeats (3) Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 7-6(4) for his first Tour title in four years.

*****

GRAND PRIX HASSAN II, Casablanca, Morocco

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez defeats Marcel Granollers 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 for his third career title.

Tennis Elbow: Six degrees of John Lennon

April 7, 2014

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon looks at the wonderful world of Internet.

Before I begin this week, or rather in lieu of my beginning the week’s column, let me entertain you with a little game I like to call “Six degrees of John Lennon.”

It’s a simple game to play, really. You start with your name, or that of any tennis fan you know, and you find a way to reach the name of the late great singer within six steps. And it never fails.

Here, I’ll get it started.

Charles Blouin-Gascon :: Rogers Cup* :: Andy Murray** :: Judy Murray :: Yoko Ono :: John Lennon

(*) The name of an ATP World Tour tournament that you’ve attended. If you’ve never attended an ATP tournament yet still call yourself a tennis fan, it’s time for a little bit of traveling.

(*) The name of one ATP player who’s participated in tournament mentioned just before.

Ta-da! What’s that? You’re asking me what exactly is the link between Andy Murray’s mother and the widow of the late British singer? What if I told you that it’s an exchange the two had over the social media service Twitter? You’d tell me to just forget my game and lead with that?

Yeah, you’re probably right.

Just as the 2014 Sony Open Tennis was getting underway in Miami, Judy Murray, mother of the Scottish Andy, sent the following tweet (i.e. find her @judmoo): “But, as in all great rivalries –Beatles/Stones, Murray/Djokovic, cake/SPACE TRANSFORMER – the fight never ends: .@yokoono Face. Palm.”

Though that original tweet has since been deleted, it’s notable for the reason that it is a tennis player’s mother responding to an icon on social media. If this isn’t proof that the world is different in 2014, I don’t know what is. The Internet is far from perfect, but when you get Judy Murray trolling Yoko One, I’m willing to concede that it comes darn close.

There are many things to say about this exchange, so let’s start with the only way I could. No, it’s not the first time Judy Murray has done this. In fact, it appears that she has had a bone to pick with the online presence of Yoko Ono for quite some time. There’s derision, confusion, puns, frustration, advice and the odd fleeting glimpse into the subconscious of a tennis mom that goes back to at least last fall. It’s all a lot to take in, for us as it is for Yoko Ono, which explains possibly why the icon has yet to grace Murray with an answer tweet. Even when Judy trolls her to others, Yoko Ono doesn’t bulge.

Let’s mention too that because of this silence, the 81-year-old artist is the one with the upper hand. That’s the difficulty with trolling—as good as your troll game may be, it’s only as good as whether your trollee acknowledges it. It’s like that old cliché goes—if a troll falls down in the twitterverse, but no one laughs at it, did it make a noise?

We hear crickets. We also hear a song, that old classic. “Hey Jude, don’t make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better. Remember to let her into your heart…”

Paul McCartney wrote the song, but don’t let Yoko Ono know. Let Judy Murray be the one to rub that one in, we might all finally see Yoko Ono answer her.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG

Tennis Elbow: Familiar Kings for the 2014 Sony Open

March 31, 2014

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps the 2014 Sony Open.

Forget the collegiate basketball edition, the real March Madness, the one that I watch year after year, happens on the hard courts of Indian Wells and Key Biscayne.

Every year as the calendar turns to March, and as the world of sport turns to an organization that denies basic rights to “student”-athletes in order to accrue over $60 million in surplus, and $627 for net assets, well, I turn to tennis in California and Florida. And I have no busted brackets to worry about.

Before I move on to bigger and better things in the next few weeks, such as the death of the perfect love of all between Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl, the Twitter beef between Judy Murray and Oko Ono, and the basketball career of Joakim Noah, son of tennis legend Yannick Noah, I look back at this year’s edition of the Sony Open.

The tournament this year has familiar kings in Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic, who have won the event seven and four times respectively. This could be all we say, but it won’t be.

On the women’s side, Serena Williams reminded everyone who had bet the house on her that she’s a great champion. In taking home the title a seventh time, Williams lost all one of set, against little known Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia in the third round.

She started slow against Na Li in the final and even had to fight off a first-set set point, which she did because she’s Serena Williams. Everything tends to start and end with her on the WTA Tour, and this final was another reminder. She made only 44 per cent of her first serves and converted just five of 17 break points, yet still beat the No. 2-ranked player for the 10th time in a row and in straight sets.

This was also her 15th win in a row against fellow members of the top 10. Against the group of Li, No. 3-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 4-ranked Victoria Azarenka and No. 7-ranked Maria Sharapova, she is an unreal 49-6 in her career. The women’s tour is Williams’s world and everyone else’s just living in it.

On the men’s side, the Djoker probably wondered whether the joke was on him. In capturing the title, he played all of four matches—in a draw of 96 (128-32 byes for the seeds = 96), the Serb beat Jeremy Chardy, then “beat” Florian Mayer in a walkover, then Tommy Robredo and Murray before booking his ticket in the final by “beating” Kei Nishikori in a walkover.

Yet with hindsight, can we say an extra two matches would have made much of a difference? Djokovic had clearly brought his talents to South Beach and anyway, it’s not like Nadal needed five hours to beat Tomas Berdych in his previous match either. That, too, was a walkover.

Rather, this was a beatdown from the player who’s currently playing the best tennis on Tour, a result that stands out like a sore blister in this rivalry. And Nadal was just there for the ride, which lasted all of 84 minutes.

Is it too late to talk about the Big Two yet? Nadal and Djokovic are currently No. 1 and No. 2 on the ATP World Tour rankings, have won 12 of the previous 17 Grand Slam tournaments and are the current defending champions of all nine Masters 1000 events. There’s no one better and, most importantly, there’s not even anyone quite in their class—oh, for a few weeks, or a few tournaments, sure, but no one is currently as reliable as this pair is. And the rivalry continues to surprise, even as it’s become by far the most frequent in tennis history (i.e. 40 matches and counting).

Though Djokovic lost his Melbourne crown this year, he has now won the next two best things. Not a bad consolation prize. Though he’s won three in a row against Nadal, the calendar now slowly turns to the clay court season.

Can we just fast-forward to the Roland Garros final?

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG

Podcast: Reviewing Djokovic’s back-to-back wins in Indian Wells and Miami

March 30, 2014

Welcome tennis fans to another season of the TennisConnected Podcast!

In this week’s show, Nima Naderi and Parsa Samii are back to review the Sony Open.

We look at Novak Djokovic’s back-to-back efforts in taking the Indian Wells and Miami titles. Is he ready to finally win the French Open? Finally, how will Rafael Nadal rebound during the upcoming clay-court season?

As always, you can alternatively listen to the #1 tennis PodCast via iTunes and never miss another episode. It is very easy and completely free.

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