Wimbledon 2015: Tournament Wrap Up

July 13, 2015

by: Tom Cochrane

Novak Djokovic is the 2015 Wimbledon men’s singles champion, the Serb downing Roger Federer in 4 sets to claim the third Wimbledon crown of his career and his ninth Grand Slam title overall.

Day 13 Recap

After stunning Andy Murray with a sensational serving display on Friday, Roger Federer came roaring out of the blocks on Sunday, breaking top seed Djokovic to establish a 4-2 lead. But the Swiss star lost serve to hand the break straight back, and then squandered a couple of set points on the Djokovic serve. Those missed opportunities came back to haunt Federer when the first set progressed to a tiebreaker, with world number one Djokovic completely dominating. The Serb collected the breaker for the loss of just one point, taking the set on a Federer double fault.

The second set was a role reversal of the first, with Federer the one consistently under pressure. Again, a tiebreaker was called upon the separate the players. Djokovic managed to amass a total of 7 set points but Federer refused to surrender, the 17-time major winner eventually taking the breaker 12 points to 10 to level the match at a set apiece. That sent the capacity, pro-Federer crowd on Centre Court into hysterics, but Djokovic shrugged off the loss of the second set to immediately put Federer under pressure at the start of the pivotal third set. The second seed managed to fend off a couple of break points in the opening game of the third set, but a woeful forehand in the third game saw Djokovic grab the break. From there, the Serb kept focused during a short rain delay and maintained his advantage to close out the set, 6-4, and move within a set of successfully defending his title.

The fourth set saw Djokovic continually peppering Federer’s toes with pinpoint returns, as the Swiss star struggled to recreate his serving feats of Friday. A break in the fifth game of the set put Djokovic within sight of the finish line, and he finished it off with another break in the ninth game, eventually collecting a 7-6(1) 6-7(10) 6-4 6-3 victory in 2 hours and 56 minutes. Having made just 11 unforced errors in the match against Murray, Federer’s tally of 35 unforced errors against Djokovic told the story – the 33 year old being continually required to force the play against the world’s best defender. Djokovic, meanwhile, produced his best tennis of the fortnight, spanking 46 winners against just 16 unforced errors.

For Djokovic, it was the perfect response to his shock defeat to Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final 5 weeks ago, the Serb proving once again that he is undoubtedly the best player on the planet at this point in time. For Federer, it was an ultimately unsuccessful end to a very positive tournament, but if the second seed continues to play like he has over the past couple of weeks then he will keep putting himself in contention at the business end of majors for several years to come.

That’s it for the coverage of this year’s Wimbledon championships. I trust you’ve enjoyed the coverage. I’ll be back later in the year to cover the US Open, but in the meantime you can follow all of the tennis news on Twitter: @satelliteserve.

Wimbledon 2015 Day 13 Men’s Final: Previewing Djokovic vs. Federer

July 12, 2015

by: Tom Cochrane

Serena Williams is the 2015 ladies’ singles champion, the American winning her third major of the year, a sixth Wimbledon title and the twenty-first Grand Slam of her illustrious career with a hard-fought win over Garbine Muguruza.

Today sees Roger Federer try to avenge his 5 set loss to Novak Djokovic in last year’s Wimbledon final, the Swiss star looking to claim his eighth Wimbledon crown as top seeded Djokovic shoots for a third title at the All England Club. Read on for my predictions for today’s blockbuster final.

Day 12 Recap

Twenty-one year old Muguruza was playing in her maiden Grand Slam final, but the Spaniard seemed unfazed by the occasion, breaking the world number one in her opening service game as she opened up a 4-2 lead. On a sunny day in London, it took a while for Williams to warm up, as Muguruza showed that she is a star of the future with powerful hitting off both wings.

The famed Williams serve was particularly rusty as the outset, with a string of double faults indicating that even superstars feel the pressure. But the top seed avoided going down a double break and gradually lifted her first serve percentage, reeling off 4 games in a row from 4-2 down to claim the first set, 6-4.

Winning the first set seemed to settle the world number one as she stormed out to a 5-1 lead in the second set, at one stage stringing together 12 successive points. Muguruza appeared helpless to stop Williams’ quest for a sixth title in London, but the Spaniard refused to wilt, breaking to love and then breaking again as Williams tightened up in sight of the finish line and an historic victory. But, as she has done so many times in the past, Williams gathered herself and got the job done, breaking Muguruza in the tenth game to secure a 6-4 6-4 win in 83 minutes.

For Williams, the win keeps alive her hopes of a calendar Grand Slam and puts her within one title of Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 majors. Even Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams is approachable, given Williams’ dominance in recent times.

For Muguruza, it was a fantastic tournament and the Spaniard would have won a legion of new fans with her gritty performance yesterday. I’ve been saying all tournament that Muguruza is a star of the future but I think that comment needs to be clarified: Muguruza’s time is now and she will be a serious contender at all of the majors going forward.

Match of the Day – Day 13

Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer

World number one Novak Djokovic is the defending champion and has swept virtually all before him in 2015 – his only loss in Grand Slam play coming at the hands of a red-hot Stan Wawrinka in Paris. Accordingly, the Serb deserves to start this final as the favourite, despite some lingering concerns over his left shoulder that required treatment during his semi-final win over Richard Gasquet.

But there are a number of reasons for Federer fans to have legitimate hope heading in to this final. The Swiss star was in scintillating form in the semi-finals, simply outclassing an in-form Murray with an exceptional serving display. If Federer plays (and, in particular, serves) as well as he did against Murray, then he has a very good chance to win an eighteenth major title today.

After a number of warm days in London, today’s weather is much cooler and there is a chance that rain will force the tournament organisers to close the roof on Centre Court. Either way, the cooler conditions will help Federer, as they allow the ball to travel quicker and so will help the second seed finish points quicker. Against a player with the best defensive and retrieval skills in the sport, that is a significant benefit. A bit of rain will also mean that the ball skids and slides through a lot more, something that will make Federer’s slice backhand more potent and assist his forays to the net.

Finally, the match-up against Djokovic is one that Federer actually likes. Unlike against Nadal, who bullies the Federer backhand relentlessly with his monster forehand, Federer is always in the match against Djokovic, even if the Serb ultimately finds a way to win. Federer upset Djokovic in the final in Dubai earlier this year, a strong serving performance getting him over the line in fast conditions.

Overall, I think Djokovic’s 2015 form makes him a slight favourite but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Federer pull off the upset. Either way, tennis fans should be in for a treat. Djokovic in 5.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the men’s final and I will be back to wrap up the final and the tournament tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow all of the action on Twitter: @satelliteserve.

Wimbledon 2015 Day 12: Previewing Serena vs. Muguruza

July 10, 2015

by: Tom Cochrane

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will meet in Sunday’s men’s final, a rematch of last year’s final, after the top seed dismissed Richard Gasquet and Federer turned in a vintage performance to down Andy Murray in straight sets.

Today sees Serena Williams attempt to claim her sixth Wimbledon crown against first-time Grand Slam finalist Garbine Muguruza. My views on that match are set out below.

Day 11 Recap

World number one Djokovic was first on Centre Court, the Serb entering the match as a red-hot favourite against Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman came out firing, hitting a number of scintillating backhand winners, much to the delight of the capacity crowd. But Djokovic remained firm, and at 2-2 in the first tiebreaker pounced on a couple of loose shots from Gasquet to claim it 7 points to 2.

Winning the first set seemed to settle the Serb, Djokovic securing an early break in the second set and maintaining his advantage to take a commanding 2 sets to love lead, despite being bothered by a stiff left shoulder that required attention from the trainer on two occasions.

Gasquet battled valiantly in the third set but was unable to make any inroads on the Djokovic serve, the two-time champion eventually wrapping up a 7-6(2) 6-4 6-4 win in 142 minutes.

The second semi-final was eagerly anticipated, with Federer and Murray resuming a storied rivalry. But the match turned out to be largely one-way traffic, with Federer producing a sensational serving performance to win a tenth semi-final at Wimbledon. The Swiss star landed 76 percent of his first serves and won 84 percent of his first service points, drilling 56 winners to boot.

After a late break gave Federer the first set, 7-5, the real turning point in the match came in the tenth and twelfth games of the second set. Down 4-5, 0-40, Murray eventually held after a marathon game that spanned close to 15 minutes, only for Federer to hold to love and then break in the twelfth game to take a 2 sets to love lead.

Whilst the British fans tried to rouse Murray in the third set, Federer’s sublime serving meant Murray got very few chances to put the second seed under any real pressure. Eventually, Murray could give no more, succumbing in the tenth game of the third set as Federer recorded a 7-5 7-5 6-4 win to give himself a chance at a record eighth Wimbledon crown.

*****

Match of the Day – Day 12

Serena Williams vs. Garbine Muguruza

There is no doubt that Serena Williams enters this match as the overwhelming favourite. The world number one is unbeaten in Grand Slam play in 2015 and faces an opponent entering her maiden major final. But Garbine Muguruza has beaten Serena before, and importantly it was at a Grand Slam: last year’s French Open, where she defeated the American in convincing fashion.

Williams has won the pair’s other two meetings, but the win in Paris will give the Spaniard the belief that she can pull off the upset today. The pair played in Melbourne earlier this year and whilst Williams ultimately prevailed, it was not without a fight. Muguruza has the power to match Williams from the back of the court and playing at the end of the tournament, when the courts are harder and more dried out, is of benefit to the Spaniard.

Overall, I think Serena’s killer serve and superior grass-court and big match experience will get her across the line. If Muguruza is tight then the match could be over quickly. But if she can settle down quickly an upset is not outside the realms of possibility. I’m backing Serena to win in a tight two-setter (and keep alive hopes of a Serena Slam) but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her stretched to 3 sets. Williams in 2.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow all of the action on Twitter: @satelliteserve.

Wimbledon 2015 Day 10: Men’s Semifinal Preview

July 9, 2015

by: Tom Cochrane

Garbine Muguruza will contest her first ever Grand Slam final on Saturday, after outlasting Agnieszka Radwanska in 3 sets on Day 10. Standing in the way of a maiden major title is none other than world number one Serena Williams, who will be looking to secure a sixth Wimbledon crown on Saturday after proving too strong for Maria Sharapova.

Friday is men’s semi-finals day at SW19, with Novak Djokovic squaring off against Richard Gasquet before Roger Federer takes on Andy Murray in a much-anticipated encounter. Read on for my predictions as to how those matches will unfold.

Day 10 Recap

Muguruza may have been playing in her first Grand Slam semi-final, but the Spaniard showed no signs of nerves early on, overwhelming Radwanska with an onslaught of powerful winners off both wings. The twentieth seed claimed the opening set, 6-2, and when she moved ahead a break in the second set it appeared as though the match was as good as over. But former Wimbledon finalist Radwanska started mixing up her shots and capitalised on some tension on Muguruza’s part, the Pole reeling off 6 consecutive games as she moved the Spaniard around the court and out of position.

When Radwanska broke serve at the beginning of the deciding set, she looked to be the firm favourite to progress to the final but, showing composure beyond her years, Muguruza stuck to her guns, breaking back and then firing a backhand winner to go up 4-2. A visibly tight Muguruza shrugged off two break points and a controversial challenge from Radwanska in the final game, ultimately prevailing 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Maria Sharapova entered her semi-final against Serena Williams holding a miserable 2-17 win-loss record against the top seed and, sadly for Sharapova fans, the match followed an utterly predictable script. Williams improved her career record in major semi-finals to an astonishing 25-3 with a 6-2 6-4 victory, the American sending down 13 aces to Sharapova’s 2. Once again, the second serve was Sharapova’s Achilles heel, the Russian winning just 29 percent of her second service points.

*****

Matches of the Day – Day 11

1. Novak Djokovic vs. Richard Gasquet

Armed with a swashbuckling backhand and full of confidence after wins over the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Grigor Dimitrov and Stan Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet enters this match with very little to lose. The Frenchman is the clear underdog against the world number one and two-time champion Djokovic, and he will need to execute at an extremely high level if he is to cause the upset.

Djokovic has claimed victory in all but one of the pair’s 12 previous clashes, with Gasquet’s sole win coming way back in 2007. After a scare against Anderson, Djokovic was all business against Cilic in the quarter-finals, and I think he will simply be too strong and too solid overall for Gasquet in this one. The Serb knows that a final against either Murray or Federer will be highly demanding, and he will want to conserve as much energy as possible by finishing off Gasquet swiftly. Djokovic in 3.

2. Roger Federer vs. Andy Murray

This match-up is almost too close to call. The players have split their two previous matches on grass, with Federer beating Murray in the 2012 Wimbledon final and Murray claiming revenge at the London Olympics not long after. Overall, Federer holds a narrow 12-11 advantage after winning 4 of the last 5 clashes between the pair. Federer humbled Murray at the season-ending championships, the Scot claiming just one game for the match, but that encounter will have no bearing on today’s match-up. After struggling last year to get back to his best tennis following back surgery, Murray has been a model of consistency on court this season and seems very happy off the court as well, having married long-term girlfriend Kim Sears earlier this year.

Both players have cruised through their respective sections of the draw with relative ease, and each will be looking to lift a gear in this clash. Federer is an incredible 9 for 9 in previous Wimbledon semi-finals and the All England Club most definitely represents his best chance of claiming another major title. Conditions for match are forecast to be warm and sunny, and I think this will suit Murray, with Federer preferring the faster conditions that come in cooler conditions.

Whilst not much separates the pair, I sense that Murray is nearing his peak whilst Federer, though still performing at an incredibly high level, isn’t quite the player that he used to be. With the crowd behind him, I think the Scot will finally breaking Federer’s semi-finals streak in London. Murray in 5.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow all of the action on Twitter: @satelliteserve.

Wimbledon 2015 Day 10: Women’s Semifinal Preview

July 8, 2015

by: Tom Cochrane

The men’s semi-finals are set, after big guns Federer, Murray and Djokovic bulldozed their way into the final four. They will be joined by Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who upset French Open champion Stan Wawrinka in a pulsating 5-setter on Day 9.

Day 9 Recap

On a day which saw intermittent showers frustrate fans and players alike, former champion Andy Murray remained focused throughout his quarter-final against Vasek Pospisil. Cheered on by a capacity crowd, Murray was sharper on the big points, with Pospisil’s lack of experience at this stage of a major, plus the cumulative effects of playing a string of long singles and doubles matches, ultimately counting against the Canadian.

Murray’s straight sets win set up a semi-final showdown against 7-time champion Roger Federer, who was just as convincing in his straight sets win over Gilles Simon. The Frenchman has pushed Federer all the way in Grand Slam matches in the past, but Federer was on song from the outset of this clash, breaking Simon in his opening service game and never looking back. Ultimately, the Swiss superstar recorded a 6-3 7-5 6-2 win in 94 minutes to move into the tenth Wimbledon semi-final of his illustrious career.

In the top half of the draw, top seed and world number one Novak Djokovic was pitted against last year’s US Open winner Marin Cilic. After being pushed to the brink of elimination by Kevin Anderson in the fourth round, the world number one was in no mood for another marathon, breaking Cilic in each set to collect a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory. The win represented victory number 650 in Djokovic’s career and puts him just a pair of wins away from defending the title he claimed at the All England Club last year.

With the first three semi-finals being relatively one-sided affairs, all attention soon focused on the cliffhanger that was evolving in the quarter-final between fourth seed Wawrinka and twenty-first seed Gasquet. The Frenchman, looking to make a second Wimbledon semi-final eight years after his first, started promisingly, claiming the first set before going down 0-3 in the second. Gasquet fought back, only to hand Wawrinka the set courtesy of a double fault. The third set was one-way traffic in Wawrinka’s direction, before the Swiss star returned Gasquet’s earlier favour, double-faulting to hand the Frenchman set number 4.

In the deciding set, Gasquet looked to have clinched the win when he broke for a 5-3 lead. But the Frenchman, sometimes shaky at the critical moments, was unable to serve it out, and the players continued to slug it out before Wawrinka finally succumbed in the twentieth game of the fifth set, Gasquet claiming a 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-4 11-9 win in 3 hours and 28 minutes. Gasquet, who has only won 3 of 19 Grand Slam round of 16 matches, improved to 3-0 in Grand Slam quarter-finals and will now face top seed Djokovic for a place in Sunday’s final.

*****

Matches of the Day – Day 10

1. Garbine Muguruza vs. Agnieszka Radwanska

Can rising star Garbine Muguruza emulate the feats of her countrywomen Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Conchita Martinez and progress to the Wimbledon final, or will Pole Agnieszka Radwanska work her way through to a second final at the All England Club? Radwanska did well to wear down big hitter Madison Keys in the quarter-finals, and I think the Pole will need to adopt a similar strategy if she is to beat Muguruza who, like Keys, is a powerful baseliner and a star of the future.

Muguruza has swept aside all before her in the tournament to date, beating the likes of Kerber and Wozniacki en route to the semi-finals. The Spaniard seems pretty level-headed for a young player, and I think she has the temperament and the self-belief to claim the victory in this one. The match is on her racquet and, unlike Keys, who was unable to put Radwanska away, I think Muguruza will simply be too powerful and too consistent for the former finalist. Muguruza in 3.

2. Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova

As has been well documented, former champion Maria Sharapova has an utterly woeful head-t0-head record against world number one Serena Williams, having beaten the American in just 2 of their 19 career meetings. But, if Sharapova should take confidence from anywhere, it is in London. After all, it was at the All England Club in 2004 that Sharapova truly announced herself to the tennis world, stunning Williams in straight sets to capture her maiden Grand Slam title.

Since that historic win, Williams has taken extreme pleasure in defeating Sharapova over and over again. For the Russian, her weak serve compared to Williams’ tremendous serve is the biggest difference, but the fact that Sharapova hits a hard, flat ball is another problem – that sort of ball is exactly what Williams thrives on. Being the consummate professional, Sharapova will scrap and fight for everything in this semi-final, and will endeavour to shriek and grunt her way to victory. But like so many of the contests between the pair, I think Williams will be just that little bit too good. Williams in 2.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter: @satelliteserve.

Wimbledon 2015 Day 9: Men’s quarterfinal preview

July 7, 2015

by: Tom Cochrane

Novak Djokovic finally made it through to the men’s quarter-finals on Day 8, the top seed outclassing a gallant Kevin Anderson 7-5 in the fifth set to set up a clash with reigning US Open champion Marin Cilic.

Day 8 Recap

After starting the day locked at 2 sets apiece, Djokovic and Anderson took to the court for a winner takes all final set, with the South African having the advantage of serving first. Unfortunately for Anderson, who has hoping to make his first Grand Slam quarter-final, a pair of double faults in the eleventh game gave Djokovic the decisive break and the top seed duly served it out to progress to the quarter-finals.

In the women’s quarter-finals on Day 8, Spaniard Garbine Muguruza made it through to her first major semi-final, ousting French Open semi-finalist Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets. The twentieth seed will need to beat Pole Agnieszka Radwanska if she hopes to make it through to Saturday’s final, after the thirteenth seed and former finalist held off rising star Madison Keys in a tense 3-setter on Day 8.

In the top half of the draw, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova set up a blockbuster semi-final after each progressed courtesy of a 3 set win. The Russian overcame a mid-match wobble to dispose of American Coco Vandeweghe, whilst Williams yet again came from a set down to defeat former world number one Victoria Azarenka.

Matches of the Day – Day 9

1. Novak Djokovic vs. Marin Cilic

Having survived an almighty scare against Anderson, I don’t think Djokovic will be in any mood to mess around in this clash. Luckily for the Serb, he didn’t waste too much energy on finishing off Anderson on Day 8, and with his famed powers of recovery, I don’t see playing on Day 8 as being a material factor.

Cilic can beat anybody on his day, as his run all the way to the title in New York last year demonstrated, but on grass I think Djokovic has the edge, particularly if he can return the Cilic serve well. Djokovic in 4.

2. Stan Wawrinka vs. Richard Gasquet

The first time Stan Wawrinka won a Grand Slam, at last year’s Australian Open, he promptly bowed out in the first round of the next Grand Slam, going down to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Paris. This year, Wawrinka avenged that loss by winning the French Open championship and, instead of a come-down, the Swiss seed seems to be still riding on a high. Wawrinka is yet to drop a set in the tournament and will fancy his chances of progressing to the semi-finals.

Gasquet is a former semi-finalist in London and has done very well to beat Dimitrov and Kyrgios in his last couple of matches. In particular, he did very well to remain focused during the various dramas that unfolded in the Kyrgios match. This pair has only played twice before, with each man scoring a win. I’ll back Wawrinka on the back of his recent form and his greater firepower, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one go the distance. Wawrinka in 5.

3. Roger Federer vs. Gilles Simon

After winning the pair’s first couple of encounters, Gilles Simon has lost his last five matches against Roger Federer. That said, the Frenchman has pushed Federer to the brink in many of them, taking the Swiss star to 5 sets at the 2011 Australian Open and at the 2013 French Open.

Simon brushed aside an out-of-sorts Tomas Berdych in straight sets in the fourth round and, in doing so, advanced to his first Grand Slam quarter-final since 2009. The Frenchman is a clever counterpuncher and an adept mover, but I don’t think he has the flair or the finesse to match seven-time champion Federer at the All England Club. Look for Simon to steal one set but for the Federer juggernaut to roll on. Federer in 4.

4. Andy Murray vs. Vasek Pospisil

With his brother having teamed up John Peers to knock defending champions Pospisil and his partner Jack Sock out of the doubles tournament, Andy Murray will now attempt to end the Canadian’s terrific run in the singles event. Pospisil is into his first Grand Slam quarter-final after a superb win over the in-form Viktor Troicki, but has his work cut out for him against former winner Murray.

The Scott has won all three of the pair’s previous matches, including at Indian Wells and in Rotterdam earlier this year, and has not dropped a set in the process. Pospisil’s big serve gives him a better chance on grass, but Murray’s all-court game and greater experience will see him get through this match without too many problems. Murray in 3.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter: @satelliteserve.

Wimbledon 2015 Day 8: Women’s quarterfinal preview

July 6, 2015

by: Tom Cochrane

After the traditional rest day on Sunday, Manic Monday had no shortage of drama on both the men’s and women’s side.

Day 7 Recap

In the all-Williams affair, top seed Serena got the better of sister Venus, claiming a 6-4 6-3 win to set up a blockbuster showdown against Victoria Azarenka, who overcame rising star Belinda Bencic. Fourth seed Maria Sharapova defeated the Kazakh Zarina Diyas, as Coco Vandeweghe upset Lucie Safarova in straight sets. Other winners on Day 7 included Garbine Muguruza, Timea Bacsinszky, Madison Keys and Agnieszka Radwanska.

In the men’s tournament, Richard Gasquet gained revenge for last year’s loss to Nick Kyrgios, outgunning the Aussie in 4 sets. Former champion Andy Murray squeezed past the big veteran Ivo Karlovic, with French Open champion Stan Wawrinka too good for Belgian David Goffin. Canadian Vasek Pospisil is into his first Grand Slam quarter-final after outlasting Viktor Troicki in 5 sets, whilst US Open champion Marin Cilic ended the run of the American Kudla in 4 sets.

Seven-time champion Roger Federer cruised past Roberto Bautista Agut without dropping a set and Gilles Simon smoked Tomas Berdych in straight sets but, at the time of writing, top seed Novak Djokovic was still locked in battle against big-serving Kevin Anderson, the South African taking the opening set off the defending champion.

Matches of the Day – Day 8

1. Maria Sharapova vs. Coco Vandeweghe

Former champion Maria Sharapova has an eminently winnable match against world number 47 Coco Vandeweghe, who backed up her good win over Sam Stosur with a fine victory against French Open finalist Lucie Safarova.

This is the first time the pair has met, and one has to strongly favour the Russian but the American has nothing to lose and will no doubt be buoyed by her performances to date at the All England Club this year. I’m not sure that Sharapova can go all the way, but I do think she will be too good in this one. Sharapova in 2.

2. Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka

This is clearly the pick of the women’s quarter-finals, pitting the current world number one against a former world number one, with both players having won multiple Grand Slam titles. Azarenka has a poor record overall against Williams, having triumphed in just 3 of their 19 career meetings. But the Belarusian normally makes things interesting, and really should have beaten Williams in both of their meetings earlier this year.

If this match were being played on any other surface, then I’d give Azarenka a good chance of scoring the upset – to my mind, she is one of the few players on tour capable of matching Williams in the power stakes. But on grass Williams is clearly superior and I think she will get through in a tight 2-setter.

3. Garbine Muguruza vs. Timea Bacsinszky

Having spent time away from the sport, Swiss player Timea Bacsinszky capped off an impressive return to the WTA Tour with a fairytale run to the semi-finals at Roland Garros a few weeks ago. The fifteenth seed has proved at the All England Club that her efforts in Paris were most definitely not a fluke, backing up that performance with a run to the final 8 in London.

Muguruza has been similarly impressive, knocking out Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki in her last two matches. This is a huge opportunity for the winner to reach the final 4 of the tournament and it will really come down to who handles the occasion the best. I’ll take the Spaniard in a close encounter. Muguruza in 3.

4. Madison Keys vs. Agnieszka Radwanska

The match represents a classic contrast of styles, with young American Madison Keys being a power hitter in the mould of world number one Serena Williams and former Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska being a cagey counterpuncher.

Radwanska is the more experienced player but Keys upset Venus Williams en route to the semi-finals at Melbourne Park earlier this year and, with former Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport in her camp, will go into this match knowing that the fate rests of her own racquet. The Pole is particularly crafty on grass and leads Keys 3-0 head to head, but I’ll take Keys to stop the rot and blast Radwanska away in this one. Keys in 3.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter: @satelliteserve.

Wimbledon 2015 Day 7 Preview: Manic Monday is here

July 5, 2015

by: Tom Cochrane

Defending champion and second seed Petra Kvitova is out of the tournament, the Czech upset by former world number one Jelena Jankovic in a tight tussle on Day 6.

Day 6 Recap

When Kvitova claimed the first set over Jankovic, it seemed as though the two-time champion was closing in on a spot in the second week of the tournament. But the gritty Jankovic capitalised on some loose play from the Czech, eventually claiming a hard-fought 3 set win.

Former finalist Sabine Lisicki was another casualty on Day 6, going down to Swiss seed Timea Bacsinszky, as Garbine Muguruza repeated her French Open win over Angelique Kerber. Caroline Wozniacki overcame Camila Giorgi in straight sets, whilst Agnieszka Radwanska rallied from 0-4 down in the second set to overcame Casey Dellacqua in straight sets.

In the men’s tournament, Sam Groth recorded the second fastest serve in Wimbledon history but ultimately succumbed to Roger Federer in 4 sets, as Andy Murray overcame shoulder concerns to defeat Andreas Seppi in 4 sets. Marin Cilic finished off John Isner 12-10 in the fifth set, and Vasek Pospisil outlasted James Ward 8-6 in the decider.

Viktor Troicki ended Dustin Brown’s gallant run from qualifying, whilst veteran Ivo Karlovic upset Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to book a fourth round showdown with Murray. Tomas Berdych also progressed, as Gilles Simon took down compatriot Gael Monfils in 5 sets.

*****

Matches of the Day – Day 7

1. Serena Williams vs. Venus Williams

What can one say about two five-time Wimbledon winners, two sisters who have changed the dynamics of women’s tennis forever? It goes without saying, but there will never be another Serena and Venus. Love them or loathe them, they have transformed the women’s game.

Unfortunately, most of their matches against one another tend to be anticlimactic affairs, and I can’t imagine this one being any different. A few years ago, I would have given Venus a good chance on grass, but these days Venus is slower and less mobile and Serena is simply refusing to lose. Serena in 2.

2. Novak Djokovic vs. Kevin Anderson

Fresh from seeing off the crafty Bernard Tomic, top seed Novak Djokovic now faces a completely different test in the shape of lanky South African Kevin Anderson. The fourteenth seed made it through to the final at Queen’s Club in the lead up to Wimbledon and has a sufficiently ballistic serve to trouble the world’s very best.

But, whilst Anderson is amongst the best servers on the ATP Tour, Djokovic is hands down the best returner on tour. Look for the Serb to neutralise Anderson’s biggest weapon and to put plenty of pressure on the South African’s second serve. Djokovic in 3.

3. Ivo Karlovic vs. Andy Murray

At an age when most tennis professionals have been retired for several years, Ivo Karlovic is still producing world class tennis. The 36 year old Croat produced a powerhouse display of serving to defeat French Open semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round and earn this chance to play former champion Murray.

Murray looked to have shoulder problems midway through his match against Seppi, but finished the match in fine style and, as with Djokovic against Anderson, I think Murray will find a way to lessen the impact of Karlovic’s serve. Look for Murray to sneak through a tricky match-up with a tight 4-set win. Murray in 4.

4. Garbine Muguruza vs. Caroline Wozniacki

This is a major danger match for fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki, with Muguruza having won 2 of the pair’s 3 career meetings. Muguruza is the bigger hitter of the pair and therefore dictates most of the rallies, leaving Wozniacki to fight and scrap for all of her points.

Muguruza isn’t at her most assured on grass-courts, but the Spaniard has tremendous potential and showed in defeating former Wimbledon semi-finalist Angelique Kerber in round 3 that she is a quick learner when it comes to grass-courts. I’ll back Muguruza to spring the upset and dump Wozniacki out of the tournament. Muguruza in 3.

5. Richard Gasquet vs. Nick Kyrgios

What a difference a point makes. Last year, Nick Kyrgios staved off an incredible 9 match points to defeat Richard Gasquet in the second round at Wimbledon, the Aussie then going on to defeat Rafael Nadal en route to the quarter-finals, announcing himself to the tennis world in the process.

Gasquet has won 2 of the pair’s 3 career meetings, but the loss at Wimbledon last year will still rankle the Frenchman. Unfortunately for him, I think Kyrgios will win again this year, and this time in more commanding fashion. Gasquet is an adept grass-courter, but Kyrgios has the power and the confidence and will be too strong in this one. Kyrgios in 4.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, follow all of the action on Twitter: @satelliteserve.

Wimbledon 2015 Day 6 Preview: Federer looks to blast past Groth

July 4, 2015

by: Tom Cochrane

Top seed Serena Williams had to call on all of her fighting qualities to overcome Brit Heather Watson on Day 5, the world number one coming from a double break down in the deciding set to ultimately prevail over the gallant Watson.

Day 5 Recap

Williams will now face sister Venus for a place in the quarter-finals, as another champion in Maria Sharapova also progressed to the round of 16. French Open finalist Lucie Safarova rallied to defeat American Sloane Stephens in 3 sets whilst Coco Vandeweghe turned in a powerhouse performance to thrash Aussie seed Sam Stosur. Swiss seed Belinda Bencic defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands in a tight two-setter, whilst Kazakh Zarina Diyas upset German seed Andrea Petkovic.

In the men’s tournament, Marin Cilic and John Isner will resume play today after their Day 5 match was suspended due to bad light at 10-all in the deciding set. Top seed Novak Djokovic was ruthlessly efficient in dismissing the dangerous Bernard Tomic in straight sets, but there was better news for Tomic’s compatriot Nick Kyrgios, who avenged last year’s loss to Milos Raonic with a 4-set victory over the Canadian. French Open winner Stan Wawrinka was also in the winners’ circle on Day 5, recording an impressive straight sets win over the big-hitting Fernando Verdasco.

*****

Matches of the Day – Day 6

1. Sam Groth vs. Roger Federer

Sam Groth holds the world record for the fastest serve, and the Aussie will need to turn in a dynamite performance on serve if he is to have any hope of registering an upset today. Federer was in superb touch against Querrey in round 2 and is one of the favourites for the title this year after coming oh so close to winning the championship last year.

This pair has played once previously, with Groth defeated but not disgraced in a straight sets loss to Federer at last year’s US Open. I expect Groth to turn in another valiant performance, but I also expect a similar scoreline. Federer in 3.

2. Jelena Jankovic vs. Petra Kvitova

Defending champion Petra Kvitova has been in blistering touch at SW19 so far this year, hardly breaking a sweat in making her way through to the round of 32. The Czech has a game made for grass-courts and the second seed has plenty of confidence at the All England Club, having claimed two previous titles at SW19.

Jankovic is a former world number one who is a dogged counterpuncher and a fierce competitor, but the Serb has never enjoyed much success at Wimbledon or on grass-courts generally, and I can’t see that record changing today. Kvitova in 2.

3. Andreas Seppi vs. Andy Murray

Italian counterpuncher Andreas Seppi has enjoyed a good first half of the 2015 season, upsetting Roger Federer at the Australian Open and making it through to the final in Halle in the lead-up to Wimbledon before losing to Federer.

Seppi is a consistent baseliner and smooth mover who will make Murray pay for any lapses in concentration. But Murray holds a good record against Seppi and looked sharp against Haase in round 2, particularly in the opening couple of sets, and I think the Scot will be too creative for Seppi in this contest. Murray in 3.

4. Garbine Muguruza vs. Angelique Kerber

Spaniard Muguruza has a huge game and is a star in the making, to my mind. Her best results to date have come on clay, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her start performing better on hard-courts, making a transition from clay-court specialist to star player just like her compatriot Rafael Nadal did in the early stages of his career.

Muguruza still has a lot to learn on grass-courts however, and her opponent today, tenth seed Angelique Kerber, is a former Wimbledon semi-finalist and has beaten Muguruza in 3 of their 4 previous meetings. Muguruza got the better of Kerber in Paris on clay, but I’ll take the German to squeeze past the Spaniard today based on her greater grass-court experience. Kerber in 3.

5. Timea Bacsinszky vs. Sabine Lisicki

Timea Bacsinszky enjoyed a fairytale run to the semi-finals of the French Open this year, beating the likes of Petra Kvitova en route to the final 4. The Swiss seed has now backed up that effort by making it through to the round of 32 in London.

Bacsinszky faces a tough assignment today against former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki who, like Petra Kvitova, has a particular love affair with the All England Club. The German always produces her best tennis at SW19 and I think her booming serve will see her get the better of her Swiss opponent today. Lisicki in 3.

Put your house on: Roger Federer. As noted above, the Swiss superstar will have too many tricks up his sleeve for Aussie Sam Groth.

Upset alert: I think Casey Dellacqua could trouble former finalist Agnieszka Radwanska, whilst Italian Camila Giorgi should push fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki all the way.

Likely to go the distance: Look for compatriots Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils to push each other to the wire today. I’ll take Monfils to come through in a hard-fought 5-setter.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve following Sunday’s traditional rest day to preview Monday’s action.

Wimbledon 2015 Day 5 Preview: Raonic and Kyrgios sleeve it up

July 3, 2015

by: Tom Cochrane

Two-time champion Rafael Nadal is out of this year’s tournament, the tenth seed upset by big-serving German Dustin Brown in 4 sets on Day 4.

Day 4 Recap

Swinging freely and going for broke with a dynamic brand of serve-and-volley tennis, Brown survived a mid-match comeback from Nadal to improve to 2-0 in his career against the Spanish superstar. There were no such problems for Federer and Murray, who scored emphatic victories over Sam Querrey and Robin Haase, respectively. Other men’s seeds to progress on Day 4 included Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych, whilst Ivo Karlovic outlasted Alexandr Dolgopolov 13-11 in the deciding set.

In the women’s tournament, defending champion Petra Kvitova scored another decisive win to move into the third round, and was joined by former finalists Agnieszka Radwanska and Sabine Lisicki, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki and rising Czech star Karolina Pliskova.

*****

Matches of the Day – Day 5

1. Grigor Dimitrov vs. Richard Gasquet

Last year’s semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov takes on former semi-finalist Richard Gasquet in this battle of the picturesque one-handed backhands. Gasquet has always had oodles of talent, but hasn’t always been able to fully focus mentally and capitalise on his undoubted potential.

Dimitrov had a terrific 2014 but has struggled to be as consistent in 2015 to date. Still, returning to the scene of his best Grand Slam performance is sure to boost his confidence and I think he will get the better of Gasquet in this one. Dimitrov in 4.

2. Nick Kyrgios vs. Milos Raonic

This is a rematch of last year’s quarter-final, where Nick Kyrgios’ breathtaking run finally came to an end at the hands of the big-serving Raonic. I think Kyrgios has a better chance this year, having had the experience of playing Raonic last year, and also not being as fatigued as he was by the time the pair played last year.

Raonic’s serve always makes him a threat on grass but he hadn’t really cashed in on this advantage until last year, where he made it through to the semi-finals at the All England Club. I think this will be a close contest but the Canadian’s serve will be the difference in the end. Raonic in 5.

3. Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Fernando Verdasco

Verdasco’s big serve and powerful forehand make him a threat on any surface, but in particular on fast surfaces such as grass. The Spaniard was very close to taking out Andy Murray in 2013 before the Scot went on to claim the win and ultimately the title, and Verdasco won’t be holding back in this high-profile clash.

Wawrinka has done well to win his first couple of matches at SW19 after all of the excitement and exposure of capturing the French Open title in Paris a few weeks ago. Like Verdasco, Wawrinka is a hard hitter and aggressor, so tennis fans are in for a treat with this match. Wawrinka in 4.

4. Novak Djokovic vs. Bernard Tomic

Top seeded Djokovic has looked good in his first two matches but will need to step up a gear against Bernard Tomic, the Australian with the unusual game and an affinity for grass. Tomic is a former quarter-finalist at the All England Club and his quirky game of hard, flat groundstrokes and various spins and slices will surely give Djokovic some anxious moments.

Djokovic, however, is the master of the big points and I can’t see Tomic challenging him at the most critical moments in the match. Look for Tomic to grab a set but for Djokovic to ultimately progress in a tough 4-setter. Djokovic in 4.

5. Marin Cilic vs. John Isner

Reigning US Open champion Marin Cilic survived an epic duel against Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in the second round, and now faces another stern test against the big-serving American John Isner. Isner cruised past Australian Matt Ebden in round 2 and will fancy his chances on grass against the ninth seeded Croat.

If Isner can serve well and take his chances on Cilic’s service games, then he definitely has a chance of scoring the upset. But Cilic has a tremendous serve of his own and is the better player from the back of the court. Cilic in 4.

Put your house on: Serena Williams. The top seeded American should be too strong for hometown hope Heather Watson today.

Upset alert: Former semi-finalist Marcos Baghdatis has a good chance of upsetting sixteenth seed David Goffin in their encounter today.

Likely to go the distance: Pencil in a long clash between Swiss seed Belinda Bencic and American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who defeated Ana Ivanovic in round 2.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back tomorrow with another serve. In the meantime, you can follow all of the action on Twitter: @satelliteserve.

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