Olympics Preview – Men’s Singles

While the Women’s previous Gold medalists since the introduction of tennis to the Olympics read like a who’s who of WTA in the last 25 years, the Men’s side has a few more surprise winners including Marc Rosset, Miroslav Mecir and more recently Nicolas Massu. The Chilean is the only male in the modern era of Olympic tennis to have two gold medals – one in singles and one in men’s doubles.

Draw

Quarter 1 (1) Roger Federer-Janko Tipsarevic (7)

I think that Roger Federer will be very pleased with his draw here. Although his first opponent Alejandro Falla famously almost knocked out the Wimbledon champion two years ago, there is no such danger here. Federer is showing new found confidence and with nemesis Rafael Nadal out yet again, will be confident of making the Gold Medal match at least. The round 2 possibilities for Federer are at two extremes – the Frenchman Julien Benneteau, who took the first two sets against him at Wimbledon and so would have won in this format. His other potential opponent is Mikhail Youzhny, the Russian has never beat Federer and was dispatched of with ease in the quarter finals this year. His potential third round opponent is tough to pick out – big serving Gilles Muller has the chance but would get woefully exposed by the Swiss if it came to it. Spaniard Fernando Verdasco is always capable of a big match (see Madrid 2012 vs Nadal) but is often weak mentally. If Verdasco manages to beat Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin then his record against the No.1 looks almost certain to go to Won 0 Lost 6.

John Isner will be hoping to bounce back from a disappointing couple of months, where he most notably suffered early exits in both the French Open and Wimbledon. The American takes on Olivier Rochus, whom he has a 2-0 record over including victory in the final of North American grass tournament Newport last year in straight sets. Yen-hsun Lu would be his expected opponent in the second round. The Chinese Taipei player has fairly decent grass form over the years and is well known for his defeat of Andy Roddick in Wimbledon 2010 to reach the quarter finals and takes on Malek Jaziri in the first round. An intriguing tie will be that of Janko Tipsarevic vs David Nalbandian. Nalbandian has always been incredibly talented but never quite hit the heights expected of him after early promise. The pair have a 2-2 head to head but Janko Tipsarevic has got the better of the Argentinian twice this year, including at Wimbledon where the Serb won in straights. The winner of this match will take on Lukas Lacko or Philipp Petzschner in the second round.

My Quarter Final Prediction – Roger Federer defeats John Isner in 3 sets

Must Watch Match – Janko Tipsarevic vs David Nalbandian

Did You Know…?

Mikhail Youzhny’s woeful record against Roger Federer is as follows – Won 0 Lost 14, picking up just 3 sets in the process.#

There is a 16 inch height difference between John Isner and his Round 1 opponent Olivier Rochus – 6ft9 to 5ft5.

Quarter 2 (4) David Ferrer-Juan Martin Del Potro (8)

Without Nadal, David Ferrer is bumped up to a top 4 seeding and as such this seems the one quarter that perhaps is more expected to produce a surprise Semi Finalist. The section contains a fair amount of incredibly talented players but without the consistency that has saw Ferrer make the top 5 in the rankings. Wimbledon 2012 quarter-finalist Philipp Kohlschreiber is one such player, but the fact that he is currently still in Kitzbuhel, Austria as a type cannot be a great preparation for this tournament – especially since he is playing a clay court tournament! Nikolay Davydenko will do well to defeat Radek Stepanek in the first round, the Russian has only made the second week at Wimbledon once and generally struggles on grass. Kei Nishikori-Bernard Tomic is probably the pick of the ties in this section, two highly rated players who have the game to trouble the top 10. Nishikori showed this last year in his run in that took him into the top 25 while 19 year old Tomic memorably made the quarter finals at SW19 last year.

Since his controversial comments regarding equal pay, Gilles Simon seems to be suffer a bit of a dip in form. The Frenchman exited in the second round of each of his last three tournaments including Queens and Wimbledon in matches he would be expected to win. Mikhail Kukushkin shouldn’t pose enough to threaten him but in the second round awaits a potential meeting with Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian has always been highly rated but like most young players failed to remain consistent enough. However recently, Dimitrov has kept his good form going for longer than usual – making the semi final in three of his last 4 tournaments and having to withdraw at Wimbledon due to injury. In this form, he is a darkhorse for a medal and in this section of the draw has a decent chance of making the medal match if all goes right for him. Andreas Seppi should progress easily against an incredibly out-of-form Donald Young and the same applies for Juan Martin Del Potro, who should have too much power for the Croatian Ivan Dodig.

My Quarter Final Prediction – David Ferrer defeats Grigor Dimitrov in 3 sets

Must Watch Match – Bernard Tomic vs Kei Nishikori

Did You Know…?

Donald Young is on a 13 match losing streak, having only picked up two wins this year and being defeated seventeen times.

David Ferrer does not have a losing head to head against anyone of his potential opponents from the first round to the third.

Quarter 3 (6) Tomas Berdych-Andy Murray(3)

After suffering an embarrassing first round straight sets defeat at Wimbledon to Ernests Gulbis, Tomas Berdych will be keen to redeem himself. The one time finalist is still a very good grass court player and should have no trouble with Steve Darcis. Ryan Harrison showed plenty of promise in his defeat at Wimbledon to Novak Djokovic, and really should have took a set if it wasn’t for disapponting play on break points. His match with Santiago Giraldo should be interesting, the Colombian is on decent form but was dispatched of by Milos Raonic at Wimbledon – finding it hard to break the Canadian’s big serve. Since his change of nationality to Russian Alex Bogomolov has been struggling a lot, trying to deal with the expectations of what seems to now have been a year of overachievement than progress in 2011. Carlos Berlocq is a clay courter for the most part but may feel he has a good chance to progress to the second round here against Bogomolov. Nicolas Almagro is another who prefers the clay, but has had good grass court results in his rare forays on to the surface including victories over John Isner and Olivier Rochus. He holds a 2-0 head to head record over Viktor Troicki, who has the better grass results but may still not have enough to beat the Spaniard. A potential third round meeting should be tasty between Almagro and Berdych – they had a falling out when Almagro played a shot to pass Berdych at the net by hitting it right in his direct and the Czech felt it was being aimed at him.

Much like Philipp Kohlschreiber, Robin Haase is another currently in Kitzbuhel as he gears up for the final of the clay court tournament. Again, this won’t be ideal for the Dutchman though winning and added confidence can’t be a problem! He faces a tough first round tie against Richard Gasquet who will have his eyes set on a third round tie and revenge against Andy Murray in France last month. Gasquet controlled large parts of the match early only to buckle under the pressure of Murray’s injury doubts to lose in four sets. Murray probably has the hardest tie of the lot, drawing Stanislas Wawrinka in the first round. Murray’s most famous matches with the Swiss No.2 are his five set epic under the roof at Wimbledon where he prevailed, and his disappointing defeat in the US Open third round. If Murray makes it past the Swiss he should be fairly confident of making it to the rematch with the Frenchman, potential opponents are either a returning from injury Somdev Devvarman 0r Jarkko Niemenen – who also didn’t deal well with the pressure the possible Murray injury put him under. Marcos Baghdatis could give Gasquet or Haase problems if he makes the second round, the Cypriot loves the big occasion and has taken sets from Murray and Djokovic in recent Wimbledons.

My Quarter Final Prediction – Andy Murray defeats Nicolas Almagro in 2 sets

Must Watch Match – Andy Murray vs Stanislas Wawrinka

Did You Know…?

Tomas Berdych sealed his arrival to the tennis world in the 2004 Olympics defeating the World No.1 Roger Federer in three sets 4-6 7-5 7-5

Berdych does not have a losing head to head against the three seeds in his quarter

Quarter 4 (5) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga-Novak Djokovic (2)

Another of the in-form clay courters around at the moment is Thomaz Bellucci, who just took the title in Gstaad, he faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round. Bellucci only played once and lost in straight sets to Rafael Nadal, but really should have took at least one set considering he held a double break in the first! Milos Raonic is the likely Round 2 opponent for the winner, the Canadian’s big serve should be enough to see off Japan’s Tatsuma Ito but against more experienced players his movement has been found a little wanting and needs to improve if he wants to go deep here. Expect tiebreaks in the Feliciano Lopez/Dmitry Tursunov match – both are traditional grass courters with big serves. The winner will face either David Goffin or Juan Monaco in what promises to be an intriguing tie. Monaco has always preferred the clay courts too, but will be high on confidence after breaking into the top 10 this month. Goffin showed a lot of promise at Wimbledon, defeating Bernard Tomic amongst others and is definitely one to watch.

Novak Djokovic opens his account with a tie against Italy’s Fabio Fognini. Some believe that the Serb’s momentum was killed slightly when Fognini withdrew from their quarter final match at the French Open and left Djokovic without a match for longer than he really wanted to. Djokovic should deal with him fairly easily. A potential second round with a revitalised Andy Roddick could make for a cracker in the three set format. Roddick has won two titles in the past 2 months (Eastbourne, Atlanta) and dominated David Ferrer for a set and a half before running out of steam. His opponent, Martin Klizan, comes off a decent run in Kitzbuhel but shouldn’t trouble Roddick too much here even if he plays poorly. Another former Wimbledon champion in Lleyton Hewitt has been handed a wildcard to the tournament and showed good form in Newport to make the final where he lost to John Isner. He takes on Sergei Stakhovsky who appears to be dealing with a number of injuries having retired twice over the grass court season. Another in-form player in Marin Cilic heads this part of the draw, the Croatian picked up the Umag title this month and looked impressive at Wimbledon including taking a 5 set 5 hour epic against the American Sam Querrey. He faces Jurgen Melzer who departed disappointingly to Lukas Lacko in Round 2 at Wimbledon.

Cilic/Melzer
Hewitt/Stakhovsky

My Quarter Final Prediction – Novak Djokovic defeats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 3 sets

Must Watch Match – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Thomaz Bellucci

Did You Know…? 

The Second and Third Round’s in this quarter could see a match between two former world No.1’s – Novak Djokovic, Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick all lie in this section.

In defeating Roger Federer last year at Wimbledon from two sets down, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga managed to end an 178-0 streak the Swiss held when leading 2-0 in a match.

Medal Predictions

Gold Roger Federer

Silver Andy Murray 

Bronze Novak Djokovic

Who do you think will go well in the Mens side of the draw? Who can cause a shock? Let me know in the comments below!

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Weekly Roundup: This Week’s ATP/WTA Winners

ATP Tour

Bastad

David Ferrer extended his winning record over Nicolas Almagro to 11-0 with an easy straight sets victory 6-2 6-2. Ferrer only faced one break point through out the whole match and was always in control breaking Almagro twice in each set including the final game of the match. In the doubles Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau eased a little bit of the heartbreak of losing another Wimbledon final by taking the title, defeating second seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares 6-3 7-6(5).

AFP/Getty Images

Stuttgart

Janko Tipsarevic picked up his first title of the year with a far from straight forward victory over Juan Monaco in Stuttgart. The Serbian failed to take a break point for a 6-4 5-0 and was consequently pegged back to 4-4. Serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Tipsarevic made silly errors gifting the set away. With all the momentum seemingly in the Argentinian’s favour, Tipsarevic broke three times in the third set to take the match 6-4 5-7 6-3. The Doubles title was taken by Jeremy Chardy and Lukasz Kubot who convincingly beat Michael Mertinak and Andre Sa 6-1 6-3.

AFP/Getty Images

Umag

Marin Cilic defeated Marcel Granollers in straight sets to make up for his 2011 final defeat. Cilic came back from a 4-2 deficit in the first set, reeling off four games in a row to take the set. A break early in the second saw Cilic take control and despite a minor blip in failing to serve the match out at 5-1, he broke back straight away winning in 92 minutes 6-4 6-2. Granollers didn’t fare much better as an all Spanish final in the doubles saw David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco defeat Granollers and Marc Lopez 6-3 7-6(4).

AFP/Getty Images

Newport

Another dominant serving display saw John Isner defend his Newport title beating Lleyton Hewitt 7-6(1) 6-4. The first set saw no breaks of serve, and after that Isner took control in the tiebreak dropping just one point. An early break at 1-1 in the second was enough for Isner to hold on to for the remainder of the match, with his 16 aces certainly a big help. Santiago Gonzalez  and Scott Lipsky  took the doubles title with a 7-6(3) 6-3 victory over Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchings, breaking in the vital eighth game of the second set to earn the opportunity to serve it out which they did to 30.

via @TennisHalloFame twitter

WTA Tour

Palermo

Sara Errani took yet another WTA International title with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Barbara Zahlavova Strycova. An excellent performance from Errani in the 25 minute first set saw Errani drop just 1 game and break her opponent twice while managing a  96% first serve percentage (24/25) facing zero break points. The second set was slightly tougher as Errani dropped two service games but was never in danger of losing the set, sealing the victory by passing a helpless Strycova at the net. Strycova fared much better in the Doubles taking the title alongside partner Renata Voracova with a 7-6(5) 6-4 victory over Darija Jurak and Katalin Marosi.

Stanford

Serena Williams fought off a spirited Coco Vandeweghe to win the Stanford final 7-5 6-3 for the second time in a row. Williams was *3-5 0-30 down before taking the first set and fought off a set point to win the first despite an unconvincing performance in the set. Williams took full control in the fourth game of the second set breaking to love. At 4-1 30-0 on Vandeweghe’s serve, the potential for a breadstick was looming but she held on and forced Serena to serve for the match at 5-3 which she did to 15, finishing off  with a forehand down the line. In the Doubles Jarmila Gajdosova and Vania King suffered defeat to Marina Erakovic and Heather Watson 5-7  (7) 6-7. The pair came from a break down in the first set and saved set points in the second to win in straights.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

July 16th-22nd ATP Previews

It’s another packed schedule this week, with three mens tournaments to look at. The North American hard court swing carries on with ATP Atlanta while the European clay courters move on to Gstaad and Hamburg complete the clay trio.

(Click tournament name for draw links)

ATP Tour

Hamburg 500

Former multiple winners of this tournament include Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal but since it’s demotion from a Masters 1000 to an ATP 500, the German tournament has struggled to attract the very best names. In 2010, the tournament was won by the unseeded Kazakh Andrey Golubev but a fairly strong set of seeded players make it seem unlikely that such an event could happen again.

Favourite – Nicolas Almagro is one of the best clay courters around, but unfortunately suffers from being from a country where he is considered probably 3rd best on the surface! Thankfully, neither of his compatriots David Ferrer (who defeated him once more to earn the Bastad title and make it 11-0 head to head) or Rafael Nadal will be taking part in the tournament this week. Almagro repeated wins last year in Nice and at the Brasil Open for his two titles this year and also made the final in Buenos Aires where he was defeated by Ferrer once more. A finalist last year, I think Almagro has improved enough to have a great chance of winning it all.

Outsider – Fresh from a successful trip in Umag, where he picked up the title in his home country, Marin Cilic can go deep again here. The Croatian will feel he has been placed in the kinder side of the draw with Viktor Troicki a potential quarter final opponent. Cilic appears to be feeling no ill-effects from his Wimbledon run which included the epic 5hr30 third round encounter with Sam Querrey. Although often inconsistent, Cilic is hard to write off when he gets into a run of a form as he has done the past month.

One To Watch – A former French Open Boys winner, Martin Klizan has finally made the breakthrough to the main tour after a successful year winning three challenger events and making the final of another. Klizan qualified for the French Open directly through his ranking – the first time he has done so for a slam in this way. He suffered a defeat to Nicolas Mahut in the second round but put up a decent enough fight to show he could be a threat at this level.

Did You Know…?

Only Rafael Nadal (36) and Juan Carlos Ferrero (13) possess more clay court titles than Nicolas Almagro (12) of active ATP players.

All 4 top seeds possess at least one clay title this year.

Atlanta 250

Atlanta is a fairly new tournament on the tour, having been moved from Indianapolis only two years ago. Mardy Fish and John Isner have competed in the final both times with Fish coming out on top both times. These two lead a strong field which also includes two-times Indianapolis winner Andy Roddick.

Favourite – Having suffered from major health problems Mardy Fish appears to be back to near his best after a fairly impressive Wimbledon display where he made the fourth round and gave eventual semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga a big scare. Having won this tournament twice before, he has to be the pre-tournament favourite, especially with the 3-0 hard court record he holds over second seed John Isner.

Outsider – With many writing him off after a poor season to date, there have been some calls for Andy Roddick to perhaps retire. Roddick silenced some of the doubters for at least a while with a strong performance at Eastbourne where he picked up the title as a wildcard. He continued this impressive showing with almost two sets of great grass court tennis against David Ferrer before the Spaniard eventually battled through in four sets. While clearly the former world No. 1 is way below that level, the serve and forehand can still be a big threat on these hard courts and it is silly to write him off.

One To Watch – The story of Brain Baker has been an inspiring one. The former Junior star fought back from terrible injuries and after coming out of retirement last year has been on an excellent run to make the Top 100. A fourth round appearance as a qualifier at Wimbledon showed just what this American is capable of. He has been handed a wildcard here and it will be interesting to see how he shapes up against some of the more established Americans if he can make it that far. He faces Igor Kunitsyn in the first round here.

Did You Know…?

John Isner is one of only two players to have reached the 300 aces barrier this season on hard courts, the other being Milos Raonic.

The draw contains four college champions, 2x winner in Singles Steve Johnson (2011,2012) and doubles champions Rajeev Ram (2003), John Isner (2005) and Kevin Anderson (2006)

Gstaad 250

While the Swiss tournament does not get an appearance from now No. 1 and former winner Roger Federer, his fellow countryman Stanislas Wawrinka and Janko Tipsarevic lead a fairly weak field. The draw suffers from the withdrawal of David Ferrer so it will be up to Marcel Granollers to lead the charge of the Spaniards here as No.2 seed.

Favourite – Both the top seeds Marcel Granollers and Janko Tipsarevic have a fair case for being seen as the favourite. Granollers is coming off a final appearance in Umag and won Gstaad last year defeating fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the final. Meanwhile top seed Tipsarevic is also following up a final appearance last week, having taken the Stuttgart title in three sets. Tipsarevic managed to shrug off the loss off a second set when 4-0 and break point up to defeat Juan Monaco in three sets.

Outsider – While yet to pick up his first ATP Tour title, Santiago Giraldo was a regular victor on the challenger circuit before he made the step up. Giraldo has reached the Bogota Challenger final and faces Alejandro Falla tomorrow so will be high on confidence coming into the tournament.

One To Watch – Swiss-Finnish Wildcard Henri Laaksonen is a former French Open Boys semi finalist, in 2009 as a 17-year old. Laaksonen was close to qualifying last week for Bastad but was defeated in the final qualifying round by Ivo Minar – who went on to push Nicolas Almagro extremely close.

Did You Know…?

Mikhail Youzhny possesses winning records over 5 of the other 7 seeds, having never played Bernard Tomic and a 2-4 record against Feliciano Lopez.

Only twice in the last 20 years has a European not won the Gstaad title (Thomasz Bellucci 2009, Gaston Gaudio 2005)

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