Let’s start with the grass, then move-on to the harder stuff. I stated the obvious in a previous post that Roger and Andy, though each a little tight out-of-the-gate at their respective Wimbledon warm-up tournaments, were finding good form. They both came away victorious, Roger actually claiming his eighth Halle, Germany title (Gerry Weber Open). The Swiss continues to pile-up the career wins, gliding into the sunset with his balletic tennis that still dazzles to the day. His athletic prowess transcends the tennis court, so I encourage anyone interested in the human race, what its capable of athletically (beauty), to sit and watch the Fed Express for a set or two.
Who did Roger beat in the final? Andreas Seppi, of course. I mentioned Seppi is in good form and I actually gave him a slight shot to beat Federer last Sunday. Although he did beat Roger in the 2015 Australian Open in four sets, I think the Italian will have trouble surprising people like he did Roger in Melbourne back in January. Of course, Halle is best of three and we’ve already pointed-out that Rog is still world class in that particular format. None the less, great tournament for the Italian, who’s got a nice athletic grit to his game. I’m a fan.
Andy Murray took care of business at the Queens Club Championships, beating the lanky South African Kevin Anderson in the final in straight sets. Anderson had a solid run, taking care of Wawrinka in two tough tie-breakers (Stan perhaps still a bit tipsy from his Rolland Garros celebration) before taking care of the tough Spaniard Garcia-Lopez and the veteran Frenchman Simon in the semi-final. Murray looks ready to make another deep run at the much anticipated Wimbledon Championships fortnight that begins in less than a week!
As far as a quick bit of prediction for Wimbledon, let’s just say that the usual suspects will probably keep us entertained. This is definitely a major that Roger can still win. He has seven Wimbledon championships, equaling Pete Sampras, and was runner-up a year ago to Djokovic, so figuring he has a decent shot is not out of the question. With Nadal struggling (fading), the Murray/Federer/Djokovic threesome looks to be obvious favorites, with Djokovic almost certainly in the best position to win and secure his second major of the year, his third Wimbledon and ninth career major.
However, was the 2015 French a microcosm of Djokovic’s career? He comes-out hot, wins with ease (5 of his 8 majors are Australian Opens, the first major of the year) and seems to fade. He has yet to master the clay (tough for most players), has 2 at Wimbledon and a single US Open. That’s a bit of a pattern. His spring was amazing, winning in Melbourne, Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo and Rome. Dominant tennis. The loss at the French I have already put in perspective. Let’s see if he can turn this pattern around and FINISH strong, winning on surfaces that suit him just fine.
As for any possible dark horses, I don’t see Stan having a similar run in him. I could see Nick Kyrgios making things tough for a lot of players although he has apparently just split with his coach Todd Larkham. Not sure how that will affect him, but his big serve and sensational though erratic game can be a huge threat out there. With Tsonga hurt and Dimitrov is some kind of slump, the grass will be ruled, in my estimation, from the top. I don’t see the likes of a Berdych or Nishikori (guys in the top five or ten) being able to challenge the big three on the famed lawns of Wimbledon.
A quick shout-out to Joe Gray for his American record at Mount Washington. That sub 1 hour club is a who’s who of American mountain running, which seems to make MWRR a true mountain running crucible. Gray, Blake, Canaday, Gates, and, of course, Carpenter. Wow. IMHO, there’s at least one version of your American MUT Rushmore (mine, at least, which doesn’t include the zombies of the 100 miler variety – ha). What a fantastic venue and history. Having said that, Jono Wyatt’s 56:41 seems just ridiculous. What a shame Carpenter and Wyatt weren’t able to tangle. Granted, Carpenter has him by about seven years, but truly, needless to say, legends in our midst. And looks like Gray is establishing his own similar kind of mountain dominance for the ages.
I suppose I might fancy some predictions for Western States, but I’ll save that for the next couple of days. I’ll most likely update the NBA off-season with respect to the Bron Bron Phenomenon, as well. The writing is on the wall, folks. Don’t be surprised.
Lastly, I certainly hope Dustin Johnson keeps it together after that epic collapse. I think he’ll be fine. Just keep your nose clean, buddy. St. Andrews is right around the corner.