WB Eve of the Men’s Semi-finals

Roger I think covered it all here.

He’s been reading my blog. Sam is dangerous, so is Cilic and Berdych. I brought all of this to light in my QF preview and elsewhere. Also, Roger points-out, good luck to Novak and Andy getting healthy. In my Rant, I clarified how important player health is to the health of the tour, as well – the health of all players.

My preview underscored the questions surrounding Novak and Andy; they were favorites for most people because not much was made of the injuries. Novak, in an interview after his retirement, said the elbow has been bothering him for a year and a half. And he was seeking treatment, aggressively, from his and the ATP’s physio since the beginning of the tournament. Not sure if this violates the tour’s version of HIPPA, or some other privacy clause for locker-room competitive banter, but that information should have “leaked.” Novak looked unconvincing throughout his soft draw but I sill thought he would rise – just like I thought he would rebound at the French. I keep waiting for this guy to come around; and, at the same time, I keep charting the Djokollapse, which is an unreal decline of a great player; this is beyond a slump.

But if I’d been better aware of the extent of his injury, he’d have been written-off July 3.

Again, I think Roger did well to shed some light on what’s left at this tournament in the video; it’s pretty simple at his point.

Cilic v Querrey

Cilic is dangerous (this we’ve been on since Netherlands and Queen’s). Querrey, though that was an upset (Murray’s injury report was perhaps too quiet, as well), is also dangerous. The big serve of both makes them formidable and they have good feet on grass, can pummel ground strokes, etc. Cilic’s resume may seem bigger (it is, no doubt, given his Cincy and USO titles), but Querrey’s recent exploits can’t be overlooked. He beat Novak at WB last year and this year he beat a surging Nadal and rampant Kyrgios in February (along with the hometown boy here on CC).

The Kyrgios match was especially interesting because the Aussie had just straight-setted Novak, was playing dominant/confident tennis, but the American took care of business. I watched this live and everything from the American, including the body language back-and-forth with the antic-ridden Aussie was impressive. The Yankee then beat Nadal in the final in straight-sets. Sure this is February 2017 we’re talking about, and Acapulco; but that’s some firepower he handled pretty decisively.

Either way, good on Querrey for getting the job done against Andy, in emphatic bakery goods, 1 and 1 in-front of the home-crowd on Centre Court to advance to the WB SF. Pretty much a break-through match despite all of the big matches I’ve been referring to here in my case for Querrey. He’s in a semi-final match at the Championships.

Cilic is rolling. I might add that the 5-setter against Muller after Muller played a week-end holiday long R16 match against you-know-who probably isn’t ideal for the Croatian. You lean Marin here, based-on his potential form (he’s shown that kind of high level before on this stage), where the big serve and quick-strike tennis could dictate terms to Sam. But if Sam can find his feet, put pressure on Cilic’s serve, find rallies, we could be in to a long match, a kind of coin flip match. Sam can certainly go five. Can he get it to five?

That’s the real theme here: the read is a Cilic v Federer final, but some surprise and unexpected has taken a seat at our table, causing a bit of a scene.

PS Keep our eye on the Cilic FH that has been known to let him down.

Federer v Berdych

Federer should win this match. If Berdych wins, it’s an upset. What makes Berdych a little more, for me, than just a big hitter who has beaten Federer before is that match in March, in a Miami QF, where the Czech veteran held MP in the third set TB. That was 2017 Federer and Berdych played him even.

The run here has been solid, but Novak did retire due to injury; perhaps the most Tomas can say is that he’s rested and ready to give an old friend more than just an exhibition? Not sure if it’s the presence of Ivanišević, or Berdych’s maturity, but this career top-ten player with loads of game does seem just a bit more purposeful, has more character, etc.

Raonic and Berdych probably present similar kinds of obstacles for Roger: both big serves, and can put balls past the Swiss from the BL. Raonic, of course, does a little more at the net.

Looking back at the Raonic v Federer QF:

1st set: Federer 94% of first serve won, was 1/2 on BP, 14-2 (winner v UE) and hit more aces than Raonic (5 to 2). Raonic won 71 % of his second serve, which seemed pretty high, was 11-4 winner/UE and was 0/0 on BP.

Federer able to convert on that BP, a little more solid on serve, but the set pretty clean; Raonic did not play poorly.

2nd set: Federer breaks game 1. Big move here. More urgency, variety, passing shots that leave Raonic just shaking head.  Second break at 4-2 and serves out the set at love.
Federer 92% FS won and 2/4 on BP. Again, very clean in the winner v UE department – Federer just playing good Federer tennis.

Raonic down to 13% second serve won (huge drop from the first set). Again. 0/0 BP opportunities.

3rd set was a held-service convention though Raonic did see a BP in the 8th game. Raonic, again, looked good. Go watch his 2014 SF match with Federer a WB. He has built himself a nice little WB resume and could one day raise this trophy.

In the 3rd set TB, Raonic off to a 3-0 start, but Federer comes roaring back, taking the next five points. He closes the Canadian out at 7-4.

To make a long story short, how many BP opportunities will Berdych get tomorrow Reader/commenter Incondite stole my thunder by brining-up the lack of ROS in Berdych (or Cilic/Querrey).

All four of these SFinalists have big serves, but who can put pressure on another’s serve? Who has the best ROS? Federer does.

Without a ROS, the chances to break become minimized. If Federer serves well tomorrow (in that 90% FS winning range), Berdych will have trouble finding cracks to weaken a surging Federer. Federer’s ROS, even against the huge Raonic delivery, proved effective enough to wear down the 6’5″ 26 year-old.

That just seems to be the crux here: serve and ROS. If Federer continues this form, in fact even improves some, he’ll be tough to beat.

I have enjoyed reading the comments. Thank you! Some one (I think “Jason Bourne” – wow, international spy intrigue at Mcshow Tennis) brought-up the point of Federer succeeding in a draw that’s been opened-up like this, with Murray/Djokovic/Nadal out. One such was that 2009 US Open – where he was up 2 sets to 1, seeking his 6th straight USO title. Did not happen.

Not sure if from this same commenter, but another point: at this age, has Federer left enough on the plate to raise his game for a SF and/or Final? To answer this, I would say his Lajovic and Zverev matches were solid though not necessarily balletic. He seems to have raised his level vs. Dimitrov (who did fade at the sound of another loss) and Raonic.

But all good points. Indeed, Federer has much work to do and Berdych, I suspect (and even hope) gives Federer and the viewing audience more reason to scoot to the edge of our seats and live or die on some dramatic major SF tennis.

Sorry for the late post, folks.

Enjoy the tennis and talk to you all tomorrow!

Federer and Lopez, Class of the Pre-Wimbledon Grass

Sorry for the delay, my friends.

You know at what season we’ve arrived, what these warmer months entail; friends and family distract unaware of the tennis genius the summer grass attracts, with the history and prestige of these European lawns, green though grooved with the wear and tear of the game’s gentler player, more skilled in the game’s finer truths.

You get my drift.

Indeed the tennis has been quite good. Watching these gents navigate the grass reminds me of my own attempts at finding time to blog in and amongst the various seasonal distractions. I am off to the mountains in a week, but not before I have some comments on Eastbourne’s play and, hopefully, if the information is available, the Wimbledon draw.

Roger Federer’s ninth Halle title is on a lot of people’s minds. I sure hope I can keep this short and sweet, which will enable me to finally get this off, and provide me with a few follow-up thoughts this week as we approach The Championships and all that is on-the-line this year at the oldest and probably most prestigious tennis tournament in the world.

Federer was indeed masterful vs. Zverev and by “masterful” we will assume I am talking about his physical mastery of the sport. However, I am even more impressed with Federer’s mental approach (we’ll call it) than with some of his tennis of this 2017 version of the Maestro, which many are going to say showed-up in the Halle final last Sunday. He did strike the ball more consistently, with equal parts depth and touch, was perhaps even more balletic than he’d been and showed everyone, again, how much skill and variety defines (or possesses) his tennis.

The way he’s mixing-up the points, moving his opponent at will, finding the baseline, the FH looking ever-so malignant, what’s not to like about where he is going at this point?

But just as much as his game mastery was a grass court master class, that final seemed quite similar to a Rafa-like beat-down. The poor kid didn’t have a chance. To be honest, I’m not even sure he had his best tennis on Sunday, and I’m speaking of Sascha. Then again I will agree with the throng of you who will say that Federer forced Zverev into those mistakes, that nervous almost scared form that left the Halle final an anti-climactic mugging. Federer’s brilliance overcame the German. Tough to refute such a claim. But I think the mental approach Roger took was just as damaging as was his tennis. They go hand-in-hand, right?

I have argued all of this on Roger’s behalf before. In the 2015 USO vs. Djokovic, we all pretty much knew what was going to happen before they began that match. So on the eve of the match, after my preview and all that jazz, I wrote Federer a little pep-talk only to encourage a more unpredictable outcome, to give Federer a push toward a more clutch, professionally polished execution that might try to close some of those doors, maintain a little more leverage during those heated negotiations. This is what I wrote. Here’s an excerpt:

Novak will probably have the edge in attitude and this aspect of this match will go a long way in determining the champion.  The images I posted in my previous post, for me, speak volumes.  Everything’s come pretty easy to Roger. He’s (in)famous for his relaxed (classy) style.  When that has translated to victories, this style has helped build the brand, that strong character argument that people use to worship his greatness.  However, those of us who really care and watch closely, we see this attitude or style as a potentially huge hinderance for Roger.  Some call it arrogance and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree.
At [2015] Wimbledon, Roger seemed to have this swagger in buckets.  I noticed it as the two made their way to the court.  Of course, Roger’s Wimbledon credentials are historic.  But that was then, this is now.  Get in the moment, Roger.  And when he made a u-turn in the first set (failing to consolidate that break), he crumbled.  The buckets of confidence and nonchalance brought this failed attitude to the ground and below.  Though we might see Roger as having a great poker face, a steadiness in his emotions during a match, this was not the case at Wimbledon and hasn’t been the case often for the Swiss in these big matches.  That’s his style.

This more execution-style (apply both definitions — carrying-out a plan and putting someone to death) seems inherent to the 2017 Federer, as much a part of this run as the BH, for instance. I will continue to study this, but this mental strength is a HUGE factor in this story, a story that has absolutely bedazzled everyone’s tennis imagination, forever.

I attribute so much of this kind of professionalism to Ivan the Terrible, which probably doesn’t make much sense, but it does. The way Federer ran through Melbourne, pulling-off that stunner down a break in the fifth to his nemesis was a plot twist most weren’t quite anticipating, especially in the fifth when things looked pretty grim. He consolidated this new direction in IW and Miami, marching right through the field and Nadal in the process. Sure, the two parts of this 2017 version are inseparable; sure, we need a more holistic view that considers the parts more complimentary, connected, etc. But Federer’s ability to keep his foot on the gas has been a remarkable change that I can’t overlook, or merely attribute this to his “form” or “confidence.” The difference between 2015 and 2017 Federer (other than age) is a more consistent return and BH and this mental capacity to finish.

What I saw vs Zverev last Sunday was a guy with a specific plan against the German who’d beaten him in Halle last year (SF), who has WB on the horizon and the historians fiendishly flipping the pages of these record books as Fedal continues to almost demoralize the field.

The slight nervous energy of the Mischa Zverev match, turned to an urgency vs Mayer in the QF. He maintained and finished a tough, close match vs. the Russian teenager, Khachanov. This urgency, with the footsteps of confidence growing a little bit louder, evolved into a professionalism (assassin-like) in the final. That evolution, itself, was interesting to watch.

To be clear, the tennis, for me, was almost secondary to this attitude of breaking his opponent as much with a fanatical focus as with an improved BH return of serve.

He was 2/12 in BP vs. Mayer. Through the first three games of the first set of the final, he was 2/3. Remember that aforementioned 2015 USO final and Federer’s BP conversion %? It was in the neighborhood of 3/19. The tennis at this level is almost SECONDARY to a ballsy return game early in a big match that breaks serve and tells your opponent “this is going to be a nightmare for you, pal.”

Speaking of nightmares, Federer’s serve does continue to really give him an edge over almost anyone. That Stuttgart loss I criticized? He had 29 aces in that match. And MP. And he lost. So, it’s not the weapon alone, people (serve, BH, etc.). He has to “finish” these points, games, sets and so on.

The more I think about it, the more it’s true, I’m afraid: at this level, the mental game, the ability to rise in those heavier, more meaningful moments will define the match.

That’s what Federer showed me more than anything in the final. He was cleaner. He executed his game plan (which he prepared with his coach) and he executed Zverev the younger, smashingly. The camera work is quite good, going from Federer to Ljubičić throughout. The Croatian is a steadying force, if you ask me.

Both finals last Sunday were won by a . . . (no, I’m not going to say “35 year-old”) one-handed BH. The grass is just a more interesting game (though I am pretty partial to HC, too) that requires players to use more game. The serve is a factor, the entire court comes into play, foot work, touch, the slice, etc.

Really, tennis-wise, the Queen’s Club final was more interesting, other than it’s tough to be more interesting than a Federer run on grass at 35. But Cilic and Lopez put-on quite a show. I always enjoy watching Lopez, the Spanish outlier, a guy whose game is so measured, deliberate and full of S&V class. How does anyone not root for this guy. With Cilic surging  these last two weeks, then going up a set here in the final to the other 35 year-old, most probably wrote-off Feli. But the way he digs-in, plays each point with both guts and grace, on Sunday he completed his task of winning what has been one of his most treasured tournaments, especially after failing in 2014 to Dimitrov where the big lefty held a MP.

For Cilic, this has to burn. I have been writing about his form for a few weeks now. He even looked decent in RG where he made the QF. On grass, his first strike tennis has been very effective. His serve is intimidating and he knows his way around the grass pretty well. What we saw, however, is a clear issue with this FH and probably his confidence, in general. He has some bad spells out there, where his timing and pop on that shot seem to go away.

I was thinking his placement in the draw would be a huge factor at WB (what top seed gets to deal with him in a QF). I still think this revelation will be pretty interesting as the Croat has to feel close to form, he’s played well at SW19 in the past, and his coach Jonas Bjorkman is a WB grass aficionado (SF in singles ’06 and three doubles titles ’02-04).

One theme we often see develop on grass is the presence of a big serve. Cilic shouldn’t hang is head that much as he has weapons to make a deep run at the next major in about a week’s time.

Lopez’s serve will certainly make him relevant, as will this weapon play a big role in the Federer and Zverev WB campaigns.

The grass does this: polishes the game and champions the players “more skilled in the game’s finer truths.”

Some see another developing theme in signs of the sport’s ageism: the older one gets, the better he becomes. Tough to argue with some of the numbers, but I will add that many of those players that we see succeed late in their careers, who persevere, remain relevant, etc., often carry a big serve (Karlovic, Muller, Federer, Lopez, et al). As a matter of fact, those four fine gentlemen have quite a game of grass in their tennis bag to boot (are there 33 year-old baseline grinders out there reaching tournament finals, grand slam  quarters and semis?).

So, Federer, serve in tow, appears to be finding that earlier 2017 form and confidence (the brutality of the BH still has room to grow, however). He himself was a little concerned earlier in the week: “I was doubting myself a little bit, I must admit, because losing [in the opening] round for the first time in 15 years on grass was always going to shake me a little bit and it did. So I’m happy to react right away and let that be forgotten and actually move on and remind myself I actually can play well on grass,” Federer said. “It’s a boost for me personally, with my confidence, knowing that my body is in good shape. Mentally, I’m fresh again and I’ve gotten used to match play” (ATP).

That was all I was talking about after Stuttgart. He needs matches.

Watching him evolve here through some tough matches (Mischa, Mayer, Khachanov) and then reach another level in the final has to be good news for the no. 3 seed at WB.

He appears to have a growing cargo of confidence as he pulls anchor and sets sail for London. So long, Halle (und die neun). Could Federer’s boat (das boot) have particular orders as Britain appears on the horizon?

Is London falling?

Another Weekend of Grass On Tap

The Halle SF are set. Federer beat the defending champ, Mayer, 3 and 4 and will face the young Russian Khachanov in one SF while the second SF has Gasquet facing Zverev the younger.

Zverev traded TB with RBA in their QF before the German took control 6-1 in the decider. Gasquet’s grass looks fairly potent, so we’ll see how he handles the rising Zverev who looks to find another Halle match with Federer; he beat the Swiss in last year’s Halle SF in three sets, but lost to Mayer in the final.

In London the SF look pretty much like Cilic v Muller and Dimitrov v the winner of Lopez /Berdych (Lopez up a set and they’re in a TB in the second – will update).

Dimitrov looks to have survived his QF, taking the first set 6-3, but losing focus and allowing the young Russian Medvedev back into the match before taking the final set 6-3.  Dimitrov seems to be finding some kind of rhythm though it’s tough to say if he has the legs of that early 2017 hard court form back in Brisbane and Melbourne. He’s still on our list.

Another we’ve been watching who continues to play well is Cilic. His serve, benefiting from his time with Ivanišević, is formidable at this point and if his ground strokes continue to be strong, look out for his grass campaign. The FH, which looked so strong early in his match with D. Young, lost a bit of its snap as that second set stayed close, but the American lost his cool and the Croat simply closed him out 64 75 (Young’s profanity was somehow overlooked by the umpire – not a good look for the American, cursing-out his box after every error).

To clarify, Cilic, WB quarter finalist in ’14 – ’16, is finding his grass slippers just in time, or so it appears. His solid serve will go toe-to-toe with the serve of Muller, winner at last week’s Ricoh Open, where he beat Sascha in the SF there in straights; no one should be overlooking the #26 in the world from Luxembourg, but if Marin wants to build his confidence for WB, I suspect he needs to and should beat Muller.

The Lopez v Berdych QF has gone to a third set.

So is everyone excited about Federer’s form now, consolidating his 2017 Jan – March run?

Yesterday’s R16 with Zverev the elder was good tennis from both men. Watching the S&V pressure players to make shots and be creative is a nice addition to the era of grinders we’ve become used to over the years. As I said back in January, listening to McEnroe the elder call the Zverev v Murray match in Melbourne was quite a treat. The present vs. the past, in a way. A bit like this blog of mine.

Most notably from the Zverev match, Federer looked very focused, sensing the importance of the result, needing more tennis than he’ll have under his racquet when he steps to the lawns of SW19. In other words, there was a shred of urgency to Federer’s game in that R16 match. Zverev held his own and the match could have become quite interesting at 4-4 in the first set TB. Federer held-on in the TB 7-4 and found a break at 4-4 in the second set to seal that victory. Pretty tight.

In today’s win over Mayer, the following seems to be the case here in our tennis laboratory at Mcshow Tennis. Federer looks good, but he’s reminiscent of the pre-Fed_Halle149815148594322017 Federer. The most glaring shortcomings of today’s match (pretty much of his tennis so far since his 10 week break) were in his attacking BH consistency and his BP conversion. He was pretty bad on both fronts today. I want to say he was 2/11 on BP opportunities today, and it was his slice BH that truly gave him the edge vs. Mayer. Sure this is a classic grass tool (slice), but the BH we came to enshrine in Melbourne through Miami was no where to be found, really.

Federer still has his FH and his flick-of-the-wrist creativity that still causes people to lose a breath. His serve is intact, as well. He was up 5-2 in the first set, had several BP (4) on Mayer’s serve to take the set 6-2, but, agonizingly, couldn’t find that break. Then he served-out the set at love (or something to that extent – the serve is very strong, still, which is a big reason he has and can continue to remain dangerous on this ATP). But that’s the 2015-16 Federer. What’s made 2017 so special is his attacking BH and his nerves on some big points. Granted the grass is making things a bit touchy and more difficult right now, but that’s my take-away from today.

He’s playing well, but the vulnerability from the BH and the BP conversion is alive and well.

Otherwise, the serve, the FH, the footwork, the BH slice, the volley magic, etc., are all there. The main thing, back to the point that’s being made in several posts here, is he continues to advance (doesn’t get Haas’ed), gets to play more matches, which he absolutely needs. No doubt.

Roger’s spring break will perhaps benefit him especially late in the season. He will be fresh for the summer Masters, NYC, the WTF. This is undeniable as long as he stays healthy.

But right now I am seeing a Roger who’s missing the pieces that made January thru March so historical.

Ljubičić’s expressions from the box look comforting, meaning he looks a little uncomfortable. At least that’s how I’m reading this: relief in advancing, but a little rough around the edges, for sure. Which we expect.

Lopez has overcome Berdych 76 67 75 to book passage for that second SF at Queens-Club.

I hope you’re enjoying the tennis, as well.

Notes on a Wednesday

The grass continues to befuddle a few of our higher ranked players and, in fact, as you know, London this week has become a kind of journeyman’s journey.

The top three seeds are vanquished at Ageon Championships with Murray getting beat in straights by lucky loser Thompson from Australia, Raonic getting over powered by Aussie super boy Kokkinakis, who has yet to live up to the youth hype of his countryman Kyrgios, and Wawrinka falling to grass veteran F.Lopez, which we probably don’t even consider an upset; Lopez is playing well and likes the grass, a finalist last week in Stuttgart.

Nice to see the young Kokkinakis rise-up, but we need to see a lot more from him before we start putting him in the same sentence as his better half: Nick Kyrgios. Speaking of, he looks to be dealing with some hip trouble, extending from the clay, and was dismissed via retirement down a set to American Nick Young, who had some nice showings on earlier hard courts.

Winner last week in s-Hertogenbosch Gilles Muller just beat Tsonga in 2R (R16) at Ageon, so he continues to use his solid serve to advance (that final v Karlovic was an ace factory, probably not a match enjoyed by our clay court fans).

Other notable play in London is to see if Dimitrov can find some form pre-Wimbledon. He’s down a set now, so we’ll see what happens there. Cilic should be able to find some deeper draw this week in London and I’m a bit interested in watching how this young Canadian Shapovalov fares vs. Berdych today. This kid, unlike the two Australian super boys who are now 21 years-old, is still a teenager. Looks like he can play. Good test today against Big Berd.

Murray’s loss is not a good look, like the loss from Federer last week. Federer has this week to find some rhythm, but Murray has to just get his shit together at this point. Murray should be able to outlast many an opponent in the Bo5 format and probably gets Andy-Murray-819267a decent draw from the top, as the no. 1 seed. He looked like he’s looked most of the season yesterday, sluggish, defensive, uninspired. His tennis in the RG SF vs. Wawrinka showed signs of the more offensive Murray, which, combined with the world-class defense, becomes a fairly potent brand. But simple defense won’t cut it. He has to raise his level, starting confidently in a couple of weeks.

Federer should get tested in Halle. Zverev the elder might help the Swiss groove that S&V a bit. Down the draw there are some other potential interesting matches for the people’s Wimbledon favorite. Looking forward to watching some of these Halle contests with the likes of Pouille continuing to build (though he has a difficult one next with local grass authority Mayer), Khachanov, Zverev the younger, Thiem, et al.

A nice counter-point to my Djokovic post yesterday about his fall, that in my sportsman’s mind seems among the tennis intelligentsia such a whisper at what amounts to the gates of hell, would be a little commentary on the Federer milestone, upon posting his 1R Halle win against the unlucky loser Sugita: 1100 wins.

That list puts a lot of tennis history into perspective. Makes you almost want to open the door on the statistical arguments that really persevere through time and space.

When you enter the discussion of greatness in anything, you are taking for granted to key elements: genius and time. The craft of greatness has reached a highest level and this level has been maintained over a period of time that we can define in various ways, depending upon the craft.

In tennis, Federer’s career consistency is incredible. For one perspective on that, see my comparison of Federer and Nadal in terms of their 2017 level. Federer’s level is consistent with his level over the last several years. With Djokollapse (and Ljubičić, the improved BH, etc.) he has made quite a move to the winner’s circle, but the level has been high for years. Nadal’s level in 2017 is more of a surprise. Period.

This is the context of my concern for Djokovic.

Speaking of which, let’s see how Eastbourne treats the Serb. I am certainly rooting for his improved form and confidence.

2017 Grass in Progress

Stuttgart final four:

French connection of Pouille v Paire
and M.Zverev v Fel. Lopez

Zverev took-out the German sharp-shooter (Haas) 4 and 4 and Lopez took care of Berdych in three after losing the first set TB. Pouille, a WB QFinalist last year, got by Kohlshreiber in three today and Paire beat Jankowicz in straights.

Looking for some patterns to affect the draws at SW19 in about a couple of weeks, Pouille could be finding some rhyme and rhythm after his choppy clay. He has a nice offensivetennis that the grass suits. Zverev’s S&V will be fun to watch match-up with certain players who will struggle with that grass gas. Lopez’s game is a nice change-of-pace from a Spaniard – he’s a graceful grass player who can certainly make opponents earn a win or a loss. Paire is a mystery, decent ball-striker (solid BH) with a terrible temper, who can seek-out an upset.

Let’s look for a Pouille v Zverev final in Stuttgart (to raise the volume on the Zverev grass factor).

In s-Hertogenbosch, the SF:

Cilic v Karlovic
Mueller v A.Zverev

Ahhh, the serve is a factor again. Haven’t seen much of Karlovic this week, but Cilic continues to show some form; the 2016 Wimbledon Semi finalist should surgically impair the Dr., but I suppose he could ace the court right off the Croat 😉

Big serving Mueller shouldn’t have enough to beat Zverev, who continues to grow. We have to like the play of Zverev at WB this year (both of them, perhaps). He had a bad draw in Paris (Verdasco), but got his first Masters, of course, and is really mowing the lawn this week. He got beat last year in WB R32, I’m pretty sure, by Del Potro, so we’ll have to see his draw. But he’s different player this year.

We will continue to watch next week’s WB warm-ups to assess more form and possible contenders at The Championships.

These names jump-out as players to watch, some quite obvious.

Federer
Nadal
Murray
Djokovic
Wawrinka
Raonic
Zverev(s)
Pouille
Cilic
Berdych
Kyrgios
Dimitrov

We hear Djokovic is considering a warm-up in Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon.
Federer, Wawrinka and Murray should be in action next week, as well.
Another note on the Federer loss: he had, correct me if I’m wrong, 29 aces. Up 6-2 and MP in the 2nd set, with a gob of aces. . .no panic in the loss, but in the potential that he’s lost that edge that began the year in all-time fashion.
I might not be back to write untfederer-haas-stuttgart-2016-monday-2il next Tuesday (my son’s soccer team has a big weekend up the road a couple of hours). Then again, I have my phone and have been known to touch the keys from the discomfort of that awful Apple phone keyboard. 😦  I know, get a laptop, pal.
Of course, some of you might want me to take a break anyway. Good luck with that 😀
Wimbledon will be here before you can say “upset!”
Cheers.