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!

Wimbledon QF Preview and A Rant

Quarter Finals

1. Murray (3 set R16) v Querrey (5 set R16)

My numerology is fantastic! Everyone who played a three-set R16 match raise your hand. You are going to win your QF match and advance to the SF! Congratulations! This is a conspiracy and we’ve let this one go a little too far. You are all part of a grand chain of events beyond your control. If your R16 match went 5 sets, sorry. Better luck next time!

Actually my Rant is below, but I’m really feeling it right now. Sorry. Thought that pattern nonetheless is pretty funny and does probably work to determine the SF match-ups. Ha ha.

Murray should advance here and wear-and-tear will be a part of that. Plus, Murray has more leverage across the board, starting with he’s a better tennis player. But the intangibles are speaking-up, as well. He’s the defending champ at his home major. Lendl is in the house. Murray looks untroubled so far and we know he’s been getting good reps. That RG SF wasn’t all for nought. What’s not to like about Murray?

Of course, Querrey isn’t just an empty pint. Querrey made the QF last year after beating Novak (the supposed beginning of Djokollapse) and lost to Raonic. He can play grass and his big serve makes him relevant (as it does Muller and Raonic and even Berdych). Andy’s ROS will partly neutralize the American’s big weapon, but stranger things have happened. And what’s the status on injuries? I have heard Andy is injured. Novak looked injured today, yet the talking heads around SW19, who have better access than we do, don’t seem to be talking much about any of this. This could be Andy in 3 or 4, but if gets into the land of TB, the contest could get tight, go either way; and Murray, we know, is still chasing that lion. But you have to favor Murray here.

2. Cilic (3) v Muller (5)

These two played a tight SF at Queen’s Club that Marin won 63 57 64. Muller may be rested and feeling really confident from that win over Nadal, so we could be in for another tight match. I have been big on Cilic and I think he over-powers the lefty; at the cilic-wimbledon-2017-wednesdaysame time, the big serve can neutralize a dangerous opponent, too. Can Muller tap into a big day on serve and keep things going for another round? Probably better to surmise that Gilles is pretty taxed, and Marin will continue to march towards another final-four showdown (remember, he was up 2-0 sets on Roger in last year’s WB QF. He had MP at Queen’s two weeks ago in the final. This is a guy with major championship range and he’s probably pretty motivated). Jonas Bjorkman doesn’t hurt either. We like Cilic here but an energized and stoic Muller would be gift for us fans, again (that Nadal match is still ringing in our ears).

3. Fededer (3) v Raonic (5)

Federer is rolling, and Raonic has had a less than good year on tour; but we better understand that Milos will not be an easy match for Federer. Of course, last year’s SF plays into that. But even more so: his run here at these Championships. A win like that in the R16, against a young hot-shot who’s been playing better and more (consistently), has to bring Raonic out of his slump a bit. And the serve is just enormous. We think back to the role a big serve can play on these lawns, even the slower manifestations of the grass. The Zverev match is a big win for the Canadian.

But, the taxman did collect, Raonic needing five big sets (though he breadsticked Sascha in the fifth) to compile the victory. That was a tough battle, so some fatigue would be expected and Federer has been pretty light on his feet, flowing, seems ready for this revenge match.

A reader asked about my commentary last year where I called Roger out a bit for failing to close-out Raonic. I have not re-read my post on that SF, but like most matches, there are a few big moments in the exchange that will determine the big shifts in score and momentum (clutch). I remember that being the case with that match, that Federer, whether it was injury, the Ljubičić-project still in its infancy, who knows, but Federer couldn’t handle the big Raonic at that point. Raonic had a better year in 2016, had McEnroe in his box during the fortnight, etc. He was a better player then.

And Federer has that clear re-interpretation of tennis at the business-end. 2017 Federer, understatement of the era, has been remarkably more efficient, lethal. Before, all of that lethality would dull in those critical breaths of huge games and points. He’s closing now; the BH being a good tangible example of this new approach; but the intangibles seem as palpable, as well. Federer’s variety, sorcery, and talent are now polished with that more efficient gamesmanship, match management, etc. You know what I mean.

Federer should win this (on the 5 v 3 numerology) but also on the arch of their careers (ironically); Federer is looking to continue an historical year, playing well. Raonic seems to be struggling just a bit and might have expended a bit too much getting to the QF.

Lastly, on this match; that serve and ROS equation. If Federer can serve well here, then the Canadian has to have a mammoth day on serve. Federer’s ROS is much better and will, most likely, get a look at some BP – of course, he has to cash-in, unlike Nadal yesterday. But if Federer is serving like he did against Grigor, how does Raonic pressure Federer?

4. Djokovic (3) v Berdych (5)

I will write this analysis tomorrow, but as you can see, based-on my sophisticated numerology, I can predict that Novak will win in 3 sets (follow the pattern there?).

I wrote that sentence yesterday, so another prediction fulfilled! I know, I’m being pretty silly, but the match (I watched bit toward the end) looked off. Novak had a MTO and seemed to be wincing through out his service games. That did not look good. I saw highlights of the first set and Novak looked solid, running Mannarino side-to-side at will; Novak looked to be hitting the ball well. 

But he looked off closing-out the match, unhappy, uncomfortable. After the match, Gilbert and Goodall didn’t say much about the injury. Is he injured? Was that an inappropriate MTO? I’m referring to my back-in-forth with Wilfried in last night’s comments. Novak looked legitimately uncomfortable in that right shoulder/elbow/etc.

As for Berdych, he can play grass and he’s a big boy with a big game. He does struggle playing these top guys; he is 2-25 against Novak overall. But, he’s also 1-1 at WB against the Serb, the win coming in the 2010 QF.

We’ll see. I still don’t know the status of Novak. I’ve been anticipating his return for a few months now. He didn’t really prove too much at Eastbourne, his draw here has been a joke (again, Mannarino looked completely over-matched out there. Looked like a bad ticket to watch Wimbledon), and now he looks to be battling injury with another match tomorrow against a big hitter?

You got me on this one.

Berdych has been playing well this year; I keep going back to the QF at Miami where he played 2017 Federer to a stand-still. He’s under the direction of Ivanišević. But he just played 5 v Thiem and he’s 2-25 against the Djoker. I’m not calling upset though this would not surprise me; would validate this mystery form and health that the shitty draws perpetuate. Instead, I’m calling BS on the Serb – if he’s healthy, and he probably is, he routines the big, tired Czech underachiever (you hear that, Tomás? Prove me wrong, big guy).

_________________________________________________________________________________

Is there any pressure on Djokovic? You bet there is. He has to prove to someone, anyone (himself, his coaches, Pepe, his fans) that he is in major championship winning form. This isn’t Novak, #1 in the world, with a seasoned box including Wimbledon great Boris Becker on staff. This is Novak, clawing his way out from under the Djokollapse, who’s hired Agassi and Mario Ancic, a decent player back in the early to mid aughts, but left the game to go to law school and become a banker.

Brad Gilbert, referring to Djokovic’s R16 match today getting postponed (and finally moved to July 11), suggested that both Djokovic and Agassi must have been pacing back Agassi_Wimbledon-2017-player-Novak-Djokovic-988952and forth like Agassi used to do during his playing years, anticipating the start of his match (Gilbert coached the American for a time). These two have to be somewhat nervous since there’s a lot on the line – more so than for any other player (an argument I have been making all year, which I started in 2016). This is more important for him than it is for Fedal, Andy, Cilic, Mannarino, yo mama, etc.

Don’t be fooled.

And Agassi is not messing around. He’s doing this coaching gig pro bono. He’s going after people even somewhat critical of Novak, including John McEnroe; according to reports, McEnroe likened Djokovic’s fall to that of Tiger Woods’. Hmmm. We might have to consider the context here like was necessary with his comment about Serena’s relevance on the ATP. Agassi told Johnny Mac to shut-up.

So, from the nervous pacing to the mafia-like public relations, the Novak camp has to know that tomorrow had better be a smooth three-setter.

If you recall, I joked about the upset alert in my last post regarding Djokarino. Instead we got Muller Time (another t-shirt). I don’t think Novak has much difficulty tomorrow, but then again I don’t have much on which to base my confidence in Novak.

I will fill-out the QF preview tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

PS
Djokerfan is suggesting that there’s a conspiracy in putting Djokarino on Court 1 today, knowing full well that they would never get that match in, so moving the match to 7/11 is part of, again, some conspiracy to undermine Nole. Djokerfan is wrong again. The conspiracy, rather, is that this unrepentant mass needed something about which to hiss and piss; it’s not a meaningful tournament unless the Djokergirls and boys are crying. Alas, we have a complaint! Couldn’t cry about the draw. But they got something to piss on, after all. Only the Djokes on them. 😀

PPS
Good luck, Novak. Just play good tennis.
Berdych is waiting and playing like it’s 2010 😉

_______________________________________________________________________________________

The Rant

Folks, you and I read and watch a lot of tennis. The fact that you’re reading this right now makes me very happy, by the way – might even add a little motivation in the morning to get out of bed 😀

I grew-up listening to many of our great tennis narrators add so much layer and depth to matches, tournaments, championships, and their players. I’m getting side-tracked here; this is not a recollection of some of the sport’s great voices – that would be a fun post to write for sure.

This is about some of the garbage out there that I want to say a few quick words about. Indeed, some of the less qualified “voices” in our super-charged social media environment decorate this glorious tennis landscape like wads of senselessness that I guess at least provide some of us fuel for discourse. But you know of what I speak.

Let me paraphrase the sentiment that I have been torpedoing for awhile here lately. It’s pretty much the Djokerfan. Separate this discussion from the discussion about tennis and their hero. He’s an all-timer, one of the very best ever and watching him struggle to get out of this collapse is a little disturbing; I can go into that more later, but let’s just say that the world isn’t quite right when a 30 year-old Novak Djokovic is struggling. As I’ve been saying, get your shit together, bud. Shit or get off the pot. What is this? Seems very personal, emotional.

Of course, Andy last year and now Fedal have moved to fill the void; so it’s not like we’re abstinent from genius competitive professional men’s tennis. In other words, the sport we love is better when people are healthy and playing their best. All players.

Do you hear that, Djokerfans? Your pissing and moaning about the conspiracy against your player is a bad look, a really bad look. You believe Novak has been singled-out because he’s a threat to Fedal, the sport in general, whatever.  You believe others (a vague “they”) perpetrate an historical crime (perpetuated) against Djokovic. If that’s the case, and it is, then the spirit of your complaint implies you would prefer to see bad fortune brought upon others. If you believe there is ill-will toward your player, then you naturally (we all assume this if you’re too dumb to realize this) invite ill-will on your opponents.

You recall my exposé on CindyBlack3 (look her up on Twitter) and that fog horn of fanatical garbage. She blocked me finally when I asked her how her argument that Novak is the greatest HC player of all time jives with Roger’s and Pete’s 5 USO majors, or Lendl’s eight straight USO finals. That’s the land of hard courts, folks, where the men separate themselves from the pretenders. Federer has as many of those titles as Novak, Nadal and Andy have combined. Get your saber metrics toilet paper out of the building. She and her cohorts have all kinds of statistics that argue the corruption of draws designed to undermine Novak, historically.

The Djoker conspiracy around 2017 Wimbledon has finally landed, as of yesterday (tough to bring too much attention to the draw in which their player has played a bunch of top-50 players). I touched-on this extra-terrestrial encounter yesterday, as the alien ship landed only because there was nothing acutely, of note, for them to sink their teeth into until that Muller v Nadal match.

Because Djokarino played today, the scheduling of a Djokovic match is now under protest; the calendar was altered, moved to today because the court it was scheduled to play on yesterday, Court 1, happened to be occupied by one of the great matches of recent memory.

One popular strain of the conspiratorial virus reads along these lines: “They” (whoever the fuck that is) want a Federer-Murray final. They’ll go on to say crap like Federer’s scheduling has never been subject to so much “bad luck.”

The Fan will look past the pure manner of scheduling and the coincidence that Nadal and Muller would play a ~5 hour classic. Are Muller and Nadal in on the conspiracy, too?

Or is it that you want to play on Centre Court? Part of this complaint might be that because the Nadal/Muller went so long, Agassi and Djoker were upset that the last R16 match wasn’t moved to Centre Court on the fly. They were upset, apparently. But can’t you all see how/why that seems a little more complicated than you’d all like it to be? A lot of pieces, quickly, and confusedly, have to move. Sorry to break it to you, but the entire planet doesn’t just revolve around Djokovic. But isn’t that ironic, because you think the tennis planet revolves around Federer (and Nadal?). Actually, clarify that for me; is Nadal part of the bad guys? Is it Djokovic v Federer or Djokovic v Fedal? I haven’t heard if Nadal was upset that he was on Court 1 for the R16. Perhaps we should look into that…

If you’re bummed that Djokovic wasn’t originally scheduled for Centre Court, what’s your point? That your player is being de-valued, you’re insecure that he’s not “liked” or as popular as other players? That sounds ridiculous. But is it possible that there is some truth to that? Would such a sentiment be totally unfounded?

If you can’t possibly see the rationale for Murray playing on Centre Court and/or Roger Federer playing on Centre Court (from a fan’s point-of-view, the role of marketing, the pulse of business enterprise, the growth of the tournament and the sport, not to mention the quality of the match – your draw stinks, Novak), I can only encourage you to keep reading my blog, because I believe that will help.

What about your draw?

If you think the tournament really wanted Federer v Murray, why wouldn’t they just switch Federer’s draw with Djokovic’s? Your QF opponent has a 2-25 record against you. You played a guy today in the R16 that looked way out of his league and the guy he beat in R3 is best known for tanking matches. You get the most favorable draw in the tournament, yet you think we’re all coming for you?

Did you see the move that I made in that last sentence? I changed the pronoun from “they’re” to “we’re.”

Your irrationality does see it as the world is after you. And people like me will come after you because your hysteria taints an ordinarily decent event (Is the sport totally void of corruption? No. But we can certainly utilize our crap-detectors to determine what and when something is really worth some kind of investigative discussion).

The only thing, of course, that will cure this disease is for Novak to start winning; then again, we know humanity well enough to gauge that even that won’t curb the conspiracy enthusiasm. 😉

Carry-on.

Wimbledon QF Preview – (In Progress)

Quarter Finals

1. Murray (3 set) v Querrey (5 set)

2. Cilic (3) v Muller (5)

3. Fededer (3) v Raonic (5)

4. Djokovic/Mannarino v Berdych (5)

I will write this analysis tomorrow, but as you can see, based-on my sophisticated numerology, I can predict that Novak will win in 3 sets (follow the pattern there?).

Is there any pressure on Djokovic? You bet there is. He has to prove to someone, anyone (himself, his coaches, Pepe, his fans) that he is in major championship winning form. This isn’t Novak, #1 in the world, with a seasoned box including Wimbledon great Boris Becker on staff. This is Novak, clawing his way out from under the Djokollapse, who’s hired Agassi and Mario Ancic, a decent player back in the early to mid aughts, but left the game to go to law school and become a banker.

Brad Gilbert, referring to Djokovic’s R16 match today getting postponed (and finally moved to July 11), suggested that both Djokovic and Agassi must have been pacing back Agassi_Wimbledon-2017-player-Novak-Djokovic-988952and forth like Agassi used to do during his playing years, anticipating the start of his match (Gilbert coached the American for a time). These two have to be somewhat nervous since there’s a lot on the line – more so than for any other player (an argument I have been making all year, which I started in 2016). This is more important for him than it is for Fedal, Andy, Cilic, Mannarino, yo mama, etc.

Don’t be fooled.

And Agassi is not messing around. He’s doing this coaching gig pro bono. He’s going after people even somewhat critical of Novak, including John McEnroe; according to reports, McEnroe likened Djokovic’s fall to that of Tiger Woods’. Hmmm. We might have to consider the context here like was necessary with his comment about Serena’s relevance on the ATP. Agassi told Johnny Mac to shut-up.

So, from the nervous pacing to the mafia-like public relations, the Novak camp has to know that tomorrow had better be a smooth three-setter.

If you recall, I joked about the upset alert in my last post regarding Djokarino. Instead we got Muller Time (another t-shirt). I don’t think Novak has much difficulty tomorrow, but then again I don’t have much on which to base my confidence in Novak.

I will fill-out the QF preview tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

PS
Djokerfan is suggesting that there’s a conspiracy in putting Djokarino on Court 1 today, knowing full well that they would never get that match in, so moving the match to 7/11 is part of, again, some conspiracy to undermine Nole. Djokerfan is wrong again. The conspiracy, rather, is that this unrepentant mass needed something about which to hiss and piss; it’s not a meaningful tournament unless the Djokergirls and boys are crying. Alas, we have a complaint! Couldn’t cry about the draw. But they got something to piss on, after all. Only the Djokes on them. 😀

PPS
Good luck, Novak. Just play good tennis.
Berdych is waiting and playing like it’s 2010 😉

The 2nd Week at WB is Underway

If you had work today, had some kind of commitment or responsibility that prevented you from watching today’s R16 action, I sympathize; that was me last week, out of range to witness any of the 1st week at SW19.

Of course, I am quite pleased that I didn’t miss today’s tennis, a chance to sit in-front of the tube and watch the sport’s best (8 of the top-10) show that 2nd week gear they’ll need to reach the true business-end of the Championships. The only downside today is we had a few matches going-on at once. My best effort was to have Federer and Nadal on two different channels which enabled me to toggle back-and-forth.

The earliest matches, Cilic v Bautista Agut and Querrey v Anderson went according to form. I really only saw highlights of Cilic, but he looks tremendous right now. His big, quick serve and potentially lethal ground strokes finished the Spaniard, so he’s through and looks very confident. Again, he had a great WB tune-up and looks to be as scary a player as we have in the draw. The best thing that could have happened to that guy is losing Queen’s.

We’ll take him over Muller, a rematch of their Queen’s SF Marin won in three. This is big-boy grass tennis, ladies and gentlemen.

querrey-nadal-rtr-759Of course, I am very pleased to see Sam outlast Anderson. Anderson has been mediocre this year, but the American has shown all kinds of class, smashing Kyrgios in Acapulco before beating Nadal in that final. His BH is solid, knows the grass well enough, which only adds to his big serve.

I suppose I am overlooking Andy a bit, quietly purring along up there in the #1 slot. Sam should give him a go, and Andy didn’t really need too much today to beat Paire, but he’s through, he’s defending and the crowd adores the #1. Smart money is on Andy in that QF, especially with Sam needing a longer outing to get himself through.

Two other matches that went five were the Raonic v Zverev and Thiem v Berdych. Zverev seemed to have the advantage up two sets to one and even a break I believe in the fourth, but the 2016 finalist evened it out, took the fourth 7-5 and won going away in the fifth. I did like Zverev a bit here, but the experience of Milos and a bit of guts looks to have gotten him back to the races here at The Championships. Still a good fight from the young German.

Thiem v Berdych had to favor the 2010 finalist and he ended-up good enough to survive. You have to hand-it to the young Austrian for his competitive spirit, but he simply needs more experience (and coaching perhaps) to get that game suited for surfaces other than clay. Good on him for the five setter, but Berdych’s grass class might be just getting a bit of shine for his big match coming-up in the QF. Nice to see Berdych get into a good beef with the chair over a call that could have really turned the match; but the Czech 11-seed overcame and advanced.

The last two matches of the day were terribly interesting mainly because they played into the fate of Fedal. I really nailed these in terms of prediction, meaning I did my homework. Nadal, upon further review, did not seem as formidable as he did at first glance.

As I said (and you probably could tell due to the lack of commentary), I missed the first few rounds of action. I saw highlights, but those are highlights (not fully disclosing the entire story of a match). Rafa did look dominant, attacking, FH amazing, net efficient, etc. But the flaw appeared as I watched more of his matches on replay, especially his R3 with the Krussian (another nickname: my T-shirt empire will be impressive). Rafa was working pretty hard in these early rounds (I compared this to Federer who is almost frustratingly composed and relaxed, fluid and seemingly showing-off). Well, even if this is partly true of Federer, he certainly wasn’t expending so much energy.

The Muller v Nadal match was just brilliant (aside from fulfilling more or less my prophecy). The fifth was quite interesting in that, aside from the incredible back-and-forth, and the MP and SP saving tennis from both that ended 15-13, one really saw the advantage of order of serve; Muller did not go away in that fourth set, made Nadal serve-it-out. So Muller opened the fifth on serve and this was huge.

Muller wasn’t losing serve easily, so this just meant that Nadal always had to serve to stay in the match. Even breaking Muller meant he would still have to consolidate. This isn’t a feature of a match I’m that much tuned to, but the pressure on Rafa’s serve, serving to stay in the match, was immense and finally broke him, no question. The lefty from Luxembourg really should have ended the match on a few occasions, whether via his several MPs that Rafa saved, or with some very questionable shot selection (drop shots) that kept the 4-seed alive. Great theatre and as I mentioned to a commenter, “buckets of class” out there. A real pleasure to have the time to watch those guys battle it out.

The Federer v Dimitrov match went according to prediction, as well. Here’s what I wrote about this potentially tough match:

Federer v Dimitrov aka Darth Vader v Skywalker. I loved Grigor’s form early in the year. He was playing inspired all-court tennis, winning Brisbane (beating some big boys in the process) and we all recall his follow-up run in Melbourne culminating in the epic SF with Nadal.

But we have to give the nod to Federer here, even in routine fashion. Why do I say this, especially in light of my criticism earlier? There are signs of Federer and his coaches’ design. His match with the young Serbian Lajovic was interesting early, the Serb up 2-0 and serving in the first set. Federer looked unimpressive. That first set went to TB. Even steven. Federer took-off after that, but it was pedestrian as far as Federer is concerned. [ . . .]

I predict that tomorrow’s match will see a more urgent Federer, trying more consistently to execute a more efficient game plan that revolves, as all grass tennis revolves, around the serve and ROS. We need not look much further than these two grades of achievement. His serve and ROS have to become more dangerous, more deliberate.

Federer was really solid today, executed very well and the win, indeed, was routine. Aside from Federer’s progress, Dimitrov has trouble at these stages of these tournaments,Federer-wimbledon-II having to overcome this level of opponent. We’ve seen it many times. Let me turn to some of my notes I took during the match (sorry for the transparency, but this detail is far too interesting to me and I hope to you as well):

The telecast brought-up some statistics that indicate what a player needs to do to most likely be effective; you probably know to what I’m referring. They said Roger needs to win 28% of first serve returns, which would give him about an 84% chance of winning. This is just a nod to that ROS we know is so crucial.

Early in the first, the players were even, holding serve, Dimitrov showing some solid shot-making, basically the mini-Federer. Pretty decent stuff as they got a feel for each other.

First set at 4-4 was a big moment (the call said something to the extent that the last 8-9 sets between these two have gone 6-4 and this is classic Federer tennis, anyways, seemingly in cruise-control, but for that small window through which he secures the set theft).

Whereas Roger has been holding serve nearly at love, Dimitrov is feeling more and more pressure. 4-4, pivotal point in the match, Dimitrov serving, and Federer reaches a BP opportunity. Grigor with an ace. Then Grigor with a DF, BP #2. Roger BH ROS into the net. FH ROS long, ad in. Then deuce. Ad out, BP #3. Federer breaks.

Then he consolidates at love. The progressive pressure on Grigor’s serve pays-off at 4-4, though RF misses his first two looks at BP.

dimitrov-sf-bhBrad Gilbert provided some classic commentary and I’m not taking this too much out of context. Dimitrov’s body language is showing the reality of these athlete’s contrasting pedigree as Roger has virtually stolen that critical first set. The comparison of the two (aka baby Fed) is almost adding to the pressure one sees in the Bulgarian’s demeanor as they begin the second set.

Gilbert: “The copy can never be as good as the original.”

What he clarifies for the audience, since this sounds pretty demeaning, is that the comparison has hurt Dimitrov throughout his career. Tough to disagree.

Roger playing with more confidence now, coming to net more. Dimitrov still showing some nice athleticism and shotmaking despite the pressure from Federer. On Dimitrov’s serve at 2-2 in the second, another DF, and then another. 15-40. Federer with a great ROS and Federer breaks.

At 30-30 and 2-4, Grigor DF again. Federer then secures the double break, serving for the set at 5-2.

Up 2 sets to nil, Federer looking really sharp from both sides. BH looking good, service games quick and dominate as Grigor looks more and more at a loss.

Roger secures another break early here in the third set, amongst nice ground strokes (the handsy FH I criticized as a shot that’s rushed and shallow is now a weapon that adds to the variety Dimitrov has to deal with). Roger is flying at this point. Then there’s the drop shot from the heavens  from the BL that lands about two feet over the net. Deflation.

Then. . . Dimitrov breaks back! With Roger serving at 4-3, with the break, Grigor puts together a little highlight reel. Find that game in the 3rd set if you missed it. Really great defense and finishing from Grigor. He’s back on serve.

This here at 4-4 is the stuff of Ljubičić, imho. I don’t want to take anything away from Roger Federer here since that makes zero sense. But this next move is 2017 Federer. Dimitrov is serving 4-4, he’s broken Federer’s almost flawless serve.

Dimitrov goes up 15-0.

Then Federer changes his racquet.

Even Gilbert says this is odd, which it is; a racquet change mid-game, no broken string, etc. Federer proceeds to find two BPs at 15-40, he converts the second and serves out the match.

That break back in HUGE. Mental. Stuff I would attribute to a Djoker or Rafa.

There are signs here of that unplayable Federer, the one of AO/IW/MI run, but he, of course, is far from done; this progression, which we first saw in Halle, slight improvement from round to round, his here again, ever so important as the stakes are raised, the opponents more dangerous.

I feel bad for Dimitrov. He has such a nice style, such a potent game when he’s confident and making his shots. No doubt, at 6′ 3″ he needs to improve his serve. This was a glaring issue in the match.

Much more efficient from Federer. Granted, he plays better when he’s up, more confident, etc. That’s where things would get hectic with the likes of Nadalovic. One thing we can agree on: 2017 Federer has been particularly strong in those critical moments of a match. This was clearly on display today v Grigor Dimitrov.

What a day.

Obviously, Djokovic v Mannarino has been pushed to tomorrow.

I have a bit more to say as I preview the QFs.

Look for another post (to close this round and look ahead) around 11:00 PST.

Cheers!

Preview of Final 16

From the top:

Murray, like Djokovic, has a banana cream pie draw to the SF. Not much to say about his next two matches other than we can include mention of the other side of that QF, that  Querrey revisiting some of his Acapulco gold could provide some drama; he should outlast the big S. African and give Murray’s (by God he should beat the ill-tempered Paire) ROS a run for its money.

Don’t want to completely overlook Murray here, but the Big 3 along with Cilic seem to have so much more to say about the SW19 learning outcomes. Good luck, Murray.

The other half of that first SF is where things get interesting. Nadal v Muller doesn’t have the marquee currency, but this should be competitive. Muller leads the tournament in 1aces, he’s coming off a very solid grass tune-up where he won in s-Hertogenbosch and reached the SF a week later at Queen’s Club, losing a tight three-setter to Cilic. He’s a grass specialist with a big serve and his experience should keep him focused on the point rather than Rafa’s muscly outfit.

Nadal has arguably been playing some of the best tennis throughout the tournament; his FH is berserk, his finish at the net is smart and efficient, and he seems very motivated. I said earlier, having been in the mountains for most of the first week, upon glancing at scores and seeing some highlights (and reading the stars/cosmos/etc) that I saw a Nadal v Djokovic final (if you know my views on the sport, you know there is some rather obvious hedging going-on here).

However, having seen a bit more court evidence, what does raise my proverbial eye-brow on the Mallorcan maniac is a possible inability to keep such a surge going. Granted, the two have vastly different styles and strengths, etc., but the effort and stress of Nadal’s win over Khachanov compared to Federer’s win over Zverev is worth noting. As I predicted in my preview, Nadal’s Muller/Cilic back-to-back (following Khachanov) is quite a sequence.

I watched the third set TB with Khachanov today and just getting into the TB was a massive chore for Nadal. He saved a SP (maybe 2). If Karen wins that third set, who knows what would have happened. Look at the scoreline: 61 64 76; Khachanov was starting to figure-out Rafa’s game. Reminded me of the clay season a bit and the Nadal/Thiem head-to-head; Thiem got closer and closer before finally eclipsing the clay GOAT in Rome.

Nadal has looked nasty out there, his FH and net play phenomenal; but can he keep playing in what appears to be a very high gear. I know that’s his style, all-out, ferocious tennis. But he looks to be really efforting and I only wonder if, especially given his draw, he can keep this going.

To be clear, if I’m betting I still might have him reaching the final; but tomorrow’s match along with how Cilic looks could really inform this view of that quarter.

Cilic is marching. Although RBA is a really solid player, he’s, I’m afraid, in the wrong place at the wrong time here.  We talked prior to the draw alarmingly about who gets Cilic – he’s a big dark cloud in the draw. Spain will get a good look at this Croatian’s search for that zone (likely has RBA and Nadal back-to-back), that rampant form we know that has devastated at least two big tennis tournaments (’14 USO and ’16 Cincy).

Indeed, Cilic is playing very well recently, even at RG where he made the QF. His run at Queen’s was splendid, the final with Feli Lopez a real classic, especially given how meaningful the win meant to the Spaniard. Cilic had MP in that final. He’s on the verge. Such a close call often pays dividends later, a latent peak, so to speak.

The top of the bottom half gives us a huge clash of big games in Raonic v Zverev the Younger, what may seem like a toss-up or an edge to last year’s WB runner-up.

I see the German winning this match though Raonic’s mammoth serve could certainly be too much for the precocious youngster. Raonic may be favored here, and a win from the Canadian would not surprise me nor anyone. But I see Sascha going toe-to-toe, making another significant step toward his constellation.

Federer v Dimitrov aka Darth Vader v Skywalker. I loved Grigor’s form early in the year. He was playing inspired all-court tennis, winning Brisbane (beating some big boys in the process) and we all recall his follow-up run in Melbourne culminating in the epic SF with Nadal.

But we have to give the nod to Federer here, even in routine fashion. Why do I say this, especially in light of my criticism earlier? There are signs of Federer and his coaches’ design. His match with the young Serbian Lajovic was interesting early, the Serb up 2-0 and serving in the first set. Federer looked unimpressive. That first set went to TB. Even steven. Federer took-off after that, but it was pedestrian as far as Federer is concerned.

Next was Zverev the Elder and we’ve talked pretty extensively about this affair. Not the most exceptional form, especially getting broken back in the first, serving 4-2, having to go to TB. But watch the third game of the second set, the boys tied 1-1, Zverev serving. That break will be a microcosm of Federer’s crusade if he hoists the trophy. The combination of ROS and his unmatched footwork and grass genius are on full display, pointing specifically to the two swinging volleys he took from practically the baseline, instead of letting the ball bounce. He’s poised if this is part of a progression that he and Ivan and Co. have in thought and design. We talked about this kind of progression at Halle.

I predict that tomorrow’s match will see a more urgent Federer, trying more consistently to execute a more efficient game plan that revolves, as all grass tennis revolves, around the serve and ROS. We need not look much further than these two grades of achievement. His serve and ROS have to become more dangerous, more deliberate.

I forget his UE count in the Lajovic match, but it wasn’t very clean. In his 3R match he finished with 61 winners to 7 UE. That kind of progress must continue for Federer.

Most are fairly beside themselves at the possibility of Federer winning #8 here this year. But we so easily have forgotten the greatest grass run of all time, from a guy named Sampras; were it not for the rampant Krajicek, Sampras would have won 8 in a row. That pretty much skunks La Decima. Eight WB in a row. Think about it and this includes the new slower balls and softer lawns post 1994.

Pete talks a lot in his book, as do others elsewhere, about the value on grass of the serve and the ROS. This is Federer’s cup o tea; drink-up, young Swiss lad. If you try to fuck around too much with the BH flick or the swinging volley from the toes, you are going to die. Serve your ass off, coupled with the Sampras-like suffocating volley attire that imposes dominance and surrender. Federer has to go to school on this feature of the grass. The more you look at the weapons of this guy, the more you see that he simply has to execute, intensify his focus on these few tasks at hand.

Pete’s greatest rival was Andre Agassi. He was 20-14 overall against Andre, 4-1 in grand slam finals. Andre was a brilliant tennis player, with one of the best ROS of all-time. But he couldn’t hang with that massive serve (first and second) and volley. Watch the 2002 USO final and the 2005 USO final. Some brilliant tennis, Andre hanging tough with two of the GOATs. With Roger in 2005 it was just an overall offensive and defensive display of tennis genius. With Pete, the genius was in spades, but some of that might be hiding under that humiliating serve (and volley). Pete’s game was so imposing. Too bad he burned-out. With a serve like that, underrated BH and unreal FH to boot, he could have won for years.

Do I digress?

Speaking of serves, Novak has been broken only once so far. Impressed? I guess, except he hasn’t played anyone.

Novak has to beat Mannarino at love, three bagels. The Frenchman just played a five-setter in which he came back from down 1-2 sets. He’s 51st in the world and he’s gassed.

But we don’t really know Novak’s form. I spoke of Novak finding his form and perhaps reaching the final because I’m a big narrative guy. Federer has to watch his step, has to get very very serious about his cleaner 2017 game that hasn’t given foes much chance or opportunity. Novak is a kind of Federer antithesis, has been slumping for a year, has to, according to the cycle of life, return home, a wiser individual. I sensed this in the early rounds, Agassi in attendance, Ancic in the house, etc.

But we will never really know Djokovic’s form until the SF (if he reaches it). That’s troubling. The Gulbis match was a good showing, but there were the errors of the slumping Serb to speak of, the stress of the third set, Gulbis still believing he could extend and challenge, down 0-2.

Look for an easy win from Djokovic tomorrow that doesn’t tell us much about his game, compared to the rest of the draw.

I skipped Thiem v Berdych and like I said earlier, this could be a very interesting match, partly because Novak gets the winner. Thiem we know has a ton of talent and desire to compete though grass doesn’t necessarily facilitate his attack. Having said that, he did win 2016 Stuttgart, beating Federer in the SF. His clay campaign only adds to his intrigue.

Berdych is Berdych though he has had some nice showings this year, mainly his QF match v Federer in Miami that saw the two need a third set decider that Federer won in a TB 8-6.

Thiem and Berdych probably play a wasteful five-set classic that only vanquishes any chance either has against Novak in the QF. All kidding aside, this should be a good tennis match with plenty on-the-line.

Enjoy the tennis, folks. Thanks for reading. I will be tennis-bound tomorrow. Can’t wait.

Stay-tuned.

Federer and Djokovic R3

I have to admit that I really only watched the matches today involving Federer and Djokovic. I will hopefully find the replay of Thiem and Dimitrov, in particular, later, among other highlights.

But Federer and Djokovic have the most interest here as they do probably anywhere else, other than the countries or fans of those other very relevant athletes toward whom I mean no disrespect.

To defend some of my commentary earlier, for instance skeptical of Federer: I am looking at the third set of a SF, BP and the tournament and even legacy on the line. I go to those high-stake moments, judging the tennis here-and-now on those pivotal moments down-the-line.

Back to today’s rounds and again no disrespect to those players not named Fedovic.

Admittedly, there may be no better development in the tournament than to have Dominic Thiem go berserk. The more one-hander power we have raking the lawns the betterer.  .  . 😉

Don’t forget Berdych’s little run in Miami; he had Federer in his sights.

804051778.0But let’s start with the Djokovic v Gulbis match. To start, Gulbis, as we know, is an under-acheiving talent. He’s had some decent results, winning six 250-level tournaments, finding a RG semi-final in 2014 where Novak outlasted him in four sets; essentially showing some real signs of a threatening serve, BH and a kind of unique quality that gave us tennis fans some hope that we had ourselves a bonafide tour regular.

This has not been the case with Gulbis. He’s essentially wasted any talent he’s had, known as a party-boy, heir to a family of diverse talent and success, perhaps fortune and fame. Whatever the case may be, Ernests has been an ATP bust.

But he found his way in the weakest section of the draw, got by Del Potro and found himself face-to-face with his old friend, Novak Djokovic. He and Novak were hitting partners back-in-the-day and the Latvian actually beat Novak in R1 of Brisbane in 2009. Talk about two players, then, going in opposite directions.

Novak took care of business today 64 61 76 (2) to advance to the second week where he’ll next face the Frenchman Adrian Mannarino; the alternative would have been Novak v Monfils, so it’s not quite as bad as it looks; actually, it’s worse than it looks!

Gulbis was up a break in the first at 4-3, serving, but fell-down and couldn’t get up. He soon found himself down a set and buried 1-6 in the second. However, he maintained a glimmer of belief and kept the third set tight and tense. This is somewhat significant, perhaps, as Novak, indeed, had a little trouble closing-out the hopeless, unseeded Latvian.

I mentioned that Gulbis is an “unprepared” opponent. Novak stumbled a bit despite the opportunities to really advance his game upon the unseeded journeyman. Novak’s ROS wasn’t very sharp, though Gulbis does threaten when his awkwardly flat serve hammers the chalk. Novak found himself on his heels a few times in today’s match. That may be all we need to take-away. He won in three, but, as I said, the Latvian maintained hope to the end, and with a win in that third set TB, who knows, as Djokovic, we can all acknowledge, is not out of his own woods quite yet.

Yet he survived and has a gift of a draw to support this recovery. To be fair, Gulbis is a challenge, but not the kind of test that Novak might need to fortify his craft for later encounters.

The match that followed Djokovic – Gulbis was Federer v. Mischa Zverev, which the Swiss won in straights 76 (3) 64 64. This wasn’t much of a match after the first set; and the first set should have been a much more decisive affair than says the scoreboard. Federer was serving 4-2, was broken and needed the TB to decide the opening frame.

The tennis during the TB and into the last two sets was master class grass tennis from the Maestro. Or it might better be called an effortless walk-in-the-park. In the southern California July heat, I had more perspiration sitting on my couch than did Federer. Seriously. I will take this as a very good sign for the Swiss seven-time champ.

More particularly, Federer was anything but brilliant during the first set. That he didn’t close-out the set was a bit worrisome. His ROS, BH in general and overall point construction seemingly lacked polish and execution. This is the kind of form that should worry anyone wanting to see Federer advance and win this tournament against much stronger competition. The ROS was especially bad. Such errant tennis will get him in all sorts of trouble, later.

The second set proved to be a much better case for Roger. Especially in the department of ROS. His early break in the second was leveraged on his brilliant ROS and other kinds of shot-making that brought back all kinds of classic Federer grass legend.

There was a bit of the same feel in this match that I sensed in the Halle final vs. Mischa’s younger brother. Did the opponent lack form and execution or did Federer impose his will on these two? Surely a bit of both.

In contrast to the straight-set Djokovic win, this one felt more like a suffocation, Zverev looking less involved as Federer grew more and more confident and brilliant with some of his exhibitionist shot-making (volleying, passing-shots, ROS, variety, etc.). He didn’t, literally, appear to break a sweat. That’s the biggest take-away: that he found the close-out against a decent grass opponent with this sort of ease. The match gave Federer some good looks at working his BH pass and other improvisations against a mobile and smart S&V veteran.

Djokovic struggled, on the other hand, imho, to close-out a challenging yet error-prone wild-card.

Of course, the next match will tell a different tale, perhaps.

Up-set alert: Mannarino in a five-set epic over Djokovic (you heard it here first). 😉

Federer gets Dimitrov, then Zverev the Younger or Raonic. Wow.

You Fedfans out there, I feel your confidence from today’s match. The TB and second and third sets were vintage. And I even got the sense (articulated by Utsav) that Federer might be holding-back a bit, or angling to play into final-four form. Today was a yawner, in the end, despite that break back in the first that kept the German alive and well. But the way he steadied the ship and really demoralized Zverev seemed as effortless as it was definitive.

But as I tweeted after a brilliant volley exchange in the first set that Federer won and had the crowd and announcers wet and wild: “That beautiful volley at 30-30 has zero significance in this tournament. He needs to choke his competition, not dazzle them. #Federer.”

I suspect Ljubičić and Co., are making this point, moving forward. Dimitrov,  Zverev/Raonic, and Djokovic will be more dangerous, more unforgiving. Again, I’m comparing the tennis I see in these earlier rounds to the fierce consequence of those deeper rounds.

Day+Two+Championships+Wimbledon+2017+QEAddK4_95qlTomorrow’s off day will see more from Mcshow Tennis with regards to some of the other final 16. The Thiem v Berdych match is a bit under-the-radar, but could foreshadow all kinds of meaning on the Serb’s run for glory.

Also, Nadal v Muller and Cilic v RBA are interesting matches though we tend to lean toward a last tune-up before the Cilic v Nadal must-watch. Imagine that.

Querrey v Anderson is a big serving of a big serve grass clash, and let’s not forget about Murray who certainly should advance.

2017 Wimbledon Commentary Catch-up

You’re supposed to say, “do you want some chips with that ‘catch-up’?”

Thanks for the comments while I was gone; no internet service where I was, which is pretty primitive at this point in time and it wasn’t like I was in the bush. As I went into town, I could see and publish comments but really didn’t have time to read much, comment, etc. But thanks again for keeping the boat afloat.

I tried to respond to each of those comments having returned today.

I have caught scores throughout the first week and have since watched some highlights (which really just add to a pretty strong spring/grass tune-up narrative already in play). Needless to say, I am excited to see tomorrow’s 3R matches which include Federer and Djokovic, among others.

What is clearly present in this year’s tournament is that we have some pretty palpable drama at the top – one could make an argument (if s/he has the wherewithal 😉 . . . for all four (Murray, Djokovic, Federer and Nadal). Then, of course, there’s the Cilic-type who might be pretty dangerous.

But what is most interesting (perhaps remarkable) is that we have a richly loaded draw, amounting to massive contests late that will inform legacy and determine what could be a pretty epic final.

Murray appears to be returning somewhat, has a favorable draw and should go deep here (I am pulling for Querrey to make any sense of the other side of that QF). Pouille and Wawrinka, especially Stan, can go fetch me a pint. What the hell.

Murray is the defending champ and hometown boy, so he could be riding pretty high marching into a SF with . . .

Nadal. I saw the guy play and his FH is arguably the best in the tourney. The argument that one’s clay form can’t translate to grass is getting murdered by the bull. A big serve and bigger weapons are what it will take to keep him at bay. If he can come into the court  and run-around to the FH, he’s going to be very tough to finish (the BH is decisive, as well, as we know). He’s hungry as ever, he’s quite good at the net. . . the tennis intelligence works with this one, folks.

Nadal looks dangerous though he does have a dangerous draw, which I just addressed with a reader in the previous post. We suspect he’ll handle the lefty from Luxembourg, but Gilles is no grass slouch. That match follows a banger with Cilic. Cilic is angry and hungry and big. Nadal hasn’t an easy route.

A Murray SF could be anti-climactic if Nadal survives his next two matches, especially if the QF is Cilic.

The Federer Djokovic situation needs clarification with some viewership on my part, but I suspect Djokovic is going to be very tough in that SF. I received word from London this Day-Two-The-Championships-Wimbledon-2017evening that his next few matches have been waved so the Serb is awaiting his Swiss pal in the SF. Kidding aside, Novak looks confident. His groundstrokes look “back” from where ever they went and he’s coming to net, hitting lines, etc.

On the coaching front, he’s pretty dialed-in, too. Andre and Mario Ančić are captaining the Serb’s Wimbledon campaign. Andre’s confidence is quite interesting, calm and reassuring, which speaks volumes if the Serb is actually in the process of a peak for his showdown with Federer.

Federer, from the little I saw of his Lajović match, looks handsy with his FH (never a good sign). I need to see the BH (as does everyone) forcing the issue here to supplement the serve, net and FH. Running around the BH and trying to ping-pong the FH will not get the Maestro #8.

I wasn’t overly impressed with his tune-up, either: Halle seemed more of a Sascha dip, but Federer did take advantage, which is all one can ask. He did shut-down that final’s hype, but we do know the German gets another crack, most likely, in the WB QF.

First, however, Fed has to beat M.Zverev, Grigor and then Sascha, so long as the Younger survives Raonic or RBV. Tough draw for Federer.

A match-up with Djokovic could be incredible, but Roger had better have that AO/IW/Miami ambidexterity brilliance on display. Djokovic’s ROS and mental toughness, especially with the timing of a return and his coaching think-tank supporting this run could be a beast of an opponent.

There is no way I easily pencil Federer into the winner’s circle just yet. Seems terribly ill-advised aka fool-hardy to overlook his company here at The Championships.

Tomorrow will tell us more.

Seems way premature (and to be honest I hope I am wrong) but I see a Nadal v Djokovic final.

Remember, this is not a fanblog. I eat fanblogs.

Cheers.