This is my tennis blog, Lefty Advantage. Tennis is my biggest passion in life and I started this site to discuss the great game. I mainly follow the career of Roger Federer, but I truly love watching all tennis, whether it be the final of a Grand Slam
or a junior tournament on the other side of the world.

I have played tennis for 13 years. If you ever met me, I could talk your head off about all things tennis for hours on end if you would let me. Welcome, and enjoy the writing!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Federer into US Open 3rd Round

It was a vintage performance by Roger Federer in the 2nd round of the US Open, as he easily dismantled Bjorn Phau 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in 90 minutes.  As with his first round match, Roger was never in trouble, although he played much better against Phau.  Although it was one-sided, Bjorn hit a number of excellent shots, showcasing his shot-making ability.

Since Monday, Federer's first match, there has been a lot going on at the final tournament of the year, including two retirements.  Kim Clijsters played her final singles match against Laura Robson on Wednesday when she lost in straight sets, and Andy Roddick announced he would be retiring after the US Open, leaving many stunned.

But first, just a quick recap of the tennis that has been played in the past few days:

Federer was ultra-aggressive against Phau, and the numbers clearly indicate that.  He hit 44 winners to 18 unforced errors, and was 32/47 at the net.  That means he got to net 47 times in 25 games played, which means he made an asserted effort to be aggressive.  Good signs.  He also served very well, getting 68% of his first serves in, and firing 15 aces to only one double fault.

Next up, Roger faces Fernando Verdasco.  It should be a straight sets win even though the Spaniard is a talented player.  He just came off a long match where he defeated Albert Ramos, and that could affect him.  Either way, the head-to-head is 4-0 Federer, and Verdasco has only taken one set.

Novak Djokovic plays his 2nd round match today, but Andy Murray is already through to the 3rd round.  In the biggest upset of the tournament so far, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost in 4 sets to Slovakian player Marin Klizan.  It looks like Milos Raonic might be the only one to stop Murray before the semis now, although James Blake is in Milos' way, and he played a firecracker of a match to take out Marcel Granollers in straight sets in the 2nd round.

Mardy Fish overcame a two set deficit to beat Nikolay Davydenko.  It's a great win for Mardy, but now he goes up against Gilles Simon, although the Frenchman has played 9 sets in two matches.  Whoever wins could be there for the taking against Federer in the 4th round.  Another guy that has played a lot of tennis is Marin Cilic, who has needed 10 sets to get through his first two matches.  He plays Kei Nishikori next, who looks like he'll be Andy Murray's quarterfinal opponent.

Young American Jack Sock continued a great run at this tournament by making the 3rd round, where he'll face Nicolas Almagro.  Under normal circumstances, Almagro would be the easy favourite but he just came off a tough 5-set win and Sock is playing some great tennis at the moment, so you never know.

Now onto the emotional part of the week....

Kim Clijsters retiring is very sad.  She was such a great player and was an even better person.  It is rare that we see sportsmen and women like her, and I think tennis was privileged to have her around for as long as he was.  She was respected by all and a crowd favourite where she went, and her presence on the women's tour will be sorely missed.

Andy Roddick's announcement that he was going to retire came as a bit of a shock, but not that much to me.  I remember him saying a few years ago that when he was unable to give his very best, he would leave the game, so as to not disrespect it.  He said pretty much the same thing in his press conference, and that is really what Andy is all about.  He gave tennis everything he had, and he was a competitor through and through.  Even in the roughest moments, he would always look on the bright side.

Even though he was controversial at times with his treatment of chair umpires, he was never boring to watch.  His serve at one time was the biggest weapon in the game, and he stayed in the top 10 for nine consecutive years, which showed his underrated consistency and quality to play well year in and year out.

On the tour, Andy will be missed by players and fans alike, although umpires and linesmen may have an easier time of things.  One thing is for sure though, and that is that A-Rod was always honest with himself and the media, and he always sacrificed everything he had on court each and every time he played.  Young players can learn from that kind of work ethic.

On day five, the bottom half of the men's draw all play their 2nd round matches.  On court will be Novak Djokovic, John Isner, David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro, Janko Tipsarevic, and of course, Andy Roddick, who plays in the night session against Bernard Tomic.  I sincerely hope it's not Andy's final match, but I can see him coming out on fire and playing some very inspirational tennis with the New York crowd behind him.

Thanks Andy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Federer Eases By Young

The final Grand Slam of 2012 got underway on Monday, and after a 2-hour rain delay, play resumed just as usual.  Roger Federer, back as the #1 seed for the first time since the French Open in 2010, took out Donald Young 63 62 64 in a simple, straightforward match.  Meanwhile, Andy Murray advanced to the 2nd round, but in unconvincing fashion.

Federer and Young had never met before, and the conditions were windy yet humid, as they had been all day.  Young held his own for the first few games until his luck ran out and he was broken, which led to the set being won by Roger quickly, taking the final eight points.

The second set was more of the same.  Roger was never under any pressure, though he did get broken, for the first time in his past six matches.  Once that happened though, early in the set, it was cruise control from there.  Young kept trying his best in the third set but Roger got the early break and put his foot down from there, closing things out in fine form.

In my opinion, Young played about as well as he could have.  He did well in the first and third sets, but in the end, he never really had much to hurt Fed with.  He tried going to his backhand, but unlike Rafa Nadal, Young doesn't have that same kick to give that side any headaches.  Overall, Roger was probably playing in 2nd or 3rd gear, as he didn't need to raise his level of play the entire match.  He also looked a little frustrated at times, perhaps with the wind.

Roger is now 22-0 in US Open night matches.  In the 2nd round, he plays German Bjorn Phau.

Andy Murray swept by Alex Bogomolov Jr. 62 64 61, but it was a pretty scrappy match, and not a smooth ride despite the scoreline.  Andy got down a break twice in the opening set before winning 5 straight games to win it, and then got down a break immediately in the second.  His form will need to be much better if he wants to get to the semis.

Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful day on the men's side.  Mardy Fish and James Blake advanced (nice to see Blake win), while Jack Sock took out Florian Mayer, the #22 seed, in straight sets (Mayer retired midway through the 3rd).  Marin Cilic avoided upset by coming back from two sets down to defeat Marinko Matosevic, and Gilles Simon came back from two sets to one down to take out Michael Russell.

On the women's side, the only real upsets were the two big-hitting Germans Julia Georges and Sabine Lisicki exiting the tournament.

Kim Clijsters, who is playing in her final tournament ever, easily defeated the youngest player in the draw, 16 year-old Victoria Duval.  It would be very nice to see Kim go out with her fourth US Open title, but she could face Li Na in the 3rd round.  Li has been in amazing form recently, making the final in Montreal and winning Cincinnati.

(Goodness, you know it was a quiet day on the men's side when I'm talking this much about the women.)

Day 2 features Novak Djokovic, Serena and Venus Williams, and Andy Roddick.

Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 US Open Preview

The draw for the 2012 US Open was released on Thursday to much anticipation.  Roger Federer goes in as the #1 seed and Novak Djokovic as the #2 seed, so if they are to play at this tournament for the sixth consecutive year, it will need to be in the final.  Andy Murray was drawn into Federer's half, while the 4th seed, David Ferrer, was drawn into Djokovic's half.

The draw:


Federer's Quarter:

The Great Swiss starts his bid for a 6th US Open title against American Donald Young.  The two have never met, but it should be a rather simple opening match for Roger provided he is on his game.  In the second round he'll take on Bjorn Phau or a qualifier, which should be another smooth match.  The third round is where it gets potentially tricky, with a possible match against Fernando Verdasco.

In the 4th round, either Gilles Simon or Mardy Fish await.  Both would be tough, but Fish more so considering his good hard court form as of late.  In the quarters, the highest seed he could meet is Tomas Berdych, but the Czech big man has struggled since Roland Garros, so he may not even make the quarters.  Nicolas Almagro is also a potential quarterfinal opponent.

Murray's Quarter:

Andy starts his campaign for Major #1 against Alex Bogomolov Jr.  Bogomolov has a win over Andy, from Miami last year, but in general, the Scot should have no trouble getting by.  In the second round he'll take on a qualifier or Ivan Dodig.

The third round is where Andy could hit a speed bump; he'll face one of Feliciano Lopez, Thomaz Bellucci, Pablo Andujar, or Robin Haase.  Haase, if you remember, took Andy to 5 sets last year at the US Open (Andy had to come back from two sets down).  In the 4th round, a clash with Milos Raonic is on the cards, and the Canadian already has a win over Andy this year, albeit on clay.  In the quarters,  the likeliest opponent is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  However, watch out for Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic.

Ferrer's Quarter:

David Ferrer is the top seed in this quarter, but really, there are a number of guys who could come through.  Ferrer has a tough opener with Kevin Anderson, but if he gets by that, he should at least be able to make it to the Round of 16.  The dark horse in this quarter is John Isner, who has a good draw to get through to the quarters.  Also watch out for Richard Gasquet, who made the final in Toronto a few weeks ago.

Djokovic's Quarter:

The #2 ranked Serb has by far the easiest draw.  In the first round he takes on Paolo Lorenzi, and in the second round he'll play Rogerio Dutra Silva (who?) or a qualifier.  I'd be shocked if Novak loses 10 games combined in those two matches.  In the 3rd round, it could get a little trickier with a potential match against Julien Benneteau, but that's doubtful (that it could be trickier, I mean).

The 4th round is where it gets a little interesting, with Stan Wawrinka, Marcos Baghdatis, or Alexandr Dolgopolov there as likely opponents.  Wawrinka is coming off a great week in Cincinnati, and theoretically could do some damage with his big serve and groundstrokes.  In the quarters, the highest seed is Juan Martin del Potro, who has struggled with a wrist injury the past few weeks, but will hopefully be ready to go.

My Thoughts:

Is Federer's draw tricky overall, or will it only get difficult if he meets Andy Murray in the semifinals?  If Roger plays the way he's capable of playing, I can't see him losing a set in his first three matches.  In the Round of 16, he could be tested by Simon or Fish, but they will have to go through each other first before they meet Fed.  The same thing happened last year with Fish and Tsonga, where Jo prevailed in 5 sets and then got demolished by Fed in the quarters.

The only two guys that have beaten Roger since 2004, Djokovic and del Potro, are in the other half.  With the great confidence and aggression he's playing with these days, I truly cannot see anyone beat Roger before the final.  In fact, I think it's pretty much between Fed and Djokovic at this point.

Andy Murray will probably pose the biggest threat to Federer's chances at making the final, assuming he even makes the semis.  He lost to Marin Cilic in 2009 and Wawrinka in 2010, and last year he went down two sets to Haase before coming back.  He could have a very tough road to the semis with tough matches in the 3rd, 4th, and quarterfinal rounds.  He looked pretty bad against Jeremy Chardy in Cincinnati, and he'll need to be sharp in all facets of his game if he wants to have any chance of beating Roger.

If I had to guess the quarters, they would be Federer/Almagro, Murray/Tsonga, Isner/Ferrer, and Djokovic/del Potro.  Though Tsonga and Delpo have had their injury woes lately, I believe they'll come back strong and go deep into the tournament.

It should be a fun tournament.  With the way Federer is playing right now, I really can't see anyone stopping him until the final, and it would be fitting if he gets another chance to beat Djokovic after the losses he suffered the past two years to his rival.  I say Fed picks up #18 in a 5-set win over Nole.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Federer Wins 5th Cincinnati Title

Roger Federer defeated Novak Djokovic 6-0, 7-6(7) in an hour and twenty minutes to claim his 5th title in Cincinnati, a record.  It was his 21st Masters trophy, and 76th title overall.  The match between Federer and Djokovic marked the first time in tournament history that the #1 and #2 players in the world played in the final.

The first set was as one-sided as a set between these two can be.  Federer broke in the very first game and didn't look back from there.  It was the first bagel set in the history between Roger and Novak, and this was their 28th meeting, remember.

Federer wasn't really doing anything truly extraordinary, but he was just very solid.  Djokovic was off his game, and double faulted quite a lot.  Roger really had no trouble on serve, and he was dominating the baseline rallies.  Djokovic's return was certainly not as sharp as it usually is, but to be fair, Roger's serve was hitting the lines nearly every time.

The second set was more like the match we expect to see between the #1 and #2 players in the world.  Novak started playing much better, and he started firing on his groundstrokes.  He started the set on serve, so Roger had to be very sharp as to not let the set get away, and he was.  A few times the Serb was in Roger's service games but Fed never gave him a chance to break (he didn't face a break point the entire match).

In the tiebreak, Roger took a 3-0 lead before Novak stormed back.  The Serb got the mini-break at 4-3 but handed it right back.  Roger had a match point at 6-5 but Nole fended it off well, and Roger returned the favour by saving set point at 7-6.  On his second match point at 8-7, Fed got a short forehand to hit and put it away to claim his 6th title of the season.

It was a vintage Federer performance from beginning to end.  Here are some of the numbers:  28 winners, 18 unforced errors, 8 aces, 11/14 at net, 82% first serves won and 69% of 2nd serves won.  He only served at 59% for the match, but when he did get the first serve in, it was nearly impossible for Djokovic to return successfully.  That is saying something, since Novak is the best returner in the game.  Even the 2nd serves were immaculate from Roger, putting them deep in the box or in the corners.

So, what do we know about this week in Cincinnati?  Well, Roger confirmed his place as #1 in the world.  He didn't drop a set all week, and didn't even drop serve.  In fact, he became the first player to win a Masters tournament without being broken!

In ATP Tour events (excluding Olympics), Roger is on a 12-match winning streak and has won 13 straight sets, dating back to the first set he lost to Murray in the Wimbledon final.

Since Fed's loss to Djokovic at the US Open last year, he is 73-7 with 9 titles, 4 of those being Masters 1000s and one being a Slam.  This past year has been incredible for Roger, and I, along with all of the millions of Fedfans in the world, could not be happier.  At 31, the great man continues to put his name into the record books, and as of right now, it certainly doesn't look as if he will stop any time soon.

The US Open is up next, and Fed certainly has to be the co-favourite if not the favourite.  I can't see anyone stopping him if he looks anywhere near as good as he did this week in Cincinnati.  He looks absolutely amazing, and dare I say, he might be playing as well right now as he was in his prime (2005 and 2006).  That is a serious statement, as the tennis he has played this year has been just, well, no adjective can really describe it.  Considering he's 31 and has been at the top of the game now for close to a decade, this stuff just isn't supposed to happen!

Thanks Fed.

PS:  This tweet has been retweeted over 50 times, which is way more than any tweet of mine has ever been RT'd.  So for me personally, I am quite happy.

 Rejoice Fed fans!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Federer Reaches Cincinnati Final

Roger Federer overcame a stern test from his friend and fellow countryman Stan Wawrinka, beating him 7-6(4), 6-3 in a tough semifinal showdown.  The win puts Roger into his 107th Tour final, where he will look to capture his 76th title and 21st Masters.

Right from the start of the match, it appeared that Stan was going to be a difficult opponent.  He was serving brilliantly, blasting down his big serve when the time called for it.  He was also clutch on the important points, and it was very refreshing to see how mentally tough he was.

Neither man could break the other's serve, although Roger had a few chances.  So, it inevitably went to a tiebreak, where Fed held a 4-2 advantage on the changeover.  The breaker went almost exactly like it did with Fish, and Roger closed it out seven points to four.  In the second set, it was more of the same, with Roger getting a few chances to break, but every time Stan replied with great play.  They were even until 3-3 when Roger raised his game a level and broke twice to close things out in fine style.

On the surface, Federer didn't play as well as he did in his first three matches, but on the other hand, he was playing a very strong Stan Wawrinka, and Roger actually did quite well to stay patient and not get frustrated by the way his compatriot was shutting him down at every opportunity.  The serve was off (around 50% first serves), but the rest of his game was very much there - the forehands, backhands, net game (18/20), and movement were all smoothly functioning, and they certainly needed to be.

For Stan, this was a superb week.  He showed the kind of mental fortitude he can display and in this match with Roger, it was some of the best tennis he's ever played.  He had big serves, strong groundstrokes, and, for the first time that I've seen, a complete willingness to attack the net, which paid dividends for him.

Roger's opponent in the final will be none other than Novak Djokovic, who soundly defeated Juan Martin del Potro 6-2, 6-3.  I did not any of the match, but if the scoreline is any indication, it was pretty straightforward.

Since Roger is in the final, he can't lose the #1 ranking until at least after the US Open.  However, he has been very focused this week, and as with Novak, he'll want to grab as much momentum as possible heading into the US Open.  That's why the match should be very good, as nearly every match between these two is.

If Fed is going to take out Novak, he will need to serve better, and he will need to convert on his chances.  He only took 2/10 break points against Stan.  On the plus side, he has been very sharp all week from the baseline, and if his backhand holds up as it has in the previous four matches, he should be in good hands.  It's interesting to note that neither Fed nor Djokovic have been broken this week, but knowing the history of their matches, I doubt one (or either) will go the entire match not getting broken, even if it is a straights sets win.

So, there is one match left to be played and it will be the #1 and #2 players in the world battle it out.  It will be their first meeting on a hard court since their epic US Open semifinal last year (the one that kickstarted Fed's great end to 2011).  They have played once before in Cincinnati, in the final in 2009, which Roger won.

Should be a great match.

Cheers, Kyle

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sharp Federer into Semifinals

Roger Federer put together a masterclass performance to defeat Mardy fish 6-3, 7-6(4) to advance to the semifinals of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.  The Fed is looking to become the first player to win the tournament five times.

Without going into too much detail about the match, Roger played incredibly well from start to finish.  In the first set he was very sharp while Fish struggled to put a first serve in play (only 43%).  Fed broke once at the start of the match and then once in the final game of the set to take complete control.

In the second, Fish started serving and playing much better, and he even got to 0-30 on a couple of Roger's service games.  But as we have seen so often, Roger was clutch on the important points and never let the American see a break point.  Fittingly, the set went to a tiebreak, where Roger got the mini-break at 3-2 and did not look back from there, taking it seven points to four.

It was a really great win for Roger because Fish was playing about as well as he could play in the second set.  Fed has looked very sharp this week in his three wins and I only hope that he will gain confidence from his play and use it towards winning this title and the US Open.

Novak Djokovic easily defeated Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-2.  The Croat has only ever taken one set off Novak in seven meetings.  Juan Martin del Potro advanced to his first semifinal at Cincinnati with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Jeremy Chardy.  Delpo played much better than he did in his previous round where he needed three sets to beat Viktor Troicki.

In what may be the surprise of the week (other than Jeremy Chardy), Stan Wawrinka made his first Masters semifinal in over three years when he took out Milos Raonic. 26, 7-6(5), 6-4.  Stan was down 2-4 in the tiebreak but came back to win it and then took the third after breaking midway through and holding from there.

It's good to see Stan playing well this week.  He'll be in tough against Roger, but Stan is a guy with loads of talent and if he can start to put together weeks like this more frequently, he could make a serious move up the rankings.

So the semis are set:  Federer vs Wawrinka and Djokovic vs del Potro.  Djokovic will be looking to get revenge on Delpo for the loss at the Olympics, and Stan will need to play his very best if he even wants a chance at beating Roger, with the way the Fed is playing right now.  I know Roger is certainly relieved that Stan took out Milos as the Canadian has given him a tough match in all three of their encounters this year.

Both matches should be very enjoyable to watch as all four men have played well this week.

PS:  I got my name mentioned on TV during the Federer/Fish match!  Robbie Koenig (@RobKoenigTennis on Twitter) sent out his usual question and I answered it, and they mentioned me as one of those who replied.  It was really cool when I heard it!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Federer Eases Into Cincy Quarters

Roger Federer booked his place in the quarterfinals with a smooth 6-2, 6-4 win over young teenager Bernard Tomic.  Elsewhere, Andy Murray was upset by Jeremy Chardy, and Novak Djokovic did not lose a game in the first set against Nikolay Davydenko before the Russian retired.

Right from the start, Roger was never in trouble against Tomic.  The Aussie is just one of those guys that will not put in the effort to really compete point in and point out like the best players in the world do.  Perhaps he just needs to mature - and he better, because he plays in a very lethargic way that seems like he doesn't even care whether he wins or loses.

The first two matches for Fed have been a dream.  Coming off the heavy Wimbledon/Olympics double, he got some needed rest during Toronto and now has won his first two matches in two hours.  It's the perfect setup for the rest of the week.

He will play Mardy Fish, a rematch of the 2010 final, in the quarterfinals.  Mardy has been in good form lately and took out Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-3.  The final between Fed and Fish two years ago was a very tight 3-set encounter but if Roger is on his game I see him winning in a tight straight sets affair.

Andy Murray lost in disappointing fashion to Frenchman lucky loser Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-4.  After his gold medal triumph in London, Andy has only two wins in the North American summer lead-up to the US Open.  Losing in straight sets to a guy like Chardy must be a killer blow for his confidence, especially after his great results at Wimbledon in July.

Novak Djokovic didn't even need to finish his match as Davydenko retired after getting blasted in a 6-0 opening set.  Juan Martin del Potro took out Viktor Troicki in three sets, while Milos Raonic defeated Tomas Berdych.  Raonic will have a great chance to make it to the semis when he plays Stan Wawrinka, who beat Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, although Stan has played two great matches in a row and he is a stout opponent.

So the quarterfinals see Federer vs Fish, Djokovic vs Cilic, del Potro vs Chardy, and Wawrinka vs Raonic.  Federer looks good to get through Fish (although don't underestimate Mardy), but Delpo vs Chardy and Wawrinka vs Raonic will be close.  Djokovic should have no trouble with Cilic.

As for Roger, he would surely like to play Stan more than Raonic because Milos has challenged him three times this year, and on the quick courts of Cincinnati, it would be another nail-biter.

Until next time....

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Federer Cruises in Cincinnati Opener

Roger Federer picked up his 52nd win of the 2012 tennis season, as he soundly defeated Alex Bogomolov Jr. of Russia 6-3,6-2 win.  It was a near perfect start to his week in Cincinnati, where he will be looking to pick up his 21st Masters title and 76th overall.

Roger took the first set 6-3, and it was pretty routine.  He wasn't his usual dominant self from the baseline (11 unforced errors), but his serve was elite and that's what won him the set.  He even had a 57-second love hold, something that is so special and unique about watching Federer play.

The Great Swiss broke at the start of the second set and didn't look back from there, getting the double break and winning the second set even more comfortably than he did the first.  He looked sharper from the ground and implemented his all-around attacking brilliance.  He picked up the win in an hour, which is a great time to be on court after a week break (so as to reserve energy for the rest of the week).

Overall, it was a very solid match from The Fed, considering it was his first one on the hard courts since the end of March.  He next faces Bernard Tomic and if he plays his solid game, the Aussie young gun should stand very little chance.

Novak Djokovic won his opening round match against Andreas Seppi 7-6(4), 6-2.  It was a close first set with neither man breaking, but the Serb prevailed in the tiebreak with basically one point making all the difference.  After that, Seppi was finished and Novak closed it out 6-2 in the 2nd set.  He'll take on Nikolay Davydenko next.  Andy Murray beat Sam Querrey 6-2, 6-4 in a routine victory.  He'll face Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the 3rd round.

Djokovic's countryman Janko Tipsarevic, the 7th seed, retired against Pablo Andujar after being down a set and two breaks.  In somewhat of a surprise, David Ferrer lost to Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-1.  Ferrer didn't play in Toronto and he'll be disappointed with his lead-up to the US Open. 

Mardy Fish advanced to the 3rd round after a fine win over veteran Carlos Berlocq.  He'll take on Radek Stepanek next, who surprisingly defeated Juan Monaco, the #8 seed, 7-6(2), 6-1.  (That is two straight weeks where Radek has beaten a top 10 player, impressive.)

Juan Martin del Potro soundly defeated the rejuvenated Tommy Haas 7-5, 6-2.  Good win for Delpo after the disappointment that was Toronto, but it must be noted that Haas was on court for nearly three and a half hours in his 1st round win over Nalbandian.  Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic,Viktor Troicki, and Marin Cilic also advanced to the 3rd round.

Not directly relating to Cincinnati, but Rafael Nadal announced that he has withdrawn from the US Open with the knee injury that has kept him out of action since his shocking 2nd round loss to Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon.

I will speak more about the withdrawal after Cincinnati ends, but for now I will say that even though Rafa is one of my least favourite players for a variety of reasons, his presence will be missed in New York.  I hope he can get healthy soon, although I doubt that he will ever be the same player again.  Heck, this summer has felt pretty strange without him there, and his withdrawal from the US Open will leave a huge hole there, and a big opportunity for players ranked 5-10 to step up and make a name for themselves.

Until tomorrow, chow.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cincinnati Preview

The Cincinnati Masters is already underway, the second of the two major US Open preparation tournaments.  Roger Federer will be playing his first match on hard court since his Miami defeat to Andy Roddick back at the end of March.

Overall, it has been a successful season on the hard court so far for Roger, going 23-2 with 3 titles.  The rest of the season will be played on it, and after skipping Toronto to rest, he will look to come back strong and defend his place as #1 in the world, starting this week.

Let's look at the draw:

Federer's Quarter:

Fed starts his campaign for a 5th Cincinnati title by going up against Alex Bogomolov of Russia.  That should be straightforward for the Swiss, but it may take him a set to get his legs underneath him and adjusted for play on hard court.

In the 3rd round, he'll have a rematch of the Australian Open 4th round from earlier this year, where he gave Bernard Tomic a lesson. (It should be a fun match.)  In the quarterfinals, he will probably face Juan Monaco or Mardy Fish.  Mardy lost to Roger in the 2010 Cincinnati final, but it was a very close match.  The highest seed in his half David Ferrer.  The other is Tomas Berdych, but he has been in poor form since the French Open, and it may be doubtful that he makes it that far.  It's likely that we see a Federer vs Ferrer semi.

Djokovic's Quarter:

The Serb is riding a 5-match winning streak after losing three times since Wimbledon.  He won the Toronto title with relative ease and he'll look to keep riding that wave.  But he may also be tired after the Toronto week, which was interrupted by rain time and time again.

His opening round opponent is Andreas Seppi, who went up two sets to zero on Novak in the 4th round of Roland Garros.  In the 3rd round, Davydenko or Mayer awaits (I think he would rather see Davydenko).  In the quarters, it will likely be either Janko Tipsarevic, who lost to Nole in Toronto last week, or Marin Cilic, the #12 seed.  And in the semis, barring an upset, there is a meeting lined up with Andy Murray.

Murray's Quarter:

Andy comes off an emotional month of July, where he made the Wimbledon final and then won Olympic gold at home in London.  He withdrew from Toronto, so we shall all keep an eye on his well-being throughout this tournament.

His opening round features a match with Sam Querrey.  His next match would be against Jeremy Chardy or Denis Istomin, both dangerous power hitters on the fast Cincinnati hard courts.  In the quarters, the highest seed is Juan Martin del Potro, but Delpo will have to go through the in-form Tommy Haas and Hewitt/Troicki to make it there.

Ferrer's Quarter:

Ferrer has a tough opening round match against Stan Wawrinka.  Should he get by that one, he'll take on either James Blake or Kei Nishikori, and after that, a quarterfinal clash against Berdych, unless, as I mentioned previously, Berdych crashes out early.  It wouldn't surprise me. 

It is very likely that we see the top four seeds make the semis, and quite frankly, I'll be shocked if Federer doesn't make the final.  His draw is that good, and as long as he stays focused, he should be fine.  Djokovic shouldn't have that much trouble either unless he is fatigued from the long week in Toronto.

Speaking of Toronto, it was a rough week for not only the players, but the tournament as well.  Federer, Nadal, and Ferrer weren't playing.  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Delpo went out in the 2nd round (and Tsonga is missing Cincinnati thanks to a freak knee injury), and Murray withdrew after his opening round win.

Djokovic had a pretty routine (albeit tough) week, with having to fight time difference, jet-lag, and surface change in the span of four days.  It was a title that he needed to win, defending 1000 points, and he did what he had to do.  After struggling since his French Open loss to Nadal, getting back on his favourite surface is exactly what he needed.

By the way, Gasquet was a huge disappointment in that final.  He was doing well at the beginning but as soon as he got broken the wheels just fell off.  He stands so far back behind the baseline in general, but in that match it was like he thought he was playing on clay.  He was already going to struggle to beat Djokovic even on his best day, so why make it harder for yourself by backing up and letting Djokovic's consistent, attacking ball-striking shred you to pieces.

Gasquet has so much talent, but he really has no brains out there sometimes.

Any-who, here's hoping for a great week in Cincinnati!  There are only two top players missing this time around (Nadal and Tsonga), but there should be some amazing tennis.  The courts there are quick and they favour Federer's game, so I'm taking him to win the title over Djokovic in three tough sets.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Thank You London 2012!

I know this is a tennis blog, but as the London Olympic Games just came to a close, I feel it's fitting to write about them.  We saw many great moments and I want to pay tribute to London.  So here it is, my piece on the Games!


The Games of the 30th Olympiad in London, England were, by all standards, an incredible fortnight of competition, heart, determination, courage, strength, heartbreak, and sacrifice.  This has been the 3rd Olympic Games that I have really followed seriously, and just as the other two were (Beijing 2008 and Vancouver 2010), these Games hold a special place in my heart.

What did we witness in these Games?  Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian in history, and Usain Bolt defended the 100m, 200m, and 4x100 relay track events, the first man to do so.  American swimmer Missy Franklin won four golds and one bronze, and at 17 years of age, this is only the beginning of her stellar career.

For the home British, or "Team GB" as they became known, it was a remarkable two weeks.  As a Canadian, I completely understand what the nation went through, as I and the entire country of Canada rejoiced in our country's success during the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, where Canada did incredibly well.

Among the successful Brits were Andy Murray, who captured gold in emphatic fashion.  The day before, Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah won golds in their respective competitions, the heptathlon and 10,000m race.  Farah also won the 5000m race.  Tom Daley, at 18 years old, won the bronze in the 10m diving individual platform, a year after his father passed away.  Those four athletes were only a small part of the great success for Great Britain - they won 65 total medals and 29 golds, good for a rank of third in gold medals and 4th overall.

Perhaps more important than the successes of the athletes were what these particular Games meant to the future of the Olympics from a cultural perspective.  Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei were represented by female athletes for the very first time, and for the first time ever, women's boxing became an event.  That means that it was the first time ever that every country and every sport included female athletes.  That is a remarkable achievement, especially when talking about the advances in culture in some of those Middle Eastern countries.

And the significance of these Games cannot be stated without mentioning Oscar Pistorius, the South African double-amputee who competed in the men's 400m race.  He had to fight for his place in the Olympics (he will be competing in the Paralympics), and his story will be an inspiration for every disabled athlete striving to the best, in sport or otherwise.

My home, Canada, did pretty well at the Games, capturing 18 medals, but only 1 gold.  However, the Winter Games are the country's bread and butter, and we won many medals in events that we didn't think we could even get on the podium for.

Arguably the most special medal won for Canada was the bronze in women's soccer (football).  After a controversial loss to the Americans in the semifinals, the women stormed back strongly and showed tremendous resiliency and heart to win Canada's first medal in a team sport since 1936.  Christine Sinclair, Canada's star forward, was the flag bearer for the closing ceremony.

Overall, these were the the Games of Great Britain, as they should have been.  The nation rallied around their athletes and they responded by putting together their best overall performance at the Games in over 100 years, since the London Olympics in 1908.

These London Olympics were very special.  The opening and closing ceremonies were remarkable, and everything in between brought out the best of the Olympic spirit (except for that badminton controversy).  It is so wonderful that once every four years the world can come together and rejoice as one - forgetting about all the troubles of the time - and just appreciate the hard work, sacrifice, emotion, triumph, and motivation that is showcased by the thousands of athletes that gave their all in front of the masses.

It is a shame that they are only once every four years (the bigger Summer games) because that feeling of closeness to all of the athletes through your television screen is a unique experience.  We feel their pain, their joy, and all other emotions that make up an athlete's journey.  Remember, four years of sacrifice can sometimes come down to a few seconds.

The next Summer Games are in Rio de Janeiro, and hopefully they will put on an event as good as London did.  For two weeks, the world watched, and London delivered spectacularly.  Thanks to all the athletes and volunteers that dedicated their time so passionately.  It seems as if this is said after every Olympic Games, but in this case, it is surely true:  the last two weeks in London will inspire a generation, whether you hail from Great Britain, the USA, Canada, Jamaica, or any other country.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Happy Birthday Roger!

Today, August 8, 2012, Roger Federer turns 31 years of age.  It has been a wonderful year for the Swiss Master.  Since he turned 30, he has picked up 8 titles, in Basel, Paris, the World Tour Finals, Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells, Madrid, and Wimbledon.  A year ago, all the talk was whether or not turning 30 would change Roger.  It did, but not in the way everybody imagined.

Since his heartbreaking defeat to Djokovic in the US Open semis last year, these are the numbers:  68-7, 8 titles, 3 Masters, 1 Slam, and an Olympic silver medal.  Has it been a great year or what?   For fans of Roger all over the world, including myself, this past year has been so very special.  Roger has really pushed the limits of human achievement, and his hard work and attitude have paid huge dividends.

Fed is spending his birthday resting after an emotional month of July.  He deserves to have a break after the incredible effort he has put into tennis since last September.  He has played more events than any other top player in that time span and has only not made it to the semifinals in one tournament, Miami.  He has winning streaks of 20, 16, and just recently, 12.  I'd say Fed is exceeding expectations for a 31 year-old.

I believe a big factor in Roger's success has been the fact that his kids are growing up.  They are 3 now, and there is certainly not as much work to be done now as there would have been a few years ago when they were just born.  I think that's allowed Roger to focus more on tennis and training.  The training is the most important part, as he has looked in great shape all year with only a few exceptions (Rome, French Open).  His movement has been cat-like and his defense has been as good as it's been in years.

There have been so many tight wins this year for Fed, and that has made the year that much more special.  Remember those close matches he won against Davydenko in Rotterdam, Delpo in Dubai, Raonic, Bellucci, Nadal, and Isner in Indian Wells?

And then there were the two tight matches in Madrid against Raonic and Berdych.  And then there was the 2-sets-down comeback against Delpo at the French Open and the 3rd tight win against Raonic.  And of course we cannot forget Wimbledon with the heart-attack matches against Benneteau and Malisse (albeit for different reasons).  And then, finally, the epic Olympic semi against Delpo that secured the silver medal for Roger.

That is 13 very tight matches that Federer could have lost, but he pulled through and won them.  That has been the key to his success in 2012 - his mental fortitude.  He is not succumbing to defeats when he feels good enough to win (he obviously wasn't at the French and the Olympics).  After years in 2010 and 2011, and even parts of 2009 that were very disappointing from the point of mental toughness, 2012 has been a true rebound year for the King - and at 31 now, that makes it all the more impressive.

Happy Birthday Champ, and may you become bestowed with the greatest happiness in your personal and professional life!  My admiration for you will never waver.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Olympic Tennis Wrap-Up

Federer Happy With His Silver Medal

Roger's press conference was very good (read it HERE); he was very proud of getting the silver medal and he was genuinely happy with Murray getting the gold, even at his own expense.

I think Roger understands what Murray has had to go through in his career because Roger's early career was the same way.  He had very high expectations placed on him as a future Grand Slam champion, and it took him a while to piece it together (Wimbledon 2003 being the culmination).  Now, Murray seems to have gotten by his demons with a new-found maturity and self-belief that was not there one year ago.  Murray, like Roger did, has tremendous pressure on his shoulders and has now for a very long time, with them probably being even bigger because the Grand Slam drought for Great Britain has been so long.

So Federer knows the feeling of what it's like to exorcise those demons.  You can say Murray hasn't conquered them yet, but it certainly looks like he's well on his way (he looks like he'll pick up the US Open or one of the four next year).

Federer gave everything he had at these Olympics, and he walked away with something he has never gotten before - an Olympic singles medal.  I think after the hard-fought matches against Falla and Delpo, he realized just how special being assured of a medal was.  And with his body and mind being pretty spent going into the gold medal match, he found comfort in a silver medal.  And why wouldn't he find comfort in that?

Some more thoughts on the final:

First and foremost, let me say this:  Andy Murray was at his best, and there was likely going to be no stopping him, no matter what version of Roger Federer was on the other side of the net (with the exception perhaps being God Mode Fed).

The lopsided scoreline, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, was as much about Federer's obvious exhaustion as it was about Murray's consistently attacking, aggressive tennis.  Think of it this way: with Federer anywhere close to his best, do you think he would have lost that badly?  Just look back at Wimbledon where, when both Federer and Murray were playing their best ball, it was a tight 4-set match decided by a few points here and there in each set.  In the gold medal match, there was only one real point where the match could have changed - the game at 2-0 in the second set where Roger had six break point chances.

I wish that the match could have been more competitive - not just for Fed but for the fans' sake as well.  There were some great matches during the tournament and it ended with an anticlimax in terms of quality of play.  That brings me to my next point....

Should there be a tiebreaker in final sets at the 2016 Games in Brazil?  The final would have been much better had Roger shown up with his brilliant play, but he was partially unable to do that because he played 4 and a half hours and went 19-17 against del Potro two days earlier.  While I do enjoy the excitement of a must-hold service game to keep yourself in the match, there is also just as much excitement in a one-point-changes-everything tiebreak, where so much can ride on one point.

Delpo Wins Bronze

After the marathon match against Roger, I had my doubts that del Potro would be able to beat Djokovic.  He proved me wrong emphatically by taking out Nole in straight sets to claim his first medal at the Olympics (Djokovic won bronze in Beijing).  After the emotion poured out at the end of the semi, it almost seemed like destiny that he would win.

Ever since the Davis Cup final last year where he went down heroically to Nadal, I have pulled for Delpo to get back to his peak form of late 2009.  If he finds that form again, and he may have just found it at thesee Olympics, then all I can say is watch out.  With the US Open right around the corner, the big Argentine could be a massive threat to take out one of the top four.

Toronto is being played this week and quite frankly, with Federer and Nadal not there, it doesn't feel the same.  Here is hoping that a guy like Tsonga or del Potro can break through and win - it would be good for the Tour.  After all, since the start of 2011, only Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, and Federer have won Masters events.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Federer Gets Silver Medal

What do you get when you have a fired-up and sharp Andy Murray playing a depleted Roger Federer?  A 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 victory by the Scot to claim his first gold medal.  Fed walked away with the silver, and Juan Martin del Potro, after a heartbreaking defeat to Federer in the semifinals, defeated Novak Djokovic in straight sets to get the bronze.

I won't go into much detail about the match because quite frankly it was not that entertaining.  It was pretty one-sided and the only times Fed looked like himself were the first four games of the match and the game at 2-0 in the second set, where he had six break points.  In that game he was moving well and crushing forehands from the backhand corner like only Roger can.  But when Murray held to take the decisive 6-2, 3-0 lead, it was all over.

In hindsight, the result was kind of predictable.  Federer was physically, emotionally, and mentally drained after that 19-17 3rd set against del Potro on Friday.  He put all is energy into winning that match and did so under tremendous pressure (12 holds while serving to stay in the match), and because of that, he had little left to give in the final.  And against Andy Murray, only a very good performance would have gotten the job done.

Now, if Federer was fresh would he have won?  Maybe, maybe not.  But it is pretty obvious that the match would have been much more competitive had Roger not been so exhausted.  I almost feel bad for everyone in attendance that they didn't get to see a better match.  Of course, 98% of them were just happy Murray won, but the Federer/Delpo match showed true high quality tennis and it's a shame that Roger couldn't bring out something that resembled his best.

Roger has achieved so much in 2012, and he has had so many incredible victories, so I cannot feel too disappointed with the result of the final.  Fed gave everything of himself in the semifinal to ensure that he would get a medal for Switzerland, and you could tell after that win that it meant a lot to him.  If I had to guess, his one regret would be that his body didn't allow him to be as good as he needed to be, but on the other hand, he gave all his fans a spectacular moment in the semifinal win, and even though he knew that would take everything out of him, he still gave it his best effort in the final.

In the grand scheme of things, the vast majority of athletes at the Olympics would love to win a silver medal in their sport.  I think with Roger it is no different.  Sure, he would have loved to win gold, but he also expressed feeling happy for Andy to finally win a big title for Great Britain, and content with how everything played out.  He knew he he was unable to give his best in the final but he still reflected positively on the entire experience.

Roger will not be playing in Toronto, so his next tournament will be Cincinnati, where is a 4-time champion.  The court suits his game there, so he will have a great chance to win (plus he only has QF points to defend so he will be able to extend his #1 lead hopefully).  Then it's upwards and onwards to the US Open where I see the winner being Federer, Murray, or del Potro.  Nadal and Djokovic are too out of sorts to contend seriously, if I had to make a very early prediction.

Again, no Federer fan should be upset with this result.  A silver medal is still a fantastic achievement, especially with an inspire Andy Murray in Great Britain on the other side of the net.  I am so very proud of Fed for coming through in that tight semi, and for making his country proud.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Federer Wins Epic Semifinal

Roger Federer and Andy Murray guaranteed themselves of getting a medal at the 2012 London Olympics, but both men did so in completely different matches.  Federer defeated Juan Martin del Potro 3-6, 7-5(5), 19-17 in 4 hours and 26 minutes, while Andy Murray impressively dispatched Novak Djokovic 7-5, 7-5.

First up was the Federer/Delpo clash.  Juan Martin started very well and Roger was not sharp, and thus the Argentine broke midway through the set, winning it in fine fashion.  The second set was even testier for Federer, as he he hit many unforced errors, but was getting by on the strength of his ever-accurate serve.  The tiebreak came, and after racing to a 4-1 lead, Roger gave back the mini-break.  At 4-4, he mini-broke again, however, and on his second set point at 6-5, he hit a perfect ace to send the match to a deciding set.

The third and final set was a marathon.  There are no tiebreaks in 3rd sets at the Olympics, and we'd already seen a 25-23 final set between Tsonga and Raonic a few days before.  Both Federer and del Potro kept holding serve with various degrees of difficulty, until 9-9 when Federer broke.  This was it, right?  No.  Federer got broken to love after a brilliant game from Delpo.

It looked like the tide may turn and Federer's chance had come and gone but he kept his head in the game and showed the mental strength that has brought him back to World #1 in 2012.  At 11-11, Fed got down 0-30 but hit an ace and then three straight service winners to escape trouble.  Skip ahead to 17-17, Roger finally broke  for only the second time of the match, and this time he would make no mistake, winning the match on his second match point.

It was the longest 3-set match in the history of tennis in the Open Era, and the longest Olympic tennis match ever.  After Delpo sent the final backhand into the net, Federer, elated but calm, kissed the Swiss flag on his polo, indicating how much getting a medal for Switzerland (their first of these games) means to him.  At the net, he embraced del Potro, who was understandably in tears after the heartbreaking defeat.

As if Roger Federer needs any more accolades, he will have the chance to become the third man ever to win all four Slams plus the Olympic Gold medal (the other two being Agassi and Nadal).  A few days away from 31, the Federer Express is picking up speed.

In the second semifinal, Andy Murray put on a brilliant display of grass court tennis with a straights sets win over Novak Djokovic.  The Scot broke once in each set and was not broken.  This will be the first medal Great Britain has won in tennis in 100 years - the only question is what colour it will be.

Djokovic and del Potro will battle for the bronze before the Wimbledon final rematch gold medal showdown.


Quite simply, Federer's mental strength is just ridiculous.  He held serve 12 times when serving to stay in the match, and 13 if you count the 3-4 game where a loss of serve would have meant losing the match very likely.  I have never seen a player as clutch on their serve as Fed.  When he needs to hit a big serve, he hits it.  Going down 0-30 at 11-11 and then hitting four straight serves where Delpo couldn't get the ball back into play was special and "vintage" Federer.

It was crucial for Roger to serve extraordinarily well because the conditions were windy and his baseline and net game were pretty poor for his standards.  Still, being able to hit a great serve under pressure time after time after time is so incredibly hard.  It is a physical battle as much as a mental one, as the body tends to rush or tighten up in tense situations.  With Roger, he's just calm, cool, and collected at all times - it really is like he has ice in his veins.

Federer's fighting spirit has shown so many times thus far in 2012.  His 12-1 record in deciding sets and 16-1 record since that devastating loss to Djokovic at the US Open is proof of that.  Whatever happens in the gold medal match, I have never been prouder to be a Federer fan than in these days, where the entire world is getting to see the qualities of a true champion.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Federer Into Olympic Semifinals

17-time major champion Roger Federer made it to his second Olympic semifinal with a strong win over American John Isner 6-4, 7-6(5).  Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Juan Martin del Potro also all won in straight sets.

As with many matches that feature John Isner, it was very close.  Both men held serve until the ninth game of the set when Federer broke to take the lead.  He held to take the first set - vitally important if he wanted to win.  The second followed much of the same pattern, and they headed to a tiebreak, almost predictably (can't be a John Isner match with a tiebreak, right?).  Fed got the first mini-break but then gave it right back, and they both held their serve until match point came, when, on Isner's serve, Federer laid across a smooth backhand slice return that just caught the net and went over, giving him the match.

Sweet forehand form

Murray, Djokovic, and del Potro all won without much trouble over Nicolas Almagro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Kei Nishikori respectively.  All three are playing very well right now.  Delpo should give Roger a massive test in the semis even though Fed has won all 5 meetings this year with a 12-2 lead in sets.  They have only met once before, in the 2nd round of Wimbledon in 2007 when JMDP was just a kid.  Knowing both their games, Roger should still have the edge on grass with his use of the slice against big players.

Murray vs Djokovic is really a toss-up.  They have not met on grass before while Djokovic holds an 8-5 head-to-head record.  Andy will have the weight of a nation behind him as he did at Wimbledon, but Djokovic is also great playing for his country.  All I can surely say is that it will be a tight, physical match.  I pick Murray to win because I predicted he would make the final.

Whatever happens, we are going to have an amazing few days of tennis.  We know we will see one of Murray or Djokovic in the bronze medal match, and either of them against Delpo would be fun to watch.  Of course, Fed could also be in the bronze medal match against Murray or Djokovic, but I really don`t think Roger loses to Juan Martin.  Not now, and not on grass.

 Go for the gold Fed!  Two more matches!

PS - this was Roger's 50th match win of the year.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Federer Into Olympics Quarters

Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2012 London Olympics.  Juan Martin del Potro, Nicolas Almagro, and Kei Nishikori rounded out the men's final eight.

Federer faced Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.  After jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead, Istomin fought back to get even.  There was a short rain delay at 5-5 and when they came back out Roger saved three break points to keep the lead.  Almost predictably, he won the next game to break and take the first set.  In the second, Fed got another quick break lead, but did not look back, and took the match 7-5, 6-3.

Net up for Fed is John Isner, who took out Janko Tipsarevic in straight sets.  Roger holds a 3-1 record over Isner, with his only loss coming in poor conditions at the Davis Cup in February.  Isner is dangerous on grass with his serve, but if Fed can neutralize that weapon and make the big man rally, he should have an edge.  Look for him to utilize the slice plenty with Isner's height.

In other action....

Novak Djokovic rallied from a set down again to beat Lleyton Hewitt 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.  Hewitt gave Djokovic a lot of problems, and Nole did well to get through.  Jo Tsonga took out Feliciano Lopez, showing no fatigue after his marathon match with Milos Raonic yesterday.  Juan Martin del Potro stamped out Gilles Simon in three tough sets, and in the shocker of the day, David Ferrer was upset by Kei Nishikori 6-4 in the 3rd set.

Federer and Wawrinka go out in doubles:

Although it was a good day for Federer in the singles, disappointment fell over him in the doubles, where he and Stan Wawrinka lost to Israeli pair Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-3.  You have to feel for Stan because he went out in his first match in the singles and now he is done for the Olympics.  On the positive side though, Roger can now focus solely on the singles, and he'll need to be very solid in order to get the gold (with Isner, Delpo, and Djokovic/Murray likely being his final three matches).

Along with Federer vs Isner, we will also see Djokovic vs Tsonga, Murray vs Almagro, and Delpo vs Nishikori.  If I was a betting man I'd take Djokovic, Murray, and Delpo, but this is the Olympics.  We have seen what Jo can do to Novak (French Open), and you just never know with Almagro and Nishikori.  Can Kei keep up the momentum gained from defeating Ferrer?  Can Almagro go balls-to-the-wall and stun Murray?  We shall see.

Until next time....