Friday, 29 April 2016

Del Potro on song, Tomic failing

A rare situation for tennis has eventuated in Prague where the top four seeds will contest the semi finals.  Yes Lucie Safarova, the second seed, and winless before trudging onto the Czech clay this week, has won three straight matches to earn the right to play third seed Czech compatriot Karolina Pliskova in one semi, while wildly inconsistent fourth seed Sam Stosur has held it together at tough stages to make the other semi a veterans affair between the Queenslander and top seed Russian Sveta Kuznetsova. 
Three Grand Slam titles amassed amongst the two, but Stosur is light years away from the tennis she displayed in her 2011 moment of glory at Flushing Meadows.
Sveta, though, has won against Serena this year, and been a finalist at the prestigious Miami event, so her form is Roland Garros solid.  She should be too well equipped for Sam but who knows which version of the Aussie will appear on court ? This week it has so far been an impressive fight to the death model which would have been more useful in the recent Fed Cup tie than what was delivered there.

The Czech Republic civil war is harder to predict because of Safarova's frustrating 2016 prior to Prague.  All things being equal, I'd select Lucie to beat Karolina, but given some of the good Pliskova performances (yes she has had some ordinary matches too) over four months, I believe she has the confidence and improved weapons to overcome Safarova.

Veteran Spaniard, unseeded Nicolas Almagro has knocked out Portugal's fourth seed Joso Souza in a second round Estoril match, eliminating the expected semi final opponent of Nick Kyrgios, should the Aussie make it that far.
Almagro will play a quarter final against seventh seed Argentine Leonardo Mayer.

France and Spain will battle out another quarter final with top seed Gilles Simon and Pablo Carreno Busta, eighth seed, representing the respective nations.  This coincidentally is in the same section of the draw as another France/Spain quarter final which had already been created - Frenchman Paire v Spaniard Garcia-Lopez.  The semi has all sorts of combinations available, but I predict all French with either Simon or Paire going through to the final.

The quarter final make up is set in Munich, but two of the four quarters stand out as matches to follow.  Top seed David Goffin from Belgium faces the firepower of German teenage sensation Alexander Zverev, the eighth seed.  
Apart from a semi final in Montpelier in February and round of sixteen at Indian Wells, where he should have beaten Nadal, Zverev has done little more than have an occasional good result to maintain the rage about his potential.  And at 49 in the world, still just 19, he has that potential in spades.  However he is losing matches to inferior players on a regular basis which is preventing him advancing to latter stages of tournaments.  Now is the time to assert the authority of his game on lesser opponents and collect significant ranking points, otherwise he will end up where he is by year's end and feel justifiably disappointed.

All that said, Zverev can cause Goffin trouble, beginning with his serve.  If he can control it, the Belgian will find it difficult to break, allowing Zverev the chance to work on ways to attack the Goffin serve which is certainly not as potent as many.
In the end though, Goffin should have too many tricks up his sleeve and far more variety with which to counter the big serving German.

Del Potro is unseeded but I am confident that he can defeat Philip Kohlschreiber in the fourth seeds home country. Delpo is making his way back to tennis at the highest level successfully, not with any great on court success, but enough to suggest some will eventually come.  More significant is his fitness and avoidance of injury reoccurrence so far.  The 2009 US Open champ still has all the shots at his disposal, and with increasing confidence to move around the court and play the shots with the same freedom as he did at the height of his career, Juan Del Potro can rise to the top level of the game again.
A win against Kohlschreiber, who is 16-8 for 2016, would be a big step and place the Argentine in a Munich semi final.

Istanbul was another disaster for Bernard Tomic, who has now lost his opening match in two tournaments in succession, both as top seed.  A year that began with such promise and a number of good results has turned to clay on the clay courts.  Yes not his favourite surface, but if his goal is top ten by end of 2016, then he needs to adapt to all surfaces because ranking points don't stop when the clay court season comes along.  Tomic has stalled at around twenty in the world, whereas months ago he had reached the teens and was climbing.  With huge points on offer at Roland Garros, his seeding could have been within the top sixteen which provides protection from drawing an elite seed such as Djokovic or Nadal until the fourth round at earliest.  Ranked where he is that possibility may arise a round earlier.

Granollers and Karlovic joined other seeds in the quarters, and will play each other for a semi final spot, while the other seed to fall with Tomic was Russian seventh seed Gabashvili.  The all unseeded quarter final resulting guarantees that one of the semis will feature an unseeded player - either Damir Dzumhur or Diego Schwartzman.

No comments:

Post a Comment