Friday, 20 May 2016

Federer to miss Roland Garros

While there are a number of WTA and ATP events being conducted in the week prior to the commencement of the year's second Grand Slam tournament at Roland Garros,  the biggest talking point is clearly the withdrawal of Roger Federer from the French Open.  
Federer has not been able to recover sufficiently from his back injury, and will break his run of competing at 65 successive Grand Slam tournaments stretching back to the 2000 Australian Open.  In hindsight perhaps he should have extended his rest from Madrid through to Rome instead of rushing back too soon.  Irrespective, it will be strange to not have Roger in the draw.

The immediate beneficiary is Rafa Nadal, who now becomes the fourth seed and avoids the possibility of another farce where he could have, purely with an unlucky dip, faced Djokovic or Murray in the quarters.  The earliest stage that he could meet either of the top two seeds now is in a semi final.  That is a good result for tennis, and the only positive news from the sad Federer story.

Serious question:  Should Roger consider cutting his losses and give his body the best chance to recover with a longer term view ?  That means bypassing the grass court events including Wimbledon.  It's a huge call since it is his favourite time of the year, but if the back injury is that serious, then fulfilling a short term want may come at a greater expense down the track. And realistically his extremely limited preparation doesn't provide him with his best ever chance of success at Wimbledon in 2016.  
Still he may prove me wrong - he has before.

In Geneva, the semi finals have almost gone with the seedings - 2nd seed David Ferrer will play 3rd seed Marin Cilic and top seed Stan Wawrinka also made it to the last four.  Fourth seed John Isner was a second round casualty, taken out by tall unseeded Czech Lukas Rosol, who also impressively dispatched Kuznetsov in the quarter final.  Stan has been rather erratic of late and will need to be wary of the dangerous Rosol.

France welcomes some of the male players to its colourful south as a prelude to the trip north for the much larger Roland Garros.  And in Nice one semi final in 2016 will feature top seed Dominic Thiem against unseeded Adrian Mannarino, who will start crowd favourite because he is French and Thiem is not.  The other semi has 5th seed Portuguese Joao Souza matched against 8th seed German Alexander Zverev.  Both did particularly well in knocking out Kevin Anderson and Gilles Simon in their respective quarter finals.

In Nurnberg, Germany, top seed Roberta Vinci was ranked 7 in the world coming into the tournament.  The second seed was ranked 38.  All that counted for little because at semi final time only one seeded player is left - third seed Annika Beck from Germany.  Her semi final opponent is yet to be determined, but it won't be either of the two seeds in her section of the draw - also German - because Laura Siegemund (2) and Sabine Lisicki (5) were dumped by the Colombian Mariana Duque-Marino and USA's Varvara Lepchenko respectively, both unseeded.  The latter two will contest the remaining quarter final to see who plays Beck.
The other semi final contestants are Kiki Bertens from the Netherlands and Julia Goerges from Germany.  The home crowd could well see an all German final.

While some men are hitting tennis balls in the French south, a group of women have been swinging racquets in the north in Strasbourg.  The semi finalists there, as in Nice, also include a French player - in fact three.
The all French semi has Virginie Razzano, unseeded, and famous for ousting Serena Williams in the first round of Roland Garros 2012, up against 10th seed Caroline Garcia, recipient of a walkover from Sam Stosur whose wrist injury hopefully is minor enough not to inhibit her next week.
4th seed Kristina Mladenovic, the third lady from France, meets unseeded but underrated Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the remaining semi final.

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