Sunday, 12 June 2016

Roger is back and on the grass

The all too short grass court season is now upon us and the sudden change of surface provides certain players with different strengths a chance to display their wares more adequately and confidently than on the clay.  Conversely, some of the clay courters are more prone to early exits as they struggle to handle the various nuances that playing on grass may present.

However, the pace of the grass courts these days is markedly slower than in yesteryear, and so the advantage is not as big as once was - incredibly 35-40 years ago Bjorn Borg could switch from slow clay to fast grass and dominate on each, making his six French Opens and five Wimbledons an achievement that should be given even more plaudits than it already receives.

Not long to Wimbledon and good to see Federer back and apparently fit.  He was top seed for the ATP Stuttgart tournament, one of two men's events on grass held in the first week following the French Open.

Roger won two tight matches, the first a thrilling three setter against young American future star Taylor Fritz, and the second a two tie break quarter final against qualifier Florian Mayer.  Federer was stopped in the semis by third seed Dominic Thiem, who for the second time this year ruined a tournament for Roger.  Down a set, Thiem fought his way successfully through a second set tie break before clinching the match 6-4 in the decider.
He will play Philippe Kohlschreiber in the final, after he defeated Juan Martin Del Potro in the other semi.  This will be the second final for Kohlschreiber in 2016, both events in his home country of Germany.  He beat Thiem in Munich on clay about 6 weeks back, and the two will be contesting this final as well.

Since Munich, Kohlschreiber had won just one match prior to Stuttgart, whereas Thiem had won 12, capturing the Nice tournament and making the Roland Garros semis.  Grass has changed the fortunes for Philippe and the final should be fascinating.

The Ricoh Open in s'Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, will feature 7th seed Gilles Muller from Luxembourg against Nicolas Mahut (8) from France in the final.  Muller defeated top seed David Ferrer while Mahut dispensed with second seed Bernard Tomic in two of the quarter finals, before dealing with Karlovic and Querrey respectively in the semis.

The WTA grass court season opened with its two tournaments this week including one held in conjunction with the ATP in s'Hertogenbosch.
Fresh from winning the French Open doubles title with Caroline Garcia, 3rd seed Kristina Mladenovic overcame top seed Belinda Bencic, after dropping the opening set, in one semi final.  Disappointed at the loss, it still would have felt good for Bencic to be back playing after her absence through injury.

Mladenovic will play sixth seed Coco Vandeweghe in the final following the American's victory over compatriot Madison Brengle in their semi final.

Nottingham has been the venue for the other WTA event this week, and it saw two comebacks - Caroline Wozniacki from injury, although she only won her first round match before exiting, and Australian Ash Barty, the former Wimbledon Junior champion, who quit tennis for a cricket career, but last year returned to tennis.

Until Nottingham Barty had been playing lower tier ITF events, but she won through qualifying here before winning her first two main draw matches.  Only top seed Karolina Pliskova prevented her moving into the semi finals, and it took two tie breaks to do it, the second lasting 9-7.  For 20 year old Ash Barty her future for a second time appears bright, as she gives tennis another go.

The final in Nottingham will be a battle between Pliskova and unseeded American Alison Riske.  Pliskova defeated fourth seed Puerto Rican Monica Puig and Riske knocked out China's unseeded Saisai Zheng in the semi finals.

No comments:

Post a Comment