Tag Archives: Gael Monfils

Unofficial & Unauthorized ATP Champions Race of 2011

8 Aug

Is anybody else getting just a tad curious about which players will qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London at the O2 Arena in November? Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have already qualified. Roger Federer and Andy Murray will surely follow soon to keep the Big 4 of the past few years in tact. While Soderling has been Top 5 for quite some time, his place in London is less secure than David Ferrer as you will see in the unofficial rankings below. It really is just a matter of time before the Spanish bulldog makes the quietest return to the Top 5 ever.

Let’s assume everybody listed above qualifies for the Tour Finals as they have in multiple years prior, but who will grab those last two spots? You may be surprised to see where things are shaking out at this moment since if there were an official Champions Race, it would vary greatly from the 52-Week Entry List rankings. Let’s sneak a peek at the Race as of 8/8/11 straight from my unofficial Excel spreadsheet:

Race Entry Player Name YTD Pts 2011 W-L
1 1 Novak Djokovic 9765 48-1
2 2 Rafael Nadal 7640 51-8
3 3 Roger Federer 4180 39-9
4 4 Andy Murray 3720 29-9
5 6 David Ferrer 3250 39-11
6 5 Robin Soderling 2135 38-9
7 10 Nicolas Almagro 1750 41-15
8 19 Juan Martin Del Potro 1665 36-10
9T 9 Tomas Berdych 1630 34-15
9T 16 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1630 28-14
11 8 Mardy Fish 1560 29-15
12 11 Gilles Simon 1510 30-17
13 13 Richard Gasquet 1400 27-13
14 15 Victor Troicki 1370 32-16
15T 7 Gael Monfils 1340 25-10
15T 21 Alexandr Dolgopolov 1340 26-18

Similar to Messieur Monfils whose Race position of 15 is far lower than his 52-Week ranking of 7, both 12th ranked Andy Roddick and 14th ranked Mikhail Youzhny are lagging in the Race as they have so many ranking points from 2010 to defend. Conversely, Juan Martin and Jo Willy have a much better chance to qualify than their 52-week rankings indicate.

Who do you think will grab those last two spots. Will both Del Potro and Simon return to the Tour Finals just like they climbed up the rankings to the Top 8 back in 2008? Can Nicolas Almagro or Mardy Fish qualify for the first time? There is still plenty of tennis to be played in 2011, so it is quite possible someone outside this list will make the cut. Who are your dark horses?

Quick Hit: Does anybody else find it ironic that former Top 50 singles player Daniele Bracciali who is probably best known for being suspended by the ATP for gambling just won his second doubles title of the year in Kitzbuhel? Oh, did I forget to mention the tournament happens to be called the Bet At Home Open? Maybe Wayne Odesnik’s first title after his suspension will be at the HGH Classic.

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2011 French Open Draw Announced

20 May

Forgive the old picture from Kooyong last year, but the biggest news to me this morning was that Novak Djokovic drew Juan Martin Del Potro in the 3rd Round of Roland Garros. Considering Del Potro has to play the always dangerous Ivo Karlovic in the 1st round, this juicy Delpo-Djoko clash is far from a sure thing but we sure are looking forward to this potential 1st week encounter.

Meanwhile, John Isner unseeded in a Slam for the first time in quite a while came up unlucky playing Rafael Nadal in his first match. Other opening matches include Federer v Lopez, Querrey v Kohlschreiber, Monaco v Verdasco, Gasquet v Stepanek, and Ferrer v Nieminen. The projected quarterfinal match-ups based on seedings are Nadal-Soderling, Murray-Melzer, Federer-Ferrer, and Djokovic-Berdych. Take a look at the draw and let us know what upsets you think are brewing.

Let’s talk about the women’s draw next time, but for now here are pics of the ATP players that have already arrived to practice on the terre batue.

Kubot Does Can-Can, DeBakker Does Can’t-Can’t

17 Jan

Lots of drama happened on Day 1 of the Australian Open.  Uncomfortable to watch drama.  Think Black Swan instead of The Fighter.

The day started out with Maria Sharapova hitting five consecutive nervy misses on serve.  She finished the game with 10 double faults overall and looked uneasy throughout, but a very out of shape Tammy Tanasugarn could not chase down Maria’s shots.  In fact, she often did not even try.  The 63 61 scoreline might suggest a dominant performance, but like P-Mac said “Maria left us with lots more questions than answers today.”

Sam Querrey had his own troubles as he lost to Lukasz Kubot, who made the 4th Round here last year.  The Polish player known more for doubles until recently looked like the more confident singles player as he won 57 62 36 61 86.  Kubot looked quite tired in the last set, but he played more aggressively than Sam to go up a break in the 13th game and then proceeded to serve out the match.  He also made sure to show us that he had more energy than we all thought by doing the Can-Can for his victory dance.  Querrey despite being a Top 20 player continues to disappoint in Grand Slams bowing out 10 out of 14 times in the 1st Round.  Miserable.

The match that may have been hardest to watch was Thiemo De Bakker choking away a 2 set and a break lead over Gael Monfils.  Gael looked a bit gimpy in the 2nd after losing the 1st in a tiebreak, but then it was De Bakker who must have injured his brain when he was trying to close out the match.  One missed sitter volley in particular caused groans from spectators at Hisense Arena and in front of TV sets around the world.

Thiemo made sure to explain on Twitter by saying, “Pulled my groin at 4-1 in the third! Sick of it”  I think Gael Monfils said it better after the match, “I know Thiemo a bit. I know sometime he snap in the head. So this is like a strong belief. We know like he can snap. It’s a weakness for him. So you play with that.  You know, before the match my coach Rog told me, ‘Sometimes Thiemo is not a big believer.’ When I saw that, you get it (snapping fingers).”

Like Monfils, Fish pulled off his first ever comeback down 2-Sets-to-Love against Romanian Victor Hanescu.  Many other 5-setters played today, but for now I must get some sleep.  Not sure De Bakker or Hanescu will be falling asleep so easily though.  Too soon?

Two Days Until Aussie Open

15 Jan

What are the players doing two days before the start of a Grand Slam?  Most will try to find time to practice on the courts of Melbourne, but a handful of the hottest players spent their Saturday competing for titles and trophies.  Let’s take a quick tour around New Zealand and Australia to see how the finalists fared:

Hobart – Jarmila Groth (AUS) d. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 64 63

Just like the Sydney final that Li Na won over Kim Clijsters yesterday, the final in Hobart also featured two married women.  Mrs. Groth won her second WTA title while Mrs. Sands will need to wait for that elusive first after her third failed attempt.  Not only did they both have a good week in Hobart, but last week Bethanie helped USA to win Hopman Cup and Jarmila had a big win over Sam Stosur before she bowed out to Andrea Petkovic in the quarterfinals of Brisbane.  Raising the trophy in Hobart may be Jarka’s best moment in 2011, however my favorite is the zinger she said to the hubby when she called for on-court coaching during her losing effort against Petkovic.  When fellow player Sam Groth told her she should pay attention and take advantage of the cold weather conditions, she responded by saying “Don’t talk to me like I’m a frigging tourist!”  She did not say frigging, of course.

The weather was far worse this week in Hobart actually as rain delayed play throughout the week, but luckily they got some sunshine today to finish the final on time.  The final was played in very windy conditions, and this time Mrs. Groth was able to stay cool under pressure.  Both Bethanie and Jarmila should be fully prepared for Melbourne in two days, and they will need to get off to a great start.  Groth will play 21st seed Yanina Wickmayer in the first round.  Mattek-Sands does get a qualifier in the first round with a possible 2nd round clash with former #1 Svetlana Kuznetzova.

Auckland – David Ferrer (ESP) d. David Nalbandian (ARG) 63 62

27th ranked David Nalbandian had not dropped a set until today and looked to be in better form than the 7th ranked David Ferrer this week, but the Spanish workhorse dismissed Nalbandian quite easily.  Ferrer once again showed off his return game by breaking the Argentine’s serve three times and remained steady on serve as he fought off all 3 break points that he faced.  Both Davids may have had Melbourne already on their mind as they both have tough 1st round opponents.  Ferrer will face the tricky Finn Jarkko Nieminen while Nalbandian has the much anticipated battle with Lleyton Hewitt.

Kooyong – Hewitt (AUS) d. Monfils (FRA) 75 63

Speaking of Lleyton, the Aussie was playing the Kooyong exhibition for the first time ever and came away with the win.  Although this was a weaker than usual field with the top guys deciding to rest up, Hewitt still needed to defeat Mikhail Youzhny, Nikolay Davydenko, and Gael Monfils to secure the title.  Unfortunately, Gael played gingerly in the second set when he seemed to tweak his lower back but remains hopeful for Melbourne.  His first round opponent will be rising Dutch star Tiemo DeBakker, and we all know who Lleyton will play.  On a lighter and more random note, take a look at how Youzhny decided to battle Hewitt and his home court advantage.

Sydney – Gilles Simon (FRA) d. Viktor Troicki (SRB) 75 76(4)

Despite a slow start, Gilles went in to the Sydney final feeling optimistic about his chances today.  Not only did Le Poussin roar through the draw without dropping a set, but he also never lost a set to his opponent in their 4 previous meetings.  Cue to cutaway footage of French people scratching their heads as to why Davis Cup Captain Guy Forget subbed Michael Llodra in the deciding match of the Davis Cup Final against Troicki, but I digress.  I tend to do that a lot, huh?  Oh crap, I’m already doing it again.

Back to Gilles!  The Frenchman is once again confident in his physical fitness, and this is of supreme importance as his footwork is his biggest 2nd biggest weapon.  His best weapon has to be his superior tennis brain, which surely can explain his two previous wins over harder-hitting but softer-thinking Ernests Gulbis and Viktor Troicki.  One only needs to look at his now 8-2 record in finals to know that the frail-looking Frenchman is mentally tough.  Gilles certainly handled the big points better than his opponent today.  Viktor did get a bit of bad luck at 4-2 in the deciding tie-break when he was called for a foot fault on his second serve.  Simon made sure to give special thanks to that lineswoman during the trophy presentation actually.

Who will these two play first at the Australian Open?  Troicki will play Dmitry Tursunov, and Simon gets Yen-Hsun Lu of Taipei.  Gilles has a 2-0 record against Lu including a 63 60 over him this week.  He will also have a 2-0 record against his likely 2nd round opponent Roger Federer.  Allez!

Melbourne – Quallies and Special Events

As long as I’m Allez-ing around, I may as well report on TCW favorite Nicolas Mahut who defeated Frederik Nielsen to qualify for the main draw.  Mahut was one of 7 men to get through quallies on Saturday after a week of many rain delays, while the remaining  matches will be played Sunday.  Congrats to the other six men who have already qualified: Denis Gremlmayr (GER), Vincent Millot (FRA), Gilles Muller (LUX), Simon Stadler (GER), Ryan Sweeting (USA), and Grega Zemlja (SLO).

Saturday was also Kids Day at the Australian Open with a day filled with events geared toward the Aussie youngsters.  Sunday will also be a special day on the grounds as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will headline “Rally for Relief” in an effort to raise money for victims of the Australia floods.  Other players expected to attend include Novak Djokovic, Pat Rafter, Sam Stosur, Lleyton Hewitt, and Kim Clijsters.  For American fans, don’t forget that Sunday in Australia is really Saturday night here.  Tennis Channel will be broadcasting the event tonight at 10PM ET.  Does it make me a bad person that I will be tuning in mostly to see if old lovebirds Kim and Lleyton will play nice with each other?  OK, but what if I promise to donate to the relief efforts?

Not So Fast, The ATP Season Ain’t Quite Over Just Yet…..

30 Nov

Roger and Rafa provided a stellar finale to the 2010 season at the ATP World Tour finals, but the French and Serbian teams are just getting warmed up.  This Friday, the Belgrade Arena will showcase this year’s Davis Cup final on an indoor hard court.  Serbia has never been to the Davis Cup final before, while France is vying for their 10th title with their last coming in 2001 over Australia in Melbourne.

Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic have arrived in Belgrade from the World Tour finals in London, and quite frankly they looked quite tired at their Davis Cup press conference.  Who can blame them after such a long season, but they have a couple of days to get their pep back as well as get pumped up by the sure to be raucous crowd.  Victor Troicki and Janko Tipsarevic round out the Davis Cup team, although it has not been determined yet what the match lineup will be.

The Frenchies on the other hand look lively and jovial with the official four-man squad consisting of Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon, Arnaud Clement, and Michael Llodra with Richard Gasquet as an un-official fifth.  Captain Guy Forget explained, “I’ve included Richard Gasquet in my squad of four players as required by the ITF because for an event of this importance it strikes me as essential to prepare five players.  They are all setting out on an equal footing.”  Despite the uncertainty of which players will get the nod from Coach Forget, the French players sure look to be getting on just fine.