Murray Wins Record Fifth Title at Queen’s

Congrats to Murray for making a little history of his own today in Queen’s, London by winning a record fifth title there and surpassing some big names in the process. It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest Murray fan but you have to give credit where it’s due.

Murray was down 6-7(5), 0-3 against Raonic before breaking Raonic for the first time in the tournament I think and doing so a total of four times before prevailing 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3.

Murray’s returning was special and he was being aggressive in which case he becomes a formidable opponent. Raonic has a massive serve but Murray once again proved that having a big serve, no matter how good it is, is not good enough against the best in tennis.

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Murray’s on-court demeanor irritates the hell out of me but today I once again realized how damn talented he is. If his mental fortitude was not such a liability for him he would have won many more slams.

But having Lendl in his corner helps a lot with that I think. It gives him a certain stability and calmness which is so desperately lacking without Lendl. Murray proved to me today that he is a real threat at Wimbledon.

  • Who is Djokovic’s Biggest Challenger/Challengers at Wimbledon?

And since I’m not fanatical about supporting any given player I like that, even though I’m a big Djokovic fan. As a tennis fan, I think it would be boring if Djokovic just gets handed the calendar slam on a silver platter.

You actually want to see him challenged and have some interesting contests along the way. And unlike some tennis fans, I think there have already been some great contests on his way to winning the Djoker slam.

Specifically between him and Federer at Wimbledon and the US Open last year and this year at the Australian Open. But not just between them. There have been several others. Djokovic is not the kind of player who wins slams without dropping sets.

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I think there is an element of boredom to players doing that. I find it quite sad and pathetic how whiny and ungrateful tennis fans can be. They will always find a reason why there is something wrong with the game.

And yet we are in a golden era of tennis and have been since Federer and Nadal started dominating. To get back to Murray, I think he is the only guy who can realistically challenge Djokovic at Wimbledon.

Anderson challenged Djokovic last year but I think Djokovic is a better and more confident player now. I think having finally gotten the French Open monkey off his back and taking an extended break will do him the world of good.

  • Concerning Djokovic’s Motivation at Wimbledon

I have heard some people question how motivated he will be which I find astonishing given how driven Djokovic is and how badly he wants to become the GOAT. He will be extremely motivated to win Wimbledon.

How many opportunities do you get to win five consecutive slams anyway? That’s right, Djokovic will be the first player in the open era to have that opportunity.

Laver did not have the opportunity at the 1970 Australian Open after completing the calendar slam in 1969 because he was banned due to signing to the National Tennis League.

With every match Djokovic wins from here on, he is making history. Why wouldn’t he be anything but motivated to the max?! Djokovic is also going for a third straight Wimbledon title and if he wins it he will be within one slam of the calendar slam.

To suggest he may not be motivated is beyond absurd. And having finally completed the career slam don’t be surprised if he is very relaxed and confident. But of course making history creates its own pressure.

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And the likes of Murray will be looking to take advantage of that pressure. That said, Murray will be facing his own pressure as he is per custom being hyped up as the favorite for Wimbledon by the British.

As a Djokovic fan, it is great to know you can always depend on the Brits to put maximum pressure on Murray to win the title. But having Lendl in his corner will help him to deal with that pressure better.

So I am looking forward to seeing what happens at Wimbledon this year. Raonic will be dangerous too. I see the bookies are even giving him better odds than Federer at Wimbledon which is not all that surprising given Federer’s current form.

He just lost to Zverev in Halle whose brother he defeated 6-0, 6-0 in 2014 in the same event. Before the semis, I thought Federer was showing improvement but I said we should see what happens in the rest of Halle first.

  • Federer and Thiem Lose in Halle Semis

Well, Federer lost 6-7(4), 7-5, 3-6 to Zverev and it is hard to see him being a serious threat at Wimbledon. Sure you can’t count him out but he is more like a dark horse to me now. It is just hard to see him make a run at Wimbledon this year like he did last year.

But who knows. We will see how it goes in the first few rounds. As for Thiem, he didn’t make the final in Halle either because he lost 6-3, 6-4 to Florian Mayer, who also won the title over Zverev today, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

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Zverev saved two match points at *4-5 and 15-40 in the second set but, in the end, the wily veteran Mayer prevailed with his unique style. That doesn’t bode well for Federer because Mayer isn’t even fit and looked exhausted in the third set.

Federer desperately lacks match practice and even though he had more time to prepare on grass than the others the grass court season is not long enough for him to play himself into form. But like I said you can’t write him off.

  • Highlights

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Federer and Thiem Still On Course for Halle Final Meeting

Greetings. The final that I hoped for in Halle is still a possibility after Federer defeated Goffin 6-1, 7-6(10) and Thiem received a walkover over his final opponent from Stuttgart Kohlschreiber today.

That final that rained out was played on Monday and Thiem won it 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-4 to win his first grass court title, fourth title this year, and seventh title overall. The kid sure is making good progress.

This week he is in the semis of another grass court event where he will play Mayer while Federer will play another youngster Zverev in the top half. Berdych lost in the first round which helped Federer but Zverev can’t be underestimated.

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Nice to see this man back on the grass!

Federer himself was still struggling this week due to lack of match practice but it looks like his level improved against Goffin. That’s the kind of win he needed to help him get back into form. But to be a serious threat at Wimbledon again he probably needs to win the title in Halle.

He hasn’t played much tennis at all this year which doesn’t leave him with room for error. And then there is still the injury concern. I don’t know if he will be much of a factor at Wimbledon this year but he is always a danger on grass.

Let’s see what happens in Halle first. It is nice to see him find some form anyway because if he is on form, that will just make Wimbledon more interesting.

  • Lendl Hooks Up With Murray Again While Mcenroe Joins Raonic Team

Talking of Wimbledon, Murray and Lendl are back together and apparently want to ruin Djokovic’s plans.

That already adds to the plot for Wimbledon. And it made me wonder again why Murray and Lendl broke up to begin with. I read Lendl had some health problems so maybe it was that. You wonder what they could have achieved if they stayed together.

Now that Federer and Edberg failed to put a dent in the Djokovic/Becker team it will be interesting to find out if the Murray/Lendl team can do so. Lendl helped Murray to break his grand slam curse by winning the US Open and Wimbledon.

Murray lost in four grand slam finals before he broke through at the US Open in 2012 and then after he won Wimbledon in 2013 him and Lendl parted ways and Murray has since lost in three more slam finals.

Now the big question is whether Lendl can help him break his slam drought again. One thing I do know is that Murray won’t play against the US Open 2012 and Wimbledon 2013 versions of Djokovic again.

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Can Lendl help Murray to break through again?

Those were poor versions of Djokovic compared to the player he is now. And a lot of that has to do with his coach Becker. I don’t know if Murray and Lendl can stop the Djokovic/Becker juggernaut but it definitely adds excitement to the situation.

At least for the tennis fans who are bored of Djokovic’s domination it does. But for me as a fan of Djokovic, it does too. That’s why I also hope Federer continues to improve. Sure I enjoy seeing Djokovic win everything but it is also interesting to see him challenged.

Becker has already tweeted that he is excited to have his old rival Lendl back in the locker rooms. Having these legends back as coaches definitely makes tennis more interesting in my view.

I see Mcenroe is coaching Raonic now as well who defeated Kyrgios in his first match in Queen’s this week and will now face Tomic in the semis. Raonic is another dangerous grass courter and the fact that Mcenroe joined his team makes the grass court season even more interesting.

In the top half of Queen’s Murray will play against Cilic. A Murray vs Raonic final there would be interesting if only for the reason that their coaches used to be big rivals as well.

  • Can Djokovic Actually Win Five Consecutive Slams?

Finally, I get to Djokovic who is as per custom not playing any competitive events before Wimbledon. He is just playing that Boodles event to get some practice matches under his belt before Wimbledon.

Even with the longer grass court season I think that is a great call. He can really do with the rest and start Wimbledon fresher than the rest of the field. Not that he needs any advantages given how far ahead of the field he already is.

But winning five consecutive slams has never been done in the open era so he will once again have to make history if he is to do that. You figure he can’t just keep on winning and that eventually he must lose a match in a slam.

But then you ask yourself who is going to beat him and it is difficult to find an answer. I happen to think winning the French is a big burden off his shoulders which may make him play even better if that is even possible.

I think he will show up at Wimbledon rested and confident ready to make history again. He really loves playing on grass now and it is his best surface after Plexicushion. It suits his game very well and he’s got the movement and everything under control now.

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Yes, he really did win it!

Last year after scraping past Anderson in the fourth round it was just a devastating display from him from there on. The final against Federer was played at an unbelievable level and the scary thing is there was still room for improvement.

I’m very much looking forward to Wimbledon this year. There are many good grass court players to make things competitive and if Djokovic wins a fourth Wimbledon title he will be within range of the calendar slam which will be very exciting as well.

Wimbledon is still the pinnacle of our sport and it is always a special time of the year for tennis fans. This year will be no exception. But let’s see what happens in Halle and Queen’s first.

It would be crazy if Thiem wins another grass court title!

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Murray and Federer Win Titles in Queen’s and Halle

  • Murray Defeats Anderson for 4th Queen’s Title

Today Murray had to come out twice on the court, first to finish his semi-final with Troicki after it rained out yesterday and then to play the final against Anderson. The match with Troicki was suspended at 3-3 in the first set and when they came back Murray won 6-3, 7-6(4). Troicki was a break up in the second set but gave it back in a very lame way. He played a poor tiebreak too. It made me wonder how he had gotten that far. Mentally it was just a poor performance.

All Murray basically did was play solid and Troicki imploded. The same can be said for the final which Murray won 6-3, 6-4. Almost like clockwork Anderson dropped serve at 3-4 in the opening set, hitting a disaster of a forehand volley to give Murray the break. After the first set, I left the match because I knew there was only one outcome possible. Not to take anything away from Murray. He was quite impressive all week. He seems to be more aggressive with his backhand which is important for him.

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I’ve always thought he needs to go after that shot more, especially the cross court one. Murray is at least a smart player, whereas Troicki and Anderson seemed brainless. He plays the important points tough. He has great anticipation and court awareness too. He was expected to win the title, and he did well to live up to that expectation. I just get frustrated when I watch other players, wondering to myself why they can’t have the same anticipation and commitment as Murray on the big points.

But that’s what makes the difference between winners and losers. Murray is for sure one of the favorites for Wimbledon. He’s had an extremely solid year so far. Clay is his worst surface and he almost beat Djokovic in the French semis. I think as long as he stays aggressive he is one of the big favorites for Wimbledon, if not the favorite. At the French he was already outplaying Djokovic from the baseline in the fourth and fifth sets, and on grass it will be a much easier task.

  • Federer Wins 8th Title in Halle

So yesterday Federer defeated Karlovic 7-6(3), 7-6(4) in a match which I found quite boring, mainly due to Karlovic’s poor returning. He is probably the worst returner of serve in the sport. For one thing he slices all backhand returns, and then he makes the criminal mistake of missing them off of second serves on break points. It’s bad enough to chip the backhand off of second serves. The very least you can do is get it over the net and into the court. That said, Federer just did what was needed.

He held his serve and won the tiebreaks. It was expected that he would win anyway, given his 12-1 record against Karlovic before the match. Then today he played Seppi in the final who had a second consecutive withdrawal against him when Nishikori withdrew at 1-4 yesterday. This gave Federer a second chance to get revenge for the Australian Open loss which he did 7-6(1), 6-4, after beating Seppi in Indian Wells earlier this year. Seppi was playing well like he did in Australia but this time Federer actually played normal and won.

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Seppi had two break points at 40-15 late in the first set, but Federer served two aces and then got a lucky net cord. But at least he was quite clutch on a few baseline points too. His forehand was weak in the first set from where he made several unforced errors. His forehand started improving in the tie-break which proved to be no contest as Seppi conceded the first set with a double fault. Federer upped his level in the second set and at 5-4 you could smell the break coming after a couple of long games on the Seppi serve.

The match point was a nice conclusion as Federer hit an overhead winner from the baseline after a long rally. This is now the tournament at which Federer has won the most titles as opposed to Wimbledon and Dubai where he has seven titles at each. It’s also his fourth title of the year after winning Brisbane, Dubai, and Istanbul. Not bad considering this is his second ATP 500 title of the year. It was also his 86th title overall. Still creeping up to that 100 mark but it will be tough to get there.

  • What Does This Mean for Wimbledon?

With the two biggest grass courts events before Wimbledon out of the way, what can we say if anything about the favorites for Wimbledon? I already said what I think about Murray’s chances. As for Federer winning Halle again it’s obviously an encouraging sign. But if I was a Fedfan I wouldn’t get overly excited because this doesn’t mean he is going to win Wimbledon. He won Halle in 2013 too and lost in the second round of Wimbledon. You’d think he will surely do better than second round though.

2013 was overall a bad year with only one title for Federer. Now he has already won four titles and he has been playing well. The biggest problem for him is still his forehand which lacks penetration and accuracy. Last year when he lost to Djokovic at Wimbledon that was probably the big difference. Against the likes of Seppi he can get away with his serve alone, but against returners and defenders like Djokovic or Murray he needs that something extra to end points with.

Last year Federer hardly had a right to force a fifth set. Had it not been Wimbledon which means everything to Federer it would have been over in four. Back in 2012 when he won his last major at Wimbledon he was still playing with his old racquet and his forehand was still good. That time he was the one who defeated Djokovic in four sets, although admittedly the indoor court may have helped. Either way he decided to change his racquet and to improve his backhand and volleys at the expense of his forehand.

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I’m not sure how much his serve improved. It was always good. Maybe it improved marginally. I think the way in which he beat Seppi today will help his confidence anyway. It was mentally tough and he had to be clutch, and like I said his forehand improved as the match went along. So this is the best possible preparation for Wimbledon. I don’t know if he is as big a favorite as Djokovic and Murray, but he is certainly among the favorites. And, of course, the draw will also play a role.

It would be tough for him if he has to beat Murray and Djokovic in succession to win the title. So he’d want Murray in Djokovic’s half. Stan could pose a danger too if he catches fire, but Murray is a bigger danger. And then there is the Nadal factor who you never know about. His serve could suddenly ignite again out of nowhere and could make him a threat. As the world #10 he could end up in Federer’s quarter so that Federer could potentially have to play Nadal, Murray, and Djokovic to win the title.

But that is unlikely. I like Federer’s chances to make semis at least and then we will see from there. As for Djokovic I kind of like that he is not playing any warm-up events. It’s like he is saying I’m the best and I don’t need to play warm-up events to win Wimbledon. I think after the French Open final loss this break is good for him anyway. Just to spend some time away from it all with his family for moral support. No doubt he will have a little extra motivation now to set right what happened in Paris…

  • Highlights

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNCdY0o4r3k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOFcx5G5ktI

The is in your court.

The is in your court.