Posts Tagged ‘Milos Raonic’

Kei Nishikori vs. Milos Raonic 

This is sort of like George Foreman vs. Floyd Mayweather.  One player hits heavy shots and blasts away with punishing power generated by a powerful frame.  The other player generates power through exquisite timing.  In a boxing match, I would take Foreman over Mayweather because no one in boxing can give up that much weight and beat a fighter who knows what he is doing.  Fortunately for Nishikori, he does not have to fight Raonic.  He gets to play tennis.

[youtune=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITshFHF3LgI]

My Prediction: Kei Nishikori d. Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-7, 6-2.  

Andy Murray vs. Milos Raonic

Milos just reached his second ever Masters 1000 final.  Andy Murray won 3 titles after the US Open.  Oddly, both come into this match giving a vibe that they need to prove something.  Raonic leads their head-to-head series 3-1. I don’t think this data means a lot.  If Murray is playing well, he is a better player than Raonic at this stage of each man’s career.  Murray boasts a superior return game, a better backhand and a lot more feel around the court. Raonic has a superior serve and can generate a lot of power on his forehand if he has time to do so.  I appreciate Milos’ professionalism under Ljubicic.  Raonic has made a lot of obvious strides in 2014, but beating Andy Murray in London may be too tall of a task at this point.

My prediction: Murray d. Raonic 6-3, 6-4

Roger Federer vs. Milos Raonic

This match is more interesting than I would have imagined prior to Paris.  Milos beat Roger for the first time in their most recent meeting.  At Cincinnati and Wimbledon, Federer dominated Milos.  I think the match-up favors Roger in almost every category with the exceptions of service prowess and brute power on Milos’ inside-out forehand.  This surface should benefit Milos’ power game as well.

Raonic had a spot in London on the line in Paris.  Roger has won the World Tour Finals 6 times.  I think Roger will be fully rested and dialed into this match.  Therefore, I predict Roger Federer wins this match 6-3, 7-6.

Tennis Power Ranking 2014 #13

  1. Novak Djokovic – Nole looked like himself for the first time since Wimbledon.  That is bad news for the field in London.
  2. Roger Federer – Roger won Basel since the last power ranking.  He also lost to Milos Raonic in Paris despite thrashing Milos at Wimbledon and Masters Cincinnati.  Roger has played quite well since Roland Garros. London calls.

  3. Kei Nishikori - He was a semifinalist in Paris and won in Tokyo. I placed a solid line between Kei and the top two as there is a major mess outside of Roger and Nole right now.  I have Kei tentatively at #3.
  4. Andy Murray – Andy has won 3 titles since the US Open ended.  He has yet to cash in a big win vs. Novak, Roger or Rafa, but he’s playing well again.  Change since last ranking + 2
  5. Rafael Nadal – He played 1/2 of a season and could be argued to have had the second or third best year in 2014.  Rafa’s health is enigmatic, but his play is not.
  6. Milos Raonic – Milos has yet to dial in his best tennis in the biggest matches of his career, but he beat Federer and Berdych to claim the final slot in London.  Change since last ranking +3
  7. Tomas Berdych – He finished strong, especially in Stockholm, and acquitted himself well throughout 2014. Change since last ranking +3 
  8. Marin Cilic – He played well to pick up the Kremlin Cup, but skipping Paris strikes me as odd.  Change since last ranking -4
  9. David Ferrer - He did not qualify, but no one can say he did not play well down the stretch.  Change since last ranking – not ranked
  10. Stanislas Wawrinka – Stan strikes me as a player who could turn it on and be a threat in London, but his recent results have been poor by his standards.  The Swiss Davis Cup team has to hope he snaps out of it before 2014 closes. Change since last ranking -2

Biggest Mover – Marin Cilic dropped 4 spots

Dropped Out of the Poll - Gilles Simon

Entered the PollDavid Ferrer

  1. Novak Djokovic has strengthened his claim to the #1 ranking.  More importantly, he looked like himself for the first time since Wimbledon.  Nole is on the cusp of a 4th year finished at #1 and a 4th WTF.  London should be fun.
  2.  Milos Raonic shook off one-sided losses to Federer at Wimbledon and Cincinnati to secure his London spot.  Still, Milos has yet to find his better form in his biggest matches.  His two Masters 1000 finals appearances and one Grand Slam semifinal appearance have resulted in thrashings.
  3. Tomas Berdych acquitted himself well throughout 2014.
  4. Marin Cilic’ decision to not play Paris may pay off in London, but I also think David Ferrer would have had a gripe if he had passed Cilic’s ranking total.
  5. Andy Murray has rounded into form, but his one-sided losses to Nole in Beijing and Paris show that he is not at his Wimbledon 2012-Wimbledon 2013 form yet.
  6. Plus One – Caorline Wozniacki ran a great time at the New York Marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon despite it being her first stint at that distance.  She also raised awareness and money for a good cause called Team for Kids.

Predicted Winners in BOLD

4 Heavy Weight Prize Fights Big Time Matches on Tap

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [9] vs. Andy Murray (GBR) [8] - Tsonga’s conquest of Toronto and Murray’s first round cramping make this close to a 50-50 match.  Murray even gave up a break lead in the 3rd set to let Tsonga off of the hook.  I still think Murray has more game and therefore is favored by the slightest of margins.

Kei Nishikori (JPN) [10] vs. Milos Raonic (CAN) [5] – Milos is 1-2 in his career vs. Kei, but he won their most recent match at Wimbledon.  Milos also had a better hard court summer with a win in DC and solid finishes in Toronto and Cincinnati.  Based on form and recent history, the big serving Canadian is my pick.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) [22] – Novak needs to play better than he did in Toronto or Cincy to beat Kohlschreiber.  Evidence suggests that Nole is improving and that means he’s the favorite for this title even with a tough second week draw.

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) [3] vs. Tommy Robredo (ESP) [16] – Robredo will make Stan beat him.  If Stan is on, he should win.  Robredo’s consistency will force Stran to play at a level we have not seen from him since Wimbledon.  In picking Robredo, I am betting Stan is not sharp or not sharp for enough patches  to win this match.   

Predicted Winners in BOLD
8 A. Murray vs. M. Bachinger – Murray would like a quick win to put any concerns about cramping further behind him.
31 F. Verdasco vs. A. Kuznetsov - Verdasco is fit and had a day of rest, but I think round 1 probably took something out of him and Kuznetsov is a quality opponent.  Therefore, I am predicting a mild upset.
N. Kyrgios vs. A. Seppi – In a battle of youth versus veteran, I am leaning toward youth.
5 M. Raonic vs. P. Gojowczyk – The Canadian powerbroker should win.
16 T. Robredo vs. S. Bolelli – This is an interesting match and is well worth watching, but I think Robredo’s fitness makes the difference.
B. Coric vs.V. Estrella Burgos
23 L. Mayer vs. M. Ebden – Mayer’s grinder mentality is fun to see in person.
1 N. Djokovic vs. P. Mathieu – Mathieu is very fit and a veteran, but Novak should be in no danger.
9 J. Tsonga vs. A. Nedovyesov – The King of Toronto wins.
P. Carreno Busta vs. B. Paire
13 J. Isner vs. J. Struff – Isner and Kohlschreiber must have yet another 3rd round tilt.
10 K. Nishikori vs. P. AndujarMATCH OF THE DAY ALERT – These guys should get after it with a lot of entertaining baseline exchanges.
22 P. Kohlschreiber vs. M. Llodra – This is an interesting match, but bring on Isner.
28 G. Garcia-Lopez vs. S. Querrey - Querrey with a much needed mild upset.
Predicted Winners in BOLD
A Great Slate of Day Matches
If you have tickets, they are truly valuable, and I envy you.
Night Session Predictions at the Bottom
16 T. Robredo vs. E. Roger-Vasselin – This should be a good match, but Robredo’s fitness level makes him hard to beat in three out of five set matches so he gets my nod.  Robredo is defending a lot of ranking points at the US Open, but I doubt the veteran will be fazed by that.
B. Kavcic vs. D. Young – Young has been pretty solid in 2014 so I think he will win a winnable match.
T. Bellucci vs. N. Mahut – A lefty who hits huge topspin not named Rafa vs. a veteran who plays old school net rushing tennis.  It should be fun, but I think Mahut will sneak out a win.
J. McGee vs. A. Nedovyesov – Flip a coin?
 3 S. Wawrinka vs. J. Vesely – The 2014 Australian Open champion and #3 seed could win the whole thing or could lose in the first round.
P. Carreno Busta vs. A. Beck
31 F. Verdasco vs. B. Rola – Does hot sauce have any kick left?  I’m not sure, but he should win this match.
M. Bachinger vs. R. Stepanek – The worm and Czechmate  (make of that what you will) should advance.
S. Bolelli vs. V. Pospisil – This should be a lot of fun to watch if you will be at the event.  New York will have its share of Can-con during the fortnight.
8 A. Murray vs. R. Haase – Hasse is dangerous, but Murray’s return neutralizes his best weapon.
9 J. Tsonga vs. J. Monaco – Tsonga does not get an easy draw despite winning Toronto.
23 L. Mayer vs. A. Montanes – This match should be filled with punishing physical rallies.  If one has tickets, be sure to watch this match.  Still, Mayer is a player who tends to come through when he’s favored.
M. Ebden vs. T. Kamke – This is another fun match.  I wish I was in Flushing Meadows tomorrow instead of teaching in Kentucky.  (Redacted for the purposes of continued employment)
S. Stakhovsky vs. A. Seppi – Prego
21 M. Youzhny vs. N. Kyrgios – MATCH of the DAY!   vs. This starts at 11 AM!  I think Kyrgios is not 100% healthy so Youzhny gets my nod.
24  J. Benneteau vs. B. Paire – This should be another awesome match for a fan.
Evening Session Matches
[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Diego Schwartzman (ARG) – Nole rolls

Taro Daniel (JPN) vs. [5] Milos Raonic (CAN) – Milos in the 130s will advance.

Michael Llodra (FRA) vs. Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) – Llodra had a nice summer season so I think he wins here.
Bradley Klahn (USA) vs. Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) 
Alejandro Falla (COL) vs. Jeremy Chardy (FRA) [30] - Chardy should win, but Falla is no pushover.
Peter Gojowczyk (GER) vs. Benjamin Becker (GER) – Becker is not going to beat himself so he gets my nod.

Early Thoughts

Mats Wilander once roughly said that no one should predict a Grand Slam title for a player until he wins his first because breaking through at a slam is different than winning a 250, 500 or 1000 level event.  I will take a look at the men who have already won major titles.

My preliminary view is that Roger Federer, aside from his first match and a possible quarter versus Dimitrov, has about as favorable of a draw as he could hope for and he has a 19-2 match record since Roland Garros.  Federer may not be the outright favorite, but this draw is set up well for him.  Novak Djokovic is ideally suited for this surface, but is 1-4 in US Open finals.  A second US Open title coupled with 4 Australian Open titles, 4 US Open runner-up finishes, and many hard court Masters 1000 titles would help Nole continue to climb the ladder of the best hard court champions.  His draw has done him no favors and his play in Toronto and Cincinnati will not have anyone in hyper-intimidated mode, but Novak is #1 in the world for a reason.  Andy Murray could reverse the entire script for his 2014 campaign with a second US Open title. Facing Tsonga and Djokovic to even reach the semifinal round is not ideal, but at some point a player has to beat big names to win a title.  Lleyton Hewitt will need to cash a big Czech to get out of the first round, but if he does, the bottom half of the draw is not as loaded as the top half.  A quarterfinal finish would be a big accomplishment for Rusty at this stage of his career.  Stanislas Wawrinka is in the tougher half of the draw and his results have been fairly uneven since he won Monte Carlo.  Still, if the Swiss bully gets his game going he could win this title.

Who Could Break Through?

Grigor Dimitrov had his chances versus Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon semifinal round and pushed Rafael Nadal for 3 sets in the Australian Open quarterfinal round before wilting in the 4th set.  Milos Raonic lacks instinctive movement, but Ivan Lendl overcame that.  Milos is 11-3 in slams this year and has been quite consistent in Masters 1000 events.  Federer dealt him one-sided losses at Wimbledon and Cincinnati, but each man would have to win 6 matches for Milos to have a NY date with Fed.  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Nole, Murray, Dimitrov and Federer consecutively to win Toronto and only dropped one set in those four showdowns.  He is a player to watch, but his draw is no easier than it was in Toronto.

Who are the Dangerous Floaters?

I define a floater as someone who is unseeded and unlikely to win the tournament, but who could pull a big upset and/or make a deep run in the draw.  Tennis matches are immeasurably  easier to win if one can break his opponent’s serve.  Most of the floaters have an elephant gun serve.  Here are thetwo most obvious big serving floaters: Jerzy Janowicz and Ivo Karlovic.  Other dangerous players include: Mikhail Kukushkin, Benoit Paire, Nick Kyrgios, Vasek Pospisil, Jack Sock, Lleyton Hewitt, Teymuraz Gabashvili, Dominic Thiem, Federico Delbonis, Bernard Tomic, Dustin Brown, Denis Istomin, Jurgen Melzer and Marcel Granollers.

Nole’s Quarter

This is easily the hardest quarter in the draw.  Aside from Nole, Murray and Tsonga players such as “Mr. Variety” Philipp Kohlschreiber, big serving John Isner and Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco lurk.

Prediction: Nole d. Murray in 4 sets to advance to the semifinal round

Stan’s Quarter

Youzhny and Kyrgios should be a must see first round match.  If Nishikori can regain his Madrid and Miami form, he could reach the semifinal round.  However, I think Stan benefits from a 3 out of 5 set format, and Milos Raonic has been so consistent in Masters 1000 events this year.  I predict seeding hold up and those two facing off in the quarters.

Prediction: Milos Raonic d. Stanislas Wawrinka via many tiebreak victories

Ferrer’s Quarter

I could see this quarter producing a lot of interesting results.  6th seed Tomas Berdych will need to be focused to fend off 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt who beat Juan Martin del Potro in the 1st round last year.  Berdych will face either Darcis or Kilzan just to reach the 3rd round.  Steve Johnson could add to a nice hard court season with a win or two in this quarter.  Bernard Tomic vs. Dustin Brown in the first round should be awesome if solely for their different levels of affect on the court.  If Kevin Anderson has recovered from a tough loss to Dimitrov in Toronto, he could do a lot of damage.  I would imagine players feel like facing Gilles Simon is a bit like going to the dentist.  Jerzy Janowicz showed signs of life in Cincinnati by beating Dimitrov and then was runner-up in Winston-Salem.  Marin Cilic has seemingly lost a bit of momentum, but is still very dangerous.  David Ferrer played well in Toronto and Cincinnati, but has not had his best year in 2014.  Who comes out?  I have no idea, but I have to make a prediction.

Prediction: Marin Cilic d. Tomas Berdych to reach the semifinal round in a rematch of their dark match at Wimbledon

Federer’s Quarter

First, I wonder what Ryan Harrison did to consistently draw seeded players at majors.  Dimitrov may not like seeing Harrison in the first round, but as our friends at 538 point out Harrison’s draws make him the unlucky 1 percent of players receiving repeatedly bad draws.  Roger Federer ought to reach the quarterfinal round.  The Fed has a tricky first round match and potentially tricky 3rd round match, but he is in good form and favored. Dimitrov should be waiting if he can navigate a manageable draw.  There the second career meeting between hitting partners, friends and business partners will likely take place.  Can Federer beat a player he has inspired in many ways?

Prediction: Roger Federer d. Grigor Dimitrov in 4 tight sets

From there, I would predict Nole to beat Milos and Federer to beat Marin.  A Wimbledon rematch should go 4 or 5 sets.  Who do I think will win the final if this scenario plays out?  If Nole is focused and not spent, he’d be favored, but Roger is already in good form.  If the match were today, I’d take Roger in 4.   

 

I was fortunate enough to be able to see the evening session semifinal matches of Ana Ivanovic vs. Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer vs. Milos Raonic.  Here were some impressions and things I noticed.

  1. If Ana Ivanovic is 6’1″, Maria Sharapova is far taller than her listed height of 6’2″.
  2. Sharapova’s grunting gets louder on big points.
  3. I saw writers for major media outlets taking photos with their phones from the photographer area when undoubtedly their publications had professional photographers taking pictures as well.
  4. Maria Sharapova played with little spark for the first half of the match, Ana Ivanovic lost focus after jumping out to a 6-2, 4-0 lead, and then Maria Sharapova’s serve abandoned her when trying to close out Ivanovic.
  5. Maria Sharapova catches her toss more often than any player I have ever seen.
  6. Maria Sharapova and Ivanovic shared what could be politely described as a brief handshake after the match ended.
  7. Roger Federer received rock star treatment from the Cincinnati crowd when he was introduced.
  8. I have seen Ivanisevic, Karlovic, Rusedski,Roddick and Isner serve live.  Milos Raonic serves consistently harder than all of them.  His first serve clocks in at 134 mph or higher unless he throws a change-up crazy kicker.  I’d still say Goran’s was the most effective serve I have ever seen.
  9. When Milos Raonic’s serve hits the net it sounds like he might snap the let cord.
  10. Roger Federer’s combination of balance and ball striking is something to see live as often as possible.  I’ve seen him practice and play on multiple occasions and was still struck by just how well he does everything on court.
  11. Federer’s sneak attacks at the net make him far more dangerous than his pre-Edberg 2013 form.
  12. Federer won all 16 points on his serve in the 1st set, but struggled more on his serve in the second than Milos did … until he broke Milos to take a 5-3 lead.
  13. Milos’ consistency in Masters 1000 events is to be commended and is a big reason he is on the cusp of being ranked in the top 5.
  14. Roger Federer reaching 4 Masters 1000 final rounds at 32/33 years of age is impressive.
  15. May we all age as well as Stefan Edberg and Mary Jo Fernandez have.