ScykohPlays: A Play Through of Mario Tennis

I will update this specific post with future parts of this series.  Given all of the rain in Paris, this might be a good change of pace.  Scykoh does a lot of video game reviews and play throughs.  I am not sure if this series begins due to Roland Garros taking place.  My daughter is a big fan of his reviews.  (My daughter says, “I’m super excited that Princess Peach is in this game.”)

Here is Mario Tennis Part 1

 

French Open 2016: May 31st Women’s Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

Will the Weather Hold?

Serena Williams (USA) [1] vs. Elina Svitolina (UKR) [18] – This is the last match I made a pick for in this post.  Part of me thinks Svitolina and the future arrive in a big way via an upset.  On the other hand, Serena is the defending champion and just won Rome.

Venus Williams (USA) [9] vs. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) [8] – Venus has played quite well in Paris.  I still think her run comes to an end here as Bacsinszky and clay courts are a tall mountain for Venus to climb.

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [2] vs. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) To Finish 6-2 3-0 – Shockingly I am sticking with my original pick.

Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) [12] vs. Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) – CSN is a talented player who loves dirt.  I think she wins.


Kiki Bertens (NED) vs. Madison Keys (USA) [15] – Something has to give.  Bertens is on a great run, and Keys was runner-up in Rome.  I think Keys wins due to superior firepower, but this could be a classic match that goes either way.

Simona Halep (ROU) [6] vs. Samantha Stosur (AUS) [21] To Finish 5-3 – Perhaps a little more cautiously, I am sticking with my original pick.

 

French Open 2016: May 31st Men’s Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

Will the Weather Hold?

David Goffin (BEL) [12] vs. Ernests Gulbis (LAT) – Gulbis keeps advancing despite my picking against him in every round.  Well, he is not getting my nod vs. Goffin.  The Belgian played some awesome tennis in Miami and then stumbled a bit in his transition to the clay circuit.  Those results are in the past now as he has won 3 matches in Paris and looks to have a path to the final Friday at Roland Garros.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs. Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) [14] – If Agut has a set in which he serves well and commits very few errors, he might take a set off of Novak.  I cannot see him doing this 3 times.  Novak should advance in 3 or 4 sets.

Marcel Granollers (ESP) vs. Dominic Thiem (AUT) [13] – This match is a big test for Thiem.  Granollers is a rugged baseline player who is well rested.  Thiem should win, but to do so he will have to match Granollers’ toughness.  I think Thiem does win, but I expect this to go 4 or 5 sets.

David Ferrer (ESP) [11]vs. Tomas Berdych (CZE) [7] – I keep expecting each of these two to move away from the top 10. Yet, here they are.  Berdych won their most recent encounter in Madrid 7-6, 7-5.  I don’t think that will matter much.  Ferrer is my pick in 4 sets.

 

French Open 2016: Two Clay Court Lessons I Failed to Learn

Given today’s soggy weather, I will journey into my own modest past playing USTA junior events on har-tru/green clay.  I remember two losses that could have gone the other direction had I been less stubborn on court.

Lesson from Match One – Vary Service Speeds and Placements

In the early round of an event, I drew an opponent who was roughly my equal.  My footwork on clay was never as solid as it was on hard courts (still true today).  I recall being the more powerful player and better volleyer, but my opponent was more consistent.  I had one big advantage in that I was winning a lot of free points on my serve or getting easy volleys off of a big serve.  So in my own teenage mind, I just thought keep throwing pace at him off of the serve and win.  As the match went on, I kept going for the same speed serves in two basic spots (up the T and out wide).  He eventually started getting a lot more serves back and making some of those volleys tougher with better returns.  I lost two close sets.  When we shook hands, he told me, “I’d hate to face your serve on a hard court.” His comment was the only reason I really remember the match at all.  A hard court would likely would have helped me, but by giving my opponent the same 2 looks on every first serve, I set the stage for a loss.  If a weapon becomes predictable, it had better be a weapon an opponent has no possible answer for because otherwise its relative value will shrink.  I had a good kick serve.  I could slice my serve.  I could serve the body.  I failed to do any of those things.

Lesson from Match Two – Have My Equipment Ready

 I remember this match because I had faced the same player at a hard court junior tournament a few weeks earlier.  That match was a close 3 set loss.  I felt I could avenge that result even though I was never a fan of playing on green clay.  In a similar manner to our earlier match, we split the first two sets.  I had won the 2nd set and felt I had figured him out to some extent.  I had two racquets, but one was strung in a manner that I really liked.  The other was overdue for a string job, but I so rarely broke strings I was holding out until after the tournament to get both strung the same way.  Well, I broke a string in the 3rd set and my level of play dropped.  Some of the drop was probably psychological, but I also just felt like my other racquet was dead.  Well, I lost a close 3rd set.  The crazy thing about this is I was pretty meticulous with my equipment.  I had my towel, water, extra pair of socks, and hat with me at all times.  I just took a risk on my back-up racquet that I normally would never have taken.

These seem like simple lessons.  However, if one is coaching a junior player, it may be worth finding a way to remind a teenager of the simple aspects of the sport because taking care of those can prevent some complex situations from arising on court.

The Top 10 Female French Open Champions

With today’s rainout, I give a look at the past.

Tennis Abides

The Top 10 Female French Open Champions

  1. Chris Evert – The draws Evert faced in the 1970s may not have been terribly deep, but Evert won this title 7 times with her first title coming in 1974 and her final title coming in 1986.  Evert’s final two triumphs were three set thrillers against her #1 rival Martina Navratilova.  Evert gets the top spot for rebounding and winning Roland Garros in 1985 and 1986 after Navratilova had seemingly figured her out on clay in 1984.
  2. Steffi Graf – Graf’s title haul of 6 will always carry questions about what a healthy Monica Seles would have meant as Steffi won Roland Garros in 1993, 1995, and 1996 without Seles in the draw. Still, Steffi’s 1999 run to the title places her in the second slot. Steffi won in Paris in 1987 and dominated Roland Garros in 1988. Steffi was runner-up at the…

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The Top 10 Male French Open Champions

Tennis Abides

The Top 10 Male French Open Champions

  1. Rafael Nadal – This is no surprise as Rafa has played Roland Garros 11 times and won the event 9 times!  Rafa’s athleticism, competitive nature, and massive generation of top spin allow him to play clay court tennis with brutal efficiency.  Rafa has dominated this event as no one has ever dominated Roland Garros.  He has been so dominant that the incredible numbers of the number two player on this list are not close enough to make Rafa as #1 in Paris controversial.  I don’t really have words for describing what Rafa has accomplished on the clay courts in Paris.
  2. Bjorn Borg – Bjorn Borg was also a fast athlete and  tireless competitor who hit the ball with more topspin than his contemporaries.   Borg won Roland Garros 6 times and was able to grind down even the most stout baseline players.  Borg…

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French Open 2016: May 30th Men’s Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

This is a Fun Slate of Matches

David Goffin (BEL) [12] vs. Ernests Gulbis (LAT) – Gulbis keeps advancing despite my picking against him in every round.  Well, he is not getting my nod vs. Goffin.  The Belgian played some awesome tennis in Miami and then stumbled a bit in his transition to the clay circuit.  Those results are in the past now as he has won 3 matches in Paris and looks to have a path to the final Friday at Roland Garros.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs. Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) [14] – If Agut has a set in which he serves well and commits very few errors, he might take a set off of Novak.  I cannot see him doing this 3 times.  Novak should advance in 3 or 4 sets.

Marcel Granollers (ESP) vs. Dominic Thiem (AUT) [13] – This match is a big test for Thiem.  Granollers is a rugged baseline player who is well rested.  Thiem should win, but to do so he will have to match Granollers’ toughness.  I think Thiem does win, but I expect this to go 4 or 5 sets.

David Ferrer (ESP) [11]vs. Tomas Berdych (CZE) [7] – I keep expecting each of these two to move away from the top 10. Yet, here they are.  Berdych won their most recent encounter in Madrid 7-6, 7-5.  I don’t think that will matter much.  Ferrer is my pick in 4 sets.

Read more at http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/scores/schedule/index.html#6mfDwMvqrgc2bJdD.99

French Open 2016: May 30th Women’s Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

Today’s Matches Should Be Awesome

Serena Williams (USA) [1] vs. Elina Svitolina (UKR) [18] – This is the last match I made a pick for in this post.  Part of me thinks Svitolina and the future arrive in a big way via an upset.  On the other hand, Serena is the defending champion and just won Rome.
Venus Williams (USA) [9] vs. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) [8] – Venus has played quite well in Paris.  I still think her run comes to an end here as Bacsinszky and clay courts are a tall mountain for Venus to climb.
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [2] vs. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) To Finish 6-2 3-0 – Shockingly I am sticking with my original pick.
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) [12] vs. Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) – CSN is a talented player who loves dirt.  I think she wins.
Kiki Bertens (NED) vs. Madison Keys (USA) [15] – Something has to give.  Bertens is on a great run, and Keys was runner-up in Rome.  I think Keys wins due to superior firepower, but this could be a classic match that goes either way.
Simona Halep (ROU) [6] vs. Samantha Stosur (AUS) [21] To Finish 5-3 – Perhaps a little more cautiously, I am sticking with my original pick.

Read more at http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/scores/schedule/index.html#6mfDwMvqrgc2bJdD.99

French Open 2016: Clay Court Tips – Sliding

I’ve only ever played on har-tru/green clay when it comes to softer surfaces.  Sliding has been a skill that has eluded me since I first started playing tennis in 1985.  It may be too late for me, but hopefully it is not too late for you.  I will give sliding another try this summer.  Hopefully, these videos can help all of us move better on clay.

 

French Open 2016: May 29th Men’s Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

[3] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs [22] Viktor Troicki (SRB) – Stan is on a winning streak of a sort, but I am not even sure how Troicki is here.  I keep picking against him so his camp should be glad to see I again have little faith in this Serbian player.

[5] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs [9] Richard Gasquet (FRA) – My heart says Gasquet manufactures a win with the help of the crowd.  My head says Nishikori returns too well, and Gasquet’s forehand eventually breaks down.

[8] Milos Raonic (CAN) vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) – Milos should overpower his opponent and make it to the final 8.

In terms of returning, Murray got some good sparring in for Isner last round versus Karlovic.  Each big man backs his serve up in a different manner though.

[2] Andy Murray (GBR) vs [15] John Isner (USA) – I think Murray’s return will put Isner in the spot of needing to win points with his forehand and net game.  While John can do well in those areas, I don’t see how he does well enough to win 3 sets (let alone 2) versus Murray.