Masters Canada 2016: Quarterfinal Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

[2] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs.  Kevin Anderson (RSA) H2H – This could be a really good match.  I think Stan will win because his game is more well rounded.  Still, Anderson might avenge last year’s US Open loss to Stan.  

[3] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) H2H – Grigor has shown some signs of life in Toronto.  If the Bulgarian can push Kei back behind the baseline during rallies and take care of his serve, this pick will look foolish.  I think Kei has fewer “ifs” in his path to victory so I will go with the 3rd seed.

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [5] Tomas Berdych (CZE)  – I feel a bit like Berdych is Charlie Brown trying to kick a football versus Novak.  He probably isn’t going to get there, but he keeps trying.  

[4] Milos Raonic (CAN) vs. [10] Gael Monfils (FRA)  H2H – *MATCH OF THE DAY* If I were in Toronto, this is the match I’d most want to see in the quarterfinal round.  Milos Raonic had a strong grass court season that transformed his position on tour into that of a major contender.  He is also playing in Canada.  Gael Monfils won a title in DC by breaking an unbreakable opponent in the final.  He has posted strong wins in Toronto including taking down David Goffin in the round of 16.  Both guys have momentum and weapons.  It should be fun seeing both Raonic trying to win points at the net and Monfils attempting passes.

Masters Canada 2016: July 28th ATP Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

[3] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. Rajeev Ram (USA) H2H – Ram could win, but he is certainly not the favorite.

[2] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. [16] Jack Sock (USA) H2H – Stan should win, but typically his Masters 1000 results are pretty scattered so a Sock win should not be discounted.

[4] Milos Raonic (CAN) vs. [Q] Jared Donaldson (USA) H2H – Not in my  house! (?)

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [Q] Radek Stepanek (CZE) H2H – If Novak knocked the rust off yesterday, this could get ugly for the Worm.

[12] Bernard Tomic (AUS) vs. Kevin Anderson (RSA) H2H – Anderson is due to have a nice 2016 result.

[7] David Goffin (BEL) vs. [10] Gael Monfils (FRA) H2H *Match of the Day* These two should produce some great tennis.  I like Gael due to his momentum.

Ivo Karlovic (CRO) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) H2H – Could Grigor be finding some form?

[5] Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs. [Q] Ryan Harrison (USA) H2H – Harrison did well in Washington, DC and has done quite well in Toronto.  If he can boost his ranking enough to get out of needing to qualify for most events that would be a big plus, I do see him being bounced by the Big Czech today though.

Masters Canada 2016: July 27th ATP Predictions

Djokovic is Holding Court Again

Predicted Winners in BOLD

[3] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. [Q] Dennis Novikov (USA) H2H – Kei should win if he is healthy.

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Gilles Muller (LUX) H2H – Some questions are floating around regarding Novak’s right shoulder and/or elbow.  If he is hampered when serving, this match could become more complicated.

[4] Milos Raonic (CAN) vs. Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) H2H – I like Milos to reach at least the semifinal round in Toronto this year.

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs. [WC] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) H2H – The young man has a great chance to upset Dimitrov and advance.

[9] John Isner (USA) vs. [Q] Ryan Harrison (USA) H2H – I like Isner as he has more or less been the US #1 and Harrison may be tired from his exploits in DC and Toronto.  Still, Harrison seems to be rebounding on tour and is heading toward the top 75.

[6] Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs. Kevin Anderson (RSA) H2H – If Thiem can break serve once or twice he should win this match as Anderson’s serve is the only area of competitive disadvantage for Thiem.

[8] Marin Cilic (CRO) vs. Ivo Karlovic (CRO) H2H – This should be fun for the Croatian contingent.  I expect several tiebreak sets.

[10] Gael Monfils (FRA) vs. Vasek Pospisil (CAN)  H2H – Pospisil’s serve makes him dangerous, but Monfils is playing quite well and should win.  

[Q] Radek Stepanek (CZE) vs. [WC] Peter Polansky (CAN) H2H – The worm should win this match.

[12] Bernard Tomic (AUS) vs. [WC] Steven Diez (CAN)  H2H – Tomic has the talent to be a factor in many events.  Can he make good on his talent?

[16] Jack Sock (USA) vs. Donald Young (USA) H2H – Young being a lefty will help him in terms of directing rallies either away from the Sock forehand or pulling Sock out of comfortable rallying positions and patterns.

[13] Lucas Pouille (FRA) vs. Rajeev Ram (USA) H2H – The pride of Indiana wins again?

[7] David Goffin (BEL) vs. Sam Querrey (USA) H2H – Querrey’s serve and forehand give him at least a puncher’s chance, but Goffin should prevail.

Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs. [Q] Jared Donaldson (USA) H2H – Fabio should win this match.

Tennis Power Ranking 2016: Murray Cuts Novak’s Lead

The 7th Tennis Power Ranking of 2016

  1. Novak Djokovic – Nole was the first man since 1992 to win the Australian Open and French Open in the same year.  Novak adds Masters 1000 titles at Indian Wells, Miami, and Madrid to his impressive 2016 results.  Novak’s title at Doha is worth 250 points and his runner-up finish in Rome is worth 600 points.  Amazingly his lead has shrunk by 2410 points since Roland Garros ended.  
  2. Andy Murray – Murray’s 5th Queen’s Club title and 2nd Wimbledon title have shaken the make-up of the tennis year.  Amazingly Murray’s 2400 points won at 2016 Grand Slam events  outpaces Novak’s Grand Slam total this year.  Murray also has a lead over Djokovic among 500 level tournaments.  Djokovic leads among Masters 1000 and 250 level events.  
  3. Milos Raonic – Raonic’s comeback win over David Goffin from 2 sets down plus his 5 set showdown with Roger Federer were two huge steps forward.  He played a somewhat vanilla match versus Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final, but he didn’t roll over.  Milos also reached the championship round at Queen’s Club.  Raonic picked up an impressive 1500 ranking points from those two events.  Change since last ranking + 7
  4. Tomas Berdych – The Big Czech reached the final 8 at Roland Garros and the final 4 at Wimbledon.  At the moment the tour is in a bit of chaos, Berdych’s bankable solid showings place him pretty highly on this list.  Change since last ranking + 3
  5. Dominic Thiem – Thiem followed up his superb clay season with a grass title in Stuttgart and a couple of disappointing losses at Halle and Wimbledon.  Thiem still seems to be on an upward trend, and some rest will do him good.  Change since last ranking – 3
  6. Roger Federer – Roger hit reset on 2016 by skiping Roland Garros and getting a jump start on his grass court season.  Federer’s results were pretty solid.  He reached the semifinal round at Stuttgart, Halle, and Wimbledon.  He should have held serve to force a 4th set tiebreak in the Wimbledon semifinal.  He also likely should have been broken from 0-40 in the 3rd set of his match versus Marin Cilic.  Change since last ranking – not ranked
  7. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – Jo-Wilfried was the only player to take sets off of Andy Murray at Wimbledon.  His health is a question mark, but Tsonga can still bring it.  Change since last ranking – not ranked
  8. Richard Gasquet – Gasquet had his health fail him during his match versus Tsonga.  Like Tsonga, when healthy Gasquet can still bring it.
  9. David Goffin – He played reasonably well against Raonic in the round of 16.  Had he finished the job vs. Raonic, he may have been in the semifinal round as Sam Querrey would have been an underdog versus Goffin.  Change since last ranking – 3
  10. Stan Wawrinka – Stan’s title in Geneva and semifinal finish at Roland Garros keep him in the top 10, but his anemic loss to Juan Martin del Potro at Wimbledon did not help his standing  Change since last ranking – 6

Biggest Gain – Milos Raonic + 7

Biggest Drop – Stan Wawrinka – 6

Entered the Poll – Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Dropped out of the Poll – Kei Nishikori and Rafael Nadal (if healthy, Rafa is in the top 10)  

Wimbledon 2016: Andy Murray vs. Milos Raonic Championship Prediction

Andy Murray vs. Milos Raonic

Andy Murray’s 2012 Wimbledon runner-up finish, his 2012 gold medal victory on that same court, and his 2013 Wimbledon triumph garnered a lot of attention.  The 2016 Wimbledon final carries little of that historical baggage.  A second Murray title would be significant in the UK, but this match can be more about the present rather than the past. This should be good for both Andy Murray and Milos Raonic.  Murray will have less pressure.  Raonic will not have to worry about facing rabidly jingoistic crowd.

The Steady Climb of Milos

Milos Raonic possesses one of the 5 best serves in men’s tennis.  Milos’ serve is the basis of his game.  In his time on tour, Milos has worked hard at incrementally improving through hard work.  Raonic’s forehand and net play are obviously stronger than they were earlier in his pro career.  His fitness and movement have improved as well.  Raonic has exhibited strategic and tactical growth.  Raonic has recently begun to unleash a bit more on his second serves and manage sets in a similar manner to Pete Sampras’ hold and wait for an opening approach.  Raonic won Brisbane and pushed Andy Murray to 5 sets in the Australian Open semifinal.  At Queen’s Club, Milos again pushed Andy Murray hard before coming up short.  Will the third time be the charm for Milos vs. Andy in 2016?

Andy Murray’s 5 Consecutive Tournament Finals

Andy Murray is in the middle of one of the best stretches of his career.  Andy lost the final of the Madrid Masters in 3 sets to Novak Djokovic.  He avenged his Madrid loss with a straight set win over Djokovic in the final of the Rome Masters event.  At Roland Garros, Andy Murray lost in 4 sets to Novak Djokovic in the championship match.  As mentioned, Andy Murray defeated Milos Raonic in 3 sets to take the title.  Now, Murray is in his fifth consecutive tournament final by virtue of winning 6 matches at Wimbledon.  This 5 tournament stretch has resulted in at least 4500 ranking points for Andy Murray.  A victory over Raonic will lead to Murray earning 5300 points across these 5 events.  This would create a real race with Novak Djokovic for finishing 2016 as the #1 ranked player.

What Will Likely Happen

I don’t see this match as presenting a lot of surprises.  Andy Murray’s strong return of serve will be pitted against Milos Raonic’s massive serve.  Conversely, Murray will need to take great care of his own serve due to a single break being enough for Milos to win a given set.  Raonic will need to finish points at the net when he puts Murray into a defensive position.  This is so because the Canadian will undoubtedly lose valuable points if he only tries to win points off of his ground strokes after hurting Murray during a rally.

Keys to winning will involve the following:

  • How well Raonic finishes points after gaining an upper hand
  • How well Murray dictates play preventing Milos from setting the entire agenda for the match
  • How well Raonic handles being in his first major final
  • How well Murray hits his second serve
  • How big Raonic hits his second serve

My Prediction

My head is pretty clearly picking Murray to win.  My gut says this is close to a 50-50 match.

Andy Murray d. Milos Raonic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5

Confidence in my pick – moderate

Wimbledon 2016: Roger Federer vs. Milos Raonic Semifinal Prediction

Roger Federer vs. Milos Raonic

My first prediction is that this will be closer than their 2014 semifinal match was.  That match was a simple run of Federer breaking Raonic’s serve once per set.  Raonic seemed nervous, and Roger took advantage by nearly waltzing into the Wimbledon final.  Roanic made a much better accounting of himself at this year’s Australian Open in which he went 5 sets in his second major semifinal.  Roger enters the 2016 Wimbledon championships seeking his first title of 2016.  This is true in part because Milos Raonic defeated Roger Federer in the championship round of Brisbane 250 level event in January.

What to Expect

Milos Raonic brought Carlos Moya onto his team after parting ways with Ivan Ljubicic  in late 2015.  Carlos Moya was not known for attacking the net despite having solid hands at the net, but Moya’s impact was obvious as January saw Raonic attack the net with greater frequency.  This led to a Brisbane title and injury hampered Australian Open semifinal loss to Andy Murray.  John McEnroe has recently joined Milos’ team and seems to be encouraging bigger second serves and embracing the moment.

Roger Federer hired Ivan Ljubicic after his coaching relationship with Stefan Edberg came to an end (Edberg lives in London and has been in Roger’s box at Wimbledon along with Ljubicic).  Roger’s tennis has been largely similar to what one would expect from him in 2016 despite injuries to his back and knee cutting into his schedule.  Roger Federer has yet to use SABR, and it is doubtful he will try it against Milos’ huge serve.

Both players would like to dictate with effective serving (power and placement being emphasized in different ways by each), strong forehands, and judicious approaches to the net.  Milos Raonic does not defend as well as Roger Federer does, but good luck making Milos defend when he is serving.  Milos Raonic may try do do some of what Cilic did versus Federer in terms of attacking Roger’s serves, but I don’t see Roanic’s return game as being in the same style as Marin Cilic’s return game.  Raonic will hope to pressure Federer into bad service games based upon easy holds from Milos taking a toll on Roger’s psyche.  If that fails, Milos will look to cash in during tiebreaks and late set situations.  Roger will hope to keep the ball low and make Milos defend when possible.  If Roger can dominate his service points and keep Milos’ service points as neutral as possible, he will likely win.  Federer’s legs may be a bit rubbery after a 5 set win, but Milos’ style of play is unlikely to tax Roger’s stamina very much.

My Prediction

Roger Federer d. Milos Raonic 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6

Confidence in my pick: moderately low

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Wimbledon 2016: Gentlemen’s Singles Quarterfinal Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

Roger Federer (SUI) [3] Marin Cilic (CRO) [9] – If Cilic plays like he did in their 2014 US Open semifinal match, Federer will have to serve bigger and keep his slice low to have a chance.  If Cilic plays well but not great, Federer will need to serve well enough to prevent big man tennis from bullying him.  If Cilic plays at an average or poor level, Federer should win.  I don’t want to say that the match is on Cilic’s racquet, but Roger Federer needs to take care of his serve enough to make nuance an impact on this match.  I think Roger will do enough to win in 4 sets.  Confidence in my pick – moderately low

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [12] Andy Murray (GBR) [2] – Tsonga would never wish an injury on Richard Gasquet (especially given that Tsonga had to retire mid-match at Roland Garros in June), but Tsonga needed a light day on Monday and Tuesday off after his Sunday marathon with John Isner.  I don’t think Tsonga can win 3 sets versus Andy Murray in this match, but I do expect this match to go 4 sets.  Confidence in my pick – high

Sam Querrey (USA) [28] Milos Raonic (CAN) [6] – Sam Querrey has a good head-to-head record versus Raonic.  He also showed no sign of a letdown after pulling off a huge upset. Milos Raonic just recorded his first ever comeback from trailing 2 sets.  The powerful Canadian seems to be playing with a bit more free swinging on his second serve.  Both men can and will serve a lot of aces.  Querrey moves a little bit more naturally than Raonic, but Raonic hits a heavier ball on his ground strokes.  I think Milos Raonic will win this match by winning at least 2 tiebreak sets.  Confidence in my pick – moderately high

Tomas Berdych (CZE) [10] Lucas Pouille (FRA) [32] – Berdych is the only quarterfinalist who will play without a full day of rest.  Still, his workman like 5th set demonstrates that he has been in tough spots in the past.  I think Berdych will be less nervous and play better tennis than his promising opponent.  I think Berdych wins in 3 or 4 sets.  Confidence in my pick – moderately high

Wimbledon 2016: Gentlemen’s Singles Round of 16 Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

This tournament will be shaken up in the round of 16 and settle into some sort of pattern when the quarterfinal round emerges.

[3] Roger Federer (SUI) v Steve Johnson (USA) – Johnson could win this match.  Federer however has to be happy with his path to the final 8.

[2] Andy Murray (GBR)[15] Nick Kyrgios (AUS) – Andy needs to make sure Kyrgios doesn’t get a lead.  If Murray can front run, I think he wins in 3 or 4 sets.  If Murray falls behind, the pressure of being the highest seed remaining

[7] Richard Gasquet (FRA) v [12] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) – What does Tsonga have left after a long match with Isner?  Otherwise, each man has strengths that make advancing likely, but each has some weaknesses that make a loss likely.

[5] Kei Nishikori (JPN) v [9] Marin Cilic (CRO) – Kei has dominated their head-to-head. The exception was his 2014 loss to Cilic in a 3 of 5 set Grand Slam final.  I think Cilic’s form at Queen’s Club and his overall power advantage help him advance.

[6] Milos Raonic (CAN) v [11] David Goffin (BEL) – Again, I take the bigger hitter versus a smaller baseline hugger who takes the ball early.  If Milos takes care of his serve, he should be able to bully a few breaks out of Goffin and advance.

[10] Tomas Berdych (CZE) v Jiri Vesely (CZE) – Berdych typically wins the matches he is supposed to win.  If Berdych gets a break or two of serve, he should beat Vesely.

[19] Bernard Tomic (AUS) v [32] Lucas Pouille (FRA) – Tomic seems to be on the rebound. I could see Pouille winning this match, but I think he is the underdog.

[28] Sam Querrey (USA)  v Nicolas Mahut (FRA) – Querrey could have a letdown after the biggest win of his life.  Mahut has a recent win over Querrey on grass.  Mahut also won a title on grass in 2016.  I think this points toward a 4 set Mahut victory.