Tennis Power Ranking 2016: Murray & Cilic Smiling after Rio & Cincinnati

The 9th Tennis Power Ranking 0f 2016

  1. Novak Djokovic – Novak missed Cincinnati with an injury and lost to Juan Martin del Potro in Rio.  That doesn’t mean he is not still at the top of my power ranking.  Nole won Toronto with a dodgy right arm.  If his arm is healthier in New York, expect a deep run from the world #1.

  2. Andy Murray – Murray won his second gold medal in singles and posted a runner-up finish in Cincinnati.  Murray losing ahead of the US Open means no distractions regarding a winning streak will be hovering over him.  Andy gets some needed rest this week after playing 11 matches over two weeks in two different continents.

  3. Milos Raonic – The big Canadian skipped the olympics and finished in the semifinal round at Cincinnati.  That is not a terrible exchange, but his play versus Andy Murray was quite flat in their Wimbledon rematch.

  4. Marin Cilic – After solid play on grass and at the Rio Olympics, Marin notched his biggest win since taking the 2014 US Open title.  Murray likely hopes Cilic is on Novak’s side of the US Open draw given how close their match at Queen’s Club was in addition to Cilic beating Murray at Cincinnati.  Change since last ranking – not ranked

  5. Gael Monfils – Monfils won Washington, DC, reached the semifinal round of Toronto, and played well in Rio.

  6. Kei Nishikori – Kei won a bronze medal in Rio and earned a little of Rafa’s ire.

  7. Ivo Karlovic – I am shocked to have him this high, but he won titles in Newport and Mexico, and was runner-up in Washington, DC where he held championship points.  Change since last ranking + 2

  8. Rafael Nadal – Rafa has not played a lot of singles since Roland Garros, but he seems to be alive and well.  Change since last ranking – not ranked

  9. Dominic Thiem – Thiem is much better on clay than other surfaces at this stage of his career, but his quarterfinal run in Cincinnati was a much needed bit of confidence.  Change since last ranking – 2

  10. Grigor Dimitrov – What a difference one week makes.  Grigor is not a threat for the US Open title by any means, but he now looks like a guy who could reach the round of 16 or quarterfinal round.  Change since last ranking – not ranked

Biggest Gain – Ivo Karlovic + 2

Biggest Drop – Dominic Thiem – 2

Entered the Poll – Marin Cilic, Rafael Nadal, and Grigor Dimitrov 

Dropped out of the Poll – Tomas Berdych – surgery knocks him out of the US Open, David Goffin, and Stan Wawrinka

Cincinnati 2016: ATP Semifinal Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

(1) Andy Murray VS (4) Milos Raonic – Milos has faced Andy Murray at the Australian Open semifinal, Queen’s Club final, and Wimbledon final.  In each case, Milos finished on the losing end of these encounters.  Can today be different?  It might.  Milos Raonic has increased his net attacks in 2016 to great benefit.  Raonic seems to play a very measured power game.  I think to beat Murray he may need to cut loose and simply bully/overpower Andy.  His measured style is generally good from a percentages standpoint.  However, against a player with Murray’s defensive skills, playing it safer, often just gives Andy more time to react to Milos’ natural power.  Milos could win, but Andy has not lost a match since the Roland Garros final.  Andy has also reached 6 consecutive tournament finals.  I think Andy reaches a 7th consecutive tournament final.

(12) Marin Cilic VS Grigor Dimitrov – Grigor is playing his best tennis since his promising 2014 campaign.  This display of good form has me thinking that Grigor could very well win this match.  Still, Marin is the best practitioner of big man tennis on the ATP Tour (JMDP would like to reclaim that title).  Marin may be due for some good wins given his solid form and near misses at Queen’s Club, Wimbledon, and the olympic games.

Cincinnati 2016: ATP Quarterfinal Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

Steve Johnson VS Grigor Dimitrov – I am torn on this match.  Johnson won a bronze medal in doubles and pulled a huge upset over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to secure his spot as the top ranked US male in singles.  He is basking in good vibes. Grigor Dimitrov is playing his best tennis since 2014.  Dimitrov is more talented than Johnson, but Johnson seems less likely to throw in a confusing performance.  I think Dimitrov continues his renaissance, but that thought is a 51-49% type of thought.

(12) Marin Cilic VS Borna Coric – Cilic goes from beating a man coached by a famous Croatian to facing the next big Croatian prospect.  I think Cilic wins due to savvy and familiarity.

(1) Andy Murray VS Bernard Tomic – Tomic is playing quite well in the Queen City.  I think he should model himself after Andy Murray if he truly wants to push toward a long-term stay in the top 10.

Milos Raonic VS (8) Dominic Thiem – On a hard court, I favor Milos in this battle of youngish lions.  I think Milos can hold serve more easily and perhaps force Thiem out of his ideal hitting zones due to his swings being a little too big for the faster bounces?

Cincinnati 2016: August 18th ATP Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

Grigor Dimitrov VS (2) Stan Wawrinka – Grigor appears to be playing much better than some of his earlier 2016 form.  Still, I think Stan wins the battle of one-handed backhands by serving bigger than Grigor and pushing him backward during rallies.

Borna Coric VS (3) Rafael Nadal – Coric won a gut-check match last evening after losing a break lead in the 3rd set.  I am tempted to pick him here, but I think mental fatigue is a factor given how tough that match was for Coric.

(1) Andy Murray VS Kevin Anderson – Andy would like to earn some measure of revenge for last year’s US Open loss to Anderson.

(7) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga VS Steve Johnson – I like this match-up for Johnson in the sense of keeping things close, and I hate this match-up for Johnson in terms of winning 2 sets.

(4) Milos Raonic VS (Q) Yuichi Sugita – The big Canadian should serve his way to the quarterfinal round.

(6) Tomas Berdych VS (12) Marin Cilic – The Battle of Goran 2016? I think Cilic will be extra motivated to win this match given that Berdych is now working with Ivanisevic.  I also think that Marin moves more fluidly than Berdych and that could make the difference.

Bernard Tomic VS (5) Kei Nishikori – I will stick with my prediction from yesterday. Tomic certainly could win, but I never know what to expect from Tomic.

Cincinnati 2016: August 17th WTA & ATP Predictions (Weather Permitting

Despite a current hours long drenching, I Looked at Mason, OH’s forecast, and it seems like rain might let up by 12 PM so here goes

Predicted Winners in BOLD

Many are in action today

(Q) Annika Beck VS (3) Simona Halep – Halep won in Montreal and should have some momentum.

Followed By / TBF 6/2 0/3 2nd Rd (WC) Jared Donaldson VS (2) Stan Wawrinka – Sticking with my original pick despite his 1st set loss.

Milos Raonic VS John Isner – Take cover!  I expect Milos to win in 2 or 3 tiebreak sets.

Pablo Cuevas VS (3) Rafael Nadal – Rafa should win, but if Cuevas can make jet lag and Rio’s heavy schedule a factor it might be one to watch for an upset.

Kateryna Bondarenko
or
Kristina Mladenovic VS (2) Angelique Kerber – I’ll take Kerber versus either.

Andy Murray VS Ivo Karlovic or Juan Monaco – It will likely be Monaco, but I like murray versus either.

Mikhail Youzhny VS (5) Kei Nishikori – I would not be shocked if Youzhny pulled an upset, but Kei “Bronze” Nishikori is favored.

Andrea Petkovic VS Lucie Safarova – Safarova is ever so slightly favored in my mind. (51-49)

(Q) Donna Vekic VS (10) Johanna Konta – Konta is is having a good summer.

(4) Garbiñe Muguruza VS CoCo Vandeweghe – Garbine seems quite unpredictable since Roland Garros, but sooner or later she should be her usual effective self again.

Tomas Berdych VS Jiri Vesely or Marcel Granollers – Berdych with coach Goran could be a great tandem, but even if Berdych is not playing better under Goran he should beat either player on a hard court.

John Millman VS (8) Dominic Thiem – Tough one … I think Thiem prefers clay, and Millman has had some nice results.  I’ll take a risk and say Millman wins.
(7) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga VS (WC) Reilly Opelka – If Tsonga can withstand the aces, he should win.

(9) Gael Monfils VS Marcos Baghdatis – This is a fun match, but Gael has been in great form since winning DC.

(14) Nick Kyrgios VS Borna Coric – Nick is a little further along than Coric so long as he keeps his mental game tight.

(5) Agnieszka Radwanska VS Andrea Petkovic or Lucie Safarova – This is complete guess work as I think the play-in match is so hard to decide and either could beat Radwanska.

(6) Roberta Vinci VS (LL) Tsvetana Pironkova – Sticking with Pironkova for this reason.  This tournament has been a rainy slog that followed a commute for many players from Rio rather  than Toronto/Montreal.  Players who already have ranking points in a place they like might be more prone to say this is a disaster and not dig as deep as a player who needs this win for direct entry and/or prize money.

(LL) Johanna Larsson VS Irina-Camelia Begu – Romanian power

Feliciano Lopez VS Grigor Dimitrov – Do we have a refocused Grigor after his drubbing of a typically tough Gilles Simon?

(Q) Alison Riske VS (7) Svetlana Kuznetsova – Riske can do it, but will she?

Johanna Larsson or Irina-Camelia Begu VS (8) Dominika Cibulkova – Again a lot of guess work here.

(Q) Yuichi Sugita VS Alexander Zverev

ATP TBF 4/6 3/5 1st Rd Ivo Karlovic VS (PR) Juan Monaco – I picked Ivo, but he is on the verge of defeat.  So I have to stick with my original pick, but it appears to have been very wrong.

(17) Elina Svitolina VS (Q) Daria Gavrilova – I only have a feeling here and it could be way off.

Kevin Anderson VS (13) Richard Gasquet – Anderson is due for some good results, but this is a 50-50 type match in my mind.

Yuichi Sugita  or Alexander Zverev VS Nicolas Mahut or Roberto Bautista Agut – *No idea*

(13) Belinda Bencic VS (Q) Timea Babos

(LL) Viktorija Golubic VS (Q) Kurumi Nara

(Q) Alizé Cornet VS (9) Carla Suárez Navarro – Cornet can win this match if she keeps it together mentally.

(LL) Misaki Doi VS (WC) Christina Mchale – I love McHale’s fight on court.

TBF 6/7(1) 0/1 1st Rd (Q) Kateryna Bondarenko VS Kristina Mladenovic

(14) Samantha Stosur VS Barbora Strycova

(12) Timea Bacsinszky VS Lesia Tsurenko

Nicolas Mahut VS (15) Roberto Bautista Agut

(Q) Jiri Vesely VS Marcel Granollers

Steve Johnson VS (PR) Julien Benneteau – I think Steve will do well after his medal and warm reception in Cincy.

(WC) Fernando Verdasco VS (12) Marin Cilic – Cilic has been playing well since Queen’s Club, but he had a tough loss at Wimbledon and a tough loss at the olympic games.  He also split with his coach from his 2014 US Open run.  Hot Sauce is totally unpredictable and very dangerous.  I lean Cilic but barely.

Viktorija Golubic or Kurumi Nara VS (16) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – Guess work again

We can all hope for a dry Thursday

Cincinnati 2016: Matching Players to Kentucky Bourbons

Masters Cincinnati is close enough to Kentucky that visitors can likely find more bourbon options than they have at home.  This is particularly true if one jaunts south of the Ohio River into Kentucky to a place like The Party Source.  Bill Straub, friend of Tennis Abides, and bourbon expert from Modern  Thirst took my descriptions of the top 5 male seeds and gave corresponding bourbons for their personality.

Blantons-cork-closeup

#1 Seed Andy Murray – He is talented, temperamental, and sometimes too passive. 

Blanton’s

Why? The quintessential single barrel bourbon, Blanton’s is a smooth and sweet bourbon executed perfectly.   It’s also the bourbon I’ve used more than once to win over my Anglo-phile scotch-whisky-drinking friends to the world of truly fine whiskey (with an “e”) that is Kentucky Bourbon.  We don’t need any of that peaty smoke here, just whiskey made the way god intended: the Kentucky way. 

Plus, look at Murray.  Blanton’s iconic horse-and-jockey atop the cork stands out as strongly as Murray’s gigantic ears.

  

# 2 Seed Stan Wawrinka – He is a powerful player who wins through blunt force trauma (excellent but not subtle).

bookers

 

If you’re playing Wawrinka, you’d better be ready for powerful serves and ground strokes.  In other words, be on your toes. 

Uncut, barrel proof, Booker’s is the big bad older brother of the Jim Beam lineup. 

Booker’s can range upwards to tongue blistering alcohol levels, but is chock-full of flavor.  Delicate flavors and subtleties are not its strength.  Booker’s is about being smacked in the face by bold, powerful, classic bourbon flavors.  As Booker Noe himself used to say, “If your’e drinking Booker’s, you’d better have yoru pajamas on.”

 #3 Seed Rafael Nadal – He is one of the best of all time.   Nadal uses massive spin, hustles, and is known for his mental focus.

 pappy20

Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year.

Why? One of the all time great bourbons, Pappy’s flagship spirit is complex and refined.  But no small amount of “spin” has gone into making this brand the most sought-after label in the market.  Pappy really started the bourbon collecting craze, and has undergone various incarnations over the years, including a change of distillery from the legendary Stitzel-Weller to its current home at Buffalo Trace.  There are other great bourbons that have come along in recent years, and some people consider them superior, but Pappy is still the standard by which others are judged.  It’s well rounded, focused, and sweet on the palate with a nice long viscous finish.

 

Plus, we’re all a little tired of Nadal, right?  C’mon.  Like the Pappy craze, it’s time to move on

#4 Seed Milos Raonic – He has one of the biggest serves in tennis.  He has shown great willingness to improve and attack the net.  He is also one of the more friendly players on tour.

 

Bulleit.

Why?  Bulleit is a bit of a difficult label to pin down.  Its mash bill contains a very high level of rye, making it a spicy sip, but it’s marketed primarily towards those who like bourbon cocktails, making it seem very approachable despite its spicy “oomph.”  Bulleit is readily available at most bars and most liquor stores, and for a sourced bourbon (a bourbon purchased from another distiller and bottled under a different name), it’s remarkably consistent. 

Plus, Bulleit has been aggressive lately responding to critics be offering a new barrel proof version of their label to reach an ever-broadening market.  Like Raonic’s willingness to improve, Bulleit seems willing to expand their product line to meet demand.

#5 Seed Kei Nishikori – He is a player who attacks the ball early and robs time from his opponents.  He has great timing and strokes, but lacks a huge serve and is injury prone.

 4-roses-SB-label-close

Four Roses Single Barrel.

Why?  Kei is the only Japanese player ever to be ranked in the ATP top 10.  Four Roses is owned by Japanese company, Kirin, who recently brought the brand back to the United States under the watchful eye of bourbon savant, Jim Rutledge.  Like Nishikori’s injury-prone nature, bourbon drinkers are keeping a watchful eye on Four Roses as Jim Rutledge recently retired.  New Master Distiller, Brent Elliott, seems to be on the right track, but Rutledge’s retirement reminds us of the importance of continuity and consistency.

 

Four Roses Single Barrel is an excellent value at around $30.  It’s the higher rye of the two four roses recipes, giving it a solid spice on the tongue. 

Tennis Power Ranking 2016: Novak Wins Toronto for 30th Shield!

The 8th Tennis Power Ranking 0f 2016

  1. Novak Djokovic – His serve at times looked shaky in Toronto, but his win gives Novak a record 30th Masters 1000 shield and 1000 extra points in his lead over Andy Murray.  His wins over Berdych, Monfils, and Nishikori all make Wimbledon a more distant memory.  

  2. Andy Murray – Murray was MIA in Canada, but he is playing practice sets with Rafael Nadal to gear up for another olympic run.    
  3. Milos Raonic – Raonic got to the quarterfinal round in Toronto, but he didn’t take as much advantage as he might have with Murray skipping Canada and Novak’s serve looking a little shaky.  
  4. Tomas Berdych – Berdych reached the quarterfinal round in Toronto, but squandered some chances versus Novak Djokovic.  
  5. Gael Monfils – Monfils won Washington, DC and reached the semifinal round of Toronto by beating Milos Raonic on Canadian turf.  Monfils came back to earth in his match versus Novak Djokovic, but he had a good two weeks.  Change since last ranking – not ranked
  6. Kei Nishikori – Kei rebounded from an injury induced exit from Wimbledon with a runner-up finish in Toronto.  Change since last ranking – not ranked
  7. Dominic Thiem – He has not done much since Wimbledon began, but not a lot has happened since Wimbledon for many players.  Change since last ranking – 2
  8. Stan Wawrinka – Stan played well enough in Toronto to make the semifinal round, but he did not play that well versus Kei Nishikori.  Change since last ranking + 2
  9. Ivo Karlovic – Dr. Ivo’s entry into the top 10 has a lot to do with his title in Newport and runner-up finish in Washington, DC.  He did notch a win over Marin Cilic in Toronto as well.  I don’t expect Ivo to stay in the top 10, but he has played well in North America as of late.  Change since last ranking – not ranked
  10. David Goffin – Goffin is not playing great tennis, but so many players skipped Toronto for real and dubious reasons that he remains in the top 10.  Change since last ranking – 1

 

Biggest Gain – Stan Wawrinka + 2

Biggest Drop – Dominic Thiem – 2

Entered the Poll – Gael Monfils, Kei Nishikori, and Ivo Karlovic

Dropped out of the Poll – Roger Federer, Richard Gasquet, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

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.