French Open 2016: May 26th Men’s Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

[4] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Facundo Bagnis (ARG) – Rafa should win this one.

[6] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) vs Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) – Tsonga should win, but Baghdatis could have a turn back the clock performance and make it interesting.

[7] Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs Malek Jaziri (TUN) – Berdych generally wins this type of match-up.

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Steve Darcis (BEL) – Novak rolls

[14] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) – I like both players, but I think Bautista Agut has too much game for an older Mathieu.

[11] David Ferrer (ESP) vs. Juan Monaco (ARG) – This should be a hell of a match.  Ticket holders should spend time watching this up close.

[13] Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) – Thiem seems poised for a leap forward.

Nicolas Mahut (FRA) vs. Marcel Granollers (ESP) – Granollers should take this.

[25] Pablo Cuevas (URU) vs. [WC] Quentin Halys (FRA)

[12] David Goffin (BEL) vs. [Q] Carlos Berlocq (ARG) – I am tempted to go with Berlocq if he is willing to run all day, but Goffin is my pick.

Aljaz Bedene (GBR) vs. Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) – Vamanos!

[WC] Stéphane Robert (FRA) vs. Alexander Zverev (GER) – A fun match

[20] Bernard Tomic (AUS) vs. Borna Coric (CRO) – Is this an upset?

[21] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) vs Victor Estrella Burgos (DOM)

[26] Joao Sousa (POR) vs. Ernests Gulbis (LAT)

Jiri Vesely (CZE) vs. Nicolas Almagro (ESP) – These last three matches are such good pairings.  I wish I had a ticket.

French Open 2016: May 25th Men’s Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

[2] Andy Murray (GBR) vs. [Q] Radek Stepanek (CZE) – To Finish 36 36 60 42  – I will stick with Murray,  but this was an odd start to his Roland Garros even if he wins this match from 2 sets down vs. a 37-year-old.

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) – I like Novak, but Murray may be a cautionary tale.

[6] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) vs Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) – Will Jo stay healthy?

[4] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Sam Groth (AUS) – I like Nadal to win.

[11] David Ferrer (ESP) vs. Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) – Ferrer should win.

[7] Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs Vasek Pospisil (CAN)  – Does Berdych come back from his drubbing in Rome?

[29] Lucas Pouille (FRA) vs. [WC] Julien Benneteau (FRA) To Finish – 63 46 64 – Sticking with my original pick

[12] David Goffin (BEL) vs. Gregoire Barrere (FRA) – Goffin is dangerous.

[13] Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs Inigo Cervantes (ESP) – He is quickly becoming a top flight clay court player.

Nicolas Mahut (FRA) vs. Ricardas Berankis (LTU) – I’d love to see Mahut win.

[20] Bernard Tomic (AUS) vs. [PR] Brian Baker (USA) – Picking with my heart I know.

[15] John Isner (USA) vs. John Millman (AUS) – To Finish 76 (4) 76 (12) – I like my original pick again.

Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) vs. Santiago Giraldo (COL)

[25] Pablo Cuevas (URU) vs. [Q] Tobias Kamke (GER)

[32] Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs Marcel Granollers (ESP) – Fabio has a higher ceiling and a much lower floor.  Match of the day?

[26] Joao Sousa (POR) vs. Damir Dzumhur (BIH)

Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) vs. Carlos Berlocq (ARG) – This should be a fun match for fans with tickets.

Hyeon Chung (KOR) vs. [WC] Quentin Halys (FRA)

[18] Kevin Anderson (RSA) vs. [Q] Stéphane Robert (FRA) – I like an upset here.

[21] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) vs Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) – Lopez does not love clay, but he should win this.

[14] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) – Agut over the humorous veteran.

Borna Coric (CRO) vs. Taylor Fritz (USA) – Fun match as well

Rajeev Ram (USA) vs. Jiri Vesely (CZE) – Ram on clay is not

Victor Estrella Burgos (DOM) vs. Illya Marchenko (UKR)

Thiemo De Bakker (NED) vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) – GGL for the win.

[Q] Gerald Melzer (AUT) vs. Aljaz Bedene (GBR)

[24] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) vs Nicolas Almagro (ESP) – This should be an amazing match for a first round clash.

Malek Jaziri (TUN) vs. Florian Mayer (GER)

Denis Istomin (UZB) vs. Juan Monaco (ARG)

[Q] Marsel Ilhan (TUR) vs. [Q] Steve Darcis (BEL)

Gilles Muller (LUX) vs. Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) – Veteran clash determined by the footing of clay?

Facundo Bagnis (ARG) vs. [Q] Kenny De Schepper (FRA)

Alexander Zverev (GER) vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA)

[31] Federico Delbonis (ARG) vs Pablo Carreño Busta (ESP)

Andreas Seppi (ITA) vs. Ernests Gulbis (LAT) – Gulbis’ comeback or swansong?

Tennis Power Ranking 2016: Murray’s Italian Offensive

The Sixth Tennis Power Ranking for 2016

  1. Novak Djokovic – Novak would have stayed at #1 had he lost his first match in Rome. In that respect, his wins over Rafa and Nishikori bolster his position.  Rafa’s game effort, Kei being tough, and Murray winning in Rome make his road to Paris look more interesting though.  
  2. Andy Murray – Andy beat Rafa in Madrid and then beat Novak in Rome to take the title.  That leads to him jumping to #2.  Andy is playing some the best clay tennis of his life.  Change since last ranking +1
  3. Rafael Nadal – Rafa played Novak as well as he has since his win at the 2014 Roland Garros final.  Still, he has a losing streak versus Novak that is not easily dismissed. Change since last ranking – 1
  4. Kei Nishikori – Kei was runner-up at Barcelona and a semifinalist at both Madrid and Rome.  He rounds out the list of four plausible winners at Roland Garros.
  5. Dominic Thiem – He did enough to stay #5.
  6. Nick Kyrgios – Nick played well versus Rafa on clay.  Change since last ranking + 1
  7. David Goffin – He put a double bagel on a top 10 player.  Change since last ranking – Not ranked
  8. Milos Raonic – Milos’ results will likely improve on faster surfaces, but he has played well enough on clay to stay in the mix.  Change since last ranking – 2
  9. Gael Monfils – Gael should not be ignored based on his very solid 2016 results.  Change since last ranking – 1
  10. Roger Federer – Roger is hanging around based upon his strong play in Melbourne and Brisbane.  Can he get healthy?  If so, when?  Change since last ranking – 1

 

Biggest Mover – Milos Raonic – 2

Entered the Poll – David Goffin

Dropped out of the Poll – Tomas Berdych (See Goffin, David)

Claymagedon 2016: Another Quarterfinal (?) Rafa-Nole Clash on Dirt

Rafael Nadal won Monte Carlo and Barcelona.  He played well enough to lose in 2 close sets to Andy Murray in the semifinal round of Madrid.  Rafa beat Murray at Monte Carlo in 3 sets so those two are playing close to even tennis on clay as Roland Garros approaches. Rafa is the best clay court champion of all-time.

Novak Djokovic won Madrid after having a stumble at Monte Carlo.  Novak approaches Roland Garros 2016 with as much momentum as he has ever had as a player.  He also lacks a Roland Garros title.  A career Grand Slam is on the line as is Novak being the reigning champion at all 4 major titles.  So Novak is playing at an unprecedented level, but the opportunities/pressure in front of him are as big as ever as well.

Does Rafa Make Nole’s Life Easier or Harder?

If Rafa is back to his 2005-2014 form on clay or if he is returning to that form, he becomes a huge obstacle for Novak’s quest to complete a historic accomplishment.  Novak is in an odd spot.  If he wins tomorrow, Rafa will be less likely to be a top 4 seed in Paris.  That could make Novak’s path to a Roland Garros title harder.  If Rafa beats Novak tomorrow, Rafa might be close to being revitalized heading into Paris.

Novak should win this match so long as he moves well, returns well, and plays loose. There is a lot to balance here for Novak.  The mental side of this is huge.  I don’t see any benefit to Novak if Rafa wins this match other than maybe a different draw in Paris. Novak has a mental edge on everyone.  Novak has worked hard to attain a mental edge on the field.  He is not going to let go of that without a fight.  I think that alone pushes Novak toward a solid win tomorrow.

Masters Rome 2016: May 13th ATP Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

[2] Andy Murray (GBR) vs. [12] David Goffin (BEL) H2H – Both players have momentum. Andy played well in Madrid while Goffin crushed Berdych.  I like Andy to win this match, but I liked Berdych yesterday (I have to own it to move forward).

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [5] Rafael Nadal (ESP) H2H – See my next post.

[6] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. [13] Dominic Thiem (AUT) H2H – Kei is playing well and Thiem may have a letdown after pulling a generational win over Federer yesterday.  I think that adds up to Kei winning a fun and close match.

[PR] Juan Monaco (ARG) vs. [LL] Lucas Pouille (FRA) H2H – Why not become the luckiest of all lucky losers?  I have to pick one upset.

Rome 2016: May 12th ATP Predictions

[3] Roger Federer (SUI) vs. [13] Dominic Thiem (AUT) H2H – I like Roger Federer so long as his health holds up.

[5] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs Nick Kyrgios (AUS) – On clay, I like Rafa, but if Kyrgios beats Rafa it would be quite interesting on many levels.

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) H2H – Nole should win.

[6] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. [11] Richard Gasquet (FRA) H2H – The way Kei has played lately makes him the favorite.

[9] David Ferrer (ESP) vs. [LL] Lucas Pouille (FRA) – I like Ferrer here.

[8] Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs. [12] David Goffin (BEL) H2H – If styles make fights, I don’t like this clash of styles for Goffin.

[4] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. [PR] Juan Monaco (ARG) H2H – Stan should advance, but it will be a rugged match.

[2] Andy Murray (GBR) vs. Jérémy Chardy (FRA)  H2H – If Andy returns well and gets to Chardy’s backhand, he wins.  If Chardy can keep Andy off balance with power, an upset could occur.

Masters Rome 2016: May 11th ATP Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

[3] Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Alexander Zverev (GER) H2H – If Federer is healthy, I like him to advance in a tough match.

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [Q] Stéphane Robert(FRA)  H2H – Robert got through qualifying and one round, but he is done.

[5] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) H2H – Kohlschreiber is unlikely to make much of a dent here.

[2] Andy Murray (GBR) vs. [Q] Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) H2H – This should be a fun match for fans with tickets.  Murray needs to be sure to not overlook his opponent.

[9] David Ferrer (ESP) vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) – Ferrer should win, but it is a nice match-up.

[11] Richard Gasquet (FRA) vs. Andreas Seppi (ITA) H2H – I think Gasquet should avoid an upset even if the crowd is wild.

[10] Milos Raonic (CAN) vs. Nick Kyrgios (AUS) H2H – Kyrgios won in Miami so I slightly favor him here.

Nicolas Mahut (FRA) vs. Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) H2H

[15] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs. Jérémy Chardy (FRA)

Tennis Power Ranking 2016: Novak Reigns in Spain?

The Fifth Tennis Power Ranking for 2016

He is the man

  1. Novak Djokovic – Novak bounced back from his loss at Monte Carlo with a strong showing in Madrid.  He lost only one set en route to his record 29th Masters 1000 Shield.
  2. Rafael Nadal – Rafa did lose to Andy Murray so staying second may seem odd. However, his wins in Monte Carlo and Barcelona place him ahead of Murray in terms of recent results.    
  3. Andy Murray –Andy beat Rafa in Madrid and set right a loss in Monte Carlo that could have been a win for him.  Splitting with his coach this close to a major seems a bit odd, but maybe he is hoping to give his new coach time to have a plan in place for Wimbledon.  Change since last ranking +1
  4. Kei Nishikori – Kei was runner-up at Barcelona and was a semifinalist in Madrid.  He is clearly one of the 5 men most likely to win in Paris even if those odds drop sharply once one gets beyond Novak and Rafa.  Change since last ranking +1
  5. Dominic Thiem – Thiem hasn’t really done anything wrong despite a tired early loss in Madrid.  Nishikori and Murray have just leapfrogged him.  Change since last ranking – 2
  6. Milos Raonic – Milos played well enough in Madrid, but he barely made a dent in Novak Djokovic.  That is problem many players have experienced, but until he can even threaten Novak climbing higher seems difficult.
  7. Nick Kyrgios – This surface is not ideal for Kyrgios, but his talent makes him impossible to ignore.  Change since last ranking + 2 
  8. Gael Monfils – Gael should not be ignored based on his very solid 2016 results.  Change since last ranking +1
  9. Roger Federer – Roger is hanging around based upon his strong play in Melbourne and Brisbane and his reasonable play at Monte Carlo.  I am sure Roger will welcome a return to Halle’s grass courts regardless of what happens in Rome and Paris.  Change since last ranking – 1
  10. Tomas Berdych – The big Czech has been somewhere near the space he currently occupies on tour for a decade.  He may not win the big prize, but he wins often enough to be in this top 10.  Change since last ranking – Not ranked

Biggest Movers – Dominic Thiem -2 and Nick Kyrgios +2

Entered the Poll – Tomas Berdych

Dropped out of the Poll – David Goffin

Madrid 2016: Murray vs. Nadal Semifinal Prediction

I don’t see it being anywhere near this one-sided

Andy Murray vs. Rafael Nadal

Andy Murray lost to Rafael Nadal at Monte Carlo despite dominating the first set.  Did Murray let Rafa off of the hook?  Probably, but Murray could be in trouble if Rafa is a more confident player today than he was at Monte Carlo.  Rafa’s 3 set quarterfinal triumph in Madrid is a microcosm of how I view the Spaniard at the moment.  He is clearly a top 5 player in the world.  Clay is his best surface.  Yet, he is not mauling people in the manner he did from 2005-2014 on red clay.  He is better than the Rafa of 2015, but I am not quite sure where I see him in 2016.  Another win over Murray would be a strong sign that Rafa is closing in on his old form (if not already there).  A title in Madrid, even if it did not involve a win over Nole, would cement Rafa as at worst the second most likely player to win Roland Garros.  For some reason, I am leaning toward Murray in this match.  I feel like Rafa may not want to peak until Paris even if he usually feeds off of wins.  If Rafa only has so many herculean efforts left in his tank, he will likely want to use them in Paris.  Also, Madrid has never been Rafa’s best event.  Rafa has reached all 6 finals in which Madrid was held on red clay, but his record is 3-3 in these matches.  By his clay court standards, Madrid has proved a bit tricky for him.  Murray beat Rafa on this very court one year ago.

My Prediction (and I will Probably Regret This): Andy Murray d. Rafael Nadal 7-5, 6-4

Madrid 2016: May 6th ATP Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

[2] Andy Murray (GBR) vs. [8] Tomas Berdych (CZE) H2H – Andy should win this match. Clay could impact this match to a degree, but Andy’s clay court game is better than most people recognize.

[5] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Joao Sousa (POR) – I think Rafa wins, but I expect Joao to push Rafa to a play a rugged/physical match.

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [11] Milos Raonic (CAN) – I think Milos’ goal needs to be to make this closer than their Indian Wells match.  Raonic seems to have rebounded from his Indian Wells drubbing and drubbing from Murray at Monte Carlo.  Milos can do well on clay because he has the ability to get a solid swing at the ball on a slower court, but Novak should win and win pretty easily.

[6] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. Nick Kyrgios (AUS) – Nick may pull the upset here.  Kei has played well in Spain over the past several years, but at some point I think Nick