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    Originally posted by Jimski View Post
    There was a men's doubles match yesterday (or the day before?) that went to a 13-12 tiebreak. (Think it was Kontinen/Peers.)
    The losing pair were Ram/Salisbury. Who, for all that was a defeat, are accumulating more and more good results. Joe Salisbury will be pushing Jamie Murray for the UK no.1 spot very soon.

    Comment


      Semi-Finals

      Womenís Singles

      Serena Williams USA [11] vs Barbora Strycova Cze
      Well now, Barbora Strycova in the Wimbledon Semi?!? I didnít see that coming. Though maybe I should have given her more consideration given her previous grass court form and run to the Semis in Birmingham in the warm ups. She has been trying to going on fifteen years since winning Slam junior titles. If it was ever going to happen, then here was the most likely venue. However if you had asked me two weeks ago, I would have gone for Ďyeah, never, sorryí.
      When you get unexpected Semi-Finalists, itís often the case that they have emerged through a quarter of the draw which has opened up for them. They have benefitted from others taking down the seeds but not being able to back it up. That is not the case here. Strycova has beaten four seeded players on her route to this stage, toppling #32 Lesia Tusrenko, #4 Kiki Bertens, #19 Elise Mertens and #19 Johanna Konta to be here. Those are all good wins of course but getting past Serena would be a different order of success.
      This is a player chasing all-time records, of course. Number 24 and joint first place on the Slam Singles champions list has been a shimmering chimera that Serena has been chasing ever since she returned to the court as a mother. Itís what motivates here to still be here at age 37. She already has a massive legacy, but she wants to make everyone acknowledge her as the undisputed all-time GOAT. Now that really is an uncatchable mist, because some will stick with Evert/Graf/Navratilova whatever else Serena manages (I shade it to Graf still). But Serena seems to feverently believe that getting the 25th will gain her her rightful respect final, and ambition that is a burn pushing her on.
      The player at the other end of the court is not without fire herself. Strycova may be small, but she is very feisty. I get the impression she doesnít intimidate easily. Or, likely, at all. And Serena undoubtedly tries to intimidate opponents with who she is, what she has won and how she has won it. And then there is the open sore of the US Open Final last year. Serena has come out with another attack on Carlos Ramos. But not everyone on the WTA thinks she was bullied or disrespected there. In fact some think what she was treated entirely equitably and what she is actually demanding is special treatment, a more relaxed set of rules applying just for her. One to express such an opinion in typically blunt terms is Barbora Strycova. If that opinion has made its way to Serenaís ears, then itís likely to be pretty spicy. Not quite Nadal-Kyrgios levels but pushing up towards it. Even if Serena is unaware that Barbora completely disagrees with her on that particular issue itís likely to be feisty. Strycova never holds back and is not everyoneís cup of tea by any means. Venus (who is scrupulously fair to the tips of her toes) has had her own confrontational moment against Bara. She is one of the many to have got the treatment.
      There will be little love lost on the court then. Will that help the Czech? I find that doubtful. Williamsí tactics clearly need to be blowing Strycova away. Extra motivation to hit the ball harder are not a good thing for her opponent. Serena already had a massive power advantage on her foe anyway. What she does also have though is a trickery deficit. Rinky-dink Tennis is not her thing. She needs to play her game and execute it effectively. If she does, if she serves well and hits through the spins to get Barbora scrambling after balls accelerating away from her, then Serena can win this one in a hurry. Which will be the aim so she can spend as little time as possible in the presence of the irritant.
      What does Strycova need to do to pull off an upset? A high first serve percentage is a must. She needs to be starting points in her own service games on an even keel, and that means not second serving and then having to leap or lunge for a third shot after Serena bludgeons her return. And similar on the return. Get that ball back into play and neutralise the delivery. If Barbora can extend rallies to five shots or more, then her chances of success grow considerably. Because at that point she can slice and finagle her way around the court, sneak into the net and generally discombobulate.
      The one concern is tension. Serena has played clearly under significant extra stress in later stages of Slams for the last few years. She has gone from a player who barely ever lost once she got through to the second week to one who has recently faltered much more often than not in the latter stages. All that history has considerable weight. As for Strycova, this is so obviously a last chance saloon itís untrue. It is literally now or never if she is going to win the Slams that the 18 year-old girl believed would come to her in time. And that is a very different, but just as considerable stressor.
      Past record is tilted heavily in Williamsí favour, Strycova hasnít won a set in their three previous meetings. But they have never met on a stage such as this before, or indeed on the grass that amplifies both players games. I read something into that, but only confirmation of what we already know Ė that if both players put in a 98% performance, Serena wins by a street. And I expect both to do precisely that.
      Serena in two.

      Comment


        Elina Svitolina Ukr [8] vs Simona Halep Rou [7]
        Well now, Elina Svitloina finally breaking through to a Slam Semi? I didnít see that happening in this tournament, not when she came in with a run of one win from her previous six tournaments, including two one-and-dones in the grass court warm-ups. But as I said in the pre-tournament preview, there is a perfect illogical in this; all those times when Elina has hit a slam with loads of form and high expectations, she fails. The occasion when she arrives with no form at all and no-one talking about her? Of course that is when it happens!
        Luck also paid a significant part in this as well. If Svitolina goes on to lift the crown, she and others will look back on R2 as significant. For those who this passed by, Elina trailed Margarita Gasparyan by a set and stood very close to the precipice at 4-5 30-all in the second. She survived that, and then Gasparyan collapsed with a leg injury at 0-15 in the following game. She soldiered on for a few points, but had to retire, handing Svitolina the escape. She has built on that, getting hard fought wins against Maria Sakkari and Karolina Muchova since and a more straightforward one against Petra Martic. Has the feeling that not only is the a tournament where she had few expectations of herself, but one she could easily have not been here for any more freed her up further?
        Halepís progress has not been entirely without hiccoughs, but these have been minor ones in comparison. A set was dropped to Mihaela Buzarnescu in R2 and Zhang Shuai came out firing in the QF and looked well on top for a good chunk of the first set. However Simona overcame the setback against compatriot comfortably, and was impressive in digging in, working it out and taking set one from Zhang in the teeth of the storm. And then there have been the comprehensive despatches of potentially tricky foes in Victoria Azarenka and Cori Gauff, who won a combined 10 games between them.
        What about the history against each other? Well, the h2h stands at 4-3 to Svitolina which gives the Ukrainian a narrow edge, especially since Halep won two of their first three meetings. Recent encounters in 2017-19 have been tipped more in Elinaís favour. However, I want to focus on one meeting during that period in particular Ė the 2017 French Open QF. That was, for Svitolina, a second Slam QF. Which at that stage was probably no worse than par as the í17 French was the first time Elina had been seeded in the top 10 (she had been a double figures seed from the í15 Aussie onwards). What happened that day in Paris? Well, for a set and three-quarters Svitolina dominated, making hardly any errors or allowing Halep to hit winners. She was the reigning Italian Open champion, the world no.5 and she was on course for her first Slam Semi. All was right in her world. But then, leading by 6-3 5-1 and within touching distance of being the first Ukrainian to make the last four of a slam, she faltered. Badly. It got really tentaitive which allowed Halep to claw her way back, saved a match point at 5-6 in the tie-break then win the next three points followed by the deciding set 6-0. Elina looked crushed at the end.
        The reverberations of that day have lingered for a long while. Halep herself wasnít quite ready for her breakthrough, having her own set and double break up nightmare in the final against Ostapenko but even so the Slam trajectories of the two diverged considerably. Svitolina found the big shows a great pressure since then, managing two further QF appearances since then up to this tournament, both of which were in Australia and resulted in crushing defeats (4&0 vs Mertens, 4&1 vs Osaka). Halep grew to be a champion and World No.1. Itís not on a conscious level, but Simona will be able to draw on that day to tell herself that she can win from anywhere against anyone (Svitolina was a top 5 player at that point), whilst for Elina the fear is the demons that reared up and overwhelmed her are still lurking somewhere.
        Game style? Fairly similar, actually. Both are defensive counter-punches. As is essential for that style, both are exceptional athletes and movers who are determined to hold the baseline as much as possible. Svitolina often achieves that by playing the squatting half-volleys as exemplified by Radwanska and Kerber, both of whom with considerable success on these courts (Angie remains the reigning champion for a few days yetÖ). Halep doesnít use that anything like as much Ďcos she is down there already being dinky. What she has is an iron will not to miss, and a greater amount of work on the ball to ensure she keeps the errors down without presenting her opponent with sitters. Svitolina also hates to miss but can be a little more susceptible to errors with the flatter shape of her shots. Both serve well, but not exceptionally. However I give an edge to Simona here as Elinaís second serve can be highly attackable or leak double faults if she is trying to avoid that.
        Both are also at their best on clay and pretty damn handy on hard. But not previously that successful on grass. There is only one final on the surface at any venue or senior level between them, the 2013 Rosmalen event that Halep won as part of her stratospheric rise that year to the top echelon of the game (it was the week after she had won a clay court event, to boot!). Svitolina did make the Girls Singles final of Wimbledon as a Junior though (l to Bouchard, wither her? Out in R1 again since you ask!).
        All told, I would probably give Svitolina the edge in a standard WTA Tournament at the moment as she would have to be on a good week to run into Halep, given the seedings. However it comes back to that Slam record for me, and that French Open catastrophe for Svitolina. The scarring caused by that was considerable and the pressure will tell again if she gets close to the winning line.
        Halep in three.

        Comment


          Halep in the Wimbledon final. That's a turn up for the books. No way she'll beat Serena, though assuming that who she plays she will certainly have little to no pressure on her

          Comment


            The assumption is looking good so far - first set to Serena 6-1. A pretty rapid and one-sided Semi-Final day is in prospect, sadly.

            It would be rather mad for Ash Barty to be the reigning French Open champion and Simona Halep to be the reigning Wimbledon one. I'm sure they will get it the right way around in some future year...

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              Crikey, it's eighteen years since Serena and Venus appeared on The Simpsons...

              Comment


                They were on alongside Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. Since it was broadcast, Andre has married Steffi Graf and had two children. His oldest is 17 and a baseball prospect of some sort (I'm nowhere near clued in enough with Baseball to read that scouting report and judge if he is a blue chip talent or a has no chance of playing beyond college or somewhere in between) who is due to be off to college next year.

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                  Originally posted by Janik View Post
                  Murray/Williams are out of the Mixed. Muzza was the last Brit in the senior able-bodied events left.
                  Well that wasn't true. Evan Hoyt and Eden Silva are currently playing a Mixed QF. They have just been broken trying to level at a set all with Ivan Dodig and Laetisha Chan.

                  Comment


                    It's feasible for the women's #1 to play doubles because they only play 3 sets. Much harder for the men and it is remarkable that McEnroe managed it so long; a mark of his greatness.

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                      It's not just the number of sets though, it's how much the game has changed. McEnroe wouldn't have played doubles if his singles matches involved four hours of running from side to side along the baselines in wars of attrition with Djokovic and Nadal.

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                        McEnroe also famously practiced very little, using doubles effectively as time on court and keeping his eye in. Again, he couldn't have done that these days and succeeded. The intensity of later stage singles matches would have broken him due to lack of conditioning.

                        Comment


                          Oh, and having discovered Hoyt and Silva playing doubles, they lost pretty rapidly after I tuned in. Given they were having a fine tournament up until that point, I clearly cursed them.

                          Comment


                            I couldn't think of that much to say about Djokovic-Bautista Agut. So a little bit shorter than the Women's previews. Enough to sneak under the 10000 character limit, in fact.

                            Semi-Finals

                            Menís Singles

                            Novak Djokovic Srb [1] vs Roberto Bautista Agut Esp [23]
                            I was trying to think of a comparison for those who donít know much about Roberto Bautista Agut, another player who is more famous but similar to the somewhat anonymous Spaniard. The one that sprang to mind was Juan Carlos Ferrero. Both learned their game on clay and remained very effective on that surface, but successfully added extra strings to their bows to turn themselves into strong hard court players and effective ones on grass. JC never got beyond the QFs at Wimbledon, though. Bautista Agut now has that on his countryman. Then I started going down the rankings list to find another current player who has a decent resemblance. I got as far as David Goffin. Yeah, close-ish. Goffin who played Djokovic in the last round. Um, yeah, about that...
                            Which is quite a convoluted way of saying that I give Roberto next to no chance to win tomorrow. Not that he will see it that way, of course. He will look back on his recent meetings with Djoker and be encouraged. After all, he has beaten the man in both their encounters so far in 2019 (Doha and Miami) and has taken a set off him the three previous times they have ran into each other at Slams (New York 2015, Paris 2016 and 2018). He will look at that and say Iím not far away, I just need to find an extra five percent. What it discounts is Nole is 15-20% above what he can be bothered to show in regular Tour matches.
                            So, I favour Djokovic. Why? Itís more than just the mentality and the suffocating air of dominance. Itís stylistic as well. His game is so solid in nearly every aspect. As close to the complete player as we are ever likely to see. Itís not that certain shots are extra special (though the double handed backhand comes close), itís that pretty well everything baring one minor issue with overheads is world class. Weaknesses? What are they.
                            This makes life extremely challenging for Bautista Agut, who is also more of a solid all-round package than a stand out proponent of any one thing in particular. He has no go to play that if he can force the patterns towards will see him come on top. No, he just needs to generally outplay the most consistent and fearsome competitor that Tennis has ever know. Good luck with that.
                            There is also the issue with the potential for nerves. Bautista Agut is now 31, and even with the new extended careers on the ATP is much closer to the end than the beginning. This day is something he has been working towards for his entire career. He will be desperate to make the most of it, which adds a layer of stress that could compound things if it starts off badly. The last thing he wants is this tape to be so embarrassingly one-sided that he canít watch it back in future years and fondly remember his great run in Wimbledon 2019.
                            On e thing that at least we can discount is excessive tiredness. No-one is fresh at this stage of a slam, not after five matches in ten days but neither man has been unduly exerted so far. Both have only dropped a single set in the tournament, Djokovic to Hubert Hurkacz in R2 and Bautista Agut vs Guido Pella in the QFs. Thos aside itís all been pretty straightforward for both. Which turns it into a pure Tennis test. Unfortunately for Roberto. He should try and enjoy the company he is keeping tomorrow during all other aspects of the day, because I fear the time he will have on court will be under two hours.
                            Djokovic in three.

                            Rafael Nadal Esp [3] vs Roger Federer Sui [2]
                            I donít really need to point out this is the first time these guys have met on this court since the match still regarded as the Greatest Tennis Match of all Time, the 2008 Final. That particular nugget has been all over the press, with loads of replays of rallies and rain breaks, Rafa celebrations and out-of-this-world Tennis in near darkness. If itís even a patch on that one, we are in for a treat.
                            What sort of treat? Do I really need to explain? As Federer said in his post-match interview after his QF win, both camps know the other player inside out, and all the fans do as well. There are no surprises here. Itís only five weeks since they last played as well, Nadal seeing off Federer as expected in three on his court in Paris.
                            That win was actually Rafaís first in the series since 2014, Federer taking five-in-a-row against Nadal across 2015 and 2017. That included on particularly famous match, the 2017 Aussie Open final. That day marked the return of Federer to the Slam winners circle after a spell away, a spell during which it looked like he had topped out on 17 titles. If Nadal had won that day he would have been within striking distance for moving in front and strengthening his case that he, not Roger, is the GOAT. This match represents another opportunity to do that as the gap is once again down to just two titles, 18 to 20. And Rafa is going to win in Paris two or three more times. If Federer wants to stay as the winningest player, he really needs to find his way through to the title this Sunday.
                            That sure wonít be easy, not with Djokovic almost certainly awaiting the winner of this match. But no-oneís thoughts can stretch that far ahead, not with the likely quality and difficulty of the encounter to come. Itís likely to come down to a few points here and there, and in general over the years that has favoured Rafa over Roger. Itís the break point conversion thing again. Federer had many, many chances against Nishikori in the QFs without putting his man away. He absolutely cannot afford to do that versus Rafa. Lose momentum here and lose the match.
                            What are the keys then? Serve is a big part of it. Both men have excellent deliveries that are not as big as some of the giants of the game but are arguably better serves despite a fractionally slower pace. Federer hits his spots with brilliant accuracy and considerable power. Nadal also has a shot with significant punch and some ace delivers out wide to the deuce court and down the line to the ad one that he keeps in his quiver until the moment is big enough. If either player struggles to land 60+% of first deliveries that could be decisive as both return excellently.
                            The final aspect is motivation. What is there to prove for either? Well, keep ahead of the other guy, of course. The two are frenemies. This is a storied rivalry for the ages where the two combatants operate on utter mutual respect rather than hatred. I think both recognise that the presence of the other has helped define their careers and allow them to market themselves and transcend their sport. As with many sports, Tennis is in one sense a collaborative endeavour. You need someone at the other end hitting the ball back to make it work. And to really show your full capabilities, that person must be just as good as you are. Federer found that in Nadal, and both are massively wealthy as a consequence.
                            There is one other wrinkle though, probably aimed more at the seeding committee than over the net. And that is Rafa having something to prove. He was clearly rather put out that he, the World No.2 and Semifinalist last year, found himself downgraded to #3 for this event with Roger pushed above him. Providing a clear demonstration that this was just wrong would be sweet.
                            OK, Iíve talked around the subject. What am I going to tip? Well, Federer got a little closer to Nadal than previously in Paris. So does that mean he shades it in London? No, I donít think he does. He is just too reliant on his serve to keep him afloat and Nadal has been keyed in to return massive deliveries by Querrey in the last round. I expect chances to be pretty even, but Rafa to convert.
                            Nadal in four.

                            Comment


                              Rafa might be playing as well as he ever has. Not true of Roger.

                              Comment


                                Roberto Bautista Agut is one of those rare Spanish sports stars who use both their paternal and maternal surnames. Rafael Nadal Parera, for example, doesn't use his (or at least never seems bothered that no-one else does). Rafa Cabrera-Bello (the golfer) does but he hyphenates his.
                                Last edited by Rogin the Armchair fan; 12-07-2019, 07:17.

                                Comment


                                  Nadal has looked lethal during this tournament. He really does look like a man in a hurry who has a chip on his shoulder. I can't see Federer serving well enough to stop him.

                                  Comment


                                    First set to Djokovic 6-2.

                                    Anyone want to play the Price is Right with the number of games Bautista Agut will win? The card I've turned over says '6'...

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                                      Not (I hope) a stupid question - why do they fine Tomic his tournament winnings for "only" winning 5 games in an early round against a good opponent, but (presumably) wouldn't dream of doing so to Bautista Agut if Djok similarly annihilates him this afternoon?

                                      Comment


                                        Maybe because it's a semi final.

                                        Comment


                                          Originally posted by Janik View Post
                                          First set to Djokovic 6-2.

                                          Anyone want to play the Price is Right with the number of games Bautista Agut will win? The card I've turned over says '6'...
                                          Haven't seen the latest score. 7.

                                          Comment


                                            And he's got six in a single set...

                                            Comment


                                              And Djoker didn't get 7 either.

                                              Rogin - the 'not of professional' standard (aka lack of effort) thing specifically applies only to R1. It's there to prevent players showing up just half-fit or disinterested to claim the cheque. The assumption is that someone who has won a match has already proved they were not there for that reason. Other rules and sanctions may apply for perceived tanking of a later round match.

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                                                Another (I hope not so stupid) question, do the umpire and line judges come as a team, like football refs and assistants? Just wondering, watching this game, noticing the female ump and most of her line judges seem to be too. Coincidence or are they teamed up?

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                                                  Coincidence. The line umpires work in shifts of fixed lengths. A five set match will go through several sets of them.

                                                  Comment


                                                    I did wonder, if they teamed up, the umpire would get to trust (particular) judges' calls more often, wouldn't they?

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