Clay: No More Predictable

The season of Roland Garros begin on 24th May and ends on 7th June this year. As Rafael Nadal, the four-time defending champion defeated Novak Djokovic in the 2014 final to win his ninth French Open title and his fourteenth Grand Slam title, he had become the first player to win five consecutive titles – makes you think about the situation if Roger Federer hadn’t won that lone title in between; that would have been legendary. It is the kind of brutality that Nadal has shown on this kind of surface, especially at the biggest tournament on clay.

I was saddened by Simona Halep’s loss to Maria Sharapova in last year’s final more than Djokovic’s loss though. I thought that Simona had enough to win, which didn’t really happen in the end. I have mostly wished to have a new champion at each slam, and world’s only clay grand slam had only two for the last ten years, and both are still playing. The rest of the world has been denied this slam for too long. May be this year will provide one, as 2015 seems to be the year which has brought more balance to clay than any other surface – the title is more open than ever. Let’s see the chances – it still favours the champion, but with changes.

1. Rafael Nadal: The first name in the list remains the same. Nadal has been the undisputed king of clay for so long, and his recent troubles even in his favourite surface might not carry to the grand stage. But he has still weakened from what he used to be, and he is no longer the invincible person whom he used to be, as he had his early exits in too many tournaments, and he just had his first loss on clay to the less competent clay player of the Big Four, Andy Murray. Still, he is always back at the French Open, and considering how hard working the man is, we can only expect him to make things work better. He has been the risk-taker, and luck favours his kind. 43–6 record in clay court finals, 66-1 at the French Open and 81 consecutive wins on clay – this is his yard even when not in form. Let’s not worry about the fact that he is ranked 7 now.

And there is always the Djoker looking for his opportunity.

And there is always the Djoker looking for his opportunity – the first French Open.

2. Novak Djokovic: With the current form, he is the best on the court. There cannot be many arguments against that. He is the world number one and is going to stay there for a very long time as the total points suggest – he has already had more time at the top of the tennis world than Nadal, and has more weeks at the top than any other active men’s player except Federer who holds the record. Nadal has denied him more than once, and lets see how he will face the Djoker at a time when he is at his worst form on clay, and with Djokovic at the peak of his career – Australian Open reclaimed; can Novak Djokovic claim the title which has stayed away from him and complete his list of slams? We will see. This might be his best chance to do the same.

3. Andy Murray: Just now, we have to think that Murray has more chances than Federer. Madrid Open is the second clay title which he has won one after another, and he hadn’t won any before that. This last title is special because he defeated the king of clay, Nadal in the final to claim the glory. He hasn’t lost a match after his marriage and is going on with an awesome post-marriage winning streak. But what gives him more confidence than anything else should be that straight sets win against Nadal – the race is now open and the world of clay is no longer a property of Nadal. This is his time to re-write his records on clay, and this could be the slam in which he silences the critics and becomes the integral part of Big Four rather than make it more inclined towards the Big Three who have won more slams than him. After all, he is the current world number three.

As all good things begin and end with Roger Federer.

All good things begin and end with Roger Federer, and the legend continues.

4. Roger Federer: Eternal favourite – this is what Federer remains. Even at his age, the father of four is not someone who will be an easy challenge even in a tournament which he has only won once in his career. But one of the greatest players of all time won’t go away that easily as he did make a nice comeback to his least favourite surface by winning the Istanbul Open and remains the world number two as of now. He is the legend, and beating him at a grand stage needs a lot of work. Federer might not be the best at his game now, but he is still at a higher level in the all-time best list. He can surely have another grand slam at his less interesting venue, and it will do nicely – what is there to lose for the man who has nothing more to prove?

David Ferrer might bring surprises this time too, and the young Kei Nishikori brings the Asian hopes to the draw. In the women’s division, it is more difficult to guess though, but Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams should remain the top contenders once again. Simona Halep, the last year’s runner-up and current world number two will have something to say about that. Then there is Petra Kvitová who won the Madrid Open. Caroline Wozniacki, Eugenie Bouchard and Ana Ivanovic also remain good contenders to the title. The women will bring the biggest surprises this time too, even in the doubles division. I would hope for new names on the trophy – may be Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep, but Roger Federer winning will always be the biggest joy to watch! Let’s also see what happens with Internazionali BNL d’Italia!

***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Pages of the tennis players.

TeNy

What are the Chances?

The Australian Open is fast approaching, and is almost here. On January 19th, the battle for another Grand Slam, the first one of the year and the most unpredictable one begins, and this is that kind of an year which has hopes for all the players in both Men’s and Women’s draw, if you ask me. Yes, the Big Four was broken twice last year with Marin Čilić and Stanislas Wawrinka tunneling their way to the first and the last slams, and in 2015, there is chance of the newer Grand Slam aspirants to bring the fight to Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. Still, our favourites remain favourites.

1. Novak Djokovic: The world number one, once again has the best chance to win his favourite Grand Slam, and this place where he established himself as a worthy opponent to Federer and Nadal should have a lot more for him, considering that even when he seems a little down, he keeps coming back – this is still his peak time. He also have a simpler draw, with all the challenges on his way seemingly of causing lesser trouble for him. I don’t think that any of those names can challenge this man at his favourite part of the world – the Djoker is the favourite, no doubt. His only worry can be del Potro unleashing himself, but that is not much likely, and the Wawrinka, Nishikori or Ferrer challenge in the semi-finals might be the first big trouble.

And there is always the Djoker looking for his opportunity.

And there is always the Djoker looking for his opportunity.

2. Rafael Nadal: Looking at the draw, Nadal does have a better path than Federer, and I would say that it is an easier path for him compared to that of Federer, and therefore, even with his usual injury problems and continuous problems of fitness, should have the next best chance after Djokovic. Yes, there are tough names there on his path, but they are all beyond their best, and has very less chance of beating Nadal as far he can find some of former glory and stay fit. I would not judge him by his terrible performances in the first two tournaments this year, because he has had his amount of luck with Grand Slams. Well, he should be looking for something other than the French Open this time and Berdych, Youzhny and Gascquet shouldn’t be able to stop him.

3. Roger Federer: He can have the troubles like Monaco, and the big Nadal Slayer Kyrgios or the big serving Karlović on his path, with Murray in the quarter finals and Nadal in the semi finals, something which can mean long sets and fatigue for the most elderly of the four. Then the final should be against Djokovic, and this is something that should test him, as he goes through all three of the big four – not really good news for him in the very first slam of the year. The one thing that should work for him should be his form, which has been very good, and one of the best, as he went on to win his first title this year at Brisbane with ease. Fresh from the thousandth win of his career, there is no stopping him if he is at his best, and the question only remains if he will be at his best. Well, this is his resurrection – and sparks are going to fly.

As all good things begin and end with Roger Federer.

As all good things begin and end with Roger Federer.

4. Andy Murray: Even with his terrible form and the inability to win a Grand Slam for quite a long time now, Murray is still the fourth best player considering the achievements as well as the ability which he has proven until now – to keep him out of the list and considering him not a threat, would be a big mistake. Dimitrov should be his only big challenge on the path, something which he should overcome, considering the fact that there are signs of him coming back to his older self. Well, it is time he shows the rest of the Big Four that he means a lot more than just what he has won now, which seems to pale in comparison to the rest which seems to have made their own Big Three.

5. Stanislas Wawrinka: And then there is our defending champion who grabbed that title from Rafael Nadal who was all set to win the last year’s Australian Open. He has a nice route until meeting Nishikori or Ferrer in the Quarter Finals, and then coming up against the big Djokovic problem. I have always supported him to win a Grand Slam, and considering how nice a sportsperson he has been, I think it will be nice to see him winning another title here, the second one in a row. Well, del Potro can destroy all these calculations, but that is if he is back to that player that he has been. I might have my favourites and likes, but may the best man who plays well win.

Happy days have been returning for Caroline Wozniacki.

Happy days have been returning for Caroline Wozniacki.

In the Women’s draw, I am thinking that the one who wins the Caroline Wozniacki vs Serena Williams match, which should be one of the Quarter Finals, should go on to win the title unless it is too tiring to recover, and the winner of a possible Simona Halep vs Maria Sharapova Semi Final should win it – but with Eugenie Bouchard, Ana Ivanovic and the uncertainty of the Women’s side, I can’t make a big guess about it. But I would personally like to see Simona Halep, Agniezska Radwańska, Caroline Wozniacki or Eugenie Bouchard winning this one 🙂 [All images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Pages of the tennis players]

You can also choose to join the Genie Army :D

You can also choose to join the Genie Army 😀

TeNy