Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Young Triumphs Over Old: Impressive Upsets For Dolgopolov and Nishikori at Sony Open.

The young seemed to replace the old today, as neither the World No. 3 Stanislas Wawrinka, nor the World No. 4 David Ferrer could maintain their runs at the 2014 Sony Open, in Miami.

Stanislas Wawrinka, a late bloomer in tennis terms, shocked the tennis community earlier this year with an outstanding performance down under, at the Australian Open. He put his talent on display beating World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in a thrilling four set final. His road to the final boasted victories over three other top 20 players, including World No.2, Novak Djokovic and World No. 7 Thomas Berdych. Wawrinka has continued to display his form since then holding onto his career high No. 3 spot for 2 months.

However, today he was no match for his younger opponent in the World No. 23 Alexandr Dolgopolov. Wawrinka, 28 years of age, was beaten 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 by the 25 year old Ukrainian. Wawrinka hitting under 50% of first serves in, 42 unforced errors, and 7 double faults. Those numbers combined with a total of 42 unforced errors for the match, make for a pretty tough day at the office for the 28 year old.

Dolgopolov has been displaying some fine form recently, winning though to the Semi-finals at Indian Wells just under two weeks ago. On his push to the Semis, he posted some impressive wins over three top 20 players, including World. No 1 Rafael Nadal. 

Dolgopolov will take on World No.7 Thomas Berdych in the quarter-finals. 

David Ferrer has been around the game for a very long time, however, he recently reached his career high ranking of World No.3 in late 2013, and is currently sitting at No.4 in the ATP Rankings. The Spaniard, playing his best tennis after celebrating his 30th birthday, is another late bloomer sitting high up in the rankings. Nevertheless, his experience wasn't enough to hold off his up and coming opponent, Japanese superstar, Kei Nishikori, losing 7-6, 2-6, 7-6.

Ferrer's opponent, World No. 21 Kei Nishikori has proven that he is in good form this year also, winning an ATP 250 event in Memphis, and reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open earlier in the year. Todays impressive performance against No.4 David Ferrer, is Nishikori's first win inside the Top 10 so far this year.  

Kei Nishikori, will face World No. 5 Roger Federer in the quarter-finals. 

These two up and coming players have both made an impressive start to the year, and have proven, once again, at the Sony Open, Miami, that they can compete with the Top 10 players in the world. While, personally, I remain somewhat doubtful that they will continue their runs in Miami, I expect that I'm not the only one predicting to see these two climb the rankings even further, here in 2014 and beyond. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dimitrov Helps Struggling Ball Girl

World No. 16 Grigor Dimitrov may not have been able to beat his opponent, Kei Nishikori, in their 3rd round match up at Sony Open, in Miami, however he did manage to have the fans chanting his name. 

Dimitrov has proven himself, very quickly, to be an extremely exciting player to watch. However, he surprised us all on Sunday, not with another display of athleticism, but of his character. After losing the first set in a tie break, the 22 year old noticed that one of the ball girls was also having a tough day. Seeing that the ball girl was too fatigued to be on-court, Dimitrov took her by hand, and escorted her to the sidelines. He lay her down, and made sure she was okay before returning to the court. 

Despite his 7-6, 7-5 loss to World No. 21, Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov was the name on the fan's tongues on Sunday, in Miami. Players often take very little notice of the ball boys/girls when they are playing, and after losing the first set, the Bulgarian had every excuse to be in his own world. However, the young star showed that not only is he able to play great tennis, but he can also display great compassion and empathy.

Not surprisingly, he won over many fans with his considerate gesture. It is not often that we see players interact with the ball kids, which is why the crowd found it so refreshing to see a player appreciate the, often overlooked, hard work that ball boys/girls put in to their job. 

It is undoubtedly the dream of many female fans, to be whisked away by the 22 year old, Bulgarian "hottie". A memory that despite her apparent dazed state, this young lady will remember for a long time.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Injured Del Potro to Undergo Wrist Surgery: Back in 2015

World No. 8 Juan Martín del Potro is set to return to the ATP Tour in 2015.

A painful shot - Del Potro to undergo surgery to left wrist. 

Del Potro was forced to withdraw from the Sony Open on Wednesday due to an ongoing left wrist injury, which unfortunately, has plagued him since the Australian Open earlier in the year. The Argentine will undergo wrist surgery tomorrow in Minnesota, and will most likely be out for the remainder of the season.

After having retired from his first round match in Dubai two weeks ago, and making the decision to withdraw from BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last week, Del Potro was eager to get back to business this week at the Sony Open. After testing his wrist in practice, the 25 year old decided to pull out of his second round match up.

Juan Martin had this to say to his Facebook fans on Wednesday after his decision to pull out "I still feel pain in my left wrist and I don't feel competitive to go on court. It's a pity because this is a special tournament for me since there are many Latin fans and Argentines in particular"

This is undoubtedly a very challenging time for the young man, as it is not the first wrist injury he has battled. His last wrist surgery was in 2010, to his right wrist. This followed his first, and, so far, only Grand Slam victory, at the US Open in 2009. Although it took over a year for Del Potro to be back on the ATP Tour following his past operation, we can expect the right hander to be practicing soon after the upcoming surgery, avoiding the use of his left hand.  

I hope to see the crowd-pleaser return to action as soon as possible. We have all seen what he is capable of, and it would be a shame to rob fans of the entertainment that a fighting fit Del Potro can bring to a tennis match, and an even bigger shame for the former World No. 4 not to reclaim the spectacular form that he displayed to topple tennis giant, Roger Federer, and capture the 2009 US Open Title. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bernard Tomic - Fastest Loss in ATP History

An embarrassed Bernard, leaving the
Sony Open court after a record setting defeat.
- Getty Images

Key Biscayne, Fla. - Bernard Tomic suffers the fastest loss in ATP history at the hands of Jarkko Nieminen.

The 28 minute, Sony Open match up, is the fastest completed match since the ATP started keeping such statistics in 1991.

Bernard Tomic, the former ITF Jurnior World number 2, has had many record setting successes over the years. He set the record for the youngest ever Australian Open Junior Title Win, in 2008, at age 15. A year later at age 16 Tomic made his Davis Cup Debut for Australia. On the ATP tour he has been a Wimbledon Quarterfinalist, and has been ranked as high as 27th. However, the young star has quickly become known for much more than his incredible talent, examples of which include reported tanking incidents, suspensions, feuds, and daddy issues. 

His record setting performance at the Sony Open on Thursday seeks to add to his list of scandals (for which his Wikipedia page has dedicated 16 paragraphs).

Playing in his first ATP match since his controversial retirement against Rafael Nadal in the first round of the 2014 Australian Open, 21 year old Tomic, currently ranked 74th won just 13 points during his humiliating 6-0, 6-1 defeat at the Sony Open on Thursday. 

Nieminen, currently ranked 40th on the ATP tour, took the first set in only 13 minutes, and lost only 3 points on serve throughout the entire 28 minute onslaught.  

Having had the chance to watch Tomic win his first ITF junior title in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2006, at just 13 years of age, i've seen the immense talent which he possesses, and like many others hope that fulfills his tennis potential. 

Granted he is coming back from injury, and his level of play will improve from this devastating defeat (which some would call a career low for Tomic). Nevertheless, there are many areas of his mental game that require vast improvement before he can achieve what he is truly capable of on the ATP Tour.