Janko Tipsarevic


Novak-Djokovic-Australian-Open-2012-ChampionNovak Djokovic (above), the prohibitive favorite to threepeat in Melbourne.

Men’s

Alexandr Dolgopolov

+15000

 

Andy Murray

+250

 

Bernard Tomic

+5000

 

David Ferrer

+2500

 

David Nalbandian

+25000

 

Fernando Verdasco

+20000

 

Gael Monfils

+15000

 

Gilles Simon

+25000

 

Janko Tipsarevic

+15000

 

Jerzy Janowicz

+6000

 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

+3000

 

Juan Martin Del Potro

+1200

 

Kei Nishikori

+10000

 

Kevin Anderson

+50000

 

Lleyton Hewitt

+50000

 

Marcos Baghdatis

+10000

 

Marin Cilic

+15000

 

Milos Raonic

+5000

 

Nicolas Almagro

+25000

 

Novak Djokovic

-160

 

Richard Gasquet

+10000

 

Roger Federer

+400

 

Ryan Harrison

+25000

 

Sam Querrey

+25000

 

Stanislas Wawrinka

+25000

 

Tomas Berdych

+3000

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

Ladies’

Agnieszka Radwanska

+1000

 

Ana Ivanovic

+6000

 

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

+10000

 

Andrea Petkovic

+10000

 

Angelique Kerber

+2000

 

Caroline Wozniacki

+3000

 

Daniela Hantuchova

+20000

 

Francesca Schiavone

+25000

 

Jelena Jankovic

+12500

 

Julia Goerges

+15000

 

Kaia Kanepi

+10000

 

Laura Robson

+8000

 

Maria Kirilenko

+15000

 

Maria Sharapova

+700

 

Marion Bartoli

+6000

 

Mona Barthel

+10000

 

Na Li

+2000

 

Nadia Petrova

+15000

 

Petra Kvitova

+1000

 

Sabine Lisicki

+6000

 

Samantha Stosur

+2500

 

Sara Errani

+12500

 

Serena Williams

-120

 

Shuai Peng

+25000

 

Sloane Stephens

+15000

 

Svetlana Kuznetsova

+15000

 

Venus Williams

+5000

 

Victoria Azarenka

+300

 

Yanina Wickmayer

+50000

……….

Ms. Big Shot and The Master (above).

2012 US Open — Men’s Semi-finals

11:10 AM (CBS)

Tomas Berdych:  + 170

Andy Murray:  – 220

__ __ __ __

David Ferrer:  + 900

Novak Djokovic:  – 1500

__ __ __ __

2012 US Open — Ladies’ Final

7:10 PM (CBS)

Victoria Azarenka:  + 375

Serena Williams:  – 550

………..

All the matches on the slate are of course weather permitting, and right now, with steady rain in the city, it would appear that in the very least, that the start of play will need to be pushed back.  Not as far back perhaps if the USTA acceded to the very sensible suggestions this week, championed especially by Novak Djokovic, that the US Open should cover its courts during rain delays.  In fact, during an angry quarter-final day of waiting to get on, having spent some 10 hours in the players lounge, a frustrated Djokovic asked why no outdoor hardcourt event anywhere in America has the sense to cover courts during rain, saving what he said would be at least 30 minutes at every delay, as is done at Wimbledon.

Perhaps Master Djokovic has not considered the economic impact of allowing wet fans to find cover and comfort for as long as possible near uber expensive bars and concession stands.  We were at The Open during a long rain delay on day one, and we did not see the grounds crew particularly in any rush to get the courts dried once the rain had stopped.  By the way, he is Master Djokovic once again, especially on hardcourts, where he has now a 26 match win streak accumulated, and where, in our minds, he picks up his 2nd consecutive US Open title this weekend, and successfully defends his 2011 hard won crown.  And the win would cement The Djoker as the best player in tennis two years going, with 5 major titles, 8 semis, and 6 finals in the last 8 majors.

Djokovic often is drawn into matches by the pesky Ferrer, who notably beat Djokovic on a fast indoor surface at the YEC in 2011.  But aside from that, Djokovic has dominated this matchup on hards, and he comes in the fresher guy, having seen Ferrer pull out his QF versus Tipsarevic in a 5th set tie-breaker.  We like Djokovic to win fairly easily today.  It has seemed impossible to get a winner by him, and his defense to offense and transition game are both tops in the sport.  All the more impressive are his accomplishments at this Open when considered that he does not get many free points off his serve.  Djokovic is by far the best player in the world, shot to shot, and Ferrer can not dictate enough points and will not be able to take enough risks to keep him at bay.

In the first semi, we’d have to like Murray, despite his 2-4 lifetime mark with Berdy in the head to head.  Berdych had too much for Federer the other night.  It was an ominous development for Roger when Mardy Fish, forever a bastion of disappointment and weakness in our eyes, defaulted his round of 16 with Federer.  While Federer could overcome having a 4-5 day sabbatical in a fast court major during his mid to high prime (Haas, Wimbledon), he can not endure a disruption to his rhythm at this point in his career.  Are we blaming Fish for Fed’s loss?  No.  Federer got dictated to by Berdy’s huge forehand, and Federer always loses when he doesn’t dictate points.  But Federer uncharacteristically spraying forehands out by 25-40′?  Let’s face up to the fact that Federer came out flat and dull.

As far as Fish goes, who else is defaulting in the sweet 16 of the US Open?  Fish destroyed Monday’s schedule at The Open by defaulting that match, and we feel the default played some role in Federer’s outcome.  Fish is now obviously out of Davis Cup for next week, which is a good thing for the US probably because frankly, we feel both Querrey and Isner are bigger threats on clay, and less likely to implode, quit, or fade away than Fish.  So much was made of Fish’s new coach, the whole Mark Knowles dynamic, and really, that dynamic for us is just this: Knowles coddles Fish because Fish is just the sort of milquetoast in need of a super soft touch, showing over the years some of the least resolve we’ve seen on any pro, including Gael Monfils, and perhaps only excepting a Bernard Tomic for his nearly criminally poor effort here versus Roddick.

We don’t care how well Fish can hit a golf ball or a baseball.  We are sick of hearing it.  Tennis players play TENNIS.  Skipping the Olympics because you have bad memories from blowing a gold medal when up 2 sets to one on Nicolas Massu?  Even James Blake could potentially offer Fish some tips on grit and on the magnitude of showing up to and at majors and events of Olympic proportion.  Disgraceful.

Then on to the female Djokovic, our lady Azarenka.  On the women’s side, her shot to shot tennis is by far the best in the game.  She painted lines yesterday, used her feet, and out-willed Maria Sharapova, as we expected but no small feat on a surface where Sharapova won her a US Open by flat over powering another much much better player in Justine Henin (2006) once upon a time.  The Open is one of the few places where Sharapova can overpower Azarenka, but since Azarenka’s defense and D to O and transition games are so flawless, and her conditioning as well, she takes her rightful place in the final tonight.  Where she will probably fall to Serena’s power game, a bitter irony.

Serena at -550 is eerily similar to Serena’s line last year against Stosur, but Serena was just back from injury last year, and so Stosur pulled the unlikely upset.  Azarenka is a phenomenal player who is extremely mentally tough now, obliterating the knock on her psyche that persisted until she put Kim Clijsters out of her misery down under and went on to destroy Masha at Melbourne in taking the crown.  But the last time Azarenka played Serena, and most of those times in fact, it has been all Serena.  There will come a day when Serena hands the mantel over to Vica, but we doubt it’s today.  Still, Azarenka is a worthy champ who has had an incredible tournament.  Hitting a drop shot at 5 all in the tie-breaker versus Stosur to set up match point?  Brilliant and gutsy, and the perfect call, since Stosur had practically sequestered herself 5′ back of the doubles alley in the ad court, where she sets up camp to avoid hitting that ragged, weak 2-handed backhand of her’s.

We’d be least surprised to see an upset in the Murray match, though we think Murray’s defensive ability will negate Berdych’s power.  The Murrays, Djokers, and Nadals of the world do not have as much trouble with power and big serving as Roger does, who is almost certain to lose now when overpowered, as he has been at majors in the last few years by Berdych (twice), Tsonga, and Soderling.  While power often wins out on a fast hard, Murray obviously countered power very effectively in the Raonic and Cilic matches.

And Murray-Djokovic would be an excellent end to The Open for the men, as Azarenka-Serena will no doubt be for the women, provided that Azarenka can get her hooks into a couple of points here and there, and get to a neutral position somehow after receiving the huge Williams first serve.  Just a quick mention of USOPEN.org radio and how fantastic their coverage has been once again here, as it also was in Melbourne and at RG.  And we especially like Matt Cronin on that coverage, who provided us more new information about Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova in one set than we have gotten all week from ESPN.  Cronin’s account of the icy Sharapova-Azarenka was especially candid, humorous, and compelling.  It’s not too late to get two decent days out of that app, so download away.

Enjoy the tennis.

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One handed tennis prodigy Grigor Dimitrov (above), who is coached by Serena Williams new coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

Fitting that with Roger Federer, King of Tennis, King of One Handers, back on his throne, and with the TTC replaying the match 400 times, that they’d get back to, well, not live, but new tennis with one handed prodigy Grigor Dimitrov.  Dimitrov came in this week ranked 69th and comes off an odd retirement at Wimbledon in the second round versus Marcos Baghdatis.  Dimitrov had fought his way up to a high of world #52 in November, as his points accrued through the hard court season.  That Dimitrov has slid back down doesn’t bother us that much.  We think it more a case of him developing than backsliding.  It also doesn’t bother us that he’s playing in Sweden at Skistar.  On clay.  Theoretically, we like to forget about clay during the summer.  The summer is when players need to get ready for the hard court season, but since most players see the early part of the American summer tour as a joke, a lot of Europeans who want to play and stay close to home play Stuttgart and Bastaad.  With players like Almagro, Ferrer, and Robredo there, it’s a viable event where a kid can get valuable match play, and maybe notch some W’s.

Skistar Swedish Open — Semi-finals

David Ferrer:  – 800

Grigor Dimitrov:  + 500

__ __ __ __

Jan Hajek:  + 260

Nicolas Almagro:  – 340

……

And so Dimitrov is into the semi-finals in the early SF versus David Ferrer.  The kid has looked good this week.  He’s a huge underdog and we do not expect him to win, but we’ll take a play on him at that number any day, especially since we root for the kid.  He went to the semis at a vastly diminished Queens last month, but that’s still on his resume.  He is playing solid tennis.  Ferrer on clay is a tough matchup for the kid, for sure.  Last year in Cincinnati they met, and Ferrer, on a very fast hard court that suited Dimitrov, edged the kid 7-5 in the 5th.  Dimitrov should have a little confidence coming in, and perhaps David Ferrer gets tired once in a while?  The man is non stop.  It will be interesting to see how Dimitrov’s backhand holds up against the Ferrer forehand.  At any rate, we like Dimitrov’s progress.  We expect him to finish up here and then get to LA for the Farmer’s Classic.  Dimitrov should move up a lot this summer, as he has a lot more winnable early round matches, and we’ve seen him hold his own against pretty good competition, so now it’s a matter of breaking through.

As for the 2nd matchup, we’ll tell you that Nicolas Almagro makes a living on clay.  We would be very surprised if Almagro and Ferrer aren’t duking this title out on Sunday.  Almagro is a very talented one hander with questionable heart.  The same might be said of Dimitrov.  These guys are very similar, in terms of possible career trajectory.  Hopefully, Dimitrov can do better than Almagro has in big matches, though he has specialized well enough on clay to make the top 10.  We also think Dimitrov’s game translates better to fast courts, and we will be eager to see it.

Mercedes Cup (Stuttgart) — Semi-finals

Janko Tipsarevic :  – 180

Thomaz Bellucci:  + 140

__ __ __ __

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez:  + 300

Juan Monaco: – 400

…….

Let’s be serious.  Juan Monaco is a horrible favorite.  Lopez is a very talented player, and very good on clay.  This is a good opportunity to reclaim some rankings points.  Monaco leads the h2h 3-1, with Lopez’s win coming on clay.  We just kind of feel that in some of these early summer matchups, the fresher player may have a good chance.  So we will take a flyer on Lopez.

Tipsarevic-Bellucci is quite a matchup.  We like Bellucci.  That kid is a clay court specimen.  Bellucci plays a lot like Nadal, who Tipsarevic does not handle well.  Bellucci gets that lefty forehand spinning way out of the smaller man’s strike zone, and the key to the match will be how our favorite Techno tennis player handles that spin.  Bellucci took the only meeting in the series in 2009 at Indian Wells, which might play slower than Stuttgart.

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The injured leg of Andrew McDougall (above), who was essentially recklessly kicked by David Nalbandian.

David Barbarian, um, Nalbandian, while up a set in the AEGON Final at Queen’s Club, in frustration at having been broken in the 7th game of the second set by Marin Cilic, kicked a wooden Nike placard that covered the feet of the line judge, drawing blood on the left shin of bewildered line judge Andrew McDougall, when that wooden placard crashed into his leg.  For any Nalbandian apologists that exist, and there should be few, especially considering the hell Serena is subjected to whenever she has an outburst, we would ask how they could explain away the following video:

Obviously Nalbandian tried to argue that he thought the Nike placard was moored, but with McDougall sitting directly behind it, feet probably touching it, we can not except that rationale.  Whatever happened to throwing your racquet?  Since when are guys kicking things?  It seems that this is something we can only credit to Nalbandian, who in all our years of watching tennis, is the only guy we have ever seen get disqualified in such a manner, for drawing blood to an official.  Let alone, in the final at the once very prestigious Queen’s Club, which used to be frequented by Nadal and Djokovic, but which this year barely pulled 3 players from the top 10 (Murray, Tsonga, Tipsarevic).  Even when our boy John McEnroe flipped out and smacked a cooler of Gatorade which spilled on the King of Sweden, he wasn’t DQ’ed.  Some thought that was funny.  Today’s incident was in no way funny at all.

While we can think of 8 tremendous #1’s who’ve won here (Connors, McEnroe, Becker, Edberg, Lendl, Roddick, Hewitt, and Nadal), 7 of which are Wimbledon champions, we’d have to say that the club is at a low point, as should be David Nalbandian after that act of savagery.  People in tennis definitely took note of world #2 Rafael Nadal’s decision to play Gerry Weber at Halle this week, the first time he had ever committed to a grass court event outside of Merry Olde.  Queen’s has looked completely drab since losing Stella Artois as a sponsor a few years back, and if you are watching Halle, where the main court is state of the art, complete with a retractable roof which slid closed when the sky greyed on Saturday in seconds, you’d have to say that Halle is the superior production.

Having Raonic, Nadal, Federer, and Berdych, among others doesn’t hurt, but the quality of the environment is obviously a factor in why people are playing Halle over Queen’s, when Halle was widely considered the inferior week to Queen’s until now.  From what we can see, the courts seem quicker at Halle as well, which, for tennis purists and grass court fanatics like us, means that for a rare week we get to see classic bang bang tennis, with more balls being taken directly out of the air.  It’s also nice to see a court where the ball stays low, allowing dynamic one handers like Federer, Haas, and Kohlschreiber to do damage on the backhand wing.

Halle had a magical week, featuring Federer-Raonic III, which was again decided by a third set breaker, and really, hinged once again on the scantest of margins, a mini break to Federer, who had really not managed a thing on Raonic’s first serve again.  We’re not surprised.  You know how we feel about the kid.  As for Roger losing to Tommy Haas today, we are very surprised.  Federer has looked listless in finals here in recent years, also very uncharacteristically losing to Lleyton Hewitt in 2010.  Seemed like he put the cart before the horse today, a day after blistering Mikhail Youzhny, and looking quite like the old champ.

But the result at Halle, with Haas, an exciting grass courter and dynamic player, returning to form is great for the game.  Unlike at Queen’s, where Nalbandian acted reprehensibly.  And for that matter, the British crowd, who applauded him, after a weak apology.  Sure, they wanted to see more tennis and that is understandable, but once that match is called, how can you applaud a guy who injures an innocent?

And how does Nalbandian pull this stunt up a set?  Complete disgrace.  We’d like to know why the tennis world is so silent on this debacle in its wake this evening?  Nalbandian should be suspended for Wimbledon.  The ATP is sending the wrong message if they allow him to play.

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Kvitova and Azarenka shake hands at Wimbledon (above).

Petra Kvitova, who we felt was the best woman in the world by far going into 2012, ran her indoor unbeaten streak to 27 yesterday.  Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon and Fed Cup champion, as well as the YEC champ for 2011, defeated Angelique Kerber in a tight but quick two sets.  That’s how the girl plays it.  Fast and aggressive.  We must say again how much we like her style, leading with a big lefty serve and big big forehand and backhand wings.  Too big for Kerber, who plays big herself, and who has climbed steadily in the rankings as one of the hottest players on tour in the last 12 months.

Kerber is excellent at holding serve, a lost art in the women’s game.  This week she took out Caroline Wozniacki in straights, her second victory over the Dutch Miss in straights in essentially 5 days, after also meeting at E-Bok in Copenhagen last weekend.  While Wozniacki will continue in the wrong direction, we think Kvitova is ready to present herself to Victoria Azarenka for the slugfest that should have gone down in the final at Melbourne.  Kvitova had a very uneven Australian and American soft hardcourt season, losing unexpectedly to Maria Sharapova in the semis Down Under.  Tomorrow, Kvitova has a chance to strike back at Maria Sharapova, who frankly used all of her 9 lives today in battling back to win from match point down against former French champ Sam Stosur.  Here are the odds for tomorrow’s semifinals:

Porsche Open @ Stuttgart, Germany — Semifinal

Petra Kvitova:  – 160

Maria Sharapova:  – 120

__ __ __ __

Victoria Azarenka:  – 260

Agniezska Radwanska:  + 200

……

Kvitova, who defeated Azarenka on red clay last year to take the title in Madrid, has won 4 straight in the head to head, and holds a convincing 4-2 lead all time.  She has not lost to Vica since 2008.  All throughout Azarenka’s magical run, she has not had to face Kvitova, who along with Serena Williams represent the only matchup problems for her on the tour.  Kvitova is also a tremendous specialty surface player.  She has mastered indoor clay and hardcourts, has won on grass, and has always been the better clay courter.

Azarenka would seem to move a little better than Kvitova, but remember that Kvitova is dictating, giving her more opportunities to relax.  The extra power she garners, we think, will go further for her this clay court season than Azarenka with her slight edge in movement.  Kvitova is a perfect fit on clay as she moves naturally in the dirt, which is a huge edge (ask Sharapova).  It’s also a nice advantage to be able to hit through the court and move up gracefully for short balls.

Sharapova once claimed she was like a “cow on ice” at Roland Garros.  She’s a worker, and even after the shoulder surgery has made the semis at Roland Garros.  But you know how we feel about Sharapova not thinking the game and being so fundamentally unsound.  It’s not gonna fly here.  We also like that Kvitova had a relatively easy match today compared to Maria.

While Stuttgart is red clay, the indoor setting provides no wind at all, meaning the ball has less resistance through the court.  Serves and serve tosses are also unaffected, which obviously helps big servers.  Kvitova is made for this arena, and should carry the success here through the rest of the season and into the grass season.  We expect she will.  She is our favorite at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, which is saying a lot, considering how well Azarenka has done.  But we always felt that Azarenka’s star was further in the offing, and that Kvitova’s was already here.  Then it left.  Now she’ll get it back.

Azarenka struggled today with Mona Barthel, Germany’s latest breakout player.  Barthel got off strong in 2012 taking the title in Hobart with ease, then qualifying for the Australian and winning two rounds before falling to Azarenka.  She has now lost to Azarenka 3 times this year, and until yesterday hadn’t managed a competitive set.  Barthel is improving quickly though, and the tight match today is no knock on Azarenka.  In fact, we have to hand it to her for fighting off Barthel, who at one point had saved 12 of 16 break points this morning.  We would not be surprised if Radwanska upset Azarenka tomorrow, though we aren’t in love with her in this spot.  And we really hope to see Kvitova-Azarenka for the first time in 2012, as it is the matchup most anticipated by keen watchers.

As for the men:

Open Sabadell ATP 500 @ Madrid, Spain — Semifinals

Rafael Nadal:  – 2500

Fernando Verdasco:  + 1200

__ __ __ __

David Ferrer:  – 250

Milos Raonic:  + 190

……

We’d be tempted to pick against Nadal at those prices, except we hate Verdasco, who is 0-12 lifetime in the matchup.  He hasn’t even really gotten too close.  In one of the most similar settings to this one we could recall, the final in 2010 at Monte Carlo, Nadal rolled, 6-0, 6-1.  And it was more lopsided than that.  If Verdasco and his team, led by Darren Cahill, were going to put a winning gameplan together for Rafa, it would have happened already.  And then there was Tipsarevic who said after today’s 6-2, 6-2 loss to Nadal that the Spaniard has never looked better on clay.

Let Nadal win all the 500’s he can and we won’t care.  The real test will be at RG.  We’ll be betting Djokovic, especially if Nadal exhausts himself by going greedy, which he usually does on the dirt.  The other semi has us all done up.  We’re hoping that Raonic can get it done.  Nadal-Raonic/Kvitova-Azarenka would be a dream Sunday indeed.  If we can’t have both we’d settle for one.

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Ivan Lendl (above, R.) makes time for new pupil Andy Murray.  But will he make enough time?

We’ve been meaning to admonish Andy Murray a little.  Perhaps it was good we waited, in light of the news that he was banged up in Miami.  We’re still gonna admonish him, but if he was nursing a hip injury it would explain why he didn’t execute on his game plan in Sunday’s Miami final against Djokovic.

We didn’t see much from Murray there who was extremely lucky to be in that final.  We know Murray likes playing on this surface, theoretically.  But he hasn’t played nearly as well in Miami on the Defensepro surface as he has on Plexicushion, where he has made 2 Australian finals and in one of the semis dominated Rafael Nadal.  Defensepro is the slowest hard surface at any of the stops on the tour.  Floridians like their hardcourts to be gritty and sandy.  All of their players seem to be In the mold of their matriarch, Chris Evert.  Pushers until the end.  Though Evert did it all on the court as well as anyone and these little girls and boys just seem to embody the pukey pusher stuff.

Theoretically, Murray is ideal at pukey pusher.  In actuality, he does better when he dictates and goes for his ground strokes.  He doesn’t get any free points at all on that slow of a court and that’s too few for anyone.  So a guy like Tipsarevic, who takes some initiative, can do damage.  But Murray goes classic grinder, letting it get to where he was a set and a break down before really grinding it out.  And in doing so, he comes up a little lame on what looked to be his left side, probably off another back footed forehand.  He seemed to tweak his left hip.  Still he pulled out that match and won his next on a Nadal retirement.  Who is surprised by that (but that’s another story)?

So Murray, we thought looked good in that match based on Nadal’s gimped out knee.  After looking at how Djokovic dismantled Murray in that final, we’d like to reconsider.  Murray might have been hampered in that match.  Could Djokovic have dominated like that for so long if Murray was right?  Probably.  But the last few matchups have been very close.  Djokovic is the king of slow hardcourts after all though.  His winning in a route over anyone could not come as all that surprising.

But Murray seemed abnormally frustrated in that match to us.  We are thinking he was not right.  Even so, he’s had a healthy year so far and he has made the final of the year’s only major.  The Lendl philosophy has been omitted from certain matches, like his loss to Guillermo Garcia Lopez at Indian Wells.  He played classic pusher tennis, thinking his gameplan could be simple enough to just direct toward the Lopez backhand.  Too simple indeed, and though it worked against Tipsarevic in South Beach, the effect of the grind left Murray too lame for Djokovic.

Lendl is there to remake the Murray forehand and embolden the kid to do more than push.  Though he’s not really there there to the point were Cahill is sub coaching a bunch.  Cahill and Lendl have very different philosophies.  Lendl is also there to improve the gameplanning.  Just directing to a guy’s backhand seemed to be the Cahill strategy, and that’s about the speed of a Cahill blueprint.  That style will however suit him well on clay where, in our minds, he has improved a great deal.  Murray seemed to play all his matches on clay with  confidence.  He made the semis at Roland Garros.  He looked to have a real shot against Djokovic in Rome where he took the 1st set 6-1.  That was one of the best sets he played all last year and one of the best anyone played all year.

So hard to predict how he’ll come into the clay season.  He seemed last year to really find his footing on clay, but he did get in a nice rhythm with matches.  We think that this year his success on clay will be tied to Lendl.  Lendl was an excellent clay courter, winning 3 FO titles.  If Lendl is there running the show then Murray can do a lot of damage.

That’s a far cry from where we are usually at with him.  At one point we were convinced he’d never pan out on clay.  But now he is probably 4th or 5th best on clay with a much more realistic shot at taking out a Titan in the big spot.  Lendl is perhaps the biggest winner in coaching right now with 8 majors.  Lendl gets Murray so well because he also liked to ground stroke people to death once upon a time.  Lendl was one of the first players to start passing up volleys in favor of big forehands.  Bad tennis.  We hate to see that.  Happens every few seconds in the women’s game, and almost that frequently in the men’s game.

To be very honest though, while Murray is a fine talent, he is not the Lendl doomsday stroking machine.  Lendl’s poor short game and shaky transition skills prevented him from ever winning Wimbledon, which served him right for essentially starting the trend away from complete tennis.  Murray, a pretty good doubles player, actually does have great hands at net.  But as we’ve said of Murray’s hands at net, they are more like the tree falling in the forest.  How would anyone know about them if he never actually uses them?

Hopefully Lendl will give the kid an honest appraisal of what it takes to win Wimbledon, a sort of ‘the error in my ways’ speech.  The irony is rich.  Wimbledon being so big for Murray, as it was for Lendl, who won everything but.  But first, Lendl has to get the kid primed for clay season, a far easier task with Murray’s skills seeming to really click on clay last year, but hard enough via cell phone or skype.

So we’d really like Murray on clay, a bit more than on grass anyway, if we knew that Lendl was actually going to be there.  After Murray spent a month with Lendl prior to Australia, his forehand looked cleaner than ever.  the last few weeks though, his forehand looks more like another Adidas star, Caroline Wozniacki.  While we said recently that we’d be happy to take zero for our over/under on Murray career majors, we could also see him winning big on every surface.  It’s that close.

We know Lendl sees it too.  He wouldn’t roll out of bed for just anyone.  He was after all completely absent from the tour almost all of these years since retiring.  But if he still has that yen to be away from the game as much as he has been since taking Murray’s reins, then he is the wrong man for Murray, who’s youth is fading fast.

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Tonight’s headliners, Milos Raonic (L.) and Roger Federer.

Up first at 8:30 PM EST, we’ve got a very good dog in Janko Tipsarevic facing David Nalbandian.  Here are the odds:

2012 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells — Round of 32

Janko Tipsarevic:  – 170

David Nalbandian:  + 135

…….

We very much believe that this line is a product of Nalbandian’s name recognition.  These guys have met just the once, in Melbourne, 2007, and Tipsarevic blew a 2-0 set lead and retired down 2-1 in the fifth.  That was five years ago, and a lot has changed for these two.  Tipsarevic has been strong, and sits at world #10, while Nalbandian is down around #74.  We feel that Nalbandian gets a lot of respect based on the past, but that he hasn’t done much to actually earn any in recent history.  We are going with the favorite here.  Nalbandian, though he plays close to the baseline, is a very old school grinder.  A grinder like him has to work very hard to win, and we haven’t seen him put a lot of work into any one match in several years.  This is a tale of two guys going in opposite directions, and in fact, we won’t be surprised if there is announcement forthcoming about Nalbandian, who loves the good life, horses, ladies, and fast cars.  We think he loves all that stuff at this point a lot more than he loves doing the work necessary to win.

Round of 16 — 9 PM EST

Nadia Petrova:  – 130

Maria Kirilenko:  even

…..

We just don’t feel Nadia Petrova is a good favorite.  The h2h is 4-3 for Petrova, and that’s been a slim margin, with the last two matches going to Petrova in 3 hotly contested sets.  Hate to be so un-PC (sarcasm), but we just kinda like the slimmer girl here on a slow as molasses hardcourt in a night session.  We also feel the Russian countrywoman rivalry can’t be overstated.  Kirilenko comes into this match as the higher ranked player for the first time in their 8 matchups.  Kirilenko seems to us to be the better player for a lot of reasons, and we are happy to see some nice odds by her name.  We also like her younger, hotter legs.

  Round of 16 — 9:30 PM EST

Marion Bartoli:  – 240

Lucie Safarova:  + 180

………

Bartoli leads the h2h 5-1.  We are going to stick with the same logic, or similar, to that used in our Petrova-Kirilenko analysis.  You should know by now that of all the players that play this game on the women’s side, Bartoli is one of our most hated, for the stupidest shot of them all, her signature two handed forehand.  While this surface does give her time to wield that ugly thing, she is the lesser conditioned athlete and Safarova has the younger legs.  Safarova makes a living by smacking players around who are favored.  We like her here.  In general, we like her variety, and she plays a lot of doubles, and has nice hands.  But what works best for her in this spot is her ability to scramble.  We are taking Safarova.

Round of 32 — 10:05 PM EST

Milos Raonic:  + 325

Roger Federer:  – 450

………..

I’d be shocked if Federer loses a set.  Really shocked.  Federer is playing magnificent tennis.  He has lost one tennis match since October.  He has been so dialed in on his service games.  We love Raonic, but we see the cracks.  The kid is about 20, or a young 21, and his lateral movement, while improved, is not Fed ready.  Last year at this time, we were very disappointed when Ryan Harrison, who scored a nice win over GG Lopez yesterday, upset Raonic and upended the Federer-Raonic sweet 16 matchup.  But the book on Raonic was thin then.  Now that the book is thicker, we can’t see him giving this year’s Federer, who seems, more alive than last year’s, any trouble.  In fact, we are predicting a bit of a Federer old school clinic.  Raonic served very comfortably the other day, and hit a lot of aces against awful Carlos Berlocq, as my mother could do.  Things will get very hairy for Roger come Nadal in the semis, but not tonight.  At least, we’d be very surprised if he is taxed by the kid.  There’s not a lot to be made off of a line so lopsided, but we have Roger advancing with ease.  Though we are very excited to see the first of hopefully many matches between the two, and acknowledge that Raonic is one of the very few players able to bring the big game to Roger, and that guys who have like Tsonga, Berdych, and Soderling, have had their moments.  BTW, a quick word on Harrison.  This kid had a terrible time winning matches after IW last season.  He really took his lumps.  We expect him to have a much better spring-summer this year, and to really climb up the rankings.  He’s a smart player, he’s an intense kid who wants to win, and we think he will take those lumps and turn them into positives.

Round of 16 — 11:30 PM EST

Ana Ivanovic:  + 140

Caroline Wozniacki:  – 180

………

Sofia Arvidsson played a great match against Wozniacki last night, and showed exactly how a veritable nobody can beat the Dutch Miss.  Arvidsson has played well this year, and surprised us with her win in Memphis.  She plays aggressive tennis, and she gave Wozniacki all she could handle, and frankly, a Wozniacki can’t really look in the mirror today and be proud of that style she plays, when she barely survives a player like Arvidsson, in approximately three hours, of which she was out played handily for the first two.  Wozniacki was warned for receiving in point coaching last night from her father, and you know what?  Her father should shut the fuck up because it didn’t help any, and we have to question whether anything he does helps any.  Wozniacki, we’ll say again, doesn’t think the game, and that is something that a coach, a real coach, would teach her.  How many more back foot forehands are we gonna have to bear, also?

In assessing her game, Lindsay Davenport, the anti-Wozniacki, said that she could be more aggressive off her backhand wing, that she has the ability to dictate with the backhand, but that her forehand basically needs a complete overhaul.  We concur.  And if you checked the stats last night after set one, Wozniacki had 4 forehand winners and lost her serve 3 times.  And she could not get her second serve out of the mid 70’s.  But we shall see.  If Wozniacki goes out early here, and fails to defend all these points from winning here last year, she is going to wake up 7th in the world next week.

She won’t need a fancy Rolex watch to know what time it is.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

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