Philipp Petzschner

Canadian wunderkind Milos Raonic (above).

When play commences on the lawns next week, tennis fans will be treated to some very good matchups.  With the Wimbledon draws announced today, we figured we’d let you know what to look out for in the first couple of rounds.  Ladies first:


Ladies Singles–1st Round


(15) Jelena Jankovic vs. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez

Akgul Amanmuradova vs. (23) Venus Williams

Alison Riske (USA) vs. (2) Vera Zvonareva

(6) Francesca Schiavone vs. Jelena Dokic

Christina McHale (USA) vs. Ekaterina Makarova

(18) Ana Ivanovic vs. Melanie Oudin (USA)

Coco Vandeweghe (USA) vs. Eleni Danilidou

Aravane Rezai vs. Serena Williams

Laura Robson vs. Angelique Kerber

(5) Maria Sharapova vs. Anna Chakvetadze


Mens Singles 1st Round


Ryan Sweeting (USA) vs. Pablo Andujar

Fabio Fognini vs. Milos Raonic

Donald Young (USA) vs. Alex Bogomolov Jr. (USA)

Radek Stepanek vs. Fernando Verdasco

Tobias Kamke vs. Blaz Kavcic

Sergiy Stakhovsky vs. Daniel Cox (GBR)

Ivan Ljubicic vs. Marin Cilic

Ivo Karlovic vs. Janko Tipsarevic

Alexander Dolgopolov Jr. vs. Fernando Gonzalez

John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut

David Nalbandian vs. Julian Reister

Robin Soderling vs. Philipp Petzschner

Kei Nishikori vs. Lleyton Hewitt

Marcos Baghdatis vs. James Blake


The women’s draw features Mary Joe Fernandez’s rag tag crew of hack Fed Cuppers, in Oudin, McHale, and Vandeweghe.  Oudin should get dusted by Ivanovic, who, should she lose, should probably hang it up already.  Coco’s got a glimmer of hope against Danilidou.  McHale should get shredded by Makarova.  FYI, Vania King, who has played well, is in the main draw, as is Alison Riske, who has a very tall order in Vera Z.  Who knows?  Grass is Riske’s best surface, and maybe the Pensylvania product gets lucky.  Zvonareva looked dead during her QF at Eastbourne versus Stosur, after winning 8 of the first 12 games and virtually having the match in the bag.  Zvonareva has played a lot of tennis this year.  Could that bode well for the American who should be installed on our FC squad, especially considering America’s woeful state of affairs and relegation from the World Group?  Journeywoman American by way of Russia Varvara Lepchenko did upset 18th seed Flavia Pennetta at Roland Garros, so we’ll give her a bit of a chance here against 19th seed, Yanina Wickmayer.  Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, one of the few women with the stones to consistently attack, has a great shot to upset Jelena Jankovic.  The Spaniard is 2-1 lifetime versus the gutless, annoying Serb.  Also, it would be nice to see young Brit Laura Robson win her first round match with Kerber.  Kerber will be favored.

Not to run on about the men, but we do feel it’s high time that Ryan Sweeting, with his ranking up to 66th, notch his first ever match win on grass.  We’re very interested to see our boy, young beast Milos Raonic on the grass.  The possibility of a 3rd round match between Raonic and Nadal would make for appointment television.  As would a possible Del Potro/Nadal round of 16 affair.  Nice to see DP in the top 25 again (24).  Tommy Haas looks for his first win of the year, and we welcome him back, as well as David Nalbandian, who won 2 rounds at Halle.  We also welcome back Chilean ball crusher Fernando Gonzalez who might be a big problem for Dolgopolov, who seems to adjust poorly to specialty surfaces.  We love Stepanek, a nice net player, as an upset special in round 1.  We’d love to see James Blake do something in the spot versus Baghdatis, but Blake is even more disappointing than usual at Wimbledon.  Things look good for former boys champ Donald Young, in a very winnable 1st round match versus another American Alex Bogolomov.  We always love watching talented 1-hander Segiy Stakhovsky, who gets diminutive British hack Daniel Cox in round 1.  We hope Soderling has a good run here but it wouldn’t shock us if Philipp Petzschner, a very good grass courter and last year’s doubles champ gave him a good go.  Our favorite techno tennis player, Janko Tipsarevic has his hands full with ace machine Ivo Karlovic.  We might put a few dinari on Dr. Ivo.  It would be a good time for Marin Cilic to wake up, though we don’t have much confidence in that.

And in maybe the most celebrated first round rematch ever, we look for Giant John Isner, whose ranking has fell to near 50, to get back on track and take care for Mahut before it gets to 70-68 in the 5th.  Isner has weathered the clay season, and can not be faulted for taking Nadal to 5 hard sets at Roland Garros in round 1.  We look for him to have a great summer starting here, and carrying over to the American summer hardcourt season.

Crack (,        

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (above).

Queen’s Club Mens Final


Jo-Wilfried Tsonga:  + 290

Andy Murray:  – 380


Gerry Weber Mens Final (Halle, Germany)


Philipp Kohlschreiber:  – 155

Philipp Petzschner:  + 125


Eastbourne Ladies Final


Sabine Lisicki:  + 130

Daniela Hantuchova:  -160

Best for first.  You’d have to love, as do we, Andy Murray, soldiering on with torn ligaments in his ankle, knowing full well he can’t miss the grass season without a polite British revolt, and after working out some problems earlier in the week, he thrashed Andy Roddick today, and maybe had the best serving day of his career.  High praise.  Not that Roddick played nearly sharply or aggressively to win.  But Tsonga is who we are interested in here.  He’s a good value at + 290.  Tsonga is an attacker and he had Nadal confounded on Friday, and then took care of the other local, James Ward, who was vying to make Queens an all English affair.  In straights.  If Murray is laying the ball out there in Tsonga’s strike zone, then he is going to play well.  Murray needs to return very well tomorrow.  Grass is perfectly suited to Tsonga’s game, and this is the best we’ve seen him look on the surface.  A win for Murray would make for his second grass title and his 2nd at Queens, where he defeated James Blake in 2009.

Kudos to the Germans who will be getting an all German affair at Halle, after the 2 Philipp’s both won today as dogs.  Kohllschreiber, an upset specialist who narrowly lost this title to Federer a few years back, stuck it to a broken down Gael Monfils.  Wimbledon doubles champ Philipp Petzschner, a late bloomer, and a very intriguing talent, especially on grass, whom John McEnroe has described as having a “perfect” service motion, should play some very entertaining tennis.  Gun to our heads, we’d probably take PK.

As for the ladies, again, kudos to Germany.  Good to see Sabine Lisicki beat that chubby, wretched double hander on bothh wings, Peng Shuai.  Lisicki gets Hantuchova in the final, who we hate hate hate as a favorite.  We thought Ivanovic, who served great this week, a great sign, would pull through in her first semi of the year, but unfortunately it was not to be.  Still, her stock is up, and we like her game much better on fast courts than on clay, where she won the French once upon a time.  We wouldn’t be surprised if Ivanovic gets her act back together this summer.  Taking nothing away from Hantuchova, who played a great match, but the ugly two fisted swinging backhand volleys?  Bad tennis.  Hantuchova, for a usually well ranked gal, doesn’t win hardware much.  Keep it in mind.

BTW, Andy Murray will be breathing some rarefied air with a win tomorrow, joining Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl as 2 time winners at Queens.  John McEnroe, Lleyton Hewitt, and Andy Roddick are 4 time winners, and Boris Becker and Jimmy Connors have won there 3 times.

Stay glued to The Tennis Channel starting bright and early for all 3 finals.

Crack (,

Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka (left) discussing doubles strategy in Davis Cup (above).

Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka are off to a good start, in their first doubles pairing since taking the gold against the Bryan brothers in 2008 in Beijing.  In the main draw of the doubles together at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, the Swiss team obliterated the tested major doubles winners Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor, who recently paired after Nestor split from long time patner, Serbian Nenad Zimonjic, with whom he had won 3 major titles.  Zimonjic and Nestor represented the stiffest competition in doubles for the Bryan brothers over recent years and were widely considered no worse than #2 and perhaps even the best doubles pair in the men’s game while together.  Nestor also enjoyed immense success with Mark Knowles, with whom he also won 3 major titles with on the men’s side.  Mirnyi is a 4 time major doubles champion and a 3 time major mixed champion, winning two titles with Serena Williams and one with Victoria Azarenka.

The new team of Mirnyi and Nestor went to the semi-finals in Melbourne at their first major together, and recently in Memphis, they took home their first hardware.  But on the soft as clay slow Plexicushion of IW, the new team was no match for Roger and Stan, who thoroughly dominated on the way to a 6-1, 6-2 victory.  Federer and Wawrinka will face crafty Frenchmen Benneteau and Gasquet in the round of 16, and could possibly face defending champs Nadal/Lopez in the semis, though a matchup with Wimbledon champs Melzer/Petzschner possibly looms for the Spaniards.

As for Federer announcing his first Davis Cup participation since a fairly meaningless go round with the Italians in 2009, we can’t claim that little old us had anything to do with it, but the Fed D.C. word did come a few days after we had taken Rog to task for his lack of participation:

Again, we get it.  Federer is the all time mens singles major champion with the Swiss flag behind him, so what does it matter that he doesn’t have a DC title?  A tennis purist would say it does matter some.  There is no definitive greatest player of all time, and everyone from Borg to McEnroe, Sampras, and Nadal have won the DC, and in most cases, had at least one title they were the impetus behind.  The only greats we can think of that have not won the Davis Cup are the ultra selfish and loutish Jimmy Connors, and Federer. Perhaps Federer, like Connors did, will feel the hole in his immortal resume, and come back to Davis Cup in his twilight years.  And unlike Connors, Federer is great enough to pull off such a thing and win a late DC title, maybe even into his early 30′s.  Maybe Federer has lost a bit of his ‘major edge’ because he isn’t as tested in Davis Cup lately and in the best of 5 set format as the last 3 guys who have beaten him at majors, Soderling, Berdych, and Djokovic.

Yeah, we didn’t want to make too much of it, but we’ve been quietly directing Roger’s career for some time, if you must know.  The Annacone hire, now the return to Davis Cup and to tour doubles competition…what purist wouldn’t be happy?

Federer needs to keep his head here at IW in the coming days when it comes to his singles draw.  With wins over Andreev tomorrow and then the Chela/Petzschner winner, and if Canadian budding super-star Milos Raonic, holding firm at world #37 and fresh off his first ever Masters Series match win yesterday, can defeat Mardy Fish tomorrow for the 2nd time in 3 weeks and then take the winner of Ryan Harrison/GG Lopez, then Federer and Raonic would meet in the round of 16.

Not that we are worried, but in our honest assessment, Raonic is already a big time player and is definitely the best North American youngster to come up through Canada or America since Andy Roddick did 10 years ago.  Much more on Raonic to follow, and we’ll pay particular attention to a Federer/Raonic matchup, should we be lucky enough to see that come off.

Federer and Raonic will both play in televised matches Sunday on The Tennis Channel.

Crack (,

World # 1, 2nd seed, and 2008 Wimbledon Champion Rafael Nadal survived another tough 5 setter, coming back from 2 sets to 1 down in successive rounds, to beat talented German Philipp Petzschner, 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 in 3 hours and 45 minutes earlier on Centre Court.  Nadal faced a much taller order than it seemed in the first set, when the Spaniard was able to control play with his heavy forehand, earning a break of serve in the first game of the match and then holding for a 6-4 lead after one set.

Some 2 hours and 45 minutes later, Nadal had still not mustered another break against the very impressive German, who John McEnroe said, has a “totally perfect service motion.”  Petzschner only saw 1 break opportunity on Nadal’s serve, and took advantage with quick hands at the net, knocking off a forehand volley to level the match at a set a piece.  In the third set, Petzschner’s tactics really seemed to be bothering Nadal, who was also limited by physical problems.  Petzschner (below), uniquely employing both a one handed slice backhand and an abbreviated motion one hander, along with a 2 handed backhand, either sliced back Nadal’s topspin or blocked it back by taking the ball early, using Nadal’s pace, which gave Nadal enormous problems.

Petzschner’s perfect service motion produced 25 aces and many clutch serves in the first three sets, as even though he got down a mini break in the third set tie breaker, he was still able to serve out the set.  Nadal seemed bothered by his left elbow, which was one of the reasons he had trainers out to Centre Court in the third set.  Later, Nadal received a massage to his right knee area, a chronic trouble spot for the grinder due to his style of play.  Nadal was also unnerved when he received a warning for receiving coaching, which Mary Carillo called “about time.”

The 26 year old Petzschner, largely a doubles specialist until last year, played a phenomenal three sets against Nadal, and had his opportunities to eliminate the Spaniard–the 2nd straight match in which Nadal looked imminently beatable.  Petzschner, the world # 44, came in to the year around 80, and has caught our eye with his impressive variety and touch, which he had on display today, as well as his guts–the German approached the net 71 times in the match, served and volleyed frequently, and had to make several difficult half volleys.  In fact, Petzschner seemed to have a great gameplan in place against Nadal, one that Roger Federer should have taken copious notes on.

Nadal, who said after the match that his injuries have resulted from playing so many matches in the last few months, said his knee was “not so bad.”  He will face Frenchman Paul Henri Matthieu in the round of 16, who we can’t recall ever giving Rafa much trouble.

But Nadal could face a troublesome quarter-final matchup should favorites win out.  Robin Soderling, who beat Thomaz Bellucci in straights today, could face Nadal in the quarter-finals.

–Crack (

 World #2 and defending Wimbledon champion Roger Federer ran his win streak at Halle to 29 matches and his overall grass win streak to 11 matches by notching a close victory over one handed German Philipp Petzschner today, 7-6 (3), 6-4 in 1 hour and 32 minutes.

The victory sets up matchup number 25 between Federer and former Wimbledon aand US Open champion and world # 1, Lleyton Hewitt, who defeated Germany’s Benjamin Becker today, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3), 6-2 in 2 hours and 24 minutes.

Federer, despite some famously well played matches in the series, has not lost to Hewitt in 15 matches, dating back to 2003.  Hewitt got off to a great start against Federer in his career, winning 7 0f their first 9 contests, but now trails in the head to head 17 to 7.  Federer made an important tactical change against Hewitt to turn the tide in his favor, when he stopped coming forward as much against the Aussie, who likes having a target at net and who doesn’t generate enough pace on his own to take Federer from the baseline.  Take a look at their head to heads below:

Year Tournament & City Surface Round Winner & Score
2010 Australian Open
Hard R16 Federer, Roger
6-2, 6-3, 6-4 Stats
2009 US Open
NY, U.S.A.
Hard R32 Federer, Roger
4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 Stats
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati
OH, U.S.A.
Hard Q Federer, Roger
6-3, 6-4 Stats
2008 Wimbledon
Great Britain
Grass R16 Federer, Roger
7-6(7), 6-2, 6-4 Stats
2007 ATP Masters Series Cincinnati
OH, U.S.A.
Hard S Federer, Roger
6-3, 6-7(7), 7-6(1) Stats
2007 ATP Masters Series Canada
Hard Q Federer, Roger
6-3, 6-4 Stats
2005 US Open
NY, U.S.A.
Hard S Federer, Roger
6-3, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 Stats
2005 Wimbledon
Grass S Federer, Roger
6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) Stats
2005 ATP Masters Series Indian Wells
California, USA
Hard F Federer, Roger
6-2, 6-4, 6-4 Stats
2004 Tennis Masters Cup
Houston, TX, USA
Hard F Federer, Roger
6-3, 6-2 Stats
2004 Tennis Masters Cup
Houston, TX, USA
Hard RR Federer, Roger
6-3, 6-4 Stats
2004 US Open
NY, U.S.A.
Hard F Federer, Roger
6-0, 7-6(3), 6-0 Stats
2004 Wimbledon
Grass Q Federer, Roger
6-1, 6-7(1), 6-0, 6-4 Stats
2004 ATP Masters Series Hamburg
Clay S Federer, Roger
6-0, 6-4 Stats
2004 Australian Open
Hard R16 Federer, Roger
4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 Stats
2003 AUS v. SUI WG SF
Melbourne, Australia
Hard RR Hewitt, Lleyton
5-7, 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-5, 6-1 
2002 Tennis Masters Cup
Shanghai, China
Hard S Hewitt, Lleyton
7-5, 5-7, 7-5 Stats
2002 ATP Masters Series Paris
Carpet Q Hewitt, Lleyton
6-4, 6-4 Stats
2002 ATP Masters Series Miami
FL, U.S.A.
Hard S Federer, Roger
6-3, 6-4 Stats
2001 ‘s-Hertogenbosch
The Netherlands
Grass S Hewitt, Lleyton
6-4, 6-2 Stats
2000 Basel
Carpet S Federer, Roger
6-4, 5-7, 7-6(6) Stats
2000 ATP Masters Series Canada
Toronto, Canada
Hard R64 Hewitt, Lleyton
3-6, 6-3, 6-2 Stats
2000 AUS V SUI 1RD
Zurich, Switzerland
Carpet RR Hewitt, Lleyton
6-2, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-1 
1999 Lyon
Carpet R32 Hewitt, Lleyton
7-6(4), 2-6, 6-4 Stats

Hewitt, despite not beating Roger in years, does own one victory against Federer on grass, something that few active players can boast.  The match will not be televised live in the United States.

–Crack (

Roger Federer (above), sticks a volley against Alejandro Falla.

World # 2 and defending Wimbledon champion, Roger Federer, ran his lifetime record to 5-0 versus German Philipp Kohlschreiber, extended his overall winning streak on grass to 10, and his winning streak at Halle to 28 matches, with a 7-5, 6-3 win in 1 hour and 8 minutes, in which he did not drop serve.

Tomorrow in the semi-finals, Federer will face another talented German one hander, Philipp Petzschner, a late developing shot maker, who ended 2009 at # 80 and has climbed steadily to world # 41. 

In the other semi-final, Lleyton Hewitt takes on German Ben Becker.  A Federer-Hewitt final would be a rematch of the 2004 US Open final, where Roger destroyed Hewitt 6-0, 7-6 (3), 6-0.  Since 2003, when Hewitt held a 7-2 head to head edge over Federer, Roger has won 15 straight against the Aussie, and has an 8-0 record versus Hewitt at majors in his career.

–Crack (