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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Four Players that Could Beat Nadal at the French

Rafael Nadal looked unbelievable in his 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 win today over Denis Istomin. Nadal was never in trouble and finished the match on his serve with crushing forehand winners. Rafa looks ready to win his seventh French Open title to pass Bjorn Borg. Besides Federer, Djokovic, and Murray can anyone derail Rafa? Even these three players would be underdogs.

I believe there are a few guys that could catch Rafa by surprise and give him real problems. Nadal's only loss at the French was to Robin Soderling who was hitting winners off both sides. Soderling put Rafa on the defensive with an aggressive, first-strike style from the baseline. Is there anyone in this draw that can give Nadal similar headaches in the 2012 French Open?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Three Slams and the Olympics Makes it A Grueling, Pressure-Packed Summer of Tennis

Did you realize that between May 27th, the start of the French Open, until September 9th, the final of the US Open, the men and women will play three Grand Slams and the Olympics?

The French Open which started Sunday begins the trek. Then, next comes Wimbledon followed by the Olympics at Wimbledon, and finally the US Open. Do you think Rafa will show up for Davis Cup vs. the United States the week after the US Open? Don't bet on it.

If you break it down that is 6 weeks of Grand Slam tennis and at least 1 week of Olympic Tennis. In the 15 weeks or 105 days during this time period. There is the potential for players to compete in a Slam or at the Olympics in 27 matches. That is more than 1 every four days! And, that does not account for the hot summer grass court tournaments in Europe, and the usually sweltering summer stops in the United States.

I would expect upsets, retirements and injuries, and no one to run the gamut. It is asking way too much for any player to win all of these matches. Let's just hope that players can avoid bad injuries. Agassi won 24 straight matches in the US summer tour only to lose the final match at the US Open to Pete Sampras. Agassi felt drained and talked about how he really was affected for some time by losing that match.

If you a tennis fan this is the best stretch of tennis ever! Fed at Wimbledon during the Olympics? Amazing. The pressure and the stories will be off the charts.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Focus at the Forefront for Del Potro, Azarenka, Simon, Baker

Focus is the key at the French. It was the difference between players struggling but surviving, and some players like David Nalbandian getting ousted in the first round.

The first two days of the French Open mostly played to form. Seeded players handled their unseeded opponents, routinely in many cases. However, what is the future for Juan Martin Del Potro and Victoria Azarenka at the French Open? Can they reel their games in as they go along at a Slam?

Del Potro struggled mightily to get past Albert Montanes in four grueling sets. Give Montanes his due; he is an excellent clay court player. But, what does this mean for Del Potro's form? What about his physical state? He looked like he was limping and not sure of himself. Fortunately for Del Po Montanes lost his focus and his game allowing the Argentine to roll in the fourth set. Credit to Del Potro for not panicking and keeping his focus when Montanes was rolling, but he will need more to move deep in this tournament.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

David Ferrer and Four Other Sentimental Favorites at French Open

Chances are that the winner of the men's draw at the 2012 French Open will come from one of three men: Nadal, Djokovic, or Federer. Del Potro is the only man to break the top three's stranglehold on the Slams in the last seven years. Nonetheless, I am going to list some of my sentimental favorites to win this French Open.

It is hard to say who is most deserving to win an Open who has not, but David Ferrer of Spain has to be close to the top of the list. The guy works incredibly hard for every point and has a stature that the weekend player can relate to. Ferrer, however, is unable to crack the top three (like everyone else). He is a bulldog and will be there in the second week. Maybe this is his year if Rafa slips up (again this post is about "what ifs" not reality).

Another sentimental favorite has to be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Even though he did not give himself a chance to win it, if he somehow did win his home country Open it would be a spectacle. Tsonga has huge, exciting game that has not always translated to wins at the French. A remarkable win over Federer at Wimbledon should give Tsonga some belief when it comes to beating the Top 3 (although Federer did smash at the US Open).

What would this list be without Andy Murray? Murray has won more matches than anyone I can remember without winning a Slam. Could this be the time? Murray is with new coach Ivan Lendl and looked better in the Australian Open. I believe he will eventually win a Slam because he has beaten the Top 3 on many occasions, just not in a Slam final. It is hard to imagine Murray winning his first slam on clay, but Agassi won his first on grass. You never know.

Someone noted on Twitter that it is hard to believe Juan Carlos Ferrero has not advanced past the third round of the French Open since 2003. That is the year the JCF won the tournament and looked like he could be the next multiple French Open champion and successor to Gustavo Kuerten. It is has not worked out that way, and Ferrero has not even sniffed the final weekend in eight years since his win. How cool would it be if Ferrero went on a magical run at a second title?

The fifth sentimental favorite to win the French Open is David Nalbandian. Nalbandian is great to watch and has unbelievable strokes. In the last decade he is one of the best players to not win a Slam. Previously the nemesis of Roger Federer, injuries and time off have pushed Nalbandian out of the spotlight as a potential champion. No matter; of all the guys unranked lurking in the draw this is the guy you do not want to play. If he puts it together he can beat anyone.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tsonga Believes A Frenchman Won't Win Roland Garros

Many people have noted that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bears a resemblance to the great boxer Muhammad Ali. The quote I read from the website suggesting that Tsonga believes that a Frenchman cannot win the French Open is furthest thing from resembling the ultimate self-believer, Ali.

Tsonga's quote from (story is at

"Let's be clear, there is no chance that a French win Roland Garros," he told reporters in Rome. "There is no inevitability in my comments. It's just an observation. But not to be able win a Masters 1000 clay, then a Grand Slam seems impossible."

Azarenka Dominance in 2012 Due to Adaptation of Mental Approach

Victoria Azarenka has been dominating the WTA tour for most of 2012. Her first loss came in Key Biscayne. That is in April! Azarenka did not credit a change in grip, stroke, or conditioning for her revelation. Instead it was all about perspective and mental approach.

In the June edition of Tennis magazine, Azarenka discusses the five things that have led to her success:

1. Practice with the intensity of the match
2. Stay calm - but not too calm
3. Find a teaching pro who lets you develop your way
4. Go back to basics when you're losing
5. Enjoy the game

Thursday, May 17, 2012

French Open 2012 Blog Begins May 27

The 2012 French Open is just around the corner. Qualifying begins on May 22. I will be blogging about the French Open starting May 27th.

The blog will focus on key matches and the mental dynamics that occurred in those matches. I will attempt to show how players were able to mentally win or lose matches and then boil that in to lessons for junior players, coaches, and parents.

In the meantime enjoy the Italian Open and get mentally ready for some grinding tennis from Roland Garros.