Wow how hard has it been to predict the matches this week? The ATP made a big mistake in bowing to pressure from the top players like Nadal to shorten the season. One of the things they have done is to remove the week’s rest between Paris and the World Tour Finals. This has meant that the players with a genuine chance of winning next week or of at least going close have not given 100% in Paris or haven’t given it full attention. I wonder how long Nadal would have lasted this week had he actually been playing?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but during the first couple of games of Murray’s match with Janowicz he wasn’t quite himself. He was too relaxed and the intensity that we expect from him wasn’t there. He almost got away with it and served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but that lack of intensity along with Janowicz’ go-for-broke play lost him the game, then the set and then the match.
Llodra is playing his best tennis for a long while but Del Potro won’t have been devastated at losing that one given his great week last week and also with him having a genuine chance in London.
I think Djokovic’s loss to Querrey was more downto his stomach bug and the distraction of having his father in hospital but next week’s WT Finals certainly won’t have encouraged him to fight quite as much as normal.
Federer was defending champion in Paris but chose to lose those points to be better prepared for London.
So who have we got left?
Tsonga reached the final in Paris and has qualified for next week but does he have a realistic chance of winning the WTF? personally I don’t think so and he might be better advised to go for it this week in front of a home crowd and fight for the 1000 points. He is up against Ferrer who will also be in London but the courts this week favour his style of play. Ferrer will NOT be contesting the final next week and so is another player with more to gain in Paris. He will fight to the end even if it leaves his energy levels a little depleted.
Its a really tough call. Tsonga will probably feel that if he hits his very best form in London he has a chance but also he won’t want to let the French public down. If Ferrer takes the opening set will Tsonga’s mind be on the plane to London?
Update: Surprisingly easy first set and a tight second.
Ferrer won 6-2, 7-5.
Janowicz has absolutely nothing to lose by giving it everything today. He has struggled financially to make it as a professional tennis player in Poland and now has the opportunity both today and over the next year to change his life forever. He has already had an amazing week with wins over Kohlschreiber and Cilic but after beating Murray yesterday there is a real chance of an emotional letdown. No way did he sleep well last night.
Tipsarevic will be in London next week. I have been waiting for him to run out of steam for a while now but he keeps fighting. He doesn’t usually end the season strongly but will want to perform well in London. I don’t feel that he has a chance of reaching the final stages next week but as he lost in the 3rd round in Paris last year will he prefer to be rested for the big stage in a week’s time? Of all the top players he is perhaps one most in need of a few days to recharge the batteries but he keeps surprising me.
We will know almost immediately if Janowicz is mentally prepared for this match by his first couple of service games. If his serve is at the level we have seen in previous matches then I feel he will outlast Tipsarevic and if the Serb loses the opening set I expect it will be straight sets for Janowicz.
Update: Janowicz looked tired when he walked onto the court. He was broken in his very first service game. Tipsarevic took the set. Tipsarevic then seemed to decide he didn’t want to win as Janowicz took the second set 6-1. Tipsarevic retired when he was a double break down in the decider.
Janowicz won 3-6, 6-1, 4-1(ret)
Berdych was totally outplayed by Anderson in the first set yesterday. I have never seen the SouthAfrican play such high quality tennis as he took a 5-0 lead and ended the set 6-1. Berdych looked more than a little shellshocked but to his credit he kept fighting to achieve something that not many had the heart for this week. A comeback from a first set loss.
He will feel he has a better chance this week to compete for the 1000 points than he will have next week when the bigger boys are more tuned in. He reached the semi finals last year in Paris.
Gilles Simon is rumoured to be carrying an injury but I aren’t sure how true that is. Even though he will have the crowd’s support I don’t think he has the game to defeat a motivated Berdych at this stage of the season. Simon leads the head to heads 4-2 and won their last 2 matches but that was in 2009 when Simon was ranked higher than Berdych.
Update: Berdych seemed to be the stronger player in the firsts et but Simon found some inspiration from the crowd and went a break ahead. He served out for the set. In the second set it was Berdych who went ahead and seemed to be cruising to level the match but Simon broke him back and then broke again. His serve just about held firm as he served out the match.
Simon won 6-4, 6-4.
That leaves Llodra and Querrey. Neither has the distraction of London so can put everything into this tournament knowing they have some time away from the court to follow.
The courts in Paris this week could almost have been designed for Llodra’s game. His big serve is strong enough to put the receiver under pressure but the court isn’t so fast that he doesn’t have time to get position at the net to put away the volley. He loves playing in front of a French crowd and also has his wife and kids watching Daddy beating the big boys. The win over Isner was always on the cards and it wasn’t a major shock to see Del Potro give less than 100% but don’t underestimate how well Llodra has played. His confidence will have taken a massive boost and he won’t be easy to break.
Querrey has had to pretty much rebuild his career after injury and he has done a fantastic job. This week he has beaten an injured Verdasco and when he lost the first set 6-0 against Djokovic who thought he would come back? Djokovic was impeded by illness and personal problems and at times his mind clearly was elsewhere but Querrey played some superb tennis and when most expected him to choke in the third set he continued to serve bombs and hit huge groundstrokes. I sometimes wonder when I am watching him if there’s anyone home. He doesn’t show a great deal of emotion which can be frustrating when you have money on him but at the moment his game is possibly in the best shape it has ever been in and next season could be his best ever.
So who wins today? Both are serving well. I don’t think Querrey will like Llodra’s style of play and doesn’t cope well when he is rushed. I also feel that llodra has been returning serve very well and the slightly slower courts give him a split second more to react. Another factor today will be the crowd. Americans don’t like hostile crowds ( unless they’re cheering for them ) and if this French crowd sense that Llodra needs some help they will step up.
Tie breaks are almost guaranteed but I favour Llodra to sneak a win.
Update: The firsts et went to a tie break which Llodra took. He finished the job in the second set to win 7-6, 6-3.
I’ll put thoughts on the WTA matches on the Facebook page.