Thursday, June 30, 2011

Archie's Picks: Murray-Nadal

Does Andy Murray have a chance tomorrow? Heck yeah. Will he win? Heck no, says Archie.

Okay, big stuff going on tomorrow. Archie made his pick earlier today with a stoic, almost cold shrewdness. Why? He was hurt. Deep down he wants the underdog to have his day, and he thinks Murray deserves that much. But in an even deeper place, he knows that the pit bull that lives in Rafa's chest will squelch all the British fun.

He's torn, to say the least. Not about who's going to win, but who he wants to win.

See Archie's French Open picks here.
See Archie's Djokovic-Tomic pick here.
See Archie's Federer-Tsonga pick here.
See Archie's Nadal-Fish pick here.
See Archie's Kvitova-Azarenka pick here.
See Archie's Sharapova-Lisicki pick here.
See Archie's Djokovic-Tsonga pick here.

Archie's Pick: Nadal
Why: Duh

My Pick: Nadal
Why: Normally I wouldn't think it was too far fetched to pick Murray for the stunner tomorrow, but have you guys seen Nadal play lately? He's so good on the Wimbledon grass, it's like he's still on clay. And his forehand has been an even bigger weapon that it usually is on clay. Murray is no slouch either -- far from it -- and he's scored a couple of confidence building wins at Slams vs. Nadal (2009 US Open semi and 2010 Australian Open quarters) in recent years, but the same questions persist: Can he come good in a match of epic proportions against a player of epic stature? Someday it's going to happen, but until he's erased those doubts, it's hard to go out on a limb and pick him to win a match like this.

So there you have it. Go ahead and prove me wrong Mr. Murray -- I dare you.

Archie's Picks: Djokovic-Tsonga

Archie loves underdogs, but not enough to jeopardize his perfect record as a Wimbledon seer. He's going with Djokovic over Tsonga.

Okay, so my dog is 6 for 6 and he's got four more matches to pick. It's crunch time, so it's out the window with sentimental BS and all that. Archie's here for one purpose: to see the future. If you guys want to make some money off him, then so be it. For him it's just an expression of clairvoyance. He's a philosophical dog, and he's comforted by the metaphysical. Seeing the future is just another way for Archie to tell non-believers that everything is going to be alright.

Okay, without any further ado, here is Archie's Tsonga-Djokovic pick.

See Archie's French Open picks here.
See Archie's Djokovic-Tomic pick here.
See Archie's Federer-Tsonga pick here.
See Archie's Nadal-Fish pick here.
See Archie's Kvitova-Azarenka pick here.
See Archie's Sharapova-Lisicki pick here.
See Archie's Murray-Nadal pick here.

Archies Pick: Djokovic
Why: He likes the fact that a chest-thumper like Nole has a soft side that let's him get in touch with squirrels.

My Pick: Djokovic
Why: I absolutely love Jo-Wilfried and his insanely athletic game, but it's really difficult to pick against Djokovic these days. Djokovic has lost the least games of any man left in the draw (57) and he's reached his 5th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal (something that only 5 other players have done in the open era). He's also 1 match away from the No. 1 ranking, with only Jo-Wilfried in his way. All signs point to Djokovic's first Wimbledon final, and even though Tsonga owns a 5-2 career edge against Djokovic, everything that happened before 2011 feels like it happened in another lifetime.

If Tsonga serves like we all know he can, he'll push Djokovic, and if he prowls the baseline in the inspired fashion that he did against Federer, he might take him out. Then again, even if Tsonga does all that, he still might go down. Djokovic has that many weapons, and more importantly, he's got that much belief.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Archie's Picks: Sharapova-Lisicki

Archie can't help but love the grittiness of Maria Sharapova. That's why he's picking her against Wildcard Sabine Lisicki in the semis.

As you know, Archie is a big fan of the underdog, but what you may not know is that Archie has had a crush on Maria Sharapova ever since he was a puppy. The first time he heard her shriek in terror while hitting a tennis ball he turned his head to watch, and he has been captivated ever since.

Without any further ado, here is Archie's pick for the Sharapova-Lisicki semi-final

See Archie's French Open picks here.

See Archie's Federer-Tsonga pick here.

See Archie's Nadal-Fish pick here.

See Archie's Murray-Lopez pick here.

See Archie's Djokovic-Tomic pick here.

See Archie's Kvitova-Azarenka pick here.

Archie's pick: Sharapova

Why: She speaks to me in ways you cannot understand.

My Pick: Lisicki

Why: This is one of those throw out the numbers matches, in my opinion. Sometimes you just have the feeling that something magical is taking place in a Grand Slam tournament, and that magical thing right now is named Sabine. I'll be the first to admit that I was highly skeptical regarding Lisicki's long term potential after her catastrophic loss to Vera Zvonareva at the French Open. To me that match was a clear indication that Lisicki didn't have what it took to take her blossoming game to the elite level.

Boy, was I wrong. All she's done is win 11 consecutive matches since then, becoming only the second Wildcard in the history of the wimbledon to make the semis.

Tomorrow, she'll seek to become the first Wildcard finalist, and while I think that this should be Maria's match -- she's more accomplished, more experienced, tougher, and better from the baseline -- something is telling me that the magic will once again be with Lisicki.

This one should have the Centre Court crowd gasping for air. Both players are extremely endearing in their own way, and both are sure to make this a memorable affair.

Archie's Picks: Kvitova-Azarenka

Leftiness is not a lost art, and Archie thinks Petra Kvitova will prove that in the semis.

Okay, for those of you who hadn't heard, Archie went 4 for 4 in his men's quarterfinal picks. If you can top that I definitely want to take you to Vegas with me sometime. But the fact of the matter is, you can't do better than Archie did yesterday. Archie just gave me a wink that says "amen to that." Without any further ado, here is Archie's Kvitova-Azarenka pick.

See Archie's French Open picks here.

See Archie's Federer-Tsonga pick here.

See Archie's Nadal-Fish pick here.

See Archie's Murray-Lopez pick here.

See Archie's Djokovic-Tomic pick here.

See Archie's Sharapova-Lisicki pick here.

Archie's Pick: Kvitova

Why: Azaranka makes me want to bark, and I don't like to bark because it makes me nervous.

My pick: Kvitova

Why: I said earlier in the tournament that Kvitova is one of the few players that has the match on her racquet almost every time she plays. With her big swooping left-handed serve pulling her opponents off the court, Petra can close in and launch her killshots from the service line. Even though she'll face a world-class returner in Azarenka, if she serves to her capability, she'll be able to put pressure on Azarenka from the onset.

Kvitova has only been broken twice in the fortnight, and because of that fact, she's been able to survive worrying patches of inconsistency from the baseline that would have shipwrecked lesser servers.

The 6'0" Czech blew past Azarenka in Wimbledon's 3rd round last year, and she has won the last two of the pair's previous four meetings, but Azarenka is in very fine form at the moment, so this match should come down to who handles the big moments better.

If Kvitova can ease the pressure on herself by serving well down the stretch, I like her chances, but if she plays a sloppy match, she could be in serious trouble.

Either way, we'll have a first-time Grand Slam finalist on our hands when this one is over, and that is something to be excited about.

Grass Seeds: 10 thoughts on the Men's Quarters

The Nadal camp breathed a sigh of relief when Rafael Nadal's left foot didn't give him any problems today against Mardy Fish.


Speaking of Rafa... If that was a guy with a foot problem out there on Court 1 against Mardy Fish today, then he's the best player with a bad foot of all-time. That would make him, in my humble opinion, the official GPWABFOAT. Not quite as sweet as being the GOAT, but I'm pretty confident that Rafa doesn't care either way. Babolat may go to the trouble of customizing Rafa's racquet bag with commemoration of his 10 previous Grand Slam titles, but in spite of all his achievements, Rafa appears only to think of one thing: what to do about smashing that yellow Slazenger that is fast approaching him. And you know what? He always seems to have the most splendid ideas about that. If only we all could be that decisive and that focused at our jobs. That's 19 consecutive Wimbedon wins for Nadal, and while he seemed a tad perturbed by his own inconsistency at times today, this is an athlete who is clearly relishing the chance to defend his Wimbledon title.

Andy Murray was understated in his post-match celebration after defeating Feliciano Lopez in the men's quarter-finals on Wednesday. He was calm, almost stoic. Could this be the look of a man who knows that every ounce of his energy now needs to be saved for the monumental task of unseating Rafael Nadal at the Wimbledon throne? Whatever the reason, Murray appears to be a player who expects to win at Wimbledon; those expectations will be put to the test on Friday, when he meets the man who bounced him from the draw in 2010.

Let's not forget the women. There are two delicious semi-finals slated for tomorrow: Kvitova-Azarenka and Sharapova-Lisicki. It seems that dudes like me (curmudgeonly tennis writers) have to defend the WTA every few weeks, so here goes again: The women have more than carried their weight during the fortnight, with Venus Williams-Date Krumm, Lisicki-Li, and Serena Williams-Bartoli being three of the most compelling matches of the entire tournament thus far, men or women. Add to that the Williams Sisters exciting return, Lisicki's rise from wildcard to phenom, the untapped potential in the already imposing 21-year-old Petra Kvitova, and you're way ahead of the power curve.

Toss in the Juxtaposition of the allure and tenacity of Maria Sharapova, and now you've got enough footage to make a blockbuster movie with several sequels.

I love Wimbledon's Centre Court roof, but I was overjoyed to see it was sunny today at Wimbledon, because it allowed me to enjoy one of my favorite tennis aesthetics: Telling time by the gentle encroachment of shadows on Centre Court. When they drift diagonally across the grass, you know the last match is almost over and you begin to wish that time would stop. It is Simply divine.

The Bryan brothers gutted out an epic victory today, 16-14 in the 5th set vs. Simon Aspelin and Paul Hanley. With Mardy Fish bowing out vs. Nadal in the quarters, can we please turn our collective eyes to the beauty and spontanaiety of the doubles game in America? Note to the networks: some live shots of the upcoming Bryan Brothers vs. defending champs Petzschner-Melzer might be a fine way to show the tennis freaks of the world that you care about us. If you can do it without a tape delay, all the better.

Betting houses currently have Rafa as the clear favorite to take the men's title. $100 will only net you $125 for a Rafa bet. That same $100 will net you $220 for Djokovic, $350 for Murray, and $650 for Tsonga.

Sabine Lisicki is the heavy underdog of the four women's semifinalists. Why do I feel that she's going to win it all?

See you soon, Bernard? So, is the youngest male Wimbledon quarter-finalist in 25 years going to drift back into relative obscurity like Alexandr Dolgopolov did after his first Slam quarter-final appearance? I certainly hope not.

Tsonga is 5-2 vs. Djokovic head-to-head. We've all heard about how great Djokovic's return is in 2011, but will he have an answer for the nastiness of Tsonga's service offerings?

Tsonga's Higher High

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga staged an improbable comeback against Roger Federer to reach the Wimbledon semifinals.


Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga -- he of the infectious smile and unabashed joie de vivre -- has done the unthinkable against Roger Federer.

And he made it look easy.

Before the quarter-finals began on Wednesday, Federer was 178-0 after winning the first two sets of a match in a Grand Slam. Now's he's 178-1.

The Le Mans, France native, also a quarter-finalist last year at Wimbledon, kept Federer at bay throughout his improbable rally by serving flawlessly and relentlessly attacking the six-time Wimbledon champion with free swings and steady nerves.

The result? An awe-inspiring victory from one of tennis' most dynamic talents. The fallout? More 'what's wrong with Federer?' conversation, and the harsh reality that Federer's regal domination of the Wimbledon grass is almost certainly a thing of the past as he approaches his 30th birthday.

But let's focus on the magic of Tsonga before we contemplate what might become of Federer and his lush legacy.

Long considered one of the most entertaining and athletically gifted players on the ATP Tour, Tsonga was nothing short of majestic today. Blasting serves in the upper 130's and racing to the net behind has explosive groundstrokes, Tsonga forced Federer back on his heels in the final three sets -- and he never let him recover.

Those familiar with Tsonga's game were not surprised that he could take the game to Federer. What was surprising was that he could manage his nerves (or not even experience nervousness -- it was hard to tell) and stay out of his own way long enough to finish the Swiss Maestro off. Stretches of sublime greatness are par for the course for the powerfully-built 6'2" Frenchman. The big surprise was that he did it with such a steady emotional cadence, and that he did it for so long.

Tsonga, 26, served 9 aces and only committed 4 unforced errors in the final two sets. Additionally, he won 13 of 16 second serve points in the final two sets, and never faced a break point after his first service game of the match.

How is that possible? Was Tsonga that good or was Federer that bad? What is good and what is bad, anyway?

What was good for Tsonga is that he played a match for the ages. He stormed back to take this one from Federer with a panache, boldness and precision; he summoned all his magic and he let it spill forth without inhibition. What was bad for Federer was that he never found an appropriate response.

Tsonga's rousing run at the 2008 Australian Open, one that saw him defeat Nadal in the semis then lose to Djokovic in a hard fought final, was the previous high point of his career. With a semifinal upcoming vs. Djokovic, it's not hard to imagine a higher high.

As good as Tsonga is, there's always been the feeling that he could be better. Perhaps this Wimbledon is his time to silence that notion.

Archie's Picks: Murray-Lopez

What would Wimbledon be without Andy Murray in the semis? Archie doesn't want to know.

As I mentioned previously, Archie is a rescue dog, so he likes underdogs. He is seriously considering picking Andy Murray to win Wimbledon this year, but he still needs to see how the Scot fares against the hard-serving Spaniard. Needless to say, Archie will be paying close attention to Murray tomorrow. If he sees jaw clenching or tantrums directed at Judy, Archie will be quick to abandon Murray for another year.

Without any further ado, here is Archie's pick for the Murray-Lopez Wimbledon quarterfinal.

See Archie's French Open picks here.
See Archie's Djokovic-Tomic pick here.
See Archie's Federer-Tsonga pick here.
See Archie's Nadal-Fish Pick here.

Archie's Pick: Murray
Why: Because Muzz is the ultimate underdog, and he has cute teeth (like me).

My Pick: Murray
Why: Lopez is serving like a maniac this fortnight but he'll be facing a very clever returner that will make sure he puts a lot of balls back on Lopez' side of the court in order to give the Spaniard's less than perfect ground strokes a chance to break down. The Scot has yet to lose in 4 previous meetings with "Deliciano," and unless he really is bent out of shape by the fact that his mother/coach thinks Feliciano is a sexy beast (who doesn't?), Murray should find a way to crack Lopez at his core before all is said and done.

Still, Lopez, at 29, is playing the best Wimbledon of his career. He leads the tournament in aces, and he's got a world-class grass game that gives him a serious chance for the upset in this one. Add to that the fact that he's got nothing to lose and you definitely have a good recipe for a drama-filled match that could break the hearts of the London faithful.

This could be the most exciting of all four quarterfinals, as the intensity and passion of the Centre Court crowd will add an element of magic to an already sure to be magical matchup.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Archie's Picks: Federer-Tsonga

Roger Federer is chasing his seventh Wimbledon title, but Archie thinks Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will end the chase.

Being a rescue dog, Archie has always had a thing for the underdog. That explains his mindset as he made his pick for the Federer-Tsonga Wimbledon quarterfinal. I tried to talk some sense into him, but he wouldn't hear me out.

Without any further ado, here's the pick.

See Archie's French Open picks here.
See Archie's Nadal-Fish pick here.
See Archie's Djokovic-Tomic pick here.

Archie's Pick: Tsonga
Why: Because he smiles a lot when he plays, just like me.

My Pick: Federer
Why: Well, duh. Federer did lose to Tsonga once upon a time in Montreal, when he fell asleep at the wheel and blew a 5-1 lead in the third set vs. Jo-Wilfried. But this is Wimbledon, and Federer is playing his best tennis since the last time he won Wimbledon in 2009.

True, Tsonga has gone two matches without being broken, and, true, Federer's return game is probably the thing that can give him the most trouble in matches like this. Still, the calculated and cunning Fed will more than likely come out with the perfect game plan to defuse Tsonga's power assault, and keep the big-hitting Frenchman out of his comfort zone.

Federer has reached the Wimbledon Final in 8 of the last 9 years, while Tsonga is bidding to reach the Wimbledon semis for the first time, and even though Tsonga has won 8 of his previous 20 matches against top 3 players, Federer should prove to be too strong tomorrow.

Archie's Picks: Djokovic-Tomic

Bernard Tomic is on the rise, but so is Novak Djokovic. Look for the Serb to school the young Aussie tomorrow.

Archie's no fool. Sure, he's been watching Bernard Tomic all week, and smiling all the way. But Archie has been on the Djokovic bandwagon since January, and he's not about to get off of it just because some 18-year-old has caught fire for a few rounds.

Without any further ado, here is Archie's pick.

See Archie's French Open picks here.
See Archie's Nadal-Fish Pick here.
See Archie's Federer-Tsonga pick here.
See Archie's Murray-Lopez Pick here.

Archie's Pick: Djokovic
Why: Because if he likes squirrels, he probably likes dogs.

My Pick: Djokovic
Why: Unlike the rest of the tour, who will be very surprised by the game of Bernard Tomic when they first play him -- especially on grass where he thrives -- Djokovic has had the pleasure of sharing a practice court with Tomic on several occasions, and he even played him in an exhibition at Kooyong in 2010 (A LOSS!).

All this should help Djokovic deal with the herky-jerky game that Tomic possesses. But who are we kidding, Djokovic doesn't need the help right now. He just needs to stay confident, hit out with his usual unbridled passion, and the rest should take care of itself. He's not the French Open champion, but Djokovic is still the guy that has been toughest to beat all year long on the ATP Tour.

As far as Tomic goes, to be the youngest Wimbledon quarterfinalist since 1986 is quite an achievement. His fairy tale run was in doubt when he was at 4-4 in the third set of the first round of qualifying, facing two break points. Even if his fairy tale finally ends tomorrow, there'll be a lot to be proud of for this promising young star.

Archie's Picks: Nadal-Fish

Rafa's got a bad foot, but Archie knows it takes more than that to stop a bad man like him.

Okay, Archie's back to help you betting fools on the Wimbledon men's quarters. He's been watching non-stop television coverage of the fortnight, so he's pretty confident that he can make you guys some money if you listen up. So, without any further ado, here is Archie's pick for the Nadal-Fish quarterfinal.

See Archie's French Open picks here.
See Archie's Djokovic-Tomic pick here.
See Archie's Federer-Tsonga pick here.
See Archie's Murray-Lopez Pick here.

Archies Pick: Nadal
Why: Do you really have to ask why?

My pick: Nadal
Why: Lost in all the commotion about Rafa's ailing left foot is the fact that Nadal has been absolutely punishing the ball throughout the fortnight. He's got an 18 match winning streak at Wimbledon and he passed a very stern test from Juan Martin del Potro with flying colors in the 4th round. As great as Mardy Fish is playing -- and he is playing awesome (hasn't been broken since round 2) -- he's going to have to play exponentially better, and for a longer period of time, to get by Nadal.

Even though Fish did win the first set of his 2008 US Open quarterfinal vs. Nadal, he's lost all 5 meetings vs. the 10-time Grand Slam champion and lost EVERY OTHER SET.

It's just too big of a mountain to climb for the American, foot or no foot.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Grass Seeds: 10 thoughts on Wimbledon's 4th Round

Failing to convert four match points against Serena Williams didn't stop marion Bartoli from cashing in on the 5th.

1. Bartoli d. S. Williams, 6-3, 7-6(8) -- The talk centered around Serena and Venus throughout week 1 of the championships, and the general consensus was that if each of the sisters could get through their first three matches, it'd be hard to stop them in the later rounds. Enter Marion Bartoli. The inspired efforts of the Frenchwoman kept Serena on her heels for much of this match, and even as Serena mounted a determined charge late in the second set, Bartoli did not wilt. Credit Bartoli for having the wisdom to know just how important it was for her to finish the match in straight sets. Somehow, someway, she got it done.

2. Pironkova d. V. Williams, 6-3, 6-2 -- Last year wasn't a fluke after all. Neither is the tone of the following quotes, made by Venus Williams after the match: "I just didn't put the ball in the court. Simple as that." It's a recurring theme for Venus in the last few years; she's just not healthy enough to play consistently brilliant tennis. But Venus is taking solace in the fact that she is getting her health turned around. "I got ready for this tournament so fast -- you wouldn't even believe how quick that happened -- so with more time I think I can definitely play better."

I think the onus is now on the Williams sisters to commit themselves to a fairly rigid practice regiment between now and the US Open. As alluring as their story was for all of us, their chances of actually achieving Grand Slam titles with little to no match play are not as great as they were a few years ago. It wouldn't have been surprising to see an all-Williams final at Wimbledon, but when we consider the form that the sisters entered the draw in, what we actually got isn't surprising either.

3. Nadal d. Del Potro, 7-6(8), 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 -- This one had an epic feel to it. In the waning sunlight on Centre Court, two intensely committed adversaries matching wits, clutch serves and otherworldy ground strokes. The fact that Del Potro's grass court game appears to be coming together has to be heartening for his camp, but in the end this match was about Nadal's ability to play the tiebreakers without fear, or any signs of nerves. Yes, his foot injury could be a concern moving forward, but of greater concern to his next opponent (Mardy Fish) will be just how lethal his game is on the grass (see 61 winners and 16 UFE's).

4. The Last Americano: Mardy Fish is setting the bar pretty high for his fellow Americans these days. He blasted through Tomas Berdych (a finalist last year here) in straight sets, and in doing so Fish has reached the Wimbledon quarters for the first time in his career. It's a fitting reward for Fish, who has stayed the course through some difficult times this year. The 29-year-old has reached the top ten, and supplanted Andy Roddick as the top dog in the USA. It's inspiring, to say the least.

5. Tomic: Qualifying Genius: One more win and 18-year-old Bernard Tomic will equal the best Wimbledon performance by a qualifier of all-time. Only two players (John McEnroe, 1977 and Vladimir Voltchkov, 2000) have gone to the semis as a qualifier, and even if Tomic doesn't get by Novak Djokovic in the quarters, he's still the youngest player to go this far in the Wimbledon draw since Boris Becker in 1986. How has he done it? He's done it with guile, poise, and an eclectic array of dinks and dunks that are complemented nicely by his catlike movement, big popping serve, and uncanny accuracy. To top it off he's only 18, but he seems like the most relaxed and least overwhelmed of the remaining 8 men in the draw.

6. Wozniacki doesn't care what anybody thinks: In the face of constant criticism, the Great Dane remains obstinately defiant of her approach to the game. "I really don't care what people think or say or do," said Wozniacki when pressed about her Slamlessness after falling at the hands of an inspired Dominika Cibulkova today in three sets. It's great that Wozniacki won't allow her current status as the WTA Tour's No. 1 player be defiled, but at the same time it's worrying that she seems to be running up against the same wall time and time again in the Slams -- and is unwilling to change.

7. No Five-Setter for Murray This Time: Andy Murray took care of business in a very forthright manner today against his old rival, Frenchman Richard Gasquet. No need to fight back from two sets down, and some very decisive serving for Murray, who didn't surrender a break to Gasquet. 44 winners and 10 UFE's are more proof that Murray's offensive capabilities are heightened on the grass.

8. Marion and Her Dad: It's one of those whacky side stories, the incident between Marion and her coach/father Walter Bartoli that occurred during Marion's third round match with Flavia Pennetta, but in a weird way it had to be a pretty big moment for Bartoli. She banished her father from his seat, and Walter -- good sport that he is -- gathered up his numerous bags and did what she said and left the premises. If Bartoli had lost the match her year might have been in shambles, but since she went on to beat Pennetta, doesn' t Bartoli now have a little more ownership of this Wimbledon run, and could the confidence gained by her be that little extra something that fuels the former finalist as she heads into the quarterfinals? I guess we'll find out.

9. Sabine, the Wildcard: Soft spoken, almost delicate off court, Sabine Lisicki is a real thunderbolt when she steps on the court. If that court happens to be made of grass, than so much the better. Lisicki has fired the fortnight's fastest serve (124) on the women's side and she's also notched a total of 35 aces in her first four matches. Additionally: She's 11-0 on grass this season, she's winning hearts and minds with her unbridled passion and respect for Wimbledon tradition, and, most of all, her sizzling play. On top of that Lisicki is one match away from becoming only the second Wildcard to ever make the semifinals of the ladies singles draw (Zheng, 2008) at Wimbledon.

10. The Big Four: Juan Martin del Potro and Mikhail Youzhny gave it a shot, but it's looking like the top four seeds in the men's draw are destined to reach the semifinal of a Grand Slam for a second straight time. It's a testament to the abilities of all four, as not only is each's individual game remarkable, their levels of consistency are as well. Djokovic has lost one match this year, Federer has reached his 29th straight Slam quarterfinal, Nadal is looking for his 5th Slam of his last six, and even though Andy Murray appears stuck at No. 4, he's a pretty solid player in his own right. (Damn solid indeed, say the Brits!) As we head into the quarterfinals, expect the Centre Court aura to become even more special than it was today for the spirited Nadal-del Potro affair.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Grass Seeds: Sixteen Sweet Quotes from Wimbledon's Week 1

Nobody was bitten by a kangaroo in the first week at Wimbledon, but there were still some memorable quotes.

"I think it's about time she stopped with that nonsense. Makes me want to throw up. It's disgusting. Yeah, it's disgusting.” -- ANDY MURRAY, when probed about his mom’s growing obsession with Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

“There's been a couple times in the last few months where I've snapped.” -- RYAN HARRISON, when asked about his emotions during matches.

“Well, I think you made your own observations already. I think go ahead and write what you feel is the truth and what's right.” -- A straight-shooting VENUS WILLIAMS, when asked about how she and her sister could be scheduled to play on less visible side courts at Wimbledon.

“Regardless of how I play, I know I'll be competing this time.” -- VENUS WILLIAMS, on her upcoming 4th round match with Tsvetana Pironkova.

“If anyone wants to talk to my dad about that, that's fine with me.” -- 17-year-old LAURA ROBSON, on her dad keeping her prize money for a second year in a row.

“I probably played like shit in third rounds and won before, too. The thing you guys have to understand is there's no script. Some days you're going to play well and lose, and some days you're going to play like crap and win.” -- A disappointed ANDY RODDICK, after his 3rd round loss to Feliciano Lopez.

“I think I just had a black day.” -- ANDREA PETKOVIC, after losing in the 3rd round to Ksenia Pervak of Russia.

“I think in New York there's so many sports. They love their beer. I'm sure they love their beer here, and Pimm's, as well. But I think the U.S. people take more advantage of it.” -- MARIA SHARAPOVA, comparing the crowds in New York and London.

“I have to like it. It's kind of funny. I mean, it's okay.” -- FELICIANO LOPEZ, on Judy Murray’s nickname for him (Deliciano).

“You've seen my tweets. It's my best friend now in London, the little squirrel. She's getting closer and closer each day. I'm trying to feed her from my hand. Maybe one day.” -- NOVAK DJOKOVIC, on the squirell he has befriended near his Wimbledon Town House.

I don't know where he going. So after I find him, I will tell you (laughter). -- LI NA, when asked why her husband left during the 2nd set of her match vs. Sabine Lisicki.

"They became so, so loud. That was the moment where I was like, Okay, I don't want to get off that court yet." -- SABINE LISICKI, on how the Centre Court crowd helped her fight off two match points against Li Na.

“My socks." -- JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO, on what he wore on his feet on his way to the locker room after he threw his shoe into the crowd.

“In the U.S. we go big or we go home. You know, I can appreciate that. I love playing in the U.S.” -- BETHANIE MATTEK SANDS, on the differences between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

“I don't think I am suitable for that costume.” -- MISAKI DOI, when asked if she would ever cosider dressing like Bethanie Mattek Sands did before their 1st round match.

“Of course.” -- KIMIKO DATE KRUMM, when asked if she was tired during her 2nd round match with Venus Williams.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Phony Murray Mania Has Bitten The Dust

Should Andy Murray embrace his inner punk and tell the rest of the world to bugger off? I think so.


Think about it. The man that many know as Muzz is no saint out there on the Wimbledon grass. Murray may stroke the ball sweetly but he plays with a bitter scowl the size of Texas on his face, and he's quick to utter Joe Strummer-like expletives to himself while he punches the strings of his racquet with his soon-to-be bloody fists.

If that's not punk by tennis standards, then I do not know what is.

But I digress. Let's talk about a more relevant topic: Murray's chance's of ending the British curse and stealing the Wimbledon Crown this year.

What's that you say? You're not interested in doing that? You'd rather hear about Andy's mom's obsession with Murray's possible quarterfinal opponent, Deliciano Lopez?

Okay, maybe I should talk about Murray's lack of a chance of winning the title instead. It is far more plausible, after all. Here are two reasons for that: 1. The trivalry 2. Murray'd actually be better off if he realized it was going to take a miracle for him to win Wimbledon this year; admitting that fact might be highly therapeutic for him.

Virginia Wade, a Wimbledon champion on the centennial in 1977, made some good points when she spoke about the pressure of being a British star at Wimbledon. "I got sort of a little annoyed two years ago at the Australian, when he'd (Murray) been playing well and he'd been winning the tournaments leading up," Wade said, "and I thought to myself 'Give him a chance,' it takes a while before you are actually ready to win it. I think now he is ready."

He may be ready. He may even be willing and able, but so too are the three top seeds. The "trivalry" at the top of tennis is in a league of its own. Sorry, but this is not Murray's tournament to win. I think it'd do him a world of good to keep that in the front of his mind. HE'S NOT GOING TO WIN. He could even make light of it to the press.

How's this for a scenario? Murray could've walked into his presser yesterday after his defeat of Ivan Ljubicic and say "Geez, I feel lucky to be in the fourth round. You guys need to relax and stop wasting your ink on me when the defending champion -- that Nadal guy -- is clearly going to win this thing."

Or something to that effect. You get the picture.

I'm not in PR, but if I was, and I was representing Murray, that's what I'd tell him. I certainly wouldn't tell him that his net worth would likely grow by a hundred times if he can become the first British man to win Wimbledon since 1936. Why? Because Muzz doesn't need to be bothered with that trivial stuff.

Murray just needs to play like a punk who has no chance. He needs to smash a few guitars, er, racquets and tell the world to piss off for the next 10 days.

If he does that, and he does it like some other British legends (Sex Pistols, anyone?) have done it before him, then he'll be doing it famously.

If he does it famously, he just might have a chance.

Roddick Still Has A Window, Albeit Small

He's prematurely gone from the Wimbledon draw, but that doesn't mean it's all over for Andy Roddick.

I remember sitting in front of Andy Roddick at a press conference at Indian Wells earlier this year, listening to the 28-year-old talk about his chances of winning another Slam. It was a typical Roddick presser: jokes were being cracked, insight was being delivered, and a sardonic stream of witticisms was flying.

Even though the mood was comical in the room, Roddick was quick to get serious when talking about his chances. Under the 'right conditions,' Roddick feels that Slam No. 2 is a possibility.

It got me wondering: what are the 'right conditions?'

You would think that the 'right conditions' would be the very grass that was growing under Roddick's feet during his three previous Wimbledon final runs.

But those conditions, once again, haven't suited Roddick's game. He crashed out yesterday, losing his first of 8 career matches against Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

It's hard for a lot of us to imagine Andy Roddick winning another Grand Slam, given his age and inability to crack the code of tennis' "trivalry," but Roddick still doesn't think the book is closed on him. This spring in California, he felt he still had a chance to break through for a second Slam, and I doubt he feels any differently today, even with the sting of his second consecutive early Wimbledon departure still burning him up.

So, what now?

Chris Evert thinks she knows what's best for Andy.

"It's his last hurrah," says Evert. "He's got to sit down and he's got to realize that 'okay, I'll give myself two to three great years, but I've got to tweak a few things.'" says Evert. "He's got to keep it simple and get back to the big serve and the big aggressive forehand."

It's the same advice that Roddick has been getting from the tennis cognoscenti for years now, but something isn't clicking in the Roddick camp. Roddick's propensity for defense suits his personality -- he's a boots-on-the-ground soldier-type of dude -- but does it suit his game? And if it doesn't suit his game, why isn't his coach FORCING him to be more aggressive?

My advice for Andy would be to start with another clean slate. I know this sounds harsh, but Mr. Roddick should seek a new coach for the "last hurrah" that Chris Evert speaks of. Nothing against Larry Stefanki, who is an absolutely fantastic coach and tennis person, but A-rod seems to get energized off of new coaching relationships.

The evidence: Roddick responded well when Brad Gilbert took the reigns and went on to win his one and only Slam; Roddick was jazzed when Jimmy Connors took the helm for a brief stint and he went on reach the 2006 US Open final; he was jazzed when Stefanki took over and he nearly won Wimbledon.

Why not look for one more shake up? A new coach -- or reuniting with an old one? -- could be the tonic that could pump some wind into Roddick's sails.

Don't worry about Stefanki. He's a world-class coach and his services would be widely sought after. This isn't about him, anyway. This is about Roddick getting the most out of himself as he nears the final act of his career.

He's got a lot to give, you can sense it.

He just needs to find a way to give it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grass Seeds: 10 thoughts on Wimbledon's day 3

Rafael Nadal won his sixteenth straight Wimbledon match today vs. American Ryan Sweeting. Can anybody beat him?

1o random thoughts on the day that was, plus a #holybejeezus for Rafael Nadal:

1. How awesome is the roof? It's a little bit like a rock-n-roll show when that thing is closed, isn't it? Here's why I like the roof most: the allure of the match on Centre Court seems to grow when it is closed because there is no tennis being played anywhere else on the grounds. Today Venus Williams and Kimiko Date-Krumm's 2nd-round match actually felt like a final. Everybody else stopped what they were doing and payed attention, and it was beautiful.

2. Massive bummer for Canadian tennis, as Milos Raonic was dealt the worst possible hand out on court 3 today, when he slipped and suffered an expectation-crushing injury that was self-diagnosed as "something deep in the hip." Is it the end of the world for Raonic? No, absolutely not. But with each letdown, the remarkable performances of San Jose and Memphis get further out of focus. Is staying healthy going to be an issue for Raonic, and if so, do we need to downgrade our hopes for him proportionally?

3. Great to see Laura Robson get her first Grand Slam win at the age of 17. The celebration will have to be short lived, however, because Maria Sharapova awaits tomorrow, but kudos to her for beating Angelique Kerber of Germany in a hard-fought battle nonetheless.

4. Andy Roddick has served 45 aces and stared down the only two break points he's faced thus far in two rounds. When a three-time finalist gets out of the gate with that kind of authority, you have to stand up and take notice. He'll face Feliciano a.k.a Deliciano Lopez in R3.

5. Let's have a standing O for the Wimbledon crowds. You always hear players lavishing Wimbledon with all this praise, as if the other Slams were red-headed stepchildren of the Championships, and I think the crowd has a lot to do with this prevailing sentiment. Simply put, the Brits get tennis, and they know what's proper when they attend matches. Their round of applause for Kimiko Date-Krumm for a job well done in defeat against Venus Williams wouldn't have happened anywhere else, and for that I thank them.

6. How great is it that the serve-and-volley guru of women's tennis, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez is through to the third round? She was 29 of 37 on net approaches vs. Monica Niculescu today. Can she possibly have that kind of success against Venus Williams in R3? Of course not. Can she win? Of course. It is the anything-can-happen-and-most-likely-will era in the WTA, after all.

7. Juan Martin del Potro lost the first set to Olivier Rochus yesterday then threw a shoe into the crowd. Will he comeback barefoot tomorrow for the conclusion of their 2nd round match?

8. Sabine Lisicki thumped 8 aces and 22 winners in her double breadstick (that's 6-1, 6-1 for the uninitiated) victory over Anistasija Sevastova today. Tomorrow she'll face a stauncher foe: Li Na. Get your popcorn ready.

9. Is Robin Haase that amazing or is Fernando Verdasco that uninspired? Perhaps a little of both. I guess we'll know more about Haase when he takes on Mardy Fish for a spot in the 4th round later this week. As far as Verdasco goes, he's lost two of three Wimbledon matches in the last two years -- not good, 'Nando.

10. Patrick McEnroe is calling an upset of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga by Grigor Dimitrov tomorrow, in 4 sets. I think he's crazy, what about you?

11. Is it just me or does Rafa's forehand look even more vicious than usual? 38 winners vs. 7 unforced errors vs. Ryan Sweeting today. #HOLYBEJEEZUS.

Grass Seeds: Age is Just a Number for Date-Krumm and Williams

Kimiko Date-Krumm and Venus Williams started the day off with a wildly entertaining match on Centre Court today.

Great tennis comes in many shapes and sizes, and that was made abundantly clear on Centre Court today, as 6'1" Venus Williams took the court against a 5'4" dynamo who is nearly 10 years her senior.

It wasn't the cleanest match, or the most beautiful for that matter, but it did feature oodles of creatively constructed points, numerous twists and turns, and plenty of vibrant emotions from the two WTA Tour veterans.

At first glance, it seemed a gross mismatch; Krumm's abbreviated backswings and pitter-patter footsteps were on display against one of the mightiest swashbucklers that the Wimbledon grass has ever seen, but surprisingly, as the two starkly contrasted women traded body blows for nearly three hours, it remained unclear which was going to emerge the victor.

At times transcendent, at times sloppy, at times drenched in drama (and perspiration too), this match was interesting on so many levels. Each women's personal story is compelling -- Krumm is in her third year of play since returning from a 12-year hiatus from the sport, while Williams, a five-times Wimbledon champion, is trying to revive her once-dominant grass court game after 6-months off due to injury -- and each women's fierceness and intensity is also compelling.

But what put this match over the top was the sheer unpredictability of it all. Krumm's kamikaze forays to the net would periodically rattle Williams cage, while Venus's mighty serves and blasts from the baseline were the perfect tonic to beat the feisty Krumm back, keep the match close, and heighten the drama.

When an exchange of ricochet volleys at the net led to a Date-Krumm smash that gave her a set point in the first, the crowd roared its approval, sensing further drama.

They would not be disappointed.

To see a diminutive 40-year-old Japanese woman deploying a vast array of quirky-looking strokes that appear better suited for 1920's era tennis in the face of all the power that Venus Williams can generate, was quite a sight indeed.

The first set tiebreaker (won by Krumm, 8-6) alone would have provided the 15,000 Centre Court partisans with enough tennis sustenance to make up for a week's worth of boring matches.

It was good enough to make BBC commentator David Mercer utter "This is my 38th Wimbledon. I have never ever seen a better set of women's tennis than that. That was wonderful."

This wasn't just a fantastic match because it was close (which it was) or because there were many big points on which the outcome hinged (which there were). The essence of this match was the points themselves; they were frantic and chaotic, full of desperate lunges, acute angles, and tantalizing temerity . Each was its own unique competition within the larger competition, and each seemed taxing enough to call for a celebration and a toweling off at the conclusion. As soon as one would finish another would begin, equally wild and equally exciting. One would finish at the net with a delicate drop volley, the next with an overhead, the next with a lob, an ace, or a let chord winner. You name it, this veritable smorgasbord of shot making had it, and then some.

Finally after a mad scramble of a third set, Venus proved herself worthy of advancing. In between we were fortunate enough to witness some of the most invigorating tennis that we've seen in a while.

Williams was the victor in the end, 6-7(6), 6-3, 8-6, but it was pretty clear from the roar of the crowd that everybody who saw this match emerged victorious.

Check out a replay of the match on ESPN3.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Grass Seeds: 20 Thoughts on Wimbledon's Day 2

Centre Court brought out the emotions in defending champion Serena Williams today, as she played for the first time since last year's final.

20 thoughts on the day that was:

1. Nole's 1-match streak: Is it just me, or does it seem like Djokovic has suddenly become the forgotten man around here? It was Federer at the French, until he wagged the finger. Now it's clearly Djokovic. What a difference a Slam makes.

But not to worry, Nole was more than convincing in victory today, against the defenseless Jeremy Chardy, and even though Rafa is the defending champ let's not forget that except for one tough loss in Paris, Nole has been nothing but marvelous.

If we were saying that Nole was the best player in the world before the French, why should we not continue to say it here as Wimbledon gets underway? Well, I'll tell you why: Djokovic has never been beyond the semis at Wimbledon, and he hasn't taken to the grass surface like Rafa and Roger have.


2. Grass. More specifically, 19 beautiful patches of 100 percent perennial ryegrass, with white titanium dioxide lines all over them. Let's talk about the grass. Yes, let's do. More specifically, let's talk about how the grass is affecting the championships:

Grass and footwork: It's a different kind of footwork to be sure. And another thing to be sure about: The players who move the best on grass will play the best on grass.

Experience on grass: Older players like Lleyton Hewitt, who is about to put Kei Nishikori out of his misery on court 12, gain an advantage by cultivating a game that suits the characteristics of grass.

Allergies: I'm actually just kidding, but some players just seem to stumble around, move awkwardly, move slowly and slip and fall on grass. Are these players then allergic to grass? One player that comes to mind is Francesca Schiavone. She's like a figure skater or sprinter on the clay, but on the grass she looked indecisive and somewhat discombobulated. She's not the only one (see Sam Stosur or Albert Montanes).

3. Tears of Joy: I am so getting my popcorn ready for the next few Serena matches. Venus too for that matter. Jeez, these women (the sisters) can really just pull at your heart. During Serena's presser I found myself contemplating her spiritual make-up. Serena was addressing the media, and I couldn't help but wonder just how far Serena has come since her profanity-laced tirade at the U.S. Open in 2009. I was to amazed to hear how composed and how articulate she was in her presser. I can just totally feel this emerging woman of substance. And then it hit me: Serena might be one of the few women in the world with the potential to become the new Oprah.

So to see Serena busting into tears, in a very genuine and beautiful way mind you, was, to say the least, moving.

4. Thoughts On Soderling: As John McEnroe said during the broadcast, Soderling has certainly done a nice job of holding up his No. 5 ranking. And, as McNasty also pointed out, there are a lot of guys in the world who would love to claim that spot. So, yes, Kudos to Robin Soderling. He's done very well, and by his own admission he's become a much better player when he doesn't have his "A" game at his disposal. He finds ways to win and he's not vulnerable to massive meltdowns anymore. But what has he done for us lately? That is always the big question come Slam time.

Note: Soderling, just closed out Petzschner after 3:13 of good clean fun on court 1.

5. Masha? Serena aside (for a moment, at least), Maria Sharapova is a big comeback story of her own of late. If Serena is Miss back-from-the-dead, Maria is Miss slow-and-steady. Sharapova has been grinding it out on the tour since her return from shoulder surgery in 2009. It's taken a while for her to put also those pieces of her former championship form together, but here she is now, at the scene of her original ascent, and playing the best tennis of her post-surgery career. She's currently stomping on Anna Chakvetadze, and as I watch on Directv 703 they have just cut to a slo-mo shot of her skirt blowing in the breeze (it's artistic).

6. Kvitova, serving: I was admittedly late to the party in terms of seeing Petra Kvitova as a legit Slam threat. But considering what we've seen from her this year, I'm thinking that she's one of the few women in at Wimbledon that has the tournament on her racquet. If Petra serves and attacks at her very best, I do not see anybody beating her. But what are the odds of her serving and attacking at her very best for six more matches? Is she mentally tough enough to do it?

She's somewhat unproven, and she can be inconsistent. To think that she'll rise to the challenge and make the grass her muse a la Martina Navratilova might be a little outrageous. But I do believe that there is a tremendous opportunity at the moment for Petra Kvitova to capitalize on her abundance of natural gifts. The lack of a dominant force in the WTA at the moment should make her want to work that much harder. With her game, she could be the one. If Kvitova ever becomes the physical force that Navratilova (making the comparison becuase they are both Czech, and both lefty) was at the height of her power, than the WTA may have the new dominant queen it desires.

7. DirecTV mix package. I am constantly switching channels, looking in on five matches live, plus commentary. It's probably not better than being at SW 19 in person, but if it's not the next best thing, I'm dying to know what is. It's a little slice of heaven, to be sure. I can watch my dog fall asleep, and I can avoid paying for refreshments to boot.

Life is good, in other words. If you don't have this package, by all means call your tennis subscriber.

8. Tsonga: He's ranked a paltry 19 in the world, but make no mistake, the Frenchman has one of the best grass games in the world. Tsonga's serve just seems to get even nastier when it is bouncing off that fuzzy 8mm-length grass. The guy is a nightmare to return serve against, and his ability to capture points at net, if used at the right moments, could make him a very difficult out. Like Murray, Tsonga has to serve lights-out to keep winning. But essentially, you could say the same about anybody.

9. Serena' sniffles: I'm not talking about her crying in her chair, though that was one of the high points of day 2 in my opinion. I'm talking about the sniffles. Really. She definitely sounded like she had a cold at her press conference today (she also admitted it when asked), and since it wasn't noticeable in Sunday's presser, she must have got that cold between Sunday and today. Just another hurdle for Serena to overcome...

10. Nick Bollettieri said hi to Serena in her presser and told her how happy he was to see her play. It was kind of funny. Serena was happy to hear from him.

11. Ode to remote control: I just flipped channels and got chunks of Serena's presser and Isner's post-match interview after his easy win over his good buddy Nicolas Mahut. John may have his number on the court, but we all know that Mahut will forever be the better cross-dresser, as he proved in Australia this winter. Seriously though, now that Isner is through and fresh, does he become a dark horse candidate? Come to think of it, don't Milos Raonic and Ivo Karlovic become dark horse candidates too? The problem with that that theory? Raonic will face Rafa in the 3rd round; Isner is in Federer's quarter; Karlovic might have the clearest route to the quarters of all three big servers.

12. Can Li Na do the double? How quickly we forget in tennis, but surely none of us have forgotten the Nation-inspiring exploits of Li Na, the trailblazer from China, right? In case you have, it's time to remember. Li's footwork looked exquisite today, and as I watched her prowl the baseline against Alla Kudrayetseva of Russia, I couldn't help but think: Li could do the French-Wimbledon double, the way she is playing.

13. Oudin's freefall continues: Honestly, I just don't know if the pugnacious Georgian will ever regain that je ne sais quoi that she had at the 2009 U.S. Open. Talk about lightning in a bottle. She got annihilated by Ana Ivanovic today, and she's nowhere near the player she was in 2009. I think Oudin still wants to be great, but she's also looking a little scared out there.

On the other hand, as you watch this match, it's clear that Ana has the potential to be a great player again. Just some easy effortless power when she hits the ball right.

14. Harrison with the nice little upset: Snuffed out in the 5th set of the final round of qualifying, Ryan Harrison has risen from the ashes to live another day. Today, the No. 122-ranked Harrison pulled a stunner by defeating No. 37-ranked Ivan Dodig of Croatia in straight sets. That's a massive win for Harrison, and it's a nice reward for a young American who has been nothing but dedicated thus far this year. Harrison has managed a few big wins in his careeer (an upset of Ivan Ljubic at the 2010 U.S. Open and a win over red hot Milos Raonic at Indian Wells come to mind), but he'll need even more if he is to break the top 100 before he turns 20 next May.

He'll play David Ferrer in the 2nd round. Why do I feel like this kid has a shot?

15. Bernard Tomic? Tomic and grass make sense. The loungy, campy strokes of Tomic seem to be perfectly-tailored for the lush green grass and he obviously learned a few things from having a knock with Novak Djokovic on the practice courts before his 1st rounder.

I wasn't really that surprised that the young Australian got it done today against Nikolay Davydenko. Quite frankly, Davydenko's play has been abysmal of late, so I'm not sure how much stock we should be putting in Tomic's win. That said, the Aussie is 5 months younger than Ryan Harrison, and he's got a very unique sort of slow-moving game that features a lot of changes of pace, some great touch, and some whacky angles. What's not to like?

16. Dick Enberg: Enberg covered the Serena Williams match with Chris Evert on ESPN, and it reminded me of what a consummate professional the man truly is. Dick recently announced that his 32nd Wimbledon will be his last. Some people have mixed feelings about Dick recently because he didn't hand Juan Martin del Potro the mic when he asked to speak to his Spanish-speaking fans after the 2009 US Open final, but the slip-up is not indicitave of the Enberg that tennis fans have come to love.

17. Jovanovski? I was looking forward to seeing Serena Williams play Bojana Jovanovski in the 2nd round, but the 20-year-old Serb won only 50% of her first serve points today against Simona Halep. The kicker? She served 82%. She lost 24 of her 48 first serve points. How?

18. Speaking of Grass: When I spoke to Wimbledon Head Groundsman Eddie Seaward late this spring, he mentioned that they'd had a spell of very dry weather, which forced him and his crew to irrigate "furiously" for months. The idea was to soften the soil beneath the grass. With all the soggy weather of late, I'm guessing that it's a bit softer than usual. We're only two days in and the patches at the baseline are starting to look quite worn.

19. You think Venus Williams is old at 31? How about her opponent in the 2nd round, the 40-year-old Kimiko Date Krumm? Kimiko is old enough to be, um, Venus's older sister.

20. Is it time to write Marin Cilic Off? Nah, give the young man a break. But a sign of life would be nice. Cilic was beaten by his fellow Croatian Ivan Ljubicic in the 1st round today. Tough one for Cilic, but great for the grizzled vet Ljubicic who has enough pop on his serve and groundies to have some dark horse potential at SW 19. The 32-year-old hadn't been past the 3rd round of Wimbledon since 2007, and will face Andy Murray in the 3rd round if seeds hold.