Venus vs. Muguruza: Who will raise the Wimbledon trophy?

WIMBLEDON WOMEN’S FINAL – Venus Williams has won Wimbledon five times. When she was young, it looked like she could win every year. She was so fast, so determined, so into it. Her first serve was hard and dominating, her backhand could produce winners crosscourt and down the line. She was quick, she was aggressive, she could be steady.

But things changed over the years. The last time that she won a major was 10 years ago, right here at Wimbledon. She beat her younger sister, Serena, who cried. Venus hugged her and, at that point, it was hard to say which one of those two would have more titles,and more Slams. 
But almost immediately, Serena rose up. Venus looked pretty good, but she couldn’t approach her best friend.

Now, Serena has 23 Grand Slams while Venus has eight majors. Cleary, Serena is better than she is, but not much. In fact, if Serena wasn’t playing tennis at all, Venus could have 15 majors. In reality, though, Serena has a much better second serve, forehand and concentration.

Venus is 36 years old and, at least during the past 12 days at 2017 Wimbledon, she actually looked fantastic. She is a little slower than she used to be, but her forehand is deeper and she is very adept at the net. She can return, too.

Is she the favorite against Garbine Muguruza in the final on Saturday? That is a very tough one, because over the past six weeks, the Spaniard finally calmed down, became consistent and very smart. Yes, she is fast and she can smoke her first serve, her forehand and backhand. She likes to go for it.

Muguruza won Roland Garros last year. She is not too young, she is not too old, she is right in the middle. She will not get nervous. 
As she says, now, she can play smarter and be more mature than her younger version. Perhaps, because when they walk on the Centre Court, Muguruza will look around and think, “I am more powerful and directed.” 

It will go to three sets and, on match point, Venus will sprint to the left, take her two-handed backhand, swing it as hard as she can and kiss it on the line. 

Number nine for Ms. Williams.

Venus out-hits Ostapenko, to face Konta in semis

Wimbledon, Day 9 – Who would have thought that Venus Williams would keep her cool and dominate with her forehand? We all know that Venus has won five Grand Slams at Wimbledon, but she hasn’t won since 2008, which is a long time.

However, Venus never gives up, and I mean never, ever gives up, because in the past 20 years, even when she wasn’t playing well at all, she continues to try. It is so, so true. Others bail, but not Venus, who figures that once in a while, when her form returns, and she can crack it deep, touch the lines, crush a first serve, then she can beat anyone, which she did on Tuesday.

Williams defeated the Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko in two sets. Ostapenko is super young, and she still needs to learn the nuances of grass. Eventually, she will win Wimbledon someday. But not yet.

Venus has to face Britain’s Jo Konta, who overcame Simona Halep in three fantastic sets. There is a good amount of pressure from Konta, but when she is playing, she doesn’t listen to the fans yelling when she is hitting the ball; she locks in and she focuses. That is why she has reached the semis, the first time for her in ages.

Can she beat Venus? Possibly, as she is much younger than the 36-year-old Williams, and we all know that the British fans will be jumping up and down for Konta. They will be celebrating Konta reaching Wimbledon’s second week — for the first time ever. The fans are learning who she is. Is Konta fast, super aggressive, happy, smart, erratic, super nervous, in trouble? We will find out on Thursday.

We have been watching Garbine Muguruza pretty closely over the past eight weeks. Yes, for a year, her brain was all over the place. But eventually, at Roland Garros, she rose, she didn’t get angry. Now, she is more patient and has begun to she believe in herself again. She bested two-time Grand Slam winners Angie Kerber and Svetlana Kuznetsova, and now, she is in the semis.

Muguruza is favored to reach the final, but you never know. Not with her. She can rip her forehand and backhand, but there are days when she doesn’t like her racket and could snap it. If the Spaniard is calm, she will win. She is that good.

She will play Magdalena Rybarikova, who upended the American Coco Vandeweghe in straight sets. Rybarikova has never reached the semis before, but the veteran plugged on. Against Vandeweghe, she hit it deep and she mixed it up all over the place. It took her eight years to reach the semis at the Slams, and finally, she understood that she needs to be patient, and also, swing away when the opportunity rises. She better do all these things, or Muguruza will crush her.

For the second time in two Slams, Halep had one match to win to ascend to No. 1. But, with the loss to Konta, following the slip in Roland Garros’ final to Ostepenko, Karolina Pliskova will be ranked No. 1 next week. She will be the 23rd top player in WTA history.

Muller shocks Nadal, Venus to face Ostapenko

Muller exploits his lefty serve in Atlanta. Brandon Feusner/ATC

Wimbledon, Day 9, JULY 10 – What a great win by Gilles Muller, who stunned Rafa Nadal  6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13.

The Spaniard was darn close of grabbing the match against the veteran but Muller never gave up as he came charging into the net, time and time again. He didn’t panic when the match was approaching five hours, He believed that if he could hang in, bend low, hit some sweet shots and serve like the demon, the he could actually win. 
And he did. It has taken him during many, many years and finally, Muller found some confidence and stability. Next he will play Marin Cilic, who is very thoughtful. Yes, Muller played as well as he could against Nadal, but Cilic is intelligent now and his serve is phenomenally good. Ace after ace, boys …
Obviously, Roger Federer is the favorite here, especially now that the red-hot Nadal is gone, but Grigor. Dimitrov played terrible and lost in three. Is Dimitrov ever going to win a Slam? Too much is clogging up his head.

How about that classic coming up: Federer versus Milos Raonic. The Canadian overcame Zverev in five sets. In the 5th, he locked in and wiped him out 6-1. Federer has beaten Raonic many times, but in 2016, Milos stunned Roger. It should be damned close on Wednesday.

Another vet, Tomas Berdych, overcame Dominic Thiem in five sets. Nice win by the Czech, but it is very surprising that the young competitors can’t move a notch. This year at the Slams? Maybe at the US Open, but to reach the finals at the majors, it is extremely rugged going against the Big Four.
Sam Querrey will go up against Andy Murray, the two-time champion. Of course, Murray is the favorite. But, last year, the American shocked Novak Djokovic in London. This time, or this week, the Brit will be more patient and he is playing better. But, if Murray starts to yell at his box over and over again, then all bets off.

Predcting the women on Tuesday
The 36-year-old Venus Williams will face the RG champion Jelena Ostapenko. Venus is playing pretty well. Ostapenko is up-and-down and playing nervously. What has helped he win Roland Garros and moving into the Wimbledon quarters is her ability to improve slightly every match. She has become more patient. The 20-year-old loves to swing away, even when she is erratic for a few minutes. Forehand versus forehand, Ostapenko will upset Williams.

Here is another classic, as Jo Konta who will go up against Simona Halep. Konta is super powerful, and she will attempt to hit the lines, all the time, but Halep is a little bit quicker. Halep is steadier, but this is on grass, and the Romanian isn’t comfortable at SW19.

What a great win by Garbine Muguruza over Angie Kerber. The Spaniard is finally back, she jumps on the ball and she doesn’t wait behind the baseline. Now she has to face the intelligent and experienced Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian can play fantastic, or she can drop mentally, pretty quickly. Either way, they will go three sets. If Muguruza doesn’t get hurt, she’s on to the semis.

American Coco Vandeweghe seems to be feeling the rhythm. She bested Caro Wozniacki and now she has to play Magdalena Rybarikova. You would have to think that the huge server Vandeweghe will win in two sets, but you never know. Sure, she has improved over the past year and a half, but she can check out mentally in smaller tournaments. But not at the majors.

The Big Show: women’s round of 16

The Quarters, on Monday, at Wimbledone The women

Simona Halep vs. Victoria Azarenka
More than a year ago, Azarenka was on fire, winning Indian Wells and Miami, and she was ready to grab Roland Garros and Wimbledon. But she could not because she had to pull out to have a baby. Now, she is back as a mother. Is she playing perfect ball? No, not yet, but each day, she gets better and better. Clearly, the No. 2 Halep can play great, and then she backs off her game and the losing ensues. Someday, she will change and win a major title but not yet. Azarenka will win in three sets.

Angie Kerber vs. Garbine Muguruza
This is a classic match. The No. 1 German has done almost nothing this season, but during the past week, her confidence is back and now the two-time Slam champ is ready to be super-steady and aggressive. The same goes with Muguruza: at Roland Garros, she looked very decent, which was an improvement, because during the first four months iof 2017, her head wasn’t there. But now the Spaniard can feel that she can be in control and go for the lines. This is a tossup here, but pick Kerber to win in three fantastic sets.

Venus Williams vs. Ana Konjuh
Ms. Williams has won Wimbledon five times, so we all know that she loves London and she knows exactly how to play. However, the 36-year-old hasn’t won at SW19 in the past eight years. Can she do it for the last time? I doubt it, but she will really push herself. However, Konjuh is getting better every second. She will raise her game in the third set and stun Williams.

Johanna Konta vs. Caroline Garcia
Brit Konta looked like her body was pretty tired, but on Friday, she rose up and she was extremely fast. Garcia is comfortable again, and the doubles player is pretty good at the net, but Konta will jump on her immediately and win in two sets.

Aga Radwanska vs. Sveta Kuznetsova
These two vets know each other very well. Russian Kuznetsova can grind it, but Radwanska is super quick on grass. Aga will win in straight sets.

CoCo Vandeweghe vs. Caroline Wozniacki
Vandeweghe appears to have gained more composure, and, of course, she is a huge hitter — all over the place. Wozniacki doesn’t love grass, but she is finally understanding what to do — especially with her forehand. The American wants it to win right now and she will, winning in two long sets.

Jelena Ostapenko vs. Elina Svitolina

Ostapenko may not look great every second, but the new RG champ never gives up. She hits so hard on both sides. She will destroy Svitolina.

Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Petra Martin
The Croatian Martic has returned, and she is very pleased that she doesn’t get angry anymore. She focuses on the ball and she is in more patient. She will wear down Rybarikova in straight sets.

Who really loves tennis? Wimbledon favorites on day 2


The great Roger Federer will go against the up-and-down Alexandr Dolgopolov on Tuesday. Dolgopolov has an incredible variety, but he is rarely patient and he does not serve hard and move it around in the box. Still, maybe one time, Dolgopolov can play fantastic and on Centre Court he could be very happy and really go for it.
Federer knows everything he has to do, and in the first round, he will quiet the monster.

Kei Nishikori won over Marco Cecchinato and the Japanese says he can win it all at Wimbledon. On grass? Wow, he thinks that for two weeks, he will not get hurt — again? That would be very unusual. Let’s see.

There are times that Stan Wawrinka can play out of his mind, and there are others days he checks out. He was on fire at RG, but on Monday on grass, he lost against the young Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Good for Medvedev, but as Wawrinka has said, he cannot play well every week. Clearly, that happened on the first day.

Here is a stunner: Aljaz Bedene beat Ivo Karlovic 6-7(5) 7-6(6) 6-7(7) 7-6(7) 8-6. Karlovic can serve harder than anyone, but when they start rolling, he is too slow.     

Rafa Nadal smoked John Millman, and without a doubt, he is one of the favorites. He has won Wimby before and, as long as he stays healthy, he can knock out anyone.
How about Marin Cilic who destroyed Philipp Kohlschreiber? Maybe he can reach the semis at a Slams.

Good wins by Kevin Anderson, Donald Young, Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson, and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who advanced when Nick Kyrgios retired. A surgery coming for Kyrgios? This year, he has not dealt with the doctors.

The Roland Garros champ Jelena Ostapenko won on Monday, and we would think that the big basher will continue to feel that she is better than anyone. That is possible. After all, she did shock the world in Paris.

Speaking of Petra Kvitova, she is also on fire, winning Eastbourne and on Monday, she won easily. However, she is a little bit hurt already and while she bangs the ball, if she goes very deep, she can panic. Over the past decade, she did.

Good wins by Vika Azarenka, Ana Konjuh, Johanna Konta, Dominika Cibulkova and the Americans: Madison Keys, Jennifer Brady and Madison Brengle.
How about Genie Bouchard, who in 2014, she reached the final and she was looking very, very good. But now, she cannot get going. She lost against Carla Suarez-Navarro in the third set without a wimper. At this point, you cannot say that she can get back into the top 5. She is so confused.
The same thing goes with Laura Robson, who lost against Beatriz Haddad. Is the Britain Robson really loves tennis? I am just not sure.

Who to reach the semis: Murray? Federer? Nadal? Djokovic? Wawrinka? Raonic? Kyrgios?


Andy Murray is the top seed, but clearly, he has not been playing great this year. Yes, he definitely knows how to win Wimbledon, but he is struggling and he can be mentally confused. Can he actually grab it again? I doubt it, but the No. 1 always tries as hard as he can. 

He should reach the third round, but then he will likely face Fabio Fognini, who has played very well, but he does not love grass, and Murray will hurt him.

In the fourth round, he will have to go up against either Nick Kyrgios or Lucas Pouille. That is almost a toss-up. Pouille is getting better and better, but we all know that when the Aussie is totally on, he can blast it into the corners. Yes, Kyrgios is up and down and he gets hurt frequently, but when he is into it, he can crush it.  

Kyrgios and Murray like each other, and the Brit knows how to compose himself. However, the Aussie will hit ace after ace and stun Andy.

Who will reach the semis here? Maybe Stan Wawrinka, who just reached the final at Roland Garros, but the Swiss has never gone very deep at Wimby. Yet this time, he realizes that he has to move in, rather than going back. Wawrinka will reach the quarters, but in the fourth round, he will have to take down Jo Tsonga or Sam Querrey. It’s all about aces between those two, but this time, Wawrinka will out rally him.

Rafa Nadal hasn’t played since Roland Garros, when he won in his tenth title. He is back — finally — and his backhand has gotten substantially better. However, clay versus grass is much different and for the Spaniard to win Wimbledon, he must be quicker and shorten the points. Over the years, Nadal’s body was exhausted after clay. But he looks pretty healthy again, so during the first week in England, he should win pretty easily. However, in the second week on Monday, he will have to face either Ivo Karlovic or Gilles Muller. Both are huge servers, and both love coming into the net. However, they can be a little bit slow, and they don’t move well enough, which is why they have not won a major before. Rafa has — 15 times, in fact. 

In the quarters, he will have to go up against either Marin Cilic or Kei Nishikori. Cilic is pretty consistent this year, and the Japanese is intelligent, but he cannot contain himself. Cilic will try to paint the lines against Nadal, but his shots be called “out” game after game.
Rafa will reach the semis.

Roger Federer has won Wimbledon so many times it will make your head spin. He badly wants to go super deep at Wimbledon, and given that he just won Halle, he is ready to climb the mountain. 

However, in the first round, he will have to play against the tricky Alex Dolgopolov, who has tremendous variety, but deep in the fifth set, he can become nervous and fall down, which he will.

In order to reaching the semis, Federer might have to pass two very good competitors: Grigor Dimitrov, who has reached the semis at Wimbledon, and Milos Raonic, who reached the final last year. Yes, the 20-year-old Alex Zverev will win the tournament someday, but he still need to improve quite a bit. However, he is already a fine player. 

In the fourth round, Federer will face Dimitrov, which should be a classic. It will be five sets, and at the end, the 18-time champ Federer will out-think him. 

In the quarters, Fed will confront Raonic, who was so close to be winning this event last year. But he could not. Now, the Canadian will hit him as hard as he can. Raonic will jump up and down and reach the semis once again.     

Novak Djokovic is concerned that he isn’t playing as well as he can, but at least on Saturday, he won Eastbourne, which is better than nothing. As he said, now, finally, he is getting a little bit better so when he walks on to Wimbledon, he will be smiling, rather than smirking. 

If the 12-time Grand Slam Djokovic can reach the semis, then he will raise up high. But first in the third round, he will likely face Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine knows how to play him, and at the Olympics, he bested against the Serbian with some gigantic shots. But, this is grass. While it is critical to hit big first serves, del Potro cannot hit his backhand with enough authority, while Djokovic’s backhand is incredibly well.

That’s why he will reach the semis, unless Dominic Thiem learns how to play on grass (he did thrash Djokovic at RG on clay) and/or Tomas Berdych wakes up. (The Czech reached the final here in 2010.) Either way, Djokovic will get to the semis. And then, is the question.  

Halep vs Ostapenko in final: ’It’s very fast court, so it really fits me’

At ROLAND GARROS, DAY 13 — How good is Simona Halep? Is she great? Fantastic? Nearly great? Over hyped? Up and down?

We will find out tomorrow as she returns to a final in Paris.

The same questions can be posed about the 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko, even though her career is ahead of her.

We all know that Ostapenko is incredibly aggressive, that she can crack the ball from both sides, and she can come into the net when needed. But even though she has had a very good year overall, she is still learning. She can nail the corners for a few minutes, and then, all of a sudden, slap it way wide. But as she said yesterday, she needs to be a calm, composed, driven.

On the clay, she reached the final at Charleston, upsetting Caro Wozniacki and Mirjana Lucic. In the final, she quickly lost against Daria Kasakina. So, so many errors, but at least she got there.

She qualified in Stuttgart and Rome. In Paris, she was ready go play ball.    

“I’m playing pretty well on clay. But here I think it’s very special, said Ostapenko. “It’s very fast court so it really fits me. … Since I probably
started to play tennis, I had a possibility to play aggressive. So, I was always trying to play aggressive and that’s my game style.”

Halep says that everyone knows that she is right there to grab No. 1 for the first time. But she has never played against Ostapenko, and she’s a little worried. She has to decide: Can she just stand and wait for the ball, or does she need to attack the Latvian immediately?

“It’s tough to know what to expect against Ostapenko. She’s hitting very strong the balls,” Halep said. “It’s going to be the same plan. But I will focus more on myself. I’m not focusing on herself too much. I just want to do my game, to be there, focused, to move well.  It’s going to be a big match, tough match. I know that she can play her best tennis. She has nothing to lose. So, I’m going there and I will be ready.”

The guys

What an amazing match by Stan Wawrinka, who overcomes Andy Murray 6-7(6) 6-3 5-7 7-6(3) 6-1 in the semis.  The Swiss won the tournament two years ago. He believes that if he plays great, he could stun Rafa Nadal.

Wawrinka and Murray ran side-to-side, up and down, back and forth. It was all about the backhands, and Wawrinka won, going very deep and super heavy. He rarely looked tired.

“There are two ways of seeing things and I chose to be positive, knowing that I was dominating,” said Wawrinka.

The No. 1 Murray looked a little bit better over the past two weeks, but he has struggled this year, at least for a No. 1. Will it go away this year? It’s hard to say, but we do know that he will always push himself. Very hard, or too hard.

“Maybe the lack of matches has hurt me a little bit in the end today. That was a very high intensity match,” Murray said. “A lot of long points. When you haven’t been playing loads, over four, four and a-half hours, that can catch up a little bit. … Physically I didn’t feel my best at the end.”

Wawrinka has won the three major finals he has played. Here is the most important thing: If Wawrinka wins, he will own four Grand Slams titles. Murray has three majors. If the Swiss passes the Scot, does that mean that Wawrinka is better than Murray? Day to day, over the past 10 years, Murray has been better than Wawrinka, more consistent, but over the past three years, Wawrinka has risen.

When they retire, then we can find out exactly who was better.

Nadal destroyed Dominic Thiem 6-3 6-4 6-0 in the semis. Clearly, Nadal is the favorite. His lefty forehand is phenomenal, and he has actually improved his backhand, finally hitting it deep. If Nadal wins, he will have 15 Grand Slams. Then, possibly, Roger Federer’s 18 will be in his sights.

Djokovic folds, rising Thiem to face Nadal

At ROLAND GARROS, DAY 11 — Without a doubt, Dominic Thiem played incredibly well to stun Novak Djokovic 7-6(5) 6-3 6-0 in the quarters. The most amazing thing was two and half weeks ago, the Serb blew him out 6-1 6-0 in Rome. Last year in the semis in Paris, Djokovic easily beat Thiem in three sets.

It’s one thing to lose, but why the heck did Djokovic look so awful in the third set? Over the past four years, the former No. 1 has been so consistent, so smart, so on the ball — all the time. But not anymore, as his head is spinning around. In the third set, he didn’t want to play anymore. He was done.

Can the 12-time Grand Slam champion recover soon? I doubt it. But, by the end of the year, Djokovic have calmed down. It’s very hard to say. That is exactly what he is thinking.

“In the last couple of tournaments, I have had some great matches. It’s unfortunate to finish Roland Garros the way I have done today,” Djokovic said. “I obviously always expect a lot from myself, but it’s a fact that I’m not playing close to my best, and I know that. I’m trying, as everyone else, to work on the game, and work on things. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a whole new situation that I’m facing, especially in the last seven, eight months, not winning any tournaments, which hasn’t happened in many years. All the top players have been through that. So, I guess you’ve got to go through it, try to learn your lessons and figure out the way, how to get out of it stronger. It’s a big challenge, but I’m up for it.”

Instead of facing Rafa Nadal in the semis, it will be Thiem going against the Spaniard. Nadal got through when Pablo Carreno Busta retired in the second set. Nadal has sailed through the tournament with very little time spent on court.

Nadal and Thiem have played a bunch of times, with Nadal blasting him in Barcelona, and then Thiem out-lasting him in Rome. It should be fairly close, but the 14-time champion Nadal is the favorite for sure. Nadal will try to crush Thiem’s one-handed backhand by applying his heavy spin. If he does, Nadal will waltz into the final.

We saw a fine win by Stan Wawrinka, who destroyed Marin Cilic 6-3 6-3 6-1. The Swiss is so good right now that he has a legitimate chance to reach the final, if he manages to upend Andy Murray.

Last year in the semis, Murray out-though Wawrinka 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-2. This time, Wawrinka has to be patient, and wait for his opportunities.

New women’s No. 1 could be crowned

What a comeback by Simona Halep, who was down 6-3, 5-1 to Elina Svitolina before she recovered, and Svitolina became super nervous. Halep won 3-6 7-6(6) 6-0. The Romanian stood tall, while Svitolina cracked under pressure.

On Thursday, there will be a gigantic match with Halep facing Karolina Pliskova. If Pliskova prevails and moves on to the final, she will become No. 1. If Halep wins the semifinal, then the Romanian needs to win the tournament to become No. 1. If neither of those things happen, Angelique Kerber stays on top.

Imagine that. Maybe a new No. 1.

Stan Wawrinka working to win another major

At ROLAND GARROS, DAY 9 — There were a couple great contests on Monday, with Stan Wawrinka out-hitting the Frenchman Gael Monfils, 7-5 7-6(7) 6-2. Earlier, Elina Svitolina out-lasted Petra Martic 4-6 6-3 7-5.

Wawrinka has won the tournament here in Paris, but Svitolina has yet to come close. Without a doubt, the Swiss is playing extremely well once again. His backhand is scary and his forehand is very heavy. Wawrinka really wants to grab it again, but now, he is pushing back against the top players. He will face against Marin Cilic in the quarters, then maybe against Andy Murray in the semis, and very likely, Rafa Nadal in the final.

The Swiss knows how to play, but his body is pretty sore. We would think that he will yank Cilic from side to side, but if he has to play for a solid three hours. On Thursday, his toes will be cranky. Then he will find out whether he can last the distance.

Svitolina hasn’t gone deep at the majors before, but she has improved a ton. Now,she will have to face Simona Halep, who trashed Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-1. Halep is a serious favorite.

No. 3 Karolina Pliskova overcame Veronica Cepede Royg 2-6 6-3 6-4. This is the first time that Pliskova has reached the quarters at RG. Finally, she’s showing some ability onclay.

Spaniard Caroline Garcia took out Alize Cornet 6-2 6-4. Garcia played extremely next up is Pliskova. Toss-up for sure.

Murray is playing better and better and against Karen Khachanov, he was explosive, with his backhand and forehand. He will be the favorite against Kei Nishikori, who sprinted past Fernando Verdasco 0-6 6-4 6-4 6-0. It looks like Murray and Nishikori will go to five sets, with some fun, long rallies. Murray believes he can grab it. Nishikori thinks that, too. Murray rarely gets nervous, but Nishikori does. If the Japanese wants to win hisfirst major, he is must step in and go for it. That is the only chance he has. 

Marin Cilic: “The form is quite good”

ROLAND GARROS, DAY 8: The rain came fairly late on Saturday and a number of matches could not finish. The weather has been fine in Paris, actually over the last week, and it has been beautiful for the most part. Who doesn’t love the summer, wherever you are?

Before the rain poured, there were some impresses matches. Like
Marin Cilic, who crushed the tired Feliciano Lopez 6-1 6-3 6-3. He just blew him out. Cilic won the 2014 US Open, taking down Roger Federer in the semis, and then, in the final, he was locked in and overwhelmed Kei Nishikori.

Since then, Cilic has been only pretty good at the Grand Slams. In 2015, he reached the quarters at Wimbledon and the semis of the US Open, but Novak Djokovic took him down twice.

In 2016, Federer got him back in the quarters and at the US Open in the third round, American Jack Sock crushed him.

On clay in 2015 Roland Garros, David Ferrer busted Cilic in three sets. The next year in Paris, he lost in the first round. Cilic has reached the fourth round of RG a number of times, but can he reach the quarters, finally?

He has an opportunity because over the past two month as he has become more patient. He reached the final at Istanbul (losing to Milos Raonic), and he lost against the very good young player Alexander Zverev in Madrid. Then he lost in Rome against John Isner. Not bad, but not great, either.

But during the past week in Paris, Cilic rose up. On Monday, he will have to go against the huge server, Kevin Anderson. Cilic is favored, but there will be many short points. He has to hit it very deep, or else, Anderson can out-think him.

“The form is quite good, I have to say,” Cilic said. “I’m feeling really well and definitely with the fitness. I haven’t spent too much time on the court and won all the matches quite straightforward. Didn’t lose too much energy. And that’s definitely extremely important.”

How about Fernando Verdasco, who won again? He destroyed Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 6-1, 6-3. He stunned Zverev in the first round, and now the older man will face Nishikori, who just won a five-setter. They will do it again, in a five-setter, for hours and hours.

“They will do it again, in a five-setter, for hours and hours.”
How about Rafa Nadal, who destroyed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1 6-2 6-2? He is playing perfect. Way to go for Pablo Carreno, who overcame Milos Raonic 4-6 7-6(2) 6-7(6) 6-4 8-6. It was more than four hours and, if he is a little bit tired, he will be done early in the next round because Nadal will grind him until he falls down.            
Gael Monfils advanced after Richard Gasquet retired. Monfils can raise up at RG, as he has reached the semis twice in Paris, but now he has to face Stan Wawrinka, who is playing incredibly well. Good for Kei Nishikori, who toppled Chung Hyeon 7-5 6-4 6-7(4) 0-6 6-4. He says that he is feeling healthy. We will see on Monday, as he has to face the veteran, Fernando Verdasco, who can run and run and run. Will Nishikori get hurt? Possibly, because he gets hurt all the time.

In the past two months, Dominic Thiem has played extremely well. However, he will have to face against Novak Djokovic, who destroyed him in Rome. Thiem  is young, but as he said, he doesn’t know how to play against Djokovic. He better figure it out ASAP.     

Wozniacki with upset
What a huge win by Caro Wozniacki, the former No. 1 who beat Sveta Kuznetsova in three sets today. It’s been a long time for Wozniacki, who has never understood how to play on clay. It has taken her 10 years, but finally, she figured it out … running around and crushing her backhand, going deep and to sharp angles. Her forehand is getting better with a lot of spin. She may not win the tournament, but she could reach the semis, or possibly, into the final. Wozniacki hasn’t won a major, but she has won a number of different events. At least she keeps trying, and that matter a lot.

There goes the Americans. Venus Williams went down against Timea Bacsinszky 5-7 6-2 6-1. A few hours before, John Isner lost against Karen Khachanov. Next week, there will be no USA people at all in singles. None of the guys, none of the women. Outside of Serena Williams, in the past 12 years, there have been no one who went very deep at RG. Someone has to change up their tactics, and figure out how to do it the right way.
What a huge win by Kristina Mladenovic, who took down the former champ Garbine Muguruza 6-1 3-6 6-3. Mladenovic is on a roll. She will be favored against Bacsinszky. The Frenchwoman could even reach the final. Mind blowing.

On the other side, two players can reach the semis:  Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova. They have finally learned to figure out clay — or we think so.