Singapore: Ambitious Muguruza and Pliskova, both win easily

Del Potro is coming up, wins Stockholm

Right fromthe start, it looked like Garbine Muguruza was ready to roll. She wants to end the season being ranked No. 1, as that has been her goal all year long.

On Sunday, she cracked the young player Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-4 at the WTA Finals in Singapore. Muguruza jumped on the ball immediately and was pretty consistent. She is fast, she hits two big strokes – her forehand and backhand – and now, she actually is planning her next shot, rather than getting angry. Ostapenko always goes for her shots, but at times, the Roland Garros champ is very erratic. She will learn in time, but not yet. 

For Muguruza, she knows that she is a the cusp of the title. She will battle this week until she can’t fight any more. As the Spaniard says about being No. 1:  “It is important. I’m not going to lie, of course, but I know I have to play well.”

In a sense, the same goes with Karolina Pliskova, who has struggled since the end of August when she lost too early at the US Open. She was so upset that she and her coach waved goodbye. She has been OK in Asia over the past six weeks, but not great. 

On Sunday, though, she was locked in and totally crushed the 7-time Grand Slam champ Venus Williams 6-2, 6-2. That was a blowout. Even though Pliskova said that it was close at  times, Venus realizes that she isn’t ready to compete right now. “I just have to put the ball in the court, is what it boils down to. I’ve been in this position before so I’ll be back on Tuesday,” Venus said.

We hope so. If Venus does not, the 37-year-old will go home, back to Florida. She is still extremely good, but without a doubt, she is aging. We all do. 

On Monday … No. 1 Simona Halep will play  Caroline Garcia, and then Elina Svitolina will face Caroline Wozniacki. According to Ostapenko, the ball is very slow, so both Halep and Wozniacki will have the edge, grinding it away.

Del Potro sweeps aside Dimitrov
With the guys, props to Juan Martin del Potro, who wins Stockholm by defeating Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-2.  DelPo has a chance to reach the ATP Finals, but that means he is going to have to go seriously deep at the ATP Masters Series in Paris. DelPo wants to do it but, as he says, he has to be very careful. He gets injured too often. However, if he stays healthy, then maybe he can win the ATP Finals for the first time, In 2018, he has a very good chance to win his second major as his backhand is slowly healing.

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.