Tuesday, June 30, 2015


by Karen 

A few days ago one of my tennis buddies said to me that she felt like something was going to happen at Wimbledon.  She said either Serena will lose early or Fed will go out early.  Neither player lost in the first round but in the case of Serena she struggled mightily with nerves in her first set against the unheralded Gasparayan.  In the second set she did not have to play pretty tennis but she did what needed to be done in order to move on.

The same cannot be said for the hot and cold Simona Halep (seeded No. 3) who went out in spectacular fashion to Jana Cepelova who notched just her second win of the season.  This was by any account a really weak effort by Halep.  Not only did she have semifinal points to defend at this tournament, but she had a really good opportunity to work her way through her side of the draw with a potential semifinal against Petra Kvitova.  That is not to be and I am hopeful that Halep will take these early losses at the Major events as a sign that her game and mental attitude needs a  lot of work.

After her loss to Lucic-Baroni in Paris, she indicated that she was trying to do too much off the ground.  She subsequently fired her coach and commenced working with Darren Cahill.  While she did not have a lot of match time on the grass (losing to Mladenovic in Birmingham), she seems to have not learned from her French Open failure as on the two occasions that she has lost, she has lost matches playing hit hard tennis and when that does not work, hit it even harder.  Someone needs to tell her that that is not her game and she should go back to working the point until she finds an opening and then finish with her kill shot. 

Halep losing was not the only top seed going out on the women’s side.  As Genie Bouchard said in her post match press conference, “I believe that the world has now come to an end”.  I don’t think I would be that dramatic, but I do believe that the alarm bells that have been ringing all year are now pealing and as a result Bouchard will need to take a step back and evaluate her game as well as the team around her.  I don’t know if the problem lies with her coach, but one thing that has struck me about Bouchard this year is the weight loss that for me has taken away her weight of shot.  Before the start of this year’s tournament, I watched last year’s final and Bouchard had stronger legs and a bigger physique.  She had well developed muscular arms and legs and this is one of the reasons why she was able to win as many matches as she did last year.   This year she is significantly thinner and I don’t know if the two go hand in hand but it is hard to ignore that particular glaring fact.

As I opined earlier, this so-called sophomore slump of Bouchard is not a slump but an indicator of the kind of player that she really is.  I don’t know whether adding back the muscle that she has undoubtedly lost will help her cause but it could not hurt her to try something new.   With Halep and Bouchard losing early, the draw has opened up significantly for a fair number of players to take advantage.  

At the close of play today, Madison Keys, one of the players who could benefit from the loss of Halep and Bouchard was locked in a 3 set battle with Stefanie Voegele. 

News came today that the doubles team of Venus and Serena have withdrawn from the Championships. No word as to the reason behind the withdrawal but hopefully it is because both women have realized that they will need to be in peak optimum condition in order to win this title.  

Tomorrow’s Day 3 OOP sees 32 matches from the top half of the women’s draw which features both Williams Sisters and Sharapova.  Also in action will be Ana Ivanovic and Sloane Stephens.  The Spin’s Picks are highlighted below.

Court Assignment
Williams (S) v. Babos
No. 1
Hantuchova v. Watson
No. 2
Sharapova v. Hogencamp
Williams (V) v. Putintseva
No. 3
Mattek-Sands v. Ivanovic

No. 12
Radwanska (U) v. Stosur
Errani v. Krunic
No. 18
Bencic v. Friedsam
Flipkens v. Azarenka
Court 8
Ziyas v. Sasnovich
Stephens v. Davis
No. 16
Tsurenko v Begu
No. 17
Pliskova v Vandeweghe
Ostapenko v Mladenovic
Hsieh v Safarova

From the Commentary Booth

Most of what I have been listening to has been very good commentary so far.  Perhaps this is because I have had the distinct pleasure of getting streams that have European commentators who know not to talk during points, or who only speak when they have something of value to add to the tennis.  Unfortunately, this ended today while I was watching the Keys/Voegele match. 

I believe the commentary team was made up of  Doug Adler and Jeff Tarango.  For the first time in a long while I wanted to verbally abuse someone on social media.  Luckily for me, I did not. Below are a series of tweets which told the story about the men in the booth:

No clue who is playing 

Being the ultimate Monday Morning Quarterback 

Killing me softly 

Trashing Lindsay Davenport 

Needs to be fired 

We all wondered who Vergeller or Vergulla was

We were in Pain 

People want him to seek employment elsewhere 

Don't forget the screamingly obvious commentary 

See or heard something in the commentary booth that you want to share, hit me up on Twitter or in the comments.  

Monday, June 29, 2015


by Karen 

Wimbledon Day One has come and gone and the matches have been as exhilarating as we thought they would be. 

First up how great was Venus Williams today?  If you have not seen the match, get yourself to YouTube or hope that Tennis Channel features this match during Wimbledon Primetime.  It was Venus at her absolute best.  I watched this match at work on the BBC feed and at one point neither commentator had words to describe what Venus was doing out there.  It was just a commanding performance.  It reminded me and many other tennis fans just how much we truly loved seeing Venus at Wimbledon.   The match stats tell you everything you need to know about how efficient Venus was out there today.  If she never plays like this again for the rest of the year, I can say that I am ecstatically happy about this particular performance 

 A good tennis friend of mine tweeted that Venus was Petra’ing.  I had to remind her that Venus invented this kind of tennis.

In other news, Lucie Safarova avoided the upset bug and pulled through in 3 tough sets against Alison Riske.  Belinda Bencic also had to go 3 sets and must be thanking her lucky stars that if not for Pironkova’s untimely injury she would have been out in the first round.  Margarite Gasparan reminded us of the depth of talent on the WTA Tour as she went up an early break against Serena Williams playing brilliant tennis, but like many before her, was unable to sustain that level of play over the match and lost in straight sets. 

Some players are trying to find their grass legs and this was obvious from the many long matches that were played today.  Karolina Pliskova managed to eke out a 3 set win. Carla Suarez-Navarro was the first top seed out of the tournament but I doubt if we can call that an upset. 

Tomorrow sees the first match from the reigning champion on the women’s side, Petra Kvitova as she opens up her title defence against Kiki Bertens.  If Kvitova is not on her game she could see herself facing the exit.  Last year’s finalist Eugenie Bouchard also begins her debut as well as Laura Robson and Caroline Wozniacki. 

Court Assignment
Bertens v. Kvitova
No. 1
Cepelova v. Halep
No. 2
Makarova v. Vichery
Wozniacki v. Zheng
No. 3
Rodina v. Robson
Duan v. Bouchard
No. 12
Watson v. Garcia (continued from Day 1)
Radwanska (A) v. Hradecka
Gajdosova v. Lisicki
No. 18
Witthoeft v. Kerber
Kuznetsova v. Siegemund
No. 4
Arruabarrena v. Parmentier
Mitu v. Govortsova
No. 5
Pavlyuchenkova v. Barthel (match of the day)
Knapp v. Rybarikova
No. 6
Pliskova (Kr) v. Smitkova
Siniakova v. Allertova (Darkhorse pick to do damage)
No. 17
Doi v. Svitolina
Larsson v. McHale
No. 8
Linette v. Nara
No. 9
Puig v. Nicolescu
No. 10
Lucic-Baroni v. Shvedova
Karatantcheva v. Soler-Espinosa
No. 11
Maria v. Jovanovski
Wickmayer v. a Kulichkova
No. 15
Muguruza v. Lepchenko
Peraira v. Giorgi
No. 16
Paszek v. Dellacqua
Jankovic v. Vesnina
No. 17
Tomljanovic v. Koulakova
Keys v. Voegele (Voegele may pull the upset in this one)
Bacsinszky v. Georges
Konjuh v. Cornet


Sunday, June 28, 2015


by Karen 

Ready, Play.  These words while not unique to the sport of tennis has a special ring to it when said by the umpires at The Championships, Wimbledon. 

This year's Championships have not yet begun and already controversy is in the air with regard to the scheduling of matches during the opening day.  Day 1 starts with the top half of the group.  As is the norm, last year's Gentlemen's Champion Novak Djokovic opens play on Centre Court.   The rest of the day's proceedings are following the Wimbledon pattern of scheduling 2 men's matches on Centre Court and No. 1 Court and only 1 women's match.  Last year they strayed from this and scheduled 2 women's matches on the 2 main show courts.  One can only hope that this year will not be any different. 

Order of Play - Day 1 

Maria Sharapova v. Joanna Konta 

Serena Williams v. Margarita Gasparyan

Riske v. Safarova (potential upset special)
Watson v. Garcia 

Brengle v. Williams (V)

Kontaveit v Azarenka 

Hercog v. Davis 

Bencic v. Pironkova - Match of the day
Rogers v. Petkovic 

Suarez-Navarro v. Ostapenko

Hantuchova v. Cibulkova

Pliskova v. Falconi
Errani v. Schiavone 

Babos v. Cetkovska 
Dulgheru v. Mladenovic

Gavrilova v Begu 

Jankovic v. Lucic-Baroni 
Gallovits-Hall v Radwanska (U)


Van Uutvanck v. Mattek-Sands
Gibbs v. Tsurenko

Pennetta v. Diyas 

Flipkens v Beck 
Dellacqua v. Shvedova 

COURT NO.  15 
Vandeweghe v Schmiedlova (SVK) 
Zhu v Sasnovich 

Hogenkamp v Wang 
Erakovic v Putintseva 

Mariana Duque-Marino v Naomi Broady 
Barbora Strycova v Sloane Stephens (could be an upset) 

Where to Watch The Championships 

If you are living outside the United States and Canada and do not have access to WatchESPN or ESPN3, you can subscribe to bet365.com and have the ability to watch all match courts all the time.  There is a fee (US$10.00) and it is a betting website but you do not need to bet.  Unfortunately, there are no replays so if you snooze you lose. 

There is also the always reliable livescorehunter.com  for those of you who do not wish to subscribe. 

I hope you enjoy the next 2 weeks because I most certainly will. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015


The foremost topic that will be on everyone’s lips is can she do it?  She is already half way there and there are many who believe that if not now, then it will never happen.  We are of course talking about Serena Williams’ chase into history to complete the calendar year Grand Slam and be two-thirds of the way through to tying Steff Graf’s record.  Winner of the Australian and French Open, Serena has not won Wimbledon since her return from life threatening injuries in 2012.   She seems to be on a mission to accomplish these milestones and as a fan of the women’s game, I am slowly rooting her on.

Can Venus raise Venus Rosewater dish one more time?  At 35 years young, Venus has accomplished so much in her career. After a fast start in 2015, she has tapered off somewhat with some quite disappointing results.  However, I am looking forward to seeing her on her beloved grass. I would have loved to see her play a warm up tournament as she has not played a competitive match since losing early at the French.  If the seeds hold, she is scheduled to meet her sister in the fourth round. 

News broke early this week that current Wimbledon title holder, Petra Kvitova has withdrawn from the Aegon Championships at Eastbourne with a sore throat.  While I am not too concerned as to whether Petra will be ready for her Wimbledon title defence, I can’t help but think that she needs some match play heading into Wimbledon.  Petra, like Venus has not played a competitive match since losing in the fourth round at the French.  As most people know last year Kvitova played Wimbledon with her right leg taped, but she was able to power her way through and claim her second Wimbledon title.  There is really no one on her side of the draw who could cause her problems, but look for the consistent Nara to cause her problems and could possibly pull the upset.  

Simona Halep is once again coachless, choosing to let her Romanian coach go after losing in the quarter-finals of Birmingham to Kristina Mladenovic.  Halep will be “coached” by Darren Cahill during the Championships.  A semifinalist last year, Halep seems to be struggling not with the pressure of performing but with the pressure of expectations.  I believe that Simona is one of those players who just wants to get out on court and play tennis.  The peripheral things that attend being a top player seem to be more of a distraction for her.  Here's hoping that she is able to maintain her focus during the 2 weeks of the Championships. She is on the bottom half of the draw and is scheduled to face Petra Kvitova in the semifinals if the seeds hold.  The most dangerous players on her side of the draw is Sabine Lisicki and Svetlana Kuznetsova.  

Maria Sharapova has not played a match since being ousted in the fourth round at the French Open. Since winning the title here in 2004, Sharapova has only made one other final and that was a losing effort to Petra Kvitova in 2011. Sharapova has a tricky draw but I don't see anyone who could cause her any difficulties.  She is scheduled to face Johanna Konta who lost to Belinda Bencic in the quarterfinals of Eastbourne this week.  Konta picked up an injury during that match and if she plays as well as she did in Eastbourne, look for her to give Sharapova some trouble in the early goings.   The most dangerous player in Sharapova's section of the top draw are Zarina Diyas, Daria Gavrilova (who has caused her trouble in the past) and the always dangerous Flavia Pennetta.  Sharapova is on the top half of the draw with Serena Williams and if seedings hold they could meet in the semifinals.  

Can Eugenie Bouchard recapture the magic of 2014 once she steps on the lawns of SW19.  A former junior champion here, it could be that the sight of her biggest failure and also her biggest accomplishment could either make her rise up or she will continue in the doldrums with her game.  Bouchard has found herself in the bottom half of the draw in the same quarter as last year's champion, Petra Kvitova.  She has a very tough draw and with her confidence at an all time low, she could find herself searching for answers after her first round match.  Look for an early exit.  

Who will be the breakout star of the Championships.  At the Australian Open it was Madison Keys who aced her way to the semifinal.  At the French, it was the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova who found her way to the final and eventually ended up winning a set in a very memorable final.  Lucie Safarova and her pick up partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands would come back to win the women’s doubles title, making them half way to winning a calendar year Grand Slam in doubles.

Madison Keys has claimed to love the grass.  Can she make magic happen at the Championships this year?  Last year she earned her first WTA title by defeating Angelique Kerber in one of the best finals of the year.   Keys suffered an injury last year during her match against Shvedova.  Hoefully she is healthy for a run at the Championships. She has had a disappointing grass outing this season, losing her opening match to Belinda Bencic in straight sets. 

Sloane Stephens has been playing inspired tennis.  She has still not regained the form that took her to the semifinals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon 2 years ago, and it remains to be seen whether she is ready to take that next step.  The next few weeks and months will answer those questions.
Without further ado, here are the Spin’s list of Contenders, Pretenders and Maybes for the third Major of the tennis season, The Championships, Wimbledon


·         Serena Williams (has not won here since 2012)
·         Simona Halep (last year’s semifinalist and can play on grass)
·         Petra Kvitova (2x champion. Does she really need match play to win a third title?)
·         Madison Keys (failed to defend her Eastbourne title, but hopefully with a few wins in the early rounds she should have her groove back)
·         Angelique Kerber (finally won a title on grass playing inspired tennis.  Can she back it up at a Major)


·         Ana Ivanovic (made the semis here in 2007.  Not much is expected here)
·         Belinda Bencic (a former junior champion here.  Loves the grass & plays well on it)
·         Sloane Stephens (former semifinalist, trying to find her way back to the top of the game)
·         Karolina Pliskova (big serve & ground strokes but needs to schedule better)
·         Kristina Mladenovic (made the semis in Birmingham and loves the big stage.  Can she repeat her FO performance here?)
·         Maria Sharapova (former champion & semifinalist.  Has not been a feature on fast surfaces but this is Wimbledon)
·         Garbine Muguruza (has played well on the big stage.  Has not done much on the grass before this)
·         Camila Giorgi (won her first title this season on grass. Fell to Gavrilova in Eastbourne.  Needs the rest)
·         Ekaterina Makarova (has been struggling this season since losing in the semis in Australia.  Game is suited to the green stuff)


·         Victoria Azarenka (made the semifinals here twice.  Game not suited for grass. Pulled out of Eastbourne with recurring foot injury)
·         Svetlana Kuznetsova (has been playing solid tennis.  Made the quarters here in 2008)
·         Alize Cornet (pulled one of the biggest upsets at Wimbledon by taking out Serena last year.  Has not been much of a factor this year)
·         Eugenie Bouchard (the trials of Sisyphus are many and so are the trials of Bouchard. Playing in Eastbourne this week)
·         Lucie Safarova (Made the semis here last year which is her best showing. Doubtful she can back it up again this year)



Williams v. Bencic
Diyas v. Pliskova
Wozniacki v. Halep 
Keys v. Svitolina


Williams v. Pliskova
Halep v. Keys


Williams over Halep