Tag Archives: Gilles Simon

ATP Crystal Ball for 2010.

2010 will be a transition year for the ATP Tour even though the winners may look the same. Here are my predictions for the ATP men again ranked where I think they will end up at year’s end.

1. Roger Federer. To think that “Fed” won’t win another Slam or two next year is highly unlikely. Federer’s consistency week in and week out will help keep his top ranking intact. But this could be his last year of total domination. The real question for Federer, especially after winning the French Open, is what will motivate him to keep going after winning everything. Maybe a chance at a true Grand Slam?

2. Juan Martin Del Potro. That’s right. The big man from Argentina will be chasing Federer all year. Injuries and still a nagging lack of belief could hinder him but I expect Delpo to win another Slam. Could the French be next?

3. Novak Djokovic. The “Falcon” has returned with the fire and belief that was lost for most of 2009. He could win a Slam but he’ll have to keep up the balancing act between being “the class clown” and his intensity which rubs some fans the wrong way. Look for him to come into Australia with a vengeance.

4. Rafael Nadal. I know. I know. The Nadal fans are going to attack me for this but I believe that the Nadal “mystique” is over and the top guys on tour have finally figured out how to play him. I like him in the French for sure but how his body holds up will be the story next year.

5. Andy Murray. I don’t understand the obsession with Murray. He’s a talented player but it’s been proven if you attack him ala Marin Cilic, Roger Federer you will win. His mental toughness is still an issue and he needs a big shot to help him win cheap points. I’m still not convinced Murray has the game to win a Slam. He’ll get close, maybe even a final, but I doubt he’ll win one next year.

6. Nikolay Davydenko. Is this the year the hardest working man on tour finally wins a Slam? Maybe. He certainly proved in Shanghai and the ATP Finals that he can beat anyone especially with his improved serve and net play. But how he holds up in best 3 of 5 matches is the real question. Plus, will fans finally get behind the “unsexy” Russian? I like his chances in Australia better than anywhere else.

7. Andy Roddick. As the ’09 Wimbledon final was a defining match for Roddick, I feel like 2010 is the last hope for him to win one more Slam. He’s in great shape more or less (unless the knee becomes a bigger issue) and coach Larry Stefanki has got him playing better, but if he’s going to do it, this is it. Maybe the U.S. Open?

8. Robin Soderling The lanky Swede proved his French Open runner-up spot was no fluke as he continued his strong play late in the season. He certainly believes he can beat the top players, but does he have the game to prevail in the later stages, especially against Federer? He might get close this year at the Slams but I don’t see him breaking through yet.

9 through 15. Take your pick. Tsonga, Verdasco, Gonzalez, Simon, Monfils, Haas. All these guys have gotten close but no cigar. 2010 could be their “this is it” moment to finally breakthrough. But don’t count on it. Anyone of them could make a Slam final but Jelena Jankovic has more chances than these guys.

Wildcards – Sam Querrey. Querrey certainly had a decent 2009 and I can see him getting into the top 15 but winning a Slam feels out of reach.

Marin Cilic – Could the super tall Croat have a Del Potro like year and finally break into the top 10? Watch out for him at Wimbledon where his big serve and volley game should pay dividends.

Lleyton Hewitt – With his health restored, Hewitt finds himself back in the top 20 again. Can he finally win the Australian Open? Sure, if Federer gets knocked out early.

Richard Gasquet – Now that he’s back on tour, 2010 will be the year when we find out if he has what it takes to get back into the top 10 or just be the punchline to one of the more bizarre storylines of 2009.

James Blake – For all the talent, Blake has never lived up to his potential. Something could happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if 2010 is his last year.

John Isner – He’s got the big serve and had a breakthrough win against Andy Roddick at the U.S. Open but he needs a bigger game overall if wants to even crack into the top 20.

David Nalbandian – He finally returns after enduring hip surgery. But has the highly talented Argentine been eclipsed by the younger Del Potro?

Plenty of other players I could mention as well with their own chances at glory next year. Let me know what you think!

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“Bubble Boys” on Road to London Finale.

Quick update on the race among the ATP men to qualify for the Barclays ATP Finals in London. Even with his semifinal loss in Valencia, Nikolay Davydenko is all but assured of qualifying for the seventh spot. His closest rival, Fernando Verdasco, also lost in the Valenica semis so he’ll have to win a few rounds in Paris this week just to make sure he’s in.

The other “bubble boys” chasing them include Robin Soderling, Jo-Wilifred Tsonga and Fernando Gonzalez who will need to get the Paris finals to go past Davydenko and Gonzalez while Radek Stepanek and Marin Cilic will need to not only win Paris, but have Verdasco lose first round just to maybe qualify. Good luck with that.

Gilles Simon and Tommy Robredo who lost early in Basel are out of contention.

Click here for the full points breakdown.

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ATP Players on the “London Bubble” Battle This Week.

This week several hopefuls for the final spot at the ATP Barclays Finale in London will do battle against each other this week. All these events are ATP 250 so a title win is a must for those on the London “bubble”. In my recent poll, most of you said Fernando Verdasco would grab the final spot followed by Robin Soderling.

In Lyon, Jo-Wilifred Tsonga and good friend Gilles Simon head up the field there while in Vienna, Marin Cilic, who bounced out of Shanghai in the first round, looks to get his momentum back against such players as Gael Monfils and Radek Stepanek.

St. Petersburg is also this week but the only newsworthy event there is the continuing Marat Safin retirement tour. This event will be the last time Safin plays in his native Russia.

And congratulations to Mikhail Youzhny who won the Kremlin Cup and is now back in the top 25 again and also congrats to fan favorite Marcos Baghdatis who won the Stockholm Open.

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Will Lopez Be Last Man Standing in Shanghai – Literally?

Feliciano Lopez in Action in Shanghai (Getty)

Feliciano Lopez in Action in Shanghai (Getty)

The quarterfinals of the Shanghai Masters Open saw more drama and unfortunately more retirements.

Nikolay Davydenko improved his chances of making the ATP London finale by taking out Radek Stepanek 6-1, 4-6, 6-1.

He will face in the semis Novak Djokovic who passed a stern test by Gilles Simon winning 6-3, 2-6, 6-2.

The surprise of the day was Feliciano Lopez’s defeat of No. 9 seed Robin Soderling 7-6(4), 6-3. Lopez, known more lately for his good looks than good results, has changed coaches and cut his trademark locks and it seems to be working. Soderling couldn’t figure out Lopez’s massive lefty serve and silky slice backhand.

Lopez will next face Rafael Nadal who survived an onslaught by veteran Ivan Ljubicic 3-6, 6-3 (ret). Ljubicic, you guessed it, had to retire in the third set after suffering a groin pull.

At this point who will win the whole thing is anybody’s guess. It is nice to see Lopez playing well again.  But the real question is, do you like his new look?

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Shangahi Masters Preview.

Since early round play in the ATP Shanghai Masters 1000 event has kicked off, I will do a very quick preview.

Obviously the main interest will be who will qualify next for London but I think whoever wins Shanghai will get a much needed boost into 2010.

Andy Roddick just needs to win a round or two to qualify for London but that won’t be easy. His first match will either be against Lukasz Kubot who took him out in Beijing or Stanislas Wawrinka who as we all know can beat anybody or lose to anybody depending on his mood. If Roddick survives that, he could potentially face either Fernando Gonzalez or Nikolay Davydenko in the quarters and I like Roddick against either of those guys.

Novak Djokovic in his section could face Tommy Haas early and then find himself up against Gilles Simon or Marin Cilic in the quarters. But Djokovic feeds off confidence and I see him getting through his section and facing Roddick in the semis where I actually like Djokovic in that one.

Fernando Verdasco and Gael Monfils must do well in Shanghai if they want to qualify for London. They are both in Nadal’s section and I like their chances of maybe getting through to the semis as Nadal still looks shaky to me.

On the bottom draw is Juan Marin Del Potro who could face off against Jo-Wilifred Tsonga in the quarters. Del Potro should be well rested after getting bounced first round in Tokyo. Tsonga needs another strong event but I can’t seem him winning two titles back to back.

So for the semis, I’m going with Roddick/Djokovic in one and Verdasco/Del Portro in the other potentially setting up a Djokovic/Del Porto final. But of course it’s the end of the year so maybe John Isner will use his new muay thai skills to blow everybody away.

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Sayanora Mr. Delpo.

I was going to originally call this post “DelPo Pulls a “Safina”, but it would be unfair to compare Juan Martin Del Potro’s early round loss in the Japan Open to Safina’s current misery tour.

Citing jet leg and a mild stomach ailment (and probably a nice “hangover” from celebrating his U.S. Open), Del Potro lost to qualifier Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France 6-4, 6-4.

Although the other top seeds including Gilles Simon and Lleyton Hewitt got through their matches, one has to feel for the tournament organizers after what has been almost a “nightmare” two weeks. First the ladies event is plagued with early round exits by the big names and then a final cut short by Jelena Jankovic’s injury. Now the men’s event, which suffered two withdrawals from top seeds Roger Federer and Andy Murray, loses its top seed early.

But this could be an opportunity for those players like Simon and Jo-Wilifred Tsonga still looking to qualify for the end of the year ATP Series Finale in London.

Lost in the Del Potro news was Andy Roddick’s rather flat showing in the opening round of the China Open. Roddick lost to Polish qualifier Lukasz Kubot 6-2, 6-4.

So with all eyes now pointing to Shanghai to sort out the ATP Finale, who do you think will qualify?

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Domo arigato Mr. Del Potro

With Roger Federer dropping out to change diapers in peace and Andy Murray away nursing his wrist (and probably his pride due to a so-so year) Juan Martin Del Potro became the top seed at the Rakuten Japan Open this week.

Del Potro lost in the final last year to defending champion Tomas Berdych who, let’s face it, hasn’t exactly changed much since then. Del Potro sure has though having won the U.S. Open and leaping into the top five.

With most of the top players dueling in Beijing, Del Potro could actually have an easy time winning this event. The other top seeds Jo-Wilifred Tsonga and Gilles Simon played in Thailand last week so could show up tired in the first few days, but Lleyton Hewitt and Tommy Haas could make things interesting for the big man.

But watch out for the “worm” Radek Stepanek. He always plays well at the end of the year for some reason.

My next post will take a look at the Beijing Open for the men which sees the return of Andy Roddick who probably needs a tourney win more than anybody right now.

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