Can Kei Grab Grand Slam?

Kei Nishikori has defeated Andy Murray and marches into the semi-finals of the US Open.

For years the top four was dominated by Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and of course Murray. Every Grand Slam would belong to one of the top four. Nadal’s powers may now be waining but another player has stepped into the breach that being Stan Wawrinka.

Wawrinka has now claimed two Grand Slam titles and is one of the only players in my mind that can rattle undoubtedly the worlds best current player, Djokovic.

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Kei Nishikori shakes hands with Murray following his quarter-final win.

As Wimbledon showed nothing is assured as Milos Raonic made the final to play Andy Murray, the world number six took Andy Murray to two tie breaks and only got broken once in the opening set.

Nishikori though could once again show that the level of the top four is not unattainable, currently 7th in the world he has a golden chance coming into a semi-final against, world number three Wawrinka.

The Japanese number one has already overcome formidable opponents and Wawrinka’s astonishing Grand Slam wins which started in Australia will serve as inspiration for Nishikori.

Kei Nishikori’s win over Andy Murray is one of a large number of shocks recently, Querrey beating Djokovic, Lucas Pouille defeating Nadal, the list goes on, there is no such thing as a foregone conclusion now at the major championships and Opens.

Kei Nishikori has a chance to make history as the first Asian player to win a Grand Slam, Wawrinka will give Nishikori a tough test but Nishikori has beaten players like him before and he certainly looks ready to do it again.

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Novak’s Slump Looks Over

Novak Djokovic is the best player in the world right now, undoubtedly. Since his victory in Paris though the Serb has endured a slump.

His loss in the first week of Wimbledon to Sam Querrey then losing in the round of 64 in Rio de Janeiro to Juan Martin Del Potro looked to possibly turn sour what had been a wonderful year for the world number one.

His victory over France’s Jo-Wilfred Tsonga takes him into a semi-final meeting with Gael Monfils later this week.

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Djokovic is playing well.

Djokovic is by no means guaranteed to win that match as Wimbledon at the Olympic Games proved he is not the invincible player we thought we witnessed at Roland Garros as he took apart Andy Murray with ease.

This US Open has already provided us with what looks to be the end for former world number one Rafael Nadal and one of the most iconic players of a generation, one of the most exciting players of the modern era.

Djokovic will hope to not fade like the Spaniard as he pushes for his 13th Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows.

His emphatic quarter-final win shows us just how good he can be, form is temporary, class is permanent. And Djokovic has proved just how classy he can be.

Can Slammin Sam Win Wimbledon?

Yesterday saw the most dominant tennis player in the world at the moment beaten and well beaten by American Sam Querrey.

It took the challenger just four sets to overpower world number one, Djokovic. The unthinkable became reality. Court One stunned by this thrilling encounter the power of Querrey decimating the invincible, ever present aura of Novak Djokovic.

Of course this strange result leads to British number one Murray becoming the favourite to win at Wimbledon. Of course nothing is guaranteed though and Querrey will have some tough matches ahead if he wants to play in the final including a likely semi-final meeting with third seed Federer.

Querrey has already achieved something few players will ever achieve beating a player at the very top of his game. The 28th seed has some real pedigree and knows how to win on grass having formerly won Queens.

With the second week in Wimbledon secured a tough draw could well see the American crumble but you wouldn’t bet on it having him play Frenchman Nicholas Mahut in the next round.

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Sam Querrey will play Mahut in the fourth round.

Of course the loss of Wawrinka and Djokovic at this early stage could set the scene for the likes of Raonic. Cilic and Nishikori to advance to later stages of the competition than they would be used to.

Querrey will fancy his chances though of at least making the last four if his powerful serving game and forehand can stay at the level they reached to defeat Djokovic. A ;evel that you though would have to drop at some point.

Querrey’s victory comes on a year that has seen underdogs excel, Leicester City won the Premier League, Wales are in the semi-finals of the Euro’s and England rugby won a series in Australia.

A fantastic year of sport would be fittingly capped off if the American can work his way into the most prestigious of finals.

Are Nadal’s Days Numbered?

As tennis fans will know this era has seen one of the greatest rivalries of all time between the Swiss legend Roger Federer and the equally remarkable Spaniard Nadal.

Rafael Nadal powers have been waining over the last few years compounded by early exits from Wimbledon and not being able to win the 2015 French Open.

This year he has seen a resurgence and a return to the top four which 12 months ago would have been a dream for Nadal. His good clay season had not gone unnoticed until injury forced him to pull out of the French Open, even though the final look destined to be  Nadal-Djokovic showdown.

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Rafa Nadal will not play at Wimbledon due to a wrist problem.

Nadal’s injury has struggled so much with the injury sustained in Paris that that very same injury has seen him pull out of Wimbledon. The penultimate major of the year and could be crucial to the race to the play in the ATP Finals later this year following the conclusion of the US Open.

Nadal’s struggle with form does look to be in the past, but every time a player suffers an injury they are never quite the same player they were when they come back. Should the world number four’s most recent injury see a dip in his form is Nadal prepared to not be part of that elite group that rule the roost of men’s tennis and have done for years?

The rivalry that Nadal has between himself and Federer and also some of the epic battles he has endured against Djokovic and Murray will always be etched in our memories but it looks as though 2016 could the year we finally lose one of the greatest of all time.

British Tennis: Thriving not just Surviving

Great British tennis is in possibly the best position it has been since the days of Fred Perry. The Davis Cup win this year over Belgium was an achievement that has drawn attention to state of the tennis.

Other than of course the hero and messiah of British tennis, Andy Murray there are three other men that are fighting fit for the country at singles level.

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Andy Murray kisses the Wimbledon trophy after beating Novak Djokovic

Here are the three in numbers:

Kyle Edmund
Age: 20
Best Grand Slam Finish: French Open 2nd Round (2015)
World Ranking: 102

James Ward
Age: 28
Best Grand Slam Finish: Wimbledon 3rd Round (2015)
World Ranking: 155

Dan Evans
Age: 25
Best Grand Slam Finish: US Open 3rd Round (2013)
World Ranking: 185

KYLE EDMUND
Kyle Edmund and James Ward both competed in the Davis Cup final and Dan Evans competed in the semi-final and was still awarded a medal after the resounding 3-1 win.

Kyle Edmund’s young career has started brightly after having been dubbed the ‘golden boy’ of Great Britain following his junior Grand Slam wins in the USA and France a few years ago.

His most recent title that is before winning the Davis Cup was the Copa Fila in November. Edmund’s performance in that tournament as he beat Berlocq gained him the final place in the Davis Cup team over Daniel Evans.

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Kyle Edmund

The British number three has been given a place in the upcoming Australian Open which starts next month following the withdrawal of Gasquet.

His Davis Cup performance in itself was a superb achievement, the fact he took two sets off Belgian number one Goffin before he ran out of steam was a wonderfully powerful display.

The Australian Open is a big chance for the young British star to prove himself on the big stage. The Grand Slam tournaments are a massive step up even from a Davis Cup final.

JAMES WARD
The 28 year old British number four had a good 2015 with two big wins over marathon match winner John Isner. This included a first round Davis Cup win.

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James Ward

With James Ward also managing to qualify for all but one of the Grand Slams in 2015 says a great deal about the player he is. The French Open which he missed out on he qualified for in 2014 for the first time.

James Ward had a wonderful Wimbledon campaign and he opened the tournament well advancing to the third round for the first time in his career.

Vasek Pospisil was his opponent and the Canadian number two was made to work for his victory in a five set epic, Pospisil advanced all the way to the quarter-final.

DAN EVANS
The British number five although not a feature of the Davis Cup final team was a vital part of the previous rounds with a huge win in the semi-final.

Evans is a powerful player and offers a lot with his right handed forehand being a really potent weapon. His 2013 appearance in the 3rd round of a Grand Slam looked promising. Now though it looks as though that may have been false hope but the 25 year old is still progressing.

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Dan Evans

His win in Knoxville was not quite enough to usurp either Edmund or Ward to play in the final but he still produced a quite sublime tournament in the United States which will aid his development.

With Wimbledon just over six months away it looks like British tennis is in a very good place, especially on the men’s side.

British Men’s Rankings (Top 5)

  1. Andy Murray
  2. Aljaž Bedene
  3. Kyle Edmund
  4. James Ward
  5. Dan Evans

Why Wawrinka Can Win Wimbledon

We have broken the Wimbledon men’s singles into the final 8, in that final 8 are the top 4 players with Djokovic, Murray, Federer and Wawrinka all playing tomorrow.

Wawrinka may be 4th in the world but with a French Open victory under his belt and that ability to rattle the best tennis player over the last 3 years which is undoubtedly the Serb, Novak Djokovic he has a real chance of winning his 1st Wimbledon title. Yes, grass is very different to the hard courts and clay that Wawrinka has won major titles on before but the grass doesn’t seem to be bothering the Swiss player so far this year. Djokovic and Murray both have been put under huge amounts of pressure.

Novak Djokovic after winning Wimbledon last year.

Novak Djokovic after winning Wimbledon last year.

Murray’s game against Italian Seppi was looking a very different game before the medical break taken by Murray after he lost 6 games in a row following Seppi’s earlier time-out. Djokovic was rattled by Kevin Anderson in his 4th round tie and looks like he could face some stiff competition if he does come up against Wawrinka in the semi-final.

The only other top player that hasn’t been rattled is his countryman and the greatest tennis player of his generation Roger Federer whose grace and air of authority make him a pleasure to watch every time he takes to the courts especially at Wimbledon a place that he loves and the crowds paying him back with a huge amount of support. John McEnroe said that wherever Federer goes it must be “like he’s in front of a home crowd.” Not a surprise when you see the mild mannered, polite gentleman talk to the media.

Federer practising during the 2012 Olympics.

Federer practising during the 2012 Olympics.

Wawrinka will fancy his chances and back himself to beat Djokovic again if he gets the chance, who’s to say they will both make the semi-finals. Nothing is guaranteed that is something we’ve certainly seen so far this year with the women’s draw as Jelena Jankovic knocked out holder Kvitova and Nadal being beaten in the second round.

Wawrinka is destined for greatness his win in Melbourne last year was the start of a surge from the Swiss player who has forced himself into the top 4 and is sure to be a contender at the US Open later this year and of course the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London in November. His victory in Paris showed his ability to beat players that would have been well fancied pre-match which saw him make history at Roland Garros. It wouldn’t be wise to bet against him now, in the form of his life and closing in on Federer as the Swiss number 1.

Wawrinka after his French Open win.

Wawrinka after his French Open win.

Wawrinka’s route to the final isn’t an easy having to face Gasquet and then either Djokovic or Cilic depending in that other quarter-final. However I am certain Wawrinka would rather face Djokovic than Federer or Murray who are in the other side of the draw. Wawrinka knows how to manipulate the Serb and really make him feel uncomfortable on court.

Wawrinka has a massive opportunity and this week could define his career over the next decade and which players dominate the majors over the coming years. It is a vital week not just for Wawrinka but the sport in general.