Is Muguruza Destined for Greatness?

The women’s game is drawing more and more viewers every year and as it grows the former greats are declining and retiring.

Venus Williams is no longer the player she used to be, the same is true of Caroline Wozniacki. Sharapova has left the sport following questionable drug test results. Serena Williams is also very close to ending her illustrious career.

Her waining power was illustrated in the French capital as Spanish number one Garbine Muguruza defeated one of the greatest female athletes of all time and a woman that has been at the top of her game for years. She forged a famous rivalry with her sister which has become one of the most hotly contested rivalries ever in tennis.

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Muguruza the moment she won the French Open.

Muguruza is coming of age. She came through her first round match of Wimbledon after suffering a scare from the young Italian, Camila Giorgi.

Wimbledon is a huge chance for Muguruza to prove that she is the real deal and at 22 she truly could be part of another wave of greats in women’s tennis. The Spanish player only turned professional in 2012 she has made remarkable progress since then.

Muguruza’s win at Roland Garros could act as a springboard for her to propel herself into pole position to lead in a new age of women’s greats.

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Tottenham Hotspur Preview

Manager: Mauricio Pocchetino
Stadium: White Hart Lane
Captain: Hugo Lloris
Top Scorer: Harry Kane (31)

Tottenham a team that have really challenged the top 4 in recent seasons and now a regular team in European competitions last year however was a difficult one for the north London club.

Although Tottenham threaten the top 4 clubs in league positioning wins are rare they suffered heavy defeats to Manchester City as they were humiliated 4-1 and Chelsea who blew them away 3-0. Liverpool also put them to the sword as that match ended 4-1. These big losses before Christmas did not look good for Spurs. They were having patchy runs of form here and there but nothing to suggest they were good enough. None of their stars were really stepping up bar Kane and Eriksen at regular and long intervals. Tottenham found themsleves in 10th in mid December before they went on a run of 3 wins over the festive period including a win over Swansea away from home which many teams found tough with Swansea really improving every season. Spurs rose 3 places to 7th before they faced Manchester United a game that looked rather bleak if you looked at Spurs track record against England’s most successful club, they could only manage a 0-0 draw.

Tottenham players celebrate victory over Crystal Palace.

Tottenham players celebrate victory over Crystal Palace.

The 1st day of 2015 was the day that brought Tottenham’s best result and a match that made a hero out of England striker Harry Kane. Chelsea were beaten 5-3 in a phenomenal match, it was unheard of to put 5 past Courtois. Kane was sensational and suddenly a fanfare arose from the British press and the cries to get the striker playing for England rose into a crescendo. This second half of the season would prove to be much more fruitful than their slow start. A 2-1 win over Arsenal at White Hart Lane on 7th February was sensational and the Spurs stars were beginning to perform and bring some life and electricity to White Hart Lane. A trip to Manchester United was tough viewing as they were downed 3-0 at Old Trafford. This left the club reeling. Their run-in was fairly kind and a 4-3 win over Leicester showed how dangerous the club can be on the attack. They were building something special. This assault on the upper reaches of the table that started on New Years Day. They ended the season with a 1-0 victory against Everton a result that showed they are able to play some attractive football and will be looking to build on that sort of form in the coming seasons.

Tottenham very much assured as one of England’s could be clubs, they are missing 1 or 2 pieces of that puzzle a strand of that DNA that makes the Chelseas and Manchester Citys stand out. They found parts they didn’t know they had last season such as a world class striker and keeper in Kane and Lloris both of whim have been the interest of Manchester United although it seems their interest in Lloris has cooled now they have 5 goalkeepers in their 1st team. There are a few positions they lack in and at times their defence was exposed last season even in their 5-3 victory over eventual champions Chelsea is not a healthy record. Their goal difference was only a +5 at the end of the season compare that to 7th placed Southampton who finished with +21 but 2 places lower in the league table. Tottenham’s average season will need to be built on if they wish to play Champions League football anytime soon.

Tottenham’s key player was undoubtedly Harry Kane. The young finisher was outstanding following Christmas. He scored 31 goals in all competitions this season that is an alarming amount of goals. That is just 1 less goal that Agüero managed last season. Kane’s form earned him and England call-up. He scored on his debut and sent the country into delirium. The English striker saved Tottenham on many occasions and after becoming a cult icon after single handedly dismantling Chelsea he also scored the winner in the derby win over Arsenal. His finishing ability see him stand out as one of the league’s best forwards. He is going to be key to both his club and country’s fortunes for years to come.

Harry Kane got rewarded for club form by an England call-up.

Harry Kane got rewarded for club form by an England call-up.

Tottenham have been rather busy offloading players over the summer but have brought in a few fresh faces so they can continue to push for a top 4 place. They have brought in 3 new players the most notable being the acquisition of centre back Toby Alderweireld from the Spanish capital. He is a wonderful defender and could be a huge difference for a defence that at times leaked goals possibly the reason they have also brought in Wimmer. Kieran Trippier is another very canny signing a player that can be of service as back-up or in irritation system with Kyle Walker and Danny Rose. Tripper is quick and provides a counter attacker that can pose problems for slow midfielders if he is given room on the outside.

Alternierend in action for Ajax.

Alternierend in action for Ajax.

A total of 7 first team departures. Brad Friedel finally retires from football at the age of 44, a wonderful servant to the game and the Premier League the former USA goalkeeper will be missed. Kaboul also leaves having had a good career in north London a player that was a real asset to the Spurs team and understood what the club meant to the fans. Lewis Holtby leaves the club, the promising midfielder showed some real potential last season but Tottenham have so much depth in midfield Holtby was always going to struggle. Paulinho has also had enough of north London, he has a great couple of seasons. Some high profile departures could harm Tottenham although their recruitment seems very smart.

IN: Toby Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid, £11.5 million)
Kieran Trippier (Burnley, £3.5 million)
Kevin Wimmer (FC Köln, £4.3 million)

OUT: Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande, £9.9 million)
Brad Friedel (Retired)
Lewis Holtby (Hamburg, £4.6 million)
Younés Kaboul (Sunderland, £3 million)
Étienne Capoue (Watford, £6.3 million)
Benjamin Stambouli (Paris Saint-Germain, £6 million)
Vlad Chiriches (Napoli, £4.5 million)

Tottenham should have an interesting season and should their stars be in a good vein of form I see no reason they can retain 5th.

My Tottenham Hotspur XI (4-2-3-1): 1 H.Lloris; 2 K.Walker 4 T.Alderweireld 15 E.Dier 3 D.Rose; 19 M.Dembélé 8 R.Mason; 22 N.Chadli 23 C.Eriksen 17 A.Townsend; 10 H.Kane

Bench: 13 M.Vorm 16 K.Trippier 5 J.Vertonghen 27 K.Wimmer 6 N.Bentaleb 11 É.Lamela 9 R.Soldado

Last Season: 5th
Prediction: 6th

What’s Wrong With Rafa?

On Sunday the French Open came to an epic conclusion as Swiss player Stanislas Wawrinka defeated the undisputed form player this season Serb Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros. Paris had previously been a stronghold for the supposed ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal.

Wawrinka after his French Open win.

Wawrinka after his French Open win.

The Spaniard has recently suffered a dip in form which has seen the 9 times French Open champion slip to 10th in the world rankings. This year Nadal suffered shock quarter-final defeats in both Paris and Rome following his loss to Andy Murray in Madrid. This is the lowest ranking Nadal has slumped to since 2005 although Nadal has failed to progress well in grass in recent years suffering shock defeats at Wimbledon over the past couple of seasons.

Nadal’s only win this year came in Argentina as he beat Juan Monaco in the final in Buenos Aires a tournament that failed to feature any other top level player. The Spanish former number 1 (now behind David Ferrer) has failed to find the form that he was blessed with from 2008 to 2010 in which time he won the French Open twice, Wimbledon twice, the US Open once, the Australia Open once, the ATP Tour World Finals once and bagged himself a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, with Nadal having only won at one Grand Slam event since that period it seems his grasp on the top four may be slipping.

Rafa Nadal in action against Novak Djokovic in the French Open.

Rafa Nadal in action against Novak Djokovic in the French Open.

Wawrinka may take Nadal’s place in the top 4 which over a number of years has been a fairly forgone conclusion with Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal dominating men’s tennis. But this recent surge from Wawrinka who is at the moment occupying 4th may threaten the Spaniard’s top 4 status which has been a key feature if the ATP tour since his first Grand Slam win in 2005 at Roland Garros.

Wawrinka seems to have broken into that exclusive party which held the top 4 which have for years been untouchable and been winning everything worth winning from the Grand Slams to the Olympic Games the top 4 have had their names carved into history as they dispatched of all opponents. The 2014 Australian Open changed all that as Wawrinka stormed to victory and his recent win in Paris will have only backed up the idea that Wawrinka is developing into a player of that top 4 calibre and with Wimbledon on the horizon this year could be the year we see both the demise of Spain’s great Nadal and the Swiss rising of Wawrinka.

Nadal leaves the court after his quarter-final loss to Djokovic in Paris.

Nadal leaves the court after his quarter-final loss to Djokovic in Paris.

With this in mind Wimbledon could well show us which players will dominate the courts around the globe for the foreseeable future and if we will ever again see Nadal lift a trophy at a major championship.

Current Men’s Rankings:
1st Novak Djokovic, Serbia
2nd Roger Federer, Switzerland
3rd Andy Murray, Great Britain
4th Stanislas Wawrinka, Switzerland
5th Kei Nishikori, Japan
6th Tomas Berdych, Czech Republic
7th David Ferrer, Spain
8th Miles Raonic, Canada
9th Marin Cilic, Croatia
10th Rafael Nadal, Spain