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.

Destiny Beckons for Murray

This year’s Wimbledon has been one of full of shocks especially in the men’s draw with Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic falling in the first week.

Yesterday in the semi-final we saw, the greatest player of his generation Federer also head for the exit doors following a brutal encounter with Raonic who played an absolutely blinding game.

Milos Raonic becomes the first Canadian to play in a Grand Slam final when he takes on the British number one Andy Murray on Centre Court.

Murray has had a very routine tournament so far following a reunion with tennis idol Ivan Lendl prior to his sixth title at Queens. Murray dispatched with former finalist Berdych in straight sets.

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Murray and Berdych share a handshake following Murray’s victory.

The in-form Scot looks destined to win his second title at Wimbledon due to all the biggest challengers Djokovic, Wawrinka, Federer, Nishikori, Cilic all gone without a trace.

Murray is the heavy favourite for tomorrow’s match up but he will be wary of the Canadian and his powerful service game that gave Federer some real problems.

Murray knows how big the stage is for him tomorrow and he also knows for any other match at any other tournament this tie would be routine. He also knows this is a Wimbledon final, he is the overwhelming favourite and he has to perform. That pressure does not make the task easier.

The ball looks to be in Murray’s court, if he can hit the winner remains to be seen.

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.

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.

Can Murray Win Wimbledon?

The time is upon us to watch Wimbledon, the biggest tennis event of the year in this country.

World number one Djokovic goes into this tournament as the clear favourite having stormed his way to a championship in Paris and looking almost unstoppable. The Serbian is clearly playing some very impressive tennis.

Andy Murray recently won his sixth title at Queens and having been reunited with former coach Ivan Lendl it looks as though the Scottish player may be somewhere close to his best which he failed to look under Mauresmo.

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Andy Murray has won Wimbledon once before.

With Rafael Nadal out both Murray and Djokovic look like they could be facing off against each other again if the matches go to plan. Having said that Roger Federer is always a threat on grass.

The strides both Nishikori and Wawrinka have made over the last two to three years also make them strong contenders. Also Berdych is not to be written off, he has reached the final before. The Frenchman Tsonga has endured a tough year or two but he seems to always step up his game when Wimbledon roles around.

The question most British tennis fans will be asking is can Murray really win Wimbledon? An answer that cannot really be given until he plays. At Queens he looked powerful and fast. His shot speed was a lot higher than he had been hitting for a while and Lendl seems to have had an immediate effect.

His confidence will be high but he will be wary of the Serb having been beaten by Djokovic in Paris. Murray is undoubtedly among the frontrunners but for me Novak Djokovic is absolutely unstoppable, it seems as though only one player can rattle the Serb and that’s Wawrinka.

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Wimbledon is an iconic championship.

One thing is for sure this championship looks to be hotly contested as we hurtle towards the ATP Finals later this year.

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.

Unstoppable Djokovic Claims French Crown

The Serbian champions has finally lifted the title that’s eluded him for so long, heartbreak against Wawrinka last year seemed to lift him this year. He has been unplayable for large parts of the year and Murray was shown this yesterday.

The British number one was sensational in the first set and pinned the world number one back with a powerful forehand defensive game. The second set was the complete reverse as Djokovic settled into his natural game.

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Djokovic after winning the French Open for the first time in his career.

The Serb has a frighteningly quick stroke speed, something which Murray found hard to contain on the clay. A sublime performance at the net whilst also driving the Brit further and further behind the baseline let Djokovic own the court.

Murray is among the quickest players in the ATP tour but no amount of pace over the court was going to stop Djokovic powering to claim his first Roland Garros title.

For the neutral it was a wonderful performance from Djokovic and although Murray won the first set there was no denying that the Serb deserved the victory.

As we head towards the grass season it poses the question, who if anyone will stop Djokovic? Wimbledon looks to be a fascinating major to end the season on and there is one clear favourite of course.

If Djokovic keeps this level of his game up there will be no stopping him when the tennis world descends on London this summer.

The Dominance of Novak Djokovic

Djokovic is an outstanding specimen of man, his dominance over the past three to four years is unbelievable conceding just a few years ago he was considered an outsider behind Federer, Murray and Nadal.

The Serb of course may never match the Swiss number one Federer in number of titles, but I cannot remember a time when Federer had that air of invincibility about him, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray all had chances to knock him off the pedestal he was placed on by media and fans alike.

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Novak Djokovic after winning Wimbledon last year.

Djokovic seems to have very few real opponents that can match him for speed and power all over the court, Nadal in his prime may have but the Spaniard’s powers are waining even if his recent form can be regarded as a resurgence.

Since 2011, Djokovic has won 10 out of 20 Grand Slam titles available, the only slam he has failed to win in that time is the French Open which he lost to Wawrinka last year, the new kid on the block in terms of the top four.

Wawrinka seems to be about the only player who can rattle the world number one, his Achilles heal as it were.

As we enter the Spring and the run-up to Roland Garros that Indian Wells victory could be the boost he needs to land the elusive French Open, even if Rafa Nadal hits top form very few would bet against Djokovic to win.

Djokovic has already won three titles this year including the Australian Open (the others being Doha and Indian Wells) and he has critics purring, if he can keep this run of form going  and not suffer any injuries there is no doubt the Serb could be on his way to winning all four Grand Slams in the same year.

A  remarkable achievement for any tennis player especially regarding the fact that Djokovic until 2011 had only won one major in 2008 about, this change in fortune coincided nicely with his diet change.

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Djokovic has greatly improved over the last five years.

This diet change has been pointed to as a turning point in his career, his low carbohydrate diet has given Djokovic that extra inch of speed and extra bit of power in his shots.

Djokovic’s unrivalled dominance this year looks set to continue that is until he meets his match but when that will be, it is hard to tell.

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