Wawrinka marks the return of the one-handed backhand

Watching Stanislas Wawrinka’s stunning performance at this year’s Australian Open has been one of the highlights of 2014 so far. If his victory in the final was arguably spoilt by the injury of Rafael Nadal, nobody could deny his brilliant win against four-time victor Novak Djokovic.

He has been a player in great form. Having seen Wawrinka play Nadal at the O2 finals in London at the end of last season, it was clear that he was a player brimming with self confidence. Nadal managed to beat him 7-6 7-6 on the day, but the Swiss clearly had the shots to really trouble the world number one. Just a couple of months on and Wawrinka has turned those missed chances into defining moments.

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The moment Andy Murray won Wimbledon

It’s been a vintage year at SW19. Favourites have fallen, the unknown talents have made their mark and now the home favourite Andy Murray has spectacularly won the tournament. Great Britain is ready to celebrate, after 77 years, they finally have a male tennis champion to lead the way.

The three sets were played almost impeccably by the world number one Novak Djokovic and Murray, but the final games of the match showed the sheer grit and determination that is needed to win the Championships.

It was a tense third set. The Serb had broken Murray’s serve and looked to take the match into a fourth set at 4-2. Yet, the crowd rose to their feet as the Scot was able to break back and stay in this gripping final set.

Murray won his service game with a stunning final point. Djokovic looked to hit a winning slice before the Scot burst forward from the back of the court to strike the ball past the 2011 Wimbledon champion.

Then at 4-4, came a superhuman game from Murray. His defence was astonishing. At the very limits of his defence, he was able to sprint towards the net and then keep his composure to pass Djokovic for another winner. The open-mouthed expressions of Hollywood heartthrobs Bradley Cooper and Gerard Butler spoke a thousand words.

 

 

The final points of the match, were just as thrilling. The eternal fighter Djokovic was able to play his best tennis to save three championship points. Both men were pushing each other to the edge, from one side of the court to the other. However, it was Murray, the best player on the day, who triumphed in this three-set thriller.

It has been a superb comeback from Andy Murray after losing in last year’s final to Roger Federer. This win was truly deserved. Now, tennis fans will relish the thought of a rematch at the US Open 2013. Has Murray taken the lead in this epic rivalry with Djokovic? We’ll find out soon enough.

Rafael Nadal makes history at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal has just made Grand Slam history by winning his eighth French open title against David Ferrer. It was a disappointing final as Ferrer was completely outclassed (in three sets) by the imperious Nadal. The Spanish number two had little to cheer about amongst the drizzle on Philippe Chatrier. The final result was 6-3 6-2 6-3.

The first set was dominated by errors from both Spaniards, with Ferrer missing his opportunities to hurt the Spaniard. Meanwhile, Nadal’s backhand was troubling him, missing the line on several occasions. However, the twelve-time Grand Slam victor showed off his clay court prowess towards the end and clinched the first set.

The second set followed suit but as Nadal’s mighty forehand began to dominate play, Ferrer just couldn’t match the powerful display of his Spanish compatriot.

After a slight delay in the third set, Ferrer attempted to stage a fightback and looked comfortable at 3-3. Ferrer had the chance to break Nadal and lead the set 4-3 but failed to close the game. Unfortunately for the older Spaniard,this followed the narrative of this final; a final of missed chances.

When tennis pundits look back on this year’s tournament, they will remember the brutal semi-final matchup between Nadal and Novak Djokovic as the defining moment. It was a renewal of what is fast becoming another classic rivalry in men’s tennis. Previously, it had been Roger Federer versus Nadal. Now, the current rivalry between the Serb and Nadal draws the attention of tennis fans from across the world.

See one of the best points in the French Open semi-final below:

It was an another epic encounter between these two giants of the game that will not be forgotten. Djokovic was incredibly close to beating the Spaniard if not for some unlucky breaks throughout the match.

However, the final at Roland Garros will be remembered as securing Nadal’s place in the tennis hall of fame. Tennis fans have seen history made. At 27, and eight Roland Garros titles, the fear for his opponents is that he should have more titles in Paris to come.

It was apt that Usain Bolt was there to meet Nadal in victory. Two sporting legends of today, with pace, power and tenacity in battle. Let’s hope that the Spaniard can recover in time to make a great challenge at Wimbledon in a couple of weeks time.

The Master of Monaco

This afternoon, tennis fans at the Monte Carlo Masters will be thrilled to see eight-time champion Rafa Nadal go for a ninth title at his stomping ground. He looks set to rule in Monaco again. Of course, it is only the world number one Novak Djokovic who stands in his way.

The scene in Monaco is set. The heavenly backdrop of the Mediterranean sea is apt as the two tennis idols get ready to show their divine powers on the tennis court.  Continue reading

A little prediction… part 2

Last year, I laid my cards on the line and predicted who I thought would be victorious in the 2012 tennis Grand Slams (click here to read the post). It turns out that most of those predictions ran true, and, had I placed a bet at the time of writing I probably would have received a substantial amount in return.

Now, with just over two days before the 2013 Australian Open begins I’ve decided to hedge my bets once again. To start with, I’m going to predict who will win in Melbourne and then attempt to choose the other Grand Slam winners in future posts. Continue reading

Wimbledon 2012: update

For those who read my latest post and then followed the first day of action at Wimbledon, you will have noticed that two of the names mentioned previously are already out of the competition.

In my defence, it’s quite a surprise that both Tomas Berdych and John Isner have been beaten by their first round opponents!

So, I’m going to suggest two more potential threats to the top four’s chances and keep my fingers crossed that day two will not upset any more of the Play with Flair predictions. Continue reading

Wimbledon 2012: Who can stop the top four?

The start of men’s draw at Wimbledon 2012 has been met with great anticipation. The developing rivalry between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal has dominated discussion as well as the inevitable debate about Roger Federer’s chance of winning 7 titles at SW19. On top of this, Wimbledon will provide the British press with the chance to scrutinise every aspect of Andy Murray’s game before asking if it is finally his time to win.

So, the men in the top four are grabbing all of the headlines and will continue to do so, but who else can stand in their way? Continue reading

French Open reaches fever pitch

Since my last post, the French Open 2012 has already provided us with unbelievable matches and plenty of splendid displays from the tennis elite.

In the women’s draw, the biggest shock was the exit of Serena Williams in the first round. Since entering her first Grand Slam event in 1998, she had never lost at this stage in a major tournament. Virginie Razzano, the French number four, completed this astonishing victory after eight match points in an incredible 25-minute final game.

After my comments on Monday, saying that Maria Sharapova’s biggest obstacle in winning the career slam is Serena Williams; it should follow that Sharapova is now the outright favourite. If her first round demolition of Alexandra Cadantu, which ended in a 6-0 6-0 scoreline, is replicated on Friday then this must be the case.

Virginie Razzano knocks Serena Williams out in the first round at the French Open.
Source: dailytelegraph.au

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Can Maria Sharapova win at Roland Garros?

Maria Sharapova winning Wimbledon in 2004 
Source:tennisgranstand.com

 As one of the favourites to win the French Open title this year, Maria Sharapova has seriously put herself in contention to win the only Grand Slam that has eluded her. After a gutsy victory in Rome, against the reigning French Open champion Li Na, Sharapova yet again … Continue reading