Posts Tagged 'bouchard'

US Open 2015: First week wrap-up

The end of the first week of the last Grand Slam is drawing closer and we are no clearer to finding out as to who will emerge as the men’s champion. Djokovic and Federer have proven themselves to be genuine title contenders with flawless victories, while others like Andy Murray have had to fight a little harder. As always there has been drama and sad goodbyes but that is part of the spirit of the game. No individual is bigger than the game of tennis.

1. Mardy Fish bids farewell

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Mardy Fish has played his final professional match at the US Open.

Along with the likes of Andy Roddick and James Blake, Fish was part of a new wave of American tennis players who came to prominence in the early 2000s. He reached three Grand Slam quarter-finals, reached a high of No. 7 in the world and made four ATP World Tour 1000 finals appearances. An undisclosed illness struck the man from Minnesota (which was later revealed as an anxiety disorder) at the peak of his powers and has riddled him ever since. But he refused to bow out, soldiering on before announcing his retirement at the end of the US Open this year. He lost in the second round in five sets to another veteran, Feliciano Lopez.

2. The heat

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Jack Sock has been one of numerous casualties to the humidity.

So far the humidity seems to have affected the men more than the women. 13 retirements on the men’s side have taken place prompting questions as to whether the heat rule that is applied to the women’s side should be allowed for men as well (a 10 minute break at the end of the second set when the temperature reached a certain point). Some would argue against such a rule, saying that such a player should be in top physical shape when playing in such an important tournament. They should of conditioned themselves beforehand. Most would train their bodies to tolerate such a temperature for e.g. Novak Djokovic struggled early in his career but nowadays it doesn’t seem to bother him.

3. Federer’s sneak attack

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This has been a shot widely discussed…

This has been a shot that only been added to Federer’s arsenal and it has been instrumental in his latest success. The sneak attack as most would call it, involves returning a second serve on a half volley in the hope of throwing off an opponent. It paid dividends in his recent victories against Murray and Djokovic and we are seeing it on show again at the Open. The 34 year-old has demonstrated that it’s not too late to reinvent yourself and consistently resorted to methods to give himself an advantage. His coach Stefan Edberg has been of the initiators, encouraging the Swiss to serve and volley and be more aggressive.

4. Nadal’s shock exit

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For the first time in 10 years, Nadal will not have a major trophy to his name.

Until today, Rafael Nadal has never lost a five set match after going two sets to love up. His record stood at an imperious 151-0. A fourth round place seemed likely for Nadal mid way through the third set until his opponent, Fabio Fognini started clubbing winners (70 to 30 in his favour). The momentum quickly shifted toward the Italian and he never looked back. Early exits have become a commonality for the Spaniard, especially at Wimbledon but in the past he has always managed to find solace in the Parisian clay. The Mallorcan turns 30 next year and time may be running out for him to add to his 14 Slam victories. Is his physically demanding game finally taking a toll on him?

5. Nick Kyrgios

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Kyrgios has had a controversial 2015.

The name says it all. Even though the Australian lost in the first round of the US Open, he is still making news headlines for all the wrong reasons. Cricket legend Shane Warne penned a letter on Facebook, pleading for Kyrgios to change his attitude and not waste his talent. 12 time Grand Slam winner Roy Emerson called on the 20 year-old to change his ways or take a break from the game. Couldn’t of chosen a better mixed doubles player in Eugenie Bouchard, a Canadian who has been criticized for her lack of sportsmanship (snubbed a handshake with a Fed Cup opponent). Many observers noticed the “sexual tension” between the two in their first match together with some comparing it to an episode of the Bachelor.

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The hunter becomes the hunted

© Julian Finney/Reuters

Eugenie Bouchard has had an unforgettable 2015. Since reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, she has lost 12 of her last 16 matches and is set to drop out of the world’s top 20 as a result of her first-round loss at Wimbledon. Many tennis pundits and critics summarized the match nicely: “her opponent didn’t win the match, she was just waiting for Bouchard to lose it.” How could it go so wrong for a player who was on an incredible 6-month run at the first three Grand Slams of the year?

Firstly, I would question her decision to part ways with her longtime coach, Nick Saviano. Why would such a change be required when you are doing so well? As explained in Peter Bodo’s article “Bouchard’s stellar, saga-laden season“, something had seemingly changed in the dynamic of their player-coach relationship, causing the split. That would be the only legitimate reason in my mind, otherwise it would of have been foolish to dispose of someone who understands your game so well (they had been together since Bouchard was 12).

Could the media publicity have gotten to her? Possibly. In fact, she was recently named as the world’s most marketable athlete. Media appearances, photo shoots, sponsorship deals start flocking and all of a sudden tennis becomes the furthest thing from your mind. And at 21, I don’t blame her for getting immersed into this world. One would still hope that she would one day replace Maria Sharapova as the commercial face of women’s tennis and not go down the road that Anna Kournikova and so many others have taken.

Many of her fans will be hoping 2016 will be a year of redemption, myself included. She doesn’t have a lot of points to defend for the rest of the year so it would be a great opportunity to sit down and reflect on what needs to be done to improve. At the moment nothing seems to be going right for her, mentally she is a train wreck, not at her best physically (currently nursing an abdominal tear) and even making headlines for what she wears on court.