Jul 01, 2022

2022 Wimbledon ATP & WTA Day 5 (Round III)

ATP Singles
Djokovic vs Kecmanovic :

Djokovic is starting to cruise and his futures should be flying off the shelf at this point. There are a lot of new names playing great tennis, but with Nadal looking like he’ll have to get through the draw the hard way Djokovic might be a lot fresher than his opposition in the later rounds and that has paid dividends in the past. Kokkinakis was a bit too wild on the backhand side and Djokovic played a bit better than he did the round before. This is another perfect match for Djokovic. He’s played a solid baseliner, and a dangerous server, now he’s playing a player who’ll force Novak to create his own offense. Kecmanovic dragged Tabilo out and when the serves come back consistently and with depth Tabilo has a pretty hard time beating the better players on tour; I guess anyone does.

This could be a long match since Kecmanovic is having the best season of his career. He’s serving fairly well, and he doesn’t give up much ground from the baseline. Novak has cruised thus far but I think we’ll see him playing a much more strategic game here. Slice backhands are going to make Kecmanovic supply his own power and his backhand can decelerate on this swing sometimes which makes him lose depth. Despite being a tricky contest, it’s very likely that Djokovic will be a single break better than Kecmanovic in every set here. It takes a lapse or a mercurial offense to really get a set off Novak, and Kecmanovic has a very conservative approach to his tennis. He’s unlikely to grind Djokovic down on grass, and Novak will be netting a lot more cheap points on his serve. Djokovic in 3.

RijthGOATen vs Basilashvili :

Similar scorelines in the second round for these guys, but much different opponents. Nikoloz was just a tiny bit better in the big moments than Halys, and despite his struggles on grass he’s found a good rhythm. His power is always a great equalizer and he looked like he was pressuring Halys into some uncharacteristic offense. I just want to point out how unreal TimVan Rijthoven’s run has been. He hasn’t lost yet on grass, and just upended one of the most dangerous servers on tour. Opelka is the kind of match where a lower tier player really will have a bad game just due to scorebaord pressure, so Rijthoven being so clutch in this one is a sign that his level is real. It’s really unfortunate for everyone that there are no ranking points in this event but he is probably good enough at tennis to wind up on tour (permanently) by the end of the year anyway. Opelka was a pretty good and bad sport in this one, alternating between complaining to the umpire and pointing out how great TVR was playing.

I think the run continues for a handful of reasons. One, TVR has just spent a few hours returning a much tougher serve than Basil possesses. Two, the guy’s backhand slice gets really low in the court and Basilashvili is prone to strings of errors. Three, Basil almost lost both of his matches already and TVR is a cut above them in terms of quality and in terms of opponents beaten on grass this season. Four, and this is not really a reason, I want to see this guy play Djokovic. Medvedev isn’t some esablished champ on grass but he’s one of the best players on tour and Rijthoven beat him almost easily. It’s very similar to Karatsev’s run and when a guy is at his peak, you want to see him play the best the tour has to offer. On grass, that’s Novak. TVR in 3-4.

Sinner vs Isner :

Very similar construction to the names here, but not really to the games. Sinner coasted against Ymer, because honestly Mikael doesn’t have the offense to beat the top players. He’s really solid and moves the ball well, but Sinner knows that he’s able to dig in and minimize errors and be breakeven at worst against Ymer’s style of tennis. This lets a player probe on offense and since Ymer has a great deal of speed, he tends to be a bit more passive about court positioning. This is a coaching issue, and something that’s common for fast athletes. When you’re fast, it makes up for so much tactically. If you spend some time as a slow person, whether through injury or through weighted training, you start to really maximize offensive opportunities and go a bit for a bit more. It’ll come, and Ymer has made huge leaps and bounds in the past seasons so him being injury free and getting all this experience at the top level is worth a lot.

Isner dealt with the British crowd admirably in a four set win against Murray, and really the writing was on the wall in this one. Murray was just unable to return serve. Isner got in a good rhythm, and quick service holds give him the lung capacity to play offensively in Murray’s service games. Murray let out a huge roar and so did the crowd anytime he got momentum (the third set win included leaping up and down and flailing of the arms) but they couldn’t really stop Isner. Isner and Sinner is one I expected the odds to be a bit closer for, but Isner was pretty high against Murray too. Sinner’s height and age give him a much better chance to put returns in play than Isner, but I don’t know if it matters. Isner looked at times unplayable. It sounds monotonous to call for tiebreakers in an Isner match, but that’s what probably happens here. Perhaps playing 9 long sets already is too much for Isner and he’ll be fatigued, but his serve is tremendous because he’s tall not because he’s athletic so fatigue doesn’t impact his delivery as much. I always pick the guy with the better baseline game when two servers play, and I think it’ll be tough for Isner to deal with pace Sinner hits with. Murray is a guy using shape and hitting to targets that make it tough to create, but Sinner is going to rush Isner into errors. I used to think that he was just bad at tennis, but watching from ground level illustrates how difficult it is for tall players to get their full swing production in when the ball is really flying. I like Sinner here, but I doubt it’ll be easy, and these are the same odds presented for Boulter Pliskova which rings alarm bells. Sinner in 4-5.

Otte vs Alcaraz :

-300 here for Alcaraz seems fair. He’s still new to the surface, but that newness is not really impacting his results. His match against Griekspoor seemed inevitable from the start, despite Griekspoor breaking early in the second. Alcaraz just covers the court too well, so if he’s returning serve in the court it’s really tough to hit through him. His own serve is starting to look like a real problem for returners as well (winning 81% of his first serves), and I think he has a pretty solid chance to come through this section of the draw. If Otte were playing Griekspoor,I would expect it to be a fairly even prospect, so I’m not sure that his particularly tremendous brand of offense gives him a huge boost here.

Oscar did get the benefit of an immediate withdrawal from Christian Harrison, so he’ll be fresh. So far this grass swing, he’s only lost to top players (Medvedev and Berretini), so this is a great indicator of Alcaraz’s ceiling at this event. I think he’s there, and ready to challenge the top players in the draw. Otte is a very good serve and volley player, but Alcaraz’s speed and power will likely let him outlast the talented German. In rallies, I think Alcaraz will dominate as soon as he can get a free swing at a forehand, so the court is going to be getting progressively smaller for Otte. Griekspoor did hold at a pretty decent clip, so Otte should win at least a set, but Alcaraz’s level overall should be better. A lot of shoulds here, and a very interesting match for Alcaraz’s career. Alcaraz in 4-5.

Humbert vs Goffin :

At the start of the match, Ugo Humbert was having a disappointing season. A lot of early round exits, and a general Shapovalov level of error production in neutral rallies have held him back, but Ruud is a guy who just doesnt blow his opponnets off the court. His grasscourt prowess is pretty non-existent, and him playing at a single pace played Humbert into form. By the end of this, he was looking like a player who could beat an in-form Goffin. Will he though? Goffin is pretty impossible to predict this season, but he’s playing good ball through the first two rounds. The consistency and defense he brings are the exact things that can beat Humbert if he plays poorly, but his lack of power will allow Humbert to play even in this match. If you look at Humbert, you can see why he struggles with big hitters, he’s a really skinny dude and a skill player. It looks like whatever style a junior arrives with or employs, the French tennis federation will support it and turn it into a winner. Mannarino, Gasquet, Tsonga, Benneteau, Chardy, Humbert, Pouille, Monfils, Gaston; everyone wins and no two players play alike.

BUT LET’S TALK ABOUT BELGIAN TENNIS. CAN WE TALK ABOUT BELGIAN TENNIS? Despite their highly illegal use of elfs in their player pool (looking at you Mertens/Goffin), Belgian tennis has a really solid impact on the tour. Or something like that. Maybe I just wanted to post my elf conspiracy one more time. If anywhere was gonna have elfs though, it’d be Belgium. Or Gondor.

Goffin has been cruising through this draw. Straight sets against an in-form Albot, and straight sets against the surprise grass threat that Baez presented. Humbert ended his match at a good level, but it wasn’t good enough to make him a clear favorite against Goffin. Goffin hitting through Baez is pretty great practice to deal with Humbert, since Baez hits almost every backhand crosscourt and that’s Humbert’s preferred forehand pattern. I don’t expect fatigue to be an issue for either player, and this will likely feature a ton of great and close service games since neither one has a lights out serve. Very little honestly to separate these two, and this is a brand new matchup in terms of conditions and their current form. Tough stuff across the board in this round, but this one is very tricky.

(At this point blurry sat for half an hour trying to see the future).

I really don’t know who’ll win this one despite a great deal of eye squinting, a plethora of “hmmm”s, and several minutes of thoughtful monk beard stroking. Humbert won their previous meeting in Antwerp but 2019 was a very different year for Humbert. He’ll have to really bring a serious level of offense to hit past Goffin and his backhand isn’t as stable as David’s. I think Goffin presents a much tougher challenge than Ruud and he’ll squeak out a close one. Goffin in 5.

Tiafoe vs Bublik :

WE WANT THE FUNK. GOTTA HAVE THAT FUNK. This match would sell out as an exhibition easily. I cannot think of two more unique styles on tour and we’re in for a cracker as both are playing their best. Tiafoe saw off a huge hitter in Marterer and the Hurlingham warmup looks to have gotten him in a really good serving rhythm. He was also able to break twice in each of the first two sets (he won 2,2,6) so his returning is there. That’ll be the key for both players, but against Bublik you really need to be moving well and reflecting pace well. Bublik raced past Lajovic with relative comfort despite a 7-6, 6-2, 7-5 scoreline. Lajovic capitalized mostly on Bublik’s impatience, but the rush was warranted because Bublik’s pressure ended up causing Lajovic to make a number of errors.

This match will come down to who is more funky. Bublik is Kazakhstan’s answer to the Beatles, and Tiafoe is America’s answer to the Beatles. Either way you look at it, game over, Beatles. In all seriousness, both of these guys are fairly inconsistent in general but are peaking at the same time. Bublik’s been really focusing on his baseline game in this run, and his T serve is the best on tour besides Kyrgios. Tiafoe’s speed will help a lot in getting a racquet on his serve, and Tiafoe’s serve/forehand combo are likely to expose Bublik’s movement which is good but prevents him from recovering to the center fast enough to change his opponent’s shot. If Tiafoe is missing forehands, Bublik can win. If he’s landing them, I think his speed will let him win enough rallies at net to apply pressure to Bublik. Tiafoe can get careless, but Alex tends to really get frustrated when he’s playing poorly. Both have an incredulous attitude when their opponents are playing great, but Tiafoe has battled through big matches more often than Bublik. The experience should give him a tiny edge in what is another very close match. Tiafoe in 4-5.

Norrie vs Johnson :

All credit to the challengers here. Jaume Munar served great in this match against Norrie, and very nearly won the match. Up 2-1, Munar seemed to hit a wall at the same time that Cam found a rhythm. One of the trickiest parts about tennis is the mental battle. When one guy makes it clear he’s just not going to miss, the tendency is to try to do more, to try to create, and this often leads to errors when that’s not really your game. A good run for Munar, and a great save for Norrie. Norrie’s reward is a very winnable match against Steve Johnson, who I guess I am guilty of overlooking. Ryan Peniston’s play was solid in the past few weeks, but Johnson’s serve and forehand kept him on the defensive throughout the match and a straight set victory means I really shouldn’t overlook his chances against Norrie, especially after Norrie played five sets with Munar.

The Norrie equation is always the same. His defensive fortitude and focus on making the game ugly pays dividends as things get late. His serve and his forehand are strong enough to net him some points, and being lefty in racquetsports is a real advantage. It’ll be interesting to see how long Johnson’s backhand (slice only) can hold up against Norrie’s forehand, but Steve has just played a lefty so he’ll know what to expect. Johnson in the third round sounds less believable than Norrie, but this will likely be closer than the -345 price tag suggests. Honestly, the more I think about this, Norrie hasn’t given me a great reason to back him here other than a general doubting of Johnson’s game. The math is simple. Norrie is playing at home, is in his prime, and should beat Johnson. Johnson’s serve can equalize that though, and he won’t give Norrie the same amount of time to problem solve that Munar did. I’m scared of the upset here to be honest, and the -345 pricetag is a very classic # for mid-tournament upsets at majors. Tiafoe beat Rublev at this price. Wawrinka beat Medvedev at this price. I can’t put the words together because I do think Norrie will wear down Johnson’s backhand, but I wouldn’t want to bet on Norrie here. Norrie in 4-5.

Paul vs Vesely :

If this section of your draw is intact, there’s a good chance you are a wizard. If you are, please continue to keep the world safe from dementors. Just when Fokina upended Hurkacz to announce himself as the force here, Jiri Vesely popped up to play a marathon of an upset win. Despite a wrist injury which pretty clearly is still bothering him, Fokina was the better player in rallies in this one. Once he was able to get his forehand cross to Vesely’s backhand, Jiri didn’t win many points. The problem was Vesely’s serve was netting him very easy points. He won 81% of points when his first serve landed in, and despite only 19 aces he was able to pretty much stay out of trouble and apply scoreboard pressure by getting through quick service games.

In the fifth set he went up an early break for 3-1 and the match looked over as well as he was serving. Fokina stormed back to go up 3-4 though, and credit to Vesely he held three more times from behind to force a 10 point tiebreaker. In that tiebreaker he played some of his best tennis. Fokina had a great support in the crowd, and fought for every point but he was starting to really get frustrated. He got an obscenity warning for a sentence that included the word “puto” a bit too loud, and after losing a rally at 8-7 to give Vesely match point, he smashed the ball out of the stadium. The umpire called a point penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the match was over. I think in hindsight, the ref should really have let that one go. It’s good for these guys to learn, but 9-7 in a 4 hour match is a spot where he maybe could have understood the frustrated move. Once they announce it though, they can’t take it back, and Vesely is through.

Tommy Paul had a tricky opponent in Adrian Mannarino, and he put the beats on him. No other way to put it. Mannarino has pushed all the top players in the game in the 3/5 format (Nadal, Fed, Tsitsipas, etc) and he had no answers for Paul. Tommy is rounding into form at the exact right time and has a chance to even the score against Vesely, who beat him 3-0 in the 2019 iteration of Wimbledon. I like Paul’s chances here because he’s just played two lefties (Verdasco and Mannarino). He served great against Mannarino, and his forehand is a laser right now. Seeing Fokina’s forehand force Vesely into impatient errors makes me think Paul will have a safe haven there. It’s not a bad shot, but Vesely tends to always hit his backhand crosscourt and once he’s been dragged wide to his forehand wing he almost always goes crosscourt as well. Paul’s team will have clocked that and the only real issue he’ll have in this match is trying to return Vesely’s serve. If he can, he wins. If he can’t, this will likely go to tiebreakers. That may sound like a bad plan but Vesely has been struggling off tour for a while and it’s probably been a while since he played a four hour match and had to come back a day later. Tennis players generally agree that the fatigue is worse the second day, so the day off doesn’t always restore players to their freshest. Add in that the ADF match was extremely emotionally draining and the type of win that you feel good about for months, and Vesely may have a hard time pushing through if this one goes deep. I think the American serve+forehand strategy may finally be paying off at this event. Paul in 4-5.

WTA Singles :
Bouzkova vs Riske-Amritraj :

This should be a good matchup of offense vs defense. Bouzkova was pretty scary against Ann Li. She knew that pressure would yield errors and she didn’t take a point off for the whole hour and twenty minutes they spend on court. 6-0, 6-3 is top tier play for a second round at a major, especially with the depth that the WTA is currently enjoying. Her opponent Alison Riske almost went down against the qualifier Chwalinska, but after getting blitzed in the first set 6-3 Riske only surrendered one more game. Physically, it looked like Chwalinska hit a wall here. She had her legs wrapped up and her serve is tremendous but it lost its pop. For a shorter player, leg fatigue impacts the serving power first. Still a great showing for her and I am inspired by the level that the qualifiers showed, so it almost feels like the lack of ranking points here won’t keep any of them off tour for that long. With a few players retiring like Stosur and Flipkens these spots will be filled soon. Riske’s serving was pretty great in the second half of this match. She hit a T serve in the ad side that bent so much Chwalinska’s duececourt return position would have been ideal for returning it. It’ll be essential that she keeps her serving at that level against Bouzkova, because she’s not going to have an edge in rallies. Riske isn’t giving up the characteristic errors that see her crash out of a handful of events first round each year, but Bouzkova isn’t playing to outlast you. Marie takes it to her opponent and the cumulative effect of her playing aggressive but measured tennis for this whole season is that she’s really not missing much, and the extra gets are pressuring her opponents into going for smaller targets. Her own spot-serving has improved and it’s fairly predictable that she goes T but it still gets her a neutral ball to hit off most of the time.

I like Bouzkova here, as her physical fitness will be much more durable than Chwalinska (who played an extra three matches in qualifying leading into this week, making her run even more impressive). Riske’s offense is near the top level of the tour, but I don’t think Bouzkova is going down against a server here. Outlasting Collins and zipping Li is a solid sign, and Riske will come in playing solid but I don’t think she’ll be able to maintain that level for an entire match. Bouzkova in 3.

Zhang vs Garcia :

There are so many good players peaking in this event. Shuai Zhang has been relatively harmless on tour for a while, but her grass-court play has been stellar. Marta Kostyuk came in at a good level and riding a great comeback win, and Zhang was able to see her off in straight sets. She faces a very similar offensive test in Caroline Garcia, who upended the hometown favorite Raducanu in two fairly straightforward sets. Raducanu was playing decent, but she seemed unable to hang on the baseline against Garcia’s power. Emma will have to work on her defensive depth, because Garcia was able to set, move forward, and pick a direction on a number of shots in this match and she didn’t really miss. Slices are tricky, and Raducanu’s struggles on defense may be due to the fact that she’s still somewhat new to the tour. At the USO she was mostly playing offense and was serving outrageously well. It’s a lot harder to control rallies when your serve isn’t scoring, and her gets are solid but she doesn’t get herself out of trouble that often when she hits slices.

Zhang Garcia is similar to Riske Bouzkova to me because I think the more solid player is going to win. Kostyuk is a huge power player who play a straightforward game. Garcia is also serving well, but reflecting Kostyuk’s power will give Zhang a good base for a quick start in this match. It’s tough to fade Garcia here since she’s playing really well, but Raducanu let her play from inside the baseline way more often than Zhang will and I think Shuai will reap the benefit of unforced errors in a similar manner to Miyazaki in round one.

Zhang won their previous matchup on grass 6-4, 6-0, but this was back in 2019. She’s coming off her own finals run in Birmingham, so the cumulative fatigue on both ends is likely to be similar. This should be a dead even contest and I would expect it to go to whomever can play more consistent. For me, that’s Zhang. No real reason to bank on either of these players having a huge edge, but Zhang in 3.

Kerber vs Mertens :

Mertens is basically in as a lucky loser at this point. Down a set and a break against Panna Udvardy, Mertens looked fairly out of it. She started to petition the ref to cancel play towards the end of the second set due to darkness, and looked fairly flustered when she was told no. The ref was saying (at 6-5 Udvardy) that the set was almost over, and Mertens was saying that the set being almost over didn’t stop it from being too dark to play. She was dead on, and tennis needs to take a look at when they force players to complete play. After somehow digging in to break back and force a tiebreaker, Mertens seemed refocused. Udvardy then began complaining that she couldn’t see, and this game Mertens a bit of inspiration. I felt for them, but it was funny seeing that both wanted to stop, yet each became very quiet about it when their opponent was the one getting frustrated. Mertens ended up winning an extremely close tiebreaker, and play was suspended until today when she managed to win a third. It really was fair conditions for both, but Udvardy has to be a bit upset and she had a pretty big edge when it was light out. Why does Wimbledon not have lights that can be switched on briefly in these situations? It really is goofy to watch the umpire make the “i know, but what are we gonna do” gesture over and over while two players play on an ultra-fast surface without being able to see the ball.

Anyway, Mertens didn’t play great against Udvardy, and her next opponent is in great form. Linette and Kerber had a number of momentum swings early in the first, but Kerber pulled away in both sets. Mertens is freerolling at this point, but she hasn’t been consistent enough to really beat Kerber. Kerber vs Jabeur is a match that has title implications, and it’s looking like we’ll get it. Mertens has beaten Kerber twice in the past on hardcourt, but it’s really difficult to overlook the subpar season she’s having. Kerber in 2.

Jabeur vs Parry :

A lot of the DC regulars think Parry’s price here is way too high, and I’m inclined to agree. Jabeur is something like -1400 here, and she’s in great form but Parry has won two very impressive matches. Her and Hontama was a tremendously skillful affair, but Parry’s slice backhand was able to get her out of trouble time and time again. The difference I think in competition here will be noticeable in these exchanges. Hontama is a classy player but she doesn’t really have a ton of power. Parry’s slice is going to sit up for Jabeur’s forehand, and it has been an absolute laser this week. She also is one of the best on tour at disguising dropshots, and I think she’ll be the first to really make Parry make errors. Jabeur has dropped 4 games a match and is the second favorite to win this title. She’s likely to have a much simpler time holding serve also so Parry will be under some scoreboard pressure. Caveats here to Jabeur being a lock are how well Parry has played uphill on tour in the last two majors. She doesn’t force a lot of shots, and her skill is legit. Jabeur is in good form, but in the past she’s had lapses in focus when errors creep in. Jabeur in 2 single break sets.

Sakkari vs Maria :

Sakkari’s worst enemy is often named Maria, so this will be a familiar foe. Sakkari I think has turned a corner in her preparation for these events, as Tomova’s level was really solid and Sakkari didn’t let her work her way back in. Tomova left literally everything out there, and I’m hopeful that her hardcourt season goes well. For Sakkari, the frequency of early and disappointing losses at minors, and high-profile upsets at majors has sort of left her out of the spotlight at this one. She’s quietly working her way through the draw and this win would leave her in really good form. Tatjana Maria is a simple but difficult proposition. All her opponents have time and control of the rallies, but all of them also find their shots landing in the net often enough that they lose.

Maria’s slices create a sort of ball-drill that I don’t think most tour level players are working on. Sakkari’s practice session will no doubt see her dealing with a lot of slices, but her match with Maria at the AO was a 7-5, 6-4 win and the slices are way trickier on grass. For me, I’m not sure how a slice can undo a top player. It sounds harsh, but everyone goes immediately to trying to hit through Maria. Maria is standing at the baseline and ready to slice one more ball. It’s a drill for her and a difficult and creative process for her opponents. If I’m coaching Sakkari here I’m having her slice back a number of shots. Why blow out your arm and constantly supply the power when you’re not really in any offensive danger from Maria? Multiple looks is always better than a singular approach, and given Sakkari’s forehand can sometimes disappear, I’m hoping she takes a more patient approach than Cirstea and Sharma did. For Maria, it might be tough to maintain depth on her shots. Sakkari was going behind her opponents after the serve quite often and your body weight going the wrong direction can make you leave your slices short and higher than intended.

I guess this match is a question of “can Sakkari do the work in a consistent manner?” For me, the answer is yes, but I’ve been hurt before. Sakkari in 3.

Ostapenko vs Begu :

Begu is playing some great tennis. She was able to extend rallies against Cocciaretto and her lobs were solid enough to really frustrate the Italian server. Cocciaretto at one point went full Youzhny and smashed her head with her racquet three times. It was a good result for her, but Begu was too good from the baseline and served just as well as her opponent. Begu will likely hang in this next match until the business end of sets, but Jelena Ostapenko is looking like a real threat to win Wimbledon here. Wickmayer didn’t even play poorly, but Ostapenko is crushing the ball. It looked like Yanina’s lack of matchplay made it tough for her to make those quick lunge reactions on defense time after time. She’d trade even for a shot or two but Ostapenko is really consistent right now. I don’t think Begu will be able to do much better than Wickmayer, but her power and serving can make Ostapenko miss a little bit more than she did against Wickmayer. The -370 price tag seems right to me. Both are in form, but Ostapenko is a cut above. Ostapenko (who’s been dressing like an overpriced cupcake in a hipster bakery lately) in 2.

Watson vs Juvan :

I was very surprised that Watson was able to beat Wang. It took an extra day to do it as play was suspended at 7-5, 5-4, but Watson came back today and closed out. Wang looked so good against Bencic that I was surprised Watson’s backhand held up, but her serving always makes her a decent threat on grass and Wang may have had an emotional letdown after the high-profile upset. Juvan comes in at about -200 for this match, and I think that’s about right. She’s been really solid defensively, and has just seen off a huge power player in Dalma Galfi. Galfi had both legs taped up, but played pretty well in a 7-5, 6-3 loss. She’s likely to have a good time in qualifying in the North American tour if she chooses to travel. Watson was the same +170 against Wang, so it’s hard to count her out here. The crowd, her serve, and Juvan being a bit defensive at times should work in her favor, but Kaja makes the game ugly (this is a compliment) and looks to grind her opponents down. Watson’s backhand can break down, and she’s looking to play short points so I think Juvan will be able to pull away towards the end of this match. I really feel odd about getting the Wang match so wrong, but I’m going to pick against Watson again. Juvan in 3.

Tsurenko vs Niemeier :

Kalinina and Tsurenko put on a great show in round two. A third set went to Tsurenko, but this was anybody’s game and there were a bunch of swings in momentum and this was a really close contest with both saving a number of break points and playing their best tennis (the match ended at 100 points won to 105 in Tsurenko’s favor). Tsurenko is going to have a really tough next round as she’s facing a surging German player with a ton of power and talent. Julie Niemeier can hit the ball past anyone with time. I expected Kontaveit to take that time away, but Niemeier was able to dominate things from start to finish. Kontaveit’s lack of matches did seem to be her downfall here, so hopefully she steps it up in time for the USO (probably her best shot at winning a major since she plays great in the second half of the season).

Besting Kalinina is the level of offense that Tsurenko will have to stop in Niemeier, but it’s a more consistent type of offering. Tsurenko is the classic tour veteran (plays a tiny bit like Cornet). She gives her opponents a lot of looks, doesn’t make very many errors, and her defending is extremely solid. Julie’s power is next tier though, and I was optimistic about her game months ago so part of me wants to believe that this run isn’t over. Niemeier is way more consistent than Kalinina, and I think she’ll get the benefit of the crowd wanting to see the young upstart triumph. Entertaining tennis grabs the crowd. Niemeier in 3.