Jul 03, 2022

2022 Wimbledon ATP & WTA Day 8 (Round Four)

ATP Singles
Garin vs De Minaur :

Yesterdayyyyyy, all these Garins seemed so faaaaar awaaaaayyyyyyy. Now I’m heading back to USAAAAAA. Oh, I believe in yesterday. Suddenlyyyyyy, my serve’s half the thing it used to beeeee. My opponent is outhitting meeee. This press conference came suddenlyyyyyy.

Bad remixes aside, Brooksby got the beats in this one. He’s been one of the more puzzling stories this week, receiving some very poor play from his opponents but ultimately struggling with the one whose offense was least potent on paper. Garin is serving great this week, and saving his season financially at least with this run. A few months back he was mumbling about retirement and hitting every other ball into the net in the clay swing, so this is wholly unexpected. Sometimes having minimal matches on your joints and limbs makes you fresher when you luck into a good draw though, and a lot of players have played a great deal more tennis than Garin this year. Brooksby looked fine in this match but Garin was always hitting harder and always looking to move Brooksby to the next open position. He didn’t give him time to recover his position and his forehand let him end rallies. For a claycourt, he’s excellent at guiding the ball down the line and getting to net.

Playing De Minaur is a much different challenge. He’s always looking to take the ball early and he’s been able to trade even from the baseline with some huge hitters already this grass swing. He cruised against Broady and a quick match after the high-octane marathon he played with Draper will have him playing solid here. It sounds funny to say this in the fourth round of Wimbledon, but Garin’s forehand will be the biggest weapon on the court. Whether it’s enough to break down De Minaur’s defenses though remains to be seen. I don’t think it will be, and the biggest difference between Brooksby and De Minaur at this point is how well Alex is serving. He should be able to take care of his serve with the lead, and being comfortable on grass lets him move way better than Brooksby who still looks a bit like a baby deer at times on the surface. Today’s matches saw a marked change in the names getting through; defensive walls are thriving and the offenses are starting to fizzle out a bit. The court is starting to slow down a tiny bit (except apparently when Sinner hits a forehand) and I wouldn’t be surprised if Garin’s quality and consistency made this a very tough match. De Minaur in 4-5.

Nakashima vs Karenios :

Nakashima has been the adult we all wish Kyrgios was this week. His win against Shapovalov is the best of his career, and he backed it up by finishing off a gift (RBA’s forfeit) by beating Galan in straight sets. On the opposite side of this section of the bracket, grade A bitch Nick Kyrgios was letting his emotions get the better of him. Markets were about to downgrade him after his mature and almost subdued performances early in this tournament, but the idea of possibly losing had clearly gripped this man before the match even started and he was in rare and yet typical form in his four set win against Tsitsipas.

Everything that bothers Nick comes from the things he knows but is scared to say. Nick Kyrgios doesn’t train hard enough to be at his best all the time. When there’s a big point, he might cop out and go for a trick shot. When he has a huge point and an opportunity, he might sail it wide. His game is sharper here than it has been in a long time, but experience on tour is pretty much a guarantee that a talented player like Nick will get better. Local villain Zverev is improving by leaps and bounds even though his ego also is still winning the battle. When Kyrgios is winning, or in a pressure or expectation-free situation, he’s fine. The moment that there is a potential L on the horizon, he begins to squirm. The classic narcissist behavior comes out. Gaslighting his box into thinking they need to be standing for him to play good tennis. Yelling at umpires.

In this match he literally demanded that the umpire be changed. That’s not a thing now, nor has it ever been in professional tennis. Refusing to play to see a supervisor is pretty much the most embarrassing tantrum you can throw in professional tennis, and Kyrgios does this in every high profile loss he takes. Legendary fictional peyote guru Don Juan once said (well, he didn’t cuz he’s made up, but it’s a nice quote) that the first enemy of man is fear, and this is Nick’s current problem. He’s scared to take a loss. Pretty much every mature adult can tell him that life is full of wins and losses, and the losses are what build character. If you can compete to your fullest and leave aside thoughts of the self (MY trophy, he beat ME, I wanted to win, I got cheated,etc), you can actual be a part of tremendous events in sport. Legendary matches are when both sides aren’t remotely considering the outcome and are just playing every point as well as they can. It increases camaraderie, it elevates the sport, and it captures fans. When you’re thinking of how the outcome affects you, you tense up, anxiety abounds, adrenaline is released (when you don’t need it; see TVR’s performance in the first set today), and you start to try to win by any means necessary which is almost always a bad side to display. It means nothing if you lose, it Nick’s fault and it doesn’t make him a worse player or a worse person. Oddly, his win here does exactly that.

Kyrgios’s tantrums (excellently documented in the link here (https://www.reddit.com/r/tennis/comments/vpykis/unofficial_live_thread_meme_machine_vs_greek/iely7b1/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3) were almost overshadowed by Tsitsipas’ reactions to them. Early in the first set, he had an overhead and smashed the ball at Nick. The argument can always be made that he was thinking Nick would run crosscourt, but no apology was offered. Several more times in this match he had easy balls and smoked them near Nick. It was clear that he was raging, but instead of quietly clocking that and doing subtle things to bother him (more underhand serves, etc), Kyrgios went to the ref. After an underhand serve caught Tsitsipas in an especially bad move in a game that was pretty much over, Tstisipas took a wild swipe at it. It was half aimed at Kyrgios, half “F this i’m sailing it out of the stadium”. Rage is a real struggle when you’re losing, and it was clear that Tsitsipas was 50% sick of the game and trying to hit a laser or be done with it, and 50% so consumed with anger at Nick that he wanted to smash the ball as hard as he could. The ball went in the crowd and honestly they need some sort of penalty for this behavior. An automatic game penalty for a ball in the crowd or out of the stadium would be ideal. It’s vindictive enough to cost people matches, and doesn’t turn the occasion into a “is this serious or not” debate. Saying it’s only an issue if the person in the crowd gets hurt is just bizarre, and the ATP in general should be sitting these guys down behind closed doors and letting them know this kind of recklessness is completely unacceptable.

There is very little I dislike more in sport than a player trying to use the ref to steal a victory. The umpire and supervisor are partially to blame here as well. Instead of reminding Nick that it was an incredible match and urging him to focus and not to take away from the moment with distractions and attempted forfeits, they waved his complaints off and created a very popular situation we see online these days. The person who is generally being awful has an actually valid point, and it is completely disregarded because of the person issuing the statement. Kyrgios doesn’t deserve any forfeits at all, and he’s literally the boy who cried wolf, but they need to acknowledge his perspective if they want to calm him down in the moment, or they need to talk to him much more sternly. It’s their event. Kyrgios is fun tennis and a car crash appeal, but he’s not a necessary commodity at all; tennis was fine before him, and it’ll be fine after. “I want to talk to ALL THE SUPERVISORS”? What the what even is that? I have a nice screenshot of his box standing after he yelled at them. They stood there between games looking like prisoners lining up to be shot. “People are here to watch me, not you” Sure Nick, people watch porn too, but then they delete their browser history. This dude gives me a headache, and I honestly don’t like how selective he is about who he pushes the boundaries with. Tsitsipas is soft; the dude is reposting old 2000s era jokes on his twitter and reading philosophy books. He deserves some abuse perhaps, and he maybe should have been defaulted, but Kyrgios knows he’s safe in that situation and I really am starting to see him as a bully.

Umpires are pretty much not allowed to argue or speak freely in these dealings with players. There are players like this in every sport,and referees absolutely hate being called on to ref their matches. For an estimate on his maturity level, here’s a brief anecdote. I was at a national championship for handball (like racquetball but with your hands) and was refereeing the 13 and under finals. One kid, who was the favorite, was losing the match. I made a call he didn’t like, and he threw himself on the floor and began crying. “I WANT A NEW REFFFFFF” he sobbed, while depositing snot on the court. As a spectator, idc who throws a tantrum, but as a player, I understand how important these moments can feel and I don’t want this kid to get wound up thinking he’s being cheated. So I asked him “do you?” totally willing to step aside to preserve the quality of the match. Kid looked up at me, dried his tears, and said “nooo”. He took a deep breath, and mounted one of the best comebacks I’ve ever seen. Sometimes you have to man up, and that doesn’t always mean getting your way. If a 13 year old kid can realize he’s lost his way, how does a 27 year old remain so dug into always being right? Kyrgios is everything wrong with tennis’ image. “Isn’t that just spoiled rich kids?” is what I get often when I tell people I watch tennis. The guy with the best serve, the coolest shots, and the most crumpled hat, is ruining his own chance to be the actual celebrity he dreamsof being. What a mess. Please don’t overlook either that the trigger for all of this was a line judge making a bad call and APOLOGIZING. A mistake leaves you attacking anyone around you for the next 3 hours? Andujar would not approve.

All that being said, Kyrgios is likely to beat Nakashima here. He’ll be able to put a lot of returns in play, and his own service delivery hasn’t seen a bad patch since the start of the week. Nakashima’s consistent level is likely to net him a set when he goes up in the scoreline, but Tsitsipas was crushing the ball yesterday and couldn’t really force Kyrgios into enough errors to win. Given Nakashima’s professionalism and ability to ignore the other side of the net, I think he’ll win at least one set. Kyrgios has shown an inability to hit through the court most of the time during rallies, so Nakashima’s defense is likely to yield dividends since Kyrgios isn’t really looking to do as much running as long rallies require. The worst Nick can do though is tiebreakers generally, since his serve is so good. He should have a bit too much firepower for Nakashima at this point, especially since Tsitsipas served great and still couldn’t win. It’s probably not the last time that I discuss Kyrgios, but I wish it was. Kyrgios in 4.

Kubler vs Fritz :

These names bring a smile to my face. Jason Kubler is Australia’s Rafael Nadal is something I heard 5-6 years ago when I started watching tennis. He made maybe one appearance on tour since then, a 3-0 win at a major against an injured RBA. I watched him play a number of times, and he always looked like a pretty generic pusher. Tennis is refreshing though, because it humbles haters like me. Kubler has shown up this week and is not only serving lights out, he’s crushing his forehand. Jack Sock had this match toasted up two sets to one, and Kubler never stopped fighting. I like his chances to pressure Fritz also, but these two are playing very similar styles right now. This is a problem for Kubler because Fritz is bigger in every department. His lazy looking swings are producing winners, and his service motion just looks much simpler to produce. Kubler is landing 64% of his first serves which is nice, but Fritz was at 77% against Molcan, who would likely be an even match against Kubler at this juncture in the tournament. It feels to me like sections of this draw are being player at different levels. Fritz will be a big step up for Kubler, and though he has the game to play at this level I don’t think he’ll be able to sustain it for 3 sets. Fritz in 4.

Van De Zandschulp vs Nadal :

Right after Djokovic got done blanking Kecmanovic, Nadal turned in a similar performance. Lorenzo Sonego came in facing a Nadal who’d lost sets to Berankis and Cerundolo, but he’d need a ouji board to get a moment with that version of Rafa. Nadal was hungry from start to finish, and this was the match that eliminated most of my hopes for an upset in the next few rounds and also made me excited about a Djokovic Nadal classic in the finals. For Botic, there’s no real reason to panic here. He’s the best player Nadal has faced, and after some early struggles against Gasquet he was able to pull away comfortably. These two just played in the French, and it was a pretty dominant performance for Nadal. Here, we can add at least a game each set. BVDZ serves really well, and his baseline game is powerful and comprehensive. The trouble here is that Nadal’s serving has gone way up round by round, and he’s indicated that his foot is completely fine for this event at least. There are no holes in his game, and Botic was on the ropes against Gasquet’s offense so Nadal’s sharp hitting is going to be a bit too much. In the early rounds Nadal’s backhand looked a bit over-aggressive and was making errors, but it’s been the hallmark of his offense in the past two matches so there really isn’t a safe-haven here for Botic. The optimism I have for Botic is that Sonego is a really inconsistent flow player. When he’s on, he’s great, but he basically swings for the fences from start to finish so a quick loss is pretty much what you’d expect from him. I’m expecting a high quality match where Nadal is always a single break better per set. Nadal in 3-4.

WTA Singles

Cornet vs Tomljanovic :

I thought Cornet had a good chance to beat Swiatek, but Iga really helped the result along. She’s been lights out on offense at times, and the gaps in that have shown her willing to continue going for winners until she wears her opponent down. This match featured willingness, but no real spans of solid play. She hit 33 unforced errors across two sets which is a stat I don’t think anyone can overcome against Cornet. Her next opponent is likely to give her some errors, but not in that sort of quantity. Ajla Tomljanovic is living up to all the hype that surrounded her game for her first few seasons on tour. She’s always been a fairly straightforward hard hitting player, but it’s somehow the perfect strategy this week. She needed 3 sets to win her last round, but Krejcikova is the type of tricky and skilled opponent that no one is really breezing past. I’ve seen some speculation about “where does she go from here?” and “is there a future for Krejcikova on tour?” and this seems like clickbait to me. She’s returning from injury and has played like 3 matches. It takes a long time to get your timing back in sport, and at times you don’t even realize it’s missing until you finally have it back. Look at how fluid Goffin looks this week compared to how he looked even 3 weeks ago against Medvedev. Krejcikova will be fine, and it’ll likely take her a while to get back to the top since she’s a skill player but it’ll happen as long as she’s healthy.

Tomljanovic actually played Cornet here last year, and won in three sets. I’d expect a similar outcome here, but Tomljanovic is way better here than she was last season. Her forehand is sliding the court on every shot, and she’s shown a level of confidence that hasn’t always been there. Her movement is good enough to deal with Cornet moving the ball, and this seems like a spot where the bigger hitter will just be able to wear down her opponent. Tomljanovic in 3.

Rybakina vs Martic :

I’m tired of Martic winning when I think she won’t, so I set this match on my phone and set it on my laptop so I could watch the entire thing. Here’s what I learned. Martic’s forehand down the line is seeing the ball huge right now. She’s able to create this angle almost every time she wants to, and it’s opening up the court enough that her opponents are spending most of their time there. This may sound odd, but when you’re parked in the backhand corner, sometimes slices are a little trickier to deal with. It’s easier for your footwork to be lazy, and deceleration becomes an issue that it doesn’t when you’re moving crosscourt to the ball. Martic has a good slice and it worked on Pegula since she was trying not to hit to Martic’s forehand. The second set looked like the classic Pegula comeback, but she was just unable to hit the key shots to close out. Martic controlled rallies, and in the tiebreaker she was able to secure her first fourth round in quite some time.

Rybakina and Zheng had the serving battle we expected, and it was pretty funny watching their +1 shot be hit for a winner over and over. In the end, it was Rybakina who held when it counted, and I think she makes the quarterfinals here. Pegula was looking to outlast Martic, but gave up a lot of court position to do it. Martic thrives with time, and she had it. Rybakina may struggle to catch up for Martic’s forehand, but her serve +1 are too good for Petra’s movement. The tough thing about getting these resurgent runs wrong is that I wind up calling for players to lose over and over and being wrong (hello Tatjana Maria), but in my defense, I am a turtle. Rybakina in 2.

Badosa vs Halep :

Badosa and Kvitova didn’t put on the best show, but Badosa’s strategy looked to be ideal for the match. She was extending rallies and not creating angles. Hitting right to Kvitova isn’t the general strategy, but it kept her from getting into her normal patterns. Kvitova wound up hitting a lot of forehand inside out, and Badosa was there over and over. When the big points came, Kvitova reverted to hitting cross court but was out of rhythm and errors came. This was still close for a few reasons. One, Badosa’s grasscourt game doesn’t really include a lot of offense. She’s a tough out, but not the same powerful threat as she is on hardcourt. Two, her serving hasn’t been great this season. I’d say the last great match I saw her play was when she beat Kostyuk at the Australian Open. Not a huge issue for her to not be picking up titles, but she’ll need her best in the next round.

Halep had a tough time with Flipkens, but rolled through Frech 3,1. This is the championship round for her. Badosa is good enough defensively that Halep can’t just hit through her. She’s going to put enough balls in play and Halep isn’t the most powerful player so rallies should be somewhat endless. Badosa’s form hasn’t been good enough to call her an outright winner here, but she could get close. I honestly don’t know what to expect here, despite Halep’s 6-3, 6-1 win against Badosa in Madrid. This feels like a spot where Halep is always the favorite but on grass it might be a matchup nightmare. If Badosa finds her serving, she can steal this. If not, Halep in 3.

Anisimova vs Tan :

Harmony Tan has been the surprise of the tournament multiple times. I didn’t really love her level against Serena, but that match was mostly about ring-rust for this era’s GOAT. I was surprised she beat Tormo since she doesn’t have the biggest offense, but she showed good resolve and variety which frustrated the Spaniard into errors. I really thought Boulter would run through her, but the looping gets and variety that Harmony employs let her play within herself while Katie imploded. Boulter hit 21 unforced errors in the match and really hit herself out of this one. Tan’s run is great, and I don’t want to seem like a hater, but it’ll be really hard for her to win this next one. Anisimova and Gauff played an incredible match, and Anisimova ended it decisively. Gauff came out crushing the ball to go up 3-0, but I’m starting to think that her issues with consistency on tour are less about technique or gameplan and more about physical maturity. Gauff is really strong, but she’s still very young. Her game seems to tail off at times, and Anisimova’s been at it much longer on tour. She can always hit through the ball for a full match, and with control she’s nearly unbeatable. Tan may be a difficult puzzle, but Anisimova’s offense (and mostly her backhand) makes her a threat to win this event. Anisimova in 2.