Yesterday, we saw the exit of Roger Federer at Wimbledon. Am I the only one who was not surprised by his loss?
He was playing in his quarterfinal match against 14th seed Hubert Hurkacz and was taken down in three straight sets. The last set was a bagel! Final score: 6-3, 7-6, 6-0.
I said at the beginning of this year that I thought Federer should retire. Sure, it would be a nice fairytale ending if he could hold on and win Wimbledon one last time. But I just didn’t think it was possible.
No disrespect to Roger, but he had knee surgery (planned before the pandemic shutdown). So how good did we think he would be when he returned? Grand slam champion good? I never thought so. The few tournaments he played leading up to Wimbledon were met with dismal results. I just didn’t see championship Sunday in the cards for him.
So, there it was. A saddening Federer loss on Centre Court. Credit goes to Hurkacz who has been playing well this year, winning his first Masters level tournament in Miami earlier this year.
The rest of the quarterfinals were business as usual. Djokovic beat Fucsovics in straight sets, Berrettini beat Auger-Aliassime in four tough sets, and the match of the day…Shapovalov beat Khachanov in a stunning five-setter!
During the opening match on Center Court today between Christian Garin and Novak Djokovic – Manic Monday, as it is called – John McEnroe talked about the pressure that Garin must be feeling, playing on the most prestigious stage at the most historic tournament in tennis, against world #1, Novak Djokovic. He said Garin has four goals for this match.
Don’t embarrass yourself
Win a few games
Pull off a miracle
And Garin did just that…everything except number four…pull off a miracle! He made a good showing, but lost in three sets.
The pressure in sports, especially for the young players trying to break through, is real. And it can manifest in a multitude of ways. Today’s Manic Monday witnessed the range of results when the pressure is on.
Cool Under Pressure
Felix Auger-Aliassime, 20 years of age, was the coolest of all cats under the pressure of Alex Zverev today! FAA had an easy first two sets, looking confident, looking smooth. I thought this was going to be a swift victory. However, Zverev had a little slip going for a ball toward the back of the court and hyperextended his knee. Looked plainful. I thought he was done. Instead, he shook it off and came back with a vengeance and won the next two sets in quick order. It’s going to a fifth! Who will handle the pressure better? FAA shined like the bright young star that he his and won that final set!
Denis Shapovalov, 22 year old Canadian, was a runaway train against veteran Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut, winning in three easy sets. Confidence city!
Ons Jabeur is making Wimbledon history, becoming the first Arab woman to make a Wimbledon quarterfinal. And, she has taken out three Grand Slam champions to get to the quarters…Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza, and Iga Swiatek. She could win the whole thing!
Cooked Under Pressure
Unfortunately, the pressure is real and sometimes it plays out on court for the whole world to see.
Earlier in the day, 21 year old American, Sebastian Korda, just could not, for the life of him, close out the fifth set against Russia’s Karen Khachanov. There were thirteen breaks of serve before Khachanov finally won. No pressure, Sebastian…your dad is just an Australian Open champion from years ago, and your sister is currently the number one women’s professional golfer! No pressure, at all!
And then there was 18 year old Brit, Emma Raducanu. Talk about pressure!! She came into the tournament as a wildcard, so there really was nothing to lose. But, she kept winning…all the way into the fourth round. So she’s playing on the biggest stage she’s ever played on with all eyes on her. She started out pretty promising, winning some games in the first set, getting the crowd behind her. But she lost the first set, 4-6. At some point in the second set, she lets the chair umpire know that she will need the trainer at the change over. But she was holding her stomach. And then you could see she her breaths were shallow between points, as she would go to her towel to dry off. And she was grasping at her throat, as if she might vomit. And her eyes were watering. Was she trying not to cry? At one point, you could see the medical staff just mere feet away from her, on the other side of the gate, while she wiped her face with her towel trying to catch her breath between points.
Finally, the game was over and the medical staff could come in. They took her off the court, and shortly returned to let the chair umpire know that she could not continue.
No one wants a match to end this way. Just heartbreaking! A terrible way to end a day at Wimbledon.
At the end of the day, we can all appreciate the tremendous amount to pressure that is put on the athletes. We can celebrate the successes, and we can show grace for the ones who may struggle.
Let’s have a safe rest of the tournament, every cat!
How do you pack a stadium for a mixed doubles match? Pair Nick Kyrgios with Venus Williams and…vwa-lah! Magic!
Stylistically, they couldn’t be more different…Venus – classy, graceful, a legend; Nick – crude, unconventional, a “bad boy of tennis.” However, together they were sensational. The purrfect pair.
The partnership was Nick’s idea. It was “a dream come true” for him to play doubles with a Williams sister.
Obviously, they respect each other’s game, and they are both power players with big serves and big returns. If I was on the other side of the court from those two, I would be hiding behind my racquet and hoping for the best.
You could tell they were having a great time, too. Laughing, high-fiving, supporting each other. It was like watching a fun, low-stakes, exhibition, but it’s Wimbledon!
They won their first round match against American duo, Austin Krajicek and Sabrina Santamaria. Total blockbuster entertainment! Next up with be Eduoard Roger-Vasselin and Nicole Melichar. I don’t know much about mixed doubles, but I do know it will be fun to watch!
There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a player injure themselves during a match. It doesn’t matter if they are winning, losing, or flat out even against their opponent. Nobody wants to see a player unfairly robbed from competing.
But, it happened twice today at Wimbledon. On Center Court, no less! With the roof closed!
It had been raining in London and even though the roof was closed, the grass was slippery. The grass surface at the beginning of a tournament is always more slippery, than after it gets worn out a little by the players. Ugh!
First up, Adrian Mannarino was playing Roger Federer. He was up two sets to one. Roger was up in the fourth set, 4-2, so it was likely going to extend to a fifth set. It was really was anyone’s game. Mannarino won the first two sets easily, and by all accounts, was playing better than Federer. But he ran for a ball and one leg slipped one way, as his knee buckled the other way. He tried to recover and served out the set, but retired before the fifth set.
Then, immediately following that horrific outcome on Center Court, the slip and agony heard round the world! Just six games into her first round match, Serena Williams slipped and tweaked her ankle. It’s just painful to watch. She was vying for a 24th grand slam title and her favorite tournament, so to be out in this freak accident is just heartbreaking!
But let’s talk about some heartwarming stories of the day!
Big sister, Venus, entering the tournament as a wild-card (which is totally wild, to me!) won her first round match!! It took her three sets, but she did it! Let me remind you…Queen V is 41 years old and this is her 23rd Wimbledon! Just remarkable!
Then we had the Ash Barty vs. Carla Suarez Navarro match! We knew that this would be an emotional one. As previously mentioned, Carla is a survivor, so to see her back on the court in competitive fashion was a victory, in and of itself! To be on Center Court, playing world #1, Ash Barty, just set the match up to have all the feels!
Carla plans to retire at the end of the year, so this was her last Wimbledon. She plans on representing Spain in the Summer Olympics and say farewell at the US Open. Barty may have won the match, but Suarez Narravo had our hearts!
All of these emotions has worn me out. I think I’ll go take a cat nap!
Day one of Wimbledon was filled with Sweet Surprises!
Frances Tiafoe beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in swift three sets!! Some analysts might consider this an upset, but as I mentioned before, there are no upsets because it’s always a positive outcome for one of the players. And this player was Tiafoe! He was flawless.
Sloane Stephens beat two-time Wimbledon champ, Petra Kvitova in two quick sets! She looked incredible on the court today! Go Sloane!
Surprise #3: I saved the best for last….
Andy Murray made his Wimbledon comeback by ousting Nikolos Basilashvili in four sets. It was a real nail biter! Andy was up two sets, and 5-0 in the third when Basilashvili made a wicked run of winning seven games in a row, to win the third set. Ugh! Then they had to exit the court while the roof was being closed. Suspense! But finally, Murray got his act together to win the fourth set!! Go Andy!
Stay tuned to see what sweet surprises tomorrow will bring!
My meuw-sings for the men’s first round matches will be divided into three cat-egories: Americans, Interesting, and Sentimental. Here we go…
Americans – Tough MATCHES
Frances Tiafoe vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (Sorry Frances!)
Mackie MacDonald vs. Karen Khachanov (Not totally predictable, but MacDonald will have to play top-level to beat Khachenov…maybe an “upset”?)
Sebastian Korda vs. Alex De Minaur (Battle of the young guns. Alex has been on fire this season, so I give him the edge)
Nick Kyrgios vs. Ugo Humbert (Honestly, I didn’t even know Kyrgios was still playing. Knowing him, he will probably win!)
Dan Evans vs. Feliciano Lopez (Dan is playing for his home crowd, and he’s had a great season. My money is on Dan.)
Roger Federer vs. Adrian Mannarino (Let’s face it…Roger is winding down. It would be great to see him win one more major. However, Mannarino is on a roll, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he beats Roger in the first round. Tough luck for Federer)
Andy Murray vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili (Andy got a wildcard into Wimbledon. I hope it’s not wasted on a first round match. My sentimental fave will always be Andy!)
Only time will tell. That is what I love about sports. You can analyze, speculate, use stats and predictors, but you never know what’s going to happen! See here we go! Wimbledon, we are ready!
Furrst up, let’s take a quick look at which first round matches to keep your cat eyes on.
Ash Barty vs. Carla Suarez Navarro
Why?Because Barty is currently ranked #1 and Suarez Navarro just beat cancer!! Go Carla!! So happy to see you back. Go Ash! Really, I would be happy with any outcome.
Bianca Andreescu vs. Alize Cornet
Why? Because Andreescu won the US Open in 2019, beating Serena Williams, but hasn’t really let her tennis skills shine since. And Cornet is just a talented, sassy Frenchwoman and I love her!
Sloane Stephens vs. Petra Kvitova
Why? Because Sloane is one of my favorite American players, and Kvitova is one of my all-time favorite players. Who’s going to win? Probably Kvitova, but I will still root for my under-cat American, Sloane Stephens. Go Sloane!
Shelby Rogers vs. Sam Stosur
Why? See above. Rogers is one of the few American women I will always cheer for, and Sam Stosur is a former world #1 who is in the twilight of her career (but don’t tell her that). I like both players, so we will see what happens.
Serena Williams vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich
Why? Well, I would be remiss to not mention Serena. She’s 39 years old, playing at one of her favorite tournaments, trying to capture the elusive 24th major title! She hasn’t won a major since becoming a mom. Will this be her tournament? Don’t know. But she has to win her first match to move on to her next. The world will be watching!
Furriends, we are wrapping up the clay court season, and that means the start of the French Open!
We are only two days in, and everything is already topsy turvy!
Here are some French Open wagers I would have lost!
I would have been all in for Dominic Thiem to win the whole tournament! But yesterday, in an inexplicable match, the second best clay court player right now, and my purrsonal favorite, lost in the first round to Pablo Andujar! Thiem took some time off earlier this season to get his mind and body right, so I guess he’s just not totally back yet.
Given his track record on clay, I would have bet a straight flush against Daniil Medvedev winning a single match at Roland Garros! But sure enough, this morning, he wins his first round match in straight sets. Now whose $$$ would be flushed?
I would have played the odds and gave Francis Tiafoe the upper edge against fellow aging American, Steve Johnson. Tiafoe is young and fierce, so I thought he had the upper hand in this first round match. I was wrong. Steve Johnson came back from two sets down, to win it in five.
I would have never made a blind bet that World #1, Naomi Osaka, would withdraw from the French Open because she doesn’t want to do the press conferences, stating mental health issues. She was fined $15,000 for skipping her press conference following her first round match. She, subsequently, withdrew from the tournament. I just think it’s a real shame it had to escalate to this.
I would have won a small stack of change for this last bet: Roger Federer winning his first round match. He’s 39 years old, he’s been out with knee issues since before the pandemic, and clay is not his favorite surface. He looked good today, taking his opponent down in three sets. His next opponent is Marin Cilic, who, if I’m being purrfectly honest, is also in the twilight of his career, so this should be interesting.
The only wager that is safe to make at this point is the one you don’t make!
So in the wise words of the great American country singer, Kenny Rogers:
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run.
And I know when to just relax on the sofa and keep my money in my pockets!
Clay court season is nice. Clay court season with Dominic Thiem is better!
And it couldn’t come at a nicer time!
We are midway through the 2021 clay court season that travels like my passport’s fantasy European vacation. Spain, Italy, Monaco, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland…and leads up to the pièce de résistance in Paris, France…the French Open!
Dominic Thiem took a much needed wellness break during the first half of the season, but has returned in time for the Masters 1000 event in Madrid. Has he looked sharp as a tack, fresh as a daisy? Not quite. But he’s winning and that’s what counts. His biggest test so far came yesterday in the QF’s against John Isner, who is notorious for his booming first serves. He challenged Thiem for three sets, but Thiem eventually got the win.
He will play Alexander Zverev in the semis today. Zverev, in an inexplicable turn of events, beat Rafa Nadal in his QF match. And it only took his two sets to do it. I really couldn’t believe what my kitty eyes were seeing.
Let’s not forget that Rafa also lost to Andrey Rublev a few weeks ago in Monte Carlo, so maybe Rafa IS human! AND, Novak Djokovic was also taken out early in Monte Carlo by Dan Evans. I’ve said it before, so I don’t want to jinx anything, but…it there a bit of a breakdown in the Big Three? Time will tell.
In other Madrid news…one of my new faves, Casper Ruud, won his QF match and Italian cutie patooty, Mateo Barretini won his QF match, so those two will face each other in the semis. That will be a close match up, I think, but I am predicting Ruud will reign the winner.
So, settle in and enjoy the return on Dominic. Maybe this will be his year to hoist the La Coupe des Mousquetaires!
Hubert (Hubi) Hurkacz was summoned to do a press conference after his win today against Thomas Fabbiano. When he got there, there were no journalists on the Zoom, so he just sat in awkward silence, waiting. After a bit, he was allowed to leave.
He was cool about it. Polite and laughed it off. Turns out, this was an ill-communicated press conference and there were no journalists in the Zoom! That’s unfortunate because you have the winner of the last Masters 1000 event in front of you. He’s not one of the Big Three, or a trouble maker who makes a fool of himself on court. If you ask me, that makes him more interesting! I would have a lot to ask! I want to know more!
Tiny confession…my human is half Polish, so we are huge fans of anything that is from Poland! We make sure Grandma knows that Poland is being proudly represented on both the men’s and women’s tennis tours. I like Hurkacz, Kubot and Swiatek! And the others!
Anyway, I thought maybe I could right this wrong, and interview him, myself! Now, I know it takes two people to conduct an interview and I haven’t been in touch with Hubi. I’ve never been to journalism school, so some of my questions might not fit into a traditional press conference room setting, but seeing how the other journalists had ZERO questions, I figured I’d try my paw at an interview! Here we go!
How did you feel you played on court today?
2. It took three sets to secure your win? Was there any point in the match when you thought you’d lose?
3. You had your first Masters 1000 win in Miami last week! Congratulations! What did you do to celebrate?
4. With only a week between tournaments, how do you find the transition from hard court to clay courts?
5. Are you a fan of clay? What’s your favorite shot on clay?
6. What’s your favorite tournament and why?
7. How often do you get to go home to Poland?
8. I see that you were born and raised in Wroclaw! That is one of my favorite cities! Do you have a favorite gnome?
9. You play Dan Evans next. What do you think of him as a person? Are you friends with him on tour?
10. How will you prepare for the match?
OK, well thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and good luck with the rest of the tournament!
What should be a slow tennis news week has turned into “What’s happening now?” Some good news, some bad news, and some news that’s not news at all.
I saw today in tennis news that young Canadian rising star, Felix Auger-Alliassime, has added Uncle Toni to his weaponry on the eve of the Monte Carlo Masters next week! To which I say…Yes, please! I fully support this decision. Felix is raw talent and who better to assist on the clay than Rafa Nadal’s forever-coach, Uncle Toni Nadal!! This makes me so happy, I could roar!
I also saw on the news today that the French Open is being postponed by one week. What??? They are saying the reason is due to France’s third national lockdown due to a surge in Covid-19 cases. I’m no scientist, but will a week really make a difference? I appreciate them trying to be safe. And these are difficult decisions to make, especially when it impacts the players and the rest of the tour schedule. But a week? Hmmm….It’s just a total drag! That is all!
And third, I just want to mention how happy I am to see Ash Barty back on tour. She’s one of my favorite female players and she basically nowhere to be found last year (on tour)! So, I am super excited to see her playing again! I am an Ash fan!
I’m a fan! Honestly, Clay Court Season…a HUGE fan! So much so that this year, I forewent my usual Ode to Clay poetry and jumped straight into a Fan Letter!
You may be wondering, “Why the fanfare, Frazier?”
Well, I’ve always enjoyed the clay court season. You break up the monotony of hardcourts, which are played for the rest of the season, with the exception of the very short grass court season that leads up to Wimbledon. You give me something different to look at. The style is different. You see red (sometimes green) courts, long slides into shots, lots of topspin, and the surprise, “gotcha”, drop shots that fall just over the net, leaving the opponent running from deep behind the baseline, to get it.
You are the great equalizer, Clay Courts. It takes special skills to be successful on clay, and not everyone has them. It’s difficult to find a player whose games translates to all three surfaces well. We need look no further than to the King of Clay, himself, Rafa Nadal. Although he’s had success on other surfaces, no one will argue he is the greatest clay court player of all time.
Last year, the pandemic really did a number on the Clay Court Season. Most of the tournaments were cancelled or postponed, with the French Open being played AFTER the US Open, in Fall! That is literally unheard of! And yet, it was heard of! It really had me messed up!
So this year, I am going to celebrate you! Every topspin-fueled baseline rally, to every finessed drop shot. Every slide, every awkward bounce, every time the chair umpire has to get out of his perch from above to examine a ball mark. All of it!! Because I’ve missed you and I’m glad you’re back!
I hope you made a final visit to the Acapulco Lounge last night before the Love Boat left port because the Final between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex Zverev was a real showdown!
When I first turned in, Tsitsipas was up 4-1 in the first set. I had secretly predicted that Zverev would not be strong enough (mentally) to take down Tsitsipas. I thought this match would be a quick one so, I closed me eyes for a brief cat nap and woke up to Zverev up 5-4! Meow! I was NOT expecting that. Shortly after, Zverev wrapped up the first set 6-4.
The second set was much tighter! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time! It’s hard to watch these two, if I’m being purrfectly honest. Tsitsipas is a very arrogant player and Zverev looks lethargic between points. And to top it off…every time Zverev has to take a second serve, you never know what’s going to happen! A wicked dink into the net? Wildly wide? Just right? Who knows!
Well, Zverev pulled it off and won the second set in a tiebreak!
One of the main reason’s I love this tournament so much is the trophy!! They get a pear!! And a sombrero! I just absolutely love it!
This next week, they will travel to Miami, keeping with the beach tennis theme! Apparently Zverev is the one to beat, with the absence of Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Thiem. I’ll still watch! Some of the best tennis happens without the Big Three.
He played his first match in Doha today since the pandemic sent everything into a grinding halt last year. Honestly, he would have taken this hiatus whether we had the pandemic or not. He announced he would be out for knee surgery last year at this time.
He played Englishman, Dan Evans in round 2 of the Qatar ExxonMobile Open and, kittens, he looked purty good!
The first set was close and went to a tiebreak that Federer won, 7-6. Evans got the best of the second set, 6-3. And then Federer snapped back to and won the third set 7-5. It was a close match the whole way. Dan Evans was in good form, so it could have gone either way.
Even though, earlier this year, I said that Federer should retire, it was really great to see him back on court!
Also back in play this week…Dominic Theim, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, and all the players in between!! It’s going to be an excellent week of tennis for this old cat!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Can you feel the love tonight? I certainly didn’t last night! Valentine’s Day Eve was nothing but disappointment after disappointment! Some victories, but also some real shockers!
We had many of my favorites playing in the fourth round last night, and it was one surprise after another.
Let’s start with the good news. Serena, Simona and Naomi made it through their matches…shocked that all had to fight it out in a third set, but they got it done. And then let’s not forget the 35 year old, Su-Wei Hsieh. She’s playing her best tennis and finished her match in short order, 6-2, 6-2. Pawtastic job, women!
And then we have the men! I’m not sure what was going on. Dominic Thiem lost his match to Grigor Dimitrov in three quick sets. I’m happy for Dimitrov, but man, Thiem looked pawful! And then we have Felix Auger-Aliassime. Bless his little Valentine’s heart! The kid can’t catch a break. He was up two sets against gualifier, Aslan Karatsev, and couldn’t close it out. Dude, get it together!
On the more predictable side of things, Zverev cruised through his match in three sets against Dusan Lajovic. And then we have Novak Djokovic against Milos Raonic. I was hoping against all hope that Milos would find a way to win this. But alas, it was Novak with the win.
Tonight, I am going to channel all of my best paws-itive love for the players. We’ve got some good ones to snuggle up with…Jen Brady/Donna Vekic (go Jen), Ash Barty/Shelby Rogers (go Ash), Mackie MacDonald/Medvedev (I’m roaring for the undercat, MacDonald, but we’ll see what happens), Fognini/Nadal (should be a good fierce one, but Nadal will take the win), Tsitsipas/Berrettini (my heart’s on Berrittini, but my money is on the Greek), Rublev/Ruud (this will be Rublev’s but I can hope for an upset?). And many more matches, but these are the ones I’ll have my cat eyes on!
Whatever happens, it is always Love, Love on Valentine’s Day!