I’m pretty sure I didn’t jinx him but it’s strange how you can talk about a certain topic and then see it relived only a short time after . In my previous blog on Henman, I dropped the line about him getting defaulted at Wimbledon. That’s going to have a huge impact on anyone that suffers that misfortune, probably even more so the younger you are. Irrespective of the level of offence,it doesn’t really matter sadly how much intention there was or was not. Three days later, poor old Denis Shapovalov blasted a ball in frustration straight into the eye of Umpire Arnaud Gabas, not too dissimilar to Tim really! Both young, both keen to impress and both losing their rags and paying the ultimate price for it. They were only smacking the ball away only in anger. Not aiming at anyone in particular.To say it cost Canada the tie against Great Britain would be bollox. Edmund was 2 sets and break up, hence the reaction from the Canadian in the deciding rubber (Pospisil had beaten both Edmund and Evans). Gabases’ eye was a bit of a mess as you would expect. As a Tennis player you do these things in the heat of the moment without malice or intent, so I’m sure he will learn from this albeit the hard way. Last years Junior Wimbledon Champion is still only 17 years of age, lets give him some space and see how he handles all this. It could be the making of him, you never know. Luckily their appears to be no damage to the Frenchman’s eye so all good. This is probably little consolation for Gabas however as he is the innocent party in all this. Whilst I’m writing this Fabio Fognini has done what Fabio Fognini does and come from two sets down against Guido Pella in Argentina to give the Italians Victory. This was an extended days play in Buenos Aires after Charlie Berlocq beat Paolo Lorenzi in 5 yesterday to take it the distance. You have to love Fognini, what a lad. Looks like he enjoyed the celebrations today. By all account the crowd were getting to him during the match, zero surprise there. He can thrive on these occasions when the mood takes him though and he turned this one on its head. Steve Darcis once again came up with the goods in the Davis Cup defeating both Kohlschreiber and Alex Zverev in Frankfurt to give Belgium the victory. There were also Wins for Spain, Serbia, Australia, USA and France.
The WTA Tour had a couple of Tournaments Last week. Elina Svitolina proved to be a class above the field in Taipei. The Ukranian’s route to the Final was made easier due to early defeats for both Caroline Garcia and Jelena Jankovic ( to Mandy Minella and Kurumi Nara respectively). She did need a kick up the backside in the Quarter-Final against Ons Jabeur, who served for it and had 4 match points. After this she cruised past Minella and Shaui Peng in the Final. Peng is a useful operator globally but in Asia she plays a couple of notches up from even that. So this was a good win. Peng hadn’t dropped a set all week in what was an impressive looking run through to the Final. She beat Saisai Zheng, Katerina Siniakova, Sam Stosur and Lucie Safarova, so she was unquestionably in good nick. Truth is Svitolina should look a cut above this field on current form. Kristina Mladenovic lost her title virginity in St Petersburg.Her Serve and big forehand really suiting the courts in Russia on a break through week for her career. Simona Halep pulled out before her Quarter-Final with Natalia Vikhlyantseva with a knee injury. It was another good week for the young Russian who beat fellow compatriot Daria Kasatkina in straights in the Second round. Mladenovic proved just too powerful in the Semi-Final coming from a set down. Yulia Putintseva upset both of the favourites from the bottom half of the draw. In beating Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dominika Cibulkova she showed her plucky side. She probably could and should have lost both of these, but her retrieving skills and never say die attitude got her over the line. To do this she has had to beat Cibulkova at her own game. Fair play! This was nearly enough in the Final after she fought back from 2/6 2/5 to take it the distance. Mladenovic’s superior power and aggression off the ground saw her through in the end, in a classic offense v defence battle. She held her nerve serving it out in the decider. Going after her shots and landing a final blow with her forehand for good measure as she fell to her feet in joy for the money shot.
Andy Del Potro