Top 10 Grass court players -#6

Milos Raonic (R/U in 2016) & Simona Halep (2019 Champion) – Photo taken from their respective Instagram pages

ATP #6

Ranking 6th on our list is the Canadian Milos Raonic. Once ranked number 3 in the world, Milos has seen his ranking fall in recent years due to suffering many injuries. Regardless of that, Milos has beaten the best of the best including a remarkable win against Roger Federer in the Semi Finals at Wimbledon in 2016. Milos would end up finishing runner-up to Andy Murray.

In addition to being runner-up at Wimbledon in 2016, Milos has also fallen at the last hurdle at Queens’ London, losing to Murray once again, and losing to Federer at the Stuttgart Open in 2018.

WTA #6

Narrowly missing out on being placed in the top 5 of our grass court players is a player who first entered the world’s top 10 on January 27, 2014 and hasn’t fallen out of the top 10 since. Simona Halep, currently ranked number 2 in the world, lifted her 2nd WTA Title on the grass courts in the The Netherlands, defeating Kirstin Flipkins in straight sets.

Simona has seen her grass court game flourish ever since, defeating the 7 time Wimbledon Champion Serena Williams  in the Final at Wimbledon in 2019 by a score line of 6 2, 6 2.

Top 10 Grass court players – #7

The players ranked 7 on our list of top 10 grass court players are both 2 time champions on the grass courts at Eastbourne, England.

Feliciano Lopez & Karolina Pliskova (Photo credit – ATP & WTA Player profiles)

ATP #7

The holder of 7 ATP Singles Titles is ranked 7th on our list. The Spaniard Feliciano Lopez plays his best tennis on the grass courts of England, with wins over multiple Grand Slam Champions including Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Marin Cilic, Andy Roddick and Marat Safin.

In addition to wins over the elite, Lopez is a 3 time Quarter-Finalist at Wimbledon, a 2 time champion at Eastbourne and a 2 time champion at Queens’ London. It is yet to be determined if Feliciano will continue to play, with the news of a new born on the way. Here’s hoping he will continue to bring his ‘A Game’ to the grass courts once more.

WTA #7

Appearing 7th on our list is the current World #3 and former World #1, Karolina Pliskova. Pliskova first tasted success on the lawn courts of Birmingham in 2015 where she fell at the last hurdle, losing to Angelique Kerber in 3 sets. A year later, Pliskova would go one step further and win the title in Nottingham. Pliskova is also a 3 time finalist at Eastbourne, lifting the trophy on 2 occasions.

Although Pliskova has never made it past the 4th round at Wimbledon, it is just a matter of time before the WTA Tours’ leading ace holder delves further into the draw.

Top 10 Grass court players – #8

Both of the players ranked 8th on our list are former top 10 players and have reached the Semi Finals at Wimbledon!

John Isner & Johanna Konta (Photo credit – ATP & WTA Player profiles)

ATP #8

Up next on our list of top 10 grass court players, is the American John Isner. Standing tall at 6ft 10, Isner’s biggest strength is his serve, which is often the deciding factor in a match played on grass. Isner’s best performance at a grand slam, has been at Wimbledon, when he reached the Semi Finals in 2018. Isner has had repeated success on the grass courts at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, Rhode Island where he has won the title on 4 occasions.

Isner has many accolades to his name, including participating in the 2 longest professional matches ever played, defeating Mahut 70-68 in the 5th set at Wimbledon in 2010, and losing to Anderson 24-26 in the 5th set in 2018. As a result of his matches lasting a significant amount of time, Wimbledon have introduced a 5th set tie-breaker to be played once it reaches 12 games all.

WTA #8

Hailing from Sydney, Australia, but now representing Great Britain, Johanna Konta appears 8th on our list of top 10 grass court players. Konta has accumulated plenty of notches on her belt, with wins on the grass courts over former Wimbledon champions including Kerber, Kvitova and Halep.

Although Konta has yet to win a grass court title, she is Great Britain’s best chance of lifting the Ladies Wimbledon Singles Trophy, as she has experienced a significant amount of success on the grass courts of England, with runner up finishing’s at Nottingham in 2017 & 2018 (losing both finals in 3 sets) and being a Semi Finalist at Wimbledon in 2017.

Top 10 Grass court players #9

Nicolas Mahut & Coco Vandeweghe (Photo credit – ATP & WTA Player profiles)

ATP #9 Nicolas Mahut

Appearing just ahead of his French compatriot Richard Gasquet, Nicolas Mahut is ranked 9 on our list of grass court specialists. Mahut may be most known for the part he played in the longest match ever recorded, losing to John Isner in the first round at Wimbledon in 2010. Although Mahut is currently hovering around the 200 rank in the world, he has a fully stacked grass court resume including wins over Nadal and Murray at Queens’ London and Wawrinka on the grass courts in The Netherlands.

Currently aged 38, Mahut has played in 6 career ATP single finals, and all have been on grass, winning 3 Rosmalen Championships in The Netherlands (2013, 2015 & 2016) and winning the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, Rhode Island in 2013. Mahut has also lifted the Wimbledon Double’s title in 2016 & was runner up in 2019. Although the majority of his competitors have age and fitness on their side, Mahut’s experience on the grass is a force to be reckoned with to this day.

Photo credit – The Tennis Tribune – July 9, 2019

WTA #9 CoCo Vandeweghe

The former top 10 ranked WTA Player, CoCo Vandeweghe finds herself earning the 9th berth on our countdown. Currently ranked just outside the top 200 in the world as a result of sustaining an ankle injury which has kept her out of action for the guts of a year. CoCo has won 2 titles on the grass courts in The Netherlands, lifting the Rosmalen Championship trophy in 2016 and 2018.

With wins over a handful of top 10 players on the grass courts, such as Radwanska, Wozniacki and Johanna Konta, Coco has found her serve to be her main asset, which often is the deciding weapon on the grass courts. If CoCo can overcome her ankle injury, she is sure to be an unwanted opponent for many seeded players who could face her in the opening rounds of forthcoming tournaments.

Photo credit – The Tennis Tribune – June 18, 2016 – Aegon Classic Birmingham

Top 10 Grass court players #10

As Covid-19 has disrupted the 2020 Grass court season, The Tennis Tribune will be dedicating the next fortnight to the tours’ grass court specialists. Commencing today, we will be revealing who is ranked 10th in our top 10 list. Read below to find out who have earned themselves a berth in our competitive list of grass court players.

Richard Gasquet & Donna Vekic (Photo credit to ATP & WTA Player profiles)

ATP #10 Grass court specialist

Kicking off our top 10 ranked grass court specialists is the former top 10 ranked French veteran, Richard Gasquet. Gasquet who is currently ranked 50 in the world (Career high ranking 7) has achieved a considerable amount of success on the green turf. With 3 grass court titles to his name including back to back wins in Nottingham in 2005 & 2006, and most recently lifting the title at the Rosmalen Championships in The Netherlands in 2018. Gasquet who is probably most known for one of the best single handed backhands on the tour, has clocked up his most grand slam match wins at Wimbledon, reaching the second week on 7 occasions, including reaching the semi-finals in 2007 and 2015.

Although Gasquet may have had his best years behind him, most recently falling at the first hurdle at Wimbledon for the last 3 years, one can never count out the skilled grass court craftsmen! With wins over Andy Roddick and Stan Wawrinka at Wimbledon, Gasquet is sure to be a player that many will fear to play, and for that reason alone, Gasquet deserves a place in the top 10 list.

WTA #10 Grass court specialist

Commencing our list of top 10 WTA Grass court players, is the young Croatian Donna Vekic. Vekic made her professional debut on the WTA tour during 2012, and quickly became a fan favourite for many. Vekic first encountered success on the English grass reaching the final on her first attempt at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham in 2013, defeating 3 seeded players before succumbing to Daniela Hantuchova in a tight two set final (6 7, 4 6).  Vekic would later go on to achieve more success by adding the Aegon International tour in Nottingham as an annual event to her calendar. Vekic lifted the title in 2017, defeating Johanna Konta, and was most recently a runner up to Caroline Garcia in 2019.

Her best performance at Wimbledon thus far, is a 4th round showing in 2018, defeating the 2017 US Open Champion, Sloane Stephens in the 1st round. Vekic currently aged 23, has her best tennis ahead of her and is a main contender to lift the Wimbledon title over the next few years.

A welcome return to Tennis!

us openThe Tennis Tribune has been off the grid for some time, for reasons which were out of our control and currently cannot discuss further, however we are pleased to announce our return. We will be covering the latest tennis stories and strive to deliver all tennis related news over the forthcoming months. We will firstly look ahead at what the future holds for tennis in 2020.

The tennis world was brought to a sudden halt on March 9th, when the renowned mandatory tournament Indian Wells announced its cancellation due to the rapid outbreak of Covid-19. This was the first tournament to announce its cancellation, of which was announced abruptly at the last minute, after many tennis players had arrived to its location, many traveling from different continents, and then having to find themselves trying to find a flight out of the country as the country announced the inevitable, that it was closing its borders.

This was to set the precedence as many tournaments followed suit before both the WTA & ATP Tours officially announced the postponement of all tournaments indefinitely. One tournament to act fast and to some opinions, acted selfishly, Roland Garros, announced it had intended to reschedule its tournament to the last 2 weeks of September. This was announced to the world without prior informing the other grand slams and both the WTA & ATP Tour. The rescheduling of the tournament would result in the Laver Cup being cancelled and the subsequent postponement/cancellation of other tournaments that were due to be played in the two weeks that Roland Garros had rescheduled to.

Fast forward a few months later, an official road map was announced to the public. Professional tennis would recommence in August through to November, with a packed calendar which features the combined ATP Masters and WTA Premier 5 tournament “Western & Southern Open” followed by the US Open, followed by back to back combined ATP & WTA clay court tournaments held in Madrid and Rome, followed by Roland Garros.

Prior to the commencement of the Western & Southern open, the WTA intends to recommence its tour in Palermo, Italy on August 3rd, and the ATP tour to recommence in Washington on August 17th.  The Western & Southern Open which is usually played in Cincinnati, will be held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York City, the same centre as the US Open. The reasoning behind this is to create a “bubble” for the players, allowing them to play in two tournaments back to back in the same city and to help avoid the risk of transmission due to traveling from city to city. As the Western & Southern Open will be held at the National tennis centre in New York, the US Open qualifying has been cancelled for the year. Further events usually played at the US Open, have also been cancelled, including Mixed Doubles, Juniors and Wheelchair events. This has been met with some controversy, particularly in the wheelchair tour, the Australian number 1; Dylan Alcott, who has 16 grand slam titles to his name has expressed his disappointment and received support from fellow abled players such as Sir Andy Murray. The USTA responded with an official statement, suggesting that they will do their best to schedule a wheelchair event. Only time will tell.

The US Open will be held without spectators, and also without media officials in attendance. There will be no lines men in the outdoor courts, thereby resulting in the players solely relying on the umpire and Hawkeye. This should cause for some on court disagreements amongst the players & the umpire, which should provide some entertainment for the viewers at home.

One player to officially confirm their participation at the US Open, is Serena Williams, who will be eyeing to win a record breaking 24th grand slam. I’m sure there will be plenty of discussion around Serena amongst her peers in the run up to the tournament, as it has been revealed that Serena has had a new tennis court fitted on the grounds of her house, which will be an exact replica of the new surface to be played at the US Open; LayKold. This will be the first time that the US Open will be played on the aforementioned surface, previously played on DecoTurf. Some players may deem this to be an advantage to Serena Williams, and perhaps the US Open is on the cusp of witnessing a record breaking career record, whereby Serena Williams win’s her 7th US Open title and more importantly a 24th Grand Slam title, equalling the record held by the controversial Australian, Margaret Court.

It has yet to be seen what players, if any, confirm their withdrawal from the US Open. Simona Halep has expressed her wish to only participate in events held only in Europe. Rafael Nadal, the king of clay, who is the defending champion at both the US Open & Roland Garros, may announce his withdrawal in the following weeks, as he throws with the idea of focusing only on clay court tournaments to better his chances of winning another Roland Garros title. With Roger Federer announcing he has halted his 2020 season after having surgery on his right knee, and with the uncertainty of travel restrictions from various countries, the impending withdrawal of other players is to be expected.

A battle between the 2017 yearend champions

 

The Final of the 2018 ASB Classic saw the Dane and World #3 Caroline Wozniacki face the World #14 and German #1 Julia Goerges. Both players were coming into the Final on a massive winning streak after finishing the 2017 season in spectacular form.

Caroline Wozniacki came into the final on an 8 match winning streak after winning the elusive WTA Finals Trophy, which sees the top 8 yearend ranked players participate in a round robin format. The Dane defeated four of the top five players including the World #1 Simona Halep.

Julia Goerges on the other hand had a more impressive streak of 13 consecutive match wins, including back to back title wins at the Moscow Open and the WTA Elite Trophy which is contested by the players ranked between 9 and 20 in another round robin format.

The head to head between the two could not be closer with Julia leading the series 5 wins to 4 including a Final win on the red dirt at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart in 2011. More importantly, Caroline leads the head to head on hard courts with 4 wins to 2. That being said, Julia extended the head to head on Sunday, 7 January by defeating Caroline in an exhilarating final winning the ASB Classic in a tight two sets, 64, 76.

Regardless of losing in the Final, Caroline has guaranteed herself the #2 seed at the Australian Open, both Julia and Caroline will now travel to Melbourne as neither of them are participating in the next scheduled WTA tournaments in Sydney and Hobart.

Shenzhen Open Final played indoors

As previously reported, the Auckland ASB Classic saw its play being washed out, and the prospect of its final being played indoors became a likely solution. Unfortunately, The Shenzhen Open was to experience the same hardship. The tournament Directors announced on Saturday that both the Singles and Doubles Final of the Shenzhen Open would be played indoors, resulting in the matches not being broadcasted.

The Singles Final, a rematch of the 2017 Shenzhen Open Second Round was contested by the current WTA World #1 and the 2015 Shenzhen Open Champion, Simona Halep and the defending Singles Shenzhen Open Champion, Kateřina Siniaková. The Czech Siniaková, defeated the Romanian Halep in a tight three setter in the 2017 edition of the tournament.

In a turn of events, Halep claimed revenge and defeated Siniaková in a topsy-turvy encounter, winning the Final in three sets (6-1, 2-6, 6-0). As a result Halep lifted her 16th WTA title and her first since May 2017.

The Doubles Final which will coincidentally be contested by the Singles Finalists, will see Halep partner with her compatriot, Irina-Camelia Begu and Siniaková partner with her compatriot Barbora Krejčíková. Siniaková will have another shot at ending the week on a high with a title win.

 

 

 

 

Auckland weather disrupts 2018 ASB Classic

While the ATP and WTA tournaments in Doha, Prune, Brisbane and Shenzhen have all seen their schedules go to plan, the WTA ASB Classic held in Auckland has been less fortunate.

Auckland has been hit with severe storms which have resulted in play being cancelled on two consecutive days. While this is not uncommon for the ASB Classic, it is not ideal. The last edition of the ASB Classic which was won by the American Lauren Davis, had numerous rain delays during the first few rounds. The final is usually played on a Saturday, however with the recent rain delays the final is currently set for Sunday.

The current schedule includes both quarter finals and semi finals to be played on Saturday, weather permitting! Those in attendance at the tournament will be in for a treat if play gets under way as all of the top 4 seeds are still in contention to lift the title. They include the 2017 WTA Finals champion and the 2015 ASB Classic runner up Caroline Wozniacki, the 2017 WTA Elite Trophy champion and the 2016 ASB Classic runner up Julia Gorges, the current Linz Open champion Barbora Strycova and the 2013 ASB Classic champion Agnieszka Radwanska. All will be determined to start the year on a high especially Aga Radwanska who is chasing her first title since October 2016.

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ASB Classic 2018 Order of Play

If the current edition of the tournament is to experience more rain delays, the tournament Directors may have no other option but to cancel the 2018 edition. The last WTA tournament to be cancelled due to downpour was the first edition of the State Farm Women’s Tennis Classic held in February 2000 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The result of the first edition saw both Finalists; Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis share the prize money and ranking points on offer. Another option available to the tournament Directors is to move play indoors at the ASB Tennis Centre, however if this occurs it is unlikely that there will be space for spectators. The next few days should prove to be interesting!

 

 

The rise and fall … and rise again of Kaia Kanepi

Kaia Kanepi the Estonian warrior is currently one of eight women in contention to lift the Brisbane International title for a second time after reaching the quarter finals. Kanepi had to earn her berth in the tournament by competing in the qualifying draw.

Some of you may be wondering why Kanepi, the former champion had to qualify for Brisbane after lifting the trophy in 2012. Unfortunately, Kanepi has had her fair share of injuries which have derailed her charge on the WTA rankings. After achieving a career high ranking of #15 and reaching three finals in 2012, Kanepi suffered an achilles tendon injury which forced her to withdraw from numerous high profile tournaments including Wimbledon and the US Open in 2012 and the Australian Open in 2013.

Kaia+Kanepi+2012+Brisbane+International+Day+MC5O30Hb5_Ll
Kanepi lifting the 2012 Brisbane trophy

Although Kanepi returned to the tour in time for the Clay season in 2013 and subsequently went on to win her 4th and most recent WTA tour title at the final edition of the Brussels Open, Kanepi was to face further setbacks by suffering more injuries  including a back and shoulder injury over the forthcoming years.

Thankfully towards the latter end of 2017, Kanepi achieved some positive results by reaching the quarter finals of the US Open as a qualifier similar to her current path to the quarter finals in Brisbane.

Regardless of the outcome of Kanepi’s Brisbane result, where she’ll face the defending champion Karolina Pliskova in the next round, she has guaranteed herself a place in the main draw of the Australian Open, a tournament which she hasn’t played since 2015.