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View Full Version : Matthew Cronin's Day 6 Picks (Venus in three; Amy pulls off the upset)


treiber04
Sep 4th, 2004, 03:28 PM
Day 6 Picks
by Matthew Cronin
Saturday, September 4, 2004

1-ROGER FEDERER (SUI) VS. 31-FABRICE SANTORO (FRA)

The young genius faces the much-admired Santoro, whom Todd Martin once called the most creative and brightest player in tennis. But Santoro has nowhere near the weaponry of Federer and, although he is fast, can last and can mix and match with all sorts of speeds and spins, he'll have trouble working his magic against the great Federer. Federer holds a 4-2 edge in their match-ups but has won their three past contests, two of them indoors and the last one just last month in straight sets at TMS Canada.

Santoro won't give Federer a lot of pace and can obviously play with him but will have to play his best match of the year to throw Federer completely off his stride. The veteran is more effective in shorter matches against elite players, and given that Federer knows how to work his way through matches now even when's he's not playing well, Santoro will be hard-pressed to find a way through him. This contest will be highly entertaining for lovers of the slice and short angles, and Federer will pull though in four.

6-ANDRE AGASSI (USA) VS. JIRI NOVAK (CZE)

Agassi has the tall Czech's number, having won four out of their five contests. Novak is a pretty smooth player with a good backhand and serve, but despite the 29-year-old's five career titles and decent 16-9 record here, he's never played particularly inspired tennis in New York.

The American likes straight-ahead contests against players whom he knows well and can't out run him. Here, Agassi merely needs to return well, control play from the center of the court, and let the crowd pull him up when he is down. While Novak has enough firepower to hurt Andre, he doesn't have the will to club him all day long. With Massu's loss on Friday, Andre's draw is looking very good until Federer. Agassi in straight sets.

5-TIM HENMAN (GBR) VS. MICHAEL TABARA (CZE)

In some way, this has been Henman's finest year. While he failed at Wimbledon once again, he's played up to and almost beyond his potential at other events. He's smart, is the best volleyer in the game (sorry, Roger) and has developed a more than respectable forehand.

Henman's back has been aching all week, but that didn't prevent him from pulling off two difficult wins in his first two matches. He's having trouble bending for low volleys, but given all the treatment he's been receiving, may be feeling much better on Saturday.

Tabara's fine level of play in his five-set upset of Mardy Fish was simply stunning. Yes, Fish stank up the joint, but Tabara was very game and quite impressive from the backcourt. But unless he's in virtual traction, Roland Garros semifinalist Henman doesn't lose matches like this anymore. He has a terrific draw and, if he's maintains his health, is the favorite to come out of his quarter and reach the semis. Henman is a straight-ahead player and usually executes well against lesser players. Unless Tabara passes better than he ever has in his life, Tim will serve, chip and volley his way into the fourth round in straight sets.

7-MARIA SHARAPOVA (RUS) VS. 27-MARY PIERCE (FRA)

The new blonde will face the older blonde in this intriguing contest between one of the originators of "Big Babe Tennis" (Pierce) and the symbol of no-longer-just-a-babe-in-the-woods tennis (Sharapova). Just when we were ready to send Pierce out to pasture, the 29-year-old is coming back with good intentions and a very sound game. As mentioned in this space before, with the multitude of injuries that she encountered in 2000 and 2001 after her French Open run, Pierce will never run with the same sure-footedness again. But she has a very good serve, can still whip returns, is solid and lethal off the ground, and has become quite a good volleyer.

However, she is still vulnerable on the run, which is why she has remained outside of the top 25. But she'll seriously test Sharapova, who has struggled in two three-set victories getting here and who has shown that she is also capable of slipping up when she's on the full stretch. Sharapova showed a lot of spirit in outlasting Laura Granville and Jelena Jankovic, but she's going to have to be much more consistent against Pierce. The Russian must come out firing and never let up, because Pierce lives to dictate and won't try to win this contest by retrieving. Whoever serves and buries her returns with more accuracy will win this contest. It's first strike tennis all the way, and it will be Sharapova who raises Big Babe tennis to another level on Saturday.

11-VENUS WILLIAMS (USA) VS. 20-CHANDA RUBIN (USA)

Two years ago, Rubin had Venus on the ropes in the quarterfinals and let go of the noose up a break in the third set. Had she won that contest, she might have gone on to her first US Open final, where she would have got the attention she craved. But she didn't and, two years later, a knee injury has seriously slowed her progress. Rubin is not the quick and confident all-courter that she was then and, against Venus, will have to be right in her face every moment.

Venus is a complete enigma in this tournament. She has played pretty lousy in the first sets of her two victories and tightened up her game in the second sets. If she was dominant in either of those victories, it wouldn't be too bold to predict a major resurgence from the two-time US Open champion. But before such a prediction can be made, Venus has to play superior tennis for two straight sets against a good player like Rubin. That means far more ambitious serving and attempts at groundstroke winners than she showed against Shikha Uberoi in the second round. Whether Venus has the inner-belief to try to bring out her "A" game again is in serious question. She'll need it against Davenport in the fourth round but will be satisfied with a "B" level performance against Rubin and triumph in three sets.

5-LINDSAY DAVENPORT (USA) V. 26-ELENA BOVINA (RUS)

Speaking of B-levels, Bovina is a B-level version of Davenport, a tall lass with a fairly big serve, strong groundstrokes and a decent volley. But she's nowhere near as accurate as Davenport, doesn't have her cool head, and doesn't stroke the ball as cleanly. These two played here in the quarterfinals two years ago when Bovina played over her head and won the first set, but Lindsay cleaned her clock after that.

While Bovina can be threatening to certain types of elite players, she doesn't have the level to stand in there and play straight up power ball with Davenport. If the American has a down day, she could a drop a set, but the more likely result is that she will win her 20th straight match in two sets.

1-JUSTINE HENIN HARDENNE (BEL) VS. LISA RAYMOND (USA)

After never finishing her rhythm in her difficult three set victory over Tippy Obziler in the first round, Henin is sure to play a much cleaner match here. Yes, Raymond will mix and match as well or better than the Israeli did, but doesn't have a strong enough backhand to push Henin off the court. If the American veteran can serve extremely well and find her way to net, she has a puncher's chance to pull an upset. But Henin is way too strong for her from the backcourt and will win a straight-sets romp.

21- SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA (RUS) VS. AMY FRAZIER (USA)

Can the U.S. women's version of Vince Spadea finally find her top level at a Slam? Maybe, but it might not be good enough to club past Kuznetsova. Frazier will turn 31 in two weeks time and, even though she has taken down a land of giants on hard courts at lesser tournaments, she has remarkably only reached the fourth round twice in 17 years here. Maybe the math teacher to be will get lucky with No. 18, but she better be locked in from ball one, because Kuznetsova is more than capable of running her off the court.

The Russian teen is a better player at this stage and should be able to match Frazier from the ground, but she has been quite erratic this summer, arguably because she has been overplaying. In what should be a terrific contest played away from the main stadiums, Frazier will smoke Kuznetsova in a three-set stunner.

treiber04
Sep 4th, 2004, 03:29 PM
I agree with all the predictions, however I think the Kuznetsova/Frazier may be a bit american-biased :p and I'm glad that Matthew Cronin gives Chanda some credit unlike some people in the tennis world, and especially on this board.

shap_half
Sep 4th, 2004, 03:33 PM
Sveta in 2

treiber04
Sep 4th, 2004, 03:39 PM
I want to see what that "old geezer" has to say about this (Nick) :devil: :p

lizchris
Sep 4th, 2004, 03:42 PM
I agree with all the predictions, however I think the Kuznetsova/Frazier may be a bit american-biased :p and I'm glad that Matthew Cronin gives Chanda some credit unlike some people in the tennis world, and especially on this board.
But he give Venus almost none. To say she played lousy is a little melodramatic. She didn't play well, but she picked up her game and has won all of her matches in straight sets, unlike Sharapova, Capriati, Henin-Hardenne and Mauresmo, all of whom are ranked higher than her and at times, played opponents ranked lower than the opponents Venus has played.

treiber04
Sep 4th, 2004, 03:44 PM
But he give Venus almost none. To say she played lousy is a little melodramatic. She didn't play well, but she picked up her game and has won all of her matches in straight sets, unlike Sharapova, Capriati, Henin-Hardenne and Mauresmo, all of whom are ranked higher than her and at times, played opponents ranked lower than the opponents Venus has played.

Yes but Petra Mandual, and Shika Uberoi...well let's say they're not the toughest opponent's in the whole wide world. Besides of course he gave Venus credit, he just said that if she wants to resurge, she'll have to play welll.

lizchris
Sep 4th, 2004, 03:54 PM
Yes but Petra Mandual, and Shika Uberoi...well let's say they're not the toughest opponent's in the whole wide world. Besides of course he gave Venus credit, he just said that if she wants to resurge, she'll have to play welll.
I expected a tough match against Mandula because Venus beat her 6-4, 6-3 last year on a hardcourt (Miami), but I expected her to do much better against Uberoi. But I can't complain; she is still in the tournament.

TheBoiledEgg
Sep 4th, 2004, 04:18 PM
I want to see what that "old geezer" has to say about this (Nick) :devil: :p
here you are :devil:
http://sport.independent.co.uk/tennis/story.jsp?story=558059


Sharapova has power and movement to eclipse Pierce

Nick Bollettieri



04 September 2004

Maria Sharapova is in uncharted waters here, having reached the third round at Flushing Meadows for the first time. But I'm confident she can sink Mary Pierce this weekend and sail on into the second week of play.

There are two reasons why I believe this will happen: movement and power. The 17-year-old Florida-based Russian, in only her second US Open, can and should dominate the 29-year-old Florida-based Frenchwoman, playing her 12th Open, in both these areas.

Forget big-match experience, forget the advantages of age and physical maturity, forget the locker of Grand Slam appearances Pierce has under her belt. I believe Maria will move Mary from side to side, hauling her ass all over the court, dictating play. The respective physical conditions of the players will allow Maria to do this and mean Mary is at a disadvantage throughout.

Mary's usual recourse would be to power, but Maria also has the upper hand in this area. When her game is functioning, her shots are simply more devastating than Mary's.

I thought it was interesting and instructive to see how Maria progressed through her second-round match against Jelena Jankovic, who like Maria (and Mary before her), has been a long-term student at my academy. Maria started extremely well, totally dominating the first set 6-0. The second set went to a tie-breaker, which included some amazing tennis and a fantastic winner from Maria after a 27-stroke rally.

Yet Jelena won the breaker, which posed the most significant question of the night for Maria: How is your mental toughness today?

The answer was a third-set scoreline of 6-1 and plenty of scorching winners among a bunch of unforced errors that at this stage are not that significant. The key was that Maria felt she was capable of making her shots when they mattered. It wasn't unusual for her to go three sets. It wasn't unusual for her to win in three. She will have the confidence to make the next round.

Talking of confidence, the defending champion, Justine Henin-Hardenne, should have enough to win her third-round match against Lisa Raymond, despite struggling a little in the last round in three sets against Tzipora Obziler. Raymond is basically a doubles player and I feel Henin is too mobile and too versatile to be dropping out yet.

Lindsay Davenport, my starting tip for the women's singles here, should be just too powerful for Elena Bovina in her third-round match but I'm predicting one hell of a contest, a close three-setter, because the Russian girl is playing some unbelievable tennis. I think Davenport will win thanks to the relative weakness of Bovina's second serve.

Whoever gets through that one will play either Venus Williams or Chanda Rubin in the fourth round. For my money, it'll be Venus. I don't think Chanda has a chance against Venus this weekend because she's not fully healthy.

Health will be the key to Tim Henman's progress or failure against Michal Tabara. If Tim's healthy, he wins, I think it's that straightforward. But the big question here is quite how healthy he is, given his problems with his back. The word is that Tim's still hurting, and if that doesn't change, Tabara can do him some damage.

The Czech is tough as hell, a counter-puncher, the kind of player who will inflict damage if Henman's physical condition means that he has to stay back more than he would want to.

Tim's strength is his versatility. His first volley, his killer shot, will be key. His fluidity and ability to execute it are vital. If he's fully fit, he wins.

vogus
Sep 4th, 2004, 04:20 PM
Nick knows way more about tennis than Cronin does.

Wenddy
Sep 4th, 2004, 04:40 PM
Somehow most of the media wants to write Venus off, All of the other top ten players nave had some tough sets, some have even lost sets.Venus is doing fine. That Tracy and Ted are talking about her demenur on court, compairing her to Serena, why the hell are they doing that. Venus and Serena are different people. I would like to know what is wrong with Venus attitude on court that anoyes them. I would like Tracy and Ted to stop their negative remarks about Venus.Tracy was not all that expressive on court. The girl that Serena played was not all that expressive on court, Why not be critical of her as well. I have a strong feeling that the media can't deal with two succesfull Williams sisters. They had better get used to it, because they are here to stay.

Kuti Kis&Monica
Sep 4th, 2004, 04:56 PM
Mary's usual recourse would be to power, but Maria also has the upper hand in this area. When her game is functioning, her shots are simply more devastating than Mary's.
.


:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Declan
Sep 4th, 2004, 05:05 PM
He got Amy's age wrong; she's about to turn 32, not 31.

SWP
Sep 4th, 2004, 05:07 PM
Nick obviously knows what he's talking about!

thelittlestelf
Sep 4th, 2004, 05:15 PM
Nick knows way more about tennis than Cronin does.
That's the truth---but Nick is WAY more annoying!!! That voice makes me cringe.