Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What We've Learned So Far At Roland Garros

Jack Sock appears headed in the right direction, Grigor Dimitrov not so much: This was probably the most appealing first round matchup in the men's draw, as it featured two of the games young(ish) stars.  Sock missed the early part of the year with an injury, but has posted mostly good results since returning to the tour.  Dimitrov is the more established player of the two, but has struggled to live up to his strong 2014 all year.  Despite Dimitrov's status as the 10th seed, this match was largely a toss up coming in.  It wasn't particularly surprising that Sock pulled the upset, but it was surprising how convincingly he beat the 24 year old Bulgarian.  After a tight first set, Sock rolled Dimitrov in the next two.  Sock has a good chance to reach the Round of 16, where he would likely face Rafael Nadal.  For Dimitrov, there's no shame in losing to Sock, but it's concerning how much of a step back he has taken in 2015.  Most people thought Dimitrov would hit his peak when he reached his mid-twenties, as his game is of the type that takes a bit longer to develop.  Now, its looking more like Dimitrov is simply a talented player who is too inconsistent to be taken seriously as a contender.

Eugenie Bouchard's "ability to win matches when it counts" didn't overcome her recent slump:  A lot of tennis commentators praise players who perform well at slams but poorly at regular tour events, because they "raise their games at the biggest stages."  However, generally such success is a result of a small sample size and a little bit of luck (i.e. a couple good draws at the slams), and doesn't change the fact that the player has issues they need to overcome.  If a player isn't having regular success on tour, it's highly unlikely they will continue to "raise their games" at the slams.  We saw this with Sloane Stephens a few years ago, and are seeing it with Eugenie Bouchard now.  Bouchard has barely won matches on tour this year, and she fell first round to a player ranked outside the top 40.  Bouchard very well may figure it out and turn everything around, but she's going to have to raise her level of play significantly before she starts having serious success at the slams again. 

Gulbis can win matches after all-just don't make him play anyone in the top 100:  Some people like Gulbis because he's got a different personality from the Big Four, and isn't afraid to speak his mind.  Others find his act tiresome, and aren't a fan of his antics.  Either way, it's hard to deny that tennis is a little more interesting when he's around.  Gulbis' draw was as easy as they come, and he took advantage by winning his first round match.  Maybe all he needed was an easy match to remember how it feels to win, and perhaps he will grow in confidence as the tournament goes on.  If anyone would go from barely winning matches all year to making a deep run at a grand slam, Gulbis is your guy. 

These young guys can play- but really we already knew that:  It's no secret that the current group of 17-20 year olds is very deep, and we finally have a group of emerging young stars worth paying attention to.  Several have won matches so far at Roland Garros, including Thanasi Kokkinakis, Borna Coric, Kyle Edmund and Nick Kyrgios.  A host of others teenagers are on their way up, and it won't be long before this current crop is making their presence known on the ATP Tour.     

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