RG13 Week one round up – inc Haas, Nadal, Williams and that Brit you’ve never heard of…

By Philip James

British flag flown alone by that guy you’ve never heard of

Ok, so if you follow British tennis, or this website for that matter, you know all about Dominic Inglot, but a lot of people don’t, including most of the journalists covering the French Open for the major UK broadcasters.

Important things to know about Dominic; he’s 27, 6 foot 5, born and lives in London, he’s at a career high ranking of 37 and the third highest ranked British men’s doubles player behind Jonny Marray and Colin Fleming. 37th is almost 40 places higher than Marray was this time last year just before he won Wimbledon and indeed Inglot and Treat Huey (Inglot’s regular partner) beat Marray and Freddie Nielsen in the final of the Nottingham Challenger two weeks before Wimbledon. Inglot and Huey also reached the final of last week’s Power Horse Cup in Düsseldorf, beating the team of Fleming and Marray on the way.

He’s good is the gist of what I am trying to say here. With the points he is collecting this week, coupled with the points Marray will drop unless he successfully defends his Wimbledon title, Inglot could soon be the second or top British doubles player. We are blessed to have so many good doubles players in the men’s game at the moment.

The best of the rest of the Brits….

Well, we always knew clay wasn’t our surface right? With no Andy Murray, the singles focus fell on the ladies and Heather Watson, Laura Robson and Elena Baltacha. Such had been the contrasting form of Robson and Caroline Wozniacki, the Brit was actually many people’s favourite here despite the 27 ranking places between them. But Laura missed several early chances to take the lead and the ‘old’ Wozniacki emerged and used her experience to out play a Robson who showed some inexperience. Watson was returning from injury and suffered first round defeat in each of the singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles, but took each match to a deciding set. Her mixed doubles match with Marray was particularly agonising. Baltacha started well against Erakovic but was bageled in the second set. Meanwhile Robson pulled out of the women’s doubles due to a bad back and we all hope she is fit for Wimbledon.

There was first round disappointment in the men’s doubles for Fleming and Marray as well as Ken Skupski. Jamie Murray and his Australian partner John Peers had an impressive first round win over the 15th seeds but then lost to the same Columbian pairing as Skupski, despite leading by two breaks in the third set. Fleming also lost the first round of the mixed doubles.

Nadal, Djokie, Ferrer and Fed all untroubled but unconvincing.

When you have Nadal’s record at Roland Garros, it takes a lot for you not to be the favourite, but at the present time, he’s probably not. By his own admission he is still not 100% and has played 50 matches this season despite missing all of January and leads the Race to London rankings (Caldender year rather than last 12 months).

But Nadal has been less than convincing so far this week, dropping the opening set to Daniel Brands and Martin Klizan whilst making some un-Nadal like complaints in his press conferences. Still, he is Rafa.

Novak has swept past Goffin, Pella and Dimitrov with ease but was never really tested, Dimitrov once again showing why has has failed to live up to his hype and potential.

Ferrer and Federer are doing their usual on clay – beating everyone they should up until they face either Rafa or Novak. Federer has Giles Simon up next who he dispatched with ease in Rome in May but Tsonga after that which will be tough. Ferrer (beating Kevin Anderson with ease at time of writing) will expect to get to the semis and face either Federer or Tsonga.

Novak and Rafa are in the same half of the draw so the semi-final could be the de facto final. That could be good news for Djokovic who needs the French Open title to complete his career grand slam. Nadal and Federer have each achieved this but Federer needed Soderling to beat a below par Nadal for him to clear the way. Novak has no such luck but may find it easier to beat Rafa away from the stage of the RG final. Rafa leads their clay head-to-head 12-3 but they are 3-3 in the last six and Novak won their last encounter.

But don’t discount Tommy Haas. That’s right, Tommy Haas. After beating Isner (see below) he only has to recover enough to beat Youzhny to earn a shot at Djokovic whom he has already beaten this year, all be it on a hard court.

So Isner just cannot win (or lose) quickly….

After John Isner won the longest ever match against Mahut back at Wimbledon 2010, he signed numerous advertising deals which played on the fact that he had won ‘the marathon match.’

We could be forgiven for believing that it’s written into those deals that he needs to frequently re-demonstrate this ability given the matches he gets involved in. After taking three hours and 50 minutes to beat Ryan Harrison in round two, his next match, the very next day, against Haas lasted four hours and 36 minutes! Haas played his part though, taking only 3 of 23 break points and letting 12 match points go begging (including one on his own serve which he doubles faulted on) before he but the tall American away. This is not even unusual for Isner….gotta keep those sponsors happy!!

Can anyone beat Serena Williams?

Yes. Who? Serena Williams.

In the form she is in, it only way it seems she will lose is through a mental lapse. She has dropped six games in three matches so far. The form and mood she has been in this year she has been unstoppable. Maybe Azarenka or Sharapova have the game to beat her on the hard court, but not on clay. We hope we are proved wrong and someone makes a fight of it…. but nobody has really for the last 27 matches, the length of Serena’s winning streak.