Like it or not, it's all happening in Cincinnati.
Marion Bartoli, the reigning Wimbledon Champion, has announced her retirement from professional tennis after her second round defeat at Cincinnati. She said the physical toll that game is taking on her is no longer bearable and after the high point at Wimby, the time seemed reasonable. She is about to turn 29 and any return prospects would not be too bright.
Seemingly, the motivation to keep going after the unexpected win at Wimbledon died and she found it best to leave on her career defining high. Her antics of relentless air swings, jumps, fist pumps and unique style of play will be missed on court. And what she will miss, with other things, is of course the opportunity to play the opening women's match at Wimbledon '14 as defending champion. She's done, most likely for good!
The highly anticipated pairing of Maria Sharapova with Jimmy Connors has come to a most abrupt halt. Yes, Maria fired (literally) the legendary Connors after just one WTA match that resulted in her first round loss at Cincy. Well, they also practised a bit together but....it's also over. Talk about giving time to the relationship here. So the highest earning women player enters the US Open without a coach in box. That's some saving!
With all these, Federer returning to his small racket becomes no news at all.
Despite all this, there is some order still left in the tennis circuit. Serena Williams is still winning in Cincinnati. So are, Djokovic, Murray, Federer, Nadal and Del Potro. They have all moved into the Quarters where some potentially explosive face off's are awaiting for Friday.
(1) Rafa vs Rog the 31st - Yes, it comes back. For the first time at QF stage (could not happen at Wimby). Nadal in superb touch. Federer really struggling. Odds not so good anyway in favour of Roger. Hope it becomes one of the 2005-2009 Fed-Nad matches that defines their rivalry.
If you want to watch, it's 4.30 AM by IST on Saturday. Need some fire to get up and see.
(2) Azarenka vs Wozniacki - Both former World No. 1's. Baseline rallies to expect and lots to prove in this contest. And yes, two gorgeous girls in one match too.
(3) Djokovic vs Isner - A resurgent John Isner (normal for American male players in US Swing) dispatches Milos Raonic to meet World No. 1. Serve vs return contest; could really get interesting and might prove to be even better than the first two encounters.
(4) Murray vs Berdych - Only if the Berd comes to the party in form. He is way too off and on. If on, dangerous and can win; if off, well, routine win for Muzz. Murray of course will be consistent.
Enough on the platter for one day, eh?