FRIDAY JUNE 15th
I cannot comment too much on the Italy- Croatia game as I only saw the last twenty minutes and both appeared to settle for the point after the equaliser, but I will watch the first 70 minutes later today. The Irish again conceded early and it was match over from that stage, in a complete mismatch.
I didn't see the start of the opening game, as I was at Queens Club to watch some play from the Aegon Championships, I left before the rain came, but conditions all day were tough, very windy, which I am told didn't really come across on television. I was praying that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was going to come through, as he was really struggling to judge the wind and I wanted to oppose him today, but Ivan Dodig beat him in three close sets and the Croatian, who was clearly in no rush to get off court and watch his country play, handled the conditions much better and now meets Sam Querrey, who won this event in 2010. The American clearly likes it at Queens Club, which suits his big serve, but he has not played much on the surface since, missing much of 2011 after surgery, he had a similarly close battle with Julien Benneteau yesterday. Exchange odds are around 1.45-3.15 in favour of the US player and whilst I would opt for Querrey if forced to choose, I do believe it will be close and that Dodig has a chance, in conditions which are going to be very similar, there is a strong chance of rain and again these swirling winds of around 30km are forecast around the middle of the day. I only saw a few games from Querrey's match, but Dodig appeared to handle the weather better yesterday.
The pair have met once before at Wimbledon in 2010, Querrey came into the game as Queens Club champion, so was clearly near the top of his game and won 6-2 5-7 6-3 7-6, the fourth set tie break went to 22 points and so Dodig, who was performing at a much lower level then, came very close to taking the match into a fifth set. The Croatian player stepped up a level after that, forced his way into the top 100 and last year made the final of a grass court event in s'Hertogenbosch, I looked into that and the tournament was played in very similar conditions with lots of delays for rain. I can understand why these conditions suit him, he is hugely focused and hungry and plays every point as though it is his last. He has a big serve, at Wimbledon he was right up there with Querrey's which is considered one of the biggest on tour and there will be plenty of free points for both today. but he can mix it up more than the US player, on serve I mean and he was prepared to adjust to the conditions yesterday, as opposed to Querrey looking to play through them. I like the "over" 23 games @ 2.0 with Pinnacle Sports....there is some over 22.5 games at 1.80 with two or three bookmakers which is a very similar quote. Dodig is a fighter, he has come up through the ranks and will scrap for every point today, example of those battling qualities is that he beat Rafael Nadal, 1–6, 7–6, 7–6 after recovering from 1–6, 1–3, a situation when most would have given up . He sees a big serve well, won a five setter over Ivo Karlovic and was the only player to take a set off Novak Djokovic at last year's Australian Open.
ENGLAND - SWEDEN
No real holding player for Sweden in the opener and with the suspect defence that we discussed beforehand, they were always going to struggle to keep a cleansheet, this gave Ukraine quite long spells of possession, they broke quickly through Yevhen Konoplyanaka on the left and Andriy Yarmolenko on the opposite flank and the movement of Andriy Voronin and intellegence of Andriy Shevchenko, was the difference between the two teams. Shevchenko got all the plaudits, but Voronin's performance was no less valuable. Despite all this,Sweden were unlucky to lose IMO and Zlatan Ibrahimovic looked what he is, the real class act on show, he could have scored three, should have had two and his clever play dragged Tymoshchuk ( charged with marking Zlatan) all over the pitch, into positions he didn't know existed. Both Ukraine goals came from crosses.....REST OF THE PREVIEW IS RESTRICTED
We have already discussed how the Ukraine goals came against Sweden and having seen England also score from a header, I doubt their tactics will change too much. I suspect they will be looking for a point, probably happy to sit back, let France dominate possession and try and break, get those balls into the box and attempt to steal a goal. France’s midfield was good at retaining possession, but took few chances against England, but they were content with a draw and to simple see out the game and the frightening conditions ,especially with two games coming up in quick succession. What they missed was a .... REST OF THE PREVIEW IS RESTRICTED
US OPEN GOLF
Only six of the 156 man field broke par yesterday and only one, leader Michael Thompson ( who he ?), by more than a single stroke, I hope he enjoys his moment in the limelight, as it will not last long !
The top 60 plus ties and any golfer within ten strokes of the lead will make the cut, at present that would be 108 golfers ( !), which would be a logistical nightmare and could potentially be even worse, as Thompson will surely come back to the field.
However, we have some very big names in danger of missing the cut, which is currently set at +6 , including Rory McIlroy ( defending champion) and Zach Johnson at +7, Bubba Watson and Peter Hanson +8 and Luke Donald +9, right on the cusp at +6 are Lucas Glover ( winner in 2009), Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott.
All of these will want to play the weekend and each will feel a little embarrassed by their opening rounds, so expect them all to be very focused today. Also, whilst +7 sounds and indeed is terrible, it is "only" seven strokes behind 7th place and any under par round today, should get you back into, if not exactly contention, then in position to make a run over the weekend.
Some players have a history of doing this, Luke Glover opened with a 76 last year and then shot 69 in Round 2 and in his championship year of 2009, shot 64 on Friday.
The two I would like to discuss are ....... REST OF THE EMAIL IS RESTRICTED
Above is a censored copy of today's notes, the full edition runs to some 1,800 + words and costs less than a cup of coffee, if you found something of interest in the edited previews above, you would probably benefit greatly from reading the full notes on a daily basis. If you sign up, the June and July copies are free, still some 45 + copies, so delaying your decision is just costing you money.