Thursday, August 17, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Children of The Divide by Patrick S. Tomlinson

This is a review of Children of the Divide, the third book in the Children of a Dead Earth series by Patrick S. Tomlinson, which began with The Ark and Trident's Forge

It's interesting that the word "children" plays such a central role in the description of the series and in particular in the title of the third book  Children of the Divide. I had thought that the use of this word was primarily metaphorical but by definition children are living representations of the future and even though the series is set far in the future from the reader's point of view, the central idea of the entire series so far is about the future of humanity and the use of "children" emphasizes this.

The first book was about the end of the 200-year journey of a generation ship ("The Ark") from an Earth (which was destroyed by a deliberately targeted black hole) to a new home planet named Gaia in the star system Tau Ceti. The second book (Trident's Forge) is about first contact between the humans and intelligent but technologically underdeveloped aliens and the growing pains associated with colonization as humanity adapts to living on a planet after only knowing life in an artificial environment.

Children of the Divide, the third book in the series builds on this background by focusing on the difficulties and conflicts that arise 15 years after the events of the second book. The human colony is more established and intertwined with the aliens (called Atlantians, after the name of the continent they are mostly found in).

However, in this book the story primarily revolves around inter-generational and cultural conflict, human-Atlantis, father-son and parents-adopted child.

One key feature of this book which seemed to be executed more effectively this time than in the second book, was the depiction of the gender-neutral nature of the aliens. In Trident's Forge, this seemed like an unnecessary affectation but for some reason in the third book the regular use of ze/zer/zers to describe the main character of Benexx, an Atlantian teenager works well. (It may just be that as a reader I have grown more accustomed to the idea of of non-binary gender identities since I read Trident's Forge.)

Other key developments in the story involve the discovery of an alien artifact, a terrorist attack on the anniversary of First Contact, an important kidnapping and a violent riot between aliens and humans.

Overall, this was a thrilling entry in the series. These books are a compelling combination of science fiction and mystery thriller. I thought the Children of a Dead Earth series was a trilogy but it seems like there will be more books forthcoming as there are developments at the end of the third book which raise issues that question the existential premises the story is based upon.

Title: Children of the Divide (Children of a Dead Earth, #3).
Patrick S. Tomlinson.
Paperback: 400 pages.
Date Published: August 1, 2017.
Date Read: August 6, 2017.


OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.83/4.0).


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

REPORT: No Educational Achievement Gap Between Multiracial and White Students

A new report published by the Brookings Institute, a liberal think-tank in Washington D.C. claims that there is educational gap between multiracial and white students. This would seem to contradict the race-based theories  trying to explain the achievement gaps which are often found when one analyzed educational attainment data through a racial and ethnic lens.

Here's an excerpt from the report, authored by Jonathan Rothwell, an Economist who works at Gallup

Despite the growing number of multiracial students, almost no attention has been given to their educational outcomes. But gaining a better understanding of how multiracial students perform may cast useful light on the causes of race gaps more generally. My analysis shows that:
1.    Students of multiracial identity are from families with lower socioeconomic status than whites; 
2.    They attend schools that are far more integrated with whites and Asians compared to blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, and Pacific Islanders 
3.    Multiracial students have the same average test scores as whites on math, science, and writing; 
4.    For reading tests, multiracial students outperform other groups, including Asians; and 
5.    These results contradict the controversial hypothesis that between group differences in IQ result from genetic differences between races.
These findings suggest that the race gaps in academic achievement in the United States are the result of inequality, especially in terms of access to educational opportunities, and therefore could be closed under fairer political, social, and economic arrangements.
This is just more evidence about the socially constructed nature of race and the arbitrariness of racial categories. If "white"

Monday, August 14, 2017

EYE CANDY: Nathan Owens (3rd time!)

Nathan Owens has appeared as Eye Candy before (June 12, 2017 and March 14, 2011). According to Model Mayhem, Nathan is 33 years old, 6-foot-2 and 184 pounds. And hella phyne.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

2017 HUGO AWARDS: Jemisin Wins 2nd (Consecutive) Best Novel Award

The 2017 Hugo awards were announced last night in Helsinki, Finland and N.K. Jemisinlast year's winner for The Fifth Season, won again, for the second book in her Broken Earth trilogy, The Obelisk Gate. Jemisin, who last year became the first African-American woman to win the prestigious best novel award, has now won two in a row, the first time that has happened since Lois McMastr Bujold won in 1991 and 1992 for two entries in her longrunning Vorkosigian saga, which won the new category of Best Series this year.

When I looked at the Hugo award nominations for Best Novel this year, my choice for the win would have been Cixin Liu's At Death's End. However, Jemisin would probably be my second choice, so this is a happy result! Jemisin was not present in Helsinki to accept her award, so my childhood friend, Dr. Karen Lord, a successful science fiction writer in her own right, accepted on her behalf (see picture at the top of this post)!

Book 3 in Jemisin's Broken Earth series, The Stone Sky, will be released on Tuesday August 15.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

MadProfessah is on vacation

Posting may be even more intermittent than usual as I am now on vacation in Europe (southern Italy and Berlin, Germany) for the next week or so.

Check out my Instagram and Twitter pages for more frequent updates.

Monday, July 31, 2017

EYE CANDY: Jovan Campbell (black/white)

Jovan Campbell has appeared as Eye Candy before (May 1, 2017 and June 26, 2017). According to his Model Mayhem profile page he is 28 years old 160 pounds and 5-foot-10. He is West Indian but lives in New York City now. You should follow him on Instagram @ironaddictjovan.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

MAP: Trump's Approval Rating Varies Greatly By Stae

It is well-known that Donald Trump has historically low approval ratings, especially for a newly elected president. However, what may not be recognized is the geographical variation in his approval ratings. There are 17 states where Trump is above majority support averaged over the first 6 months of his presidency, according to Gallup. There are also 17 states where his approval average is below 40%!
President Donald Trump, who has averaged 40% job approval since his inauguration, received approval ratings of 50% or higher in 17 states in the first half of 2017. Residents in an equal number of states gave him approval ratings below 40%. In 16 states, his ratings ranged between 40% and 49%.

Hat/tip to Axios

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

COPYCAT! Exactly 1 Year After Federer Did It, Djokovic Ends Season Early

Exactly one year (to the day) after Roger Federer announced the end of his 2016 season on July 26 to recover from a knee injury, Novak Djokovic has repeated the action by announcing today he will not play again in 2017.

He announced his decision on his website and Facebook:
“All the doctors I’ve consulted, and all the specialists I have visited, in Serbia and all over the world, have agreed that this injury requires rest. A prolonged break from the sport is inevitable. I’ll do whatever it takes to recover. I will use the upcoming period to strengthen my body and also to improve certain tennis elements that I have not been able to work on over the past years, due to a demanding schedule. Five months may seem long from this point, but I’m sure they will pass quickly because there is so much I want to do. Another important moment is coming, we will become parents for a second time. My wife Jelena and I are expecting our second child, and we are preparing to welcome a new family member. These are things that fill me with greatest happiness and delight. I’m confident I will be ready for start of the new season."
This means that Djokovic's streak of 51-consecutive majors played will end and he will miss the 2017 US Open where he has played in the final 6 of the last 7 years (winning twice: in 2015 d. Federer and 2011 d. Nadal).

World #1 Andy Murray is also expected to possibly curtail his season (presumably after the US Open) and cede the race to the ear-end #1 to a thrilling battle between Federer and Nadal. It also means that Federer is now probably the prohibitive favorite for the 2017 US Open, and the chances of a Federer-Nadal match at that tournament (which has never happened) increase.

Friday, July 21, 2017

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Maryam Mirzakhani, Only Female Fields Medalist, Has Died

Maryam Mirzakhani, Stanford mathematics full professor and Fields medalist, died last Friday July14 of breast cancer at the age of 40.  The Fields medal is the highest international honor in Mathematics (the equivalent of a Nobel prize) and Mirzakhani was the first (and only woman) to have received the award.

The loss of Mirzakhani (at such an early age) has stunned the mathematics community and resulted in a deluge of press. Here's an excerpt from the New York Times obituary:

Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian mathematician who was the only woman ever to win a Fields Medal, the most prestigious honor in mathematics, died on Friday. She was 40.
The cause was breast cancer, said Stanford University, where she was a professor. The university did not say where she died.
Her death is “a big loss and shock to the mathematical community worldwide,” said Peter C. Sarnak, a mathematician at Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study.
The Fields Medal, established in 1936, is often described as the Nobel Prize of mathematics. But unlike the Nobels, the Fields are bestowed only on people aged 40 or younger, not just to honor their accomplishments but also to predict future mathematical triumphs. The Fields are awarded every four years, with up to four mathematicians chosen at a time.
She will be  missed!

Monday, July 17, 2017

EYE CANDY: Micquel Wright

Micquel Wright is a British bodybuilder. He has his own website at and is also on Instagram and Facebook. His website seems to suggest that he is 30 years old but I can't find information on his height and weight, although it probably varies widely depending on whether he is in training for  a bodybuilding competition or not. Regardless, I think you can see why he would be a good choice for this week's Eye Candy.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

2017 WIMBLEDON: Federer Wins Record 8th Wimbledon (19th Major!)

As I predicted, Roger Federer defeated Marin Cilic in the Wimbledon Gentlemen's Singles championship match. Federer  at age 35 won the match  6-3 6-1 6-4 to claim his 19th grand slam title and record-setting 8th Wimbledon title. Even more incredibly, Federer became the oldest Wimbledon champion in the modern era and the second man (after Bjorn Borg did it  1976) to win the title without dropping a set.

Federer has now won 2 majors in 2017 (2017 Australian Open and 2017 Wimbledon) and has an astonishing record of 31-2 for the year and added 5 ATP tour titles (Melbourne, Indian Wells, Miami, Halle, London)  to bring his career haul to 93 titles.
He is 9-0 against fellow Top 10 players and will rise to #3 in the ATP rankings on Monday. He is #2 in the year-long race to the year-end tour championships in London, a mere 500 points behind Rafael Nadal and has zero points to defend for the rest of the year, which means if he really wants it, he could very likely end the year at World #1. If he does so, he would become the oldest player to reach #1, eclipsing Andre Agassi who was 33 when he was #1, and he would tie Pete Sampras' record of six year-end #1's.

2017 WIMBLEDON: Men's Final Preview (and Semifinals Review)

Here are my predictions for the men's final at the Wimbledon Championships for 2017. Last year I correctly predicted Andy Murray would defeat Milos Raonic in the men's final.  This year I correctly predicted 2 of 2 men's semifinals2 of 2 women's semifinals4 of 4 this year's women's quarterfinals and 2 of 4 men's quarterfinals. I also incorrectly predicted that Venus Williams would beat Garbine Muguruza in the women's final this year.

Marin Cilic (CRO) [7] d. Sam Querrey (USA) [24] 6-7(8) 6-4 7-6(3) 7-5. Sam Querrey was playing in his very first major semifinal after defeating the World #1 and defending champion Andy Murray in the round before. Unfortunately, in this important match he had to face someone in Marin Cilic whom he had never beaten before (in four meetings). Although Cilic ended up losing that first set tiebreaker because his backhand started to going off, he was able to get an early service break in the second set. The third set was key and when Cilic was able to win it fairly easy in a tiebreak you thought that might signal quick end to the match. However, Querrey broke early in the 4th set and a fifth set seemed imminent until out of nowhere Cilic broke back to level the set at 4-all and eventually broke Querrey to reach his first Wimbledon final.

Roger Federer (SUI) [3] dTomas Berdych (CZE) [11] 7-6(4) 7-6(4) 6-4. This scores does not quite reflect how ultimately competitive this match was. Federer was up a break in the first set and was expected to maintain the lead and run away with the first when Berdych surprisingly broke back and it was only through very good luck and opportunistic aggression that Federer won the first set tiebreak. In the second set, Berdych was actually the better player but again somehow Federer was able to sneak out the second set in a tiebreaker. Then with a 2-0 set lead Federer was able to up his aggression and earn a break which he could use to ensure success in the 3rd and final set.


I have no doubt that Marin Cilic will indeed win Wimbledon someday. The question is, will that day be Sunday July 16 2017? It is very possible. He has impeccable grass bonafides. Cilic had 4th set match points against Federer last year in the quarterfinals but lost that set and then the match in the fifth set. He is playing excellent grass court tennis and has reached the quarterfinals or better for four years in a row here at Wimbledon and had very deep runs in both grass court warm-up tournaments he played in. However, Federer is clearly the most accomplished grass court player of all time. he has the most grasscourt victories of any active player and he has planned his entire year (by missing the entire clay court season) to maximize his chances at winning Wimbledon. He has reached the final by not dropping a set, although he has played 5 tiebreaks and won all of them. I suspect there will be at least one tiebreak against Cilic and hopefully Federer's luck will hold or else things could get complicated. However, I do think that if it does get deep into a 5th set Federer will prevail (even though overall Federer does not have a great 5-set record, primarily because he  usually wins his grand slam matches easily enough so that he doesn't have a lot of experience playing them). But Federer's 2009 win over Andy Roddick and his 2017 win over Rafael Nadal are evidence that Federer can do well in tight situations. I didn't like how irritated Federer got when he got so much resistance and excellent play from Berdych. I suspect he will be mentally and physically prepared for Cilic to do well and does not expect this match to be easy. If you had told Federer that he would be able to reach the Wimbledon final without having to face any of the other members of the Big Four he would take that bet in a second. Although lots of people expect Federer to win this match to win his 8th Wimbledon title and 19th major, it must be noted that he has lost the last two Wimbledon finals he played, in 2015 and 2014 (both to Novak Djokovic). However, there's a reason why Federer has a 6-1 head-to-head lead over Cilic, but it must be noted that they have only played once since Cilic won his major title at the 2014 US Open which included a blistering straight sets win over Federer in the semifinals. That being said, I believe Federer will find a way to prevail.  PREDICTION: Federer.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

2017 WIMBLEDON: Muguruza Wins 2nd Major, Denying Venus her 8th

In a surprisingly one-sided result, Garbiñe Muguruza won her first Wimbledon singles title by defeating 5-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams 7-5 6-0. It's Muguruza's 2nd major title, and curiously both have come with victories over Williams sisters (in 2016 she beat Serena in the French Open final). Bizarrely, the 23-year-old Spaniard has only won four WTA titles in her career and not even reached a final since winning the French 13 months ago. Many people have noted that Muguruza was coached here by the only other Spanish woman to win Wimbledon, Conchita Martinez, who won her title by denying Martina Navratilova her bid to become the oldest Wimbledon Ladies champion in 1994 at age 37, which just happens to be the age of Muguruza's opponent today.

The match was an odd one. For the first 8 games it was nervy but high quality tennis, with both players saving multiple breakpoints. Finally in the 10th game Venus had two breakpoints which were set points at 4-5 15-40 and they had a 19-stroke rally where they exchanged forehands. Up to that point Muguruza had been spraying forehands by several feet out of the court but she bore down and it was Venus who blinked, hitting a shot into the net. On the second set point, Muguruza got a great first serve and Venus missed the forehand return long. Once those set points were gone, Muguruza continued with the strong serving, won that game and, as often happens, once she had saved break points she earned opportunities to break in Venus' next service game. However, now the Venus of LAST year had returned, and her forehand form started breaking down, as she was hitting it both VERY long and also into the net. As Garbiñe's form went up, Venus' went down and Venus ended up not winning another game, losing 9 in a row in the stretch to lose her 9th major final 5-7, 0-6. There have only been 5 bagel sets in women's final in the Open era.

Although the final result was disappointing for her,  it was still an amazing result for Venus to reach 2 major finals in the same year, after an 8-year drought of numerous first round losses. For Muguruza, she will return to World #5 in the WTA rankings, with Venus returning to World #9. Having won two majors in two years, Muguruza has demonstrated that she has the game (and mental strength) to be a force in women's tennis as the end of the Williams era of domination comes closer.

Friday, July 14, 2017

2017 WIMBLEDON: Women's Final Preview (and Semifinals Review)

Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) [14] d. Magadalena Rybarikova (RUS) 6-1 6-1. This match ended up being more of a mismatch, as Muguruza was ruthlessly aggressive, repeatedly approaching the net to control the outcome of the point. The result of the match was also negatively impacted by the fact that Rybarikova was a bit overwhelmed by the occasion of playing in her first major semifinal and thus was unable to take advantage of her excellent return game. It was over in under an hour.

Venus Williams (USA) [10] dJohanna Konta (GBR) [6] 6-4 6-2This was expected to be a hard-fought, high-quality match with an uncertain outcome. For the first set it lived up to that billing, with Venus sneaking out the set after boldly saving two breakpoints (one with a 106 mph second unreturnable serve!) and an untimely Konta wobble.  Although Venus had one one ace (compared to Konta's 9) she won far more points by using well-timed body serves that Konta could not seem to handle at all. Some people said it was Venus's most impressive match of the tournament (I would argue that her straight sets dismissal of the reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the quarterfinal was even more significant.) Venus is still hitting winners from every part of the court, but her error count was strikingly low, which demonstrates how well she is playing.

Women's Final Preview
The Williams sisters have won the Wimbledon title 12 of the last 17 years with only Petra Kvitova, Maria Sharapova, Amelie Mauresmo and Marion Bartoli breaking up their dominance. However, Venus has not been here since 2009, while Muguruza last played in the Wimbledon final in 2015. Head-to-head, Venus leads 3-1 but lost the last time they played, on clay in Rome. This was the first match that they played after Muguruza had become a major champion in her own right. 

Most people think that this is a very hard match to predict and I agree that I believe it will be close but I still think the person who is playing in their 16th career major final  (7W-8L) has an edge over the person playing in their 3rd career major final (1W-1L record). It is true that the last time there was such a sentimental favorite playing in a surprise Wimbledon final was 1994. That was Martina Navratilova against Conchita Martinez. In a shock, the Spanish clay courter beat the 9-time Wimbledon champion, denying Martina her 19th major title. Interestingly, Martinez is now coaching Garbine as she tries to deny a 5-time Wimbledon champion her 8th major title.

Looking at the x's and o's Venus is simply playing better tennis than Garbine. She is hitting more winners and aces than her opponent in the first six rounds and her forehand, which used to be a liability is now her weapon. Look out!

MadProfessah's prediction: Venus.

2017 WIMBLEDON: Men's Semifinals Preview

Here are my predictions for the men's semifinals at the Wimbledon Championships for 2017. Last year I correctly predicted 1 of 2 men's semifinals and correctly predicted 2 of 2 women's quarterfinals. This year I correctly predicted 2 of 2 women's semifinals4 of 4 this year's women's quarterfinals and 2 of 4 men's quarterfinals

Andy Murray (GBR) [1] Sam Querrey (USA) [24] vs Marin Cilic (CRO) [7].  For the second year in a row, American Sam Querrey pulled off the biggest upset of his career on tennis' grandest stage, by defeating the current World #1 and defending Wimbledon champion. Last year it was Novak Djokovic and this year it was Andy Murray.  He became the first America male player to reach a major semifinal since Andy Roddick did it here in 2009 when he lost an epic final to Federer. Querrey can now make a claim to being the most successful American male player of his generation. He will face Marin Cilic, who took 5 sets to eliminate Gilles Muller, the lefty serve-and-volleyer who had cracked open the draw with a 15-13 5th set win over Rafael Nadal on Monday.Cilic is a dangerous grass court player and although he owns an undefeated 4-0 head-to-head lead over Querrey, the two played the second longest men's match in Wimbledon history 5 years ago when Cilic prevailed 17-15 in the fifth. Despite never having beaten Cilic, Querrey has a reasonable chance to cause the upset. No one expects him to win, so he really should be able to play the tension-free tennis which saw him beat two World #1's at Wimbledon in two years (altough to be fairthere is no question that Murray was literally hobbled by a hip injury which reduced his mobility and service power). Querrey's matches with Cilic have actually been rather closely fought affairs, and although Cilic has been playing well, so has Sam, and he's got the firepower to defeat the Croat, who realizes this is an amazing opportunity for him to reach a second major final and perhaps "pull a Stan Wawrinka" and sneak another major title. PREDICTION: Cilic.

Roger Federer (SUI) [3] vs. Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1]Tomas Berdych (CZE) [11]. This is quite an unlikely match-up since basically everyone had pencilled in a Djokovic-Federer clash in this semifinal when the draw came out, an expected reprise of the 2014 and 2015 Wimbledon finals. But after going down a set and a break, Djokovic retired with an arm injury, giving Berdych his 3rd win in 28 matched played against the Serb. Berdych also has a pretty horrible head-to-head record with Federer too (6W-18L) but he does have a win over Federer at Wimbledon (in 2010) and has beaten Federer in majors at important moments. But Federer beat Berdych in Australia (in the 3rd round) and the ease with which he did that was the signal to his myriad fans that  he was not going to take long to resume his place at the top of men's tennis after his 6-month sabbatical. I would be shocked if this semifinal is the more interesting of the two. Federer has yet to drop a set in this year's tournament, but that is primarily because he has had a lot of extraordinarily god luck in tiebreakers. Almost certainly Federer will be making records again, reaching his 11th final at Wimbledon (7-3) and 29th overall (18-10) record. He is playing in his 42nd major semifinal (and has a 28-13 record).  PREDICTION: Federer.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

2017 WIMBLEDON: Women's Semifinals Preview

Here are my predictions for the women's semifinals at the Wimbledon Championships for 2017. Last year I correctly predicted 1 of 2 men's semifinals and correctly predicted 2 of 2 women's quarterfinals. This year I correctly predicted 4 of 4 this year's women's quarterfinals and 2 of 4 men's quarterfinals.

Magadalena Rybarikova (RUS) vs. Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) [14]. This is the first time Rybarikova has been past the 4th round of a major and she is all the way to the 6th round, which is quite impressive. She has previously been a runner up in the Girl's Wimbledon title (losing to Caroline Wozniacki) its so she clearly knows her way around a grass court.  Data shows that even though she does not have a huge serve she has one of the most effective return games, winning more than 50% of breakpoints.The problem with that is if she faces an excellent server (like Muguruza) she may not get very many opportunities to break. In fact, Muguruza has already dispatched two 2-time major champions in her last two round (Angie Kerber and Sveta Kuznetsova) so I seriously doubt that an unseeded player having the match of her life will prevent the 2015 Wimbledon finalist from returning to the Ladies championship match again this year. PREDICTION: Muguruza.

Venus Williams (USA) [10] vs. Johanna Konta (GBR) [6]This has a strong likelihood of being a scorcher of a match. Konta leads the head-to-head 3-2 but the two have never met on grass. In their very first meeting in November 2015 these two played one of the best matches of the year in Wuhan, and it was his performance that put Konta on the map for me, which was compounded when she summarily dismissed Venus in the first round of the Australian Open a few months later on her way to reaching her first major semifinal. Konta has had many of her biggest career moments mediated by a showdown with Venus. She won her first WTA title at Stanford beating Venus and she beat Venus (in the semifinals) on the way to winning the Miami Open this year. So it is probably not surprising she has to get through Venus to reach her first major final. Prior to last year Venus had never lost in a Wimbledon semifinal, but she still has a pretty impressive 7-1 record as she is trying to reach her 9th Wimbledon final (5-3 record). One interesting factor will be the British crowd, will they really be able to rot so heartily against a 37-year-old 5-time Wimbledon champion for an Australian-born player who just became a citizen 3 years ago? I suspect some in the Centre Court audience will be torn, and then the  question will be what impact will less than unanimous support have on Konta? Just looking at the level of play to reach this point one would have to give an edge to Venus since she still has not lost a set, while Konta has repeatedly had to come back from deficits to remain in the tournament. I do worry that if Venus loses a set (which I am almost certain that she will do) she won't have the wherewithal to gut out a 3rd. Hopefully, she won't have to, and she will continue to play the majestic tennis that has gotten her to this point. PREDICTION: Venus.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2017 WIMBLEDON: Men's Quarterfinals Preview

Here are my predictions for the men's quarterfinals at the Wimbledon Championships for 2017. Last year I correctly predicted 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals and correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals. I also predicted 4 of 4 this year's women's quarterfinals.

Andy Murray (GBR) [2] vs. Sam Querrey (USA) [24].  The defending champion has looked stronger every round (except for when he faced an on fire Fabio Fognini in the 3rd round and nearly dropped two sets). His draw is actually not too bad, since he plays Sam Querrey, a person he has not lost to in nearly 7 years, instead of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga[12] or Stan Wawrinka[6]. And with Nadal's absence from the draw he will not have to face another member of the Big 4 until the final, which is something no one would expected at the beginning of the tournament. Somehow Murray is finding a way to get to the business ends of these slams even though he is not playing anywhere near his best tennis. Hopefully, he can summon his best when he needs it.  PREDICTION: Murray.

Marin Cilic (CRO) [7] vs.  Rafael Nadal (ESP) [4] Gilles Muller (LUX) [16].The veteran from Luxembourg just had the biggest win of his career, beating the 15-time major champion in a 28-game deciding fifth set where he outhit, outplayed and outlasted Rafael Nadal! There's no doubt he will have a letdwn, the only question is will it matter. Cilic is playing some of his best tennis, reminiscent of the form he displayed in 2014 on his way to claiming his first major in New York City. There's no question that he is good on grass (he has not dropped a set so far) and he is in his 3rd consecutive quarterfinal at the all-England Club. Muller has not beaten Cilic in two meetings, and even lost to him just a few weeks on grass in the semifinals of Queens. I expect a similar result  on Wednesday. PREDICTION: Cilic.

Roger Federer (SUI) [3] vs. Milos Raonic (CAN) [6]. This is a reprise of last year's blockbuster Wimbledon semifinal, which despite Federer's distinct head-to-head advantage (which is now 9-3 but last year was 9-1). This year Federer is in a very different position than he was last year. He has only lost two matches all year (and had a match point in every match he played). Last year, he had barely recovered from a freak knee injury which  is very different from where he is this year. And Raonic is also in a different position. He has not had a very good 2017, and he has a huge number of points to defend since he reached the final here last year. He has been playing as if he has a lot to lose, not like he has a lot to gain. Federer has still not dropped a set in the tournament, and with Nadal out of the tournament I believe he will feel less pressure to succeed.  PREDICTION: Federer.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs. Tomas Berdych (CZE) [11]. The head-to-head is overwhelmingly in Novak's favor, an astonishing 25-2 (which includes)12 in a row spanning back to 2013. It's amazing these two have met so often on the tour and pretty surprising that Novak has such a decisive edge. One thing which could raise some doubts is that Berdych has beaten him at Wimbledon before, in 2010 but at this point the match-up is mental and that's unlikely to change in a hurry. PREDICTION: Djokovic.

Monday, July 10, 2017

2017 WIMBLEDON: Women's Quarterfinals Preview

Here are my predictions for the women's quarterfinals at the Wimbledon Championships for 2017. Last year I correctly predicted 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals and correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals. I will also predict this year's men's quarterfinals.

Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) [7] vs. Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) [14] Angelique Kerber (GER) [1]. The 2015 Wimbledon finalist took out the 2016 Wimbledon finalist and World #1 Angie Kerber in a high-quality 4th round match that was decided 6-4 in the third set. She will face Kuznetsova who still has not dropped a set through four rounds of world-class  grass competition. The Russian has not done well on grass in the past and has a 1-3 head-to-head against the Spaniard. This does not bode well for the 2-time major champion to reach her 1st Wimbledon semifinal, and does it make it likely the Spaniard is on her way to reaching her 2nd Wimbledon final in three years. PREDICTION: Muguruza.

Magadalena Rybarikova (RUS)  vs. Coco Vandeweghe (USA) [24] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) [5]. For the second time American Coco Vandeweghe has reached the final 8 at Wimbledon, following up on her breakout major semifinal in Australia earlier this year. She is another player who has yet to drop a set this year, and she just dismissed the #5 player in the world, Caroline Wozniacki to reach the quarterfinals. On paper it would seem that having to face the only unseeded quatrerfinalist, #87 Rybarikova would be an advantage. However, its always about match-ups and  this match-up is apparently a bad one for Coco since she lost to Rybarikova last month in Paris and also last year on grass at Birmingham. My heart wants the American to reach her 1st Wimbledon semifinal, but my head thinks Rybarikova is probably going to maintain her winning streak. PREDICTION: Rybarikova.

Venus Williams (USA) [10] vs. Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) [13]This should be the most important match up of the 4 quarterfinal matches. Is the shock 2017 French Open winner really at the very top of the women's game? Can the 20-year-old from Latvia beat the 5-time Wimbledon champion on her best surface, one year after Venus reached another Wimbledon semifinal, her 9th of her career (8-1 record). If Ostapenko does win this match, she will end all the whispers about her French Open title being a fluke, and will announce the arrival of a major force in women's tennis. In fact, just by reaching the quarterfinals in the tournament after her first major win puts her in the company of legends like Kim Clijsters. If Venus wins this match then I would expect her to reach her 9th Wimbledon final and 2nd major final for the year, an amazing feat at the age of 36. PREDICTION: Venus.

Simona Halep (ROU) [2] vs. Johanna Konta (GBR) [6]This should be a blockbuster quarterfinal between the two players closest in rank. As I said before, it's all about a match-up between two players and Konta leads Halep 2-0 in their head-to-head, although both encounters have been nail-biting 3-set wins. Konta is now the odds-makers favorite to win the title, which is sort f shocking considering there are four other major champions remaining in the draw and that Konta is yet to reach her first major final. Happily for Britain's chances at ending a 3-decade drought of a British female Wimbledon champion, those major champions are going head to head in two of the four quarterfinalists, so this should make the path for Konta bit easier, but to win the title she could have to beat 3 Top 10 players in a row. PREDICTION: Konta.


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