Saturday, June 22, 2019
Weekend Tennis: Grass Finals Set: Federer-Goffin, Lopez-Simon, Barty-Georges, Kenin-Bencic (Birmingham)
The grass court season (which is basically a month long) is in full swing. Wimbledon starts July 1 but nutil then there's a fair number of warm-up tournaments going on, generally in Europe. This weekend there are finals in London (Queen's Club), Birmingham, Halle and Mallorca.
HALLE: FEDERER FACES DAVID GOFFIN IN RECORD THIRTEENTH FINAL
Roger Federer is into his thirteenth final in Halle, Germany, where he has a 9-3 record, after defeating Pierre-Hughes Herbert in the semifinals. The person who will try to prevent the 20-time major champion from winning his 10th Halle crown is Belgian David Goffin, who stopped the amazing win streak of Matteo Berretini (who won Stuttgart last week) in his semifinal. Federer is 7-1 against Goffin and is the favorite in this match. My Pick: Federer.
LONDON: LOPEZ FACES SIMON IN SINGLES FINAL, IN DOUBLES FINAL WITH MURRAY
There are some great stories at the 2019 edition of the Queen's Club tournament, Andy Murray, with a brand-new metal hip is into the doubles final with partner Feliciano Lopez in his very first tournament after a 5 month layoff following hip replacement surgery. Murray has announced he will play Wimbledon doubles with Pierre-Hughes Herbert and that he is actively looking for a mixed doubles partner (Ash Barty turned him down). 37-year-old Lopez is an amazing story himself, having reached the final of Queen's Club for the 3rd time by defeating someone less than half his age, the 18-year-old Canadian phenom Felix Auger-Aliassime (who defeated Dimitrov, Kyrgios and Tsitsipas in 24 hours) in 3 sets 6-7(3) 6-3 6-3. There Lopez will face Gilles Simon, who has been wearing down his opponents with his metronomic style of play. Every match Simon played this week have gone the distance and some have been well over 3 hours. Lopez holds a 5-2 advantage and has won every meeting the two have had on grass. My Pick: Lopez.
BIRMINGHAM: BARTY FACES DOUBLES PARTNER GOERGES FOR TITLE AND WORLD #1 RANKING
2019 French Open champion Ash Barty is a handful of points behind World #1 Naomi Osaka in the rankings but if she wins her next match the Australian will be the new World #1 on Monday. To do that she has to continue playing well on her best surface, by beating her doubles partner Julia Georges (who is now slouch on grass herself, having reached the 2018 Wimbledon semifinals). The two have an even head-to-head but Goerges beat Barty at this very tournament last year. The two were scheduled to play their doubles final together but Barty pulled out with an "injury" presumably demonstrating hos important she's taking this match. My Pick: Barty.
MALLORCA: KENIN FACES BENCIC IN SURPRISE FINAL
This Bencic-Kenin final is not a final showdown anyone expected. Anastasija Sevastova had made the final in Mallorca 3 consecutive years (winning in 2017) but American Sonia Kenin ended that streak in the semifinals. Reigning Wimbledon champ Angelique Kerber has looked sharp on grass all week (starting with an imperious dismissal of Maria Sharapova) but lost to the always-dangerous Belinda Bencic. The two have never met before so I would give the edge to the 22-year-old Swiss over the 20-year-old American. My Pick: Bencic.