This may be the last week for more than four months when tennis followers will be able to take a good deep breath. Things are going to happen fast and furious beginning next week with combined events in Madrid and then Rome and carry on almost straight through until the 18th of September when important Davis Cup ties are played five days after the US Open’s men’s final.
There will be lulls in the weeks before Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open when the major players – exception made for some women on grass at Eastbourne the week of June 20th and the hard courts in New Haven the week of August 22nd – kick back to relax and fine tune ahead of the rigours of those three gigantic events. But even in those pre-Grand Slam weeks there are always the qualifying tournaments and the highly-anticipated draw ceremonies.
Roger Federer may be the most compelling player to follow in terms of the looming jammed-packed schedule. It hasn’t been announced yet, but it appears he will probably play Madrid (and/or Rome) before the French Open followed immediately by two grass-court tournaments back-to-back – German events in Stuttgart and Halle – in the three weeks before Wimbledon.
That would mean that, if he gets to the second week of Roland Garros and Wimbledon, Federer would be playing six out of seven weeks between May 22 and Sunday July 10, the day Wimbledon ends.
He’s fortunate Switzerland does not have a Davis Cup tie the weekend following Wimbledon, affording him a two-week break before he plays Rogers Cup in Toronto – July 23 to July 31 – and then four or five days in advance of the tennis event at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro beginning on August 6th. The direct flight time between Toronto and Rio is about 10 hours with only a one-hour time difference. From Montreal the flight time is about 13 hours with a stopover.
Right after the Olympics Federer is scheduled to play Cincinnati, have a week off, and then it would be the US Open followed five days later by Switzerland’s Davis Cup World Group Play-off, if he decides to play.
So that’s six out of seven weeks through to the end of Wimbledon for the man who turns 35 on August 8th, and then seven of 10 weeks until the end of Davis Cup on September 18th.
In some ways, depending on whether they elect to represent their countries, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Andy Murray have it even tougher. While the ATP 500 event at Queen’s Club is Murray’s only scheduled event between Roland Garros and Wimbledon, he’s likely to play the week after Wimbledon when Britain travels to Belgrade to face the Serbs in the Davis Cup World Group quarter-finals on an outdoor red clay court from July 15-17.
Djokovic, who does not currently have any tournaments planned on grass as is his usual pre-Wimbledon routine, would also face making the quick transition from grass to clay to play in front of his compatriots at Belgrade’s Tasmajdan Stadium in the quarter-finals.
Things look promising for Rogers Cup in Toronto because it’s the last and only chance for the big-name players to get hard-court preparation before the Olympics.
It will be a similar situation with the women for Coupe Rogers in Montreal – except that none of them have to worry about playing Fed Cup after Wimbledon, the way some men do with Davis Cup including Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils & Co. in the World Group France – Czech Republic semifinal in Trinec, Czech Republic, on an indoor hard court.
Milos Raonic has a predictable schedule heading through the summer – it begins next week with Madrid followed by Rome and the French Open. Before Wimbledon he is only slated to play the ATP 500 event at Queen’s Club and then this summer his hometown Rogers Cup in Toronto, the Olympics and Cincinnati. He’ll then get a week off followed by the US Open and Canada’s Davis Cup World Group Play-off, at a location that won’t be determined until mid-July, to finish off his hectic summer slate.
Vasek Pospisil, who was scheduled to play No. 112-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff on Tuesday in snowy Munich, will next be in Madrid and Rome and then plans to play all three weeks on grass between Roland Garros and Wimbledon – s-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands), Queen’s Club and Nottingham. The 25-year-old Canadian is currently ranked No. 45.
As for Genie Bouchard, with her No. 46 ranking she will be, health permitting, in both Madrid and Rome in the upcoming weeks.
Where she might be between Roland Garros and Wimbledon is uncertain, although there’s a chance she could play Nottingham the week right after the French Open.
Last week Bouchard posted this rather philosophical thought on her Instagram account.
One thing is for sure, she will be at her hometown Coupe Rogers in Montreal starting on July 25th.
The crammed summer line-up of events is partly the result of it being the first calendar since Wimbledon moved back a week in 2015, added to the fact that it’s also an Olympic year. Fortunately there’s a seven-week period between the end of Wimbledon and the beginning of the US Open in 2016. Next year the summer schedule enters a three-year cycle when there are only six weeks between Wimbledon and the US Open. What will be particularly remarkable then is that the 2017 Wimbledon doesn’t begin until July 3rd. That will mark the first time since 1896 (July 13th) that ‘The Championships’ have not started in June. There will have been an awful lot of mowing and rolling of the grass courts, and an awful lot of Pimms and strawberries and cream consumed over those intervening 121 years.
Denis does it down south
Just 10 days after he turned 17, Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., won his third Futures event of the new year. Following a victory at the $25,000 Futures in Memphis two weeks earlier, Shapovalov defeated Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 7-5, 2-6, 7-6(6) in the final of the $10,000 Futures in Orange Park, Florida, last Sunday.
The reigning Canadian junior (under-18) outdoor champion, Shapovalov has three Futures titles in 2016 – he was also champion at the tournament in Weston, Florida in January.
Having started the year tied for No. 1,130 in the ATP rankings, he will now move up to about No. 410, which would put him ahead of a former No. 1 Canadian junior and 2012 World Junior champion Filip Peliwo who is currently at No. 430.
Shapovalov has a win over the 22-year-old Peliwo – beating him 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in the opening round of the Challenger in Drummondville, Que., in March on his way to the semifinals.
This week Shapovalov is playing the $10,000 Futures event in Vero Beach, Florida.
Rothenberg in jeopardy
Ben Rothenberg, a well-known tennis writer who lives in Washington, D.C., will be one of the contestants on ‘Jeopardy’ with host Alex Trebek this Thursday – April 28.
What happened on the show has been under a strict secrecy embargo since it was taped in early March.
In the Toronto area Jeopardy is seen on WIVB, CBS network affiliate in Buffalo, weeknights at 7:30 p.m.
New look of Wimbledon No. 1 court
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) April 26, 2016
This is what Wimbledon’s No. 1 Court stadium will look like when it’s completed in 2019.
Feature photo: Mauricio Paiz