Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - The Rally: More Stock Talk
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The Rally: More Stock Talk 01/06/2011 - 2:24 PM

70443_crop_340x234 Part two of a 2011 stock market Rally between freelance tennis writer Kamakshi Tandon and myself.

Hi Kamakshi,

I didn’t say Philip Bester would be the next Roger Federer, did I? I hope not. I would have been, well, wrong. I think I just said he was the first kid I had seen who had modeled his mannerisms after Rog.

The second, and even more thorough, copycat is Grigor Dmitrov. I’ve called him Baby Federer, the same way I called Richard Gasquet Baby Federer. But while it was Gasquet’s (untapped) skills that inspired the homage, it’s strictly Dmitrov’s form, the way he swings the racquet and struts around the court, that makes me think of Federer. Though Dmitrov seems to have veered off-script recently—did Federer ever shove an ump? I say, keep going, Grigor, tennis may be ready for a shove. Don’t let wise old father figure Fed try to civilize you.

For all the tennis I’ve watched, I’m still fairly clueless when it comes to foretelling a player’s long-term future at first glance. My friend and former colleague Jon Levey got pretty good at it from his many conversations with pros like Robert Lansdorp and Nick Bollettieri. Jon was onto Federer's potential from day one. Speed was obviously a huge factor they looked at, as well as size. Those were the absolute pre-requisites. They also looked at smoothness of technique, which was not as obvious a criterion to me as it might seem. Having watched Borg and even Lendl dominate with games that were far from smooth, I thought orthodox technique was a thing of the past. And it’s true, not all great players are extremely smooth on the surface, but the fewer screwy things in their strokes when they’re young, the better. The higher you rise, the more trouble those technical flaws give you; the truth eventually comes out. And then, of course, there’s the head, but it’s hard to know how that’s going to turn out when you watch a 14-year-old.

In the case of someone like Ryan Harrison, I tend to see the glass, unfortunately, as half empty. I like the guy a lot, and he seems to be doing everything the right way, but does he have the unstoppable weapon, the shattering serve or forehand that can win him points at will? It’s obviously safer to be skeptical about a kid’s chances; there are only 10 guys in the Top 10 (another fact that may not be as obvious as it sounds). Yesterday I wanted to get excited about Thomas Schoorel, the Dutch kid who threatened Federer for a set. He’s 21 and ranked 152. What I liked was his serve, mainly because it was the first I’ve seen that reminded me, at least for a split second during his motion, of John McEnroe’s. I’ve been watching a lot of vintage Mac tapes lately, and I’ve started to think that his serve is the most beautiful shot in the history of the sport. Not the broken-toy start, but the moment when the toss is at its peak, his right hand is fully extended upward, and his racquet is low and behind him. That’s tennis magic.

Schoorel had a little of that going with his lefty serve, he can belt a forehand, and I liked his topspin one-handed backhand. But is the speed there? He’s 6-foot-7. The same was true for Lukas Lacko yesterday. I liked how calm he was right from the start against Nadal. I’ll be looking for both of those guys in the coming months, but how good are they? I have no idea. On both the men’s and women’s sides, it seems tougher for young players to break into the top ranks than it once was. The last immediate shooting star was Nadal, correct? The game is at its best when a new face comes in and turns everything upside down—think Sharapova at 2004 Wimbledon; Nadal at 2005 French Open. I don’t see that happening this year, but I guess that’s the point, you never see it coming, which is what makes it so exciting.

81803247 Anyway, let me finish by giving some quick thoughts on a few other futures:

Ana Ivanovic: I’m thinking the worst is over, even if she has become a chronic coach killer. Maybe my optimism is a case of “expressing my hopes”; I like Ivanovic.

Juan Martin del Potro: Nowhere to go but up, obviously. We’ll see how he is by Indian Wells. It’s a major bummer that a potential No. 1 and next great player has been derailed this long. I can’t another remember another case like his.

Heather Watson: What do you think of her? I’ve liked the little I’ve seen, and she seems more athletic (i.e., quicker) than her countrywoman Laura Robson.

Sam Querrey: His story is getting more curious. He’s the lord of the 250, but nowhere else. He has already gone farther/further than I would have thought when I saw him as a junior. Would you put your stock in Isner or Querrey for this season? Too close for me to call. Both have been pleasant surprises the last two seasons, and it’s hard to ask for more.

Vera Zvonareva: You have to sell here. I like her, I like her game, I like how she’s mostly overcome her volatility, I like her matter-of-fact press conference style, but she’s not a No. 2.

Caroline Wozniacki: I don’t think she’ll end up No. 1 again, but I don’t think she’ll go the way of Jankovic or Safina either. She almost has to pretend she’s not No. 1 and just go about her business with her own expectations. Her game won me over by the end of last year. She makes the most of it.

Marin Cilic: Wow, what a mystery. The coachable kid, the Spartan worker, the level head, none of it seems to mean anything in his case. Maybe he’s worked all personality out of his own game? I don’t know, but he’s due for a big ranking fall-off after the Australian Open.

Marcos Baghdatis: Love the guy, but I always think glass half-empty with him.

See you next time,

Steve

***

Hi Steve,

I don’t remember if there was a Bester—Federer comparison, so let’s say there wasn’t. Schoorel—McEnroe? I’ll have to look out for him.

You know the old saying, at any given time there are about 30 players with Top 10 potential. Probably about 60 with Top 20 potential. Still, even if the likes of Xavier Malisse and Gasquet don’t pan out, wouldn’t it be much worse to never have known how good they can be? The multiple Grand Slam winners usually announce themselves pretty early, but apart from the prodigies, it’s pretty hard to predict what someone is going to do over the course of a career because so much depends on the small improvements they keep making.

Looking back at Querrey, for example, I think one had to factor in that he didn’t really start playing seriously till he was almost out of high school. So the rawness turned out to be due to that rather than lack of coordination or ability, and his rate of improvement once he started working hard at things was a lot higher than you’d get from a player who’s already spent a lot of time honing his skills by the time he’s 18. De Bakker, for example, says he never worked hard until he was 19.

The other thing Querrey taught me was not to discount laid-back personalities. When he was coming up I once asked if he’d ever walked off a court with regrets about not having done this or that—hit more to the backhand, had more stamina. He said no, that he never thought about it. I wondered where the drive to improve was going to come from, if losses weren’t going to be the fuel. But at the same time, the fact that he doesn’t seethe like Hewitt has also helped him bounce back and take things in his stride—how many players, feeling the way he did at the French this year, could take a week’s vacation and come back and win at Queens?

Predicting what a player is going to so over the course of a year is easier, but you need to delve deeper into more immediate issues like fitness, hunger, belief and ambition. It was hard to see Mardy Fish coming last summer. At the beginning of the year, it looked like he was thinking about becoming a doubles specialist, teaming up with Mark Knowles. But if we’d known how hard he was working on his body, we might have expected him to do something at some point in the year at least.

The fun thing about doing this series was looking at the rankings and stopping beside all the names—“Fish, I wonder if he’s going to back up that summer this year,” “Stepanek, coming back from injury, dangerous but probably won’t be very consistent,” etc. 

With the women’s game the way it is right now, predicting over the course of a year seems a bit like predicting the average temperature over the course of a year—there are going to be so many highs and lows that it’s meaningless. Maria Sharapova looks poised for a resurgence one second, then goes down to Greta Arn the next.

That’s why Australia is the toughest. There’s no lengthy buildup or specialized surface, and everyone claims to be feeling great. It makes sense to think Justine Henin and Sharapova are going to get back into the mix at the top, though I really think Henin should go back to her pre-retirement style. I’m not quite are sure about middleweights like Ana Ivanovic or Dinara Safina. Ivanovic could make a Grand Slam semi or final this year quite easily, but having multiple good results in a row has been quite rare for her recently. Safina is such a confidence player that she really needs to luck into a few wins so get herself started. I’d invest in the first three but wait on Safina. Clijsters has the potential to become the dominant force the tour lacks, but practically speaking she’s never going to play enough and that may also affect her at the Slams. I’d just hold on her, rather than buy.

You’re absolutely right about Wozniacki. She needs to forget that she’s No. 1 and just focus on building her game. I’ve said I can see her evolving into a Dementieva and then perhaps into a Clijsters, which is a pretty good path. But she needs to stop playing everywhere and focus on the big events, which she shows no signs of doing. The other leading member of the sisterhood, Victoria Azarenka, has been a lot less consistent and more injury prone, but there’s a good chance she’ll have at least one big result this year.

The Williamses—there seems to be a feeling this is the last stand, but we’ve said that so many times before I’ve given up predicting. Holding their stock is for more iron investors. Zvonareva gets a reluctant sell, though that shouldn’t discount what she’s done in the past six months.

Predicting how a player’s going to do over the next week is easier than over a year, but it requires even more detail—form, mood, surface, draws, etc. It’s like day trading, it requires a much bigger commitment, but there’s more immediate gratification, and probably more money, too. If only it was that way in tennis.

Kamakshi


 
43
Comments
 

Posted by Master Ace 01/06/2011 at 03:21 PM

My list is either buy or sell (hold is not applicable)

WTA Top 10
Caroline - Buy
Vera - Buy
Kim - Buy
Serena - Sell until she returns to the tour
Venus - Buy
Samantha - Sell
Francesca - Sell
Jelena - Sell
Victoria - Buy
Na - Sell

WTA Slam Winners not in Top 10
Justine - Buy
Maria - Sell
Svetlana - Sell
Ana - Buy

ATP
Nadal - Buy
Federer - Buy
Djokovic - Buy
Murray - Buy
Soderling - Sell
Berdych - Sell
Ferrer - Sell
Roddick - Buy
Verdasco - Sell
Youzhny - Sell

Posted by observer 01/06/2011 at 03:59 PM

You'd buy Caroline and Vera at #1 and #2? No matter how good they are, won't those investments never pay off unless Caro improves (holds ranking and wins slam(s)) and Vera goes to #1?

Seems like it'd be difficult for those things to happen simultaneously... one or both of those has to be bad buys IMO.

Posted by Julian Bravo 01/06/2011 at 04:07 PM

The players that were regulars on the Juniors Circuit in 08 are all worth noting including Dimitrov and Harrison. When Dimitrov is on the same level as anyone it's hard to see him losing. He was crushing the competition when he was playing against a strong juniors group and since he's at the same level as the challengers circuit, he's winning those. He needs to adapt to his level and he can be as good as anyone in that range.

Harrison and Tomic (both 08 regulars) play above themselves at times. Harrison with Ljubicic and Tomic with Cilic, they both have flashes of being as strong as the top 10 but they aren't consistent enough. Give them time though, maybe one day they'll be at Dimitrov's level but for now Dimitrov looks better then any junior from that class.

Others to note from 08
Yuki Bhambri
Filip Krajinovic (beat Djoko!)
Tsung-Hua Yang
Jerzy Janowicz

I can see all of them breaking into the top 200 by the end of the year with the right results and possibly Harrison and Tomic breaking into the top 125

Posted by Charles 01/06/2011 at 04:12 PM

Top 8 ordered slam picks for 2011:

Aus Men
Nadal
Federer
Djokovic
Murray
Soderling
Del Potro
Tsonga
Roddick

Aus Women
Clijsters
Henin
Wozniacki
VWilliams
Sharapova
Azarenka
Zvonareva
Ivanovic

Fre Men
Nadal
Federer
Soderling
Djokovic
Del Potro
Murray
Tsonga
Monfils

Fre Women
Henin
Clijsters
SWilliams
Stosur
Schiavone
Wozniacki
Ivanovic
Jankovic

Wim Men
Nadal
Federer
Murray
Djokovic
Roddick
Soderling
Tsonga
Berdych

Wim Women
SWilliams
VWilliams
Clijsters
Henin
Wozniacki
Sharapova
Zvonareva
Azarenka

US Men
Federer
Nadal
Del Potro
Djokovic
Murray
Soderling
Roddick
Tsonga

US Women
Clijsters
SWilliams
Henin
VWilliams
Wozniacki
Azarenka
Sharapova
Stosur

2011 yearend top 10 projections:

Men
Nadal
Federer
Djokovic
Del Potro
Murray
Soderling
Tsonga
Roddick
Verdasco
Berdych

Women
Clijsters
SWilliams
Wozniacki
Henin
VWilliams
Azarenka
Sharapova
Stosur
Zvonareva
Ivanovic

Posted by Rob Koenig 01/06/2011 at 04:40 PM

Steve,

I find the topic of whether young talents are gonna make it to the Top 10, a fascinating one. Nice choice!! Something you can discuss at length and dissect in so many ways.
One thing i can say with a good deal of certainty is that there is no definitive answer. So many kids end up making it from a different range of backgrounds, coaching techniques, parental guidance etc etc...
The greats are easy to pick at a young age..Federer, Agassi, Sampras, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray etc...but for me there's no skill in that. I've always admired people who can pick the "nuggets"... and there aren't too many of those.
Enjoy Kamakshi's and your articles. RK

Posted by adman 01/06/2011 at 05:02 PM

ATP out of top ten:

Baghdatis: buy, he has finally lost that weight and I now believe that he can make a couple quarters at the majors this year without dying in the 5th set

American tennis: neither buy or sell, it is going to stay where its at. Im not trying to be a downer, but isner, querry, fish and all of the lowered rank players are going to stay at about the exact same ranking they are at right now, they are not going to rise or decline(but I am extremely interested to see what Blake will do; is he going to quit or try to end on some type of a good note).

Spanish tennis: hold, it will continue to dominate as in the past years

French tennis: buy, I really feel like Tsonga, Monfils, Llodra, or Gasquet can final make a semi at a grand slam. More likely Monfils/Tsonga if they arent injuried. I dont have as much hope for Gilles Simon tho.

Posted by I AM TENNIS! 01/06/2011 at 05:31 PM

Buy:Federer

Sell:everyone else

Don't be shocked if Federer wins 3 slams again.

Posted by Amit 01/06/2011 at 05:34 PM

Rob Koenig @4.40pm,

Assuming you are the Robbie Koening whose voice we're familiar with, nice to see you here. Perhaps you can share your thoughts from time to time.

Speaking of nuggets, Gulbis is a talent that several of us are waiting on. Has the game, needs a "Murray" courtcraft gene. Would be a pity if he makes us wait for ever.

Posted by Double D 01/06/2011 at 06:00 PM

Doesn't this seem like a great idea for a fantasy tennis game similar to that of football and basketball? Everybody picks a certain number of players, and you get point values for how much their rankings rise. Everyone would start out with a certain amount of money, and how much a player costs depends on his demand. This could be "stock" style (any number of people can be a certain player) or auction style (only one person in each league can own each player). Also, scoring would have to be exponential: being number one is worth so much more than being number five or ten or 20.

Posted by Pete R 01/06/2011 at 06:04 PM

You are right about Caroline she impressed me more towards the end of the season, very smart(like hingis )and is getting better and better she just has to get a better forehand but the one she has is got her to number 1 so what do I know. Harrison is good he just needs experience but great talent. Robson has got to get in better shape but has a great serve for a 16 year old so give her some time.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia (Mardy for 2011 My Turn Open Champion) 01/06/2011 at 06:31 PM

For WTA:

Rankings Market:
1 Caro-hold
2 Vera-sell
3 Kim-buy
4 Serena-hold
5 Venus-sell
6 Sam-hold
7 Fran-sell
8 JJ-hold
9/10 Vika-buy
others- Maria-buy, Ana-buy, Justin-hold, Melanie-buy.

Justin and Maria should finish in top 10, Fran may fall out of top 20, Ana should move up into top 12, the others in top ten will move only 1-2 spots up/down or stay same. Melanie at 61 should raise 15-30 spots by year end.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia ( Mardy for 2011 My Turn Open Champion) 01/06/2011 at 06:51 PM

WTA Major Market:

Serena- hold
Fran - sell
Kim - buy

I feel Kim will win 2 and Serena 2. Others will have good runs, but none will succeed in taking a major this year unless Serena has injured herself out of contender status. Justin, Caro, and Vika may take Serena's 2 if she can't come back, with Kim maybe winning 3.

Posted by M.J. 01/06/2011 at 09:24 PM

"The Williamses—there seems to be a feeling this is the last stand, but we’ve said that so many times before I’ve given up predicting."

This makes no sense whatsoever. Why do people STUPIDLY continue to try to push them out the door, place an expiration date on their abilities, and write them off? Last stand my behind, such a ridiculous statement; tennis writers and other "experts" have been saying they were done since like '04 or '05, like the moron Pat Cash's statements about Serena never winning a major again. Give it a rest already, you will never know.

Posted by SamK 01/06/2011 at 10:31 PM

Once again I'm rather bored by your assessment of the American welterweights--Isner and Querry. The fact is there are about 15 guys in the top 15 that are vying legitimately for a place in the bottom half of the top 10 and Querry and Isner are NOT a part of that. Isner is a player who relies so much on his height and serve and is so quickly overwhelmed by an all around player--this will prevent him from going any higher than low 20s late teens. Querry will show consistency only in the form of 250s. Where is any consistency above that? How could you contend for real masters and slams when all you can win is 250s?

It's not shameful to be ranked 19, it is however quite annoying that American commentators create false buzz around players that really have little potential to contend for the top.

As for the women. Do you guys follow women's tennis it all? Why is anyone still claiming Sharapova is a buy? A legitimate threat? She has 0 consistency. Why would you think she was poised for a resurgence this year? She has shown nothing to prove it and continues to show nothing.
If you had watched the last half of the women's year you would know that Ivanovic actually has been building momentum, ending in a great fall season.
Henin does need to go back to pre-retirement title and be okay with winning RG--why not add another clay slam while going for Wimbledon?

Posted by MikeDC 01/06/2011 at 10:34 PM

Master Ace - Your contributions are invaluable, but I wouldn't pick you as my stock advisor! You seem to like to buy high, all those expensive stocks! Only buy if they will do better then their current price....

Men:
Rafa: Sell (only because 3 slams is a lot to match)
Federer: Hold
Djokovic: Buy Now!!!
Murray: Hold
Soderling: Sell
Berdych - Sell
Ferrer - Sell
Roddick - Hold
Verdasco - Hold
Youzhny - Sell
Other: Monfils - Buy. Querry - Buy, Del Potro - Buy, Gulbis - Buy

Women:
Wozniacki - Hold
Zvonereva - Sell
Kim Cjisters- Buy Now!!!!
Serena - Hold
Venus - Buy
Stosur - Sell (kills me to say this)
Schiavone - Sell
Jankovic - Sell
Azarenka - Buy
Na - Sell

Other: Ivanovic-Buy, Henin - Buy, Kuz - Buy, Sharapova - Buy.

Posted by Master Ace 01/06/2011 at 11:00 PM

MikeDC,
I like to either buy or sell. Hold was not an potion when I made my choices but most of the time these days in the ATP, the bottom 6 are in and out while the top 4 has been steady.

Posted by VerdascoFan 01/06/2011 at 11:30 PM

First thing I'd like to say is, a lot of people here are complete morons. Del Potro was just injured for a very long time; he is not going to return to the top 5 or win a slam THIS YEAR. I love Delpo and yes he is amazing, but that's just unrealistic. Second, Murray will never win a slam. If he does tennis would have just devolved to the game of the 1920's. He does not have the game for slams. He is always losing to big hitting, agressive players who know 5 sets gives them timeto find their rythm. Unless he goes on a huge roll he won't win one. That being said he will still do very well at masters, 5oos and 250s for a while (until everone figures out his passive-pro-pushing gamestyle). Djoker finally has confidence in his aggressive game again. He was being much to defensive before and it killed me (and him). Berdych is streaky but always plays well at the AO. Verdasco is the type of guy who can beat anybody, anywhere (excluding grass tournaments) and occassionaly lose to anybody, anywhere. Also, here are some U20 talented rising young players (which means no Bernard Tomic and the like): Ricardas Berankis(Ltu)-very smart player, huge winning streak last yr in challengers; Milos Raonic (Can)-big serve and a big game. Did well at the end of last yr in both challengers and ATP tour; Jason Kubler (Aus)- very talnted, but still too young to know. We'll see how it goes for him; Guillaume Rufin (Fra)-young, talented frenchman...need I say more?; Tiago Fernandes (Bra) - '09 Jr AO champ Excellent junior; could develop into a fantastic player; Sean Berman (Aus)- AO '09 Jr RUP. Another excellent player, he works hard and expext him to do good things; Grigor Dimittrov (Bul)- The fastest rising of the bunch and already an excellent player who has proven he can hang with the top dogs. Only 19, he's ranked 108. Expect hinm to crack the top 60 and shake things up a bit. A few more: Jack Sock (USA)- Jr Ornage bowl and jr Us Open champ. Improved a lot in a short period of time. Tough as nails on the court. Mathias Bourge (Fra)- You may not have heard of him-yet. He seems like a guy who could do well on the ATP.

Posted by vince 01/07/2011 at 01:31 AM

selling serena is a dumb investment strategy.

selling rafa might seem dumb as well. but think about it. if you are a die-hard rafa fan or not, do you really believe that he can maintain or exceed what he did last year? 3 slams in one yr? yes fed did it twice/thrice, but fed is very comfortable on all surfaces. nadal not so much. however, i could see rafa ending the yr as no. 1 and winning at least 5 titles in 2011 and 2 slams.

as others stated, caro & vera have alot of points to defend and it seems unlikely they can successfully defend them all. plus vera has mental fragility issues and i just can't see caro winning a slam in 2011 at least. she is 0-9 against the williams & the belgians. if she makes it deep in a gs draw she has to hope that somebody else take those 4 ladies out. (and hope whoever does that don't take her out!!). she lacks a weapon to earn cheap points a la serena's serve, henin's bh & ana's fh. so caro & vera: sell.

Posted by joop 01/07/2011 at 01:39 AM

belgians, williams: hold

caro, vera: sell

maria: sell (if you were risky enough to hold her in the first place 'til now)

ana: buy (but don't expect a gs win/final; expect maybe a top 10 finish)

big 4: hold (but strongly consider selling murray & nadal)

sod: strongly consider selling.

delpotro: u should have already sold him already but if not sell now! he has hugh value right now that will most likey drop once he underperforms (ie. don't win a slam or make top 5 by end of yr).

hold roddick, sell other atp americans.

Posted by tennisfan 01/07/2011 at 01:51 AM

hold big 2 & serena. sell everything else.

Posted by woznowuss 01/07/2011 at 04:11 AM

WTA Tour Ranking Points Market

Wozniacki (8035 points): Hold-Buy. Caroline has no serious points to defend until Indian Wells, and very little clay court points because of last years injury. Expect/hope to sell at around 9500 after Wimbledon.

Zvonareva (6785): Hold-Buy. No real points to defend in first half of the year. Expect to sell at 8000 before Wimbledon.

Clijsters (6635): Buy. Few points to defend until Miami. Could go as high as 10000 in 2011, if she plays a full season.

Serena (5355): Sell. Will likely drop to 2000 before she's back on court. Buy if/when back to full fitness.

Venus (4985): Sell. Plenty of point to defend in first half of the year. Consider buying at 4000 before Wimbledon.

Henin (3415): Hold. Lots of points to defend in first half of the year. Buy at the start of the clay season, if she is free of injury.

Ivanovic (2600): Buy. May reach 5000 in 2011.

Posted by Samantha Elin 01/07/2011 at 05:28 AM

M.J. they try to push them out the door prematurely because America has such great player waiting in the wing to assume their role. Coco, Oudin and Mattex Sands. Right!!!

Posted by Samantha Elin 01/07/2011 at 05:33 AM

Forgot to include something in my post as usual. M.J., you're right on target. After Oudin had her great run at the Open, there was an article which suggested that it was time for Serena and Venus to pass the torch to the next generation of American, because they lost the Open that year it was over, forget the fact that Serena was holding two slams and had won the YEC that year, it was still time for her to pass the torch to a player who lost 12 first round loses, 5 second round in 2010, which mean that she lost 90% of her match by the second round, that was someone Serena, the greatest player of her era should step aside for. Good luck American tennis with that. Kom sa, Caro!!!

Posted by Samantha Elin 01/07/2011 at 05:38 AM

Another thing Caro is no l and people need to respect it, like Caro said, she earned it and you don't get it by luck. You know anybody handing out no l rankings??

Posted by M.J. 01/07/2011 at 09:31 AM

Samantha Elin,
"M.J. they try to push them out the door prematurely because America has such great player waiting in the wing to assume their role. Coco, Oudin and Mattex Sands."

ROTFLMAO! Don't forget that Capra girl who made it to the 3rd round last year, whom they were boosting up until she was destroyed by Sharapova love & love. I remember in '09 how they started comparing Oudin's run at the time to Serena's in '99, and I was like, um, I don't think so, unless she wins this title, which isn't going to happen.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 01/07/2011 at 10:11 AM

I think Roddick is a buy right now, as he could rise two or three ranking spots by the end of the Wimbledon fortnight. He's coming back strong and eager to make one last statement (note his early commitment to Davis Cup), so I think he may do big things in Australia and in the spring U.S. hard-court swing. I'd hold him through the European clay courts and Roland Garros, expecting him to peak during the grass-coourt swing, but I'd sell him shortly after the U.S. Open.

Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are all holds for me -- nowhere really to go.

I expect Murray to do well on the slow Australian hard courts and throughout the spring U.S. hard-court swing, but he's disappointed so often in the past that I'm tempted to sell.

I think Berdych is a buy, as is Soderling, but it's a long-term investment that won't reap big dividends until Federer calls it quits and Nadal burns himself out.

I'm selling Verdasco and Gasquet immediately, holding Davydenko and watching him carefully. If he doesn't show improvement by the end of the spring U.S. hard-court swing, I'd be inclined to sell. A wrist injury is a difficult thing to come back strong from, and may take quite some time. Ask Del Potro, or Lindsay Davenport.

I'd buy Monfils, and expect him to break through to the top eight by the culmination of Roland Garros. Tsonga I'll hold because I like him (favoring heart over head). Will probably regret it -- either kicking myself for not going all in and buying or for not selling when the writing was on the wall.

I'm buying Querrey, Isner and Fish. I sense a U.S. resurgence, though it may not last loong with Roddick and Fish's retirement looming on the norizon. I think Isner is a safe bet, but Querrey may disappoint. Still I think his upsides outweigh his downsides -- for now.

Del Potro is the big question mark in my portfolio. But I'm going to buy. There's really nowhere he can go but up, except in the rankings.

Odesnik is a sure buy, if he can keep his nose out of trouble. He's starting from the bottom and will surely run through a few hundred ranking points in a matter of months.

Stepanek is a sell, along with Youzhny and Ferrer and Ferrero. I'm going to buy Lopez, banking on him giving it one last good shot through Wimbledon and maybe the fall indoor season. By the end of 2011, if he hasn't risen five spots in the rankings, I'm selling him off.

Nalbandian's my other big question mark. Like Murray, I'm always tempted to buy buy buy, but he invariably disappoints in the end. I'll hold for now, but look for him to have another great fall campaign indoors, then call it quits.

Baghdatis is a buy for me in the short-term. I'll sell him after the spring U.S. hard-court swing.

I'm not willing to bet on ANY of the women. Except Ivanovic, whom I think is ready to get it together and make a bold move up the rankings.

I'd like to buy Clijsters, but am getting awfully tired of her retirement talk... again. First she says this may be her last full year on tour, her final campaign. Then she comes out and says she may be around for four more years. She's too ditzy for my money. Great athlete, nowhere to go but down. I'm selling after Roland Garros.

Posted by Christopher 01/07/2011 at 10:16 AM

Steve-- Spot on about McEnroe's serve. The most beautiful shot in tennis and also the most recognizable. Long after his decline had set in, I still loved watching McEnroe play just to watch the serve (well, the volleys were pretty things too, as was that FH topspin lob...).

Posted by dr noi 01/07/2011 at 12:21 PM

niko 6 and 4 life time over nadal winning last 4, plus hes 4 or 5 years older.....does this mean niko better? no i just think nadal,s getting to used to the juice he needs better s h i t...naderlone getting old. body getting to used to it, so id buy new s h it, for 2011....lol. buy delpo for second half of season, murry will win a slam,this year,so buy. ps,there coming to test u nadal, be careful...........oil that machine you machine, borg destroy,s nadal, without juice?? battle of two machines.....only on wii

Posted by barry 01/07/2011 at 04:40 PM

Samantha says, "Another thing Caro is no l and people need to respect it, like Caro said, she earned it and you don't get it by luck. You know anybody handing out no l rankings??"

Quick query: Is that how you felt about Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic when they ascended to the top?

as for the men:
1. Rafael Nadal: hold. will stay #1, will win one or two majors. Scheduling appears to be a problem - lack of enough rest during off season, added Barcelona to clay season without subtracting another clay court tournament, was nothing learned from 2008?!?! Unless Rafa pulls out of one of his scheduled tournaments b/w March and June, he will be subpar after Wimbledon again. Team needs to confer with Roger about schedule. Perhaps in a win-win the tennis buddies can share private jet expenses.
2. Roger Federer: sell off 25%. The dodger will stay in the top 4, but me thinks it'll be #3 or #4.
3. Novak Djokovic: hold. ends year in top 4.
4. Andy Murray: buy with the proceeds from the Roger sale. Andy breaks thru in a major for Scotland.
5. Robin Soderling: sell 25%. will end year in top 10, below #5.
6. Tomas Berdych: sell. has the game to be top 5, but probably won't happen this year. almost wiped out Roger at the AO a couple of years ago.
7. David Ferrer: sell. kudos to Ferrer for a great career.
8. Andy Roddick: hold. props for staying power. needs to clean up on court attitude toward those lower ranked while in the heat of competition.
9. Fernando Verdasco: sell. as others have said, can beat anyone on a given day, can lose to anyone on a given day. nice ride in the top 10.
10.Mikhail Youzhny: sell. the warrior has peaked.
Gael Monfils: buy now. sell after the French Open (per previous poster).
Nicolas Almagro: a cautious buy.
Mardy Fish: sell. great career year in 2010.
Ivan Ljubicic: sell. on the downside of an amazing ride.
Sam Querrey: buy. i see top ten.
John Isner: hold.
Nikolay Davydenko: a value buy, should have bought before yesterday.
Michael Llodra: sell. nice ride in 2010.
Ernests Gulbis: buy.
David Nalbandian: buy. top ten again unless injuries doom daveed once more.
Juan Carlos Ferrero: sell. one of the great guys who was done in by illness at his peak and the revolution in string/racket technology.
Richard Gasquet: limit to 1% of your portfolio - your mad mad mad money.
Philipp Kohlschreiber: buy.
Jarkko Nieminen: buy.
Gilles Simon: value buy. just because. one for the little guys (like me).
Lleyton Hewitt: buy and hope for better draws at the majors.
Radek Stepanek: value buy. one run at the majors and he's in the top 20 again.
Fernando Gonzalez: buy. pure bargain hunting.
Ivo Karlovic: buy. ditto Gonzo.
Paul-Henri Mathieu & Kei Nishikori: obvious deep value buys.

Posted by Wilson 01/08/2011 at 03:31 AM

latest wta results:

Brisbane:

Singles - Semifinals
Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. (4) Marion Bartoli (FRA) 64 62
Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (5) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 64 46 62


Hobart:

Singles - Final
Greta Arn (HUN) d. (2) Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 63 63

WTA tour continues where 2010 left off... none of the second tier players i.e. anyone other than serena and kim has performed...

this is like the equity market right after lehman...

WTA is free falling...

maintain SELL...

SELL
SELL
SELL

Posted by coco 01/08/2011 at 08:08 AM

wta is too erratic to make any predictions. there is only one player you can count on (at least at the majors)----serena. so hold/buy her.

Posted by M.J. 01/08/2011 at 08:33 AM

Ok, so Tom Perrotta is among the groups of idiots (that Samantha Elin and I discussed earlier) that is going for the traditional write-the-Williamses off prediction this year. Genius says that no one named Williams will win a major, BUT in the same group of predictions, declares that both Sharapova (who just lost to an old veteran) and Wozniacki will each win a major... Also, Henin is going to win Wimbledon...even though she's only been to 2 finals and never came close to winning either. I think for Henin to win Wimbledon she's going to need assistance from both Williamses (i.e. Serena being injured and Venus leaving her game at home in one of the final rounds)

Posted by vince 01/08/2011 at 09:11 AM

yeah i read that piece MJ. I was like really?

Inconsistent and unforced-error-prone Maria is gonna win a major?

Weapon-less Caro has a chance but a very small one.

Henin has the game to win Wimby but she always fall short like how Venus always fall short at AO and USO.

Posted by Samantha Elin 01/08/2011 at 10:02 AM

Maria just lost in two easy sets to a 31 year old veteran who is ranked 88 in the world and she is going to win a major without her serve?? Well OK.

Posted by Samantha Elin 01/08/2011 at 10:08 AM

BTW, Sharapova was Arn's first win against a top 20 player.

Posted by Andrew Miller 01/08/2011 at 12:49 PM

Dimitrov has good strokes - so does Heather Watson; though both's games resemble those of Federer and Serena Williams, Dimitrov doesn't have the tricks and is slightly more workmanlike, and Watson is not Serena Williams, who burst onto the tennis scene with a game to dominate the WTA. Maybe Dimitrov will do something big on tour - even if he wins one slam it will be a big deal given the competition on tour.

Fish has become the U.S. #2 - so I hope he meets the responsability of the job.

Posted by mickey 01/08/2011 at 02:03 PM

if Sharapova wins a major this year, The Matrix must really exist.

Posted by gliciouss 01/08/2011 at 04:22 PM

i wish we could sell tennis world or twibe people

Posted by barry 01/08/2011 at 09:21 PM

M.J. says Henin didn't come close to winning either Wimbledon final. How about a three-set loss to Venus in 2001, although the 3rd set was a bagel. The 2006 against Amelie Mauresmo? Three setter, perhaps one of the best played Wimbledon finals in a couple of decades? Two games away from winning W? Don't let the facts get in the way of your perception.

Posted by anya 01/09/2011 at 02:42 AM

So just because Grigor Dmitrov and Richard Gasquet have one handed backhands, they are Federer copycats? does not make any sense to me..

Posted by M.J. 01/09/2011 at 06:48 AM

barry, you just proved my point on the first final. She lost the first set and was bageled in the 3rd against Venus in '01, MEANING she was never close to winning that match. As for the '06 final, 2 games away is not the same as being up 5-something with a chance to serve it out, or having a match points on your opponents serve. So in my eyes, you have to have made it to a winning position where you can finish off a match for me to say "so and so almost won" versus they "could've won." Winning a set does not by default mean you came close to winning.

Posted by coco 01/09/2011 at 06:07 PM

i would love for henin and serena to dominate at the slams this yr

Posted by bse nse share tips 02/01/2011 at 05:03 AM

The blog and comments are very interesting


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