U.S. OPEN TENNIS

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The SEMI-FINALS of the U.S. OPEN are set. Returning once again to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, in the heart of Queens, New York. The U.S. Open is the biggest and baddest of the four slams, owing to the sheer size of the complex, particularly Arthur Ashe Stadium, the late night matches and the robust nature of the native New Yorkers. It is loved and loathed by players of differing dispositions.

On the women’s side of things, Shuai Peng and Caroline Wozniacki are through to meet each other in the semi-final at the bottom half of the draw. An interesting match-up between the attacking Chinese woman, who had never previously gotten past the 4th round of a slam, and the Danish defensive wizard, a previous finalist at Flushing Meadow. Peng is in the form of her life this fortnight, beating Radwanska and Safarova among others, to get to the penultimate match. Wozniacki herself seems to have found the magic that took her to world no.1, already taking out Petkovic, Sharapova and demolishing Sara Errani, losing just a solitary game in the process. I was leaning towards Peng in this one, but after seeing Wozniacki’s display against Errani, i’m picking her to reach her second grand slam final.

At the top half of the draw Serena Williams will take on Ekaterina Makarova. Serena is in imperious form, breezing through her first 5 matches without dropping a set, but in Ekaterina Makarova she finds a worthy opponent. The Russian is making her first appearance in a grand slam semi-final, coming off a quarter-final at Wimbledon. She’s beaten Serena before, and if her powerful left-handed game is on song, then another win over the legendary American is a distinct possibility. Having said that, I can’t look past Serena making her 22nd appearance in a grand slam final.

The last four for the men will see Novak Djokovic take on Kei Nishikori, and Roger Federer take on Marin Cilic. Nishikori has done remarkably well to reach his first grand slam semi, coming through two, 5 set thrillers against more fancied opponents, Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka. Djokovic has eased through to the semis for the eighth straight year at Flushing Meadow, dropping just one set, to Andy Murray in the quarters. The 4 hour plus epics in the last 2 rounds will have taken a great deal out of Kei and a win against the inform world no.1 seems unlikely. Djokovic should win this one at a canter and reach his 5th Final in a row, and 6th all-time in New York.

The Federer vs Cilic match should be a closer encounter. The tall Croatian has never beaten Federer, losing their previous 5 matches, but since teaming up with fellow countryman Goran Ivanisevic , he seems a new man. More focused and confident than ever, Marin might now start to realize the potential he has promised for so long. A semi-final of the U.S. Open against perhaps the greatest player of all time, is a good place to start showing his talent to the world. Roger has proved this year that there is still life in the old dog, reaching 8 finals, including that epic Wimbledon final against Djokovic. He’s claimed 3 titles this year, including his first Masters 1000 title in two years. Although he’s coming off a tough Quarter-Final match against Gael Monfils, dropping the first 2 sets and having to fight off match points, I’m still thinking Fed’s experience will just win through.

So that means Williams vs Wozniacki,  and Djokovic vs Federer will be the finals if my predictions come to pass. Two mouth-watering encounters that the tennis watching public will be itching to see. I can’t see Serena or Novak getting beaten this fortnight, so the two no.1 seeds are my picks to claim the titles . Not exactly out of left-field picks, but there you go.

Josh Greybe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEDEX CUP PLAYOFFS

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It’s that time again, FEDEX CUP Playoffs time. The season long points competition culminates in four playoff events, The Barclays, Deutsche Bank Championship, BMW Championship and finally the TOUR Championship, where the top 30 will battle it out for world domination and the right to hold FedEx to ransom, to the tune of $10 million. The top 125 on the points standings after last week’s Wyndham Championship make it into The Barclays this week. Thereafter the field sizes diminish to 100, 70 and 30 respectively.

The Barclays, Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship all offer up massive points, with the winner in each event accruing a whopping 2500 points. An illustration of the scale of these points is the fact that current points leader, Rory McIlroy has managed to acquire 2582 points the entire season, and that’s with winning two majors and a WGC event. It is therefore conceivable that someone could jump from last to first by winning The Barclays.

After the BMW Championship, which this year will be played at famed Cherry Hills CC , site of Arnold Palmer’s famous 7 shot comeback in the final round of the 1960 U.S Open, the points will be reset, leaving the top 5 with their fate in their own hands. A win meaning FEDEX Cup victory.

Top 5 in FEDEX CUP Standings After Regular Season:

1. Rory McIlroy             2582 points.

2. Jimmy Walker          2493 points.

3. Bubba Watson          2173 points.

4. Matt Kuchar              1921 points.

5. Jim Furyk                   1851 points.

My Top 5 Picks For FEDEX CUP Glory:

1. Adam Scott                  Current position: 15th

2. Rory McIlroy               Current position: 1st

3. Phil Mickelson            Current position: 45th

4. Brandt Snedeker         Current position: 55th

5. Justin Rose                   Current position: 18th

The FEDEX Cup is in it’s 8th season and has already become a must have trophy for the game’s elite. Woods , Singh , Furyk , Haas , Snedeker and Stenson have all tasted victory, and there are 120 others who will be itching for that feeling in a month’s time.

 

 

 

 

 

The U.S. P.G.A. Championship

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Seen by many as the “ugly sister” of the 4 majors, the U.S. P.G.A Championship perennially has the strongest field in golf, and as the PGA of America’s tagline says, is “Glory’s Last Shot”. This year the PGA returns to Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville Kentucky, hometown of Jennifer Lawrence. It’s the third time the championship will be played at Valhalla, both previous visits ending in playoffs.

In 1996 Mark Brooks beat Kenny Perry on the first hole of a sudden death playoff, making a birdie to Kenny’s x, he never completed the hole. In regulation Kenny had bogeyed the 18th, a reachable par 5, then sat in the CBS tower chatting away to Jim Nantz and Ken Venturi , while Brooks was birdieing 18 to force a playoff.

The 2000 edition will probably go down in PGA history as the most exciting and controversial championship of them all. Tiger Woods started the final round 1 shot ahead of the unheralded due, Scott Dunlap and Bob May. Playing in the final pairing together, Tiger and Bob May had a battle that rivalled Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson’s “Duel In The Sun” at Turnberry in 1977. Trading birdie’s throughout the round, it was a punch and counter punch battle that culminated in Woods having to hole a 5 footer for birdie at 18. He dually did, forcing what seemed at the start of the day as a highly unlikely playoff. May had shot 66 to Woods 67. The three-hole aggregate playoff started with Woods running in a 20 footer for birdie on 16 to take a 1 shot lead. Both players pared 17, leaving Woods 1 ahead going down the last. Just when one thought Tiger had broken the spirit of his gallant opponent, Woods hooked his tee shot at 18. The ball bounced near the gallery and rolled straight into a bush ,then a few seconds later rolled out the bush again, back where it came from, in the direction of the tee. To this day I have no idea how that ball came out of that bush and it will remain one of those unsolved mysterious in life. Tiger went on to match Bob’s par at the hole , claiming his third major title of a year that will go down as perhaps the greatest in history.

This year’s Championship is shaping up to be a shootout between golf’s hottest players. Rory Mcilroy, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Jim Furyk all come in to the week in red hot form, and are going to be a tough lot for the rest of the field to overcome. Throw  Aussie Marc Leishman into the mix, and you have 7 guns cocked and ready to fire. Golf’s an unpredictable game though, and with so much talent out there right now, the winner could quite easily come from left field. I have a strong feeling that Phil Mickelson is gearing up for a big week, and South Africa’s challenge will be headed by a rejuvenated Charl Schwartzel. The title will be defended by Jason Dufner , who won in fine style at Oak Hill Country Club last year. The Ohio native has been struggling with bulging disks in his neck and with his form in the doldrums, I can’t see a repeat performance this year.

The PGA is always a fun week, and with a long 8 month wait before the next major, it’s an opportunity for player and fan alike to make the most of a rewarding week.

Josh Greybe

 

 

BOY , OH , BOY

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Holywood is the centre of the golfing world right now, Holywood, Northern Ireland that is. Rory Mcilroy played three peerless rounds of golf and then managed his way to victory on Sunday, to claim his first Claret Jug and third major title. All this at the tender golfing age of 25. In fact he became only the third man in history to win 3 majors before the age of 26, the other two, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. This means only Augusta National stands between Rory and becoming the sixth man ever to claim a career grand slam .

What makes Rory so good? What separates one great athlete from the pack? It’s a question I’ve always asked myself. It’s amazed me how often in sport , one man or woman rises well above their competition. Tiger Woods did it. Roger Federer did it. Serena Williams has done it, as well as the likes of Laver, Nicklaus, Bradman, Borg, Merckx, Pele, Hendry and Graf. What set these great sports people apart is a matter of conjecture, but they all had that indefinable something that made them rise above the rest. Now I’m not putting Rory in this league quite yet, but he is certainly on the way .

Rory is in many ways the anti-Tiger. Where Tiger was cool, calculated and strategic, Rory is loose, laid-back and aggressive. An illustration of their differences as players, is the way they chose to tackle the Royal Liverpool layout in their respective victories. In 2006, Tiger laid back off the tees, leaving himself long irons into the greens, but making sure he found the fairways. This year Rory went with all out aggression, using driver more often than just about anyone else in the field, bringing the course to it’s knees with his power and accuracy. Perhaps it just boils down to Rory being more confident with his driver than Tiger was by that point.

Both are in their own ways inspirational players, capable of super human feats, but it seemed that Tiger could call on moments of magic by sheer force of will, while Rory gets struck by bolts of inspiration.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how Rory finishes the year off, and if Tiger can manage  to recapture his world no.1 form of last year, after his surgery. Time is running out for Tiger to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team , with just this week’s  WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and next week’s P.G.A. Championship in his schedule before the playoffs, which he isn’t currently in, there’s going to be a lot of thinking for U.S. Captain Tom Watson to do if he doesn’t find form fast.

Josh Greybe

Gunning for the start of the season

GETTING BUSINESS DONE EARLY

This has been the theme for Arsene Wenger. Getting things done. 4 new signings and hopefully more to come.

I feel that winning the FA Cup has meant so much to Arsene, he has the taste of winning again. He has been much more ruthless so far this summer and it will eventually prove fruitful.

Our pre season has been a little disruptive with the World Cup. Most of our players have done remarkably well and this will lead to little squad issues , as well as the fitness situation heading into a season that’s upon us. A season that I feel is critical and needs to deliver success.

All our Germans are unlikely to play throughout pre season as Arsene has said they would likely not be available for the opener against Palace. The English contingent are already in full swing in pre season. Thomas Vermaelen , The 3 French boys , New signing Alexis , OSPINA should all be ready to train this week. Disruptives are fine provided these guys ready to go during the season. We will have to deal with first 3/4 fixtures with the guys that got to do pre-season early.

So how have we done so far

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ALEXIS SANCHEZ

A marquee signing early, can it be Arsene? I fully expect great things from ALEXIS. A player that can contribute across the front 3. He has excellent work rate and can galvanise us to greater things.

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MATHIEU DEBUCHY

A signing that everyone sees as making sense. A right back that has premier league experience should bode well for us. He could turn out to be an astute signing.

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DAVID OSPINA

The Colombian national team goalkeeper was superb in the world cup. An excellent shot stopper that i predict will unsurp Wojciech sooner rather than later. Brilliant work on this one, Arsene.

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CALUM CHAMBERS

A player some feel is a gamble, however the fantastic youth system at Southampton is for all to see. At £16m one could argue this is alot for a 19 year old, but thats the premiem for English talent. I haven’t seen nearly enough of him to be certain in saying he’ll be a superstar. AW Knows!

FITNESS

Arsenal’s main concern season after season has been IMPACT INJURIES and MUSCLE INJURIES. Have we adressed one of our main concerns? Now we have!

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SHAD FORSYTHE

I Strongly feel that this will be the signing of the season. GERMAN FITNESS coach has been a major factor in the success of the national team, and with his knowledge in periodization, Arsene and the rest of the team can gain so much more.

TACTICS

When things are going well, too well, we lose sight of the fact that last season in the big games we were tactically lacking and naive. We can all agree to be positive and say we have won a trophy however if we have to be honest with ourselves: We got hidings consistently and you cannot blame a slow defensive midfielder , you blame the set-up and organization of the team on the day.

I do not need to dwell on embarassing hidings of last season. Arsene Wenger needs to remain ruthless but not just on players, on himself too. He needs to prove that he still has it ON THE PITCH.

We need to be flexible on the pitch as well as when we are off it in the boardroom. If we have deficiencies this season it will be all about how Wenger uses modern technology when it comes to match preparation and tactics.

Arsenal can definately win the league, without a doubt. We do need to change certain aspects because we have a massive battle for the crown coming up.

EMIRATES CUP

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This is preparation for the upcoming season, however with a very short pre season and world cup duties having been fulfilled , we need to step it up. Season is 2 weeks away , and team set-up and shape as well as tactics needs to be honed.

We can expect all the new signings and some World Cup participants to be available. OSPINA and Vermaelen will not be available due to knocks. Furthermore the squad will be very strong and Arsenal can definately put out 2 very strong teams across the 2 days.

In conclusion, I sincerely hope Arsenal adequately replaces Vermaelen with a proper centre back that’s willing to knuckle down and fight for his place, and not sulk all the time with complaints to the media.

We also need to go big for a hard man with tactical awareness as holding midfielder. He must be able to tackle , win the ball and distribute.

We are not far off from a premier league winning squad.

Come on the Arsenal.

twitter @arsenalroni
Facebook Roni Armstrong

THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

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Links golf is the original form of the game . Developed in Scotland by mother nature and Scottish pragmatism , links courses are located next to the sea and are characterized by firm , sandy fairways , long , wispy rough , pot bunkers and plenty of wind . The Open is the oldest golf tournament in the world . It was first played at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland , in 1860 . The first championship had a field of eight professionals and was held over three , twelve-hole rounds , in a single day .

Greatness can be achieved over time , over a career of excellence . Jack Nicklaus’s 18 majors or Gary Player’s 140 worldwide wins . It can also be achieved in a day , or even a moment . Ben Curtis started the final round of the 2003 Open Championship at Royal St Georges (Sandwich) , a complete unknown . Mike Weir , the Masters champion that year , had sat down opposite Curtis , in the clubhouse before the start of the championship and a friendly conversation started between the two . Weir innocently asked Curtis if he worked at the club and was suitably embarrassed when Ben sheepishly told him that he was in fact playing in The Open .

A few days later , Curtis stood on the first tee early on Sunday afternoon , not knowing that the next 5 hours would change his life . He played 11 holes of scarcely believably golf and then hung on , holing a 10 footer on the 18th to card a final round 69 , to post 1 under par . Less than an hour later , he was Open Champion . Not until Thomas Bjorn’s ball slid past the hole at 18 , could Ben Curtis ever have allowed himself to dream , let alone believe , that he would write his name alongside the greats of the game and forever be etched in golfing history . All this in his first ever major championship start .

Eleven years on and 156 players , the great and the good , will be looking to write their own chapter in Open Championship history . This year , The Open returns to Royal Liverpool Golf Club (Hoylake) , for the 12th time , the first since 2006 . That year , Tiger Woods put on a long iron clinic , eventually prevailing by 2 shots over fellow American Chris DiMarco . Tiger is back to compete in his first major of the year and will headline a star-studded field .

Players to look out for this week :

Dustin Johnson : The big hitting American has been quiet of late , after a hot start to the year . A T4 at the U.S. Open though , shows signs are good . I feel that Hoylake will fit his game beautifully and I think the time is now for the talented 30 year old to break through and win his first major . Dustin is my number 1 tip to lift the Claret Jug on Sunday .

Justin Rose : Justin is coming off wins in his last 2 starts , at Congressional in Washington and at last week’s Scottish Open . He is looking to become the first Englishman to lift the Claret Jug since Sir Nick Faldo in 1992 and judging by his current form , he might just do it . One hurdle he will have to overcome is a very disappointing Open record . He hasn’t had a top 10 in the championship since that remarkable T4 as an amateur in 1998 and has missed the cut in 3 of his last 4 starts . I personally don’t feel this will be his week , but he is certainly one of the favourites .

Henrik Stenson : The powerful Swede is the number 2 player in the world and has shown signs of late of returning to something close to his unbelievable form of last year . A T4 at the U.S. Open and a playoff loss in Germany a couple of weeks ago prove his game is starting to click into gear . With three top 3′s in his last 6 starts at The Open , it will be a surprise to no one if he becomes the first Swedish man to win a major,  this week .

Martin Kaymer : It was remiss of me to leave Martin out of my U.S. Open picks and he proved it in empathetic fashion , with a Tigeresque display , blowing the field away by 8 strokes . With wins in two of the three biggest tournaments of the year so far , The Players and the U.S. Open , Martin is in my mind the best player on the planet at the moment . Known as Martian to some of his contemporaries because his golf is out of this world , he has had 1 top ten in 6 starts at The Open , but with his swing changes now on automatic pilot and his confidence at an all time high , this could be the week he completes the “Kaymer triple crown” .

Rory Mcilroy : Golf’s newest playboy , Rory is always going to be a factor in the game’s biggest events . He’s got power and talent to burn and  if he can get over a nasty habit over 2nd round blow-ups , he’ll be right in the hunt come Sunday afternoon . He would be my 2nd favourite this week .

Phil Mickelson : Phil has had a dismal 12 months on the golf course , since perhaps his greatest triumph , at Muirfield last year . With just one top ten this year , it will take an inspired performance to reclaim the Claret Jug .

Sergio Garcia : It’s time for Sergio to step it up at a major again . He hasn’t seriously contended in one since the 2008 P.G.A. Championship and has been left behind by many of his contemporaries . A solid year , including a T2 in his last start proves that if he can get out of his head and just play golf , free and easy , like in his youth , then this could be his breakthrough week . Sergio is my 3rd favourite this week .

Tiger Woods : I couldn’t really leave Tiger off the contenders list , despite him having no form and being just back from injury . In his only start since his return from back surgery , he missed the cut in his own tournament in Washington D.C. . Tiger is Tiger though and with his last Open triumph being that win at Hoylake in 2006 , one can never write him off . Winning a 15th major title after over 6 barren major years is a long shot though , despite the bookies having him as their favourite .

That’s my shortlist of players to watch , but there are many more could claim the fabled Claret Jug and be read out as “The Champion Golfer of The Year” come Sunday night .

Josh Greybe

 

 

World Cup fever

Spectacular. Mind-numbing. Exasperating. Euphoric.

These words describes the 2014 edition of the Fifa World Cup. Association football at its best. For the millions watching and the thousands in attendance, no one can argue that this has simply been brilliant. Thank you Brazil.

The tournament kicked off with a bang, Croatia came to play ball as Brazil eventually soured through the opener. Their passionate anthem nearly brought the world to tears. I do not like a single player in their squad, but boy did I enjoy their passion.

Day 2 brought a shock , a quite superb performance from Die Oranje, as Louis van Gaal and his beloved Robin van Persie unanimously ripped the raining world champions to shreds. Quite pleasing to see Tiki-Taki football being unanimously countered tactically.

England flattered to deceive once more as they played much better football than previous tournaments, or at least this is what we have been lead to believe by the so-called well known press journalists. Mario Balotelli gave them the proverbial kiss of death in an outstanding game of football.

Soon it was time for ALBICELESTE, the Argentina national squad. Leo Messi graced The Maracana for the very first time. How ironic it is that Brazil’s biggest enemies play at their home of football. He scored a screamer, Will this be Leo’s time to shine?

Die Mannschaft also arrived, a mindless act from Portuguese defender Pepe made things much easier as another rather big country gets pummeled. Thomas Mueller with a outstanding hat-trick.

Belgium like the shortness of this paragraph flattered to deceive. They just might not be ready. Watch out for them nonetheless!

Brazil kicked off Round 2 with a hard fought 0-0 draw with Mexico. Love the Mexican fans whenever a opposition goalkeeper kicks the ball, they shout “Putooooo” to try and put him off. Never works!

Australia v Netherlands was another outstanding game. My favourite moment being petulant Van Persie getting booked, and gaining expulsion from the last game due to 2 yellow cards. Tim Cahill scored a screamer, so did Arjen Robben. The boy just has class.

Later that evening, raining world champions again got well beaten and the era embarrassingly came to an end against Chile. I love the Chileans and I’m a huge fan of Alexis Sanchez. The Spanish looked dejected as Vicente del Bosque looked like a Spanish Bull with a lot of pent-up aggression. Adios Spain.

Luis Suarez returned from injury against the country of his employment where he singlehandedly sorted the Poms out. England on the periphery of Elimination. They really are NOT that good.

Costa Rica went on to qualify after beating Italy. Hardworking and a well drilled team. They do the basics well and they have a gem of a forward, Joel Campbell.

Alles les Blues rang around the Arena Fonte Nova as France annihilated Switzerland. Olivier Giroud simply unplayable on the night, so too Karem Benzema. They are going to hurt teams with their dynamism and trickery. Sad Ribery had to be injured.

The game of the tournament so far took place at the Estadio Castelao. Germany played Ghana on a barmy evening. The outcome 2-2. Such alot happened in this game. The standout factor being the African spirit and togetherness, which would later become non-existent. Great game though. Well done to Klose for emulating Ronaldo’s record of 16 WC goals.

Italy v Uruguay. Horrendous game of football marred by a talented idiot finding the time to GNAW on a professional athlete. Luis oh Luis. Suarez bites the dust on Giorgio Chiellini. Sad end to the World Cup for an astoundingly talented forward. Uruguay eventually progressed as England and Italy take early flights home.

The Ivorians and their so-called golden generation flatters to deceive again. Poor display from them as they get knocked out, albeit via a dodgy penalty by Greece.

The worlds player of the year flattered to deceive too. Cristiano Ronaldo 10 minutes before Portugal’s elimination scores a goal. Where for art thow Christy?

16 teams said goodbye, while 16 remains to fight it out for the famous trophy. A lot will still take place at this world cup let’s just hope for more goals and alot less controversy.

SEMI FINAL PREDICTION

Brazil v Germany
Argentina v Holland

Enjoy fans of the football.

@arsenalroni

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Wimbledon

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What a lot of massive sport there is coming up in the next few weeks . The Tour De France , Test Rugby , The Open Championship , the culmination of the Fifa World Cup and of course Wimbledon .

This year Andy Murray will be defending his long awaited title . The first Brit in 77 years to capture the Wimbledon Men’s Singles crown , he won in fine style , defeating then World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets in last year’s final .

The Women’s Champion was far more of an upset . Marion Bartoli achieved her childhood dream , winning Wimbledon . In a stunning run to the title , she defeated Sloane Stephens in the Quarters , Kirsten Flipkens in the Semis and then took down Serena Williams’s conqueror , Sabine Lisicki , 6-1,6-4 in the final . She then retired less than 2 months later , sighting constant pain during matches and a lack of motivation having now achieved her tennis dream .

The men’s side of the draw is , in my opinion , more open than the French Open . In Paris , realistically it was between Nadal and Djokovic  , but on the lawns of SW19 , I’d throw in Murray right alongside the two big boys . I also give Federer a reasonable shot at creating history and winning a record eighth Wimbledon title . Throw in the mercurial talents of messes Wawrinka , Berdych , Raonic and a revitalized Ernests Gulbis , as well as players like Tsonga , Isner, Janowicz and Dimitrov , who can all cause major upsets on grass and you have a cracking Championship in prospect .

The ladies side of the draw is even more open than the men’s , providing of course Serena Williams doesn’t find her best form . She’s been knocked out early in the first two Grand Slams of the year , by Ana Ivanovic  in Australia and then by Ana’s Spanish look-a-like , Garbine Muguruza in Paris . I count as many as ten players who are capable of lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish presented to the ladies champion . Williams , Li , Halep , Sharapova , Bouchard  , Azarenka , Ivanovic , Kvitova , Cibulkova and Lisicki all have the weapons necessary to go all the way .

My key matches in the men’s draw (if things go to plan) :

ERNESTS GULBIS vs TOMAS BERYDCH is a mouth watering 4th round clash , that could be a repeat of the Roland Garros Quarter-Final in which Gulbis dismantled Berdych . Should these two get through their first three matches , it’s anyone’s guess who will win out on the day . I’m anyone and my guess is Gulbis to come through .

NOVAK DJOKOVIC vs ERNESTS GULBIS : Should Gulbis come through as I just assured everyone he would , he has the exciting prospect of Novak Djokovic in the Quarters . Gulbis’s coach doesn’t even believe that Ernests is good enough at this juncture to beat Novak , so who am I to argue , Djokovic through to the semis .

STAN WAWRINKA vs ROGER FEDERER is a likely Quarter-Final match-up that will pit the two Swiss maestros and friends in a dogg eat dogg battle . The prize , a Semi-Final spot in the biggest tennis tournament in the world . This match will only come to pass though if they can both get past tough 4th round opponents . Stan has the giant American , John Isner to deal with and Rog has the giant Pole , Jerzy Janowicz in his path . These two big serving goliaths will prove very tricky , but I feel the shot making and guile of the Swiss men will prove decisive .

So to their match-up . The two men both have similar styles . Strong serves , big forehands , one-handed backhands and an easy elegance that make them a joy to the eye . Federer is probably still a better mover than Stan , but Stan has more power these days . Roger obviously has a huge edge when it comes to experience , but Stan has more power and that , in my opinion will be the deciding factor . Wawrinka through to the semis .

MILOS RAONIC vs RAFAEL NADAL is the quarter-final at the bottom of the draw that I expect to see happen . The tennis juggernaut against the young pretender . A clash of styles . The big serve and forehand of Raonic against the energizer bunny with that huge buggy-whip forehand , Nadal . Everybody knows about the brilliance of Rafa , but on grass Milos will be more than a handful . Expect to see some tie-breaks in this one , but I’m still going for the experience in big matches of Rafa . Nadal into semis .

NOVAK DJOKOVIC vs ANDY MURRAY : I expect Andy to come through his Quarter handily , which will most likely mean a rematch of last year’s final in this year’s semi . These two men have met 20 times on tour , with Djokovic prevailing 12 times and Murray 8 . Everyone is interested to see what Andy’s new coach , Amelie Mauresmo will bring to his game , although it might be a bit to soon to see major changes . Novak will no doubt be his consistent self , but if Andy can play aggressively , up near the baseline , then I give him the edge on the lawns . MURRAY into his third consecutive Wimbledon final .

STAN WAWRINKA vs RAFAEL NADAL : A lot of people will be hoping this semi turns out to be another Nadal v Federer classic at Wimbledon . They haven’t met on grass since that epic 2008 final and this might be one of the last chances for another Wimbledon battle to happen . Wawrinka against Nadal could be a classic in its own right though . It would be a repeat of this year’s Australian Open Final , which turned out to be one of the strangest grand slam finals in memory . Rafa will want to erase that memory with a victory that will take him back to a Wimbledon final for the first time since 2011 . Stan will have other ideas though and with the grass keeping lower than the other surfaces , it will help his one-handed backhand against Nadal’s big top-spin forehand . I think the encounter will hinge on the form of Wawrinka . If he’s striking the ball crisply and moving sharply then he might have Nadal’s number on the grass , but he’s inconsistent and thus I’m picking Nadal’s consistency to prevail . Nadal through to his sixth Wimbledon final .

ANDY MURRAY vs RAFAEL NADAL ” The Final” : These two have never met in a grand slam final , but they have met 8 times in grand slams , with Nadal leading 6-2 . This one’s going to be different to most of those matches though . Murray’s going to step in and be aggressive , he’s going to shorten the rallies , he’s going to out serve Rafa , quite simply , he’s going to win . MURRAY Wimbledon Champion .

On the women’s side , there are far to many upsets and unpredictable results for me to foresee key matches . So I’m just going to give a quick rundown of each of my contenders .

SERENA WILLIAMS : Serena is the out and out favourite in every grand slam she enters . With 17 grand slam titles , she is far and away the dominant player of her era and perhaps the greatest of all-time . Her early exits in Australia and Paris will only serve to motivate her . She is after Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam singles titles and a win at SW19 this year will put her one step closer . Serena will be very tough to beat and I tip her to win it all .

LI NA : The darling of Chinese sport , Li is now the number 2 player in the world . She has 2 grand slam titles , including the Australian Open this year . On her day she is a devastating player , good off both wings , she produces piercing ground strokes that leave her opponents breathless , but as she showed in Paris , losing in the first round to Kristina Mladenovic , she has quite a number of off days . Which Li Na will show up this fortnight is anyone’s guess , but if she brings her best stuff , she will be final bound .

MARIA SHARAPOVA : Maria captured her 5th grand slam title in Paris a fortnight ago . It was a grueling two weeks that no doubt took a lot out of her both physically and mentally . I think it will be hard for her to bounce back from such a high , so quickly . She is seeded to meet Serena in the Quarters and with her disappointing record against the American , I can’t see her winning that match . For Maria to go all the way , I think she needs some easy early round wins and then hope Serena gets knocked out early .

SIMONA HALEP : Simona was magnificent in Paris , she played inspiring all court tennis that took her all the way to the final . She lost to Sharapova in the final , but the little Romanian proved herself as a future grand slam champion . Her game reminds me a lot of Justine Henin and that ain’t no bad thing . She has quite a favourable quarter so I would be surprised if she didn’t go all the way to the semis , where she will probably have to face Serena . I personally would love to see that match .

EUGENIE BOUCHARD : The Canadian is the new pin-up girl of tennis and she has a lot of game to go with her looks . She made the semis in the first two grand slams of the year and at 20 , is a star in the making . She finds herself in a really tough quarter , with Serena and Maria , so it will be an unbelievable achievement if she can match her performances in Melbourne and Paris .

VICTORIA AZARENKA : The tall Belarusian has been out for 3 months with a foot injury . She will want to work her way back into tournament play with a couple of comfortable wins and then put her best foot forward and cruise back into her old form . She has a fairly favourable draw and with her talent , I wouldn’t put it past her to make a semi .

ANA IVANOVIC : The Serbian stunner has had a resurgence of late and her attacking , go for broke style , makes her a dangerous opponent for anyone , just ask Serena Williams . Ana won her first tournament on grass a week ago in Eastbourne and with her confidence surging , she will look to match her best finish at Wimbledon , a semi-final in 2007 .

PETRA KVITOVA : After her commanding win at Wimbledon in 2011 , I and many others expected her to kick on and become a dominant force in the women’s game . She hasn’t been able to duplicate that form though , with inconsistency plaguing her . She’s in the bottom Quarter with Li Na . a match-up that seems to crop up regularly . I wouldn’t be surprised to see them battle it out again and from there , who knows , I certainly wouldn’t want to play her .

DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA : The pint-sized powerhouse has come into her own as a player this year . She lost in the Final of the Australian Open to Li Na and will be looking to go one better this fortnight . She’s drawn in a Quarter with Radwanska and Azarenka , two players I really think she can beat right now . Look for Dominika to make another grand slam semi at Wimbledon this year .

SABINE LISICKI : Last year’s finalist seems to save her best tennis for Wimbledon . She hasn’t done much this year , but with her power and her love of SW19 , don’t put it past her to rediscover that Wimbledon magic and make another run this year .

With the players primed and ready , it promises to be another enthralling two weeks at the most prestigious of all the slams .

Josh Greybe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. OPEN PREVIEW

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It’s back , back again . The U.S. Open returns to fabled Pinehurst No.2 for the first time since Michael Campbell had the Sunday of his career in 2005 , overtaking overnight leader Retief Goosen and mid-round leader Tiger Woods to capture his improbable major title . This year , while the Big Cat’s away the mice will play and there are some pretty talented “Mice” in the field .

BUBBA WATSON aka “Big Daddy” . The Masters Champion and in my opinion one of the most talented people ever to pick up a golf club . With just one top ten finish in 7 starts , a T5 in 2007 , he’ll be looking to solve the riddle that is U.S. Open golf this year . If he can manage to capture the 2nd leg of the Grand Slam and his third major title , he will start writing his name alongside the greats of the game .

ADAM SCOTT aka “The Matinee Idol” . It’s been quite a month for the handsome Australian . Gets married , becomes World No. 1 and wins The Colonial . His encore ? U.S. Open Champ perhaps . To achieve this though , he’s going to have to improve drastically on dismal past performances . With just one top 20 finish in 12 starts this has been by far his weakest major . He’s playing the best golf of his life now though and a win will solidify his spot as the premier player in the game .

JUSTIN ROSE aka “The Reigning Champ” . Rosie has been working his way back from a shoulder injury and has been starting to find some form in the past few weeks . A T4 at THE PLAYERS when he wasn’t quite on his game , proves not only how classy a player he is , but also that he is close to being back to his best . Along with the win last year , he has two other top tens in this Championship and you can be assured he won’t be giving back his trophy without a fight .

RORY MCILROY aka “The Man Who Would Be King” . Like Adam , it’s been quite a month for Rory . Broke up with his fiancé , tennis player Caroline Wozniacki , won the European Tour’s flagship event , the BMW PGA and hurt his knee at the Memorial while shooting a 63 . The 2011 Champ , Rory has one other top ten in 5 starts . This year he’ll be aching to wrap his arms around that beautiful trophy one more time and in the process quieten his critics , getting people focused back on his golf .

JORDAN SPIETH aka “Boy Wonder” . What can one say about Jordan Spieth . First “man” in 82 years to win a PGA TOUR event as a teenager , top ten in the FED EX Cup in his first year as a pro , finishes T2 in his first Masters and all this before his 21st birthday . He hasn’t got the picture perfect swing of an Adam Scott and he doesn’t wear flash threads like Rickie Fowler , but he can sure play . Bright , well spoken and focused , he’s sure to be a fixture on leaderboards for many years to come . Don’t be surprised if he’s fighting it out for the title this week .

JASON DUFNER aka “JDogg” . Jason Dufner is as unlikely a looking lover of Hip Hop as he is a major champion , but he is both of those things . The PGA Champ had a slow start to the season , but has been starting to find form in recent weeks . His playoff loss to Adam Scott at The Colonial a couple weeks ago , was a good sign that he is starting to peak at the right time , ahead of a busy summer schedule .  Two T4 in the U.S. Open in the last 2 years also proves that this style of golf suites the supreme ball-striker . If he can manage to overcome his issues inside 6 feet with the short stick this week , he will go very close to capturing his second major title .

CHARL SCHWARTZEL aka “Teeth” . Charl hasn’t kicked on in the way he would have hoped after capturing The Masters title in 2011 , only managing one win outside South Africa . The sweet swinger has perenially popped up on leaderboards , but faded on Sunday afternoons . He has a solid game that is suited to the difficulity of major championship set-ups and it’s only a matter of time before everything clicks into place and he captures another big one .

PHIL MICKELSON aka “Phil The Thrill” . After his round for the ages in the final round of the Open Championship last year , coming from 5 back to capture the title , he has had a very diasappointing last 11 months on the course . That round however sets up Phil as the story of the week . He is the first man since Tiger Woods to have a chance to capture the career grand slam and with a win would be only the sixth man in history after Sarazen , Hogan , Player , Nicklaus and Woods to achieve this momentous feet . A recent insider trading case brought against him is not going to help his mental state , but as Phil showed in the 2010 Masters Tournament , he has an uncanny ability to put personal problems aside when he’s on the course . With six second place finishes , including last year , it’s hard to believe he hasn’t won this championship already . For it to happen this year , the real Phil Mickelson needs to please stand up .

Expect the winning score to be around Even Par , in the two previous Championships held at the Pinehurst No. 2 course Payne Stewart won with a 279 (1 under-par) total and Michael Campbell finished on 280 (even par) in capturing his title . This year the course has been lengthed by over 300 yards , but equipment has moved on and the guys are getting bigger and stronger so I expect a similar winning score .

Josh Greybe

World Cup : Group E – Group H Preview

I just cannot explain the excitement I’m feeling towards the upcoming World Cup, just cannot predict who the winner will be. Expecting major upsets. May the best team win.

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SWITZERLAND

RANK : 6
Coach : Ottmar Hitzfeld
Player to Watch : Xherdan Shaqiri

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ECUADOR

RANK : 26
Coach : Reinaldo Rivera
Player to Watch : Antonio Valencia

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FRANCE

RANK : 17
Coach : Didier Deschamps
Player to Watch : Paul Pogba

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HONDURAS

RANK : 33
Coach : Luis Fernando Suarez
Player to Watch : Noel Valladares

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GROUP PREDICTION : France Switzerland

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ARGENTINA

RANK : 5
Coach : Alejandro Sabella
Player to Watch : Lionel Messi

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BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

RANK : 21
Coach : Safet Susic
Player to Watch : Edin Dzeko

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IRAN

RANK : 43
Coach : Carlos Queiroz
Player to Watch : Javad Nekounam

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NIGERIA

RANK : 44
Coach : Stephen Keshi
Player to Watch : John Obi Mikel

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GROUP PREDICTION : ARGENTINA BOSNIA

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GERMANY

RANK : 2
Coach : Joachim Low
Player to Watch : Mesut Ozil

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PORTUGAL

RANK : 4
Coach : Paulo Bento
Player to Watch : Cristiano Ronaldo

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GHANA

RANK : 37
Coach : James Appiah
Player to Watch : Christian Atsu

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USA

RANK : 13
Coach : Jurgen Klinsmann
Player to Watch : Clint Dempsey

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GROUP PREDICTION : GERMANY PORTUGAL

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BELGIUM

RANK : 11
Coach : Marc Wilmots
Player to Watch : Eden Hazard

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ALGERIA

RANK : 22
Coach : Vahid Halilhodzic
Player to Watch : Islam Slimani

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RUSSIA

RANK : 19
Coach : Fabio Capello
Player to Watch : Victor Fayzulin

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KOREA REPUBLIC

RANK : 57
Coach : Hong Myungbo
Player to Watch : Son Heungmin

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GROUP PREDICTION : BELGIUM RUSSIA

Enjoy

@arsenalroni
FB : Roni Armstrong