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Old 04-01-2006, 06:02 PM   #1
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Cool ~Clay Season 2012 []~

A preview of Jarkko's clay court season

As we all know, by this time of the year the European clay court season is just around the corner. After playing in the Davis Cup for Finland next weekend, Jarkko begins his preparations for the physically and mentally very demanding part of his yearly schedule, playing on the red clay. I have always considered this part of the tennis season as the most exciting one, clay court tennis is my favourite kind of tennis. Great tournaments such as Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Hamburg lead up to the big one, French Open, which I consider as the most difficult and most demanding Slam to win for any player.

Jarkko heads for the clay season after the best start of the year in his career. He won his first ATP title in Auckland and had the best result of his life in Masters Series tournaments in Indian Wells where he reached the quarterfinals. Jarkko is in career high ranking position of 22 (next week) and even the Top 10 isn't very far away. All in all, we can say that Jarkko is in the form of his life and he's in very good shape for the next challenges that await him.

Jarkko has always enjoyed good success playing on clay and the statistics prove it. Jarkko has a win/loss record of 106-43 on clay (including challengers) and he has reached 3 ATP finals on clay (Estoril, Mallorca, Munich) and won 4 challenger tournaments on the 'dirt'. His best showing so far in the French Open is from year 2003, when he lost in the 4th round to Fernando Gonzalez. Based on these facts it's safe to assume that Jarkko can have great success in the upcoming clay court season, if and when he stays healthy.

Next I will go through Jarkko's playing schedule tournament by tournament giving my own opinions on how Jarkko will do in each of these tournaments. Eventhough I'm a big fan of Jarkko, I try to be as realistic as I can in my predictions. It's a bit difficult to predict the results for a single tournament without knowing what kind draws Jarkko will get, but I will give it a go anyway.

Masters Series Monte Carlo, April 17-23
2005: did not play (0 points to defend)
Best result: 3rd round (2003)

The first clay court tournament of the year for Jarkko is immediately one of the most important ones. It's always tough to make the transition from hard to clay, but with the right kind of preparation I'm sure Jarkko won't have many problems in doing so. Jarkko has played this tournament three times before and never lost in the first round. There's a small chance that Jarkko could be seeded here, if many of the top ranked Americans don't show up like in the past years, which would improve Jarkko's chances considerably.

Prediction: a solid start to the clay season with a 3rd round defeat to one of the top seeds of this tournament (75 ranking points)

~1st round loss (5 points)

Barcelona, April 24-30
2005: 2nd round (15 points to defend)
Best result: 3rd round (2003)

After MC Jarkko heads to Barcelona for another fairly big tournament which has many tough players on it's entry list. Jarkko is very likely to be seeded here. After getting some much needed match practise on clay in the previous week, I expect Jarkko to do well in this tournament as long as he can avoid the likes of Nadal and Gaudio in the early rounds.

Prediction: a good run to the quarter finals where Nadal is still too strong for Jarkko (75 points)

~QF loss to Nadal (75 points)(look above )

Munich, May 1-7
2005: SF (75+? points to defend)
Best result: Runner-up (2003)

Jarkko has many times played some of his best tennis in Germany and Munich is a place where Jarkko has many good memories. Losing the 2003 Final to Federer and last year reaching the semifinals after coming through the quallies winning six matches in a row, are proof that this is one of Jarkko's favourite tournaments. Looking at the current entry list, it looks like Jarkko could very well be the second seed here with Coria as the top seed. I see no reason why Jarkko wouldn't do well in Munich.

Prediction: a second career title is a realistic possibility for Jarkko if everything goes to plan. semifinals at worst, but I have a feeling that Jarkko will come out on top here (175 points)

~SF loss to Vliegen (75 points)(damn that flu )

Masters Series Rome, May 8-14
2005: did not play (0 points to defend)
Best result: 3rd round (2003)

If Jarkko has done well in the previous weeks in Munchen and Barcelona, he might arrive to the 'Eternal City' mentally and physically tired. Jarkko has only played once here reaching the 3rd round in 2003. The Masters Series draws are ruthless and there are no easy matches even in the first rounds, so this might be one of those rare bad tournaments for Jarkko.

Prediction: tired Jarkko will lose in the first round to some dangerous floater (5 points). if he's not that tired, a third round appearance is on the cards

~2nd round loss to Stepanek (35 points)(Jarkko still tired after the flu )

Masters Series Hamburg, May 15-20
2005: did not play (0 points to defend)
Best result: 2nd round (2003)

Back in Germany, this time for a Masters tournament and the last one before the French Open. After an early defeat in Rome, Jarkko will be again full of energy and fight for this one. A lot depends on the draws again, but this could be an ideal place to make inroads to the latter stages of a big tournament.

Prediction: 4th round or a quarter final for Jarkko in Hamburg (75-125 points). Federer will take Jarkko out this time, but not without a great fight

~3rd round loss to Davydenko (75 points)(Jarkko had a great chance here )

Roland Garros (The French Open), May 28-June 11
2005: 2nd round (35 points to defend)
Best result: 4th round (2003)

This is the climax of the clay court season. Here's where Jarkko wants to succeed the most and I'm sure he will be very well prepared for this 'adventure'. After a hopefully very good clay court season behind him Jarkko will be full of confidence in his ability to go far here. And I will be there to support him with many other 'vocal' Finns.

Prediction: If Jarkko can make it to QFs of the US Open, why not here? A heartbreaking 5-set loss to another surpriser Acasuso in the quarter finals after a great run of hard fought victories (250 points). Though he has to avoid Federer and Nadal for this to be possible

These are my predictions, I would now like to hear yours. Also any comments or corrections conserning the text are welcome. I hope the text isn't too long and some of you might even enjoy reading it. I look forward to many discussion in this thread about Jarkko's progress on clay.

Ville

Last edited by Labamba : 07-28-2006 at 07:16 AM.
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Old 04-01-2006, 06:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~

Wow, generally I like your predictions, they seem realistic and really likely to happen. That's funny actually that as started reading, I thought of Roland Garros and also thought about quaters to Acasuso and... in 5 sets Well, maybe this will happen (though I wanted Monfils - Acasuso final ).

Your text sounds rational, but if I have some ideas for correcting, I'll post them here.
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Old 04-02-2006, 06:22 AM   #3
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~

Very nice!! thanks!!
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Old 04-02-2006, 10:46 AM   #4
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~

Nice predictions! I really hope Jarkko can do something great in the clay court period and that he can be dangerous for all the top players.
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Old 04-02-2006, 02:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~

Thanks! That was nice to read I think that was realistic and could happen.
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Old 04-02-2006, 02:53 PM   #6
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~

Will Jarkko stay in Europe after Wimbledon or will he go to hardcourts?

kiitos in advance.
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Old 04-02-2006, 02:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~

Oh wow Ville!!!
How I envy you going to Paris! Cheer hard for Jarkko then with all the Finns!
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Old 04-02-2006, 03:09 PM   #8
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~


but does he seriously play all those tournaments?
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Old 04-03-2006, 12:04 AM   #9
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~

Thanks for the great overview of the clay court season

It's going to be really interesting to see how well Jarkko plays on dirt. In the past, red clay has been the favorite surface for him, but recently his done so well on hard courts that things might have changed a bit. I believe in his ability, and he really should do well in the next few months, but there are a couple of things that make me just a little hesitant.

First, it's possible that Jarkko's attitude and mental approach to the game has slightly changed because of his recent success on hard courts. As we all know, it's a totally different game on clay as you need so much more stamina - both physical and mental. If you get tired, if you get frustrated or if you start to look for shorter points and quicker winners, you're already beaten on clay. So it will be interesting to see how Jarkko finds the perfect balance on his tactics and mental game on clay. Especially against the lower ranked players there is a sort of temptation to look for quick winners and an easier way to win, and that is dangerous. You need to be prepared to work hard every day.

Second, the level of the Spanish and Latin American clay court players is incredibly high and wide, so that every year there are more and more tough players in these tournaments. For me, Jarkko is the favorite on clay against the North Americans and almost all the other Europeans except the Spanish and Federer, Haas and Gasquet. But against the Latinos, how is he going to win? He needs to find a tactic to beat these guys, but it's extremely difficult.

Even with these little worries in mind, there's no reason really why Jarkko shouldn't have a very good clay court season ahead of him. After all, he's on top of his game right now, and he's so stong mentally that just with his never-say-die attitude he's going to beat many players on clay. The only problem is that he's going to need to work so hard already in the early rounds that he might not be fresh enough in the latter stages of the tournaments and against the big guys. So hopefully he will be seeded and get byes in those TMS tournaments!
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Old 04-03-2006, 08:31 AM   #10
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~

I don't think we have to be worried about Jarkko's work rate and stamina. I've always considered Jarkko as one of the fittest guys on tour and that hasn't changed this year. Also, doing well on the hard courts shouldn't have too much effect on how Jarkko will play on clay. After all, his game has never been based on quick winners and winning matches easy, not even on hard courts. Yes, the Latinos are very hard to beat on clay, but we have to trust that Jarkko's mental strength and improved serve will help him bring down these guys more often.

btw, there are no byes in the clay Masters Series tournaments even for the top seeds!
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Old 04-03-2006, 08:36 AM   #11
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~

Great preview, it was an excellent read and I don't like handing out praise easily and as for how Jarkko will go. He undoubtedly plays well on this surface, as do a lot of other players, the thing in his favour is that he hardly has any points to defend in this time of the season.

As for the predictions I will wait to see what comes out draw wise, but I expect him to be fairly consistent, maybe have an early round loss at 1 tournament, but as they say, time to bring on the proper tennis season.
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Old 04-03-2006, 01:40 PM   #12
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathaliia
Will Jarkko stay in Europe after Wimbledon or will he go to hardcourts?
kiitos in advance.
His Bundesliga commitment would make more sense if he stayed in Europe, but I wonder if he has enough time for that. Only 4 weeks between Wimbledon and Toronto this year. I would predict that he plays only Bastad and maybe Umag. Stuttgart is in the same week as Daviscup
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Old 04-03-2006, 03:25 PM   #13
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~

Quote:
Originally Posted by Labamba
btw, there are no byes in the clay Masters Series tournaments even for the top seeds!
Thanks for correcting me there Yeah, I agree with you, Jarkko's success on hard courts should actually make him even better on clay.
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Old 04-13-2006, 07:56 PM   #14
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~

Quote:
Originally Posted by Labamba
There's a small chance that Jarkko could be seeded here, if many of the top ranked Americans don't show up like in the past years, which would improve Jarkko's chances considerably.
My wish came true, Jarkko will be seeded in Monte Carlo. No Nadal or Federer atleast in the first two rounds for Jarkko!
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Old 04-13-2006, 08:07 PM   #15
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Default Re: ~~Jarkko back in Europe~A preview of the clay court season~~

great I only want Jarkko to meet Roger in the finals
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