Favorites Nadal, Henin Head French Quarters
by Sean Randall | June 4th, 2007, 1:40 pm
  • 40 Comments

What an uninteresting Sweet 16 at the French Open the last two days. Aside from the Maria Sharapova-Patty Schnyder debacle the matches weren’t exactly memorable. In fact, I can barely remember them now. But heck, at least the favorites made it through setting up some pretty tasty quarterfinal matches. Let’s start with the women.

The match of the round, either men or women, has to be Serena and Henin in a reprise of their Roland Garros classic a few years back. In my mind the winner will likely go on to take the title. That said, I’ll tab Henin in this one. This is her surface, her event, and she’s looked sharper of the two thus far. I’ll also take Jankovic, Kuznetsova and in a mild upset, Chakvetadze to take out Maria Sharapova.

Moving onto the men. Roger Federer’s looked good so far, but I fully expect Tommy Robredo to thoroughly test him Tuesday and maybe even snake a set. The other quarterfinal, Nikolay Davydenko and Guillermo Canas, is a tough one to call. Both players are basically backboards, and both can track down just about every ball. What I like about Davydenko, though, is that he’s can hit through a clay court a little bit more than Canas, and I think he has a bit more power. So i’ll give the slight edge to Nikolay in four.

As for Wednesday, Rafael Nadal is still the man beat and still will be after he beats his buddy Carlos Moya. In the second quarterfinal I think Novak Djokovic will have a lot of problems with Igor Andreev but the Serb will get through.

A Nadal-Federer final is still looking good. I think Rafa has all but booked his ticket whereas Federer’s big test will come in the semifinals against either Davydenko or Canas. Weather permitting of course…


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40 Comments for Favorites Nadal, Henin Head French Quarters

samps Says:

I ll take Henin in the semis. The Williams family’s belief that they are merely playing themselves is really getting on my nerves. Y’know, if you lose its little to do with the opponent, its Always something you did wrong. For example, Venus gets it from Jankovic and Dad claims the Next day that he figures she was carrying an knee injury. Sure she was…Dad.

And Federer is in top form but Youzhny tested him very well. Nadal isnt really playing bad either. I didnt see the Nadal-Hewitt match at Hamburg but in evidence of today’s match I m surprised it was close because Hewitt simply doesent have the weapons to fight Nadal or Federer for that matter.

Also I have a feeling, its Canas who is going to win. Which should make it very interesting for Fed in the semis. And Djoko’s been talking himself up rather well. Should be interesting to see how he does against Rafa after being whupped earlier on clay. Oh wait, he might just as well lose to Andreev who’s playing pretty well.


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penise Says:

Davy is not exactly a backboard; he hits it. That’s why I’m taking Canas, moon baller from hell!

Moya, Rafa’s big brother and practice partner, has at least as good a chance of beating Rafa as does Fed. Plus, Moya has zero pressure.

If Serena at her current fitness level beats Henin on the clay I will eat my keyboard.


Seth Says:

Have to disagree a bit with you, penise. Of course, Moya might possibly upset Nadal, but it’s highly unlikely. Federer, on the other hand, stands an excellence chance of defeating Nadal, should they both make it to the final.

And I’m picking Koyla to take out Canas, but it will be a brutal, arduous, five-set affair.


Skorocel Says:

Samps, I completely agree with you re: the Williams family… It’s simply strange (to say the least) that neither father Richard nor Venus mentioned this thing with Venus’ knee as long as she was winning… I guess the only logical reason for them to keep it secret (if it really was an injury) was perhaps to not give Venus’ opponents that extra bit of confidence – which seems strange at first, but you never know with the Williamses:-)


Giner Says:

What was the Sharapova/Schnyder debacle about?


Sangwa Says:

penise — do you like your keyboard, grilled or fried because you’re going to have to start chomping! You seem to forget that just a few short months ago Serena was counted out at the Australian open and she still claimed the title. Oh well, some people never learn. On the bright side maybe you’ll get a little fiber in your diet.


FloridaMan Says:

Nadal just crushed Hewitt, for most of the match today. Nadal played far better than he did when he played Hewitt in Hamburg. I think he will do the same against Federer in the final, provided Federer gets there.
I think the hype surrounding Fed’s win over Nadal is far too overrated. I watched both Nadal’s Hamburg matches, against Hewitt and Federer. Nadal is playing far better now. Fed will definitely not have a chance to beat him in the final. Maybe take a set, yes. But not the whole match, no way.


samps Says:

I dont know FloridaMan, I feel Fed has a pretty good chance. I agree Hamburg was far from representative especially to the levels that people have been playing it up. But Fed is playing extremely well. And he has belief because of the victory and it should be a very difficult match.

Incidentally though it started as such, the draw has been pretty even for the top seeds (except Djoko and Canas who have it easier).
I mean, Nikolai-Nalbandian, Fed-Youzhny (Those who saw the match would realize how close it really was), Nadal-Hewitt.
Also I saw a rerun of the Andreev Baghtadis match and Andreev is playing excellent. I think he’s going to beat Djoko and make things difficult for Rafa but Fed would be in far greater trouble in his semis.

But Hewitt’s post match comments are a little instructive when he said that Hamburg was a different surface where Nadal’s forehand was less effective and he expects Fed to be in trouble here.

And Skorocel, I did a search for interviews by the First family(as they would like to think about themselves I figure) and I simply could not find a comment by any of them saying anything about the opponent’s game! Dad is full of his daughters, while the daughters are full of each other and themselves. Its one happy close-knit family :)


Seth Says:

Fed has the game to beat anyone on any surface at any given time. All that has been lacking against Nadal is belief. Now Fed has the confidence that he can do it, unlike last year, where he showed up without his, um, Wilanders. I will go out on a limb and say that I’ll be surprised if Nadal can handle him.


Seth Says:

I mean history is on the line here, and it’s much more momentous for Fed (all but assured of the GOAT anointing once and for all) than for Nadal (three consecutive FO’s).


claycourtrafa Says:

ii think that if nadal wins FO this year again it will kill fed therefore i think the winner of FO will win wimby as well


Dan Martin Says:

I like the analysis. Moya has a psychological chance. However, Nadal looks strong. I am sure Moya was hoping Hewitt might extend Nadal to 4 or 5 sets. Federer is playing awfully well. Still, Canas on clay could make for a long day.


samps Says:

Seth your confidence is stunning. “All that has been lacking against Nadal is belief”. Tell me, if Fed already had all the weapons to beat Nadal, why did he wait for Nadal to build this win-loss record? He seems to have overturned it against everyone. What has been waiting this long for? Especially considering all of Nadal’s victories over Fed have come AFTER he was dominating everyone else. Fed needs to buck himself up, I agree but why do You need to buck Him up Seth?

I think Fed just about has the game to beat Rafa on clay and he has a pretty good chance. Thats that.

In fact Fed has been talking himself up all week but he has been sensible enough to admit that he has to have a perfect day in every sense to beat Rafa. I am not sure its enough but I dont think it means that “all he was lacking was belief”.


novak Says:

Djokovic plays very well as we considered,
but still it seems nadal-federer final.
also Henin will win this tournament.


samps Says:

Serena’s post match comment :
“Nothing worked today. Sometimes you just have days like that,” Williams said. “All she had to do was show up.”
There are sore losers And there are sore losers. Lordy.
And Robredo’s dominating Fed! Tied at a set apiece…5-7,6-1 to Tommy. Though Fed should run through.


samps Says:

Ok that was premature…Fed is now murdering Robredo and it should soon be over. Sigh…


Skorocel Says:

Yep, that was a bit premature:-), samps… Btw, do you really think Fed’s playing that well at RG? Though I would be glad to see him lift that trophy on Sunday, I really don’t know what’s happened with his FH in 2007 (?)… His BH is definitely at its best these days, but his main weapon often malfunctioned in 2007 (also today vs Robredo)… Maybe he and Roche were trying to put too much emphasis on his BH (in order to cope better with Nadal’s topspin FH), who knows? Btw, Nadal played really good vs Hewitt, though I think the Aussie can definitely play better than in those first 2 sets… Should be interesting vs Moya!

P.S. That post-match comment from Serena was a pearl:-)


Seth Says:

Samps,

I wouldn’t characterize my confidence as stunning. There is a bit of logic behind the apparent chutzpah. ;)

Fed will defeat Koyla (four sets max) and he will absolutely be gunning for Rafa like a mafia hitman. I’m telling you, the sense I get is that once Fed’s in the final, the occasion will cause him to bust out the A++ game. Fed always has moments of walkabout in Grand Slams, but a Grand Slam final (last year’s gutless performance notwithstanding) always brings out his best, and Fed will be keen to make amends for wilting a year ago against Rafa. This is Fed’s year, and nothing I’ve seen from him or anyone else makes me think differently.

For example, everyone talks about Nadal steamrolling Hewitt as an ominous sign that he’s back to his unstoppable self. But really, since when was Hewitt ever that great of a threat on clay? Like Roger, it’s his worst surface, and unlike Roger, he really has no weapons to rely on in compensation. If I’m wrong, I’ll humbly eat my crow, but I say again, this is Fed’s year.


John Says:

Giner Said “What was the Sharapova/Schnyder debacle about?”

I don’t exactly know what Sean meant, but here are some synonym’s of debacle.

From http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/debacle

Main Entry: debacle
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: catastrophe
Synonyms: beating, blue ruin*, breakdown, collapse, crack-up*, crash, defeasance, defeat, devastation, disaster, dissolution, downfall, drubbing, failure, fiasco, havoc, licking, overthrow, reversal, rout, ruin, ruination, shellacking*, smash, smashup, trouncing, vanquishment, washout


John Says:

re: Sharapova/Schnyder match

I was rooting for Patty just to put my opinions in context.

Patty had, if my memory is correct, 3 match points. She also had that one very bad call where MS was awarded an ace and the score went to 40-0. The crowd was anti-umpire and pro-Patty, to the point that Patty thanked the fans. Patty then got the score back to 40-30 (when it should have been 30-30). MS won the next point and the game, on a ball that, IMO, was clearly in (but called out). I have this point on tape and have watched it in slow motion many times. It was definitely a bad call. But, Maria loved that call since it gave her the hold. The score was now 8-7 in the third. In the final game Patty was at 40-0 or 40-15 when MS decided that she needed a new racket (no strings broken that I know of) and got a delay of game warning. My guess is that Patty was steamed at this point and lost the remaining points which gave Maria the match.

Now, at this point the crowd was still anti-umpire and pro-Patty. Maria blew her kisses while the crowd was still going strong for Patty.

Patty then signed autographs before she left the stadium. This was a class act and one of the reasons that I root for her in the first place.

In a fair world, I think Patty would have won.


Skorocel Says:

May you be right, Seth! However I do think the situation before the Sunday’s final (if both Fed and Nadal advance there) will be a bit different for Fed compared to their last meeting in Hamburg. You may think he’s got virtually nothing to lose (since Nadal is obviously still the big favourite), but I still think the bigger pressure will be actually on Fed…

That said, I don’t consider Nadal’s win over Hewitt as a “menace” or something (the scoreline may indicate a crushing, but to me it wasn’t as if Nadal really owned Hewitt or something). Hewitt with his two-handed BH may have a better chance of handling that crazy Nadal’s topspin FH (compared to Fed), but he just doesn’t have the firepower to threat the Spaniard… I just hope he (Fed) won’t have any such lapses like he had today in the 2nd set if he plays Nadal on Sunday… Those 28 % of 1st serves in, well… Even juniors achieve higher numbers than this! Anyway, let’s see how Nadal fares against his “mentor” Moya tomorrow… That should be interesting to watch!


Joanne Says:

Been enjoying this discussion.That was interesting to see how well Fed can play and how badly,in the game against Robredo.I think it shows that he’s perfectly capable of beating Nadal,at any time.It also shows just how much his having control over the mental aspect is hugely important for him.There’s an articles in the Times,U.K. that captures the advantage and disadvantage regarding his having a gift that he can barely control/understand.Sometimes he’s able to let it flow through him,sometimes he thinks too much and stops the flow.Like he said ‘I couldn’t decide how to play him’(Robredo)That’s fatal.I think that’s what he did in last years final.He has said in the past that what screwed him up as a junior was having too many choices.Lets just hope he doen’t do this on Sunday,but just plays his game.Preferably as Seth says his A++ game.


Seth Says:

And can I just say that Nikolay Davydenko is a hero for taking down Willy Canas? Let’s give the man a medal to pin on his nifty new Airness shirts!


Seth Says:

And can I just say that Nikolay Davydenko is a hero for taking down Willy “Brick Wall” Canas? Let’s give the man a medal to pin on his nifty new Airness shirts!


Tejuz Says:

well .. Fed is playin well, but we see lots of shanks of his forehand this year on clay…

Maybe its got to do with his new racquet, Wilson (K) factor 90 sq in. Its got a small head… and probably when you go for extreme top-spin on clay, there are times when you shank some. I have bought the same racquet during Au Open.. extremely heavy compared to other ones. But i get good control over my shots and serves when i hit them flatter … but i end up shanking balls when i go for extreme top-spins. I know.. Fed would know better. But i guess that might be one of the reasons why he shanks so many of his forehands these days.


Djokovic Says:

I think if Djokovic beats Andreev in his QF match, the confidence drawn from the match may take him all the way.


samps Says:

Seth, I see your point. Its well taken. And Skorocel, I agree with you completely. I just said that the Hewitt match became impotant because he stretched Nadal there and this is perhaps a more truer reflection of the situation.

“I think it shows that he’s perfectly capable of beating Nadal,at any time”.
No Joanne, I am not sure thats what it means. I agree he has a very good chance, but he must prove that at RG by beating Rafa(if they both make it there that is). He played superbly against Robredo, yes but its still Robredo. It shows that Fed can raise his level(something we all know anyway) but from past matches it seems that its not enough against Rafa. In fact matches with Rafa often have a different nature because Fed is out of the blocks super fast and usually overwhelms Nadal in the start before the latter begins to match him. In Wimby last year it wasnt enough for Rafa because well, its wimby. But on clay its a different game. He rarely makes comebacks against Nadal because his(Rafa’s) game actually gets better with time.

In Hamburg, Rafa was playing crap from the start and the first set was more to Fed playing worse than him playing good. I am not convinced that Hamburg is a portend for RG but we ll soon know wont we?


grendel Says:

if Nadal is playing poorly on clay, even so, nobody can beat him except Federer (playing well, of course).
But if Nadal is playing at his best – and we can assume that he will be playing at his best in the final, as a consummate professional, he knows how to peak at exactly the right time) – then nobody can beat him, including Federer.
It follows, then, that Nadal will win the French Open. That is the logic of it.
Is there anything missing here? (aside from unforeseeables such as injury, er, Davydenko playing the spoiler’s role).
One possibility: Federer will win, because he will play better than he has ever played before and perhaps will ever play again. This is possible (although his win is still not guaranteed): but put like this, the overwhelming difficulty of Federer’s task is clear enough.
Still, these challenges are what make life interesting. You just never know…..


Deuce Says:

I really think Novak has a chance at Rafa in the semis. I would not think that this is a given with Rafa going to finals. If Davydenko plays like he did against Canas, then it will be a tough match though Fed should come out on top (considering that Fed has never lost to Davy so he has the edge mentally). Should be a good semis.

Separate note… heard that Justine did not attend the ITF awards during the French Open. She was given the outstanding female tennis player award and she blew it off. This is an award that is attended by juniors and wheelchair awardees. Would it kill her to spend an hour with them. Federer showed as the male recepient and spent an hour at the ceremonies. Class vs Non-class!!


John Says:

Giner Said: “What was the Sharapova/Schnyder debacle about?”

From: http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/debacle

Main Entry: debacle
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: catastrophe
Synonyms: beating, blue ruin*, breakdown, collapse, crack-up*, crash, defeasance, defeat, devastation, disaster, dissolution, downfall, drubbing, failure, fiasco, havoc, licking, overthrow, reversal, rout, ruin, ruination, shellacking*, smash, smashup, trouncing, vanquishment, washout


John Says:

re: The Sharapova/Schnyder debacle

I was rooting for Patty just to put my opinions in context.

Patty had, if my memory is correct, 3 match points. She also had that one very bad call where MS was awarded an ace and the score went to 40-0. The crowd was anti-umpire and pro-Patty, to the point that Patty thanked the fans. Patty then got the score back to 40-30 (when it should have been 30-30). MS won the next point and the game, on a ball that, IMO, was clearly in (but called out). I have this point on tape and have watched it in slow motion many times. It was definitely a bad call. But, Maria loved that call since it gave her the hold. The score was now 8-7 in the third. In the final game Patty was at 40-0 or 40-15 when MS decided that she needed a new racket (no strings broken that I know of) and got a delay of game warning. My guess is that Patty was steamed at this point and lost the remaining points which gave Maria the match.

Now, at this point the crowd was still anti-umpire and pro-Patty. Maria blew her kisses while the crowd was still going strong for Patty (also read still “booing” the call).

Patty then signed autographs before she left the stadium. This was a class act and one of the reasons that I root for her in the first place.

In a fair world, I think Patty should have won.


Seth Says:

Grendel,

Fed’s A++ game > Nadal’s A++ game.

Regardless of surface.

If Fed peaks in the final against Rafa, he will win. After Hamburg, he now has the self-belief needed to overcome Nadal. The point is not whether Nadal was at his best, whether Nadal was fatigued, whether the slower, wetter clay favored Fed, etc. The point is that the Hamburg final was a massive injection of confidence for Fed. And confidence has been the key missing ingredient thus far.

For that matter, we can claim that some of Nadal’s wins against Fed (this year’s Monte Carlo final, for instance) should be discarded as insignificant since Fed was fatigued, slumping, not at his best, whatever. If we wait on both players to show up in top form before we consider a match valid, then 9 matches out of 10 are rendered irrelevant.

I can only repeat, this is Fed’s year. If I’m wrong, I’ll humbly eat my words, but I don’t think I’m wrong.


Skorocel Says:

Seth, I simply love your comments! If only Roger was so confident as you are everytime he steps on the court vs Nadal:-) This is no irony – I simply like your positive thinking! I always used to be a pessimist rather than an optimist, so you have my full admiration! But seriously, I do think that Fed’s A++ game beats Nadal’s A++ game, but unfortunately NOT ON CLAY!

What that guy produced today vs Moya was just scary – he simply didn’t give him a chance! Against Hewitt he seemed to me rather slow, lethargic, but today he was like a flying machine! Some of the shots he was able to return back – simply insane! Certainly not a good sign for Fed… One positive thing: if Roger and Nadal advance to the final (and Djoker doesn’t stretch Nadal to 5 gruelling sets in the semis), at least there won’t be those talks about Nadal’s tiredness when the final is over:-)


grendel Says:

reasons for finding Justine Henin a right royal pain in the ass:
1). She practises relentless gamesmanship, scarcely distinguishable from cheating. Compared to her, Sharapova, no slouch in this respect, is even so a novice.
2). She goes on and on and on about her bloody mother – who died, apparently (unlike most people’s mothers) – and goes on about how she’s doing it all for her, for Mum. Not for Justine, of course. Never.
3). She’s quite incredibly intense, all the time, even off the court, without a glimmer of humour about her.
4). When she’s not doing it all for Mum, she’s doing it for her friends and family and people who are very special to ‘er, and of course never, never, never because she just wants to win.
5). She’s every bit as bad as the Williams sisters in terms of giving, or rather not giving, credit to her opponents. Actually, she’s much worse. the Williams are so outrageous as to be almost endearing, and there is a certain strange innocence about Serena in particular. Henin, however, is calculating. She makes it look as if she’s praising the other player, but between the lines you always hear:”Yes, she’s very good, of course – but I am much better. I just wasn’t myself today. You will see next time. Meanwhile, aren’t I generous in noticing this silly little player?” 6). She has an amazingly irritating habit of barking out “Allez!” in such a way that you know is designed to annoy the hell out of her opponent. She even does it after the other player doublefaults – if this is spontaneous, and it may be, then in a sense it’s even worse than if it were plain old devious.

Reasons for admiring Justine Henin: She is simply – for my money – the most extraordinary female tennis player who has ever played. I watch her, stunned with admiration, hoping to God she’ll lose. Talk about mixed feelings…..


Seth Says:

I share your sentiments about Henin, Grendel. Personally, she seems like a real cold fish, in addition to displaying the sort of subtle narcissism that’s far more calculating than Serena’s unconscious self-worship (in that regard, Serena is almost like a force of nature, with little self-awareness but total self-absorption, but I digress . . .)

But, all that aside, she is the only female tennis player I’m even remotely interested in watching. Her game is simply sublime.


Seth Says:

Oh, and a random note to all journalists covering professional tennis:

Never use the verb “ease” in your headlines. Ever. It has all the literary power of a wet dishrag.

“Nadal EASES into the French Open Semis,” “Federer EASES past Robredo.”

What, did Nadal simply float about the court, exerting no effort at all? Did Federer just breathe in Robredo’s general direction and then suddenly find himself in the next round? Come on! For those of you who live by the pen, wield it well.


claycourtrafa Says:

id federer is stretched by davy and nadal goes straight with djoko. nadal will have a huge mental advantage he will just keep the the points long and tiring and will have no problem goin for or five sets just as long to tire fed out


John Says:

re: The Sharapova/Schnyder debacle

It was a pleasure to see Ivanovic crush Maria today. It didn’t make up for the “MS/PS debacle” but it helped. Ana even overruled the line person’s call to give Maria her 1 game in the second set. A class gesture. Thanks Ana, you made my day.


Vicky Kreiser Says:

John – I couldn’t agree more.

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