NADAL, SPINNY LEFTIES STILL HOLD ADVANTAGE — Left-handers who know how to utilize their spin still hold a huge advantage on tour (up to a free point a game over right-handers as the legend goes?). Ask Roger Federer concerning Rafael Nadal. Ask Sam Querrey, who after losing tbadly to Stefan Koubek in the first round at the US Open threw out the gem that he has yet to beat a lefty at the tour level, and has always had problems with them. Maria Sharapova doesn’t like playing lefties, but her experience should be required reading for Querrey. “Yeah, it’s very tricky,” Sharapova said of facing the southpaws. “When I was younger especially I had a lot trouble, like an opponent today [Roberta Vinci] that comes in and chips and volleys, when I was younger I had a lot of trouble with those. Those are tougher opponents for me than big hitters or big servers because when I was younger I tried to go for the bigger shot so much faster than I do now and as I’ve grown as a player, I’m more patient, more consistent and I try to find the opening when it’s there.” Nadal’s game has been under Federer’s skin ever since the young Spaniard beat the Swiss in their first meeting, then went up two sets to love in the 2005 Masters Series-Miami final on hardcourts before eventually falling to Federer in five sets. “I was very worried today. Especially the first set, I don’t lose sets very often 6-2, so this really shows you that I was struggling,” Federer said after toughing out the Miami five-set win. “But I think it’s got a lot to do with his game. He’s left-handed, I had to get used to, and couldn’t quite do that.” The Swiss has yet to fully figure it out, judging by the career head-to-head with Nadal, trailing 8-5 (2-2 in 2007). While an Andy Roddick or James Blake would obviously be a boost for American tennis in the US Open final, a Federer-Nadal final would see the Swiss and Spaniard meeting in three of the four Slam finals this year, which would be a first in the Open Era. Back in the days before tennis became a sport open to all, Rod Laver and Neale Fraser met in three Slam finals in 1960, Laver and Roy Emerson met in three Slam finals in 1962, and Emerson and “Fiery” Fred Stolle met in three Slam finals in 1964.
LITTLE RED DRESS — Maria Sharapova didn’t hide her excitement about debuting her new red Nike dress Tuesday at the US Open: “I was trying to get through my warm-up as fast as I could so I could put the dress on actually. Not a joke,” Sharapova said. “Was pretty excited about putting it on. So I told my coach, I was like, ‘Last return and I’m out of here. I’m going in the locker room.’…When you feel good about what you’re wearing and you feel good about putting it on, yeah, you know what it’s like. Put on a nice outfit and some makeup and you’re the bomb.” And on the little black overcoat: “It’s very couture. It’s actually, the material comes — okay, if I say I think it’s Italian or either from Paris or Milan and they’re going to kill me if I got this wrong. But I think it’s from Milan. I only have two because they didn’t have enough material. But that’s really useless information in here,” said Sharapova, who enjoys talking fashion and then telling the mostly-older-male media that they don’t care. “But, yeah, it was — the idea of couture from the French couture shows.”
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