First, I have to give full credit to Roger Federer for playing in Paris when he really doesn’t need to be there. Federer has already wrapped up the year-end number one ranking, and he is playing his third tournament in as many weeks, a scheduling rarity for Fed. ADHEREL
Yesterday, Ivo Karlovic gave Fed all he could handle and more, but the Swiss proved too resilient breaking the improving Dr. Ivo three times. The win sets up today’s tasty meeting with David Nalbandian in a rematch of the Argy’s win over Fed two weeks ago in a stunning Madrid final. Already this year Fed has lost to an Argentine in consecutive meetings, that being Guillermo Canas. Fed will not want to have that happen again.
But this match is tricky. As was the case in Madrid, Nalbandian will have nothing to lose. The court also appears to be slower, which should help David who looked pretty good in two wins over Nicholas Almagro and Carlos Moya. Plus, the fact Fed’s played his last two matches against Ivo isn’t going to prepare him much for playing a guy like Nalbandian.
Fed also has to be weary of over extending himself physically. He’s played a lot of tennis in the last two-plus weeks and again, Paris offers him little in the way true motivation, though I don’t think Fed has ever won a title in the City of Lights, has he?
All that said, regardless of the situation I don’t think Fed wants to lose to a guy that’s already beaten him seven times including in their last meeting. So I will take Roger to get revenge and get through.
As for the rest of Paris, nice to see Novak Djokovic show up. Or whatever it was he did. I understand he was recovering from oral surgery on his wisdom teeth, but if you’re not at all hundred percent but rather 30% as Novak suggested why bother even playing.
Said Novak: “This was my last tournament before Shanghai, but I couldn’t give my 100 percent, not even 30 percent of my possibilities … He deserved to win. I’m still on medications.”
Novak, you say you were not even at 30% but Fabrice deserved to win? Obviously you are on meds. Enjoy ‘em, Novak. Santoro was also ailing with a bad knee.
Defending champ Nikolay Davydenko is again under fire for lack of effort. A week after getting fined in St. Pete for poor effort, Davydenko was booed off court this morning for his play in a 62, 62 loss to Marcos Baghdatis. Denko finished with 36 errors and 10 doubles.
”Serve like me,” chair ump Cedric Mourier reportedly advised Davydenko during the match. ”If you serve like me, you put it in the box. That’s it.”
Not to all players: It’s never a good sign when the chair ump is giving you serving advice. (Side note, isn’t on-court coaching illegal?)
Meanwhile, Rafael is showing up, and the Spaniard looks good thus far in wins over Volandri and today Wawrinka. I think the court and conditions suit him, too. But let’s see just how hard he pushes himself in the latter stages of this event with his ever-fragile body so my gut tells me he won’t reach the final.
The year-end race for that last spot remains rather interesting. I still like Richard Gasquet to get that last spot. Gasquet earlier sent home James Blake, who’ll drop from a 2006 year-end rank of No. 4 last year to outside the Top 10 after today.
I think Gasquet beats Murray Friday and then does in Federer/Ferrer/Nalbandian on Saturday. The two Tommy’s, Haas and Robredo, are still in the mix and ahead – I think – of Gasquet, but Haas will have to get past Youzhny – a shaky prop – and then Nadal, while I don’t think Robredo will be able to beat Baghdatis, so my pick remains Mr. Gasquet.
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