Nadal Avenges Tsonga Loss, Blake Next
by Sean Randall | March 20th, 2008, 11:55 am
  • 156 Comments

In spirit of March Madness, we had some good old fashioned bracket bustin’ going on yesterday at Indian Wells with James Blake, Mardy Fish and Tommy Haas scoring upsets. Then again maybe I’m just really bad at picking matches – for the record I have UCLA beating Georgetown in my just-completed basketball bracket!

But really revenge was the theme of the day Wednesday, and maybe it will become the ultimate storyline of the tournament (Federer v. Djoko final?).

We know of Rafael Nadal’s revenge win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Nadal, in my opinion, had no business winning that match even though JW was a shell of his playing level from Australia. Then again, we often do see players have difficulty following through shortly after reaching a first Slam final.

David Nalbandian got off the snide ending a four-match losing skid to Juan Carlos Ferrero, who had beaten the Argy easily in Melbourne. Nalbandian even won in straight sets.

Blake had never beaten Richard Gasquet in two prior tries until demolishing the Frenchman yesterday.

Tommy Haas lost a third set breaker to Andy Murray in last year at Indian Wells. This time it was Haas coming from a set down to win.

And Mardy Fish had lost his only career matchup with Lleyton Hewitt but now that series stands level after pulling out a third set breaker.

In all, five of the eight players who won yesterday had lost to their opponents in their previous meeting. Rather unusual if nothing else.

What it leaves us with is Roger Federer v. Tommy Haas, David Nalbandian v. Mardy Fish, Novak Djokovic v. Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal v. James Blake.

Today, revenge remains on the mind for defending champ Rafa against James Blake, who has never lost to the Spaniard in three meetings winning seven of eight sets. Blake’s had his way with Rafa, a testament to the American’s improved backhand, which years ago would have crumbled against Nadal’s heavy topspin. Rafa really hasn’t played that well this week and with the match under the lights I think Blake gets the edge here.

Djokovic’s nice-and-easy road continues this afternoon against Wawrinka. The Swiss has a good game with a really terrific one-hander, but just not enough firepower to get by Djoko.

Tomorrow we get Federer against Haas, who has the talent and the game to hang with the World No. 1, but can he keep his head in check and end a 7-match losing streak to the Swiss? Not likely. Fed’s been rolling thus far in part to a relatively easy draw.

Nalbandian and Fish is a bit of a crapshoot the way things are unfolding. Nalbandian should win it on paper but nothing is ever certain with Dave. Both have strong two-handed backhands and both are lucky to get this far. But Nalbandian’s now won 15 straight Tennis Masters Series matches, and I think he gets 16 in three sets.

That all said we’re probably headed for a Fish-Wawrinka final. That even looks bizarre on a computer screen. More bracket busters please.


Also Check Out:
Opinion: Which Roddick Will Show at Washington?
Americans Blake, Fish Swim to Forefront at ATP Estoril
Blake Will Pull for Roddick Against Federer at US Open
Federer Destroys Dent in Stockholm; Tsonga Falls in Moscow
James Blake To Retire After US Open

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156 Comments for Nadal Avenges Tsonga Loss, Blake Next

andrea Says:

Too bad for Tsonga – he had it. Even watching live scores on my computer with no visuals it was a bummer. Nadal fought back – give him credit. But he was on the ropes.


jane Says:

Much is this is “too bad” for Tsonga, I also think it’s good for him.

Voicemale makes some good points about Tsonga on the previous thread, that he is great when everything is going his way, but when the other player is winning, or things start going the other player’s way, Tsonga unravels – Voicemale’s terms for this was a “manic-depressive” player.

Tsonga does seem a bit like this; in his postmatch interview he even started complaining about Djoko’s ball-bouncing, in addition to the time Rafa takes between serves. I mean, let it go. He lost both matches fair-and-square, and he’s going to have to step up when he has the chance, like he did yesterday. He underestimated Rafa, and he lost. If anyone is not going to give up it’s the Spaniard; Tsonga should’ve known that and should’ve taken more care of his own serve.

Rafa deserved that win.


rogers twin sister Says:

Are you really serious when you say, “Nadal, in my opinion, had no business winning that match…??????” Are you for real? I saw the match, and it was a great one for both of them. Nadal won fair and square…get over it!


Dr. Death Says:

May I thank Grendel, Jane, MMT, etc., for the previous thread. Having missed almost all of the day’s action, the comments provided interesting thoughts to ponder.

Most of these players are products of their home country’s tennis associations and even more, the cultural heritage of those countries. The Spanish, French and certainly the Brits have created nationalistic machines to turn out players. This has been accomplished with varying degrees of success.

The products are finely tuned, egocentric machines with a nationalistic flavour. Most of the interviews commented upon, and the excuses given for a particular loss should not surprise us. To be the Next Big Thing in one’s home country is a heavy burden for which most are unprepared. To use Andy Murray as an example, a recent, typical headline in the London Times (hardly a rag owned by Americans) was “Murray flies flag from Britain in the Desert” One would think the poor wanker was leading the crusade to save Britain from the invading huns.

Compare those players’ attitudes and interviews to the one off types like Nadal who is the product of an independent, family supported system.

Did Nadal “deserve” to win? He won. All that matters. He charges toward the sound of the gunfire and that is courage.


jane Says:

Djoko’s off to a sluggish start against Wawrinka, who’s now up a break; Djok has to be careful here. The “other” Swiss is very steady, and if this afternoon heat will bug anyone it will be Novak.


grendel Says:

“London Times (hardly a rag owned by Americans)” – it is owned by an American, you know – or, strictly speaking, an Australian turned American. The Prince of Darkness himself, the egregious Rupert Murdoch. However, I agree, The Times is not a rag. Murdoch has other rags at his disposal in England – namely, The Sun, and The News of the World, the latter being barely better than pornography and in some ways, given its sanctimonious tone, worse.

b.t.w., Murray is not a product of the British tennis system – come on! Do you seriously imagine anyone would ever have heard of him if he had been? No, he learnt his tennis in Spain. The feverish British attempts to produce a homegrown tennisplayer constitutes one of the great comedies of our time.


Zola Says:

Jane,
I replied to your comments in the previous thread. Thanks for the congrats and I enjoyed reading all the comments.

Dr Death,
there is a tea party in the other thread. Coffee, chocolates and cookies are provided. (The tea is Von’s).come and join!

I can’t believe I missed that match but I am so glad Rafa won. I just love his calm and happy and well-rounded personality and the figher on the court. I think coming back from 2-5 on a hard court will give him lots of confidence.


Dr. Death Says:

Grendel – the LTA has spent a fortune on the dear boy and continues to support his entourage – Gilbert and post-Gilbert. The weight of the Empire is on his shoulders in return. He learned to drink sangria in Spain and not get a haircut. (As to Rupert M., he continues the tradition of printing what sells, but at least it is written in proper English. We ought to save Murdoch for another chat room.)

Enjoy the party! Packing for the airport. See you guys on line in a couple of days.


Shital Green Says:

The 1st set was a tough one for Djoko, but I knew he would try to shorten the 2nd set, and he did (7-6, 6-2). I am glad that it went without any mishap at the end. He will be waiting for the winner of Blake vs. Nadal. Djoko would prefer Blake, but I’m finding hard to take side in the rest of this half.


jane Says:

Hi Shital Green,

Glad the Djoker came through on what was clearly an “off” day for him. Yes, Djoko might prefer Blake, but remember that they’ve never played before so he’s an unknown entity. I’m finding it difficult to pick one on this half too. I’d imagine on the other half it’ll be either Federer or Nalby to come through.


Voicemale Says:

Sean:

I’ll assume your comment about Nadal having no business to win this match was more about admiration for his tenacity than a slight at his abilities. At least I hope so.

You’re correct in saying Tsonga didn’t play the way he did in Australia when he lost to Nadal here. But you seem to make the presumption that his level in Australia is the rule for him – rather than the exception. Given that he lost to Ancic in the first round of Marseille right after Oz, let’s come back down to earth and say that his AO run was a freaky streak to celebrate. But, just like a break of serve, he needs to back it up to be legitimate. So far, he hasn’t. There’s a chance he may yet become the next Marcos Baghdatis – another one that: made the AO Final while scalping big names along the way; displays a highly charged emotional show on court attempting to secure the crowd on his side; has similar serve and forehand shots – which have become all to predictable for opponents.

Nadal taught the flaky showman Tsonga a real lesson in what it takes to win a match like that. Think Tsonga wasn’t feeling the heat? He had 12 aces in the match, but all of them in the first 2 sets. Which means that in the caldron of the 3rd Set, he failed to serve up a single ace – in 12 games. In fact, this match looked very much like what Jimmy Connors did to Aaron Krickstein in their 5th Set at the 1989 US Open, when Jimbo clawed back from 2-5 to win that match. And Krickstein was never the same after that match. Jo-Willy could be feeling the hangover effects from this one for a while – especially since it was on his racquet.

Tsonga was stupid enough to think Nadal was gonna give it to him after Nadal basically broke himself with 2 nervous errors in the 3rd Set. But JWT got a lesson about what Never Say Die can do. Question is, was he listening?


grendel Says:

The LTA have discovered the merits of Murray rather late in the day. He learnt his tennis first in Scotland, then Spain. The LTA are spending vast sums of money on all sorts of projects – all blissfully doomed. As for Mr.Murdoch, he is an interesting phenomenon, and I have a sneaking regard for his sheer ruthless opportunism – for instance, supping with the devil in China, to the despair of those brave people fighting for freedom. But I do object to his interfering in the politics of my country – which he does on a grand scale. Alright, I know, wrong place for this. Sorry.


jane Says:

Sean,

Well it won’t be Wawrinka v. Fish in the final…

I suspect Nadal will have a tough one tonight for a few reasons: first, he’s got to be physically tired, after that grueling 3 hour match with Tsonga (remember how badly he lost to Youzhny in Chennai after that long semi against Moya?); second, he’s got to be somewhat mentally exhausted too – surely this was an emotional win against Tsonga, with the lead up and the recent history, and now, to top things off, he has to face Blake, another nemesis, and one he has never beaten; third, the crowd will be firmly on Blake’s side and Blake’s confidence has to be pretty high, given that he’s just beaten Gasquet, a player he’d never beaten before.

So all these things would seem to work against Rafa getting the “W” tonight.

Still, look at Rafa’s results at Wimbledon in 2007; who’ve thunk that he’d get to the final – and nearly win it – while watching him play Soderling or Youzhny there? Not I. And yet, that was the case.

I think Rafa will come through again tonight, but it should be a close match. If that’s the case, we’ll have a re-match of last year’s final, with Djokovic and Rafa playing for a spot in the final.


Voicemale1 Says:

Jane:

I think Nadal’s biggest problem will be the fact it’s a night match. The heat of the day will be gone, so the ball won’t have as much action on it as the air cools. That will help Blake and hurt Nadal.


jane Says:

Voicemale,

Yeah, you make a good point which I’d not really thought of; Rafa’s spin won’t be as effective and Blake’s fast, flat shots will be more effective.

I guess it depends to an extent on day form too; Gasquet was clearly off his game last night, and Blake was hitting the ball well, both of which helped Blake win through.

It is a tough one to call, but I just see Rafa persevering for some reason.


jane Says:

Rafa’s got the first set but Blake’s currently up a break in the second, which he’s just consolidated to go up 3 – love. Stay tuned: if anyone can come back from behind it’s Tenacious R.


Sean Randall Says:

Rogers Twin, yes, i was serious, hence why I wrote it. Rafa played like garbage for much of the much – though Tsonga didn’t do much better – and Tsonga should have closed that out when serving for it in the third. But Nadal was too mentally tough. Credit to him as Voicemale points out.

Voicemale, as I wrote it’s amazing how common it is for players to falter after reaching their first Slam final, so that’s really why I had little hope to Tsonga at Indian Wells (or in Miami or in Davis Cup). He’ll get back to that level eventually, when that is is pure speculation. I do think both he and Baghdatis have a Slam in them at some point. Maybe multiple.

Thanks Jane, sorry to see my dream of a Fish-Wawrinka squashed. I missed all the play today, though I just got home to catch the second set of Blake-Nadal which appears to be heading three.

Actually, I did manage to sneak one point and only one point from Djoko and Stan, and that was the point Djoko won the first set on. Pretty incredible point, one of the best I’ve ever seen!

All those things you mention going against Rafa can actually be a plus as perhaps it takes the pressure off and loosens him up.

A theory on Federer, by basically announcing that he battled mono he somewhat takes the pressure off himself as he nears Pete. Mono does tend to last and remerge so people will not expect to him to perform at the highest levels that we’ve seen from him.

By the way on the topic of Rafa at Wimbledon, I wrote way back that he had a better shot at winning Wimbledon than Roger the French. I still stand by it. http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2006-06-18/62.php

As for the rest of this Blake-Nadal match, tough call, from what little I’ve seen looks like Rafa is playing better than yesterday, but I still give James the slight edge.


Sean Randall Says:

If there was an award for most improved shot James Blake would have to win it for his backhand. He’s always had a big forehand, return of serve, speed, but his backhand four/five years ago was a serious liability. No longer. It’s not pretty but effective and often offensive.


jane Says:

Yep – while I gave Rafa the edge before, I am not so sure now that the match is going to three sets. Blake got the one break early in the second and that’s all he needed. He’s got the momentum going into the third. Additionally, the crowd will really rally (try saying that 10 times fast) behind him now. So it will be tough for Rafa to hang on here.


jane Says:

Rafa is definitely playing better tonight than yesterday, but Blake is playing a very nice match too, hitting the ball cleanly down the line, cross court, and, when he gets there, showing some nice touch at the net. But Blake essentially gave away the first set, in a way, with that VERY POOR challenge on set point – major brain cramp there.

Alas, Blake’s just been broken in the third set, so Rafa serves for it at 5-3.


Sean Randall Says:

Sounds like Justin Gimel and James Blake are dating. Or at least Justin’s in love with him. Imagine. Maybe not.


Shital Green Says:

Rafa finally gets the monkey off his back. I am all pumped for Djoko vs. Nadal semi.


jane Says:

And there it is – Tenacious R wins another close one! Sean I hope you’re not a betting man. LOL.

Can the Djoker stop Rafa? Djoko hasn’t beaten / played him in a while, has he? Not since Canada I think. Should be another fantastic match as they’ll both be rested. That’ll be a schizo match for him as I’ll be rooting for both of them.


Sean Randall Says:

I missed the line call of course, but James did play well until that last stretch. More revenge for Rafa, and now Djoko. I originally picked Novak in that one but I think Rafa gets through.


jane Says:

I thought Justin was in love with Roddick? Or maybe it was Bartoli – ha-ha-ha.


Sean Randall Says:

No betting for me Jane, but if you did the reverse of what I say you’d do alright I reckon!


jane Says:

Durrr – I meant schizo match for me.


jane Says:

It is a tough one to call; I would definitely pick Djoko but after today he sure didn’t look his best, and Rafa seems to be getting better. If it’s a day match, and hot or windy, then it’s gotta be Rafa. He deals with the elements better. But if it’s late afternoon or evening, then I’d say it’s a crapshoot.


Sean Randall Says:

I actually think Novak’s a bit intimidated by Rafa. Just a hunch.


Shital Green Says:

Sean,
Two days ago, I said, “Rafa will get past Djoko,” but I am at the middle of the crossroad now. Djoko is playing better, but Rafa is more determined to win. There will be more more pressure on Rafa, and Djoko will be playing with a lot less worries. I simply don’t know who will come out of it.


Sean Randall Says:

Shital, determined is the key word. Rafa looks very determined whereas I’m not sure where Djoko’s head’s at. Rafa also should be feeling less pressure, after all he’s lucky in some ways to have gotten past Tsonga and I think he was the underdog against Blake, so he should feel pleased making as far as he has under the circumstances.

Rafa’s also been through the fire this week while Djoko has had it fairly easy.

Although if this was Hollywood the revenge theme would really play out nicely if Fed beats Nalbandian then beats Djoko. Then again, Hollywood isn’t that far away is it?


jane Says:

James played really well; for Rafa to come through that suggests he has the momentum to beat Djoko, who looked sluggish against Wawrinka today (in the afternoon heat). Mind you, Novak looked wicked against Canas. I really believe scheduling will play into it. But maybe confidence, mental focus, will be another factor. Either one of these guys can beat the other one on any given day. Normally Djoko has the edge on hardcourts, but this court is suited to Rafa’s game.

So many factors – this one is up in the air for me – can’t call it and don’t really want to. Just want to sit back and enjoy the tennis as two of my faves exchange shots.


jane Says:

That’d be a bit too Hollywood for me Sean – but it’s definitely possible; it is la-la land after all. It’d sure make a lot of Federer fans extremely happy to see!


Zola Says:

Vamos Rafa for another sensational win!
I am just so glad that he has tomorrow off. That will give him enough time to rest. He has beaten two very tough opponents. Blake played one of his best tennis matches, but still was not able to win. These two matches will help a lot with his confidence. He has found a way to play against aggressive players and that is just fantastic news.


Kash Says:

I have a hunch that the winner is going to be coming from the top-half. djoko on a hard-court is always dangerous, but he’s kind of half-cooked. ofcourse the nadal match might bring him to life, but that match, i cant believe i am saying this, will come down to who plays less crappy tennis.

fed-haas – fed should be fine as long as he stays off the haas bh and stops taking those mid-match siestas which are becoming more frequent.

nalby and fish is totally on nalby’s racket. the M-P nalby should be able to crush fish, but even nalby doesnt know whether it will be M-P nalby or crappy nalby that shows up.

all said, fed/nalby sf is shaping up quite nicely with nalby having decimated jcf and generating hopes of another masters run….. fed-ex, himself, is getting his game fine-tuned for the weekend. nadal has tiny hope of winning against either of those two….. (his confidence should be quite high if he gets to the final beating djoko though!)

djoko is the better bet in that semi-final and honestly, djoko is the better hard-court player and if his breathing holds up, he can run rafa ragged!


Kash Says:

I wish more players do what james did before the start of the match today. Request the chair to keep a timer on rafa.

one safe prediction for the rafa-djok sf is that neither of those 2 will make any such request ;)

another thing i noticed was the commentator on the atp feed said that nadal needs to do something other than playing one-dimensional baseline tennis to beat james. roger must have had a huge grin when he heard that bit and said

“welcome to my world, bitches! rafa and murray are one-dimensional, novak is a silly rabbit running for injury breaks. roddick and ljubicic have the most complete game” :D

seriously though, it is strange to see a top-player’s match depend on his opponents’ racquets like nadal’s does when he plays a aggressive player. it is all fun and good to grit out matches like rafa did the last two days but it becomes quite boring if that is your only way of winning. i wish nadal plays like he did in the last couple of games against james. Nothing’s more fun than serious shot-making like the kind blake did in the 2nd set where rafa was made to run around the court like an insane puppy….


jane Says:

For those tennis fans stuck with FOX coverage (I’m not; TSN seems to be airing another feed – maybe it’s the ATP coverage, not sure) here’s a good NY Sun article slagging the coverage, including Gimelstob’s apparently inane comments:

http://www.nysun.com/article/73397

Kash,

I thought Rafa hit some serious shots tonight, not only at the end of the 3rd set; some of his returns (of second serves especially) were awesome, simply put, unreturnable returns. His defense is out of this word; he’s so, incredibly fast. Points would be over against anyone else but Rafa manages to retrieve and not just get the ball back, but place it so well and put something on it. I’m no expert but that’s the view from here.


jane Says:

Rafa and Novak’s H2H is 6-2 for Rafa; however, only 4 of those 8 matches have happened on handcourts, and those have been split evenly between the two: Canada and Miami went to Novak, while Shanghai and Indian Wells went to Rafa — all in 2007.

Yet another reason why this semi is so tough to call.

Fed will win easily against Haas and I’m 80% sure we’ll see him in the final; if Nalby is to meet Fed in the semi, however, then maybe that percentage would drop a little. I’m not sure what I’d rather see: a Rafa v. Fed match (Fed won easily in Shanghai but these are different circumstances) or and Djoko v. Fed match (wherein Fed would be out for blood).


Zola Says:

Jane,
thanks for the link. Great article.

I am so lucky I don’ have FSN!


Voicemale Says:

What was impressive about Nadal in his last two matches are the changes he’s subtly bringing into his game. Tonight, we saw more of the hard, flat serve down the middle for aces; and he employed the planted-stance-right-on-the-baseline-short-back-swing-reply to return Blake’s 2nd serve at 4-3 in the 3rd Set to set up each of his break points. The look on Blake’s face told the story as he watched each of those returns fly past him: “Rafa doesn’t do THAT!!”.

Nadal seems bent on proving he truly is the World Number 2 on any surface, period. His last two matches showed him out gutting & out thinking 2 guys who enhanced the mantra of “Rafa is only ordinary or lucky on hard courts”. He was outplayed for long stretches in each match, but he did what the very best players routinely do: he played the points that mattered better than Tsonga and Blake.

Most will rightly say Djokovic is favored in their Semi by virtue of his AO title – and he’ll carry the weight of expectation because of it. But as others mentioned – Nadal may have a lot less fear & anxiety against Djokovic than either of the other two. Blake owned Nadal; and Tsonga took him to the woodshed in Australia. But Rafa & Novak have split 4 hard court clashes, and the score lines have all been close – there were no blow outs. Djokovc is favored to win, and wouldn’t surprise anyone if he did. He’s supposed to, after all. Hard courts are his territory (according to the Conventional Wisdom). But after what I’ve seen this week – it wouldn’t shock me a bit if Nadal figured out a way to get himself right into Sunday’s Final. Glad I’ll be there in person to see it all!!


Kash Says:

Jane:

If you saw all the games except the last 2 or 3, blake was out-hitting rafa. James was setting the tone and rafa was following it. That seems a very passive way of doing things. Agreed that rafa has got the best defense, but that is not a wise way to play matches on hard-court.

Djokovic seemed to make the same mistake up until the us-open. Get into unnecessary base-line duels instead of keeping the points short and playing 1st strike tennis. Starting with the aussie open, he is showing some urgency in finishing points as well as matches quick enough. That always helps the player during the course of a tournament and even maybe over the long-run. Rafa needs to get more aggressive and use his defense on clay. As of now, rafa has as much aggression as a-rod’s defense on non-clay courts.

I think Novak beats nadal in 2 day-after. Nadal has been mediocre on the hard-courts since winning IW last year. Novak’s game is just supreme on hard-courts compared to nadal’s. Nadal will need novak to be off his game to win the game on sat. The interesting dynamic here as opposed to a roger-rafa meeting is that nadal is under more pressure. In a roger-rafa match, roger is the top-dog and he is the guy who has everything to prove. Novak-rafa, novak is the chaser and rafa needs the big W more than novak.

Nadal is fortunate in the sense that he gets to play novak and roger more on clay courts than on non-clay courts. rafa is 8-6 against roger overall and 6-1 on clay and 2-5 on non-clay. So 50% of their meetings have been on rafa’s fav surface even though the clay swing is only 2months as opposed to other 7 months which is non-clay.


Kash Says:

“Nadal seems bent on proving he truly is the World Number 2 on any surface, period. ”

>>>>> Grass – no titles.
HC – no title in a year
Indoor, no title since madrid 05?

they dont look like stats a no.2 player on any surface, has.


Kash Says:

another hard fact for rafa fanatics :

How many titles has rafa defended on non-clay surfaces?

Zero=nada!

The good news is that rafa is still a kiddo :) So he has time on his side. Right now, he is just an ok player on other surfaces. I could say good on grass, but HC and carpet, he has to win more consistently before being anointed no.2 on any surface. He is a run-away no.1 on clay for sure :)


zola Says:

voicemale
another great comment.

I think what makes a difference for Rafa is his confidence. His determination can be scary to many players and their fans, as we can even see from the “hate comments” posted on this thread. Rafa got a very difficult draw, but each win made him more confident. I so hope he can win over Djokovic. He can certainly do it.


zola Says:

voicemale,

I forgot to add: “have a great time in IW”. that must be very exciting.


veedub Says:

I have a horrible fear we will never see FED win another slam which I so hope is wrong Huge Fed fan but it is becoming painful watching him, waiting for that awesome magic and control–just seems to be a shadow of his previous majesty


Von Says:

Kash:

“..roddick and ljubicic have the most complete game”

Are you making fun of Andy? He’s my cub, so beware. :)


Zola Says:

veedub
***I have a horrible fear we will never see FED win another slam which I so hope is wrong ***

Stars like Federer don’t die instantly. He may not be as dominant as 2006, but he won’t finish a year without winning several titles. Of course, if I was a Fed fan, I would have been disappointed that he did not win AO, but he was sick at that time.

Last year he lost twice to Canas, then to Volandri and then went back to play final in french and win Winmledon, USOPen and Shanghai….So, my advice is to wait a little bit. He will be fine. So far he is doing great in IW. If the final is between Rafa and Fed, I hope Rafa wins, but if for any minute chance Rafa goes out, I hope Fed gets the title.


Voicemale Says:

Kash:

Wanna talk about defending? Given what Djokovic has to defend in 2008, let’s see if he’s up to THAT. Not only is he defending numerous points, but those points are spread out over a LONG space on the calendar. He has Semis-or-Better points to defend in: Indian Wells, Miami, Estoril, The French, Wimbledon, Cincinnati, The US Open, Vienna, and Madrid. Yeah, he plays his best stuff on hard courts, but he doesn’t dominate on hard courts – he’s not Federer. Djokovic will face plenty of guys on the tour that have taken him down on hard courts: Federer, Roddick, Nalbandian, Ferrer, Gasquet, and for that matter, even Nadal. To think he can fend off that group (plus others) day in and day out for the next 8 months to keep the points he has will be a TALL order, to say the least. He doesn’t have a lot of room for any mistakes, nor for any of his other court-side changeover medical dramas we’ve frequently seen over the last 2 years. Best of luck to him.


jane Says:

Kash,

Your obviously right that as far as outright winners go Blake was outhitting Rafa, but Rafa was is quick to turn defense to offense (and so quick period) that he forces errors on the other end. I guess I don’t see that as passive.

Voicemale,

Grrrr. You get to go? I’m envious but have fun. It’ll be interesting to see if Rafa goes for winners of 2nd serve returns against the Djoker; I expect he will.


Voicemale Says:

Not Cincinnati – but Canada


jane Says:

Voicemale, Djoko lost in the first round or something in Cinncy, which was right after he titled in Canada, beating Roger, Rafa and Roddick.

I expect Djok to come pretty close defending his points this year; so far, other than in Paris and the Masters at the end of l.y., he’s been pretty consistent if not better so far in 08. He bettered his result at the AO (obviously) and in Dubai he did better than l.y. So far, he close to equalling his l.y. results here, and even if he loses to Rafa it’s not bad or inconsistent since it’s a rematch of l.y.’s final. What I am interested to see is how well he plays on clay.

Rafa may have a few more contenders to deal with this year on clay.


grendel Says:

“Rafa may have a few more contenders to deal with this year on clay.”

For instance?

Resurrection of Kuerten, perhaps? That would have been good to see – proper Keurten against Nadal on clay. One pointer: when Kuerten beat Federer in FO, he was much more convincing than even Nadal. Federer looked totally bewildered. Unfortunately, Kuerten ran out of gas in later stages.


Kash Says:

Von:

Feel free to amend A-rod’s name with any player of your choice :) I donot if I mentioned this earlier but A-rod was fun to watch at dubai. That is the most I have liked A-rod’s game since the summer run of 03. I hope he will keep finding that dubai form more often.

Jane:

I agree that rafa has that ability turn defense into offense very quickly but remember the game blake got broken at 4-1 in the 1st? Rafa did absolutely nothing and blake missed bread and butter shots. In the 2nd he made those and did not look back. The trouble for rafa on hard-courts is that his style of game is harder to impose on the faster courts than that of shot-makers like federer, djoko, nalbandian, and a lot of times even baggy or a-rod. The way nadal plays hard-court tennis is not a good long-term idea. I guess the question is if nadal wants to win just 1 usopen or multiple us opens. As of now novak is a better bet to win multiple hard-court slams than rafa is. I hope gasquet will get his head fixed and join that shot-maker group.

Speaking of gasquet, He is at the exact juncture where fed was 5yrs back. Safin and hewitt had won GS and fed had none. 5yrs on Fed is 2 short of the all-time mark and safin and hewitt are in the dumps. Will history repeat so soon? Not that I want to see rafa/djoko in the state safin/hewitt are at, but will 1slam do it for gasquet? will he win a slam anytime soon?

I also agree with you that Rafa will have a tougher time this year on clay. If he draws nalbandian in his quarter at MC, things could get interesting very very fast! Nalbandian is like the joker in the pack who can trouble fed on grass or joker on hc or nadal on clay. Having said that, nadal has been there and done that 3yrs in a row, so it is going to take some special games to stop him from repeating.


Kash Says:

Voicemale:

Are you saying nadal is a better hc player than novak? Starting with last year’s IW, novak is way ahead of rafa on HCs. He was in USopen final and won Aus open. The HC gap between djoko and nadal is definitely widening with djoko on the better side of that gap.

We will see how good novak is with the defending, but all I am saying is Nadal has not done a great job of defending titles on non-clay surfaces. He won 1 HC title in 06 (dubai) and 1 in 07. I dont think that qualifies him for a no.2 ranking on HCs. He needs to win multiple HC titles in a year to achieve that. So I would say djoko is the no.2 HC player and is making fast progress towards the no.1


Kash Says:

“but all I am saying is Nadal has not done a great job of defending titles on non-clay surfaces. ”

To be precise, Nadal has NEVER defended titles on non-clay surfaces!


jane Says:

Grendel,

Well, I agree with Kash that if Nalbandian steps up he could be a real factor on clay this year (on any surface for that matter). Maybe I am over-estimating Djokovic, but given that he got to the semis of RG last year and lost only to Rafa, he’s another contender on the clay this year (he could also be a factor on the grass if he keeps matches short). Ferrer will be a greater threat this year, too, perhaps. And then there are the Frenchies, like Gasquet (another grass contender), and even Tsonga (another grass contender), who, if they get their games together and are consistent, certainly stand a chance of challenging for clay titles, no? And I haven’t even mentioned Federer, who is an obvious contender for clay titles. Nor have I mentioned Murray; I am not sure of his results on the dirt.

And I think Federer will be even more challenged at Wimbledon this year, as I implied above.

It seems to be that assuming Rafa will win RG and Fed will win Wimbledon is not realistic; I think if people like Gasquet, Djoko, Murray and Nalby are focused and on form, those titles are up for grabs. I realize that’s a big “if” and consistency is key, but so far this year has been bucking tradition, and I expect it will continue to.

These are speculations of course, and I do not profess to be any kind of expert. Call them hunches then.


jane Says:

Maybe the Frenchies not so much on clay, though Gasquet did get to the MC quarters l.y.; Tsonga’s more of an unknown because he’s not been in the mix. Murray’s results have not been good on clay but he missed a lot of l.y. too. So… but definitely Ferrer, Djoko, and Nalby – maybe too Almagro if this year’s early clay tourneys are an indication (mind you the fields were lighter) – could be serious contenders.


grendel Says:

Well, I’d already thought of Nalbandian – he’s not more, or less dangerous than he always has been. He’s the great unknown. Sorry, can’t believe Djokovic has any chance against Nadal on clay – he tried really hard last year, and lived with Nadal for nearly a set – then it was effectively over. Can’t believe he’s improved that much to be a threat. Ferrer seems to be gone.

Can’t see anyone except Nalbie and Fed – old guard. You never know. But.

As for Wimbledon, that’s wide open.


jane Says:

Just focusing on this tournament here for a moment -If we get a Nalbandian v. Federer semi to accompany the Rafa v. Novak one, for what more could we ask?


Zola Says:

Jane,
I just read that Haas is out and Fed got a walkover to semis ( Lucky guy!). So, at least half of your wish has come true. I don’t think Fish is any match for Nalbandian.

NAlbandian surprises me so much. I think he has the talent to be No 1 on any surface. I think he only lacks the discipline to do it consistently. I think he is dangerous to everyone on any surface only if he wishes and it is almost scary.


jane Says:

Fish just took the first set; Nalby is misfiring & netting it a lot so he definitely helped Fish, whose first serve % isn’t even that great so far.

What’s with Haas v/Fed? Is Fed paying him? Haas gave Fed a walk-over at Wimbledon last year too! Crazy.

Well this will make Fed’s task much easier; he’ll be rested and Djok or Rafa will likely be zonked from their match. At this point, it’s looking like Fed’s title to take. A different perspective might be that Fed won’t have been tested much pre-final so it could hurt him. Hmmmmm……


Zola Says:

Jane,
I can’t believe that Fish took the first set. what is wrong with Nalby? He is like Safin, just loves to waste that talent.

I don’t know if Fish is playing out of this world. Maybe Nalby is tanking so that he doesn’t have to face Fed! who knows! It is amazing how many times people talk about cupcake draws for Rafa and fed end up eating the cupcakes. Look at Wimbledon and now here.

You are right. The downside might be the lack of match play, but that hardly hurts him when he is at this stage of a tournament.

About HAas, I am very pissed. I think the sooner he retires, the better the ATP tour will be.


jane Says:

Yes it seems VERY LAME of Haas to retire NOW after beating both Roddick and Murray – and from what? An apparent “sinus” infection. Pathetic. Lame. Ridiculous. Other players play through colds and injuries – and even mono – Tommy can’t handle a sinus infection? Give it a go at least and retire if need be. Look at Lindsay Davenport, at least she went on the court and played at set.


jane Says:

Nalby seems slow today and he’s making a lot of errors, kind of like Djoko yesterday; it’s not that Fish is playing fantastic. Fish is playing well, but not out of this world – his 1st serve % is still only 49% and he has only 8 aces.


Zola Says:

Jane,
so true. Rafa played with Ferrer with an injured knee. Seeing him sitting on that court was painful, but he let Ferrer play the match. Federer played while under medication for stomach flu in AO. I don’t think anyone would have blamed any of them if they withdrew.

Of course they have more points at stake than Haas. But it means that the lower ranked players can withdraw as they wish. Doesn’t really matter if you are 36 or 46! ATP has to find a solution for this and at least investigate these timely withdrawls. I think Haas is just intimidated by Fed and doesn’t want to play. It is a shame!


jane Says:

I totally agree with you Zola; Rafa played at the USO when he was clearly in pain; or think of Agassi near the end of his career, going out there under duress rather than withdrawing, or Fed playing at the AO this year. These are champion athletes, who, unless they absolutely had to, would not withdraw mid tournament.

Maybe you’re right that it has something to do with what is a stake (points) but still.

I think Fed is paying Haas (I’m kidding!!!).

What the heck? It seems crazy to withdraw at this stage in a tournament for a cold. Haas must really be feeling terrible. I can say that if Roddick or Murray were still around, I doubt either would retire with a sinus infection. It must be a humdinger for Haas to withdraw.

Just joking here too, but at least Djoko only retires…. :-)


Zola Says:

Jane,

Maybe Joko is paying Haas, to make his retirements look better!(kidding!)

Anyway! As you said, who knows, it is just a bummer. I wish Roddick or Murray were around. I think they are far more serious about tennis than Haas. I really think he should retire.


jane Says:

This Fish v. Nalby match is rather boring so far; in this second set there have been flashes of Nalbandian’s talent (and Fish’s) but nothing spectacular.

This match is on Nalbandian’s racquet. He’s just won the second in a t.b. ; maybe this’ll get him pumped up and he’ll pull away in the third.

Nalbandian’s style reminds me a little bit of Djoko’s at times; the two-handed backhand, the depth of his shots. He’s DEFINITELY a lot more relaxed though.


jane Says:

Nalby blows it serving for the MATCH. Ugh. Ugly.


jane Says:

So a well-rested Federer against Fish, to whom he has never lost. Sigh. Maybe Fish will manage a tighter match; he seems on a roll. But I’d say Fed’s through in two relatively easy sets.


Zola Says:

Jane,
I just watched the last game and the tie-break. That Nalby was no use against Federer. Very sloppy and sluggish. I think Mardy is more composed and determined. either way, I think fed’s path to the final is already paved. Somehow he is the lucky guy in these situations. The same thing happened in Wimbledon. Rafa went through hell and fire while Fed was resting. I hope Rafa can pull it off against Djoko tomorrow. For Fed, I don’t think there is any doubt. maybe we can speculate on the number of games Fish can win against Fed!


Zola Says:

The only thing that I liked in Fish-NAlby match , was Fish’s expressions. He seemed so enthusiastic to win the match that I was really happy that he won. Nalby on the other hand, was just too un-interested!


jane Says:

Funny Zola; I just read an article called “The Nalbandian Personality Type”. Here it is:

http://mvn.com/tennis/2008/03/18/1041/

One does wonder what’s going on in Nalby’s head at times; someone should take his pulse. Don’t know how he could’ve blown it like that serving for the match, but so Fish wins it.

How many games? Well the last time Fed and Fish met is was here and Fed won 6-3, 6-3.

That seems about right. Unless Mardy pulls a one off Fed basically cruises into the finals avoiding any sort of nemesis (Murray, Nalby) along the way.

Meanwhile, Rafa has had to fight tooth and nail; Djoko not as much, but he will have to fight to beat Tenacious R.


Von Says:

Congrats to Mardy! Seems there’s still some life left in American tennis after all. Even though some might view this as a one-off, we’re grateful and not picky — we’ll take our wins any which way we can. Goodluck in the semis, mardy!


jane Says:

Von,

I meant Mardy winning against Fed might be a one-off, but he sure did seem determined today, and hey, he hung in there when Nalby didn’t so he deserved the win.

It must be nice for American/local fans to have one of their own still in it. Good luck to him in continuing his run. He’s soon to be married, isn’t he? Maybe he’s feeling relaxed, settled, lucky?


jane Says:

And about American tennis – of course there’s still life in it! You still own the Davis Cup trophy; Roddick & Sam just won titles two weeks ago; Blake played fantastically well against Rafa last night; and now Fish is in the semis. Nothing to fret about there.


Shital Green Says:

jane and Zola,
Yes, Djoko will “retire” in all senses after hoisting up the big trophy with his two long hands above his head. “Just kidding !”
We have number 1, 2, 3, and one surprising American star, who has been always under-appreciated. I cannot ask for more. I am just looking forward to a great semi and final. It matters little to me whoever wins, except maybe Fed because he has won enough in his life.


jane Says:

Shital Green,

” It matters little to me whoever wins, except maybe Fed because he has won enough in his life.”

LOL; I couldn’t agree more.


Zola Says:

Shital,

I wouldn’t mind if Fish was in RAfa’s draw and Joko in Fed’s !

But that said, Fish seemed very determined and he certainly won that match. he shot 22 aces to Nalby, unbelievable! I hope he plays with the same attitude tomorrow and at least give Fed a match.


jane Says:

Zola, Shital Green,

Rafa and Djoko’s match is after 1:00 tomorrow, which means it may favor Rafa, with the heat and his topspin, etc. We’ll see.

Mardy and Roger’s match is directly following theirs.


sensationalsafin Says:

I hope Federer wins the title. He should easily beat Fish. And in the final he’s gonna face one of his two biggest rivals. As much as I wanna see Federer pummel Nadal again and come closer to evening the score, I want Djokovic to even his score with Nadal and then I want Federer to rock Djokovic. Maybe then he’ll stop all his smart remarks. I doubt it but I want Federer to strut his stuff once more. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Federer do something amazing when it mattered most.


Zola Says:

sensationalsafin,

Federer has been very lucky the way the draw played out for him. So, his only serious match will be the final. To me , it is not something very amazing. Perhaps he can do that in Miami.


sensationalsafin Says:

Yeah his draw has been pretty easy since all his nemisises have lost, but he can still be amazing in the final. Djokovic and Nadal will force him to play his best if he wants to win, and it’s amazing when he does that.

On a sidenote, I was looking at the H2H between our super 3 and it’s just amazing how close they all are. Federer vs Nadal AND Federer vs Djokovic matches are just stuffed with tiebreakers. There are just so damn many. Djokovic and Federer have played atleast 1 breaker in their last 4 matches. Interesting though that Djokovic and Nadal haven’t played even one against each other… But still. Talk about great rivalries. Truly great ones.


Skorocel Says:

Congratulations to Mardy for a simply phenomenal performance! Though I haven’t seen that many matches from him in the past, I really must say it was a joy to watch him yesterday! Whenever there was a chance, he simply went for it! It was so simple, yet all the more beautiful! And that’s how it should be played on hardcourts! Go for a winner, not just stand 3 m behind the baseline and wait for the opponent’s mistakes…

Summed it up, it was perhaps the best (and surely the most dramatic) match in the whole tournament thus far – there’s no doubt! As for Nalby, I really feel sorry for him, since he too produced some excellent shots (especially at some crucial breakpoints) and without doubt deserved to win as well, but in the end, I guess the better man won yesterday…


Kash Says:

“I wouldn’t mind if Fish was in RAfa’s draw and Joko in Fed’s !”

>>>>> Like Rafa had Tsonga at Aus open 08 and fed had to deal with Djoko?

or Aus open 07 where fed had to deal with djoko and a-rod while Rafa promptly lost to Gonzo?

What about USopen 06 where nadal lost to youzhny? I think it is not enough to get a lemon. You need to know how to make lemonade out of that!

I guess the sf today is absolutely critical for nadal getting to the no.1 position. If he loses this match he will lose 275 points if he doesnt beat djoko today.


Zola Says:

Kash

well,
I declare Federer the best lemonade-maker in the world then!

seems you have some personal scores to settle with Rafa. Whatever happens today, he has had two great matches on hard courts and I am very happy for him. If he shows up with the same determination and if he is healthy, he can still go for the title!


Zola Says:

Sean,

I think you can still watch these matches live on
http://www.channelsurfing.net

also
http://www.tvunetworks.com ( choose starsports).


Shital Green Says:

Zola,
Rafa showed some good signs early on. He just broke Djoko in the 3rd game. Smile !


Shital Green Says:

Djoko says hold on to your smile, Zola. Now I am smiling that he just broke back in the 4th game.


Raul Says:

This is a no-contest when Novak’s game is on. Like the 7th game there. Nadal could have just sat down and got some extra rest there. 2aces, 1 service winner and and a serve-fh winner combo.
That is just excellent 1st strike tennis. Keep up the goodwork Djoko.


Shital Green Says:

Djoko is about to take the 1st set. He is 5-3. The umpire complains about Rafa’s untimely resting. LOL.


sensationalsafin Says:

Idk this umpire’s name but he is officially my favorite umpire. I admit I’m a little biased against Nadal, but I agree with the call 100%. Even if it was Djokovic in this position I would agree with the call. Nadal can complain all he wants but I guess he sees that Djokovic is gaining momentum and Nadal wants to disturb it. Great call, ump! Keep up the great work!


Shital Green Says:

Djoko takes the 1st set. Excellent rallies, but a lot of times Nadal just happens to hit long off the baseline. Djoko seems to be under control. Nadal just called his trainer in between the set. Djoko also gets to take some extra rest.


Raul Says:

SS:

The umpire made the right call. You cant call a trainer before the opponent’s serve game. Rafa tried to do that and the umpire seems to have told him that is not fair, which ticked rafa off.
He is PISSED! (which is not a bad thing, if it helps him play more attacking tennis)

The umpire’s choice of words is a little dubious. Maybe he should have said “That is out of the rules” which is a less personal way to say than “that is not fair”.


Shital Green Says:

Djoko breaks Rafa at 3-2 in the 2nd set and hopefully will hold his serve to take 4-2 lead. It may not go into the 3rd set.


jane Says:

Both fighting hard for the 1st break in this second set and now Djoko has it – be a tough loss for Rafa but he’s had some long grueling matches so far this tournament.

Anyhow, it ain’t over yet. Djok, however, will know not to underestimate Rafa’s come back abilities!


Raul Says:

None of the Nadal-Djokovic matches have gone into a 3rd set except the RG and Wimbledon SF last year. The 1st one was a straight sets win for Nadal and the 2nd one, Djoko retired in the 3rd set.


jane Says:

Wow – Djoko’s serving for it. He’s definitely stronger on hardcourts at the moment (sorry Zola).


Shital Green Says:

jane,
That was beautiful drop shot and return near the end of 7th game. This is Djoko’s surface. If he cannot win on this surface, he knows he has little chance of ever becoming no.2 or no.1. It is about to be over. Djoko is my man !!!


jane Says:

Shital Green,

I hope he wins the whole thing; this guy backs up his talk with his game, and anyhow, I like his confidence. He rocks!


Shital Green Says:

Congratulations to Djoko for getting to the final. I do sincerely feel sorry for Zola.


jane Says:

But sorry to Rafa fans – especially Zola. Obviously Rafa showed some really great stuff this week. I’m just sad he’ll lose points. But we can take heart that he’ll earn many of them back with clay season right round the bend!


Raul Says:

Nadal is cooked people! Stick a fork!

Another thrashing for Nadal on a hard-court. Blake should have done the honors the other night, but he faltered in the 1st set. Djokovic was never going to make that mistake. Nadal needs a good coach to help him on hard courts. Brad gilbert, maybe? Tenacious player and tenacious coach. It would be awesome if that happens!

Djokovic on hard-courts is getting very scary. He just does not panic any more. He still makes the mistake of getting sucked into these defensive rallies. If he can avoid that, he will enter that surreal 04-07 Fed-zone of hc tennis where he will thrash players at will. Tommorow’s final could be a decisive match in terms of whether Djokovic will enter that dominant zone. If he beats Federer tomorrow (sorry mardy!), he could very well race away towards hard-court domination. If Federer pulls Djokovic back, the struggle for hard-court supremacy shall continue.


Raul Says:

Jane:

Miami is the last stop for Nadal to gain points. Nadal has 2650 points to defend from now until the end of French open. and 700 more points at wimbledon. He needs to win Miami to get the pressure off his back for his favorite clay-court season. More importantly keep Djokovic off. The pressure is onto Nadal now and Federer can breathe a little, till wimbledon. Definitely till the french!


jane Says:

Raul,

You make a good point; Rafa obviously has a great relationship with Uncle Toni, but it wouldn’t hurt for him to add a hardcourt specialist / coach to his team; it’s definitely Rafa’s weakest surface, and it might be what holds him back from attaining #1.


Raul Says:

Is it just me, or does Fish look a little like a bearded-Federer? The bandana does it I guess.


jane Says:

“The pressure is onto Nadal now and Federer can breathe a little, till wimbledon. Definitely till the french!”

Yeah, both Rafa and Djoko have a lot of points to defend, but Rafa more on clay, obviously.

Wimbledon will perhaps be a turning point; as Grendel and I discussed briefly above, there are so many potential winners there. It’s no longer a guaranteed Federer-takes-all surface. So many guys can do damage on the grass – Tsonga, Gasquet, Murray, and Djokovic will all be hot on Rafa and Fed’s heels for a spot in that final and a chance to hold the trophy.


Raul Says:

Jane:

Hard-courts are what kept Rafa away from the no.1 I mean the talk of Rafa being no.1 did not enter till Djokovic started hurting Federer on hard-courts.

That was a federer like FH from Fish! Federer’s movement not upto the mark in the 1st 2 games!


Shital Green Says:

Fish breaks Fed in the 2nd game, beautiful !!! Am I dreaming or is this or real?


Raul Says:

Jane:

I am not so sure about those 3 as competitors. Tsonga seems to be the most consistent of those 3 names you put down and he just blew a 5-2 lead against Nadal on hard-court. Djokovic on grass is still new commodity. I hope you are true and a few of these step it up like they did till this tournament.

Federer’s ground game is totally non-existent thus-far. Please god! not another ugly game like the Fish-nalbandian match. Both players serving around 40! Pathetic, is all one can say. Fish has the rest of his game fine-tuned, though. He is actually playing some fun tennis with the chipping and charging. I just hope the level picks up soon on their serving and fed’s ground game.


jane Says:

If Fish can follow up those serves with volleys and forehand winners like he’s doing thus far, forget about it. We’ll have a huge upset on our hands.

As it is, this is just great tennis from Mardy; he’s doing his fans proud!!!


jane Says:

Raul,

Consistency is key, of course.

But, Gasquet got the the semis last year by beating none other than Roddick, who is a GREAT player on grass (3 or 4 Queens titles; 2 Wimbie finals). And had he not been so exhausted (playing late into the evening and then straight away the next morning) then he might’ve taken Fed further; as it is he got to 7-5 in one set.

Djokovic also got to the semis, and again, had he not been so physically spent (and not had that infected blister), he could’ve done more, I suspect, than take only one set off Rafa. Djoko seems to have learned to shorten his matches (no marathons like against Hewitt & Baggy at Wimbie or Stepanek at the USO) and this will only add to his potency on grass.

Murray has also had big wins on the grass, including taking out Roddick. If he’s healthy and on form, he’s a threat.

So that’s my two cents, which is probably about all it’s worth ;-)


Shital Green Says:

Mardy takes the 1st set, amazing !!!


Raul Says:

Fish served at 48% against Davy, 54 against hewitt and 55 against Nalbandian. It is a little scary that he won against 2 of the best returners of this generation with that kind of a serve %.

How can a guy who is serving at 33% not be broken by one of the best returners of all time? It would be wise if these two players get to miami practice courts as soon as this match ends. Whoever wins this is losing to Djokovic worse than nadal did today! This match is well on its way to beating the fish-nalbandian match as the ugliest of the tournament. Just too many unforced errors from Federer. Fish doesnt need a 1st serve.

Hahaha! Federer broken 1st game of the 2nd set.


jane Says:

Mardy got the first set by consolidating that early break; good on him.

What’s amazing, as Raul pointed out, is that Fed’s 1st serve % is only 42% and Mardy’s is 33%~~!! And yet, Mardy is winning, a guy who has been known mainly for his serves.

I read his press conference and he said a lot of it has to do with fitness, of all things – it’s interesting what he has to say in that interview from yesterday.

My goodness — he just broke Fed to open the second set.

At this rate, he’ll be in the final tomorrow, and darn it all, he just might win it!!

Bet Von is happy…


Shital Green Says:

Fish breaks again in the opening game of the 2nd set. This is the poorest I have ever seen Fed. Looking at how Fed is playing against Fish, I am wondering how Fed made it to the semi. Did he even deserve to be in the semi? If he wins today and plays at a similar level like he is doing today, Djoko may have an easy ride.
Was Sean kidding or was he for real when he predicted Fish in the Final? I see some real possibility now unless Fed starts playing better and reverses the whole thing.


Von Says:

jane:

“Please god! not another ugly game like the Fish-nalbandian match. Both players serving around 40! Pathetic, is all one can say..”

I can’t believe that you felt the Fish/Nalbandian match was ugly? Sure, there wasn’t ball bashing (not that’s what I call beautiful tennis) but they each played the way the game should be played. I guess different strokes for different folks. Sometimes over-analyzing is bad for us and takes away from our enjoyment as an observer.


jane Says:

You know, there is some talk of Mirka being pregnant; maybe the tennis-genius gene got passed on in the process? LOL…kidding.


jane Says:

Von,

“I can’t believe that you felt the Fish/Nalbandian match was ugly?”

Read again – I didn’t write that. I thought the first set, and some of the second, was a bit boring, but by the t.b. and throughout the third set, I was definitely enthralled.

Some pretty great stuff from your (other) man Mardy, hey?!


jane Says:

Von,

I think Raul thought it was an ugly match, not me.


Shital Green Says:

Fish is doing some miracle. He breaks once again to lead 4-2; and if he holds his serve, he will be 5-2, getting closer to the final !!!


Raul Says:

Jane:

I hear ya! I am a little-bit of a safe player, so I need more proof from those guys on grass! Let us hope you are right. That would only make the tournament more fun for everyone except Federer and Nadal and their fans!

I have not seen Federer play this pathetic since the Volandri match last year. Could it have something to do with that old guy in Mardy’s camp who looks a little like Tony roche ;) Or is it about something to do with mirka’s pregnancy rumours?

Seriously though, he played quite a good match against Ljubicic. The two-day break seems to have taken him out of his rythm. Whatever it is, I am sure this result is going to be more scarring than any of his losses last year. It is not like Fish is playing lights out tennis. Though hewitt, nalbandian and davydenko might have more relevant information! Let me go check their pressers!


jane Says:

Sean,

Looks like Fish will be in the final so you’re 1 for 2 – not bad!


Von Says:

jane:

Sorry, I didn’t see his name directing the post to you. Well, then Raul, my comments are for you. Fish can still not serve in the high 70s and still win. It’s getting the key serves in.

Anyway, hang on Mardy, it’s about time you get some recognition along with the Americans. i bet Andy is rooting for you. Damn Tommy Haas!


Raul Says:

How Ironic! The hawk-eye buys Federer some time on the court. Then again, that might just make Federer hate it more. He doesnt seem like he wants to be on the court any longer!


Dr. Death Says:

Fish 6-3, 6-2


Shital Green Says:

Congratulations to Fish !!! What happened to the GOAT today? Mono returned? It’s unfortunate to lose in straight sets to a seeded player??? I feel sorry for Fed and his fans. Don’t worry; hope he will be back at Miami with extra arsenals.


jane Says:

FISH – WOW! Congratulations Mardy for a fantastic win. Although I’d like to see Djoko win, if Mardy wins it, I’ll be thrilled for him. WOW! Yowsa!

American tennis okay hey Von?


Shital Green Says:

correction: unseeded


Von Says:

CONGRATS TO MARDY — I silently picked him as the ‘dark horse’ and has been secretly rooting for him. He gave American tennis that extra jolt. Now go out tomorrow and win the whole enchilada.


Dr. Death Says:

Quite amazing. I remember first watching Connors, Mac, Lendl, Nastase, Roger, etc – one asks the question, how could they ever loose?

The answer is out there.


bob22 Says:

The King is dead, long live the new King!
:)


Von Says:

jane:

“WOW! Yowsa!

American tennis okay hey Von?”

You’ve said it, baby, I’m in 7th heaven. I bet Andy is sticking pins in tommy Haas. Anyway, mardy winning is just as sweet, since he’s Andy’s best pal. Way to go Mardy! Fed’s thinking about nursery furniture and baby clothes, and planning for year 2024, his baby’s first GS win..


Raul Says:

Von:

You will get your answer tomorrow when Djokovic demolishes Fish tomorrow. I will answer your question if Fish wins one set tomorrow. Are you ready to accept you are wrong about Fish totally dismantling Federer’s game if he does not win even one set? I am not saying a match. A set! Deal or No deal?

If Federer played either of Nadal or Djokovic like this, he may not have won even one game. There might be some huge news out of the Fed camp. Mirka being pregnant, does sound to me like a rumour any more. If it is real, I can imagine Federer being shattered (about his career that is!). Look at hewitt! Things like that are just bad news if you have personal ambitions like being the greatest player of all time or being the world no.1 in a dog-eat-dog world like the atp tour.


Dr. Death Says:

Apples and oranges mate. Looks like Fish took him apart today. Will he take someone else apart tomorrow is always the question about everyone.

Only say the highlights of Djokovic’s win. It appeared to be great tennis hustle.


Raul Says:

“Mirka being pregnant, does sound to me like a rumour any more. ”

I, obviously meant Does Not!

Great on Fish to say Federer was not 100% out there but he will take the win anyway! If only some of his fans bothered to listen to what he says instead of being busy, going around questioning other people who mention the possibility of the same.


Shital Green Says:

Mardy is new American HERO, for now at least! My salute to him ! Media will cover this news big time tonight and tomorrow and talk about it for days to come. Good for Mardy: This is some recognition he earned it. I would not mind if he upsets Djoko tomorrow ! Good luck for him.


bob22 Says:

Fish ranked as 98 demolish No 1,in 63 min! Do you still believe, Federer is the best player off all times. This will never happened to Borg, McEnroe or Lendl. His last chance to win a GS is Wimbledon. Borg was smart enough to retire at age of 23…


Raul Says:

Dr. Death:

Fish took Federer apart in this match? Even Mardy will laugh at you for that. Have you seen Federer in the last four years, at all? Federer’s game was not even 80% of his absolute best. At that level, there is no taking apart someone’s game.

Maybe you should suggest this line to Mardy, who is busy telling the press that Roger was not 100%! You obviously have a better reading of the situation, sitting at your home in front of a computer than Mardy who was merely playing a match with Federer!


jane Says:

We’ll have to see if Mardy can do it again tomorrow; I just checked the H2H and Marty and Djoko played only once before, at the USO in 2006, with Djoko prevailing in 4 tight sets.

So, one never knows, does one?


jane Says:

That Fed was not at his best should not take away from Mardy’s win, even if it’s true (maybe it’s Fed’s new best???)

Besides which, we might ask whether Mardy was at his best? He’s certainly been known to serve much better than that. Imagine if he was serving more strongly; what would’ve the scoreline looked like then?

Confidence and fitness had a lot to do with it (in addition to everything else).

I urge people to read Marty’s presser from y’day; he talked a lot about fitness and his new trainer.


jane Says:

sorry – Mardy not Marty


sensationalsafin Says:

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????


Von Says:

Raul:

“If only some of his fans bothered to listen to what he says instead of being busy, going around questioning other people who mention the possibility of the same.”

Sorry, to disappoint you, but I don’t recall going around questioning people, I merely stated my views on the Fish/Nalbandian match, anyway, sorry to have offended you. further, I don’t recall stating that fish totally dismantled Federer’s game. This is where I bow out, gracefully. I dislike indirect sarcasm.

Because of your foregoing statement, I won’t answer the following:

“Are you ready to accept you are wrong about Fish totally dismantling Federer’s game if he does not win even one set? I am not saying a match. A set! Deal or No deal?”

However, I’m a little confused though, you’re a fan of whom? Federer or Djokovic, or both? Very confusing to me. Sayonara.


Raul Says:

Jane:

This is Roger’s new best? The guy is coming off a break caused due to a disease like Mono. There is a possibility of huge personal decisions regarding his career and that is the best time to evaluate Federer’s new best?

It is not like there has not been a precedent. Check Rome 07. Credit to Mardy for winning the match, but if you think he did that entirely because of his own game, that is an insult to federer has achieved the last 4years. It is like proclaiming George Bastl as a better player than Sampras because he beat them in their only match at Wimbledon. Any time a great player loses to a journey-man (at this point mardy is just that, or have you, von and Dr.Death inducted him into the Hall of Fame?), especially in straight sets like that, the great man was not at his very best. To claim that as the journey-man taking apart the great man’s game is a serious joke!


Dr. Death Says:

Don’t see much tennis in my part of the world, but a 3,2 win is good enough for me.

Federer ran down some balls nicely indicating fitness is not an issue. More of his ground strokes hit the net than we expect of Roger. When you watch the highlights, check out how deep many of Fish’s shots are. That puts a lot of pressure on anyone.

Indeed, I would wonder what the score would have been if Fish served even at 50%. Better exceed that in the finals if Fish wants to make good viewing for us.


jane Says:

OKay, probably this isn’t Roger’s new best (that was just a silly after-thought) but maybe it isn’t Fish’s either; that was the point I wanted to make.Maybe he’ll have a great year; he’s reached a few quarter finals so far. He’s doing some extra work on fitness, etc.

Just trying to give Mardy some credit. I don’t like that the three most recent wins against Federer are being downplayed; it’s not fair to the other players -Djoko, Murray, and now Mardy – who beat him fair-and-square.

Fed said he was recovered before this tournament so…

Anyhow, I don’t want to get into *that* whole ball of wax again!


Raul Says:

Von:

How does my favoritism come into the picture? We will chat about that later, but if you think fish does not need to serve in the 70s to win, it seems logical to me that you should be fairly confident that fish will one set tomorrow? Or will that be a secret till Mardy beats a less that 100% novak 5 years later?


Raul Says:

Jane:

I get what you are saying but Federer has played what like 10 matches in about 3 months? Even if we assume he is lying about his Mono (which is quite despicable if not backed with outright evidence), anyone who beats him then gets nothing but brownie points. Some WINS are better than some other wins. Safin beating federer is an all-time classic. One for the ages. Not so much novak beating him this year or federer beating novak at the USopen. On the other hand, Novak’s win at montreal is an awesome match. Federer beating nadal last year at wimbledon is a classic. Not so much federer beating a 35+ agassi in 4 sets at flushing meadows. I hope you get the drift.

There is nothing unfair there. History will remember only the numbers. People who actually experience it should be able to use their discretion, else what difference between us and non-living things which spout just meaningless numbers?

Mardy’s win is great and as much as you should not take anything away from him, we should also not take anything away from the great player that is Federer, right? Fish will get credit definitely if he achieves all that you hope he will achieve. Who can deny that? I am sure we will get the answer tomorrow uness they pain the court red tomorrow and mardy comes out in nadal’s capris, which takes novak’s “breath” away and he retires after fish wins the 1st set and claims that he was in total control of that match!

j/k, novak will thrash fish tomorrow if he serves below 50 like he did today. If fish serves under 50 tomorrow, he will not win more than 5 games, tomorrow!


jane Says:

Raul,

“Mardy’s win is great and as much as you should not take anything away from him, we should also not take anything away from the great player that is Federer, right? ”

Fair enough, fair enough.

And yes, some WINS are better than other wins; but I would add Djokovic’s win at AO to the list you rattled off, only because I’ve watched it a number of times and Djokovic was on fire – some of his winners are phenomenal in that match. And a great great champ being beaten by a young upstart is always good for the ages – think of Roger beating Pete at Wimbie.

So, anyhow, gotta get back to life. But will be watching again tomorrow.

Cheers.


Raul Says:

Jane:

I think we are now on the same chapter. Maybe tomorrow after Novak eases to a win, we will be on the same page :)

I disagree with you on the AO semi-final. The generation match you talk about happened at Montreal. In any case Novak is not next generation. Fed is only 26, remember? I think fed and novak will play atleast 15more matches, so no next-generation yet. Maybe the generation gets shortened to 5yrs? instead of 10 like laver, borg, lendl/becker and sampras and then fed?

Anyways lets get back tomorrow to watch a more competitive match than today’s utter stinkers! Fish needs to serve atleast 70 to make the match competitive. 60 gets him a set. 50 a tie-break and 40 will give him a gift certificate to the therapist who is handling 6-3 6-2 losers where he can hang out with nadal and federer ;)


Von Says:

Raul:

My reason for asking who’s your favorite player is due to your remarks during the Djoko/Nadal match. At that time you seemed to be rooting for Djoko, however, during the Fed/Fish match, it seemed that it was Fed, and I am just a wee bit confused, that’s all. No need to be on the defensive.

I can understand your annoyance and disappointment at Fed’s loss, and it seems that you are dealing with some displaced anger, whereby you are just venting at other posters, myself included, due to your anger.

I am not one for speculation, gloating and post mortems — I stay away from that sort of excercise — it’s one of futility. The present situation is a prime example of how all our hopes, dreams and predictions are just blown away in the twinkling of an eye and then the whole scenario begins all over again. I like to play the ‘time will tell’ and/or ‘wait and see’ game, thus avoiding embarrassment.

In this situation with Fish winning the semis, I got a little carried away, since it’s been a long time that Fish has gotten to the semis in a large tournament and he has had a tough journey in his career which has been marred with many injuries. And, further, he’s an American. I am sure you are aware of how much degrading press American tennis has received from our own press as to its “supposed death”, coupled with the statements that our present players are below standard. thus, my elation at Mardy’s win was an exception to the rule and I hope you can understand.

With regard to Fed’s losses, every athlete goes through a bad spell, it can make them or break them. It’s up to them how they handle these very trying times.

The following might be of some consolation to you: “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions”. Chin up, there’s always tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. :)


Kash Says:

Zola:

Sometimes it helps to think before you shoot. I have personal issues with nadal or you? As much as I admire nadal’s game, I am quite realistic about his achievements on hard courts. You can keep commenting on cup-cake draws fed gets where as nadal doesnt get so many. The truth of the matter is there were hardly any people who beat federer on a hard-court from 2004 USopen 2007 aus open. Safin, nalbandian, nadal and murray. 4 people in 1match each in a period of about 30months. Is there anything but a cupcake draw in a hardcourt tournament for a guy who loses so less?

Take nadal in the same period and see how many guys he lost to and you will see why he will have more “tough” draws than federer’s draws. Yes Roger is the best lemonade maker. He spent a couple of years pummeling dangerous players like a-rod to 15-1 record, 8-0 against james blake, 10-1 against gonzalez, 7-2 against safin, 6-1 against berdych, 11 matches in a row against hewitt, 8-0 against ferrer, 10-0 against youzhny.

Please suggest a tough draw for a guy with such outstanding records please. If the IW organizers asked you to make the draw (with maybe expert advise from Jane and Shital) The best you might have come up with would be canas in 4th, nalby/murray in quarters and joker in semis and nadal in final. Remember this is the most extremely biased draw against Fed. So the present draw had murray/a-rod in quarters and nalby in semis. 2 out of the 4 danger-men for fed. Yet in your view this is a cup-cake draw? You know what you would have said the same if fed and nadal’s draws were swapped. Take a look at the aussie draw this year. I cant imagine what you might have said if nadal was to play berdych, nadal and joker 1 after the other. Yet fed did, right after a 10-8 5th set victory over tipsarevic with him not being entirely fit. Nadal had no clue against tsonga winning 7 games in 3 sets. The 1st serious player he ran into. I am sure even you could not have come up with a more cup cake draw for nadal.

Let us just accept that Federer will have what seems like easy draws on hard-court and grass and nadal the same on clay. That is just how good they are on those surfaces. Nadal will NOT be making lemonade on the hard-courts irrespective of his draws because he needs to get better on hard-courts. He was the no.2 on hard-courts for a year or so from 2005 aug- 06 aug. He has been struggling since then on hard-courts and right now he may not be even in the top 5. Fed, joker, a-rod, murray, ferrer have had more impressive runs in the past 1 year. You would see that if you are objective and not blinded by your fanism for nadal. He is not going to get a cup-cake draw any-time soon on hard-courts. (Maybe he will, if he uses the clay-court season again to get some mind-easing wins against his hard-court tormentors). He needs to get better at hard-courts because the other guys like murray, djoko and maybe tsonga are gaining ground. Others like federer, a-rod, blake and haas are going nowhere.
Just dont keep venting on federer’s (maybe even djokovic’s) easy hard-court draws. The made their lemonade in the past years / recent past. Nadal’s lemonade years 05-06 are a little too far behind and he needs to score some decisive hard court wins to keep contenders at bay!

Actually Fed might start having “tough draws” on hard-court by the time USopen comes around if he continues playing the way he did yesterday. I can see all the players I mentioned above, just hoping to catch the Fed on his off-day like fish did yesterday! Ofcourse it will be only Fed who determines whether the draw is cup-cake or not. he could thrash them like he did to nadal and a-rod at 07 master’s or lose like he is doing to murray or fish. In the 1st case he will continue to receive cup-cake draws. In the latter case, his draws will get tougher.

I hope you understand how tennis players make their own lemonade :D


Kash Says:

Zola:

Another thing, I am sure everyone knows who has “personal” issues with nadal. I just look at his game. I dont care anything else about nadal. Not who he dates, what he wears, what he does off-court as long as it is not affecting him tennis-wise. Can you say the same for yourself?

Voicemale:

So nadal is still the no.2 on hard courts? He was not even close to sniffing a win today against djokovic. Djokovic played a “clean” game. Nadal had to create his chances and he had nothing to show. Nadal’s weakness on hard courts is as obvious as Federer’s weakness on clay.

Unfortunately for nadal more people can attack his weakness on HC, while in the last 3 years, Nadal was the only one who could exploit federer’s clay weakness.

Right now Novak is the king of hardcourts especially if he wins tomorrow. He would be holding, ausopen, IW, miami, and Montreal at the same time. Only Federer has done better than that in as long as I can remember. I will check sampras/agassi records and confirm that. Fed is heading south on hard-court records but he still is above nadal, thanks to the USopen and cincinnati. A-rod and murray and ferrer can be argued to be ahead of nadal with the titles they have won or their performance since last october….


Zola Says:

Seems the lemonade stand has been closed for now!

I hope Fed is allright and this is not a “mono” effect. I am not used to seeing Federer standing on the baseline letting the balls go away and serving at thirty-something percent. Saturday felt like both Rafa and Fed went golfing and send their impersonators to the IW courts. It was sad to watch them both lose.

I could take Rafa’s defeat. Actually I expected it to come on Blake’s match because of the physical and emotional stress of Tsonga’s match. I am glad he battled it through. He has two memorable defeats to take away from IW.

I was more surprised by Fed’s un-presence against Fish. I don’t know what heppened. It was very strange. Just strange.

Kash,
to me tennis players are not robots. They learn as the play and as they peogress in their career. In fact seeing them progress is the most enjoyable part of following tennis for me. As much as I am not a Fed fan, I was delighted to se him come back in Paris and Madris with that Sampras-like serve. Similarly I am very happy to see Rafa’s hard court improvements. It took Federer several years to learn how to deal with those “lemons”. So, I don’t expect Rafa to come out and dominate on hard courts the way he does on clay, but he is not a “so so” player on hard courts. He has been to QF and SF and F of many HC tournaments and slams.It means he is among the best 8 or better, even at this age and at this stage of his game.My expectations from Rafa are real.

Top story: Rafael Nadal: I Am Not The Favorite To Finish The Year No. 1
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