Nadal No Slouch on Hard Courts; FSN Bows Out
by Sean Randall | April 5th, 2008, 10:44 am
  • 61 Comments

Just when you think you have this sport figured out, Nikolay Davydenko shows up. And I’m sure CBS and the Sunday tennis-viewing audience is just thrilled about it.


You would think that after Andy Roddick serves out his ass and finally beats Roger Federer again, that Roddick wouldn’t nosedive against Davydenko. You might expect that outcome from James Blake or Mardy Fish, but not Andy who usually follows through on big match wins. Wrong. Davydenko ripped him last night in Miami for his first win over the American, and yes, as if we needed any further proof the Madness from March is continuing in April.

On the other side of the net Sunday facing Dayvdenko will be Rafael Nadal, who like Federer, who like the Bryans, is still in search of his first title is this already topsy-turvy, anything-can-happen year.

I have to salute Rafa, I really didn’t think he would be up for a deep run in Miami with the clay season so close. I thought that after Indian Wells he’d turn his attention to the clay and play a cautious Miami event. But to his credit he hasn’t. He’s recognized an opportunity in Miami with Federer and Novak Djokovic losing and I think he’ll cash it in.

Very, very few thought Rafa would duplicate his Indian Wells-Miami run last year – a title and quarterfinal (I think it was a QF) – but now he’s on the verge of exceeding that. Add to it his best hard court Slam effort in Australia, the fact he’s beaten guys who have troubled him in the past – Blake, Berdych and Tsonga – and things are setting up nicely for Rafa. I think that if he can again find his footing on the clay, which I really think he will, we’ll see a new No. 1 by Wimbledon.

I read the story on this blog that Rafa will never get to No. 1, but I don’t buy that. The guy’s too close, too determined and I think with Fed languishing for the moment, he smells the blood in the water. Djokovic does too, but on clay Rafa’s ahead of the Serb. And while Roger remains in control, the way he’s been hitting his forehand and with the fear factor in freefall, it’s hard to envision him reaching multiple clay finals, so the door for No. 1 could be very well open.

If Rafa doesn’t get to the top this spring, he’ll do it eventually. I know there’s lots of talk and speculation of his body, knees, feet, ankles, etc., but he’s still so young, still physically maturing. If you want to argue that because of his workout routine and style of play his “window” may be shorter than others, that’s fair, but I still think he has another 7-10 years ahead of him. Just because you play a physical brand of tennis doesn’t negate a long career, look at Ivan Lendl or Thomas Muster. (Then again a guy like Jim Courier was spent after six years.)

That said, there will be more injuries I’m sure for Rafa, but I think with smarter scheduling and training he’ll remain in the mix for many years ahead.

I should also mention Davydenko, who’s really been the surprise of the tournament. The guy was down a match point if I recall in his first match against Ernests Gulbis and now he finds himself in his second career Tennis Masters final. Davy credits a switch from 16 to 18 gauge string last week to his improved performance, but regardless if the guy maintains this form he’ll again be a real factor on the clay. And I have to say, I’ve probably taken some shots at him in the past, but I like Davydenko’s games. He takes the ball real early and plays some wonderful angles. The guy really is underrated as a tennis player, and he matches up nicely with Rafa’s game – in their two prior meetings, both won by Rafa, went the distance.

While the men’s tour has been as unpredictable as ever in recent memory, the women’s circuit has been truer to form. Today Serena Williams will try to defend her title against Jelena Jankovic. I admit, I’ve hardly watched any women’s tennis from Miami, but I might even check this one out for a few games.

And I have to gleefully wave goodbye to Fox Sports Net, which has mercifully concluded their Indian Well-Miami double-trouble coverage (if you can even call it coverage). Here in the U.S. FSN passes the TV duties this weekend to CBS which I’m confident will do the sport right. As for FSN, good riddance, unfortunately though not forever, we are stuck with them for the Tennis Masters Cup in November. It’s a long way away I know but it’s never too early to start making alternative viewing plans. After all it would be a crime to be stuck with fishing reruns while Michael Llodra makes his run at Cup glory!


Also Check Out:
Soderling Bows Out Ahead of Nadal Rome Challenge; Djokovic, Verdasco Meet Again
Rafael Nadal Likes The Red Clay Courts In Madrid: They “Cannot Be Better”
Serena Beats Ass, Bows to Queen at Wimbledon, Complains
A Short History of Hard Court Grand Slam Play
Andy Murray Says Roger Federer Could Return To No. 1 If The Courts Were Faster

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61 Comments for Nadal No Slouch on Hard Courts; FSN Bows Out

Zola Says:

Sean,
Now that you “predicted” Rafa can be No 1., I am really scared,giving your record!

But if it happens, it will be something!

I am just glad to see Rafa play really good on hard courts and beat those who troubled them in the past. I predicted this a year ago. I knew as much as other players can figure Rafa out, he also has the ability to figure “them” out.

seriously, right now, No 1, is not my priority. I want Rafa to be helathy and defend all his points on clay and Wimbledon. whatever happens after than will be a bonus.

Those said, Davydenko is a great player. He has been to 5 for ages and that’s because of his solid game. He can easily trouble Rafa. Butthis is another test for Rafa. I hope he can pass it and hold that trophy.
COme on RAfa, you can do it! VAmos!


Polifka Says:

“after Andy Roddick serves out his ass”

Thank you. That is the best assessment of that match I have read.


jane Says:

Good luck to Rafa tomorrow.


zoe Says:

Thank goodness for no more FSN…now we can look forward to SEEING the final of a great Sony Ericsson tournament. (and let those fishing fans watch their reruns while we will be watching a live lively tennis final of two greats—thanks to CBS taking over.) Good luck, Rafa! Love ya’ and your game!


Skorocel Says:

To Zola:

As you may know, I’m not that big of a Rafa fan, but… I have to give credit where credit is due – and your guy certainly deserves it for reaching the final! He’s currently playing perhaps his best hard-court tennis, and judging how he beat Tsonga, Blake (twice, no less!), and now Berdych, I guess Davy shouldn’t be that much of a problem for him in tomorrow’s final… So all things considered, you don’t need to worry at all :) I just can’t see anyone threatening your guy on his beloved clay – not Djoker, not Fed, and not even Nalby (even though I would love to see that match happen)… Djoker had absolutely no chance in last year’s RG semi (even though playing perhaps the match of his life on clay), and as for Fed – well, you know pretty much everything… Regarding Nalby – he’s just too inconsistent. After that fabulous end of the last season, I really expected some big results from him in 2008, but well, he’s back to his “old” days, isn’t he? What a waste!


Von Says:

Zola:

“COme on RAfa, you can do it! VAmos!” ***

I think I can, I think I can. I’m the little engine that could. :)


andrea Says:

go davydenko!


Dr. Death Says:

Indeed, if not Roddick, then Rafa will do as our champion.

Von – missed your note on another string. Flew to Tokyo for a tournament. My partner and I went the way of Roddick without the humor or grace.

Take a look at Rafa’s press conference. He seems to make some valid points concerning the season. Not being in America, I had no idea college basketball was so popular.


Dr. Death Says:

it appears the Bryans are ready for Davis Cup!


JCF Says:

I think Nadal will hit #1 briefly this year. I can see him defending his clay points, but Federer will fall earlier on clay. He won’t be making the finals at Rome and MC or Roland Garros, and won’t be winning Hamburg. That will be enough points for Rafa to overtake him, but he won’t stay there for long. Fed will come back hard during the north american hardcourt swing. As will Djokovic.


Zola Says:

Skorocel,
thanks for the nice post and the encouragement. I almost forgive you for the mean words to Rafa in the other thread **hugs**. :)

I am not so sure about tomorrow. Davydenko is a very good player, although you don’t hear from him a lot. But he has been top 5 since the big bang. Now he is apparently serving very well and has this new racquet with 18 strings that gives him more confidence ( and he has only one!, his spare racquets are all the old model!). In Rome 07, on clay, which is Rafa’s best surface, he gave RAfa a great deal of trouble. He is quick and has a very good backhans.Now his serve is much better too.

So, we will see. RAfa is not a player to give away a final. But against Nalby last year he did not play at all. Davydenko is a very smart guy and will try to use the same ractics. Angles, etc. I want Rafa to give 120%. If he loses playing like that, then I won’t have any regrets. I want him to try his best nd I am hoping for a win. That will give him great confidence for the clay season.


Von Says:

Dr. Death:

“It appears the Bryans are ready for Davis Cup!”

I just let out a sigh of deep relief. I was sooo very concerned about them. Now Roddick does not have to win 2 live rubbers, assuming Blake will win one. But as has been the case on several occasions, that’s how it’s been in DC with Roddick having to win 2 live rubbers. Let’s just hope it’s different next week. They’ll be in the US on that same fast court as last year, which is best suited to Andy’s serve — with Brooklyn in tow.

“My partner and I went the way of Roddick without the humor or grace.”

I hope you had a good time and an enjoyable tournament. Did you speak to Tokyo Rose? :)

“I had no idea college basketball was so popular.”

You’ve no idea how big. That’s why the sports stations could care less about broadcasting tennis. College basketball is big news and big money — big time.

I am hoping Roddick would play some clay tournaments this year. he can play on clay, but he clealy does not have the inclination to do so. But, there’s a lot of points if he can at least get to the QFs on clay and his ranking will go up, since he doesn’t have much to defend. He went out in the 2nd round of Rome and the first at the FO. He beat Berdych in the Czech Republic on a very crummy clay court and Melzer this year in Austria on an even worse clay court for Davis Cup, which was hurriedly put together, so there’s really no excuse for not playing the clay MS tourneys. Except that dear Brook won’t be around — maybe she’ll want to travel and see the world and then A-Rod will comply.

It would have been nice if Andy could have made it to the finals in Miami, but I’m happy he got rid of the monkey on his back. The relief from that win was too much for any mere mortal to handle. To be able to unleash all of the disappointment, sadness and pain, is the best psychoteraphy he could get — priceless. The smile on his face was indeed a Kodak moment. :) Perhaps if he had yesterday off, he would have bounced back. I don’t unerstand why they had the SF the next day after the QF. It used to be a day off between the QF and SF, but that has been changed around.


Zola Says:

Von,
love this:
***I think I can, I think I can. I’m the little engine that could. **** I really hope he can! Thanks a lot!

Dr Death,
so you play professional tennis or is this college tennis? Wow! then give us some insight . What do you think about tomorrow?

Rafa’s press conference was great. He is not only a warrior on the court , but off the court he is not afraid of coming forward and talk about the players’ concern. I was amazed to see that the 4 major clay tournaments ( 3 of them master seris) are back to back in a month. One after another. Motecarlo, Barcelona, Rome and Hamburg will all be played in a month! Who can do that?
And the reason is:::::::

CBS wants the final of Miami on TV on the same day as the final of college Basketball! That’s why ATP has crammed 4 tournaments in 4 weeks! I am so glad that Rafa talked about it. Double Vamos!


Zola Says:

Skorocel,
Regarding clay , we have to see. I guess we will find out in monte Carlo. The problem with clay as I wrote in the post above is the schedule. 4 tournaments back to back. If Rafa plays final in MonteCarlo on a Sunday, the next day he has to appear in Barcelona, if he plays final there, he has to fly to Rome and be there the next day, same with Hamburg. If he drops Barcelona or Hamburg ( which I sure hope so), he will lose crucial ranking points. That’s why I think a win in miami will give him some freedom regarding his schedule.

Federer can always be a threat. He plaed some amazing shots in that Roddick match. If he peaks during clay season, then who knows what can happen. Djoko lost to Rafa last year, but he is also improving. I think he is a smart player and learns and improves each year. So, I want to see him while he plays this year.
Nalby is more of a puzzle. if he wakes up in the morning and says “Today I want to win this tournament!” he migt really be able to do it. So, to me nothing is certain until I see Rafa and the other players on that red clay!


Tam (TD) Says:

I am sooo disappointed that Andy lost to Davydenko. :( CBS must be pulling their hair out!


Kevin Says:

Points defend for Fed and Nadal up to Roland Garros:

Fed Nadal
Monte Carlo 350 500
Barcelona N/A 300
Rome 75 500
Hamburg 500 350
Roland Garros 700 1000

Total 1625 2650

Assume Nadal wins Miami, then after the tournament he will have total 6080 pts while Fed 6800, difference 720 pts. Up to now, Fed could not beat any top 10 player in 2008. Fed is in better form than in Dubai, though I don’t think that he could defend all his points in 2008, he still could reach at least QF most of his games. Moreover, Fed will play IG series of Estroi and Stockholm of which both he did not play last year, so he could gain more points. In order to defend his NO.1 ranking, Fed may play more IG series, just like Sampras did in 1998, if Nadal is very closely behind. For Nadal, he has much points to defend up to Wimbledon, as he was at least at QF of MS and finalist of the Wimbledon. However at MS of Cincinati, he only got 5 pts and U.S 150 pts, so it is his better chance to be No.1 in U.S if he could keep his track on. Nevertheless, Fed will keep his No.1 ranking in all cost, as you may see that he always mentioned that he is the No.1 at most Interview. Though I am a big fan of Fed, I would like to see match between him and Nadal in the Final of any tournament in 2008.


Zola Says:

Kevin,
Fed will be 6600 points after Miami , not 6800. He is 6550 now and will get 125, but 75 will drop from last year.

I agree that Fed cannot be dismissed easily during the clay season. He will play Estoril and I don’t think anyone there can challenge him. I Am not sure if Djoko plays there. So 200 pts comes from there. He can play a couple more to add points to his ranking. You are absolutely right.

He can also gain points in Rome . He only has 5 points there. So, all in all, he does not seem in danger right now. All Rafa has to do is to defend his points on clay and stay healthy and fit for Wimbledon ( he has to defend 700 pts!)….

I think Rafa is not thinking about No 1 right now, which is very wise. He is trying to defend his points and play strong so that he can secure his No 2.


Kevin Says:

Zola:

Thanks, you are right, Fed is only reach QF at Miami, so it should be 125 pts. Kindly note that at Rome, Fed got 75 pts last year, I have double checked it :)


Zola Says:

oops!
thanks Kevin about Rome…why did I think he lost at the first round? my mistake!


Dr. Death Says:

Von & Zola – thanks for the kind words and enlightenment on tv popularity in the U.S.

Lucky enough to belong to several clubs in Asia with a lot of ex-Davis Cup, national champions etc. I have no insights into this game. With tennis, every time one finds an answer, someone changes the question.

As to tomorrow, I go with Rafa because…. same reason I went with Roddick. It feels like the right time!

If I were writing a script Rafa wins this one. Novak D the next big one setting the stage for DRAMA at the Big Three coming up this year.


Voicemale1 Says:

Tomorrow’s match hinges on which of these two things will occur most often: 1) Whether Nadal can maintain his excellent court position he’s had throughout the tournament of keeping within 1 foot of the base line; 2) Whether Davydenko will be able to do what he did to Roddick, forcing Andy to play from 6-8 feet behind the baseline much more often than not.

If Nadal can keep his on-the-baseline court position, then he should be able to play less defense & cope with Davydenko’s tricks to force him elsewhere. If Davydenko can get Nadal to start playing from 6-8 feet behind the baseline again, the he’ll be in the driver’s seat. As long as Nadal holds his ground, the match will come down to which one wants it more. And there just aren’t any hungrier guys on the tour than Rafa Nadal.


jane Says:

Hold your ground Rafa ~ don’t budge.

I’ve gained new appreciation for Davydenko after that Roddick match [though v.disappointed that Andy lost :-( ]. He is serving better and even playing some nice points at net as he worms his way up there.

But Voicemale’s right: if Rafa steps up, this trophy should be is. Ever since watching Djoko play Fed, and how Djoko steps inside the baseline and takes away time, I’ve realized how important positioning really is.


jane Says:

Dr. Death,

“If I were writing a script Rafa wins this one. Novak D the next big one setting the stage for DRAMA at the Big Three coming up this year.”

I’d watch this movie!

Script needs a little work though: Rafa’s down a set. :-(


Dr. Death Says:

Jane – you WILL watch this pix.

Damn improv actors – let’s see if Rafa studied his lines.


jane Says:

Now he’s down a break…

Maybe this is a revenge tragedy; Davy seeking revenge on the ATP for the betting & “not trying” scandals?


jane Says:

“let’s see if Rafa studied his lines” – thus far not seeming so – Rafa is making way more unforced errors than usual. Maybe he needs to try method acting and “emotional recall” Dr. D.?


Dr. Death Says:

Where is my cattle prod?


jane Says:

Not Rafa’s day today – So sorry Zola. :-(

Rafa didn’t seem to be his usual “Vamos!” self: not so fired up, lots of errors, some retreating behind the baseline.

That said, Davy played an aggressive and clean match. He did have the luck of catching Roddick after his big win against Roger, and catching Rafa after his big win against Berdych, his first time beating him on hardcourts.

Still – congratulations to Davydenko. Can’t fine him for “not trying” now! ;-)


jane Says:

I suspect a number of ATP players will be googling Davy’s 18X20 (was it?) stringing technic; and Davy himself will like string up a few more of those…

Over and out – & onto the dirt after Davis Cup.


sensationalsafin Says:

jane… what are you talking about? How is Davydenko lucky he caught Nadal and Roddick after they beat tough opponents? Nadal’s atleast beaten Berdych on other surfaces, why wasn’t he lucky Davydenko came off his first victory over Roddick? For Roddick I think he was just unlucky that he played so many 3 setters so he must’ve been tired especially against someone like Davydenko. Nadal’s backhand was complete crap today and Davydenko was hitting pretty much perfect angles Nadal could do nothing about. Talk about trying to discredit Davydenko’s win. He played amazing, he deserves this win.

And as for other players “googling” the 18×20 string pattern… I don’t wanna be mean, but are you serious? I think Davydenko’s a retard for just figuring out the 18×20 is better than the 16×18 pattern considering he’s been play for what, 20 years now? I could’ve told him that ages ago. Most players probably use the 18×20 pattern any way. As Davydenko’s proven it is a lot better but I don’t think anyone else lacks this knowledge like he did.

Still. Great win by Davydenko. He hit some ridiculous shots. Nadal definetly wasn’t at his best but today, there was nothing he could do. He was outplayed in every department and kinda went away in the second set after losing his chance in the first. The unpredictablity continues and who can complain. It’s f*cking great that all the top players are beating each other and so far no one’s beating everyone all the time. Except Federer, everyone’s beating him. But still, you have 3 beating 1 and 2, 5 beating 1, 2, and 3, 4 beating 5 and 2, 2 beating other top 10 players, 1 beating no one. Fantastic.

But Nadal’s trend of getting blown out in his hard court losses continues. I didn’t think it would happen today but it did. He just gets crushed. And for someone who has such a high winning percentage in finals (3 on the all time list after Muster and Davydenko) he’s 0-2 so far. And he’s won a total of 7 games in these finals. But he’s made improvements and it is only hard court after all. If he dominates the clay again then there are no worries, but if he starts losing there then, well, there should be worries.


jane Says:

sensationalsafin,

I think Roddick would’ve been physically and mentally spent after his win against Roger; it was a much later and longer match than Davy’s against Tipsy. So I think Roddick may not’ve had the fight left in him.

Nadal’s win over Berdych, you’re right, isn’t even close in momentousness (is that a word?) but it’s was still a breakthrough for Rafa on hardcourts to *dominate* Berdych in the 2nd set like that.

Still – as I pointed out – Davy had better court positioning and played a cleaner stronger match today so he deserved the win.

As for my racquet comment – what I can I say? You clearly know more than me. It was, however, in jest. The commentators had been making a big deal about the racquet change so I was playin on it.


jane Says:

“Talk about trying to discredit Davydenko’s win.”

I didn’t mean to do that – you missed my other comments obviously, which were as follows:

“Davy played an aggressive and clean match.”

“congratulations to Davydenko. Can’t fine him for “not trying” now! ”

And earlier I’d said this as well:

“I’ve gained new appreciation for Davydenko after that Roddick match [though v.disappointed that Andy lost ]. He is serving better and even playing some nice points at net as he worms his way up there.”

So apologies if it came across that I was undermining his win…


sensationalsafin Says:

Sorry if I misinterpreted your comment then. But yeah the commentators talked about the racquet a lot and that doesn’t change anything. I hate the commentators, both Carillo and Macatee need to stop talking. I don’t understand why they can’t find something worth hyping up to talk about. As a pro, maybe the string pattern helped, it should’ve because it is a better pattern, it doesn’t change THAT much because he can play great tennis with another racquet, too. The racquet doesn’t teach him technique or movement. Atleast they did talk about his good footwork as being a reason for his success against Nadal. But I still hate them.


jane Says:

Carillo didn’t have much to say today – I don’t think they expected Davy to dominate like he did and so they blabbered on about whatever… The mute button is always good.


sensationalsafin Says:

Haha yeah but I like hearing the players pound the ball. How sick was the 98mph forehand winner from Davydenko? I didn’t hear the pop until after the ball landed it went so fast, haha. Carillo was the one who overhyped the racquet. The only part of the story that I think is worth mentioning is the fact that it was the only one he had like that. Now that’s weird and it really would’ve sucked if he had popped a string. Seriously though, you only get a story like that from Davydenko, hahaha.


Bottomline Says:

Alright folks!
I’ll be the first to admit that i’ve enjoyed the Federer’s dominance. But i’ve also grown just as Fed to appreciate Rafa’s challenege and at the same time humility. Novak’s cockiness though i can not stand, although i have to admit is pretty darn good.
Here are the bottom lines for the eurpean clay season.
Roger is fine unless he figures out how to hold his nerves against Novak and Andy Murray. The reason for the recent success of these two guys against Fed is that they can serve well and return lot of ball back, this get the impatient and Nervous when he plays them. He faces similar problems against Rafa. plus Rafa was the first threat to his reign and dominance of the men’s game. He figured out Roddick and Hewitt and most guys his age, but he’s terrified of this young guys strength.
That said, every time Roger plays Rafa this clay season Roger is going to win. Because he’s come to term with Rafa as a worthy champion and he truly likes him i can’t say he feel same for Novak. (Novak has no respect for him in the open, although he secretly adores Fed, wanting to be like him, changing to Fed’s kind of Racket).
Novak although has the kind of all round game that could put among the greats may not achieve those potentials cos he his too proud getting in his own way. See the respect that Fed accords Pete even though he is trying to chase Pete record down.
For Nadal to repeat his clay court success, he must not run into Davydenko, Nalbandian i don’t care if its clay court or not. hopes Fed get knocked off before the final by Murray or Nalbandian.


Bottomline Says:

Nalbandian and Murray are the only threats to Federer winning Monte Carlo and Rome.
Davydenko can hurt him too, as you can remember from the semifinal match with Nikolay at rolland garros that match could have gone either way, However, Davydenko may not be able to pull it just yet cos of his losing record to Fed.
It would have being interesting a Davydenko vs Djokovic match. Davydenko match up would definitely hurt novak ANYDAY anywhere, hardcourt clay, grass or water!


sensationalsafin Says:

What?


Zola Says:

Jane,
thanks. I am still a bit ( a lot!) bummed by Rafa’s loss. But as you said, this was davydenko’s day. Rafa was not even present. But he had two great tournaments here and I am sure he will come back and win more trophies here. Congratulations to Davydenko.


Zola Says:

Sean,

I just realized you had picked Rafa to win the tournament!

So, it was YOU!. :)

I am going to register in a betting site and use your predictions ( just opposite of them) to make millions of dollasrs !

Please , please , please, don’t predict any wins or rankings for RAfa anymore! . :)


Tejuz Says:

Such a weird year where No 1 and 2 have not yet won a single tournament in the 1st 5.


Stu Says:

I watch all the Masters Series matches on this website, http://www.atpmastersseries.tv – beats TV any day! Well worth the subscription fee and the quality of the streaming is brilliant at 1MB and 850KB.


Sean Randall Says:

Tejuz, I’m starting to think I should charge for my picks! They are almost a guaranteed contrary indicator.


Zola Says:

Sean RAndall
***I’m starting to think I should charge for my picks! They are almost a guaranteed contrary indicator. ****

You should charge the players for not picking them! It is almost a guarantee to ruin their run!. :)


Voicemale Says:

The CBS broadcast gave us the clue to why Nadal was blwon off the court. Mary Jo Fernandez came on midway through the first set having talked to both coaches. Francisco Roig told her he wanted Nadal to keep slicing to the Davydenko forehand, their theory being that Davydenko would have to create his own pace from that side. As soon as I heard that, I knew that was trouble for Nadal. Imagine that – Roig wanted Rafa to float back soft junk to a guy that takes everything early and pummels it. A slice is a good weapon to have, but ONLY if you do it with the mastery that Federer has: make sure it stays LOW. Nadal’s were not only sitting up too high, they were badly struck from a bad court position, and many were also badly timed. This strategy sealed his fate, and he never recovered from the fact it wasn’t working. Davydenko took these slices that mostly ended up as mid-court sitters and teed off on them at will. In doing so, he further cemented the outcome by forcing Nadal to retreat to his Defense posture, playing 6-8 feet behind the baseline.

I honestly was trying to think of what would make the Nadal camp think this was a good strategy. The valid criticism of Nadal over the previous two years has been that he plays too much defense on hard courts and that’s why he loses. In the last 3 weeks he’s played far more aggressively than ever, and he was rewarded with terrific wins over many of those that lent rationale to the theory of Rafa being mediocre on hard courts. Aggressive hitting and serving got him to this Final. The two previous matches between these two have been outright slugfests, and yet there was no sign of Nadal’s newly-minted aggressive play yesterday. His team abandoned that in favor of defensive junk-balling to Davydenko (and this slicing stuff may well have thrown off the rhythms of Nadal much more than Kolya). Whatever the reason they did it they paid the price: the Nadal team deserved the shellacking they got. I’m glad he got pummeled, because Rafa can learn a great deal by examining how badly he played this match.


Zola Says:

voicemale,
I agree with your point here. ( Not with your last comment saying you are happy Rafa lost. No. I wanted him to win). But that strategy was wrong. Whet were they thinking?
I expected RAfa to make it right and start attacking in the second set but it did not happen. It was a very bad mistake and Rafa had to pay for it despite his great run and huge success in the past two weeks.
Still, he gotto play with DDavydenko ahead of the clay season and I am happy for that. Imagine if he got this advice in Rome or MonteCarlo or RG!


MMT Says:

Interesting that the focus seems to be on Nadal’s tactical failures, when in fact you can point to Davydenko’s committment to taking Rafa’s shots on the rise and execution of his own shots as the key to his victory. I know Rafa has a lot of supporters out there, but this victory, along with is victory over Roddick, was earned fair and square. BTW – I disagree that Roddick had a “let down” against Davydenko. One could argue that given that he hadn’t ever beaten Roddick and Roddick had the biggest win of his career (in the last 5 years anyway) he should have been on cloud 9 and walked over Davydenko. He didn’t because Davydenko played his arse off. Hats off to him.


Zola Says:

MMT
every thing has two sides. Of course if davydenko did not play at that incredible level, Rafa’s tactics might have worked. Emphasis on RAfa’s tactics does not mean we undermine Davydenko’s great play. But RAfa used the wrong tactic.


Skorocel Says:

To Zola:

It’s been a long time since I’ve last seen uncle Toni sitting in Rafa’s box, and if I’m not mistaken, he hasn’t been with Rafa in Miami and IW either, or has he? Is that guy named Francisco Roig Rafa’s new trainer?


Zola Says:

Skorocel,
Toni was with Rafa in Chennai and AO and I think Dubai. Roig has been with Rafa for a long time. He comes with Rafa when Toni is absent.


Voicemale Says:

Skorocel:

Toni has a family and tries to avoid extended travel, such as being away for a solid month for IW & Miami. Francisco Roig has been Nadal’s traveling coach for 3 years, and I think he coached either Albert Costa or Alberto Berasuteugi, one of the two.

MMT – I’m not taking anything away from Kolya’s strengths. hats off to him is right. But having watched their previous matches in Rome and Shanghai, they were much tighter because Nadal played more like the Nadal everybody knows. There was no slicing junk badly. Kolya’s shots looked terrific in large part because many of Nadal’s slices ended up a short mid court ball sitters. Even I would have looked like a world beater if I had shots like that to knock off at will :)


Skorocel Says:

Thanks, Zola and Voicemale!


Zola Says:

Von,
I guess all that big talk by Tsonga is now out of the window as he retires against the US team. Very silly indeed!


jane Says:

Zola,

Tsonga retired from the Davis Cup team? I guess I missed something! Do you know who the replacement is?


jane Says:

I looked it up Zola. Thanks for the update anyhow. It sounds like Tsonga’s injury is very serious – here’s what I just read:

“French officials said that Tsonga will be examined again in France next week, and if surgery is required, he could miss the French Open and perhaps Wimbledon.”


Von Says:

Zola::

Thanks for the alert on Davis Cup/Tsonga. I didn’t know that he had been injured and/or retired from the upcoming DC tie. What happened, and what did he say?

Jane:

Your info does not mention what injury Tsonga sustained. It seems that it will be a long recuperation period for Tsonga. Anymore updates? Thanks. did the French DC Captain mention who is the substitute? Maybe Benneteau? Or Santoro? :) Then Blake will have a headache. :)


zola Says:

jane, HOW did he get injured? I was going to tease him for tanking against Roddick! Poor guy!

And retire No 2 is……..GAsquet. This is pretty pathetic. Blisters! ouch!

I guess we will see Tsonga-Roodick maybe next time. Gasquet-Roddick, God knows!

Viva US!
Viva Espana!


zola Says:

This was on USTA’s page:

In a stunning development that tips the competitive balance in favor of the United States, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France dropped out of the 2008 Davis Cup Quarterfinal, suffering from a lateral meniscus injury to his right knee.

Captain Guy Forget replaced the French star with veteran Arnaud Clement, who had traveled with the team to Winston-Salem as an alternate.

The 22-year-old Tsonga flew back to France on Wednesday for treatment. The news was made official Wednesday afternoon by Davis Cup Tournament Referee Wayne McKewen.


jane Says:

Thanks for the extra details Zola; this is too bad for the French team. It sounds like Tsonga’s injury is quite serious, which is a shame, since I think many of us expected big things from him after Oz. But now Gasquet’s not playing either? Weird. From what I read of the interview, it was the coach’s decision, so you never know. But unpredictable developments in this tie!


zola Says:

Jane,
Gasquet withdrew himself because of “blisters”!
I don’t like Tsonga’s attitude. But I am sorry to see him have such a serious injury. Apparenly he had a battle with injuries before and was just coming back. That’s not good. Hope he doesn’t need surgery.

well, What about Safin? coming beck from a 0-2 to take the match? There is some fire left in him!

Rafa won his match but seems Ferrer is struggling against Kohl. It would be bad if he loses the match after Raf’a win. It will put them in a hard situation. Btw, look at the davis cup website. RAfa has a “short” short on!

Nalby won I think but Chu Chu is struggling.

Waiting for the US__France matches which now should be a wipe out.


zola Says:

Btw, where did Tsonga get injured?

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