Another Nadal, Federer Meeting Ahead in Rome?
by Sean Randall | May 4th, 2008, 11:20 pm

It’s amazing how quickly things change in tennis. Just a month the pro tennis circuit was nothing short of madness after three months of complete chaos and unpredictability. With the shift now to clay, however, the order is yet again restored. That means continued domination from Rafael Nadal, who just won his second successive event earlier today in Barcelona.

The big news for Nadal(and the tour for that matter) was that Rafa actually lost a set. After winning Monte Carlo unblemished, Nadal surrendered the second set today in the Barcelona final to good pal David Ferrer, who also should have taken a set from Rafa in Monte Carlo but gagged.

As if he wanted to send a reminder, Nadal didn’t take kindly to Ferrer’s theft by pummeling David in the third 6-1. Nadal has now own 20 of his 21 career clay finals and 103 of his last 104 matches on dirt. Ridiculous numbers, eh?

With the way the clay schedule works this year, Nadal and co. will have little time to rest with Rome starting up on Monday – at least he’ll get Wednesday start. And he’ll need it with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and David Nalbandian recharged after a week of rest.

Following a poor start to the year Fed picked himself up off the mat in the second round in Monte Carlo against Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo, overcoming a 5-1 third set deficit to the Spaniard to win and really catapult his confidence. Fed went on to beat Nalbandian and then Djokovic before succumbing to Nadal in the final in a match in which he had some chances.

Now I thin he he’ll get another shot at Rafa, and the confidence he gained in Monte Carlo will translate into another strong performance in Rome. While I slogged Fed early on the clay, I’m slowing coming around to him on this surface. As Guerry rightly pointed out, in the last four years only Rafa, Filippo Volandri and Richard Gasquet have beaten the Swiss. No one else has. And that’s damn impressive. So I like him to again get to the final again, beating Guillermo Canas (yes, you can make the argument if Fed can’t beat him on hard court how can he beat him on clay?), beat Paul-Henri and even beat Ferrer to get the semifinals.

Awaiting Fed in the final four I think will be Nalbandian, who actually has a very tough draw with potential pitfalls in Nicolas Almagro, Fernando Gonzalez and of course Djokovic in the quarterfinals. But Novak’s reportedly still feeling the effect of a bad throat, and the way he bailed out in Monte Carlo makes it hard for me to put any faith in the guy right now, not when he’s still talking illness. I’d pick Almagro as my No. 2 guy there.

In the bottom half is where we find some Americans (plural) – Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish and James Blake. I actually think Andy has a great draw with Simone Bolelli the only tough obstacle in his path to the last eight where Nikolay Davydenko might be waiting. If it does happen, the surface and all favors Davydenko, but right now I’ll take Roddick, who should be in prime form for an upset after all that Fish bachelor partying in Vegas – that’s good training. Denko did just beat Andy in Miami, but payback time now for Roddick who done well in Rome before (SF and QF) and who knows, maybe shades of Pete Sampras, a Rome winner way back when.

The last quarter is all Rafa’s. And I don’t see anyone getting close to a set from him in that section, and in fact I don’t think anyone gets a set off him the whole tournament, even Federer who I think will again face Rafa in the final only to get turned away again. Sound familiar? Welcome to clay season where history repeats itself, week after week, year after year.

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96 Comments for Another Nadal, Federer Meeting Ahead in Rome?

Dr. Death Says:

Sean, let’s wait for the usual suspects/contributors to awaken and see what they think. I think this is an objective view you have presented.

- But can Nadal’s legs hold up? Even at his young age, there must be a need for some rest of mind and body. As we have all discussed previously, this schedule is unkind.

- Is Federer really ready or is he still recovering? If he comes out of the gate blasting away, we will have our answer.

- The real excitement will be around the Q finals when we see who is left standing.

Great tennis is coming!

fed is afraid Says:

federer has no chance against nadal. he might as well give up and go back home to dubai.

TennisMasta Says:

Sean, I agree that Roger’s performances on clay are “damn impressive”.

Still people don’t seem to understand the monumental nature of Roger-Rafa matches. We may be watching the two best clay court players ever dueling it out, year after year.

Just consider this. But for Rafa, Roger could have had:
3 French Opens
3 Monte Carlo masters series
1 Rome
and most stunningly,
2 Straight Grand Slams (in 2006 and 2007)

This is simply incredible.

Consider how close Roger has come even in his losses to Rafa:
- In last week’s Montecarlo Roger made 44 unforced errors, still broke Rafa four times and almost took both sets to tie-breaks where anything could have happened. The fact the score is 5-7, 5-7 with all those errors shows that if Roger cleans up his errors a little bit, he could not only beat Rafa, but beat him easily.

- Roger had a match point against Rafa in his loss at 2006. People clearly miss or ignore the fact that Rafa was lucky to escape with a win there.

- In the 2007 loss to Rafa at Roland Garrows he escaped from 16 out of 17 break points. Had Roger converted a handful of them, he would have won the match.

- Roger took Rafa to four sets in all his three losses in Roland Garrows.

- You indicated that Rafa won 103 of his last 104 matches on dirt. People forget that it is Roger who beat Rafa in that one match.

Roger is very very close to again beating Rafa on clay.

pankaj Says:

Federer said in his interview, 6-7 hours on court in a week is peanuts. I am sure same is true for any player worth considering. i.e. I dont think Nadal’s legs would give him any problems.


I think Roger could beat Rafa on clay, he just needs to be in the best shape for that. I know he had his chances, he just needs to take them. He’s playing great on clay, better than ever, so if he doesn’t make so much errors, he will win I’m sure. GO ROGER! Love you so much!

zero Says:

to TennisMasta: I don’t agree with you. You should know that in last year Roland Garros, Roger had to make a great effort to take a set from Rafa, and as the result Roger made many errors in next sets.
And without Roger, Rafa could have 2 Wimbledon, and 2 years consecutive on No.1 in the world. Of course, that’s ridiculous because no one like to hear.
In my opinion, Rafa is closer beating Federer on grass than Roger beating Rafa on clay.
Roger is truly the number 1 in the world, but on clay the real no.1 is Rafa Nadal.

Kozmikwunder Says:

Sean, you don’t seem to recall that Federer thrashed Canas in Madrid last fall. It was on indoor carpet, does that not count? It was fairly merciless. Canas looked like he didn’t know what to do. Could it really have been nothing more than just a lucky win? Really?

Roddick looks to be operating at about 50% mental capacity when he steps onto Euro clay, though he’s no ”slouch” on the dirt when he commits to a tournament. He’s a better player than he gets credit for but hadn’t shown enough quality play for some time, despite an significant triumph in Dubai this year.

Djokovic, bless him, should just once in a while ask his parents to please stay home so that he can begin adopting a more professional mindset.

Anything can happen.

Dave Says:

One minor correction. You said the Federer couldn’t beat Canas on a hardcourt, how could he beat him on clay? The last time they met, later in the year, Federer crushed Canas (I think it was 6-1, 6-0).

kc guerrero Says:

i am rooting for rafa. but there’s a valid point he’s raising or complaining about the crammed clay court season ‘coz of the Olympics and the US Basketball. the hectic schedule will eventually caught up with the CLAY KING. I am not a prophet of doom but in the law of averages and the law of nature(there’s no superman in tennis to handle the successive four weeks of playing in dirt and emerge a lucky winner infour consecutive years!), luck will run out with Rafa and the most likely beneficiary? THE numero uno FEDERER!

TennisMasta Says:

Agree with Zero, Rafa is a better player than Roger on clay. And he is a far better player on clay than everyone else in the last four years. And Roger is a better player on clay (and on all other surfaces too) than everyone else again in the last several years.

That is the irony here in Roger running into “Welcome to clay season where history repeats itself, week after week, year after year.”

At no other time in history has something like this happened.

Lendl lost to Becker and Cash at Wimbledon, but he wasn’t a great grass court player (not a serve/volley player on the fast grass of that time), and neither Becker nor Cash were the Rafa’s of Clay.

Sampras never even made it to French finals. A close comparison would have been if Pete lost to Guga three years running once in semis and twice in the finals. Still even Guga was no Rafa on clay.

Borg lost to Connors and Mac at the US Open between ’76 and ’81. But it was not just to one player and not consecutively. In ’77 and ’79 he lost to lesser players before the finals. This may be the closest to Roger to loosing to Rafa on clay.

As Rohit Brijnath aptly wrote:
“Anyone else since that metronome from Sweden, Federer might have rolled past on clay, might have taken the French Open from. Lendl, Wilander, Muster, Gomez, Costa, Kuerten, Courier, Agassi, Bruguera, anyone. But this is different, this is like being the victim of some cosmic conspiracy, for Nadal is like a machine from Planet Sweat, perfectly designed to beat him on clay.”

Yes, you might say something similar about Rafa at Wimbledon the last two years, but that’s just one tournament compared to the 3 masters series + French + others of the clay court season.

Rafa’s #2 ranking is mostly made up through the clay court season. Whereas, Wimbledon contributes relatively much less to Roger’s #1 ranking. So even if Rafa beat Roger at Wimbledon the last two years he would still be #2 because the point differential would only be 600 because of that.

But if Roger had won the many clay matches against Rafa with all the chances he had created but couldn’t convert (or Rafa escaped), Rafa would be nowhere close to #2.

But Rafa is a deserving #2. The fact is no other #2 has given the #1 so much trouble over so many years at any other time in history.

fed is afraid Says:

tennismasta-close but no cigar. if you go by that kind of trhinking, then roddick would have the 04 wimbledon.

jane Says:

Sean, What do you mean by Djokovic is still “talking” illness? As the link you posted reports, he has strep throat, which is definitely an illness.

The ATP schedule this year is appalling and if Rafa should fall (like so many others who are sick or injured (besides Djoko, there’s Almagro, Kohl, Berdych off the top of my head…) it will be due to that. He should play Rome and scrap Hamburg. But he won’t.

Both Rafa & Roger have signed a petition asking the ATP to look for another CEO. They want de Villiers OUT.

zola Says:

***Both Rafa & Roger have signed a petition asking the ATP to look for another CEO. They want de Villiers OUT.***

that petition is also signed by another 15 of the top 20 players. The three that did not sign, could not be reached. I think the resentment towards ATP management is almost unanymous.


About RAfa in Rome, he can be mentally and phsically tired. It will need lots of efforts for him to reach the final and if he gets there and if he meets Fed, Fed might have a better shot at him than MC.

Oh, I so wish RAfa to skip Hamburg!

Agassifan Says:

Rome is a faster clay court – that’s one of the few clay events that Sampras ever won. even Roddick has two semis here. I think its Fed’s best chance to beat Rafa, if both reach the finals. But that’s a big IF.

ertorque Says:

i am a Fed fan but I must say Rafa is superior in baseline rallies on which where clay court tennis is mostly based. It is those high bouncing balls to Fed’s backhand that are giving the Spaniard the edge. In a match that spans 3~4 hrs, such edges counts and hence the win/loss record between these guys. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Fed’s backhand but I think single-backhand is just not suited to hit high bouncing balls as well as double backhand.

andrea Says:

there will be a changing of the guard on clay. it’s inevitable. just as there will be a changing of the guard on grass one day.

i’d love it if roger took RG and rafa took wimbledon this year. although, despite the hype of nadal on grass, there are still a number of other players out there that have good games on grass that could take nadal out.

Agassifan Says:

Lendl and Guga did pretty darn well on clay with a one-handed backhand. The key is to hit it a bit early, on the up. Though they never had to face the wicked forehand from Nadal! I would have loved to see a prime Guga or a prime Lendl against Nadal on clay – I think they would have beaten him, since he is so defensive.

Sean Randall Says:

Dr. Death, I don’t really see an issue for Nadal’s legs. As some pointed out he’s not really spending that much time on court and his matches are anything but close. Plus, it’s clay. He should be fine.

That said, I can’t imagine he’ll play Hamburg if he does go on and win Rome.

In regards to Hamburg and the suit, I haven’t really followed much of that, Jane/Zola, but it sounds like too many events and not enough weeks in a year. And since God isn’t creating any more weeks some events have to go to add some more breathing space in the congested clay season.

My guess is it’s a Hamburg vs. Indian Wells/Miami (or Europe vs. US ) issue. The Americans/hard court players get a month to play two Masters events, whereas the clay guys have to play three within 30 days.

Further, Miami/IW don’t really lead to anything. MC, Rome and Hamburg lead up to the French which makes it a more important stretch for the players.

If Miami or IW were to close the clay season could start earlier and allow players to play Hamburg.

My thought is there’s really no need for both Miami AND Indian Wells to exist, so chop one, make the clay season a few weeks longer and let Hamburg be and keep the European players happy.

As for Mr. Disney, my guess is he stays. Just a hunch.

Sean Randall Says:

TennisMasta, Roger being “very close” to beating Rafa is a bit strong. Right now he’s competitive, but I’m not convinced yet that he can beat Rafa at the French or even in Rome this week. He’s still a long way off. Roger’s loopy game just doesn’t make a big enough impression on Rafa on clay.

AgassiFan, one handed or two, I don’t see much to choose between the two even against Rafa. The bottom line is against Rafa the backhand has to be a strong shot. Fed’s is just too loopy for my taste.

I will also mention lots of players with one-handers have done well at the French – Gaudio, Corretja, Costa, Muster, Kuerten, Puerta, Verkerk…

Agassifan Says:

four masters tournaments on hard courts in the US is too much. one of the two – IW or Miami, must be downgraded. Use the time to spread out the 3 clay masters. And they should introduce a masters tournament on grass, before wimbledon. Grass hardly counts for anything. Imagine how long Fed could be No 1 if there were 3 masters tournaments on grass, instead of on clay. Grass is the only surface on which there is no masters tournament.

Sean Randall,

Fed’s losses to Nadal on clay cannot just be attributed to a one-handed backhand. there are tons of players with two handed backhands, who perform much worse than Fed, against nadal on clay. In fact, Fed has taken 8 sets from Nadal on clay in his 8 matches, and has lost 6 sets at 5-7 or 6-7, so he has been pretty competitive with him by and large, and FAR better than ANY other player, even with a two handed backhand.

zola Says:

The issue was that there was one week rest after Barcelona, which was taken out beccause CBS wanted the finals of Miami and College BAsketball on the same weekend. That made a really bad calendat even worse.

There are 7 weeks before IW. why not push the calendar a few weeks earlier?

you are quite right on IW/Miami. They are both very odd. If the season started with them, leading to AO, that would have been something.

Bodo from suggested having IW and Miami on clay. I agree completely. If they both are on clay and played a bit earlier, then maybe HAmburg can be transferred to after RG and become a grass master series.

I think the reason ATP can’t make good decisions is that Cinderella and Micky mouse never played tennis!

JCF Says:

“Denko did just beat Andy in Miami, but payback time now for Roddick who done well in Rome before (SF and QF) and who knows, maybe shades of Pete Sampras, a Rome winner way back when.”

If you think Roddick is going to beat Davydenko on clay, you need to get off whatever it is you’re smoking and go straight. Your argument for this is that Roddick has made an SF in Rome before? Clay is Davy’s favored surface and Roddick’s worst, and he has made the SFs at Roland Garros a few times, which trumps Rome.

For that matter, Davy has proven he can play on other surfaces too (except Grass). He’s made the SFs at the USO.

Roddick is NOT beating Davydenko on clay (that is assuming they will even meet, which they won’t – he just won’t get that far). Roddick isn’t beating anyone on clay for that matter, unless it’s another american.

Be prepared for more embarassment Sean.

JCF Says:

“Consider how close Roger has come even in his losses to Rafa:
- In last week’s Montecarlo Roger made 44 unforced errors, still broke Rafa four times and almost took both sets to tie-breaks where anything could have happened. The fact the score is 5-7, 5-7 with all those errors shows that if Roger cleans up his errors a little bit, he could not only beat Rafa, but beat him easily.

- Roger had a match point against Rafa in his loss at 2006. People clearly miss or ignore the fact that Rafa was lucky to escape with a win there.

- In the 2007 loss to Rafa at Roland Garrows he escaped from 16 out of 17 break points. Had Roger converted a handful of them, he would have won the match.

- Roger took Rafa to four sets in all his three losses in Roland Garrows.

- You indicated that Rafa won 103 of his last 104 matches on dirt. People forget that it is Roger who beat Rafa in that one match.

Roger is very very close to again beating Rafa on clay.”

Coulda. Shoulda. Woulda. It’s easy to say what could have happened. What’s important is what DID happen, and why. Did Rafa somehow pull lucky escape after lucky escape, or did Roger just tighten up? Or was Rafa just refusing to go away when he stares down the barrel?

What IF Roger cut down on his errors… what IF Rafa broke his leg? What IF someone spiked Rafa’s drink and got him suspended for doping? What IF little green men from Mars came to earth and killed (or abducted) Rafa and all his fans? IF IF IF. What IF you stopped talking nonsense?

The fact remains, Roger let slip all these opportunities, and there is no reason to believe he can’t do the same again.

andrea Says:

until nadal delivers a bagel to federer on grass, i like fed’s chances against nadal on clay.

Sean Randall Says:

Zola, no way IW becomes clay. That’s California hard court country. Miami could but Houston is the only other clay event in the U.S., so there’s not much of a “circuit” there.

In the end the U.S. Masters will trump the European ones like Hamburg in the eyes of the ATP and I’m sure Mr. Disney knows that, he just can’t say it.

JCF, on paper Davydenko should destroy Roddick. Very, very true. But we don’t play this thing on paper now do we? Davy is a great clay player, Roddick is not. But Davy will have to come up with the goods in a big match against Roddick who will have zero pressure. That’s not a good situation for Davy who I don’t think plays well against the big guns. And the way things have been going this year I’ll lean Roddick’s way for now.

Von Says:

Yes, why not scrap IW and Miami, in fact why not take away all of the American tournaments. Someone had posted that the reason they have IW and Miami over such a long period of time is because they want the Americans to win. Considering the field is laden with more Europeans than Americans, this is preposterous. The Americans also suffer from prolonged periods from home just like the Europeans, even though the tournaments are on American soil. The players have to be away from home for the duration of the tournaments the same as the Europeans, hence, why blame it on wanting the Americans to win more. Absolutely ludicrous.

The calendar or ATP could use their noodle in making the calendar more flexible, but even then, there will be grumbling. E.g., they could move RG to the 2nd week in June, and Wimby to 2nd week in July. The rainy season will be over and the weather warmer. Then the clay courters will be happy. After Wimby there will be enough time for the the MS in Canada and Cincy plus the US Open series leading up to the USO. Or maybe the USO should be scrapped from American soil and given to some other country. So many of our tournaments are being sold now, it’s a joke. There’s talk of the Tennis Channel being sold to some global entity. The TMC which was housed at Madison Square Garden in NYC is now in China and then will be moved to London and then who knows where else. I’d say chop all the American tournaments, maybe then everyone will be happy, or NOT/NEVER. Players have a choice and that is to take care of their bodies. That should come first; forget ranking points — it’s worth nothing when they abuse their bodies and can’t play, but that’s their choice.

Whether DeVilliers is out and another takes his place, the calendar will always be problematic. It’s up to the players to make wise choices and work around the calendar instead of trying to fight City Hall.

Von Says:

Today, I witnessed an extremely lack-luster performance from Gasquet, who appeared to be wishing he was somewhere else rather than on a tennis court. He was beaten by Luis Horna 6-4, 6-1; not good for a No. 9 player. He was leading in all other categories except in the UEs. So much for talent. Give me the plodders and not-so-talented, and I’ll say you’ll see an exciting match.

zola Says:

I don’t think Miami or IW ever become clay. there is too much love for easy points here in the US. but it’s a thought.

no one says to scrap all the American tounaments. You are exaggerating here and there is no need. The fact is that there are 7 weeks between AO and IW, then two weeks to MC and then three master series in 4 or 5 weeks. and they are all mandatory.which of these three master series they should choose not to attend? It just gets worse when a condense program gets even more condense because CBS wants the final of Miami to be with the college basketball!

Isn’t it a better option to spread out the master series and put them on surfaces leading to the grand slams, so that the players get prepared? What is the purpose of having IW and Miami on hard courts after all?

zola Says:

I didn’t watch Gasquet’s match. too bad he was out so soon. He is becoming another Safin and that’s just very unfortunate.

I watched the beginning of Murray-DelPotro on the AMS TV feed. Apparently Murray got a warning for cursing, then he complained that Del Potro said something about his mother….And eventually Del Potro retired with back pain. He was in lots of pain and even crying. lots of Drama.

fed is afraid Says:

roger chokes against nadal time and time again. he just doesn’t have rafa’s mental toughness, which is unmatched in tennis history, so it’s not really roger’s fault.

Von Says:


“You are exaggerating here and there is no need.”

I don’t think so, but I don’t have a vested interest in the clay tournaments or any others for that matter, so I’ll let it go. There are a lot of factors to be taken into consideration for the two (2) US MS tournaments following the AO. Weather is one big factor and spring break being another. The calendar, as I’ve stated before will always be a problem, however, it should not be carved in stone and therein lies the problem. It’s difficult to please everyone because there are players who just move from tournament to tournament and love it, e.g., Davydenko and some others, and they don’t really care because they view this as their job and need to make big money. Then there are those who’ve made the big money and would like it to be easier, but they want to keep their ranking, so they want a kinder schedule. It’s a vicious circle and the cure will be worse than the illness.

RE: Murray, I saw that match live, not on a stream. Murray was his usual irascible, l’enfant terible’ self. I felt sympathetic towards Del Potro because he was playing better than Murray who was feeling the pressure. What makes me angry when i see this stuff is the way Roddick is crucified by the headlines if he says or does anything and other players get free passes for being ugly. Who said life was fair?

Von Says:


“I don’t think Miami or IW ever become clay. there is too much love for easy points here in the US. but it’s a thought.”

Who gets the easy points? Anyone who wins the tournament, not the American players.

fed is afraid Says:

roddick is an ugly american that’s why he gets crucified for his behaviour. and that’s not my opinion about him, cause i’m also an american, but that is how he is perceived.

fed is afraid Says:

and most of the world hates americans.

Von Says:

“..and most of the world hates americans.”

Exactly my point. Who said life was fair? Maybe we need to change our name and then we’ll get a free pass. Absolutely pathetic!!

Rod Says:

there must be a lot of federer fanboys on this site cuz the poll has federer as the better player on clay this year. um…. yeah….. where’s the logic (i know rafa’s kness and roger’s illness well enough by this point) so dont give me that as a reason

zero Says:

I think it’s not easy to beat Davydenko, especially for Roddick. In MC, he was so tired and Rafa beat hime easily. But in Rome, everything’s changing. When Davy’s healthy, he can do anything. Last year Roland Garros, he could defeat Roger if he had a stronger mental. So Roddick may not have a real chance, and even he may be out in earlier round

alex Says:

“roddick is an ugly american that’s why he gets crucified for his behaviour.”

I think you got it backward. He is not crucified for his behaviour because he is an ugly american. He is criticised for his behaviour which is ugly, american or not.

I used to like him until seeing him abusing the chair umpire, calling opponent a prick, bullying a new upcoming player, etc.

Daniel Says:

IW and Miami should be 64 draw with the 8 seeds receiving byes as in MC and Rome. This way, they would be played in two weeks instead of 4, giving extra two weeks in a calendar year to space the clay MS.

At least IW could be reduce, because lets face it, Miami (taking away the Grand Slams) is the 2nd most important tournament of the year loosing to Masters Cup, and is very traditional!

JCF Says:

Like him or not, Roddick is a witty guy. He comes up with some of the coolest one-liners at the umpire or in the press-room. One of my favorites is “Umpiring — the only job you can screw up on a daily basis and still have one.” He said that in front of the umpire. Another gem was “It was close? Was that your intelligent statement of the day?”

The game needs more guys like him. I don’t like his style, but I like his wit.

zola Says:

I don’t think it is rational to have two master series between January and April and three master series during may. clay or not.

About cheap points, on hard it is easier to get points by serving fast. On clay it is harder. That’s what I meant.

About Murray, I didn’t see what he did on court. did he say something to Del Potro or the Umpire?

With Roddick, he yells at the Umpire or the other player and that irritates me if done by enyone. not just Roddick.

do we have to tolerate hate messages on this blog?

zola Says:

***Umpiring — the only job you can screw up on a daily basis and still have one.” He said that in front of the umpire. Another gem was “It was close? Was that your intelligent statement of the day?”******

it is mostly the umpire’s fault. If they had the guts to warn him and take points away from him on the spot or refuse to continue with the match and fine him, Roddick would have learned his lesson. It is this gutlessness that allows players to get away with being rude in tennis that was supposed to be a gentlemen’s sport.

fed is afraid Says:

zola-what hate are you talking about? you are not in charge of this board, so stop calling on sean to censor messages that have no business being censored.

FoT Says:

About the schedule. Did the schedule change this year because of the Olympics being this year? Or, will the schedule this year basically be like this from now on? Curious as to why they changed the ‘clay court’ schedule this year?

Also… for those who suggested a Grass Court Master’s event – I agree 100%. Master’s events on hard courts, clay, even indoor…but no grass. Why not? When you talk to most of the players and ask them if they could win 1 tournament, which one would it be – 90% of them say Wimbledon. Yet that is the one tournament that the players are least prepared for.

It’s immediately right after the clay season so you’re going straight from the French to the warm-up tournaments – which are not many and basically only in between the 2 weeks after the French and right before Wimbledon…then that’s it! And then even AFTER Wimbledon, you still had another ‘clay’ court tournament that the clay courters could appear in! (I think Rafa won that one too).

So I agree that the schedule needs adapting and I agree that whoever does it has a thankless job because they are not going to please everyone.

zola Says:


***About the schedule. Did the schedule change this year because of the Olympics being this year? Or, will the schedule this year basically be like this from now on? Curious as to why they changed the ‘clay court’ schedule this year?***

the Olympics has made the US Open part more crowded. The effect on the clay courts came from the fact that IW and Miami were played one week later than usual to accomodate CBS’s wish to have Miami finals and college basketball final in the same weekend.thereofore the one week rest after Barcelona was removed.Hence the complaints!

Clay season was condensed anyway, having 3 master series in 5 weeks. now it is 3 master series in 4 weeks, which is just crazy!

I suggested having a grass MS before wimbledon or even two. There are 3 clay master series before clay, two before US Open ( not including IW and Miami) and two before the Master cup.

I still think IW ad Miami are very odd.

fed is afraid
if you didn’t write hate messages, then you should not be worried. I still think it is a good idea if the messages get moderated.

fed is afraid Says:

i don’t think it should be moderated, i haven’t seen anything too egrerious on here, people just have strong opinions and their player favs and can get very passionate about them. plus the comments wouldn’t be posted right away, but if someone is cursing, and being rude to other posters then delete their comments.

Von Says:

It’s not that easy to win both IW and Miami since they are played according to a GS format, and considering that the players have an additional round to play, makes it that much harder to stay in the tournament. The chances of being eliminated are more. Winning on hard courts is not easier than winning on clay, ONLY if a player is a hard court specialist, and the same rationale can apply to a clay court specialist winning on clay, or vice versa. Thus, the argument could be, if it’s so much easier to win on hard courts, then why aren’t the clay courters winning on the hard courts? A question to ponder.

The MS clay tournaments are easier in terms of the length of the tournamnet considering there’s one less round to play — in some ways it’s unfair to the players who compete in IW and Miami, because the clay tournaments earn the same points and same amount of prize money for less work.

I’m personally somewhat unhappy about the MS tournaments — they are not that much different now from the smaller tournaments, and this was because of complaints from some of the players. For example, the top 8 players get a bye and automatically go through to the 2nd round. Only 3 sets are played instead of the 5 set format and 500 points are earned plus $500,000 plus in prize money. Considering the foregoing, where’s the injustice? I’d say compared to Agassi and those who won MS shields in the tournaments of his time, it’s a pretty darn good deal, in fact a great one for the present day winners. Now that’s a prescription for earning easy points if there ever was one.

It would make sense to delete IW and have a grass court MS but where’s the time on the calendar. I’m sure those who play Stella Artois and Nottingham would easily pass them up for 500 points and $500,000 plus in prize money as opposed to a measley 200+ points and $100,000 prize money. The calendar needs some revamping, but as I stated before there will always be complaints. You can make some of the people happy some of the time, but you can’t make all of the people happy all of the time.

zola Says:


I did not say playing on hard is easier. I said it is easier to earn cheap points, especially on serve on hard courts.

On the calendar, yes, there will always be complaints, but they will be less if the calendar makes sense. I have to repeat again. Having 3 mandatory master series in 4 weeks and two master series in 3 months just doesn’t make sense.

I guess there should be some space between FO and Wimbledon and perhaps a grass master series. Blake and Roddick have complained about the length of the season as well. Blake wants the season to end in October and I agree with that too.

The players love best of 5. I think Rafa and Fed have a better chance of winning the finals if it is best of 5 instead of best of 3. It can go back to that format if the master series are spaced a bit and players are allowed to rest.

fed is afraid,
comments like “Roddick is an ugly American” and “everybody hates Americans”?

I really would like to see what Sean feels about comments like that.

darthfederer Says:

I believe that the unpredictability within the atp circuit in the first 3 months has not stopped yet. Maybe just maybe federer might cause an upset. Judging by the way he has been improving so far this year he was only a 2 breaks away from rafa in monte carlo. who knows…

Von Says:

Zola:****”Von, I did not say playing on hard is easier. I said it is easier to earn cheap points, especially on serve on hard courts.”****

In some ways it looks like they are earning easier points on hard courts but there is another problem, viz., when a fast server on hardcourts serves at say 142 mph, that ball comes back to them so fast without them having any time to get themselves into position and go for their shots. On clay, they can serve and get the ball through the court with still some time to get themselves into position to go for their shots. I’d say it’s a better deal for them on clay.

“I have to repeat again. Having 3 mandatory master series in 4 weeks and two master series in 3 months just doesn’t make sense.”

This year it doesn’t make sense, but then again, this year is the exception. Dubai was also moved around this year, so it’s not just the clay tournaments that are affected.

With regard to 5 setters, some plyers love it, but I’m sorry to say that it was both Rafa and Fed who complained after that ’06 Rome final which lasted close to 4 hours and entailed them withdrawing from Hamburg. They cited the 5 sets as the problem. After that the ATP changed the format. To me the fans are the ones who are the losers since they have to play a lot of money for the MS tournaments and 2 nets or maybe if they are lucky, 3 sets is not getting their money’s worth.

I remember in 2006, when Fed lost in Cincy he blamed his loss on the back-to-back schedule. Next year 2007, he won and proclaimed that he loved the back to back tournaments. I’m sorry, but this is what upsets me with these players because they lack authenticity. One day something’s OK, but if they lose then it’s not OK.

Excuse the oversight for not answering your question about the Murray/Del Potro match. What I heard was Murray using the “F” word for which he got a warning from the umpire. Murray tried to further argue with the ump saying he said that Del Potro’s shot “sucks” but the umpire said he heard the “F” word. It was very audible and there was no mistake, I heard it too. I didn’t hear Del Potro say anything to Murray about his mother. In the 3rd set Del Potro hurt his back rather badly, was crying and had to retire. There wasn’t a shake hand between the two — no love lost there. What I dislike with Murray’s behavior is that he just goes on and on nonstop.

With reference to the comments by “fed is afraid”, I don’t think he meant any offense to Americans — he was just speaking in general and to be truthful that’s how Americans are referred to overseas, generally. I’m sure Sean will understand this since the press refers to Roddick as “the ugly American” when they describe any remarks made by him on the court — a very harsh name, but it comes with the territory.

I apologize to everyone for my reference/comparison to Roddick and Murray’s comments — in a way I started this problem by pointing out that some players get away with cursing and making nasty remarks while Roddick is crucified. it’s one of my pet peeves and my invisible picket goes up. Sorry.

Zola, I hope next year the calendar will be kinder to the clay MS, but I think that Rafa also needs to make some adjustments and that is, he should probably forego Hamburg, and try to work around the calendar. It’s the easiest and safest way for his schedule. Don’t worry, be happy!!

Denise Summers Says:

Zero, I cannot agree with you more. Please, let us not forget also Mr. Nadal is only 21 years old, Mr. Federer has been playing a few years longer. If anybody deserves to be the Number 1 in the World, for sure it is Rafael Nadal. As you said, he is Number 1 on Clay, I very much doubt if anybody would bother to contest it.

I am confident Rafa will win Wimbledon before Roger wins the French. In any event, exciting stuff. How privileged we are to be able to witness such wonderful, wonderful duels. They ‘fight’ to the end, unlike Mr. Djokovic!!!!

zola Says:

***This year it doesn’t make sense, but then again, this year is the exception***

last year thee were 3 master seris in 5 weeks. not much difference.

MAster series are mandatory. The players get fined if they don’t play them. It is not fair to tell to a player to give up on clay and adapt his game to hard courts otherwise he will lose points. I am sure if the calendar was reverse you would not see it fair for Roddick.

There are 9 master series and one maste cup. =10. Of these, only 3 are on clay and they are in the span of 4 or 5 weeks. It is not right by anybody’s book. There are 7 idle weeks before IW and Miami . Why can’t the calendar use those weeks ?

About Murray, I don’t mind his self-talks but accusing Del Potro of cursing is not good. He is in a very dangerous place. He broke up with Gilbert and since then his results are not so great. Now he makes himself very unpopular with this sort of behavior. He needs to watch out!

Von Says:


I dont have an answer as to why those idle weeks you speak of are not utilized. Only ATP has the answer. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that the players are allowed to skip 3 MS tournaments with a good reason, e.g., sickness, If this is true, then a player who is over tired and is struggling with fatigue issues has a right to not play in an MS tournament and be excused without a fine, and I’m sure their doctors would not have a problem attesting to their poor health. Anyway, I believe that this subject has run its course and need not be deliberated any further, because only ATP has the answers.

sensationalsafin Says:

In ’06 Federer never complained about the Canada/Cincy back-to-back scheduling. People were attacking him left and right for losing early and in straight sets. All he said was that it’s incredibly hard to do well at both tournaments when you’re facing top players from the very beginning 2 straight weeks. Last year he reached the final and won the other so no one was saying “Oh Federer you suck” because he had 2 very good tournaments so he had no need to say how tough it was.

I’m not the biggest fan of the clay season because it’s too hard to see the ball on TV. But, it’s not fair at all. The clay season basically consists of 3 masters, a few small tournys, and the French Open. And the whole season lasts a little over a month. That’s ridiculous. Miami and Indian Wells make up their own outdoor hardcourt season. Cincy/Canada are apart of the US Open series which lasts all summer (about 2 months) ending with the US Open. And then you have the indoor season that lasts about 2 months and includes Paris and Madrid. All those seasons are about 2 months and have 2 masters. Clay has 3 masters and 1 month. That’s pure bull shit.

As for how hard it is to play on one surface over another. It seems like the hardcourts nowadays are causing the most injuries. But in terms of playing style and whatnot, it depends on the player. Obviously Roddick is better when the ball shoots back at him after he hits a 142mph serve rather than when the ball comes back and he has all the time in the world to set up.

zola Says:

I think they could skip two, but it is getting tougher now.
It is still not fair, because in case of serious injury, they can’t skip another one.

It is still not fair to jam 3 master series in 4 weeks and then tell the players they can choose not to play one or two. Why should they forego the points they can accumulate? when there are 7 weeks sitting there ?

What if IW, Miami and Cinic were back to back? with Dubi in between?
would you tell Roddick just skip one? I don’t think so.

The players have the right for a fair calendar. As a fan, if I like clay, I should have the right to see my favorite players in all of clay tournaments. There are only 3 master series on clay and the only choice a player should have is to skip one?

zola Says:

sensational Safin,

Dr Death is a regular player and he says you can play forever on clay , grass depends, …and hard courts are just killers. I always have sore knees if I play more than twice a week. I played on carpet for a while and it almost went away. The hard courts are probably easier to maintain but they take a toll on the players.
I would like to see more grass and clay tournaments.

I think IW and Miami could be on clay,then MC and Rome and then RG, perhaps all shifted back about 2 weeks.

HAmburg and perhaps Queens, should be on Grass prior to Wimbledon. The rest of the calendar can stay the same.

fed is afraid Says:

thanks, von, that’s exactly what i meant. oh and i am a girl. lol.

go rafa!!!

Von Says:


I wanted to end this discussion because regardless of how much we speculate we will not change the schedule it is what it is.

Re: Roddick, I’ve always felt he should play a few more clay tournaments, however, he decides to skip those he doesn’t want to play. If IW, Miami and Cincy were back to back with Dubai in between, I’m sure Roddick will skip Dubai due to the amount of travel time involved. This year was the first time he played in Dubai.

Von Says:

fed is afraid:

“thanks, von, that’s exactly what i meant. oh and i am a girl. lol.”

You’re welcome. Sorry about the gender mistake, and I’m a girl also but am referred to as a guy. It’s difficult to know the gender of a poster by the name. Glad to see another girl here, we’re in the minority. :)

Von Says:


The following is what Fed said after his loss in Cincy in 2006:

August 17th, 2006

The Fed Ex-it

by Sean Randall
Big story this A.M. is the “shock” defeat of Roger Federer yesterday to Andy Murray at Cincy. I didn’t get the chance to see it live – hey, I’m working, okay? – but I caught the replay of the last set on ESPN after the Roddick match.

Fed clearly didn’t look like the Fed that we have known, and I wonder just how much the Swiss wanted to partake in Cincy. Fed said winning Toronto, Cincy back-to-back was next to impossible. Well Rog, Andy Roddick did it a few years ago if I remember correctly, so it’s not impossible. You just got to want it.

But from Fed’s viewpoint, he won Toronto so he basically defended his points from his 2005 Cincy win – anything from this Cincy would have been gravy as they say.

Plus with Nadal losing early in Toronto, where he won lost year, even if he wins Cincy it’s a wash between he and Federer – like last year they would each win a summer TMS title, just switching.”

You can determine from the foregoing if what Fed said is the same as what you stated.

Y Says:

So sensationalsafin wrote that Federer said it was “incredibly hard”, wjile he actually said it “was next to impossible”. Thanks for clarifying that, Von, and for stating that everything else in your quote was Sean speculations.

zola Says:

I think it is always good to look at the issues from everyone’s perspective. Still, 3 master series in 4 weeks doesn’t make sense. I hope Rafa can go deep in Rome and skip Hamburg. He needs the rest.

Btw, congratulations on your boy’s win. It is amazing that Fish can win Federer but has all these lop-sided losses to Roddick. Maybe because Roddick knows his game very well.

Anyway, I remember Roddick played the Davis Cup on clay and had a great match with Rafa, so in my book he can play on clay and I take him as a serious challenge for Rafa, since they are on the same half. I wouldn’t say the same for Blakebecause he had some bad losses on clay recently, but Roddick definitely can play on clay.

It is not easy to play back to back weeks. Last year Djoko won Montreal and then lost to Moya. Even with rest, he lost in the openning rounds of Miami after winning the IW.
That Federer loss ( was it to Murray) was always attributed to tiredness, until Murray won him again this year.

I think there should be a way to space out the master series.

TennisMasta Says:

Folks, if you saw how Roger crushed Canas today, you will see the motivations behind “(yes, you can make the argument if Fed can’t beat him on hard court how can he beat him on clay?)”

Yes, Roger crushed Canas in their last hard court match also, but it won’t matter to people intent on looking the glass half full of everything Federer does and has done.

Roger dominated the entire match. While 6-3,6-3 is pretty one-sided it could easily have been 6-1, 6-3 as Roger had break points on two other serve games of Canas. Roger did save one break point in the second set, but broke Canas twice.

Pretty much all the points in the match were decided on Federer’s racket – either winners or points lost on Roger’s terms.

Roger served well, his forhand and backhand were sights of sheer beauty, and his movement, ofcourse, very aggressive and elegant at the same time. He also employed drop shots very effectively.

He simply dictated the whole match.

The simple fact is that Roger would have been the best clay court player the last several years except for Rafa. And Rafa is almost getting there as the most dominating clay court player ever.

But some people would rather not talk about his greatness on clay. Instead only want to focus on his losses to Rafa(in the finals), and berate him for not being able to beat Rafa (more often).
The one time he beats Rafa on clay is because Rafa is “tired”.

If his is not glass half-full and biased journalism, then what is it?

Von Says:


I will again reiterate that it’s not fair for the clay courters but I am of the opinion that you can’t fight City Hall and when that happens, you do the next best thing, you do what’s best for you.

Thanks for the good wishes concerning Roddick. Both Fish and Roddick know each other’s games, but Roddick has always been the victor in their matches. I’m happy for Andy that he’l be in the 3rd round. I hope he goes far. He’s been in the SFs twice in Rome, so hopefully he can make it 3 times.

The folowing is a portion of an artice written by Abe after Fed won in Cincy. this is what I was referring to that I like to see consistency from the players:

“August 16th, 2007

Nadal retires, Djokovic flat, but players support back-to-back Masters Series

by Abe Kuijl
The ATP Masters Series inducted a new rule in 2007, where the Top 8 seeds received byes for their first round matches. This to make sure that they can get enough rest in between events, to compete in back-to-back Masters Series tournaments. It was a good move by the ATP, but Cincinnati is still suffering big time from players’ activity in Canada.

Rafael Nadal retired in his match against Juan Monaco, trailing 6-7(5) 0-2, with arm cramps and dizziness. Radek Stepanek, another semifinalist in Montreal, sustained back problems in his match against Mardy Fish, and was beaten in straights by David Ferrer in the second round.

And then there was the case of Novak Djokovic. The Montreal victor dropped the first set of his match against Carlos Moya, lost his opening service game in the second set, and didn’t make a real effort to get back into the match. Moya played excellent throughout the encounter, but it was clear that Djokovic wasn’t going to go all out on the day from the beginning. The Serb complained about feeling tired, but that’s what happens when you just played a full week against the best players in the world, and decide to play a doubles match the day after you arrive in Cincinnati.

Roger Federer was not affected by fatigue. The Swiss played a solid match against French qualifier Julien Benneteau and looked eager to perform after his surprise loss to Djokovic on Sunday. In his press conference, Federer said that he prefers to have back-to-back Masters Series events, over having an extra week off in between. “I’d rather have it back-to-back,” he stated. “Absolutely.”

You can judge for yourself about the different statements made from one year to the next.

zola Says:

Rafa has always played MC and Barcelona Back to back without complaints. I think 2 back to back tournaments is hard, three is really hard and 4 is almost impossible.

ATP is a players’ association. 17 out of 20 top players includig Roddick and Blake have complained to the ATP board and have asked them not to renew ET’s contract automatically. Yes, they are doing their best now. But at least if olayers and fans get loud, there mght be a chance for future changes.

Roddick has been in Rome semis twice? I didn’t know that. It is possible that the fast surface suits his game. It will be very interesting. I don’t know if Rafa can make the semis, who I would want to be his opponent, Davudenko or Roddick. I think they will both be equally tough.

Sensational Safin
Did you watch Safin- Wawrinka yesterday? they both had neon green shirs and black shorts, make it almost impossible to distinguish them.
I thought Wawrinka should be tired, since he had played semis in Barcelona on Saturday, but he recovered and won Safin. I expected more from MArat based on his Davis Cup results. I really wish him a good win or a tournament title. I think he needs a boost of confidence.

Tennis Masta
I watched some of Fed/Canas match. I don’t think a 63 63 is a crush. It is a decent result and Canas was able to break federer at least once. I never get it when Federer fans panic for nothing. The guy is No 1 in the world and he is the favorite in each and every match, maybe except for RAfa on clay.
Federer is (hopefully) past his mono just on time to get ready for the French open. He is playing full force and is back to his strong self.

Louise Says:


Cañas didn’t break Fed. He had a breakpoint on Fed, just one, he could not convert.

TennisMasta Says:

Once again, glass half-empty is the how Fed critics seem to look at him mostly. Correct me if I am wrong, but where do we see balanced comments from these critics – which is giving Fed the credit where he is due and criticising him for failings that are in his control.

What I read is that a break point is enough for them to rush that the opponent has broken Fed. Even if that is not the case.

And if some one points to facts, let alone say good things about Fed, then the second act follows.

It is the condemnation of “Fed fans” themselves.
They say that “Federer fans panic for nothing.”
Where is the panic in my statements above?
What’s wrong in being a Fed fan?

As a Fed fan I look at these facts:

There is only guy who has beaten Rafa in some 100 matches on clay.

He had a match point in a five hour match in Rome. No one eslse has pushed Rafa that far on clay.

He has always taken a set off Rafa in each of his losses at the French. Not too many people take sets off Rafa.

He had 17 break points in the last loss. Not one or two, but seventeen. If Roger survived that many break points these same people would be jumping all over how Fed was simply lucky to get away and even undeserving in his win.

If is clear to anyone who watched Roger-Rafa clay matches, that even though Rafa had the upper hand, that there were clear indications that Roger could beat Rafa. The unignorable fact is that Roger has beaten Rafa on clay, no matter how people try to spin it away.

For him to beat Rafa more often,
Roger has to find the balance between aggression and consistency to cut down some errors and, therefore, convert a few more break points. Coversely, Rafa has to make some errors. Neither of these are too far fetched.

But we continue to have read:
“He’s still a long way off. Roger’s loopy game just doesn’t make a big enough impression on Rafa on clay.”

“The fact remains, Roger let slip all these opportunities, and there is no reason to believe he can’t do the same again.”

These are very negative and pessimistic way to look at anything at best.

Ok, so what if Roger tries and fails again. Why is it his fault and not to the credit of Rafa?

My point here is that Roger has done what no one else has on the ATP tour in challenging Rafa on clay. Should we not praise his efforts instead of pulling him down?

Now how’s that for real panic from a Fed fan :)

bob22 Says:

To Jane:
Sean, What do you mean by Djokovic is still “talking” illness? As the link you posted reports, he has strep throat, which is definitely an illness..

Don’t expect from Sean to answer your question…

zola Says:

thanks. You are right. CAnas had a break point, but did not convert. My mistake.

Tennis Masta,
quite a good case for Federer. Funny, I was looking for something in the interviews and in MC 2005, when Fed lost to RAfa, he said the same thing, that he thought he was very close to beating Rafa!

Anyway, I don’t like speculations. This is tennis and anything can happen. I am happy for RAfa’s success on clay. He has done more than enough. Rome is the best chance ofr anyone who wants to win Rafa. Damp courts, cole weather and fast clay. plus RAfa has been playing non stop for the past two weeks. After this, there will be rest and the big and warm courts of RG ad that’s all matters!

Dr. Death Says:

Sorry to have missed all of the action above – many planes and back to work.

I find it amusing that people like Von and Fed is afraid etc get mistaken for guys. I guess if one hangs around the site long enough, we get informed. Please remember, just because some of these people like Von write with balls does not mean they are men.

A couple of macro comments. We will never see clay in the U.S. The U.S. has a hard court – fast surface – tradition and that should remain so. They had a grass tradition as I pointed out some months ago with the U.S. Open being played on grass at Forest Hills. Then the masters of tennis ruined that by going to Har Tru. At some point that surface got flushed away and “hard courts” returned. Changing courts cost a fortune. Just think about making RG grass! And indeed why would you? The French tradition is clay and ought to remain that way.

Secondly, “show me the money”. We will never see the masters of tennis ignore the huge U.S. market. It all comes down to the sponsors, the clothing manufacturers, etc.

zola Says:

Dr Death,
how was your tournament?

I don’t know about “will never see clay in US”. Yes, changing surfaces needs money, but it is done all the time.

Everything needs time. The important factor is that most of the American players are grown up o hard courts. If they have opportunities to practice on grass they can adapt better. I don’t think fans abandon a tournament because it is not played on hard. Also changing IW or Miami is different to changing FO, which is the only clay grand slam.( I didn’t say change US Open to clay!)

Anyway, this is up to the ATP and Disney. All I want for now is to move IW and Miami a few weeks and make some breathing room suring the clay season.

Back to Rome:
Tsonga lost to Simon. I can’t say I am upset!
Too bad I missed Tipsy-Gonzalez. I heard it was a good fight.
Caught a little bit of Fed-Canas, Fed played very well, always in control.I guess “no mono” anymore.

Tomorrow is the showtime for Djoko-Darcis, Blake-Seppi and then RAfa-Ferrero.that’s a tough one for Rafa.I hope he can pass that test.

Giner Says:

“Just consider this. But for Rafa, Roger could have had:
3 French Opens
3 Monte Carlo masters series
1 Rome
and most stunningly,
2 Straight Grand Slams (in 2006 and 2007)”

Yes. And consider this: If not for Roger, Rafa could have won two straight Wimbledons. The only Spaniard in history to have ever won Wimbledon was Manolo Santana like 30 years ago. Who would have thought that since Federer started his Wimbledon domination 5 years ago that the closest any man has come to beating him was the world’s top clay court specialist? He has won more sets against Federer in 2 matches than Roddick (3 times as many actually) has in 3 or 4 matches. Roddick has only ever won 1 set against him at Wimbledon, and Roddick you would expect is a much more likely player to win Wimbledon than Rafa.

Two of the sets Rafa lost last year were in tie breaks. I don’t doubt that Federer is the second best player in the world on clay however. He can win RG. The X-factor is always going to be injuries. Rafa plays a lot. More matches means more opportunities of twisting an ankle or falling over and breaking a rib. If it happens this year, Fed will complete his ‘Roger Slam’.

JCF Says:

“But some people would rather not talk about his greatness on clay. Instead only want to focus on his losses to Rafa(in the finals), and berate him for not being able to beat Rafa (more often).
The one time he beats Rafa on clay is because Rafa is “tired”.”

You can call it an excuse, but it’s still a fact. Rafa played more matches than Fed did leading in (being that he wins every tournament he enters on clay), and had very little time to rest. Clay also happens to be the most gruelling surface to play on physically. He came from a match where he was extended the distance — Lleyton Hewitt almost beat Rafa in Hamburg.

JCF Says:

“He had a match point in a five hour match in Rome. No one eslse has pushed Rafa that far on clay.”

If I’m not mistaken, Guillermo Coria did at one of the masters (Rome I think it was). It was 7-6 in the 5th and Coria had either match points, or defacto match points. Rafa was spent and was very lucky to escape with the win.

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

Arod may be an ugly american sometimes but Murray is just a damn fugly mofo all around

bob Says:

Sean, if Nole wins Rome will you again have short term memory loss and forget all of your stupid comments?
I am eager to see what will be your next pitch?

bob Says:

By the way, I changed my internet provider so I can say what I think about your intelligent comments. Will you welcome me back :)

Sean Randall Says:

Bob, so does this mean I get the pleasure of putting you in moderation queue again? Looking forward to it!

And what “stupid” comments are you referring to? Point ‘em out. I’ll be happy to respond.

rogers twin sister Says:

Jeez, Sean is still wiping egg from his face. I can’t wait for his next predictions because it’s a surefire way to make money by betting against them.

bob22 Says:

From this article:
“But Novak’s reportedly still feeling the effect of a bad throat… not when he’s still talking illness”

Article: Federer Falls Again, Is Sampras to Blame?
This whole article is very badly written… no need for details.
Article: Poisoning Gives Russia the Edge Against US in Davis Cup Final
- In addition to having Igor Andreev, Dmitry Tursunov, Nikolay Davydenko and mafia muscle at the ready, looks like Russia’s added a mad scientist to the team.
-But maybe Russia was just testing to see if the poisoned cocktail trick would work. And based on what Haas says, it does, and now Russia has one more weapon to use against the United States next month.

Article: Djokovic Taps Out Again, Sets Up Federer v. Nadal Monte Carlo Final

-The retirement follows a mysterious pattern of in-match withdrawals by the Serb, who pulled a similar act against Nadal at the French Open, Nadal at Wimbledon and even against Davydenko this year in Davis Cup.
-And Novak really hasn’t shown much of that fighting spirit up to this point in his career !!!

If he was not fighting how he got to be on third place?

- You have a lot of money now, hire a psychologist or two and a good trainer and get it worked out in your head. And stop sapping your strength by bouncing the ball a thousand times (I get dizzy also just watching that!), re-adjusting your hat and doing imitations. Save your energy for actual play…

>Good work Sean, you are actually showing how mean you can be…

I can go on and on, but my point is, you feel offended when I use word stupid for your work, but on other side you keep a right for yourself to use this blog to trigger fights between readers. You are the only author on Tennis X who has this style of writing. With you it is not about tennis you are focused to push rumors, gossiping and a lot of bad taste comments. If you want you can learn and improve with the help of your colleagues who have way more professional approach.

Sean Randall Says:

bob22, I didn’t know you were going back though the archives. You’ve uncovered a few but missed many more of my “stupid” comments. And I know I’ve made a bunch, but I don’t really mind.

As for you calling them stupid I take absolutely no offense.

And as I’ve said before I don’t post to incite and to bring about hate. If I wanted to create such firestorms I really could, believe me, but truth be told I actually hold back a lot.

I get that you seem to be a Novak fan and that’s fine. As you can tell I’m really turning the other way on the guy as these retirements keep piling up. And when he does it like he did in Monte Carlo he opens himself up for the criticism.

jane Says:

Sean, I’ve always been a fan of your writing; I like your sense of humour in an otherwise mostly earnest genre, and I think your miss-calls are funny.

What I don’t get is why you’re turning on Djoko. He has retired 5 times in 2 years. Yes, 3 of those were while losing to either Roger or Rafa. But let’s look at each of those retirements individually for a minute:

1. Against Rafa at RG in 06 – Djoko had not yet been operated on for his septum, so he was still suffering from that problem. Yes, he said something stupid about “control” but the kid was only 18 at the time, and part of his personality is being outspoken.

2. Against Rafa at Wimbledon in 07 – Djoko retired with the SAME injury Rafa had against Ferrero here: infected blisters. And if Rafa had to play a 5 setter the other day, I’d put my money on the guess that he’d've had to retire too. Let’s not forget that Novak had spent 9 hours on the court in 2 marathon matches (speaking of duking it out…), yet he STILL took the first set off Rafa on the grass. If Novak had continued to play, but was unable to move, would that have been better? Would we call him a fighter then?

3. Against Roger at MC – admittedly, this is the most questionable retiremenr. However, having said that, Novak had strep, and that can be a brutal infection. He said he was dizzy and couldn’t find the energy to continue, even during the first set, but he still tried to play the second set nevertheless. And didn’t Rafa retire in Cinncinati last year (while losing) due to dizziness? But no one got on his back about his reason for retiring. Perhaps because it was in the first round.

In any case, I just think people (fans, journalists) are biased against Novak because he can be brash and so people already don’t like him. I am glad there are different types on the tour.

If Novak retires again-and-again in the future, then that’s different and I may change my view. But he’s an individual. And he’s young. So for now I am going to keep watching his great game, and take it a match at a time; he’s got the long haul in mind so I admire that.

Sean Randall Says:

Jane, I guess it’s just my upbringing, watching lots of NFL, Michael Jordan and even guys like Agassi, Sampras, Becker, Courier, etc., who really laid it out in competition.

I get that Novak has issues, but to retire the way he has really rubs me the wrong way (and obviously I’m not alone in that sentiment). As I’ve said before it’s one thing to retire with a serious physical or violent ailment like a turned ankle, torn knee, etc., but another to quit three games away from completion due to a soar throat in Monte Carlo or dizziness like he had in D-Cup.

Blisters I get, tbut even Nadal stuck i out Wednesday.

I’m not saying guys should never retire, but they really only should if it’s life threatening or by continuing they can make their injury that much worse and impact future events. What was the downside of Novak playing three more games vs. Federer? Suck it up, finish it out.

I guess if I was a Monte Carlo patron and paid a hefty price for a ticket I’d be rather ticked off. And that’s not good for the sport and of course for his image.

My guess is it’s a mental thing – like Haas – and unfortunately he’ll do it again.

jane Says:

Personally, i think retiring before something is “life-threatening” would be a good idea. LOL.

As for dizziness, it could be potentially dangerous in that it could lead to another injury if a player slips and tumbles. Plus, I don’t think anyone should mess with breathing issues. They can be more dangerous than blisters.

Again, this is a personal preference, but as a paying patron, I wouldn’t enjoy watching a player who’s ill, injured, sub-par or going through the motions, puking on the court, etc, just so they can finish a match. Either don’t play in the first place or call it a match. It’s just a game after all.

Sean Randall Says:

And I will add that I like all the talking that Novak does, but when you do that you got to back it up. You can’t be pulling out of matches like he has.

In someways he should cut down on that because the more he talks the more pressure he puts on himself and that in turns creates more breathing problems and stress.

It’s pretty common to be short of breath when you are under the gun or in a tough situation. We all get like that. In Novak’s case he’s already got a breathing issue, and he only adds to the problem by talking himself up and putting unnecessary pressure on himself. His parents also aren’t helping…

jane Says:

I take your point about the added pressure – makes sense.

Sean Randall Says:

Puking on the court? Pete Sampras. One of the greatest matches i’ve ever seen. Just got chills.

Chang cramping at the French. Coria/Gaudio. Sampras in tears at the Australian Open. Becker bloodied at Wimbledon. And I knows there’s many other examples…

Now just imagine if Pete had retired to Corretja in the fifth. Or Gaudio or Coria decided to forego the fifth. Or Chang called it quits. If any of those things had happened I’m sure few would bat eye, but they didn’t. Those guys persevered and in the case of Chang and Sampras came out on top and for the better.

Even when you feel like crap physically you can still win or at least try to. I don’t believe Novak gets that yet.

Sean Randall Says:

And you breakdown physically like Chang, Pete and others have you have to count on your heart and what’s between the ears.

jane Says:

I meant the more recent Murray puke.

I hated that Coria / Gaudio match – lost of drama but tennis-wise? Ugh.

You’re over-looking some passionate fights by Novak though. He’s only quit 5 times. Many times he’s played through cramping and fought hard and long.

Sean Randall Says:

To add – you’ve really got me started on this Jane!! – as a pro athlete you really owe it to the paying fans and the sport to give it your best shot. They are not buying tickets to see you retire, they want to see you play. Sure they will be times you will not be physically up to the task but that doesn’t mean you should give up.

jane Says:

See my above point – I don’t like to see players “suffering” it out. Not that sadistic I guess. ;-)

Sean Randall Says:

Yup, Novak has been through some battles and won some wars. Now he needs to stay on that track.

Suffering and the human emotion. That’s great TV.

jane Says:

“Suffering and the human emotion. That’s great TV.”

Indeed – and I’m all for the drama, providing the tennis is still good and the player is not endangering himself. I’ll let the players make that call and give them the benefit of the doubt most of the time.

After all, they are why we are here.

bob22 Says:

You guys are amazing me. Wow. You spend close to two hours discussing this subject. I can’t wait till my vacation arrives so I can join you. I will be taking my wireless handheld with me always: on beach, in bus, name it … It does not matter. What amazes me is the way you think. Can you PLEASE answer only one question? It is very simple…
Did you EVER take a day off from work because you were sick WITHOUT a life threatening illness? Please stand in front of the mirror and answer it honestly.

Sean Randall Says:

bob22, have I ever called in sick? Oh yeah! But just a few times and never on day of importance to my job. A few times we had important project/meetings, etc., and I recall I had a virus but with what was going on at work I had no choice but to come in. No big deal really. I broke my arm about five years ago, came in to work the next day.

Some people do, some people don’t…

bob22 Says:

So you did took days off from work even they were not life threatening. But you were justifying your decission based of your measurement for importance! Who are you then to spep in and judge others for their own decissions? First you need to learn to be more objective, not to ofend other people. To put thouse words against Djokovic is not acceptable. Major problem with Djokovic is his confidence and people like you are doing very hard to destroy it. If you do not like him don’t watch him, but do not insult him and his family!

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