Djokovic out for No. 2 Ranking; Nadal out for Blood in Hamburg
by Sean Randall | May 12th, 2008, 10:53 am
  • 130 Comments

Thanks to his impressive performance in Rome, Novak Djokovic is nipping at the heals of Rafael Nadal for that No. 2 ranking spot, and by this time next week he just might get it.

And the ramifications of such a ranking change are of importance, especially to Roger Federer. Hamburg is the final week before the seedings for the French Open are released, so if Djokovic does get the No. 2 spot this week he will carry that into the seedings for Roland Garros. That means Fed could possibly play the No. 3 ranked Nadal in the French Open semifinals instead of the finals. That said, I’m sure Roger would rather have Rafa stay No. 2 guaranteeing that he would not have to face the Spaniard until the finals.

Imagine Roger and Rafa banging away at each other in the semifinals at the French with a fresher Novak awaiting the winner in the finals. That could be a big advantage for the Serb.

But the way the draw works out this week, it’s really out of Fed’s hands with both Rafa and Novak on the bottom half.

Of course with just about any clay tournament Rafa’s entered into these days, if he’s healthy he’s the man to beat. But is he? Who really knows with his blister issue.

Federer though seems to be healthy and as long as he doesn’t run into a guy who’s engaged or rumored to be engaged (Mardy Fish, Andy Roddick, Radek Stepanek) things should look bright for the Swiss as he sets out for his fifth Hamburg title.

The clay is Hamburg is slower, conditions wetter which suits Federer who I think doesn’t like the instability and imbalance of sliding on slippery clay. Then again the guy has seemingly turned into a clay specialist of late, and even argued that in his loss to Stepanek in Rome the World No.1 that it was hardly a clay court match that he and Steps played.

Federer’s draw is pretty similar to his one in Rome, there’s not much in the way of hurdles until David Ferrer in the quarterfinals. And again, on a slower clay court Ferrer will have more trouble getting the ball by Federer while Fed should be able to get a few more by the Spaniard.

The second quarter also looks rather uneventful with the Nikolay Davydenko emerging. Richard Gasquet’s the next highest seed but the Frenchman hasn’t seemed to have recovered from his Davis Cup walkabout.

The third quarter is loaded with James Blake, Nicolas Almagro, Tommy Robredo and Djokovic. The Hamburg court isn’t going to help Blake any while Robredo’s a former champion. But I still have to like Novak getting through.

And again, in the last quarter if Rafa’s on his A-game he gets through, gets over on Novak (with the winner getting No. 2?) and takes care of Federer in the final. I’ve said it before I think Novak has the only game to beat Nadal on clay when Nadal is on. But I don’t think that happens here. After the Rome setback Nadal’s got to be out for some blood in Hamburg, assuming of course he’s healthy.


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130 Comments for Djokovic out for No. 2 Ranking; Nadal out for Blood in Hamburg

jane Says:

There will be blood – whose remains to be seen.

That may depend on Rafa’s feet, which should be better by now. I like his chances too, since he’s had a little rest. Novak, even though he didn’t play long & hard (!) in the Qs or Semis in Roma, will still be a little more fatigued than Roger or Rafa, who had a little more, em, R & R.

Then there’s Tsonga & Murray; if either strings together a couple of good matches, momentum can work wonders, and they both have some talent, though clay is not either’s specialty surface.

Should be interesting…


Maja Says:

“Federer though seems to be healthy and as long as he doesn’t run into a guy who’s engaged or rumored to be engaged (Mardy Fish, Andy Roddick, Radek Stepanek) things should look bright for the Swiss”

I must say – this is very very funny :D :D


I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

“Federer though seems to be healthy and as long as he doesn’t run into a guy who’s engaged or rumored to be engaged (Mardy Fish, Andy Roddick, Radek Stepanek) things should look bright for the Swiss”

federer should bite the bullet and pop the question to his longtime gf then maybe that would help him climb out of his slump lol

unless he’s just using mirka as window dressing for his alternative lifestyle ;)


Shital Green Says:

Sean,
“I think Novak has the only game to beat Nadal on clay when Nadal is on. But I don’t think that happens here.”

On his best day, Djoko has the game to beat anyone on any surface, but you could be right he may not get past Nadal in Hamburg unless Nadal is physically in a bad shape. Also, looking at Djoko’s history, I am not ready to believe yet he will win two big tournaments in a row. Most importantly, according to Djoko, Hamburg is not in his list of must-do-better this year. He will be happy if he makes it to the quarter and be able to retain his points. But that is secondary, as a long term strategy. He stated the other day in his interview that he had Rome and French Open in his sight to do better. So, he has mentally given up Hamburg; instead, he will be focusing on French. If he gets to play a couple of matches at Hamburg, he will take that more as a prep toward French. If Nadal falls early, and if everything goes easy for Djoko and if he starts winning at Hamburg, Djoko’s plan might get disarrayed. So, in normal circumstances, he hopes he can get out of Hamburg early and start preparing for French.


Kozmikwunder Says:

Djokovic played only three full matches in Rome and was fortunate that both Federer and Nadal were dismissed in previous rounds. This was not an admirable win by any stretch. It may as well have been the Costa do Sauipe warm-up.

A Montreal-style victory would have been superb, but alas, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” In Novak’s case, a nice lift in ranking points to make up a bit for Miami.

Anything can happen.


NachoF Says:

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies,
You are gay


TennisLover Says:

Djoko is a wonderful player and deserves to be world no. 3 at this point in time. Djoko won 3 major tournaments this year. First against unseeded Tsonga, Second against unseeded Mardy Fish, and now against unseeded Wawrinka. Fortunately or unfortunately for him..they were all unseeded first timers in the finals.


bob22 Says:

To Shital Green, excellent analysis


Kash Says:

No. of top 5 players Novak beat on clay this year = 0

No. of top 10 players Novak beat on clay this year = 0

No. of top 15 players Novak beat on clay this year = 0

No. of top 20 players Novak beat on clay this year = 1 (The ever consistent and presently on a super winning streak – andy murray!)

The one time he had a real fight on his hand from a guy who actually knows how to play the big matches, chokovic choked and retired. Hard to this guy win a 3 out of 5 guy against nadal at RG even if nadal is 50% of his actual level. Just in case you dont know, choker is yet to win a set off nadal in 3 matches. He is young so he might still pull the FO like he did rome, but it will not be without a dollop of fortune. It will definitely not be through a federer or nadal playing at their very best.

Let us face it, chokovic is yet to show us that he can survive a top gun’s onslaught and hang around enough to beat a real champion like federer or nadal. Once things start going away from him he has invariably throw in the towel. Cannot imagine another champion who was such a coward that he has to retire the moment he knows a thrashing is in the offering. He is the very definition of a sissy!

It will be so good if murray/baghdatis/gasquet get their head straight and put the chokovic’s abilities in perspective.


Voicemale1 Says:

On just the facts, Djokovic has no chance against Nadal on clay. They’ve played 3 times over 3 years on clay and Djokovic hasn’t even taken a single set off Nadal, let alone beat him. His win in Rome did give a lot of food for thought, and Kash points out the gist of it.

Djokovic has won two ATP Masters Series this year, Indian Wells & Rome. But when I look at the draw sheets of both tournaments I see something tough to believe. Djokovic played 11 matches in both tournaments and he faced a Top Ten Player only once: Nadal in the IW Semis. That’s it. Can you imagine? Two tournaments at the Masters Series level, and over 11 matches you only have to face a Top Ten guy one time. More to the point, in the Final of each one he was hardly dominant. Djokovic almost blew it at Indian Wells, serving for the championship at 5-3 in the 2nd Set, he promptly got broken twice, lost the last 4 games of the set and had to go to a 3rd Set. And in Rome he had to dig himself out of a hole, based in part to Stan’s already slow movement slowing even further as the match went on.

Contrast that to Nadal, who had to beat 3 GUYS IN THE TOP 5 just to win Monte Carlo for the fourth time (Ferrer, Davydenko & Federer). Even getting to the Final in Miami, Nadal had to beat 2 guys in the Top 10 just to make it there (Blake & Berdych). Nadal is 7-3 vs. Top Ten guys this year; Djokovic is 3-3 against them, and in two of the losses he quit without finishing the match (to Federer & Davydenko, while Roddick beat him outright in Dubai). Since Quitovic wants his retirements to these guys to carry the excuse asterisk next to the L he gets, then let’s apply the same standard to his W’s against them: Federer ill in Australia & Nadal with a toe injury in Indian Wells. So his lone legit win this year against a Top Ten guy was against Ferrer in Australia.

Djokovic is still the opportunist at this stage, and he gets the press now because the clay season represents his best chance to gain ranking points. After Hamburg, Djokovic will have lots of defending to do. He has Semis-or-Better Ranking Points to defend for a LONG stretch of the remaining calendar: The French, Wimbledon, Canada, US Open, Vienna, and Madrid. His goal then will be to avoid another early loss like he had in Marseille & Miami in all 6 of these tournaments. He played the clay season with no pressure, but the pressure for him is gonna start intensifying for him once we get to Roland Garros. Lets see how he’s coped with it by the time we get to the ATP Paris event in the Fall.


Shital Green Says:

In 7 tournaments he played this year, Fed did not beat any top 10 players in a real sense on any surface, let alone clay. At Aussie 2008, he lost to Djoko in straight sets; at Dubai, to Murray; at Indian Wells, to Fish in straight sets; at Miami, to Roddick; at Estoril, won because Davydenko retired due to injuries; at Monte Carlo, made it to the Final because Djoko retired due to strip throat; and at Rome, lost to Stepanek in straight sets on clay.
Fed is without a title so far except Estoril, a small tournament with 175 ranking points (Race points 40 only).

Let me repeat once again Djoko is the ATP Race Leader, i.e. he has played better than any one else this year, and that includes one SF and one win at the two clay court Master Series. Fed is behind by a large margin, 186 points. Only if Fed takes over Djoko in Race points this year or any other year in future, I will believe Djoko is no match for him. I firmly believe Djoko will keep his words that he will do better than last year at RG, i.e. he will get to the Final. Let’s just wait until French Open, to make a bit more conclusive comparison between Fed and Djoko in 2008. The symptoms are good for Djoko, but not so good for Fed so far. And end of the year will speak the truth.


jane Says:

Kash,

“choker is yet to win a set off nadal in 3 matches.”

I assume you mean on clay, since Djokovic beat Rafa in IW this year, and of course in Montreal last year.


jane Says:

Tennis-Lover,

You’re right that Novak didn’t face a “seeded” player in those finals, but it’s important to note:

a) that he knocked out Rafa at IW and Roger at AO

and

b) that he played the hot players of each tournamnent in the finals: Tsonga of course knocking out Rafa at AO; Fish knocking out Nalby & Fed at IW; and Wawrinka breaking into the top ten with his win in Roma.


BolevnZ Says:

It is obvious he hasnt got the strength to deal with Federer or Nadal during whole year, but I can’t see how can you measure some of his wins by number of matches with Top 10. Sorry for you to hear, but at Australia, Nadal wasn’t number 2 in the world at that moment, Tsonga was, and he proved it. He is supposed to meat Top 10 playes in quaters, semis or in finals.. At AUS that was the case. Ferrer, Federer, and than he faced Tsonga who smashed Nadal… And against Federer, Novak’s game was at high level. It is true that you play well as much as your opponent lets you, but he played well, and he got the game in his hands. It is true that presure on him is great now, but i believe he can achieve quaters at RG, and semis at WBL and US… With more luck, he can get higher. But at this moment, he cannot beat Nadal at clay nor Federer at grass. Also, Nadal isn’t the favour to win matches at high-speeded surfaces against Novak. Hope these 2 months will give us new champions and something more interesting than Federer’s time :)


jane Says:

Kash,

“chokovic is yet to show us that he can survive a top gun’s onslaught and hang around enough to beat a real champion like federer or nadal. ”

Again, I have to assume you mean on clay, since he’s beaten Fed and Rafa on hardcourts, more than once in each case, and he may’ve had a chance at beating Rafa at Wimbledon if he weren’t injured with blisters like Rafa is now. It’s highly likely if Rafa had to play a 5 setter with those feet, he, too, would’ve had to retire. Djoko took a set off Rafa at Wimbledon and he could barely move.

You’re right in that it does remain to be seen whether Djokovic can beat either of Roger or Rafa on clay.


jane Says:

I am not saying Djokovic is as consistent as Roger or Rafa because he’s not. He’s only 20. We need to see how he develops. But not giving credit where it’s due doesn’t seem right.

He played extremely well in Australia; had he not lost that one set to Tsonga, he would’ve matched Federer by not losing a set to winning the title.

I also agree that it can’t be chalked up anymore to “top ten” since there are so many threats and dark horses throughout the tour, and we’ve seen more evidence of that this year. Federer, at IW, also acknowledged that Fish is a dangerous player, no matter what his ranking, and Rafa has always said that any player can win on any given day. There are also a number of clay-court specialists who are not ranked as highly as they might otherwise be. Andreev is no slouch on clay, for instance.


Voicemale1 Says:

Jane Says:
“I am not saying Djokovic is as consistent as Roger or Rafa because he’s not. He’s only 20. We need to see how he develops. But not giving credit where it’s due doesn’t seem right.

He played extremely well in Australia; had he not lost that one set to Tsonga, he would’ve matched Federer by not losing a set to winning the title.

I also agree that it can’t be chalked up anymore to “top ten” since there are so many threats and dark horses throughout the tour, and we’ve seen more evidence of that this year. Federer, at IW, also acknowledged that Fish is a dangerous player, no matter what his ranking, and Rafa has always said that any player can win on any given day. There are also a number of clay-court specialists who are not ranked as highly as they might otherwise be. Andreev is no slouch on clay, for instance.”

So what you’re saying in effect Jane is that rankings really don’t matter much. If you beat or lose to #1, it’s not much different overall than beating or losing to #98 (which is what Fish was ranked at the time of Indian Wells). Either rankings matter as a measure of ability or talent or they don’t. And if they don’t matter that much as a measure of ability, then let’s just dispense with them altogether. In fact, we really don’t need to have a discussion on the accomplishments of any player or where they’ll be ranked then, since they can win or lose to any of them, and winning or losing to any of them is no reflection then on how talented one is who beats them or how untalented one is by losing to them.

How utterly egalitarian :)


craig Says:

Funny that the one time Nadal gets hit with an injury in a clay tournament, Federer isn’t in good enough form to capitalise.


Kozmikwunder Says:

I’ve got a few questions:

If Federer were to win the French Open without having had to go through Nadal, would it still count as a legit victory? or would people piss all over his win?

If Djokovic were to win the French Open without having had to face either Federer or Nadal, would he be praised as a great champion? or would people piss all over his win?

If Nadal were to lose before the French final to someone who played well, would his opponent’s win get pissed all over because Rafa’s supposed to be invincible on the clay or because he maybe had a piece of banana in his throat? Could Rafa actually lose to someone who is “in the zone”?


jane Says:

No I am not saying, Voicemale, that “rankings don’t matter much” – those are your words, not mine. Clearly you’re having some interpretation issues.

What I am saying is that there is depth enough in the tour, in terms of talent and ability, not to mention that on specific surfaces, that it can’t or shouldn’t be overlooked – that was one point I made.

The other was that “consistency” is key to staying at the top of the rankings, and one thing that goes with that is the ability to excel on more than one surface.

But consistency doesn’t mean that number 40 can’t beat number 2 on a given day / surface – does it? Or what would be the point for players ranked lower? If a player in the top ten is beaten by (or beats) players ranked lower than, say, those in the top ten, does that mean that wasn’t a caliber match? Er, no.

Sometimes unseeded or lower ranked players can play BETTER than a top tener. (Case in point – Tsonga at the AO!) The thing that makes the top ten players so exceptional, I will repeat, is consistency.

Sure some are more talented than others – BUT if you’re in the top 20, heck top 50, in the world, you must be pretty damn talented.

Call me “utterly egalitarian” or “pollyannaish” if you’d like, Voicemale, but I wonder if you’re bias against Djokovic might be clouding your perspective of his game & talent?


Kozmikwunder Says:

OK, I realize it’s a little too soon to be elevating Djokovic to great champion status after just one slam title, but (regarding my question above) would he be legitimately recognized as the outright winner at the French, someone who beat every player he faced, or not?

Same question applies to Federer?


jane Says:

Kozmikwunder,

First, great name.

Second, my sentiments exactly. The “in the zone” factor is being overlooked by those hung up by rankings. Of course rankings matter, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a helluva lot of great players who can challenge the top guys. Nor does it mean that when a top guy beats a lesser ranked player, their win should somehow be seen as illegitimate or unimportant.


jane Says:

Think of someone like Murray – most of us would agree – or certainly most tennis pundits agree – he has immense talent and ability, but thus far he’s not been consistent enough. That may have something to do with injuries / fitness, or coaches, or possibly media / national pressure.

The point is that there are MANY factors that affect a player’s ranking – it’s not simply talent and ability.


jinyongfan Says:

Wow, what an eye-opening, fair and unbaised analysis from Kash and Voicemale1.


Kozmikwunder Says:

Jane, yes, it’s about consistency.

Many, many players have the ability to get their games together and really challenge the top dogs when the occasion presents itself. Some win, some lose.
I’m reminded of the Japanese player Takao Suzuki who, in the 2006 Tokyo quarterfinal, stretched Federer to a third-set tiebreak (4-6 7-5 7-6(3)). He was ranked outside the top 1000 at the time!!! He lost, but he gave Federer something to think about.
I use Federer as an example because he’s generally been the most consistent player, maintaining the no.1 spot for 224(?) consecutive weeks. Astonishing. And there have been plenty of tough, challenging matches for him during that span.


Voicemale1 Says:

Jane:

“Call me “utterly egalitarian” or “pollyannaish” if you’d like, Voicemale, but I wonder if you’re bias against Djokovic might be clouding your perspective of his game & talent?”.

The issue about talent is what we’ve been talking about. Djokovic’s talent is measured by how he handles the best guys – not just any guys. If you say rankings don’t necessarily determine who’s “best”, then you can make any arbitrary claim you want about any of them and simple declare they have “talent”. My point is that overall, the ranking system is a good indication of talent and ability; you say not necessarily so. Therefore, you can make any claim you like because, well..what that ranking number says doens’t really mean what it says it does. Oy vay.

Djokovic’s game is fairly straight forward. He bashes the ball hard and accurately (most times) from all sides: serve, forehand, backhand – the kind of stuff rewarded by hard courts. He grinds, as opposed to someone with a first-class attacking game like Federer, and therefore is more steady. He doesn’t have a first rate weapon like Federer’s Forehand, or even Nadal’s forehand on clay. His serve is good, but it’s not Sampras-like. Watching his Rome match it struck me: he doesn’t have a slice backhand either. He just hits a two-handed topspin backhand as hard as he can every time you go there. Thats why that side can break down, which is what Wawrinka did in the first set and half of the second; and its what Federer did at last years US Open. There’s no variance on his backhand side, so he has to have the timing down precisely to always hit it hard with accuracy, otherwise the errors start to pile up in a hurry. Once his timing goes on that side he’s uber-vulnerable, because he can’t do anything else with it except hit hard and hope it goes in. When someone can slice low and short to the Djokovic backhand, and especially on the natural surfaces like clay & grass where it stays low anyway, they’ll reap many bonanzas. He’ll have to hit up for safety from a mid-court position rather than hard from the back of the court for pace. His priority would be to get it over the net, so there’ll be less pace on it. It’s the kind of reply a Top Ten guy can coax from him a lot more often than a 50 ranked guy. See?

In short Jane, I get what his game is all about. He beats up a lot on a bunch of lower ranked guys (which I sure hope he can being ranked 3rd in the world). But he still has decidedly losing records to both Federer & Nadal. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon.


Kash Says:

“At Aussie 2008, he lost to Djoko in straight sets”

“at Monte Carlo, made it to the Final because Djoko retired due to strip throat”

This, my friends, is how you make an UNBIASED argument. Fed played the AO semi-final with a cloud of ill-ness and any objective fan would agree he was a step slower than his usual self. Yet to this utterly FAIR poster such a energy-sapping disease deserves no mention. While in the very same post, he/she makes it a point to mention on the most dangerous disease known to humans – “STRIP THROAT”.

This is exactly the reason why chokovic made that cowardly move of retiring – to deny a clean win to fed-ex! He has enough classless fans who will do the rest for him. You cannot expect more from a moron who retires 2 sets and a break down to rafa on clay and claims he was in control of the match! Ditto fans!


Dr. Death Says:

Strip throat is a horrible disease that comes from hanging out in low class bars. It usually affects low class men who do all sorts of unmentionables.

It is highly contagious but usually requires physical contact, but not always. So never kiss your opponent after a match. Also, be careful of the French Open where kissing the cheek is a matter of protocol.

Love “chockovic” btw, Kash.


Daniel Says:

Kozmikwunder

Excellent questions, I was thinking the same!

We are so used to Fed and Nadal that a player not beating them in a big tourney is not consider a “real” win. Last year Djoko shine in Toronto and Nalby in Madrid/Paris because they won categorically.
If a player win RG and don’t face Nadal, people will diminish the victorie, the same if someone wins Wimbledon without beating Fed. Their aura is set and will be hard to get back to “normal” standards!

And, I agree with Jane, we have to put credit where it is! Novak is putting in facts what he said last year. He is the best player this year, so far.

We are so used to Fed and Nadal that a player not beating them in a big tourney is not consider a “real” win. Last year Djoko shine in Toronto and Nalby in Madrid/Paris because they won categorically. No one can diminsh that!

But, Nadal’s big moment of the year will be next week when he will have to survive the first real treat in his rankings in years. And Fed’s is yet to come, since he shines after RG!


Kash Says:

Jane:

The 1st question you asked was on clay, as another poster mentioned.

The other thing, Djokovic is yet to convince me that he will put up a fight against a top-flight champion when things are not going his way on any court. He needs fed/nad to be off their game. It doesn’t look like he will put up a fight if those two champs come out with their A game. I hope he will tough out victories against either of them, when either of them is playing at their very best.

I do agree he is young, but by the same token, let us wait till he achieves the outright dominance fed/nadal have achieved the last 2 yrs. So far it is still a dog-fight out there. Fed and nadal did not have the best starts to the year, but who knows what the rest of year holds?


Daniel Says:

Dr. Death

Excellent timing! :)


Kash Says:

Dr. Death:

“Chokovic” is quite funny, but I am not the one who came up with it :( It is quite pathetic that I dont even remember where I picked it from.

And I love your take on “strip throat”. I have to check with my doc if I have it already, coz your description sounds too familiar too me ;)

I hope you are safely far enough from that disastrous earthquake in china. I kind of remember you talking about being in/around that part of the world in some of your posts!

Last but not the least, I am a huge fan of your posts. (the ones I can comprehend, anyway! my knowledge of literature and music/poetry and their appreciation is abysmal!) So stick around for as long as you can. :)


Kash Says:

“Novak is putting in facts what he said last year.”

>>>>> That is no good Daniel. If you really want to talk the talk make sure they happen the moment you talk and not the next year or a decade later. Choker said “Fed was going down” in the aus open 07 4th round and get his behind handed to him that match

His mom then talked about the King being dead only to see her immature son quit from a real fight at MC. There is no middle ground here. If you talk crap, make sure you have the results to back that up.


Dr. Death Says:

Kash – do you work for me? Butt kissing will take you far!

Not near Chengdu fortunately. HK is home for me. It appears the current generation of leadership in China is reacting in a much more Western fashion – sending in a lot of police and military, and speaking openly on tv etc. Looks like a major disaster and this does put tennis into perspective.


Shital Green Says:

Kash,
If I were to follow your “unbiased” example, I could say the same thing that Fed/Nad beat or can beat Djoko only on his off day. I am not making that argument.

Next, I would not enjoy Djoko’s or anyone’s utter domination. I just have a different taste.

You can belong to whatever class you want to. I don’t and will not look down upon your “classy” taste. But don’t try to impose your idea of class (or classiness or class-full) on others. I don’t subscribe to Orientalism, in Edward Said’s sense, or to the neo-colonially homogenized idea of Western classy standard that finds the rest of the world philistine, savage, thus sub-human. I rather prefer to remain classless than be pigeonholed to some “class.” I just happen to have a different taste and resist to buy into the product that you cherish so much as a consumer.


Daniel Says:

Kash

I think being misunderstood. I meant concerning that he wanted to be number one, and he is wining as he wants to. Sorry!

The other side of him I find of very poor taste! When he first appear I liked his game and thought, this will be a future n. 1, but them the success came and we all know what happened. Not to mention the retiring thing, that makes me feel sad.

I too agree with you in several of your points. To me he is not ready to win Grand Slam matches against Fed and Nadal in their territories. He will have to prove it first. But this year so far he is better than Fed and Nadal, 3 title (1 GS and 2 MS).

But, Fed highligths of the year is yet to come, and as he has done in the last years, when the time came he will prevail!


jane Says:

Voicemale,

“My point is that overall, the ranking system is a good indication of talent and ability; you say not necessarily so. ”

No, that’s not what i said; I said any player in the top 50, say, has talent, but what sets the top, top dogs apart may be a number of factors, one of which could include more talent, but other factors come into play, like how they handle pressure, how many tournaments they play, how consistent they are.

You keep skirting these facts. Yes, the ranking system denotes talent, BUT it also is determined by a number of other relevant factors that should not be overlooked in a fair analysis of the rankings and / or the players themselves.


jane Says:

Voicemale,

1. “he can’t do anything else [from his backhand side] except hit hard and hope it goes in. ”

Hmmm… I’ve seen some great touch backhand volleys from Djoko, does that count? He also attacked the net more as the match wore on against Stan. Also, your comment that he has to “hope it goes in” is interesting, considering how many commentators have noted his accuracy off the backhand wing.

“He beats up a lot on a bunch of lower ranked guys (which I sure hope he can being ranked 3rd in the world). But he still has decidedly losing records to both Federer & Nadal. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon”

Maybe his “losing records” (2:6 Fed & 3:6 Rafa) won’t change immediately but nor should we expect them to. He’s only really been a contender since last year; what he’s achieved in that timeframe is, in my view anyhow, pretty remarkable.


Kozmikwunder Says:

Daniel: “If a player win RG and don’t face Nadal, people will diminish the victorie, the same if someone wins Wimbledon without beating Fed. Their aura is set and will be hard to get back to “normal” standards!”

It does not seem right for people to take that view. If Nadal loses before the French final, isn’t that his problem for not getting there? The winner will have beaten the players he had to face and deservedly held up the trophy.
Same for Federer. If he loses before the Wimbledon final, the blame goes to him for not getting there, right? The winner beats whoever he has to face and gets the trophy.

It is in the realm of possibility for Djokovic to get a win over Federer and/or Nadal on clay, though it would be rare. That’s why I’d have liked for him to be able to face either of them in Rome. I would have appreciated his title win more that way. It seemed too easy for him, but it counts because Federer and/or Nadal, the top two claycourters in the tournament, should have been around for the encounter and weren’t, while Djokovic beat his opposition and was last man standing.


jane Says:

Kash,

“I hope he will tough out victories against either of them, when either of them is playing at their very best.”

Well I agree, in that I hope this occurs, too, but I’ll also say that I hope he’s given credit when he does, for who’s to say when a player is at their “very best” – seems tough to judge.

Usually very best means winning. So if Djokovic wins, then that automatically could mean Rafa or Roger were not at their very best. Do you see how it’s a “catch 22″ for Djoko?

If you mean a classic, dog-fight 5 setter, like Roger & Rafa had at Wimbledon last year, well then, yeah, bring it on.

But we seem to forget that Djokovic ONLY broke onto the scene last year in April when he won Miami. Since then, look at what he’s accomplished. In terms of wins only, last year he got 2 MS shields and this year already 2 MS shields and a Grand Slam. And that’s not even mentioning his semi and final appearances in 3 of the 4 grand slams last year. Why can’t people see that?

So what if Roger and Federer have eluded him -other than his 4 wins against them, that is – they’ve dominated the sport for a long time. Do we suddenly expect Djokovic to beat them every time he plays them?

And please, look at Djokovic’s retirements in 2007, when he played his heart out. He retired ONCE in the semi against Rafa in Wimbledon with the same injury Rafa has now, and as I’ve said already, if Rafa had to play a 5 setter against Ferrero, he also would’ve had to retire. (I am not counting Djoko’s Davis Cup match when he was winning by a large margin b.t.w.).


jane Says:

“So what if Roger and Federer have eluded him” – sorry, obviously I meant Rafa and Fed…


KMac Says:

Hi all
i think Djokovic’d got the Fed figure out
1: everytime Roger slice the BH Djokovic will step in and hit it deep cross-court with angle to move Roger back and out then look to hit it down the line( he does not need to hit it hard ) or if lucky will get a short ball to run around and whoop it down the line too, but the key word is to step in ( another word is to attack it, that’s for the slice backhand of Roger)
2: if you can’t out hit the forehand or he’ got you on the run with the forehand either down the line or cross-court shot give him an looping topspin to the backhand to reset the point or to get something soft that you can attack with
this is my fisrt post so that’ll be enough for now


Von Says:

Kash & Dr. Death:

“And I love your take on “strip throat”. I have to check with my doc if I have it already, coz your description sounds too familiar too me.”

Don’t you two guys have anything better to do — I’ve had my quota of laughs for today just reading your posts. Shame on you!! :) :) Anyway, far be it from me to stop you. Keep it coming!! :)

Kash:

D not follow Dr. Death’s lead, he’ll submerge you 20,000 leagues below the sea in his poetry. Do so at your own risk. Tsk, tsk, tsk. A tisket, a tasket, a white and yellow basket …. :)

____________
jane:

Hang in there girl, these guys are ganging — too much cheek kissing. :)


Glenn Says:

I think the tension regarding Djokovic here is between the idealist (Jane) and the realists (Djokovic’s non-fans). I think both parties should agree that Djokovic cannot beat Federer or Nadal if Federer or Nadal are at their best at this time, or perhaps even next year. Both parties should also agree that Djokovic COULD improve, and maybe several years from now actually deserve the status of “Number one” (which currently or anytime soon, IMHO, he certainly does not).


zero Says:

With Djokovic, I don’t like some of his aspects but I have to like his game. Joker holds his nerves so well in big matches. He can produce aces back-to-back when he’s in dangerous situation, so he can save a lot of break points. I won’t be surprise if Joker will be no.1 soon as he totally deserves it. Don’t call him an opportunist. It’s hard to have chances but it’s harder to take these.

I love Rafa. I don’t care whether Rafa is no.2 or no.3. Nadal must win clay tournaments to be the real Nadal. Hope he’ll be well next week.


Glenn Says:

Has Djokovic actually expressed an opinion about possibly surpassing Nadal?

I remember seeing an interview with Nadal wherein he stated he doesn’t even think about his ranking. He doesn’t play for points, he doesn’t play for the glory – he just loves to play the game. THAT is what I call athletic character!!!


Dr. Death Says:

Von – what do you mean Kash and I have nothing to do?

But at the end of the year, will Roger say?

I dropped it, I dropped it
Yes, on the way I dropped it
A little girlie picked it up
And took it to the market
She was truckin’ on down the avenue
Without a single thing to do


Von Says:

Dr. Death:

“Von – what do you mean Kash and I have nothing to do?”

Do I detect an exposed nerve? I said:

“Don’t you two guys have anything better to do?” I realize that you had to change my words to work your poetry into the mix. I’m a step ahead of you. Carry on smartly — the operative word being ‘smartly’. Get it? :) :)


alex Says:

Jane – agree with you that the rankings don’t always tell the full story.

One thing rankings don’t tell you is whether a player has lost time to injury. Tsonga, for example, was off the tour for an extended period so while he appeared to come from nowhere in Australia other players probably realized better than us just how good he can be. Consistency is his biggest problem so the chances of him staying at the top maybe aren’t so great.

Ancic and Stepanek are 2 others who have been top 10 but then suffered through injury. They come back into the game with a ranking that doesn’t reflect their true ability.


BolevnZ Says:

I remember Djokovic’s win agains Fed in Montreal. Did Rafa beat Novak on hard court after IW 2007? I do not remember, refresh my memory.. Also I would like to say that he played a tormenting set for him vs Davidenko at Davis, he was 2-0 up, he lost that 3rd set which was hard for me to watch, and retired. He was BETTER IN THAT MATCH! But he needed to rest. I believe he will stay nu.3 this year. Fed wont give his crown yet, and Rafa will win both incomin’ tours if he is in good health. I can’t say same about Fed’s Wimbledon win, he has more chances to break this year than Rafa on clay.


Danica Says:

Jane and Shital, great posts as usual ;). Like you guys very much.

While I was quite disappointed by Nole’s retirement against Fed, in his defense, I must say that strap throat is not something you should play with specially if you are an athlete. Today, it’s cured with antibiotics but not that long ago, people were dying from it. The famous example that comes to my mind is Gustav Malher.

In my own days of competing in track and field, I remember doctor not allowing me to compete until I bring the proof from the lab that I was strap A clean. Need I stress that I was practicing as usual, feeling quite fine, not at all dizzy… I can well imagine that frequent travel, changing of time zones and rigorous practice can deteriorate the health of someone who is a carrier of that particular bacteria. In that respect, I see why someone would quit the fight. However, I still think that 10 extra minutes of play would not jeopardize his career. There is no shame in loosing to Fed ;)


tennisballpenetrator Says:

BolevnZ

Nadal beat Djokovic in Shanghai last year, but Djokovic claimed he was tired and couldn’t play his best, but I thought it was a good match.


tennisballpenetrator Says:

BolevnZ

Nadal beat Djokovic in Shanghai last year: 6-4, 6-4 but Djokovic claimed he was tired and couldn’t play his best, but I thought it was a good match.


Ellen Mooring Says:

I will be delighted when Djokovic is No. 1. Actually, anybody but R. F. would be good but we know R. F. doesn’t like Nole. That would make it even better.


CDB Says:

Does anyone give Andy Roddick a chance at this years French. Ha has had a good year so far, you know.


I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

the fed is sounding desperate lately lol

——-
“The more you lose, the more they believe they can beat me,” said Federer. “But believing is not enough, you still have to beat me.”
——-

I must be confused but didnt Stepanek just beat him by his unshakeable belief that he would? ..lol


jane Says:

I’d like to see Tsonga & Federer play; they never have. I know Fed has a better chance against him on clay, but if the two should meet on grass, I’d could be a great match. Tsonga, if he’s fit, really should be a threat at Wimbledon this year.

In fact, Wimbledon has more contenders than the French this year, I’d think – Murray, Djokovic, Rafa, Tsonga, Gasquet, Roddick, Nalbandian and Fed.

CDB – I certainly hope to see Roddick do better at the French this year. I don’t think he’s ever gotten past the second round.


jane Says:

Here’s one thing Djoko said in Hamburg:

“Novak Djokovic says he is in no particular hurry to dethrone Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal atop the men’s tennis rankings because he has time on his side. “I turn 21 soon. I am still young and don’t have to push myself to the limit. I will take it step by step”

Here’s what Rafa said:

“He is going to be number two. He is close and I have to defend a lot of points,” said the three-time reigning French Open champion Nadal.”

Here’s one thing Federer said:

“I don’t feel more vulnerable. I haven’t been all that bad this year. The others still have to beat me,” said Federer.”

————————————————

Admittedly these are mere “sound bites” from their interviews (if anyone has the links to the full pressers I’d like it), but it seems as though Djoko isn’t in a hurry to dethrone anyone, Rafa is maybe feeling some pressure since the season is compacted and he has so many points to defend, and Roger’s not too concerned.


craig Says:

I must be confused but didnt Stepanek just beat him by his unshakeable belief that he would? ..lol

Come on man, don’t you know Roger has mono on some days?


deb Says:

CDB – the way he was playing in Rome the second week would be a possibility for Roddick at the FO. However, a lot will depend on the shoulder/back injury he needs, by his own admission, to be fully fit and in confident mood to do well on clay.


Guga76 Says:

What is wrong with the lot of you? Who cares who thinks Djokovic can or can’t beat anyone on a particular surface or when somebody is at their “best”. This is all hypothetical. What we have are the results. This guy beat #3, then #2, then #1 back to back to back to win Masters Series Canada last year. He is the most improved player 2 years in a row as awarded by the ATP. He just turned 21. He is incredible. Whether you like him or not, he is a very good player coming out of far less than ideal childhood tennis training, which makes his story more compelling. He is finally somebody who is actually challenging the dynasty of Nadal and Federer and it should be appreciated by you supposed “sportsfans”. He is also, unlike Davydenko (nothing against him) a bit of an interesting character for better or worse that makes the audience want to follow him. He is doing the sport a huge favor and I wish him well. He also helps make your favorites (Federer and Nadal) to be better. Just enjoy it folks – it’s a great time to be a tennis fan!


MMT Says:

If this year has taught us anything it’s that predictions of who will play in the semi’s and finals of any grand slam or master’s series is a complete shot in the dark. All three of them have to get through the rest of the draw for this discussion to begin, and clearly there are no longer any guarantees of that.

The condensed schedule combined with changes in Djokovic’s and Federer’s form make this year’s FO very interesting indeed.


I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

Come on man, don’t you know Roger has mono on some days?
———

he has mono only on the days that he loses :)


Kozmikwunder Says:

Mono is no longer the issue.
Federer is climbing out of that illness which had clearly affected his movement earlier this year. Harder to tell his condition on clay because the ball has a slower return. Wimbledon may indicate more.
He’s going to need to be more wise about his shotmaking for a while.


jane Says:

Guga76,

Good post. Thanks for that.


polo Says:

Guga76,

Most objective and sensible post I have read here so far.


Leticia Says:

Did you watch the tournament? Did you know that Roger and Nadal didn’t play against Nole? Did you know that two players retired against him? What do you mean “impressive performance? Besides Wawrinka (who is not a top ten player) almost win, I think he couldn’t do it because his lack of experience, but he was too close, Nole didn’t dominate the match.


craig Says:

Did you know that two players retired against him?

and did you see at Estoril, Mr Mono was handed the trophy by Davydenko?


Glenn Says:

Guga76,

When I watch Tennis with my kids on TV, I want them to have someone to look up to – people with class and sportsmanship. The only ones I can think of right now who fit the bill of “heroes” are Nadal, Wawrinka, Bolleli, Fish, Kohlschreiber, Blake and Federer (in that order; I wish I could include Gasquet, but he doesn’t even seem to be trying right now). So I would not be happy at THIS time if Djokovic was in the top spot, because Djokovic does not have those “hero” qualities (perhaps he will in the future). He’s pompous and self-aggrandizing, and those are not qualities I appreciate in a sportsfigure, and not someone I would want my kids to emulate.

Well, that’s just my personal take on it as a dad.


Pedja the King Says:

How can someone say that Djokovic’s wins aren’t good enough??? It’s not his fault that Rafa lost to Ferero. And how can you say that Djokovic won in Roma just because Almagro and Stepanek retired. He won first set against Almagro 6:1 and against Stepanek 6:0!!! And if Djokovic don’t beat Rafa on RG and wins it, you would say that it’s not a real win, but if Rafa wins RG beating players under TOP50, it would still be a legitimate win!!! Djokovic has to beat Rafa or Fed to be a winner but Fed can be a winner beating just anybody… Who does Rafa needs to beat on clay to be a ‘real’ winner?? Just like Davidenko… He has a 1-3 record against Rafa and 0-12 (!!!!!) against Federer but he is a consistent player and he is a No.4 and he deserves it!! He even has 1-5 record against Roddick.(Wins on Rafa and Andy came on the same tournament. He played that IW like never in his life!!!) And 1-0 agains Nole because Nole retired in the Davis Cup(Nole was leading 6-4 6-3 4-6 ) If it was on 2 sets he would win!!! Sick Nole is better than healthy world No. 4 playing in front of his home croud!!!!! Nole is a Winner and a consistant player and you will see that at the and of the year.


roki Says:

i did not post here since that novak retirement.
One thing just to remind many of you.
Federer had tommy retire in wimbly last year, same player at iw this year, i dont know who in miami, and finals at estoril too. Cmon, nobody would tell a thing against him if he won all that tournaments. That is quite surprising how much you are blinded with that man.
I dont know exactly why?
But who am i to judge.
Nobody is perfect, neither one of them (both as a persons and players).
Season is very intersting and i like it…
Be cool and enjoy watching them battle it out.
And a few smiles for sake of that :) :) :)


Pedja the King Says:

Glenn,

I have to disagree!!

Djokovic is an idol in his home country. He is a human guy. He is building 2 tennis centars in Serbia for kids to have where to make their first tennis steps. He is fer when playing tennis. A sports-man. He acting like showman with elegance. He speaks Serbian, English, German and Italian (maybe some language more but i dont know…). He is very polite, caring person. He is well educated as well.


Dr. Death Says:

Attenhut!

Ok all bloggers. Forgetaboutit.

My book(y,ie?) tells me that the future of tennis is………….


Dr. Death Says:

Steve Darcis.

Give that a think, if you please.


Agassifan Says:

All this discussion about federer going down is without perspective.

Federer, in 2008, is performing about as badly (or as well) as Sampras did in his peak years (1993-95). Sampras would routinely lose 14-15 matches a year during his best times. His 7 wimbledons really catapulted him to where he reached. There’s nothing to suggest that Fed wouldn’t win another few wimbledon titles.

Check out this website for perspective:

http://www.tennis28.com/studies/Federer_Sampras.html

It really shows the comparison, and how federer, even though he started winning so much later than sampras (in terms of age), is actually already ahead of sampras by almost any statistic.

people forget that after the 2000 wimbledon, sampras went 28 tournaments without a title before winning the US open.

If federer “limps” along from now on, losing 14-15 matches a year for the next few years, winning 1-2 slams per year, just like sampras did, he would be GOAT by 2009, and GOD by 2012 (assuming he retires the same age Sampras did)

And 230 weeks consecutive no 1? Gimme a break, even on the women’s side the best has been 186 weeks (graf). The best Sampras managed was 102 weeks. This is a ridiculous streak that may never be broken in our lifetime (just like 10 consecutive slam finals, 15 consecutive slam semis and counting, 24 consecutive finals won, 56 consecutive matches won on hard courts and on grass, 2 years back to back all four finals, 5 consecutive wimbledons, 4 consecutive US opens, 41 match win streak, 26 consecutive matches won against top 10 players, 3 consecutive tournaments on 3 different surfaces, 17 consecutive finals reached, 7 consecutive tournaments won). THis guy has been ridiculously fantastic, so now that he getting down to normal human standard, all some of us can do is to criticize….come on…..


Agassifan Says:

Add 8370 ranking points to this list (sampras’s best was about 6800 points, converted to today’s ranking system). 8370 represents about 79% of the total maximum points that a player can win in a year, from the maximum possible points.


fed is afraid Says:

rog did all of that in a weak era, other than rafa, there has been no one to challenge him.


Glenn Says:

Pedja,

That he is a hero in HIS country is to be expected, but it doesn’t concern me. Most of what you say is true, but when it comes right down to it, he is STILL haughty and arrogant on court, and more often than not has no self-control in displaying his bad emotions.

My kids don’t have the benefit of researching biographies (they’re 7 and 5, for goodness’ sake!). All they will get is what they see on Television, and on the basis of what they see, they will look up to certain sports figures. From what I’ve seen of Djokovic, I don’t want my kids to emulate his behaviors. Others (and I’ve named those above) set an INFINITELY better ON-COURT example than Djokovic.


Glenn Says:

Agassifan,

You’ve given a lot of impressive stats on Fed! Cool!

Given his breathing problems (psychosomatic or truly physical), even Djokovic fans must admit there is little chance Djokovic will ever be “number 1″ in the same sense that Federer is.


Von Says:

sensationalsafin:

FYI. Thought you would like to hear the good news. Marat is now in the third round of Hamburg. He had to do it the hard way. Winning the qualies and then the subsequent rounds. Who says he can’t string more than 2 matches together. He was very good in Munich also. What I have noticed with him is that he is playing more patiently. He is waiting for his opportunities and then striking. Additionally, he’s not getting down on himself if, and when, he overhits; his demeanor is a more calm and positive one. Jason Goodall, the commentator on the Tennis Channel, mentioned that he had a conversation with Marat this week, and Marat divulged to Goodall that he believes that it will all come together for him again. The heart of a great champion! I hope the big lug can go far in Hamburg whch will certainly be a great confidence booster. I couldn’t be more pleased for Safin. Keep the faith!! :)


Kash Says:

“and how can you say that Djokovic won in Roma just because Almagro and Stepanek retired. He won first set against Almagro 6:1 and against Stepanek 6:0!!!”

>>>>> Maybe because they donot have a history of faking injuries in big matches, their retirements actually are *cough* genuine? This is another thing about chokovic. He would be totally competitive and suddenly when he loses a set, out come the trainers, physios and what not. I mean if a guy is genuinely injured, i think it needs to 1st show in a drop in the level of play. I hope drama queen will be wise enough to employ this act into his retirements from now on, so that there is atleast some credibility to his retirement in situations where he is not man enough to swallow a thrashing.

Jane:

I agree djokovic has immense talent and has great results but there is no more defense against these stupid retirements of his. His retirement at Wimbledon against rafa, i agree that might be because of the stupid scheduling last year at AELTC. I say “might” because right now it is hard to trust any of djokovic’s claims on retirement. If the dude can retire because of a strep throat, i really have to question is toughness. Rafa could have thrown in the towel in the 4th set in the final right? Ditto for A-rod in the MC semi-final against ferrer or federer against tipsarevic in that marathon 10-8 5th setter or even the djokovic semi-final match. While you can say players should back out of any physical activities at the 1st sign of any kind of symptom ( a rash maybe?), a huge reason why sports are popular because of the tendency of its greatest champions to persevere with their will even at the risk of physical injury. We can all draw the line wherever we want, but people who persevere will always be revered and people who use this as an excuse to cop out of matches for personal reasons ( to deny fed that clean win, which fans like shital green can keep carping about for ages) should and will be condemned.

I just hope he learns this lesson and finishes his matches like rafa did against ferrero. I do acknowledge his not doing his imitations without any consideration for the feelings of his peers is a good step towards being more mature. he can always do it for the djokovic fan club but not on television where there are fans of all players watching. As Sean said, in one of his posts, it is not all that difficult to mimic djokovic.

Von:

I shall heed your career advice no. 2 about being careful about Dr.D’s poetry :) My appreciation of poetry is rather contrived/forced (thanks to my english teachers during my pre-college days!)

I like it that safin is doing well. I hope he can stay through the whole week, but nobody who wants to live should hold their breath for that to happen.

Dr.Death:

Good to know you are a safe distance from that disaster!

Btw, Are you steve darcis? ;)


sensationalsafin Says:

It’s good that Safin played the qualifying. It definitely helped him gain some much needed confidence and just overall more match play. Cilic and Berdych are good wins for most players really, especially the 89th ranked player in the world. So good job Safin, keep racking up the Ws.


jane Says:

Yeah, these are nice wins for Safin – particularly another win over Berdych. I hope he can make a run here. He’ll be facing the winner of Moya / Rochas, likely Moya, so that could be a great match.

Speaking of Djoko, he may have a tough match today against Chela. They’ve played only once- last year. And if Djoko gets through that, he’ll meet Karlovic or Robredo.

I see Wawrinka & Tsonga are both eliminated, so Federer will play Soderling – again. Fed has a pretty negotiable draw here. Rafa, Djoko, Murray, Safin, Tpisy are all on the other side. Fed could face Ferrer and Davydenko in the latter stages.


jane Says:

Kash,

“I agree djokovic has immense talent and has great results but there is no more defense against these stupid retirements of his.”

I hope Djokovic works on his health, fitness, and/or nerves and cuts down on big-moment retirements and trainer calls. After all, it’s *when* he retires and against whom that seems to matter, as there are many other -even similar- retirements (e.g., Rafa, Cincy, 2007, round 1, losing mid 2nd set, with dizziness) that people don’t comment on, and players who’ve retired more times than him (Davydenko, Gasquet).

I believe Djokovic will get better at this too. He’s smart and he learns from his mistakes.

The other thing I hope to see Djoko develop is more consistency, even though he is already great compared to some of the others he rose up with or in his age bracket (Murray, Gasquet, Berdych).


Kash Says:

Karlovic beat Robredo.

Federer is 33-0 against nieminen (8), soderling(5), ferrer (8) and davdenko(8) put together! And he is playing them at a tournament he has won 4 times. Jarko, the commentators say, has never won a set against federer in 8 matches. He has never won more than 8 games in a match against federer and averages about 3games a set.

Federer has put some sick numbers the last 4yrs. He really killed the players on the court. Except for a hand-ful of players (nadal, joker, nalby, murray and canas) he really pounded the other players. No wonder you have this demented no-name trolls celebrating his slump in cyberland.

anyways, jarkko is just bowing to the statistics, will the other 4 follow suit? ferrer is the most likely guy to cash in on this slump in federer’s form


Kash Says:

“He’s smart and he learns from his mistakes.”

I will agree on that, seeing as he is not doing those imitations, which is the right move. We will have our answers soon on the retirements. Hopefully this week in the hamburg semis when rafa should most probably put a thrashing on him. (though each of them have tricky draws to negotiate)

An interesting article on tennis.com by james martin that statistically federer has had more or less the same start to the year as last. Infact he has equaled or bettered each of his performances at the 1st 4 masters. The next 4 masters he has atleast final points to defend in each of them and that will be critical to how long he holds on to the no.1.

Djokovic has had the same start to the year as well. (winning % wise). The difference in the year thus far is that last year federer’s wins came at big tournaments like aus open and dubai, while this year novak did that winning aus open, IW and rome – all big tournaments.

It is like a player who wins the big points. We can view this year to date as 1 and half sets being finished in a best of 5 match. Federer and nadal have 1 and half more sets to prolong this “tennis match”. And federer is the only one so far to have played well up until the end of 5th set in this tennis match. Are nadal and djokovic ready for the long haul? To be answered by the end of this year.

Von:

You should read that article. a-rod has improved his winning % compared to same time last year by 6%. (Nadal btw, dropped by about the same %)


jane Says:

Oh you’re right, he did – third set tie break too. Didn’t see that. So if Djoko can get past Chela he has a tall task. He’s never played Dr. Ivo.

Fed has been amazing through these past few years – no one can question that given the results. Even if you argue that he’s dominated in a time of lesser competition (I don’t like to subscribe to that as it undermines the players, though I do see that Fed’s been around for a transition *between* two generations – one somewhat fading and another rising), his utter dominance of almost the entire field is unparalleled.


jane Says:

Kash,

Thanks for that article; it’s true that the press hype everything up to momentous proportions, but it’s also true that tennis is a game of “inches”. The next two grand slams will either solidify or shift Rafa & Roger’s rankings.

But I don’t care if Djoko moves from 3rd; to me, if he stays there, that’s good enough. Gotta give it time.


Guga76 Says:

Hi Glenn,

Thank you for well-written, intelligent response. I admit that Novak came across in a bad light at the Aussie open. Very defiant at times, as the commentator pointed out. I think it was his inexperienced way of keeping game on mentality. I have had the luxury of seeing him on the practice courts and have had personal interaction with him. He has a truly amazing sense of his role in the tennis world. He is super polite and patient with fans and even puts on a humorous show (albeit not quite as funny as some of the antics I’ve seen from Safin). He grants all requests for pictures, autographs, etc. I believe he is no more arrogrant than Federer is in the press room, it’s just that he doesn’t have the clout to pull it off yet. But I have a feeling he’s watching Fed as an example, trying to translate and balance his confidence with his insecurity in English, only one of four (or something) languages he speaks fluently.

You mentioned some other players as being on court heroes. I agree with you on Nadal and Federer for sure. Blake is great on TV, but in person he barely acknowledges the crowd on the practice courts. I have heard Kohlschreiber use less than desirable German words during match (although he is fun to watch). One player you should encourage your kids to watch and emulate (I have 2 small children myself), the player who is consistently lovely to the fans in my 7 years of watching them practice at a particular masters series event is Juan Carolos Ferrero. That guy understands what its all about from all perspectives. Last year, after he beat Gonzalez (then #5) in a first round match at a masters series event that was not on TV, he turned around after the match and nodded and waved to the crew of american teenagers cheering him on in the front row. For that and many other reasons, he’s as underrated of a tennis hero as they come. Now that I think of it, almost every single top 100 player from Spain is remarkable in their capacity to balance their talent with fan/umpire appreciation.


Dr. Death Says:

Kash – I wish I were Darcis.

For those who think the Dr. has been dipping into his own black bag a bit much, check this out:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/tennis/article3876237.ece


Dr. Death Says:

Kash my original post was not taken. If this ends up as a repeat, sorry.

I wish I were Darcis.

Check out the London Times, sports section for a good article on him. Also notice how they are starting to urinate on Murray.


Von Says:

ATTENCION:

Justine Henin has announced her retirement from the WTA tour!!


Von Says:

Kash:

“Von: You should read that article. a-rod has improved his winning % compared to same time last year by 6%. (Nadal btw, dropped by about the same %).”

Thanks for this valuable information about A-Rod. Please be kind to him — you know that he’s my heart throb. I think despite your protests in the past about him — you like him.

I had asked you on the previous thread — do I call you Dr. Kash? If so, my congratulations. If not, remember to stay away from Dr. Death until graduation day — his poetry is infectious and he’s incorrigible!! :)

“While you can say players should back out of any physical activities at the 1st sign of any kind of symptom ( a rash maybe?), a huge reason why sports are popular because of the tendency of its greatest champions to persevere with their will even at the risk of physical injury.”

I’m being facetious here, but one needs both hands to manipulate a back scratcher when one has a rash. Additionally, a rash escalates to a whole body itching problem and several hands and back scratchers need to be employed. Are there some pairs of extra hands waiting to help out when this malady raises its ugly head? Dr. Death perhaps you have a panacea? NAH!!!! The cure is worse than the disease. :) In view of the foregoing, it’s difficult to continue playing under such circumstances. :) A little kindness to the rash, perhaps. :) :)


cp Says:

I think if Novak can get past Ivo, I can see Novak “losing” to Janko in order to save energy. He will let Tipsy advance and deal with
Nadal.


Maja Says:

Wow – Novak “owned” a court today – he finished match with Chela in 65 minutes. It was like he played solo with assistent


jane Says:

Novak figured out Dr. Ivo today; he’s a tough one to break! This is looking ahead, but I wonder if Karlovic will go deep on the grass? I know many will disagree, but Bill Mountford called Novak the “best tennis player in the world” yesterday. Even if you disagree he talks about other stuff in the column: Rafa’s streak, Roddick’s run in Rome, Henin…

I think Rafa will win today, but I hope it’s not a washout, that he and Murray have a good battle; thus far, both matches between them have been excellent and fun to watch.

Both Ferrer and Monaco are out. So it should be a Davydenko vs. Fed semi unless some surprises happen today or tomorrow.


Shital Green Says:

Today I had some doubt whether Djoko would be able to handle Ivo’s big serves. Except the 12 aces, he did it. Djoko only allowed 43% to Ivo’s 2nd serve, i.e. his 2nd Return Points Won amounted to 57%. In Total Points Won, Djoko was ahead by 12%. He was behind only in two categories by 1%: 1st Serve Points Won and 1st Return Points Won. Most importantly, he showed some unflinching fortitude in the 1st Set tie break. It looked like to me Djoko’s will to beat Ivo today came more from his recognition of the opponent’s potential in the future and appreciation of the latter’s worthiness than from a desire to retain his ranking points, which may have played only subordinate role in today’s victory.

Looking into the next round, Montanes, who has big forehand, though ranks 78th, is a true clay courter and can take any top ten player on his best day. Although lost to Ivo in Houston last year, Montanes beat him in Barcelona recently. This indicates he could prove fatal to Djoko. Since Djoko and Montanes have never played before, everything remains uncertain, which is the beauty.


jane Says:

Hi Shital Green,

Yes, it’s nice to see that uncertainty continue this season.

Kiefer just took the first set from Davy…

AND, who would’ve thought Blake & Fish could pull out that first set today? Unbelievable! They’ve also just broken back in the second set. I hope they win….


jane Says:

Congrats to Blake & Fish! Two American doubles teams in the semis.


Shital Green Says:

Hi Jane,
Yeah, Davydenko’s exit was another upset, after Andreev, Monaco, and Ferrer. Kiefer’s serve (mostly Middle T corner) pretty much paralyzed Davy. And a lot of Davydenko’s forehand returns went into the net. Keifer was focussed and determined to win before the home crowd, whose support helped him a lot.
Next, Murray looked miserable today. At the beginning, he was almost toe to toe with Nadal, hanging on from the baseline, but he knew he would not be able to beat Nadal from there, so he tried to play drop shots. It backfired for two closely associated reasons: First, Nadal was too quick to get the ball from any distance; second, Murray was no good at all at the net. Seeing Murray’s poor performance at the net, Nadal started dropping the ball close to the net. There were a couple of occasions Murray produced unreturnable serves. That was not enough. Over all result, he took real bad thrashing from Nadal. It was humiliating. I did not enjoy the one-sided match. Yesterday’s Starace-Nadal match was a lot better. There were moments Nadal had to worry against Starace. Nadal had to work for every point, and he never got a chance to breath until the end. That was not the case today. Today, he was sailing,and with that confidence, he was producing some of the incredible shots.


jane Says:

Yes – how true Shital. Again it might’ve been a strategy thing with Murray (i.e., the drop shot), although you note his poor execution at the net as well. It’ll be interesting to see how he does at Wimbledon. Ostensibly, he should do better on the grass.

What else would be interesting? I know this is jumping ahead, but to see Federer and Kiefer play in the semis here. How would the crowd react for one thing? They’ve always been firmly behind Federer, but Kiefer is their boy. For another, Kiefer and Fed have played only once on clay, a while ago, and if Kiefer is coming in with momentum & crowd support, does he have a shot at the upset?

I suppose we could also look ahead at a Novak vs. Nadal semi, but as you point out, they, too, have another round, and Moya and Montanes are clay guys.


Von Says:

Ferrer has lost his zeal for competing. He is badly mistiming the ball and is becoming extremely frustrated. He was just losing his perspective today in his match v. Verdasco. I’ve never seen Ferrer behave like he’s totally going to lose it as was evidenced in his match today. That intensity coupled with running down every ball will do it. A shame.

Karlovic has also deteriorated in his performance during the past 3-4 months of this year. He’s an easy win now — he’ll hold serve, get broken in the tiebreak, and then lose the next set, only winning a couple of games. A terrible pattern which I’m sure is now locker room knowledge.

Kiefer has had a resurgence — even though I don’t care much for Kiefer, he deserves a good comeback after being forced off the tour due to injuries. He’s also more relaxed and pleasant. Probably due to some introspection while off tour.

The Masters Series presently seem very lack luster and boring as compared to former years’ performances — not much to rave about.


Agassifan Says:

I predict order will be restored in hamburg. Fed will win today and the semis. Nadal will win a touch match today. Djoke will win easily today. Nadal will beat Djoke in a tough match tomorrow. Two tough matches in row for nadal – and he will lose to a fresher Fed in the final in 3 sets, just like it happened last year (Hewitt had softened nadal before he met Fed in the final).

I really would like to see a djoke nadal 5 set semi at the French.


jane Says:

“The Masters Series presently seem very lack luster and boring as compared to former years’ performances — not much to rave about.”

You must be happy for Blake / Fish though! That was some rally yesterday to come back and win that first set. And two American double teams in the semis on clay is pretty fab. Just trying to make the glass half full for you ;-)


Von Says:

jane:

“Just trying to make the glass half full for you.”

Thank you for the kind thoughts. :) I’m just talking about the level of performance from most of the players and some of the boring matches. Where’s the competition? I’m happy for Blake/Fish and the Bryans, unfortunately, they might have to end up playing each other and one will be the loser. I dislike it when that happens, but that’s tennis. I see your guy’s doing fine, congrats on his win and progressing to the SFs. :)


jane Says:

Von,

Well the Bryans prevailed, but not easily; maybe James and Mardy should continue playing doubles; to take the Bryans to a third set and lose only 10/7 is something.

I know what you mean about some of the matches; they haven’t been that exciting. Djok vs. Karlovic was a good one. Dr. Ivo is a tough customer; I suspect he’ll be even tougher on the grass, but players need to make him bend a lot – LOL.

Maybe when your guy’s back is all better the luster will return.

I was sorry to see Safin fall to Moya; I thought when he came back to win the second set he might duke it out, but he fizzled. He’s another guy who could do good at Wimbledon.

One surprise if Kiefer – as you noted – it’d be interesting to see him do even better and get to the semis, but I don’t know if he cab get by Seppi.


jane Says:

“If” should be “is” and “cab” should be “can” – guess I need some coffee!


jane Says:

Agassifan,

“Two tough matches in row for nadal – and he will lose to a fresher Fed in the final in 3 sets, just like it happened last year (Hewitt had softened nadal before he met Fed in the final).”

You’re probably right.

So far Seppi has come out stronger against Kiefer, going up 3 love; he has played Federer only once before, on clay last year. Fed won, after edging out two tiebreaks.

The Nadal vs. Djokovic match should be good, but Rafa will likely win; Djoko has never beaten him on clay – course there is a first time for everything…

Rafa’s draw here was much tougher than Roger’s imo.


Von Says:

Jane:

“Rafa’s draw here was much tougher than Roger’s imo.”

No question about it, Nadal had a tough draw and Moya could make him work very hard considering he knows Rafa’s game. Rafa’s foot is still suspect. He did not seem to move very well in his match againty Starace. I hope Nadal could get his feet all healed and ready for the FO. It’s been tough for him.


jane Says:

Von,

I know what you mean; I feel for Rafa because not only is the pressure squarely on him during the clay season (i.e., to defend all of his titles and points) but this year’s schedule hasn’t helped.

However, while I can understand the motivation (i.e., Davis Cup and Olympics practice), I agree with an earlier point you made that he maybe shouldn’t have played doubles at MC. Especially given the condensed schedule and added pressure.

I really don’t think he’ll lose to Moya or Djoko here, but if he does, one benefit is that it would give him a little extra time to get ready for the French. That’s where the big points are!


Shital Green Says:

Jane,
Ref: “I really don’t think he’ll lose to Moya or Djoko here, but if he does, one benefit is that it would give him a little extra time to get ready for the French.”

There is a lot in stake here that Nadal will be more motivated to win. If he loses either to Moya or to Djoko, he will lose his No. 2 position. As a consequence, he could be on the Fed’s side of the draw at RG, facing him in the semi, which he may not prefer. On the other hand, Djoko’s win in the semi will write a new chapter in history as he will be snapping Nadal’s 147-week hold of the No.2, the longest stretch ever. Even though Djoko will put everything into it, Nadal is the favorite to win. Were it any other surface, I would put my bet on Djoko, but it’s clay, and the clay King is too strong and too quick to let go the historically held position. I think it is Nadal’s movement, which counts most on clay in getting to the ball in time, that will determine the outcome at the end. Regardless of the outcome, anticipation makes it all worthy of watching tomorrow’s semi. (www.channelsurfing.net has several links, but I prefer the Stars Sports-2, the one that has “IE only” in parenthesis, which opens only with Internet Explorer. You will have to download a plugin for that).

About Fed’s semi tomorrow, it looks pretty much certain that his wish of playing against Kiefer will be fulfilled. Today after the match, this is what Fed had to say about Nadal and his own semi-final preference:

Federer: Logically, this might be more important for Rafael than for me. But both have to win their match first. It looks like Novak is winning [earlier, against Montanes], and Rafa first has to win against Moya. But, sure, it looks as if it will happen. It’s interesting for the tennis, for sure. It’s a good story. And Rafa is surely the favourite because of all his successes on clay. He always has an incredible run on clay. So he is definitely the favourite against all, also against Djokovic.

I really don’t think he’ll lose to Moya or Djoko here, but if he does, one benefit is that it would give him a little extra time to get ready for the French.

Q: It’s possible that you will play the semis against Nicolas Kiefer. What do you think about that?

FEDERER: Good, he played a great tournament up to now, no matter if he wins today or not. If he wins today it will be a even better tournament for him. I played a couple of times against him, lost a few times, but also won. So I know where his strength is. He is a very good player with a lot of talent. Unfortunately he was injured a bit. So I’m happy for him to have found his old form again. Once I had an important match against him in the semis of the Australian Open, so I know him quite well.

Q: Until now you always were the favorite of the audience. How will it be for you if you play the local hero?

FEDERER: I think the audience will be behind him, right? But I hope it will be fair. But I don’t have a problem, I play the local hero across the world, it wouldn’t be the first time, and it can’t get worse than playing Agassi at the US Open. So I’m confident.

Q: Would you prefer to play against Seppi or Kiefer?

FEDERER: Rather against Kiefer.


Shital Green Says:

Correction: I repeated in the middle what jane said as if it came from Fed, though it blends well in there.


Shital Green Says:

Finally, Seppi denies Fed his wish to play Kiefer. Will this produce something different tomorrow? It will be interesting to watch!


jane Says:

Hi Shital Green,

Fed won the only time he played Seppi – last year – but it took two tiebreakers to do it, so maybe Seppi can put up at least a fight for the reigning Hamburg champ.

I agree with you that Rafa has a lot at stake and so will fight very hard to get through to the finals. He shouldn’t have a problem beating Moya; the Djoko match might be tighter. But I have to pick Nadal, because as you say, he is the King of Clay. The only drawback for Rafa would be if his blisters resurface or something.


Shital Green Says:

One match, i.e. merely 2 or 3 sets, will decide No.2 and No.3 in World ranking under 2-3 hrs. How exciting that is ! This is a rare moment that I would not miss to watch, even though it is early at 6:00 am (CT). I just hope it goes into the 3rd set tie-break, and will get a chance to enjoy the feel of each point as a potential decider.

Sean’s title will remain one of the best ever !


jane Says:

This is a fantastic match between Rafa and Novak so far – a treat for us fans, who haven’t seen a lot of great, and tightly contested matches thus far.

Rafa is showing once again why he’s been unbeatable in 5 sets on clay; he’s truly indefatigable. And Novak is showing a lot of heart here too, trying to stay with Rafa on his best surface and producing some excellent tennis in the process.

These two are GREAT; may the best guy win the third set!!!


Shital Green Says:

This is an insane match.
Djoko had a lot of opportunities to win, but could not.
Up to 3-0 in the 1st set, he was marching. Nadal had 15-40 in the 4th game. Djoko had a chance to make it 4-0, but he pushed a driving forehand wide after moving to the center of the court. This was the point Nadal suddenly woke up, and Djoko started missing. In the 1st set alone, they traded 5 break points. Djoko saved 2 out of 5 break points, and Nadal saved 4 out of 6. When he had 5-6 and was serving, Djoko had a chance to push it to the tie break, but he threw one in the net, and another wide.
Finally, in the 2nd set, he gathered his composure and took the set without much difficulty.
I am glad it has gone into the 3rd set.
Let’s see what happens from here on. Clay court is all about power game plus movement unless you are very good at the net. Nadal seems to be in perfect form and has still the edge in those crucial areas. Back to the game.


Shital Green Says:

Hi Jane,
Yes, it is. This is “fantastic match.”
And Nadal breaks Djoko in the opening game. The wind is blowing in Nadal’s direction.


jane Says:

Hi Shital Green,

One comment I’d add about this match – Novak is not serving as well as he could; he’s at only 65% first serves. For instance in this first game; almost every time he’s hit a first serve he’s won the point, but Rafa is all over his second serves and has now broken to to take the lead in the 3rd.

Rafa definitely has the edge, as you say; I think he’ll keep his number 2 today, but it’s great that Novak has given him a fight so far and pushed this to a 3rd set. It shows, perhaps, that Rafa is beatable on clay in a 3 set format, but also how incredibly difficult – so far impossible! – it is to beat him in 5 sets on clay.


Daniel Says:

The match is really great, but I hope one of them decides to win fast, because they seem to go up than 3 hours, so tomorrow, if Fed wins, I hope exhaustion won’t be an excuse!

Djoko surprised me playing almost perfect in the beggining, I think Nadal won 4 or 5 out of 20 first points. But he started to miss a lot and as we know, Nadal won’t drop his leval of play, it is a mathematics certain by now!

Let’s see who wants it more!


jane Says:

Rafa did a great job of consolidating his break in that second game of the 3rd. Rafa’s having a better serving day, with 78% first serves and 2 aces, to Novak’s 64% first serves and 0 aces. This is definitely not a great serving day for Djoko.


Shital Green Says:

In that 1st game of the 3rd set, Djoko messed it up while trying to get to the net.
And Djoko had every opportunity to break back right away in the 2nd game. It was 15-40. He missed 2 chances, but again Nadal just went about his business and clawed back the game. Frustrated, Djoko slammed his racket once more to the ground.


jane Says:

Shital,

“but again Nadal just went about his business and clawed back the game.”

This is what Rafa is SO good at doing; he’s so focused and with him every point counts. He’s amazing that way.


Shital Green Says:

Yes, you are right about the serve. He has had no ace so far. However, Djoko is playing great. His accuracy down the line and in the corners is still incomparable, but the court in Hamburg is a lot slower than Rome and Paris. That gives Rafa to get to the ball no matter where you hit it.
Here, again in the 4th game, Djoko missed his chance to break and level the game at 2-2. He takes 5th game at 40-0, a rare moment for either player.


Shital Green Says:

Replay: At 30-40 in the 4th game, Djoko’s forehand hit the net chord. It could have easily bounced in for a winner but instead it dropped out.

Fast forward: Nadal wins the 6th game in the same style, 40-0. That lob from Nadal was the most beautiful moment of today.
Now, in the 7th game, Nadal has triple break point. I declare the match is over. Nadal is jut 1 game away from wrapping it up.
Djoko did give some good fight and prepared himself a bit more for what to expect from Rafa at RG. I just have to be satisfied with that.
One blogger at another site says: “The greatest match I think I ever saw was Michael Chang vs Ivan Lendl at Roland Garros in 1989 – this [Nadal vs. Djoko] is up there with it.


Shital Green Says:

After 5 match points, if I counted it right, Nadal finally does it.
Congratulations to Nadal and good luck for him against Fed tomorrow !


jane Says:

Congrats to Rafa! Kudos also to Novak for putting up a fantastic fight, right until the very last ball was struck. What an amazing final game! Novak made Rafa earn that match point hey?

These two excellent competitors deserve all the accolades today.


jane Says:

And yes – good luck to Rafa against Fed tomorrow; Roger will have his hand full since he hasn’t faced a seeded player yet.


Daniel Says:

Congrats to Nadal. Let’s hope tomorrow match can match this one!:)


Nadal Turns Away Djokovic in Hamburg, Faces Federer in Final Says:

[...] I’ve said before Djokovic, in my mind, is the guy with the best chance of derailing Nadal on the clay at Roland Garros where [...]

Top story: A Wrist Injury Has Forced Rafael Nadal To Withdraw From Title Defenses In Canada And Cincinnati
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1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Rafael Nadal2 Na Li
3 Roger Federer3 Simona Halep
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
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6 David Ferrer6 Maria Sharapova
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