Can Djokovic or Federer Chase Down Nadal at the French Open?
by Sean Randall | May 25th, 2008, 8:01 am
  • 140 Comments

Rafael Nadal has never, ever lost a best-of-five set match on clay. Never. The Spaniard has a perfect 34-0 mark in his career in best of five matches on the dirt, but that fact is not the only reason I’m making him my pick to win a fourth straight French Open. There are many others.

Nadal has won a ridiculous 108 of his last 110 clay matches, and one could easily dismiss his two losses (Federer in ’07 Hamburg – tired; Ferrero in ’08 Rime – blisters) as flukes.

So really no one is even close to guy on this surface.

“But what about Roger Federer,” you say. “He was close.”

True, Federer’s been close, real close to beating him and arguably he should have at the very least secured more than a set in his two losses to Rafa this year. In both Monte Carlo and in Hamburg Fed found himself ahead in the first two sets, winning only the second in Hamburg. But in my mind close isn’t good enough, especially not in Rafa’s house at Roland Garros where the lefty has never lost a match.

“But Novak played him real tough at Hamburg,” you say.

True, Novak threw everything at the guy at Hamburg and as I’ve stated before I think the Serb is the lone guy who could derail Rafa on clay when Rafa’s at his on the clay, but in a best of five format I don’t think Novak can pull out a grinding, grueling four or five-set win.

So for me it’s really hard to bet on someone, anyone taking three sets from a healthy, 100% Rafael Nadal in any single match.

Sure injuries can happen and we always point to Rafa’s frailty, but I’ll venture to say he’ll be just fine this fornight. And I do think we make to much of his physical nature. Remember he’s just 21. Not 31.

As for the rest…

As I wrote earlier Federer has been really blessed with another very Federer-friendly draw, and I can’t see anyway he loses more than two sets en route to the semifinals. Juan Monaco might be able to push him, Sam Querrey could steal a tiebreak, and Igor Andreev could get hot for a short while, but just not hot enough to thwart Roger in his section.

In the second quarter, it’s a either Nikolay Davydenko or David Ferrer. I’ll lean slightly to Davydenko who has the easier path of the two. Ferrer will likely get Tommy Robredo who can rise-up in certain situations and David has surprisingly lost three of his last four tournament matches, so I like the steady Russian who tends to beat the people he should, and lose to those above. That’s good consistency if nothing else.

Novak Djokovic is the odds-on favorite to emerge from the third quarter. His toughest test may very well come in the first round against the lefty Denis Gremelmayr, who took a set off Federer in Estoril. Novak could then run into Guillermo Canas and then maybe Paul-Henri Mathieu or Carlos Moya. Mathieu could trouble Novak if he’s on but the Serb should get through to the quarterfinals against perhaps Janko Tipsarevic, my pick in a very tough little section to call with James Blake, Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin Del Potro and even Michael Llodra lurking. But I’ll go with the Serb on a whim to best Blake.

As has been the norm in the last dozen or so Slams Nadal finds himself again in the last quarter. And on paper it’s the toughest section of the draw. But just not tough enough for Nadal who opens with 20-year-old qualifier Thomaz Bellucci, who’s no slouch as a fairly accomplished minor league from Brazil. Nadal will then likely face Jarkko Nieminen, who once had his foot on the Spaniard’s throat a few years back in Barcelona I think it was, then Fernando Verdasco or Mikhail Youhzny before the big one against David Nalbandian. The Argentine Nalbandian always plays his best in the Slams and he matches up very well with Rafa on any surface, but as I said before taking three sets from Rafa on clay is just too tall a task, even for David. So Rafa gets through.

In the semifinals, I’ll stick with Rafa over Novak and Federer in a tough one to beat Dayvdenko. And then in the finals I like Rafa to again turn away Federer and win his fourth straight Roland Garros. Sound familiar?

As for the women, with Justine Henin retired it really is a wide open French Open. The Serbs Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic figure to run wild without Justine around, Maira Sharapova as well, but I’ll pick Serena Williams to restore her reign at the top and beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in final.


Also Check Out:
Roger Federer: Madrid’s Blue Clay Feels Different Than Regular Clay; Reclaiming No. 1 Would Be A Dream
Novak Djokovic: Wawrinka is a Big Challenge [Video]
James Blake, Donald Young Among US Open Main Draw Wildcards
McEnroe: Djokovic Win Streak “Even More Impressive Than Mine”
Henin, Clijsters Show Benefits of Second Chances

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140 Comments for Can Djokovic or Federer Chase Down Nadal at the French Open?

ChrisM Says:

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a men’s draw this predictable. Most of the analysis I’ve seen (including my own) breaks it down exactly the same way. Real life doesn’t always follow the script, and for sheer entertainment’s sake we can always hope for a shake-up. Maybe Federer vs Nadal doesn’t give us the best final after all this time?


jane Says:

I don’t know how to read Djoko’s first round win; I mean he got stronger as the match wore on, which is the opposite of what most people say about him. The best set was that last, which he should’ve won 6:1. And we know his competition, while ranked lower, was threatening as Roger had that tough match with him. But does this mean he’s not looking good, or that he is because he was able to fight through? Guess only time will tell. But the way you write it up Sean, he does seem to have a tough quarter – I hope he can make it to the semis again, but I don’t know.

I agree Rafa and Fed will get through their quarters – and probably Nalby unless, as others have noted, Almagro finally breaks through at a bigger event.


bearbee_malaysia Says:

hmmm….i watch ESPn,but theres no game show..why is it???someone…..


jane Says:

Andy Murray is the king of topsy turvy matches. Here he slugging it out in the 5th set when I thought he’d sail through. Sigh.

Maybe he’s a periodic walk-about like Nalbandian? Who wasn’t walking about today, however.


Shital Green Says:

Let me start with Guga’s last match, follow up by Jane’s comment on Djoko, and touch on a few others.

First off, Guga deserves our deep homage and lasting tribute for his contribution to tennis. The 3 times Roland Garros champion deserves a grand farewell. He played his last match with Mathieu this morning. We will remember his greatness forever.

About Djoko’s 1st set loss, Jane, I was a bit worried at the beggining, but not so much after how he handled the lefty in the 2nd set. And, as you mentioned, the 4th set could have been 6-1 or even 6-0, but the gradual progress that you noticed asserted his worth to be a contender for the semi at least. We may want to look at the pattern. Whenever he has passed the 1st round this year, he has made it to semi or better. And today’s result is good enough for me to stay rest assured that he will get there again.

Nalby had the best performance so far of all the players, in his win over fellow Argentine Berlocq, nearly matched by Almagro’s play over Serbian Pashanski. Both looked pretty formidable today, winning without much sweating.

Blake made it in straight sets despite a lot of struggles in the 3rd set: A good news for us Americans. Dancevic gave a good fight, winning a set and pushing 2 other sets to tie break, but was a bit short in his effort. I am glad that Del Potro had an easy ride to the next round, one of my favorites.

Murray started strongly but awfully struggled in the 2nd and 3rd sets, but in the last 2 sets, he showed some of his best tennis and moves to the 2nd round. Moya, already in the 5th set, is having hard time to warp up the match. It looks he might not go very far.

Among the newbies, Gulbis is playing amazingly, something to watch in the next few rounds. I hope my boy Acasuso survives a few rounds to show some of his best.

Finally, good luck for Isner against Chela today.


jane Says:

Hi Shital Green,

I hope you’re right about Novak; Gremelmeyre has been to the semis of 2 (?) clay tournaments this year, I think, losing only to Rafa and Roger, so I knew it’d be a tough opener.

You say “Nalby had the best performance so far of all the players, in his win over fellow Argentine Berlocq, nearly matched by Almagro’s play over Serbian Pashanski. Both looked pretty formidable today, winning without much sweating.”

And these two are both in Rafa’s section. Rafa can beat Almagro, but Nalbandian is definitely the “unknown” entity who could, in reality, win this whole tournament. IF.


Shital Green Says:

Yes, Jane, that was a heck of an opener for Djoko. Gremelmayr’s play against Djoko today was similar to the one he had against Fed at the Estoril semi. That guy almost won that match, taking first set easily and pushing 2nd set to 5-7.

But today, I thought Djoko would get back to level the match 5-5 in the 1st set. When Gremelmayr was serving at 5-4, Djoko had 0-30 but he plundered his chances to let the guy have 3 straight points, missing one forehand and another at the net. Then, it went to deuce. I still had hope, but Gremelmayr served big both times, and as Djoko’s returns were weak, he took the 1st set.

The 3rd set was the scariest one, in which Djoko was 1-5 down. His come back was the Nadal moment. Till the end, Gremelmayr did not flinch, at least in appearance: He kept his cool in his face, wearing gentle smile through out. But, on the other side, Djoko felt uneasy and a bit baffled by his opponent’s determined, calm look. It must have been sigh of relief when Djoko took early lead in the 4th set to eventually close the match.
From one angle, he may not want to face another match like this one soon. But from another angle, if he gets to play a couple of grinding 5 setters, he could be physically prepared better for the semi. Definitely, he would want to win quarter final like Nalby did today to save energy for semi, at least to have a respectable match against the King of clay.


Shital Green Says:

Error: “in which Djoko was 1-5 down”
Correction: “in which Gremelmayr was 1-5 down”
And in the next sentence, “His” refer to Gremelmayr.


jane Says:

Yeah, I am not sure, as I said, what I think. Djoko claims he wasn’t happy with the match, in that he made a lot of UEs and lost focus. But he acknowledged Gremelmayr’s fantastic results on clay this year as well; the people he took out at Barcelona, including Almagro, to get to the semis reveal his caliber. Anyhow, it’s good that Djoko is through that one and maybe it’s even good he’s had a tough one. He had a marathon with Stepanek in the first (?) round at the USO and look how deep he went, so we can still hope he’ll get to the semis; if he gets farther than that it’ll will take, perhaps, a small or large miracle. :-)


craig Says:

Well this week Novak has been busy at the Eurovision event, his birthday parties, and I think he was at Nenad Zimonjic’s wedding. He did just enought to win.


Voicemale1 Says:

That Djokovic lost a set to Gremelmayr is all that shocking. The disturbing thing about Djokovic was his serve unraveling. Lost his first two service games – that was surprising. But losing your serve TWICE trying to close out the 3rd Set? That’s most definitely not a good sign at this early stage of the tournament. I’m wondering if he’s starting to feel that weight of expectation a lot more heavily now, since he’s had a successful year to this point. If so, he’d better suck it up quick – the last thing you want potential opponents to see is your own awareness of the pressure you’re feeling to live up to a proscribed standard. And he may wanna re-think approaching the net. He’s not a naturally gifted net player, so he provides a target rich environment for any adept passing shots. And the deeper you go into the draw, you’ll find more and more of those adept passing shots.

All the principal players get a tough one in a Major, and maybe this one was his. That said, the bottom line is that Djokovic didn’t play well, and Gremelmayr got a little too impetuous in the 4th Set, or we might have had to watch a 5th Set. Djokovic better get the ship righted fast. If not, he could be gone before he ever gets to the Semis.


andrea Says:

djokovic tries to let everyone think that nadal and federer are the nervous ones, with with his big mouth, he’s the one that has everything to prove. too bad he wasn’t gone today….


Agassifan Says:

Jane, coming back to the seedings issue:

“jane Says:
Agassifan – since 1 would still be on the opposite half of 2 he’d still be protected from him”

The point of seedings is not just to protect them from each other. In that case, they would have just had 32 seeds, with NO ordering amongst them – they would still be protected from each other.

The points of seedings is also to have a heirarchy. So 1 should have some advantage that 2 doesn’t. WIth that in mind, 1 should face 4, and THAT is the small advantage 1 deserves.

Choosing where some of the seeds fall reduces this heirarchical effect.

Also, I strongly believe Nadal should be the top seed at the FO – it is ridiculous to have anyone else as the top seed.

It goes back to the same old wimpish “politically correct” reasoning – they don’t want to do something that may create a problem, even though it may be just.

THis also applies to prize money – we all agree that it should be equal pay for equal work. I am all for women players getting equal prize money, AND playing best of 5 set matches in the grand slams to earn it, just like the men. Heck, I would love to watch a 5 set Ivanovic-Vaidisova match!


Agassifan Says:

just to add – most things that are politically correct are actually incorrect in reality.


jane Says:

“Also, I strongly believe Nadal should be the top seed at the FO – it is ridiculous to have anyone else as the top seed.”

Thanks for your reply Agassifan; I agree with your above point, and then in that case, I guess Nadal would have Djoko if we went by my equal distribution method, so no different. LOL.

The politically correct thing is touchy but certainly *some* politically correct stuff is bunk.


Dr. Death Says:

I think the women ought to get equal pay if they play only one set through the quarter finala. To limit the boredom is worth the money. One may have a chance of seeing some exciting play in the semi or the finals – maybe.


Daniel Says:

I just realize that if Djoko beat Nadal and go to the finals, it will be his third Slam final in a row. Now that would be something?!


chris Says:

Well, if Joker can beat Federer’s 10 straight grandslam finals then i’ll be impressed.


Von Says:

Dr. Death:

You’ve said it — but seriously, that’s another bone of contention for me. Why is it that the women feel they are entitled to equal pay for 2 sets in a GS? Extremely unfair to the guys.

__________________
Shital Green:

“Blake made it in straight sets despite a lot of struggles in the 3rd set: A good news for us Americans.”

I’m hopeful for Blake to make through to the QFs; poor Sam Querrey, tomorrow could probably be the beginning and end of his ’08 FO run. Very depressing for the young guy.


Agassifan Says:

Its unlikely that anyone in our lifetime will beat the 10 slam finals in a row record!!

Jane,

Nadal should be 1, fed 2, djoke 3, and fed should play djoke in the semi. its unfair to nadal – he should have the advantage over fed, just like fed should have the advantage over him at wimbledon.

I do agree, there is less diversity in playing styles on the women’s side. Justine was an exception, its sad she has gone. All most of them do it two handed backhands and top spin forehands, poor serves, running like crazy side to side, trying to hit as hard as possible, not that much touch.

On the mens side, players are very different from each other, so its much more fun to watch.

still, I would pay top dollar to watch a 5 set match between ivanovic and vaidisova!!


jane Says:

“its unfair to nadal – he should have the advantage over fed, just like fed should have the advantage over him at wimbledon.”

Yep. This is what I said on the previous thread, thinking along the lines of Shital’s post about surface results.


Agassifan Says:

Nalbandian played well yesterday. A nalbandian nadal 5-setter in the QF would be fantastic!

Though what I would really love to see is a Fed-nadal Rome type 5 setter in the final. WIth no tie break in the 5th set, it would be fantastic if they play out to 20-18 or something, and then Fed win in 6.5 hours!!

Now lets get back to reality. Reality is – Fed has a tough match against Sam Querrey – the guy serves like crazy, and is no slouch on clay, can really rip his shots from the baseline. This is not a pushover first round match like Nadal has. After that, Fed does have an easier draw.

Lets see what Higueras finally brings to Fed’s game. Its been over six weeks since they hooked up, so it has got to make some slight difference, at least in tactics and shot selection, so I don’t agree with Nadal when he says nothing can be done in 3 weeks (then all those training camps are a waste, right??). Especially on the mental and strategy side – it can make a big difference. And Fed has had plenty of time to test out some new things (like more drop shots, more angled short backhand slices), since he has played 18 clay matches already since hooking up with Higueras.

And the results are obvious. Tactically, he has improved against Nadal. Almost beat him twice. Of course, mentally, he choked both times, so we’ll see how that plays out.


Ryan Says:

I think djokovic has a better chance of chasing down nadal more than federer? Infact djokovic has more power on his shots than federer and that gets to nadal many times.Federer after losing so many matches wont really be able to beat him.If we analyse after he lost that match in rome where he lead nadal by 5-2 in the fifth he’s never really been able to challenge him when nadal is on.Matches like that stay with you for a long time.Even in hamburg what happened in monte carlo haunted federer and he lost in hamburg too.Now in the french open the hamburg comeback from nadal (5-1 lead) will haunt him and he’ll lose his lead there also.Anyway reality is always far from hypothesis so we’ll see what happens.


Agassifan Says:

One thing which is ignored in most discussions is:

Federer does not need to win the French Open to be the GOAT (I am not saying he already is, he is almost there though).

Borg could never win on hard courts – 4 US finals.

Laver never had to play a slam on hard courts. 3 of the 4 were on grass. Plus the level of competition before the Open era was not that high, since many of the top players (like Laver himself), became professionals. So his track record is not without question marks (though for no fault of his!).

Lendl, one of the greatest, could never win wimbledon, though he was in 2 finals and many semis. Just like Borg couldn’t win the US open.

Agassi won all 4, and multiple finals in all four – but was never that dominant, so he can’t be GOAT.

Sampras was MISERABLE on clay – just one semi in 13 tries. In fact, in terms of all round play, of the list of players above, the biggest weakness is with Sampras. So in this list, if there is one person who can NEVER be GOAT, its Sampras – you cannot be so miserable on one surface and be called GOAT.

Fed so far has 2 finals and 1 semi at the French. He is downright superlative in the other 3 slams. SO he is right now in the same boat as Borg (or Lendl), I would say. Again, Laver is not comparable.

There hasn’t been ANY perfect player so far, ever. So is perfection the yardstick for GOAT? GOAT just means the best of all time, SO FAR. I guess you could make a case for any of the players above for the GOAT status, with the case for Sampras and Agassi being a bit weaker than the others.

Fed should continue to persevere. Heck if he has 5 french finals, even if he doesn’t win it, he is GOAT. Especially if you consider ALL his other monumental records already so far, some of which will surely grow in the next 2-3 years.

My feeling is he will win it this year and seal the GOAT argument forever.


craig Says:

Andrea: Djok…with with his big mouth

Big mouth indeed.

“I know I can beat him. I’m the one playing aggressive. I’m the one trying hard. I’m the one taking the risks in those matches, so I think I have positive chances of winning here,” said Federer regarding Rafa


xargon Says:

Tennis Channel Djok/Gremlmayr 4th set chat.

McEnroe:Novak has so many weapons, has improved so much, it’s scaring fed and nadal.

Robinson: Do you ever get the feeling around the locker room that Fed thinks Novak’s confidence or some would say cockiness is an irritant to Federer?

McEnroe: Yeah, that and his playing. But I bet Fed respects him. Any guy who can talk and back it up you have to respect.


Agassifan Says:

Which Mcenroe are you quoting?

Patrick can’t tell his head from his ass.

John I would take more seriously.


Ra Says:

Hello all,

I’m new here but have been lurking around long enough that I felt I now is as good a time as any to start chiming in…

Agassifan,

I’m pretty sure it was John that said that, but not positive. But although John knows his head from his ass, I’m not convinced he always chooses the right one in any given situation.


Ra Says:

Yes, it was John. I just heard it again…


Ra Says:

And what is written above is paraphrased and not exactly accurate, but it is pretty close.

P.S. Sorry about the rapid-fire afterthought posting. This is all new to me.


jane Says:

Ra-ra-ra:

Funny comment about Johnny Mac, and welcome. It’s a good quote; because as much as people say Roger and Novak have all this strife between them, and there is some no doubt, they also have to appreciate each others’ talents. Djoko talks for his own sake, imo, and sometimes it may even backfire & put more pressure on himself. He’s toned it down a fair bit too.


grendel Says:

“This time last year I would have said Federer would beat Sampras’s record. Now I’m not so sure,” said Djokovic. “His aura has gone. He’s not as dominant as he was, and since I beat him in Australia he’s looked frustrated. Players are beginning to challenge him now, especially myself and Rafa. He’s got 12 Grand Slams to his name and maybe he will beat Sampras, but now I’m here it will be tough for him.”

This is a man with an instinct for drama. First, he paints the picture – the occupant of the throne strolling to the record. Then he injects the sense of doubt, incidentally introducing himself as a major player. He lets us know there is another pretender to the throne, but doesn’t make too much of that. And finally, he reminds us that despite the current champion’s formidable record, he himself, the tale teller, stands in the way, ready to deliver the coup de grace.

Delight, rage, and perhaps amusement, are the natural responses – but never indifference. We are much in his debt.


Ra Says:

Thank you, Jane. It is nice to be welcomed.

I agree that the essence of what McEnroe said has truth to it. The part that I can’t totally get behind is Rafa and Roger fearing Djokovic. To me it seems a bit presumptuous to say that at this point. It is all of course just speculation on my part, but I have not been quite as taken by Novak’s level of talent as so many seem to be. Having watched him sporadically over the past several years and more frequently over most of the last 12 months, I can say that he is an exceptional athlete with a lot of great aspects to his game. When they all click for him, he plays a great game of tennis, no doubt. But I have yet to see enough of a consistently exceptional level from him to say he is anything beyond a very good player (although I may very well just be slow on the uptake. I do watch just about all the tennis to which I can gain media access, though, at the expense of sleep and work). At the same time, however, I’m not ruling out that he may still be on a fairly steep part of his learning curve… Actually, I could go on and on about his game and where I think it may or may not go, but I have long since digressed. I’m just not convinced he’s shown enough to warrant the “fear” of the world numbers 1 and 2 just yet. Respect (in terms of
tennis ability), sure. I know he has a great deal of that from them because they’ve both said as much to more or less of an extent.

I should also mention that I agree whole-heartedly with your implicit notion that not all of the scandalous sensationalism is to be believed.

As for addressing the topic of Sean’s article:

The Monte Carlo and Hamburg finals made it abundantly clear to me that Federer is quite capable of besting Nadal whenever he is mentally ready to close the deal. To my eyes, he without question had Nadal’s proverbial number in both of those matches, and when he (Federer) played his new clay court brand of tennis in stretches, it looked to me like no amount of fleet-footedness or defensive magic could save Nadal. Whether or not (in the event of a repeat RG final matchup) Federer will actually close the deal against Nadal is another story. But can he? Undoubtedly.

Concerning Djokovic, I simply can’t see him undoing Nadal on clay at this point. He did play quite well against Nadal in the Hamburg semifinal, and from that I would have to say it is vaguely possible that, if they meet in the RG semifinal, Novak could have another “best clay court tennis of [his] life” match on a sub-par Nadal day, and perhaps the upset could result.

Attempts at prognostication are fun and all, but as they say: “On a given day, anybody can beat anybody.” I imagine that is even truer when talking about the top three ranked players in the world and on a surface that often has a mind of its own.


zola Says:

Sean,
please, I beg you, for heaven’s sake, don’t pick Rafa for anything! Pick Djoko or Fed by all means!

*******
It was very emotional to watch Guga today. But he obviously could not play, so it was more of an exhibition match than a GS first round and to be frank, it was not enjoyable. Maybe Guga’s innocent happiness and the crowd’s reaction justified that. Personally, I prefer a retirement like Justine’s.

I think it was awkward for PHM too, who did a great job. He was also very cute when he said, “if I could say Guga, Guga, …I would have done the same”.
but no question, Guga is very sympathetic and “huggable”.All the best to him.
*******

Rafa and Fed tomorrow. Can this French Open be any harder for RAfa? As if having Nalbandian and Djoko and Youzhny …is not enough, he has a very tough qualifier too. In one way, it is good for Rafa to get on his game. Hopefully if he can reach the semis and the final, these tough matches will be good for him.

***
I think Rafa can handle Djoko and even Fed here. I am more nervous about Nalbandian. I really hope someone can take him out before He reaches the QF!


Von Says:

Zola:

“I think Rafa can handle Djoko and even Fed here. I am more nervous about Nalbandian. I really hope someone can take him out before He reaches the QF!”

What a scheming little mind you have! :) Seriously though, if I were in your place I would wish for the same. However, Nalby looked very good today. He also looks like he’s lost a ‘few’ pounds, and that always helps in one’s movement. Just a few more hours and Rafa will be playing the qualifier. I hope you will be awake for his match, or have you been to nervous to sleep? :)


Glenn Says:

Gotta beat the donkey again after watching the Jerkovic match.

That jerk had the gall to throw dirty looks at a linesman who made a good call. The shot was overruled (called in), but the hawkeye replay showed IT WAS INDEED OUT.

Why is it so easy to not like Jerkovic? Because he has such an assinine attitude on court. Before seeing his match, I was willing to let his skills balance out his assinine behavior. But now, I see just how haughty and disrespectful the guy really is.

I sure hope he loses early. Some higher power has got to humble this guy – divine OR human!


Glenn Says:

Anybody watch the Baghdatis/Bolleli match? FANTASTIC tennis without the Jerkovic attitude!


jane Says:

grendel,

Your post is funny because it completely undermines one thing I said in the one directly before it: that Djoko had toned it down. Of course he hasn’t based on that quote. I like your response to it as well, perhaps because I like Djoko’s drama and lack of kowtowing.


sensationalsafin Says:

Why would you want Nalbandian to lose early? If Nadal deserves to win a 4th French Open then he should prove it by playing someone like Nalbandian. Honestly I was hoping Djokovic and/or Nalbandian would be in Federer’s half just so Federer can really be challenged and prove himself. Unfortunately Federer’s probably gonna breeze into the final and get hammered by whoever he faces (probably Nadal or Djokovic/Nalbandian if either one gets lucky) because he is unprepared for a real test.


jane Says:

Ra,

I agree: I doubt Roger or Rafa are too “afraid” of Djoko; they are probably a little annoyed and a little amused by him, and certainly aware of the threat he can pose. He won’t beat Rafa here, but if he gets to the semis I’ll be happy with his run.

I also concur that this may be Roger’s year to win the French; i have a hunch. Besides, his win would go well with the unpredictability we’ve had thus far this season. Roger came so close in the last two matches against Nadal, with those two strong leads, but he’ll need to hang with Rafa through 5 sets. That’s the thing, possibly the kryptonite. I am not surprised Roger handled Sam today; he’s a tough server, but Djoko handled him in the MC quarters quite well too. I’d like to see Sam continue to develop his clay game, and maybe he’ll be someone to watch on the grass this year.

Anyway, I’ve said enough.


jane Says:

Von – was it you who said you thought Coria would do better? Anyhow I agree; I thought he had a shot against Robredo.


Shital Green Says:

Grendel,
Can you please post the link to the source interview where he said this “delightful, [out]rageous, and amusing” stuff? Thanks.


jane Says:

Hi Shital Green,

I found this link, which may be where Grendel found the quote:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-1021675/Djokovic-warns-friend-Andy-Murray-Youve-got-stronger.html

But I’d like to read the whole presser if you come across it. Djoko is nothing if not audacious, and you can take that word for its positive or negative connotations. I know how you’ll take it because we’ve liked this guy from the get-go. Nice to have someone shake up the calm waters.


jane Says:

Zola, it’s a shame Rafa’s match is rain delayed. It’d be nice if he could get it out of the way today and not have a late start. Sorry about my hunch above. I don’t know why I feel Roger may win this year, but it’s been a hunch for a while, since MC really. But as I said, he’d have to stick with your guy for 5 sets, I would think, and Rafa has never lost a 5 set match on clay.


zola Says:

Von,
I am awake, but there is rain delay!

Shock of the day , Canas out in the hands of Odesnik!

Jane,
I think the way this French Open and the draw is going, everything is lined up for Federer to win. He has a very easy draw and so far no annoying rain delays. His win here will not be unpredictable.

About Djoko, I agree that RAfa and Fed are more annoyed by his immature remarks and behavior than being intimidated by him. Federer is probably the best player of all times and Rafa perhaps the best clay court player of all times. Novak, alththough he is close to them in points (this year), still has a long way to be in their league.

btw,
tennischannel website has streaming for 4 courts from 5am-12 pm (ET)
http://video.tennischannel.com/schedule.jsp

they don’t show the center court. right now I am watching it from here:
http://www.justin.tv/banki


zola Says:

Jane,
I just posted something, but it waita moderating (maybe because I have links in it).

But don’t be sorry about your hunch. It seems everything is lined up for Federer this year. from the easy draw to the nice weather for him. In contrast, Rafa has an impossible draw and as if having Belucci was not enough, he has to sit in rain delay again.


zola Says:

jane
you can read whole pressers on roland garros website. press on news and then on the left coulmn look for interviews. :)


Shital Green Says:

Grendel,
I found the source of that quote: Ian Stafford wrote that two days ago in Daily Mail, but I still have to find when, where, and to whom he said that. While the tabloid’s Nazi and Fascist history in the past and Racist stance in the recent days may not discredit the piece, I will continue to take it as gossip until I verify its authenticity. If it turns out to be true, I will have to say he did not word it right. I would have said, “Fed will still beat Sampras’ record but not with the same ease as it appeared a year ago when there were few challengers.”


jane Says:

Thanks for the information on pressers Zola; that’s not to say I hope Roger will win b.t.w.; I’d rather see Rafa tie Borg or maybe someone unpredictable come in and win it – like Nalbandian, who is unpredictable not for lack of talent but for lack of consistency.

Djoko’s remarks may be immature (he did say your guy is the best defensive player in the history of tennis and Roger one of the best ever too though, so it’s not like he doesn’t say kind things) but I think he’s a bit of a “tale-teller” as Grendel put it. This may backfire, and give others motivation to crush him – so in that case those who dislike him shouldn’t be too perturbed – or it may not. He may follow up at some point. So far he has a pretty good record of following up on his comments on the court.


jane Says:

Shital Green,

I agree the press is sensational.

And you say “If it turns out to be true, I will have to say he did not word it right.” Maybe he didn’t word it right, or politically correct, but Djoko says what’s on his mind and has a tendency to be blunt. Good on him for rattling the cage, storming the Bastille, whatever. Roger will shrug it off anyhow. He’s used to Djoko by now. :-)


Shital Green Says:

Jane,
Thank you. I like Djoko’s sensationalism, too, but there is something else in this quote that Grendel convincingly objects to.
If it is authentic, the problem with the piece is not Djoko’s challenge but his questioning of what Fed will or will not achieve in the history of tennis. The risk of questioning Fed’s future will lead to evoke his past. Djoko does not have that historical cushion to raise a question mark until he achieves a legendary status comparable to Fed’s, which is more questionable than his own question. To be on safe side, I would have stuck with the “present,” where his challenge can spark some dramatic effect and has some validity, and I would not have barged on Fed’s past, with which his future is inextricably linked. For his PR, even if Djoko begins “pasting” or “archiving” Fed’s greatness, he should word the acknowledgment of Fed’s achievement in a way it would be perceived as his source of inspiration.

P.S: This is coming from Djoko’s No. 1 supporter.


jane Says:

Shital – the word play in your comment is great “which is more questionable than his own question.” But you make an excellent point too: Djokovic’s future is still up in the air; Roger’s past is not. So he should be careful in that regard.

I am also a huge supporter of Novak’s, as you know, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be objective. I like his blunt-style and his willingness to challenge and seek the top, but it’s true that he could word his challenge differently.

This is purely speculation on my part, but I wonder if he doesn’t want to cite Roger as an inspiration as he still wants to overcome him, and therefore any bowing down to his greatness might put a damper on that desire (and reassert the aura players are tearing at, or trying to). I could be wrong, of course, by my thinking is that in Novak’s mind he knows Roger is certainly one of the best in the sport but he’s not going to say that now, when he wants to beat him.


grendel Says:

“Why would you want Nalbandian to lose early? If Nadal deserves to win a 4th French Open then he should prove it by playing someone like Nalbandian” (Sensational Safin). This is a moral consideration, whilst your next point about Federer’s relatively easy draw is a pragmatic one.
But suppose Federer does win, overcoming the hurdles of lack of proper matchplay which you posit. Would this, then, diminish Fed’s success in your eyes? Or would you say: Federer won the French Open despite the obstacle of having an easy draw, so he deserves it more than ever? For that seems to be the logic of your position. Please don’t think I am taking the p, I think moral questions often turn up surprising and even funny conclusions.

And what about Nadal himself? Do you think he is the type to want to win by beating everyone worth beating? Of course, given that that is easier for him than for anyone else, on clay, it’s not quite as noble as it sounds. Do you think anyone is like that? Or do they all just want to win regardless?

One thing is for sure. Anyone would like to be able to say AFTER they have won, that they did so by beating all worthwhile contenders. But who would be prepared to take the risk – if it was on offer?


grendel Says:

Shital Green: I was puzzled by your comment that I “convincingly objected” to some thing in Djokovic’s remarks. On reflection, I think you must have thought I was being satirical, or even sarcastic. I am from time to time, and I see also that what I wrote could be interpreted that way, so that would account for it.

But you know, I actually was writing straight. I do think there is an impish streak in Djokovic, and that it is a mistake to take him too literally. Even though what he says is, in a sense, undeniably true. It is up to Federer to prove that he is, shall we say, premature in his conclusions. Needless to say, I hope Federer does. But that doesn’t stop me being amused by Djokovic’s brashness. It’s also bold, in a way. Because he could look rather silly in a years time. So he is taking a risk.

Sensational Safin: with regard to my post above, I haven’t made it clear that I think you raised an extremely interesting point – but one which has quite a lot of ramifications.


Skorocel Says:

To Zola:

In case Rafa doesn’t win the title this year (which, if it really happens, would be close to impossible), I just hope you’re not going to blame the rain delays and that Brazilian guy named Tomaz Bellucci for Rafa’s loss :) Come on, girl! Even if he had to play on one leg, Rafa would be still the undisputed No. 1 favourite to win the title, so why all this fuss?


xargon Says:

From Glenn:
I sure hope he loses early. Some higher power has got to humble this guy – divine OR human!

I sure hope some higher power gives you everything you wish for Novak.I too hope some divine power lets you have losses in your life.


Voicemale1 Says:

The quotes from Djokovic regarding Federer prove to me what I’ve always suspected about him. He’s always promoted himself as though he’s already got a long resume of achievements that merit instant access to the Hall of Fame. There’s a Cart-Before-The-Horse quality as to how he describes himself and his game, with his bravado bluster thus far outstripping his actual on-court accomplishments. His alleged comments to Murray are an example of that kind of talk. But I still smile when I think of that ATP Production of The Perfect Player interviewing several players asking their evaluation of which players today have the best shots and attributes in tennis. Not one single player named Djokovic as having “the best” anything, including his “good friend” Andy Murray (incidentally, Murray called Nadal’s Forehand the best there is since it does plenty of damage AND gives up very few errors in the process).

It’s the players indifference to the Djokovic game that impresses me the most, not the media or blog posts assessments of his game. Players know Djokovic has a solid game, but he isn’t causing a bunch of sleepless nights in the ATP Locker Room (whereas Federer still does, despite his slump). I sometimes wonder if the real reason Djokovic spends so much time loudly blowing his own horn about his ability isn’t an attempt to try to psych out foes, which is funny, since no one seems to be buying into it. And agree with Jane: neither Federer or Nadal has any fear of Djokovic; Novak only wishes they did. You can bet the Gremelmayr walked away yesterday truly believing he could, or even should, have won that match. He broke the serve of the World #3 four times, after all.

Djokovic may get to the #1 ranking some day (not this year though), but there’s a HUGE difference between getting to #1 and staying #1. I remember reading recent comments by Paul Annacone and David Wheaton weighing in on the Djokovic game, saying it’s solid hitting off both sides, and great scrambling ability, but both said the same thing (as have many others): Djokovic lacks The Weapon shot, and no one can dominate without one. Sampras’s Serve; Federer’s Forehand & Movement; and Nadal’s Forehand & Movement on clay are the principal reasons they achieved what they have for the length of time they have. Since Djokovic has no shot of that magnitude, it’s extremely unlikely he will dominate to the extent these other have.

During the Sampras reign of winning Majors from 1993-2000, it’s worth remembering the sheer number of guys that also held the # 1 ranking at various times in that same span: Agassi, Kafelnikov, Muster, Rios, Moya, Rafter, Guga, and Magnus Norman. Any amount of time Djokovic has at #1 will be intermittent; we won’t be seeing him parked there for 230-plus weeks like Federer. He’s still too vulnerable on his favored hard court surface, having lost to far too many guys on Deco Turf since he won Canada last summer. The thing to watch will be what happens to him once he gets the #1 Ranking and then slides from it. His MO thus far would seem to identify him as one that won’t handle that kind of a situation gracefully. Time will tell.


zola Says:

Skorocel,
I am not blaming anyone for anything. If Belucci or someone else can topple Rafa, good for him.

But in a grand slam, you would like to see the guys fight in reasonably similar conditions. Last year’s wimbledon was a disaster with that genius denial of using the middle sunday and thus forcing players of the lower part of the draw sit during rain delays and play 5 matches in 7 days while those in the top half were having hair cuts!

now, here, again a very unbalanced draw, plus the not so very pleasant rain delays, just doesn’t make me very happy!

Just because Rafa has a good record here doesn’t mean that he has to go through hell.


zola Says:

Re Djokovic, I think he is just thinking out loud, reflecting the expectations imposed on him by his family. I read about incidents involving his father and his uncle tackling the serbian media for not being very patriotic and we have read his mom’s quotes. Imagine being brought up in a family like that!

he has too many conflicts to resolve. within himself and with the outside world. I also agree with voicemale regarding how he is perceived within the ATP players. he has lots of work to do.He also has to be careful about some provoking questions or requests from the media.

I take Hamburg and Rome as a positive sign.I think he is trying and I would like to wait and see how he evolves as a person and a player. If he can learn to bite his tongue and don’t say anything silly, he might restore some of his image.


coriafan Says:

Ahhhh….I wish Coria had a little easier first round than Robredo. I would have liked to see him win a few rounds before running into a heavy seed. Surprisingly, I am going with Nalbandian to hold up the trophy (maybe I feel bored picking Nadal?), and this has little do to with his first round ass kicking. I just have a hunch :)


jane Says:

Voicemale1

” You can bet the Gremelmayr walked away yesterday truly believing he could, or even should, have won that match. He broke the serve of the World #3 four times, after all.”

We shouldn’t forget, though, that he broke Roger’s serve, that is to say, the number 1′s serve at least twice in the semi at Estoril & that he knocked out Almagro at Barcelona to get to the semis there as well. Add those clay chops to the fact that Djoko wasn’t having an “on” day on Sunday and the match itself was not surprising. I expected it to be a tough one for Djoko given Gremelmayr’s results this year.

Personally I am waiting to see if it was a sign of things to come for Novak at RG or if it was just a combination of factors and a blip in his run.


Voicemale1 Says:

Jane:

What does your response below have to do with my assessment that Gremelmayr walked away believing he could or should have won the match? What does breaking Federer in Estoril have to do with it? That’s got nothing to do with his match yesterday. Yeah..it was a tough one and looked it on paper. My point wasn’t whether or not it’d be a tough match for Djokovic – my point is that Gremelmayr had his chances to win it and knows he could have, or should have. His awareness of that has nothing to do with Estoril or Federer or what happened last week, last month or last year.

Or are you trying to imply, infer or insinuate that Gremelmayr had no chance in that match yesterday? If that’s what you mean, just say that, in plain English. I’m missing the connection you try to make with the match in Estoril and his match yesterday. It’s baffling.

Voicemale1

” You can bet the Gremelmayr walked away yesterday truly believing he could, or even should, have won that match. He broke the serve of the World #3 four times, after all.”

We shouldn’t forget, though, that he broke Roger’s serve, that is to say, the number 1’s serve at least twice in the semi at Estoril & that he knocked out Almagro at Barcelona to get to the semis there as well. Add those clay chops to the fact that Djoko wasn’t having an “on” day on Sunday and the match itself was not surprising. I expected it to be a tough one for Djoko given Gremelmayr’s results this year.


Shital Green Says:

Voicemail 1,
Magnus Norman never held No. 1 position, whose record is meager one time RG runner up and one master series winner. And by any measure and regardless of the context, it is not fair to lump Agassi together with Rios, Kafelnikov, Muster, Rios, Moya, Rafter, Guga, and Norman. I am not gonna go into each of these players’ histories here. Djoko does not have a history as such yet, even though he might compare well with some of these guys you mention just fine with his about a year long, tiny record. His meteoric rise in just about that short span has been undeniably a matter of curiosity.
The issue of One Weapon Shot is subjective in that it is variable. It might work against many players, but the same shot could be less lethal or closure to average against a few others. It is variable also on the surface. For instance, Rafa’s ONE Weapon Shot that you mention has been more effective on clay than other surfaces, as his results from AO and US Open evidence. Were that One Weapon Shot enough, it would have helped Rafa produce better results on hard court Slams, though I do not dispute that One Killer Weapon is always a plus, not a ticket to maintain No. 1 ranking for 230 weeks+ once you get there. And I take your description of Djoko’s “solid hitting off both sides and great scrambling ability” as a complement, even if it is only for intermittent No. 1 position. To conclude, I am not good at predicting where his ranking will be by the end of this year, though I hope he does better than last year, at keeping closure to the goal post.


Ra Says:

jane,

“This is purely speculation on my part, but I wonder if he doesn’t want to cite Roger as an inspiration as he still wants to overcome him, and therefore any bowing down to his greatness might put a damper on that desire (and reassert the aura players are tearing at, or trying to).”

I believe your speculation is backed up by actual fact. I can recall Djokovic singing Roger’s praises as recently as 2 years ago. One can even find instances on youtube where Novak (prior to his impersonations becoming well known through on-court performance) refusing to imitate Roger because Roger is just “too perfect”. I find it sound to conclude that Djokovic at some point realized or was informed that bowing down to someone is not likely to result in defeating them.

Voicemale1,

I fully agree with your assertions of Djokovic putting the “cart-before-the-horse” in his commentaries. Granted, he is the one that capped Roger’s streak of GS final appearances at 10, but in reality, he is still a player that has yet to rise beyond 3 in the rankings. How many players in the past have shown great promise and picked up a GS title and a few Masters’ titles along the way only to fizzle out thereafter? I find it grossly premature for him to imply that he is anything beyond a blip in history at this point. That he has ambitions to become more than just a blip is wonderful and healthy for him, but I really don’t see him as remotely close to part of the conversation about tennis greats.

To be fair, as far as “The Weapon Shot” goes, his backhand down the line is quite venomous when he is dialed in. Also, it seems to me that his serve is proving to be one of the more formidable and dangerous strokes of the circuit. Still, he lacks a certain consistency in both. But, to me, that inconsistency just reinforces that it is still too early. His game may well have matured comparatively, but I’m not ready to call it mature on the whole just yet. Even so, for all we know, we’ve already seen the best of it. Not to mention that, in my perception, the specific physical nature of his game does not lend itself to longevity. Again, though, there is still plenty of time for that to change or for adjustments to be made along the way as necessary.

Just for kicks, I’m gonna put this out there:

My completely unfounded guess is that we’ll see somebody young and unknown rise to the mainstream and trump Novak’s talents before he has a chance to leave much of an impressive mark on the historic scoreboard.


Ra Says:

^refused

Is there really no way to edit comments? This little text box is a bit difficult to proof-read…


jane Says:

Voicemale1,

The connection I was trying to make, or what I was responding to specifically, was your comment about the four service breaks; I wanted to note that Gremelmayr is capable of breaking anyone’s serve on clay: not just just Djoko’s 4xs but also Federer’s 2xs at Estoril.


jane Says:

Ra,

“His game may well have matured comparatively, but I’m not ready to call it mature on the whole just yet. Even so, for all we know, we’ve already seen the best of it. ”

This is reasonable; it’s a waiting game with Djokovic. It’s too soon to tell since it was less than a year ago, or just a year ago now, that he really broke through into the top echelons. So we still need to wait and see what comes of it and if (or how much further) his game can develop, and perhaps whether his running commentary on his career goals & achievements will evolve as well.

Either way, I enjoy watching and following him so far.


jane Says:

Voicemale,

“Or are you trying to imply, infer or insinuate that Gremelmayr had no chance in that match yesterday? If that’s what you mean, just say that, in plain English. I’m missing the connection you try to make with the match in Estoril and his match yesterday. It’s baffling.”

For sure Gremelmayr had a chance yesterday as he played Novak close; but I honestly think he would’ve known that going in based on his results on clay this year. He also had Roger on the ropes. So to clarify, I was responding to you on two counts: (1) the point about the service breaks (as above) & (2) that Gremelmayr walked away with the same feeling he must’ve walked INTO the match with – that he could indeed beat Djokovic, world # 3, given that he had Roger, arguably the world’s second best clay-courter, on the ropes just a couple weeks prior. His confidence must’ve been very high. So that’s the connection I was trying to make with Estoril, and I do believe there is a connection. If a player comes close to beating the number 1 one week, surely he could feel that he could beat the number 3 a couple of weeks later.


Voicemale1 Says:

Shital:

I meant to say Marat Safin – not Magnus Norman, which came out of my keypad as I was watching the clips of Guga’s past Roland Garros wins on Tennis Channel, which included his Final against Norman. So thank you for pointing that out.

As for Nadal’s Forehand, your attempt to diminish it by qualifying it’s success as limited, being “on clay”, is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what it does or doesn’t achieve on a hard court. The issue is about having a weapon leading to dominance – and my point is you have to have one to dominate anything. The fact is Nadal’s Forehand on clay is what has been largely responsible for his astonishing record of 108 wins in 110 matches over 3 years. That’s dominance to the extent that none other than Pete Sampras declared, in an interview with Gimelstob last month, that this achievement of Nadal’s is one of the greatest in the history of tennis and does not get reported or celebrated enough. Sampras said it’s not just the work you have to do physically to succeed in any given match, but also the emotional & mental preparation that’s required to win a match, much less to put together a string like that. Unlike you, Sampras didn’t try to discredit this by saying something like “well, that’s on clay”, because Sampras knows all to well what’s required to win for as long a period as that. His point about Nadal is that when you win tennis matches on any surface with a string of wins like that, its called dominance. Dominance is what Sampras has the utmost respect for as a player. Nadal’s Forehand is what has been largely responsible for his success of that magnitude. It is TRULY a weapon, because for 3 years it’s proved to be almost an insurmountable shot to negate. Novak Djokovic has no such shot in his arsenal that will permit him to put together a Win/Loss record like that, on any surface. Period.

If your qualification of Nadal is applied to Sampras, you could say that Sampras’s serve was useless on clay, so thats why he couldn’t win the French Open, and look at his career through what he failed to achieve. This would be a perverse injustice to what his dominant serve permitted him to accomplish everywhere else. And it’s clear by what you had to say about Nadal, you’re obviously one of those that thinks success on a hard court is somehow superior to success on a clay court.

You bring up that Nadal lack of triumph in Australia or Flushing Meadows as though it’s somehow indicative of a weakness in his status, regardless of having won 3 French Opens and been to 2 Wimbledon Finals, which are two stats missing from the Djokovic resume by the way. So then I guess we can say that Djokovic is only really a Top Flight Player on a Hard Court, since he’s not been to the Final of either the French or Wimbledon. I can call Novak Djokovic strictly a “Hard Court Specialist” until he makes it to one of them, right? And if you’re gonna reply that this is because Djokovic is “only 20″, keep in mind that Nadal has reached the Final of 5 Majors thus far, and is “only” 21.


xargon Says:

One can even find instances on youtube where Novak (prior to his impersonations becoming well known through on-court performance) refusing to imitate Roger because Roger is just “too perfect”. I find it sound to conclude that Djokovic at some point realized or was informed that bowing down to someone is not likely to result in defeating them.

Ra, Fed is partly responsible for Djokovic’s attitude towards him. Novak remains complimentary towards all other players.
I think that Novak heard a few things that Roger said about him that were “insulting.” Such as,
“unimpressive”, His injuries are fake. I don’t trust him”.

Don’t forget the major thrashing in the press that Roger gave Murray who is Novak’s friend.

Novak is allowed to also speak his mind and give his opinions.


Von Says:

Zola:

****”Von, I am awake, but there is rain delay!****

Bummer!! I hope this is NOT another ’07 Wimby-like weather for Rafa.

“Shock of the day , Canas out in the hands of Odesnik!”

I’m not shocked. Canas has not been playing well for over a year now, plus, he’s had some injuries. I think his best days are gone.

I’m happy for Odesnik. Someone has got to keep the stars ‘n stripes flying.

Sam Querrey played a good match against Fed. Fed will need to up his game if he wants that trophy.


Shital Green Says:

Voicemail 1,
To begin, I did not like your tone. For a moment, I did not feel like responding to you as this was not going to be a healthy conversation because you were determined to call one side right and the other wrong in ABSOLUTE terms. Plus, you intentionally chose to misunderstand me in the instance where you said I was undermining Nadal. Why would I do that since I like everything this guy does on the court? Most importantly, the conversation was not even about Nadal or A vs. B. I just used him as an example to back up my argument about variable effect of the One Weapon Shot that you were emphasizing. My position was and is: “One Killer Weapon is always a plus, not a ticket to maintain No. 1 ranking for 230 weeks+ once you get there” (I am quoting myself from the last post).
I said it is a plus, and you said it is everything. I take your citation of Gimelstub and Sampras to be mere opinion, not hard facts.
In order to hide your own fallacy about lumping Agassi with those players like Rios, Kafelnikov, Muster, Rios, Moya, Rafter, Guga, and Safin, you blame me undermining Nadal. It is a bigger fallacy to put Agassi in that group, where you have players Rios who never won a slam, than to say Nadal’s forehand is more effective on clay than other surfaces, which every evidence shows. Had it worked the SAME WAY, he would have beaten Fed at Wimbledon on those two occasions like he did at RG, or else you will need to acknowledge overall arsenal, which you refuse to do. Fed or any other player’s dominance cannot be exclusively attributed to one of his several weapons. In short a player cannot be reasonably limited to one distinctive shot, even though it might play crucial role at important moments. For instance, remove Fed’s backhand, he is not the same player. Once again, an over-emphasis on a distinctive shot should not overlook other shots in judging a player’s overall makeup. A well-rounded player is more successful than a player like Muster, who used to be called the King of Clay back then. I was trying to take a middle position, giving you some credit for what you were saying. To me, balancing argument is the way to have a productive conversation.


Ra Says:

xargon,

Whether or not Roger is partly responsible for Djokovic’s attitude, I don’t feel like that excludes a calculated psychological strategy to gain a more competitive stance. I’m not criticizing that approach. Personally, I think it’s smart of him as a player to adopt a mindset in which he sees himself as capable of beating anybody. I do feel that he is more than a bit cavalier in his assertions and has seemed outright disrespectful on multiple occasions, though. As jane mentioned, however, for the most part he does seem to be toning it down and growing generally more politic on the whole.

“Novak remains complimentary towards all other players.”

I have no idea if that is true, but what I do know is that Federer has absolutely differentiated himself from “all other players” and occupies the spot which Novak covets. As such, it does not surprise me that Djokovic would act differently towards Roger than he does toward others and that those different actions would tend to be more extreme in nature.

“Novak is allowed to also speak his mind and give his opinions.”

Of course he is, but that doesn’t mean I have to find his speech appropriate.


jane Says:

Hmmmm…did Lendl have a Weapon? Some say it was his serve; but others say this was too inconsistent. Some say is was his forehand. But it seems what really bolstered his success was not one weapon but his all court power game, with which he was able to dominate for some time.


Ra Says:

jane,

Wow, I was very young back in Lendl’s day, but from what I recall, everything you stated was relevant to his success. Generating offense on the run was huge, but what I recall more than anything was his serve (consistent or not).

I’m not sure if I believe one needs to have a particular “Weapon shot” though. Actually, it occurs to me that in these times, it seems like everyone on the tour has at least one potential “Weapon shot”. What I think is more relevant is that a player has the ability to end the point on his/her own terms. Certainly no one is going to find themselves in the number 1 spot through only ever rallying until their opponent commits an error.


jane Says:

Zola,

I came across this article, tennis nerd that I am, and I thought of you:

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/2008-05-26-players-council_N.htm


grendel Says:

Zola, suppose Nalbandian beats Nadal – and he has to get past Almagri first don’t forget, difficult for Nalbie. Then it won’t matter whose draw Djokovic was in. Possible opponents for Fed, after Querry (harder than Nadal’s first round match) are Montanes, Ancic and Karlovic. Possible opponents for Nadal are someone called Devilder (he’s certain), Niemenen and Youzhny. To say that this is noticeably tougher than Fed’s lot is plainly untrue. And this is what I mean by saying, you never know how it will turn out.

But say Nadal beats Nalbie, and meets Djokovic. Then his draw is harder. But recall that according the old arrangements, #2 seed would anyway have met #3 seed. Besides, someone has to meet Djokovic. Why make a song and dance about it?

There are other considerations. Nalbandian is notoriously inconsistent – it might be a blessing to meet him. Might not, of course. Who knows?

These things go around and around. Sometimes, Nadal is the beneficiary of a ridiculously easy draw – Wimbie 2006, AO this year. Sometimes not. It just seems to me absurd to go on and on about it. Some people take it to the point of imagining conspiracies. That’s akin to believing there are fairies at the bottom of the garden. Not that I’m saying you do this, Zola – but you are just a mite protective of your lovely boy! And meanwhile, what about Sensational Safin’s excellent point?


grendel Says:

Jane, last time I made the comparison of Djokovic to Lendl, you weren’t so keen. Glad to see you coming round…

Federer was lacklustre, to say the least, in first round, as Von pointed out. But it is a marathon not a sprint as the cliche goes – so judgement suspended.


Tejuz Says:

well.. weather could favour Fed a lil bit especially against Nadal, if its damp and wet in the final. It could also favour Djoker as well in his semis.

Even in hamburg, when it was cloudy.. Fed was playing amazingly well in the finals. As soon as sun came out. Nadal’s forehand top-spin started kicking up and Fed struggled.

So if this weather keeps up, i would bet on Fed beating Nadal finally at Paris.


grendel Says:

Zola, sorry to post again – but I’ve realised something I said was misleading. For if Nadal gets beaten by Nalbandian, it’s true the Djokovic factor no longer counts, but even so, Nalbandian is an incomparably greater threat than anyone Fed could meet in the quarters. But in a sense, so what? Sometimes Fed meets Nalbie, sometimes Nadal does. Sometimes Fed meets both nalbie and the joker, sometimes Nadal does. That’s the nature of a lottery. Over the length of a player’s career, these things tend to even out.


Tejuz Says:

Yeah.. Fed was lacklustre.. but it looked like Fed was experimenting a lot over there.. he was using that back hand slice a lil too much… gave up points as soon as he knew his drop shots werent to his liking and Querry managed to reach them.


Tejuz Says:

yeah.. Fed met Nalby and Djoker at Monte carlo and beat them pretty convincingly. In fact it would be a good chance for Nadal to get a win against Nalby, since he cannot buy on on the hard or indoor courts.

About Djoker’s comments.. dunno how much of it was interpreted. Looks like he just trying to irritate and psyc out Fed with his statements. Its left to Roger as to how he chooses to react to it. My take is, even if Fed loses his No 1 ranking for a short while he will only come back stronger. he dint reach 10 consecutive GS finals and 15 consecutive GS semis (still running) just like that. Who knowz.. Djoker will be made to look stupid by the end of this year. We just have to wait and see.


Tote Tennis Pro Says:

Not reading too much into the first round. As long as they all win, i am not too concerned about the form of Djok, Fed, and Nadal.

Okay Federer was lacklustre, but as has been said it is a marathon not a sprint.

Anyway, whatever happens, i can’t see anyone beating Nadal. But sport wouldn’t be as great as it is if there were never upsets!


jane Says:

grendel,

I think it was the way you couched your comparison between Djoko and Lendl (after IW was it?) that made me object to it. Something about robotic or clinical excellence. And those qualities are clear in Lendl; he was a workman. Djoko may be a bit like that, but it’s the similarity in their overall baseline power games that I wanted to make the connection between above, as the discussion of dominance & weapons was on the table.

Like Ra, I was quite young when watching Lendl so my recollection may be rather rusty; in addition, I was a John McEnroe fan so my perception at the time was definitely colored.

However, I can say quite confidently that Djokovic has a much more interesting personality than Lendl as well as the ability to play the net better. Djoko is not a genius volleyer like McEnroe was (then again, who is?) but Lendl could never really play net, except after his stint with Roche in his bid to win Wimbledon; even then it wasn’t easy. IMO, net play seems to come a little more naturally to Novak; he’s comfortable moving in, and is not afraid to. But stroke-for-stroke, there are some similarities in their games.

I am coming round, but with caveats.


jane Says:

Soderling is such a strange beast; he dominates in the early rounds of tournaments and then he caves; I always expect him to go one better, but he never seems to. Wonder what it is with him.

I notice too the RG website has a feature on Gulbis, who is a player that has enormous potential and will take on Blake next round. Be interesting to see what he can achieve in the next year or two. Like Djokovic, he trained with Pilic.

Anyway, back to work; this rain delay is painful…


craig Says:

Here is what Sampras says about Novak…the first seconds of the video.

“Djokovic is the one guy in the world that can actually run with Roger and hit with Roger, you know, can do all that stuff”
Pete Sampras

Djokovic Targets Grass-court Glory
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kme6wBWtCec


sensationalsafin Says:

If Federer were to win the French Open with an easy draw, then everyone would bitch about it just like they still bitch about last year’s Wimbledon draw. It would not take away from winning the French Open, just as nothing can really take away from winning a 5th straight Wimbledon. My friend always tells me you create your own luck. And it just so happens that Federer has gotten pretty lucky and it’s up to him to capitalize. If Nadal beats Nalbandian, Djokovic, and Federer to win his 4th straight French Open, then it’ll be an even more glorified achievement because people WILL go one to say look at the players he beat and blah blah blah. Federer winning with an easy draw doesn’t make it any more glorified.

I feel like Federer has sort of messed up everyone’s thinking when it comes to Djokovic. The same thing used to happen to Nadal when he became a force. You can’t compare Nadal and/or Djokovic’s future achievements with Federer’s past achievements. Federer is a one-of-a-kind player who we probably will not see again in our lifetimes. The way he dominated hard and grass courts and was number 2 on clay has never been done before and it’s damn near impossible to see it happening again. Nadal is f*cking beyond great on clay. On other surfaces he is a force but at the rate he’s going, he’s not going to be remembered for his good results on the other surfaces as much as for his great clay results. Borg reached 4 US Open finals which is a great achievement by itself but people tend to care more about his success at Wimbledon and the French Open. Federer will be remembered for a shitload of things. Djokovic is not Federer. He’s not going to accomplish as much as Federer. He might win 10 slams for all we know in the next 10 years but he’s not going to break the slam record like Federer will. You can quote me on that when both of them are retired.

As for the number 1 ranking. No shit Djokovic isn’t going to reach 230+ weeks at number 1. No one until Federer has ever done that. Connors was number 1 5 years straight, Sampras 6, and Federer 4 so far (and I think it’ll stay that way). I still say Djokovic will finish this year as number 1, but not with that big of a margin over Federer and Nadal. After next year’s Australian we might have another number 1. After the March MS we might have another one. Djokovic is not going to dominate as the number 1 player. God damn Sampras didn’t even dominate as number 1. He just ended a lot of years as number 1. Djokovic might be the next king, but he’s not going to be exactly like the current one.


Ra Says:

You know, the draw actually looks pretty balanced to me in that it is patchy all the way around and because sometimes unfamiliarity with the competition is as dangerous as familiar, strong competition. My stance on this, however, does not apply to what people are likely to say in retrospect once the finals have been played.

jane,

I noticed the Gulbis feature, too. I’ve yet to see him play, but from what is written he sounds like the type of person I would like to see meet with success. I’ll be looking forward to his match against Blake.

The rain is awful. I’m beginning to wonder if Nadal will ever even have a chance to complete his opening match. I hope we aren’t going to see him (or anyone else) have to deal with a match being stretched over 5 days like at Wimbledon. Does anyone know of a good site for monitoring Paris weather forecasts?


grendel Says:

It is a strange and eerie feeling as the rain washes over the land. There is no tennis, but it is not like in between tournaments, when everyone has plenty to say, either about what has just happened, or what is about to happen.

Now, tennis is suspended. Nadal and Sharapova forever await their summons to play, like a picture held on pause. There is noone around to hit the play button, and it is hard to conceive that there ever can be. Did Federer once play, did Djokovic? How many centuries ago was that?

In the rush of activity, meaning is clear, at least to yourself, amidst the discordant noises. But now, when the air is slow and sleepy, you feel the pull of eternity. Your own brief flicker on this little mote of dust is scarcely of significance even to yourself. Differences, once so urgent, fade to nothing.

At some indefinite point in time, the imaginary policeman in the sky will wave his nonexistent wand, the sun will cast ironic beams, and everything will be as it was before, just as if we had not been visited by intimations of mortality.

Tennis again will take centre stage. Once more, all will be clear and obvious, as if revealed. That other person’s incomprehension will be in itself incomprehensible.

And the fate of the world will hang on the bounce of a ball.


Von Says:

“When shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain? When the hurlyburly ‘s done,
When the battle ‘s lost and won”. -


Agassifan Says:

Sensationalsafin,

I don’t'agree with your point that Fed was lucky in his draws in the grand slams – he has had to play plenty of tough players (roddick repeatedly at wimbledon, for example).

Nevertheless, NOBODY remembers how you won a tournament. All they remember is how many you won. That’t the tragedy.

Otherwise, nobody would call Sampras even close to the best ever. He nickled and dimed his way through easy draws in plenty of tournaments. Heck, his last slam, the 2002 US Open, was COMPLETELY due to the draw. He played Schalken in the semi, while Agassi toiled against hewitt. Add to it the stupidity of the US open to have semi and final on consecutive days (best of 5 sets) – its no wonder that he beat agassi that day, a match that agassi would have definitely won if the semi opponents were switched.

Same way at the wimbledon. for God’s sake, sampras won his 7 titles beating players like Pioline!! or the choker Ivanisevic. COme on.

So nobody remembers how you won. All they will talk about it how many you won. Unfortunately. This is a winners world, doesn’t matter how you win.


jane Says:

Yes, history is written by the victors.

Meanwhile, as the rain puts a damper (ahem) on things, all I can think of is Philip Larkin’s “Aubade” and that wardrobe that stands plain. Indeed, “one side will have to go.”

Thanks a lot grendel!


Shital Green Says:

Belucci was supposed to be pretty easy for Nadal to beat but, with his solid ground stroke, proving to be scarry.
One quick point: the Grand Slam 1st timer was matching the King in most areas except at the net. The point I am trying to make is Nadal’s often underrated slice volley is proving more effective against this guy (took the break in the 8th game with that), not so much his forehand high bouncing topspins, which Bellucci has been able to handle fairly well so far half way through the 2nd set. In the 9th game, Nadal does not try a single volley and gets broken, mostly because he sticks with the baseline play. On the other hand, Bellucci is totally clumsy at the net, misses several easy points. He loses the set, by double faulting twice in the 12th game alone when he had every chance to push it to tie break. Hopefully, Nadal will still pull the match in straight sets. But this new kid is definitely somebody to watch on clay court in the future.

Has anyone one notice Djoko in the Wilson commercial? It matches his public persona. And yesterday, Tennis Channel was showing Nadal’s choreography before the match: knees band-aided, fingers taped, hairdos, etc.


jane Says:

Tom Perrotta of the NY Sun hasn’t come out and said Roger will win the French, but in this article (link follows) he concludes that it’s Roger’s best chance to date:

http://www.nysun.com/sports/federers-best-and-last-chance-to-win-the-french/78768/


jane Says:

I didn’t realize both Tsonga & Gasquet have pulled out with knee injuries – I think both were on Roger’s side, so that’s a boon for him.


jane Says:

Shital Green,

That was an entertaining first round match between Nadal and Belucci, who has a great crosscourt backhand but needs to cut down on the unforced errors.

Nadal won 86% of his attempts at the net (which weren’t a lot, but he is adept up there, no doubt).


zola Says:

Ah…. finally some tennis! For the past two days I woke up at 5 am to watch everyone but RAfa! and then sat through rain delays till later hours to see replays of the first and second day matches.

The best thing I read yesterday was on the FO blog. Someone suggesting to have all the 4 GSs in Australia! I agree one million percent!

Belucci was not supposed to be an easy draw for Rafa. Who said that ? The guy has jumped to #76 in one or two months, winning 21 of his past 22 matches. He was supposed to be dangerous and he lived up to it, in the first set! after the second, he was gone!

I think the thing with RAfa and Federer is that their game is obvious and can be studied well, because it is shown so much. Also the players coming against them usually play the match of their lives. Against RAfa on clay, playing a match of one’s life and still losing the first set, takes lots of steam away. I think in the third set Belucci could not even move.

Nevertheless, had Belucci had a better draw and met someone other than the top 3, he had a chance to go up a few rounds. He certainly has the game.

Ferrero withdrew with knee pain. In his interview he said his opponent is good, but had he not been injured, it copuld have been a different match! Remeber Rome JC? Maybe if RAfa did not have blisters, that could have been a different match too! but Rafa played and gave you all the credit. It went down in tennis history as RAfa’s 2nd clay court loss, not as a retirement! maybe something to learn from the young one!

That Djoko commercial is relly funny, “intimidating” ( oh yeah!) and “in control” ( very famous words)!. The yell at the end is very synthetic too. I like the Fed commercial much better.

The best tennis commercials are those with JMac and Borg, Fed with Rolex ( I like the music) and a NIKe one with Rafa and Gasol . There is a NIKE one ( I think) that JMac hits the tennis balls to NY buildings. I like that one too.


zola Says:

Jane,
neither Tsonga, nor Gasquet would have been a factor agianst Fed. Especially with GAsquet curretnt lack of confidence.
The draw is laid out for Fed to reach the final. No bumps for him.


jane Says:

The best John McEnroe commercial is the American Express one, in which he visits an old foe, that is, an umpire whom he had famously lambasted, and gives him a hug – perfect.

All the rest you list Zola, imo, are bordering on ridiculous – the Gillette and Wilson ones are embarrassing.

The ones where Hewitt (I think) plays tennis with the moving mac truck and where Roddick plays tennis with pong, however, are classics. We need more like that instead of these hokey ones.

As for Gasquet or Tsonga not being a factor against Fed – well perhaps not, but certainly Gasquet could challenge him if his game clicked on the day. And I’ll bet, if Tsonga’s healthy, he’ll be a factor for anyone at Wimbledon.


zola Says:

Jane,

I don’t think they have shown the one I mentioned about RAfa/Gasol in US. it is this one:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=O1c54IwQNGc

the Fed-rolex ones( I think these two are perhaps the best tennis commercials I have seen ):
http://youtube.com/watch?v=J33rDR021YQ

http://youtube.com/watch?v=apHzFRH_WcQ&feature=related

I don’t like the Gillette ones either.


Glenn Says:

Voicemail1,

Your post on May 26, 7:52 was right on target. Many Djokovic fans make a big deal about his being young. But they all forget that Nadal is also young and has accomplished SO MUCH MORE than Djokovic. Do you have any stats on comparable accomplishments? I mean, what had Nadal accomplished when HE was only 20?

Xargon,
I noticed you didn’t object to my calling Djerkovic on his assinine behavior on court. That’s fair. I guess even Djokovic fans realize what a jerk he can be. You guys should really let him know (don’t know if he has a website where you guys congregate – I’ve never looked).

Jane,
Keep an eye on Bolleli and Wawrinka. Bolleli has made it to the third round, defeating Baghdatis and Del Potro. Wawrinka’s second round match will be against Marin Cilic. If you want an underdog to win, I’d bet on these guys.


Glenn Says:

Jane,
I too think a Gasquet-with-confidence can have a real shot at Federer.

Zola,
I hate that old Lacoste commercial with Roddick. It’s a clothing commercial for a shirt, and Roddick spends 90% of the time WITHOUT a shirt. I guess it’s for the ladies, but then I don’t think women are Lacoste’s target audience. Doesn’t make sense at all.


zola Says:

Glenn

***Zola,
I hate that old Lacoste commercial with Roddick. It’s a clothing commercial for a shirt, and Roddick spends 90% of the time WITHOUT a shirt. I guess it’s for the ladies, but then I don’t think women are Lacoste’s target audience. Doesn’t make sense at all.
****

I have not seen that one. I don’t like shirtless commercials either.


zola Says:

Glenn and Jane,

“GAsquet with confidence” is not born yet. I have yet to see a good performance from Gasquet. The best run he had was last year’s wimbledon. Has he ever played against Federer or RAfa with confidence? His mental fragility os part of the whole package. By getting mentally stronger, he will not go back to his “old” self, he will be a “new” player. “That” player might have a chance.


jane Says:

Zola,

Yes, well, I don’t like the Rolex ones – they’re too “Chariots of Fire”-ish to me. Too much pomp and glorification. I’d rather see something witty or gritty myself. For instance, like that Rafa one, which is tres cool!! Love it – have never seen it here in Canada.


jane Says:

Glenn,

Yes, those are good wins for Bolleli, but I still don’t think he’ll win the whole thing, nor do I think Stan will. However, I admittedly thought Kohls might trouble Wawrinka more than he did. And if I am not mistaken, I believe Wawrinka won (or came close?) the French Open as a junior, so he’s certainly a contender; he is, after all, now in the top ten. And yet I don’t think he’s at the point in his career when he can beat both Federer and Nadal, which is potentially what he’d have to do to take this title.


Ra Says:

How about this Wayne Odesnik? If he isn’t totally pooped out yet, I won’t be surprised if he manages a third round upset.


grendel Says:

“I have yet to see a good performance from Gasquet. The best run he had was last year’s wimbledon. Has he ever played against Federer or RAfa with confidence?” He deservedly beat Federer on clay, think it was Monte Carlo, two years ago, and proceeded to hold his own against Nadal – looked the better player, actually, but ran out of gas. His potential is extraordinary, but…..


Del Torri Says:

Posted a week ago with no response.


I’m obviously a new poster here (having been a ‘lurker’ for a month or so); I feel compelled to point out something I recently read about a *certain* player, having read a *certain* post on this blog!

This is addressed to Glenn, in response to some remarks you made about Mardy Fish, in Sean Randall’s blog “Djokovic out for Number Two Ranking…”:

***
Glenn says,
“Mardy Fish aside (BTW, who WOULDN’T be respectful to such a nice guy like Mardy Fish!)”

“The only ones I can think of right now who fit the bill of “heroes” are Nadal, Wawrinka, Bolleli, Fish, Kohlschreiber, Blake and Federer”
***

I’d now like to draw your attention to a post made in the forum “Kings of Clay” (http://kingsofclay.proboards100.com/index.cgi):

NF says:
“At Madrid last year, he said ‘I’m gonna beat his f*ckin ass’ after his opponent PHM took a lengthy injury timeout, and at the end of that match he referred to him as a ‘f*ckin shitty frenchie’. I have to admit that I found the whole sage hilarious to watch, but still that was deplorable conduct from Fish.
Against Nieminen at the Aussie Open this year, he incessantly cussed and swore following a code violation from the umpire.
At Miami 2004, during his defeat to Benneteau he shouted to his supporters ‘I cannot lose to the worst player in the draw’, and after the match he said to Benneteau at the net ‘this is the last time you’ll beat me’, and not in a jovial manner.
The guy has frequently insulted fans who have the sheer cheek to root for his opponent, and has used the f-word to address fans who are seeking his autograph at the end of matches.
If he regularly went deep at the big and televised events, he would be far more notorious than he is currently is.” [Source: http://kingsofclay.proboards100.com/index.cgi?board=pasttournamentthreads&action=display&thread=1437&page=12 ]

Now I have nothing against Fish, and obviously this is only one poster’s opinion, but it definitely casts a shadow of doubt over his character. Having read the above extract a few days ago and your comments, Glenn, just a few minutes ago, I just thought that it would make an interesting read, to say the least!


sensationalsafin Says:

I never said Federer has always had easy draws. I don’t really think he’s ever had as easy of a draw as people claim. Even if he has easy early round opponents he’s usually beating the top players QFs and beyond. And even if you ignore the ranking, look at his AO wins in 06 and 07. Both finals were against players who were just on fire and he wasn’t even taken to 5 sets. This year was actually the first time he wasn’t able to stop the “hot” player. Then again that trend started last year.

Agassifan, you refuted your own point. You mentioned plenty of players and who they beat to win their slams. So people do remember. It’s just not overstated because of the other thing you said, as long as you win it doesn’t matter how. If Federer wins this French everyone will praise him but there will be “buts” for a few years. Eventually people will just stop caring and accept the way he won it.


Glenn Says:

Jane,

I agree Wawrinka and Bolleli are not there yet. I think both need to improve their movement. But if I would pick a REALLY dark horse, I would pick them on clay over anyone else.

Zola,
Do you have the Tennis Channel? That shirtless Roddick commercial must come on three times an hour! I can’t turn the channel quickly enough when it comes on. Hahaha! I want the sponsors to know that some tennis fans don’t appreicate that commercial, though when the commercial comes on, I’m sure Von would tell all her friends to turn to the channel, which would cancel my efforts. Hahaha!

Grendel,
Thanks for the Gasquet support. I agree he is not fragile at all. IIRC, he has a few times won matches from 2 sets down! He is rather inconsistent, though. I wonder if it has something to do with the expectations put on him. He seems like a guy who does NOT like that. I read once that he is not a member of the tennis organization that every other French tennis player seems to be a part of. He likes his independence from the mainstream, and I think the spotlight is actually what brings him down.


Agassifan Says:

sensationalsafin,

when you read articles or hear commentators, 99% plus call Sampras the gold standard, since he won 14 slams. NONE of them mentions sampras sliming thru easy draw. NOBODY on this forum has ever mentioned it either, other than me.

So I am one of the very few mentioning it. Most people forget, and do not care to analyze the wins deeply.

I would say at least 5 of sampras’s slams were largely due to easy draws. So he deserves 9, not 14. Now tell me ONE person other than me who has ever mentioned it. Have you, ever?


Agassifan Says:

On the other side – Have you ever seen anyone mention the opposite for LENDL? The guy had to face some of the best players in history at THEIR peaks. so his 8 slams greatly understate his achievement. But NOBODY places him above Sampras. Why? Because, as I said, most people don’t care about the details, and just count numbers.

I would love to see you show me ONE post that argues that Lendl was better than Sampras, other than mine.


Voicemale1 Says:

Sensationalsafin:

About your 4:12 Post – Here’s what’s breathtaking about Federer: Sampras & Connors ENDED those years at that position, but within each year they did, other players worked their way into and then out of the #1 slot at various times. In fact Sampras would never have ended 1995 at #1 had Agassi not completely shut down playing after losing the 1995 US Open Final to Sampras. Agassi had a tremendous year in 1995 and was #1 for most of it, and he had a sustainable lead even after the Open. Agassi’s basic retreat on playing after that loss allowed Sampras to squeak into the #1 ranking by the end of 1995. So your words on the extraordinary accomplishment of Federer ring even louder & more astonishing – once Federer reached #1 NOBODY has been in that position since. He is truly incredible.

As for Djokovic reaching #1 by the end of this year, it’s unlikely just due to the math. He’s got 1,850 Points to defend from the Masters Series Canada to the Masters Series Paris; Federer has 2,500 to defend through the same period. So Djokovic has to not only keep all the points he has (Cincinnati is the only place he can make substantial gains since he lost first round there last year), he has to hope Federer has a substantial number of earlier losses than he’s had before. And none of this includes The French or Wimbledon – where Federer has to make the Final of both and Djokovic has to make the Semi Final of both just to keep what they have from 2007. The question then becomes this: can Djokovic win any more while Federer simultaneously loses MUCH more to make any gain on him?

Given that Federer hasn’t been up to his extraordinary standards this year, and Djokovic is susceptible on hard courts, with 10 different guys having beaten him on hard courts since he won Canada last August, the one in the catbird seat after Wimbledon could be Nadal. From July to November, Rafa has a paltry 775 hard court points to defend over 4 tournaments- which shouldn’t be a reach to keep, even if it is hard court season. IF (big IF) Federer slips, and Djokovic has one or two more early losses like he did in Marseille & Miami, there’s a possibility Nadal could actually inherit the #1 Ranking by years end, since he has so few points to defend compared to the other two. Federer & Djokovic can afford very few mistakes in a host of different tournaments in the last half of the year. Should make for some interesting viewing.


Von Says:

Glenn:

“I’m sure Von would tell all her friends to turn to the channel, which would cancel my efforts. Hahaha!”

You betcha!! Roddick is a good looking young man. His commercial is about the Lacoste polo shirts — Lacoste passed up the French players to choose Roddick to model their shirts. I wonder why? He never makes it a habit of taking off his shirt on the tennis court during or after a match to flaunt his body — but who could criticize him if he did. You know the saying: When you’ve got it, flaunt it!! He’s drop dead gorgeous!! Anyway, to each his own, and my own is, you’ve guessed it, RODDICK!! Hey, Hey, it’s Andy Roddick — you can finish the song. HaHaHa. :) Keep smiling Glenn. :)


Von Says:

Agassifan:

“I would say at least 5 of sampras’s slams were largely due to easy draws. So he deserves 9, not 14. Now tell me ONE person other than me who has ever mentioned it. Have you, ever?”

Is this really about Sampras or about Agassi? Why do I get the feeling that you feel Agassi was a better athlete than Sampras? If so, please tell me WHY did Sampras beat Agassi so many times?

We can argue about draws being easy for Sampras, and the same can be said for Federer, et al. However, if we were allowed to change the draw; move players around to create what we feel, to be the perfect and ideal scenario, thereby ensuring our favorite player(s) will emerge the victor, would that give us our favorite player as the winner? Hardly likely. Something unforeseen always happens. I believe in predistination — some call it luck, but whichever way we look at it, that’s how it will be or was meant to be.

The champions pertinent to past eras, have had, as we perceive it, some easy draws. This will always be a revolving argument — the sport is revolving/evolving. What in an era was viewed as awesome, a few years later is thought of as unchallenging. This same yardstick can be applied to the GOAT theory. Arguments for each era and the champions therefrom should be subjected to variables from those times. For example, can we say that Federer and Nadal’s MS shields are worth less than Agassi’s, due to the fact that Agassi had to win 3 of 5 sets in those MS finals, as opposed to the present, new format of 2 of 3 sets? It’s an exercise in futility, and one which is probably unfair. For us to make comparisons regarding greatness between champions of different eras there are tons of variables that will have to be taken into consideration, rendering our arguments moot. The past chmpions should be celebrated not ridculed or picked apart. They won their trophies honestly — according to the draws.

From my observation of the unfoldment of the draws over the years, irregardless of how easy and/or difficult a player’s draw appears — in nearly all or most cases, something happens, rendering the script useless and a whole new scenario emerges, e.g., Juan Carlos’ retirement today. A more recent example was Rome. The draw then opens up placing those players, who were not thought of as a threat, to become one, and all of the carefully thought out strategies fall by the wayside. The unpredictability is what makes this a very mouth watering season.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”.


Tejuz Says:

Well.. I would love that rather than having Djoker be the No 1 because Nadal deserves it more.

Regarding Gasquet having talent.. there are others in the same boat.. like Baghdatis, Berdych etc.. who are pretty similar to Gasquet. they could trouble Nadal and fed when their head is right.


Ra Says:

Anyone else unexpectedly impressed with Odesnik? I’m looking forward to his upcoming 3rd round clash with Djokovic…


Von Says:

Odesnik is an unexpected, pleasant surprise. In fact all of the American men are. I won’t hold my breath about Odesnik winning his match v. Djokovic though — it’s a long shot, but surprises do happen.


Ra Says:

Yeah, I wouldn’t expect him to win, but what I’ve seen from him is a nice combination of offense and defense (including some very well played, very tough gets). If he maintains that kinda caliber, at the very least we should see some of Novak’s better aspects. And yes, surprises sure do happen.


Von Says:

The windy conditions would favor Odesnik, since he’s lives and practices out of Saddlebrook in Florida, where it’s very windy. Novak could have a problem with the wind, which could throw off his serve for sure.

I’m more interested in Blake v. Gulbis. I’ve heard one of the commentators praising Gulbis, and stating he could be a problem for Blake. However, I’m not at all impressed with Gulbis. I’ve seen him play twice, the most recent in Vegas, on a windy day. Gulbis was floundering and trying to find some semblance of his game — he subsequently lost the match. I’m rooting for Blake.


Ra Says:

Interesting. Thanks for the info, Von.

I’m looking forward to that as well. I’ve yet to see Gulbis play. I’m not sure I’m rooting for either. I find Blake charismatic, but for the most part his tennis has grown to bore me. On the one hand, I’d like to see him may a good run, but on the other hand, I don’t see that run going too far. And on the opposite side, it’d be very nice to see someone I’m not familiar with make an exciting showing.


Von Says:

Ra:

You’re welcome. I always root for the Americans — Roddick is my fave, but he’s not in the FO — hence, it will be Blake, Odesnik, Ginepri and Reynolds. I hope ONE of them makes it to the QFs. I’ll pick Ginepri to be the dark horse among the Americans. How’s that for a headache? :)


jane Says:

Odesnik has some good wins on clay, including a semi-final (Houston) and a final (forget but smaller tourney), so he’s no slouch. We’ll see how well / if Djoko can handle him. I agree that wind might bug Novak; he seems more susceptible to the elements. Wow it was windy in Rafa’s match today; the dust was swirling.

I actually liked Gulbis when I watched him, but I’ve seen him play only once at last year’s USO vs. Moya. So I don’t know what the future holds or if he has a chance against Blake. But given that Blake’s the older player, I’d like to root for him too.


Ra Says:

Von,

Roddick is my favorite of the (North) Americans as well. It is sad that he is injured and I hope that he will soon be back to 100% very soon. I hear him called arrogant a lot, but I don’t get the feeling he takes himself any more or less seriously than he takes anyone else. He is always astute and witty in his pressers and seems to never hold back compliments for other players when due. All that only adds to my appreciation for someone that seems to continually make marked improvements to his game through dedication and perseverance.

jane,

Oh good. I’m glad to hear he’s had some good results. That adds to my hope that he will maintain his level and do his part to create a good contest.

Sounds like we are all looking forward to Gulbis VS Blake…


Von Says:

Ra:

“Von,

Roddick is my favorite of the (North) Americans as well. It is sad that he is injured and I hope that he will soon be back to 100% very soon.”

Great! We’ll (the two of us) get along just fine. Whew, that’s a relief — I thought when I mentioned his name, you’d come back with something nasty about him, and then, I’d have to defend him – so this works out just great. :) Roddick, actually is a very nice guy and he has a big heart. I can excuse anyone’s arrogance (aren’t we all) in lieu of compassion and generosity toward humanity. And, who could not love that face. :) I think he likes to strut his stuff, and it’s mistaken for arrogance. Strut, baby, strut!!

I forgot to mention Mardy Fish — I like him too. He’s foul-mouthed but, hey, so’s the best of the lot. Some curse in languages we don’t understand, unfortunately; for the Americans it’s English. We need to tech them some well-chosen words in another language. :)


Von Says:

jane:

“Wow it was windy in Rafa’s match today; the dust was swirling.”

He got dusted and powdered — no need to nuy talcum powder. :)


Von Says:

jane :– Typo ‘nuy’ s/b ‘buy’.


Ra Says:

Von,

“I thought when I mentioned his name, you’d come back with something nasty about him”… No, clearly not at all. Even though I am a big fan of Federer and it was an awful time for him to take another loss, I was still happy to see Andy break that streak. Personally, I don’t think arrogance necessarily bothers me. I mean, really, why should I be bothered by anyone’s arrogance unless I am, myself, insecure? Disrespect, however, does bother me. Even so, that is probably a matter of a judgment call. Regardless, Roddick doesn’t really strike me as particularly embodying either. As a heterosexual male and an awful judge of men’s relative attractiveness, I don’t really feel one way or another about his face except that he is expressive. I’ll take your word for its other attributes, though.

I never know what to make of Mardy Fish.


Von Says:

Ra:

I’m female, so I’m more inclined to see men’s inherent attractiveness. I embellish upon Roddick’s physical attributes because I know that he’s not much liked by quite a few posters — I just like to rub it in — you can say I’m being very wicked. :)

Mardy Fish is somewhat of a loose screw at times. He certainly has a short fuse. He lost it at the AO in his match v. Nieminen with the umpire, and ended up losing the match. Not to mention his onslaught toward Paul Henri Mathieu. That was unnecessary. That aside, I like Mardy. He has one of the best angled two handed-backhands, and also has a great serve. These guys believe in free speech.

I’m not very sold on Blake’s charisma. At times, I get the impression that he’s just being politically correct — he says what he thinks people would like to hear. Additionally, he plays up the Harvard schooling too much — one year of attendance and he thinks he’s the whiz kid.


Daniel Says:

I am just apologysing to everyone. I give up on Nalbandian for good!
What is wrong with this players that can’t hold their act together?! I hate this kind of matches, it’s painfull to watch and i feel emotionally exhausted. I’m tired!:)


Fed-Rafa Says:

Doesnt bode well for Rafa – getting pushed by nobody players like belluzci and devilder! If the conditions stay the same (damp and humid), we might well be having a new FO champ the weekend after next.

What a sad state of things for the Americans. Reaching the 3rd round is being celebrated as if we have won the trophy. This is the toughest grandslam to win and the new generation of American players are guilty of not investing enough effort into making a solid run at Paris. Too bad the Bryan brothers cant cover Roddick/Blake’s behind like they do in all the away clay ties in the Davis Cup. At this point, it is not even about the French Open. It has been more than 5years since an American has won a major title. Hopefully Roddick can work something at Wimbledon/US open this year. His window is fast closing, with Djokovic in a very good position to take things over from Federer at Wimbledon (yet to), USopen (almost did it last year) and Ausopen (taken over this year).

Having said that, it is hard to believe that Roddick’s injury is anywhere as genuine as he claims it to be. The injury is just about bad enough to miss the French Open, yet it is not too bad to affect his grass court schedule. Sounds a little too convenient. It might not be as blatant as the French Open doc revealed, but there is a good chance that Roddick would have played at this Slam if it was Wimbledon and not French Open. Lets face it, Roddick is not even in the top 10 contenders at RG. At Wimbledon, he might be the 2nd favorite ahead of even nadal. (Unless Wimbledon has slowed their courts even more)

I guess being a quitter at one tournament to give yourself the best shot at another is ok with a lot of people. For me, personally I like players like Rafa who turn up at every opportunity they get to work on their weakness. Rafa has not won a hardcourt tournament since last years Indian Wells, yet he playes every Master Series on the faster courts and he has the rewards for being brave enough to do so. (Finals in miami and paris)Roddick would do well to learn that from Rafa. With the damp conditions in Paris now, he might have been able to make a good run.


Skorocel Says:

Well, so much for the Rafa vs Nalby match… If it was Almagro or, say Tursunov, that would be understandable, but Chardy? Meine Güte, this can’t be serious! He and Safin should be in serious contention for the “Biggest underachiever in tennis over the last 10 years” trophy…


Glenn Says:

I’m not even going to pay attention to Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic until the round of 16. That’s where the exciting play should start. Though I am surprised that Federer lost a set.

My boy Wawrinka made it through in straight sets!!!! I am happy. I’ll keep on smiling despite the awful Roddick Lacoste commercials.hehehe. :)

Looking forward to the Bolleli/Llodra match. Don’t know who to choose. Llodra has more experience, but Bolleli is on a roll. Bolleli is a baseline player, while Llodra is great at the net. Bolleli loves to play clay, while Llodra seems to do better on hard. It should be a great match!

Can anyone explain to me how players choose their partners in doubles or mixed doubles?


Von Says:

Glenn:

“I am happy. I’ll keep on smiling despite the awful Roddick Lacoste commercials.hehehe.”

One more round and you’ll probably end up in the foul mood I find myself in today. then i’ll be laughing.

“Can anyone explain to me how players choose their partners in doubles or mixed doubles?”

Rule of thumb — especially in mixed doubles, they pick them when they look as fine as Roddick. ;)


Von Says:

skorocel:

“Meine Güte, this can’t be serious!”

Are you talking dirty again? Wasn’t that Nalby match something else, and then some? Pardon my dust/clay, the guy looked like he would rather be any place other than where he was. Seriously, though, no denying he has a mental problem, but I think he had a physical problem. Unless he had too much to eat. Now all the brouhaha about the draw is just that, brouhaha. Blake had to further mess up my day. Maybe I need to join your camp. :)


Ra Says:

So, even though I wasn’t really sure who I was rooting for prior to the match, it became pretty clear early on that I was pulling for Gulbis. Sorry, Von…

Glenn,

” Though I am surprised that Federer lost a set.”

I don’t know if you were watching or not, but I’m not very surprised, personally. I definitely wouldn’t make too much of it. We’ve all seen Federer string together clusters of unforced errors even while at his most consistent best, so i’m not at all shocked that he wasn’t totally dialed in when they came back out after the rain at 5 all. And Montanes was pretty solid out there…


Von Says:

Ra:

“So, even though I wasn’t really sure who I was rooting for prior to the match, it became pretty clear early on that I was pulling for Gulbis. Sorry, Von…”

Gulbis was the guy going for his shots and playing better. Blake was just his usual self — impatient. The Gulbis I saw in Vegas, on hardcourt, was not the same Gulbis I saw today on clay. He was very good and deserved to win. I would just like for ONE of the Americans make a good run, so that I can see something positive written about them.

Montanes was solid in the first set. I kept thinking, this is good, very good. And, the next set, oh well, lights out.


Skorocel Says:

To Von:

I didn’t see the Nalby’s match at all, so I don’t know if he’s had some physical or other problems, but anyway, why bother to watch it when I already knew the result? It’s true that Nalby is well known for having to dig deep in these first few matches, but still, it’s almost ironic to see him losing to such a guy when he usually comes out of these matches as the winner… Damn, I’ve seen him turning around literally thousands of these matches, but well, from all those tournaments where he had to struggle, he had to screw it up exactly here at the FO – where he was just a few matches away from finally meeting Nadal on clay…


tropicana Says:

your predictions on women side SUCK big time.

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ATP - Jul 28 WTA - Jul 28
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Rafael Nadal2 Na Li
3 Roger Federer3 Simona Halep
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6 David Ferrer6 Maria Sharapova
7 Milos Raonic7 Eugenie Bouchard
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