Ivanovic v Safina Today, Federer v Nadal Tomorrow at French Open
by Staff | June 6th, 2008, 11:00 pm
  • 39 Comments

Slam-title neophytes Ana Ivanovic and Dinara Safina face off today in the final of the French Open, where one will take home their first Grand Slam title. The question is, who will have the hardest time prying their hands from their throat?


In last year’s French Open final, Ivanovic played scared against world No. 1 Justine Henin in a straight-set slaughter than was difficult to watch.

“I feel like a different player coming into this French Open,” Ivanovic said. “I gained experience from the two finals so I really hope I can step up this time and make one more step.”

Ivanovic leads the head-to-head 2-1, but Safina won their only meeting on clay back in 2005 when both were very different players, both ranked outside the Top 30. Ivanovic is 0-2 in Slam finals, also losing at this year’s Aussie Open to Maria Shreek-apova.

“All the pressure is on her,” Safina said. “I’ll be trying to do what I need to do on the court. I’m going to give everything I have. If I’ve got to die on court, I will. There is absolutely no reason to save any of my energy in the final. I’ll be using all of the energy I have.”

In Friday’s men’s semifinals at the French Open, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal set a date for a third consecutive meeting in the final at Roland Garros.

The world No. 1 Swiss held off French upstart Gael “Force” Nadal in four sets, while the world No. 2 Nadal was dominant in straight-sets, showing that the No. 3-ranked Novak Djokovic is no immediate threat to his No. 2 standing.

For more see:

Good Luck Watching Nadal v. Djokovic in the U.S.; No Live TV Coverage!
http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2008-06-06/490.php

TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
The WTA Tour announced appointed Scott MacLeod Senior VP Business Development. MacLeod is the founder of Force10 Marketing, and is a former senior vice president at Octagon…So who do the WTA communications/promotions staff want to win the French — one of the Russians who doesn’t look like a model, or Ana Ivanovic, who even journalists and writing love letters about? Talk about crossed fingers and toes…GOT MONEY? Tennis Canada announced a multi-year partnership with Dairy Farmers of Canada, including a national public service campaign entitled ‘Everyday Champions.’…Bob Bryan teamed with Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka to beat top-seeded Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 6-2, 7-6(4) for the French Open mixed title…No. 10 seeds Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain won the women’s doubles championship at the French Open, beating Casey Dellacqua of Australia and Francesca Schiavone of Italy 2-6, 7-5, 6-4…Hey NBC, thanks for keeping tennis on the always-tape-delayed down-low in the U.S., and you in on some conspiracy to kill tennis?


Also Check Out:
New No. 1 Ivanovic Also a French Open Champ
Sveta Big Underdog Again? vs Safina in French Final
Safina Folds, Ivanovic, IW Winner Zvonareva All Exit Miami
French Open Dish: Ivanovic Dismisses Crying Jankovic
Williams Sisters, Loaded Field at WTA Rome

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39 Comments for Ivanovic v Safina Today, Federer v Nadal Tomorrow at French Open

Spirit Says:

Yep… I would like if Federer could win and take the title, but somehow, I feel it will be more difficult than any of the previous two (or three) attempts. Nadal’s game is PERFECTLY suited for clay – intensity, will, physical and mental strength. You can humiliate Nadal in the first two sets, but he opens the third just as if the match had just begun. No, clay is just too slow for big power-play attackers – you can’t hit the line 5 times in a single point, no way…

Fed owns just one single advantage over Nadal this time – nothing to lose… Yes, that’s right, and now I’ll explain how. This year Rafa carries all the burden. Having suffered a loss in the final, RG and career slam eludes Roger, and his chances of doing it ever drop rapidly… BUT, that’s what all of us expect anyway, unlike the last year, and 2006, when everyone EXPECTED HIM to beat Nadal in Paris, and thought it was just a matter of time.

On the other side, RG is EVERYTHING to Rafa. Having lost title here, he suddenly loses everything he has, and everything he is.

Anyway… Fed still needs a miracle to win here.


Christopher Says:

I look for Rafa to take the 2008 French Open in straight sets over Fed. Rafa looks to be the strongest he’s ever been and Fed looks to be about the same which isn’t good enough.

This is unfortunate. Federer is one of the greatest clay court players in the history of the game but he’s playing during a time when the greatest clay court player of ALL time (Nadal)is at his peak (Even beyond Borg). Federer deserves a French open title but he isn’t going to get one. Better luck at Wimbledon and the U.S Open.


jane Says:

Safina is so much like her bro – both explosive & implosive.

Ivanovic & Safina are both making too many errors, but today Ivanovic is keeping her head.

There was one fantastic point in the first set that went something like 27 strokes; Ivanovic played some great defense to stay in the point, Safina finally hits a drop shot and Ivanovic somehow made it to the net and hit a beautiful touch volley to win it. If only Ivanovic could add a little more of that to her game. She’s got powerful offense, but to see her use defense and touch like that was great.


Shital Green Says:

Yeah, Ana proved me wrong and made my day. I am as happy for her as you are, Jane.
Congratulations to Ana for her 1st Slam.
Two Serbians win slams this year. What a great year for them!


Von Says:

Hey Shitl:

This is what the love bug can do. Now YOU can throw caution to the wind and get bitten by the love bug! :)


Von Says:

ooh, Shital, my apologies, I misspelt your name. too much love bug biting going on. :)


jane Says:

Congratulations Ana – first grand slam & number 1! Not bad for a fortnight’s work. I think Ana’s game can only grow, and Safina has announced herself here.

All is not lost in women’s tennis.


JCF Says:

Ana is probably writing a thank you card to Justine with some flowers right about now…


JCF Says:

Oh and I do think Rafa will beat Federer, but I also think Federer is improving, so it’s not going to be as one-sided as people think it is. He can’t get worse.. each match gives him more experience and a better chance to crack into Rafa’s game. When you take enough beatdowns, you’ll eventually learn and figure out what you’re doing wrong. Roddick lost what, 11 straight to Federer before he finally stopped the rot? But stop the rot he did. And Federer will some day do it again (like in Hamburg). It’s a matter of time.

Agassi won RG at 29. Fed still has some years left.

I know, I don’t have rational reasons for believing this, but I can’t see Rafa winning RG every year until Fed retires. On paper he’s hard to beat, but something is bound to happen to him right? Or is this gambler’s fallacy?


Von Says:

“On paper he’s hard to beat, but something is bound to happen to him right? Or is this gambler’s fallacy?”

Bite your tongue. :)


Shital Green Says:

Von,
Ref: “ooh, Shital, my apologies, I misspelt your name.”
You made an error and admitted it. No biggie.
It reminded me of a day in September 2007 when people were more creative to drop “al,” not just the “a” from my name. I had to compile a list of philosophers, artists, and litterateurs who have said good things about it. If you search “Scatology” in this site and scroll down to about 60th post, you will laugh for days. Do that, please, for me.


Hank Says:

On NBC watching the Womens Final this morning they gave the players stats as:
Ivanavic – 6’1″ and Safina as 5’11″ but when they were standing side by side in tennis shoes, Safina was clearly several inches taller than Ivonovic – do they just pull these stats out of the air or what gives??????????


grendel Says:

I thought Safina was drained by her efforts over the last week. So the final – as so often – was a disappointment. Strange decision to have Henin at the centre of things again. I wonder how Ivanovic felt, receiving congratulations from the woman who wiped her out last year, and who is still obviously, should she care to apply herself, head and shoulders above any other player, on clay at least.

A poster on the previous thread (FoT) mentioned being one of the few keeping the faith with Federer. But surely there is a distinction between wanting something to happen and believing it will happen. It is true that when the players themselves, and those most closely associated with them, talk about their prospects, they might say anything, and only the most literal minded take them – er – literally. Thus Nadal goes on about how even his best might not be enough against the greatest player in history. Rubbish, of course; Nadal thinks (with good reason) he is going to win, but he has quite a deft touch in PR. Nobody likes a boaster, unless he manages to be humorous about it. Both Djokovic and, more dramatically, Federer, sent out strong positive signals. But words (as opposed to thoughts – but they are secret) don’t win tennis matches.

The evidence clearly points to a Nadal win. Nevertheless, there is something troubling in FoT’s comment. Federer is, after all, a very great player and keeping faith in him, despite recent setbacks, is not irrational. If anyone can pull the best out of himself at the critical moment, and offer serious opposition to the greatest claycourter since Borg and possibly beyond, it is Federer. It is not impossible, even if highly unlikely, that he can beat Nadal tomorrow. You have to bear in mind that he then needs to play at the top of his game for several hours – a tall order, for someone given to lapses in focus recently – since Nadal, of all people, is not going to suddenly have an off day.

I also happen to think Federer will find Nadal difficult (but certainly not impossible) to beat on grass, should they meet there next month. There are plenty of people who are predicting this, with more or less undisguised relish. It pains me to be on the same side of the fence as them, it really does. Unlike them, I will not be gloating, or shedding crocodile tears, or offering advice, and other horrors.

But what can you do? Surely, only tell the truth as you see it. Noone ever said it would be comforting.


jane Says:

Shital,

I remember well your intelligent defense, addressed to those who would slander a name simply because you had a difference of opinion about tennis.

Mon Dieu!


Hank Says:

I’m a diehard Fed Fan but after seeing Rafa pulverize Novak there is NOBODY that can beat RAFA on clay if he continues to play at this level – especially if you expect to out-bang him from the baseline. I’m predicting that Rafa will win on grass before the Fed will win on clay. Fed has got to work harder and sweat a little if he expects to maintain his edge – as Rafa just continues to improve his game and he now is almost invincible at his current level.

Fed’s only hope is to take a cue from the women who have learned how to beat the big banger gals – CHANGE THE TEMPO AND PACE, go the net, lob, and generally mix it up – while you set up your own shots in order to dictate play. Also, you need to keep in shape with enough stamina to play at a high level for 5 sets.


jane Says:

Of course Roger has a shot to win it tomorrow; I can’t understand why not. He’s proven this year that he can take gargantuan leads from Rafa, and I really think, given his desire, he will not let those leads slip away, should he get them in the French Open final!! He’s worked very hard to figure out ways around and into Rafa’s game and may well be able to execute those on the day.

He’s the underdog in this match; the odds favor Rafa obviously. But you never know. Nothing’s gone according to the odds this year, or at least very little.


Christopher Says:

Question:

What new twist, in tennis terms, is Federer going to throw at Nadal Tomorrow to have a chance at winning?

Only at Hamburg a year ago did Federer finally beat a tired Nadal in heavy conditions on clay in best of 3 sets. Nadal was tired from back to back to back wins at Monte Carlo, Spain, and Rome.(IMO) Federer, as brilliant as he is, cannot sustain enough consistent offensive fire power over 5 sets necessary to offset Nadal’s relentless defensive prowess. Nadal always wears Fed down and then starts extracting unforced errors from him because Fed is forced to go for it. I don’t see how anything is going to be different on Sunday.


jane Says:

I can’t speak with technical / tennis-playing authority but just watching Federer’s match against Monfils, he didn’t hesitate to come to net – a lot. There were some bad misses, sure, but overall it was a successful strategy for him, and Monfils is also a defensive player / retriever like Rafa, so in many ways he was the ideal player for Roger to face prior to Rafa.

Also, Federer has been touting his fitness all tournament; he’s gone through a few 4 set matches and hasn’t seemed to tire overtly – mind you, they weren’t 4 sets against Nadal!

It is an extreme long shot, but Federer does have a coach in his corner, some new ideas, and obvious enthusiasm. He seems willing to try drop shots, come in, do whatever he has to, which at least puts him in contention I would think.

But technically – shot analysis – etc, someone else will have to pipe up.


Christopher Says:

Jane,

All I can say is Monfils is no Nadal. I was suprised at how easily Nadal dispatched Djokovic. I thought Djokovic would at least win a set. Maybe the key would be fitness. Afterall, we have never seen Nadal extended to 5 sets on clay. Maybe with his muscular high octane game he could be worn down physically in a 5th set. The problem for Federer is getting Nadal to a fifth set. That’s a riddle Federer is going to need to solve.


jane Says:

Christopher,
Agreed: Monfils is no Nadal, and I too had thought Djokovic would at least win a set. He could’ve, and even should’ve, won that 3rd. Yet somehow he was slow off the mark yesterday, or Rafa was fast and threw Djoko for a loop. By that second set, Rafa had knocked him down, but not quite out, as Novak showed, too late, in the 3rd. Anyhow Djoko showed his quality on the clay this year, and will no doubt seek to improve next year. It’ll be interesting to see where Gael goes from here though, and Gulbis…


Jackson Smith Says:

Great effort by Monfils–found a cool website chronicling the backstage stuff with Monfils at the French, seems like a pretty cool guy.

http://thetennisguysays.googlepages.com/afrenchmaninparis2


Ra Says:

Obviously I have no idea what will happen tomorrow, but I don’t think Djokovic’s match yesterday was in any way relevant (even if the result may turn out to be similar). Djokovic played a pretty worthless match all in all. He didn’t employ anywhere near the variety of tactics of which he has proven himself quite capable. He seemed to be stuck in a single mode of offense for the bulk the exchanges, and even in that mode he was clearly below his own bar. He was going for the types of winners that are neutralized by clay, and then when he had any kind of positional advantage to allow for those sorts of winners, he misfired. Of course, that is not to say that Rafa didn’t play phenomenally. I’m just saying that Novak’s play did not remotely resemble what we’ve seen Roger bring to the court against Rafa this year.


Christopher Says:

Jane,

I have higher hopes for Gulbis in the future. Mofils still seems injury prone to me. Mofils is an incredible talent. This is why the French federation has stuck by his side through his injuries. I also want to see which one of these guys will step up on another surface the way Tsonga did is Austrailia this year.

Anyways, I’m routing for Federer tomm. I’d love to see him win the career grand slam. He’s a class act.


grendel Says:

“He’s proven this year that he can take gargantuan leads from Rafa, and I really think, given his desire, he will not let those leads slip away” – Jane. MMT made the interesting hypothesis that those leads of Fed were sort of unreal – the carefree playing of one who knew in his heart he had no chance of winning. So when reality – in the shape of possibly winning the set – beckons, the fantasy collapses, and a massive choke ensues.

This is a bold thing to suggest about a 12 times grand slam champion – but that does not mean it is wrong. I’m half inclined to believe it, though I sincerely hope MMT’s ingenious theory is mistaken! I don’t know.

Maybe enlightenment will dawn tomorrow.


jane Says:

Sometimes fantasy does metamorphose into reality – not often, but it can & it does.

Novak said it best: “everything is possible.” Of late, Serbian tennis players have shown how fantasies can become reality. Ivanovic is living it today.

You just never know.


Ra Says:

I don’t know if everyone realizes that there are new interviews with Rafa and Roger today, so I thought I’d post the link:

http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/news/interviews/index.html


Hank Says:

The era of perceived invincibility is over for Roger and I don’t think he has fully realized that as yet. He will never be allowed to glide along with class and style and achieve the same results in the future.

What I realize now is that a WARRIER with skill, strength and determination will beat a class act most of the time.


PJ Says:

There were a lot of errors in the women’s final, but there were also some great rallies and winners. I enjoyed the match. Congrats to both women, but especially to Ana for her first slam win.

I’m in the “I want Federer to win, but don’t know how it will happen” boat. Nothing would make me happier, but as many have pointed out, Rafa has been playing out of his mind this tournament. I’m hoping, though, that Roger plays a match where he really tries everything. A lot of times, I’ll watch a Fed/Rafa match where the commentators will constantly bring up the fact that Federer just doesn’t come in enough against Nadal. If Federer does everything he can, but still loses, then fine, he lost to the better player.


JCF Says:

I’m not a huge fan of Federer, and I don’t want him to win RG ever, but his chances of beating Rafa are not as unrealistic as people say. If he got straight setted every time, 6-3 or 6-2, then yes, I’d agree that it is extremely unlikely he’ll beat Rafa. But Fed has kept it close and competitive, despite not being a natural clay courter. His all-round game alone is what makes him the second best player on clay right now, not any clay expertise. He’s still a better player on clay than most south american and european clay court specialists.

I expect Rafa to win, but if I had put money down on Rafa, I wouldn’t exactly be kicking back, basking in the sun, relaxed either. I’d say Fed has a 30-40% chance. That is quite doable.


mouse Says:

JCF- I dont want to see Federer ever win RG either. I cant imagine how unbearably smug and obnoxious the media and his fans would get if that were to happen. I would have to abandon the internet for days in order to avoid the insufferable circle jerk that would accompany a Federer win at Roland Garros.

:: What slump? Federer roaring back in Paris ::

Glad to see headlines like this because when Federer gets humiliated in straight sets on center court again by Nadal I dont want to read any more glandular fever excuses. Federer has been healthy and fine since Miami. He will lose because Nadal is simply betterer than Federer. :)


fed is afraid Says:

4 in a row
4 in a row
4 in a row
4 in a row
is it sunday yet?


Skorocel Says:

Ra said:

“I’m just saying that Novak’s play did not remotely resemble what we’ve seen Roger bring to the court against Rafa this year.”

Exactly! Djoker maybe certainly has some potential to trouble Nadal on clay in the future, but he still lacks that variety which Fed brings to the court. He may have that double-handed BH (which, at least in theory, should handle that Nadal’s FH topspin better), but his game can be pretty much predictable, whereas with Fed, you never know… Remember, variety is the only way how to beat Nadal on clay!


grendel Says:

What do Federer and Nadal think about tomorrow? I think we can glean something from their most recent interviews. These are my impressions.

Federer seems wistful. He notes his disappointments from previous meetings, and how sad he was. He is anxious to stress his achievements – for instance, he has never lost in three sets. Plainly, it is a victory of sorts to win a set against Nadal on clay: after all, nobody else has. He hopes he can summon his best tennis for tomorrow. The tone is uniformly subdued.

Switch to Nadal. We are in a different universe. This is a man utterly confident. You get a sense he is going through the motions; apparently, it is the correct form to give these interviews, – so, by all means, fire away. He is respectful, polite, gives due where due is required, and so on, the obligatory nod towards Borg and so forth, but really, it is all a little pointless. There is absolutely no sense of doubt, nor any need to make predictions. Why bother with words? All will be revealed soon enough.

Others may disagree, that I am interpreting too much. Be that as it may. I get the overwhelming feeling Nadal knows he has Federer’s measure and that he will therefore win. It is simple. With Federer, it is more complicated. You don’t feel he really believes he can win, but on the other hand, nor is it quite out of the question. His overall record is such that there is a deep underlying confidence in his abilities, so that he could defy logic and pull off the sporting upset of the year. I believe it is a long shot in Federer’s mind, but if Nadal inexplicably falters, Federer will be able to take advantage. That is not, after all, negligible.


PJ Says:

mouse said:

“JCF- I dont want to see Federer ever win RG either. I cant imagine how unbearably smug and obnoxious the media and his fans would get if that were to happen. I would have to abandon the internet for days in order to avoid the insufferable circle jerk that would accompany a Federer win at Roland Garros.

:: What slump? Federer roaring back in Paris ::

Glad to see headlines like this because when Federer gets humiliated in straight sets on center court again by Nadal I dont want to read any more glandular fever excuses. Federer has been healthy and fine since Miami. He will lose because Nadal is simply betterer than Federer.”

Um . . . isn’t this the same type of smugness that you are complaining about?


Ra Says:

mouse,

“I cant imagine how unbearably smug and obnoxious the media and his fans would get if that were to happen.”

I’m not sure how you figure the media would be smug about Fed winning. The gross majority of the media I’ve seen has been very quick to write him off. It seems to me that most would be eating their own words.

“I would have to abandon the internet for days in order to avoid the insufferable circle jerk that would accompany a Federer win at Roland Garros.”

I don’t understand all the hating that surrounds this match-up every time it transpires (which, since it is so often at the end of tournaments, I’d like to think warrants respect for both players). You know what, though? As a fan of both Federer and Nadal, comments such as yours make me want to abandon the internet even before the match is played.

“I dont want to read any more glandular fever excuses. Federer has been healthy and fine since Miami.”

Glandular fever (mononucleosis) is a reason, not an excuse. If you were paying attention, you may have noticed a sudden decline in movement, focus, endurance and general fire in Federer’s game just months after witnessing a searing athlete take the U.S. Open by storm. You may have seen his form at the Masters Cup as well…Even from a non-clinical standpoint, it is very obvious that something actually happened to take him so abruptly out of shape. That’s not an excuse; That’s just reality. Additionally, it didn’t look to me (and I’m guessing many others as well) like he was really back in shape until Monte Carlo. Even in Estoril he looked uncharacteristically spent at times, but he made no excuses – he pushed through and claimed the title even while others bowed out for feeling less than 100% .

Again, I just can’t get down with the hating. Is it really that tough to enjoy high level tennis without bashing players, their fans, their medical conditions,etc? If it’s just a question of misdirected resentment, why not redirect it to somewhere more worthwhile like, say, NBC…


Ra Says:

It looks like it’s projected to be 71 degrees (22C) with 10 mph (16kmh) winds during their match tomorrow. Any thoughts on how that’ll affect the match-up?

I think that should bode well for Nadal’s topspin but also Federer’s chance of earning quick service points.

On an unrelated note: The closer it gets, the more I’m feeling like it could really be Roger’s day…


tennismonger Says:

Who was it who said, “99% of life is just showing up?”

Roger just needs to show up & then solve that remaining 1% between his ears.

As Monfils progressed @ RG, much was made of fellow Frenchman Noah’s historic win a quarter of a century ago against Wilander, the human backboard @ the time. Roger should draw inspiration from that match as well because to hoist the trophy tomorrow, he must play as Noah did then: Agressively. Fearlessly. Flawlessly.


anon Says:

“Roger just needs to show up & then solve that remaining 1% between his ears.”

Roger’s problem isn’t between his ears, his problem is the guy standing on the other side of the net. He hasn’t beaten Rafa in three tries when he was much more confident of his chances, he certainly won’t do it now with Nadal playing better than ever.


Von Says:

Mouse:

DITTO.

Top story: Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Paris For "Personal Reasons", Will He Have Appendix Surgery Next Week?
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