Venus into 6th Wimbledon Final; Nadal Still Awaits Schuettler or Clement
by Sean Randall | July 3rd, 2008, 12:48 pm
  • 33 Comments

Wimbledon rain aside, how the hell does either Rainer Schuettler or Arnaud Clement have an opportunity to get to the semifinals of another Grand Slam? Weren’t these guys long gone, washed up years ago? Hasn’t the strength of the tour improved enough over the years to prevent such players from getting this far? To both their credits they didn’t completely go away and they’ve hung around long enough to get back to an earshot of a Slam semifinal. And I actually like Clement.

Schuettler or Clement will emerge from what I thought was a toss-up section of the draw which featured Andy Roddick, James Blake, Nikolay Davydenko and my pick Dmitry Tursunov.

But enough about Clement/Rainer, let’s talk about the big hitters that are waiting for them in the semifinals: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and another surprise, Marat Safin.

I will admit, before this event and even my preview I gave Safin no chance of getting back to this stage of a Slam or even passed Novak Djokovic. The guy has basically hasn’t done squat since his title run in Australia in 2005, and with age and injuries – yes the guy has a lot of game – I didn’t see another run like this. But like the two guys locked at 6-6 in the fifth, credit to Safin for not packing up the bags and shutting it down.

Of course I have to wonder if there’s not a little sibling rivalry at play with Marat after his little sister, Dinara, stole the family thunder reaching the French final last month. Coincidence? I’m guessing Marat was none too happy playing second fiddle in the family.

But Marat’s revival ends Friday against Roger. Federer’s got too much game right now, too much at stake and on grass the big guy simply does not move well enough to hang with Roger. And if Fed serves well that match should go straight sets. Maybe Marat eeks out a tiebreak. However if for some reason Fed comes out flat, Marat’s more than capable of taking advantage and stealing a win here, but again I think Federer will be on his game.

There’s no doubting that Nadal has been on his game. The Spaniard destroyed very formidable opponents in Andy Murray and Mikhail Youzhny, and he took care of business beating Ernests Gulbis and Nicolas Kiefer.

If you are still in disbelief over Rafa’s grass court abilities – and a few weeks ago there were many such posters – good luck to you. Rafa’s the real deal here and I’ll even say it again, while so many have been looking at Mr. Federer as the GOAT, keep an eye on Rafa. In five years time who knows.

As for the courts, lots of talk of them being slower and from my couch they surely seem to be. And the slower courts help Rafa of course. Roger, however, is of the opinion that they are the same speed as they’ve always been, but I don’t buy it. My guess is that he’s just saying that for his own psychology. Remember, this is where Roger’s won five straighttimes and when a guy like Rafa’s closing in you need every edge you can get, so by Roger telling himself and anyone that will listen that “nothing has changed so no reason I can’t to win again” won’t hurt. Reality in the form of Nadal might hurt. Though the rain today should help quicken things up a little bit.

As for the women, Venus is now thru. I fully expect Serena to do the same once it dries. Williams sisters final ahead.


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Words on Wimbledon 2008 – Week One
Previews: ATP Zagreb, Joburg, Santiago; Fed Cup

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33 Comments for Venus into 6th Wimbledon Final; Nadal Still Awaits Schuettler or Clement

rogers twin sister Says:

If I were you, I’d be embarrassed to write in public. It’s bad enough that you haven’t a clue about syntax, but to actually misspell Dinara’s name is the icing on the proverbial cake. In the words of Bugs Bunny, “What a maroon!!”


RogNadfan Says:

Well Sean,
I read couple of your articles in this website in last few weeks and I liked them all.But to me this one right here gives a smell of prejudiced thought.As you said People have been looking Fed as the GOAT, its absolutely true. I mean he is one of the few greatest players of all times. And to me, Nadal doesn’t come even near to him yet.(I am positive he will though). It seemed like you are not ready to accept that truth. Nowhere in the article did you appreicate Roger and even if you did, it nowhere sounded enough that Roger really deserves.He is indeed one of the few diamonds of era open era, may be Nadal is still gold, but hasn’t metamorphosed into diamond yet. Federer is so good even the most difficult shots seem like as if it was very easy for him.If you really think Nadal has excelled Federer in his game,I guess you are a bit late. How many grand slams did Nadal win till now? He is a great player and a lefty, which I love the most.However, an article so lopsided, was far less than what Fed deserved about.I agree with you in one thing though; Who knows whats gonna happen in next five years. And of course in Next five years Roger won’t be No 1.
Any way, I like your articles here.Thanks for that and Keep on posting such views.


tennisontherocks Says:

about court speed: depends on whose matches you watch. If you are a flat hitter, the ball is still driving through the court well (ask Jie Zheng). The slice still stays low and skids quickly. But lot of players hit with more topspin now and those balls do sit up more on a dry grass court than fast hard courts.

and Nadal in GOAT discussion? well, he is not even the best clay courter player yet. If Nadal can stay healthy and win 2 slams for next 5 years, he will match Sampras’s record. Considering how much he has struggled on hard courts, its bit hard to imagine that.


JCF Says:

i underestimated safin, and now i take it all back. he can win this but it all depends on how fed plays. This match is on fed’s racquet.


JCF Says:

“and Nadal in GOAT discussion? well, he is not even the best clay courter player yet.

He’s pretty much a lock in for FO champ the next 4 years at least. He just has to win 2 more to tie Borg. I doubt he won’t exceed that. Clay is more than just the FO. He is one of only a few players to have won all 3 clay masters series. And he’s made the finals of every Masters series except Cincinatti.

“If Nadal can stay healthy and win 2 slams for next 5 years, he will match Sampras’s record. Considering how much he has struggled on hard courts, its bit hard to imagine that.”

In 5 years he’ll be 27. That’s 4 years younger than Sampras was when he won his 14th slam. Why such an early deadline?

Each year, his chances of winning the French will be better than anyone’s… he’d only need to add one other title to it. He’s made the semis at AO, quarters at USO, I don’t see why a hard court slam is beyond him, if he can play on both clay and grass. Those are the two extremes. He should be able to play on surfaces in between. I think it’s doable. Not saying it will happen, but it is within the realm of possibility.

He lost to Tsonga at AO and Youzhny at USO. He’s gotten his revenge on both of them since, so he can play these guys. Provided he doesn’t get injured, his toughest opponents would be Federer and Djokovic.


PJ Says:

I honestly think the real question for Nadal will be the knees and his second half of the year. He’s never succeeded on hard courts like he has on clay or even grass. There have been reports that his knees are bad, and hard courts certainly won’t help. Much of it will depend on how healthy he is. The one thing going for Roger is that he rarely gets hurt to the point where he can’t compete. The mono is the worst thing to happen. That definitely helps him with the Grand Slam record. If Nadal stays healthy, he has a good chance to win many slams. However, I don’t see him winning slams in the future and Roger not winning any. I would also imagine Roger is going to retire before Nadal (barring injuries), so it’ll be interesting to see what the record is. I’d be shocked if Roger doesn’t break Pete’s record.


tennisontherocks Says:

“In 5 years he’ll be 27. That’s 4 years younger than Sampras was when he won his 14th slam. Why such an early deadline?”

It’s the mileage that matters. Nadal turned pro as 15 year old kid.

based on his clay mastery and wimbledon performance, he looks pretty much set to win 8-10 slams. But going beyond will need some solid hard court work. Its doable, but he has reached only 1 hard court slam semi so far and someone like Djokovic looks a bit stronger there.


JCF Says:

“It’s the mileage that matters. Nadal turned pro as 15 year old kid.”

True, but Sampras was not a late-bloomer himself. He won his first slam at 18-19. Nadal turned 19 when he won his first FO.

I don’t know what effect concrete has on his knees, but it is unusual for a player to have a weakness on hard courts. Hard courts are your average, middle of the road, neutral surface, one that shouldn’t favor or disadvantage anyone. It’s normally slow or fast surfaces that players have a strength or weakness on, and he seems to do pretty well on grass. The guy who stopped him from winning it is the same guy who stopped everyone else, only he’s come closer to beating Fed than anyone has since Ancic in 2002.

What Federer does or doesn’t do in the next 5 years is what will decide Nadal’s fate in the pantheon. I can plausibly see Nadal maybe match Borg. I don’t see him becoming GOAT. That should be Federer’s, unless Djoko is correct in saying that he really is in decline.

I think he will be satisfied if he can win one wimbledon in his career (in the same year he wins a French), even if he never wins on hard courts. Borg was the last guy to do that.


Ra Says:

I agree with the notion of Nadal’s knees being the limiting factor. As long as the hold up, I really believe it won’t be long before Nadal is a top contender on hard courts as well. Has everyone notice how close to the tape Rafa has been playing is forehands over the center of the net? And even flattening out balls from time to time? I’m not sure many players do even now, but I suspect it won’t be long before no one is dismissing him as one or two dimensional…


Ra Says:

^ “noticed… his…”


Fedex Says:

The point is not what Nadal MIGHT achieve. Agassi has won 8GS and he barely gets a mention in the GOAT discussion. You can forget players like becker who have won “only” 6GS.

In your dreams Nadal might have already won 100GS with atleast 20 each of each of the GS. Unfortunately we cant make it a part of presenting a strong case for Nadal is GOAT discussion. (maybe you will be praised for your logical intuition on rafaelnadal.com but not on an open to all tennis website.

What we can deal with are numbers we have up until now. As of now Nadal has 4FO a bunch of masters series on clay, 1 grass court title and 1hard court title a year the last 2 years. And not to forget he is YET to be no.1. You cant use this to predict what he might do even in the next one year, let alone the next 10yrs. Let nadal win 10 GS and be no.1 for greater than 100 weeks and we can mention him as a GOAT candidate.

“In 5 years he’ll be 27. That’s 4 years younger than Sampras was when he won his 14th slam. Why such an early deadline?”

Sampras’ game was hardly as physical as Nadal’s. Nadal relies a lot more on physical strength than most players. So far he has yet to run a whole calendar year with the consistency that is required of a no.1. Nadal’s success is based heavily on intensity, ambition, motivation and single-minded determination. I have hardly seen him smile on the court. He makes tennis look more work-man like both in attitude and his game on the court. That is a recipe for a burn-out. It would not be a wise move to hold your breath for any slam titles for nadal after a couple more years. More so on the hard courts.


Ra Says:

Fedex,

I agree that Nadal isn’t yet in the GOAT discussion in the here and now. I disagree, however, in your assessment of what is a recipe for a burn-out. It is impossible to judge from the outside what type of competitive approach fuels him most healthfully. His intensity, determination, and lack of smiling during play may very well be the most sustaining, inspiring, and revitalizing route for him.


jane Says:

There is no such thing as a GOAT; it’s illogical. You can’t reasonably compare eras. There are, however, goats, and maybe there are even ghosts, but there is no GOAT. Least that’s my 2 cents on the matter. I prefer to think of it as an on-going list of great players and great achievements.


Ezorra Says:

Goat cannot play tennis…
Hahahahaha!!!

….
….
….

Its not funny huh???

i know…

sorry!


Tejuz Says:

well. Dont agree that Nadal will surpass Fed’s achievements, but he surely deserves to be No 1 by the end of this year. Even though i am huge Fed fan.. i am impressed by the way Nadal has played this year. Especially when he was just a match away from losing his No 2 ranking (twice in 3 weeks).. he has turned it around and is almost close to the No 1. With a lead of 200+ points over the 2nd and 3rd placed players in the Race, he his more of less assured of No 1 ranking.

Anyway.. Lets see how Fed fends off Nadal’s challenge at Wimby finals this year. It might be a anti-climax like the French Open with Fed winning in straight sets or it might go the full distance.


Federer is an old man in tennis term Says:

Comparing him as a Goat! It means that his career would soon be over soon! I doubt that he would ever wins the French. Some new clay experts will be coming out in the next or two. That would makes it difficult to Federer. He can’t even beat Stefanek at the Italian Open. And Federer gonna has alot to depend to the US Open. His number 1 ranking will be gone very easily!


Federer No Goat Says:

Lets hope that, Safin’s game is on. He could does really damage to Federer, when his serve is on. Well, he might be able to beat Roger. But I hope that he gave Roger a really tough time for their semi. Then if Federer in the final, he would be really really tired. Anyway, lets hope that Safin could beats him. If Mardy Fish could swallowed Federer this year. Safin could does it, too!


JCF's papa Says:

Don’t you dare mess with my son! lol


Fedex Says:

“Rafa’s the real deal here and I’ll even say it again, while so many have been looking at Mr. Federer as the GOAT, keep an eye on Rafa. In five years time who knows.”

You just got “Bradded” by Gilbert, Sean. He just said on espn that he thinks in 5yrs, nadal will hav 15-16GS and people may be talking of nadal as the all time best and not Federer!

I still think Nadal has to do a lot of work to be bestowed with that honor, especially since he has done next to nothing on hardcourts and always seems to be playing with an injury when on hardcourts.


Sean Randall Says:

RogNadFan, not sure what has you so miffed?

Fedex, sorry I missed getting “bradded”. 15-16GS sounds a bit much.

Rogers Twin, I just fix Dinara’s name. Happy now?


Rognadfan Says:

Sean, infact nothing that serious. Just could not ag ree with you being skeptical of the fact that “Fed is GOAT”

To me, Nadal is still miles behind than Roger? It seem pretty logical to doubt that Nadal will rein like Fed.He’s been trying to be the No.1 for such a long time and has failed.Its because he is still not among the best at grass and hard courts. Don’t you think?


PJ Says:

Nadal is certainly the number 1 (along with Djokovic) for the first half of the year (other than being a huge Fed fan, it’ll be exciting to have the top 3 all with 1 slam should Roger win Wimbledon). Rafa, though, has never had a great second half of the year. If he can find a way to continue what he does in the first half of the year in the second half, there’s no reason he can’t be number 1.


Kroll Says:

Talk of Nadal being a future GOAT is premature to say the least and something I would have never given him a shot at till last year. But after seeing where he has taken his game to in RG and Wimby now, I think its a good possibility. Fed has been winning well at wimby for the past few years and winning well but Rafa’s performance at RG this year is vastly more impressive. He’s actually improving on clay and he’s been working on it. I had some doubts about Rafa’s ability to be a great grasscourter till last year. There was no question of his being good on the surface with two final performances but this year he has taken that to a completely different level. I have been stunned by the changes he’s bought to his game with the net-play and slice, the latter shot being as good as Fed’s. I think the biggest thing that Rafa has shown is his ability to improve and I think thats to do with his singular determination and initiative. Even his physique is a case in the point to the amount of effort he puts in training.

If he wins wimby this year, we ll know that he can dominate RG and Wimby like Borg did. But I also think he has a good shot at winning a few US open titls, if he can transfer his agression to hardcourts.


Tejuz Says:

well.. After reaching the finals.. Fed is clearly ahead of Djoker in the ATP race this year. At one pouit he was around 300 points behind Djoker. So clearly Nadal and Fed are the No 1 and 2 players this year. Djoker comes a close 3.

Well.. Safin played well in parts, but never really threatened Fed’s serve (second serves especially). Fed also dint have a great match.. he held his serve well.. and played the big points well.. but he dint look all that comfortable though. The way Nadal is outplaying against Scheuttler now.. Fed will have to pick up his game but quite a few notches. His backhand cross-court slices are going to be eaten alive by Nadal. Somehow i give Nadal more than 50% to win againt Fed in the final.. even though i am a big Fed-fan.


jane Says:

Fed’s been impressive getting to the finals without dropping a set. But I agree that Safin didn’t play as well as he could’ve; he can be a great returner but wasn’t effective against Roger.

Rafa slumped in the second set, made some errors, some weak returns, and stood too far behind the baseline (again!), but STILL he came back and won the set. Something about his shoes? Hopefully he doesn’t have blisters or knee problems. That would take the luster off the final.

Anyhow, I hope it’s a competitive final like last year…


Sean Randall Says:

RogNadFan, yes Rafa is miles behind Roger right now in terms of GOAT. However, looking beyond one never knows. If Rafa wins Sunday I think that changes things.

Let me ask you a simple question, who has a better chance of winning all four? Roger or Rafa? I think Rafa.


Kroll Says:

“…. and stood too far behind the baseline tr(again!),”

Yeah, that seems to be his base state, one he returns to when not in control or when he’s nervy. Its going to be a while before he aggression becomes part of his natural game. Maybe then he’ll have a chance at hardcourts.

And Safin never really had a chance this time around. As you mentioned he was hardly playing at his best, though it might well be the start of something good.


jane Says:

Kroll,

I think it comes from clay, that far-back stance Rafa seems to innately adopt. But we know that if anyone can change, improve, adapt, survive, it’s Rafa. Look how much he’s evolved already; he’s got such a good attitude about that.


Von Says:

Could that hyper-extension of Nadal’s knee in his match v. Youzhny be more serious than we’re led to believe? He didn’t look very sharp today — very flat-footed and tired. If his leg is indeed injured, then the final will be sadly, somewhat of a deja vu ’07 final.

Safin was on one of his ‘out to lunch’ scenarios today. I would have liked to see him play more compeitively and aggressively. He was visibly frustrated with his poor performance. Anyway, he nade a good run at Wimby, and hopefully this renewed zest for winning will take root.


Rognadfan Says:

Sean, again, same thing, whoe knows what will come in next five years.

Defenitely Rafa has a greater chance, it has become evedent as fed is in the second half of his career while rafa is in early first half. But, when you say ‘who knows what will happen in next 5 years’, it boomerangs, who knows, may be Rafa’s knees might prevent him to play, or he will win consecutive 5 hard court slams or may not even reach the semis in AO or Uo.

Anyway, rafa seems a lot stronger than fed now
And I agree with you RAfa has better chance to win at least this wimby, in once case if Fed doesn’t serve well.
Otherwise he will do it for the sixth time.
You must have noticed todays Rafa’s second set. He won, but that wasn’t good.
And Roger won’t miss to convert that into a set unlike Schlutter.


Smith Says:

Rafa needs to start doing better at the U.S. Open and during the summer hardcourt season before he belongs in any GOAT discussions. He made some positive steps in finally reaching his first Aussie semifinal earlier this year but he was utterly exposed by Tsonga. He hasn’t made it past the quarters of the U.S. Open either.

Until he reaches an Aussie final or gets closer to a U.S. Open title he has no business being in the GOAT discussion. Of course Rafa always seems to be injured whenever the hardcourt tournaments come up – he kills himself trying to win Wimbledon and it screws him up for the rest of the year. I just get the feeling he doesn’t care as much about the U.S. Open or the Australian Open as he does about the French and Wimbledon. JMHO.

I agree that to call him a clay-court “specialist” is ridiculous, but that is the presumption of many sportscasters and talking heads. Until he does better in the hardcourt slams that perception will never get off his back. Right now, to put him in the same boat with Federer is ludicrous.

Today’s semifinals were very meh to say the least. Safin was just plain bad, Fed wasn’t much better, and Scheuttler had his chances but couldn’t capitalize.

Maybe I’m being a bad fan here, but I am actually getting tired of Fed-Nadal matches. I’m seriously thinking about skipping both finals this weekend.


jane Says:

Smith,

“Maybe I’m being a bad fan here, but I am actually getting tired of Fed-Nadal matches. I’m seriously thinking about skipping both finals this weekend.”

I don’t think you’re being a “bad” fan, just an honest one, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I am definitely skipping the Williams sister final – don’t really like either of them, but since one has to win, I hope it’s Venus.

I know what you mean about getting tired of Fed-Rafa finals; I feel the same way. Of course, they are both great players, and their Wimbledon final last year was great, but I just want to see some new faces winning the slams.

I actually liked the last few Rafa vs. Djoko matches I’ve seen: Hamburg, RG and Queens.

Change is good! I hope Gulbis keeps moving on up and that Murray figures out a way to harness all that variety and talent in his game. Some new people in the top ten, who will really try to fight Fed and Rafa, besides just Djoko and Roddick, would be good. Someone who could win a slam and get up points-wise; that’d be good for the sport, imo.


Smith Says:

Hi jane, thanks for the comments. I always feel like a heretic when I say things like that and when I’ve made statements like that in the past people act as though I swore against the Pope lol.

I think it might be interesting to see a Fed-Nadal final at either the Aussie Open or the USO just to break the clay-grass tie, but I really do want new faces to start winning Slams on the men’s side. We’ve only had two Slam finals in the past three years that haven’t had either Fed or Rafa in the final.

I agree with you on Gulbis and Murray. Djokovic has been somewhat of a buffer between all Fed-Nadal finals but we need the other young talent to step up as well. It’s almost as if these guys go out on court and don’t even think they can win against the Big Two.

Agree on the women’s final – I won’t watch but I would prefer to see Venus win. This is the only Slam where she can win anymore, so let her have this one I say.

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