Tennis-X Weekend Wrap: Chang Engaged, Roddick Hurt
by Staff | July 14th, 2008, 10:30 am
  • 125 Comments

MERCEDES CUP
Stuttgart, Germany

Argen-teen Juan Martin del Potro wins his first career title at the expense of headcase Richard Gasquet, defeating the Frenchman 6-4, 7-5. The 19-year-old joins other 2008 first-time winners Kei Nishikori (Delray Beach), Sergiy Stakhovsky (Zagreb), Sam Querrey (Las Vegas), Marcel Granollers (Houston) and Victor Hanescu (Gstaad), and received a brand new white Mercedes-Benz SLK 350.


In the all-German doubles final, fourth seeds Christopher Kas and Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Michael Berrer and Mischa Zverev 6-3, 6-4.

CATELLA SWEDISH OPEN
Bastad, Sweden

No. 3 seed Tommy Robredo repeated his past success in Bastad for his first title of the season, easing past injured No. 4 Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-1. “I felt something in my knee in the sixth game of the match when I was down 3-2,” Berdych said. “I’m not sure what is this pain but since I just came back from an ankle injury I was afraid to force too much. The crowd was amazing today so I didn’t want to retire without trying.”

In the doubles final the homecountry Jonas Bjorkman won his seventh Bastad title, partnering Robin Soderling to ease by Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-2, 6-2. “The standing ovation after the match was fantastic,” said the 36-year-old Bjorkman, who will retire at the end of the year. “I had to swallow hard a few times. I’m usually a very emotional person and I was very moved. I even forgot to do my signature Brussels step.”

ALLIANZ SUISSE OPEN
Gstaad, Switzerland

Romanian Victor Hanescu, who saved match points earlier in the event, defeated No. 7-seeded Russian Igor Andreev 6-3, 6-4 for his first career title. He became the first Romanian since Ilie Nastase in 1973 to capture the Allianz Suisse Open Gstaad title.

In the doubles final, No. 4 seeds Jaroslav Levinsky of the Czech Republic and Filip Polasek of the Slovak Republic clinched their first title with a 3-6, 6-2, 11-9 win over the Swiss duo of Stephane Bohli and Stanislas Wawrinka.

CAMPBELL’S HALL OF FAME TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.A

Frenchman Fabrice successfully defended his Newport title with a 6-3, 7-5 win over first-time tour finalist Prakash Amritraj of India. Santoro joined Bryan Shelton (1991-92) and Greg Rusedski (2004-05) as repeat winners in Newport.

The 35-year-old is the eighth oldest ATP singles champion since 1980. In the doubles final Americans Mardy Fish and John Isner defeated Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi 6-4, 7-6(1) to win their first title as a team.

TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
So 36-year-old Michael Chang is engaged to married to 24-year-old WTA player Amber Liu, who he is coaching? Go Michael! Now they’ll have to cancel pre-production for the 40-Year-Old Virgin II….

World No. 1 Rafae…, oops, Roger Federer, and soon-to-be world No. 1 Rafael Nadal sent the Wimbledon ratings through the roof with their longest final in Wimbledon history. In Britain roughly half the televisions in existence were tuned to the match, and in the U.S., NBC saw a 44 percent increase over last year’s Federer-Nadal final, and the best overnight rating since Pete Sampras-Patrick Rafter in 2000. Despite the 9 a.m. ET start, Wimbledon was the highest-rated, non-primetime sports program of the weekend in the U.S…

Rogers Cup/Masters Series-Canada Tournament Director Karl Hale writing for the Toronto Sun: “I must admit, when the abbreviated summer schedule was produced to factor in the Olympic Games, I wasn’t sure what that would mean for our tournament. However, the momentum from a dream Wimbledon has translated into record ticket sales. The men of the ATP are enjoying popularity not felt in more than a decade…It’s only fitting that a city described as a cultural mosaic is the unofficial sendoff to the Olympic stage.”…

Where were the cameras at Wimbledon when Julia Vakulenko of the Ukraine wore a belted Nike jacket (aka Serena Williams) while warming up before her second round match against Flavia Pennetta?…

From Reuters on Rafael Nadal still being ranked No. 2 after winning the French and Wimbledon: “If the computer does not reflect what everyone else can see, its authenticity could soon be questioned, especially since Nadal’s haul of six titles in 2008 includes two Grand Slams and two Masters Series events. Federer in comparison has won two low-key events but still leads his Spanish tormentor by 545 points in the ATP standings.” — Or, you could not be an idiot and investigate that the rankings run on a 12-month cycle, and realize that Rafa is almost guaranteed to become No. 1 by the US Open. Take it easy there non-tennis writer assigned to cover Wimbledon…

Daniel Nestor’s Wimbledon doubles title gave him the “Golden Slam,” all four Slam titles during his career to go with his Olympic gold medal. He joins Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde of Australia as the only men to win the Golden Slam. “Wimbledon has the most history and tradition of any tournament,” said the 35-year-old Nestor. “Being the only Canadian to win, it is very special.”…

Steve & Barry’s sportswear, the carrier of Venus William’s EleVen line of tennis clothes, is facing hard times and possible liquidation according to Women’s Wear Daily. The once-red-hot chain specializing in trendy sportswear at low prices prices…

The Russell Simmons Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation is sponsoring their ninth annual Art for Life event in East Hampton on July 19th, and charitybuzz.com is hosting an online auction to help raise awareness and money with a “special Serena Williams experience,” including a one-hour tennis lesson for one person with Serena Williams. Date and location to be based on Ms. Williams’ schedule. The direct link to the auction page can be found on the charitybuzz website at: https://auction01.charitybuzz.com/secure/viewItemDetail.do?auction_item_id=75191

German Nicolas Kiefer pulled from Gstaad with a foot injury…

The Fairmont Tamarack, a luxury hotel and residence development in the mountains of Idaho with Andre Agassi as an investor, has had its developers file for bankruptcy protection…

Andy Roddick pulled from his World TeamTennis match in St. Louis, citing a “lingering injury” but would not specify. “Due to the same injury that I’ve been rehabbing since mid-May, I’m seeing a specialist and have been advised not to travel,” Roddick said in a statement. Sounds like a back injury to us…


Also Check Out:
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Maria Sharapova Engaged to Boyfriend Sasha Vujacic?
Martina Hingis Engaged to Swiss Lawyer!
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125 Comments for Tennis-X Weekend Wrap: Chang Engaged, Roddick Hurt

zola Says:

Staff:
***Or, you could not be an idiot and investigate that the rankings run on a 12-month cycle, and realize that Rafa is almost guaranteed to become No. 1 by the US Open. Take it easy there non-tennis writer assigned to cover Wimbledon…****

I wouldn’t say Rafa is guaranteed No 1 by the US Open, but this was such a funny statement…

***non-tennis writer assigned to cover Wimbledon…****

loved it! .:)

what’s up with Roddick? why the secrecy? I hope the back injury is not serious.


RZ Says:

There was no need for that joke about Michael Chang. That was tasteless.


prince49 Says:

that Chang comment is hillarious .. rofl ..


Gordo Says:

Let’s take a close look at Nadal and Federer’s points and what needs to happen for #2 to change places with #1 -

Right now (July14)both men have the following points:
FEDERER – 6600 NADAL – 6055

This time next week neither man will have played, BUT Nadal, by not defending the Stuttgart title he won last year, will lose 250 points. Then we will have:
FEDERER – 6600 NADAL – 5805

Next tournament for both is Canada, where Federer, as the runner up (to Djokovic) is defending 350 points. Nadal made the semis and so he is defending 225 points.

SCENARIO A – Federer beats Nadal in the Final. This would give Federer +150 points and Nadal +125 points. Not much difference. They would then be at FEDERER – 6750 NADAL – 5930

SCENARIO B – Nadal beats Federer in the Final.
This would keep Federer the same and Nadal would gain 275 points. They would then be at FEDERER – 6600 NADAL – 6080

Now we head into Cincinnati, where Federer won last year and Nadal was bumped out in the round of 32. The Spaniard is only defending 5 points, so here is his chance. Let’s see if both men again make the finals and let’s carry on the assumptions from the earlier scenarios -

SCENARIO A- Federer beats Nadal in the final, following up on his Canada win. Then Federer stays the same at 6750 and Nadal improves by 345 points to 6275.

However -

SCENARIO B- Nadal beats Federer in the final, following up on his Canada win. Then Federer loses 150 points and drops to 6450, while Nadal gains 495 points and at 6575 would become the new number 1.

So – it is possible, if Nadal were to beat Federer in both of the finals at Canada and Cincinnati that he could be ranked #1. Out of the two men however I think Federer is the one more likely to go further in both tournaments.

Because of the shifting of the tournaments to accommodate the Olympics, points from Canada and then Cincinnati will be added for 2008 a week before the 2007 points are subtracted.

One thing to remember about the Olympics – this event will count in the ATP ranking system as a tournament. Nadal has 75 points in his 5th best appearance over the past 12 months outside of the 4 slams and the 9 masters (Dubai – 08), so 75 points will be subtracted from whatever points Nadal gets at the Olympics (assuming he gets more than 75 points).

Federer meanwhile has 2 tournaments still to add to his 12 month rotating total, so he will have all his points from the Olympics added to his rankings total.

My guess is that is is unlikely that Nadal can overtake Federer before the US Open.

Sorry for the rambling speculation, but the numbers are tricky sometimes and I just wanted to spell it all out for those of you who have already stripped Federer of his crown. It still may happen, but if Federer has a hard court season like last year then Nadal is going to have to have a hard court season like he has never had before, and one that his knees may not allow.


Gordo Says:

An update to the above. When Nadal loses his points from Stuttgart he will have his round of 16 results added in from Rotterdam (Feb ’08), so in all of the scenarios above add 25 points to Nadal’s scores. This also means it will be 25 points (not 75) subtracted from any Olympic points he earns. Sorry about that – G.


zola Says:

Gordo,
thanks a lot for the analysis. I think too, that it will be tricky for Rafa to be No 1 before US Open. Unless he goes very deep ( semis and better) and Roger loses early. Right now, that’s a bit far off of a scenario.


JCF Says:

Gordo

“My guess is that is is unlikely that Nadal can overtake Federer before the US Open.”

All your math assumes Federer will either make the finals or win these tournaments. You haven’t considered the possibility that someone else might beat him before then, such as Djokovic for instance… It’s only 225 points for semi finals position, compared to 350 for finals, and 500 for winning the title.

He’s been beaten at the AMS this year by people you would not have thought of, such as Stepanek, Roddick, and Fish, so anything goes. Murray is another guy who’s beaten him this year and I could think of a few others who could be potential upsetters.

I think the first thing Fed will do when he sees his draws is look which side Djokovic lands in. I think if those two were to have a rematch at the US Open, my money would be on Djokovic. He’s improved since a year ago, while Fed has not.


NachoF Says:

Djokovic has improved? really?… I gotta say I have not been impressed by any of his performances this year at all…. Like I have read several times before on this site, his only achievement is to have beaten Mono-Federer…. and Im almost positive that Federer is gonna destroy him next time they play.


Noel Says:

I agree completely with JCF.It is not in Fed’s control any more and the hard court season is not as clear cut as Fed meeting Rafa in the final.Fed will have to play extremely well accompanied by poor performances from Rafa.Both these scenarios appear unlikely given the trend this year so far.I guess the key is Rafa’s knee.Rafa normally pays the price for his busy and extremely successful campaign up to wimby in the second part of the hard court season.If he remains reasonably injury-free,he should take over sooner rather than later because his game appears improved enough to make him a consistently serious threat on hard courts also.A lot of other players will also come more into the equation as compared to the clay and grass season and take heart from the fact that at least in the past,Rafa has not been as successful on hard courts as on the other surfaces. Fed has had a hugely disappointing season on hard courts.Nole,Rod,Murray,Davy,Blake among others are all very capable players.In fact,the hard court season opened up a bit last year and it promises to be even more open this year.As JCF says,both Fed and Rafa will need to avoid Nole in particular in their parts of the draw.I think Nole will be the player to beat in the season up to and including the us open.That early wimby loss may well prove to be a blessing in disguise.He should be well rested and raring to go.


NachoF Says:

I think we are still very far away from the day that Blake beats Federer on any surface….


zola Says:

***NachoF Says:
I think we are still very far away from the day that Blake beats Federer on any surface….***

Exactly! I actually think that day may never come unless Fed has a health issue or something.


Noel Says:

Fed has lost to lower-ranked players like Fish and stepanek this year.Fish had 34% first serves and yet he beat Fed.He lost to Canas(twice)and Volandri last year.Anyone can have a bad day including the mighty swiss.It is to his credit that he has been good enough for most players even on slightly off days but that ability has not been on display in quite a few matches in the instances i just cited.Besides,I never asserted that Blake is definitely going to beat him.If Fed regains his touch,he may well go undefeated for the rest of the year but that is highly unlikely given the trend this year.He could not reach even a single hard court final early this year and looked strangely ‘vulnerable’ for some reason(health or otherwise).He could well do much better than that in the rest of the year but his period of hard court invincibility ended sometime early last year.Btw,I wonder why only Blake is deemed incapable of beating Fed?Davy also has never beaten him afaik.


Noel Says:

“and Im almost positive that Federer is gonna destroy him next time they play.”

While either player can ‘destroy’ the other under certain conditions,I will never make such a statement one way or the other.Given the levels they are at,I’d always expect a tough encounter on any surface with the player winning the crunch points on a particular day winning the match.Nole will be my favorite on a very fast hard court and Fed on grass and clay so far as their rivalry is concerned.


Dan Martin Says:

Djokovic has had a great year even if he losses every match between now and Dec. 31, 2008 – Aussie Open title, Indian Wells Title, Rome title, semifinals in Dubai, Hamburg, Monte Carlo, & Paris. Runner-up at Queen’s Club. If that is not impressive, I am not sure what is.


NachoF Says:

If he lost every match from now till Dec. it would be a much worse year than 2007 for him.


Fedex Says:

How about Monte carlo, Hamburg, FO, Queens and Wimbledon, semi-finals at Indian wells, and finals at miami? I am sure that sounds more impressive. While a 1 slam-year is a great year, the ridiculous standards Federer and Rafa have set mean that a year without multiple slams is just a good year and not a great year.

You are only as good as your last match and Djokovic losing all the matches from now till end of year means he will lose all the momentum he has built up since the beginning of 2007. That is a tough pill for anyone to swallow, let alone one with as big a head as Djokovic. Any top 5 player who fails to win a single match during a 4month period with no apparent fitness issue deserves to be executed.


Daniel Says:

In last 4 years Fed always won either Canada or Cincy, and last year even with his losts in the beggining of the year he bouced back in second half. I will expect the same thing this year.

His level of play since Halle and Wimbledon was excelent (apart the final where Nadal avoid Fed to be Fed), and he is in his usual final streaks, 4 for him and 4 for Nadal, and even with Nadal’s actual level Fed still has a little advantage to make harcourts final in MS.

But I don’t dismiss Gordo scenarios, I just think we have to add Djoko, and which side off the draw he will be. I don’t see Nadal winning against Djoko in hard the way he done the last 3 time they met.


jane Says:

“You are only as good as your last match”

Really? Seems to me a rather drastic statement to make, given that every player can have off days.

Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t think Dan Martin’s statement “even if he losses every match between now and Dec. 31, 2008″ was meant to be taken literally. I though he was simply trying to emphasize what Novak has already accomplished this year, besides his early exit Wimbledon against Safin – he has had a few other early losses, but he made up for those by going deeper in almost every other tournament he played.

Anyhow, I agree with JCF & noel – the hardcourt season is more open than boiling things down to a Fed v. Rafa scenario as there are a number of other players (including but besides Djokovic) who could do some damage on this surface. Guess we’ll have to wait another week and see.


zola Says:

I think it depends a lot on Fed’s state of mind. He has the game to kill anyone on hard courts and he knows it. Maybe the first part of the year with mono, pressure of the FO, etc., things were a bit different. Now it is a matter of honor for him to redeem himself. I don’t expect a medicore Federer. Either a mentally destroyed one who will go away very quickly ( and that’s very unlikely), or a determined Federer, willing to stamp his authority and defend his title. He .He said in an interview that he will try to win Olympic Gold and US Open title “and then you will see!”…that’s how hurt he is and “hurt” can be dangerous!

Rafa if healthy, will try his best too. He is full of confidence and has had an extra week of rest. Djoko is a big question mark. He pushes himself beyond his own limits and that’s why he burns out so easily. If that’s not the case in Toronto, the tournament will be interesting. If not, it will be Fed-Rafa again and in fact Gordo’s scenarios might be right.

well, all in all, very interesting tennis year. Thanks Rafa and Thanks Fed.


MattBryan Says:

LOL@Staff’s rankings prognosis. These guys never studied math in high school I guess and to rephrase Mr. Clinton: “It is math, stupid”.

But seriously prob with these guys is that they never do their homework, they are just Rafa KADs and revel in that.


Dan_M Says:

Jane, Thanks. Roger Federer, as my columns have openly stated, is my favorite player of all time. I also like Nadal and Djokovic (I like watching other players on tour too). Both guys bring a lot to the sport and play an exciting brand of tennis. I remember at TMS Miami 2007 watching Djokovic and just thinking “This guy is really impressive.”

To me winning 2 Masters Series titles, beating 3 time Aussie Open Champion and World #1 Federer en route to a Grand Slam title, and having solid showings elsewhere is impressive to me.


Gordo Says:

Nice comments from everyone in here.

When I posted my two scenarios yesterday I only did the “what ifs” based on Roger and Rafa getting to the finals of both Canada and Cincinnati. I am not certain of this happening, but to do additional calculations would have turned my entry into an accounting exercise and would have tested everyone’s scrolling ability.

However I have a hunch – and this is not a brash prediction, but just a hunch – that it wasn’t just every tennis fan of the sport who was blown away by that Wimbledon final. I think every player on the ATP tour – including Djokovic – has cause for concern.

And we are about to learn what Roger Federer is made of. If he is indeed to be considered in years to come as possibly the greatest of all time then I suspect he is going to have a hard court similar to 2006. That was the year he won Canada, lost to Murray in Cincinnati, and then went on the 4th longest winning streak ever – 41 matches.

And as phenomenal as Rafa has played, he still in my mind is just one of the good ones on hard courts. He is not defending a single non clay or grass title in the next 12 months! Here are his results to defend for your information, in calendar order:

CANADA – Semi-finalist
CINCINNATI – Round of 32
U.S. OPEN – Round of 16
MADRID – Quarter Finalist
PARIS – Runner Up
MASTERS CUP – Semi-finalist
CHENNAI – Runner Up
DUBAI – Quarter Finalist
INDIAN WELLS – Semi-finalist
MIAMI – Runner-Up

Good, but not other-worldly. I hope all the “how can Nadal not be number one?” questioners will take a good look at this.


zero Says:

Rafa will compete with full of confidence, that’s very important for a guy like him. When he’s confident about his hard court game, he can beat anyone. Like 2 years ago, no one believed Nadal can capture Roland Garros – WImbledon back-to-back, that sounds very very impressive, no? I hope Nadal will improve his footwork on hard court, he will be more stronger with a better movement.


jane Says:

Rafa’s big issue on hardcourts is court positioning. If he steps in and plays aggressively, he will always be more effective. His topspin doesn’t have the same effect as well, and so he’ll have to try other techniques – hit harder and flatter. But his improved serve will definitely help him this year.

zola & Gordo, I totally appreciate your comments, but I think more players than Rafa & Fed should be “thanked” for the exciting season we’ve seen so far, notwithstanding their great Wimbledon final, of course. And while Roger may be after redemption on hard courts, supposedly he was after the same (or so the press/pundits told us) after the FO rout. But he didn’t get it. There was a good chance that Rafa could’ve won the thing in 3 sets even, and Roger hadn’t beaten on grass in how long? Well he has been beaten on hard courts – a number of times last year and a number of times this year. So to think he’ll sweep the hardcourt season isn’t going on trend anyhow. Maybe it’ll happen, but it’s not the way it has been playing out. As for Rafa, he made some inroads on hard at the beginning of this year, but we know his knees can plague him somewhat in the latter part of the year. Hopefully opting out of Stuggart will work to his advantage in that regard.

Looking forward (besides the top three), hardcourts are a surface on which a number of young players (Gulbis, Cillic, Murray) and some “veterans” (Safin, Roddick, Blake) might be able to make their mark. There are also “uncertain” players, like Gasquet, Nalbandian, Berdych, Verdasco, Ferrer, maybe Davydenko, who could rise up at this time of year. And the new, big servers – Karlovic, Isner.

So I still say hardcourts are more open than assuming we’ll always have the final match ups we might “expect”. Last year, Novak rose up and knocked off Roddick, then Rafa, then Fed to win Canada. This year it could be someone else.


Von Says:

We hold these truths to be undeniable/self-evident ….

From experential learning we have come to understand that to state someone would or could ‘never’ attain a coveted prize is somewhat of a moot argument, since this invariably turns out to be quite the opposite. Hence, to state that Blake will ‘never’ beat Federer could also prove to be meaningless and/or moot. If the first half of this year is a prognostication of what the second half will reveal, then we’re in for some eye-opening revelations, aren’t we?. Who would have thought that Mardy Fish, serving at 38% would beat Federer? NADA. Additionally, Andy Roddick, who has come so close but no cigar on many occasions, did the unthinkable — he beat Federer, this year. How could that happen? Roddick believed that if Fish could do it, why can’t he. Now, considering the foregoing, can we say that Blake will ‘never’ beat Federer? I don’t think so. There have been occasions where Blake played some close sets v. Fed, however, Fed got the upper hand and won, due to Blake’s nervousness and/or self-belief that he could beat Fed, or Fed being the better player on that given day. At times Blake looked like a potted plant! I still feel that Blake could beat Federer, if he thinks he can, and we most probably will witness that happening during a hardcourt season.

____________

JCF:

“I think the first thing Fed will do when he sees his draws is look which side Djokovic lands in.”

Absolutely. Djoko is uncanny in his remarks toward Fed. He has now become somewhat of a miniscule chip reverberating inside Fed’s head due to his vociferous taunts, etc., coupled with his AO win. Djoko is cognizant of the negative effects of his statements blossoming in Fed’s mind. Irregardless, of what others think or say, if something is said or done repeatedly (OCD :) ) and there’s a metamorphism, e.g., Djoko beat Fed on a hardcourt, the conditioned response manifests itself. The hardcourt season has begun for the second half of the year, I’d say this thought would be uppermost in Fed’s mind. Additionally, if Djoko continues with his braggadocio, who knows how much further it will affect Fed in his present low state of confidence?

Much has been written on prior threads concerning Fed phobia and its effects on other players, and many have denied that such a thing exists. Albeit, a phobia is a state of mind, we refuse to accept the unthinkable, but how can we know what thoughts are swirling around in another’s head? In the past the Fed phobia was so obvious in many players; Fed won his matches in the locker room. However, that has now changed to a certain extent with his repeated losses this year, and Fed who was thought of as invincible or infallible, has demonstrated that he can fall and err in the crucial moments. The Fed phobia will still be present in most players’ minds (those whom he has repeatedly beaten), but the younger players are not that prone to such thinking, e.g., Murray, Djoko, Nadal and possibly, jane’s, new up and comer, Gulbis, whose game is sizzling at the present time. The younger players are akin to kids in the water — venturing where others fear to tread — fearless.

Nadal, through his tenacity, and repeated wins over Fed, has placed a phobia in Fed’s head, and now some are stating and/or believing that there is indeed a Nadal phobia with which Fed has to contend. On a parallel, if there can be a Nadal phobia happening to Fed, why is it not true for the reverse, Fed v. other players, a Fed phobia?

To reiterate my previous statement, this year we will have some eye-opening revelations, but only time will tell …


Noel Says:

Jane,
You are spot on about that court positioning issue for rafa.He looked the best in that department on both clay and grass this year and I get the feeling that he won’t be too far off on hard courts either.I have posted on other threads about the improvements in rafa’s game and its implications for his hard court season.Some of Rafa’s displays at wimby-most notably in the Murray match-left no doubt in my mind that Rafa and his uncle have been working very hard at an aggressive playing style closer to the baseline which is ideally suited for hard courts.I understand it is not easy to play so aggressively and yet so accurately all the time.If I were to take that match as an indicator,the only ‘downside’ of the risky and aggressive approach was the slightly lower first serve percentage.His shots were still remarkably accurate.I know that the amount of top spin may go down as well but according to an itf study,Rafa imparts almost twice as much spin on his shots than any other player on tour.Therefore,his shots still will be pretty heavy even if the rpm comes down a bit.What Murray said in the post-qf interview was an eye-opener.He said that Rafa’s shots felt as heavy as ever despite rafa’s much flatter and lower ground stokes.Of course,it remains to be seen if Rafa can execute it that well on a regular enough basis and only time will tell if this will be sufficient against the best hard court players. Imho,he has shown that he has the tools to play very aggressively and is on the right track.Hence my more optimistic outlook for his hard court season.I’d love to see him more often in his new aggressive ‘avatar’ on the hard courts and how he responds to the obvious tactic employed against him i.e.relentlessly attacking his fh side with deep and very flat groundies esp inside-out forehands.


Von Says:

Noel: “Rafa imparts almost twice as much spin on his shots than any other player on tour.”

Considering the amount of spin Nadal has to generate for his shots to be effective, wouldn’t it be logical to assume that his shoulder will begin to suffer from this exagggerated motion? I remember some time within the past 12 months, he had a shoulder issue, even though much was not said about it The focus has always been on his knees on hardcourt but eventually we’ll probably see arm problems being manifested.


Von Says:

jane:

“…I think more players than Rafa & Fed should be “thanked” for the exciting season we’ve seen so far,…”

Unquestionably true. Had it not been for some of the other players knocking out Fed beginning with the AO and the tournaments leading up to the FO and Wimby, there would have been a larger gap between Fed and Nadal in points, and the No. 1 spot would not be looming on the horizon and apparently attainable, as it is presently — one hand washes the other. Djoko started the domino effect, followed by Murray, et al. All of them should be given credit for making this year an unpredictable and exciting one.


Noel Says:

Von,
In a ‘normal’ situation,one’d expect a shoulder-or wrist/forearm/elbow to be more specific-to suffer but Rafa is anything but a normal player.I have never seen anyone play such a ‘heavy’ game and it’d obviously suggest that he has been trained to play this way from a very early age.I guess his body has adapted accordingly and given his very visible physical strength,I’d assume that his shoulders/forearm/elbow/wrist are very strong as well.I don’t know if one can easily strengthen one’s knees as compared to one’s shoulder.Probably some forum member who is an expert in this field will enlighten us on the issue.
One thing I do know is that this amount of spin is possible only due to the racquet/strings technology available today.The racquet head size is greater implying a bigger sweet spot.The strings allow you to put more ‘work’ on the ball as the contact time is a wee bit more and as we know, the fear of sending it long has reduced considerably despite taking a very wild swing because of this technology.
A very critical point that is ignored is the weight of the racquet these days and its impact on power and control.these are super light racquets compared to the wooden and even graphite ones.the space-age materials used allow the weight to be low and it becomes ridiculously easy to generate unbelievable racquet head speed while hitting the shot.This would be impossible with the much heavier wooden racquets.All this,combined with rafa’s strength and unique style(some compare it to peeling off the shell of a boiled egg),results in the ‘heavy’ shots that he executes so effortlessly.Since the resistance encountered is much lesser due to a very light racquet,the chances of an injury reduce considerably.IMHO,chances of injury in the lower part of the body are much greater simply because of the way he chases just about everything irrespective of the surface.While he generally moves brilliantly on all surfaces,clay and grass are kinder to the body even though his relentless retrieving did result in a few scary slips on grass this year.The hard courts simply crush virtually all parts of his legs and if he continues to run around as he always does and doesn’t end his points/matches earlier,a chance of an injury is very real.


jane Says:

Noel,

I hope Rafa can, as you put it, adopt the “aggressive avatar” mode on hardcourts too. However, while he did so occasionally on hard earlier this year (ex. against Blake and Tsonga at IW), in other matches he reverted to playing too far behind the baseline. He didn’t play well against Novak at IW (not sure what was up there), he played sub-par and definitely too far back / defensively against Davydenko in the Miami final, and while Tsonga was clearly on fire against Rafa at the AO, Rafa could’ve taken the net away from Jo-Wil at times and he wouldn’t've had to suffer all those volleys and doppers. Djoko did a good job of pushing Tsonga back and taking away the net; Novak’s court positioning on hardcourts is exemplary I think. I’ll bet that Rafa vs. Tsonga match was scouted for him. Speaking of which, it’d be interesting to see Rafa and Novak play on hard again. Rafa had the upperhand in all their clay battles and would love to beat Novak on hardcourts, and yet Djoko would want to maintain that surface upperhand too. It’d be some fireworks, I’d imagine.


jane Says:

Von,

“one hand washes the other. Djoko started the domino effect, followed by Murray, et al. All of them should be given credit for making this year an unpredictable and exciting one.”

Well put – one hand does wash the other but we don’t often think of it that way, looking at things match-by-match, as we tend to.

Speaking of momentum and phobias, there is little doubt that a kind of aura is building around Rafa at the moment, and this might really work to his benefit on hardcourts. As will his likely burgeoning confidence too.

Should be fun to watch it unfold.


Von Says:

Noel:

Thank you for your in-depth discussion. Albeit, the racquets are much lighter and create extraordinary head speed, there have been definitive studies which have indicated that more and more injuries will occur to the arm, wrist, and shoulder, than in the past due to the strings. Apparently, the strings create a vibration up the arm which causes irritation to the nerve endings. For example, Safin hits the ball so very hard and has been plagued with hand injuries. Over the past 2 years there have been many players who have been sidelined with arm and wrist injuries due to the strings, and that number is projected to rise. However, Nadal may be an exception to the rule due to his many physical attributes as you have stated.

There’s not much that can be done for the knee joints when the cartilage begins to wear away, e.g., the synovial fluid dries up, and the cushion effect disappears. However, recently, there have been studies regarding treatments, which have proven to be effective, such as hyaluronic acid, which is a component of the synovial fluid, being administered by injection into the joint, together with oral intake.

Another point worth mentioning regarding Nadal’s game on hardcourt, even though he could remedy his court positioning while playing more aggressively, his serve will always be the weakest part of his game against the hardcourt players. I doubt there’s very much he can do to improve the effectiveness of his serve on hardcourts, considering he’s not a natural lefty server, like Lopez, who can really pack a punch wih his serve. I believe that the natural motion as opposed to an improvised one (righty converted to lefty), will more or less always be the hinderance for him with his serve; but we’ll just have to wait to see what he’ll bring this year. Additionally, the shots he uses on the clay/grass which die, will have the adverse effect on the hardcourts, thus causing long, out shots and more UEs.


tennismonger Says:

At the risk of sounding like one of those equipment geeks that hang out late at night on message boards – is Nadal’s racket really that light? Maybe off the shelf it is, but I’ve heard that if a pro’s stick isn’t customized outright by the manufacturer, it’s at least loaded up w/copious amounts of lead tape to where it DOES approach the weight of those bygone wood frames & that’s one way the pro’s generate the power they do – also I’ve heard that Nadal uses an unusually small grip size as well for some reason.

Personally I hate the newer, lighter frames. If Nadal can do what he does w/a 9-10 oz. racket, I’m even more impressed…


JCF Says:

Von:

“From experential learning we have come to understand that to state someone would or could ‘never’ attain a coveted prize is somewhat of a moot argument, since this invariably turns out to be quite the opposite. Hence, to state that Blake will ‘never’ beat Federer could also prove to be meaningless and/or moot.”

Yeah, I miss being able to say “that will happen the day James Blake wins a 5 set match.”

He’s won a few now and broken that curse. I don’t think he ever figured out what was stopping him in 5 setters, or if it was just coincidence and bad luck.

As far as Rafa’s hard court game… how quickly people forget that he won Indian Wells last year. If he can win titles like that (he beat Roddick and Djoko along the way), he can play on hard. It’s a matter of getting the right opponents and avoiding the wrong ones. There are guys who can beat him, which he’ll be hoping to avoid. I think he has a better shot against Federer than he would against Blake, Roddick or Djokovic for instance. I think he’ll beat Murray and Berdych. Nalbandian is a guy he’d rather avoid, as is Gonzo.


Shital Green Says:

Is this the same Zola we used to see around here years ago?
What, when, where, how…? Speculate the Ws and please respond so that I can say “hi” to you in a proper manner.


Skorocel Says:

Gordo said:

“And as phenomenal as Rafa has played, he still in my mind is just one of the good ones on hard courts. He is not defending a single non clay or grass title in the next 12 months! Here are his results to defend for your information, in calendar order:

CANADA – Semi-finalist
CINCINNATI – Round of 32
U.S. OPEN – Round of 16
MADRID – Quarter Finalist
PARIS – Runner Up
MASTERS CUP – Semi-finalist
CHENNAI – Runner Up
DUBAI – Quarter Finalist
INDIAN WELLS – Semi-finalist
MIAMI – Runner-Up

Good, but not other-worldly. I hope all the “how can Nadal not be number one?” questioners will take a good look at this.”

—————

Gordo, can you do some maths? :} If so, then just compare those Nadal’s points to Fed’s, and you’d realize that Nadal {unless he doesn’t break one of his legs or goes on a total walkabout for the rest of the season) is almost GUARANTEED to become the No. 1 player (in the week after the USO at the very latest}…


Gordo Says:

Skorocel – please read my entry near the top of this blog and you will see I DID do the math.

IF Nadal wins Cincinnati and does better than Federer at the Olympics and if Fed fails to reach the final in Canada then yep Nadal has a chance.

But… “almost GUARANTEED” to become the No.1 ???

As of Monday Fed will have a 770 lead on Rafa – that is slim, but not THAT slim.

Any way we can have a friendly bet on that?


Skorocel Says:

To Gordo:

No problem here :) I (as a big Fed fan} only wish I could be such an optimist re: his ranking :) , but unfortunately, I have to be rather realistic here… That Wimby loss was simply a terrible blow for Fed {without question his worst loss to date!), costing him precious 600 points (which, in current circumstances, is A LOT)… Don’t know about you, but if Nadal won’t be the new No. 1 the week after the UO, then I can indeed say that miracles happen :)


Kevin Says:

Roger Race Pt 685 and Nadal Race Pt 955
(1 Race Pt = 5 Ranking Pt)
Nadal leads 270 pt (Grand Slam 200 pts)

Roger could get more pts at other best 5 tournament, as he only got pts at 2 other tournament up till now. Certainly he will play more Gold Series if he could defend his year end no.1

We could see improvement at Nadal’s game, so even Roger could get his form in time, it is too hard to chase back the 270 pt difference. We will see Roger play more tournament than last
year. It is good for tennis fans to see Roger play hard to keep his position.


zola Says:

Shital ,
that me, the ancient Zola! Hi!

Jane,
what I meant by thanking Roger and RAfa was not to say that other players have no part in the tennis season. But after the Wimbledon final, now the hard courts are more exciting and less predictable.It wasn’t the same say last year or the year before.

About Rafa on hard courts;
RAfa has been tweaking his game and had great reasults in IW and Miami. Now with the confidence from FO/Wimbledon and the pressure of defending his points off his shoulder, he might be more relaxed. He also has one more week off this year ( compared to last year). If he is healthy, I think he will be fine.


jane Says:

zola,

“But after the Wimbledon final, now the hard courts are more exciting and less predictable.”

Fair enough – although I’d say that the beginning of this year already showed us that hard courts will be unpredictable, given the many surprise winners, finalists, etc, early on in the 08 season.


zola Says:

Jane,
one can say that whatever uncertainties Djoko added by winning the AO early this year, were significantly diminished by his early loss in wimbledon. Still we have to see how he performs in Toronto to judge.

no one says other players don’t have a part but the equation is reverse now. Maybe at the beginning of the year it was Djoko’s quest for a No 2 position, but it is now a battle between Rafa and Roger for No 1 and that’s mainly because of the Wimbledon final.


Noel Says:

Von,
I think that the vibration dampeners/absorbers that players use these days take quite a bit of the sting out of the potentially damaging vibrations that you wrote about.In any case,Rafa hits most of his shots very differently and he doesn’t ‘absorb’ as much shock as the other players do.I can accept that it would be very tiring for Rafa’s opponents because they don’t play the sort of amazing top spin that Rafa plays and have to absorb most of the ‘shock’ from Rafa’s ‘heavy’ balls. While I will take your word about those definitive studies only because you are telling me,I will normally be skeptical about anybody isolating players’ arm injuries(including Safin’s) down only to the modern strings.Those injuries could be caused by a variety of factors and I also don’t think players are getting injured more frequently as compared to the 1990s for instance and certainly not due only to the strings.Risk of an injury is generally greater these days simply because the game has never been as physically demanding as it is now.Some players are more injury-prone and some have better playing styles/techniques.Some players’ bodies adapt better;some have much better physical conditioning and some play less and schedule smartly to give their bodies adequate rest to heal minor issues that could become major if not given proper rest……………….so far as the knee is concerned,I was talking more about preventive measures and if there are ways of strengthening it thru training/exercises in the way we can strengthen our shoulder.Although I know that there is precious little that can be done for a worn out cartilage,I didn’t know about the new methods of ‘treating’ it.I thought that knee replacement was the only solution in the extreme cases.I need not have asked for an expert here when you are around.Thanks a lot for sharing the latest in medical research. :)

Your point about Rafa’s serve is well taken so far as his ability to win more free points is concerned.This factor is crucial for Rafa on a hard court because he must shorten his points/matches to avoid taxing his body too much.I also think that he is unlikely ever to serve like a Lopez but he will certainly get some free points with the wide serve from the ad court and the body/kick serve from the deuce court.His average first serve speed was almost as good as Fed at wimby but the percentage was much higher.He is a damn ‘effective’ server.He lost his serve only once as compared to four times for Fed in the final and we keep on talking about how great Fed’s serve is.Fed looked like a fool returning those heavily spun serves.Of course,it is still not a ‘weapon’ for him but once he gets a weak/mishit return,he is normally in a position to take advantage of it.His return game is second to none(except on hard courts) because once he gets into a rally,he becomes the overwhelming favorite to win the point on clay and even grass.However,as you said,only time will tell what all this amounts to in terms of actual results in the hard season.


Noel Says:

Jane,
While I have seen Rafa play aggressively earlier,I don’t recall him playing as aggressively and as well as he did against Murray esp in terms of flatter groundies.Of course it was grass and Murray is not yet a big power hitter. I am taking it more as a recent development and won’t compare it to anything Rafa has done before including the early 2008 hard season.Tsonga’s was a once in a career sort of display in the oz sf much like Gonza’s in the 2007 oz qf.I don’t think anyone could have done much about it.The same Tsonga was nervous in the final and either undercooked or overcooked the shots he played so well in the sf.Combined with better tactics and aggressive play,Nole was able to subdue Tsonga after a nervy start.I will also give credit to Davy for the miami final win vs Rafa despite Rafa’s defensive play.Davy executed his game plan brilliantly.There are very few players who can generate such acute angles on both the fh and bh sides while trying to keep their groundies flat but very short.This made a mockery of Rafa’s court positioning and Davy forced Rafa to move diagonally as well.The russian nay not be charismatic but he can play some wonderful groundies on his day.How I wish he had a better serve!…………I actually think that the IW surface really suits Rafa whose heavily-spun shots really kick off on landing.This allows him to be more aggressive esp with his fh.However,Nole’s movement and positioning on the hard courts are almost in the league of Fed’s in 2006 for instance.I wasn’t surprised that Nole beat Rafa easily in IW because he has all the weapons for the surface.His bh,esp the up the line one,opens up a lot of options for him vs Rafa as compared to Fed’s bh which is not at all effective against Rafa in particular.That is why I wrote about the need for some basic changes in Fed’s game on the thread about the si cover.I wonder if you read that post.

While I will be curious to see Nole play the new avatar Rafa,I still think that despite all the recent improvements in Rafa’s game,Nole should beat him relatively comfortably on a hard court esp a very quick one because on a good day,he will bring much more to the court.Besides,it remains to be seen how confident Rafa is about playing his aggressive game more frequently not only in a tournament but during the duration of a match itself.I won’t be surprised if he reverts back to his default mode at least in the crisis situations in the big matches.


Noel Says:

Von,
“Additionally, the shots he uses on the clay/grass which die, will have the adverse effect on the hardcourts, thus causing long, out shots and more UEs.”
This sentence has me a bit confused.I can understand the ball keeping low on grass but on clay(?).You are probably referring to reduced top spin resulting in shots going long but I would love you to elaborate a bit more.


zola Says:

Noel,
I think RAfa is a confidence player. He used to go to the hard courts season, not only fatigued after the long clay/grass run, but mentally tired after a defeat in Wimbledon. This year his win can be a factor.

So, I will be curious too, to see how he will play on hard courts.


Noel Says:

JCF,
“As far as Rafa’s hard court game… how quickly people forget that he won Indian Wells last year.”
He has also won montreal and madrid ams as well as dubai and beijing in the past.However, IW came more than a year after his dubai win and he hasn’t won a hard court title since then.In any case,we are discussing this more in the context of his performances in the second part of the hard court season.He is normally very good in the first part(ao/iw/miami etc} but is not that fresh for the second half after his grueling clay/grass campaigns.He hasn’t done as well in the us open and certainly is much less consistent on the hard courts.The reason people are talking about his prospects is because he is the form player at the moment.definitely the player of the year and de facto number one.It is natural to wonder if he can take his form-and his new improved game-into the rest of the season esp the us open given his not so great record there.


jane Says:

zola,

“no one says other players don’t have a part but the equation is reverse now. Maybe at the beginning of the year it was Djoko’s quest for a No 2 position, but it is now a battle between Rafa and Roger for No 1 and that’s mainly because of the Wimbledon final.”

Sure – I guess I wasn’t thinking in terms of only “the big three” or rankings 1, 2 and 3 or who will end up holding them year end.

I am talking about potential winners on hardcourts in general. To me, there are many more potential winners than on clay or grass. For example, it’s not unthinkable that Roddick (given his form in Miami, esp his win over Fed), Davydenko (given his win over Rafa at Miami) or even Safin (given his run at Wimbledon) could win a given tournament. Roddick isn’t going to the Olympics; maybe he’ll be more rested for the USO? And as I mentioned before, there are a number of talented youngsters who could upset either Roger or Rafa – especially in 3 set MS events in Canada or Cincinatti – and especially Gulbis, imho.

I am hoping, anyhow, that there is at least some unpredictability throughout the summer/fall hardcourt season.

But you’re right that only time will tell; we’ll have to wait and see how the players do in Toronto. Djoko’s early Wimbledon exit could help him (rested, raring to go) or hurt him (not match ready) – plus Toronto is not the same as Montreal, where he won last year. So we’ll see.


jane Says:

Noel,

Yes, Rafa has been successful at IW because of the high bounce there, and maybe the heat helps that bounce too. But I was surprised nevertheless at how resoundly Novak beat him there this year.

How he performs in this latter part of the year will be exciting to follow, and I agree with you that perhaps his earlier performances on hard in 08 don’t matter much; what matters is now, this later stretch, and whether he can gain points, and step up – literally and figuratively.


Noel Says:

Skorocel,
I agree that the reduction in the gap by those precious 600 points-which could have provided some much-needed cushion- due to Fed’s wimby loss could prove pretty decisive in the end.I’d say that he just couldn’t afford the sloppy hard season he had early in the year given the quality of the chasing pack.He will be under tremendous pressure if he is worried about protecting his rank.Olympics have complicated the situation even more.He plans to play four events including two ams events in the last four weeks of the regular season.I can’t quite recall the last time he played four events in four straight weeks.He is not used to this sort of hectic schedule and I suspect this will have implications for his fitness for basel and/or bercy and could eventually jeopardize his tmc chances as well.
Rafa has to just stay healthy and play steadily and the top rank will surely come his way.Rafa has the theoretical potential to gain more than 3000 points in the rest of the season whereas Fed is defending tons of points and can gain only about 1450 points.The Djoker in this pack has potentially around 2700 points to gain if he sweeps every event that he is scheduled to enter.Therefore Rafa appears the only realistic contender at the moment barring any injury.I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t get it immediately after the us open although he has a chance of getting it ‘officially’ after the Olympics also.Of course,it’d be a bit of a shock to me if Rafa is not able to finish year end number one thereafter.


matt Says:

For Nadal on hard court, confidence is everything.

When he is not confident, his shots stay short, he start playing ten feet behind the baseline and so on.

He learnt playing that way, and there is where he goes when he doesn’t feel confident or when he gets mentally blocked.

It is a curious thing, but it has to do with the way he learnt to play the game.

You don’t see that in other players. For example, when Federer or Djokovic are not confident, they usually start missing shots, but they keep hitting hard, they keep trying to hit good shots.

But because of the way Nadal learnt to play the game, in his mind, an unforced error is the worst thing to do, so when he start missing some shots his mind tend to go to old habits: put the ball in, don’t miss. But that doesn’t work on hard courts.

He has been training hard to change that old habit, and he has shown many times that he can hit hard on hard courts successfully, that he can play inside the baseline and make winners from both wings.

But it doesn’t come naturally for him to do that, he must push himself to do that.

When it is working (as it worked in Indian Wells’07) he can beat anyone on hard courts, but anytime he start missing some shots, something in his mind takes control and makes him go back to old habits.

You may think it is not so difficult to change your old habits, but it is.

You watched it in Wimbledon. In QF against Murray, Nadal played so aggressive, making winners and playing inside the baseline.

But in the SF against Schuettler, Nadal got mentally blocked in the second set and went back to old habit. Stayed 3 metres behind the baseline and only put the ball in the other side.

I get annoyed when he does that, but I realize that it is so deep in his mind and it is not so easy to get rid of it.

What Nadal will we see in Montreal, Cincinnati and the USOPEN?

I really don’t know.

Another issue of course is his bad knees. If it start hurting…..there is nothing he can do.

I think Federer and Djokovic will do well. They still have chances to finish the year as nº1, and they will fight hard to get it.

In fact I believe that Federer is the one who will win the USOPEN, and Djokovic is my second choice.

I don’t pick Nadal because I truly believe he will be hurting in the last stages of the Open (he already has been hurting in Wimbledon) and I don’t pick anyone else. So for me it is Federer or Djokovic in the USOPEN.


zola Says:

Jane,
All I want for Rafa is to improve on last year’s results. Asking for a US Open win is too much. He has to reach at least semis in Toronto and play a ound or two in Cincy and does QF or better in US Open.
My picks are first Roger and then Djoko, but I have to see how everyone plays in Toronto first.

Roddick is the pnly player ( if I am not mistaken) that has beaten the top three this year. I normally would have given him a good chance , especially because he is skipping the Olympis”, but to me he seems very distracted,(maybe his engagement?). Otherwise he would have been on my list too. Safin, I don’t think so. I saw his interview in Wimbledon and he has no confidence in himself. Gulbis, Ancic and maybe Cilic in that order might have chances but I don’t see them winning a tournament this soon. Ah, murray? maybe. Still a long shot.I forgot Wawrinka.

indeed , a few days from now and we will see how things work.


jane Says:

zola,

To tell you the truth, I hope Rafa does better than last year, too, and that he gets the number 1 ranking which I think he deserves for his efforts on clay and grass this year. But I don’t want him to hurt his knees in the process. Last year it was so difficult to watch him play at the USO practically hobbled. I want to see him at his competitive best.

I think with Roddick it’s that back injury from Rome, not necessarily the hottie finance.


zola Says:

Jane,
I hope you ae right about Roddick. He had such a good run before the clay season. Now I am looking at his points and he is in real danger of falling out of top ten. I hope he gets better before US Open.

I feel exactly the same about Rafa. I want him to be healthy more than I want the US Open of No 1 for him, because if he is healthy, he will get there some time.

Last year it was very painful to watch him . We have to see what the toll on his body is this year. But last year he had played Stuttgart, which he skipped this year. Also last year he was emotionally burnt out after that loss in Wimbledon. That will be different this year. So, we have to see.


Ezorra Says:

Berdych, Youzhny and Youzhny are always to be said as major threats to Rafael Nadal. However, who agree if is say that Berdych and Blake is no longer a factor to him on hard court? I don’t know about Youzhny (yes, nadal has successfully beaten him in Wimbledon a month ago, but Nadal lost pretty badly to him in Chennai open too, so…)

And who agree that some of the new talent players (like Gulbis, Isner, Cilic or even Kinishikori) will cause a bigger threat to Nadal as oppose to those 3 players that I’ve mentioned earlier?

And lastly, who agree if I say that based on performance-on-hard court wise, the seeded players in Toronto should be as follow: (1)Djokovic, (2)Federer, (3)Nadal?


Von Says:

Noel:

“This sentence has me a bit confused.I can understand the ball keeping low on grass but on clay(?).You are probably referring to reduced top spin resulting in shots going long but I would love you to elaborate a bit more.”

Sorry about the confusion — I deleted that sentence but my computer was slow in reacting, and it remained. The following is what I meant to say:

Nadal needs to hit the balls flatter, thus denying those agressive players who take the ball early the opportunity of getting to the ball and hitting winners. His shots have a tendency to stay up high in mid court. This is the opposite of his clay court game, where the ball begins to die on its descent to the ground. Additionally, he needs to improve his court positioning by playing on the baseline or even moving into the court where he can take the ball early; this strategy created many opportunities at Wimby for him. I think by so doing, he will have more control over his shots and create more opportunities to hit outright winners, instead of grinding out the points, and/or chasing down every ball. He does not possess the same accuracy to guage the depth of the ball on hardcourt as he has on clay. Therefore, making some simple changes to his game plan, he’ll successfully eliminate over-hitting the ball and causing unforced errors.

(This post is jinxed — I typed it three times tonight and on two occasions it cancelled out.)


Ezorra Says:

Sorry, what I meant were Berdych, Blake and Youzhny… Sorry…


Bob Lewis Says:

Nadal’s recent successes were on clay and grass. He won’t be sliding on hard courts, so we’ll see how it affects his timing relative to that of his competition. The assumption that he has momentum is unwarranted, when the surface changes that much, with others historically more successful than he was.

My other comment is that with Federer’s outstanding play, both mental and physical, at Wimbledon against Nadal, losing by a coin toss, and with his relative strength on hard courts, I think he would also be one with momentum right now. He would also be doubly dangerous when inspired to seek redemption for losing what was apparently for him a franchise.


zola Says:

all very great posts and suggestions here. I can’t wait till Toronto!


Von Says:

“He would also be doubly dangerous when inspired to seek redemption for losing what was apparently for him a franchise.”

I almost feel sorry for the first opponent Fed faces when next he plays. That guy will take the brunt of the unleashing of all of Fed’s frustrations and anger over the last 3 months. Fed will want to make a huge statement, and his opponent will be faced with a gargantuan task of keeping up with him or even winning a game/point. Fed will probably finish off his opponent 6-0; 6-0, in surgical, laser-like manner. Maybe some white flags should be given to the players he meets before the QFs.


JCF Says:

“We could see improvement at Nadal’s game, so even Roger could get his form in time, it is too hard to chase back the 270 pt difference. We will see Roger play more tournament than last
year. It is good for tennis fans to see Roger play hard to keep his position.”

Federer did sign up for Stockholm, a tournament he hasn’t played since 2000. But I doubt he will sign up for too much more. He is also defending champ at Basel, may play Bangkok.


JCF Says:

Noel Says:

“JCF,
“As far as Rafa’s hard court game… how quickly people forget that he won Indian Wells last year.”
He has also won montreal and madrid ams as well as dubai and beijing in the past.However, IW came more than a year after his dubai win and he hasn’t won a hard court title since then.In any case,we are discussing this more in the context of his performances in the second part of the hard court season.He is normally very good in the first part(ao/iw/miami etc} but is not that fresh for the second half after his grueling clay/grass campaigns.He hasn’t done as well in the us open and certainly is much less consistent on the hard courts.The reason people are talking about his prospects is because he is the form player at the moment.definitely the player of the year and de facto number one.It is natural to wonder if he can take his form-and his new improved game-into the rest of the season esp the us open given his not so great record there.”

In that case, his problem isn’t hard courts per se but second half of the year, would you agree? That means he can play on hard courts, despite what people say about his knees and whatnot.

The reason he sucks in the second half of the year is because the clay season is very long, and he plays more matches than anyone on it due to his refusal to lose. If the clay season was in the second half, and all the hardcourt tournaments were in the first half, he’d be a good hard courter, and no one would be talking about how he can’t play on it. He won’t win as many clay titles, but that’s life. He can’t simply change up his game to play a style he isn’t familiar with. At a world class level, you can’t just make dramatic changes like that in a short span of time. You are going to get beaten a lot while ‘learning’ your new style. So he can’t simply flatten all his shots and go for winners if that’s now how he’s ever played. Change has to be slow and gradual.

What I don’t get is why people play down his ability to win on hard, and play up people like Blake, Berdych, Youzhny, Murray and so on. Sure, they could upset him, but he is a more accomplished player on hardcourts than they are. Obviously they don’t have a chance at winning the HC slams either if you’re going to measure them based on past performances the same way you measure Rafa (none of these guys have even reached a semi at USO/AO). Is it really going to forever remain a two horse race between Federer and Djokovic at hardcourt slams?

I doubt it.

He hasn’t made the finals at AO or USO yet, but he’s still only 22. Give him time. Marat Safin won the AO at 25, as did Kafelnikov. Federer was 23 the first time he got past the 4th round at USO, 22.5 when he first got past the 4th round at AO.


JCF Says:

Ezorra Says:

“Berdych, Youzhny and Youzhny are always to be said as major threats to Rafael Nadal. However, who agree if is say that Berdych and Blake is no longer a factor to him on hard court? I don’t know about Youzhny (yes, nadal has successfully beaten him in Wimbledon a month ago, but Nadal lost pretty badly to him in Chennai open too, so…)”

You’ve also got to put that Chennai match into context. He played a 4 hour match the previous day against Moya. That’s got to have some effect at least?

“And lastly, who agree if I say that based on performance-on-hard court wise, the seeded players in Toronto should be as follow: (1)Djokovic, (2)Federer, (3)Nadal?”

No. That would make rankings meaningless. There needs to be an objective way to seed players. What is your method in ordering it this way? Why is Nadal even in the top 3? He has not won any hardcourt titles in the past 52 weeks.


JCF Says:

Bob Lewis Says:

“Nadal’s recent successes were on clay and grass. He won’t be sliding on hard courts, so we’ll see how it affects his timing relative to that of his competition. The assumption that he has momentum is unwarranted, when the surface changes that much, with others historically more successful than he was.”

You can’t be serious. You’re saying that sliding is what makes the difference for him? I don’t recall him sliding at Wimbledon. And the difference in the courts is not as big as you make it sound. Hardcourts are a neutral surface. You can easily make a list of players who will never win on clay. Pretty much all americans make that list. And then you can make a list of people who will never win Wimbledon, which would include most of the dirtballers from south america and europe. But I’ve never heard of a list of players who can win on anything but hardcourt.

The difference between going from clay to grass is bigger than grass to hard. On hard courts, you can play any style you want. Stay back, or move in. The speed is medium. It is truly a neutral surface. Name me another player who sucks on hardcourts (sucking on all surfaces does not count).


Giner Says:

“Nadal’s recent successes were on clay and grass. He won’t be sliding on hard courts, so we’ll see how it affects his timing relative to that of his competition. The assumption that he has momentum is unwarranted, when the surface changes that much, with others historically more successful than he was.”

Ever since Nadal’s wins on grass this year, people like to say that grass=clay (funny how they never said that in 2005 or 2006). If this is so, and that grass really does play like clay, should we expect the king of grass (Federer) to beat Rafa at RG soon and complete his career grand slam? After all, the surfaces are almost the same, and he is the best grass courter in the world.


jane Says:

Giner,

“If…grass really does play like clay, should we expect the king of grass (Federer) to beat Rafa at RG soon and complete his career grand slam? After all, the surfaces are almost the same, and he is the best grass courter in the world.”

Excellent point that should quiet all those people who are into conspiracy theories that the grass at Wimbledon (or even in general) has been made to suit clay-courters. Perhaps the rye grass plays a little slower than the previous SW19 variety, but it’s not clay, that’s for sure! Simply compare the FO & RG finals this year: tight match vs. utter rout.


Ezorra Says:

JCF Says:

“No. That would make rankings meaningless. There needs to be an objective way to seed players. What is your method in ordering it this way? Why is Nadal even in the top 3? He has not won any hard court titles in the past 52 weeks.”

I admit that I’m not supposed to put the word “seeded player” in my statement because that will make it looks more official. What I’m trying to say is; if I want to rank those 3 players in Toronto next week based on their performance on hard court in the first half of the year, I would put Djokovic as the favorite among those 3, Federer 2nd and Nadal in the 3rd place.

This is due to Djokovic’s tremendous performance on hard court this year (Winner at ATP Masters Series Indian Wells and Austalian open and semifinalist in Dubai).

But after thinking about it again and again, I think Nadal deserves the 2nd spot. This is because; he is the finalist at ATP Masters Series Miami and Chennai Open, semifinalist at ATP Masters Series Indian Wells and Australian Open and quarterfinalist in Dubai.

For the record, Federer is a semifinalist at ATP Masters Series Indian Wells and Australian Open and he is quarterfinalist at ATP Masters Series Miami.

Therefore JCF, who else do you think deserve to be in the top 3? Davydenko and Roddick might’ve more tournaments on hard court this year, but how about the prestige of the tournaments that they’ve won?


Gordo Says:

Sadly I am old and bruised enough to know this -

There is ONE major way clay and grass play the same, as opposed to the hard court surfaces – they are not hell on the knees.

There is a reason Nadal now tightly wraps his knees before every match and it has nothing to do with his keen fashion sense, no?

Two years ago he only occasionally wrapped them, and he rarely called for medical assistance during a match. Last year you started to notice the wrappings more during the hard season, and now he has his legs tightly wrapped before evety match now.

This, coupled with his unusual habit of wearing a tennis shoe size 2 sizes smaller than his normal footwear (think Chinese ballet dancers) makes me wonder how he is going to handle the grueling 4 tournaments in a row.

Mind you, they are only truly gruelling if a player reaches the finals of each of them. This year, facing almost the same succession of 4 tournaments in a row, Nadal won Monte Carlo and then lost his first match in Rome. This then gave him 6 days off and we all saw what happened after that – titles at Hamburg, Roland Garros, Queens and Wimbledon. Can he do it again on hard courts? Only time and his knees will tell. Remember, as I like to point out for those of you whose matra is “how come Rafa is not number 1?” – Nadal has not won a non-clay or grass tournament since Indian Wells in 2007.

Along the same lines in 2006, in a sloppily played round of 32 match in Cincinnati Federer lost to Andy Murray in straight sets after having won Canada, then steamrolled opponents winning the US Open, all ATP tourneys and the Australian Open before losing in March of 2007.

The upcoming run of Canada, Cincinnati, the Olympics and the US Open should prove very interesting indeed.


jane Says:

Gordo,

Just to note – Nadal won Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and then lost in Rome, so there was another win in there, which lead to the blisters, which lead to his loss in Rome.

But can you say more about this: “his unusual habit of wearing a tennis shoe size 2 sizes smaller than his normal footwear “? I’ve never heard this before. Why on earth would he wear such small shoes?? Seems very strange.


Gordo Says:

Jane -

I was watching Raphael Nafal play a match earlier this year at the French Open and the commentators went on about how he wears a size 9 shoe (Nike Air Max Breathe Cage)even though he normally wears a size 11 street shoe. It was just speculation, but there was a comment how he likes the fit to be very tight and so it feels like a second skin, much in the same way that professional hockey players get a cast done of their feet and have their skates custom made, so the fit is incredibly snug.

I don’t know if that contributes to the blisters, but it might cause a bit of discomfort, no?


Skorocel Says:

To Gordo:

This may be strange at first, but I’ve noticed that too… I’ve always thought his shoes (or feet?) seemed a bit small – and indeed, you can clearly see it when the camera is shooting him from the side during the changeovers.


JCF Says:

Gordo Says:
“Sadly I am old and bruised enough to know this -

There is ONE major way clay and grass play the same, as opposed to the hard court surfaces – they are not hell on the knees.”

Should everyone else who plays well on grass play well on clay, and vice versa? Are you saying that because Rafa has a knee problem, he can handle these two surfaces well, but for others who don’t have knee problems, they’re (except for Djok and Fed) good at one but not the other? If the #1 and #3 in the world can be good on every surface, why is it so hard to believe the #2 can as well?

“There is a reason Nadal now tightly wraps his knees before every match and it has nothing to do with his keen fashion sense, no?”

The taping around his knees are for precautionary purposes. Some people tape ankles just in case they roll one. It’s not like he’s going to wilt after playing a few matches on hard. He’s a pro athlete, knows how to take care of his body, and what his limitations are. If they’re too much, he won’t play.

“Remember, as I like to point out for those of you whose matra is “how come Rafa is not number 1?” – Nadal has not won a non-clay or grass tournament since Indian Wells in 2007. ”

It’s mathematically possible to be #1 without winning anything on hard. He has for the past 3 years been #2, but in each of those 3 years, he accrued significantly more rankings and race points than Roddick, Ferrero, Agassi, Hewitt, or Safin did in getting to #1. He just had the misfortune of doing so when Federer was around. None of those guys could possibly have been #1 with Fed in his prime. And those guys managed to win plenty of hard court titles between them. Hewitt and Safin have not won any titles on clay though, and Ferrero has not won any on grass. Roddick has won clay events… hosted in Houston where his competition was other americans. He and Hewitt are a fast court players and their record at Wimbledon is inferior to Nadal’s (the guy known for being a clay specialist).

Lack of hardcourt titles in the past 52 weeks has nothing to do with Nadal not being #1 as is evident from the results of those guys above. They won titles on two different surfaces, as has Nadal. The difference is not what surfaces they are — the difference is Federer. Before Indian Wells 08, the gap between Nadal and Fed was even smaller than it was post-Wimbledon. None of the guys mentioned above have any chance of being #1 today even at their best, or even #2, despite having already had the distinction of being best in the world.

“The upcoming run of Canada, Cincinnati, the Olympics and the US Open should prove very interesting indeed.”

The most logical expectation is that no man is going to win all four. They’ll be divided more or less evenly. Djokovic is erratic to some degree. He wins a big title then loses in the first round sometimes. Fed has shown this as well.


JCF Says:

Gordo Says:

“I was watching Raphael Nafal play a match earlier this year at the French Open and the commentators went on about how he wears a size 9 shoe (Nike Air Max Breathe Cage)even though he normally wears a size 11 street shoe. It was just speculation, but there was a comment how he likes the fit to be very tight and so it feels like a second skin, much in the same way that professional hockey players get a cast done of their feet and have their skates custom made, so the fit is incredibly snug.

I don’t know if that contributes to the blisters, but it might cause a bit of discomfort, no?”

It could be because Sports shoes go by different sizes than business shoes. If he’s wearing tight shoes, they might be stretchable types. There has to be a good reason for it. I doubt he would do it if it’s not comfortable, or dangerous. Whatever reason it is, it seems to be working well for him.


JCF Says:

“It’s mathematically possible to be #1 without winning anything on hard. He has for the past 3 years been #2, but in each of those 3 years, he accrued significantly more rankings and race points than Roddick, Ferrero, Agassi, Hewitt, or Safin did in getting to #1.”

I’d like to add Kuerten to this list. If we’re evaluating all the #1s of the 2000′s, look at their ranking points at the time they were #1. They did less than Rafa had (I’ve not compared with Agassi pre-2000). There is no chance these guys could challenge Fed for #1.

My point is that your argument of not owning a hard court title in any particular 52 week period is a disqualification for the #1 rank, is vacuous at best. Hewitt, during his 82 weeks at #1 never won a clay title or made a final. So he was limited to two surfaces. Hard + grass, vs clay + grass. The clay season is comparable in length to the hard season almost, and Rafa dominated clay more than Hewitt dominated hard. Hewitt’s first year at #1 netted him 6 titles, his second year 5 titles. Rafa had 11 in 05 alone, 4 of them being Masters Series (which Hewitt has won only two of in his career – both at Indian Wells), including Toronto and Madrid, both on hard (skipped Paris and MC that year due to injury).

Kuerten didn’t win on grass. He only once made a 3rd round at AO in his entire career. His Wimbledon record is equally woeful (usually didn’t bother playing any grass tournaments, Wimby included). His best performance at the USO was a quarter final. He is a classic example of a clay specialist that was extremely deficient playing on grass. But being a clay specialist like that is enough to be #1 as his case shows. His 2001 year (when he was #1 all throughout up till Masters Cup) was inferior to Rafa’s 07 year.. and 06… and 05. Rafa would have been #1 in another era, and he is a better player than Guga, no question about it. If he makes #1 this year, it will have been a bigger feat than it was for any of the guys mentioned above this decade.


FoT Says:

“Kuerten didn’t win on grass.”

There is not enough grass tournaments (outside of Wimbledon) to even make a difference! Which…I hope, will be changed. We need at least ONE Master’s event on grass.

All I can say is why don’t we wait to see what will happen during the hardcourt season? I mean, every year, particularly when Nadal wins the French and had made the finals of Wimbledon the last 3 years…everyone said he was a shoe-in to steam through the year and reach #1. Well, he won Wimbledon this year and now everyone says it’s just a matter of time. Yet for the last 3 years, something has happened to Nadal to prevent him from winning any title after the French that wasn’t on clay for the rest of the year. Whether that was hot players; health; knees, whatever… SOMETHING lets all of us see that the 2nd half of tennis does not set well with Nadal. So… let’s just see what happens.

I just hope it continues to go the way it’s been going the last few years – with Roger winning the most and keeping on to his #1 status.


Gordo Says:

Everybody is so fixated upon Rafa becoming #1. Do we really think that if this happens – and there is a good chance it might – that Roger will not ever attain #1 again?

Yeah – Roger has lost his chance at 6 Wimbledons in a row.

So?

Are you really writing him off? Do you really think he didn’t have glandular fever earlier this year? Sheeesh!

I have never seen so many Nadal apologists in one blog before.

This ranting reminds me of when Sampras had his run at Wimbledon snapped in 1996. “Oh, that’s the end of him. He’s on the downward spiral” so many were writing in columns. We all know how he rebounded.

Honestly – what is it some of you have against Fed? Or is it the Swiss? Was it their neutrality during WWII?

And JCF – yes, if Rafa becomes number one it will be a great feat, but how long do you honestly think he will hold it before Federer regains it?

Hmmmnnnnn ?


Von Says:

Gordo:

“It was just speculation, but there was a comment how he likes the fit to be very tight and so it feels like a second skin, much in the same way that professional hockey players get a cast done of their feet and have their skates custom made, so the fit is incredibly snug.”

I read also that Nadal likes to wear his shoes two sizes smaller than his feet because of the snug feeling, and I’m sure this probably accounts for the amount of blisters he experiences as opposed to the other tennis players. When the shoe is too snug it allows the toes to slide too close to the front of the shoe, causing friction, but it also disallows the toes to splay out, and the crunching/confinement coupled with the friction will cause blisters. Moreover, cramping can occur producing additional deleterious side effects, e.g., irritation of the nerve endings along the whole leg moving up to the sciatica nerve; lower back pain and spine mis-alignment.

If the toes are crunched up a person has the tendency to compensate when walking. They begin to tilt forward, placing considerable strain on the ball of the foot and ankle, The strain reverberates upward to the knee as well. Additionally, overtraining and change of surface could place im at risk for shin splints.

This is pure conjecture on my part, but I’m about fifty-percent positive that if Nadal were to wear a larger shoe a huge amount of his knee problems would disappear. I’m surprised his doctors or a foot specialist has not considered his too tight shoes as a contibuting factor to the severe knee problem he now has.


jane Says:

Gordo,

Totally off topic, but were the Swiss neutral during WWII? From what I understand, a lot of Nazi money was filter, rather smoothly, into that country, wherein it remained for a number of years thereafter.

I find it so surprising to read someone calling this blog a “nadal apologist” website. This site is notoriously pro-Federer. Just look at any poll done on this site. Less than a year ago, if anything was said by a poster against Roger, said poster would be tarred and feathered and hung out to dry.

So frankly, it’s kind of refreshing to read about other tennis players as well. No offense to Roger’s fans. Besides, most blogs come back to the Swiss one way or another. Even this talk of Rafa reaching numero uno is tangentially related to Roger, since that’s who he’d be swiping it from, no?


Giner / JCF Says:

“He has for the past 3 years been #2, but in each of those 3 years, he accrued significantly more rankings and race points than Roddick, Ferrero, Agassi, Hewitt, or Safin did in getting to #1. ”

Not to mention he did this while contending with Federer who took half of all the big titles for himself, so he was handicapped from the outset. ;)

These guys had every tournament up for grabs because there was no dominant player winning 3 slams in a season.

Also worth comparing is their H2H with Fed during his reign against Nadal’s H2H with Fed. Kuerten, Roddick, Safin managed to win one match each against Fed. Agassi, Hewitt, Ferrero won none. Fed has amassed about 30 wins against this collective group. Nadal is 12-6 against Fed (all of these matches occurred while Fed was #1), 3 of those off the clay. He did better against Fed than all of them combined. True, the bulk of those were on clay… but clay and grass are about the same right? Fed is almost as good on clay as he is on Wimby grass due to bounce, speed, softness, and whatnot being similar to clay.

However, it’s not the fault of those #1′s that they got it but Rafa didn’t. You can only play who you get so don’t take too much from them. If anything, it’s Fed’s fault for being a relatively late bloomer. I agree that Rafa accomplished more than they did, but you can’t use Federer’s absence as a point against them attaining #1. And Kuerten boycotted Wimbledon that year because they wouldn’t seed him #1 (he even encouraged others to do the same). Just as well too, because I doubt he would have gotten past the 1st round anyway, which would have been an embarassment for a world #1.

Federer really has been great. Not even Sampras dare I say it, would have been #1 in Fed’s era, imo. He never managed 3 slams in any calendar year (Fed has done it 3 times), or threatened to win the French (Fed has threatened 4 times). Fed and Nadal have brought out the best in each other. If not for Nadal, Fed might own 17 slams, with 4 of them being at RG, surpassing Pete. Two calendar Grand Slams to match Laver. Undisputed GOAT. Rafa on the other hand might have 3 wimbledons without Federer, 7 slams in total at age 22.2. This is the only real rivalry we’ve had for Fed since 2004.

*passing over to JCF now*

FoT says:

“There is not enough grass tournaments (outside of Wimbledon) to even make a difference! Which…I hope, will be changed. We need at least ONE Master’s event on grass.”

Irrelevant. He couldn’t play on the green stuff even if there were more tournaments. His game just wasn’t suited to it. Are you seriously telling me that Kuerten, Ferrero, Safin et al would have won grass titles if there were more of them? In Kuerten’s case, he just didn’t like the surface, and wasn’t going to get good at it, ever. Nadal took a positive attitude in and worked hard for it. He wanted to learn the grass, he wanted to win Wimby, which is more than you can say for most people raised on clay.

“Yet for the last 3 years, something has happened to Nadal to prevent him from winning any title after the French that wasn’t on clay for the rest of the year.”

The way you make it sound, you have to win the US Open in order for it to be considered a good second half. How many players actually DO have a good second half of the year, by your standards?

And you are wrong about him not winning titles in the second half. He won Beijing, Toronto and Madrid in 2005. Was that not the second half of the year?

“SOMETHING lets all of us see that the 2nd half of tennis does not set well with Nadal. So… let’s just see what happens. ”

1. What results are needed to be considered a good second half? If his second half is crap, I can’t imagine how crap Davydenko, Blake, Roddick, and Ferrer’s second half has been by your standards… not to mention players outside the top 10.

2. How many players on the tour actually have a good second half?

“I just hope it continues to go the way it’s been going the last few years – with Roger winning the most and keeping on to his #1 status.”

It all made sense after that sentence.

“Everybody is so fixated upon Rafa becoming #1. Do we really think that if this happens – and there is a good chance it might – that Roger will not ever attain #1 again?”

Of course not. Pat Rafter held it for one week. Getting there is an achievement in itself. As Roddick said when he first got it, “I’ve done it. No one can take it away from me now.” It’s a thing that’s added permanently to your CV, one that will be mentioned long after.

Federer will get it back. Does that mean players like Nadal and Nole should not even bother trying for it? Even if Fed gets it back, his days of winning 3 slams a year is over.

“Yeah – Roger has lost his chance at 6 Wimbledons in a row.

So?”

So… it means he’s not invincible. Something that a sane player would not be able to say until this year.

“Are you really writing him off? Do you really think he didn’t have glandular fever earlier this year? Sheeesh!”

You sound like a chord has been struck. I don’t think anyone’s writing him off. He will win another 3-4 slams before he retires at worst. That is enough to surpass Pete. I don’t think he will attain another season where he wins more than 2 slams however. And I think RG is beyond him now, unless Rafa happens to skip the event or get injured during the tournament.

“Honestly – what is it some of you have against Fed? Or is it the Swiss? Was it their neutrality during WWII?”

Like I’ve said before, I’m a Fed fan, but not a blind one. I’m rational. Do I have to kiss his butt in order to not look like I have something against him? I call it the way I see it, and his competition has stepped up their game. He’s still going to stay either #1 or #2, back and forth, but the days of him owning 50% more ranking points than the #2 are in the past.

“And JCF – yes, if Rafa becomes number one it will be a great feat, but how long do you honestly think he will hold it before Federer regains it?

Hmmmnnnnn ?”

So what are you suggesting? Because he can’t hold onto it, he shouldn’t bother trying to get it in the first place? If you’re not suggesting this, then what’s your point? Regardless of what happens, here are two things we’ve learnt this year:

While previously Fed had no peers, last year he had two. Djokovic has stepped up his game this year. Secondly, so has Rafa. It can only get harder for Fed to dominate from here on, not easier. His competition is getting better while Fed is not, and he’s not early 20′s anymore.

And lastly, I don’t like being called a Rafa apologist. You call me an apologist, then you defend Fed with mono. What’s with the double standards? Here’s two familiar characters:

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/oliphant/oa048.jpg

Yes I like Rafa, but I’m calling it the way it is, with hard facts. I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. Rafa has performed better as the #2 player than Hewitt & co has as the #1 player. I was responding to the fallacious argument that he hasn’t earnt his place because he doesn’t have a HC title the past year (while others who did less had earnt their place). And another painful truth, no matter how you spin it, Fed has two titles to his name this year: Estoril and Halle, neither tournament brimming with talented opposition. I don’t mention this because I have something against Fed – I mention it because it’s a fact. This year is no 2004/5/6/7 for him, even if he goes on to win the Olympics and USO.


jane Says:

Or maybe I am thinking of Jewish money that curiously went missing in Switzerland post-war. Anyhow, neutrality in WWII notwithstanding, I don’t think this site (or this particular blog) is full of so “many Nadal apologists”. Just people who think Rafa has a good shot on hard courts and number 1. Nothing wrong with that, so far as I can ascertain.


jane Says:

JCF -

LOL!!! Classic cartoon. I’ll have to bookmark it. Thanks for posting the link…and providing comic relief.


Fedex Says:

Gordo,

Dont bother! You cant expect balanced posts from every person who posts here. Stick around for sometime and you will get used to posts that state

i dont hate fed but….. (fill in some great quality of nadal’s)

i used to be a fed fan but…. (same as above)

Part of the problem is, u expect them to be fair/balanced posters since they are busy reiterating that every other post, but there are not too many fair posters. most people who post here have an intense dislike for one player or the other and try keep taking stabs at that player everytime they get a chance. Such a thing is not possible in most other tennis sites. The only way these people shut up is when federer wins, which will be sooner than later.

Also, any balanced tennis follower will tell you nadal is no federer/sampras/agassi/roddick or even djokovic on hard courts. This is an annual tradition that repeats every year. Anointing Nadal the unofficial no.1 before the hardcourt season only to seem him ground into the dust by the hard court specialists. It is a pity, because nadal is a great kid and deserves a lot of good things, but these imposters whose only aim is to get back at fed fans who have bullied them over the years cant wait for him to make things happen.

anyway this is nothing compared to the stupid djokovic fans if godforbid, he wins a title. ignore these nadal apologists and look at some true nadal fan’s post.those posters are quite mature and make for better reading and discussion.


JCF Says:

Gordo & Fedex

Did we ruffle some feathers? Aww, you poor thing.

Like I said, we admire Federer for his talent and what he’s done. I don’t know how many times we have to say that he’s the greatest player we’ve ever seen before we can satisfy you. He is a better player than Sampras, we said this as early as the last post! But we aren’t going to genuflect to him.

I’m not going to make up some story about being his fan if I don’t actually like him. I’m speaking the honest truth about him.

Tennis-x is a pro Federer community, whether you want to admit it or not. The poll before the FO this year was: “Who is NOT winning the French Open?” And Nadal ranked the highest by far. Every time FO polls come around, it’s always Federer that’s supposed to be winning it according to polls.

The reason you think there are lots of anti-Federer posts is because you’re noticing them, whereas the Fed praise is just taken for granted and forgotten, because you’re expecting it as the norm anyway.

People are saying things about Nadal because he’s done well, and if the ranking changes hands, it’s only a logical deduction. There is no agenda here, just realism.

“Dont bother! You cant expect balanced posts from every person who posts here. Stick around for sometime and you will get used to posts that state”

You expect a commenter or Nadal fan to give balanced praise to both Fed and Nadal in their posts? You can expect a balanced post when we see balanced results from the players. Otherwise, the player who performed better is going to naturally receive more compliments. You don’t think there hasn’t been enough years of non-stop Fed praising hyperbole already? Not enough for you?

“Also, any balanced tennis follower will tell you nadal is no federer/sampras/agassi/roddick or even djokovic on hard courts. This is an annual tradition that repeats every year. Anointing Nadal the unofficial no.1 before the hardcourt season only to seem him ground into the dust by the hard court specialists.”

Hard court specialists… I love that term. This is the first I’ve heard it. Could you name these hard court specialists, and what major titles they’ve won?

As for Sampras and Agassi… Hmm, let’s see. Compare the slam results of a guy who played till age 31 (Sampras) and 36 (Agassi) with a guy who just turned 22. Yep. That’s balanced commentary right there.

“It is a pity, because nadal is a great kid and deserves a lot of good things, but these imposters whose only aim is to get back at fed fans who have bullied them over the years cant wait for him to make things happen. ”

Maybe it’s just me, but this sentence sounds eerily like the format of:

i dont hate fed but….. (fill in some great quality of nadal’s)

i used to be a fed fan but…. (same as above)

Except change fed for Nadal.

“Also, any balanced tennis follower will tell you nadal is no federer/sampras/agassi/roddick or even djokovic on hard courts. This is an annual tradition that repeats every year.”

What I have noticed about Nadal’s critics over the years is a pattern…

“He’s pretty good, but he hasn’t won anything.”

“He’s a clay specialist. He can’t win on any other surface.”

“But he can’t play on grass.”

“But that was a fluke! Easy draw.”

“He’s definately not making the final for a third time. Plus he was lucky against Youzhny who was injured. And he’s not going to beat dangerous players like Roddick, Karlovic, Gulbis, Djokovic on grass.”

“He can’t play on hard courts. He can only play on soft surfaces. He can’t be #1 if he can’t play on hard courts. And he always sucks during the second half of the year.”

Now I wonder where the goalposts will move if he wins the USO or AO in the next few years. You are running low on excuses. Seriously, what is it going to be if he does manage it and secures #1? Every time he’s written off, he seems to come back and do the very thing he’s not supposed to be able to do. This early into his career (age 22) you’re already making the final call that hard court slams are beyond his ability? That’s a tough call with that many years still left in him. At the very least, Federer will retire before he does, and I can’t see Djokovic winning every hard court slam every year. I also think Federer is harder to beat on grass than on hard. The 65 match streak speaks for itself. He hasn’t come close to that on hard court.

“anyway this is nothing compared to the stupid djokovic fans if godforbid, he wins a title. ignore these nadal apologists and look at some true nadal fan’s post.those posters are quite mature and make for better reading and discussion.”

Could you give an example of what these true nadal fans would say?


JCF Says:

Crap! Part of my message didn’t come through because I used angled brackets which confused this hi-tech blog. Replace the middle parts with this:

Fedex: “Also, any balanced tennis follower will tell you nadal is no federer/sampras/agassi/roddick or even djokovic on hard courts. This is an annual tradition that repeats every year.”

What I have noticed about Nadal’s critics over the years is a pattern…

‘He’s pretty good, but he hasn’t won anything.’
[Wins French Open]
‘He’s a clay specialist. He can’t win on any other surface.’
[Wins some hard court titles]
‘But he can’t play on grass.’
[Makes a Wimbledon final.]
“But that was a fluke! Easy draw.”
[Makes another Wimbledon final and almost beats Federer.]
“He’s definately not making the final for a third time. Plus he was lucky against Youzhny who was injured. And he’s not going to beat dangerous players like Roddick, Karlovic, Gulbis, Djokovic on grass.”
[Routs Youzhny to make 3rd Wimbledon final, beating Federer in an epic, being broken only once in 5 sets. Also beats Roddick, Karlovic, Gulbis, and Djokovic on grass run. Becomes only the 4th player in Open Era to have won both RG and Wimby in his career.]

Now I wonder where the goalposts will move if he wins the USO or AO in the next few years. You are running low on excuses. Seriously, what is it going to be if he does manage it and secures #1? Every time he’s written off, he seems to come back and do the very thing he’s not supposed to be able to do. This early into his career (age 22) you’re already making the final call that hard court slams are beyond his ability? That’s a tough call with that many years still left in him. At the very least, Federer will retire before he does, and I can’t see Djokovic winning every hard court slam every year. I also think Federer is harder to beat on grass than on hard. The 65 match streak speaks for itself. He hasn’t come close to that on hard court.


JCF Says:

By the way, it’s worth pointing out that Nadal and Federer have not played each other in a hard court slam before. Nor has Nadal and Djokovic.

Get Federer to 5 sets, and that’s where he is really put to the test. His record is 11-11. For Djokovic, that too is unfamiliar territory.

I guess the down side of cruising against everyone is that when you’re put in a situation where it goes down to the wire, you’re not used to it. Safin and Hewitt have good records at 5 setters because they don’t blow their opponents away. But whenever they get into 5 sets, I always have to favor them based on experience.


Daniel Says:

JCF

Regarding Kuerten

When he was n. 1 in the world he wasn’t seeded number one at Wimbledon, and if I recall right they didn’t even want to seed him over there, which is ridiculous, a n. 1 not being seed due to lack of grass campaign. In 2006 Nadal was already n. 2 and they seed him N. 2, which is way more easy. I doubt if he could had improve that much on grass if he was not seed n. 2 three years ago, having to face strong competition since eralier rounds!

And you could never predict what a player would have done since the time has already pass. Maybe if Guga played wimbledon he could have gain even more points to add when he was number one, increasing his marging.

Regarding Nadal’s new condition

A long ago a lot of peolpe was talking here about a double standard regarding Fed, now seems like Nadal is in this position, cause when he loose he was tired or it was his knees. I just ask myself how many matches have Nadal won even with his knees hurt that we didn’t know about it? He probably won several matches when he wasn’t suppose to win but somehow he manage to overcome it. That Ferrero Rome 2008 was just one that was obious for us, but imagine how many matches he won with blisters?

Now it seems like if he lost any match he will not be healthy or will not be in a good day. I can already see the excuses here. And what is more strange is that most are talking as if Fed had no physical problem in the beggining of the year and using his results as a parameter to compare with his other years. Off course every player has to deal with his own limitations and the way they kept themselves away from injury is a part of who they are as a player, but to compare a physical condition cause by stress and a disease that you can’t control to me is pathetic.

Fed is not the same of 2006 and Nadal got better, way better, that is a fact, but even after defeating a disease (I hope it is finished for good) he is still number one and he won’t let it go without a fight. To ignore one of this facts is lack of respect with both players!


Giner Says:

“Also, any balanced tennis follower will tell you nadal is no federer/sampras/agassi/roddick or even djokovic on hard courts. This is an annual tradition that repeats every year.”

JCF is done for the day. He told me to chip in and respond to this for him.

This is a fallacy. You see, there’s a first time for everything. Nadal has not won any hard court slams, true.

But there had to exist some time when Federer did not have any either. Or Djokovic. Or Sampras. Before Federer won his first Wimbledon, you could just as easily have said “Federer is no Sampras on grass court.” Of course, you would look stupid now in hindsight wouldn’t you? He went on to win 5.

The same is true of anyone before their first time at anything. Before Sampras won his first you could say that any “balanced” commentator would agree that Sampras is no Edberg/Becker/Borg/McEnroe on [insert surface here].

Before 2004, Federer’s best results at AO and USO were both 4th round. Could you not again have said that Federer is no Sampras/Agassi on hard court? Who could have predicted him to win those titles based on those results? Who could predict Nadal to win AO or USO based on his past results (which are better than 4th round btw)?

Your argument is again, fallacious. Because it could have applied to anyone.

Call me paranoid, but for a guy who keeps talking about “balanced tennis followers”, I find it hard to believe that you include yourself as one, when you go by the name of FedEx. I have read your past messages, and I have a good idea on your agenda, if that wasn’t enough. I don’t think you do mine.


Von Says:

JCF & Giner:

Most probably, I’d be blasted out of the water for my following comments. Been there done that, but in conscience, I feel it needs to be said.

First, I’d like to reiterate my previous comments to you, and that is, I enjoy your posts — you’ve got chutzpah — to call it like you see it, and be equally fairminded in the process. In a fair world that’s commendable, but on these threads it is viewed as an outrage, which I will address later.

You’ve established a balance in your comments, praising Nadal’s present achievements and success, while simultaneously acknowledging Federer’s past successes, which is more than can be said for several Federer posters, who are narrow minded, have tunnel vision, and would only allow themselves to grudgingly comment on the present situation, vis-a-vis, Nadal’s success in winning the FO and Wimby back to back, by posing questions regarding Nadal’s fitness in forthcoming hardcourt season. I’m still to see any comments praising Nadal’s recent historic accomplishment. If it were the other way around there would be dissertations and epistles written ad nauseam. I would like to encourage you to continue in your posting and disregard the unfavorable comments that you’ll read whenever you praise and/or defend Nadal. There will be speculations, ad infinitum until the USO concerning Nadal’s hard-court prowess, and if he doesn’t better last year’s results the negativity will be nauseating.

I admire those who have the stamina to answer and fight for what they believe. Sad to say, I get turned off, after having been stomped on repeatedly and/or humiliated by crude statements in the form of taunts and retaliation. I’ve lost the zeal and effusiveness I once possessed to fight for my beliefs. My sensitivity handicaps me in responding, which is compounded by 10 people simultaneously firing ugly statements in an attempt to shut me down. I hope you’re much stronger than I am, and won’t allow this to happen to you. Nowadays, I am more or less relegated to post on unsubstantive topics, which I feel are safe, but sad to say that there’s a voice inside of me that cries out for justice and to speak out, but knowing the consequences, it’s a case of discretion being the better part of valor.

It’s a very difficult task on these threads to be a fan of any other player, except Federer. There’s a 10:1 ratio in Fed’s favor, and the voice of the majority speaks. The writers, reporters and the whole site in genereal, is pro-Federer. This man, another human being, such as ourselves, is regaled as some form of deity — which I find to be absurd and ridiculous.

You stated: “The reason you think there are lots of anti-Federer posts is because you’re noticing them, whereas the Fed praise is just taken for granted and forgotten, because you’re expecting it as the norm anyway.”

There will never be enough praises in the minds of most of the Fed fans for Federer, because they expect it — it’s a bottomless pit. I find it difficult to laud praises on him, since it’s obvious that the majority of Fed’s fans refuse to give even a smidgen of respect to other players. Their descriptions of these players is tantamount to crude abuse of the lowest form, and these players are viewed as if they are from the dregs of society. I’m aghast at the name calling and/or odoriferous words used to describe them. Additionally, It could perhaps be helpful if there could be a transposition of the cruel comments made toward the other players onto Federer, but I think an uprising will begin, similar to that of a a conflagration. but maybe it would be the only way they’ll understand that other players’ fans have feelings too and the unsavoury comments are upsetting to them.

Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice very aptly and succinctly puts into words what we, the fans of other players feel, vis-a-vis:

“If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”. Maybe, the Fed fans who are the offenders, will bear this in mind when next they feel the need to denigrate another player, whose name is not Federer.

JCF, Giner and the other Nadal fans, take heart, stand your ground and don’t get turned off in your defense of Nadal — there’s a rainbow on the horizon. Keep smiling. :P


Friend Says:

“I also think Federer is harder to beat on grass than on hard. The 65 match streak speaks for itself. He hasn’t come close to that on hard court. ”

In case you are not aware Federer holds the record for the hardcourt win streak – either at 56 or 59 matches.


Gordo Says:

To everyone in general -

What I like about this blog is that for the vast majority there are real intelligent, well thought out comments from tennis fans who are passionate about the game and who respect not only good players that they do not necessarily root for, but show no disdain for the fans of those players.

Everyone here can spell, structure sentences and is not using foul or abusive language. Is this site really on the world wide web? Ha!

Truth be told, I have always thought that class attracts class and us, all tennis fans and the whole sporting world should be oh so thankful that in Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal we have not only two brilliant athletes who are raising the sport to a new level, but two fine, well mannered, respectful gentlemen who everyone can be proud are the leaders and the spokesmen of men’s professional tennis.

And when you look at Djokovic [sorry... ran out of space and time].


Gordo Says:

Friend – yes you are right. No flies on Roger when it comes to consistency on hard surfaces -

He holds the longest winning streak on hard courts during the open era, which is 56 matches (2005-06), ending at the Dubai final in March 2006.(degeated by Nadal) Then, at the 2006 US Open Federer started another hard court streak, which reached 36 consecutive wins (including tournament victories at the US Open, Tokyo, ATP Masters Series in Madrid, Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, the Australian Open, Dubai, and two Davis Cup matches in Geneva. The streak ended on March 11, 2007, in Indian Wells when Federer lost to Cañas in the second round.

Federer holds the record for most consecutive singles wins in North America, winning 55 straight matches before losing to Andy Murray in August 2006.[6] (This loss also stopped Federer’s streak of 17 consecutive finals reached, just one shy of Ivan Lendl’s record 18 consecutive finals in 1981 and 1982.[6]


jane Says:

Gordo,

“And when you look at Djokovic [sorry… ran out of space and time].”

I get the facetiousness here, but there’s no need to put down Novak, or imply he’s not classy, like Mr. Federer or Mr. Nadal.

Different strokes for different strokes, right? If all the players were the same, or acted similarly, then it’d be a boring sport.

Novak brings an outspoken audaciousness to the sport that is not necessarily a bad thing; his bluntness is refreshing in a sport where so many players, fans and media pundits alike are deferential. To put it analogically, imagine the animal kingdom without the peacock! I am glad that bird is around to, er, ruffle a few feathers.

Looking forward to the Toronto draw, which is being done now, as I write.

(Addendum: I too appreciate this website for its majority of well spoken & written tennis fans, and those who are respectful of others’ views, and I hope room continues to be made for players and fans of all stripes)


Von Says:

Gordo:

“What I like about this blog is that for the vast majority there are real intelligent, well thought out comments from tennis fans who are passionate about the game and who respect not only good players that they do not necessarily root for, but show no disdain for the fans of those players.”

You have contradicted yourself in the above statement by stating the following:

“And when you look at Djokovic [sorry… ran out of space and time].”

Even though I’m not a Djokovic fan, if I were one, I would take umbrage to the above remarks. You are upset when dishonorable mention is made of Federer, don’t you think a Djokovic fan would be upset by your remarks also? Where’s the respect — I see only repugnance. different strokes for different folks.

Remember: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”. Revenge, is a strong word, but it is said in many ways.

“And when you look at Djokovic [sorry… ran out of space and time].”


zola Says:

Jane
I agree that all players should be respected and their fans should feel comfortable to write and cheer for them.

But i do not agree that disrespect needs to be encouraged as mere “difference” . it is more than that.

I think the players should know that the fans or at least majority of them prefer the players and their families have a certain level of respect for each other and for the fans. If Djoko doesn’t care about that, it’s OK., but then him and his fans should not be offended by criticism either.


zola Says:

the main draw for toronto is announced.
http://www.rogerscupmen.com/2/en/draws/SinglesMainDraw.pdf

if you can’t open the link, click from the links in here:
http://www.rogerscupmen.com/2/en/draws/drawsheets.asp

glad to see Gulbis and Roddick on Fed’s side, but the bottom half is much heavier. for Rafa, Baghdatis can be his first opponent, then Andreev, Gasquet, Berdych , Murray or Djoko, etc….

Good luck Rafa!


zola Says:

i posted the link to the draw but it did not appear! anyway, it is out!


jane Says:

zola,

Sure, but “criticism” is much different than “insult” – implied or otherwise. And Djokovic does not have to subscribe to Roger or Rafa’s perceived standards. He is free to act as he wants, and on the court, he simply has to follow the rules set out for him. He does show respect to both Roger and Rafa, calling the latter “the best defensive player in the history of the sport” and many times discussing the talents of Roger and how he learns from him each time they play. That’s enough, no? Does he have to kowtow? Does he have to hide his ambition? I say “no way!” We live in a free society wherein I hope classism doesn’t have to seep into sports as well.

Frankly, I think Rafa, much as I love him, is TOO genuflecting (to use JCF’s word) towards Federer. He shouldn’t shy away from being extremely proud of his own achievements, outstanding as they are!! He’s done so much that others have not been able to – especially where Roger is concerned, whom he has a WINNING record against. Vamos Rafa! Celebrate! :-)


jane Says:

Von,

” You are upset when dishonorable mention is made of Federer, don’t you think a Djokovic fan would be upset by your remarks also? Where’s the respect — I see only repugnance. ”

You make a very clear call here; it’s a double standard that we’ve come to know well.

Criticism is one thing, when it’s aired fairly, but Djokovic meets most often with “repugnance” because of his brashness and the fact that he doesn’t act the way some people expect him to.


zola Says:

Jane,
I did not say that insult is permitted. I was surprised that you encourage Djoko’s attitude and see nothing wrong in that. It is fine. People are different and can like different attitudes from players, but then if Djoko rolls his eyes towards the crowd or gets angry at them and if his parents say provoking comments to the media or behave strangely, it will certainly raise more criticism and Djoko and his fans should be ready for that.

I like Rafa’s attitude and the respect he has for Fed and all the players. We like it or not Federer is one of the best if not “the best” in the history of tennis and there is no harm in acknowledging that.


jane Says:

Zola,

“People are different and can like different attitudes from players”

Exactly! And this was my initial point; we should tolerate – and in my opinion encourage – differences, on the court, and in society, so long as they are not harmful to others. I am all about democracy. Sometimes, in some situations, a little disrespect is a good thing. Think of Michael Moore’s films; clearly they are “disrespectful” or at the least “critical” towards President Bush, but in turn they open up debate – is he a good leader? Does he have faults? etc. etc.

Djoko rolling his eyes at the crowd (if in fact he’s done this) and Djoko’s parents being obnoxious are not necessarily things I “encourage”, but they are nevertheless “tolerated” by me. I don’t expect them to act exactly like Fed or Rafa or their parents; they come from different lives and circumstances, so they act differently. Sometimes it’s annoying but is it harming anyone? Doubt it. As for Djokovic speaking his mind openly about his opinion on Federer or anyone else – that I would encourage.

I totally disagree that Federer is “the best” player in the history of tennis, for one thing because that history isn’t over, but also because I think the GOAT argument is illogical. However, it’s obvious he is one of the best; his results speak for themselves. Djoko has acknowledged that too; but he doesn’t have to do more than that.

Anyway we clearly think differently about Novak and what constitutes “proper” behaviour. But we’re okay nevertheless, right? Hope so! :-)


zola Says:

Jane,
sure we are OK. You know that. :)

on to Toronto!


Gordo Says:

Yes – Federer has one hand on the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) trophy, but you can’t fully have it in your possession while your other hand is still holding a racquet.

Let’s see what he accomplishes over the next 5 years or so.

Who knows? When Sampras retired no one thought there would be a male player challenging his accomplishments as quickly as Federer has done.

In 3 years we may very well be saying the same about Nadal to Federer as we have recently been comparing Federer to Sampras. Nadal has to prove that he can win consistently on hard courts. 2008 may be the year he does this and if so all talk of who the GOAT is will be left to Federer and Nadal’s long term achievements.

And I was chided for one of my earlier posts for taking a shot at Djokovic. [Actually, I never really took a shot at him by writing anything - I just explained that I ran out of space and time so didn't write anything at all. My mom used to say "If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all." I think it was my mom, maybe it was Djokovic's mom... no, it certainly wasn't Djokovic's mom, so it must have been mine].

So let me just include him in by saying that I think that his passion, attitude and personality has all the makings of someone I would call a goat.

But as for the GOAT – only time will tell.


Friend Says:

“But i do not agree that disrespect needs to be encouraged as mere “difference” . it is more than that.”

Great point Zola.

You encourage the disregard and disrespect Djokovic shows for Federer or Nadal, then you should be fine if Federer or Nadal fans disregard or disrespect Djokovic. That will ofcourse be a travesty for Djokovic fans. That sounds like double standards to me.

Djokovic and his fans will want us to believe that the best way to become no.1 or provide entertainment is by getting under the skin/ trash talking a man who has been a great ambassador for our sport. Ofcourse every person should be ambitious and dream about great things if he plans to achieve them, but what Djokovic and his family have done is try to demean the other person. And then the fans wonder why other people are not being courteous towards them?

This looks all the more pathetic when you have a very class person like Nadal running towards the same goal (infact achieving much much more than Djokovic) and he does not have one disrespectful bone in his body. Yet the best people can do is blame such a great person of genuflecting? If genuflecting gives me a 12-6 H2H against federer as opposed to the scintillating 2-6 record the rebellious and trend-setting djokovic has, there must be something good to be said of nadal’s humble ways as opposed to djokovic’s cockiness


JCF Says:

Thanks for the supports Von. <3

I also notice you’re quite a poetic person, bringing up Shakespeare and whatnot. That’s a nice little touch.

“In case you are not aware Federer holds the record for the hardcourt win streak – either at 56 or 59 matches.”

Oh? I thought it was 40-odd, but if that was the case, then we’ll happily stand corrected. We can only speculate on how many losses he’d take on grass each year if the grass season was as long as the hard court season. To me, I always felt he was most convincing on grass, not that he is any slouch on hard either.

As for Djokovic’s big mouth… the sport needs unique personalities like him. It would be boring if everyone lavished praises on other players especially without sincerity. I know Rafa reveres Roger, but I’m not positive he means everything he says. He’s certainly very modest and reserved about his own achievments, and plays down his big wins. But he’s probably going for the sportsmanship award or something.

I think Djokovic’s bravado is welcome in the sport. I like that he isn’t afraid of mentioning his goals, and his lack of fear of anyone. Quotes from AO 07 like “I’ve got three words: He’s. (referring to Federer) Going. Down.” set the scene abuzz. He brings excitement to the game that those modest guys don’t. Even if his words were empty, it still gets people talking. Most importantly, I like watching his game. Every time he plays Fed or Rafa or someone else good, it’s always a quality match.

Pre-match trash talk is fine by me. The only thing I have an issue with is when players are ungracious in defeat. Roddick is a guy who’s funny yet always respectful in the press room. He takes all his losses with class. And he doesn’t have a problem with making fun of himself.

I guess that makes me a tennis fan too, rather than a player fan.

Gordo, I don’t buy the “running out of space” excuse. Your post was short, and since when was there a space restriction on this blog? As for running out of time, why even mention his name? And leaving it blank because you had nothing nice to say doesn’t hide your disdain for him. However, you are more than entitled to your opinion. I got no problem with you bagging him if you don’t like him. I agree with most of everything else you said in the above post though.

The only part I disagree on is the “Nadal has to prove that he can win consistently on hard courts.” comment. If Nadal makes the QFs at the big hard court events, and wins Paris (on Carpet), this is a banner year, nothing less. I don’t know what surface the USO was played on in Borg’s time, but he never won any slams on hard. All of his wins were at Wimby and RG. He’s still in my book in the three-way discussion for GOAT, with Pete and Rod Laver. In my opinion that is a better achievement than if someone tied him for slam count, but won three out of four slams, though missing one of the two he has. In other words, I value RG and Wimby more than the hard court slams.

“But as for the GOAT – only time will tell.”

I guess it’s hard to disagree with that.


zola Says:

JCF,
***He’s certainly very modest and reserved about his own achievments, and plays down his big wins. But he’s probably going for the sraiportsmanship award or something.***

They don’t give the sportsmanship awards based on praises. The whole Nadal family is like that. Read uncle Toni ‘s interviews. To me, he does not try to make himself look bigger by undermining his opponent. He shows the same respect to all players, but more to roger and I see no harm in than . Don’t need to find an alterior motive or a material prize for whatever people do. Not everyone is alike.


JCF Says:

LOL.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Vu7OKS9fU14
Novak Djokovic talks about Federer, Rafa .. Very Funny ^^


jane Says:

Tennis X: Can you please delete my previous post? I was only taking issue with the GOAT argument and I realized when I re-read my post that it sounds awful because of the acronym. I only meant to say what I’ve said in the past – I don’t think there’s such as thing as “greatest of all time” but only “greatest until now”. In fact I had “up until now” and changed it to “until now”.

Please delete (10:08 post). I am truly sorry people – I didn’t mean it too come out the way it did.


Gordo Says:

JCF -

Let me get this straight – you are not including Federer in the GOAT discussion?????

And you are already including Nadal?????

Dude – I may be misreading this but… really ?

And okay – I was taking a small shot at Djokovic earlier, but to tell you the truth I do enjoy watching his on court game, but I wish he had some humility.

In the mean time, Mr. Djokovic – if you get past Safin or Murray in your quarter in Toronto please show JCF that Nadal is only VERY GOOD on hard court and try and finish him off in 2 sets, so you will be fresh to get thrashed by Federer in next Sunday’s final.


Shital Green Says:

Only on a few occasions I have felt a little uneasy about some of the players’ behaviors on the court, including Fed and Rafa’s. But that is not the core of tennis and should be relevant topic for discussion.
Rafa is no immaculate in this department either. Fed has complained about Rafa’s taking more than 20 seconds between the serves. Rafa got warning even at Wimbledon final this year. Was I happy about Rafa’s taking more time and Fed’s complaint? A little bit but not a big deal. The umpire is there to point out what is permissible.
I don’t know which tournament. The umpire makes a bad call, and Murray loses a point. He says, “It sucks.” That was fine. Later, he repeats the same language 3 times, and I find it unpleasant despite the umpire’s fault. Still the match goes on, and I continue to enjoy it.
Sometimes, even when someday does unacceptable by the rules, the complaint could look annoying if you do it excessively.
What Djoko does today (not last year) is annoying to those who already hate him because he’s the only challenger to the 2 big fish. Had he not been a serious and consistent challenger, we would not be paying attention and scrutinizing every one of his moves. We all overlook our favorite players’ weakness and exaggerate the challengers’. That is the way fan-ism works.
If we are talking about objectivity, ITF and ATP are there to punish if a player goes over the top.
The rest is just mere opinions and hate-mongering to me. Hate-mongering is one way to express your fan-ism, though there are better ways to express love for your player. And we all probably aim to do the latter but mishit it.


Shital Green Says:

error: missing “not” in the 2nd sentence.
correction: “should not be the relevant topic for discussion”


JCF Says:

Gordo,

“Let me get this straight – you are not including Federer in the GOAT discussion?????”

Sorry, I was referring to non-active players. Federer will very likely end up as GOAT himself, but the way I look at ‘greatness’ (which accounts for more than just slam tally) he is currently behind Sampras by 2 slams. I’ve said it before though, he is a better player than Sampras… He has done more in less time. his career isn’t over yet, so he will surpass 14. I compare him to Sampras rather than Borg or Laver, because like Sampras he doesn’t have an RG title. And if you’re going to compare him with Sampras, then the difference between them is two slams. It’s harder to compare him to Borg, because on the one hand he does have more slams than Borg, but no French. Borg won French and Wimby back to back several times. Laver of course has the calendar grand slam, which Fed has almost achieved.

“And you are already including Nadal?????”

Absolutely not. I’m just saying what he’s done this year is very rare and worthy of recognition.

“Dude – I may be misreading this but… really ?”

You are misreading it indeed. If I had a choice, I’d rather have Federer’s trophy cabinet than Nadal’s. But I’d rather have 2 French and 1 Wimby than one Wimby, AO, and USO each. This is just a personal preference because I revere the French more than I do the hardcourt slams (although Arthur Ashe is the biggest court in the world, despite Wimbledon’s claims).

“And okay – I was taking a small shot at Djokovic earlier, but to tell you the truth I do enjoy watching his on court game, but I wish he had some humility.”

That’s fine by me.

“In the mean time, Mr. Djokovic – if you get past Safin or Murray in your quarter in Toronto please show JCF that Nadal is only VERY GOOD on hard court and try and finish him off in 2 sets, so you will be fresh to get thrashed by Federer in next Sunday’s final.”

LOL, ok. I can accept that. I happen to like Safin and Djokovic as well, so may the best player win. Murray I’m not the most fond of, but there are parts of his game and character I find admirable.

You’re in love with Federer. I know what that’s like. I’ve been through it myself, and it’s a roller coaster sometimes (not as much as Safin though). The tight matches Federer plays are very hard to watch. When he was to lose, I’d rather he got thrashed… it was easier on my heart. I started liking Nadal in 05 or 06 simply because he was one of the few people able to challenge Federer. He was able to do just that.

Don’t you worry. It’s like I said… Fed has a good 3 or 4 more slams left in him, and once he gets those, the GOAT debates will be a thing of the past. We’ll be able to put it behind us all, and Sampras won’t be the measuring stick for measuring greatness any more.

August can’t come soon enough.


JCF Says:

“Sorry, I was referring to non-active players. Federer will very likely end up as GOAT himself, but the way I look at ‘greatness’ (which accounts for more than just slam tally) he is currently behind Sampras by 2 slams. I’ve said it before though, he is a better player than Sampras… He has done more in less time. his career isn’t over yet, so he will surpass 14. I compare him to Sampras rather than Borg or Laver, because like Sampras he doesn’t have an RG title. And if you’re going to compare him with Sampras, then the difference between them is two slams. It’s harder to compare him to Borg, because on the one hand he does have more slams than Borg, but no French. Borg won French and Wimby back to back several times. Laver of course has the calendar grand slam, which Fed has almost achieved.”

I should further clarify this paragraph. I compare him to Pete because they both lack an RG title. If Roger had an RG title, I would not be comparing him to Pete anymore, but to Laver probably. Which I can only do by statistics since I’ve never seen Laver play. It probably wasn’t all that pretty.

I thought Borg, as great as he was, was an underachiever. If 11 slams was the very best he was capable of winning, then Pete was probably the better player. But I get a feeling he could sneak in a few more had he played till 31. Or if he went to the AO.


Giner Says:

“But I’d rather have 2 French and 1 Wimby than one Wimby, AO, and USO each. This is just a personal preference because I revere the French more than I do the hardcourt slams (although Arthur Ashe is the biggest court in the world, despite Wimbledon’s claims).”

I think I can guess why, though I may not agree.

The French is the slam that (unlike USO or AO) has eluded many of the all time greats (Sampras, Mcenroe, Edberg, Becker, Connors, Federer). Most of the time, it’s either the only slam you win, or the only one you couldn’t win, which is why you like Borg and Nadal. Winning them all elevates your status a bit. I miss the days when the americans were good on the clay. What happened? Nowadays you get years where no man gets past the 1st round.

I see all the slams as being equal. They’re all unique in their own way.

When people say Centre Court is the biggest court in the world, they are likely referring to tradition and prestige. I don’t find the court as grand as Ashe either — it looks humble in comparison, but it’s the oldest, right? In size and capacity, it is smaller than AA. AA is so big that from a distance it looks like the outer rows might collapse onto the rows below. It must be hard to see the ball from that distance. TV is still the best view I’d say.


Daniel Says:

Well Jane,

As time is in the making then GOAT applies to time until now, and if new GOATs show up, the same will be valid for then, no?!


Daniel Says:

What’s up with Del Potro, 2 titles in a row? I hope he does well in Toronto as for Bellucci, Gulbis and the other new ones. They need wins to increase confidance.

Sorry for my above post Jane, I didn’t read your other post after the GOAT one and came down here to post as I find it funny. :)


Skorocel Says:

JCF said:

“I know Rafa reveres Roger, but I’m not positive he means everything he says.”

There you go! When I think of that “memorable” camera signature after his Shanghai RR 2006 match against Davy or those suspicious medical timeouts during the MC 2006 final or all those numerous psychological games before and during their matches, I just don’t get it how can someone call him classy, reserved, or whatever (?)… Yes, he held his emotions after that FO final destruction of Fed rather admirably, and generally, tends to be humble in his interviews (whether it’s towards Fed or someone else) as well, but I can’t help myself – it’s a fake humility…

Just consider all those statements of his about Fed being the favourite almost everytime these two play… WTF? When Fed lost to Murray in Dubai and made those comments about the Scotsman’s game, all his detractors were saying he’s a sore loser and blah blah, but well, he at least was sincere (in answering a direct question, no less), whereas this guy just tends to fool everyone by making all those cliche statements of how he admires & loves & reveres Fed, and then “underlines” it by writing his name on the camera and then scratching it… How’s that for a respect?


jane Says:

Just to remind everyone – the two times Roger won the Canadian Masters Series tournament were 2004 & 2006, both when it was played in Toronto rather than Montreal. (It alternates with the women’s event every other year, for those who don’t know.) Well, it’s in Toronto this year; maybe that is a positive sign for Roger?

PS – thanks Daniel, you’re kind.


JCF Says:

Skorocel, I think most people’s humility is false to some degree. He’s just raised to value politeness over candor. There is merit in both, but the candid type tend to draw more criticism than the polite ones. It’s human decency to respect your opponent and give them credit when you lose to them, even if it was entirely your own fault. And maybe by playing down his confidence, and saying that Federer is favorite is a way of relieving some pressure on himself, or at least not making it look so bad in the event he loses.

As for gamesmanship, I’m aware he takes his time and keeps the other guy waiting. Whether this is deliberate to throw them off or not, only he knows. I’m unclear on it, just like with his modesty. I believe that when he takes long between serves, it is just his way of calming himself, steeling his nerves on big points, the same way Djokovic bounces the ball a million times. But sometimes his opponent is ready to serve at the beginning of the match, and he goes and takes a drink, or sits down. This looks intentional to me.

About underlining his signature on the camera… I think you’re reading too much into it. I underline my sig too. Unless you meant that signing the camera itself is the act of arrogance — players are asked to do it, they don’t volunteer it.

If you’re looking for a bone to pick with someone, you’ll always find one.


JCF Says:

jane Says:

“Just to remind everyone – the two times Roger won the Canadian Masters Series tournament were 2004 & 2006, both when it was played in Toronto rather than Montreal. (It alternates with the women’s event every other year, for those who don’t know.) Well, it’s in Toronto this year; maybe that is a positive sign for Roger?”

Us humans tend to be pattern seeking and superstitious folk. I doubt it means anything, unless the environment, conditions and surface is different between the two. I can’t see how it could make any difference.

Another pattern is Fed’s Kooyong Exhibition. Every time he loses a match there, he goes on to win the AO. In 05 he won the title, and lost in SF. This year, he didn’t play, so technically he didn’t “lose” a match, and ended up losing in the SF in Melb, both times to the eventual champ. That can be seen as a pattern, but to me, it’s pure coincidence. I can’t see a causal relationship between losing a match at Kooyong and winning the AO.

In AO 05, he played Safin in the SF on Safin’s birthday and lost. Later at RG, he played Nadal in the SF, which happened to be Nadal’s birthday, and he lost again. I don’t see a causal connection here either.

If Fed were to win the canadian tournament in 08, lose in 09, win in 10, lose in 11… Then we might be able to conclude that there is something in it.

I’ve also been mistakenly saying that Nadal won Toronto. It was Montreal, not that it matters.


Gordo Says:

I think there is more to the Toronto-Montreal thing that affects Federer. In Montreal a lot of Canadians speak French – perhaps it dredges up memories of June in Paris and affects Roger. But in Toronto – you know how they talk in English, eh?


Von Says:

Skorocel:

“When Fed lost to Murray in Dubai and made those comments about the Scotsman’s game, all his detractors were saying he’s a sore loser and blah blah, but well, he at least was sincere (in answering a direct question, no less), whereas this guy just tends to fool everyone by making all those cliche statements of how he admires & loves & reveres Fed,..”

Class is an innate quality, you either have it or you don’t. However, many, through experential learning, realize that in order to ingratiate oneself, or to be popular and/or successful, especially athletes, who are supported by a good PR company, are groomed to say and do the politically correct things to project that “classy” image. A lot of it is fake and a far cry from their true personalities — but it’s the politically correct thing to do. For example, many of the athletes make special appearances on behalf of charity; for some of them these appearances are most probably genuine, but even though the ostensible purpose was charity, his/her real goal is that of popularity.

Most of their interviews, apart from their pressers, especially those done in their homes are rehearsed scripts written by their PR companies, in which the politically correct and cliche statements are used, with an emphasis on coming across as classy, and a nice guy. The PR companies are adept in choosing those niceties they feel the public would like to hear to project a certain image. The sadness of this PR stuff used in interviews, is the gullibility of the worshiping fans who fall for these statements hook, line and sinker. For them it’s a sort of affirmation that their chosen athlete is a “classy” guy. Some of them post those interviews on forums with a little inscription — “What a classy guy.” There’s a cliche phrase which Federer uses, and one which earns him the “classy” designation:

“It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice”. This phrase was originally used by John Cassis, a Former Pro Baseball Player, turned a Motivational Speaker, but,it’s really not his cliche phrase either, but one which was originally written in the Koran.

I’m sure this phrase was written for Fed by his PR firm. Skorocel, You’ll probably stick some invisible pins in me for saying the above. :)

The whole PR stuff is so false and it’s sad that the public are unaware of how much pschology is used to project these athletes as ‘classy”, from the wardrobe, (JCF’s pet peeve shoes) to the interviews and the on-court image. However, it’s amusing to see how these classy guys can melt down to a very ordinary, mediocre person, when they’re placed in a pressure cooker situation on court or in an after match presser, especially when they lose. These are the instances where the classy image departs and is replaced with a very irascible borderline brat. However, if one is truly classy, the brat would not emerge — grace under fire.

Of the top 3 , Djokovic is the most candid, but it has earned him the designation of a persona non grata. Apart from the top 3, there are a few athletes who do not gloss over their statements, e.g., my favourite, Andy Roddick — nothing rehearsed from this guy — he’s truthful to his detriment, and some others Safin, Hewitt and Baghdatis. These stand out in my mind.

I find it amusing how utterly disjointed some become over class and disrespect, as if it’s some sort of validation they are personally seeking to set them apart from the rest of the gang. It appears to be an obsession but on that’s an exercise in futilty. People are not going to value or respect us more for this kind of debate. After we air our views on it a few times, people get the picture as to what we represent, and the perpetuation of it becomes moot.

______________________
JCF:

“I think most people’s humility is false to some degree. He’s just raised to value politeness over candor. There is merit in both, but the candid type tend to draw more criticism than the polite ones.”

This is very true — candor will always draw criticism. You said you like poetry and what not — the following will sum up your thoughts on Nadal: “Not stepping o’er the bounds of modesty”. Romeo and Juliet. :)


Skorocel Says:

To JCF:

I didn’t mean Nadal writing his own name on the camera and then underlining it – I meant Nadal writing Fed’s name and then scratching it… Man, is this that hard to understand? :)


jane Says:

Von,

Thanks so much for your 7:42 post on PR and political correctness; it put a lot into perspective for me, on things that irk me about both players and fans, obviously, but did so in a very clear and logical manner – it all makes perfect sense after reading your post. Like a little dropping of the veil! :-)

Cheers

—————————-

Gordo,

We don’t say “eh” much in Canada – eh?


Von Says:

jane:

You’re welcome. I’m happy to have been able to put into perspective whatever it is that irks you. (I’m digressing here — my daughter at age 7, used to say whenever I did something that pleased her “Mom you’re the ‘bestest’ and you’re getting ‘gooder’.) BTW, I didn’t know you wore a veil? I’m being extremely facetious here. :P

When you become turned off by the falseness of this world, remember the following from:

As You Like It – Shakespeare

“All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts” –

Keep the faith. :D


JCF Says:

“I didn’t mean Nadal writing his own name on the camera and then underlining it – I meant Nadal writing Fed’s name and then scratching it… Man, is this that hard to understand? :)”

Oh… now that’s different. He was probably doing it as a joke, but not understanding the meaning behind it. Kind of a lost in translation type thing. Cultural differences.

I’d say it was a joke in bad taste. Not excusable, but maybe he didn’t know.

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