Federer, Nadal Get First Taste of Summer HardCourt Season Today in Toronto
by Sean Randall | July 23rd, 2008
  • 148 Comments

Top dogs Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal return to action today in Toronto for the first time since their epic encounter at Wimbledon. Expectations for Fed remain high for this North American hardcourt swing, whereas for Rafa, judging by some of the comments I’ve read maybe not so high.

Either way, this is a very important stretch for both players. For Federer, we’ll see just how much damage, if any, that loss at Wimbledon did to his psyche. For Rafa, it’s the reverse. While his ranking may not reflect it (yet), Nadal has to be feeling on top of the World, but can the Spaniard maintain the mojo for another six weeks and finally get to No. 1?

Taking a peak at the Toronto draw it’s easy to see that it’s fully loaded. And it wouldn’t shock me to see another wacky, Mardy Fish-like finalist emerge. With the grind of the hardcourt season upon us and the condensed schedule due to the Beijing Olympics, guys will have to conserve their energy this summer. Where they decide to conserve it is the magic question because no one is running the table (that is winning everything they enter, US Open included).

Of all the top guys in the Toronto field I think defending champ Novak Djokovic has the easiest path. Already by Frank Dancevic last night, Novak shouldn’t be bothered much by Fernando Verdasco, who is actually playing some of his best tennis right now, or from Andy Murray.

I also think Nadal’s section is pretty cozy. Jesse Levine today, then Tomas Berdych or Igor, both of whom are very good players, but Andreev is better on the clay and Berdych seems to plays his best against guys ranked below him. And then I’m not sure if either Richard Gasquet or David Ferrer has the belief right now to beat Rafa.

Roger’s draw though looks somewhat dicey. Gilles Simon could present some problems tonight. Fernando Gonzalez could as well. As for Andy Roddick, the fact that Nicolas Mahut had a fair share of break chances doesn’t bode particularly well for the American. He won’t get by Federer playing like he did yesterday, and he very well might not get by Marin Cilic or Tommy Robredo in the next round.

In the Nikolay Davydenko section, eight guys remain and I could see any one of seven getting through – sorry Jonas! Hard to pick a favorite but if I had to maybe Mikhail Youhzny, then James Blake then Dmitry Tursunov.

But back to the main storyline, Nadal and Federer. I know we are really at the starting gate of the hardcourt season, but I feel if Nadal destroys Levine today, which on paper he should, it’s a very good sign for Rafa going forward. Somewhat the same for Federer, who’s playing a far tougher foe in Simon. I think Simon could get a set, but if Roger really plays well or blows him up then I think Fed’s in good shape for the summer and who knows, the Rogers Cup may really end up being Roger’s again.

To watch live streaming from Toronto online, click below:


Also Check Out:
Federer Opens Summer Hardcourt Tonight In Cincinnati; Djokovic, Murray, Del Potro Also On Tap
Un-Fit Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Toronto
USTA, ATP, WTA To Announce Calendar Changes
Was Novak Djokovic’s 2011 Season A Total Fluke? It’s Looking That Way
Federer Battles Djokovic In Dream Cincinnati Final, Who’s The Pick?

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148 Comments for Federer, Nadal Get First Taste of Summer HardCourt Season Today in Toronto

Gordo Says:

Rember – the MC Canada alternates between Toronto and Montreal and Roger has won the last 2 in Toronto but lost in the Quebec city. Do you think he just doesn’t play as well where French is spoken? Kidding.

Simon may be Fed’s toughest opponent until he reaches the final. If he wins today in straight sets I think it will bode very well for him.

Djokovic looked flat yesterday His serve and Dancevic’s inability to read it helped him through, but it will be interesting if it is Murray he meets.


jane Says:

Djoko looked flat? Were we watching the same guy? It’s amazing how perspective affects perception. In my opinion, Djokovic’s returns are what brought him through; Dancevic has an excellent serve – esp out wide – but Djoko got a read on it and broke him easily; plus Dancevic always plays well here in Canada, eh? We know he got to the quarters last year, taking a set off Rafa there too. If anything, I thought Djoko’s serve wasn’t as good as it could be (that inconsistency is his greatest weakness, imo), but his game from the baseline was sharp; he attacked, planting himself on the baseline and pushing Frankie back – hitting deep and powerful groundies throughout.

Sean,

Novak could also face Soderling next, who has a powerful game. He could also run into Safin again, although Marat now has the disadvantage of having to play twice today. So to say Novak’s path is easy is pushing it imo.

Maybe it’s a perspective issue again, but to me Roger’s road is easier; he has a winning record against all those guys (of course that’s the norm for him), save Simon, and Roddick may not be at his best. Gonza, if firing, could be a threat, but otherwise, Roger’s draw to the quarters is easier. Djoko, if he gets by Soderling, then Murray, Wawrinka or Safin, will have to face Rafa or maybe Gasquet – hardly easy!! No one on the bottom half of Fed’s side is a real threat to him (maybe F-Lo IF he can win consistently), so if Roger wins in the quarters he has an easier path to the final. Cillic is a darkhorse but his inexperience may not allow to break through just yet; on the other hand, sometimes that is the very thing that helps a young player to win, lack of experience and pressure.

At least that’s the view from here. :-)


ines Says:

nadal has to defend fewer points than fed in this part of the season so he has lots of chances to become number one sooner or later this year. However, after his atonishing first half of the year im not sure he will be able to keep such a level and play well under all the pressure. … huge dissapointment if by 2009 he is still number 2. besides, federer is gonna put everything he can out there, his best tennis ha sto be played…djockovic’s game is still not fully developed.


Sardino Says:

Excellent second serves from Djokovic. You can tell he was working on it the last weeks.


Noel Says:

Jane,
I agree completely with your assessment of Nole’s performance against Dancevic and I also think Nole has a tough match against either Soderling or an in-form Verdasco although I think he will be confident enough by the time he reaches the qf and sf to tame his prospective rivals(most likely Murray and Rafa).
However,I don’t think Fed has an easy opponent in an in-form and very sharp Simon.You never know in a best of three situation.Both Gonza and Rod beat him the last time he met them on a hard court.I think he’d be confident only against his sf opponent if he can reach that stage.I hope he is able to do better than what he did in the first part of the hard season.
Unlike others,I believe Rafa has a very easy quarter and should easily reach the sf if he gets past Berdych-he should because Berdych has looked ordinary this year-if Berdych can beat Andreev first. Rafa doesn’t have to play any really aggressive power player in his qf.
Personally,I think Davy’s quarter is packed with a lot of quality and evenly-matched players and is the most difficult to call as it were.I’d love to see Lopez play Haas or Youzhny in the qf.However,James and Davy-as indeed Keifer and Tursovov- will certainly have to say something about that.


Shital Green Says:

Thank you Sean, even though had to wait for 2 days to see something on Toronto.

Excuse me if I sound negative: You always go for marketability to please the majority crowd/customers here. That’s ok. That is how market operates.

I agree with you Djoko was not in his best form in the 1st three games. But he picked up after that except at one occasion late in the 2nd set he double faulted and got broken. We have to give Dancevic some credit for his good serve and quick returnability. Whenever the ball was in play, Djoko was on top most of the time (I would day 90% of the time).

“Roger’s draw looks dicey”? He has the easiest road to the quarter after Gulbis exited. I wanted to watch Fed-Gulbis match. The only challenge he will face is Roddick in the quarter. Before that, he has Simon and Gonzu or Acasuso.
Whoever comes out of the 2nd quarter should not be a problem for Fed: FeLo/Tursunov; Blake/Bjorkman; Davy/Haas; or Kiefer/Youzhny. Except Roddick in the quarter, there is no one to challenge Fed all the way to the finals.

In the 3rd quarter, like Jane said above, Djoko has a tougher draw: Soderling/Verdasco; Murray/Johansson; or Wawrinka/Safin.

In the 4th quarter, you say “Nadal’s section is pretty cozy…I’m not sure if either Richard Gasquet or David Ferrer has the belief right now to beat Rafa.” A guy (Ferrer) who eliminated Rafa on USO and MC last year does not have belief to beat Rafa? I am not sure if Berdych/ Gasquet / Ferrer are lesser players than Simon/ Gonzu/ Acasuso?
On top of that, Fed does not have anybody like Rafa or Djoko to face in the semi. That alone makes your logic tilted toward one.


Sardino Says:

Great article about the match from Toronto

http://www.thestar.com/Sports/Tennis/article/465579


Shital Green Says:

Hi Jane !

It is strange that it has rained every day in Toronto since the tournament started. It did not affect much on the first day. Safin-Querrey match got postponed last night, and today all matches are indefinitely suspended. I called a friend in Buffalo this morning. It is pretty bad there. I checked the weather channel just now. It is going to be fine from tomorrow.
How is it wherever you are? I always wanted to ask you where in Canada you are from, if it does not compromise your netcrecy.


andrea Says:

it’s a breath of fresh air to have a tournament where they press aren’t making a story about which side of the draw novak is on. the wimbledon fiasco must have had a ripple effect and brought everyone to their senses.


Shital Green Says:

Sardino,
Thanks for the link. It was a good piece. I enjoyed reading it.


jane Says:

Hey Shital Green -

Matches are back on I see. Rafa was down a break but just got back on serve, Safin’s up a break, Ferrer won the 1st set, and Cillic is up a break.

BTW, I live on the west coast in Canada, though I’ve lived all over the place in this spacious nation, including 4 years in Toronto.


Von Says:

Federer’s draw looks dicey? What draw are we talking about? He’s got an easy road to the SFs, as always. The draw is lopsided at best. Why are Djokovic, No. 3 and Ferrer, No. 5, two players who could give Fed some trouble, and odd numbered seeds, placed in Nadal’s half of the draw; and why is Roddick the No. 6 seed on Federer’s side? It appears that irregardless of what number Roddick is seeded, he invariably 7 out of 10 times ends up in Federer’s quarter. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but then how many of the draws really make sense and are fair?

It’s obvious from Roddick’s match play against Mahut, that he’s not up to snuff; he’s most definitely lacking in match play since Rome. To reiterate I just don’t get it why he’s on Fed’s side of the draw and Djoko and Ferrer is on Nadal’s side. People say the draws aren’t manipulated, I’d like to see some hard evidence that this isn’t so.

Someone mentioned that there isn’t a story regarding which side of the draw Djoko is on — the answer is simple, the buzz is only relevant when he’s on Fed’s side of the draw. In this instance he’s not, hence there isn’t any threat from Djoko for Fed; Fed as well as his anxiety- riddled fans can sleep peacefully basking in the knowledge that he’ll be sailing through to the finals. All’s well that ends well, and in this case, the story will have a great ending.


jane Says:

Safin is crushing Querrey; it’ll be interesting to see how he does against Wawrinka later, if the match goes ahead. Safin, on hard courts especially, but also given his run at Wimbledon this year, should not be underestimated by anyone – fans, players, pundits. His game is stunning when it’s clicking.


Shital Green Says:

Until 6th game, Levine, 123th ranking Ottawa born American, played impressively with more winners than Nadal’s. From thereafter Nadal came back to do business as usual and take the set.
Levine started making more unforced errors and got broken early in the 3rd game of the 2nd set. At one point (2nd game, 2nd set), it showed that the surface can cause Rafa lose his balance. Second time Levin got broken with his double fault. How miserable that is ! Now Nadal is in a position to dispatch Levine quickly.


Shital Green Says:

Jane,
How are you getting to watch Safin-Querrey match on TV? I don’t even get to see the score of that match.


Shital Green Says:

I am really happy Cilic totally demolished Robredo. Among the young guns, I’d like to see Cilic among top 10 in the near future.


jane Says:

Shital – I was just following Safin scores /stats on the scoreboard at work. I’m home in time to watch some live tennis now, and then can watch what was caught on tape later, which won’t be much since it rained all day. I am happy about Cillic too; I haven’t seen him play much, since the AO, as they rarely seem to air his matches, but I like what I’ve seen when I’ve seen it, if you know what I mean.


Von Says:

Levine had 26 winners as opposed to Nadal’s 9 and still lost. He had 7 break chances and could only convert on one.

Initialy, Nadal showed signs of some apparent rust and lethargy, which is understandble, because of his down time since Wimby. Anyway, toward the end of the first set his form began taking shape and by the end of the match he was looking more match grooved. I expect he’ll be more fired up in his next match.

I’m happy for Safin that he’s beginning to show some of his former good form on hardcourts, albeit at Sam Querrey’s expense. Hopefully, Marat will cruise through Wawrinka, (who can’t hold a candle to Marat in his hey day) if they do meet.


matt Says:

I’ve been watching Nadal’s match and he looked to me so slow. He didn’t move well.

Maybe it is the three weeks off, or maybe he is been cautious with his body.

Did anyone of you notice that?


jane Says:

Looks windy for Fed’s match, hence quite a few errors, but he seems to be having no problem with Simon and is serving well. Simon is hanging around miles behind the baseline most of the time.

I see Roger has his coach along with him here – interesting. Was he at Wimbledon? I know he was around for clay, but I didn’t notice him at SW19.


Shital Green Says:

Looks like it is going to an easy ride for Fed. Simon is no match for him. I have to say Fed looks unbelievably solid.


anel Says:

I do not understand Federer’s fans.If You listen to them, Nole is the worst tennis player,but they are following anething that he says or does,and they hate him so much.If he is so bad,and he is not any threat to Federer why YOU pay attention so much to Nole.


Mary Says:

Fed’s coach was not there for him at SW19. He just stayed to coach the American, whose name escapes me.

I have to say, Fed’s hair color is really cool and he is playing well.


Gordo Says:

Jane -

No – Jose was not at Wimbledon. It is a good sign that Roger still has him around.

The university stadium is tricky – although it is windy there is not too much of a breeze on court level (just look at Roger’s flowing locks – ha!)

Running around to his forehand on the first 2 points and blasting winners – a very agressive start for Fed. I think he wants to send a message here, and poor Monsieur Simon will be the conduit.

Nadal – Djokovic and now Fed!

Big boy tennis is back ! ! !

(Of course do I have major egg on my face should Simon come back!)


Von Says:

Matt:

If you read my 7:24 pm post, you’ll notice I mentioned Nadal looked lethargic. He didn’t appear enthusiastic or full of zest and vigor — maybe he’s being cautious, but his form was definitely not his usual.
____________

Fed, only wanted Higueras around for the FO, but stated he could extend Higueras’ term of coaching for a longer period. I suppose after losing Wimby, he’s decided to revert back to thinking he needs some coaching.

Ginepri should find another coach. Higueras is sort of a chess player, and Robby is the pawn. Too bad.

Simon is not a threat to most of the top 10 players so I’m not at all surprised that he’ll lose.


Friend Says:

Looks like Mr. Djokovic is back to remind everyone who was too concerned that the wimbledon final was too classy that there are bucket loads of crass as well, in tennis. I hope safin or nadal dump some cold water on his head, like they have done in the last 4 tournaments. Some people just refuse to learn.

Nadal was a little off the radar to begin with, but got the job done. I hope toni will make him watch the murray match from wimbledon. It will be really good to see nadal beat up a few more of these over-hyped “youngsters”.


jane Says:

Simon has some good shots from the back, but so far they lack the pop of Fed’s or Novak’s baseline games. He seems a little too casual to me, needs to show a little more intensity.

It was windy earilier but seems to have settled down now.

Does anyone know if Safin has to play twice today? It’s scheduled that he and Wawrinka will play after this.

Both Gordo and Mary have commented on Fed’s hair; am I missing something? LOL.


Gordo Says:

I do wonder what brand of gum Mirka chews. She must go through a couple of pounds of it during every one of Roger’s matches. When I first saw her chomping away I thought mabe it was one of the Blue Jays’ pitchers – in watching some tennis.

I think Juicy Fruit should spend a few grand an get her to endorse their product. Thank goodness it does not appear to be bubblegum!!!


Noel Says:

Jane,
I have answered your ‘whence’ question on the relevant thread.


Bob Lewis Says:

What happened with Roddick/Fish retiring from the doubles match?


jane Says:

Thanks Noel – I just saw that actually, and I totally agree with your wariness. Roger is looking a little more stressed in this second set, hey? With so many break chances for Simon. But Simon’s not been able to convert on one of them yet.


jane Says:

What’s up with Blake? He just lost the first set 1 – 6 to Bjorkman. Blake must be one of those “overhyped youngsters” Friend writes about. LOL.


Noel Says:

Matt,
I also thought that Rafa was not his busy self in terms of movement and that affected his positioning for the shots although he did play well when he had to.I guess it is understandable given that it was his first match.The fact that it was against a leftie was probably a factor as well. That ninth game of the first set probably was the key as far as Levine’s confidence was concerned.Once he lost that first set,his chances went downhill.Levine also didn’t serve well while Rafa had more than 75% first serves although Rafa’s return game was not as good as it normally is.


Gordo Says:

A weird observation…

Is it just me, or does Roger’s coach look like he could be Novak Djokovic’s dad?


Shital Green Says:

Simon is showing some resistance in the 2nd set (exchanged a break conversion), but won’t be enough to disarm Fed.


Von Says:

“I do wonder what brand of gum Mirka chews.”

She looks like a proverbial cow “chewing its cud”, and would like to be somewhere else other than in Fed’s box. The most exuberance I’ve seen from her was at the Wimby finals, but that could have been due to Gwen Stefani and the guy (whose name eludes me) jumping up at every point Fed won.


blah Says:

wow 4 errors from Federer to give Simon the break and the set.


Shital Green Says:

Simon upped his level and took the 2nd set. I am really surprised.


jane Says:

Well Blake seems to be coming around now.

As does Simon, but Fed looked pretty sloppy at the end of the second there. He looks kind of tired. Oh well, on to the third…

I see Gonza is knocked out now. Acasuso is taking out big hitters – first Gulbis and now ‘Fernando the forehand’.


Dan_M Says:

Simon is riding a 6 match winning streak on these hard courts with 5 wins last week in Indianapolis and a win over Donald Young yesterday. It is a good test for Roger assuming he passes it. A loss could just add to the snowball effect although tennis always seems to have a tournament around the corner for rebounding.


Gordo Says:

Simon is playing MUCH better.

Federer sent his forehand back to the locker methinks.

How important is this set???

Should Federer lose tonight and Nadal win the tournament then the reulting points will be -

FEDERER – 6255 NADAL – 6105

As opposed to Fed winning over Nadal, which will result in -

FEDERER – 6750 NADAL – 5925

For those who are curious.


Shital Green Says:

Two upsets today: Gonzu and Berdych have been knocked today. I am particularly sad about Berdych’s exit.


jane Says:

Berdych needs a few wins and a confidence boost after that injury. He’s not been able to get any momentum going this year.

Fed seems to be in control of this 3rd set, Simon is slowing down now, making a lot of errors, so Fed should pass the “test.”

Fed is such a bad “challenger”; he notoriously gets em wrong. It’s kind of funny given how often he hits the lines!

Does anyone else find him a little “cranky” so far tonight? I don’t know, maybe it’s pressure. But he doesn’t seem to be having a good time out there or anything.


Dan_M Says:

Simon avoided the double break deficit. He is a heady and scrappy player. Federer up a break should find a way through, but Simon is making him work and is still in the match.


Dan_M Says:

Broken at love?? Federer is really struggling with consistent aggression.


Shital Green Says:

Simon takes the break back and levels the match at 3-3.


Von Says:

Noel:

See my post to you on the same thread you answered jane’s question. thanks.


blah Says:

Good game. Federer breaks Simon right back.


jane Says:

And now Fed gets the break back, again, after a nice long rally between these two. You gotta give Simon credit for fighting hard in these last two sets. After the first one, I thought it’d be a rout, but it’s turning out to be a fun match.


Shital Green Says:

Fed breaks Simon right back. The 7th point of the 7th game in the 3rd set was the best Fed played today, which gave him break point. And the next point he played really well, too.


blah Says:

Wow rare to see Federer give up two breaks…


Shital Green Says:

Simon squanders double break chances. And then, he gets one more. He breaks back again to level the match at 4-4.


jane Says:

whata roller coaster… can either of them hold? sheesh!


matt Says:

Ups, I’m sorry, I didn’t read your post, Von.

Yes, Rafa looked rusty and slow, and Federer doesn’t look pretty good either.


Shital Green Says:

Finally, Simon holds. The match is getting more interesting by minute.


blah Says:

Federer loses!


Dan_M Says:

3 straight breaks – I am not about to write a eulogy, but Federer is struggling mightily at present. Hats off to Simon. 7 straight on hard courts and a win over Fed.


jane Says:

Wow…that’s a great win for Simon. He held his nerve at the end there.

Pretty hard loss for Roger – wow. Sorry to his fans; he just didn’t seem himself tonight.


anel Says:

It look MONO is back.


Ezorra Says:

Are you kidding???? GOSH!!!!! Federer lost to Simon?!?!?! GOSH!!!


Shital Green Says:

Simon upsets Fed. Shocking !


Von Says:

Matt:

“Ups, I’m sorry, I didn’t read your post, Von.”

I’m inconsolable, in that, you don’t read my posts. Are they that bad? Maybe I need to change my style of writing? And, this is a loaded question, where every anti-Von character will be taking some shots at me. Oh well, par for the course, n’est-ce pas? :)


Mary Says:

What ia the excuse for that?


Shital Green Says:

It is sad to see the GOAT losing in the first round.
My condolences to Fed fans.


Mary Says:

What’s the last match were Fed was bounced in the first round?


Vulcan Says:

That was a pretty important match for Federer confidence wise….the last thing he needs right now is a first round loss. Will surely make things immediately very interesting for the #1 contention.


blah Says:

wow… when’s the last time Federer’s forehand cost him the match…


Von Says:

Oh my, Giles Simon, my apologies to you. I said you weren’t successful against the top 10 players — I’m now wiping the egg off of my face. i know one guy that’s going to be smiling now, and the winnwer is — ANDY RODDICK. This sudden turn of events now places a whole different complexion on the draw, and Djoko, Roddick, Nadal and every other Joe will be licking their chops.

If Nadal goes deep in this tourney, then that No. 1 spot that’s looming on the horizon is within his grasp.


Mary Says:

Fed will still be No 1 at the end of this week, but next week…..
What freaking excuse can he have for that? He moved like crap, hit like crap, why couldn’t he serve?


Von Says:

Mary:

Dubai.


matt Says:

Wow…this is serious.

I think Federer is having a tough time mentally.

Once you start losing, your confidence goes down quickly.


Vulcan Says:

Shital, referencing Federer as the GOAT is out of sync with the majority opinion on the matter. The consensus has always been that he needs to win the French open to achieve that status in the near term or in the long term amass so many Slams that he is deemed it by virtue of being prolific.


jane Says:

Mary,
Fed was ousted by Murray in Dubai this year, also in the “first” round.

blah,

I’d argue Fed’s forehand errors were part of the reason he lost in the final set at Wimbledon; he whacked a few into the net, including on match point if I am not mistaken. It’s a great shot but for over a year now, he’s been shanking them on and off.


Daniel Says:

51 Unforced Errors in 3 sets. what was that?!
Simon just kept the ball in play and wait Fed to make the mistakes. He was broken 0-40 in 3 games. I never saw that before, not even in that Fish match.

He seems to have lost his temper with someone in the audience. This is the turning point in his career, now I have to admit it! Nadal will be number one after Cincy. He just need to make one final in one of this MS. It was painfull to see Fed start so good and suddenly collapse like that.


rjnick Says:

Losing to Rafa at the French was not good.

Losing to Rafa at Wimbledon was pretty disastrous.

Losing to Simon in the first round of Toronto..that’s got to be pretty damn near catastrophic for Roger.

I mean, Rafa’s win at Wimbledon was exhilarating rather than Roger’s loss shocking…but this loss…this is just stunning.


Mary Says:

Thanks, Jane.

I just don’t understand how someone can unravel like that after winning the first set 6-2. Simon was not playing out of his mind or anything.

Although I am a fan of Fed’s, I am enjoying the drama, just to see where this is all going to lead.


jane Says:

Daniel,

I could not understand what Fed was complaining about; he was telling the crowd to “be quiet” but he was ‘out of sorts’ I thought. And it was early in the second set, when he was winning, so I don’t know why he was so bothered. He seems to have lost the calm demeanor tonight which cost him his focus. But you’re right – so many unforced errors.


jane Says:

Mary,

I agree; it’s not that Simon was playing out of his mind. So I am not sure what was up. Very strange looking match. Maybe Roger has some stuff to work out. I don’t know. But that’s a hard loss, drama or not.

Von,

It sure does open up that side of the draw though doesn’t it? What did I tell you to keep alive?


Von Says:

“he was telling the crowd to “be quiet” but he was ‘out of sorts’ I thought.”

Fed did an Andy Roddick at the AO.

Fed’s forehand has been his unoing for the past 18 months, however, i still hear some say tht his is the best forehand in the game.

I’ve stated before, and will reiterate again, depending on what time of day a match is played the court could be a player’s enemy. Today, it was rainy and windy, which accounted for Fed’s serve being as ineffectiv as it was. I would hazard a guess that the court was cold, hence it disallowed the ball to zip through as it normally would on a hot day, accounting for the meager amount of aces.


matt Says:

Well, it is painful but he is just human.

He’s been playing so freely during three or four years because he was so ahead and he knew he was the best, head and shoulders above the rest.

But know, this year, he feels he is being challenged seriously for the very first time, and he knows this guy (Nadal) is here to tame the tennis world, and add to this that after Nadal it comes Djokovic who will surely tame the tennis world sooner or later.

I think that for the first time during his reign, he feels the pressure, he feels unsecure.

It is not easy when you don’t feel anymore that you are the top dog.


Mary Says:

I did notice that Fed’s coach looked antsy in the first set. Also, Mirka looked like crap-not saying that to make fun- I just wonder what is really going on in Camp Fed.
It may have done him some good to read the press after Wimbl.


Shital Green Says:

Von,
Ref: “i know one guy that’s going to be smiling now”

I was thinking exactly the same thing just a second ago. This opens a big opportunity for Roddick. He better not waste it. And he has a winning record against Simon (H2H 1-0 last year at Miami).

But Simon is playing very well on hard court this year. He just won a title at Indy, plus right after AO Open, he defeated Djoko at Marseille. Roddick cannot take him lightly, though.


Sardino Says:

Sorry to Fed fans but this makes everything a lot more interesting.


Gordo Says:

Let me extract earlier quotes from this blog -

Shital Green said “Roger’s draw looks dicey”? He has the easiest road to the quarter after Gulbis exited. I wanted to watch Fed-Gulbis match. The only challenge he will face is Roddick in the quarter.” Later he wrote, “Looks like it is going to an easy ride for Fed. Simon is no match for him.”

Von said “He’s (Federer’s) got an easy road to the SFs, as always.” Later he wrote, “Simon is not a threat to most of the top 10 players so I’m not at all surprised that he’ll lose.”

And of course I earlier wrote – I think he (Federer) wants to send a message here, and poor Monsieur Simon will be the conduit.”

Well, well, well!! Isn’t this what makes the game so great.

THIS PRETTY WELL ENSURES THAT RAPHAEL NADAL WILL AT SOME POINT SOON BECOME THE NUMBER ONE RANKED PLAYER IN THE WORLD.

With FEDERER now dropping to 6255, at the very worst NADAL, who is defending semi final points of 225 will wind up with one of the following – if he wins this tournament – 6105, if he loses in the final – 5955, if he loses in the semis – 5830, if he loses in the quarters – 5730.

With Federer defending the title at both Cincinnati and the US Open he CANNOT gain any points. NADAL on the other hand lost in the FIRST ROUND AT CINCINNATI (5 points to defend) and the ROUND OF 16 at the US OPEN (150 points).

To put it simply – FEDERER COULD WIN CINCINNATI AND THE US OPEN AND ALL RAFA WOULD HAVE TO DO IS MAKE THE SEMIS OF TORONTO, THE QUARTERS OF CINCINNATI AND THE SEMIS OF THE US OPEN AND THE POINT TOTAL WOULD BE -

FEDERER – 6255 NADAL – 6350.

Now – the Olympics are going to be free points for Federer and near-free points for Nadal, but realistically, the record of 1 person consecutively being the number one player in the world is about to come to an end.


Noel Says:

I almost expected this upset.I wrote about the in-form opponent that Fed was playing in my 1:33 p.m. post although I never expected Fed to be so rusty.This is the second time now this year and Fed’s crisis-esp on hard courts-gets deeper.Not a single hard court final this year for a player who once dominated the surface.


Vulcan Says:

Gordo thanks for the Math…but please…at least get the guys name right…hes not the famous painter…its Rafael.


jane Says:

I also thought Roger’s road would be easier, but I made an exception of Simon, because I knew they had not played before and that he had won last week; however, after the first set I totally thought Roger would win – and when he got the second break in the 3rd I did too. I think we all did. Roger’s loss was truly a shock this time.


Von Says:

Shital:

You’re right Andy has a golden opportunity. As you probably noticed from my posts, I’ve been fretting about Andy being on Fed’s side of the draw, well, I take that back. Andy, is a question mark though, he has that niggling back problem and has come into this tournament very match deprived — having only played approx. 8 matches from May in Rome to the present time. That’s not enough to get him in the swing. We’ll just have to hope and do the wait and see game.

He played well against Simon in Miami, but that was a different Simon. Let’s hope simon gets tired from too much match play plus the exhiliaration of taking out Fed.Only time will tell.


Shital Green Says:

Gordo,
Unpredictable things happen in sports. This is one of those instances.

Keep sharing the math with us until it actually happens in the ATP ranking chart. You have been proving good entertainment (in a positive sense).
Thanks !


Vulcan Says:

“Let’s hope simon gets tired from too much match play plus the exhiliaration of taking out Fed”

Emmmmm…lets not


Gordo Says:

Vulcan – and Mr. Nadal -

Sorry for the first name spelling mistake.

But I am right with the math!


Von Says:

Gordo:

“Von said “He’s (Federer’s) got an easy road to the SFs, as always.” Later he wrote, “Simon is not a threat to most of the top 10 players so I’m not at all surprised that he’ll lose.””

I am a girl, a she, not a “he”. But it’s difficult for you to know that as Von is usually affiliated with males rather than females. No problem. :)

___________
jane:

Yes, you did say, keep the hope alive. I just hope Rover moves his bloomin arse and makes the most of this opportunity. However, Acasuso has given Roddick some problems in the past, so it’s a wait and see proposition.


Gordo Says:

Von -

all these nice bloggers and here I am like a bull in a china shop!

First I get Nadal’s first name wrong, and now label you a dude.

Heartfelt apologies. Now I know!!!


jane Says:

Gordo – you’re the local Fed-Nadal math expert. Could you throw Djoko in there next time, even though I know you don’t like him??

If a player wins a tournament he won last year, he gets the winner’s points right? It’s only if he loses that he loses the points because he didn’t defend them, right? Or if he didn’t win and goes beyond last year’s results, he gains. I don’t know. I just check the rankings on Monday and leave the calculating to others. LOL.


Vulcan Says:

Gordo thanks again, and after many years of watching tennis I think your explanation has finally allowed me to understand the concept of “defending points”…guess I just never stopped and thought about it long enough.


matt Says:

I’m a bit down with this defeat.

Now is clear to me that Nadal will be nº1 after the USOPEN and perhaps before the USOPEN.

But on the other hand I’m happy for Nadal. He’s a great guy, a great fighter and he deserves it totally.

Anyway, I always knew that this day would come sooner or later, that Federer could not be nº1 forever.

Not that it makes it easier to watch.


JCF Says:

Wow Sean.. you are prescient.

Federer just lost his first round match to Simon. He won the title last year, so he’s going to lose 500 ranking points after Beijing.

If Rafa makes the SF and loses to Djokovic, he will be 500 points ahead of Fed when last year’s points are removed.

I guess that Wimby loss really has affected Fed after all.


Vulcan Says:

It is bad timing for sure but if memory serves the North American hard court swing has not always been peaches and cream for Federer…there was that loss to Hrbaty in Cincy that snapped his winning streak.


JCF Says:

Rafa needs 271 points more than Fed between Canada and Cincinati to gain #1 when last year’s points are removed. Maybe even less if Roger does badly in Cincinati.


Gordo Says:

Jane – who I assume is female -

Okay – I have not been including the Djoker in my math because he is still a ways behind and is defending a fair number of points – currently he has 4945 points and he won Canada last year, so he can not gain any points this week.

At Cincinnati he lost in the round of 32 – so although he is only defending a paltry 5 points and he stands to gain 495 points by winning the Masters tournament there, the truth is that – like Fed – he is defending a whack of points from the 2007 US Open – 700, for being the runner-up.

So – why have I not included him in the #1 discussion? Because even if he wins Canada, Cincinnati and the US Open his point total would be 5740. Unless Roger and Rafa lose badly in both he is not catching either.

Tah – dah!


Shital Green Says:

Von,
Simon probably won’t get tired, but he could lose in the next round to Acasuso, who defeated Gulbis and Gonzalez earlier. Simon’s moment of exhilaration won’t subside in a day or two. He will take the win as if he won the tournament. The moment is simply too big for him to handle normally. It is a moment I would be celebrating at least for a week.
That should clear Roddick’s road to the final. But he’s got send Cilic home first, which should not be difficult (H2H 1-0, Queens 2007). Right now nobody can challenge Roddick on his half of the draw. I am really excited about his prospect here.

Correction in Gordo comment: “providing” for “proving”


Noel Says:

Von,
Find my response on the relevant thread.I wrote it a while back.BTW,it is very nice to see you shake off the pessimism that I had been noticing ever since the draw came out.Best of luck for the rest of the tournament now! :) On the other hand,I am now getting genuinely worried about Fed’s mental state.His confidence must have hit a new low.I guess its my turn to get pessimistic.


jane Says:

Gordo,

“Jane – who I assume is female…Tah – dah!”

LOL – yep I am female. Thanks for that math! I didn’t mean the #1 conversation, I was just wondering where Djoko was at in the “race”. I am aware he has a whack of points to defend other than at Cincy.


Von Says:

Shital:

“Right now nobody can challenge Roddick on his half of the draw. I am really excited about his prospect here.”

I wish I could be as OPTIMISTIC as you are, but seriously, Andy has that back problem and i find it difficult to discount that. NormallY, if he were healthy, I’d be counting my chickens even before they’re hatched, but not so now.

___________
Matt:

I’m so sorry you feel down, but I’ve been there several times with Roddick when he lost his No. 1 spot, and then the worst was last year at Toronto no less, when he dropped from No. 3 to what is now No. 6. It’s not easy for us if we’re die hard fans. Cheer up, all is not losT; Fed’s still No. 1. :P

___________
Jane:

You’re funny. I can see you’re figuring Djoko into the No. 2 spot, but sorry to disappoint you, he’s going to have to work pretty hard to stay at No. 3. Anyway, keep the faith alive. :)


Shital Green Says:

Jane,
I did not know that you were zero in math.
You saved $10 last year (=win) and spent $5 this year (loss). How much do you have now? The answer is $5 (current Ranking). All you will need to do is tally the players’ Ranking Breakdown and ATP Rankings Points Allocations.
I am just picking on you because you live in between Highway 16 and 97. This is high school math.


Noel Says:

Gordo,
Nole still has a theoretical potential to ‘gain’ around 2700 points in the rest of the season even though he can gain only those 795 points in the us open series events that he plans to play.Add the olympics’ 400 points and Nole comes back into serious contention.With fed faltering,Nole becomes an even bigger favorite to win the most points in the rest of the season.However,the top rank is still a bit unrealistic for Nole unless Rafa also starts to make early exits from tournaments.Given the way Fed is going,Nole has a very good chance of finishing the year second behind Rafa.


JCF Says:

“If Rafa makes the SF and loses to Djokovic, he will be 500 points ahead of Fed when last year’s points are removed.”

“Rafa needs 271 points more than Fed between Canada and Cincinati to gain #1 when last year’s points are removed. Maybe even less if Roger does badly in Cincinati.”

I am totally, and utterly wrong here. Disregard this. Fed is only defending finalist points. His title was in Cincinatti.

But the heat has very much been turned up now. He must defend Cincinatti title to prevent a further slide (he can’t gain any points from there) and do well at the Olympics to mitigate the lost points at Toronto.


Gordo Says:

I notice a BIZARRE thing going on, and I am as guilty of it as anyone.

Why does NO ONE want to mention the World #4 seed?

He made the quarters of this tournament last year and the semis of both the US Open and Cincinnati.

But NOBODY WISHES TO SAY HIS NAME!!! So I will. I will even space the letters out and give it a line of its own -

N i k o l a y D a v y d e n k o

There – now I don’t feel so bad and I doubt he will come up in the blog again.

Ha!


matt Says:

Thanks Von.

I feel OK, it was just that I expected Federer to do well here, and this defeat has surprised me.

But that’s tennis, and though at the end of last year everybody was sure that Federer would break
Sampras’s GS record this season, all of a sudden everything has changed.

That’s life.

Being positive we now have a very interesting situation:

¿How long will Nadal hold the nº1?

¿Will Federer eventually surpass Sampras’s records (14 GS, 286 weeks at nº1, 6 years-end-nº1)?

¿Will Djokovic be nº1 before Federer recover it again?

¿Will we see a new era in which the nº1 changes hands weekly?

A very interesting new era starts.


JCF Says:

Vulcan Says:

“Shital, referencing Federer as the GOAT is out of sync with the majority opinion on the matter. The consensus has always been that he needs to win the French open to achieve that status in the near term or in the long term amass so many Slams that he is deemed it by virtue of being prolific.”

That’s why I don’t like using that GOAT term. He isn’t there yet, he’s not the greatest player of all time. But he is the BEST, aka BOAT. If he’s the best, then why doesn’t he have more slams than Pete? Well because his career isn’t over yet. When he does, he will be GOAT as well as BOAT. Pete will be out of the discussion. If one of his slams is the FO (looking more and more doubtful now) then his place will be cemented.


Von Says:

Noel Says:

Von,
Find my response on the relevant thread.I wrote it a while back.BTW,it is very nice to see you shake off the pessimism that I had been noticing ever since the draw came out.Best of luck for the rest of the tournament now! On the other hand,I am now getting genuinely worried about Fed’s mental state.His confidence must have hit a new low.I guess its my turn to get pessimistic.”

Thanks for the reply. I responded on the relevant thread also. Reply any time that is convenient for you — it is appreciated. :)

I didn’t realize my pessimism over the draw was so blatant. Sorry yours is now surfacing. I’ve been through so many disappointments with Andy that now I just take them as they come. It’s tough being a fan or a sports enthusiast. Fed’s just going through a bad spell, like most athletes, but it doesn’t make it any easier,when it’s the athlete that you most favor. Keep your chin up. :)


jane Says:

Shital Green,

Quit picking on me! I am an English M.A. – what do you expect? I have a good accountant but she won’t calculate rankings for me.

Von,

I’ll take #3, so long as he keeps it. But it doesn’t hurt to know the math, just in case!


JCF Says:

“I just don’t understand how someone can unravel like that after winning the first set 6-2. Simon was not playing out of his mind or anything.”

He did exactly the same thing against Albert Costa here in 2004. First round match, took the first set 6-1, then narrowly got beaten in the 2nd and 3rd sets. It looked like he was going to destroy Costa. His loss to Berdych at the Olympics was in the same fashion. He’s been unravelling when serving to stay in the set/match.


Vulcan Says:

JCF I can only surmise that by the Best you mean the most talented. Im sure Federer is at the top of the list for alot of people there but that is an entirely different discussion from the Greatest.


Noel Says:

Matt,
I can understand what you are going through.I am a big Fed fan myself and despite expecting his imminent and inevitable decline,it really is painful when one actually witnesses the process unfold.I share your sentiments about Rafa.He really deserves it.


Von Says:

Goodness gracious me, if Tennis.X had one of those telethon boards, it would be lighting up like a Christmas tree with the humungous posts since Fed’s loss to Simon. Everybody and his brother, uncle, whatever is posting. Delightfully stupendous!!.


Vulcan Says:

There seems to have been alot of anticipation as to how Roger and Rafa would each respond to the tremendous paradigm shift that occurred at Wimbledon…Nadal also started off shaky in his match against Levine and perhaps today was more luck than anything for him.


matt Says:

Thanks Noel.

During the match I’ve had a strange feeling. At one point I suddenly rememebered the tough time I had watching Sampras last two years (2001 and 2002), when he was playing so bad.

Those were painful memories, Pete losing his game….fortunately he had a glorius farewell.

But Federer is still turning 27, quite young yet. He can still achieve a lot.


JCF Says:

Vulcan Says:

“JCF I can only surmise that by the Best you mean the most talented. Im sure Federer is at the top of the list for alot of people there but that is an entirely different discussion from the Greatest.”

That is precisely what I meant. With an addition, though not a fair one: He is a better player than any other, meaning that he can beat anyone in history. The caveat being that you can’t compare players accross generations, so it wouldn’t be fair. But when you take into account what Fed can do, and the level of his opponents, and then do the same for Pete and Rod compared to their opponents, Fed comes out on top. You can’t compare them directly with each other, but you can compare them on differential between self and the rest of the class.


matt Says:

Yes Vulcan, as I said earlier Nadal was so slow in his movements. He looked flat-footed, he looked like Karlovic or something.

He needs to move far better in his next match if he wants to stay in the tournament.


Shital Green Says:

Jane,
Djoko can be No. 1 if he wins Toronto, Olympics, Cincy, US Open, Madrid, Paris, and TMC. This is improbable, if not impossible.

He has to defend 1685 points. He will have to win at Toronto and Vienna, reach final at USO and semi at Madrid. It should not be difficult for him to keep his 4945 point.
If he does not lose in Toronto and wins Olympic (400 points), Cincy (495), USO (300 points), Vienna (0 points), Madrid (275), Paris (495), and TMC (700), he will have 7610 points. Nobody would catch him. This looks improbable. Let’s say he loses at Paris and TMC and does not earn any points, he can still have 6415. Let’s say he loses at Cincy again in the 1st round, he will still have 5920. Let’s say, he loses at Madrid too in the 1st round, he will still have 5645. This is very probable and will be enough to climb to No. 2 (if Fed loses at Cincy and USO at or before the semi final,he will have maximum 5425, granted both earn equal points at the Olympics).

For Fed to keep his 6250 points (after Toronto loss), he will have to win Cincy, USO, Basel, TMC, and reach Final at Madrid and R16 at Paris. He has to defend 2825 after Toronto, 1140 points more than Djokovic. This is a tall order.


Vulcan Says:

I must say…Federer’s loss today doesn’t feel as much like a loss to Simon as it does another loss to Nadal. There is another player that is rubbing his hands together and thats James Blake…Federer has been his nemisis on hard courts on numerous occassions so hes as happy as Roddick at this point.


jane Says:

Thanks Shital, for the calculations. I really wasn’t thinking about Djoko getting to #1 when I asked Gordo about the math. I would like to see Rafa be the one to take it from Fed, since he’s been pushing him for so long and so hard. But if Novak can go up a step to # 2, or even stay # 3, that’s good enough for me.


Gordo Says:

Re – the GOAT discussion

Okay – I am a HUGE Federer fan, and I want to point out that of all his achievements the SINGLE greatest one of them all is his ongoing streak at Grand Slams of having made at least the Semi-Finals of 16 consecutive slams. (10 Championships, 3 runner-ups and 3 Semi-final s) I mean wow.

However, I agree that for him to seriously be considered the greatest he needs to do 2 of the following either 1) win the French Open 2) Surpass Pete in total weeks as number one [ he will need to be on top for another 50 weeks, approximately] and/or 3) pass Pete’s 14 Grand Slam total. If he does all 3, then he is solidly the GOAT, at least of the modern era.

However, I always like to end these GOAT discussions by saying that no one can have a hand on the GOAT Trophy while they are still holding a tennis racquet in their other hand – let time and the rest of Roger’s career help decide.

But…

The only man who still might lay claim to being the all time GOAT, other that Sampras is Rod Laver. Some of you might not know this, but the two-time Grand Slam winner may only have a total of 11 Slams [Only being relative], but he won his first Grand Slam as an amateur in 1962, after which he turned professional, making him INELIGIBLE for any of the majors in 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966,or 1967.

In 1968, the start of the modern era when pros were allowed to compete in the Majors, he won Wimbledon and then in 1969 WON ANOTHER GRAND SLAM, WINNING ALL 4 MAJORS. He was then 31 years of age.

One can only wonder how many more of the 20 Grand Slam events the man could have won had he been able to play, when he was 26 to 30 years of age.

I know, I know – a different era, different equipment, different training, etc.

But the man because of his great achievement deserves this mention.!!!


JCF Says:

I’m aware of the Laver factor, which is why in my list of GOAT, I have him and Borg at the top two spots (though I don’t know who is #1).

Laver would have won more slams if he wasn’t banned from competition, and so would Borg if he didn’t retire the year McEnroe beat him at Wimbledon. Or if he went to Australia each year instead of skipping it. Sure it wasn’t a very prestigious tournament, but a slam is a slam.


Vulcan Says:

Gordo, those achievements that you mentioned are representative of the past consensus view of what Federer needed to accomplish to be considered the GOAT (I dont recall ever hearing the 2nd item being mentioned though). Im not sure where the present consensus opinion is…there frankly hasnt been as much discussion of it since the French Open. I think one of the factors that has to be taken into consideration is a players dominance over the span of their entire career and that has changed markedly this year for Federer.


Vulcan Says:

I would still seem that if Federer were to win the French open AND surpass Sampras’s GS record that he would then unequivocally be the GOAT.


Gordo Says:

Vulcan -

Yes it has changed, but it could change again in 6 months, which is why I still say let’s let time and Federer’s acomplishments over the next 4 or 5 years decide. Then we can judge, rather than guess and speculate.

JCF – yes, Laver probably would have won more slams if he could have played them, and he would have.

But Borg… IF “he went to Australia each year instead of skipping it.” That’s a pretty lame “if.” He wasn’t that great on a hard surface and he did retire… no, tired of the sport and QUIT. So please don’t use the what if argument with Borg.

It’s kind of up there with “If my Aunt had balls she would be my Uncle!”


Shital Green Says:

Gordo and JCF,
Just to clarify, I used the term for sarcasm. My intention was to trivialize the term. Those who have been here longer know this. My position has not been different than yours. I was an unconditional supporter of Fed’s until the end of 2006. Since then, I have downgraded myself to the position of a critical appreciator. I do not obsessively drool over the history, though I have reasonable respect for it. I try to enjoy the present moment. I still enjoy Fed’s choreographic, effortless play.


Vulcan Says:

Well yeah Gordo…but I disagree with the notion that a player has to be retired before he or she can be deemed the greatest…Federer was on the cusp of achieving that status in the eyes of many(John McEnroe being one of the more vocal).


Gordo Says:

Shital Green, Jane, Vulcan, Von, JCF and all -

You folks are fun to blog with. Bright, polite and with a proper knowledge of English. Is this really on the internet? Ha!

See you all in here in the future.

Peace!


Gordo Says:

Vulcan – you are right of course and I do agree with you. When Fed gets 15 Grand Slams – one of them being the French Open, and is on top for at least another year we can call him the GOAT, even if he is still playing.

I said WHEN, because I hope it happens, but really it is still a speculative “IF,” and look at my earlier entry to see my “If” comment.


Von Says:

Gordo:

**** “Shital Green, Jane, Vulcan, Von, JCF and all -
You folks are fun to blog with. Bright, polite and with a proper knowledge of English. Is this really on the internet? Ha!

See you all in here in the future. peace!”****

Are you leaving us or just taking a sabbatical? I hope you won’t be gone for too long. I, for one, have enjoyed your insightful and illuminating posts, and as such, will miss you. Enjoy whatever it is that will keep you from posting. Adieu, and Bon Soir, Gordo. :D


JCF Says:

Gordo

“But Borg… IF “he went to Australia each year instead of skipping it.” That’s a pretty lame “if.” He wasn’t that great on a hard surface and he did retire… no, tired of the sport and QUIT. So please don’t use the what if argument with Borg.”

Rubbish. The Australian Open was played on grass until it moved to Melbourne Park in 1988. If he can win Wimbledon, he can win the AO on grass. Hard court has nothing to do with Australia since it was played on grass for the entirety of his career.

And someone who ‘wasn’t that great’ on hard court did make the US Open finals more than once.


Shital Green Says:

Gordo,
Thanks for enjoying our company. We are really great people with great minds. I am not kidding. I promise you will have more fun with us.
Only nice people can say nice things about others.
You seem to qualify for that. Hope other Fed fans find you to be emulated.

JCF got you there about the surface change happening only in 1988. But the GOAT conversation is still, in JCF’s harsh words, “rubbish.”


JCF Says:

I looked up wikipedia on court surfaces, because I don’t buy anyone’s argument that a player (whether Nadal or anyone) can have a weakness on hard courts. Especially not at this early a stage in his career. He hasn’t had enough chances yet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennis_court

Hard courts

//////(All Weather Surfaces) Hard courts, usually made of concrete or asphalt, are considered “medium” surfaces, where fast hard-hitting players have a slight advantage. Hard courts can vary in speed, but they are faster than clay and slower than grass courts, which allows the ball to slide. These courts are considered the most equal for all playing styles. The U.S. Open is played on DecoTurf, an acrylic hard court, while the Australian Open is played on a synthetic hardcourt Plexicushion, having previously used Rebound Ace.//////

Key thing here is that hard courts are a medium surface, and they are most equal for all playing styles.

Grass courts

//////Grass courts are the fastest type of tennis court in common use (AstroTurf is faster but is primarily only used for personal courts). They consist of grass grown on very hard-packed soil, similar to golf greens, which adds an additional variable: bounces depend on how healthy the grass is, how recently it has been mown, and the wear and tear of recent play. Points are usually very quick where fast, low bounces keep rallies short, and the serve plays a more important role than on other surfaces.//////

You may disagree on whether Wimbledon 08′s courts fit this description, but the courts themselves have not changed in the last 5 years. When people wrote off Rafa’s grass chances, back then the grass was the same as it is now. And they are still faster than hard courts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grass-court_specialist

//////A grass-court specialist is a tennis player who excels on grass courts but does not perform to the same standard on hard courts, clay courts or other surfaces. The term is generally only applied to professional players on the ATP and WTA tours, rather than to average players.

A common feature of grass court specialists is their ability to serve and volley. A serve-and-volley player is at a distinct advantage on a grass court because his or her service is quickened enough to force the receiver to handle it quite defensively rather than aggressively, as can be the case on a slower surface. Their effectiveness at the net is therefore greatly improved. Grass court specialists are in direct contrast to clay court specialists, and the two differing styles (and players) generally do poorly on the other surface.

The term “grass court specialist” is used somewhat less often than “hard-court specialist” and much less often than “clay-court specialist”, because fewer players meet the description.

Some examples of prominent past and present players who are frequently referred to as grass court specialists are: Boris Becker, Pat Cash, Stefan Edberg, Tim Henman, Mario Ancic, and Jana Novotna. While rarely referred to as grass court specialists, Pete Sampras, Venus Williams and current world number 1 Roger Federer have all had their best results on grass.//////

Grass is in direct contrast to clay. Hard courts are in between the two. If you can win on these two, logic would follow that you can win on the “averaged” surface also. Anyone using the “hardness” of the court or “predictability” of the bounce as their justification for hard court weakness is merely grasping at straws.

You’ve got to do more convincing for me to believe that any player’s (much less Rafa’s) weakest surface is hard. I’ve heard it all and I’m not swayed. That he hasn’t won a slam on hard yet but has on other surfaces speaks only of the order in which things have happened for him, not that he is going against the odds on hard. Federer, believe it or not, was raised on clay. His success on grass came before clay however. Rafa had likely not had much experience on grass until he first played on it as a pro, and didn’t get many matches in.


Giner Says:

I’m going to attempt to offer my friend JCF a few observations:

Why has he won Wimbledon before a hard court slam?

- Nadal has clearly improved his game outside the clay in 2008 compared to 2007. We have not yet seen the improved Nadal on hard court yet. Wimbledon just happens to come before USO in the calendar. He’s improved on every surface, not just the grass but in general. Yes, that includes the clay, as scary as that may sound. He didn’t drop a set this year at RG. He’s able to hit a flatter ball, step forward, and play more aggressively when he needed to. And he’s definately improved his serve. Fed only broke him once in that epic 5 set final.

- He is better at adjusting to unpredictable bounces than his opponents are, as well as slippery ground. Clay and grass have these characteristics but hard courts don’t. This is not his problem IMO, but his opponent’s.

- That is because he has the athleticism and speed to get to the ball quicker in order to adjust to the skidding and unpredictable bounces than other players. This is an advantage on grass courts. The same can be said of Federer and Hewitt. On hard, the bounce is predictable, giving his opponents time to set up their shot against him. It allows them to play more aggressive. He loses an advantage.

- Nadal wants Wimbledon much more than a US Open or Australian Open. He went as far as errecting a grass court in his back yard a few years ago for this purpose. That was back when pundits scoffed at the suggestion that he wanted to win Wimbledon.

- More players are raised on hard courts than grass courts, so more players feel they have a chance against him. It is like a home court advantage to them on hard, perhaps.

- He’s not as bad on hard courts as people like to think. He made the semis at AO, and it took a guy playing out of his mind to beat him. The way Tsonga was playing that day, he would have beat anyone except Federer. The last few guys who beat him at hard court slams perhaps were ‘on’ that day, because they invariably went on to lose their next rounds.

- The grass may have gotten slower some years ago, but so did the US Open’s hard courts.

- He always carries momentum into the grass season, since it follows his always stellar clay season. He’s feeling confident, and on top of the world in June, as is normally the case. This time he keeps the momentum, having won Wimbledon. The last two years, he had to rebound from a disappointing loss at Wimbledon, and that’s not easy. In 2005, he had no Wimbledon disappointment to wear him down and incidentally, a great second half with Beijing and two AMS hard court titles. Fed on the other hand always won Wimbledon and carried his momentum into an equally excellent NA hard court season. Perhaps Federer is now the one feeling the effect of a heart breaking Wimby loss this time. I do not take credit for this observation. Someone else pointed it out on this blog.

That’s my take.

Gordo:

‘But Borg… IF “he went to Australia each year instead of skipping it.” That’s a pretty lame “if.” He wasn’t that great on a hard surface and he did retire… no, tired of the sport and QUIT. So please don’t use the what if argument with Borg.

It’s kind of up there with “If my Aunt had balls she would be my Uncle!”’

If JCF’s rebuke about hard court wasn’t enough, Borg had chances to win the USO on grass, and then three times on clay before it changed to hard court. For most of his career, the US Open was not even played on hard court. He only needed to win 3 Australian Opens (on grass) to match Pete’s tally of 14. He never went to Australia at all. Pity. Your Aunt analogy straw man would be like saying, ‘what if Pete was a better player? Then he might have 25 slams.’


Spin Says:

“We are really great people with great minds. I am not kidding. I promise you will have more fun with us.”

Oh that sounds awesome.


Gordo Says:

You guys are missing my point. Maybe I was trying to be too cute with the aunt/uncle thing.

All I was saying is that Laver WOULD have played those 20 majors, had he the opportunity, but he was not allowed to.

Borg COULD have not retired, and he COULD have played Australia, but he chose not to.

Therein lies the difference.

Bobby Jones quit golf after only a few years. Oh, a lot of golf fans say – he could have had way more majors than Nicklaus if he hadn’t retired.

But he did retire – therefore Nicklaus has the most majors – for now.

Borg was selective and he chose to retire – therefore Sampras has the most majors – for now.

You rarely see the best player of all time in any sport described as someone who was a quitter. Think Gretzky in hockey, Pele in soccer, Nicklaus or Tiger in golf, Jordan or Chamberlain in basketball – did any of them pack it in after a few titles?

And JCF – yeah – Borg WASN’T THAT GREAT at the US Open. He reached the finals but never won? Uh – yeah… and???

Federer has reach the finals at Roland Garros and has never won. Would you like to try to say Federer is GREAT on clay? No – he is merely very good. GREATNESS is for winners.


anel Says:

To Andrea:I hope You now know haw it looks when Your Federer had fiasco.

To FRIEND: I am glad that You got that cold water to Your head before Novak did.


JCF Says:

“All I was saying is that Laver WOULD have played those 20 majors, had he the opportunity, but he was not allowed to.

Borg COULD have not retired, and he COULD have played Australia, but he chose not to.”

My ‘what if’ was not about what he would do if he played on. My ‘what if’ was more about, what if he had a better work ethic? What if he didn’t feel content with what he’d done?

“And JCF – yeah – Borg WASN’T THAT GREAT at the US Open. He reached the finals but never won? Uh – yeah… and???”

You were talking about him being ‘not that great’ on hard courts. Now you’ve mysteriously removed the hard court reference and just referred to it as US Open.

“He wasn’t that great on a hard surface and he did retire… no, tired of the sport and QUIT. So please don’t use the what if argument with Borg.”

Hard court slams were not relevant in his time. He never won a hard court slam, but neither did Laver. Your point doesn’t hold. Why the double standards? You’re saying it’s ok to play what if for Laver, but not ok for Borg because he sucks at hard courts.

My point still holds. If Borg had a better work ethic and went to Australia, even without extending his career, by age 25, he would have more slams than 11. My guess is at least 14. He would have been playing AO in a time when he still had the desire to win.

“Federer has reach the finals at Roland Garros and has never won. Would you like to try to say Federer is GREAT on clay? No – he is merely very good. GREATNESS is for winners.”

Fed has proven his greatness without winning the FO, as Borg has without winning the USO.

I never argued that Federer was great on clay. I argued that he was great overall.


Fedex Says:

Surely if Fed is great on clay, he has to be the GOAT, no?

Federer is in top 5 GOATs on Grass, top 5 GOATs on Hardcourt (very probably in the top 3 in both) and definitely in the top 10 GOATs on clay – I personally cant see any other clay-great other than nadal, and borg having a winning record against fed on clay. (maybe kuerten. remember clay is not just french, but the italian and german open and MC). How many clay courters have made atleast 2 finals on each of those 4 premier clay court tournaments. Fed made 3RG, 5hamburg (winning 4) 2 rome and 3 MC finals. It is hard to argue Fed wouldn’t be in the top 5 Clay GOATs with those kind of numbers. (wilander and lendl are other clay GOATS)

Compare that with Sampras who may not be in the top 25 clay courters of all time. Borg most probably will not be in the top 10 hardcourters of all time. Yes he has 4 finals – but players like agassi have 6GS on hardcourts.

Then there were two – Federer and Laver! Let me see if Laver ever played on hard-courts and how he did in terms of titles won.


JCF Says:

“I personally cant see any other clay-great other than nadal, and borg having a winning record against fed on clay.”

You’re comparing players across eras here with different racquet technology. That just doesn’t work.

“How many clay courters have made atleast 2 finals on each of those 4 premier clay court tournaments. Fed made 3RG, 5hamburg (winning 4) 2 rome and 3 MC finals.”

This is where I have to disagree. Terms are subjective, but ‘great’ to me means winning them. There is no doubt at all that he is one of the best on clay in terms of skill and talent, but that isn’t most people’s definition of ‘great’.

“It is hard to argue Fed wouldn’t be in the top 5 Clay GOATs with those kind of numbers. ”

He’s one of the top 5 most ‘skilled’ on clay, courtesy of an all-round game. But again, I can’t use the word ‘greatest’. It is technically possible to be a ‘great’ player in general on any surface without ever winning a slam if we are that lax in requirements.

“(wilander and lendl are other clay GOATS)”

Also Vilas.

“Compare that with Sampras who may not be in the top 25 clay courters of all time.”

I wouldn’t even put him in the top 50. With 64 titles to his name, only one was on clay.

“Borg most probably will not be in the top 10 hardcourters of all time.”

Hard courts were irrelevant during his time.

“Yes he has 4 finals – but players like agassi have 6GS on hardcourts.”

I’m not sure if any of those finals were even on hardcourt…

“Let me see if Laver ever played on hard-courts and how he did in terms of titles won.”

And that is his fault? You take a point against him for something he has no control over?

Take off those Red and white tinted glasses Fedex. See the world for what it really is rather than what you want it to be — a pedestal for Federer.

Until Fed solves the Nadal riddle at RG, he’s not going to be considered ‘great’. He’ll have to settle for ‘very good’. You can use the argument that if not for Fed, Roddick would have 4 slams, and Rafa 7. Of course no Fed fan accepts these ‘what ifs’. It has to work both ways. You can’t say that Fed was misfortunate to be in Nadal’s era, or he would be head and shoulders above any contender for GOAT. Everyone else is misfortunate to be in Fed’s era.

Rafa had to beat the best grass courter to earn his Wimbledon. Fed is going to have to do the same – beat the best clay courter and earn his RG if he wants his clay credentials to be recognized. I can’t remember which bold blogger it was, but they audaciously wrote that Rafa would win Wimbledon before Federer wins a French. This was probably after last year’s FO. I wanted to believe, but couldn’t. A year later, the author looks like a genius. As does Wertheim after 2007 Wimby when he said “Rafa will win Wimbledon one day.”

The bottom line is, this is a matter of semantics. Most effective clay court player? He is surely one of them. He has the skill and talent to beat most anyone but Rafa on clay. But ‘greatest’ is something I have to disagree on. Time is running out. I can’t see him doing it unless Rafa is not one of his opponents.


soukayna Says:

hi nadal u are amazing keep going man u can do it dant forget me u x girl soukayna from morocco


matt Says:

Until 1974, the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the USOPEN were played on grass.

From 1975 to 1977 the USOPEN were played on clay.

From 1978 on, the USOPEN has been played on hardcourt.

From 1988 on, the Australian Open has been played on hardcourt too.

Pete Sampras won Roma MS in 1994, Kithbuehel in 1992 and a small clay tournament in 1998.

That’s not too much, but actually he didn`t play a lot of clay tournaments and never seemed to try seriously on that surface(that’s his fault).

Federer grew up on clay.

Connors beat Borg several times on clay (twice at a GS, USOPEN’75 SF and USOPEN’76 Final) so Connors played well on clay. In fact, Connors were not allowed to play RolandGarros in his best year (1974) and because of that he didn’t play again in RG until 1979.

It was a shame, because those five years (74,75,76,77,78) Connors would have had big chances of winning the title.

Borg obviously played well on hardcourts too. He lost the USOPEN’78 Final to Connors, the USOPEN’79 QF to Roscoe Tanner and USOPEN’80 and ’81 Finals to McEnroe.

He could have won, but he didn’t. It’s just that his rival played great in those finals.

I don’t get into the GOAT thing because it doesn’t make sense to me.

(For example, if McEnroe or Sampras were born today they would have to learn to play with more top-spin, with these new strings and racquets, they would play different, maybe they would win more clay titles and less hard titles, you would never know….)


Federer Gets Decker From Roddick in Exchange for Mirka, Higueras Says:

[...] thought going into the Toronto week that we might return in some form to the madness and unpredictability that we saw at the start of [...]


JCF Says:

US Open was played on that hartru american clay. It’s not the same clay as the europpean clay at RG btw.

GOAT isn’t meant to be for comparing two players directly against each other. It’s about comparing player A and player A’s competition against player B and player B’s competition, and who did better against their own competition than the other, taking into account the state of the game, technology, conditions, etc.


Roddick, Federer, Djokovic Out to Find Form in Cincy; Nadal Out for No. 1 Says:

[...] I mentioned last week, the brutal scheduling this summer thanks to the Olympics, guy will have to take breathers at some [...]

Top story: Rafael Nadal: I'm Not Happy About Today, I'm Not Happy With How I Played
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