Rafael Nadal Rolls On in Cincinnati While Federer, Djokovic Struggle
After one round of play, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick continue to have their struggles while Rafael Nadal looks better than ever at Cincinnati. I thought things would reverse this week with Rafa taking a pause and the other three stepping up but early results don’t give that scenario much hope.
Federer really needs to be careful. Eventually, these escape jobs he’s been pulling early in tournaments like the one he did Tuesday against Robby Ginepri or in his comeback against Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo at Monte Carlo are going to get the better of him. They are going to catch up and he’s going to get clipped early in a real bad way. If he’s trying to hand Nadal the No. 1 ranking on a silver platter he’s doing a good job of it.
Ginepri, for his part, serving for the match at 6-5 in the second set has to close that out. But he choked it and to his credit he admitted that much. The nerves, the situation, the pressure, the heat and of course Federer all built up causing him to basically shut down, and Roger gets through. Against a better player Federer’s not going to be as fortunate. But maybe like the Hidalgo match this will serve as some sort of a wake up call, a springboard for Federer going forward because right now he needs one. We’ll see.
Today he should be able to scrape a couple tiebreaks over Ivo Karlovic and survive, but against guys like Kohlschrieber or Soderling who will be waiting in the next round he’s going to need to play better tennis.
Federer wasn’t the only top dog who was unimpressive in his opener, so too was Novak Djokovic who needed two tiebreaks on a fast court to beat Simone Bolleli. The Serb was broken twice by Bolleli who was 2 of 12 of break chances. Djokovic gets another Italian today, Andreas Seppi, in what should be comfortable affair but the way things are going, unless you are Rafa Nadal nothing is coming easy this summer.
Nadal is really having his way with everyone of late, especially after a 6-0, 6-1 destruction over Florent Serra last night. Nadal ups his streak to 30 straight and into the third round where tonight he’s in for what I think will be a tough clash against Tommy Haas. The German has never gotten a set from Nadal in two tries but as the clear-cut underdog here I think Tommy will be relaxed enough to play some good tennis and he might surprise. We all know he’s got the game he just needs to work it out between the ears. It’s a longshot…
The good news for Andy Roddick is that the neck/shoulder/back pain he woke up with that forced him to withdraw from his match against Phil Kohlschreiber was unrelated to the back/shoulder injury that kept him out of the French Open. The bad news is that he’s walking away with very little match play and points from the two summer ATP Masters Series events. Roddick, who turns 26 in a month, will get about a week off to recoup before his second rounder in LA.
Also today we’ll see two pretty good matches with James Blake v. Ernests Gulbis and Andy Murray v. Dmitry Tursunov. Blake will try to get revenge on the Latvian who beat him at the French Open. I give Blake the slight edge here in the heat and in the U.S., but Gulbis certainly has the game to do it.
Murray’s never lost to Turusnov having beaten the Russian on all four surfaces and I think the Scot gets through again.
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