Tsonga Gets Back at Djokovic in Australian Open Final Rematch
by Sean Randall | September 28th, 2008
  • 91 Comments

If you are a Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fan you have to like what you are seeing from your guy. Earlier today in Bangkok, Tsonga avenged an Australian Open final loss to Novak Djokovic, defeating the Serb 7-6(4), 6-4 to claim his first career ATP title at the Thailand Open.

I may have initially overlooked Tsonga in terms of future potential among the young guns coming up. I thought he was a bit too streaky of a player to really become a true, consistent force over a full tennis season, but he’s starting to change my mind. What I like and what impresses me most right now about JW is his ability to overcome adversity.

The kid (he’s 23) had a real tough setback with his knee in May (this to go along with previous back, ab and shoulder injuries that he’s already endured) just ahead of his biggest tournament of the year – the French Open – but he didn’t get down, didn’t get upset and didn’t lose focus. Instead he did what he had to do to get back on the tour.

There were signs of things to come from JW at the US Open where he advanced to the third round, beating Carlos Moya before losing to Tommy Robredo. Not bad for a kid playing in his tournament since Casablanca in mid-May.

And now JW takes his comeback one step further, losing only one set en route to his first tour title, defeating Jurgen Melzer, my man Gael Monfils and then today, Djokovic today. (Novak, who bloodied his eyebrow with his racquet, is titleless since May.)

I remember first seeing JW a few years ago against Roddick at the Australian Open. The kid played Andy really tough, but lost in the end. He had lots of raw power, lots of flare but he was struggling with his weight, fitness and even injuries. But credit to JW, he stuck with it, worked hard and look how nicely it’s paying off. I hope he keeps it going.

Few question Andy Roddick’s work ethic or desire to win. Roddick could have easily packed it in and gone back home to Texas following the US Davis Cup loss to Spain last weekend, but Andy went ahead with his commitment to the Beijing “Challenger” event and he walked away with title No. 26 after defeating Dudi Sela (yes, that Dudi Sela) in the finale 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 today.

But this tournament triumph wasn’t exactly among easiest despite enjoying one of the cushiest draws ever seen in a $500,000+ tournament (Roddick only played one player in the Top 90 – Ferrero all week). Roddick was pushed to three sets in his last three matches in wins over Ferrero, Bjorn Phau and Sela. Granted the competition wasn’t top notch and it wasn’t for Beijing Olympic gold, but I doubt Andy’s losing any sleep over it. He’ll take it.

Roddick now heads to Tokyo to join fellow Top 20ers Tsonga, David Ferrer, Juan Martin Del Potro, Fernando Gonzalez and Richard Gasquet as the guys continue their final push toward Shanghai.


Also Check Out:
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Beats Roger Federer: “It Was Just Amazing, I Am So Happy”
Roger Federer Rallies With Rod Laver During An Australian Open Charity Exo [Video]
Roger Federer Isn’t Going To Go Crazy Looking At His Australian Open Draw
Roger Federer Promotes Exo With Tsonga In This New Video
Nadal, Federer Face Tough Draws at French Open

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91 Comments for Tsonga Gets Back at Djokovic in Australian Open Final Rematch

steve Says:

I’m glad to see he earned his first ATP title. It was a bit ridiculous that a player who made his way to a Grand Slam final, beating the world #2 along the way, hadn’t taken a tour title yet!

He’s a player I love to watch, because he moves effortlessly and volleys beautifully. And because he has a great attitude and sense of fun, as you can see on this clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7m5QGAKyJI

The work ethic is there, for sure, and has always been. It was injury that kept him out for so long.

This is a huge step for him psychologically, taking his first title by defeating a player who had beaten him in a Grand Slam final (and the world #3). I think we’ll start to see him win more tournaments and go much further in the majors (especially Wimbledon, which would be great for his serve and volley tactics).


Daniel Says:

Congrats Tsongafor his win! That’s why I want to see him and Del Potro making to Masters Cup along with the top 4 and Roddick. Everybody will have wins and lost to each other which will make this year end one of the most leveled in years.

Although I still wants Fed to come true! :)


freakyfrites Says:

Hurray for Tsonga! He’s the kind of charismatic talent that will bring new interest to the game, and it’s great to see him holding his own against the top players. Leaving the tour for months to recover from that knee surgery, just as he had gained some serious momentum, was scary for his fans. But like you, I thought his results at the U.S. Open boded well, and now this shows that he’s no blip on the radar.
Novak must be pissed, though – he’s had a good year, but he’s jonesing for a title.


Von Says:

A much deserved victory for Jo Will, and I hope this win will be one of many more to come. He’s certainly got the game to be in the Top 10 and hopefully he’ll remain injury free when he gets there.


gulu Says:

Dear Von! Again congrats to u as ur Roddick won.Whil u believ dat Tsonga has d game 2 be in top 10,I think he’s good enough 2 b among d top 4.To me it seems,Tsonga (lik my Fed)hits d difficult shots almost effortlessly.He’s mindboggling to say d least !


gulu Says:

Dear Von,don’t u think Tsonga’s unplayabl on his day? I certainly do. This guy’s almost devastatingly dangerous! I am lookin forward 2 a Fed v. Tsonga match.


gulu Says:

M also waitin 4 Rafa v. Tsonga ! Ha! Ha! Ha!


Von Says:

gulu:

With Tsonga’s game, he could definitely be in the top 4 — it’s only a matter of time. He’s got great hands at the net and his volleys and groundies are, as you’ve pointed out effortless and also crisp. Some of his net strokes are dreamy. I’d also like to see him play against Nadal again to put away any doubts that his AO victory over Nadal was not a one-off, but the real thing, and that could happen as early as Madrid and/or Paris. The same could happen for a Fed/Tsonga match. If Tsonga remains healthy he’ll become a huge headache for those in the Top 10, my Andy included. But in order for any of those scenarios to come to fruition, Tsonga will have to remain healthy. Don’t you agree?


jane Says:

I know the questions wasn’t addressed to me, but yeah, I think Tsonga’s health is key to his prospects. I also wonder if he’s a bit like Baggy? All charisma and great shot-making, but a little streaky too? It’s difficult to say for sure because after he broke through last year he was injured (I think it happened at Miami?). I think gulu’s right that “on his day” he’s a dangerous for pretty much anyone, but that comment “on his day” is what I am still wondering about. How often will that be?

Sean seems convinced that Tsonga will now become consistent, & an up-coming young gun. I just want to wait a little longer to see how he progresses.

I am also curious about which surface will be his best one – grass or hard? I don’t think clay will be, as he seems more like a shot-maker than a grinder, and his movement varies from match-to-match: sometimes fabulous, sometimes a liability.

But there is no doubt he’s a great personality and player, so I hope he does realize his full potential and rocket to the top. He’s a blast to watch.


steve Says:

I would love to see the Federer vs. Tsonga AO final we were denied this year. They have never played each other.

Still I would have to give Federer the edge in that one, though Tsonga would no doubt put up a tough fight.


achilles190 Says:

hmm great win for Tsonga …….. :Federer Tsonga…….very interesting match up/// funny enough I actually thing Federer would dismantle Tsonga /// for lets say the first 4or 5 times they play regardless of surface……no slight intended towards Tsonga….it is just that Fed in not hurt overtly by power….. he is more hurt by conservative consistency or high vicious topsin balls to his backhand…….I think Federer s precision and shot making would subdue Tsonga…….regardless of score would be fantastic shot making


Andrew Miller Says:

Mr. Randall: Kind of seems your pairing JW Tsonga together with Roddick in the post is kind of eerie.

Is there a sense out there that players such Tsonga and Del Potro are the next “hard working competitors” in the mold of Roddick (lunch bucket players who have a shot at grand slam victories?)

I hate knocking Roddick these days: honestly I think he does a lot of work to keep himself competitive and keep fighting. Since 2006 – when Roddick was in free-fall following the loss to Baghdatis but then rebounded to make the US Open Finals – I thought that Roddick moved into the next phase of his tennis career: to compete as fiercely as he could and make something more of an already nice career through blood, determination, and plenty of sweat.

Simply, I’d like to see Roddick win one more slam (or for James Blake to make one, but that is looking less likely).

But: I am wondering whether Tsonga and Del Potro, both tall players with big forehands and solid desire in the mold of Roddick, have come along. These guys look an awful lot like succesors. Given Tsonga’s medical problems, I dont know if he can pull out a major. But maybe Del Potro might do it. If he does, I think it might be because of Roddick’s example in part.

No? Is Roddick’s example more important for other players on the tour (maybe Sam Querrey has a lesson from Roddick) than it may even be for himself? (even if he WANTS it otherwise)? Is that Roddick’s legacy?


jane Says:

At least ONE part of Roddick’s legacy – when he does leave the sport that is – has to be his serve. It’s fierce.


Noel Says:

I watched the Tsonga-Nole match and both players played pretty well although the stats would indicate an error-filled encounter.Most of the unforced errors should have been classified as forced errors.Both players-esp Tsonga-were really going for their shots and some of the rallies-there were not very many-were quite brutal.One has to say that Tsonga’s go-for-broke strategy can appear very spectacular if it does come off on a given day but if he employs it in every other match,he will have some consistency issues.Be that as it may,I am delighted at his first tour title and very glad that so many posters here want him to do well.I hope he and JMDP are able to qualify for Shanghai.

I have said before that I really think he is a major talent and I can’t pick any obvious weakness w.r.t. his tennis skills.I can’t say that about many players on the tour.One could argue that his return game could improve but this could be said about most other players.However,a lot of other things-mental as well as physical-need to come together for him to realize his enormous potential not least of which is his health/fitness.It is apparently starting to come together for Murray and Tsonga is almost as good a talent as Murray although their games are poles apart.I’d really like Tsonga to enjoy an injury-free stretch from this point on.Admittedly,this is wishful thinking given the past record but one can always hope for the better.It’d be a pity if he gets frustrated after being forced out of action repeatedly due to injuries.Safin suffered a lot-esp mentally-due to his frequent injuries but he at least won two slams.Tsonga has enough arsenal to not only beat but embarrass anyone on a good day on the quicker surfaces.He also proved that he could hold it together in a major event at the oz open and I am pretty sure it wasn’t a fluke.His win over Nole in Bangkok has only confirmed that he can hit and run with the very best.


Sar Says:

Anyone hear from S.Green?


jane Says:

Hi Sar,

I think Shital Green is keeping a low profile after the USO; speaking for myself, he’s missed around here.

—————–

Roddick says:

[On his donation to the CTA]: “I would really like to contribute a part of my prize money to those families affected, to those who lost everything they had, suffered painful injuries or lost loved ones in the earthquake. It’s my great honor to be in Beijing to work with CTA to assist those kids who are in need. It is an athlete’s privilege and responsibility to give back.”

GOOD on him!

——————–

Hi Noel – Welcome back. I missed the match, but thanks for your summation. I was wondering how it played out. Did Djoko’s serve or never fail him? ;-) Also, do you think Tsonga’s movement is questionable at times? I know you wrote that you “can’t pick any obvious weakness w.r.t. his tennis skills” but I was wondering if movement falls into that category for you? Thanks.


Von Says:

“Simply, I’d like to see Roddick win one more slam (or for James Blake to make one, but that is looking less likely).”

I’d also like to ses Andy and/or James win a slam. I believe Andy’s still in the running and we should never count him out. James on the other hand has gotten bogged down from too many disappointments, the last won being the Olympic Silver/Bronze medal that was within his grasp, but sadly just wriggled free. Unfortunately, James is not of the same mentality as Roddick, who gets up after being knocked down again, and again, and again and keeps on fighting. James simply folds; he has the game to beat anyone, but sadly, he no longer has the heart. Maybe, with some R&R James will bounce back. As a supporter of American tennis, I’d like to see these two stalwarts rise up, keep on fighting and embrace their tennis with more zeal than they’ve ever shown. What I’ve noticed with Roddick is his realization that he’s now on the second half of his tennnis career and he’s embracing that with a renewed vitality, while savouring and enjoying every tiny morsel by entering tournaments where he’s never gone before and seeking out new opportunities. There’s nothing that is more motivating for anyone than to watch their window of opportunity slowly closing. I believe it’s at this juncture that Roddick has found himself and this realization is and will be the motivating force for him before its time to hang up his racquets. That second GS is somewhere on the horizon beckoning Andy. Is his resolve to reach out, touch it, grasp it and embrace it, a burning/unquenchable force within, I feel the answer is yes, and sooner than later this WILL come to pass.


gulu Says:

Noel, I totally agree with you that Tsonga can do more than just beating his rival,he can actually destroy his rival ! !
Hi achilles 190! Even I would lik 2 giv Fed a slight edge over Tsonga. But I can do nothing if Tsonga proves us wrong ! Oops !


Roy Says:

“jane Says:
… But there is no doubt he’s a great personality and player, so I hope he does realize his full potential and rocket to the top. He’s a blast to watch.”

Jane, saw the Djoko-Tsonga Thai Open 2008 final match in toto and can comment with confidence that the shot-making ability of Tsonga is a visual treat (like you have said so aptly, “a blast to watch”) and hence Tsonga is bound to pose a formidable challenge to the existing pecking order of top twenty : Ah ! and Oh ! Exciting tennis ahead !!

And at the same time, let me also commend Djoko for a wholesome brand of tennis seen from him in the past week, comprising of good hard-hitting, attacking tennis (for example, as seen against Berdych in the semis), on one hand and his praise-worthy habit of applauding opponent’s shots on Court (for example, saw him doing it twice during the match against Tsonga), on the other hand.


zola Says:

oh! wow! Jw Tsonga! I didn’t see the match. Congratulations.It is a big victory for Tsonga coming back from injury.
Now Madrid and Paris can be even more tricky!

I have to read about the match a bit more.


zola Says:

congratulations to Adny as well. I guess it could have been a straight set win if he wasn’t coming from a DC semifinal.


zola Says:

NachoF,
I left this message for you regading Miami tickets in the other thread. This is from a friend who was there last year:

*********
Hi Zola, My first suggestion is have your friend call the ticket office @ 305-442-3367 to make sure he knows what he is buying. What I can remember from my visit in 2007 is there are two big courts. The stadium is the major court. The grandstand is a smaller court. If you buy stadium tickets you will get non reserved seats to the grandstand. Top players like Rafa and Feddy would only be seen in the Stadium. Hope that helps.
*******


gulu Says:

Come on Tsonga ! I look forward 2 n autograph from u when u visit India.U rock man !


gulu Says:

The best news 4 me is dat Fed express’ll soon run!


gulu Says:

Hi dear Von! Rod may play in Tokyo.N ther’s Tsonga too. I think it’s a really imp tournament from Rod’s point of view. Post to u later.


claycourtrafa Says:

nadal played tsonga twice on hard courts after the AO semi, in indian wells and miami, he won both times.


jane Says:

At IW, Rafa snatched the match away from Tsonga on the brink of defeat; I believe, if I am not mistaken, is was 5-2 for Tsonga in the 3rd and somehow, Rafa held steady and Tsonga choked a little bit. As for the match in Miami, I am pretty sure Tsonga was officially injured by then (it was shortly after that when we heard news he’d be having the knee operated on and would not be playing the French). Thus, it’s difficult to know how they’d match up again on hard courts, were both healthy and aware of each other’s games.


Andrew Miller Says:

Von, that was an inspiring comment about Roddick and the possibility that he can fulfill this big desire to win another big one at the highest levels.


jane Says:

Hi Roy,

Thanks much for the update. I wish I would’ve caught the match, but I’d've had to wake up in the middle of the night and find a wobbly feed, and with this cold, I opted to sleep instead!

I am happy to hear Djoko was a good sport; I saw some photos on Tennis Planet and read some post-match comments, and he and Tsonga seem to have a real respect for one another. The pictures at Tennis Planet suggest that they had a lot of fun out there, and that’s, at least in part, what it’s about.

I am looking forward to a few matches this week as well, particularly at the Tokyo tournament.

Cheers.


Dave B Says:

Bravo Tsonga!! Just stay healthy and become the star you were meant to be.


gulu Says:

Von, apart from Fed who r d big guys at Stockholm open?


Noel Says:

Hello Jane,
Thanks for welcoming me “back”! I have been a bit preoccupied of late and that is why I didn’t post for some time even though I have been following some of the threads off and on.Some of the topics – the debate regarding GOAT or GUN if you like,tiredness,focus etc-would have required responses and counter responses which I prefer to avoid if I am not sure of visiting the thread daily.I also read that you disliked Fed at one point of time.I was shattered. :) I think Grendel summed up the situation pretty well in one of his/her posts.I can understand that his utter domination must have been boring for some of the tennis fans and downright repulsive for his rivals’ fans although I did enjoy a lot of good matches not involving Fed during that period.Of course,it goes without saying that I am thankful to the Almighty for the mesmerizing stuff Fed produced frequently until January 2007.Those first ten games against Murray in the USO final were like good old days.I know that those days are well and truly over but I’d be satisfied if I get to see some glimpses once in a while.Hope I haven’t annoyed you too much with this “gush”.

As for the final yesterday,Nole didn’t have an unusually bad serving day.You could say that his 61% is lower than his average of 65% but he normally serves around the mid-50s in the big matches which shows that he feels the pressure.One thing I have noticed of late is that Nole has lost some of his edge on the big points and has been playing just a wee bit tentatively on the big points.He couldn’t find the better/clutch serves on some of the big points and couldn’t take advantage of 5 of the 6 break opportunities he had. Tsonga only served 57% first serves and double faulted to give Nole the break in the first set but converted two of the three break points he had.Both players made some silly errors when they had the point under control and some of the shot selection was dodgy.However,it was an extremely close match and was decided by a few big points as is normally the case in such matches.It was good to see Tsonga handling the pressure/nerves well.The only time he seemed to be cracking was when he double faulted to give Nole his only break.I really admired the way he turned it around although he did squander two mini-breaks in the breaker before winning it.

As for Tsonga’s “questionable” movement at times,I can not honestly say that I am in a position to pass a definitive judgement primarily because I haven’t seen many matches involving him.You seem to suggest that he has some off days in terms of movement and I am sure you have your valid reasons for arriving at that conclusion.You may have seen some matches that I haven’t and there might have been instances which couldn’t be explained by tiredness/injuries.If you mean movement during the duration of a match,it happens to many players esp early on.Whatever I have seen of Tsonga recently(Oz open,IW, USO,Bangkok),I think he moves very well for a heavy player like him.He really reminds me of Safin w.r.t. movement and court presence although Tsonga is a more complete player.He is not as tall as Safin(two inches shorter) but he is heavier by two kg.Tsonga is by no means comparable to Fed/Rafa/Nole/Murray but he really does move well when he has to.He reached the net pretty quickly from way behind the baseline on more than one occasion yesterday even though he is hardly match-fit as evidenced by his panting after some long points.Of course,he prefers to keep the points/rallies shorter but he can engage in-and win- all court rallies when he is forced to.I remember him moving very well during such rallies in Melbourne.I’d like to know of instances where his “questionable” or sluggish movement has been a big factor in his losses.As I said,I am sure you have your valid reasons and he does lose matches he is not supposed to lose but this could well be related to the wider “inconsistency” issues or explained by factors other than just his movement.


MMT Says:

I agree with the assessment of Tsonga’s mobility – it helps him win some points, but he is very hard on his body and would do well to take many more small and quick steps when changing direction. I also think that all this sliding around on hard courts (which appears to me to be his best surface) is causing him, and quite a few other players, some injuries. It’s just not a natural movement, and it doesn’t help you change directions, which is key on hard and grass courts, and why Federer and Nadal are so strong on both.


Von Says:

Andrew:

“Von, that was an inspiring comment about Roddick and the possibility that he can fulfill this big desire to win another big one at the highest levels.”

Thank you Andrew, but the credit should go to you for your insightful comments as follows:

“I hate knocking Roddick these days: honestly I think he does a lot of work to keep himself competitive and keep fighting. Since 2006 – when Roddick was in free-fall following the loss to Baghdatis but then rebounded to make the US Open Finals – I thought that Roddick moved into the next phase of his tennis career: to compete as fiercely as he could and make something more of an already nice career through blood, determination, and plenty of sweat.”

I suppose it goes without saying, that I’m a huge supporter of American Tennis and Roddick is my favourite player. I like James also. My respect for you went up by leaps and bounds when you mentioned that you hate “knocking Roddick these days”. I appreciate that, and I thank you. It shows me that you are not someone who enjoys indulging in tearing or kicking another when they’re already down, and you give praise where praise is due. I wish there were more posters on this site who would speak up on Andy’s behalf in a positive manner instead of knocking him down at every opportunity for the most ridiculous reasons not worth mentioning.

My heart goes out to Andy for the many painful losses he’s endured whenever he met Fed in the finals, SF, and QFs. Had those meetings not transpired, Andy most probably would have won at least five (5) more Grand Slams. I hurt for him and wish I had a magic wand to erase those painful memories from his mind. It angers me that in his own country he is degraded to such an extent and treated by the American media and the American tennis media in such a cruel manner. Those who are tennis fans, the writers and commentators wonder why there isn’t enough TV coverage, emphasis and/or respect given to tennis in the US. How can there be? Which companies are going to want to spend money to air programs on athletes who are pounded into the ground and ridiculed by their own countrymen? In other countries they lavish/laud praises on their athletes not tear them down and treat them like second-class citizens, as is done in this country. The following is an example of what I’m talking about, vis-a-vis:

“But this tournament triumph wasn’t exactly among easiest despite enjoying one of the cushiest draws ever seen in a $500,000+ tournament (Roddick only played one player in the Top 90 – Ferrero all week). Roddick was pushed to three sets in his last three matches in wins over Ferrero, Bjorn Phau and Sela. Granted the competition wasn’t top notch and it wasn’t for Beijing Olympic gold, but I doubt Andy’s losing any sleep over it. He’ll take it.”

The foregoing is giving with one hand and taking away with the next. Was that necessary? To me it wasn’t. I’ve seen draws where the top 4 had the cushiest draws ever in the Grand Slams, this year’s USO, and Andy had a very, very tough draw, but it wasn’t thought of as such. Now that he’s won Beijing, he got the cushiest draw ever. Take a look at other countries how they revere their athletes. That kid Neishikori got to Rd. 16 at the USO, and the reception he received in Japan, it was as though he won the USO. I’m sure the Japanese TV reporters will be singing his praises all day long.

Last week I was having a bit of an argument with two posters who live in this country, but are supporters of the Spanish team, and another poster chimed in to the effect that it was not worth arguing over Roddick he’s over the hill and with his ‘tick laden game’ he’ll soon be gone. One of the posters stated two weeks prior, that Roddick will be out of the Top 10 by next year. I love these crystal ball artists, and wish they could tell me the lottery numbers for the $100 million lottery. These people probably are not native Americans but immigrants who enjoy the benefits of this country, while at the same time engage in joyfully degrading this country’s athletes. To me that’s despicable.

Andy has mentioned that he’s working on improving his tennis and he’s aware of how many years he has left to win another GS — Wimbledon is his choice. I’m hoping that God grants him the desires of his heart. If Andy is blessed to do so, I’ll be one of the happiest people around. And, if we’re both still posting on these threads, I hope you’ll join with me in celebrating Andy’s MUCH DESERVED victory. sorry for the lengthy post and thank you for the discussion. :P


Von Says:

gulu:

“Von, apart from Fed who r d big guys at Stockholm open?”

The following is a list of players for the Stockholm tournament:

Main Draw

Acasuso, Jose ARG
Ancic, Mario CRO
Clement, Arnaud FRA
Darcis, Steve BEL
Federer, Roger SUI
Fognini, Fabio ITA
Granollers, Marcel ESP
Grosjean, Sebastian FRA
Haas, Tommy GER
Hernandez, Oscar ESP
Hrbaty, Dominik SVK
Johansson, Thomas, SWE
Lapentti, Nicolas ECU
Mahut, Nicolas FRA
Minar, Ivo CZE
Montanes, Albert ESP
Nalbandian, David ARG
Navarro, Ivan ESP
Nieminen, Jarkko FIN
Querrey, Sam USA
Rochus, Olivier BEL
Schuettler, Rainer GER
Söderling, Robin SWE

Not anyone to give Fed a problem. It should be easy coasting on cruise control. i bet you’re happy. :P


Daniel Says:

Anyone knos about this: “Novak, who bloodied his eyebrow with his racquet”?! (remind me Youzhny)


Daniel Says:

s….t, knows!


Gans Says:

Everyone’s post made a great reading. I am an ardent tennis fans. Here are my predictions for the future:

- Between Nadal, Federer and Djokovic there would be many more fierce battles in the semis and finals in 2009. I think, while Nadal would continue to win French, Federer would add another major to his belt, which could even be Wimbledon.
- Andy Murray would march towards his goal of winning slams. He would reach at least one finals in 2009.
- Cilic, DelPotro and Tsonga would be a threat on hard and grass courts. They would reach a couple of semis in the slams.
- Gulbis is a huge talent- probably even better than other young guns in terms of talent, but he has to improve his mind-set to earn a spot in the final of a major.
- Monfils will continue to do well upto QF or may make it to one semi. The kid needs to focus on his game rather than thinking about court antics.
- Roddick: Eventhough I like his perseverence and sense of humor, to me his talent is not quite enough to earn him another slam title. His volleying skills and passing shots are a step inferior to other players. He is too dependednt on his serve, which is not consistent either. I thought he served extremely well against Federer in 2006 US Open finals, which was the last best match he played. Unless he puts up such a show, he has little to no chance of winning another title.


Von Says:

MMT:

“I also think that all this sliding around on hard courts (which appears to me to be his best surface) is causing him, and quite a few other players, some injuries.”

Tsonga slides around the hardcourt as if he’s playing on clay, and being such a big guy it will eventualy cause him some serious back and leg problems. He needs to be refrain from so doing especially at the present time, to avoid re-injuring his knee. Djokovic, as well as some of the Spanish claycourters I’ve noticed does this more than most players and I think this accounts for their ankle and back problems. The younger guys are going to have to learn that they can’t slide on hard court in the same manner as they do on clay or else they will become very injury prone.

I read an article and also heard a commentator mention it, that both Tsonga and Monfils copied the Roddick serve. As kids they copied andy’s serve and would practise serving like him several hours per day and as often as time permitted. A-Rod should be flattered, since immitation is the sincerest form of flattery.


I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

I would love to see tsonga rip federer apart in shanghai ..lol


zola Says:

MMT,
That sliding on the hard courts is something that Monfils does a lot too and he has had his share of injuries. I wonder if it is because of their clay court habits. But I don’t see Argentines or Spaniards do that a lot ( Rafa used tooccasionally, but he has stopped it now).

Jane
****At IW, Rafa snatched the match away from Tsonga on the brink of defeat; I believe, if I am not mistaken, is was 5-2 for Tsonga in the 3rd and somehow, Rafa held steady and Tsonga choked a little bit. As for the match in Miami, I am pretty sure Tsonga was officially injured by then (it was shortly after that when we heard news he’d be having the knee operated on and would not be playing the French). Thus, it’s difficult to know how they’d match up again on hard courts, were both healthy and aware of each other’s games
*******
You are right. Rafa was a set and a break behind.He came back from 2-5, won that set and the next to win the match.
I too thought they played after that in Miami. But today I checked their H2H and they did not. Tsonga lost in Miami to Benneteau and it was there in a doubles match that injured his knee and pulled out of DC. But he played three other tournaments before the FO and then went to have the knee surgery.

He is back during the right part of the season. His matchup with any of the big 4 will be very interesting. last year it was only Djoko. This year we have Murray and JMDP already and now Tsonga.

He is sort of like last year’s Nalby. Everyone has played lots of matches and he is fresher compared to them with great skills. I think he has very good chances to make it to Shanghai.

Daniel,
I read about Djoko’s head injury in one one of the match reports. I think it was an accident. Not one like “Youzhny”‘s. That was one for the tennis history books!

Gans
I agree with most of your points. Gulbis is supremely talented. He just needs to take the matches a bit more seriously. Murray can do anything and is abig threat to the big 3. Similarly JMDP and Tsonga (if healthy) can do lots of damages and climb the rankings.

Roddick is very hard working and tries to stay in the top and has remained US no 1. But I don’t see him win another slam either. At the beginnig of 2008 he was the only player to beat the top 3. But then injuries and perhaps other things crept in. He is not getting younger and there are too many hungry young guns trying to get to top 10. I think 2009 will be crucial for him.


Von Says:

“Roddick: Event hough I like his perseverence and sense of humor, to me his talent is not quite enough to earn him another slam title. His volleying skills and passing shots are a step inferior to other players. He is too depende[d]nt on his serve, which is not consistent either. I thought he served extremely well against Federer in 2006 US Open finals, which was the last best match he played. Unless he puts up such a show, he has little to no chance of winning another title.”

I don’t have a crystal ball neither am I endowed with supernatural powers. Apart from the USO 2006 finals, Roddick played a superb match at the 2006 TMC against Federer where he had match points, and he has played many more superb matches since that time. A few here most probably have psychic powers as to who will or won’t be in the top 10 and/or win a slam. I don’t. I remember a couple of months before the Olympics one who knows it all was emophatic that Blake would “NEVER” beat Federer. Well that psychic’s powers were off the radar, because Blake DID beat Federer at the Olympics. That said, considering Roddick has remained in the Top 10 for as long as Federer has been in the top 10, and has seen many up-comers waltz in an out, I’m going to go with the assumption that he’ll remain status quo. With respect to winning another slam, only time will tell. 2009 will be a very unpredictable year for all of the players in the top 10 and many who speak so positively with respect to their own faves should be careful, because nothing in life is a certainty.


MMT Says:

I heard or read the same thing about Monfils and Tsonga, but to be honest, Monfils has only copied the form of Roddick’s serve, and not the effect. His serve is all over the place.

Tsonga on the other hand seems to have his own “rocking back and forth” motion, but (almost) the same power as Roddick, although the American really stands alone in that regard. Nobody in tennis has ever had a bigger serve.

To me, Monfils is a very strange player who will probably never win anything important – he’s just too much of a dead-head. Tsonga can also play stupid at times, but he’s a very quick learner, and seems to be much more prescient on the court as he gets older. If he could ever harness his tendency to over hit (as he did in Miami against Nadal this year) and reserve his howitzer forehand and serve for when he needs them, he could be quite a player.

As good as he has been this year, I think he could get even better if he sheds just a little more bulk, and focuses more on ending points the old fashinoned way, rather than hitting missiles from the back.

For me, the jury is still out on him, but on Monfils – I’ve already condemned him to (as much as it pains me to say it, because I really loved this guy’s game) Henri Leconte status…a genius from the neck down.


jane Says:

Hi Noel,

First of all, sorry for the “crushing” stuff. ;-)

Second, thanks very much for the overview and response: very sound and knowledgable as usual.I was thinking about the Tsonga vs. Robredo match at the USO; this match was early after his injury comeback, though, so perhaps Tsonga was being a bit ginger in his movement. Also credit to Tommy, who did a good job of throwing Jo off his rhythm, dictating and forcing a lot of errors. I also see Tsonga as Safin-like, as I mentioned on another thread, but he’s a bit stockier (as you noted), so I was thinking if his movement is not smooth, he’ll continue to be prone to injury in the future.

MMT makes that point, and makes another excellent one about all the sliding on hard courts these days; Djoko’s movement is great, but his sliding could lead to ankle and knee injuries, though he is very limber & flexible at this point. As he said after the match, he intends to work on “strength and endurance” so he’s moving in the right direction there I think.

———————-

The Roddick point: I believe he has the capability to win another slam, but circumstances will always play a factor (like with any other player!) – e.g., if he has a good draw, is healthy, etc. But he still has weapons, he’s improved his backhand and he definitely has the right attitude. I wouldn’t write him off!

Von, I also thought the write up on Andy’s Bejiing win seemed a tad backhanded, since ranking does not always denote ability, as we’ve seen this year. E.g., look how Phau pushed Rafa at the USO. But the main thing is he won.


jane Says:

Noel – I guess it was “shattering” not “crushing” but apologies either way! Just trying to be honest: you asked me directly, once, how I felt about Fed, and I answered honestly then too.

Maybe the during “Fed-ex dominance period” it wasn’t so much that I lost interest in tennis per se (as you note, there were other exciting matches all along), but tournament outcomes and Roger’s matches did seem rather foregone and that put a damper on the excitement for me. It’s like reading a book or seeing a movie where you know the outcome by the second page / scene – maybe there’ll be some enjoyable moments in the narrative nevertheless, but it’d be more exciting, intriguing, engaging, if the ending remained unknown, a mystery for as long as possible, until the final narrative threads are tied – or in tennis, the last ball struck. There is nothing like a final match in a tournament that could go either way! Who likes an anti-climactic ending? Not moi.


jane Says:

One last point, even in the final at the AO, against Novak, Tsonga didn’t always move well – especially in the third set I think it was. He seemed tired, as the commentators at the time notes. So maybe the movement issues that I noticed occasionally are tied as well to fitness ones? I don’t know. He’s a fantastic player, though, no doubt. And I hope we see him in the top ten soon. He’s got the talent for it.


gulu Says:

I would really lov 2 see Fed destroy all his rivals,strong or weak. It’s been a long time since Fedexpress has run fast. Go Fed go! Beat them all !


gulu Says:

Dear Von,I admit dat Roddic’s been unfortunate.D way Andy used 2 play in d past,only Fed could hav stopped him n Fed did exactly dat! Had Fed n’t been ther,Rod would b holding 4-5 slams!But Rod’s not finished yet.I really wish he could win 1 more slam !


gulu Says:

By the way I hate d idea of anyone crushin Fed !


gulu Says:

Dear Von, you said dat Fed’ll not face much difficulty 4 winning Stockholm Open.U showed me d list of players n I found Nalby 2 b one of them.So it mayn’t b very easy 4 my Fed.I hope that Fed’s determined 2 win it n actually
wins.


Erwin Says:

Tsonga is 23 and has won his first MM title. Let’s not get too excited about this.


Sean Randall Says:

Andrew, Andy’s work ethic will hopefully rub off on some of the younger guys like Sam Querrey, Ryan Harrison and maybe even Donald Young, who seems to be in his own boat.

As for Tsonga and Del Potro, just as with any players, injuries will play a role in determining their successes. And moreso for them as they’ve already been hit by a fair share of bumps and bruises.

But if these guys can stay relatively injury free and keep working hard I think they will both win Slams. I give Tsonga the slight edge because the bar for him is simply higher in France plus he’s got a really good group of players in Gasquet, Monfils, Simon, etc., who should all push each other to bigger and better results. JMDP doesn’t quite have that support system.


Skorocel Says:

Erwin said:

“Tsonga is 23 and has won his first MM title. Let’s not get too excited about this.”

—-

Amen to that, Erwin! I mean, when this guy is on, his game is simply a joy to watch (huh, that’s a weak word!), BUT the problem is – he still hasn’t proved himself in the long run… I just hope he can (at least) stay injury free, and then we’ll hopefully see something more from him… I just don’t get it why the hell he must’ve played that tiny Casablanca tourney (where he aggravated that knee injury)?!


HBK Says:

This was the only period during Federer’s #1 streak in which Roddick slipped out of the ATP Top-10 rankings:

Date………….Rank

28-Aug-2006…….10
21-Aug-2006…….10
* 14-Aug-2006…..12
* 07-Aug-2006…..11
31-Jul-2006…….10
24-Jul-2006…….10
* 17-Jul-2006…..11
* 10-Jul-2006…..11

His 3rd-round loss to Murray at Wimbledon two years ago cost him many points obviously. He made a resurgence during the U.S. Open series, winning MS Cincinatti and reaching the Open final.


Von Says:

gulu:

Hi, how are you? I see you’ve been posting quite a lot. First, I don’t think Fed will have any problems with the Stockholm tournament. You mentioned Nalbandian, but he’s not doing too well — he has hip problems which could necessitate surgery, but from what I’ve read he’ll be delaying the surgery until after the DC final. But, there are a few players who could pose a problem for Fed and it depends on which side of the draw they land. The smaller tournaments, in some ways, can be very tricky at times.

I see you want your Rogi to crush everyone. I hope my Andy is exempt from his list. Andy’s had enough crushing, he needs a rest from Rogi. :P

It was nice to see Mardy Fish get married and to a very nice youg woman — she’s a model and an attorney. I join with you in wishing them all the very best in their union. Enjoy your day. :)


Noel Says:

Jane,
Come on!You really don’t need to apologize.If at all,I prefer the first one(6:39 pm) with the wink because I really thought that the first para of your 7:29 p.m. post appeared unnecessarily serious.Believe me,I was just kidding around with the “shattering” stuff.Hence,the smiley.I also said that I could understand the reasons for the dislike. I am not one to get worked up easily by even the most vicious/unjustified bashing of Fed-he doesn’t need my defence – and your point is actually a very understandable one.I know very well that neither Fed’s game nor his personality excites you in any sort of way and that point has already been made very emphatically –and very honestly-by you and I respect you even more for that. That is more than fair enough.I was genuinely intrigued at that time to know the reasons and I got the real answers and not some ‘diplomatic’ ones.In fact,I am the one who should be apologetic if I sounded like beating a dead horse.I won’t have written that to anyone else on this forum-I haven’t really interacted much with others- because I thought I could take this liberty only with you without getting misunderstood.Evidently,I failed since you felt compelled-probably on second thoughts-to apologize/clarify a second time when you had already done more than enough with the wink.

Coming back to Tsonga’s movement, he is obviously not as agile as a player with lesser weight and as MMT rightly says,changing directions is just a wee bit tougher.I also agree that he should reduce his bulk a fraction.I think the biggest problem for guys like him is that they have virtually no chance once they are wrong footed and opponents can therefore exploit it by waiting to see which side they commit to.I agree with you that the USO loss was probably due to the fact that he didn’t want to exert himself too much having just recovered from a serious injury.I also said that he didn’t appear match-fit in Bangkok and I saw him panting after some long rallies.That probably is a bigger concern and you are right when you say that his movement could worsen as he moves into the fourth or fifth set due to tiredness setting in early.I do think that he gets tired earlier than others and good players can beat him by moving him around if his game is not on or when he is not confident or not going for his shots.That is where his real test lies.How does he win even when his game is misfiring ?As MMT says,he will have to learn to be a bit more patient and construct points the normal way because at the moment he doesn’t seem to have a plan B.That would entail improving stamina/endurance,better tactics/strategy and a better slice.He has a big serve,big fh,equally big bh and he can drop,lob and volley very well.In fact,I am amazed by the power of his up-the-line bh and he can hit them for winners from way behind the baseline.Even Marat would be proud of that shot.I don’t know if I have ever seen a guy with so many weapons or who can generate so much raw power.I don’t think any player will look forward to facing a fit and healthy Tsonga on a fast court.I hope he learns the art of winning matches and using those weapons intelligently and most importantly,avoids injuries.

As for players sliding around even on hard courts,I agree I am surprised that they do it so regularly.Monfils and Nole come easily to mind but I really don’t think Tsonga does it anywhere as frequently.I really wonder if these players don’t look at the long-term at all.
Nole definitely is on the right path although he hasn’t really come into his own which I expected this season esp after a very good first half although I do think the Cincy and Beijing conditions were not to his liking and he lost to really hot players.I expected him to win the USO esp after his win over Rod.I really didn’t expect Fed to beat him given the poor form he had been in.
The first season after the ‘breakthrough’ year is always difficult with the pressure and weight of expectations although some of it was self-created.I prefer his post-wimby attitude much more and he must realize that he has more than only Fed to contend with or ‘target’ for the hard court spoils.I still think Nole is the best hard court player going around but his “lead” has shrunk alarmingly of late and needs to work on both the physical as well as the mental aspects of his game to restore the gap.He is still very young and I am sure he will be a better player next year.
With Fed’s decline,I am getting increasingly interested in Murray’s rise.I really like what he has done w.r.t. his fitness and his game has improved even more.All this plus the promise of JMDP and Tsonga should make for a very good hard court season next year and play right into Rafa’s hands.He really will not have to worry too much about his top rank if he continues his clay and grass domination next year also.


Daniel Says:

Zola, thanks for the feedback on Djoko!!

I too think that Tsonga is a little old (23) for all this hype, but that’s why I want to see him in this years Masters Cup and top 10. As a Grand Slam runner-up this could very well be his best shot into top ten an the prestigious circuit finale (we all know he is doomed with several injuries and they can all come back to hunt him). So, after last year disappointment without Nalby qualifying for Shangai, I wish this year to be different, with all the hot players of the season qualifying. One other thing, Tsonga seems to be a player who carries momentum, it will be interesting if he makes at least semis in one of the next MS. Will see…!

Noel, I know Fed’s era/dominance is over, but his “decline” will only happens when he lost before semis in Grand Slams. Eventually it will happen and I can picture the hype it will create, but so far, I am still positive/confident/hopefull! :)


Von Says:

skorocel:

“Amen to that, Erwin! I mean, when this guy is on, his game is simply a joy to watch (huh, that’s a weak word!), BUT the problem is – he still hasn’t proved himself in the long run… I just hope he can (at least) stay injury free, and then we’ll hopefully see something more from him… I just don’t get it why the hell he must’ve played that tiny Casablanca tourney (where he aggravated that knee injury)?!”

Needless to say, I agree with you, but then I have no other choice, or else, you’ll slaughter me. :P Anysway, be that as it may, I do think that the hype over Jo Wil is not going to be a permanent one, and it is somewhat a tad over done to the extreme. As I’ve mentioned previously, he could very well be a top 10 candidate, but the question will be for how long? And, considering how many have waltzed through the revolving Top 10 door, with a longevity of a few weeks to a few months, I’ll withhold any long-term forecasts. Tsonga was my pick to win the AO, after Fed and Roddick lost, coupled with his execution of a brilliant match where he actually annihilated Nadal. However, since the AO, we’ve witnessed his many peaks and valleys, and one of the worst was at Miami, when he allowed Nadal to get back into the match and wriggle it out of his grasp. That match in the second set leading 5-2, sspoke volumes with regard to Jo Wil’s mental fortitude, which was similar to the AO, a match he had every opportunity to win, but sadly he demonstrated that he lacked the experience and the where-withal to hang tough.

To summarize, I feel Jo Will is a dangerous player regardless of who’s his oppoenent, but that’s dependent on (1) his mind-set on the given day, and (2) his physical well-being, going into any tournament. We’ll know more about his game and his movement in the months ahead. Come to think of it, we’ll see what he has going for him in Tokyo this week, and this tourney could be a becnhmark for Tsonga’s game. He won Bangkok last week, hence he should be riding a huge wave of confidence and momentum, but go either way, vis-a-vis, a huge let-down after beating the No. 3 player, or the burgeoning propulsion to a higher level of play. In the past we’ve seen so many who’ve come up and then faded. This shouldn’t be the case for Tsonga since he’s been on the tour long enough to have overcome the cobwebs and work through the inexperience factor. He’s already 23 years old, not that much younger than the veterans, Fed/Roddick/ et al., and he’s got only one title. That statistic in itself speaks volumes. As a result of the foregoing, I’d say the hype should be tuned down a bit, and only time wil tell …. I’m kinda miffed that you didn’t mention my Andy’s recent win. how could you do this to me? Shame on you, and your punishment will be a drought in the jokes department, and to prove it, I have 2 new ones but I won’t send them until next week Wednesday. That’ll teach to you be more aware in the future. :D


jane Says:

Noel,

Let’s go back to a wink and a smile then, shall we? ;-) ;-)

Good points all round, once again. I too am thrilled to see Murray coming into his own, and many other players rising into the mix too. Keep posting!


gulu Says:

Dear Von,the last post to me of yours was a nice one.Thank u so much! I m fine right now! It’s an absolutely delightful time here in India with the winter approaching slowly.Over to tennis.You’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that Andy is d guy whom I like the most after my dear(est!) Fed! The thing which I feel about Rod’s dat he has earned not only titles & money,but also my love and respect besides the love and good wishes of his millions of fans (lik u 4 example!).He has suffered some hard defeats at the hand of Fed,but was among the handful of those persons whom I saw defending Roger the most in his difficult times.Some people at one point of time were competing among themselves to outclass each other in praising Fed.But when Fed was down a little bit,they dumped him and joined the Rafa bandwagon!But Rod never changed,remained unflattering as ever and came out openly in support of Roger.Roger was his rival,but he still showed him respect n was kind to Rog!In today’s world you’d not see many people doing that to their competitors..From this I think you can easily imagine just how good natured Rod is!This also shows that our(that’s what I’d say) Andy’s just as much concerned about conquering hearts as he’s for conquering his rivals ! He has always seemed to me an honest,simple and persevering guy.As I have said before,I highly appreciate Roddick and that’s not just because of his nice game!


gulu Says:

Oh dear Von, I forgot to say the most important thing! I’d like to say that A-Rod’s not included in the list of players whom I’d love to see being crushed by Fedex!


Skorocel Says:

To Von:

Well, I don’t quite remember if that last carrier pigeon arrived to you before or already after A-Rod’s win in China (what a good excuse, isn’t it? :) ), but anyway, as a “compensation” for my ignorance, I’ll send you some jokes of mine, OK? Have phun :)


Roy Says:

jane Says:
Hi Roy,

“Thanks much for the update…I am looking forward to a few matches this week as well, particularly at the Tokyo tournament.”

Amen to that.

Now that the prolonged stint of single player domination, thankfully, seems to have ended, Tennis becomes that much more worth lively and unpredictable and Tsonga, JMDP, Gulbis Cilic, Simon et al are all welcome additions to spice-up the things even further.


gulu Says:

Hey dear Von!Do u know one thing?I’ll continue to post as much as I can so that you’d never talk again of ceasing to post on this site.I remember you were once so upset that you wrote to me you’d post as littl as possibl n were almost in the mood of givin up ur postin here.But u were the first 2 be my friend.So I decided not to let you do that awful thing and so I have been posting everyday since you first responded to me.I’d post as often as possibl and will continue to be your companion here.Lookin forward 2 ur next post.And yes,post soon!


Noel Says:

Daniel,
I know it is a bit strange to see this “hype” for a 23 year old player who has just one minor title and little else to show for results.Normally,one would be dismissing the chances of such players by this age if they haven’t started doing very well.Imho,Tsonga is a bit of an exception because he turned pro a bit late and has been sidelined most of the time with one injury or another.He has played just 61(39-22) singles matches on the atp tour.A Tomas Berdych,at 23,has played 286 matches.
Secondly,most of the “hype” on this thread is not without the caveats regarding consistency,injuries,mental strength etc.He could well go the way many talented players have gone in the past and I won’t be shocked although I’ll be very disappointed.A lot of things need to come together for a guy to realize his full potential and a bit of luck is always needed.That is why I haven’t even said that he will definitely be ranked in the top-10 or top-5 or top-3.The rankings are related to the grind of the season and need not necessarily always reflect the quality of a particular player.All I am saying is that the guy is a quality player with a lot of weapons and can reach incredibly high levels on a good day.In other words,he can beat the very best players even if they are playing very well.

As for Fed’s decline,I think you have set the benchmark very low. :) Fed is supposed to win slams and at least reach the finals if I were to go by what you measure his level by.I actually like to not go so much by the results as by his general level of play and this has been way too ‘ugly’ this year.It is a pain to watch him struggling with his movement and timing.He has not been able to shift gears when he needed to.His ‘magic’ or “mesmerizing” stuff has all but disappeared.I just loved those displays when he elevated the game to the level of a well-conducted orchestra with all aspects of his game in perfect symphony.Everything comes to an end and I guess I will just have to treasure those memories.I’d love to share your optimism but the writing seems to be on the wall at least with respect to the frequency of his quality displays.
I am not really worried about the end of his domination.That was expected and it was good till it lasted.Normally even the best tennis players have a prime period of roughly four years.Pete’s stretch was from mid-’93 to mid-’97 and Fed’s was during 2004-2007 although the signs of decline were evident in 2007 itself when he had to scrap around a lot to win many of his matches.I guess this period will shrink even more for the next gen players.


gulu Says:

Hi Roy! As far as praising Fed’s concerned,Mc Enroe has the freedom to do that.But there’s a way to express your admiration towards someone deserving and in the way u cannot harm the dignity of another.Mc Enroe while hailing Fed,Rafa n Djokovic remarked that these three guys are way ahead of Rod,in fact lot more talented than him and stuff ;lik Rod is incapabl of challenging them!Johny said that he sees a huge gap between Andy and the big three.After hearing and reading the things he said about Rod,I thought peopl may start doubting Andy’s chances against the strong guys.But it’s worth mentioning here that Roddick after all doesn’t hav that bad H2H record against Rafa Or Djokovic to be scoffed at in this manner,only Fed enjoys a good H2H against him.So there was no reason for Mac to say such things in the press or public which lowers the image of Rod in the eyes of his peers(particularly the Johny Mac labelled big- three) or fans or the sensation-loving media.Don’t you think that these things would/might cast a negative influenc on Rod?Roddic has won more than 25 titles,a grand slam and has also made a very good contribution towards the davis cup campaign of the U.S. Moreover I believ that it’s Fed who has spoiled his party most of the time.Had Fedn’t been there, Roddick would hav won at least two/three more slams .So it would hav been more graceful on the part of Mc Enroe if he had avoided such statements.What do you say?


jane Says:

Hi Noel,

This is a good way to look at things generally, whether we follow one player or several: “I actually like to not go so much by the results as by his general level of play”

I am just curious if you sensed a change – in the right direction – in Roger’s level of play, post-Olympics, where his spirits did seem to be revived by his win with Stan, and at the USO in particular? Many commentators felt there was evidence of “vintage” Federer in his matches against Djokovic and Murray especially. Did you notice this, as his avid fan? I thought he looked sharp at times, but there were moments of patchiness. He definitely was aiming to end points quicker, I thought, after the 5 setter with Andreev.


Von Says:

gulu:

Hello and how are you? I noticed that you’ve been pretty busy posting while I have been sleeping. I believe the many late nights are catching up to me now. Before I forget, Our Andy won his first match today at Tokyo, but unfortunately for the other Americans, with the exception of Amer Delic and of course, A-Rod, today was not their day. A-rod struggled somewhat in that match, and I’m wondering whether all of the traveling from the DC Cup, then to China and now Tokyo is taking it’s toll on him. I hope he’s more energetic in his upcoming matches.

BTW, I’m glad to know that A-Rod is not on the list of players you’d want your Your Rogi to crush. Andy has had enough beating up — I don’t think he can handle any more. I’m also glat to hear you like him enough to refer to him as “Our Andy” and he’s well-liked in India too. I know the Chinese and Italians like him very much also. So it’s not all bad. :)

Thank you for your sweet words about my continuing to post. I’ll make a pact with you, as long as you post and we can talk about Our Andy and your Rogi, and tennis in general, I’ll keep on posting. I have taken a big step whereby I’m keeping away from any arguments and limit my posting to genertal issues. Give me a reminder if you see me deviating, please. I want to get to the point where I can look at some of the hurtful posts and not feel any anger. Wouldn’t that be just great if I can reach that point? :P

You mentioned that during Fed’s decline a lot of people turned their backs on him and refused to give him any tyoe of encouragement, except for Our Andy. Unfortunately, that’s human beings for you. The majority of people are only “fair-weather” friends, and they only want to be a friend for what they can get out of the relationship and how they can benefit — a “what’s in it for me” mentality. Gulu, my friend, we live in a very, very sad world indeed. A world devoid of loyalty and kindness. I’m happy to say that Our Andy is a very genuine type of person and he is loyal to others. Also, I don’t think he bears any animosity toward anyone, which is very commendable. I’m sure your Rogi appreciates him for speaking up on his behalf. Some people are of the opinion that the players aren’t aware and/or upset with respect to any of the remarks made about them by the media and especially the tennis commentators, however, they are so very, very wrong. Those remarks hurt the players emotionally and their careers as well. I remember when Andy lost to Murray early at Wimbledon a few years ago, Andy stated it was the lowest point of his career and he mentioned that because of the cruel statements made by the media, especially our commentators, he couldn’t bear to turn on the TV. He further stated, he’d try to do anything to keep from turning on the TV. I felt so very upset for him, but it was so sad that quite a bit of the crude gossip emanated from John McEnroe and his side-kick, Mary Carillo. It is mind-boggling to me that the commentators are so insensitive and oblivious of the side-effects of their comments and how badly it csn affect the players. You’re so correct, that if the players hear these statements the impact of it csn be very devastating to them, and can psychologically have a very negative impact on their careers. But, people who like to criticize don’t think about the person thy are criticizing, only themselves and the fleeting momemnts of joy they experience when tearing others good name apart. In other words, they enjoy their dirty deeds. How sad!

OK gulu, this is it for me now, I will catch up with you later. Do you watch any of the live streaming videos? I tape as many matches as I can, but I can’t seem to figure out how to record the live streaming, as yet. Maybe it’s best that I don’t since there aren’t enough hours in a day to watch them. Be good, if not, be careful, and keep smiling. :P :D :o


jane Says:

Von,

I think it was on a site “Tennis talk” or “Talk tennis” where they forcasted Minar would be a tough opponent for Andy; they figured at least one set would go to a tiebreak since they’re both good servers; as it turned out all three did. But Andy hit 37 Aces – yowsa! And he’s into the next round as well. I am looking forward to a quarter-final meeting between Andy and Tsonga, if they both get there; talk about a lot of power between the two of them!


Noel Says:

Hi Jane,
It was actually during the Olympics that he started to hit “freely” and that doubles gold was more important for him under the circumstances than I’d ever imagine.He got a toy to play with at last after so many disappointments.Frankly I really don’t give too much importance to a doubles gold or for that matter,even the singles gold.Anyhow,Fed felt elated and he probably felt that he had ‘salvaged’ something.Apparently,he played unbelievably well after his loss to Blake esp going by the way Paes& Bhupati gushed about his level when they lost to the Swiss pair.You must check out that interview at asap sports.I saw some highlights and he did look very sharp and hit some remarkable shots.I didn’t give them a chance against the Brayans and they beat them easily as well.Whatever reports I read confirmed that Fed was playing at a very high level.It is quite clear he somehow can not take the same mentality into his singles matches and appears to be under tremendous pressure.He doesn’t seem to be enjoying the game.I think this whole ranking business can really take a heavy toll and the pressure probably lessened when he lost his top rank even though I really don’t know how desperately he wanted/wants to retain/regain it.

Despite the loss of the top rank(or maybe partly because of it),I thought he entered the USO under a lot of pressure and for a change,he responded well.I certainly didn’t see him getting past the sf stage.He was very poor in the Alves match and even though he played reasonably well against Radek,it wasn’t a very good Radek on view in that match.I never expected Andreev to take Fed to five sets but he did play well.Fed could well have been knocked out at that stage.His qf display was just about good enough to win although he did waste ten break points.I think the first time I got optimistic about Fed’s open chances was during the Nole match.Nole played pretty well and Fed’s serve took him out of some tight situations and he was generally pretty solid although I thought there was very little ‘vintage’ stuff in that sf.The first ten games of the final could be called ‘vintage’ but again,only those games.He did just enough to prevail during the rest of the match.I know it is very difficult to sustain that sort of form for the whole duration of a match but this ‘inconsistency’ would surely have been punished by someone like Rafa.The tennis fan in me wanted a Fed-Rafa final but the Fed fan wanted to avoid it.It’d surely have been a huge mental battle for Fed and although Fed probably would have been the slight favourite on paper,I knew Rafa had the mental edge after the wimby win.I didn’t even want to think about the implications of a third straight slam final loss to Rafa for Fed’s morale/confidence.

I must say that Fed got his tactics just right esp against Murray who just got overwhelmed and probably a bit demoralized after that spectacular assault and incredibly aggressive play.He knew the importance of the first set and took the initiative both in the sf and the final. That surely isn’t in the wrong direction and he doesn’t have an option but to keep the points short against many rivals who he can no longer outhit or overpower. One really can’t complain too much if a certain level suffices to win you a slam.However,these instances of very sharp play have become increasingly rare.This year he has been patchy with moments of sharpness.I have said before that watching Fed in full flight is amongst the greatest joys I have known but the converse is also true.It saddens me when he is struggling for timing and it is horrible when he starts spraying those shots all over the place.The last two matches at the USO were exceptions in an otherwise poor hard court year.His level has been very inconsistent and he has reached a high level very rarely.His movement and timing have been a touch off and his big-point edge has almost vanished.He gets broken more often and certainly squanders way too many break point opportunities.Some of this is due to the ever-improving levels of his opponents but some of his other problems have very little to do with them.In general,I don’t see any improvement in any aspect of his game but the signs of decline are obvious.

I suspect he will get back to the bad ways again in the rest of the regular season partly due to the fact that he probably will find it difficult to motivate himself since the year-end top rank has all but been sealed.The TMC probably is the only event left which may motivate him to play well and raise his level since it is a very prestigious and elite event.As a Fed fan,I am already looking ahead to the 2009 oz open and the season in general to see if he has found some answers during the off-season.


jane Says:

Noel,

What you say makes a lot of sense; I had actually though that maybe his serve has improved. It seems to me he can use it very effectively to bail out of tough situations, or simply as a weapon. Maybe it was always so but the rest of his shots being of such high caliber perhaps outshone how good his serve actually is and has maybe always been. But it’s noticeably his go-to weapon these days, especially on hard courts. It helped a lot even against Tipsy at the AO, when he serve so many crucial aces.

I guess you’ve heard the news that he’s decided to opt out of Stockholm and perhaps more? I posted a few things I read on the other link ((Serena back in action); I could not find a source that clarified whether he was fatigued or whether the fatigue was related to mono symptoms. It also remains unclear as to when he plans to return to the court. Perhaps this is a good decision on his part – to re-fuel before the end of this year or beginning of next.

He has said in that interview / press conference that he aims to get the number 1 ranking back, so I guess it does matter to him a fair bit.


Von Says:

jane:

“Von, I think it was on a site “Tennis talk” or “Talk tennis” where they forcasted Minar would be a tough opponent for Andy; they figured at least one set would go to a tiebreak since they’re both good servers; as it turned out all three did. But Andy hit 37 Aces – yowsa!”

As usual, I missed your post — it got lost among the others. I’m frustrated!! I have not been able to see one of Andy’s matches. I didn’t know the tennis writers felt Minar would be a headache for Andy, but it’s good to know because he certainly put Roddick to the test. Andy beat him in DC last year on clay, but it was a tough match; then in Miami, Minar posed a problem and pushed Andy to 3 sets. Minar’s level of play went up from the DC level which was apparent in Miami. Unfortunately, not being privileged to watch them play in Tokyo, I can’t say how much more Minar’s improved, but from the scoreboard, it seems that he certainly took it to Andy. Roddick should have closed out that match in the second set, but he did a choke similar to his USO match with Djoko in the 4th set, and had to really knuckle down and win that Tokyo match v. Minar in 3 sets. I hope his match with Melzer will be an easier one for him. I do believe his hectic schedule over the past month is catching up to Andy, slowly but surely. I tell you my heart and blood pressure cannot handle the live scores anxiety. I don’t get it why Justin cuts off the streaming just before Rroddick’s matches. I need to have a talk with them. :P


gulu Says:

Many believ dat Rafa has a mental edge against Fed.However I don’t believ in this theory. I m waitin 4 Fed to prove me right. That said, we hav to accept that Rafa’s beaten Fed this year coz he played better,that’s all.


jane Says:

Von,

It was pretty amazing, Roddick serving 37 aces! I read that it’s the most aces he’s ever served in a three set match in his career! Wow! :-)

And today he had no problem with Melzer. And guess what? Tsonga retired against Troicki after losing the first set. I just don’t know about Tsonga; I don’t know why he reitred but lets hope it’s not another injury.

Either way, won’t get to see Roddick vs. Tsonga. So Andy’ll face Troicki, who’s no easy out. But I do hope Andy continues his good run in the East. I think he could face Del Potro next round if they both win their quarter final matches; that one would be an exciting match!


Noel Says:

Jane,
Tsonga actually won the first set although Troicki was up 2-1 when Tsonga retired with an abdominal strain.I hope it is not too serious.I was looking forward to some serious firework in the Rod-Tsonga match esp with the way Rod has been serving.Hope he recovers soon.Rod seems to be in very good serving touch.He fired another 20 aces in his win today.He won’t be facing JMDP before the finals.Rod’s sf will be against either Berdych or Gonza.JMDP is facing Ferrer in the qf and could face Gasquet or Schuettler in the sf.

Speaking of serves,I don’t share the view that Fed has a great serve.I know most people agree that he has an excellent serve but I beg to differ.It is a good serve but I’d stop short of calling it a big weapon for him in the sense that he can’t use it at his will to get out of tricky situations.Great servers rarely find themselves in tricky situations in the first place.In fact,I’d say that for a top player and one who is being talked about as one of the best,he gets into trouble on his serve pretty often,loses his serve very often and many times he loses his service game way too easily.You never get the feeling that he will recover from being 0-40 down(which we see quite often) in the assured manner of a Pete or a Rod(who rarely were/are in that situation).His serve gets broken to love or 15 very often.Although his variety,disguise and guile compensate for his lack of speed,I think a quicker serve is needed esp in the breakers if his return game is not on(which is quite often).Even an Agassi or Rafa were/are better servers imho in terms of saving break points.You see, my point is all about getting in to trouble in the very first place esp considering the fact that he has such a good game to back up his serve with.Of course, he’d have been tough to beat if he had a seriously great serve.God made sure of some problem areas(bh,serve and Rafa). :)

Btw,I wrote a post to you yesterday about Fed’s withdrawal in the Serena thread.


jane Says:

Hello Noel,

Oops, when I checked the scores I thought it was the other way round. So it is an injury. That’s a shame. I, too, had been hoping for a Roddick vs. Tsonga power-fest!

Thanks for clarifying the draw too; apparently I wasn’t quite awake when I was getting my daily tennis update this morning. :-0

I know what you mean about the assuredness of an A-Rod or Pistol Pete serve; there often wasn’t / isn’t the same concern when they fall behind in their service games as there is for most players.

However, just a cursory glance at the stats shows Roger to be 3rd behind only Roddick & Karlovic in the ace and service games won categories; 4th behind only Roddick, Karlovic, and Ljubicic in 1st service points won; and 2nd behind Rafa in second service points won. The only two places he seems to falter is in first service percentage (he’s 17th) and, if this can even be considered a falter, break points saved (he’s 6th). So I still think there is something to his serve that makes it special. If he could get his first service % higher, he’d be top notch in every service category. You know more about tennis than me; that’s obvious. But it has seemed to me that his serve is high caliber on hard courts (maybe grass too, though I can’t remember as much; i know when Rafa lost in 07 he felt that Roger’s serve was what made the difference).


Roy Says:

“gulu Says:
Hi Roy! As far as praising Fed’s concerned,Mc Enroe has the freedom to do that.But there’s a way to express your admiration towards someone deserving …What do you say?”

First and foremost, let me say that I really appreciate the prolific quantity of your posts: multiple posts per day !

Next, let me straight-away agree with your viewpoint that A Rod is a quality player and he needs to receive better Press.


Von Says:

jane:

Well, Andy is in the Sfs and he made quick work of Troicki.Ggosh, it would have been nice to see just one of his matches on TV or live streaming. The Tokyo link stopped broadcasting immediately after Nshikori lost. That’s loyalty to a son of the soil in full display.

I’m beginning to lean toward DelPotro as the real deal. He dispatched Ferrer in 2 sets and in an authoritative manner, hence, Spain watch out for JMDP in the Davis Cup final. That will be one for the odds makers. JMDP will be in the SFs v. Gasquet who has been hitting the ball very well this week. Berdych is 4-0 v. Gonzalez, as i write this. It seems to me that Gonzalez is burnt out from too much of something, but he’s another one like Blake who needs some R&R.

Tsonga has played as I expected he would have. Peaks and valleys, and another injury too. He did so well in the first set in his match v. Troicki and then just retired in the second after playing 2 games. We’ve seen so many situations previously where the players retire when they’re winning, but if they’re injured, then there’s nothing that can be done, is there? I’m sure they don’t relish retiring. From the looks of the Berdych/Gonza match, I suppose it will be Berdych v. Roddick in the other SF. BTW, did you read TD’s link on that write-up about Andy? I felt a lump forming in my throat and a pair of moist eyes after reading that article. There are still SOME generous-spirited souls out there, among those who see only the bad. Let’s just hope for the best tomorrow for Our Andy. :P


jane Says:

Von,

Yes congrats Von! Two great weeks in a row for Andy. BTW, do you know anything about his current coaching situation? I know that he and his brother had agreed to part ways and that P-Mac was with him for the Open, but who’s in his camp these days? Maybe he’s swinging free and freely?!

I would love to see these two semis also – if you do find a link please post it okay?

I agree re: JMDP; I think he’s shown so much consistency since the beginning of the summer, that he’s really come into his own.

I did not see that link TD posted; I’ll go look for it now, and read up on what I missed. I was avoiding all those posts between Roger and Rafa fans. They were getting a little too intense to read with my morning coffee! ;-)


Noel Says:

Jane,
Don’t get me wrong here but you’d agree that Roger is bound to have those sort of stats.Otherwise,he won’t be as good a player as he is.I was talking in relative terms and in certain contexts.I am not at all insinuating that he has a bad serve.The fifth set of wimby 2007 saw some very good serving by Fed in critical situations but why did he get in to those situations in the first place.Ditto for this year’s wimby.I know Rafa is a great player and probably has the best return game-Nole’s is very good too-but it was Rafa who saved more break points and-most crucially- converted more break points in both these finals.I am not concluding,therefore,that Rafa has the better overall serve but it surely isn’t a big weapon for Fed either if he can’t have better ‘crunch’ serves when he needed them most(i.e. earlier in both matches to prevent them from becoming the headaches they eventually did) and that too on a surface which suits his serve no matter how slow conditions have become there since the Pete era.After all,he won all the four breakers in these two finals.It was Rafa who was relying on breaking Fed’s serves to win his sets!!A great serve probably would have helped Fed win both these matches in straight sets.

My point is that his stats in some of the categories should be better if he has to avoid getting in to trouble in the first place.Rafa,Nole and Murray have very good return games and they are his main immediate rivals.They will punish him if he is even slightly complacent.I am actually relatively less uncomfortable with his ‘bad’ stat(first serve%) compared to the ‘better’ –and crucial-stat(break points saved)although they are closely related and I have seen his first serve percentage go down in to the 50s in many big matches in the past.I honestly think he should be saving more break points although I’d prefer him not facing that situation in the first place.Nole’s clutch serves are generally much better for instance imho.I’d also have liked greater speed which can be handy esp in the breakers.As for aces,the meaningful stat should be aces per service game played.How I wish there were some stat w.r.t. ‘free’ points per service game played i.e. aces,service winners and possibly two-shot ‘winners’.Service games won(or first or second serve points won) can depend on how good your overall game is which is very good for Fed compared to,say,a Rod(hope it isn’t misunderstood by Rod fans) who is probably likely to win most of his service points thru aces,service winners or by setting up a very easy second shot thru a bazooka serve(even on a second serve).The recent Minar match is a great example.

I’d probably qualify your statement about his serve being high-caliber or special because it is a slower yet effective serve but Rafa’s serve is mighty effective as well esp on non-hard surfaces.In fact,Fed looked like a fool returning those heavily-spun serves esp the kick and body serves in the deuce court in this year’s wimby final.

I fully realize that I have made a very controversial contention and an overwhelming majority of people has the same view as yours.You have every right to stick to your guns and without being excessively polite.I have no pretensions to being very knowledgeable.I admit I do get carried away because I am very passionate about the game-just as most of us here are- and it may come across as an obnoxious know-it-all sort of attitude. I like interacting with you.I respect you-for the way you conduct yourself here-and your opinion a lot and like your interventions which are very apt and timely.I make it a point to read what you have to say while scrolling down and tend to agree most of the time even though I may not write an ‘agreement’ post.I am sure you have watched WAY more tennis than I have and I look forward to benefiting from your experience and perspective.

I am a big fan but a critic of his game as well.Maybe,I am too demanding a fan and set different benchmarks for him.Double standards probably.I should, in hindsight, probably have avoided raising this issue.However,I have always got a strong feeling that he could serve better for a top player and one who has been in greatness discussions for quite some time now.I think Agassi’s assessment of Fed’s game during the 2005 oz open still holds true more or less.

BTW,it appears that you are pretty good at script writing/screenplay-albeit adapted-going by that humorous post on the other thread. :)


Von Says:

jane:

http://www.justin.tv/futbolarg5

The above link will show the DelPotro/Gasquet match. You have to find the AIG schedule/order of play and find the time the match is scheduled to be broadcasted. Most probably around 11:00 pm US ET. Unfortunately not one US Channel on streaming is showing the Roddick match. At least you”ll see JMDP. Yesterday Roddick had to play with only 18 hours recovery time due to the schedule. Perhaps a Czech station will broadcast berdych/Roddick match.

____________

SKOROCEL, where are you? I need your help for info one the live streaming in Slovakia/Czech. Come on sweetie, don’t hold out on me. I’ll reward you with one of my nice jokes. Wake up! — you’re probably sleeping.


rafan Says:

Von, do you like Andy when he yells at the umpires and belittles them??


sensationalsafin Says:

I do. I think it’s hilarious! Never forget 2008 AO 3rd round!!


rafan Says:

post a link! i want to see rodDICK in action.


sensationalsafin Says:

If you’re gonna call Roddick a dick, come out and say it, don’t hide in puns. And just for that, I’m not posting anything for you. Show some respect.


jane Says:

Von,

Just wanted to say thanks for the link! I just finished watching the Gasquet vs. JMDP match, and once again JMDP pulls through. Gasquet was serving to get it to 6-6 in the third but he choked a bit and JMDP stayed steady and pulled off the break to win 6-3, 4-6, 7-5. Great match. Feel kind of bad for Gasquet as he was playing nice tennis in those last two sets. But he just doesn’t pull off the wins when he needs to; the crucial moments, he’s prone to caving. JMDP on the other hand is showing again and again that he believes – and that he’s hungry.

I was thinking as I was watching that he doesn’t look as tall as he is. I mean compared to Karlovic, or Isner, or even Cilic – they all appear super tall on the court. But for some reason, JMDP doesn’t. Is this just me?


jane Says:

Noel,

I always read what you write, too, because to me you seem very knowledgeable and ever analysis you post seems well thought out. I don’t think you;re “too demanding” of a fan; in fact, in some ways you’re just the opposite. A fan wants to see the player they enjoy continue to excel and improve, and therefore objective criticism of that player’s game is posed with nothing but good intentions (and perhaps frustration from time-to-time if you’re like me!).

I realize stats don’t tell the whole story, and your post on Fed’s serve crystallizes that fact. It’s one thing to have great stats, but it’s another to actually get into those “tough” spots you point out. It’s much like the forced / unforced errors thing; a lot of times what is recorded as unforced is, in fact, forced, which I believe you pointed out with regards to the Tsonga Djoko final last weekend.

BTW, I make no pretensions to screen-writing (though as you may recall, I teach film & lit), but a little humour around here sometimes goes a long way. Comic relief is good for the soul, and helps alleviate the tragedies when our guys are losing, or not serving quite right. :-)

Till next time…


Von Says:

I know who you are and you’re still fixated on Andy’s umpire tussles. You love the subject don’t you. Threads – Toronto MS, Djoko/Roddick at the USO, Spain/US DC cup, all the same garbage, over and over and over again. Andy’s umpire tussles seem to be uppermost in your mind. Other than the umpire stuff, there really isn’t anything much you can hold onto, is there? Why don’t you and your side-kick set up a chat room on Roddick’s umpire arguments and let’s see how many posters you’ll find. And, then set one up for your hero’s dishonest time violations, and let’s see the numbers just rise to the sky on that one. I’ve had enough of your garbage from the DC recently and this is it for me where you’re concerned, until you find another alias, aka, whatever. Or better still buy some Dunkin DONUTS. Ciao.


jane Says:

Von,

Bummer about A-Rod, but on the other hand, it’s great that both Tokyo semis went 3 sets and were not decided until the very last point. Looks like Berdych may be coming back around: semis last weekend, where he fought Djoko pretty hard in the first set, and finals this weekend. I have no idea who’ll win between him & JMDP.

Andy’s had a great two weeks so take heart.


Von Says:

jane:

I’m happy for Andy that he won the China Open and made it to the Tokyo SFS. Considering how much he played at DC, travelled to China, had to get accustomed to different time zones, and then played without any rest, I think he did very well, despite it all. He’s finally getting the much needed match practice he’s been lacking since his injury in May. Hopefully, he’ll be able to salvage his season. Truthfully, I’m just contented to see him playing again, and the fact that he’s hitting the ball very well sgsin, because I know he’s a fighter and will always give 100 percent. The titles will come when he gets back his confidence. I noticed that he’s choking whenever he has to close out a set/match which was his problem last evening. That shows lack of confidence and can only be conquered when he becomes more match grooved and has gotten rid of the residual cobwebs still lurking around in his head. Come on Rover.


grendel Says:

“Rafa’s serve is mighty effective as well esp on non-hard surfaces.In fact,Fed looked like a fool returning those heavily-spun serves esp the kick and body serves in the deuce court in this year’s wimby final.” (Noel).

And not just Fed, although Fed in particular. I’ve thought for a long time that Nadal’s serve on grass is lethal. It’s not a killer serve a la Roddick or Karlovic, but it doesn’t need to be. It draws a relatively passive response which immediately allows Nadal to take control of the rally: – end of point. Typical would be Nadal serving at break point down in the 5th at Wimby final. Just a little bit short, and Fed’s serving for his 6th crown. Instead, a safe serve – no way was Nadal going to miss his first serve – not out of this world, but just difficult enough – oh, the frustration, the frustration! – to make it damn hard to do anything much with. Fed tried to avoid the passive block, but he couldn’t quite get hold of it, all that heavy slice and spin, the sodding ball just mockingly out of reach, and Nadal moves in, the steady assassin, powers it back – safely, safely, nowhere near those lines that summon misery and defeat, not necessary, no, nice and steady does it, Fed lunges desperately, what about a bit of luck now, come on, on your knees, clench your fists and promise you’ll be good for ever more; the gods are silent, they always are the retrograde bastards,the ball pops over in friendly fashion, and – face it – justice is done. Bitter justice. Easy kill for the calm matador who had set it all up with that nagging, maddeningly accurate delivery which is never quite there. Goodnight, Federer. The fleeting chance denied. There is none other.

Nadal’s serve on grass, whilst idiosyncratic, to say the least, does remind me slightly of another highly idiosyncratic serve, that of John McEnroe, who I always thought had the best serve I had ever seen on grass till Sampras came along – and even then.. Nadal will never reach those heights – but he doesn’t need to. His serve is perfectly tailored to the requirements of his game – on grass. We don’t talk about clay.

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