Maturing Murray Masters Madrid
by Sean Randall | October 19th, 2008, 11:42 pm
  • 82 Comments

Andy Murray is quickly becoming a real powerhouse on the ATP circuit. Earlier today the 21-year-old Brit collected his second straight Tennis Masters title defeating the surprising Gilles Simon 6-4, 7-6(6) in the Madrid final.

Murray of course has been on an absolute tear since Wimbledon. After dicey first half of the season, credit to Murray for really finding his form and getting in gear, and now who knows just how high he goes. Right now he’s arguably playing the best tennis of anyone out there. You could make a case for Roger Federer or for Juan Martin Del Potro, but Murray avenged his U.S. Open loss to Fed in the Madrid semifinals while Del Potro’s been on fire, but he’s done most of his damage at the smaller events.

Meanwhile, Murray’s now won his last 10 Masters Series matches, winning 20 of 22 sets including a title at Cincinnati. And the kid really is only going to get better, a rather scary proposition when you consider just how much variety he already brings to the game. Is there a shot he can’t hit?

Another player who I think will be here to stay is Simon. Of all the young guns we talk about, especially his countryman Richard Gasquet, JW Tsonga and Gael Monfils, Simon really is the “under the radar” guy. The guy who sneaks up on you when you least expect it, and he did some more of that sneaking this past week.

For such a slight, wiry frame, Simon can really deliver the knockout punch as we saw with those monster forehand down-the-line winners he slapped against Rafael Nadal in an epic win Saturday. And did mention the guy does not tire? But what I like about Simon is his attitude. He’s plays to win and unlike a lot of other guys, he’s not scared of the top players and when given the chance, he knows how to finish. (How many players not named John Isner have ever won three straight third set tiebreaks?)

And I think Simon’s game along with his head will keep him among the Top 15 for many years ahead. He’s very fluid around the court, very quick, very fit and plays good, percentage tennis. And while Murray, Novak Djokovic, Nadal, Gasquet, etc., may have the greater, overall talent, I think Simon is going to be one of those pesky kind of players no one wants to play. I hope he can maintain it because he’s fun to watch.

Ranked No. 9 in the race, Simon is now firmly in the hunt for a berth in Shanghai next month, and with two tournaments in his backyard the next two weeks (Lyon and Paris) I think he gets in. The top four – Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray – are already in as is No. 5 Nikolay Davydenko.

No. 6 Andy Roddick’s been playing solid tennis lately as he heads to Lyon as the top seed. And despite a difficult draw (he plays Nicolas Mahut in round one), I think he’ll make it into the Masters Cup. That leaves No. 7 David Ferrer the odd man out. Sorry David.

Regarding Federer and Nadal both losing on the same day Saturday, it was very surprising, but it shouldn’t sound any alarm bells. Yes, the young guys are not just coming anymore, they are here, so Fed’s days are indeed numbered, but he’s still got a lot left in the tank.

Rafa I thought played pretty well against Simon, but he just couldn’t seal it in the end. I think Fed’s loss the match before may have took some bite out of Rafa who no longer needed to beat Simon to clinch the year-end No. 1, it was his once the Swiss lost.

But Fed and Nadal aside, the future sure is looking brighter and brighter, and that’s what I’ll take away from Madrid.


Also Check Out:
Andy Murray Withdraws From Madrid Due To A Back Injury
Novak Djokovic Withdraws From Madrid Due To Right Wrist Injury
Novak Djokovic: My Wrist Injury Isn’t That Bad, I Will Play Madrid!
Nadal Handed Madrid Title by Nishikori
Andy Murray: My Back Is Fine, I Feel Pretty Good, The Next 4 Months Will Determine No. 1

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82 Comments for Maturing Murray Masters Madrid

;o Says:

I’m sad that there is a very real and possible chance that Djokovic next year will become number 4.

It gives the same benefits as being number 3 in most tournaments, but I’ve wanted him to get better, not worse.
Its surprising that just a few months ago he was matches away from number 2 Nadal.


TomA Says:

Simon is 23, turning 24 in a couple of months, so he’s not that young. I watched his match with Nadal and his mentality was like Nadal himself, never stopped fighting from about midway through the second set onwards. And he smiled a lot which was good to see.
Here’s my report that I posted on my facebook just after the match finished:

What a match eh?!! 3hrs 23mins for a 3 set match.
But I can not believe that Nadal lost. He won the first set 6-3 and in the second set Simon was struggling, going down 0-40 in the second game and showing visible signs of tiredness. But suddenly he becomes a master and takes it 7-5.

But then in the third set, Nadal FINALLY breaks serve for the first time since the first set to go up 4-2. And prior to that game, he had only lost one point on serve in the third set. So he goes to serve at 4-2 having just broken, and then gets broken himself!!

So then later Simon breaks to go up 6-5, but then Rafa survives a tough game with pure skill and levels the match at 6-6. And the crowd went wild, chanting “Rafa! Rafa! Rafa!”.
And he used the crowd to go up 3-1 in the tiebreak, but then falls apart and loses the next 4 points to go down 3-5.

He saved one match point at 5-6, but then at 6-7, he hit a backhand pass that was called good, and Nadal raised his first in triumph. But Simon challenged it, and so Nadal’s fate would be revealed in a few seconds by hawkeye. But the ball was just f****n out!!! And the crowd (and me) were like, “Oohhhh” in shock.

What a finish to the match. Simon was so good, he had the mentality of Nadal himself from mid-way through the second set onwards. But despite this loss, Nadal has done enough to secure the end of year #1 ranking. Federer will have to wait till Miami (March) to have any chance of regaining the top spot.


sensationalsafin Says:

Federer’s days aren’t exactly “numbered”. His era is over. That’s it. We’re not in the Federer Era anymore. We are in a new era, a great, new era. And Federer is very much a part of this era, just not the only one everyone’s watching. It’s actually very impressive that Federer is still very much at the top despite being a veteran compared to all the other top players. He’ll definitely break Sampras’s slam record. All he needs is 1 slam in each of the next 2 years and he’s good. At the slams I’d say he’s the favorite on the hard courts and Wimbledon and second favorite at the French. Although I think Murray will do what Djokovic did and win the AO in 09. I don’t see anyone beating Nadal at the FO yet but who knows? All these new players can play on all surfaces so Nadal will surely have his hands full. I think Federer will definitely be in next year’s Wimbledon final, win or lose. And I’m calling the US Open “Federer’s Slam”, so we’ll see if anyone can end his run there.


zola Says:

Sean,
nice post.
I am not too sad for Rafa’s loss in Madrid. I seriously didn’t want him to play with all those injections. he gained 100 points and clinched YE No 1. That’s enough for me and I hope he withdraws from Paris.

I wouldn’t say Rafa lost the bite because of Fed’s loss. If it was so, he wouldn’t have fought for about 3 hours and half. He lost the last set in a tie-break, a very close one. He wanted to win.Simon didn’t let him.

Murray and Simon are the stars of Madrid. Murray is no surprise for me, but Simon is. I didn’t take his previous wins seriously. But this guy, won all his matches in 3 sets, played a grueling match against Rafa and still wasn’t going away. what a will power!

I agree that David is out of the race. Him and Blake will be replaced by Simon and Del Potro and What a fight will Shanghai be!

Sean, another point here is how close Murray is getting to Djoko. He is about 1000 points behind Djoko and has to defend 250 points in St. Petersburg. It means any substantial win or loss can change this balance. If both exit AO in semis, Murray can replace Djoko as No 3. That makes Paris, Shanghai and AO even more important.


andrea Says:

it became so normal to see roger in every final, but i’m liking the mix up these days.

funny how the tides of tennis go. the first part of this year it was all about novak. then nadal. then fed. now it’s murray. or, more than likely, all 4 of them.

andy’s comment to the madrid crowds about how he was sorry that they didn’t get to see the roger/nadal final they all wanted to see is another less tangible thing that tennis has to come to terms with. roger and rafa are such well liked stars, and so dominant, that it seems that any final without them is a bit of a denouement to the crowds.

it’s partly the sporting worlds desire (and the ATP has pumped this up as well) to have these so-called rivalries. i feel the rivalry between roger and rafa is even greater than what sampras and agassi had, if only for the prevalence of the internet. dueling bloggers from all over the world now weigh in and have their opinions heard, whereas before, only the commentators and newspaper/magazine reporters could publicly air their thoughts.

anyway, 09 is shaping up to be an exciting year with the top 3 spots in tennis possibly rotating around for the first time in almost 4 years.


sensationalsafin Says:

The Federer-Nadal rivalry is great but I think the greatest rivalry in the next few years will be that of Murray-Djokovic. The Djokovic-Nadal one is really good, too, but seeing how well Murray is coming to terms with his abilities makes me feel like he will come out on top of the new generation, just as Federer predicted years ago. The only thing Nadal is a shoe-in for is the clay season, but Djokovic has proven to be a formidable opponent and Federer’s still around. Now we have Murray, JMDP, and Simon who can all play on clay.

Honestly, as much as I love Federer, I want him to break the slam record as soon as possible so that I don’t have to root for him anymore. I’m usually against older players winning. I hated Agassi in his last few years on tour. Other older players annoy, too. Plus, I feel like none of the older players except for maybe Roddick and Federer (and Safin) belong in this new era. It’s going to be one of the greatest in tennis history and it’s these new young players that are the cause of its greatness, not the veterans who couldn’t do squat in their primes.


Dave B Says:

I was very impressed with Gilles Simon. He has been improving steadily over the last six months and has won some tough matches. His path in Madrid was really rough. “Pesky” is the ideal word for him. He moves quickly and deftly over the court and seems tireless like Rafa. He also smiles a lot which I love. How many times do you see Rafa smiling? I have become a big fan of his watching him in Madrid.


Kimmi Says:

Sean:
David Ferrer has the same chance to qualify to Shanghai as Simon and Del Potro. He hasn’t played very well recently but if he miracurously get a good draw and a good run in Paris he is in.

Will definetly be more interesting if the form players like simon and del potro qualify, these will pose more of a challenge to the top 4.


Von Says:

Hi Kimmi;

“Will definetly be more interesting if the form players like simon and del potro qualify, these will pose more of a challenge to the top 4.”

So very true. We’ll see some big upsets taking place and it’s going to be dificult to select a winner. The foregone conclusions/predictability will be taken out of the equation, which will make watching those matches much more exciting. I can’t believe we’re talking about Paris and the TMC already. Where did the season go? Are you watching Basel or do you have access to live streaming for that tourney? Fed’s still listed on the draw so it seems he’s going to be playing. Enjoy if you watch! :P This week the Tennis Channel is broadcasting old matches from 2002 and subsequent years for Paris, some of which I’d never seen previously, which is enjoyable, because I don’t know of the results.


Kimmi Says:

Hi Von,
I dont have tennis channel to watch those beautiful matches. I will definetly catch federer in basel over the weekend, i will look for the live stream….hopeful he does reach the semi (fingers crossed). Before the weekend I will follow the live score.


gordo Says:

Gee, sensationalsafin – you like the young boys do you? :)

“Honestly, as much as I love Federer, I want him to break the slam record as soon as possible so that I don’t have to root for him anymore. I’m usually against older players winning. I hated Agassi in his last few years on tour. Other older players annoy, too.”

Wow!

I guarantee you out of these new young powerhouses – Simon, Del Potro, Gulbris, Tsonga, and even Djokovic – more than one of them has already peaked and will drift down to become the Baghdatis or the Ljubicic of 2009. Remember Baghdatis and Ljubicic? You were all touting them and they are #43 and #46 in the world respectively.

As for the Fed era being over – if you check the results on the X poll on the main page it appears very few agree with you. As of this moment here is how the poll reads -
==================================
Who will finish 2009 ranked No. 1?

Rafael Nadal 5%
Roger Federer 94%
Novak Djokovic 0%
Someone Else 0%
Who Cares 1%

Total votes: 7210
==================================

Hmmmn – interesting, n’est ce-pas?


Von Says:

Gordo:

“I guarantee you out of these new young powerhouses – Simon, Del Potro, Gulbris, Tsonga, and even Djokovic – more than one of them has already peaked and will drift down to become the Baghdatis or the Ljubicic of 2009. Remember Baghdatis and Ljubicic? You were all touting them and they are #43 and #46 in the world respectively.”

You’re absolutely right on in your predictions on the young guns. I wasn’t a believer in either Baghdatis and/or Ljubicic, to me they were flashes in the pans. I feel the same about the young guns, but then I’m a character who’s resistant to change, but I sincerely feel that some of these guys are going to fade out as quily as the ignited. Simon is already 24 and has only just recently begun to put forth some good results so I’m hesitant to jump on his bandwagon, and some of the others have had considerable problems with injuries, which makes their longevity in tennis highly questionable. Anyway, the old cliche rings true here, ‘only time will tell’. In the meantime, I’ll certainly enjoy their matches and hope that they prove me wrong.


Von Says:

Kimmi:

During the day there are some matches on live streaming on justin.Tv, and I know they feature a lot of Fed’s matches so you can check them out; click on ‘Tennis” in the sports category and it will take you to the sites that are live streaming. I know today they featured the Lyon tournament, so maybe, just maybe, I’ll catch one of A-Rod’s matches.

The past Paris MS matches are enjoyable. Today I saw some of Safin v.Hewitt in their 2002 final which Safin won. I enjoyed every minute of it.


Von Says:

Typo in my post to Gordo “quily as the ignited”, should read as “quickly as they ignited”.


sensationalsafin Says:

I never expected anything from Ljubicic. He was lucky to be ranked as high as he was. As for Baghdatis, I still have faith. But he was never even remotely consistent in terms of titles and results. Tsonga seems to be like Baghdatis as of now. But Simon and JMDP have been putting up very consistent results for the majority of the second half of the year. Simon had the balls to take out Nadal, something Baghdatis never managed to do. JMDP has wrecked some of the best players of the last few years like it was no body’s business. Not exactly foreshadowing a flash in the pan, imo.


Sean Randall Says:

o; well if you are a Djokovic fan things are looking a little bleak. Nadal and Federer aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and Murray and Del Potro are clearly on the rise. Add that to Novak’s PR problems and his admission that his fitness is an issue for him and it’s very hard to see him getting to No. 1 in the near future.

sensationalsafin, with the young guys charging hard, Fed’s reign will be over that much quicker. Now that might mean Fed’s Top 3 status ends in four years rather than five, but with the competition only improving it’s only going to be tougher looking ahead. And I would agree, hard to bet against Fed at Wimbledon and the US Open next year, and Murray certainly a good pick at the Australian Open (I picked him last year!).

Zola, I think had Fed beaten Murray, Rafa would have then beating Simon. But with Fed losing a little bit of air went out of Rafa. Sure he still wanted to beat Simon, absolutely, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he let down a bit. And I agree, I hope Rafa does withdraw from Paris. That said the guy’s only lost one career match there. Not bad!

Regarding Novak and Murray, the way things are going it does look like they’ll swap spots following the Australian Open.

Kimmi, I’m eliminating Ferrer. He hasn’t shown anything in the second half of the year on hardcourts. The give guys he’s beaten since the tour shifted off the clay: Robby Ginepri, Takao Suzuki, Jesse Levine, Martin Arguello and Andreas Beck. For David the season can’t be over fast enough.

Gordo, Ljubicic is not even worthy of conversation, unless you want to talk about how bad a shape the tour was a few years ago when he ranked No. 2. Baghdatis, however, will be back. He’s got a lot of game, but his head will have to follow.


Von Says:

Ljubicic is certainly on his way out; he’s 30 or close thereto, but Baghdatis is still young and has time to get his game going. His problem is inconsistency and there’s that niggling feeling that he’s not 100 percent committed.


sensationalsafin Says:

Ljubicic was ranked as high as 3, not 2. But yeah looking back the tour was pathetic compared to this. In case anyone wants to use Ljubicic and others to say Federer’s era was weak and discredit him, it doesn’t matter. He still managed to claim a slam in a year in which he is clearly coming off his peak and every else is rising.


NachoF Says:

Sean Randall Says:
“Zola, I think had Fed beaten Murray, Rafa would have then beating Simon”

Wow…. talk about discrediting Simon for actually beating Nadal… It was a third set tiebreaker that Nadal ALMOST won… This had nothing to do with Federer whatsoever.


gulu Says:

Tsonga’s so talented that he is one of my most favourit ever players. Yet it’s so sad that he has won just one title upto now.If he becomes careful about his health n his game,he’ll surely beat every player around and’ll becom one of d top players.


gordo Says:

Yes – surprising that Sean – who is incredibly knowledgeable – to suggest that Rafa is content just to be number one at year end and when Fed lost to Murray on Saturday, ensuring him that desired result, that he what – let up? Didn’t care? Just went for a obligatory hit?

PUHLEEZE – I agree with NachoF – what a swipe at Simon!!!

There are 2 players on this tour over the past 4 years who have proven that if you are going to beat them you are going to have to rip their hearts out. When they step on a court if you do beat them it will be because you are better. Period! Not because they gave it away. And It is no coincidence that those two players are ranked One and Two, and will be for some time, although they may again swap places next year.


Federer's nightmare begins Says:

With all these good players on the tour! He would not dominate like he once did! And would continues to fly high! lol When his arse being kicked by Murray, Nadal, Nalbandian, Simon Gillies and ocassionally by Novak Djokovic! And he is going to have problems with his draws in the coming tournaments for being seeded. He will be running into these guys. So really, I doubt that he would be in the finals alot to play Nadal these days!


Federer had been beaten 13 times this year! Says:

He didn’t win alot of matches, since his Wimbledon defeat. Although, he won the US Open. But Murray was tired playing on Saturday and Sunday. And he was inexperienced in his first Grand Slam final.


Von Says:

“Yes – surprising that Sean – who is incredibly knowledgeable – to suggest that Rafa is content just to be number one at year end and when Fed lost to Murray on Saturday, ensuring him that desired result, that he what – let up? Didn’t care? Just went for a obligatory hit?

PUHLEEZE – I agree with NachoF – what a swipe at Simon!!!”

I agree with you guys. I saw that comment but didn’t want to be the one to bring it up for several reasons, but I honestly think that was a huge put-down for Simon, who’s on a hot streak and won that match fair and square. Nadal wants to win everything and put as great a distance as he possibly can between himself and Federer, which would make a comeback by Fed an insurmountable task, hence it wouldn’t make sense for him to just let his guard down.


zola Says:

Sean
I don’t agree with you. Rafa played 3 hours and 22 minutes and lost in a very close tie-break. he gave it all. If he wanted to tank, he could have done it in an hour.

According to him and Simon, Simon came back in the second set and started playing better and returning more balls. If he had given up, Rafa would have won the match. He stayed there and won it in 3 and a half hours. Credit to Simon and credit to Rafa.

As a Rafa fan, I was not too sad that he lost. I seriously didn’t want him to play one more match with injections to his shoulder. But he would have done it if Simon did not play that fantastic.


Von Says:

Gordo:

“Who will finish 2009 ranked No. 1?

Rafael Nadal 5%
Roger Federer 94%
Novak Djokovic 0%
Someone Else 0%
Who Cares 1%

Total votes: 7210
==================================

Hmmmn – interesting, n’est ce-pas?”

Beau geste, n’est ce pas. Beautiful gesture, isn’t it, that they still believe in Fed being No. 1 even though it didn’t materialize. :P


Federer and his mon! Says:

Mono your arse! You are full of shits! I ain’t going to argue with the the piles of shits that you laid on the ground! lol


gulu Says:

I also think Fed’ll b year end no.1 in 2009. It’s not lik I m writing off others.But I think u can’t bet against Fed doing that! However Nadal, I feel, wil remain at top 4 a long time,may b at a stretch or in patches,but
he really should. Thanks! :-)


gulu Says:

However there’s one thing which I sometimes think.If there’s anyone who can surpass Roger,it’s Rafa.I’d always lik Fed 2 remain ‘Still the one’. But if someday Fed’s surpassed, I’d still continu 2 b proud of him 4 what he’s done 4 tennis! :-) GO ROGER !


zola Says:

gulu
***However there’s one thing which I sometimes think.If there’s anyone who can surpass Roger,it’s Rafa.I’d always lik Fed 2 remain ‘Still the one’. But if someday Fed’s surpassed, I’d still continu 2 b proud of him 4 what he’s done 4 tennis! GO ROGER !****

Ahhh……I wish! but that is such a mountain to climb even for Rafa! But it is very nice of you to be so supportive!
Go Rafa and Go Roger!


gulu Says:

Sanskrit language also says that a fool would never wanna argue! Lol ! ;-)


gulu Says:

Dear Zola, I just wanna tel u that I m as much a Sampras fan as I m of Fed,thou with Fed,I m more emotional ! :-o How amazing it is,Pete may b surpassed by Fed! :-) Similarly there may come a day when Fed too might get surpassed,it’s pretty normal ! ;-)


gulu Says:

I personally consider Fed neither better nor lesser than Laver or Borg or Sampras ! I never compare generations,it actually seems funny to me when I see comparison among the players of different eras! ;-)


grendel Says:

I see 14 year old Laura Robson took a set off the Czech Iveta Benesova (ranked #42) at Luxembourg, in her first match on the WTA tour. Sounds respectable to me. It was interesting to hear Annabelle Croft (former British #1, now a commentator) talk about the recent experiences of her apparently talented daughter. On the “pre WTA tour” (don’t know what they call it), according to Annabelle, there was widespread, frenetic cheating. I suppose there won’t be any umnpires. It seems the young Croft loves her tennis and will continue to play for fun, but has lost interest in scrabbling in the mud with all the other ambitious teenyboppers. So she has concluded her career before she has even properly started it. It does make you wonder a bit about what goes on behind the scenes. Quite a jungle, it looks like. All that decorous handshaking, fingers mentally reaching for the eyes….

Meanwhile, Robson seems to be a tough cookie – and her progress bears watching, I’d guess.


Sean Randall Says:

Tank, Zola? I didn’t say Rafa wanted to tank. All I’m saying is that he may have lost some of the edge after Federer lost. And given the final scoreline that could have been the difference. Take nothing away from Simon, but had Federer won I don’t see anyway Rafa loses to Gilles in that situation. The stakes would have been different.


gulu Says:

Wow Sean ! Your latest theory ? ;-)
Had Roger won against Murray,Rafa’d win too against Simon,eh ? Finally I know that Rafa was kidding out there with Simon for 3 1/2 hours ! ;-) U sound very very funny ! :-)


gulu Says:

Whoever thinks Rafa has lost some motivation against Simon due to Roger’s loss should hav seen d match and observed how wildly each point won was being celebrated by Rafa! But Simon won d match coz he kept his cool n didn’t care 4 Rafa’s fistpumping !


grendel Says:

Sean is talking about motivation – that counts, hugely. Doesn’t mean Nadal would have won, though. Does mean he is more likely to have done so.


jane Says:

“well if you are a Djokovic fan things are looking a little bleak. Nadal and Federer aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and Murray and Del Potro are clearly on the rise. Add that to Novak’s PR problems and his admission that his fitness is an issue for him and it’s very hard to see him getting to No. 1 in the near future.”

Personally I am not sure if things are “bleak” for Novak. At present, he’s got some issues; with that I’ll agree, and indeed, talent is not all that matters, as Sean implies in his article. But I think Novak still has a lot of wins in him and plenty of desire. I see his mentioning the need to work on his fitness as a good thing; it shows he knows he’s got work to do and is willing to do it. PR problems are not a big deal imo; he’ll be over those soon enough and has already probably learned a lot after the USO fiasco.

I thought he did a pretty good job of defending his points this year; up to Wimbledon, he bettered what he did last year, going deeper in most of the clay events than in 07. He slipped up at Wimbledon, but has gone deep in most tournaments since. He has not titled, which is something he might be concerned about (I think he should’ve won in Bangkok, but he ran into a hot Tsonga)

The present and future competition is there for everyone, not just him. I agree with sensationalsafin that Murray and Djoko may have a fun rivalry to follow – hope so anyhow.


sensationalsafin Says:

Once Federer has 15 slams, I’m going to completely back Djokovic (with the occassional “Go Murray!”). With all the crap Djokovic seems to be going through, he’s become that much more appealing to me. But I’ve always been a fan of his game so I’m really hoping he improves and he or Murray take the number 1 away from Nadal.


jane Says:

sensationalsafin,

I’ll second that motion – although I am not a huge Roger fan, I’d be happy to see him break the record before he retires; he deserves it for all he’s brought to the game. He’s made a significant impact on the likes of Murray and Djoko and the level at which they play, as has Rafa.

So then let Djoko and Murray share the spoils for a while, and a few other players too. I’d like to not see one player dominate for a while, watch a few intense rivalries as they develop and see what happens.


SG Says:

You don’t tank a 3 hour and 22 minute 3 setter.


Von Says:

sensationalsafin:

“With all the crap Djokovic seems to be going through, he’s become that much more appealing to me. But I’ve always been a fan of his game so I’m really hoping he improves and he or Murray take the number 1 away from Nadal.”

jane:
“So then let Djoko and Murray share the spoils for a while, and a few other players too. I’d like to not see one player dominate for a while, watch a few intense rivalries as they develop and see what happens.”

Sounds like you two are embroiled in collusion to me. :P How are you going to implement your plans? LOL :D I hope Roddick is among those whom you are going to allow to share the spoils for a while along with Djokovic and Murray. However, I think the Top 2 will have something to say about your plans. LOL :)

collusion


Von Says:

Kimmi, sensationsafin and Feed fans:

If you are interested uin watching fed’s match in Basel, which is on BTW as I write this. Go to :

http://www.justin.tv/radiomix2

Enjoy! :P


jane Says:

Von,

” I hope Roddick is among those whom you are going to allow to share the spoils for a while”

Of course!


Sean Randall Says:

Jane, right now I give Novak no chance to win the Australian Open come January. Remember that crowd booed him last year, I can’t imagine they’ll treat much better the next time around, and I don’t think he’s thick-skinned enough yet to deal with that.


gulu Says:

I think either Federer or Nadal will win Aus Open 2009 ! I won’t bet for others here.Truly speakin it’ll b my saddest day when Fed retires. :-( May he continue 2 play 4 another 7-8 years ! After Fed’s gone,Rafa’d b my fav,then Murray,Tsonga n Del Potro.


sensationalsafin Says:

I don’t think Djokovic will win the AO. I think Murray’s gonna win it. Nadal will win the French. Federer wins Wimbledon. And then Djokovic breaks through and wins the US Open. That’s my prediction for next year.

At the AO, I definitely see Nadal in the final. Idk when Djoker and Fed will lose but I think the final will be Murray and Nadal. Why Nadal? Because every single year he’s gotten one round further than the year before. I expect him to win it in 2010.


jane Says:

i’m not about to make predictions on the AO; I admire those of you who have the guts to do so, but I want to see how the players are playing *then* to make a call. It’s too late in the season to know what the heck will be up at the beginning of next year, imo.

But all the top 4 are still contenders, imo, with a number of dark horses, perhaps more than ever, galloping around and through the draw.


sensationalsafin Says:

My prediction is more or less my hope. If Federer had won Wimbledon, I would’ve wanted to see Murray win the US Open so that all 4 of the top 4 had 1 slam this year. Unfortunately Nadal screwed it up. So hopefully next year it’ll happen. My greatest dream, however, would be Federer winning the French next year, and Wimbledon, too. That’d be great.


grendel Says:

Federer and Reynolds, one set all ( on Eurosport). Amazingly laboured performance from Federer.

Motivation is an intangible. A person can be playing to the utmost of their ability – and yet, could still have played harder had they only had the motivation. That’s how it works – tanking has nothing to do with it.


gulu Says:

I’d not b happy at all if Fed wins anything less than 16 slams(French included) and an olympic singles gold! However I’d hav loved 2 see Roger retire with 18 slams! Ok ok,don’t b angry with me for being a littl bit greedy as a Fed fan ! :-)


gulu Says:

My prediction is my hope n also passion n lov dat I’v got 4 Fed ! I also really trust him 4 makin prediction !Truly speakin I didn’t giv Fed any chance at Wimby or FO this year coz I didn’t see in him dat sting,but 4 a whil it returned in U.S.O. !


grendel Says:

Manchester United 3 Celtic 0. Now that was enjoyable (even if 2 of the goals were offside).

Federer 2 Reynolds 1. That was NOT enjoyable, although Reynolds put up a good show – twice cam back from 0-40, and generally pushed Federer all the way. I’ve always made a point of watching Federer’s matches, regardless at what tourney. And he always used to be excellent value. Now he is only occasionally.

It can be hard work being a fan.


jane Says:

Especially because motivation lies below the surface for even the player himself; it is often subconscious. Every athlete is of course desirous to win, but if they know underneath it all, there are no great stakes, surely they might labour, or take their foot slightly off the pedal.

And the stakes are different throughout the year for different players – context impacts motivation. But motivation also can be impacted unconsciously.


jane Says:

Does that make any sense?


andrea Says:

oh god. another 2 weeks of chest beating by novak at the AO? please say no…..


Daniel Says:

Jane, indeed it does! Specially knowing how well Rafa deals with pressure. If it was imperative for him to win (secure year end n. 1 had Fed won), he would be in the final.

I agree Nadal wanted to win, 3 and half hours prove it, but the feeling that the outcome would be different had Fed won is there.

I don’t know if you guys notice it but this is the third time both lost in semis on hard (AO, Indian Wells, Madrid) when everybody expected a Fed x Nadal final. The only exception was US Open.

grendel, as Fed himself always said, first rounds are tricky! He will regroup and be ready for Del Potro/Nalby in the final. He was playing to good last week to lose form so soon.
Had Murray not serve the best match of his life Fed would have won it and this shows that he will push the young guys a lot in the future before he really fade away.


Roger was right Says:

The British media went to town accusing Roger of unsportsmanlike behaviour when Roger rightly assessed Murray’s game to be too defensive even if it had been effective against him in his win in Dubai. These comments were made in good faith but the context made them appear like a case of sour grapes. All of them jumped on Roger without even thinking about how good Roger had been to Murray earlier and how highly Roger talked of Murray’s talent and potential. The same British media went against Murray when he was struggling and now are again joining his wandwagon. Here is proof of how Roger’s incisive analysis helped Murray become an attcking player.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/andymurray/3230511/Andy-Murrays-great-feats-all-spring-from-a-Roger-Federer-masterclass-says-mother-Tennis.html


Dave B Says:

I think the idea that Nadal “tanked” in Madrid in front of his home audience is preposterous. Winning in Spain would have been the cherry on top of the sundae.


Kimmi Says:

Von:
“If you are interested uin watching fed’s match in Basel, which is on BTW as I write this. Go to: ”

Thanks Von, I will check out this place soon. I follow the live score today and he had a bit of a wobble in his first match. But good win fed.


NachoF Says:

Im afraid I might stop caring as much for tennis after Federer’s gone… just like I have stopped caring about baseball since the Atlanta Braves stopped being a dominant team.


Ra Says:

You know what’d be a real good match? Simon vs Davydenko. I’m just sayin…

Hi everyone.


gulu Says:

Hi Roger-was- right! You are right too! Media,may be British ,may be American or from whichever place it may be,is always engaged in makin a mountain out of a mole-hill,e.g. as you pointed out in the case of Fed’s comments about Murray !


gulu Says:

Hi Roger-was- right! You r right too! Media,whether it’s British or American or from somewher else,is always engaged in makin a mountain out of a mole-hill,e.g. as u pointed out in d case of Fed’s comments about Murray ! BTW,d articl provided by u great !


MMT Says:

Federer should heed his own advice to Murray. It worked in Shanghai last year, and again at the US Open. It’s the only way he’ll break Pete’s records.


grendel Says:

Dave B – nobody is saying Nadal tanked. Have a look at Jane’s post at 5:22. The role motivation plays in geeing up a player to do his utmost is well attested. And that “geeing-up” process gets going well before the match starts. But every athlete, in every sport, knows that there is a strict limit as to how often he can do this in a season, since he does not have limitless reserves of energy. And this energy, so far as I can see, is a sort of psychic energy – let us assume the player is physically fully fit.

Then it becomes a question of what constitutes absolute motivation or rather, since absolutes never make much sense, what gets near it. You think playing in Madrid in front of a Spanish audience does it. That’s reasonable, but personally, I doubt if even that is as powerful a motivating factor as that adduced by Sean.

But of course, Nadal is an honest professional who, once on the court, always gives of his best – so far as he can. He is not superhuman and is subject to the same unconscious “dragging” factors as anybody else. This is the sort of thing you can never prove and – given that Nadal definitely didn’t tank – I can’t see that it matters much, even though it is quite interesting in a general sort of way.


zola Says:

Sean,
If Rafa won that third set tie-break, he would have been the winner. It was that close of a match and perhaps we would have never had this discussion. I think we can think about many reasons for that loss and they will all remain speculations.

Roger was right
Read that article carefully. Judy says Andy learned a lot from his loss in Madrid ( last year to Rafa, then talks about the Dubai and then semi-final and final of the US Open. Their encounter in Shanghai or Australian Open should be very interesting.

I don’t want to speculate about AO either. It is good that Murray now balances the draw and I would love to see him in Federer’s half any time!

gulu dear
I was a Sampras fan too.For some reason Agassi never appealed to me. After Sampras I did not watch tennis until Rafa’s 2006 final with Federer in Paris and you can tell what happened after that!


grendel Says:

But an educated guess, Zola, not one just drawn out of the ether.


gulu Says:

Dear Zola, I love those players only in whom I see some jaw-droppingly extraordinary talent.I observ how effectively n effortlessly they beat their rivals,they gotta b unique,
novel n simply d best ! Fed’s got all these stuff,that’s why he’s my fav !


Andrew Miller Says:

Mr. Randall: do you feel that the “scramblers” players’ days are numbered (human backboards in the mold of Michael Chang, such as D. Ferrer?)

Kind of feel that Djokovic, unlike Baghdatis, has killer instinct (the latter, killer talent) and this days, without a fierce mix of both (more the instinct than the talent, because being super fit just reinforces the killer instinct), winning big titles just aint happening.


Andrew Miller Says:

Zola: regarding Murray’s mom’s comments, I am amazed how much the players are affected by what their peers say publicly. It’s amazing they use those comments as fuel to strengthen their games.

For example, Djokovic perceives a slight from Andy Roddick and uses Roddick’s words as motivation to beat him in the U.S. Open Quarterfinals (Roddick shouldn’t have said what he said: I think Roddick would have won that match if he hadn’t stirred Djokovic’s ire – why awaken a sleeping giant?)

Murray perceives some feedback from Federer and uses it to retool his game and get serious. His results speak for themselves.

It seems there are three things that now work in tennis to light a fire/stir an awakening/commitment in a player to do something: (1) Tragic Circumstances (death of Federer’s coach; death of Sampras’ coach – having something to play for) (2)Peer comments/trash talk.

So, how much then, and this is a general question to everyone, does a player’s results really depend on “talent” or “ambition” or even “dedication” alone? It seems like there is an awful lot of room for “random events” that ignite a change that force players to either commit with everything they have.

Where would Andy Murray be without the Federer comments (that he probably takes into every match he has with Federer)? Would not he still be someone who is making quarterfinals on occasion. The player is a “new player” playing with as much fire as possible, as often as possible.

Maybe some straight “peer trash talk” would do wonders for the likes of Baghdatis to bridge that ever growing, grand canyon size gap between talent and results. Otherwise, Baghdatis is a smiling Marcelo Rios, cerca 2008.


zola Says:

Andrew Miller,
***So, how much then, and this is a general question to everyone, does a player’s results really depend on “talent” or “ambition” or even “dedication” alone? It seems like there is an awful lot of room for “random events” that ignite a change that force players to either commit with everything they have.***

Interesting question. But I would say it all depends on the personality. On how much one wants to prove himslef to the others rather than wanting to play good tennis and win. Or how hurtful a comment has been and when it was said.

Measuring the effect of “thrash talking” on the wins is not too hard. We need to find out these “thrash talks” and the results coming afterwards. See how many good results have come after such talks and how many without it. Then we can compare and reach a conclusion.

For example there are not many ( or any?) thrash talking Federer and he was the world number one for 4 1/2 years. So, I don’t think it is a general rule but if a player is hurt emotionally,(perhaps Djoko in US Open), he can go to the court with nothing to lose and use those words as extra motivation. In case of Murray, he had won Federer twice before that advice. He also had a new team and a new strategy. My guess is that those words just added to his determination. Fed might think twice next time!


gulu Says:

Hi dear Zola! A smile for you. :-)


grendel Says:

Poor Nieminem! Going into tonight’s match, he had lost 18 sets against Federer and won – none. Tonight, he served for the first set – and was broken. Well, undaunted, he got his head down for the tiebreak, earned the minibreak, served for the set – and was broken. Soon after, set 1 to Federer.

In set 2, he breaks back – just as he did in set 1, and earns the tiebreak. This one, Federer wins easily, not altogether surprisingly. Because Federer’s volleying had been pretty lamentable all evening, eliciting a lot of anger from the Swiss. You sense huge frustration, which can only mean Federer is generally bullish about his volleying and can’t make out why it goes so wrong. Helps, of course, not to rush the net on poor approaches, which Fed did again and again. There was one (only, I think) nice chip and charge. However, in the game prior to the tiebreak, Federer hit a a whole series of excellent volleys (and he didn’t scratch his head head wonderingly, but acted as if he’d been doing it all night), and you felt: the man’s got his eye in at last. Curtains for Nieminem, looks like. And so it was.

One or two notable features. Apparently Nieminem won more points off his second serve than his first which meant, as Frew Macmillan remarked, that he was beating Federer off the ground. And it certainly looked like that. One shot of Nieminem’s – his inside out forehand hit hard and flat crosscourt – was used frequently, to prodigious effect. Am I alone in being very much reminded of Nadal, and not just because they are both lefties?

Nieminem lost the first set, Federer did not win it. However, despite being frequently outplayed, it’s fair to say Fed earned the second set by great play in the important moments.

What a life, though. 0 – 20 in sets now. Just isn’t fair – but, Nieminem has only himself to blame, if that’s the right thing to say. The trouble is, players like Nieminem – a really excellent player – just don’t get the opportunities to build up the confidence necessary to just – carry on doing in the critical game what they’ve so successfully been doing in the previous few games. Nieminem’s perfunctory post match handshake reflected a suspicion that his opponent (actually an old friend) was a master of illusion, and might very well walk off with his hand.


Andrew Miller Says:

Can’t really feel too sorry for Jarkko. He is Finland’s best player ever by far, and he hits a heck of a ball.

I think you are right about the opportunities: not enough big match experience for Niemenen.


Kimmi Says:

Grendel: Nice analysis for federer match. Didn’t see tha match so this helps. Sounds like Nieminen played well 1st set and federer was below par on his volleys. Nieminen can’t take advantage again…..

I see Gasguet lost again. This time to Darcis. Looks like everyone has a shot at him now. The baby Fed does not live to his potential.

Simon carrying on the same roll of playing 3 sets with tiebreaks. He seem to always have the dog fight near the end. Kudos to him for winning them but it is very risky play. If he carries on with this trend….will he have enough energy to play well in Paris and fight for a spot in shanghai ?


zola Says:

I didn’t see the match, but congratulations to dear gulu . :), grendel, Nacho F, Sensationalsafin. Andrew Miller, Kimmi, FoT ( where are you?) and other Federer fans.

I was not too surprised for Nieminen’s loss. More surprised that Fed let it drag to two tie breaks.

btw,
do you know what is the name of Jarko’s younger brother: Eiminem Nieminen. Try saying that 10 times!


zola Says:

gulu dear, I am not good at smileys. Trying to send you another one. :)
congratulations again.


Kimmi Says:

Zola: “Eiminem Nieminen. Try saying that 10 times” LOL


zola Says:

hmmm….
Roddick lost to Soderling in Lyon with tie-breaks and Blake is now a break down to Feli in the first set. I don’tthink Blake has a chance for Shanghai but one or two more wins in Paris and Roddick will be there. I think the last three will be Roddick, Del Potro and Simon.

Del Potro and Nalbandian through in Basel.

The Simon machine has not run out of fuel yet. He wins Ouanna in straight sets. He is just fascinating. But perhaps the prospect of being in Shanghai perhaps add more adrenalin to the blod!


Dan Martin Says:

I agree with a lot of what is written here and have a column that will be up soon, I hope all is well.

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ATP - Jul 21 WTA - Jul 21
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Rafael Nadal2 Na Li
3 Roger Federer3 Simona Halep
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 Tomas Berdych5 Agnieszka Radwanska
6 David Ferrer6 Maria Sharapova
7 Milos Raonic7 Eugenie Bouchard
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