Federer Stays Alive in Shanghai, Beats Radek Not Roddick
by Sean Randall | November 12th, 2008, 3:11 pm
  • 61 Comments

Nothing spells Tennis Masters Cup competition more than seeing the 27th-ranked Radek Stepanek grace the court. That’s the true meaning of having an eight-man, best-of-the-best elite field, isn’t it? Well, maybe not. Stepanek was a late fill-in for an injured Andy Roddick today against Roger Federer in Red Group round robin play from Shanghai.

And fortunately for most fans in the audience or those viewing at home Federer took care business defeating Radek 7-6(4), 6-4 insuring another session without the worm dance at the Masters Cup.

In the earlier match it was Andy Murray remaining perfect, destroying Gilles Simon 6-4, 6-2 to clinch semifinal spot.

Credit though to Stepanek for making the effort. With his gear held up in customs, Radek showed up at the tournament without his tennis racquets and without his socks – apparently he got a racquet from Novak Djokovic and had to borrow Andy Murray’s socks! (Hope they were clean.) I can’t necessarily blame him though for being unprepared, ranked No. 27 I’m sure playing the Masters Cup was the furthest thing on his mind a week ago.

But when 17 or so guys ranked above him balked at the chance of a free trip to Shanghai plus 50K spending money, Stepanek, who was probably sitting on the beach in Thailand with girlfriend Nicole Vaidisova thinking up new worm dance routines, stepped up.

Of course Stepanek got the ask when Roddick rolled an ankle earlier during practice. How severe or slight the injury is up for speculation, but with Roddick now out of the tournament along with the absence of Rafael Nadal and the continuing ailments felt by Federer (back and stomach) and Juan Martin Del Potro (big toe), have again sparked concern of tour injuries, player commitment and the length of the season.

First, I have to say I’m miffed as to why this time of year it’s always the big names getting injured or withdrawing. How come Nikolay Davydenko, Svetlana Kuznetsova or Elena Dementieva never withdraw? It seems to be the big stars like Nadal, Roddick, Sharapova, Serena, Andre Agassi, etc., doing the damage. Then again I’m sure there’s evidence to the contrary. At least I hope there is.

I’m also not completely on board with blaming the season length for these withdrawals and injuries. Sure it’s a factor but it’s not the direct cause. Of course the players do what they do, and that is complain. But there really is no quick and easy fix to the problem. Some years we get a rash of withdrawals and other years we don’t, just a case of bad luck in my opinion.

Will shortening the season by a week or two make much difference? Probably not. Will moving the year-end event from faraway locales like Shanghai or Doha to more accessible venues in London or NY help the cause, probably.

Going forward in the tournament, Federer will now need a “miracle” as he puts it to make it into the semifinals. Fed will now have to beat Murray on Friday to have a chance of making it into the semifinals with his berth also contingent upon the result of Simon v. Stepanek. Of course Murray could take a dive giving Federer a better chance to qualify since the Scot’s place is assured, but…

As for tomorrow, in the last day of Gold Group play Novak Djokovic gets Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nikolay Davydenko meets Juan Martin Del Potro with the winner advancing to the semifinals.


Also Check Out:
Spaniards Nadal, Ferrer Reach Tennis Masters Semis; Federer v. Roddick Today
Federer Rebounds, Beats Down Davydenko; Roddick Rolls Gonzo at Tennis Masters Cup
Blake Falls as Del Potro, Simon Move Closer to Shanghai
Murray Stays On Track For Shanghai Title; Ferrer Edges Roddick
Roger Federer Confirms Shanghai Participation

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61 Comments for Federer Stays Alive in Shanghai, Beats Radek Not Roddick

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

federer lucks out again


RG Says:

Sean:

Thanks for clarifying the hold-up of Radek’s gear at Customs. That explains Roger’s comment about Radek not playing with his own racket.

On another note:
I am looking forward to Djokovic vs Tsonga match (rematch…). Tsonga’s gotten the better of him the last 2 times they have played. A win against Tsonga will definitely boost his much needed confidence, especially if he has to play either Federer/Murray later in the tournament.


zola Says:

Sean,
***How come Nikolay Davydenko, Svetlana Kuznetsova or Elena Dementieva never withdraw? It seems to be the big stars like Nadal, Roddick, Sharapova, Serena, Andre Agassi, etc., doing the damage. Then again I’m sure there’s evidence to the contrary. At least I hope there is.
*******

First of all Davydenko had his own injuries last year. Secondly, when players lose early, they have time till the next tournament to recover. When players win, they have often to play two weeks in a row. That’s why it is easier for Davydenko to play more tournamnts than Rafa. Surely, style of play is a factor too. All in all, plyers are humans. Why do we want to ignore that? When a player is injured during the season, he has hardly enough time to recover 100%.

It is not as if players get injured for pleasure. Tennis is an individual sport, played 11 months of the year. I would like to see an example of another sport that has so much demand on the body. Soccer, basketball, football,…all are team efforsts and even so are not played every day. If there is another individual sport with a calendar resembling ATP ( 11 months, back to back tournaments), I would like to know about it.

This part is from my comment on the other thread:
***********
Players are obliged to play 8 master series events and 4 grand slams. In addition they can play 5 other tournaments.They are also expected to play in national events like olympics and Davis Cup.

……

Look at the number of tournamnets and matches played by the top 11 players:
1- RAfa : ( T: 19, M:93 )
2-Federer:( T: 18: M: 76 )
3-Djoko :(T: 18: M:76 )
4-Murray( T: 22: M: 70 )
5-Davydenko (T:22 M: 72 )
6-Roddick: ( T: 22: M: 66 )
7-Tsonga: (T:20, M: 45)
8-Del Potro (T: 21, M: 58)
9-Simon (T: 28: M: 74 )
10-Blake( T: 22, M: 73)
11-Nalbandian ( T:20 : M: 59 )

T: number of tournaments
M: number of matches played

look at the whole ranking table here:
http://www.atptennis.com/3/en/rankings/entrysystem/default.asp

*************


grendel Says:

Murray disclosed in an interview on skysports that Stepanek did not have his rackets, and also he had to lend him his socks. Commenting, Peter Fleming remarked that if Murray was joking (Rusedski was in the Murray was joking camp), he was a world class master of the deadpan. An astute comment, since whenever Muray decides humour is on the agenda, he tends to signal it with just the weeniest hint of a shy little smile. b.t.w., Murray also remarked that Stepanek had come without, or had lost, his contact lenses.


I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

First, I have to say I’m miffed as to why this time of year it’s always the big names getting injured or withdrawing. How come Nikolay Davydenko, Svetlana Kuznetsova or Elena Dementieva never withdraw? It seems to be the big stars like Nadal, Roddick, Sharapova, Serena, Andre Agassi, etc., doing the damage.
===

its because the big name players are the ones who go deep in draws and in majors all year long whereas players like daveydenko and dementieva do not, so they are fresher at end of year.


Sean Randall Says:

RG, I would like to see JW win but not much in it for Tsonga at this point, just pride I guess.

Zola, I’m talking about the big names retiring/withdrawing from the year-end events, not during the regular season.

Regarding other sports, I’d easily rate football, hockey and even basketball more demanding on the body than tennis.

Thanks for the link. It’s worth noting that around 80% of the Top 100 players get about two months off.


Sean Randall Says:

Bullies, Dementieva reached the last two slam SFs. Are you saying had she reached a final or two she would have been more likely to be injured this time of year? Don’t buy it.

And what’s Roddick’s excuse because he certainly didn’t go deep much in the bigger events.

Davydenko has played more than anybody the last three years yet he’s never missed a Masters Cup match.

Point is, for top players it’s more than just injuries, it’s the mindset. Some players like Davydenko, Dementieva and Kuzy will play like it’s their livelihood because form them it is. Take all you can, while you can. While the superstars like Serena know they can always make up for a missed opportunity down the road somewhere.


grendel Says:

Roddick’s excuse is that he fell over. Clumsy, perhaps, but hardly culpable. Twisted ankles hurt, and go on hurting for some time.
I don’t know whether football (soccer) is more demanding on the body than tennis. What I do know is that footballers tend to last longer – players in their thirties are common – I don’t know if any conclusions can be drawn from this.


Von Says:

Sean Randall:

“Some players like Davydenko, Dementieva and Kuzy will play like it’s their livelihood because form them it is. Take all you can, while you can. While the superstars like Serena know they can always make up for a missed opportunity down the road somewhere.”

You’re absolutely correct. Davydenko has always maintained that tennis is his work/job and he has to play as often as he possibly can because it’s a business. And, although there are many players who complain, I have to agree with Davydenko, it is their job and it is a business. Davy further mentioned, if he doesn’t play, he doesn’t eat, not that that’s really true, but it’s similar to those of us who are members of the proletariat, we don’t work, we don’t eat and/or pay our bills.

I still fail to understand the bri brou-hah-ha by some fans with respect to the players playing too much and/or the rationale used for their injuries. The players do have quite a bit of down time, all things considered. The real problem lies with us, the fans, who are unrealistc and make up excuses when our players become injured. Some of us want to blame all and sundry for whatever ails them, and ingnore the FACT that these injuries happen because they are athletes. Expounding on who works harder than whom is an exercise in futility, because when we look at the whole picture, had those athletes not worked harder and instead sat back on their laurels, they wouldn’t have moved up higher in the rankings. Ergo, hard work = higher rankings = fatter pay checks = glory and power. There’s always a trade-off for our choices. I’m sure if ATP were to say to the higher rankedplayers, if and when they complained about the schedule, “OK, since the season is too long for you, take a six-month (6) month sabbatical every year and rest. The players in question would be enraged, for two reasons, they’d lose their high ranking and their fat pay checks. maybe ATP should call their bluff and we’d definitely hear less of a ruckus made.

In all fairness to Roddick, he’s been trying to play catch-up for those months he’s missed/laid up due to his injury in Rome. It’s difficult trying to play, catching up with fitness and stayiong on top of thimngs after being sidelined. You’ll probably disagree with me, but that’s how i see it.


Von Says:

Roddick seems to be a bit of a clutz with his foot/ankle. He had the same problem last year and had to withdraw from Bangkok where he tripped over his foot, and the injury persisted because he had to pll out of Bercy, causing the discussion of the $20K fine. I believe that ankle is weak and with each injury it becomes weaker. He’ll definitely not cut it in Swan Lake or be a Barishnikov.


andrea Says:

well kudos to stepanek for flying right to shanghai from his holiday in thailand, borrowing raquets and socks only to face federer.

that’s commitment to the sport!


Debra Gardner Says:

Cudos to Radek. I didn’t know he was missing all his gear. I hope he didn’t have any superstitions surrounding them! I like it when he plays roger because even if roger wins in straight sets it’s not a walk in the park kind of win. I too think that especially American football is probably harder on the body than tennis. Tennis players have to play longer, but the sheer contact of american football in which in order to play you have to wear layers of protection and yet still gives you a chance to injure yourself by tripping, turning wrongly or falling, or having someone else injure you by tripping you, turning you wrongly or falling on you. Also in ice hockey, not only do you have a stik in your hand, you have to avoid getting a stick stuck in your mouth-tennis players get to keep their teeth. I think it evens out, at least when I’m thinking objectively. When I’m not and my favorite player gets injured or is sick, then the season is definitely far too long. I think as long as we insist on playing-and watching others play-sports where you twist your body in unnatural ways, we’ll have to put up with injuries of one sort or another. I was looking at that list. Rafa played _93 matches? No wonder his knee hurts!


Von Says:

Yes, Debra Gardner, I’m with you on the rigours of American football, and it being the hardest on the human body. As you aptly stated, even though they are somewhat protected by layers and layers of protective coverings, they still come out injured. Tennis pales in comparison to American Fottball, which is a “contact” sports, and contact is a mild word for what those guys have to endure. Imagine if you will, lying on the ground with ten 300 pound guys piled on top of another human being, trying to wrestle a ball from him. Not to mention the contorted positions in which they find themselves. I suppose after such an encounter, the player at the bottom of the pile, most probably, for several days thereafter, like he was hit by a mack truck. Those footballers earn big bucks but they deserve every penny for what they have to physically endure, some of them ending up being crippled.
___________
According to Michael chang, the present day tennis players are spoilt, and when we look at things objectively, they definitely are, in comparison to athletes from other sports. Tennis players are blessed to have their tournaments scheduled at and/or in the best cities of the world — ambiance galore. Additionally, they don’t have to brave the elements like the other athletes who have to play in harsh, outdoor weather conditions. Much more have a ball girl/boy bring a towel to wipe their faces and arms, etc.

Imagine Tsonga complaining of being worn out because the ball person did not get the towel to him as quickly as he wanted, and on a few occasions had to walk to the towel. I watched that match again, just to see how credible his complaint was, and his grumbling was absolutely over-blown. It was probabaly three (3) times throughout the whole match that he had to walk to the retrieve the towel from the box on which it lay. On those occasions, there wasn’t even a telegraphed action and/or signal from Tsonga to the ball person that he was desirous of receiving a towel. Talk about really pushing the pampered bit to a whole new level. Yes, Michael Chang, you’re so right, the present day players are definitely pampered/spoilt in more ways than one.


Tejuz Says:

Roger sure has to win against Murray to qualify for semis.

IF he wins, there wont be any dependency on Simon’s result and he would automatically qualify for the Semis along with Murray.

If Roger wins in 3 and Simon in 2 there total sets W-L will be

Murray 5 – 3 (qualify)
Fed 5 – 3 (qualify)
Simon 4 – 3

But if Roger loses, Simon is guaranteed a place even if he loses to Stepanek in straight sets.

So.. ALL is dependent of only one match.. Federer vs Murray. So its more like a knock-out situation for Federer, which no different from any other tournaments… plus he might have to contend with a Murray who might let his guard down cuz he is already qualified.

So.. basically Simon’s place in Semi’s is not in his(Simon’s) hands anymore… whereas Federer’s place is surely in his(Fed’s) hand.


Giner Says:

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

First, I have to say I’m miffed as to why this time of year it’s always the big names getting injured or withdrawing. How come Nikolay Davydenko, Svetlana Kuznetsova or Elena Dementieva never withdraw? It seems to be the big stars like Nadal, Roddick, Sharapova, Serena, Andre Agassi, etc., doing the damage.
===

its because the big name players are the ones who go deep in draws and in majors all year long whereas players like daveydenko and dementieva do not, so they are fresher at end of year.

——————————

You realise that the players you mentioned are high ranked? You don’t qualify for the YEC by not going deep into draws. The players named as not going deep are ranked higher than the players listed as pulling out (except Nadal). Surely there’s got to be more to this than that? Maybe they just play careful tennis, move safer, or have a game less susceptible to injury?


Lenny Says:

Thank you Von for being the voice of reason. I’m so sick and tired of the insinuations that all these injuries are suspect. Why on earth would any self respecting champion choose to withdraw from such a prestigious event??!!?? And even from the cynics point of view, they get a fat paycheck just for showing up, plus a 100G for each win – so even if that’s their only motivation why should they choose to fake an injury and miss out!!? Zola’s absolutely right – the top players go deeper, play more, and have less left in the tank physically and mentally. And she’s right when she says it’s also the style of play that’s a factor. Aren’t the naysayers being a little selfish in their rantings? Yes, it’s disappointing to see a TMC without the likes of Rafa and Roddick, but to get peevish about it and let fly with the “faking” accusations is ludicrous. Rafa’s going to fake an injury and miss DC???? Roddick’s going to fake an injury to get out of playing a less-than-perfect Federer??? Until you guys have played every other week at that level for 11 months of the year, get off the judge’s bench.


Lenny Says:

I mean, thank you Zola.


Gary Says:

Minor query.. if Fed loses to Murray in 2 and Simon loses to Stepanek in 3, then Fed, Simon and Stepanek would have a win each.

Fed 3-4
Simon 3-5
Stepanek 2-3

Would Fed go through then?


Ezorra Says:

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The Associated Press – Wed Nov 12, 8:47 pm ET

“Argentine Web campaign seeks Davis delay for Nadal”

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – It turns out that not all Argentines are happy that top-ranked Rafael Nadal won’t be playing in the Davis Cup final next week.

Tennis fan Julian Baena launched an Internet campaign at http://www.quieroganarleanadal.com – “I want to beat Nadal,” in English – urging Davis Cup officials to delay the final until Nadal recovers from knee tendinitis.

“There’s nothing more beautiful than to go down in history winning the final against the No. 1 in the world,” Baena wrote on the website. “That’s why I propose: Let’s postpone the Davis Cup final until Rafa recovers. Two weeks. A month. Whatever is necessary for him to be 100 per cent.”

A petition asking for a delay so that “we can enjoy the final we all want to see” had received nearly 13,000 signatures as of late Wednesday.
Nadal withdrew this week from Spain’s team to play Argentina, saying he needed three to six weeks to recover.

“I heard that many people, including (Alberto Mancini, Argentina captain), talked about how that was good news,” Baena wrote. “Not for me. For me it’s terrible news. I want to beat Nadal.”
His absence made Argentina the favourite to win its first Davis Cup, starting on Nov. 21 at Mar del Plata.

But Baena said a victory without facing the best player wouldn’t be as sweet: “I want to win the World Cup (football) final dancing with Brazil, Kaka and Ronaldinho. I want the same for the Davis Cup final.”

- RAFAEL NADAL … Such an impact!!!


Von Says:

http://www.justin.tv/live24s

The foregoing link will be showing the live streaming for today’s ATP TMC matches. Enjy. :P


Von Says:

http://www.justin.tv/jtv1971

Another live streaming link fot Tsonga/djokovic match.


RG Says:

Von:

I used the link you posted and caught the last part of the 3rd set.

Novak has just lost to Tsonga. Is he Tsonga’s bunny or what? I watched the latter part of the 3rd set and it was all Tsonga… Hope Novak plays better in the semis!


redux Says:

Djokovic did not need to win that match to stay in contention.
Tsonga is already out.
For what it’s worth, he raised his head-to-head vs. Novak to 3-1.
That’s a confidence builder.
Lots of interesting match-ups in this sport.

Some interesting match-ups or budding rivalries might include:

Djokovic vs. Tsonga
Federer vs. Murray
Nadal vs. Tsonga
Federer vs. Simon
Nadal vs. Nalbandian
Murray vs. Nadal
Nalbandian vs. Tsonga
Gasquet vs. himself (epic rivalry)


MMT Says:

Gary said: “Minor query.. if Fed loses to Murray in 2 and Simon loses to Stepanek in 3, then Fed, Simon and Stepanek would have a win each.”

The tournament guide says the first tie-break is H2H, so if Fed and Simon lose, Simon passes Federer on H2H, and passes Stepanek on matches played.

If Fed wins and Simon loses, Fed’s through.

If Fed and Simon both win, H2H is a 3 way tie.

If Fed wins in 2, he has more sets won than Murray or Simon (5-4).

If Fed wins in 3 he has the same record as Murray, but won H2H and on Simon, he has more sets won. Murray then has more sets won than Simon (5-4) and so Fed and Murray go through.

Even if Fed and Simon lose, Stepanek can’t go through because he has fewer matches than either Fed or Simon. His only chance was to have gone 2-0.


gulu Says:

Oh poor Tsonga! Won the match against Nole,but unfortunately just missed a win against Davydenko.Hope he could have won that and gone to the semi ! Sadly for me Rod and Jo are already out and Fed too might be out! :-( Such a stupid TMC this one !


Kimmi Says:

Tsonga ! That was a brilliant win. Its a pity that he lost the other two matches. This guy is entertaining to watch.


redux Says:

gulu, my friend, why why why give up so easily on Federer?
Let them play first.


gulu Says:

Come on Del Potro ,beat Davydenko! I don’t want him to qualify at all for the semi ! It’ll be really boring to see Davydenko-the choker playing the talented and fighting Nole in the semi ! A Nole v. Del Potro is what I am hoping for the semi !


Tejuz Says:

Gulu..
Devy wont be able to play Nole.. cuz both are in same group. He can either play Fed or Murray .. depending on who wins Fed vs Murray match.


gulu Says:

Dear redux, thanks for your response! :-o :-) I haven’t exactly given up on Fed,just not as sure of his win against Murray as I’d have liked to be,that’s all ! I think Fed’s playing at less than 50%! Yet I trust Fed more than myself to say the least !


gulu Says:

Tejuz,thanks for correcting me!


Mike gaobest Says:

I still am shocked that Radek Stepanek was the alternate – you’d think that after Simon was given the go-ahead to play, that there’d be a second alternate on schedule (and probably practice with the other players) and already there in Shanghai, ready to play if necessary. I assume that Stepanek just arrived hours or only a day before playing RFed, probably completely unpracticed but happy to play, stay at a nice hotel, enjoy high end Shanghai parties, and take a minimum $50K appearance fee. The Masters Cup archives show previous years with an extra alternate who didn’t play at all (but was still paid to be there).

When I first read about Radek being there, I almost had trouble finding him in the ATP rankings page. I’m surprised Nalbandian didn’t want to take that extra alternate position, considering that Del Potro is already there – they could have at least had some practice time together in anticipation for Davis Cup.

It’s great that Tsonga beat Djokovic again, but I bet he’d trade them all in to have won the AO!

It’ll be interesting to see Murray/Federer – just like Tsonga beating Djokovic, I can picture Murray being very thirsty for USOpen revenge.


gulu Says:

With Nicolay qualifying for the semi I am finally realizing what Rafa sitting out can do to a TMC !


Kimmi Says:

Gulu: you might not like davydenko but please give the guy some credit, its not that he is in the semi by default. He beat very good players and he deserve to be there. Conglatulation davy for qualifying and also for receiving $200,000. Good money for Xmas party.


grendel Says:

Well, Davydenko played ferocious tennis – the best of the tournament I would submit – and overwhelmed del Potro. If he can continue to play like that, he will surely win the tournament. But when it comes to the crunch, is he going to have the belief? I’d guess this torunament will be his best chance for a big win – less pressure than in a slam.


Kimmi Says:

Grendel, I did not see the match. But taking the score line davy must have played very well.

Did you see tsonga/Djokovic. Those drop volleys from tsonga were exceptional. tThis guy can play very high risk tennis and if they go in, he can beat anyone…and I mean anyone. Today was his day…it worked but I think Djoker gave up in the 3rd set.


grendel Says:

Zola

There is another way of looking at these matters. I know that you won’t like it, but it is a legitimate point of view, to be considered among others.

These tennis stars are well rewarded, both in terms of money and fame – and then money again, since their fame produces for a few of them far more loot than the actual prize money.

Tennis is, in a sense, a gladiatorial sport, and in some ways has more in common with boxing than the popular team sports. Part of its appeal lies in the gladiatorial element, which is the primary reason most people become attached to the fortunes of a particular player (I know this is not always the case, but I suspect the exceptions are rare).

And these players – warriors, in this context – have many hurdles to overcome. Among these is the sheer hard grind which the tour can represent, the risk of injury, the battle to overcome injury (including, perhaps, a revamping of a player’s style, itself a risky but deeply interesting venture).

If a player falls by the wayside, then he is like a fallen warrior. That was always the risk. You could say: it is easy for us, sitting in our armchairs, to so casually envisage catastrophe. There is something a bit ghoulish about it, I suppose, but it’s human nature, and you do well to take it into account. People, for example, who campaign to ban boxing are foolishly shortsighted, for then you just push it underground, where it becomes infinitely more ferocious and life threatening.

The rewards for someone like Nadal are immense. The risks should be commensurate. That’s how it works in life, unless you believe in ingrained privilege – an unnatural state which always causes huge resentment. Insofar as he is successful, by definition, he will be playing a great deal, more than anybody else in fact – that’s what you have to do to become #1. If he doesn’t like it, then he can step down. If he can’t handle it then – in the warrior sense – he is not good enough. Attempts to mollycoddle him are, from this perspective, actually patronising.

Needless to say, if Nadal can somehow accomodate his propensity to injury and maintain his position at the top, he will be rewarded. I don’t mean by money. I mean that his legendary status (already assured) will be enhanced immeasureably. These are very high stakes. But then, Nadal is a very remarkable sportsman.

The choice before Nadal, and people like him, is not easy. That’s why we are in the armchairs and they are not.


grendel Says:

Kimmi – yes, Tsonga’s got it all. Just hope he’s around to delight us and not the hospital nurses. Yes, I guess Djokovic saving himself – that can be the trouble with these RR matches.


Noel Says:

“With Nicolay qualifying for the semi I am finally realizing what Rafa sitting out can do to a TMC !”

Rafa can lose to each one of those players except probably JMDP/Step in Shanghai esp given that it is a reasonably quick indoor surface and that he won’t have been 100% after such a tough season for him.It is entirely conceivable that he’d have not made it to the sf or even won a single match in his group.Fed himself had a similar probability under the circumstances before he got lucky with Rod’s withdrawal.

Let us give credit where it is due.Davy may not have the nerves to play the really crunch points against the best players but he is a damn good player.Most people don’t like his expressionless personality but he has been a top-5 player for the last four years or so and he has made it to the Tmc sf by playing,arguably, at a consistently higher level than anybody else so far in this event.He played some brilliant tennis to move Tsonga from side to side(an excellent tactic against him) and it wasn’t as if Tsonga was playing badly.I could only watch the final set of the Nole match and Nole definitely had to serve very well to keep Davy at bay.By all accounts,Davy was the better player for most of the first two sets. It was a tennis clinic for Jmdp today who didn’t do much wrong and still didn’t know what to do to outwit Davy in the baseline exchanges.It was a delight to see Davy display groundies of the highest quality against a pretty powerful player and one who can play some groundies himself.All this despite serving only around 55% first serves!He always reminds me of Agassi in terms of his relentlessly aggressive hitting and the high-risk approach of taking the ball early.He doesn’t have crushing power but I don’t think I have seen many players who can generate such extreme angles not only on the fh side but on the bh side as well….Davy deserves his place in the sf.

I also expected Tsonga and Nole to make it to the sf but Tsonga was just a wee bit unfortunate to run into players who happened to play at a high level on the day in their matches against him.In any case,he himself wasn’t able to play as well as he can for some reason and must rue the fact that he couldn’t lift himself in the breakers against Jmdp.That breaker against Davy was a bit of a disaster for him.


gulu Says:

Kimmi,I’m ready 2 give due credit 2 Nicolay ! There was a time I enjoyed his quality of play,but then I saw him playing well throughout a match but falter at the most vital moment ! That’s why I lost respect for him! He’d choke at the right time !


jane Says:

I’m happy for Davy; he’s not a fave, but it’s nice to see the vets move on to the semis. I am going to watch the matches in tape delay in 2 hours. I am happy that Tsonga won’t leave having not won a match, but also disappointed that he seems to have Nole’s number. In both their last two meet ups, there have been dominant sets by both players and one close one. The close one is the clincher obviously. Nole needs a better, or at least a more consistent serve. I really will be surprised if he defends his AO title. Tsonga, Murray, and of course Rafa and Fed will all be huge threats to him there and he’s bound to run into at least a couple of them.

Anyhow, will reserve more comment until I see the matches.

So who will play Murray — Djoko or Davy? Do we know that yet? And will the other player from Gold play either Simon or Fed?


jane Says:

grendel,

Are you saying you think Djoko lost to Tsonga deliberately, or didn’t try in the 3rd? I’ll have to watch for that when I view the match later. Seems surprising he’d lose deliberately; I’d assume he’d want to level the H2H against Tsonga, not let Jo pull out ahead?


gulu Says:

Noel,of course I agree that Davy’s a damn good player ! He’s ferocious enough ,but he’s not got the stuff that champs are made of ! However despite disliking Davy I bet I was happier then all of you when I saw him beating Rafa,Rod etc to win Miami 2008 !


gulu Says:

It’s not the nature of Nole to hand the win over to his rival,least of all to Tsonga ! Of course Jo must have played better than him to beat him and he’s in fact perfectly capabl of beating Nole irrespective of how he plays (and vice versa).


gulu Says:

Bye bye dear Tsonga! You were just a bit unlucky to miss the semi,but better luck next time and see you back at Australian Open where I hope you will come with all guns blazing ! :-)


gulu Says:

gulu is a paradox! ;-)


jane Says:

gulu, I agree; Tsonga’s perfectly capable of beating anyone! He’s a fantastic talent. But Kimmi’s and grendel’s posts implied that Nole gave up in the 3rd set, stopped trying, so I was just wondering. Only one hour till tape delays, so can see what’s up then.

Glad you’re conceding that Davy’s a great player; he may not be the most sparkling player/personality, but his tennis sure sparkles at times. Some of the rallies between him and Djoko the other day were a treat.

Besides which, the way I see it, these younger guys will have more opportunities to win here. Likely Tsonga and JMDP are both future slam winners, yet Davy has never mustered up the courage, desire, gumption, whatever, to win one. So it’s nice to see him do well.


Noel Says:

Hi Jane,
I watched that Nole-Tsonga match and the second set was a high-quality affair but once Nole fell behind a lot in the third,I think I got a feeling that he wasn’t really interested much in the outcome thereafter even though the small matter of 1000 points and $100K was at stake.I could be wrong here because he has the big advantage of a day’s rest before his sf.
As for his sf opponent,it could be Simon-which appears the most likely under the circumstances- or Murray which is highly unlikely.If Fed wins his match against Murray,he will not only qualify for the sf but also top his group and will,therefore,meet Davy while Murray plays Nole.If Fed loses his match,Murray will top the group and play Davy while Simon takes on Nole in the other sf.Simon’s result vs Step has no bearing on the situation.

As for Nole’s level,I actually think it has been very encouraging.Not at his best but been able to raise the level when he needed to vs JMDP and Davy.I wonder how much can we read about today’s match given the circumstances.As I said,the second set had some outstanding tennis and Nole played his part. Tsonga played very well after that poor first set.As usual,he made the toughest of volleys appear ridiculously easy.I just love his game when it is on…..no real worries w.r.t. Nole as far as I can see.He served some second serve aces too and seems to be enjoying his tennis again.I also don’t think he gets too upset after losing to Tsonga and they have some genuine warmth for each other if I were to go by their post-match greetings/embraces at the net in their last three meetings.

Btw,thanks for the very kind words on the other thread.I actually wrote a small note the same day to you inside a post addressed to Giner on the ‘Federer bumped…” thread and that is why I didn’t respond to your kind post on the other thread.The apparent uncouthness was inadvertent. :)


Noel Says:

I meant 100 points and not 1000.Sorry for the extra zero.


jane Says:

Noel,

Hi – no worries; I sincerely mean the words. I love your posts! And no uncouthness perceived.

I agree with you here: “I also don’t think he gets too upset after losing to Tsonga and they have some genuine warmth for each other if I were to go by their post-match greetings/embraces at the net in their last three meetings.”

There does seem to be something friendly between these two – maybe because they both broke through to their first slam final together, and it was a great one. I think they respect each other’s games.

Thanks for the comments on Novak’s level; I will watch the match soon and can see for myself. I hope he stays at least in the top five for the next couple of years. Along with Murray and maybe Tsonga. Probably Rafa and Fed. Then there’s Roddick, Davy, JMDP, Simon. Sheesh I’ve all but set the top 10 spots, but I’ll reserve one for a Safin resurrection – haha!!


MMT Says:

Djokovic’s first GS final was US0’07, but your point is well taken – they do seem to respect each other. I hope Tsonga sticks around for a long time, and would love to see him win the AO’09, but that’s a tall order for someone so inexperienced and (at times) inconsistent.

He may have the game to also win the French one day, but I don’t think he footwork is good enough for that right now – he really needs to learn to take little steps into and out of his shots (like Connors – best footwork in history).

Djokovic is, in my opinion, here to stay. I think his “injuries” are primarily imagined, and he’ll bulk up a bit and have the confidence to tough it out from now on. Also, he may have thought of himself as a “young” player, and probably threw in the towel a bit too easily up to now, but that’s going to change as he gets older and yesterdays begin to outnumber tomorrows.


jane Says:

Of course it was MMT – Doh! Major mind blank there. Thanks for re-minding me.


gulu Says:

Of course Jane, it’s a joy to watch Davy playing well,but it’s a torture to see him gift the match away to his rival! And as far as his personality goes, satisfies me more than most of the other guys !


jane Says:

True gulu – he can pull some awful jokes. But in this match today with DelPorto, which I am currently viewing, he’s certainly not gifting anything. His serve is definitely not one of his strong points though.


jane Says:

Oops – jokes should be chokes!


grendel Says:

Jane – nothing so black and white. Do you think someone has a choice in how hard they try? It seems, on the face of it, obvious that they do – but I would deny it is that simple. Circumstances dictate the situation. Djokovic is a professional, and will have done his best. All I am saying is, if something really important – such as his place in the semis – depended on the result, the adrenalin (which cannot be summoned) would automatically be flowing, and he would be playing that much harder. That doesn’t mean to say he wasn’t giving of his best. But one’s best on one day may be very different from one’s best on another day. That is true in life generally, isn’t it, not just tennis. The Round Robin Format has its advantages – it’s an agreeable change from straight knockout; but it also has its built in disadvantages. Not much you can do about it.


jane Says:

Thanks for the reply grendel; TSN has opted not to air that match so I won’t get to see for myself after all. But you’re right that these things below the surface impact, always, how we perform -or what is the “best” – from one day to the next. Players must constantly be weighing these things up, whether speaking them outwardly, like Murray has done about the meanings and implications of his next match with Fed, or just keeping them inside and seeing the results on the court.


Von Says:

redux:

“Gasquet vs. himself (epic rivalry.”

I’m going to use your own words back to you “you so silleh.” :P I thought your Gasquet rivalry is indeed an epic one.
______________

RG:

I’m happy to know that you were able to at least see the last set of the Tsonga/Djokovic match. Tsonga’s game matches up well to Novak’s and I think theirs will be an interesting revalry.
______________

With respect to the deliberations concerning Davydenko and his style of play, I’d have to say Davydenko, while not a flambuoyant and self-imposing player, is a very complete player. He’s not a Tsonga or a Nadal, whereby he adds flair to his on-court movements by jumping around, or adding finesse to a volley or an overhead smash, but he nevertheless gets the job done. People are always bowled over by spectacular shots from a player which catches the eyes and sends the senses reeling, and that’s what takes root in our minds as one player being more charismatic than the other or perceived to be a better player and/or genius. Who said tennis had to be played like that? It’s lovely to watch, but as long as the shot selection is flawless and executed correctly and effectively, the end result is what’s important. For me, Dabvydenko is a complete player who goes about his business with the least fuss and muss as he dispatches his opposition, hence a match win.

I suppose it’s correct to assume that DelPotro and Simon have both lost their sparkle for this season, and it would be interesting to see how effective they will be in ’09.


zola Says:

Lenny
Thanks a lot to you too!. :)

Grendel,
Yes, that’s a very different approach. You are saying they are getting paid well and this is the price they have to pay. get injured!

Well, if that is fine with you, it is OK. But it is not fine with me. But if you look at your own logic, then the suggestion to cut the season short is on the same line. They will play less, get paid less? what about that?

Up to now I have read Roddick, Rafa, fed and Blake complain about the long season. I think if that is what the players want, it should be that way. I don’t want to see players get injured and retire at 25. I want to see them play in their thirties. The ATP tour is just based on money and if that what all they care about, this is the consequence they will see. More injuries and more withdrawls and more angry organizers and ticket buyers.

The human body has a limit. We can’t expect the players to go jump off a cliff or play two master series back to back because they get paid for it.


grendel Says:

Sorry, Zola, don’t buy it. These huge, pampered stars have made a deal with Mammon. Now they gotta live with the consequences. You’re being a bit melodramatic about retiring at 25. One or two may be forced to – sad, but that’s how it goes. If that was to become universal, then of course evrything would change. But there’s no evidence at all of anything like this.

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