Davenport Done? Federer, Nadal Begin 2009 in Abu Dhabi
by Sean Randall | December 31st, 2008
  • 26 Comments

After digging around, this really has been a rather quiet, holiday off-season in the tennis world. No major injuries, coaching changes or even retirements to speak of. But fortunately it’s not completely without a modicum of news.

Top of the list goes to three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport announcing that she is pregnant with child No. 2. Davenport had entered the Australian Open, but since learning she’ll be eating for two again she’s pulled out of Melbourne as well and her playing days are “on hold” for now. My guess is that’s it for Lindsay. We’ll see her in the Hall of Fame in the summer of 2013…

Sticking to women’s tennis, Maria Sharapova has just withdrawn from the Jan 7 Hong Kong exo, and that’s not good news for Sharapova fans. Maria has been on the sideline since the summer with a rotator cuff injury in her right shoulder. My guess is if it’s not good to go for the HK exo, she’s not going to defend her Australian Open title. Shoulder injuries in tennis are real, real nasty, especially when they are not allowed to fully heal…

Speaking of injuries, just how bad are Rafael Nadal’s knees? Last we saw of the Spanish Bull, Rafa was pulling out of tournaments and skipping Davis Cup final after suffering yet another flare-up of knee tendinitis. Well, apparently he’s now doing much better. So much so that’s he’s starting his Australian Open prep early, and cashing in no doubt!

Rafa and a bunch of other top players who incessantly complain about the season’s length have decided to cut their off-season short to play an exo starting tomorrow in Abu Dhabi. The other entrants include Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray, Nikolay Davydeko and James Blake who will all fight it out in a three-day event with $250,000 going to the winner and God knows just how much just making the trip over. Ah, the unmistakable smell that is Middle Eastern cash.

And naturally, if you are in the area (Middle East that is), why not stick around and play another event, like Doha? And sure enough the Qatari capital will host a stellar field next week which includes Nadal, Roddick, Federer and Murray. And here we thought that a month ago Rafa really needed to cut down his hardcourt schedule. Oh well…

As for the exo, my feeling remains that if you want to get the cash, by all means go for it (especially in this economy!), but then don’t turn around complain about the schedule being too long. Enough already. (By the way, Novak Djokovic will be playing in Brisbane next week.)…

Federer was also battling his own injuries at the close of 2008 season. Fed we recall was hampered by a back injury, but now is apparently 100% healthy and mono-free. And yes, Fed’s still with Mirka, still coach-less and still spending a lot of time in Dubai hitting with lefties like Jesse Levine…

Here stateside, wasn’t much going on during the Holidays in tennis. Through a wildcard exchange program, big John Isner and Christina McHale earned wildcards last week into the Australian Open. In a round-robin format event for the card, it was Isner coming out on top (pun intended) over Wayne Odesnik, Jesse Levine and The Donald, Donald Young…

Andy Murray seems to really be into training. Nice to see the rest of “Team Murray” also getting into the act. But let’s hope Andy and his crew are mindful of not overdoing it.…

Strange if not startling news from the Andre Agassi camp. Agassi’s former manager (and friend) Perry Rogers is suing Steffi Graf! Pretty incredible…

The global economic crisis has been huge news here in the U.S. and some sports are taking it on the chin. The long-running Arena Football league suspended its 2009 season and the champion Houston Comets of the WNBA had to fold among other stories. No doubt more setbacks in the sporting world will come due during this downturn and that includes tennis. Not much has been reported thus far but I bet we’ll see a few tournaments go under and perhaps lesser prize money down the road. Who knows…

If you haven’t noticed (hard not to!) the ATP – or whatever they call themselves now – has redesigned their website. Honestly, if I wanted to go to the NASA space website I’d just type in N-A-S-A. I wouldn’t type in ATPtennis. But that’s what they’ve done with their new “World” or “Feel It” motif, and I think they’ve taken it a bit too far. With all the celestial imagery of the stars and globe I half expected to see Luke Skywalker flying around his X-Wing in the background of the tournament schedule, or have the Battlestar Gallactica hovering on the player profiles page. Hell, why not just stick an image of Darth Vader (Darth Federer anyone?) on Fed’s page, or stream HAL 9000’s voice on the rankings page?…

And of course the ATP is no longer the ATP, but now officially the ATP World Tour complete with a new logo(s), new ranking points and new names for tournaments. It seems every few years the men’s circuit has to re-invent itself with an image and marketing facelift, and for what I don’t know (though they usually say it’s in the name “making the sport easier to follow” – ha!). Not to fear though, once the new ATP CEO gets into office I’m sure he’ll vomit up his own new scheme and we’ll have yet another change.

Perhaps it’s different overseas, but here in the U.S. I just don’t see a lot of successful sports leagues or even top companies changing their name and logos every 3-4 years. But then again that’s tennis for you, and the year hasn’t even started!

Have a safe and happy New Year everyone!


Also Check Out:
Rafael Nadal Sets Return To Tennis At… Abu Dhabi?
Davenport WTA Tour Comeback in the Works
Novak Djokovic: My Injuries Are In The Past, I Am Fully Recovered Physically and Mentally
Davenport In, Williams Pass On U.S. Fed Cup Semis at Russia
Stomach Virus Forces Rafael Nadal Out Of Abu Dhabi

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26 Comments for Davenport Done? Federer, Nadal Begin 2009 in Abu Dhabi

Omiyageh Says:

will they be back before Australian open starts?


Von Says:

http://www.justin.tv/lotfitv4

FYI — Abu Dhabi exho match is being shown live on the above link. A-Rod v. Davydenko are playing and A-rod just got broken. Not good .


Biplob Kishore Deb Says:

I am eagerly looking forward to see some more Federer vs Nadal duel like last year’s epic Wimbledon final. Along with Djokovic, Murray would also make serious bite on the dominance of Federer and Nadal in tennis world. It would be good to see Murray making history by winning his first grand slam title, becoming first British to win a grand slam title since Fred Perry.


Kimmi Says:

Thanks Von. I will try the link tomorrow. I missed the timing today.


jane Says:

Interesting that Federer & Nadal will have to face their semi-nemeses right off the bat this year at the Middle East exo – Federer vs. Murray and Rafa vs. Davy. May have to tune in and watch those matches.


Ground Control to ATP Says:

That website design is absolutely brutal.


Sidmore Says:

Why are you so negative? And yes the tennis season is TOO LONG. There is no other professional sport that has a longer season. It is grueling for the players. And yes they should be able to play tennis for FUN like an exhibition. Their whole lives should not be ATP. I just wish they would get a player’s union like the NFL players have and they wouldn’t have to put up with the bull%$#@ the ATP pulls.


Mark Says:

Great paragraph describing the ATP website redesign. The old site was way too clean and easy to navigate.


RiCH Says:

I beg to differ with you Sean. The tennis off-season has actually been pretty busy with tons of off-court news and a few on-court stories as well. But I guess it all depends on what you decide to cover!

I always find the off-season one of the busiest in terms of finding out what the ballers are doing during their vacations, training and prep for the next season, relationships, etc.


Susanna Says:

There is no doubt the season is too long. The circuit is crazy and detrimental to the longevity of the players careers and their health.
They have no choice in this. However, they can’t be expected to come into the AO cold. Jeez.
They need to be match ready for the first slam in a few weeks–why are you slamming the players that have given so much?
oh and btw Vamos Rafa #1!!!


Andrew Miller Says:

My hunch: Federer uses the exhibition to scout out his opponents in preparation for the Australian Open. Maybe they beat him a few times…Andy Roddick once upon a time beat Federer and won the Kooyong Classic, which, by the way, is an exhibition. He then played Federer in a practice match at the Austaralian Open and, again, beat him. Feeling pretty confident with an exhibition and practice match win over the former #1, as well as a recent, well-played Connors in his coaching box 4 set loss to Federer at the U.S. Open in 2006 and holding a couple of match points against him in a round robin Shangai match, he went into his semifinal ready to tune Federer, for once (or twice, since he had also beaten the Mighty Federer in Canada in 2003) and for all.

As you remember…it was a humiliating loss for Roddick, and one of Federer’s most dominating wins of all time.

Since that moment, Roddick has beaten Federer and plays his heart out, every time out, against no matter who. But, this is not about Roddick – I am pointing out that Federer does not show all of his tricks in exhibitions – he usually just does enough to stay competitive and scout opponents, who are, or were, momentarily stunned to win any kind of match against him.

Granted, 2009 is up for grabs, and with three grand slam finals, one grand slam semifinal, a us open grand slam win, and basically the worst year he’s had since 2002, Roger Federer is not the same as he was cerca 2004, 2005, 2006 or 2007 – he is somewhat less good (which is still better than most with the exception of a handfull and some stellar efforts by a handfull of others). His worst year is better than all but two. But I would not make the mistake of underestimating Federer: he is a pretty mental opponent. He has shown the ability to find a way to either win or come close.


Giner Says:

“Rafa and a bunch of other top players who incessantly complain about the season’s length have decided to cut their off-season short to play an exo starting tomorrow in Abu Dhabi. The other entrants include Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray, Nikolay Davydeko and James Blake who will all fight it out in a three-day event with $250,000 going to the winner and God knows just how much just making the trip over. Ah, the unmistakable smell that is Middle Eastern cash.”

The knee should be better by now. He has rested since Paris.

Just so you know Sean, Rafa is always playing in Chennai in the first week of the year, so he is not starting any earlier than he normally does. There’s only room for 2 weeks of tournaments before AO begins, so even though the season is long, you have to make the choice between reducing your schedule, or getting match practice before a major. It’s a good idea to get some match practice.. If the AO was in Feb, he probably wouldn’t bother playing this early.

He’s going to lose some ranking points because he had finals points to defend in Chennai.

Federer is not playing a tour level tournament, so Djokovic can play anywhere and gain the 10+ points needed to unseat Federer at #2.

“And naturally, if you are in the area (Middle East that is), why not stick around and play another event, like Doha? And sure enough the Qatari capital will host a stellar field next week which includes Nadal, Roddick, Federer and Murray. And here we thought that a month ago Rafa really needed to cut down his hardcourt schedule. Oh well…”

Cutting down on the schedule doesn’t mean taking a week off any time you can.. it’s about placing your off time strategically. When you’ve had 2 months off in a row, an extra week off isn’t going to make a difference. It’s more important to get weeks off when you need them, which would be in between long stretches of tournaments or in between big tournaments. Instead of playing 5 weeks in a row then resting 5 weeks in a row, how about playing 2, resting 2, playing 2, resting 2, and so on? That’s more helpful than simply extending your annual off season when you aren’t tired yet.

“As for the exo, my feeling remains that if you want to get the cash, by all means go for it (especially in this economy!), but then don’t turn around complain about the schedule being too long. Enough already. (By the way, Novak Djokovic will be playing in Brisbane next week.)…”

Since he played Hopman Cup (an exo) last year, he will have no points to defend. He pretty much only has to win one match in Brissy to become 2nd seed at AO. When was the last time Federer was 3 in the world? 2003..

“Federer was also battling his own injuries at the close of 2008 season. Fed we recall was hampered by a back injury, but now is apparently 100% healthy and mono-free. And yes, Fed’s still with Mirka, still coach-less and still spending a lot of time in Dubai hitting with lefties like Jesse Levine…”

We’ll see if he’s healthy when he’s put to the test. The exo is a great place to test yourself because you’re up against top competition, and if it’s a round robin format (he always enters Kooyong) then you’re guaranteed 3 matches.

Yes the season is long and players complain about that. But you don’t seriously think it’s wise to go into the first GS of the year without any matches under your belt do you?

“And of course the ATP is no longer the ATP, but now officially the ATP World Tour complete with a new logo(s), new ranking points and new names for tournaments. It seems every few years the men’s circuit has to re-invent itself with an image and marketing facelift, and for what I don’t know (though they usually say it’s in the name “making the sport easier to follow” – ha!). Not to fear though, once the new ATP CEO gets into office I’m sure he’ll vomit up his own new scheme and we’ll have yet another change.”

It will take some time getting used to the new naming.. 250, 500, 1000. I also read that GS are worth 2000 now for a winner, but those who won last year’s slams only get 1000. Another change is that the runner up only gets 1200 points now (last year’s equivalent would have been 1400). Winning 6 out of 7 matches should only be worth just over half what a champion makes? How’s that for fair..


Giner Says:

“Why are you so negative? And yes the tennis season is TOO LONG.”

Don’t mind him. Sean isn’t always this cynical. We haven’t had much to talk about yet so he’s just trying to make things interesting.


Giner Says:

Andy Murray rattles Roger Federer in three sets

ANDY Murray Australian Open hopes have been bolstered after he beat Roger Federer in the Capitala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi. Scotsman Murray prevailed against the former world number one in the exhibition event’s semi-finals 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6).

The world number four will now meet top-ranked player in the world Rafael Nadal in the final after the Spaniard’s explosive powerplay saw off Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 6-3.

The winner of the Nadal-Murray final takes home the entire purse of $US250,000 ($A355,000) in the shootout tournament.

“It’s always a challenge playing Roger. I’ve got the better of him on a few occasions, but in the big one we played, at the US Open final, he beat me pretty badly,” said Murray.

“Hopefully, I’ll get him in a Grand Slam one day.

“It will be nice to become the number one player in the world, but my aim for 2009 is to win a Grand Slam event, and I feel the Australian Open is my best chance.”

Nadal also revealed his ambitions for 2009, saying: “The aim really is to be a better player than I was last year and to keep improving.

“Obviously, I like the position I am in right now and would like to keep it this way as long as possible.”

“I have been working hard on my game lately even though I haven’t been playing competitive tennis for the past two months or so.

I was delighted with the way I played today and am looking forward to the rest of the season.”

——————-

Andy Murray claims Roger Federer’s scalp again

All that Abu Dhabi saw of Roger Federer doing what he does better than most was a fleeting hour and 50 minutes before he was packing his bags. Today, the third day in succession, Andy Murray will be the centre of attention and it is unlikely to be the last time he basks in such limelight.

Federer was booked to appear in the Capitala World Championship – a slightly exaggerated title for a three-day shindig – on the premise that he would play at least twice and not have to high-tail it to Qatar until Sunday evening. Instead, the world No2 will reach his first port of call on the 2009 ATP Tour earlier than planned, courtesy of a third consecutive defeat by someone who is starting to become a real pain to him. Although this result will not appear in the record books – exhibitions are not considered real tennis – the outcome matters psychologically and, there, Murray is developing a distinct head of steam.

Beating Federer any time, anywhere is a considerable trophy and Murray having done so in each of the past three matches after dropping the first set, underscores the merits. There was much to admire about both men yesterday – their approach, application and shot-making was full of class – especially the way Murray responded in the third-set tie-break. Who would want to face him in one of those? Not even Rafael Nadal, the world No1, whose first match in nine weeks was a notable triumph, a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Nikolay Davydenko that set up the Wimbledon champion for today’s final against the Scot.

Murray’s margin of victory was 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 and, although he is quick to remember the sour taste left by his straight-sets drubbing in the US Open Final in September – “he beat me pretty bad,” he said – an end-of-year flourish that included two wins over the Swiss, in the Madrid Masters and the Masters Cup in Shanghai, are memories on which he loves to draw.

Early on in the piece yesterday, the 13-times grand-slam champion decided that attack was the best form of defence, net-rushing, volleying and crowding for all he was worth, but it takes a brave man to sustain that strategy, even in what was little more than a glorified practice session.

Federer did not look particularly confident despite winning the first set and, indeed, Murray ran off ten of the next 13 games and might have won a good deal more handily had he not whiffed at a lob when having a point to lead 5-1 in the third set. Murray went for an exaggerated leap, but left the floor a good three seconds too early and the ball floatedly embarrassingly over his head.

Federer drew inspiration from that lapse, won four games in a row and threatened to take his place in the final, but Murray was not ready to relinquish his chance of the £170,000 winner-takes-all cheque. “Andy had a fantastic end to last year and I hope for another terrible year with only one grand-slam title, that will be fine for me,” Federer said later, as if expecting an early-season inquiry like so many that laced his progress through 2008.

Murray insisted that, as part of his preparation for the Australian Open, which starts on January 19, this was simply a matter of “steady as he goes”. One man sees a lot more to it than that. John Newcombe, the 64-year-old seven-times grand-slam champion, believes Murray is the man to beat in Melbourne. “He got to No4 in the world, but the way he was playing at the end of the year, in 12 months’ time you think he’ll be close to No1,” the Australian said.

“How will Nadal’s injuries stand up? And [Novak] Djokovic, let’s see how he handles the nerves when he’s defending his title. I’m sure Federer has been doing very serious training and realises he has to come up with something a bit extra. The way they finished last year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Murray as the guy that will step up and win.”


Colin Says:

I remember Newcombe. A fine player, but in the big finals he’d find himself up against Laver, and that was just too much. Hope he’s right about Murray, though.
Even though Fed doesn’t give his all in exhibitions, he can’t actually be pleased that Murray beats him so frequently. Today (in under an hour)we’ll see what Murray can make of Nadal, who most certainly doesn’t like to lose, ever.


Colin Says:

Well, Murray did it again. Exhibition or not, there was some fine tennis and a lot of effort in that match. Andy’s 250 thou richer, which can’t be bad these days!


sensationalsafin Says:

Federer and Nadal are playing in Qatar this week, a tour level event. Nadal might gain points should he win the title. Federer and Djokovic have the potential to gain 250 so whoever loses first will be number 3. Pretty exciting considering they’re on 2 different continents.


Sean Randall Says:

Colin, thanks for update. I didn’t follow the exo at all. Frankly, these type of events just amount to a cash grab and practice sets. Hard to read into anything beyond that. (Andrew rightfully points out that Roddick-Fed match from Kooyang as evidence.)

Giner, sure guys need to have some practice prior to a Slam, but i just don’t like them going for an “extra” exo and then hear them whine come November that the season is too long. That means you James Blake!

Novak’s really got to be feeling the rankings heat with the Australian Open title to defend. Fortunately he got the Shanghai win, and now I can’t blame him for trying to pick up points where he can. He’ll need them.

Federer is playing Doha so he can pad his #2 lead over Novak assuming that’s of any importance to him right now.

I’ll have to check out this new point allocations.


Daniel Says:

Giner, Fed will play Doha while Djoko plays Brisbanee. If Fed loses earlier then Djoko, then Djoko will be n. 2, if both perform the same the rankings won’t shift.


gulu Says:

The biggest worry for the Fed fans like me’s that Murray beat Fed at Capitala in spite of being injured and today he beats Nadal, some say Murray was looking a bit tired too !! Still he outran Rafa? Probably nothing to cheer about for Murray’s rivals.


sensationalsafin Says:

Murray always looks tired, I think he does it to psyche out his opponents. I’m not worried about Federer. He looked like he didn’t care to win the tiebreaker so he has plenty of gears he can access.


grendel Says:

Sean says:”I didn’t follow the exo at all. Frankly, these type of events just amount to a cash grab and practice sets”. Well, perhaps you should have followed the exo before pontificating. Your remark is just dogmatic. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong – but you are just not in a position to hold an opinion about the specific match.

Maybe the intentions of players, upon entering the exhibitions, are less than wholehearted. But meanwhile, they are human beings, not robots following some religious edict. (Thou shalt not, under any circumstances, commit thyself body and soul to the forthcoming exhibition. Any player observed exerting himself unduly shall earn the wrath of great Zib, our holy prophet).

Does it not occur to you that some players (not all) – get caught up in the spirit of the thing, because they are just ultra competitive beasts, and cannot help themselves – Zib or no Zib. And in particular, Murray and Nadal are. Either these guys were fighting, and fighting like hell, in the third set – and in the process coming up with some astonishing tennis, or they are just tremendous actors.

I see no reason at all to suppose the latter. There is another possibility, of course. I am just a naive fool who can’t see what’s in front of his eyes. Well, maybe. Here’s to naive foolery, then. It was productive of much wonder this afternoon.


Colin Says:

sensationalsafin, you’re right. Murray does always look tired. I think part of the reason is he always has his mouth open, rather than breathing through his nose.
This was a very entertaining match, with both players coming to the net quite frequently by present-day standards, and doing it effectively. Also, it was played in a nice spirit, as they know each other quite well.


gulu Says:

I’m not as much worried about Fed as you may think, Fed’s far from over to say the least ! Fed’s also determined to do as well as he can, he still has some great wins in store for him in the future ! I’m not a freak !


gulu Says:

Hi sensationalsafin, do you have coz guess about 2009 Oz Open champ ? I’m failin to make any guess.


gulu Says:

Hi sensationalsafin, do you have any guess about 2009 Oz Open champ ? I’m failin to make any guess.

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