Historical Maneuvering: Rafa and Serena Claim the 1st Big Prize of 2009
by Dan Martin | February 2nd, 2009, 9:34 am
  • 136 Comments

I could have entitled this column: If a Major Title is Won and No One in the United States is Awake to See it, Did it Have Implications?


Obviously, yes is the answer to my own question. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer may have walked onto court at 3:30 AM EST and not had the television audience they enjoyed stateside for their Wimbledon and French Open finals, but this match meant a lot. A win would have given Roger 2 straight Slams and a tie with Pete Sampras’ 14 major titles. Roger now has to wait and see when the next window of opportunity for tying that record presents itself. If Murray can regroup that wait might be a bit longer than Roger would like as he could have two nemeses on tour. Still, Roger has as good of a shot as anyone at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year.

3 Surface Spaniard

This is however not about Roger Federer. Rafael Nadal joined Jimmy Connors, Mats Wilander and Andre Agassi as the only men to win majors on three different surfaces. Connors won on grass at the 1974 U.S. and Australian Opens in addition to his 1974 and 1982 Wimbledon titles. Connors picked up a major on green clay at the U.S. Open in 1976 and won 3 hard court U.S. Open titles in 1978, 1982, and 1983. Wilander won the French Open on clay in 1982, 1985 and 1988. He won the Australian Open on grass in 1983 and 1984. In 1998, he took the U.S. and Australian Open titles on hard courts. Agassi won Wimbledon in 1992 and the French Open in 1999 to get the grass clay double. His 1994 and 1999 U.S. Open titles along with his 1995, 2000, 2001, and 2003 Australian Open titles came on hard courts. Nadal has won the French Open 4 times in a row. His 2008 Wimbledon title and 2009 Australian Open title add grass and hard courts to the surfaces he has conquered. This is elite company. My gut says he surpasses Agassi, Connors, and Wilander in total Grand Slam titles. I think a case can be made that he has already accomplished more than Wilander. Fellow six time slam winners Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker both trail Nadal in total accomplishments in my unofficial judgment.

Who Remembers the Injury Filled End to 2008?

Clearly this win boosts Rafa’s historical standing at a time when he looked vulnerable. His finish to 2008 left me wondering what his legs had left and how much strain his body has absorbed at such a young age. I did not think Rafa’s clay court game was in danger at the end of 2008, but I also did not expect him to win a hard court major coming off of an injury plagued end to last season. No one can pencil someone in to win the French Open, injuries, illness, banana choking and a potentially zoned opponent could always stop Rafa’s quest for a 5th straight French Open, but one has to think Nadal is going to enter Wimbledon half way to a calendar year Grand Slam.

Serena is Queen of a Strugling Sport

Women’s tennis is a mess. Injuries and early retirements have drained some of the top talent. Indifferent and nerve filled tennis has kept some players from performing consistently well. Ana Ivanovic came out the 2008 French Open looking like the new face of women’s tennis. Instead she has flopped wose than Waterworld did. The Williams Sisters have at times looked like part time players. Jelena Jankovic seems to be preoccupied with gaining fame when adding strength would be aadvised. Many Russian players seem to have serves against which a weekend hacker could chip and charge. Yes, the product has never been worse. I was never a fan of seeing the top 2 women meet in the final round of 80% of the biggest events, but at least excellence was found in those rivalries. Now, consistent excellence is like a mirage. Dinara Safina looked great in the 2008 hard court summer season, but the dream of a dominating aggressive player emerging on the WTA tour died when nerves, fatigue and Serena Williams stood in her way.

Serena Williams is the current measure on the women’s tour. She has tallied a 20-1 record in her past three Grand Slam events with her only loss coming against a 5 time Wimbledon champion. As much as tennis fans can look at Serena’s career and wonder what might have been, 10 Grand Slam singles titles is a nice haul. She should add more hardware this season. Like Nadal, Serena has a reasonable shot at a single season Grand Slam sweep. Serena’s recent success in doubles is also only adding to her standing.

A Lot in Store for 2009

2009 is a long tennis year and many players could change the shape of the men’s tour. The women’s game can hope Serena takes the tour by the horns while some younger players emerge. Nadal may find a new pressure of being the obvious person everyone is gunning for, but I get the sense he welcomes that pressure. The next big tests for Nadal are in North America, but having pocketed the 1st slam of the year he can really be the free and clear top dog at least through the end of the French Open. There I anticipate a 5th consecutive title, but also a tougher road to the title than in 2008. Time is the one opponent no champion can overcome in the long run, but clearly Nadal’s time is now.


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136 Comments for Historical Maneuvering: Rafa and Serena Claim the 1st Big Prize of 2009

Giner Says:

“If Murray can regroup that wait might be a bit longer than Roger would like as he could have two nemeses on tour.”

In my opinion, he already has three. And none of the three are afraid of him. There was a time when he had an aura of invincibility and people didn’t believe they could beat him. They were afraid of playing him. He doesn’t have that now. I don’t think Nadal has it either by the way except on clay.

“3 Surface Spaniard”

He used to be called a clay court specialist, but I’m not sure if anyone can rightfully call him that anymore now that he has done what Federer’s other hard court opponents couldn’t — beat him in a final. The difference between Nadal and the 8 beaten finalists that Roger killed is that Nadal is a lefty and his two fisted backhand handles Roger’s forehand better than Roger’s single handed backhand can handle Nadal’s heavy lefty forehand.

Nadal progressed through the AO under the radar. He was not favourite to win it, because all eyes were on Murray, Federer and Djokovic. I think Nadal prefers it that way because it takes the pressure off him, and the fact that people doubted his ability to win on grass and hard court the past few years has helped him because he didn’t have to carry the weight of expectation. Even after this win, he’s still not going to face the expectations and pressure that the other 3 normally get. He doesn’t win on sheer talent but through hard work.

Djokovic is a more talented player than Nadal but his work ethic doesn’t compare to Nadal’s. And he lacks heart. Has he ever come back from behind to win in 5, or come back from 4-0 or 5-1 in a decider? Has he saved match points and gone on to win the match? Played through pain and gutted out a win? My guess is rarely.

Another interesting AO stat is that the ‘Kooyong connection’ for Federer has continued. Whenever Federer loses at Kooyong, he goes on to win the title in Melbourne (twice destroying the guy who beat him earlier). But when he doesn’t lose (i.e. wins the title) in Kooyong, he loses in Melbourne. In 07 he didn’t play Kooyong, so technically he didn’t lose there.

That finals match was not the best I’ve seen from them. Federer played badly compared to what he’s capable of. Nadal is part of the reason why Fed played badly, but Nadal’s play alone didn’t win him the match. He needed help from Federer who duly obliged. Neither player served well, and both missed a lot of break point opportunities.

Nadal saved a lot of break points in one game in the third set and that turned out to be the key to the match. Had he been broken in that 0-40 game when he faced 5 or 6 break points, it would have been over in 4 sets.

In the fifth set, Nadal served the best he ever had in the match. He never faced break point and only dropped 3 points on serve in that set. He played his best tennis in the 5th set when it counted most, and Roger played his worst set. It’s unusual for Fed to gift a set at a critical stage of the match, because that is exactly what he never does. This time he didn’t fight hard and it’s uncharacteristic of him when the points matter most.

It had to be mental for Roger because there’s no reason he shouldn’t have seized the match, and with it, immortality.

After Nadal’s last two matches though, women’s tennis in comparison is a joke. Newspapers all over are bringing up the debate on equal prize money once again. Certainly they aren’t providing equal entertainment value. Martina Navratilova called that women’s final ‘pathetic’. The men’s semi final was far more entertaining than Williams’ blowout, and was over 5 times longer in duration, but the payout was less and the ticket price cheaper.

The quality isn’t there anymore and I don’t expect too much for the French open either.


Cindy_Brady Says:

Seriously, I don’t think Federer will win another Grand Slam this year.

Nadal will win the French and Wimbledon. Who’s to stop him? He’s even stronger this year than he was last year. Federer isn’t suddenly going to reinvent himself and improve. He is coach less and stubborn.

The question is at the US open. Murray, Djokovic, and Nadal are all huge threats there. One of them is bound to win. In fact, Federer is due to lose there.

It may turn out…Federer may never win another grand slam singles title. Once players lose it, they lose it. And it doesn’t take all that much.

So go ahead and call me a moron, idiot, whatever…But IMO Federer is done winning grand slams. His total is 13 and that’s where it will stay.


Dan Martin Says:

Cindy he might stay at 13 but he has reached the last 4 GS finals with 1 title and 2 five set losses coming on his favored surfaces so he also has chances to win more. Had Verdasco beaten Nadal Roger would likely have won down under so I think in single elimination events a if a guy keeps going deep into the draw sooner or later he wins a few, but who knows.


Ojo Says:

I don’t know Giner. I think Djokovic has asthma. If you know anyone who has it, it can be OK some days.


SG Says:

Anyone find Federer’s post match weeping a little uncomfortable to watch? I think Fed sees the major championship window closing (quickly or not so quickly, I don’t really know) and he really wants the record.

After winning the USO so convincingly, I think he thought that he had the upper hand in this match. The surface was kind of neutral and I think he banked on Rafa being a little toasty after his barn burner with Verdasco.

What do you say about Rafa? He’d make Jimmy Connors proud. They guy is all guts.


Cindy_Brady Says:

Dan Martin,

He’s not getting any younger. If he can’t do it now….then when? Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray are all moving into their prime. (IMO) one, two, or, all three of them will stand in his way from here on out. Not to mention, the surface specialists or a hot player that he may encounter before he even sees one of them. His window of opportunity is closing and closing fast. I just have a feeling.


Dan Martin Says:

Fed is 25-3 in the past 4 slams and while he is 27 great players have won majors into their early 30′s. I think saying guy who was 1 set away can never tie or break a record set by a guy who won his last major at the age of 31 ir 32 is not logical. He might not ever win another, but to say the window is closed is premature.


Gordo Says:

Dan – nice article and commenting. Let’s remember the gap between the 13th and 14th for Pete Sampras. No one thought he would win that final one. You are right – Fed is still making 5 setters and looking pretty damn good. I would not count him out.

You may have not been reading the other recent blog. Cindy is also guaranteeing that Nadal is doping up. No sense arguing with someone who knows everything – just ask her. Her claim that Fed will not win another major is a fine example of that.

Better to just ignore this one.


Dan Martin Says:

Thanks Gordo, I’ll keep it in mind.

I think if anyone left Oz with a ton of questions to answer it was Djokovic.


Cindy_Brady Says:

Dan Marin

Sampras’s serve and volley game is tailored made more for an older player to win. Less running and thus quicker points Conserves energy in a best of 5 set match. Federer’s game is more physically demanding. It depends on speed and many times long protracted rallies that take their toll on the body. Federer has to work much harder to win points than Sampras did. Doesn’t bode well for winning grand slams at an older age. And before you say Agassi. Agassi could also could shorten points but just in a different way. Return winners and a more explosive back hand that he could also hit winners with. Federer relies mostly on running around his back hand to take control of a point with his forehand. Harder to do when you lose half a step.

John McEnroe looked invincible with his finesse game in 83 and 84. Most people thought he win many more majors then he did. Suddenly Lendl and Becker come of age and muscled him out of the grand slam picture.

This is similar to what is beginning to happen to Federer with the young guns.


Dan Martin Says:

Sampras had anemia. Roger will have to fail to win a slam between now and the U.S. Open 2012 to fall behind the pace Sampras set for getting to 14. It might happen that way, but if you can be certain about how a guy who has made 19 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals and 14 of the last 15 finals will perform in the next 15 Grand Slam events then I need to take you to Vegas with me.


anonymuos Says:

Oh no. People are underestimating Federer. It’s just that he has taken more time than expected to win his 14th and lost playing a mental game rather than a physical one. Once he figures that out, we’ll see Federer reigning again. Of course, it’ll be extremely tough against a exceptionally great champion like Nadal but it’s possible and Federer *will* do it.


Cindy_Brady Says:

Gordo….

Oh Sweet Jesus

like I’m the first person to say this about Nadal. Like it’s coming out of left field or something. Many people in the world of sports are questioning this…. And I’m new to this site. My opinion is just as valid as yours. Maybe I have a fresh perspective on here that you lack. It seems like you give the typical brown nosing “I love your article, I agree with everything you say” reply. No independent thought on a topic. More like a parrot.

And Dan,

I’ll go to Vegas and bet on that any day of the week and here’s why. You basing your argument on the past. It’s true Federer has amassed a very consistent record in the grand slams over the past 4 years… but over who?? Not much competition. Now there is competition and they have come of age. The dynamics and variables have changed.

The brave new world of Tennis is now in the hands of Roided up Nadal, Moody Andy Murray, and obnoxious Novak Djokovic.


Gordo Says:

Cindy -

Nothing wrong with a compliment. Dan’s piece was insightful, and he knows a lot more about tennis than you or I.

You lack respect and manners and have an arrogant air of a know-it-all. I suggest you stick yo your mirror or else clean up your attitude on this site.


that_matt Says:

Dan Martin: “Fellow six time slam winners Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker both trail Nadal in total accomplishments in my unofficial judgment.”

Dan, what is an official judgment? lol, I realize you guys probably don’t have editors reading your stuff, but come on.

Anyway, perhaps in your next article you could list the facts of Nadal’s accomplishments with Edberg’s and Becker’s. That at least would be an interesting read.


Colin Says:

Dan, only an American could even ask that opening question of yours!
Reminds me of the possibly mythical headline in an English newspaper about a hundred years ago: “FOG IN CHANNEL – EUROPE CUT OFF”


Dan Martin Says:

That_Matt what I meant by unofficial judgment is I am not the International Tennis Hall of Fame or even Bud Collins. My view is what it is but I’d say Nadal winning on 3 surfaces vs. the two surface wins of Edberg and Becker along with the incredibly clay court winning streak put him out in front. I do like the idea for the column and will do it in the next few weeks as Edberg and Becker are among my all time favorite players.

As for Cindy, Roger has beaten Novak their past two meetings so I would not put him in the category of a nemesis until he shows more mental toughness. Reaching 19 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals is unreal even if competition was weak (a position I think many would disagree with out of hand). Do you follow NCAA basketball? Almost every year a team or two that should be in the final four fails to do so because single elimination competition is tough. Grand Slam tennis is a field of 128 and not 64 and an injury/illness can’t be hidden with substitutions. To do what Fed has done in an individual sport in single elimination play is unreal and frankly he did not look terribly vulnerable in 5 of his 7 matches down under. If I am using the past for my argument a lot of that past is quite recent (not even 3 weeks old). Like I said he might never win another slam. Then again did Sampras after losing at Wimbledon to George Bastl in 2002 and then losing the week before the U.S. Open to Paul-Henri Mathieu? When Federer starts losing to Bastlesque players in early rounds it is time to start saying the window is closing not before then. I am not sure how a 5 set loss to the #1 player in the world translates to being washed up but hey …

Gordo thanks again, my tennis knowledge is reasonable I would say – I played juniors, played inter-club, used to be a decent player (my right wrist is all messed up right now), I coached a high school team for 2 years and each year our team posted the best record in school history… still I think we are all doing some conjecture not having played at the level these guys play at.

Colin – I agree. The U.S. media coverage was terrible due to the time difference and the Super Bowl.


Joe Says:

By the age of 28, Sampras had disc tears in his lumbar spine and had been reporting back strains for a couple of years before that (although it didn’t stop him from winning GS). Between the age of 28-31, Sampras won two more GS titles with a compromised back, which eventually forced his retirement. At the age of 27, Agassi suffered a wrist injury and then began to experience hip and back problems which eventually forced him out the game.

Roger Federer has retired only once in his whole career due to sickness. Agassi prided himself on his conditioning and wearing his opponents down. Fed is an exceptional athlete and is as fit and talented as Djoker, Murray, or Nadal. He also is still a fierce competitor. His issue is to overcome the trap that the media and his record breaking performances the past 5 years have produced, the external/internal expectations that he must win every GS except for perhaps the FO. He said it best after last year’s AO “I have created a monster”

Its not Nadal or the other players on the tour. He can beat any of them on any given day and on any surface. I’m just not sure how he will get out of this trap. He is still way to talented sublimely athletic to simply fade away. The good news is he is still enjoying the game and that is what will keep him motivated and competitive – not another $1M or a GS title.

Women’s tennis had been a joke since Henin retired. Like Borg, she wound up almost hating the tour and decided to go out on top. She had the best single wing backhand ever – better than Fed’s even.


Leftykick Says:

Welcome aboard Cindy!

Some sound comments.
Nevermind Gordo, keep telling it like it is ;-)


that_matt Says:

Yea Henin retiring really hurt the wta tour.


Colin Says:

I was a bit concerned about Federer’s comments which, from memory were “I love this game. It means everything to me, so it hurts when you lose.”
That sounds suspiciously like a man who loves not tennis itself, but being best at something, beating other people. Those players who plod on into their thirties, getting through a few rounds at the slams, maybe, but never winning a title (you supply some names) – they love tennis FOR ITSELF. Not sure about Roger.


Mary Says:

Von: WADA takes the time to clear up misgivings spread by pros: Title: Clarification on Athlete Whereabouts Requirements

Date: January 30, 2009
Following a number of questions received by WADA in relation to the issue of athlete whereabouts requirements, WADA has now published, online, a Q&A clarifying key points. This includes explanations of the changes that went into force on January 1, 2009.
http://www.wada-ama.org/rtecontent/document/qa_whereabouts_requirements.pdf

Colin: While I was not thrilled by his tears, there is a difference between some guy making it through a round and having a worldwide audience to see you tie a record to become co-GOAT. There is different expectations.


Dan Martin Says:

Joe, I am glad to have you reading Tennis-X.


Giner Says:

Cindy:

“Nadal will win the French and Wimbledon. Who’s to stop him? He’s even stronger this year than he was last year. Federer isn’t suddenly going to reinvent himself and improve. He is coach less and stubborn.”

I think you’re oversimplifying if you believe a coach is going to be a panacea that solves all his problems, including the Nadal riddle. He can beat Nadal, he just needs things to go his way and some luck. Yesterday was a bad serving day, with a low percentage of first serves. If he was serving at 70% maybe he would have won. It just didn’t happen for him.

“It may turn out…Federer may never win another grand slam singles title. Once players lose it, they lose it. And it doesn’t take all that much.”

That’s what people said about Pete Sampras, but he won his 14th at age 31. Fed still has 3.5 years before he reaches that age. 3.5 years to win one slam, I think he can do it.

Ojo Says:

“I don’t know Giner. I think Djokovic has asthma. If you know anyone who has it, it can be OK some days.”

We should all commend him for his resilience then. To have done so much in spite of asthma can’t be easy..

SG:

“After winning the USO so convincingly, I think he thought that he had the upper hand in this match. The surface was kind of neutral and I think he banked on Rafa being a little toasty after his barn burner with Verdasco.”

When Fed was asked about it before the match, he thought Rafa would be fine physically. He said that the match length was misleading. Rafa’s matches are usually longer because he takes his time on the court. And then he commended Rafa’s fitness and saying he’ll recover just fine. He may have been speaking disingenuously but he may have had a point about Rafa taking his time also.

SG are you S Green?

that_matt:

“Anyway, perhaps in your next article you could list the facts of Nadal’s accomplishments with Edberg’s and Becker’s. That at least would be an interesting read.”

No clay titles at all for Becker out of 50-odd titles I don’t know about Edberg, but certainly no French Open.

Joe:

“At the age of 27, Agassi suffered a wrist injury and then began to experience hip and back problems which eventually forced him out the game.”

Are you sure age didn’t have anything to do with it? I mean he didn’t retire until 36, so even without the wrist, hip and back injuries I don’t know how much longer he was expecting to go on for.

Colin Says:

“I was a bit concerned about Federer’s comments which, from memory were “I love this game. It means everything to me, so it hurts when you lose.”
That sounds suspiciously like a man who loves not tennis itself, but being best at something, beating other people. Those players who plod on into their thirties, getting through a few rounds at the slams, maybe, but never winning a title (you supply some names) – they love tennis FOR ITSELF. Not sure about Roger.”

I visited the Federer website and the thousands of comments left there echoed what he said. They said seeing him lose or cry hurts and “it’s killing me.”

Some were gutted. They took it pretty hard. But they also said Fed would get his revenge by beating Rafa at Roland Garros, so who knows. Maybe that will be the ultimate revenge.

Mary:

Whereabouts requirements are still crap. If they need to know where you are each day so they can get somebody to test you on the spot, then that means someone has to be available in the area you are in. If they can pull that off, why don’t they just set up testing centers in every country all over the world, and make it a mandatory requirement that once a week (or even once a day) every player must go to one to be tested? Or perhaps they don’t need to set up facilities at all and the testing can be done by certified staff in existing facilities? Make them go to some place to get tested themselves once a day/week and if they fail to do so, suspend and fine them.

WADA reporting sounds draconian. Players might be silent about it because they’re afraid that if they speak out, people will point the finger at them with unjustified suspicion.


Giner Says:

People know that Nadal gets tested regularly, but the accusation is still there that he’s on steroids. If the testing isn’t finding any trace of the steroids, then the testing must be ineffective. WADA spot testing should not make any difference. If the testing he does at every tournament doesn’t pick up any incriminating evidence, then why would an on the spot test be any more successful?

They need to improve their testing and analysis techniques if they want to be effective at implicating cheats.


Cindy_Brady Says:

“But they also said Fed would get his revenge by beating Rafa at Roland Garros, so who knows. Maybe that will be the ultimate revenge.”

That’s priceless!

I want some of what ever they are drinking….LOL!!


grendel Says:

Dan says:”I am not sure how a 5 set loss to the #1 player in the world translates to being washed up but hey “. But surely the case is not that Federer is washed up – that is obviously absurd. The case is that he is no longer quite good enough to be favourite to beat Nadal and Murray even on his favoured surfaces, at least where it really matters. Of course, he is still so good, he still might. But the balance is slowly tilting against him. Nadal and Murray are still improving, Federer is ever so slightly declining. Comparisons with the ageing Sampras do not seem valid, since Sampras did not, in his latter years, have anybody remotely of the quality of Murray and Nadal to compete against. That said, consistency – and who is more consistent than Federer – and lady luck play important roles, so you never know.


Dan Martin Says:

Grendel you raise excellent points.


jane Says:

Giner,

“Roger played his worst set [in the 5th]. It’s unusual for Fed to gift a set at a critical stage of the match, because that is exactly what he never does. This time he didn’t fight hard and it’s uncharacteristic of him when the points matter most.”

I agree mostly, although I hate the word “never”; in the past year or so, there have been at least a few matches in which Fed has seemed to fade away at the end, the French open final last year being the most notorious example, with the bagel in the 3rd set, but also the recent 3rd set loss against Murray at, was it (?), Doha, and now again in this AO final, where Fed seemed flat and resigned, really.

Compare that to his tremendous fight in the final sets of other situations, for example against Nadal at Wimbledon or against Murray at the year-end Masters Cup, which were both fantastic matches until the last point was played.

It does seem like there is less consistency to Fed’s late match resolve and fight than you imply, and maybe this is a recent phenomenon? Maybe he never had to fight like he’s had to in the last year or so? Anyhow, I am not sure why this inconsistency exists, or even if it’s very relevant. Maybe it’s dependent on his investment in the particular event? Dunno.


Hypnos Says:

Giner,

The purpose of the daily whereabouts requirement is to detect drugs which clear the body on the order of days. One example is the asthma drug Clenbuterol which clears in 3 days. It is used by bodybuilders to cut fat, and this is what Puerta was nailed for. Another example is a “testosterone suspension” (testosterone in water or glycol) which also clears in roughly 3 days.

I do not know if the whereabouts requirement can be circumvented by deciding to vacation somewhere remote. They may have WADA folks everywhere (since there are Olympic atheletes everywhere), or there may even be travel restrictions …


Von Says:

Mary:

“Von: WADA takes the time to clear up misgivings spread by pros: Title: Clarification on Athlete Whereabouts Requirements.”

Thank you. It’s very similar to what I stated previously, that all the athlete has to so is just email, text message (which I forgot to mention) or have someone in his camp notify WADA. To reiterate, with the internet technology we have nowadays, they could program their email messenger to notify WADA every day at say 7:00 am that they are available, or send a text message. I believe WADA is very liberal with the time-frame from 6:00 a.m to 11:00 p.m., and the player does not have to personally do the check in, his camp could do the reporting. Hence, where’s the inconvenience and why the antagonism? Those actions draw a great deal of suspicion and sends up an invisible “red flag”.

I believe the problem is not one of inconvenience to the player at all, but one of rebellion and a total abhorrence of rules. It seems some of them have gotten larger than life itself.

The players are cognizant of the need for drug testing from the very inception of joining the tour, hence this should be old hat to them. It comes with the territory of being a professional athlete and is similar to many rules to which other professionals have to adhere in their jobs. For example, in my job, because of my accountablity as a public servant, I’m subject to a full-field investigation and an audit of my finances every 3, 4, or 5 years, and it’s done randomly. We don’t have time to prepare and we don’t know when we’ll be called. I knew this when I accepted the position, ergo, no problem for me. It would be a problem if I were to be involved in illegal money practices and am using illegal substances. It appears to me that the fans seem to have more of a problem with the WADA testing than the athletes themselves, and they are projecting their feelings onto the athletes.

Another situation that produces some concern, is the fact that despite all we’ve written about WADA and the information you’ve posted, some fans still don’t understand WADA’s function, the athlete’s responsibility and ATP’s function in the drug testing. I get the feeling that some feel WADA testing and the ATP testing are one and the same. Moreover, there is a huge misunderstanding with respect to the meaning of random testing.

If there is a center set up and an athlete has to report to that center to be tested, then the whole idea of random and/or surprise testing is moot and the purpose is defeated. The idea of random testing is to catch the athlete off guard if he’s using an “illegal” substance. Having the athlete report once a week is giving him time to prepare and/or avoid using anything that’s illegal. If it were to be done that way, the dirty athlete woud never be caught. Random testing means impromptu testing. I never thought this could be so difficult. Oy Vey.


Samprazzz Says:

Earlier this month, I predicted that Rafa would repeat at the French. Call me a resident of Crazy Street, but I think this match changes everything. I think this match has seared Fed to the bone. His losses to Rafa in 08′, I think, deep down Fed chalked those up to his mono. But for this match, and on hard-courts??? He’s got no excuse, and he knows it. Hence, the tears.
Fed has finally got it through his fat head that he has to come up with something called a “game-plan” in order to beat Rafa. The idea that he can hang back and blast his forehand, and count on his serve to get him through doesn’t fly. Many have pointed out that Fed’s first serve % was uncharacteristically low. But look back at Fed’s other losses to Rafa- he always serves poorly against Rafa. There’s a reason for it: Rafa makes him run. Fed’s footwork is so smooth, that it’s difficult to notice, but if you take a good look at those matches, Fed is made to cover a lot of court against Rafa- much more court than he is used to against any other player. I think Fed gets a smidgen tired against Rafa- just tired enough to take the edge off his serve, and so that he makes a few more errors than normal.
To my mind, this loss is going to inspire Fed. He’s going to do some serious road-work, get in phenomenal shape, take out the VCR, and look at how others are able to beat Rafa. Then he’s going to come up with a game plan. He’s going to hire a full-time practice partner who is a lefty with a good lefty, kick-serve. He’s going to practice attacking that serve for hours on end, and he’s going to win the French Open, as well as Wimbledon. In one fell-swoop, he’s going to break Sampras’ slam record, complete the grandslam collection, and silence the critics once and for all.
You heard it here first.


Samprazzz Says:

P.S., by no means am I a Federer fanatic. In fact, when Fed and Rafa play, I cheer for Rafa.


Von Says:

grendel: “Comparisons with the ageing Sampras do not seem valid, since Sampras did not, in his latter years, have anybody remotely of the quality of Murray and Nadal to compete against. That said, consistency – and who is more consistent than Federer – and lady luck play important roles, so you never know.”

I disagree. Wouldn’t you say, Safin, Hewitt, Agassi, Kafelnikov and Courier, and to a lesser extent Ruzedski, were all formidable opponents for Sampras. Sampras made the game look easy, just like Federer does, but let’s not diminish Sampras’ competition in any way. True, he didn’t have Nadal, but then whose era had a Nadal. Hewitt was the closest to Nadal in terms of speed, but the young Safin was majestic in his youthful form. Agassi could likterally blow his competitor’s lungs out, and he did that with great joy and relished toying with them.

It’s difficult to compare eras and competition, (this iks why the GOAT argument is a lot of hogwash) but I think in each era the legends had their own nemesises to deal with and fought valiantly to defend their rankings.


Twocents Says:

Dan,

As I said to Sean a couple of weeks ago, you guys read too much into Nadal’s injury. Team Nadal started their latest injury-schedule campainge before Paris Indoor 2008, with Nadal pulled out of Paris, Shanghai YEC, and Davis Cup final — for the one big goal: to win AO 2009.
Nadal’s won DC in 2004, YEC can wait (so is his no.1 perk). He needed mostly a hard court slam to vindicate his no.1 spot. And he nailed it. Kudos!

Things Fed can learn most from Nadal are: foucs on yuor main goal and downplay your chances.

That said. Winning no.14 is still much harder than winning no.6 slam.


Von Says:

Samprazz:
Fed can do all of those things you’ve mentioned, but when one’s body says I just can’t do what you’re asking me to do, it’s time for a reality check and accept the situation for what it’s worth. “Father Time” is a cruel guy and he creeps up on us without any serious warning, ever so subtly, but cumulative, and then the huge whammy, which reverberates throughout every fiber of our body and brain. Fed is fighting Father Time and is slowly losing that battle.

I also think Fed is the author of his own demise. He has put too much pressure on himself. He’s not satisfied to win, he wants to re-write history. Furthermore, he’s not contented to just re-write history, he’s set up a time-frame in which to do so. Nothing’s worse than our own self-inflicted pressure — fighting against ourselves.

I don’t understand his urgency, but only he has the answer. When all is said and done, it’s only a stat, and is a stat that important as to place such unnecessary pressure on oneself? I don’t think so. I dislike all the stats, but unfortunately, the sportsworld just keeps coming up with these stats, inventing more and more. However, it’s for the athlete to get a grip on perspective and not fall into the stat trap. Go with the flow and keep hope close to his heart, because hope springs eternal.

______________
On another more humorous note, fo those who live in the US and listen to the ESPN commentators, could someone please advise Dear Dick Enberg that the GS is “3 best of 5″ and NOT “2 best of 3″. He says this at every Grand slam I’ve watched when he’s commentating. I’m sure that the “2 best of 3″ is one stat the players would welcome.


Mary Says:

It’s funny that one knock against Fed is he has not had to deal with the number of top players as Sampras.
Sampras dealt with generation changes. Also, it was a different game. Each era leaves its own stamp.
Personally, I’ve been partial to the serve and volley instead of serve and knock the ball like hell from outside the baseline.

Fed knows how to beat Nadal, but he falls apart mentally. For me, that’s why the matches are maddening to watch. You cannot blame his poor serving on the guy across the net from him.
They meet in the finals of slams where Fed has to win. I do think the pressure on him cannot be underestimated.
If you are an athlete you have to have some arrogance, how else do you face standing on a court in front of the world.

Von: WADA can still do suprise testing. I was reading on their site today they are teaming up with INTERPOL– it was announced today offically.
“As demonstrated by recent high-profile doping cases and investigations, government action and the sharing of information between law enforcement agencies and anti-doping organizations can be crucial in exposing anti-doping rule violations that would not have been detected through testing. WADA is looking forward to intensifying co-operation with INTERPOL to further protect young sportsmen and women from the harm of doping.”
Oh the above is from interpol.
Pay attention to the second from the last line.


Von Says:

Two Cents;

Aren’t you even going to say ‘hello” to me?

I remember your mentioning that before. You’re so right, on the injury campaign. So funny, history keeps repeating itself in the middle of the USO and then a slight descent until the YEC. The guy has perpetual tendinitis. I remember last year where the discussion centered around his knees on hadcourts, and some ventured to say that North America had too many hardcourt tournaments only for the benefit of the US players, and we should switch to clay, to accommodate His NIBS’ knees. Well, now that he’s won a hardcourt GS should the hardcourts still be ripped up? Or, is everything now “A OK” with hardcourts and his knees — hardcourts are now Nadal user-friendly.

His fans claim that the other tennis supporters have made all these claims that he can’t win on hardcourt, but who created that stigma for Nadal? None other than Uncle Tony, who has repeatedly stated his nephew’s career could be over very soon due to the hardcourts. Uncle Tony has been spinning that yarn for over 3 years nolw and some are so gullible as to believe it. And, when the public buys it and sells it back like they’ve heard it, then they’re accused of being mean. How about the Nadal camp writing a script as to what they’d like for the tennis supporters to say with regard to Nadal’s knees.


Hypnos Says:

On the tennis side of things, somebody (Cindy?) already mentioned that Sampras’ game is much friendlier to the older body. Stamina and recovery ability goes down, speed somewhat, but power hardly (it may even increase).

Federer’s game, on the other hand, is built on precision. He takes the ball early with enormous racket speed to hit spectacular shots. In the 4th set against Rafa he was playing at the absolute edge, and in the 5th set with a small drop in concentration and Rafa serving well it unraveled completely.

Going forward I think he needs to develop a more aggressive power game — assert himself, play with a greater margin for error. Otherwise his results will fall precipitously as he ages.


Von Says:

Mary:

“WADA is looking forward to intensifying co-operation with INTERPOL to further protect young sportsmen and women from the harm of doping.”

WADA working with INTERPOL is huge. There’s more going on behind the scenes than we can even imagine.

There’s always been sharing of information between law enforcement agencies, local, national, and overseas. There are FBI databases and National databases. What has happened is that the laxness of testing of the various organizations is now catching up with them, and because of Interpol’s intervention, the test results for individual countries will no longer be allowed to be discarded, since those results will have to be input by the labs doing the testing directly into the database that’s shared by Interpol, WADA and local law enforcement agencies. This trnslates to a test done at 8:00 a.m. will be seen by all involved simultaneously. It certainly will discourage the protection of some athletes. Ay Caramba!! I almost wish now that I didn’t ask to transfer out of that area.


Samprazzz Says:

Hi Von, I hear what you’re saying about Father Time. But I don’t think 27 years old, especially with an aggressive personal training plan is too old. A 27-year old body has still got alot of juice left in it. For tennis, I think 30 is the drop-off point where, unless you’re a fitness freak, you’re not going to be able to compete at the same level.
But also, the style that Fed plays, he hasn’t got alot of wear-and-tear on his body. It;s not like he’s been winning matches by running balls down for the last 10 years. He wins by blasting winners. He only plays about 6 matches/year where he’s really straining himself to maximum exertion.


Von Says:

Samprazz:

True to all you’ve stated, but Fed’s dealing with the biggest, most debilitating of all bodily problems — his mind. I don’t think anything could make an athlete or person more drained than the mental fight — his own. If he can get the cobwebs out of his head, he’ll be fine. The question is, how does he do that? A psychologist would help him to put things in perspective. Presently, his brain is telling his body it just can’t be done. Next, will be the rationalizations, and finally, the resignation. It will probably be at the point of resignation that he’ll find his game again and what’s needed to beat Nadal. However, only time will tell ….

I look at my own fave, Roddick, and wish I could get into his head and remove that chip he’s placed in his memory banks with regard to Fed. Fed needs to do the same with Nadal. Pavlov’s Bell, is working overtime with Fed and Roddick.


Ezorra Says:

Von says:

“I remember last year where the discussion centered around his knees on hadcourts, and some ventured to say that North America had too many hardcourt tournaments only for the benefit of the US players, and we should switch to clay, to accommodate His NIBS’ knees. WELL, NOW THAT HE’S WON A HARDCOURT GS SHOULD THE HARDCOURTS STILL BE RIPPED UP? OR, IS EVERYTHING NOW “A OK” WITH HARDCOURTS AND HIS KNEES — HARDCOURTS ARE NOW NADAL USER-FRIENDLY.”

—-
NADAL CALLS FOR FEWER HARD COURTS, REDUCED SEASON

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A day after winning his first Grand Slam on hard courts, Rafael Nadal called on tennis officials to be mindful of the physical toll the hard surface takes on players in an ever expanding schedule.

“This calendar I am playing with this surface — hard court surface — is tougher than grass or clay for the body, and all the time we are playing more on this surface,” said Nadal, who beat Roger Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2 for his first Australian Open title Sunday.

“In my humble opinion, we have to change that a bit more,” the Spaniard said. “I can say that because I won a grand slam on hard (courts).”

Nadal, 22, has previously won four Grand Slams on the French Open clay courts, as well as Wimbledon on grass last year.

“Before if I say that, a lot of people think `He wants to change because he’s a clay player.’ But believe me, I don’t think anything about if I am a clay court player or not.

“When I say this, I think about the best for the players and for the future. It’s not possible to have a lot of injuries on tour like this. So we have to try to change something.”

The Australian Open marked the first time Nadal reached the final of a major on hard courts, having been knocked out in the semifinals of the Australian and U.S. Opens last year.

Even this time, he had to struggle to make the last weekend at Melbourne. He held off a fellow Spanish left-hander Fernando Verdasco in the semifinals on Friday in 5 hours, 14 minutes — the longest match in the tournament’s history.

“To play with this aggression and with this rhythm all the time from the 1st of January to 31st of December is impossible,” he said.

Nadal said he was worried the rigors of the present ATP Tour could hinder his quality of life after his tennis.

“I love (soccer) — I can’t play (soccer) right now because I am playing (tennis) — but I would love to play (soccer) with my friends later when I finish,” said Nadal, whose uncle Miguel Angel Nadal played for Barcelona and represented Spain.

“I would love to continue playing tennis and to do what I want,” he added. “But if we continue to play this (many tournaments), later maybe it’s going to be tough to practice sports.”

Nadal, who now needs a U.S. Open title to complete a rare career Grand Slam, on Monday blamed exhaustion for his semifinal loss to Andy Murray at Flushing Meadows last year.

“Last year was tough at the U.S. Open,” he said. “I arrived playing well, winning Olympics, winning Toronto, having semifinals in Cincinnati. So I was playing a high level of tennis.

“But I felt during the tournament it was going to be almost impossible to win the title because I feel too tired. Mentally and physically, I wasn’t there. The semifinals especially, against Murray, I really can’t move.”

—————————-
Ezorra: Love to know that Nadal is still consistent with his statement! :)


Von Says:

Ezorra:

“To play with this aggression and with this rhythm all the time from the 1st of January to 31st of December is impossible,” he said.

“Nadal said he was worried the rigors of the present ATP Tour could hinder his quality of life after his tennis.”

I would love to answer this in-depth but I’d have you and the Nadal fans jumping all over me like a hill of “Mexican jumping beans”.


jane Says:

Well, I do wish there were a few more grass events, so if they were to alter the tournament surfaces at all, towards a greater balance, I’d hope to see at least ONE grass court Masters Series (1000s level??) event added, ideally before Wimbledon as preparation for that slam. This would involve major rejiggering of the schedule, though, since there is so little time between the French and Wimbledon. But more grass is wanted. If we include indoor carpet in the “hard court” category, it does seem like the majority of events are played on hard, with clay second, and grass the least.


best point roger x Nadal | Betting Tennis Club Says:

[...] Historical Maneuvering: Rafa and Serena Claim the 1st Big Prize of 2009 I could have entitled this column: If a Major Title is Won and No One in the United States is Awake to See it, Did it Have Implications? Obviously, yes is the answer to my own question. [...]


Milo Says:

Rafa has a point:

Unfortunately, all the surfaces are lacking.

Hardcourts — brutal on the body, especially considering how physical the modern game has become.

Grass — easy on the joints, but terribly inconsistent and too difficult to maintain.

Clay — easy on the joints, but the lack of traction tends to favor one particular style of play.

It is rather amazing the sport hasn’t come up with a softer surface, that plays at a middle speed, with excellent foot traction.

Another thing that is annoying, is how the lines on all surfaces bounce at a different speed than the rest of the court. Who runs this sport? I’m sure any scientist could easily create a line that matches the hop of the rest of the court. In the old days, hitting the line might not have been a big factor, but in the modern game the lines are hit every other point and matches are won and lost trying to deal with the different hop. Why does it matter? A court that is not consistent brings luck in as a factor. A more consistent court favors the better player.

At the club level, so many aging players are forced to give up the game because they play on unforgiving hardcourts, or don’t like the bad footing of clay. How hard can it be to come up with a perfectly level Plexi-court that offers some forgiveness on the joints? The NBA doesn’t play on concrete for obvious reasons.

I once played on an astroturf and sand court a few decades ago. Though not a consistent hop, they were on to the right idea.


Hypnos Says:

Milo,

Residing in Japan, I always play on astroturf+sand courts. It is not a pleasant surface: catches the spins, offers poor footing if the sand is not perfectly groomed, and gives low, inconcistent bounces. Moreover, because the surface is soft, it takes a lot of energy to move quickly. It’s like slow grass.

Actually, I think the tougher the surface, the more it favors the better tennis player. The more fundamentally sound and athletic you are, the less likely you are to succumb to a “hot” player. A less-skilled player can get “hot” by dialing in on the true bounces even though his technique and footwork are sloppy.

This has been my experience moving here from North America — I can’t surprise better players anymore by simply cranking on the ball.


Ezorra Says:

Rafa has a point:

Unfortunately, all the surfaces are lacking.

Hardcourts — brutal on the body, especially considering how physical the modern game has become.

Grass — easy on the joints, but terribly inconsistent and too difficult to maintain.

Clay — easy on the joints, but the lack of traction tends to favor one particular style of play.

- completely agree!


Milo Says:

Hypnos:

OK, we’ll scratch sand and turf off the list of potentials.

I’m not sure how you feel a crappy court favors the better player? If I’m taking on Nadal, I want holes in the court, broken glass, no lines and a rule against pirate pants. My only hope is if its like one of those “Robot Wars” shows, where he is the better machine, but a chainsaw pops out of the floor to cut him in half before he wups my ass.

Its a well known fact in golf circles, that if a course is badly maintained, with terrible lies and bumpy greens, the player with less skill has a better chance. I don’t see sports like Table Tennis going out of their way to stage championships on a bad-hopping uneven table.

A great championship tennis court should be absolutely level (drainage tilts are for club courts), with a texture on the surface and lines that are identical. And while I’m at it, let’s jack up the computer processing speed of the HawkEye ShotSpot system, and have it make a piercing beep whenever the ball is out (the system is pretty quick now, so they must be closing in on having it call the court in real time). Get rid of the human error on the lines and tennis would be a great pure game, without the subjective BS that brings down so many other sports.


margot Says:

I believe Madrid is going to be a huge clay court championship this year. Do Europeans learn the trade on clay? Not Brits obviously. As a fan different surfaces produce different kinds ofplay and I think serve and volley is a lot more exciting to watch, but this is just my preference.
As for Federer, can I predict if he meets anyone other than Nadal in a final, he will get his 14th.


Von Says:

After re-reading Nadal’s statment again, I would like to comment.

“To play with this aggression and with this rhythm all the time from the 1st of January to 31st of December is impossible,” he said.

For starters, the season does not begin on January 1st and end on December 31st. The real season for a No. 1 player begins with the AO, the second week in January, and it culminates sometime in early November for the Top 8 who play at the TMC, which is followed by a 2 month hiatus/hibernation/sabbatical.

Let’s begin with this year. Nadal played Abu Dhabi and Doha, both hard-court events, which were NOT mandatory, beginning on january 3rd. Abu Dhabi was an exhibition and Doha a non-mandatory tournament. He claims he has a problem playing on hardcourts, then that being the case, wouldn’t it have been logical to skip those events in order to protect himself from the rigors of playing on hardcourts? And, to compound his problems, not only did he play singles in Doha, he also opted to play doubles as well. That choice made absolutely no sense to me, in view of his on-going knee problem.

I believe toward the end of the ’08 season this matter was discussed, and Nadal had to pull out of the TMC, and Davis Cup due to his worn-out body parts. Now, we have a new season, and what does he do, he adds more hardcourts tournaments to his schedule right from the beginning of January, which to me is rather foolhardy and senseless, considering his complaints only two months prior. This is rather mind-boggling.

Further, according to the article: “Nadal said he was worried the rigors of the present ATP Tour could hinder his quality of life after his tennis.”

Isn’t this being a bit overly dramatic? I view the above as Nadal portraying himself as a victim — a victim of his own choices. No one is holding him hostage or putting a loaded gun to his head, forcing him to play exhibition matches, and singles and doubles simultaneously, in non-mandatory tournaments. He has choices and his choices are very clear. If hardcourt is not user-friendly to his body, then eliminate all of the non-mandatory hardcourt tournaments, and any other non-mandatory tournaments from his schedule, and play only the mandatory tournaments. By so doing, he’ll definitely be able to preserve his body and would not have to worry about hindering his quality of life after tennis. I’m sorry, but this is one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve heard from a tennis player. As a matter of fact, I don’t recall ever hearing any tennis player making such a statement.

This guy is only 22 years old, what will he do by the time he’s 25 or 26, if he is entertaining such a mindset?

“I love (soccer) — I can’t play (soccer) right now because I am playing (tennis) — but I would love to play (soccer) with my friends later when I finish,” said Nadal, whose uncle Miguel Angel Nadal played for Barcelona and represented Spain.

He’s right about not playing soccer and tennis simultaneously. He has to make a choice and the choice he’s made is to keep on playing tennis. Most of us would like to engage in activities outside of our professions, but here again, we have to make choices, and the choices we make usually border on what is most lucrative, pays the bills and pride us with a good lifestyle. This won’t be the problem in his case because he has made tens of millions of dollars.

“I would love to continue playing tennis and to do what I want,” he added. “But if we continue to play this (many tournaments), later maybe it’s going to be tough to practice sports.”

I’m stumped, does he or doesn’t he want to be a competitive player or is his focus merely on being able to practice playing sports and doing what he wants, whatever that is?

From what I’ve read and understood in Nadal’s press release he wants to play tennis, but he only wants to do so with a shorter schedule, one which he has the prerogative of shortening, but refuses to do so. Hence, he’ll lobby and moan and groan about the schedule, making as many waves as he possibly can, portray himself to be a “victim” but do nothing in the way of cutting back on unnecessary and non-mandatory tournaments. To me, this is absolutely, mind-boggling.


Twocents Says:

Dear Von,

Hello, and sorry for being elusive. I’m such a bad and non-committed poster that I worry about letting regulars here down…

Before last Sunday’s final, I actually wanted to tell you that I thought Fed should have given Roddick (Randy) a chance to go against Nadal if he couldn’t handle Nadal, like he can’t :-)). But I couldn’t get a internet connection at the stingy airport. Roddick played really well against Djork. It’s rotten luck of him running into a Berdchy/JMDP-boosted Fed. Still, he gave a good fight.

I feel it’s been a good AO for both Fed and Roddick: they both played some awesome tennis, amid all these uprising yound kids. Way to go!
Murray (Mandy)played well too but had bad luck of flu and run into a red hot Verdasco. I liked the way he took his loss. I’m too old to see anything new from this AO 2009 final: Nadal beats Fed :-)). Like we don’t know yet that Nadal’s in Fed’s head? This will not stop young and old guns of ATP trying to gun down Nadal on any courts other than clay. Nadal’s a deserving no.1 even before this win. But he is still yet to build up his supremacy on hard and grass courts. Then, we shall never underestimate Uncle Tony’s magic power of making hard court slower and less available :-)).


Ryan Says:

Agassi and pete were nearly the same age….maybe 2 years difference but nadal and federer has a difference of 5 years and thats a big gap in tennis years.As time goes the younger man will have the advantage…its obvious


Von Says:

Two Cents;

Well, to tell you the truth, I thought you had forgotten your old friends, or the holiday partying was still uppermost in your mind. I did send you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year post, but I doubt whether you saw it due to the several threads.

Yes, it was so tough for me to see Andy lose again to Fed, however, despite the critics, I believe except for the slow first set start, Andy kept the next two sets close, so it wasn’t a blow out. I’m alsol happ;y he bettered last year’s results, and if he can get to the SFs in the slams, he’d remain in the Top 10.

Seeing Fed cry made me think of the many unshed tears Andy held back at those times he stood on the podium being the runner-up, and I thought that he was indeed a good trooper to swallow so many let-downs and still keep on fighting.

Well, I’ll catch ya later, and hope to see you posting more frequently while being a world-class traveller. Lucky, lucky you.


Hypnos Says:

Milo,

Thank you for your reply.

I think a tough court favors a better player because a less skilled player can’t just swing wildly and expect a good outcome. This is why James Blake (for example) has far better results at the hard court slams than at the other two, even though I don’t think he plays with much elegance or variety.

However, i think we can agree that there is a difference between demanding and unplayable. A demanding court requires more athleticism and skill, but the bounces shouldn’t be overly unpredictable and there should be little risk of injury. I think well-manicured grass has all the desired attributes — difficult to play but predictable, and easy on the joints — but as you pointed out it is too expensive.

What about artificial grass? It has replaced Astroturf in American football, and I think is becoming more popular for private tennis courts in the US. I don’t know how it plays …


Hypnos Says:

Milo,

Also, I agree with you on Hawkeye — if they can make it near instantaneous, why not use it for all the calls?

My only reservations are that (a) it would only be available on show courts (which is already the case, but the difference would be more pronounced) and (b) I’m not sure how well-validated the system is, i.e. how well they model the contact patch of the ball as it lands on various surfaces and whether they have the geometry down to the claimed accuracy.


tennisfan2 Says:

Von
The year does NOT begin w/ AO; the players play warm up tournaments to prepare for the AO.
You can’t be #1 if the only tournaments you play are grass and clay, since most of the tournaments are hardcourt.
Love Andy Roddick, wish he had won. Andy Murray took is loss admirably.


jane Says:

Von,

Nadal, like most other players, probably played the non-mandatory pre-AO events as warm-up for the AO. Players need to get match ready for a slam of course. I agree that he perhaps didn’t need to play both events, nor did he need to play doubles (though this is maybe motivated by his desire to improve his volleying skills given they way Tsonga handled him last year?)

Maybe the fact that he didn’t get many matches in at the end of last year is also one of the reasons he added more events at the beginning of this one?

I agree with you on the “life after tennis” comment; it is rather unfounded and strange. Those are the obviously breaks you take for choosing sport as your ambition, and in the process making millions and millions of dollars. It’s a trade-off. Any sport will be hard on the body and that may affect the body later in life. C’est la vie.

Similarly with the soccer statement – thems the breaks. I know Djokovic skis and comes from a skiing family but he chose tennis. So that’s his choice. If he wants to ski for fun when he retires I am sure he’ll be able to do so.

That said, I think his point about the surface imbalance is fair. I personally would like to see more grass tennis, as mentioned above, and the balance does weigh in the favor of hard courts at present.

The schedule is a baffling conundrum. There are choice elements, but then there is the matter of maintaining ranking and picking up points to do so. I guess players don’t want to sacrifice non-mandatory events that help prep them for the slams, so they play accordingly. E.g, the non-mandatory events pre-AO and pre-Wimbledon. The other two slams have Masters series events that the players have to play, and in the process which help them get ready for both slams.

That said, Nadal could cut back on his schedule by playing less doubles,and maybe dropping a couple of non-mandatory hard and clay events. That would ease his schedule somewhat. But it is still one of the longest sporting seasons, and the majority of fans at Tennistalk.com voted that the season is too long (54% say too long; 37% fine as is; 9% too short). So it’s something for the players’ council and ATP board to at least think about.


grendel Says:

Von:

comparing eras is indeed a minefield, but I was drawn into it because many people have suggested that if Sampras can get a couple of slams in his latter years, so can Federer. Well, does the analogy hold? I honestly don’t think so.

Courier was surely gone by the time Sampras got his 13th? Safin of course is an all time great but, for whatever inscrutable Safinesque reasons, he was not a consistently formidable player. Of the other players you mention, only Agassi can bear comparison with Nadal and Murray, and Djokovic too, I suppose I should add. But great though Agassi was 1) Sampras tended to have his number and 2) he was a contemporary (as Ryan pointed out). Nadal and co are much younger than Federer – surely this is crucial. Furthermore, right now, we seem to be going through a renaissance; there are a number of players who, one might argue, are, on their day, more formidable than Kafelnikov, Rusedski – perhaps not Hewitt. You can supply the names as well as I.

However, my point is not to diminish Sampras. It may well be that, given the opportunity, he would have handled Nadal and Murray much better than Federer. In fact, I find it impossible to believe that Nadal could have beaten Sampras on grass.

Players, after all, do not choose their competition. Sampras was perhaps a little fortunate – but perhaps he didn’t need the fortune. Federer is perhaps a little unfortunate – but perhaps he does need a bit of fortune. That’s what a number of his detractors say, anyway. It will be interesting to see, over the coming years, whether they are right. Being a pessimist, I tend to suspect they are. But I would love to be proved utterly wrong. I ain’t proud!


Joe Says:

I used to say a lot of strange things too when I was 22. Especially when I was in the company of women and had had a couple of drinks. For some reason said women never bought the line about being Andre Agassi’s doubles partner…


dka Says:

Federer needs to have a strategy against Nadal. In my opinion for Federer to recover he must do the following:-

1. ) Serve wide with heavy spin and consistently.
2. ) Top spin and slice backhands down the line with authority
3. ) Come to the Net more often
4. ) Jump inside the baseline and cut off the angle to Nadal’s serve
5.) Convert break point opportunities
6. )USe the inside-out forehand more frequently to surprise Nadal


Giner Says:

Jane,

“I agree mostly, although I hate the word “never”; in the past year or so, there have been at least a few matches in which Fed has seemed to fade away at the end, the French open final last year being the most notorious example, with the bagel in the 3rd set, but also the recent 3rd set loss against Murray at, was it (?), Doha, and now again in this AO final, where Fed seemed flat and resigned, really.”

In big matches (Doha doesn’t count) when the stakes are high and it goes down to the wire, you can expect him to deliver. In the case of Roland Garros, he was down by two sets and a break or two, and he was resigned to his fate. However, if it was the 5th set, you would expect him to fight with every fibre of his being. The losses he’s taken in 5 sets I don’t think you can say he tanked them. In this match it didn’t look like he fought very hard. No signs of the usual clutch serving you would expect from him.

Hypnos Says:

“The purpose of the daily whereabouts requirement is to detect drugs which clear the body on the order of days. One example is the asthma drug Clenbuterol which clears in 3 days. It is used by bodybuilders to cut fat, and this is what Puerta was nailed for. Another example is a “testosterone suspension” (testosterone in water or glycol) which also clears in roughly 3 days.

I do not know if the whereabouts requirement can be circumvented by deciding to vacation somewhere remote. They may have WADA folks everywhere (since there are Olympic atheletes everywhere), or there may even be travel restrictions …”

I didn’t know about that. Okay, in this case, I think players should have the option to be tested daily at their convenience but without the reporting. If they prefer reporting, they can do that. I would rather be tested daily and live as private a life as I can.

Samprazz:

“Earlier this month, I predicted that Rafa would repeat at the French. Call me a resident of Crazy Street, but I think this match changes everything. I think this match has seared Fed to the bone. His losses to Rafa in 08′, I think, deep down Fed chalked those up to his mono. But for this match, and on hard-courts??? He’s got no excuse, and he knows it. Hence, the tears.”

Don’t be misled by the hard court. AO’s plexicushion is a neutral surface. Clay has always been Rafa’s turf, and grass Federer’s. The AO’s hard court is a surface that is in between, and the two meet in the middle. It’s anyone’s match. The AO’s court is not as fast as the US Open’s but it’s meant to be faster than the old rebound ace. Some players disagree and say that it’s slower, so it’s hard to tell who to believe. It didn’t look lightning fast though except when I saw Gonzalez play.

“Earlier this month, I predicted that Rafa would repeat at the French.”

At least you were adventurous.

“Call me a resident of Crazy Street, but I think this match changes everything.”

It would take a major choke on Nadal’s part to lose to Fed this time. The AO win gives him even more confidence against Fed. I don’t know if being inspired by a loss is enough to propel you into doing the improbable. Believe me, really wanting something and being motivated to attain it doesn’t guarantee you get it.

“To my mind, this loss is going to inspire Fed. He’s going to do some serious road-work, get in phenomenal shape, take out the VCR, and look at how others are able to beat Rafa. Then he’s going to come up with a game plan. He’s going to hire a full-time practice partner who is a lefty with a good lefty, kick-serve. He’s going to practice attacking that serve for hours on end, and he’s going to win the French Open, as well as Wimbledon. In one fell-swoop, he’s going to break Sampras’ slam record, complete the grandslam collection, and silence the critics once and for all. You heard it here first.”

Is he going to do all of this in 2009? If so, he doesn’t have much time to make these major improvements to his game. And he has to hire a coach immediately, and it has to be a good coach that meets all his lofty requirements, then he’s got a period of 4 months to change his game and figure out how to kill Nadal on his best surface, the one that he had an 80+ winning streak on at some point.

Reclaiming his Wimbledon crown I can conceive, but winning the French is tall order. Nadal is more likely to complete his slam collection before Fed does.

Von:

“Well, now that he’s won a hardcourt GS should the hardcourts still be ripped up? Or, is everything now “A OK” with hardcourts and his knees — hardcourts are now Nadal user-friendly.”

He would still stand by that. AO’s plexicushion is manufactured by an American company but it is different to the American hard courts. It has a layer of rubber over the asphalt which softens it. It is considered a medium speed hard court. The ball also bounces higher on it than on Decoturf which the US Open uses. And the speed is slower than the US Open. It’s basically a surface designed to be fair to any player.

Decoturf is asphalt based and is harder on the joints.

Australia is early in the season, and he’s usually good in the beginning. His chances of winning there are better than at the US. It’s after Wimbledon that all the tennis he plays takes its toll, which happens to be during the North American circuit. He front loads his season trying to push early in the race, and the fatigue and pain doesn’t manifest until the second half of the season.

I don’t think he has much of a case however, because other players are subjected to the same abuse as he is. And I don’t seriously think he is asking for hard courts to be replaced with clay.

“NADAL CALLS FOR FEWER HARD COURTS, REDUCED SEASON”

Believe it or not, I just read the ATP rules, and you are required to play 4 GS if you qualify, plus 9 Masters 1000′s, plus 4 Masters 500s, and 2 Masters 250′s. Two of those 500′s must come after the US Open. It used to be that the only compulsory events were GS and Masters Series (1000), but now there are penalties if you don’t play 6 other events with it. That is a long season, and it’s not for the good of the players if they have to play smaller events now too.

Milo:

“It is rather amazing the sport hasn’t come up with a softer surface, that plays at a middle speed, with excellent foot traction.”

That’s pretty much what the Australian hard courts (plexicushion) are. Medium speed, rubberised hard court. Bounce is true, and it’s soft enough that if you dive for the ball it won’t injure you.

Last year, I saw Nadal and Serena playing an exhibition on WATER! I don’t know how they set up the court, but I very much want to know. Was it Jesus-like? Or was it just water on top of a hard surface? I couldn’t see any hard surface, but couldn’t find details on how they set up the court either. Mythbusters tried to set up an experiment to test walking on water, but they didn’t produce a solution anywhere near that elegant. They had some thick gooey non-newtonian fluid that if you run across it quickly you won’t sink, but if you step slowly you will.

“Let’s begin with this year. Nadal played Abu Dhabi and Doha, both hard-court events, which were NOT mandatory, beginning on january 3rd. Abu Dhabi was an exhibition and Doha a non-mandatory tournament.”

Abu Dhabi was not a mandatory event, true. But he’d ended his season early this time and needed matches going into the AO. And what better way to do it than against the best in the world?

As for Doha, it wasn’t mandatory, but if he didn’t play that then he’d have no official matches going into the AO. You need to play yourself into form. He could have played Doha and rested the week after it (which is exactly what he did), or he could skip Doha and play Sydney the week after. He chose to give himself a week’s rest before the AO, so he played Doha.

He plays doubles in smaller tournaments (like Doha) sometimes to improve his volleys.

By the way, technically Doha is not a mandatory event, but players are actually required to play 6 small events per year, with two of them coming after the US Open. Here’s from the ATP site:

————————-
Q. What is the ranking structure and formula in 2009? Why isn’t the Race being used?
A. In 2009, any player who finished in the 2008 year-end Top 30 will be required to compete in four Grand Slam tournaments and eight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments. In addition, the Best 4 ATP World Tour 500 and Best 2 other events (ATP World Tour 250 and Challengers) will be counted towards a player’s ranking. All direct acceptance players at the time of the entry deadline who do not play will receive a 0-pointer in their ranking.

Q. What if a player is injured and can’t play in a Grand Slam or ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament?
A. If eligible to play in one of the Grand Slam or ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, a player must count the points from these tournaments, even if it is ‘a zero pointer’ because he missed the event. Just as in Formula One and numerous other sports, if a competitor misses a race or an event, he loses his chances to earn points. Players with direct acceptance who do not play an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament will be suspended from a subsequent ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event which will be the next highest point earned ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event within the next 12 months. If an injured player is on-site within the first three days of a tournament to conduct promotional activities over a two day period, a suspension will not be enforced but a 0-pointer will be counted on a player’s ranking.

Q. What are the requirements and rules for player participation for an ATP World Tour 500 tournament?
A. Top 30 players (based on ’08 year-end ranking) must play a minimum of four 500 level tournaments during the calendar year, including at least one event following the US Open (Monte Carlo Masters 1000 event will count towards the minimum of four and all penalties apply):
– A 0-pointer for each event less than four played.
– A 0-pointer for withdrawing from any 500 tournament after the acceptance list is out.
– A 0-pointer for not playing at least one event after the US Open.
– A 0-pointer can be appealed by a player to the same tribunal formed to hear 1000 suspension appeals.
– No suspensions or fines (including no withdrawal and late withdrawal fines).
—————————-

Believe it or not, he HAS to play these events as per ATP rules.

“I believe toward the end of the ‘08 season this matter was discussed, and Nadal had to pull out of the TMC, and Davis Cup due to his worn-out body parts. Now, we have a new season, and what does he do, he adds more hardcourts tournaments to his schedule right from the beginning of January, which to me is rather foolhardy and senseless, considering his complaints only two months prior. This is rather mind-boggling.”

If you want to win the Australian Open, would you go in without any matches since November, or would you play on courts using the same surface to get some rhythm and form going into the first major?

“Isn’t this being a bit overly dramatic? I view the above as Nadal portraying himself as a victim — a victim of his own choices. No one is holding him hostage or putting a loaded gun to his head, forcing him to play exhibition matches, and singles and doubles simultaneously, in non-mandatory tournaments.”

Even just counting mandatory events, the season is already too long. But now according to the wording on the ATP’s site, lesser events must be played too, or there are penalties.

“I’m stumped, does he or doesn’t he want to be a competitive player or is his focus merely on being able to practice playing sports and doing what he wants, whatever that is?”

He wants his body to not be destroyed so that when he retires he can play recreational sports.

I thought it would be a good idea to cut the non-mandatory events too, but according to new ATP rules, you have to play 6 of them. You can access the link to this information by clicking on my name.


Giner Says:

This is a bit off topic, but can someone explain why the Champions Race is not used anymore? Here’s the ATP’s explanation:

———————-
Q. What is the ranking structure and formula in 2009? Why isn’t the Race being used?
A. In 2009, any player who finished in the 2008 year-end Top 30 will be required to compete in four Grand Slam tournaments and eight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments. In addition, the Best 4 ATP World Tour 500 and Best 2 other events (ATP World Tour 250 and Challengers) will be counted towards a player’s ranking. All direct acceptance players at the time of the entry deadline who do not play will receive a 0-pointer in their ranking.

A player who is out of competition for 30 or more days, due to a verified injury, will not receive any penalties. For other players outside the Top 30, the ranking structure that applies, IF QUALIFIED, will be four Grand Slam tournaments and eight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments. The Best 6 with up to 4 ATP World Tour 500 results will also be counted towards the ranking. If a player is not a Direct Acceptance and did not play a Grand Slam or Masters 1000 tournament, he can substitute with ATP World Tour 250 and/or Challengers. The eight players who qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals will count an additional 19th tournament on their ranking.

As part of our changes to the ATP World Tour, we have looked to introduce one rankings system that is as easy to follow as possible. At times, having two, simultaneously running systems – the rankings and the Race – was confusing and difficult for fans to follow. The ATP Rankings represents the sport’s DNA. It demonstrates both a players standing in relation to his fellow pros as well as his position in the ‘race’ to become the year’s ATP World Tour Champion. For that reason we have removed the separate Race points system. It is still being used for doubles because players change partners during the season and because doubles teams can be at different ranking levels, it is impossible to use the ATP Rankings on their own to determine who should qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. For that reason we have kept the Doubles Race for the 2009 season.
———————-

They say that the new ranking system does the job of both ranking systems in one, but I don’t see how it does that. How do they decide who qualifies for the Championships and when they qualify?


Giner Says:

dka:

“1. ) Serve wide with heavy spin and consistently.”

In the Ad court as well? That’s the court Fed has a problem with playing lefties.

“2. ) Top spin and slice backhands down the line with authority”

Could work but he doesn’t do it often because it’s the high part of the net. Fed slices cross court a lot and that’s useless because it goes to Nadal’s forehand, and the slice doesn’t present a problem to his forehand.

“3. ) Come to the Net more often”

Some say this but it’s a double edged sword. Nadal passes as good as anyone.

“4. ) Jump inside the baseline and cut off the angle to Nadal’s serve”

Could work. Nadal’s serve is not that fast or well placed.

“5.) Convert break point opportunities”

You make it sound like that’s as easy to control as hitting a backhand.

“6. )USe the inside-out forehand more frequently to surprise Nadal”

Both players are used to running around the backhand to hit a forehand whenever they get the chance. This isn’t going to surprise Nadal. That is Fed’s best shot, but it also goes to Nadal’s forehand and leaves down the line open.


Giner Says:

“If hardcourt is not user-friendly to his body, then eliminate all of the non-mandatory hardcourt tournaments, and any other non-mandatory tournaments from his schedule, and play only the mandatory tournaments. By so doing, he’ll definitely be able to preserve his body and would not have to worry about hindering his quality of life after tennis. I’m sorry, but this is one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve heard from a tennis player. As a matter of fact, I don’t recall ever hearing any tennis player making such a statement.”

Even taking only the mandatory tournaments, there are 9 Masters 1000: 5 on hard, 3 on clay, and 1 on carpet, 0 on grass. The year end champs is also on hard and two hardcourt grand slams. That’s something that could use some change. How about some grass after the AO instead of hard courts that don’t lead to anything?


jane Says:

“Last year, I saw Nadal and Serena playing an exhibition on WATER!” Maybe CGI?


Noel Says:

Giner,

“They say that the new ranking system does the job of both ranking systems in one, but I don’t see how it does that. How do they decide who qualifies for the Championships and when they qualify?”

I wish they had worded it a bit differently although what they are saying is nothing ‘new’ or incorrect so far as its use for the limited purpose of determining the qualifiers for the world tour finals is concerned. If one thinks about it carefully,the entry system contains the “race” element and that is reflected more and more with each passing week or the 45 times or thereabouts a year that the rankings are released by the ATP. That answer by the ATP obviously ignores the main purpose of the race- to me anyway -which was to show very clearly who were the better performers in the “current” calender year/season esp in the first half and most of the time till the USO. I guess this is what you are REALLY concerned about although I understand that latest performances and tour finals qualification are related. You apparently seem more concerned with the qualification issues given the queries you have raised explicitly in your post.

The entry system started to reflect the race anyway,more or less, by the time the indoor season started. Since the race and entry system converged anyway after Paris(except in a few instances which didn’t normally make any material difference to the qualification),the race was not important for determining the qualifiers. Entry system can determine that as well. As for your second query of “when”,I’d imagine a player’s qualification gets confirmed when it becomes mathematically tenable. The moment a player gets mathematically assured of finishing in the top seven or,at the very least, as the seventh ranked player in the rankings released after Paris,he becomes a qualifier for the ATP world tour finals. The 8th qualifier can be similarly or differently chosen depending on the circumstances prevailing in a particular year.

We have come a full circle now with the entry system’s preeminence being fully restored to avoid confusing the normal tennis follower. We have agreed in the past that the race did indeed serve a purpose. Atp could-and should- have continued with it without giving it too much prominence/publicity and without even mentioning it on the home page.
I am also not totally satisfied with the restructuring of the tour’s events esp w.r.t. the relative points weightages assigned thereof.
The new ranking points structure also puts more premium on winning events and gives Rafa a slight advantage because nobody dominates a particular surface like he does and he can build up even more cushion/buffer by the end of the clay season.

Heck,even the older website design was much cleaner and easier on the eyes. They really need to rethink that colour scheme.


Kroll Says:

Von

I agree that Rafa is being half-witted about the distribution of tour events on the surfaces. Hardcourts are especially worse on his body because of his grinding style and many other players might not feel the same rigors on their body that he does. Muscles and bones do not behave in a simple (linear) fashion in response to stress which means that its not really proportional for every player on the tour. So its really his problem to adapt. Admittedly if things get so bad that the tour has repeated and frequent injuries, things would have to be rethought. But there are many players who get by pretty well. The Tour does not and should not be styled to his method of playing. At least I am glad that his position as number 1 is making him more honest instead of the ridiculous “humble” facade.

Giner

“They had some thick gooey non-newtonian fluid that if you run across it quickly you won’t sink, but if you step slowly you will”

I cant imaging that being the case. That would require a huge amount of training, adaptation and even understanding some physics of the surface, a little too much to expect.


Twocents Says:

Von,

I missed your greeting post. I’m sorry. Thank you so much. Happy Jewish or Chinese New Year — another chance to gobber off lots of food & wine! Believe it or not, tennis is the only thing keeps me grounded, in the sense that I can follow the game no matter where I go. All my friends assume I’m never home. And I couldn’t even commit to any internet community. Not that lucky, you see.

Victory has a thousand mothers. Roddick deserves so much more respect for fighting good and hard thruout the years. And the fact that he and Fed still choose to go on despite all the bashing and disappointment endear them even more to my heart. I’m glad that Roddick has loyalists like you.


Giner Says:

I don’t like the way they renamed everything. ATP World Tour? ATP World Tour Masters 1000? ATP World Tour 500? Barclays ATP World Tour Finals?

It’s not even easy to abbreviate this stuff.

“The entry system started to reflect the race anyway,more or less, by the time the indoor season started. Since the race and entry system converged anyway after Paris(except in a few instances which didn’t normally make any material difference to the qualification),the race was not important for determining the qualifiers. Entry system can determine that as well. As for your second query of “when”,I’d imagine a player’s qualification gets confirmed when it becomes mathematically tenable. The moment a player gets mathematically assured of finishing in the top seven or,at the very least, as the seventh ranked player in the rankings released after Paris,he becomes a qualifier for the ATP world tour finals. The 8th qualifier can be similarly or differently chosen depending on the circumstances prevailing in a particular year.”

What it sounds like is, they still have the race somewhere in their internal system and they’re using it to calculate qualifiers, but they’re not revealing it to us. In other words, if you wanted to work it out mathematically yourself, you still can but you have to sift out last year’s results and it’s not as straight forward.

I agree that the weighting of the finalist isn’t fair. If the winner beat 7 people and the finalist beat 6, they deserve a bit more than 60% of the winner’s spoils. 70% was fair.

“But there are many players who get by pretty well. The Tour does not and should not be styled to his method of playing. At least I am glad that his position as number 1 is making him more honest instead of the ridiculous “humble” facade.”

It depends on their consistency. If someone won all these titles, they might start feeling it eventually.

“I cant imaging that being the case. That would require a huge amount of training, adaptation and even understanding some physics of the surface, a little too much to expect.”

I don’t know how they did it, which is why I want to know. It wasn’t a non-newtonian fluid. There is probably a hard platform underneath the water, but I don’t know what the water would do to the bounce of the ball. It doesn’t sound playable.


Tejuz Says:

well.. why is everybody saying Fed is doomed. Comon, hez the only guy to have reached the finals of all the last 4 GS, defeating all the other top 10ers bar one, the No 1. And except for the berdych match here or Andreev match at US Open or Monfils match at FO, he didnt beat a sweat, except while playing Nadal in the finals. So its basically one person he is coming up short against, and that too by a whisker. Infact he won more points than Nadal at the AO Final(including his numerous give-away points in the 5th set). Till then, Fed was outplaying Nadal and his return of serve was not as bad as you make it out to be. He was consistently putting the ball deep to Nadal’s backhand and infact had a few return winners of that back hand wing.

Yes, i agree he could be more agressive go for volleys more. But its Nadal we are talking about. If you volley it to his forehand he can make the ball curve out of your reach and into the court. Top-spin approach shots to Nadal’s backhand would result in a 180kmph drive past you. A good approach shot would probabaly be a slice, deep to his backhand which stays low and dont give Nadal the chances to just blast the ball past you.
But sadly.. Fed used his slice so rarely… also the drop shots. When he knew Nadal is getting tired, why not make him run back and forth, make him think instead of just running left and right. Also, wrong footing Nadal… we saw fed do it a few times. Nadal anticipates Fed’s shots and starts running saideways and thats why we see him chasing down so many balls, why not do something different than than the most obvious shot at that moment.

But, my opinion is Fed lost that match cuz it was surely in his hands.


kenny todd Says:

Twocents- You know I love it when morons say, “Roddick sux”! It makes me ask them, “have u ever won a major or how many years in a row were u a top five or ten player? Patrick Rafter, Ivaniesic, and Micheal Chang are in the hall of fame so roddick is headed there too and he has a “trump card”… the most fastest serve on record and if that continues to stand like it has then he is okay. Roddick should NEVER play the french open ever again. It is a waste of time and preparation for wimbledon, he should just fake a injury or something. I hope Federer beats Nadal at the French for his final major title and walks off gracefully tied with Peter at 14 which by then will be second because Nadal is going to win the next two, then if he can win at the grandaddy of them all in NY Nadal would win all four. Unless Nadal is injured he will not lose a set to anyone the entire tournament unless its one by federer or some player like almagro,del potro,verdasco, lopez, and forget about Djokovic after his shameful bow out job vs Roddick, what a disgrace to professional sports to pull a move like that for the tenth time, unbelievable but it was somewhat expected in the Roddick camp before the match as I heard in the lockeroom before the match. Its sad though that everyday average people never heard of Federer and cant pronounce Nadal by saying “nasal” but with a “d”. Talk to ya later bro.


Ojo Says:

I think if anyone left Oz with a ton of questions to answer it was Djokovic.
———————————–
Dan, I disagree. Djok was not even in the conversation from the beginning according to blogs like this one and bookies and you know it. I think the one who should answer the ton of questions —everyone’s favorite to win…Andy Murray.


kenny todd Says:

Canas was last years “kryptonite” to Fed during the hardcourt season after the aussie. Berdych scared Roger and many more are waiting to pounce on him when they get the chance in Miami, mentally he is weak right now after the let down of not catching Pete. From here on out Federer is playing every major final vs. Pete, thats it, that is it, the pressure of that is too much for even a great champion like federer.


kenny todd Says:

Andy murray had a good run, ojo give him a break, he lost a five setter to Verdasco who turned out to be just as worthy as federer in both of their matches with Nadalis what I think.


Von Says:

Kroll:

“The Tour does not and should not be styled to his method of playing.”

Absolutely, he came on the tour and found it the way it is, and it was alright then. I’m sure at that time he was extremely thankful he made the tour and was a permanent part of it. Now that he’s had some success, he’s sprouting wings, and wants to dictate and rearrange things to be “Nadal user-friendly”. a prime example of how power corrupts, and the wrong use of power. No one told him it would be an easy ride.

And, you wonder why I feel you’re ‘sweet’. It’s because you’re so very, very honest/fair-minded with respect to your points of view. What I’ve always admired about you despite the fact you like Nadal’s tennis, you’re not a ‘blind fan’. You speak up when you feel he’s insincere and also when you rightfully should defend him, unlike others who just follow blindly.

“At least I am glad that his position as number 1 is making him more honest instead of the ridiculous “humble” facade.”

I’ve always maintained that it’s difficult to know who’s under that facade and I don’t want to hear his uncle speak on his behalf, I want to hear what Nadal himself has to say regarding his feelngs on different issues. Coincidentally, I had the same thoughts as you as to his No. 1 position whereby he cannot hide behind Uncle Tony anym ore. Thus far, he’s made two big blunders, the one about the drug testing, boy, did he throw up a “red flag”, and now the schedule. Now the fun begins.


Von Says:

TwoCents:

“I missed your greeting post. I’m sorry. Thank you so much. Happy Jewish or Chinese New Year — another chance to gobber off lots of food & wine!”

You’re forgiven. Hey, send some of that food and wine my way. I’m not a good cook, but I like to eat. My friends are in awe as to the amount of food I can put away for such a little person.


Von Says:

kenny todd;

“You know I love it when morons say, “Roddick sux”! It makes me ask them, “have u ever won a major or how many years in a row were u a top five or ten player?”

Thanks for the Roddick props. He absolutely deserves more respect than he’s given. Recently, he was dubbed a ‘one trick pony’, by one who’s probably never even one a set of tennis and “ZERO” slams. I read an article which stated that Andy does not fall into the “one slam wonder’ category because he’s made the final of 4 grand slams. He’ll definitely be on the first ballot for the ITF when his time comes around; until then, I’ll enjoy his tennis, and those who don’t like to see him play, can turn off their TVs.


Von Says:

grendel: “I ain’t proud!”

An Americanism from a velly, velly, propah English gent? Cor blimey. Do they still use it, or is it now outdated?


Von Says:

I happen to like the way ATP is showing only the rankings. Considering the way they’ve butchered their website, it’s about the only thing I can find in their extra-terrestrial imagery. Sometimes it looks like 20,000 leagues under the sea.


Milo Says:

Roddick on Roddick:

“Sometimes I tell people that I’m the best bad player of all time.”


Ryan Says:

Roddick has been world no.1 and won a slam and has been in the top 10 for many years. As far as a good tennis player’s life is concerned, it is a big success.He has the fastest serve record. Wat more do u want? I agree that he doesnt have the talent of a safin or federer……but he always fully utilised his talents watever he was capable of doing and was very consistent during these years. I think thats wat really counts.
Wats the point of having all the talent but having nothing to show for it…..example:- berdych , nalbandian etc
People saying that roddick’s career was a waste is just beyong me. I bet their lives are a bigger waste than his will ever be. I respect andy roddick and wat he has acheived given his skills on the tennis court.


Von Says:

Mary:

The link Tejuz posted at 2:04 am. timesonline, has a story on Michael Phelps and WADA’s role in the drug war. Pretty interesting views on cannabis.


Esquilax Says:

With the exception recent generation of Federer (and I’ll squeeze Agassi in), I’d rather watch Edberg or Becker any day over Nadal.

For me, it’s about entertainment value and that feeling you get which makes you want to pickup your own racket next day.

I wish I could be Edberg or Rafter, but I don’t get that from Nadal.


Ryan Says:

To Von: u dont have to waste ur time trying to explain to all the roddick haters out there…..They’ll never get it.


Milo Says:

Just switch ATP, ITF, and IMG in place of MLB and you pretty much get the picture. They are far more concerned with “protecting product,” than making sure the sport is played on an honest level field.

Ha — when the MLB lab did the test he was clean, but not when an independent lab for the Feds did it. Even the bad lab found 7% positives. And why does the players union fight so hard to protect cheats? It is a tale told before: how police officers close ranks to protect their own, the “thin blue line” mentality that has time and time again hidden the few bad cops among the many good cops that are out there.

In the news:

A urine test that then-Giants slugger Barry Bonds took anonymously as part of Major League Baseball’s survey testing in 2003 has tested positive, the New York Times reported on its Web site Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.

The test, which did not come up positive when administered and reviewed by labs assigned by MLB that year, tested positive for traces of steroids when the federal government analyzed it again, the Times reported. Those tests were seized from the lab in a raid by the feds in 2004.

MLB and the Players Association agreed to a survey testing program in 2003 to determine the extent of steroid use in the sport. The tests were supposed to be anonymous and players were not disciplined if they tested positive.

The 2003 samples have been the source of a contentious legal battle between the government and baseball since April 2004, when federal agents investigating BALCO executed a search warrant on Quest Diagnostics and Comprehensive Drug Testing in Long Beach, Calif., the labs that coordinated MLB’s drug testing program, and seized the samples.

MLB and the Players Association filed a lawsuit against the government and after several turns through the courts, the case is now being considered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to a source familiar with the drug program, the labs were supposed to have destroyed positive samples within a year and negative samples after 30 days.

Under an agreement between baseball and its players union, stricter testing, with penalties, would begin in 2004 only if more than 5 percent of the 2003 tests turned up positive. In the end, 5 percent to 7 percent of the 1,438 tests in 2003 were positive. Baseball then adopted testing with penalties.

Left unanswered was why the players union did not have all of the 2003 urine samples and test results destroyed once the anonymous testing had been completed and the percentage of positive tests had been compiled.

The players union told the federal government that it would seek to quash the subpoena. The government then secured search warrants to obtain the samples and test results for the 10 players; the federal agent Jeff Novitzky carried out the raid the next day.

But even with agents at two sites, finding the samples they wanted proved difficult. Because the tests were supposed to remain anonymous, the urine samples were not labeled with players’ names. The urine samples were kept at a Las Vegas location for Quest Diagnostics, and a list with players’ names and corresponding code numbers was kept at Comprehensive Drug Testing’s facility in Long Beach, Calif.

When Novitzky and other agents went to Comprehensive Drug Testing, the employees would not help them, but during their search of the lab, the agents discovered a master list of all the players who had tested positive in 2003. A raid designed to find the results and samples of the 10 players connected to Balco had now produced far more than that.

The federal agents who raided Quest Diagnostics in Las Vegas, armed with the code numbers obtained at Comprehensive Drug Testing, seized the matching urine samples for the 10 players. A month later, agents went back and took the urine samples for all the players who tested positive in 2003.

The fact that Bonds’s 2003 urine sample did not result in a positive when baseball tested it raises questions about whether other players might have avoided detection that year. On Tuesday, Rob Manfred, an executive vice president for Major League Baseball, said that after the 2003 seasons, baseball switched from Quest Diagnostics to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s laboratory in Montreal.

“We switched to the Wada laboratory because they are the gold standard of testing for performance-enhancing drugs,” Manfred said.


jane Says:

Just a slight correction kenny todd; you said:

“Canas was last years “kryptonite” to Fed during the hardcourt season after the aussie.”

That was 2007 when Canas beat Federer twice during the American hard court swing, not last year.


Milo Says:

Weeeeehehehehhehe…look at the crap IMG produces. “World’s Strongest Man,” “American Gladiators,” — anyone who takes one peek at those shows, knows no one is concerned about drug testing. IMG merely wants ratings…the more freakish the performers, the better. And that goes for their production of tennis “shows” as well. IMG understands people won’t watch a 190 lb. natural human try to run with a refrigerator, so they definitely don’t want to sell us Francious Durr’s elbow-leading 3mph powder-push backhand. So we get the amazing Rafa show.

From Wiki:

Trans World International

Trans World International (TWI) is the event arm of IMG. It is the largest independent producer, packager and distributor of sports programs in the world. TWI produces over 5,000 hours of original programming each year for distribution to more than 200 territories.

[edit] Programs

* American Gladiators (with Samuel Goldwyn Television and Four Point Entertainment)
* Battle of the Network Stars
* Trans World Sport
* English Premier League (with the League and Sky Sports, the venture is officially known as Premier League Productions)
* FIFA Futbol Mundial
* Total Rugby (IRB Official Program)
* ASP Tour
* Arab Football Show (Al Mala’eb Al Arabiya)
* World’s Strongest Man
* Britain’s Strongest Man


Twocents Says:

Von:

It’s your good fortune that you can eat at will without worrying about consequencies. Lucky, lucky girl.

kenny todd:

I’d quit following ATP for a while if Nadal indeed wins all four. I don’t have problem with the kid. But can’t enjoy his defensive play, on court antics, and his team’s maneuver.

Milo:

LOL! Thanks.

Esquilax:

Me with you 100%! The Becker/Edberg rival was the best ever. I did just like you said: I ran to tennis court after lots of BB/EB matches :-)).


Ezorra Says:

This week is on of the best week in my life!
VAMOS RAFA!!!


Von Says:

For those Fed fans who are still in shock or are feeling down, the following should be uplifting. Not being a very good computer savvy user, I couldn’t do a shortcut, hence the whole artile at your fingertips.

Australian Open
Melbourne, AustraliaJanuary 28, 2009

Laver Reflects On Federer, Past Memories
© Getty Images
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Rod Laver’s second career Grand Slam. The “Rocket” was available for a press conference at the Australian Open this week to discuss a number of topics, from his thoughts on Roger Federer’s greatness to the style of today’s game to the memories of his playing days. Here are some excerpts from the press conference:

Q. Can you comment a little bit to follow up on Roger Federer’s impact on the game and the whole men’s tennis as intriguing as it looks like now, the situation how you see it there?
LAVER: Yeah, well, Roger has certainly been a credit to the game. Just unbelievable the consistency that he’s had. If you win six Wimbledons and I think (five) US Opens, consistency of brilliance is something that Roger seems to shine on. He hadn’t been sick until this last year. Last year down here seems like he was recovering. It’s unique that a player of that caliber and the amount of tennis he was playing to not have injuries and sicknesses. All the shot making, he’s probably got some of the best mechanics in the game of tennis. He can play at the net, he can play at the baseline, he’s got moving, he’s quick. It seems like he’s improved his serve through this last year. Yeah, the competition is just unbelievable now. It’s great to see. I look at Tsonga. You look at any of the players out there, you know, even with Andy Roddick playing these days. He seems like he’s back and keen on playing better tennis and putting the effort in to make it happen. So you’ve seen it here this year. Djokovic. When you look at Nadal, who is great talent and just a – I shouldn’t say tenacious. It’s just amazing what he can do on a clay court, and now he’s providing it on grass and a hard court now. He’s in his own right a great champion. Roger’s not going to have it his own way now. He’s got a lot of players to beat.

Q. Forty years ago, how vivid are those memories?
LAVER: Well, they’re pretty vivid, especially with Andres (Gimeno). We played professional tennis for five years, you know, just maybe six, eight, ten guys traveling around the world. They weren’t just exhibitions. There was money changing hands every match we played. It wasn’t like, Well, I don’t feel like playing today because I’m not feeling so well. That’s totally different. I think when Andres and I played matches, a full amount of effort goes into it. I still remember a matchup we played up in the Arctic Circle. It was cold, and not many people watching and we were playing indoors. The competition is strong. But, yeah, the memories of maybe playing Tony Roche in the US Open in the final. I mean, to put spikes on, those memories stay pretty close. Playing (John) Newcombe at Wimbledon in the final.

Q. How does it feel when you take a seat on the court that’s been named after you?
LAVER: It’s a wonderful honour. I tell you, I guess, yes, I had a good, long career. To have my name on top of the stadium here is sort of the final part of my whole career. This is the ultimate, to have your career be shown in lights on a big stadium.

Q. You want to come back and play another match? (Laughter.)
LAVER: No, I enjoyed – we had a good length of time. Fortunately, I played until about I think 1978 when I played WCT Finals. A lot of things have happened. I started off in 1956. To go that length of time and not have injuries that cripple your career, I feel very fortunate.

Q. Those days seems like it was artistry. You just get these kind of grinding and bombarding from the back of the court, it wasn’t like that in your day.
LAVER: No. Well, a lot of things go into it. We played three of the Grand Slam tournaments on grass. It wasn’t very good grass except Wimbledon. Brisbane didn’t have the best grass courts in the world. They were green, yeah, but that’s about it. The US Open on grass at Forest Hills was, I actually still remember playing Roy Emerson on one of the outside courts, or the semi grandstand courts but outside. There were huge chunks of grass. They had sodded it the day before. When you’re serving, you’re ripping it up. You’re just tossing all this grass into the backstop. So now you got to try and walk around serve somewhere else, because there’s a big hole here. There’s a lot of things that go on that you would never know today. Those sort of things happen, and the game wasn’t as big as you see today. You see a stadium like this with all the courts, it’s unbelievable, the advances that tennis has made. I think of Wimbledon, having a structure over it now, a roof. I shouldn’t say it’s is a totally different game, but it’s a great game. Open tennis provided that.

Q. Just another question on the heat. How do players have to change their style of play today to cope with the heat?
LAVER: Well, you just don’t get into long rallies. There’s no easy way yes, you’re going to have longer rallies. You just got to try and maneuver yourself around to shorten the points, not just keep the ball in play. Unless you think you’re a lot fitter than the other person. If you’re a little fitter and you can stand the heat, maybe you want to make the dropshots and smashes and just make it uncomfortable for your opponent. That’s also a tactic that goes into the heat of the match.

Q. I just wonder, when you’re watching someone like Roger and you think about your own game and contribution to this sport, Roger is considered perhaps mechanically one of the best players of all-time. You fit into that category also. How do you think you would fit against him?
LAVER: Got to put a wooden racquet back in his hand would be the first thing I would have to do. You learn the game, and wood is so totally different. It’s a smaller head. We had more errors, I’m sure, than today’s players. To see what they do is just incredible. They’ve perfected the way of using this racquet now. You play with what you’re given. To try and put myself in today’s world as a tennis player, it’s almost impossible to know. In our era, we only had a couple guys over 6’3″, Stan Smith and a couple of others at 6’2″ and 6’3″. The rest were six-footers. Rosewall, he’s 5’6″. That’s a different game. Different structure on it.

Q. The change of the countries dominating the tennis in numbers. In your time it was mostly Australians and Americans.
LAVER: I think it’s the dollars and cents. Again, it’s the chance for parents, for their children to get out there and play. They see Pete Sampras making $1 million winning the US Open or Wimbledon, and all of a sudden, that entices a lot of people to be involved. Certainly if you’ve got a talented child, you give them that opportunity to at least play in the world of tennis. For me, it’s a great game.

__________________
Where is Sensational Safin? are you that upset or you’re sitting “Shivah”? Join us, I miss your spunky posts.

Daniel: Are you in mourning also? C’mon, there will be more slams.

Anel: Same goes for you too.


Von Says:

Milo:

Read that link Tejuz posted at 2:04 am. See WADA’s views on Michael Phelps’ recent indiscretion. I think some wicked/jealous person leaked that stuff to the press on Phelps.


Milo Says:

Von:

“wicked/jealous,” and looking for some cash for the pic.

I don’t think WADA gives a damn about “non” performance enhancing drugs like marijuana. Its the IOC that still wants to hang some morals clause over the athlete’s to uphold their version of the perfect Olympic competitor. All this while the IOC’s geezer elite get wined and dined around the world as cities vie for the next Games, “viagra’ing” (with no test for the ultimate PED) high-priced call girls given to them for a free test ride.

The athlete’s need some freedom. If after a tough Wimby loss, Hingo needs to snort a line of coke off her bf’s schlong…so be it, live and let live. If some whacked Asian athlete has to grind down the tusk of the last white rhino and rub it on his nutsack in the hope of improving his chances…let it pass.

But what do they always say about recreational marijuana becoming a “gateway” drug to harder stuff? And by “harder stuff” in Phelps case, it could be PED’s. Or does his latest episode lean one to believe he’s already on them? A female swimmer at Michigan just tested positive for masking agents. Is he part of a program that has “a dirty little/big secret?” You know, swimming has to be right up there with cycling and track as the top druggie sports. All 3 sports involve very little strategy. They’re all about the bodies engine capacity. Phelps is shooting for the next Olympics — why would he put smoke in his golden lungs and risk reducing their power? Is it because he knows a way of getting that extra juice he’ll need?

This is why I’m so fanatical in pointing out that tennis is ripe for cheats.

* Modern power tennis has eliminated most finesse and strategy, putting a high priority on physical dominance.
* Pro tennis is an individual sport, where it is essentially the player against the test, with the ATP showing a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” attitude.
* Tennis is a ballistic sprint sport requiring fast explosions of the legs and arms. The dirty track docs, through years of experience, know exactly what a tennis player would need.
* Tennis has a pyramid pay scale (prize money and endorsements), with the bulk of the money going only to the game’s elite’s. With no long term contracts or guarantee’s, the urge to get to the top must be intense.

From the late 80′s, 90′s, through today, the sport has had some very successful high profile cheats. But as with baseball’s “roid era,” the press, players and management sold us denial first, then when exposed, the “I never knew” BS. Too many pimps, making too much money to give us the truth. Go along to get along. Maybe some day it comes out, or maybe they succeed in protecting the legends of those who cheated. God forbid a scandal will force ESPN to show even more POKER…ouch!


Noel Says:

“What it sounds like is, they still have the race somewhere in their internal system and they’re using it to calculate qualifiers, but they’re not revealing it to us. In other words, if you wanted to work it out mathematically yourself, you still can but you have to sift out last year’s results and it’s not as straight forward.”

I didn’t mean to sound that they still needed the race-internally or publicly- for determining the qualifiers. The rankings system can do that job. However,I agree that the calculations will be more complicated and qualififiers’ determination delayed especially in situations where certain players had done well towards the end of season last year and that would have a bearing on not only their qualification but also on other contenders/rivals’ chances of qualifying. The “when” aspect gets a bit complicated-and delayed- but the “how” aspect is still alright. The last few TMC spots went to the wire,as it were,even in the race system. Now even the first few spots will take a bit more time to be confirmed compared to the erstwhile system esp for players who have to defend a lot of points in the latter part of the season. Murray is a case in point. I am sure he will have a much better first half this year as compared to last year but if he fares similarly poorly-albeit extremely unlikely-in the first half again,his spot may take a lot of time to get confirmed since he will be defending many points in the second half. Of course,this will also depend on how tight the situation is and how his other rivals for those spots are doing.

“It’s not even easy to abbreviate this stuff.”

Yeah,it is esp true for the world tour finals. I inserted the abbreviation in my post yesterday and edited it the moment I realized it had a more common-and uncouth- connotation as well. TMC was so much easier.

“I agree that the weighting of the finalist isn’t fair. If the winner beat 7 people and the finalist beat 6, they deserve a bit more than 60% of the winner’s spoils. 70% was fair.”

70% indeed “appeared” fair to me for whatever reason although some would argue that it should be 50% reflecting the prize money the losing finalist gets compared to the winner. A lot of people like the “winning is everything” motto. Formula one gives 80% to the second finisher and I don’t like it that high because it has cut the excitement on many occasions as the drivers tend to play it safe when the risk-reward ratio is not favourable. The earlier 60% gave much more incentive to the drivers to go for a victory.
I wish the atp clarified the rationale of reducing it to 60%. It’d be fascinating to know about their thinking/logic behind this change. I am sure it hasn’t been done arbitrarily and they must have deliberated a lot about it although I don’t see a compelling need for the change or a clear and obvious benefit.


tennisontherocks Says:

Von, Thanks for the Laver interview. One thing I love about him is how much he appreciates today’s players and what they are doing out there. Every one else just starts with ‘in our good old days of grass, the volleys and the amazing competition and so on’ and trash the current game.


grendel Says:

Von:

not sure about “I ain’t proud” – sounds vaguely old cockney, but I just felt like saying it. Bear in mind, despite my youthful, puerile from time to time (not ashamed) demeanour, I am surprisingly ancient. Surprises even me, sometimes.

Tejuz: agree with you about the slice. Did you know Michael Stich said of Federer’s slice that it was entirely passive, that he didn’t have an aggressive one. Just shows how an expert can be wrong by just not watching enough – Stich in particular has some very surprising gaps in his knowledge. And he’s a bighead, too. What is true is that Fed often seems to be lulled into the passive slice. On those rather unusual occasions when he does employ the low, stinging slice, it is a marvel of elegant venom. Just as a spectator, wish he’d use it more.

I don’t think people are saying Federer is doomed as such. You have – from my point of view – unwittingly found the mark when you say he’s only missing by a whisker. Indeed – but that whisker is everything. Apart from the French, Nadal does tend to beat Fed just by a whisker – but that’s enough. That does the job. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a demolition job, or a tickling of the whiskers job – history records only one thing – defeat. I think Nadal is extremely conscious of this. He is one of these brawler types (I am not here in any sense denying his exceptional skills) who is not only prepared to go all the way, but almost expects to. And he’s very, very good when you’re getting to the end of a long haul – so if you’re going to put him away, don’t prat around (Blake said something like that in the days when he could beat Nadal), but get a bloody move on. Or he’s gonna grind you down. So Federer will give a patchy performance, and appear to match Nadal for long periods – but that’s illusory: all the time, the endgame is looming ominously, and the man who was born for the last bell is preparing to strike.

Federer has to show some ruthlesness – he may die in the attempt, but he won’t cry afterwards – and he just isn’t doing so. You just don’t see a man who’s prepared to get his hands dirty. He wants to be handed his victory as a reward for his virtuoso playing. Against most players, this seems to work. It doesn’t against Nadal, and it won’t. That’s why I am pessimistic about his future prospects. It remains to be seen whether Federer has another side to his character which we have not yet seen. I do think your Times man was a bit premature: “But the curious fact is that Nadal, by defeating his rival, by exposing his vulnerabilities and technical imperfections, by testing his character in ways it has never been tested before, has coaxed Federer into revealing new dimensions of greatness.”

Surely not. I would say exactly the opposite is the case thus far. But:

“But amid the questions, Nadal has also handed his greatest rival a priceless, if daunting, opportunity. It is the same opportunity that Frazier handed Ali, McEnroe handed Borg, Prost handed Senna, Duran handed Leonard and Spassky handed Fischer. It is an opportunity to demonstrate the resilience that so many of Federer’s erstwhile cheerleaders think is beyond him. It is an opportunity to make believers of those who question his mettle.

But ultimately it is an opportunity to make a believer of himself – and that, one imagines, is likely to prove the greatest challenge of all.” Here, one can assent. If Federer does rise to this challenge, it will be an extraordinary turnabout which will cement his legend as nothing else could. But the price is very high, and expectations have been dashed too often for hope to be anything but a little wistful.


Kroll Says:

Esquilax
——–

“With the exception recent generation of Federer (and I’ll squeeze Agassi in), I’d rather watch Edberg or Becker any day over Nadal.”

You like what you like, and in fairness I used to be a pretty huge Edberg fan and Becker hater(during their rivalry and I was kid then so..)but I still find Rafa’s game very entertaining and inspirational. He is an unorthodox player all said and done and pulls off some seriously crazy shit. To me the idea of a player with lesser talent who builds his game up every step of the way by sheer will is an amazing thing. That intelligent application and willpower can overwhelm any amount of talent is a very useful lesson.

grendel
——–

Rafa has started to use the slice a Lot especially defensively and its not aggressive at all. In the game against verdasco where the latter was aggressive throughout which forced Rafa to be defensive, I was often surprised how often he fell back on the slice to the point that I wouldn’t see the two handed backhand used at all for long stretches of time. But as a defensive strategy, I must say that he uses it very effectively. Its very efficient to use and the fact that it takes the pace and bounce of the ball is a huge plus especially when one is at a disadvantage.

Regarding Federer, I can see him winning at least one more US Open and no way is Rafa beating him there. Its possibly the fastest surface of all the slams these days and it kills bounce like none other. And its at the end of the year when Rafa is at his most susceptible given the travails all year long. Like Borg, I think Rafa is never ever going to win USO BTW.


Von Says:

Kroll:

“Regarding Federer, I can see him winning at least one more US Open and no way is Rafa beating him there. Its possibly the fastest surface of all the slams these days and it kills bounce like none other. And its at the end of the year when Rafa is at his most susceptible given the travails all year long. Like Borg, I think Rafa is never ever going to win USO BTW.”

I agree. The USO will be the elusive GS for Nadal as the FO is for Fed. Unless Nadal develops a super serve, which i can’t imagine happening, I’d say the USO is unattainable. However, it could happen depending on who’s on the other side of the net. The draw could fizzle out where only a few deadbeats are left and Nadal will have his chance. Same for Fed at the FO. Anything’s possible.

BTW, Did you see I answered your post of last night?


Kroll Says:

Von

“It’s because you’re so very, very honest/fair-minded ”

Thats a huge compliment and thanks for that but I am not sure its quite true. All you have to do is say something nasty about Pete and feel my wrath, whatever the reason. I can be as blind as a deaf bat on occasion.


Kroll Says:

Milo
—-
“But what do they always say about recreational marijuana becoming a “gateway” drug to harder stuff?”

I am not sure about that. Marijuana is mostly harmless, not addictive and pretty mellow. While there might be reasons for it being banned in real life (abscence of an instant test like in the case of alcohol) I see no reason to consider that in sport. Many people would question pot users as being bad examples (considering how rife teen drinking is worldwide) but Coke is a whole new deal. If the ATP takes the notion of sporting icons as role models seriously(which it should), seriously addictive drugs in stronger light. So I d say that Hingis has no buisness snorting coke.

Also
“You know, swimming has to be right up there with cycling and track as the top druggie sports.”

Thats in fact false. Unlike track, which is mostly power, swimming depends hugely on technique. Its more like tennis. You are interacting with a whole environment (a complex fluid dynamical problem to be more precise) and efficiency, technique and intelligence are more important than power (In fact the best swimmers in the world generate Less thrust than most) Once human swimming becomes a solvable physics problem (Its still too complex as far as the present state of the Art in fluid mechanics goes – Its for example vastly harder to understand than a airplane flying) you can expect a whole jump in the swim timings.


Daniel Says:

Von, I think I speak honestly on behalf of all Fed fans: thanks for your support!!!

I read some posts here in a midle of a polemic topic that I didn’t want to take part of. I wait for things to calm down a litle..

I am happy for your guy, but his “bad luck” placed him on Fed’s draw, again! Now he is n. 6 and close to n. 5, with a solid performnace in Wimbledon (I hope he lands in Nadal’s draw, a long time since they last play on grass, if they ever did) he can finish the year top 5.

Tejuz

You mentioned Fed’s volleys and I agree with you. Fed tends to hit flat and deep, which Nadal loves cause he runs in the baseline. The voleys most be shorter and with more angles. One of the comentors couldn’t understand why Fed served into Nadal’s forehand in the adv side he shoulg go more to the centre serve.


Mary Says:

Kroll- what you wrote about swimming and tennis are so far away from reality. No disrespect to you.
Von: The press has been skipping over the part of the story where the US swimming head honcho person bribes the news of the world reporter.


Kroll Says:

Mary
“what you wrote about swimming and tennis are so far away from reality. No disrespect to you.”

It would be nice if you told me why you think that. Also I am very wrong about a lot of things so your proving me wrong would be anything but disrespectful.


grendel Says:

Nadal is never gonna win the US Open? When will people learn!

Nadal has an extraordinarily skilful management team around him – I infer (actually, I have no idea, but what else can account for the remarkably step-like progress he makes?) – who approach the various goals systematically. The US Open is the one major prize eluding our man, therefore, all hands on deck, sights on New York, each man to his post, no excuse for failure permitted.

Rafa gets tired by this time of year? Very well, arrange things so he damn well DOESN’T get tired. Shouldn’t be too much to tax your ingenuity, should it?

Court’s faster than our boy is used to, hard on the knees and so on. Then bloody well get him used to the fast courts – you know the drill, it’s worked every time so far, roll your sleeves up and make the appropriate arrangements. Stop whinging and damn well get on with it – Rafa himself is itching to go, but we need your cooperation and you, my friend – well, I think you know what you need, and you know what you have to do to get it. And if you’re not prepared to get down to it, there’s plenty as – ah, I see you’ve got the message.

Now, the knees – well, just to let you into a little secret, things aren’t quite as bad on this front as they’re cracked up to be. Just between you, me and the gatepost (but keep it hush-hush), we reckon Rafa’s one of the fittest guys on tour, and he’s got at least another 5 or 6 years at the top. All those alarmists prophesying another two years at most? Heh, heh. Rather suits us, you know…

We will, of course, accept 2009 for project US Open, that will be a nice little bonus. However, we have decided to take it in 2010, we feel there is no room for ambiguity here. We tend not to plan too far ahead – experience has shown this not to be conducive to optimum achievement – nevertheless, we like to have drafts of various possibilities, here they are, lining these shelves as you can see, awaiting perusal and development at the suitable moment. However, confidentially, we can tell you that we have concluded that the sum of 20 grand slams constitutes a realistic, albeit cautious, goal for Rafa to aim at. Of course, we don’t want anyone to get wind of this – we have observed with great interest how Roger Federer has been undone by all the speculation, and are determined to avoid that particular cul-de-sac. In this respect, all the alarmist talk of our man’s propensity to injury, the debilitating nature of his physical game and so on – quite frankly, the purest moonshine, actually, but keep that to yourselves – has proved highly advantageous to our man’s prospects. For the time being, he is the invisible champion. Time enough later for public acclaim, plaudits and so on. Cigar?


Von Says:

tennisontherocks:

You’re welcome. Yes, Laver is truly a class act and a very open-minded champion, who even though has achieved so much has remained humble and realistic. Pure class!!!!

__________________
Kroll:

“Thats a huge compliment and thanks for that but I am not sure its quite true. All you have to do is say something nasty about Pete and feel my wrath, whatever the reason. I can be as blind as a deaf bat on occasion.”

It’s true! Even tholugh we only interact through the written word I can tell a genunine person from a phoney, and a phoney/baloney is no you.

We won’t have any fights regarding Pete because he’s my all-time fave too. I suppose the only fight we’ll have is who loves him more.

_______________
Daniel;

Yolu’re welcome. I’ve been there and done that, sol i kn olw how painful it can be to watch hour guy lose, boo hoo. Smart idea waiting until the storm’s over. I’ve been doing that myself off and on recently.

Yes, unfortunately, Andy landed on Fed’s side of the draw again. This is a joke, but I’m sure you remem er the many times I’ve stated that Fed requisitions Roddick — he just loves Andy. I’m happy Andy made it to the SFs. If he can do well at Wimby, I’m sure he’ll move up further. I hope for the best and so should you for your player .


Von Says:

Daniel;

Typos galore. “sol i kn olw how painful it can be to watch hour guy lose, boo hoo.”

Should read: “So I know how painful it can be to watch your guy lose, boo hoo.”


Mary Says:

Kroll: I’m not gonna bore you with a laundry list of swimmers. Sites like Steroid Nation-affiliated with University of Wisconsin(?– some place with lots of cows) do a good job listing.

Von:
Nadal Supports Phelps
http://www.tennisweek.com/news/fullstory.sps?inewsid=6626416

Is he simple or what? Personally, I love, love, love that reporters asked HIM about this.

Moving on to other things, Did everybody purchase their tickets for the Williams/SerbGirls match at MSG?


Von Says:

Ryan Says:

“To Von: u dont have to waste ur time trying to explain to all the roddick haters out there…..They’ll never get it.”

Thanks bro, I appreciate your support. I’ll try to remember that when I read the nonsense that’s written.


jane Says:

Is pot a performance enhancer? I highly doubt it! Thus, does Phelps smoking it, particularly while he’s not competing, constitute the breaking of any sort of sporting rule? I am aware that it is still an illegal drug, but I am speaking purely from a sporting perspective.

Nadal’s point in that article seems to be that Phelps was on sabbatical from sport, and while the photo may’ve tarnished Phelp’s reputation, obviously with sponsors, he’s not done anything “wrong” related to his sporting performance. Plus I believe the article implies Phelps wasn’t smoking anything (what? he didn’t inhale? Obama did, didn’t he?). Yeah right. Anyhow, I wonder if Eurpoeans have a more lax attitude to marijuana?


kenny todd Says:

Jane, Phelps should be stripped of his medals because the canibus gave him the ability to take in such a high calorie diet which gave him such an advantage over others. He disgraced his country but what else would you expect from an American boy. Phelps is 23 going on 12. He wants us to believe he did’nt inhale, then he will say it was the only time he ever done it. Most young men smoke the first bowl around twelve like my friends. By 15, the entire highschool was smoking it and if you were’nt you did’nt matter anyway. His d.u.i. was another disgrace, I mean, how many chances does this bum get?


Mary Says:

Jane: I just posted that because it’s just the wrong thing to say and why were the reporters asking him in the first place. It’s really odd that he seems to be the only one who has made a statement.

Phelps is not the ordinary 23 yo. He is a multimillionaire with all of the arrogance that goes with it. Kenny, thank you for mentioning the underage dui. What the hell was he thinking?!

IIRC the AO changed it’s court for Hewitt and the clay courters threatened a boycott of Wimbledon unles they changed the court. Both times it worked. I hoped we’re not heading for more of that nonsense.


Kimmi Says:

Hi everybody, I have enjoyed reading some excellent comments here since the end of AO, things have been heating up a lot here, but all in all its been fascinating..

Von: I feel i just have to say this to you. I think Roddick did very well at the AO, he actually went above his expectations. He beat everyone he was suppose to beat and also made a sweet revenge to the Djoker. To beat Federer will always be a very tall order, I know he has done it before but it is difficult. He made a excellent beginning of the year and well done to him.

The worry for Federer fans is the tactics or the non use of them, he is needed a coach since Roche left just for the matches up against Nadal,look at the time where he came close to beating Nadal over 5 sets in Rome, and mind you this was clay…Roche was his coach then.

He needs someone to analyse his mistakes against Nadal, like his midcourt Backhands, he needs to slice more low to the backhand where Nadal will find it difficult to get it up and over the ball quick enough, he needs to be more aggressive on break point opportunites especially on 2nd serves (this has happened on 3 of the last 5 occasions against Nadal ie Wimbledon 08, Australian Open 09, Monte Carlo 08) he should run around his backhand a bit more especially when receiving serve, move out the backhand side so Nadal will change his approach to serve.

Federer needs to keep his chin up as he should know that he can have the beating of Nadal,he just needs to believe rather than hope.


Kroll Says:

Mary, Milo

Crap! I had the wrong quote. I have no idea about doping in swimming. My whole rant was with reference to this quote by Milo.
“All 3 sports involve very little strategy.”

Jane
“Yeah right. Anyhow, I wonder if Eurpoeans have a more lax attitude to marijuana?”

Probably. And Southern Californinans if I might add. Though I think Rafa’s support of Phelps is a cool thing, its funny how he’s suddenly moved on from saying generic trite nonsense to reeling off a string of zingers over the course of a week!


Kroll Says:

kenny todd

“gave him the ability to take in such a high calorie diet which gave him such an advantage over others”

Are you serious?! Ten steps backward and a step forward, how is that an advantage?


Von Says:

grendel:

That’s some conversation you’re have there re Nadal’s quest for the USO. But, with whom, if I can be so bold as to enquire? Hilarious, ha, ha.


Mary Says:

Kroll: C’mon swimming is just wait for the beep, jump in the pool, swim, swim, swim, swim, TURN, swimswimswimswim(getting faster) swim, STOP.
:>


Kroll Says:

grendel

“We will, of course, accept 2009 for project US Open, that will be a nice little bonus. However, we have decided to take it in 2010″

Whats in 2011, Project Learn to Fly?
As far as he has come and as impressive as his management team is, I still think there are limits to what he can achieve. I dont think he’s retiring early or that his knees will give way. Winning USO is still an uphill task and I would question his ability to do that. In any case, that was a very entertaining post.


Mary Says:

Von: I was wondering the same thing. It’s interesting and passionate.


Von Says:

kenny todd:

“What else can we expect from an “American’ boy?” American boys usually turn out to be Nobel Peace prize winners, et al. You name, they can do it, good, bad, and indifferent. They’re humans just like every other male in the world. Unfortunately for them, or funtunately, they are born into a country that’s a “world power” and have that terible stigma to live with, albeit a damn good one, if I might add.

Why should Phelps be stripped of his medals? Just because he’s American, right? Or supposedly in this case it’s because cannibis gave him the huge appetite to consume humungous quantities of calories? His appetite just couldn’t stem from his system burning up large amounts of calories, creating hunger which translates to imbibing tons and tons of calories? Oh no, that’s too simple. He’s a doper who won his medals by foul means.

For those who don’t know about cannibis and its effects, let me share with you this small tid bit, it’s the one substance that won’t evade testing, due to its long life in the fat cells of the human body. Cannibis remains for 30 days in the fat cells. It has this nasty habit of hanging around, and even though someone who’s stopped using it, if they’re tested within that 30 day time period, AFTER their last ingestion, it’ll make a liar out of them. EPO, on the other hand, exits the body at an accelerated rate — the more the activity, the higher the rate of excretion. Coke and other substances has a 3 to 5 day life and then it’s gone.

Another side effect of cannibis, is its ability to slow down the user. Hence, it would have been foolhardy for Phelps to use it while training, because it would have defeated his efforts and goals to increase stamina and break the records. Instead, he would have ended up consuming tons of calories while turning into a little butterball, zonked out of his skull, and not be able to put one arm in front of the other. That’s a smart work ethic, don’t you think, but what can one expect of an “American boy”?

In view of the foregoing, if Phelps had been using cannibis while training, it most certainly would have been detected whenever he had to submit to his screens and there would have been visible signs. This would not have been a case of the end justifying the means.

I suppose Americans are capabale of every bad thing, including being extremely stupid, yeah, no?


Kroll Says:

Mary

“swim, swim, swim, swim,swimswimswimswim(getting faster)”

I amount I have to say on this subject could fill book. Ok thats rather self-aggrandizing. But point is, its Not a matter of power! As I said before, the best swimmers in the world generate less thrust than the majority of us (probably even you). So how is it just “swim,swim,swim”?


Mary Says:

Kroll: My ability to generate thrust ain’t none of your business. Stop reading the bathroom walls; it’s all lies.
It was a joke, not the sentence before this, just the “swim, swim,…” stuff. Just kidding around with you.


Von Says:

Mary:

“Is he simple or what? Personally, I love, love, love that reporters asked HIM about this.”

Agree with you, but it’s certainly causing red flags to go up all of the time.

_________________
Kimmi:
Thanks for your kind words on Roddick. I hope he continues in this vein because he needs to re-assert himself in the tennis world.


jane Says:

Kroll,

“Though I think Rafa’s support of Phelps is a cool thing, its funny how he’s suddenly moved on from saying generic trite nonsense to reeling off a string of zingers over the course of a week!”

Indeed! Has the hard court title transformed Rafa into some sort of spokesperson? It is kind of unusual to hear these sorts of zingers coming from him – I mean saying Phelps “can do what he wants to”! Wow. And the whole diatribe about surfaces and testing. It’s kind of refreshing to have him speaking out like this. I hope it continues.

—————————–

Mary,

Okay, I know the “generating thrust” comment was for Kroll but that was hilarious – nearly knocked me off my seat. LOL!


Von Says:

jane:

“Indeed! Has the hard court title transformed Rafa into some sort of spokesperson? It is kind of unusual to hear these sorts of zingers coming from him – I mean saying Phelps “can do what he wants to”! Wow. And the whole diatribe about surfaces and testing. It’s kind of refreshing to have him speaking out like this. I hope it continues.”

It appears that it’s a sujbect matter very dear to his heart. I also think a lot of his public statements in interviews are scripted for him by his publicist.


jane Says:

Slightly off topic…

But I just read that both Djokovic and Tsonga are going to play at Halle this year with Roger. This is a switch for Djokovic, and it’s an interesting one. He’s deliberately going around Nadal, to whom he lost in that excellent finals at Queen’s last summer. Maybe Djokovic is hoping for a chance to play Federer on grass? I don’t know but it looks like Halle will have a few more big names this year, which is good, as most of them played at Queens last year. It also means someone like Roddick or Murray could go really deep at Queens.

As a viewer though, I’ll have to figure out a way to watch both!

——————————————-

Von – it’s quite probable that those sorts of statements are written by a publicist, or at least rehearsed /discussed ahead of time. There’s no doubt these guys, esp. the ones on the players’ council, are doing a little politicking, be it personally motivated or more for the greater good of all the players. Or maybe both?


Ezorra Says:

Indeed! Has the hard court title transformed Rafa into some sort of spokesperson? It is kind of unusual to hear these sorts of zingers coming from him – I mean saying Phelps “can do what he wants to”! Wow. And the whole diatribe about surfaces and testing. It’s kind of refreshing to have him speaking out like this. I hope it continues.
I’m so glad to hear this from Novak fan like you. You are very honest in your opinion. Even though I like Nadal’s old attitude more, I still can accept some of his opinions now especially when it comes to the matter of protecting his right to anything. (Actually, he is talking about the surfaces thing like forever – it’s not that new actually…).

I’m also very happy to see Nadal reducing his chronic toweling and ball-bouncing habits (from 15-20 times to just 3-5 times) – just like your beloved Novak. Maybe the new outfit has effectively decreased his toweling routine, who knows – I still hate the outfit though!

“Maybe Djokovic is hoping for a chance to play Federer on grass?”

To me, he has better chance to beat Federer on clay more willingly than the grass.

Anyway, good luck! :)


Ezorra Says:

Jane says:

“Indeed! Has the hard court title transformed Rafa into some sort of spokesperson? It is kind of unusual to hear these sorts of zingers coming from him – I mean saying Phelps “can do what he wants to”! Wow. And the whole diatribe about surfaces and testing. It’s kind of refreshing to have him speaking out like this. I hope it continues.”

I’m so glad to hear this from Novak fan like you. You are very honest in your opinion. Even though I like Nadal’s old attitude more, I still can accept some of his opinions now especially when it comes to the matter of protecting his right to anything. (Actually, he is talking about the surfaces thing like forever – it’s not that new actually…).

I’m also very happy to see Nadal reducing his chronic toweling and ball-bouncing habits (from 15-20 times to just 3-5 times) – just like your beloved Novak. Maybe the new outfit has effectively decreased his toweling routine, who knows – I still hate the outfit though!

“Maybe Djokovic is hoping for a chance to play Federer on grass?”

To me, he has better chance to beat Federer on clay more willingly than the grass.

Anyway, good luck! :)


jane Says:

Hi Ezorra,

It’s just nice to see Nadal take a slightly more ambassadorial role, and be a little less self-deprecating. After all, he is number 1 and has earned the right to speak out and to do so on a larger scale than perhaps in the past.

You know me: I like the out-spoken type! :-)

I am not sure about Djoko’s chances against Federer on either clay or grass. Federer seemed to have Novak’s number at Monte Carlo last year (which was another retirement, sigh, even my patience is running thin), but Djoko did play really well on clay at Hamburg and Roland Garros, so I guess you never know. I’d like to at least see Novak play Roger on grass – just to see how they match up. Obviously Roger would be -by far- the favorite, but since they’ve never played on that surface, it’d be exciting to see.

Congrats, b.t.w., on your favorite guy’s win; I was really happy for him as it was simultaneously a break through on at a hard court slam and a solidification of his number 1 rank, which he waited for and worked for so long!

Cheers!


Ezorra Says:

“Congrats, b.t.w., on your favorite guy’s win; I was really happy for him as it was simultaneously a break through on at a hard court slam and a solidification of his number 1 rank, which he waited for and worked for so long!

Cheers!”

-Thank u so much! :)


Ryan Says:

I think fed is not playing like a champ. He doesnt have that killer instinct of a champion.Champs believe that nobody can beat them.But Fed has this feeling that nadal can beat him and its gotten to him so much now. Maybe he should take some advice from Michael Phelps.People like Thorpe said that Phelps won in Athens coz there was no competition. But Phelps proved a point by coming back in Beijing and winning more golds and also beating this new competition by milliseconds. Thats wat true champions do.Live upto the expectations.Dont get it twisted , I do think talent wise he could be the greatest player ever but not as a champion.

I can even understand his problems on clay with nadal. But once he started bending down to nadal on grass I knew its gonna be tough for him.2008 was the year. The 13 slams he got was more like a dedication from fed’s competitors for his talents wit a racket.Maybe nadal is like phelps but not fed.

When it comes to nadal, I dont know if anyone ever noticed but there is not much media coverage when nadal won AO or wen he wins the french for that matter. Its almost like everyone wants fed to win and nadal winning slams is like an anomaly. Its sad. Its no wonder nadal rips these french open punks. They all want federer to win it and give nadal the toughest draw and everything that favours federer. But he still won it last year in straight sets. Thats wat Nadal is about.

To be honest I dont like Nadal’s game which is the main reason i call him a roid junkie but he is the champion of champions who deserves better respect. I have to admit that.


Kroll Says:

“My ability to generate thrust ain’t none of your business. ”

Brilliant!


Milo Says:

Kroll,

I’m not saying having great technique in swimming is going to hurt you, but it is essentially an engine power sport. The key to swimming is to jump in the water and then figure out some flailing method that prevents you from sinking/drowning. If you say the best swimmers are using Zen power to “think” their way through the water…please explain.

My point: As the wall came down and East Germany fell, the greatest drug cheat doctors in the world needed employment. Many traveled to China to help the Chinese Swim Federation with their training. China went from a country with swimmers who could only do the dog-paddle, and no pool to train in, to setting world records the next year. Engine helps!


Twocents Says:

When Fed lost to Djork in straight sets at AO08, it remainded me of Micheal Stich beat Boris Becker in WO 1991 final. The former signaled end of Fed’s hard court reign, and the latter Becker’s WO reign. Djork lost lots of credit after Fed’s mono story surfaced. But hey, player’s physical is automatically part of game. Becker was dead tired when he lost in straight to Stich, too. I felt so vindicated when Fed himself pointed out last week that Djork played so well at last year’s AO, that he might have still lost it even if he’s in perfect shape. My point is: USO is no way Fed’s to take, even after we take out Nadal. Amid all this hype about Nadal dethrone Fed, let’s not forget it’s Djork, imo, that stopped the red hot Fed at AO 08 and put a first real dent on Fed’s armor.


Twocents Says:

Von,

What is it with this Laver guy that he could make Fed cry like a baby: in victory (AO 06) and in defeat? LOL.

I’m too much a bad guy myself to read too much into what these old glory’s words: if Laver’s talk occured after Fed’s defeat, you’d see quite a different tone. This happened way too many times with Borg, JMac, etc. I respect all these guys. But they unfortunately become part of all these GOAT crap — which I never buy. Just like one can not change time, one can never compare players from different era.

Ryan,

There seems plenty of media coverage on Nadal’s wins. Even if there’s indeed more than necessary Fed stories, it’s perceivable cuz this past AO was more about someone’s record drawing slam no.14, than someone else’s slam no.6 and hardcourt no.1. Nadal’s been no.1 for less than 6 months. It takes time to build up an empire.

Nadal has been phenominal both on and off court. Unfortunately, a coward and ultra conservative person I am in real life, I follow tennis to satisfy my own offensive fantasy. That’s why I enjoy Fed, Roddick, and Djork’s attacking game much more. I can only respect but can not enjoy Nadal’s will power cuz: 1) it’s an integral part of his grinding game which is not to my taste; 2) it’s overshadowed by his on/off court antics. There’s nothing wrong to push limits on all fronts: medical time outs, on court coaching, etc. And I hail team Nadal for its unparalled success. But again, I watch tennis to find asylum from my own daily business tricks. I’ve written tens of biz plans and strategies. I don’t need any more trick amusement from tennis. I just want to see players play their hearts out on court. And after all biz bargains, it’s refreshing to hear young players say unscripted stupid things and behave foolishly off court. Toni Nadal runs his own tennis school. He’s soooooo good! Fed needs to find himself an uncle.

Everyone’s different. I have no problem with others enjoy Nadal and worship him :-)). I actually feel we maybe witness last batch of raw pro tennis from Fed/Roddick alike. All future kings must follow Nadal’s path of nailing it down with an overall strategy on and off court.

Top story: Wozniacki Ousts Sharapova At US Open; Federer, Dimitrov Start Slow, Tsonga-Murray Monday
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