Nadal Weathers Djokovic Storm, Wins Fifth Straight Monte Carlo Masters Title
by Sean Randall | April 19th, 2009, 11:22 am
  • 202 Comments

Well, that was a pretty good start to the clay season, wasn’t it? Novak Djokovic gave Clay King Rafael Nadal all he could handle today in the final of the Monte Carlo Rolex Tennis Masters, but in the end it was Nadal too good winning 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 for a record fifth consecutive title in Monaco.

I thought going into the match that Djokovic had a shot a set in this one, and credit to him he played about as well as he’s played in a very long time, and he took it. Novak was firing winners, playing aggressive, attacking tennis and executing on all levels in that second set and into the third. Problem is, to beat Rafa you need to maintain that standard for at least two sets because as Nadal showed again, there is just no one mentally tougher right now than the Spaniard. And on clay he’s doubly tough.

The set win for Djokovic snapped a 31-set winning streak Nadal enjoyed in Monte Carlo and will no doubt give the Serb heaps of confidence going forward.

As I said with Andy Murray, I think today Novak also laid down some good groundwork with what’s to come. For nearly an hour he was doing a lot of damage and scoring a lot of points against Rafa by taking it to Nadal. And to me that’s the way to beat Rafa on clay: Attack, attack, attack.

And despite all the tennis he’s played the last few days, I thought physically Novak held up daily well though faded a bit at the end, but I think those long, grueling early games in the third set did more damage mentally than bodily. Hopefully for him he knows that with his all-court power game he can really hurt Nadal on the clay. Now he just needs to find the belief that he can maintain it. Easier said than done! Regardless, it’s good to see Novak playing top-level tennis again.

For Rafa, I’m still of the mindset he’s going to lose a few more sets this clay campaign then in the past, maybe even drop a match. He’s still going through some bad patches here and there which I’m sure Uncle Toni will try to hammer out over the next month. But you saw just how tough it is to win one set against Rafa, imagine winning two or three!

While Novak and Murray now get a break, no rest for Nadal who’s off to Barcelona this week, then to Rome the week after before a week off and then Madrid. It’s a beast of a schedule, let’s see just how well Rafa Beast manages and sticks to it.

Overall, I think Monte Carlo’s is a great indicator of what’s to come, and from what I’ve seen this week right now in my French Open Final Four I have Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and… Davydenko. Still early, lots can change and I’ll keep an eye on Juan Martin Del Potro, Roger Federer and David Nalbandian for signs of life. But right now, it’s Vamos.


Also Check Out:
Federer Reverses Monte Carlo Decision, Will Take On Nadal
Streaks That Ended After Rafael Nadal Lost To David Ferrer Today In Monte Carlo [Chart]
Djokovic Withdraws From Monte Carlo
Novak Djokovic: My Wrist Injury Isn’t That Bad, I Will Play Madrid!
Novak Djokovic Was A Busy Man After Winning Monte Carlo [Video]

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202 Comments for Nadal Weathers Djokovic Storm, Wins Fifth Straight Monte Carlo Masters Title

Cindy_Brady Says:

Congratulations to Nadal. 5 Monte Carlos in a row…Spectacular under any circumstances.

The draw at Rome will be very interesting. No one wants to play Nadal in the semis (Djokovic or Murray). Actually, if either of them draw Federer in the Semis it will be a + assuming Federer doesn’t turn things around and (Djokovic and Murray) stay in form.

Djokovic and Murray I would love to see play head to head on red clay. That match would be very exciting but being 3 and 4. It won’t happen with Nadal always in the way. Still can’t see either of them ultimately beating Nadal in a best of 5 contest at Roland Garros. However, Murray’s 2nd set heroics yesterday and Djokovic’s 2nd set win today show promise.

We we learn much more at Rome.


Duro Says:

Nothing but proud is what I feel and what Novak should feel too. Great privilege to watch such a match; it was a present to all tennis lovers. After Hamburg ‘08 I thought it couldn’t be possibly better, but today it was a rhapsody of the game. Thank you Ezorra, your guy is something extraordinary, you are blessed to have someone like him to root for. Jane, Sar, all of other Nole’s supporters, be happy and proud, Nole deserved it today.


Janadev Says:

First??


zola Says:

Vamos Rafa!

what a match. Congratulations to both Rafa and Djoko and all their fans here. This was a great match. Djoko did something that no one had done since 2006 . won a set off Rafa, breaking him 3 times. I was really scared and was preparing myself for the possibility of a Rafa loss.

The whole second set and beginning of the third, Djoko played perfect tennis. I think in the second he had 100% success at the net. In the third, Rafa changed things a bit and got ahead. It was a great final and I am very happy for the outcome.

I think none of the players in MonteCarlo are at their best, considering the fact that this is their first clay court tournament. So, we might see better matched in the tournaments to come.

I was a bit disappointed at Rafa’s serve. He needs to have more first serves in and perhaps more effectively. His concentration was better but still perhaps not a 100%.

Great start of the clay season for Rafa, Djoko and Murray. Fed might be a bit disappointed, but things might get better for him in Rome.

no rest for Rafa as he goes to Barcelona to defend another title and then to Rome. He is insane!but love you Rafa! keep winning!


Sean Randall Says:

I will add that there is a really three-way battle for the No. 2 ranking, and that’s ultra-important for the French Open positioning because the No. 2 guy will of course not have to deal with Nadal in the French Open semifinals.

Murray’s a longshot, but if Novak can grab the No. 2 before Roland Garros that really puts him in the driver’s seat for the final there.


Shan Says:

What a match. I agree with you Sean, a consistent attacking game is the way to beat Nadal. But good luck with the consistency aspect, it’s not easy!


zola Says:

Duro,
you have all the rights to be proud of Djoko. After all the talks about his level, his fall to no 4, etc., he responded with some excellent matches and two master series final in a row. I wrote after their Miami final that Murray and Djoko stood together as the future of tennis and we saw that here in MC and I am sure we will see more.

This has been an incredible year of tennis thanks to all the young guns.


fed is afraid Says:

congrats to the soon to be GOAT!!


Von Says:

fed is afraid:

“congrats to the soon to be GOAT!!”

Rod Laver, who’s considered the greatest player, has stated on numerous occasions that there isn’t a ‘greatest of all time’ player, and eras cannot be compared, but greatest can only be attributed to the player who has excelled in his era over all of the others. I’ve heard Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Bille Jean King echo Rod Laver’s sentiments, and I’m thinking that they all know more about tennis than we would ever hope to know.


zola Says:

It seems that winning MC this year Rafa made history twice.

no one had won a master series five times in a row!


Cindy_Brady Says:

Sean Randall,

I don’t see Djokovic overtaking Federer for the #2 ranking before the seeding are announced for the French open. Djokovic has to defend 1000 pts at Rome. He has nothing to gain and everything to lose there. Rafa will be hungry to regain that title. I see Djokovic losing pts in that tournament.

While, Federer only reached the Quarterfinals last year and received 250pts. He surely will be looking to do better this time especially after losing early in Monte Carlo. Just a semi-final appearance will give him more pts and keep him #2 while Djokovic loses points.

Don’t see Nadal losing in Rome.


zola Says:

fed is afraid,
A GOAT discussion is baseless. the eras change, the surfaces, the equipment, the players, …it is apples and oranges and every other fruit!

Let’s just be happy with what Rafa is doing right now. I hope he can stay healthy and can keep this up.


Nadal is the GOAT Says:

All those who are saying there can’t possibly be any GOAT is missing a critical point. Your logic is only valid within a limit. For example, if Roger Federer finished on 16 Grand Slams ( which he won’t be able to do) there would possibly be a debate about whether he is the GOAT or Pete Sampras is. The same applies to Pele and Maradona.

But when someone like Nadal goes on to win 25 grand slam titles he is head and shoulders above the rest. He is like Babe Ruth of baseball and Sir Don Bradman of cricket. Like them he will always be considered the GOAT.


Cindy_Brady Says:

I’m thinking, these days everyone plays baseline. No serve and volley attack games anymore. Nadal has the ultimate ground game for clay. As long as these guys play that style against him, he will win. Someone with an attacking ground game like Federer, Djokovic, Murray, or perhaps Del Potro may be able to win a set by hitting high % winners and keeping the unforced errors low but over 5 sets to sustain that is a tall order. Nadal’s high % play and mental toughness grinds them down. He has proven that against Federer.

I believe a serve and volley style the way Sampras, McEnroe, Becker, and Edberg employed could be more effective. you must break Nadal’s rhythm and get him out of his comfort zone to beat him. Serve and Volley could do that but, unfortunately no one does that any more except for Stanpek who surprised Federer in Rome last year.

Not saying it would consistently win against Nadal on clay but for one big match a serve and volleyer could upset him.

Seems these days, only an injury (blister) can beat him.


momotoom Says:

I have to agree with what Zola said. What a great but nervy match for a Rafa fan. I too was a little scared that Rafa was going to lose, so much so that I changed the channel a few times :). But he pulled it off in the end.

I have to congratulate Novak for an excellent performance. He really is a talent and once he sorts outs his physical issues he’ll go even farther.

Rome is going to be interesting.


fed is afraid Says:

let’s put it this way-rafa has more claim to being the greatest of his era than roger does of his, roger won 13 slams with weak competition, and won only 2 slams against rafa, a young nadal at that. rafa faces the toughest competitors now and wins consistiently. all of his slams have been won against roger.


Leftykick Says:

Cindy_Brady

I don’t believe serve and volley will work against Nadal. You would have to be a serve and vollyer of the calibre of McEnroe or Edberg to stand a chance and they don’t exist these days. Saying that, even McEnroe and Edberg couldnt win the French.

The way I see it the best way to tackle Nadal is to use a selective volley game and ‘sneak’ into the net when the chance arises. That would really throw his rhythm. The master of this was Jimmy connors. Surprisingly he could not pass on his expertise to Andy Roddick but I have not seen anyone play this way better.

Nole made a very good fist of it today but to be successful he will probably have to wait for a day when all his bio-rhythms are in alignment.

Oh how I miss G. Coria. The only player that was a match for Nadal on clay…


Duro Says:

Leftykick, When? When Nadal was 17?


NachoF Says:

fed is afraid,
What you are saying is not fair at all… Fed has won most of his slams with Nadal around.. he just didnt make it to the finals..if you look at 2006 and 2007, Fed won 6 slams while Nadal was winning his second and third GSs and he was already considered the king of clay.. able to beat Federer for 3 years already.. just not good enough on every surface…. the point is, the GOAT is whoever wins more GSs, and right now that is Sampras… we’ll see if Nadal can keep it up to get to 14, 15 or if Federer can get two more.


jane Says:

zola, Ezorra, congrats to you both for Rafa’s win!!

Duro, sar, Bojana, bob22, Danica, all Nole fans – smiles & cheers to you all.

Sean – thanks for giving Novak credit – where it’s due. May he continue to show us his heart, and work on endurance so he can take it to the next level.

What a great final.


Giner Says:

I didn’t think I’d be the one to say this, but it’s about time Nadal improved his vocabulary a bit.

“[It is] always really important for me start the clay season like this, for the confidence,” explained Nadal. “[To] win another time here is more than a dream for me. [It] is unbelievable, a fifth title here in Monte Carlo. I never expect something like this.

Errm.. NO IT WASN’T A DREAM, AND YES YOU DID EXPECT IT!!

He dreams a lot. He’s probably dreaming about a 6th title now, and his dreams aren’t all that ambitious. If his dream was to win the US Open or Grand Slam, that would be a legitimate dream, but a 5th title of something he’s already won 4 in a row of is hardly a dream. There is nothing ‘unbelievable’ about what he did today. Even winning Wimbledon again this year shouldn’t be considered a ‘dream’ because that’s a dream he had once already.

You could make a case that winning 5 in a row is a record, but for him it would have been a bigger surprise if he lost than if he won.

I hope he learns some new words, such as ‘awesome’ or ‘fantastic’ or simply just ‘great’. “It feels great” doesn’t say much, but it’s more accurate than ‘dream’ or ‘unbelievable.’ It’s nice to have so many dreams come true, but it would be better to have bigger dreams that don’t get realised often.

Novak is perhaps his biggest threat on clay now. I’m not sure what happened to Roger Federer. Murray I am inclined not to consider a threat because of his tendency to start slow and gift the first set. That’s not good enough. You need to play your best in every set. You can’t afford to give Nadal anything if you’re to beat him.


Duro Says:

Jane, what to do on earth to beat him? What? To use a gun? (kidding, of course). “Ultimate competitor” Exactly what he is!


zola Says:

Leftykick,

as Duro said. Rafa’s H2H with Coria is 4-1. the only time Coria won Rafa was at 2003.

I am not sure about serve and volley, because Rafa has great passing shots. I think in FO final of 2008 Federer tried coming to the net more often and it did not work at all.
The bad vounce on clay and the high bounce in RG plus Rafa’s heavy topsin, movement and net touch, makes it really difficult to win even a set against him on clay.
also all the guys playing against him, Federer, Novak, Murray know what to do, but the problem is to implement it on the court against Rafa.

I am thinking about possible serve and volleyers. maybe Tsonga? It will be interesting to see a match like that on clay. anyway, interesting suggestion.


zola Says:

oops, vounce=bounce!


Giner Says:

Nadal will win Barcelona I expect, and one of the two remaining clay masters. He might lose in Rome and a big story will come of it, but he’ll bounce back, win Madrid and then RG.

The story I’m more interested in is Roger Federer who thanked God for the beginning of the clay season and then lost his second match. We didn’t get to see him play one of the top 4. I’d like to see how he’ll do on clay and whether he can beat Murray or Djokovic on it. Murray and Djoker passed their test already. It remains to be seen if Roger is up to it. The signs haven’t looked good so far.

Murray hired Alex Corretja to help him on clay. Perhaps Roger should hire someone like him, but who played relatively recently, not like Jose Higueras.


jane Says:

Hi Duro – yes Rafa is the “ultimate competitor”; I think for Djoko to beat him he has to do it in straight sets. He needs to play a first set like the second. Remember in Cincinatti last year? Novak came out firing and won the first set 6-1, then the second set 7-5. I think that is what has to happen for him to beat Rafa, especially on clay. I also think Novak has to (a) work on fitness endurance and (b) stay patient and positive throughout the match; then I think he’d have a real shot, especially in best of three.

In best of 5, to beat Rafa on clay? ??? Who knows!?


Duro Says:

In best of five – to use a machine gun!


Damir Says:

You just can’t compare era’s of tennis and all that G.O.A.T thing is more the goat than some real comparativeness…the balls were smaller, the grass was quicker, the players were different…some say Roger because they count the prize money, some say Nadal ’cause he is the clay king…don’t you worry, it’s the game that is the G.O.A.T and we are living in the era of that game…Rafa will be attacked and defeated on clay like Roger was on grass or hard, he will be grounded like Roger is today, not annulled though…its the same like with the markets and shares, no one could even thought that everything went so slip and fast as it was..but things do turn around and they always do so…it’s just sports though and it is entertaining so lets put some nickels on the underdogs and with the odds…the bigger they are the harder they fall…we are not the tennis pro’s and even not the coaches…we are just spectators and let us take that role…lets live and be the ultimate witnesses of what is suppose to be unreal…I am not anyone’s fan and I apologizes if I interrupt some debates here but that is my opinion though…best of luck to the G.O.A.T…the game it self…


sensationalsafin Says:

Gotta love Novak Djokovic. Who said it was going to be a blow out? Nadal’s definitely the toughest guy mentally. But Djokovic has that desire to be the best, it’s what got him to where he is now. In the last few months, he’s seemed to kind of cruise too much. Hopefully this tournament is the beginning of the reprise of that hunger and desire. Cmon Djoker, ascend to your rightful place at the top!


fed is afraid Says:

now it is on to 5 in a row at the french!!!!!


zola Says:

Damir
I agree that the GOAT discussion is meaningless. Everything is relative.
But tennis is not like the market. things do not happen indefinitely. EVERY PLAYER HAS HIS OWN TIME. There is no question that Rafa’s time will end too. It happens to every player, Borg, McEnroe, Sampras….and it will happen to Federer, Rafa, Djoko, Murray,…
All I hope is for Rafa and all the players to reach their full potential during their time .


TD (Tam) Says:

Unfortunately I did not see this great match. Congrats to the Rafa fans. Hugs to the Novack fans.


Ros Says:

Bravo, Rafa! Magnifico!

He wins on clay, on hardcourts and on grass. He’s not NUMERO UNO for nothing.

Check this out: http://www.christconnection.net


Fairypin Says:

Hi everyone,

Yes,it was a very good match and a very good beginning of clay court season to see someone like Murray and Djoko cahllenge Rafa like this. That’s just made Rafa even more deserved as King of Clay and Master of Mental Toughness.

Djoko did very well, far more my expectation. And just only ONE medical treatment after having been breoken ( 7th game,1st set), that’s good sign for him ( also for his opponent). He did this sometimes in this tournamnet, losing first set to just get back stronger in the 2nd and won the 3rd. But not this time agaisnt Rafa. Anyway,all credit to him.

To my notice, both Murray and Djoko put themselves too much into their emotion either good or bad…but Rafa didn’t. That’s the difference between them. Rafa played with the same face either when he won great points or lost cheap points…he always stay so calm. This allowed him to play his game and his best. I could not see anyone match this ability.

Congratulation Rafa
Great Victory
More and more to come.


Debs Says:

Great display by Novak, really pushed Rafa with some good aggressive tennis. The worrying thing is, for me, Rafa was well below par here – still carrying some of that ‘iffy’ form from Miami, although improved. Serve was poor, and many more simple errors than we’re used to seeing on his favourite inside out cross court f/h in sets 2 and 3. When I say worrying, I mean for his peers. If he improves, as I suspect he may, then this tournament may have been the one chance, barring injury. I’m not sure that today was the ‘real’ picture of Rafa on clay.


margot Says:

True Rafa was not at his best but nor was Djoko or Murray. Djoko’s fitness needs attention and this time last year Andy had not reached a quarter final on clay. I think Rafa IS beatable in 3 on clay, but in 5 at the moment, no way! I agree with Fairypin’s comment re emotion particularly regarding Andy. He needs to stop beating himself up in matches, but again he is so much better than last year, now he is winning matches he would’ve lost.


Ezorra Says:

This is what Tony Nadal said in the interview after Monte Carlo final:

- “He (Nadal) played a good third set, but it’s obvious he must play better than this week.”

- “He was missing a little confidence in his game and you could see that his serve was incredibly weak. But it’s the first tournament on clay this season for him and I hope that with some more matches, it’ll get better.

-”We know that there’s a lot of work to do before Roland-Garros. But he still won. It’s a very important tournament for us and to win for a fifth time is incredible.”

———
I agree that Nadal didn’t play his best tennis this week but to play some more matches in Barcelona to improve his game – I don’t think it’ll help to restore his energy anyway, especially when you‘ve to face more important master series event (Rome) later this month. Yes, he has only few points to defend there but at least he has better chance to win in Rome rather than Madrid (Nadal was the three times champion in Rome – 2005-2007 – so at least he has a basic idea on how to win in Rome!). In fact, he did say that Madrid will not help him to play better in Roland Garros (due to the elevation of the stadium and what not). To me, it will be much better if he skips Barcelona, wins Rome and try to play his best at Madrid (to secure Hamburg’s point) and finally wins Roland Garros.

However, I believe that Tony and his team have the best knowledge to bring his nephew at the best level of his game. Hopefully their strategy will work accordingly!


Duro Says:

TD (Tam): Use the links from Zola posted 1:14 pm and you will see pretty much what was the match like.


Luther Says:

So i’m the only one that will call this what it was? Ok then…

It was a piss poor Nadal performance by his standard, probably 30% below his best. Djokovic was played above himself and had weather conditios to suit him…and still got raped in the third set.

Certaily a very entertaining match, but even with piss poor Nadal his win never looked to be in question.


Duro Says:

You are Luther, what else could one Luther(an) say. Stupid as expected.


soccer tricks Says:

It was a great match. Djokovic gave Nadal a really hard time. Nadal showed that he’s the best tennis player around these days. His only real competitor Federer seems unable to stop him as well.


feetofclay Says:

Giner Says:

“I didn’t think I’d be the one to say this, but it’s about time Nadal improved his vocabulary a bit”.

Maybe he could learn from Federer and throw in a few ‘you knows’


Debs Says:

“So i’m the only one that will call this what it was? Ok then…”

Er Luther, I believe my post may agrees with yours. Well the Nadal being poor bit anyway ;)


fed is afraid Says:

soccer tricks-how can roger be the only real competitor of rafa when nadal has beaten him 5 straight times and has a 13-6 H2H? roger has not been real competition for nadal in years. nadal eats him alive every time.


lulu Says:


Q. How tough was it when he broke back in the third set?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, was tougher in the second I think. Yeah, no, I started the match playing well. The first game, well, he play really bad. Later he played well with the 3 1. But later I played good tennis. But in the first game of the second was really important, no? I won five games in a row.

Yeah, the first game of the second I had an easy passing shot to win the game, one game point. Yeah, I had the mistake. And later I had some more mistakes in that game. He started to play well. I play a little bit short. I had the big chance in 2 1, one 15 40, one easy forehand. I played well, but I take out like this. Yeah, later I play a bad game with my serve. Was impossible the second, no.

But the third, yeah, the beginning I have a little bit lucky because he has two breakpoints and one dropshot, important dropshot. I came back. That point was really important. After that I think I played really well the third, no? Important moments, I was focused all the time. Was tough the 2 1, but I know I was really focused.

I had two important mistakes in the 2 0 for 3 0. I have two game points. I was playing with topspin and I want to put forehand little bit too much low and I put both two in the net.

Oh lord! he remembers every single moment that happened on the court. this guy is creepy!!


zola Says:

lulu
It is amazing. He remembers older matches as well. game by game and point by point.


Polo Says:

Nadal maybe have a savant syndrome with tennis as his particular form of savantism.


zola Says:

Polo,
I am not familiar with savant syndrome. My wikipedia search suggests that it is a disorder in which people with mental or physical disability show brilliance in one subject. I don’t see a physical or mental disability in Rafa. he has achieved more at the age of 22 than many can dream in a lifetime.

Some call it photographic memory. You can call it savant syndrome.


zola Says:

interview clips from Monte Carlo:
click on the link and then click on the interviews:

http://www.tennistv.com/page/Home/0,,11444,00.html


margot Says:

Sorry Von, I meant how long since Rafa lost a set at Monte Carlo. I believe it was to Roger 2006. Cheers.


margot Says:

Luther: do you have to use such offensive language?


Von Says:

Margot:

Got ya. Yes, it was MC 2006, that Federer won a set. I saw that match on the Tennis Channel last week and mentioned that even though some say his FH was misfiring in ’07 it was evident in 2006 at MC. That set Fed won, he played some S&V and was able to keep Nadal away from the ball. Mardy Fish played S&V in the USO ’08 and won the first set, but then he changed his MO and lost the match to Nadal who came back refreshed after a bathroom break to win the match. That demonstrates that Nadal is vulnerable to S&V and I don’t understand why more players don’t use that strategy against him. Too bad. Pete Sampras in one of his interviews on Tennis channel said he knew how he would play nadal, and being an S&V guy, I suppose that would be his MO.


Von Says:

Polo:

Nice to see you back again.

Yes savantism does have its advantages. In my studies on human development according to Treffert, something that almost all savants have in common is a remarkable memory: a memory that he describes as “exceedingly deep but very, very narrow”. And, according to Alan Snyder: Savant-like skills may be latent in everyone. It’s similar to androgynous traits which are present in both genders.

I suppose we all have a mish-mash of everything, even dormant cancer cells. I have a photographic memory, wherein I can see written material very clearly, and I can also remember incidents conjuring up pictures of the scenery. My spouse tells me I have an elephant memory which he likes and dislikes. Ha, ha.


Von Says:

Unless someone is aspiring to be a tennis player, then Nadal’s achievements at the age of 22 could be placed in the ‘dream’ category, and that’s also subjective, because not every tennis player wants to win 14 GS — some feel there’s more to life than those goals. However, there are thousands of other fields of work where people have achieved and made significant contributions for the good of humanity — the greater good at early ages, e.g., child prodigies, the great musicians whose works live on touching billions of people throughout the ages, and scientists whose contribution to mankind will live on for eternity. I’d say those are achievements that can only be a dream to most people.


zola Says:

well, of course anyone in his/her correct mind would understand that this is a tennis forum and we are tal;king about tennis and not musicians!
no one undermines what many people have achieved in their lives and are not tennis platers. what cheap shot!but not surprising at all.keep exposing yourself.


zola Says:

typo: tal;king =talking
tennis platers=tennis players.


sensationalsafin Says:

Have you guys never played a tennis match before? The fact that Nadal remembers every point and game isn’t something out of the ordinary and unique only to him. Especially when it comes to big points, those points will stay in your mind for a while. And Nadal knows that wasn’t the last time he’s ever gonna play Djokovic and he obviously doesn’t wanna lose so he’s gonna remember those points so that next time he doesn’t make the same mistake.


Von Says:

Sensationalsafin:

Thanks, you’ve clarified my thoughts and show that some things are not as ‘special’ to only him as some would like us to think. Memory is selective when one is specializing in a certain field. Lord, the recitals of his CV is ludicrous. I suppose we need gentle reminders consistently to prove how absolutely ‘unique’ this guy really is. But, that sort of thing can only impress those who are of unsound and limited minds. I’d be impressed if he could at least conduct a proper interview instead of repetitions of a few words.


Von Says:

Footnote to memory: When one is specializing in any field and has to meet the same opponents consistently it is quite normal to build up in their minds the opponent’s MO, which makes it easier to plan the strategy for their next encounter. It takes the guess-work out of the equation and puts them in a better position for battle.


Sean Randall Says:

I think a lot of the games greats have pretty incredible memories. Coincidence?

Memory management works into a lot of the on-court strategy and routine as well as having the ability to “forget” the missed chances.

I bet if you did some sort of memory study, players with the better memory ranked higher. Just a hunch!


MMT Says:

I saw the match, and while Djokovic had some very good moments, and played well in the 2nd set, I don’t think he really maximized his power advantage. Nadal was very far behind the baseline and the few times Djokovic came to net, he did put Rafa under a bit of pressure. I think Djokiovic would do well to keep coming to net, mixing that with his drop shots, and really disrupt Rafa. The two points Zola posted above are perfect examples of times when he could/should have cut the points off.

Getting passed when you come to net is not the end of the world; it’s a question of persistence. If a player has to come up with 100 passing shots to beat you and does, then hats off to them. But if you win 2 out of 3 points from the net, that puts a lot of pressure on the defender to come up with more and more passing shots, which is not easy to do.

You can’t win every time you come to net, but coming to net and killing off points quickly puts your opponent under pressure, pressure that’s very hard to sustain fromn the back without making a lot of errors (think: Fed and Djokovic vs. Nadal on clay).

I agree with Cyndi (Cyndi, CYNDI!) Brady that the key has to be to disrupt Nadal and take him out of his comfort zone, and you can’t do that without taking huge risks from the back that eventually wind up costing the match.

Djokovic fans should take heart from this match because he wasn’t at his best and he had definitely pushed Nadal in the 1st and 2nd sets.


momotoom Says:

Enormous talent and strong work ethic aside, Nadal’s ability to learn from his mistakes is part of his strength. He is by far the most strongest players mentally. He really is a special player and as a tennis fan he never ceases to amaze me and I’m going to enjoy watching him as long as it lasts; after all nothing lasts forever – Rafa’s great run included.


Von Says:

Sean Randall:

Of course, memory is of utmost importance when facing opponents on a day to day basis. A lot of what happens in the world of sports is contingent upon strategy and strategy hinges upon memory — people remember what transpired in prior matches. It’s part and parcel of a good game plan, because without it, a player is lost. Sometimes people act by rote, which is akin to a subconscious memory.

In my work with human development there were comparisons on skill coupled with memory and those with just skill and minimal memory. The people with the better memories excelled more, and/or ranked higher as you stated. In tennis especially, where it’s mano e mano, a good memory can dig a player out of tight situations. I remember a statement Roddick remarked on Verdasco, in which he stated that at one point of his match with Verdasco when he was down a break, he decided he’d just hold his serve because he remembered Verdasco is a guy who is prone to dips in concentration. Of course, Roddick held on and won the match. My point in this whole scenario is that familiarity with anything will eventually take root in one’s memory and that translates to better records and/or results.


Sean Randall Says:

Cyndi Brady, Roger’s still the odd-on guy to be the No. 2 seed at the French, but it’s close.

Just eyeballing it, Rog has 1650 points coming off between now and then (700 MC, 700 Hburg, 250 Rome).

Novak has a lot also at 1900 (1000 Rome, 450 each at Hburg and MC).

Murray meanwhile has just 370 (150 MC, 150 hburg and 70 rome).

Quickly removing those points we get…
federer 9110
Djokovic 7620
murray 8600

If Federer flames out early at Rome/Madrid he’ll leave the door open for either Djoko (should he win a title) or Murray to pass him.


Von Says:

MMT:

It’s true what you say that Nadal’s rhythm has to be disrupted in order for him to be placed at a deficit. I mentioned on the other thread that I watched the 206 MC tourney where Federer won the second set by coming to the net and laying S&V. Unfortunately, he regressed in the third set to his old base-line game, and nadal got the upper hand in the rallies and won.

Also, in the USO, fish played S&V in the first set against nadal and he won that sat. Nadal took a bathroom break at the end of the set and when he returned, it seems Fish forgot what made him win the first set and regressed, fallowing Nadal to dictate play, end result, Fish lost.

I’ve noticed when players begin moving into the net, the opponent senses that and for a split second takes their eye off the ball, fixing their gaze on the opponent and as a result, he loses concentration and the point by hitting into the net or making a bad volley, etc. The eye-hand coordination seems to suffer in those instances.


Polo Says:

Hi, Von,

I know you have a photographic memory because you can quote what people say in this forum even from ages ago. But you are not a savant because you seem to do so many other things and interact with others as you do on this site.

I am just curious about Nadal because he is extremely gifted in all things tennis but I am not aware of him doing anything else quite well outside of tennis. After many years of traveling around the world and being interviewed and having to give speeches after winning tournaments, he still has not learned to say anything different from what he says from the time he began playing. Another Nadal idiosyncrasy is his tendency to perform sterotyped patterns of behavior, e.g. aligning his water bottles, keeping the water levels about the same, biting his trophy, and maybe even that tendency to pull on the back side of his pants. I see those signs all the time that have somehow piqued my curiosity. And he seems to be so protected by Uncle Tony. I wonder if he may have some form of autism, probably a mild form. I am not saying this to denigrate Nadal respect his talent as a tennis player. I just can’t seem to ignore those things that I see in him.


Guga76 Says:

I love this website – To know there are others out there who obsess even more than I do. It’s also very relieving to know there are actual Djokovic fans other than me. I’ve loved him since I saw him in Cincinnati as a 17 year old. He’s not my favorite but I do love the guy and think he’s the one that makes the storyline for the top 4 interesting. They’re all such beautifully well-rounded players and nice guys and I haven’t been so excited about the top 4 in years. But Nadal is too humble. Federer is too ubiquitous and Murray is too new (to the top). Nole has so much personality and I’m so happy to see 2 big tournaments go by now with very little negative press for him. Congrats to “ATP tennis nation”.


Cindy_Brady Says:

Sean Randall,

If that scenario some how pans out and Djokovic or Murray do reach #2, then that will change everything at the French. Nadal may end playing Federer in the semi-finals. This is assuming seedings hold up.

I don’t want to see another Federer/Nadal anti-climatic final. We have seen that show 3 years in a row with Nadal getting better and Federer getting worse each year. Federer hasn’t changed anything so there is no reason to believe the outcome would be any different this year.

Murray OR Djokovic against Nadal would make for a more exciting final and a breath of fresh air.


jane Says:

For Von and TD – pictures of Andy’s wedding:

http://photos.tmz.com/galleries/andy_roddick_wedding#40623


Duro Says:

Bravo Guga! Nicely said!


Duro Says:

Zola, Giner, Daniel, you said that if Nole makes it to the finals and Murray to the semis, the difference will be 110 points. What happened with your calculations? Last year semis brought 450 minus 90 for this year’s semis; so in your calculations 600 for the finals minus 360 minus 90 should bring only 150 to Nole’s account, but he gained 510! Anyway the new ranking system sucks big time! There should be tennis world championship every year, so we would have for example 4-time champion of the world Roger Federer etc etc. This is how we wouldn’t have the situation that for the same achievement someone earns a bulk of points only cause he sucked previous year and someone who repeats his success stays on the same level or even lose some (masters semis last year 450, this year 360, total -90!) Paradox!


Duro Says:

To clarify a bit more: every player should have zero points in the beginning of the year, and in the end of it you would know who’s the champion of the world for that year, who’s second, third etc etc. This is how you would avoid the situation of rewarding someone for playing poor last year and punishing someone who repeats his success. This is just unfair.


jane Says:

Hi Duro,

I think the reason for the ranking points discrepancy between what those posters claimed with regards to wins and losses and what is on the ATP site now is that the Monte Carlos points from last year haven’t yet been removed. Once they are then the rankings will shift accordingly. As it stands, Novak has only a minor lead on Murray and will likely be passed by him at Rome since Murray has virtually nothing to defend and Novak has a title to defend.


Debs Says:

“After many years of traveling around the world and being interviewed and having to give speeches after winning tournaments, he still has not learned to say anything different from what he says from the time he began playing”

Polo, I’m given to understand that he is far more articulate in his own language. The oncourt interviews are always rolled out phrases, sure. But to be fair, other interviews given are not without intelligence. For example there is one quote in English, which I found quite charming and not in the least stupid, and another translated I believe which I think shows a thoughtfulness at the very least.

“If you lose your illusion to improve, you are over, no? If one day I lose the illusion to improve, I’m going to go back home and have a boat and fish,” he said.”

“I don’t think it’s about managing to keep my feet on the ground,” Nadal said. “What I have to do is not make mistakes because life throws plenty of curves at you and today I may be here as the No 1, but in five years, ten years, I’m going to be leading a normal, ordinary life. If right now I don’t keep in mind that everything that is happening to me is momentary – that it is going to be over – then in the future the bump is going to be pretty huge. If you elevate yourself too much, you have much farther to fall.”


Duro Says:

Jane! The list is official! If understood you correctly you expect the new change of the rankings? Anyway, exactly what I was talking about! Even if Novak wins the Rome again, he’ll get zero! No justice unless: same achievement same reward! If Nole made it semifinals this year in Monte Carlo, which means to be among four best two times in a row he would lose 90 points! Is this normal and fair? To be punished for being good and consistent, and Murray for example to be rewarded for same achievement with a bulk of points only because he was poor last year!? Bizarre! As I said couple of times before: the ranking system sucks! There should be The Championship of the World in tennis. Let the best man wins and be the champion of the world. If it’s Murray then let it be Murray, but not because he was not any good last year, but because he’s the best in the end of the present year! Or Nole, or Nadal, or Fed or anyone.


vared Says:

and Murray has more points to defend at Wim.


Kimmi Says:

Hi Duro, I hope you don’t mind if I answer your question.

last year Monte carlo was played a week later that this year. The way the rolling ranking works is, they only remove last year points on the week they were received. Hence for this year, last year monte carlo point will be removed april 27.


Duro Says:

Vared, anyway it sucks! Why should anyone defend anything? Every year a new beginning. Earn your points and be rewarded for success, as simple as that. Whoever earns the most in the end of the year let him be the first! Title in the masters event is 1000 points worth! Don’t make it worth zero!!! Reward the success and achievement, don’t punish it! Enough from me. If I made mistake saying “present” year instead of maybe current year, I apologize.


Duro Says:

Kimmi, the most disappointing news I heard today. If so, everything is even more meaningless for me. The bizarre thing is that it could be more opportune not to win some tournaments or to lose in certain stage of it and consider it as an investment for the next year. It could certainly be payed off more if you have plans to advance. Good night. I lost my love for tennis at the moment.


Polo Says:

Deb,

Thanks for quoting some of Nadal’s more eloquent interviews. Those words show that he has good insight. Hopefully, all the stereotype behavior he shows when playing simply means that he is somewhat superstitious and obsessive about that. I would be happy to be wrong in my assumption that he may have some form of autism. He is such a gifted tennis player and seems to be so well-behaved.


Kimmi Says:

“Every year a new beginning. Earn your points and be rewarded for success, as simple as that.”

Duro: ATP also has this system, they call it ATP race, ATP used to have this in their site in previous years but I can’t seem to find it now. If you follow the race you can actually see which players have performed better at a certain juncture. eg you can see who has done well from beginning of the year till now. ATP use the race to determine which 8 best players will compete at the the YEC (the masters cup). Also its good to know that if you compare the race and rolling ranking at the end of the year they coincide.


Giner Says:

Check out Djokovic’s latest 2 minute commercial for HEAD.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_sdHjBf_H8


Giner Says:

Von says:

“Also, in the USO, fish played S&V in the first set against nadal and he won that sat. Nadal took a bathroom break at the end of the set and when he returned, it seems Fish forgot what made him win the first set and regressed, fallowing Nadal to dictate play, end result, Fish lost.”

I’d say what did Fish in that day was Unforced Errors. It’s not as if he went for too much either, he was missing routine shots. A ‘good’ UE is when you go for a winner and miss it. That’s ok but you don’t want to do it too much. A ‘bad’ UE is when you can’t get the ball over the net even when you’re not going for broke. A lot of his errors were of the latter type.

Fish needs to manage his memory better if a few minutes holdup was enough for him to ‘forget’ how he won the first set. The commentary when I was watching it opined that Fish redlined his game in the first set but couldn’t keep up the standard for an entire match.

I highly doubt a good player can go from looking like winning the match to losing the next three sets because of a toilet break. That would imply that had his opponent not gone for a break, Fish would most certainly have won — A big claim. Top players simply find a way to come back and win after losing a first set. Even lower ranked players can do this.

His opponent adjusted and found the answers, and his own level dropped. Bathroom break is just a convenient excuse to link correlation and causation to. Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps it did have some effect on Fish. The thing is, it shouldn’t have. If it was Roger Federer or Andy Murray in Fish’s place with the first set in pocket, a toilet break would not have cost them the match. Fish is a top 30 player, he shouldn’t have allowed his game to fall apart in 5 minutes.

Polo says:

“Another Nadal idiosyncrasy is his tendency to perform sterotyped patterns of behavior, e.g. aligning his water bottles, keeping the water levels about the same, biting his trophy, and maybe even that tendency to pull on the back side of his pants. I see those signs all the time that have somehow piqued my curiosity. And he seems to be so protected by Uncle Tony. I wonder if he may have some form of autism, probably a mild form. I am not saying this to denigrate Nadal respect his talent as a tennis player. I just can’t seem to ignore those things that I see in him.”

I found these quirks most curious myself. The bottles have to be placed on the right spot the right distance apart, with labels facing the right direction, and he alternates between bottles when drinking to keep the water level even. I’m not sure why since they both contain the same water. My theory is that it helps him focus by concentrating on these small things he doesn’t allow his mind to wander off court. Players who like to fiddle with their strings, braids, laces, socks, sleeves, jewelry, or towel off between points are the same (Mary Pierce, Lleyton Hewitt, Greg Rusedski, etc).

In his two weeks in Melbourne, Nadal ate at the same restaurant (a Japanese one) 10 times. In the final, he had his bags with everything packed neatly with 100% perfection, the way he demands they’re packed, and then when he was about to be interviewed to get on court, he dropped his bag and the contents spilled out and he panicked. He painstakingly rearranged everything and held up the interviewer (who thought the experience was funny) who had to wait for him to finish packing before he could ask his question.

It is most certainly not autism. Just an extreme case of Obsession Compulsion. If you really want to get into his head mentally, walk a few paces over to his chair and kick those bottles.

Duro Says:

“Zola, Giner, Daniel, you said that if Nole makes it to the finals and Murray to the semis, the difference will be 110 points. What happened with your calculations? Last year semis brought 450 minus 90 for this year’s semis; so in your calculations 600 for the finals minus 360 minus 90 should bring only 150 to Nole’s account, but he gained 510! Anyway the new ranking system sucks big time! There should be tennis world championship every year, so we would have for example 4-time champion of the world Roger Federer etc etc. This is how we wouldn’t have the situation that for the same achievement someone earns a bulk of points only cause he sucked previous year and someone who repeats his success stays on the same level or even lose some (masters semis last year 450, this year 360, total -90!) Paradox!”

Duro, the clay season began a week early this year, so everyone has Monte Carlo points counted twice. Next week, MC 08′s points will be removed and everything will be the way I calculated (except Barcelona points will need to be factored in, which I did not calculate for).

“To clarify a bit more: every player should have zero points in the beginning of the year, and in the end of it you would know who’s the champion of the world for that year, who’s second, third etc etc. This is how you would avoid the situation of rewarding someone for playing poor last year and punishing someone who repeats his success. This is just unfair.”

This is the system we used to have. Well actually, we had two ranking systems. One was year to date (as you described above). This was called the Champions Race. The other was for a rolling 52 week period which covers every tournament of a year, regardless of when you look at it. That one is the Entry Ranking.

The Race was removed because it confused a lot of casual fans who didn’t understand why there were two rankings. The ATP tried to consolidate it into one ranking system but did not explain very well why they removed the Race. The new system is just the same as the old Entry Ranking but with the numbers doubled. In my opinion, the Race was useful, because you could quickly at a glance see who were the best performers of the current year. A player might be #1 but all his points came from the previous season due to a poor 2009. You would need to click on everyone’s profile and check out their individual Points Breakdown to calculate this.

Who is the #1 player of 2009 so far? It may not be the current World #1 player (as it wasn’t the case for Federer last year when he was #1). You would have to manually check everyone’s points breakdown to separate their 2008 points from their 2009 points. You couldn’t just read it off the top 10 list. Calculating who qualifies for the Championships would also take more work than it did.

Debs says:

“If you lose your illusion to improve, you are over, no? If one day I lose the illusion to improve, I’m going to go back home and have a boat and fish,” he said.”

I don’t know what he means by ‘illusion’ but he has used the word more than once. I think he is mistaking or butchering the word, or just using the wrong word. I really don’t know what he could have mistaken it for. Perhaps ‘allusion’? From the context, it sounds like he means ‘desire’ or ‘will’. Lost in translation I guess.

Duro Says:

“Jane! The list is official! If understood you correctly you expect the new change of the rankings? Anyway, exactly what I was talking about! Even if Novak wins the Rome again, he’ll get zero! No justice unless: same achievement same reward! If Nole made it semifinals this year in Monte Carlo, which means to be among four best two times in a row he would lose 90 points! Is this normal and fair? To be punished for being good and consistent, and Murray for example to be rewarded for same achievement with a bulk of points only because he was poor last year!? Bizarre! As I said couple of times before: the ranking system sucks! There should be The Championship of the World in tennis. Let the best man wins and be the champion of the world. If it’s Murray then let it be Murray, but not because he was not any good last year, but because he’s the best in the end of the present year! Or Nole, or Nadal, or Fed or anyone.”

The points get removed in order to keep the numbers from shooting towards infinity. If they are never removed, they will keep going up and up. I know what you mean.. the Race that gets reset every year. There’s nothing unfair about the current system for determining who was the best over the past 52 weeks. What you want is to know who is the best of the current calendar season, and unfortunately there’s no longer a ranking for that. The ATP keeps an internal ‘Race’ system but doesn’t release it on their website because they don’t want to confuse people with two separate scoreboards (it is possible to be #1 of 2009 but #5 in the world or the other way around).

It makes defending your points important. It may not be fair that you have champions points that you can’t add to, but you have held the maximum points anyone could have gotten from that tournament for a year now. Unfortunately they don’t last forever and it’s time to renew them.


Kimmi Says:

Giner: Somebody in the BBC tennis forum posted the ATP race. Looks very current, but it was hidden. Don’t know how this person found it.

Anyway here is the link.

http://www.atpworldtour.com/tennis/3/en/rankings/championsrace


Giner Says:

Ah right. It’s there but not advertised. And Federer is the 4th best player of 2009 so far.

The official ATP site gave an explanation as to why they removed the race, but I didn’t understand it.

———————
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.
——————-

On an unrelated note, it appears Sega goofed in their new video game (Virtua Tennis 2009). They listed Murray as being English instead of Scottish.

http://www.maxconsole.net/content_img/muzza.jpg


Von Says:

Giner:

I can believe the following statement was Nadal’s thoughts put into words:

““If you lose your illusion to improve, you are over, no? If one day I lose the illusion to improve, I’m going to go back home and have a boat and fish,” he said.”

I would think his mention of “illusion” is perhaps his ‘incentive’ that he’s talking about, and if he loses that incentive then he might as well go back home to fish. Actually, ‘illusion’ is something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality. I know that optical illusion is that of visual perception in a way different from the way it is in reality.

With respect to the second interview, I have to think it was scripted for him. I can’t see a correlation between the two, regardless of whether one was in English and the other in Spanish. The thought processes are very different and conflicting. It’s as though the words are emanating from two different people.

“If you really want to get into his head mentally, walk a few paces over to his chair and kick those bottles.”

That would cause a stir for sure.

Funny story about the bags spilling.
_____________

Polo:

I had a feeling a long time ago, that Nadal is OCD and OCD also has a correlation to a form of mental anxiety, a disorder where the individual engages in repetitive behaviors, e.g., in Nadal’s case the bottle alignment, checking the labels and distance between the bottles, etc. However, there is a more worrying mental correlation that causes the OCD behaviors and/or rituals. The individual is plagued with unwanted and/or recurrent thoughts and images which forces them to engage in repetitive behaviors in the hope of making those thoughts go away, but, the distraction caused by the repetitive behaviors provides only temporary relief from the anxiety and the recurrent thoughts and images, and the condition becomes worse. For example, an individual might progress from 5 minutes of hand washing to 15 minutes. This is obvious from his serve routine, hence the time violations.

If you were to look at Nadal’s behavior around 2004, it’s obvious that the OCD is becoming more remarked and he’s added on some more antics. The pulling of the underwear is more pronounced, it’s as though he’s helpless in that respect, and he has added the pushing of hair, even though there is none, ala Sharapova, behind his ears. The towelling off is more frequent — he signals for the towel just before he finishes a point — I don’t see his opponent going to the towel as often as he does, which to me is more of a ritual than his arms being sweaty. Last but not least, I think he has a sort of lazy tongue which makes it difficult for him to form his words properly. I see this even when he speaks in Spanish so it’s obvious that there’s some sort of impediment there.

No, I’m not savant, but I was only trying to show that savants also have good memories.


Von Says:

jane:

Thanks for the video on Andy’s wedding. Mardy Fish’s wife’s dress was similar. It seemed like a very nice, quiet family affair.


jane Says:

Von – you’re welcome. Yes a beautiful dress and I like that she wore her hair down.

B.T.W, Lots has been written about Rafa having a mild form of OCD; a google search brings up a lot. Here’s one short blurb but there are several people who’ve written/speculated on this:

http://www.medindia.net/news/Rafaels-Game-Riddled-With-Quirks-Obsessive-compulsive-Traits-39058-1.htm


Ezorra Says:

Von, I heard that everyone has OCD. The different is, some might have serious OCD and some might not. I don’t know whether I have OCD or not but I will very angry for days if any of my family members dare to fold my underwear. Errrr… is that OCD? David Beckham has admitted that he has OCD too. I believe that Nadal does has OCD (not serious one) but fortunately to him, OCD has helped him to concentrate more in his game. So I think it’s good for him. The ritual that he does has made him different from others. Sometimes, they are entertaining too. However, I don’t like the fact that some of his rituals have led him to involve in rules contravention (like time violations, so on and so fourth). Therefore, he should do something to control them in order to gain respect from others. BTW, Monk is one of my favorite series. Loved it!


jane Says:

I wonder too, besides serve and volley, and coming into the net, if one of the ways to upset Rafa’s rhythm is to return behind him? Nalbandian seemed to do this occasionally at IW. He also came into the net, implanted himself on the baseline, and took the ball early.
Unfortunately for him, he also choked.


sensationalsafin Says:

Players get discouraged against Nadal. It’s probably the easiest thing in the world to do, too. I mean you play your heart out and then this guy seems to hit winners off of the best shots you could have possibly hit in your entire life. But, that’s what they need to avoid. Federer, Murray, and Djokovic have played Nadal many times and have each beaten him atleast once. Fed and Djoker even hold crushing victories over Rafa. Next time they play him, instead of saying, omfg not this again, they should just say, well that’s nothing new, now let’s see if he can do it again, or how about this. Fed’s become so dumb against Nadal. He made so many tactical errors in the Wimbledon final especially. Everyone needs to forget that they’re playing Nadal but at the same time accept that some balls are gonna fly by them with absolutely no explanation.


Sotyx Says:

Let’s talk about how to bet Murray, Nadal, and Federer, instead of how to bet nadal.


Sotyx Says:

I mean Djoko


Sotyx Says:

Nadal is unmatched to anyone that ever played the game. 14 masters and 6 grandslams at the age of 22 and counting. He passed Sampras (in masters), and tied Federer, and 3 shy to all time records lifetime
achievement of Agassi. Nadal is only 22, and 2 clay master series are coming and 1 grandslam clay court
(FO). Oh, I forgot, 34 titles with 3 more major clay court tournaments (still 22 y/o). Too much achievement at this age. Oh, his reign just started this year. Keep raising that champioship trophy Nadal. I’m counting!!!!


Von Says:

He’s also been on the tour nearly as long as some of the guys who are 26, so his titles is pretty much equivalent to the success of others champions before him, based on the ratio of years on tour to titles won.

Question: Can he match Laver’s record and/or break it?

Answer: Hardly likely.

To say he’s is unmatched to anyone is true, he is a unique human being just like all others. We are all separate, sentient beings, and unmatched.

Is he unmatched to anyone who has ever played the game? No. There are records that others have attained which he still has to match and break.

Has he matched Sampras 14 GS and 64 titles over all? No, he still has 30 titles more to draw even.
Can he match and break those records? Only time will tell. Remember also, that most of his titles have come on clay. I give his team credit for apprising his strengths and using that to his advantage where he can attain recognition and rise up as a force with which to be to be reckoned. To be unbeatable on clay is where he has found recognition. They realized that he has the ability to create history on clay and they’ve taken that and made it into something unbeatable, at the present time. They found an area which he can exploit and has used it to his full advantage. Kudos to him and them.

I don’t think his reign has just begun. I believe he has already peaked and is on his descent. He has a few more years on clay and he will be replaced by someone younger and stronger than he would be at the time of replacement.

Remember, time and tide waits for no man and don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.

Nadal is a very good athlete, and no one can take that away from him, but to raise him up to levels which are in the distant future is placing god-like status on him. Who knows what will happen this year, next year and the year after.


Von Says:

Ezorra:

Yeah, that’s OCD alright. You probably don’t want it to be touched because you feel someone is going to contaminate it. OK Howard Hughes, now go build yourself a bubble and crawl into it. Ha ha. I’m laughing. I have OCD about the garage door. If I’m the last one out of the garage, I get to the corner and drive back home, to ensure I closed it. And, of course I did, by rote, without even realizing it. This happens about once a week when I’m rushing.

We all have our idiosyncrasies, but for some people it becomes an obsession and that’s where it begins to be frightening.

From that article it seems that Nadal has built up a ton of antics/rituals and he seems to be adding on more to his repertoire. Lord help his wife and children. Don’t touch those bottles, No?

Voicemale1 stated that his serve ritual is not intentional, but it’s due to him being in a sort of trance. I can see that now as true, due to his little rituals he keeps adding on. According to studies, it hurts OCD people and keep them in a perpetual state of anxiety if they are made to curtail their rituals; they become so attached to these little actions that they actually suffer mental pain and anguish.
_____________
jane:

Thanks for the link. I didn’t know about the white lines.


Tj Says:

Vamos Rafa!


Von Says:

jane:

“I wonder too, besides serve and volley, and coming into the net, if one of the ways to upset Rafa’s rhythm is to return behind him?”

This can only be done when you are positive that the opponent has committed to moving in the other direction. Possibly it will be effective a few times, but as soon as they become aware of it, they won’t commit fully to moving and then what will the opponent do? There’s only a few seconds that they can hold the ball and react. It’s similar to the drop-shot, a few times it’s effective, but once the opponent begins to anticipate it, it’s effectiveness disappears.

The Sound of Music song comes to mind: “How do you solve the problem of Maria?” Fill in his name.


margot Says:

I’ve also noticed that Rafa plays short balls, he really does! However, his opponents don’t pounce like they would on anyone else, they seem to get involved in a base line exchange, which they are unlikely to win. As was said you just have to 4get you’re playing Rafa and defeat the game not the man, serve wide, put the ball behind him, come to the net, disrupt his game. Oh it’s so easy from the spectator seats isn’t it?!!
Yes, he’s got some sort of obsessive compulsive, many sports people have rituals but he takes them to a new level.
I’d just love someone to kick those water bottles over, bet he’d lose then!


zola Says:

Duro dear,

I think Kimmi ( and Jane too) answered your question. I was surprised to see Rafa having more then 15000 points. Then checking the rabking points I saw two for MC. I think the real points will be posted on April 27. I agree. stupid system. why can’t the points count from when a tournament finish till when it start the next year.

I did not know that the points for semis have been reduced. Is it just for MC ( because it is optional) or for all the master series? I have to check.

The system that you suggest does exist and again thanks to Kimmi, we have the link . ( I couln’t find it eithe!). every player starts from zero and accululates points as the season progresses.

don’t worry about Djoko now. He is still ahead of Murray and he defended his ranking in a great manner in Monte Carlo. let’s see what happens in Rome. don’t write him off so soon.


Debs Says:

“With respect to the second interview, I have to think it was scripted for him. I can’t see a correlation between the two, regardless of whether one was in English and the other in Spanish. The thought processes are very different and conflicting. It’s as though the words are emanating from two different people.”

Really? For me, I see a similar ‘wisdom’, if you will. The difference, I feel, is only that one is in English and therefore somewhat clumsily expressed. The other, he’s able to articulate his thoughts with more clarity as it was initially expressed in his own language. The theme, however, seems consistent insofaras there is the same groundedness within it. I would respectfully disagree with you.

Polo, you mention superstition and OCD (as have others). I am given to believe that superstition plays a part in Spanish Culture, as indeed it does in sports (see Jimmy Connors for a prime example of tics etc ;)) Lucky socks, tugging at clothing, not so unusual. The neat packing of the bags et al is at odds with the fact that he is known to have your typical untidy hotel rooms, and at home, so it doesn’t, apparently, carry from the court. I would suggesst his ‘tics’ or habits have more to do with an ingrained routine, and superstition against changing any part of that than any mental disorder.


zola Says:

margot,
Playing short is a good indication of Rafa being in survival mode. last year after FO, Federer said “he does not land the ball short anymore”. So this year, coming from the hard court season and with all the attempt to try to make his game more hard-coourt friendly, he did not play very well. I hope by RG he can go back to his form of RG/Wimbledon08 or AO 09.


Debs Says:

“If you were to look at Nadal’s behavior around 2004, it’s obvious that the OCD is becoming more remarked and he’s added on some more antics”

Oh sorry, forgot to add. He’s also knocked at least one off. The sock tugging at the start of the serve. ;)


zola Says:

Jane,
just saw your congrats above. Thanks and congratulations to you and all Novak fans for making the final a thriller of a match. That was a new Novak. The hug at the net was nice and seems now Novak keeps it for special occasions or people. His interview was impressive too.


Debs Says:

With regard to the discussion on rankings points, I guess the point of defending your points from the previous year is to demonstrate consistency. Its what separates those at the top from those a little farther down the rankings. Its tough for sure, but thats the challenge. :)


zola Says:

sorry for many posts. this will be the last for tonight!

Debs,
nice post at 3:28.

many players have suprestitions. Many like Blake do not shave in the middle of a tournament, stay in the same hotel etc.

wrt Rafa, it can be suprestitions, OCD or anything else. But he is a very logical and realistic person. I don’t know if he is that suprestitious, but you never know.

about the socks, etc, I read on TW a while back that Rafa used to rush his serves. In fact he does not have these “ticks” in his early matches. His uncle Toni gave him these tasks to do so that he can concentrate. of course the pant picking is absolutely different. I think that IS a tick. there are videos of him at 12 and he still does that.


Duro Says:

Zola, Kimmi, Giner, I hope you don’t think that I’m not familiar with an ATP race system. I’m a tennis fan so it’s normal that this is not something new for me, but I wasn’t talking about it at all! Even when ATP race was official and available to everyone it still wasn’t an official method of ranking players and deciding who’s on which position! That is the problem. It was only used for analytic and file (recording) purposes or even for Masters Cup, but never for the things that really count, to decide who’s the number 1, second, third player etc. etc. in the world. Anyway it is as it is, but sucks a big time!


Duro Says:

Jane, as for Nole being past by Murray in Rome, I’m not that concerned because Nole is playing excellent and he has Belgrade ATP with very possible 250 points for him, and if not in the Nadal part of a draw in French Open, I think he’ll get to the finals. Not to mentioned Wimbledon with 2nd round lost last year which is a great chance for collecting points this year ( even if I despite that system).


Tj Says:

Despite the ranking system, better player will eventually get their rank. Vamos Rafa!


Duro Says:

… and worse in given positive circumstances!


jane Says:

margot says “I’ve also noticed that Rafa plays short balls, he really does! However, his opponents don’t pounce like they would on anyone else.”

Yes, and Nalbandian exploited this at IW; he actually punished a lot of those short balls. The problem for the opponents, why they don’t attack as you’d think they would, is that Rafa is an excellent passer. So if they come in on one of those short balls, they’d better be able to put it away entirely or rally well at the net, or they’ll get passed.


jane Says:

zola says “coming from the hard court season and with all the attempt to try to make his game more hard-coourt friendly, he did not play very well. ”

I’ve read something similar; I don’t know if it was in an article or what. But it said something to the effect that Nadal’s CLAY game has been weakened due to the adjustments he’s been making for the other surfaces, to become an all-court player: grass, hard court, etc.

I am not sure whether or not that’s the case; his clay game looked good to me.

But his serve definitely is returnable and could use some work. That’s the area of his game both Murray and Djoko were able to exploit. Also when both attacked, and played aggressively, they were also able to dictate and play the game *they* wanted to play. A good return and put away volley style, like Tsonga employed at AO 08 might even work on clay?

We’ll see what happens going forward.


Duro Says:

Jane, how should I say: present year, or current year? Two mistakes in my 6:03 post, mention not mentioned and despise not despite. What do you think about Nole’s chances of regain number 3 in the end of the year? I think they are very possible.


jane Says:

If we played coulda, shoulda, woulda for a minute, and looked at the final for Djoko or the IW match with Nalbandian, one wonders, how could these guys have won their matches?

To me, with Nalbandian, it was a matter of choking; he had 5-3, he had 5 match points, but he freaked out, lost concentration and Rafa was ready to pounce.

With Djoko, I personally think even if he’d've got the break to begin the third, it might’ve been too late. The key for this match was that Djoko didn’t consolidate his break in the first set; had he done so, then the match could’ve been over in two sets. I say could’ve because who knows? But I just think it was key that he take the first set against Rafa – esp. on clay.

Rafa’s tenacity and concentration set him apart; the other guys have to emulate that and NOT get negative and frustrated, which as sensationalsafin pointed out, is not easy. I think it’s possible to beat him in best of 3 on clay – not easy mind you, but possible.

The need to avoid giving Rafa the aura that Roger had. Don’t let it build but rather, as Djoko said, come back to “the story of believing in [themselves].” It make not work but it’ll help make for exciting matches!


jane Says:

Hi Duro, I agree with you; if Djoko continues to play within himself, plays his best tennis, and keeps improving net play etc, then I think he could definitely get back number 3. But he needs to not worry about rankings and just go match by match.


Duro Says:

Another thing, Nadal lost weight. No big philosophy about his weakened serve which wasn’t powerful anyway. Many of his basic tennis elements are not superb. He has advantages and skills which are not exclusively tennis like. Only two pure talents in the game. Nadal isn’t one of them. The “ultimate competitor”, contender, that what he is. A tool, perfect cyborg tool.


Duro Says:

I think the breakthrough will be at Wimbledon. Many many points for him this year. I’m absolutely positive about it! AO cost him too much.


zola Says:

Duro,
I am not sure what you mean by “pure talent”. No one is born with a tennis racquet in their hand. Rafa’s physics and concentration and discipline has made some people think that is the essense of his game. But to me apart from his movement, net touch and ground strokes, the anticipation he has one great ability. He constanlt analyzes and adjusts his game according to the other players. He cannot stay at the top with no talent!

Sorry about the ranking confusion. did not mean to imply you don’t know the ranking system. Actulaly when Rafa is asked about rankings, he always refers to the race points. So perhaps for the players it matters.

I think the ranking system is fair. Probably there can be other systems, but until a better one comes around I have no objection to this one.


zola Says:

Duro
one more thing. Rafa lost weight to reduce pressure on his knees and I think to move faster on hard courts. I am not sure if it has anything to do with his serve. he has enough muscles to hit as hard as he wants. It is perhaps the motion because he is not a natural lefty. But during IW or Miami, he served some heavy ones. I think vy time he might get better. But he definitely needs to do something about it before RG.


Duro Says:

Zola, my friend! Happy to see you! His characteristic are amazing, but could be used in every activity or sports, they are not necessarily attached to the tennis! That was my point! He has natural advantages, not the superb tennis talent given to Fed or Nole. He’s a hard worker and a fanatic! My respect, but not my admiration regarding his tennis only. I would use him to learn my children how to beat someone, but not how to play tennis. For that I would use Fed or Nole. No hard feelings!


Duro Says:

15 years from now my children ask me: what was this Nadal guy like, he won 17 grand slams, 24 masters, 12 musters cups, he must have been awesome! Yes, definitely, I say. He must have had the best, strongest, fastest serve ever, they say. No, his second serve was 120 km/h, first never exceeded 200 km/h. say I. But he must have had best backhand in the world, they ask. Not really, at least four guys had better one, say I. His forehand must have been the best then, technically perfect? Well, it was an ugly shot, so much full of spin that the ball never got out of the court, not because of his perfect technique, but because of the physics which was forcing it down and inside all the time. But, he must have had perfect volley play, net play? Not really, average one. But daddy, How about the drop shot, did he use it a lot, was he imaginative, did he attack all the time so no one could return hiss balls? Mmmmmm, not exactly… But did he play the most beautiful tennis? Not really. But daddy, why he was the best then? Long story, my children… It didn’t have to do everything with a tennis itself…


Debs Says:

Hmmm, harsh I think Duro. I think that is more down to opinion than fact. I hope you don’t mind my saying.

“No, his second serve was 120 km/h, first never exceeded 200 km/h. say I.”

When he played Agassi, one of the best returners ever in the game (if not ‘the’ best), Agassi said that he could not believe the ‘bite’ on his serve, even his 2nd. McEnroe has said the same. He puts an incredible amount of work on it, and mixes it up well too. Smart server. Its not all about pace, although he knows he needs to improve that.

“But he must have had best backhand in the world, they ask”

For me, when Nadal is ‘on’, his backhand is one of the strongest on the tour. He can create insane angles with it, at full stretch, very little back swing. Just a flick with the wrist. Its a much flatter stroke than his forehand. I’ve also seen him create winners off of it at, when needed, one handed. Federer didn’t call him “two forehands Rafa” for nothing.

“His forehand must have been the best then, technically perfect? Well, it was an ugly shot, so much full of spin that the ball never got out of the court, not because of his perfect technique, but because of the physics which was forcing it down and inside all the time.”

You cannot count the number of times this shot has cleaned the lines. For sure he uses it with a lot of topspin during rallys, but equally he changes it up too. Its unfair to suggest that his forehand has just one ‘mode’.

” But, he must have had perfect volley play, net play?”

Nope not perfect by any means, and I would love him to employ this tactic more. But one thing he does have his net savvy. He rarely approaches the net at the wrong time, his approach shots when played are pretty damn good too – and his backhand volley can demonstrate soft hands. Its the forehand one that can let him down more. It is massively improved though, mainly through his doubles play. Check out his Coria Rome final and watch him volley then compared to now.

“How about the drop shot, did he use it a lot, was he imaginative”

The drop shot is a fundamental part of the claycourt game and he uses it a lot, he’s not too shabby at the lob either. The pick up of the dropper, in the 3rd set on Sunday to save bp, angled away for a winner was improvised. If that doesn’t take imagination and talent, I don’t know what does.

He may not play what you consider ‘beautiful tennis’, but that doesn’t mean that he is just a physical and mental beast. I believe there is no right and wrong way to play, just different styles – and we each have our preferences. As Zola says, you have to have talent, and to my mind immense talent, to be where he is. You cannot do it on athleticism alone.


Debs Says:

Wow!! Wasn’t ’til I posted that I realised how long it was! Sorry for the essay guys. *blushes*


zola Says:

Debs, great post. Many thanks.

Duro dear, how is the baby? when do you have time to watch tennis and write about it?

My point was that don’t let Rafa’s power and discipline and attitude block your way from seeing how he is really playing. Tsonga is much stronger than Rafa. I can say Nalbandian, del Potro. It is not all about power.

Debs put it beautifully. Rafa’s backhand is one of the best when it is on. His down the line forehand, brushing the line is not an accident. and while he is not a S&V player, he knows when to move forward and has good touch. Look at his backhand volley and smashed that he do not miss.

I posted two points from the match. He not only reaches impossible balls but has the touch to make them winners and that was not an accident. He had an identical point against Davydenko last year.

Again, I think you have to look past his looks and determination and attitude and you might see some beauty in his game.


zola Says:

Duro,
and don’t forget to kiss the baby for me. can I ask boy or girl?


margot Says:

Jane: better a quick death at the net than a long drawn out horror on the baseline! I feel at least you’re in with a chance there. I watched Rafa sending Andy from one side to the other on the baseline and it was not a pretty sight. I think you mentioned Tsonga, with his game he has shown he can beat Rafa, but alas his constant injuries seem to have taken care of him.
Duro: liked your spin on Rafa and think you made good points, he would excel in any sport with that extraordinary mind set.


jane Says:

Yes, I think Duro makes a relevant point about technicalities. But on the other hand, Rafa is not number 1 for nothing!

To me, Rafa’s best shot is his inside-out forehand.

margot – you said “I watched Rafa sending Andy from one side to the other on the baseline and it was not a pretty sight.”

Exactly, not pretty: but that’s why when anyone plays Rafa they have to try not to let him dictate, to switch from defense to offense. They need to keep him in “survival mode” as some have mentioned here, and above all, whenever possible, end points quickly. Attack the short balls with volleys, smashes; develop a deep approach shot, and a deep return; and use suprise shots like the dropper, sparingly. Oh ya, and be fit, be very fit.

Tall order, but we’ll see!


zola Says:

Duro and Jane

how would you compare Rafa’s shots with Djoko’s?

say forehand, backhand, volley, all those shots that Duro thinks Rafa does not have. I am curious.


Duro Says:

Zola, Debs, Margot, Jane, my intention was to use exaggeration so I could point out what I feel and how I see Nadal’s game. Of course, you are right with all you’ve said. But I’m glad you got my point as well.

I have two boys, one 6 months, and other one two and a half years old. I hold the small one in one arm and write with other one, using one finger typing. My wife is going nuts about it, but I can’t help it!


jane Says:

zola, I’d only say that no shot of Rafa’s is really “text book” material, if you know what I mean. That may be because he’s a righty playing lefty. But that is not to say his shots aren’t excellent! I was referring only to technical.

And you’ll note I’d single out Rafa’s inside-out forehand as the exception; his takes the cake!


jane Says:

zola, personally I think Rafa is better at the net than Djokovic. He has better touch at this point, but I hope Djoko continues to work on that. Even though Novak has a great baseline game / groundstrokes, if he could add in net play, he’d shorten points and games. He’s not a grinder or built to be one, imo.


Duro Says:

Zola, I’ll be happy to answer you as soon as I grab some time! But, I never said Rafa didn’t have it, I said that this was not his basic advantage. Nole plays the most beautiful tennis these days! The most imaginative, creative, attacking tennis which I appreciate the most. I don’t like defenders. I admire Fed very much but I don’t like him. I can’t help it. What I think of Rafa I told you in my little play. But I’ll try to analyze Murray’s game, that’s a challenge! No huge weapon, as Nole said, but so so hard to beat! Great big 4 anyway!


zola Says:

Duro,
kisses to both! how cute!

It is tough to analyze the game of a rival. I like federer’s game and Djoko’s ground strokes but if you ask me I say Rafa is better, because I like him so much and I like his non-text book shots. I think ( or I hope) by time you come to appreciate Rafa’s talent as well as his virtues.

Jane,
I think so too. Djoko’s ground strokes remind me of Nalby a bit. very strong and he can change direction very easily. But he is not yet very strong at the net say like Rafa or even Murray or Federer. That’s why I think playing doubles will help him a o lot. That’s how Rafa got started.

You are right that Rafa’s shots are not “text book. But Rafa uses every shot in the book and makes his strokes effective. He reads the opponent and adjusts accordingly. Yes, that inside out forehand is a beauty. I also love his backhand.

now on another subject, I saw Djoko arrived at Monte Carlo with his girlfriend ( jelena?) . But I did not see her in his box and I realized I have never noticed her in Djoko’s box. Did I miss her or does she not come to the matches?


Debs Says:

“I’d only say that no shot of Rafa’s is really “text book” material, if you know what I mean. That may be because he’s a righty playing lefty. But that is not to say his shots aren’t excellent! I was referring only to technical.”

Jane, his shots, certainly his forehand for sure is unorthodox. I suspect that as well as being a righty playing lefty it could also be that he was raised and coached at a local club where the training was not as uniformed and less “text book”. Maybe even a little uninformed on the higher levels of coaching. As I’m sure you’re aware the Spanish Federation wanted to take him to Madrid, but his family chose to keep him in Manocor.

For my part, I think that is what has made him the player he is. Nobody plays like he does – if it was easy, given his success, I’m sure more would have tried. But also I believe its where he’s gained his groundedness and mental strength.


Duro Says:

Jane, I think that Nole will be awesome at the net! He has natural talent and ability to overcome every tennis request, he’s born with it, for him it goes easy. He just didn’t pay too much attention to it because of his mighty, powerful ground strokes. Now, when he has an assignment ahead of him, he will pass that test easily, as well as with every tennis element overcame by now.


Debs Says:

On Djoko, I echo Zola, his movement, especially on changing direction is awesome and the net is definitely his weakest area, but he’s improved a lot this year. His forehand, which a while back could be wayward has become a real force now. The backhand I need say nothing about. A great shot.

My only real concern for him is when he’s really aggressive but his opponent stays with him he’s inclined to start losing his first serve and miss the lines – puts himself under pressure. Maybe needs to toughen up a tad.

But I agree with Duro, we have a great top 4 right now. Its so great not to look to see who has the weakest quarter, they’re all tough!

I hope you guys don’t mind my butting in here… *blushes*


Duro Says:

Zola, thanks! You might have seen Jelena in the semis against Wawrinka. She was sitting against Vajda, but not in the family box. They are 3 years together, and she was with him in Marseille also. She’s studying in Milan so she cannot travel with him so often.


Daniel Says:

Well, I still think Fed was the one who challenged Rafa on clay and even got himsef a lone win (Hamburgo 2007), but with his present game, not a treat anymore.

As he said, he was the one taking all the risks!

Didn’t you guys noted that agaisnt all other top players Nadal doesn’t concentrate in the backhand side, even the ones who has weaker backhands? Why he only applies that MO (as Von says) agaisnt Roger? Because he knows Fed has the game to hurt him, he saw Fed’s forehand at the top and he still fears it, althoug it is no longer the same shot.

Murray has the late contact point where he always wait to much to hit the forehand, giving Nadal plenty of time. Djoko can hit everyball, but it doesn’t cause the same damage as Fed FH did.
Nalbandian is one who can make Nadal look dizzy, he gets every ball on the rize and create insane angles taking the time away from him, something Davydenko did too, but Nalbandian has a better serve and get some chip points that the Russian does’t.
But all in all Fed won sets 6-1, 6-0 on clay, Fed had leads 5-1, 4-1 and all the time Nadal found a way to win the set. Appart from RG 2008 all their contest on clay were hard sets, 6-4, 7-5, 7-6. Djoko lost sets 6-3, 6-1 and he is right now the closest one to win against Rafa. That’s how good Nadal is on clay, even this “transition” one (hard-courts to clay)!
For Djoko to beat him on clay, he will have to do it in straights and if he keeps losing the first set, all the matches will be the same way, almost. One good set, and that’s it!

I still want to see Nadal x Nalbandian on clay, which never happen and I hope to see it this week, Nalby is in his quarters, he just need to win 2 matches. I think other than Fed and Djoko, Nalbandian and Davydenko are the ones who could hurt Nadal on clay. Murray seems to forgot how he won in the US Open 2008 and think that he will outplay Nadal into errors as he does with anyone else, silly him!


MMT Says:

Von said: “…I’ve noticed when players begin moving into the net, the opponent senses that and for a split second takes their eye off the ball, fixing their gaze on the opponent and as a result, he loses concentration and the point by hitting into the net or making a bad volley, etc. The eye-hand coordination seems to suffer in those instances.”

I agree – coming to net gives your opponent something to think about other than just getting to the shot. They have to get to the shot, determine the best placement for a pass and do so with a very small margin of error. Because you don’t have the margin to hit it 3-4 feet above the net (the net rusher in that case will have an easy time finishing off the point) you have to hit the shot just above the level of the net, which varies 6 inches from the net post to the center of the court.

If the net rusher is covering the cross-court pass, that’s very difficult and going up the line requires a lot of ball control to get it up and down quickly to reduce the reaction time of the net rusher and still keep it in when going up the line on a pass.

That said, there are players who have rushed the net over and over again (Roddick comes to mind) and still get passed very often. This is due in part to the quality of the approach shot. Modern racquets allow for tremendous spin, making the up and down part of the pass easier, and as such easier to pass, but modern racquets also leave approach shots much higher than in the past because players put too much spin on their approaches (either top or slice) and both give the passer too much time to measure their shot.

I think the solution is to hit a flatter approach shot – a little back spin, but not the kind that makes the shot come to a stand-still after bouncing. It’s hard to do because most players don’t have this shot in their arsenal, and topspin lobs are increasingly problematic for net rushers these days. But I think if they could flatten out their approach shots, or even better loop them big time, this would give them the time they need to approach and still make a pass or a lob difficult.


jane Says:

Debs – not at all! We love any intelligent input at this site and you have much insight to offer; I agree with you that much of Rafa’s groundedness and his unorthodox comes from his close-knit training and upbringing. He’s a unique talent and number 1, which can only be good for tennis (you know, different strokes for different folks and all – :-))

And by the way, I agree with you that Djoko’s serve could be more consistent; I’ve been mentioning that for some time on these threads actually, because when his serve is firing it seems the rest of his game flows so much more smoothly and he can put his energy into breaking the opponent’s serve. He’s got a great return so that’s why it’s key his serve be consistent so he can fully realize his potential.

zola – I did see Novak’s girlfriend in his box at the Masters Cup in Shanghai but I think that was one of the only times. Not sure why that is? Though I do think I read once that she’s a student, so maybe she cannot travel much? (Oops I just saw Duro’s comment; I guess he clarified things for us!)

Duro – I hope you’re right that Novak can master the net, because that is, imo, a crucial tool to have in his arsenal.


Daniel Says:

Jane, you are right regarding Djoko’s serve.

In AO 2008 his serve was the best I ever saw from him, he beat Fed in straights as a consequence. He was very frustrated with it during MC match, but maybe he could just remove some power and try to put it into court. When he served above 60% he won the set.
Same goes for Fed, nowadays he is being broken a lot, he should found his serve again and it will relief the pressure in the ground strokes.


Duro Says:

Jane, why do you have doubts about it? He has a very soft touch, very light arm (if that is expression in English), he is flexible, has great reflex, and for a very short time period since he started to practice this element, you could saw the significant improvement and only for few months of practice! As I know, not even full two months! He made it to the semis in doubles now in Monte Carlo, just because of his improvement in that element and from the fact that he’s playing doubles again you can see his intentions and determination to succeed in it! No doubts whatsoever for me!


Duro Says:

Debs, you are clever. Stop with blushes all the time. There is no need.


Duro Says:

Daniel, Jane, his serve depends on his physical strength and fitness. Damn physical element. If I could put some pounds of muscles on his skinny body nothing on earth would make me more happy regarding tennis! He would be unstoppable then! Jelena Genčić, the tennis expert that discovered him (and Monica Seleš) told to the media last year that Nole has to (this is tricky, I don’t know the exact English word, but it has to do something with becoming from a boy to a man) which means he’s not mature yet when it comes to a body, developed or something, so he’s only 21 and I’m hoping when he comes to his fully physical, body potential he’ll be absolutely perfect player, capable for consistently beating everyone, or to say from my rooting point of you, world number 1 player. Strength is only thing that he needs! Having it, everything else goes much easier and smooth.


jane Says:

Duro, I know for a short time period, I believe it was during the early-mid 2007 season, Djoko had a secondary volleying coach in Mark Woodforde (the doubles champ from Oz). This did result in some improvement, but I haven’t seen a ton of improvement in Novak since then; he is wont to stay at the baseline for the most part. However, if he does play doubles now and again, and work on improving his volleys, then I have faith!

And regarding his serve – this is not only down to strength; it’s also placement. Djoko uses a good kick serve out wide sometimes; he needs to work on placement and variation as well as power.

Like you, I believe he has it all but just needs to take those extra steps.


sensationalsafin Says:

In today’s game, I believe that Djokovic at his best has the best serve on tour. I remember watching a match where they said his second serve is consistently around 115, 118 mph. And when he does he’s not going for a lot, it’s actually his norm. He’s got a sick slice serve in the deuce side. And at his best, he can really rack up the aces. Who can forget his 3 (or was it 4) aces in a row against Fish in IW last year. Albeit Fish isn’t the greatest returner, Djokovic is a helluva server. Like Duro said, if Djokovic is strong and fit and physically sound, he’ll be the perfect player. He already has the perfect game.


jane Says:

sensationalsafin, I’d only add, then, that he needs to serve well more consistently. Whether that means adding strength and/or variation, I dunno. But you’re right: his second serve can be and has been awesome, so even if the first serve percentage isn’t super high he can get by. Even in that final against Rafa, his first service percentage wasn’t fantastic; he could still improve even from that match, which is why I think he has a shot on clay in best of 3.


Von Says:

MMT:

“That said, there are players who have rushed the net over and over again (Roddick comes to mind) and still get passed very often.”

My poor Andy R. I feel so badly for him on those occasions, but he tries and he does succeed at times, so kudos to him for trying. His net game has gotten better, and the weakness shows up only against some opponents. I expect good things from him when he returns to playing, and I look forward to his return with bated breath.
___________________
Sensationalsafin:

“In today’s game, I believe that Djokovic at his best has the best serve on tour.”

I disagree, and sorry to burst your bubble, but Roddick is the leader in first serve percentages and overall, in the serve department. I know you don’t think much of roddick, but he’s a darn good player who’s consistent and has been in the Top 10 for 8 years consecutively and counting. Some prophesy every few months that he’ll be out of the top 10, but he’s still there and that’s great for the roddick fans — the few that are left here anyway.


Von Says:

Daniel:

“Didn’t you guys noted that agaisnt all other top players Nadal doesn’t concentrate in the backhand side, even the ones who has weaker backhands? Why he only applies that MO (as Von says) agaisnt Roger? Because he knows Fed has the game to hurt him, he saw Fed’s forehand at the top and he still fears it, althoug it is no longer the same shot.”

Nadal has realized that Fed’s backhand has become weaker and he exploits that. He’s not too ure of the FH though, because that comes and goes, so he just keeps peppering the BH to draw the errors. That’s how he beats Fed, by drawing the errors and no so much by superlative shot-making and finesse, which he doesn’t have much of anyway.


Von Says:

margot:

“I watched Rafa sending Andy from one side to the other on the baseline and it was not a pretty sight. I think you mentioned Tsonga, with his game he has shown he can beat Rafa, but alas his constant injuries seem to have taken care of him.”

That’s Nadal MO v. Murray. Nadal is cognizant that he can’t out-hit Murray by playing text-book tennis, because Murray has too many shots in his repertoire to hit winners and draw UEs from Nadal, hence, Nadal employs the tactic of tiring him out, and then subdue him = Nadal wins. Nadal’s strategy is amazing in that he’s not interested in wining by pure talent, which he doesn’t possess as compared to the other guys, but he uses brut force to neutralize them. In those times where the rallies are long and manipulation comes into play, mano e mano, it’s not about tennis, it’s about the strongest one that’s left standing. There are more than one ways to skin a cat, so why not use the variety and put that to work and reap its benefits.


Kimmi Says:

“In today’s game, I believe that Djokovic at his best has the best serve on tour”

I don’t think so, even players themselves have said the best server are Karlovic, roddick.

everytime when players have to play these people they would talk about serve. 3 aces in a row have been done by a lot of other players, federer, roddick. karlovic murray etc And its always depend on who you are playing with. Good returners its difficult to rack up too many aces.


Von Says:

Daniel:

A footnote to my post on Nadal’s MO going to Fed’s backhand. As you will notice whenever Nadal is playing against Nalby he tries to stay away from his BH because he is deathly scared of it, and it puts him at a disadvantage and generates a chaotic mind-set because his game plan goes awry. It’s the reason he becomes so frustrated, because he’s so scared of Nalby’s backhand, and Nalby’s FH is not bad either, plus Nalby can match Nadal with the groundies, which means Nadal doesn’t have a safe place to hang out when they’re playing, except to engage him in long rallies to tire him out, which is Nadal’s MO when all else fails, the brut force strategy, and/or upset Nalby’s rhythm/momentum by taking injury time-outs. Unfortunately for Nalby, but luckily for Nadal, the two don’t get to meet very often, or else we’d see a lot more losses from Nadal when he faces Nalby. Boy, if wishes were horses, then beggars would indeed ride!


sensationalsafin Says:

Djokovic’s first serve percentage does need some improvement, but like I said, at his best, it’s beast in every way. Djokovic, Safin, Federer, and Sampras all have that amazing ability to hit any part of the box with great pace and any kinds of spin. But at their best. Well, Sampras could pretty much do it in his sleep. Federer has really lost his serve in the last half year. Safin hasn’t been good since… So it leaves Djokovic. Roddick’s serve never impressed me. I think it’s sweet he serves so fast. And he’s got a great kick serve, too. But his placement is moderate and it’s not coincidence all the analysts and commentators point out how everyone’s gotten used to his speed and read his serve fairly well. His improved results are a result of his improved baseline game and better strategies. His serve hasn’t improved, the way he backs it up has. So, while he consistently serves well, I think Djokovic’s serve has more potential.


sensationalsafin Says:

Karlovic is just tall, he can’t do anything else. The fact that he has wins over Djokovic and Federer eats at me probably more than it eats at them. Murray’s serve is getting there. I just think Djokovic has more variety with the spins he can generate off his serve.


Kimmi Says:

Nalbandian is in Rafa qtr in Barcelona,, really hope he gets there. Rafa and Nalby have never played on clay, I think Nadal would probably get more time to chase the balls but would be great to see this match-up.

I also think nowadays nalbandian is losing it more. He is always been unpredictable but he manage to hang in the top ten for quite sometime but now slowly but surely moving downwards. His confidence have been crashed. He lost to a qualifier in Buenos Aires ? and the AO was very poor perfomance.


Kimmi Says:

Karlovic Serve is very good, most of the time is unplayable. His problem is he cannot back it up with groundies, the moment you return it you have a great chance. players know they have to be in their toes with him, Top concentration throughout. he breaks you, you might not get a chance of breaking back. his matches are always decided by 1 or 2 points. hence the win against fed and nole. Give him credit, the guy has good serve. Nole has a great serve but I would not put him in “the best serve on tour” cartegory.


Sean Randall Says:

Andy Roddick still has the best serve in the game. And one could easily make the case that that serve is the single best weapon in tennis right now.

Novak’s serve is good, Roddick’s is much better. Had Roddick and Novak swapped serves, Roddick would drop out of the top 10 and Novak would have multiple Slams and probably would have reached No. 1 by now .

If you give Nadal Novak’s serve, Rafa’s a better player. But give him Roddick’s and Rafa becomes unbeatable on all surfaces, all the time. He’ll get even stronger mentally. Scary.

Fed’s serve is better than Novak’s, and can be on par if not better than Roddick’s. It’s just not as consistent as Andy’s. So I’d take Andy’s.


Von Says:

Well, whether Roddick’s serve has impressed you or not, he’s still got the best serve. His first serve is similar to an ace and is unreturnable.

Karlovic is not just a serve, he serves and volleys too. He beat federer playing S&v and he hit some wonderful angled volleys in that match. He’s not as one-dimensional as some say. I sometimes wonder how people come up with that terminology “one-dimensional”, because the players do more that just serve. It’s really a misnomer calling the big servers one-dimensional, and the stigma that’s attached to them is unwarranted.

Meanwhile, I’m watching a humdinger of a match between Coria and Nadal, Rome 2005 final. How I miss Coria — not only was he great on clay, but he had some nice shots and a great game. Too bad for the clay tournaments he became unwound and had to leave the sport. With him around, I’m sure Nadal would not have hogged the clay season all by himself.


Kimmi Says:

I agree Karlovic has improved his game a lot and volleys much much better, but I think he has a horrible top spin backhand. Good slice though.


Ezorra Says:

I always believe that Roddick has the best serve at the moment. Djokovic is one of the best, not the best. Federer on the other hand has a very brilliant serve, whereas Nadal has a very effective serve. All in all, the best server to me is Roddick.


jane Says:

Yes, Roddick’s serve is great and VERY very consistent, way more consistent than Djokovic’s at present, and Roddick’s serve has stood the test of time (several seasons in the top 10).

I was just looking at the stats for the year; here are the number 1′s in the service categories:

Aces: Roddick (followed by Tsonga)

First serve %: Verdasco (Roddick is 3rd)

First serve points won: Karlovic (followed by Tsonga; Roddick is 5th)

Second serve points won: Robredo (Roddick is 2nd)

Service games won: Roddick (followed by Tsonga)

Break points saved: Wawrinka (Tsonga is 4th; Roddick is 15th)

So I guess one player who stands out stats-wise who none of us really mentioned is Tsonga. But his problem is that he’s so in and out. I’d love to see what he could do consistently if he could have a season injury-free.


zola Says:

Sean,

Roddick has the fastest serve, perhaps not the best.
If you look at karlovic’s matches, it usually goes to a tie-break because it is very hard to break his serve. It is not true for Roddick. Just look at the times he has been completely wiped out by Federer.

Federer served great in Madrid 07. It reminded me of Sampras’s serves. Djoko can serve very well and also Murray.


zola Says:

Jane,
interesting stats. Especially about Tsonga.thanks.


Von Says:

jane: Those stats are just for this year — a three month period. You need to look at the over-all picture, but Tsonga is up there in the stats, especially this year.


Von Says:

Also, what’s more interesting is the fact that none of the Top 4 is in those stats.

If Karlovic’s serve is that difficult to break why is he not in the top 10, or has ever been there? Roddick being beaten by Federer does not discredit the fact that he is the best in the serve department.


zola Says:

Krlovic had the most aces in 2008 and 2007. Roddick was second.

we are talking about serve here. Roddick’s serve is fast, but easy to read.


zola Says:

Top 4 have a more complete game. Their game does not rely on just one element and that’s why they can pull themselves away from the rest.

Roddick started working on other aspects of his game and moved up. Great effort by him.


Duro Says:

“Your serve is as good as your second is”. Now analize!


I like tennis classies not tennis bullies Says:

Nadal cannot serve and volley, nor does he hit winners, just runs, that’s why he’s one dimensional!


I like tennis classies not tennis bullies Says:

As Nadal can’t s & v or hit winners, knows very well that he would easily be beaten by the other players in the top three. Nadal appears to display mental strength only when the rival’s not really fighting! Nadal’s won 14 MS, but no Masters Cup !


I like tennis classies not tennis bullies Says:

Had Novak been a little bit patient, he would have beaten Rafa at Monte Carlo. Clay GOAT Nadal?
Huh! Just wait and watch, he will indeed face a lot of problems to surpass the French Open trophy count of Borg! If he fails in it, he isn’t clay GOAT,simple!


MMT Says:

The serve is only as good at the returner allows it to be. I think Roddick’s serve purely in execution is the best on tour, as Jane’s fascinating statistics show. But it is less effective against the better players on tour and as a result he (like everyone) has more trouble beating them…well, that’s a pretty obvious statement but hopefully you get my drift :-).


Debs Says:

“As Nadal can’t s & v or hit winners, knows very well that he would easily be beaten by the other players in the top three”

Very confused here.

Nadal – Federer 13-6
Nadal – Djokovic 12-4
Nadal – Murray 7-2

I respect your preferences, but please…


sensationalsafin Says:

Debs, don’t even bother with the trolls. Obviously a Wimbledon champion can’t serve and volley, let alone hit winners, that just wouldn’t make sense… -_-


I like tennis classies not tennis bullies Says:

Thanks for conferring on me the RESPECTFUL title of ‘troll’, that too by so important a person, who thinks that Djokovic has the best serve on tour; it’s not strange that he thinks of Nadal as a serve & volley specialist! Someday he’ll also say that Djokovic is the great s & v player! I like it!


sensationalsafin Says:

I never said Nadal was a serve and volley specialist. I said he’s capable of it. Have you watched him play? You’re criticizing me for thinking Djokovic has the best serve? You claim Nadal can’t hit winners. Number 1 in the world, 6 time grand slam champ on 3 different surfaces can’t hit winners. You are just a brilliant tennis analyst, lemme tell you.


Debs Says:

Ok. Thanks sensationalsafin. Liking the face too *_*


sensationalsafin Says:

When Federer was at his peak, everyone said he was so mentally tough and probably the toughest guy mentally ever. And at his peak, he certainly was. Now Nadal’s at his peak and he’s the mentally toughest. Considering the way Federer and now Nadal dominate the sport, it’s not surprising Federer is losing his marbles. Nadal may very well follow the same path but he might be different since he’s been so tough from the very beginning. And Nadal’s game USED to be all about drawing the errors. You can’t win Wimbledon AND the Australian Open by simply waiting for your opponent’s errors.


Andrew Miller Says:

Is anyone planning on a good Roland Garros campaign? Are their any “dirt devils” (Nalbandian, are you training?)

Sorry but I’d like a new Roland Garros champ this year (I would like of course to see Andy Roddick or Roger Federer win it). I love Nadal and he earns every single match he plays, AND I want a new Roland Garros champ.

Seriously, is any player planning on making a run? Do you see Djokovic improving over the clay court season enough to stay with Nadal?

Bueller? Bueller?


Andrew Miller Says:

AND: I think this year Rafa’s got it tougher at Wimbledon. There is a roof now which makes the court a little faster (?) and the surface will be dry – there wont be any rain delays this time. I dont know who that favors, but I think it is slightly more difficult for Rafa.

The question is, if it’s slightly more difficult for Rafa, is it slightly less difficult for anyone else?


sensationalsafin Says:

The indoor court my help Fed over Rafa. Well, gamewise, not headwise. I kinda want a new slam champ, too. It was nice when Djokovic won last year’s AO. I wish Murray would win a slam, or Djoker would win another. Or Tsonga, Del Potro, Safin, etc.


Kimmi Says:

Federer this year has lost to Rafa, Djokovic and Murray. Djokovic has lost to Murray and Nadal. Murray has lost to Nadal and finally Nadal has lost to Murray.

You see where I am going ? Federer needs to work hard to beat these three, especially Murray and Nadal they have his number, it will be tough when it gets to the end of the slam, but he is been there before and he can do again…need to find that switch. While Djokovic needs to pass Nadal and Murray, he could benefit if these guys fall early.

Murray his biggest nemesis is Nadal, he is beaten federer and Djokovic so many times now, I am sure will have a lot of confidence when he has to meet them again. And lastly I think Nadal would fear Murray more than Fed and Djokovic. Just a thought but it will be interesting to see who get there in the end. To get a winner out of top 4 will be a good surprise.


sensationalsafin Says:

A winner out of the top 4 at a slam? How is that surprising?


Kimmi Says:

The last sentence should read

“To get a winner outside top 4 will be a good surprise”


jane Says:

Kimmi says “[Murray] he is beaten federer and Djokovic so many times now”… Well, Djoko still has a winning H2H with Murray 4-3 though Murray has won the last three matches. Murray’s H2H with Federer is much more striking, at 6-2 for Murray; he *definitely* has Fed’s number.


Kimmi Says:

Jane: Murray winning the last 3 matches with Djokovic shows the tide is changing.


jane Says:

Kimmi – we’ll see. :) Tides come in and go out you know. *~*


Kimmi Says:

Ok Jane, I don’t think I explain myself clearly there. Ofcourse Djokovic can beat Murray and even Federer can do the same but my point is.. the tide is swinging in Murray direction more at the moment as it was in djokovic favour months back.

If a player wins so many consecutive matches against a player they tend to build a lot of confidence when meeting the same player next time. Djokovic will have to work harder mentally to get that win again from Murray. I think its easier for Djokovic to let go a little in a match when he is giving it all and the opponent always come up with the better or these ridiculous shots.

I think a good example is Djokovic losing 1-6 in the final set with Nadal in Monte Carlo. Djokovic was matching nadal shot to shot in the second set. The way djokovic was playing, i still think its suprising to have a 6-1 final set.


sensationalsafin Says:

I think Djokovic is just struggling mentally right now. I don’t think Murray has Djokovic’s number. I think their games are too similar and at the same time have enough differences to make for an incredible rivalry.


jane Says:

I agree with you sensationalsafin; I hope Murray and Novak have a long and fun rivalry.

Kimmi, it’s a little soon to say imo. I think that Murray has broken through since Wimbledon last year, and I was/am thrilled; I like Murray’s style and variety a lot. I’m just waiting to see how he does this year, if he can win a slam.

Like sensationalsafin, I’d be happy to see a different slam winner than Rafa or Roger, be it Murray, or Djokovic/Roddick/Safin getting another one, or Nalbandian shocking us all (but not) or Tsonga. Just something fresh.

I don’t think the 6-1 final set is that big of a deal; Djoko won his 6-2. Don’t forget, Fed had a bagel at RG. And he didn’t win a set. Rafa’s just a beastie on clay.


zola Says:

Kimmi
***And lastly I think Nadal would fear Murray more than Fed and Djokovic.***

After Rafa won MC, he said that Murray has the ability to win FO!
Stephen Tignor said the same in his article about MC final.

You are right that momentum is with Murray right now. He is the second in the ATP race and has lots of confidence.

but sensationalsafin, I don’t think Djoko is struggling mentally. Look at his postmatch interview after MC final. he really believes he can win Rafa on clay and that’s theright mindset.
I think two finals gave him a lot of confidence. He has much better results now compared to the beginning of the year. I assume has is now used to the racquet too. I think his struggle is physical. He needs to get fitter.

Also the year is still young and nothing is a given. Still very hard to speculate.

And about an indoor wimbledon! oh man! I will cross my fingers for a sunny and warm Wimbledon! I don’t want indoor grass!


Kimmi Says:

“Like sensationalsafin, I’d be happy to see a different slam winner than Rafa or Roger, be it Murray, or Djokovic/Roddick/Safin getting another one”

Did you say Safin ? He can’t even win a match, let alone a slam….i know these players are your favorite but people lets be realistic. Safin will have to win 7 matches…..


Kimmi Says:

OK, I exaggerated. Safin won very few matches.


Kimmi Says:

Jane:
” I’m just waiting to see how he [Murray] does this year, if he can win a slam.”

I agree.


sensationalsafin Says:

A lot of people said the clay would help some players find form and rhythm. Namely, Federer and Djokovic. Clearly it’s worked wonders for Djoker. The one thing that’s driven Djokovic for a lot of his career was wanting to be the one people talked about. First it was all about Fed, then about Fed and Nadal. Then Djoker said, what about me, I’m just as good if not better than those 2. And he set about proving himself. Then he kinda let down a bit. But on clay, it’s all about Nadal. And after just MC, people are talking about Djokovic. So, let’s go Djokovic!!!

P.S. About Safin winning a slam. I didn’t say there’s a chance it’ll happen, I said it’d be nice to see it happen. Unfortunately, I’ve watched Safin this year…


jane Says:

Kimmi – of course Safin winning is a LONG shot, but one can dream. And don’t forget that he did get to the semis at Wimbledon last year; that’s something!


jane Says:

“Then he kinda let down a bit. ” yes. And this happened after he won a slam, not directly after but a few months later. I think those couple of shots at number 2 might’ve deflated him a little; those excellent matches against Rafa last year at the Hamburg semis, and the Queen’s finals. Both times … so close! Maybe the losses took the wind a little out of his sails. Two other things: early loss at Wimbledon, PR fiasco at USO.


Duro Says:

And changing racquet thing… But he is coming back!!!


sar Says:

Zola, re: Murray winning the FO, with all due respect to Murray, EVERYONE also said that Murray would win the AO.


zola Says:

Sar,
I know. I thought the same thing. But remember Murray had a bad cold when playing Verdasco and still fought 5 sets. he had to stay a few more days in Melbourne before being able to fly back home. So perhaps we did not see him in full potential.


Kimmi Says:

Regarding Murray winning a slam, I beleive its coming… if not now then later, but definetly has made himself a contender, thats why people gave him a chance.

Why did other players not “Federer and Nadal” did not get the same hype ? Its because Murray build it up for himself for being toe to toe with the top guys since fall 2008. Verdasco played very well in the AO, he could have beaten anyone that day, he gave Nadal the toughest match for him i believe, so no excuses for Murray to lose. And I believe he is learnt a lot from that match.

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