The Federer v. Nadal After Effect
by Sean Randall | May 18th, 2009, 12:41 pm
  • 299 Comments

Nothing brings out the tennis freaks and fans like Roger Federer v. Rafael Nadal battles. And rightfully so.

Now 24 hours after Federer’s remarkable win over Rafa in Madrid, the tennis world remains abuzz with talk of the Resurrection of Roger, the end of Nadal and everything in between. Hyperbole aside, at least people are talking about tennis again.

A few things to put the result into perspective…

First, Fed’s win really doesn’t change much for me going into the French Open. Nadal is still the heavy, heavy favorite. If you are a Rafa fan, there’s no need to panic. Not right now.

Going into Sunday I had Novak Djokovic the #2 guy behind Rafa with Fed #3. Now Fed moves up right alongside Novak and depending on the draw may even overtake him as the second favorite. The two are pretty even at this point so you can easily make a case for Novak as the second pick. If the two were to play tomorrow I’d probably take Federer, but it’s close. (The draw I believe will be available Friday so we’ll know in which half Djokovic ends up in, the Nadal or Federer by the end of the week. My money is on the Nadal half!)

And if you want to make the case that the clay and playing conditions in Madrid are nothing like those in Paris, I’ll buy that. And the players seem to agree with that, especially Rafa who didn’t sound pleased with the event as a whole.

But regardless, what the win does do is give Federer hope. False hope? Maybe. But hope where arguably there was none against Nadal, especially on clay. Federer had dropped five straight to Rafa, many in absolute devastating fashion and one a complete destruction job in his last clay meeting with the Spaniard, that of course the 2008 French Open final.

So this victory will help Federer vanquish some of those demons and it will get his head straight and boost his confidence which has to be in orbit today. I say time and time again, tennis is such a mental sport and right now mentally Federer has to be feeling the best he’s felt since last September.

For Nadal, lots of chatter of how much that 4-hour, 2-minute saga on Saturday vs, Djokovic took out of him, and it’s hard to say. I’m sure it did drain him either physically, emotionally and/or mentally, but was it the real reason Federer won? I’m not ready to say that with any certainty. I think it’s fair to make that argument that he was tired, but for me I didn’t quite see it that way.

No doubt, we’ve all seen Rafa play better than what we saw from him yesterday when he looked sluggish, error-prone and listless. Honestly, he looked a lot like the Rafa I watched in Indian Wells and Miami. That is a guy who was making a lot of uncharacteristic errors. So was he tired then, too? I don’t know.

What I do know is that Federer came out with a gameplan and executed it to perfection. He knocked Rafa right in the teeth from the get go by playing aggressive on his forehands, flying around his backhand, going for returns and even mixing in some netplay with timely dropshots and volleys. And Federer’s tactics got Rafa on his heals right away and out of his comfort zone. There’s no denying, the strategy worked.

I talk a lot Federer needing a coach and had he hired one last week, all the credit would have gone straight to that guy. Just think of the heading, “New Coach Helps Federer Solve Rafa Riddle”, etc.

But credit again to Federer, he came up with the plan and he carried it out. Question becomes, can he do it again in about three weeks in a best-of-five on a slower, heavier clay surface and win again? It’s a longshot that remains to be seen. But at least now we have something to look forward to should the top two players


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299 Comments for The Federer v. Nadal After Effect

NachoF Says:

It has also given me (false?) hope :)


Joe Wisco Says:

To suggest Novak Djokovic is equal with Roger on clay is insane to say the least. If Novak Djokovic makes it to the semi’s of FO is will be miraculous! How many times has he pulled out of FO with phantom illnesses??? You’re forgetting how fragile Novak Djokovic is in 5 set situations and if it’s the least bit hot he’ll be calling for a trainer every few games. You were wrong about Roger having no chance against Rafa in Madrid and you we’re wrong about Roger needing a coach!


REMCOM Says:

Nadal who? I pick Djokovic-Federer for the final in Paris!

REM


MMT Says:

I have to agree with Sean’s assessment of Nadal – this loss doesn’t mean much for Paris. As for Djkovic vs. Federer for the “second” favorite – for me that is a waste of time. There is Nadal and there is everyone else.

I do think Federer played much better tactically today than he has in his last 5 outings against Nadal. But it’s just as plain that Nadal was not at his best either. But there is no shame in beating a man when he is not as his best – it’s a lot better than the alternative of LOSING to a man when he is not at his best.

Djokovic, too, can take solace in his performance on the semi-final. He could have won that match many times, but just couldn’t finish the deed. But, unlike his other encounters, the finish line was well within sight, whereas previously this spring he had only played well and lost.

I think Nadal will still win the French Open this year, but it won’t be a trot like it was last year. He’ll have at least one or two tough battles along the way, but ultimately I think there’s not enough evidence to bet on anyone else.

One thing I felt Federer did differently that helped, was that he targeted Nadal’s backhand. I think the missing tool in his arsenal is a backhand up the line, which he has replaced with a drop shot. That may work from time to time, but eventually he’s going to have to consistently hit backhands up the line to counter act Rafa’s ability to target his one-handed backhand with the left handed cross-court forehand.


zola Says:

MMT

a good one. I like this sentence:

***But there is no shame in beating a man when he is not as his best – it’s a lot better than the alternative of LOSING to a man when he is not at his best.***

I still need to see the match, but I read somewhere else (perhaps ferix’s comment) that fed attacked rafa’s backhand and shortened the points rather than playing it to Rafa’s forehand and let him start a rally.

fed was more effective on breakpoints and Rafa was not. All in all fed was sharper and was able to eacute his game plan. whether he can do it in RG in 5 sets, we have to see.

As for Djoko, I really wish to see him and Verdasco in Fed’s half in RG.


NachoF Says:

MMT,
there is no denying that Nadal is overall the best clay court player out there, but the point is that he is NOT that far from the rest, and if he happens to not be at his best against someone like Fed/Verdasco/Djokovic/etc there is a good chance he will not win…. what happened at Madrid (someone pushing Nadal to the limit thus making him very tired for the next match) could very well happen again at Roland Garros.


jane Says:

“If Novak Djokovic makes it to the semi’s of FO is will be miraculous!” Well, not quite, since he has made it to the semis of the FO the last two years in a row, pushing Nadal the hardest of anyone last year, when Rafa was at his most “beastly” :)

Sean, funny title – indeed people have been intensely debating it for a while.


Voicemale1 Says:

It was clear that Federer finally changed a few things to play Nadal on clay, and some were good. Others – dunno how that’ll work out in a Best of 5. The good thing was his taking of many Nadal shots to his backhand early, that is, when he eventually played a backhand. And that’s the downside. Federer’s strategy was clearly to run around his backhand at every opportunity, and play his forehand to Nadal’s backhand in the Deuce Court for as long as possible. Not too sure how that strategy will work out over a Best of Five Set Match. Federer also ran around his backhand on more than a few Nadal second serves – made some and missed some. Since he’s so far out in the Doubles Alley doing that he’s compelled to hit a winner from there. Risky stuff.

One stunningly odd statistic in the match was Federer’s ratio of Winners to Errors. He had 25 unforced errors in two sets, and that’s way too high. He got away with it due to an equal number of winners. If he has to keep cleaning up that amount of errors with an equal number of winners, his own margin for error will shrink with each successive match.


MMT Says:

NachoF, you seem to have contradicted yourself here.

Either he’s not that far from the rest of the field and as such can be beaten fair and square, without qualifications like the one you gave (i.e. “(someone pushing Nadal to the limit thus making him very tired for the next match)”) or he IS very far ahead of the rest of the field, in which case the only way he should lose is if something unusual happens like “(someone pushing Nadal to the limit thus making him very tired for the next match)”.

It seems you’re trying to have your cake and eat it too.

I happen to think that he is VERY far ahead of the field on clay, less so on other surfaces, but still ahead nonetheless, and anything that puts him out of his comfort zone will improve everyone else’s chances, including Federer and Djokovic. But if I had to place a bet, I’d place it on Nadal regardless of the odds.

There are a few caveats – in the past he has played Rafa straight up, and mostly reacted to Nadal’s tactical approach of pelting his backhand with the cross-court forehand. Yesterday, Federer finally started to target Nadal’s backhand which is definitely his weaker wing which has been giving him a lot of problems all week. To be fair his forehand wasn’t great all week either, but in the clutch he did well with both wings against Djokovic.

Another positive for Federer is the fact that he didn’t lose his serve despite facing more break points than he himself had earned. For sure it helped that he was serving 62% first serves, but even on his best days against Nadal in the past he has lost his serve at least once. The last positive he can take from the match (aside from the obvious…winning) is that he was able to convert both break points on the first try. If you think back to his 5 losses against Nadal in the last 18 months, he’s had a hard time converting break chances, of which he has had many.

Federer has lost to a “tired” Nadal before – last year at Hamburg and this year in Melbourne, so you can deduce from reverse-logic if Nadal lost it is BECAUSE he was tired, but it’s a poor and incomplete deduction. Furthermore, if Federer spend less time on the court (in spite of Nadal’s walkover in round 3) that’s down to him taking care of business efficiently with previous opponents and Nadal being unable to do the same.

Federer has to be in a position to take advantage of any deficiency in Nadal, just as Nadal has to be in a position to take advantage of any deficiency in Federer. Whether they’re tired, or injured back/knee/pinky toe, or off their game, or just got married, or being sued by a friend, or don’t like the surface, or the altitude or whatever else to which one may attribute his loss. At the end of the day, each has to play well enough to win.

That’s what Nadal did in Australia and that’s what Fed did in Madrid.


fed is afraid Says:

roger will not be winning the french, and if novak lands in his half he will lose to him. roger will only win big events when the luck is all on his side, like Wimbledon 07, us open 08 and yesterday. when it is all a level playing field roger will lose.


MMT Says:

Voicemale1: having more winners than errors on clay is a rarity – for that statistic/ratio, one must consider the surface. I agree with your assessment of some changes – he did run-around the backhand on second serves, which he has more time to do, ironically, on clay, but to me the big difference was the isolation of Nadal’s backhand (from his forehand) and the backhands down the line – I don’t think I’ve ever seen him hit so many in a row. The first break point at 5-4 Federer in the second is a good example – they must have hit 6 backhands up the line in a row –both trying to avoid each other’s forehand.

I actually think Federer has been running around the forehand too often in rallies against Nadal, pulling himself too far off the court without enough of a payoff. If you run around the backhand, you better kill the point or set up a kill shot, and not just get it back in play. In Australia I was amazed at how often he either hit his backhand cross court right back to Nadal’s forehand, or ran around the backhand to hit a rather tame forehand only to leave the deuce court wide open for Nadal.

Yesterday he clearly decided “what’s good for the goose is-”…well, maybe “anything you can do, I can do better…” is more appropriate.


Kimmi Says:

MMT, excellent analysis.


mem Says:

Sean Randall, i’ve wanted to ask you a question for sometime now, but i always get involved in discussion and forget to do it. i recall visiting this site maybe, about two years ago and an article grabbed my attention, entitled, “RAFAEL NADAL WILL NEVER BE #1.” at the time, i thought the title & content was very bold and premature, but the author made his point convincingly, presenting a basis for his personal argument. the title of that particular article occasionally rings back to me when i watch nadal play and realize all that he has accomplished at age 22. despite all of the criticism, he did become world’s #1. so, when i become reactive to comments that i regard as insane sometimes, the title of that same article reminds me that there is nothing anyone of us can write, say, think, or predict that will change the destiny of any player. i can’t recall who wrote it. my question is, if you weren’t the author of the article, do you remember who wrote it? when sharing it with others, i would like to be able to identify the writer. thanks!


Jack Says:

@mem: The author was Guerry Smith see http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2008-03-29/409.php


Von Says:

I’ll add that I believe Fed won the battle yesterday, but he may have lost the war.

In his match, Fed showed Nadal his new strategy, which is a sound one, Fed’s change-up shot, his execution of going down the line with his forehand and also targeting Nadal’s backhand, (which is only fair, smiley here in jest), since Nadal loves to target Fed’s backhand and Fed gave him a dose of his own medicine, ha ha. Additionally, because Nadal has been playing so far behind his baseline, Fed was able to win quite a few drop shots, which worked, but after a while Nadal began anticipating them, however, he tried and failed, because he had too much ground to cover from playing so far behind the baseline. Fed also came up to the net and finished off some of his points, but that only happened in most of his service games, where he constructed the point and was able to execute it as planned.

I saw Federer use serve and volley in ’06 Rome for one and one-half sets and it worked, but then he stopped, and the end result = Nadal won. Why Fed has never tried these new strategies before, the down the line and backhand shots, is anyone’s guess, but the fact is, he did, and the results = Federer wins! I also wonder if Fed took notes how Djoko played nadal by going down the line, which is Djoko’s signature shot, and if so, I guess Fed learnt something from the kid. ha, ha. What’s the saying? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Well, if Fed did take a page out of Djoko’s book , then the old dog indeed learnt a few from the young ‘un. ha, ha.

Hence, in view of the foregoing, I think Fed showed Nadal his hand, and now Nadal will be looking for: (1)the down the line forehand shot(but this is if his sometimes errant FH will comply); (2) Fed’s targeting of Nadal’s backhand; (3) the drop shots; and (4) Fed teeing off on Nadal’s second serve by moving into the court and taking the ball early; (5) taking the ball on the rise in some instances, and this could work better at RG than Madrid. I also want to add that the atmosphere at Madrid is enabling to Fed’s game, as opposed to Nadal’s. Hence Fed will probably be forced to play differently at the FO, due to the court playing a lot slower than Madrid, which plays like a fast court and was a decided advantage to Fed v. Nadal.

Nadal has a week to work on this new game plan of Fed’s and I’m sure, he and his team will come up with a counter-attack plan to neutralize Fed’s new strategy. The question Fed has to ask himself, can he execute his new strategy v. Nadal in 5 sets, assuming nadal doesn’t have an answer to this new plan, where the mind has a way of reverting to it’s former state? In 2 sets, it’ll work, but we might have seen a different match I’m sure, had Nadal been able to take the match to a third set. In that scenario, Nadal probably could have won, due to the old demons returning in Fed’s mind, and as we’ve seen recently against some players, Fed has a tendency to implode in the third set. In order for Fed to win in five (5) sets v. Nadal, he has to keep his thinking cap on throughout the match and not play by rote, or else it will be a disaster. However, only time will tel … in two weeks, perhaps? To be or not to be, that is the $1.5(?) million dollar question!


mem Says:

thanks, jack!


Von Says:

MMT: Mon Ami, glad to see you back. I see you ran away from the other thread. LOL. Too hot to handle, or too crazy to handle? You went, you saw, but you couldn’t conquer!!! LOL. Same here.

BTW, did you watch the Wimby celebraton matches? We’ll have to talk tennis some other time when the excitement has calmed down. LOL.


Sasha Says:

Sorry, but just who wasn’t talking about tennis before Federer won in Madrid?


zola Says:

Von,

Federer likes to play mind games. He did the same to Roddick in Kooyong 2007. He lost to Roddick in the Kooyong final and then played a completely different match in AO and crushed Roddick. I remember reading somewhere that he said it was inentional. I have to find the link. So I don’t think he will give his strategy to Rafa just a week before RG.

Rafa needs to be cautious and just stick to his own game plan. What Fed used in Madrid may or may not be the same tactic he will use in RG. Rafa needs to be ready for both cases. I read that in Madrid he let Rafa serve first to change things. Usually he would not have done this.


chad Says:

I think it might be fair to say that Roger Federer is the best clay player to have never won the French Open, and its only because he loses to the best clay player of all time. If anyone is going to topple Rafa in a clay final, it’s Roger. I’m just not sure this is his year.


Kimmi Says:

Sean says “So this victory will help Federer vanquish some of those demons and it will get his head straight and boost his confidence which has to be in orbit today. “

I agree. His confidence was crushed immensely after the loss in the AO. The way he broke down in matches re Djokovic, Murray could show that. Some could argue maybe other factors cause that.
To be able to hold his own until the end while playing the most mentally tough player in this era will boost his confidence in important tournaments to come especially Wimbledon. Hopefully those 2nd or 3rd set collapse will be the thing of the past.

Sean says “I say time and time again, tennis is such a mental sport and right now mentally Federer has to be feeling the best he’s felt since last September”

Good example is how Novak was struggling in the beginning of this year and got the boost after he got that second win from Federer in MC I think, everything seem to fall into places after that, he never look back .

So it’s all waiting to be seen if Federer can maintain this level.


skeezerweezer Says:

mem,

Sorry, it would be nice to find that writer. It would be also nice to find writings that Federer is the GOAT. I think people that predict, on both sides, is for entertainment and opinions, which everyone has a right to. Historical facts tell the the real truth, and when someone says “I said Rafa would be number one” will come out of the woodwork and claim it. People that say he never would, obviously would like to disappear.

Now, people ( Like Mr Brad Gilbert ), are predicting Rafa will be the GOAT, and Roger is done. I wonder if someone can get a spreadsheet going on how many wins, how many semis and finals Rog and Rafa have been in. I wonder if someone could post a spreadsheet on the past greats with wins, semis, and finals and compare with Fed and Rafa. That would be interesting.

Regarding Rafa’s fan’s excuse about tiring, this wasn’t the only time fatique has been an excuse by his fans. The fact is, he plays a very physical game the HE chooses, which you will notice no one on the tour plays as physical as he does. HE only plays one way, Heavy powerful topspin swinging violently. Slice is only used as keeping the ball in play, not as a weapon. Naturally, as a result, his body may take a toll more than the other players. This is why if I was a big fan of his I would like him to play less tourneys, he’ll last longer.

Back to Madrid, was it Rogers fault that Rafa has to play so physical to win a match, thus making him fatiqued?? I wish we would get over the excuses. Yes he played a 4 hour match. I do not agree at 22 you can’t recover well enough to compete and at a high level enough to win. Look in Rafa’s past tourneys. He has had tough Semi’s and turned around and won the finals. HEll, look at the Aussie open? Fernando and him played what, 5+ hours then the finals he beats Fed on hard courts? C’mon!. Tennis is a physical sport. Part of winning is being fit and in condition. Look at Agassi in his thirties at US open he had some five setters and still lasted well into the tournament.
Sorry mem, I don’t buy your Fatique argument. For us athletes, that is a cop out. Get in better shape. You are going to play these long matches and back to back sometimes. That is what the training is for.

I will predict one thing, and you see signs of it already ( Rafas chronic knee problems ). He will not last past 28. And it wouldn’t surprize me if it is earlier. Make sure you save this post so I can eat my hat if I am wrong.

Oh and by the way, no disputes here, Rafa is #1, but guys are coming faster in the top 4 or 5 on his #1 status alot faster than they did in Roger’s prime # 1 years.


Kimmi Says:

Zola: “in Madrid he(federer) let Rafa serve first to change things. Usually he would not have done this.”

I was surprised too because he is always elected to serve when he wins the toss but I believe he did the same in MC final 08. There he broke Nadal straight away but then Nadal broke back and the rest is history.

Whoever has helped federer to play these tactics with Nadal kudos to him. what was that story came out a week after MC that federer was training with a lefty (can’t remember the name) somewhere in Italy ?


skeezerweezer Says:

Chad,

I totally agree. No one here seems to have any historical sense. If you take out Rafa ( I know we can’t cause he is the King of Clay right now )and compare Rogers record on Clay, Hard, Grass with ANYBODY, who measures up? Only Borg, I would believe, who never won the US open. Sampras, McCenroe, etc. bring on the comparisons and we are dealing with a player who is not even finished yet. Once someone figures out how to beat Nadal, he will be done. He only plays one style. Guys like Fed, upcoming Murray and Novak have more tools, just not the overwhelming power. But power is short lived in this game. Rafa’s domination is not over by any means, but it won’t be nearly as long as Rogers, or Murrays


Kimmi Says:

“Rafa’s domination is not over by any means, but it won’t be nearly as long as Rogers, or Murrays”

Murray domination has not even started yet and you think he will dominate longer than Nadal. It required not just talent to dominate, high level of mental toughness as well, which he has not mastered yet. I think that is a very premature speculation.


mem Says:

Skeezerweezer, it’s not my intention to diminish your expertise, because i’m sure being a player yourself, you know every in and every out of the sport, but when i make comments, i’m confident that what i have say has substance and is sound thinking. however, i don’t recall blaming roger for rafa’style of tennis. everybody wasn’t born to be the perfect player like roger, with all the right strokes. some players have to cultivate their talents, but i think rafa does exceptional well with what he has. after all,tennis would be very boring if they all played like roger. it takes a mixture of styles to generate excitement. in reference to nadal’s knees, that’s a discussion that happens every year. in my opinion, it’s wishful thinking in many instances. nonetheless, i try to let others predict his longevity. i’m not God, so i can’t see into the future. predictions means absolutely nothing to me. anybody can make them! i’m interested in the facts, actuality, final results, if you will. like you said, history will eventually tell the story! in the meantime, it is what it is and whatever will be, will be. i’m just elated that nadal or federer’s future doesn’t depend on our predictions or what we write.


PietjeP Says:

Well; the tactics were right. I see people here say that it’s risky and Nadal will figure it out. Who cares? For me that doesn’t matter. The way Roger played Rafa on clay the last 3 years didn’t work for him. (trading heavy groundstrokes, going in the grind with Rafa).

So go for broke. Try to hit the winner. Go insane on Rafa’s second serve. Mix it up with some volleying and dropshots to prevent Rafa from getting rythm and taking his favourite court position (far far back).

Miss all the shots and lose? Who cares.
Fed can only win something in Paris; he has nothing to lose. And a guy who has nothing to lose, is the most dangerous guy there is out there.

If he deploys those tactics and if he is in the zone that day and has some high % serving; he can beat Rafa. Do I see it happening this year; no. Unfortunately not.

Eventually the thing with Rafa will be the same as happened with the Fed from 05/06/07; after losing a couple… everybody smells blood. Most will not win, but they will give him a harder run for his money.


Skorocel Says:

skeezerweezer: “Rafa’s domination is not over by any means, but it won’t be nearly as long as Rogers, or Murrays”

Funny how people already talk about the end of Nadal’s domination, when it is actually 2009 which is (or at least “seems to be”) his best year…


PietjeP Says:

And as far as the draw; Whomever wants to win RG (or any other tournament) needs to be able to beat everybody and even consecutive. No crap about being tired or having a tough draw.

If you are too tired in the end you should have beaten your last opponents faster. What is the saying? You can’t win a grand slam in the first week, but you can lose it there….?


FoT Says:

PietjeP I was thinking the same thing. When this Madrid final came on, I was at church but I wasn’t even worried about it because I said “well, Roger has nothing to lose”. No one expected him to win… everyone knew Nadal would make it – what the last 8 wins over him so I told my husband… I wish Roger would just go out there with the attitude – hey, I’m going to play and relax because I have nothing to lose.

He played within himself. The pressure really was on Nadal. This is something that Roger has had on him basically since 2004. But now..with him not even having won a title up to yesterday, the pressure was really off because people were just trying to think what the ‘score’ would be..would it be another beat down? Would Roger even get a set?

I even liked the mind-game (if you could call it that) where Roger took his seat and just waited and waited and waited until Nadal finally got up first to the coin toss. Usually it’s Nadal who sits and then sprints out there after the opponent is waiting with the ref. at the net…waiting for Nadal to eat his energy bar, drink some water, and line up his water bottles. But not yesterday. It seemed like Roger said – heck nothing in the past has worked, I’m just going to change everything. He didn’t serve first, he didn’t get up to the net first, etc.

So I hope Roger goes into the French with that burning desire that has gotten him to the last 19 SF in grand slams before, but if he happens to make it back to the French Open Final against Nadal, he needs to go into it like he did yesterday with the attitude “I have nothing to lose”.

Again – that win yesterday probably means nothing for the French – but at least he has given us Federer fans something to talk about. He’s given us at least a little hope whereas we had none before, especially with his record this year.

Zola…you talked about the mind game Roger used on Roddick. During that exhibition match, Roger came in to the net at every opportunity because he said “it was a windy day and I didn’t want to disrupt my rhythem from the baseline before the AO”…so he rushed the net at every instance. Then at the AO, he used his passing shots because Roddick tried to get to the net before Roger – and Roger basically stayed back at the baseline and passed all day!


Vared Says:

If Federer couldn’t beat a tired, worn out Nadal on an ultra- fast paced, medium bouncing clay court, then he’d never beat him. Madrid, like Hamburg is not relevant.


Skorocel Says:

PietjeP:

“The way Roger played Rafa on clay the last 3 years didn’t work for him. (trading heavy groundstrokes, going in the grind with Rafa).”

That’s easier said than done. With Nadal on clay, no matter how much you’re going for your shots, you simply CAN’T blast 3000 winners against him – it’s simply impossible! Maybe if he’s tired (like on this past Sunday) or injured, but forget about that when he’s 100 % ready! Unless your racquet is firing twice as fast as is Nadal’s, the vast majority of the rallies will ALWAYS be a grind…

“Fed can only win something in Paris; he has nothing to lose.”

I don’t think so. No matter how hard he tries to downplay his chances or how heavy a favourite Nadal will be, that thought of winning the lone slam which is still missing in his collection will ALWAYS be there. Now add Nadal and you have a deadly combination… But well, this is it for Fed. This is what can define his career – and he knows it. Can he do it? Mal sehen…


mem Says:

skeezerweezer, you mentioned that nadal has “one style of play” and players know how he’s going to play. it’s pretty impressive having one style of play; everybody is familiar with it and still can’t beat you the majority of the time. that’s pretty extraordinary don’t you think?


Skorocel Says:

FoT: “I even liked the mind-game (if you could call it that) where Roger took his seat and just waited and waited and waited until Nadal finally got up first to the coin toss.”

I noticed that too! At first, I was thinking the camera just wasn’t turned enough to the left in order to view Fed, but once it turned to the left, the guy indeed wasn’t there yet… Fed finally giving the master of mind-games the taste of his own medicine? As strange as it may seem, that’s what happened on Sunday…


zola Says:

FoT,
Every player has a routine and if Fed thinks that him sitting longer before the match starts or letting Rafa serve first will disrupt rafa’s mind, then it shows desperation to me. But of course he can try it and he in not the only one. Tsonga did that in AO semi-final among some other examples. Rafa just does what he has to do.

For someone who was world number one for such a long time to try to disrupt his opponents mentally, is just strange to me. But what do I know? Anyway, if Fed needs that to win, let him try!

I have to find the link where fed talks about Roddick match . It was a while after AO and he mentioned both matches. I will post it when I find it.


zola Says:

PietjeP
You are absolutely right. whoever wants the crown, needs to fight for it.

I really truely hope to see Verdasco and Djoko on Fed’s side. If he can beat Verdasco in QF, Djoko in Semi and Rafa in the final, who can dispute his powers on clay anymore?


zola Says:

Kimmi,
I think both Murray and Djoko have another year or two to get to their peak and who knows how long they can dominate? My guess is Murray will be better on clay and Djoko will be more fit and stronger and it will be a real battle. They both can dominate . Maybe theirs will be the next big rivalry.


Kimmi Says:

FoT: “I even liked the mind-game (if you could call it that) where Roger took his seat and just waited and waited and waited until Nadal finally got up first to the coin toss.”

LOL, I did not see that, I would have loved to see. But, what was federer doing while waiting for Nadal? I know Nadal always look busy with his water bottles, energy bar etc ha ha


Skorocel Says:

zola: “Tsonga did that in AO semi-final among some other examples.”

Looks it worked :)

“Rafa just does what he has to do.”

Indeed :)


zola Says:

Skorocel,
Maybe it worked in AO, but he got creamed in IW and Miami.

yes, Sodeling tried that in wimbledon too. It is just strange to see the former number 1 and GOAT candidate resort to tactics like that. But Good luck!


Von Says:

mem: “…you mentioned that nadal has “one style of play” and players know how he’s going to play. it’s pretty impressive having one style of play; everybody is familiar with it and still can’t beat you the majority of the time. that’s pretty extraordinary don’t you think?”

Absolutely, and very impressive. It’s even more impressive because it’s a WYSIWG situation ‘what you see, is what you’ll get’ and if they still can’t handle it, then there’s not much that can be said is there?

I still feel, that Nadal is lulling Federer into a false sense of security and they are both playing mind games. I mean which would you rather have, Madrid or the FO? We’ll see …..


Kimmi Says:

Zola, these are only speculations by fans. No one knows for sure why Fed or Tsonga or Soldering waited longer. Unless they have mentioned something in their interviews. Nadal still remains an overwhelming favorite in FO – tactic or no tactic. But it just gives Federer/Djokovic fans a little hope that’s all.


Skorocel Says:

“It is just strange to see the former number 1 and GOAT candidate resort to tactics like that.”

Indeed it is. Be it a tactics or a habit ;-)


zola Says:

Kimmi,

I wanted to think that way too. But read this:
from (tennis.com)

***********
Federer did everything possible yesterday to shut Nadal down and take him out of his comfort zone, as confirmed by this exchange from post-match interview:

Question: Two things: Normally you wait for Nadal at the net. This time you let him wait. And instead of serving first you decided to receive. Mind games?
Federer: I just thought today should be different. The players let him do too much, they let him determine his rhythm. When you’re playing against him, it takes 20 minutes from the time you leave the dressing room until the first ball change. Normally it should be only be five to ten minutes. This time I took my time, stopped, and looked to see how patient he was. And today I had little to lose, so I took it with humor. Perhaps it helped me play more freely.

Full text here: http://tinyurl.com/p65pte

Translation from this blog: http://allineedisapicketfence.wordpress.com/
**************

Well, anyway, at the end the match is determined by the racquets. let’s see what happen if they both reach the final in RG.


St4r5 Says:

It is not logicall that someone gives up a final match for the sake of playing mind games! I have a feeling Roger Federer is going to quietly take FO crown this year, then Wimbledon then US. People will then start saying about the weak era again! It is not about weak era at all! Not logicall, c’mon, it is about the Fed raises the bar, he has been practicing really hard quietly and I thing it is starting to pay dividends.


zola Says:

Kimmi,
FO is already interesting because this year Djoko has stepped up his game on clay. To me the more inhteresting question is who will end up with Djoko on his half .Both Rafa and Fed have to reach the final first.


St4r5 Says:

It will be very scary if the Fed is completely back. Every tennis player (that includes Rafael Nadal) on earth will come to the court with fear in their heart. It is just a puzzle for Fed, once he finds the way to solve it, it’s hopeless for everyone else.


Skorocel Says:

Federer: “This time I took my time, stopped, and looked to see how patient he was.”

Gotta love this :) Way to go, Roger!


zola Says:

OK folks,

some nice analysis by Bodo about the final. This is end bit. I copy it here because we talked about the fatigue a lot. You can read the whole article here:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=4175288&name=bodo_peter
*********
Nadal had to play four hours and change in his semifinal against the resurgent Serb on Saturday (Nadal brushed off three match points). It isn’t fair to Federer to focus on Nadal’s physical and emotional fatigue, but it certainly played a part in the final. And let’s remember it was Federer who once suggested that a Masters can be more demanding than a major, simply because a player may find himself playing long or debilitating matches against top competition on consecutive days. As Nadal said, “I never tend to use an excuse, and if I’m tired it’s because I played longer than I should have yesterday, and today I played less. That’s the way sport works.”

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


zola Says:

and with that seeya all later. Seems we have addressed all the problems in the world of tennis! pheww….


Skorocel Says:

St4r5: “I have a feeling Roger Federer is going to quietly take FO crown this year, then Wimbledon then US. People will then start saying about the weak era again!”

Well, unless he beats Nadal & Murray & Djoker at the same time, I can clearly imagine that… Anyway, love your optimism here :)


Andrew Miller Says:

Ha. Reading Zola’s excellent excerpt about Nadal’s methods and Federer’s new response, I am reminded by the line from the mother who was presumed dead in the movie “Malice”, when the protagonast suddenly becomes wise to the tactics of his opponent.

“Was the name of the Doctor David Lillianfield?”
She said: “Welcome to the Game.”

So I think this is good stuff – Federer is finally not complaining about the million hours between points – all of the sudden its a two way street. Nadal can take an hour between points, and Federer can reflect on what he just saw in a point and capitalize on it for a future point.

I dont know about you, but that to me says Federer is learning. And, as Von mentioned, I am sure that team Rafa is prepping Nadal for Federer’s new tactics, but it seems to me as though he’ll have to cram hard for this exam.

Last, whatever Federer showed he also got to practice some new things against Nadal, and I hope he’s not done. I would hope Federer is taking more notes on Nadal and getting his scouts to find out some more during the first week of Roland Garros. After all…there is only so much that Nadal and Tony can do to change Nadal’s strategy in one week. If he goes down…so be it.

If he wins…so be it.

As for Federer’s own scouting and cruelty…look no further than AO 2007. He indeed was scared after losing a set (US open final 2006), then facing a match point (Masters China 2006) and losing an exhibition (Kooyang) that he played a practice set DURING the AO against Roddick in 2007, where he lost. You dont think Federer used what he learned to turn the tables?

Hopefully Federer will win this year. I want Roddick to win, but again that’s a little too much hope for the dirt. I would want Baghdatis to win..again, too much hope.

I also think that it’s important to consider another factor: the clay might play fast if it’s hot in Paris. It was about 10 years ago when another guy knocked off a defending champ from Mayorca…


Kimmi Says:

Zola: thanks for the link.

“And today I had little to lose, so I took it with humor. Perhaps it helped me play more freely”

ha ha. thats great I love it.


zola Says:

St4r5,
just a reminder before I leave, that a 17-year old Rafa won Fed when he was 22 and was in a forty something win streak “on hard courts in Miami 2oo4″ and denied Fed the French open in his most dominant years.
I think it is only good for tennis if the old Fed is back. Challenge, yes, but fear, I don’t think so.

cheers!


zola Says:

Andrew Miller,

Great post. Fed did both. He said the match on Saturday was not that long because of all the time Rafa and Djoko took between the points. But he did it himself in the final. Again, whatever works for him.

Indeed, the big show will be played in three weeks. As I said before, forst Rafa and Fed should both reach the final. Would that be a record in itself? numbers 1 and 2 playing the final for 4 years in a row?

and then, may the better player win. Statistically, it is more difficult for Rafa. How many players have won a GS more than 4-5 times? The odds of losing is more than winning. either way, history will be made.


Von Says:

Andrew Miller:

“As for Federer’s own scouting and cruelty…look no further than AO 2007. He indeed was scared after losing a set (US open final 2006), then facing a match point (Masters China 2006) and losing an exhibition (Kooyang) that he played a practice set DURING the AO against Roddick in 2007, where he lost. You dont think Federer used what he learned to turn the tables?”

When I read Roddick played a practice set v. Federer I felt like smacking Andy for his stupidity in showing Federer his hand. Federer went on to change his strategy and he beat Andy, because Andy was prepared to play Federer based on what happened in practice and he didn’t have a plan B. These guys need to learn to be better poker players. The lesson to be learnt, in essence, never think your opponent is your friend, because he’s not. In business, there aren’t any friends as in gladiatorial wars — it’s mano e mano.


Daniel Says:

“Every player has a routine and if Fed thinks that him sitting longer before the match starts or letting Rafa serve first will disrupt rafa’s mind, then it shows desperation to me.”

“It is just strange to see the former number 1 and GOAT candidate resort to tactics like that.”

Zola, You can’t be serious!!!
Sorry to pic on you but What do you call Nadal’s antics in Rome 2006: several trainner breakes, conversations with Toni, he used everything he could to win that match. C’mon, this is just hyphocris!.

And by the way, no one mention one strange thing that happened yesterday. In the second set at 3-2 Roger Serving I think (not sure, but I jknow he was already a break up), he was up 40-30 and he double faulted, he looked at Nadal to check the mark because he thought the serve was good, Nadal went to service line and marked a ball, the referee didn’t came down to confirm it because boht he and Fed believed in Nadal. Once the TV showed the replay of the ball, it was half in! I couldn’t believe it, and it´s not the first time, in Wimbledon last year it happen too.

You said you are going to watch the match, so please take note on that and I want to hear what you have to say about that.


Sean Randall Says:

Did Roger “show his hand” too early? Perhaps. This will give Uncle Toni & Co. time to combat it if they even feel they need to.

But regardless of how Nadal feels physically, if Federer plays the way he did Sunday, uses that same aggressive gameplan, he will be in the match should he get another chance at Nadal in the French Open final.

As I said, I don’t know if it will be enough, but at the very least it gives him hope, gives him a chance. Whereas if he plays passively and tries to beat Rafa off the ground like he’s tried in the past he stands next to no chance.

And for the many Nadal fans, when was the last time your guy lost in your mind a legitimate clay court match. If the two losses to Federer don’t count, nor the loss to Ferrero (blisters), when then? Just curious.


Von Says:

Daniel:

“And by the way, no one mention one strange thing that happened yesterday. In the second set at 3-2 Roger Serving I think (not sure, but I know he was already a break up), he was up 40-30 and he double faulted, he looked at Nadal to check the mark because he thought the serve was good, Nadal went to service line and marked a ball, the referee didn’t came down to confirm it because boht he and Fed believed in Nadal. Once the TV showed the replay of the ball, it was half in! I couldn’t believe it, and it´s not the first time, in Wimbledon last year it happen too.”

I saw that, and I thought to myself, Oh no, why didn’t the lazy umpire get down and check that mark. i suppose you remember my comment on those many ball marks and the confusion it causes? This past week at Madrid I saw several instances where the lines people didn’t know which mark they called out, in, around, or whatever. Talk about a comedy of errors, well there it was in the cage/box, et al.

I wish they’d install Hawkeye at the FO, if not for anything else, but to put the players’ mind at ease, because it’s a mind thin g if they feel the ball was called right they move on, if not they become fixated on a point and some of them can’t shake it off.


zola Says:

Daniel,

I have not seen the match. the tennis tv will probably put it for download in a few days and I will purchase it then. I will definitely check it out.

I am sure if it is as you say, it would be on youtube in no time and we will have a chance to see what happened.

About Rome and Wimbledon, I would appreciate if you can provide some links. I have the wimbledon 08 tape and have watched it a copule of times. Can you tell me which set or game this happened?

Just one thing, to be a Fed fan, you don’t need to hate or dislike Rafa.


zola Says:

Sean,
to answer your question, I think Rafa was quite even with Djoko on Saturday. It could have easily been Djoko playing the final yesterday.I thought if he had won that match, that would have been the first legitimate victory of any player on clay against Rafa.

After that I rate Sunday’s final, Hamburg 07, and the last one is Rome 08.


mem Says:

Sean, whether federer showed his hand to early or not if he brings to roland garros the stuff that he brought to the madrid final, it won’t make a difference, will it? nadal won’t be able to stop him. the way roger played Sunday, nadal is probably shaking in his boots because he just might have to face the old federer and we all know what the old federer is capable of. maybe federer is returning to his days of glory and maybe not! if he is back to his winning ways, i’ll be the first to pay homage in a loud voice! i just need to see more than one match before making that decision. that said, maybe, i’m missing something, but i did not see anything in the madrid final that leads me to believe that roger has some new winning strategy that will enable him to consistently turn the tables on nadal. i’ll have to see it to believe it! i’m sure that i’m in the minority, but i’ll take my chances and keep all my eggs in the nadal basket and see what happens.


TD (Tam) Says:

I really hate when people who know nothing about tennis make ridiculous comments. Where did all these useless trolls come from? Bodo’s blog? I wish they’d all go back where they came from.

Joe Wisco Says: “To suggest Novak Djokovic is equal with Roger on clay is insane to say the least. If Novak Djokovic makes it to the semi’s of FO is will be miraculous!”

fyi Dokovic has made the semis of the FO twice, stopped both times by Nadal. Nothing miraculous about it, he has showed over the years that he is a very good player on clay. Federer has been very lucky to not have Dokovic drawn in his quarter.


zola Says:

TD(Tam)
***fyi Dokovic has made the semis of the FO twice, stopped both times by Nadal. Nothing miraculous about it, he has showed over the years that he is a very good player on clay. Federer has been very lucky to not have Dokovic drawn in his quarter.

***

Hopefully this year!

I used to think Djoko only has good ground strokes, but he is omproving his movement and net game and he is not afraid of big names. I like to see him play semis with Fed in RG once!


Daniel Says:

“Just one thing, to be a Fed fan, you don’t need to hate or dislike Rafa”

And the reverse is true don’t you think??!!

I Knew that picking on you this would came, but I always said that I didn´t post much only when somethings bother me and you seems to be picking on little things trying to steal Fed’s moment.

I like tennis above all, in 3-6 years Fed will be no longer playing and I can assure you I will be here cheering for Djoko, Murray, and even Nadal.

At first I disliked his style – defensive (and I still dislike the time violations, talking with Toni – which he doesn’t apply anymore and suspicious trainner calls), but this year I didn’t lost a single match of his, because he is playing to damm good. Some balls only he can do – his forenahd passing shots on the running it’s just amazing! He is a walking defensive lesson, not dismissing his forehand that is the second best shot in tennis in the last 20 years. I try to leran watching him and his improvement to a complete player is remarkable – I wish that some day he wins the US open, he deserves it.

I don’t have links to those matches, but I watch them and have a memory, and this topics were discussed before, so don’t come with this “prove what you mean” – everybody knows it!

You know what would be really great this year:

1 – Fed wining the French, Murray winning Wimbledon and Djoko winning US Open – all 4 top 4 with slams.

or,

2 – Fed winning French and Wimbledon and Nadal wins US Open – Two carrer Grand Slam in a same year, imagine that!!!

or,

3 – Djoko winning french beating Nadal, Roddick winning Wimbledon beating Fed (I know Von would be in seventh haven) and Fed beating Murray in US Open. All of them exorcising some demons – I didn’t put Murray as a Slam winner here because in 2 or 3 years will be all about him and Djoko (and I like them both) – Sorry, I don’t think Nadal will be as good in 25-26 as he is now, he is in the tour for too long time now, he seems a veteran.


Daniel Says:

Another thing,

I only replay to you because I valid your opinion here as a Nadal fan even if you doesn’t care about mine. Not like the fed is afraid, Nadal is the goat, Roddick is a donkey…, this guys are just the fun part here, we can’t think they are for real and nor should any of us get annoyed by them. They are the comic relief!


zola Says:

Daniel,
beileve it or not, I like watching Federer. I often watch his slow motion ground strokes. He is fantastic. But his attitude is different to rafa’s. You might like some of the things he says, I don’t. But he is still a fantastic and once in a life time player and I love his matches with Rafa. they bring out the best in each other.

After AO, I was worried that he might go away. I really like him to stay around for a few more years. believe it or not.

he sometimes says things that bothers me. what I posted today eas not a line. It is from a Fed fan’s blog and from his own mouth. just follow the link.

Of course any time you accuse rafa or any other player of something, I would like to see the proof. why does that bother you?

In Rome, it was Fed who was nervous and was rude to rafa. Didn’t he shout to Djoko’s family? didn’[t he shout at the wimbledon umpire and ask him to turn off the Hawk-eye? I have no problem providing links.


zola Says:

Come on Daniel,
I value your opinion as well and really understand what you try to say.

I have had discussions like this with many Fed fans and through these discussions we found out how much we are alike. we have a passion for tennis, but for different players. nothing wrong with that.


zola Says:

let me tell you something.
I suggested a coule of years ago (before Rafa won the wimbledon) that Rafa should withdraw from FO and Fed from Wimbledon. That way they both get what they want! So we may find something else now. Maybe fed let rafa win the GS this year, because AO is already gone. Next year Rafa can take a sabbatical and fed can sweep everything.
of course they each have to deal with the rest of the field! how about that? :)


Daniel Says:

“I thought if he had won that match, that would have been the first legitimate victory of any player on clay against Rafa”

zola, sorry again but I can’t let this pass!

What about Andreev, Gaudio, Coria?? Those weren’t legitimative victories becasuse he wasn’t the Nadal he is now, very convenient!


Daniel Says:

“I suggested a coule of years ago (before Rafa won the wimbledon) that Rafa should withdraw from FO and Fed from Wimbledon. That way they both get what they want!”

If this happens the other guys will be eating each other alive! Imagine how hungry they will be with all the possibilities on the horizon. That would be somtehing. :)


zola Says:

Daniel!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Those are all legitimate! I was talking about 2005 till now. I have not seen those early matches and thought Sean meant from 2005 onwards. :)

lol!


Daniel Says:

Sorry, I post the wrong quote, should be the one about sabbatical, if they both didn’t play for a year.


Daniel Says:

OK, this one was just my evil side, I know you meant from 2005 onwards! :)


zola Says:

Daniel,
my evil side vs your evil side and this site wil explode!

It will be the greatest battle of all times after the one conducted by Borg and McEnroe’s fans! ( but that time there was no forum. did they have street fights?)

I need to leave now. glad we are both alive now! talk to you later.


St4r5 Says:

Zola,
I know Nadal wasn’t scared of Fed when he was still the up-coming player, but now he is the number one. It will be a different story. When Fed is back, Nadal will learn to fear him and for the rest of the tennis players will have nightmares.


jane Says:

Hi Daniel, your 10:00 p.m. post is yummy! I’d love either scenario 1 or 3, with 3 being a little more interesting because of the “revenge” factor. Even 2 would be cool, except then the same 2 guys who have been monopolizing the slams would still be monopolizing, though the 2 grand slams in 1 season would be a weirdo and cool anomaly! If only we could wave a magic wand.

Then again, that’d take some of the excitement away from us wouldn’t it?

BTW, keep us posted on your SW19 ticket search; the pictures that I saw of the roofed central court looked good.


Daniel Says:

Yes Jane, I too like 1, I think is more interesting for a possible race for n.1, but I prefer that 2 happened this year so they both achieving almost maximum goals for their carrers leaving room for others.

Sometimes I get myself wondering, when and where is going to be their final encounter? Fed with 31-32 and Nadal with 26-27, in semis or quarters of a masters event or it will be another Grand Slam final?!


skeezerweezer Says:

mem,

Well said and I respect your comments, you pay attention to the game and it is obvious you are a fan, that is all that matters to me. It is fun to debate and have opinions here, and your a big plus to this blog with your insight. We can all have our point of view, and I enjoy the comments from people whrn they back it up with reason. Whining, name calling, etc, are the low life. Thanks for injecting some intelligence and reason to your beliefs! Keep it comin!


mem Says:

when i read the excerpt posted above from federer’s post match interview, all i could say is that it’s a pity that roger has been reduced to such a level in order to convince himself and people that he is mentally strong and able to beat nadal. whatever suits his fancy, but if he’s not careful he’s going to allow his obsession with proving that he can beat nadal take away the respect that a lot of people have for him. words are cheap and he had become very brave with words lately! i hope he can back them up!


skeezerweezer Says:

Mem,

On your second comment to me about Rafa I say

“Absolutely:! Haven/t you noticed the percentage of serves and ground strokes are to Feds backhand from Rafa the last few years? I say if I was Rafa, keep it going there until he proves he can handle blasts from Rafas heavy topspin to the BH. The exciting thing here is, if Fed wants to be GOAT, he is going to have to take his game to another level, which I saw some in Madrid. The ball doesn’t bounce as high in Madrid has in RG, so that will be a test for Fed. It is obvious his ideal comfort level is not high balls to the back hand, and Rafa knows it. I would pound Feds backhand into oblivian, until he proved me otherwise. What I am waiting for, and what would be good for tennis, is Hey Fed, if your that good, what are your going to do about it? Alot of people weren’t around when Borg took wimbledon AND then the courts we fast, not slow now. He had to change his game. He had no big serve but stepped up over the years and developed a bug serve that helped him have that added dimension to win on grass. Is Fed on his way to change or is his ego still so big he thinks he can still beat anybody with no game plan because he has all the strokes.? I don’t think so. Madrid was a key for him if he takes the lesson. There is no way with Rafa Not fatigued in long rallies staying back that he is going to dominate. Been there done that it doesn’t work. I am total agreement with you on that.


skeezerweezer Says:

Skoroce,

You quoted me,

“Rafa’s domination is not over by any means, but it won’t be nearly as long as Rogers, or Murrays”

Funny how people already talk about the end of Nadal’s domination, when it is actually 2009 which is (or at least “seems to be”) his best year…

Sorry you misunderstood, I am not talking about his immediate demise,I am just saying I will eat my hat if he lasts past 28( Feds current age ). He already at 22 has proven chronic knee problems. He game is so physical, ,depends on brute power and violent swings, his body will break down early, but that is just my opinion. I think he is a great player now and deserves to be #1.


skeezerweezer Says:

mem,

can you post the link to Feds post match interview? Thanks I can’t find it, must be blind….:)


mem Says:

thanks, skeezerweezer, likewise! i never take anybody’s comments personally. i welcome the ideas, opinions, perspectives of others. it’s a part of the learning process. no one person knows everything!


mem Says:

skeezerweezer, stroll up and scan as you go. zola posted the excerpt that i referred to and the full text link. you won’t miss it. i haven’t read the full text yet.


skeezerweezer Says:

Von

And to all who “know tennis history”.
How many players in the history of tennis have been one of the greatest players of all time with just “one style of play”. Trust me, Nadal is awesome now, but he will be figured out. and when he is, then what? Does he have the variety of a Fed or Murray, etc to change vary his strokes, his strategy? Nadal is often compared to Vilas, historically but way better. Still, the player of the future will have all the strokes AND power. Power is impressive but short lived, let’s put it this way it has a short shelf life. And if that is all you have and when Rafa can’t hit that overwhelming forehand topspin that sends players chasing it off the courts, what will be left? Maybe Fed like Agassi will still be there, as Aggasi used positioning and location, even in his serving game, as well as fitness to lengthen his career. It will be interesting after Rafa dominates the next few years if he lasts and once someone has figured out his “one dimensional style” where will he go but downward? I saw Murray do an excellant job of disecting Rafa’s game this past year…it will be interesting, he is at the top and guys will be gunning….we will see


skeezerweezer Says:

mem,

Thanks!


tennis fan Says:

zola/mem

So Fed decides that he is going to be patient and will not allow Rafa’s rituals affect him mentally. And therefore Roger is playing mind games? I fail to see the logic.


tennis fan Says:

I do agree that Rafa is still the big favorite and that Rog will be wise to not read too much into this.


Twocents Says:

I also wish the umpires would do more about the time rule. Heck, Nadal and Djerk were in the midst of another competition on Saturday…..
Start of un-authorized quote:

“I can take longer between points,” mused Nadal.
Djerk replied, “You can pinch your arse but my bouncing balls will kill more time between points.”
“Oh the Pression to be no. 1 at killing time between points. I will try my best, no?” answered the no. 1 player in the world.

——- Quote end here

http://www.menstennisforums.com/showthread.php?t=143146&page=73

Here’s my addition to the play:

Djork: What’s your term, Roger?
Fed: Ten grands Euro for every ten minutes you keep him on the court after two hours. If you keep him more than four hours on court, all my final check is yours.
Djork: Three and half hour, I get your check. Deal! Just make sure is the winner’s check, ok?


Barry Says:

The win by Federer over Nadal means nothing for future results. Nadal was exhausted after his match with Novak, in which he played twice the amount of tennis as Federer by virtue of his 3 set (two of them tiebreakers) match, with no rest day between the semi’s and finals.


Sean Randall Says:

So if you say that Nadal played too much, that he was exhausted after Saturday, then let me ask at what point is too much tennis? What’s the threshold? 3 hours, 4 hours? 2.5 hours?

Is it just too much to ask for these days to expect a player to come back 24 hours after a 3-4 hour match and win the very next day? Is that where we are now as a sport?

If you play > 3 hours, you can’t win the following day? And if you don’t win then it’s okay? Obviously, many of you hold Rafa to that standard.

Times have changed I guess.


Twocents Says:

Sean,

Kudos for prop Fed’s own coaching. I tend to think if one did not question Fed’s own coaching while he was winning, one should refrain from jumping on his own coaching thing when he declines. It’s ok to go down with one’s own term — especially after 13 GSs.

Quite amused to see Fed begin to play street tricks with Nadal. Who said he is not adopting :-)). Maybe pretty soon, we’ll see him picking his behind in that elegant cardy…

Entertaining as it may be, I wouldn’t pay Euro/pound/dollar to watch, for sure.


skeezerweezer Says:

Barry,

Apparently you Rafa fans forgot about the AO. Rafa had a 5 hour+ match with Fernando. The next day and day after EVERYONE was questioning Rafa’s stamina and he is playing Fed in the finals and how he could be at a disadvantage, Guess what? Somehow someway through all his so called tiredness from his semi final he beat the former number 1 in the world in 5 sets! Was he complaining after that? Would you RAFA guys/gals please quit your whining? This is sounding so ridiculous! HE’s 22 years old for ?(($% sake. He can handle it! He has proved in the past that it is no excuse. He won a grand slam playing after playing one of the greatest longest semi’s ever? And then winning the Grand Slam against alot of people here think is the GOAT!!!! I can ‘t believe this fatigue thing people are laying on Nadal. Give me a break. Did he complain ” oh I am sorry I beat Fed in AO I was so tired……..ugh! I’m out


youyong Says:

There is alot of speculation that Nadal’s physical fatigue may or may not be the cause of his defeat, but what I felt more was that Nadal didn’t really care that much about the outcome of the match. What was missing wasn’t just energy, but also that fighting spirit we usually see from him.

Sure, it would have been nice winning all 3 Clay Masters events before RG but after that amazing semi-final, it felt like it didn’t really matter if he lost the final to Federer. That match against Djokovic was more THE match to win for him. To prove that he could take out the 2nd best on clay this season despite being behind most of the time during the match.

I will probably be slammed for this but could it be possible that Nadal was also subconsciously being charitable to Federer? i.e. let him have his first title for the year… nice wedding/baby present… or thinking to himself “so what if he wins? it means more to him than to me and, being the nice friend I am, as long as i know it, i know he hasn’t really got the better of me. see you at Roland Garros!”

Just some food for thought, and fuel for flaming. haha :o)


Sean Randall Says:

If what you people are saying is true, how is Rafa going to win the US Open when he’ll more than likely have to do it by winning the semifinals and finals on consecutive days on a HARCOURT? Ask yourself?

Because he plays so slowly (and that gets doubled when he plays a guy like Novak), Rafa’s matches by nature are going to take longer than other players. So his semifinal is at least going to 2.5 hours of tennis, maybe longer and maybe a lot longer.

If he can’t recover after 3-4 hours on clay how is he going to do it on a hardcourt after a 3-4 hour semifinal?

Curious.


Sean Randall Says:

For more, see Stefan Edberg’s path to the 1992 US Open title.

Have we come to the point now where the current day tennis players can no longer duplicate such a feat?

I guess for me it’s sad to see how quick so many people are nowadays in giving a guy a pass or an excuse just because he went five sets or fours hours or whatever in the previous round.

When did this new trend of wussyfying our players start?


skeezerweezer Says:

youyoung

“but what I felt more was that Nadal didn’t really care that much about the outcome of the match. What was missing wasn’t just energy, but also that fighting spirit we usually see from him.”

Your right you are going to get slammed. You think for a moment that you have watched Feds career that he didn’t care about the outcome of a semi or final match? The only time I have seen what your talking about with Fed is that his confidence is so low he feels he cannot win. His bad. But I have never seen the top three or four players cash it in as I saw Agassi use too. If your implying that Rafa really didn’t care, what does that show of his professionalism. I think he gave up because he now knows from the past when Fed brings his A game and confidence ( which is rare nowadays, Rafa can’t do anything. No Mas! )

Listen, We know these two guys very well, anytime they play in a finals they are going to try to win. Every match between them now, GS or not, is a notch in a meaningful history for both. Rafa got spanked, despite the score, and yes, he looked defeated and not interested. But did he make himself do that or was it that Fed finally had him on his heals and he couldn’t do anything about it? I have played tourneys before, I will take a win gladly, regardless if the player is “in it” or not. In the end, the history goes down as a win for Fed and not for Rafa. Bring on RG, which I still say Rafa is the odds on to win.


skeezerweezer Says:

Sean,

No wonder you are THE writer for this site. You know your history, the facts, fairness, and bring into a intelligent conclusion of what the current events are in tennis. Kudos to you! And fans, its ok for editors and writers to have their opinion, it generates debate and conversation that energizes the game! That is why you can post up here and tell yours. Bring it on!


zola Says:

Sean,
are you the same person who wrote the commentary after Rafa-Djoko match?

Let me just give you some examples:

After Fed played Rafa for 5 hours in AO, he withdrew from Davis cup and Dubai citing back problems.

After Rafa and Fed played 5 hours in Rome 06 , they both withdrew from hamburg 06 which started the next Monday.

Rafa and Murray had an epic match in US open semi 08. Do you think Murray was not tired when he played the final?

As I wrote before , there are facts and there are interpretations. It is a fact that Rafa played 4 hours and his style of play, long rallies and all, produces epic matches. You enjoy watching them apparently, but fail to acknowledge that it might affect his body.

I think the best answer was given by Rafa himself. He said something like:”If Fed played an 80 minutes semi final and I played 4 hours, it is because he played a better semi final than me on Saturday.”


Ryan Says:

Nadal fans r wussies


Twocents Says:

Sean,

The difference is between “fact” and “opinion”.

For Nadal, facts are he did play long semi — although some rightly pointed the actual playing time may be just a little over an hour, giving all the picking and bouncing…, and he lost the final.

For Fed. fact are he had mono and back trouble — although I know you still have doubts — and Fed lost FO, WO, and AOs. And fact are he is 5 years older and was the hunted for 4+ years.

The rest are all opinions.


mem Says:

sean, by my calculations, nadal did not have 24 hours. how did you arrive at your computations? we have to consider that there are other things (i.e. massage, shower, eat, other preparations) a player has to do after a match before going to bed. i asked myself this question would any player be able to play consecutive days, play a player like verdasco, come back the next day and play three more very demanding sets, lasting 4+ hours, come back the very next day and play a caliber of player like roger and win. it’s possible, but is definitely unlikely for anyone. if a player is able to pull it off once in a while, it’s commendable, but i don’t hold out a lot of hope for it. do you know anyone on the tour who could have completed the schedule that nadal had in the exact same manner, without being fatigued on Sunday? if so, who would it be? i think with tournaments that involve playing back-to-back days, a maximum of 2 maybe 3 hours is reasonable expectation. of course, slams are a different story. in slams players should be expected to play 4 & 5 hours if necessary and be able to perform ok in the next match, primarily because there is a day off in between. even then, it’s a difficult task. these guys are not robots. it doesn’t matter how physically fit they are, humans have limits. players are already experiencing a lot of injuries from the rigors of a demanding tour and they can’t skip tournaments because they are tired. defending points and maintaining their rankings, along with sponorship obligations, etc. force players to keep going. i’m sure no player wants to play 3 or 4 hours, but it’s the nature of the sport. it happens! i know that they get paid a lot of money, but that still doesn’t make them less human! in my opinion!


mem Says:

amen, zola! we should all use some commons sense sometimes.


mem Says:

Sean, stop beating around the bush! if you think exhaustion was not a contributing factor, just say it! after all, it’s just your opinion, it’s not going to affect anything one way or the other.


arjun Says:

I think Federer played poorly in the final. Rafa was so bad, scoreline should have been similar to chennai final (where youzhny won 6-0,6-1). Still Nadal had so many opportunities to break here tells us that Federer was really pathetic.

In this form Federer can only make it to the finals of French open if Djokovic, Verdasco and few others clay court specialists finish on Nadal’s half of the draw.

For federer reaching Semis will be creditable. I am sure he is going out before Semis.


Twocents Says:

My opinion is: giving all the shots Nadal took against the tournament before Mardrid and the fact that he did NOT run to death on Fed’s dropshots, this final loss is a perfect statement from Clan Nadal to Ion Tiriac and Spanish public:
1)Nadal is NOT just one muppet on the magic Tiriac/Santoro string.
2)Nadal’s done enough for Spain to put on a epic semi.


Dan Martin Says:

I think if it has any ripple effects it will be on other surfaces. Fed can do some things on faster surfaces to bother Rafa and vice versa. In a 3 out of 5 set clay court match in Paris, I think Rafa’s path to victory is clear and it is not a high risk path – hit high bounding shots into his backhand and push him backwards. If Rafa has to execute a higher risk strategy it may be another story; Novak or some other two fisted backhand striker might force Rafa to do this. However, if the path to victory is simple and not high risk and Rafa gets plenty of time to play through 1 bad set (see the 2006 1st set), then Rafa will win.


NachoF Says:

MMT,
No contradiction… if Nadal was really that above the rest then he would win every single time regardless of him being tired….. him being tired was enough for Federer to get him in straight sets… someone else probably would have lost anyway, but since Federer is not that far behind he was able to get him…. my point is, no one is denying that the best clay courter is Nadal but that doesnt mean that the exact same thing that happened here could happen at the FO, its not impossible… and regardless of what happenes there (even if Nadal loses at the 2nd round) everyone will still think that the best clay courter is Nadal, but that doesnt mean he is invincible given certain conditions.


NachoF Says:

To sum up my take on this whole thing:
*Nadal is the best clay court player
*Fed/Djokovic/Verdasco are not that far behind
*If Nadal(for whatever reason) is not at 100% he could very well lose the FO


TejuZ Says:

Federer: “This time I took my time, stopped, and looked to see how patient he was.”

Well, i missed that part… he he

Zola:“It is just strange to see the former number 1 and GOAT candidate resort to tactics like that.”

Nothing wrong with that Zola, Why should he always go first, stand there waiting for along time before Nadal joins him. Mind Games… cud be, but i guess its high time he plays some mind games in order to shrug of Nadal’s hold over him.

And yeah.. its true the match wouldnt have been 4 hrs if Nadal and Djoker hadnt taken so much time between their points. I was watching that match til the end of second set, and the points were moving at a snails pace… even wasting time between 1st and 2nd serves. And playing semi and finals in consecutive days is nothing new in a Master Series tournament. Infact, its worse in US Open where two 5 setters have to be played in the last 2 days.

Daniel: “In the second set at 3-2 Roger Serving I think (not sure, but I jknow he was already a break up), he was up 40-30 and he double faulted, he looked at Nadal to check the mark because he thought the serve was good, Nadal went to service line and marked a ball, the referee didn’t came down to confirm it because boht he and Fed believed in Nadal. Once the TV showed the replay of the ball, it was half in!”

Yes, I did see that point and was amazed at how Nadal confidently pointed the ball of long.. and the umpire believed him, dint even bother to get down and have a look. What would you say to the current World No 1 resorting to such means. Atleast if he wasnt sure, he shud have asked the umpire to decide that for him.


TejuZ Says:

mem:
I understand you point that players are not robots..that they do get exhausted. But thats the charm (or challenge) of winning a Grand Slam. Its not about winning just the final match.. its has to be 6 or 7 matches in a row. So the players have to be prepared for that.. no excuses. It wud be unfortunate like in case of Wimbledon 2007 where rain played spoil-sport and players had to play back to back 5 setters. But apart from that, tiredness and exhaustion cannot and shud not be given as a excuse. Its not new for Rafa to play matches like these and still end up with a winner’s trophy. But somedays he is just out-played… and thats when he looks little helpless, tired, exhausted chasing the balls (ex.. numerous time against Fed, against Tsonga at AO, against Murray at US). You all make it sound as though Nadal just cant be beaten squarely based on tennis alone. He is a great sportsman.. but he has his bad days as well… and there cud be one or two bad days in this years French Open as well… you never know.

When was the last time a World No 1 won the French Open??… probabaly during Lendl’s time i guess. But do remember a few No 2 who have won the French recently :p …and that should be gud news for Fed.


NachoF Says:

“In the second set at 3-2 Roger Serving I think (not sure, but I jknow he was already a break up), he was up 40-30 and he double faulted, he looked at Nadal to check the mark because he thought the serve was good, Nadal went to service line and marked a ball, the referee didn’t came down to confirm it because boht he and Fed believed in Nadal. Once the TV showed the replay of the ball, it was half in!”
I couldnt believe this when I read it so I to look… it was in the second set, they were still on serve Fed serving at 1-2, 40-0


zola Says:

Tejuz,
To me the strange thing was that fed deliberately changed his routine. It is perfetly allright with me because I don’t think Rafa cares if Fed sits or stands. he does his preparation the way he has been doing for the past 5 years anyway. But to me it says that maybe Fed is not so confident afterall.

I didn’t see that point. So no comment from me.I know you will dispute whatever I say anyway. But I saw a point in the Rome final when Rafa gave it to Djoko ( and to Djoko’s credit he did the same in the Madrid semi). I also saw another point when soderling ( in a match with Rafa) pointed to a completely different direction than where the ball was hit. The umpire should come down and inspect it. The players may or may not be right.


zola Says:

Sean,
I wrote that there are facts and there are interpretations of those facts.

Two cents has worded it much better: “fact” and “opinion”.

As I said, it is a fact that Rafa played much longer than Fed in semis. But why do you think it is used as an excuse for Rafa?

Fed has won the final. I came here and congratulated him and his fans and still do. I think it was a good thing for him, for his fans and for Rafa for various reasons.

But I was not disappointed at Rafa for losing that match. Because to me he was not 100% going to that match. It is not an excuse. It is a hope that next time, if they meet and if Rafa is 100% he will do better.

You and some Fed fans, take this the wrong way. because, you want to believe that “that’s it”. Fed found the solution to beat Rafa. Therefore you block the idea that a 4-hour match can take away some strength and mobility from a player.

Didn’t Federer win Rafa in Hamburg 07? Why couldn’t he back that up with a win in RG? If he had found the key to Rafa’s match ( as he said himself), then he lost it somewhere between Hamburg and RG.

Same thing in AO semi 08. Fed played a 5-set match with Tipsy and then lost to Djoko. Some People said fatigue and mono were excuses. again, the difference between fact and opinion. Djoko fans wanted to believe that he beat Fed fair and square and fed fans wanted to believe that their hero can win again once he is 100%.

Now you are on fed side and nothing wrong with the fact that you want to believe that Fed beat a 100% fresh and fit Rafa. So be it.


zola Says:

btw,
Sean, I hold you solely responsible for the decline of global economy! look at the number of posts here!

********

Ryan Says:
Nadal fans r wussies

**throwing virtual shoes at Ryan!*** lol!


TejuZ Says:

Zola,
Ofcouse Fed does lack a bit of confidence where Rafa is concerned. But the waiting was not abt confidence.. rather.. showing Nadal he is prepared to wait. Rafa has been doing that for so many years, cuz thats how he was brought up during his junior years.. to disrupt the opponents rhythm by slowing down the game. Now its become more like a habit for him.


zola Says:

Tejuz
Rafa has a routine and goes through that. If fed wants to do the same, by all means. Again, I know we have different opinions on this. So I will let it go.


Ryan Says:

To zola : To be honest with you wen I was watching the match my first impression was something is wrong with rafa today.Maybe true…he just didnt feel like playing the final and he lost. But one thing is for sure….guys like djokovic have shown the others nadal on clay is not invincible just like how he showed federer was not invincible on hard courts.From my observations I think federer is just trying to give nadal a taste of his own medicine. Dictating play with the forehand , targeting nadal’s backhand all the time , inside out forehand with the drop shot combos n stuff like that.Its all bout djokovic, federer n murray learning from each other bout exposing nadal’s weaknesses on clay.End of story.


TejuZ Says:

And ofcourse.. Nadal did change his game-style recently to do well on grass and hard courts.. he sometimes tries to shorten points and stay closer to baseline… in doing that,he might have moved away a bit from his usual style of grinding out from few meters behind the baseline.

Anyway.. Hez still the heavy fav going into the French Open. Just that, this year we are not hearing from Nadal’s mouth that ‘Roger is No 1, so he is the favourite for the tournament.. No!’.. instead he is declaring that Madrid defeat is of no consequence.


Ryan Says:

In the second set at 3-2 Roger Serving I think (not sure, but I jknow he was already a break up), he was up 40-30 and he double faulted, he looked at Nadal to check the mark because he thought the serve was good, Nadal went to service line and marked a ball, the referee didn’t came down to confirm it because boht he and Fed believed in Nadal. Once the TV showed the replay of the ball, it was half in!”

This is exactly wat i’m talking bout.Nadal is not as great as everyone thinks he is.He just has a clever guy appointed to handle his pr so in the end nadal keeps telling the rite things to the public and everyone is happy. He does resort to a few tactics here and there to get that unfair advantage over his opponent.But in the end fed won that service game so it didnt matter much.
He also tried to disrupt djokovic’s rhythm too but djok never lost his focus. He didnt give a rats ass bout nadal’s medical timeouts….he deserves more respect than people give him.He threw everything he had in that semi.


Sean Randall Says:

Zola, as I said, the Rafa-Novak match was incredible. That simple.

And this isn’t about tournament-to-tournament withdrawals and fatigue. This is about the media, the fans the officials in tennis who are now promptly giving select players an out or an excuse for the next round after they play a five setter or an epic match.

When did this start? And why is it always Rafa and Novak who get this benefit?

And Zola, just what is Rafa’s style? Baseline?? Aren’t there are a lot of players who play from the baseline, and shouldn’t we also give those guys an excuse after they play a five setter the same way many do with Rafa?

Yeah but, Sean, Rafa runs a lot, he hits the ball hard, he has that really loud, scary grunt and he works out a lot. Oh please. And he uses up energy picking his you know what.

Twocents, I don’t doubt Fed’s mono nor his back injury. I’m just asking why people give Rafa the benefit, the excuse when he goes five sets but other guys don’t get that. Federer played five sets against Berdych at the Australian Open this year, were his legion of fans or the media overly worried that the Swiss wouldn’t hold up physically in the next round?

Mem, since when did playing Verdasco for two sets suddenly become a Herculean effort? And you do know that at the US Open you have to play Saturday 5-setter, Sunday 5-setter? And two of the players would have to win three five setters in four days to win the title. Based on what you are saying mem, Rafa couldn’t do that.

I’ll do a post on this in broader terms downs the road. This built-in pampering we do now for some players is out of hand.


Bethany Says:

FHS! So Fed won a final – yippee! I think fans think on this match far more than the players do. Nadal is going to be shaking in his boots – yeah right. The only thing that has changed is that Fed has won a final, finally this year. This match has nothing to do with RG and the conditions of both players there.
This court was playing and sounding like a hard court – I have to admit to wondering if it was a hard court with clay on top it sounded so off.
Many players complained about it.
It seems clear to me and any number of unbiased commentators that Nadal had run out of steam – this was a tournament too far and he probably would have skipped it if he’d been able to but he couldn’t and he played as well as he could.
These Madrid points are just gravy for Nadal but are necessary for Fed – if he keeps losing to Murray/ Djokovic etc or going out in the second round or whatever he will not be 2nd for much longer.
For me that is the story. Murray is carping on about taking over No 2, but Fed has just garnered 1000 points to Murray’s – 250? He has increased the distance between them and brought about much needed breathing space. I am not so sanguine about Fed reaching the final of RG – he had a lot of errors against a clearly fatigued Nadal [any one who is dismissing this is blind - clear as daylight to all who watched]. He will need to cut down on the errors if he’s going to have a chance against Djokovic, never mind Rafa!
Whatever Fed’s tactics were, and whatever Rafa’s tactics were it changes nothing in the grand scheme of things – RG or bust for both of them.
Let this one rest.


Voicemale1 Says:

The truth is neither one of them played all that well in the Final. Federer played riskier, Nadal played too safe, and that’s the match in a nutshell. The “new” stuff Federer tried here are things he’s done before. Backhand to Backhand? Look at their 2007 French Final and you’ll see plenty of it. Coming in behind 2nd Serves? Rome & Monte Carlo 2006. Nadal had been making public pronouncements since Indian Wells that he was basically only 50-50 to even play Madrid. Had the tournament been anywhere other than Spain he probably would have passed on it.

Not sure about what I heard one commentator say regarding the change from high altitude back to a lower one. He’d said that transiting back to lower altitude your confidence in hitting your shots returns almost amped-up. A lot of guys in press conferences said returning serve with the most difficult task they had there because the ball not only bouncing high, but traveling through the air faster. Tentativeness was what you often had to do; a lot of guys did to keep their shots from flying on them.

And to Ryan:

Djokovic took two Medical Timeouts during the Semi Final. Just so you know. And you’re right – he deserves a lot of respect. He threw everything he had in the Semi. Even held 3 Match Points. And it still wasn’t enough.


zola Says:

Sean,
I think you did not read my comments.
Fatigue/mono/injury is no excuse. A win is a win.

But to me a loss when a player is not 100% is different. Because I can hope that the match could have been different if he was 100%. That simple.

I gave you the example of hamburg 2007. Rafa was not 100%. The court was different and Fed’s win did nothing for him in RG.

It is YOU that want to think that Fed came up with magic potion on Sudant and dismantled Rafa. That’s fine. But if that is so, I expect him to use that again in RG and afterwards to win Rafa. I am sorry if I ruin your paper castle. I accept Rafa’s loss on Sunday, but I am hopeful that he will win back on clay.


zola Says:

Ryan,

I think one of the worst defeats ( or maybe two) that Rafa had were in Madrid and Paris against Nalby.
It was hard to watch at that time, but I knew it will only make Rafa stronger.

Of course no one is unbeatble and after being on tour for so many years, players get used to each other’s style. It is a challenge that I believe Rafa will rise to and will tweak his game to overcome it. It will only make him a better player.

Again, dang the tennis tv, I did not see the final. But to me the highlight of the tournament was Rafa’s match with Djoko. The way Djoko played shot for shot with Rafa was just incredible. I felt happy when Rafa won, but I know I would not be that sad if he had lost.

——–

about the ball and time out , etc.,
I know you don’t like Rafa and perhaps whatever he does we will interpret it differently. I have commented about these before and I see voicemale1 has nice comments here too. So maybe I should just leave it at that.


Sean Randall Says:

Zola, thanks. This is not a Roger v. Rafa thing, nor am I talking about RG and the implications of Roger’s win. Not right now.

What I am asking is why is it when Rafa plays a long match so many expect him to be less than 100% for the next match? Why this rush in declaring that he won’t be fit? I don’t see this with other players, do you (except Djokovic)? Is there not some soft of double standard at work here?

Players have played long matches before and come back the next day and won. They have. Can Rafa, or at age 23 is that his Achilles?


Roger-Rafa Says:

Zola,

Every player can claim injury, then. Players like Djokovic and Nadal are perennially injured. Roger can keep playing his back and mono problems all the time. Are we to assume we will ever get a match where both players are 100%?

As Sean says, Rafa and Djokovic have been claiming this fatigue thing too often. Djokovic crossed that line in last year’s US open. And he got whopped big time by the media and rightly so. Rafa, to his credit is still far off that line thanks to his efforts in matches like the Aus open final.

Consider this scenario : Can we write off all of Federer’s losses since 08 to MONO, if he wins 4 or 5 GS from here on? After all, it hasn’t been just Rafa who has beaten Federer since then. Journeymen like fish, blake, simon, karlovic have humbled Federer too, So clearly Federer is a notch or two below his Greatest level which was from 04-07. So are we to write off Nadal’s wimbledon epic final win as beating a distincly sub-par Roger?


zola Says:

Sean

Again, I ask you to please read my comments.
**What I am asking is why is it when Rafa plays a long match so many expect him to be less than 100% for the next match? Why this rush in declaring that he won’t be fit? I don’t see this with other players, do you (except Djokovic)? Is there not some soft of double standard at work here?

***

These are from my previous post. It is not just Rafa. It happens to all the players, including Roger and Murray:

—Let me just give you some examples:

After Fed played Rafa for 5 hours in AO, he withdrew from Davis cup and Dubai citing back problems.

After Rafa and Fed played 5 hours in Rome 06 , they both withdrew from hamburg 06 which started the next Monday.

Rafa and Murray had an epic match in US open semi 08. Do you think Murray was not tired when he played the final?

—–

Why did I think rafa would be less than 100%? because I saw a similar situation in Chennai 2008 and Madrid or Paris 2007. AO 2007. It is perhaps a weekness in Rafa’s game. he needs to play more effectively so that the early matches do not get too long otherwise he will be out the next round.

I also remember Kiefer played a final with Rafa and went out in the first round of the next tournament. Players doing well in IW, find it hard to play at the same level the next week in Miami. That’s why an IW/Miami win is such a great achievement.

Players are made of flesh and blood. Not nuts and bolts. Nalby has a hip surgery and will be out for siz months. Tsonga plays on and off after having his surgery and he is about the same age as rafa or younger. Nishikori is out of French Open with injury. Safin’s career is finished because of injury. perhaps Hewitt’s too. Add to that Haas, Moya. And these are mainly aggressive players and do not play week in and week out. even federer has back problems.
Why does it seem strange to you that 4 hours of pounding and teisting and turning of the joints will not have any effect on the body?

Again, let me repeat. A win is a win. A player may not be 100% in a match for different reasons. That gives hope that next, if he is, he will play better.

To see where this one win fits in the big picture, we need to wait a bit.


zola Says:

Roger-Rafa

Please read my previous reply to Sean.
Neither Rafa nor Djoko have not claimed anything because of injury.

Rafa lost Rome 08 and the blitsers on his foot were on TV. In US Open, he finished his match with Ferrer but was out for two months with knee problems. In Miami he played with Murray and finished the match. You might think it is fake. I don’t.
Rafa’s knee condition is nothing new. It almost took him out of ATP in 2005. You can find more on google.
Rafa’s injuries are more visible because he plays a lot. Again look at my previous post for a few names who are out this year with injury and are mostly hard-court players.


jane Says:

Players can come back the next day and win. But there is no doubt it will be tougher, especially when there is a very short recovery time (i.e., less than 24 hours). I think Murray was a bit zonked in the 2008 USO final. Federer still may’ve, maybe even probably would’ve, won even if Murray had had a better schedule, but I don’t think it’s “unfair” to admit that this may’ve been a factor.

Federer played a very good Madrid final (not “perfect,” imo, as Sean’s other article implied), but he is the fresher player of him and Nadal, not only due to a shorter semi, but due to playing less clay events and losing earlier at all of them. No one should “blame” Fed for playing less events. Nadal chose his clay court schedule, so he has to live with it. But likely the “grind” caught up to him a little at this event. I don’t know but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say as much.

Sean, I know in the past, when Federer had been on incredible runs like Nadal has been now, that when Federer lost people used the “tired” issue to account for it – at least in part. Witness his straight set loss to Andy Murray in Cincinnati in 2006; I do recall hearing about Federer being tired as the reason – or at least as a contributing factor – for that loss.

If a player wins consecutively for a long period of time, eventually it’ll catch up. Perhaps especially if they have an over-loaded schedule. Both Rafa and Djoko played extended clay schedules so they could play their “home” events and maybe this caught up to them. On the on hand, they looked very match grooved and played a great semi, but on they other, they both seemed tired at the end of it. Rafa hasn’t been pushed that hard on clay since Rome 2006 when Fed had him on the ropes; luckily for them they didn’t have to play the next day as that was the final.

Anyway, Federer won the final fair and square, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to say that probably Nadal was a bit tired and maybe wasn’t able to give his best. I don’t think it needs to be seen as an “excuse” or as “padding” or as “justification” for his loss. It’s just likely true. And Nadal or his camp are maybe partly to blame for playing such a loaded lead-up to the French, though in the past he’s played packed schedules, only last year he lost early in Rome.

Bethany above seems to be a voice of reason no matter whom she supports. I am trying to be unbiased here too, and just say it like I saw it. It really didn’t matter to me who won this final.


Sean Randall Says:

Zola, I guess you have somewhat proved my point that many of us tennis fans and media alike find it more “acceptable” now more than ever that a player is not 100% fit the day (or even two days) after a long match.

The new unwritten rule now is that if you play 3+ hours, then it’s okay to lose the next day. I just wonder when this change in thinking began because I don’t remember such talk back in the 80s and 90s. And frankly, it’s too bad we hear so much of it now.


jane Says:

Sean say, “The new unwritten rule now is that if you play 3+ hours, then it’s okay to lose the next day.”

This is hyperbole. I don’t think this is the new “unwritten rule.” You’re sounding nostalgic for the good ole days! :)

But since you bring them up, I wonder if top players played schedules similar to the players now do in the 80s and 90s? I mean, when did top players start playing the AO regularly, or since when has the year ended in mid-Nov? I am just wondering if somehow the lengthier calendar has prompted more discussion about fatigue? I know it’s the players choices, to a degree, what they play, and that what part of my point in my previous post. If you play a packed schedule, eventually it may or will catch up.


Roger-Rafa Says:

“Neither Rafa nor Djoko have not claimed anything because of injury. ”

Is that so? then why are we hearing all these fatigue excuses from Rafa fans? and all these efforts that are being undertaken to prove that Rafa was less than 100% on sunday?

Djoko doesnt have to claim anything. He has all the physical fitness of a top tier athlete – on the WTA, i.e!


Roger-Rafa Says:

What we will start to see is the “shoe on the other foot” effect. So far in Roger-Rafa matches, Roger has been the bigger favorite, for one reason or another – even in most of the clay matches, because Roger was a very very distant no.1

Even at the AO, Roger was the bigger favorite. Everyone had a built-in excuse for nadal being tired. For the 1st time in Madrid, it looked like Roger and Rafa were aware of their changed positions. Rafa is now the hunted and Roger is the hunter. Let us enjoy the 2nd half of the rivalry, and with such marvelous and great athletes as Roger or Rafa, lets forget the tired and not tired excuses and just call a win a win and a loss a loss. Making such excuses is an absolute insult to two of the most fit athletes ever to grace any sport.


skeezerweezer Says:

Roger-Rafa,

Great statement to end this discussion I hope. Well said!


Steve Says:

The thing I found most startling about that Sunday match was Rafa’s inability to even get back second serves, mentally and physically he definitely did not perform. but the good news for Nadal fans is usually after a bad performance Nadal bounces back the next tournament and wins, and the good news for Fed fans is Roger’s game is no longer misfiring, that confidence going into a Grand Slam should make things more interesting.

My hope is that Federer and Djokovic are in the same half of the draw, so we can see who the real challenger to Nadal’s dominance at Roland Garros is.


besttitw Says:

To Zola and Jane: Yes, Nadal was most likely somewhat tired at the final. I don’t think we need to argue about that. But physical condition is an integral part of a pro’s game, not something external. Even though you would say the fatigue is not an excuse, but I don’t see you strenuously argue about some pure tactical weakness Nadal has displayed in the match. IMHO, physical condition is just a factor should be treated equally as other aspects of a pro’s game. After all, it’s up to the player how busy a schedule he wants, how he takes care of himself to avoid insury, and how consumable his game is. It’s his choice. If you can only play a game in an exhausting way, don’t complain, because there must be reasons for you to do so. You gonna take the pros and cons altogether, not the other way around. So, tired or not, it’s mostly the outcome of a player’s own choice. Everyone creates their own reality. Unless a game is rigged, I see results of any game as fair, tired or not, sick or not, etc etc. A player needs to take FULL responsibility of his game to become ever-improving, and Nadal certainly has been doing that


Skorocel Says:

„Just make sure is the winner’s check, ok?“
LOL!


Skorocel Says:

Roger-Rafa: „Journeymen like fish, blake, simon, karlovic have humbled Federer too“
LOL!


zola Says:

Sean,
You missed my point. You are trying to simplify my whole comments in one sentence. It doesn’t work!

let me repeat. A win is a win and Fed played much better than Rafa in the Madrid final. But I am not shocked or disappointed and I do not see this as the end of Rafa’s clay career. As Rafa’s loss to fed in Hamburg 2007 really did not change the outcome in RG.

I am also willing to take your point. Let,s say Rafa was not tired at all. He lost because Federer found a new strategy to beat him and this time he is going to keep it all the way to the final of RG. OK. Then perhaps now Fed is the favorite going to RG and it is a challenge for Rafa to overcome. This probably make any win by Rafa look even better.

———–

Anyway, I think this was a good discussion and to me it is done. we are going in circles. I guess we all made our points. Now have to wait and see what happens in Paris. All the best to all the players, Hope everyne is healthy and 100%!

I better go back and get some work done before FO starts. Will be back in a couple of weeks.

seeya all….


Skorocel Says:

Daniel: „Once the TV showed the replay of the ball, it was half in!“

I remember that moment too, but the ball definitely wasn’t „half in“ as you‘ve said. Instead, it only barely scratched the line, though it was indeed in. Anyway, I don’t see Nadal doing anything wrong here – provided he marked the right spot, that is. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, since it was a very close one. It was up to Graf to lift his ass off the umpire and check it…

——————-

zola: „I have not seen the match. the tennis tv will probably put it for download in a few days and I will purchase it then.“

This shows what a joke this ATP is… So you pay to see the match live, but in turn get nothing, and then, when it’s finally there for download, you’re supposed to pay ONCE AGAIN?! WTF?!

——————-

zola: „In Rome, it was Fed who was nervous and was rude to rafa.“

Why do you think he was „rude“ to Rafa? By putting Toni in his place by shouting: „That’s okay, Toni“? I don’t think there was anything „rude“ on it… Indeed, the guy deserved it! To be fair, I can indeed recall one moment where Fed was unfair – the very first point of the 5th set tiebreak (where one of Nadal’s shots landed on the line, but when the umpire went to check the mark, Fed marked a different spot, which, though, was also OK according to umpire). But that’s about all…

——————-

skeezerweezer:
„I think he gave up because he now knows from the past when Fed brings his A game and confidence ( which is rare nowadays, Rafa can’t do anything. No Mas! )“

Maybe on grass or hardcourt, but NEVER on clay! As much as I like Fed, Nadal’s A game vs Fed’s A game on clay = Nadal’s the winner

——————-

zola: „I think the best answer was given by Rafa himself. He said something like:”If Fed played an 80 minutes semi final and I played 4 hours, it is because he played a better semi final than me on Saturday.”

Gotta agree with you (and Rafa) on this one.

——————-

mem: „do you know anyone on the tour who could have completed the schedule that nadal had in the exact same manner, without being fatigued on Sunday? if so, who would it be?“

Rafael Nadal ;-)

——————-

Sean Randall: „Mem, since when did playing Verdasco for two sets suddenly become a Herculean effort?“

Spot on! When you look at their Rome match (which Nadal won 6-3 and 6-3, btw), it lasted about 2 hours (if not more), but one could easily imagine that at least 20-30 minutes were spent inbetween points…

——————-

Steve: „My hope is that Federer and Djokovic are in the same half of the draw, so we can see who the real challenger to Nadal’s dominance at Roland Garros is.“

Mine too.


Tolaoshy Says:

yes..
reading up this site for months now,never dropped a comment..i love jane,zola…i have a question though…what are rafa’s weaknesses?what are fed’s weaknesses?who has more?


JackBlack Says:

Roger-Rafa — “Djoko doesnt have to claim anything. He has all the physical fitness of a top tier athlete – on the WTA, i.e!”
—-
Of all the fans that ridicule players by comparing them to the WTA, the Fed fans should be the last!
Need anymore kleenex Miss Federer?


zola Says:

besttitw,
you make good and fair points. I agree. It is up to the player and fatigue is a price they perhaps pay for the ranking they get. That’s why it is not an excuse. But you always know that a player can do better.

As I said before, Fed fans should be very proud of his as he played a great match. He won because he played great. he was happy and healthy and did not lose concentration and converted all the break points. But I am not shocked by Rafa’s defeat and don’t see it as his end. As Hamburg 2007 was not his end on clay either! I hope this clarifies what I want to say.

Sean,
On April 3rd post after he lost to Djoko in Miami you wrote
:**Back to Fed. There’s a poster on this site with the handle “Long live the king.” Well, based on that performance it looks like the King is dead.
” (http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2009-04-03/1095.php)

And Remember your standing ovation for Rafa after winning the match with Djoko.

we now see that things can change. So perhaps we better do not get carried away by one win or loss and see what happens in RG.

———
Skorocel,
the tennis tv is indeed a joke. I was working fine when it was atp tv. great resolution ( 1 Mb) and no ads! This year they became tennis tv. More expensive but they feature non master series events as well. Starting from Rome and the all Madrid, it just stopped. It was harder with Madrid because for some reason most of the free streaming was not working either.
Anyway, they promised to fix it and gave 1 month extension. The download is something else. They keep all the finals and you can purchase them for $3.
———-
Steve
***My hope is that Federer and Djokovic are in the same half of the draw, so we can see who the real challenger to Nadal’s dominance at Roland Garros is.***

Amen to that!
———-

Tolaoshy,
Thanks a lot. What a hard question. I think that will require another thread and perhaps a technical person like MMT

will give a better answer. for me Rafa’s serve is a big weakness. he should be able to earn more points with that. When he is tight he tends to play defensive and the balls fall short. Fed, perhaps his one-handed backhand against Rafa and sometimes when he is not on, his forehand goes away ( that happened to Rafa too). In the past I think Rafa was able to concentrate more and fed lost concentration on some big points. In MAdrid seems it was reverse.

————

cheers eveyone and bye for now.


jane Says:

bestitw,

“I don’t see you strenuously argue about some pure tactical weakness Nadal has displayed in the match.”

I didn’t get into tactics at all, since that wasn’t the point I was discussing in my particular two posts. However, I did say Federer won “fair and square,” meaning he did, I think, surprise Nadal with more up the line shots and with his efforts to mix things up. He also served better than he has in a while, though he shouldn’t rely quite so heavily on his second serve, imo, even though he has one of the best second serves around. I agree with some here who stated that Federer still made too many unforced errors in the match and that in another match he may not get away with that. But better tactics and a more confident attitude are what we saw from Fed on Sunday. Still it was not “perfect” and, to my mind, not something that Nadal couldn’t master if they’re to meet again in the RG final.

As far as Nadal goes, as Voicemale1 pointed out, Rafa was playing to too safe in the final, unlike his audaciousness in the Djokovic semi (where Djoko also played some jaw “droppers” even on a match point, and also why I found the semi more exciting to watch) and in addition, as Von and others have mentioned, Nadal played too far back in the match, giving up too much court to Roger, who took advantage by coming to the net and using drop shots.

So those are just a couple of comments on tactics so you realize I am in no way saying the fate of the match rested on one factor or trying to make excuses.

As i said before, it didn’t matter to me who won on Sunday.


Roger-Rafa Says:

Jackblack

Hard to beat the 3 drama queens from serbia, jankovic, ivanovic and djokovic :)

Good luck to Djokovic and his fans for the career-retirement slam at the US Open. He was oh-so-close to pulling it off at NewYork last year against robredo and then Roger. I am sure he has better chances of a career slam than Roger/Rafa! Unfortunately, no one wants to compete with him on that one.

It is funny to see all the djokovic fans sitting mum when we talk about fitness. Then again, I dont see any WTA fans make a big deal about fitness! so, it is to be expected I guess.


jane Says:

“It is funny to see all the djokovic fans sitting mum when we talk about fitness. ”

Djokovic just hired a new fitness trainer so we’ll see if it helps going forward, but in terms of the clay season this year, his fitness seemed back on par to where it was in 2007, when he shot up to number 3. Certainly it’d be difficult to argue that based on the evidence. Some people are less strong than others constitutionally. I am not an apologist for Djoko’s history of retirements, though some have seemed, to me anyhow, more justified than others. However, I do think he’s making a smart move with the new trainer, and I think he’s shown us he can hang in there and fight. He deserves some credit for that. I hope he can and will do it more consistently.


jane Says:

“Certainly it’d be difficult to argue that based on the evidence.” should read “Certainly it’d be difficult to argue AGAINST that based on the evidence.”

I should add that while I think Djokovic’s history of retirements is too long, I do not like to see players playing while VERY sick or CLEARLY injured. To me, Rafa playing the Rotterdam final on one leg against Murray or Rafa playing Rome last year with those brutal blisters was not pleasant; imo, he should have skipped Rotterdam this year, or perhaps pulled out earlier in the event when he knew his knees were troubled, and as for Rome last year, maybe in that case he should have retired? I admire his guts in other ways – fighting to the end and playing amazing winners in tense times. But to me, if a player is suffering, I generally don’t like to watch the match. Throughout the USO in 2007 Nadal was hobbled and it was unpleasant watching his matches; he had gone for some special treatment (lasers?) on his knees prior to the event, but he still looked wooden in a number of his matches. Tough to watch, and not great tennis. Never liked seeing players puking on the court, and so on. This is just a personal preference though.

And I am not sure this has anything to do with “fitness” either. Nadal may just have a tendency toward tendonitis whereas other players do not? Similarly, now Federer will have to watch his back going forward. Murray has a knee issue also, that could flare up whenever. That’s just the nature of sport, it’s not necessarily down to “fitness” per se, as players get injured and sick and some are more prone to others physiognomically and genetically. C’est la vie.

In any case, I like to see matches when both players are as close to their best as possible. Then we can see a fight to the finish.


MMT Says:

Howdy Von:

I did see the Wimbledon centre court ceremony – it’s amazing how well Graf was playing. She really didn’t appear to have lost much from her last playing days. She still hits consistently hard and flat off the forehand, and her sliced backhand stayed as low as ever on new grass. There’s not doubt in my mind that if she got her lungs back (the rest of her looks just fined to me, anyway) she could compete with mild success on the WTA.

I think the roof looks beautiful. Giving it a translucent hue is a stroke of genius – you almost can’t tell it’s been drawn, and the orientation of the lights up and horiztontal make the lighting far more natural than most indoor facilities. The only thing I see being a problem is how low the roof is. I know personally how hard it is to hit a good defensive lob when you have to worry about hitting the roof, which must be doubly hard when playing at the professional level. That said, lobing is a lost art form in tennis, so it won’t matter very much to most players.

They are also replaying RG classics on TTC. Yesterday was the final between Agassi and Medvedev in ’99. It’s amazing how much flatter they hit just 10 years ago. String tensions for both players also seemed to be very high, because the pop coming off their racquets was fantastic.

I’m really looking forward to Noah/Wilander ’83 and Lendl/McEnroe ’84 to be honest. Of all the champions of the open era, Lendl has to be the least appreciated – maybe Wilander is a close second. Nobody talks about these two, but they both have more slams than Nadal and Wilander even won 2 slams on grass, if you can believe that (AO ’83 & ’84).

BTW – there’s a great photo of Noah serving at RG in ’83 where at the apex of his back swing his fingers are open on the handle of his racquet, showing the perfect to hitting a hard serve. His game had a little bit too much spin to win consistenly on other surfaces, but boy did he ever have a beautiful serve. I’ll have to look for it.


MMT Says:

Tolaoshy Says:
“…i have a question though…what are rafa’s weaknesses?what are fed’s weaknesses?who has more?”

Great question. Federer’s weaknesses, in my view, are that he depends to heavily on his serve, which when it doesn’t earn him a lot of cheap points, fails to cancel out the errors he naturally makes when he is aggressive, which is the best way for him to play. He also has a tendency to pull himself off the deuce court to run around his backhand, too often to too little effect to take the risk. I would say his instincts at net are not as good as a natural serve and volleyer and causes him to guess on passes way to early leaving him rife for passes. Really when he has to volley more than once in a point, his net percentage falls significantly. Finally, his backhand tends to go back cross court too often making it easier to target.

Nadal’s weakness is a weak(er) second serve, which can put him under pressure in difficult situations – I would put this down to being a natural right-hander serving with his left. This coupled with a tendency to conceded the baseline leaves him vulnerable to good volleys, drop shots, angled approaches. His net play, while good when he committs to it, is underutilized, forcing him to play longer points than his opponents, leaving him vulnerable to fatigue when he has a quick turnaround for his next match.

You asked about weaknesses, so it’s important to note that both players have MANYY strengths that far outweight their weakenesses, hence their success in the last 5 years. But like all players, they are imperfect, and their weaknesses can be attacked. They defend them quite well, and their strengths can be overwhelming, and as such, make their weaknesses difficult to isolate, but it is possible.

Of the two players, I think Federer’s weakenesses are more difficult to conceal/defend because he has to play aggressively to be successful as a player, and those weaknesses happen to be exposed when he tries to be more aggressive. Nadal’s movement, fitness, very consistent 1st serve and mental toughness mitigate his weaknesses better than Federer’s strengths do his.

Also, Nadal’s weaknesses are primarily tactical, not technical, and as such, are less likely to “break down” in the crunch, whereas Federer’s have a higher risk of breaking down under pressure because this is precisely when being too aggressive can hurt.

Being aggressive is useful when under pressure to the extent that you can elicit errors from your opponent, but recently Federer’s over-agression has cost him more. The controlled agression he displayed on Sunday against Nadal may have been more successful due in large part to Nadal’s fatigue and (if he is to be believed) the lack of pressure on him under the circumstances, but they worked nonetheless.

It remains to be seen if it can be repeated if they play each other at the Roland Garros.


jane Says:

MMT, I agree that to roof looked great in the pictures I saw; I wish I could’ve seen the exos, as did my aunt, a diehard Agassi (and now Nadal) supported, and me being a longtime Steffi fan. However, they were not televised in Canada nor could I find them on streaming alas. Too bad.


Gordo Says:

What no one has mentioned so far is that beyond the shift in strategy Federer employed (which certainly worked), he also assumed a Nadal-like compartmentaliztion of each point.

There was only one small vocal outburst when he mis-hit a ball in the second set, but the big difference I noticed was that there was no celebration of his own greatshots, most noticeably when he won the first set, as he often has done before.

This match was all business and although he does not have a coach, is it possible Mr. Federer has been seeing a sports psychologist? Because something is certainly different in his head.

The French Open should be very interesting.

A good article, Sean. Keep them coming!

PS – On another note – I suspect now that Federer is married and is soon to be a father he is no longer seeing fed-is-afraid’s mother on the side. Perhaps this has helped mentally.

Okay – I don’t mean to suggest that Federer has cheated on Mirka, but SOMETHING has to cause the venom towards the Swiss master every time fed-is afraid makes a comment. I mean – delusionally obsessed or what?

But that’s the wonderful (sarcasm intended) thing about forums on the internet – you can spout off all you want, and it is all anonymous.

Aint life grand?


arjun Says:

Sean: You are not getting the point, the point is not one long match. The point is Rafa having played (and won) 3 consecutive tournaments in past 4 weeks, two of them being Masters Series Events(considered tougher than GS even by Federer).

You mentioning Older times and comparing to Edberg winning USO is completely pointless here coz those older guys never won 3 tournaments in 3 consecutive weeks. Rafa was physically tired coz of the 4 hour match that he played but he was more mentally exhausted because of playing and winning so many matches (including some really close ones which he won only due to his sheer mental strength).

Looks like you din’t even watched the final match at all. You mentioned Federer serving well. If he was serving well how come Rafa got 4 break point chances. And out of the 4 he had the point under control in 3. Even in that last game 15-40 federer shanked the forehand which somehow got last piece of the line while nadal’s ball in return was just an inch wide.

Point is if Federer is struggling against a 50% Nadal there is no way in hell he can get past the likes of verdasco and Djokovic leave apart Nadal at French Open.

This was a Masters where federer got lucky having to face his pony (A) Roddick in Quarters {whom he struggled to beat even on clay court}and his pony (B) Del potro {whom he gave twice as many games in two sets compared to what he gave in 3 sets at AO)and a mentally and physically exhausted player in Final who could have been even Youzhny’s pony that day. LOL :D


mem Says:

sean, i asked you a question and you didn’t answer, again, who do you think would have, could have, should have played the exact same schedule that nadal played in madrid for the exact same amount of time spent on court without being fatigued on Sunday? or is it that you among others hold nadal to a herculean (inhuman)standard compared to other players, including federer. nadal played carlos moya in 2008 chennai a tough 3 set match for 3 hours 55 minutes; played the very next day against youzhny and lost 6:0, 6:1. was he not suppose to be fatigued? he lost because he is human. by the way, playing verdasco two sets doesn’t mean there was no work involve to pull it off. pulling a match out in two sets can sometimes appear to be easy, but can be deceiving in terms of degree of difficulty. again, nadal being exhausted contributed to federer’s win in madrid!


Sean Randall Says:

Arjun, didn’t Rafa have a week off before Madrid? So you would rate Edberg’s 5.5 hour win over Chang, then beating Sampras for the US Open win the very next day in four sets as less than what Rafa went through on clay?

Mem, I would say Roddick, Federer, Murray and even guys of the past like Agassi, Kuerten would get through playing a two-setter, a 3.5 hour match sat then a 2-setter Sunday. Sure, they may not all win, but we would not get such the presumption of fatigue that we immediately get anytime Rafa goes that distance.


arjun Says:

That’s why I said “Mentally”. Believe me I am a professional player myself and its really tough to keep winning so many matches in such a short span of time even if you are physically 100%. I think Nadal won something like 16-17 consecutive matches in 5 weeks(leaving two lucky breaks against nalby and kohl).

And although Edberg is my favourite tennis player ever (much higher than Nadal) but if you wanna compare his feat to anything then have a look at what Nadal had to went through in Wimbledon 2007.


Akun Anand Says:

Easy to dismiss Fed’s Madrid title saying Rafa was not 100%, had played an epic match the day before etc. Rafa played one less match because of a default earlier in the tournament. He played a 5 hour plus epic against Verdasco in the 2009 AO and beat Fed in the 5th set the next day, and it was not even clay!! The fact is, finally Fed has changed tactics and they worked. Remains to be seen if it will hold at the French; my money is on Fed and next on the Djoker.


MMT Says:

Have to agree with Sean on this one – part of winning tournaments is taking care of business efficiently and in Madrid Nadal took 4 hours to beat Djokovic who played on more match than him (Davydenko walkover). Can you really say that Nadal was at his best in the first set and a half against Djokovic? If he was, would the match have been so long? I doubt it. At the end of the day, how much time you spend on court and how fresh you are for the final depends on how you play. It’s not the end of the world – after all he did win 4 our out 5 tournaments he entered this spring.

And Arjun, this is brilliant:

“This was a Masters where federer got lucky having to face his pony (A) Roddick in Quarters {whom he struggled to beat even on clay court}and his pony (B) Del potro {whom he gave twice as many games in two sets compared to what he gave in 3 sets at AO)and a mentally and physically exhausted player in Final who could have been even Youzhny’s pony that day. LOL :D”

By this logic I could have beaten Nadal in that final. If Federer beats Roddick it’s because he did what he had to do. If he beats del Potro it’s the same – this is the same del Potro that beat Nadal in Miami, right? And if he beat Rafa in the final, it’s because he played well enough to beat him. At the AO Federer lost to a mentally and physically exhausted Nadal who had played 5 hours in his semi-final, but because Nadal won that match he wasn’t “mentally and physically exhausted”. Here, he had to be, because he lost.

It can’t possibly be because Federer played better…not possible.


Sean Randall Says:

argun, Rafa did get a bye, he did get a full week of rest before Madrid. In fact, in the 11 days prior to his deceivingly “difficult” encounter with Verdasco, Rafa played exactly 62 minutes.

How much rest does he need? Because he’s not getting 11 days before his first three setter at Roland Garros.


arjun Says:

LOL.. It will be good to see you eating your words when Nadal lifts his 5th French open trophy (just like Guerry Smith had to eat his words about an year ago). I will be back here after French Open Final (where most probably Rafa will beat someone not called Federer in the Final). CYA then.


skeezerweezer Says:

Skoroce,

First, great multi tasking on your responses. And kudos to you for taking the time to read everyones elses! I gotta answer your comment about F&R’s A games. YOU’RE RIGHT. Until proven otherwise, Rafa will always win the match on clay with both playing at there top level. Fed clearly does not match up right now and unless he gets his ego out of the way and change is strategy, Nadal is going to keep riding the horse to his BH, which is what I would be doing until Fed can answer.

For everyone else…I would like to comment for those students of the game Fed did move alot better, run around his backhand, and played more aggressive than in the past matches with Rafa. Thus the win. And for those who didn’t think Fed was serving well, and Rafa was “fatigued”, didn’t watch his matches throughout the tournament.

Also, this tiring thing is really getting out of hand. Everyone plays by the same rules. Windy, tired, bad draw, bad scheduling,etc,etc….. in the end you still have to play! Did I see a guy claiming to be a pro on this discussion giving Rafa more excuses for being tired because he plays so much? C’mon! HE chooses to play these tournaments, he is not forced to play as many tournaments as he has to. So if he wants to burn himself out, fine. Don’t use “tired” or “fatigued as an excuse. Does Fed? Plus, when a player says ahead of time “I don’t like Madrid” or whatever then DON’T play! I have seen plenty of matches where players have won back to back tough long matches. These guys are pros. If they are not fit enough, they are going to lose in these situations. Looked what happened to Murray when he decided to get fit with the top guys….zooom to the top 4. I’m out


skeezerweezer Says:

By the way, for you Rafa fans, just for the record, and I have said it before, he is the odds on favorite in my book to repeat at the FO. I’m out


fed is afraid Says:

number 5 in a row ba-bee will be here in 3 weeks!!


skeezerweezer Says:

Sean,

Have you ever wrote an article up here about how the Grand Slam surfaces have changed. It is a fact the the reason we have 3 different surfaces is to prove the best overall player. These surfaces were in professional tennis for a reason. They all played significantly different. I played on grass before they changed it at Wimbledon, and the ball bounced very low and skids towards you fast. This is why serving and a slice ground stroke or attacking slice was so effective. You had different players come out of the woodwork who were not good on other surfaces. It was quite a contrast. Not so on Clay completely different contrast, but has not changed. The ball bounce is high, sits up, and slice is not an effective weapon. In the past few years, it as been well documented that Wimbledon officials have “slowed down” the surface and it is not the original surface it has been for decades. This has helped obviously the groundstrokers and we see serve and volley practically not existent as a result. Can you expand on the matter? I think it would make for interesting topic. Thanks


mem Says:

sean, let stick to current players; players who are competing against each other at the present time. is this joke? roddick, murray, federer. if it wasn’t so funny, i would be crying! first of all, we will ever know if federer could do it because seemingly he’s never going to have to battle through a tough draw like rafa. secondly, a player like verdasco do not give the same effort against federer as he does against nadal. don’t take my word for it, everybody can see the difference by watching the match. he rolls over with federer. verdasco played roger in the quarterfinal of indian wells and federer made a joke out of it after the match. roger stated that (i’m paraphrasing) ” as big as verdasco serve is, he wouldn’t even ace me.” that says it all! thirdly, djokovic would have beaten federer had he played in the semis. to further support my claim, let’s turn our attention to the 2006 Rome final, federer battled rafa 5+ hours, lost, they both pulled out of hamburg due to fatigue. next, in regards to murray, why didn’t he pull that off against federer in the final 2008 usopen after playing 4 tights sets over two days against rafa? wasn’t he 21 years old and physically fit like rafa. did murray or did he not site fatigue as one of the reasons he lost. in regards to roddick, why would roddick have a reason to complain about fatigue in a final agains federer on clay. first of all, he’s not going to be on the court long enough against djokovic in a semis on clay to work up a sweat. so, why don’t you gather some convincing evidence to support your claim? because the players you name couldn’t pull off either under the same circumstances and you know it, i know it, and anyone else who doesn’t have a problem facing the truth knows it. we can go on and on forever with this topic, the bottom line is those who want to see the facts, will, those who don’t, won’t.


skeezerweezer Says:

mem,

“let stick to current players; players who are competing against each other at the present time”
Why?
“e will ever know if federer could do it because seemingly he’s never going to have to battle through a tough draw like rafa”

Listen, Roger after being number one for “how many years”? gets a easier draw because of his ranking. Complain to the rule makers. Rafa has been #1 for a heckava lot shorter time so far but the longer he stays #1 the easier side his draw shall be. BUt I would like to throw in a wrench here. Fed really dominated for awhile and no one could touch him. Now, whether in Rafa’s side or Fed’s you have guys that can beat them and have. Murray, Joke, etc. So with Fed slipping, Rafa getting better and #1 ranking, and the rest of the gang coming up in the field, Rafa is not going to get an easy draw nor Fed by the time they hit the quarters or semis it will be tougher.
Regarding the never ending fatigue thing. Lets make sure the facts are straight like you said. First of all, fatigue, conditioning, skill, talent are all part of this game. You better come prepared. These guys know the quicker they beat there opponets the more energy they save for later matches. Good for them. They deserve it. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. I have seen them still win. You’ll notice when they win they never complain they were tired or fatigued.
Lastly, when your quoting tournaments, are these 5 sets or 3 sets? No matter how long, 5 setters are significantly more demanding than 3 setters. Heck, in USTA League tournments, they last a weekend, and you have to play 2 singles matches on sat ( one on a Fri if you don’t get a bye ) and two on Sunday. Granted this is not Pro tennis but this guys/gals are athletes and do it. Best of three sets. So if your bringing this all around to Rafa being fatigued excuse to losing to Roger in a 3 set tournament I don’t buy it. I would in a 5 set grand slam, but still in the Slams they only play one match a day, and sometimes get a days rest until finals! I’m out


Skorocel Says:

mem: “secondly, a player like verdasco do not give the same effort against federer as he does against nadal.”

Can this get any further that this? Man, what are you riding on?


PietjeP Says:

I completely agree with Sean and MMT.

Maybe the Rafa die hards here want to explain all the other 81 career losses? Fatigue; inexperience; bad hair day; he got a wedgie from Uncle Toni before the match?

(That last one though would explain a lot :))

If fatigue is a reoccuring problem for Rafa in tournaments after some close matches; he should find a solution to spend less time on court. Or should we play less matches in a tournament to suit Rafa’s gruelling, grinding playing style? Maybe 3 matches in 2 weeks is an option?

Come’on people. Give everybody credit where credit is due. Rafa played a great match vs Djoko; he didn’t look that tired to me. Fed was just the better player that day. (And maybe watch some other matches; mostly when Nadal is losing… he is never fistpumping; jumping & sprinting. He tends to do that when winning or when gaining back momentum in a match)

Vamos & Allez!


skeezerweezer Says:

Ok,

So, why isn’t Fed tired by now and not winning against the #1 player in the world on any surface any condition.
He’s already done this:
*10 consecutive Grand Slam men’s singles finals
He was the World No. 1 ranked player for a record 237 consecutive weeks, from February 2, 2004, to August 17, 2008


skeezerweezer Says:

To continue, (sorry pressed the wrong, my typing skills are well known here lol)

Ok,

So, why isn’t Fed tired by now and not winning against the #1 player in the world on any surface any condition.
He’s already done this:

*10 consecutive Grand Slam men’s singles finals
*He was the World No. 1 ranked player for a record 237 consecutive weeks, from February 2, 2004, to August 17, 2008

Oh heck, just go here:

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Federer_career_statistics

My point is if anyone has a history of coming up with fatigue or tired excuses BECAUSE of playing too much it should the FED. And look what he has done and continues to do….


mem Says:

Yes,Skorocel, i can go further than that, but i won’t! i’m not asking anyone to buy what i’m selling. whether someone see it the way i do or not, it’not going to change my viewpoint one iota of a bit!


I can kick your a** on the court Says:

If Rafa chooses to play backboard, pushing style tennis, grinding out each match, then he should expect to get tired and as such none of use, including the Nadal, should use fatigue as an excuse for losing.

The reality for Rafa is that running around the court like a track star is the only way he can win, so he’s got to eat results like this or learn to finish points sooner.


skeezerweezer Says:

I can kick your a** on the court,

I got to change my name, your name is awesome lol!

Kudos to your insight on Rafa. I like Rafa, and I think it is more his fans than him making excuses. He has always given the Fed praise. He is number #1 now for a reason. Since the last FO, which he crushed Rog, he won Wimby and AO. Who can argue he shouldn’t be the fav in every tourney? Where are the Rafa fans on that?

It’s nice to see in my opinion that most of Roger’s ability to compete or beat Rafa is in his head. I think he was cruising all the years and just felt his game was going to beat anyones. It did, until he met Rafa. Borg faced the same question ( being a clay court specialist ) when he kept losing wimbledon. He re-invented himself with a serve so strong he was acing people, thus winning 5 in a row. How great is Fed? I loved that Rafa came around. Cuz great Champions are so good they can adapt, take on any new challenge, always learning and growing a getting better. My challenging question for Fed is he so set and old in his ways to change and get it done? He didn’t seem that way in Madrid. Rafa gang, I know, FO is much slower, higher bouncing. Rafa to me is still the odds on Fav. But what this does prove is that Fed can still play AND beat his nemesis, and Wimby and US open is coming up. For you saying that Fed must win the FO to be GOAT I say this, what other player that is in his caliber in history has gotten to more semi’s and finals at the french open? Agassi won a slam in his thirties, so did Conners, don’t count out the FED. Don’t count out Rafa either, although is group and peers in his tennis time are tough. Joke, Murray, Verdasco, even Roddick seems to be playing better, who knows? Bring it on!


Giner Says:

NachoF Says:

“there is no denying that Nadal is overall the best clay court player out there, but the point is that he is NOT that far from the rest, and if he happens to not be at his best against someone like Fed/Verdasco/Djokovic/etc there is a good chance he will not win…. what happened at Madrid (someone pushing Nadal to the limit thus making him very tired for the next match) could very well happen again at Roland Garros.”

That’s a very good point. But it’s worth noting that only two players have ever extended Rafa to 5 sets on clay — Federer and Coria, both in Rome final. No one’s been able to take 2 sets off him in Roland Garros. Djokovic might have done it had Madrid been best of 5, but if it went to a 5th, my money would have been on Nadal.

He’ll also have a day off between matches, so these 4 hour matches won’t be that big of a problem. I say that because he only had a day’s rest after his match against Verdasco which was over 5 hours at the AO, and still had enough in the tank to go 5 sets again in the final and beat Federer. Therefore even if someone pushed him to 5 sets at RG, it shouldn’t screw his chances in winning the title, unless it happened repeatedly one after another.

Let’s say if Djokovic extended him to a 5 hour match in the semis, and Rafa ends up losing in the final, I would not put that down to fatigue. Once upon a time I would have, but Melbourne showed us that he can handle it.

The Madrid 3 setter against Djokovic was longer than many 5 set matches (Federer beat Berdych in 3 hours this year), and he had less than 24 hours of rest. It was a factor. It won’t be a big factor at a Slam unless it’s the US Open (very stupid scheduling imo).


Von Says:

Post mortems are sickening!!

Here we see so many who probably have never picked up a racquet in their lives, are imposing their sedentary life-styles and white/blue collar mind-set on their fave athletes with an apologist tone. Get real you guys please, because even though these tennis pros work hard in a match, it’s only 4 hours out of 24 hours, and that’s not a big deal. Some of them should try being construction workers, who work 10 hours per day on their feet, and are up next day bright and early, back on the job,lifting and carrying with only 15 minute breaks every 4 hours. Not to mention the fact they work with severe injuries at times, and the fear factor of dismembering one of their joints, etc., — the whole nine yards. these players bear the title of ‘athlete’ for a reason. they work and build up stamina and endurance to play for several hours when they have to. Nadal practises for 5 hours per day. When he plays a short match he’s back on the practice court practising and practising for several more hours. I wonder why? Perhaps the leader of the apologists can come up with a reasonable explanation?

Whatever happened to stamina and endurance for athletes? It seems that went through the window. I’ve mentioned before and I’ll say it again, per Michael Chang, and some other players of past eras, the tennis athletes today are spoilt and pampered, and they have a lot of down time on their hands, due to tennis being their ONLY job.

I know we all have different types of professions on this blog, and come from different walks of life, but have any of you worked on a job where you have to use your mind and keep it sharp as a tack to win arguments and technical points? Or is a surgeon in an operating room trying to save another’s life? If you have, then you’ll understand when I say, that there’s nothing more draining to a person doing a mentally challenged job for 10 or more hours per day. A mentally driven job is very physically draining because whatever happens in the mind translates to the physical, where sometimes one does not know if he/she’s coming and/or going and when and where and when; talk about disorientation, it’s there in full bloom. Try doing it and then let’s hear the results.

“As I said before, Fed fans should be very proud of his as he played a great match. He won because he played great. he was happy and healthy and did not lose concentration and converted all the break points.”

Then why is it since Federer won, you’ve been ranting and raving to the point of ad nauseam with respect to your perceived Nadal lack of concentration, his knee, the kitchen sink, et al? Get real who are you trying to fool? You are ensuring the Federer fans don’t enjoy a minute of his win. How greedy can one get? Considering how much Nadal has won this year and you’ve enjoyed all those victories, savored and relished them each of them with unending accolades, where each time we are reminded of his wonderful resume’, then why in God’s name can’t you allow him and his fans the joy of winning? If Nadal had won you probably wouldn’t be posting so much, it’s only when he loses then you become extremely vociferous with the ranting, apologies, et al. Now you’re harping on his knee not being healthy for RG. don’t worry, ‘he’ll win it all’, as you’ve mentioned and/or prophesied on another thread, and it’s the reason why you’re in apology land, rationalizing everything.

arjun: “This was a Masters where federer got lucky having to face his pony (A) Roddick in Quarters {whom he struggled to beat even on clay court}and his pony (B) Del Potro {whom he gave twice as many games in two sets compared to what he gave in 3 sets at AO)and a mentally and physically exhausted player in Final who could have been even Youzhny’s pony that day. LOL :D”

So all of these guys are now ponies and Nadal is the only thoroughbred race horse, eh? Well, considering you claim you’re a ‘professional’ player, one whom I’ve never heard of, then the first thing you should have learnt is not to refer to your colleagues ‘as pony’, don’t you think? Where’s your professionalism? In the gutter? That was low, and how low can you get. And, as a professional, if though you have your faves, you should speak with an unbiased perspective. sheesh.

Well, for starters, Nadal came into Madrid with at least 10 days off, considering he didn’t play until Wednesday. Nadal’s played his first match v. Melzer, a guy close to 30 years old, and one who is very lowly ranked. The ‘pony’ Roddick has a perfect 7-0 H2H against Melzer, and a couple of those matches were on clay, hence if the ‘pony’ has such a perfect record against Melzer, then it was a breeze for the ‘thoroughbred’ Nadal, don’t you think? Next he had a walkover from Kohls, which meant he had a day off, and did not have to play until Saturday v. Djokovic with close to d days off, give and take a few hours. I won’t talk about Saturday, because everyone saw that match and know that it could have been a lot shorter in duration. Hence, how could Nadal have been so tired on Sunday when he faced Federer? Come on people, get real! I think Nadal played the way he did in Madrid to make a statement to Ion Tiriac, that he didn’t like Madrid. He an d probably Federer did the same pulling out of Hamburg to emphasize the point that the MS finals shouldn’t be more than 3 sets, and by both of them pulling out of hamburg they got their point across, and we now have only 3 sets as opposed to 5 sets for the finals. I give a lot of credit for their predecessor champions who played and won their titles in 5 sets. Taking into consideration what has gone before, I wonder what would have happened on Sunday if Nadal had to play 3 best of 5? Would he have disintegrated, since some of you are making him out to be this fragile piece of Royal Doulton Porcelain china? this is so ludicrous and unbelievable.

Secondly, there are some tactics of Nadal’s that these guys ‘ponies’ don’t employ, and that is they don’t drag the matches on for hours, call the trainer when they’re losing, and violate the time rule on EVERY point. Oh yes, I suppose we’ll see a counter argument by the Nadal ‘proprietrix’ or PR director, that he doesn’t ‘bully’ the umpire and ‘curse’, et al. Shock attack: Oh yes he does. He’s even called for the tournament referee when he was reminded of the time rule in Toronto last year, an d it was a big scene. The whole truth of the matter: RHIP = rank has it’s privileges, and the umpires are scared to impose on him the rules, because there are serious repercussions for them, especially since he’s on the ATP Council Board and the No. 1 player. I suppose they all feel why bother, they need their jobs, so leave him to do as he pleases. However is that fair to the other players? hell, no, not in a million years.

When there was talk of the time violations initially, that point was countered by the argument that ‘the players are not complaining’, well Blake, Tsonga and a few others have complained with respect to both Nadal and Djokovic. Federer notices and has commented on those problems, but has never been extremely vociferous of Nadal, as he has been at Madrid. Some of their fans have condoned it, but they need to ask themselves, why is it not wrong for them to abuse the rules, and why should they be allowed these privileges? I wonder if these fans worked in a job where they had to be at work on time because their supervisor was a stickler for time, but saw another of their colleagues always being late due to a very scared/weak supervisor, how would they’d feel? I’m sure they wouldn’t like it, well so too with the other players. Why should they have to adhere to the rules, when some are abusing it? I think all of the players should take a page from Nadal/Djokovic/DelPotro/Verdasco and the other violators, and start wasting time, then we’re going to see matches go to a 2 set match running 3 hours. That should make the media, TV stations and the fans happy, yes? No? Let’s hear from those who are supposedly ‘fair minded’.

In sum people, the whole problem here is that some of the Nadal fans are disappointed and angry he lost. They want him to win EVERYTHING, period. But he didn’t and they don’t know how to channel their disappointment, hence some are lashing out, some are being apologists and some are just plain envious. Even though I’m not a Fed fan, I’m happy for them, because I’m happy when my fave wins, and whether his opponent was injured, tired, et al., the bottom line is, he WON, so let them have the enjoyment, please.

Many of the Nadal fans should follow Ezorra’s example, even though he is a huge Nadal fan, he’s very fair-minded, and he asked to let the Federer fans be allowed to enjoy their man’s win, hence why can’t all of you do the same. Analyze the point construction of the match as much as you want, per Voicemale1, MMT, and some others, who are true tennis fans, and really know the game, but please cease and desist with the ramblings and apologies, it’s sickening!

Having said all of that, I know I’ve angered the nadal fans big time, and some Djokovic fans. I’m not ms. congeniality and I don’t play sides to earn kudos, I write what i feel and see. Now I suppose some of the Nadal and perhaps some of the Djokovic fans will run wild with their name calling towards me, no problem, been there done that, so have fun! Hey, I’m killed by Zola if I write anything negative ref Nadal, and I’m slaughered by her for writing positively, so I might as well write only the negativity henceforth, yes? Oy vey, and oy vey!!!!!


Giner Says:

MMT:

“Federer has lost to a “tired” Nadal before – last year at Hamburg and this year in Melbourne, so you can deduce from reverse-logic if Nadal lost it is BECAUSE he was tired, but it’s a poor and incomplete deduction.”

An extra day of rest makes a difference you know. 4 hours is long enough to be a 5 set match.

“Furthermore, if Federer spend less time on the court (in spite of Nadal’s walkover in round 3) that’s down to him taking care of business efficiently with previous opponents and Nadal being unable to do the same.”

Yeah but Federer didn’t draw Djokovic. Del Potro is a lower tiered player than Djokovic. I would wager that had he played Djokovic he would have either lost, or been pushed to 3 very tight sets. Even Murray would have had a better chance at beating Federer than DP. You can also deduce that I don’t think Nadal would have taken 4 hours to beat Del Potro.

It’s not just how efficiently you take care of business, but who’s business comes your way. It’s easy to paste everyone if you get a good draw. Fed only met one seeded player at RG last year (Gonzalez, QF) until his duel with Nadal in the final.

zola: “Rafa needs to be cautious and just stick to his own game plan. What Fed used in Madrid may or may not be the same tactic he will use in RG. Rafa needs to be ready for both cases. I read that in Madrid he let Rafa serve first to change things. Usually he would not have done this.”

That’s very interesting. Fed always chooses to serve first, even on clay, so this is a first for me. He probably tried to psyche him out just to see his reaction.

As Von said, Fed has given Nadal something new to think about tactically, and his team will have a few weeks at the drawing board. Fed may not have that luxury since he doesn’t have a coach with much investment in him. Nadal should be prepared if a rematch occurs, and I’m confident he has written off the Madrid result as nothing to be concerned about (he played the exact same clay schedule and number of matches in 2007 when he lost to Fed at Hamburg, walkover notwithstanding).

chad Says:

“I think it might be fair to say that Roger Federer is the best clay player to have never won the French Open, and its only because he loses to the best clay player of all time. If anyone is going to topple Rafa in a clay final, it’s Roger. I’m just not sure this is his year.”

If it’s not this year, it may as well be never. Time goes only one direction (I think). Next year he’ll be almost 29. Chances only close as you get older, not widen. Andre Agassi did it at 29, but he was down 6-1 6-2 to Andrei Medvedev (who is not exactly a hall of famer) before a rain delay saved him. That’s not going to happen if he’s 29 against Rafa.

This is Fed’s last real shot at winning it. Too much of the competition has caught up with him and his game is still better than most, but it’s not cutting edge anymore. His best shot ever at winning the title was in 04 but he was upset by Guga. Had he not lost to Guga, I’d say he would have won the Grand Slam that year (well ok, he would have drawn David Nalbandian later who is hard to call).

skweezer:

“Back to Madrid, was it Rogers fault that Rafa has to play so physical to win a match, thus making him fatiqued?? I wish we would get over the excuses. Yes he played a 4 hour match. I do not agree at 22 you can’t recover well enough to compete and at a high level enough to win. Look in Rafa’s past tourneys. He has had tough Semi’s and turned around and won the finals. HEll, look at the Aussie open? Fernando and him played what, 5+ hours then the finals he beats Fed on hard courts? C’mon!. Tennis is a physical sport. Part of winning is being fit and in condition. Look at Agassi in his thirties at US open he had some five setters and still lasted well into the tournament.
Sorry mem, I don’t buy your Fatique argument. For us athletes, that is a cop out. Get in better shape. You are going to play these long matches and back to back sometimes. That is what the training is for.”

For the last time, Grand Slams give you a day of rest between match. Given the downtime you have to do after a match, with the press, then massages, ice baths or cold showers and stuff that athletes do to warm down, it’s hours later before you can go to bed. A good chunk of your rest is already gone. Some players argue that Masters titles are physically harder to win than Grand Slams for this reason.


Von Says:

correction: “and did not have to play until Saturday v. Djokovic with close to d days off, give and take a few hours.”

should be “close to 3 days off”


Giner Says:

Sean Randall:

“And for the many Nadal fans, when was the last time your guy lost in your mind a legitimate clay court match. If the two losses to Federer don’t count, nor the loss to Ferrero (blisters), when then? Just curious.”

I want to make it clear that to me these losses DO count. There were factors contributing to his losses, but they weren’t big enough for him to have no chance of winning. He could still have won them in spite of a handicap but he didn’t.

The last time he lost a match 100% no excuses was to Gaston Gaudio. I’d say in the 07 Hamburg loss he was hampered about 25%, which is definitely still winnable for him. Would he have won without the 25% handicap? I don’t know. Blisters? No idea what percentage to put on that, probably not that high, but then again it did come from Ferrero — a guy who’s career was more or less over after 2003.

In future years I do think Federer will have a good (or at least better than normal) shot at beating Rafa in Madrid as opposed to in Rome or MC, and certainly Roland Garros.


Giner Says:

Von Says:

‘correction: “and did not have to play until Saturday v. Djokovic with close to d days off, give and take a few hours.”

should be “close to 3 days off”’

The thing with recovery is, you can’t stockpile energy. Everyone has a tank, and when it’s full, no amount of extra rest is going to expand your energy reserves beyond what you can already store. So if a match takes you out 95% or 80%, a day, a week or month of rest before that match isn’t going to make that match take less out of you. I made up those % figures to illustrate the point. You recover a certain amount after rest, which differs from person to person, but if you expend more than you recovered then you will not be in as good condition for the next match as you were in this one. If it takes so much out of you that even going in 100% you have trouble recovering in time afterward, then it doesn’t matter if you were already tired going into that match or had 2 walkovers. You’re at a disadvantage for the next, and the same was true after the Verdasco match. (The AO final was a match Fed could have and should have won if he didn’t make so many UEs in the last set.)

The reverse is not true however. You can accumulate net losses in physical health and energy after matches.

The credit Federer deserves is that he is never seen physically tired. He doesn’t get extended long like Nadal does (except in a final) and expends less energy in his matches. I would wager that if he got into a 7-6 6-7 7-6 grind against someone on clay, he won’t be in peak form for the next match either.


Von Says:

MMT:

Hello, I enjoyed the “Wimby Celebration”! It was so good to see Henman and Graf, having fun, since they were always so serious whenever they played.

I thought Wimby did a classy job with the retractable roof. It’s so equisite and elegant looking, even genteel for construction, but that’s Wimby for you, class all the way! I now wonder if Arthur Ashe will have a retractable roof, which isn’t difficult to do, considering how much support there is on the roof top to support a very nicely built retractable roof. I hope the USTA seriously considers following suit, because I don’t want to see a repeat of last year’s rain drought happening again.

I agree that Graf is still very technically sound. “Fraulein Forehand” still has the zing in her forehand. Her speed is good, but the only thing missing is her somewhat diminished endurance, but that’s something that can be remedied were she to compete on the pro level. I’m positive Gil Reyes could whip her into shape very quickly. I would like to see her play just for kicks on the WTA tour, to show some of the ball bashers what it’s like to play beautiful tennis. Ah those were the days, my friend!

I was also delighted to see Clijsters still doing her gymnastic splits. I liked watching her play and would be extremely happy when she begins playing on the tour. I think she could win some more titles. I doubt however, that she’ll be able to play a full season over a 3 year period, considering her maternal and wifely responsibilities. Anyway, we’ll see.

I’ve set my DVR to record the RG classics. I saw the Agassi v. Medevdev final quite a few times last year, but am looking forward to seeing Wilander/Noah and the other matches.

Enjoy the classic FO matches will ya, and I’ll do likewise. I’ll try to remember what I see of importance to discuss same with you when next we interact. Until then …. Bon soir.


Skorocel Says:

NachoF: “there is no denying that Nadal is overall the best clay court player out there, but the point is that he is NOT that far from the rest”

Another gem :) Boys, you’re hilarious!


Sean Randall Says:

Giner, regarding Federer you write that you “would wager that if he got into a 7-6 6-7 7-6 grind against someone on clay, he won’t be in peak form for the next match either.”

Why is that? That’s the basis of my argument. This new thinking that just because a guy play a long match he’s no longer able to be at peak the next day. When did this change happen??

At the US Open a few years ago in ’05 Federer went four sets, Agassi needed five yet there wasn’t the talk of fitness for either guy like there is now. Did Federer complain, did Agassi? Did their fans? Not that I recall. They both went out the very next day and of course Fed won in four. And that was on a HARDCOURT, much more taxing on a body than clay.

Now it seems like “oh my gosh, he played four sets or he played three tiebreaks, how can he recover!” Please.

We, not the players, are turning this sport into a bunch of wimps.


jane Says:

Giner you make a good point here that I don’t think has yet been made: “It’s not just how efficiently you take care of business, but who’s business comes your way. It’s easy to paste everyone if you get a good draw.”

Draws are important.

Secondly, with regards to how much players take between serves, Danica raises a couple of good points on the other thread:

1.) should they start the clock when the crowd is still cheering or wait until the players have / can settle down and focus, especially in nail-bitter matches or DC ones, with crazy crowds, would this perhaps matter.

2/) some players do the opposite and rush between points, which is sometimes just as awkward for the opponent and the viewer. I loved Agassi but sometimes i had to check my t.v. to make sure it wasn’t on fast-forward, he was so quick to the line to serve! lol. I think it’s worthwhile to allow for a little idosyncrasy in terms of service routines, as Danica already points out on the other thread. Either that or perhaps extend the 25 seconds to 35 secs or something, as Voicemale1 suggested on the other thread.


Sean Randall Says:

Von, as much as I hate to say it, I agree with much of what you said. We the fans, the media and the officials no longer expect players to compete like they used to. It’s sad really.

Rafa had play one hour of tennis in the 11 days prior to his match with Verdasco.

He then played 2 hours against Verdasco (in real time about 1:45) then 4 hours vs Novak (real time I would say no more than 3:30 given the three injury timeouts and how long they take between points) and according to many of his faithful he had a right to be gassed on Sunday.

Most people would argue Rafa’s the fittest guy on the tour by a mile, yet there;s clearly a disconnect somewhere.


Giner Says:

Sean Randall Says:

“Arjun, didn’t Rafa have a week off before Madrid? So you would rate Edberg’s 5.5 hour win over Chang, then beating Sampras for the US Open win the very next day in four sets as less than what Rafa went through on clay?

Mem, I would say Roddick, Federer, Murray and even guys of the past like Agassi, Kuerten would get through playing a two-setter, a 3.5 hour match sat then a 2-setter Sunday. Sure, they may not all win, but we would not get such the presumption of fatigue that we immediately get anytime Rafa goes that distance.”

Let’s frame it slightly differently. Let’s suppose you can put a % figure on your current form, which takes into account fitness, injuries, fatigue, mental fatigue, and so forth. It’s not realistic or simple to put % figures on things like this, but video games do it so let’s for the sake of argument say you went into round 4 at 70%, and the match took 50% out of you (down to 20%), and you recover back to 50% for the next match (round 5). Would you have been better served if you had a bye in round 3 and been 100% going into round 4? Absolutely. How about an easier match in round 3 and going into round 4 feeling 80%? That too is an improvement for round 5.

But what if round 4 took so much out of you that it didn’t matter how good you were feeling before the match? Is it possible to go into a match feeling 120% thanks to several byes and skipped tournaments? No more than a car who’s top speed is 100 mph can drive at 120 mph. Can taking extra good care of your car make it perform better than what it can do when it’s brand new? No.

Byes and easy matches are definitely helpful. You will be able to recover to a better state than you would have been in if you were pushed hard. You’d have a net positive gain in form. Except you can’t accumulate your form beyond a certain extent. A month of rest before a match is no better than a week of rest if it’s already enough that you’re feeling 100%. Extra rest won’t improve your situation.

So if you play one match that takes out so much of you, then it won’t matter if you had a bye and a week of rest. That extra rest didn’t do anything to help you withstand the physical demands of the match any more than you would have.

That’s the theory at least. How long does it take a person to recover fully? How much is expended in a match? How spent was he exactly? I can’t say. Only he knows.

It’s almost certain that several of Nadal’s losses were unfairly excused by his fans as being a result of fatigue when it wasn’t. An example would be the defeat by Murray at the US Open. I wouldn’t say that he was tired that day. He was beaten by a better man on the day. People who say he was tired when he loses are making assumptions that they can’t be certain of (just how tired?). But even you would have to agree that he couldn’t have been 100% only 24 hours after a 4 hour marathon. Where was he exactly? Was he close? Who knows. But he was handicapped at least somewhat. Perhaps just enough to lose. Or perhaps he would have lost anyway. Only he knows.


jane Says:

“with regards to how much players take between serves, ” should read “with regards to how much time players take between serves or points, “


Von Says:

Giner: Apologies, I forgot to add your name to the tennis fans who are able to discuss the matches, players, without bias. I saw it, and then I forgot to add it to my errata/addendum comment.

“As Von said, Fed has given Nadal something new to think about tactically, and his team will have a few weeks at the drawing board. Fed may not have that luxury since he doesn’t have a coach with much investment in him. Nadal should be prepared if a rematch occurs, and I’m confident he has written off the Madrid result as nothing to be concerned about (he played the exact same clay schedule and number of matches in 2007 when he lost to Fed at Hamburg, walkover notwithstanding).”

I’d hazard a guess that Fed has made all of the revisions he could make to his game plan, but I’m pretty sure Nadal and his team are feverishly working to incorporate and hone his strategy to counter-attack Fed’s game plan should he play that way at the FO too. You can bet there will be Plans A and B, and no longer payaing by rote for Nadal v. Federer. Prior to last Sunday, Nadal could have played Federer blindfolded, but not anymore. As I’ve mentioned previously, Fed showed Nadal his hand, which probably took Nadal out of his comfort zone. However, I can’t help but think Nadal is playing a mind game now with Fed, lulling him into thinking he’s got the upper hand. What was very blatant to me was Nadal’s sort of lackadaisical approach to countering Fed’s shots, since it seemed he was in the match but not really trying very hard, and I don’t think any of it was due to tiredness or pain; there was something very peculiar in the manner he played. It’s just a guess, speculation, and silly musings on my part, but it’s also rather baffling to me. I’m stumped!

“The credit Federer deserves is that he is never seen physically tired. He doesn’t get extended long like Nadal does (except in a final) and expends less energy in his matches. I would wager that if he got into a 7-6 6-7 7-6 grind against someone on clay, he won’t be in peak form for the next match either.”

For some reason only Nadal is able to extend him for long rallies on clay, but that’s a result of the draw where he doesn’t encounter the players who could really push him, e.g., Nalbandian, Andreev, and even Ferrer (?) in the early rounds. If you will notice, that it wasn’t until Coria stopped playing that Federer rose to preeminence and been able to reach the finals on clay, and that speaks volumes. How I miss watching Coria, and those were the days!


jane Says:

Further re: the Draw point, it’s worth noting that Rafa drew Djokovic, against whom he has played two clay finals this season, and a player who has also won a small clay title in Serbia. Arguably, at least before Madrid, Djoko has been the second best clay courter this season. Meanwhile, Federer got JMDP, thanks to Murray, who has not yet found his clay form, and JMDP lost in the R32 at Monte Carlo, lost in the quarters to Djoko in Rome (3-6, 4-6) and lost to Fed in Madrid. I don’t think JMDP is the third or even fifth best on clay this season; there are Verdasco and Monaco who’ve played better in some regards.

Anyhow my point is simply to reiterate what Giner said with some further evidence; it don’t think one can say straight-forwardly that Nadal didn’t take care of business (i.e., his semi with Djoko) as well as Fed too care of business in his semi with JMDP. I would wager that what Giner said is correct: if Rafa had faced JMDP he would’ve also won in 2 sets, and similarly, Djoko may’ve stretched Federer to three.

This is speculation, and regardless of if the semi final opponents were switched, Fed STILL could’ve won the Final. But the point is that *draws do matter* no matter how ya slice it.


Sean Randall Says:

Giner, I agree. Only the players knows how tired he is or isn;t. But when Rafa hears from his fans, the media and his trainer over their the concern over his ability to recover, naturally he’s going to feel that he’s no longer expected to be 100%. I don;t ever recall the guys in the 90s and 80s have such a frequent luxury.


Sean Randall Says:

Jane, good point. Had roles been reversed Saturday and had Rafa beaten DelPo in straights and Roger edges Novak 76 in the third in 3 hours (no way Federer plays a four hour three setter with tiebreaks, i don’t think that’s even possible) would there have much concern for Federer’s fitness for Sunday? Hardly any I bet.

And if Rafa had rolled Roger Sunday would Federer fans be up in arms claiming their guy was fatigued? I doubt it. Again, it’s a double standard.


Von Says:

Sean Randall:

“Von, as much as I hate to say it, I agree with much of what you said. We the fans, the media and the officials no longer expect players to compete like they used to. It’s sad really.”

That must have been very hard for you, since you like to chide me every inch of the way — a lump in the throat perhaps? LOL. Drum Roll!!!! I love you too, Sean, and everyone else here on this forum, honestly. Admittedly, I appear controversial to some, but I am, nevertheless, my own person. How’s that for confidence? LOL.


skeezweezer Says:

Giner,

I ditto Sean’s remarks instead of getting into the ever excuses, excuses why Nadal lost to Fed in Hamburg and Madrid because “He was tired”. Watch it again Fed played great, on his court, in his unofficial hometown and crowd. It’s only you guys saying this ( he’s “tired”). Has Fed ever gave any Fatique issue other than an official documented case of Mono in losing?

Nadal has spanked him plenty of times and he( FED ) never complained, always gave Nadal the glory, and had no excuses. Nadal is in my mind the very fittest of the bunch, if he is getting fatiqued in matches, AND mysteriously this issueONLY comes up with his fans when he loses to Fed, then why in common sense is he playing so many tourneys? Back off! He ( Nadal ) came out to playand win, he lost, get over it. If he thought he was going to lose that match, why play? IS there any people here that have played competitive tournament tennis? These guys/gals should know what I am talking about. What if Nadal won Madrid?You guys are going to say, wow, Nadal was tired and he still beat Fed? Guess what? They ( TV GUYS ) were saying that prior to his AO finals against FED. Even though he had a days rest, they said, how much does he have in the tank and Fed has an advantage in that dept prior to the finals, watch the rerun!
You guys really have no basis of argument. This was only a 3 set tourney. Like I posted before, playing in ATP challengers sometimes its over a weekend and you have to play TWO single matches, t two Sat and two on Sun to win. WTF?

Finally, don’t worry about your man, he is still the odds on fav to win FO. But in my opinion, this will go along way with Fed going into Wimby and US Open.


skeezweezer Says:

Open for debate,

So when did tennis become a game debated on fatigue? Nadal? The draw is the draw, the surface is the surface, sometimes you have a tough draw and match, and sometimes you don’t. The rules have been in place for decades, not favoring any generation ( except in my opinion, changing all surfaces to a slower pace, especially Wimby ).
Everyone has a chance of encountering all these things. The players don’t complain. They know it is fair. If your opponet had to play a tough match to get through to you than so be it. Players ( like the current # 1 have done it ). Regarding draws, remember, that is what the rankings are all about. Your want to complain? Talk to some of the great up and coming players like Monifils, they don’t get a bye. You are privileged to earn a bye and a “maybe” easier draw because you earned it over a period of time. That is your reward. Do you what the #1 and lets say #4 playing in the first round as a fan? No way! Case closed. I’m out


Von Says:

Sean Randall:

“Jane, good point. Had roles been reversed Saturday and had Rafa beaten DelPo in straights and Roger edges Novak 76 in the third in 3 hours (no way Federer plays a four hour three setter with tiebreaks, i don’t think that’s even possible) would there have much concern for Federer’s fitness for Sunday? Hardly any I bet.

As I’ve mentioned previously, some fans impose their sedentary lifestyles and thinking on the players, and it’s the reason why they are athletes, and we are not. These guys train for several hours per day , whereas we dont.

“And if Rafa had rolled Roger Sunday would Federer fans be up in arms claiming their guy was fatigued? I doubt it. Again, it’s a double standard.”

Not a peep, you can bet on it. There would have been hoopla and fanfare by some, and then we would have heard the historical reviews, etc. Let it go guys, it’s done, and you can’t change the facts. It’s something we ALL have to endure when our faves lose. Thankfully, some of you don’t back players outside of the top four, or else you’d have to deal with the crude remarks when they lose.
_____________
jane: “Secondly, with regards to how much players take between serves, Danica raises a couple of good points on the other thread:

“1.) should they start the clock when the crowd is still cheering or wait until the players have / can settle down and focus, especially in nail-bitter matches or DC ones, with crazy crowds, would this perhaps matter.”

Considering you’ve stated many times, you like to be ‘fair-minded’; Question: would you be so lenient and ready with the excuses had you been backing another player, who adheres to the time rules, when and if he played v. Djokovic? I’m not sure you would. As far as you’re concerned they can take all the time they want if they are playing a perceived ‘nail biter’ so why scorch them, yes? If so, let’s just burn the rules and let every player do as he/she pleases, yes? I’m sorry, but I don’t get the rationalizations and justifications I see proffered on behalf of the faves.

I haven’t read Danica’s post, but as i mentioned, it was a test the commentators were doing. They started the clock when the players took the balls, and prepared to serve, and that’s how the points are supposed to be played, isn’t it? the points are not to be played after the players serve, but before, and to be technical, after the last ball is hit. the crowd has nothing to do with the players’ serving, because they should proceed with their game and be oblivious to the crowd. yes? no?
_______________
Sean Randall: “We, not the players, are turning this sport into a bunch of wimps.”

You’ve said it! Again, as previously said, we’re projecting/imposing our mindset and stamina/endure on them. Phew


skeezweezer Says:

Sean & Von,

Agreed! Nadal fans I hope you read their posts. And I am not a Rafa hater. Think he is great. History will tell if his knees and body hold up to have his place in History, which of course in part he already has. He is a great champ and represents the sport well. He’s only 22! Just trying to give credit where it is due. A win is a win. Nadal will mostly likely win another FO. Good for him! Let’s just get rid of the excuses and play on! Go Fed, Go Rafa, cause Joke and Murray are close behind!! :)


Von Says:

skeezweezer:

“Do you what the #1 and lets say #4 playing in the first round as a fan? No way! Case closed. I’m out”

sorry, I’d like to see No. 1 play no. 4 in a first round. I’m not a fan of the draws and seeding, I dislike it very much. My feelings on competition in sport, if you’re No. 1 then you should be able to beat all the other players, and still come out in the finals; same goes for the supposedly ‘big guys’. The way the draw/seedings work, the top four are enabled to reach the finals by playing against opponents who are not of the same caliber, thus preserving them for the QF, SF and finals. While the lower ranked players have to fight off players ranked higher and/or on par with them., and they have to work very hard. hence, if they are lucky to get to the QFs, SFs, or finals, they are decidedly at a disadvantage by playing too many tough matches.

Question: Do you enjoy the early round matches where the top guys pulverize the lower ranked players? I don’t. Those matches are boring! I’d like to see fairer and more equal competition at all rounds, and that would make tennis more interesting.

Anyway, that’s just my opinion, and don’t shoot the messenger, please.


Von Says:

Correction to my 10:21 pm post to jane:

“….the points are not to be played after the players serve, but before, and to be technical, after the last ball is hit.”

should be: the timing should not begin after the players serve but before, and to be technical, after the last ball is hit.

I should also add, if we really want to be technical, the 25 seconds actually begin after the last ball is hit, which means the towelling off, and serve preparation/ball bouncing, is all included in the 25 seconds.


Von Says:

Two Cents:

Please excuse the delay in replying to your post on the “Perfect Federer” thread, I just saw it. Thanks for seeing it my way. I also want to thank you for your very sweet post when I was on a sabbatical. It is greatly appreciated. (smiley here)


Voicemale1 Says:

It’s amazing how Federer & Nadal can evoke such passion among their KAD’s & Critics on blogs all over the world :)

Madrid, as far as a barometer of what could transpire at the French Open is to be taken with a big box of salt. The court was much faster than what anyone will be paying on in Paris. Federer won fair & square as Jane points out. He tried some new things on the court, some of which worked very well; others, not so much. And I have to laugh at his mind game nonsense. The fact he’s calling attention to it by purposely making Nadal wait, making Nadal serve first, etc., points out only one thing: Nadal’s obsessive-compulsiveness really does get under Federer’s skin. And Federer’s not very bright to make that public, because he’s basically openly accusing Nadal of stalling, and this will only empower Nadal even more against him, mentally speaking. It actually makes Federer look childish – as though he’s saying he’ll make Nadal stop his behavior by doing the same thing. I’m sure the Nadal camp had more than a few belly-laughs over those kind of comments from Federer. But hey, if you’re Federer, then why stop that short? The next time he plays Nadal and he feels Nadal is taking too long between serves – then publicly complain to the umpire, not quietly in secrecy during the changeover. I mean, if he’s gonna say stuff like this in the press, then by all means – speak up during the match so all of us can hear you. Federer should start openly demanding when he thinks Nadal should be warned, when he thinks he should be awarded a point, then a game. If this is what Federer’s been waiting to show us all season against Nadal on clay, I’d say he’s in deep trouble. It really wouldn’t shock me to find out these two really aren’t the bosom buddies they play when they’re on TV.

But let’s face facts: Federer didn’t play a great match, just a winning match. His error count was till too high, and Roddick not only took a set from him, but he also broke Federer’s very first service game in their Madrid QF. Federer’s whole clay season, in fact, has been his least successful of the last 4 years, having only made one Final instead of the two or three he has in years past. And his collapse against Djokovic in Rome was just plain ugly. If he has designs on winning the French, let’s hope he has more strategy than a revenge of keeping Nadal waiting.


Ojo caliente Says:

Roger-Rafa — “Djoko doesnt have to claim anything. He has all the physical fitness of a top tier athlete – on the WTA, i.e!”

Jack Black-Of all the fans that ridicule players by comparing them to the WTA, the Fed fans should be the last!
Need anymore kleenex Miss Federer?

Roger Rafa-Hard to beat the 3 drama queens from serbia, jankovic, ivanovic and djokovic

Roger Rafa, do you see Serbs in your soup? You have got to be a Croatian or Albanian since your hate is directed at Serbs. Nothing dramatic about Ana. Jealousy must be a b#tch, eh Bubba?


Von Says:

Voicemale1:

“If this is what Federer’s been waiting to show us all season against Nadal on clay, I’d say he’s in deep trouble. It really wouldn’t shock me to find out these two really aren’t the bosom buddies they play when they’re on TV.”

I’ve never thought for a moment that the two are bosom buddies. That’s the PR image that’s created for them, when indeed, they probably dislike each other intensely. I almost wish Roddick were more perceptive, because he’d not fool himself that he’s Federer’s friend; James Blake even more so. I wish they’d both go out there on court and hit each ball with vengeance, but they don’t. It’s a matter of personality, and if someone’s personality is not that of a gladiator, nothing can change that.

“The fact he’s calling attention to it by purposely making Nadal wait, making Nadal serve first, etc., points out only one thing: Nadal’s obsessive-compulsiveness really does get under Federer’s skin.”

I don’t think Fed should have made this publicly known, because again, as I’ve mentioned previously, he’s showing his hand to Nadal. Players pick up on their opponent’s behaviours and in the long run it has deleterious effects for them.

“But let’s face facts: Federer didn’t play a great match, just a winning match. His error count was till too high, and Roddick not only took a set from him, but he also broke Federer’s very first service game in their Madrid QF.”

I agree, the match in itself was not perfect as the headline suggested, but Federer did play better than he’s done previously, and it’s one that should give his fans hope, that he’s finally doing something to turn things around, and for this he should be commended.

That said, will that strategy work at RG, I don’t think so because the surface is altogether different from that poor excuse of a clay court in Madrid, which plays like a hard-court. Additionally, the altitude did help Federer’s serve, on which he now relies rather heavily, so it would be somewhat unsettling for him at RG, which is the creme de la creme of the clay courts. Anyway, only time wil tell ….


NachoF Says:

Im confused… what exactly did Roger say>?? where are yo you guys getting that he is resorting to playing mind games to win matches??


TejuZ Says:

it will depend on how the weather turns out in Paris during the FO. If its sunny, balls are going to bounce high and Fed will have trouble with Nadal for sure, but if it rains, or if the weather is cloudy … the clay would be bit damp and should suit Fed’s game more. For sure.. the court wouldnt exactly play the same if it rains compared to when its sunny.


jane Says:

Von says “As far as you’re concerned they can take all the time they want if they are playing a perceived ‘nail biter’ so why scorch them, yes? If so, let’s just burn the rules and let every player do as he/she pleases, yes?”

You’re exaggerating; I merely echoed what Voicemale1 said on the other thread, that perhaps the 25 second rule is outdated, that maybe that’s simply not enough time anymore for the players to prepare. Perhaps the rule needs to be re-visited since the game is played differently than in the past (I’ll defer to Voicemale1′s expertise here).

I have nowhere suggested the rule book be burned and players take as long as they want, but only that the rule, if it’s in violation routinely, and by numerous players, which seems to be the case, then maybe it’s time to reconsider it.

And like Danica said on the other thread, the length between points doesn’t bother me, not when watching Verdasco, or JMPD, or Rafa, or Murray or Djokovic, or whomever. When the tennis is great, frankly, sometimes I need more time between points to chill out.


Von Says:

If it’s sunny and warm, they might as well give the trophy to Nadal, before the finals, because he’ll be demolishing every one of his opponents, left, right and center.


Von Says:

jane says:

“You’re exaggerating; I merely echoed what Voicemale1 said on the other thread, that perhaps the 25 second rule is outdated, that maybe that’s simply not enough time anymore for the players to prepare. Perhaps the rule needs to be re-visited since the game is played differently than in the past (I’ll defer to Voicemale1’s expertise here).”

I’m exaggerating? I don’t think so. Take a look at the ’08 Wimby final and read your comments on that match with respect to the time between points. Are you saying an extra 13 seconds is OK, because a couple of times the clock showed 38 seconds, that’s an additional 50% of the time allowed. Also, why leave it to Voicemale1′s expertise, you emphatically agreed 100%, didn’t you? that tells me you have some expertise if you’re being so emphatic.

And like Danica said on the other thread, the length between points doesn’t bother me, not when watching Verdasco, or JMPD, or Rafa, or Murray or Djokovic, or whomever. When the tennis is great, frankly, sometimes I need more time between points to chill out.”

As I’ve mentioned previously, I didn’t read Danica’s post since I don’t know which thread she has posted on. I’m sorry, the time between points does bother me, because it drags out the match and that’s annoying. Why would you need extra time to chill out between points? I don’t understand this, are you the one playing? I’m sorry, I’m lost here.

“I have nowhere suggested the rule book be burned and players take as long as they want, but only that the rule, if it’s in violation routinely, and by numerous players,… ”

I never said you stated the rule books should be burnt, I was merely using that to say if people don’t agree with the rules or feel it should be changed, then the rule books should be burnt, discarded, made moot, passe’ whatever, because it’s obvious the rules are not being implemented and/or adhered to, as was the true intent and purpose of the spirit in which it was written. And, ‘numerous’ people are NOT violating, just a certain few. I’d like to hear what a player of Agassi’s caliber would have to say on the rules being stretched and/or amended.

You didn’t answer my question as to whether you would have championed the players’ cause if it were reversed, whereby your fave was adhering to the rules, and the other player was keeping him waiting.


jane Says:

Von, What I meant was that you’re exaggerating in implying we should burn the rule books and/or let players take “as long as they please”. This is not what I was suggesting at all.

However, rules can and do change in many situations in life and in sports in order to evolve with the changes therein. I don’t have a problem with that.

And yes, I did answer: I said I agreed with Danica. It doesn’t bother me to wait for the players to serve, *no matter who is playing* – Murray, Verdasco, Rafa, Djoko, JMDP or whomever. I never notice the “25 seconds” usually. ” I suspect that many players abuse that rule, some more frequently than others.

That I need to chill between points was a joke – sometimes I can’t watch when things are tense, so I sweep or some such. And couple extra seconds to do that wouldn’t hurt! : )

Anyhow I leave it to Voicemale1 because he knows WAY MORE than me about the technical aspects of the game; what I agreed with was that he stated the 25 second rule may be outdated. I still defer to him with regards to the changes in the game that may’ve lead to the rule possibly being defunct. (see his post below)

” Take a look at the ‘08 Wimby final and read your comments on that match with respect to the time between points.”

I will indeed try to find this because I don’t recall ever really being concerned about this issue. I know people have posted on it a lot and at various times since I’ve been here, but it’s never been something I’ve commented on too much. However, I was struck by a couple of other posts the other day.

Voicemale1 said:

“The clock became pretty much a joke. They showed it also yesterday in the Murray-Del Potro match, and who would have though that those tow would be running into the same 30-plus and 40-plus seconds between games just like these two today.

If anything, it’s the 25-second rule that’s outdated. The dynamics of the game today because of the racquet and string technology have made play far more demanding than it was in the days of Borg, McEnroe, Lendl – and even the Sampras-Agassi heyday too. The technology, strings, and slower hard courts have made the game more physical than ever. Either change it to 45 seconds, or keep the 25 and never ever enforce it. They work too hard to be nitpicked for something that stupid.”

And Danica said:

“I personally don’t mind longer periods between the points. I noticed they timed them during the Rafa-Nole match (they timed both of them). Time is not supposed to be going while the audience is still cheering after the point. But this is exactly what was happening and thus, 30+ secs time in between the points.

As I said, I am fine with 10 or 15 secs more (not much more than that). Why rush things? All the players have a routine. Some like to go back to business asap, some need more time to prepare. I wouldn;t like to see players getting frustrated over time limits and rushing to serve if that’s not in their nature.”

———————————————–

In my opinion, they both make points that seem reasonable, so since the issue was brought up again on this thread I decided to weigh in. I have now.

The option of a clock on the court has been bandied about; I suppose if it’s used regularly for the rest of the year, say, then we’d know how often the rule is broken and by how many players. And then if it is shown to be a pattern, say 50% of the time it’s violated, then the rule could be reconsidered.


jane Says:

Von I looked through two threads on the Wimbledon 08 final and found only one comment made by myself on the “25 second” rule, and I was responding to JCF. Anyhow what I posted corresponds with my current views, although in that case I referred to Umpires using their judgement and considering the context rather than changing the rules; here’s mine and JCF’s posts:

“JCF [said]: “Given the occasion, I think this is 100% understandable. If you were a breath away from making your way into history books, how long would it take you to compose yourself? [...] If it’s a changeover and the guy is too slow getting onto the court, or if it’s 15-all, 1-1 then by all means.”

[my response was] Well said! Rules must be enforced within the context and circumstances of any given match – good umpires will use their judgement accordingly. It’s the do-or-die- rule-enforcers that are the nincompoops! Hell, in that situation I’d’ve given Rafa a healthy 45 seconds!

Posted July 8th, 2008 at 7:51 pm”


Twocents Says:

Sean,

“This built-in pampering we do now for some players is out of hand.”

Kudos on this! Nowadays, “we” hear every cough and sneezes of the young rising stars and get worried, whereas the aging old gun is always fresh and making excuses :-)).

Instead of beaching Nadal fans and media, one has to give it to Team Nadal for its huge success in setting up Nadal the wounded Spartan who fought to death, thru out the years. And one could only fault Fed himself for saying all along that he “feels” fine, even though he may not.

Federer’s own words from one of his pressers(sorry, missing link, go google if you have doubts):

“Just because he sweats a lot and makes a lot of noise while playing, dosen’t mean he is suffering (physically) more than me…”

I had joked about Fed’s tears at AO final. It was embarrassing indeed. But it’s still much more the mark of a man than claiming “I’m not the best” when obviously you were. Nowadays, I just laugh off all Fed’s wins and losses, after he reached AO08 semi with mono (and did not over-manifest the factor) and after he won Olympic Double, two days after his singles defeat, two weeks after his two bad losses, five weeks after he lost his WO crown, and six months after mono.

I don’t care about all the pamperings. Glad to see, though, that you say what you see.


TejuZ Says:

well.. i dont mind if the rule is changed to increase the 25 second rule to 35 or 40 seconds, but it should be strictly followed and penalties must be handed out for rule violation. And regarding Nadal and Djoker wasting time between points to catch their breath.. well… they take as much time even between their 1st and 2nd serves.

I still believe, this habit of theirs must have started when they were still juniors in order to disrupt the opponents rhythm, testing their patience. Now its turned into an obsessive-compulsiveness(as Voicemale put it) which i guess they cannot(or do not want to) stop. No wonder it gets under the skin of most players( federer included)


Von Says:

jane: You’ll have to forgive me, I answered your post and I lost it. I can’t reconstruct it because I have a busy day tomorrow and I was trying to do so between my research, to finish my presentation, I am MAD. I’ll try another time, but not now. Sorry.


TejuZ Says:

Also most of you here have kept saying Djok will be main threat to Nadal, than Federer based on his 4 hr epic semi-finals.. well.. why dont you think the fast court in Madrid suits Djoker’s kinda of play, just like it suited Federer. Come Roland Garros, its a totally different surface and Djoker can be whipped by Nadal if they meet in the semis or the finals. Remember Hamburg last year? Djoker and Fed played a great semi-final and finals .. both taking Nadal to 3-sets.. but look what happened on FO afterwards… both got whipped by Nadal. So from this.. i dont believe Djoker is a bigger threat than Federer…. Nadal owns Djoker. Federer was atleast able to carve out a win which should do wonders for his confidence in case they meet again. Unlike last year at Montecarlo and Hamburg, Fed didnt give away his breaks and nor did he waste any break point oppurtunities. On the contrary and tight semifinal defeat even after playing his best tennis should demoralize Djoker.. he must be left wondering how the heck will he be able to beat Nadal in a 5-setter on clay.


Von Says:

Tejuz: Could you imagine how much time would be wasted if the rule was changed to 40 seconds between points? Say a player begins his service routine, and he takes 30 seconds, then has a let, then he uses another 30 seconds to serve, hits it into the net, then he uses another 30 seconds to hit a second serve, that’s 90 seconds, and if it’s changed to 35 or 40 seconds, it’s 120 seconds = 2 minutes, just to serve. With 4 points in each game, and 12 games per set, that’s 24 minutes lost only on serves. What about each rally which could sometimes be 24 shots = 3 minutes X 4 points per game = 12 minutes for rallies plus 2 minutes for serves, that’s 14 minutes per game; multiply that by 12 games per set = 168 minutes, hence a set would be minimum 2 hours and 30 minutes. Isn’t that ridiculous, and is it any wonder Djoko/Nadal were on the court for 4 hours last Saturday, due to the amount of time wasted on their serve preparation. I think it’s too much and Dan martin and Daniel agreed with me.

I don’t think Voicemale1 said it was obsessive/compulsiveness. He said the rule was stupid and the players should not be nit-picked because they played a nail-biter of a match. In fact, he didn’t see anything wrong with the amount of time they used.


TejuZ Says:

Von:
I agree with you, that rules should be adhered to. If there were any long rallies, players can be forgiven for catching their breath before the next point in played.. But not on every point or every serve. Because the opponent is ready for the return, bending his back anticipating the serve… keeps waiting and waiting before he runs out of patience. Thats really un-sportsmanlike from the server .. in this case Djoker and Nadal.


steve Says:

Djokovic’s match was in many ways a shining demonstration of how NOT to play Nadal. He tried to beat Nadal at his own game and pound away and extend the rallies without any plan to end them, and as a result–surprise surprise!–Nadal outlasted him.

If Federer had tried Djokovic’s tactics in the final, he’d have lost, and much more quickly, because he doesn’t have the power of Djokovic. Instead he served smartly, played more aggressively and came to net whenever he could. And when he did get into rallies, he sought to end them quickly, actively going for his shots (especially on the forehand) instead of passively putting the ball back into play and waiting for an opportunity. And as a result, he won quite quickly and handily instead of exhausting himself trying to outrun Nadal for four hours.

If Djokovic takes away anything from this match, I hope he realizes that you can’t out-Nadal Nadal on clay. As he said, he pushed himself beyond his limits and still came up short–an indication that he should start drawing up a different game plan.

Nadal will always try to draw his opponent into playing the match on his terms–lengthy rallies of attrition–and the only way to beat him is to not play the game on those terms.

Regarding the FO: as always, Federer and Nadal are the favorites to make it to the final, and Nadal is the heavy favorite to win, although Federer has a slightly bigger chance to win than he had before.

I am in agreement with the others here that this win is most significant in terms of Federer’s confidence at Wimbledon. It snaps his losing streak vs. Nadal, and the fact that it was on Nadal’s preferred surface in his home country was just a bonus. Psychologically it’s huge, and it’s an indication that he’s broken through the mental block that was keeping him from executing his game plan in his recent matches against the top players.


besttitw Says:

Just my two-cent on the “25 seconds”. I play a very lousy game so I don’t have an opinion as to whether it should be increased to suit today’s game. But in light of fairness, a rule is a rule, you should stick to it. If a player has an issue with it, he can work on changing it. If they get it passed (I don’t have any idea what’s the process to change such a rule), fine. But before that, continuously violating the rule at a player’s own will is NOT fair to the rule-followers, period. You can say, it’s just 10 extra seconds, no biggie. I beg to differ, we all know even one tiny thing could change the result of a top game given how close things could be. And why there are more “time-delayers”? I suspect some players see the precedence set by such rule-breakers and decided to convert, why not? It’s always better to play in your own rhythm. That’s the danger of setting up a rule but doesn’t impose it strictly. Cutting corners, even in a very small way, repeatedly, which implicitly means taking advantage of your opponent, is not an honorable thing to do, IMHO. Tennis is said to be a gentleman’s game, and that shouldn’t be a gentleman’s behavior.

I admit I am an idealist and probably take rules too seriously. That’s why I would never been a fan of Nadal or Noel even though I have tremendous respect for their talents and truly enjoy their play. It’s not ALL about wins, it’s also about characters.


Twocents Says:

Von,

You’re welcome. Please never feel sorry not to reply me — I’m the guilty one here, too old to keep up:-)). I didn’t expect Sean put up his two posts in a row so quickly, amid the disdained looks from flight attendants who must think that I’m a workaholic (maybe I am, who knows).

I just want to assure you to have fun, if only for Roddick’s solid 2009 so far. We come to internet forums to be ourselves, not for acting. T-x with Sean here is not that bad,imho, after all.


SG Says:

Fed beat Nadal at Monte Carlo last year…and the ultimate FO result was a white wash by Nadal. I wouldn’t say that Fed’s win means nothing, but it doesn’t mean much. It’s a boost to Fed’s confidence after losing 5 in a row to Nadal.


Daniel Says:

Totally agree with sticking to the rules!

What makes possible for the grinders like Nadal to play 5 straight rallies of 25-30 shots in a single game is beacuse they need to take time to rest. If he had to play within the rules he would eventually miss or need to end points quicker otherwise he wouldn’t have enough time to catch his breath. He wouldn’t be allowed to play the way he did if he had to play faster, simple as that. That´s why his percentage of holding serve is high, because when he serves he can dictate play, but not when he is returning, unless it´s Djoko on the other side, that played exactly the way Nadal wanted. As steve pointed out, how to NOT play Nadal!


jane Says:

Von, sorry you lost your post; that’s frustrating. I hope your presentation goes well.


jane Says:

Re: the 25 second rule – I agree that rules are not there to be utterly ignored, and if it is indeed only Rafa/Djoko who are abusing this rule, then I guess they should be penalized. But if other players are also running over, as Voicemale1 said was the case in the JMDP/Murray match, and others have mentioned Verdasco in the past, then maybe the ATP needs to do some “testing” out of the rule over a designated time period and throughout a number of matches, on different surfaces. And then, if needs to be changed after review they could do so.

I think the style of game now – largely baseline – means points are longer than in the past and players may (?) work harder so it’s possible the rule should be changed.

Testing and/or more experiments like at Madrid need to be undergone to check if this is the case.

Several of you have raised the point of returners having to wait for the server, and I can see how that could be bothersome. On the other hand, players who play really quickly can also force the returner to rush. That is maybe just an aspect of the game, since it is played based on the server’s rhythm.

But of course there need to be some kind of perimeters. I don’t disagree with anyone about this – only that maybe those perimeters could be tested to see how well they are or can be adhered to on all surfaces by the majority.


jane Says:

I agree with steve, in that I am not sure that Djokovic is more a favorite against Nadal than Federer were he to meet him at the French. The Madrid results would imply otherwise. Although, as some have said, perhaps both Fed and Djoko did well in Madrid because it played more similarly to hard courts. Trying to out-Nadal Nadal, if indeed that is what Djoko was doing, is NOT a good idea, as steve mentioned. I think Djoko has shown he can get close, and hang with Nadal, but he needs to follow Fed’s lead in trying to finish the points more quickly. That’s often easier said that done! Some of Djoko’s tactics, i.e., going up the line, Fed adopted in his match. So maybe it’s a combination of both of their styles. No matter who plays Rafa, they have to serve incredibly well.

In any case, I still believe Nadal is the favorite to win his fifth French Open title.


NachoF Says:

Skorocel Says:

NachoF: “there is no denying that Nadal is overall the best clay court player out there, but the point is that he is NOT that far from the rest”

“Another gem :) Boys, you’re hilarious!”

I take it you do think that he is VERY FAR from the rest… thats interesting considering Djokovic almost beat him and Federer did… last weekend…. but you are entitled to your (hilarious) opinion


TejuZ Says:

SG Says:
“Fed beat Nadal at Monte Carlo last year…and the ultimate FO result was a white wash by Nadal.”

For your info, Fed has never beaten Nadal at Monte Carlo, he was leading by a break or two in both the sets but ended up losing 7-5, 7-5.

Infact, everytime he lost to Nadal in Monte-Carlo final, its turned out exactly the same in that year French Open final… for last 3 years. This year he never played Nadal there, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out at FO.


Voicemale1 Says:

SG:

Federer did not beat Nadal in Monte Carlo last year. In that Final Federer lost the first set 7-5 after being up a break at 4-2. In the second set Federer led 4-0 before Nadal came back to win the set & the match at 7-5.


NachoF Says:

You guys are assuming many things about the future….Federer and Nadal arent planning on how they are gonna play each other at the FO final… we are a log way from that, they first have to fight to get to the final… all this talk about mind games, new strategies, show of hands, conspiracy theories,etc etc are a bunch of bull…. each of them wants to take it one step a time and not think about each other until/if they have to face each other again.


jane Says:

Daniel,

Re Nadal you said: “If he had to play within the rules he would eventually miss or need to end points quicker otherwise he wouldn’t have enough time to catch his breath. He wouldn’t be allowed to play the way he did if he had to play faster, simple as that.”

I can see where you’re coming from. But to me, since I like Nadal’s style of play, this would be a shame, as I would hate to see points end or him lose simply because of the 25 second rule.

I also enjoy Murray’s, Tsonga’s, Djoko’s and many other player’s styles. But they’re all a bit different and I like that they have different styles and play to different rhythms. Some play really quickly and the returner has to adjust, some take longer to prepare.

I would rather see someone like Murray, Djoko or Federer or whomever, come up with a game plan to solve the Nadal puzzle, how he steamrolls over his opponents on clay, than see Nadal lose on a technicality. But that’s really down to a personal preference/opinion.


jane Says:

In fact, maybe what the ATP should do is conduct an experiment timing how long it takes for the players to prepare for their serves, and then come up with an “average” as the rule. They could do this at MS events and slams so they’d have a deep field, including the top players, wild cards, journeymen, qualifiers and so forth. If they find an “average” that way the rule wouldn’t favor the speedy guys or the slower guys but would be a compromise.

I don’t know the history of the rule, i.e., when it was instituted, how they decided 25 seconds was the right limit or whatever, but it would be fascinating to know that stuff as it might clarify my own perspective on things.


vared Says:

On the contrary and tight semifinal defeat even after playing his best tennis should demoralize Djoker..

No tejuz, Nadal was not demoralized year after year at Wimby. He just adjusted and finally won.


vared Says:

Venus takes a long time between points too and one time JJ’s coach was timing her, I forgot where. We should talk about the women also.


jane Says:

Actually vared you make a good point here “Nadal was not demoralized year after year at Wimby. He just adjusted and finally won.” And hopefully that’s the way in which Djokovic will go forward rather than being demoralized. Just keep adjusting and improving. And work on his game on all surfaces, not only clay, as that may be a way to narrow the gap in the H2H. He is still 4-5 against Nadal on other surfaces so that’s not too bad. It’s just the clay thang.

Also you make a relevant point about the women and time between serves. Since I’ve not been watching too many WTA matches lately, I hadn’t even thought of it. But what’s good or not good for the goose is likewise for the gander.


Roger-Rafa Says:

” No tejuz, Nadal was not demoralized year after year at Wimby. He just adjusted and finally won. ”

That is a very good point as endorsed by fellow Djokovic fans, but it neglects a very important point ” Djokovic is NO Nadal”. He is still only at a stage where he can dream of what Nadal has achieved. After all is said and done, Nadal will be, along with Federer, Borg, Laver and Sampras – the top 5 ever to pick a racquet. Based on the evidence thus far, Djokovic will be lucky if he can win 6 slams.

Please use something called a mind. Else your points will be as compelling as Novak’s mum’s, who thinks Novak will join that elite group. Definitely good sentiments, but not happening people! Their premature celebrations at the King being dead are being thrown repeatedly on their face everytime Roger rises like a Phoenix from the ashes.


jane Says:

Roger-Rafa,

You’re right in that I too do not think Djokovic is a Nadal and I tend to agree with you that he or any player would be extremely lucky to win 6 slams!

That said, there is no reason Djoko can’t follow Nadal’s lead and try to improve. That doesn’t necessarily mean he will have Nadal’s success but it’s better than giving up and being demoralized right?

Look at Federer as an example: he was demoralized after his last five losses to Nadal, not to mention his other rivals, but now he has shown a more positive light in this last match and the results followed.

Again, I am not saying there are guarantees for any player that the results will follow; but it’s better than giving up.

Roddick is a classic example in how he constantly seeks to improve his game and solve his bad match up with Federer, and even if he is not able to do that, he has stayed in the top ten longer than other currents players besides Federer – that’s something!

Not every player can, nor should have to, be a Roger or a Rafa, but that doesn’t mean other players aren’t also able to win or aren’t enjoyable to watch for some of us. You needn’t knock em.


Roger-Rafa Says:

Regarding the time-rule, everyone except Nadal and Djokovic Fans are fine with the rule. 25 seconds is ample time. Infact, I would say cut it down to 20. We dont want 4hr semi-finals where the effective time actually was 3hrs, just for records sakes.

Look at Roger and Rafa’s classic Rome final. 5sets in 5hrs. Nadal and Djokovic obviously abuse the rule – If you have played a professional match, you will know that 25 seconds is a lot of time. We definitely dont want players rushing maniacally like Agassi, who I am sure took no more than 15seconds on an average, but 25 seconds is VERY reasonable. That is one good thing Rafa can learn from Roger – to stick to the rules and not try to get the rules bent to suit his game. You can take a poll of the ATP players and I am sure 70+ out of 100 will be fine with 25 seconds (maybe even more if you tell them nadal and djokovic might be more rushed because of this rule)

If the ATP doesnt step in and act, we will have 6-1, 6-0 matches dragging 2hrs for no reason. The top players can say anything they want, but they should not be allowed to get away with abusing the rules. Sure, change the rules if they are not fair, but when something is in place, it is the same for everyone. It is very unfair to people who actually follow the rule.

An analogous situation to this is the Immigration situation in Uncle Sam. The powerful hispanic lobbies want to legalize all illegal aliens from down-under (not australia, my dear friends) but what about the millions of skilled workers who actually work thier behind off and follow each and every arbitrary rule that the US govt. sets? How fair is it to them to not legalize them and legalize people who effectively came into this great country ILLEGALLY? I guess we should take a poll and see if there are more illegal immigrants and if yes, give them all US citizenship?


Roger-Rafa Says:

Jane :

I am not knocking them. Just stating the facts. Nadal had 4GS, was no.2 for about 100weeks before the said thing happened.

How can you justify Djokovic will pull the same thing off, before he builds enough resume? Am I dreaming or has he never been no.2 in the world? Anyway, there are things we say with our heart and things we say with our mind. The things we say with our mind (and a little bit of heart) come true more often than the things we say with our heart (and little bit of mind). If you are honest to yourself, you know which one your view falls under and where mine comes from (you might even say I have no heart for poor Djokovic!). Hope you get the point.

Right now in tennis – There are 2 alpha males (1 older than the other) and a bunch of wannabes! We will have to wait and see before we anoint them and place the wannabes on the same pedestal as the alpha males.


vared Says:

I think the Ricardo Sanchez incident was at Stuttgart? He was using his stop watch to time Venus as she was taking so long in between points.


jane Says:

Roger-Rafa, I am by no means suggesting that Djoko would simply be able to adapt Rafa’s constant improvement and tweaking tactics and achieve his success. I am using my mind – read my previous post, which is quite rational: I give examples, I agree that Novak is not a Nadal, and so forth. I am merely suggesting, it would make more sense for him – or ANY player – to *try* and improve than to simply become demoralized and throw in the towel.

I not trying to place Djoko on the, as you put it, “alpha males’ pedestal”, I am merely suggesting that he keep on fighting and improving. I’d be happy, thrilled, in fact, if he could win another couple of slams. Same with Murray – he has loads of potential and I hope he can fill it.


MMT Says:

Jane said: “I don’t know the history of the rule, i.e., when it was instituted, how they decided 25 seconds was the right limit or whatever, but it would be fascinating to know that stuff as it might clarify my own perspective on things.”

As always, great question Jane. Actually the rule on time between points was that the server was required to maintain “continuous play”, at the discretion of the umpire – in other words if you’ve had a long point and it’s damn hot out, the umpire might cut you some slack, but otherwise, get the next 2 balls in your hands and get your arse to the line to serve. The returner has always and continues to be required to play to the SERVER’S pace.

According to Steve Flink of the TennisChannel.com the rule was initially instituded in 1979 by the ITF who sanctioned Davis Cup and the grand slams. Now, I’ve seen old matches from the 70′s with Jimmy Connors, and while I have no record of the decison making, I think some of the impetus for such a changes was created by him.

In 1975 Connors played the Australian Open final against John Newcombe at the old Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Melbourne. There’s clips of it on youtube, and you can clearly see that blistering heat combined, with humidity from the grass courts, and the insects (yes the insects who congregate around grass) made for a brutal environment to play tennis.

Newcombe, like all Australians who played Davis Cup for Harry Hopman, were already renowned for the overall physical fitness and were more accustomed to the conditions, so even after the event opened to the professionals 1969, they tended to do better in part as a result of this acclimitization.

Connors, on the other hand, was struggling mightily. He took every opportunity he could to make jokes, talk with the crowd and play the joker, meanwhile taking 30+ seconds in between points to the annoyance of Newcombe and the Australian commentators.

6 months later, Connors was again in a GS final against Arthur Ashe, this time at Wimbledon, and Ashe, raised in the old school that required “continuous” play (wholly at the discretion of the umpire) regularly stood with a hand on his hip as Connors went through his very long and annoying routine before serving.

2 years later at the Pepsi Grand Slam of tennis, Connors was playing Borg in the final for the first time, and Borg twice (unwittingly…perhaps) served while Connors had his back to him, as he adjusted his strings and caught his breath, again to the annoyance of Borg and in clear violation of the “at the server’s pace” rule.

I don’t say that Connors was the only one to take his time, just the most prominent. Since he was the biggest draw in the game, if fans grew tired of watching him pensively arranging his strings, or tie his shoes, or joke with a linesperson, or read the paper, etc., many may have grown tired of watching tennis altogether. And of course, as television came into the equation, it became exceedingly important for matches to move along at a more compelling rate.

By 1979, the ITF had had enough, and instituted a 30-second rule. So what happened? Ivan Lendl came a long and timed his service routine to perfection such that he would ALWAYS take 30 seconds in between points and never go over – whether he’d had a long point or not. So what was intended to shorten time between points eventually wound up making the matches last LONGER because the rule actually GAVE players more time than the “continuous play” rule did.

The time was reduced to 25 seconds sometime thereafter and reduced a further 5 seconds in 1995 to 20 seconds for ITF sanctioned matches (which includes grand slams and Davis Cup, and remains in place today). ATP matches adopted the 25-second rule in 1979 and have kept it ever since.

So if you want to blame anyone in particular about the time-wasting, blame Connors…because he started it. You can thank Lendl for getting the rule reduced from 30 seconds to 20 in a span of 16 years from 1979 to 1995.


jane Says:

Roger-Rafa,

“If the ATP doesnt step in and act, we will have 6-1, 6-0 matches dragging 2hrs for no reason. … Sure, change the rules if they are not fair, but when something is in place, it is the same for everyone….”

I agree with you on a couple of counts here: 1) the ATP should step in and act, and as I mentioned above, I think the best way to do this at present would be to test out the rule on several players for a period of time. See if it’s workable still. 2) if they decide to enforce it, and stick to 25 second rule after all, then *all players* should be timed on *all points* on a regular basis. As it is now, they only time certain people and only some of the time.

The best way to do this might be a clock on the court as had been suggested previously on these boards – I think by Sean Randall actually. That way, the players, the fans, the officials, everyone would see the clock and know the time. If a player is violating, he could be given a discreet warning, perhaps on change-over, and if it continues, perhaps a point deduction or something thereafter.

Right now this rule is “wooly” to say the least – it’s often up to the umpires’ discretion, and perhaps the umps don’t all enforce it in the same way or consistently and maybe they even have faves – as I think Von has mentioned previously. Or maybe the top players are cut more slack. Therefore, to get around this a clock might work?? It would go on after the point has been played.

The drawback to this machine-like approach, I suppose, and if I recall, this has also been pointed out before, is that some points are straightforward and over immediately – aces, serve and volley, return winner down-the-line, or whatever – whereas other points go on over 20 strokes! Often these rallies are very exciting to watch imo. And of course clay lends itself to the longer points more than, say, a hard court. These exciting exchanges happen in Roger-Rafa matches too, not only those with other players.

I’ve only ever played park or community center tennis casually, for fun, so admittedly I have never timed myself or others. And I don’t know the history of the rule. But it does lead to some interesting discussion.


jane Says:

WOW -MMT – We are so lucky you post here! You, as always, are to go-to-guy for history and reason. I thank you for the background on the rule.

Fascinating about Lendl, who was a rather clinical man and player: and ironic that his intention to follow the rule in a machine-like manner lead to the rule being reduced. LOL.

I guess the human/umpire discretion factor can actually keep things ticking along. And in fact, match times and times between points might just vary from match-to-match and player-to-player.

I do think using context is important; I mean if a player is serving in a fifth set final, it’d be a shame to see him lose a crucial point due to 5 extra seconds.

Very interesting. Only now I am even more confused as to what the solution should be. On the one hand, the clock timing could be a way to keep tabs on everyone all the time, but on the other hand, an umpires discretion allows for leeway when the situation – heat, long rally, poor conditions or whatever – calls for it.

It’s a conundrum.


MMT Says:

Thank you Jane:

American Football has a timer, and there a team of 11 men has to be assigned, organized and standing still before play can begin – that’s in the midst of continual noise from the crowd. Basketball has a shot clock, and that’s during open play. And in those sports the rules don’t have any regard for how important the next play is. How do they deal with it?

They just get on with it.

I suspect tennis players would too if you just put a clock on the court. And 20 seconds is plenty of time between points, no matter how tired you are.

To be fair, one could argue that a player who’s optimal style of play is to play long taxing points, gains an advantage from going over the 30 second allotment…or any allotment for that matter. Without it, they’d be forced to find ways to shorten subsequent points, or shorten all points, lest they wind up completely out of breath/gas every other point. I don’t think it serves any purpose to take an average, because no matter what it is, unless the rules are enforced, players will take their time (and then some) if you give it to them (or don’t take it away).

As great a player as Nadal and Djokovic are, I see no reason why they wouldn’t be able to adjust their games to 20 second clock on the court. It might throw them off for a week, but soon enough their true talent and ability would see them winning the same number of matches anyway. All this does is make it very annoying for their opponents, and very difficult to committ to watching an entire tennis match live, without the benefit of a DVR that lets you skip 10 seconds ahead! :-)


MMT Says:

Just noticed the Noah photo to which I refer above doesn’t come through that link, so here’s another one.

http://www.pollsb.com/photos/o/13601-yannick_noah_sporting_locoste.jpg


jane Says:

MMT,

I take it that you think a clock would change the way the game is played. It would cut down on the long rallies. After all, you said: “Without it, they’d be forced to find ways to shorten subsequent points, or shorten all points, lest they wind up completely out of breath/gas every other point.”

I see your point, but I admit I do like the long rallies and find those to be exciting as they kind of build to a climax and the crowd is ooing and ahhing throughout the points. I suppose it’s also somewhat the nature of the prominent baseline style of game now.

That said, I think it’d be an advantage for Djokovic especially, given his tendency to tire, to work on trying to shorten points, or at least subsequent points, so if the clock would force him to do that it might actually benefit him in the long run, as you imply. Rafa, on the other hand, does seem to presently benefit from the long and taxing rallies, as he often outlasts his opponents, and I guess that’s why some posters take issue with his style since it’s not always about hitting a winner, though he does hit many of these too. But as you say, he would have to adjust with a clock there.

And the history you pointed out seems to suggest that Lendl didn’t need the 30 seconds but worked it out so he took them.

How, then, with a clock, would umpires account for nasty conditions or what-have-you? I guess that’s something that could be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. For example, with the windy conditions of the final at IW, at times the players literally couldn’t serve into the gusts. I saw Murray stop a couple of times.


MMT Says:

“How, then, with a clock, would umpires account for nasty conditions or what-have-you?”

It may seem draconian (and please don’t take this the wrong way, because I recognize it’s an honest question you’ve asked, so I’m going to give an honest answer) but basically they’d have to toss the ball and get on with it.

If it’s windy and they want more time to wait until it dies down, then they can cut out extraneous elements of their routine and get on with it. They don’t need a towel, they can get 2 balls instead of 6, they don’t need to adjust their socks and hair, they don’t need to adjust their pants, they can bounce the ball 3 times instead of 20.

And if all else fails they can adjust their toss to account for wind – Kevin Curren used serve almost out of his hand. Pitchers in baseball adjust their delivery all the time based on the pitch they’re throwing, so why can’t tennis players do it? One toss for perfect conditions, and one toss for when it’s windy or the sun is in their eyes.

And if in the opinion of the umpire it’s too windy to play they can have a wind delay (that happened once at the women’s final of the Lipton International – what is now the Sony Ericsson Open – in 1986).

Basically, they don’t need to do all these extraneous things – they do them because they’ve developed the habit and nobody’s done anything about it. But I imagine that if we went back to the continuous play rule they’d all be just fine too.

They would all adjust.


jane Says:

MMT,

My grandma used to say, “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” and somehow that saying strikes me as appropriate when it comes to the humour in your post, whether the philosophy behind it is “draconian” or not:

“They don’t need a towel, they can get 2 balls instead of 6, they don’t need to adjust their socks and hair, they don’t need to adjust their pants, they can bounce the ball 3 times instead of 20.”

And it’s true – when forced, I guess anyone, or almost anyone, can fall into line. So in your view, do away with umpire’s discretion, and go simply by a clock for all to see, come what may. Survival of the fittest and/or adaptation to the environment: you do Darwin proud!

I am still humming and hawing, thinking about a social welfare system. ha ha.

Thanks, as always, for your input.


SG Says:

Yes, sorry, my mistake. I was thinking of Hamburg.


ojo caliente Says:

Jane, Roger-Rafa dislikes an entire ethnic group. Why, I don’t know. Maybe he can tell us.

“Hard to beat the 3 drama queens from serbia, jankovic, ivanovic and djokovic”


Von Says:

MMT:

Thanks for the new link. I was going to post today to let you know that I couldn’t see anything, because IE showed a message that the link was inaccessible.

I’m glad you’re on the side of fair play. I got into trouble by mentioning the commentators’ experiment with the clock during the DelPotro/Murray and Djokovic/Nadal matches, and by now I guess the Nadal, Djokovic, DelPotro and Verdasco fans, are literally stoning (I wonder how large are the stones, or are they rocks, ha ha)and cursing at me with some well chosen words for mentioning that situation; anyway, c’est la vie! LOL.

I think both Nadal and Djokovic are happy with each other when they play in the same match, with respect to the 38-40 seconds they use up between points because it enables both of them to supposedly “catch their breath” after engaging in the long, grinding points, as some have argued. Hence, there won’t be any complaints emanating from either guy.

Question: It has been the consensus of opinion of most posters, and it’s a fact relished by most of the Nadal fans, that he’s supremely fit as opposed to the other ‘ponies’ and/or ‘donkeys’ in the sport. Then how is it that this Samson/Hercules of a player needs to catch his breath after engaging in long rallies? I can understand Djokovic being winded, because his fitness is questionable, hence the stalling tactics, but how so with Nadal? That’s a puzzlement to me. Also, would it be fair to assume, that since Nadal is so fit, unlike Djokovic, that one can deduce it’s not a matter of him needing to catch his breath, but one who’s definitely engaging in gamesmanship tactics to dictate the tempo of the match and play it on his terms?

Nadal’s fans are continuously extolling his many virtues, but sweep his vices under the rug, and they very craftily take a ‘mum is the word’ approach when his perceived vices from the non-Nadal fans are mentioned. Furthermore, if this guy is as humble as some of his fans claim, how is it he’s so controlling whereby he wants everything to be in line with his wishes or else we hear about it repeatedly, as was the case in DC, Spain v. USA, where Munoz lost his job due to the incessant complaints, also, the recent Madrid tournament. From my experience and knowledge of human development, ‘humility’ and ‘control’ are like East and West where the two don’t mix. Hence, in view of the foregoing, I’d say Nadal is anything but humble, and a lot of what we hear from him when questioned on some topics, is only lip service and leading the fools a little further. Federer laps up every one of Nadal’s words and is completely bowled over by the accolades. What are your thoughts.

I’ve noticed since Nadal came into preeminence on clay and seized the No. 2 ranking, he has made a lot of waves and demands, whereby everything he dislikes must be amended and/or totally removed, or else there will be repercussions. What’s even more enlightening is now that he’s No. 1, he’s showing a completely different side of his personality with respect to his out-spokenness. I’d like to see how far all of this will go and the outcome of his demands. Will ATP comply or or hold their ground. If ATP makes thes changes, how will it affect the other players, and can they reverse them without further repercussions. It seems that they will be between a rock and a hard place.

The ATP has now become the pawn in the chess game Nadal is playing. Nadal is ensuring that he gets his way one way or the other. For me, as someone who has studied human development I am stumped, and my only conclusion, is that Nadal is one of these passive-aggressive types, who’s controlling and quietly rebellious, deviating at times by being out-spoken, but as a whole, he wants to change everything like yesterday to be tailor-made to his whims and fancies. Again, I do not see his behaviour as one of a humble person.
_________________
jane: “And it’s true – when forced, I guess anyone, or almost anyone, can fall into line. So in your view, do away with umpire’s discretion, and go simply by a clock for all to see, come what may. Survival of the fittest and/or adaptation to the environment: you do Darwin proud! ”

The human mind is extremely pliable, and people can change if they want to, unless they are organicaly mentally imbalanced. Anything, aside from that is a matter of will and the person’s personality to abide by the rules. Nadal, Djokovic, JMDP and Verdasco, the chief offenders, and any others, who refuse to stop indulging in their idiosyncrasies are doing so because there aren’t any severe consequences attached to their actions. Let’s see if ATP issues any edicts, vis-a-vis, on a scale of 1-10, where point deductions are No. 1 and money further down the scale, I’m sure we’d see some drastic changes by Nadal and the others, because money they have and plenty of it, but a point deduction could sway a match and could ultimately cause them to lose the tournament/title. I suppose these guys never heard of when in Rome do as the Romans do? In essence, they are tennis players, they came into the sport with complete knowledge of its rules, but they display the attitude that the rules are for the ‘plebes’, because they are the ‘Patricians’ and they are doing the sport a huge favor whereby it should only be too glad to have them.

“We should be woo’d and were not made to woo.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Von Says:

jane: Sorry, but I won’t try to reconstruct my post because in essence some of it was addressed in my post to Tejuz on tallying the minutes used up on serves. If you read that post you’ll get a fair idea of what I said in my post to you.


Von Says:

Two Cents:

“Von, you’re welcome. Please never feel sorry not to reply me — I’m the guilty one here, too old to keep up:-)). I didn’t expect Sean put up his two posts in a row so quickly, amid the disdained looks from flight attendants who must think that I’m a workaholic (maybe I am, who knows).”

I suppose the young lady thought you write long speeches ore are some kind of a playwright. If she was just glancing at the different names on the thread, it would appear as a play of some sort.LOL

“I just want to assure you to have fun, if only for Roddick’s solid 2009 so far. We come to internet forums to be ourselves, not for acting. T-x with Sean here is not that bad,imho, after all.”

thanks for the positive reinforcement. I try to have fun and it’s one of the reasons I post, because the humour is very good. I like being myself, because it frees me to see the negative and positive sides of the players, which I can discuss here with different people. However, I don’t understand how someone could think I’m a hypocrite if I write something positive and/or complimentary. I can see how negativity causes anger, since it’s not what some like to hear, but it’s somewhat baffling to me as to how positive can be interpreted as being hypocritical.

BTW, I liked your skit — very humorous, LOL, and keep them coming. Perhaps you could take the characters on these threads and write a play. I don’t want to know what character I’ll play. Ha, ha.


jane Says:

Von, no worries; I’ve enjoyed this conversation, reading all of the various input from different points of view, and I did read your earlier post to Tejuz as well. You probably read the “rule history” MMT kindly provided, which really puts things into perspective. Anyhow, I hope the serve preparation rule is resolved, considered, vetted and enforced, one way or another.


Daniel Says:

MMT, you echo my thoughts on time violations preciselly, plus the history bonus, thanks!

Another thing, when Fed won Madrid, the first person I thought was you and those posts where you mention turning points in rivalrys that once were loopsided (I wish I could find those treads to read them again).
Thank god Fed didn’t find himself in the Borg situation where he thought the only answer was retirement!


TejuZ Says:

Vared Says:
“No Tejuz, Nadal was not demoralized year after year at Wimby. He just adjusted and finally won.”

The situation is not the same and Nadal had an overall winning record over Federer .. and when he met Fed in the wimby Finals, leding up to it he always had a run of 2 or 3 consecutive victories over him on clay. Last year, he had a demoralizing victory over Fed in FO, which will give you nothing but confidence ahead of Wimbledon. Credit to Fed, that he came back from 2 sets down and made a match out of it.

Whereas Djokovic has been constantly losing to Nadal and both of them are around the same age. Madrid semi-final classic can be easily dismissed just like how most of you are dismissing Rogers wins against Nadal at Hamburg and Madrid. The court suited Djoker more than Nadal, hence the tight finish. How many sets has he taken off Nadal in their previous 3 Roland Garros meeting? I agree, he surely is the next best bet after Federer to derail Nadal at RG.. but he is not above Fed in this regard.


TejuZ Says:

Agree with MMT and Von on sticking to the time rule. If top players keep abusing the rules, wonder what example it sets for young up-coming teenage players.


Kimmi Says:

I least things are looking a little interesting going into the French Open, even though Nadal still is holding a big edge. Tennis fans cannot ask for more. Nadal defeat has added the spark into this tournament which was badly needed. Before Madrid, it was looking like a one horse race but now you can see the doubts are creeping into the heads of Nadal fans.

Like what others have said here, I also think the new tactics Federer employed in Madrid would be more beneficial at Wimbledon and other fast courts tournaments – if he gets to play Nadal. FO is still a tall order but it will give both Djokovic and Federer the boost going in with the mindset that anything can happen. And confidence can do wonders.

I have a question to anyone who can help. Up to what ranking does players get direct acceptance to the main draw of a GS? I know the draw is 128 players but people like Fabio Fognini who is currently ranked 62 has to qualify. Why is that? I would think his ranking is high enough to get a direct acceptance. Confusing!

Btw MMT, the history on time violation is interesting.


Kimmi Says:

“Murray loses his FO warm-up match”.

Oh No! This does not look good for Murray. I hope it does not put doubts in his mind going in on Monday. He lost 3rd round last year, at least he should concentrate on getting further than round 3. Still a lot to learn on clay.


vared Says:

“Roland Garros will be difficult but we will see what will happen,” said Nadal’s coach and uncle, Toni Nadal.

“There is no extra pressure, it is always the same. But it is clear that the uncertainty increases with the win in Madrid by Federer, who had a good match.”

Aside from Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray could beat Nadal, he added.

“We are aware that this could happen,” he said.

——————————————–
Psychout. uncle toni trying to lull them into a false security.


vared Says:

Isner is out and so is Ancic. Not looking good for Monfils and Davydenko.


jane Says:

Tejuz,

Could you please be nice and qualify this statement with “on clay”? “Whereas Djokovic has been constantly losing to Nadal and both of them are around the same age. ”

I need like a little hope here! : ) I am perhaps grasping at straws but the non-clay H2H is still only 5-4 to Nadal so… maybe there’s a little hope for Djoko if he can maintain this parity on other surfaces.


Wade Says:

WTF Von Nadal has already qualified for London its not even half way through the season far out. RAFA 2009 FRENCH OPEN CHAMP!!!!!!!!!!!!


NachoF Says:

Von,
I thought he had booked his place at the London Round Robin when he won Australia… at least thats how it was at Shanghai, it was supposed to have the 4 GS winners and the rest of the 8 players would be filled by the race ranking position…. most times the best GS winners are among the best 8 so it never really made a difference.


Giner Says:

Sean Randall Says:

“Giner, regarding Federer you write that you “would wager that if he got into a 7-6 6-7 7-6 grind against someone on clay, he won’t be in peak form for the next match either.”

Why is that? That’s the basis of my argument. This new thinking that just because a guy play a long match he’s no longer able to be at peak the next day. When did this change happen??”

Why do I think Federer’s form will be less than peak if he went through a similarly long match? Because he’s just as human.

Like I said, I don’t know if the match depleted Nadal. I’m only speculating. I suspect it didn’t, because he has gone longer than that before. Sometimes he would go on to win the next match, sometimes he wouldn’t. Could he have recovered to the same level as Federer though? Probably not.

He lost to Youzhny 1 and 0 after a three tie break match to Moya the day before. It’s possible Youzhny was just that good, but 1 and 0 against Nadal? It sounds unlikely.

“At the US Open a few years ago in ‘05 Federer went four sets, Agassi needed five yet there wasn’t the talk of fitness for either guy like there is now. Did Federer complain, did Agassi? Did their fans? Not that I recall. They both went out the very next day and of course Fed won in four. And that was on a HARDCOURT, much more taxing on a body than clay.”

They (players) don’t complain because they are politically correct. It’s etiquette not to make excuses for a loss. Some players like Blake and Murray are extremely polite about it, completely refusing to even mention any niggles. But I know they’re being disingenuous more often than not. Every bit counts. You’ve heard the saying that a match can be decided on a single point. That’s how close a match can be no matter what the final score was, and a small reduction in form (such as the Flu Murray had in Melbourne) can lose you that one point.

They just aren’t allowed to admit it without drawing scorn.

It’s worth noting that Agassi lost that match, though it’s hard to compare the cases because Federer is that good a player that even if Agassi was feeling 10 years younger, his back would have still been against the wall. I think Federer would have won it anyway, but Agassi would have fared better if he hadn’t played so many 5 setters back to back.

“We, not the players, are turning this sport into a bunch of wimps.”

I mostly agree with you, especially concerning weather conditions, but the game wasn’t made for the lowest common denominator. The format of a tournament wasn’t designed so that it is possible for a good player to play every match going the distance (4 hours) and still win the title. If you’re unlucky, you get a tough match which can affect your chances in the next one. Does the game expect you to be able to be able to do that?

It’s easy to talk ‘tough’ when you’re not the out there. I completely get your point, but I’m in two minds about it.


jane Says:

Giner,

“He lost to Youzhny 1 and 0 after a three tie break match to Moya the day before. It’s possible Youzhny was just that good, but 1 and 0 against Nadal? It sounds unlikely.”

Youzhny used to be a real threat at times for Nadal; do you remember at Wimbledon in 2007? He was up two sets against Nadal and then he tweaked his back and couldn’t compete for the last few sets, even though he did get looked at by a trainer if I recall correctly. Youz used to be a pretty dangerous customer/floater; I wonder if he’ll ever regain that? Still, a breadstick and a bagel is a surprising result no matter how you slice it.


Von Says:

NachoF: “Von,
“I thought he had booked his place at the London Round Robin when he won Australia…”

I guess they are still going by the format of any player winning a GS takes precedence over the non-GS winners, and thus far for this year, Nadal is the only GS winner, hence his spot is secure. If someone else wins the FO, then they’ll be a shoe-in for the next spot until they secure 4 GS winners. But since Nadal and Federer have been splitting the GS titles between them, it might be appropos to say, that the top two spots will go to them, and the remaining 6 spots will be filled according to the race points. I’m sure the Nos. 3 and 4 ranked players will be selected, since they are presently ahead of the other players in the race.


NachoF Says:

Yes, but what Im saying is that the article you linked to seems to imply that Nadal JUST booked his spot because they are going by the math of him losing absolutely everything from now till the beginning of that tournament and still being in the top 8… which may be true but doesnt change anything… after winning Australia he still could have lost everything and dropped to 100 in the world and still would have gone… I think


Giner Says:

“And that was on a HARDCOURT, much more taxing on a body than clay.”

I want to add that while hard courts do stress the feet and knees more than clay, they are not more physical or exhausting. The surface is quicker so the points are over quicker and the rallies are shorter. Clay is about point construction and patience. Blasting winners any chance you get won’t work good, because the other player might get to the ball in time and make you hit it again and you will make more errors if you do that. The US Open is a fast surface, so the dynamic is different.


Von Says:

I think they feel that it’s now May, one GS and and 4 MS tourneys have been played and he’s ahead by a few thousand points, which is more than the other players have won, so it’s safe to say that he’s booked his spot, even if he were to lose everything for the balance of the year. Three GS and 4 MS tourneys are left to play, which makes his results a sure thing. Even if three different pople win a GS, he’s already won one, so his spot is very secure.


Giner Says:

Just so I don’t give the impression of being one sided, I am not disappointed that Nadal lost. I don’t believe he deserved to win Madrid to begin with.

Djokovic was tired going into Madrid. He admitted as much. More tired than Nadal since he didn’t get a week of rest. He wasn’t 100% fresh by the time he got to Nadal and still almost won. Had he been 100%, he would have beaten Nadal, maybe 6-3 6-4. Given how good he played, and the fact that he beat Federer in Monte Carlo too, he probably would have been the Madrid champion.

My hat off to Djokovic who impressed me the most these last few weeks even though he lost. Federer will be watching the RG draw with great interest because if he and Djoker land in the same half, there is every chance that Fed will not reach the final this year.


Twocents Says:

Jane,

I just don’t see any similarities btw Fed/Nadal H2H and Nadal/Djork H2H. Nadal was no.2 and now no.1. So Nadal’s the hunted whenever he faced Djork. It’s all to Djork’s credits that he’s closing in consistently, as a hunter. No pressure on Djork. No worry for you. Maybe FO 09 will be a Rome 08 — Nadal out but Djork not Fed got it? Who knows!

Back on the ground of Miami 2009, someone from ATP told me that Fed nominated Djork to Player’s Council, and Nadal seconded it. That’s the respect Djork earned with his racquet, imho.


jane Says:

Giner, just a quick correction – Djoko beat Fed in Rome; in Monte Carlo it was Wawrinka who eliminated Federer.


jane Says:

Twocents, that’s true: I guess Fed was hunted by Rafa and now Rafa’s hunted by Djoko, Fed and Murray. But why is it that Rafa always has the better H2H!? In both scenarios, hunter and hunted, he’s still coming out on top. Dang that Spaniard. No wonder he’s numero uno.


TejuZ Says:

jane Says:
Tejuz,Could you please be nice and qualify this statement with “on clay”? “Whereas Djokovic has been constantly losing to Nadal and both of them are around the same age. ”

Jane.. my statement there was in regards to Djoker being the placed above Fed as the prime contender to upset Nadal. I would say, a convincing win over sub-par Nadal is better for confidence than a closely contested loss to a sub-par Nadal, especially when Djoker himself said that was his best effort on clay till date. I never said he is not a contender.. he is right below Federer.. and that loss would be quite damaging to him realizing that even his best effort cudnt beat a sub-par Nadal who was making error after errors.


MMT Says:

Von:

I’m going to have to beg to differ on Nadal – I don’t think his time wasting is intentional at all. He has a lot of bad habits with time management that have gotten out of hand, and nobody has really told him to pick up the pace and punished him for not doing so. I also think that he’s got some obsessive and compulsive behaviors (all of his pre-serve routine, the water bottles, the energy goo, the toe-tapping, etc.) which have gotten out of hand, but as he’s become more and more of a draw, there’s less and less incentive to tell him what’s what and to hurry up/cut it out, etc. I also think his body may be reinforcing the need to carry out his routine because the more he does it, the longer it takes, the more he catches his breath, the more he’s ready for the next point and the more his body/mind tells him he needs all that rigormarole in between every point. He is fit, but he is also human, and he, like anyone else, benefits from a chance to catch his breath.

As for the perception of his humility – I think he is strategically humble in that he seems to continue to improve as a player and develop new ways of winning matches, and more importantly he doesn’t mind making adjustments necessary to win matches against anyone – he avoids his opponents strengths, and attacks their weaknesses and in this way he basically admits that he has to do more than just play “his game” to win, which is a much better way to consistently get results. I also think his coach and family have ensured that mentally he never thinks too much of himself, even when the evidence to contrary is obvious – Earlier this year he was asked if finally now he feels he is the better player to Federer and he said no.

Nobody who’s seen him play in the last year can possibly think anyone else has been a better player, but he won’t allow himself to think he’s “arrived” because he knows that’s the first step to stagnating and eventually losing. I think these qualities are genuine.

I don’t think Nadal is as “humble” as he appears to be, in the sense that he knows for example they’ll never give him a point penalty for time wasting. He also knows that if he’s at the top of his game he’ll beat Federer and anyone else for that matter, on any surface. Finally, I think he knows that some players don’t believe they can beat him, especially on clay – that’s why he’s never out of a match – especially on clay. He knows that if he scores two points in a row, then anyone he plays will fear he’s making a run – it makes it a little easier to repeatedly fight back from the death when you know your opponent will wilt if you show a little life.

That said, his mentality on a tennis court is almost perfect. He knows he can lose if he loses his edge, but he also knows that if he fights until the end, he can beat anyone on any surface any time. Even if he’s down 2 sets to love and a 2 breaks in the 3rd, he knows he won’t win if he mopes and mumbles (a la Djokovic, for example) so he never does. The only energy you ever see from him is positive, even when he’s getting his ass handed to him. Mentally he’s almost perfect.


sensationalsafin Says:

Even if you’re a GS champ, you have to be in the top 20 to still qualify for the WTF. That’s why Nadal JUST qualified, he has enough points now that even if he doesn’t compete till the WTF, he’ll be in the top 20.


Skorocel Says:

sensationalsafin said: “Even if you’re a GS champ, you have to be in the top 20 to still qualify for the WTF.”

WTF? Just kidding :)


Skorocel Says:

Roger-Rafa: „There are 2 alpha males (1 older than the other) and a bunch of wannabes!“

Alpha males? LOL :-)


Skorocel Says:

Tejuz said: „it will depend on how the weather turns out in Paris during the FO. If its sunny, balls are going to bounce high and Fed will have trouble with Nadal for sure, but if it rains, or if the weather is cloudy … the clay would be bit damp and should suit Fed’s game more. For sure.. the court wouldnt exactly play the same if it rains compared to when its sunny.“

Well, as much as I like you for being a regular poster here (and a Fed fan ;-) ), I don’t think there’s any need to bisect and dissect these things. I mean, if it’s sunny, so be it, if it’s rainy, so be it, if it snows, so be it, if it’s windy, so be it. Both players have the SAME conditions, and I’m sure Nadal won’t be complaining in case the impossible happens…

„The court suited Djoker more than Nadal, hence the tight finish.“

The same here. Why would a clay-court suit Djoker better? Frankly, of all the court surfaces, which one should suit Nadal’s game better than clay? I don’t know of any…

“I would say, a convincing win over sub-par Nadal is better for confidence than a closely contested loss to a sub-par Nadal”

Agree.


Skorocel Says:

Giner: “Had he been 100%, he would have beaten Nadal, maybe 6-3 6-4. Given how good he played, and the fact that he beat Federer in Monte Carlo too, he probably would have been the Madrid champion.”

That’s a pure speculation. It’s as if we would say – Nadal could’ve beaten him in 2 sets had he not played sh.t in the 1st half of the match (where he indeed played sh.t, making around 10 UEs just off his FH in the 1st set)…


Skorocel Says:

Giner: “Federer will be watching the RG draw with great interest because if he and Djoker land in the same half, there is every chance that Fed will not reach the final this year.”

Why? What leads you to such conclusion? Those 2 defeats in Rome and Miami? Those tourneys aren’t grandslams, only MS events. Grandslam is a totally different story – both because of its importance, and also because of the best of 5 sets format (which Djoker used to have some problems with in the past). Anyway, so be it. Let’s place Djoker in Fed’s half and see whether the 2 can make it to the semis first. Then we’ll see…


Skorocel Says:

NachoF: From 2005 onwards, there have been only 2 players (at best) who were able to consistently trouble Nadal on clay – Federer and Djoker. Still, the former managed to win only 2 matches, whereas the latter zero. If that’s NOT FAR from the rest, then I don’t know what is?


TejuZ Says:

Skorocel Said: “I mean, if it’s sunny, so be it, if it’s rainy, so be it, if it snows, so be it, if it’s windy, so be it. Both players have the SAME conditions, and I’m sure Nadal won’t be complaining in case the impossible happens…”

Skorocel.. i just put forth my view there. I know both have to play with the conditions that are given and they surely wudnt complain. But, i still feel a cloudy and a damp court would suit Fed’s or even Djokovic’s game relatively better purely because Nadal’s top-spin wouldnt bounce high enuf to their backhand. I never said, Nadal wouldnt be a fav there. He is odds on fav against anybody on any clay court.

Skorocel said:”The same here. Why would a clay-court suit Djoker better? Frankly, of all the court surfaces, which one should suit Nadal’s game better than clay? I don’t know of any…”

Again, this is relative to their respective match-ups on a different clay surface(Montecarlo, rome, RG). In similar conditions, Djoker played a tough 3-setter against Nadal at Hamburg last year… but he got straight-setted at RG. hence, Djokovic’s result here must be treated just like how we are all treating Fed’s win this week. They both are not so close to breaking the Rafa riddle at RG this year.. they will lot of things to go their way to beat Nadal.


TejuZ Says:

Another thing going more for Fed than Djoker aginst Nadal is he has taken sets off Nadal and dominated him for a brief period(a set here and there) during their prev RG matches. Djoker hasnt.. and obv he has two convicing victories over the No 1 on clay.


NachoF Says:

sensationalsafin Says:

“Even if you’re a GS champ, you have to be in the top 20 to still qualify for the WTF. That’s why Nadal JUST qualified, he has enough points now that even if he doesn’t compete till the WTF, he’ll be in the top 20.”

Not true…. at least thats not how it worked at Shanghai… GS winners were the priority.


NachoF Says:

Oh wait, you said top 20…not top 8?… Im confused now… could a GS winner have less points than #20 in the ranks?


NachoF Says:

Skorocel,
I would consider it THAT FAR if he could still win easily even when he is tired… the fact that if he drops his level a slight bit when being tired causes him to lose a match vs Fed means to me that he isnt that far… and it isnt impossible for what happened at Madrid to happen again… his fifth RG trophy does not seem like a sure thing anymore… thats all Im saying….


Von Says:

Mario Ancic pulls out of the FO. This is so sad, since he was a very good player with a lot of talent and potential. I doubt whether Ancic will ever revert to his pre-mono state. I suppose Federer should be thankful he didn’t have as serious a case of mono as Ancic, or else we would be seeing the same scenario for Federer. Too, too bad for Ancic.

http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/21052009/3/ancic-pulls-french-open.html


jane Says:

Yeah, that is sad for Ancic; I hope he can still manage to play at Wimbledon as that is often where “super Mario” shines. I think (?) he even met Fed in the quarter-finals last year: mono-a-mono so to speak. LOL. Just trying to lighten things up.

Speaking of players looking for a new winds, here’s an article on Hewitt and Safin:

http://www.espnstar.com/tennis/french-open/news/detail/item272396/Old-dogs-looking-for-new-tricks/


Skorocel Says:

This is a bit off-topic, but anyway, I’m just watching the Seppi vs Troicki match at WTC in Düsseldorf, and there’s actually the “ATP World Tour” inscription written on the net (or something like that), even though the participants actually don’t receive any ranking points for this event. Am I missing something?


Von Says:

MMT:

Thank you for your in-depth reply.

I agree that Nadal definitely has some OCD symptoms, e.g., signalling for the towel instantaneously as the point is winding up, the lining up of his bottle labels, and placing the bottles in a slanted position, pushing the hair behind his ears when there is none, since the bandanna keeps the hair in place, and the pant picking. I also noticed recently, he is making a towel bed on which to place his racquet; he was calling out to the towel girl urgently at Madrid to obtain a towel to make a bed on which to lay his racquet. I thought this was rather sweet, almost a sort of childlike innocence, in the tenderness he displayed towards his racquet, and that seems to be a new thing he’s adding to his list of idiosyncrasies. I wonder though, if his prep, etc., is a full-blown case of OCD in his life in general, or one that’s just related to his tennis preparation. For example, does he have certain rituals at home too, and if that’s the case then he really does have OCD big time.

I know that people who are OCD diagnosed have been found to be serotonin deficient, similarly to those who are depressed, and OCD also causes pain and discomfort to its victims mentally. As a matter of fact, the rituals are done to block out intrusive thought patterns which are perceived to be upsetting and causing them extreme discomfort, hence they find repetitive rituals to break and/or disrupt the thought patterns. If this counteracting measure is not used the thoughts persist and can cause deleterious consequences. Moreover, it’s not a state of mind they openly admit to and I wonder whether Nadal’s team are any the wiser as to his OCD problems, or they just feel it’s nothing to be concerned about.

“I also think his body may be reinforcing the need to carry out his routine because the more he does it, the longer it takes, the more he catches his breath, the more he’s ready for the next point and the more his body/mind tells him he needs all that rigormarole in between every point.”

As I mentioned above, these rituals are done to block intrusive and perceived ugly thoughts from remaining in their minds, hence, if the person afflicted with OCD does not complete his rituals he feels unfulfilled and cannot move on to the next step. For example, the pre-match prep, in which he engages, if he were to skip just one small step, he would begin to feel incomplete, because his mind unrelentlessly sends him the message that he left things undone, and as a result, even if he has to use up more time, he will ensure he does everything to perfection to ensure those thoughts stop their repetitive cycle. Furthermore, the whole routine starts becoming more lengthy, and the more he indulges and/or encourages, the more time he’s forced to dedicate, and on and on it goes. It’s a vicious cycle to which there’s no end, except some people find relief from medication. Howard Hughes literally becamse a slave and prisoner to his rituals. He had so much money but couldn’t enjoy it due to the OCD disease.

The question of how this all affects Nadal’s tennis matches and opponents is one that needs to be addressed by Nadal, and only therapeutic help is the answer. OCD victims are placed on medication similar to depressed people, because of the lack of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, but I doubt Nadal would ever submit to therapy or acknowledge he has OCD, hence his problem will remain unsolved.

It appears to me that there seems to be an unwritten rule that the umpires should refrain from calling him out on time violations, because ever since that ’08 Toronto tournament where he made the scene calling for the tournament referee when Cedric Mourier issued a time violation, the other umps have been very lax towards him. In Miami Roddick challenged Fergus Murphy to call Nadal’s repeated time violations, but all Murphy said, was “Andy, Andy, I know”, however he did nothing. I suppose, the bottom line is, Nadal sells tickets and brings in top dollar for the ATP, which translates to ATP turning a blind eye to his antics. And, those of the players as well as the fans, who don’t like what’s being done, will just have to learn to live with it, because Nadal’s lengthy pre-match prep, and in-between serves antics are here to stay.


vrtrop22 Says:

Nadal will beat anyone if he is playing his best. On clay probably. I’ll say it again, Fed should have won Wimby & Aussie in 4 sets. On non caly surfaces Nadal is still subject to be hit off the court.


Andrew Miller Says:

Has anyone read the Rafael Nadal article in “Men’s Health” magazine, on the shelves now? (Not “Men’s Fitness” <- that is not a very enlightening article!) But the one in Men’s Health magazine seems excellent. It seems to get at some details I have not seen regarding Nadal’s game, toughness and training.


sensationalsafin Says:

It would’ve been hard for Federer to have won Wimbledon in 4 sets after going down 2 sets to love.


debrah Says:

there were some good comments above, about stategy, serve back spin ect. l like to think it was a gift from Nadel on the birth of the baby ,he is just that sesitive l think , don’t croud my space with all this junk one can,t win every game its points and variables ,sure there’s room to stategize for both ,,but Nadal will take him,,,simple becuase he wills to, when it really counts like wimbleton, he can blow u away,thats when he shines, unknown to himself he has this uniqueness about coming get after getting the feel of the opponent, in this case he just got a good feel about roger so + rog tired maybe shouldn’t be a prob we weill see uncle tony rafa fan Debra Best wishes on what is meant to be will be at that time…

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