Nadal Out for Fifth French Open, Can he be Stopped?
by Sean Randall | May 23rd, 2009, 5:55 pm
  • 64 Comments

May the chips fall where they may. And this May, the chips fell so Novak Djokovic finally, if not mercifully, avoided a pre-final French Open encounter with Rafael Nadal for the first time in three years.

Djokovic is everyone’s x-factor, and this year Djokovic landed in Roger Federer’s section meaning the Serb and the Swiss could meet for the chance to challenge Nadal in the final.

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but that really was the only drama in the draw, and this time it went in Novak’s favor. But will it matter? Will it make any difference in the end? Let’s look at the draw for answers.

First, Nadal’s section is chock-full of best dirtballers on the planet: David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, Stan Wawrinka, Nikolay Davydenko and Nicolas Almagro. There’s also Ernests Gulbis, Lleyton Hewitt and even Sam Querrey, who actually owns a few sets off Rafa in the quarter. Lucky for the Spaniard he’ll only need to get past a couple of them to reach the semifinals. And my guess is he’ll do it over Hewitt, then Ferrer and then Verdasco. It’s not an easy road and he won’t be setting records for dominance along the way like he did last year, but Rafa will do what he always does on clay, win.

In the second quarter, no player in the history of the French Open has an easier road than Andy Murray. Okay, I’m exaggerating but I can’t seen anyone derailing the Brit until the quarterfinals, and that’s where trouble may come in the form of Fernando Gonzalez. And with a potential “Fab Four” in the Final Four again (remember Madrid?), I’m taking Gonzalez. The Chilean has a good path also with a possible third round against Marat Safin (more like Granollers), fourth round against the fading Gilles Simon before meeting Murray. If Gonzo’s on, he wins, and for now I’ll take him to pull the upset.

Moving to the top of the bottom half is where we find what I think is the most competitive section with Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Anyone of the three could emerge through to the semifinals plus there’s Juan Monaco, Philip Kohlschrieber and Ivan Ljubicic in the mix. My pick… Well, DelPo will get through Troicki and Fognini to meet Tsonga in the 16s. There I’m going to take JW and that will set up a real tasty showdown with Djokovic in the quarterfinals. And as much as I want to pick the Frenchman who has fared well against the World No. 4, I think Novak’s made enough strides the last few months and he returns to the semifinals.

Awaiting there for Novak in the last four will be… Federer. Roger’s got a good, not great draw. In the first round Alberto Martin should make him hit a lot of balls. In round three Paul-Henri Mathieu has the ability to play well in Paris (he gave Agassi and Nadal both a real run for the their money) and Tomas Berdych has given the Fed problems in the past. In the quarters I’d take my man Gael Monfils, but I’m not convinced his knee is 100% healthy enough to withstand his retriever style, so I’m actually going to pick Andy Roddick to get to make the Final 8 Grand Slam club. Roddick couldn’t have hand-picked a better draw but that luck runs out against Federer who wouldn’t dare lose to the American on a clay court in Paris.

So that leaves my semifinals as Nadal v. Gonzalez and Djokovic v. Federer. Clearly it’s Nadal on top and in the second semifinal I think the pressure gets to Novak and Federer wins in four sets. For the final, until he loses a clay best-of-five match, I’m picking Rafa. Frankly, why buck the trend? Vamos!

As for the women, can I pick Justine Henin? I can’t? Why not? Darn. Okay, I’ll go out a limb and take Elena Dementieva to beat Dinara Safina in the final.


Also Check Out:
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Serena Wins; Venus, Safina, Ivanovic in Action Saturday at Wimbledon
A Crazy Man With A Flare Ran Onto The Court Interrupting The French Open Final [Video]
Stosur, Schiavone Unlikely French Open Finalists
Tomas Berdych: Maybe If I Lose Once More To Nadal Tomorrow I Will Beat Him At The French Open!

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64 Comments for Nadal Out for Fifth French Open, Can he be Stopped?

Roger-Rafa Says:

Nice picks Sean! I dont know if you will believe me, but for good or worse, we have the same picks in the men’s semis!

I will pick Roger in the final, just because of high pay off-value for little risk. (The risk got lesser because you jinxed rafa already! :)

The women’s, Safina will win her 1st GS over I dont even know who (because I didnt bother to see the women’s draw!). I will pick elena to be the runner-up just because no one except me cares for who my picks are.


Kimo Says:

Good Analysis, but I think it’ll be a walk in the park for Murray until the semis just because he won’t be up against any in-form players. He’ll definitely lose to Rafa.

I pretty much agree with everything else. Mathieu is not easy on the Parisian clay, and he gave Rafa his toughest match yet in his 28-0 record at RG, so he’s definitely no push-over, but I think Fed will prevail.

I want Safina to win a major just because she’s been consistent and she deserves it.


Kimo Says:

I just wanna add one thing:

Can you guys imagine Fed’s emotions if he wins RG, completing his career-slam and equalling Pete’s record?

I’d pay anything and everything to see that.


mem Says:

as well as safina has been playing, i don’t think she will be the champion. i’m going with venus williams to win it all on the women’s side. one thing is for certain, when venus and serena set their minds on winning, they don’t go home empty handed! i’ll take my chances with venus. why not? she hasn’t won in paris before. maybe, this is her year!


Roger-Rafa Says:

Kimo,

Let me guess :

There will be crying involved and falling to the knees. no offense to his magical shot-making, but coming up with a new way to fall to the knees is going to be the toughest thing he has ever come up with in his life, IF he indeed does that.

Imagine if he does that over Rafa after a 9hr marathon 102-100 in the 5th set! Ok! that is the vodka speaking now!

Coming back to my senses, Kimo, I think the toughest match nadal faced at French Open, was the 2006 final. He got bread-sticked and won it 7-6 in the 4th set. If Fed squeezed that tie-breaker out, we could well have him still as no.1 and with atleast 15slams with atleast 2clay majors. The 06 rome and paris finals, were a major blow to a Champion’s psyche – one that was the most dominant ever and even a player as mentally strong as Roger, is yet to recover from it. Credit to the 2nd greatest mentally strong tennis-player of all time that he limited the damage to only clay and still held his own on other courts, against the most mentally strong player ever to hold a tennis racquet!


Danica Says:

I don’t think Venus and Serena play well on clay and I don’t see them anywhere near finals. Same goes for Murray.


Roger-Rafa Says:

http://www.tennis.com/tournaments/2009/frenchopen/frenchopen.aspx?id=174372

great link about Roger and Novak’s thoughts. As a Roger-Rafa fan, it is simply awesome that they have won 15 off the last 16. Unless murray intervenes at wimbledon, make it 17 off 18 for the Goat no.1 and Goat no.2 :)


Von Says:

I disagree that Fed’s draw is only good; I think it’s great. Alberto Martin? He’s 31 years old, and has never won a singles title. His best result was a QF showing this year at Costa du Sauippe, other than that, he’s exited most tourneys in the first round. PH Mathieu will give Fed some competition? Mathieu has been exiting in early rounds of most of the tourneys he’s played, so why would RG be any different? I don’t know but I still think Fed’s draw is by far the easiest, and it’s the consensus of opinion of four (4) other writers in the links posted on the other thread.

I also think Murray’s draw is tough for him in his present form. Chela is a clay-courter and has a very good game off the ground. He’s able to throw off his opponent’s rhythm and ending points early by going down the line instead of cross-court, which is something Murray has to be on the look-out, and he uses the drop shot very well. If Murray gets past Chela he could meet Zverev who’s a good, young player and can cause the upset; then there’s Montanes who just won a title on clay, Starace and Tipsy. so, all in all, I don’t think Murray’s draw is the easiest.

for the women I pick Venus or maybe Serena. When it’s the GS, it’s difficult to go against the Williams’ sisters — they’re what GS is all about. I’d like to see Dementieva win a GS and I hope it’s at RG, because she’s getting older and the younger women are all hungry to win, especially Safina. I personally think Safina is showing signs of burn-out, and even though she’s won Madrid, I don’t think she’ll win at RG.


Fedfan Says:

If Fed losing this french final again, he would have emulated BOrg at the US Open – 4 final losses. No other player has ever lost 4 finals and never won.

Fed is unfairly combined with sampras, Mcenroe, becker, and Edberg, as players who could never win the FO. Fed has been in 3 finals and 1 semi, and lost all 4 to the best clay courter ever – so he is in a category of his own – above Sampras, mcenroe, becker and edberg as far as clay and FO goes, but obviously below nadal, borg, lendl and Guga. And not as lucky as players like chang, gaudio, costa, muster, and even agassi, none of whom would have beaten nadal on clay at FO…..


Voicemale1 Says:

For all the talk about whether Nadal can win his 5th title here, the truth is he’s coming into the French this year a little better than he went in last year. In 2008 he lost his very first match in Rome to Ferrero because of the blistered foot, survived valiantly in the Hamburg Semis against Djokovic, and would have patently lost the Final had Federer not spent time choking that one away for some reason. I’d always thought Federer’s choke in that Final was the real reason Nadal was able to crush him in Paris three weeks later. Granted, Nadal’s run through his 7 matches last year at the French was legendary and repeating that will be difficult. But he’s still played better going in to this one than last year. And he always steps it up when a Major is on the shelf for the taking.

Von:

Not sure I agree Fed’s draw is easy. Yeah, he should get to the Semis. But guys like Berdych, who just won in Munich on clay, and a healthy Monfils could give Federer much longer afternoons than he’d want. True, he won Madrid, and it should help him mentally. But even he was quick to point out afterward not to get carried away reading too much into the result. I just keep thinking about that Rome Semi to Djokovic a few weeks ago, which wasn’t quite as ugly as his unraveling to Nadal in Hamburg last year, but it wasn’t far off it. Federer was up a Set and a break at 3-1, and twice had points to go up a double break in the 2nd Set, then lost both chances with mind boggling unforced errors. Djokovic then reeled off 5 straight games to take the set. Same story in the 3rd Set that day – Federer led 3-1 before Djokovic reeled off five straight games to take the match. Let’s remember too: at last year’s French Federer won his first six matches without having to face anyone ranked inside the Top 25, yet still had to go to a 4th Set in half of those matches. If he has designs on winning this, let’s just say he’ll need to play much better tennis than he’s shown so far this season. He IS Roger Federer, so it’s possible he could step it up. Still, he’ll need to.

Kimo:

I’d rethink the statement you made about no one in Murray’s Quarter being in form. Stepanek, Gonzalez and Montanes have all won titles this year, and Gonzalez & Montanes won theirs on clay. Youzhny was a Finalist in Munich on clay a couple of weeks ago where he lost the title to Berdych. And Tipsarevic just won the round robin in Dusseldorf on clay. So he’s got lots of land mines to navigate. And if he even made the Semis, his road there will likely leave him almost gutted. He’s just not a clay court kinda guy, much less in a Best of Five format.


Momstootie Says:

I like the way you think,Sean. Surprise to many: Novak will win the tournament.


Skorocel Says:

Fedfan: “If Fed losing this french final again, he would have emulated BOrg at the US Open – 4 final losses. No other player has ever lost 4 finals and never won.”

LOL!


andrea Says:

some writer on tennis.com predicted that matthieu could actually take out federer….now, i know fed’s been in a slump but matthieu???

i dunno.

let’s hope everyone does better against nadal this year. nadal flattened verdasco, then novak and saved the biggest whupping for fed last year. someone start putting him to work!


Kimmi Says:

Sean, after reading a lot of predictions from other sites, you are probably the only one predicting a win for Federer over Novak. Great analysis though I feel there will be some major upsets this year.

When you think about it, how easy is it to predict the winner in men’s tennis? Nadal has been so far ahead over everybody else -is unbelievable. Where are those years when we had people like Gaston Gaudio winning the FO, I think he was out of top 10 when he won!

Kimo & Roger-Rafa. I would also pay anything to see that reaction from Federer winning Paris over the bull himself..!! Obviously anybody can dream, there is no problem with that.

Both sisters are not coming to Paris with great conviction. Even when they had great clay preparation in the past, they had always struggled in Paris. Serena has an injury and is unfit and Venus always self implodes in all other GS not Wimbledon. I am more thinking Safina or Kuznetsova, but then it could be anybody…women tennis is so unpredictable, if you can get your predictions right, then hats off to you.


Von Says:

Voicemale1:

Thanks for your illuminating and insightful post. For obvious reasons, I don’t trust Berdych’s mind-set against federer. He chokes so badly, that it’s pathetic. Look at the AO, he was up two sets and let Federer back into the match = Federer won. Additionally, Monfils, is not much better v. Federer. On paper, they do appear to be stiff competition, considering their ranking and clay success, but when they are pitted against Federer on any surface, they disintegrate, especially Berdych. Whatever happenend to the young man who beat Fed in 2004 at the Olympics? He became mush after that against Federer. Ergo, in view of those past matches is the reason I feel Federer has an easy draw.

I also agree that Murray has a tough draw, see my post @ 8:56 pm. You name it, he’s got it, in players like Tipsy, who likes to play on Center Court, and in the process taking a top scalp. Then Montanes, who’s got to be feeling good from his Estoril victory, and last but not least, Gonzo, who’s a huge factor on clay, winning Vina Del Mar this year. So all in all, I think Murray’s got a humdinger of a draw and some battle royales in store. Further, they all know that Murray’s best surface isn’t clay, and they’ll be trying to keep a lot of balls in play to tire him out. Murray had better be alert, and refrain from playing his cat and mouse games, because those guys will eat him for breakfast, and then some.

With respect to Fed’s chokes, I think Rome ’06 was a classical choke. He was leading 5-1 in the 5th set, and let Nadal back into the match. I mean what are the chances of that happening to Federer? Is it any wonder he pulled out of Hamburg that year? He was devastated, and I’m sure whenever he’s playing Nadal that match has got to surface, especially when he’s 5-1 ahead. Ah, the mind, it can make us or break us.


Von Says:

Voicemale1:

“But he’s still played better going in to this one than last year. And he always steps it up when a Major is on the shelf for the taking.”

Going by the above quote, you’re saying that Nadal’s form going into RG is better this year than last year’s? Somehow, I feel the opposite is happening. I think since the AO he’s fallen off quite a bit, especially on his forehand wing, whereby he’s makikng a lot of UEs; or was it only in Madrid? But, then again, he was making a lot of UEs in Miami and IW, but he still beat Murray resoundingly in the finals. I suppose it’s just a matter of him shifting into a higher gear when it really counts, and just doing enough to win at the other matches. He’s no longer trying to win every point, which says he’s maturing as a player mentally.


Samprazzz Says:

I’m sticking with my Federer to win the French pick. I’m also picking Montanes to join him in the final. I’m thinking Nadal, for once will get upset in the early rounds by one of those tough “dirtballers” that Sean mentioned. Nadal looked tired in Madrid. I think he’s just played too much, and it’s all about to catch up to him.
Final four: Fed-Djokovic and Montanes Verdasco


zola Says:

Sean,
This is the first preview I have read that predicts a Rafa-Fed final. Interesting!
I have the same predictions as yours for the semi and the final. I think Murray still needs some work to do to reach the FO semi. So I picked Gonzo. Who knows, but if he is in form, he can beat Murray on clay. I also picked Fed to beat Djoko. Still undecided ( have 4 hours to thinkk!). If Djoko is on fire, he can beat Fed on clay. If he is down, might be different and fed is not going to give the match away.

Voicemale1
Very nice analysis of Rafa’s form. Indeed, this year he is in better shape. No straps on his knees and no blisters. These are good news.besides he is not playing doubles anymore and tries to end the points earlier. I hope he remains healthy for FO and wimbledon.
Besides he has had the best start of the the year with a GS title and a master series title on hard, plus two two master series on clay , a final and the Barcelona title.
he has some tough matches ahead. Ferrer, verdasco and perhaps Djoko. But if he is healthy, I think he can pull it off.


zola Says:

Kimmi, Kimo , Roger-Rafa

What about Rafa breaking Borg’s record and becoming the first man to have 5 FO titles in a row? With a chance to win the GS?

That will be great to see too. :)


funches Says:

What is the deal with people picking Tsonga as a contender? He’s never won a match at Roland Garros, he’s barely won any matches in the clay court season this year, and his body breaks down in long matches.

If he gets by Benneteau in the first round I’ll be surprised, although Benneteau’s three-hour-plus match today may leave him spent for the start of Roland Garros.

If he gets past Benneteau, I’ll be shocked if he beats Monaco (or possibly Baghdatis) in the second round. There’s no earthly reason to pick him to win that one.


Giner Says:

Roger-Rafa Says:

“Let me guess :

There will be crying involved and falling to the knees.”

Well, whoever does Rafa’s laundry must hate the clay season.

Sean:

“I’m taking Gonzalez. The Chilean has a good path also with a possible third round against Marat Safin (more like Granollers)”

Knowing Marat Safin, he might take out Gonzo and then lose his next match in straight sets.

“So that leaves my semifinals as Nadal v. Gonzalez and Djokovic v. Federer. Clearly it’s Nadal on top and in the second semifinal I think the pressure gets to Novak and Federer wins in four sets. For the final, until he loses a clay best-of-five match, I’m picking Rafa. Frankly, why buck the trend? Vamos!”

You’re the first analyst that I’ve read to pick Federer for the final. Djoker seems like a safer pick. His results on clay have been great, losing only to Nadal but getting ever closer with each attempt. And he has a 2 match winning streak on Federer, with the last one coming in Rome.

“As for the women, can I pick Justine Henin? I can’t? Why not? Darn. Okay, I’ll go out a limb and take Elena Dementieva to beat Dinara Safina in the final.”

Nice justice you’re doing to the women there. Most of this site doesn’t even bother talking about them. I’d call you sexist if it wasn’t justified. New champion this year. Perhaps Safina or Jankovic. Or Wozniacki. Azarenka might still be around on Sunday also. I don’t think Dementieva will win. I always want her to, but she’s the Nalbandian of the WTA tour. Great talent but full of disappointment in big tournaments.

There are only two matches I will watch: Federer vs Djokovic (if it happens) and the final.


Fedfan Says:

If Federer loses this FO final to Nadal:

1) Nadal breaks Borg’s record, 5 consecutive FO
2) Fed equals Borg’s record at the US open ( 4 finals no wins)
3) Fed sets a record of his own – at least 4 finals in all 4 slams (that has never happened before on the men’s side)

I think Fed needs to hire Lendl as his coach. The guy has played with modern rackets (unlike Tony Roche, who was too much of an old timer). He knows how to win on clay (3 FO title, 2 more finals). He knows how to toil and persist, and how it feels not to win the slam you really want (wimbledon in his case). And he has one-handed backhand, with which he dominated plenty of lefties.

I would have loved to see Nadal play a prime Lendl or even Guga at the FO.


steve Says:

I don’t understand why people pick Djokovic to make it to the final. Let alone win it over Nadal.

To me Djokovic’s recent victories over Federer are not terribly relevant to his chances in a Grand Slam. Remember that Federer was losing in the early rounds to the likes of Ivo Karlovic during the summer hard-court season last year, and yet he won the US Open. He simply raises his level when the stakes are higher.

He is keenly aware that beating Nadal would cement his status as one of the all-time greats, and he’s not going to let the opportunity slip by.

Even if the stars align and Djokovic somehow manages to beat Federer in the semis, he’ll still have to face Nadal.

For all the speculation that the altitude in Madrid made it easier for Federer to beat Nadal, I’ve heard nothing about how the altitude may have made it easier for Djokovic to come so close to winning. I suspect that’s simply because people feel the need for explanations every time Nadal loses on clay, while they’re not needed when he wins.

To me that match was not an indication of how close Djokovic was to winning–it’s an indication that he’s using the wrong game plan. If his intention is to outlast Nadal in the long rallies, in the hopes that he gets an opportunity to hit a winner, that’s going to backfire in Paris, where the clay is slower and Nadal’s defense is at its peak effectiveness. And especially in a best-of-five match, where Nadal’s fitness becomes a supreme advantage.

It will be Federer and Nadal once again in the final, and I give Nadal a 95% chance of taking it, and Federer a 5% chance.


Ryan Says:

As always in sports nothing can be predicted but I dont think nadal can be stopped. It took djok every ounce of his energy to come so close to winning the match n he still lost in the madrid semi. The conditions were in his favour too.
When nadal really got warmed up for example in Rome, the djoker couldnt really do anything against him. He lost 7-6 6-2.
As for fed it was a great victory in madrid but his serve wont help him out in FO like it did there.So in other words every point will have to be earned which again gives nadal the edge.But this time around fed or djok mite take a set or 2 against him.But winning 3 sets against him just seems impossible.Besides nadal fights like hell in every surface stretching fed to 5 sets on grass and hard. So imagine how its gonna be on clay.At the end of the day as much as I hate to say it…..its 5 in a row for nadal.


Voicemale1 Says:

Von:

I do think Nadal is coming to this French Open better than last year. I was specifically referring to this clay season vs. last year. It wasn’t just the blister in 2008, but also the mounting pressure mentally. Back then the tennis press had all but anointed Djokovic as World #2 and proclaimed he could replace Federer at #1 by years end – they’d effectively written Nadal out of the dialogue (shows you how much the so-called experts in the tennis media know, huh?). Hamburg’s Nadal-Djokovic Semi in 2008 literally held the World #2 Ranking for the winner. Three brutal hours later Nadal had kept his ranking, and in fact, a pretty good case could be made that his ascent to the place he holds now really began in Hamburg last year. He was minutes away from quitting the Final there from the stress on his body during the Semi, and in 3 more hours he landed the trophy in a match Federer should have won (and had the opportunities to have won) in less than 60 minutes. I’ll bet in any Nadal memoir there will be a lengthy mention about the importance of Hamburg 2008.

He’s got no such pressure this year. He’s solidly at #1 and will be for immediate future. The loss in Madrid (where he’d been saying since IW he was only 50-50 to play) takes a little pressure off – in effect he gets to start from scratch. He recorded more than a few 6-0 Sets during the clay season in 2009 (e.g., Soderling played Nadal for 84 minutes in Rome and his reward was 1 single game). When you can rack up Sets won at Love on the ATP Tour in three different tournaments, you’re game is right where you need it to be. And he did it through MC, Barcelona and Rome serving at less that 65%. His preparation this year says he’ll be a rough customer for anyone lining up against him – again.


Skorocel Says:

Giner: “Well, whoever does Rafa’s laundry must hate the clayseason.”

LOL :-)))


ertorque Says:

Consider this……Fed’s attempt to go one up over Borg’s five consecutive Wimbeldon last year was foiled by Nadal and if Fed beats Nadal this years at the FO, he would have foiled Nadals bid to go one up over Borg’s 4 consecutive FO…..Ironic isn’t it?


Giner Says:

ertorque Says:

“Consider this……Fed’s attempt to go one up over Borg’s five consecutive Wimbeldon last year was foiled by Nadal and if Fed beats Nadal this years at the FO, he would have foiled Nadals bid to go one up over Borg’s 4 consecutive FO…..Ironic isn’t it?”

Is Borg the jinxer? It’s true actually. Borg will be rooting against Nadal, though not necessarily rooting for Fed. Pete was attempting to tie Borg’s record of 5 consecutive Wimbledons in 2001 when Federer beat him in the QF, and after that match Borg called up Federer to thank him for keeping his record safe.

Since then Fed has tied Borg’s 5 at Wimbledon and Nadal tied his 4 at RG. He doesn’t like people beating him, so you may be onto something here.

I do not think it will have any impact on the match when it happens, but if Borg presents the trophy his face might betray his true sentiments.

This year Fed will have to go through Djokovic to set up a meeting with Nadal unlike previous years, so that’s 2 tough guys he’ll have to beat instead of 1 if he wants the elusive RG title. Last year the only seeded player he met before the final was Gonzo.

It’s hard to pick a winner between them. Djoker did win more matches on clay and has been in better form, but Fed did win Madrid (over Nadal). However Fed didn’t face Djokovic in Madrid and the conditions are different (Madrid’s clay is already considered very fast by clay standards and the altitude adds to it). Djoker did beat Fed the last 2 meetings but Fed holds a career advantage in H2H.

It’s close to 50/50 but I’ll give the nod to Djokovic in 4 tight sets, if they meet.


jane Says:

An article on Federer’s run at Wimbledon vs. Nadal’s run at Roland Garros:

http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/Sports/Headlines/sptTEN01052409.htm

—————————————————

Looks like Murray’s having no problems with Chela.

Hewitt and Safin make the next round – good for them.

And right now Odesnik has pushed Simon to a fifth and Querrey and Gulbis are duking it out. I do like Gulbis but he’s had an awful year in general and it just seems to me he’s not dedicated enough, doesn’t put in the work. So I am hoping that Sam wins this one today.


Kimo Says:

Murray just beat Chela 62 62 61.

Who said Murray’s draw was hard?

Just because Murray’s quarter is full of clay court specialists doesn’t make them tough opponents. He is no.3 in the world and he’ll crush ‘em.

…and I don’t even like Murray.


Kimo Says:

ertorque Says:
“Consider this……Fed’s attempt to go one up over Borg’s five consecutive Wimbeldon last year was foiled by Nadal and if Fed beats Nadal this years at the FO, he would have foiled Nadals bid to go one up over Borg’s 4 consecutive FO…..Ironic isn’t it?”

Oh man…that would be so sweeeeeeeeet.


jane Says:

Gulbis is similar to Tipsy in that they like to perform their best when they’re on the big stage – hence Gulbis has a decent record at the slams. It looks like Sam should take this third set, but it’ll be tough to come back and win from two sets down.


Kimo Says:

An uneventful first day. The only seeded players who were ousted are Karlovic, Mauresmo and Kanepi.


FoT Says:

The way the aces were flying today – are we sure they didn’t change the clay to a hard court? It was sure playing that way today! lol!


vared Says:

If Murray can’t beat Chela coming off an 8 month leave for a herniated disc on a day when balls are flying, he doesn’t deserve to win anything.


Kimmi Says:

Murray played very good today, he was aggressive and that’s what he needs to do. This is where he can pick up as much ranking points as possible coz after FO it will get tougher. I liked his play regardless of an opponent, it was more like his hard-court game, hitting flat, big and attack , and of course excellent defense.

Tomorrow we have Nadal and Fed but djokovic is nowhere to be found. The schedule of play seem to be jumbled up, normally they have top half together and then bottom half but not here.


Kimmi Says:

Poor Mauresmo, I thought she started to find her game. She played very well in Madrid. Ooh well, she can try again next year but time is running out.


Peka Says:

Nadal will lose a match at RG some day… for sure. Will it be this year, or next year, or year after that, who knows.
The only question is who will make the use of it when it happens, and grab the trophy.


Von Says:

Voicemale1:

I have to agree with you, now that you’ve mentioned the ’08 scenario where Nadal was under so much pressure to hold onto his No. 2 ranking, that he is most decidedly in better shape this year, mentally. That situation had to have been one of grave concern for him, his team, and his fans. Unfortunately, I didn’t place much emphasis on that scenario, considering he took care of business very efficiently and held onto his ranking, which motivated him to make the FO/Queens/Wimby sweep. It’s amazing how well he performs when the chips are down. Is it any wonder you kvell over him so much? (smiley here)


Twocents Says:

On pure technical ground, it’s 55/45 Fed/Djork on Chatier surface. So I understand Sean’s pick. But giving the (unstoppable) rising slope of Djork’s star and the (inevitable) descending slope of Fed’s, I may have to go with other pundit’s Djork call.

Hope they both make it to semi.


Von Says:

Twocents:

“Hope they both make it to semi.”

I see you’ve completely eliminated your home state home-boy. Shame on you! LOL. isn’t there a spot he can be squeezed into? give me some hope will ya. Ha ha.


Twocents Says:

Von,

“Hope they both make it to semi.”

The hope is right here for Roddick, to spoil their meeting. Anytime, anywhere, Roddick gets a win over Fed, it’s totally deserved! Not sure about patriotism. But I do share your feeling of Roddick being robbed by Fed, even though I’m a Fed fan.

I like your Fed coffin thing on another thread. I even constructed a funeral band for your plot.


Von Says:

TwoCents:

I’d love to see Roddick rain on their parade. I’m not even going to talk about pay-back to Fed — it’s too painful. I mean 4 GS finals, about 12 SFs and God knows how many QFs, all stopped by Fed. Too painful to handle.

“I like your Fed coffin thing on another thread. I even constructed a funeral band for your plot.”

If you want a band, then you have to get a New Orleans band. I remember a James Bond movie with a funeral procession in New Orleans. Those guys sure know how to party at a funeral, jazz band, et al. LOL. I’ll be looking forward to your new skit, just bring it on.


Voicemale1 Says:

Von:

I’m almost reluctant to pass this on in case you didn’t see it, but Tennis Channel’s coverage today had am interview with John McEnroe about the Men’s Draw. When the topic turned to the American Men on clay and McAtee asked him whether or not American Men could win the French (why they ask these begging questions is beyond me), McEnroe pointed out Roddick has basically written off the French long ago. He shows because he has to, but has no serious designs on ever actually competing there full force, let alone try to win it. You can bet Blake feels the same. Seems Querry takes clay more seriously. Ginepri should – his game & fitness ought to pay off very well there.

But basically, and I know you love the guy, Roddick basically gives the French a pass in every way.


Von Says:

Voicemale1:

Thanks for sharing. I saw that interview, approx. 3 hours ago.(BTW, I liked Johnnie Mc’s suit, and I wonder how many Gs he paid for that, very snazzy, what do you think?) Yes, sadly I agree with Johnny Mc and it’s one of the reasons I mentioned at the beginning of the FO that Roddick is not even in the conversation. I do like him, but I’m not a blind fan, however, despite it all, I take him with his faults and good qualities. I jest when I say don’t count Roddick out, but I know it’s not a reality. I think Andy says quietly, ala, Federer, “Thank God the ‘clay’ season is over’. LOL. What’s really even more sad, is that Andy can play on clay, if he were to put more time into the clay season.

I’d hazard a guess that his mind-set borders on the incident at the FO where he got badly injured when he initially turned pro. I don’t know whether it psychologically damaged him and has produced some degree of fear, if so, then I suppose it’s understandable. However, he should live by the creed of ‘when you fall off a horse’, you should get right back on and conquer. It would have been very good for Roddick if he had put more emphasis on the clay season, because there are a lot of points to be earned. Each MS has 1,000 points, and it’s why Nadal has been able to climb in the rankings, cleaning up all of the titles.

I agree that Sam is the only one who has shown some interest on clay, and James is a lost cause. But I wouldn’t discount Ginepri, considering he was coached by Higueras, and as you mentioned, his game suits clay. The Bryans like clay and most decidedly want to win the FO, having lost two finals. They’re getting older and Nestor and Zimonjic will have something to say about them reaching another final.

Whatever happened to Donald Young? Gosh, he has been a terrible disappointment, not to mention Isner, who I recently heard had to withdraw, due to mono. Scoville Jenkins seems to have dropped off the radar.

I don’t know whether you heard Johnnie Mc mention that his brother Patrick, and Higueras are working with the younger players to help them to improve and be be better all court and all surface players. That said, I think there’s hope for the next crop of Americans, but sadly not the present group of players, except maybe Sam Querrey.


jane Says:

P-Mac has come up with a hybrid “perfect clay court” player to defeat Nadal. If you click on each of the neon balls / icons for the different categories / shots, you’ll see which player PMac picks for each one: for example, he picks Djoko’s backhand, Roddick’s serve, Murray’s mental abilities, Fed’s volleys, and so on and so forth; here’s the link:

http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/flash/perfectclayplayer


Giner Says:

jane Says:

“P-Mac has come up with a hybrid “perfect clay court” player to defeat Nadal. If you click on each of the neon balls / icons for the different categories / shots, you’ll see which player PMac picks for each one: for example, he picks Djoko’s backhand, Roddick’s serve, Murray’s mental abilities, Fed’s volleys, and so on and so forth; here’s the link:”

I would take Karlovic’s serve over Roddick’s. Roddick has the fastest serve, but a good serve is about more than just speed. It’s also placement and accuracy. Karlovic really does have the best (overall) serve in the game and always did. Combine that with Sampras’ Second serve and all you have to do is get one break of serve to win a set (you are virtually unbreakable).

Does Del Potro really have the best return of serve? If it was a big serve I would take Fed’s who gets his racquet on a lot of balls by blocking it back and keeping himself in the point. But since the target is Nadal, you don’t need a guy who can get the ball back in play, you need a guy who can punish that serve, and for that I would take Agassi.

For forehand I would take Gonzo over Verdasco. Verdasco’s is inferior to Nadal’s. Gonzo when he was under Larry Stefanki exhibited very controlled aggression. His forehand was still as lethal as ever, but he used it smartly rather than pulling the trigger on every shot and missing half the time. He only went for it when there was an opening, and when there wasn’t one, he would bide his time until he could set up a forehand and then unload. After Gonzalez, I’d take Federer’s forehand.

P-Mac chose Murray for mental. Sorry, but nah. The guy is a slow starter, and he allows small things to bother him (like a plastic wrapper floating behind the umpire’s chair). He can’t get his mind off it and let it go to concentrate on the game either. And in the wind when things weren’t going his way, he self destructed instead of finding a way to overcome the obstacle. Take Lleyton Hewitt’s mind instead.

For backhand he chose Djokovic. A very good backhand, but I like Nalbandian’s the most, followed by Safin, Hewitt, and Ferrero. Djokovic and Murray both rank among the guys named but I don’t know where precisely to place them.

For speed he chose Davydenko. I don’t watch the guy enough to really observe his speed, but he hasn’t really been reputed for his speed. Coria was fast, as is James Blake, and Lleyton Hewitt used to be. Federer is not bad in this department either.

I am sure there are better volleyers to be found than Federer if you look at the doubles players. Even Hewitt I thought volleyed better than him. Only thing is, Hewitt never came into the net. I’ll accept his other picks.

Also, keep in mind that similar compositions of players were made on how to beat Federer once. I think it was Tim Henman who suggested the idea. (paraphrasing) “Roddick’s serve, Agassi’s return of serve, with my volleys, and Hewitt’s tenacity and speed, etc.. but that’s a lot of guys involved in one player.”


Giner Says:

P-Mac: “No one wins more cheap points on his serve than Andy Roddick.”

WRONG. Ivo Karlovic just served 51 aces, not counting service winners. He routinely serves more aces than any other player in an entire Slam tournament while losing in the 2nd or 3rd round. I believe in one match he served more aces than Nadal in his entire Australian Open 2009.

At the moment Roddick is leading the chart with 333 aces in 31 matches. Karlovic is second at 324 (though those figures don’t include the 51 he just served against Hewitt), and he did this in only 21 matches. Nadal is 37th place even though he has played 43 matches — the most of any player.

Another underrated guy who I forgot to mention is Chris Guccione. He doesn’t play many matches because he sucks (he is another one that can’t do anything other than serve good). He is a lefty though. I have seen him enough to conclude that his serve is the second best in the world (behind Karlovic). Nadal played him for 11 games (5-6 on serve before Nadal retired) and called it the best serve he’d ever seen.


jane Says:

Giner,

I’d take Murray over Fed for returns, even Delpo or Djoko; when Fed blocks back returns he is often punished for that as they land short (esp. by Rafa!). I haven’t checked stats lately, but Fed has really dropped off in the return department in the last year or two but he has stayed high in the service stats. I think all 3 of the other so-called “big four” have better return stats than Fed (haven’t checked lately but last time I looked that was the case).

I don’t think P-Mac picked Agassi as he’s retired, and P-Mac was going with the current tour, but if he weren’t, I’d pick Andre too.

I should add that I don’t know that I agree with all of P-Mac’s choices either, just thought it was an interesting idea / article so I posted it …


Twocents Says:

Von,

I don’t blame Roddick a bit for not liking clay tennis — we Texans are too busy tidy up cow fertilizers to find time muddling around dirt, LOL! (No offense to anyone). Roddick is a real man: he wants to focus on his good slams: WO & USO, even though they’ve been on a five year wicked lease term to some Swiss. Roddick never yields. Kudos! We’ve won Alamo. We want a Lexington.

Got to run now. Just paste my old post from an earlier thread below:

“When federer lost the ‘09 AO, he said “This is killing me”. Hence, it would be logical to assume if he was being killed at that time by now he has one foot in the coffin and one on the tennis court, and the FO final between Nadal/Djoko or Murray/Djoko or Nadal/Murray will definitely ‘kill’ him, and the winner will have sealed it by driving the nail into his casket. LOL.”

And the band for the funeral is handy: Nadal the drumer (per NY Times :-))); Maria S singing “Ave Maria”; Fed himself playing piano from high above…The Phantom of the Tennis — is there, inside Pillippe (sp?) Chartier…

A friend at Frankfurt just sent me a translated German quote of Fed saying this after Madrid:

“Q:Do you think that you now have a realistic chance to triumph in Paris?

Fed: There is no ground to be euphoric, but, I am confident. Until the last year of my career, I am convivced that I can win Roland Garros.”

Von, I got a quick glance at Roddick’s Twitter. Funny stuff, that boy and his gal. No wonder he gets along well with Fed, the ever optimistic.


Fedfan Says:

If none of Fed’s attributes (except volleys!!, which is weird) are the best, then how come he has 13 slams (and ALL the other tons of records), while Gonzo, Murray, and other have none?

I would take Fed’s forehand and movement. His serve and volleys are pretty good too. His backhand has ONE vulnerability. He could also beef up on the fight-to-death attitude front. So fight-to-death attitude and backhand are what I would not take from Federer.

There is one very important part of the game – shot selection and strategy. Federer is miles above everyone else in that department. I would definitely take that from him. Only Agassi was like that.

Just like people are beating down on Fed a bit too much now – they are a bit too upbeat about Nadal. He will probably win the French this year, but is not winning any more slams this year. God, have you forgotten how many times he was close to being defeated at wimbledon over the last 3 years? And this year, with the roof and all, the court will be faster – that hurts Nadal…


Fedfan Says:

Nadal will probably get a couple more FO titles, but where is he going to get the other 5 to even equal Federer? He probably won’t win the US ever, its too fast a surface for him, and other players are coming up now.


tennis_fan Says:

Why bother with such a long write-up analyzing the men’s draw? Nadal won’t be defeated, unless he’s sick or injured.


Giner Says:

jane,

What Fed does well is get a lot of serves back from players like Roddick that would have been unreturnables to other players.

Out of the big 4, I’d say he is the best at returning big serves (not necessarily winning the point, but just avoiding being aced).

If there was a stat for “avoiding being aced” he’d be the leader I think. And he is the guy I would pick to defeat a Karlovic or Roddick without playing Roulette (triple tie breaks). Murray and Djoker wouldn’t do as good against players who ace a lot. When your opponent serves out of a tree, you’ll settle for just getting your return back in the court, even if it’s short.

However, since this is Nadal’s serve we’re talking about, Fed’s block return is not that necessary. Lleyton Hewitt has almost Agassi-like returns (though similarly he was also the opponent of the record holder of the highest number of aces served in a match). Nadal serves fewer than one ace per match on average since returns are his strength.

Nadal is still high on the charts for return stats.

If Nadal has a weakness it’s his volleys and the serve still needs improving. Fed should be using that short slice more often to draw him in. He does this a lot against other players he knows to be uncomfortable at the net. I’m not sure why he doesn’t do it against Nadal.


Giner Says:

Fedfan Says:

“Nadal will probably get a couple more FO titles, but where is he going to get the other 5 to even equal Federer? He probably won’t win the US ever, its too fast a surface for him, and other players are coming up now.”

You know what? That’s what people said about Wimbledon once. He’ll never win on anything other than dirt. Then it became “he’ll never win on hard courts.” After Australia it’s become US Open only. If he wins that it will be the indoor YEC. Keep moving the goal posts.

As for the other 5 slams.. The Australian Open doesn’t look too fast for him to win again. And he’s made the Wimbledon final 3 times in a row playing Federer better than anyone has done in the last 6 years. Surely he’s in the conversation to win that again? There are only 3 active players with a Wimbledon title: Federer, Hewitt, and Nadal. Sure other players are “coming up”, but they don’t have a Wimbledon title (or final) yet. A title already in the cabinet should count for something when discussing future title prospects, shouldn’t it?

I’m not saying he will win 13 slams, but he can’t be so quickly dismissed either. If he wins the French again this year, then I’m confident he can win it at least 2 more times (he’ll be turning 25 in 2011 — Federer continued to make RG finals when he was almost 27). His opponents have made inroads against him but not enough to derail him in a 5 setter. Djokovic is the only guy threatening him at RG and he is only a year younger, so as Nadal’s chances slim, so will Djokovic’s. If he wins 3 more French Opens (including this year) then he’ll be at 9. 4 more is not insurmountable.


Giner Says:

Fedfan Says:

“If none of Fed’s attributes (except volleys!!, which is weird) are the best, then how come he has 13 slams (and ALL the other tons of records), while Gonzo, Murray, and other have none?”

The reason is because his strokes are all very good but none of Fed’s strokes are the single best in the game. What he has is a good combination of great strokes in one package, making him an excellent all-round player. You can make a case that his forehand is the best as long as it’s not misfiring, but it’s not the biggest (Gonzo, Monfils) or heaviest (Nadal).

Fed’s serve is good but inferior to Karlovic’s. His volleys are good but inferior to Bob Bryan’s. His backhand is inferior to Gasquet’s single hander. And so on. Those who have a better stroke than him have inferior strokes somewhere else making them overall inferior players to Fed.

What P-Mac is doing is making a composition of single strokes and strengths to form a character that is the amalgamation of the world’s best strokes in one player. Realistically it’s very unlikely such a perfect player could ever exist. A player who has a really good serve will spend a lot of time practicing it to get it that good, at the expense of other shots. Karlovic is not a very good returner for instance, and Roddick’s return game is clearly not as good as his serve. They chose to distribute the time they work on areas of their game differently.

Fed is very well rounded, not having any major weaknesses. If you could take one killer shot from each player who worked hard on that shot, wouldn’t you create the ultimate player that can beat anyone? No shot or facet of that player’s game would be inferior to Nadal’s or Federer’s. But that’s why it’s only a thought experiment. It won’t exist for real. A player who has no weaknesses cannot be the best at everything they do unless they had unlimited time to work on every area of their game (which they don’t).


jane Says:

Giner “Murray and Djoker wouldn’t do as good against players who ace a lot. ” I don’t know that I agree. Murray has a good record against Karlovic and Roddick. I still think that presently Murray is a better returner than Federer. I think Nadal and Djoko may be as well. Check the stats.

I am not saying Fed isn’t a great all-round player; of course he is! I am just going with P-Mac’s “perfect clay court” player and I’d pick one of those other guys returns.


Von Says:

TwoCents:

“I don’t blame Roddick a bit for not liking clay tennis — we Texans are too busy tidy up cow fertilizers to find time muddling around dirt, LOL! (No offense to anyone). Roddick is a real man: he wants to focus on his good slams: WO & USO, even though they’ve been on a five year wicked lease term to some Swiss. Roddick never yields. Kudos! We’ve won Alamo. We want a Lexington.”

You’re funny re the Texans and the fertilizers. LOL. Even though I’d like for Roddick to gain some points on clay, I don’t want to see him hurt, e.g., at the FO in 2002(?) and last year in Rome, which caused him to be laid up for two months. I don’t think it’s worth it to play if there’s a high possibility of him being injured, so forget clay. Today he fell and scraped up his knees and knuckles, and no one was around to kiss his boo boos to make them all better. How terrible! LOL.


Fedfan Says:

Giner,

Lets talk after wimbledon this year. we can see who is better at analyzing and predicting. My prediction? Nadal is NOT going to win wimbledon this year. What’s yours?


Fedfan Says:

And let me also provide another prediction. Nadal is not going to win the US Open this year.

It took a lot of luck and Federer’s lapses for Nadal to win the Wimbledon last year and AO this year. This things don’t happen all the time.

He dominates the FO, that’s why he wins every year. The other two slams he won, he just scraped thru. barely. that doesn’t happen very often.


Giner Says:

Fedfan Says:

“Giner,

Lets talk after wimbledon this year. we can see who is better at analyzing and predicting. My prediction? Nadal is NOT going to win wimbledon this year. What’s yours?”

Sorry, I don’t have an opinion yet. It’s hard to call. Give me until the week after Halle/Queen’s. If he wins the French Open again, I’ll be inclined towards yes.

“It took a lot of luck and Federer’s lapses for Nadal to win the Wimbledon last year and AO this year. This things don’t happen all the time.”

In my opinion Fed is in worse form this year than he was last year with Mono. Sure he has a Madrid title, but his psyche has to be hurt after so many consecutive losses to Murray, Nadal and now Djokovic. He feels more vulnerable than he did, whether he will admit it or not.

“And let me also provide another prediction. Nadal is not going to win the US Open this year. ”

A sound prediction, no real arguments. But what would be more helpful than a YES/NO would be if you could put a probability on it. What chance would you give him to win/lose? 40/60? 30/70? I give him close to 50/50 for both slams.

I don’t think Federer will win the US Open. I give him 35% chance of winning and 65% chance of losing.


Fedfan Says:

I think Fed will win the Wimbledon this year. I am not very positive about his chances at the US though. I think we will have a new champion at the US.

I could try and assign probabilities. However, at the end, the outcome is discrete – yes or no. Doesn’t matter if I said 60% or 80% – if I am right I am right, otherwise I am wrong.

Wimbledon center court is faster this year. It will be dry – in past years, the rain slowed it down. I don’t see anyone beating Fed at the Wimbledon this year.

French is really difficult for anyone but nadal. Nadal has to have a really bad day, or injury, or sickness, to lose.


Skorocel Says:

Fedfan said: “It took a lot of luck and Federer’s lapses for Nadal to win the Wimbledon last year and AO this year. This things don’t happen all the time.”

Lucky? LOL! The truth is, it was Fed who was lucky that their SW19 final ended in 5 rather than 3 sets…


Fedfan Says:

in 2007 wimbledon, kendrick almost beat nadal in a 5 setter in the second round. Nadal had many such escapes in his 3 years at wimbledon when he reached the finals.

Its not going to happen this year. the court will br drier and faster.

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