Federer, Murray 3-set Winners at ATP Finals Openers
by Staff | November 22nd, 2009
  • 135 Comments

World No. 1 Roger Federer and home-country favorite Andy Murray held their ground, if not a bit shakily, on the opening day of play at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London.


Federer recovered from a slow start to defeat left-handed Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 7-5, 6-1, while Murray likewise needed three sets to subdue US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

Federer has won the season-ending championship four times, and is attempting to become only the second player (Ivan Lendl in 1989) to take back the year-end No. 1 ranking after losing it the previous year.

“I was down a set, and only the second set was I able to sort of get the ball into play, find my range, find my rhythm,” said Federer, who has been plagued by an erratic forehand during the end of 2009. “I got a little bit lucky maybe to get through in the second set. At the end in the third set I played great.”

Against Murray, Del Potro needed a medical timeout in the first set to treat a nose bleed, later saying it is an ongoing problem he deals with.

“I have a big nose, that’s the problem,” he said. “It’s just bleeding. I don’t know why.”

Murray is reveling in the home-court advantage.

“When I got close to winning at the end of the match, the atmosphere was excellent,” Murray said. “That’s going a make a big difference going into the next couple of matches.”

In the doubles, Poland’s Mariusz Frystenberg and Marcin Matkowski, the No. 8 seeds, upset top seeds and defending champions Daniel Nestor/Nenad Zimonjic 6-4, 6-4. The Indian-Bahamian tandem of Mahesh Bhupathi/Mark Knowles also posted a “W,” defeating the Czech/Slovak pair of Frantisek Cermak/Michal Mertinak 6-3, 6-3.

On Monday in London, Rafael Nadal opens against his nemesis Robin Soderling, and Novak Djokovic takes on the Russian backboard Nikolay Davydenko. In doubles the Bryan brothers make their debut against the team of Mirnyi/Ram.

TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS

SERENA PROMOTES BOOK, TALKS TO ANYONE — From the chapped-lips-from-ass-kissing article on Serena Williams on FOX Sports by Lee Randall: “at first glance I’d say the woman before me was not merely serene but exalted, comporting herself like a goddess. Serena Williams is eating a late lunch and doesn’t rise or offer her hand to accompany hello. What she does instead is lift her plate off her lap, allowing her assistant access in order to cover her with a blanket…She may acknowledge her magnificence now, and rightly so, but it’s been a long, ongoing struggle to bolster her self-esteem…I am dying to ask, especially since she keeps playing with it: do you wear your own hair? “No, I don’t wear my own hair. My hair is actually super long, and I like short hair, but I don’t want to cut mine.” She erupts in a cascade of laughter, acknowledging the contradiction…After inscribing a lovely dedication in my book, she sees me to the door, where we stop and talk a bit longer.” — Alert the Pulitzer committee, we have a winner.

At the Illinois Challenger last week, rhymin’ Vince Spadea lost in the first round to a wildcard, Blake Strode, the 2009 NCAA semifinalist from Arkansas. Ouch. Keep on truckin’ Vincenzo…

33-year-old Canuck Frederic Niemeyer is retiring due to recurring elbow, shoulder and back injuries after 12 years on tour. He has been named to Tennis Canada’s development team and will coach top prospect Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ontario…

NADAL DIVORCE — Rafael Nadal on how his parents’ divorce affected him this year: “My parents’ divorce made an important change in my life. It affected me. After that, when I can’t play Wimbledon, it was tough. For one month I was outside the world. I am OK now, but you need time to accept. And it’s more difficult to accept when you are outside home and don’t know what’s happening. At least the injury gave me time to be with my friends and family. I played with less calm [at the French Open]. One of the reasons was the pain in the knees. And I was down because of the divorce. [Robin] Soderling played really well and he beat me. But I wasn’t ready, mentally or physically, this year.”

I’M BAKING BAGELS, COME AND GET ‘EM — American Vavara Lepchenko won the Phoenix Challenger, winning her final five sets of the event 6-0. Yes, you read that right.

WHA? — Isn’t it interesting how the major tennis writers (SI.com) have touted the ATP’s pre-WADA drug testing as rigorous (Judges were on the panel! Independent judges!), contrasted with Andre Agassi saying he simply wrote the ATP a letter saying he was sorry he did crystal meth, and then got let him off — but there is no meeting in the middle? And the ATP is silent on the subject? Guess this will just end with the old dot dot dot…

DENT IS BACK — Taylor Dent lost to Mike Russell in the all-American final at the Champaign (Ill.) Challenger, rising well into the Top 100 after beginning the year ranked No. 865. Dent is playing the Puebla (Mexico) Challenger this week…

Novak Djokovic has left adidas, signing a 10-year contract with Sergio Tacchini. He said, “My own idols Pete Sampras and John McEnroe have won almost all titles…wearing the Sergio Tacchini logo.”…


Also Check Out:
Djokovic, Murray Begin Play Wednesday In Paris; Berdych, Tsonga Win Openers
ATP Previews: Davydenko Opens vs. Safin in Moscow; Stockholm
ATP Previews: Nadal in Chile; Zagreb, Monpellier
Henin Pulls from Sydney; WTA Previews
Wozniacki, Clijsters, Kuzy at Eastbourne; ATP and WTA Previews

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135 Comments for Federer, Murray 3-set Winners at ATP Finals Openers

Gannu Says:

Pathetic display by federer..and thanks to a verdasco’s master “choke”, federer narrowly escaped… If he keeps shanking his forehand like the way he did for the first one hr or so murray will gobble him up.. Just hope that fedex finds his “true form” and wins..

The only positive i take from this match is fedex’s deep desire to win as evidenced in his shouts – “come on”.. Generally that doesnt come out soon

and that would be the single big driver in my view at this stage of his career.. So i hope the desire/fire to beat these youngsters and retain No 1 remains atleast till the end of this tournament for the time being ;-)..


andrea Says:

Novak Djokovic has left adidas, signing a 10-year contract with Sergio Tacchini. He said, “My own idols Pete Sampras and John McEnroe have won almost all titles…wearing the Sergio Tacchini logo.”…

interpretation: they are paying me way more money to wear their stuff.


Kimo Says:

You’re right on the money there andrea. Novak is a fine player but he’s obviously a sucker for money. But hey, at least it’s not like changing you’re racquet for money (oh wait…he did that last year).

TBH though, Adidas needs to learn a thing or two from Nike, and it looked like they’ve learned their lesson with Novak and Verdasco, so having Novak jump ship is not a good sign. Adidas dresses almost all its tennis players in the same outfit. I hate that.


madmax Says:

Gannu,

yes – this was a difficult match to watch for a federer fan – why does he do this to us? The first set, well I having a heart attack – then I calmed a bit when I saw how he was playing in the second set, he seemed to come alive – I always feel edgy when fed plays early rounds of masters event, because I think he is more vulnerable – I dont know why – I still feel a bit edgy in the slams in the early rounds, but – to me – he becomes a different beast in the slams -

I have no doubt that he wants to win this – doesnt everyone? And yes. I noticed the ‘C’MON’s!’ They really seem to fire him up big time – but he did well in his practise session with rafa – and he used to playing a lefty now, just not that comfortable with it, I think. As long as Federer has the motivation to win, then he has every chance of going far – he needs to up his game though with Murray – Murray always plays extremely well in masters events – best of three – but federer – well, it is not as if he cannot beat murray – he can – I just obviously want him to do it in straights and a lot more quickly to find his range and rhythm – it’s excruciating otherwise –

But, federer knows this and knows that he has to up the level if he is going to do himself justice tomorrow

C’MON! federer!


Gannu Says:

madamax
As a true fedex fan , u perfectly echoed my sentiments.. Yeps i also feel the same way going thru an emotional roller coaster watching these fedex matches.. But i guess its impossible for us to expect him to play like 2006-2007..

We have had our own share of happiness as a fedex fan this year and we need to be contended with that…Anything plus is a bonus…

So here is all the hope and prayers for fedex to lift this trophy.. ;-)


Voicemale1 Says:

Federer’s problem was what it has been more and more over the last 18-24 months: his movement, especially to his Forehand. He was getting there late way too often yesterday, which is why he shanked so many. As a result, he was hitting more defensively than offensively. Credit Verdasco though with some outstanding hitting and some great hustling. He was also successful in getting the ball up high to Federer’s back hand. But Verdasco’s moment of collapse came in the 2nd Set’s Game 11. Federer lobbed and Verdasco rather casually followed it back thinking it was going long. When it landed on the line he had to improvise with an ugly-looking half-smash half forehand shot which embarrasingly landed the ball on his own service line. He never recovered mentally from that shot, and Federer steamrolled after that. Shame too, because Verdasco hasn’t played that well since Australia. He was staying right with Federer and forcing Federer side to side with great success.

Agree Federer will need to step up in a big way, because Murray and Del Potro are much less likely to mentally check out.


David Says:

I thought Fed’s movement and defense were fine out there. There was a lot of misfiring on the forehand early on, but I just thought he was a bit tight. Just shows how much he wants this title, which is a very good thing for Fed fans and bad for everybody else.

I give Delpo about a 5 percent chance of winning the re-match here, so I don’t really think Fed has to step up in a big way. He might lose to Murray, but then beat him when it really counts in the final.


Gordo Says:

It is not insignificant that Federer came out of the gate awful but adjusted and won. Often in best of 3s he wins the first set and then the slump clicks in and his game – either his serve or his forehand desert him.

A strong finish in the 3rd set was probably what he needed.

Speaking of coming out of the gate badly – it is 3-0 Soderling already. Yikes. Nadal – what’s happening?


Long Live the King Says:

Wow! Soderling has come to play :) I still have Rafa winning this in 3.

For the night match ND in straights over ND. If it goes 3, the other ND will win ;)

For the record, I had murray in 3 yesterday and Roger in 2. Like DD said, I am just happy Roger won a 3 setter for a change. :)

Step it up Rog! We want THE FEDERER.


Blank Says:

We can rest assured that ND is going win tonight! ;-)


Long Live the King Says:

Haha… glad we resolved that one, blank :)


Blank Says:

lol…LLTK

Good to see Nadal back on serve. Too bad I can only follow the scores from here, at work :(


devastatingdjokovic Says:

And a flurry of errors to get Nadal back in the match before he was fully out of it. Stupid Sod.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

I gotta be honest, if Soderling stays consistent, Nadal can’t do anything. First serves and big forehands leave Nadal clueless and bewildered.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Soderling’s outfits are so lame. What happened to Nadal’s plaid shorts????? He goes from super cool shorts to plain white? Why????


rose Says:

come on nadal!!!..im rooting for rafa on this one..i want fire nadal back :)


devastatingdjokovic Says:

I think it’s safe to say Nadal’s stomach injury has passed. He’s serving quite well, already out acing Sod.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Neither one is playing incredibly well but Soderling is putting as much pressure as he can on Nadal. Nadal still doesn’t seem to know what to do. If anything, it seems like the longer the rally goes, the shorter Nadal’s shots get, and the more Soderling has to take advantage of. First set to Sod 6-4. He’s serving ahead again so if he keeps his nose in front, he may very well put this away in straights.


rose Says:

omg ..bad luck nadal..he had it ..40-30 game . hit an ace to finishs the game instead gets a bad call and loses the match/st ..wooowww..crazy..


Gordo Says:

In the event of ties in the win-loss column, having won a set can be important for Soderling, even if he doesn’t win a 2nd set today.

But should he defeat Nadal I think Mr. Nadal has an awfully tough road ahead.

Time – and the next hour or so will tell.


Long Live the King Says:

DD :

That required consistency against nadal is at a much higher level. Though admittedly he has done that on Nadal’s best surface.

Rafa is just so mentally strong. its never over with him till its over.

anyways, there goes the 1st set. come on rafa… lets take it to 3 :)


rose Says:

mr nadal gets a break ..i gotta say im loving seem him play inside the baseline.it is different considering that he is always 3 feet away from it


jane Says:

With Sod serving this poorly you’d think Rafa would be winning. He’s a just over 51% firsts, only 3 aces, 2 doubles and Rafa is a great returner.


Gordo Says:

Whew! What a game. Soderling can’t win the final point and Nadal can’t get the break opportunity!

Until now – but the Swede makes the save when he has to! we’ll see how pivotal this game is in the course of the match!


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Clutch hold for Soderling. That coulda been the turning point of the match. He kept his head up. Soderling is out to prove his victory was no fluke. LLTK, if Sod can do it on clay over 4 sets, then I think it’s a safe bet that he can be consistent over 2 or 3 sets on hard, against Nadal that is. Besides, don’t forget Nadal gets down on himself a lot faster these days. Sod is still in a good position for a straight sets win.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Jane, I don’t think Nadal is a great returner.


rose Says:

soderling took 12 minutes to hold his serve..woww..but at least he did..nadal showing frustration which you almost never see..nadal was always characterize for playing big in the key points haven’t show that in quite a while.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Sod’s serve is a lot like JMDP’s. That first delivery is just so heavy. Idk how anyone can return that, or get anything on it.


jane Says:

dd: Look at the Stat leaders for the year; Rafa is number 1 for Return games won.


rose Says:

oh gosh im rooting for nadal but i feel like the Sweden is gonna win this match…nadal haven’t show up in the big points..and playing his own serve very shaky sometimes


devastatingdjokovic Says:

I’m not saying he’s a bad returner, I just don’t think his particular return of serve is all that great. Nadal just happens to be super at working his way into a point. Besides, when you get broken a lot you’re gonna have to break a lot to win the match.


Kimo Says:

Whatever happens in this match, the Sod has proven beyond any doubt that what happened at RG was no fluke.

I’m not saying Soderling is better than Rafa. Far from it. He’s just the Anti-Rafa, same whay Rafa is the Anti-Fed even though he’s not better than Fed.


NachoF Says:

Soderling wins. again


jane Says:

I guess that’s technically the first “upset” although in some ways it’s not a huge surprise. I feel happy for Sod but a little sad for Rafa too. It’s been a tough year for Nadal, with the personal stuff and the injury.


Dan Martin Says:

The #1 ranking drama is not 100% settled, but if my math is correct Rafa has to win out and Federer has to lose his 2 remaining round robin matches to see a change at the top. I was hoping we’d have a semifinal match between the 2 with #1 on the line, but I think players outside of those two are apt to be the story at this event when it ends.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Wow. Soderling is not going away any time soon. Great win for him. I’m not sure what to say about how this loss will affect Nadal. This is by far his best loss since RG. He wasn’t crushed or anything, he had his chances, but Sod was better on the day. Is that a good sign for Nadal or a bad one? I don’t know. But Djokovic and Davydenko should be grinning right now about their matches with Nadal. Soderling was quite pleased with himself.


Kimo Says:

Fed has now sealed the no.1 ranking. Yay!


O-Kerr Says:

The straight loss is not good sign for Nadal’s future. May be not the end but surely something to be concerned about. Soderling solidifies his new stardom. He may have a chance to reach the semifinal.


Dan Martin Says:

Kimo I think he will seal the #1, but is it sealed just yet? Federer was 945 points ahead coming into the event. He won 200 points and Rafa did not keep pace so that lead is 1145 points. Still if Rafa wins 2 RR’s he would get 400, wins the semi he would get 400 and the final to get 500 so he can still add 1300 to his total. Federer with 1 more win or 1 more Rafa loss will have sealed it.


Kimo Says:

Nadal is not gonna come out of the RR round. Davy is not gonna be easy, and there’s just no way he can beat Djoko at the moment.


Gordo Says:

YOW!!! Good for Soderling.

In the race to finish #1 at year end Federer now only needs 1 more win in the round robin


Kimo Says:

Your’e right, Dan. But given the circumstances, I don’t see how Nadal can qualiy to the semi. IMHO that we be a HUGE surprise.


rose Says:

i feel bad for nadal, i thought i would never say this but nadal is struggling mentally right now..he always had the magic hit. He looks so uncomfortable on court like he doesnt believe he belong there..he needs some mental days off from tennis and find himself again…he has the potential.


Kimo Says:

Rose, I agree with you. Rafa looked really frustrated out there. I think this is the first time ever that Nadal enters a tournament without thinking that he has a real shot at it.


scineram Says:

Having taken two months off this summer he cannot afford running away like chicken again. Roger did not, he just rebuilt himself.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

The fact that Nadal still has a shot is incredible. Someone mentioned in another thread that this year has been a Tale of Two Federers. That applies to Nadal so much more it’s not even funny. He started the year as the undisputed world number 1 and he’s finishing as the questionable world number 2. There’s no question that he’s earned his spot but can anyone really say Nadal is definitely the second best player in the world? Nadal’s chances in London are slim no matter what. He really is better off focusing on DC. Winning that could be just the remedy for him.


Gordo Says:

Other interesting ranking possibilities -

If Djokovic goes undefeated and wins this tourney then he will become #2 at year end.

If Fed wins one more round robin and goes on to win the tournament he will have a lead over Nadal of over 2000 points, should Nadal not advance to the semis. With Nadal defending the AO title (2000) points he might be on a steep decline.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Gordo, almost everyone has a chance to move up. I think Del Po blew his chances but Murray can still get to 3, Djoker to 2, and Nadal to 1. The problem is that the higher guys need to do really bad and the lower guys need to do really well. I think Djoker has the best shot at moving up considering his form vs Nadal’s form.

When did Nadal run away? Nadal could’ve easily come up with an excuse to pull out of the YEC, instead he’s playing against all the guys who have had a lot of success over him recently. He’s pretty much letting them add to it but still.


Kimo Says:

devastatingdjokovic, it was I who said the Tale of Two Federers thing. I said it because these days with Roger, you can’t really be sure which Roger will step onto the court. It changes dramatically from match to match, and even within matches.

But with Rafa, until RG we always knew how Rafa was going to play, i.e. great. And since RG, we always know how Rafa is gonna play, i.e. not so great. There are no major fluctuations in terms of his form. He had a really good first half of the season, and a really bad seconds half, which btw is not unusual for him even when he was at his best. He never does well in the fall season.


rose Says:

scineram}
aving taken two months off this summer he cannot afford running away like chicken again. Roger did not, he just rebuilt himself.
running away like chicken ..what do you mean ?.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Yeah but he usually doesn’t do well because of injuries. He’s said it himself that he’s fully fit. His form is the issue nowadays, not his body. Are you trying to say that this year isn’t a Tale of Two Nadals? It’s a slightly different tale for Federer, but still.


Long Live the King Says:

Wow! great job by soderling. He dint choke away like nando did yesterday! Gotta tip your hat to him. He really gets under Rafa’s skin unlike most others…. maybe berdych comes closest….

I guess Rafa just wants to get done with this stupid year! Things went horribly down from that madrid semi-final.

Soderling is so much fun to watch. I am sure Wilander is proud of his balls :D Well played Robin!


Kimo Says:

Ok, dd, I’ll agree with you that’s it’s a Tale of Two Nadals, but he brought it onto himself with bad scheduling in the first half of the season.

Regarding the injury, he might be physically 100% fit, but I’ve meantioned in a post after he pulled out of Wimdbledon that a part of him is always gonna be fearful of any future injury. You don’t see him running for EVERY SINGLE shot out there. In the back of his mind, subconciously, he doesn’t wanna turn his knees into Jell-O. He’s not injured now, but it’s his fear of injuries that’s holding him back.


been there Says:

Clearly, Soderling came to London to set the record straight about FO & in straight sets!! :))

Vamos Sod – Long live the rivalry. Now all Sod has to do is to is get his first win over Fed…hopefully in some 250 or 500 or at a final of any 1000 event so that it’s not too painful. haha.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

This is true, Kimo. He said he doesn’t wanna change his style but he’s kinda hindering it. He’d be better off changing his style simply because he’s afraid of going all out with it. I argued that he did a lot of bad scheduling but you can’t put all the blame on him. His dumbest mistake was Rotterdam. Honestly, he should’ve just tanked his opening match there. Instead he grinded it out to beat players like Tsonga and lose to Murray all in 3 sets. Playing so soon after the AO, that’s where his injury started. Everything else fell apart from there.


leo Says:

I would not count Rafa out just yet. Sure Djoko looked great in his last 2 events, but this is tennis and as Soderling proved this year at RG – anything can happen once the match starts.

Still hoping for Roger to find his best form. Murray will be tough.


rose Says:

i wouldn’t mind seem nadal losing but playing well and confident but something is not right.. ..somehow rafa is projecting this awkward vibes on court. he pretty much remodeled his whole body after the injury , his upper body strength is not that powerful, but i know that if he starts believing on his game, vintage nadal will come back to entretain us once more..a lot of the players improve almost at the same time, novak, JMDP, murray, cilic and even soderling and this makes it harder for the top two to continue on the the winning streak


Kimo Says:

leo said:

“I would not count Rafa out just yet. Sure Djoko looked great in his last 2 events, but this is tennis and as Soderling proved this year at RG – anything can happen once the match starts.”

Wishful thinking. If he beats Davy he won’t do it in straights, and he’s not beating Djoko anytime soon.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Nadal lost a lot of weight.

I’m not counting Nadal out, but just look at the guy when he’s playing. Talk about not enjoying tennis.

If Djokovic beats Davydenko in comfortable fashion, then that’d be a good indication that he’s still the guy to beat.


O-Kerr Says:

Until Madrid semifinal Nadal was indisputable number 1. Since then he has not beaten any top ten players besides Tsonga. Definitely in last 5 months or so Nadal is the least achieving player among top 7 except Roddick. In power ranking Nadal has been somewhere around numero 7 for some time now.


jane Says:

Nadal has never done well at this time of year or at the YEC; in some ways this is par for the course. He’ll be back next year, I think.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Except Roddick? Roddick reached the finals of a slam.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Jane, I don’t agree that Nadal’s never done well at the end of the year. He’s won Bangkok and Madrid. He’s reached the TMC semis twice. He’s made the finals of 2 other MS. He’s always had consistent results, just not other worldly results. The one problem that Nadal HAS always had was his injuries. This year, he’s not injured. So yes, he’s right on course with good, consistent but not stellar results. The problem is that before, fatigue played a big role in some of his losses at this time of the year. But when was the last time Nadal lost in 3 sets? Federer might have a crappy record in the 3 set but atleast he’s getting there. I think DC will be the medicine Nadal needs but it’s still hard to tell. If Nadal gets a crummy draw at the AO, who knows what’ll happen.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Rather unprofessional interview but I agree with Goran’s assessment. Soderling won already. Davydenko and Djokovic do play a similar game but Djokovic is in a higher league.


Kimo Says:

devastatingdjokovic said:

“But when was the last time Nadal lost in 3 sets? Federer might have a crappy record in the 3 set but atleast he’s getting there”

That’s a good point. I never thought about it before.


Polo Says:

Goran still gives the best interviews. Very quick wit. See that response when his phone rang? Thank you, Sar.


Voicemale1 Says:

Goran is exactly right about Nadal, who seems to be at a crossroads now. I’m glad he spoke about Nadal being mentally jarred by losing at The French – especially to a guy he’d just creamed three weeks before in Rome 60 61. Nadal is much thinner than he’s been in many years. And that burning desire isn’t there now. His only saving grace today was he lost trying something different: he stood almost squarely on the base line to Return Serve. Since that’s so antithetical to how he’s played for his whole life, it will take a lot of time before he gets a tactic like that ingrained into his muscle memory to make it as effective as he needs to. The question will be: can he stay committed to the changes he needs to make despite racking up losses he’s he’s been racking up in the last 6 months?


been there Says:

I don’t think anyone is counting Rafa out..it’s impossible to do so ‘coz firstly it’s Rafa!! & also it’s round-robin format & this is just one match. Only that this is probably the most painful loss he can have in London just ‘coz it’s the Sod.

This is what Rafa said last week per the guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/nov/17/rafael-nadal-interview-atp-world-tour-finals

Severe tendinitis and the collapse of his parent’s marriage undermined Nadal’s composure at Roland Garros. “I played with less calm. One of the reasons was the pain in the knees. And I was down because of the divorce. Soderling played really well and he beat me. But I wasn’t ready, mentally or physically, this year.”

————————

Not being ready mentally or physically is definitely true…after all, it’s the nature of the game. But Rafa is a super-star, so we get to know what’s going on in his relatives lives thanks to the paparazzi & sometimes info from him if he chooses to elaborate. But I’m sure other players have these problems too..only that we don’t get to hear about them, or we hear, but no big deal is made of them, e.g. the passing away of J.Jankovic’s grandmother at USO. Nobody knows what personal problems a Soderling, a Stepanek, a Monfils etc go through – we just know of injuries which have to be reported to the ATP, & even then, no hoopla. No one cares if there loss is due to an injury or whatever.

Going forward, I think the key for Rafa and his team is to accept that he has a problem with players like Soderling, Cilic & Del.P when it’s not clay. Despite FO early loss & until I see otherwise, Rafa’s still the clay king. The pattern is now clear. He dominated previously, but times have changed….now that they’ve improved…they are very dangerous players. Especially the Sod, he’s always had the game but the mind was absent. Now Magnus Norman has worked his magic & the FO win given his so much confidence…as some commentator said during the USO while playing Fed..’If Soderling could bottle that confidence and sell it, he’d make millions’

The problem with these top players however, i.e. Rafa & Fed, is that they are so stubborn…’coz their games work most of the time, it takes a number of good spankings before they accept that they need to change. Once Rafa accepts it in the mind, then he can work on strategy and come back to his regular winning ways against these players. Until then, he’ll be winning some, but losing a lot more to these powerful flat hitters.


sar Says:

You can see his “predictions” every morning here:

http://www.barclaysatpworldtourfinals.com/Multimedia/Channels.aspx?gt=Barclays+Baseline&q=Barclays+Baseline

or just go to atpworldtour.com videos and search ivanisevic


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Voicemale1, despite the scoreline, the general consensus was that the 6-0 6-1 match between Rafa and Sod was probably the closes 6-0 6-1 match ever. But yeah.


David Says:

I don’t think that if Rafa plays well in Davis Cup that will make any difference as far as his chances on hard courts.

There’s just a severe match-up problem that Rafa’s dealing with right now, and it used to be just Djokovic. But now there are a bunch of players who can hammer flattish balls off both sides with two-handed backhands and he just has no answer for that off of clay.

The only way he can challenge at a hard-court major, I think, is to get another golden draw like at last year’s AO, but that’s really asking a lot. How can he go through a whole tournament without having to play Djoko, JMDP, Soderling, Cilic, Davydenko,etc? All of those players have to be considered the favorite against Rafa on hard courts. Maybe grass too. I’m not convinced that Rafa is still the No. 2 grass court player, but that remains to be seen.


David Says:

Gannu

It’s not a big surprise that Fed struggled in the early going. It’s got to be tough to get comfortable at what’s basically a new event for everybody. That was the first match he had ever played on that court and it showed.

The level he showed in the 3rd set is too good for the other players in this tournament.


David Says:

dd

That Nadal win over Soderling was the best display of defense I’ve ever seen in 30 years of watching tennis.


steve Says:

Nadal’s weapon is the topspin. It keeps errors low, because topspin shots dip at the last minute and land in the lines. And it serves to wear down his opponents, who find it difficult to return such heavily-spun shots.

The inefficiency of Nadal’s game (i.e., the fact that he has to hit so many shots to win a point) is a feature, not a bug. It’s how he grinds down his opponents.

Lose that and you lose what makes him such a formidable player.

If he wants to beat these power players like Soderling and Del Potro, he’ll have to mix up the pace a lot more and hit many more winners. That would mean he would have to become a totally different player.


andrea Says:

well so much for the suspense. with nadal’s loss the whole #1 ranking issue seems to be dissapearing. i watched some highlights of the soderling/nadal RG match last night for old times sake. talk about some ball smacking by both players.

but nadal fought to the end. his gets are truly unbelievable.


O-Kerr Says:

Nadal said he thinks the contest is virtually over. “I think the chances I have are not to be No. 1. My level right now I think is not to be No. 1.” On why he lost today, “I think I didn’t play really bad. I played okay. But in the important moments, I didn’t have the necessary calm, so I had few mistakes. He is a big player on this surface, so [it] is difficult. If you are not completely calm and playing very well in that moment, it’s really difficult to win, and today I didn’t play in this way in those moments.”
Soderling, asked about his suspect temperament, which was a feature of his game perhaps until his victory over Nadal at RG, said: “It’s getting better. I had some problems in the past with injuries and I’ve played much more consistent this year. Last year was good but this year is the best I’ve ever had.” Jubilant, he cautiously looks forward, “Overall it was a really good match so I am very happy. It’s a long way to go, but I have got off to a good start. I will take each match at a time and see if I can be here on Sunday.”


devastatingdjokovic Says:

David, Davis Cup won’t suddenly solve all of Nadal’s problems but it could be just the emotional surge he’s looking for.


sar Says:

Oh Nikolay, I love you but not today.


funches Says:

What part of Nadal struggling was hard to understand for anyone who thought he would advance to the semifinals?

Seriously, he saved five matched points against Almagro and had to break Robredo to stay in the match at his last tournament. He got tooled by Cilic at the same place he won the gold medal last year. He got crushed by Delpo at the U.S. Open.

There are no Almagros or Robredos in the field this week.

The Davydenko match, at best, is 50-50. Unless Djokovic is tired from winning back-to-back tournaments, that match is 0-100.


Kimo Says:

funches, Davy beat Djoko a month ago and their H2H is 2-2, so why are u so confident?


Kimmi Says:

Davydenko gets the first blood.


Kimmi Says:

WHAT ! Djoko needs to wake up. Great set by Davy.


Kimo Says:

WOW. That was a really wierd set. Davy was the more consistent player, but it’s not like Djokovic is playing badly. All it took was a couple of really bad service games from Djoko for no apparent reason.


Daniel Says:

Djoko started at all cilinders, playing great. Davy hold a few deuce games and now takes the set 6-3 with another break. He is hardly missing any shots.
Well imagine if he wins, Djoko and Nadal will make the survival match next wednesday. I guess nobody saw that coming!


Kimmi Says:

Andy Roddick in the House…he gets a nice applause


Kimo Says:

Daniel, I saw Rafa’s loos to Soderling ever since I knew Roddick was pulling out of the WTF. Davy can beat Djoko just as Djoko can beat Davy, so I can’t say I picked a favorite to win this match.

But I think if Rafa has any chance of getting past the RR stage, and I don’t think he does, Djokovic has to lose this match against Davy.


Kimo Says:

This is the best serving display I’ve seen from Davy. Ever. He’s constantly serving in the mid-to-high 120s, and he’s picking his spots too.


O-Kerr Says:

Despite dominating points, Djokovic is nervy, hesitant, and unsure, therefore missing at crucial moments and unable to convert break chances. Kolya may run away with straight set win if the Serb does not gain his mental composure quickly and if he does not find his range in those important moments.


sar Says:

Good, that cheater Ullrich.


Kimmi Says:

Dvaydenko needed a doctor..does not bode well for him. Especially now he just got broken


sar Says:

2-1 davy in second set and they showed Roddick on the screen. Maybe Roddick helped Djok. Net cord made difference. This reminds me of the Fed/Ver match yesterday. Ullrich is an idiot.


Long Live the King Says:

DD:

@ your 11:59 post, when did rafa win bangkok? You mean beijing?


Kimmi Says:

Djoko looks to run away with this one now.


jane Says:

I just got back to my office; see Djoko is grinding here or what? This ND / ND thing is confusing as I can’t tells whose stats are whose. LOL. Anyhow, come on Djoko!


sar Says:

Koenig and Goodall quiet. I think they are going to kill themselves


sar Says:

Jane you need to quit your job so you can watch these matches.


sar Says:

Hold your serve, please


jane Says:

Oh good god, I hate watching when Djoko is struggling with his serve. Luckily I have only scores right now, so it’s not quite as nerve-wracking.

sar – lol, I am not sure I want to quit my job to watch tennis! I actually like my job.

YAY HE HELD! Now if only he could break again, then he’d have insurance and would only, ostensibly, have to serve it out. (I say only quite cheekily.)

Does anyone know which ND is which on the stats? In other words, does Djoko have 6 aces or 2?


Long Live the King Says:

2


jane Says:

Thanks LL – I figured that out eventually. Sheesh. If only Novak could get his serve firing more consistently. Davy is no easy out, mind you. I hope Novak can hold once more. Not looking good right now at love-15.


jane Says:

love-30 now arrrgh


jane Says:

15-40 oh crap…


Kimmi Says:

davydenko.what a backhand


Maso Says:

Love-40 on Davydenko’s serve… Looks like Djoko could take the match back in hand.


Kimmi Says:

And davy followed up wit a very poor service game


Long Live the King Says:

Gollum is insane! God! he does not get enough credit. Great to see him turn up for work every day.

He has turned this match into a war. 2hrs n 40mins :) Well done Gollum.

no offense to davydenko’s FAN.


jane Says:

He indeed made a war of it – not giving an inch making Djoko earn every point. Well done Djoko for grinding it out and finding a way! Or more like … phew!


Kimmi Says:

Congrats Djoko..davy great job but not to be today.


jane Says:

I like Jason Goodall & Robbie Koenig as commentators.


jane Says:

Who does Djoko face then – Rafa now or Sod? I am not sure how this works. Do winners face winners, or winner/loser, winner/loser?


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Djokovic and Davydenko are incredible players. Despite their shortcomings mentally and at net, they are the masters if the ground game. Any aspiring juniors should develop both sides the way of these two.

Lltk, I think I meant Bangkok. He won it over Coria in 05.


jane Says:

Who does Fed play tomorrow? Murray or Del po? And who plays Tobasco?


Long Live the King Says:

DD:

That’s Beijing.

Jane:

Winner plays winner. so fed plays murray at night.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Fed vs Murray tomorrow. This event really is living up to expectations and then some.


jane Says:

Yes, Fed vs. Murray should be a cracker! I think Rafa will have his hands full with Davy, & Djoko definitely will with Sod (they had a battle in Paris after all). Heck, even JMDP/Tobasco could be good if they are both playing well.

You’re right DD – this event is loaded with talented players.


Long Live the King Says:

4 matches all 3 setters :) wish they were best of 5 ;)


devastatingdjokovic Says:

Is it just me or is group B slightly more unpredictable than group A? I mean like, chances are Murray and Fed will come out of A but who knows who will cone out of B? (Djoker and Sod)

Ok then Beijing, it doesn’t change my point.


jane Says:

Wasn’t Rafa’s in straight sets?


Kimmi Says:

Fed/Murray match is becoming like Fed/Rafa in the UK..the brits are hyping this match big time.


sar Says:

Jane, don’t quit your job. Sometimes it’s better to watch scores. Djokovic had a crap serve today. I think Davy is always a problem for him. They traded shirts at the net. Nice touch. I hope Kolya wins the next two because I really like him. I really am surprised Djok pulled it out.I guess Novak wanted to get even for Shanghai.


sar Says:

Tenisbebe, where are you?


jane Says:

sar – LOL, no I don’t think I will quit. I read about the shirt exchange. It doesn’t sound good for Djoko, as he says he’s exhausted. Also I read this about Davy:
——————————————–
Davydenko called for the doctor in the second set and revealed afterwards he was again troubled by breathing problems that have dogged him throughout the indoor season.

He said: “Some doctors say maybe asthma, some say maybe allergy, some say bronchitis. I really don’t know. If you see all the matches that I lose in three sets, that feeling happened like this.”
———————————————–


O-Kerr Says:

Murray scoffs at the suggestion that he switch to aggressive style.
Greg Rusedski, the former British No 1, and Barry Cowan, best known for extending Pete Sampras to a fifth set at Wimbledon in 2001, have both claimed that Andy Murray needs to attack more to become a Grand Slam champion– but their arguments drew a withering response from the Scot.

“Yeah, who are these ‘experts’?” Murray asked, rhetorically. “Barry Cowan? Greg Rusedski? I think I know more about tennis than Barry and Greg. I work very hard with my coaching team to come out with the right game-plan. I’ve been told a lot of times that I’m very astute.
“You don’t get to be No 2 in the world at anything if you’re one-dimensional. If I go out at the O2 Arena playing ultra-aggressive and lose all three of my matches, people would say, ‘What are you doing?’

“Regardless of what people think, if I don’t win a major tournament in my career I will still have enjoyed the way I played. I think it’s different to what most other players are doing.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/andymurray/6623441/Andy-Murray-hits-out-at-Greg-Rusedski-and-Barry-Cowan-ahead-of-ATP-World-Tour-Finals.html


blah Says:

Murray is an idiot.


ines Says:

What a cocky and pathetic guy is Murray, of course you have to win G.S. to be at the top of the ranking. Serena has so many Slams and Safina was N1,incredible, the worst N1 in years,
and Murray saying “I´ve been told I´m very astute”, hope Roger will beat this cocky guy, Roger please…


MMT Says:

Voicemale1 Says: “His only saving grace today was he lost trying something different: he stood almost squarely on the base line to Return Serve.”

I noticed this as well – as a matter of fact, I think this is the key to Nadal prolonging his career – he won’t last at the top playing the way he has for the last 5 years – he has to stay on the baseline and dictate a little more. It’s a question of breaking bad habits that have worked out for you in the past, and it’s hard to do, but I think he can. However, he will probably lose quite a few matches unexpectedly playing this way as he grows accustomed to relying less and less on his legs and core.

jane Says: “I like Jason Goodall & Robbie Koenig as commentators.”

I gotta say Jane, I’m quite impressed with this comment – I mean nobody in the media has been harder on Djokovic than Robbie Koenig and Jason Goodall isn’t that far behind, but you’re still able to appreciate them as commentators. Their comments are always very pertinent. Leif Shiras is a nice guy, but not particularly analytical, and Jimmy Arias is a bit hit or miss – every once in a while he shows his ignorance (like not knowing the challenge rule very well), but his analysis is surprisingly good for a guy who made his living hitting it as hard as he could all the time?

Speaking of Arias, you know he was one of the original Bollettieri whiz kids to make it “big” on tour – it was Arias, Carling Bassett (Seguso) and Aaron Krickstein from 1983 – 1985. Paul Annacone is also a Bollitieri kid, but he’s more known as Sampras’ coach than a player (although he did beat John McEnroe in the 1st round of the US Open in 1986). Rodney Harmon was a product of the Bollettieri Academy as well (he coached the US Olympic team and you see him sometimes on Tennis Channel Academy and Best of Five programs – he reached the US Open quarterfinal in 1982 and lost to Connors after beating Brian Teacher and Elliot Telscher (in 5 sets, no less).

Of course, they all paled in comparison to one Andre Agassi, but Arias reached as high as #5 in the world, if I’m not mistaken, in 1984.

But I digress

O-Kerr – I actually agree with Cowen and Rusedski – they may have been average and slightly above average players, but they’re not complete idiots, and they are correct that Murray, like Djokovic and Nadal, have tendency to play too far behind the baseline, although Murray has gotten much better at dictating points, and I think it’s why he’s a better player.

As a matter of fact, his mother commented that Federer’s rather dismissive assessment of his game after losing to him in Dubai in 2008 spurned him to make changes to his game that would allow him to take the initiative more than he does naturally.

I guess he doesn’t like taking advice from players with less success than him, but that’s pretty much the case with almost every coach of top 25 players on tour.


jane Says:

MMT, Thanks. Well, it’s not like I am blind to Djoko’s faults as a player and/or human. He can play great tennis, like in Paris vs. Rafa, but he can also struggle. And if commentators call him out, so what. Maybe it’ll help him, if he listens. I think he is the type to be open to suggestions. After all, he brought in a new trainer, he still has Vjada and now he’s got Martin. I like that. I think he is open to constructive criticism, and as a tennis fan, I too like to listen to commentators who tell it like it is, and have analytical reasons for it. These two also complimented Djoko on his fight today, noting that he wanted the win that bit more and thus he got it. I don’t like listening to commentators who repeat the same crap over and over, and/or who fawn all over a player. Just the facts Jack, including the praises and the criticism.


devastatingdjokovic Says:

What did the commentators say? And why did Davy and Djoker switch shirts?

Arias actually revolutionized the forehand. He was the first person to follow through completely.


madmax Says:

MMT,

your post was amazing – so many experienced and learned posters here –

I think that Cowan’s highest ranking was something like World No. 369 – unless my spies are wrong?! I have only ever heard of him as a commentator – for sky sports –

We get the same over here (UK) in terms of commentators supporting their fave player (arent they supposed to remain unbiased?), its always murray over here -

I thought that Fed (being world no. 1), should have kicked off the singles match on Sunday ? instead, it was Murray – totally disrespectful in my view –

it’s always interesting to hear how gushing they are when they discuss murray (especially cowan), ugh! Try to stay unbiased would be more helpful – I’ll probably watch the match with fed v murray but put volume on zero -


jane Says:

DD: I only got the streaming at the very end of the match today, so I didn’t hear all of the commentary; I thought the commentators were fine, though, and didn’t say anything overly negative. I think MMT is referring to other instances in which Koenig has been critical of Djok, but as I say, it doesn’t bug me much.

As for the switching shirts post-match at the net, I dunno. I’ve seen other players do this, and I’ve seen Djok do it with Ljubicic before too. I guess it is a sportsmanlike gesture – like a symbol of a good battle or something? But this is speculation; I have no idea.


jane Says:

I guess soccer players swap jerseys at the end of a game.


sensationalsafin Says:

That’s gross. Why would you want your opponent’s sweaty shirt? I don’t even want my sweaty shirts!!


scineram Says:

I guess they like football as I do.


sar Says:

Poor Davy, if he has asthma. I know Novak would understand this.

They said Nestor better pick up the pace as he hasn’t been good in London.

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