Spaniards and a Swede Win, Djokovic Needs to be More Like Roddick
by Ben Pronin | February 14th, 2010, 11:15 pm
  • 114 Comments

Rotterdam, The Netherlands: After a disappointing start to the year, it’s nice to see Robin Soderling in the winner’s circle. He played well throughout the week and probably would’ve gone on to win even if Mikhail Youzhny hadn’t retired. It’s funny how so many people expected Nikolay Davydenko to beat Soderling, me included, but he fell in straight sets. Soderling matches up well with Davydenko but Davydenko is the master of best of three set matches! That’s tennis for you. But I’d like to see Soderling deliver in the big events. The North American Masters are starting soon and if Soderling flounders there, then perhaps it’s true that he’s just a flash in the pan. Hopefully that isn’t the case and he’ll showcase some awesome power tennis.

As for Davydenko’s compatriot, Youzhny played some great tennis in his win over World Number 2 Novak Djokovic. His backhand was firing from every part of the court and he came up with some incredible shots in the tie-breakers. But this is a terrible loss for Djokovic. When the match ended, the commentator gave a brief assessment of the match by saying Djokovic played sub-par, but then he corrected himself. Djokovic played a pretty typical match for himself but definitely not his best. That’s how I felt, too. Djokovic played well, controlled plenty of points, but couldn’t come up with the goods the way Youzhny could. Djokovic’s current rank has been mostly occupied by two particular players who made a living off winning on their decent days. It’s really time for Djokovic to step up. Throughout the match, his facial expression seemed to say the same thing I was thinking: “With all this talent, how can he be finding so many ways to lose?” Two tournaments, two easy draws, two close losses when he’s pushed.

San Jose, California: As hard as it is to believe, this is Fernando Verdasco’s biggest title. It may not have been overly start studded and his draw wasn’t filled with top players and slam champions, but he’s never beaten as good as Andy Roddick in a final. This was Verdasco’s third win in 12 matches against Roddick which means he had to overcome some mental demons as well. Like Soderling, Verdasco still needs to play better in the big events. He’s making a habit of doing well outside the top 10, but then putting his tail between his legs against the big dogs. So congratulations, Verdasco, on a good win over a big guy.

Speaking of Roddick, he must not have played a lot of tiebreakers before he turned pro because it’s as if though he’s trying to make up for lost time. But he played a terrific match against Sam Querrey. Querrey was definitely the better player for the most part, but Roddick played some brilliantly smart tennis and held his ground when he had to. I always love watching Roddick play for the very reason that he never goes down without a fight. If he doesn’t find a way to win, it’s because his opponent didn’t give him one.

Querrey and Djokovic both lead in the second tiebreakers of their respective semifinals. Querrey got a little nervous and was beaten by a more experienced player. Djokovic let his mistakes get to him and lost to a less experienced player. Querrey should be disappointed but no one expects this guy to be mentally tough against a top 10 player. Djokovic is number 2 in the world, so why did he look more like Querrey than Roddick?

Costa do Sauipe, Brazil: I’m against clay events during what should be a hard court season, but at least it gave me a chance to see some great tennis from former World Number 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero. Injuries really derailed his career and it’s a shame because his tennis is a sight to behold. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have enough game to really pose a threat to any of the top guys. He’s like Lleyton Hewitt, only it doesn’t look like he’s in denial about the game passing him.


Also Check Out:
Spaniards Nadal, Ferrer Reach Tennis Masters Semis; Federer v. Roddick Today
Tennis Replay Adds Spice
Soderling Avoids Choke, Upsets Murray; Roddick Rocks Robredo to Reach Indian Wells SFs
Davis Cup Wrap: Czechs at Croatia, Israel at Spain in Semis
Andy Roddick on Robin Soderling: He Hits So Big You’re at His Mercy [Video]

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114 Comments for Spaniards and a Swede Win, Djokovic Needs to be More Like Roddick

Michael Says:

It is indeed surprising that Soderling has just registered his first major triumph. Seeing his game, he has all the ingredients to stay in the top five given his power, dexterity and flamboyance. But he hardly does justice to his skill level and only the French Open opened the doors wide open for the Swede and he discovered that he indeed possessed the talents to give nightmare to top players. Particularly his type of game ill suits players like Nadal and he will always be a threat to him on any surface. He also enjoys whenever Davydenko is on the other side of the Court and their H2H tells it all. He did indeed proved that his French Open run was not a flash in the pan by coming into the quarters of Wimbledon and the fourth round of US where he could only be stopped by Federer. If the Swede does indeed manage the consistency problem of his, he is sure to scale great heights and this Rotterdam is just a tip of the iceberg.


Michael Says:

What I like about Djokovic is his amazing consistency. You hardly see him have a off day in Court and against Youzny he lost not because he played badly, but because the other player played brilliantly. He is also mentally very tough and one of the very few players who can play in all kinds of surface.


jane Says:

Michael, as LLTK would say, thanks for the Djoko love. : D

I am not sure I agree that he doesn’t have “off days” on the court (I think he does); however, other than not-so-great slam results since Wimbledon 08, he has remained pretty consistent, reaching the quarters or better in pretty much every event he enter last year, which is good work!

Again, I am torn on the mental toughness; sometimes he seems very mentally tough and other times not so much. Maybe he is just moody.

Anyhow it was nice to read your encouraging views!


Ben Pronin Says:

“Again, I am torn on the mental toughness; sometimes he seems very mentally tough and other times not so much. Maybe he is just moody.”

Jane, I’m glad you said this because I forgot to say it in the post. I think Djokovic has a lot of heart and he’s never going to stop wanting to win, but he’s mentally weak. He lets his emotions get the best of him, bad or good, because he can’t keep his focus stable.

And it seems like that loss at Wimbledon was a passing of the torch from one tortured soul to another tortured soul. Safin and Djokovic, two tremendously talented players who just can’t find the best winning formula.

Djokovic and his fans want him to be number 1. To be number 1, he’s gotta win, not just reach quarters and semis.


jane Says:

“To be number 1, he’s gotta win, not just reach quarters and semis.”

Amen Ben.

Re: “tortured souls” – I hope Djoko loves Safin for all the right reasons, i.e., his enviable talent, as I know Safin is someone to whom he always looked up.

Me? I can love Safin for all number of reasons – some of which, well, let’s just say, it’s a girl thang.


Michael Says:

Ben, I just do not agree with you on the so-called mental weakness of Djokovic. He is physically weak and prone to injuries, but never can you call him as mentally weak. If you are mentally weak, you just cannot win against Federer in a Grand slam semi final and he did that in the Australian Open 2008. May be Federer was recovering from the Mono fever that he had suffered, but yet it was Djokovic who stopped him in the Semis and then he went on to defeat Tsonga in four when he was in top form.


Andrew Miller Says:

FVerdasco, once again, living up to his potential. The Davis Cup win in 08 in La Plata changed this guy for the better.

Roddick, not a bad result. Querrey showing some fight, but the U.S. players ALWAYS play well in the States against other U.S. players. Roddick once again showing he is the top U.S. player, and will show it again when he beats up on poor James Blake.

Seriously though…Verdasco. Even more impressive when considering the racquet switch to Yonex. I thought the other racquet was the right one for him (Technifibre) but look what I know. That is big time when a player switches racquets and in no time, has no trouble whatsoever.

(I cant say the same for Djokovic. He still looks lost out there. What happenned to the assasin in him?)


Michael Says:

Jane, If you are a Djokovic fan, you need not worry about him. I am sure that once Federer ages and goes out of the scene, youngsters like Djokovic stand a good chance in many majors. You can be rest assured that Djokovic is mentally tough. I have watched him play and many times he has come back from hopeless position to a point of comefort. Other than saying he is moody, you can say that he is more challenged on a physical level since his body just does not co-operate with all the efforts he takes to win matches. Ofcourse Djokovic has to win Slams, but he is right now living in a difficult era dominated by Federer and mind you in many of the slams he was stopped by Federer in the Semis.


Michael Says:

Jane, And also one of the weakness I have noted in Djokovic is his inconsistency in serving. I think he need to put a little more effort on that if he has to win matches at a big level like the finals.


Michael Says:

Just one loss and we have this habit of writing off players. Djokovic lost to Youzhny and all talks have started about his imminent downfall. That is not the right way to judge a player. Same thing happened when Federer lost to Bennateau recently. Today the competition has become so intense and deep that any of the top 50 players can fancy their chances on any given day. What matters is the kind of form they are in. May be if like Nadal, Djokovic loses on a continuous basis then we might sense some kind of crisis creeping in. But now I feel that we are pinching the buttons too early.


jane Says:

Michael, Djoko is my top fave, yes, but I like Murray as a close second, and admire a lot of players actually. I am a tennis fan foremost. Anyhow, I know what you’re saying about Djoko; sometimes he really seems mentally tough – for example, to go into Basel and beat Fed there, to me, that shows real resolve and mental toughness. Also, at times, he has shown that mental toughness against Rafa, and others. Yet at other times, he also seems mentally weak or at least lacking the resolve or “assasin” instinct that Andrew Miller mentions. So I am torn on the matter.

True he has run into Federer now for 3 US Opens in a row either in the finals (07) or the semis (08 & 09), and he ran into Rafa for 2 French Opens in a row in the semis (07 & 08); them’s not good odds.

That all said, 100% agree with you Michael on the serving woes.


jane Says:

“Today the competition has become so intense and deep that any of the top 50 players can fancy their chances on any given day.”

Great point!


Ben Pronin Says:

I’m not writing Djokovic off, I’m just criticizing him. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s still super talented.


Michael Says:

Jane, You just cannot be torn like that. Djokovic either has to be mentally tough or not. He cannot be both. From what I have watched him over the years, he seems pretty tough mentally. Even Federer has acknowledged that and accredited Djokovic of being one of the toughest players mentally on the circuit today. That coming from the mouth of a Tennis God holds much validity. As I said, Djokovic is right now caught in a tough era dominated by Federer and many of his slam defeats have come at the hands of players of the calibre of Federer, Nadal and even Roddick, to mention a few. He should have won the 2007 wimbledon encounter against Nadal when he was leading two sets to one and dominating the play, but once again he was physically challenged and had to quit. So, what Djokovic needs to do is to prepare himself physically more than mentally as he is already tough on mind but weak on body.


Andrew Miller Says:

Djokovic could leave the sport today and not have regrets.

But it would be regretable if Djokovic does not make a goal of seizing his chances.

One thing about Federer when he was in ultra domination mode: not only did he rarely lose, but he never lost to Youzhny or similar players.

When I first saw Djokovic, he was THE ASSASIN. I thought this guy will stir up trouble and it not afraid of stealing the crown! Now I think, when push comes to shove, Djokovic is maybe number 5 or six in the world, but nothing more.

(Hey I would love to be in his spot. But Djokovic these days is not dominating anyone. I saw him literally tune Feli Lopez, dicing him up with a Sampras serve and laser ground strokes. I dont see him doing that now!)


jane Says:

Michael “Jane, You just cannot be torn like that.”

LOL, you clearly don’t “know” me; torn is my middle name.

You may be right; maybe it is still physical, though he hired a new trainer last year before the clay season, and he has not retired from a match for over a year, nor has he called out the trainer much, which suggests at least some improvement. Moreover, he is rarely injured. It’s more constitutional if it’s physical and thus maybe tougher to fix.

Sometimes I think he is a bit of a perfectionist and so when he is having a tough day, he gets all aggravated and then he kind of throws himself off track.

Maybe, as opposed to a mentally tough thing, it’s a focus or concentration thing? I.E., when he is losing against players he feels he shouldn’t be losing against, or when his game isn’t clicking, rather than digging in, riding the wave, sticking out the storm (whatever other metaphor you can think of), he just gives up the ghost? I am not sure how to explain it.


jane Says:

Andrew Miller “When I first saw Djokovic, he was THE ASSASIN.”

The other thing that strikes me is how, when I first really caught onto Djoko’s talent in 2007 (especially during IW and then Miami), when he was on the rise, he could play these incredibly challenging, l-o-n-g and grueling matches. Witness his marathon with Stepanek at the USO in 2007, the longest match to this day in USO history, I believe. Also, at Wimbledon in 2007, he played two back-to-back (due to rain delays that year) arduous matches versus an on-form Baghdatis and a fighting Hewitt to reach the semis. He had an infected blister on his foot by the time he played Rafa in the semis because he kept slipping all over the damp grass (that is one retirement for which I more-or-less forgive him since he couldn’t even move on the court).

But my point is, he seemed more able to endure longer matches then. Why? Am I wrong?


Michael Says:

Jane, what you have pointed out and ie. lapse in concentration at times happens to all the players even to Federer. I do not think that Djokovic loses to lower ranked players often. At times may be. But towards the middle and end of 2009, Djokovic showed some tremendous consitency and he won many ATP titles. The beginning of year so far has not been fruitful for him. But isn’t it too early ??


Michael Says:

Jane, If Djokovic is able to hold his nerves in marathon matches, how can you then say he is mentally weak at times ??


jane Says:

I guess I was thinking of some of his matches where he could have maybe won but didn’t, like against Haas at Wimbledon last year, where he said he had nerves. Those sorts of things. Are nerves and mental weakness the same? Maybe not.


Michael Says:

Any player will have nerves. If anybody denies that, then may be he is lying. The important thing is how to hide those nerves to make believe your opponent. Yes, I saw that match against Haas, Djokovic played last year at Wimbledon. It was really a tremendous match very interesting to watch. Nobody can deny that Haas is a very good player who has a great potential. But he could never harness it since his physical condition never allowed him to do so. Most of his life in tennis passed away with just injuries and more injuries adding to his woes. More like Roddick, Haas too is a very unlucky player who has this habit of losing the big points which really matters in close matches. But I thought Haas played really well in that match and added to that he had this psychological edge when he beat Djokovic at Halle to win the finals. Djokovic too could have been surprised since Haas is a very good serve-volleyer and that paid him considerable dividends in that particular match. Moreover, it is no shame to lose a match to a player as good as Haas. Remember this was the same Haas who almost spoiled Federer’s dream at last year’s French Open. So, we should never make the mistake of underestimating such a player. Haas is one of those players who definitely should have won a few grand slams. He had that in him, but he was never allowed to do so by his own body. Can anyone fight against his own body ??


madmax Says:

When I watched Novak’s match against Youzhny on saturday, everytime he lost a point, his head and shoulders were down, he did look lost. I think novak is suffering from a bit of confidence crisis. I watched it on VT again. When he wins a point, he is pumped up and ready to go for the next.

He is caught between the middle. He needs to unravel his thoughts when he loses a point and rather than giving up at the moment, he needs to fight on. This is the difference.


Nina Says:

@Michael… you’re the voice of reason. I agree 100% with you. But it’s difficult to figure out Djoko these days and I’m his nº 1 fan! I believe all of us share the feeling that he is not living up to his full potential. And I regret to say this but Novak today is not the same guy that beat Federer in Montreal in 2007 and almost beat him again in the US Open semis and finally won the AO 2008. I’m positive though that he’s practicing now to get his form back with Martin as new coach, but his serve is not what it used to be and he abuses the dropshot too much. Other than that he’s lethal when he’s on and can beat anyone on any given day and do it consistently. All of us who are fans of the guy know it’s an emotional rollercoaster with him, I personally love that aspect of Djoko even if it drives me nuts.


Ben Pronin Says:

Madmax, that’s exactly what I saw. Djokovic doesn’t just wear his emotions on his sleeve, he lets them control him.

Djokovic is still capable of playing long grueling matches. He’s 7-3 in 5-setters in slams, which is better than even Federer.

His current problem isn’t physical. He’s fit and healthy, as of right now. He’s suffering from confidence issues. Like I said, he’s got so much talent but he’s struggling to find a way to win.

Assassin is a pretty accurate description of 07/08 Djokovic. He was a man on a mission to hunt down the top guys and take their place. Unfortunately, he’s lost his way. I’m not impressed with Todd Martin’s coaching so far. I’ve been seeing Djokovic randomly come into net for no reason other than to be at the net. That’s not how you’re supposed to come in. Djokovic’s serve has often been up and down, but it’s been a little too down lately. You think Roddick will let him borrow Stefanki? Maybe Paul Annacone would be a better fit?


Michael Says:

Nina, If I remember right in 2009, Djokovic came to the Semis at the US Open and was defeated by Federer in a close three setter. He then Won the China Open defeating Soderling and Cilic. He won the Davidoff Swiss Indoors defeating Federer in the finals. In BNP Paribas Masters which he won, he demolished Nadal and prevailed in a tight three setter with Monfils in the finals. If by any means you say this is not a good performance, then any Tennis player would love to have one. Please do not write off Djokovic just judging me in two or three matches in 2010. The year has just started and in the Australian Open, he had bad luck wherein his stomach problems upset him in his match against Tsonga which he could have won. Nevertheless, he would not have stood against Federer given the kind of form he was in. I for one feel that Djokovic is a strong potential candidate for being World No.1 in future in the absence of Federer.


Ben Pronin Says:

Michael, you keep saying these guys will have success after Federer. If I was Murray or Djokovic, that would be completely unacceptable to me. They’re both 22, Federer is 28. Federer might as well be 18 because it looks like he can play forever. But let’s say Federer plays WELL for another 5 years and then decides to retire. Djokovic and Murray will be 27, an age where they’ll be considered veterans. What guarantees their slam success at that time? For all we know, a new crop of young guys will come up and be even better than the current crop. I’m 100% sure that all these players know they have to take their chances now, but it’s incredibly difficult with Federer around. Hence Novak’s frustration.

I’m also not keen on letting Djokovic off the hook with excuses. In Melbourne he had stomach problems, in Rotterdam the lighting was bad. I don’t think letting something like lighting get to you is a sign of mental strength.

Also, Madmax maybe you noticed this, but Djokovic never looked like he was enjoying the match. Youzhny would smile after he won points and just kind of keep going when he lost them, but you could see that he was enjoying himself out there. Once again, like Safin, Djokovic looks like he’s torturing himself when he’s playing tennis.


contador Says:

well, unfortunately i missed most of the marquee matches last week. must say soda pop has me all happy. djoko and roddick, eh, not so much. at least roddick made it to the final with tobasco.

djoko? i am disappointed. did not see match, as said but had completely picked him to win rotterdam. my guess is the djoko A game and attitude will come out- in dubai. isn’t both federer and djoko going to play that one?

the action in 3 tourny’s this week: the return of gilles simon *wooot gilles*! close enough to canada to give a decent canadian-like cheer, kimmi / jane

verdasco and roddick rematch in memphis? ooooh a 500 point series this time. and, the real must see: GULBIS, 1st round. will he get to the second round? goooo ernests!

hottest action around, er, maybe: argentina. nalby, monaco, z-ball?, gaudio? bellucci?


guy Says:

the reason roddick plays so many tiebreaks is because he has a crap return game, easily the worst in the top 10. quite simple.


Kimo Says:

I think the problem with Djoko is simple, yet it may seem ridiculous to some. Djoko plays to prove he’s good, while champions like Sampras, Agassi, Federer and Nadal play to WIN. To me that’s the difference. From those champions you never get the sense that they wanna prove themselves, they just want that title, and they will fight everything, nerves, fatigue, weather conditions, age, injuries, up-and-comers, old-timers, just so they can get their hands on the trophy. That’s why they win even when they’re having on off-day. Sure, life is a little tougher when you’re not playing your best, but that doesn’t mean if you’re not in cruise control that you should unravel and lose. Look at how Fed played Andreev in the 2008 USO, or Berdych in 2009 AO, or Haas in 2009 AO. He was playing like crap in those matches, but you always knew he’d find a way to win.

I don’t get that from Djoko. Sometimes to me he seems like a player who is in it for the money, or to please his parents, or to get laid, or to be famous. When he burst on the scene he was arrogant and cocky, and it helped him get to no.3 in the world. But after a few losses here and there to Fed and Rafa, he doesn’t believe in himself as he used to. He no longer thinks he’s good enough. He thinks he’s born in the wrong era, or with a bad asthma, or with a weak body. He has no confidence, and even when he’s on a winning streak, he usually comes back down to earth with a thud.

He’s not playing to become a tennis legend, and that’s why he won’t become one.


contador Says:

guy, u might be right but, crap return game or not, he’s consistent and never says DIE! how many years has he been in the top 10? and, he has at least one GS title, albeit before federer started cleaning GS events, except FO. ( but, chances of roddick winning fo: zilch)

have to defend A-rod a little sometimes. can’t up on him. he was much improved last wimby, played beterer than fererer. sure, still lost, but barely.


contador Says:

can’t give up on Roddick, that is.

played beter than federer lasy wimby, but still lost.


contador Says:

still can’t type for crap. going to the day job


Ben Pronin Says:

Kimo, Michael Jordan’s biggest motivation came from his doubters and he became a legend because he wanted to prove everyone dumb.

Sampras, Agassi, Federer, and Nadal’s motivation comes from knowing that they’re tremendously talented. It’s not as simple as winning the title, it’s making the most of their talent. Squeezing everything they can possible get from it. Sampras did it, Agassi realized it late but did it, Federer’s still doing it, and Nadal may or may not have squeezed out more than he had. Djokovic is tremendously talented, he really is, but it’s like he thinks about everything he’s not supposed to while playing. He needs to start squeezing out his talent. Mono or not, Djokovic was the first player to beat Federer in straight sets in a slam in 4 years. Nadal already played Federer 5 times in slams and had never come close to a straight sets win at that point.

No offense to Roddick, but he’s a guy with limited skills who had a good amount of tweaking to do. Djokovic was born with an all-around game. Sure he can improve his volleys, but it’s not like he can’t volley. This whole thing with Martin and the tinkering is the wrong approach for Djokovic. He needs someone to help him improve his strengths because he’s got plenty of them.

You’re right, Djokovic won’t become a tennis legend as long as he keeps following the path he’s on. But then again, what do I know?


Andrew Miller Says:

I think Mr. Pronin, Kimo and Jane are right.

Djokovic really doesnt have the luxury to “wait” at the Slams until Federer gets older and plays worse.

In fact, that small period already lapsed (January 2008 to August 2008). Federer is now healthy, and he can beat Djokovic at the slams while tending to his kids on changeovers.

I think Kimo is right that maybe Djokovic was not aiming to win every Slam he entered, just prove be belonged in the top three. Well, mission accomplished.

I agree with Mr. Pronin, something is up with Djokovic’s serve. Where did the Assasin go.


Andrew Miller Says:

Djokovic should definitely fire Todd Martin. He hired the wrong Todd.

Woodbridge would have been better.


Andrew Miller Says:

Speaking of helping the enemies, Agassi seems to be practicing with Verdasco quite a bit.

Couple that with Sampras’ unabashed support and admiration of Federer, and Todd Martin’s assistance in the Djokovic camp

and it’s no wonder Andy Roddick is all alone out there to stand up for U.S. tennis! Roddick, Stefanki and the Mac Brothers are the few working to make U.S. tennis work. If Agassi, Sampras and Todd Martin are helping the competition (with moral support or training) [Paul Annacone, you're under the microscope too with your deal in the U.K., Gilbert included] it’s no wonder the competition just seems to keep getting better…

A sore spot for me. Sorry. I heard Sampras (Bodo blog) might be helping U.S. players, maybe. Lendl certainly did the U.S. a favor by practicing with Sampras at his home in Connecticut some years back. Sampras could start with Devin Britton or someone like that.


Andrew Miller Says:

Last, Mr. Pronin is right…Djokovic needs a coach to strengthen his strengths, not tinker. The tinkering is stupid.

Federer became better by getting better at everything, but the only innovation in his game is a drop shot. It’s not all that much. Federer might hit his best shots better than ever, but that just proves Mr. Pronin’s point further.


Andrew Miller Says:

I lied, this is my last quip…Todd Martin wasnt the best volleyer out there. Maybe Djokovic should play some doubles and watch the Bryans or pull some tape of Pat Rafter and Sampras.

Todd Martin is definitely not best in class in anything but maximizing his potential, and he’s not transferring that attitude to Djokovic.


Ben Pronin Says:

Or some tapes of Edberg.


madmax Says:

Ben:

‘Also, Madmax maybe you noticed this, but Djokovic never looked like he was enjoying the match.’

Ben, yes. It added to novak’s overall approach I think. May be he feels a bit weighed down with pressure being No.2? I dont know. I think when he lost at AO 3 weeks ago (is it that long already??), he said something along the lines of “I’m glad it’s all over, I was feeling tired, not playing my best”.

All players go through confidence crisis though Ben, dont you think? And I really dont think that Novak will dwell on this too much. It’s a 500 pointer, I think he will step it up come the masters and will look to show everyone that he earnt his stripes being no.2. We shall just have to wait and see.

I think this ever growing entourage though, doesn’t help. How many people do you need in your team to tell you how great you are and what you need to do to improve your game? too many cooks…


Ben Pronin Says:

Madmax, I’m not against a large entourage. It’s about what works for the player but most importantly it’s who’s in your entourage. If you only have one coach who’s helped you make significant progress, then great. If you have five different guys doing different things helping you get the results you want, then also great.

I don’t think Djokovic will dwell on this, either, but his mannerisms are telling. I’d love nothing more than to see him tear things up at the Masters, but it’s hard to envision right now. Last year, he made 5 MS finals and won 1 against Monfils of all players. He lost to Nadal twice, Murray, and Federer. Djokovic needs nothing more than a big win over a top player in a big event when they’re both playing their best.

“All players go through confidence crisis though Ben, dont you think?”

There are a few “laws” in tennis and that’s one of the big ones. Even Federer and Nadal are confidence players. Lose a few matches, go into a slump, win a few, go on a tear.


Von Says:

“and it’s no wonder Andy Roddick is all alone out there to stand up for U.S. tennis! Roddick, Stefanki and the Mac Brothers are the few working to make U.S. tennis work. If Agassi, Sampras and Todd Martin are helping the competition (with moral support or training) [Paul Annacone, you're under the microscope too with your deal in the U.K., Gilbert included] it’s no wonder the competition just seems to keep getting better…” Andrew Miller

Albeit, Sampras has been my all-time fave, it’s always been my knock on him whereby he’s not interested in helping the US players, by donating his time voluntarily, but lining his pockets. He’s been very lavish on criticism and stingy on praise with respect to Roddick, and one would think that instead of him criticizing Andy, Pete would want to help him, but sadly, that’s not the case.

Agassi is helping Verdasco because of his affiliation with Cahill, and that’s not good either.

It’s simultaneously ludicrous and pathetic that our former champions have zero concern and/or interest for growing tennis in the US.

I read recently that Sampras is trying to talk a deal with the USTA for a coaching position. In other words, Pete’s tired with the exhos, but will only give his time to the US players if his pocket is properly lined with USTA money. I’m very disappointed that everything seems to revolve around money for Pete — too, too bad.
________________
On another note, Roddick maybe has the worst return game of the top 10 players, but that’s a matter of opinion, and despite it all, he’s remained a constant member of the top 10 club along with Federer for over 8 years. Hence, how bad is Roddick’s return game? Me thinks, it can’t be that bad, can it??


Ben Pronin Says:

How good of a return game does Tsonga have? Roddick’s return game isn’t that bad. He’s not a natural returner like Murray or Davydenko, but his anticipation has improved a lot over the years.

I agree, Von, it’s a shame Sampras is more concerned with money than anything else. I was listening to the Bodo and co podcast today and they were talking about Sampras and other former champions saying they’ll help develop young players. It just seems like Sampras doesn’t know what to do with his life.


Von Says:

Ben:

Roddick plays a very clean game, his UE count is always very low. That said, his return game is not bad at all.

You mentioned Tsonga, who IMO, has a go for broke return game, ala James Blake and Fernando Gonzalez. My knock on Roddick is his complacency at times, which can be detrimental, and it’s the reason he loses some close matches. In his match vs. Verdasco yesterday, he became very passive in the second set which cost him the match.

I agree with you that Pete does not know what to do with himself these days. I may be wrong, but to me, it appears that his problem is that of regret. Regret for leaving the sport too early/prematurely, and it’s now killing him that his record has been broken. If you listen to him speak on his retirement, he was dead sure that his record would stand, and it’s what’s eating away at him now that it’s no longer the case.


madmax Says:

Ben,

after having had the day off work today, I watched roddick in 09 wimby final and I dont think I have ever seen him play better – he was brilliant.

Some of his returns were brilliant against federer –

“Roddick’s return game isn’t that bad”. It’s better than “is’t that bad Ben”. He was playing lights out. seriously, he has improved his all round game – and that has to be thanks to stefanki. How about writing on article on roddick doesnt get enough credit and see where it goes from there – hasnt he been in the top ten now for 8 years? isnt that consistency?


Kimo Says:

Funniest youtube video EVERRRRRRRRRRR

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miOwOT1FYig


margot Says:

von: how interesting what you were saying about Sampras and his early retirement. Was there a seminal moment, do you think?


Kimo Says:

Sampras didn’t retire early. He retired exactly at the right moment: not too early so that he might consider “unretiring” as so many tennis stars did/still do, and not too late that he continued playing till he was well outside the top 100 in the world. His last win was in a slam final against his arch-rival after he’s gone slam-less for two years. You can’t beat that.


Kimo Says:

The reason Sampras is considering a more active role with the USTA is that he, like most tennis players, whether they were slam champs or journeymen, feel that their lives have become empty and meaningless after they retire. Tennis is a 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 48 weeks a year job. After retiring they realize that they have all the time in the world and they don’t know what to do with themselves.


Ben Pronin Says:

It can’t be easy for Sampras to watch Federer break not just his own records, but all the records who failed to break as well.

In the Open Era, Sampras was the first player to dominate for years. The 70s and 80s featured a lot of guys who would trade off dominant years. Sampras introduced a monarchy type of dominance. Federer basically one-upped him. Rather, he ten-upped him.

But I have to agree with Kimo more because Sampras, in pretty impressive fashion, stayed away from tennis for almost 4 years. It’s not that he wants to go back out there, he just wants to find meaning again. Can you blame him? The whole money thing is shameful, though. Is he bad with money or something because he should still have plenty leftover? Why should it ever be an issue?


Duro Says:

Jane says: “Sometimes I think he is a bit of a perfectionist and so when he is having a tough day, he gets all aggravated and then he kind of throws himself off track.

Maybe, as opposed to a mentally tough thing, it’s a focus or concentration thing? I.E., when he is losing against players he feels he shouldn’t be losing against, or when his game isn’t clicking, rather than digging in, riding the wave, sticking out the storm (whatever other metaphor you can think of), he just gives up the ghost? I am not sure how to explain it.”

And then Kimo says: “I think the problem with Djoko is simple, yet it may seem ridiculous to some. Djoko plays to prove he’s good, while champions like Sampras, Agassi, Federer and Nadal play to WIN. To me that’s the difference. From those champions you never get the sense that they wanna prove themselves, they just want that title, and they will fight everything, nerves, fatigue, weather conditions, age, injuries, up-and-comers, old-timers, just so they can get their hands on the trophy. That’s why they win even when they’re having on off-day. Sure, life is a little tougher when you’re not playing your best, but that doesn’t mean if you’re not in cruise control that you should unravel and lose.

Well, well, well, spot on everywhere but no answers! You don’t know why? Jane, you especially…
Here’s some help from me. I come from the land of the love… Nice song but I was talking about a Noleland. This Land, as most of you happen to know is somewhere in the Balkans. Balkans is a Turkish word and it means Bloody Head. What’s that got to with Nole’s game, someone might ask. Well, on the first sight, nothing really. But if you, by any chance, know people from that Bloody Head, you would have noticed certain common lineament that people from that region carry within themselves. It’s special kind of mentality, not recommendable for the “outer world”. It would take too much to explain, so I’ll try in couple of sentences. Kimo, noticed it well; but not only that Novak plays to prove he’s good, he finds it not worthy to play against worse players, only to beat the best! Digging? Oh, no… Against Youzhny? God forbid! I’m a classy player and I don’t won’t no one to see me struggling to beat unworthy ones, better to act, look upon the sky, blame the Haven and such… Did you notice Novak has the problems being a favorite and his opponent playing well. He won’t “humiliate” himself grueling the victory like Nadal. Because, what’s a victory if it’s not splendid, spotless, undisputed one… If it goes, Ok, but if it doesn’t, he will let it go! Why? That’s the phenomenon of the Balkan people mentality! It’s something mythical, special perception of the “heroism”, specific value system, unique comprehension of pride etc etc. How’s something perfect when it’s not perfect? It’s subconscious, planted in us! Novak is falcon. His granddad was Montenegrin. He called him that. Falcon… Do you get the picture? Hunting in the air, pure, clean, efficient, dignified bird hunting! No worms, no crawlers, no unworthy! He’ll rather curse and act a play, than digging in, riding the wave, sticking out the storm, giving up the ghost what would Jane say. If you add his Gemini nature to that, it’s perfectly explainable. The problem is, if he achieves his life goal and become a number 1, who will be in front of him to be worthy being beaten? No one. So how long will that fairytale last? This is a question for him, and if he doesn’t become aware of it soon, he’ll stay stuck in a Bloody Head curse, to wage wars for ever and win never…


Von Says:

margot: I don’t know if it was a seminal moment, but I think it was an impromptu decision. I’ve listened to him talk about his decision in an interview after he won the USO. He stated that that he got to thinking on his trip back to LA, that retirement would be a good decision, and the more he thought about it, the better retirement felt. I still feel he has regrets about retiring when he did, and is somewhat miffed that his record is broken. He’s only human, and who wouldn’t entertain those sentiments?

_______________
Ben: I’m sure Sampras does not want to go back out there NOW. However, I’m sure he’s got to be thinking/regretting, and second guessing his decision to leave the sport when he did, instead of hanging around ala Agassi, in an effort to collect some more GS titles, especially now that his record has been broken. Unfortunately for Pete, he didn’t have a crystal ball, and, sometimes we make tough decisions that in retrospection, is not always the correct ones.

I doubt he’s hurting for money, but he’s always been a bit chintzy when he came to the almighty dollar. I still feel he could donate some of his time to help further US tennis, without receiving a paycheck for his services. Agassi and Graf (she’s not an American) have both given back so much, so why can’t Pete?


Andrew Miller Says:

Agassi might have a clause in his Adidas contract that strongly suggests he help Adidas players like Verdasco, who trains with Agassi’s mentor Gil Reyes.

Speaking of which: will anyone ever evaluate the success/failure of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) in hiring Cahill/Annacone/Gilbert? So far it definitely looks like an enormous bust that has led to absolutely nothing but bloated salaries and high-profile firings.

Their example might make the USTA wary of hiring Sampras for high salaries. Bodo was right when he said the USTA needs foot soldiers, probably at decent salaries. Honestly, I would pay based on performance.

If Sampras proved himself to be an exceptional coach (as his coaches were) then I’d say all right, he’s proven that. But if he demands big bucks to help out, then I would say no way – because he’s unproven as a coach or motivator.


Andrew Miller Says:

Duro – as for Djokovic, he does play five set matches, which call for blood and guts, and he plays them pretty well if I recall. I dont think the Balkans have anything to do with it.

Djokovic used to have a conditioning problem (and still may have it). He would retire mid-match, frequently. That’s why Roddick picked on him in 2008 (and Djokovic promptly made him eat it at the US Open).

Seriously I would sign up some mega trainer the train the heck out of him so he’s faster and stronger – a good goal would be Federer’s strength. I dont think Federer could pull off what he does without some exceptionally rigorous training.

Federer knows, better than anyone, that it will, usually, take a herculean effort to beat him. At slams, it will take an epic effort (see Del Potro, US Open 2009; Nadal, Wimbledon 2008; Roddick in his loss, Wimbledon 2009; Safin, AO 2005 semifinal). With Federer at a slam, it takes an epic effort to oust him.

I would say it’s his fitness and stamina. That allows him to stay focused mentally – he’s not huffing or puffing out there.


Fot Says:

Roddick isn’t one of my favorites, but I have to say this about Roddick – he will try to improve whatever he can to make himself better. He has hired more coaches than almost anyone (seems like) and each coach has brought something good for Roddick whether it was suggesting that he lose weight to improving his volleying to whatever. He listens. (at least it seems like he does)…My knock on Roddick (in the past) was that he seemed ‘cocky’ against the lower players that he played but he didn’t seem that way when he played someone ranked higher.

But having seen Roddick more – he seems like a pretty good guy. He’s always there when Roger asked for players to donate time for charity; he always try to improve; he gives his all in those grand slam matches that he plays; and by far – he gives the best interviews by any player!

I think Roger and Andy are the only ones to win a tournament in something like 9/10 years in a row? Something like that. Andy has been consistent. I don’t think he gets enough credit for that but he’s always right around the top 5/6 in the world for the last 10 years. And no one can take away the fact that he has been #1 in the world.

OK..enough about Roddick. lol! I usually only talk about my favorite (Roger)!


Andrew Miller Says:

Roddick definitely lets his emotions out of him so they dont affect his play. McEnroe used to fire himself up by picking on people – ruthlessly and unfairly. Roddick gets the venom out in short bursts, fairly or unfairly directed at opponents, linespeople and refs.

You have to admit Roddick rarely loses focus out there – I think it’s because he’s constantly blowing off steam. He has become less nervous, probably because he’s letting his emotions out across the course of the match.


Skorocel Says:

Andrew Miller: „One thing about Federer when he was in ultra domination mode: not only did he rarely lose, but he never lost to Youzhny or similar players.“

That’s maybe right, but hey, Youzhny is no pushover either! In other words, if I was a Djokovic fan, I wouldn’t take this loss THAT seriously… Losing to players like Anderson IS worrying, but Youzhny? Everybody knows the guys’s talented as anybody except maybe Federer, and could’ve easily achieved a LOT more than “just” one USO semi… But oh well, that’s coulda woulda…


Skorocel Says:

Ben: „No offense to Roddick, but he’s a guy with limited skills who had a good amount of tweaking to do. Djokovic was born with an all-around game. Sure he can improve his volleys, but it’s not like he can’t volley. This whole thing with Martin and the tinkering is the wrong approach for Djokovic. He needs someone to help him improve his strengths because he’s got plenty of them.“

I would say that if there was ever a player who needed to improve his strengths, it would be Roddick. I mean, of what use is his supposedly „improved“ BH to him now? All what he does now on the court is to play a PASSIVE baseline game, whereas all what he did in the past – and what he did BEST, is now gone (that is, hit a huge serve AND a huge FH). He’s maybe „more solid“ off his BH side these days, more patient, making less UEs and all this stuff, but his FH (which used to be almost as good, if not better than his serve) is virtually nonexistent…


Skorocel Says:

Kimo: „Sampras didn’t retire early. He retired exactly at the right moment: not too early so that he might consider “unretiring” as so many tennis stars did/still do, and not too late that he continued playing till he was well outside the top 100 in the world. His last win was in a slam final against his arch-rival after he’s gone slam-less for two years. You can’t beat that.“

Exactly my thoughts!


Skorocel Says:

Ben: Great post at 9:12 am!

Duro: Pretty interesting post at 4:23 pm!


Duro Says:

Skorocel, thanks. My respect to your posts, too. “See you” some times. Good night.


Golf is barely a Sport Says:

Nole should maybe imitate Roddick and have a weak backhand? Nole is #2, has a better record vs. Roger and Rafa than Roddick and he needs to be more like Andy Struts er Andy Roddick?


Andrew Miller Says:

Roddick is way better than before! He does hit with too much spin.

It’s the Federer effect. The ATP had to improve.

Roddick/Federer 2003 Wimbledon:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuCsBXuiFes

Roddick/Federer Miami 09
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu7ecIzOU5c


jane Says:

Roddick v Blake Wednesday night; Verdasco v Chardy tomorrow night; Isner and Sharapova both have matches tonight (not sure of their opponents).


Kimmi Says:

Why is sharapova playing this tier IV tournament while there is a big one in dubai this week?


Kimmi Says:

Dubai is non-mandatory I guess so she does not need to play.


steve Says:

Roddick is playing the best tennis of his life.

He went five sets with Federer, held serve for thirty-nine games and was only broken once, on championship point. At one point in the fifth set he had break point on Federer’s serve and was just five points away from the win.

If that’s his worst tennis, pray tell, when was he playing his best?

I admire him, not many players at his age would be so diligent in trying to improve but he is. He’s a great sportsman.


jane Says:

Agreed Steve: although I do think he could wind up and whack that forehand of his more often (saw some of that versus Cilic in the fourth set of their AO match but would like to see that more consistently; his forehand can be a weapon. He should maximize it).


Michael Says:

Ben, You have a valid point when you say that Djokovic and Murray have to prove themselves today and not wait for a tomorrow without Federer. It is now or never. That argument holds some merit. Nobody knows for sure what the future beholds. It might be possible that Federer may well continue in peak form for another 3-4 years and conquer more slams adding to his already amazing tally. There might also develop a scenario wherein totally unexpected players like Felciana Lopez, Gulbis, Cilic, Tsonga, Del Potro, Soderling et al might suddenly rediscover their game and come up tops in grand slams. Del Potro might not fit in that list as he has already tasted a grand slam victory but yet he has tremendous potential for the future. Afterall who knew when Federer suddenly made it to the top at age 22. Nadal too is lying low at the moment but you can never discount such a tremendous fighter and he might dominate grand slams too once again which will only herald doomsday for the likes of Djokovic and Murray. To top it all, their body must hold good when they near 25 or 26. I am confident about Murray in that regard but not Djokovic who has persistent injury related problems. So, the frustration is a bit understandable on the part of Djokovic and Murray. They must convert the chances as and when they get it because you never know when the next one will come. But Federer is not allowing them and stands in their way. Despite all these imponderables, yet I feel that the likes of Djokovic and Murray have a bright future just because they possess the game and fighting spirit that can do the trick for them. Djokovic has an all Court game and Murray is a tactician and this will serve them well I suppose.

Regarding that lighting problem at Rotterdam with Djokovic and your contention that it is not a sign of mental strength, I am sure you would remember that Borg used to make such excuses for not winning the US Open because he was made to play under lights. Despite this, nobody said then that Borg had weak mental strength.


Michael Says:

The next major test will come at the Indiana Wells. The stakes are high for Nadal there as he is defending his points. With all the seeded players right in there, it is going to be hell of a contest and it is not easy to predict a winner at this point in time as it is only three sets. If it was five sets, my favourite would have been Federer. But now with three sets things can get only more interesting. All in all, it would be a sure treat to watch with the World’s finest players in action.


Ben Pronin Says:

But do you really buy that as an excuse for Borg? The reason he didn’t win was because of bad lighting? That is a sign of mental weakness. Borg was obviously no slouch in the fighting department, but don’t forget he did retire at 25 because he was mentally burnt out. That’s not exactly a sign of mental strength.

It’s easy to think when someone plays well, or even eeks out a miraculously close win that they’re mentally tough, but don’t forget that these are talented players. When you’re young, healthy, and super talented, sometimes those wins come to you because of your game. Then you’re pushed and you fall apart. That’s why it was easy to say that Federer was mentally weak. He dominated easily, then he was pushed and started losing. Now he’s back on top with a 3000+ point lead. That’s mental strength.


contador Says:

OMG! Kimo, uh….lmao watching, reading that youtube vid!

from your 2/15 1:28pm post

it’s could be viewed as offensive, disrespectful and in poor taste on about every level and yet, ridiculously funny! “that drag queen nadal” hehehe ty, i needed a laugh tonight!

Gooooo Gulbis! i know you can do it! what i mean is win, win, one, will you? go deep into the 2nd round, for a change!!


Skorocel Says:

Michael: „Nadal too is lying low at the moment but you can never discount such a tremendous fighter and he might dominate grand slams too once again which will only herald doomsday for the likes of Djokovic and Murray.“

Where you left Federer? ;-)

=========

“Regarding that lighting problem at Rotterdam with Djokovic and your contention that it is not a sign of mental strength, I am sure you would remember that Borg used to make such excuses for not winning the US Open because he was made to play under lights. Despite this, nobody said then that Borg had weak mental strength.”

I’m sorry but to complain about such things like the lights is totally inexcusable for such a professional like Novak! What will he come up with next? Do a Tsonga and blame the loss on ballboys? ;-) Come on, Djoker!


Michael Says:

Ben, It is really hard to gauge the mental strength of any player because our evaluation will vary much upon their success or failure. If Murray had won his match against Federer at the Australian Open, he would then be portrayed as a man with tremendous grit and mental strength. But now since he lost in straights, he will in all probability be downgraded in that particular department. But to say it very frankly, you cannot come into the Top Ten of World Tennis without being mentally strong and that is my humble opinion. I for one know how hard it is to come to the top in World Tennis or for that matter any other Sport. Djokovic might have faltered on a few occasions, but that should not be a reason to discount him. He is just 22 and has many years ahead of him. Let us wait before pulling the trigger


Michael Says:

Skorocel, I was just discussing the probabilities with Ben. If you see my posting which I reproduce it here :
“Nobody knows for sure what the future beholds. It might be possible that Federer may well continue in peak form for another 3-4 years and conquer more slams adding to his already amazing tally.”

Plus this I quoted the other probabilities and the difficult road ahead for the likes of Murray and Djokovic. But they need not give up all hopes because they have the quality game to take them forward.

By quoting Borg, I am not in any way defending Djokovic for his excuse of bad lighting. What all I wanted to point out was just by that statement, you cannot paint him as mentally weak and I compared this with Borg to add strength to my argument. Players now-a-days come up with all kinds of excuses which are in bad taste. If Djokovic had lighting problems, why did he not discuss it earlier with the Organisers since he has already played the early matches and he is well acquainted with the conditions right there.


NotRod Says:

Young US players need to start emulating the playing styles of the 2 greatest players, Federer and Sampras. Time to take that extra hand off the backhand and get stronger like Lendl and Laver. Otherwise we’ll be producing cookie-cutter players (big topspin forehands paired with 2-handed backhands) for the next 10 years.

Something has to change.


Skorocel Says:

Michael: I know… I was just curious about what do you think would’ve happened with Federer in case Nadal had once again resumed his domination (?)… You’ve already mentioned Murray and Djoker as the “main” casualties, but what about “Rodgeur”? ;-)


Michael Says:

Skorocel, Assuming if Nadal dominates from here on, the worst thing that would happen to Federer is that he might not win any more Grand Slams. But that is a very remote possibility. Even assuming the best scenario for Nadal and the worst scenario for Federer happens,my gut sense is that still FED would manage to squeak away with a title or two (probably Wimbledon and US) to take his overall tally to 18. So, Federer has nothing to lose and everything to gain because of his already staggering and imposing record. If more titles come by, it is fine. Even if does not, it is pretty okay for Federer as he has already proved himself to the World as to the kind of player he is. He is in a stage in his career where he has nothing to prove as he has won on all different surfaces. So, how can he become a casualty in that event of Nadal domination or any other cataclysmic event that may overtake the Tennis World by surprise ?


Ben Pronin Says:

Just to clarify, I don’t know if Djokovic used the excuse himself (I can’t find his interview anywhere). The commentators said that’s what was bothering Djokovic but it may have just looked that way with all the funny faces Djoker makes.


Kimo Says:

Michael said:

“To top it all, their body must hold good when they near 25 or 26. I am confident about Murray in that regard but not Djokovic who has persistent injury related problems”

Murray will have physical problems in the future. He’s covering a lot of turf because of his passive style. I think he’ll start feeling the effects when he’s about 25-26.

As for Djoko, only God can help him coz it seems like he’s had physical problems since forever.


Skorocel Says:

Michael: You’re perfectly right that Federer has already proven himself as a tennis player, but what if Nadal once again beats Fed… Nah! I’ll leave it at that and (hopefully) spare myself from the inevitable here :-)


Kimo Says:

Skorocel, Fed would definitely beat Rafa should they meet today, problem is, it’s only Roger who’s always reaching the final stages in tournaments :P


jane Says:

Ben, I was wondering where you got this “lights” thing from but I assumed you must have seen something. I am sure Novak knows he didn’t play his best. When players get agitated on the court, i.e., their games aren’t working, sometimes other things can bug them more than they might otherwise. Even Fed is not exempt from this: he often gets riled by flash cameras, people moving in the crowd, and of course the on-coming darkness at Wimbledon 2008, particularly when he seems pushed in a match. Recently, in the new Valencia stadium, some players were bothered by lights and the high roof. I am just saying that I really don’t think Novak made an excuse about the lights, or if he did I’d like to hear it from “the horse’s mouth” and then judge, as opposed to commentators commentating and speculating about what his problems may be. It might’ve just been in the moment he caught a glare or whatever.


Duro Says:

People, do not make a story out of nothing. If you watched the match you would have seen clearly that Novak missed terribly two smashes and hit right into the net. From his gesticulation it was obvious that he got distracted by lights but never said it or complained about it anywhere. No excuses, no comments. So, what’s that fuss all about? Keep going further.


Duro Says:

Rafa number 3 again. Hm…


jane Says:

Many players have missed a smash here or there due to lights indoors or during night matches, even with the sun in their eyes. That’s nothing new at all. And it may indeed be frustrating. If he made lighting an excuse for losing an entire match, that’d be another matter.


madmax Says:

kimo,

your youtube vid, sooooooooo funny. I see it in the way it was meant – no disrespect to anyone, but honestly, we have to laugh at the subtitles – right?!

Duro, novak had a bad day. that was all. He needs to work on his body language first and foremost. Have a word, won’t you?!!!


Duro Says:

Hi, Jane. He didn’t. End of the story. How are you today?


Duro Says:

Maxi, it really looks like we are in the different time zones! If you were from, lets say, Canada, we would be talking and talking all night long (yours or mine), since I talk more to Jane and Kimmi than you, who is just an hour away from me.


jane Says:

Hi Duro, still a little under the weather, but thanks for asking. And yeah, end of story. : )

Hoping for a stronger performance at Dubai.


Duro Says:

Jane, stronger? We shall win the damn thing! Allez alleeeez…


madmax Says:

duro,

I know. The time zone is crazy right? Wouldnt it be great to have some sort of time machine to propel each other into one’s own country? WOW – how cool would that be! The great thing is though duro, though some people would regard this as a bit “anoraky”, (do you understand that term?), it has been amazing to meet so many like minded people with a passion for tennis. that brings us “all together” from around the world. I think it is just brilliant.

To think that it is very possible that we could all meet, say at a tournament this year, and never know who we were – so I could be sitting next to Ben Pronin or Jane or Margot or Contador or Kimo and never know – awesome.

so duro, your thoughts on rafa? do you think he will be the same rafa when he defends his title at the masters in March? I know so many people are worried about him?


Fot Says:

Jane, hope you are feeling better. Get well.


Duro Says:

Maxi: “To think that it is very possible that we could all meet, say at a tournament this year, and never know who we were – so I could be sitting next to Ben Pronin or Jane or Margot or Contador or Kimo and never know – awesome.”

Maxi, why like this!? Why couldn’t we meet and very much know who we are? That would be awesome! In my name, I could promise to meet anyone of you in one of the Paris tournaments! Rome would do also, as well as Monte Carlo. So, anyone interested check in!


contador Says:

Madmax :-))

somehow, taking a wild guess here, if we happened to be sitting next to each other as strangers particularly at a federer match, i think within moments we’d know it! lol…

OMG , ernie is about to try serving, perhaps for the match, would be a straight set win over kendrick in memphis. edge of seat time. *drumrolls*


contador Says:

jumping jack flash!! gooo gulbis!

gulbis into 2nd round.

who is up next for him?

Duro, u r so sweet. i would certainly be cheering for noleee, with one exception, of course.

i think sitting next to you, your enthusiasm would betray u. and i’d ask, “hey are you by chance mr. duro from tennis-x?”


Duro Says:

Maxi, about Rafa… What to say and not to hurt his fans or step on a mine? I don’t think he’ll ever be the Rafa from RG 2008. We shall certainly see some more brilliance of him, but not as consistent and not at that level or intensity. His body won’t permit it. He tried at AO this year, came very close to his old self, but his body betrayed him. The most perfect competing machine that ever lived! Not even your maestro could stop that beast of player. But he payed his toll. He is practically a player 30 years old. None of the options work for him anymore. If he loses weight and consequently a power, he won’t win as much, if he regains his physical strength his body will crumble, so… I must say I am sorry. He’ll be in top 5 for a while and than deteriorate very fast because of his game style. It doesn’t tolerate compromises. Rafa Nadal, the ultimate competitor… My sympathies.


Duro Says:

Contador, that, of course, if we didn’t know who we were, right? But, I would very much like to meet some of you in person and then talk tennis!


madmax Says:

Ah duro and contador, perhaps one day, a meet, may be at wimbledon, a place i would love to go to one day, and but 3 hours away from where i am, so difficult to get tickets though. and then next? i would love to go to New York. Never been. Have either of you? New York, the place where the city never sleeps? Is this true? to watch a show? to go to Times Square, a dream right now, but to see Federer play, one day, I must. I must save hard and hope that I realise that dream.

Contador have you seen federer play? Have any of you seen him? Ben Pronin?

Duro, have you seen Nole play? Rafa play? I think I would shake with excitement if I saw any of these players. Be sick on the spot!


contador Says:

nope. have not yet been fortunate enough to get to a “live” atp match anywhere. closest i have been to federer live was when a friend of mine watched him playing in indian wells, like 2006 and she was texting me. talk about some major drooooling while texting!

i have been to NYC a couple of times. unfortunately, not any time close to us open. if i win the lottery my family knows i spend the first portion on getting to wimbledon!

it’s far more possible for a trip to cincy or us open. and soon, like within the next 3 years, right? before federer retires.

Duro, my point was, you are such a tennis fan, particularly for your man, noleee, that even as strangers, sitting within even a row from you, i would wonder if you might be Duro/Duronole from tt abd tennis-x!

and i don’t tend to be shy. i’d likely ask you straight up. :-))


Duro Says:

Ha ha ha, you are fantastic, guys! Maxi sounds so thrilled and excited, like a little girl… Very sincere emotions, it’s obvious. Well, Maxi, since I’m one man fan and all other players I consider rivals (to Novak, of course) I have to answer you in that provoking tone and manner immanent to a fan: Hurry up!!! Your Fed is getting old very fast! You might find an old man when you come, with his schoolgirl daughters sitting next to you and cheering for his dad in a Challenger event!


Duro Says:

Maxi, I saw Novak once, but that’s far from enough for me! I’ll do my best to improve my score.

Contador, I would be very pleased if something like that happened! It would be my honor to meat any of you friends from X-tennis and watch a match with, have a glass of wine afterwards, change experiences…

Here’s a deal from me. If I, by any chance, happen to be so lucky to go to the tournaments I mentioned, I’ll announce it here and invite everyone that can and wants to come so we could make acquaintance and meet in person, watch a match together and send a feedback to X-tennis junkies…


madmax Says:

duro! yes. I feel sick already.

A little girl! yes. of course! my plan to see roger federer FIRST time at wimbledon this year (if possible), if not, then difficult for me to get to US, as far away from UK, so nearest would be Roland Garros, Paris, and I see roger is due to play Estoril this year, so I think the nearest to me, how wonderful it would be – but do you think the sense of mystery would be lost dear duro?

Roger, an old man? Ummmmm, still beating the young guns duro. Age is just a number! He gets better and better! Go federer!


Duro Says:

Ha ha ha, he’s beating them, all right, beating them real good!

About that sense of mystery, yes, probably a little bit, but you would enter a new dimension of experience, find new qualities to cheer for and gain your unique perception of your beloved star, which you could share with others and pass some real stuff to us.


madmax Says:

duro, you are lovely. will catch you tomorrow. enjoy.


Duro Says:

See ya, Brit girl…


Dan Martin Says:

Ben,

I dislike a lot of the clay court events after the French Open. I think tennis should have seasons with preferred surfaces and tournaments not held on the preferred surface get the 250 distinction for computer points. I know Indian Wells and Miami are the next big events, but neither are slams so I really don’t mind the Latin American clay court swing. The next slam, even if a long way off, is going to be held on clay so these events irk me less than clay events held after the French but before the U.S. Open. Also, clay is generally the preferred surface of Latin America so holding these events on hard courts might seem out of place.


Andrew Miller Says:

Nadal showed you have to defeat the king to win Slams. Del Potro understood it at USO 2009 and Roddick certainly gets it. Djokovic does too but doesnt seem to do much about it when they play.

That’s the way slams have gone for oh about…seven years now. You have to beat Federer to win a slam.


Andrew Miller Says:

Maybe sometime this year that won’t be the case, given the improvement Federer has forced the rest of the tour to undertake just to stay afloat, that’s the only thing that can haunt Federer.

But Federer relishes his role as the guy that sets the tone.


Michael Says:

Skorocel, It is difficult to respond to hypothetical questions ? There is that crucial age factor between Federer and Nadal. Nadal’s victory over Federer will have more validity only if he manages to beat him in the next two years because Federer is almost nearing 30. And once over 30, Nadal’s victory over him will not hold any significance at all as Federer might be losing regularly to even lower ranked players due to that age factor and I will be glad if Federer proves me wrong in that regard. True, Nadal holds that H2H edge against Federer, but when one considers that 9 out of his 13 wins against him came on Clay Courts then it can be safely assumed that Federer became a victim of his own consistency. Well, Nadal did beat Federer even in Grass and Hard courts but his dominance in the dirt surface is primarily responsible for this skewed H2H. Nadal is one hell of a player on Clay and that is given. Ofcourse I do not know how good he is today and that will be known when the clay court season begins. But, when you consider that it was only Federer who broke Nadal’s continuous streak in clay courts then we can realize the greatness of Federer who is an all court player unlike some of his illustrious peers. It is just that Nadal is a shade superior on that particular surface. All said and done, you just cannot take away the sheen of SWEET 16 from Federer. It will stay forever as long as Tennis lives as a sport.


TD (Tam) Says:

Oh my, TennisX finally hires a tennis blogger who actually doesn’t have a personal vendetta against Roddick? Hell freezes over! Thanks for the updates Ben. ;)


sar Says:

Speaking of meeting. I will be at IW the first Fri Sat and Sun.

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