Federer Ends Title Drought, Reels in Fish for Fourth Cincinnati Crown
by Sean Randall | August 22nd, 2010, 3:22 pm

Roger Federer snapped a seventh-month title drought today at Cincinnati, but it was anything but easy. Federer fought off a game effort from the streaking Mardy Fish 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-4 to capture his fourth Cincinnati Tennis Masters title. ADHEREL

After two-and-a-half sets of break free tennis, Federer finally converted the first break of the match at 4-4 in the third.

Tactically, I thought Federer zeroed in on Mardy’s backhand far too much instead of his weaker forehand. But at 30-40 at 4-4, Federer played a perfect point moving Fish side-to-side to eventually provoke the error of the backhand.

To his credit, Fish never showed the nerves I thought I he would, and despite spending some 13 plus hours on court this week he appeared fresh and ready for the fight. And fight he did.

After going down in the first set breaker, Federer clawed back and eventually held two serves at 5-4. But, like yesterday, Fish was remained resilient winning both points on Fed’s second serve offerings and then his own serve to seize the opening set and draw first blood.

Fish and Federer each stayed on their game in a tight and tense second set with each playing at a good, high level. Federer saved a break chance and they pushed it to a breaker and this time the Swiss (not the K-Swiss-wearing Fish) overwhelmed Fish.

With Fish serving first, the pressure was on Federer to hold, and Fish worked his way into several of Roger’s early service games. But Roger came up with the big serves when he had to.

Fed closed it out when Fish sprayed a backhand wide at 5-4, 40-30.

The win marks Federer’s first title since his Australian Open win all the way back in February. It’s also his fourth Cincinnati title (he defends his 2009 crown), his 17th Tennis Masters (one behind Nadal) and his 63rd career win (ties him with Borg, one behind Sampras). And it was his first title in pink.

Fish, who had won 16 of 17 matches entering the final, finished with 17 aces losing just five points on serve in the third, but had just once break chance. He is scheduled to play in New Haven starting tomorrow but will likely withdraw after this long week of tennis, one of the best of his career.

Looking ahead to the US Open (I’ll write more tomorrow), if Federer was ever out of that conversation of title contenders, he’s certainly back in it now and he has to be among the Top 3 favorites if not the favorite – I think I’d make him the favorite.

I thought Roger moved really, really well today and he was hitting his forehand exceptionally crisply – he really looked like the old Roger. Apart from displaying some over zealousness of hitting to Mardy’s backhand, I thought he played a great match which is something he needed to do to win against a very hot player. And this victory – with our without new trial coach Paul Annacone – really puts him in position to go deep in New York. If you are a Federer fan you have to be pleased with what you saw today.

For Fish, what a great week and what a great showing today. No nerves, no hiccups – Fed broke him in a well-played 4-all game – and no sign of fatigue. If he can keep his body in check I’d expect big things from Mardy in a week in NY where he’ll be among the Top 25 seeds and a very dangerous one at that.

What a great, entertainment way to end the heart of the pre-US Open lead up.

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173 Comments for Federer Ends Title Drought, Reels in Fish for Fourth Cincinnati Crown

fed is afraid Says:

roger will not win uso

steve Says:

Good luck to Federer in New York!

fed is GOAT Says:

Really? If Federer will not win it, then who is your “expert” opinion is the pick to win it?

ron Says:

best guess..a non-contender will win US open…all the top seeds showed poorly in toronto and cincy. Rafa played the worst match ever against baghdatis and fed basically slept walked to the finals were fish still gave him a run for his money. murray choked and djok still cannot breathe.

angel Says:

yeah right, this USO has written Federer all over it.

Anjali Says:

Agree with your comments. Though, quick question. Do you think Federer is playing his old magical brand of tennis or has he in fact tinkered with his game and rushing the net more as all the commentators appear to say? I think he SEEMS like he’s playing the net more but I seem to recall him doing that in the early days as well. Except, then his footwork set it up so well that it didn’t seem such a big deal as it is now. Also, it looks like he is serving a bit bigger too.

fed is afraid Says:

i haven’t a clue who will win,
but i can’t see rafa or roger
winning it. maybe murray will win

Sean Randall Says:

Anjali, I don’t think he’s returned to the “magical days” of 2004-6 (he never will), but I would say he’s been more aggressive-minded this summer.

Today what I noticed most was how well he moved. He seemed very light on his feet.

steve Says:

Sean: I think Federer was deliberately breaking down Fish’s backhand over the course of the match.

The commentators pointed out that during the second-set tiebreak he went to Fish’s weaker forehand a lot more; that might have been because he knew he needed to win the breaker to stay in the match, and decided to play the percentages.

It seemed to ultimately pay off–the shot that Fish netted to finally drop serve was a backhand. That might just be coincidence, but then again, we are talking about Federer here. The guy knows what he’s doing.

Sean Randall Says:

Steve, that could certainly could have been. I just felt he was attacking and approaching to the net too much on the backhand side.

It worked in the end, however!

bernardo Says:

I agree the magical days of 2004-06 are not back and probably never will, but I think the biggest difference is the “respect” the other players had for him – now, everyone believes Fed is beatable.
Federer will never be as mentally dominant as he once was. And I also agree he is still the favorite to win in NY. Outstanding 5-set match with Murray in the final (or SF, depending on the draw).

truthsquad Says:

It appears to me that Roger is more trim and fit than he was in the Spring and early Summer. That could be a sign that he is working harder to regain his form.

jane Says:

Murray and Fed have recently ended title droughts, and both are in excellent form and shape, plus will have gained confidence from their recent results; I see these two as co-faves for the USO title. Rafa -for his determination-is up there too; over 5 sets he’s a very tough out!!! Someone said if Rafa’s match with Baggy was a 5-setter, Rafa would’ve won, and I tend to agree. As for the rest, if Berdych is injured, then he’s a question mark (he was taped during Fed match in Toronto and saw a trainer in his loss at Cincy); Nole is not at his best level; Soderling could go very deep but not sure he could win it; not sure about Fish over five-sets either, but he doesn’t tend to go very deep at slams (perhaps “new” Fish is different); Roddick is sick but seems okay; Delpo is out; Tsonga may be rusty; Cilic, Hotsauce and Davy haven’t been in best form; Monfils and Isner are injured; Sam? Not sure; Baggy? Not sure … etc. I guess the draw may have some bearing on things too. But I think Murray and Fed seem to be very good bets, with Rafa, pending draw, close in there too.

Von Says:

Congrats to Fed and his fans for his Cincy title! It will be a great confidence booster going into the USO.

I didn’t see the match, but from the comments it seems as though Mardy fought valiantly. He will also have a boost of confidence going into the USO.

Does anyone know what happened to the Bryans? Did they win?
Ike: I’ve been meaning to ask you, where’s Tina?

Dory Says:

This level of play isn’t enough for RF to win USO. He hit more winners than Fish but also made a lot of UEs. Two areas I think he MUST improve are his return game and break point conversion %.

Von Says:

Congrats to Bob and Mike Bryan on their Cincy win.

All in all, not a bad week for US tennis. Two American men in the SFs, one in the final and the Bryans win in doubles.

Who says American tennis is dead??

grendel Says:

“I’ve been playing well the past couple weeks, and today was just another proof that I’m playing really well,” said Federer. “I thought I played an excellent match today. I had huge belief that I was going to win today from the first point until the end. That sometimes can make a bit of a difference. Then I was positive all the way through because I felt I was playing well, even though I lost the first set. So I never got down on myself and doubted myself. I think that reflected in the game as well.”

Surely this is an example of champion-speak? That Fed played a good match is true – because he won despite playing with shackles on him, induced, perhaps, by his huge desire to win and break the drought. Although I daresay he was surprised by how well Fish played. I am surprised that Sean thinks this was an example of the old Federer. I think it was in the sense that he pulled out the W somewhat against the run of play – and he certainly used to do that from time to time in the old days – but I doubt if Sean meant that.
But winning a very difficult match is obviously a confidence booster, so I think Fed goes in as joint favourite with Murray and Nadal (as I think jane almost suggests but can’t quite bring herself to say).

I know people will say:”what has Nadal done to deserve such confidence?” It’s no good people saying his technique is not as good on fast hard as that of several others, that isn’t the point. His mind is a weapon which fully compensates for any perceived deficiencies, especially over 5 sets. Say he beats Murray in the semi. Will anyone seriously suggest he won’t be at least 50-50 in the final? And if Murray is in Fed’s half, who do we suppose could beat Nadal in 5? I just can’t see anyone except perhaps a resurgent Roddick. Nalbandian and Davydenko, for instance, aren’t quite there yet, and Soderling has done nothing to show he can beat Nadal any more.

Tennisfansince76: I asked on the other thread, not realising a new one was up, why you felt low volleying was no longer called for. How can that be so? The fact that Fed missed several could have hurt him badly. Fish had a low volley against Murray which was more difficult than any Fed faced, and he handled it brilliantly. I think he is instinctive on it. Federer says his best play is instinctive, but I don’t think his volleying is – he has to work at it, and perhaps that will detract from the rest of his game?

jane Says:

grendel, “I think jane almost suggests but can’t quite bring herself to say).”

I thought my post was clear: Murray and Fed as co-favorites, with Nadal close behind.

skeezerweezer Says:

Congrats to Fed. The Fedex is back! Prediction for USO? Just let it be. Can’t believe the contintual whiners when Fed succeeds and excuses when Rafa loses, from officiating to would coulda shoulda. Rafa is fine, he has just about won everything up to the HC season, and its not like he is getting kicked out of the first or second rounds. Give credit where credit is due to the opponent who won and wish the your guy luck in the next tourney….

Oh wait, this is a “dysfunctional” tennis blog….oops

Fed won a masters, back at # 2, movement is back, and looks primed to do battle at USO. Go Fed!

Side comment about Murray. Murray didn’t choke, the other guy played better that day, and he just ran out of gas. He just got finished baggin a title going through Rafa and Fed in the same Tourney and then has to come back the next week and play again in the high heat. Murry looked dogged and running on fumes from the start of the tourney in my IMO. Just needs a little recoup time. Look out for Murray at USO!

jane Says:

skeezerweezer, agree with you on Murray’s Cincy run. Also, just to clarify, personally was not making predictions re: winners of USO, just who seems to “look the favourites” going in – i.e., if one were betting type, which I am not. ; ) Who knows what’ll happen in the end?

skeezerweezer Says:


We’re good :), Same here. Wasn’t pointing the finger at you :) ( but you knew that…). Nothing wrong with making predictions and the like, just my IMO. My paragraph melded into something else. Should have started a new paragraph with after “let it be” ( Beatles? )

And you’re right, who knows?

jane Says:

And skeezer, am expecting a full-blown WTF report soon, perhaps before or during last slam of 2010? Hope so! : )

hanes Says:

rafa will win the uso his focus is the slam,he is a smart player.the odds are to his favor,and make that the 9th biggie…wpg man.

skeezerweezer Says:

LOL, tx for reminding me….been on a sabbatical of sorts :)

Daniel Craig Says:

congrats fed, what the hell rafa cudnt even make the semis. good luck to both!

skeezerweezer Says:

Interesting quotes from the Fish about Masters and there historical stamp on history vs GS titles….

“He’s just been there so many times. Clearly he loves the U.S. Open and his record is incredible in grand slams. I feel like he’s a different player even in grand slams as opposed to even Masters 1000 tournaments,” Fish said.

“I think he realizes the importance — when you speak about the best players ever, you speak about how many grand slams they’ve won. I know that Mats Wilander won seven grand slams but I have no idea how many Masters series he won,” he added.

AND, quotes from Fed that I found interesting about the speed at USO, Sean can you clarify?

“Maybe U.S> Open is a bit faster,……”

The remaining article here;


grendel Says:

I took the liberty of interpreting you, jane, since you weren’t entirely clear (imo) and I thought a spot of reading between the lines was in order. Might have been mistaken, of course.

Kimberly Says:

my predictions on USO will depend on the draw in large part, the favorites


Dark Horses

Don’t see any other real contenders

Anyone else have opinions? Any real CInderella candidates?
Gulbis (no)

Kimmi Says:

skeezer – the way i understand the quote from fed on the article you posted is;

‘maybe US open is a bit faster for Nadal compared to other slams…”

i don’t think he meant to say USO is faster than cincy for example….

could be wrong but that is my take.

Cindy_Brady Says:

I agree with “Fed is afraid”. I’m picking Nadal in New York. Something tells me he is finally going to break through like he did at the Australian two years ago.

Federer was a bit lucky this week with the walk over and an early retirement. I still feel he has patches of great inconsistency with too many unforced errors.

I’m not sure Baggy would have been able to beat Nadal in a best of 5 match. Something tells me it is Nadal’s time.

Fot Says:

I’ll think about the US Open next week. Right now – I’m just enjoying this victory by Roger. It had been a long time in between victories so I’m enjoying this victory a lot!

Congrats to the Fish fans as well. He has been playing really well this hard court season too. I just hope he hasn’t played himself out of the US Open!

skeezerweezer Says:

@ C_B,

Something tells me the world will end in 2012 if its played in 5 sets and if luck plays a part…..

David Says:

I’d like to think Murray is a co-favorite with Fed, but there are still too many players out there who can get hot on the day and take Andy out.

With Fed, the match is always on his racquet so that gives him a clear edge over Andy.

skeezerweezer Says:

TX Kimmi :)

aleish17 Says:

Congrats to Fed and this also goes to all ya’ll Fed fans out there! You know who you are. Enjoy the victory!

USO is a different ball game and I’m so excited how the players will do in NY come August 30. =)

jane Says:

“Might have been mistaken, of course.” – no not really grendel, but was trying to say Murray/Fed were a touch ahead on hard courts, with Nadal right behind, especially because of 5-set slam format. So in the end, I think you and I are saying something similar, only that you’d put Nadal on par as tri-fave with Fed/Murray.

David ” but there are still too many players out there who can get hot on the day and take Andy out.”

I do think -perhaps more than in past years?- there are a lot of potential “spoilers” or “dark horses” around, who may not be able to win the whole thing but who could take out perhaps one of the top 5 contenders.

But while the Masters events have offered a few surprised this year, the slams really haven’t – Fed and Rafa.

So the most interesting thing may be whether this final one will be more of the same (Fed or Rafa winning) or if someone else will win a slam for a change.

grendel Says:

This apparently is how the bookies are reckoning:
1. Federer: 27-42%
2. Nadal: 23-30%
3. Murray: 21-28%

They, at least, take strongly into account the importance of “mind” in winning a slam – and I think that refers to Murray as much as to Nadal. Because if tennis prowess on hard courts right now was the only criterion, surely Murray would be way on top.

Some interesting snippets from Fed’s recent interview:”It’s surprising to see no teenagers in the top 100″. I’m glad he said that – I’ve been wondering about the dearth of new faces, Nishkuri came and went, Dogolopov is allegedly 21 and looks 23 or 24, where are all the good young’uns?

“if the draw goes his way he [Nadal] will be in the finals and have a crack at the title, too”. Anyone detect a hint of qualification here?

Q. “Is there any aspect of your game you’re not happy with in today’s match?”
R.F “Yeah, I could have sometimes not messed up some stupid easy volleys I had – then again, he did well to get it down there and keep the ball in play”. “stupid easy volleys?” methinks the lad doth protest too much. They were all low, and that’s why he missed them. Start getting them, and then you talk about “stupid easy volleys”.

Daniel Says:

I think Fed will get used to this number: 17! Just kidding…

blah Says:

Didn’t see this particular match, but from the other matches, Fish’s play this week has been inspiring. Here’s hoping he gets further than ever before at uso.

Congrats to Fed for winning cincy, he’s been bringing his game the last two tournaments, he wants the uso bad.

Mindy Says:

First, congratulations to the Fed fans on his win today. Also, kudos to Fish for a very spirited contest! Well done by both men!


I don’t see anything to quibble about with your viewpoint of how the top players rank going into the Open. Grendel has also made some valid points and the info about the bookies was quite interesting.

I always believe that Rafa has to be considered a strong contender because of his phenomenal mental toughness and will to win. I am not going to read too much into his performance at Cincy. If anything, it will only make him even more determined to do well at the USO. I think Grendel spoke to the fact that Rafa’s mental ferocity and toughness can override his weaknesses on hardcourts.

I think Fed’s win today makes him the odds on favorite for the USO.

I expect some exceptional matches, maybe even some surprises and it should be a treat to watch.

Bring it on!

contador Says:

i’m with Fot tonight…. mostly.

enjoying the moment. whatever the critics say about roger today, he won, something a fed fan has not enjoyed since AO.

did he have the luck of tennis gods? sure. and he could have lost that match today, there were moments i thought he would. those botched volleys were tough to stomach as were the backhand to backhand exchanges. i kept screaming for him to attack the fish forehand. and the inability to convert BP’s; frustrating, as were the second serve returns. was he practicing and all along knew what he needed to do to win? almost seemed that way after watching the match 3 times. but i doubt it.

he got the job done. did not go as smoothly as last year’s cincy final imo. and it haunts me how fed’s first serve fell apart by the us open final last year. seemed he burnt out his back in that serving shootout with soderling and in the effort with djoko. delpo was nervous the first sets in the final but got on a roll and federer had no answer. fed’s ue’s were astronomical and first serves into the net. he was spent and stiff.

in the end, it really was a high price delpo paid getting through rafa and roger to win USO. federer paid the price of winning in 2008. his back was toast that fall. ( and again, by the 5th set of AO 09)

rafa has sacrificed his knees for his career but more than likely is prepared to do the same to cinch the title in NY. i fully expect him to leave every piece of himself out there on the court.

and so i talk myself into leaning toward the spaniard again. he may not have played as well as murray or even bagdhatis in the masters lead up but he’s going to fight and snarl like a mad dog. the prize is a huge one for him. sure this could be muzza’s first slam but for nadal winning uso would be his missing GS title and that is perhaps the strongest of motivations. plus, time is ticking on rafa’s knees on hc. i feel the battle is -murray and nadal.

but there may be someone we are not thinking about. how many picked del potro to win last year? i didn’t ( even if in hindsight it made perfect sense )

guy Says:

fed’s toronto run was the impressive thing not this i’m afraid. and even there he very nearly lost to both djoker and berdych.

this week, let’s be real, he only played three matches for a masters title and only played one toptenner, and that was davy who is struggling to beat anyone right now. i can honestly say i’ve never seen a luckier masters title than this one.

it’s fair though that fed’s usopen chances are looking better.

still it’s strange people think nadal lacks ability on fast surfaces. grass is THE fastest surface whether or not it’s slower than years ago. it’s still the fastest.
he is more vunerable on fast because serve even things out and because more players excel on fast than on clay. but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the technique to play on it.

and i think 08 wimby and 09 Oz demonstrated that on fast surfaces fed and nadal are about even now in a match up, with nadal having a slight edge.

andrea Says:

ferrer took it to nadal at the USO a few years ago….for some reason, this time of year is just not nadal’s time….no matter how much he rests or plans.

but agreed, this masters title was a tad easy for fed…but good for him to grind out a win…he’s slayed three of his demons (guys who beat him the last time they played each other), in the space of 2 tourneys: berdych, baghdatis and fish.

that’s gotta make him feel good.


contador Says:
he got the job done. did not go as smoothly as last year’s cincy final imo. and it haunts me how fed’s first serve fell apart by the us open final last year. seemed he burnt out his back in that serving shootout with soderling and in the effort with djoko. delpo was nervous the first sets in the final but got on a roll and federer had no answer. fed’s ue’s were astronomical and first serves into the net. he was spent and stiff.

If you look at Fed’s serve 3-5 years ago he tossed the ball more to his left and there was a greater arch in his back.

Watch Fed’s serve at 1-1 in the tiebreak in this clip and you will see what I am talking about. Watch how his toss carries him to the left after the serve. His right foot ends up on the center mark and his entire body is on the add side of the court because of the toss.


Skeezerweezer Says:

How long have some been saying that Fed was/is lucky?

Although the saying goes “I’d rather be lucky than good” IMO Fed has proven over time that he is more good than lucky. You can’t do what he has done by just having a lot of luck…..

@guy…doesn’t sound like you have grass court experience. No, Wimbys grass court are not BY any means the “fastest” courts today. Hard courts are “slicker” depending on the amount of “sandlike” material thrown in. Grass is way different, the old days the ball would not bounce up a, not “faster”. Read some history…

guy Says:

it’s interesting about nadal’s so called deficiency on fastcourts. a reality check is needed i think.

from a masters series point of view, he has 5 hardcourt titles which puts him above djoker and equal with murray, roddick.

he is actually much more successful than murray and djoker on fastcourts when you add in the wimbledons and AO and olympics.

in fact there is nobody nadal’s age with more success on fastcourts. which makes the criticisms of his fastcourt play pretty silly. the only current player with more success is federer who is also 5years senior.

it’s true nadal has a bit of trouble dealing with novak on hardcourts, but the same can be said of fed with regards to murray.

having said all that, nadal hasn’t impressed much the last few weeks, but then who has really.

Skeezerweezer Says:

@ 1/2 of the M & M’s,

Great post at 10:10pm

Skeezerweezer Says:

@ 1/2 of the M & M’s,

Great post at 10:10pm

guy Says:


‘the old days the ball would not bounce up’
the same can be said of hardcourts. more spin from players contribute to higher bounce.
the bounce is still lower than hardcourts, which is why players complain of leg soreness from having to get lower on the grass. ever heard of that on hardcourts? find me the interview.

current hardcourts are classed as ‘medium’ speed by and large.

even if you can prove some hardcourts are faster than grass, you cannot deny grass is one of the fastest surfaces around. hence my arguments for nadal’s ability on fast court still hold.

noone is saying federer is lucky to have 16slams. but he was lucky to win this tournament. if you can’t acknowledge that, you’re about as oneeyed as they come. but i think we all know that.

steve Says:

The record just doesn’t support the thesis that Nadal’s able to exploit the five-set format to outlast his opponents at the US Open.

Nadal has an extremely impressive record in five-set matches at the majors.

AO (six attempts): won 4 out of 5
Wimbledon (six attempts): won 6 out of 7
FO (six attempts): never played a fifth set.

But at the US Open, he has ever only played one five-set match in six attempts, way back in 2004. (He defeated the world #139, Ivo Heuberger).

Either he wins in four sets or less, or he loses in four or less. It is also the only major where he has ever lost a match after winning the first set.

His attritional game simply is not as effective on the US Open courts. His strategy of hanging around and hanging around until his opponent is gassed just doesn’t seem to work.

Partly I think it is because he cannot run his opponents around to the same extent, also because their serves are more effective and they can hit through him more easily, but most importantly, I think, because his greatest weapon–mental strength–is affected. He has to think a lot more on those fast hard courts than he does anywhere else. As a result he gets mentally fatigued and makes more errors–which doesn’t happen anywhere else.

When people suggest that AO and Wimbledon show that his mental tenacity can compensate even on faster surfaces, I would point out that even in his younger days (04-07) he was winning five-set matches at the AO and Wimbledon–winning by attrition, by grinding his opponents down until they tired.

He may not have had the skills to beat Federer at the time, but he was beating good players in those five-setters, such Youzhny and Soderling and Murray. (The latter two were not as good then as now, but they were still pretty good).

But that just has not happened at the US Open, either back then or now. Back then streaky but powerful players like Blake or Youzhny could just hit him off the courts at Flushing Meadows, which they couldn’t do at other venues. He could not outlast them over the course of five sets.

Almost always he won quickly or was beaten quickly–and until someone gives me a solid reason why that pattern’s suddenly going to change, I’ll continue to believe it will keep holding.

contador Says:


please allow me to clarify. i mean lucky in cincy due to one opponent retiring and another a walkover.

federer’s wins themselves are not about luck. i meant what happened to his draw in cincy. his win over fish was not luck, that was work and grit, imo. his win over baghdatis was a beautiful performance but baggy was not able to produce the tennis he did against nadal.



and this: the federer last US open against soderling served his heart out; and some pretty fine volleying too. ( different serve )


however he did not serve like that in his match against nole. though the serve had not disintegrated and federer but on a show- his shotmaking and the tweener.

all that great tennis, giving his all took it’s toll on the body.
federer’s first serve was tapped out by the 2009 final.

thanks for the 2005 federer memories. federer at 24 did have that left toss and arched whip ( young limber back ) and his one handed backhand was a powerful weapon. ah maestro : )

also love watching his feet fly and how he was so far off the ground hitting forehands and backhands!

no one does tennis like roger federer

Naderer Says:

Congratulations to Federer….
Spirit of a Champion…!!!
(Yeah he was lucky, but then who said if he had to play more games he wouldn’t hav won? )

If Nadal doesn’t have hardcourt talent, then please …..please give me the names of top 10 players th@ do…..

I’m all ears….eyes

BT Says:

US has a player in the top 10 again this week with Roddick’s semi run putting him back at #9.

madmax Says:

interesting posts everyone.

It’s great, of course, that federer ‘pulled through’. I say that because I didn’t enjoy watching this final as much as the final last year against Novak. Whilst there were some fantastic shots during the match by federer, there were far too many ‘easy’ shots that he missed. I would have liked to have seen more BP conversions, that’s for sure.

Cowan said exactly what Sean said in his article above:

‘Tactically, I thought Federer zeroed in on Mardy’s backhand far too much instead of his weaker forehand’.

Maybe federer was just trying to break it down, but if I am right, this was where a lot of Fed’s UE’s were.

Jane, you mentioned in your earlier post about tsonga, but he has withdrawn due to injury.

As for overall ‘luck’ – guy?, don’t believe in it. What would you have Federer do? Ignore the opportunities he has been presented with? Lose?

You just have to take advantage of the opportunities you have been presented with and monopolise on them, take advantage. So he had an extra day’s rest?

Remember, he came in LATER than everyone else. Arrived in Cinny on late monday morning, received a bye on Tuesday – he had ONE practice session on Tuesday, played Istomin on Wednesday, 7 games, Istomin retired – so back on the practice court for Fed.

All in all, he had ONE day’s extra rest – big deal – spent it on the practice courts.

There was also an argument prior to the mardy match that fed was ‘undercooked’ and this could easily have been the case, remembering that technicall, he had only played one set – or thereabouts – and so hadn’t really found his way around the faster courts, the positioning, orientation of the court, and so the other players, davydenko, baghdatis, had the advantage as they had both played matches on court and so were feeling more comfortable – it works both ways.

All things considered, remember also on the day of the final, Federer had 15 hours to turn himself around after playing the night match at 12.30 am. Fish finished early evening, so had more recovery time and more sleep.

Fed – in terms of rest – would have been at a disadvantage here – but I really think things even themselves out eventually.

We all have our own take on it, but ultimately federer got through, but it wasn’t pretty.

On the positive side, he has done better in two back to back tournaments, with little time to analyse his game – prior to cinny – I saw a lot of tinkering again with Fed in the cinny match in the first set, still trying things out – and I always feel this is a good sign.

He should feel pleased with where his game is at and how he has improved his mental application to players he lost to earlier in the year.

Even if the final wasn’t a classic one, mentally for fed it is the best it has been in a long time, and over two tournaments, fed has beaten those players he needed to beat, so mentally, that is a huge boost to the psychology of his game, having beaten berdych, baggy, davydenko (who he lost to at Doha, but subsequently beat at AO), as well as Fish.

These are all good signs for the Fed, but I do think that the USOpen is the widest in terms of who is going to win –

Well done though to TMF!

grendel Says:

Davydenko beat a hot Ferrer and in the first set he was toe to toe with Federer. So he’s almost back, and he was certainly not an easy opponent. Of course Federer was lucky, but that evens out over a career. Who was impressive? Murray was definitely impressive in Toronto, and so was Federer though less so.

This is way beyond my expertise, but my understanding is that the extra speed of grass is compensated, in Nadal’s case, by the soft surface. No such compensation on a fast hard court. The AO is a slow hard court. b.t.w. Contador, is it true that Fed’s back was shot by the 5th set in AO ’09? I’d not heard that before. I assumed it was just the usual Nadal gremlins in Fed’s mind. This is not an argumentative question – I’m just curious.

guy rigorously questions “Nadal’s so called deficiency on hard courts”.A bit of common sense is helpful here. First of all, Nadal is a very great player. When Federer was recently asked if Nadal could win the US, he replied of course he could – and then put in one or two provisos, which is fair enough. Players as great as Nadal can win anywhere. John McEnroe should have won, and won easily, at RG, his choke against Lendl was about as spectacular a choke as you’ll ever see. But you wouldn’t call McEnroe a great claycourter, whilst Lendl certainly was.

Anyone can see that Nadal is not the same player on hard as on clay or even grass, but he still wins most of his matches because he is such a great tennis player and his mind – which he himself rates as his greatest weapon – more than compensates for his relative unease on a fast hard. Two key words here: “fast” – guy lumps all hard courts together, but that isn’t sensible – and “relative”. Even a relatively uneasy Nadal is going to beat almost everyone on a fast hard.

Meanwhile, Steve’s post is illuminating. Even so, it’s not conclusive. The burning desire which animates Nadal is going to take him past the winning post in New York sooner or later. He did just enough against a very hot Baghdatis (who had toyed with Berdych) to suggest that this year may be his.

Mg Mg Says:

Second set tiebreak score was 7-6(1), not 7-6(5).

Mg Mg Says:

I don’t think Roger will have many chances from the back of the court against top players such as Rafa, Murray and Novak. Which is why he is now rushing to the net more because that is where he excels against good base liners. I think Roger will be the favorite in this year USO. Baggy won the match against Rafa because line judges let him get away with the foot faults and he was serving big for that reason. Brad Gilbert also mentioned from the court-side that his front foot was all over the place.
Anyway it is great to see Roger is playing really well. Hopefully Rafa will also find his best form in NYC.

Skeezerweezer Says:

whining again…….tryin to hide another “excuse” for rafa’s losses…..write a letter to the ATP. BG is a well known Rafa lover. Baggy played well and deserved the win. Give it up already…..bring on USO

Twocents Says:

I’m pretty sure that Cincy sponsor was trying to break Fed’s back with that huge ceramic — to give us American players a better shot at NYC.

Michelle Says:

Congrats to Roger on his first title since the beginning of this season!

As for Rafa, no worries for him! He’s been having a FANTASTIC season so far. He has finished 1 QF and the rest were semi finishes in ALL of the hard court tourneys he’s entered. He’s reached the semi’s twice in a row at the USO (doing so last year with a torn abdomin!)

VAMOS RAFA! Iron out those kinks and go for it! You can do it! <3333333

I think ALL of the players have tightening up to do in their games, whether it be their serve/backhand/forehand/return/etc. So no doubt they will all be training hard to prepare for this year’s USO. So far, three Slams this year:

Australian Open: Roger Federer
French Open: Rafael Nadal
Wimbledon: Rafael Nadal

Will Rafa and Roger continue their dominance of the Slams? Or will Murray step up and finally win his first major? Or will Djokovic catch fire and go on a surprise hot streak? Or will be be some of those very talented dark horses who spring upsets and go on a run?

Can’t wait! For now, I’m just super excited to watch the exhibition on Wednesday! Can’t wait to see Rafa, Serena, Johnny Mac, Azeranka, and Federer goofing around! :D

Michelle Says:

Grendel – GREAT comment! Well done!

Michelle Says:

Grendel – It’s fantastic to read a well-thought out comment from someone who obviously really thinks about the sport and analyzes it fairly. Unfortunately, “fly-by” comments are all too common these days. Contrary to the comments that that simply drip with sarcasm or that are dismissive and lack any kind of thoughtfulness, your comment is a refreshing read.

Thanks for sharing!

David Says:


“The burning desire which animates Nadal is going to take him past the winning post in New York sooner or later”

I love your optimism about Rafa’s chances, but a lot of great players have come and gone without winning all 4 Slams. I wouldn’t be so sure Rafa is going to join the incredibly exclusive club of Roger and Agassi who have won all Slams on 3 different surfaces. It’s probably more likely that his clay-court game will hold him back and he’ll be linked with Borg as two great players who could never win at Flushing.

gypsy Says:

I am so glad Roger won. I am really tired of Fed haters ongoing “lucky Fed”. You cannot just be lucky and have the winning record that he has. You can see that Fed put in a lot of work on his game. He loves tennis and he does want to improve and he is willing to put in the work needed to improve.

I am a little puzzled that Rafa still needs coaching from his box during a game. Brad Gilbert mentioned during Rafa/Baggy match that the umpire gave Rafa a warning about coaching from the box. Rafa is the #1 player and he still needs coaching during a match?

Any way, the USO is around the corner. It is an open field. And I agree with another poster here that Rafa will go all out to win. Should make for an interesting USO.

I will be rooting for TMF all the way.

grendel Says:

Two Cents

Was it ceramic, or was it wood? At any rate, it seemed sort of gross, even hideous, and I couldn’t help wondering what would have happened had Federer dropped it? Given the size of the damn thing, that was not implausible, and I noticed Federer handling it with a certain gingerly befuddlement, as if he were not entirely sure what he was meant to do with it.

It was noticeable, too, that Fish’s ceramic,although smaller – note the phallic symbolism – was much easier on the eye. What if Federer had suddenly decided he wanted that one instead and, forgetting where he was for a moment, had leant over to Fish and suggested a swap.

Fish demurs, Federer becomes insistent, and in the subsequent tussle, both pots crash to the ground. What then? Federer suddenly comes to an awareness of where he is and smiles sheepishly, as if all this has merely been one of the practical jokes he is well-known for, whilst the distinguished elderly presences on the platform start to applaud; for although the proceedings have been unforeseen and deeply unwelcome,not to mention unintelligible, vigorous applause can generally be counted upon to smooth over any situation. These chaps are not captains of industry for nothing.

But the duty of every entrepreneur is never to be caught napping, to proceed as if everything is entirely under control

grendel Says:

last line of the above not meant to be there – forgot to delete. age, you know.

David, it’s not that I’m optimistic about Nadal’s chances, I am actually a Fed fan. In the days when the idea of Nadal winning Wimbledon was unthinkable, his first beaten opponent in the RG final, Puerta, remarked that if this man, Rafa Nadal, wanted to win Wimbledon enough, he was quite sure he would. It is in that spirit that I feel he will conquer New York eventually. I take your point about Borg, but Nadal I think is more stable than Borg, and I can’t imagine him burning out.

Fot Says:

I guess everyone has their opinions. Those who don’t like Roger will always say things like “oh, he got lucky”, etc. No problem. He still won. He may not have played as great as some folks would like, but remember – winning breeds winning. The more you win (any kind of way), the more confident you get. So based on that, Roger said he is very confident for the US Open.

I know Nadal hasn’t faired well these last 2 tournaments, but you have to go back further than that. I haven’t checked, but someone on another forum said it has been about 18 months since Nadal has won any kind of hard court title. THAT plays an important point in not just Nadal, but the other players on tour. When the clay season comes – Nadal has proven he is the best and the other players know that. Even at Wimbledon, Nadal has proven that he can play on grass.

But hard court gives the other players hope because they KNOW that they have a shot at Nadal. It’s not an ‘automatic’ win for Nadal on hard court so other players come out with the thought process that they can beat him. That’s why Nadal is not invensible during the hard court season. He isn’t as confident as he is on clay. And the other players are confident that they have a shot at him on hard courts.

So it’ll be interesting to see how all this pans out. I still think Nadal will be in the mix through the end at the US Open. I don’t know if he can make the final because the format goes against him. Usually Nadal would have played a lot of sets and usually he is in a hard-fought SF. Then he has to come right back the next day for the final (if he makes it). With all the history of the knees on hard court, the stomach pulls, etc., for everyone who say Nadal is in great shape – these things do play a part so it’s just harder for him at the US Open because of the kind of game he plays.

I watched Roger’s final and the thing that is amazing with his game is that you seldome ‘hear’ his feet moving! Fish hit a drop shot and Roger ran to it from the back of the court and you didn’t ‘hear’ anything. No hard breathing, no pounding of the feet – nothing. He was just ‘there’. Even when Murray runs, you can some times here him breathing hard or hear the feet pounding. Same with Djokovic and Nadal. But I heard absolutely nothing when Roger was on the court running. His style has a lot to do with his longevity and his success on these hard courts.


Just checked out the new rankings. Fish has skyrocketed to #21 which is not far from his peak ranking in 2004. He will probably be the 18th or 19th seed at the USO depending on injury withdrawls of players ranked above him. With only a few points to defend at the Pilot Pen he has an excellent chance to move up the rankings even more by year end.

Nalbandian is now #33 which is just outside the seeding range at slams, but once you factor in 2 or 3 withdrawals then he should be one of the bottom seeds, probably 30-32.

David Says:


When talking about Nadal’s abilities, the dividing line shouldn’t be fast court/slow court because we all know how tough he is on grass. But on hard courts, his victories against top 10 players are just simply very rare. By my calculation, he has won 2 matches on hard/indoor courts since IW ’09 against top 10 players – both of them against Tsonga. During that span, he’s lost to Murray twice, Novak three times, Denko three times, Delpo three times, Sod once and Roddick once. So his record against top 10 players is 2-13. And that doesn’t include a thrashing at the hands of Cilic and losses to Baghdatis and Ljubicic.

So if we look at his recent results on the surface that the U.S. Open is played, I think it’s iffy to even say he’s a top 10 player. Certainly his champion’s mind and experience means you can’t count him out completely, but I’d consider him no better than a dark horse.

jane Says:

Hi NELTA, you had posted about Fed’s second serve return on the Baghdatis thread, to which I posted a response; just curious if you have any feedback on the stats picture (I am reposting my comments from that thread below):

jane Says:
NELTA, i think you are a bit of a “stats” appreciator, or you’ve posted some before. Anyhow it seems to me that Fed has a pretty good return game a.t.m. – He is 7th on the season for 1st serve returns (Murray is 6th, Djoko is 1st, Nadal is 12th) and Fed is 15th overall for second serve returns (Rafa is 1st, then Ferrer, then Djok, then Murray …Berdych is 10th, Soda is 14th).

As others have opined, Fed’s break point conversion could use work, perhaps, as he is 44th in that category, whereas Nadal, Soda, Djok and Berdych are all in top 20.

Interesting is that Fed’s first serve percentage is worse than many other top guns’ however, when Roger gets his first serve in he is very likely to win the point, but he’s high up for winning after second serves as well.

So probably – generally speaking, not based on today’s match – if Fed could convert on more BP chances (as Dory noted on another thread), he’d dominate more easily, like he used to do.

August 22nd, 2010 at 5:39 pm

jane Says:
p.s. I realize that stats do not tell “the whole story” but they are part of it anyhow. :)

August 22nd, 2010 at 5:40 pm


One other note about the rankings is Roddick is now 9 so his seeding will place him in a potential rd16 match with a top 8 player.

David Says:


I guess you mean “now” compared to last year, because Roddick’s ranking is up over the previous ranking. It just didn’t go up high enough to avoid the scenario you mentioned.

grendel Says:

I enjoyed your post, Fot

Michelle Says:

The USO is yet another title that some say “Rafa will probably never win”. If I recall, that was said about Wimbledon, then it was said about Austraila, then it was said of his defending his French Open crowns…etc.

If there is one thing Rafa does, is prove his doubters wrong. He has done it time and time again in is illustrious career and I have no doubt that he will soon do it again.

Don’t forget, it took Roger until he was 28 years old to finally complete his career Slam. Give Rafa time, he’s hungry and determined and he’ll figure it out. Vamos!

Everyone knows that they “have a shot” at beating Rafa on a hard court. But when we look back on it, with the exception of Baggy (who isn’t quite ready to handle beating Rafa and Fed back to back), Rafa has lost on hard courts this season toe the EVENTUAL CHAMPION (Ljubicic, Roddick, Murray..) That’s saying something. Personally, I think Rafa’s underrated on a hard court. Yes, he’s without a doubt more vulnerable than the top four, yes there are many players who are more natural on the concrete, but exactly how many of them have actually won multiple Masters and a Slam on the surface?

P.S. I never buy into the whole “warning Rafa for coaching thing”. Rafa’s coach saying “vamos” over and over again does NOT constitute as coaching. Maybe it’s the umpires limited understanding of the language that causes them to be paranoid and assume the worst. All that being said, I’ve seen BLATANT coaching being done from other players and ZERO warnings have been issued. So if umpires are going to “crack down”, then more power to them. But for Pete’s (not Sampras) sake, be darn consistent about it! (whether it be coaching or audible obscenity warnings)

Michelle Says:

Fot – that’s actually one of the many thing that I FLOVE about Rafa’s game. I FLOVE the sound of the squeaking of his sneakers as he dances around his backhand and the sound of his little adjustment steps…THEY’RE BRILLIANT TO WATCH! :D

Rafa has happy feet, they are always moving! :))

David Says:


The difference is though that Fed was the 2nd best clay-court player for years before he finally won. Rafa was the second best grass court player for two years before winning Wimbledon.

On hard courts, like I said, I don’t see how anyone can consider him a top 5 player right now. He doesn’t just lose. He gets pummelled more often than not by Murray, Djoko, etc. I guess he’s lucky Delpo got injured, but that’s not nearly enough for me to give him much of a chance.

Michelle Says:

The fact that Roger had a retirement and a walkover CANNOT be overlooked. Especially when the opponent he faced in the final had played ALL of his matches and in the heat of the day at that. It’s a part of sport, things like that happen. Fed got the win, so why over look a factor that was WITHOUT A DOUBT…well, a FACTOR?

jane Says:

Michelle, “Flove” is an interesting hybrid/neologism. I assume it means “fully love”? ; )

Michelle Says:

But David, how is Rafa not considered as part of the top 5? Rafa had chances to win all of those hard court matches that he lost. His losses this year on hard court are NOT the same as the tail end of last year where he looked lost and every single point was like pulling teeth.

Let’s not forget that Rafa had a little over a month as a layoff. We all know that hard court isn’t his natural surface and so it’ll take him a bit more time to adjust and be ready. I’d say that a semi/QF finish is pretty good. It allowed him to get plenty of match practice. What’s more, it’s HOW he lost that is also encouraging. He didn’t lose being passive, he lost being aggressive (sometimes overly aggressive) and making too many aggressive mistakes.

Rafa knows exactly what he has to fix in his game for the USO. Plus, like a poster before me, the 5 set format favors him as well. In fact, the 5 set format seems to favor Rafa and Roger above everybody else (hence one of the reasons for their dominance.) Also, Rafa was improving all the time during Tornonto and Cincy. He definitely ended better than he started, that’s a very good sign.

Rafa is a proven Champion. He’s determined and he’ll figure it out. He’s working hard and it’ll all click for him. Federer and Murray are definitely THE favorites going in. Djokovic is ALWAYS a threat, although he hasn’t exactly been spectacular lately. But Rafa is also a contender (I think after Murray and Federer). How can he not be?

Michelle Says:

Jane, yeah, it could mean that! But the way I use it, it’s actually “f**king love.” ;D

gypsy Says:

Michelle, the coaching thing was not verbal. Brad Gilbert said the ump saw the coach make hand motions and then saw Rafa do exactly the same thing when he started playing Baggy.That was why he received a soft warning. And Brad Gilbert is a total Rafa fan. And I do agree with you, they need to enforce rules equally with all players.

And yes, we get it. You do not “FLOVE” Roger or even like him.

David Says:


Well, I admit you’ve spelled out the “glass half full” argument very eloquently. Certainly his chances can’t be ruled out. But I guess I’d put his chances at about the same level of Sampras winning the French in the mid-1990s. He was the top-ranked player. You couldn’t count him out. But his game just didn’t fit the surface.

Michelle Says:

Also, David, it’s sad that Del Potro won’t be able to defend his only Slam. Although I know you meant nothing by it, it kind of makes me wince to read that “Rafa’s lucky Del Potro got injured”. Especially since Rafa has had more than his fair share of injuries and injury-related heartbreaks (i.e. not being able to defend Wimledon) and he wouldn’t wish that on anyone or view Del Po’s absence as a positive.

Of course you meant to illustrate the point that Del Potro is a major threat on the surface and the fact that he won’t be there (no matter how sad) will maybe “ease” Rafa’s road at the USO. Though, I’d like to add, I think it’ll ease EVERYBODY’S road. Let’s not forget who he beat in that final last year. ;)


Michelle Says:

Gypsy, I wouldn’t take Gilbert’s word as gospel. ;)

“And yes, we get it. You do not “FLOVE” Roger or even like him.”

How did this come about?

David, thank you. :P
But I have a question, isn’t Rafa’s track record on the hard stuff (the fact that he actually WON a Grand Slam and a handfull of Masters titles on the surface, sometimes beating high quality hard court players like Federer/Murray/Djokovic on the way to the title) better than what Pete’s record was on the soft stuff?

David Says:

No, I wouldn’t wish injury on anyone. Even though I’m not much of a Delpo fan, it’s good to hear that he’ll be back soon. I still think he’s got a great chance to be No. 1 and win some more Slams.

David Says:


I think there’s a good argument that his record’s better. He’s made the semis of the USO a couple times while Pete’s typical result early in his career at the French was quarters. Pete won Rome but Rafa’s won several hard-court MS events and been to more finals. My doubts are with the speed of the court. I think on slow hard Rafa would be one of the top favorites because it probably wouldn’t be possible to outplay him from the baseline, but I understand that the U.S. Open plays as fast as anywhere outside of Cincinnati.

David Says:

And obviously Rafa won the 2009 AO, like you said. One match in that tournament was really interesting for me – the one against Simon. A couple of months earlier at an indoor event (Madrid? Paris?)I thought Simon was controlling the rallies against Nadal with his flat backhand, but at AO Rafa had total control on a slower court. That’s the dynamic I’ll be looking at at the USO as soon as Rafa gets up against a guy with a strong 2-hander.

Skeezerweezer Says:

Yawn…..boy it sure sounding like sour grapes again….this stuff is like putting peanut butter in a dogs mouth ….rafa is picked on by the officials for coaching……his opponent continually double faulted otherwise rafa would have won……..now I gotta read where rafa lost to the eventual winners on every HC tourney this year? Did you miss the one that just finished? I thought Fed won?

On another note, good luck to rafa & Fed at USO, and watch out for Murray…

Twocents Says:


Who said drama is dead? Your script above is up there together with Fed’s viral stunt William Tell.

I double checked with a fan who attended yesterday’s final: the trophies are ceramic. Hideous is too generous a word for the winner’s trophy. I would not blame Mirka if she used it as a sub for Diaper Ginie… What is it with these chaps in Cincy? They got two gorgeous crystal trophies last year, but with wrong sizes for winner and runner-up. This year, they got the sizes about right (too much a difference though), but the runner-up trophy is so much more elegant. See, the runner-up indulgence, obviously.

Happy for Fed. Did he have to beat all these super-dupper nice guys like Davy, Baggy, and Fish?!

Twocents Says:


Grapes are good pass time till Thursday USO draw…

I actually don’t give much to draw. Since 2008, Fedal only took 3 of the big 4 majors. Why should this year be different?

contador Says:


please understand i am not taking anything away from a win when i bring up federer’s serve problems and back issues but they are more apparent imo with his diminished power, especially to his backhand and evidenced in the changes he has made to his serve.

federer served well during the AO 09 like USO 09 but by the final against delpo and final against rafa, you can see how stiff fed is: a lack of arch in his back, the change in toss, lower back stretching he does between points – but none of this diminishes his opponents win. to ignore it is impossible, however.

if you compare how federer was serving in the link NELTA provided from 2005 to a clip of the way federer serves now, certain changes are clear. i doubt federer would change the toss and that “liquid whip” serve to what he has now if it wasn’t necessary.

that said, what he has now is still pretty great, as you can see in the soderling 2009 us open match youtube link.

it’s a matter of wear and tear and loss of flexibility, really. after winning uso 08 federer admitted back problems and took time off. after losing AO 2009, federer finally admitted to back issues by indian wells. win or lose, getting through the marathon to a final in a GS is going take its toll- a price of winning or losing in those battles.

federer had similar physical issues in winning the slams he did when he was younger but naturally it takes more time to recuperate and more thought about making shot adjustments for winning matches 6-7 years later. federer’s back was an issue in his run to winning his first slam in 2003, ( i can produce the article but it would take time looking ) a post win interview in which he commented that he nearly retired, not in the final but in an earlier match and he was thrilled he toughed it out ( of course.)

i don’t doubt that rafa’s knees haven’t suffered the same consequences of all his winning. even though rafa was running like a rabbit during the soderling match at FO 09, i believe his knees were toast after being on that 5 month winter / spring run in 2009. it does not take away from federer’s win in madrid or soderling’s at FO. and certainly not federer’s at FO.

similarly, if federer is knocked out early it does not take away from nadal’s win at US Open, should it happen.

let’s be fair.

bodies breakdown and build up again, given enough rest. and rafa now has the benefit of trying a different treatment for his knees, PRP. but we don’t know the long term efficacy.

when i watch the AO 2010 against murray, i think murray more lost that match than federer won it. in fact if federer hadn’t closed that final out when he did, i believe muzza would have won if he took federer to 5.

woulda, coulda, shoulda….

yet, i can’t help thinking AO 2010 took its toll on both of them: winner and loser- in different ways. both are now winning which is great news for tennis.

federer won wimbledon 09 with grit and determination. he rested afterward and his weapons and footwork by cincy 09 and through the semi final at us open held up. his serve however, was starting to crack in that djoko match. it’s my opinion that federer won that match with his shot making and some help from nole. also my opinion that he could have won the us open final against delpo had he been able to close it out in 3.

to delpo’s credit, he pushed federer past his us open 09 limit ( as rafa did in melbourne 9 months earlier ) and won. again, the price – delpo now admits that his wrist was not 100% as early as spring 2009. he was not the same after winning us open and by shanghai, admitted just that. the guy showed his determination by getting as far as he did at O2. finally he had to face the injury and deal with it and i am glad he is taking his time coming back. he needs confidence in that right wrist to hit those huge forehands!

back to rafa, as i said last night. i think rafa will do no less than leave every part of himself on court to win US Open. everyone knows i am not the biggest fan of nadal’s tennis but i will feel very bad for him if he does not win while putting forth the effort i believe he will.

i am not convinced murray and djoko will do the same ( fight as hard as nadal ) to win. i hope i am wrong. maybe in muzza’s betrer dreams post AO 10, he has worked out how he will beat federer in a GS should they meet.


Hi Jane,

For points won returning 1st serve here is the ranking on the ATP site:

1. Chela 35%
2. Monaco
3. Ferrer
4. Federer 34%
5. Djoko
6. Ferrero
7. Murray 33%

The 1st thing you have to realize about this stat is it will be skewed for players with a large proportion of clay court matches to total matches played. It’s easier to return 1st serves on clay and if you play in a lot of the 250 tournaments you will face players with relatively weak 1st serves. Monaco, Chela, Ferrer and Ferrero played all the clay court tournaments in season plus all the out of season ones. Fed, Djoko and Murray have a smaller number of clay matches to inflate their 1st serve return stats. I would have expected Nadal to be higher because he played 22 clay matches. This shows that his 1st serve return is indeed weak. Nadal has the best ground game and defense so if he was getting just a few more 1st serve returns in play he would be near the top of the list.

As you can see the winning margin on 1st serve returns is very low(35%) even for the best so it is not the most important part of your game. Being a great 1st serve returner only gets a few extra returns in play during the match. If Nadal improved his 1st serve return stats to match Federer then he would only win 2 more points per 100 1st serve returns. Then again over the course of a match getting 5 more 1st serves in play(and winning 2 of those points) against a big server could be a difference maker at the USO for Rafa.

PMac and Gilbert were discussing Fed’s 1st serve return during the Baggy match and they came to a consensus that in PMac’s words “it’s a little easier to get the ball by Federer on the 1st serve” I would agree he’s not quite as quick out of the split step when reacting to the 1st serve.

I’ll save discussion of the 2nd serve return for another post.

skeezerweezer Says:


“..Mirka if she used it as a sub for Diaper Ginie.

Friggin hilarious!

contador Says:

s/b “better dreams” not betrer or beterer federer dreams… oops

skeezerweezer Says:


After reading your post one may come to an overall conclusion that one’s career is not just how good you are but a battle of survival in fitness, health, and timing, no?

jane Says:

NELTA – you make things so clear; firstly, thanks for posting the updated statistics (the numbers i had must’ve been pre-Cincy). Secondly, what you say about clay and first serve returns makes perfect sense and explains some of the top performers in this stat category. But it’s also very enlightening to hear your take on the importance of this stat for each player, particularly the potential difference it could make for Rafa at the USO, i.e., if he could get 5 more first serves in play and win two of those points, that could lead to a break of serve, which in turn could make all the difference for him against a big server. On the other hand, the winning margin is low, but I suppose 35% is still 35% and could be very meaningful in a long match.

I look forward to your thoughts on second serve returns.

Cheers, thanks for taking the time to respond.

i am it Says:

steve Says: “The record just doesn’t support the thesis that Nadal’s able to exploit the five-set format to outlast his opponents at the US Open.”

In addition to the record, an unorthodox view, at least for the sake of argument, would be the durability factor. It certainly sounds scandalous to question Rafa’s durability, but on a low bouncing quicker hard courts, Rafa might feel pressure (both physical and mental, each feeding in a loop) not to strain his already weak knees, especially after 2 hard court Masters in the span of 2 weeks; therefore, longer 5-setter matches might not necessarily benefit Rafa at the USO.

Grendel says:
“This is way beyond my expertise, but my understanding is that the extra speed of grass is compensated, in Nadal’s case, by the soft surface. No such compensation on a fast hard court.”

You make an excellent point here, expert or otherwise. On faster hard court, Rafa’s movement is slower, partly due to the caution that he takes to prevent hurting his knees, resulting in a fractionally slower response. Yes, on hard surface, he is deprived of the worry free movement of grass and clay. He cannot freely run and slide on hard. In a bit contrast to AO, IW, and Canada, where the ball bounce is higher, thus more travel time, the ball bounce on USO, Cincy, and Miami is lower, forcing him not only to bend but also respond not as quickly as he does elsewhere.

Another point is it is easier to attack his weaker backhand on faster hard court, especially if you do it with quickness and pace repeatedly. Regarding this problem, here is what Rafa had to say the other day after losing to Baghy, “But maybe it’s because I wanted to protect the backhand, no? But I think if my backhand improve all my game’s improve, because my movement’s gonna improve a lot because I didn’t have to cover the backhand with the forehand. So I gonna cover better the position on the court. I can serve with more calm the first serve, because if I miss the serve and he has a return, for me it’s no problem to play with the backhand. But right now, when he had a good return to the backhand, I started all the time the point in the very bad position. So I think the backhand change all my game, because I had to make too much adjust to save that shot” [sic].

guy says: “from a masters series point of view, he has 5 hardcourt titles which puts him above djoker and equal with murray, roddick.” Then, guy unscrupulously but confidently adds: “in fact there is nobody nadal’s age with more success on fastcourts. which makes the criticisms of his fastcourt play pretty silly.”

Let’s compare Rafa with one of the younger players he references:
Besides 4 Masters on hard, Djoko also has 1 Grand Slam title (AO), 1 Grand Slam final (USO), 1 Masters Cups (WTF) title, and 4 Masters Series finals on hard. Of his 17 titles, 13 came on hard, and 6 of his 11 finals were on hard. His H2H with Rafa on hard is 7-3, which is more than double. You can add other variables such as AO, Canada and IW being slower than USO, Cincy, and Miami. If we are measuring how good a player is on a particular surface, all these numbers must count for something, right?

Despite all these (we can present 10 good counterarguments), I think Rafa has an excellent hard court game and shot at the USO, even if we relegate him to the 3rd favorite for the title.

Finally, Madmax Says: “interesting posts everyone.” Yours was not less. Seriously, it was more than a song.

Twocents Says:


Even before AO09, Fed mentioned he did not have enough time to recover his back injury from Shanghai TMC. I actually attribute part of his tear at AO09 post-match to his bitterness of knowing he could never bring up his back issue for this loss — he told of his mono issue two months after he lost AO08 and still got riddiculed till today.

After USO09, German media mentioned that Fed teared a thigh muscle in his QF with Soderling, and he did have muscle and back issues in the final.

Fitness is part of the game, granted. And kudos to Nadal and JMDP for playing great when it counted. But allow Fed some human features such as faitigue, pains, and aches. Just becuz he did not broadcast it in the past does not mean they do not exist.

I’m glad that Fed now is more and more freely talking about his fatigue and aches than before, as he steps down from the cloud. And by chance? Nadal begins to talk about his perfect health, as he porches the pinnacle. Nature’s order.

madmax Says:

I am it,

thank you so much for your earlier comment.

‘Finally, Madmax Says: “interesting posts everyone.” Yours was not less. Seriously, it was more than a song.

August 23rd, 2010 at 2:54 pm’

I take that as a HUGE compliment…I think? from someone (YOU) who REALLY knows about the game, backs it up often with stats, and much more, and whom I learn from on a regular basis.


Two cents

Your last paragraph:

‘I’m glad that Fed now is more and more freely talking about his fatigue and aches than before, as he steps down from the cloud. And by chance? Nadal begins to talk about his perfect health, as he porches the pinnacle. Nature’s order’.

August 23rd, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Have to disagree Twocents.

Nadal has frequently talked about his injuries during interviews as have other players – the only player up until a few months ago who hasn’t ‘laid it on the line’ in terms of his aches/pains/injuries has been Roger, which is why it caused such a stir when he mentioned his soreness/fatigue after he lost to berdych.

Roger is a class act in terms of giving interviews – more than any other player – always giving the most time to reporters – 45 minutes – this has been widely reported – not just in one language, but three, though he speaks four. English, French, Swiss German – can you imagine how difficult it must be to answer the same questions over and over and over again? I’m surprised he has been able to keep himself in check for 10 years.

It’s quite amazing really when you give it the thought it deserves.

He’s earnt the right to be more honest in his interviews, despite the criticism that has been thrown at him.

madmax Says:

There are plenty out there in terms of what has been said in interview, Twocents, here is one example:

How do you feel: mind, body and limbs?
The mind, better than ever, with maximum illusion [sic] after being off for a time. Physically, well. Apart from the abdominal, the knees have not been a problem since I’ve been back. And that is always important when one is coming from an injury like the one I’ve had. It gives you confidence.

contador Says:

skeezerweezer… LOL- you sum up in a sentence what it took me book to write….

and yeah, i was tiptoeing around the straight up answer to grendel’s question about federer back in the final of AO. ; )

there are reasons to handle a question like that – uh, delicately.

it’s very obvious, really. but it would not have been right for federer to come out and say ” i lost in the end, cos my back blew up, ” in the moment of defeat.

nadal waited how many weeks or days to come out and admit his knees were killing him to distraction and had been for some time after FO?

and Twocents, yup.

“my bad knees /back/ whatever were the reason you won, buddy,” isn’t a sporting or tactful thing to say, even if it’s mostly true. the thing is: the other guy won, no matter how true one’s reason or excuse is. whether one sees a reason or an excuse or vice versa, depends on a bias in people’s minds.

personally, i am glad federer is talking more freely too, although it opens the door to criticism and ridicule.

double standards…

Twocents Says:


I like Fed’s interviews, past & present.

madmax Says:

and here’s another one from roddick, again, talking about injury during a news conference:

Roddick Injury

Roddick, who was the last American man left at the Australian Open, struggled with a sore shoulder during his loss to 21-year-old Cilic.

“I think I aggravated something,” the 27-year-old American said in a news conference. “The trainer said it was stemming from the neck down. By the end of the first set, I was pretty numb in the bottom two fingers. I was just having trouble controlling it.”

It’s a little unfair I think when people discuss fed bring up injuries in press conferences. How many times can you count in interviews that he has done this? I bet on 1 finger.

Yet, others (two above for example), mention then and don’t really cause the ruccus it did when Fed mentioned it.

Kimberly Says:

I’ve read all of the comments about rafa/fed and the USO and my thoughts are:

Rafa will have a bear of a time getting to the final. I am a Rafa fan but I acknowledge he will need a little help from the draw or help by no shows (tough players losing early and “no showing” at the anticipated quarter final or 4th round match).

His chances are better than the previous two tourneys because most people can’t stay with Nadal mentally for five sets. Someone best chance would be to blast him off quicker (4 tops).


SG Says:

There aren’t a lot of guys out there who can yank Rafa out of his comfort zone on any surface. Fed and DelPo can on a hardcourt. Particularly a fast one.

To me, Fed’s the favorite going into the USO. He’s been in the final 6 consecutive times. I think DCII is his best surface. The surface rewards a good serve and allows you blast groundies thru the court. And Rafa’s the only one in the draw that can really get inside Fed’s head. Even at 29, Fed’s hardcourt weapons are formidable.

In three weeks, I suspect we’ll be talking about Fed’s revival and how he’ll win more than 20 majors.

skeezerweezer Says:

Kimberly says,


I wouldn’t disagree….

grendel Says:

Contador –

this business of bringing up injuries is, as you say, an extremely delicate matter. In point of fact, I think the problem is irresolvable. Because it’s all very well saying something along the lines:”look, so and so fully deserved his win; it so happens that my – was injured. It’s true that it affected my play. Even so, whatsit deserved his win”. No matter how you phrase it – and you could be a lot more diplomatic than my example I daresay- you are inevitably planting in your interlocutor’s mind the thought that had you not been injured, the result of the match might have been different.

On the other hand, just as a point of information, it is surely desireable to know that so-and-so is carrying such-and-such an injury.

How do we get round this conundrum? Strictly speaking, so far as I can see, you can’t. Perhaps one partial solution – unsatisfactory but better than nothing – would be to have a culture which is entirely open about players’ injuries (and illnesses). Then if, for example, a player’s serve seems to be restricted and this player is known to have back issues – there is a simple explanation. It doesn’t have to be an excuse, because after all it is known that it is the style of serving (say, arching of the back) which has originally induced the injury – and that’s just too bad. The player took a risk, so he pays the consequences – it’s a tough old world. After all, supposing a player was undergoing a certain private turmoil. This might well affect his performance in an important tennis match. But if he adduced his emotional suffering as the reason for his loss at a presser, say, all the journalists would suddenly seem to have vanished – they’d be lying on the floor howling with helpless laughter. And yet it could be true. However, it’s accepted that that’s just too bad. So he’s a head case, would run the generally unsympathetic commentary.

Whereas a physical injury is somehow seen as a grossly unfair intervention preventing the player from enjoying his rightful triumph. In such circumstances, honesty is hard to come by, noone knows what to believe and everybody is suspicious of everybody else.

What is productive of scepticism is if a player is quiet about injuries and only mentions them following defeat. Such scepticism may be entirely unjustified, but it’s quite inevitable. So, be open about it.

Madmax – my reading of Two Cents was that he was pointing to a certain irony: Fed’s injuries tended not to be broadcast whereas the state of Rafa’s knees, for instance, would be subject to daily bulletins. But now that Fed has started alluding to various pains, Rafa is saying everything in the garden is rosy. Worthy of a small smile, don’t you think?

b.t.w., if arching of the back when serving is responsible for Fed’s back pains (and who knows, I’ve suffered back pains intermittently all my life, and I haven’t the slightest idea why and nor have any of the experts), then what are we to say about Cilic? He looks like he might run into deep trouble when he’s a little older. If he doesn’t know, he ought to be made aware of it.

madmax Says:

I’ve picked out a couple of things that Mardy said in his interview about two things that fans here have been discussing about fed:

1) his overall game
2) his serve

Just really interesting to see what one of Fed’s peers thinks about his game and general ‘decline’:-

Q. You’ve played Roger now seven times. Do you think his level has fallen off just a little bit from when he was really dominant?

MARDY FISH: No. I mean, no. Everybody’s gotten better. Rafa has really improved his game, particularly at Wimbledon. Roger has clearly owned that tournament for a while. He’s as good as anyone at the US Open. Has been maybe ever. So I don’t think so, no.

Q. What beyond the obvious, the one break, what was the difference between you and him today?

MARDY FISH: Well, it was just a few points. You know, in that game I had a breakpoint in the third set; I had maybe two forehands on my racquet. Might have been 3-2 me or something. That’s one point that goes the other way, and you’re in a really good spot there to win.
That being said, there was probably a ton of those. You know, some deuce points, he served —

God, he served so well at the 30-All points. Had a lot of 30-Alls. He went most of ’em down the T and made almost everyone of them.

I didn’t have many looks on the second serve. He really took care of his second serve really well.

David Says:

I’d love for Rafa to make the final. For one thing, he’d pretty much lock up year-end No. 1 by doing so.

But I think his legendary ability in the clutch is a bit overstated. Remember, Sampras was also “unbeatable” in Slam finals, but eventually lost a couple late in his career even on a surface that suited his game very well.

So I think it would probably make sense for Rafa to lose a Slam final at the USO, considering that tournament’s played on his worst surface.

skeezerweezer Says:


Thanks for that. I saw Fed and I thought his second serve looked more dominating this tourney, although there were some comments made about his second serve? I don’t know, maybe I was seein things but was good to see Fish say that about Feds second.

My Tennis teacher once told me when I was a wee bit younger that in your service game “your only as good as your second serve”

Then I think of Rafa and I betcha he thinks…. “Phooey”

grendel Says:

SG – good to know you think Fed’s still up for it, even though your Wimbledon prediction for a Federer win didn’t come off.

Given,then, your pick of Fed and also your belief (with which I agree) that:” Rafa’s the only one in the draw that can really get inside Fed’s head.”: what happens in the event of a Fed/Rafa final?

Will Fed exorcise the demons? Or will they play their traditional role, painfully dragging him to a long, drawn out, 5 set defeat?

David Says:


By my calculations, there have been only 2 painful five-set defeats in that rivalry.

The 2005 Miami final and the 2007 Wimby final ;)

Von Says:

Roddick’s mention of his injury is slightly different from what’s being stated on players talking about injuries. Roddick had no choice but to mention his injury as he had to take an MTO and be give medication due to the tingling and numbness he was feeling during the match. The press conference was directly AFTER the match, not months later.

To reiterate, the injury occurred during the match, and it’s the reason Andy was asked about it and he had to answer. That is much more different from a player who’s played a match months ago and lost, but then brings it up in a press conference after so much time has elapsed, and mentions it as a reason for losing.

Von Says:

NELTA/Daniel: Verdasco is the defending champ at New haven, 250 points, and he is ranked 8th, just a few points in front of Roddick. The draw for the USO will be out on Thursday, which is a few days prior to New Haven being wrapped up. How will those points that Verdasco left undefended, factor into the seeding? Will roddick remain at 9 or will he move up to 8.

Thanks for a clarification — it’s appreciated.

grendel Says:

one’s happenstance, two’s traditional – whilst three’s the ring of doom….

Von Says:

After reading my post again, I think I know the answer to my question and and can answer myself. I believe the USO is going to base the seeding on the ranking points for Monday, August 23rd. New Haven points will probably come off on the 30th. Therefore, Roddick will remain at No. 9. Too bad Andy, Verdasco lucked out.

Twocents Says:

Thanks a million, grendel, for clarifying my (stupid) point to lady mad in a way I dare not dream of. Spot on.

Von, Roddick rarely brought up his physical issues. Same with Safin, Hewitt, etc. all Fed’s generation. Be fair to Nadal, not him but Uncle Toni started this knee-doom song in 2005 in Shanghai TMC. I kind of feel Nadal is on his way to outgrow the big uncle’s umbrella :-)).

Von Says:

From Mardy’s answer about Fed getting better. He’s answering in an evasive manner. He stated *everyone’s gotten better*. And, in speaking in general terms, that includes Fed.

I suppose the question should have been: “Has Fed gotten better way above the others”?

Michael Says:

all feels right in the tennis world when Federer is winning things

keep it going Fed.

Von Says:

Two Cents: From the little I know of Roddick, (I don’t claim to know him very well as I’m only a fan) he always plays down his injuries. I’m positive he knew about the mono and what was happening to him, but he waited until he felt it was somewhat under control and/or nearly over before mentioning it. He most probably found out about the Mono when he came down with the stomach virus at Madrid.

Andy stated to Brad gilbert on Saturday, when asked how he was feeling and if he had anything left in the Tank. to which he replied, (not verbatim) “once you take the court then you lose the right to all excuses,” or something to that effect.

grendel Says:

Von – don’t you think Mardy Fish’s point might have been: it’s not that Fed’s declined, it’s that others have caught up with him. Given that this is a comment which some people who are not generally well disposed to Federer make, this sounds odd, since Fish clearly intends to be complimentary to Federer. I think the truth, so to speak, as Mardy sees it that is, slipped out inadvertantly! At any rate, that’s my take.


Here are the stats for points won returning 2nd serve:

1. Nadal 57%
2. Ferrer
3. Djoko
4. Murray 55%
5. Ferrero
6. Davy
7. Rochus 54%

17. Federer 51%

You still have a somewhat smaller clay court effect and a few other anomalies(Hewitt, Rochus), but 3 of the top 4 are in the same position as their ranking which tells you their overall game is an important part of this stat, not just the single shot of hitting the 2nd serve return.

Fed is way down the list at 17 so for someone who is ranked 2 in the world he should be higher. He mentioned in a few of his interviews that he has not been satisfied with his 2nd serve return and that he has been working on it with Annacone. There was a noticeable effort to be more aggressive on the 2nd serve return starting with his 1st match in Toronto.

Fed’s low conversion rate on break points I’m sure is partly related to his poor return of 2nd serve, but there are other factors such as a lack of confidence which tends to show most on the big points. His results the last 2 tournaments should help in that regard.

I think Murray, Djoko and Ferrer are the most well rounded returners when you take 1st and 2nd serve returning into account. Davy is pretty well rounded too. Rafa is at the top of the 2nd serve category and Fed is at the top of the 1st serve return. This is averaging everything together. I’m not talking about specific surfaces. For example, I would take Murray’s or Djoko’s 2nd serve return on a fast hard court over Rafa, but on clay it’s Rafa all the way.

grendel Says:

NELTA – the results of your researches on service return are intriguing – I’m glad jane commissioned you for this task…
What about Nalbandian, then? Does he slip through the net because he’s been out of action for so long? After all, many commentators reckon him to be the best returner of all – and so far as I can see, he’s strong on both first and second serve returns.



To the best of my knowledge the rankings are only updated once per week so anything that happens at the Pilot Pen will not be reflected in the rankings until after the USO draw has already been created. That means Andy will still be the 9th seed even though he will be the 8th ranked player in the world when play begins.

Actually, they just named the seeds today. The draw will be revealed Thursday afternoon.


Von Says:

Grendel I think Mardy is saying that Fed’s game has not declined, but the others have, or are catching up to him, which is why Fed’s game to some, seems to have declined, and/or he’s not improved. Further, given that they are all improving, including Fed, then yes, Fed has also improved.

I think Mardy was trying to compliment the other players as well, including himself, while ensuring that he’s not in any way, speaking negatively about Fed.

Re my post http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2010-08-22/5038.php#comment-159873 @ 6:49 pm, could a stats person clarify my thinking? Thanks to anyone who’s willing to do the math — it’s appreciated.

Michelle Says:

David –

Yeah, the USO hard court is supposed to be the fastest. It’ll definitely help things if the courts were to slow down a wee bit…maybe due to weather conditions? ;) Hmm, wasn’t the Beijing Olympics played on a court similar (if not almost exactly the same)?

“One match in that tournament was really interesting for me – the one against Simon.”

David! I remember that match quite well! It was also one that stood out in my mind (along with that insane match Rafa played versus Tommy Haas where he hit an astounding 83 winners to just 8 UFE!) I remember thinking (when watching the Simon match) how differently Rafa was approaching the match. Simon isn’t an offensive player (thought he is very capable of causing damage when he makes up his mind to hit that backhand!) So when Rafa played him in Madrid (I believe it was David) Simon was just using Rafa’s pace of shot and redirecting it brilliantly, and from there he’d work the point. At AO, however, Rafa changed this. He decided that he wasn’t going to give Simon ANY sort of pace to really feed off of, the result? Slice the heck out of the ball! I remember watching the match and being so impressed with how well he adjusted his tactics, Simon looked bemused by the end of the match as they shook hands and exchanged hugs at the net.

“Rafa gets up against a guy with a strong 2-hander.”

Yup! Pesky strong 2-handers! But the thing with Rafa is, struggle as he may, he’s ALWAYS working and tweaking to find the code against a particularly tricky opponent. I recall when Berdych was one of those players whom Rafa struggled against and lost to…that has turned around in dramatic fashion. Blake (though he’s a 1-hander) was also one of those players. So was Nalbandian (that man is super talented he’s still a serious threat to everyone!) I’m also excited to see just how Rafa steps up and fights for this title.

Until then, are you excited to watch the “Lights Out” exhibition on Wednesday? :))


Excellent question Grendel. How could I forget about Dahveed, one of the best returners. For some reason he does not show in the group stats anywhere. If you go into his profile it shows his numbers and he is 36% 1st serve returns won and 59% 2nd serve returns won which would put him in 1st place in both categories.

jane Says:

Hi NELTA, thanks again for your expertise/opinions on second serve returns; this bit —

“Fed’s low conversion rate on break points I’m sure is partly related to his poor return of 2nd serve, but there are other factors such as a lack of confidence which tends to show most on the big points. His results the last 2 tournaments should help in that regard.”

— confirms what I was sort of wondering (i.e., is Fed’s second serve return at all connected to his break point conversion or lack thereof? ) after seeing your post on his 2nd serve returns and also reading various Fed fans’ lamentations about his break point conversion rate. Lack of confidence (or nerves) shows up especially during his matches with Rafa, as he seems to have particular trouble converting b.p. chances against him. Mind you, the left handed serve could be a factor too. But even against Davydenko in Cincy, I think Fed converted only 3 of 11 chances.

Anyhow, it was interesting to read your thoughts.

Michelle Says:


“So I think it would probably make sense for Rafa to lose a Slam final at the USO, considering that tournament’s played on his worst surface.”

I think that if Rafa makes the Slam final he will not care if he’s in a body bag…He’ll be so full of fire that he’ll probably scare the heck outta me! That guy just has too much determination, heart, and hunger to let an opportunity like that pass! Alas…..it’s a long, long, long time before anyone is slotted in the final. I think I’ll go the way of Rafa and take it one match – one set – one game – one point at a time. *_*

David Says:


Fish also said of that match that that early service hold he scraped out may have kept him from being steamrolled.

It means he knows the match happened to be very close, but it also could’ve been 6-2, 6-3.

So even though the field has gotten better, that doesn’t mean Fed isn’t still capable of outclassing everybody.

Michelle Says:

Madmax –

“Roger is a class act in terms of giving interviews – more than any other player – always giving the most time to reporters”

While I agree that Roger does indeed give long interviews, I’d put Rafa up there in terms of his attitude towards the media. Win or lose he’s always patient with their (extremely tiresome) questions. He always greets them with a “Khello” and even holds the door open when there’s someone behind him. He’s rarely ever snippity (though he can throw out witty one-liners when things beginning to get silly.) I was most impressed with how he handled his presser during his very tough times last season. Sometimes the questions asked were out of line, but he always addressed them with patience and respect.

But I give credit to ALL of the players. To have to answer the same old questions over and over and over again – in itself – is an act worthy of a medal! :))

Regarding injury talk: till this day I don’t understand WHY it’s such taboo to discuss injuries in tennis, when it’s apart of SPORT and it’s the norm for athletes from all other sports to discuss such things. In fact, in most sports, it’s practically DEMANDED of them to divulge info to the press regarding their injuries.

As far as I’m concerned, a player should be able to talk about whatever they want. There’s two sides to a match. One side is about your opponent and how well THEY played, etc. The other side of the tail is how YOU played and what was going on on YOUR side of the net.

All of that being said, tennis journalists (like most journalist, but especially tennis journalists) are serious drama seekers. They are alwyas looking for the big dramatic story. Why do you think they continually blow every single darn loss of Federer’s or Rafa’s out of porportion? Why do you think they are so obsessed with snatching a soundbite out of a Federer interview and using it to stir up trouble (whether what they say has a point or not). Why do you think they LOVE talking about injuries with Rafa? You see, Rafa and Roger both have their “niche” with the press. With Roger, it’s a game of “let’s catch him in an arrogant sounding sounbite and use it to stir up drama in the tennis world and hopefully in the lockeroom. It’ll make for GREAT viewing/reading!” With Rafa, it’s a game of “let’s talk about injuries and dramatize his chances of ever playing tennis again. Heck! While we’re at it, we’ll terrorize the fans and get them talking! What a way to get attention!”

I’ll never forget how Rafa was being absolutely hounded about injury talk during last year’s USO. Obviously the whole tennis world new he was hurting. How do you NOT know when his absence leaves a gap the size of a black hole? Not to mention, his fans (I’m guilty) watching him like a hawk and we frazzle over anything we think is wrong. So…it’s only the humane thing for Rafa to ease our minds and either a) say everything is “perfect” or b) tell us what the heck is going on because we can clearly see something’s wrong.

In the end, journalists have to write and they will stick with whatever hook they can get, that hey know will get people talking. As far as I’m concerned, let players talk about their injuries. It’s apart of their lives and what they do. It’s apart of sport. If it shatters any kind of delusion that they are anything less (or more) than human beings, then more power to it!

skeezerweezer Says:


..Andy stated to Brad gilbert on Saturday, when asked how he was feeling and if he had anything left in the Tank. to which he replied, (not verbatim) “once you take the court then you lose the right to all excuses,” or something to that effect.”

Exactly my IMO on the injury issue….


Once again, “good stuff”

skeezerweezer Says:

“Michelle Says:

Madmax –

“Roger is a class act in terms of giving interviews – more than any other player – always giving the most time to reporters”

While I agree that Roger does indeed give long interviews,”


When you look through a RAFA lens this is what a conversation looks like when Fed is involved…I don’t get your agreeing what Madmax said?

skeezerweezer Says:


I did get the jist of the rest of your post :)

grendel Says:


I think Mardy Fish was doing himself less than justice. Talk about self-deprecation! The fact is, he fought like a lion to hold serve in that particular game – I don’t know how many break points there were, but I remember feeling quite exasperated that Federer was unable to string 2 winning points together, or 3 if it was advantage Fish. I think Federer had break points in other games in the first set, too, but was unable to convert – see NELTA’S discussion here about Fed’s relatively weak return of 2nd serve and its possible relation to his difficulty in breaking.

Maybe, also, it was Federer’s inability to convert the break points which led to him saying later that he should have won the first set, whilst conceding that after that, it was anybody’s game. The thing is , one can’t just brush aside this difficulty Federer seems to have in pushing home his advantage. I suspect that Fish derived tremendous confidence from Fed’s failure, because after his uncertain start, he looked more and more difficult to beat. And the relevance for New York is that Nadal – having after all benefited from it – will be very aware of Fed’s jitteriness on break points, and that is bound to give him confidence. And one way and another, confidence – or lack of it – seems to be at the crux of things.

David Says:

I don’t know about you guys, but I find it really annoying hearing Wertheim just go on and on about injuries in tennis and about how something drastic has to be done about it.

Yet, I’m looking at the US Open draw and I see Federer, Nadal, Murray, Roddick, Fish, Djokovic, Soderling, Berdych all seemingly healthy and ready to have strong showings in New York. Would I rather that Del Potro was there? Tsonga? Isner? Del Potro for sure because he’s the defending champ. As for the other 2, bad luck for them, but hardly a tragedy for the sport.

Also, in the entire Open Era, this is only the 3rd time a U.S. Open champ hasn’t come back to defend his title. The first time was Rosewall (not sure what his reason was). The second time was Sampras (retired from the sport). Now Del Potro, who really could’ve played and will be back in a few weeks. Doesn’t seem like much of a crisis to me.

David Says:

By the way, obviously it’s a different case with the WTA, but it’s kind of tough for Wertheim to use the Williams sisters as examples when they’re supposed to be role models for how to pace yourself and have a long career.

Michelle Says:

Skeezerweezer –

“When you look through a RAFA lens this is what a conversation looks like when Fed is involved…I don’t get your agreeing what Madmax said?”

*takes off Rafa lens and polishes it* I said I agreed that Federer gives long interviews… ;P

“I did get the jist of the rest of your post :)”



David – Wertheim, like many of todays tennis journalists (too many at that) is guilty of beating a dead horse and rehashing “old news”. They will not quit until the story (whatever the flavor of the month happens to be) is run into the ground…and even then they won’t stop.

I already voiced my feelings regarding Del Potro not being able to defend *insert extreme sad face*. Also, the fact that Serena won’t be there on the women’s side just really sends me over the edge! ARGH! *MAJOR SAD FACE WITH TEARS* It’s defnintley a HUGE loss on the womens side. Thank goodness she’s still going to be involved with AAKD and the “Lights Out” exho. That somewhat softens the blow…but only a little.

sar Says:

Hi all, just got back from Cincy. I didn’t have a chance to see all the past week’s wonderful posts and threads, in fact, I might have to just start fresh tomorrow. I was not lucky this year to do the center court coin toss again but had a wonderful time. We left Sat. a.m. for the long drive to Cincy and watched the women’s doubles and singles finals the next day. Azarenka and Kirilenko were glowing with happiness. We were fortunate to have boxes for this event. Sharapova was loud but we got used to it in a hurry. One thing, Pam Shriver who was just a few feet from us was VERY thin. She does not appear that thin on tv. On Monday we explored a bit of Cincy and took a riverboat tour. The actual venue is in Mason which is about 25 miles away. On Tuesday the men are all in town and the place is full of people and energy. We start out each day at the grounds by 10 am. and leave around 11pm for the hotel. We use this day to scout out the practice courts. Absolutely everyone is practicing and you can just look at the schedule to find what time and court they are on. Of course, the first thing I’m going to do is find Nole. I waited for an hour until he finished and he was mobbed by young autograph/photo hounds so I did the same and got him at the locker room entrance. I was tongue-tied and my husband had to ask if he would pose for a photo with me. He told Novak we were at the Serbia Open and he was surprised and asked how we liked it. He looks so young and skinny. He had more meat on him last year. Got a few other photos with players but this was the best one for me. Cincy is so intimate, so much better than IW except for the blast furnace temperatures they have. Of course IW has the beauty. I think I mentioned that players just walk around right next to you, whereas at IW they are whisked away in golf carts. Saw the following just walking around me: Clement, Dlouhy, Paes, Soderling, Verdasco, Youzhny, Mark Knowles, Daveed Nalbandian, Stakhosky, Benneteau, Llodra, Roddick going to lockers with Stefanki, Steps, Cilic, Fed going to practice courts, Nadal, Tipsy, Nestor and Z, Troicki and others I can’t remember right now. Hewitt was hitting with Benj. Becker, Troicki with Chiudinelli, Marach with Novak, Wawrinka with Soderling. On the practice court, Irena Davydenko was watching her husband. We saw Judy Murray and wished her son luck, and she told us what time he would be practicing. She’s a tiny woman. Margot, Judy was very nice. We stopped in the retail tennis shop on site and discovered Sam Querrey was going to be signing autographs. I brought my center court photo from last year with Sam and Andy Roddick. He asked if I flipped the coin, I said yes and he signed it. Now I just need Roddick to sign under his image. We told Sam we saw him win in Belgrade over Isner and he was really shocked. LOL My husband posed with him. The next days were just watching all the matches and looking at who was in their boxes. Serena’s foot-fault judge was working all week. Mohamed Lahyani was absent. Music star Bootsy Collins was watching the Baghdatis/Fed match and we got a photo with him. Terrell Owens was there a couple of nights earlier. We had the best time and met lots of people, including Tenisbebe. Jane, she sends her love to you. We couldn’t spend much quality time with her this year as she was working the whole time. Nadal looked fabulous in bright pink. Fed looked great and super, super tan, Madmax. Spent a little time at the Murray practice court too. We were broiling in the hellish sun just sitting there and I can’t even imagine trying to play, but I guess that’s why they get paid the big bucks. I am rambling now and please excuse typos and run-on sentences. There will be photos up at my site this week.

Michelle Says:

Grendel –

“And the relevance for New York is that Nadal – having after all benefited from it – will be very aware of Fed’s jitteriness on break points, and that is bound to give him confidence.”

I have to strongly disagree with that statement. After reading it, I had a reaction that is most likely the kind of response Rafa would give if someone said this very quote to him (the reaction being – a raised eyebrow, a snort laugh, and a resounding “WHOT?”)

Firstly, Rafa would refuse to even entertain the idea of playing Federer seeing as they’d have to be in the final to do so (you know, one match at a time.) Secondly, I simply do not see how Federer not converting break chances in his match versus Fish will give him confidence of any kind. If anything, (if they both were to reach the final) he’d gain confidence from knowing that he’s playing at a high level to reach the final to begin with and that he’s mosty likely beaten top guys and tough opponents en route to the final spot. He may also have a va-voom confidence boost in knowing that this is his first time there and he’s going to give it his all. He may also gain confidence from the simple fact that he and Fed have played each other numerous times and the amount of success he has against him. Also, his record in GS finals may play a part in boosting his confidence. But, as usual, Rafa is of the mindset that not any two matches are the same. Also, he’s of the thought that just because you are the favorite or the number 1 “the favorite or the number 1 doesn’t always win”. I just don’t see him practiing in NYC now thinking “KHEY! Rogelio didn’t convert those breakpoints against Fish! I have a sudden boost in confeeedence!” :P

Michelle Says:

Sar, thanks a lot for sharing! :D It sounds like you had a wonderful time!

I, too, missed Mohammed Lahyani in the chair. ;)

jane Says:

hey sar! Thanks for the recap of events; it sounds like you saw so many players and had a great time. It’s amazing how intimate the Masters events appear to be, which would make them worthwhile to go to for fans. Perhaps even more so than the slams, in some ways, since the top 30 or so players are generally at 1000 tournaments. I think I would do what you did and try to take a day to check out the practice courts.

Skeezerweezer Says:

Sar, thanks for the “at cincy” report and sharing with everyone :). How cool !

Von Says:

NELTA: Thanks ever so much for clarifying Roddick’s rank and seeding for the USO. I figured that would be the case, but was kind of hoping that it wouldn’t be that way and the USO committee would factor in Verdasco’s 250 point loss since he had announced he was not going to defend his title. Talk about hoping against hope. LOL.

Verdasco, did just enough to keep himself at the No. 8 position in the draw. Tough luck for Roddick, however, being seeded 9th is better than 13th, or maybe lower, had he not gotten to the SFs at Cincy.

Thanks again NELTA for you quick response.

skeezer: it sounds logical to me, that if a player decides to take the court and play, then he shouldn’t make excuses if he loses and blame it on his injuries.

BTW, I see that it’s the opinion of a few that the USO is the fastest HC. For some reason, I’ve always thought it to be Cincy. I remember last year Fed stating that Cincy plays the fastest of all the hard courts. Even the ESPN commentators were saying that Cincy is the fastest of the hard courts, last week.

margot Says:

sar: that was brilliant, thanx so much :)
I think fans often get across the excitement of the event in a way blase journalists often don’t.
BTW all you balding guys, Bruce Willis is v. sexy, just NEVER try to hide it :)
NELTA : cheers to you too, most interesting and
re Fed, yes that return of second serve does look like a hole in the armour.

WTF Says:

Americans can rest easy now. Roddick is back in the top 10. How many weeks without an American in the top 10 was it, 2?

madmax Says:


a great post – I read every word of it – TWICE- this bit was the best!

‘Fed looked great and super, super tan, Madmax’.

Sar, how lucky can a girl get? (you!) – You must have the BEST job in the world. Are there any vacancies where you are :)


lovely to see you back – ready to tell us about all your travels? :)

grendel Says:


It seems I wasn’t very clear. All players have a mental inventory, so to speak, of their opponents’ weaknesses. Nadal will obviously have a good memory of Federer’s fragility against him on the break point, and if his scouts are doing their job properly, he will be made aware that not much has changed in that respect. This will give him added confidence and will, sad to say, affect Federer’s confidence adversely – unless he has somehow addressed this problem in the meantime. Naturally, neither player will be brooding about this until such time as when/if they meet.


along with everyone else I enjoyed your report. You made it sound like an intimate, bustling local jamboree! Fascinating!

jane Says:

margot, hey traveler, welcome back. Here’s something special for you in case you’ve not seen it already (check photo gallery at the bottom!)


i am it Says:

Sardina, I like your beautiful description of the on-site experience of Mason, celebrities, practice courts, easy access to players, chit-chats and photo ops with Nole and others and fun of the “furnace” heat while watching them practice and play. The 2nd year sounded better.

David Says:


Thanks for the report. That’s hilarious about Bootsy Collins. What a bass player.

I remember I went to Cincinnati for the whole week back in 1987 when I was 16 years old. I’ll never forget it, as all the top players were there minus Lendl and Mecir. I’ll always remember a match between Connors and Nduka Odizor. Odizor complained about a line call for about 15 minutes and Connors got bored and started hitting balls up and up and up into the night sky and catching them on his racquet. Whatever you think about him, the man was a brilliant showman.

I definitely want to repeat that trip one day with my son, but I’ll have to wait a while because he’s only 16 months old!

madmax Says:

What’s really interesting about federer right now is the similarities to his performances back in 2007, and in some ways, 2008.

Federer holding the world No. 1 for the third consecutive year yet, ni March 2007, he lost his first match at Indian Wells to Canas in straight sets. He then lost again to the same guy two weeks later at the Miami Masters.

In his next tournament he lost to then world No. 2 Nadal in the finals at Monte Carlo. The week after that in his second match in Rome, Federer was upset again by 53rd-ranked Filippo Volandri in straight sets.

When he lost to Volandri, all of a sudden Federer was mortal, beatable, no one was frightened of him anymore. He was roasted.

(see similarities here with the press? Federer is over. Federer is done. That’s it. He’s never going to win another tournament again).

Critics wrote in a range of media that his career was taking a turn for the worse. A nose dive. Sound even more familiar?

And then came the bang!

After the Volandri loss what did Fed do but win six more majors, finish runner-up in four more and reclaim his No. 1 status in 2009 after losing it in 2008.

There is no doubt that Federer is not the same player, but when I saw him play at the AO this year, (and remember we are only talking about 7 months ago), he was playing the BEST tennis I have seen him play AFTER his glory years. Whilst Nadal has improved on hard courts I still dont feel that he feels that comfortable on hard court, despite the AO win and he has yet to win a U.S. Open.

Federer’s illustrious, incredible career seems dependent on Roger Federer and what HE thinks. We all know how stubborn he appears to be, (along with many of the top players), but he has earnt that right. I think it mus have taken such a huge leap of faith for fed to phone Annacone – asking for help/support. So he broke his stubbornness mould.

Whilst I still think that Federer goes into the USOpen, with huge confidence because of the win at cinny, and the final in Toronto, with the addition of Annacone also, he is putting himself in the perfect position, physically and emotionally to reclaim the title that he lost last year. I sincerely hope that when the USOpen arrives, Federer is able to shut the critics up once and for all.

There are lots of positives with his game right now, and the sheer fact that he came out with some gritty wins over the last two tournaments, show that his passion and hunger for winning is still very much alive.

grendel Says:

jane, ” I think I would do what you did and try to take a day to check out the practice courts.”

I did this the day before the US Open started -3 or 4 years ago, with my two sons. Almost immediately, we saw Dent practising away, the real Dent, not a televisual image and already we felt vaguely star struck. And then there was Hewitt, engaged in a ferocious battle with somebody or other – he was as intense as if it were a Wimbledon final. Ferrero was actually having a full scale match with someone – they were calling the scores out, and Ferrero appeared to be losing.

As we wandered around, this big chap came up to us and started talking, and then we spotted Tommy Haas having a chat with someone. The big chap said to my elder son (he was perhaps 19 or 20), ” that’s Haas, my favourite player along with Blake, come on, lets go and talk to him”. My son shook his head, smiling. “come on, let’s go,” the big fellow said. My son demurred. More chit-chat-and then the big chap said, in persuasive tones:”come on, let’s go and say hallo to Haas,”. This bizarre – well, you wouldn’t quite call it dialogue, since my son was standing around smiling a little uneasily but with that hint of stubborness playing around his face which informed me clearly that the big man, persistent though he was, was onto a loser here – this monologue, perhaps, continued for some time.

Eventually the big man shook his head as if there was just no understanding some people, approached Haas himself, saying how much he admired him and so on. “Thankyou very much,” Haas acknowledged him suavely. We moved on.

We came the next day to watch the first day, and it was so hot, I actually felt ill, how anyone could play I couldn’t imagine. I was watching Berdych and Kohlschreiver in an excellent match on an outside court – much more fun, because you could really see – and not having a hat in the piercing sun I would put my newspaper over my head for shade, but then would feel guilty that I was blocking someone’s view.

As I was strolling around – we had split up – the news came over the public address system that a ten year old boy was lost, could his father etc – it was my younger son, who I’d thought was with his brother. I found him eventually in some enclosure, being regaled with drinks and biscuits as he watched the various screens showing various matches. He seemed to be enjoying himself.

On the train back to New York, we got talking to these old ladies from Australia. They were doing a world tour, and taking in tennis tournaments where they could. Not a bad life.

jane Says:

grendel, thanks for that. I’d assumed O2 last year was your first experience with “live” tennis. I would’ve lost my mind had my son gone missing (he’s 9 and a half now, about the age your littler one was then), especially if a persistent “big fellow” had been trying to lure him away moments earlier. But how well it all turned out – (!) biscuits, drinks, multiple screens. Personally, I would’ve taken that monologuer up on his offer to see Haas up close and personal. You can guess why….

So – if it was 3 or 4 years ago, that means you got to see Fed win the USO at or near his best?! Lucky you.

Someday… I’ll get there. I doubt I’ll ever tour the world taking in tennis but really hope to see a Masters and a Slam. I’d like to see either the FO or Wimbledon most, and then a hard court masters event.

margot Says:

jane, madmax: hi to you 2 too! :) :)
jane: hmm, not sure about those photos becos not really Andy, more Beckham, and he looks uncomfortable; but I thought article itself was well written.
Bit of a hiatus at mo……

jane Says:

margot, in the suit, most definitely uncomfortable; however, the photo in which he’s wearing his own jeans and weight vest, at his gym in his own garage, seems to be “almost Andy M.” : )

grendel Says:

actually, jane, it was the elder one,so that was ok. no, I’m fairly liberal, but I’d have drawn the line at this big chap trying to get round my younger son – although he was ok, just a bit persistent. No, we went day before (practice) and 1st day. Never saw Federer. Again, on an outer court, I was sat near Vaidisova’s coach, and as she looked at him in the course of the match, I caught her eye – strange experience. Whatever happened to her, b.t.w.? Tennis wise, I mean. Know she married the Step. Yes, O2 (just one court)as I said before, a waste of time as far as I’m concerned unless I could have got very good seats,and they sold out months in advance. But a grand slam’s fine, especially in the first week, because you’ve got all the outer courts. I’m not too bothered about seeing star names. They’re all amazing tennis players, and if you’re on an outer court, it’s nice and intimate.

stu Says:

ugh they keep taking that video off the air!

Kimmi Says:

jane – those are muzz photos for real. and boy..how cute he looks. I love all five of them. thanks for sharing.

Kimmi Says:

and like everybody else, I enjoyed sar cincy report. fascinating!

David Says:


Wertheim writes: “as the Tennis Republic debated whether Federer was fading or the rest of the field had caught his heels, the Swiss master cranked it up again and took the title in Cincinnati.”

In fact, Wertheim, a fairly prominent representative of the “Tennis Republic,” tweeted this during Fed’s quarterfinal match at Wimbledon “it looks like Fed has a pager, Berdych has an iPhone”

So it’s amusing to me that Wertheim now has nothing to say about equipment after Fed makes the final in Toronto and wins Cincy. That’s what bugs me about tennis journalists. They throw a bunch of nonsense out there and then when it comes back and bites them in the rear end they develop amnesia and it’s as though they had never made certain comments.

So now he’s more or less saying “oh it looks like 2008 all over again when everyone was doubting him, yet he turns it on and shows he’s the best again.”

Why doesn’t he say “I was seriously doubting him. I thought he couldn’t compete against these other guys unless he changed his racquet or switched to Luxilon. I though he needed to make drastic changes.” That would be the stand-up thing to do.

sar Says:

already we felt vaguely star struck.

Yes. Grendel, that is exactly the term I was looking for–star struck!! I feel this way with tennis players who are young enough to be my children. I once saw Ted Danson on a flight from LA to Chicago. He was already seated in first class and the peons were coming in. He made sure he looked all of us in the eye so we would “notice” him. Then, after an hour he decided to walk up and down the coach aisle so we would notice him some more. I don’t get a thrill with actors.

Jane and Kimmi, let’s meet in Toronto in two years for the men’s.

skeezerweezer Says:


So true. But isn’t that the media? Look at the “King of Pop”, labeled freak and a tainted star years before is death and now a well deserved historical “icon” and media calling him the “greatest entertainer that ever lived”. WTF?

News, especially bad news, is a way of media hype nowadays that sells, the nature of the beast, Tennis is no exception.


Von Says:

David: I’ve always thought of the media to be suffering from selective memory. They remember what they want to remember and the rest is swept under the rug. The majority of them write not from their gut, but from their bias and favoritism, and when that happens, then they lose all credibility. I feel they should write what they see and not interject their personal feelings into their articles. However, that’s never going to happen, as we’re dealing with personalities.

What I find to be funny, is that a few are saying Federer ended a title drought. I don’t think Fed was/is suffering from a title drought for this year at all, because he won a tournament, and a grand-slam at that, the AO. Murray and Djokovic have been suffering from title droughts, but Murray has rectified that by winning Toronto. But As far as Fed’s concerned, I don’t think there was a title drought to begin with, as he already had one in the bag.

It’s unfortunate though, that some people take the media at their word and believe everything they say, and we see that transferred in some posts, as the gospel truth. It’s really quite funny.

jane Says:

Kimmi, glad you liked them!! sar, I think that’d be great. We were thinking next year (of going to Montreal), but Toronto might work too! : )

Kimmi Says:

sar – I live in toronto. so it will be great to meet up here.

in 2 years..hmmm, i wonder how my faves will be doing! hope Muzz will have his first slam :)

sar Says:

Yeah, two years right? Next year men’s will be in Montreal?

SG Says:

grendel Says:
SG – good to know you think Fed’s still up for it, even though your Wimbledon prediction for a Federer win didn’t come off.

Given,then, your pick of Fed and also your belief (with which I agree) that:” Rafa’s the only one in the draw that can really get inside Fed’s head.”: what happens in the event of a Fed/Rafa final?

Will Fed exorcise the demons? Or will they play their traditional role, painfully dragging him to a long, drawn out, 5 set defeat?


I’d have to pick Rafa. If Rafa gets to the final, he’s likely playing very well. If he’s playing very well, he beats Federer. It may not be easy but given his mental edge over Fed, it seems foolish to bet against Rafa in this situation. However, by my prediction that Fed wins the USO, I am predicting that Rafa won’t be in the final to ruin his fun.

margot Says:

Neither Rog nor Rafa will be there- you heard it here first…..teehee

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