Can Rafael Nadal Win the US Open? Handicapping the Flushing Field
by Sean Randall | August 24th, 2010, 6:07 pm
  • 224 Comments

With the draw less than 48 hours from completion I thought I’d get a little headstart and post a pre-preview of the US Open. First to answer the title question of “can Rafael Nadal win the US Open”? Can he do it and win three straight Majors completing the career Slam at the age of just 24. The cheap answer is it’s possible, but not likely this year.

First, I just read the US Open tennis odds and I have to agree with Roger Federer being installed as the favorite. After the Swiss, I’d put Murray second and then Nadal based on results this summer. After that the waters are muddied.

Overall, I think this year’s tournament will be as wide open as ever with generous helpings of suspense and surprise. At least I hope it is. However, I also have a feeling that the man standing with the big trophy and the winner’s prize come September 12 is not going to be a shock – we rarely see such Cinderella champions in New York.

So that said, here’s how I handicap the field as it stands right now:

The Favorites
Roger Federer: The Swiss won his first title in seven months on Sunday and suddenly he’s the US Open favorite? What gives? Well, for my money Federer actually looked pretty darn good last week in Cincinnati, where, albeit, he had only played three full matches. But in those matches he looked sharp, moved well and played the kind of tennis that has won him US Opens in the past.

After his stunning loss to Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon, things looked bleak for the former World No. 1, but once again he has turned things around just when everybody (myself included) was ready to bury him six feet under.

That said, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the 29-year-old’s performance in Toronto against his major foes Berdych, Novak Djokovic and in a final loss to Andy Murray. He did play much better in Cincinnati but against lesser competition – his only Top 15 win came against Nikolay Davydenko.

So there is some cause for concern. But Federer’s biggest ally in the Slams has been the best-of-five format because he’s fit and for many players he’s still a serious mental hurdle to overcome. The back-to-back semifinal/final format and the faster courts also help him.

Andy Murray: Like Federer, Murray was also going through a bad patch until this big win in Toronto where he beat David Nalbandian, Nadal and then Federer in succession without surrendering a single set. It was arguably Murray’s best three-match trifecta of his career and it earned him his first title of 2010.

But for the Scot, beating Federer in a Tennis Masters final doesn’t get him “over the hump” to beating him in a Slam final. Unfortunately for Murray, those are two very different, distinct accomplishments.

In two previous Grand Slams finals against Federer he’s failed to win a set, and until he actually wins a set in a Slam final it’s hard to put him as the favorite especially over someone who’s done it 16 times.

On the bright side for Murray, the back-to-back semifinal/final days at the US Open should help ease the pressure. Recall in Australia that Murray had two full days to tense and tighten up under the weight and pressure of the expectations. With the quick turnaround the final weekend in New York there’s just not that much time to feel that heat and to fully digest the moment.

Rafael Nadal: As I said, I think Nadal can win the US Open but for me his biggest obstacle is winning those back-to-back semifinal and final matches against quality competition on a fast hardcourt. That’s a tall order.

My guess is in the next 5-7 years if Nadal’s still around the US Open will add a day in between the semis and finals, and Nadal will have a better chance for his win. Otherwise, if the competition that final weekend is stiff – and it usually always is – the odds are stacked against the guy.

But the Rafa is the best fighter in the game and even though his last hardcourt title came back in March of 2009 at Indian Wells, you always have to give him a chance especially when he’s healthy. If upsets do happen then the door could be open for Nadal.

Novak Djokovic: After watching his uninspired display against Andy Roddick in Cincinnati, it’s hard to put the slimmer Serb among the favorites at the US Open. But I have to give credit where credit is due, and Novak usually manages to beat the guys he should and end up deep in Slams even when we don’t think he’s playing well.

And the US Open has been Djokovic’s most consistent Slam having reached at least the semifinals their the last three years. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in the last four again, but I just don’t get the sense that he wants it bad enough to win the whole thing.

David Nalbandian: I’ll go out on a limb and put him among the favorites based solely on that incredible stretch of tennis he played mid-summer. It’s too bad that almost as expected Nalbandian’s level dropped off at the bigger events in Toronto and Cincinnati. But if he can get a good draw (avoid a Top 4 seed in the third round) and play his way in, I think he can reignite the fuse and make a serious run.

Like Murray though, I do wonder if mentally he could actually win the darn thing if the opportunity presented itself on that final Sunday.

The Contenders
Tomas Berdych: Big serve, big groundstrokes and a fast court should all aid the Czech big man. And he’s now got match experience reaching the Wimbledon finals and the French semifinals, but can continue the trend and go one round further?

What worries me about Berdych is a letdown. An outer court loss to some guy ranked outside the Top 50. I still fear he’s capable of such a loss.

And what happens should he face an American like Fish or Roddick in a night match with a hostile, vocal crowd against him? Does he have the mental makeup to handle those occasions? I remain skeptical.

Andy Roddick: After a post-Miami slump, Roddick showed some signs of life in Cincinnati last week. But you have to wonder how his energy-sapping mono will affect him in a best-of-five set format.

If he’s fit and if he gets the right draw in a favorable quarterfinal bracket – Djokovic, Soderling, Dayvdenko – I think he’s got a good chance to get the last eight and beyond. At the very least, his experience and steady play should win him some matches.

Mardy Fish: You have to love the way Mardy has played this summer. And unless he’s burned out from all the tennis, I expect him to at least get to the 16s in New York. But as I said, winning big matches in Masters events is much different than winning them at a Slam. Still, Mardy is a veteran now and I think he’ll build off his summer success with a good showing at the Open and maybe even a semifinal appearance.

Robin Soderling: Does anyone want to play this guy? I doubt it. The dangerous Swede has the game and the attitude to beat anyone, anywhere at anytime. But for some reason outdoor hardcourts have never been the strongest of surfaces and he’s still susceptible to the occasion off day.

The Top Fielders
Marcos Baghdatis: Marcos has nicely turned his game around this year and he always seems to play well in big matches at the Slams. I don’t think he’s back at the level where he was in 2006, but let’s hope he can keep his improving his form.

Fernando Verdasco: Has he overplayed? Probably. Does he have the game to make an impact at the US Open? Absolutely. When picking Fernando it’s usually hit and miss, often literally.

Sam Querrey: Sam has a game tailor made from Flushing, but he just hasn’t come up with the results at the Open or really at any Slam. Could this finally be the big breakthrough or did he again peak too early?

Marin Cilic: Cilic started out of the blocks this year about as well as anyone reaching his first Slam semifinal in Australia. But the Croatian has been on ice since. A quarterfinalist a year ago when he hammered Murray, he’s capable to get back in gear and salvage his season in New York.

Other guys who I think could make some waves are Feliciano Lopez, Ernests Gulbis, Lleyton Hewitt and Taylor Dent.

In the end, though, I think the title will be won by someone in the Top 4. Will it be Rafa? The draw will tell us more.


Also Check Out:
Injury-Prone Murray Now “Psyched” at US Open
Tennis Rumor Mill: Roddick to Debut New Coach at US Open?
Nadal, Federer Near Final Meeting in Madrid
Nalbandian, Tsonga Fight for Shanghai in Final Match of ATP Regular Season in Paris
ATP LA Preview: Roddick, Fish Look for Rebound Amidst Strong Field

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224 Comments for Can Rafael Nadal Win the US Open? Handicapping the Flushing Field

Kimberly Says:

Great post—I agree with everything you said…although I would give Roddick a little more of a shot.

Nole–would really suprise me

Murray–very likely but some choke factor

Fed–very likely

Rafa–oh do I want it but it will be tough for him. Can he yes. Will he? Ultimately yes, in 2010, maybe. Needs help from the draw.

Soderling-i see a 4th round loss to someone like querry or fish.

Berdych–ditto soderling

Fish-not sure

Nalbandian-not sure

Cilic-3rd round loss

Verdasco-ditto Cilic

Davydenko-ditto verdasco and cilic.

I think some no namers will go to 16′s and maybe some to quarters.


Fot Says:

I don’t really care how the others fair – I just want Roger to hold up the title. Don’t even care who he plays as long as he wins. lol!

One interesting thing is that Roger has been in the final the last 6 years and each year there have been a different opponent in the final (no repeater on the other side of the draw in the final). So…wonder if it’ll be someone ‘new’ again this year to make the final?


steve Says:

I hope Federer raises the trophy, and that Cilic makes a breakthrough.


sonic Says:

So Nadal’s biggest problem is sf/f weekend? Whenever i decide to open an article written by Sean i know i’m in for gem.

When you write about a player that has NEVER been in the US open final and has infact been trumped badly when he reached the SF, that has not won a title even on slow hard for a year and a half, and can count the number of times he has beaten top10 oppostion on the stuff in the last 3 years on the fingers on one hand, then you clearly have to be crazy to call his biggest problem the back to back SF and F.

His biggest problem is that there are at least 10 players out there that can beat him fairly comfortably by playing their best regardless of what Nadal does, and another 10 that can knock him out if he’s not on his best.

The US Open is to fast and the ball bounce to low and to true for his comfort. Period. On clay and grass he’s a force and no1 (at least on Wimbledon’s high bouncing grass), on hardcourt he’s mearly good.

He’ll need a very lucky draw to reach the SF, let alone the F. He’s tried to play agressive in Toronto and Cincy, and it naturaly resulted in a lot of UE’s by his standards. It’s a good change up, but it requires time. perhaps if he cna push it in a few years, then maybe.

Personaly, i don’t ever see the US Open for him unless they change the conditions of the court. I would like him to win one, preferably in a few years when everyone writes him off, so it ends up really emoitional like Fed’s RG.

Still, unless he gets very lucky one year, i don’t see him ever winning in New York.


Kimmi Says:

It will be interesting to see where Roddick lands. especially now seeded 9th, he will be meeting one of the top 8 in Rd of 16. tough draw for roddick and tough draw for whoever plays him early.


David Says:

sonic

Tough to hear as a Nadal fan, but I think you’re spot on.


kimberly Says:

David—we as rafas fans can hope for a little luck and root for him to do as well as he can!

Unfortunately sonics analysis is pretty accurate. But rafa is a true competitor, let’s hope he can grind out the wins so we can watch him compete as much as possible.


jane Says:

For some reason, I’d put Soderling higher than Berdych; the person to stop him there last year was Fed. He’s ranked higher now, so he can’t meet Rafa/Fed until later. And he was very close to beating Roddick in Cincy. Berdych, to me, is a question mark because his thigh was strapped versus Fed in Toronto and he had a trainer call during his loss to Baggy. So injuries may (?) be an issue for him.

Anyhow, agree with Sean that there are a lot of potential “dark horses”; there could easily be upsets this year. It just feels like it.


Kimmi Says:

I think nalbandian would love to play against federer. they come a long way and understand each others game like noone else.

Since nalbandian return from injury, federer is the only top 4 player he hasnt played with.

a risky match for fed if he has to meet nalby early at the US Open.


dari Says:

Sonic, its interesting to hear your thoughts on nadal. As a huge fed fan, its always been my M.o. to regard rafa as a high favorite and a threat-on ANY surfqce. Keep your enemies and tough competition close, I suppose. And don’t let them catch you off guard by down playing their capabilities. Add to that the fact that rafa is the ultimate competitor (all sports included) I would give him a bit more of a chance. He has his mind set on this title. Is any part of your argument a case of managing expectations as a fan?

17 in nyc sure sounds sweet for fed, and the way his feet are moving, the way he is playing aggressive coming in, and the EXPERIENCE at flushing meadows, I do put him as the favorite. Nadal would be my second, Murray third, crap shoot after that, maybe Andy R or Marty? Nalby? Sounds like its gonna be a good one!
Fot, cant believe feds been in the final with 6 DIFFERENT! are you sure Andy R is not in there twice somewhere? Is jc ferrero in there?


Sean Randall Says:

Sonic, I understand your arguement, but mentally it has to hurt Nadal in knowing that he has win back-to-back days and against guys who can beat him (usually) in best-of-five to claim the US Open.

Sure, there are far more guys on fast hardcourts who can beat Nadal than just about any other surface, but the US Open schedule is unique and that schedule does not do Nadal any favors.

With the quarterfinals on Wednesday & Thursday, there’s a 50% chance Nadal could have to win three best-of-five matches against decent, if not elite, competition on a fast hard court in four days. Doable?


kimberly Says:

I watched the agassi blake match on tv last night—that was some tennis. So sad fpr james. Hopefully he can try to pull it together.


David Says:

Here’s the (somewhat realistic) draw I’d like for Rafa

1st round – someone without a big serve, solid baseliner so Rafa gets into lots of rallies and gets his rhythm right away

2nd round – ditto (maybe Tommy Robredo)

3rd round – Wawrinka (Rafa can always pick on his 1-hander

4th round – Gasquet (ditto)

quarters – Almagro (after he upsets Davydenko?)

semis – Roddick (huge serve, but will have to hammer his forehand over 5 sets to get the win)

finals – Fish (after he upsets Fed in the quarters)

There aren’t many draws I’d feel comfortable with, but that one I could live with.


David Says:

Sean

What doesn’t make sense is that Rafa is arguably the fittest guy on tour. So while it’s tough for him to win 7 matches against elite hard-court players, the least of his problems is winning on back-to-back days.

What if Rafa beats Roddick in 5 sets in the semis and then Djokovic beats Fish in 5 sets in the other semi? You would see that scenario as unfavorable for Rafa?


skeezerweezer Says:

I don’t want to jinx Fed and Rafa has proved me wrong more than not. He (Rafa) has the heart of a lion, give him the right draw, get him to a semi, and look out. I am picking Rafa, although an avid Fed fan. Why?

He has the # 1 ranking, his previous HC tourneys this season were not shabby, he just didn’t make it to the final. He has won on GS on HC, AO! He has won Fo and Wimby this year. Why isn’t he the fav, no?

He is also the reigning #1, not Fed.

BUT, who am I cheering for? Fed of course!

The way Fed has performed as of late I feel good about his confidence, which for any player is paramount. There is no doubt with the Cincy win he has made a statement to the playing field
“Yes, I am still Roger Federer”.

Fed’s confession about 1rst rounders being tough is a key IMO and let’s see how he handles that. Get that 1rst round under your belt Fed!

Side notes;

Nalby, unproven for 5 setters after hip surgery. Nada. Although has played well GS titles where is he?

Roddick is a lurking “menance to society”, and sitting pretty with not that much expectations, could cause some damage. Why not? Mono. Hope he is well equipped health wise for the tourney. Besides, his wife is hot, and he has the biggest serve, and the most entertaining interviews in tennis history.

The American Twin towers. Brought up on the HC’s and home field advantage a pick to cause trouble to the seeds……

Murray, the only reason he didn’t do better was he ran out of gas and his opposition played better that day. Otherwise, he beat Fed and Rafa on the way to a HC title. Has he finally gotten “it”?


steve Says:

Soderling is not quite as good on this surface as on clay, he needs time to get in position and set up his forehand. On a surface that plays so fast, he’ll miss a lot. Ditto for Berdych.

Del Potro is a unique case among these power hitters, because his footwork is very good for his size; he can hit very accurately even though his groundstrokes are so powerful. That’s one of the reasons he’s a Grand Slam champion and the others aren’t. And even so he busted his wrist beating Federer, trying to run down and hit everything.

Federer’s opponents in the USO final:

’04: Hewitt
’05: Agassi
’06: Roddick
’07: Djokovic
’08: Murray
’09: Del Potro


Anna Says:

David – So who do we petition to get that draw for Rafa?


Dan Martin Says:

I think Nadal has about a 25% at the title. Federer and Murray are both close to a 20% shot (give or take 5 points from each). The other 25-35 points would divide up among Nole, Roddick, Berdych, and Soderling with 1-5% points for someone unexpected coming through. I think the faster the surface plays the more likely an unlikely champion emerges as a guy can hold serve and maybe catch a top player on an off day and send a few dudes home.


Sean Randall Says:

Well David, Rafa would pay you a lot of $$$ if you could make that draw happen. In saying that, I think a lot of guys would pay for that draw.

However, without even looking at the draw my feeling is that 3 of the top 4 will reach the semifinals, maybe even all Top 4. I wouldn’t be surprised.

In that scenario Nadal’s likely path would be Roddick, Djokovic then Federer.

As for your scenario – in which Nadal & Djokovic both win five-setters – my point is even before he plays his semifinal Nadal’s behind the eight ball knowing what’s in front of him, provided there’s quality players remaining.

For me with Rafa it really a mental thing. Does he believe he can do it? Right now I don’t think he believes he can. Physically, as we saw in Australia a couple years ago, he was able to do it with a day of rest. In New York?


ron Says:

Fed plays 3 matches in Cicny (and fish pushes him all 3 sets) and it’s the second coming? After 7 stinko months?

This gives new meaning to the color rose…oy

Enjoy the last glimpse thru those glasses.

The winner…not fed, not rafa…


David Says:

Anna

I think I still have an inside contact at the USTA. I’ll try to ring him up tomorrow ;-)

Very simple request: Put every great 2-handed backhand player on Fed’s side of the draw.


jane Says:

Bruce Jenkins from SI.com figures there’s a good chance it’ll be a Fedal final at the USO. He likes Fish’s chances too.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/bruce_jenkins/08/24/federer.nadal/


skeezerweezer Says:

David,

Really? How about putting every tall two hander against Rafa’s side of the draw?

Re: Fed against two handers; uh…do we need to bring up the BH duel against Murray in the AO 2010 final?


kimberly Says:

Rafa can win every match and lose some matches. I don’t believe there is a player he can’t beat. I’d say murray would be toughest for him.


skeezerweezer Says:

ron,

ignorance is bliss :)


TD Says:

I would love to see Federer with the trophy but Rafa is more mature, more experienced and more confident than ever – I still see him as top favorite. I’m sure he is working on his issues from the last 2 tournaments and he’ll play better at the Open.
He’ll grind his way to the semis and from there he’ll use a tactic kept for matches he can’t win – he just doesn’t lose. He’ll fight and bite till he’s through to the final.
In the final he can handle most of the guys, maybe except two. I think that against Federer he has a chance since Federer still has a mental problem when it comes to Rafa and it’s on Federer to win it – he will be under a lot of pressure. Against Murray it might be more difficult since I think Murray “believes” he is better on the HC, especially this year.
We’ll see how it goes…


steve Says:

Querrey is an enigma. He has the talent to make the fourth round (and has before), even the quarters, but even though he does well on the regular tour, he just doesn’t seem to be able to bring his best stuff to the majors.

(Contrast his buddy Isner who has a poor record in tour finals but always competes so well at the majors).

Perhaps his recent win over Murray is a sign that his game is maturing and that he has more confidence. Then again, he could go out to the world #1000 in the first round. You never know with the guy.


Anna Says:

Hey Skeeze – You stay out of this. David and I have devised a good plan and don’t need you to meddle!!


skeezerweezer Says:

Lol….Yes mam! :- )….. I will leave u 2 alone…..meddling I will not!


kimberly Says:

If rafa had to play roddick in a qaurter I think he could and very well would win.

Nole in a semi-tougher but will be a day match, he could win.

By the time he makes the final he’s going to be an animal. He will be lionheart rafa. And I don’t care who he plays (including the goat). If he is in the final he will win.

But he could lose in the fourth round and the whole discussion is moot. But I don’t believe he will lose that final. I don’t think he will ever lose a grandslam final again. His biggest challenge is to get there.


Anna Says:

My feeling is that Sam just doesn’t have the endurance to go far in slams. He looked good in L.A., but more often than not he LOOKS like he’s whipped toward the tail end of a tournament.


funches Says:

Rafa better hope he doesn’t draw Nalbandian in the third round. He’d be out of the tournament unless Nalby wilted with a two-set lead.

For more on my views on Rafa, who always is a contender but never, ever should be listed among the top three at the U.S. Open (check his results on fast hard courts and you’ll believe me), check out this link.

http://www.examiner.com/pro-tennis-in-national/rafael-nadal-blows-yet-another-chance-to-play-roger-federer-north-america


WTF Says:

I’d place Federer as clear favorite. He has won the US Open series. I’d put Murray and possibly Djokovic above Nadal. But neither of these two will beat Fed at a GS.

Nadal can beat Fed, but he’d have to get past one of these two.

On hard courts Nadal’s game does not seem to match up well against these other guys in the top 4 (for whatever reason) except Federer, but that is only because of some mental block in Fed’s head. The other two are not afraid of Nadal on this surface.

There’s no Del Potro this time around, and Murray + Djoko do not have a good record against Fed in GS, so this one is pretty much his to lose. Soderling and Berdych are an outside chance of an upset, if they meet him.

As for Nadal, there are far too many top 20 players capable of beating him at the USO. I don’t think he’ll ever win it unless he gets lucky with the draw, and certain players get upset before they can meet him. To his credit, I don’t think he will make himself obsessed with trying to win it like Llendl was at Wimbledon or Pete at the French. He’ll be happy with having won 3 out of the 4, and why shouldn’t he? He could retire today and have had a great career.


David Says:

funches

I agree. That’s precisely the player I don’t want to see in Rafa’s section.

Another player I don’t want to see early on is Gulbis.

But there are just so many players I see as dangerous – all with 2-handers: Murray, Djoko, Sod, Berdych, Davydenko, Fish, Bags. Tsonga and Cilic as well, unless they’re just in really poor form.

I think all of those players are more of a threat to Rafa than they are to Fed.


funches Says:

Djokovic has won 10 consecutive sets against Rafa in North America.

That’s the perfect indicator of Nadal’s struggles on hard courts against power players with two-handed backhands.


David Says:

Yes, it’s all matchups.

Djokovic owns Rafa on hard courts, while Roddick owns Djokovic.

And yet, I’d like Rafa’s chances against Roddick because Andy doesn’t have a strong enough 2-hander to inflict the kind of damage so many other players can. He obviously has his serve though.


Von Says:

skeezer: You are too funny!

Roddick is a “lurking menace to society”? LOL. If anyone else said that, I’d be a bit uncomfortable with it, but you, I’ll forgive.

BTW, How did you come by this deduction? Is is because of the mono? Or, is it that he can be a problem for some of the top 4 players?

_________________
On another note, Soderling nearly beat Roddick in Cincy? I don’t think so. Roddick had Soderling beaten in the second set, then he squandered the lead and had to go to a tie-break. He was also leading in the TB, and squandered that also. In the third set, it was somewhat of the same scenario. So no, I disagree, Soderling didn’t nearly beat Roddick at Cincy. The two times Soderling beat Roddick in the past, both matches were won by tie-breaks.


Von Says:

David: Roddick just has to bring his serve and FH, when playing against Nadal, similarly to what he did at Miami. The Miami court favoured Nadal, and yet, the way Roddick played in the second and third sets made it possible for Andy to get the W. The USO is much faster than Miami, and I’m sure if the two should meet, Roddick will employ his Miami strategy vs. Nadal at the USO.

Don’t forget that Roddick beat both Nadal and Djokovic in Dubai, which is also a fast court.

This is where skeezer’s prophetic words takes on meaning. Roddick’s a *lurking menace to society*. LOOL


David Says:

Sod’s low margin-for-error game plays right into Roddick’s hands. Same with Berdych.

But Roddick cannot play against Fed the same way he plays against those guys. I’m sure he knows this. He’s got to hit his forehand like he did against Nadal in Miami. I don’t think he can beat Fed at the U.S. Open unless he does.


David Says:

Von

I don’t think Rafa’s necessarily the favorite in a hypothetical matchup against Roddick, but I like his chances better in that one than against some other players – like Murray and Djokovic for example.

As far as Roddick “bringing his forehand,” since he does it once every five years, I don’t think we can take it as a given that he would hit his forehand like he did in Miami if those two were to play.

Roddick said himself about that match that he was taking some “ridiculous cuts” at the ball. That tells you he was playing out of his comfort zone. Of course, he had no choice but to play that way because his typical defensive style from the baseline had him on a sure path to defeat.


Skeezerweezer Says:

Von,
It was said in a good way, of course :). Yeah my only doubt with why he should’t do well is how is he feeling with the Mono. It’s not like poof it’s gone. That said, he has been playing really well as of late, even with the illness, so he for sure is a threat to most if not all the field…..


Von Says:

skeezer: I know you said it in a good way, and that’s why I found it to be funny.

I’m concerned about Andy’s malady also, because it’s something that raises its ugly head when its victim begins to tire, or it causes its victim to tire. Anyway, it’s not a good thing for him to have to deal with going into the USO.


Von Says:

David: I’m hoping this will be the year Roddick remembers to bring his FH. Or should I say, pack it, as in, have FH will travel. LOL. It seems to me that when he remembers he has the FH, he then forgets the BH. Just use both of them Andy, that’s why you have them. LOL. Perhaps Stefanki should use some signs like Sharapova’s father, coke bottle, and banana. Coke bottle = FH, banana = BH.


Mindy Says:

Some here seem to have forgotten that what wins slams is what I like to call the “intangibles”. It’s not always about who plays best, who the better forehand, backhand, serve, return of serve.

When Roddick beat Rafa back in Miami, that was when he had not won a title in about ten months. Rafa was battling a lack of mental toughness and confidence, something that is crucial to his success. It’s what makes him who he is, wins matches and slams.

When Rafa ran into trouble in that match, after Roddick changed his tactics and took the match to him, he had no answer because he didn’t have that innate mental belief. He wouldn’t get it back until he beat Gulbis in that match in Rome. That’s when he came out and didn’t have his best tennis and Gulbis served brilliantly and played some excellent tennis. Rafa’s back was against the wall in that match. Somehow he fought and through sheer force of will and guts, found a way to win. I will never forget that closeup of Rafa after he held serve at 5-4 in the third set. As he walked to the sidelines his face was contorted and he was screaming at himself. He continued to do it on the sidelines, all the time nodding his head for emphasis. He went out and promptly broke Gulbis to win that match. Then he jumped in the air! He had done it. He faced down his demons and found a way to win. After that, there was no looking back.

Roddick will not be facing the same Rafa he faced in Miami. Anyone who forgets the tenacity of Rafa, his will to compete, how he relishes the battle, the great thinker and strategist he is on the court, is making a huge mistake.

I will be happy to see Roddick playing at the US Open and hope that his strength will allow him to play full out. He is a great competitor who goes out and does his best. He has the weapons to trouble the top players, but no one should ever doubt Rafa’s resolve should they meet.


margot Says:

if Rafa gets to second week….
if Rog can start to string + 1 astonishing shots together…
if Andy R is fully recovered….
if Djko stops looking happy to lose…
if Andy M starts to really believe…..
if Nalby can last 5 sets……
if Gulbis can keep the ball in court….
etc. etc.
Can’t wait!


Eskay Says:

Rafa reached semis in 2009 in a worse physical and mental condition. Why can’t he reach there this year. Is he playing worse than he did in 2009 or is he in worse condition physically than in August 2009. The set of players that were there in 2009 are there still and no new wonder has burst onto the scene. As regards his form, one should not judge him by his game at Toronto and Cincy. He appeared to be experimenting with aggressive shots. This was too obvious as one watched him play. There was no urge to either win or curtail UEs or show the minimum caution. He did not raise the level of his game even he needed to and appeared capable of. If he could reach semis in 2009, there is no reason why he can not do it in 2010. Who he faces is there is the question. Djokovic appears to be fading into a three set player. Andy Murray has the confidence against him, but then law of averages is likely to catch up with him if the two were to meet. Federer has less than 50% chance in the finals against him. Rafa does appear to have a chance to lift maiden U.S Open title.


Andrew Miller Says:

I agree with Mr. Randall. That was as good as it gets in terms of predictions. Federer might win the whole thing…again! I think the only big issue is his health.


Andrew Miller Says:

(good luck predicting the WTA side…if Flav Pannetta wins it I do not mind!)


margot Says:

And PS Sean Rambo Randall… Andy was “hammered” by Cilic last year because he sustained a wrist injury at Cincy.This did not emerge until he was pressured by John Loyd to play Davis Cup. By doing this, Andy put himself out of matches for 2 (?) months. Give him a break.


David Says:

Mindy

I get your point, but if Rafa could win every match he played by sheer force of will, he would’ve never lost an important match in his career, or at least never when had his confidence and mojo.

You’re basically saying he WILL win the U.S. Open because he has his confidence back now as opposed to Miami and no one has the mental toughness to take away something he wants so badly. I’d love to think that were true, but unfortunately adaptability to the surface, shotmaking, etc. do have a lot to do with outcomes. The game isn’t all mental.


David Says:

Eskay

A lot will depend on the draw. Last year, Rafa had a very favorable one, playing Monfils (who tires easily and doesn’t have a great 2-hander) and then Gonzalez (1-handed backhand), IIRC.

A non-favorable draw, meaning playing Nalbandian, Fish or Gulbis early on could spell major trouble, and I mean getting eliminated in the first week.

We’ll just have to see how the draw plays out.


funches Says:

The idea that Rafa was just experimenting in Toronto and Cincinnati is silly. He lost to Baghdatis because he couldn’t return his first serve.

Was he experimenting on how to walk aggressively from one side of the baseline to the next between points after watching a serve blow by him?

HIs renowned mental toughness has not served him well at the U.S. Open in the past. Actually, he has collapsed mentally by the end of some of his losses there. It’s strange, but true. He’s been a beaten, dispirited player by the start of the final set against Blake, Youzhny and del Potro, to name three.


funches Says:

On that note, Rafa is 2-6 when he loses the first set at the U.S. Open. In one of the wins, Monfils was tapped out after the first set last year.


Von Says:

Normally, I wouldn’t respond to a comment that’s referring to “some here”, as it could mean all or a few posters, to whom the comments are being directed, but since I was discussing Roddick’s FH with David, I suppose I’m part of the “some here” group.

What I do know, is that grand slams are won because one man won 7 matches, beating each and every opponent he faced, because he played better than his opponent, or his opponent was just not at his best on the day. If that’s what’s called “intangibles” then somewhere along the way, I’ve lost the true meaning of the word.

In essence, what’s being touted here, is that Roddick won Miami due to Nadal’s lack of mental toughness and confidence in their match. Then going by that analogy, we can say ditto for Ljubicic’s win at IW = Nadal was lacking mental toughness and confidence also. I think that’s grasping at straws and somewhat sad, because Roddick won that match playing good tennis. Nadal was winning in the first set, and lost due to Roddick changing his game mid-match.

I’d like to know how Nadal’s fan know this to be the case. Did Nadal say that the reason he lost those matches was due to his lack of mental toughness and confidence? Or, is this purely his fan surmising that to be the reason for his losses to Ljubicic and Roddick at IW and Miami? If that’s really and truly the case, does his fan know, how it many matches it takes for Nadal to regain his mental toughness and confidence?

“When Rafa ran into trouble in that match, after Roddick changed his tactics and took the match to him, he had no answer because he didn’t have that innate mental belief.”

I don’t think this was the case at all, I think Roddick was the better player on the day. And how could Nadal have this *innate* belief in winning, since anything *innate* is something we’re born with and not acquired through experience, mental toughness and confidence. Winning matches on some occasions, happens through experience, which is an intangible. We always hear it said, that so and so player didn’t play very well, but it’s his experience that got him through that match.

Additionally, prior to meeting Roddick, Nadal had played at least six (6) matches on hard court, three (3) at IW, and three (3) at Miami. Wasn’t that amount of matches enough for Nadal to fully regain his powers, i.e., mental toughness and confidence?

With respect to Nadal getting back his confidence and mental toughness in Rome vs. Gulbis, this is somewhat strange to me, considering he had won MC by slaughtering his opponents, and blazing through the field. MC is played before Rome. Additionally, that was clay, which is Nadal’s forte. Nadal’s competence on that surface coupled with his experience, and mental toughness is what got him through that match. I’m sure he knew Gulbis would eventually fold. Now that’s what I call an intangible.

In sum, it appears as though Nadal cannot lose any match when his mental toughness and confidence are working hand-in-hand. Nor, is it possible for him to lose, period, unless there’s an existing problem, be it health-related, or personal, et. al. It just cannot happen. If he does lose, it would be an aberration. Then going by that assumption, as though it’s the rule of thumb, how and why did he lose in Toronto to Murray, and to Baghdatis and Cincy? I suppose it would be safe to put an asterisk against his losses in Toronto and cincy, respectively. Wasn’t his confidence and mental toughness working in those matches? Or was it that he was holding back with the USO in mind? I’m puzzled.

I have no doubt that Roddick will face a different Nadal at the USO, if they do meet. However, Nadal will also meet a different Roddick, and not the same guy who beat him in Miami, because Roddick has *mono* and sadly, that places Andy at a disadvantage against not only Nadal but any opponent he will face.

No one has to remember Nadal’s tenacity, or his love for the challenge of a good battle, his thinking abilities, and strategy when he’s on court. Nadal has to remember those, and if he should forget them, then that will be Nadal’s mistake, and he’ll be the one that will be in trouble, but certainly not his opponents.

Moreover, I don’t think anyone can doubt Nadal’s resolve, because that’s known only to him and him alone. What we do know and see, is the fact that he’s tenacious, mentally tough, brimming over with confidence, and never says die. He’ll find a way to win because as skeezer says, he’s the Lion heart.


David Says:

funches

I agree Rafa looked deflated against Del Potro but he was also battling an abdominal tear – a horrible injury for a tennis player to have.

I didn’t get the impression at all in that Youzhny match that he was deflated or was giving up. IIRC, he was pumping his fists like crazy even when down 0-5 in the fourth set. He got thoroughly outplayed in that match, but his fighting spirit was alive and well.


TD Says:

Don’t forget Rafa is a better player now. He is more experienced, he has more weapons, he learned how to control the pace of the match and when to push a little further to close it. If he’s healthy he will find solutions to the players he faces and he’ll get better as he gets to the 2nd week. Maybe the first 2 rounds are the most dangerous for him but those he can pass with his will alone.


Von Says:

I believe the first two rounds are the most stressful ones for most of the players, not just Nadal. Probably the only players who don’t feel the stress are the qualifiers as they can play with a nothing to lose attitude.


sar Says:

How can I find the live draw?


Von Says:

Sar: The live draw will be broadcasted tomorrow at 12:00 Noon on TV at ESPN2 and on live streaming at ESPN3.com.


David Says:

Nice post Von

As I recall that Miami match, Nadal struggled the entire match to break Roddick’s serve (only breaking once in Andy’s 2nd or 3rd service game). He held serve himself early on by coming back from some 15-30s and 0-30s, taking advantage of Roddick’s overly defensive play.

Then in the 2nd set, Roddick started taking those “ridiculous cuts” at forehands and they were like laserbeams toward the corners. He also was very effective coming forward and putting volleys away as his confidence grew.

So, I’m not really sure what Nadal was supposed to do in that match. Maybe if he had been playing at his very highest level he could’ve gotten a break back. But I just thought the combination of Andy’s massive serving and massive forehand blasting was too much. In previous matches on hard court between those two players, Roddick didn’t change up, he just let Nadal work him silly from the baseline the whole match.


Skeezerweezer Says:

When Rafa loses according to some fans , he always has an excuse. How about using this one first, “He got beat by the better player today?”

The quotes I read from Rafa himself most always gives credit to the opposition when he loses, and doesn’t whine about injury excuses or shoulda would coulda….

Out


sar Says:

Oh, thanks. What a goof. I was looking all over today….


MJ Says:

I like it better when Rafael is NOT the favorite…


funches Says:

David,

I stand corrected on the Nadal-Youzhny match. I was just going by the score and my memory, but I actually don’t think I saw the end of the match.


NELTA Says:

There’s quite a few unseeded players that could pull off an upset in the early rounds. You have a bunch of Frenchmen, Dolgo, Anderson, and Malisse. These guys scare me more than some of the seeded players like Monaco, Montanes or Stepanek.


David Says:

Another dangerous guy could be Istomin. He looked like he had some pretty big weapons in the highlights I saw of his match with Blake in Cincy. He’s also climbed into the top 50 for the first time. I assume he’s healthy because he’s playing this week somewhere.


i am it Says:

In the politics (?) of predicting the USO winner, what do the 8 tennis legends say, in case if you missed it?

Who all think, more appropriately who all hope, Federer will win: Henmann, Ivanisevic, Krajicek

Who all hope (believe) Rafa wins: Leconte, McEnroe, Stitch

Who all are for Murray: Pat Cash and Bjorn Borg

In their own words:

Henmann: “I’d probably go for Roger Federer. I think in those kind of conditions and on a fast hard court, he’ll be the man to beat.
“There are times when you’re playing against Federer and you just can’t find an area to attack. It’s very difficult to find any weakness and when you put that package together it wasn’t much fun to play against.”

Ivanisevic: “I think it’s going to be Roger Federer because the court suits him so well and I think he is ready to win his first Grand Slam for a while. I think the courts are just too fast for Nadal, they’re faster in New York than they are in Wimbledon.”

Krajicek: “Roger Federer will win because he is always successful at the US Open. He’s been six years in a row in the final and won five of them and at the moment he’s playing well and he’s very serious and working with Paul Annacone, so he’s going to be the one to win it this year.”

Leconte: “So my prediction for the US Open men’s title is that I think and I wish Rafa Nadal is going to win, because it would be great for him to win the French, Wimbledon and the US Open in one year. That would be amazing and he deserves it because he’s putting everything together as a player.”

McEnroe: “Rafael Nadal wants to win the US Open so badly and It’d be hard not to pick him even though he’s never won it. The guy’s just an animal; he’s mentally and physically incredible and he can definitely do it if he’s in this shape.
The conditions in New York don’t suit Nadal so well and he needs to make his body hold up.”

Stich: “It’s very open in both the men’s and women’s draws. On the men’s sidet here are a lot of players that are dangerous on this surface. As well as Nadal, Murray, Djokovic and Federer, there’s also Soderling and Davydenko. I will go for Nadal.”

Borg: “I’m going to pick either Andy Murray, Tomas Berdych or Robin Soderling …
Murray is definitely a player that can win Grand Slam tournaments. He’s going to be up there fighting with (Rafael) Nadal and (Roger) Federer from now on and one day I think he might be the number one player in the World.”

Cash: “I think Andy Murray will win in the men’s, I think he’ll win his first Grand Slam.”

Check out the video clips. ATP site has a link to this piece, or go directly to atpchampionstour.com/news108.html


skeezerweezer Says:

I am it,

Thanks for that, was in a discussion earlier regarding USO’s vds. Wimby..

“..they’re faster in New York than they are in Wimbledon.”

Shammmmooonnnn!


David Says:

I see Borg’s backtracking a bit from his predictions about the imminent dominance of Soderling. But at least he gave a little shout-out to his countryman :)


NELTA Says:

You can probably scratch the X-man off the list of potential spoilers. He retired in his match against Gabashvilli at the Pilot Pen.

Gonzo is not looking good. He took a thrashing from Stepanek which is pathetic considering how he has been playing lately. Gonzo is definitely a seed you would like to have in your section. He probably won’t make it past the 3rd round.


jane Says:

Thanks for that list of commentary i am it.

NELTA, I very much agree that there are a number of dangerous opponents early on who could cause upsets; I also agree with those who say the first rounds are nerve-wracking because of it.

Von “I disagree, Soderling didn’t nearly beat Roddick at Cincy.” – I realize there were ups and downs in that match, and that Roddick might have won sooner; however, when I wrote that Soda almost beat him I was thinking of the end result: 6-4, 6-7(7), and 7-6 (5), meaning Soda was 2 points away from winning the match. Roddick squandered leads, but the opponent had to take advantage of this too. I find that Soda doesn’t fade away quite as quickly as he used to do and that is why I think he can sometimes be more dangerous at slams now. I think of the USO match between him and Roger last year, and while Fed came out absolutely on fire, Soderling didn’t go away; he stayed the course, and he very nearly forced a 5 set match. So I guess my point in bringing up his loss to AndyR in Cincy was merely to illustrate why, in my opinion, he could be a tough out at the Open. Who knows though? He’s been beaten in the last two slams by Rafa and maybe that’s hurt his belief a bit.


NELTA Says:

Borg and Soderling have the same distinctive walk. They are both a little bowl-legged. They appear to walk on their heels and the sides of their feet. Same for Neimenen. Must be something in the Scandinavian genetics.


Mindy Says:

Now it appears that if I direct my response to “some people”, then it is a faux pas. In case no one is paying attention, there has been more than one person joining in the discussion about why Rafa would not beat someone like Roddick at the USO.

It’s unfortunate that sometimes comments must be taken too personally or that we have to go down to the level of grade schoolers, when what we are having is a simple discussion about tennis.

Skeezer, I am NOT making excuses for Rafa’s loss to Roddick in Miami! I would appreciate it if you would not put words in my mouth. I was giving my reasons why I felt that he lost. I don’t recall disparaging Roddick in any way. I cannot help it if any little slight comment that isn’t even critical of Roddick is taken and twisted and distorted to mean something that it is not. It’s getting really old to have you jump down anyone’s throat every time you infer that they are making excuses.

I believe that I know Rafa, having studied his matches and watching him play over the years. He is, as a matter of face, a confidence player. I am hardly the first one, nor am I the only one, to make that observation. My intent was not to say that Roddick didn’t deserve the win. It would appear that if one doesn’t give fulsome and unqualified praise to Roddick at all times, then one is open to derisive comments.

If people want to pretend that they don’t know what is meant by “intangibles”, then far be it from me to explain it to them. Also, I don’t recall saying that Rafa always wins with these qualities or when he is mentally tough. Why comments must be dissected or this forum has to be made into a debating society or a legal argumet, I have no idea. This is supposed to be a place for us to express our opinions and ideas and not be subjected to sarcasm in lieu of a real argument.

Rafa doesn’t need excuses when he loses. It is NOT true that there is always an injury excuse. My response wasn’t about excuses. It was about offereing a different perspective as to one possible factor for his loss in that match.

It is patently absurd to state that Rafa cannot lose when he has his mental confidence or is healthy. There is no basis for discussion when people respond in this manner. Maybe it would be better if I just went along and said what the majority here would prefer. I have no intention of doing so.

You cannot have a discussion if people won’t hear you or respect your point of view. That appears to be what has happened one more time. Defending Rafa here is never easy.

I see that one can be hypocritical and make excuses for Roddick, but not Rafa. So because Roddick is still suffering from the effects of mono, that will put him at a disadvantage if he meets Rafa. Anyone who blatantly contradicts themselves in one post, cannot even presume to have made an argument.

What is really sad is that I respect Roddick as a player and competitor. Now I am reminded that any attempt to explain any factor that might have contributed to a loss to Roddick will cause an overreaction among certain people.


grendel Says:

Stich would really like to nominate Stich as the likely winner. But since even he can’t quite plausibly do that, he does the next best thing, and produces a whole list of names, subtly implying that it’s six to one or half a dozen to the other. And then he picks Nadal rather as if selecting a girl from a line up, yes, I suppose she’ll do sort of thing, though frankly….


jane Says:

margot @2:35 – reading your post I can’t help thinking of Kipling. Were you channeling him this afternoon? : )

grendel – your description of Stich’s selection process is hilarious, this bit especially: ” And then he picks Nadal rather as if selecting a girl from a line up, yes, I suppose she’ll do sort of thing, though frankly….”


David Says:

Mindy

Looking back at your original post, I see I did misconstrue a lot of what you said so I apologize for that.

I actually predicted in an earlier post that Roddick would be a favorable late-tournament opponent for Rafa and that I hope he gets to play Andy again there (although I must say I hope it’s not the Andy of the last 2 sets of that Miami match).

As a Rafa fan, I’m actually worried about several other players above Roddick, mainly because I like Rafa’s chances in any match when he can control the points from the baseline. What worries me on hard court is that I think the court’s too fast and there are several guys with powerful 2-handed backhands who can make life miserable for Nadal.


contador Says:

uh boy. : /

so ok, rafa had an abdominal tear and had gone through a bad summer , last summer. hey, valid reasons, imo, like mono and back problems. no double standards.

what was the reason or excuse the previous year at US Open? the year that rafa wore #1, and was having a best year ever? i do remember him being the favorite to win, the “rock star.”

i looked at that 2008 draw to refresh my mind. really no trouble through the dangerous opening rounds for rafa in 2008.

phau 3 sets
deheart 3 sets
troiki 3 sets
querrey (ranked 55 at the time ) 4 sets ( hm… )
fish ( big fish, not slim fish ) 4 sets ^ ^ ?
andy murray – rafa loses in 4 sets

in a best summer 08 and rafa’s worst in 09, he gets to a semi-final at the US Open = same result.

i agree it will take more than strength of will and experience. luck of the draw helps: ( fellow spaniards ; gasquet, monfils ok, not benneteau or baghdatis ) and a fromidable foe or two falling to others.

not saying rafa can’t win the us open this year, just looking into the idea.

but it does beg the questions- if not this year, when he is admittedly enjoying great fitness again and wearing world #1, then when and how?

for federer winning the FO was a matter of patience and perseverance. federer put himself in the right place – took on the king of clay 3 times in a final and 1 time in a semi final there.

finally federer found himself in the FO final with no rafa. : ) job done in 3 sets.

looking into how federer has accomplished GS wins the past two years, he’s gotten it done in straight sets. ( i don’t see federer at all in the form of his life, though he won cincinnati.) and the way he played last summer at US Open, by the time the final came around, i’d say the best of 5 format is at best become a dangerous one for federer. he lost in a five setter in melbourne in 09, nearly lost at wimbledon in that final 5 setter 09. lost last us open…

my conclusion: there are reasons not to pick rafa or federer.

can’t quite wrap my mind around any of the others winning. but my gut says – a new winner comes through.

lol- as if MY gut is a good indicator…

the end.

meanwhile, talented dolgopolov has just taken the first set against poor old blake in new haven and is up a break in the 2nd set.


steve Says:

I am going to make this post for the third time. Not just because I like the sound of my own voice (although I do, who doesn’t?), but because it is of direct relevance to the question asked in the title.

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 (another impressive record).

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.

Those matches were templates for his eventual victories at those tournaments. 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).

Eventually he got a better serve and more game, and was able to stay in a match long enough against Federer to grind him down, the same way he did to lesser players.

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 USO courts, which they couldn’t do at other venues. He could not outlast them over the course of five sets.

There is no template for a Nadal victory at USO, as there was at AO or Wimbledon, that we could extrapolate from. His victories in Grand Slam finals off clay have been five-set wars of attrition. That strategy just does not seem to work for him at the US Open, and it seems like it’s almost never worked for him there.

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.


madmax Says:

GREAT ARTICLE SEAN, cannot wait for the draw tomorrow!

It’s exciting!

Ron Says:

Fed plays 3 matches in Cicny (and fish pushes him all 3 sets) and it’s the second coming? After 7 stinko months?

This gives new meaning to the color rose…oy

Enjoy the last glimpse thru those glasses.

The winner…not fed, not rafa…

August 24th, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Federer has done well in two turnaround tournaments, where the journalists wrote him off – even Sean – cut the guy some slack!

C’mon TMF!


jane Says:

contador, wasn’t there something about that Murray and Rafa semifinals match in 2008? I think there were rain delays or something and they ended up playing over 2 days? Can that be right? And the final was on a Monday? I don’t know. Not that it makes too much difference; I checked the stats, and Andy M served 21 aces versus Rafa during that match! His serving like that, combined with his returning abilities must have made the difference. I think for Murray to win this USO title, he has to stay focused throughout, even in the early rounds (no dangerous walkabouts!) and he has to serve really well throughout.


Mindy Says:

David,

I appreciate your kind response. As far as I am concerned, this particular discussion is over. Others may seek to pursue it further. You have an open mind and willingness to actually read what I wrote and hear what I say.

There is so much written about Rafa and his chances to win the USO, either this year or any year. I don’t have the inclination to defend him endlessly here. It’s pointless.

The one thing that I do believe is that Rafa thinks he can win this tournament. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be there. I am sure that he will give it his best.


David Says:

Steve

I think Rafa has used the 5-set format to win certain matches at the Open. That was perhaps the case last year against Monfils and in 2008 against Fish. Not that he wouldn’t have won those same matches in a 2 out of 3-set format, but it just made it more of a given that he would win. He probably could again against someone like Baghdatis, who’s known to not be the fittest guy out there.

But against the top players, the bottom line at every Slam is that you just have to play better tennis than your opponent because everybody (with the possible exception of Djokovic) is extremely fit. I don’t think he won the 2008 Wimbledon final because of “attrition.” I just think he was the better player that day and Roger did a great job of playing Houdini but he just couldn’t escape all the way. At the 2009 AO, Roger just played an atrocious fifth set (whatever the reason). Nadal was the more tired of the two players I would think so I don’t think he wore Roger down as much as Fed just gifted the match in the 5th set.

So it’s not so much his “attrition game” doesn’t work at the U.S. Open, imo. It’s that he just joins the peloton, so to speak, at the U.S. Open and there’s a whole army of players with strong 2-handed backhands who can beat him on the day.


Lynne Danley Says:

Nadal won’t win. This year, I think he’ll be lucky to get to the quarters unless he gets a heck of a draw and a lot of luck. He’s mentally tough, but it’s going to take more than that. He simply does not play well enough on a hard court. I think Federer will win, but I’d give Murray, Nalbandian and Fish a GREAT chance. They’re all vets by now, and Murray and Nalbandian are not afraid of either Rafa or Roger and have beaten them consistently. I’m going out on a limb to predict another Fed-Fish Final (f-f-f-f-!) with Fed coming out the winner!


Kimberly Says:

Come on Rafa, silence all these naysayers!!!!!!


David Says:

Kimberly

I really hope he does!! And if and when he does, I promise I’ll admit I was dead wrong.

Unlike Jon Wertheim for example, who says one week that Fed looks like he’s playing with a pager against Berdych’s iPhone, and then after Cincy makes no mention of equipment and says no one should be surprised by Fed’s resurgence (even though Roger’s made no equipment change that I know of).


contador Says:

i’m not saying rafa can’t win this year or any year, dear kimberly!

i wouldn’t say never to rafa…

…or roger.

i simply think someone else is the winner. ( today ) : )

i have plenty of time to change my mind around 100 times before the brackets open, right?

btw, checking resuts : go dolgo in new haven!


contador Says:

jane-

something fishy about the rafa – murray match? ( Joking ) : )

yes, there was. and i remember that extended rain delay being a reason for a disadvanage to murray and his losing the final.

rain delays are tough. not something within one’s control; that weather.

the thing is: delpo said nothing of it at the time last us open but he was playing with his right wrist injured. the fact came out in shanghai that he injured it in miami or indian wells 09 ( can’t remember which now ) and he kept tweaking that injury – it never had a chance to fully recover.

i guess my point is: it comes down to who survives. federer wasn’t 100% in the final nor was delpo. as it turns out, delpo made it, being just enough the better to edge him out in 5.

federer was able to make it the year before, where maybe the rain delay helped him, but his win was not without physical consequences, which took him months to recover.

it would seem, if a rain delay is long enough, an injury, illness, cramps, sleep deprivation, anxiety, whatever it is, may have time to really get worse, if not by the time the rain delay ends, definitely by the time one must play the next match. the adrenaline wears off, the body relaxes and suddenly the pain or whatever problem is present, is too heightened to ignore, when taking the court again.

digressing here while remembering australian cadel evans in the tour de france this year, who was highest of the general contenders going into the first rest day, though he crashed and fractured an elbow 2 days before the rest day. the following day after he crashed, he put in a fantastic performance on a climb stage and won the yellow jersy. the problem and pain worsened over the rest day, the day after he won the yellow jersey. 2 days and 3 nights was too much. cadel promptly fell far off the back of the leaders on the stage day after the rest day, lost the yellow jersey and crossed the line in a dream crushing eight minutes behind… contador.

it’s a tough break, literally. cadel finished the tour but lost the chance for any podium spot due to a crash and a hairline fracture. cadel evans, the world champion too.

tennis slams are a test to an athlete on every level, like cycling. it’s a very grueling 2 weeks in slams. TDF is played out over 3 weeks. very different sports but difficult in either to come through unscathed, without struggles with elements, or being put in a “pain box” at some point.

i am not sure having an “easy” or “lucky” draw is an answer at all.
for contador, having a main rival crash or experience a mechanical problem as another main rival did this year, contributed to his overall win, which was measured in seconds. not minutes like the last year. ( rivals closing in on me! : o )

what i am saying is that having a main rival withdraw, retire, get otherwise knocked out, or have bad luck does very certainly help ones chances in any draw or field, cruel but true.

as for murray, i imagine he will know how to handle an extended rain delay better, should one happen. the good news for murray fans is that he beat both nadal and federer in toronto, which is a step in the right direction since AO 10. he went out tired in cincy. i am not making too much of that loss.

leaning toward murray again. maybe.


David Says:

Despite all the excitement heading into the U.S. Open, it still needs to be said that this tournament has had and continues to have THE WORST scheduling of probably any major sporting event, not just a tennis event.

Why do some men’s players not play their first match until Wednesday? Can anyone answer me that question? It’s ludicrous and of course means that several players (who are slated to play Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday) are always in danger of having to play back to back five set matches on consecutive days in the event of rain. No matter what they’ll have to play 3 5-set matches in the last four days to win the tournament.

So, bottom line is I’m happy the tournament’s starting but it is my least favorite Slam just because of the scheduling absurdities.


sar Says:

From Bryan’s blog.

@Bryanbros This just in: Mr. Novak Djokovic will be joining us for the first time LIVE to perform “Autograph,” main stage @AAKidsDay. LET IT RIP! #fb 48 minutes ago


contador Says:

sar-

wanted to say thank-you for posting your experience in cincinnati.

how much fun was that!


sar Says:

I love Borg as a player but……

Q. You said you feel that Djokovic will be the next No. 1 player. Do you think he has a better chance of taking over that spot than Nadal does?
BJORN BORG: No, I said he will be a No. 1 player. Nadal might be before him, though. But I think after Roger, it’s going to be Nadal or Djokovic, and they can play all kind of surfaces. It’s going to be interesting, Wimbledon and US Open. Djokovic is playing really good on the grass, too. But I think the end of this year Roger will be the No. 1 player, and then next year we see a new No. 1 player.

Q. Who has a better chance of beating Roger this year at Wimbledon, Nadal or Djokovic?
BJORN BORG: I would say Nadal. If he survived the first two or three rounds at Wimbledon this year, then I pick Nadal to win Wimbledon.

http://www.atptennis.com/1/en/2008news/borg_pressconference.asp


grendel Says:

SG says: (I’ve taken the liberty of copying this, a reply to an earlier post of mine, from the last big thread, since nobody’s reading that any more, and besides, it’s on topic.) SG had picked Federer to win, and I asked what if he met his apparent nemesis Nadal in final:

“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.”

Neat little dig there at the end, SG! However, I think there may be another way of looking at it.
It is notorious that Rafa is in Fed’s head, though not everybody means the same thing by it. One school of thought holds that Fed’s game, in particular the “weak” one handed backhand, is just tailor made for a Rafa rampage. The other believes it to be a mainly mental problem. In the days when Fed was bestriding the tennis world like some smooth colossus, there was this annoying tic he couldn’t shake off, this irritating Spaniard who declined to acknowledge the current consensus.

But those days are long over. Now, beating Federer, if not exactly commonplace, happens quite often. Federer has become quite used to grubbing around in the dirt with his fellow competitors. Nothing is given, every match is a fight, almost anyway.

Nadal, therefore, not only has lost the unique position he once had vis-a-vis Federer, but everyone now sort of expects him to win against Federer. I should have thought that this takes a good deal of pressure off the Swiss, and so goes some way to undoing the kind of mythic status Nadal had in his head. Yes, a battle with Nadal will be tough with no guarantees of a win – but exactly the same can be said of a battle with Murray or Djokovic, and to a slightly lesser degree with Berdych, Soderling and even others.

As for the one handed bh, I think that can be overplayed. Federer is perfectly capable of adjusting his game to meet differing kinds of threat, particularly now when he has conceded the need to do something about that passive second serve return,and if he is no longer bowed down by the fear factor, then I think he stands a good chance of beating Nadal.

However, as Margot has pointed out, maybe neither of them will be in the final.


jane Says:

sar, how fun (the Twitter); yes I saw that Novak, the Bryans, Rafa, Roddick and others will be at Kid’s day. Not sure that any of it is televised though, alas.


sar Says:

I have some quotes by Muster, Woodford, Ivanisevic, Borg, McEnroe, Rafter all saying that Nole would be the next number one. It’s just the soup du jour.


CincyMary Says:

Reading all these comments has been hugely entertaining! And all the speculating that is going on is even better!

I frankly am sick and tired of Rafa-Federer Match-ups, even if that’s what everybody else is after…but the guy in the rose color is booooooring and really has not accomplished much this year…his win in Cincy should not be too highly regarded, given that he only played 3 matches and Mardy Fish had a very tough draw and almost pulled off the upset…
I want an all Spanish Final please :))))


jane Says:

Hey you people in the UK – margot, grendel, madmax, Colin – lock up your cats eh? Apparently … well.


skeezerweezer Says:

Mindy,

Since you addressed me;

“It’s getting really old to have you jump down anyone’s throat every time you infer that they are making excuses”

Then don’t make them. And oh, try congratulating other players that Rafa loses to because “they were the better player that day” and leave out he had “mental problems” or something else. Just once?

Rafa’s quotes often include a compliment to the other player, first up, when he gets beat. And is willing to talk about other players and there success. If you adore him so, do you can follow your favs lead? Just sayin….


Andrew Miller Says:

Rafa’s set up everything to win: he lost earlier in Toronto and QF in Cincinatti, so he hasnt “peaked”. Neither he nor Federer has overplayed this summer.

So…should be fresh! Should be a great US Open. I hope we get an awesome QF round.

On the WTA side….really, Venus should win. However, if it’s wide open (like the French) maybe an Aravane Rezai has a shot?


Andrew Miller Says:

In terms of Djokovic, I think in 2008 Borg would have been correct: fresh off the Australian Open victory, Djokovic looked “poised” to make deep runs almost everywhere. Then Todd Martin happenned, and now Djokovic has become “Semifinal Sam” or “First Man Crossed off the Oddsmakers List to Win” or whatever you feel he should be called.

He’s never playing “badly” – a semifinal finish at Slams and Masters is something most U.S. players would definitely want to brag about! But he hasn’t for a while shown the “assasin” side that he had in late 2007 and early 2008. That Djokovic was about the turn the ATP upside down. This Djokovic is a good bet for a QF or SF.


skeezerweezer Says:

Well my bad I was hoping there was some guys in there there too for the ladies :(


Andrew Miller Says:

(One could make a case for Roddick being in the camp of ‘havent done much lately’, but at the moment Roddick truly does look about as green [sick] as Federer did in early 2008! Add that to arguably among the best Wimbledon finals, alongside Federer-Nadal, that Roddick played, a big Miami title this year, and a semifinal despite sickness in Cincy, and I think Roddick has put up well all things considered).


Kimmi Says:

I agree with skeezer about the excuses concerning rafa when he loses.

Hope Muzza win over rafa in toronto gave him some credit for a change. wait a minite….rafa was not confident enough lol


Andrew Miller Says:

The case for Andy Murray is pretty strong also. I give him a pass for USO 2008 (Murray played an epic semifinal on Nadal). He loves hardcourts. And finally, he made the final in Australia, where his last set (which should have been his first set) found him nearly matching a peer-less Federer (who truly played some of the smartest tennis I’d ever seen him play; he reminded me of Michael Jordan, who made adjustments as his career progressed so that, no matter how young the opponent, he exploited his superior court knowledge and others’ lack of it to enforce his will on the court).

So – that final set at AO showed that Murray’s quite the hard-court player. He will have to show a lot of heart, a la Del Potro, to pull through at the US Open. He’d really have to do what Sampras did to steal the crown when Sampras beat up on Lendl in 1990. Serve huge.


Andrew Miller Says:

Seriously, I think things look good for the mens’ side of the tournament. What would be ironic is if the favorites lose and the ladies’ side produces all the big stories. So if Wozniaki shows some incredible heart and touch, or if Oudin runs through the semis, or Sharapova steals the tournament (something that actually should happen: who’s in her way?)

But seriously, it could happen. All the storylines focus on the men, but it could be the WTA that wins over everyone at the Open.


kimberly Says:

The draw comes out tomorrow….let the stress over draw challenge begin.

As a rafa fan I feel sad when I read these posts. So the guy doesn’t have a big serve. He’s not a typical hardcourt player. But he’s good. And one must give credit where credit is due, he tries his best and is always looking to improve and is relatively humble for an 8 time grand slam champion.


skeezerweezer Says:

@kimberly,

No one has said in these posts that I can see “Rafa suck”, they are just predicting and giving there reasons as such. IMO I think Rafa is the Fav ( Hey he is seeded #1 for a reason ). he has played well this HC season and is primed for a USO run. Unc Toni has been very vocal about preparing his playing time for a run at the USO, never underestimate the heart of a lion….


kimberly Says:

@ skeezer—thanks for your kind words to a sensitive fan!

Now I’m getting readt to stress about beating kaiser in draw challenge. Kaiser always beats kimberli25


David Says:

Last year Nadal got the Wednesday start if I’m not mistaken, so by my calculations the USTA owes Rafa. Give him a Monday start and put Federer on Wednesday. Nothing against Roger, but for once I want to see him be one of the last ones completing his 1st, 2nd round, 3rd round matches, etc.. I want him this time to know he’ll have to win 3 times in 4 days to win the tournament. I want his fans to have to worry that maybe it’ll rain and he’ll have to play two days in a row.

Just my $0.02.


nacho Says:

Taylor Dent???!!! really???!!!! did you see him? even Nalbandian is in better shape.


kimberly Says:

Nacho–Saw him live in miami playing rafa. He’s enormous.


skeezerweezer Says:

David,

wow that is harsh……. The USTA and ATP owe Rafa what is in the rules. Has he ever before been seeded #1 going into the USO? I would think whatever a #1 seed deserves the ATP and USTA within there rules will give the #1 seed it’s deserved privilege….just like any other previous #1 seed..

That said I hope everyone gets a fair shake, Rafa especially, he deserves it, but look out handshakes can be deceptive sometimes…..

I raise you a penny :)


David Says:

skeezer

I don’t know how it works with the scheduling. Does Roger request the early start and then get it from schedulers while other players request later starts (I imagine they would sometimes)? Does Roger’s request override other players’ request for an early start?

All I know is that at the U.S. Open it could be critical to get the Monday start depending on the weather during the tournament. You also are much better off playing Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday of the second week rather than Thursday, Saturday, Sunday I would think.

In any case, this is just a perception of mine that Roger most of the time is going on before Nadal and into the next round before Rafa and other players. Maybe that perception is not accurate and that it’s more or less even in the big events throughout the year, but at this U.S. Open I want Nadal to get that Monday start.

We’ll see what happens but my prediction is that Fed will be playing Monday and Rafa on Wednesday.


skeezerweezer Says:

David,

I am sure someone will read our posts and let us know how it all works. I don’t have the quick answer for either. I am sure the having the #1 seed should get you some privilege, ya think?


jane Says:

Skeezer, thank you for posting that article on Andy Murray; I like this description of his variety – “already dizzying diversity of weapons” – and agree with the writer that one of the fun things about watching Andy M is that you just don’t know what shot is coming next! By contrast, for me when watching Nole on his best form, it’s the laser accuracy, power and depth of his groundstrokes. With Murray it’s the variety that makes me go “OOOHH” and “AHH”. : )

Bring on the draw then!!


steve Says:

@David: my point is that in a fifth set, Nadal is mentally one of the strongest players out there. Even if his opponent gets a late burst of strength and manages to drag it into a fifth, he remains very strong.

Five-setters only occur when the opponents are very, very closely matched. In that situation, Nadal’s tenacity and tirelessness gives him the edge, and has often tipped the balance in his favor.

But it just doesn’t happen for him at the US Open. He has almost never managed to take it to a fifth set. His matches either quickly swing his way, or they swing his opponents’ way quickly. It’s never close enough that it has to be decided by a fifth set; that’s the situation in which he has an advantage, where sheer grinding guts will get him the win.

And sometimes he’s outplayed for much of the match but manages to outlast his opponent in the fifth set, as happened at Wimbledon twice this year. Again that hasn’t happened at the US Open, at least not against any player who is good enough that we can more reasonably gauge how he would fare.


David Says:

Steve,

I see what you’re saying, but I don’t think past results necessarily indicate future performance.

The way I see it, Nadal’s least likely to have a 5 setter on clay because he’s so dominant on that surface.

On hard, I would think it’s far more likely that he would play 5 sets, even if that hasn’t happened for a few years. Not against guys like Murray or Djokovic or Del Potro. Against those guys the most likely outcome is probably that Rafa loses in 4 sets.

But against someone like Benneteau or Gulbis or Baghdatis, I don’t see why a 5-setter wouldn’t be fairly likely. We saw how evenly matched Nadal and Baghdatis were on fast hard in Cincy. Certainly, had that match been 3 out of 5 there’s probably a strong chance that Rafa would’ve won the 4th set.


margot Says:

jane@2.12: no, no Kipling influence, don’t like him, too Gungho for me, though terribly sad what happened to him. Was merely trying to crystallise main probs for each player. As grendel has pointed out, I favour terse prose. Cats reference??? Don’t like cats as a matter of fact, they destroy wildlife and you-know-what on my veggie patch. A friend once said to me “you’re not a pet person are you?” Took this as a huge compliment, though at the time her let-out-od-the-cage birds were trying to you-know-what on my head, so my reaction might’ve been a bit extreme…
David: completely agree re scheduling, it’s a HUGE advantage to come out of the starting blocks first. This year especially it might be as, according to Andy’s twitter (:)) weather in NY is horrid.
conty: they used to burn entrails to predict future so your “guts” are part of a noble tradition.
skeezer: ta :)


pro rafa Says:

Rafa lost at Cincinnati once again…
So What? He dosent have to win another master event to prove anybody wrong… he’s got a historic 18 master titles…he’s made history already…it dosent matter whether he wins on clay or on grass or on HC….records will remain records till someone breaks it… and by the looks of it nobody is gonna break his record in the foreseeable future

as for rafas excuses r concerned, the excuse that he lost to better player will never crop up because he is the second most feared player in all courts in the world preceded only by roger federer
even on courts where he has been uncomfortable, all his opponents respect his will to fight and his will to move on and keep winning matches and tourneys


madmax Says:

Pro rafa

‘and by the looks of it nobody is gonna break his record in the foreseeable future’.

Fed is ONE behind in masters series. Rafa is 4 behind in Masters cups. I think it’ll be broken sooner than you think – Of course Agassi is out of the running as he has retired (holding the equal record of 17), – I think we have two more masters series this year? So Fed has every chance of equalling it and even beating it this year.

Even so, it is an amazing record – 18 masters wins – something to be hugely proud of (you) as a rafa fan.

Here is a preview on the Nike outfits in the ‘look books’ for the USOpen, featuring fed, rafa, sharapova and Lu. Looks like Fed is back in blue. Light for the day, dark navy for the evening.

http://usopen2010.nikemedia.com/


madmax Says:

also, a ‘knockabout’ with fed, rafa, serena (though an onlooker) and sharapova in new york with some celebrities last night – looks like fun!

http://itn.co.uk/6ee48f251645d46b42f553ffa7459f38.html


jane Says:

margot, re: cat reference – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/7963873/Dumping-cat-in-wheelie-bin-was-misjudgement-culprit-Mary-Bale-claims.html

Hope our faves get a fairly decent draw; do you get Murray’s Twitters at “Murray’s World” website?


MMT Says:

I agree with Von – Roddick made great adjustments (which fewer and fewer players on tour seem capable of doing these days) in his match with Nadal in Miami, for which Rafa had no answers, that earned him that victory.

FYI Nadal’s progression at the US Open since 2004:

04 – 2R
05 – 3R
06 – QF
07 – 4R
08 – SF
09 – SF

In Australia it was:

04 – 3R
05 – 4R
06 – DNP
07 – QF
08 – SF
09 – W

My money’s on Nadal, regardless of who winds up in the final or who’s in his half of the draw.


Kimberly Says:

fed should complain, rafa’s outfits are way sexier than his.


Skeezerweezer Says:

Contador,

Did you see what Margot said about your entrails? Yikes! lol

Jane,

What is a “wheelie bin’? What does it do?


jane Says:

Hi Skeezer, it’s a large trash bin on wheels. You’ve likely seen them. Those garbage trucks with the automated disposal lifter require these new trash bins. Anyhow this cat story has been getting a lot of hype on the news around here, on Facebook, youtube, etc…


contador Says:

uh….yeah. i am only waking up atm, but read what margot wrote, skeezerweezer

i was trying not to take it personally lol….

leave my entrails outta this! they are nobody’s noble tradition but my own, mmmk? no hibachi , no sacrificial BBQ. go get a ouja board or a crystal ball!! : (

and then the link from madmax – i don’t like the all navy look on federer either. it looks…like… why? nike why.

rafa’s black is good. of course i always hope it is designed in a way that magically won’t slip into where the sun doesn’t shine…please.


Skeezerweezer Says:

O, Ok thanks Jane :)


margot Says:

jane: of course as soon as I’d posted I got your cat reference! Duh!! It’s world wide wow! Yes, you can get Andy’s twitter through his web site, also through ATP and u can sign up…..:)
pleeese let our faves get good draws and the terrible twins get trixy ones, all revealed in a couple of hours….oo…. :0


Skeezerweezer Says:

Contador!

That was too funny! :)…all in fun…

Good morning to you!


jane Says:

I do like Rafa’s black with neon yellow; it’s a nice look. Fed’s day outfit, the sky blue with tan/brown shorts isn’t too bad.


contador Says:

it’s a guesome visual to wake up to skeezerweezer… but yes i laughed, even laugh-snorted. : )

‘my’ entrails on…and some toothless medievals gaping … makes me sick, no?

hahaa nice. my fault. i mentioned the word “gut.”

anyway, draw day! bracket challenge us open and …..the other one kimberly mentioned!

out.


margot Says:

oh conty, don’t be a party pooper, do it for tennisx, you know you want to…


grendel Says:

jane – it’s all very well that woman apologing profusely, moment of madness and so on, but then, in an unguarded moment she says:”I really don’t see what everyone is getting so excited about – it’s just a cat.” It’s those unguarded moments you’ve got to look out for – which is why,b.t.w., press conferences tend to be so dull and turgid, not too many unguarded moments there, usually.

madmax – it is true, Fed is only one Masters behind Nadal, but come on: Nadal’s going to be winning at least 2 or 3 a year (if we just confine ourselves to the clay – perhaps unduly pessimistic) for several years to come. Fed has essentially stopped winning masters – one a year at the most.


Kimberly Says:

i am a rafa fan but if i were roger i would complain to Nike:

“Why do I have to look like a geek or a ninety year old man while he gets the super hot outfits”

At my tennis club, all the guys including my husband are fed fans. And guess whose clothes they wear? Rafa outfits. Because they don’t want to look like dorks.


grendel Says:

MMT

Nice to hear your thoughts again. So it’s Nadal to win whoever he gets, in draw or final. Now that’s very bold, but there’s quite a large part of me which reluctantly agrees. I am astonished at how people have gone on and on about Nadal’s performances in the last 2 tourneys – as if they were ever ANYTHING but very useful practice and information gathering sessions for the real thing. That’s New York, and that’s where you’ll see a totally different Nadal, especially in the second week.


contador Says:

it’s too late margot-

no joy for a murray fan. rafa’s revenge this year.


Kimberly Says:

contador and all others-the draw challenge is thetennischannel.com its called under tournaments raquetbracket. I will try to post a link.


jane Says:

I think Fed has just cultivated that “classic” or “traditional” tennis look, with basic polos, etc — whether he did this on his own or whether (more what I expect is the case) Nike cultivated it for him, by putting him in those full suits for Wimbledon etc. He’s always had a more traditional look (except the “original” Roger with long hair and beads!! When he beat Pete). I think it suits him, the classic look, but prefer to see Fed in brighter colors, like red or royal blue, or even basic black or white. I don’t think Fed has ever worn a pattern of any sort, has he? Stripes even? Whereas sometimes Nike put Rafa in these bizarre patterns, like he’s wearing surfing trunks or some such (am thinking IW & Miami this year). At the last few slams, though, I’ve liked Rafa’s outfits – I think the neon accents suit him.


contador Says:

well i like a classic tennis look on federer, or the darth federer one. h- ell, even the pinky federer is better.

maybe his skin was too pale in the photo or my computer screen is off and the all navy will look less postal once he’s out there in it.

thanks for the link kimberly -


skeezerweezer Says:

Classic looks good on the Fed. Matches is Character. My fav is the Darth Fed look in 2007 USO though….

Anyone remember the Agassi look of jean shorts and wild colored spandex underneath? Ha! Now, Andre was far from “Classic”

It took years to match that until Serena came out with the “Catsuit”


jane Says:

Skeezer – OMG those are some brutal outfits you’re making me recall.

contador – “will look less postal once he’s out there in it.” LOL, less postal makes me think of that brown outfit they put Fed in which people compared to a UPS outfit, and now you’re bringing up postal.

Why don’t Nike quite beating around the bush and just put Fed in a a FedEx outfit already!! Then they can add marketing taglines like “Fed is ready to deliver again!!”


jane Says:

“quite” s/b “quit” and one too many “a”s there … need coffee…


Kimberly Says:

Venus’s illusion line actually got tons of attention. People thought she wasn’t wearing underwear.


pro rafa Says:

wow!!! Rafa looks deadly in blank black…
n true there r 2 master series left this year….perhaps it’ll depend on Rafa’s resolve to keep his record straight
n Rafa is not that behind in masters cup too!! he’s gonna catch up sooner than later… he’s simply outstanding though he lacks that pure enviable and absolutely noble artistry that roger is blessed with… it’s even stevens right now even though fed is ahead of Rafa in masters cup


pro rafa Says:

i meant Rafa looks deadly in black n black… not blank black


skeezerweezer Says:

No, Jane that was “Classic”, LMAO….Fed in a Fedex outfit..hahaha


tennislover Says:

MMT,

“My money’s on Nadal, regardless of who winds up in the final or who’s in his half of the draw.”

I won’t be SO sure about it. I think the draw and the kind of opponents he faces will have a bearing on how he fares at the US open -this is, I guess, true for all players- and could well ultimately make the difference. I do, however, think that Nadal still remains the slight favorite because nobody else has shown any degree of consistency recently. I wrote a post(http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2010-08-20/5015.php#comment-158874) a few days back on this subject on another thread and a lot of it pretty much agrees with what you and Grendel have to say regarding Nadal’s chances at the US open this year. I am inclined, however, to agree more with Grendel’s line of thinking- he has Murray and Nadal as joint favorites- as far as the probabilities are concerned and don’t see Nadal as some sort of a prohibitive favorite.


i am it Says:

Murray in Nadal’s half? Djoko in Fed’s? Did I hear right?


i am it Says:

Murray will play Berdych in the quarter, if they both get there.


i am it Says:

Nadal has easier quarter than Murray’s, with Ljubicic, Verdasco, and who else?
That’s all I heard, so fill in the blank, please if you are watching the draw live.


montecarlo Says:

Nadal got Ljubcic, Ferrer and Verdasco in his half. I think we can safely assume he will definitely make it to semis once again and will face the winner of murray/berdych there.


contador Says:

he did, i heard that. nadal safely escorted by compatriots and the bald bomber is rusty.

maybe this is the year he beats murray.


Von Says:

MMT: Where in blazes have you been????? It’s so nice to see you here again!

How have you been doing, and please, don’t stay away for so long again.

I agree, Nadal’s draw seems to be the easier of the top 4.

As ususal, Roddick ends up with the Joker and Fed. I think the three of them are joined at the hip. LOL.


van orten Says:

i suppose the bottom half is loaded then…the sod, A-rod, la pantera rusa, nalby djoko and fed??!!


Von Says:

contador: Since Ljub beat Nadal and Roddick at IW to win the trophy he’s been having difficulty landing back on earth.

I suppose Santoro finally gave up and won’t be playing this USO. I bet if Safin was around he’d be rejoicing.


Von Says:

van orten: who’s la pantera rusa??


montecarlo Says:

Gulbis and Nalbandian are in Nadal’s quarter too. So not too good for Rafa. :)


Von Says:

I think Fed would look better as the ‘Terminix man’. Terminating all the little termites. OUCH.


van orten Says:

interesting draw for nadal it seems …it’s davydenko


jane Says:

Von, “As ususal, Roddick ends up with the Joker and Fed. I think the three of them are joined at the hip. LOL.”

Yes, I think you’re correct.


jane Says:

Murray also seems to often end up with Rafa in the semis and then Fed in the finals (potentially, I mean), which makes the finals a tense affair for him.


NELTA Says:

montecarlo Says:
Gulbis and Nalbandian are in Nadal’s quarter too. So not too good for Rafa. :)
————————————–

Yeah, but they are all in the bottom half of that quarter so Nadal will only play one of the following in the quarters: Ferrer, Nalbandian, Gulbis or Verdasco.


NELTA Says:

Fed’s draw looks the same as last year. He will probably have to get through Hewitt and Soderling then might face Djokovic or Roddick in the semis.
I would say Nadal’s draw looks tougher than Fed’s in the 1st few rounds, but it looks good in the quarters for Rafa as he will only be facing one of the players I just mentioned in the previous post. Soda and Berdych are the 2 toughest quarterfinal matchups for Fed and he got Soda. Verdasco or Davy would be easier.


Von Says:

I’d like to see Nalby and Nadal play again. It’s been a long time since they’ve played each other — two years, if I’m not mistaken. They’re now both different players which would make for a very interesting and exciting match.

I’d like to see Dementieva win the USO. Somehow, I think Wozniacki will flame out as she’s played a lot of tennis leading up to the USO. She’s in the QFs at New Haven.


jane Says:

Fish and Baggy are both in Nole’s section. Gulp!

How do they determine qualifiers? Aren’t there so many per quarter? It doesn’t seem like there’s any logic to it: Nadal’s section has 4; Murray’s section has 1; Nole/Rod section has 4; Fed section (the other half of esp) has 7. Why wouldn’t they spread these quallies out so each quarter has 4? Seems to make more sense.


Von Says:

Jane: “Fish and Baggy are both in Nole’s section. Gulp!”

Are you saying that Fish just gulped down the Joker, and/or Baggy bagged him? LOOL


Von Says:

If I were a player I wouldn’t want to play a quali I’ve never played. Some of them can be very tricky.

At least one mad quali is out, Dani, the mad man, Kollerer.


NELTA Says:

Fish and Baggy will probably be playing each other in the 3rd round. Djoko would play the winner of that and then have to face his nemesis Roddick or maybe Davy.


contador Says:

that’s a tough draw for djoko!


jane Says:

NELTA, there are no easy paths for anyone this year, imo. They’ll all run into some stiff competition either right out of the gates or a little further on.


Kimberly Says:

Novak always gets the worst draw…

wimby he conceivably could have had Hewitt, Roddick, Federer, Nadal

Instead he got, hewitt lu berdy and that was the end of it.

I’m prob going to take him out in quarters to Andy.


grendel Says:

Straight ride for Nadal thru to the quarters – by then he’ll be singing, and the inconsistent Gulbis/Nalbandian not a problem. Essentially, straight ride to the semis. Worth doing, though, partly because you have to – you’re not allowed to just get a bye to the quarters even though, frankly, you might as well – and also he’ll build up some nice momentum. By the time he meets Murray, he’s gonna look unbeatable.

Federer has Hewitt, potentially difficult, and extremely difficult quarter in Soderling.

Murray has Querry who beat him not long ago, and then Berdych for quarters. Berdych real danger, and if he beats Murray, then it’s straight ride through to the final for Nadal, since neither the old nor the new Berdych can beat a battle ready Nadal.

Djokovic has Baghdatis or Fish, and then for the quarters, Roddick or Davydenko. A tough ride for all of those.

So, Nadal a certainty for the semis – and furthermore, a well rested Nadal. If he doesn’t win this year, when will he? The gods are with him.


Kimberly Says:

haven’t even looked at the WTA draw, and now that I think about it. I doubt I’ll even bother. It has just gotten pitifully boring. Needed Serena to threaten a line judge for some excitement.


NELTA Says:

Agree with your assessment Grendel. There are a few spoilers, but they are on the bottom half of Rafa’s quarter so they can beat each other up and maybe upset Verdasco. Only 1 will make it through to face Nadal in the quarters. Actually, if Istomin’s ankle is ok he might be able to take the 1st set if Nadal starts off shaky. Djoko’s draw is the toughest. Fed and Murray have medium difficult draws.


van orten Says:

fed beats the sod he is through to the final


Von Says:

It seems as though Baghdatis is running out of steam. If he doesn’t lose in the QFs and get some rest, he’ll be toast for the USO. chela pushed him yesterday to three sets, and that, to me, seems that baggy is tired.


jane Says:

NELTA, I was thinking that about Istomin. And Nalby or Gulbis, if either make it there, could be difficult QF opponents.

Sure wish Nole’s draw was a little better; maybe it’ll open up (crossing fingers)? He has so many points to defend between now and the WTF plus he’s in the Davis Cup semis; it’s going to be a tough fall season.

Murray’s got some potential spoilers in his draw.

Basically, the current top 4 players all have potentially difficult Quarter Final rounds, imo.


Kimberly Says:

http://www.tourneytopia.com/RacquetBracketUsOpenATP/kimberli25/Pre-Register.aspx

i think this is the link to my tennis-x fans group for raquet bracket of which i am trying to form.


mat4 Says:

I have just seen the draw. Sometimes I have the impression that there is little randomness in it. Djoko against Roddick in the 1/4, and Fed in the semi? It is a joke, isn’t it? I just hope he will not play against ARod at noon.

If Nole doesn’t win it all, my prediction: ARod against AM in the final.


margot Says:

jane: Hmm Djko’s got a nasty draw, hasn’t he? Don’t particulary like Andy’s either. I see Fed avoids Big Bird this time and gets Soderling, that looks tricky… not.
Agree with grendel, a happy rested well oiled Rafa skips to the semis and meets a knackered Andy M/Berdych/? and a happy rested well oiled Fed skips to the semis and meets a knackered Djko/Andy R./?


super man Says:

i would say balanced draw. nadal has a tougher draw than people are making it out here. it has been a crazy tennis year and except nadal on clay, nothing has gone with form.

the winner should be from fed, rafa or murray. fed doesn’t want nada in the final , murray doesn’t want fed in the final , nadal doesn’t want murray in the semis.

as for the outfits, i have found nadal’s outfits loud and gaudy over the years. they seemed to be aimed mostly at teenage girls and $ex starved middle-aged women. if my girlfriend likes those outfits, i would seriously think about my – ahem – performance levels ….. lol!

yes, i like the kings stylish / classic outfits better.

go super man aka roger federer! get the 17!


super man Says:

come on margot! murray has the easiest 1/8th. really, berdych is his 1st dangerous opponent. he will have to do a delpotro and go through roger and rafa, most likely …. he better step up :)


Colin Says:

In the first qualifying round, Laura Robson beat Jelena Docic 6-1, 6-4. Nice from a British viewpoint, but I’m sorry for Docic. I wonder what she might have achieved with a stable family background and a normal father.
Jane – I had no idea at first what the cat reference meant, as I assumed it related to tennis, but now I remember the news item. I used to have a couple of cats, but they’ve long since gone to the great litter tray in the sky. As for cats destroying wildlife, Margot, you ought not to dislike them for it. It’s just their natural instincts, which is more than you can say for the humans who want to shoot anything that moves.
On the subject of Nadal’s fitness, if he seems in good shape, don’t forget he’s taken a lot of time off this year. Even if he’s winning matches at the USO, that will be no guarantee he’ll get through the whole tournament. He has to manage those knees. Right at the start of the year he did the unthinkable (for him) and retired in a slam match. He could break down any time.


andrea Says:

i agree colin…rafa’s form has been precipitous, for his standards, this US hard court season, and a few pounding matches on his body could be a killer. if he and murray make it to the semis, i don’t see nadal getting past murray…murray seems to have his number on hard courts.

you know nadal’s not happy to see murray in his half!

and the other andy has his buddy fed in his half of a GS draw again. must be loving that…not.


Dorothy Leigh Says:

How dare Super Man say that my love of Raffie is because of his outfits. Come on dude! I might be middle aged, but Im not $ex $tarved. He would look good in a paper $ACK!


margot Says:

superman: perfui 2 u! Rog has easiest draw, followed by Rafa, followed by Andy, followed by Djko
Colin: cats massacre garden birds on a scale human predators would envy.


Von Says:

I find it strange that there is always concern for the top 4 as to how their draws come out. What about the other guys who are on the opposite side of the top 4 player’s draw. For instance, Roddick/Djoko Quarter, we hear Djoko has a tough draw, but isn’t Roddick’s draw tough also? He has to travel the same path from the QF’s through the Final, plus he meets the higher ranked player en route to the QF. Same goes for the other guys, Soderling, Davydenko, Verdasco, et al.

I don’t know, but it’s somewhat a bit one-sided, and it’s as though the other guys don’t count.


Von Says:

Kimberly, are you for real? You say Djokovic always has the toughest draws, when? He’s had the easiest draws for most of this year.


sar Says:

I wonder what she might have achieved with a stable family background and a normal father.

Colin, I guess it would depend. Pierce, Agassi had agressive fathers. I think Pierce’s father used to scream out, Mary, kill the b*tch and we all heard about Mike Agassi.

I see Djok got a repeat draw from Cincy. Troicki up first, Roddick, Fed.


super man Says:

hewitt in 3rd round is easy? you are becoming paranoid like jane. lol

andy easiest followed by roger/rafa and djoko. there is no such thing as a easy draw for djoko these days.


skeezerweezer Says:

@superman @ 2:55 POST

That was too funny and sooo true lol…


grendel Says:

why do people always go on about Nadal’s fitness? “He could break down at any time”. Anyone could break down at any time. It rather depends on what happens to them, doesn’t it? For some time, the Nadal camp has been insisting on their man’s good health – why disbelieve them, given that they haven’t been slow to raise the alarm when the situation warranted.

Nadal played a series of matches on demanding hard courts over the last two weeks – harder, if shorter, than he’ll get in the slam, since you always have tougher opponents in the Masters than in the slams – and everything, so far as I understand it, is tinkerty tonk. The sun is shining and the roses are smelling good.

Furthermore, a nice little series of matches for Rafa – especially Istomin. He is an excellent player who, as has been said, may well take a set of Nadal. That’s dandy – he doesn’t want it too easy, he wants a little bit of testing, naturally. I beg to differ about his quarters. Gulbis – again, a bit of nice pushing, some tricky serves to help Rafa get his eye in, get his sense of rhythm going, but, when all is said and done, nothing to get too worried about. Curly Earnie is very talented, but he’s not serious. Nalbandian – in theory, he could be a real obstacle. History suggests, however, that Nalby’s shot his bolt – he’s had his hot spell, another one not due for 15 months or so and even if he gets by the unpredictable Gulbis, he won’t be up for a tough 5 setter with Rafa. Then the possibility of Verdasco – come on, we all know where Verdasco’s at these days. Of course, he’s going to wake up again at some stage, one assumes, and in theory it could be next week. In theory.

Don’t deny that Fed has it almost as easy – tho’ definitely a harder quarter (Sod). But the old chap needs a few buns to be tossed to him – Rafa’s at the height of his powers. He doesn’t need buns. Strange how he gets them.


super man Says:

ernie needs just 3sets to beat rafa, not 5.


jane Says:

Hey super man “you are becoming paranoid like jane. lol” – LOL yourself; just don’t tie me up and make me watch “Isner/Mahut” on repeat!


David Says:

It would be crazy to pick against Fed. He’s playing well again and it’s almost unfathomable that he’ll go three straight Slams without reaching a final.

Fed beats Murray again in the final, although this time in 5 sets. Oh the pain for British tennis fans.


Kimberly Says:

Novak always gets Roddick in the quarters and fed in the semis.


David Says:

Just as important as the draw is the schedule. I want Rafa to get a Monday start and I want Fed playing on Wednesday.

Something tells me it will be the other way around – again.


super man Says:

lol jane. you are a nice lady. i don’t think even lex luthor could do that to you, let alone super man. :)

good luck to djoko. i would hate to see him become another safin. so much talent ….. sad to see. he has a bucket load of points to defend after newyork.


digna Says:

I hope he win. He has phisycal conditions and enough training to win . the only thing he needs to do is to foccus on the game and he will achieve it. he can do it.


super man Says:

didn’t rafa play the 1st semi-final last year? leave it to rafa fans to obsess about scheduling, chair umpire , line judges ball girls and what not.

i guess they would really have every tournament in mallorca with all those zillion uncles of rafa officiating. oh, all matches on clay too.

skeezer weezer :

glad you liked the 255 post. :)


stu Says:

Chardy and Gulbis collide in R1?

:(


super man Says:

” Did Roger Federer win Cincinnati, or did he stop by an Ohio yard sale to get that trophy? ”

- david rosenberg on tennis.com

f!@king hilarious


stu Says:

Bodo says Novak was supposed to be the player rep. for the USO draw but got lost on the NY highway. Maybe he came to the sudden realization that it was rigged.

http://tennisworld.typepad.com/tennisworld/index.html


David Says:

super man

All I’m asking for is the Monday start. Not too much to ask for the No. 1 seed considering he had the Wednesday start last year. I don’t care about the U.S. Open ball men. They can give Rafa whatever ball men they want.


Kimmi Says:

mmmm..the drw is intersting. One match at a time for my faves. GO MUZZA, go Federer.

Lol for djoko and roddick. 3 consecutive grand slams in the same qtr. Even with that draw they failed to meet each other in the past 2 slams. Can they meet in the USO? Interesting!!


B Says:

Whoever said Rafa has an easy draw to the semi’s is smoking some Mallorcan Hash if something like that exists. For a man thats made 1/14 hard court slam finals he’s had an opportunity to play in, I think he needs to think about his second round match up to start with. Kohklshriber or Simon could take him out on a good day. And my money is on Nalbandian to make it to that quarter final match. Nalby is like 8/10 against top 20 opponents, and 2/2 against top tenners recently losing only to Murray and Djokovic. If he’s playing well regardless of what Rafa does I’d give him Nalby the edge there! And unless Murray gets upset like in Oz the year Rafa won it, that will surely be his last stand. He’s lost 5 straight sets against Murray on a hard court, if he makes it to the semi’s its going to be 8 straight. Rafa’s chances in this Open are less than djokovic’s in my opinion, that’s after looking at the Jokers draw.


Anna Says:

Superman – Let’s not get carried away. I just spent 30 minutes reading comments and your the only one who’s mentioned chair umpire, line judges, ball girls, etc. Whoever starts out on Monday will have an advantage. Should be Rafa this year considering the ranking, although there have been a few times where he’s opted out of the opportunity. By the way, Rafa’s won 8 slams, and none of them were in Majorca and only 5 were on clay. I don’t think Rafa requires any sort of handicap at all.


Skeezerweezer Says:

Anna,

You just gave the man of steel a once over without even the use of kryptonite :) Shammmmonnnn!

SM?


super man Says:

anna,

it is either scheduling, draw , injury, weather or some nonsense with rafa fans. just too whiny. just play and let tennis happen. if you lose shut up and get lost , if you win, enjoy.

so rafa wins 8 slams and fans have the right to be cry babies ?


David Says:

I’m a Rafa fan and I don’t complain about weather, injury, ballkids. I don’t bring up ridiculous arguments about h2h records against Fed, who I consider the clear GOAT. I don’t make excuses about his losses and I don’t even think he’s a top 5 player at the U.S. Open. If he loses, he loses.

The ONLY thing I want for this tournament – and which I think is fair since he’s the world No. 1 and started on Wednesday last year and the majority of the time seems to get the late start -is for him to get the Monday start this time.


guy Says:

murray hasn’t beaten fed in a slam match, in fact hasn’t even put up much of a fight, and he’s on the losing side of a 5set H2H with rafa, so although his 3set record is impressive against both, he can’t go into any of those matches as a fav.
it’s been ‘his time’ for quite a while now, and remember when it was djoker’s time? what happened there.


guy Says:

basically murray and djoker have failed to really step up against fed/nadal domination. maybe murray will break through, but i’m not convinced yet.


David Says:

guy

I think Murray would be the favorite against Nadal if they play at the U.S. Open. He beat him there the only time they ever played at that tournament. He beat him on hard convincingly in Australia, beat him consistently in Cincy.

He’s just a better hard-court player than Nadal.


David Says:

Er, sorry, I meant Toronto.


Anna Says:

Superman – Just read the posts dude!!! Your the only cry baby on here. No one else is slamming players or player fans. Just let it go.


Mindy Says:

I must say that I find comments referencing “sex starved middle-aged women”, to be not only highly offensive, but not in any way pertinent to a discussion of the respective draws of the top players. To put the shoe on the other foot, how would middle-aged men feel about any of the women on this site describing them in that manner? It’s completely inappropriate, even if it is in jest.

Also, anyone here who presumes to act as the moderator and tells Rafa fans to “shut up and get lost”, has overstepped. If people on this site wonder at times where all the Rafa fans are, one only has to read such comments to get the answer.

I thought we were done with this kind of abusive behavior on this site. If this forum wants Rafa fans to feel welcome to share their thoughts and provide another point of view, then these comments have no place here.


J. Dyson Says:

Rafa did not play that well in Toronto or Cincy. Based upon these most recent results, I’d say he will not win the U.S. Open but will be beaten in or prior to the quarters. Hate to say it since he is my favorite player to watch. All business and not a chest beating hot dog.

J. D.


Skeezerweezer Says:

Ike,

Interesting stuff from the tainted great one. There are many reasons not to agree with his opinions, but his honesty about himself now I respect.


Anna Says:

I agree Skeeze. Andre must have known that he would come under fire for opening that little Pandora’s box, but he did it anyway. The message is a good one I think. For anyone who’s lived a bit of life it’s not so hard to understand. I also agree with his assessment of Rafa and Roger.
There is much to take into account when all is said and done.


Lola Says:

Why does anyone think that Murray has a remote chance of beating Rafa? Well, Rafa took the US Open and all the predictions by all the experts were a load of hot air …

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