‘Rafa Slam’ Dunked by Ferrer; Clijsters v Zvonareva at Australian Open
by Staff | January 26th, 2011, 10:14 am
  • 90 Comments

The run for the “Rafa Slam” ended on Wednesday in Melbourne when an injured world No. 1 Rafael Nadal lost in straight sets to Spanish compatriot and friend David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 in the Australian Open quarterfinals.


In the semis Ferrer will meet Andy Murray, who beat Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-5, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3.

“I played very consistently all the three sets, I was focused just in my game,” said Ferrer, who remains a perfect 9-0 in 2011. “I’m very happy with my game. I’m very confident. So I want to enjoy this moment.

“I will try to do my best [against Murray], but I need to play very consistently, [stay] very focused all the match, because Andy’s a top player.”

Nadal said it will be a tough road for his Davis Cup teammate.

“[David] is playing fantastic. But I think he’s not the favorite. But if he keep playing like this, hopefully he can have a good chance to be in the final or win the tournament. [He] is a fantastic person [and] a close friend of mine. So I wish him all the best.”

In the first set Nadal called for the trainer and left the court for five minutes, returning with strapping applied to his left thigh, and wincing when shifting his weight to the leg.

“For respect to the winner and to a friend, I prefer to talk about the match,” Nadal told reporters after the match. “I think he played at a very high level. I just congratulate him and wish him all the best for the semifinal…It is obvious that I didn’t feel at my best. I had a problem during the match, the very beginning. After that, the match was almost over. Today, I really [couldn't] do more than what I did. He played at a very high level, and I wasn’t able to compete against him tonight.”

Nadal was trying to become the first player to win four straight Slams since Rod Laver in 1969.

Murray looked ready for a straight-set run until the fighting Dolgopolov would not go away in the third-set tiebreak.

“I thought I dealt with his game well,” Murray said. “It was just difficult to get into a rhythm. Did quite a lot of running. He won a lot of free points off his first serve. It was a tough match. I thought I dealt with it pretty well. With his game style, he’s going to give a lot of guys problems.”

Murray won the first 14 points of the fourth set to take a 4-0 lead and command of the match.

“It was a really good match,” Dolgopolov said. “Andy played really well. I was trying to keep up. He was just more solid for me today…I still need to practice and get better to beat these kind of players more.”

In women’s action Wednesday, both Vera Zvonareva and Kim Clijsters fought off tough challenges to move into the semifinals.

The world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva defeated Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-4. In the second set Kvitova stormed back from 0-3 to 4-3 before Zvonareva quelled the uprising.

“At 6-2, 3-0 I was trying to keep playing the same way I was playing, but she really lifted her game,” Zvonareva said. “She’s a very good player. She took that opportunity, that little chance I gave her, and used it to get back into the match. I’m happy with the way I handled the situation during those moments though.”

It is the third straight Slam final for Zvonareva.

Clijsters recorded a 6-3, 7-6(4) win over No. 12 seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

“I felt a little bit tired and heavy out there today, but I fought well and stayed really focused, and tried not to lose too much energy on getting frustrated and things like that,” Clijsters said. “Everything has to be better. The serving, the returning, the unforced errors… everything. But I’m in the semifinals and I don’t feel I’ve played my best tennis, so that’s a good thing.”

Radwanska was playing her first tournament in three months after injury.

Thursday in Melbourne will feature the women’s semifinals in (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. (9) Na Li, and (3) Kim Clijsters vs. (2) Vera Zvonareva, and a men’s semifinal in (3) Novak Djokovic vs. (2) Roger Federer.

TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Aussie immigration officials turned down Russian-born Arina Rodionova’s bid to become an Australian citizen after approving the citizenship of her sister Anastasia Rodionova. They are the only sister pair at this year’s Aussie Open. That’s pretty picky considering the weak state of Aussie tennis, you guys should be building a Statue of Liberty with a tennis racquet in her hand that says “Tennis immigrants, come on in!”..So Caroline Wozniacki learned a lesson about not making up stories of getting attacked by kangaroos to the Australian media?…The new shots on the web of Caroline Wozniacki sunbathing topless — As Borat would say, ‘Thatsa nize!’…Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli will be out for six weeks after tearing a calf muscle during her second-round match in Melbourne…French player Aravane Rezai has pulled out of the Fed Cup match against Russia and the WTA Open GDF Suez tournament after media reports surfaced that the WTA had banned an undisclosed member of her family from attending tournaments over a “safety issue.”…Canadian Milos Raonic has received a wildcard into San Jose?…Australian Open upgrade plans include 21 extra courts, a facelift for the main Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena, a raised public plaza and a new entrance to the venue in Melbourne at a tag of approximately $361 million(U.S.)…Francesca Schiavone will return to Australia in two weeks, selected Tuesday to lead Italy’s team against Australia in the first round of the Fed Cup on Feb. 5-6. Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci have won the past two Fed Cups for Italy. Australia will be a formidable first-round opponent with Samantha Stosur, Jarmila Groth, Anastasia Rodionova and Rennae Stubbs named to its team…From the Daily Mail: “Time was when John McEnroe used to refer to the Australian Open as a ‘crap shoot’, because he felt its early date in the season made it too hard for the best players to get properly into form and show their best.” — We’re sure it was more of a crap shoot back then, especially for John and his ‘rigorous’ off-season training of booze, drugs and horse tranquilizers (reportedly), as detailed in tell-alls over the years. If he trained back then like he does now for the senior tour, his name would be up there with the all-time greats, probably THE all-time great. And remove the Tatum factor…Also from the Daily Mail: “Despite the absence of Serena Williams, and the early demise of her sister Venus and Justine Henin in this tournament, there is rather more intrigue in women’s tennis this year.” — Uhhhhh, could there be LESS intrigue than last year, when everyone was injured?…Na Li beat Caroline Wozniacki in both their meetings last year…Caroline Wozniacki got a little chaffed when a journalist asked her why the world No. 1 was letting a player like Francesca Schiavone push her around the court and dictate play, accusing her of not being aggressive enough: “I just want to know who won the match. I think I did that, so I think there is no question I’m playing to win. If the opponent makes a hundred winners, it’s too good. But if I still win the match, that’s the most important thing in the end.”…No word from Francesca Schiavone on what she thinks of MTV’s Jersey Shore filming it’s upcoming season in Italy. A representative from UNICO, the Italian-American interest group that has called for a boycott of the show, said of the group of skanks and meatheads headed for the old country: “People used to go to the circus to see the freak show — that is what this will be. It will not only hurt Italians but all Americans…their outrageous, reprehensible behavior will make us look like buffoons and bimbos.” — Nah, they will take a care of that…Can we get Mary Carillo’s objective no-nonsense voice back in the ESPN booth please? Better than Chris Fowler blathering on and on and on and on about tennis issues, trying to establish some traction as a tennis expert?…Best Headline of the Day from KBXT TV: “Krajicek faces Venus in ATP Challenger Tournament in Hawaii” — that’s U.S. collegiate Austin Krajicek vs. New Zealand’s Michael Venus.


Also Check Out:
Fragile No. 1 Wozniacki Loses; Clijsters v Li in Australian Open Final
2011 Australian Open Tennis Odds: Federer-Nadal, Clijsters the Betting Favorites
Pironkova Stuns Venus, Clijsters Also Upset in Wimbledon QFs; Serena in Charge
Clijsters Wins US Open: What Does It Mean?
Hot Wozniacki Nears First Slam Title; Venus v. Clijsters Today at US Open

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90 Comments for ‘Rafa Slam’ Dunked by Ferrer; Clijsters v Zvonareva at Australian Open

jane Says:

Congrats to Ferrer! Murray must be grinning ear to ear. Though Ferrer has thr better H2H due to clay wins, Murray has always beaten Ferrer on hard courts, quite straight forwadly as well. Wow.


killerc Says:

I’m a Nadal fan but why is it whenever he losses, he has a injury to go along with it!?
This one might be legit tho, pulling a Hammy in the quarterfinal of a slam.. he has a lot of points to keep up on.. he should rest up.. Murray, Is going HELL YEAHH.. FINALS AGAIN!!
When Murray runs into federer again, he’s gotta play more aggressive tho!


andrea Says:

surprise result. congrats to ferrer. he looks like he has lost a bit of weight and, if humanly possible, is a bit fitter. it is a shame that nadal goes down with another injury. cue the endless discussion on whether or not he will have a long career.

murray had been playing well so far but after seeing him against dogo, where he was really tested for the first time, his game tightened up a bit and the errors crept in.


Nims Says:

Looking at Ferrer’s game, I do not undestand what is his strength is. How can he finish a point when the other guy can keep up with him. He neither has a killer FH or a BH, serve is pretty average. He hardly can hold his serve. What does he have to threaten the top guys?


sheila Says:

out of remaining for men, i’d say djokovic is the fvt 2win this. he took it to berdych. federer played well against wawrinka, but i dont think wawrinka was ever in the match mentally. djokovic’s match against berdych was unbelievable. his returns, his serve, his movement. probably odds makers r calling federer the fvt after nadals exit, but i think djokovic is playing at a much higher level. on that note, is so hope federer raises his level of play & can somehow pull this off. it would be a gr8 way to start the new year. cheers to dolgopolov. this kid has an incredible game if he was just more consistent & wasnt so casual on some big points. hoping hoping hoping roger can pull this out


jane Says:

I didn’t see the Djok/Berd match sheila, but your comments make me pleased. However, just a gut feeling that the final will be a repeat of last year, only with a new winner. Andrea makes a fair point though; first test for Murray was the Dolgo match; he was sailing until then. And he didn’t tighten up and get passive at times. If it is a Fed/Murray final Murray will have to play aggressively all the way through. But I think he can do it and win his first slam.

Not sure Djok can beat Fed here as I have the last 3 matches they played in mind: Shanghai, Basel and WTF, all of which Fed won. I’d say Fed is by far the favorite to win their match.

Also, just remembered re: Ferrer; he was in the finals versus Nole at Bejing, and before that he BARELY lost to Nando at the USO, or he would’ve been in the QFs there too, so his come back to form has been going on for a while. I did pick him to reach the quarters but didn’t forsee him through to the semis. A really nice way for him to begin the year.


jane Says:

i meant *did* tighten up…


scineram Says:

“The new shots on the web of Caroline Wozniacki sunbathing topless — As Borat would say, ‘Thatsa nize!’…”

Links or don’t exist.


margot Says:

Come on Team! Thursday we cheer for Nolandy,
Friday for Andole!
So light those fires, burn those sacrifices and appease those those tennis gods! We will overcome!
Adje Nole!
Come on Andy!


Fot Says:

I’m watching the Nadal/Ferrer match on replay. (I’m still in the first set) but even with Nadal’s ‘injury’, he was still moving and hitting shots. I give Ferrer a lot of credit for playing a great match.

I just hate to read (seems like every time) Nadal loses, it’s because “he’s hurt”, “he’s sick”, “he’s sad because of personal reasons”, etc., etc. Why can’t he lose because he just got out played? Every time he wins, he’s 100%. Every time he loses, – there is an excuse.


stu Says:

I worry that Djok hasn’t had a “off” day yet at the AO, and I hope he doesn’t pick the semi to drop his form. I know people say he played badly against Dodig, but that was a long time ago already and he’s been PERFECT since then.

If Djoker beats Roger, I said Muzza wins it all. If Roger gets within touching distance of the trophy tho, I don’t think Andy can beat him to win it.


Kimberly Says:

Ok I’ve regrouped, dealt with my diappointment and on we go.

My thoughts on tonights match. Could go two ways:
1. Fed completely outclasses Novak
2. Fed gets frustrated with the amount and quality of djokovic shots and begins spraying forehands and backhand shanks. The match can still go either way but Djoko should win.

Here is the order I would like to see win
1. Ferrer (no chance but would be sweet)
2. Federer (for a variety of reasons)
3. Djokovic
4. Murray

Here is my gut on liklihood
1. Murray
2. Fed
3. Djoko
4. Ferrer

If Murray doesn’t have to play Nadal or Federer and loses in the final to Djoko I think he will enter a serious depression though. That wouldn’t be nice either.

A ferrer djoko final with ferrer winning would make me happy.


stu Says:

Kimberly, I completely agree with your gut. But I hope Nole surprises and proves me wrong like he has quite a few times in the past!

If Murray doesn’t have to play Nadal or Federer and BEATS Djoko, I don’t think victory will be as sweet…


margot Says:

stu, a slam is a slam is a slam…..but… one match at a time.


Skeezerweezer Says:

Margot

Cute post at 1:07 :)


margot Says:

skeeze :thanx :) You can be honorary member of team, we’ll keep your place warm for you for when Fed retires ;) …next year isn’t it ….?


van orten Says:

god cahill and mcenroe almost cried after nadal lost…is there anyone at espn not pro nadal???
by the way if you re sick of it , learn spanish and watch espn latin america …


dAri Says:

I’m ready for ruthless, shark attack fed. Novak is playing tennis like a super star, with no mental hangups and no physical weaknesses. Roger Federer will need to be extremely focused and relentless on the mental side. On the physical, nole is covering the baseline as well as anybody, so fed is gonna need to keep his net play tight and outsmart nole because nole’s physical is impeccable right now. Needless to say, roger will have to do his best to match that, he is moving great so far.
There’s no time for getting frustrated if nole is playing great, this is the semis gosh damnit, people who play great get there! Roger admitted that during the uso semi he was looking ahead to the final and that didn’t help him. He will mot make the same mistake again.
I am ready for roger to play his best, win this match, amd get the chance to defend his title.
KILL EM DEAD, FED.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Tennis has followed to form, more or less, for five years. However great the challengers are playing, I still think the guy who has won sixteen times as many slams as Murran Nole combined has the best shot. Of course, someone other than Fed or Nadal will win eventually, but until it happens, I’d not pick Murray and Nole in this situation.


jane Says:

“Adje Nole!
Come on Andy!”

Ditto! Echoes to the gods.


RodLaver2393 Says:

Nadal is a great player, no doubt. But I have to doubt his respect for tennis rules…there was so much coaching going on with uncle tony throughout the match with Ferrer – thats illegal. And its not the first time this has happened. Then his tactics of making fellow players wait in the locker room before the match at the beginning of the match, taking more than 25 sec between the points – it all clouds his sportsmanship. With the unbelievable skill and hardwork I wonder why he has to rely on such pity tactics. He would be seen a much greater player without them….


Naderer Says:

For the past million years the winner of a grand slam was either Naderer or someone that played Naderer. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. So wot im saying is that if Djoko wins against Fed, then the cup is his, Murray would not stand a chance against him. If however Fed makes it to the final and plays Murray, then i hav 3 letters for u. WTF


Naderer Says:

Did you see what happened at the 2010 WTF?


Naderer Says:

Only The Joker can stop the Fedexpress but in their recent matches he hasn’t risen to the occasion. Do you think Federer is happy that Nadal is out? Ofcourse he is because i believe he’s still looking to hold the number one spot for 2 more weeks and if you do the maths, you’ll gather that…….. Got tired of witing but yeah, Fedexpress is happy, perhaps not neccessarily because he fears Nadal, but because meeting Nadal in the Finals, even if Fed wins would hav extended Nadals lead beyond reach even for the great Fed


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Good point Naderer- I doubt Fed is thinking of points now, but after this tournament he’ll probably feel an immense boost that Nadal didn’t up his lead by 1500 more points! Then he can relax knowing Nadal is the one with everything to defend for the rest of the year.


andrea Says:

it’s a good thing the fed/novak match is the first of the semis. get the feeling that this will be a blockbuster…so whoever prevails, it will be coming out of a grinder match….need more time to recover.

Novak is looking the best of the bunch i have to say….even over Federer. but still hoping for roger to make it thru.

don’t know how i feel about a fed/murray final…primarily due to if andy loses, how will his psyche overcome that…

feel bummed for nadal. despite him saying he wasn’t thinking about the ‘slam’, you know it was there in his mind. doubtful that he will be able to pull off the same feat this year.


Fot Says:

Andrea, I agree…Novak is looking the best of all of them so I am concerned (as a Federer fan). I hope Roger comes out firing and keeps his concentration.


Cindy_Brady Says:

I asked in another thread, if anyone thought Ferrer had a chance against Nadal.

Not a single reply.

It will be Murray and Djokovic in the finals.

Sorry Fed fans, Djokovic isn’t going to lose tonight despite what you post here. He is playing better than Fed. Serving better and hitting bigger. He’s moving incredibly well. Has shown no signs of fatigue and is confident.

Fed is going down, maybe in straight sets.


Fot Says:

Well Cindy_Brady, I just hope you are incorrect in your ‘vision’ of what’s going to happen tonight. lol! Go Roger!


steve-o Says:

Didn’t think Nadal was injured–his movement seemed to be unhindered. He just didn’t have the power and spin on his shots he usually does in the Grand Slams.

Whatever it was, I don’t think it was injury. He withdrew last year, claiming a very minor injury he sustained only after going down two sets to love and a break down in the third. His rationale was that he didn’t even want to risk the possibility of aggravating his injuries.

After that, you expect me to believe that he went on court this time knowing he had a moderately severe injury, and then played through the whole match? Why would do that and risk even more serious damage when he was so cautious last year? It makes no sense whatsoever.

It’s sad for him that he lost, but what can you say? If it was the illness he had in Doha, he chose to play through that illness, so he has to accept the consequences.

People suggest he’ll learn his lesson and slow down, but I doubt it. He’s had so many chances to learn, and he hasn’t. He’s determined to chase down Federer’s Grand Slam records, even if he can’t admit it even to himself, and he treats his body like a kid joyriding in a borrowed car in the process.

That is the nature of the player he is. He ain’t going to change his spots.


Skeezerweezer Says:

Fed now has to face Novak, then a Murray? Very tall order for the maestro as both Novak and Murray are playing hot hot hot.

However, Fed has been making his typical GS title run when he wins a title, tough matches in the beginning then better every match. The train is coming. It’s all so very mental at this point. Fed has had his old mojo up to this point. You can see the trophy from the semi’s, it’s oh so close. It’s time for Fed to step up and use his experience, and employ that aggressive game he developed during the fall and early start of winter. If not, Novak or Murray will shark bite him.


dAri Says:

Steve-o, I have read some thoughtful and fact-based posts from you in the past, but it appears that you neither saw the match or read Rafa’s press conference.
Rafa was not going after balls he normally would consistently, and was arriving a touch later than he normallt does to set up a shot. did you see his face after the 2nd game and mto? Besides, it was waayyyyy too early in the mqtch, game #2, for him to be calculating a ploy as a means to derail his opponent or momentum. Even that marathon game would not be enough to get a healthy nadal down. You must not have ever seen him in good condition to call last night “unhindered”. I will agree if you watched “spots” of the match, nadal would look like he was back to nor!/, but overall it is unmistakably an injury!
And Rafa says he did not have the injury before the match, so what the H?
What could possibly have in mind for what was the “real” problem with nadal.
Ferrer must get a lot of credit because nadal could have beaten many players even in that form. Ferrer was painting lines and retrieving balls with interest, as well as some great volley finishes to exploit nadal’s lack of movement. I gave ferrer a chance before the match, and even though Rafa was not at his best, he came through on that chance!


Cindy_Brady Says:

steve-o,

Nadal was injured. He continued to play for the sake of the people who paid good money to see him, his country man David Ferrer, and most of all the sport of tennis.

I don’t believe we watched the same match. You’ve completely got this wrong.

David Ferrer is an excellent player, capable of beating anyone on any given day, but a healthy Rafa has much greater weight of shot and even greater court coverage, including a bigger serve.

No, I think he knew he was going to lose but played on because it was the right thing to do for tennis. Defaulting for a second year in a row just wasn’t an option unless there was no other choice. Actually, I give Nadal credit for finishing the match and not quitting.

He sure isn’t a Justine Henin.


grendel Says:

margot – yes, I saw about the English boy Morgan. Murray was a great junior, of course, but generally, there seems to be no seamless path from junior to senior tennis. So I note what’s going on and draw no conclusions, harbour no hopes.
You might be interested in this, from Frew Macmillan, right at the beginning of the 3rd set (in response to Murray having had only 7 outright winners in 2nd set):”Yes, I’d like to see Murray go for his backhand a little bit more, particularly his backhand down the line. I know it is going to Dolgopolov’s strength, but you can’t deny yourself your own”. Pretty pointed last sentence, don’t you think? In an interview with Annabelle Croft of Eurosport, Murray acknowledged what a difficult and talented player Dolgo is. w.r.t. Dolgo’s inconsistency,his wild swings from the terrific to the abysmal, Dolgo made a rational defence in his presser:

“just hitting with him on the baseline was just suicidal to lose three easy sets. I had to go for the balls and I think I was playing the right tactic.When I get better in the physics and I play better, I’ll get more of those balls and maybe there will be a tighter match.”

In same Murray interview he says about tonite’s match:”Federer probably has the slight edge, but I’m going to take Novak to cause an upset”.

In the Nadal/Ferrer match, there was an occasion towards the end of the first set when Nadal thrashed the ball to the corner 3 times, Ferrer getting it back of course on each occasion – but the 4th was too much for him. The camera panned in on Nadal marching back to serve and giving a quick raise of the eyebrows. This was a curiously endearing action, and also I felt unusual; Nadal doesn’t generally allow himself this kind of quirky behaviour in the middle of a match – in short, had he already accepted that this was not to be his day?

Steve-o says:”After that, you expect me to believe that he went on court this time knowing he had a moderately severe injury, and then played through the whole match? Why would do that and risk even more serious damage when he was so cautious last year? It makes no sense whatsoever.”

Surely Nadal contracted the injury in the match? I gather it was a hamstring – I don’t know about these things, but last year it was the knee, which needed protecting, whereas perhaps it doesn’t matter with a slight hamstring strain. In any case, there is the matter of pride. I agree very much with Daniel who on several occasions on the other thread opined that Nadal would see this match through, he did not want to withdraw twice running from same slam. This may not be very rational, but it is very human, and we can surely salute it as such. I think also, steve-o, that there is a quandary for Nadal – perhaps irresolvable. To get the best out of himself, he has to resort to a punishing style of play. It’s an extremely difficult dilemma, but by and large, he and his team seem to have handled it pretty well. If he fails to win the next 2 slams, maybe some rethinking will be in order.


Max Dwight Says:

Cahill, during the Tomic match, said something interesting:

They(Roger, Andy and Novak..) should take a note of how Nadal is handling a topic match.

Nadal was sweating badly, and he liked to relate it to a mysterious virus. But the real problem was fear. There was no virus or sweating in Cilic match, and then the sweat came back last night with Ferrer, the only Spanish player who does not fear Nadal.
Nadal has abused his body to win matches, to reach his goals. Now, is it good or bad? It’s none of my or your business to say. It’s completely his choice. But if his body fails him, there is no sympathy, no sadness, like Patrick Mc suggested numerous times last night.


Flow Lesserd Says:

I just re-watched the match and it wasn’t clear to me what the injury was. He seemed to be moving well when he had to (quit on a few points though) and his service speed looked pretty good (though it wasn’t very effective). He did pull off a few amazing shots (not enough obviously) so I am a bit confused.He appeared to have trouble moving to his forehand side, although he moved very well forward and to the backhand, and he was always quick to recover from the backhand to the middle.
He was really quick going forward, and to his right he was good too. He was slow to his forehand though. Rafa probably hit more backhand dtl winners than forehand dtl winners. That’s not very usual for Nadal. You give people the benefit of the doubt usually, but when it happens again and again, somethings a missing in rafaville. Anyway, Ferrer did a very good job of not allowing Nadal many opportunities to hit his favourite inside-out forehand. He hit only a couple in the whole match. However ‘much Nadal was hindered’(includging headcase & fear of losing out on one epic chance)Ferrer played a very smart game against Nadal.


Kimmi Says:

margot – regreting picking rafa instead of muzz. saves me right. i should have believed in muzz more. I just thought rafa was looking soo strong in slams recently. I hope muzz or federer goes all the way..cheering for your bracket too.

Sorry for rafa, i would have liked to see him play muzz and muzz beat him ofcourse..that would have done wonders to muzza confidence. All that said I am happy rafa did not get the rafa slam. like eric, we wouldnt have stopped hearing about it!! ah, i am sure he will be back though! he could be going for another rafa slam this time next year…who knows. Hope muzza and nole can stop him.


Kimmi Says:

should read “serves me right”


grendel Says:

If you were unable to catch the so-called “Game, Set, and Mats” on Eurosport, you missed a very curious spectacle. Barbara Schetts persuaded Dolgolopov to release his hair from the pony tail constricting it, promising that she would too.

The result was extraordinary. Robinson Crusoe (if beardless) emerged before our eyes, a huge shock of hair framing a face you could just about glimpse if you peered deep into the undergrowth. I wonder if he wears it like that as he strolls about town. One thing’s for sure, it’s a pretty good disguise.


steve-o Says:

@dari: I didn’t say that he was at his physical best.

I said that whatever it was that was hindering him, it probably wasn’t an injury, but something else.

I didn’t see much of the match, only the last few games.

From what I did see, he wasn’t as fast as usual. But he didn’t seem impeded in his movement. No hobbling or favoring a particular side. If his hamstring was really that badly off, he’d surely have been limping.

But he was running for everything, just not getting there.

He physically was not as strong as he is in peak form. Not the same power on his shots, the same heavy spin. I don’t know why, but I doubt it had much to do with his hamstring.

Unlike most athletes, I don’t think Nadal has any clue of what’s going on with his own body. As I said, he treats his body like a borrowed car, pushing it beyond its limits without any regard. Mentally he can somehow ignore the warning signals and self-preservation instincts his body sends him, in order to play the way he does, but ultimately it catches up with him.

It could be partly psychosomatic.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he lost early at RG while trying to break Borg’s record of four straight RG titles, and now he loses early when he’s trying to go for four majors in a row.

Both times he was trying to do something that even the past greats couldn’t do; for Laver never could win four in a row on hard, clay, and grass.

He hates being the favorite and loves to be the underdog. I think that pressure of achieving those great things got to him a little bit; maybe deep down there was a little bit of hesitation; and it manifests as physical problems, to give himself an honorable out. He may not even be conscious of this, of course.

I wouldn’t be too worried. He rebounded fine from the last time he was injured; had his best year ever and won three majors. No reason to think he won’t recover from this.


Kimo Says:

stu Says:

“Kimberly, I completely agree with your gut. But I hope Nole surprises and proves me wrong like he has quite a few times in the past!

If Murray doesn’t have to play Nadal or Federer and BEATS Djoko, I don’t think victory will be as sweet…”

January 26th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

margot Says:

“stu, a slam is a slam is a slam…..but… one match at a time.”

You are both right. A slam is a slam. The history books will be right to say that Murray is the first British champion to win on in seventy-something years if he wins.

However, do you know when was the last time a slam champion did not have to beat either Fed or Rafa on the way to win a slam?

2004 French Open – Gaudio.


dAri Says:

Ok, Steve-o! I’m really susceptible to conspiracy theories and alternative explanations of certain phenomena. But this time I was ready to.give Rafa the benefit of the doubt and say he was just plain injured. its most likely a combination of surely not being at physical best,(you could tell that both before the match, and could evidence the extremely long first service game in hindsight), maybe a little yips hit tough young Rafa going for four in a row, and ferrer really taking it to him.
Since I love reading between the lines, I could attribute Rafa’s very mature and positive attitude after the match as some level of relief? As tough as it is to lose, he is on earth again. No more “four in a row” talk, no more “Rafa is overwhelming favorite, he could win 7 in a row, he is unbeatable” yada yada… that can just all end now, cause Rafa is out of the tournament, he’s recovering from a simple injury like anyone else. He can go back to humble status now, putting in the hard work and trying to make his way through a tournament just like all the other earthly tennis players. Surely he prefers it this way.
And like you said, I’m sure he will be fine, so I need not put any more into this! I am just so shocked is all!
But we’ve got semis to play! Women’s in about half an hour and men’s in… about 7 and a half!
Go li, Kim and fed!


dAri Says:

On a silly note, surely I have heard David speak before, but I found his voice in the post match interviews to be quite soothing and sexy. Just sayin.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Anyone else suddenly thinking Canada could have a good Davis Cup team, with Raonic and Nestor? Bit of a drop off to B Singles (Dancevic?) I guess.


Kimmi Says:

“Canadian Milos Raonic has received a wildcard into San Jose?”

great to see he is getting a wild card. must be because of his great perfomance at the Oz open. this should help to push his ranking up ..go milos!


Cindy_Brady Says:

God, Why do posters like steve-o feel the need to create conspiracies where there are none?

I guess drama tennis queens come in all shapes and sizes.


Kimberly Says:

Agree with Cindy again. Give it a rest. Show some respect.


Kimmi Says:

the bookies have Li as the favorite for this match. interesting!

Well, lets see.


Kimberly Says:

Go na li!


Lulu Iberica Says:

I hope the bookies have it right! Is that mean?


Kimmi Says:

aggressor and defender….few erreos in the first game


Lulu Iberica Says:

Good Lord, pick it up Li Na! We don’t want yet another bad/blowout women’s match in the late stages of a slam!


Kimberly Says:

Wait maybe I shouldn’t cheer for her, all my football teams lost, rafa lost…I’m worried I’m jinxing!


Kimmi Says:

too many mistake..one good shot followed by one bad shot..aaaagh


Lulu Iberica Says:

Back on serve!


Kimo Says:

Li can totally win this match if she tried to keep her UE count low. Hers is a high risk game with little margins for error.


Kimberly Says:

Two all, li na needs to win this match!


Kimmi Says:

woz starts to find her game too. the problem with Li is UE. we know woz will not beat herself


Kimmi Says:

oh lord more UE


Cindy_Brady Says:

It would be awesome to finally see an Asian woman win a slam.

Not meant to be racist, but it would inspire an army of young eager Chineselings to become great at the sport. It would only make pro tennis better.

The generic cookie cutter Caroline Wozniacki’s of the tour haven’t done much to enhance tennis’s popularity.


Kimmi Says:

hmmm, the bookies better change their pick. Li na is beating herself at the moment.

credit to wozniacki though..she seem to anticipate where Li is going to hit the ball


dAri Says:

Oh! I wanted li na so badly to win that point!


Cindy_Brady Says:

Hopefully LiNa will relax more and play her strong controlled game in the 2nd set. Begin to dictate more.

She obviously was nervous and choking in the 1st set.


Kimmi Says:

what a poor set by li. she better pick it up or its going to be a blowout of a semifinal aaagh.


jane Says:

Li with 18 UEs to Woz’s 6.


Kimmi Says:

oh boy..i missed smash. needs to hold here…


dAri Says:

Its nice to see some good winners from caro!


Kimmi Says:

wow! woz on fire, she looks like she is ready to win her first slam


Lulu Iberica Says:

Woz is playing really well, hitting a few nice winners herself. Too bad Li started so shaky.


jane Says:

Agree, credit to Woz. She came to play today.


Kimo Says:

Very rarely does Woz go for winners on her groundies. All she hits are rally shots.


Kimmi Says:

break! from 40-0 love on woz serve. can Li hold here


Kimmi Says:

choking..df..oh dear


Kimmi Says:

oh no..gave it right back.

congrats to woz for reaching second final.


jane Says:

Break, break, and break again. Can Woz serve is it?


jane Says:

I meant “serve it out”


Kimmi Says:

kimo – she might not hit winners but whatever woz is doing, she is doing it very well. at least she is not beating herself like these other girls.

this match is very sad to watch on Li Na point of view


Kimmi Says:

OK, back on serve..C`mon Li..get going mate


Lulu Iberica Says:

Agreed, Woz doesn’t hit many winners, but she’s hit some tonight when she’s had the opportunity. Just giving credit where it’s due. If I had my way, Woz would lose this match, and keep losing until she’s no. 3 or 4. I find her deathly boring as a no. 1, even when she tries to be interesting.


Kimo Says:

DF and it’s a set all!!!!

Finally we have a match. Let’s see how Woz copes with the pressure from here on.


Kimo Says:

This is the problem with being a defensive counter puncher. If your opponent is missing, you win. If s/he is not missing, you lose. There is nothing you can do about it.


Lulu Iberica Says:

I really think Schiavone would’ve beaten Woz if she’d been slightly less tired. Woz did raise her game, but only after Fran started missing badly.


jane Says:

Woz began badly in the Fran match but either way I do think Fran would have likely won had she been more rested. Li I am not as sure about. She seems less consistent than Fran.

Woz plays percentage tennis well. She makes few errors and her second serve is (generally) very reliable.

High risk tennis gone bad can be just as annoying in its way, at least in my opinion; you cannot help thinking – inside or on the lines already! Say when Gulbis, Cilic or Tsonga go off – they really go off. : /

Since near the end of the second sets the amount of service breaks in this match has been rather silly!!!


Kimo Says:

Looks like Li Na is gonna do it after all.


Kimo Says:

Both players are fighting. Good to see.


Kimo Says:

Li Na finally does it :)


Cindy_Brady Says:

Ha, there is rice in your face all you Li Na doubters.

I love Chinese food.


Michael Says:

Before the match, when the interviewer quizzed Nadal about his health, Nadal said all was well and he was 100% fit. Watching that match of Nadal Vs Ferrer, nobody knew what was actually problem with Nadal ? Immediately after a tough 2nd game of the first set, he took time out and then came back. He was running well on court and picking up balls & hitting good winners too. But once he lost the first set, he lost focus and by the time he lost the second set, he thought that the match was over and he didn’t put an inch of effort in the third set and played just to go through the motions and not even trumpeting when he hit winners. Tony Nadal was laughing when Nadal was staring at him. That says something that all was not well with Nadal. Sure, Ferrer has very less chances against a fit Nadal raring to go. But something was wrong with Nadal on that day and still we are wondering what it was ? May be the Nadal camp can clear out doubts by coming out what was really the problem ?


Michael Says:

With this loss, Nadal has put down all hopes of a Nadal-Murray semi final which I was eagerly awaiting. Nadal for sure has to sort out his health problems which is taking a huge toll out of him. If there is anything he has to learn from Federer, it is about physicall fitness.


steve-o Says:

Great job by Li! Wozniacki competed well.

History is made–the first Chinese player (indeed, the first Asian player) to make it to a Grand Slam final in singles.

Top story: Andujar, Cuevas, Isner, Svitlona Win ATP/WTA Titles
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1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
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