Cortisone Shot Helps Murray, But Not Enough to Beat Nadal in Monte Carlo
by Sean Randall | April 17th, 2011
  • 132 Comments

For someone who just had a cortisone shot in his arm, Andy Murray sure put up a valiant fight Saturday in a losing effort to Rafael Nadal in the Monte Carlo semifinals. After two very tough sets, Nadal pulled away in the third to take the match 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 and advance to the final.

Nadal’s victory lifts his win streak at the tournament to an incredible 38 and it puts him a win shy of a seventh straight Monte Carlo title. But the focus Saturday has to be on Murray after not winning a match for two months, gets stuck with a cortisone shot 30 minutes before the start and plays a heck of a match.

After a delay and some ruminations about a retirement, Murray, who apparently injured the elbow in his win over Gil, finally took the court and gave the clay king all he could handle and then some for two sets.

“I thought it was a good match,” Murray said. “I would have liked to have done better. I think I can play better. Obviously it’s good to know you’re able to play at a similar level to what he does on the clay. To win against him, you need to be able to do that for three and a half hours, four hours. He’s the best player in the world for a reason.

“It’s good to be close to him, but I want to try to play better than that. I’ll need to, if I want to beat him, because he’s going to improve the next few weeks for sure the more he plays on clay.”

I have to credit Murray, he really went after Nadal and used the dropshop variety effectively. Nadal, however, was just too tough for the Scot in the end.

“For sure [it] is a fantastic victory for me against a very difficult opponent,” said Nadal. “So is a dream for me be in the final here another time in Monte Carlo. [To] start the clay-court season being in the final is very good for me. Everything is positive on the result.”

For Murray, he’ll have an MRI on Sunday to see what’s wrong with the elbow.

“I didn’t know up until 5 past 3:00 whether I was going to play or not,” Murray said. “I had a cortisone injection, whatever, local anesthetic in my elbow before the match. I never had any problems with my elbow before. Yesterday, the beginning of the second set, I felt something. Managed to play through it. It was sort of on the inside. Then this morning, was hitting, warming up fine. Went to hit some serves; I couldn’t serve. The thing as well, I didn’t know what it was. It wasn’t until 20 past 2:00 I saw the doctor. Did an ultrasound scan at maybe 1:30 with the substitute doctor who said he couldn’t see anything. Then the main doctor came, checked it. He said what it was. Had the decision at 2:35 to have the injection. I went to practice at 3:00. I went out to see if I could play. You know, my elbow was numb, so I didn’t feel anything. And then I don’t know whether it wore off or what, but it was probably pretty much 2 hours, 40 minutes into the match when I felt it. So it was not like it was there throughout. So I’m happy that I gave it my best, but I think I can do better. Yeah, it was disappointing because I felt like I was playing well. So have to see how it feels tomorrow and what I do from here.”

In the Sunday finale, Nadal will meet his countryman David Ferrer who easily took care of Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-2. It’s not often I get to toot my horn but a certain someone picked this exact final a week ago. Guess who?

As for the match, Nadal leads the series against Ferrer 11-4 and 8-1 on clay (8 straight). Of course we remember their most recent meeting at the Australian Open quarterfinals when Nadal injured himself early on and was unable to give it his best in a losing effort.

Ferrer, though, does have few things going for himself. He’s fresh, he’s been playing well (he’s lost just 17 games this week), he loves the clay and he’s beaten Nadal before. And maybe after playing three hours in the Murray win, Nadal’s not at full strength for the final. We’ve seen that pattern played out before with Rafa: tough 3-set match, bad result the next day (10 London, 09 Madrid come to mind).

“I’m very pleased to be in the finals,” said Ferrer. “It can be either Rome or Monte Carlo. I’m very pleased to be in a final of a Masters 1000. I was once in Rome, and I want to do that again. I had hoped that I would feel so well [on clay]. I’m full of confidence. I feel good physically, and also with my tennis. I hope I’ll keep going.”

But Rafa’s a perfect 8-0 against his fellow Armada members in tournament finals and I don’t think he loses for a second straight time to Ferrer.

“[David] had a fantastic start of the season,” Nadal said. “He didn’t lose yet on clay yet this year. He won in Acapulco and is in the final here. He beat me in Australia. He’s very dangerous, no? Very difficult match going to be. I have to play very well. I gonna try.”

Match time tomorrow is 8:15 am ET. Tennis Channel has live coverage.

SUNDAY MONTE CARLO SCHEDULE

COURT CENTRAL start 2:15 pm
[1] R Nadal (ESP) vs [4] D Ferrer (ESP)
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs J Chela (ARG) / B Soares (BRA)


Also Check Out:
Federer Reverses Monte Carlo Decision, Will Take On Nadal
Rafael Nadal: I Have Amazing Feelings When I Play Monte Carlo [Video]
Andreas Seppi Hit This “Straight Out Of The Top Drawer” Tweener Today [Video]
Djokovic Withdraws From Monte Carlo
Andy Murray’s Having Court Issues: Monte Carlo Has Bad Bounces, Madrid Has Turned Blue

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132 Comments for Cortisone Shot Helps Murray, But Not Enough to Beat Nadal in Monte Carlo

jane Says:

Good summation, thanks Sean. I wonder if Ferrer will take a set? Hard to see him winning it all and stopping Rafa’s incredible SEVENTHPEAT!

Looking anxiously forward to updates re: Murray’s elbow; hope it is nothing much.


Mila Says:

I don’t think it is serious, considering that the main doctor figured out what it is and still let Murray play against Nadal.

Any serious elbow injury, the decision would have been to skip the final and not make things worse.
It could be my wishful thinking, but I believe Andy will be OK. (this one goes to margot and Fritz)


margot Says:

Mila: thank you :) Don’t know what it is yet, but Andy is having a scan today and if anyone’s interested here he is talking about it
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis9460289.stm


Ike Says:

it’s time David beat the Goliath!


margot Says:

So Ike u think he has a chance ;)


Ike Says:

margot
whole my life i have been rooting for underdogs…i do think David has a chance (albeit very small) to beat Rafa today….at least i want to c 3 set match.

oh btw, here is a link to Andy’s comic sport relief…maybe u have checked it out already.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZtU-nRYem0


margot Says:

Ike, I think he’s got a bit of a chance. Although Andy has more variety, David is a better clay court player and Rafa’s serve is almost as off as Andy’s at the mo. :(
Cheers, I did see that, loved it. Love Andy’s oh so dry humour and his self-deprecation which most journos just don’t get.


Kimmi Says:

ferrer plays well when he is behind. he gets break points. all gave away with errors


margot Says:

Hmm, needs to keep the ball away from Rafa’s forehand though :(
So, Ike if u always “cheer” the underdog, have u a favourite player?


margot Says:

Hmm, David gets broken. Everyone needs to play Rafa like Nole does. Hasn’t David been watching?


grendel Says:

re Nadal’s serve. It is a strange thing, but my impression is that Nadal’s serve is at its most lethal on grass, then hard court, and is most ineffective on clay. This seems completely counter-intuitive when we are talking about the greatest claycourter in history – nevertheless, that is my impression. On grass, Nadal’s serve is a monster – not too many aces, but impossible to attack.


Lulu Iberica Says:

I’m relieved Rafa got the break here. David was looking sharper the first couple of games. Let’s see if Raf can consolidate. Hmmm… Looks promising.


margot Says:

grendel, read your point about Andy, inclined to agree re serve, when working it IS tremendous. Wonder how much is lost when it doesn’t though, which seems more often than not.
re Rafa’s, his was monstrous at US Open and hasn’t been the same since. Wonder why.


Kimmi Says:

OK, cant watch one sided affair. good luck to ferrer!


Kimmi Says:

Ferrer does not have the variety of murray. i think this match will be over quickly.

Good luck to muzza on the elbow


Lulu Iberica Says:

I wouldn’t say this is one sided. Ferru just broke back.


margot Says:

Hmm, agree with kimmi, not enough variety from Ferrer. He won’t win slugging it out with Rafa’s forehand :(


Lulu Iberica Says:

Oh, sorry, wrong about that! ^^^ crappy streams! I want Tennis Channel, damn it!


Polo Says:

Is there anybody who can beat Nadal on clay this year? He lost to Djokovic twice so far but both were on a surface where Nadal still does not reign supreme. And both matches were close.


Lulu Iberica Says:

Ok, now 15-40, brk pts for Ferru.


Daniel Says:

All Nadal’s service games Ferrer had BP. This
Match can go miles! But Ferrer is serving less than 30%. Now 0-40 gone.


margot Says:

Have now changed my mind, don’t think David is a better clay court player than the new improved Andy ;)


Polo Says:

Ferrer has been wasting away all his break point chances. If Nadal wins this set, he will run away with the set set.


Kimmi Says:

i agree about ferrer errors polo


Polo Says:

Ferrer is playing well and still remains behind. He will be dead tired and mentally numb when this gets to the second set.


Kimmi Says:

hold frm 0-40. c;mon ferrer, that was a big chance there.


margot Says:

Polo, I think New Nole can beat him and also think, in time, New Andy could too.


Lulu Iberica Says:

This is only the first clay tourney of the year, and the one at which Rafa has been most successful. After a horrible slump, with a numb elbow, Murray, who hasn’t done much on clay, was able to go toe to toe w/ Rafa, and win one set decisively. Why does this mean no one can beat Rafa all season? Ferru is making him fight for almost every point. I think Djoko is off perfecting his clay game and getting ready to pounce! I hope I’m wrong, and you are right about Rafa being unbeatable, but we will see!


Polo Says:

I am trying to imagine Federer in place of Ferrer in this final. I don’t think he could do as well. Roger has been looking lazy and lost when he plays against somebody who is playing well.


Kimmi Says:

lulu – the neutral like me are hoping for a close match but i know the rafa fans will want the easy one today. i think you will get it..


Lulu Iberica Says:

Two bad misses in a row from Nadal keep things close.


Ike Says:

margot
i think they should get Andy on Saturday Night Live (on NBC here in states)…if he wins USO, i think they will…maybe Nole & Andy together, it will be lot of fun.

here is one clip of Peyton Manning
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdFg6lV-TDg&feature=related


margot Says:

kimmi, u r still watching, so u must be still hoping :)


margot Says:

Ike, is that the one with Jon Stewart, I love him!


Polo Says:

I am interested in what happens the rest of the clay season. I have a feeling Nadal will be undefeated again. By the way, I have been wrong in everything I have felt so far. I would like to see Djokovic beat him on clay. I would like to see how Rafael would react to somebody giving him a real challenge at the top. It would make the Nadal-Federer rivalry pale in comparison being that Nadal-Djokovic are just about equal. Of course,I could still be wrong about that.


Ike Says:

margot
btw, Nole is my favorite player, then Murray, DelPo


Lulu Iberica Says:

Beautiful FH dtl from Ferru!


margot Says:

Ike, SECOND best! OK I forgive you :)


Ike Says:

margot
Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert are great.
SNL is on NBC, it’s kind of “stupid” comedy show…but funny


Polo Says:

Yikes! Why does Ferrer keep committing silly errors after he wins a good point?


Ike Says:

margot
maybe DelPo is my second fav. and Murray third…


margot Says:

Oh dear, this match has a kind of inevitability about it that, poor misguided fool that I am, I didn’t feel yesterday….
Ike, think Andy’d like that one :)


Ike Says:

Polo
i think Rafa is playing five clay court tournaments this season…i m almost sure he is going to lose at least 1 of those…


Daniel Says:

Ferrer missed too manu returns this last game. He was even winning more baseline points than Nadal.


Polo Says:

This match looks like a cat toying with a mouse prior to devouring him.


Lulu Iberica Says:

I don’t like to see easy wins happen because the opponent is playing badly, but if it’s because Nadal is phenomenal, that’s enjoyable. Today, yes, I wouldn’t mind an easy win, esp if Rafa’s actually going to play Barcelona. Yesterday was a better match, though. Anyway, I just have to wonder how many people were hoping and praying for someone to beat Fed back around 2006 when he was winning everything.


Kimmi Says:

I have to work today, so this is the perfect time to go…


Polo Says:

If Rafa loses, I hope it is to either Djokovic or Murray. Or maybe del Potro, too. I like those three…in that order. I don’t dislike Nadal. I have so much respect for him. He just does not seem that exciting to watch compared with the others I mentioned.


Kimmi Says:

I am sure there was a lot of people lulu. i see a lot of happy faces now that he is losing..

to win the tournament 7 times, gets broring for the neutrals. hope somebody else can challenge in monte carlo. looks like we will have to wait another year..


Ike Says:

Lulu Iberica
“Anyway, I just have to wonder how many people were hoping and praying for someone to beat Fed back around 2006 when he was winning everything”…well, i always wanted to c someone beat Fed all the time. Now a days i hope the same against Rafa on clay…i hope Nole can beat him in FO final


margot Says:

Lulu: for “neutral” fans it’s the competitive match that stirs the blood. Fed winning everything was, after you’d acknowledged his brilliance, was boring too.
Of course, as an Andy fan, I too want him to win everything easily, however unlikely that may appear to the “neutrals.” :)


Ike Says:

it’s good to c that Ferer is still playing positively


Ike Says:

i still think David can at least take a set from Rafa……..


Kimmi Says:

75 minutes just first set. the Spaniards knows how to grind


margot Says:

Lulu: Andy beat Fed when he was still a teenager and I can tell u it was blooming good :)


Daniel Says:

30% first serves in and Ferrer was still conpetitive. The Naum difference was BP convertion: 2-4 Nadal and 1-6 Ferrer.


Ike Says:

Kimmi
i thought u were leaving for work :)


Ike Says:

good to c David giving some fight….


grendel Says:

best volley of the match by far – of the tourney?- by Ferrer. What a beauty, and how magnificently he manouvred Nadal. Actually, Ferrer understands very well how to beat Nadal, just doesn’t quite ave the weapons. Nadal looking human, though, as he was against gasquet and Murray. He is definitelybeatable on clay, even if he remains favourite for any one match. This is not the Nadal of last year.


Ike Says:

good hold from David……..


Lulu Iberica Says:

I’m not a moron. I get that a close match is more exciting. It just seems like the clay season is barely starting and everyone’s ready for it to end all ready just because Rafa hasn’t been dethroned in his best tournament (which has been more competitive than last year.) Ha — I guess I hope that the clay season is very boooorrrrring for the rest of you, and Wimbledon, too! Things are bound to get exciting in the summer hardcourt season. I kind of hope Djoker is going for the win at USO in order to take the #1. I will be very, very sad for Rafa if he loses at RG. He has to tie Borg! He’s not playing so well at the moment, though.


Ike Says:

Wozniacki is looking whorrible :)


Kimmi Says:

I can go anytime ike. so i am kind of lazy..if the match is interesting i can delay a little but I think there is no need to delay..


Ike Says:

Lulu Iberica
i hope Nole can beat Rafa in FO/Wimby final, and Murray beats Rafa in USO final :)


Ike Says:

Kimmi
wait until Rafa gets a break……


Ike Says:

well Kimmi you can leave now :)


Kimmi Says:

thats it. see you ike. congrats rafa.


Ike Says:

if David can give this much fight to Rafa, just think how much difficult it will be for Rafa to beat in-form Nole


Ike Says:

Prince Albert is looking like Tony Soprano :)


margot Says:

wow! Rafa’s on now! Will David get another game?


margot Says:

Ike, Andy has a better chance at Wimbledon, Nole at RG I feel. As for US Open it’s far more open….


Lulu Iberica Says:

Ike, I know you like the underdogs, but how can you want Nole to win FO, Wimb, Murray USO, and expect Rafa ever gets 8 more GS to beat Rog? I don’t think Raf will play that long, so if he wants to get close to Rog, he has to be dominant now. I want Rafa to win 3 more RG, 2 – 3 Wimb, and 1 or 2 AO, USO. Also, Olympic gold in 2012, at least 1 WTF, and a couple more year end no. 1s. Then he retires. Or plays dubs. And then I’ll root for Murray to win Wimby.


margot Says:

Oh Lulu, Andy will be drawing his old age pension by then :)


Ike Says:

margot
very funny LOL!!!


Ike Says:

Lulu
i would love to c someone has more GS than Fed. If not Rafa, someone else will do it..but i m sick and tired of Fed – Rafa dominance in last 8 years! Ideally i want to c four majors win by four different players!


Ike Says:

that’s what i m talking about! way to go David!!!


margot Says:

Ike :) Shall we let Rafa have RG then, as long as Andy has Wimbles and Nole US?
kimmi! Come back! Ferrer breaks.


Lulu Iberica Says:

See, Margot, this is why I want Raf to win everything now! If Rafa wins next 2 Wimbys, Andy can win 2013. I guess it would also be OK for him to get a USO or AO in the next couple of years, but I also like Djoko and JMDP. I sound like I want to be The God of Tennis, doling out titles! Anyway, I don’t think Rafa’s going to be that dominant. We will see. But, I might have to make a Nole voodoo doll for RG!


Ike Says:

i m hoping to c third set here!


margot Says:

Lulu, u go gettem girl! I have many voodoo dolls lined up myself, but not working too well at the mo.
Don’t think Andy will play much beyond 30, he’s said as much.


Polo Says:

This is what I want. I want Djokovic to win the French, Federer to win Wimbledon (then quickly retire) and Murray to win the US Open. Then Nadal can win the Australian next year.


Lulu Iberica Says:

I quit watching and David comes back! Aacckk! Another 2nd set dip from Rafito?


Polo Says:

Oh I forgot del Potro. OK, I will take away the Australian from Nadal and give it to del Potro. Then Nadal can win the French in 2012 (then quickly retire).


Polo Says:

I can’t seem to get excited over this match. Nadal is only exciting to watch when he plays Federer, Djokovic, Murray or del Potro. The Nadal excitement factor is a function of who he plays against.


margot Says:

Oh well, Ferrer implodes.
Polo: lol, what’s that saying, if fishes were wishes?


Polo Says:

I think I am the only one left watching. Everybody must have keeled over from boredom.


Polo Says:

Yes margot. I fishes where wishes…a fishbone will get stuck on my throat.


Skeezerweezer Says:

Yawn. Is there any Tennis being played today?


Ike Says:

no shame in that defeat David! great fight! congrats Rafa..


margot Says:

Congrats to your man, Lulu :) 7 in a row is truly astonishing.
Nice chatting folks, have a good rest of weekend, talk to you soon.
Am out into the sunshine and my lovely garden, or “yard” as dear “i am it” used to call it ;)


Daniel Says:

Congrats Nadal: 7 usara of clay dominance! Has anuviei ver won 7 straigh anywhere. I know Sampra has 7 Wimby, but who else?!

Never was a fan of Nadal but always enjoy watching greatness, and this is it as it’s best!

Just 1 more French and He will be clay GOAT, 2 more and there won’t be no doubts.


stu Says:

Who is AKBesser? Congrats on winning the tennis-x challenge!


Kimberly Says:

AKBesser is Dari’s friend. At least ColinO5 only finished fourth to last.

Allright, pundits, what are the odds Rafa shows in Barcelona this week? I’m with 50-50.


jane Says:

Congrats to Rafa: missed all of it, but 7 in a row is some feat! Rafa fans, hope you enjoy the win. :)


Lulu Iberica Says:

Thanks for congrats! I will agree this match wasn’t super exciting. Too many errors, and despite David fighting, Rafa was on top of things. It will be more exciting (and nerve wracking) when Nole comes back. I have mixed feelings ab Barcelona. I don’t want Rafa to wear himself out, but he might need those extra points, especially by hard court season.


grendel Says:

““It’s good to be close to him, but I want to try to play better than that. I’ll need to, if I want to beat him, because he’s going to improve the next few weeks for sure the more he plays on clay.” – Andy Murray.

It’s curious. Last year, Nadal came to Monte Carlo after being prizeless for nearly a year. Then he went on a loony roll, and lost perhaps 14 games in entire tourney. And then he won this. And then he won that. And then he won the other. Had a spot of luck – didn’t meet anyone at the US Open till the final, but was playing so well he’d have probably won anyway (that was always the US Open he had to win – it won’t be so easy for him again, ever). And, this year, the pattern sort of repeatsc – prizeless since Tokyo, stop to the rot in Monte.

So is Murray right? Will Nadal gradually work his way into last year’s form? Or are the signs of vulnerability we have seen this tourney, several times, a portent?

Once that aura starts to slip, even if ever so slightly, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will have trouble in putting it together again. Nadal is only the favourite now for RG. No longer the screaming certainty. Excellent.


Kimmi Says:

Congrats to the clay king. 7 years in a row! wow only rafa can do that. congrats to his fans too. one down 3 to go. his clay points defense has started with a bang!!

i have to say though that i am glad rafa got a little bit of a challenge here. guys like murray, djoko and maybe delpo might have a chance. sorry federer :(

bring it on madrid, rome , RG…


grendel Says:

Kimmi – not Delpo yet. All being well, next year. But there’s a number of players who might, on a magic day, catch Nadal – just like Sod did.

margot – i suppose you’ve given up on Spiral. Pity, last night’s sessions were good. There are some intriguing story lines which are cannily interwoven with the main theme – this aspect is handled more subtly than in The Killing actually. Admittedly, you have to put up with (relish in – tick box) a spot of gore. It’s always a thin line which separates realism from self-indulgence. I don’t claim the Spiral people always get the mix right by any means – gripping stuff, all the same!


Duro Says:

Kimberly, Lulu Iberica, tenisbebe…

Congrats for the outstanding achievement of your champ. Since he was 18…

Unbelievable.

Cheers.


funches Says:

Only Djokovic can beat Nadal on clay this year, even if Rafa plays poorly.

Murray came nowhere close. He won 10 points total in the third set, which was an abject beatdown, an annihilation. Rafa held at love in every service game except for the one he lost. How anyoen could watch that match and think Murray could have won is beyond me.

To beat Rafa on clay, you have to be incredibly fast and capable of zoning out with power groundstrokes for at least two-and-a-half hours with no lapses in concentration. Only Djokovic is capable of doing that, and even for him it will be very difficult.


The fighter Says:

Today we witnessed history….feel blessed to watch Rafa play…he brought tears to my eyes….wat spirit!!!! keep going….


margot Says:

grendel: no haven’t mainly because so little on box at mo., only “Lewis”…Everyone in “Spiral” seems corrupt which is quite refreshing I suppose. Don’t mind fictitious gore it’s the shouting I don’t like :)
Also don’t u think it’s a bit obvious all the beautiful people r the goodies and the ugly the baddies?
Just loved Sarah Lund and her relationship with her sadly deceased partner, nothing can match it alas, certainly not this shooting, shouting lot.
funches: Andy’s cortisone wore off in the third set and I expect he was pretty scared about what was happening to his elbow. Just a bit of a distraction, wouldn’t u say? Remember 3rd set at WTF? No “giving up” there, why would this have been any different?


Cindy_Brady Says:

Nadal on his way to being the greatest clay courter of all time, unstoppable.

Vamos Rafa Vamos!!

Hope Borg will be given the honor of presenting Rafael Nadal the trophy when he win his 6th French Open title and ties Bjorn.


grendel Says:

’bout the goodies and the baddies and the beauties and the uglies – actually not, imo, at all obvious which is which. there are all kinds of tangled relationships in this series which are actually rather interesting and by no means so obvious as you imply…They’re repeating Sopranos – which I never saw first time round. I think it’s excellent and, more to the point, so does my young ‘un.

About Murray. Yes, he folded completely in 3rd set – but if it was due to injury at least in part, as margot suggests, it’s inappropriate to draw too much from it. The fact is, he totally outplayed Nadal in the second set and was more or less even stevens with him in the first. Not bad, I’d say, not too bad at all. Whether Murray has it in him to concentrate the way you must to beat Nadal over 5 on clay, none of us quite know. I’d guess not, as of now. But: the man is an enigma. He really is. No one should pretend they know what he is capable of because nobody knows, including Murray himself. What we do know for sure is: he can spring a surprise, a surprising surprise at that.

As for noone except Djokovic etc: that’s just going on history. Times change, times change, times change. We don’t know, nobody knows. Nobody had the least – not the least – idea that Soderling would beat Nadal at RG. Nobody, no matter how eminent. Nobody knew. Everyone is always so wise after the event.

Nadal is slightly vulnerable – that is evident after this tourney – in a way he wasn’t last year, and whilst he is certainly big favourite for RG, he is not a machine and he is beatable.


Lulu Iberica Says:

grendel, I agree with all your points above. I’m glad you’re back — missed your insightful posts for a while. Also, I’m glad you’re back to being “grendel.” While I understand dunbar is a literary character, it is also a rundown industrial town, filled with smelly chemical plants, near my hometown.


Cindy_Brady Says:

grendel,

I respectfully completely disagree with you.

Nadal will only get better as the clay season gets into high gear. Even not at his best he still raises the trophy at another master 1000 event.

Murray, Djokovic, and Federer can’t beat a healthy Nadal in a best of 5 contest on clay. They may win a set or even two, but Nadal’s game will eventually wear them down and force errors and frustration.

And don’t think a Soderling miracle is going to happen either. Nadal will ready to take on all challenges. The field can only hope he gets injured.

If healthy, Nadal is basically unbeatable on clay even if his rivals are playing at their best. He is that good.


dari Says:

Better late than never, but Felicidades to Rafa! I thought that luck would keep him from #7, but Rafa + monte Carlo= made for each other!
I actually woke up early enough for the final, but fell asleep after a few games. Heard it wasn’t anything great, but the tournament wasn’t really overall, except for the Murray match.
Hope the next clay tournament is better.


grendel Says:

Lulu – is Dunbar really a place? You’re lucky to have chemical plants, although I can see why you wouldn’t want to live right next to one. When I was a teenager and out of work, one could wander about town knocking on gates so to speak of factories and foundries and indeed chemical plants and expect to find work. And if you couldn’t bear it (I can still smell the sulphur from the foundries, oddly beautiful places in their way), you could always wander down the road and try another one. These days, they’re all closed in England. We don’t seem to make anything any more on an industrial scale – I find that kind of sad and also unintelligible. How do we generate income? All very well these so-called information and service technologies – seems all very will-o’- the – wisp to me…

Cindy_Brady – two points. You say “if healthy…” Well others have made the point that insofar as Nadal is prone to injury, that is part of his game. His style generates injury. This suggests that were he to become more or less injury free, a la Federer, his game would not be so effective. So he can’t really complain about injury – he has chosen to subject himself to risk. As for being “basically unbeatable on clay”, this has been true (although it didn’t stop Soderling), the question is: is it still true? Maybe, though such evidence as there is suggests he is already past his absolute best. In any case, remember Sampras being beaten by Kraijchek at Wimbledon? Completely out of the blue. Jimmy Connors being beaten by Arthur Ashe? Again, utterly unexpected. Of course, these events are rare – but the lesson should surely be, don’t count your chickens……


dari Says:

Didn’t know Barcelona was so packed with top guys. Will give later matches a look-see, with eye on soda and Murray. That’s the one with the GIANT trophy, right?


Cindy_Brady Says:

Madrid will be far more interesting. The altitude will make the balls fly faster. If Nadal is to be beaten on clay, surely this is where he is most vulnerable by the big hitters who can take advantage of faster clay courts.


grendel Says:

“He [Nadal] said at the start of the week he has watched videos of himself from previous years to relearn how to move on clay after almost a year on grass and hardcourts. His opponents should probably do the same.”

This kind of dedication is somehow typical. The man is a professional to the very marrow of his bones. Nothing is left to chance – although, fortunately for his competitors, chance can have a way of eluding the sternest scrutiny.

I was watching Nadal, even not at his best, creaming the lines again and again. How does he do it? I querulously asked my elder son. I mean, he has a racket, he has an arm, like others. Actually, I was put in mind of Marilyn Monroe who once remarked that she had an anatomy like any other woman. Her point was not absurd. Such was the worship she attracted, people somehow expected something different, something qualititatively different. But no, she was just a woman, with the usual bits and pieces who did, however, have something special even unique – she had the ability to make sex funny.

So what does Nadal have special – leaving aside the intangibles of rare talent – which enables him to hit the lines again and again from silly places when other players just as gifted cannot do that? He practices a lot, replied my son. What? That seems a bit banal. But that’s how it is. Any idea how many hours these concert pianists put in? The talented and “mediocre” alike. As good old J.B.Priestley used to put it with respect to creative writing, it’s 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration.

But what about the focus stuff, I asked. You’ve got to admit, that’s pretty unusual, unique even. Goes along with the practice replied the imperturbable young man. They re-inforce each other. Well, why don’t they all do it, then, I persisted. Would even things up a bit. Some do, of course. Ferrer, for instance, one suspects. But admirable though he is, his resources are a little limited by the standards of the very best. But take people who are as talented as Nadal, probably more so – F.Lopez, Verdasco, Gulbis, Malisse. It just isn’t remotely in them to practice anything like Nadal practices. They’re the 10% boys, relying on inspiration. It can be exciting, but also sort of useless. Inspiration without perspiration is a dead end.

I’m not talking about the difficulty which Nadal’s severe top spin poses everyone. None of that would be any use if he wasn’t so formidably accurate. It looks like Djokovic is beginning to match his accuracy – presumably he too puts in long, long hours on the court?

Excuse these disjointed midnight ramblings. nobody else is saying much, so what the hell.


jane Says:

grendel, did you know they’ve released David Foster Wallace’s last work? Apparently it was on his desk. “The Pale King”. Unfinished, of course. About taxation. Seriously.

I love “Some Like it Hot”, speaking of making sex funny.


goat galz Says:

Murray laughed at Simon’s injury and the tennis gods got even with him.


dari Says:

Jane hate to interrupt, but have you read infinite jest? I read about the new book, and was told i should definitely start with infinite jest (but how would they know, the pale king JUST came out?!). Anyway, ordered the older book a couple days ago so it doesn’t matter what any one says, but wondered your impressions, if you’ve read.
Same for anyone else here.


thark Says:

at the risk of helping this thread to veer ever more off course, this speech is DFW at his best:

http://moreintelligentlife.com/story/david-foster-wallace-in-his-own-words

to say it is relevant to tennis would not be a stretch, since it is relevant to everything we do in life.


Kimberly Says:

Grendel, nadal’s performance was B- C+ but he still won, and against Ferrer, one of the toughest clay courters out there who had the mental boost of winning their last match.

To spin the well known excuses we Rafa fans are famed for, this is Rafa’s third consecutive final, I think he has to be exhausted. He says no. Maybe not. But Novak clearly was, and thats why he didn’t play.

Novak wants to go into Serbia fresh, win (the field is pretty weak, i cannot imagine he won’t win) and then take the confidence to Madrid. Smart. If he showed up in montecarlo worn out and lost, it might signal to the others he is beatable.

I can’t imagine why Nadal would play Barcelona. However, other than Montecarlo last year on clay, I didn’t think Rafa played particularly well and he won every match.

I didn’t think he played particularly well in Wimby until the second set of his match with Robin Soderling. Then he was a monster.

So, I will enjoy this win today(as we fans know, things can change very quick) and hope he can raise his level of game, but even if he doesn’t raise it, it may well be good enough to win it all anyway! I mean other than Rafa, Ferrer played hands down the best of anyone in the tournament, and the result was still a straight set win even if it wasn’t exactly pretty.


WTF Says:

So Murray draws the ire of the french crowd by hitting drop shots against a Simon who was obviously injured and couldn’t chase them down. I wonder if the french don’t see Murray’s own injury sustained only one match later as cosmic retribution of some sort..


jane Says:

dari, not entirely. Just dipped in here & there, read some footnotes. ;) But I think I’ll read that book first, this summer, before I look at the new one.

Thanks thark: I really liked this part: “To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded.”

I recently taught Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis”; in an interview in which she praises her parents’ open-mindedness while she grew up in Iran, she says that her father always said “anyone who doesn’t change his/her mind is an idiot”. DFW’s words kind of reminded me of that. It’s important to be open-minded.

And that could apply to tennis (to try desperately to return to the topic ;)). A player doesn’t want to become too close-minded about his/her success/technique/game, think they know it all, & maybe become a little arrogant. It’s crucial to make changes as necessary. Of course a certain amount of “arrogance” or confidence in abilities is important in an athlete. But like Nadal seems to show, always being willing to evolve and change things as needed is also key. Open-mindedness.


WTF Says:

Cindy_Brady aren’t you one of those people who think Nadal is a doper?


dari Says:

Haha, nice bring-back Jane.
Thanks, thark. That was very good for me to read at this time, and surely any body at any time.
I think I need to be open minded that nadal is not too good to be true. You can be that good- AND that humble, nice, genuine. I really enjoyed his words after the win.
He handled the question about “comparation” with Borg very well.
And Daveed- really nice start to the year, Congrats to him, and hope he keeps it up.


Kimberly Says:

I have always liked daveeeed. I think he really deserves a clay masters title, like nadal said. Just not against my boy!

Well almagro was certainly unimpressive, as was berdych.

Meltzer and ferrer and Murray were impressive. Definitely going to explorethem deep in my brackets.

Verdasco. Uggh. Need I say more. Marry fish now in top ten thanks to his crumble.

Federer doesn’t seem to want to dig deep and win ugly. When its not going his way he seems to mentally check out in the last two tournaments. He either obliterated his opponents, or seems absent. Does anyone else think that? Maybe if you have sixteen GS, a zillions of dollars, 285 weeks at number one, you cant be bothered to dig deep for a masters tourney and it becomes all about the grand slams. I think he’s got his eye on Wimbledon.


jane Says:

Kimberly, yeah, Hotsauce has been a letdown since those smaller American hard court events. But I am happy for Fish – he said his goal was to make it into the top ten, and his runs at Del Ray and in Miami have got him there, with help from Hotsauce.

Fed must have his eyes on the big titles/grand slams; he certainly didn’t seem devastated about his loss to Melzer the other day.


Daniel Says:

grendel,

“practice leads to perfection”!


Possum Says:

“…and I don’t think he loses for a second straight time to Ferrer.”

I’ve noticed this type of sentence construction on this blog a lot. Is it grammatical correct or is it just a trendy jock way of saying things?


grendel Says:

Kimberley – I’ve always thought Ferrer has the right attitude to beating Nadal on clay, both mentally and tactics-wise, but he doesn’t quite have the strength. These things count. Imagine if boxing tourneys were conducted without respect to weight – an exaggerated analogy, of course, but not entirely off beam. Murray has the resources to beat Nadal on clay – it’s questionable that he has the right attitude; for him to prove.

As for your comments on Federer, they seem to me to be anachronistic. Federer used to dig as deep as anyone in his great days. Plenty of his matches were extremely tight and Federer was a great warrior without a doubt. He’s not the same player any more – did you read Ben Pronin’s quote from Becker about tennis players having a finite number of top class matches in their legs – and heads? Can’t remember the exact quote – rather graphic.


Colin Says:

Since the Monte Carlo semi-final, I have been saddened to see the number of people online (not just here)tying themselves in knots to avoid giving Murray credit for his performance.
I can’t be bothered to look up the time and place, but on one occasion in the last year or two Nadal lost to Murray and was bageled in the last set. Why? Because he injured his knee and could barely walk, let alone run. But nobody thought that bagel proved anything about the relative ability of the two players. Had it been Rafa who was carrying a crocked elbow full of cortisone on Saturday, he’d be praised as a hero even if he’d lost, as he surely would have done.
And I don’t think, Grendel (why not try Henryson?), that Murray needs to prove anything about attitude. He won a 28 shot rally and a 19 minute game in that match, and at times dominated the court, despite three handicaps: the injury, serious lack of match play, and the common problems with his first serve.
I won’t make any silly predictions about the French Open, but if he’s fit, I think Andy could garner very good points there.


grendel Says:

Further to the above: it occurs to me that Federer understands Becker’s dictum very well – who better? Naturally he won’t acknowledge this in public, not yet anyway (wait for his memoirs),and whilst we’re on this, the way people take these interviews of top players literally surprises me. These interviews are designed to conceal, not reveal, the innermost workings of the player’s mind. They are essentially PR jobs. Being personal, though, they naturally carry the stamp of the player himself, and it can be fun to try to work out what’s really going on.

Anyway, I suspect that at some level, maybe not entirely articulated even to himself, Federer understand well enough that not only are his glory days largely over, he has only one more shot at a slam. Realistically, he will know it’s Winbledon or nothing. If this is true, then that is what he is preparing for, mentally, physically and above all emotionally. All his emotional energy will be directed on this goal.

He has to hoard this emotional energy – the supply is very definitely finite. I think at an instinctual level – that level at which an ageing animal, for example, understands it is going to die and this is clearly not a conceptual understanding – Federer understands he absolutely cannot afford to fritter away nervous energy on (to him) now unimportant matches, when he will need every ounce of it for his last assault on the Wimbledon Crown.


grendel Says:

Colin – I have a lot of sympathy for your position. Murray was terrific, and anyone who denies this is being, at best, a miserly old curmudgeon.

Nevertheless, question marks remain over his attitude. Lamentable displays in grand slam finals – you can’t ignore these. But that there is a warrior amongst all the other beings struggling to find expression in Murray’s complicated persona, there is no doubt. Maybe it will come to dominate – let us hope so.

I recall the rally and the game you refer to very well, but I don’t think that’s really the point. No one doubts that Murray can get down into the mud and scrap with the best of them. He plainly enjoys it, a good sign. The question is: can he keep it up, over and over and over again against the top competition? Can he, within a single match, put disappointment behind him and begin again? Can he, within a single match, put temporary triumph behind him, and begin again? Can he, in a tight match with the best, hold his nerve at the death?

These are the questions, imo, which remain to be answered. Personally, I hope they are answered in the affirmative.

b.t.w., the “common problems with his first serve” – you can’t just casually brush this aside. This is potentially one of the game’s great servers. Why, then, has this singularly talented man not got to grips with the problem?

Agree that Murray should go far at RG.


grendel Says:

jane – very neatly put about Federer. You say in couple of lines what I struggle to in a couple of paragraphs. Not sure about slamS, though. I do think it’s Wimbledon. Anything else is a hell of a long shot.

About Wallace – I gather it’s largely about boredom – being in a state of which Wallace seems to see as the default position of contemporary urban society. Heroism is seen as the refusal to seek distractions from it. Readers are advised, by one sympathetic reviewer, to take the book in small doses….


margot Says:

grendel re “Spiral” have realised that my main problem with it is, every damn one of them seems driven by the dictum that the end justifies the means. Therefore, I can’t like ANY of’em. Major prob for me. Did u c “Burn After Reading”? Hated it, for same reason.
re our exports, well surprisingly enough we do still make stuff but a major, major earner is, what I’d loosely term “The Arts” music, fashion, film, animation, TV progs. etc. Brings in billions. Completely unrecognised by this lot who, no doubt, believe only the city creates dosh :(
Yes, Andy is such an enigma and it’s so frustrating for a fan peering through the fog because beneath it is this amazing, delightful, tennis “genius” as the commentators rather gratifyingly referred to him on Saturday. Of course the big question mark is as u say. One travels hopefully however…..


Colin Says:

I’ll post here because this thread still seems to be alive.
At the moment (Tuesday morning) the latest on Andy is that he had the scan and is testing the elbow this morning before deciding whether to play in Barcelona. In a way I hope he takes a rest, because arm problems are so serious in tennis, and look how long he was out previously with an injured wrist.
By the way, something that struck me in that match with Rafa: Andy’s much-criticised forehand seems to work pretty well on clay, where sheer straight line speed on the ball isn’t everything.


Colin Says:

Yep, Andy’s withdrawn from Barcelona.

Top story: Andy Murray Broke Down In Tears After Receiving The Freedom Of Stirling [Video]
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