Can Del Potro Knock Down Nadal in Madrid? F-Lo Chokes to Federer
by Sean Randall | May 4th, 2011
  • 23 Comments

How many times do you think Feliciano Lopez has already thought about that missed overhead in the third set tiebreak? If you didn’t see it, Lopez, who had never beaten Roger Federer in seven previous tries, was in control leading the Swiss 5-2 in the final set tiebreak when the Spaniard was presented with an absolutely gimmie overhead smash. But instead of putting the ball away and going up 6-2 and four match points, Lopez somehow completely missed the court – looked like even the doubles alley – given Federer the point on the horrendous more.

A smiling Lopez still led 5-3 but in the game of tennis such leads can be deceiving especially after such a gaff. And Federer, the champion that he is, pounced on the opportunity by winning seven of the last nine points (he did save match point at 7-6) in the break to turn away Lopez 7-6(13), 6-7(1), 7-6(7).

“I could have lost, so I’m obviously relieved to have come through this one,” Federer said. “It was a tough match and a nailbiter really from start to finish, so it’s nice to play those sorts of matches.”

Could have lost? More like should have lost. Lopez will be having nightmares about that miss for many, many months. Though the lefty is putting some of the blame on the conditions.

“Maybe that was the key because if not, I would have been up 6-2 and I´d have had the match in my hand but it was a really high ball and I couldn’t see it and with the conditions on the court it wasn’t really clear for me but the ball went three meters out and because I couldn’t see the ball,” explained Lopez.

“Obviously if I had won that point it would have been very complicated for him because I would have had four match points and I think there were other moments,” he added. “I think that today on the big points, he played really good. I have probably only made one error, that ball we were talking about.”

Yup, just one really, really nad error. And in a microcosm we saw why Lopez is…well, Lopez. And Federer is Federer. It’s worth repeating, at the highest levels the pros have all the shots it comes to between the ears and in that respect Lopez again came up short.

Still, you have to credit Federer for pulling out a tough match. On a faster clay court Lopez can be tricky like he was today, but Federer has to be much sharper if he wants to win a third Madrid title. Fortunately for the Swiss, tomorrow he should get a breather against Xavier Malisse before another tough test on Friday.

Fed’s main rival Rafael Nadal has no such luck on Thursday. Rafa plays arguably the third best player this season, the rapidly rising Juan Martin Del Potro. After winning Estoril and surviving a three-setter against Mikhail Youhzny, Delpo showed no signs of fatigue in demolishing Marin Cilic losing just three games.

And as I wrote last week, Delpo’s one of the few guys on the tour that can really hurt and beat Nadal on clay (Novak Djokovic the other).

Nadal leads Delpo 5-3 and beat him at the 2007 French in their only clay meeting. But on a faster clay court with the altitude Delpo can really give Nadal problems especially if Rafa’s leaving the ball short. That said, I still think Nadal comes through this one but I do expect a good, tight match.

“He has a lot of control of the ball,” said Nadal after hammering Marcos Baghdatis. “If I manage to get him moving and to make him feel uncomfortable then I can hurt him. It’s quite difficult to manage this because he’s very tall and from the very back he can hit very good shots but it’s true that I am in good form recently.”

Rafa has won his last 35 matches on clay. Del Potro has won his last nine matches on the dirt.

“I hope I can go out and win the match without many speculations and hopefully in some moment of my career I will beat him on clay,” Del Potro said. “I’ve never been capable of beating him on clay and let’s see if it’s tomorrow, but let me repeat that its against the No. 1 in the world and he’s the best without a doubt on this type of surface.”

A very loaded Thursday third round schedule also includes Novak Djokovic seeking his 31st straight win (29th of 2011 which would equal Ivan Lendl) against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Andy Murray will test Tomaz Bellucci and in two good ones, David Ferrer faces Sergei Stakhovsky and Robin Soderling collides with JW Tsonga. Tomas Berdych is also on against Juan Monaco.

The women’s event will have a big Stuttgart rematch in the third round between Caroline Wozniacki and Julie Gorgeous Georges.

Tennis Channel will again have a full day of coverage. Live streaming is available on ESPN3.com.

THURSDAY MADRID SCHEDULE

MANOLO SANTANA start 11:45 am
[1] C Wozniacki (DEN) vs J Goerges (GER) – WTA
[4] V Azarenka (BLR) vs [WC] A Parra Santonja (ESP) – WTA

Not Before 4:00 PM
[3] R Federer (SUI) vs X Malisse (BEL) – ATP

Not Before 7:00 PM
[1] R Nadal (ESP) vs J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
[6] D Ferrer (ESP) vs S Stakhovsky (UKR) – ATP

ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO start 1:30 pm
[6] N Li (CHN) vs R Vinci (ITA) – WTA

Not Before 4:00 PM
G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) vs [2] N Djokovic (SRB) – ATP
T Bellucci (BRA) vs [4] A Murray (GBR) – ATP
J Tsonga (FRA) vs [5] R Soderling (SWE) – ATP
R Gasquet (FRA) / J Tsonga (FRA) vs [2] M Mirnyi (BLR) / D Nestor (CAN) – ATP – After suitable rest


Also Check Out:
Andy Murray Withdraws From Madrid Due To A Back Injury
Nadal Chokes On Blue Dirt In Stunning Loss; Federer, Djokovic Cruise; Sharapova v Serena Friday
Djokovic a Winner in Madrid; Nadal, Roddick v. Haas Later
Azarenka, Kvitova Meet For WTA Champs Title; Del Potro, Tsonga Tangle In Vienna
Novak Djokovic Withdraws from Madrid

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23 Comments for Can Del Potro Knock Down Nadal in Madrid? F-Lo Chokes to Federer

Dc Says:

Fed wasn’t playing bad, but he wasnt playing spectacular either.
Hes been playing like a regular top 10 player. Wont be good enough to beat the nadal or the nole.


madmax Says:

Dc, perhaps. But read this:

http://espn.go.com/sports/tennis/blog/_/name/espntennis/id/6480016/read-much-fed-marathon-match

Sean,

I think you are being a bit harsh and I want to support this with some facts.

Firstly, watched the match last night. It was a brillliannnnnntttttttttt match. Lopez had played 8 clay court matches prior to madrid. That’s right. 8.

He was clay match fit and remember he took a set off the hottest player this year. Novak. To take a set off novak right now, well, you have to be a power range – and dressed in red at that – !

One of the reporters said even in Fed’s dominant years 2004-2007, he looked as if he was going to lose a final set either 7:5 or 7:6, (they were few), but they existed. It is just we tend to forget because he was just so darn good back then. Unbeatable.

So, when was the last time that fed was in a position where he had match point and lost the match? exactly 4 times last year he was in the position.

This time fed had 2 match points AGAINST him. One on Lopez’ serve and one on his serve. He saved both. This is new territory for fed Sean. They are cringeworthy moments for all federer fans, those moments where we go and ‘clean’ – right Jane?!

Fed neither buckled nor showed emotion at these points.

Great champion. check. without a doubt Lopez choked.

Fed’s aura still in place at the crucial moments for some.

And how many times have you Sean reported that ‘fed hasn’t been tested in the early rounds and then gone out in the later rounds cos he has had it too easy?’. You’ve said this many times over the last few months.

Fed HAS been tested. He isn’t match clay fit. Remember he has had more than 2 weeks off after monte carlo. There is no substitute for playing matches versus getting on the practice court.

He needs more matches under his belt.
He needs to be hitting practice balls from the Agassi’s dragon machine for 4 hours and increase that damn confidence of his that has been flagging in crucial moments.

The boy done good yesterday.

Some fantastic shots from fed yesterday. 25 aces! The most he has ever made ON A CLAY COURT. That is unheard of.

Come on Fed!


Skeezerweezer Says:

Yeah an Fed had Flo 0-40, 2-3 in the 3rd and Fed should have converted. We only sometimes want to remember what Big point FLo missed, but what critical points did Fed not capitalize on that was doable but didn’t ?

Nerves of steel prevailed…Fed had more gonads in the end…tough loss for the valiant F-lo


Colin Says:

madmax, your interpretation of stats is a little odd. When, you cry, did Fed last hold match point and lose a match? Only 4 times last year, you answer triumphantly. The great champion he used to be would not have accepted four such losses in a year as being in any way positive.


Kimmi Says:

OMG, julia the new sensation..she takes the first set 6-4

watching the match but i have to go to work now :( wozniacki started with 3 straight game. then julia too 5 straight game..amazing!

GOOOOO julia, one more set! hoping she wins!


Kimmi Says:

ah julia not with a good start in the second. 3 games in a row goes to woz


Kimmi Says:

injury time out for julia. not looking good


fern Says:

Sean:

Fed’s main rival Rafael Nadal has no such luck on Thursday. Rafa plays arguably the third best player this season, the rapidly rising Juan Martin Del Potro. After winning Estoril and surviving a three-setter against Mikhail Youhzny, Delpo showed no signs of fatigue in demolishing Marin Cilic losing just three games.

And as I wrote last week, Delpo’s one of the few guys on the tour that can really hurt and beat Nadal on clay (Novak Djokovic the other).

***************

Sean, on what do you base you assertion that Delpo is one of the few who can beat Rafa on clay? They’ve played once, and Rafa won. You go on about Delpo winning Estoril but fail to mention that Rafa also won MC and Barcelona thia year. I’m not even going to mention that Rafa’s got 14 clay Masters titles plus 6 Barcas…….how many has Delpo got?


queen Says:

Sean is just all blind shooting on your part to say that Delpo can beat Rafa. So can Djoko, Fed, Soderling, Murray on a given day. Delpo is the laest of all I think.


grendel Says:

http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/tennis/simon-reed/article/6236/

Is Stefanki a problem rather than the solution for Roddick?

Secretary for the Association of those who believe that the impact of coaches on seasoned players is greatly exaggerated and in any case such impact may be bad not good (President of said Association:Frew Macmillan).


Kimberly Says:

Ugggh! Woke up nervous already! I hope rafa can bring it!


fern Says:

Delpo has withdrawn because his hip injury.


tfouto Says:

fern do you have a link for that info?


Tom Gainey Says:

^^
Del Potro’s withdrawal


stu Says:

routine for Nole:D


stu Says:

^^ 100% 1st serve points won in the match!


jane Says:

stu – woot!!! :)

grendel thanks for posting that article on Roddick. I don’t think it has to be one way or the other, as the article kind of implies. In other words, he doesn’t have to be ALL serve and forehand and not worry about the rest, because we know that before Stefanki, the “old” way wasn’t working either. And it doesn’t have to be all tactics, fitness and percentages either. Why not a measure of both, ideally? I mean, bring back the aggression on the forehand so it’s more of a kill shot, along with his serve, and keep the increased fitness and patience when it’s needed. It seems to me that when he beat Rafa in Miami last year, he went to “Plan B”, as he called it, and he used his forehand as a weapon. And in that Wimbledon final it was a combination of skills – and not just his serve obviously – that made it such an inspiring contest. He needs to have both. I hope he doesn’t retire yet, but as the writer says, who wants to see him losing in early rounds or to quallies? Not me. I was thinking the other day when he lost that it must be a bit psychologically tough for him right now, as he is on the latter part of his tennis career and meanwhile his wife’s career is on an upward trajectory at the moment. Those kinds of things can be difficult, especially when they’re both traveling to different places and so on. Maybe it’s nothing and maybe it doesn’t bother him. But it occurred to me that it could?


jane Says:

stu, was just looking at Nole’s numbers, and not only did he win 100% of first serves, but he won 85% second serves, faced zero break points, won 77% second serve return points and 33% first serve return points. I know G-Lo was outmatched by Nole, but he is no slouch: ranked 29, he beat Wawrinka in round one and then de Bakker in round two (de Bakker beat Ferrero). Anyhow nice numbers and performance from Nole, which he will need to beat Ferrer (likely) next round. Their H2H is 4-5 for Nole, and the last time they played on clay was at DC in Spain in 2009, which Ferrer won in straights with one tiebreak. They last met on hard court in the Bejing final, which Nole won in straights.


RZ Says:

I’m so tired of these players blaming the conditions in Madrid for their losses or struggles. The conditions might be tough, but they are the same for everyone playing at the tournament.


madmax Says:

Colin Says:
madmax, your interpretation of stats is a little odd. When, you cry, did Fed last hold match point and lose a match? Only 4 times last year, you answer triumphantly. The great champion he used to be would not have accepted four such losses in a year as being in any way positive.

May 5th, 2011 at 3:54 am

Colin, COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTOOD MY POST! I’ll explain.

I made very clear that last year fed had 4 losses on match point. This is terrible news for federer fans last year. This year, he has had two match points, one on his serve (in favour of Lopez) and one one Lopez’ serve (against fed). He saved both. That has hasn’t happened in a loooonggggg time Colin. THAT is why I feel better, NOT because of all the losses last year (which of course, you are right, he should NOT have lost, but alas he did). Things were a little different this time around and that has to be a positive.

How can it not be? Would you rather it followed the trail of events from last year? I don’t think so Colin.

Changes have to be made by federer. I would hope that he is able to beat Soderling. It will be difficult. It always is now. If he reaches the SF, likely he’ll meet Rafa and we all know the situation. But SF’s in madrid is one step down from last year, but who knows?

Lucky rafa today having a walkover.


dari Says:

Madmax, Colin, when I read it, I thought it said “EXACTLY 4 times” , not “ONLY” 4 times!
Well anyway, I think fed fans have cried out for him to “tough it out” and “win dirty” and that’s what happened yesterday.
Fe-Lo gave it up with that smash, yes, but also rattled off three points in a row after that.
He also came up with a second serve ace in the 1st set breaker when he was set point down.
Hey, maybe old fed wouldnt have even gotten himself into these situations before, but at least he got himself out yesterday. :)


dari Says:

Should say FED rattled off three points…

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