Del Potro Injured Again, Djokovic Sails, Federer v. Soderling Friday in Madrid
by Sean Randall | May 6th, 2011, 12:35 am

The blockbuster match of the week between Juan Martin Del Potro and Rafael Nadal never lived up to the hype. In fact, it never even took the court as just hours before the encounter the oft-frail Del Potro withdrew citing a hip injury.

“I just think that I’m not in a good condition to play and I’m sorry for the tournament, for the people, for Rafa,” Del Potro said. “I want to play as soon as I can and it would be a very nice match for me to play today. I really feel sad for that. It’s a nice tournament, nice people here, nice fans but I can’t.”

The Argentine said he suffered the injury during Estoril last weekend, but gave it a go in Madrid. Now, after winning seven straight matches on the clay, he’ll head back to Buenos Aires in hopes of returning for the French Open. Let’s hope!

“Hopefully I will be ready to play Nice and the French Open and everything but my leg comes first and I want to be in good health,” added Del Potro who sounds keen on returning in 10 days for Nice (which is nice)!

As for Nadal, his “terrible” draw just got a whole lot easier. Tomorrow, Nadal will try to stretch his clay win streak to 36 against the aggressive Michael Llodra. And then he’ll be favored again on Saturday in a semifinal against either Robin Soderling or Roger Federer.

Robin and Roger collide for the first time on clay since Soderling stunned the Swiss at the French a year ago. That was Soderling’s lone win in now 16 meetings against the Fed. But this time both players come in ragged and not in the best of form. It’s a tough match to call but I might lean to Soderling to deliver the knockout punch.

Soderling also had a nice win today over JW Tsonga while Federer wasn’t that sharp in a straight set 6-4, 6-4 victory over Xavier Malisse.

In the bottom half of the draw, Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer will hook up tomorrow in a good one. Djokovic dominated Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-1, 6-2 to improve his win streak to 31, 29 of which this season equaling Ivan Lendl’s longstanding mark of match wins to start a year.

Ferrer, who hasn’t quite been himself this week, eased passed Sergei Stakhovsky 6-3, 7-6. I like Djokovic tomorrow. Too much power, too much confidence.

“[My] confidence is obviously very high and at this stage it plays an important role in my game and I’m trying to use it to continue this winning streak,” said Djokovic. “I’m taking one match at a time, focusing on my next rival and that’s very important.”

In the other quarter, it’s a battle of Toms – Tomas Berdych against Thomas Bellucci. The lefty Bellucci pulled the upset of the day sending Andy Murray packing 6-4, 6-2. I commented last week wondering where the Brazilian had gone and almost on cue he’s back.

“Tonight’s match wasn’t great,” Murray said. “I don’t feel I played particularly well. I started the match okay but I didn´t really keep that up.”

“I had to be realistic this week. I was coming back from an injury that was that serious… an elbow injury is not easy for tennis players,” Murray added.

Berdych, meanwhile, quietly disposed of Juan Monaco.

In the women’s field, Julia Gorgeous Goerges (she should just change her name to that, it’s sticking) followed up her big Stuttgart win over Caroline Wozniacki by beating the World No. 1 again! Good for her. She’ll play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarterfinals to start the day. American Bethanie Mattek-Sands had a career win upsetting French Open champ Francesca Schiavone. So who wants the women’s French Open crown? At this point who knows.

Matches are again on the Tennis Channel complemented by live online streaming via

MANOLO SANTANA start 11:45 am
J Goerges (GER) vs A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) – WTA
[4] V Azarenka (BLR) vs L Safarova (CZE) – WTA

Not Before 4:00 PM
[1] R Nadal (ESP) vs M Llodra (FRA) – ATP

Not Before 7:00 PM
[3] R Federer (SUI) vs [5] R Soderling (SWE) – ATP
[6] D Ferrer (ESP) vs [2] N Djokovic (SRB) – ATP

[7] T Berdych (CZE) vs T Bellucci (BRA) – ATP

Not Before 4:00 PM
[6] N Li (CHN) vs B Mattek-Sands (USA) – WTA

Not Before 6:00 PM
D Cibulkova (SVK) vs [16] P Kvitova (CZE) – WTA
[6] M Llodra (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs [2] M Mirnyi (BLR) / D Nestor (CAN) – ATP

You Might Like:
Juan Martin Del Potro: My Left Knee Is A “Constant Bother”, But I Try Not To Think About It
Del Potro, Soderling, Sharapova Withdraw From Tournaments
Del Potro, Clijsters Confirm French Open Participation; Roddick Questionable
Soderling v. Del Potro in Heavyweight Estoril Battle; Djokovic Eyes No. 28
Nadal vs. Soderling French Final After Fade by Berdych

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100 Comments for Del Potro Injured Again, Djokovic Sails, Federer v. Soderling Friday in Madrid

M Says:

Much as I’m disappointed the match won’t take place, I’m relieved that Polito is putting his health first. Get better soon, Polito!

Rafa will play Llodra, and Roger will (hopefully) fizz the Soda.

(Speaking of injury comebacks, does anyone know if Feña Gonzalez plans to play in Rome?)

pigirl1 Says:

I think Soderling stunned Federer at the French last year, not two years ago?

Sean Randall Says:

Corrected. Thanks.

Rick Says:

hehehe, Del Potro is too afriad to play Nadal on clay. So he suddenly has a stomache. He was fine the other day!

Skeezerweezer Says:

@ rick

Take your scumbag worthless comments to tennis, post there, you might have an audience.

Rick Says:

hehehe, you’re an audience aren’t ya? So you’re a Scumbag!

oop Says:

i hope Federer will pull through..he didnt play well the first two games…so neither did Soda!!!

madmax Says:

Hi Skeeze,

Sean, I too thought that Fed was not playing his usually high standard of tennis. But having watched the matches again, rather than federer having played really badly against Lopez – he didn’t! He played really, REALLY well. Let’s look at it the other way. Lopez played the match of his life against Federer. He has never played like that aganst fed and he has always been regarded as a ‘very good’ player on clay. Lopez was incredible. I’ve never seen him play so well.

Malisse again hit some pretty awesome shots against fed yesterday. Serving was excellent but his movement (malisse), was not as good. He simply is not a twinkle toes on the court, whereas fed is. Having said that, Federer did miss a few shots that he shouldn’t have and malisse came out with more winners at the end of the match than fed. Fed’s serve was clinical and his second serve was simply excellent. This is where he outclassed his opponent and this is where he should be given some credit. Fed looked VERY sharp here sean. By no means was he ‘way off’. This is only his 5th match on clay this season. Compare that to Lopez’ 10th match on clay. When you look at it this way, Fed still beat Lopez and Malisse (who is a solid clay courter). Things are heading in the right direction.

I don’t think there is any federer fan who would put fed further than a Semi final in madrid. Oh that would be nice. But I like the fact that Fed is open minded, willing to work hard and still happy to compete. You don’t see him complaining about his draw. He just gets on with it and was very complimentary to both Lopez and Malisse in his off court interviews.

Excellent in fact. Federer has learnt a lot from his losses last year.

Next match is soderling. He’ll see it as a tough match, but I always feel that if roger plays before rafa, he is more concentrated and focussed. This time he plays after rafa and llodra, so whoever wins (!), that’s going to be on roger’s mind when he goes on court to play robin.

I just want him to win! but will roger be thinking too far ahead to the weekend?

We shall see.

SerbJoker Says:

JMDP chickens out !!!!
GOAT will get eaten by the beast !!!
Nole is the only hope !!!

Kimmi Says:

great win julia… to her first master series semi. what a run she is having!!

joan moore Says:

Federer beat Soderling at the US Open QFs last September.

grendel Says:

The Berdychs both in a spot of bother. Sad about the missus, nothing against mister – but, prospect of Bellucci/Djokovic salivates, Berdych/Djokovic somehow doesn’t.

grendel Says:

Kimmi – F.Gonzalez got wild card for Prague challenger and beat top seed Chardy. But. Dimitrov fell to one Bloemke whoever he may be being handed a bagel in last set. Oooh. D’you know, Safarova was playing in that tournament – how, since she’s in Madrid? Got a ghost sister? Well, she won a round or two, and then withdrew apparently. Popped over to madrid. strange goings on.

grendel Says:

well, the missus part of the pairing still alive, taken a set off Azarenka, with serve in the 3rd. But Berdych falls. Bellucci looking fairly imperious.
Petchey reckons that in these conditions, if Llodra plays at his best, he could trouble Nadal. Ha. makes it all the more annoying that delPo didn’t make it. For there are those who trouble but lose and always look like losing. Whereas there are those who, when they trouble, tend to win. Delpo belongs to this happy breed…

queen Says:

What a walk in the park for my fav today:)

I think they call Delpo ‘Palito’ and not ‘Polito’? Check the meaning in the spanish dictionary. It makes more sense than ‘Polito’ lol

jane Says:

Great win for Bellucci! Didn’t see the match, but two top tenners in a row. If Nole gets past Ferrer, he will have his hands full with *this* Bellucci. They have played once before, on clay last year. Nole won 6-4, 6-4, but that”s a tight scoreline. Both are playing much better this year ao it could be a cracker. Wow, anyow. Huge run for him at a Masters. Two break out players: him and Gorgeous.

I guess Petchy was wrong about Llorda troubling Rafa, ha ha.

dari Says:

The “Berdychs”, grendel? That’s cute. Until you said “missus” I thought you meant filial relation.
I didn’t see bellucci match, but Congrats to him. Semis in a masters is big time. Wish he were on the other side of the draw.
Ah, guga…

madmax Says:

good luck to roger tonight. More confidence in this match please Roger so we can celebrate a win!!!!

C’mon!!!! (don’t want any tie breaks!).

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Wow, great match. Some excellent, entertaining tennis, and a real battle.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Great performance by Fed. By the second set he was really clicking against an in-form Sod, showing incredible variety, great defense and ability to handle pace. He should be able to put up a fight tomorrow.

The fighter Says:

Bring on Fedal!!!!!!

Skeezerweezer Says:

Fed is now 16-1 over the 5th ranked player since 2010, now that is a h2h knockout. Congrats to the “ole man”, still has some mojo left. Next up, “da beast”.

Go Fed!

grendel Says:

Tennis Vagabond – agree, fine performance from Fed, suggesting tomorrow could be a decent contest.

jane Says:

Good win by Fed. At first he wasn’t returning any of Soda’s first serves but he got better at that late in the first set and that really helped turn things around (coupled with an approximate 10% drop in Soda’s first serve percentage). Fed might’ve converted a few more bps too, but Soda contested well. Here in Madrid Fed has battled through some fine opponents and has been tested. Thus, I too think he will be a tougher out for Rafa tomorrow than he was at IW. Looking forward to it!

jane Says:

Ferrer is looking like the second best clay courter so far this year; he is keeping this very close with Nole. Nole’s streak could end today.

Duro Says:

Watching, Jane, watching…

Of course it won’t end today.

jane Says:

Long lost Duro!! Hello! :)) Hope you are right, always love your optimism. Nole has picked up his serving since the beginning of the match hasn’t he? Come on Nole!

Duro Says:

Of course I’m right, Canadian girl…

You doubt me?

jane Says:

Yay early break in the second set. Duro your confidence mirrors Noles. ;)

jane Says:

Ferrer fighting hard for the break back, but Nole holds him off for now.

jane Says:

This time it looks like Ferrer will get it. love-40.

sar Says:

Nole must win to break record! I like Ferrer but not today.

jane Says:

Ack, Ferrer is coming back – breaks back and consolidates it easily. He doesn’t allow one poor serving game; he is so tenacious, like a mini-Rafa. cheer loudly sar!

Miki Says:

Haha Jane, mini-Rafa :)….or you could also say demo-version of Rafa :)….that ankle twist by Novak looked scary a little bit but I guess he is fine.

skeezerweezer Says:

mini Rafa hahahaa jane good one….mini me? lol.

jane I’ve never seen you so excited…good to see..but me thinks you’ll need a dirty grey martini after this match….

sar Says:

Jane: I am cheering in the house and no one can hear me. No third set. Come on.

jane Says:

skeezer, my son has a playdate after school so can’t very well be three sheets to the wind when they arrive can I?

ARRRRRGH – mini-Rafa has deuce. come on Nole, please hold. please please please.

jane Says:


sar Says:

I think Novak will win this.

jane Says:

sar, hope there is no third set as the crowd will get into heavily into it. They will want an all Spanish final: win-win then, no?

Kimmi Says:

wow! ferrer fighting. not so many people have won a set frm nole!

sar Says:

The crowd was kind of rude and organizers were anti Nole when they put him on court Arantxa yesterday. Announcers earlier were mentioning that they sort of screwed Nole that way and wondered if it bothered him.

contador Says:

okay, i said to myself, time to go read some Duro on tennis-x!!

Duro, i don’t want ferrer breaking nole’s streak! my head is pounding

Kimmi Says:

thought it would be easy for nole, this match seem to be tough..

ferrer with big serve there…where does he get that?

Nole needs to be more aggressive

grendel Says:

i thought it was kind of a master class from Djokovic, he seemed to be playing well within himself and quietly controlling the match. Then the ankle tweak, and everything changed. Ferrer has grown in confidence, richly deserved the 2nd set – he has, since 2-2, been the one with the imaginative shots, the better control, the better return, and he has got the most out of a limited serve.

From the point of view of the anti-Nadal camp, all very depressing. We know Ferrer can’t beat Nadal on clay, but we thought maybe Djokovic could. He’ll have to improve greatly from his second set performance if we are still to think so.

jane Says:

Where are those people who said Nole would win easily?? Nole doesn’t match up well with Ferrer on clay and hasn’t ever beaten him on this surface. He has home court advantage and he has been the second best clay courter this year. This is a really tough match for Nole and I *knew* it would be.

Looking like another Nadal vs. Ferrer final – UNLESS: Nole wins the third set; Fed beats Rafa; or Bellucci beats Ferrer.

contador Says:

it’s a bit like davy a couple years ago turning up with a good serve, Kimmi. i’ve noticed it for awhile now. he had it in acapulco when he beat almagro.

nole needs his serve. c’mon

contador Says:

i didn’t think this would be an easy match-up, jane. i almost picked ferrer. my head said ferrer.

but i couldn’t stand the thought of nole’s streak ending with ferrer nor another ferrer-nadal final.

Kimmi Says:

ok, have my hand up..i thought will be easy.

every point is a fight! nole is in the final in my bracket. save me nole!

Kimmi Says:

without jinxing! i still think nole has more variety therefore should prevail.

Kimmi Says:

break! great FH there!

Kimmi Says:

maybe he should run around his backhand more…

sar Says:

Good, he shut them up

contador Says:

yes, nole has more variety. but it has made me nervous when he gets in those long rallies. when he mixes it up a little he wins the point. ferrer is going to fight every point.

but i love how nole isn’t letting the crowd get to him.

c’mon hold your serve. ferrer attacks the 2nd serve.

dari Says:

Novak should get a second job painting lines

Kimmi Says:

much better. he needs to be more aggressive if he gets to play rafa.

congrats to nole for an amazing winning streak.

jane Says:

Nole, your heart! My heart! Phew – I am so happy. Nole has now surpassed a legend’s record in one little category, and that’s really what I wanted to see.

Kudos to Daveeed. But man he put me through the wringer today!!!

dari Says:

3rd best start of the year streak in.history for novak!
Congratulations to him and his fans!

sar Says:

Well he did it, hard work but he did it. Next Belucci.

Kimmi Says:

at least i was correct on the end result.

contador Says:

: ) : ) : ) happiness.

jane Says:

Kimmi, lol ^ Yeah, you were. I wasn’t sure about the end result, but I knew it’d be a tough match. That much my gut told me. I am so happy he is now sandwiched ahead of Lendl and behind Borg and Mac. His streak has been so amazing; he deserves that.

jane Says:

p.s. I know it’s crumbs compared to what Fed and Rafa have achieved but Nole has carved himself a spot. :)

sar Says:

Nole has to go through the whole Spanish armada to win. LOL

Kimmi Says:

wow! commentators are saying it is a rafa nole final..they don’t give fed even a chance :(

Kimmi Says:

yeah jane, federer and rafa have done amazing things but they never had such a winning streak.
what nole needs to do now is win on sunday..then my bracket will be happy.

tfouto Says:

actually its a Federer-Bellucci final… anyone wanna bet?

dari Says:

tfoouto- yesssss!

grendel Says:

Huge roar from Djokovic when he won – the roar of release, you might say. It was strange to see Ferrer completely outplaying Djokovic. Even in the 3rd, Djokovic did not look at ease until he broke – then he had that eager look which told it all. And Ferrer had shot his bolt.

Quite a compelling scrap. Ferrer definitely won the battle of the returns and, surprisingly, on the whole his drops were better conceived and also executed. Djokovic’s 2nd serve was rather weak, and he paid. God knows what Nadal will do to it. But perhaps this was an off day.

Of course in the end, Djokovic just had too many weapons for the gallant scrapper. The fact that Djokovic had not beaten Ferrer on clay before is not nearly so compelling a fact as it might appear. For one thing, Madrid is absolutely a-typical when it comes to clay – and Djokovic very prudently avoided Monte Carlo. For another, this is, after all, the mature Djokovic, the best player in the world this year. Djokovic was certainly a strong favourite on this particular clay surface – and when he got his act together, you could see why.

But Djokovic winning a tricky tussle – that will probably give him confidence in the end. Assuming he gets to the final, look to him to play quite a bit better. He’ll need to, that’s for sure.

Duro Says:


Always tough with this grinder David guy…
He won’t let go no matter what. Like a pit-bull terrier…

Nole lost all three clay matches to him until now, but it wasn’t as much indicative as it looked like. First one was when Nole was 17, second – 2007 Monte Carlo and last one in Spain, Davis Cup 2009, strait from the hard court onto clay against a typical clay court player in his home country…

Anyhow, a great burden off Nole’s back… Records and streaks and everything… He did it and I expect him to relax now and to play better. If he dispatches Belluchi, nothing to lose against Rafa, really. He’ll play like mad.

In Novak we trust!

Kimmi Says:

tfouto – what i would like to bet that nadal calling federer a favorite for tomorrow match!!

Duro Says:

And sorry for not counting Fed. But only judging from his current form and his opponent. Of course, he has a chance. So, apologies to my Fed fans friends.

grendel Says:

Kvitova beat Cibulkova 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. I bet that was one helluva fun match. Those two are something else. Haven’t checked on the draw – does Kvitova now play Georges? That should be great, too. After being a bit in the doldrums – think of all the sneers we’ve seen on this site – womens’ tennis really picking up. Got that element of the unpredictable now, which – erhem – used to be a feature of men’s, until….

Kimmi Says:

gendel – goerges plays azarenka and kvitova plays Li Na. they should be good matches.

Go julia!

tfouto Says:

Nadal wants to take off some pression of his back… I know that everyone expects Nadal-Djoko final, but Belluci is playing really, really well. Djoko will have to play better tomorrow. Of course i dont know if Bellucci will have the mindset tomorrow, and dont choke. But if he played like today and yesterday it will be a hell of a game…

Nadal might be favourite against Federer, but i would not rule Federer out…

Sean have ruled out Federer on this tournment long time ago, by Raonic i presume… maybe Fed will suprise Sean and someone else…

contador Says:

thanks grendel,

always appreciate your post-match comments. saw the same things you did this time. you have a way of describing them so well.

it would surprise me if bellucci had the composure to bring his best tennis to a masters 1000 semi-final, his 1st.

good win for federer over soderling. poor soda. his h2h over federer is dismal. i thought he might play with more confidence, since he beat federer on clay last year. but no.

no comment on FEDAL semi.

and i doubt nole can stop rafa. but i hope he can make it competitive.

jane Says:

grendel: how do you deduce this? ” Ferrer definitely won the battle of the returns”. Ferrer won 23% on first serves and 59% on second serves. Nole won 38% on first serves – that’s 15% better; and he won 57% on second serves – only 2% less, basically equal. No, Nole won the battle of the returns. And rightly so, considering he is tops in that category in basically all areas. Only Rafa tops him in first serve returns, but Nole is tops in all other areas.

Don’t know about Bellucci: he beat Murray and Berdych so he’s on a roll with nothing to lose. Not sure what to think there. But I don’t think the Nole I saw today can beat Nadal on clay, assuming Nadal can get past a battle-tested Federer.

sar Says:

Nice analysis Grendel. I will be happy if he beats Belucci.

jane Says:

True, though, grendel that Nole was paying on the second serve. His first serves were confident and he won most of those points, but he won only 41% of second serve points. Mind you Ferrer is an excellent returner too, so that is bound to be the case in some ways. Sheesh, why can’t Ferrer play Rafa so closely I wonder. He was really so tough to get past today. Reminded me of his run to the semis at the AO, and even how hard he played Murray in the semis there. Wow. Just glad Nole is through.

grendel Says:

jane – I deduce it by looking at the match, not going to stats which border on the meaningless, since they cannot be measured. Ferrer was returning Djokovic’s serve, Djokovic was returning Ferrer’s serve – that’s the key. Of course that said, my impression may be wrong. I’m sticking with it, though. I’ve seen Djokovic return really well against much better servers than Ferrer, he didn’t (imo) do it today. Some of Ferrer’s returns were spectacular.

jane Says:

Okay, grendel. I don’t think stats border on meaningless, but I think it’s definitely worthwhile to put them into context of the match. I watched the match too, at times through the cracks in my fingers shielding my eyes mind you, and to me Nole was better on the first serve return, and Ferrer on the second serve return. I think Nole’s returns get overlooked sometimes because we expect them from him, or I do anyhow.

grendel Says:

no, “border on the meaningless” is much too strong. Me in argumentative mode. But you know the expression “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” – I think it’s apt here, because there is a tendency to think that a whole array of figures intantly tells a story, and this is rarely the case. The figures have to be interpreted, and that may not be easy.

Fritz Says:

Congrats to Novak! Showed real maturity, I wish Andy starts doing that. It’s a matter of time though.

Similar to how amazed I am with Novak’s game, I’m compelled to declare my amazement with Jane’s pesimism. Nothing personal and please, please do not get me wrong but it is amazing indeed – could be even clinical condition ;-)

I once compared it to Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh series, which may be an overkill, but it sure is close to it.

Some of Jane’s comment during the match:

Begining: “Ferrer is looking like the second best clay courter so far this year; he is keeping this very close with Nole.”

Middle: “Looking like another Nadal vs. Ferrer final”

End: “Don’t know about Bellucci: he beat Murray and Berdych so he’s on a roll with nothing to lose. Not sure what to think there. But I don’t think the Nole I saw today can beat Nadal on clay, assuming Nadal can get past a battle-tested Federer.”

And this is all regarding a guy that DID NOT lose a single match this year regardless of surface!!! What would I (or margot) have to say prior to Andy’s matches following this logic – something like: “I don’t think Andy will finish this year in Top 100.” lol

I know Jane is a true fan of Novak and really there is no malice in my comments towards anyone, just tried to share a sentiment that made me chuckle tonight. :)

jane Says:

True, and we all interpet a little differently.

Bellucci is 23! I thought he was younger for some reason but he is close to Nole and Murray’s generation. He said this after today’s match so he is feeling confident and is playing with nothing to lose and all to gain: “I have got even more confidence for tomorrow’s match,” “I’ve got to face the match shot after shot and ball after ball so if I continue down this path I think I’m going to do well. I think I can beat any player.”

Kimmi Says:

even though i pick nadal and nole to win. I am cheering for bellucci and fed. hope they do the unexpected!!

jane Says:

Fritz, you forgot these quotes. :)

Beginning: “Nole has picked up his serving since the beginning of the match hasn’t he? Come on Nole!”

Middle: Yay early break in the second set. Ferrer fighting hard for the break back, but Nole holds him off for now.

Near the end: Looking like another Nadal vs. Ferrer final – UNLESS: Nole wins the third set.

Never counted him out – always hoped. Cautiously , yes, but I was in there for the count, along with Nole.

jane Says:

P.s, Fritz, I said I don’t think the Nole *I saw today* can beat Rafa on clay, and several other posters echoed or even stated the same before me. He wasnt at his best today, as other posters also point out. As for what I said about Bellucci, that’s all true. He is on a roll, taking out two top ten players already, and he is confident. But I still hope Nole can win.

Nina Says:

I’m with Fritz here, you’re possible the most pessimistic nole fan here, jane. Not just today, but almost always, lol. I would give you a hug if I could. :)

I think we have to draw the positives from this match. People seem to forget the tough conditions that Nole and Ferru played in today. Strong wind affects mostly the aggressive player that goes for the shots, ie. Nole. So he was more passive than usual, making sure not to make more UEs than needed. That affected his game negatively for a while. But despite his mental walkaway in the second set, he was pretty solid in those conditions and took out his best game in the third when it mattered. That’s what champions do. He has a good chance of beating Bellucci and Nadal too. Said that, I’d give Federer the benefit of the doubt. His win over Soderling might have given him some confidence boost and he seems to play much better than last days. Rafa won’t have it easy.

jane Says:

Sorry Nina. Thanks for the “hug” comment :). I will try to keep my thoughts during his matches to myself or at least to a minimum. I do get very nervous, it is true, and I probably posted too much today. I respect your views as I know you are a big Nole fan too. Anyhow, ttul.

jane Says:

BTW, Nina, just wanted to say, great points you made about the wind. Noticed it during the Fed v Soda match too.

Fritz Says:

Jane, as I said nothing personal, and you are among the posters that I respect and enjoy reading on this site. It can always be seen from your comments that you support Novak thouroughly, but a little bit of extra faith in a guy who is 30 – love for a year is warranted from any realistic person/fan.

I say thinking that Ferrer is the second best clay courter this year was unrealistic for Novak’s fan (Novak showed clearly today that Ferrer is third at best).

Heck, I think that Andy is the third best clay courter this year and he’ll prove it at RG.

Eric Says:

I don’t think Roger has a whole lot of a chance against Rafa tomorrow. In the plus column for him is that he’s come through in clutch moments a few times this week.

In the minus column is that pesky 2-10 clay record, the fact that no one has bothered to show up against Rafa for weeks*, and the fact that his play this year has mostly been about getting into long baseline rallies, which he is barely dominating even against average players.

That said, you guys who are writing Federer off (Ferrer, Murray, Djokovic all better than Fed on clay this year? Let’s see it when any of them beat him) are jumping the gun. He could give Nadal serious problems tomorrow – honestly, I would be surprised if he won a set, but if he actually shows up with mental focus and drive he could really hand it to Nadal. Their Madrid record is 1-1, after all.

* I think Rafa actually had about as tough a draw as possible here. You guys who were saying otherwise are crazy — what do you want, Murray in the first round, Soderling in the second, Ferrer in the third and Fed in the fourth before he gets to face the holy Djokovic?

Baggy and even Delpo are still dangerous floaters, outside the realm of getting seeds at some tournaments but capable of beating anyone in the top 10 on a good day. (Especially Delpo, of course)

Baghdatis, Del Potro, and Melzer all could have given Nadal serious trouble. It turned out otherwise — Baggy couldn’t muster anything, Delpo wimped out with a “hip injury” that didn’t stop him from bageling Cilic in his last set (ok, ok, I’m sure it acted up the following day or something, I am just bitter), and Melzer couldn’t hack it against whatever C-list player he had in his first match.

Eric Says:

And, most of all, if Roger can’t close the deal when he has double set points against Soda, he’s not going to get it done against Rafa either.

sar Says:

If he beats Nadal here it will be three successive finals and a first on clay so he will go all out to try to win.

grendel Says:

contador – the wind didn’t help Soderling, whilst Federer always seems to handle such conditions almost as if they aren’t there. Did you notice how testy Soderling was in the latter stages? In a way, that’s a good sign. He used to give the impression of putting on a good show before yielding gracefully. Now he seems to feel he should win, though whether he believes that is another matter. He kept urging himself on to focus. I guess that’s a good thing, though someone who focuses instinctively maybe doesn’t need to do that. But the restraint he showed was impressive if not quite believable. And sure enough, he did a Roddick with the umpire, though his version is more smouldering than angry.

I don’t like Fedal matches, like you, in my case because I am a bad loser. I can only be objective – sort of – if I am thoroughly convinced Nadal will win and win easily. Then I can take a kind of gloomy relish in Federer falling apart, as if this is merely typical of the kind of universe we live in, the general tendency to disorder and collapse and so on. However, if Federer suddenly starts playing well, matching Nadal for a bit, hope (that treacherous agent of the heart) is resurgent, tension rises to dispel the sardonic sense of futility, but naturally the dawn proves false. But the barrier has been broken and it is too late for me. The defensive mood shattered, I go into full anger mode, and anyone around leaves the room, the house, the neighbourhood, possibly the world.

Such moods are, if possible, to be avoided, hence: don’t watch the match. I used to tape them – if Federer won, one could watch the video at leisure, gloatingly, with plenty of re-windings whilst politely noting an excellent shot by Nadal. Oh, on such occasions, one is the epitome of the good sport, anxious to point out Federer’s failings and condoling with any Nadal fan in the vicinity in a subtle way, designed to assuage his feelings and altogether avoiding condescension. Perhaps not altogether. However, since Nadal tends to win these matches – and of course it is unthinkable to watch them then on tape – you end up deleting them from the planner. Seems kind of a pointless exercise.

Sometimes when I am in self-flagellating mode, or even in one of those vague spiritual moods in which vague considerations of self-improvement are floating around, I decide to test myself. I sit down in front of the television, innocent face like a choir boy, and settle down to watch a tennis match (only a game) between the two greats. Somewhere at the back of my mind I sense an invisible psychologist, stop watch in hand. She (it’s usually a “she” for some reason, white coat and glasses))is waiting for the explosion and cleverly monitoring certain tell-tale signs. She records these on a graph.

Is all this nuts, funny farm stuff? Oh, absolutely. But what can you do? Meanwhile, I look forward to the Bellucci/Djokovic match. Should be reasonably tension free. Although there is the following silly business, since naturally there is always some fly in the ointment. I would like Bellucci to win because I prefer his tennis to Djokovic’s. And besides, relatively new face and so on. On the other hand, I would like Djokovic to win, because he has a shot of beating Nadal whilst Bellucci doesn’t, really. So I sit watching the match in full schizoid mode. I applaud a Bellucci special, deriving real pleasure from that effortless power whilst at the same time lamenting the fact that if Djokovic is to beat Nadal, he absolutely has to deal better with those whipped lefty forehands.

Conflict everywhere.

Where can a man find peace?

contador Says:

grendel, two challenging ”real world” days has me opening another bottle of wine and i’m nearly into the “do not post when i’m toast zone.” but your humor, take on life, and musings make me giggle….

i say i am adamantly against watching the most dreaded fedal of all, a clay fedal. but no. that’s not quite right. a wimbledon fedal tortures my soul. please, spare me.

but before i read your post, i was already considering my “bad loser” attitude about watching the clay fedal because it is: 1) only a tennis match and i shouldn’t be so attached to any outcome 2) it has the possibility of being either comically bad, in which case, i may be able to laugh this time. i don’t know these things until i try it.

the worst case is a slow burning at the stake over 3 sets. if federer puts his all into it and loses…there is no humor, only distress.

yes i did notice soderling getting testy. he doesn’t convert anger into winning. the best example of that ability is madal, nadal, who is even more dangerous when angry. as to soderling, i’ve seen a shortening of the fuse and it’s not for the best.

bellucci – nole semi: i’ll try very hard to watch- may need to go out on a call by then. but i don’t think bellucci can make a match of it. a nadal -bellucci final sounds like rafa’s lucky day. i’ll only believe rafa can lose on clay when i see it. healthy skepticism, i say, not pessimism.

cheer for nole, is my conclusion, with no mixed feelings.

and i think nole has the experience v rafa. that match-up has me most interested. will nole be able to pull out his best tennis on clay?

as to where to find peace? ha! i’d be very wealthy if i had a good idea on that. the news in the real world is so depressing that usually a simple luxury of hearing a tennis ball well-struck does it for me. but the Giro d’ Italia begins tomorrow. it is the 2nd biggest cycling tour, you might already know. i love the scenery always included. only the tour de france is bigger and more majestic. they are both marathon tests of human endurance on all levels. and the italians, who design the daily stages, have outdone themselves by including the most treacherous mountain stages yet. if it’s rainy, descents will be thrilling and the crashes and pile ups will be spectacular. and, the best news, alberto contador is in the race!

oops, off topic….

vamos contador!

jane Says:

Well since contador went off topic…My “where to find peace?” equals LIVE music, which is pure visceral abandon and joy, if only for a little while. After all, peace is ephemeral. Oops, is that too pessimistic? Nah, history has proven it. Back to my wine… Will keep mum on the matches. Just, may the best..,

contador Says:

have to correct myself. wealth does not mean peace at all. i think it’s impossible to find peace of mind all the time and the formula would be different for each of us. maybe the dalai lama would know? i dunno.

i think that was a rhetorical question, anyway. : )

have a good evening, jane and grendel. and don’t forget to fill out the bracket picks for rome. it’s exciting again cos we won’t know who makes it through qualies or where they go! we won’t even know who wins the final in madrid.

Nims Says:

It’s all working out very well for Nadal. In the recent past, when Roger had a good match, he came up with a very ordinary game in the next match. Looks like it’s due in the semi. Also the match schedule favours Nadal. It’s a early start. Roger had to play a late match y’day and Rafa the earlier one, along with the rest he had in the tournament with the withdrawal. Expect a one sided match tomorrow.

SerbJoker Says:


Roger need not play poorly to lose to Rafa. Even at his very best he comes up short against Rafa. Rafa can lose it only if he is not at his best, the match is his to lose.

Nole is the only who can challenge Rafa at his best, but not sure about that on clay.

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