Nadal, Federer Fall; Djokovic Rises Off the Mat at Cincinnati Tennis Masters
by Sean Randall | August 20th, 2011, 10:13 am
  • 109 Comments

The final combined tally for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer’s US Open Series hardcourt season: 0 titles, 0 semifinals, 5 wins, 4 losses. Are those the kind of numbers strike fear into the opposition in 10 days at the US Open?

Yesterday, the two legends of tennis crashed out of the Cincinnati Tennis Masters quarterfinals. Nadal, who had won a spotty 3-hour, 40-minute slugest over Fernando Verdasco, was never in the match against free-flowing Mardy Fish who grabbed his first career victory over the Spaniard 6-3, 6-4.

“I lost because Mardy played much better than me,” said Nadal. “I had a few chances. A little bit unlucky for moments. But that’s tennis.”

“[In New York] I have to play my game. I have to play aggressive. I have to move faster. I have to play with more intensity and less mistakes.”

And Rafa needs to get those two burnt fingers taken care of if he is to have any chance to go deep or defend at the US Open.

Bottom line, the courts just look to quick for him and he’s not serving or playing like he did last summer when he won in New York.

Fish, who’s been the second best player this summer, had never beaten Nadal in six tries until Friday.

“I played a couple nervous points, but I was pretty happy with the way I executed,” said Fish who has twice been a Cincinnati bridesmaid. “That first point or two in the last game was huge. I got a little lucky. I hit the top of the tape and maybe the side of the line on a defensive forehand crosscourt and maybe caught him off guard and he missed his slice out wide. A little bit of luck and a little bit of belief as well.”

With Nadal out, it was then Federer’s turn to restore order against Tomas Berdych. The Czech had beaten Roger in two of their last three meetings and once again Berdych’s power ruled keeping Federer on his heels. And Roger, like Nadal, was never really in the match.

“I was winning quite easily as far as games and I was able to play something more on his serve,” Berdych assessed. “It makes me more confident and then I can go more for the shots, especially on his second serve.”

After two good wins over Juan Martin Del Potro and James Blake, the loss to Berdych has to sting.

“I definitely didn’t feel like I was getting a great read on his serve today, and that definitely cost me a bit of maybe giving myself more opportunities and just getting into the rallies more on his service games, which then maybe would have allowed me to try out a few things and so forth,” said the four-time champ Federer. “I thought he served well. He played a good match. Unfortunately I didn’t play a very good tie-break, and he was better than me today.”

Luckily for Federer and Nadal, the upcoming US Open is best-of-5 otherwise you get the feeling, especially with Federer, they could both be back in Europe by Labor Day. Let’s hope Nadal can get those fingers right.

In the evening, a weary looking Novak Djokovic looked to be heading for the exit until my man Gael Monfils let him off the hook. Playing some the best tennis I’ve seen from him, Monfils took the first set and with Djokovic reeling, he was in total control of the match.

But full credit to Djokovic who rose up, wore down Monfils with a few long rallies mid-way through the second and took over the match, winning 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

“I had my chances first set, didn’t use them,” said Djokovic who is now 56-1 on the year. “I didn’t step in when I needed to. But in the middle of the second set, I started playing better. Stepped in when I needed to. It was a very physical match in the end. He struggled I think more physically. But I hung in there, and in the end it was a good win.”

Monfils once again showed that he has the game, the talent, the flair, the weapons but mentally and especially physically (he seems to have only enough fuel for two sets max of top flight tennis) he still has a lot of work to do.

For Djokovic, how much will he have left this afternoon against Berdych?

“It’s a very fast court where he plays really well this tournament. He won today against Federer quite comfortably. He was hitting the ball extremely well,” Djokovic said. “He will be aggressive, I’m sure, but it’s another big match. It’s a semi-final.”

Djokovic has won six of seven and if he’s 100% he gets the edge. But I have to think he’s feeling some fatigue and if it’s hot and having gone night to day, I’ll give a slight edge to Berdych.

In the early semifinal, Fish plays Andy Murray. Murray blew out a tired Gilles Simon and the Scot can really save his summer with a title run this weekend. Murray, though, trails Fish 4-3 in their series with Mardy winning all three last year.

“He’s played his best tennis the last year or so,” Murray said of Fish. “If you look at his game, it hasn’t changed a whole lot. It’s just confidence of winning matches and understanding how to play his game most effectively. He’s in good shape. He’s been very, very consistent, which maybe he wasn’t in the past. That’s why his ranking has gone [up].”

I think Mardy’s confidence has to be sky-high after the Nadal win and he loves the Cincinnati courts – he’s yet to drop serve. Meanwhile 2008 Cincinnati champ Murray’s been a little rusty this summer and overall he’s been disappointing in the non-Slam tournaments. So I’ll pick Mardy in an upset today.

The women’s semifinals are tonight with Maria Sharapova against Vera Zvonareva and Andrea Petkovic vs. Jelena Jankovic.

ESPN2 has complete live TV coverage starting at 1pm and again at 7pm. ESPN3.com has live streaming.

SATURDAY CINCINNATI SCHEDULE

CENTER COURT start 1:00 pm
[4] A Murray (GBR) vs [7] M Fish (USA) – ATP

Not Before 2:30 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs [8] T Berdych (CZE) – ATP

Not Before 7:00 PM
[4] [WC] M Sharapova (RUS) vs [2] V Zvonareva (RUS) – WTA
[9] A Petkovic (GER) vs [13] J Jankovic (SRB) – WTA


Also Check Out:
Bad Knees Are Still Bad, Rafael Nadal Forced Out Of Cincinnati For First Time In Career; US Open In Jeopardy?
Roger Federer Wins 8th Different Masters 1000 Title, Ties Djokovic, Moves Ahead Of Nadal
Li Na Withdraws From Summer Events Including US Open Due To Knee
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal Having a Laugh in Cincinnati [Video]
Federer, Djokovic Meet for Cincinnati Tennis Masters Title Sunday

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109 Comments for Nadal, Federer Fall; Djokovic Rises Off the Mat at Cincinnati Tennis Masters

Ike Says:

Fish who has twice been a Cincinnati bridesmaid….will be the bride this time :)
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to watch the semi between Mardy and Andy, but I am sure I will be rooting for Mardy in the finals tomorrow.
Good luck Mardy!
Btw, I am Nole fan and also root for Murry and Delpo:) But if there is any American doing good, then I am going to root for him.
Sorry Andy M, even though I still think you are capable of winning a GS (maybe this USO), I don’t think you can beat red hot Mardy today.
Tomas…you eliminated Fed yesterday, so now you have responsibility of playing great match against Nole. Give the fans worth for their money.


van orten Says:

hahahha keep on underestimating federer…come on…
dont read too much in his loss vs berdych…

he lost vs berdych who will lose easily today to novak.-.fed beat delpo who might would have crushed berdych so not fair to compare..the same with nadal..hard to imagine him losing before the semis ..but it is so easy to bash such a great champ as fed ..why people have to be like that..why cant you just be happy him still playing competitive tennis.. its not like he is losing all the time in first rounds…what a high standard ..


blank Says:

“…And Rafa needs to get those two burnt fingers taken of if he is to have any chance…”

lol. I hope you meant “taken care of” and not “taken off”. Not sure how he can play if he takes 2 fingers off his hand :)


tfouto Says:

“Djokovic has won six of seven and if he’s 100% he gets the edge. But I have to think he’s feeling some fatigue and if it’s hot and having gone night to day, I’ll give a slight edge to Berdych.”

Sean, do you really understand anything of tennis? Any clue at all?

two straights sets to Djokovic…


Lou Says:

Last year also Nadal crashed out in QF and still managed to win USO. I was reading an article which said that only 4 times in last 20 years a player has won Cincy and USO.

( Not Tennis Anymore, It’s Officially Battle of Minds – Djokovic, Nadal and Federer- Part 1 http://bit.ly/nibV94 )

Federer still can win when he wants to, look at his delpo victory.
So Cincy in no ways a refection of who will win USO? I am still going to pin my hopes on Nadal/Federer and hope the best for them.


Brando Says:

Nole wins easy-2 straight set! Did not watch the match but there was talk of berdych not being a 100% towards the end? For nole he has to be 110% and that ain’t going to happen for berdy!! On the other side hope Murray wins- we need a a top 4 player other than nole in the final!


Sean Randall Says:

Blank, good catch. Thanks.

Brando, I forgot about that. Berdych was in some distress at the end of the match. That could play a role.


blank Says:

Sean,
Because these days you pick Federer to lose, I am going to get back at you and pick on you :)

You haven’t got it right, it now reads “…taken car of…”


Sean Randall Says:

You got me Blank! Someday Federer will get back in that win column.


margot Says:

blank: sympathise, in past two tournaments I’ve picked Andy to win and….you’ve guessed it, come bottom! This time I didn’t and I’m riding high :)
However, I’m in a win, win situation because if Andy loses, my bracket rises, but if Andy fries Fish, I’ll be SO happy for him, I won’t care.
Of course, when I don’t pick Andy I feel SO disloyal…and I bet u feel the same about Fed.


Kimmi Says:

go muzza..bring that serve pls!


Kimmi Says:

serve!!! DF


Kimmi Says:

fish not broken so far the whole tournament..good for him.


jane Says:

Come on Andy! Convert one of these chances.


jane Says:

It is amazing that Fish has reached his highest ranking at age 29. That must be quite unique, I would imagine.


Kimmi Says:

well, not anymore, andy breaks. go muzza. Actually muzza is playing very well..mixing up his game well. go muzza


Kimmi Says:

Fish is not playing too good..he is rattled a little bit. Break again muzza


Daniel Says:

Did murray just hit a 124 MPH (199 Km/h) forehand. Wow, what is the record?!


jane Says:

Murray is looking to be in great form so far!


Daniel Says:

So far I only counted 2 Trully UE from Murray.


Brando Says:

It’s all about the serve for Murray- that fires then watch out! Hopefully he’ll win this and he’s got no1 2 fear from the otherside of the draw!


Kimmi Says:

c’mon muzza, dont give this one away..


Kimmi Says:

bummer! goooo muzza. no smiling!

WOOOOO! so lucky!


Kimmi Says:

139 mph..he he he!


Kimmi Says:

murray not to the net yet…i find that hard to believe.

fish attacking! murray need aggression here


Kimmi Says:

set! yeah muzza


jane Says:

Glad he closed that out!


Brando Says:

Excellent stuff Murray!! DO NOT SWITCH OFF!!


jane Says:

Murray is looking like winning today. Nice returns, very aggressive!


Kimmi Says:

BREAK! its funny that murray smiles a lot when he misses shots he could have made this week…commentators also commented on that. maybe this is his new strategy..better smiling than swearing and get himself all stressed up.

HOLD now muzza


Kimmi Says:

wow FISH!!


Kimmi Says:

too many second serves in that game..fish break back. game on!


jane Says:

Agree Kimmi: Nice to see Murray staying positive.


margot Says:

A bit too tense for me. Andy’s serve ouch, we keep saying it, but Andy’s ROS is gr8.
Yes, strange to see him smiling….new technique?
According to American commentators, Fish doesn’t swim in the water, he walks on it!


margot Says:

Andy and Isner hold record fastest serve this week! And Andy probably also holds record for worst first serve percentage :(
Crowd horribly partisan guys, expected I suppose.


Kimmi Says:

Fish is making errors again..murray has another chance to stream roll here.

BREEEEAKS..is fish injured or just the effect of nadal match?


jane Says:

Murray with another break, now hold this time Muzza!


jane Says:

Kimmi, could be Fish is wearing down. He played a couple events before Canada/Cincy, and he won one and got to the finals of the other, so he’s been on a roll, cinching the USO series thingy too.


Kimmi Says:

oh boy. another break coming up. really? muzza cant keep letting fish back..booooooo!


jane Says:

margot, like Brando says, if Murray could get that Isner-like (!) first serve clicking regularly and/or improve the second serve, then look out everyone! But alas is down to 53% firsts atm. : / Interestingly, so is Fish’s! He isn’t getting in many firsts either.


Kimmi Says:

ok, put the dropshots away muzza. they dont work!


margot Says:

A very poor patch from Andy letting Fish off the hook :(


Kimmi Says:

eeeeeek, muzza break point. this is like WTA


jane Says:

Break, break, breakity, break break!

Hold Muzza, hold.


Kimmi Says:

Muzza, how many chances..fish doesnt want to win this. HOLD please


Kimmi Says:

hmmmmm!


Kimmi Says:

I feel muzza has missed his chances. fish to win this set.


margot Says:

Actually this is awful from Andy :( He needs a coach, yesterday!


jane Says:

So many breaks & bp opportunities today: Fish has saved 8 of 12 so far and Muzza has saved 4 of 7. Fish is now at 49% first serves in, Murray holding at 53%. There’s the rub?


Dory Says:

Just what is going on in the Murray Fish match! Breaking each other but it’s a good exciting match overall! I thought Murray would run away with it after the 1st set.


Dory Says:

Nervous for Murray fans though I guess. I am not one but want him to win over Fish. I want to see a Murray vs Djoko encounter once again.


margot Says:

Dory that’s the tragedy of Andy, he really, really should’ve but his serve has broken down.


Dory Says:

His serve almost always breaks down in matches that matter IMHO, particularly this year. Just one of the many things he needs to really improve.


jane Says:

Better service games from both. And agree with you Dory that there has been some exciting play from the baseline from both guys.


jane Says:

Fish has saved 11 of 15 bps. Murray is generating the majority the chances but he needs to convert.

Nice point! Net, lob, etc!


Dory Says:

Why does Murray smile suddenly on some points? As if he remembers something funny LOL.


jane Says:

Tiebreak!


Kimmi Says:

oh man! this match is crazy. great muzza was able to hold there.

tie break..go muzza


Kimmi Says:

wow!!!!!

match point muzza…


Kimmi Says:

murray when he hit those slices need unleash the FH or BH…just hard to watch.

Fish passed his test and it is muzza turn..i have a bad feeling :(


Kimmi Says:

he did..he passed it. now win the match muzz


Kimmi Says:

ha ha ha ..what a match point. c’mooon.

Was OUT..oh dear.


jane Says:

Set and match points galore – and just when you thought is was over!! It is not!! Weird.


Kimmi Says:

Murray was waiting for error on that point. Luckly he got it.

Now BIG BIG serve


Dory Says:

That was an extremely close tiebreak with lots of drama! Brilliant of Murray to close it out and not succumb to pressure. Feel sorry for Fish, he’s played some amazing tennis past few weeks. Wish he played more consistently like this.


Kimmi Says:

GAME SET MATCH. Phew!

Good game mardy. congrats muzza


margot Says:

Blooming heck, he’s not going to go and win the whole thing is he…now I haven’t backed him…;)


jane Says:

Okay, this time it IS over. :) Yay, Muzza is in the finals!

Strange second set, but entertaining anyhow. Sometimes Andy plays a little too far back.


margot Says:

jane: Konic, I think, made interesting comment about Andy’s forehand. He doesn’t like to play it down the line, inevitably plays cross court and hence is entirely predictable. Said he needs a coach to tell him that and sort it out.


jane Says:

margot, that is an interesting comment. Will watch for that. A coach would be good.


jane Says:

But who!? That is the issue. He needs to find someone who won’t be overbearing but who can guide him on shoring up the serving consistency, and on tactics/patterns like you mention and which he might not notice.


jane Says:

Nole is struggling with his serve at this tournament.

Amazing point by Berd to get the break! Looks like Berd may get the better of Nole today.


Dory Says:

Did I miss something? Why did Berdych retire?????


dari Says:

beat fed, retire nole next match. new trend


Kimmi Says:

ok, just watch the last 3 pt and djokovic is in the final.

murray and djoko…ha ha. not djokovic again. c’mon muzza you can do it.


Dory Says:

He retired in Dubai too against Nole in the semi.


Dory Says:

It was shoulder injury apparently. They owe an announcement to the crowds on why a player is retiring.


jane Says:

Berdych played better for much of the first set, and then right near the end, Nole upped his level and Berdych’s dropped simultaneously. That’s a shame he had to retire, :(. Hope he gets better for the USO.

Happy it is Nole and Murray in the final though!


Kimmi Says:

the only thing i can say is AMAZING NOLE! another final..WOW! can he win it too?


jane Says:

Dari, Tsonga played Almagro between Fed and Nole, plus doubles, but yeah, it is a strange coincedence. Maybe they wear themselves out gunning for wins over Fed?! Actually, you could tell Berdych was injured at the end of the second set versus Fed; there were some grumbles Nole might even get a walkover. With Tsonga, he looked stronger at the end of his match with Fed, but he should have pulled out of doubles perhaps, to save himself for singles? Anyhow, I would rather see Nole win by winning. Sad when the matches have to end that way, but on the other hand, don’t want to see an injury worsened either.


Brando Says:

Whoo murray won! Think he’ll win the final, novak is there for the taking. Only worry regarding Murray is he still seems ‘suspect’ at times even in this tourny when the pressure is on. If he keeps his head, he’ll win for me- let’s face it he won his first master series against novak here:-)


dari Says:

ah, you’re right jane, didn’t see that nico and tsonga match, totally skipped it in my mind.
and of course Berd had problems yesterday, but as a player, that is a huge bummer when the guy you play then goes out due to circumstances other than a regular loss.
fed shoulda gotten that TB for that very reason, tomas’s shoulder.
oh well.
GO MURRAY TOMORROW!!!
or super nole will fly on, no big deal ;)


jane Says:

That’s true Brando. Good memories for Andy here. Love ‘em both, hope the final is a cracker.


Mila Says:

Has Novak broken the record for the most consecutive Master Series wins? Anyone…


Brando Says:

@ jane: Murray in the press mentions feeling fatigued. Hope that doesn’t hamper him in his efforts. Nole may seem slightly off his brilliant best but his level still demands te best from Murray in order to win- hope Murray can bring it!


jane Says:

Yep, dari. It’s always kind of a downer when a big upset happens and the guy loses easily the next round, or maybe retires. Didn’t Kohls retire after beating Roddick here? I think so but didn’t see it. Oh well. At least Tsonga backed up his win over Fed, and to be fair, in Berd’s case, with an injury, not much else you can do. They don’t want to push it and risk their USO.


jane Says:

Brando, where did you read Murray’s presser?

Mila, yes, last week.


Brando Says:

@ mila: he will if he wins 2moro I think. Rafa won clay slam last year-3 masters in a row. Nole is on 3 also atm.


jane Says:

Oops Mila, thought you meant most MS wins in a season: don’t know about consecutive.


tfouto Says:

how can Murray feel fatigated? Djoko his the one who should feel fatigated. Playing always all games until the final…

Murray must improve his stamina and fitness…


Brando Says:

@ jane: it was a espn article. He says that he needs to improve his fitness for USO and that nole will give him a good apraisal as to where his game is.


jane Says:

Thanks Brando.


Mila Says:

Sorry guys, should have phrased my question better.
I meant most consecutive MS matches.
I think he’s very close if he hasn’t already done it.


Mila Says:

I watched Andy’s post-match on-court interview on Sky Sport. He said the court is much much slower than the one he played on yesterday and organizers should have done a better job having the courts with consistent speed. He complained it was hard for him to adjust today. He also said his fitness is way below the level it should be at.


dari Says:

the espn commentators at least are calling novak’s 5 masters a record for most in season and most consecutive, as novak did not play rome, and rome is not mandatory.

i am in that school of thought, what do you guys think?


Brando Says:

@mila: I think would definately have that record. I cannot say based on knowledge of the record but he’s played 5 won 5 and is in te final of his 6th: so 29 unbeaten atm.


dari Says:

by the way, my heart has grown so much for mardy this summer. i already liked him cause he is american and seems like a great guy, but he has played a lot and played very well, am very happy for the old dude!
taking the top american spot and holding it well.
wish continued consistency for him in the coming months!


jane Says:

Ditto re: Mardy. Likeable. And a great player.


steve-o Says:

I suppose I shouldn’t root for anybody, because they all seem to lose. If Federer didn’t win I wanted Fish to take the title. Now both are out and we will have yet another Djokovic-Murray final.

Murray has a great record in Masters finals but I think he will be holding the runner-up plate this time.


jane Says:

According to an article I just read, Murray has a hamstring issue and Nole has a shoulder problem, so it may come down to whose injury bothers them less!

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/sport/tennis/article_1658134.php/Murray-Djokovic-to-meet-in-injury-hit-Cincinnati-final


Kimmi Says:

woooo! sharapova is demolishing zvonareva


Kimmi Says:

all right, looks to be a back and forth match


jane Says:

Yay Maria. Kind of hoping for Petkovic to win now, as would like to see her versus Maria. I have never seen them play. But it’s nice to see JJ doing well again too.


Kimberly Says:

Good win for sharapova hope she cam take the title and the us open. petkovicmpsr likely to win the next one. She’s been playing well. Seems to own McKenna as of late. However we cam talk about all these girls but I believe the us open is serenas to win or lose


jane Says:

Tight match between these two. Petkovic’s leg is so heavily strapped it looks like she’s wearing a cast! But she is moving fairly well thus far. Anyhow JJ breaks back and it’s 4 all.


jane Says:

Congrats to JJ. She really ran away with the match after that tight first set. So Maria and JJ in the final – could be good.


Kimmi Says:

JJ seem to do well at cincy for some reason..didnt she win there before?

I dont think she matches well with sharpie though…we will see, but i think it is sharapova tournament to lose.


alison hodge Says:

it would be nice to see wozniaki challenged by one of the williams sisters,or one of the other top girls,to see how worthy she is of that number 1 ranking,otherwise i just dont see her winning a grand slam any time soon,everyone knows serena is the real number 1,just not on paper thats all.


Kimberly Says:

I am oviously rooting for Maria to win this title!

For the men, I guess Novak. Might as well root for history since my boy is out. But I don’t really care.

Top story: Federer Falls To Raonic, Slips Further Behind Djokovic In No. 1 Race; ATP London Field Set
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2 Roger Federer2 Maria Sharapova
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