ATP Finals Groupings: Djokovic With Murray, Federer With Nadal
by Sean Randall | November 15th, 2011, 10:21 am
  • 97 Comments

The groupings for the ATP London Finals were released a few hours ago and the result was Novak Djokovic is paired with Andy Murray while Rafael Nadal got defending champion Roger Federer.

They breakdown as such:
Group A – Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych
Group B – Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Mardy Fish

I think they are pretty balanced with a slight edge in difficulty in Group B.

Group A does have David Ferrer who of the eight on an indoor surface maybe be the weakest player. Group B arguably has the second weakest in newcomer Mardy Fish.

Both Djokovic and Nadal do have some shoulder concerns which could leave the door open for Murray/Berdych in Group A and Federer/Tsonga in Group B.

Group B is deeper with Tsonga who is a major threat, but A does have the season’s top two title leaders in Djokovic (10) and Murray (5).

The nice thing the way things turned out is we will see Federer play Nadal for the first time since the French Open final.

As for early picks, it’s hard to go against Djokovic and Murray out of A and in order Federer and Nadal from B. The semifinals would then be Djokovic v. Nadal, Murray v. Federer. If Novak’s shoulder in OK he should get through to play Federer in the final. I think Murray again melts in front of his London audience to the Swiss.

And for the title match between Federer and Djokovic – the two only two past champions of the tournament – I like Roger right now over a weary Novak.

“I do believe if Djokovic is fit, and Murray is fit as well, which it seems like he is, they’re also going to be difficult to beat,” said Federer on Sunday. “And Rafa, regardless how he is going to be, he’s always a tough customer. So I think it’s going to be a really good World Championships. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a strong year, and I’m happy to be part of it.”

No fewer than three of the final eight do have injury issues with Djokovic/Nadal (shoulder) and Fish (hamstring). So unfortunately alternate Janko Tipsarevic best be ready.

The tournament starts on Sunday.

SUNDAY SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT start 12:15 pm
[3] M Mirnyi (BLR) / D Nestor (CAN) vs [5] R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK)

Not Before 2:00 PM
[4] R Federer (SUI) vs [6] J Tsonga (FRA)

Not Before 6:15 PM
[2] M Llodra (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs [8] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL)

Not Before 8:00 PM
[2] R Nadal (ESP) vs [8] M Fish (USA)


Also Check Out:
ATP Finals Draw: Federer Gets It Easy, Djokovic Will Have To Duel Murray
London Masters Groupings Released: Federer Tough, Nadal Easy?
Roddick Withdraws From London ATP Tennis Finals
Is Novak Djokovic Ready for a ATP Finals Repeat?
Favorites Federer, Murray Land on Red at Tennis Masters Cup

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97 Comments for ATP Finals Groupings: Djokovic With Murray, Federer With Nadal

El Flaco Says:

Trivia question: Who is the only player to have played Federer and Nadal at least twice and have a winning record against both?


jane Says:

That is HR Baty. Dominic Hrbaty. :) What do I win?


racquet Says:

Yes! I love it. Almost matches the dream groupings I posted.


jane Says:

The draw is great: for once Nole doesn’t have Fed and Muzza doesn’t have Rafa on their sides. (13 out of the last 15 slams!)

Although it does preclude my dream final of Muzza and Nole but that is okay. As long as one em wins it all. :)


racquet Says:

Theoretically, they could still meet in the final – couldn’t they?


carlo Says:

I can see 2 names pulling out with injury; maybe 3. Fish and his hamstring and Nadal/Djokovic – shoulders. Or, were they bluffing their injuries a little – holding back for this event?

Good chance Almagro and Tipsarevic both play.


jane Says:

Racquet, I think the finalists are always from opposite groups aren’t they? Not sure as don’t really “get” round robins…


racquet Says:

Jane, if both end up top of Group A they’ll play SFs against the top 2 from Group B. If they win, they’ll meet in the final.


Brando Says:

Excellent draw. Do hope that rafa meets nole in the SF. Both have shoulder concerns, time out since USO final etc so there is some parity as to where their game is atm. It’s also rafa’s weakest surface, so if he could somehow win against him or atleast gave nole a tough match, then that could give him a good boost going into 2012. We live to hope anyway I suppose.


jane Says:

racquet, good to know! Thanks for filling me in. Does Berdy worry you or do you think this is Murray’s chance for revenge?

El Flaco, i am still waiting to find out if & what I win. :)


jane Says:

Brando, Rafa gave Nole some tough matches all year; it’s not like Nole won easily at the USO, Wimbledon, Madrid, Miami, etc… Their matches were usually close: breaks, break backs. Close sets. Etcetera. They aren’t as far apart as some have made out, imo.


racquet Says:

Jane, Berdy always worries me but I remember being worried about Soderling last year and look what happened! He knows how to handle big hitters. If Tokyo Andy shows up, no problem.


skeezerweezer Says:

Finally, Nole and Fed on opposite sides of the draw. What a friggin miracle.


El Flaco Says:

Great call Jane. I had someone else in mind besides Hrbaty so I was wrong about there only being 1 player. There are 2 players(or maybe more anyone?) that have played Fed/Nadal multiple times and come out with a winning record against both. So I will amend my question to who are the only 2 players to do it? Hrbaty and …?


Tennis Vagabond Says:

The match-ups are mouth watering.
It makes you wonder why the WTF is so poorly known outside die-hard fans. They’ve tried SO MANY things to make this a major event and it just never seems to catch on.
Wasnt there a period in the ’80s when there were competing versions, one by the ATP and one by the ITF?
WTF! as they say.


Stella Says:

Mouth watering matches indeed!!! Can hardly wait for Sunday!!!

Hope Roger and Tsonga aren’t too tired after Paris but at least they are both in the same boat as far as last matches played.


Brando Says:

@Jane:

I hope your right. To me though, no matter how i may persuade myself otherwise, 6-0 is pretty telling.

I think the IW, Miami and USO were close contests, well fought and who knows on some other ocassion good fortune would favour rafa and he would win. Instead it was nole who was brave when he needed to be.

But Madrid, Rome and Wimby were all one way traffic matches for me. In madrid and rome rafa played with a body language that suggested that he does not believe he could beat nole, and he got beat in straight sets to reinforce that belief. On clay too.

Wimby, nole takes a set 6-1, rafa does likewise, but when the mental questions were asked at 4-4 in set 1 and 4, rafa collapsed.

But to end on a positive, i think its more mental than matchup between these 2 since other than maybe nole’s serve there really hasn’t been much of a change in their respective games. On the metal front, i was pleased with how rafa fought in the USO final- much better than the previous 3.

I think in future meetings, rafa desperately needs to win the 1st set, a la IW and Miami, since if nole is out of the blocks quick and infront, it is really tough to stop him from getting to the finish line.


Brando Says:

mental front > metal front, Lol!

And yes the potentail matchup’s are exciting, none moreso than murray-djokovic for me. I think the nadal-federer, rafa- nole, nole-roger even rafa- murray rivalries are very much alive and kicking. Its just, IMHO, the murray- djokovic, and maybe even murray-federer, rivalry that needs to take off.


RZ Says:

Wow, this should be interesting. At least there can’t be any conspiracy theories about seedings, placements, and trying to get Federer and Nadal on opposite sides to play in the finals (though they still could play in a final here)


carlo Says:

If you include non-active players, El Flaco, another is Alex Corretja.

Can’t think of any others with a winning record over both. Although Pim Pim has a good record ? though not winning.


El Flaco Says:

You got it Carlo.


carlo Says:

Winning records are an interesting question, El Flaco. There used to be a few with a winning record over both, I think, but the longer someone is active if they are in the same age range, the less likely it’s now a winning record – like Blake, Hewitt, Nalbandian. And perhaps someone in the future will get a winning record over both Nadal and Federer.

Pat Rafter, I know retired with a winning record against Federer…thinking out loud.


MMT Says:

Tennis Vagabond – you’re right. From 1990 to 1999 there was a competing year-end championship organized by the ITF call the Grand Slam Cup, which offered $2M in prize money to the winner with a $1M bonus if they also won a major that year. Only Pete Sampras in 1990 and Boris Becker in 1996 won the whole prize money kit and kabootle. Other years distinguished champions included David Wheaton, Magnus Larsson and Greg Rusedski. Not exactly a roll call of tennis greats, but you can’t make ‘em give the money back! Anyway, that may have contributed to some of the disinterest outside of tennis.

I have 4 ideas on my blog about how to bring back the luster outside of tennis, to this largely tennis event. I guarantee that if they did these 3 things, the entire sports world would sit up and take notice every year.


Wog boy Says:

@jane: when you said ” 13 out of the last 15 GS ” did you mean on Novak an Federe too or only on on Rafa and Andy?
Hope Nole is 100%, if not it is going to be hard to watch him ( for me), and if he fails becouse of that he has nobody to blame but himself and his team. They did or the right things since mid last year ( starting with bringing in Thomas Muster fittnes guru) so there is no reason to think they won’t do it now.
Cheers. AJDEEEEE. NOLEEEE


Wog boy Says:

…did ALL the right things…. should say


Wog boy Says:

I am bit slow this morning, I guess if Rafa and Andy are in the same drow that leaves Nole and federer in the same , too;-)) I need short black, double shot.


alison hodge Says:

er just wondering are nole and rafa going to play?although i suppose no news is good news.


marrisv Says:

@alison hodge – Rafa’s latest commment on his facebook wall says he is all set to play.

“Lasts practices before I’ll play against a great group at London! A pleasure:)”


Kimmi Says:

To me i think rafa is OK. its nole i am worried about.

Hope we get great matches. and I hope my heart can hold up watching fed. Hoping he can play well, and will be great to see him beat his nemesis rafa at least once this year.

Go fed and murray

ah, i am also hoping nole plays well. if he cant then he should pull out. I don’t want to see him losing badly pleeeeeeaaase!


alison hodge Says:

thanks marrisv im delighted rafas playing,only hope hes 100%,or there abouts,id be gutted if he got white washed like two years ago,hope noles ok to play too.


Nina Says:

Yeah me too, we don’t know anything about Nole’s current condition. It’s sad in my opinion that he’s not 100% fit for the last big tournament of the year where all the big guns play against each other. it would be so much better if all big 4 were on equal conditions.


El Flaco Says:

Fish could also withdraw. He has a left hamstring injury and had to retire in the last 2 tournaments. This story today posted by the AP quotes Fish as saying he is not 100%. He will probably give it a go then retire during the match if he can’t run effectively against Nadal. At least if your shoulder is sore you can take a little off your 1st serve. If you say I’m not going to run as fast because of a leg injury you will get crushed.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i_Uw0fu9zl6ZRkJeRBTMTROUG1Ag?docId=c7b022a19e534896a1d01abc903469d7


alison hodge Says:

nina i would say no news is good news,is there nothing on his website or facebook page?


Wog boy Says:

@Kimmi: I think Rafa is more than OK, I don’t know about Nole. I agree, it will be hard to watch if he is not, It will be also very important WTF for Federer to prove he is ready for next year charge, since he didn’t play TOP 3 in Basel and Paris ,so somebody can think he had it easy.
and yes, GO NOLE Sydney is with you…. well, at least one man in Sydney :)


Brando Says:

I’m actually afraid for rafa due to his draw. He has not played for a while, has a worrisome shoulder, and then the draw. He’s 0-2 against federer who has won his last 2 tourny’s. Tsonga reached the finals a bercy, it’s his second YEC, and he actually beat rafa this year. Very dangerous. Fish is probably the only one who you feel confident with atm. Nole’s health is a real worry. I think he can beat ferrer, berdych Is a 50/50 since you do not know which berdych shall show. Andy will be a really tough one for him.


marrisv Says:

yes, hope rafa brings his best and from his posts, it seems he has been training hard and doing lots of fitness work. I am really interested to see how his fitness levels are. On more than one occasion this year, he seemed to run out of steam in gruelling physical matches.


Kimmi Says:

Murray has always opened up the show, but not this year. federer and tsonga first, hmmm..both coming from paris final. As somebody has said above, at least they are both feeling the same.

Hoping it is a repeat of paris final.


alison hodge Says:

brando rafas had a rest though,like you im not a biased rafa fan,but i have to say he sounds realy up for it,like he was before the uso last year,still time will tell i suppose.


Skorocel Says:

Brando: „On the metal front, i was pleased with how rafa fought in the USO final- much better than the previous 3.“

Indeed he fought – only to lose 1-6 in the 4th…


Skorocel Says:

MMT: Nice article about the WTF. About the money & major-level points, well, I’m not quite sure if this would help (remember they tried to give ranking points for playing the DC recently), but changing the final from best of 3 to best of 5 would DEFINITELY be a good idea! What else can a true tennis fan wish for than to sit down on Sunday in front of the telly and watch Nadal & Federer to slug it out in 5 dramatic sets? Even though I’m not that big of a fan of these “Fedal” matches, the “mainstream viewer”, so to speak, would definitely welcome it. This change from best of 3 to best of 5, btw, should have occured long ago not only in WTF, but also in ALL Masters 1000 events as well… About the venue, well, I agree with you that the constant changing doesn’t help its cause, but then again, if you look in the past, some editions weren’t that bad (for example, the 1999 final between Sampras & Agassi in Hannover, where you couldn’t see a single empty seat in the stands)… Anyway, personally I’m happy that they moved it from Shanghai to London, as the O2 seems to be a “cosier” arena to me than the Qi Zhong. I really like the lighting in London, which is almost exclusively concentrated on the court, whilst the stands being almost completely in the dark (it all makes a sort of “theatrical” atmosphere, you know) & moreover the fact that the matches here were all very well attended (which can’t be quite said about Shanghai).


trufan Says:

Rafa’s supposed shoulder trouble sounds quite fake, like many times previously. Nice trick to raise that doubt, so if he loses, oh, it was injury, if he wins, oh, he is superhero. Win win both ways. Pathetic.

Its not Rafa’s shoulder that will bother him. Its the fact that he hasn’t played for a while, and its a fast indoor court. I would be surprised if he beats either Federer or Tsonga. Tsonga has always played him tough, expect the recent match on clay. Heck, even Fish has a chance against him. But just by sheer will, I think Nadal will win 1 or 2 matches in his group.

Ferrer doesn’t have a shot at winning even one match. I think Berdych will choke as usual, so its Djoke and Murray from there, in some order. From this group, its federer or Tsonga/Nadal. I hope its Tsonga.

But Nadal will fight hard. He knows he will be 26 next year, so not too many chances given his wear and tear. Federer is an anomaly, still going strong past 30, without even a 2 year sabbatical like the one Agassi took (which really saved his body). After 1,000 matches, most other players would have just welted away.


jane Says:

Wog Boy, I think that’s only for Nole/Fed. There was a link to it posted a while back. But probably a lot of those have meant Murray/Rafa too since Murray’s been in the top four such a long time, basically since 08, with maybe one slam outside top 4?


Kimmi Says:

Seriously, I love murray. but this is funny. Some people have nothing better to do

http://youtu.be/tg56itziNMI


Brando Says:

@kimmi: lmao, that was funny.


mjt308 Says:

Hilarious video, Kimmi!


jane Says:

Racquet, I finally got round to posting the Murray “Daily Mail” article you posted on the other thread and it is fabulous (2 great picutres too, love the last one!). He is very self aware and comes across as nothing but well intentioned, hard working and honest. Harsh words perhaps re: British tennis, but they seem heartfelt, concerned.

Kimmi, your video is the perfect complement – or maybe foil – to the article. ;)


jane Says:

*meant to say got round to reading (not posting).


margot Says:

Rafa and Andy not in the same half? My word, somebody hasn’t been reading the script.


alison hodge Says:

margot i agree its nice to see my two favourites,andy and rafa on opposite sides for a change,also means no conspiracy theories about the draw either.


Michael Says:

It is difficult to pick up the toughest group here. But I would rate Group B as the “group of death” simply because there are two in-form players in it namely Federer and Tsonga. Ofcourse nobody can discount a player of Nadal’s calibre and he is pretty much right there. But this must be his weakest surface and Federer has good chances to narrow down the lop sided H2H (as of now) with Nadal. Federer is 3-0 against Nadal in indoor courts and he is playing to his strength. The weakest link in this group is Mardy Fish and I do not give him much chance to qualify. In Group A, we have the irrepressible Novak with Flashy Murray. Berdych too cannot be dismissed lightly while Ferrer will find it difficult to even win one match in his group. The rider to this is that this will be the case if Novak is fully fit. All things considered, I am hoping that Federer wins creating a new record which is not new to this Champion as he is quite used to making it in regularity. It will be a big consolation for Federer considering that he has failed to win a major this year.


ding dong Says:

Thats the beauty of Federer. When he was in the top 3, they were called the Big Three. I can recall that Roddick was very sour about it and him not being called part of that.With Federer now nr 4 the top four is called the BIG FOUR. I guess when Federer’s ranking eventually falls to nr 10, the top ten guys will be called the BIG TEN. Damn is Fedex good or what????


Heather Says:

@Margot

Gee Roger not in the half with the Serb. My word someone has not been reading the script.

Only problem is that we will have to watch IT scratching its glute 3 times in one week BEURK.[x6o times per match]. Wonder if they found the extra 10 miles p/hour on his serve that he had at the USO last year

What a pleasure the past months w/o IT and its injuries and ‘puta’ comments after losing to [there have been a few]

Want to bash balls sans finesse and overdo the vitamins hopefully this will be the last WTF we see him


grendel Says:

jane – “harsh words perhaps re British tennis…”

How can you have harsh words about the charade which has ever been British tennis? Murray illuminatingly contrasts the urgency and lack of money in Russian tennis with the money and lack of urgency in British tennis. He makes some generalisations about national style which you can recognize even if one’s automatic impulse when reading this sort of thing is to look for the exception. Does make you wonder, though: what could constitute a British style of tennis? Why does my heart sink just a little at the prospect?

Murray actually says:”‘I think we as a nation expect to win and when we don’t we look for these big reasons. Why did Tim Henman not win Wimbledon? Why has Andy Murray not won Wimbledon? Well, sometimes you’re not quite good enough.” I like the candour of the final line. But I don’t quite agree with the first. I think people actually expect the British to lose, are surprised if they don’t and like to make heroes of the also ran – the Dunkirk spirit runs deep.

I note Murray’s dismissal at the idea that he feels any particular pressure from the press. That is good to hear, and I think we should believe him.

re Culshaw’s impression of Murray which Kimmi posted: there are also listed there a couple of the “comedian” Michael McIntyre and of the physicist Brian Cox which are a joy.


grendel Says:

with reference to the above post, the Dunkirk bit: it’s important to distinguish between what you might call the British psyche and the British media (a lot of which is foreign owned anyway). Purely in the interests of selling their particular rags, the British media love to build a sportsman up, however unrealistically, and then indulge in the joy of rubbishing him when he has failed to live up to the very expectations they created in the first place.

And in this peculiar set of manouevres, they (the media) rely very much on a sort of fatalism in the hearts of the British public. For the latter do not really believe anything, but they get their hopes a little bit titillated – the mountain edges forward – then comes the inevitable disappointment, with the newspaper boys rubbing the disaster in for all they’re worth. Here, they can depend upon the Dunkirk tradition. A special kind of masochistic pleasure is experienced in yet more failure.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Brando, I enjoyed your analysis, but part of the beauty of the WTF is anything can happen with players of this calibre. I could make a case for Fish (if healthy). He beat Rafa this summer on the fast Cincinnati courts. He gave TSonga an incredible match at the USOpen.


jamie Says:

Olderer will win the WTF since the top players like Novak Djokovic are all injured and tired at this point of the season.


Michael Says:

@Heather. Very hateful comments indeed! Unfortunately for you, you will have to watch IT play FIVE times next week not 3. And of course holding the Trophy. He is here to stay so live with it!


rogerafa Says:

@jamie

Has this been predicted by your online psychic? Who will be the other finalist since the top players like Djokovic are “all injured and tired”? Does it mean Nadal and Murray are also out of contention? Better still, please tell us about next year. Will the youngerer and fresherer Djokerer have a betterer year than 2011? Tell us about the Australian Open at least.


Kimberly Says:

the online psychic insists there are no more slams for Federer and only one more moment in the sun for Rafa. I am not sure if the numerous predictions of Nole winning Roland Garros last year were her’s or Jamie’s. I would be interested in her perspective on the AO as well! I think it depends on their charts.


alison hodge Says:

heather tennis legends like rafa come and go,and we are lucky to have them as they are gone all to quickly,but still carve there names in history,unfortunatly unpleasant people like yourself are the ones that are hear to say,but dont go away quickly enough.


alison hodge Says:

kimberly i thought jamie himself said,fed was done,rafa would fluke another 1,nole would win 8 or 9,and murray and delpo would win 2,his on line psychic said if i remember rightly that next year would be a repeat of this one,with nole and rafa dominating again,he didnt say what her final slam predictions were though,this is all to the best of my knowledge,i could be wrong but i think this was what he said though.


Brando Says:

@Alison:

It’s the age of the internet, where everyone has a viewpoint that can be expressed, but as in reality, not every viewpoint is worth bothering with.


margot Says:

Well said, Brando :) It’s only really colleagues at work whose viewpoints you have to endure!


alison hodge Says:

thanks brando yeah your of course,thank goodness for sensible people like yourself,my late mother used to say i have an opinion about everthing,unfortunatly its the yorkshire in me,cant help it im afraid.


alison hodge Says:

sorry right of course.


margot Says:

grendel: the French system which appears to nurture the individual would appear to me to be the best from a humanitarian (not quite what I mean) stand point.


Kimberly Says:

betting odds have the Djoker as the overwhelming favorite for all the GS except Roland Garros currently and Fed and Murray flip flopping for third and fourth except in RG the bookies have put Delpo ahead of Murray.


grendel Says:

yeah, the French are fun.

Kimberley, Djokovic did best this year, so it is deemed he will do so again. That sort of reasoning is empty. Sometimes it works out that way, sometimes it doesn’t. And nobody – nobody – has the least idea which way it will play.


alison hodge Says:

if nole were to dominate the slams again next year except rg,i wonder if rafa will be favourite again there?


alison hodge Says:

grendel does that mean you dont believe in jamies pyschic nonsence?


Brando Says:

@Alison, margot: thanks.


Brando Says:

I have to say re aus 12, I personally feel that there shall be no real distinct favourites for that one. I think the likes of rafa, andy and roger have as much chance as nole for that one. Fitness and form permitting of course. For the last 3 seasons, it has always been very tough for the dominant individual of a previous season to repeat the same feat in the following season, so I do not think it shall be a walk in the park for nole, nor is it all doom and gloom for the others. I expect it to be the most open season in a long while- with ALOT of potential surprises.


carlo Says:

Djokovic’s shoulder is very concerning. Until Basel, I would have picked him to defend at least 2 of his GS titles. It seems that his shoulder should have had time to recover by his skipping the Asian swing. Also, I’m feeling disappointment in Murray again after Paris and my hope is for him to win WTF! Otherwise, without Djokovic and Murray fit and on good form, Nadal will likely have another banner year in 2012 like his 2008 and 2010, winning at least 2 GS and the Olympic gold.


grendel Says:

@alison – well, quite frankly, one set of predictions is as good, or as bad, as another. Whether they’re from whackos or experts – doesn’t actually make any difference. The only caveat I’d put on this is that we know certain things are very unlikely to happen (such as a repeat of Djokovic’s season). But as to what is likely to happen? Ask 2 whackos and 2 experts, and not only will they all disagree, you won’t know which is whacko and which is expert.


alison hodge Says:

thanks grendel very true i think people sometimes believe what they want to believe.


Kimberly Says:

Ask 2 whackos and 2 experts, and not only will they all disagree, you won’t know which is whacko and which is expert.

Love it, this is the reason I come to tennis x! WHich camp do the x-writers and/0r bloggers/posters fall in…Experts? Whackos? Jinxers?


grendel Says:

alison – I think this is true, although I would amend it slightly to something like:people sometimes claim to believe what they want to believe(speaking personally, I can’t pretend I am immune to this type of trickery, it’s hard to avoid altogether).

When you think about it, wanting to believe something is strange. Wanting something to be different to what it is is understandable, most of us do it all the time. I would like such and such a person to fancy me. But can you really persuade yourself that such is the case, even when she practically throws up every time she sees you?

Apparently, yes. As you ponder the mystery of her implacable hostility to you, you find yourself concocting stories; for instance, she is in the power of some monster who, if he ever catches sight of her giving you the least encouragement will instantly subject her to the most horrifying torture. Then when that fable wears a little thin even in your infatuated mind, you suddenly realise that actually she is deeply and profoundly in love with you, and the only way she can prevent herself from throwing herself instantly into your arms (and thereby, perhaps, wreck a long and productive marriage)is to pretend she cannot abide the sight of you. Of course, this story is self-reinforcing. Thus, she catches sight of you, practically trips over and breaks her neck in her profound revulsion and disgust, and you at once marvel at how much she must love you – only this could account for such stern and steadfast rejection.

In this way, you can end up in believing almost anything. And people do, don’t they? Why, some people even believe that Federer will win the French Open next year…….


Tennislover Says:

“Why, some people even believe that Federer will win the French Open next year…….”

…and beat Nadal in the final :)


Tennislover Says:

MMT: Money can’t solve everything. It didn’t help the grand slam cup much. I remember some of the leading players calling it obscene. There has to be a sense of balance. You can’t give disproportionate amounts of money or points.

The point about an identity crisis is reasonable but I doubt we can expect it to become what it used to be in the 1980s. In any case, it never created the sort of buzz for the non-enthusiast globally that the majors (except AO) did. You rightly attributed a lot of it to the personalities and their animus but tennis was very popular in the USA at the time and I doubt if it’d create the same buzz now even if we shifted it to MSG. The ATP has tried for so many years to market the masters series to non-enthusiasts but hasn’t succeeded much. It appears only the hard core fans get excited about non-major events.

The thing about making the final a best of five is not practical given that the players themselves have got it removed from the WTF as well as the masters series events. Nothing is more memorable than a long five setter. Three set format somehow never has the same appeal. If the ATP were to make the finals of masters and the wtf events best of five, a lot of things can change dramatically as far as the “buzz” is concerned but players simply won’t agree to it.


Dory Says:

WOW THE DRAW IS PERFECT!!!!!!! FOR ONCE FEDERER AND DJOKOVIC ARE IN OPPOSITE HALFS IN A MAJOR TOURNAMENT!!!!!!


alison hodge Says:

dory would it be so bad if muzza or rafa were to win the wtf,i know your dying to see a nole v roger final,what makes you so sure they both will even get there,nothing can be taken for granted,look at davey two years ago,woulda thought that.


alison hodge Says:

thanks grendel great post as ever,very thought provoking and in sightfull,and also very funny in parts too,federer winning french open next year hmm possible, like you say lifes full of surprises,so you never know,only time will tell.


MMT Says:

Tennislover: I agree money isn’t the only answer, but put the following 4 things together, and I guarantee big coverage outside of tennis:

1. 2000 ATP points to the winner
2. Keep the same (good) venue (like the O2) for 10 years
3. 5-set final
4. $6M for to the winner, $2M more if he won a major and $2M more if he finished #1, for a potential $10M payoff.

If you build it, they will come :-)


trufan Says:

Finals of masters and WTF should always be best of 5. And no tie breaker in the fifth. If you are at 6-6 in the fifth, you should win only by breaking serve. There are SO FEW matches (since this is the rule in 3 slams) where matches extend abnormally, so there is no reason not to have that rule.

And don’t even get me started on women’s tennis. First, its a joke. Second, they should play best of 5 at least in slams before claiming equal prize money. Equal pay for equal work, that’s what we all support, right?

There’s nothing better in tennis than watching a 5th set slugfest. That’s when all the shenanigans are gone, and its pure talent+will+stamina that counts – its the game in its purest form. And if you actually check out the records (I have done that), you will find the least unforced error rate in 5th sets….


grendel Says:

“. $6M for to the winner, $2M more if he won a major and $2M more if he finished #1, for a potential $10M payoff.”

Why is this an incentive to the ordinary sportsfan? Is it just that large sums of money excite people in some mysterious way even though they are never going to get their hands on it themselves? I wonder. This works in a quizz show because the drama is palpable – one moment a chap has 500 grand coming to him, the next, if he makes the wrong move, he has nothing. That’s dramatic enough, but what makes the whole thing spine tingling is the knowledge that the guy who stands to gain or lose these huge sums has almost no money himself, just a house and a car and a cat and a mortgage. Just like you and me.

But these tennis stars are all multi-millionaires anyway. Who cares if they make another million or whatever? Of course, they do. That’s why Djokovic risked his health recently. So is the idea this: the tennis players are so highly motivated to win that this in itself imparts an air of extra excitement into the proceedings? Even an aggressive edge? The fact is, people are drawn to aggro for any number of reasons. It must, therefore, be commercially exploitable.


grendel Says:

“That’s [5th set, i.e.]when all the shenanigans are gone, and its pure talent+will+stamina that counts – its the game in its purest form.”

Sometimes. Certainly 5 setters have the potential to be much more exciting. But 5th sets can sometimes be anti-climaxes, with the beaten player having shot his bolt, and just fading away.


trufan Says:

Sure, in some cases the 5th set is just a wilting of one guy. That perhaps is very revealing about that player anyway (James Blake compared to say Nadal?).

But some of the most exciting sets in tennis have been later on in the match. Maybe the 3rd set when both are 1-1, or a tight 4th set. Or a 5th. Best of 3 rules out most of these, and often a slow started just doesn’t have enough time to make up the first set deficit.

And, of course, there’s the somewhat uncommon situation of coming back from 2 sets down.

Fed-Nadal 2008 wimbledon final would have been a routine 2-set victory for nadal if it was best of 3. And had darkness not inducted so much chance into the match at the end, it could have been the greatest comeback victory EVER, had Federer won.


margot Says:

Truefan, agree absolutely that women should play best of 5 in slams. It’s really an anachronism and also for goodness sakes ban court- side coaching at WTA matches as well. Talk about infantalising these super stars.


margot Says:

trufan sorry, have totally misspelt your name and no edit button.


MMT Says:

grendel: I’m not sure from you response if you think a huge payday will make a difference with non-tennis fan. A match point worth $10M? I think it would.

I don’t care how much money you have – $10M is a lot of money to ride on one shot. And not many tennis players will earn that kind of money in their career. And even if you have $100M in the bank – you certainly would care about adding another $10M to it with one tournament, and I think sports fans would too. Anyway, aside from the big 4 and Roddick, almost every other player on tour would double their career prize money with one win – however unlikely (read Davydenko in 2009).

TennisLover mentioned that it didn’t do anything for the Grand Slam Cup, but the interest petered out when the prize money dipped. And take look at the players who competed for it that first year – Edberg, Lendl, Sampras, Ivanisevic, Noah. The only one who abstained was Becker, and he came around by 1993 after the prize money dipped.

In any case, it’s just one element of many that I’ve suggested, that could make the year-end championships a must see event.


trufan Says:

no problem, its not my “name” anyway!

Ya, this side coaching thing in women’s tennis is yet another deterioration in the sport. Adults should be able to think on their own for a few hours on the court, without constant coaching (which they receive for a bulk of the year anyway).

There just isn’t enough vareity in women’s tennis. MOst of them just play the same way – hit flat balls from both sides till a mistake is made. Someone like Henin was a pleasure to watch, or Graf…. Now they are just clones of each other, from perhaps the same few academies.

In mens tennis there is SO MUCH vareity. Look at the top 10. Djoke, nadal, murray, federer – all so different. Then Tsonga, or Delpo, or many other top 20 players Dolgopolov!!). Its a pleasure to watch many of them play.


Skorocel Says:

trufan: „And had darkness not inducted so much chance into the match at the end, it could have been the greatest comeback victory EVER, had Federer won.“

Had Federer converted that BP at 4-3 in the 5th, you wouldn’t be talking about darkness here (or any other EXCUSE for that matter)…


alison hodge Says:

skorocel rafa let roger off in that final,by failing to convert on match point in the 4th set tie break.


jane Says:

Agree with trufan and margot (@11:26) re: women’s tennis: 5 sets at the slams, and please, no on-court coaching. Usually the women stare off at some corner, clearly painfully embarassed by the coach coming and interjecting mid-match. Ugh. Stop. it. now.


Kimberly Says:

a big reason in favor of the three set womens set up is most points are grinded out, very few one two three points like there are in the men’s game—why, the serve.

When Raonic was like number 200 in the world he could play the top guys the result was typically 6-4 6-4 in favor of the the top guy. If Wozniaki plays number 200 the score will be 6-0 6-0 even though essentially she is doing a lot less the blast her opponent off the court. Every top 200 male player now has at least 120mph serve which will allow for shortened points, cheap points, and at least a few games. With the exception of Serena Williams serve, almost all of the serves are returned and the point is essentially neutralized making the matches in some respect more physical.


margot Says:

Kimberly, is that chicken or egg though, difficult to say? Also female athletes have just as much stamina as men, don’t they?


Kimberly Says:

I can only tell you my experience. on my level, none of the women are hitting the other women off the court. The more consistent one wins. The one who gets impatient and goes for winners usually loses as they will miss, and many “winners” are returnable by a strong fit opponent and its the two shots after the “winner” that will give you a small window to win the point. Fitness is the most important factor as there are many twenty plus ball rallies and a match can take three hours and we typically play the super breaker as a third. I recently won a match 6-0 6-3 that took over two hours. Stregnth will create pressure by keeping the ball hard and deep and more pressure on serve but no one is hitting anyone off the court. Evidence that is carries to the tour—Caroline Wozniaki, she puts her opponents to sleep and eventually they miss.

I think women have as much stamina as men but I think their matches are more grinding and taxing because of lack of stregnth. My two cents.

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