Nadal’s Knees Must Be Healed, He’ll Squeeze In A Djokovic Exo Match During A Busy Summer
by Sean Randall | April 11th, 2012, 12:38 pm
  • 135 Comments

Call me a little cynical but why is Rafael Nadal, who just weeks ago withdrew from a key Miami Masters semifinal against Andy Murray because of a bad knee, risking further injury by adding an exhibition match during what will be a very busy, cramped summer?

I understand the July 14th match in Madrid is for charity and a record could be set with 80,000+ expected in attendance. And across the net in this tennis spectacle will be his main rival these days, Novak Djokovic.

But again, the match falls between an incredibly busy period in the calender. Nadal will have just gone through Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, French Open, Halle and Wimbledon before the match.

And just after the exo, he’s looking at the Olympics, Toronto, Cincinnati and then the US Open, with a possible Davis Cup semifinal tie against the US in mid-September before any kind of significant breather.

That’s virtually five straight months for a guy who couldn’t give it a go against Murray two weeks? Remember Nadal took a month off after the Australian Open to get right, but then started feeling knee pain after just one event in Indian Wells. So how the hell is his body (knee, shoulder, etc) going to hold up though that ambitious schedule?

Further, I know exo tennis is about as meaningful as a practice set, but if this match does get the hype as it may, Rafa’s going to probably give it a little more time and effort in this one. And we know how grueling these Nadal-Djokovic encounters have been (yeah I know It’s an exo, but couldn’t he have picked his buddy F-Lo who would have kept the points shorter?).

So while I applaud the guys getting together on this and raising (a ton of) money for good causes, I just wonder if he (and Novak) would have been better off holding the exo later in the calendar. At least it sounds like Rafa’s knee are back to health, which is good news. But for how long?


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135 Comments for Nadal’s Knees Must Be Healed, He’ll Squeeze In A Djokovic Exo Match During A Busy Summer

CM Says:

It is very clear, he is not injured, not before not now.


Mark Says:

Yes Sean you are being cynical. This is a no pressure exo match. I believe the date more or less coincides with the 110th anniversary of Real Madrid. When you say “holding off till later in the calendar” when do you suggest? During the football season?


Mark Says:

@CM. You prat do you think Rafa went to his doctor to have treatment and ordered to rest completely for over a week just for fun?? You r one brainless dude!!!


jatt Says:

I guess for expo’s players get a huge money for appearances..


Humble Rafa Says:

It is very clear, he is not injured, not before not now.


Millions of dollars now or put up with a knee that might “crack and break”. I will take the money now.

Thanks,

Your Humbly
Humble Highness


Dave Says:

Sean, you are monumentally cynical to even consider that Nadal’s knees will be so magically cured that he will not withdraw on the eve of the exhibition to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Real Madrid. After all it is only an exhibition, and we all know that Nadal gives priority to ATP tourneys over an exhibition for a football team. Come on, tennis season is more important than football season in Spain, we all know that. So if Nadal feels pain just before the exhibition… have faith that he will hold a press conference and upload a YouTube video to announce his injury and withdrawal from the exhibition. Get back to your slumber, Sean, instead of putting down Rafa in this cynical way. Leave it to the cynical posters like dave to mention these contradictions.

Btw, in late February or early March, Nadal originally tried to get Federer for the exhibition but Roger had other commitments that day… and Nadal couldn’t change the date. So Djokovic was the second choice.

Nadal should have a meeting with Novak to clearly decide who is going to win which set. After the Abu Dhabi Mubadala exhibition championship over New Year’s Day, we know that Djokovic cannot be trusted to play at a slower exhibition pace even though his opponent is treating it as an exhibition.


Mark Says:

@jatt. This is a charity match to benefit the Rafa Nadal Foundation and the Real Madrid Foundation.


Mark Says:

Shame Chocolate Boy missed out on this historic event. They are expecting a turnout in excess of 80,000 fans.


Anna Says:

This is strictly my opinion, but here you go. Rafa’s knees were tweaked after the AO, and possibly even before considering they decided to forgo all tourneys between AO and IW so he could R&R. He probably should have had treatments after AO, but then the timing of such treatments is very important. Which is more important, the American hardcourt season, or the clay season? Any fan of Nadals knows it’s the clay season that matters most. So, play IW and Miami to the semis to try to retain enough points to maintain 2nd in the rankings (this is huge for position in the draw), get the knees treated just before MC and then go all out for the clay season. Clay provides the best opportunity for Rafa to win tournaments. It’s also the best place to take on Nole for a final.


Dave Says:

Woohoo, 80,000 fans to help the quely cookie monster break the record of Serena and Kim! What a historic event! Federer prefers to break the record of Nadal and Djokovic when he plays his exhibition at Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium.
http://www.realmadrid.com/cs/Satellite/en/Actualidad/1330089161221/noticia/
NoticiaFundacionRM/Realmadrid_Foundation_to_commemorate_club
_s_110th_anniversary_in_annual_Alma_Gala.htm


Sean Randall Says:

^^^ Sorry Dave, had to break your link. It was breaking the page. In future please use a shortener for links that big.

Mark, in my view it’s really bad timing for Nadal giving this is an Olympic year and he’s already been suffering from knee and shoulder problems. I don’t know much at about the Euro football season, but could they do this in late September perhaps?

The team might be playing then (I don’t know) but this exo match is right in the heart of Rafa’s season.

With the way his body (or is it mind?) has already been breaking down this year, why add another event?


Mark Says:

Sean. September would be right in the heart of the football season hence the July date.


Mark Says:

Sean. Just to add – this is a huge huge event both for Rafa and Real Madrid and as I said previously this is an exo with no pressure and for a great cause. I can assure it won’t last for 5 or 6 hours. It will most probably be played on grass as well and definitely not hard court so let everybody enjoy themselves on this great occasion.


Ben Pronin Says:

Since this is just a charity exhibition, maybe they’ll just play a set or a pro set or something. I think it’s safe to assume Djokovic and Nadal will have, at the worst, reasonable success in the next few months. I’m sure if they’re both tired they won’t play too much.

Dave, I’m guessing you’re mad Djokovic wiped the floor with Federer back in Abu Dhabi? To be fair, that event is like between a charity exho and an actual ATP event. It’s a tournament, and the top players play. It’s similar to Kooyong in that sense. I honestly don’t know how much more seriously Federer takes Doha than Abu Dhabi. Both events are basically just warm up for Australia, where it really matters.


Dan Martin Says:

Milos is a big dude – great photo


jane Says:

I know, Dan, right? Did you scan the next picture? It’s just of their legs (from behind) and it’s amazing to see the difference in size.


mat4 Says:

Hi, jane.

Yes, the second picture is amazing.


jamie Says:

Nadal knows he won’t win any titles after the clay season(like in 2011) so he will play as many exho$ as he can. That is the only place where he will win something outside of clay, at exhoS.


Wog boy Says:

jane,
I am pretty sure they have lot in common, language, birthplace of their parents (few kilometars). I know Milos is Canadian but he speaks Serbian (Montenegrin version) :-)
When it comes to how tall Milos is, well if you go down there you will not find short people and if you find it…they are not native:-)
Btw. Check the proportions beetwen leggs and torso !


King Federer Says:

Now, where are the moral police who advocated “no-name-calling” on the stakhovsky thread? or do they want policing only when rafa fans are called out?

nadal is a joker when it comes to injuries. guy deserves no sympathy when he retires/withdraws when he is as thick as a block of cheese. you cannot get basic scheduling, right?


jane Says:

Hi mat4, that is an interesting article: the parts about switching coaches, being a younger brother, and so forth – also how one big loss can have a tremendous impact. Thanks for sharing it.


Tom Gainey Says:

Roger addressed this directly after the Dubai final on March 3:

Q. We heard yesterday that you refused to play an exhibition against Rafa in Spain in July. What were the reasons for saying no?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn’t refuse. Don’t place words in my mouth. I’m not saying you are, but I don’t want that word going around Spain. I was excited about the idea. I mentioned dates I could do it. It was difficult to find the right dates.
I don’t know the latest actually. It might still happen. Might not. May be Rafa will do it with a different player.
But I have a busy schedule, and I think they were looking at a date between Wimbledon and the Olympics. I just felt it was a tough date, the one he gave me, so I don’t know what exactly he is.
But maybe we’ve stopped talk or we’re still talking. I’ll see him in a few days and who knows if we’ll all of a sudden have a solution or not.


billyboy512 Says:

Sean,

You have always been MASSIVELY cynical toward anything Nadal ever since he deprived your hero of a record atop the ATP rankings.

I hear an axe grinding every few months I check back in on this site. Such a shame.


adam Says:

Its an expo, he’s not going to be pushing himself the way he does in a match. Expos are just shows, people always forget that. I can guarantee that if nadal was to not play the expo that day he would be on the court training much harder than he would be working in the expo.


skeezerweezer Says:

Rafa makes his own news. Not Sean, Tom, the sky, the rock. You Rafa fanatics love to come here and always blame someone else. Its never Rafa’s fault. Wake up.
He goes public and says he has knee problems and can’t play, then he within a month he is playing an exho. Typical “Cry Wolf” Rafa stuff…sorry…who else plays the injury card more than Rafa on Tour? Nobody. What a fine example for Tennis Juniors.


Alex Says:

It would be funny if Nadal wins the exhibition match against Djokovic and that changes the momentum of their rivalry.

Like when Andy Roddick beat Roger Federer in the California exhibition match. Then followed it up a couple of weeks later, with a win in Miami.


alison hodge Says:

i have to say as much as i love Rafa im in agreement with skeezer,hes a fantastic player who will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greats,but the never ending rabbiting on regarding injuries, when as a fan i would rather be dissussing,the idea that he is arguably the greatest ever clay court player,will only tarnish his legacy when he does eventually retire from the game,as a fan you want to here positive talk not negative talk,shame really.


mat4 Says:

@alison:

In ten, fifteen years no one will remember his antics. Only his results will matter. So, don’t worry.


alison hodge Says:

thanks mat4 i suppose your right,that said he doesnt do himself any favours though,love the guy cant help it,but his antics even get up my nose alot of the time these days.


Mark Says:

@Alison hodge. And what antics might that be??? Heh???


mat4 Says:

@Alison:

You’re a bit too hard toward him. I wrote once that especially Roger and Rafa play for a place in history. Rafa doesn’t want to be to best clay court player ever, but the greatest player ever. And he was on his way to achieve it when, out of nowhere, he was stopped. So it is a lot of pressure suddenly. It is not easy to cope with.


Skorocel Says:

“yeah I know It’s an exo, but couldn’t he have picked his buddy F-Lo who would have kept the points shorter?”

LOL ;-)


alison hodge Says:

thanks mat4 and right again,if not for nole he would probably be sitting pretty with another 3 slams by now,and maybe be on the way to surpassing roger,and who knows he still might,and one things for sure rafa been rafa,certainly wont stop trying,and rafas never been shy of a challenge anyway and thats what i love about the guy.


alison hodge Says:

Mark the injury talk before,during and after a tourney,the mtos,the two year rolling ranking,and the taking a pop at roger,are the antics im talking about,like i say i love the guy,but i also love my significant other,but that does not mean to say that they dont annoy the hell out of me from time to time,i take them as they are faults and flaws and all.


Mark Says:

@Alison hodge. You as a Rafa fan shouldn’t be talking about these so called “flaws”. The others do enough Rafa bashing and it is not natural for a fan to agree with them. Rather stay quiet.


alison hodge Says:

mark dont get me wrong the rafa bashing does get on my nerves,but theres a fair bit of bashing of the other top players too,it goes with the territory of been a fan,and when you go on a forum your fair game anyway,i dont bash or hate any player theres enough hate going on i feel in the real world,the only thing i try to do is give an honest, fair and unbiased opinion any which way that i can,ive grown a thicker skin as its like brando once said,its the age of the internet people are free to make whatever comments they want,and some are not worth bothering with and are therefore best ignored,as they are not worth bothering with.


alison hodge Says:

BTW Mark i love rafa win or loose,and very much miss him when he doesnt play,vamos rafa.


Ajet Says:

Mark:

it’s not like rafa’s bashed alone! in fact most djoker and nadal fans have always been pointing their guns towards roger and keep blasting him out of jealousy/hatred(though sometimes their criticism of roger is very very justified as well as roger ain’t perfect either)! so certainly not a bumpy ride just for nadal fans!


alison hodge Says:

Ajet yeah great post, i agree ive never had a problem giving or taking constructive critisism,its the hating of the players,and the personal attacks on each other,that go a bit below the belt sometimes.


the_mind_reels Says:

@mat4:

“And he was on his way to achieve it when, out of nowhere, he was stopped. So it is a lot of pressure suddenly. It is not easy to cope with.”

Perhaps a bit of an extreme position…like Nadal was on a crashcourse with destiny when all of a sudden, the marauding Serbian materialized from nowhere and started beating Nadal to a pulp. Before 2009, Djokovic had a winning record against Nadal on hardcourts. The signs have always been there that Djokovic could be trouble for the guy. It just took Djokovic getting his fitness/head space right for it all to click.

Federer fans could say the same about Fed’s inevitable march to greatness (though many would say he’s achieved the top status), but he’d very likely have a handful more GS’s if it weren’t for Nadal.

This argument (a) certainly isn’t unique to Nadal and (b) more generally doesn’t really hold. It’s just competition and the improving field that’s always in chase.


Steve 27 Says:

Djokovic, in fact, could be the second best Hard Court of all time, after Federer. He might surpass Agassi, Sampras, Connors , Lendl, if not demoralized before. I think he can do it.


mat4 Says:

@the_mind_reels:

I agree with most of your points.

But it looked really like Nadal was on a crashcourse with destiny when all of a sudden, a marauding Serbian materialized from nowhere.

You could say the same for Federer and a nasty Spaniard.

Those three players are a bit like a thesis-antithesis-synthesis evolution in modern tennis. I enjoy watching all three of them.


alison hodge Says:

steve27 you could be right and that would be amazing for nole,and then his haters will say hes only a hard court player,the way they do about rafa on a clay court,just a theory but i feel for him already,should that happen.


alison hodge Says:

Rafa was Rogers nemisis,and now Nole is Rafas nemisis,ATM Nole doesnt really have a nemisis,so it will be interesting to see how Nole fairs when that eventually does happen,murray or delpo hmm?as a fan of rafa im glad he won the uso in 2010,as i wouldnt give him much chance against nole atm,with the form hes in.


jamie Says:

ATM Nole doesnt really have a nemisis,so it will be interesting to see how Nole fairs when that eventually does happen,murray or delpo hmm?

_______________________________

Apparently the nemesis will be Murray.

Djokovic’s fall will be thunderous and resounding with Murray as the main protagonist.

Seeing is believing. I have to actually see this happen to believe it.

But the player that will dethrone Djokovic will be Murray.

This is what the psychic told me.


alison hodge Says:

in other words jamie enjoy djokovic while you can,everthing might be hunky dory atm,but nothing ever lasts for ever,however if and when that does happen,a player,any player whomever they are may not dominate any more,but may still go on to win more slams,so take note,no offence but its nice to here you using some common sense.


alison hodge Says:

Jamie that was a very mature post,your learning.


Sienna Says:

Havent you guys sorted out the plot up to Garros yet?
Nadal is not gonna save his #2 seed at Garros and there is no Wimbledon lifeline for him #2 in ranking is #2 seed. He will be seeded #3 it has been plotted. He will meet Novak in semi. Ordeal!!! That match will last 6 to 7 hours and gives the winner of the other semi a real chance on beating either one of those men. I think it will be Fed earning his second clayslam.
He is (far) better then last year, fitter, sdharoer, faster, quicker more focussed and Garros was his best slam last year, so be carefull what you wish for Nadanino’s!

Roger will turn the table on Nadal this year. He already won on slow HC Now he will be even more dangerous on the quicker clay where versitality pays off even more.


Wog boy Says:

If I am Fedfan, I would be worried for #3 position, Andy is close and he proved last year he can play on clay:-)


skeezerweezer Says:

@Wog Boy

It’s all just gravy now for this Fed fan, ANY tournament won this past year and looking ahead puts him farther up the top ring of all time greats. Fed has his own opportunity to climb to #2 also.

Your man looks poised for a great Clay court season. Hopefully Andy can make some noise this year.


RZ Says:

Jamie, I remember thinking a few years ago about how close Nole always came to beating Rafa but couldn’t quite do it (examples are the 2008 Olympics semis and the 2009 Madrid semi), and that if he was just a little more confident, he should be able to topple Rafa when it counted. He seems to have figured it out in early 2011.

I’m wondering if Murray is in a similar position as the “Old Nole.” He’s had a few recent close matches with Nole but except for Dubai (I’m not counting Nole’s retirement in Cincinnati last year), hasn’t been able to get over the finish line (Aussie Open 2012, Rome 2011). I guess we’ll see…


mat4 Says:

@Skeezer:

It will be a very difficult clay season for Novak, without any doubt. Rafa can win his seventh FO next year, or perhaps in two years, but if Novak doesn’t win at Roland Garros, his path to glory will become a long and winding road.

Why do you hope Andy can make some noise this year? Why not Roger? I am utterly convinced that, if he plays Rafa at the FO this year, he will prevail. Wanna bet?


mat4 Says:

I am also convinced that Murray won’t make the semi.

(Yes, I know, it could finish among my top ten stupidity ever… but I am willing to risk what has left of my reputation…)


mat4 Says:

… stupidities…


Dave Says:

Sean, np as I was hoping a mod would break the link. It was my mistake but once posted there was no way to edit it. Anyway here’s the shortened URL: http://tinyurl.com/76lzfk3

Ben Pronin, you keep jumping to speculative conclusions because you are reading too much into any information in order to fit your pr-conceived notions . In the last blog, you speculatively claimed that Stakhovsky was friends with Federer. Her you like to post your bad guesses and poor analyses. Duh, a rational, economic person like me was happy that Djokovic cut short Federer wasting time at an exhibition event he was probably paid about $1.5 million to appear and which Federer probably is a silent investor along with IMG. Thank goodness Federer offered little resistance. However, the ticket paying audience were probably mad that Djokovic robbed them of watching a longer match.

The Mubadala World Tennis Championship is just another tennis exhibition tournament. If you did you homework, you would have realized that Federer has played in many such exhibition tournaments, yet won only three of them (2001 TeleRing, 2005 AAMI, 2009 AAMI). Each time he won a pre-Australian Open exhibiton, he failed to win the Australian Open. Federer has won all three Doha finals he contested in straight sets. Roger may have won two pre-AO exos but he also lost two other finals in straight sets. In 2007, he lost the AAMI final to Roddick then demolished Roddick at the AO semifinal two weeks later.

An astute Federer observer would realize that Federer played in a lower gear against Djokovic in Roger’s only match at Mubadala, yet raised his game three days later in his opening Doha match against Davydenko. When you watch Federer look at his feet – he was moving with more energy, purpose and effort at Doha than in the Abu Dhabi exo.


mat4 Says:

When I am at it, let’s finish with the nonsense roll off: ten insanely bold predictions for 2012:

1. Djokovic will win the AO,
2. Federer will win IW,
3. Djokovic will win Miami,
4. Baghdatis will lose weight,
5. I will lose weight,
6. Murray will be convinced that he could have won the matches he lost against Nole, Rafa, Raja,
7. Rafa will hurt his knees, or his foot, or something else,
8. The USO final will be played on Sunday or Monday,
9. There won’t be any night session at the FO, because Paris is the city of light.


Wog boy Says:

Skeezer,
I cannot argue that one.


andrea Says:

alex – ‘momentum change’?

21-3?

perhaps not.


the_mind_reels Says:

@mat4:

While I can’t really comment on the feasibility of #5, I’m onboard with the list. Nice work.


jane Says:

Well done mat4, well done!


Sienna Says:

It is impossible to predict the exact winners. But it is fun to look at schedule and form and fitness and then try to asses the players how the field would play out over the comming months.

It is a given that Fed has made the most progression between 2011 en 2012 in both mental and physicalstate. We have not seen him in this state since 2008… maybe the beginning of 2010 was a good form buth a lunginfection threw that of. Now he is set for a mighty year.

Murray is almost ready but he has to waite another year or so to be completely on top of Nadal and Djokor. He will never be the better of Fed or Fed decides to ease in the tour.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

Yes. It was a tough call. But I kind of thought, if Jamie can make it, why not me?


mat4 Says:

@the_mind_reels:

the fifth is indeed an insanely bold prediction.


alison hodge Says:

JMO i dont know if jamies pyschic does excist,or if hes just pulling everyones leg,but be that as it may,it was a refreshing change to here him talking like a real fan of tennis,rather than some djokovic hero worshipper,no federer or nadal bashing this time,nice one jamie your maturing.


mat4 Says:

I watched once more the first set of the Federer-Djokovic semi at the AO last year. When you compare it to their best sequences in the last two MS, you are utterly surprised how their respective games have changed.


jane Says:

^ mat4, Care to elaborate on your last post here? :)


mat4 Says:

Hi jane.

I wanted to do so right away, but I had to leave and I just posted what I wrote until that moment.


skeezerweezer Says:

mat4,

6:22; re; Murray, well.. I am hoping here that he breaks through this year and wins a slam. If he can’t this year, will he ever?
Re; Novak…..since he has become the top dog he has come out and said he has his sights on FO….he probably would have won it last year imo if not for Rog……and to get it he needs to have a decent season on the Dirt. Me thinks his best prepared effort will be in this stretch.
Re; Fed….i cannot predict my own fav….rog is in his own zone in his latter years, seems he can beat and win anything and lose to anybody/anything. So who knows other than everyone knows Olympics are something he really has his sights on this year.

I regress to jamie. She knows best.

Lol on your USO prediction, i’ll predict Monday (sarc), as usual.


Humble Rafa Says:

I predict Murray aka Lady Forehand to choke in 2012.

Arrogant One will lose a big serving out of top 100 player.

Your Humble Highness runs out of gas after the olympics. In keeping with my life long tradition of not defending any non-clay court title, your HH will not win the gold in the olympics.


Sienna Says:

Wog boy Says:
If I am Fedfan, I would be worried for #3 position, Andy is close and he proved last year he can play on clay:-)

April 12th, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Wog boy
That can only happen if / when Murray wins upcomming master event(s) or reach finals and when he does it is even more good news for Fed because that means the difference between him and top 2 is even closer then at this moment so then 1 match can turn everything upside down.


Sienna Says:

But regrettfully Murray probably will fade away at the really important time.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

Finally, some time for myself.

Yes, their games have changed. I watched again he second set, then some sequences from the Fed-Rafa matches in M 2011 and IW 2012 to refresh memories. It is not a representative sample, of course, but that’s when they try to produce their best.

First, a disclaimer: I don’t think that they have learned or changed much in their shots, it is rather a question of strategy and preferences, of shot selection.

In general: their games converge, and their whole strategies are focused on two points: creating and denying angles. The patterns of play are more and more similar.

Novak’s serve becomes more and more Federesque. The spot selection is almost the same now (his final against Murray, when he served well, is a good witness of that). With players waiting the ball 3 yards beyond the baseline, you have to find the lines.

Roger improved his backhand, but Nole’s backhand changed too, and in the same direction: they have mostly improved their cross court BH, adding angle and spin. Novak had difficulties to hit his BH down the line, recently, especially since he relies more and more on his FH.

They have also improved their CC FH, adding both spin and angle. Novak surprised me last year with the revival of a flat FH, played with a very short and fast move of the arm, but he plays it rarely now. Roger is now able to hit CC FH after FH, since he has more security because of the top spin.

I have the impression that they don’t try to hit through that much any more, but there, I’m afraid I am wrong.

Djokovic has tremendously improved his volley, especially deep, angled volleys, and approaches the net more often. It was always one of Roger’s strong points, but it becomes more evident that one has to have a good transition game to win points.

Basically, I think that they are one step in front of all in their understanding of the game. Rafa demonstrated that you can run a lot of shots and play effective defence on the new court surfaces. Murray followed, Ferrer too, and more and more players are ready to run for every ball.

But in the last few months Djokovic and Federer traced the path to a new conception of the game, a blend of offence and defence: how to displace the opponent, how to open the court, how to finish the points. They couldn’t rely on Rafa’s idiosyncratic strategy, they had to find the optimum one.

It is not by chance that Roger has improved his results against Rafa: in 2010, their match at the WTF lasted three sets, last year it was an easy win for Roger. Then, IW, with his slow surface. Roger was more patient, he waited to open the court far better. Strategically, he was far above Rafa (but Rafa is an exceptional champion, and he has won many matches where, tennis wise, he was clearly outmatched).

Will add some thoughts in my next post.


mat4 Says:

It is very unusual to see that such talented players show such a deep understanding of the game. Roger proved it a few years ago, when he stopped playing serve and volley. He once again demonstrated this when he hired Paul Annacone, and when he made another shift last spring or so.

Djokovic has Marian Vajda, who can blend short terms improvements (working on a BH at the height of the elbow) and a long term vision.

That’s why I don’t believe much in Murray: it was too easy for him. He is happy to move the ball around and to wait for a mistake. Now, he wants to add a FH, move the ball around and wait for a chance to finish the point.

But he has no conception about how to move the ball around. And his interviews from last year, and this year too, show that he doesn’t understand what makes the difference: yes, it is a question of nutrition, fitness (but he was already the strongest, fastest, and fittest), yes, it is also a question of mentality in clutch moments, but it is also a question of strategy and conception.


jamie Says:

mat4 Says:

It is not by chance that Roger has improved his results against Rafa: in 2010, their match at the WTF lasted three sets, last year it was an easy win for Roger. Then, IW, with his slow surface. Roger was more patient, he waited to open the court far better. Strategically, he was far above Rafa (but Rafa is an exceptional champion, and he has won many matches where, tennis wise, he was clearly outmatched).

Will add some thoughts in my next post.

==================================

Federer has not beaten Nadal in a slam in five years.

That so called improvement of his results against Nadal is not happening at the slams. RG 2011 where he gave Nadal a birthday present by taking out Nole and then losing in the final despite having chances to win the first set plus AO SF this year tells the story.


jamie Says:

As long as he keeps meeting Nadal at the slams in SF, he will be doing Nole a favor because he will lose to Nadal in SF and Nole will win the slam finals against Nadal.


mat4 Says:

@jamie:

To win a best of five match requires strength, stamina, luck, mental fortitude and who knows what else. And just like I wrote, Rafa has won a fair share of matches when he was dominated tennis wise. He almost won the AO 2012, although he was clearly outplayed for most of the match.

Rafa’s game is a bit idiosyncratic, because he is lefty, and because of his clay roots. He relies very much on his forehand, and doesn’t open the court enough with his BH. He relies also on the height of the bounce more than other players. His speed and stamina make of him a exceptional retriever. But he has always had and clear strategy, well suited to his abilities, the courts and the equipment. Unfortunately, he is the only one who can play this way.


mat4 Says:

“As long as he keeps meeting Nadal at the slams in SF, he will be doing Nole a favor because he will lose to Nadal in SF and Nole will win the slam finals against Nadal.”

As a Novak fan, I just hope you are right.


mat4 Says:

Finally, I admit that I could be wrong, and that there’s is no conception whatsoever in the latest changes in Novak’s or Fed’s game, but that they work on a one shot base.


mat4 Says:

But just observe Roger’s backhand return. His backhand overall.


mat4 Says:

The way he uses his backhand reveals clearly his evolution from a counter-attacker to a pure offensive player.


mat4 Says:

My last post is BS.


Ajet Says:

TEN THINGS FOR REAL:

1.thanks alison for agreeing! :)

2.I would never bet on fed beating nadal at RG unless I see it!

3. mat4 is right in saying that. i also am gonna go out on a limb and say: forget about murray reaching FO final in 2012!

4.Though nobody believes in murray including me that he is suddenly gonna topple djoker, BUT murray’s certainly the one who should do it best! murray’s 3 most important things on his side to take down djoker: game, motivation and age!
but djoker has one thing which keeps him at the top: champion’s fighting mentality!
if murray somehow finds his inner hunger to compete, to fight and to focus, then he certainly, with age on his side, should be able to reach no.1 spot, the guy’s super-talented just like djoker!

4.Federer can never be counted out anywhere anytime except against nadal at RG.

5.Nadal can never be counted out anywhere!

6.federer is still not an easy fish for djoker to swallow!

7.nadal at least should be able to stop djoker in clay if nadal doesn’t play like the freaked out guy of 2011!

8.Djoker is fave against nadal everywhere except clay!

9.Delpotro doesn’t seem in the right state(gamewise or mentality-wise) to make a difference at the top!

10.fedal matches should become more and more interesting should nadal continue to criticise and badmouth federer in the open!

BOLDEST PREDICTION EVER:

Nadal’s winning RG 12! ;)


Ajet Says:

@April 13th, 2012 at 4:06 pm post of mat4:

TOTAL AGREE!!! U got eagle eyes man!

The only one point where i would differ is that federer during his prime used to play those ridiculously angled BHs against nadal on grass in particular and in other courts in general and used to completely throw nadal out of rythm and position and used to hit screeching offensive shots as winners off his FHs to win points or rallies! so instead of saying fed has improved his BH, I’d rather say that it’s just adrenaline rush of fed at times that makes him play those cross court BHs, it looks like fed has turnedthe clock back at times this year, but it’s more like an apparition, don’t think fed’ll be able to play offensive off his BH going into the future! however, if fed’s able to keep playing those thumping crosscourt BHs to push nadal out of position during their matches, then his chances are gonna be good vs rafa!

BTW, dunno if you’d agree with me, but i think that watching these days makes you know that nadal’s BH has lost its sting and offensiveness of late! nadal uses BH just as a cover up these days to prolong the rally rather than hitting winners off BH like he used to do 4-5-6-7 yeARS AGO.


mat4 Says:

@Ajet:

Come on, be serious…


mat4 Says:

@Ajet (552):

I am watching the AO final to see if I didn’t make things up. Roger is certainly more patient these days, and he adds some top spin for security on his FH. And, after a set, I am certain that I wasn’t wrong writing that he doesn’t try to hit through the court any more, but focuses primarily on opening the court first.

About the backhand: he hits higher balls effectively these days, and can pressure his opponent with his backhand more effectively.


Ajet Says:

mat4:

you’re right about federer not trying to hit through the court these days.
in fact, the thing is that federer has always been the kind of aggressive player, who also is generaly very patient when he’s in good shape, attacks as well as defends in such a way that he can open up the cort as much as he can, and set up perfect space and opportunity for hitting those damning FH winners of his. fed, midway during 2008-11 had becom a bit impatient, and was trying for too much. but hopefully he’s now again trying to be wise like he was in his heydays, and attacks rivals in such a way and even defends again with such ferocity that opportunities’re being created for executing his lightning winners!


Ajet Says:

but one point of yours which i certainly cannot deny is that fed has learned hitting higher balls off his BH more effectively and offensively than he ever has!

priorly he wasn’t handling high coming balls to his bh better, but now he’s finally perhaps shed his stubbornness and has made changes like the one you noted here.


Ajet Says:

mat4:

you’re right about fed evolving his bh game a bit better to handle the high coming balls to his that side.


jane Says:

mat4, Thanks, I too just found a moment and saw your responses. So, with these adjustments in mind, do you still think a Nole-Fed match is a pick em (i.e., close to 50-50) or does Fed’s percentage go up or what? Chances are they will run into each other soon. It used to be that we could count on them having met by this time at least once, but other than the exo, they haven’t. No at Dubai, IW, Miami, or AO. Yet they’ve both won some titles – just managing to get through without meeting. Unlike last year, when, by they time they’d played 3 matches already.


jane Says:

Please forgive the typos – it’s been a long day and I still have loads of work to do…


harry Says:

@mat4 –

I agree that Fed’s FH and BH appear to have more spin than a few years back. But I think the clay season will provide answers to many questions.

Overall his return of serve has become worse as he has become older. For example, during his heydays in 2004/5/6 he won around 31% of the return games that he faced; while he wins just 27% in 2010/11/12. On clay this trend is even more stark over the years…

But to counter that this year his own second serve strategy is stunning, winning 63%. My impression, watching his over the years, is that he serves fewer down-the-T serves — which is an offensive strategy.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

I am proofing some texts myself, preparing them to be published. It is usually my worst nightmare, and I have a lot of works remaining. What would I give for some poetry now!

I am certain that there will be a Nole 3.0 a year from now, or at least a Nole 2.5. In the meantime… Roger has a better transition game, a better serve, a better backhand slice; Nole has a better return, a more robust backhand, and generally is steadier from the baseline. There forehands were among the most effective in the game last year (I read some stats, but I can’t find them now). The key is usually Roger’s serve and Novak’s return.

So, who knows? Roger was in better shape last month, but Novak is closer and closer to his best, he demonstrated it in the first sets of the quarter and semi in Miami, and he played the final quite well.

Just like you, I would like to know… We should ask Jamie, perhaps.

Courage! mon amie. Let’s do our homework.


jane Says:

mat4, tokay mon amie – let’s get to work. We’ll save the poetry and tennis for later when we can indulge. Talk soon, thanks for your thoughts – always interesting to read them.


mat4 Says:

jane, what does “tokay” means?


Wog boy Says:

mat4,
Few days ago I read Murray’s interview in which he said that this year he is focused on Wimbledon and Olympics because it is something special representing your country. This brings me to one of your previous comments that in the last 12 months he is doing whatever Nole is doing starting with gluten free food. I am not saying he wasn’t patriotic before, but he has never shown that in a way Nole did.
I always had the feeling that he needs approval from somebody that what he did was right (good), feeling that he was never allowed to be his own man, to mature. I am not talking about Federer because he was always his own man, but if you look at Nole, he became, tennis wise, independent a long time ago, and had to mature fast due to his circumstances, his father had and still has his influence but nothing to do with tennis because he doesn’t have a clue nor he had about tennis but is very good in buisness. I do hope that you are getting what I am trying to say, for this is a sensitive topic it is very hard to put it in English, for me, and not offend somebody, at the end Andy is my second favorite!


jane Says:

mat4, lol mea culpa! – It means nothing – maybe it’s poetry? I meant to write “okay”. Am soooooo tired. And sooooo busy. Forgive the typo – one of many today.


Wog boy Says:

I thought you are talking about Tokay (english spelling) or Tokaji (Hungarian spelling) wine:) Famous one!
Very good one, just too sweet for me.


jane Says:

Wog Boy, I have just opened a bottle, but it’s pinot grig – I didn’t even realize I’d referred to a wine – must’ve been a Freudian slip. :)


mat4 Says:

@jane, WB:

I envy you. But I don’t drink wine: you never know when you’re drunk. Wine is too dangerous.

I have a bottle of vodka in the fridge, but I don’t like to drink alone. So, cheers!


Wog boy Says:

jane,
Happens to me often, too often.

Good taste, jane. Enjoy it.

I cannot have anything, have to drive. I will make it up tomorrow, it is Easter Day, and it is the end of Great Lent.
Lunch at my friends place, dinner at home all sorts of old fashion food……. and drinks:) Cannot wait.


Wog boy Says:

mat4,

Thanks, I will give you a tip, keep Vodka in the freezer, not in the fridge. I do it that way, looks nice when it is on table and tastes much better with a slice of lemon.

Btw, I don’t drink red wines because they hit you when you are in the bed and the whole room goes upside down. But I LOVE white ones.


mat4 Says:

@WB:

About Murray.

First, I read a lot about the “iron man” Lendl. Lendl was a choker. He wears a mask just to hide it. I don’t know how he can help AM more than Gilbert or Maclagan.

He really has to find it in himself. And like Skeezer said, he is 25 now. If he can’t find it this year, will he ever?

There is another thing: we usually find that he didn’t play his best at the most crucial moments. I don’t agree. He played the way he always plays.

Last year, he played excellent first and third sets against Novak in the AO final. He changed the tension of his racquet, and it affected his play at the beginning of the second set. But let’s not be delusional. His best just wasn’t good enough. He tried to play defence, and was outplayed. He was more offensive in the third set, but still lost. You can’t say he was surprised by Novak’s level, because they worked together before the AO. You can’t blame his FH, because Roger played mostly on his FH the year before, and he should have be ready for pressure on that side.

Since he hired Lendl, he lost a clutch semi against Novak, lost two other finals rather easily, and was outplayed by a journeyman in IW. His only accomplishment was that semi in Dubai, when Novak was still searching for his A game. Nothing much.

So much for the “Lendl effect”. On the other side, just like Tsonga, he really needs a coach. So, there should be some results.


mat4 Says:

@WB:

Not in the freezer. I like vodka’s awful taste.

To finish with Murray.

I think that he don’t need the British press to put pressure on him: he does it all by himself. “I should have won…”, “Olympic gold”…

It is good to have big objectives and to believe in his own strength, but Murray doesn’t have only a problem with his mental fortitude.

The best definition I read was a joke: “Roger has a Rafa problem. Rafa has a Novak problem. Novak has a Roger problem. Murray has a lot of problems.”


mat4 Says:

My objective—to write more than Dave in a thread—is finally achieved.


Wog boy Says:

mat4,

:-)


jane Says:

I prefer gin to vodka – at least gin has a taste. Wog Boy, I avoid red wines too, but mainly because they make my face too red and I am vain. LOL. Well, occasionally I’ll have some really good organic Italian reds. But mainly, like you I prefer a chilled white.

mat4, I notice you’re hard on Muzza lately; I think that may be the Lendl effect for you! ;). Some of your points make sense. I do feel he wasn’t at his best in the slam finals he has played, though – he seemed nervous in both AO finals – mentally uncomfortable. Murray plays his best on grass. That’s my opinion. I also think he is better on clay than some think. Yet, his best results have obviously come on hard courts (3 slam finals) so maybe that is his best surface? I would seem so, but I just think his game is suited more to grass – or maybe even clay if he sticks with counter-punching. Hmm…. Perhaps we’ll know more at the end of this year. To me, the talent is clear, but the jury may still be out, for now. It’s early in his relationship with ITT so we can’t know just yet how much of a difference he can make.


skeezerweezer Says:

No one mentions Tequlla?

Vamooos!


mat4 Says:

@jane:

Yes, there is some Lendl effect, I admit. I just hate this guy. I believe he is in this story for his own sake, not Murray’s.

I also think that, with a good coach (Piatti, Lundgren, Maclagan…), Andy would have already won a slam.

He behaves like a spoiled kid searching an authoritative father.


mat4 Says:

@Skeezer:

No tequila. Too dangerous too.


jane Says:

skeezer, Tequila? Only in my deepest darkest moments, (or if someone else makes me a margarita), and I often regret it afterwards. Besides which, who wants to drink something with a worm in it!? ;)

mat4, awwww. I hope Murray comes through and wins something big. :(


harry Says:

@jane, wogboy –

reading your discussions, I just opened a cabernet sauvignon :-) cheers, sante, prost!


Humble Rafa Says:

I am so humble that I will hurt my knee for charity’s sake.


skeezerweezer Says:

@harry
Nothin like a good Cab :-)

Jane… Actually there is a song that’ says “Tequila makes your clothes fall off”, so I am careful with it too. Don’t want to embarass myself.


harry Says:

@skeezerweezer, this is a good cabernet!


harry Says:

The draw challenge for monte carlo seems to be starting this saturday (14th).


Wog boy Says:

harry,

Ziveli, nazdravlje….


harry Says:

Thanks Wog boy. it sounds so similar to czech…


Wog boy Says:

harry,
It is Slavic language, the base of the word is the same, I guess once upon a time it was same language. When I listen “staroslavjanski” or “old slavic” during the church services I realize how much Serbian language changed in a course of centuries and beeing separated from other Slavic nations. I work in tourisam and had to look after the groups from Eastern Europe, beetwen the others. I could pick most of what Polish, Slovak, Czech, Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian groups were talking, it is very handy, particulary when they don’t know you can understand them :)


harry Says:

@Wog boy, it must be so cool to understand so many languages!


racquet Says:

Monte-Carlo draw is out. Djoko, Murray, Ferrer in same half; Tsonga, Almagro in Nadal’s half. Andy has a tough quarter. Oof!


Kimberly Says:

http://challenge.atpworldtour.com/

already picked mine, wild picks. Everyone who hasn’t joined us come on. Pick your draw and join the group tennisxfans.


Kimberly Says:

I don’t see Murray coming through his section. Djokovic will play someone else in the semi. Sorry Murray fans I just don’t see it. He has tough matches from the get go.


mat4 Says:

Just seen the draw. And seeing something like that, it is easy to believe in conspiracies.


Brando Says:

I wouldn’t rule out andy just yet! IF the draw I read is correct, he faces berdych in the qtrs and then the winner of ferrer v djokovic in the SF. Now berdych is tough for him- he lost to him at FO in 2010- BUT a winnable match also IMHO. He did well last year on clay, he’s got Lendl in his camp now- I think Murray will make it to the SF- IF he wins his round 2 match first:-)


alison hodge Says:

kimberly ive been going back and forth all morning,to see if the draw was there yet,and ive just made my picks,no wild ones,quite sensible this time,so looking forward to it cant wait,nice not to do it this time without the stress of trying to get on the site though.


alison hodge Says:

Brando hi there ive gone for a murray/nadal final in my bracket,as i too think hes getting much better on clay,i agree its a tough section for him though.


Wog boy Says:

Brando,
Viktor doesn’t stand a chance against Andy. I don’t see who can stop Andy to reach QF. there is more chances for suprise in Berdych draw, he might not reach QF.
I don’t like drow, for Nole to reach final he is going to be worn out, Ferrer -Andy (Berdych) and Nadal. I don’t have any doubt Nadal is going to make final and probably win, but I will cheer my man.
mat4, I don’t know what to say, I had a good look at the draw ……..Ferrer, Monaco, Murray I thought for a second I was looking at Miami draw:)


Brando Says:

@Wog boy: agree re murray.

@alison: hi. it’s a good pick to make. Rafa should be in the final, and andy has a ALOT better chance than people are giving him IMHO.

I favour nole from that side- BUT andy has a greater chance than most are willing to give him.

Remember Monte Carlo is his most successful clay court tourny.

Further, i think he’s got the ideal draw to prepare for the next round.


alison hodge Says:

Brando i think Andy has a good chance against Nole imo,but i think it would be difficult for him do beat nole and rafa back to back,i do see rafa getting to the final,but like you say nole is the one thats most likely to stop him,having said that though,i think i agree with what you said some weeks back,that clay is the surface that someone else like ferrer can make nole more vulnerable.


Leon Says:

Wog boy,
Happy and peaceful Easter! All the best to you, your family and your favourite.
Hristos voskrese!


Ajet Says:

I picked my bracket!


karl tres Says:

remember that injury is a natural state for nadal.
he always got an injury or recovering from injury.

so when he loses, he had an excuse.
and when he win “look i won, and i was with injury, fear play me when i am healthy, at 100%”

but we know he never is healthy or at 100%.

even when he says is rested, recovered, healthy, at 100% (like when he enter indian wells) after he loses, he “reveal” the “secret” injury he had dealing with, how he was not healthy, rested or at 100%, and that he will had to take time to recover (but usually he never skip the next tournament)


Wog boy Says:

Leon,

Vaistinu voskrese.

Thanks

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