Djokovic Opens Madrid Title Defense Tuesday; Sharapova, Serena, Azarenka In WTA Action
by Staff | May 7th, 2012, 11:33 pm
  • 104 Comments

World No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka headline a busy Tuesday at the Madrid Tennis Masters in Spain. Djokovic, who won the title last year beating home favorite Rafael Nadal, opens his title defense against another Spaniard, Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

Speaking to the press on Tuesday, the Serb reflected on his chances this week after an emotional April during which he lost his grandfather.

“I had time since my last tournament in Monte Carlo to prepare for what is coming up,” Djokovic said. “I skipped my hometown tournament because of my circumstances. I didn’t think it was the right time for me to perform, and in the other tournament I wasn’t ready emotionally. I got that extra week to rest, to prepare and to practice.”

Djokovic remained against the ATP’s decision to allow Madrid to change from red to the controversial blue clay courts.

”The only thing that is a little bit disappointing from a player’s standpoint is that this is decided without players agreeing on it,” Djokovic told the AP. ”If you don’t have, especially, top players testing the court and agreeing for this change, that should mean something. They should have value in what they say.

”Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The ATP should have done a better job in representing the players’ rights.”

Following a successful Estoril title defense, Juan Martin Del Potro faces Florian Mayer Tuesday. Also, David Nalbandian meets Milos Raonic, with the winner to play Roger Federer on Wednesday.

While Rafael Nadal also makes his debut Wednesday, his fellow lefty countrymen Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco will be on court Tuesday.

A loaded women’s field features Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams all on the schedule in second round play. Williams will test the dangerous Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova while the struggling Wozniacki takes on Mona Barthel.

“It doesn’t matter who I play,” said Serena who is 8-0 on clay this year. “This is my first tournament in Europe, so hopefully I will keep my good form and just keep going.”

On Monday, Spaniard Nicolas Almagro and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez both advanced in three sets. American wildcard Ryan Harrison celebrated his 20th birthday by upending Sergei Stakhovsky.

Almagro took aim at the blue courts after the win.

“The courts are sliding a lot,” Almagro said. “It’s a different, unique surface that isn’t used in any other tournament. It’s so close to Roland Garros that we prefer to play on red clay. The court is not in the best condition. You slip a lot and hopefully there will be no injuries.”

Serena, Sam Stosur, Petra Kvitova and French Open champion Li Na were also winners. Venus Williams was bounced by Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-1.

“I’m very happy I could beat Venus. She’s a great player, a great champion and has won so many Grand Slams,” said Kerber who next meets Li Na in the third round. “I played very well from the first point, so I’m very happy about it. It means a lot to me to win against her.”

MANOLO SANTANA start 10:50 am
K Zakopalova (CZE) vs [2] M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
[1] V Azarenka (BLR) vs [Q] A Hlavackova (CZE) – WTA
Not Before 3:15 PM
J Melzer (AUT) vs [13] F Lopez (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 6:45 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs [Q] D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) – ATP
A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [9] S Williams (USA) – WTA

ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO start 1:00 pm
[15] F Verdasco (ESP) vs D Istomin (UZB) – ATP
M Raonic (CAN) vs D Nalbandian (ARG) – ATP
F Mayer (GER) vs [10] J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
[6] T Berdych (CZE) vs K Anderson (RSA) – ATP


Also Check Out:
Djokovic Opens Rome Title Defense; Birthday Boy Murray, Serena, Sharapova Also In Action Tuesday
Serena Rips Up Azarenka At WTA Championships, Lifts Sharapova’s No. 1 Hopes
Kuznetsova Upset, Serena Williams Headlines Loaded Field at WTA Madrid
Serena Williams Leads Insanely Tough Field at WTA Madrid
Federer, Djokovic, Serena Romp In Rome; Nadal Opens Title Defense Wednesday

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get Tennis-X news FREE in your inbox every day

104 Comments for Djokovic Opens Madrid Title Defense Tuesday; Sharapova, Serena, Azarenka In WTA Action

Michael Says:

From the first look at the Blue Clay and the way it is playing it seems it is not a Clay court but a Hard court. The ball is travelling fast and the court lacks the bounce as in other clay surfaces. I think flat ball hitters like Roger, Berdych, Del Potro will relish such courts which suit their game and ofcourse Novak who is the better player on hard courts will also like the surface and the way it plays. The court may pose problems for Nadal as his top spin balls may not bounce as much as it does in other clay courts. If you want to beat Nadal in a Clay court, this is the best surface. Yet, I fancy Nadal as one of the favourites along with Novak to win the title and that is more due to the fact that Rafa is playing in front of his home crowd and also due to the fact that right now the momentum is with Nadal with Monte Carlo and Barcelona already in the bag. A Novak-Nadal final will be very interesting and if that happens, I would give a slight edge in favour of Novak.


alison hodge Says:

It seems lately whenever its a Rafa/Nole final,its always Nole who is regarded as the favourite with most people no matter what,and i suppose given that Nole beat Rafa 7 times in a row,i suppose its easy to see why,however Rogers also a great clay court player so its possible that he could upset Nole,and Delpos a player that can cause Rafa problems,so whos to say it will be a Rafa/Nole final anyway,matches are played on tennis courts not on paper.


grendel Says:

“I haven’t noticed a difference between the blue and the red clay. I think it’s the same, it’s just you don’t get as dirty,” – Serena Williams, after winning her first match. Mark Petchey agrees with you, Michael, and thinks it’s more like a hard court.


grendel Says:

alison – you’ve highlighted an interesting anomaly. The labelling of so and so as favourite sometimes lags behind current reality. So if one player appears to be dominating another, naturally he is considered favourite as between them, even though there are signs that the tide may have turned. And if it has, in fact, turned, there comes a point when everyone agrees and the attribution of favourite switches. But by then, so much time may have elapsed that the tide is perhaps on the point of turning again…..

Yes, it should go without saying that there are more than 2 players in this tournament.


racquet Says:

Raonic about to serve for a straight sets win over Nalby.


jane Says:

Felt genuinely torn about who to cheer for in Milos/Nalby match, and vacillated throughout. On one hand, I rarely cheer against Nalby, just love to watch him and not sure how long he’ll be around. On the other, I picked Milos on my bracket, and I have this weird patriotic pull when he plays. I like him too. Seems like a nice kid. Anyhow, he prevails. Fed next.


racquet Says:

And he wins. Bit of a yawn fest really. However, it should be a VERY interesting 2nd match against Federer. I’ll have the popcorn ready for that one.


grendel Says:

just when you thought Nalbandian had found his game, and was starting to show us what he can do, from 30-0 up at 4-4 he played a series of shocking points, culminating in a double fault.

Apparently Raonic was offered a place at an American University, but he turned it down in favour of training in Barcelona. Maybe that accounts – among other things – for why he looks so at ease on clay. In his curiously downbeat and undemonstrative way, he can pull out some unplayable drives off both wings and when you wouldn’t particularly expect it, either. The more I see of this young man, the clearer it is that he is a grand slam winner in the making.


racquet Says:

It was also good to see Monfils back in action and winning his 1st match. Of course he left the court riddled with blue stains as one might expect.


jane Says:

Didn’t see it racquet, but yeah it’s always good to see la Monf back at it, even when he’s bad. Such a great character!!


jamie Says:

Nalbandian is over the hill.


racquet Says:

Jane, it had it all: entertaining rallies and brilliant shot-making interspersed with howlers. IOW, a typical Monfils see-saw match.


jane Says:

Which hill would that be jamie? He is 30 years old. If that is over the hill, I think I want to climb a different one. ;)


jane Says:

I’ll try to catch the next one racquet, It should be good. I wish I had picked Monfils; for some reason I went with Ferrero, but knowing how the court plays – between clay and hard court – it might be perfect for la Monf. He can slide and fall, but perhaps without the risk of doing so on hard courts, :)


jamie Says:

Madrid is playing like fast indoor hc.

Let’s give the title to Federer(king of indoor hc) already.


Brando Says:

Glad people have recognised that this court is playing more like a fast hardcourt or an indoor court than a traditional clay court. I see djokovic as favourite due to this, followed closely by federer. They ARE the 2 best players for the given conditions. Rafa’s record against those 2 here isn’t spectacular either. He’s 1-1 against djokovic- who had match points against nadal in the one rafa won- and also 1-1 against federer ( I think federer won a set in his loss). IMHO, as a nadal fan I rather he never plays this tourny and I think nadal even said had it not been a home tourny he would have given it a miss.


Brando Says:

EXCELLENT article regarding the court. ALOT of players, commentators seem to agree with rafa and his concerns about this court. IMHO considering everything that’s been said so far this tourny seems to be a mistake by the ATP- for placing it in the middle of the clay season. Here is the link for those interested: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/9250311/Players-unhappy-with-Smurf-blue-clay-courts-at-Madrid-Masters.html


Mark Says:

@Brando. I agree Rafa should give this tourney a miss in the future. He hates it. Unfortunately IT IS his home tourney and therefore might feel obligated to play. Let’s see what unfolds this week. Who knows, he might win!!


jamie Says:

Can Nole break the Madrid Masters defending champion curse?

Nobody defended Madrid since its inception in 2002.

Not even Federer.

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

Madrid, Spain

2002 Andre Agassi
2003 Juan Carlos Ferrero
2004 Marat Safin
2005 Rafael Nadal
2006 Roger Federer
2007 David Nalbandian
2008 Andy Murray
2009 Roger Federer
2010 Rafael Nadal
2011 Novak Djokovic

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

The only non-slam winners to win Madrid are Nalbandian and Murray who are two of the best non-slam winners ever.


Brando Says:

@mark: I agree. I don’t think he’ll win though- he could face delpo in the SF and that alone is a tough one for rafa in this tourny. IMHO IF rafa wins here somehow it is a massive bonus, if he doesn’t he won’t read too much into nor will it hurt his RG chances since he knows this court is more HC than clay.


Mark Says:

Hey Jamie. Wotz news on the solar eclipse??


dari Says:

Brando- you sound life rafa- managing expectations, nothing to lose, only to gain.
Do whatever works, I say, but I guess I take on fed’s attitude, it will be tough, but sure, I can win!

Besides beating up the guy who beats up my guy and having flawless groundstrokes, novak is starting to get my fan heart. He’s up next, I can’t watch and actually felt a little pang, it was over very quickly, but it was there


jamie Says:

@Mark

An annular solar eclipse will take place on May 20, 2012 (May 21, 2012 for local time in Eastern Hemisphere), with a magnitude of 0.9439.

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

I put the Spanish info into google translator so the translation is lame as usual by google standards.

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

The last solar eclipse was on 25 November 2011. That is the Sun’s eclipse was the O ° Sagittarius. Then affect all people, nations, events etc, that dark eclipse (eclipse) by discords to the sensitive points of a letter.

I remember that day because I was studying in particular who was staying with the Tennis Masters tournament was played in London and won Roger Federer.

That day of the eclipse, that on November 25, the Sun at 0 ° of Sagittarius was in opposition to the Sun in the natal chart of Novak Djokovic, world number 1 favorite to win the tournament, which is at 0 ° Gemini (Gemini-Sagittarius are opposite signs). Conclusion, the same day Thomas Berdych Djokovic loses and is eliminated from the Masters Tournament.

For years, there are about 4 solar and lunar eclipses between. The effects of solar eclipses last (or feel its effects) 6 months or until another solar eclipse occurs within those 6 months. And lunar eclipses have an effect of 3 months.

To find out what effect can produce astrologically, you have to look at that letter and promptly where it affects.

Ahhh! I forgot, this last May Solar eclipse of the sun falls on Djokovic, so rule him out(dismiss him) to win Roland Garros.


Brando Says:

@Dari: LOL, It is what it is. EVERYONE recognised before this tourny started that rafa’s more vulnerable here than elsewhere on clay- and how this surface is playing so far seems to support rafa’s views on it. Also I am not surprised If you like nole, since lets face it nole is MUCH better at beating rafa than federer himself- so why shouldn’t fed fans support/ like nole? It makes sense to do so, when nole can do what federer struggles to do most of the time.


Mark Says:

@ Jamie. Can you be a bit more specific on the effect on Rafa please?


jane Says:

Can’t wait to watch Nole; hope he’s in good form. But besides all that, today is a glorious day where I live. I mean, perfect. The sun is high in the blue sky, but there’s a nice cool chill in the air to balance that. Things are in bloom, the young stage, everywhere I look, kids are in t-shirts and shorts/skirts, having shed the bulk of a coat, cats and dogs are smiling and lolling about, people say goodmorning and mean it – plus I have these new Nike shoes that are heaven to walk in. It’s a truly great day to be alive on this earth.

Utterly corny right? But I mean it. And so I think I must go to the library and find a harrowing tale to ground me; otherwise I might levitate. hee hee. :)


Kimberly Says:

court is playing fast as it possibly could. The only advantage for the dirtballers is the footwork–bellucci gasquet match is the first one i have watched that even resembles clay court tennis.


dari Says:

Lovely day Jane!

Brando- first you pulled a perfect rafa with the managing expectations, then you nailed the federer attitude with the underhanded statement. on a roll!

What’s the saying? the enemy of my enemy is my friend ( here, the word nemesis is more appropriate)

:)

delpo through!


jamie Says:

@Mark

The psychic told me that the next solar eclipse of May 21 will be ***above the sun of Nole***, bad news for Roland Garros 2012 for Nole.

It will affect him because it will be above HIS sun and it will be bad for him.

Nadal’s best months will be May and June.


Brando Says:

@Dari: LOL, I’m glad you understood my post clearly! BUT I am sure that you also recognise that the surface is playing like a HC tourny, hence others have a greater chance, no?


Mark Says:

@Jamie. Thanks.


grendel Says:

Nalbandian may not be over the hill at 30 in theory. In practice, I’d say he probably is. He’s never been one for undue exertion, so far as one can tell, and it seems that as the years roll by, extra work is required to compensate for that slight stiffening up. So I’d guess we’ve seen the best of Nalbandian. Would be nice if not true, few players are better to watch.


alison hodge Says:

Loved Janes post i have to say the weather heres bloody crapin GB,peeing it down with rain,not much fun for holiday makers in a seaside town,im also on holiday from work so still hoping to get some decent weather,still gives me chance to watch the tennis,looks like its buisness as usual for Nole,everything back to normal.


alison hodge Says:

Brando maybe Rafas hedging his bets hes not always completely truthfull,maybe hes focused on another clay slam like he did 2 years ago?


Brando Says:

@Alison: I agree re rafa hedging his bet at times. BUT what I have posted is my genuine, honest opinion. I feel the others can take rafa here, so if it were to happen I for one wouldn’t be surprised due to how the surface is playing. As simple as that for me.


racquet Says:

From what I’ve seen so far, I have a feeling that there will be at least a couple of major upsets.


alison hodge Says:

Brando lol your pretty honest as a Rafa fan,and i some what agree with you,and i dont see it as any big deal if he does loose this week,theres Rome next week,so i think he will have had enough clay court practice ahead of RG.


Brando Says:

@racquet: like I said before the tourny started I wouldn’t be surprised at a federer – del potro final. Out of the big 3, rafa’s game is the LEAST suited to this court.


jane Says:

Eesh, Nole looked so strong in set one; great serving. And now here is on walkabout in the second set, down two breaks, after a double fault. Hmm, putting a damper on my day. Come on Nole. Also hoping Reeshard can manage to serve out the match without choking.


the_mind_reels Says:

Djokovic looks to be in a hole in the second set after rolling through the first. It’s been a while since Gimeno-Traver beat him on clay, but he has done it before.

Poor serving stats for Novak in the second set so far: four doubles, only 47% first serves in, and winning only 33% on the second serve.


Brando Says:

@Alison: IMHO, MC, Barcelona, Serbia/ estoril open and Rome are good practice for RG. Also good tourny’s to use as a guide to forecast what may happen at RG. Madrid? IMHO is meaningless when it comes to RG. That’s EXACTLY why players- other than rafa- have complained as to why it is so close RG, when it isn’t beneficial for players preparation for the slam.


alison hodge Says:

Delpo looked dangerouusly good today,but it will be interesting to see how he fairs against better oponents,no disrespect to florian Mayer but i dont think you can tell much about Delpos form in that match,i have to say he seems to get breathless quite quickly,and thats only in best of 3 set matches.
mean while Noles getting tested here.


Brando Says:

LMAO- djokovic looked so DEVASTATING against the world no. 137 in set 1 and not so in set 2- maybe I was wrong to suggest his draw was a walk in the park based on this showing:-)


racquet Says:

@brando: to be honest, I’d be surprised to see either of those two in the final. Let’s see how Fed does tomorrow.

@Jane: even though he won the 1st set comfortably, Nole has looked distracted since the start. Did you see him asking the umpire about the electronic advertising? He doesn’t seem himself.


the_mind_reels Says:

@Brando: I hear what you’re saying, though I do think that having Rome as the last tournament before RG more than makes up for the difference in conditions.

When you consider the relatively short “warm-up” periods for the Australian Open (1-2 small tournaments on similar surface/with similar conditions) and Wimbledon (usually for the top guys only 1 smaller tournament on sort of similar surface (it’s recently been cited that Queens Club is much faster grass than Wimbledon these days)), it seems there’s more than ample preparation for RG. These guys play Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, and, for some, Serbia/Estoril too. That’s lots of clay time, and by the time they hit Madrid, most guys should be in good form. One week one high-altitude clay followed by another week on a RG-like surface, after the whole clay swing, shouldn’t really make a difference, I think.

When you think about how quickly they go from clay to grass and how that doesn’t seem to affect how the top guys play on grass (Fed, Murray, Djokovic, and Nadal have all proven they can re-bound from the clay and go deep at Wimbledon with little or no “warm-up” tourneys), Madrid in comparison seems less contentious to me.


racquet Says:

Whoops, there’s the first tricky slip.


Brando Says:

@the mind reels: fair points you make there, but I would say that Madrid is one clay tourny that can be done with really. IMHO the players wouldn’t miss a thing, except maybe the beautiful models :-)


jane Says:

the_mind_reels – you’re totally right. FO has way more lead up than the AO or Wimbledon. It’s on par with the USO, pretty much, with two masters – actually 3 (!) if you count Monte Carlo – and a handful of smaller events. The USO has two masters and some smaller events too.

Nole does look “off” racquet. Now he’s arguing with the ump, which he’s not done in a long time. His focus is poor.

Meanwhile Gasquet is choking. :(


the_mind_reels Says:

@Brando: ha! True. Both they *and* we would miss that, and I suppose there’s something intriguing about watching a tournament on blue clay, even if the players aren’t all jazzed about it.

Looks like Gasquet may squeak this one out…


Brando Says:

@the mind reel: LOL, we would definately miss them! But yes I suppose it is something new and different- playing on blue clay. And most people are generally hesitant towards a change. Let’s just hope NO PLAYER is injured due to the surface.


alison hodge Says:

Jane i think Nole will still most likely come through this,i think after missing playing in Serbia last week hes probably just match cold,i have to say i agree with T.M.R he looks distracted,as though somethings bothering him.


Brando Says:

WOW! losing a set 6-2 to the world no.137- interesting……..


alison hodge Says:

WOW Ginemo Traver is playing really well,really going for his shots,all credit to him Nole having to dig deep.


jane Says:

I think it’s mental alison – nothing to do with missing Serbia. He doesn’t look focused, and letting break points go missing left and right. Kind of sad to watch. I shouldn’t discount his opponent though whi is playing well and serving very consistently.


alison hodge Says:

Nole breaks phew.


racquet Says:

Normal service resumed.


alison hodge Says:

I think your right Jane,one things for sure Nole does not look right,still he should be able to serve it out here.


jane Says:

Phew, and phew again. Anyhow, glad Nole got the “W”, but after what I saw today, I can’t see him going deep in his draw – his serve is all over the place and the focus lacking. Maybe he’ll up his level next round. He’ll certainly need to do so. Wawrinka is super tough on clay. Then potentially Simon, then Fed. Eeek. Not a “joke” draw at all imho.

What is this brand DGT is wearing – “joma”? I have never noticed it before, and kudos to him; he played a great match!


jamie Says:

Nole is not defending Madrid.

Nobody has. Ever. Not even Federer.

Let’s just give Federer the throphy already.


jamie Says:

BTW, how hot does Nole look in black? Yum.


Brando Says:

@jane: LOL, after today’s performance- I RETRACT my joke of a draw comment! By the way, to me he seemed happy and relaxed before this match based on his press coverage- so IMHO it’s not a mental issue. Likely a loss of focus.


jane Says:

Brando “it’s not a mental issue. Likely a loss of focus.” – that’s what I meant – to me “focus” and “mental” are in the same category. So yeah, I agree. We’ll see if he can get it together, but yeah, not looking to sunny in terms of his prospects – even the stat that jamie points out, i.e., that no one has defended this, makes me think it’s very unlikely that Nole’ll be the first to do so. Oh well. Still nice to see him playing! Win or lose.


the_mind_reels Says:

@jane: I’m not 100% sure, but I *think* joma is a Spanish brand that makes primarily soccer gear (Valencia’s jerseys, for example). A handful of the Spanish guys wear their tennis stuff (F. Lopez, for one. and maybe even Ferrero — I think he was wearing it yesterday when he played).


Brando Says:

@jane: IMHO he stands a chance to do so, BUT my tourny fav is federer. I think this surface suits him perfectly- and he must be feeling fresh and keen after his break. He’s also got the game to take advantage of nole’s current form. Still a LONG wa to go though.


dari Says:

I haven’t watched a match Brando, but once i do, I can tell you i agree. Madrid has always been faster, and a bit wonky, really, I would have hoped they would have improved the quality of the court with the tv visibility.

Anyway, sounds like there was slippage issues, best of luck and health to all the players!


Kimberly Says:

these courts blow, be surprised if Rafa wins this one watching the way the courts play. His draw which originally looked easy, now holds a string of players he could be vulnerable to on this type of surface. But always hoping for a pleasant surprise.


Brando Says:

@Kimberly:

My thoughts exactly. Rafa’s draw is loaded with players who can take him out.

Davvy will be a tricky one 1st up on this court for rafa, and then later on berdych has the game to take him out here. And IF he doesn’t due to his mental wobbles, later on delpotro or isner can do so- and they don’t have t-birds problems. Very tough draw.

This court is looking ridiculous with every passing moment. It’s almost like getting the players to play at the paris masters a couple of weeks before the FO.

BAD for all – not just rafa. Hence, the others have joined rafa in his arguements with this one.


grendel Says:

sorry – I posted what follows on the wrong thread by mistake.

There’s no such thing as a joke draw in a Masters. But Djokovic’s draw is definitely quite a kind one. If he is struggling, that is not due to the demanding nature of the draw. For whatever reason or catalogue of reasons, he is not quite the player he was last year. Which is not to say he won’t pick up later. I daresay this year he will save himself for the slams and the Olympics.

Lubicic’s old coach was an interested spectator at the Gasquet match. Is he working with Gasquet by any chance?

I just don’t see how Davydenko can possibly threaten Nadal, since he is nowhere near his best. As for Berdych, well, it does happen that player A beats player B even though Player B has been beating him regularly for years. Hard to see why it should happen this time. I don’t think Berdych can beat a fully focused Nadal on any surface. Isner or del Potro – another matter, agreed. But don’t lets exaggerate.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Davydenko is ranked 54 in the world, and falling. Rafa has won ELEVEN straight over Berdych. These are not threats against a resurgent Clay Monster.
I will be back to take my lumps if I’m wrong, but I don’t see it.
The Fed Raonic match should have more drama.


racquet Says:

Apparently Nole said this in his presser: “That’s not tennis. Either I come out with soccer shoes or invite Chuck Norris to advise me how to play”. hehe Wawrinka tweeted earlier that his court was “the worst”. And Simon also said the courts were terrible. Tomorrow should be even more interesting than usual.


skeezer Says:

^ witty funny quote from Djoker, lol….Chuck Norris?


carlo Says:

Enjoyed reading this thread. Thanks everyone. I missed the matches.

Looking at the schedule for tomorrow (my day off), there isn’t a match I’d put money on except Tipseravic over Delbonis. Even Rafa v Davydenko has a tiny bit of question, due to Rafa’s unhappiness about the surface, I guess. Still, I doubt very much he’ll lose to Davydenko.

Raonic has a decent shot v rusty Federer. Could be a surprising day of tennis!


Brando Says:

@racquet: LMAO, thanks for that. I’m glad nole said that. Maybe the owner will get the message loud and clear from the players. He seems a eccentric though- so don’t rule out yellow clay next year just yet though. According to the owner, it shall increase the happiness of players by 1.5%, and revenue by 100%!


carlo Says:

Okay, after reading racquet’s post, I take back what I said above. Wouldn’t bet on any of the matches. Can’t wait to see this blue clay and how the next round handles it!


Brando Says:

@Grendel and TV: point noted. But like carlo said rafa v davy most likely won’t be a straight forward win for rafa. It will be interesting to see what rafa and roger will say in their pressers tommorrow. I doubt rafa ‘s will be as funny as nole’s.


Brando Says:

@carlo: the surface seems to be slippery, the ball goes through the court at a speed you would usually see in a indoor court. And it also stays low.


alison hodge Says:

ok Rafas the man to beat on clay,but this is his least sucessfull clay tourney,Daveydenko may not be the player he once was,but can still trouble Rafa,all its takes is an off day from Rafa,or an oponent playing lights out then its curtains,same for Isner who gave Rafa nightmares at RG last year,Delpo whos looking impressive,likewise Berdych whos also a good clay court player,anything can happen on any given day,nothing can be taken for granted.


Brando Says:

@Alison: spot on with your post- I’m feeling somewhat nervy about rafa’s match tommorrow.


alison hodge Says:

Brando i keep on saying it i know,and i must sound like a broken record to keep repeating myself lol,but as a fan of Rafas im pretty much at peace with his achievements on clay,that this is the only surface i dont seem to get the jitters as much when watching him play,anything he does now is just another nice surprise,so in saying that bring it on.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Yeah, Brando, its sport: any given day, anything can happen. And it is historically Rafa’s weak clay event, and it sounds like the surface is going to hamper the movers and favour the hitters. So up with Davydenko and Berdych both and down with Rafa a bit.
But still… the odds are heavy in the Beast’s favour. Maybe Del Potro or Isner though…


Tennis Vagabond Says:

And I think its time for some of our friends here who were mocking Rafa for criticizing the courts to eat a little crow. Now its Rafa and Djokovic and Federer and Ferrer and Raonic and Wawrinka.


Brando Says:

@TV: lol, I cannot agree more with your 4.57 post. As a rafa fan I acknowledge that rafa complains more than most, BUT on this one he seems to have been proven correct based on how his fellow players have reacted to this court.


alison hodge Says:

Brando and TV yeah it will be nice to here the haters try to pick the bones out of that one.


jane Says:

racquet at 4:05, lol on Nole’s quote; Murray “picked” the right event to miss – he’d've probably injured the back further.

the_mind_reels, thanks for the info on joma – I never noticed it on F-Lo for some reason?? Although I have noticed his ill-fitting shorts from time-to-time, mainly because margot always did a great job of pointing them out and then that’s all I could see.


racquet Says:

jane, I agree. I suspect he did “pick” to miss it. There is way too much at stake this summer to risk an injury. I sincerely hope no player gets hurt out there.


Wog boy Says:

Main difference between red and blue clay according to Novak:

“On the red clay you can slide and stop, on the blue clay you just keep sliding without stoping:)”

Haven’t seen the match, I will watch it this afternoon.


Tennislover Says:

Conditions in Madrid have always been quick primarily due to the altitude. I do not think that the conditions have changed too much this year compared to previous years except for the surface being a bit more slippery. It seemed like a pretty warm day today and that probably helped the players hit through the court a bit more. However the slippery nature of the surface itself should prevent any comparisons with a hard court let alone an indoor one. All said and done, it still is clay with its inconsistent bounce and slipperiness and players need to be good movers on this surface to do well. Sure, the altitude will help the big servers and the power players more than at any other clay tournament but they can’t take the bounce or the movement for granted. Rafa is not as big a favorite here as he is at MC or RG but he has still been good enough to reach three finals on the trot here. I am expecting another Rafa-Djoko final with Djoko retaining his title.


Tennislover Says:

“Let’s just give Federer the trophy already”

Fed has his hands full with Raonic tomorrow. I am sure Fed will prefer a slightly easier opponent for his first match after a long break. If he gets past him and finds his groove(Raonic is not the best practice for Gasquet), he should be able to reach the sf where he will most likely lose to Djoko. I won’t be surprised if a very rusty Fed is knocked out by Raonic whose serves will go through the thinner Madrid air even quicker. Fed will have to be sharp from the get-go especially on his own serve. Even then, I expect the issue to be decided only in the breakers – given their relatively inferior return games – where it becomes a bit of a lottery with the better server having the slight advantage. Raonic is probably the best server going around at the moment. I say this primarily because of his great second serve. There are many players who have an excellent first serve and the Raonic first serve is a formidable one. However, his second serve appears almost Sampras-like although I must admit that I have watched very few of Raonic’s matches. I also like his on-court demeanor and the way he keeps his composure. This is one guy nobody will like to face early in the tournament especially in quick conditions.


grendel Says:

Tennislover

“given their relatively inferior return games”. I don’t know about that – Federer is often a good returner of very fast serving. Not always. I have seen him all at sea against both Roddick and Karlovic, but if his block is working well, sooner or later he’ll have Raonic in trouble. And then Raonic is surprising – he thrashed Murray’s second serve again and again, and he was tough occasionally on Nalbandian’s. Not so good with Ferrer, who has a mean sort of 2nd serve. If Federer isn’t serving well, Raonic is in with a great chance.

I absolutely agree with your remarks generally about Raonic. His 2nd serve is extraordinary, and I’d be very interested in the opinions of the top players about his first – is it as menacing as Isner’s, for instance? My impression is that it is – and more, but that’s just an impression. I agree with you about his composure, too. And he can hang around, you know, at the back of the court, just waiting his moment – boy, can he give the ball a smack when presumably it’s just a tiny bit short – but damned if I can see it!


jane Says:

Wog Boy, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the match after you watch it.


Wog boy Says:

jane,

I hope I recorded it properly, I tend to do something wrong when I use Foxtel IQ, either wrong time or don’t give extra time in a case match goes longer etc. I didn’t have time to check this morning, I was running late, I will find out this afternoon:)
Thanks for appreciating my opinion:)


grendel Says:

Wog boy

welcome to the technophobe club, of which I am the President, Treasurer, Secretary, and indeed Founder.

I saw a program today commemorating a delightful British actor called John Le Mesurier. Extraordinarily impractical (“totally useless” one close friend called him), apparently he was unable even to make a cup of tea. And when a friend, possibly the actress Hatty Jaques (an enormously fat woman, incidentally, whose bubbling energy and humour rendered her very attractive to men), when she cooked him an omlette, he was struck speechless with awe. How could anyone manage such a complicated thing?

I’m actually not bad at cooking, but give me anything remotely technological, and I am lost. And that’s old as well as new. Once, when attempting to put back the back wheel on my bicycle, so enraged did I become, particularly concerning the activities of the chain,that I seriously endangered at least two long term relationships.

Taping stuff, of course, is hazardous, and when it goes wrong, it is always unclear why. There was once a very exciting match between Johansson (the tall one, not Thomas) and Lopez which I had recorded, and we all watched with fascination. As the 5th set drew towards a climax, the screen blanked out. It was a bit like being terminally interrupted in the middle of you know what. It is true, one had access to the result. That was not the point. Bald facts were no good. We had lived with these players battling it out over a number of hours and we were deprived of the emotional satisfaction of witnessing the coup de grace. Really, it was tantamount to a form of abuse.

My reputation for ineptitude on the techno front seemed to gather force after we had arrived back home following a long weekend away. I had taped the US Open final, and we settled down to watch it. Well, there was plenty of tennis, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find the final. Recklessly fastforwarding, turning the damn thing off and trying again, I got everything except for the Nadal/Djokovic final. Then someone pointed out that they were playing right now. Well, it was true, there they were playing, but since it was Monday, how was this possible – must be an old recording, I concluded. The truth eventually dawned, Sunday had been rained off, and all my taping had been pointless. Seemed typical, somehow.


carlo Says:

^^lol and lol, grendel. I needed that

love how you tell a story.


Michael Says:

If given a preference, Roger would have opted for Nalbandian, but it is Raonic who he will be facing and it is going to be a helluva of a match. The draw of Madrid this time has not been very kind to Roger. He is having the most brutal draw ever possible.


Wog boy Says:

Grendel,

I can read your posts any time of the day !

According to your post I am member of your club, my records are much the same as yours, and the feeling of failure is spot on:-)
But guess what, I did it right this time. I am so proud of myself. I am just about to watch it.

P.S. My problem is that kids, who are not kids any more, are charching me for anything I ask them to show me how to do it, iPhone, computer, recording one and watching the other one and so on and so on, and I decided, enough is enough, no more money, but now I don’t know how to do it myself:(


Tennislover Says:

Grendel

I don’t think it is unfair to say that their service games are much superior than their return games or that their return games are inferior to those of some of the other top players. Hence my use of the term “relatively” before “inferior”.
Fed’s returns have actually become more varied. He attacks the serve a bit more and those “drop” returns are delightful. However, the main building-block i.e. the block returns are not as reliable as they once used to be. He misses far too many returns especially on big points. Fed is not able to put as much pressure on his opponents’ serves as he used to do in his prime. This, in turn, brings his own service game under pressure especially against the top returners. As beautiful as Fed’s serve is, it never has been as reliable as, say, the Sampras serve. Fed used to get broken relatively frequently – of course not as much as now – even in his glory days but he also used to break his opponents’ serve much more frequently. This allowed him some breathing space and he was generally able to mount a lot of pressure both in the serve as well as the return games. He isn’t able to mount that kind of sustained pressure anymore. Certainly not against his main rivals who are great returners but are not the greatest servers. I don’t want to reopen the decline debate but, imho, INCONSISTENT is one term that best suits just about every aspect of his game now – notwithstanding certain improvements in some of his skills and a decent post-USO run – compared to his best days.

I am sure Raonic’s ROS will improve over time. He appears to be a quietly ambitious player but he will have to sharpen his other skills especially his net game. As for his first serve, there is no doubt it is a great serve but Isner and Karlovic serve big and are still able to serve close to 70% first serves. Raonic’s figure is around 60%. However, I agree that the feedback from top returners will be a better guide because a serve is not only about speed. Sampras’ serve, for instance, used to feel very heavy and you couldn’t read or pick it. I, as a layman, get the feeling that Raonic’s serve is tougher to read or pick compared to the serves of Isner or Karlovic.


grendel Says:

Tennislover

Yes, “relative” is one of these excellent words which cover one in just about every situation..(ahem, please don’t take offence!).

I don’t really disagree with you. I just wouldn’t be quite so definite as you. For instance, Federer’s block return comes and goes in its effectiveness. As for his serve, he went through a horrendous period when truly the serve seemed to have gone. But of late, it has been behaving itself.

My point about Raonic is that already he is attacking the second serve in particular, and he only needs to do it for one game per set, remember, since he can generally count on holding his own. That’s why I think that stats – as always – are hopelessly misleading when shorn from context.

You make a good point about the consistency compared to Isner/Karlovic. I don’t think we can argue with 70%. Is that really the case, though – overall?

You say he will have to sharpen his net skills. Well, that is always desireable of course. But after all, who among the big boys DOES have a good net game? Come to that, who among the medium sized? Nadal always looks good – but then, as somebody remarked, he is hardly ever there. Djokovic is very competent, but not forbiddingly so. I suspect Raonic – as a very ambitious youngster as you say – will do as much as he feel he needs to do in that direction.

One last comment on Federer – there is no doubt his capacity over 5 sets has declined. Permanantly so? I think we will be able to answer that question definitively by the end of the US.


Polo Says:

Grendel, I agree that Federer’s capacity over 5 sets has declined. That is the function of age. What Federer has to do now is win in 3 sets, max 4. He can still do that against most players. But it will be very tough against more punishing players who play very long points (before and during)like Nadal and Djokovic.


Polo Says:

Happy to see Cilic getting but his stride. But not to happy that it is at the expense of Isner. C’est la vie.


Polo Says:

“back” not “but”.


grendel Says:

Polo – or, win the first 2, take a rest for the next 2, and then win the 5th. After all, that’s what he did at the US – or, er, should have done….


Tennislover Says:

Grendel

No offense taken at all! I hope we have reached a reasonable comfort level with each other although one never knows when a misunderstanding could occur. One very nice poster called me “mean” a while back when I thought I had taken a lot of precaution and even apologized in advance if she felt offended. I should have made my point to you more precise and I understand how that term could be seen as some sort of sleight of hand although I didn’t mean it that way.

I agree with you about stats without context. However, I am pretty sure a season average of 69% first serves( both in 2010 and 2011) is incredibly impressive for a huge server like Isner. I also recall Karlovic having similar numbers a few years back but I guess his average is lower these days.

As for the net game, I didn’t mean a very high level of skills. I am not having Mac, Edberg, Rafter or Henman in mind. A huge server like Raonic, with a large wingspan and powerful groundies, could get away with even an average net game since he will likely be making easy volleys. I don’t know if you are scoffing at the idea of learning something new at this age or the feasibility thereof. Guys like Cilic, Tsonga, Fed, Murray, Fish, Lopez, Step, Gasquet, Rochus, Llodra, Benneeteau, Haas etc since they always had a good net game. I hope I have covered all shapes and sizes :-)

Raf has shown tremendous improvement in his volleying. Sure, he doesn’t venture to the net very often but when he does, he wins the huge majority of points and I rarely see him missing simple volleys. Of course he goes to the net only after crushing approach shots. I am not so sure about Djoko’s net game. I remember a match last year where he volleyed extremely well but he generally seems to lack the confidence to do it frequently.

I was kind of thinking more of guys like Berd and Davy who have developed a modest net game after being pure baseliners for much of their careers. They are not the prettiest volleyers – note Davy’s two-fisted bh volleys – but it has helped their overall game. I hope Raonic can become a decent volleyer and develop a better transition game.


grendel Says:

Yes,Tennislover, I agree about Berdych and Davydenko – both made conscious efforts to improve their net games.Davydenko barely used to go anywhere the net, and it always baffled me, that sort of thing. All club players, for instance, learn how to volley, how to approach and so on. Why not the top pros in the world? They put you in mind of certain very narrowly based scholars who turn their noses up at the prospect of examining anything which departs from the strict guidelines they have set themselves. Something to do with comfort level, perhaps.

Berdych has found – but why didn’t he find out earlier? – that his game, a slightly limited one perhaps, is greatly enhanced by an ability to use the net. Someone with the subtleties and range of Nadal doesn’t really need the net except of course if he is drawn in involuntarily.

Raonic is such a cool, methodical thinker that I think he will work out the degree to which net play will suit his game, and prepare accordingly. His idol Sampras started off as a baseliner, I believe – presumably his coach pointed out etc, etc.

Top story: Djokovic v Murray Halloween Friday In Paris; Raonic, Ferrer Fighting For Final London Berth
  • Recent Comments
Rankings
ATP - Oct 27 WTA - Oct 27
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Roger Federer2 Maria Sharapova
3 Rafael Nadal3 Simona Halep
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 Tomas Berdych5 Ana Ivanovic
6 David Ferrer6 Agnieszka Radwanska
7 Kei Nishikori7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Andy Murray8 Caroline Wozniacki
9 Marin Cilic9 Na Li
10 Milos Raonic10 Angelique Kerber
More: Tennis T-Shirts | Tennis Shop | Live Tennis Scores | Headlines

Copyright © 2003-2014 Tennis-X.com. All rights reserved.
This website is an independently operated source of news and information and is not affiliated with any professional organizations.