Into The Blue: Federer Opens Clay Season Against Raonic In Madrid, Rafa Looks To Resume Roll
by Sean Randall | May 8th, 2012, 10:58 pm
  • 204 Comments

It will likely be long, sleepless night for Madrid tournament promoter Ion Tiriac. The former Romanian star made a controversial change coloring the clay from red to blue in effort to provide fans and worldwide TV audience a better viewing experience, and of course raise the profile of his event.

But after the three days of play the reviews having been decidedly negative and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic called into the question the conditions following a win today. Now, the two biggest stars in the sport, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, will have their say on Wednesday.

Nadal enters an opening round clash with Nikolay Davydenko riding a 21-match clay win streak. The Spaniard who lost in this final a year ago to Djokovic, has had trouble with Davydenko in the past – Davydenko leads 6-4 – but with the Russian now 30 and well off his best form Rafa should ease through.

Rafa’s won all 10 sets on clay this season and in front of his home fans I expect a strong performance irrespective of the playing conditions.

In the marquee match of the day and of the second round, promising star and future Slam winner Milos Raonic gets a rematch against Federer. Roger hasn’t played since a stunning 3-set loss to Andy Roddick in Miami over a month ago. Before then, the Swiss lost to another power player, John Isner, in a jaw-dropping shocker on the red clay in Davis Cup. In between, Federer beat Milos in three sets at Indian Wells, and I expect another tough match Wednesday.

Roanic is a quick learner and he’s rapidly getting his mark on the clay. But I still tip Federer a slight favorite. Much has been made of the surface this week and it does seem to favor the guys who are offensive – playing defense can get you into trouble because of the slickness of the court.

Federer is offensive, then again so is Raonic. But Roger should be able to exploit the big Canadian’s movement and pull through. But really, this match is that close – remember a year ago Feliciano Lopez all but choked against Roger in Madrid.

If Federer can’t find his serve he’ll be in trouble, because Raonic will hold his and he’s going to get his fair share of winners. So Roger will have to serve well, keep Milos on the move by playing first-strike tennis.

Also tomorrow, the red hot Juan Martin Del Potro squares off against Mikhail Youhzny. Today, Del Potro didn’t miss a beat coming from Estoril by routing Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-2. The Argentine is looking deadly these days, but for how long?

Again, after watching Djokovic ice skate around the court today it will be interesting to see how Nadal and Federer look. Novak did not appear comfortable at all today and with the surface perhaps playing dangerously slick I wonder if some players might not want to play at their maximum levels.

I’m the first to call out players for whining, but once they start questioning the safety of the surface you have to take notice. Unfortunately for the tournament, there’s little that can be done to make things better mid-tournament other than hope power brokers like Nadal, Federer find the conditions agreeable. For their sake, let’s hope that happens. Otherwise this intriguing tournament become a glorified, gimmicky exhibition. And this close to the French that helps no one.

Tennis Channel will have live coverage of the men’s tournament all day starting at 7am ET.

WEDNESDAY MADRID SCHEDULE

MANOLO SANTANA start 10:50 am
[4] A Radwanska (POL) vs S Errani (ITA) – WTA
Not Before 1:00 PM
R Stepanek (CZE) vs [5] D Ferrer (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 3:15 PM
N Davydenko (RUS) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
Starting at 7:00 PM
[1] V Azarenka (BLR) vs [13] A Ivanovic (SRB) – WTA
[3] R Federer (SUI) vs M Raonic (CAN) – ATP

ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO start 1:00 pm
[12] A Kerber (GER) vs [8] N Li (CHN) – WTA
[15] F Verdasco (ESP) vs [Q] A Falla (COL) – ATP
[11] N Almagro (ESP) vs M Granollers (ESP) – ATP
M Youzhny (RUS) vs [10] J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
[9] G Simon (FRA) vs [WC] G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) – ATP


Also Check Out:
Rafael Nadal Is Still Mad About Madrid’s Blue Clay, But At Least His Knee Is “Perfect”
Some Players Support The Blue Clay Tennis Courts In Madrid
Roger Federer: Madrid’s Blue Clay Feels Different Than Regular Clay; Reclaiming No. 1 Would Be A Dream
Nadal, Djokovic, Murray Give Thumbs Down On Madrid’s Blue Clay Courts
Novak Djokovic: I Was Very Close To My Grandfather, It Was A Big Loss For Me And My Family

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204 Comments for Into The Blue: Federer Opens Clay Season Against Raonic In Madrid, Rafa Looks To Resume Roll

Humble Rafa Says:

Rafa’s won all 10 sets on clay this season and in front of his home fans I expect a strong performance irrespective of the playing conditions.

LOL.


skeezer Says:

HR,

Why all the sudden you’re saying “rafa” ? Like he is someone else?

LOL

“I’m the first to call out players for whining, but once they start questioning the safety of the surface you have to take notice.

same here Sean….tomorrow will be very interesting…

what is a flashlight is that even the guys that won complained……THAT is a validity you cannot deny.


the mind reels Says:

@Humble Rafa: Hahaha. Never a dull comment, I must say.


Michael Says:

I think Roger should be wary of the Raonic threat. The Madrid court is playing fast and if Raonic serves well then he is in with an advantage and moreover Roger is coming after a long lay off and therefore you can expect some sluggishness in his game. This is a very tricky second round for Roger and he should rise to the occasion to tame Raonic. But the silver lining for Roger is that he always plays well against hard hitters. As regards Nadal he always has struggled against Davydenko on hard courts but has an excellent record against him on clay courts. With Madrid surface playing more like a hard court, Davydenko may fancy his chances. But he is not the same player and his form has dipped considerably and therefore Nadal may have it easy.


Wog boy Says:

Skeezer,

HR just repeated Sean’s statment from above article, his (HR) part is “LOL.” :)


jane Says:

Sean, seems a fair assessment of the situation. Also you reminded me of this “remember a year ago Feliciano Lopez all but choked against Roger in Madrid.” – I remember that match, because I think it was in the third set tiebreaker (?) that F-Lo miss-hit a smash badly, or he flubbed something at the net, I can’t remember. And when he did, he smiled. I thought to myself “there it is – that’s the end of him; he’ll surely lose now.” I remember Roddick did something similar. He was losing a close match versus Fed at the USO – i think two sets had gone to tiebreaks, both of which Fed had won (he is a great returner of fast first serves) – and Roddick said out loud (to whom I don’t know; the crowd?) “I am having so much fun” or something similar. And then he was promptly broken. It isn’t always the case, but often when a player lets his guard down, the rest comes down with it. F-Lo was playing some fine clay court tennis last year though; I think he’d been in the Serbian final and pushed Nole to three sets (it was either last year or the year before).

Anyhow, yes: be interesting to watch Fed/Raonic and Nadal/Davy and to hear more reports on the Madrid surface.


Dave Says:

Canadian newspaper: Raonic vs. Federer – the rematch
http://blogs.montrealgazette.com/2012/05/08/raonic-vs-federer-the-rematch/


jane Says:

Too bad the matches are really early – guess will only get to see the late ones. Oh well, enjoy. Luckily Fed/Milos is later.


jane Says:

That gazette article is wrong about when Fed last played I think. Sean is right – last match was the loss to Roddick, not Davis Cup.


skeezer Says:

Wog boy,

Thanks……Can’t keep track of these pretenders…ugh ;).


Wog boy Says:

Skeezer,

No problem.

jane,

Just watched first set. Nole was pretty good though something was bothering him. He did ask his box for eyes drops. Regardless of winning easy first set, his body language wasn’t quite right IMHO.

Second set coming.


Wog boy Says:

Watched the match, Nole never looked like losing the match but he did look pissed off at the end of the match. My take is : Nole is a mover, he is not a player who stands and delivers, he is a player that moves and deliver. If he cannot move the way he wants his game is not his game any more and he is frustrated. If he can adjust his movements with new surface he will be OK if not it is going to be hard for him. I think the first option is more likely:-) I think he is very fit and ready to fight. Just to add it is more slippery, that is obvious. I am glad he stayed composed after umpire’s mistake in the second game of the third set. Even the commentators were suprised with umpire’s mistake and calling a point when he was suppose to check the mark.
Alltogether I am not unhappy with his match.


Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Nole got off lightly. Against a top 30 player he’d have been toast. Daniel didn’t make the most of Nole’s poor play and his whole body language looks like he’s lost some of last years vim.


jane Says:

Wog Boy, good take on things, and yes I thought he put that strange thing in the third set behind him pretty well. But the drop in the serving percentages in the second set was concerning, and the double faults. But it wasn’t horrible. GT was playing well too.


grendel Says:

jane says:”I remember that match, because I think it was in the third set tiebreaker (?) that F-Lo miss-hit a smash badly, or he flubbed something at the net, I can’t remember. And when he did, he smiled. I thought to myself “there it is – that’s the end of him; he’ll surely lose now.”

That was exactly my reaction at the time. Further, I suspect it may have been Lopez’, too. These guys know when the momentum shifts following a wasted opportunity.


Dave Says:

Let’s use common sense:

- After 115 matches, has anyone been actually injured due to the “slippery” conditions? To date, 71.5% of the Madrid Open’s matches have been completed — 115 matches completed matches of 161 total mens and womens matches, both qualifying draw and main draw (men: 47 matches completed, 29 matches left; women: 68 matches, 17 matches left). The chances of injury are presumably greater among less competent and less experienced players in their first matches in the early rounds. There are only 46 matches are left.

- Other tournaments have worse injury records.

- Djokovic should ditch the ice skates, football boots and Chuck Norris’ cowboy boots. Instead, he should take lessons on how to run on the blue stuff from Milos Raonic. And learn to be more adaptable in how he wins (Djokovic was also slipping and unsure of his footing at the 2006 and 2007 Wimbledons.)

- “The reviews of blue clay have been decidedly negative”: If you count all players who have reportedly given comments, it amounts to only about 5% of the 176 mens and womens players (main draw and qualifying draw) . So how could this be “decidely negative”… or even negative? And what did they actually say? Incredibly some players, news sources, bloggers and posters misrepresent the situation as if a majority of players are against blue clay.

- It seems most of the few onsite spectators and TV viewers reportedly gave decidedly positive reviews of the blue clay. Milford Daily News’s Paul Crocetti: “I will say this much about the new blue clay in Madrid – from a spectator’s point of view, it’s great. I was just noticing in a clay court match last week that, even in high definition, it was a little hard to see the ball against the red/orange surface. But the ball really pops on TV against the blue clay. For the players, though, you’d think they were playing on ice with some of the comments in the last few days. Following Rafael Nadal’s complaints a couple days ago, Novak Djokovic went off on the surface today, after his three-set match. He complained about the clay being slippery, and he did slip a lot in his match again #137 Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain. He managed to work in a reference to Chuck Norris in his post-match comments – I appreciate that, but I’m not really sure what he meant. There’s really no reason why #1 Djokovic didn’t manhandle his opponent today. It wasn’t the surface’s fault – his opponent had to deal with it, too, and as far as I know, Gimeno-Traver hasn’t played on blue clay before. That’s the problem with the complaints about the surface – everyone’s in the same boat.”

- Tennis players have a long history of blaming their losses and subpar performance on the courts. In 2006: “During his first-round match on a wind-swept center court last week, Nadal asked the referee to put more clay onto the court. “It’s not a clay court, it’s a hard court” the 20-year-old Spaniard said after the match. “It’s dangerous.” Though that certainly wasn’t the case for Nadal, who has advanced to Friday’s semifinals, Gaston Cloup (French Open groundskeeper) said it wasn’t unusual for disgruntled players to blame their bad performance on the clay.”
http://jhb02.supersport.com/tennis/blogs/supertennis/Groundskeeper_is_unsung_hero_of_the_French_Open

- Tiriac is not going to lose any sleep. In 2010, Ion Tiriac was declared the richest man in Romania with a wealth estimated at over $2 billion. The Madrid Open is too small an investment to worry him — the blue clay is an even tinier investment. Tiriac has a crew of Roland Garros caretakers in charge of developing and producing the blue clay’, including Gaston Cloup, former head groundskeeper at Roland Garros (when he was responsible for its clay courts for about 20 years). This team will probably look for solutions to whatever problems are identified. In the worst case scenario, he simply reverts back to ‘red clay’ for Madrid… and sets up a separate company to sell the improved blue clay to whichever tournaments, clubs and facilities, countries wish to buy it. If he really gets pissed off, Tiriac might just abandon his tennis investments as a waste of time.


Wog boy Says:

jane,

I didn’t want to talk about second set, not just servis, the balls were falling short and going everywhere else but in the court, but if you look carefully Nole’s face he never looked worried throughout second set and at the end of second set he was just calm, like he didn’t play an awful set:) I know, that could be mask but if it is mask than it is bloody good one.


Dave Says:

jane: “That gazette article is wrong about when Fed last played I think. Sean is right – last match was the loss to Roddick, not Davis Cup.”

It’s probably an error — missing the words “on clay courts”.

Read it as “He hasn’t played a match on clay courts since Davis Cup — and that was also on a fast, hardly ideal clay court.”


racquet Says:

Ah yes, the USA vs Switzerland Davis Cup controversy. Where Federer grumbled about the court (some call it “whining”) and the Americans had no problems whatsover with it. Roger should have taken lessons from Isner and learned to be more adaptable. heh


V Blacklabel Says:

The bigger question is where does Djokovic go from here, it’s been an interesting start to his clay campaign. Here’s my take: http://www.blacklabeltennis.com/2012/05/viewpoint-djokers-wilds.html


racquet Says:

Isner goes out in straights to Cilic. From what I saw Cilic played very smart and exposed Isner’s movement. John a bit lackluster (should’ve stayed in Europe & skipped Houston). Good win for Marin. Now let’s get on with Nadal/Davey.


grendel Says:

So Cilic goes through in 2. A strange ending. Serving at 5-6, 40-15, Cilic doublefaulted. And then, presented with a very high ball he executed a woeful overhead “smash”. He was trying to control it, I guess, but simply ended up in handing the iniative to Isner, who gratefully seized it. This begs the question: why didn’t Cilic, why don’t players generally if they aren’t entirely happy with their position w.r.t. the ball – and Cilic couldn’t have been, given how tentative his attempted smash was, why don’t they let the ball bounce? And then just calmly put it away? Anyway, deuce. Then Cilic, responding to Isner’s return, creams the line. Was it in? Damned if I could see. Was, apparently. So, an easy jog into the tiebreak turned into a heart clutching affair.

But: first point, and Isner does his first double fault in the entire match. And that’s it. After that, both players serve well and hit commandingly from the base line – until, Isner double faults again. Actually, that one was more forgiveable. Defeat looming, risk was acceptable.

You know how people parade around after they have won, for all the world as if they’ve just been granted a ticket to heaven. Well, Cilic allowed himself a shy little smile. Absolutely genuine, and frankly adorable.


jane Says:

Cilic has a good record over Isner I think.


jane Says:

Wawa beat Melzer easily, turns out. Stan is in good form lately – semis last weekend too. Clay is definitely his best surface.

racquet I didn’t know the Swiss team had complain about the DC clay court.


racquet Says:

@Jane, not the team as such but Federer was quoted with grumbles about the effect of the high altitude on the balls and the overall condition of the clay court.


jane Says:

Rafa is indeed resuming his roll – he is winning 4-1 up a double break already.


jane Says:

racquet, I am sure there is an explanation. :) So with Murray out, who are you rooting for here? Delpo?


Polo Says:

This is going so fast. It will be done even before Nadal gets to feel how the blue surface is like.


jane Says:

That is depressing V Blacklabel but you make some valid points.


racquet Says:

jane, that’s a good question. I’m not rooting for anyone in particular yet. It depends on who is facing who. It’s relaxing not being too invested in outcomes ;) But I would like to see a dramatic upset or two.


skeezer Says:

I either watched or read an interview from Isner about that Davis cup win. And he too said the surface was uneven and created inconsistent play. Regardless the better man won that day Don the the time right now to look it up.

Davy is going down. Can tell by his movement he does not feel like he is playing on solid ground. Changing direction is sketchy at best. His post presser will be very interesting..hehe..Rafa seems to be having NO problem with the surface….guess all the whining before hand has nothing do to with this result. Maybe next match.


racquet Says:

Interesting. Nadal is playing more aggressively than usual. Trying to avoid rallies? He has done his homework.


jane Says:

It will be interestingto hear Rafa’s thoughts on blue clay now, in his post match presser. ;) It certainly seems to be working well for him.


jane Says:

Anyone watching Petra? She lost the first set to a player I have not heard of.


Daniel Says:

Nadal serve this clay season is excelent. He is aceing at will. Plus backhand very solid. To beat him in this form will need an herculean effort.


racquet Says:

Jane, it has been an unmitigated disaster as far as WTA coverage for this tournament. Apart from the first 2 matches of the day there has been no coverage of afternoon/evening matches – not even live streams. On Eurosport right now they’re showing the earlier Li Na match!?!


jane Says:

Daniel, I agree. Nadal is looking like he is back to 2010 form almost.

racquet, oh that’s right. I had read that somewhere. What the heck is that? There should be coverage of both. I just noticed it on the scores.


racquet Says:

Apparently the WTA failed to negotiate a deal for full coverage. I would like to see the Ivanovic/Azarenka match tonight but it seems there is no hope – not even a stream :(


Epsilon Says:

Nadal looks scary.


jane Says:

That’s the one I’d've liked to see too racquet. Too bad.


Daniel Says:

Flawless match by Nadal playing how he should play all the time. But only when he is super confiant he reverts to this mode.


Daniel Says:

The blue clay looks awesome on TV. Never before we saw the ball so good in a clay match!


Polo Says:

Nadal looks determined to win all the clay events this year. He just may do so.


racquet Says:

Rafa is looking very ominous indeed.


Brando Says:

Pleased with rafa’s performance today. The serving was excellent and like daniel mentioned the BH was solid. Liked the aggressive mindset too.

BUT i would not read too much into it, since IMHO what was most noticeable was davvy’s movement- or rather the lack of it.

I prefer the blue as opposed to the red clay since on TV it does look much better, HOWEVER i get the feeling the court is GENUINELY slippery, hence it affects some players more than others.

SHAME really- players safety should be placed above all other factors.


Polo Says:

Why do I feel sad when I watch Verdasco play?


Steve 27 Says:

Superb Nadal, aggressive and very decided to finish the match fast. Is evident that Davydenko after Australia 2010, his performances go down, his problems with his wrist and his age now, were his worst enemy. Let see if Nadal face Del Potro in semifinals this time, as it was not held last year.


carlo Says:

Me too, I feel sad watching Verdasco, at least today because you can guess, during this match, if he wins, good, but then he plays Nadal again, and that can’t be a nice idea for him.


jane Says:

If Nadal and Delpo meet it could be a cracker; both seem to be in great form right now. I’d love to see that semi.


Brando Says:

nadal v delpo would be interesting and very tough for rafa.

hope that happens, since it would mean (i think) that delpo is back in the top 8- and he would deserve that IMO.


jane Says:

I had thought Tsonga’s match with Harrison might be tighter..


carlo Says:

Fernando just never has played his best v Nadal since AO 2009. And it’s sad. He really does have the game to be top 10 again, imo. It showed when he had a good run this year during the golden swing.

jane, I’m streaming Tsonga – Harrison. Thought it would be closer too. It’s not over. I expect Ryan to loosen up. He has some power.

There it is. Verdasco wins. I just hope it’s not as pitiful a match as the last time he played Rafa.


Polo Says:

Verdasco is indeed a very naturally talented player. His best tournament was AO 2009. He has never played at that level again. I think he doubts his abilities. You can’t win tournaments if you don’t have the confidence. That is the one asset that the top 3 guys have that gives then an edge over any opponent they face.


carlo Says:

Really enjoying this Tsonga v Harrison match. Ryan has stepped it up…maybe enough to win the 2nd set?

Worried for Delpo, of course,and Federer. Not sure I’m ready for Milos to take down mighty Fed, either, a distinct possibility. We’ll see.


carlo Says:

Speaking of confidence, Nico Almagro appears brimming with it.

Harrison put up a fight but lost his temper in the 2nd set tb; smashed a racquet. Tsonga looking good.


carlo Says:

Where is Ajet these days?


alison hodge Says:

Carlo yeah i have to say im missing Ajet too,he sends in great posts.


jane Says:

carlo just stepped out so I missed the end of Harrison/Tsonga, but it looks like it evened out, judging by the scores. I see Delpo’s playing now so will have to watch until Fed/Milos starts.


van orten Says:

roger vs raonic ..vamos rog


jane Says:

Delpo is looking good, very confident.


jane Says:

Oof, commentators are critiquing Youz’s facial hair.


alison hodge Says:

Jane i have to agree i love Youzhney,but hate that beard.


jane Says:

It is so uncanny watching them play on this blue clay. Yes, we can see the ball better. But it keeps making me think “hard court” with a sprinkling of chalk over it or something. Strange yet familiar at once.


jane Says:

Milos is at only 56% first serves in; unless that percentage comes up, I can see Fed breaking through soon – Milos has won only 3 of 7 second serve points whereas he’s won all of his first serve points. Fed is faring better on winning his second serve points (winning 5 of 7) and on winning second serve return points. So it may come down to the better second serve / second serve return today? We’ll see.

Only 4 rallies over five shots the announcers just said.


Polo Says:

Forget about the GOAT title, Federer is unquestionably the coolest tennis player ever. Nobody carries himself like that in a tennis court.


jane Says:

^ Very odd stat for clay!


Polo Says:

got broken…but still cool!


jane Says:

Oops flubbed volley there by Fed – leads to a break at love by Raonic. Fed just played a bad game “out of the blue” (ha ha).


Brando Says:

what a rubbish game by federer


jane Says:

LOL, Polo.


Brando Says:

1st time watching raonic (about time) and kid DEFINATELY got game!


Polo Says:

good pun Jane.


van orten Says:

raonic is only serve


harry Says:

thats a fed-style first set by raonic!


Brando Says:

federer seems rusty, at least at the end of that set. virtually handing the last 2 games over to raonic very cheaply.


Polo Says:

I am beginning to dislike this Raonic kid.


jane Says:

The announcer, is it Goodall?, keeps calling Raonic “the Canadian”. I am not sure if he’s used either Milos’ first or surname yet.

van orten, his serve is the big weapon for sure, but he has some whopping groundstrokes too.


Polo Says:

It’s that darned blue court!


Aravind Says:

What a ridiculous weapon the Raonic serve is! This guy is a future number one.. What composure serving out the set. This guy is a monster..


Brando Says:

Fed’s unlucky to get raonic 1st up after his long break, BUT raonic does seem beatable IF fed gets his act together.


racquet Says:

There’s a forehand too. But I’m left cold by his game. It’s usually ace – ace – uncontrollable 2nd serve kicker – ace. Apart from the buzz over a possible upset it’s dull IMHO. Sorry Jane.


Polo Says:

Federer’s blue shirt makes him disappear in that blue court. I hope he does not morph into that clay and disappear completely from the tournament.


jane Says:

Polo, you’re so deadpan – can’t tell if you’re serious or not.

Brando I agree that Fed kind of went “off “there near the end of the first set – couldn’t get his firsts in and made some bad errors. But I thought Raonic also took his chances, stayed calm and closed it out too.

Fed can beat big servers; he’s always been able to do so. I think Milos has a little more going on.

Delpo broke back again in the second set; he’s serving for the match.


racquet Says:

Okay, this first game has been a bit more exciting. Some good reflexes by the young one.


van orten Says:

as always vs fed playing their best vs nadal chickening big time !!!!


Aravind Says:

Delpo chokes serving out the set.. Now to tiebreak.. in the meanwhile, Raonic getting some ridiculous return winners


jane Says:

racquet, no need to apologies for your opinion. You’re entitled! :)


Brando Says:

@Jane:

agree re raonic got MORE than JUST a serve- 1st impression of the kid is he’s got more to his game than isner IMHO.

ps re rafa: the guys here have posted a blog about that.


the mind reels Says:

Fed is 0/14 on Raonic’s first-serve points. Granted, 8 of those have been aces, but still.


Aravind Says:

Federer looking rusty.. Long break and now a brutal first match.. Think he is going to crash out early..


jane Says:

Well Delpo is having a tough time versus Youz in this second set. It suggests he’s certainly breakable. He’s up 4-1 in the breaker though.

racquet that should be “apologize” not “apologies” at 3:53.


Polo Says:

The camera just focused on Manolo Santana, the tournament director, who is wearing a blue tie, in support of his blue court. The players may later use that tie to hang him.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

First time seeing the blue clay, looks incredible. Milos/Roger seem to be bringing good tennis on it, though they keep points short. Maybe would hamper defensive players more if they can’t turn.
Fed has his hands full. Whatever the outcome, Milos has just become a Roland Garros dark horse. I guarantee this kid is going to come out of this match a lot better player than he went in. He is learning, soaking it in from Federer. This is a great opportunity for him.


Roger Federer Fan Says:

Where are my fellow fed fans ???

Please come in and list down the excuses for today.


jane Says:

This match is interesting for a number of reasons.

Delpo is through now.


Polo Says:

We’re all hear turning blue from holding our breaths for Roger to turn this around.


Polo Says:

here-hehehe


Aravind Says:

Raonic has now won 44 first serves in the tournament without losing a single point! What aan incredible stat..


dari Says:

Uh oh, cant watch but see the score, rog is in deep with this guy. raonic, fast clay, no play for six weeks may be too much! Hope he finds a way to win!


jane Says:

As soon as they announced that Raonic lost a point on his first serve. And then another. His forehand is quite huge!


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Raonic just looks great.Kid has unlimited upside. He hits angles, power, flat, spin, and from far off court. He can play the net, has great reflexes and soft touch.
And his serve’s not bad.


Polo Says:

Another tennis record for Roger…the player to break Raonic’s string of first points won.


Polo Says:

I mean first serves won.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Whoa. Rog has some modest skills at the game of tennis as well.

Rah blue clay! Get used to it lads.


jane Says:

Nice volley by Fed there.


jane Says:

We lasses don’t have to get used to the blue clay – only the lads.


jane Says:

I wish Raonic would hit one of those serves at my Italian neighbour; he’s been pressure-washing his sidewalk for the last 80 minutes – am about to lose me mind!


Kimberly Says:

is anyone else finding this match boring? It seems like just a serving contest. I guess thats how some people feel about Rafa Ferrer and Rafole, just brutal baseline with no variety but I find this match uninspiring. Sorry guys.


jane Says:

Kimberly right now I think it’s in a lull, but there were some fun points in set one and early in this set. But right now it’s a bit blah – you can tell ’cause everyone stopped commenting.

Either that or they’re turning blue from holding their breath – Polo? Polo? Are you okay? Breathe!!


racquet Says:

Kimberly, I’m with you. I appreciate a good serve but I want some rallies. The only excitement is seeing if Federer can turn it around.


Brando Says:

@kimberly:

I am finding it boring also. NEVER really enjoy serving contests. THANKFULLY fed has variety, and its good seeing him again after a while.


Djokowins Says:

Federer was extremely lucky not to have players like Raonic dring 2004 to 2007.


skeezer Says:

^ err…no. To each there own. And its a full house in the Madrid stands. I find it…refreshing tennis. We all may be looking at the new breed of tennis coming, guys like Isner, Roanic…


Polo Says:

In my book, any match where Federer loses is boring.


jane Says:

Oh good, you’re okay Polo.

I’d like to see more rallies, too, but they don’t have to be pulverizing “please someone end the point!” rallies. Those are as tough to watch as “serve, serve, error return, serve, serve” and so on ad infinitum.

A middle ground would be nice. I like some nice serves, and even love when my faves get easy points on their serves; I like to see players come to net and finish a point at times too; but I also like to see players work and construct a point. A little of all of it. Too much of one thing can be boring and / or exhausting.


Polo Says:

…and Raonic is lucky he didn’t have to play Roger from 2004 to 2007.


jane Says:

I also love return winners because they are often surprising. They element of surprise is welcome any time.

This just doesn’t seem like a clay match though!


Polo Says:

Sorry, Jane. I had to leave briefly to take my antidepressant. This match is making me blue. (you started it)


racquet Says:

Jane, you make a case. I agree wholeheartedly.


jane Says:

My neighbour is STILL pressure washing his sidewalk. i mean – how dirty can it be? Isn’t that wasting water? Who cares if the sidewalk is dirty. For goodness sake it’s so noisy! And then there seems to be some kind of droning hum in the background of my stream too.


Brando Says:

@Jane:

‘This just doesn’t seem like a clay match though!’

I would say that’s because madrid doesn’t seem much of a clay tourny.

BUT yeah variety does trump all options in tennis


Brando Says:

this IS RAONIC’S match to lose IMHO.

fed can’t get a look in on raonic’s serve at all


racquet Says:

That drone has been there all week. It’s very irritating.


Polo Says:

Go ahead Jane and vent your fury on your pressure washing neighbor. This match is giving you too much pressure.


Brando Says:

Likely TB, raonic is fav for me


jane Says:

Polo, you’re a true blue fan – you even keep antidepressants on hand. :)


jane Says:

Fed’s playing better right now. He gets some great angles on his backhand.


the mind reels Says:

Small opening for Fed here at 0-30.


Polo Says:

Right Jane, it’s time he puts some PRESSURE on Raonic.


jane Says:

And we go to a third set!


Brando Says:

JUST GENIUS from fed in that game!


racquet Says:

Now we’re cooking!

(gets more popcorn)


skeezer Says:

Roanic just got snake bit by the Fed. Majical stuff!


the mind reels Says:

I almost cried after Milos hit that amazing backhand flick passing shot down double set point. Cool play from Fed to push this to a third.


harry Says:

i cant watch the match. i need more comments from y’all. what did the fed do?


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Genius.
Inspired play from both.
Incredible how the big three can raise their game in these moments.
I think this is the real coming out for Milos, cementing his last win over Murray as real-deal.
He is a Top Four threat. Mark him in with DelPo.


harry Says:

how did rog manage to break milos?


Brando Says:

what a VOOLEY by fed there!


van orten Says:

finally some incredible returning from fed .,,vamos rog vamos !!!!!!!!!!!!


Brando Says:

^so good i cannot even spell the world, lol!


Brando Says:

eek, comedy of errors word>world


dari Says:

Umm, this match doesnt sound boring from the vibes i get here and on twitter while “busy at work” !


the mind reels Says:

The Milos first-serve steamroller is back again, although Fed just hit a dropshot winner off of a second serve.


jane Says:

I think momentum has swung in Fed’s direction now.


carlo Says:

Absolutely cannot watch. It’s one thing when Gulbis gets a one-off a couple years ago beating Federer in Rome but Fed had just won his 16th GS. I was cheering that underachiever, Gulbis.

Had to get used to Rafa beating Roger, then Nole beating Roger, by then, Nole, Murray, and Delpo seemed like the natural progression of time.

Raonic is no Gulbis. He is the real deal. People may not like his incredible serving but he is much more than his serve. He’s composed and intelligent on court, ambitious; the whole package. He beat Murray, he’ll beat Roger, if not this time, soon. He’s a future #1, imo. (if he can manage those injuries and balance the right training, playing schedule, which he’s likely to do.) I’m just getting updates from you guys. can’t even watch live score.


jane Says:

dari, it was a little dull for most the second set, imo, but it picked up and of course a third set is almost always exciting in these situations – i.e., if it’s been close.


jane Says:

racquet, I did hear the droning in some of the other matches, but I think it’s bugging me more in this one because of that damn pressure washer, which is still going! TWO HOURS now.


van orten Says:

you don’t owe these people anymore..you have given them everything!!!

FED: not everything , not yet !!!


carlo Says:

jane, maybe the pressure washer is a Fedfan – working of some nervous energy.


carlo Says:

working off some nervous energy. not of….yikes


jane Says:

Don’t think so carlo – he’s an 80 year old Italian – I suspect he’s not watched a day of tennis in his life.


skeezer Says:

carlo,

“Raonic is no Gulbis. He is the real deal”. Yes he is. Also, it seems Gulbis never really wants to be a Tennis player, Roanic is all in.


carlo Says:

He was up early watching the giro then. A Lithuanian is leading the race now – Italians waiting for the big climbs. I’m just a nervous wreck. I never know how i’ll react to Federer winning/losing – sometimes cheer against him. This time it’s different.


racquet Says:

Federer dodged two bullets there. Nervy hold.


jane Says:

Meanwhile, just checked scores, and Simon is almost past G-Lo – up a set and 5-3 in the second. I would’ve liked to watch that match as well, but I can do only one stream and scores. Too distracting otherwise.

Mirka looks so solemn, but really well. Both the Federers look rested and slightly tanned – must’ve had a nice holiday/anniversary.

Milos does have a tendency to avoid the backhand too much. He also tends to go crosscourt all the time. Could use the down-the-line shot a little more.


jane Says:

Well, it Raonic’s holds here, it’s a third set tiebreaker. I have to favour Fed in that.

Drop shot has worked well for Fed.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Jane, don’t know if he avoids the backhand too much given just how much more inconsistent it is- avoiding it for that forehand is a good idea. he needs to improve that wing for sure.


racquet Says:

Tiebreak it is.


skeezer Says:

How do you return a serve @145mph?


jane Says:

Eek third set TB.

Sure, yeah TV. My point was he can only run around it so much. He has to get to where he is comfortable hitting it, and feeling confident enough not to avoid it.


jane Says:

Fed will win the tiebreak methinks.


jane Says:

Already a mini-break to Fed.


jane Says:

Oops gave it back. And then Raonic gave it back again! Bad miss for Milos – nerves.


jane Says:

Well, good effort from the young one. The old guy moves on. ;)


steve-o Says:

OmigodIcantbelieveRogerwon!


racquet Says:

Federer escapes 4-6 7-5 7-6. The match became more entertaining from the 2nd set onwards.


van orten Says:

given everything…vintage nerve wrecking maestroooooo


Djokowins Says:

Lucky escape for Federer.
Won lesser points overall…but just lucky to get through.


Brando Says:

Congrats roger- a very tough one on his return and he did really well to progress! Also well done to milos, he kept it close!


Epsilon Says:

After the WTF final against Tsonga, Federer said about the second set:

“I think I almost felt the spectators weren’t quite ready for it to end quite yet. Although many would have been happy for me, they would have loved to see more tennis.”

The guy loves the drama!


Rita Says:

Djokowins Says:

Lucky escape for Federer.
Won lesser points overall…but just lucky to get through.

Yes but Roanic mostly served aces.

If Roanic didn’t have that booming serve he wouldn’t stand a chance against Fed.


skeezer Says:

2 super returns by Fed to win it, totally aweome!! As the commentators mentioned, BEST match of the tournament. With 21 aces from Raonic, Fed had to choose his spots wisely. Raonic imho just needs more match time with the top 4.


skeezer Says:

Now Fed plays mini me and Rafa plays wannabee..


Kimmi Says:

Phew! tough one this one. I was following the score at work, I had to leave when it was 4-4 third set. Good to see fed scraped through. How did he win in the tie break? I guess I have to find out. Milos must have missed some first serve maybe?

He is the tough guy to get in the first round. luckily for fed he has won both their matches. this match could have gone either way.


steve-o Says:

Federer maybe a little rusty after a month-long layoff, but he sure came up with the goods when he had to. He’s playing with confidence and knows what shots to bring out at the right times.

Raonic served 21 aces against Federer, he had more winners and fewer UEs and still he came out second. An exemplar of how the player who won the most important points ended up winning the match despite being down much of the time.


racquet Says:

IMHO the only two weak areas of Raonic’s game are his backhand and movement. One could say experience too but he’s gaining that with every match. I still think he will be susceptible to crafty returners.

And he has yet to prove he can maintain that focus and level of serving in best of 5 matches. We’ll see. He’s definitely top 10 sooner rather than later.


alison hodge Says:

Congrats Roger, when push comes to shove,he can always be counted on,to find that little bit extra when it matters the most,and congrats to Milos for keeping it so competitive,i agree with everyone when saying that hes a future world number 1 and grand slam champion in waiting,well done to both men,tennis was deffinetly the winner today.


Sienna Says:

I think the Raonic kid is the real deal. He is getting better and better, but there is one betterer.


jane Says:

I wonder if the clay will be less slippery with each passing day, kind of how the grass is after some wear and tear.


dari Says:

Great first round warm-up, eh!
Way to fight, Rog.
Well done to milos he brought the goods, but not the best of them at the most important times. that, hopefully, will juat come with time. Keep going, maestro!


Brando Says:

@racquet: agree with all your observations. I can understand the enthusiasm for him- BUT I wouldn’t say he is a future world no.1 moreso than del potro. I would agree that he has more talent than the other ‘giants’ of the game.


grendel Says:

I’m surprised people found the match boring. It had lots of drama and tremendous skill from both players – what’s the problem?

Raonic had every chance to break Federer in the first game 2nd set through some quite inspirational play. Federer looked very nearly down and out. As the commentator said, the break points were virtually match points.Federer somehow hung on, and sheer pride, resolve and experience carried him through. By the end of the second set, he was flying. We’ve seen this before often enough, and it generally signals the end.

Not at all. Raonic absolutely held his own in the 3rd and in fact had a number of chances to break. The stakes were very high, mainly for Federer, since his #1 aspirations would have been dealt a hefty blow by an early exit. So the drama was riveting. This can be the case, of course, even when the level of play is not high. But it was high. Federer’s volleying, in particular, was aggressive, varied and creative – nobody at the top can volley like that. Djokovic is highly competent, Murray and Nadal have superb hands, but Federer is a creative volleyer – he’s not predatory in the way Tignor said Rafter was, the times don’t seem to allow for that. But he’s a natural volleyer, and it’s just a joy to watch him make and take his chances (and I would include one miraculous half volley hit hard off his ankles). He seems almost more likely to fluff the easy ones.

As for Raonic, I’ve been singing his praises since watching him beat Murray. I’d love to hear Federer’s take on him. Someone compared him to Isner, but he’s much, much better than Isner. Given that he has all the main strokes and that he learns so quickly – his bh was evidently a liability not long ago, not now it’s not – perhaps his main weapon is his fearlesness. More than once, I saw him back into the corner of the left hand court, and somehow scoop the ball hard to the opposite corner for a winner on the line. And then he’s hit one or two ferocious bh passes which seemed pure instinct. I think that argues for absolute coolness in a tight situation.

Federer was unlucky to have got Raonic for his first opponent – but only in the sense that he was in real danger of losing. Now that he has won, the draw looks like good fortune. He was forced to shake off the rust and play himself into form. He must be very confident now.


skeezer Says:

Once you hit 6′ 5″ or so your movement is compromised. There is no way a pair of redwood tree trunks are going to float around the court like a 5″10-6’2 guy. Bending the knees and changing directions ( although I thought for a big guy Raonic changes directions pretty darn good ) is a problem also. That said, these guys make up there weaknesses by having other attributes the shorter guys don’t have. It’s all how you can use your build and skill to your advantage. I don’t think there is any doubt on any given day a guy like Isner or Roanic can take down anyone of the top 4. Ask most big servers like Isner/Roanic, they like there chances if they hold serve throughout and get the match into a TB.


jamie Says:

Lucky escape by Federer.

Just give him the trophy already.


skeezer Says:

Rundown on how the match went for those who didn’t ge to see it…

http://espn.go.com/tennis/blog/_/name/espntennis/id/7911626/tennis-roger-federer-finds-way-foil-milos-raonic-day-madrid-open

To add about Milos……he is only 21


carlo Says:

Thanks for that link, skeezer. I have been waiting for Roger’s comments on the court surface. And can’t find any yet. On the ATP website video’s there is the post match on court interview and when asked about playing Gasquet, Roger does mention the not having much time. Maybe he didn’t realize he plays in the evening again tomorrow. But it’s exactly what I wonder with Roger: his recovery time at 30 v his younger years. It’s not as questionable to me in best of 3 as in a GS, but, we’ll see. Gasquet has been playing well in Estoril and on the blue clay.
Gasquet beat Federer in Rome last year, as everyone probably remembers in a tight 3 set match.


Kimmi Says:

carlo – I thought gasquet beat federer recently but could not remember rome last year. Rishard had long matches too, bellucci match was a tough three set but I agree about recovery for a 30 yr old is not the same as the young ones.

Rishard matches up well with fed i think. their matches are always close.


Kimmi Says:

thanks for the link skeeze. didn’t see the match so that was very helpful.


andrea Says:

yay roger. sounds like a tight one but i’ll take a win. too busy these days to watch any matches….better for my stress levels to check in afterwards!


skeezer Says:

carlo,

Me thinks Fed all be ok. Yes, it was a long 3 setter but for the most part the points were short. Rishard is a tough guy for the Fed….completely different strategy here….but I am hoping he gets through :)

Kimmi

urw ;)

grendel

well written post as usual. Love to see your insights from a point of view that is not “the usual”. May I add Fed had some key moments ( 12th game in the 2nd ) and 5-4 in the 3rd TB when out of nowhere he smacks a first serve from Raonic ( who was clocked @ 145 ) back at him to cause an error and then smack a second return of serve winner for the match. Brilliant stuff. He’ll be missed when he is gone :(


carlo Says:

Had the chance to watch most of the ATP matches that had live streams today (except too wussy too watch Delpo and Federer. (Had to flee the drama) Unfortunately, no stream for the Dolgo match to be found, so have not seen him play. But watched Tsonga. Harrison got close to taking a set.

Tomorrow’s schedule looks like fun again.

I’d pick Djokovic over Wawrinka, even with the slippery clay. I wonder about Nole’s mental focus, though. However, I thought he’d made the necessary adjustments by the 3rd set v Traver.

Tsonga over Dolgo. But with Dolgo, you never know.
In fact, all the matches except Nadal v Verdasco could have surprises.

Marin Cilic is back! Really like how the tall man was moving, so light on his feet, imo, the best mover of the giants, he’s playing great tennis. Delpo lunges well but not as quick as an in-form Cilic. And Cilic looks like the Cilic of 2009, early 2010, before he slumped. Cilic seems like such a nice person, I can’t help but cheer him, even v Delpo.

skeezer, kimmi: it’s my job as a professional worrier to worry when my emotions are invested in certain favorites. If Federer gets to the semi-final, I’ll be satisfied. But I don’t expect it to be easy to get there; same goes Nole. Delpo v Cilic I actually feel neutral or even lean toward Marin. Dolgo I love his tennis, but it’s impossible to even have any expectations; he plays his own game, who knows. Hope to see that match. It may be the only one I get to see but it’s at 5 am and have to work. I’m already tired though from waking up early watching European sports.At least I can tape the Giro.


jane Says:

carlo, I feel similar about Cilic. He is great, and I really wish I would’ve gone with my gut and picked him over Isner. Oh well.

I hate to say it because I know you don’t want to hear it, but this event kind of has “Fedal final” in the air.


carlo Says:

Kimmi, I just read your comment about Tipsa and Simon on the bracket. Even though it’s a 4-0 h2h, Tipsa has a shot, i think. Their last match was in Monte Carlo and it was a weird match. Tipsa wasn’t mentally there, he got bagelled, then won a set, then got a breadstick, something like that. All matches have been 3 sets.

It’s the Rafa v Fernando match I’m maybe biased about because of their history but I should be more open-minded. It’s Madrid, it’s blue clay, perhaps it won’t be a pitiful clay beatdown, but Rafa looks like the Madrid winner, imo, really.


carlo Says:

Oh no, jane :/

Also had that thought but Nole’s going to pull through, I hope. Just can’t stand Fedal’s, you know.

Still light out and I’m done for the night. No doubt I’ll wake up early…I have shifted toward the European time zone. At least it’s not AO, that puts me into zombie mode.


Kimmi Says:

carlo – re tipsa beating simon, i dont think so but we will see.

fedal jane? i hope not. I cant stand fedal anywhere..on clay is even worse.


grendel Says:

skeezer

yes, I do remember Federer’s terrific return in the tiebreak. Just talking off the top of my head, it seems to me – and putting it crudely – that Federer does just about everything better than everyone else (except for the overhead smash), but only from time to time. Thus his return of serve can seem barely above ordinary, but when it counts he suddenly pulls out a miraculous one which turns the match. Statistics afficianados, please note. Statistics simply cannot take account of this sort of thing, making evaluation based solely upon statistics null and void.

Carlo and Kimmi
1). Did you not detect signs of imminent portliness in Gasquet – what a shock, the beautiful boy with the champagne tennis (“beautiful” spiritually I’d say)?

2) I’m with you both on the Fedal front. I tackled M on this once, she adores anything fedalised. Her point of view seems to be that the two rub off each other to produce the most sparkling tennis maybe in history. Of course, it is not psychologically feasible to maintain such a stance unless you don’t mind who wins. I imagine for M it must be like watching ballet or something – a purely aesthetic experience. But can sport be purely aesthetic – surely it has to encompass the basic primitive emotions (frankly, I want to kill you) as well the more refined ones?


grendel Says:

from the above:”…. that Federer does just about everything better than everyone else (except for the overhead smash), but only from time to time.”

On reflection, that is a crude thing to say, or maybe just wrong. I do think, for instance, that Federer can do (occasionally) a return of serve more startlingly than anyone else. But obviously every great player has his own inimitable way of doing things, and how would you compare? There are things Nadal and Djokovic – and others – can do which Federer cannot.

So really it was a generalisation which does make some sense – Agassi actually made it himself about Federer some years ago – provided it’s not taken too literally.


Tennislover Says:

“…..but only from time to time”.

And that has become increasingly rare, hasn’t that?

“….but when it counts he suddenly pulls out a miraculous one which turns the match”

But surely that is more the exception than the rule and flirting big time with extreme danger besides giving palpitations to the viewers. He hasn’t been able to turn many big matches in the last few years in a similar fashion. I think, generally, he needs to be more pro-active in his return games.

BTW, who is M?


madmax Says:

Nice comments everyone, Federer came up with the goods when he had to. But he puts us through it, us fans, for sure. Rusty, yes of course, and it was a tought ‘first rounder’ save the bye. Glad it happened this way.

Fed will be on his guard me thinks.

Fedal? Jane, way too early to say that.


grendel Says:

Tennislover – M very occasionally posts here. But mainly, she posts on Tennisplanet. A stunning looking woman, b.t.w. I got quite a shock when I saw a photo of her.

Well, Tennislover, yestreday was a case in point. Federer couldn’t handle Raonic’s serve at all for most of the match- but towards the end, he started to look more comfortable, and that maybe swung it. This raises an interesting point. I wonder whether his eye has deteriorated slightly (I recall Safin admitting, when he was quite a bit younger than Fed is now, that his eye wasn’t quite as good, and he found that frustrating) but, as a match progresses, the eye starts to function as it used to. Is that unlikely? What would an eye specialist say? I wouldn’t be surprised if he said he didn’t know. A delicate and complex organ, the eye. No wonder the creationists get their nickers in a twist about it. But that’s another matter.


harry Says:

@grendel, probing questions! i dont have responses — but i liked your questions nonetheless.


jane Says:

madmax “Fedal? Jane, way too early to say that.” You were right! :)


Tennislover Says:

Grendel

Now that you have told me, I do recall the occasional post from M here. I initially thought that she was some famous tennis columnist or something. I largely disagree with her views on Fedal though. This is, of course, colored by my sense of aesthetics. You know, I wish you hadn’t slipped in the additional “stunning looking” bit about M. I am ashamed to admit it but it intrigued me so much that I rushed to the Tennis Planet site to check if I could find any photo. Much to my chagrin, I wasn’t able to find any. She has posted quite a few albums on photobucket but they don’t include any of her own pics. I wonder if you could be of any help here :-)

More seriously, I am not too sure about the eye bit although is is quite plausible. Fed’s eyesight is probably just a wee bit weaker. That is probably why he doesn’t like to play late matches at places having no artificial lighting. However, improved returns as the match progresses is a phenomenon not restricted just to Fed or older players. You start to read/pick the serve, the patterns etc as the match progresses. I am sure some of it has to do with getting your eye in as they say in cricket.

I remember that quote from Safin but my impression at the time was that he was kidding around and , knowing Safin’s self-deprecating approach in such matters, I think we can safely discount that remark especially considering how young he was.

Sean raised a similar point on the “Fed survives” thread and I thought Dave wrote a very interesting post.

http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2012-05-09/9508.php#comment-268114

I have myself written more than once about his court-positioning while returning but the muddled-mind theory is pretty interesting. As for the Raonic match, he served so well in the first set that I wonder if ANYONE could have done much with that. However, that incredibly high level went down as the match progressed because he did serve two or three second serves on the trot at some crucial moments in the second and third sets. Of course, credit to Fed for taking advantage. I thought Fed missed a great opportunity in the third set at 5-6, 15-15 to put great pressure on the Raonic serve when he put a simple mid-court ball in the net. It could well have been 15-40 since he won the next point although these things are not quite as simple as that. I thought at that moment that Fed had probably missed the bus. Late in the breaker, Fed got into two rallies and he lost both the points. As he himself said, he was lucky to get out of that. It is also worth remembering that Raonic served behind in all three sets and it put him under tremendous pressure especially towards the end of the second and third sets.

Thanks for the “net game” response. I saw you were very pleased with Fed’s net game against Raonic. I beg to differ especially with only 19 out of 34 points won notwithstanding some stunning volleys. That fh half-volley that just dropped dead on the other side was gorgeous. He got into a lot of trouble especially in that first game of the second set due to this although I did get the felling later that this almost-kamikaze approach was due to his discomfort with the surface. Come to think of it, Raonic looked the more assured off the ground.

BTW, what do you think of the Ferrer match? Although I couldn’t watch the Gasquet match, I think this will be the sternest test yet for Fed’s groundies on this surface as he simply can’t avoid longer rallies with him.


grendel Says:

That’s quite funny about M. I wonder how many other posters go slavering to the Tennis Planet site, only to emerge empty handed and disgruntled… Not sure that I can help you here. The regular posters on TP do have their own mailboxes, and you may get some joy from that.

Safin wasn’t so young. He was just about to return from a year off tennis due to injury. His remarks about the eye were not humorous, it was all part of an in depth interview Eurosport conducted just before Safin went to Australia. I remember Vibian Richards, the great West Indian batsman, making a similar point about the very slight deterioration of the eye. Dave’s remarks are speculative, as are mine. Who knows?

“when he put a simple mid-court ball in the net” – I think I remember that, and Federer’s disappointed response. I suspect with those sort of shots – so baffling to look at – that you don’t necessarily know what’s going on. Was the bounce true, was there undectable spin and so on? What about that shot of Nadal’s just before match point against Verdasco? What happened? Gross mistiming, apparently, but why?

” I beg to differ especially with only 19 out of 34 points won notwithstanding some stunning volleys” Yes, but as you later remark, there seemed to be something almost “kamikaze” in some of the s and v tactics. I was very definitely not alluding to that – although, b.t.w., the tactics weren’t necessarily wrong, since they may have had a long term unsettling affect on Raonic – I don’t know. No, I think you could say I was picking and choosing. Mustn’t do that if you are writing a scholarly treatise. But I think it’s ok on a blog, eh?

By Ferrer match, d’you mean Federer or Almagro? I only saw the backend of the latter match, and have already posted comments. As for the match with Fed: everyone seems to think this could be Ferrer’s day. Well, of course it could, but just as Almagro folded against Ferrer, so Ferrer never seems to truly believe he can beat any of the top trio. Accordingly, I don’t think he’ll win – but he’ll certainly be motivated by the departure of Nadal.

Top story: Coric Ends Nadal's Season In Basel, Federer Overwhelms Dimitrov; Ferrer v Murray In Valencia
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Rankings
ATP - Oct 20 WTA - Oct 20
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Roger Federer2 Maria Sharapova
3 Rafael Nadal3 Simona Halep
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 David Ferrer5 Na Li
6 Tomas Berdych6 Agnieszka Radwanska
7 Kei Nishikori7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Marin Cilic8 Ana Ivanovic
9 Milos Raonic9 Caroline Wozniacki
10 Andy Murray10 Angelique Kerber
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