Federer Survives Raonic In Madrid Thriller While Nadal Dominates; What Will Blue Do To Djokovic Thursday?
by Sean Randall | May 9th, 2012, 10:23 pm
  • 266 Comments

Roger Federer showed some championship experience denying the hard-charging Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4) in second round nailbiter at the Madrid Tennis Masters Wednesday.

It wasn’t the greatest display of tennis, but I thought Federer mixed it up just enough to throw off the powerful Canadian and get through. On the quick, slick blue clay, Federer smartly kept the points short, played slices and spent a lot of time at the net. And even though his netgame wasn’t up to par it paid off in the end for Roger who was playing his first match in six weeks.

“I thought I could take it to him by serving and volleying and it worked a bit,” Federer told the AP. “I definitely started to get a better read on his serve and to get into more baseline rallies, make him hit more shots on his own serve.”

Raonic, who can and did dominate early with his serve and massive forehand, started to crack in the second set. The 21-year-old had won an eye-popping 44 straight points on his first serve in the tournament until Federer finally broke through in that second. And eventually the Swiss gnawed his way to a break and the set to level.

The quick points pace continued in the third. Roanic had chances for a likely finishing break but Federer came up with some very timely serves. Then serving 4-5 in the breaker Raonic caved (choked!) missing a sitter mid-court forehand and that was that. A rusty Federer advances.

“I had a tough first set and one bad game that cost me the set really,” said Federer. “He could swing big on my service games and I couldn’t do that much on his but I was getting more balls back as the match went on. I played a good tie-breaker overall.”

As for Raonic, what impressed me was just how composed he was. He never appeared to get too down, or too up for that matter. Much like Federer, he was so focused throughout the affair, which is quite impressive for someone just 21.

“I felt like I was on top throughout the whole match,” said Raonic who belted 21 aces. “I was there doing the right things and it was good. I will probably be more happy with the whole outcome in a few days but now is not the right time.”

And again with his weaponry, the little doubt Raonic’s going to be in the Top 10, likely Top 5 and I think he’ll be in the Hall of Fame one day after winning multiple Slams. Of the new kids – Bernard Tomic, Ryan Harrison, Grigor Dimitrov – Raonic is clearly the cream.

However, watching the match I was struck by how poorly Federer was returning. He also had trouble with Andy Roddick in Miami and of course John Isner at Davis Cup. All three are excellent servers, but the old Federer use to handle those big servers. Frankly, I still consider Federer the greatest returner I’ve ever seen – he may not hit flashy winners like Andre Agassi, but he was oh so tough to ace and somehow had the uncanny, innate ability to read and return even the toughest serves. But now at 30 maybe he’s lost a little bit of that eye.

The good news tomorrow and likely for the remainder of the event is he won’t face any more guys who can crush it 140mph. Up next is Richard Gasquet who’s been playing some good tennis this spring. The Frenchman beat Federer at Rome last year and previously in Monte Carlo, so it won’t be easy. But I expect Federer to again get Gasquet on the move – so important on these quick courts – and take advantage in the big points.

“Right now, I’m just playing good tennis and it’s a big win because wins like this can create great things,” said Federer. “It was pretty much a big struggle for me tonight but the level is pretty good and I’m happy where I am in the season.”

Earlier, Rafael Nadal destroyed Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 6-2. I only saw a few highlights and it’s the usual fare from Nadal. Rafa has now won 22 straight clay matches, 11 this year and all 22 sets!

“I played much better than I expected,” offered Nadal.

Also on Wednesday, a number of contenders scored good wins. Juan Martin Del Potro stayed hot defeating Mikhail Youzhny in straights. Delpo moves on to face fellow big man Marin Cilic who slayed John Isner in two breakers.

JW Tsonga dashed the hopes of 20-year-old Ryan Harrison and Gael Monfils, David Ferrer, Gilles Simon and Fernando Verdasco were also winners.

In tomorrow’s key matches, it’s Federer v. Gasquet, Nadal-Verdasco, DelPo-Cilic and Novak Djokovic-Stan Wawrinka.

Federer, Nadal and Delpo should get through but Djokovic is a question mark. If he’s still that unsure about the center court surface, he could be on the outs against Wawrinka.

Speaking of the courts, it was a much better afternoon for the tournament and Ion Tiriac who celebrated his 73rd birthday Wednesday. Nadal is still not happy with the slickness of the courts and Federer remarked on the spped.

“These are some of the fastest courts on tour, I expected that a few shots would decide the match, that’s what it was like back in the days of (Pete) Sampras, (Boris) Becker and (Stefan) Edberg,” Federer said to the AP. “That’s the way it was tonight.”

As a lead-up to the French, that’s not how it’s suppose to be. Unfortunately with the speed these courts are playing at I’m not sure what real benefit the players get from this event as preparation for the French Open if the surface is bears little similarity to Roland Garros.

The women’s tournament is also taking shape. Tomorrow Serena Williams gets a rematch against the woman who knocked her out of Miami, Caroline Wozniacki. And Maria Sharapova is also on center court against lefty Lucie Safarova.

Tennis Channel is back on tomorrow with full coverage from 7am ET of the men’s event.

THURSDAY MADRID SCHEDULE

MANOLO SANTANA start 10:50 am
L Safarova (CZE) vs [2] M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
[6] C Wozniacki (DEN) vs [9] S Williams (USA) – WTA
Not Before 3:15 PM
[15] F Verdasco (ESP) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 6:45 PM
[3] R Federer (SUI) vs [14] R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP

ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO start 1:00 pm
[16] A Dolgopolov (UKR) vs [4] J Tsonga (FRA) – ATP
Not Before 3:30 PM
M Cilic (CRO) vs [10] J del Potro (ARG) – ATP
Not Before 4:30 PM
[11] N Almagro (ESP) vs [5] D Ferrer (ESP) – ATP
[9] G Simon (FRA) vs [7] J Tipsarevic (SRB) – 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
Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams Among Players At Opening Of Madrid Masters [Video]
Andy Murray: My Back Is Fine, I Feel Pretty Good, The Next 4 Months Will Determine No. 1
Nadal, Djokovic, Murray Give Thumbs Down On Madrid’s Blue Clay Courts

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266 Comments for Federer Survives Raonic In Madrid Thriller While Nadal Dominates; What Will Blue Do To Djokovic Thursday?

Kimmi Says:

i want to watch serena vs wozniacki but i cant. interesting match.


jane Says:

Kimmi, I think I read that there will be streaming and/or coverage of that match. But maybe you mean you can’t because you’ll be working or sleeping.


Michael Says:

The lay-off had a toll on Roger who couldn’t produce his master class Tennis and Raonic took advantage of that rustiness and won the first set. While Roger slowly recovered his game in the 2nd and third set to register a win. Although it is not a encouraging match for Roger, the good thing is that he is still in the tournament. As regards Raonic, he is surely a future prospect with the way he serves and hit his range of shots with sure fire power and control. For sure this weapon is going to trouble the big guns like Nadal and Novak. But Raonic should live upto his promise and not recede into listlessness like say Gulbis and Tomic who promised so much but offered very little. It is one thing to climb upto the top and it is another thing to stay right there. That is the prime reason why players like Roger, Nadal and now Novak are heralded as great players.


skeezer Says:

“Then serving 4-5 in the breaker Raonic caved (choked!) missing a sitter mid-court forehand and that was that. A rusty Federer advances.”

Uh….Sean…we watching the same match? Fed returned a smoker of a first serve from Raonic that caught him by surprise, hardly a “sitter” FH he had? And why did he cave?

Uh mmm…

And then the GOAT doubled it up by hitting the next service return with a outright winner for the match. Fed proved is Maestro timing late in the second and the TB 3rd that turned the tide…

Someone forgot to read the yellow sign on the road that said “Caution….Maestro at work”.

And finally, me thinks anyone playing Raonic in the first round at Madrid would be “rusty”. Just put Rafa or Djoker in Feds place and tell me they would have done any better…..


Djokowins Says:

Why is Federer whining about lack of time between his matches ?
Hope someone tells him its a masters tournament and most players have to play daily.


skeezer Says:

Djokowins,

Take the log out of your own eye dude. Djoker whines “this is not tennis”.

Everyone is whining about this tourney.

When you stack up Feds whining to the other top players, he is an angel, and he gets more interviews than everyone, so stfu.

Show me where in this article he is whining about tomorrow?


Aravind Says:

Anybody who has bad things to say about Raonic does not know tennis. This kid is surely going to be a top 4 player some day. His movement is not the best, but when he can serve like this, movement sis of secondary importance.
What a killer serve it is. The only way to beat him is to take returns early by standing close to the baseline, a high risk strategy. Every time Federer stood back, Raonic went wide and at that point, the serve is above Federer’s head. His serve is not all power. He has incredible placement plus tremendous speed(averaging 137-138mph) for stretches. If you try to return from deep, he is just going to kill you. Very curious to see how his game matches up against Nadal. Nadal does not like returning from close to baseline on clay. He has won two straight set matches, but they were when Raonic was ranked close to 100 or coming back after injury. Raonic can hurt Nadal in a way nobody(only Isner) can. Raonic has also tidied up his baseline game and does not seem to go for too many outrageous low percentage shots. He is now happy to play a few rallies and then blast his FH when the timing is right. In this match, we saw lobs, drop volleys, raping FH winners, one had BH passing shots all from this kid. He won, but pushed Federer to the limits of his creative ability in doing so.

And what a beautiful game Federer played yesterday. His volleying was very good and came up with some deft touches at the net. Federer has got to be the best volleyer on planet today(Tsonga and Murray come close), but his feel for the net is amazing. I laugh when people say that Nadal is a better volleyer. He gets a higher percentage of volleys, but only because he comes so few times and ONLY on the back of a nearly unreturnable approach shot. I challenge him to serve volley 30 times in a match and get his percentage high. Or come in behind anything less than optimum approach shot.

Great match, a past fading great against a new comer and future champion. The old one just prevailed today, but Raonic is going to make tennis interesting and make it beyond just the top 4 in the next 2-3 years..


Sean Randall Says:

Skeezer, it was the 4-5 point, not matchpoint. Milos had an easy mid-court forehand but gagged – the TV announcer (Koenig?) even noted as much.

It’s also referred to in the AP article I linked.


jane Says:

I think Milos hit it way long; is that the shot you mean Sean?


Sean Randall Says:

Jane, yup, the one he clubbed.


skeezer Says:

Sean,

Never said it was match point, but watch it again. Fed made 2 spectular returns in a row to win the match off a big time server.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You think Milos choked it, I saw Fed stick a return off a huge typical first serve of Milos at a critical time of the match, which caused Milos to get ready quicker than usual to hit a return back, causing the error. As we all know, commentators are not the end all.

Then Fed AT MATCH point, off Milos 2nd serve, for match point, hit a flat out winner. Bliss.


jane Says:

Milos got the minibreak back, getting back on serve in the tiebreak (Fed had gone ahead with the minibreak right away) and then Milos hit that forehand long. I think that miss was at least partly nerves; well that is what the commentator said anyhow. Fed closed it out immediately thereafter. It was a close match all the way. That is just another example of the small momentum shifts throughout. I am glad I got to watch it all.


montecarlo Says:

Epic choke from Milos in 5-5 game second set. Should have been 6-2,7-5.


Rahul Says:

Milos’ serve was unplayable for the first 2 sets for most of the 3rd barring the tiebreaker. I dont know how Federer pulled that one off. Personally I think such a win bodes better for Federer than Raonic for future meetings because I cant see Raonic repeating that serve performance.

I agree with Sean that such a fast court makes the whole tournament irrelevant. Plus the fact that the slippery courts add the risk of injury, it really casts a huge shadow on the think tank behind the tournament. And to think there was such an outcry for using models as ball girls.. That doesnt seem so bad now does it?


steve-o Says:

Regarding the point at 5-4 in the tiebreak: it’s difficult to hit a forehand when you’re stepping into the court and you’re not prepared. Federer got the return low and I don’t think Raonic quite knew how to deal with it.

Federer may make it look easy to hit winners from any part of the court, but it’s not. If you step into no-man’s land you have less time to get into position and set up your swing, and you have to have great hand-eye coordination to do it consistently, especially if you’re trying to hit a clean winner. It’s easy to misjudge the ball and overhit.

Most players avoid this by staying way back in order to get a lot more time to deal with the ball. The price is that you need to do a lot more running and need a lot more power to muscle the ball through the court. That’s why pure strength and speed have become so important in the modern game.

Taking the ball early, stepping in to put away a low, difficult ball, is risky. Most players are averse to taking such risks. But Federer forced Raonic to do it.

Federer often wins by making the opponent hit his least-favorite shot at the crux of the match. This was a prime example.


Solar Says:

Federer just knew what to do, at first he tried to return from the baseline, then pretended that its not working and stepped back, then at the crucial moment he stepped to baseline again to return, and it worked, simply genius. Its beautiful “save the best til last” approach. Smart tennis.


Solar Says:

“old Federer used to handle those big servers”. Tell us please which of “those big servers” you was talking about ? Every player with something new at first forces others to take time to adjust. Then he gots eaten.


grendel Says:

Sean says:”It wasn’t the greatest display of tennis, but I thought Federer mixed it up just enough to throw off the powerful Canadian and get through.”
I think this misses the point. Actually, Federer’s tennis was decidedly ordinary to begin with, hardly surprising after the long lay off. What was fascinating was to see him move through the gears. It was like watching a hibernating bear come to life rather quicker than he would have ideally liked. He was forced to do that by the uncompromising play of Raonic. Hardly a given that he should have succeeded.

Aravind – just about everything you said, I agreed with. Doesn’t mean you are right, of course. But it induced a certain amount of puring from me….


grendel Says:

“purring”, of course I meant.


Kimmi Says:

Jane, I meant I will be at work. wozniacki is moving serena left and right, serena cant deal with her at the moment.


Kimmi Says:

bread stick first set for wozniacki.


alison hodge Says:

Kimmi wow against Serena,good for Wozniaki.


grendel Says:

http://www.atpworldtour.com/

This is Sampras talking to gimelfarb(?) about Djokovic, and any advice he has for him. I found his references to himself quite interesting, and they do put you very much in mind of the man of the moment, Raonic. Raonic, like Sampras, gives almost nothing away on court, and for that reason, no doubt, some will call him dull. But those fires which glow steadily tend to outlast the ones that flicker wildly. I found Raonic’s quiet summary after the Federer match revealing. He’s hurting – the words he uses are the give away, for he seems to be facially pretty expressionless – and when he indicates where he needs to improve, you know that he is making a considered reflection which he will proceed to act upon. Quietly and methodically. Quite a scary young man, really.

One pointed remark Sampras made re Djokovic – having lauded the Serb to the skies – is that round about now, at the age of 24, and for the next 4 or 5 years, this is the time when he comes into his inheritance, so to speak. I say “pointed” because I thought I detected in Sampras’ mien the unstated observation: he’s had his annus mirabilis – can he now build on it? I think that’s what a lot of us are wondering, and I don’t mean that negatively. It’s just that it does not yet seem clear one way or the other.


Polo Says:

Djokovic does not seem to have the same composure that he showed last year. From the last few matches I have seen, I seem to see the old Djokovic, the one prior to the winning streak he had last year. I think his current attitude is that what he did last year was so incredible that he could not duplicate it. Hence, some sense of appehension when he plays now.


Kimmi Says:

OK, serena turned it around. she will be happy to get her revenge.


grendel Says:

Kimmi – I only managed to see bits and pieces of the 2nd and 3rd sets, and I must say, Serena looked quite devastating. Say what you like about her as a character, her tennis, when on, is just out of this world. Can you see anyone beating her in this tournamnet?


racquet Says:

This Tsonga/Dolgo match is a lot of fun. Both players giving stares of death at the court and berating themselves. And I saw that Berdy beat Monfils 6-1 6-1 – wow! I think he’s looking like the primary sleeper at this tournament.


Polo Says:

Poor Caroline. Everybody knows how to beat her now…pure aggression. Wozniacki plays so defensively that she is always at the mercy of her opponent. And her mental edge has already been cracked by her inability to win a major. I don’t see any way for her to be number one again.


jane Says:

Raonic used to be more moody, but his coach forbids it. Here is the Deuce feature on him from last year, he is awesome indeed – really like him.

http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/DEUCE-Tennis/DEUCE-Australian-Open-2011/Milos-Raonic.aspx

I think Nole is doing fine. He has won a slam and a Masters and he’s not lost before the semis of any evenet he’s entered. That said, he does seem less focused this year, and at times he loses the plot because of it. The loss of his grandpa may even amplify that. Today’s match could be an upset. Still, I am not too worried – how odd.


Polo Says:

Berdych has big problems with the big guys. This is still Nadal’s. I really think Nadal will not lose any match on clay this season.


Polo Says:

I like Raonic. I like his court demeanor. I hope he does not suffer from any more injuries. He reminds me of Richard Krajicek who was a very talented player and very tall like Raonic. He was undone by so many injuries. He could have done better. I was happy when he won a major and it was a Wimbledon, too.


Polo Says:

Hi, Jane. I did not finish the Federer-Raonic match yesterday. The missus wanted to go shopping. I taped the rest and watched it in peace and glory after I read the result.


Wog boy Says:

Krajicek,

Do you know the meaning of his surname?


Polo Says:

I think “kraji” means “tailor”. I think I heard that a long time ago when Richard was still active in the game. Am I correct?


jane Says:

Well, you’re very respectful of the missus Polo. I’d be hard pressed to leave mid-match to shop. But luckily there are recordings. I think you will enjoy the final set and tiebreak.

Looks like Dolgo will upset Tsonga…


jane Says:

Oops, I see you watched it already, “in peace and glory” no less. :)

Nadal is going to beat Hotsauce like Berdych beat La Monf I suspect.


Wog boy Says:

Polo,

Krajicek is of Czech backround and “krajicek” means the end of the old fashion bread loaf. The best part of the bread, when ever it was my turn to go to by bread I would eat both ends by the time I am back home. My grandmother use to belt me because of that but I just couldn’t help it. In Serbian we say “okrajak” similar to Czech “krajicek” main part is “kraj” witch means “end”.


Polo Says:

Jane says,”…you’re very respectful of the missus Polo…”

I did not leave without a fight though. Hahaha!
But I was getting very agitated watching and I remembered that each time I fear that Federer would lose, he did lose. So I relented and went…and there was peace on earth again.


jane Says:

Hotsauce is proving me wrong or what…


Wog boy Says:

jane,

Nole is doing just fine, you are right. I love the way you say that. I can go to bad now.

Verdasko broke Nadal but I still have to go to bed, i will record it, Grendel I will tell you tomorrow if it was successful.


Polo Says:

Now I know why I feel sad when I watch Verdasco play. His father is always there watching. I could almost feel his pain watching his son lose all the time to Nadal.


jane Says:

I think I may switch over to Cilic / Delpo now that order is restored in the Rafa / Hotsauce match.

Wog Boy, sweet dreams.

Polo, funny how we have little suspicions like that, as if somehow something we do can impact the outcome of a match, like me with my cleaning. Really it is just a way to deal with nerves. Sports and drama go hand-in-hand much of the time.


skeezer Says:

Does Vamos! mean hurry up?
I can so 30 situps in between Rafa’s serves.


Brando Says:

LOL skeez, BOTH are taking too much time here.

I cannot see rafa winnning the tourny based on todays play so far. He’s not comfortable in his defense at all- a KEY part of his game.

This is verdasco’s BEST chance to rafa IMO.


Polo Says:

Vamos means let’s go. You should have very tight washboard abs by now. I think I will do the same.


Brando Says:

IMHO with the slippery nature of the court i CANNOT see rafa or djokovic winning this tourny.

FAV: federer, then a big hitter so DEL POTRO.


Polo Says:

skeezer, I got 32 in. Hahaha! I should look good after this match.


Brando Says:

verdasco seems more comfortable in his movement here.

he seems to want the win more than rafa- i think he senses today is his best chance


the mind reels Says:

I watched the replay of Raonic-Federer last night, and I mostly agree with what’s been said here (including grendel’s post above). Federer didn’t look particularly great — he ran around his backhand a lot, shanked some of the ones he decided to hit, and generally looked to be hitting his forehand somewhere around 60-70% pace. Raonic’s serve was lights-out for a good chunk of the match, but kudos to Federer for hanging in there and, as he’s done so often, finding a way to win.

Looks like the heat is back. More fans passing out in the stands as Verdasco tries to consolidate his second break of the match. Ugh. Great time to stop play at 30-all of an important game.


Brando Says:

Del potro seems to be playing really well- hopefully he’ll go deep in this tourny


jane Says:

What an ingenious idea; we can all get fit while *watching* tennis. :) “Sits ups between serves”

Delpo is beating Cilic easily so far.

Polo I think you may be right in your prediction, that a big hitter will win this event. Look at the way Berdych clobbered Monfils, for example.


the mind reels Says:

If Verdasco can just keep it mentally together (which he has rarely, if ever done, against Nadal…), he should have a decent shot today. Nadal looks kind of flat, and Verdasco is playing well. Still, my money’s on Nadal.


Dave Says:

It’s a valid point to say “the old Federer used to handle those big servers… he was oh so tough to ace and somehow had the uncanny, innate ability to read and return even the toughest serves.”

But I disagree that this is wholly due to “now 30 maybe he’s lost a little bit of that eye.”

I think the primary reason is Annacone’s changes to the way Federer returns. Since Annacone arrived Federer has added more variety and attack to his return, which short-sighted observers presume has made Federer a more effective returner. Not so, even though it’s more entertaining. Federer may look like a better returner, but he has actually become a worse returner under Annacone. The changes probably messed with the dynamic that made Federer a great first serve returner — by adding more decision options, it affected Fed’s instinctive reactions to the toughest serves. This year Federer has won just 32% of first serve return points compared to 34 to 35% during 2004 to 2007. This year Federer has won just 50% of second serve return points compared to 52 to 54% during 2004 to 2007.And it affects his effectiveness at winning return games: this year Federer has won just 27% of return games compared to 30 to 32% during 2004 to 2007. Methinks Federer is thinking too much now — Federer’s genius used to be instinctive and chaotic and zen-like, not the sum of its parts as in Djokovic or Nadal. If Annacone was smarter he would have chosen to make subtler refinements to Federer’s existing return game (which was probably affected in 2008 and 2009 by his loss of confidence when his game was compromised by mononucleosis), such as court positioning on his returns.


Brando Says:

verdasco SHOULD win here- the match is there for him.

as a rafa fan, i wouldn’t be disappointed IF he were to lose today either


jane Says:

This time, at least, Hotsauce managed to consolidate his break.


Brando Says:

Verdasco wins his 1st set against rafa on clay!

Rafa: 3 winners to 13 UE- verdasco should win this!

Good luck to nando!


madmax Says:

Points up date from JW:

Here are the ranking points No. 2 Nadal and No. 3 Federer presently have: Rafael Nadal 9,715 and Roger Federer 8,880. Do you see Federer surpassing Nadal and ending up the No. 2 French Open seed?
– Joe Johnson, Easton, Pa.

• It’s conceivable, but I don’t envision it, if only because A) it’s hard to see Nadal losing much on clay and B) if he’s going to lose, it’s likely going to be to Djokovic. And for Djokovic and Nadal to get to the finals, it will likely mean that one or the other has beaten Federer. But who knows? One tweak-y injury or one rough day at the office and Nadal could be seeded third in Paris.

Also Dani Najman, of New York wondered: “As the men began playing in Monte Carlo, Nadal has 9,215 points, and had 1000 to defend. If he won the event, which he did, how come his point total is now 9,715? Where are the extra 500 points coming from?”

Sharko to the rescue: “Last year’s Barcelona points came off this week and Nadal had 500 from the title. So with MC title (1,000) he picked up a net of 500. Last year’s MC pts. came off last week.”

I think Nadal’s slow play does benefit him in one key area. Nadal’s ability to concentrate is a comparative advantage against anyone not named Deep Blue. By lengthening the match, I believe Nadal’s mental focus stays close to 100 percent whereas his opponent can begin to lose some strategic and/or tactical clarity. As you pointed out regarding the Australian Open semifinal matches, a few points can make the difference. I would add that a few bad decisions by the opposition can lead to those very points going Rafa’s way.
– Dan Martin, Park Hills, Ky.

• That’s interesting. And, of course, it’s easy to see how an opponent’s concentration could waver. It’s not simply the extra time. It’s the fact that those extra 10 or 15 seconds are different from conventional rhythms. You can liken this to all sorts of situations. If all of your essay tests in school are an hour, but one teacher gives a 75-minute test, you can see how this could throw off a student. If your match.com date pauses an extra few seconds before answering your questions (“How bad is your commute?” “Do you watch ‘Mad Men?’” “How did people meet before the interweb?”) your whole rap gets thrown off, I suspect.

Krishan of Houston also raised the point that whereas Federer is quick and decisive, Nadal uses this time to recuperate physically and also gather himself mentally for the next point: “If you take that away from him [i.e. "enforce the rules"] he loses a considerable part of his game,” Krishan writes.

Again, a shot clock eliminates this complaint — and a knock on the sport’s top two players — and I don’t really see a downside. It’s another fan-friendly innovation (inasmuch as a device used by other sports for the last half-century innovates.) It’s not prohibitively expensive. And if there were inconsistencies with respect when the chair began the countdown, so what? The players would adjust accordingly.

Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/tennis/news/20120425/american-tournaments-prize-money/#ixzz1uTekc7VJ


jane Says:

Kudos to Verdasco. He is playing within himself today.

Dave, you make really strong points about Fed’s instinctive first serve returns and how they may not be like they used to be. But I don’t agree with this second half of this statement: “Federer’s genius used to be instinctive and chaotic and zen-like, not the sum of its parts as in Djokovic or Nadal”. Indeed, I see Nole’s return as very instinctual; his longtime coach confirms this in a very insightful interview; he basically states that Nole’s return is “his gift” – it’s not something they work on. I don’t know about Nadal’s but it’s always been a strength of his. Ditto Murray. These three have been top returners for as long as I can recall.


Brando Says:

IF nadal loses today, and federer wins the tourny- federer is new no.2!


Dave Says:

A Canadian tennis journalist wasn’t wrong when she said Federer “Federer’s ground game was misfiring at first. In addition to having to shake off some match rust, he appeared to have the same issues with the surface. So he had to go on the attack… (and so Federer) was forced to go to Plan B and Plan C… (in) a game of cat-and-mouse in which a rusty Federer attempted to find solutions while Raonic just tried to stay calm, and believe. He fell achingly, barely short, but has little to regret and did little wrong… You could see Raonic start to feel it a little bit… Raonic rarely loses his composure these days. In this one, there were more reactions than we’ve seen in awhile. He was telling himself to take deep breaths. He was licking his lips, the dry mouth a sure sign of the tension inside. The infamous Raonic tongue was flicking in and out.”
http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/Raonic+gives+Federer+scare+Madrid/6594667/story.html

The positives for Federer are that — despite a six-week layoff from the ATP tour and no ATP clay court matches in 11 months — Federer still has nerves of steel, is able to raise his game when it matters and is still the King of Tiebreakers when it matters. And Roger finds a way to save break points and win a match even when he’s not playing his best. It wasn’t coincidence that Federer suddenly got a handle on Raonic’s serve to break him in the second set as well as win the tiebreaker. While Federer’s tennis wasn’t his best, fortunately he remains a savvy veteran with the mindset of the greatest tennis champion.

Rusty Roger Federer was… very rusty and sloppy for most of the match after a six week layoff (without any clay court tournaments in 11 months). His ground game was nowhere at the level against Nadal in Indian Wells or Murray in Dubai (I think he over-used the serve-and-volley to buy time to disrupt Raonic’s rhythm and rebuild his confidence for his ground game to breathe). Practising with Michael Berrer and Jesse Levine — who have won acombined 11 career matches on clay — during his break does not prepare Federer for the top players on clay court. On the other hand, Milos Raonic was playing his very best. Raonic had momentum from continuing to play over the past four months (without taking any long breaks) in 10 events; having his training base on clay in Barcelona; and having played 6 good clay court players in Monte Carlo and Barcelona (Raonic even beat Almagro in Barcelona). And apparently Federer and Raonic have had pre-tournament practice sessions, so Milos is comfortable being on court with Federer. Raonic is hot, ranked No. 8 in year to date ranking points (see link)… in comparison, Nadal’s opponent Davydenko is mired in a slump and ranked No. 61 in YTD points, while Djokovic’s opponent Daniel Gimeno-Traver is ranked No. 298 in YTD points. So Raonic was not just the opponent from hell for Federer’s first match in 6 weeks, he would have been the worst opponent for any seeded player to deal with in the second round.
http://www.atpworldtour.com/Rankings/YTD-Singles.aspx

Fox News reported Federer as saying “I wasn’t feeling confident at the back of the court because it is so slippery so I felt I needed to take it to him Fox News reported Federer as saying “I wasn’t feeling confident at the back of the court because it is so slippery so I felt I needed to take it to him. I thought if I am not good enough from the back court and not good enough from the net I don’t deserve to be in the tournament. “…. but it’s his fault for not practising more in Madrid. Raonic benefitted by arriving early in Madrid (he had been training for almost a week on the blue clay before his first match) and then playing Nalbandian (who is not just a good clay courter, his game is a good warm up for playing Federer). Nadal also arrived earlier in Madrid to get used to moving and playing on the blue clay — and it showed in his first match despite all the whining. On the other hand, Federer chose to arrive only on Friday, even though he could have chosen to arrive earlier — like Nadal and Raonic did. This suggests that Federer is not willing to over-invest in training for Madrid’s unique blue surface that bears little resemblance to the French Open or Rome.

If Federer lost early in Madrid, he was probably prepared to take the hit, though every match he would have lost much needed match practice on clay. Federer got no conventional clay court match practice by playing Raonic, playing so much serve volley, and playing on blue clay. And Gasquet in the third round gives Federer only slightly better clay match practice, with the added danger that Gasquet has actually beaten Federer in two clay Masters tourneys. And Gasquet has had much more rest after his 86 minute afternoon match against Troicki.

Raonic must be confident about his next meeting with Federer after two bites at the cherry. But Federer, who wasn’t playing his best given his flu at Indian Wells and the rust at Madrid, still found a way past a Raonic who played his best tennis both times. The next time they meet Federer might actually be playing his best. But Raonic is definitely the real deal — and I predict he will start to win Slams within a year. He also has good potential to beat Nadal and Djokovic this season if he ever gets opportunities to play them while Raonic is healthy and playing his best tennis right now. Raonic’s total game, speed, reflexes, hustle and movement on the blue clay — improvements over just last year — are impressive for a big guy (and Nadal and Djokovic should be ashamed at themselves for whining so much about the blue clay). In 2011 Monte Carlo, Raonic looked uncomfortable on clay as he was manhandled by David Ferrer. No longer. At Barcelona this year he could have won the match. We should give Raonic the space to mature and not put him under excessive pressure to win Slams too quickly.


racquet Says:

@jane, you’re spot on with that post. The notion that a coach would work on an area of a player’s game which is largely dependent on instinct is ludicrous.

As far as this Nadal match goes, I can see clearly that Rafa is having problems stopping and changing directions on this surface. Cue more death stares at the clay.


racquet Says:

EDIT: instead of “work on” I should have written “tamper with”.


racquet Says:

3 DFs! Hotsauce meltdown.


jamie Says:

@Brando

It’s obvious that Federer will win Madrid by beating Del Potro in the final.


jane Says:

Wow Hotsauce breaks back, interesting. I had thought Rafa was turning the tides.

Dave says:

“not the sum of its parts as in Djokovic or Nadal.” / “He also has good potential to beat Nadal and Djokovic this season if he ever gets opportunities to play them ” / “(and Nadal and Djokovic should be ashamed at themselves for whining so much about the blue clay).”

The two are often linked together in your posts, I’ve noticed.

Fox News reported Federer as saying ““I wasn’t feeling confident at the back of the court because it is so slippery …”

So Fed did say the courts were slippery then.

Some choice words from Raonic:

After his win against Nalbandian, Raonic described the court conditions as “tricky,” but noted that: “It’s slippery and hard to change direction, but that benefits me in a way.”

Here’s Milos: “I entered the court believing I could win. I left the court knowing I can win,” and “It just came down to one or two points but if I want to be in this position against Federer, Nadal, Djokovic … I’m going to have to improve my returns.”

So returns come up again; Raonic is right, but his backhand is another area on which to work.

Again, I think Polo is going to be right and a big hitter, someone who doesn’t necessarily rely on movement, is going to win here methinks.


Dave Says:

Jane, I was referring to Federer’s first serve returns. Even today Federer’s career first serve return points still remains higher than Djokovic (see link)… in 2007, Federer’s career percentage up to that time was 34 to 35%. But Djokovic has always been better than Federer at returning second serves. Btw, do you have that Vadja interview you referred to?
http://www.atpworldtour.com/Matchfacts/Matchfacts-List.aspx?c=6&s=0&y=0


jane Says:

Dave, I agree with you about Fed’s first serve returning; it seems very instinctual and has always been a great strength. I recall many matches where he muted Roddick’s serves.

Here is the Vajda interview; I like it a lot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czE_SxvgJvc


the mind reels Says:

Nadal is missing a lot of routine, mid-court balls. These are shots where he isn’t even having to move, so I’m not sure the surface is to blame. Looks like concentration issues for the guy. Meanwhile,

Verdasco is teetering…


Dave Says:

racquet: “The notion that a coach would (tamper with) an area of a player’s game which is largely dependent on instinct is ludicrous.”

In 2008 Djokovic won 87% of service games, his career best. When I saw him from the stands play two matches where I was impressed with his serving, even getting aces on his second serve. He was serving more instinctively in those days, even if his mechanics were not perfect.

And what happened? He and his coaches decided to tamper with that serve… sending him into a tailspin.

Similarly, Annacone, with all his experience, tampered with Federer’s instinctive returns of first serve.

So it’s ludicrous to think it’s ludicrous that coaches don’t tamper with instinctive areas of a player’s game.


Aravind Says:

I have Berdych taking out Rafa in this tournament. He is a very good player and he is due a win against Rafa at some point. This altitude should favor his flat hitting.


jamie Says:

I don’t think either Nadal or Djokovic will reach the final.

This tournament is Federer’s to lose.

Nole hates this blue crap.


racquet Says:

Instinctive serves? LOL. Don’t attempt to deflect, the subject was returning (as you’re well aware).


van orten Says:

game set and match nadal…!!!!bye bye hot sauce…nadal as always !!!


van orten Says:

why do players always break down vs nadal??? even federer …it is hard to watch,,cuz you know in the end nadal will win…


Aravind Says:

Watching the Nadal Verdasco match it is apparent that the court is slippery and players are struggling to change directions. This favors the big hitters more than the ones that rely on movement. This won’t mean much in the context of the French open, but I think neither Nadal or Djokovic is going to win here. They both rely on unreal movement and defense and I am not sure this court plays to their strengths. Verdasco is choking as I type. Nadal will not get a reprieve like this against Berdych or Del Potro. Federer looks good to reach the SFs.


skeezer Says:

Hotsauce has the physical game to beat Rafa, but you watch him and you can tell somehow somewhere he is going to fail against Rafa. Painful to watch.


racquet Says:

Fugly match.


Rita Says:

Wow Rafa is looking Ugly.

Wasn’t it Rafa who said in his book, Federer missed an easy club level smash at Wimbledon?

Who is the one missing club level smashes now?

Lol maybe someone will post the vid after the match.

I’m sure It will be on youtube soon.


jane Says:

I had to step out, but I see Rafa came back, as he usually does. Still Hotsauce is fighting by the looks of it. Good for him.

Aravind, interesting call on Berdych taking out Rafa; he does seem due for a win, since he hasn’t beat Nadal since 2006! Maybe these courts are his chance if he clobbers the ball. I have seen Nole hit like that occasionally (4th set USO final, for example) but only rarely. You’re right, though, that his movement is typcially a key in his success. I wonder if it is in Fed’s past sucsesses against Delpo too, though? I can’t recall which match I watched between them this year where it was apparent that Fed’s movement set him apart from Delpo and gave him an advantage in that match up. That may (?) be nullified here. However, if Fed volleys well again, that could balance things out in that regard. Anyhow, I am jumping ahead too much.

Rafa with another chance to serve it out.


jane Says:

Wow. I am surprised.


racquet Says:

Crunch time. Can anyone believe he was up 2 breaks?


Aravind Says:

Jane, Berdych is a very good player. Saw him give Rafa everything that he could handle at the Australian open. Rafa and Roger have some really one sided records against VERY GOOD players like
- Roger against Soderling
- Roger against Roddick
- Rafa against both Verdasco and Ferrer
At some point, it is only normal that there will be a loss. Verdasco is now two points away, can he take it!


jane Says:

Wowsa! Congrats to Hotsauce! He is so happy.

Wow. This is very uncharacteristic to say the least. I expected another beatdown like in Barcelona to be honest. Rafa looked so strong versus Davy, especially on serve.


racquet Says:

Nobody beats Verdasco 15 times in a row!


skeezer Says:

Choke FH at duece…I mean an almost whiff there…


andres Says:

Oh shit!


jane Says:

Oh my god the tournament organizers will be so pleased – only because Hotsauce just kissed the blue clay. Hee hee.


jamie Says:

Expected.

Now watch Nadal win Roma and RG.


andres Says:

Verdasco beats Nadal, The Mayas were right :its the end of the world


Brando Says:

Congrats to verdasco- im happy for him!

as for rafa- it’s cool, he’ll keep things in perspective regarding this loss!


Dave Says:

jane: “I see Nole’s return as very instinctual; his longtime coach confirms this in a very insightful interview; he basically states that Nole’s return is “his gift” – it’s not something they work on.”

Nope, his coach did not say that Djokovic’s return was instinctual (see around the 5:10 mark in your clip). All his coach said is that Djokovic’s return is his “gift”, “his best weapons” and is precise… Vadja never said that Djokvic’s return is instinctual. It’s our personal gestalt at work — we tend to fill in the blanks with our own beliefs. And because you believed that Djokovic’s coach said it, it became even more compelling to you.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czE_SxvgJvc

jane: “The two are often linked together in your posts, I’ve noticed.”

That’s because I noticed that Federer, Nadal and Djokovic make up the Three Titans of Tennis, the Holy Trinity of Teniis, the… What I instinctively said was relevant, so you should not tamper with my views by trying to coach me (nice try, though).

jane: “So Fed did say the courts were slippery then.”

Other players have said that Madrid, even with red clay, had the most slippery clay courts in the European clay season. If the blue clay is even more slippery, Federer did not do himself any favours by not arriving earlier in Madrid to get more practice on the blue clay.

Btw, Raonic’s backhand and returns are a relative weakness compared to the rest of his game, but it’s much improved since last year.

Btw, Vadja close up looks more different on 2-dimensional TV or photographs than he does in person. He sat directly behind me in one of Djokovic’s matches, and I told him he did a great job with Novak.


skeezer Says:

Well excuse me while I go drink a bottle of Tobasco. Hotsauce, you very well deserved this match, beating the Beast on Clay. Kudos to you! Hopefully this will help him mentally, as his physical game has always been solid.


Aravind Says:

Verdasco does it!! Who saw that happening!!! What a shocker.. Verdasco has lost some heartbreaking losses against Rafa, especially the Australian open SF in 2009. He has had some bad beatings against Rafa after that. This seemed to be a routine beating, but I guess that is why matches have to be played. You can see how much this victory means to him.. You have to feel happy for him.
I had the exact same feeling when Soderling upset Federer in French open in 2010. Too good a player to have such a lopsided record, even if it was against Federer.
Wow.. This is big. A Rafa loss on clay(is this tournament really clay??) before Finals has not happened in years I think. Goes to say that even the best can have their bad days.. and this was a bad day for Rafa..


Rita Says:

Wow a good run in Madrid and Rome(since Fed has no points to defend).

And Feddy Bear will be no.2 YEY!!!

don’t wanna jinx it.


Polo Says:

Yikes! I was so wrong to think that Nadal will win all the clay court events this season. But I am so happy for Verdasco and his dad. It’s about time for him to rejoice as he sees his son beat a good player, especially Nadal.


jamie Says:

@Rita

Federer will lose early in Roma.


Brando Says:

this was loss won’t hurt rafa- it was OBVIOUS as to the issues he had on court today.

Nonetheless, same conditions for both and it was verdasco’s day. Let’s keep it at that.

Hope verdasco beats T-Bird!


andres Says:

That side of the draw has open up now. Delpo have a good chance to make it to the finals.


Maso Says:

I stopped watching for a few minutes when Rafa was serving for the match at 5-2, thinking naively (or simply from experience) that there was no way in hell Verdasco would come back from two breaks down. What an incredible comeback from Fernando! I thought it was over when Rafa took the 2nd set, to be honest. This certainly is a surprise, especially considering the way Nadal trashed Davydenko yesterday. You gotta wonder if Verdasco could have pulled it off on good ol’ red clay, though…


Rita Says:

@jamie

Well as long as he makes it past the second round he gains points.

So Ill take the title in Madrid and a fourth round exit in Rome ;)

Deal?


jamie Says:

I think Federer will win Madrid and then Wimbledon this year.


Aravind Says:

Jane, I think Davy’s match was misleading, mainly because of how poor Davy’s form has been. I read a report saying that he had no top 50 wins this year and even lost to players ranked 180! At the top of his game, Davy is an incredibly exciting player to watch, but he is a pale shadow of his former self..


steve-o Says:

Congratulations to Verdasco, what an effort!

Yesterday Nadal claimed he would stop complaining about the surface. I’m betting that promise is going to be broken today. It will be a shock if he talks about anything else in the presser.


jane Says:

Well Aravind, Berdych won’t be beating Rafa, not here anyhow.

Brando, I think you’re right. I don’t get the sense that Rafa will let this loss bother him too much.

Dave, here is what I said – “I see Nole’s return as very instinctual; his longtime coach confirms this in a very insightful interview; he basically states that Nole’s return is “his gift”

So no Vajda does not explicitly say “Nole’s return is instinctual”, but by saying it’s “his gift” (which I put in quotation marks in my orginial post as I knew those were his words) I interpret this as Vajda essentially saying it’s a “talent”, something that is innate or comes naturally to him. I made the connection between what I said and Vajda said. You might think it’s incorrect, but that’s how I interpret it. A “gift” and an “instinct” can both be interpreted as more “natural” as opposed to “learned” – more of a talent versus a workmanlike skill. I think that’s what Vajda means. And yeah, I definitely think he’s the right coach for Nole. His disposition is a good match, from what I can tell.


andres Says:

Now its Feds turn. i was surprise to found out that Gasquet is only 25, it feels his been around for ages. He still has time to make some waves.


RZ Says:

I’ve always thought that Verdasco had the goods to beat Rafa…on a hard court. I’m pretty astounded to the result. But really this might end up being a good thing for Rafa, as he never really liked Madrid and can now get ready for Rome and the F.O.

I just hope Verdasco can get back to his form of a few years ago and get back in the top 10.


Dave Says:

If Verdasco was mentally stronger and more focused (instead of whining about the blue clay like a child) he would have won this match long ago.

Nadal should be confident on clay, coming into this match with 15 wins out of 15 clay court matches since 2011 US Open… and playing an opponent he has beaten a thousand times. All those people who believe Nadal is the mentally toughest player of all will probably quickly forget that Nadal lost a double break advantage in the third set to a mentally weak player… and revisit the accolades showered on Nadal after he won Monte Carlo and Barcelona for the 8th and 7th times respectively. But here Nadal broke down mentally at the wrong time and, when it mattered most, he wasn’t able to raise his game despite having the confidence of winning lots of clay court tennis over the past month.

This is not about the blue clay since the conditions are the same for both players — Verdasco was whining like a child about the courts — and Nadal moves better than Verdasco on the blue clay.

(Btw, Nadal losing to Verdasco in his second match at Madrid is relatively worse than Federer losing to former No.1 and former US Open champion Andy Roddick in Miami, while Federer was distracted dealing with Nadal’s resignation from the ATP Player Council and with getting prize money raises for first early round losers and deadbeats in the Slams.)

with Nadal losing so early, Federer and Djokovic both know what a great opportunity this is to win the Madrid title. If Federer wins Madrid I think he may overtake Nadal in the rankings… but Roger’s clay court game from the Raonic match doesn’t look optimum for Madrid. In fact, it seems to me, with all the serve volleying, that he might have been partly preparing for the grass court season during his break. If that’s true, it would be a waste because I feel both Nadal and Djokovic are beatable in the clay season.


jamie Says:

On another forum someone posted this long prediction according to Chinese Astrology, he had gotten this prediction from a poster who had sent him a PM, apparently someone who studied Chinese Astrology.

___________________________________

This year is full of water. Djokovic is weak metal person, metal likes to hog limelight too. Water stress metal, this year he will be incredibly stressed to produce, i doubt there is any slam left in him as the water year starts at feb 4 2012(Chinese regard first day of year start at feb 4th). Last year is strong in metal which aided his weak metal.

For federer Earth person. Federer chart is dominated by metal(talent) with a bit of fire(resource), where fire is never going to burn his metal. The fire in his chart makes him think of funny skills which sometimes lead to his errors and downfall. Water destroy fire in 2012, I think he will follow plan strictly to play against opponent weakness this year. The water also means indirect wealth, he will get a lot of money from commercials this year. He receive some earth this year too which is his self element(he don’t need it). Competitor is as strong and gonna share the wealth with him. But this earth also make his metal stronger, he will rep up performance, hit bigger etc.

For nadal is alot of fire in chart. He is earth person too. Overpowering Fire produce earth which means mental strength and hardwork, this year water stop the fire. His hardwork dropped and mental shape is poorer. However his chance is summer apr, may and june, the period when water is weakest. But he cannot overplay this year, will cause injury easier due to weak mental and stubborn nature to fight(alot of earth, self elements). Also his output is always shortlived due to weaker wood in chart, not enough to fuel fire.

To conclude i think strongly nadal and federer take up the 3 slams. If Nadal don’t take W and RG in summer, he will miss his biggest chance in most fav period, somebody new will take. Either fed or murray. Also Fed is more dangerous player for Nadal than Djokovic this year. The fire weakened in Fed’s chart don’t have adverse effects, in fact better, more focused mentally.


racquet Says:

Get ready for the headlines. Nadal says he’ll skip Madrid next year if the surface remains. Ion Tiriac must be having a nightmare about now.


Mark Says:

Hey Skeez. Now don’t choke on it. Do be careful!!!


Sean Randall Says:

This tournament gets an asterisk. Murray must be thrilled to have passed it up. Meawhile, Djokovic is furious, Federer can’t play from the backcourt and Nadal suffers this loss which will be virtually meaningless if he wins Rome.

On Sunday someone is going to have a great opportunity to pick up some points, who will it be?


Sienna Says:

It has got nothing to do with blue clay. Nadal is out of shape. He beat Djoker but only because he was far and far away from the match they played. Ferrer came close to beat him a few weeks ago and no this? Against Fernando the choker. Verdasco has not put together a decent match in 3 years.
WOW Nadal is declining very hard.


Sean Randall Says:

And big win for local boy Verdasco who maybe can make deep a French Open run.


Brando Says:

@Jane:

Yep, im pretty CERTAIN rafa won’t let this loss bother him too much, that’s why i’m not disappointed at all really.

Sure he beat davydenko yesterday, BUT as i mentioned in my post after that match- davvy was EXTREMELY POOR in his play.

I think this could be a good loss for rafa infact.

- He’s had a loss on clay now this season- so people won’t be beating the invincible nadal drum now.

- He’s lost in conditions that MOST players recognise are NOWHERE near to what rome or RG will be like.

- He’s lost to a player who won’t really be a factor going forward.

It was pretty obvious that rafa was not going to win this tourny at all, so im content he lost to verdasco today as opposed to say del potro, federer or djokovic- guys who are title contenders on clay.

The ONLY thing is the ranking- BUT on clay i don’t think that shall affect rafa much at all.


Brando Says:

@Racquet:

EXCELLENT STUFF! this loss puts rafa in a GREAT position in order to skip madrid next year- he’ll only lose 90 points if he skips it!

Hope he NEVER plays madrid again.

Another POSITIVE for rafa!


Mark Says:

Rather Rafa lost to his countryman than the likes of Delpo, Choc Boy or Djoker. Am also relieved that he is out of this blue clay fiasco. Let the others break their limbs trying to cope with it!!


Kimberly Says:

WTF happened. Can’t believe Rafa could lose to Verdasco. However, perhaps it is a blessing in disguise.


skeezer Says:

Mark

lol :)..cough cough

Dave

“….while Federer was distracted dealing with Nadal’s resignation from the ATP Player Council”

You’re never going to let that go, are you? ;)

Don’t agree with the idea that Fed was distracted there. Its a weak excuse imo, unFed like, and where can you dig up and post a direct wrote from the Maestro that he said that?

Re; Confidence. You bring up the taboo here, where is the mans( rafa) confidence he had in 2010? If you replay that point at deuce and 5 all I believe he had plenty of time to hit his monster FH and he almost whiffed it, and chicken wing it so bad it had a hard time just reaching the bottom of the net. That, was all nerves, nothing else. He is usually BETTER in those moments, not weak. Anyways on to Italy for Rafa, he has won 5 times there ( although lost last year to Novak 4 & 4. ). Pressure is on imo for him, he needs to win RG or else.


Brando Says:

@Sean Randall:

AGREE with your post. This tourny is somewhat meaningless re RG.

Imagine if say one or both of federer/ djokovic were to lose tonight- that will be the end of madrid as clay tourny then!


Colin Says:

Ha!
Where are all those confident Rafanatics who said there was no way he wouldn’t win every match on clay this year?
Enjoying their crow pie I trust.
Jamie, there is quite enough woo-woo nonsense on the internet without bringing it into sports forums. Chinese astrology, for goodness sake! What next?


Dave Says:

racquet: “Instinctive serves? LOL. Don’t attempt to deflect, the subject was returning (as you’re well aware).”

As you’re well aware, you actually said “The notion that a coach would (tamper with) an area of a player’s game which is largely dependent on instinct is ludicrous.” In any case, it applies. There is an element to great serving that is instinctive, e.g., Federer at his best serves instinctively — picking the type and location of serves during his ball toss. Sampras was like that. When I saw him play in 2008, Djokovic had a little of that.


racquet Says:

@sean: “Murray must be thrilled to have passed it up”

Yep. Did you see his tweet from Rome this morning?


Sean Randall Says:

With Nadal out, Djokovic teetering what a chance to for Federer to pick up points here. If he’s hellbent on getting back to No. 1 he’s got to take advantage of this.


Brando Says:

@Kimberly and mark:

I think it is a blessing in disguise. THANKFULLY he won’t be at risk of injury now on this potentially dangerous surface.

Also it keeps him on the level knowing that he CAN and STILL MUST improve on the clay going forward.

BAR the ranking threat- i somewhat WELCOME this loss today!

P.S: Let the NAYSAYERS feast in this loss- it’s to be expected!


Aravind Says:

Sean, I think this could be the tournament when Delpo makes his move, as some of us have been waiting since he came back. Berdych is looking very strong, but Delpo just routinely beat him earlier this year. I think Delpo gets through Dolgopolov and has a 60-40 chance against Berdych. Hopefully this will bring him up to the top 8 where he rightfully belongs..


jane Says:

Brando “- He’s had a loss on clay now this season- so people won’t be beating the invincible nadal drum now.”

On the bright side, if I recall correctly, in 2008, another Olympic year, Rafa had an early loss on clay in Rome, also to a countryman (Ferrero) – and I remember because Nole won that year – but then he went on to win the FO, Wimbledon and the Olympics, in one of his best years ever. So yeah, don’t sweat it. If he loses early in Rome, that might be another issue. But right now, he’s okay as far as I can tell.

racquet, I think Delpo might have a good shot to win his first Masters Shield here. That might be a redeeming story for the blue clay. Or if Hotsauce or Ferrer win it all (unlikely) it would also be redeeming, since it would be another countryman.


jane Says:

racquet, can you post Murray’s tweet?


Brando Says:

@Jane: I AGREE with you there- i am also aware of the 2008 similarity.

I agree with you though that THIS could be delpo’s 1st MS win.

Because of the surface, movers like djokovic/ federer – IF he gets to the final and meets them- MAY not trouble him as much as say elsewhere.

HOPE delpo wins- then he is GUARANTEED top 8!


Kimberly Says:

Colin Says:
Ha!
Where are all those confident Rafanatics who said there was no way he wouldn’t win every match on clay this year
___________________

We are here. We just aren’t counting this as clay so we can continue to exist in our delusional bubble.

I think he will likely win Rome and almost certainly win Roland Garros. If he is at his best the others are not even in the same stratosphere on clay. If he loses RG then I will eat crow but not until. At Rome he is more vulnerable but the favorite still. RG to me he is a crushing favorite that only Del Potro, Djokovic and Federer even have a chance of beating.


Brando Says:

@Jane:

AM tweet: ”Seems like the players are enjoying the blue clay in madrid…. Arrived in rome and the red clay is playing horribly :-)”

He’s being sarcastic IMO :-)


Sean Randall Says:

racquet, I did not, what did he say?

Aravind, agreed. I’d love to see Delpo do well. Dolgopolov will be tough, though. But this surface should be to his liking.


racquet Says:

@Jane, here it is:

“Seems like the players are enjoying the blue clay in madrid…. Arrived in rome and the red clay is playing horribly :-)”

Shows his wry sense of humor.


jane Says:

My Italian neightbour is pressure washing again – IN THE SAME SPOT where he pressure washed for 3 hours yesterday. Maybe he is a nervous Fed fan. Nah. My husband said his kids just gave him this thing as a gift, which explains the unbridled enthusiasm. Sheesh though. It’s literally driving me mad. The neighbours on the other side apparently complained because their baby couldn’t nap. But he’s a very sensitive man; I suspect this may even be revenge pressure washing for that complaint. Sigh….


Aravind Says:

Jane, 2008 was four years ago. By that logic, Roger should’ve never lost to Del Potro in the US open given the history in US open. Rafa and Roger are both seemingly in the slow but gradual descent(Roger more than Rafa). It is telling that Rafa has gone from a dominant number one in the game to running the risk of losing his 2nd rank to a player nearly 31 years old. Whichever way you look, Rafa is simply not piling up tournament wins as in his heydays. It could all change suddenly, but not because it fits the pattern of 4 years ago..


Polo Says:

Colin, I may be the one you were referring to. I alluded to Nadal probably winning all his clay tournaments this year. I posted early that I was wrong. By the way, I am not a “Rafanatic”. I like Federer better but I am not one to disregard the talents of other players, especially one named Nadal.


the mind reels Says:

People generally reading way too much into a Nadal loss on clay, I think.

Yes, he lost. Does it matter? Sure — he risks losing the #2 spot now (though it’s not certain to happen). Is it somehow indicative of how the rest of the year will play out? Maybe. We’ll probably just have to watch the rest of the year and see.

Only the destiny diehards will compare past years where Nadal lost a match on clay early and then superimpose the rest of that year’s results on the remainder of this year. Things change, year to year — that’s the fun of watching any sport. Nadal isn’t the same guy he was last year…neither is Djokovic and neither is Federer. This all makes for intrigue, I think, so sit back and enjoy.

Also, bummer for Nadal fans, but I’m glad to see that Federer is taking it to Gasquet at the moment.


Kimberly Says:

Federer serve looks really sharp. Also commentators said most balls must look like they are in slow motion compared to raonic’s yesterday and Federer just eating them up.


jane Says:

racquet – definitely Murray’s sense of humour there. :)


the mind reels Says:

I’m streaming this match and so can’t really tell: is it windy out there or does it just look like the pace of their shots is slower on this feed?


Aravind Says:

After yesterday’s match, this match between Federer and gasquet seems to be like in slow motion!! LOL!! What a force the Raonic serve is!


jamie Says:

@Colin

Vedic Astrology. :)


jane Says:

Aravind and the_mind_reels, I take your point about the four-years-ago comparison I made. But I was only trying to indicate that an early loss on clay isn’t a death knell or even necessarily a sign of any decline. What I was trying to point out is that he’s lost early on clay before and has regrouped very well. That’s all. Of course I am not suggesting he’s going to turn around and repeat those same results exactly as he had that same year! I’m just trying to put some perspective on it is all – feasibly, he could continue to lose (unlikely though in my opinion) and he could win everything in sight. We just don’t know.


the mind reels Says:

@jane: all fair — I agree that it’s certainly not a death knell for Nadal. Perspective can be lacking sometimes among us fans (as we all know…), so I appreciate your attempt at it!


Rita Says:

I cant understand why the stream for the Fed match isn’t working!

My bloody luck.

Dammit!!!!!!!!!!!!


Aravind Says:

Jane, this loss does not make Rafa anything less than a favorite all of a sudden. But now the Rome tournament becomes very important. If Rafa does not win there, he will have total loss of momentum coming into the French open. An early match against a Raonic or Isner could be very dangerous if that were to happen. I think that there are a few players that can hurt Rafa now, especially in the early rounds. It was not the case for the last few years..


jane Says:

“But now the Rome tournament becomes very important.” I agree Aravind.


El Flaco Says:

It’s still a long shot for Fed to hold #2 before the French, but if he wins here I think he will get it temporarily, but if Nadal wins Rome Fed will have to make the final in order to stay at #2. If Fed and Nadal are on the same side of the draw in Rome then Fed would have to beat him in the semi to stay at #2. If Nadal loses early in Rome then Fed could back into the #2, but that is unlikely. This of course is all predicated on Fed winning in Madrid first.


El Flaco Says:

This surface is like playing on a very dry Har-Tru court in the USA. It’s almost like compacted earth with a thin layer of sand on top.


Dave Says:

Sean: Murray (who claimed to be coincidentally injured) passed up Madrid probably on Lendl’s advice to build his momentum on the red clay.

Federer is playing and moving well enough from the backcourt against Gasquet, considering this is just his second match in six weeks.

The winner on Sunday will be the smart player who has learned to love the blue clay and treat it as a good friend… instead of whining about it.


Rita Says:

LOL

Federer started his match one and a half hours later then Ferrer vs Almagro

Yet he finishes first!

Awesome.


Aravind Says:

Federer will like the fact that the Almagro Ferrer match is going on for so long.. He will be nicely rested.. This is a great opportunity for him to pile up some points.. How is Djokovic going to play today?! I think Federer has a decent chance against Djokovic on this surface..


Humble Rafa Says:

Let’s make this very clear. Apparently some folks are still informed.

The Arrogant One can’t return big servers. In the last few years, he lost to The Tall Dude (Ivo “Tall”ovic). Mohamed Ali, Mr. Brooklyn Decker..the list goes on. If you have a monster serving day, the Arrogant One will cave in.


Brando Says:

Rafael Nadal post match reaction:

“I never was in control of the match, I didn’t know how to win a point,” said Nadal

“Movement is very important for me and I couldn’t move.
“I couldn’t hit ball the way I wanted. I lost because I deserved to lose.”

“I couldn’t close out the match at 5-2. He played better than me,”

“The ATP and the tournament can do what they want, I tried my best, I’ve trained here since Thursday. I was as prepared as I could be.
“I was not good enough to adapt my game to this court. If things continue like this, it will be very sad.
“Next year this will be one less event for my calendar.”

IMHO- a very fair and honest assessment there for rafa. Read it as how you want, BUT this rafa poster is GLAD and HAPPY that madrid will not be on his calendar next year!


Dave Says:

jane: your convoluted explanation to tie “instinctual” with “gift” is… convoluted :) Not all instincts are gifts, just as not all gifts are instincts. You may be interpreting Vadja’s comments to mean gift = instinct, but Vadja may not be referring to instinct when he refers to Djokovic’s returns as a gift. In fact, in explaining Djokovic’s returns as a gift, Vadja elaborated that it was very precise and is a weapon. He never once alluded to the instinctual aspects of the return, e.g., reacting and hitting tough serves.

****

skeezer: ‘Dave “….while Federer was distracted dealing with Nadal’s resignation from the ATP Player Council” You’re never going to let that go, are you? ;) Don’t agree with the idea that Fed was distracted there. Its a weak excuse imo, unFed like, and where can you dig up and post a direct wrote from the Maestro that he said that?’

Do you have any actual high-level management or executive committee experience in your career? Most who do would understand where I was coming from. When you wear a lot of hats simultaneously, these different activities can distract you, especially when a significant situation arises, e.g., vice-president’s resignation and the work Federer was doing to get prize money increases at that time (these things gobble up your time and attention). Federer is only human.

Federer rarely talks about his Player Council work — and he has never spoken publicly even about Nadal’s resignation… which was odd for a president given Nadal’s publicity about it… but logical when we consider that he wanted to downplay it in the news media. So if he never spoke about Nadal’s resignation how could he have mentioned whether or not it affected him?

Let’s use your logic on you: can you dig up and post a direct quote from the Maestro that he said that Nadal’s resignation never affected his match? In any case, you don’t know Federer enough to claim it was “unFed like” :)

Federer’s level was clearly down in his matches against Harrison and Roddick from where he was just a few days earlier in a Masters tournament he played while recovering from the flu. It is likely that certain factors clearly affected his play, and it is certainly plausible that NAdal’s resignation was a major factor.


the mind reels Says:

@HR: haha, very insightful. Many, including the best, lose to big servers on a monster serving day. That’s why it’s a monster serving day…

I’m thinking about Djokovic vs. Isner (this year), Nadal losing back-to-back to Ljubicic and Roddick in 2010, etc. It happens.


the mind reels Says:

Pretty sure Raonic had a monster serving day yesterday. Guess Fed forgot to cave.


Dave Says:

Humble Rafa: “Let’s make this very clear. Apparently some folks are still informed. The Arrogant One can’t return big servers. In the last few years, he lost to The Tall Dude (Ivo “Tall”ovic).”

One little 7-6(6), 4-6, 7-6(5) loss at 2008 Cincinnati to Ivo Karlovic who won just 48% of the total points (and won 76% of his serve points compared to Federer who 82% of his serve points)… in Federer’s mononucleosis and bad back injury year in 2008 and after losing that epic Wimbledon final… doesn’t count :) Federer had come to Cincinnati after losing his first match at Toronto.


racquet Says:

Nail-biting finish to the Ferrer/Almagro match.


Dave Says:

Nadal’s threat to boycott Madrid next year (“Next year this will be one less event for my calendar”) should be taken seriously by the ATP. Not only should Nadal be fined for not showing up, he should be suspended from competing in the next two tournaments that are Masters or Slams. Then he will show up. The conditions are the same for everybody, and Nadal moved and played well yesterday. Such selfish behavior should not be tolerated.

Players should stop using the blue clay as the excuse for their loss. They should learn from John Isner:

‘Isner refused to blame his defeat on the court, saying he had been beaten by the superior player on the day. “I lost because I didn’t do what I should have done out there and he was better than me,” Isner told a news conference. “I always felt that this tournament even with the red clay was the most slippery I’ve ever played on,” added the 27-year-old. “It’s tough for a big guy like me but my opponent was also a big guy and, like I said, he was just better and deserved to win and I did not deserve to win. I just didn’t play particularly well today which has nothing to do with the courts.” ‘


Mark Says:

Ferrer beats Almagro saving 4 match points!! Go Daveed!!


Sean Randall Says:

Heck of a win for Ferrer who gets Federer next.

Roger can return to No. 2 in the rankings by winning the tournament. Ferrer is going to be awfully tough, though.

And Wawrinka has a real chance here to upend Djokovic.


Rita Says:

I think Fed should handle Ferrer easily.

Just my gut feeling, not to mention his ridiculous record against Ferrer 12-0. Also Ferrer will be more tired after that 3hour battle, while Fed will be fresh as a daisy me thinks…yum yum.


Brando Says:

@Sean:

EVERYTHING seems to suggest otherwise, re ferrer troubling federer!

roger is the HEAVY fav in that one!

meanwhile nole seems at ease today!


racquet Says:

Nole slips twice and looks irked already…and it’s only the 4th game.


jane Says:

GIFT: “a special ability or capacity; natural endowment; talent: the gift of saying the right thing at the right time.”

INSTINCT: “a natural aptitude or gift: an instinct for making money.”

These are dictionary definitions Dave – there is nothing convoluted about making an interpretive a link between the two.

You say: “He never once alluded to the instinctual aspects of the return, ”

But interestingly he was talking about how much they worked on his serve, his forehand; they “worked on the topspin to his backhand” and how this helped against Nadal, but then the interviewer switches the subject to the return, and Vajda switches from talking about what they worked on to saying it’s Nole’s “gift.”

The interviewer: “Yesterday he make 11 breaks”

Vajda: “Ah, that’s his gift, return, unbelievable”

Interviewer: “yeah”

Vajda “I mean every return is like this [holds hands about 12 inches apart], Nadal put everything, what he could, best effort…”

interviewer: “yeah”

Vajda: “but he just put the return like this [still holding hands about 12 inches apart] close to the baseline. That’s his best, that’s his best for sure best weapon, the return of everything (or every serve)”

As I say, I interpret Vajda as meaning that this shot comes naturally to Nole, it’s his “gift” – and the dictionary shows that there is a link between gift and instinct.

This article implies that Vajda says Nole’s return is instinctual, but unfortunately the quotation mark ends but doesn’t clearly indicate where the quote begins.

Another advantage of the world’s number one is his serve return. In the first five months of 2011, he managed to win 59% of the points played on the second serve of his opponents, and this resulted the 72% of the break hits. His return ace is certainly one of the best in the world, said Vajda. It has an excellent depth, both at the first and at the second shot of his opponents. Moreover, Novak has great reactions, when the serve comes with a speed of 240 km / h, you have less than half a second to intercept it. What he’s doing is adjusting and shorting his backswing in a very, very short time. Sometimes the ball returns back even faster than before. This cannot be learnt. It is a gift that either you have or not”.

From an article called “the secrets behind novak djokovic’s success”


racquet Says:

jane, you have the patience of a saint.


jane Says:

LOL racquet. I don’t know about that. I am ready to kill my neighbour over pressure washing rage. Maybe I am sublimating?


Sean Randall Says:

Dave, if we had an award for most imaginative posts you’re the hands down champ. No competition. In fact, if we had that award we would have to name it after you.

“The 2012 Tennis-X Dave Imaginative Post Award goes to… NadalFan… for his 5,316 word post in which he claimed Smurfs really do exist and Madrid was just the start of their planned world domination.”


Brando Says:

@sean: LMFAO re Dave imaginative post:-)


Sean Randall Says:

Brando/Rita, I don’t see it being that easy. Roger’s going to have to hit a lot of balls because Ferrer’s going to make him work.

And we’ve seen streaks end. Verdasco finally beat Nadal. Almagro was that close to getting a first win over Ferrer today (had 3 matchpoints). So something might be in the air (or on the ground – ha).


racquet Says:

Imagination is the key word.


racquet Says:

Interesting stuff from Federer’s presser:

“It’s a tough surface & Rafa was against from the start as was I”

The journo who tweeted it also says that Federer is still not 100% certain to play Rome!! What?? Anyone know why?


skeezer Says:

Why would Rafa say he is nor playing Madrid? Its a 1000. Lots of what ifs here. What if missing next year this hurts his point chances for ranking? Not a good attitude to take or say. For sure a spat at the ATP. So should we start making courts just for Rafa’s style of play?


nadalista Says:

@Dave, before you get your knickers in a twist at the thought of not seeing Rafa at Madrid next year, read up on the ATP rules. Better still, I will help you out:

You see, Rafa is allowed to skip one Masters event as he has already played more than 600 matches in the main tour. After 2013, he’s able to skip two Masters, as he’ll be more than twelve years on the ATP tours.

So, his “threat” to miss Madrid next year, is ehm, a right, not a threat…………

You need to get that Vamos Syndrome checked out………..


racquet Says:

@nadalista, I think that’s correct. Isn’t that how Federer was able to skip Shanghai last year?


jane Says:

racquet, where did you find Fed’s presser? I couldn’t see it anywhere.

Nole just let set points go begging – ugh.


chofer Says:

I have the perfect title for next Sunday’s winner (whomever it is: “Master of the Blues”


racquet Says:

jane, I’m just reading tidbits from a journalist who is tweeting live from it. And btw, Gasquet called the court a “skating rink”.

What is up with Nole missing 2 set points?


nadalista Says:

@skeezer,

It may be a Masters 1000 but it will only be a Masters 80 for Rafa! That’s the number of points he will be defending……….I do not think he will be bending himself out of shame wondering whether to appear at a tournament he clearly detests to defend 80 points!


skeezer Says:

“You need to get that Vamos Syndrome checked out………..”

Hecka funny :-)


jane Says:

Gasquet, lol. racquet, horrible from Nole to miss those chances. :/


alison hodge Says:

Yeah congrats to Verdasco,he was a deserved winner,sounds like Rafas took it on the chin and is ready to move on to Rome,as a fan im not too bothered either,my expectations were not that high to begin with,im some what relieved to be honest,Brando Ditto i could not more.


the mind reels Says:

Djokovic gets the mini-break from Wawrinka in the tiebreaker but then gifts it back with a DF.


alison hodge Says:

^could not agree more^.


skeezer Says:

nadalista,

Ok got the 80 points defending, but how many points would he get if he played and won next year?

I find it hard to beleive that there won’t be some change to help the slipperiness next year. Get used to the Blue though, its here to stay.


Humble Rafa Says:

I would eat grass rather than play on blue court. I looked at my socks and it was blue. I puked.


Brando Says:

Nole wins 1st set…. BUT more UE to winners, and in the 40s second serve points won %.

methinks he’ll win today, most likely meet federer in SF.

Federer will probably win this now.


jane Says:

Nole had so many chances to put that set away before he finally did. Let a number of break points go, and then lost two mini breaks in the tiebreak prior to closing it out – eventually!


racquet Says:

Ouch! Nole takes a tumble.


Mark Says:

Hey Skeez. How about a wager that Madrid returns to the proper red stuff next year??


jane Says:

Come on Nole! Keep the focus now.


nadalista Says:

@skeezer,

1. Rafa coming back to Madrid and winning the tourny is a big if, not going to happen imho. Madrid has always been a big ask for Rafa, with or without the blue clay. So, I would strike that out, Rafa is not going to come back and win Madrid next year.

2. The beauty of the ATP points system is that it is about what you defend, not so much what you gain.

3. By losing today at the point he did, Rafa lost points this year, but it presents him with a perfect opportunity to miss Madrid next year. Madrid is tyhe wrong tourny at the wrong time in terms of preps for RG, Rafa’s better off wiping it off his calendar because RG is THE focus for him. Madrid just messes up his preps.

4. Madrid will not change its colour, Rafa is not coming back, simple as.

So, Madrid will be the “clay” tournament where the best clay courter ever does not play………seriously?


jane Says:

Nole is serving very well today; however, it is concerning that he has managed to convert only 1 of 8 break point chances thus far; usually he is strong in that category. Let’s see if he converts one of these next two for a double break.


racquet Says:

You jinxed him ;)


jane Says:

Well Nole converts his break point but then gets broken for the first time. Patterns are made to be broken I guess.


jane Says:

racquet, or I suppose it could’ve been me. : ?


racquet Says:

Well you can rest easy now, he closes it out at the 2nd time of asking. He still doesn’t seem 100%. It’ll be interesting to see what he says in his presser this time.


Brando Says:

nole won finally.

so so performance really. Got broken once and only converted 2/10 BPs.

agree with racquet- still not 100%.

fed should get to the final imho.


steve-o Says:

“So, Madrid will be the “clay” tournament where the best clay courter ever does not play………seriously?”

Um, yeah. Contrary to what Nadal and many of his fans believe, the world does not, in fact, revolve around him and his whims.

If Nadal thinks boycotting Madrid will bring the tournament to a screeching halt, he’s wrong.

It will continue, fans will come and be entertained. Federer, Djokovic, Del Potro will all provide plenty of enjoyable tennis to watch. New champions will be crowned in Madrid. The earth will continue to turn and the sun will continue to rise and set. I know that will come as a shock to Nadal, but he is not the center of the universe.

The Williams sisters have never played IW since 2003–and their grievances are much more serious than a mere dislike of the court surface. Yet IW has gone on. And so too will Madrid.


jane Says:

racquet, I am glad he’s through. It would be good if he could get to the semifinals anyhow, although he would probably lose to Fed on this fast surface. I thought his serve was, overall, quite impressive. And actually, after he tumbled, it seemed like he was playing a little more freely, moving better.


racquet Says:

It won’t bring the tournament to a halt but I’d be willing to bet the surface changes back.


nadalista Says:

@steve-o,

Relax, dude, relax………….seriously.


Rita Says:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAEK8nl9njQ&feature=relmfu

The only highlights I could find of the Nadal vs Verdasco Match.

Check out the missed smash at 10:45

This is what I think cost Nadal the match


Rita Says:

Or better said, crushed his confidence to the point of no return.


Sean Randall Says:

Racquet, I think it’s safe to say the tournament “blue it”.

After all the complaints already this week (Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, Azarenka) the tournament will be red next year. I can’t imagine the ATP letting Madrid get another go with the blue unless it moved to a different spot in the calendar.

I agree it looks nicer on TV but was there that much outrage over how the red looked on the tube? I don’t think there’s enough (if any) to outweigh the problems experienced this week.


Kimberly Says:

losing sucks. Although this tourney will do nothing to prepare for RG it still sucks.


the mind reels Says:

@nadalista: I neither know steve-o nor am really endorsing him here, but I don’t think he’s being anymore expressive than you are.

Nadal lost early (which upset him), apparently never felt very comfortable out there (probably also upsetting), and, from what I saw, just wasn’t hitting routine balls very well either (upsetting, but not because of the surface — just general “I’m not playing that well” sadness). Then, he says he won’t return if they don’t change the surface. It’s not clear to me if he’s just cluing us into his schedule for 2013 or if he’s threatening the tournament. If the latter, I think it’s a reckless statement. Just because he’s the greatest clay-court player of all time doesn’t mean the tournament should change to perfectly suit him, his game, or his RG preparation. There are other guys out there moving and playing better tennis this week — so it will be their week, which is how this works.

I wonder if he’ll wish he hadn’t made such a statement this time next year if everyone else has signed up to play Madrid and he’s the lone one out?


racquet Says:

@Sean, yep. I agree.


Brando Says:

@the mind reels:

I honestly don’t think nadal-just like any other top pro- would care what the others do.

Madrid masters is supposedly a clay tourny. IF nadal feels it disrupts his preparation for RG- then skipping it makes sense.

He’s played here on clay on 4 occassions now- he’s 1/4 for the win.

there is NO POINT for him to play next year, IF he feels it’s not worth it.

Just like murray who has skipped it this year, like djokovic who skipped MC last year and federer with shanghai.

IF you think its not worth- don’t turn up.


Dave Says:

Sean, Sean, Sean. When you look in your mirror you probably imagine seeing Brad Pitt, don’t you?
Since Humble is my middle name and Modesty my last name, your award would not sound so appealing. Really, which imaginative poster would be caught dead with a Dave Humble Modesty Imaginative Post Award? Now the Sean Randall Immaginative Post Award sounds much more appealing.
I even feel, in all humility, that you deserve the first award. After all, the most imaginatively imaginative post on Tennis-X has to be your post that claimed the ATP Toilet/Bathroom Break rule – which was changed from ‘changeovers within a set’ to ‘set breaks at end of set’ (to stop players who abuse the rule to disrupt their match when they’re losing) — still allows a player to take toilet breaks on changeovers within sets!
Your truly,
Dave Humble Modesty
the fount of humility and truth :)


skeezer Says:

the mind reels

Was going write that, good post.

Sean

I wouldn’t be surprised if a compromise comes out. The main issue here is not the color ( Rafa just doesn’t like the color Blue ) but the consensus is the court being slippery.
Everyone has to play on it so fair is fair for this year. The better players are still winning. But if Tiriac can’t get rid of that component it he’s in trouble. If he does fix it by chance, he should pay the top players to come hit on it several months before to get there ok.

Besides, I mean what if they change it to red again and it is still this slippery?


steve-o Says:

@nadalista: I’m quite relaxed, thank you. It’s Nadal (and yourself) who are predicting and/or promising hellfire, brimstone, and damnation for Madrid if they don’t straighten up and fly right according to the Book of Nadal.

I’m just pointing out that the world won’t stop turning merely because Nadal doesn’t like the courts at Madrid. If the tournament decides to continue with the blue courts–and I think there is a chance they will–plenty of top players will play.

Do you think Del Potro, for instance, will pass up the chance to win a clay Masters in Nadal’s absence, just because the surface isn’t to everyone’s liking? Hell no.

It’s a highly competitive sport and points and titles are more precious than gold. If Nadal doesn’t want to adapt his game to the surface, others will in order to reap the rewards. And plenty of fans will pay to see it and they will enjoy it.


racquet Says:

Whoa…apparently Nole just said in his presser that he will follow Nadal’s lead and boycott Madrid next year if the courts stay blue.


Kimberly Says:

Steve-o–why do you think Murray isn’t there? he’s happily hitting on red clay in rome!Because it sucks and can hardly be classified as a clay court tournament. Clearly Nadal does not feel confortable there.

The people who have been grinding their teeth at Nadals wins the past few weeks are relishing the moment. But even Federer says its playing like a fast indoor court.

Did I mention losing sucks.


Kimberly Says:

I’m off to play a mixed dubs match for a tourney. I’m going to try to take Nadal’s match as a cause to be pissed off and open up a can of whoop ass!


mat4 Says:

Hi.

Strange day in Madrid.

I didn’t manage to watch Rafa, but I saw the end of Almagro-Ferrer, some Federer-Gasquet, and watched Novak against Stan.

Some great tennis, some strange tennis also.


the mind reels Says:

@Brando: I hear what you’re saying, but it seems like a weak mentality to me.

Federer is 1/13 at the French Open. Do most people give him a shot to win it each year? Not really. Does that mean he shouldn’t play because it’s somehow not worth it? No. Even though he loses virtually every year, he still thinks it’s worth it…because you can’t expect to win if you don’t even give yourself a shot.

As for the other guys you mentioned who’ve skipped, none of those is a fair comparison. All three *withdrew* (which is different from skipping) due to injury. And they all apologized about having to do so. Stating one year out that you’ll flat-out skip (and probably not apologize, though who knows) seems like another thing to me. Maybe he’ll have an injury to fall back on anyway, though.


jane Says:

Hi mat4! Say more please. Tell me what you thought of Novak today.


mat4 Says:

Hi, jane.

I have the impression he served quite well. But everybody serves well, and I manage to see the speed of the serve just a few times, but almost always – it could be just a coincidence – it was over 200 km/h. As usual, he lost some precision after the first set, but Stan couldn’t control the returns. I don’t know how to gauge it – it could be the effect of the blue clay, whatever it is.

He couldn’t move well. I read somewhere (just remembered, Cheryl Murray on tennistalk) that in his first match he looked like Jerry, when he tries to run away from Tom but Tom got his tail, and it is obvious that it is very difficult to change direction on this surface, and Stan used it well, wrong footing Novak often.

He won the match with his serve and return. His CC BH works well, he can flatten it at will, but he still has problems with the FH. In the rallies, I have the impression that Wawrinka was not inferior, except at the beginning of the second set, when his game – his serve especially – just crumbled.

It seems that the courts are to slippery, and it gives an almost obvious advantage to power players.


van orten Says:

so nadal will skip tournaments from now on if they are played on fast courts`’????? bring back more fast courts and nadal will be done we all know that


El Flaco Says:

First time Tipsarevic has beat Simon.


racquet Says:

@van orten – It’s not because they’re fast. And Djokovic has just joined him and said he won’t return to Madrid unless the event returns to traditional clay.

Seems like a done deal now. No way Tiriac is going to risk losing Nadal AND Djokovic.


steve-o Says:

@Kimberly: Murray pulled out of Madrid with a back injury. Maybe his true motives were what you suggest, but that’s the reason he gave. However, it would have been hard for Murray to know what the surface played like since it’s totally new.

I can imagine the firestorm that would ensue if Federer ever suggested that he would boycott a tournament just because he lost early, and insisted that it interfered with his tournament prep. He would be burned at the stake and accused of lousy sportsmanship–with some justification. So as far as I’m concerned, Nadal is getting off very easy here.

Federer opposed the change, but once he had to play on the blue clay he didn’t complain. As a player his job is to adapt to the conditions and that’s what he’s doing. He may or may not win, but if he loses he won’t threaten to quit.


Sean Randall Says:

Skeeze, now that would funny. When (not if) the tournament changes back to red next year the courts stay that slickery. Ha!


Andrea Says:

Nothing like a nadal loss on clay for everyone to go into overdrive on this site. Haven’t watched the match but it is very rare for nadal to give up, what was no doubt in everyone’s mind, a match ending lead in the third set. Congrats to verdasco. Always felt he shoulda won that Aussie open semi….small change winning over nadal here, but for a mental sport, that win might do wonders for him.


Kimberly Says:

Mixed dubs match canceled. Rained out. Now I drank all this caffeine and had a tablespoon of raw bee pollen, hired a babysitter and now its off. I can stay here and bitch about Rafa and watch the Bulls hopefully be eliminated or leave my husband with kids and go to the gym and try to release this. Maybe troll the Knicks, Bulls and Celtics blogs looking for love. Btw, was at the AAA for the Heat game last night. Awesome.

Off to the gym.


alison hodge Says:

Andrea i agree he should have won that AO semi in 09,maybe he was due,scant consolation i suppose,it would be great to see him back up this win and carry some momentum going forward,the forehands great when its clicking,he just seems to lack concistency,id love to see him beat Berdych tomorrow,although i love Ferrer,i always thought Nando had more talent,and was the best spanish player behind Rafa IMO.


racquet Says:

To all the Fed fans who think he’s staying silent, I just saw this Federer quote from Matt Cronin:

“We never felt comfortable on the surface, it is a tough surface and that only makes you angry even more.”

And it seems the boycott threat is official:

Nadal, Djokovic threaten to boycott Madrid clay

(Reuters) – The Madrid Open was in danger of losing two of its star attractions for next year’s edition after Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic said they would boycott the Masters event unless organizers ditched the controversial blue clay courts.

http://tinyurl.com/csmu5ne


Rita Says:

I like this comment

If you are up 5-2 in decider… and blew it against a player who never won against you. It is not the surface fault for godsake.

If you need a real reason please! please! look in the mirror.


alison hodge Says:

LOL Kimberly your not taking Rafas defeat too well,i think you need to go to the gym,and chanel away some of that frustration,he lost but its like you say hes still the fav in most clay court tournies he plays,so i dont think he will loose that much sleep over this loss,he will chalk this down to a bad day at the office,wipe the slate clean and move on to Rome.


grendel Says:

Sean – “Almagro was that close to getting a first win over Ferrer today (had 3 matchpoints). ”

Close on paper, but not (imo) in reality. On one of the match points, he delivered an absurdly bad 1st serve, I mean it was miles out. And at the beginning of the tie break, his serving had been spot on. The second serve was oh so tentative, the guy was as tight as a nun’s banoona. Ferrer didn’t particularly punish this 2nd serve however and Almagro, who had been hitting like a dream, was in a position to take the iniative. Instead of which, he tamely plonked the ball back, Ferrer said “thanks very much, guv” and dispatched it out of sight. Personally, I discounted any possibility of Almagro winning from that moment. It’s a great shame, he was in spanking form, I’ve never seen a single handed back hand hit with such venom, but to beat Ferrer, a great game is not enough. You’ve got to believe.

It seems centuries ago now, but Tsonga/Dolgopolov was very enjoyable. It’s amazing how Dolgo will continue to go for his outrageous shots at critical moments even after he has just been punished. At the handshake, Tsonga warmly congratulated Dolgo – it’s clear they both enjoyed themselves, not least because a maverick seldom gets a chance to play another maverick. Dolgopolov will probably never win a slam – although with his amazing talent, you can’t rule him out. But I really don’t think that means he will retire underachieved. He will have given tremendous pleasure to a lot of folk. Not a bad legacy.

I caught a little of Djoko/WaWa. I don’t know what it about Wawrinka, but something about his game sends me to the off switch. Don’t dispute his ability. Anyway, in the very little I saw, Djokovic’s serve seemed amazing. I’m no Djoko expert, but I remember his being a formidable server some years ago. Recently, it’s been struggling around B- (though every now and then you get tantalising glimpses of just how good it could be)that is, better than mediocre, almost good. I wonder if today is a turning point.


Fot Says:

Sean said: “This tournament gets an asterist”. I disagree. The playing field was/is the same for BOTH players. And since it’s the same, shouldn’t the ‘better’ player be able to take advantage since he’s the “better player”? It wasn’t like Verdasco was playing on a non-slippery court on his half, and Nadal was playing on a more slippery court when he hit the ball…

Heck, didn’t we just have a tournament where about 4-5 players had to retire due to rolling over on their ankles on the surface? Now maybe that tournament should have gotten an asteris! Or what about the tournaments where the top seeds all lose early…should we give that tournament an asteris too?

It is what it is….the player who adapts better and plays the best tennis will win. Nadal should have been that player since he’s the best on clay. But instead, he’s too busy complaining. So if he ‘boycotts’ this tournament next year, then he’ll have to make sure he plays the other Master events, right? You know…the ones later in the year on hard indoor carpet? – Oh…since he doesn’t like that surface, maybe he’ll boycott those too. Nadal better be glad the Olympics decided to play tennis at Wimbledon instead of in the indoor arena where the year-end is held! (who knows…since he doesn’t like that surface, he could have ‘boycotted’ the Olympics too!) lol!


mat4 Says:

@Grendel:

I noticed it too: Almagro was gradually fading in the breaker. I hoped that that brilliant BH for 5-3 would give him enough adrenaline to finish the match, but it eventually was just an illusion.


mat4 Says:

@Grendel:

About Novak’s serve:

I can’t confirm it, but I also have the impression that he is getting back where he once was.

I speak from memories, but in 2007 he often served above 205 km/h, and his second serve was delirious. Then, everything changed with the new racquet.

I had the impression that he is working hard on his serve since the AO, but some changes need time. Today, I thought that it was the surface – and I don’t think that Stan has a great return, but when I had glimpses at the speed, it was almost always above 200 km/h again. Unfortunately, it was impossible to see the speed of serve most of the time, so I am not sure.


steve-o Says:

@racquet: But where does Djokovic suggest he will refuse to play if they keep the courts they way they are now?

“They are saying it’s exactly the same as the red clay which is not true because there is a big difference,” the Serb said.

“You are tripping and slipping and sliding all the time and winner will be the one who doesn’t get hurt until the end of the week because a lot of players fell down,” he added.

“Generally it’s a new experience and the way it looks this year hopefully the last experience.”

Nothing about not playing in the tournament next year. Same with Federer–he’s critical of the blue clay but he’s not threatening to quit if they don’t switch it back to the old surface.

The only one who’s suggested a boycott is Nadal.

A lot of people, including some Nadalites and the media, seem to be suggesting that there is a huge groundswell of player support for some kind of mass player action against the tournament if they don’t change the surface back. That Nadal’s opinion is a majority opinion.

I just don’t think that’s so. True, there’s a lot of griping–but people always gripe about new things, and griping is a long way from organized, systematic action.

Weird surface or not, it’s still a Masters 1000. There is every incentive for top players–who, after all, are very competitive and always looking for an edge–to adapt their game to handle Madrid. And Djokovic may grumble today, but he would really like to be #1, so he will play on this year and probably next year too.

It’s one thing if players are falling and breaking their neck, but that hasn’t happened (knock on wood). It’s just slippery and unfamiliar, not unsafe, despite Djokovic’s hyperbole.

As Fot points out, if Nadal boycotts, he’s cutting off his nose to spite his face, as the vast majority of his points come from the clay season. If he skips Madrid that’s a potential 1000 point loss which he has to make up from somewhere if he wants to stay at the top.

He’s not had great results in the pre-USO hard court Masters nor in the fall hard-court Masters. So where is he going to make up the slack? Aside from the majors, he already relies on IW/Miami for most of his hard-court points.

His fans always say he needs to cut down on his schedule–even though he’s played the same number of tournaments for the past three years. If he skips a clay Masters he will have to play a couple smaller tournaments to make up the difference. That means either a more packed clay season where he plays Estoril plus some other tournament on top of Barcelona, or more hard court tournaments sprinkled throughout his schedule.

In the end, the tour can’t be changed to suit the needs of one player. There is always going to be someone who is unhappy, you can only do the best you can.


sheila Says:

well, imho, verdasco should be beating nadal. he has the weapons, but not the mental tuffness. berdych is another one who should be beating nadal. nadals a gr8 player, but verdasco & berdych r two players who have huge weapons, but do not have the heart of a champion. ferrer has the heart of a champion & he always tries his best w/nadal, but he doesnt have the physical weapons. i was totally totally totally blown that nadal was broken 3x in a row by verdasco. i say mazel tov to verdasco now if he keeps believing maybe he can be more competitive against nadal. i also dont think this loss will affect nadal in the least in rome or fo. i’m still predicting him to win fo & wimbledon although my heart is w/federer


racquet Says:

@steve-o – “But where does Djokovic suggest he will refuse to play if they keep the courts they way they are now?”

Sorry about that, wrong link. It’s quoted in a fox sports piece:

“Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who beat Stan Wawrinka 7-6, 6-4 under lights, piled more pressure on the tournament organizers when, answering a question about if he would do the same as Nadal and not play next year if the court is not changed, he replied: “Yes, the same. ”

http://tinyurl.com/c33u28c


Wog boy Says:

Since I will not be able to watch it this afternoon, I did it again… I recorded WTA instead of ATP, I am more interested in Novak’s body language during the match, can objective posters tell me more about that aspect of Nole’s game, please!
About Nole’s return game, Jelena Gencic said few years back that he has that split second reaction just before the ball flies from the opisition serve that gives him advantage, he always had that since she started to coach him and that is in him.


Wog boy Says:

“opposition”


jane Says:

mat4 I thought Nole’s serve looked good today, placement and speed. But mainly his first serve. His second serve is attackable and was attacked by GT and a little by Stan too. Also he doesn’t seem to be converting break points quite as well as he’s done in the past, imo.

By the article racquet posted it appears the colour of the court DOES matter, because they have to strip something out of it before it can be dyed blue which changes the texture and thus the surface itself.

As steve-o says, it doesn’t appear from those quotes that Nole is going to boycott the event. He is just frustrated. But so is Fed according to those quotes.


jane Says:

Oh, well, racquet’s new quote suggests Nole wouldn’t play. His main concern appears to be injury by the sounds of it.


jane Says:

Wog Boy, I thought Nole was mainly pretty positive today and when he slipped he got back up and played even better, putting together a nice string of points.


Dave Says:

Nadalista: The issue is not about Nadal being allowed to skip one Masters event (Rule1.08 Reduction of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Commitment). That’s not what I said, so don’t try to change and twist the issue like you do to your knickers. The issue is Nadal’s unprofessional public comments to the news media threatening to boycott Madrid next year (“Next year this will be one less event for my calendar). Given Nadal’s status as the tour’s top clay courter and its No. 2 player, what he said can be reasonably expected to harm this Madrid tournament.

Nadal not just unreasonably disparaged the Madrid tournament, he also harmed the reputation and financial interests of the Madrid tournament as well as that of any other tournament wishing to implement blue clay. Thus the ATP should investigate Nadal for ‘conduct contrary to the integrity of the game’, which carries a maximum penalty of a fine of up to $100,000 and/or suspension from play in ATP World Tour or ATP Challenger Tour tournaments for a period of up to 3 years. Don’t worry about untwisting my knickers, I’m sure you’ll have your hands full trying to untwist Nadal’s knickers if Nadal is taken to task by multi-billionaire Ion Tiriac (Romania’s richest man, apparently).

Let me help you by quoting the ATP Rulebook:
“VIII. THE CODE
8.04 Player Major Offenses/Procedures
A. Offenses
1) Aggravated Behavior
a) No player at any ATP World Tour or ATP Challenger Tour tournament shal engage in aggravated behavior which is defined as follows… ii) One incident of behavior that is flagrant and particularly injurious to the success of a tournament, or is singularly egregious, … b) Violation of this section shall subject a player to a fine up to $25,000 or the amount of prize money won at the tournament, whichever is greater, and/or suspension from play in ATP World Tour and ATP Challenger Tour tournaments or events for a minimum period of twenty-one (21) days and a maximum period of one (1) year…
2) Conduct Contrary to the Integrity of the Game
The favorable reputation of the ATP, its tournaments and players is a valuable asset and creates tangible benefits for all ATP members. Accordingly, it is an obligation for ATP players, their coaches and family members to refrain from engaging in conduct contrary to the integrity of the game of tennis. Conduct contrary to the integrity of the game shall include, but not be limited to, comments to the news media that unreasonably attack or disparage a tournament, sponsor, player, official or the ATP. Responsible expressions of legitimate disagreement with ATP policies are not prohibited. However, public comments that one of the stated persons above knows, or should reasonably know, will harm the reputation or financial best interests of a tournament, player, sponsor, official or the ATP are expressly covered by this section. Violation of this section shall subject the player to a fine of up to $100,000 and/or suspension from play in ATP World Tour or ATP Challenger Tour tournaments for a period of up to three (3) years.”
http://www.atpworldtour.com/Corporate/Rulebook.aspx

Trust Nadalista to support an unprofessional player who threatens to boycott a tournament (and Sean proclaiming “this tournament gets an asterisk” is prematurely supporting the position of the few whiners before the tournament s concluded and all the facts are in). Had Nadal gone on to win this tournament without dropping a set, it is unlikely he would have threatened to boycott the Madrid tournament as he never threatened to boycott it before his loss

If the ATP fails to discipline Nadal for making those comments, it opens a Pandora’s box. Other players might boycott Madrid. As well, other players might make similar comments and threats against tournaments that make changes which dampen their chances of winning. For example, Federer could criticize and boycott Wimbledon because the changes it made to its grass surface have progressively made the center court slower, more consistent and bouncier to the stage a clay court – oriented player like Nadal was able to beat Federer in the only year his game was compromised by mononucleosis illness.


Wog boy Says:

jane,

Did he hit his head when he slipped, maybe something clicked in his head:)
Thanks jane, he will get there, he is doing fine:)


skeezer Says:

“Nadal not just unreasonably disparaged the Madrid tournament, he also harmed the reputation and financial interests of the Madrid tournament “.

Spot on.

Also, he could have done the “threatening” in private, which was probably the right thing to do. Why would a sponsor who puts up millions for prize money, facilities, umpires, ball boys ( Or Lady Models )even want Rafa back anyway after being spat in the face in public? It’s there money, not Rafa’s. And guess what? They were quoted saying they payout almost as big as the slams. So yeah, they have money

The tournament organizers are not stupid. They will take the criticisms and make it a better tourney next year. If Rafa was smart he would offer to help rather than pop off and say he’s not playin.

That saying, Rafa lost and is pissed. who wouldn’t be? GIve him some room to get over it and see what happens down the road….I can’t see them keeping tipis way either next year now that I have seen them play.

Now if they had Ice Skates on….mmmmm?


Michael Says:

Nadal is not being kind when he says he will boycott the tournament next year if things do not unfold as he wishes. This is a open blackmail to the tournament organizers to fall in line or else ?? This kind of behaviour is unbecoming of a Champion like Nadal and he should be more restrained in his post match interviews. If he has difficulty in expressing himself then it is better to limit his views.


Michael Says:

Dave,

I hope Ian Tiriac musters the courage to take suitable action against Nadal for such mindless outbursts which is unbecoming for a player.


Mark Says:

Dave & Michael. What do you suggest? Lock him ( Nadal) and throw away the key?? The ATP is the main culprit here in not consulting with the players BEFORE this change was made. There is absolutely no misconduct here on the part of Nadal. He has expressed his views, opinions and his decision should things stay the same for next year.


Dave Says:

Skeezer, and all the negative publicity ends up harming the public perception of Tennis as well… as if there is a horrifically terrible happening in tennis.

You’re right: the professional thing for players to do is to address this privately with the tournament, ATP and other stakeholders — use the ATP Player Council get consensus on how the players feel about the Blue surface and what to do about it. If the players want to threaten, threaten in private, not public. Of all the tournament owners to threaten, it’s stupid to do it to Ion Tiriac — he is likely to respond with interest. And he has the resources to do it.

If there is a legitimate safety issue, it can probably be solved: almost any manufacturing process can be modified in some way. It’s really not that big a deal to make the blue clay less slippery if that’s what is only needed.

On another note: We should be careful of player quotes we see in the news media as certain tennis writers have their agendas and tend to sensationalize things… and we have no access to transcripts of player interviews for Madrid. So we don’t know what players have actually said and in what context.


Alex Says:

In his prime, Roger Federer had the best forehand that I’ve ever seen. It’s been five or six years since those days. He’s not even close to that level anymore. I think he was lucky to get past Raonic.

Michael,

I didn’t think Nadal’s response was altogether wrong. The clay is very slick. All of the top players have expressed issues with the surface it hasn’t just been Nadal.


Dave Says:

Michael, I agree that what Nadal said is a form of extortion. Hopefully this issue can be resolved. But the rules have to be enforced if a few players feel they can keep flagrantly violating it.


Mark Says:

@ Dave. Your post 4.11 ‘Of all the tournament owners to threaten ….’ . You never cease to amaze me with your extended and mostly boring posts. ‘he is likely to respond with interest. And he has the resources to do it’. What are we talking about here? Nadal has not criticized the tournament but the surface they have to play on.


Dave Says:

Mark, and yet you keep reading every one of my posts. You never cease to amaze me with your lack of understanding of even the basics in an issue. Go find someone else to explain the basics and bring you up to speed on why criticizing the court surface and threatening to boycott is harming the tournament.


nadalista Says:

There’s got to be a picture, somewhere, of Rafa and Muzza practicing together in Rome………………

Vamos!!!


nadalista Says:

Head-scratch…………why are Fedfans frothing at the mouth at the prospect of a Rafa no-show at Madrid next year? Surely they should be dancing with joy, congratulating Tiriac the genius, thanking the Gods at that……….improves their man’s chances of hoisting the trophy, no?


Mark Says:

@Dave. No, I do not read every one of your posts – only the sometimes shorter ones. The extended ones filled with bilge about your undying love for Choc Boy – I just ignore. Madrid at the moment is a bloody joke – it was harmed from the very first day or even pre-tournament with the concept of blue clay. Tiriac should be nicknamed Bluebeard – only a matter of time before he decides to dye his beard. Maybe there will be blue fluorescent balls next year. I believe the toilet rolls are blue as well.


alison hodge Says:

Rafa has to stomach alot of negativity on this forum,some of its warranted some of it isnt,and dont get me wrong he does bring it on himself,he can be his own worst enemy at times,but i think people are been a bit hard on him this time,many of the players have also been complaining about the court conditions,its not as though hes the only one,Nole,Roger etc,point taken John Isner was the exception to the rule,although the ones still there obviously are gonna complain less,they are still there despite the conditions,ok im not saying Rafa has any more right than anyone else to complain,and he lost yesterday to Nando because he was beaten by a better player,pure and simple,but it will be interesting to here what they say when one of them does loose here,maybe they will be exactly the same as Rafa,fair enough if they take things better than Rafa i will sit here and take any flack thats dished out to me.


Michael Says:

Mark,

In my opinion, Nadal should have restrained from such outrageous remarks that he will boycott the tournament next time if the conditions remain the same. Such outbursts should not be expressed in public domain and it is against the interest of the sport.


Michael Says:

Alison,

Nadal has all the right to complain about the court conditions but he has no business to issue a veiled threat that he will boycott the tournament next time if conditions remain the same. That is somewhat overboard.


Mark Says:

Rafa’s complaints are nothing to do with winning or losing. The courts and surface are BAD. Ask djoker who is still in the tourney who agrees with Rafa


Mark Says:

@ Michael . Who the he’ll are you to voice your opinion on what Rafa should or should not do or say? Djoker agrees with him wholeheartedly.


Mark Says:

Just read a comment from 5livetennis “loads of players have complained,not just Rafa and Novak. Tournament admit work to do”.


grendel Says:

mat4

thankyou for responding re Djoko’s serve. I’ll be very interested to see how it is developing – but not today. I’ve already watched one quarter, I’m gonna watch the two F’s and also Berdy-Verdy. That’s quite enough, but in any case, the prospect of watching Djokovic against Tipsy is about as alluring as looking in on two sisters having a bath together. No, actually, come to think of it, that might not be too bad, got that one wrong. But you know what I mean. There can be something incestuous in these one nation battles, and somehow one finds oneself looking in the other direction.

However, I eagerly await Djokovic’s semi-final appearance…


alison hodge Says:

Michael@7.55am yes i completely agree with you,and if you read my post again you will see i made no mention of him boycotting the tourament next year,before you start to jump to conclusions my point was only about the condition of the surface ,which IMO he had every right to complain about,sorry no offence.


Djokowins Says:

“Nadal has all the right to complain about the court conditions but he has no business to issue a veiled threat that he will boycott the tournament next time if conditions remain the same. That is somewhat overboard.”

What is your problem here ??

All the players have all the rights to pick and choose the tournaments they want to play.

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