Nadal, Williams Sisters Roll In Rome As Murray Upset; Federer, Djokovic Advance In Three
by Sean Randall | May 17th, 2012, 10:35 pm
  • 155 Comments

Rafael Nadal continued to work his way back into form Thursday at the Rome Tennis Masters. The King of Clay more than lived up to his billing thrashing countryman Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-1.

This year on the red clay Nadal, a 5-time Rome champion, is 12-0 and hasn’t lost a single set.

“I started the match bad with two double faults with my serve, but after the first two or three games, I started to play well – good forehand, control of the point and going to net,” said Nadal. “Conditions were difficult and windy but I think I found rhythm and after third game I played very solid.”

Having tougher goes were Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Djokovic is still finding the road rough as he tries to defend another title from a sparkling 2011 season. Today, Djokovic was stretched to three sets 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 by Juan Monaco who is coming off a ankle injury.

The Argentine was actually up a break in the second on Djokovic before things fell apart.

“Mental strength is what is needed, especially when you are playing against a player who has already won two tournaments on this surface this year already and is playing with confidence,” Djokovic said. “There are many thoughts that go through your head [when you are down a set] but you try and focus and think positive… I have enough experience to know what to do and I used it today.”

Federer kept his win streak going. After his majestic title in Madrid Federer has played well this week on the red, and today looked incredibly sharp for 45 minutes against former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrer. But late in the second the Swiss lost his game allowing Ferrero to steal the set. But Federer quickly righted the ship to cruise in the third for a 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 victory.

The big story of the day belonged to Andy Murray who fell to Richard Gasquet 6-7, 6-3, 6-2. Murray, like Gasquet was a Rome semifinalist a year ago, revealed afterward that the back injury that kept him out of Madrid has been bothering him all season.

“Similar to the other night,” said Murray in regard to his win over David Nalbandian. “Long match and sore back towards the end, but I was expecting that coming to the tournament. I didn’t take a break from training and playing a lot, but the muscles are more tired and fatigued.

“I don’t want to go into detail here about it and the treatment but it’s been there for a while – since December. You wait for the right moment and then there is the French Open and then Wimbledon and then the US Open coming up and there is not much time for rest – anything goes. The best time to do it is now so when the French Open comes up I will be in peak condition.”

Ten days to get ready? For Murray’s sake, at least he has an injury (or not) to fall back on. Because his game is crumbling at the very worst time of the year with two Slams and an Olympics in the next 75 days, and then the US Open. New coach Ivan Lendl cannot be happy either with the results thus far – just one title in Brisbane.

Also today, in a mild upset JW Tsonga took out a flat-looking Juan Martin Del Potro. Andreas Seppi overcame SIX matchpoints to stun a choking Stan Wawrinka and David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych were also winners.

I’m really surprised by Del Potro’s poor performance. Hopefully it’s just a blip. He was up a break at 4-3 in the first set and then only managed one more game. I didn’t catch the end, perhaps Tsonga, as unpredictable as he is, just got hot?

So Friday quarterfinals look like Djokovic-Tsonga, Federer-Seppi, Berdych-Nadal and Ferrer-Gasquet.

The best of the bunch for me is Berdych-Nadal, and I think Rafa wins. Even though Tomas has the game and weaponry to beat Nadal – he’s done it before – Rafa’s out for blood this week. He’s also won 10 straight over Berdych, though he’s lost a set in the last two. And like last Sunday, if things do get tight Berdych will mentally melt.

“His level is fantastic on clay and hard and grass,” said Nadal of the Czech. “He is a complete player and so tomorrow will be a difficult match for me. If I play my best, it will be possible.”

Surprisingly, Tsonga leads Djokovic 5-4 in their series. But on clay I give the edge to Novak, even though he’s been at his best this dirt season.

“I am not worried,” Djokovic said about his level as we approach the French. “I think I played well and the 2 matches that I played in the tournament in different conditions – at night and day and I found my way to win against a good opponent who plays well on this surface and this is encouraging for the next challenge.”

And I like Federer over home favorite though tired Seppi and Ferrer to end Gasquet’s hopes.

In the women’s quarterfinals are also tomorrow. Serena meets local hero Flavia Pennetta and Venus plays Sharapova. What a great win for Venus today bouncing French Open finalist Sam Stosur. She’s back!

“Every match is a lesson and a challenge for me. I think that all wins are great wins nowadays,” Venus said. “I’ve had to get used to a lot of things and I’m still figuring out a lot. I’m making adjustments at the beginning of every week.

“All I can do is be positive when I’m down.”

Tennis Channel has live men’s coverage starting at 6am ET with Ferrer-Gasquet with women’s quarterfinals at 1:30pm ET before the men return with Federer at 3pm ET.

FRIDAY ROME SCHEDULE

CENTRALE start 12:00 noon
F Pennetta (ITA) vs [9] S Williams (USA) – WTA
Not Before 1:30 PM
[7] T Berdych (CZE) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 4:00 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs [5] J Tsonga (FRA) – ATP
Not Before 7:20 PM
[12] A Kerber (GER) vs [4] P Kvitova (CZE) – WTA
Not Before 9:00 PM
[3] R Federer (SUI) vs A Seppi (ITA) – ATP

SUPERTENNIS ARENA start 12:00 noon
[6] D Ferrer (ESP) vs [16] R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP
[14] D Cibulkova (SVK) vs [8] N Li (CHN) – WTA
Not Before 3:00 PM
[WC] V Williams (USA) vs [2] M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA


Also Check Out:
Serena Williams Admits She Had A Tough Time Turning 30, So She Bought A Rolls Royce!
Williams Sisters, Loaded Field at WTA Rome
Nadal Tries To Get On Track, Federer Looks To Remain Hot In Rome; Williams Sisters In Action
Safina Chokes Again as Williams Sisters Advance to Wimbledon Final
Safina Boosts No. 1 Ranking with Revenge Win at WTA Rome

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155 Comments for Nadal, Williams Sisters Roll In Rome As Murray Upset; Federer, Djokovic Advance In Three

Michael Says:

Although Berdych is playing well, I think Nadal should scrape through with the kind of form he is in at the moment. About the Roger-Seppi match it should be a mere formality for Roger. Ferrer should also sail through. But I have doubts about the Novak-Tsonga match which should be a tough match-up for the former. With Novak not in his best form, Tsonga will have his chances. Hope Novak prevails.


Michael Says:

Murray has totally lost his game and he is coming up with all kinds of silly excuses for his losses. His association with Lendl has obviously not worked to his advantage and if he gets defeated by “B” class players like Gasquet, Lopez often then he has no salvation. The confidence is lacking and is telling on Murray’s game. Yesterday in the third set against Gasquet he just melted unable to stand the pressure. This is not going to help Murray in getting a major under his belt in the near future. I think Murray should even consider of withdrawing from Rolland Garros to keep his confidence intact for the most crucial Wimbledon and Olympics. It is quite glaring that Murray is not comfortable on Clay. I think he can start afresh in Aegon Classic where he as a good record.


jane Says:

I thought Murray had a good start to the year actually – he won Brisbane; he played well at the AO, very nearly toppling Nole in the semis; he reached the finals at Dubai and the finals at Miami. It’s only since he’s hit clay that he’s back slid somewhat. I think we need to wait a little longer to see what the Lendl effect is. After the grass season, or really after the USO, we can probably make a more clear judgment in my opinion.


skeezer Says:

Birdsh!t has to hit consistent winners to shake Rafa. On a faster surface he has a chance. But Rafa is going to make birdsh!t hit more than 2/3 shots in a rally, and birdsh!t will either make an error or winner. Imo most likely an error. Welcome to being a backboard wins.


Michael Says:

Jane,

Finals at Miami ? Did Murray play matches in Miami to reach the finals ??? He got very lucky when he got many walk overs there against some very good players.


jane Says:

Yes, that was strange wasn’t it Michael; I actually forgot about the W/Os for Murray. But he had traditionally played fairly well at that tournament so he may’ve reached the finals anyhow. We just don’t know.


steve-o Says:

Question: if Andy Murray were from, say, Bhutan, would everyone be so insistent that he would be a Grand Slam champion?

Or is it just because he’s Scottish British, and because the British have such a desperate need for a Wimbledon champion that they’ll fit any sufficiently good player with that mantle? Granted Murray is not just a good player, he’s a great player.

But if he were just as great, but not from a country with such a proud tennis tradition, would they tout him as strongly as they do?

Also, Berdych has no chance on the slow clay. He is going to do OK for one set, maybe even break, but fail to win it, and then he’ll be gassed from all that running.

Nadal is just going to absorb all his shots and run him around until he tires and starts making mistakes. The second set won’t be pretty at all (that is, for the Berdych fans, if they exist).

He never fails to flail away mindlessly against Nadal…then again, he’s in excellent company in that regard.


Michael Says:

Jane,

He may have reached the finals anyhow ???

Sorry I cannot agree. He escaped in the semis when Nadal took that decision not to play. In the very second round, he had a walk over against a red hot Raonic who is always capable of major upset and has beaten Murray very recently.


Etoile Says:

Here’s a view on Fed’s strategy to get to #1: he entered Rome because he didn’t believe he would have an easy ride at the FO and with the intention to win Rome to improve chances for an easy draw. At the same time, he knew that playing Rome especially all the way, would exhaust him a lot, probably too much to still be able to run deep in Paris. So it’s a trade-off, also in terms of points: what he wins in Rome he can lose in Paris, 1200 in Paris (to lose) vs 910 in Rome (to win). If he wins Rome, he would have nothing to lose in Paris and could play freely. Sure, he would love to win the FO, but I think he wants Wimbledon and the Olympics more. If he loses somewhat early in Paris, he would have more time to rest – which is also something he would like to have.

Interestingly, my read of his game yesterday was that he tried to play himself warm for offense games in front of him – hence the high number of unforced errors and winners.


jane Says:

Perhaps not, Michael. We’ll never know for certain. My point was mainly that he started the year quite well, with a title in Brisbane, a well fought loss in the semis of the AO, finals in Dubai, and, walkovers notwithstanding, finals in Miami. So that isn’t horrible in my opinion.


jane Says:

steve-o it may be that Murray gets more media attention than he might otherwise. But that can backfire too, creating added pressure. Dimitrov, from Bulgaria I believe, also received a lot of early hype that he has so far not quite lived up to. So the British factor may be moot.


Lulu Iberica Says:

Skeezer, I love your nickname for Berdych! I have nothing against him, but I find the name visually appealing, and I laugh everytime I see it. I think you are correct about the course of the Rafa-Berdych match, but I’m a little afraid.


steve-o Says:

But jane, Dimitrov has not been hyped as a Grand Slam champ coming up, as Murray was. No one is proclaiming him a world-beater.

The Brits invested all their Wimbledon hopes in Henman before Murray came along. Though I suppose the pressure on Murray is correspondingly greater since he’s got much better results than Henman.


Rahul Says:

I think Murray puts too much pressure on himself. He’s always talking, screaming after every unforced error. And now that Nole has made the big move I think he feels it even more…

Also when he started making waves at that point I always felt he had a well rounded game and of course very tactical. Now when i watch him I actually feel his game has taken a step backwards to being just a counter puncher albeit a good one. I think he needs a weapon so he can play a more attacking brand of tennis when he needs to (which he is very capable of)…


Michael Says:

Jane,

True. Murray has a good season so far minus Clay. But in my opinion, he would be still disappointed with his performance. Murray doesn’t like to be called a good player, he wants to be a Great player and if you aspire for that then your performance must synchornize. Reaching the semis and finals may be good for somebody like Tipsaveric or Isner, but not for Murray. We expect more from him and that is the price you pay for greatness. The fact that he has not been able to win even a hard court Masters event which is his main strength must be troubling him. Now this is clay season and Murray’s expectations may not be much because he is relatively weak on this surface.


Nims Says:

Not sure if people realize, But Nadal may go on to create one of the greatest seasons starting with his success at Rome. I can’t see any active player capable of beating him in FO, Wim and Olympics. If Nadal stays healthy, he has a great chance of taking down USO.


Polo Says:

Nims, I can see Federer.


Polo Says:

…and Djokovic…


Mark Says:

COME ON SEPPI!!! HOME BOY!!


racquet Says:

“if he gets defeated by “B” class players like Gasquet”

The same “B” class player who took out Federer and Berdych here last year before falling to Nadal? I suppose Berdy and Fed are expected to win too but, hey, it happens. The doom and gloom about not winning a HC Masters event yet is premature seeing as 7 of his masters titles have been won later in the season.

@steve-o – it’s not just the British media who tout him strongly; the Americans, Europeans and Aussies do it too. They build up the hype and then dump on him when he doesn’t fulfill their expectations. I think it’s overdone and adds to the burden unnecessarily.

I tend to take more seriously (and get affirmation for my own beliefs) the views of great past champions such as McEnroe, Agassi, Becker, Edberg and Sampras who regularly sing his praises. I remember in particular a quote from Agassi last year just after the FO: “If you gave me his game I would be sick if I didn’t win a slam. I really would”. That sums up it up nicely from a player (and fan) perspective.


Brando Says:

IMHO I think people are being too harsh on Murray. I’m one of those whose starting to doubt IF he wins a GS, BUT truth is he’s playing in a era where there are 3 guys better than him- with a total of 31 SLAMS between them! He’s probably got the toughest challenge in the game- trying to compete against these guys on the GS stage! Do remember that for the LAST 5 slams he hasn’t lost to ANYONE other than top 2- and he’s got to ATLEAST SF! He’s 25, he’s got 3 more years. As each year passes w/o a slam it only gets tougher, BUT he has 3 more years to pull it off IMHO.


Michael Says:

Racquet,

The same “B” class player who took out Federer and Berdych here last year before falling to Nadal? I suppose Berdy and Fed are expected to win too but, hey, it happens

But the problem is it happens too often for Murray losing to “B” and “C” class players and that is definitely not a good sign. Players like Roger rarely loses to players outside the top 5 but with Murray it happens often.


racquet Says:

@michael – You’re clearly not a fan nor are you invested in his progress/success. I don’t understand why you are expressing any concerns.

Meanwhile, Nadal is already up a break but Berdy looks strong. Some amazing hitting from both already.


Aravind Says:

Berdych already a break down, but seems to have come to play today. Nadal starting in 5th gear. Berdych needs to keep close. If Nadal’s level drops, he can capitalize… Some interesting observations first up..
1. How far back Nadal stands when returning serves on clay. This is his biggest weapon when returning. He just returns the ball deep and sets the rally to neutral. No matter what pace they come, the server always has to work against Rafa on clay.
2. How much longer Rafa takes on key points on his serves. When he is serving and it is 30-30, you can expect him to push 35 secs for serves. Every single time.. This at the start of the match.. And no long rallies before that..


van orten Says:

nadal at his annoying best…!!!!!!!


racquet Says:

Yep, Nadal is scary good right now. The forehand, retrieving and serving. Fearsome.


Brando Says:

Berdych HAS improved this year- he’s shown ALOT more fight in matches. IF rafa wins, he’ll beat a very, very good player!


Brando Says:

Berdych serving well here, koening reminding people that tbird nearly made FO final. He’s a fantastic clay court player.


jane Says:

Berdych can play well on all surfaces: made the Wimby final of course. Oddly he has never gone as deep in hard court slams has he? He had pretty good chances versus Fed in last weekend’s final too.


racquet Says:

Berdych in the ascendancy with a break. The crowd are clamoring for a third set. This is the match of the tournament.


skeezer Says:

Major choking here by birdsh!t…


racquet Says:

Ridiculous return.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

Interesting. Loth and Benneteau have both maintained in a radio emission that Nole tanked his match against Tipsarevic in Madrid.


Rahul Says:

Skeezer I love the nick for Berdych. Couldnt stand the guy after he started complaining that Almagro was targeting him at the net. But he’s got serious issues with the dbl faults. He did that on multiple occasions during crucial stages in Madrid as well.


racquet Says:

Tremendous hold.


jane Says:

mat4, not sure who Loth is, but anyhow I just do not think Nole was comfortable. He had ro rely heavily on his serve to beat Wawa there, and don’t forget how well Tipsy knows Nole’s game. They had a close match at the USO last year as I recall.

Intrigued by this match happening now.


racquet Says:

I can’t fathom what players are thinking when they approach with shots to Rafa’s forehand.


racquet Says:

It looks like curtains now for Berdy. Great match.


skeezer Says:

Rahul,

Thats is exactly why I started calling him that. My memory is still fresh with that one.

This match just goes to show you have to be mindful of Rafa’s FH, which Nole is. Just hitting hard into Rafa’s FH ain’t gonna get the job done, in most cases. Keep it to the BH until you get a reallygood opening then pounce.


El Flaco Says:

Berdych hasn’t beaten Nadal in 6 years and it’s not about to happen on the dirt. I think the only place Berdych would have a chance is in Cincy.


racquet Says:

haha…Berdy has an “ah-ha” moment: ‘approach to his backhand’.


the mind reels Says:

@racquet: agreed re: approaching to his forehand. Or his backhand most of the time, for that matter. Unless you can get him to take one hand off the racquet and force a slice, difficult to find the right time to approach.

Just out of curiosity, anyone been keeping an eye on the clock this match? Someone commented recently that Nadal’s been taking extra sweet time between points this week. Don’t mean to make a war out of it, but it’s something that’s always bothered me.


JD Says:

^ It should not bother you if you are not watching the match atleast :))


racquet Says:

Fantastic match. There were some astonishing rallies in that last game. Rafa is looking almost invincible.


Rahul Says:

Well done Rafa. He made that look easy and is easily the favourite. As for Berdy, well hes got a gorgeous girlfriend to comfort him for not capitalizing on the break.


jane Says:

Rafa is just too good. I thought Berd would get a set, but Rafa was having none of it. Still hasn’t lost a set on (red) clay this year.

Commedable effort from Berd though. So far he has pushed all of the big 3 on clay this year: Nole at Monte Carlo, Fed at Madrid, and Rafa here – taking a set off Nole and Fed in those matches, but not Rafa.


skeezer Says:

TMR,

There isn’t a time rule. Not possible. Has anyone EVER been penalized for taking too much time? Its an un enforcable rule apparently.

Congrats to Rafa, despite birdsh!t choking here and there Rafa kept the pressure on him. Birdsh!T let Rafa hit his FH at will, and Rafa says “I’ll take that”. More importantly for Rafa fans his Clay court game is looking like the old Rafa ( the good one ).


Humble Rafa Says:

I don’t want to just win, I want to put a whooping on the “2 gentlemen” before I win the title. That will be like icing on a cake.


racquet Says:

So, Djoko-Tsonga next. Intriguingly, Tsonga leads the H2H 5-4; but they’ve never met on clay. Have to say Nole for the win but it might be competitive. Jo-Willy just doesn’t seem the same on clay.


jamie Says:

Just give the title to Nadal already.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Tremendous match from Rafa, he showed some real cleverness in pressure moments. He will be tough to beat (obvious comment of the day?). But Ferrer will make him run, and if he winds up in a final with Nole, which will surely be a physical affair, that may catch up with him.
Yes, Rafa’s matches this week are being played slow. Even this match, with relatively short points for Rafa, went over two hours. Yesterday a 6-1,6-1 match went 90 minutes. I really wish the powers that be would speed this up, its really annoying for spectators. Anyway, that aside, I like Rafa’s form, I think the bad vibes from last week have been turned to determination rather than doubt. Should never have doubted that!


jane Says:

Worried about this one racquet: Jo was great yesterday versus Delpo. But it is tough to know how much of that was due to the injury Delpo got at Madrid.


the mind reels Says:

@skeezer: agreed that Nadal seemed to be in formidable form, from the little bit of the match I saw. It will be a tough task for anyone to take him down this week.

Re: the time rule, I mean, OK I’ll play along. There *is* an actual rule, but I submit that even the warnings are rarely used. Some players tend to flip out when they get time warnings, which is absurd. I get that sometimes the crowd is blowing up and everyone’s watching the jumbo-tron replays or whatever — in those cases, clearly not right to start the clock right after the ball goes out of play. Many other times, though, to get upset at an umpire because they are trying, however inconsistently, to enforce a simple (and good, I think) rule suggests that you think the rules don’t apply to you.

Despite the H2H, if Djokovic is in good form today, I expect him to take care of business against Tsonga. Interesting that they’ve never met on clay.


jamie Says:

Nadal will win Rome and Roland Garros. You can quote me on that.


racquet Says:

jane, I hear you. Of course Tsonga is a threat to anyone when he’s “on” but I think the conditions are much better today for Nole and he won’t get so distracted. Just a gut feeling.


skeezer Says:

TMR
Yes sarcasm there. It’s very flagrant, but nothing gets really done by it. Seeing Rafa get a warning, then giving the ump his famous pirate snare like a string so attached from his lip to the top of his head and someone timely pulls out it to make his lip do that, the ump then withers back in his chair.


the mind reels Says:

Haha, very true. Oh well.


Dan Martin Says:

http://tennisabides.com/2012/05/17/turn-back-the-clock-federer-vs-ferrero/ Here is a look at when Federer-Ferrero was a much higher stakes match – I agree Nadal is looking very strong thus far. Should be an interesting remainder to 2012.


Skeezer Says:

Dan that was a great read. Wish the younger Rafa loves would read it. There was some great competition back then, not a weak era. Fed just busted through and the rest his HIStory.


Andrea Says:

Nadal is definitely looking stong. Not really looking forward to the ferrer match with him….he’s become a little like nadal’s second whipping boy on clay, after roger. Maybe there will be an upset?


Nims Says:

Polo..I can’t believe Roger can beat Rafa in a 5-setter. I have to see to believe it. I did not get a chance for last 4 years. Let’s see if he has any chance going forward.

Only difference I see is Roger used to push Rafa to 5-setters on a non-clay slam. But in AO, he lost in 4-sets. I could see him losing in 3-sets shortly. Maybe this Wimbledon semis.


Skeezer Says:

Lion vs Terrier, no chance.


the mind reels Says:

Wow — Tsonga double faults on set point.


jane Says:

Nerve-wracking set. Phew.


jane Says:

Yeah Nole got a little gift there; however, he had put a lot of pressure on Jo’s serve throughout the set. It must play in their heads when they’re serving at crucial moments.


Nims Says:

In the hype of race to No 1 and rivalry between the Top 3, we are getting to see some of the great tennis played in the quarters of most of the tournaments. The Top 8 today is soo good, though they are not breaking through, but the way they make the matches competitive makes this sport really great now.


jane Says:

I agree Nims.


jane Says:

Jo’s strategy, if it is one, of going for it on second serves on break points is back-firing.


skeezer Says:

Notice how Nole doesn’t celebrate when Tsonga double faulted for the set. Pure class. The way tennis used to be played with respect. Nowadays, some players (won’t name them) celebrate with a fist pumps and the like when there opponnet DFs. No class.


jane Says:

Nole was the double fault king throughtout 2009; he probably has loads of empathy in that regard. ;)

He had a 3-0 lead in the first set, too, and lost it. I wonder if he can keep the momentum here.


skeezer Says:

Is a bagel in the works?


Nims Says:

Looks like Tsonga is injured or just tanking the match.


racquet Says:

See Jane, no worries ;) One match away from a blockbuster semi.


jane Says:

As the commentators said, I think the break at the beginning of the second set sealed the deal. For Nole 21 winners/15 UEs, 10 of 13 at net. Not bad. 15 winners but way more errors for Tsonga; he was just “winging it” off the return at the end there – a couple went in but most went way out. Not on song after Nole went up 3-0 in the second, which is weird because he fought back from the same deficit in set one and made it very tight.


Joe W Says:

Have Roger and Nole played on clay since 2011 FO? If Fed gets through today (predicting Nole will), that should be a great semi final. Ferrer will be in over his head playing a very determined Rafa.

I know that Roger and Rafa state that the seeding for the FO isn’t a priority but I was wondering if any of the points TennisX gurus have computed the outcomes if Fed loses in Rome SF or final?


jane Says:

racquet, yeah, that semi could be very good. Hard to say, though. Fed has more momentum coming off the Madrid win. I still don’t know about Nole’s form. He was great on return today; he put so much pressure on Tsonga’s serve that I think Jo kind of caved in at the end. The problem is that Nole’s serve was also under pressure throughout set one. Anyhow, I think Fed should cruise past Seppi.


Joe W Says:

BTW, its hard for me to abide by the “big four” grouping used so often by the media. For me there’s a “big three” and then the other seven top ten players.


mat4 Says:

jane:

Jean-Paul Loth is a former Davic Cup captain of the French team. Benneteau talked about Rafa’s and Nole’s problems on the blue clay. He stated that the slippery courts hampered Rafa’s game, but he believes that for Novak it was more important to prepare well for the FO than to continue playing Madrid.

Benneteau also talked about the Madrid tournament. He said that the courts were never well prepared, not even when they were red.

About Novak: he seemed to lose focus in the first set after the consecutive breaks. In the second set, I had the impression that JWT had problems moving.

What was interesting is how far beyond the baseline Jo defended in the first set.


the mind reels Says:

@Joe W: here’s my understanding of possible outcomes re: Fed/Nadal (and let’s assume Federer beats Seppi, but who knows — weirder things have happened).

Before Rome points are added on Monday, Federer (9,430) currently has a 325 point lead over Nadal (9,105).

If both lose in the semis, Federer remains #2 because they’d be earning the same amount of points and Federer would still be ahead by 325.

If Fed loses in the semis and Nadal loses in the finals, Federer remains #2:
Federer: 9,790 (9,430 + 360)
Nadal: 9,705 (9,105 + 600)

If Nadal wins the tournament, it doesn’t matter whether Fed loses in the semis or finals — Nadal takes back #2, though the margin would be very slim (75 points) going into the French if Nadal beat Fed in the finals:
Nadal: 10,105
Federer: 10,030

As always, that may all be wrong, but it seems right.


mat4 Says:

Another thing:

I believe that Novak ducked Roger each time he didn’t feel really ready to win: Basel, Madrid, perhaps Dubai (though I believe that it was not the case in Basel).


jane Says:

“What was interesting is how far beyond the baseline Jo defended in the first set.” – Yeah it was almost Rafa-like.

mat4, you have a suspicious mind. ;) Interesting to hear what Benneteau had to say; I have always liked that guy for some reason.


mat4 Says:

In theory, Roger and Rafa’s ranking shouldn’t much matter for the FO draw. But since I believe that the draw is fixed…


jane Says:

What final do you think they’ll want at the FO this year, mat4, in keeping with your theory?


mat4 Says:

Frenchies want a Roger final, of course. Preferably against Djokovic.


mat4 Says:

Sorry. Preferably against Tsonga.


jane Says:

You don’t think they’d like to see Rafole? I would like to see Nole reach the FO final anyhow. But that’s a difficult task, I know.


mat4 Says:

If the pattern is the same, a bunch of Frenchies will be in Murray quarter, Federer and Murray will be in the same half, Berdych will land in Nadal quarter and Ferrer in Djoko’s. DelPo could fall in Rafa’s quarter too.

I don’t think that they can control the complete draw, so it will be interesting to see where Isner and Raonic will land.


mat4 Says:

Oh, yes, I am certain they want to see a Rafole. But in the semi…


mat4 Says:

“I would like to see Nole reach the FO final anyhow.”

Me too. I am convinced that if he makes the final, there is no way he can lose it. If…


van orten Says:

it is good to have RN, FERRER and DJOKER back in the semis.. with fed being the favourite tonight there is a good chance for a top 4 (on clay) match up. and it is almost certain we are going to see good tennis tomorrow.


Nims Says:

I think Berd is going to be a difficult opponent at FO. If he faces anyone other than Rafa in the quarters, he could definitely take down Roger or Novak.


Nims Says:

There is a great chance of Roger tanking his match today. He may not want to face Rafa or Nole efore FO. One of the advantages he had last year was he did not face Nole at clay before FO. It was their first match of the clay season. I think that helped Roger a lot with his mindset.

Even if Rome is not the most important tournament, a loss to Novak or Rafa would dent his confidence if he meets them at FO.

He doesn’t care about the points at Rome. He wanted match practice in Red clay which he got now. His form is good. He should go and rest before start practicing.


jane Says:

Berd beat Murray at the FO that really wet year, 2010 I think. But I don’t know if he could do it to Fed or Nole over 5 sets? Maybe. In 3 sets he has come close.


the mind reels Says:

@Nims: seems more likely that if Federer were to tank a match (which I don’t think he does too often…), he’d do it over the weekend. Seppi has a weak serve and no real weapon off the ground, so at least on paper, this doesn’t look like a real challenge for Federer. He’s 8-0 lifetime against the Italian, and I’ve got to think that Seppi will be tired from the week. All of his matches have gone the distance, with the last two ending at 7-5 and 7-6 in the third sets.


van orten Says:

berdych can take down nadal too. fact is that the top 3 at their very best are very tough to beat.

rafa for example has to play always his very best( including champions luck or day form) to beat nole or especially roger.
i believe fed has a win in him vs nadal on clay in rome or even RG. why not??? in the end it is tennis and everything is possible one way or around


Nims Says:

jane, If Berd can beat Roger at Wimbledon, he definitely can beat Roger at FO. I don’t think Berd is lesser player than Soderling. Infact, he is a much smooth hitter than Sod.


Nims Says:

Van “i believe fed has a win in him vs nadal on clay in rome or even RG. why not??? in the end it is tennis and everything is possible one way or around”

If Roger can do that at FO, it will be his biggest achievement in his career.


van orten Says:

rome 2009 fed vs djoker semis. with djoker winning in 3. good match. then madrid and RG came and the rest is history


jane Says:

Nims, you could be right; Berd has also toughened up mentally which I think was a key factor in Soda’s big wins (i.e., that he became more confident on the court in his abilities). Berdy has beaten both Nole and Fed at Wimbledon actually. However he hasn’t beaten Rafa. I think Rafa has his number.


jane Says:

Just reading “Racquet Reaction” summary of Rafa’s match – he hit 34 winners to 10 errors. Now that must be aggressive. She also points out a couple of key double faults by Berd though.

http://blogs.tennis.com/racquet_reaction/2012/05/rome-nadal-d-berdych.html


Brando Says:

Had to go away, so i couldn’t see the end of rafa’s match, but nonetheless VAMOS RAFA on the win!

From what i saw- it was a good contest. Rafa upped his game, and T Bird fought commendably.

Just the match rafa needed i feel. And TBird is a threat now- IMHO. He’s fighting moreso than ever. Good on him.

Re nole v tsonga: Not surprised on the win at all. Noles just MUCH BETTER than jo on clay.

re nole tanking matches/ fixed draws: people are entitled to think what they want BUT i for one do not feel nole post davis cup 2010 has tanked a match or dodged an opponent. It’s wishful thinking IMHO to think otherwise.

Especially his losses this year. He lost to murray since that is a tough matchup, and a player who had over 80% 1st serves in on the day (or something ridiculous like that).

He lost to isner since the big server was phenomenal on the day. a real serve fest by him.

He lost to rafa at MC since, well i’ll be politically correct here and say rafa hasn’t lost there for 8 YEARS NOW. Must be for a reason other than opponent’s tanking matches.

Madrid? Simple- the surface was not conducive for his game, just like rafa. NO TANKING by either IMHO. IF so, why would he save some match points?

Wishful thinking IMO is the tanking theory. He said he wants the rome title before the tourny, IF he doesn’t win it- it’ll be most likely that he shall have lost to someone who MAY just be better than him on clay. Nothing more nothing less.


Kimberly Says:

Van “i believe fed has a win in him vs nadal on clay in rome or even RG. why not??? in the end it is tennis and everything is possible one way or around

In Rome, yes Fed has a chance. In Roland Garros, I’d put a heavy wager on Rafa. Fed certainly has a chance but he is 0-5 on Chartier. Best of 5 will favour Nadal. I’d handicap it 75-25 in Nadal’s favor.

If Fed is number 2 he will be hoping for Murray.
If Fed is number 3 he will be hoping for Djokovic.
He doesn’t want Rafa anywhere near him.

If Rafa is number 2 he will be hoping for Murray.
If Rafa is number 3 he will be hoping for Federer.
He doesn’t want Novak anywhere near him (although everyone can mark my words, i think this is the semi that will happen and I think Rafa will win it)

Djokovic–is number one regardless
First Choice–Murray
Between Fed and Rafa I wonder who he would prefer?

Murray is number 4 regardless
1st choice? 2nd choice? 3rd choice? I have know idea.

Berdych for his quarter
1. Murray
2. Federer
3. Novak
4. Rafa

Delpo for his quarter
1. Murray
2. Rafa
3. Djokovic
4. Federer

Ferrer
1. Murray
2. Djokovic
3. Rafa
4. Federer

Tsonga:
Does it really matter?

Tipsarevic:
Does it really matter?


Brando Says:

@Kimberly:

I agree with your post.


Kimberly Says:

Meanwhile, I’m starting to think Ms. S. Williams is a heavy favorite for Roland Garros.


Humble Rafa Says:

Meanwhile, I’m starting to think Ms. S. Williams is a heavy favorite for Roland Garros.

No one can disagree with the “heavy” part. Favorite? Ms. Big Lady has a way of screwing up at the FO.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Kimberly- agreed. Its quite incredible, she’s really given a new storyline over Azarenka’s big year.

I am beginning to feel less sure about Del Potro as a French Open dark horse. He just hasn’t shown he can beat the Big Three, and now he’s being knocked out by the other Big Guys. I hope this will change off clay, and I think there’s reasons to be optimistic it will- like his Wimbledon match vs Rafa last year.

The men’s game, least on clay, is turning into a more well defined 3-way, and I think the winner of this tournament will firm up a favourite between Rafa and Nole. If Fed wins though, it earns his way at least into a 3 way discussion he might miss out on if he gets knocked out before the finals. Still, he ended Nole’s streak there last year, won once, umpteen finals… yeah, Fed has to be in the talk, regardless of whether he’s the third wheel or a co-favourite.


mat4 Says:

@Brando:

About ducking: I thought about Basel and Madrid.Made an error in my post, writing “Basel” instead of “Dubai”. Of course, it is just guesswork.

About fixed draws: I made some lengthy posts about that a year or two ago. I have no doubts whatsoever that the draw is fixed. But, of course, you don’t have to agree. I often make a prediction post about the next draw, and I get it right most of the time. Though, this time it is long shot: a Rafole final would be for anthology — a 7th FO title vs a Grand Slam. But I still believe that they will land on the same side.


Brando Says:

@Mat4:

Re ducking: I doubt it, but fair enough if you feel like it may have been as such. one thing is for sure- neither one of us know for sure. You are a seasoned nole fan- so if you feel as such, i’m sure you would have a good instinct about it.

re fixed draws: i personally disagree, BUT YES i too have noticed a pattern. Will rafa and nole land on the same side? Depends on this tourny. IF rafa wins, there is ZERO chance of that.

IF rafa wins he WILL definately face one of nole or fed- neither is easy. For nole, one of rafa or fed- again i doubt he feels its a gimme. Either one MAY have to play both. That would be very tough.

WHOEVER gets murray though, IMHO, will be a lucky you know what. He doesn’t compare to the other 3 on clay.


the mind reels Says:

Looks like Kvitova v. Kerber is going to go three, so I may go get some ice cream before the Fedsky match…


Dan Martin Says:

Skeezer, Thanks for liking my retrospective on Ferrero and the other 30 somethings not named Federer. I think Safin had the talent to contend with Roger but not the drive to have troubled Roger for a prolonged period of time. Hewitt, Roddick, Ferrero, Nalbandian, Gonzo etc. were all good, but Federer just never gave any of them enough oxygen. Rafa to his credit claimed his territory as a champion.


hg Says:

Hi i am from India ….. when is the FDD match going to start ?


the mind reels Says:

@hg: if FDD = Federer, it just started about 5 minutes ago. And Federer is already up a fast break.


the mind reels Says:

Make that a double break. Match time so far is 10 minutes, and Federer is about to be up 5-0.


skeezer Says:

I know he is playing Seppi, but Feds tennis is like watching a skilled painter with a brush, and the court, is his canvas. Amazing stuff. Have not seen Fed play this good in a long time, wtf?


Andrea Says:

So nice to watch a men’s match not filled with grunting and endless time in between points.


the mind reels Says:

Well, that was fast. 54 minutes of near perfection. And 81% first serves for the match isn’t bad either.


skeezer Says:

This sets up some major fireworks of a match between Djoker/Fed, both in great form.

Rafa/Ferrer will go 6 hours and 22 min with scores of 6-2, 6-3.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

So much for Fed throwing the match.

Two best players of 2012 getting at it tomorrow, should be a GREAT one!
Skeeze, I will be using the opportunity between points of the spaniard affair to paint successive coats on my living room. I should get in a few.


RZ Says:

Apparently I missed the Fed-Seppi match while I blinked…


jane Says:

^ Ditto- just saw the scores. I knew Fed would win this one fairly easily. But it was a fairy tale week for Seppi nonetheless. Too bad he couldn’t've made it just a little more competitive tonight.

Hopefully we have two cracker semifinals tomorrow – I don’t know what to expect. I feel quite sure Rafa will be in the final though. ;)


skeezer Says:

TV,

I suggested to others to use the time in between to do pushups. Turned out popular. Little did they know I was using my time more wisely and used the time to go to fridge for another Beer.

Your method sounds reasonable also and goes in line with the saying “like watching paint dry”.

Anyone else have ideas how to spend your valuable time in between the points of a Rafa match?


Kimberly Says:

watching old movies or other sporting events, cooking, reading a book, fighting with people about basketball online when i had a team that wasn’t sucking.


Epsilon Says:

Watch a Federer match replay.


racquet Says:

“Anyone else have ideas how to spend your valuable time in between the points of a Rafa match?”

Yes, spare yourself from the agony and just don’t watch them (unless your guy is the opponent, of course).


RZ Says:

I’ve always meant to read “War and Peace.” I missed my chance during the Aussie Open final! :-)


carlo Says:

LOL…skeezer @ 5:03pm.

But really you are being tough on Ferrer. He’s not bad. Has a realistic grunt too.

What’s the slowest ATP match-up: Nadal v ?


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Epsilon- best answer so far.

But seriously folks- what we have here are the best clay court players of the past couple years in a semi. Only problem is, a semi round takes 4 and there are only 3 great clay players.


dari Says:

Carlo, answer: prob delpo, he’s pretty slow too

Missed most of the tennis, but saw moments of scary rafa!
I am.excited about djokovic fed and hope roger can bring it!


mat4 Says:

@Skeezer:

The beer stuff seems a good idea.


RZ Says:

Carlo, I’d have to say Djokovic (although he doesn’t bounce the ball nearly as many times anymore and with his improved fitness, doesn’t need to catch his breath as much).


carlo Says:

Dari, RZ: That’s my guess Nadal v Delpo or Nole

But Nole’s ball bouncing I can relate to it, it even sort of calms me down, organizes my brain.

Delpo on a roll probably has one of the worse heaving grunts in the ATP. But he only does it when he gets on a roll.

Gruntiest ATP Match?


carlo Says:

Was trying to think of his name but there is a South American player in the challengers that has an outrageous loud grunt. May try to look him up later. But I was streaming a challenger out of boredom one night and all the chatters were cracking up…which made me switch to that stream; just can’t remember his name atm.


carlo Says:

It was Andrea’s comment at 4:55 pm that got me thinking about grunting in ATP

What I’ve noticed is that some players will adjust their grunt, turn one on or keep it off, depending on whom they are playing. Roddick does it and also Olivier Rochus. Anyway, I think it can become a gamesmanship thing. Anything you can do….

I didn’t see any of the matches today. No surprises. But tomorrow should be good.


jane Says:

Nole’s words re: Fed – ““If Roger is my opponent there are no secrets, we are rivals and we have had great matches in the past 4 or 5 years. No words need to be spent about his career in tennis and he is an all-round player and equally dangerous and varies his game – change of pace in his shots which is good in this surface — another challenge and I am looking forward to and when I go on court tomorrow I will try and win.””


Kimmi Says:

jane – these guys understand each others game so much. Lets hope they all come guns blazing. Hope for a good match. hoping for roger win ofcourse but whoever wins will have their hands full in the final. I think rafa is looking very formidable here. Hope I am wrong.


carlo Says:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFSOk_THvDQ&feature=related

Above is my case in point for Andrea: Roddick v Tipsa Wimbledon, even the crowd starts laughing – Roddick lets out what sounds like a fake grunt.

jane, I’m interested to watch the Federer v Nole match on clay. You know which one I picked. And that is really my hope. Sworn off Fedals long ago. Rafa is just the best on clay.


jane Says:

Kimmi, their stats from today are interesting. Fed hit 25 winners; Nole hit 21. Fed was 11/14 at net; Nole was 10/13 at net. Fed’s serve was stronger obviously, and it is usually, but I think the opponent had something to do with that too. Tsonga returned well, and he did against Delpo too.

But I agree with you that Rafa is looking formidable. I do think, though, that Berdych had a chance to take the second set, and he kind of choked a little. I feel like he tends to do that against the top three guys at the business end of sets or when he gets a lead. There is a good chance that Fed or Nole would’ve got the one set in that situation. I don’t know though.


jane Says:

Funny clip carlo – was that the year Tipsa beat Roddick there? Tipsa likes a big show, but he is best on grass and at the USO. He is dangerous at those slams. I love the Wimbledon crowd generally speaking; they are so polite and cheer all the players. They love their champions and underdogs both and seem to just appreciate good tennis. I don’t like the FO crowd much.


carlo Says:

Yes Tipsa won.

All the crowds at GS’s are different. I share similar tastes with the crowd at Chartrier when it comes to Federer and their own French players. But they are hard on certain players, definitely – male or female.

AO crowd does not like screamers. The crowd outright were laughing at Sharapova in 2005 and someone yelled, “shut-up”

Yeah, agree. Wimbledon crowd is well-behaved. US Open crowd can be very loud, drunken at night…must be difficult for many players.


Kimmi Says:

i didn’t see berdych/rafa match jane. I was shocked with the scoreline. berdych has been playing very well recently but rafa beat him easily, so i though he must be playing very good. I agree with you that berdych tends to choke. When he was up a break serving I saw more than one DF in that game i think. He did the same against fed in madrid but their match was much much closer.

I think Seppi looked very tired today. three tie break sets yesterday must have taken a lot out of him. fed was not tested (apart from one game when he was facing break points) he didn’t have to go for the lines on his first serve. i was following the score and at one point he was 5-0 he didn’t miss one first serve and never lost a point on his serve. i thought wow!! but when i saw a replay, he was actually not going for the lines too much, seppi was just…bad. There was some great shot making from fed though. Nice volleys, i enjoyed. I wouldn’t read too much on his performance today but it’s always good to see him win easily. no nervous attack from me lol.


jane Says:

Yeah, I tend to like Nole and Murray routs too Kimmi because they aren’t stressful, but of course a competitive match is better overall. I didn’t see the Fed/Seppi match but I read Tignor’s write up on it. He thought Seppi was probably worn out from his Isner/Wawrinka heroics – those are two tough players Seppi took out, and he had also won in Serbia, so he’s been on a bit of a run. Fed always serves so well though. I wish Nole and Muzz were as consistent on their serves.


Kimmi Says:

hmm, i forgot seppi won serbia open! good for him. a well deserved rest now.


jane Says:

Yes, Seppi is a good clay courter. I hope he qualifies for the FO, or maybe his ranking is high enough now that he won’t have to; i don’t know where he is at but he should go up some spots. I am pretty sure this was his first Masters QF.


Kimmi Says:

Seppi reached semi final in Hamburg in 2008. That is his highest round in master series. Guess who he lost to…………..federer!

he is ranked 30 at the moment. with Qtr final results here..he will definitely be seeded at the FO.


jane Says:

^ Thanks for that Kimmi. Good for him. He could be a tough early rounder for someone once he’s rested up.


Kimmi Says:

BTW, i heard the seppi hamburd results from the commentator in fed/seppi match. no way i could have remembered that :) Now that we are talking about it, i remember that match very well. fed went on to lose to rafa in the final after leading 5-1 first set and still lost it 5-7


harry Says:

jane,
just curious: who were your favorite players before nole and muzza came along :)?


jane Says:

harry, I’ve had so many; way back I loved Steffi, J-Mac, Becker. I appreciated both Pete and Andre but wasn’t particularly a fan of either. Rafter was always nice to watch. ;) I was taken by Roddick because he was such a young whipper-snapper; I cheered him to get a second slam for a long time. Safin is always a favourite too. It wasn’t really until the early 2000s that I started to follow tennis more closely, I mean watching smaller tournaments, not just the slams. I think I tend to like the demonstrative personalities, the mavericks, the underdogs, at least initially. At IW 2007 I saw Nole play Rafa in the semis or finals and I have followed him ever since: I was glued. Then he turned around and won Miami and went on to have a great year. I actually noticed Murray before Nole, I think at Wimbledon 2006 when he beat Roddick, and I liked him straight away too. But I appreciate the greatness of Fed and Nadal too. When Nadal showed up in his pirate pants and muscle shirts, he was such a fascinating character, and he seemed like the perfect foil to Fed, who was so much more of a classic character. Tennis is such fun to watch for that, because of the drama and characters.


harry Says:

thanks jane,
it is always interesting for me to hear people’s list of favorites.

yes steffi and becker were such earnest competitors with such flair on the court… roddick and safin have flair too… and with all of them we see their inner conflict brutally brought on court ;) i see… with pete, fed and rafa there is no conflict… they just play tennis :)


jane Says:

And how about you harry? Quid pro quo?


harry Says:

jane,
i did not write it because i thought you may not be interested in it :) so now that you asked here goes:
well, i started watching tennis from 92/93. the historical order of my favorites is: becker, edberg, steffi, agassi, hingis, guga, federer, nadal, djokovic and murray. in retrospect, i like serena and pete.

if it is not boring for you, i could elaborate it :)


jane Says:

I liked edberg, hingis and guga too -hingis had that infectious smile, guga with his charisma and clay hearts, and of course edberg’s volleys!

Of course, please elaborate – always love to hear other’s perspectives.


harry Says:

that is true — hingis had such a charming smile :)

my favorites belong to 2 categories: “artists” and “engineers”. i am not able to find the right words (so double-quoting them). for the artists (becker, edberg, steffi, guga, hingis, fed and murray) things came naturally without any thought. the second category had to change their own games (or mindset) significantly to breakthrough; these are: agassi, pete, rafa, djokovic, and serena.


mat4 Says:

It suddenly occur to me that almost every time I watch Rafa winning, his opponents looks good, and most of the time I watch Nole play and win, his opponent looks out of form.

But then, it must be the style of play. Rafa allows his opponents to play their game, and eventually seems to ask “is that all that you got?”.

Yesterday Berdych looked great. You had the impression that he needed just a little bit of luck, or nerve, to win the match. Djoko, years from now, thought “he was in command” in the same situation.

Compare Berdych to Tsonga, who played brilliantly against DelPo. A poster on another site thought he served under 50% in the first set against Djokovic (it was about 70%). In the second set, I thought he was injured. Djokovic is the most dangerous when he can pin a weakness and play on it. That’s why he has difficulties against Ferrer, or Xavier Malisse: those players are perhaps without enough power, but without obvious weaknesses. He can’t make them look bad.

Against Fed, tonight, it will be a question of serve and return. Novak has to return well, to put many balls in play. Roger plays with lot of risks, and he needs to stay fresh to sustain a high level, to limit his number of errors. Federer has tremendously improved his backhand, and it could be a decisive factor. Anyway, it should be a good match.


MonkeyMuffins Says:

Serena has withdrawn with injury…

WHAT A WEENIE!

Top story: Djokovic v Murray Halloween Friday In Paris; Raonic, Ferrer Fighting For Final London Berth
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