Djokovic Seeks Fourth Australian Open Final, Can Ferrer Play Spoiler? SF Prediction
by Sean Randall | January 23rd, 2013, 10:41 pm
  • 124 Comments

For the second straight year and third time overall Novak Djokovic’s road to the Australian Open title takes him through David Ferrer. Djokovic beat Ferrer back at the 2008 Australian Open when the Serb won his first Slam and then again last year in the quarterfinals. Both matches ended in straight sets and both resulted in eventual Djokovic titles.

These two also played last September in a strange one. In the gale force winds, Ferrer raced out to a 5-2 lead in the first set of their US Open “Super Saturday” semifinal clash before a severe storm hit the New York City area late afternoon forcing the tournament to evacuate for the day. Both players returned in much calmer conditions Sunday and Djokovic had his way with the Spaniard beating him in three comfortable sets after surrendering the opener.

The weather tonight shouldn’t be a factor aside from the Melbourne heat. But both guys should be OK even after they each had their struggles. Djokovic was of course pushed to the limit by Stan Wawrinka four days ago and then Ferrer should have lost to Nicolas Almagro who mentally couldn’t convert three chances to serve out the match.

So we are left with the top two seeds in the top half of the draw meeting in the semifinal for a second straight year at the Australian Open.

Their overall head-to-head is heavily in favor of Djokovic 9-5 with Novak having won all four meeting in Slams losing just one set. And unfortunately for Ferrer, I don’t see how he can beat Djokovic in this situation unless Novak is suffering somehow.

“I need to be aggressive on the court, that’s for sure,” Djokovic said looking ahead to Ferrer. “I need to step in and try to be in control of the match, otherwise he makes his own rhythm, he makes his own pace on the court. That’s where he’s very dangerous. He’s a great competitor. He’s somebody that has a lot of respect from all the players because he’s playing so many tournaments and works very, very hard. You can see because he’s basically in his 30s one of the fittest players around and is playing the best tennis of his life in the last 15 months. It’s the semis of a Grand Slam, so I expect a tough match.”

And a tough match it will be, but only to a point. While both guys are two of the fittest on the planet, the difference is power.

As we saw, Wawrinka has the ability to hit winners and so does Berydch, who both can damage Djokovic. But Ferrer just doesn’t have that sustained power to hurt Novak. He can move him around and maybe tire him out (unlikely), but can he hit winners from the corner of the court on a consistent basis? I don’t see it. So unless Novak has a bad day at the office or ate a bucket of gluten for lunch…
The pick: Djokovic in three

Women’s semifinals are on at the moment on ESPN with Sharapova and Li Na. Li Na’s power game is putting Sharapova on her heels. Can she keep it up? In the later match I think Victoria Azarenka stops Sloane Stephens’s Cinderella run pretty handily.

Looking ahead to tomorrow night, no real surprise Roger Federer and Andy Murray meet in the semifinals. Murray’s looked good but he’s been largely untested. Federer has been very sharp against a very tough draw. If Roger serves well I think he’ll get through. But more on that one later.


Also Check Out:
2010 Australian Open Tennis Predictions
Oh No! Rafael Nadal Says His Back Is Hurting Again
Nadal Seeks 7th Barcelona Crown Sunday Against Ferrer; Azarenka v Sharapova In Scream-y Stuttgart Final
Tsonga Seeks Second Marseille Crown Against Berdych; Spaniards Ferrer, Lopez Also In Finals
Murray Eyes Asian Sweep, No. 3 Ranking In Shanghai

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124 Comments for Djokovic Seeks Fourth Australian Open Final, Can Ferrer Play Spoiler? SF Prediction

Nirmal Kumar Says:

It’s a tough one to pick between Roger and Murray. I believe if Roger plays his best, still Murray cannot beat him. Roger’s serve would be the key as always and his movement. Roger movement is terrific so far in this tournament, but did the Tsonga match take away anything from Roger’s body would be a question mark. If Roger moves around at his best, then he would be the clear favourite.

Mostly Murray had beaten Roger when Roger’s movement has not been that good. Nothing to take away from Murray, he is a terrific player. But still he does not have the powerful forehand which Novak has to trouble Roger. Novak probably has the best CC FH in today’s tennis. That’s where he has been able to trouble Roger.

But to have a competitive final, I would prefer Murray over Roger if Novak gets through his semis. Novak is turning out to be a bad matchup for Roger and once Novak is in finals, I don’t see a chance for Roger to beat him. A Murray – Novak final would be a better one.


Nirmal Kumar Says:

If Novak can make Berdych look so ordinary, I’m not sure what he can do to Ferrer. Ferrer is probably a 70% player of what Novak is. So not sure what kind of rout this match would be. Maybe a decent set should be the maximum one could expect. Let’s see.


skeezer Says:

Regardless, congrats to Rog on his all time unbreakable record of 33 semi finals in Slams. A record for all time and……unbreakable !!


Tz Says:

^ who knows, SUPERMAN NOLE might make that 66!


skeezer Says:

^lol Tz….then he better hurry up! ;)


Tz Says:

Why? Don’t you think he has a chance? ;)


Humble Rafa Says:

If the Unkempt One beats the Egg Lover and the Lady Forehand beats the Arrogant One, and the Unkempt One beats the Lady Forehand on Sunday, we can have one big funeral around here.


andrea Says:

nice win by li na. sharapova who?

seems to be a bit of buzz surrounding azarenka’s ‘medical’ time out after failing to close out the match @ 5/3. not sure how they can monitor situations like that.


mat4 Says:

Roger has set another record… Congrats to his fans, especially Skeez.

But honestly, I don’t see how anybody can beat Murray in this tournament. The surface is slow enough, and he has enough consistency to beat Roger and enough power to beat Novak.

Roger has played a five setter against Tsonga, and could be a little tired for the semi. As I see it, everything will depend of Roger’s BH DTL. If he can play it often with good depth, he can make Murray doubt. Good serving will be important, too.

Andy’s biggest problem, in my opinion, is that he needs time to adjust: against Novak, in 2011, he needed two sets to understand what he has to do. At the WTF, last year, against Roger, he got confused when he realized he can’t break Roger’s BH.

Novak has played very well against power players: with his new racquet, he manages to be more aggressive when he plays three to five feet from the baseline, and absorb better the speed of the opponents’ ball. But he still doesn’t play well enough when he steps into the court.


alison Says:

Mat4 hope your right about Murray.


mat4 Says:

alison:

Hope I’m not…

Anyway, I thought you rooted for Ferru this time…


mat4 Says:

First break…


alison Says:

Mat4 i would love for Ferrer to make it past Novak(tall order i know),and if he were to win the final it would be amazing,a 1st time GS champion or a 1st time AO champion,ill be happy either way,sadly i dont believe Ferrer believes he can beat Novak here anyway,and he has nothing much to hurt Novak with anyway,so i will hope for a new AO champion,lets go Andy.


alison Says:

Looks ominous already Novaks returning great,i will still carry on watching unless it becomes too much of a beatdown.


alison Says:

Grrr dissapointing should have held serve there.


Tz Says:

Good practice for nole before the final


Tz Says:

^ according to that article, the FEDAL H2H is 20-10. Damn… I missed the last 2 matches when fed lost to rafa!


alison Says:

Ferrer/Djokovic match has that all too familiar feeling too it,was hoping for a really competitive match,so dissapointed.


mat4 Says:

@Tz:

Me too. Perhaps there are anticipating?


mat4 Says:

Novak said that Ferru is one of the most respected players. He shows how much he respects him right now…


alison Says:

This is merely looking like a practice match for Novak,i will congratulate him now on reaching the AO final for the 4th time,well done super Novak.


Daniel Says:

Dann. djoko level in this match is amazing. There is nothing Ferrer can do. Seems he thought: need to savy energy for the final. He is blasting winners, going for BH DTL and not wanting to stay in long rallies. Amazing!

Hope Fed x Murray to be loopside for the winner. Last thing they need is get enrolled in a 5 setter, since Djoko will finish his semis a day earlier and in 1:30 hs.


Daniel Says:

Maybe Djoko is feeling a little tired. Because he is playing to finish fast in a way only seen in 2011. He ia going for hia shots all the time and 90% are going in.


Giles Says:

Tz. The writer is probably thinking ahead! Lol


Daniel Says:

I saw last 8 games and counted 6 drop shots from Djoko. Unusual for him but is working fine.


alison Says:

Wow too good,congrats Novak and fans,that was some performance,thank goodness no OTT celebrations this time.


Margot Says:

Wow, just wow. Demolition job. Nole looking scarily good but really David had nothing to challenge him.
Come back Rafa, huge hole at top of tree.


alison Says:

Margot completely agree,nice to here you too are missing Rafa.


Daniel Says:

Djoko reaches 6 out of last 7 finals winning 4 Slams, possibly winning 5.

Nadal reached 7 out of 8 finals from 2010 RG to 2011 US winning 4 Slams.

Federer 10 straight finan from W 2005 to US 2007 winning 8 Slams.


volley Says:

from yesterday:-

‘mat4 Says: There won’t be any excuses. He won’t beat Fed..’

and today:-

‘mat4 Says: But honestly, I don’t see how anybody can beat Murray in this tournament.’

your thought process is interesting if not a little confusing.


alison Says:

Daniel just goes to show how consistent and great they are,and why theres such a bridge between the elite and the rest.


al Says:

Is Nole’s shots faster and getting closer to the lines than previous 2 matches? Or just the score lines made me think so? I think he played much better than the previous matches.


Wog boy Says:

volley,

You have to learn to read mat4 posts between the lines;)


mat4 Says:

@Volley:

I was joking with Skeezer.

Every time you see .. (two points) you can know I am not too serious.

It is a convention I started with Wog Boy, the other day, there is a post about it.


mat4 Says:

Anyway, it is very difficult to foresee the results of the remaining matches. Novak was the clear favourite against Ferrer, but the top three are so good, that the result will mostly depend of a point here, a point there, some luck…


volley Says:

@ mat4

okay, I understand..I think.


the DA Says:

@ margot – “Come back Rafa, huge hole at top of tree”

Agreed. The draws need some balance restored. Nobody is stepping up to fill the void.

Nole looked ominous out there – totally ruthless.


alison Says:

I noticed the crowd were rather quiet with their applause after the Azarenka/SS match,i wonder if it had anything to do with the 10 minute MTO she took,when SS had seized momentum in the match,i noticed SS giving the umpire a rather stern look,and she made little eye contact and the handshake was rather cold,it seemed like a clear case of gamesmanship IMO.


mat4 Says:

@Volley:

Anyway, WB, jane and the other Nole fans have strictly forbidden me to write that Nole will win. They obviously believe in the now infamous “mat4 jinks”..


alison Says:

^Meant to say that the handshake was rather cold after the match.^


mat4 Says:

Me too, I would like to see Rafa back. Imagine that draw at the FO:

qf: Rafa-Andy, sf: rafa (or Andy)-Fed, final: fed-nole..


Daniel Says:

My bad, from RG 10′ to RG 12′ Nadal made 8 out of 9 finals winning 5 Slams.


alison Says:

Add to that i hope Li Na now wins the trophy,as i have lost alot of respect for Azarenka now.


Wog boy Says:

… and Nole wins FO. You forgot happy endings:)


mat4 Says:

@WB:

I didn’t forget. Just don’t want to bring bad luck..


Wog boy Says:

5:50am was for mat4.


the DA Says:

Any of the top 3 could get Rafa in the QFs at RG. A daunting prospect for all of them.


Wog boy Says:

mat4,

Sorry, I forgot you tend to that with you predictions.


Wog boy Says:

“tend to do that”


jane Says:

Woot! Nole!

DA, can’t Rafa regain #4 before the FO with the new events he’s adding?


the DA Says:

@ wog boy – glad to see you were able to enjoy a classic match yesterday. Bet the atmosphere was unreal in RLA that night.


the DA Says:

@ jane – I think there’s a chance but aren’t the new events only about 500 points? He’ll have to do better than SFs at Indian Wells and Miami. Maybe it’s possible – I hope he does get back no. 4 before RG but then again it might be interesting.


jane Says:

True DA, the points don’t add up to much. I don’t know how many he’s added – 3 maybe, so 750, and I suppose he can add at Miami and IW. But that’s it. On clay last year he won everything – oh wait, he could add at Madrid too. And Barcelona or did he play? Anyhow, he could reach 4.


mat4 Says:

Don’t you worry. The draws are fixed, so Rafa will land in Ferru quarter. Wanna bet?


Wog boy Says:

the DA,

You are not wrong, high quality match, perfect weather, I couldn’t ask for more. Tsonga gave his best, but his best wasn’t enough for Roger. It was great to see them both relaxed on the net after the match. I loughed when Roger made Tsonga running all the way on his side for nothing (Tsonga lost a point) and as Tsonga was walking back to his half he pretended he is going to hit Roger with the racquet (ball) for making him running for nothing, even Roger couldn’t resist to lough on that. Just shows a little bit of human side of them.


the DA Says:

@ jane – yes, he won Barcelona so he’s got a lot to defend. I’m not even sure what the gap in points will be for him to close.


jane Says:

That’s a cute story Wog boy.

DA, well we’ll find out Monday. That will tell us more about Rafa’s chances.


jane Says:

Sloane was very diplomatic in her post-match interview; it’s kind of refreshing!

http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2013-01-24/201301241359013917679.html


Wog boy Says:

jane,

I don’t know if you remeber Murray’s and Llodra’s match at AO, I cannot think now if it was last or year before, and Andy was really making Llodra working hard for nothing. As llodra was walking by Andy’s chair he threw towel at Andy who was in the chair for making him running around, Andy couldn’t stop loughing.


alison Says:

Jane agree nice post match interview,and congrats to your favorite reaching another final,that was a statement of intent against whomever he faces in the final,you should be feeling much happier now right?


jane Says:

Azarenka in her interview says she had a locked rib that affected her breath. Presumably the doctor’s would confirm that. She said it was from 4-2 and she left it too long (i.e. calling someone). She also said the doctor wanted her to take 2 medical timeouts because she had a knee issue too but she said no as she wanted to get back on the court. Almost the entire interview was about this issue, perhaps understandably.


alison Says:

Wogboy i remember that,it was very funny,it was last year im sure.


alison Says:

Giles lol or is it Jamie.


Wog boy Says:

jane,

Craig Tiley, tournament director,was on TV few minutes ago and confirmed that Azarenka absolutely didn’t do anything against the rules. He confirmed that the situation has been assessed by ITF supervisor on the court and the trainer and doctor. She was entitled on three minutes for every injury and they worked two minutes on each one, rib and knee. All three persons confirmed that in their opinion she needed treatment. Case closed.


nadalista Says:

Have always been #Team Vika but today she really tested my patiance. Will be working on my disappointment so that I’m over it come saturday……….otherwise it’s Vamos Li Na!


jane Says:

alison, definitely, thanks.

Giles, the things you find out on you tube, wow. I guess they have pretty good odds right now.


Giles Says:

Alison. Tis me, not Jamie!
jane. Am not sure how good he is, but I guess we will soon find out!


mat4 Says:

Nole, in the meantine, helped Leconte to recover in his double..


Nirmal Kumar Says:

Novak has put Ferrer in his right place. Though this is a great performance, I’m not sure if he can play the same way against Murray if he gets through.

For Ferrer, he was a much inferior player to Almagro in their last match. It should have been a straight set loss, but he scrapped through more due to Almagro’s poor play.


Wog boy Says:

mat4,

I have seen that, he looks OK as doctor;)


Humble Rafa Says:

I am glad even people with little brains now realize that tennis is poorer without your Humble Highness.


Brando Says:

I’m sorry: congrats to nole for a well played match, love ferru for his fight and heart but we need rafa back ASAP and in the top 4. This match was a foregone conclusion before it started and then the match just reinforced the gap between the top 3 and the rest. Had ferru played fed or muzza he would have lost in straights too. The poor guy has everything except any weapons to hurt his opponent with. We need rafa just at least to create a sense of anticipation for a SF GS. Sure I’m a rafa fan but I believe any true fan of the game, can see my reasoning and agree to this.


Brando Says:

@humble rafa: I think everyone that isn’t a hater realises the game is poorer without your presence. Especially after this SF. Just the haters enjoy your absence.


Ben Pronin Says:

There’s definitely a bigger problem than just Nadal’s absence. The fact that the ATP loses one star player and it creates a tremendous gap. I mean things would definitely be a little different had Wawrinka pulled off the upset, but still. It’s not just that Rafa needs to return, it’s that the lower ranked players seriously need to step up. Big time. Tsonga definitely gets credit. He did what he could. But Berdych’s half effort is unacceptable. Del Potro losing early to a guy with no backhand? Unacceptable. No one worth a lick to actually overpower Ferrer and make for an interesting semi against Novak? Unacceptable!


skeezer Says:

^well said Ben!


trufan Says:

I don’t see Federer winning tomorrow. As great as he is, he is 31+ in age, and after a 5 setter, he cannot possibly be 100% tomorrow. And Murray is playing sharp.

I think Djokovic takes this title. Though I would like Murray to win if he beats Federer. Otherwise, of course, if the unbelievable happens and Federer beats Murray, I will be rooting for Federer.


Giles Says:

Am afraid it is going to take at least two years and a monumental effort for guys like Berdych, Tsonga, Raonic, Delpo, Grigor etc to step up and mix it up with the big boys! #Fact


Ben Pronin Says:

Giles, is it a fact?

Del Potro is 24. That’s prime age. In 2 years he’ll be 26, still prime, but that’s a lot of prime time to waste before challenging the top guys.

Berdych and Tsonga are 27. They’re are the wrong end of their primes. In two years they’ll be 29. They might still be good, but time is running out, and 2 years is way too late.

Raonic and Grigor, ok they’re still young. So that’s fair. But Raonic’s game is still too limited. And Grigor just isn’t there mentally. Maybe in 2 years they’ll get better. I certainly hope they do. But we’ll see. It’s far from a fact.


trufan Says:

Agree with you Ben. Berdych and Tsonga are past their prime (or this is perhaps the last of their “prime” years). They aren’t winning any slams, given how strong Djokovic and Murray are right now, with Nadal still the one to beat on clay, and Federer still around.

Delpo has disappointed way too often for me to now believe he will win another one.

Raonic doesn’t have the game yet. He could, but he has been on the tour a few years now. If he doesn’t crack a slam final this year or next, I would count him out too.

Too early to say much about Tomic or Grigor.

With Nadal being 27 soon, Fed hitting 32, seems like this is Murray and Djokovic’s time. THe only question for me is will Djokovic finally win the French this year. I think he will.


skeezer Says:

If all that you guys are saying is true then in the next few years are we entering the weakest era ever?


trufan Says:

Federer was a late bloomer, relatively speaking – and he fully burst on the scene just before he turned 22. Look at ANY past multiple slam winner (someone with at least 3-4 slams) – they all win at least one slam early on (by 22 or so).

Given that fact, it doesn’t look good at all for guys like Berdych and Tsonga.


Ben Pronin Says:

If Murray goes on to win multiple slams, then he definitely takes the cake as the latest of bloomers.

Skeezer, I really hope not. It does look that way, though. But at the same time, seeing as how much stronger older players have gotten, it’s possible Murray and Djokovic and even Nadal will still be the top guys. But who knows? Maybe there’s an even younger group of guys who’ll show up in the next 2-4 years that will really surprise us and take the tennis world by storm. I really hope that’s the case.


skeezer Says:

Well with Fed’s age, and Nadal not far behind ( considering his injuries ) that leaves 2 off the dock for guys like Tsonga, Delpo, etc. They pretty soon will only have to deal with Murray and Nole, not all 4. Me thinks the lower tier guys will get there big wins after to first to are gone……at least there odds will be better.


skeezer Says:

^ I know I know, Fedal is not over yet…just projecting out….


trufan Says:

There is always (or usually) a 2-3 year lull when transition happens from one superstar to another. 2001-02 was a relatively open time with several different slam winners – transition from Sampras to Federer. There is usually some overlapping player as well (like Agassi in 2000-2003). Similarly, I think 2014 onwards, will see Federer (and I also think Nadal) being largely shut out of the majors, with Djokovic and Murray covering the overlap for a couple of years till the next super star arrives (they always do!). By 2016, Djokovic and Murray will also be 29+, so time would be ripe for someone young to really break through. I think 2013 remains statur quo (these 4 only), but 2014-15 will be very open seasons with new, one time only slam winners.


trufan Says:

Murray is sort of an exception – like Lendl – who had to contend with 3 superstars at THEIR prime. Lendl stepped it up in 1984 and went on to win 8 majors, even with Becker, Edberg and Wilander right there at their peaks.

I have my doubts about Murray – he should win a couple more majors, but I don’t see him winning 8, or anything near that number.

I think the retirement slam numbers may be:

Federer: 18
Nadal: 13
Djokovic 10
Murray 4

Of course, who knows!!


Giles Says:

Ben. Delpo has too many health issues – the guy is just not fit enough. No idea how he pulled off that USO win, must have been his lucky day! Actually, I can see Tomic being some sort of a contender. He has a good game, just needs to sort out the mental side.


Brando Says:

@ben: I agree with your point. Bar tsonga’s showing I think this slam has exposed how weak a threat 5-8 is to the top 4. Let’s face it: ferru has no weapons at all. Berdych will never get over his mental weakness. Delpo’s fitness and movement is not upto the required level. Jo’s too inconsistent and has the look of a ‘nearlyman’. And NO ONE outside those guys is looking like they shall trouble the top 4 anytime soon. IMHO I think the threat of the field to the top 4 is overrated. Then when you consider that fed is 31, rafa is going on 27 and on a 8 month lay off: IMHO how hard is it then really to do well against the field? I would argue not all that difficult for someone like nole and even muzza now!


Ben Pronin Says:

I don’t see 2014 as being an open year at all. Maybe not even 2015. Murray and Djokovic won’t be slowing down. Considering how well Federer has played so far, it’s not like his game is just going to fall off a cliff by next year, either. And even if Nadal just sticks to clay, he’ll continue to dominate there.


Brando Says:

PS: is it any COINCIDENCE that nole become no.1 the year fed hit age 30? That muzza won his slam when rafa was out injured? Timing is everything……


trufan Says:

How far has Fed’s game fallen off a cliff?

Fed made 17 of 18 slam finals (and 14 titles) between Wimbledon 2004 and AUS 2010.

Since then?? 2 finals (1 title) out of 11 slams.

1/11 is quite a drop off a cliff after 14/18.

How likely is it that Fed will perform better in the next 8 slams, than he did in the last 11, with Djoke and Murray even stronger, and him being 31/32/33??


Brando Says:

@ben: IMHO fed will still be fine going forward v the non- top 4 players. However, his age shall show up against those guys. For example, the Olympics. Fed was clearly knackered, gone and listless v muzza in the final. Why? Due to his age, he cannot recover at the same rate as years gone by. His scheduling pretty much admits to this!


trufan Says:

And BTW, of his recent 11 slams, Fed lost FOUR TIMES in the QF (something he didn’t do for so may years before then).

And in my prior post, it should read Wimbledon 2005 (not 2004).


trufan Says:

Fed needs some luck to win a slam. Wish he had gotten Ferrer in his half…..

Sampras never faced a top 5 player when he won the USO in 2002 – that’s luck….


Ben Pronin Says:

^Yeah? Federer wasn’t number 1 when Djokovic became number 1, Nadal was. It was Nadal he usurped. And Federer is certainly playing better now than he was in 2011. 2011 was a pretty off year for the Fedex.

You know I think Murray winning his slam has almost everything to do with Nadal being out. But it’s not the deciding factor.


Giles Says:

For the sake of my sanity and for the sake of exciting tennis, I just hope Rafa can stay healthy and hang in there for a few more years at least!!


jane Says:

But for a while it was just the “big 2″ who dominated: 04-07-ish. And the game/sport didn’t seem to suffer. If there is a marquee rivalry and some dark horses things will be alright.


grendel Says:

@Ben “And Grigor just isn’t there mentally”

Or physically.

I wouldn’t rule out Tsonga, though. Because of his terrible injuries, his “tennis legs” are fresher than his years imply. I get the feeling he is a work in progress. I suspect we have not seen the best of him yet. And the good thing is 1) he is not afraid (a la Berdych)to develop his game and 2)he has the talent as well as the will to do so.


skeezer Says:

^ But there was a great uncomparable contrast with Fedal, same as with Sampras / Agassi. Nole/Andy? Can’t see it but maybe I will be wrong.

______

Fed may not win many more slams but don’t forget he is very capable of knocking out a Murray / Djoker on a Slam. That will have an impact on them winning a bunch of slams if Fed remains competitive the next 2 years….


Ben Pronin Says:

In 04-07, as dominating as Federer and Nadal were, the field was still mixing things up. Just look at how many different opponents Federer faced in the finals of his Australian Open and US Open wins. I mean yeah he won them all but at least there were different guys going on runs. No one goes on a run anymore. At all. It’s one thing to choke to 1 guy (Federer) but to choke against 4 different guys? Every time? Now a great run is making the quarters (Chardy)? I mean, yeah we have great rivalries. But it’d be nice if the field wasn’t so mentally weak. There are tons of potentially great players out there, but they’re all pathetic between the ears.

Grendel, that’s true. Tsonga is willing to improve. But it doesn’t look like anyone else is. Nadal worked hard to complete his game. Djokovic worked hard to complete his. And Murray did the same. It doesn’t look like anyone else is willing to put in all of that effort. What happened to Verdasco? Played great for 2 years then just reverted to top 20, top 25 status. Why?


trufan Says:

There wasn’t really a “big-2″ in 04-07. It was just the “big-1″ – Federer. Nadal won the French on clay, but not much outside. Its only when Fed turned almost 27 and started declining in 2008 that Nadal won a slam outside of clay.

I agree with skeezer – Fed may not win another slam, but can certainly spoil it for Djoke and Murray on occasion. He can still beat them on a given day – its just difficult for him to back it up and beat both back to back now.

Nadal also can play spoiler, since most surfaces are quite slow now.

That’s why I think 2012 was not an aberration (all 4 slams won by different players). Its the start of the “dispersed” era, for at least a few years, where we are unlikely to see anyone with 3 slams in one year.

It was unusual for Fed to do it 3 times (2004, 2006, 2007), then Nadal to do it in 2010 and then Djokovic in 2011. Basically, in a 8 year span, we saw 5 years with one person winning 3 slams. Before that, it had only happened twice in 35 years in the open era (Connors in 74, wilander in 88)


Ben Pronin Says:

Sampras and Agassi were never like Fedal. Yeah the contrast definitely isn’t there with Djurray (Murrovic?) but they still produce epics pretty much regularly now.


Ben Pronin Says:

Why is everyone saying Federer can’t beat Murray and Djokovic back to back? Didn’t he just do it 2 slams ago at Wimbledon?


trufan Says:

Good point Ben. These days the idea of a run is Ferrer reaching the semis. Since the 2010 Wimbledon when Berdych made it, we haven’t seen a single slam finalist other than these 4! That’s 3 years….

The courts slowing down has something to do with it. Raw talent and skill loses out to fitness and speed. These 4 are extremely talented, but are also supremely fast and fit. A new up and comer just can’t handle that, even if he is very talented – which was not the case a decade ago, when courts would reward skill and attacking play more, rather than rewarding fitness and speed.

In the terminology of Athletics, there has been a subtle but important shift in tennis – it has moved from being a 400m type race to a 800m type race. While that might seem not that different – 800m is now totally dominated by the Kenyans, who used to only be known for winning endurance marathons.


trufan Says:

Less than a decade ago, the 2004 French final was Gaudio beating Coria. Gone are those days of seeing such outsiders in slam finals!!!!


trufan Says:

Gaudio, Coria, Verkerk, Schuetler, Costa, Clement, Norman, Todd Martin, Medvedev, Enqvist, – all slam finalists between 1999-2004. Gaudio and Costa actually won too! What an unpredictable time that was – perhaps a bit of a vacuum…..


Ben Pronin Says:

It’s not about having unexpected players make runs and win events, it’s about having more than just 4 superstars.


Brando Says:

@ben: fed can. However, if his match with Murray goes beyond 4 sets then realistically speaking he has a slim chance in the final. He’ll have to face a fully fit, sharp, rested novak on his turf. Meanwhile fed is 31, would have had 2 back to back tough matches and the last time he met nole he lost to him in straight sets- on his turf, WTF! The question mark or doubt v fed is NOT a question of his game, ability. It’s a question of his ability to play back to back tough matches in a best 5 setup and win. It’s purely a recovery issue: and at age 31, I would argue a fair doubt for many to have re fed. Had fed been 25 like muzza and nole, he would have been the undisputed favorite! But he’s 31, hence the doubts!


skeezer Says:

To be honest, I never thought we would be talking about Fed now. The guy amazes me that he is still competing for the top spot……


Ben Pronin Says:

I get the doubts, but he’s not incapable. If he makes the final against Novak, I don’t think it’ll boil down to physicality. Novak has owned Federer at the Australian Open and, yeah, I think he’s figured out how to play Federer rather definitively. But form of the day obviously matters, too.


Brando Says:

@ben: pretty fair and valid points, re fed v nole @ AO and generally.


trufan Says:

WHen did we have more than 4 superstars at a time? Perhaps in the mid 80s, but that’s it.

There have always been 2-3 superstars, but untill a decade ago, many times a player ranked outside of 5, or even outside of 10, made a slam final. That’s what doesn’t happen anymore. Or perhaps can’t.

Other than fitness and speed, the top 4 are also SO FOCUSSED and COMMITTED, and they rarely lose before the semis. And even if someone beats one of them, he can’t beat TWO of them, so can’t get very far.


skeezer Says:

^ They all play defense better that the rest.


Ben Pronin Says:

Trufan, I mean, during the 90s, maybe they weren’t all superstars but you had several guys with multiple slams.

But that’s a great point. The top 4 nowadays are just above and beyond in their focus and commitment, no doubt about it. I guess the real issue isn’t just that they win, it’s that they win easily. I mean, Ferrer just got killed. He’s number 5 in the world and he got killed. And honestly, this isn’t a one off. Djokovic has served Ferrer bagels and bread sticks like crazy in pretty much all of their major meetings. Outside it’s actually pretty even. But why is the guy who’s so damn fit unable to keep up in best of 5?

Because Djokovic is just that much better than Ferrer. Every single aspect of his game is better. And that happens, sure. But why does the field consistently lose to this guy? This guy who’s best and only weapon is his grit!? His grit!! What is that?


rogerafa Says:

“They all play defense better that the rest.”

That really is the key. Their defense is much better than their offense except in the case of Roger. With most surfaces and playing conditions rewarding great defense more than great offense, the prospects for anyone with a poor defense winning the biggest tournaments are slim. This is not to undermine the other great skills of Novak, Andy and Rafa since they really are now very well-rounded players. However, slightly quicker playing conditions will likely improve the chances of players like Tsonga, Berdych, Delboy and even Roger against the defensive trinity.


Brando Says:

Yep: top 4 ( especially rafa, nole, muzza) defensive skills > fields offense. The hybrid surface suits these guys more than the others.


Ben Pronin Says:

The results disprove this theory. No matter how much the courts have been slowed down, grass courts are still very quick if you play to them the right way.

Look at Federer-Roddick in 2009. Or Rosol-Nadal 2012. It will always be a slick surface. So when you say guys like Tsonga, Berdych, and Del Potro would have more success on fast surfaces, it’s only slightly true. Berdych has wins over Djokovic and Federer on grass. Tsonga has a win over Federer on grass. But Nadal beat Berdych, and Djokovic beat Tsonga. It wasn’t just the surface, it always had to do with some mental weakness, too. But not only that, Djokovic and Nadal play big offense on grass. You have to, you can’t win Wimbledon with defense. Murray has also beaten Tsonga at Wimbledon a few times now. And Ferrer, weaponless Ferrer, crushed Del Potro just last year.

And even at the World Tour Finals. Murray and Djokovic beat Berdych and Tsonga. Djokovic then beat Del Potro and Federer. I’ve never really considered Djokovic a defensive player. He stands right on top of the baseline and moves his opponent around ala Agassi. Was Agassi a defensive player who thrived on fast surfaces?

And, again, no matter how much everyone wants to claim surfaces are so slow (and they are pretty slow, don’t get me wrong) Federer has still thrived! He’s tied with Agassi for most Australian Opens! He’s made how many French Open finals? How many clay court finals overall?


jane Says:

“There wasn’t really a “big-2″ in 04-07. It was just the “big-1″ – Federer. Nadal won the French on clay, but not much outside.”

To a degree, this is true trufan and it also explains Ben’s point that Fed faced a variety of opponents in those years because none of them were that consistent (except Roddick).

BUT, having said that, during those years, Fed and Rafa had established quite a rivalry on clay, grass (2 Wimb finals) and even hard court masters (not slams because Rafa wasn’t there yet – in fact they’ve still met in only one HC slam final).

I do think it’d be nice to see more consistency from people like Tomic, Dimitrov, Cilic, Delpo or even Tsonga. Maybe we will in the next couple of years.


trufan Says:

Grass is pretty slick and quick the first week – but not later in the tournament. Look at how worn out the court becomes now. In addition, they have done three things that slows down wimbledon:

1. Balls have been changed.
2. Grass composition has been changed.
3. Courts are rolled harder, so the ball bounces more.

I am shocked to see some of the higher bounces on wimbledon, especially late in the second week.

So there isn’t any real fast, low bouncing surface left.

Rosol beat Nadal (narrowly) because it was second round. The grass was still there. Nadal has come close to losing in early rounds many times on wimbledon – but later on, its almost a bit of a green clay court now.

Federer’s clay record just speaks volumes about how great a player he is – he has a near perfect clay record against players like Ferrer etc. The only guy who really tripped him was Nadal, and on clay.


skeezer Says:

^spot on trufan.


Wog boy Says:

From what I read, USO is low bouncing fast court and yet Federer didn’t win it since 2008. Officaly measured spped is close to 40, whatever that means, AO is around 37, bounce on AO is higher than USO. It is same American company that makes Deco Turf and Plexicushinon but they don’t lay it same way and that is why bounce is higher in Melbourne. The speed of old Reboundace (Australian made) was 34.8 and yet Federer won three titles then. Something doesn’t add up. These are offical numbers and you can find them if you look hard enough.


Nirmal Kumar Says:

WB,

Where did u get this info from regarding the speed of the court. Most player seems to agree that this is a slow HC, but none of them have said that it’s slower than pre-2008 court. Maybe they have made the balls heavier as Murray noted in his interview. I remember Murray saying the balls are actually causing the conditions to be slower rather than the court. We may need to consider that also, not just the court speed.

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ATP - Jul 21 WTA - Jul 21
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Rafael Nadal2 Na Li
3 Roger Federer3 Simona Halep
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 Tomas Berdych5 Agnieszka Radwanska
6 David Ferrer6 Maria Sharapova
7 Milos Raonic7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Juan Martin Del Potro8 Angelique Kerber
9 Grigor Dimitrov9 Jelena Jankovic
10 Andy Murray10 Victoria Azarenka
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