Del Potro Dumps Murray, Gets Djokovic; Can Berdych Really Beat Nadal? Indian Wells SF Picks And Pans
by Sean Randall | March 16th, 2013, 12:31 am
  • 308 Comments

We are down to the semifinals at the season’s first Tennis Masters event. Novak Djokovic leads another strong Final Four that features some, sort of, new faces. Rafael Nadal is back on the big stage after missing seven months of the season. The Spaniard will face first-time Indian Wells semifinalist Tomas Berdych in the early match. Meanwhile, two-time champion Djokovic has a date not with Andy Murray but with a different US Open champion, the surging Juan Martin Del Potro.

Three of the four have US Open titles and the fourth fella, Berdych, probably would have made the finals last fall had it not been for the wind.

On to the picks.

Rafael Nadal v. Tomas Berdych
Much like yesterday when I really wanted to pick Del Potro over Murray but didn’t, I really want to do the same here and pick the upset, unthinkably taking the mentally challenged Berdych to beat the unwavering Rafa.

No one is playing better this week than Berdych. The Czech hasn’t dropped a set or really been pressed at all. And he’s coming off consecutive finals in Marseille and Dubai.

Nadal is rounding into form. He blew out an ailing Federer Thursday night but looked good doing it. So he gets credit for that and I’m sure it didn’t hurt his confidence any. If there was any fatigue from consecutive wins over Gulbis then Roger, the day off should have helped. And he owns Berdych winning 11 straight and 12 of 15 overall. That’s domination. But Rafa has his antennae up.

“He’s playing better and better every year,” Nadal said of the Czech. “He played final in Marseilles, final in Dubai, and now he’s semifinals here without losing a set. He’s doing great. We’ll see. I gonna try my best. I gonna try to keep playing well and try to fight as I did today, as I did yesterday, and we’ll see if I am able to compete well and enjoy another match. Every match is fantastic for me to have the chance to keep playing, and I gonna enjoy the match against another top, top player. Will be another important test for me, and I gonna enjoy.”

Nadal is also a two-time winner in the desert. He likes the courts – the slow surface really really takes to Nadal’s spin, especially under the sun – and he’s experienced in this round having now reached the semifinals for an eighth straight year.

With all that going for Nadal, would I really be crazy enough to pick Berdych here?

The thing with Tomas is he should match up well with Nadal. He’s got the height, hits it flat and can handle the high, heavy spin to his backhand. He’s slow, true, but he’s got that power, easy power they say, off the serve, both wings. Hell, he even hits volleys hard. The problem for Tomas is between the ears. And that’s what’s held him back.

But lately he’s started to make some inroads with multiple wins on big stages over Federer, and he’s played Novak Djokovic tough on a few occasions already this year in losses.

“I think I’m getting closer, but those guys are still running away,” Berdych said of the players ahead of him. “Hopefully one day I can sit and say, Yeah, all that hard work has been, you know, paying off, you know, that I was able to move, even improve the ranking or make a really big results, Grand Slam or some other, and so that’s my actually key and motivation.”

Frankly, Berdych arguably is playing the best tennis of career. And now he’s playing a guy who is still not at his best. Someone who’s still fighting his body, maybe unsure of his footing. And someone who may be content with reaching the semifinals – part of me wonders if Nadal really wants to play Djokovic in another grueling final that could undo all the recovery he’s done to his knees.

Berdych will be in the match. It’s just a question if his head will be when the moment counts. I think it will. Call it March Madness.
The pick: Berdych in three (Golden Rule: Never ever pick Berdych to beat Nadal. Never! It’s just bad business.)

Novak Djokovic v Juan Martin Del Potro
First, JW Tsonga didn’t show up today against Novak. Be it the knee or the head or both, Tsonga was no factor at all this afternoon in a disappointing effort against the World No. 1. But it’s doesn’t matter, Novak will take it as the Serb has now run his win streak to 22. Next, though, is the mighty Del Potro who looked really good today in a three setter over Murray.

Murray played his defense, mixed in with some offense but I was really impressed by how well Delpo stayed in the rallies and waited out Andy who never found this top form this week. Several times Delpo got the better of Murray in backhand-to-backhand exchanges, and with his sneaky speed he was just as good on defense as Murray was. For Delpo, that was one of his best wins in a while I think. And I hope it’s a launching pad to bigger titles down the road. I just don’t think it continues this weekend. Not at Novak’s expense.

Djokovic has won eight of 10 against the Argentine winning the last four all on hardcourt during the second half of last year and this season at Dubai.

“Del Potro is a powerful hitter from the back of the court, big serve,” said Djokovic who did lose to Delpo at the Olympics in a lackluster bronze match. “He moves really well for his height. US Open champion, so he knows how to play on the big stage.”

Delpo, though, is playing the more confident, better tennis of the two. The win over Murray was tough and played in the heat, so if it’s hot again tomorrow might there be some weariness? I don’t know.

But like I said yesterday, until someone beats Novak on hardcourts, you really can’t pick against him even if Delpo has the new Pope on his side. Novak’s fit, he’s hungry and he knows this is his time. He’s the King of Hardcourts.
The pick: Djokovic in three

ESPN2 has coverage of both semifinals starting at 3pm ET. The women’s final will be played on Sunday before the men’s final.


Also Check Out:
Murray, Djokovic Close In On Wimbledon Final; Wimbledon SF Picks And Pans
Nadal v Del Potro, Djokovic v Tsonga; Shanghai SF Picks And Pans
Djokovic v Murray, Federer v Nishikori; Wednesday Miami QF Picks And Pans
Soderling Avoids Choke, Upsets Murray; Roddick Rocks Robredo to Reach Indian Wells SFs
Streaking Djokovic Dumps Federer a Third Straight Time, Faces Nadal for Indian Wells Title

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308 Comments for Del Potro Dumps Murray, Gets Djokovic; Can Berdych Really Beat Nadal? Indian Wells SF Picks And Pans

Michael Says:

Regarding the Sean picks, Nadal Vs Berdych is a given one in favour of Nadal. I am not sure why Sean picked Berdych. Ofcourse Berdych is in fine fettle and looking good, but has he got the goods to beat Nadal especially on these slow hard courts ? The only advantage Berdych will have is it will be played under the Sun and the ball travels faster. That might give him an edge. But Nadal always finds it easy against the likes of Berdych/Ferrer and their H2H record is testimony to Nadal’s dominance. I can see here Berdych extending the match but falls short of felling Nadal. The problem with Berdych is that he falters in key moments of the match when he is ranged against Nadal and today might be no better. So, my pick is Nadal in three. Regarding the other Semi-final, I root for Novak and favour him with a 80:20 advantage over Del Potro.


Vidzy Says:

1st semifinal : Rafa in straight sets. 2nd semifinal : Nole in straight sets. Final : Rafa in three sets.


Andrew Tennis Says:

“part of me wonders if Nadal really wants to play Djokovic in another grueling final that could undo all the recovery he’s done to his knees. ”

If only djokovic was also 32 years old. Then rafa would be dying to meet him on a hardcourt. This guy hasn’t beaten djokovic outside clay in about 30 months!


nadalista Says:

The pick: Berdych in three

Agree with Sean’s pick.

Vamos Rafa!!


Margot Says:

Ah,that blooming Sean jinx at work again :(


Giles Says:

I fully expected Andy to get thru that one. When was the last time Delpo beat Andy? He could have given joker a run for his money, don’t know about Delpo doing the same. Perhaps the Pope will come to his assistance?? Sure hope so!


nadalista Says:

“The Lessor 4″……talk about a back-handed compliment. I hope the said gentlemen get wind of this description and use it to motivate themselves to greater heights:

http://www.tennisreporters.net/archives/10475

Good analysis though.

“Murray and the rest of the Big 4 realize how dangerous Del Potro could be if he stays healthy, which as he has found out is not an easy task.”


Vex Says:

“If only djokovic was also 32 years old. Then rafa would be dying to meet him on a hardcourt.”

Quit your whining!

Federer wasn’t thrashed because he is 32. He was thrashed because he refuses to, or lacks the skills to adapt his game to Rafas.

The score is 6 – 2 to Rafa on outdoor hard courts. All of those matches didn’t happen when Fed was 32 you know! The first of those thrashings happened when Rafa was a schoolboy and Federer was 23 and coming into his prime.

Age has nothing to do with it.


Vvx Says:

“part of me wonders if Nadal really wants to play Djokovic in another grueling final that could undo all the recovery he’s done to his knees.”

Rafa would love to play Djokovic.

A) he has a slim chance of winning.

B) win or lose, he gets a chance to look at Djokovic’s game and understand what he needs to improve before the start of the important clay court season.

C) reaching the final adds points to his ranking to help towards returning to the top 4 which will be crucial to minimising physical stress during the big tournaments.

Remember, he has virtually no points to defend after the French Open so if he stays fit he is going to zoom back up the rankings. Every extra point he gains in the Spring is a bonus.

D) after so long out of the game you can see the enthusiasm dripping out of his pores. Every day that he is fit enough to play great tennis is a blessing for us and for him.

E) rafa isn’t and never will be a coward who ducks a challenge. He has proved over and over again throughout his amazing career that he has the ability to take his licks and come back stronger.

If he can beat Berdych, my bet is he will play the final as if his life depended on it.


Nadalista Says:

^^agree, well said. During Acapulco, before Rafa confirmed his participation at IW, some people said he wasn’t committing to IW because he was scared of a Fed beat down ala 2012.

Well, we know how that turned out……….and of course, deafening silence on that score from those who speculated thus.


Giles Says:

So much hatred and venom directed towards Rafa by some fed fans in the form of Andrew Tennis Geezer. Maybe something to do with the H2H. It is now 19-10.
#VamosChamp


Fleischer Says:

Nadalista,

“some people said he wasn’t committing to IW because he was scared of a Fed beat down ala 2012″

Well said. One fedt@rd claimed that Federer is Rafa’s big daddy….but federer turned out to be a grandfather.


Fleischer Says:

Giles Says:
So much hatred and venom directed towards Rafa by some fed fans in the form of Andrew Tennis Geezer. Maybe something to do with the H2H. It is now 19-10.

#VamosChamp

March 16th, 2013 at 5:15 am
Giles,
The amount of venom and hatred will only increase during the clay season for sure. I am hoping it gets extended till the USO.

The amount of hatred is directly proportional to the success of Rafa on the tour.
So we should just enjoy their posts.


vrael Says:

The amount of hatred is directly proportional to the
success of Rafa on the tour

so true,fleischer.


Humble Rafa Says:

The amount of hatred is directly proportional to the success of Rafa on the tour.
So we should just enjoy their posts.

Cannot agree more. My talents and humility are to be appreciated, not hated.


Sidney Says:

I am 3 of 4 with my draw challenge for IW semis.

I think we’re going to get a Nole-Rafa final. Wouldn’t that be awesome?! Theirs was tennis’ biggest rivalry before Rafa injured his knee in 2012.

A finals matchup will signal that the rivalry is back!


Sidney Says:

Berdych is a tough opponent, but Rafa has shown that his knee is no longer an issue. With Rafa healthy, I pick him to beat Tomas in 2 sets. I just don’t see Tomas winning a set against a healthy Rafa on any surface.

I think the Nole-Juan Martin match will be very similar to their previous matches. JMDP will probably come out firing, and probably win the first set, but he will be worn out by the second and third sets. Nole in 3 sets, with the third a no-contest.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Am I the only one who feels that this is a defining tournament? And that Rafa and Nole will resume their hold of the top challenged as much by Del Potro as Murray?


mridul1 Says:

Randall always fails in forecasting and so he will fail in his forecast of Berdych win(Re his prognosis regarding Federer win over Nadal). I guess he will be right about the win of Djokovic but I guess that will be straight set win


timboyd Says:

i think these matches are broadcast on espn news, not espn2 – they show basketball today.


Daniel Says:

TV,

I feel the same. As much as Fed didn’t played great Nadal was hitting his backhand in a way I’ve never seen before. There was one point he had 9 backhand winners in a 18 game match?!?!?! Not even in RG 2008 de,pmolition he had similar stats. He was also having some free oonts on serve, going for the lines more than usual, specially his T serve.

He was hiitng deep to BH corner and his usal gets from balls thta could be a winner and laneded right in Fed’s foot. He found his range. Off course he is misisng more than old Rafa but because he is trying to be more agressive. He hold Gulbis who was hitting hard and in a roll to in the final games get a win agfter saing a 15-30 game with Glbis 2 points away from victory.

He is not taking this tourney as pratice. He is going for it. His desire to roll over Fed shows it. Next 3 matches will be very interesing. If he loses to Berdych (not seen), we will get a setback. I am alsomcurious also to see how Djoko will behave when he sees Rafa across the net after so long and if he will impose his HC game or if Rafa new tactics will pay off.


madmax Says:

Vex Says:
“If only djokovic was also 32 years old. Then rafa would be dying to meet him on a hardcourt.”

Quit your whining!

Federer wasn’t thrashed because he is 32. He was thrashed because he refuses to, or lacks the skills to adapt his game to Rafas.

The score is 6 – 2 to Rafa on outdoor hard courts. All of those matches didn’t happen when Fed was 32 you know! The first of those thrashings happened when Rafa was a schoolboy and Federer was 23 and coming into his prime.

Age has nothing to do with it.

March 16th, 2013 at 4:20 am

Vex, who is whining about fed losing? So please also get the facts right. Secondly, are we differentiating now between hard courts outside and hard courts inside? It is 6:6 equal to fed and rafa, 6:0 to fed (that’s only if you are prepared to look at the stats carefully enough, which were posted I think by either Sean or Ben in the last day or so).

Fed has actually adapted to Rafa’s game very well. When will rafa adapt to fed’s on indoor hard court is the question? I forget,you don’t want to talk about reality when it comes to these facts.


Giles Says:

Rafa HATES indoor tourneys. He has always said he loves to play in the sun and fresh air. That is the case. He doesn’t need to adapt his game to play indoors. He no like indoor conditions. #SimpleFact


jane Says:

Rafa & Berd: Nadal in 2. Not only has Berd lost the last 11 times to him, but I just read this: ” Nadal has won 26 of the last 28 sets they’ve played, and [Berdych] hasn’t managed to break the Spaniard more than twice in a match during this slide of 11 straight losses.”

Nole & Delpo: 60-40, edge to Nole. Delpo has not been broken in his last 2 matches and has been broken only 3 times all tournament. He had a losing record versus Andy (1-5, not 2-5) but he won yesterday anyhow. Maybe he’s on a mission, and is targeting his first Masters. Nole, though, has had a very good stretch against Delpo and just won in Dubai. If Nole returns well and/or if Delpo doesn’t serve his best I think Nole will prevail. But this is the match slightly more likely to have an upset imo. After all, Delpo is a slam winner; he knows what he has to do. Berd is a recent finalist – Dubai and Marseille – but lost both times. There is only the teeniest chance he’ll beat Rafa.

—–

Daniel, I agree – Rafa’s backhand is definitely revamped and he’s taking more risks on serve – although I thought in some matches he went more for percentage, though I could be mistaken. If it’s Rafa/Nole in the final, Nole will be looking at a new challenge for sure. The match up will be different.


nadalista Says:

@jane; I like your confidence in my man! But I beg to differ for the following reasons:

- Berdych has improved since the last time he played Rafa. I personally notice the improvement in his mentality, he is more calm;
- Rafa has yet to play a healthy, quality hard court “specialist” since his return to the cement. We all know Roger was crocked, unfortunately, so he was not a good barometer of Rafa’s level of play. As far as I know, Berdych is healthy so he should be a more representative test.
-Berdych has always pushed Rafa, even if he invariably ended up being beaten in straight sets.

Rafa may beat him but THIS is Berdy’s best chance to get one over him. In this game, you take your chances, if you don’t you have no one to blame but yourself.
-


Fleischer Says:

I agree Nadalista. Rafa will have a tough time with the bird. He is not a punching bag like fed.


Giles Says:

When Bird was asked who he would prefer to play, Rafa or Fed his response was “I know who I would prefer to play”.


marrisv Says:

I agree berdy is playing better tennis than ever. He has become more fit and a much better returner.

Because it is going to be a day session under hot sun and the elements, the ball will jump and that will help rafa. Either way this is going to be a tough match for rafa


jane Says:

Agree marrisv, about the sun and high bounce.


Vvx Says:

“So please also get the facts right. Secondly, are we differentiating now between hard courts outside and hard courts inside? ” – madmax

Of course we are. Do you play tennis?

Indoor tennis favours the most skilful servers who become almost untouchable once there is no wind or sun to contend with. Getting the all back in play effectively is much more difficult indoors than out.

For heaven’s sake a retired Sampras pushed Federer hard on indoor courts in exhibitions because even two steps too slow, with that serve he ain’t ever going to be easy to break indoors. Do you think a three years retired Peter would have even be able to win a game against peak Federer on an outdoor hard court like Indian wells? Please!

Nadal throughout his career has probably been the best player there has ever been once the rally goes longer than four shots but he has to get an effective return back in play first.

Federer has one of the most effective first serves that has ever been seen in tennis. Nadal’s serve wouldn’t even make the top 100 on the all time list.

That is why Nadal will probably never beat Federer on a fast indoor court unless Fed is injured or has a nightmare serving day. Nadal simply will not be able to create enough opportunities to break serve.

That isn’t a tactical failure but a technical failure the root of which is probably that serving is essentially a throwing motion and Nadal naturally throws with his right hand not his left.

On balance the decision to switch hands has obviously been a good one for Nadal’s career but it has left him with a weak serve unworthy of such an otherwise amazingly talented tennis player and athlete.

Nadal with a serve like Federer’s or Pistol Pete’s? Now that is a scary thought. He would be nearing 25 slams by now.


jatin Says:

Roger said he was on his way to withdraw at the beginning of the second set but didn’t out of respect for Rafa.
I have no words to describe this man! Unreal respect and sportsmanship! It’s not possible to be this amazing I even remember the World Tour Finals of 2008 when federer was playing against Andy Murray in the round robin match…Federer had this unbearable pain in his back in that match,he was taking back massages in every change over but the guy finished the whole match inspite of back pain…he could easily quit that match but he didn’t..at the end he sucked every bit of energy out of murray…Murray lost his match against Davidenko after that…

As for today’s match .Nadal will thrash berdshit


Steve 27 Says:

This the chance to Berdych to finally defeat Nadal. This is best level the Czech it has showed in his career. It is the maturity that allows him to take with calmer the rallies. If he does not conquer to this rusty Nadal now, then when?


Steve 27 Says:

Nadal with a serve like Federer’s or Pistol Pete’s? Now that is a scary thought. He would be nearing 25 slams by now.

Indeed, really scary one!


Sirius Says:

How about “Federer with a backhand like djokovic’s” ??

His opponents might wet their pants by this thought!


nadalista Says:

For Rafans:

TONI NADAL: “Rafa feels like going to Miami, because he has been playing well and it’s been a while, so he still can’t wait to compete, but he hasn’t decided yet, cause very hard clay swing is coming & he knows that the sensible thing is not to go to Miami.”
(Rafael Nadal Fans Facebook)


andrea Says:

i have to say, after watching part of the wozniaki/kerber match last night, i’ve lost some respect for caroline. she was desperate to start throwing off kerber, who was in full flight, and proceeded to keep a barrage of ridiculous moon ball lobs in action even when her return wasn’t defensive. i mean, credit to her, because it eventually worked, but kerber was quietly seething on the other side of the court. made me wish for serena to show up and just flatten her.


rogerafa Says:

It seems Rafa is highly confident now. I wanted him to skip IW and Miami earlier but going to Miami can only be good news now. It indicates everything is fine. Without Roger and Rafa, Miami would lose some of the sheen.


contador Says:

The Bird stands a chance maybe because Rafa will not want to work too hard with clay court season coming up. But Bird will need to keep his wits. Rafa will not want to go 3 hard sets to turn around and likely play No1ee tomorrow. But the Bird might make this too easy for Nadal not to win, depending on Bird’s mental condition.


nadalista Says:

Rafa just ran around his backhand to hit an inside out forehand, progress! He was having difficulty executing that move because of his knee up to now….


contador Says:

LOL…del Potro “has the new pope on his side” Sean.

Djokovic in 2.

Nadovich – Djodal – Rafole – Nofa Final

Uncle Toni said so: Show’em all who is Boss, son.


contador Says:

haha…poor Berdych.

Nadal is barely trying. Berdych close to beating himself this game.


Fleischer Says:

Nole has to watch out. Rafa’s game is SHARP !!!


jane Says:

Rafa winning fairly easily thus far. Let’s see if it stays this way. Deuce.

Looks hot – anyone know the temp there?

Hi contador!! :)


Daniel Says:

Nadal auing great bit you can see that playing this agressive is not his natural game and that’s ehy i coubted 5 FH errors teying to finish the point in “easy” balls.

But again, he doesn’t want to engage inlong rallies anymore, after 2 balls directing to BH he tris to bring a shot to kill the point not in that shot, but next one. I think he is playing eay better than IW or miami 2011.


Daniel Says:

31C Jane


Daniel Says:

I have to stop typing, sorry guys:). I am annoyed to no see properly up close. Just watching matches.


Fleischer Says:

First set over in just 43 mins with a score of 6-4.

Is it really Rafa playing out there ?


Daniel Says:

My irony scenario is becoming true more and more. Nadal doesn’t win a HC title in 30 months and now 1 set away from title match in his first HC tourney back after 7 months injury layout. Bizarre to say the least!:)


jane Says:

Rafa and Berd both with 12 UEs, Rafa with 9 winners to Berd’s 5. Rafa serving much better than Berdych – winning 76% on firsts and over 50% on seconds.

As I predicted, Rafa will win in straights.


jane Says:

^ Unless Berd finds another gear serving-wise. To me, that’s his only and best shot.


jane Says:

Daniel, thanks – yes it looks like it’s warm.


nadalista Says:

Umpire gave Rafa a time violation and Rafa got mad. That’s the last thing you want to do ’cause Rafa plays better when angry….


Fleischer Says:

Daniel,

Its bizarre for fedt@rds, but great/wonderful for tennis fans.


nadalista Says:

Still early @jane, remember Dubai. Berdy was outplayed in the 1st set by Fed but ended up winning in 3.


Ben Pronin Says:

Nadal, the guy who hates hard courts and has long struggled to win titles on the surface, winning his first hard court title in 30 months after being out for 7 months against the very best players in the world… How is that great/wonderful for tennis fans? That would just make everyone look terrible and embarrass the sport as a whole.


Daniel Says:

Fleiaher it will be an achievement but it is bizarre in general for everybody, nothing related to X or Y fans. The guy can’t win a HC title for more than 2 years and than he return to HC after 7 months lay off, having played last match on a simialr surface 11 months ago and he will win it?! If he indeed does, clay sweap and RG is his. We can just fast forward to grass:)

Of course on his side he has a revamp game, hitting flatter BH and FH, playing more inside the court, trying to finish points faster.


Fleischer Says:

15-30….pressure on Rafa’s serve…..40 seconds later Rafa walks back to receive after 3 fabulous first serves.


The fighter Says:

So Daniel Rafa sud deliberately tank to make others look better?


Daniel Says:

Oh, and I forgot his serve which is giving him free points. Regardless of being a fan or not, this is how Nadal should be playin tennis. And I like what I see a lot!


The fighter Says:

Ben Pronin

Remember Rafa has won hardcourt slams before


jane Says:

“That’s the last thing you want to do ’cause Rafa plays better when angry….”

That’s “Madal” ;)

nadalista, I suppose it’s possible Berd can come back, especially if he serves better than in set one. But it’s matchup right? Berd is a bad match up for Fed but not for Rafa. Moreover, Rafa has made some changes that make him even more difficult to beat on this surface. As much as Berd may’ve improved, I’d say Rafa’s improved even more.


Fleischer Says:

Ben and Daniel,

How did you feel when the guy who was basically playing third fiddle for 5 years, won each and every match he played in the first six months of the the year ?


contador Says:

That is a good point, Ben. Exactly – intimidate all of them. He very humbly wants to be #1 again, really is there any doubt? He’s a competitor.

Hi Jane!! It looks hot out there. Sitting in that court on a hot day – you just bake. A northern climate thermophobe like me wilts.


Daniel Says:

No the Fighter. I find this maych way more compelling than any other Nadal match i have ever saw, maybe US Open 2010 when he was utterly agressive. I am just pointing out that is goig to be the most bizarre achievement, specially if he beats Djoko in the final (beating #2, #6 and #1i in a row, plus gulbis who was on a 11 match win streak, since Johanssom won AO a decade ago.


The fighter Says:

I love Madal


The fighter Says:

Hmm Daniel…I would be looking forward to that bizarre achievement as I am a Rafa fan. However, it will be very difficult


Daniel Says:

Guys, please remove the Nadal glases out. Anu player in this situation would be a bozarre achivement. But we all know Nadal and A very few other are on a league of their own bit noody saw that coming. Trully, do tou guys actually thougt that ge could win beating 3 top 10eners in a row after having auapicious of not even playing?! C’mon!!!


Fleischer Says:

“since Johanssom”

I think Rafa is a slightly better player than Johanson.


contador Says:

Not a good idea to make Rafa mad or angry.

Djokovic says the calm mind wins, so claims one of these commentators. But that does not apply to McEnroe or Nadal.


The fighter Says:

True I did not expect it but as is said, we like windfalls


Fleischer Says:

Daniel,

If someone does something which nobody expected would you call that bizarre ?


Daniel Says:

Maybe I am just surprised by this level. I don’t remember seen him play this good on HC 3 matches in a row. Don’t ou as a Rfa fan are just deligtes to see that. This is sahping up o change the whole season and maybe a few kore years to come, of corse all depending on knees as well?!
I am a Fed fab and I am judt hopi g he gets 1 more Wimbledon before he retires and that’s it. This is the final achievement I am expecing. I will enjoy seen hom play tb and live whenevee possible but I will follow tennis as always. And thai Nadal changes the whole thing.


Daniel Says:

No, but in this Situation we have 3 variables: 30 months without doing it; return from injury lay off; first tourney back in this surface after 11 months. It is just too much oing against him:)


Ben Pronin Says:

Well when Djokovic went on a tear, it was shocking to everyone. But I was never surprised since his issue wasn’t his game (when he got his serve fixed) but his mentality. He’s been number 1 for 2 straight years now since he became mentality unflappable (for the most part).

This is a completely different situation. Nadal is, no doubt, a great hard court player. And his success in Indian Wells specifically speaks for itself. But his draw has been littered with the guys who have been controlling the sport during his absence. And if he does face Djokovic in the final, the hard court king, and beat him, that makes the sport look like a complete joke. Of course he shouldn’t tank. It makes Nadal look, simply, beyond incredible. But you can’t sit there, even as a Nadal fanatic, and think this is the norm for anyone.


Daniel Says:

Rosol match was bizarre!


Ben Pronin Says:

Fleischer, yes, that’s the definition of bizarre!


Fleischer Says:

Nadal’s best ever level on HC was the first set in IW final 2011.


The fighter Says:

Rafa makes staying awake late at night worthwhile


Fleischer Says:

Ben,
Then what abt Fed’s 2004 to 2007 and Nole’s 2011 seasons ?

Did you see that coming ?


Ben Pronin Says:

^Wasn’t his first serve percentage like 25?


sheila Says:

i’m neither a nadal or berdych fan, but it is so predictable, nadal will win. berdych has the game but is mentally not strong enough to believe he can win nadal. my prediction, now that nadal is back, it will be all nadal & djokovic again. if delpotro wins djokovic & berdych beats nadal in semis then i will be a believer that others can crash the dynamic duos party. hasnt happened yet & i doubt it will.


Daniel Says:

Thanks Ben, this is what I am trying to say!

But regardless of win lr lose this Nadal came back to stay and he will be contestong everytourney he plays, as it should ve for a top 5 (soon to be top 4 player) and nothing of that bo.($:&@/ some were lreqchin that he should just akip HC and play clay and grass.


jane Says:

Rafa coming back and winning on clay was not strange at all. I knew he’d be “back” like that. But of course it will be pretty striking if he wins IW since it’s been a while since he won a HC title, and moreso, he’s been off hard court and competitive matches on the surface since last year in Miami, so almost 1 year not playing hard court. It will be quite something if he wins in his first event on it!

As for Nole’s streak, he only made the top 3 at the end of 2007 and his streak began at the DC in 2010. So he played 3rd fiddle only 3 years not 5. ;) But Nole always plays well on hard courts and early in the year; that’s where he won his first Masters (Miami 2007) and his first slam (AO 2008). So his streak at the beginning of 2011, while amazing, was during his best time of the year and on his best surface. And it lasted only through 2 events on clay and then ended.


nadalista Says:

Berdych is not playing badly at all.


nadalista Says:

Guys, stop getting ahead of yourselves, he hasn’t won THIS match yet!


Daniel Says:

Fleishee,

Everybody saw that coming from Fed after he beat Sampras in 2001 Wimby. We can safely say he was the most overhyped tennis player to date. Thank god he delivered and went the distance. His game was preaised 10 times more than what we saw for Dimitrov now. The hype was huge. 2004 just made all critica looks good, with that: told you so look om their faces, voices and articles:)


Ben Pronin Says:

Fleischer, these are such dumb comparisons. Did you see Nadal dominating on clay from 05-present the way did? Those are comparable to Djokovic’s and Federer’s seasons. Apples and oranges. And I don’t even get the question. Crazy things happen that we don’t see coming. It’s a fact. So Nadal winning this title would be unexpected and, given the circumstances, bizarre.

Why the hell is this offensive to you?


The fighter Says:

@Nadalista
true


nadalista Says:

Berdy starting to turn the screws……..


Fleischer Says:

Out of nowhere Rafa is going to lose this set.


The fighter Says:

oh no! wat just hpnd? berdych back in d match


The fighter Says:

@Fleischer

How did he get broken?


Ben Pronin Says:

Nadal doubling at weird points for sure. Punching his strings, that’s rare.

But Berdych doesn’t have the stones to close it out.


Daniel Says:

See, even that it was a risky shot, Nadal went for the long and forced second server on BP, even when he almost DF before. He lost tha serve and possibly the set, but he went for it. Old nadal would never force that shot.


jane Says:

True nadalista, we are getting ahead of ourselves. :) Let’s see what happens now that Berd has a break. Can he make the match go 3 sets? Perhaps, not certain. Already love-30. Can he get his first win versus Nadal in 11 tries? I still say no. He’s at 56% first serves; that’s not gonna get it done versus Rafa.


Daniel Says:

Madal got mad after DF and now already 0-40 Verdy serving for the set. Order to be restored. And nerdy didn’t have a single firt serve in.


Ben Pronin Says:

Has Berdych made a first serve this game?


Fleischer Says:

Is it really Rafa or God in disguise ?????


jane Says:

My prediction of straight sets still alive.


mat4 Says:

Berdych is my last hope to win the challenge.. I am doomed..


Daniel Says:

Another excelent flat BH return out of a first serve. This is hot is killing everybody. The server go for the open serve to Nadal BH and than bang, the ball returns faster, crosscourt and heavy. This improvement with hos BH overall seems novak aimed.


Fleischer Says:

The fighter,

Rafa got broken because of a couple of unforced errors and a double fault….nothing to do with the bird.


Fleischer Says:

“This improvement with hos BH overall seems novak aimed.”

Thats very true…..he does not have any other challenge on the tour.

Rafa is the true No.2 now.


Ben Pronin Says:

Gonna be 4 straight games for Nadal to close it out.


Fleischer Says:

What a BH return !!!


Daniel Says:

Agree Ben, specially with his returns deep this way.


Ben Pronin Says:

Virtua Tennis is based on Nadal.


Daniel Says:

Nadal is ahing average more than 20 UE per match, but also
His winners count is massive.

Now BP smelling match point.


Ben Pronin Says:

Djokovic aimed or not, Nadal will still have his work cut out for him. Djokovic compared to Berdych: smarter on the court, no mental block against Nadal, uses the angles much better, and most importantly, moves significantly better.


Fleischer Says:

Rafa’s BP conversion is just horrible today.


Daniel Says:

Jesus, this shot sums this match up. Berdy ain’t never going to beat Nadal again.


mat4 Says:

Berdych is really.. Berdsh!t..


Daniel Says:

Agree Ben,

But what I am curious to see is if Djoko would got caugth by surprise with this Rafa and maybe takeing time to adjust. He lost last 3 and wouldn’t be expecting Rafa this soon. Will see, they both have to still win their matchs and consider Djoko 70-30 favor agaisnt Nadal but…


Fleischer Says:

“no mental block against Nadal”

If Rafa finds a way to beat Nole tomorrow the mental block will find its way into Nole.


Wog boy Says:

And what the Berdych does … he choks …properly!


contador Says:

It would not at all surprise me if Nadal wins this IW, nor would it surprise me if he loses.

I’ve seen enough to believe Rafa will again rule on clay and have his sights set, oh so humbly, on Wimbledon and the #1 spot, sooner than later.


mat4 Says:

But the contrary is also true: if Novak wins the tournament, the mental block will find a way into Rafa.

But Novak still has to beat Del Po, and it is not certain.


Daniel Says:

Berdy hasn’t played a BP, because Balda DF the frst and this 3 he couldn’t return:)


Fleischer Says:

Match point


mat4 Says:

Berdych really has to go and search for those missing parts of his brain. How could anybody lose this way?


contador Says:

lol, Nadal is so relaxed out there. Berdych is predictably tight.


Fleischer Says:

Rafa….why r u dragging it like this now


Ben Pronin Says:

This is easily as big as Nadal has served since the 2010 US Open (not just this match but this whole event).


Fleischer Says:

Finally


mat4 Says:

So, I guess I won’t win the challenge.


jane Says:

contador at 4:55 – 100% agree.

nadalista – I told you! :) 2 sets. Rafa. Easy prediction imo. Congrats on your favourite. No wonder he now wants to play Miami; clearly he’s able to dominate hard courts and beat top guys along the way.


Fleischer Says:

Rafa seems to be really happy and enjoying this win.
Ominous signs for the Joker.


nadalista Says:

Unbelievable. I am speechless. How can Rafael Nadal be in his first hard court Masters final? In straight sets? Unbelievable.


Daniel Says:

Congrast Nadal ad his fans. 4th straight final. We can safely say he already played himself into form.

Contador,

Agree, we still have to see him play novak (tomorrow) and Murray, to see if GS Murray can handle new Nadal. But is clearly that he is going to be top 4 again pretty soon, and clay looks his again. Unless he overplays. But the difference is, he hasn’t played a gruelling match so far, contrary to other years.


Giles Says:

V A M O S! V A M O S! V A M O S!!
MY KING!!
Absolutely brilliant! :-)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))


Ben Pronin Says:

Best way to sum up Indian Wells for Nadal: he took a difficult test, obliterated the curve, earned all the extra credit, and answered so well that he was given extra credit on top of that. Or maybe it’s a cherry on top of a cake on top of a cake on top of a cake…


nadalista Says:

@jane, thanks and congrats on your spot on prediction as well!

You know, I just want Rafa to plead the fifth now, withdraw and let them give Novak the trophy! He has spoiled me so much with these results I cannot bear to see Novak make mince meat of him in the final!


Fleischer Says:

Where is geezer the butt lover ?

Rafa has won the match and into the final. Its time for you to spew venom.


Giles Says:

nadalista. Believe!!!


Fleischer Says:

“I cannot bear to see Novak make mince meat of him in the final!”

Nadalista,

Be positive…this Rafa has a fair chance against Nole….I would say 40%.


Wog boy Says:

When Novak didn’t develop mental block by being four years #3 and losing important battles with Nadal and Federer, he never will regardless of winning or losing agains either of them. He doesn’t have to prove that since maniging to beat both of them on regular bases and taking their spot as #1 when both of them were at their prime.
As for Birdych he better change his surname to Birdbrain or Birdheart, but good on Rafa and please, stop talking about injured Rafa with no enough matches, that is BS we all know. He is fully fit, battle ready, in a better position and better game then last year at the same time. That makes even harder for his oponents to beat him now … Not that it was easy before;)


nadalista Says:

Okay @Giles, if you say so, I will believe…..

I feel for Berdych, can you imagine what he must be going through? If he couldn’t beat Rafa today, on this surface, after such a long absence, when will he?


Giles Says:

Rafa has beaten 3 top ten players since his return:
No 5
No 2
No 6
So proud of Rafa. #VamosKing


nadalista Says:

I am still in shock.


Fleischer Says:

Rafa is in the finals.

Its a HUGE dissapointment and bizarre for all the ret@rds who thought Rafa was done.


contador Says:

hmmm, yep. His knees are retooled and so is the serve when he needs it. All parts are working for Rafa. He can get down and dance the “Russian” to get those low balls on one leg, right or left. I used to be able to do the “russian” but had to be able to do 50 one-legged knee bends on each leg – old school prep for downhill ski racing.

Nole could be having 2nd thoughts right now or he is not worried. We’ll see. I would not mind a Delpo-Nadal final. Sort of lean toward Nole saving himself to battle Rafa on clay.


nadalista Says:

GROUP HUG, RAFANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!


jane Says:

Nadalista, I don’t know but no pleading. i think Fleischer’s right. Let’s just see what happens. Nole has to beat Delpo, and he wasn’t that sharp except in the Tsonga match. So who knows? But it is quite a great result. I wonder if Rafa will play Miami now?

I am hoping to see Rafa versus Murray soon, too, Daniel.


Sean Randall Says:

That went as expected didn’t it?


Fleischer Says:

“Rafa has beaten 3 top ten players since his return”

@ of them on HC.


Daniel Says:

Nadal is built on confidance. It all started in Almagro match in Acapulco. Once he passes his first test and saw Ferrer, he grew, destroyed Ferrer and now playing excelent.

As much as I like DelPo the match we need for this first Masters final is Djokal.


mat4 Says:

Ben:

Nadal served better at the USO 2010. He was very precise, this time, but if you watched carefully the speed of his serve, the first was a bit above 110 and the second 85 mph.

But, overall, he played well, very aggressive with his FH, and it seems that Rafans forgot a bit their man because he already had an excellent BH before.

One thing is certainly true: the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry has pushed both players to improve (Federer and Murray improved too, of course). This is the first battle of a war tennis probably didn’t have in the last thirty year, with two players aware that they stay on each other road to greatness, two players with egos like mountains.

For Novak, it is very important to play Rafa on hard the soonest as possible, and to win. It is good opportunity. It seems that Rafa is in better form, but Novak played well against JWT, and he could finally find his marks against JMDP.

Anyway, I’ll go with my man.


nadalista Says:

Thank you, Rafa, can’t ask for more. Good luck in your match tomorrow. Fight!!

Vamos!!


rafaeli Says:

All those fair weather Rafa fans who predicted a Berdych win, you should have more faith in your man.


Fleischer Says:

Good to see a couple of guards always near Rafa when he is signing autographs…..toooo many fedt@rds around….too risky….remember seles.


Wog boy Says:

Contador,

I am really glad to see your posts again.


contador Says:

Delpo wants to prove himself. The best match of this tournament was Delpo vs Murray. Really did surprise me that Delpo won.

I still say Nole in 2. But Nole might be a bit tight. Stay calm, Nole!


nadalista Says:

@rafaeli, guilty as charged!

Mea culpa maxima!!


Fleischer Says:

“This is the first battle of a war tennis probably didn’t have in the last thirty year, with two players aware that they stay on each other road to greatness, two players with egos like mountains. ”

Mat4,

Fabulous post. Nobody could have put this better.


Sean Randall Says:

rafaeli, you mean people actually picked Berdych? Nonsense.


Ben Pronin Says:

Mat4, yeah but since then, when has he served better than this?

Nadal has had great moments with his backhand, but I don’t remember him hitting it this deep. Flat, angled, sure, but so deep? Definitely not this consistently well.

Fleischer, you need to get your head out of Rafa’s ass.

Although I still say Djokovic is the favorite to win the whole thing, but it would be really interesting if it ended up being a Del Potro Nadal final.


mat4 Says:

@Fleischer:

Hmmm.. I often write fabulous posts.. Although I also write monumental stupidities just as often..

But let’s not forget DelPo, who really is in exceptional form.


Giles Says:

Madrid 2006 Bird beat Rafa :
“Berdych left the court to jeers after putting his finger to his lips in a silencing motion following his victory”
Bird hasn’t beaten Rafa since that time.
Warning: don’t mess with my Rafa!!! Lol


Brando Says:

VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!!!

WOW- as a long, long time Rafa fan i have to say i am truly LOVING this new, more attacking brand of tennis that he is playing.

In the past he would be hesitant to take the initiative but now he goes for it alot more- he is not afraid to attack: win the point or not.

And it’s just fantastic to see Rafa play in that manner since truth be told, he has ALWAYS been able to play some brilliant, attacking tennis when he allowed himself to do so.

BOTTOM LINE:

Win or lose the final- Rafa has ALREADY WON in many ways.

How?

1- FIRST HC event in almost a year and he is through to the final- that too in a MS EVENT!

2- He has faced and beat HOT FORM HC player such as GULBIS, world no.6, great form and play BERDYCH and of course world no.3, legend FEDERER.

That is a GREAT ACHIEVEMENT in itself!

3- MENTAL BOOST: Rafa MUST be feeling confident in his game, his body right now. Above all else- he is ENJOYING being on the court- a fantastic starting point in order to succeed!

4- FREE PASS v NOLE: REGARDLESS of the result Rafa will be in a fantastic position at the end of the match.

Why?

- LOSES TO NOLE: So what? NO ONE expects him to win, nole knows he HAS TO WIN, and Rafa gets to see were his game is at and what he needs to do v Nole going forward.

This is a NO STRINGS ATTACHED to the result match for rafa.

- WIN: HUGE, HUGE BOOST!

BOTTOM LINE:

Rafa is in great shape going forward to the clay season and IMHO: i think he’ll improve even more going forward!

It’s also GREAT to see some FED FANS actually enjoying the new style Rafa is playing with.

Great to see that!

VAMOS RAFA!


nadalista Says:

@jane, good luck for your man! I am exhausted, I need a stiff gin ‘n tonic….

Phew..


mat4 Says:

@Ben:

Nor his backhand, nor his second serve were under pressure against Berdych (I didn’t watch his previous matches in IW).


Fleischer Says:

“I am hoping to see Rafa versus Murray soon, too, Daniel.”

Jane,

Rafa versus Nole will be good for you.

But, better hope Murray does not face Rafa anytime before Wimby.


contador Says:

You were yust yoking when you picked Bird, Sean. I knew it. (Missing the soda popper yoking on tour)

Nice to read you too Wog Boy!


jane Says:

Enjoy the G&T nadalista, and thanks. Fleischer, we’ll see. I am scared of Rafa now. :) I hope Nole isn’t!


Fleischer Says:

“Although I also write monumental stupidities just as often..”

Mat4,

I know that too…I remember your post on Rafa’s percieved selfishness.
Just for fun !!!


mat4 Says:

Hi, conty. The bird destroyed my challenge. I was so close to winning. Now, I guess Skeezer will.


Wog boy Says:

Delpo vrey, very smart young man, what he did yesterday, he simply imposed himself, not just the game but his mind too on Andy. At the moments Andy looked so insecure, on the other hand Delpo look so confident even after losing first set. He played within his limits with surprising Andy by by slicing as often as long as needed and not overusing his FH. Andy just crumbled, didn’t have his answer to that game. That were my thinking after rewatching match last night.


Brando Says:

PS:

Whilst i too would like to see a RAFA v NOLE final, for the game it would be good if DELPO were to beat nole and even win IW.

He is the REALISTIC next possible top 4 contender and it would be good for the game to see him win big tournies sooner rather than later.

Of course that would be bad news for the likes of Rafa, Muzza etc but it would enhance the excitement of the game for sure!


Ben Pronin Says:

Yeah because Berdych sucks. But that’s just how Nadal has been playing against everyone. Federer, Gulbis, even the exo in New York. That’s really where it all began, imo.

Brando, 1, we know. 2, yeah but he owns all of them. 3, definitely. 4, no, no free pass. Why? Why does Nadal get a free pass for losing? He’s playing extremely well.


Giles Says:

Brando ” and of course world no. 3 legend FEDERER”. I see you have demoted him already??


Fleischer Says:

Rafa has nothing to lose in the final. Nole will be under a lot pressure. If Rafa wins tomorrow he will be on a 7-0 or 8-0 steak against Joker by the end of the grass slam.


Giles Says:

And now for a glass of Southern Comfort on the rocks! Hmmm


nadalista Says:

Much as I want Delpo to do well, not this time. I want Novak to win this and play Rafa in the final. The sooner Rafa can “size” himself up against the big boys the better. This way he will have a target to work towards in preparation for the clay season.


Brando Says:

@Ben:

Re FREE PASS:

In that I refer to Rafa’s mindset regarding the final.

Win?

What a huge, unexpected boost for him.

NO ONE was predicting him to be anywhere near that possibility at the start of the tourny.

Lose?

Still he walk away with more gained than lost.

He could potentially face Nole and gauge what he needs to do against him on clay- which is Rafa’s stated target.

That is a bonus for him right now.

NO ONE truly expects Rafa to win that final- and Rafa himself probably doesn’t either.

I DOUBT that he’ll place much importance on the result should he lose.

He has EXCEEDED his OWN and EVERYONE’S expectations already and a loss to someone who is UNBEATEN, world no.1 and KING OF HC is NOT going to knock his stride going forward at all IMO.

Hence the FREE PASS reference.

In terms of MENTAL aspect going forward: the final is a WIN-WIN scenario for Rafa REGARDLESS of the result IMHO.


Brando Says:

@Giles:

Re Fed: that was a typing error. Honest.


Fleischer Says:

Nadalista,

Thats the spirit…win or lose….lets face the best and what he can doo


contador Says:

Mat4, I am just getting warmed up this bracket, I went to the bottom after the first round.

I get better as I go. I’ll make the leaderboard for sure this year. you will see!

hmmmm, Delpo is looking…good, prematurely speaking. Delpo gets to the final and he’ll really put up a fight. This would be his first 1000 ATP title, would it not?


Fleischer Says:

Brando,

I think you are slowly trying to fill the void left by Dave…just kidding


Ben Pronin Says:

Fleischer, no.

Brando, I don’t think Nadal sees it that way. Djokovic is his biggest rival. He might not say it but I don’t think he cares what the surface is, he won’t be happy with a loss regardless of the positives he can take away.


Brando Says:

‘Nole will be under a lot pressure.’

COMPLETELY AGREE!

Plain and simple: NO OTHER outcome would suffice here!

IF he were to lose to Rafa on his favored SLOW HC, when he is world no.1, unbeaten since PARIS MS and he still loses to Rafa on his first HC tourny in a year- there is NO WAY on earth Nole’s confidence would not take a huge pummeling!

For him it’s: I HAVE TO WIN- NOTHING ELSE is sufficient in this one!

For RAFA: WIN? Oh baby! LOSE? Excellent stuff- i got to play my main rival on clay prior to clay- what a LOVELY BONUS and PRIVILEGE!


Giles Says:

Brando. I absolutely agree with your post. Did we as Rafa fans really expect him to come this far? I would say no!!
#VamosChamp


Brando Says:

@Fleischer:

LOL re Dave reference.

TBH i MISS Dave’s blog’s.

Hope he returns at some point!


Giles Says:

Ben Pronin. Rafa’s last HC tourney before his return was Miami. He therefore has had no HC match practice coming into IW. He has exceeded all expectations!


Brando Says:

@Ben:

OF COURSE he won’t be happy with a loss!

Rafa is one of if not the biggest competitor in the game!

The man HATES losing and is a sour loser.

YET: he is also a very pragmatic man, who is well aware of his scenario.

He KNOWS he isn’t expected to win, a loss here is not a big deal at all as the POSITIVES OUTWEIGH any possible negatives.

He knows that more than anything else: this is a FANTASTIC OPPORTUNITY for him to play Nole!


Giles Says:

Brando. Shhhhh, let sleeping dogs lye please. Lol


contador Says:

Brando, I have not been posting but given the time Nadal has been not playing, I fully expected him to have it all together again. So what he lost to Zeballos in South America. Nadal plays his cards right. Winning Acapulco – I expected it. Had he not won Acapulco, there would be a little doubt in my mind about his rehabilitation.

Now guessing this may be his year. I doubt he will win US Open but it is time for him to give his all after taking the time off and preparing for his comeback. He comes off as sweet and humble but when he puts his head down on the pillow at night, my guess is that he still thinks of himself as the best and getting back to #1. Certainly he’s not done at the top yet.


nadalista Says:

@Fleischer, don’t worry, my wits are together now! I will be here in full force cheering out boy on tomorrow!

Win or Lose, Rafa is a winner!

Vamos!!!


rafaeli Says:

Sean, you do have a short memory!


Brando Says:

@Giles:

AGREE with you completely.

Prior to this tourny MANY including myself felt Rafa would be wise to skip the HC as he would most probably get played off court and have nothing to gain for the clay season.

He has ALREADY EXCEEDED EVERYONE’S expectation.

A loss to a guy who is unbeaten, on a 20 match winning streak, world no.1, playing on his best surface etc: that WILL NOT change a thing for Rafa and his progress at all IMO.

OBJECTIVELY SPEAKING: The POSITIVES outweigh the negatives for him quite clearly in this one!

VAMOS CHAMP!


Brando Says:

@Contador:

Firstly- great to see you back posting, you were much missed!

Secondly-

‘Certainly he’s not done at the top yet.’

On that wonderful note, i’ll take my leave for now! :-)

PS: Enjoy the other SF. Hope it’s a cracker!


Fleischer Says:

Very True Brando.

If Rafa wins tomorrow its END of the road for the Joker.

If Nole wins, Rafa would take the positives (just like AO 2012 final) and come back roaring during the clay court season.


Fleischer Says:

Delpo is beating Nole on long ralies.


Ben Pronin Says:

Fleischer, really, the end? Kinda like it was the END of the road for Nadal when Djokovic thumped him in back-to-back clay Masters finals… oh wait…


jane Says:

So it’s win-win for Rafa and lose-lose for Nole?

The way I see it, it’s win for the winner and lose for the loser.

And let’s see if Nole can win today first! So far I haven’t seen his best tennis. Still on serve.


Fleischer Says:

Ben,

Yes it was kind of an end for Rafa….because barring a lucky win (FO 2011 against his favborite punching bag) he could not find a way to a title for about 15 months.


Ben Pronin Says:

Fleischer, someone needs to buy you a dictionary.


Fleischer Says:

Hoping to see a long and competive 3 setter now.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

You cunning one..


jane Says:

^ why mat4 why?!


mat4 Says:

For this brilliant remark:

jane Says:

So it’s win-win for Rafa and lose-lose for Nole?


mat4 Says:

You didn’t notice: .. ?


jane Says:

Oh, I was just trying to say it didn’t seem fair.

Anyhow Delpo is playing well. Tight match here. Very never-wracking.


mat4 Says:

Delpo plays an excellent tournament: serves big when he needs it, and he was a bit lucky at break point. But fortune favours the brave.

Novak, although he hasn’t found his marks, plays a very clever game.


contador Says:

By no means is it the end of the road for Djokovic if he loses today or tomorrow, I respectfully must disagree.

Djokovic got over being intimidated or bowing to Federer in 2010 and completely over Nadal in 2011. Nole is a smart, philosophic guy, not to mention, supremely talented is what I think.

Look at him – he is deciding which way to go right now. He’s not in high gear at the moment. If he has to work too hard – so be it, Delpo wins. It is hot out there. And Delpo may have the calmer mind considering the last match results.

My money is still on Nole as is my brackets but..wow have I been wrong a lot this tournament! Not about Rafa though. I hate Fedals as ever, since 2007. So I kept them away from each other. But I called it on Facebook – Nadal in 2 over Federer. You couldn’t pay me to watch a Fedal until indoor hc season.

Novak is yust yoking around right now – deciding.


mat4 Says:

It seems Novak enjoys destroying those “big” FHs..


nadalista Says:

Berdych on Rafa: “confidence seems fully back, no reason why he can’t sweep clay and go deep on grass again.”


jane Says:

contador, it is so nice to see you posting again.


Wog boy Says:

About time to break after 7BP.

Still long way to go,


mat4 Says:

@jane:

Your opinion about the first set?


mat4 Says:

Hi, WB!

At least, he had seven BP..


jane Says:

mat4, not Nole’s best, but he still won it. Phew! :) Happy camper.


Wog boy Says:

“yoking” what exactly that means.


jane Says:

^ Joking Wog boy.

You’re right – still a long way to go. Nole needs to stay focused. Delpo lost the first set versus Andy too.


mat4 Says:

I am impressed how he played at the net.

Hope he won’t get broken at the beginning of the second set.


Wog boy Says:

Hi mat4,

Very smart move by Delpo, breaking Nole’s momentum and buying time ro recover, he was worn out after first set.


contador Says:

I am being silly and imitating Robin Soderling’s comment in his adorable Swedish accent “yust yoking,” Wog Boy. If you are from Sweden your English does not include a hard ‘J’ phonetically. I’m a big Soderling fan and miss him on the tour,


andrea Says:

and that is why you can never count on berdych to deliver. meltdowns in the key moments.

delpo just whaling on the ball in the last few points of the 1st set and novak getting everything back. nice break in the 2nd.


Wog boy Says:

He should shake off this first game as quik as possible.


Wog boy Says:

And he did it.

Thanks jane, contador.


jane Says:

Three straight breaks. Can Nole make it four?? Delpo is really digging in here. Much like in the second set yesterday.


Vvx Says:

“WOW- as a long, long time Rafa fan i have to say i am truly LOVING this new, more attacking brand of tennis that he is playing.”

It isn’t new. It is how he used to play before he realised that patience was the key to clay court domination and that patience leaked into his games on other surfaces.

The way he has played this week takes me right back to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1apISwdYCrA

… especially the backhand and the net approaches.

Anyway …. VAMOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!


mat4 Says:

On one hand, it is important for Novak to be tested. But on the other, it is more important for him to… win.


courbon Says:

@ Mat 4: You are very philosophical tonight.What about this:
If he wants to win-he shouldn’t loose?


Daniel Says:

And to win in 2, to sace himself the most for tomorrow. With him and Nadal we never know how long they will stay on court. He will be already 2 hours less but at least he only spend 53 minutes versus Tsonga, so if if ere goes to a long third set doesn’t seem fitness will be an issue.


mat4 Says:

@courbon:

Novak has to change something in his game, and fast. Perhaps.. his opponent? ..


Wog boy Says:

mat4,

Delp changed his game against Novak and it works, so far.


mat4 Says:

WB:

No, in fact he didn’t change much. He wants to play the same game he played against Murray. In the first set, Novak went successfully to the net and didn’t allow Delpo to slice, and played much better his II FH.

Novak certainly has to find an effective way to fight against this kind of Delpo’s “clay” game, if he wants to win the FO, because he was almost weapon-less in the second set.


jane Says:

Third set again for Delpo; can he win this one like he did against Murray?


Wog boy Says:

mat4,

When I said changed game, I was thinking on previous matches not this one. Delpo doesn’t force issues and slice and waits for clear FH, that is the change.


jane Says:

Nice job Nole! Pedal to the metal young man. Ole and Ajde!


Daniel Says:

Damm, Delpo is hanging in those long exchange.


jane Says:

Nole could use more first serves!


contador Says:

I do not care who wins here. Djokovic just dropped the 2nd set to Delpo.

At this point maybe leaning toward Delpo unless Juan Martin plays so badly that Djokovic wins this third set easily.

Maybe Djokovic just wants more practice time on center court. Djokovic is not playing in high gear.

Djokovic is playing casually. Too casually maybe. Actually neither are playing their best.

Djokovic is the fresher of the two.

But Rafa has to like what he is seeing.


mat4 Says:

That’s an usual phenomenon on slow surfaces, with long and taxing exchanges: the player serving second — first after the changeover — has an important advantage, because he is fresh when serving.


jane Says:

Yes, Rafa’s been resting for a while; he’ll be chomping at the bit contador.


courbon Says:

@ Mat 4: ‘If he needs to change game then he v=can not change the game’ Karl Marx


mat4 Says:

This FH is still not working. It’s gonna be a long set for Novak. He could make a first serve, when we’re at it.


Daniel Says:

DelPo resilient!!


jane Says:

“Djokovic is playing casually. Too casually maybe.” – agree.

And 36% first serves is shite. Excuse my Scottish.


contador Says:

Yeah, that stat does not surprise me, Jane.

To me, it appears as though neither one want this win too badly.

At this rate, I just as soon see Delpo win.


jane Says:

contador, I am beginning to feel similarly. Nole just isn’t sharp.

Maybe Delpo would make for a better final with his Pope Power.


contador Says:

Bring back Gulbis for round #2 vs Nadal.


Daniel Says:

Djoko shots doen’t have that confident aproach anymore. And he could use some more first serves. He is not goign for aces anymore, just serving average speed.


contador Says:

Wow that was a dicey smash by Novak. yeeesh


jane Says:

Nole must be thinking and thinking and thinking. I wonder what? Would love to be inside his head right now. LOL.


contador Says:

I’d call this reluctant tennis by both.


contador Says:

That is what I’d like to know too, Jane. His sense of humor is so good.

mmmm de de de de. that is some pretty awful tennis from Nole.


Daniel Says:

Seems Djoko doesn’t have patience anymore. He is pulling the trigger too soon and missing a lot early in the rally.


contador Says:

Just for the heck of it he throws in some genius tennis and then nets the next one, Nole.


contador Says:

Novak is smiling to himself.


jane Says:

Nole must feel some mixed emotions!

Delpo hanging in there.


contador Says:

Maybe they should just save some energy and draw straws or flip a coin to see who loses the toss or gets the short end of the straw and has to play Rafa.


mat4 Says:

Delpo plays some exceptional tennis right now, and he has shown a lot of heart.


Daniel Says:

Te problem is, this DelPo game won’t work against Nadal. He will eat this slices alive and go cross court exploding to DelPo’s BH. And he seems more tired than Djoko and will be coming after 2, 3 setters.


jane Says:

Well, I said this match was more likely to be an upset, and I was right.

Perhaps Delpo wins his first masters on new Pope Power?!


contador Says:

Ernie could beat either of these two right now.


jane Says:

Nole loses no points which is good. He can go practice in Miami.


contador Says:

That would be so great, Jane. But Rafa appears to have the power, Pope or no Pope.


mat4 Says:

Whatever happens, it will be a big lesson to Novak: you can’t fool around, playing exhos, when he has to work. I remember Sampras telling him to keep it simple. Novak certainly didn’t.

I won’t have to eat my hat..


jane Says:

contador has your fandom for Ernie renewed? I know you were quite disgusted with him for a while there. But I was certainly impressed with his effort versus Rafa hey? Nice to see him playing so well and so focused. Although I thought him a little too casual at times.


courbon Says:

@ Mat 4: I’m not sending you beret…
Well, I guess the streak had to finish one day…


contador Says:

I agree, Daniel. This level of Delpo’s will not work vs Rafa.

One of them lose now, please.


Kimmi Says:

delpo :))))))))


jane Says:

Well, well – congrats to Delpo! Murray and then Nole back to back. He’s going to be tired, but good luck to him versus Rafa!


Daniel Says:

Damm, this is a great week for Delpo. Hope he has some lega fir tomorrow. He sure seems exhausted this last few shots.

Djoko after 3-0 having some mental walkabout.

Ben, at least if Nadal beats DelPo tomorrow it won’t look as bad as beating Djoko:)


nadalista Says:

Delpo’s back.

Rafa’s back.

We live in interesting times.


contador Says:

ah Jane, I am easily charmed by that brat. My hopes are up for Gulbis again.

But… not so sure about his resolve to remain serious about tennis.

Rafa in 2 tomorrow.


Humble Rafa Says:

I play so bad, so bad.


andrea Says:

congrats to delpo for a hard fought win.

i would not want to be playing pro men’s tennis these days. it is so brutally physical. never ending slug fests.


Kimberly Says:

Great job on the picks today Sean, lol.

How about my heat?


jane Says:

^ Oh Sean finally jinxed Nole.


Gordo Says:

Let’s go back just a few days for this -

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Steve 27 Says:
Djokovic or Murray is gonna be the champion. The rest has no chance.

March 6th, 2013 at 2:51 am

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Well Stevie…? Want some mustard on that crow?

Or maybe next time try “I think the winner will be,” or some wording so when you once again are WRONG, so don’t look quite so er, arrogantly inaccurate. :D

“The rest has no chance.” Love it.


Humble Rafa Says:

Nadal’s comeback form was “expected”, says Djokovic

I am glad you, your Eggness is not in the final!


mat4 Says:

And it is finished…

Nole played so bad this whole tournament that it would have been to much to expect to do much more here. He wasn’t consistent, his FH didn’t work, especially on the run. The serve was shaky, at best. He still doesn’t know how to manage slow surfaces and heat, after all those years.

Jelena was here, Marian wasn’t..

We have seen glimpses of real improvements, but like last year, he played worse after the AO. He simply didn’t understand that, with Rafa back, he had to build momentum for the clay season, and to be ready to win their first encounter. Playing exhos and travelling just wasn’t serious.

On the other side, Delpo continues to play well. He played an excellent tournament in Dubai, played well here, and I was certain he would go deep. But I hoped not so deep. On slower courts, his height, his power are really and advantage, and he manages to reach balls he wouldn’t otherwise. On a faster surface, in Dubai, Novak just destroyed his FH on the run. Today, Delpo’s FH destroyed Novak.

Anyway, congratulations for this great result. He certainly deserved it.


jane Says:

Maybe mat4 Nole can go get ready for Miami. At least he loses no points here. But yes, it is time to buckle down.


bada bing Says:

Novak does not lose points and it’s better to lose to Delpo than Rafa IMO.

Will Delpo wave the white flag tomorrow against Rafa like Isner against Fed?


contador Says:

oh yeah. Delpo was not acting I don’t think. He did not have the zip boom bah he had vs Murray.

Maybe something can be done overnight? I dunno.


Brando Says:

VAMOS JMDP! what a BIG WIN for him! He’s beat nole now on GRASS, INDOOR, SLOW OUTDOOR HC- very impressive stuff from him! ONLY clay is left- and he wasn’t struggling v peak nole, and him on his return at FO 11 was he? JMDP is a GENUINE big match, big event player! The GAME is a winner seeing him succeed! more competition at top= more fun watching the game!


mat4 Says:

jane:

I think that Novak will learn the lesson, and start working harder than ever. But he definitely missed a good chance to impose himself. Anyway, this is sport. I also believe that such oscillations in form are normal when you switch racquets. In the last two tournaments he showed a lot of good things, but he just needs to be more consistent.

In this tournament, he played a few excellent sets: the first against Querrey, the second against Tsonga, the first against Delpo. Let’s hope he will peak for the clay season.

bada bing:

Unfortunately for Delpo, Rafa is a lefty, and his present strategy is not well suited against Rafa’s style of play, so I presume that he will have to change something. Then, I guess that Delpo has left a lot of energy on the court in the last two days. But, let’s wait and see.


Brando Says:

PS: nole fans should not be disappointed at all. This loss changes ZERO regarding him and his standing this season- STILL top dog on HC and no.1 for sure! IMO: this is a GOOD thing for him- a kick up the backside to improve since personally other than AO final he has been playing average IMO: one set he plays divinely, next set he’s very average. Too much up and down stuff from him in the same match recently from him IMO! He’ll reach finals in MIAMI at least IMO!


mat4 Says:

bada bing:

I don’t think that Novak would have lost against Rafa. He plays those matches well within himself. Rafa is not a great server, so he can put a lot of pressure on his serve. Then, Novak has a clear strategy that leaves Rafa without a clear plan.

But it is just conjecture now.


mat4 Says:

@Brando:

I am not disappointed by this loss. But I am disappointed by the way he played. After winning the first set, he just expected Delpo to crumble like everybody else.

I think this loss will make more good that harm in the long run.


contador Says:

Well, Delpo played well this tournament. I love Delpo but I think he is out of gas. Of course, you never know, but that is what it looked like.

And it is too bad. Delpo sure could use a 1000 ATP title. He will need some luck. Good luck, Delpo.


jane Says:

mat4, I think it’s not necessarily a bad thing either, although it’s always sad for me to see Nole lose, admittedly. But it’s okay long term. In some ways I am glad that new streak is over at 22 as it was too much hype in 2011. Momentum is good but not when the momentum starts to cannibalize itself.


Wog boy Says:

Firstly congrats to Delpo and his fans, well deserved. Allhis matches against Nole were tight and by the law of average he had to win and I am glad he won here.
Neither of these two would stand a chance tomorrow against Rafa coming back from seven months lay off caused by “bad injury.”

mat4, you keep forgetting that Nole committed himself to DC (why Nole, why you had nothing to prove to anybody in Serbia anymore) which is stright after Miami in Idaho on 900m atitude, This loss is blessing in disguise and is not really hard to take neither by us Nole’s fans nor by Nole. Much harder one to take would be tomorrow one against Rafa. I wish Rafa plays Miami and they meet in QF, I really would like to see that.

As for Delpo as much as I like him, tomorrow neither Pope nor Archbishop of Centerbury nor even my Patriarch, if they pray together, will help him not to eaten alive by Rafa.


Wog boy Says:

jane,

Spot on about streak, I hate it, glad it is over now in IW.


mat4 Says:

I am not glad! Especially the way he lost: a dominant first set, a lead of 3-0 in the third… Broken 5 times? 25% of first serve after the first two service games in the third?

He has to stop resting on his laurels.


skeezer Says:

One tournament doesn’t a year make. But its nice to see Delpo playing well. Congrats and great run.


contador Says:

“As for Delpo as much as I like him, tomorrow neither Pope nor Archbishop of Centerbury nor even my Patriarch, if they pray together, will help him not to eaten alive by Rafa.”

lols, Wog Boy. hahaha would be fun to see them all praying together for JMDP.

Oh yeah, Davis Cup is in Idaho; just my luck. I am in California now. I really wish I was there! Would love to go to Taco Bell Arena and see Djokovic. Of all luck, they pick Boise after I have moved. It is weird though. Tennis is fairly popular to play in Boise, a little. But I was hard pressed to find anyone who would know Roddick has retired. No one watches tennis. It’s not exactly a tennis fan capital like Indian Wells or Miami…or anywhere.

But a lot of Europeans have moved there recently for jobs in technology. Maybe the arena won’t be completely empty.


Brando Says:

@Mat4:

Interesting take from a nole fan.

-’I am not disappointed by this loss. But I am disappointed by the way he played.’:

Seems reasonable to me. Him losing is not a big deal as:

1- He was ALWAYS going to lose at some point- it just happened today that’s all.

2- He’s still what 20-1 for the year: no need to ring the alarm bell just yet lol!

Disappointment regarding his tennis? I AGREE.

I saw his highlights v fognini yesterday. It was the first time i had seen nole post AO final- and what a jekyll and hyde performance that was!

First set- He looked other wordlly good. Thought to myself that NO ONE can beat this guy. Torturous to watch as a Rafa fan since there is NO CHANCE for my guy or anyone else i thought v this nole.

How can ANYONE beat him playing like this.

Second set- Fognini provides the answer, LOL. Nole just was so strangely erratic, casual and just a completely different player to set 1.

- ‘ After winning the first set, he just expected Delpo to crumble like everybody else.’:

Did not watch myself so i cannot say about this other than i take your word for it. IF he did though then he was very naive to do so since Del Potro is a world class, GS winning champion- a fighter.

Until the umpire say’s game,set and match in your favor you can NEVER take it easy against such players.

-’I think this loss will make more good that harm in the long run.’:

AGREE.

Ends his streak, let’s him know he is not invincible, kick up the backside to improve etc etc.

IMO, he’ll reach at least finals in MIAMI. He is MUCH BETTER there than IW on a general basis anyhow


Wog boy Says:

mat4,

To harsh, way too harsh. Think, why Vajda wasn’t in IW? Ask yourself if IW was on his priority list this year. He defended his points and life goes on. He doesn’t need to start his battles with Nadal do soon, 2011 almost destroyed them, both of them … Didn’t you say that not long ago?


the DA Says:

Wow, had to go out and miss the match, just returned to see this surprising news. So judging from the comments Nole played his best but it wasn’t enough? :-0


mat4 Says:

Nole didn’t play his best, but he played well. Delpo adopted the same strategy he used against Murray, and he served very well when it mattered most. Great win for Delpo.


Alok Says:

YESSSS!!!! JMDP won. I’m so happy, happy for him. too bad it was another long day for me at work, and didn’t see the matches played today. Checking ATP scores, it looks like it was not a such a thriller with TBs in the mix, as in 7-6, 6-7, 6-7. I hope JMDP has some energy left in the tank having to beat 2 top players back to back, and a tougher draw than his opponents on the whole.

May the force be with you tomorrow Juan.


Wog boy Says:

contador,

Jim Courier (if it was him) picked the right place for his fast serving boys to play, fast court, high atitude, you cannot ask for more. It was well thought. I always liked Courier as a player and person and motivational master. I see Americans as favotite to win even if Nole wins both matches.


bada bing Says:

Wog Boy
I am afraid you are right about tomorrow. JMDP will wave the white flag. Don’t know IF he even has the strength to wave it.


mat4 Says:

@WB:

Written words, especially in a foreign language where you are not able to make your thoughts clear with all the nuances you would like, are treacherous.

I don’t feel I am too harsh, nor did I want to sound harst. But I do feel that, if Novak really wants to win the FO, he had the wrong attitude.


bada bing Says:

Mat
It is conjecture now but Nole probably would have beat Rafa. JMDP will give Rafa his 22 MS title.


jane Says:

I don’t know if Delpo can beat 3 top guys in a row. It took him 3 sets each, back to back afternoons, to take out Andy and then Nole. I highly doubt he’ll beat a rested Rafa tomorrow. But all the power to him to get his first Masters titles. This is only his second masters final!


the DA Says:

It’s interesting that he deployed this tactic against both Andy & Nole so effectively. Pre-Lendl Andy used to do the same against Delpo & Nole and it often worked in upsetting their rhythm. Looks like he (or his coach) took notes. However, I fully expect both to have learned from this and that they’ll be prepared next time with a counter strategy.

@Jane – I have some doubts that he can beat 3 in a row. While I’m extremely happy Rafa is back and playing well I’m kind of rooting for JMDP. It’d be great for him to finally capture his first Masters 1000. A challenge to the hegemony of the top 4 is healthy (and keeps them on their toes).


jane Says:

I agree with your sentiments DA. It would be nice to see JMDP win a masters – to go with his slam! :)


marrisv Says:

Congrats to Rafa and jmdp. Commisserayions to Novak and fans. Wow, Rafa has surpassed where he wanted to be and going to play the final in his fourth successive tourney this year. Go Rafa. Seems like the nole/delpo match had lots of ebbs and flows.


Humble Rafa Says:

My comeback is going exactly as I planned. Hope to be No. 1 before my next scheduled injury (short one, not the 7 months like last time).

The knee doctor aka Screw Driver is eligible for a bonus based on my performance in the last few weeks.


Margot Says:

@the DA
Feeling better about Andy’s loss now?……;)
Interesting neither A nor N could cope with JMDP’s slice, hope, as u say,better prepared next time. Also thought N, like A, was trying to out hit Delboy a lot of the time, hmm not gonna work boys, variety is the spice that beats him.
Really impressed with Delboy’s movement though, scurrying around the court like road runner, also his refusal to lose.


Margot Says:

PS Oh, don’t slow courts suit his game better too?
@ conty! It’s gr8 to see you back! But California? Thought you loved the mountains?


the DA Says:

@margot – yes, but mostly because now there won’t be as much negativity by certain reporters & commentators. Delpo backed up the upset with another. I can appreciate the frustration of Fed’s fans when Berdy or Tsonga knock him out and then fail at the next hurdle.

I was also surprised that Andy tried to out hit JMDP. Clear evidence of the mindset which Lendl has instilled in him. While I’m happy to see more of the *attack* & *destroy* approach, I hope he doesn’t forget the variety at his disposal.

Lastly, yes I was impressed with Delpo’s movement and retrieving abilities. He seems to have a bit more stamina and patience too. Together with the fearhand, it’s a lethal combination.


Sidney Says:

Congrats to Juan Martin! He deserves all the credit for beating Nole and Andy back-to-back. That in itself is an amazing achievement, in my opinion.

JMDP is getting closer than ever to cracking the stranglehold of the top 4. Looking forward to him competing at the highest level again.

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