ATP Hamburg Preview: Federer, Nadal, Djokovic Collide

Posted on May 12, 2008

Novak Djokovic will attempt to become the 13th different player (since 1990) to win back-to-back ATP
Masters Series titles this week at the Masters Series-Hamburg after a victory last week in Rome. The most recent player to do so was David Nalbandian, who closed out the 2007 season with successive ATP Masters Series shields in Madrid and Paris.

Rafael Nadal captured consecutive titles in Monte-Carlo and Rome the last three years.

Djokovic has a 3-2 record in Hamburg and reached the quarterfinals last year (l. to Moya). This
week, he faces the winner of Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela and Spanish qualifier Jose Antonio
Sanchez de Luna in his opening match. He could come up against 2006 champion and
No. 13 seed Tommy Robredo in the third round, and either No. 7 seed James Blake or No. 17 seed
Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals. Spaniards Robredo and Almagro both reached the quarterfinals
last week in Rome.

Almagro, the circuit clay match wins leader (25-5), retired in his match against Djokovic with a right wrist injury.


Djokovic gained ground on Nadal in the South African Airways ATP Rankings after the World No. 2
and three-time defending Rome champion was upset in his second round opening match last week
(l. to Ferrero). Djokovic is now 310 South African Airways ATP Rankings points back of the Spaniard,
who enters Hamburg with 5,435 points.

While Djokovic cannot overtake Nadal this week (Nadal has 350 Rankings point to defend, Djokovic
has 125), their positions could change following Roland Garros. Reigning champion Nadal has 1000
points to defend at the clay Slam, while Djokovic has 450 to defend as a semifinalist last year (l. to Nadal).

Nadal has been ranked No. 2 for a record 147 consecutive weeks (since July 25, 2005). Nadal, last year's Hamburg runner-up, is one of only five active players to have reached the finals at
all three ATP Masters Series events on clay, along with Guillermo Coria, Federer, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Gustavo Kuerten. He will attempt to join Kuerten and Marcelo Rios as the only players (since 1990) to win the three different clay titles. He opens this week against the winner of
Peruvian qualifier Luis Horna and Italian Potito Starace, and could face No. 15 Andy Murray in the
third round. Nadal's seeded quarterfinal opponents include No. 9 Tomas Berdych and No. 11 Carlos
Moya, a two-time Hamburg semifinalist.


Top seed Federer enters with a 17-match winning streak in Hamburg, his last loss at the event dating
back to the third round in 2003 (l. to Philippoussis). Federer won his first of 14 ATP Masters Series titles at this event in 2002, defeating Russian Marat Safin in the final. He claimed back-to-back titles in 2004 (d. Coria) and '05 (d. Gasquet), and after missing the event in 2006, won again last year (d. Nadal).

Federer is one of two players since 1980 to have successfully defended the Hamburg title (Medvedev
in 1995-96), and one of three top seeded players to have titled in Hamburg (Lendl in 1987 and '89,
Edberg in 1992). The Swiss has an 11-2 record on clay this season; he ended his longest title drought in five years when he clinched the Estoril Open title last month. Federer followed with a runner-up finish in Monte-Carlo (l. to Nadal) and quarterfinal showing last week in Rome (l. to Stepanek).

The World No. 1 opens against either Finn Jarkko Nieminen or German wild card Rainer Schuettler,
and could face No. 14 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round. Potential quarterfinal opponents
include No. 5 David Ferrer or No. 10 Mikhail Youzhny and, in the semifinals, he could meet No. 4
Nikolay Davydenko or No. 8 and 2005 Hamburg finalist Richard Gasquet.


The 24-team doubles field is led by defending champions and top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan. The
Bryans enter Hamburg with an eight-match winning streak, having won back-to-back titles at Barcelona
and Rome over the past two weeks.

With title wins in three of their last four main draw appearances, the 30-year-old Bryans overtook the top position in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race standings. They won their first title of the season in Miami last month after four runner-up finishes to start the year.
-- ATP