Nalbandian Stuffs Nadal Like a Turkey, Wins Paris Tennis Masters
by Sean Randall | November 4th, 2007, 1:15 pm

Well, that final was convincing, wasn’t it? David Nalbandian hammered World No. 2 Rafael Nadal 64 60 to win the Paris Tennis Masters title, his second consecutive Masters victory following his Madrid triumph over Roger Federer two weeks ago. ADHEREL

With his wonderful backhand, excellent return of serve and stroke variety, Nalbandian matches up quite well against Nadal, but I admit I had still picked the winner in this one to be the Spaniard, who had never lost in Paris (I don’t think!) and only suffered defeat in a tour final to someone not named Federer on one occasion, that being Dominik Hrbaty in the Auckland final. He also had revenge on his mind after winning just three games against Nalby in Madrid.

Yet Nalbandian was never troubled today by Nadal, who really struggled to win anything on his second serve (won just 18% of second serves) and really look lost tactically as to what to do against the Argentine. I don’t even think he ever got a look at a break point.

On the slow Paris indoor court, Nalbandian hardly missed, munched on Nadal’s second offerings and when perched on the baseline was able to make Rafa move like a yo-yo.

Nalby closed the match winning the last nine games by my count for his second straight Masters win.

This of course coming from a guy labeled by many as fat (ok, so he’s no stick like Juan Chela) and who had reached one quarterfinal all year entering Madrid, where he was also down a set and break to Thomas Berdych. Nalbandian recovered against the Czech, and went on to beat Nadal, Novak Djokovic and then Federer in the final. And now he’s destroyed the Paris field.

Quite a turn around for a guy who’s been MIA from the ATP circuit much of the last two years.

What’s intriguing about Nalbandian’s revival just where he’ll fit into the Top 10 mix in 2008. Remember, the Argy’s been to all four Slam semifinals was a Wimbledon finalist. He’s been in the Top 5 before. He’s also won four straight sets over both Federer and Nadal so he’s got nothing to be afraid when facing them.

But as I’ve said before, Nalbandian’s hot streak could not have come at a worse time with the match/tournament marking the end of the 2007 season and the start of a two-month vacation, provided Andy Roddick and Nikolay Davydenko do show in Shanghai. What Nalbandian’s mercurial attitude toward tennis will be during the holidays is anyone’s guess. What’s not a guess is that the guy is among the game’s elite when he’s on.

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130 Comments for Nalbandian Stuffs Nadal Like a Turkey, Wins Paris Tennis Masters

andrea Says:

Wow. A bagel for Nadal.

This is getting interesting.

I almost hope Andy pulls out of Shanghai so we can add some drama.

sensationalsafin Says:

this is ridiculous. that’s all i can say. i’ve never been a nalbandian fan and i never will be. but this is just ridiculous. nadal going down so easily TWICE??? once, ehh makes sense, but TWICE??? where’s the raging bull??? and federer going down in STRAIGHT sets in his revenge match??? what happened to the fed-express??? what is going on in the tennis world??? i swear to god if roddick or anyone else pulls out to let nalbandian in i will personally track them down and punch them in the face. why?? am i afraid of nalbandian as a threat to federer, nadal, djokovic, and just about everyone else? i’d say i’ve accepted that he would completely own the TMC if he played. the reason it would bother me though is because it’s ridiculous for someone to play amazing 2 tournaments and be the best player in the world. and as of this moment he most certainly is. it’s because everyone is so damn tired and nalbandian has played like 20 matches all year with a .5 record so he’s got plenty of energy. and what’s he doing with that energy? turning the tennis world upside down? why? no matter what the arguements i don’t think nalbandian is even better than nadal. more talented in many ways but not better. i hope nalbandian plays well next year, in the FIRST HALF of the year that is. that way, when he reaches a fresh nadal, djokovic, or federer, they’ll smoke him like the chump he is. yeah i said it, nalbandian’s a chump, always has been and always will be. all he’s doing to win this matches is not miss a single shot. how is that possible? becuz he has energy. i’ve seen nadal play a match with like 2 UE’s. same with djokovic and federer. i no there are plenty of ppl who, for some reason, would love to see nalbandian at the top with these guys, but he doesn’t belong there. he doesn’t have the desire champions have, even safin has shown some desire, that’s why he has 2 slams and 2 finals. what does nalbandian have? 2 masters and a MC becuz of lucky hot streaks he got when everyone else was spent. and paris complains about the top players not playing their masters. who wants to see elite players playing like crap? obviously nalbandian does. i’m done venting for now but i’ll be back, especially when b*tch roddick pulls out of the TMC becuz he knows he has no chance and hes gonna wanna “rest” for davis cup. i hate nalbandian, with a passion.

ceci Says:

My, my, what vitriol directed at Nalbandian! Unlike the previous poster, I am a great fan of the Argentine player. He played a great tournament and deserved to win. I hope he gets a chance to play in Shanghai and win. If not he, then I am rooting for Djokovic!

Ryan Says:

To sensational safin…..When somebody wins tournaments who are not champions all of a sudden people start coming up with excuses.Frankly it doesnt make any sense at all.Nalbandian has always been a great player beating federer 8 times in total.R u saying that it all happened because fed was exhausted? Only nadal has managed to do that against him and that also on clay.
I do agree fed and djok did look exhausted against him but in this match nadal did look fresh.Lets put it this way nadal has always been a chump on hardcourts.He has never won a hardcourt title when ever since fed and djok knew how to play him.He was getting beaten by many players like youzhny berdych,blake,ferrer and even monaco…basically anyone who has 2 balls .All he knows how to do is to grind on slow surfaces which includes wimbledon because the grass is slowing down.Nadal doesnt have any fucking talent other than to run down balls and to use his muscle power to hit the ball hard.Nalby is a highly talented player than much better than nadal will ever be whether he wins slams or not……

sensationalsafin Says:

whether he wins slams or not… that says it all. there’s always a million excuses to find when someone wins or loses. nadal wasn’t fresh. nadal hasn’t been fresh since wimbledon. and if u watched that wimbledon final u would no how talented nadal really is. this is what nalbandian has driven me to, defending nadal of all ppl! instead of being a fatty who preys on tired players, maybe nalbandian should step his game up when it matters, at the slams and during every other big tournament during the year. thats when everyone else is playing their top games.

alexandros Says:

Ok, To “sensational safin” and Ryan:
You guys are retarded, you do not like Nalbandian…!Listen, this is a guy who has been able to beat Fed and Nadal twice in straight sets, something nobody else has done, he beat Fed 8 times, and he was always tired? Give me a break, God, I sound like Roger now; this guy is today the best player in the world, why? Because to be the best you have to beat the best and he did it, I don’t care how tired NAdal or Fed were, he played with that desire and hunger that most players lack, he is an inspiration for all of us who struggle at the beginning and finally find our form, don’t be a hater and appreciate the fact that he is around to put these two guys to think about improving…

alexandros Says:

Oh and I have news….Roddick just called me and said he is pulling out of Shangai, he can not wait to see Nalbandian destroy Federer again…!

sensationalsafin Says:

i never said federer was always tired. up to this point considering federer had won 8 of the last 9 matches against nalbandian id say he pretty much figured him out. now, twice, nalbandian has beaten a pretty beat federer.

Asswipist Says:

its ok guys, nalbandian was just treeing out of his @$$. look for him to get injured next year and miss the whole season and retire at the end of 2009.

David Rejwan Says:

I believe that if Nalbandian continue to play the way he did,he will certainly beat Nadal or Jokovic again and again because they have no weapen agaist the way he is dominating them and the way he is playing now. Federer is something else to beat, because Federer is not only a determination, but also a perfection, and he will find the way and the solution, and will never and what so ever give the slightest chance to Nalbandian to be the world no one. Nalbandian will certainly lose to many other players like Karlovic or else, Not federer. He has more talent and more solutions to beat any kind of player for the next few years at least.

Ryan Says:

To alexandros……i feel sorry that you have a tough time understanding english….I’ve only praised nalbandian in my post.To sensational safin…Nalbandian might be a fatty but he still plays better tennis than the hyperfit nadal.As for fed being tired he took a lot of time off before the madrid masters and he was not tired at all during the madrid masters event.Nalbandian forced those errors from fed.As for nadal’s wimbledon final fed was playing below par for the first 4 sets and then he raised his game in the 5th set.So it might have looked as if nadal played incredible.And like i said wimbledon is slowing down these days and it only becomes easier for nadal to win there.Credit should be given where it is due.Just because the opposition is tired that doesn’t mean anything.If they are better they are better.SAfin was supposed to be more tired than hewitt in AO final 2005 after that epic match with federer .But still safin won it.That shows that it is possible to win despite fatigue setting in.In today’s case nadal was simply destroyed.He had no answers to nalbandian’s groundstrokes especially his backhand.You say that Nadal hasnt been fresh since wimbledon.Why because he was so close to winning it? If thats the case i think you should give a lot of credit to federer for playing the way he is playing despite losing in that FO 07 final.If you say nadal was physically injured its not an excuse because he plays that way.It’s his choice whether he wants to invite injury or not.I think his injury itself is a fake act.He is always injured when he knows its losing time.Even in the AO open 07 he was coming up with that excuse.I agree Nalbandian could have won slams and that he is an underacheiver for his talent but he should be appreciated for the way he plays.His backhand and returns are topclass and so is his quickness around the court despite being a fatty.He has reached atleast the semifinals of all the slams.Did nadal reach there yet?No….Like i said nadal only knows how to grind like any spaniard does on tour except that he is fitter. Nalby doesnt try some stupid tactics like djok or nadal……calling trainers even when not injured,groaning during points etc.Nadal groans a lot and that is mainly to distract the opponent.Anyway Nalbandian is a really good player and credit should be given the way he thrashed nadal today.

sensationalsafin Says:

“Nalbandian will certainly lose to many other players like Karlovic or else, Not federer. He has more talent and more solutions to beat any kind of player for the next few years at least.”

is that a typo or something? cuz it doesnt fit with the rest of what u were saying. this is certainly interesting though. nalbandian seems to have ascended into a heavenly level. last time we saw someone play so godly at the end of the year was federer himself, in 2003. he dominated the TMC (including his first and most dominant win over nalbandian) and went on to be the now soon-to-be-GOAT. but nalbandian is different from federer. im not quite sure how to explain it but it was always clear that it was federer’s destiny to be a great champion. nalbandian kinda came outta nowhere at 2002 wimbledon but for some reason no one really pegged him as the future of tennis. players like safin, federer, roddick, ferrero, and hewitt all seemed to have laid out paths for them to follow. obviously federer followed it and went beyond. but nalbandian was never really in that group. hes like a del potro, known for his tremendous talent but not really pegged to be an all time champion. and yet here he is dominating like crazy. and there seems to be a lot of debate now about whod win between an ON federer and ON nalbandian. and tactically speaking mostly, i say federer. hes the greatest tennis mind ever. thats why he has had so few losses over the years, because he was able to worm his way out of losing even when he was playing bad. but if they’re both on, think about how to match would play out. nalbandian would be crushing his backhand hand into every possible spot of the court. federer would be crushing his forehand into every possible spot. both serves would be very difficult to handle on both sides. nalbandian has been serving incredibly for these last few weeks, federer said it himself. but we’ve all seen how great federer’s serve can really be and how well he can use it to pull himself out of trouble (wimbledon, wimbledon, and again wimbledon). both are good at net but id expect federer to be the more difficult to read because he likes coming in and u never know when he’s gonna do it. nalbandian comes in occassionally and is obviously good at it but it wont be enough to completely throw off federer, plus federer, he’s on of course, will be extremely capable of hitting his untouchable and gravity defying passing shots. both have great footwork but i think federer, remember theyr both on, has more power than nalbandian and if he’s hitting his spots he’ll be able to run nalbandian around more than the opposite happening. finally, when it comes to crunch time, nalbandian has been known to slip up, but federer isnt as tough as ppl think. but i believe if they are both playing well, meaning federer doesnt have to worry about missing every other shot, then federer takes it. 5th set tiebreaker at i guess TMC final or US open, 5-5, nalbandian’s serving for match point, federer slices it up the line, nalbandian smacks a sick crosscourt backhand, federer barely reaches it but manages to hit a short crosscourt slice, nalbandian responds with a wicked crosscourt angle from the backhand and comes into net, federer on the dead run flicks his wrist and hits a crosscourt backhand pass that magically goes right by nalbandian and lands inside the line. 6-5 match point federer’s serve. fault. second serve to nalbandian’s backhand. he crushes it down the line, federer barely hits a running forehand crosscourt, nalbandian gets there in no time and smacks a forehand up the line, comes into net thinking just in case he needs to put it away, and another flick of the wrist from federer, this time up the line, goes right by nalbandian. federer wins. of course ur gonna say what r the chances and blah blah blah. but remember, this is when theyr both on, and when fed’s on, he’s magic, not magical, just pure magic.

swordfish Says:

sensational safin, dude, Federer has been displaying such results for many years now, he won basel last week, and now if he loses u say hes tired, I thought u said nalby had no fitness, then an unfit nalby is better than a tired federer, whenever fed loses u have to come up with some excuses. And to stick it to u at least nalby doesnt have half as bad an attitude as safin is showing these days. Nalbandian is as talented as federer, and obviously much more talented than nadal, nadal himself should say “Im nalby’s bitch”.nalbys the king fed and nadal are the used to wipe the floor.

naresh Says:

i knew it i knew was not a fluke..nalbandian is in devastating form. and hey..none of us should try and make excuses for nadal..he was playing some great tennis, some of those angles he created were just “dope”..but my oh my, david was always there to make the winning shot. i’m gonna take a bow to david..FULL RESPECT ! the way he’s playing rightnow, only a Federer at his best can beat him, and i havent seen that Fed in a while !

kamret Says:

How can someone (Nalbandian) who has been so terrible all year long, suddenly start beating the crap (repeatedly) out of the top 2-3 players in the world over the last three weeks??? If he was a youngster just exploding on the tour, I could understand but he is now a middle-age tennis player (almost 26) and, before last month, had won only 5 ATP titles in almost 8 years on the tour. I know he had beaten Federer many times before, had been # 3 in the world, was in the Wimbledon final in 2002 and even won Shanghai in 2005, but he was not even in the top 20 before the Madrid event last month. Honestly, I am totally surprised (even confused)! I have been watching tennis for over 30 years and have never seen anything like this. Unfortunately, he still doesn’t qualify for the Masters. Now, regardless of whoever wins Shanghai, that winner will not be considered the real/current world champion. Right now, it’s Nalbandian. That’s why I think the ATP should do anything it can to allow Nalbandian to play at the Masters; otherwise, whoever wins Shanghai (even if it turns out to be Federer) will be a joke!

Giner Says:

“i knew it i knew was not a fluke..nalbandian is in devastating form.”

It can’t be a fluke if you neat the No 3, No 2, and No 1 back to back in the same tournament. If you back up those results in the next tournament, that confirms it.

What IS possible, though unlikely, is that Djoko, Fed, and Nadal all participated in match fixing and were paid accordingly to lose to Nalby.

hola Says:

Nalbandian has been a sporatically brillant player since he went pro – he’s always been problematic for other tennis players because of this unpredictability. He’s now in better physical shape than he’s ever been and it shows. Personally, I love to see players who can challenge the best – it makes the game exciting. I used to stop watching when Federer was in the final because the outcome was so predictable. Now with Nalbandian, Djok., and Nadal, there is a least a possibility of a good match. Federer needs to stop taking his winning ways for granted. And it’s about time.

Skorocel Says:

sensationalsafin, you’re way off! On the other hand, I absolutely agree with Ryan’s post dated November 4th, 2007 at 4:05 pm. That says it all! Tired opponents or not – Nalby played absolutely superb tennis in Paris & Madrid!

Let’s just wait if Andy shows in Shanghai or not – and then we can see IF an “out-of-shape” Fed and co. can beat the Argentine when he’s on…

jane Says:

i was hoping for rafa – he played so well against baggy – and it was surprising the way rafa lost, with that bagel (!) in the second set.

but it’s by no means ridiculous. nalbandian has won the MC on indoor hard and does well on indoor carpet. the dude is also clearly “in the zone.” i repeat: if he had not blown his match point against Ferrer at the US Open this year, who knows how far he could have gone? He would have played Nadal next, who he can clearly beat, and then, who? Djokovic? If he had made it to the final against Federer, perhaps the King wouldn’t have 4 crowns? i think it’d be great if Nalbandian went to china and it’s possible if Roddick pulls out to prep for Davis Cup. This is exactly how tennis should be: unpredictable and exciting; change is good.

congrats to nalbandian (fat and middle-aged or not) for rising, phoenix-like, from the ashes; we’ll see, however, how long the resurrection lasts.

sensationalsafin Says:

i gotta admit, u guys are right about the whole tired thing. it is a bad excuse. it doesnt change the fact that federer is not at his best. so u cant say a top federer lost to a top nalbandian, an mediocre federer lost to a top nalbandian. i think the main reason is motivation.

Marius Says:

Perhaps just like the rest of the Argentines, he too is “doping,” – lol!

sensationalsafin Says:

that would just be uncool

Jonny Morts Says:

What David Nalbandian has achieved in the last three weeks goes beyond the ordinary. It transcends excuses on the part of the opposition. To beat the top 3 players in the world back to back – when each had already taken out respectable in form players – then take out the top 2 so convincingly within the next 12 days is rock solid evidence that, as he showed at the end of 2005 and in the first half of 2006 at the Oz and French opens, he is one of the true elite. I am new to this forum and its clear there are many serious fans of various players and most are pretty well informed….whether DN plays next week or not as days pass what he has just done will surely sink in to all regular commentators. I don’t think you can overestimate the psychological impact/damage it will have had on both Federer (whom he dominated as a junior which is relevant,) and perhaps even more Nadal who had never met DN until he was beaten last month. I’m sure Nalbandian will beat them both again, perhaps Fed will beat him again but given Federer is already a legend DN will always enter the encounters with everything to gain whereas Fed may well be defending his ranking at the top – quite seriously. I think DN must be aware he has been inconsistent over the years but no more so than he is aware of his injuries and that, crucially, judging on his form up until it kicked in against Fed, the French Open of 2006 would probably have been his. His path to the Wimbledon final 5 years ago was no fluke either. I actually agree with Safin’s fan that somehow DN wasn’t talked about in the same way as others challenging for the top spots. Perhaps commentators knew along with his natural talent his commitment was questionable in a small way. I mean, to get in the world’s top 50 you have to be massively commited so we are talking tiny percentages regarding effort here and there being the difference between tournament winners and semi finalists BUT, I wouldn’t be surprised if this time, if he remains injury free, David Nalbandian stays in the world’s top three throughout next season and takes one or two slams. In his head he must realize only he is stopping himself in the prime of his career. They don’t last long do they?

grendel Says:

On the last two threads, we’ve all harped on Nalbandian’s inconsistency. Yes, he’s playing out of his mind but.

On reflection, I think it may be – may be – that we’ve all got it wrong. This is a different Nalbandian to the former world number 3, to the player who really had Roddick beaten in US Open semifinal, who beat Fed in Shanghai, who had Baggy beaten in Aussie Open semi but somehow fluffed it, and so on. That is to say, Nalbandian has been “on” many times before. But this is altogether a new, and superior, “on”. We’re witnessing, perhaps, the maturation of a (mentally) late developer.

In August, he got a new coach. We can see with our own eyes what he feels the coach has done for him in his celebrations following Madrid and Paris. Three things seem to be new. A now formidable serve, which has surprised Federer. A startling new aggression – once content (and able) to rally endlessly, now he is always on the lookout to end the point as soon as possible. His forehand is now very, very good, and his backhand a weapon to rival Fed’s great forehand. This bodes well for g/slams, since he has tended to get trapped in endless five setters, and whilst he has phenomenal stamina, it gets to him in the end. The coach must have said: enough of this nonsense and boy, has Nalbie followed instructions.

The third thing follows from the others – he has gained confidence which won’t easily be lost. Providing he sticks with coach, he’s going to be a formidable presence in slams next year. All of them. In particular, Nadal is under threat at RG. Remember, conditions in Paris were, in Greg “the teeth” Rusedski’s words, “ridiculously slow” – ideal for Nadal, although lacking high bounce of course. Incidentally, I said how puzzled Fed sometimes looks when playing Nalbandian – Nadal was looking bewildered. I’ve never seen him taken apart like that and, in a backhanded sort of way, it shows how good Federer is; in Paris, he very nearly came back, in second set, against the extraordinary Nalbandian.

2008 looks exciting. At last Federer has a rival who threatens to eclipse him, and his response is going to be very interesting indeed. I wouldn’t for one moment rule him out. And meanwhile can we please, please, have no more about Sampras’ competition being tougher than Fed’s? Fed, of course, may win nothing more – that’s a possibility if a remote one. But say he wins another 5 slams – look at the competition: Nalbandian, Nadal, Djokovic, Gasquet, Murray – come on, these people would eat Sampras’ rivals alive.

But of course, Fed has still got to do it……..

Colin Says:

Sensationalsafin – so you hate Nalbandian with a passion? I’ll tell you what I hate with a passion: bloody Textspeak. Why for God’s sake can’t you write proper English?

sensationalsafin Says:

cuz im too damn lazy. this is the internet, home of textspeak. i understand ur frustration, when i reread some of my own posts i cant tell when i end thoughts and sentences, but idc. grendel u make a very good point. not only is this a totally new nalbandian but this is also a completely new twist that tennis has never really seen before. but can nalbandian really keep it up? federer was in the zone last year around this time too, and he dominated at the AO this year, then look what happened. he’s gradually slipping. gradually, not completely, but slowly he’s losing his chokehold on the tennis world. even gonzalez had his peak, whether it was small compared to federer’s and now nalbandian’s, he still played amazing during this time last year and it carried him through the AO and then look what happened to him. the thing about tennis and about david nalbandian in particular is there’s no way of predicting the future. for all we know nalbandian will win the golden slam next year. or he might reach the AO final, lose to federer, and then fail to pass the quarters of any other slam. he’s playing divine tennis. nadal’s no slouch when it comes to figuring his opponents out, he’s a very good thinker. usually overlooked imo but i think nadal is a smart player, especially when he’s playing well. that further proves how amazing nalbandian is right now. please, i think everyone should agree that nalbandian is playing at 100% in every part of the game. if not 100% then 99%. he’s not missing, he’s hitting aces, he could probably hit a winner with his pinky toes at this point. but i still think if you take federer’s 99%-100%, it’ll be better than nalbandian’s. u gotta think that the only reason federer failed to come back in the second set was because nalbandian is playing so great, if it was anyone else federer probably would’ve pulled through. i said this after the TMC in 2005, nalbandian has the ability to negate federer’s magic. and that’s what he’s done in these last 2 matches, negated the magic that would’ve worked on anyone else in the world. i no ive made it pretty clear i despise nalbandian, but i do respect what he’s done. and as much as i hate him he’s done what every tennis player pretty much aims for, perfected tennis. but, as le mort d
arthur teaches us, perfection can’t last.

Rafael Nadal Says:

David play good but am tired this late in year, no? He tree bad and I get him next time.

Juan Martin del Potro Says:

Mamma mia, necesito mas pantalones cortos.

alexandros Says:

Nalbandian is the king…that is all I have to say!Please, no more hate or despise, respect and admire instead…

Nick Says:

How does Roger Federer lose ranking points if this week he played in the French masters, whereas last year he didn’t play in the French masters. Wouldn’t he gain points, at least for the 1 match that he won?

Nick Says:

I checked his point total from last week to this week and he lost about 700 points. it doesn’t make sense to me, please help.

Tom Says:

G’day Nick,

The answer to your question is that all ranking points awarded from last years masters cup have been taken off the 8 players who competed in it, coz now there’s a new top 8, so yeah, Federer won it last year which got him 700 points, but don’t worry, he’ll gain all those 700 points back after the completion of this years masters cup, unless of course Roddick pulls out and lets Nalbandian in there.
But yeah, you’ll notice that not only Federer, but also Nadal, Davydenko, Ljubicic, Roddick, Robredo, Nalbandian, and Blake have all had their points from last year taken off also.

Good answer?

st4r5 Says:

I think Roger Federer has a long term vision, I’ve never seen him play like when he played during the first year of his rise. Now, he never plays like there is no tomorrow anymore, he used to be like that in the past and that’s why he looked so invincible. Nalbandian, Nadal, and other players play like there is no tomorrow because they still want to prove themselves with Federer. Federer does this for a reason, he is a smart man, he wants to exist until 30 – 32 years old, he will not force his body to play to the death, so when he faces someone who is desperately willing to die in a game then he would just play his tennis without trying to give what the opponent actually does to the game. Federer knows he has nothing to prove anymore.

ross Says:

the maximum points to be earned at the masters cup are 750, not 700.

Fed needs to win this one to avoid the risk of losing the number 1 ranking early next year.

2008 is the crunch year for him. He needs to push it one last time this year. If he wins 3 slams again (hopefully including the french) and the oltmpic gold medal – then he is done, immortal for a very very long time. Even if he just wins the french and the gold medal, he would have done that. Wimbledon is obviously his to lose.

Australian would be a tough one, since it is a slower hard court.

Tom Says:

I know Federer will win Shanghai, but if someone can just beat him in the round robin stage, then he’ll get 250 points for winning instead of 750 like he did last year. A much preferable outcome wouldn’t you agree?

P.s. Do the tennis world a favour and please pull out Roddick

grendel Says:

Is that really right, Tom? That means, in effect, Fed gets 500 points for winning round robin, and only an extra 250 for winning final. What an incredibly silly scoring system. b.t.w., of course we all want Nalbandian to play, but not at the expense of Roddick who, whatever you think of his game, can be a real threat and therefore adds to the excitement. It would be nice if poor old Davydenko went, he’s not going to endanger anyone, I’m afraid. But he won’t. ST4R5: surely Fed wants to win? I think he took his foot of accelerator against Bremmer(?) in Basle – and nearly paid the price. But I don’t think against Nalbandian – who looked surprisingly relaxed for a man “desperately willing to die”.

grendel Says:

Nalbandian on whether his current level of play could take him to number 1:

“To be the number one I would have to play like this the whole season,” he said. “It’s not easy to play that well on clay, hardcourts, grass and indoors. I think the only player who can do that at the moment is Roger (Federer).”

Diplomatic? Or the comment of a realist who has serious long term intentions and understands this involves serious work?

ross Says:

100 points for each round robin win (total 300), 200 for the semi win, and 250 for the final win. so even if fed loses one round robin and wins the masters, he still gets 650 points.

thats how it works.

the 4 masters titles he has won so far – he has never lost a match.

zola Says:

I am a Rafa fan and that loss was a hard one to take. Sean’s title did not help much either!

I agree that Nalby has peaked at a time that everybody else is tired or injured. However, this success is not just the result of the rest being tired. Nalby was always a good player. I guess he was not disciplined enough. Now he has a new coach and has lost weight and is motivated. When someone beats the world No 1 and 2 twice in 3 weeks, it can’t be just accident.

That was a terrible loss for Rafa, but Nalby played great. I don’t know who could stop him. I think in the second set Rafa was mentally tired. could not find a solution. But this will make him a better player, because now he has a challenge.that’s how Federer became Federer and I believe Rafa will become a better player as a result of these defeats.

with Djoker, Nalby and Murray, 2008 will be very interesting.

Jonny Morts Says:

Regarding an earlier thought that DN is some way into his career at 25 to turn it around at Slams – Lendl was 24 when he won the French for the first time and look at the multitude of near misses at majors he’d already had at that point before collecting all but the one designed for animals. (He was incredibly disciplined of course, perhaps impossible for any player to have been more so.) I think DN will win at least a couple. On a different topic altogether – are you supposed to do this or start another discussion elsewhere altogether, I don’t know so sorry if I’m hijacking the direction – but I would say Lendl’s achievments over the course of his entire career are in fact the greatest of any player in the open era, despite not winning Wimbledon. To have been at the top or very very close to it for 14 seasons out of 15…to have winning head to heads against so many legends – I know Connors was getting older – but Mac, Becker, Wilander etc. An absolutely astonishing achievment – 94 singles titles (well over 100 if you include those not on the official ATP circuit like Beckenham – on grass funnily enough – beat Cash in 91 didn’t he!?) – not as naturally talented as Fed but a longevity record Rog may well be aspiring to – to bring us back to an earlier comment in the discussion I’ve deviated from.

sensationalsafin Says:

so most people are predicting greatness from nalbandian, atleast for next year. and federer is of course bound to struggle next year with so many challengers. what would happen if they meet in the quarters at the AO and nalbandian does his usually dominating over federer, goes up 2 sets, then loses 7-5 in the fifth? wouldnt that be ideal. haha

Joanne Says:

sensational safin;I dont read your posts cos its too annoying to rd wht ur syn ;gives mebrainfreeze and makes my jaws lock.
I think Roger will now go away and figure out what the hell happened and fight back.In the second set he began to figure out how to play Nalbandian.He almost made it to a third set.In a 5 setter like Aussie open he will have time to work out a strategy.Looking forward to seeing that.Roger will simply take it on as the next challenge.

ross Says:

Fed is 64-8 this year so far – not the lofty 92-5 of last year, but still a phenomenal year, considering he won 3 majors.

At his PEAK, sampras would lose 14-15 matches a year, plus he never won 3 majors in one year, fed has done that THRICE.

So put that in perspective. Fed’s 2007 is still better than Sampras’s best year ever. And this is Fed’s 3rd or 4th best year, based on how you see it. That’s something.

Sean Randall Says:

Great discussion. A few words.

Regarding Shanghai, keep in mind that as the No. 9 ranked player David Nalbandian does get the invite to attend, and fill in should someone drop out at the event. Of course he could get directly in if someone (Nikolay Davydenko/Andy Roddick) withdrew before the groupings get made, which I think get done this weekend (just guessing).

That said, I can’t imagine Davydenko will withdraw, after all he is known for playing every week possible, so why skip a lucrative event like Shanghai. On the other hand, Roddick is a different story. He’s been clear that his focus is on winning the Davis Cup final. Will playing Shanghai help or hurt those chances. Only he knows. My guess is he’ll make the trip.

So if both Davydenko and Roddick attend, will David, a former champion remember, still want to go all that way to essentially be a bench warmer and pick up some green?

Back to Nalbandian’s run of late. Lots of talk that Federer/Nadal were fatigued or tired and thus David won. I don’t buy any of that. As someone above correctly pointed out, if anyone should have been fatigued it should have been Nalbandian! In Paris, Rafa (and Fed) even had a bye while David needed to play an extra match to reach the final.

So if you argument is that your guy Nadal or your guy Fed was tired and that’s why David ripped ‘em, then that’s wishful thankful and you better hope your guy doesn’t meet the New David (Grendel, maybe this is a new level to David’s play) in Australia. Face facts, Nalbandian took a flame thrower to both Federer and Nadal, and really to the entire circuit the last few weeks for that matter.

If you want to argue Fed and Nadal played like crap, that I can see, however I think a lot of that had to do with David. Fed did make a lot of errors against David in both losses, while I thought Rafa looked completely lost yesterday (I never saw the Madrid SF).

As 2008, with the season now over will David spend the two month off season hitting the gym or hitting the buffet?

funches Says:

Berdych actually was up at set and two breaks on Nalby in Madrid.

That match turnaround could prove to be one of the most significant in tennis history if Nalbandian keeps his current form in 2008.

funches Says:

And Fed did have more reason to be tired than Nalbandian. Fed played five matches in six days at Madrid, five matches in seven days at Basel and four matches in five days at Paris.

Nalby conveniently tanked his first-round match the week before, giving him plenty of rest before the start of Paris.

sensationalsafin Says:

joanna ur definetly overreacting about my typing. i dont fuse words and shorten every possibly word. just the simple and easy ones. and i dont use caps. the way nalbandian is playing now he could go a whole year without losing a match. but thats impossible. he’s not gonna maintain this godly form. that doesn’t mean he’s not gonna play great and be a constant threat but perfection can’t be maintained.

andrea Says:

just a thought…

if you plan to write a long posting, aesthically is it much easeir to read if you break your blog into mini paragraphs. staring at 3 inch high chunks of solid copy is a bit daunting.

One can analyze every match to death – tired, injured, illness, speed of court – there is every excuse available. sometimes you have to sit back and say ‘the better player’ won. (match fixing aside)

I’m a federer fan and despite him having a ‘lesser’ year in the eyes of journalists/statstiticians, he’s still the most consistent player on tour.

even so, when he came up against an on-fire canas earlier this year, and an on-fire djokovic in montreal he lost. so now he lost to an on-fire nalbandian. it happens. roger just happens to have been ‘on-fire’ for the past four years!!!

got to give nalbandian credit. he had match point in the US Open semis (the year that Roddick won) and he blew it in 5 sets. the guy has chops; just not as consistent.

i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: tennis is so much a mental sport and that can cause much more trouble than having an off day with your forehand.

max619 Says:

Nalbandian is from the same town I was born…Cordoba (Argentina). So, the local newspapers have reported several times that Nalby could easily be #1 by now if he only would have not spent a lot of time (and money)in his Rally team, attended so many barbeques (even more red wine than meat on the grill)and all those beautiful Argentine women around…But like Nalby always says “tennis is by far not all in life”, he likes to enjoy life to the fullest. Anyways, to make this post short, up until he hired Jaite, he was totally out of shape. He ALWAYS had those groundstrokes but he was also a step too slow.
What is amazing is how easy he can handle a guy like Nadal, who is the ultimate diehard in tennis.
In regards how he can handle Fed (they are now 8:8) I believe that Fed not only gets outplayed but also has the fear (as he has said it himself)to play Nalby, perhaps because he knows about the talent Nalby has. Fed has gone to say that Nalby could become #1 if he decided to do so.
Hopefully Nalby keeps tennis during 2008 as a priority and car racing, too much wine/meat/dating can take a rain check until he decides he had enough being tennis #1.

sensationalsafin Says:

But in the end they’re 8-8. It’s not 16-0 in nalbandian’s favor. And federer still won 8 of the last 11 matches. It’s not like federer is to nalbandian what roddick is to federer. If nalbandian doesn’t care that much about tennis then why should he be number 1? Players like djokovic, federer, and nadal put everything they have into tennis for a reason. Nalbandian doesn’t deserve to be a top player if he doesn’t feel like putting in the hard workd. Talentwise sure he’s up there but he’s gotta work for it too.

sensationalsafin Says:

Btw, although it seems like Nalbandian outplays Federer so much, pointwise the matches are unbelievably close. The last 2 matches federer won were last year in Madrid and in Shanghai, both times Federer was dominant and won an overwhelming majority of the points. In Madrid they were tied for points and in Paris Nalbandian only had 4 more points than Federer. In tennis, points tell you how close it really was but the winner is the one who played better on the bigger points. So clearly Federer isn’t as outdone by Nalbandian as, say, Nadal.

Ryan Says:

Now the real question here is that will nalbandian keep this winning fire from dying.There were many times when nalby’s focus just disappears all of a sudden in a match.He should stop this from happening.If he can then he’ll be dangerous in 2008.Thats the toughest thing to do in tennis.Many critics doubted whether fed has that winning fire like pete use to have to win so many slams but fed has proved them all wrong.

Regarding nalby’s playing style like sensationalsafin pointed out earlier nalby has something in his game that makes fed’s shots look ordinary.I think the issue here is that fed cant really predict where nalby is going to hit that ball especially that backhand.This unpredictability is what makes fed look confused.He used to say that with other guys he can always guess where they are about to go with their shots.But i feel nalbandian is the cleanest ball striker out there and the more the rally goes on the more it is in his favour.Anyway we’ll see what happens the next time they play.

Like st4r5 pointed out fed doesnt try too hard to win these days unless it is for a grandslam.He knows thats all thats left for him to do.He probably doesnt want to spend too much physical and mental energy on matches that are not important for him.So when he feels its too tough to win against an inspired and tough opponent i guess he slightly gives it up especially in the end.

SG Says:

This notion that Nalbandian beats Fed, Nadal and Djoko ’cause he’s fresh and they’re not is definitely a case of reaching little. The guy is 8-8 against Fed. I think that if you’re going to make the argument that Fed was tired every time he played Nalbandian than you’re pretty much out to lunch. By this argument, Fed should lose to just about every guy he faces late in tournaments because they generally don’t play as many mataches as he does and are therefore always fresher than he is. There’s no doubt that like Nadal, Nalbandian does things Fed doesn’t like. And what’s the point of all that gym work and weight lifting if you’e going to be worn out? Fed always looks fresh as daisies to me. It’s that really effortless game he plays, or so everyone keeps telling me.

SG Says:

Whenever some guy has reasonable success against Federer, there seem to be a hundred excuses for it. I’ve got one too:


Nalbandian, when focused, is a great shotmaker. And he plays a game very much like Federer. if he had Fed’s serve, perhaps he’d have 6 or 7 majors of his own. This guy is to tennis what Tom Weiskopf was to golf. Tons of talent. Not much density between the ears. I hope he steps up next year. Fed would definitely have competition at every major if he did. Nadal in France, Nalby & Djoko at Wimbledon and the Open, Nadal, Djoko and Nalby at the AO. Might be tough to win 3 slams a year with all those guys on deck.

grendel Says:

“Regarding nalby’s playing style like sensationalsafin pointed out earlier nalby has something in his game that makes fed’s shots look ordinary.I think the issue here is that fed cant really predict where nalby is going to hit that ball especially that backhand.This unpredictability is what makes fed look confused.He used to say that with other guys he can always guess where they are about to go with their shots.But i feel nalbandian is the cleanest ball striker out there and the more the rally goes on the more it is in his favour” Ryan.

You’ve put it the best I’ve seen, Ryan, not just on this blog but anywhere. I had a confused idea of what you’re saying, but now it’s clearer in my mind.

Of course, it’s all very well if Fed really is conserving his energies for the grand slams. He still may have to face a revitalised Nalbandian. He has, therefore, to attempt to come to grips with the puzzle. I don’t believe he’ll just give second best, nor rely on Nalbandian having drained his fires.

So how is he going to adapt? That’s the mark of a truly great player, isn’t it, to have the grit and the honesty to admit what he’s got isn’t working – and then to have the ability to do something about it. And not be too proud to ask for help, if nec. I recall Agassi being mortified at being continually unable to beat Hewitt. He specifically hired Cahill to help him turn this around. And it worked.

Only thing is – Fed’s an obstinate fellow…..

max619 Says:

Ryan, you were right on the money on why Fed’s shots look ordinary when playing Nalby. Very good point of yours.

What amazes me is how Nalby can handle Nadal. It appears that Nalby’s backhand can handle Nadal’s top spin shots very easy, whereas these shots give Fed’s backhand a lot of trouble.

Too bad Nalbandian did not get that 8th spot for the MC.

sensationalsafin Says:

Ordinary? Now that’s stretching it. A mediocre Federer definetly, just like against Nadal and sometimes Djokovic. But you gotta be careful when you say “ordinary”. As great as Nalbandian has been playing it’s not like Federer hasn’t hit a spectacular shot here and there. He just doesn’t look godly, like he does against Roddick. Is it really as simple as court coverage? If you think about it that’s what Canas, Djokovic, Nalbandian, Nadal, and even Safin when he’s playing well all have in common more than anything else. It’s not like Davydenko doesn’t have a good two-hander, he lacks the amazing court coverage these guys produced against Federer in their wins. They don’t give him the winners he loves. I wouldn’t call that making his shots look ordinary, just not extraordinary.

Tejuz Says:

well.. Fed’s game always look ordinary everytime he loses a match, be it against Nalby, Nadal, Djok, Canas or Volandri. Its not as Nalby’s game is making him look ordinary. Fed vs Nalby is always closely contested, just like Fed-Safin matches. Fed has this feeling that the other guy has the goods to beat him if in form. But he has demolised Nalabndian more than twice in his eight wins, whereas the ones which Nalbandian has won have all been tight matches with Fed winning atleast a set or stretching a set to a tie-breaker. He has beated fed before in finals, and he had never played Nadal before their Madrid encounter. So its not as if, all of a sudden he started playing well.. after all he had been the No 3 player in the world.

But well.. doing that in 2 tournaments and doin it for a whole year is altogether a different proportion. Nadal looks Godly, and unbeatable when he is one his clay-run every year.. but he couldnt maintain it for the whole year. Thats why he has never come close to No 1 ranking all these years.

Regarding Fed losing to Nalby.. well he has played 13 matches in 16 days, a few 3 setters.. and if that doesnt tire you, what will. Nalby was more fresh after the break at Basel.
Also Fed has to play someone like Karlovic which just doesnt help in his preparation against Nalbandian on a slow court which he still hasnt come to grips with.

And i dont think Nalby will win the Master’s cup if he plays in Shanghai. Nadal and Fed will be more than ready for him this time.

sensationalsafin Says:

Federer probably, Nadal probably not. Some people argue that Nalbandian should have been more tired than Federer because he played 2 matches while Federer had a bye. Well, in the Paris match, I really think preparation was the deciding factor. Federer definetly wasn’t as fresh as possible after winning in Basel, but the problem was that his first match was against Karlovic. Nalbandian played Almagro and Moya. Both Nalbandian and Federer are very rythmic players, they like rallying and working points. Federer hit forehand winners and service winners and pretty much nothing else against Karlovic. Nalbandian obviously got into a sufficient groove plus the mental edge and that’s why he won in straight sets. It was still close, but Nalbandian had 2 edges to help him out. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an excuse. Nalbandian could have easily tanked that match but took advantage of his advantage and did what he had to do. Some one like Roddick would’ve probably f*cked it up but Nalbandian is a smart guy.

zola Says:

congratulations to you on your guys success. I think the image from Nalby was that he was too distracted by car racing and he was out of shape. But even so, he had a great H2H with Fed and in 2005 won the master cup from nowhere. I really enjoy watching him ( as long as the opponent is not Rafa!).I would love to see him take out Fed in Shanghai and AO!

Sean, Fed was playing for 3 weeks straight before coming to Paris. I don’t think a bye will do it. Nalby played 45 matches all season. He is considerably fresher than many of those who played a whole year. This is not to undermine his great strokes and strategical game. but you can’t over rule it.

I don’t want to discuss Rafa’s loss here. maybe later. but Fed took a set from him in Madrid and in Paris, I would have been curious to see how he would play if he was not so tired. Shanghai will be a good place.

Ryan Says:

” He just doesn’t look godly, like he does against Roddick. Is it really as simple as court coverage? ”

To sensationalsafin……I dont agree with you on the fact that it’s just as simple as court coverage.Canas got thrashed by fed in madrid and its not like canas didnt try.Do you think fed can do the same to nalby if nalby is in the form he is now.Of course court coverage is one of the factors but its not like fed was so frustrated with nalby’s court coverage that he was spraying his shots like he did with Canas earlier this year.If you watch TM2005 final you’ll find that nalbandian’s unpredictable backhand and his wonderful return of serve did most of the damage.Quite frankly fed’s shots looked a little ordinary at those times.
There is no weaknesses for nalbandian’s groundstrokes which fed has exploited.nalby’s only weakness could be his serve and mental attitude.But with djokovic, fed did exploit a few weaknesses in the US open 2007 final.Example:-fed’s backhands down the line were clean winners…djok was not even near the ball,
fed’s sliced backhand to djok’s backhand resulted in UE because it robbed the pace of the ball etc, Sometimes it felt that fed moved djok around the court more than djok did to fed despite djok’s good court coverage.

To tejuz…..ur right about the fact that fed fears an in form nalbandian or safin atleast a little bit.This reduces the confidence in fed’s groundstrokes and helps his opponents.Whereas i personally dont think fed fears djok as much.It could also be due to the H2H record.

grendel Says:

There’s been a lot of concentration on Federer (just for a change), but how about Nadal?

He had an outrageously good draw, and he had to get to the final if he wasn’t to look bad – that’s credit to him, because we know he’s going to try. On the other hand, no conclusions whatever can be drawn from Djokovic’s premature exit. The man just wasn’t there; he’ll be there at Shanghai. Different personalities.

Nadal’s one possible hurdle – Youzhny – was worn out the previous night in his battle against Haas. And then Baggy was just Baggy. Terrific tennis as you’d expect, and yet even when he was a set and a break up, you just knew Nadal would win. People like Jane are forever saying that Fed wins many matches by default (not taking anything away from him, brilliant and all that, but; I just love Jane’s qualifications..) because his opponents don’t believe they can win. Even that dastardly Djokovic, in whom so many hopes were reposed, let the side down in New York with a choke of monumental proportions, drat the fellow. And there is some truth in this. But imo, this constraint actually applies with more cogency to Nadal’s opponents. They get that startled look in their eyes, a rabbit before the headlights. At 0 – 30 and 2 – 0 in second set, Baggy, who had been looking reasonably cheerful, was wearing that look. You knew the match was essentially over, although plenty more nice tennis.

So Nadal fulfilled his part of the bargain and strolled into the final. And there he met a man who, far from being afraid of him, actually relished playing him. The rest is history, but I think there are repercussions. The manner of Nadal’s loss, his disintegration, this will have been noticed by his fellow players. The man’s human after all sort of thing. This counts, and Nadal will have lost a certain edge. People like Gasquet, for example, who definitely have the game to beat Nadal, but have hitherto lacked the mind, will be encouraged.

Meanwhile, I don’t agree with Tejuz that Nadal will be ready for Nalbandian in Shangai. Nalbandian is just better than Nadal, and if he hasn’t gone walkabout, he will win. Even on clay, he’s in with a shout – look for surprises at RG.

zola Says:

you noted something very important about Nadal. If he knows he will win, he will.

I don’t make a lot of fuss about Youzhny being tired. RAfa went to play Nalby after a 3 setter with Baghdatis in Paris and after another one in Madrid. He never made that an excuse for his loss. Neither Youzhny can make that excuse, It goes for everyone.

About the mental edge, again I disagree. Youzhny had won Rafa twice on hard courts . The first one was a thrashing in USOpen 2006. Youzhny had the mental edge in Paris but Rafa won. It is not about what Rafa’s opponente belive. It is what Rafa himself believe he can do. Against Nalby he did not believe he could win that match. It was so obvious.

Nalbandian has always been a great player. I think this challenge will make Rafa a better player, as Rafa and Nalby and Hewitt’s challenge made Federer a better player. Rafa may or may not win Nalby in Shanghai or AO , but he will try to improve and win him one day and that’s what makes Rafa such a tough opponent.

I remember last year at this time everyone was writing Rafa off. But he came back in 2007 with a more aggressive game and more net play. So, I know he is working on different things in his game and that’s the important thing. As long as he is willing to learn and change, defeats can only be another lesson for him.

Ryan Says:

“Meanwhile, I don’t agree with Tejuz that Nadal will be ready for Nalbandian in Shangai. Nalbandian is just better than Nadal, and if he hasn’t gone walkabout, he will win. Even on clay, he’s in with a shout – look for surprises at RG”

Do agree with grendel…..during the french open there were a lot of guys in this blog who used to say that nalby had a chance against nadal on whichever surface…They were right.Nadal looked dazed.He just didnt know what to do against nalbandian.All he tried to do was to keep nalby on the move but that didnt work.Nadal’s second serve gets thrashed by nalbandian’s returns.If he tries to go to nalbandian’s forehand like he goes to federer’s backhand then that’s not going to work either.So i guess nadal’s knees will shake the next time they play.By the way did rafa figure out youzhny?He’s been losing to him for the last 2 or 3 matches now.

sensationalsafin Says:

This doesn’t make any sense. This isn’t the juniors where when one kid is better than another he’s always going to win just because he’s better. In the pros there’s no telling who’s gonna win on any given day. That’s tennis in general, too, but this is how the pros work. This is what makes Federer’s dominance actually more strange than unbelievable. Somehow, he took all the unpredictability out of the game, which is why some people don’t like him. But the way Nalbandian thrashes world number 2 Nadal like it’s the way it’s supposed to be and always gonna be, that’s just bad for the game honestly. You don’t wanna see Nadal losing so badly on a consistent basis. I think this further proves my point that Nalbandian is just playing perfect tennis and will drop atleast a little by next year.

alex Says:

Senastionalsafin has a point!! I enjoyed reading your posts. Please keep posting.

I do agree that tennis is more interesting now. As for Nalby, I do hope he can continue this form all through 2008. However , time will tell . Nonetheless, as a tennis fan, I simply love it.

This is our country, where freedom of speech and difference in opinions is allowed. I love the diversity in opinions.

I love tennis. I love USA.

Please keep writing and sharing.

rogers twin sister Says:

As I recall, Nalby had approx. 65 UE when playing Ferrer (who had over 40 himself), and he looked totally spent from early in the match. How did he manage to come back from that looking like he’d spent a week relaxing? I hope they tested his urine the minute he walked off the court. Still, given the way he was drenched in sweat from the get-go, he probably perspired all trace of whatever from his system before the end of the match. You don’t go from plummeting to the earth in rankings just to suddenly beat numbers 1, 2, 3 in a row. If you were a rising young gun, yes…like Djoko did, but not a fat,underachieving, aging lothario like Nalby.

My take is that yes, the top seeds are tired by the time they get to Bercy, but they’re also anxious to get to Shanghai so they tank as fast as they can. Davydenko got raked over the coals for that while Djoko got a pass for an even worse performance. I’m thinking Nadal was trying his best to lose to Bagboy, but had to end up winning and cursing under his breath because he needed to get to Shanghai in a big hurry since all the others were already there.

And all this ballyhoo every time Fed loses a match is annoying. You’re like a pack of frantic poodles jumping up and down yapping about how Fed is beatable, finished, on the decline, not really #1. PFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTT I’ve been an avid tennis fan for 40 years, and I’ve NEVER seen anyone like Fed. OK, maybe Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf.

Don’t get me wrong, I was a huge fan of many great players, but Fed has me completely awestruck. Definitely the GOAT.

Allez Justine…I see you’ve demolished Chaka in the WTA YEC!

sensationalsafin Says:

“Davydenko got raked over the coals for that while Djoko got a pass for an even worse performance.”

I never even thought about that mainly because I pay no attention to the whole betting scandal. But still, especially considering Davydenko atleast lost to someone who was playing well, Baghdatis, while Djokovic lost to Santoro of all people.

Are you really suggesting Nalbandian is cheating? As much as I hate him nothing could be worse than that. Because then everyone should legitamately hate him for meddling in history like that. Ferrer’s a tough opponent who plays a “smaller” version of Nalbandian’s game, that’s why I think he was tired. Plus I heard that he didn’t play that smart, hitting a lot of dropshots against someone who is known to easily get to them.

The reason there’s so much commotion everytime Federer loses is simply because he has set his bar up so high anything lower seems like a failure, not that it is.

rogers twin sister Says:

The Nalby/Ferrer match was a comedy of errors with the result being over 100 errors between them. How on earth did ANYONE win that debacle? That wasn’t a tennis match, it was a, “Oh for Pete’s sake, when will this be over,” fest.

I’ve always thought Nalby was a good player with the potential to be a truly great player, but his ranking decline this year proved he doesn’t have the guts for greatness.

Ferrer, to me, has always been a sweaty, little grinder with a chip on his shoulder.

FedEx will relinquish his position someday, and then the jugglers and clowns will have a field day doing tricks in the circus that is tournament tennis. Until then, dream on, lovers!

Again…allez Justine. Out of the entire pack, you deserve to be #1. Mauresmo, you broke my heart! Come back next year and just DO IT!

sensationalsafin Says:

“and then the jugglers and clowns will have a field day doing tricks in the circus that is tournament tennis. Until then, dream on, lovers!”

What does that mean?

grendel Says:

Zola says about Nadal:”if he knows he will win, he will win”. Zola, that rather depends upon the other player. Matter of simple logic. Think of it: suppose the other player also knows he’s going to win? What then, eh? There is a way out of this circle, actually. Both players go in thinking they are going to win – and I’ll bet you Nadal DID initially think he was going to win. Nalbandian convinced him otherwise, simply by the undeniable superiority of his play – and also his attitude; don’t underplay that. The players do sense where their opponents are at, and if they sense weakness, they strike. You say, Zola, “it is not about what rafa’s opponents believe”. Oh, to some extent it is, just as sometimes, as Jane keeps telling us, it is with Fed – the opponents help to defeat themselves, there is absolutely no doubt about this. Even so, noone is writing Rafa off – my point is only that Nalbandian has disturbed that aura which Nadal carries about him. That will help those other players who are his equal in ability. Of course, he remains deserved favourite for RG – I was teasing a bit there. But he’s no longer quite such a hot favourite.

To Rogers Twin Sister: at Bercy, Nalbandian beat the top 2 players, not 3, that was Madrid. And you’re living ina dream world, pal, if you think Federer and Nadal tanked. Fed fought like a tiger, whilst Nadal fell apart and clearly felt like hell about it. Meanwhile, I think your comments about David Ferrer are distasteful. Chip on his shoulder? He is patently one of the nicest guys out there. And he is as gutsy as they come, a real terrier of a player. There was one match this year, I think in Hamburg, where he damn near beat Federer. Every time Fed broke his unfortunately weak serve, Ferrer broke his opponent’s infinitely stronger serve straight back. Fed knew he’d been in a scrap alright.

About Nalbandian. If you are used to watching him, you’ll know he ALWAYS

Update Time Says:

roddick is on a flight today to shanghai while david has elected to remain argentina, turning down the alternate role at the masters. tommy robredo is the next alternate.

groupings will be released wednesday.

grendel Says:

Zola says about Nadal:”if he knows he will win, he will win”. Zola, that rather depends upon the other player. Matter of simple logic. Think of it: suppose the other player also knows he’s going to win? What then, eh? There is a way out of this circle, actually. Both players go in thinking they are going to win – and I’ll bet you Nadal DID initially think he was going to win. Nalbandian convinced him otherwise, simply by the undeniable superiority of his play – and also his attitude; don’t underplay that. The players do sense where their opponents are at, and if they sense weakness, they strike. You say, Zola, “it is not about what rafa’s opponents believe”. Oh, to some extent it is, just as sometimes, as Jane keeps telling us, it is with Fed – the opponents help to defeat themselves, there is absolutely no doubt about this. Even so, noone is writing Rafa off – my point is only that Nalbandian has disturbed that aura which Nadal carries about him. That will help those other players who are his equal in ability. Of course, he remains deserved favourite for RG – I was teasing a bit there. But he’s no longer quite such a hot favourite.

To Rogers Twin Sister: at Bercy, Nalbandian beat the top 2 players, not 3, that was Madrid. And you’re living ina dream world, pal, if you think Federer and Nadal tanked. Fed fought like a tiger, whilst Nadal fell apart and clearly felt like hell about it. Meanwhile, I think your comments about David Ferrer are distasteful. Chip on his shoulder? He is patently one of the nicest guys out there. And he is as gutsy as they come, a real terrier of a player. There was one match this year, I think in Hamburg, where he damn near beat Federer. Every time Fed broke his unfortunately weak serve, Ferrer broke his opponent’s infinitely stronger serve straight back. Fed knew he’d been in a scrap alright.

About Nalbandian. If you are used to watching him, you’ll know he ALWAYS sweats prodigiously. And this aging Lothario,b.t.w. is younger than Fed. My prediction – which is worthless, but it is fun to make them – is that if Nalbandian is still with his new coach Jaite this time next year, he will have won at least one slam and come close in a couple of others. If he splits with him, he’ll disappear back into Safin space.

grendel Says:

gee, so sorry about long double post. These damn computers, or something…

rogers twin sister Says:

Let’s see Nalby win a slam first before crowning him King of the Court. He’s a tremendous talent who, like Safin, underachieves consistently.They both squander their talent and opportunities that others would love to have. I’m not a great admirer of slackers, as you can plainly see.

Take a look at Daniela Hantuchova. Against all odds, she fought back from her frail mental status to end up in the top ten and at the WTA YEC. Way to go, Daniela! I was never a fan of hers until now.

Re the “jugglers and clowns” remark: that was intended for the yapping poodles who drool every time Fed loses a match. Hey, he’s got to lose some of them, or the poodles would have no reason to salivate. As I said, some day, he will no longer be #1, but he’ll still be the greatest of all time…bar none!

rogers twin sister Says:

P.S. 60 unforced errors do not a champion make.

rogers twin sister Says:

“…he damn near beat Federer.” Um, that’s still called LOSING!

grendel Says:

I wonder if you knew, rogers twin sister, that Nalbandian for a good part of this season has been frustrated by injury. Safin, of course, has been absolutely plagued by very serious injury, and Greg “the teeth” Rusedski, for one, is of the opinion that he is still hampered by it, to the extent that it is improbable he can ever make a proper comeback. All this ignorant crap about slackers. These great athletes have highly tuned bodies, and even a minor injury, if persistent, can disrupt their games just enough to render success out of reach.

That’s not to say that Safin and Nalbandian have not at times been their own worst enemies. But glib little sneers come cheap. Meanwhile, Nalbandian is not king of anything yet, agreed. The point is, he has put himself in a position where it is realistic to suppose that he may challenge for some top spots. Let us see. And b.t.w., those defeats of Federer are good ones. Hard fought battles won and lost by good men and true. Not, that is, some blip such as the Volandri defeat – which truly was not significant (except perhaps for Volandri).

whirling Says:

stop press: rafa is human after all!
at least daviiiid has spiced things up at the top of the game (just like the Djoker)
…otherwise there’d be nothing to rant about in blogs
…rafa’s only 21 vs daviiiid’s 25 and roger’s 26, so plenty of time for him to improve and become even stronger mentally and tactically
…and wasn’t everyone writing rafa off at the end of last year…
anyway both rafa and daviiiid look great topless, so no complaints there

Tejuz Says:

I wish Safin can look at Nalby’s performance and make an comeback himself next year. It will be fun to have some old (Fed, Safin, Roddick and Nalby)and the new brigade in the top 10.

Grendel, when i said Nadal will be ready for Nalbandian.. is that he will atleasy work on his game. His second loss might be because he was unprepared for this treatment by Nalbandian. He has be thrashed like this before.. against Berdych, GHonzalez at AO, Youzhny, Blake.. so its nothing new.. but he did find a way to beat them all.. even on faster surface. Thats why hez been number 2 in the world for 3 years.

Many player go through this phase that Nalbandian is goin through, where they looks unbeatable.. But it doesnt last long.

Yeah, agree with Ryan.. Fed fears Nalby more than Djok.. primarly becuz of their past encounters and also cuz he cant exploint the Nalby’s weaknesses as much as Djoks. Djok certainly has weakness agaist sliced ball where he has to create pace of his own with heavy topspin.. Santoro showed that last week. Fed did the same in UO final.

sensationalsafin Says:

Nadal’s never beaten Blake. It would be awesome if Safin followed in Nalbandian’s hot streak footsteps. But if you really want to create a top 10 based on talent and should-be inevitable greatness, Roddick doesn’t belong. I like Roddick, he’s american and he’s got a fun personality to watch which is good for tennis, but he’s not up there when it comes to talent. Federer, Safin, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Gasquet, Berdych, Baghdatis, Nalbandian, and I guess Roddick, although I would love to see Hewitt back in the mix. But atleast those first 9, imo, should make up the top 10. I dont what else to say, but injuries really suck.

Tejuz Says:

Yes, wud love to have these guys in the top 10, and featuring in the QFs all the time. Safin on top of his game can decimate an on-form Nalbandian.

Even if Nalby does maintain his form over to next year, i dont think he has the potential to become No 1. He cant dominate the way Fed or Nadal does when they are on a winning streaks. Indoor courts suit him more than others hence he has all his masters titles on an indoor surface.. But when external elements come into picture it gets tough and his rhythm gets thrown off.

johnnhoj Says:

I don’t know if anyone remembers the post match speeches after the final in Madrid. Nalbandian acknowledged Federer’s greatness but not before including “There is no doubt you are the best player in the world AT THE MOMENT…”. Makes me wonder if Nalbandian’s revving up for 2008, and these indoor Masters tourneys were the trials. This being said, I’m not worried about Federer. He’s gonna continue winning big titles. His eventual ranking slip is an inevitability, whenever that is. He’s got years of great tennis ahead. Not worried about Fed.
I’m glad to see Nalbandian (maybe) back in the mix. For a number of years in the early ’00s he was stuck behind the threshold of greatness. At 25, he’s now making up for lost time. Maybe I’m wrong and he’ll fade next year. I doubt it. I’m sure the other guys are paying attention.

Tejuz Says:

Nalby will probabaly do better than he did before because of this new found confidence after winning the 2 masters. But i wudnt expect him to be anything more than a threat in Grandslams. He might probabaly win one.

grendel Says:

Tejuz, my impression was that Nalbandian’s double demolition of Nadal was different to the other beatings – by Youzhny, Gonzo, Blake. Much, much more emphatic. Just my impression.

Agree, Nalbandian won’t become #1, or of he does, will only hold it for a few weeks. He won’t be able to handle the pressure. But I think he will be quite comfortable winning 2 or 3 slams. So whilst the top 3 are fighting it out for #1, Nalbie will be the joker in the pack.

sensationalsafin Says:

2 or 3 slams in a year? No way, maybe over the next 5 years. Does anyone else agree that an ON Safin would beat an ON Nalbandian?

rogers twin sister Says:


I agree that an ON Safin could beat an ON Nalbandian or an ON anyone. It’s sad to watch him these days knowing what a great talent he has wasted. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Safin to make a comeback, though.

sensationalsafin Says:

Well I’m pretty sure Safin’s gonna end up retired by the end of next year. I was just wondering since people even think that and ON Nalbandian could beat an ON Federer. But I definetly think Safin would really be untouchable. Safin’s power will always be a factor. Correction, would have always been a factor.

grendel Says:

No, sensational safin, of course not 2 or 3 a year – at least I shouldn’t have thought so. I meant altogether.

Don’t see how Safin can come back – he just can’t completely shake off his injury. I do think Nalbandian, when on, would always have a chance against Federer however he was playing. A chance, note, not a cert. But no chance whatever against the Safin who beat Sampras.

sensationalsafin Says:

Nalbandian’s talent surely makes him an underachiever but even with 2 slams, Safin is the greatest underachiever in tennis history. Safin’s greatest injury, though, is in his head. ON Nalbandian vs ON Federer might be a close match but I still say Federer wins. Federer’s talent goes beyond the shots he hits, I think he’s the best tactical player ever.

jane Says:

grendel – i did bring up the confidence (of lack thereof) factor in federer’s opponents, but only because it’s true, and because it’s a factor in his rivalry with nalbandian, given their history. of course it’s a factor for other players too; while i can’t read their minds, anybody playing federer knows they’re playing a man touted as the “greatest tennis player of all time” so that’s gotta be somewhat daunting, no? not to mention that he’s got a winning record against almost every single player! he should be feared. but it doesn’t bode well if all his opponents deep down think they’re going to lose before they get on the court.

about nadal – i didn’t think he looked so bad against nalbandian in the first set of the paris final, but once nalbandian began crushing his second serves, and in nalbandian’s own words “hitting winners from everywhere”, he broke to win the first set and nadal’s confidence seemed shattered. he couldn’t seem to get back on track afterwards, to step it up: as some have said, he seemed stunned and didn’t know what to do.

I think the “fear” or confidence factor applies to rafa’s opponents as well, but not to the same degree as federer’s opponents. rafa has only ever won a slam on and dominated on clay; his opponents know they have a chance against rafa on the other surfaces. rafa has a tendency to be inexorable, which can wear a lot of players down, and break their confidence. but federer is just so talented, they don’t know what to do a lot of the time.

someone said earlier that rafa hasn’t been the same since wimbledon. i agree. i think that loss in the final took a lot out of him mentally and physically. obviously his knees, and that he never does great on hard court at the us open etc, are issues, but he’s seems somewhat less fired up? i’m not sure. maybe it’s only the injury. but injuries affect confidence too – as murray’s recent visits with a sport psychologist testify. maybe this is partly what’s happening with rafa.

anyhow, nalbandian has proven in these last two tournaments that he’s able to beat the best out there, and i have said this before: i really believe that if he hadn’t blown match point against ferrer at this year’s us open, he could have had a shot at the title. but he blew it; he made a bad decision. and ferrer (who also played a great match) ran away with it and faced a weaker nadal.

Skorocel Says:

Dear Jane,

reading your comments, one must have a feeling that every single match Roger Federer wins is already won before it even begins… Then what? As Fed often says, he has worked VERY hard to achieve this status, so please, let him enjoy this moment of glory a bit!

Maybe I misunderstood you, but do you really think Nalbandian lost all those matches vs Fed because of fearing him? You must be joking! How on earth can this guy lose 8 out of their last 9 matches to Fed because of fearing him and then beat him in 2 consecutive tournaments?! That just doesn’t have any logic!

You may think they fear him, don’t you? Of course they do (to a certain extent), but on the other hand, EVERYONE of them (except maybe Nadal and Djoker) goes into these matches thinking he has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to lose, whereas Fed can lose A LOT (especially on slams)… With the exception of some clay-court matches vs Nadal, Fed’s always been the one who was hunted – and still, they haven’t “caught” him for 4 consecutive years!

“but federer is just so talented, they don’t know what to do a lot of the time.” There you go! You know it’s not just because they fear him – it’s because the guy has all the shots you can imagine! That’s why he’s deservedly at the top!

P.S. As someone posted earlier, almost every one of your posts has a certain tendency to be an “anti Federer” one. Whether it’s just a blind praising of his opponents (despite not being a fan of even one of them!) or simply predicting his decline – the bottom line is always about Fed being (literally) the “evil”… One would think you’re a Nadal or Djokovic fan (since you’ve praised them countless times in your posts, haven’t you?), but if Nalbandian could beat them all at this year’s US Open and THEN beat “the King” – you wouldn’t mind… Well, that must be one helluva boring experience to watch this sport only because wanting to see one certain player to lose… Don’t be offended, but to me it seems as a whining… Whining about something which someone has worked very hard to achieve – something, which he really deserves… Please, come on! Look at grendel – he/she seems to be a Fed fan (at least that’s what I understood from his/her posts), but doesn’t forget to give credit where the credit is due – even if it is Fed’s opponents.

SG Says:

ON Safin vs. ON Nalbandian…

-They are both prone to a lot of errors on the forehand wing which wouldn’t be there if they were both on…advantage Safin ’cause he can just flat out blast a tennis ball.

-They are both strong on the backhand wing, but Safin’s backhand is simply the most explosive backhand in the world. Advantage Safin

-Serve….no contest here. Safin’s first serve is ferocious. Nalby’s is not. Both their 2nd serves are vulnerable. Based on the big first serve, it’s advantage Safin and quite a few cheap points in clutch moments.

-Speed…Nalbandian. No doubt. The man can fly arond the court.

-Volleys…Nalby. He’s no Edberg or Sampras, but compared to Safin he pretty much is.

-Intangibles…Safin knows that he is capable of winning majors. He knows that his best tennis has beaten Federer and Sampras (two of the greatest players to ever hold a racket). Nalby has yet to prove he can take that next step. Advantage Safin. And I think this is a big one.

Now were talking about an ON Safin vs ON Nalby. I just don’t see Nalby having the firepower to withstand the havoc caused by Safin’s power. That’s my take on the subject (if anyone cares).

jane Says:

Hi Skorocel,

No, I’m not “anti-federer” (what would that mean anyhow?) Nor do I mean to say that Federer wins by “default” as grendel said earlier with regards to my previous posting.

I simply mean confidence, or the lack of it, is ONE factor among many in any tennis match.

Of course Federer deserves his position as numner one; he’s a fantastic player. I’ve said it many times.

No, Roger’s not my favorite player. Yes, two of my current favorites are Nadal and Djokovic; I also really like Andy Murray’s game and have been a Roddick fan for a number of year, mainly because I like his tenacity and that he just keeps trying to improve his game. I miss Agassi a lot too… Anyhow, I have a lot of faves; I love the sport generally.

But let me clarify: I actually meant the complete OPPOSITE with regards to Nalbandian. Sorry if I wasn’t clear. What I meant to say was that Nalbandian HAS the confidence, or at least a lack of fear, when it comes to playing Roger; he has a decent record against him, he’s known him since the Juniors, and, as you say, he has nothing to lose when he goes up against Roger. He also seems to have the tactics or style of play to throw Roger off.

On the contrary, when a player like Roddick, or lets face it, MOST other players, since they mostly have losing records against Roger, come up against him, perhaps lack of confidence is one factor amongst, obviously, others (including surface, talent, tactics, conditions, and myriad other factors) . I’m by no means saying Roddick has the game to beat Roger consistently, but I do think, since he’s come darn close in some sets, and won a few too, that maybe if he had a little more belief he could pull out a “W” every now and again. Last year, at the MC, Roddick had at least one match point, right? Maybe it freaked him out to think “I’m going to finally win one” and he choked. On the other hand, maybe Andy’s over-confidence at the AO blew the match for him. More like it’s because Roger was simply floating – which is what it seemed like! – through that match! He simply was “too good”.

But other times, when Roger isn’t in superman mode, confidence or the lack of it may be an important factor for his opponents. Confidence alone won’t win a match, of course, but the lack of it, in some situations, or even in some points, may lose it. That’s all I meant to say.

jane Says:

Playing smart is another huge factor: Roddick doesn’t always play smart; he seems more instinctual. Sometimes this works for him, and other times it doesn’t. Nadal and Murray play smart imo. Murray is great in that regard; and he’s got some fantastic defence, like Rafa. Djokovic? I’m not sure yet. He’s good at keeping players back and yanking them around the court. But sometimes he just plays too long! He’s gotta fix that. One thing that amazes me about Roger is his unshakable focus; it’s not often he is rattled. It gets really interesting to watch when he is, since it’s so unsual! Like in the Wimbledon final. Nalbandian, surprisingly, seems to have found his focus, and perhaps this is what’s making the difference for him. I don’t know much about his new coach, but he seems to be doing good stuff. Safin? I just wish he wouldn’t self-implode. He’s SO good when he’s focused.

sensationalsafin Says:

SG, the one thing I disagree with you on is the volleys. Nalbandian has the edge here, I agree, but it’s not like Safin sucks. And when he’s on he’ll come into net successfully, like in the AO semi in 2005. But other than that it’s really the “explosiveness” of Safin that makes all the difference. His raw power is just too damn much for any player. Even in this age of hard hitters, Safin is just too hard I guess.

That’s a pretty important point about the confidence Nalbandian has against Federer. I mean he won their first 5 matches and now they’re 8-8. So when Federer beats Nalbandian you can’t say it’s a confidence thing.

jane Says:

Federer has everything going for him; of course he has a lot to lose too (i.e. in terms of points and whatnot). But he’s got talent and focus in spades. Hence he’s dominated so long. He’s got determination to beat Pete’s record, play at the Olympics and win the French as well. He’s very clear about his goals. Maybe he’s slipping a teeny bit, but he’s still at the top and imo will be in the top mix even after he loses his number one spot. Which will be when? 2008? 2009? 2010? When he retires? Who knows. But he’s not going anywhere fast. And I doubt if he’s lost much confidence due to Nalbandian’s wins. Maybe it’ll be a factor when they next meet, but I think more for Nalbandian than Federer, who seems to stay pretty focused, especially in Slams.

SG Says:

Listening to commentators, particularly former player commentators, it does seem that intimidation plays a role in the outcome of a match. If a certain player has had little success against another certain player, it’s only natural to walk on the court with some doubts in your head. Fed walks on the court expecting that he will beat Roddick. Roddick doesn’t have any recent history to draw upon to help him believe that he can beat Fed. If you walk onto the court with doubts, you’ll end up in 2nd place more often than not.

Nadal never walks onto a court with Fed with doubts about the outcome. He believes that he will win every time he plays Federer. And this feeling is based on his success against Federer. And he uses his confidence like a sword that he drives through Fed’s game. The result is a winning record. And it’s not luck. Nadal never flinches. Never gives up. Never backs down. He doesn’t give Federer an inch. Fed has to earn every point.

sensationalsafin Says:

Well I’d say Federer’s done a pretty good job of dealing with Nadal. Despite the losing record he’s still got 5 wins. Considering Federer brings out the absolute best in Nadal it’s amazing that their matches are still as close as they are.

jane Says:

Federer has brought out the absolute best in other players too; that’s one of the great things that he’s brought to the sport: raising the bar. the problem is the bar’s too damn high! but there are players who are getting closer, which makes it more interesting.

Don’t know if I can see anyone else winning the MC besides Roger, but I’d probably pick number two or three next. Gasquet is an interesting contender though…

sensationalsafin Says:

If Djokovic comes in playing like the Djokovic we’ve seen throughout most of the year, I’d say he’s the second favorite to win it. Based on recent results, though, not so much. I hope Gasquet actually plays well. I don’t feel like watching him waste his own talent choking at the big occasion.

grendel Says:

Jane, you missed the fact that, whilst I was teasing you a bit – you do raise this confidence thing vis-a-vis Federer time and again, and always there is a slight edge there, which is not surprising given a certain compulsion to repeat – I also acknowledged there was truth in it. It is certainly undeniable, and ironically it can be seen in the Fed/Nadal matches – only on the other foot. Not only, as SG powerfully, almost poetically points out, does Nadal not give an inch to Fed, but Fed feels this to his disadvantage. Contrast Nalbie and Fed against Nadal – Nalbie is carefree and aggressive, Fed tends to be careworn and passive.

The other side of this coin is pointed out by Skorocel – pressure. Sampras confessed to being exhausted after achieving his 7th (that’s right?) year ending as #1, and he was relieved to let it go. This tiredness is surely mental and emotional, and it is what we are beginning to see in Federer now. There is no need to feel sorry for Fed, of course, this is a route he has chosen, and it has huge potential rewards, and I don’t mean financial, though there’s that too, I suppose. But there is a heavy price to pay, and this is certainly reflected in the play and presumably affects some results.

How do you balance these conflicting forces: the fear factor which Fed induces in most of his opponents on the one hand, and the inhibiting burden Fed carries of never ending pressure on the other?

Well, obviously you can’t. It seems sensible, therefore, not to rush to judgement about the alleged advantages Fed has on the psychological plane.

jane Says:

grendel: i’m not rushing to judgment though. i’m merely pointing out that’s it is perhaps one factor in nalbie’s success of late. surely the new coach may have instilled confidence. and surely, given nalbie’s confidence, and game, this may have affected federer’s confidence. it works both ways.

you’re right to note the contrast in nalbie or federer against nadal. but i do think nadal is facing his own confidence slump at the moment, as mentioned. he was beaten badly at the open and hasn’t won anything for a while. sure he got to the final in paris, but nalbie, after the first set, bageled him.

the pressure issue is also true. roger faces tons of it, especially with the g.o.a.t. and historical records. he handles it extremely well, but he’s also really focused in terms of his goals. rafa is under a lot of pressure too, with djokovic close behind, he could lose number 2 before anyone takes number 1 from roger.

skorcel pointed out that the lack of pressure on federer’s opponents may be a factor, which is also true. but i think the intimidation factor, which sg, myself and others mention, may be stronger. once federer gets a lead, a lot of opponents fade (whether focus or level of play). rafa doesn’t. nor did nalbandian in madrid.

jane Says:

sorry that’s “skorocel” with two “o”s

jane Says:

The MC Red group consists of Federer, Davydenko, Roddick and Gonzalez: the only possible threat for Roger there, imo, is Roddick, mainly due to Davydenko’s recent form and Gonzo’s erratic year.

The Gold group will be more tightly contested I think, with Rafa, Djokovic, Ferrer, and Gasquet. I honestly don’t know who I’d call to come through as a finalist there – maybe Djoker.

The alternates are Robredo and Chela; does that mean Nalbandian didn’t want to make the trip? Anyone know?

jane Says:

Further to Roddick’s chances, or, at least, hunger, the DEUCE magazine article says this:

“Roddick figures to bring his all to Shanghai. Having only played one tournament match since the U.S. Open, he might well be less tournament tough than desired, but he’s also rested, hungry and well aware that both this event and another at month’s end are exceptionally important.”

It seemed Roddicks partnership with Connors was working better last year than this one, but as the article says, maybe this year was one of refinement, or tweaking, and the results we saw initially last year were in part due to andy’s renewed confidence or Jimmy’s inspiration. New coaches do bring new hope and perspective. And as much as tennis is extremely physical, it’s also very mental (fear, confidence, hope, smarts, tactics, focus, and so on), as andrea pointed out above.

rogers twin sister Says:

Doping, match-fixing, and now poison? Where does it all end? If Tommy Haas was poisoned, is that also what happened to Andy Roddick earlier this year?

The upside is that tennis gets publicity from all of this mayhem, but the downside is a total loss of credibility. Let’s hope the sport doesn’t go the way of cycling with sponsors departing at record speed.

Fed Fan Says:

“Tejuz Says

Many player go through this phase that Nalbandian is goin through, where they looks unbeatable.. But it doesnt last long.”

You got to be kidding right?! If you get facts straight. What Nalbandian is going through is winning two indoor masters back to back (only other player to have achieved the same feat was Safin), in the process, beating No.1 Fed and No.2 Nadal twice each (throw in N0.3 Djok as a bonus) within three weeks. and beating both of them in a master series final. Not to mention absolutly destroyed Nadal’s game in both encounters. Name me one other player in history that has gone through this “phase” as you put it.

I’m a Federer fan but what Nalbandian has achieved was astonishing. Hope he continues to do well next year.

jane Says:

rogers twin sister – maybe this is what was going on at the us open? more poisoning! there were so many mysterious ailments (breathing & stomach problems) and trainer calls there, with gasquet, berdych, henin, and others: one does begin to wonder after hearing about the haas davis cup case. there were a lot of illnesses during the davis cup as well.

next thing you know, someone will pour poison into roger, the king’s, ear…


ross Says:

Nalbandian is a great player and deserves all the accolades and these two wins…

However, best of 5 matches are very different from best of 3. And you have to win 7 of those to win a grand slam tournament – no wonder so few players do it. To maintain this level over 2 weeks, 7 matches in a row, best of 5 sets – I am not ready to say that Nalbandian is definitely going to win a slam next year. He is going to be in contention as he has always been, but its as uncertain as it has always been.

That’s where Fed is miles ahead of others. And, to his credit (even though I am not a big Sampras fan), that’s where Sampras was also miles ahead of others. It separates out the men from the boys.

Sean Randall Says:

Guys, Nalbandian wins two titles in three weeks and suddenly he’s elevated to a contender for the No. 1 ranking and Grand Slam titles next year? Wow.

I’d be surprised if he won more than three titles in 2008 and even reached a Slam final.

This is a guy who got hot, true, but can he get consistent? I really need to see more, like how he’ll do in Melbourne before I’m completely convinced this return is real.

Ryan Says:

“skorcel pointed out that the lack of pressure on federer’s opponents may be a factor, which is also true. but i think the intimidation factor, which sg, myself and others mention, may be stronger. once federer gets a lead, a lot of opponents fade (whether focus or level of play). rafa doesn’t”

I don’t really understand what Jane has been saying.Why should the intimidation factor be more than the lack of pressure on fed’s opponents?

I think it could be the other way round.Going for your shots and winning points when you are under pressure is the toughest thing in the world and that pressure is for Fed.Yet he handles it incredibly in a way Pete or any of those G.O.A.T players did.
Fed’s opponents don’t have any pressure.They can always go for their shots even if they are losing.

But I guess it is their desire of beating fed that gets shattered as soon as fed wins half of the match.That plus the match record against him pisses most players off and then they disappear.

Eg:- Djokovic played like he didnt give a damn in Montreal and he won the match(do agree that fed was also a slightly off his game but still).
Whereas in the US open final everyone had their hopes on him to bring federer down and that pressure got to him on the key moments and ruined his chances of winning the match or atleast extending it to 4 or 5 sets.

grendel Says:

Sean – apparently (from a report of an interview he gave recently) Nalbandian is going into intensive training over the break period. And he wants to focus on the slams, Olympics and Davis Cup for 2008. Not interested in ranking. Sounds like he’s getting serious?

On this question of pressure, who will be feeling it more, Federer or Sampras, in their clashes later this month? I’d have thought Fed, by a long way. If Sampras loses, so what, old, out of it, etc – what can you expect? But if Fed loses….I know exhibitions aren’t “serious” – but it seems to me that, like it or not, people are going to pay a lot of attention to these matches. And draw all sorts of conclusions, even if they shouldn’t. I wonder if Federer realised what he was letting himself in for when he signed up for them.

SG Says:

I like Sampras, but if Fed really plays (…no scrwwing around), Sampras will be ground to dust. The guy is 12 or 13 years past his prime and Fed is in the middle (…or back end of the middle) of his. If Sampras gives the real Fed a serious challenge, I will be surprised. In fact, I’ll be left shaking my head.

sensationalsafin Says:

Let’s not forget this is just an exhibition. It really makes no difference one way or the other, it’s for charity. If Federer wins 7-5 in the third set it’s because it was for show, not because Sampras should be back in the top 5. You guys are blowing this way out of proportion.

grendel Says:

Yes, it’s an exho, but my guess is it won’t be regarded as such. Not by the players, and not by the invisible viewing audience.

Sampras, in these conditions, may be much more dangerous than you are thinking. In a slam, with 5 setter after 5 setter, of course he’d be nowhere now. But in a one off 3 setter? Todd Martin and people like that are saying he’s serving as well as ever. 12 or 13 years past his prime? I don’t buy that for one second. Fed will be jaded at end of season. I dunno…..

ross Says:

Fed must have gotten a LOT of money for these exhibition – because he has nothing else to gain from these. His win will be discounted, but his loss will be blown out of proportion.

Exhibitions are “fixed” only for the first two sets. they ALWAYS split the first two sets. Then play the third for real. If I was Fed, I would just tire out Sampras in the first two so that he can steam roll him in the third.

Sampras will be competing hard, that’s for sure. He’s been training for a year now for this.

However, even a prime Sampras would lose to a Prime Fed, on any surface – in 5 sets on grass, 4 sets on a hard court, and 3 quick sets on clay.

sensationalsafin Says:

Who’s regarding it as more than an exo? Remember last time everyone was overrating and exibition match? Roddick def Federer at Kooyong then got smoked when it really mattered. Federer knows it’s not a big deal. When Nadal beat Federer at the battle of the surfaces who really cared? Does that add to Nadal’s advantage over Federer? Not at all. Especially considering how gay it was the way Nadal won. Federer hasn’t even played that much this year, he won’t be that tired. Really, it’s not a big deal, and I doubt Federer will lose anyway.

grendel Says:

Yes, but Fed knew he could get back at Roddick on the real stage, and show what’s what.That option not available with Sampras. If Sampras wins, the cognoscenti will say what you’re saying, Sensational Safin. But with time, a myth will come into being. That’s often how it works. Don’t believe what you read in the history books. I actually doubt that Federer thinks it is not a big deal. He’ll be severely pissed if he loses, that’s my belief.

On the other hand, perhaps I’ve read it entirely wrong, I’ve no idea what I’m talking about, and it’s just another harmless charity event. Entirely possible.

sensationalsafin Says:

I think it’s a harmless charity event. Federer doesn’t take exhibition matches seriously, that’s why he wears his watch during the matches.

st4r5 Says:

Nalbandian, Nadal, Djokovic, Baghdatis, and others are all great players, but Federer is alone in his class, he is above everyone else and he has nothing to prove anymore, while the rest of the pack has a lot to prove, they are trying very hard to be in the same class with him (not to mention to be above). It’s why now Fed is not on overdrive mode, he is starting to lose interests and ambitions, it doesn’t mean that he has completely lost them though, I believe in fact he has managed to keep the fire in his heart professionally. He can no longer be on fire in every match, but he will be, in important matches or tournaments, and this is the kind of Fed that we have now, he started to change and go through this new phase in his life (and this is actually natural). The rest of the pack doesn’t have problems maintaining the fire, ambition and passion, because simply they are still TRYING very hard to PROVE something or anything. It’s in my opinion Fed will still completely dominate the tennis world for another 2 to 3 more years, and after that, he will just be a serious threat to anyone who plays against him, and at this particular stage, he might just win one or two slams (max) per year until he reaches 33 to 35 years old.

SG Says:

Todd Martin and people like that are saying he’s serving as well as ever. 12 or 13 years past his prime? I don’t buy that for one second. Fed will be jaded at end of season. I dunno…..


grendel, Sampras was well past his prime when he won his last two majors. These exhibition matches for charity are admirable. The money goes to a good cause. But Sampras was not merely great server which is what some people would like to suggest. He flew around the court. In fact, he left huge amounts of court open daring people to come after his forehand. How can he be as fast at 36 as he was at 25? How can his reflexes be as good as they were 12 years ago? How can he change directions like he did 12 years ago? It’s time for a reality check. This is thing is a cash cow driven by the debate over which player would have won if they played each other in their primes. Nothing more. And as for the person who said that prime Fed would beat prime Sampras on any surface, keep dreaming. Sampras in his prime was no slouch. He could hit winners from anywhere and he could serve lights out. Looking at Fed sturggle with Roddick’s serve at the Open and more recently with Karlovic’s serve and even Djokovic’s serve, it’s by no means a lock that he’d be beating up on Sampras. Sampras at his best was arguably the best server of all time (…when looking at his 1st serve and 2nd serve combined).

We’re 12 years down the road now. These matches don’t need any hype because it’s all fool’s gold. The organizers are laughing all the way to the bank. Perspective folks…perspective. As much as we’d all like to believe it, no one defeats father time. Not even 14 time GS winner Pete Sampras. If the match is close, it’s a rouse.

sensationalsafin Says:

So basically SG what you’re saying is that Sampras has no chance against Federer but if they both played each other in their prime, back to that age-old question, it’d be a pretty close rivalry. I agree with that 100%. If you’re saying Sampras would dominate Federer, I disagree. But seriously these exo’s are not a big deal at all. There’s no point in overhyping them.

grendel Says:

Was Sampras a more effective server than Karlovic, or Ivanesevic, or Roddick at his best for that matter? I highly doubt it. The thing about Sampras, he was (as you note) a very great player who had a very great serve, which was nearly always on. Karlovic, and even Ivanesevic are rather ordinary players with very great serves – again, nearly always on. Roddick is a lot better than ordinary, but by no means great – but when it’s on, his serve is as lethal as any.

I maintain it is not out of the question for Sampras to beat Fed now, in a one off 3 setter and, this is not inconsistent with also maintaining that Fed would at the very least have held his own against Sampras at his absolute best. (No doubt a good case can be made for either player player – that’s one that will never be resolved). That seems paradoxical, but that’s because you’re taking the mental component out. Every player has a limited store of psychic energy. Sampras is going to be able to throw his all into these matches, I really don’t see that Federer is. At some unconscious level, he is bound to be relaxing – as he certainly won’t be, for example, if he gets to the final next Sunday. It’s not all about flexibility and speed. Of course, if Sampras were to make a temporary comeback (as has occasionally been rumoured), that would be another matter.

ross Says:

A “much below prime” Fed beat a “little past prime” Sampras on his favorite surface and grounds in 2001 wimbledon. Sampras went on to win another slam the following year, so he was certainly not washed out yet. Fed took two more years to win his first slam, after which he has been in devastating form – he certainly was NOWHERE near his peak form of 2006 in 2001.

So I think a peak Fed beats a peak Sampras even on grass, most of the time (not all the time of course, except if its clay, then Sampras is toast).

In 2001, Sampras was closer to his peak (on the way down) than Fed was to HIS peak (on the way up).

SG Says:

So basically SG what you’re saying is that Sampras has no chance against Federer but if they both played each other in their prime, back to that age-old question, it’d be a pretty close rivalry. I agree with that 100%. If you’re saying Sampras would dominate Federer, I disagree. But seriously these exo’s are not a big deal at all. There’s no point in overhyping them.


I don’t think either player could dominate each other (…except for clay where Fed would bash Sampras into oblivion). I don’t agree with Ross though. Despite Sampras’ loss to Fed in 01′ when neither was at their peak, Sampras had already lost some of his motivation having broken the slam record a year earlier. Fed beat Sampras when Sampras deep into the worst slump of his career. Sampras didn’t win a tournament for almost 2 years. That’s not a guy playing at his best or even near it. Especially for someone with Sampras’ talent level. Fed was not at his peak either, but he was hungry. I think that peak Sampras would hold his own against peak Fed on grass or a fast hard court. The AO would be interesting. Sampras would have to be at the absolute peak of his power to beat Fed on that slow hard court. I see peak Sampras with the slight edge at the W and the US Open while I see Fed basically owning Sampras at the AO and in Paris. But, even that may be era dependent. Would Fed be as successful staying on the baseline with the lighter & faster balls of the nineties? Would Sampras be able to hit as many aces & forehand winners today with the heavier balls and slower surfaces? It’s hard to say….

SG Says:

But at this moment in time? I mean really. How can Sampras have any realistic chance if Fed plays like Fed can? It makes no sense. Yes, Sampras may be able to still serve big. But, this is a man who won 5 US Opens ans 2 AO’s. You don’t win those two tournaments with a serve alone. It requires a potent all court game to win those tourneys.

SG Says:

Sammpras doesn’t have the physical tools to win those tournaments anymore while Fed clearly does.

Ani Says:

The game was awesome…David was the best,I’m so proud that David is Armenian like me.David you’re the best tennisist in the world,keep going like that
I love so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2008: Federer Eyes Olympics, Svelte Serena Focused on No. 1 Says:

[…] Novak Djokovic is a legitimate Slam threat, though his 5-match losing skid to finish ’07 and his US Open final gag do worry me slightly. Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet are on the brink of breaking into the Top 5 and Marcos Baghdatis is capable of playing some pretty magical tennis but consistency and fitness still hinder the Cypriot. Then there’s the curious case of David Nalbandian, who was arguably the hottest player at the end of 2007. Nalbandian gained quick acclaim and praise for his multiple beat-downs over Federer and Nadal during the final leg of the last season. The question I had then and still have now is can he sustain that high level after taking the last two months off? I think (and I hope) that we will see flashes of his talent and he’ll even get another win over Fed this season, but I’m not yet convinced that he’ll be back contending at every Slam like was a few years back. […]

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