Nadal Captures First Hamburg Crown; Halts Federer German Dominance
by Sean Randall | May 18th, 2008, 12:37 pm

I said going in that it was going to be tough to draw much value out of the Hamburg winner between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. And after Nadal’s topsy-turvy 7-5, 6-7, 6-3 win over Federer the result hasn’t changed my mind much. ADHEREL

What a strange match though.

Federer raced out to what looked be an insurmountable 5-1 lead with sets points in the first set. Down 2-5 Nadal called for the trainer to get treatment on some discomfort in the back of his right leg. And it looked as though the match might very well end right there.

But Nadal forged onward and Federer immediately did his best Acapulco cliff dive routine losing the next six games and with it the first set.

In the second set Rafa had the early break, but Federer roared back building a 5-2 lead. But yet again the World No. 1 was unable to close out the set (off memory I think Roger was up a break in both sets in Monte Carlo, eventually losing them both. Theme warning?).

Rafa wrapped up the third set pretty comfortably and in doing so the 21-year-old earned his first career Tennis Masters Hamburg title. Nadal has now won a ridiculous 108 of his last 110 clay matches and looks more than primed for a another French Open title run.

Credit to Rafa, though, had he retired I think few would have blamed him with what’s at stake on the horizon, but he didn’t and look how nicely it paid off. That’s why the guy is the best fighter on the tour.

For Federer, who owned a remarkable 41-match win streak in a Germany, it’s back to the drawing board if he’s going to win the French Open in two weeks. This was his court, his conditions and playing in a country where he excels, but it still wasn’t enough to overcome Rafa, and that’s bad news for Roger because the way it looks at the moment the road to the Roland Garros title is going to go through Rafael Nadal. And winning three sets against a healthy Rafa in a place where he has never lost looks like mission impossible right now.

You Might Like:
ATP d Hamburg in Landmark Jury Trial
As Predicted, Mayer Beats Mayer for ATP Hamburg Title
Roger Federer: I Need To Win Matches, I Need To Build My Confidence (Does He Have A New Racquet?)
Kohlschreiber Bikes Way to ATP Kitzbuhel Crown
Basilashvili Wins ATP Hamburg

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get the FREE TX daily newsletter

268 Comments for Nadal Captures First Hamburg Crown; Halts Federer German Dominance

zero Says:

I’m very happy for Rafa. He plays so well today. He is the king of clay.

tennisballpenetrator Says:

Nice quick post Sean, already had it written and was waiting for the last point.
Go Nadal, but I would’ve preferred if he’d won one of the three break points he had when Federer was serving at 5-5, 0-40 in the second set. It would’ve been a 7-5, 7-5 repeat of the Monte-Carlo final.

Dr. Death Says:

Has anyone taken a look at the price of tickets for The French Open through the brokers? It may be worth the money for the Q finals on.

Blowing a 5-1 lead is not something one expects of Federer even if he is up against Nadal. This season will be talked about for a long time.

Thanks for the post Sean.

FloridaMan Says:

Rafa will win the French Open for 4 years in a row. There’s really no doubt about it. Even if players are up 2 breaks in a set against him, he’ll come back to win it.

maya Says:

Thanks for the concise, well-written, unbiased report, laced with some wit. (Love the cliff dive analogy.)

Von Says:

Sean Randall:

Two great articles hot off the press two days running — good job, Sean.

Rafa pulled off a Guillermo Coria stunt in the first set, rallying from 5-1 down to win the set.

jane Says:

Yep Sean’s a hot-off-the-match kind of writer.

Topsy-turvy is a good call. But Rafa is the comeback man – he did it against Tsonga at IW, against Fed at MC second set, against Djoko (not as big a lead but still) in yesterday’s first set, and against Fed, in both the first & second, today.

I’ve said it before – someone should contact the lexicographers to add Rafa’s name in at the definition of “tenacious” – He’s “tenacious R” for sure.

Sean Randall Says:

I actually had not even finished the post when minutes after I first saved it to the server the site (or something) crashed for a good 3 hours or so (I had after errands both today and yesterday, hence the need to post quick!). I see it’s now back up, so to finally add on the match…

I think the win only adds to Rafa’s clay aura. As if he wasn’t good enough already on clay, now he’s shown that he can comeback from just about every imaginable position. Overcoming a 5-1 deficit against Fed? Wow. So if you are playing Rafa at the French and can actually build a 5-1 lead I’m sure the thought that even Federer was unable to close out Rafa from such an advantage will come into to play. Really amazing that no lead is safe.

If you are looking for a silver lining, you could to the fact that Rafa’s been a bit of a slow starter, going down early to Federer (twice), Djokovic, I think Ferrer had him down and a few others I believe. So he’s somewhat playing with fire, but fortunately the best-of-five format will give him that much more time to get his game on.

zola Says:

great articles yesterday and today and very timely. I have to say your speed is just amazing.

Great match yesterday. Great fight from RAfa and Djoko and today as well. Fed coming back in the second set, …Rafa’s fight…a great week of tennis.

I think if Rafa can stay healthy, he has a good chance in RG and goes there with good confidence. He won No 15, no 12, no 3 and no 1 in Hamburg, worst conditions for him. So it can just add to his confidence.

But then again, after BArcelona, I was so hopeful that he would sweep Rome, but it did not happen. So I don’t want to speculate much. Hopefully one week of rest and the GS format ( one day rest in between) should be good for RAfa.

thanks for the congatulations yesterday from everyone.

fed is afraid Says:

federer choked, it’s that simple. he has no mental toughness against nadal. he isn’t even in the conversation for greatest of all time. no way.

zola Says:

Fed is afraid,
federer is not in the conversation for the Greatest of all times, maybe because he might be just that! the Greatest of all times and we are so very lucky to be able to watch him and Rafa, maybe the greatest clay court player ever.

graham Says:

Federer didnt choke he just isnt good enough to beat Nadal. Nadal just puts Federer in different positions on court which against other players he never experiences. He has to reach so high on his backhand and a lot of the time it breaks down. Every time Fed gets a forehand its high up out of his natural hitting zone. Nadal makes so many amazing retrieval shots that Federer has to go that little bit closer to the line and eventually misses. In a nutshell Nadal on clay is simply Federer’s worst nightmare. Its like Nadal was built as a player to nullify everything Federer has.

We often see Federer dominate for spells against Nadal but it requires such physical effort, footwork and concentration that he can never keep it up. And once Nadal derails the Federer train the doubts creep into Feds mind and we see the errors start to flow from his racket. Its like he starts the matches with Nadal with a clear head but after an hour or so he is absolutely befuddled and confused.

The only way he could possibly beat him at the French is to come out and play flawless Tennis for 3 sets and just blow Nadal away. The chance of that is virtually nil but its his only chance. Once he lets Nadal into his head and he starts missing theres only one winner.

Dr. Death Says:

Winning is a learned process. Fed HAD it. Something has shaken his ability to absolutely know he would win no matter what. (Rafa certainly has this belief in himself.) Mono, fat cows in the barnyard, the good life, one too many Rolexes – something has affected him.

This is the stuff legends are made of. Let us play out the rest of the year which ought to be fantastic, and I am already looking forward to ’09.

Shital Green Says:

Though a bit late, congratulations to Nadal for becoming the 3rd player to achieve this feat since 1990, winner of the three different ATP Masters Series titles on clay. My humble bow to the champion for an extraordinary play despite some “pain in the leg” and tiredness from the other day!

It must have been a big blow to Fed, who had not lost in German soil in any tournament since 2002 (?).
Despite it was a great match to watch, it must have been a sad experience for his fans to see how Fed could not close out at 5-1 and 5-2 in those 1st two sets (Rafa almost won the 2nd set). Why cannot Fed fans are saying the same thing about Fed today that they did against Djoko for not being able to convert those opportunities in the 1st set? According to Rafa, he was a bit weaker today than yesterday, both physically and mentally. That should have been easier for Fed, but unfortunately he committed more unforced errors than winners. Although you can spin this thing as much as you want to defend your hero, he remains without a Master Series title this year. He lost even on the court he had remained unchallenged until this morning. I cannot say for sure when he will win a Master Series or Slam next time, but I will have to admit he did play a lot better today than any of the tournament since Aussie Open. If he wants to remain relevant, he will have to able to give continuity to or improve on today’s performance.

Sean Randall Says:

“Choke” or “gag” is fair in my books in describing what Fed did in the first set. That said, I will add that clearly Fed’s got an issue with closing out Rafa in his head, between the ears.

Rafa’s got a mental stranglehold in Fed.

fed is afraid Says:

fat cows in the barnyard-is that a reference to mirka? lol

Dr. Death Says:

Fed is Afraid – I WOULD NEVER SAY THAT. Now that YOU mention it, I have noticed that I have never seen a fully body shot of her. Requires some research before offering an opinion.

He does own at least one large cow given to him by someone or another in Switzerland.

Dr. Death Says:


zola Says:

Dr. Death,
here you go:

and she is beautiful.She is one of the reasons I have respect for Fed.

jane Says:

“He does own at least one large cow given to him by someone or another in Switzerland.”

Dr. D, you’re too funny. It’s true, though, but I’d forgotten about the cow.

Fed can’t seem to figure out the Rafa puzzle; it’s great to watch these two play nevertheless.

Shital – “Why…are Fed fans [not] saying the same thing about Fed today that they did against Djoko for not being able to convert those opportunities in the 1st set?”

A lot of people do not like Djoko – haven’t ya noticed? ;-) Seriously, though, there is a similarity. And it happened in MC between Rafa and Fed too. It’s NEVER easy to convert against Rafa; he’s one of the BEST at staving off break points (check stats at ATP; I know he’s been at the top before). So it’s not only Djoko and Fed who are not able to convert; it’s Rafa’s tenacity too.

Dr. Death Says:

He has poor taste in meat, Zola, in my opinion. I prefer French veal if one has to eat any meat at all.

zola Says:

I think RAfa starts off a bit nervous , especially against Fed and Djoko( as Sean said) and then gets into the match. He also has the ability to asses the situation and find a solution. ( what he did against Blake and Tsonga in IW).

Tennis Fan Says:

…”Mission Impossible” … the pressure is off Federer now to win the French Open … it is an Impossible task … which is precisely why it is time … Federer will win the French … to everyones surprise … then you can spend the next month discussing how/why it happened.

jane Says:

Since we’re digressing onto looks, I was re-watching /Taxi Driver/ last night because I am teaching it this summer, and I was struck by how much the young De Niro looks like Djoko. Or maybe it’s just because I watched one and then the other, but what’d’ya’ll think?

De Niro:


zola Says:

I think you are very kind to Djoko. DeNiro has a rounder face and a smaller nose ( at that time!). There might be a hint of resemblence between them, but hey do not look alike to me.

zola Says:

wasn’t DeNiro in Djoko’s box in US Open?

Spirit Says:

Very strange match, I’m really disappointed :(. Fed may have psychological problem with Rafa on clay, but there is more to it. Rafa has a game, endurance, and stamina perfectly suited to clay. I agree with most commentators – NO PLAYER can beat him on clay. Period. Ferrero (wounded foot), Fed last year in Hamburg (extreme tiredness) are exceptions that only confirm this rule. I think the other guys will begin beating him on clay only if/when his own game drops in quality, if he is injured or something… Fed played brilliantly today, won a huge number of rallies, big points, break points, even a tie break… BUT… Nadal just doesn’t make mistakes, especially in a row… He keeps his level of play throughout the match, each and every point, game, set… You can put him down on his knees, but he will play each remaining point as it is the most important point in his life…
The major problem on clay is that you can’t break one’s serve once or twice in a set, and then keep your own and cruise till the end. No way… Nadal will just concentrate a bit more, go one level up and never make a signle more mistake until he wraps up the set…

simba Says:

As it now stands, Djokovic stands a better chance to beat Nadal than Federer. Federer’s proverbial window to win FO is closing fast. Roger Fed should pray to the tennis god to place Djokovic on Nadal’s half and he pulled off an amazing 5-set upset of Nadal. Hopefully, he can beat a drained Djokovic in the Final. If Djokovic is on Roger’s half, Roger may be stopped at SF, let alone dreaming of beat Nadal on a Sunday.

jane Says:


“wasn’t DeNiro in Djoko’s box in US Open?”

Yes, I think it was narcissism; De Niro sees himself in Djoko! Even the acting. LOL. I don’t know, maybe that wasn’t the best photo of Djoko, but in some they do look very much alike.

Or maybe I’m insane? “You talking to me?”

jane Says:

It occured to me that it was Rafa who actually had a bunch of break points he didn’t convert on today (or I am mistaken?); Federer was able to rely on his serve to get him out of some tight spots – unlike Djoko, whose serve was not at its best yesterday.

I wonder if Fed’s serve will be better or not on the faster surface of RG?

You know Tennis Fan might also have a point – given the year it’s been and how we’re all saying no one can beat Rafa etc, does that mean this is the year someone, maybe Fed, does? As someone said earlier (Sean?), Rafa has been coming from behind in a lot of these matches.

jane Says:

That said, I want Rafa to get his 4th RG title, so I’ll be rooting for a Djoko Rafa final unless they meet in the semis again.

craig Says:

Yes, DeNiro is a admirer of Djok.

craig Says:

Shital – “Why…are Fed fans [not] saying the same thing about Fed today that they did against Djoko for not being able to convert those opportunities in the 1st set?”

Jane: A lot of people do not like Djoko – haven’t ya noticed?
I think the main reason is they are afraid. With Fed and Rafa at 1-2 positions it gets comfortable. For years, Roger always wins hardcourt and grass and Rafa always wins clay. Now there might be a third person to disrupt the calm waters. The Fed fans are really panicked since they want him to beat the Sampras record NOW. Despite cries of arrogance by Novak and other complaints, that is just a cover for their fear. You have to forgive the Fed fans. ;-)

zola Says:

there is certainly resemblance . You are not wrong. Just that to me DeNiro is better looking! ( maybe I am biased!).

about break points. Yes Rafa converted 5/19! 19 break points. but Fed aced a few of them.

andrea Says:

gag! what the hell was that?

roger…ai yi yi. you have to get to a clay shrink.

you were up in both sets in monte carlo, both sets here.


i never saw the first set. was roger’s first serve working in that set? in the last two it was horrible.

good for nadal. that guy is unreal.

Tennis Fan Says:

Whats to like about Djokovic? … he’s a very good player … but arrogant and insulting to other players on the tour. He’s like the evil emperor (in Star Wars fame) … rafa and federer are on the side of good … and the only ones who can make the Universe a place anyone else wants to live in. I guess have Djok on the tour is great for ratings … but actually I would enjoy three great players who all had a sense of respect for the game .. instead we have to put up with one ignorant ###! I actually liked Djok on the tour until his true personality surfaced (along with his munster family :) … I acknowledge that there a few people out there that always root for the bad guy … I just don’t have to share their empathy for a creep.

mjölk Says:

Mr Tennis Fan

Could you give me one example where Djokovic (note: NOT his parents) has said anything degrading or insulted or arrogant to another player.

Thought Not.

You have not been following tennis too much have you?

Statman Says:

There is really no need for all this Fed-beating. The facts are plain – he is the second best player on clay and has been the best player on hard courts and grass for the past 4 years. Assuming that this is the beginning of a slow decline, even if he limps along and collects 2 more non-RG Slams over the rest of his career, he will end up with a better Slam resume’ than Sampras, or anyone else from the post-70s era. (Sampras has just one semis in the French and a bunch of bad losses.)

Nadal will need great luck to win a hard-court major, there are so many players who can beat him up on their day (think Tsonga, Youzhny, Berdych not to mention Fed, Djoker, Davydenko). But I think he has a good shot at winning Wimbledon – which has begun playing like a fast clay court (a la Rome) – someday.

jane Says:

Ah well craig – not everyone has to root for the “bad guy,” like us, but I am happy we have him to shake up the calm waters. I forgive anyone who doesn’t like him. I do. He’s great fun, and good for the sport imho. If all the players were alike, it’d be a little boring. Nice to have a mix: some more outspoken and some more demure; some more artful and some more willful; some stubborn champs and some wandering souls. It’s better this way.

And this season, so far, has been a treat.

Daniel Says:


The answer is no. It’s quit a while since Fed’s serve is not on as in previous days. There was only one game in the second set when he was facing a break poit, hit a good first serve and then two aces. But he was having trouble in the advantage side, a lot!

I find amuzing that no one mentioned that strange time out. Nadal break to go 2-5 and we all spected him to keep playing, but then he had a time out and put some thoughts into Fed’s head who thougth Nadal was about to retire anytime soon, as I was. But, he start playing perfectly and I think this enter into the equation. It was really strange for Fed to drop his leval of play that way, and the commentors in the MS TV mention it too, that was a tension in the air. It was almost as if Rafa was embarassed of wining after that time out, he wasn’t even celebrating with the vamos or the biceps thing into the air. I think Roger was a litle upset with that and it affect his game, he start making mistakes in firs, second balls. But, only the players know what happened in court!

jane Says:

Tennis fan – “come over to the dark side”. LOL

Daniel Says:

Sorry for the “spected”, typing fast…

jane Says:

Hmmm Daniel – you’re saying it was gamesmanship or no? I think, given that Nadal has had knee issues for a while now, and given that he played a match nearly three times as long as Fed’s in the semis, we can assume Rafa’s timeout was legit.

I thought Fed’s serve saved him more than those two aces in the 2nd set; maybe I missed something, but didn’t it work pretty well in the 3rd set as well. Roger’s first serve % was high when I checked it online during the match and he had way more aces than Rafa (or Djoko who had none y’day).

B.T.W I was mistaken – Rafa’s break point saved record is not so high this year after all; it’s his 1st serve % of which he takes very good care.

Voicemale1 Says:

When you start looking at HOW Nadal got back into this match, you can really only reached one conclusion: Federer choked. There’s just no other way to say it.

Federer had Set Point at 5-1 before Nadal called the trainer. How he lost his serve in that game is mystifying. He hit a swinging forehand volley wide on that Set Point to go deuce; then hit a backhand wide into the alley for ad out; then dumped a forehand volley into the net to get broken. Three straight unforced errors, or as you accurately call them, “head-slapping misses”. That’s why I dont’ agree with Bryan that Nadal’s time out was any gamesmanship because Federer had the set on his racquet. He was too far ahead in the set for the time-out to matter. All he had to do was hold his nerve..oops, sorry, SERVE, and the set was his. After those three muffs Federer should have been delighted with the time out Nadal took so he could steady himself. Federer even had a Set Point on Nadal’s serve at 5-2, but Nadal hit a second shot winner off the return, then held. Serving for the set a second time at 5-3, Federer then hit a crucial forehand wide at 30-all to go down Break Point, and Nadal hit an easy winner for the break. It got worse for Federer in the 5-5 game, when at 30-all he hit two straight unforced errors, a backhand wide then a forehand wide, to get broken again. Nadal’s resurgence in the first set was almost exclusively due to Federer errors, not any type of outstanding play by Nadal. In fact, Nadal was able to hit the winners he did for one simple reason: Federer’s shots were getting shorter and shorter in the court with each passing point, and all Nadal had to do was just basically stand on the baseline. He didn’t have to move all that much but for one or two steps in either direction for most of the first set. THAT was puzzling – the lack of depth on Federer’s shots. Federer then barely escaped in the 2nd Set, surrendering a 5-2 lead to squeak out a Tiebreak, and that it got that far was again due to the most baffling errors at the utterly wrong moments.

When Federer faces Nadal on clay, he chokes. I’ve read the rather high profile proponents of this theory and they make compelling arguments. One of them is Miguel Seabra who runs the Estoril tournament; and the most famous one is Mats Wilander, who basically accused Federer of “sh**ting his pants” against Nadal in the 2006 French Final. Both of them build the same case for their theory, basically saying that Federer NEVER makes those kinds of errors in as big a quantity against any other player on any other surface – only against Nadal on clay. And judging by the review of his errors today I recounted, plus his Monte Carlo 2nd Set debacle last month, and it’s tough to discount their theory. If they’re right, this might have been the most massive choke of Federer’s career.

Only two other explanations could possibly explain it, but both are unlikely:

*IF Federer truly thought Nadal was injured after his long match yesterday, he might have wanted to stay out there as long as possible, so as to aggravate it and hamper Nadal’s chances at The French next week. My only problem with believing this one wholeheartedly is that if Nadal wanted out of the match, he could have out-shanked Federer and been done with it in under an hour. Or…

*Federer gave a gift to Nadal of the Hamburg Trophy for winning yesterday and therefore eliminating any chance of their possibly meeting in the French Semi Final (OK – this one’s stretch :lol: ).

Whatever it was I know that their facial expressions during the ceremony were totally bass-ackwards. Federer was all smiles and cordial, and Nadal looked like he was on his way to a funeral. Something was going on for sure, and I think we’ll only discover what it really was at some point down the road.

zola Says:

I don’t thik of Djoko as the “bad guy”. He is just a 20-year old talent. He is a bit short on the PR side, but I think he is trying very hard to improve and I eally appreciate that. The fact that he declined to do imitations in Rome and his parets were not there and in HAmbug, says a lot. He has also toned down a lot regarding his ambitions. Personally as long as he does not state negative opinion on other players, I see nothing wrong with him talking about his ambitions. I see that as a way to motivate himself.

Rafa is getting much better on the hard courts. He has reached semis or better in the majors this year. Tsonga and Blake were beaten in IW and Miami. So, I think that chapter is over for RAfa.

simba Says:

This year is hardly a slow decline. It is an abrupt one. Two GS and five Master played, zero titles. Yes, he is not going to win RG unless Rafa got blisters.

Agassifan Says:

I am a BIG fed fan. I think he is already the GOAT.

However, he choked against Nadal. Again. It really bothers me. Its not how often he has lost to nadal on clay, its the last few times that he has choked so badly. That just isn’t what the GOAT should do.

He needs to see a shrink. A hypnotist. Something. This is entirely a mental block.

What a shame.

zola Says:


***Federer had Set Point at 5-1 before Nadal called the trainer. ***

Rafa called the trainer AFTER he broke Federer at 5-2.

Eurosport has a match call:

Frances Tomascp Says:

Nadal is a real inpiration to everyone with his fortitude and courage. I love to watch him play.

Fran Tomasco

simba Says:

Most of fed fans are sore losers. They blamed the loss on Nadal’s injury timeout. It is so ridiculous.

Frances Tomasco Says:

When is this final going to be shown on the Tennis
Channel or elsewhere?

Fran Tomasco

Henry Says:

I usually enjoy reading the articles on this site and also most comments (except those that clearly are meant to either provoke or hurt other people’s feelings), but seldomly join the discussions unless some things surface that, I feel, need to be seen from another angle also.

That’s why, e.g. I joined in 3 months ago after a barely 18 year old Kei Nishikori won his first ATP tournament and some people made very direspectful comments about this hard working young man’s results in Delray Beach.

This time it’s because I have been noticing a very unfair and Federer bashing in a number of articles and comments. Bashing not at all based on unbiased fact finding. Because of the media here, that only concentrate on those players that have broken through and never pay attention to emerging young players, nobody in the US had even heard of Nadal when he stormed into the top 50, arrived at Key Biscayne and almost beat Federer in the 2005 finals. I am and have been a huge Nadal fan since he won Europe’s most prestigeous European under 14’s junior tournament, ‘Les Petits As’, and turned pro at barely 15. I, like many of you, hope he wins RG and gets that Wimbledon crown which he really should have won last year.

However, as Rafa says himself, Federer has been and still very much is the World’s No. 1 and I have a hard time reading the disrespectful comments about his abilities or personality. Fed does appear to have a (mental) problem with Rafa. He has an incredible respect for the young Spaniard’s achievements. Both Fed and all the players find Rafa’s results unique, especially at this young age and, therefore, all the players have great respect for Rafa. Rafa’s respect for Federer has been obvious too. Despite his young age, he reacts much more maturely to the fact that this year, so far, has not been ‘business as usual’ for Roger. Some members of the press find it perfectly OK to childishly ask Fed, right after a loss: “is this the beginning of the end”. Nadal, with his only 21 years, as disgusted as this poster with questions like that, defends Federer at all times. He has on several occasions correctly brought forward that:
– all great champions lose matches
– it is impossible to keep on winning at every tournament
– everybody is so used to Fed winning all tournaments and think nothing of his appearing in both finals and semifinals this year
– it’s not unique that a world no. 1 goes a longer period of time without winning a tournament (Most World No 1’s have lost numerous matches and tournaments, many more than Federer has this year)
– that overall Fed’s result this year have not been bad at all as he’s mostly been up there in the final rounds
And that this is why Rafa thinks tennisfans and the media should be supporting him instead of bashing him.

Sorry for this longer than intended post, but really felt like sharing these thoughts with you. Roger Federer has brough so much to today’s tennis and he does not deserve the distorted picture some are trying to create about one of the true gentlemen in sports.

Tennis Fan Says:

On the contrary mjolk I’ve may have been watching Tennis for too long … in fact, long enough to remember Ilie Nastase’s antics and John McEnroe’s “fat lady” tirades. But at least in these instances, the players spent most of their time insulting the officials, and occasionally the viewing audience. When Djokovic gives the I’m no. #1 signal after taking one set off of Nadal … it is satisfying to see him get blown off the court in the third. In fact, it appeared to be a motivator for Nadal who become more emotionally charged after the gesture. Lets face it Djokovic is arrogant. Although you can’t fine him for ripping off his shirt to show off his hot bode :) … he should be penalized (by the ATP) for quitting matches (by reimbursing the paying fans). The obnoxious family is just the icing on the cake for me (although I noticed that today the camera men stayed far,far away).
… come to think of it … I actually found Nastase and McEnroe to be in that mix of wandering souls which created “great fun” … that was good for the sport … why is it that I can’t lighten up for a guy (and his family) that can’t help telling the world (and the players around him that he’s no.1) even before he is? And if he ever makes it … will anyone actually care to hear from him again?
… furthermore … I think Jane is secretly into “bad boys”! :)

y0s3v Says:

Hmmm… to beat Nadal, Fed must change coach, O he did it already! Now the only thing left is girlfriend! He needs to change girlfriend! He needs a new motivation!

Tennis Fan Says:

Oh … and the Djokovic pounding of the chest …”I have great heart” gesture that may have been started by Maria Sharapova, or some other unknown Eastern European player is getting a little old by now …

craig Says:

Although you can’t fine him for ripping off his shirt to show off his hot bode … he should be penalized (by the ATP) for quitting matches (by reimbursing the paying fans).
Ripping off shirts? Well, Tsonga, Haas, and others have done it, why not mention them? Wanna see some photos?

Funny you don’t mention reimbursements for fans when Davydenko handed Fed the trophy on a silver platter at Estoril.How about Soderling retiring in Miami against Fed while trailing. How about Haas retiring against Fed due to sinus trouble at IW. Or wait! How about Almagro or Stepenak quitting in the middle of their losing matches against Djok? Should they be penalized? Hmmm? Only Novak?

I smell a Novak hater in TennisFan. But Jane and I are filled with forgiveness for you, dear.

Tennis Fan Says:

Craig, … I am not a Novak hater … I am a Novak disliker. I dislike his arrogant style … the ripping off of the shirt thing is just part of his style. Yes, others have done it … just not with the same frequency. Other players have quit matches in the past too … just not with the same frequency (to the point where people wonder if there is an alterior motive). The #1 signage … the chest pounding … others have done those too… the obnoxious family in tow (I won’t saying anything more hear that will get me into trouble) … but the whole package just doesn’t add up for me as to how a great player of the sport should act. OK .. maybe I should lighten up … maybe the sport just needs a bad dude … I think you found him. Please don’t forgive me … I think Djok is a very talented player … he’s just not my style!

andrea Says:

did anyone catch that truly painful wilson ad with djokovic during the final? maybe it only played on TSN. it was so corny as to be laughable. oooo…. the stare.

tennis fan, i’m not a novak fan either for many reasons (many which you have extoled) and the fact of the matter is, it’s all personal. i never dug sampras. ever. and he was like federer for 10 years. player bashing isn’t right but forums like this are ok to vent….i think…but just a little…as long as we’re still respectful. let’s face it, we’re all a bunch of tennis nerds.

grendel Says:

Federer’s post match interview makes disturbing reading for Fed fans. e.g.”I could have maybe served a little bit better. When I served
for the set, the second time where he broke me at 5:1, but I thought,
all in all it was allright. It wasn’t my best performance, if you get
broken so many times there is always something you are a little bit
unhappy about. But I think I am finding the right type of play from
the baseline. It’s up to me to serve maybe a bit better at important
stages. And attack maybe a bit more solidly. But it was a fun match
playing.” And so on and so forth.

Talk about denial. Federer has amply demonstrated this season that he can play tennis with Nadal on a claycourt. Those people who claim that Federer simply can’t cope with Nadal’s claycourt game exaggerate. Usually, they are the gloaters, of course, but there are well meaning Fed fans who fall into the same error, and proffer all sorts of friendly advice as to how Fed might improve his claycourt game. All quite irrelevant – although pretty funny, if you think about it. The problem is mental. I second Voicemale1 and Agassifan on this one.

When Federer is relaxed, he plays Nadal better than anyone. But the moment the scoreline starts to look healthy, he suddenly seems to remember where he is, who he is playing against, and so on. He tenses up, retreats into a shell, starts playing pit-a-pat, and just misses stuff. His great natural gifts, honed by discipline, count for nothing as he exerts a baffled will.

Nothing is simple. After his lamentable collapse in the first set, Federer displayed considerable grit, refusing to just go away. Nevertheless, he nearly capitulated again, but somehow dug himself out of his own little trench. Must have cost, because he relaxed in the wrong way, and just gave the initative to Nadal at the beginning of the third. A little bit of bad luck – and his head hung. A poorly timed volley, and he hits the net not exactly in anger, that would have been healthy, but a sort of bemusement. What sort of a world is this?

But Federer doesn’t admit any of this. He pays proper tribute to Nadal’s skills – the greatest defensive player in history, as Djokovic said – and talks about how he is making progress in the The Great Project. All coherent stuff – and somehow, utterly beside the point.

Is it stubborness? Pride? Delusion? I don’t say this lightly, it is not possible for us to understand the kind of pressures he is under. Of course, the pressures are to a degree self-imposed, he doesn’t have to go for all these records, and in a sense who cares anyway, but that’s not the point. Whether or not Federer is, at the end of the day, the author of his own ills, it is of legitimate interest to his fans, and even to disinterested tennis lovers, as to why he is prone to these, what can we say, mental aberrations.

You can’t force belief. Federer does not, in his heart, believe he can beat Nadal on clay (he quickly conceded last year at Hamburg that Nadal may have been tired – yes, he was inconsistently buoyed up too; you, of course, dear blogger, are the very model of consistency). He can say what he wants; his actions and body language on court tell the real story.

Would coming to terms with the truth about his mental disposition do any good? Well, truth is double edged, isn’t it, so there is no guaranty. But it might clear the air a bit. Hard to be loose in all that atmosphere.

Meanwhile, if it is to be a Fed/Nadal final at RG, I really don’t want to watch that one. I love Hamlet – but not on the tennis court, please. All that frustrated anguish, it can get kind of tiresome. You want to say: for Christ’s sake, give it a decent whack, and if it doesn’t work out, fine. To capitulate when you’re getting thrashed seems to me completely normal. But to haul up the white flag when you’re winning is, to say the least, eccentric.

Personally, I look forward to a Nadal/Djokovic final. I disagree with the condescending comments of not a few with regard to Djoko, and whilst I can’t see him beating Nadal this year, he’ll give it an honest crack, and next year, who knows.

Of course, we can still hope for miracles….

Agassifan Says:


Read my post above, I am not blaming nadal for Fed’s loss, and I am a big fed fan. Fed checked. Again. That’s it. ITs a shame.

Fed has lost some of his confidence in the last one year. Especially this year. 2006 was his peak.

Now he is playing like Sampras used to play in his best years. So I’ll take that.

jane Says:

Tennis fan, you’ve discovered my achilles heel – bad boys! LOL. :-) Thanks for supplying more good fun.

jane Says:

andrea – FYI – there’s an equally “painful” one of Fed.

andrea Says:

all tennis ads are painful. even the gillette ones.

Giner Says:

“Credit to Rafa, though, had he retired I think few would have blamed him with what’s at stake on the horizon, but he didn’t and look how nicely it paid off. That’s why the guy is the best fighter on the tour.”

Wait… so it’s ‘understandable’ if Rafa quits in a final, but if Justine Henin does it, it’s criminal? What’s with the double standards? Is it because Henin’s opponent was a known choker and therefore deserves special treatment, while Federer is not?

Ryan Says:

I believe that everyone is against djokovic…….even i was when he beat fed in australia and backed out of that monte carlo semi final.But he is a confident guy in fact too confident that people call him arrogant but its mainly because of all the boost that he gets from his family.They believe that he is the best and expect him to be just that.He refuses to accept that fed is better than him.Is that arrogance considering that you really want to be number 1?
Say whateva you want but he really troubled nadal in that semi final.He believes he can take down anyone anywhere.He is just like Serbs in general, a fighter.Look at all the serbian tennis players.They are on top because they are fighters.He is not arrogant.He just does not keep praising federer like the other guys on tour.Unless you believe that you’re better than fed how r u going to be number 1?Nadal admits federer is the best ever and that is why he is always number 2.This could be because when you’re praising fed then subconsciously you’re admiting that you’re smaller than him and this will hamper your chances to win matches against him.Look at james blake.Tipsarevic stretched fed to 5 sets whereas blake could not.blake obviously has more game than tipsarevic.When djok won against lleyton hewitt he said that he won the first set with luck.Why should he say that if he was arrogant.He acknowledges all the good shots of his opponents.Like mats wilander keeps saying that fed has no balls, i think that djokovic has 2 balls.The way he fought against a fresh nadal on clay and took that second set 6-2 you’ll have to say he is the one who is going to stop nadal sooner or later.He is THE MAN with real guts.He gives aces on second serves on break points like sampras and that also against fed in monte carlo.He backed out of monte carlo because he does not want to give federer a real victory.Besides its the first time he is retiring against fed so whats the problem.Nobody else has got what it takes to beat nadal on clay not even fed.Even fed was arrogant when he was young……he never gave full credit to safin for that epic 5 setter,he said that agassi needs to raise his game to beat him.He keeps talking about himself all the time how well he played and how great he is and blah blah.I’m a fan of fed’s game but some things need to be set straight.After a few years he toned it down and its just that he keeps it all inside and sometimes it comes out for example he said that the montreal loss to djokovic was insignificant,even after the US open he emphasized that he beat djokovic in straight sets and that it’ll be tough for djokovic to swallow, murray has not improved his game, he even told nadal is 1 dimensional.You need to be extremely confident to a point of arrogance if you are planning to be number 1.Look at lleyton hewitt.With that straight forward and simple game (which most players have today)he won 2 slams and 75 weeks as number 1.
So djokovic is THE MAN and i feel that people are just hating on him for the wrong reasons.He is tough like Niko Bellic of GTA 4.

Voicemale1 Says:


Read my sentence again. That’s exactly what I said. Nadal called for the trainer at 30-all 5-1 so he’d be there by the changeover. It was during that 5-1 game that Federer had his set point. I have no idea what you’re saying to me.

andrea Says:

and i agree that fed’s summary of the match is strangely positive. after monte carlo he said similar things – he now felt he had better forml; had better perspective blah blah. and now, here he’s saying he thought he hung in better at the baseline.

i guess when you lose so often to one player on one surface you have to find the positives in every match.

i do find it interesting that nadal often has slow starts to matches but always makes it up on the back end. but it has to be pretty disheartening (as an opponent) to believe you have the set sewn up with two breaks and you still lose it. (ferrer and federer). yikes.

JCF Says:

“Rafa will win the French Open for 4 years in a row. There’s really no doubt about it. Even if players are up 2 breaks in a set against him, he’ll come back to win it.”

He lost in rome unexpectedly, so anything can happen, even if he’s the clear favorite on paper. He could get tired, or injured. No rational person would have saw the loss to Ferrero coming. The same can still happen in RG.

But if matches were played on paper, Rafa will win. Wimbledon will be interesting though… Federer has only won one title this season, so he’s clearly off. He only played Estoril to get the monkey off his back. It’s a small insignificant tournament, and Fed normally doesn’t enter it, or tournaments like it. He needed to win a title, and he felt that was the only way he could guarantee one. Of the relevant tournaments, this year he hasn’t won any, so he’s not a shoe in for Wimbledon either. I wouldn’t be surprised if he lost. It will be very interesting to see what Djokovic does at Wimbledon. All eyes will be on him.

JCF Says:

By the way, Good for Rafa. I think it was fitting that he won Hamburg before it lost its status as an AMS tournament. Now if Rafa should in future not play all 3, and skip Hamburg if he wins the first two, he’ll reduce the risk of exhaustion or injury.

Ryan Says:

P.S………Many people in this forum has double standards……as i mentioned earlier when fed emphasises that he beat djokovic in straight sets and that it’ll be tough to swallow for djok in the us open then nobody has a problem with that.When djokovic emphasises that he beat fed in straight sets in australia then everyone is saying that djokovic is arrogant.It doesnt make any sense.The difference is that fed has won a lot of sportsmanship awards so many things he says will be swept under the carpet and djokovic will always be put under the microscope for whatever he says.
Another example is berdych…..he has great admiration and respect for federer and because of that he lost set points against fed in australia and even in the davis cup.So if you want to beat federer on his surface(hard court and grass)then dont respect him……..and challenge him so that you can get pumped up…..thats the trick.

jane Says:

OMG since we were on the photo trend earlier, check out this photo of Davydenko fishing; he looks about 90!

I don’t know where to find the stats on the match, but I thought Fed served pretty good today (maybe i checked stats during one of his runs in the 1st or 2nd?); obviously he thinks that’s one of the things lacking in his match today.

Fed’s presser wasn’t all bad; he’s given some very good analysis of both the match itself and on playing Nadal in particular. I found it interesting. He does seem rather light-hearted, not as perturbed as he is after some losses, but maybe that’s because he played a darn good match, even if he did lose those leads.

Maybe it’s good that he’s staying light? Maybe it’ll bode well.

jane Says:

Ryan – Fed’s spent a number of years earning his reputation as a “classy” guy. Djoko has come along and challenged his reign, talking the talk and then, eventually, beginning to walk the walk – in increments. He’s a completely different personality than Rafa, which is good. But others want him to be professional and respectful. He is professional, I’d argue, but he doesn’t kowtow.
I like both Rafa and Djoko, but to me Djoko was like a breath of fresh air in 2007. He really made his mark and is continuing to make it. He’s a warm, funny guy who’s extremely ambitious and not afraid to say it. I don’t get why so many people dislike him, frankly. He’s a pleasure to watch. He’s got a great all-round game and fights hard. So what if he’s retired 5 times in the last 2 years. He’s a fantastic boon to this game.

But andrea’s right that a lot of it is subjective; Fed’s never been a favorite of mine, though I’ve come to appreciate him more. So maybe some of Djoko’s dislikers will come to appreciate him too. I ain’t holdin my breath though.

Shital Green Says:

Here are some of the phrases the good guy uses to describe Djokovic, a player that has shaken his good guy hero’s dominance on the court: “The obnoxious family,” “one ignorant ###!” “his munster family,” “a creep,” “evil emperor.” Late Falwell too called Civil Rights Movement a “Civil Wrongs Movement” because he “disliked” it, though did not “hate” it. Following Falwell or David Duke, whoever does not agree with this good guy’s description of Djoko in those terms are bad guys.

Has Djoko ever fallen so low (or, risen so high) to describe anybody, player or otherwise, in those good guy’s terms? Should one just misread a gesture to satiate one’s hateul heart? The good guy’s question (“Whats to like about Djokovic?”) could be posed to himself: What is it to like about you and your hate mongering? Or, is it just a frustration with life in general? I am not sure this is the right place to vent out anger or frustration of life on a player.

Ryan Says:

As for federer i’d say that on clay you need a certain consistent level of play.Fed can raise his game to dizzying heights but then when he wont be able to keep it up.Its the same story in french open 2006 he won his first set 6-1 and eventually lost the match.Monte carlo he lost both the leads ,couldnt convert 16 break point chances in last year’s RG.Even in rome he lost a 5-2 lead in the 5th set.His game does not suit well to rafa’s.It’s plain and simple.All rafa has to do especially during crunch time is get the high bouncing balls to fed’s backhand.Thats it.But even otherwise fed does not have the courage to close out the set or the match against nadal.He is basically beating himself.It’s something like roddick vs federer.Roddick had 2 match points in shanghai 2006 and still fed won the match.You need courage.This is where fed falls short and he will fall short even in the french open if he faces nadal.The lack of courage is something that is born out of a string of losses to 1 player.Check out davydenko.He had a set point against fed in us open 2007 but couldnt convert because he has lost to federer all 10 times they have played.

Ryan Says:

To jane: That davydenko pic is hilarious…….he does look 90 even 95 perhaps…thats what baldness does to a young man……..

NK Says:

I will go out on a limb and say that should Federer and Nadal play for the FO title, and should federer open up 5-1 and 5-2 leads in the first 2 sets, he will NOT lose either set.

I could be wrong, but I would like to believe that Federer is waiting to take Nadal out not at the Master’s Series tournaments, but on the biggest stage of all, the French Open.

I expect the hunger and intensity that have been missing from Federer’s game especially at crucial moments at Hamburg and MC will very much be on display at the FO. At both Hamburg and MO, I thought Federer was the better player, with much more technical skill and virtuoso shot-making finesse on clay than Nadal, and I think he will not relinquish a lead at the FO.

Nadal has the edge overall, no doubt, but I have a hunch Federer will not allow him to come from behind and win. Not at the FO.

Ryan Says:

I think nadal is very underappreciated. It’s almost like he never gets any crowd support whereever he goes except maybe in spain or argentina.He has incredible sportsmanship and is a very nice and humble champion.That kinda makes me think that majority of people especially in europe are racists.The french crowd calls nadal the ogre like Shrek referring to the fact that he is ugly.Even in hamburg there were hardly a handful of people supporting nadal.The only place where the crowd does not support federer is in the US.Everywhere else people are supporting him.I guess looks are the most important thing in this world.

Glenn Says:

Tennis Fan,
I am in the same situation as you. When Djokovic first came into the spotlight, I thought he was great. But his haughty and arrogant behavior soon turned me off to being his fan.

Don’t try to restrict Djokovic’s arrogance to merely what he SAYS. His actions speak louder than words. Just TWO of MANY examples of Djokovic’s assinine behavior is 1) turning his back on Nadal when Nadal made a phenomenal lob winner instead of acknowledging it; 2) Making #1 gestures with his finger in the second set.

Who would NOT be happy that such a haughty character is not put in his place – and thankfully, he was.

Nadal was a winner over Djokovic in every way during their match.

Dian Says:

djokovic is arrogant, so is fed a bit
I’ll never forget French open QF between rafa and novak where he retired and in the press conference he said he was in control of the match

gaobest Says:

I certainly hope that Nadal wins the FO again because I love the idea that the FO remains elusive for Federer just as it did Sampras Becker et al, and just like Wimbledon kept Lendl Wilander Rosewall et al from completing the Grand Slam.

In the meantime Agassi is the last player to accomplish the Grand Slam (albeit not in a single calendar year) at the age of 29!

It would be a great tennis story if this is the year Federer finally wins the FO, beating Nadal or Djoko in the final.

Either way, once the FO ends, there will be a lot of fun discussion and speculation…


simba Says:

I can’t believe that as losses mounted, people are still spinning that all Fed needs is his belief. BS. “I am saying it is Fed’s game, stupid. Yes, he can play well in stretch. No, he cannot sustain that game for long. In all the matches, He cannot continue to play well when leading, trailing or tie. Is it still mental? The same bullsh***t has been proven out by Roddick’s futile effort against Fed. Sure, Rod’s serves can trouble Federer, but he will never serve 90% at 140mph throughout the match, anyway.

TD (Tam) Says:

Bravo bravo! That was a tremendous final between two great champions. Congratulations to Nadal for finally defeating Federer at his favoured Hamburg. He is now the proud and rightful owner of all major clay trophies. :D

Quote: “Most of fed fans are sore losers. They blamed the loss on Nadal’s injury timeout. It is so ridiculous.”

Are they really? That is a weak excuse. If someone as mentally tough as Federer allowed himself to lose the match with that one little distraction then he did not deserve to win. These things are part of the sport and he should have let it go as soon as it was done with. If he let it rattle him that is his own fault Nadal was not breaking any rules.

Agassifan Says:


I agree with you above, Fed just cannot mentally close out his matches against nadal.

I don’t know how many people in this forum have played any sport competitively – I have played competitive squash (and tennis, a little bit) for many many years. There were a couple of players I would always lose to even if I was 8-0 ahead (9 points game, old scoring style). And there were some players I would never lose to, even if I was 0-8 behind. At that point, its all mental. I observed my play and behavior repeatedly over the years, and the conclusion always was that I was playing differently in the two situations.

The encouraging thing is – one can get over it. I was able to do that against a player who was my nemesis for 3 years. But you first have to accept it. Fed still appears to be in denial.

Yes, all this from an objective Fed fan.

steve Says:

Djoke is the man. He’s got everything. He is an emerging force and a fresh breeze of the tennis future. He is closing on # 1 and 2. They are feeling the heat.

Tennisnakama Says:

I love Nadal but today I’m not proud of him. I saw the final twice today and am convinced that Nadal’s injury time-out was not fair. I paid an extra attention to his footwork before and after and draw the conclusion that his time-out was to affect Roger’s rhythm. Look ar Nadal. He knows. He looked not so happy in the ceremony. He looked guilty. Injury time-out rule should be reconsidered. Too many players abuse it!

zola Says:

Rafa played a grueling 3-hour match the day before, when Roger did not even face a single seeded player up to the final. A muscle tension was nothing strange. For Rafa it was inportant to know if aggrevation would hurt him. I saw him before the time out taking a pill and I was worried what was going on. The trainer said that he can’t tape the injury, but told Rafa it is OK for him to play. I think that put Rafa’s mind to ease and could concentrate on the game afterwards.

He took the injurt timeout”AFTER” he denied the setpoints to Federer, not before that. Where was Roger’s concentration at 5-1 when he got broken?

Also the match went on for 3 sets. Roger won the second set and could have won the third set too. There was no injurt time outs. what happened then?

I guess for some of you there is no way to accept Federer’s loss against a player. If Rafa retired, he would have been accused of chickenning out, but I think that would have pleased you.

I am glad he asked for the trainer and got the massage and anti-inflammatory and the OK to resume the play. It was a good match.

zola Says:


I thought you were saying that Rafa was treated at 5-1, when you were saying that he called for the trainer at 5-1 to be there after the game (at 5-2). so all is good.

mjölk Says:

What no. 1 gesture? Pointing his finger up in the air? It is just a celibration for winning an important point, saying; look at what I just did. The same goes for fist-pumps and other ways of celibrating points.

Nadal sometimes celibrates the opponents unforced error, what about that? Thats more of a celibration of him winning an important point, not the opponent losing it.

He laughs becouse he can’t believe how Nadal gets out of those impossible situations where the point already seems to be over. He also laughs at himself when he makes unforced errors when winners seem to be around the corner. Is that arrogant?

I am a big Nadal fan, but I believe that Novak is being unfairly treated here. Is he arrogant when he sais that he played his best clay-court match ever against Nadal, even though he lost it? Is it arrogant to applaud the opponents points? Is it arrogant to praise Fed as the best ever, and Nadal as the best defensive player ever?

The list goes on.

Tennisnakama Says:

Zola, You missed my point. I adore Nadal and have been his fan since he was 14, and I am not Federer’s fan. My view of injury time-out is not same as yours. These days I saw so many players abuse it. Consulting the trainer at the crucial moment (losing moment) is not the right case for injury time-out. Injury time-out should be for real injury NOT FOR PREVENTION OF INJURY. If you play tennis, you know pretty much about your body how far you can take. My point is nothing to do with Federer’s loss. I don’t care about it. I care about Nadal’s attitude. Because he did a few times in the past as well. I still think injury time-out rule should be changed.

Bojana Says:

Mjõlk wrote: “What no. 1 gesture? Pointing his finger up in the air? It is just a celibration for winning an important point, saying; look at what I just did.”
That’s exactly what it is! You can see a football player in a Serbian fifth-leage match pointing his finger up in the air after he scored. The meaning of gestures differs from one country to another and it can easily be misinterpreted :)

naresh Says:

i agree some people on this site are just trying to pick on Djoko, cause he’s an easy target. he might’ve been a little cocky last year, but he has matured a lot now.

we should be really thankful that a new star has come to challenge the world No. 1 & 2..and he is a serious threat. the level of tennis can only get better from now on. So people..stop being so clan’ish & fan’ish.

naresh Says:

i really do’nt think Federer has a chance to beat Rafa at the french this year..unless Rafa has to go thru 3 five set matches in a row and meets a fresh Fed in the final !

Even though this match showed Fed in better light than Djoko, it’s Djoko that really gave Rafa a tough time and made Rafa play some of his best tennis.

Fed made far too many errors in the match. Rafa did’nt even have to play his best tennis to win. If Fed had to face Rafa in the semi’s the score would be more like 7-5, 6-3 !

grendel Says:

Jane says:”He does seem rather light-hearted, not as perturbed as he is after some losses, but maybe that’s because he played a darn good match, even if he did lose those leads.”

He didn’t LOOK lighthearted though, did he? That, he couldn’t disguise. yes, he made some interesting points, but on the crucial issue, he was in complete denial. Of course he played some excellent tennis. Since he is in very good form, that goes without saying. But he failed badly at the important moments, which is why he did not play a good match. This is not to take credit away from Nadal. Even if Federer had kept his standard up, Nadal might have beaten him – he is that good, even when not quite at his best. But the point is, Federer didn’t – he tightened up and choked horrendously, twice, – just as he did at Monte Carlo.

Meanwhile, on this business of arrogance, I agree, I have always found the charge w.r.t. Djokovic mystifying. Of course, in a sense he is arrogant, but only in the way that all champions are. But -to Ryan: there is no shortage of people on this site willing to accuse Federer of arrogance, and much worse. There are individual double standards, no doubt – and who, by the way, has not been guilty of that from time to time, I certainly have – but overall, pretty much all views seem to get expressed. So much is in the eye of the beholder. You like someone, and you tend to focus on his agreeable traits. And there is a beguiling modesty in Federer in my eyes (where others will just see slyness) as well as conceit. And Federer is certainly not above playing mind games – eg the emphasis, done almost as an aside, on winning US Open in straight sets. Djokovic didn’t forget that one – good for him. And? And? And? Perhaps we should have a top ten in the morality stakes. Ugh!

Ryan Says:

To grendel

I love reading your posts coz you always give insightful reviews about matches.Anyway like you said we tend to always see the good things in people we like and the bad things in the people we hate.Thats true.I’m a big fed fan and I was in a way pissed off that djokovic came up and started talking big and now is walking big.But with all the anti djok comments around to which even I contributed, I thought maybe I should be more objective about this.You’re right federer is a gentleman but I think he was a little brash early during his career.But there is another reason why djok is behaving the way he is.Look at his family.They are very vocal about their son being the best ever and that the king is dead n blah blah… obviously their son would imitate their behaviour.It’s not a surprise.But he is learning and probably will tone it down a bit especially since he knows that his behaviour pisses the crowd off.

Stat_man Says:

Zola, returning to the issue of Nadal’s hard court performances: I agree that he is a very good hard court player but he will always be vulnerable on any but the slowest hard courts simply because of the way he plays. Look at the trouble he has with Blake – even though he has won the lst 2 outings – and compare that with (for instance) Federer’s routine straight setting of Blake on the latter’s favorite hard courts. Look at his recent loss to Davydenko – he was simply crushed, somthing that has never happened to the Fed for 4 years until Oz 08.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a Nadal bashed, the man is a genius as well as being the mentally toughest player since Becker. But his style of play imposes limitations on what he can do on a hard court, just as it lifts every limitation that normal humans have on a clay court.

Tote Tennis Pro Says:

As has been said, congratulations to Nadal for becoming the 3rd player to achieve this feat since 1990, winner of the three different ATP Masters Series titles on clay. An amazing feat.

This match went to show what i have suspected for the last year or two, namely that Rafa wants it more than Fed. Both players have a lot of fight and a big heart, but Nadals in incomparable in world sport today. And that is the marker of a true champion!

Well done.

grendel Says:

To Ryan: surely Djokovic is a complex mixture, like everyone. Sorry to be banal! but you just never know quite what people can mean by what they say, especially if you see only the cold print. For instance, I actually saw Fed being interviewed after his loss to Djokovic last Summer, and he used the word “insignificant” with a broad grin. Context counts – hugely. Then again, someone might appear to be remarkably unself-assuming – but actually, it’s a pose, a matter of calculated public relations. How would one know? The people who know the player will have a good idea. We don’t.

Again, how is someone who is quite exceptionally good at what he/she does – not just very good – supposed to talk about themselves in relation to their talent? About other players? It’s no simple matter. For instance, was Federer indulging in sour grapes after Murray beat him, or was it his honest opinion that Murray had not developed? My own view is that it was probably a little bit of both. That is, he genuinely believed Murray had not moved forward (and it’s beginning to look as if he was right), and that is very interesting, coming from such a knowledgeable source. On the other hand, he probably didn’t suffer too much in saying that – and probably wouldn’t have said it if he had won. So perhaps he spoke truth with forked tongue, so to speak.

Meanwhile, to get back to the match, you always had the feeling Djokovic could win. That’s why it was so exciting. With Federer/Nadal, though – something other than tennis creeps in, and that is frustrating for a Fed fan. You want Fed to be beaten, if he must be beaten, purely on the grounds of inferior tennis, and not because the psychiatric couch is looming.

derrick Says:

Congrats to Nadal. He is an inspiration to all beyond tennis. He just never gives up. Does his best. He is gracious in defeat and complimentary in victory. He even sticks up for Fed out of respect.

Roger is a really awesome player and always a class act but I feel he is much more of technician and ambassador of tennis which is great but lacks heart and soul. Like the great champion Sampras who was emotionless and boring as hell. I much more favor the Agassi’s, Michael Jordan and Nadal who leave everything out on the court

I think Nadal, Djokovic and Fed are all good for mens tennis. I remember when I was bored and watched womens tennis with serena, venus, henin and sharapova. It was much more exciting and now thats boring. Its nice to see mens tennis elevated by the unique talents that these guys bring to the table.

Lastly while as much people love to inflate Rogers talent many like to underestimate Nadal’s. If you watch the Fed and Nadal 2006 French Open match you will notice that fed won first set 6,1 in final. It seems customary for top playes to get that first set and nadal to struggle….but when he is healthy always finds a way to win.

Feds transition take ball early game plan was the same in 2006 as it is in now. I think Nadal forces his oponents to play at an astonishing unsustainable level. Rodger’s best chances unfortunately are in three sets not five (especially if he is healthy).

zola Says:

Stat-man (and Tennisnakama)
I did not take your criticism as Nadal-bashing at all. It is all good and there is no harm in disscusing these issues.

About Nadal on hard courts, I agree that his style has limitations. Tsonga, Youznhy, Blake, berdych and Federer, exposed it to the maximum. He is aware of those and he has done small adjustments to his game. He may or may not be as dominant as Federer on the hard courts, but still he has been more successful on hard courts than some hard court players like Gasquet, Murray, or even Davydenko.

He is still working on his game. Maybe his style will never be like Djoko or Fed, but will be good enough for him to have some easier wins. I still think his serve is the first to be improved.

About the injury time out, it was not just for consultation. If you see the tape, you’ll see the previous changeover he takes pills. Obviously thee was some discomfort. The massage and the pills and the extra assurance of the trainer that it was a muscle helped him. I think Jane pointed out here, that’s the purpose of injury time outs, to be able to continue the match. Also for NAdal French Open is more important.I bet he would have pulled out if the trainer had advised him to do it. It was an important decision and I am glad Nadal did it.
It had nothing to do with trying to disrupt Federer’s rythm. It was “AFTER” Rafa took the set points from Federer.

Here is my question and I hope you answer, without diverting:
How did Fererer give away the two set points at 5-1 and got broken? ( before the injury time out).

Why Federer could not win the third set after winning the second?

zola Says:

I am a Rafa fan and I did not make anything out of Djoko’s finger gesture. Of course I did not understand it, because it happened on a Rafa error, but I did not take it as ” I am the future No 1″!

I also did not understand the “luck” factor in his press conference, but he has done several positive things ( I mentioned above) that I am willing to ignore these minor issues. I think no player can please all the fans.

Sean Randall Says:

Making the argument that Nadal unfairly cheated by taking that injury timeout down 2-5 is complete garbage. This isn’t the WTA, Fed wasn’t about to serve and last time I checked, Federer is the 12-time Slam winning World No. 1. A medical timeout by his opponent shouldn’t torpedo his ability to close out a set be it up one break or two. He’s is No. 1 afterall, he is Fed and you cannot choke a 5-1 lead in a final unless your name starts with James and ends with Blake. So that’s on Roger, not on Rafa. Fed cannot let things like an injury timeout throw off his rhythm like it did (or it least looked like it did though we’ll never really know.)

Rafa’s in Fed’s head. Deep in there. That simple.

Tennisnakama Says:

Zola and Sean Randall,

Again you missed my point. As I said, I don’t care about Federer’s loss. I’m not talking about this final. In general I see too many injury time-out at the crucial moments. All players are tired at SF and F. At that point, everybody has physical pain and concerns. Think basketball, they play physical contact sport and non stop running games. They don’t take medical time-out to consult trainers. They take pills and if it’s too much to handle, they leave the court. It’s simple. If they want to have massage, they should leave and have a massage in the clubhouse. This time-out thing is over used for minor reasons in tennis. I’m not blaming Nadal but because there is a rule available, so he used it. This is my point and should be banned.

fed is afraid Says:

fed is a choker, no matter how many slams he has or how many more he wins, he will never get past these matches he has choked away.

Tennis Fan Says:

Shital: How Neitzche-like of you to use an ad hominem argument in response to my comments regarding Djok.

According to Wikipedia … “An ad hominem argument (Latin: “argument against the man”) consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim. The process of proving or disproving the claim is thereby subverted, and the argumentum ad hominem works to change the subject. It consists of criticizing or personally attacking an argument’s proponent in an attempt to discredit that argument. It is also used when an opponent is unable to find fault with an argument, yet for various reasons, the opponent disagrees with it.”
… does that sum up your argument?

Sean Randall Says:

Tennisnakama, was 2-5 a “crucial moment” in the match? In all honesty, it was a blow out at that point.

So what’s your definition of a crucial moment? And exactly how should the rule be enforced?

In the NBA and other team sports you do get a timeouts for rest and there are subs which allow those that are injured to get treatment. In tennis however you are the show and the show must go on.

You are getting into a really gray area…

Statman Says:

I love watching the Fed play tennis more than anyone else ever but I have to say that there is no doubt in my mind that Fed choked. But everybody chokes (a Sampras quote, no less), some more than others.

Didn’t Nadal choke in the Wimbldon 08 final? I’ve noticed a double standard here. People (like the folks over at tend to write that the Fed was “lucky” to have won that final, but if he was lucky then Nadal choked, if Nadal didn’t choke then the Fed was brilliant, not lucky (and incidentally, he didn’t choke).

zulu Says:

Roddick withdraws from French Open with shoulder injury

zola Says:

you still have not answered my questions. I am waiting!

I follow all Rafa matches. He never takes time out just for consultation. He even waited to take the time out after Federer’s serve, so any talk of gamemanship is “garbage”, as Sean mentioned.

A tennis player’s asset is his body. That has to be taken care of. There are rules. Yes, some might abuse them ( and be sure that Nadal is not one of them)and ATP can always investigate an injury time out or a retirement after a match. I have written about that. But you cannot force a player to play with injury or retire. None of those would have benefited the sport. Nadal did the wise thing. He took anti-inflammatory, got the massage and went on to play the match.

Nadal does not need gamemanship to win Federer on clay. He did not do that in MonteCarlo, three French opens, Rome 06 and many more.

you wrote:
****All players are tired at SF and F. At that point, everybody has physical pain and concerns. ****

that’s not true: look who Federer played:

R64 Bye
R32 Nieminen, Jarkko (FIN) rank 27
R16 Soderling, Robin (SWE) rank 48
Q Verdasco, Fernando (ESP) rank 28
S Seppi, Andreas (ITA) rank 43

Rafa’s draw:
R64 Bye
R32 Starace, Potito (ITA) rank 47
R16 Murray, Andy (GBR)rank 14
Q Moya, Carlos (ESP) rank 12
S Djokovic, Novak (SRB)rank 3

Roger was not as tired as Rafa. He played a one-hour match against a tired Seppi and went to sit ad watch Rafa and Djoko play a 3-hour match till 6 pm. Then 21 hours later, Rafa had to be o court. No way Fed was as tired as Rafa.

Federer lost because Rafa plays his best on clay and he is consistent. Bringing up excuses won’t help federer.

JCF Says:

I disagree with people who think Djoko is too arrogant. I think tennis needs a feisty upstart like him, and it makes the game more interesting, and his rivalries with Nadal and Fed all the more worth looking forward to. He has the game to challenge them, and if he can talk the talk then all the better for him.

Like him or not, he does make tennis more exciting. In my opinion, the best rivalry of all time was McEnroe and Connors because those two hated each other. Their rivalry wasn’t fun just because of the tennis, but because of their personalities. The game needs Djokovic. If he can incense his rivals, then he’ll spur them into playing even better to put him in his place, and we get to see sparks fly.

zulu Says:

Tennis Fan Says:
Djokovic pounding of the chest …”I have great heart” gesture that may have been started by Maria Sharapova, or some other unknown Eastern European player

Wow, you against East Europeans? Is that your beef? Maybe you are an older Hungarian who laments the loss of the Austo-Hungarian Empire. Keep ethnicity out of this.

Ravi Says:

I am a Fed fan and I was sad at his loss. But the media makes me mad, the way they are going after Fed. It is like a feeding frenzy. Give him a break, he may going through a major slump, he may not have gotten over the pesky virus(Justine Henin had to deal with the pesky virus for 2 years,and does not want to use it as an excuse. And, maybe he did choke big time. So what. He is a champion and he is taking his loss without making a mojor case and he keeps being positive and trying to improve.As for Djokovich, I also am having a difficult time warming up to him. He is an ultra talented player and he will be #1 very soon, he may even win the golden slam with Roger playing so poorly this year. But, his arrogance is off putting. There is nothing wrong with respecting other players and still be aggressive, since there is no other tennis player out there who are consistent enough to challenge him. I hope Fed comes out of whatever he is going through and really challenge him. I also hope the other tennis players raise the level of their game and really challenge him. That is all I have to say.

Tennisnakama Says:

Sean Randall,

Only a player knows how painful and injured. Trainers do not know his medical history and cannot verify his injury without X-ray or medical tests. My point is injury time-out is not for consultation time or massage time if a player play well. I know my body better than anyone else when I should stop. I take tons of pills when I play in pain. Everybody plays in pain. Injury time-out is created for the Japanese player, Shuzo Matsuoka who was not allowed to take some time out when he could not move. In that reason, injury time-out was created. It is for the players who can’t move. Back to the Nadal’s case, he ran very well before injury time-out. Nadal was excused because he had a tough match before. It does not make sense. Because anyone could have any injury outside tennis courts. If Nadal took midical time-out for his leg pain because he claimed he had fallen from stairs the day before. Perhaps, tennis fans would have gotten very upset by Nadal’s time-out because they don’t believe him. This is my point. We never know the player’s physical conditions unless we see it. If a player plays fine regardless his scores (even if he is leading), it’s an abuse to take injury time-out. It’s not gray for me. It’s simple.

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

why was deniro sitting in djokovic’s box last year at the uso?

JCF Says:

“Making the argument that Nadal unfairly cheated by taking that injury timeout down 2-5 is complete garbage. This isn’t the WTA, Fed wasn’t about to serve and last time I checked, Federer is the 12-time Slam winning World No. 1. A medical timeout by his opponent shouldn’t torpedo his ability to close out a set be it up one break or two. He’s is No. 1 afterall, he is Fed and you cannot choke a 5-1 lead in a final unless your name starts with James and ends with Blake. So that’s on Roger, not on Rafa. Fed cannot let things like an injury timeout throw off his rhythm like it did (or it least looked like it did though we’ll never really know.)

Rafa’s in Fed’s head. Deep in there. That simple.”

I agree completely Sean. You don’t get to number 1 without being able to handle gamesmanship (if it even was that). You have to be mentally tough to be number 1 all these years and win 12 slams. If Fed can’t handle an injury time out, then he shouldn’t be #1. He wouldn’t deserve it.

Fed has proven that he has the qualities. If he can’t close out Rafa, then that is because Rafa is a mental block in his head. And that also leads me to believe that beating Rafa last year at Hamburg was an anomaly, especially with that scoreline.

zola Says:

I agree. The worst part after your favorite player loses a match is to go out and read put downs.

No one can be No 1 for 4-5 years without being great. Federer has an impossible task of winning on clay as long as Rafa is there, similar to Rafa having an impossible task of being No 1 as long as Roger is around.

It is not Federer losing, it is Rafa winning because of the way he plays. Fed is not the only player losing to him. But Fed is the only player, constantly trying to find a way to beat Rafa and that itself is admirable.

I am a Rafa fan and at hard times, when Rafa loses on a hard courts I think about the clay season. The same will be true for Fed. Think of the hard court season and he will be dominant once again. He is a genius and a hardworker.

penise Says:

I just can’t handle watching Fed play Rafa on clay anymore, it’s always something. Total psyche job.

zola Says:


I think you have judged and executed your order in your mind and you go around in your negative, suspicious circular argument without allowing yourself to think otherwise.

with the same logic, everyone on the street should be arrested because they might be guilty of something. The system works otherwise. You trust people unless proven otherwise and in tennis no one can accuse Rafa or Fed of taking a fake or unneccessary injury time out. They are two honorable champions and your words can’t change that.

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

“Don’t try to restrict Djokovic’s arrogance to merely what he SAYS. His actions speak louder than words. Just TWO of MANY examples of Djokovic’s assinine behavior is 1) turning his back on Nadal when Nadal made a phenomenal lob winner instead of acknowledging it; 2) Making #1 gestures with his finger in the second set.”

How is this behavior asinine or arrogant? federer does stuff like this all the time.

Tennisnakama Says:


I hope you understand what I’m saying. I repeat. I’m not talking about just this final. We should reconsider the injury time-out rule in general because I’m too tired of seeing abuses. I hope I made my point this time. I have to leave now and thank you for exchanging opinions. I totally enjoyed it.

ferix Says:

what a great season of tennis! hopefully, people will be talking about the nadal – djokovic – federer showdowns this year as they talk about borg – connors – mcenroe and others. certainly deserves it!

let’s not pre-empt the end of the season. maybe federer will win the french and nadal will win wimbledon.

zola Says:

I enjoyed our discussion too. you wrote:
** We should reconsider the injury time-out rule in general because I’m too tired of seeing abuses.**

I would appreciate if you give some examples when you come back. We can’t just throw in an argument like that.

Also you said that initially in relation to Rafa-Roger match and i asked you two questions that you have not answered yet:

1)How did Fererer give away the two set points at 5-1 and got broken? ( before the injury time out).

2)Why Federer could not win the third set after winning the second?

Sean Randall Says:

Tennisnakamura, “Injury time-out is created for the Japanese player, Shuzo Matsuoka”? Whoa. Where did you come up with that one?

Injury time outs have been part of the game long before Shuzo. From what I recall the only thing that came from Shuzo’s US Open incident was that cramps were deemed treatable thereafter. That’s my understanding, feel free to prove me wrong.

And injury timeouts only “for the players who can’t move”? That makes no sense and hardly worth even responding to.

jane Says:

Grendel & Sean say, respectively,

“the psychiatric couch is looming” & “Rafa’s in Fed’s head. Deep in there. That simple.”

Okay, I agree: at some subconscious level, Roger doesn’t believe he can beat Rafa on clay. But he can; he has once, and he was awfully close yesterday. That’s in Hamburg; can he do it at RG in best of 5? That’s another question.

I was going to say this last night, but refrained: we know that this coming back from behind isn’t something that happens in Rafa v. Fed matches only right?

So – did Tsonga choke at IW? Did Djoko choke when he was up 3 (or was it 4) love? Did Fed choke at both MC and Hamburg? Did Ferrer choke at MC (was he not serving for the 2nd set)? These are all comebacks within the last 2 months; I’m sure we can list many more Rafa-resurrections if we want.

The point is this: isn’t it a trend that Rafa is able to fight back from behind – and not just from 1 break down either, often 2.

Perhaps Roger needs to talk to a psychiatrist about his, what, “Rafa-complex”.

But maybe, too, it has something to do with the tenacity of Rafa himself. Every point, for him, is the match. No player, not even Roger, can take his foot off the pedal against Rafa on clay. Is it Roger who tightens up when he’s ahead against Rafa, or is it that he relaxes too much, and Rafa senses that and attacks?

Grendel I didn’t see the trophy presentation or Roger’s interview as TSN cut it off, so I can’t say whether he looked light-hearted. But in the match, no, he didn’t. He looked pretty angry in the third set. And rightly so. He had his chances, he played really well, he looked very strong and fit, but still Rafa won.

I would say that it’s not simply because Federer choked but is also because Rafa never says die, and when he begins to steamroll back, players start making more errors, going for too much, because they know that, on clay, it’s not over until Rafa’s done.

jane Says:

JCF – Great post at 12:14 p.m.; I agree 100%.

jane Says:

Sean – that’s a shame about Roddick, though he’s never done well at RG. Maybe this year would’ve changed that? But it’s also a shame about the Bryans and world cup too. More injury pull outs.

marius Says:

i really wonder how can someone with such mental fragility has been able to win 12 grand slams,the 1 time he is faced with a challenge he can’t overcome it, i really can’t see how he will beat nadal if he can’t when he is 5-1 up, to me nadal is in his head,it is like federer is actually scared of him, you it is like having a fight with someone that always battered you that suddenly you reliased who you are fighting and go back to your ownself,he wants to win so much that he scares him,winning the french to him is like a burden coz everybody wants him to win, but it should be a challenge like it is for djokovic to become number 1, i’m not gonna say that he won’t win,but please roger show some passion, do something to put into nadal’s mind, that you are here to topple him,like djokovic, tsonga,youzhny these people can beat nadal why coz they emotions,and that can beat troubling to see someone other than himself show some passion, ok roger you had it easy for the past 4 years now it is time for you to cement your legacy you might have the game but do you have the hunger and the grit to do it this year, coz for me winning a major will represent more than any of your past accomplishments in my eyes, please trust, believe,and play like we all know you can and stop the defeated body language

jane Says:

“I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies:

why was deniro sitting in djokovic’s box last year at the uso?”

De Niro was watching Djoko at the USO, liked what he saw tennis-wise and personality-wise, and promptly invited Djoko and his team to have dinner at his NYC restaurant. Djoko apparently returned the favor by inviting De Niro to sit in his box for the final. It makes perfect sense that actors would be drawn to Djoko, of course. He’s quite the character.

zola Says:

*** ireally wonder how can someone with such mental fragility has been able to win 12 grand slams,the 1 ***

very good question. Is it possible that you are wrong? they don’t sell grand slams in the supermarkets. Federer has earned them . year after year for four years. What mental fragility?

Fed is a tough as it can be. Maybe it is Rafa ( as Jane mentioned in her post) that makes it impossible for many players to win. RAfa came back against many players. Tsonga, Blake, Ferrer, Djoko as well as Fed. He plays incredibly well and as far as I know no one has worked as hard as Fed to fond a solution. That persistence alone should be recognized, if not appreciated

Glenn Says:

Roddick pulled out? I am sad. But only because I would have wanted to see him crushed by Tsonga, Nadal, Federer, Kohlschreiber, etc.

Okay, Von. Defend your heartthrob! :)

I Like Tennis Bullies:
I’ve only been a Tennis fan for a little over a year, and have not seen Federer do such things.

I’ve never seen another player throw up the #1 sign so much in the MIDDLE of a match. That’s just arrogant. And THEN he LOSES!!! I don’t have any sympathy for such assinine characters. In my book, you’d better be humble, or be able to back up your boasts! Djokovic can’t do either.

If you can’t see the difference between a fist pump and putting up the #1 sign (ESPECIALLY if you don’t deserve it), then I think you’re intentionally blinding yourself.

You can make excuses all you want for Djokovic’s arrogant expressions. The fact is, he wasn’t doing that in the first set, when he made some good shots. He was playing like a good sportsman. But in the second set, he was taunting, like a jerk. Besides, Djokovic was NOT playing in Serbia, where such an expression may be taken to mean little more than a self-congratulations. He’s been around long enough and should know better, and even the sports commentator called him on it. The fact is Djokovic should know that in the Western countries, such expressions – IF YOU CAN’T BACK THEM UP -only demonstrates that you are a fool.

I have not seen any occasion when Nadal has celebrated an unforced error (of course, I haven’t watched every single match that has ever occurred). If it did happen, there are many reasons Nadal could have celebrated: 1) He could have believed it was a FORCED error; 2) It could have been the end of a very long game or set; 3) It could have been the end of a very long point; 4) Djokovic could have been acting like his usual arrogant self and an unforced error would indicate Djokovic is not as good as he thinks he is (I’d be cheering, too).

Again, don’t try to make excuses for Djokovic rudely turning his back on Nadal when Nadal won the point with an unbelievable lob. You can interpret his laugh to be the acknowledgement that I am saying he did not give, but Djokovic has been around long enough to know that the proper acknowledgement is to put up your racquet and clap.

I couldn’t care less about post-match interviews. The true test of a sportsperson’s character is on the court, in the heat of the game.

Sean Randall Says:

Jane, choking is another very gray area to define. I look at like falling apart mentally from a really strong winning position. Fed did just that yesterday. He started missing a lot of easy shots subsequently letting Rafa back into the match.

Rameriz-Hidalgo did the same vs. Fed in Monte, and there are many other examples including Ferrer who I think had set points in Monte Carlo should have at least closed that out. But he gagged.

But you also have to look at levels of play. Even though Djoko had a big lead in the first Rafa was really playing well and so too was Djoko. Rafa was just too good. Compared that to yest when i don’t think Rafa was playing at his best while Fed played pretty good until he built those big leads, then his play really dropped off.

Tennisnakama Says:


I meant the current medical time-out. This is wiki’s link:

I think wiki is correct because I read some other articles in other languages as well.

I am only suggesting it’s time to clarify the rule so that we see less abuses. ( I didn’t mean Nadal abused it. He used it because it was available for him.)

I like to see the tennis community open to different opinions and discuss without emotional engagement (in other words, Intelligent conversation).

Again, thank you for it.

Here is an excerpt from wiki:
At the US Open in 1995, Matsuoka was left writhing in pain on court after being stricken by cramps during his first round match against Petr Korda. The rules at the time meant that Matsuoka would have forfeited the match if he had gotten medical attention, so he was left to suffer until he defaulted for delaying the match. The incident led to a change in the rules of professional tennis to allow players to receive medical treatment during matches.

Glenn Says:


I agree. Federer definitely choked, missing a lot of shots that Federer fans take for granted from him. So does that mean that Nadal’s main advantage over Federer on clay is really just mental toughness?

I also agree that Djokovic did not choke. Nadal was simply too good. I haven’t been a tennis fan that long, so I haven’t really analysed their respective games on the other surfaces. I hope to pay closer attention in the future.

jane Says:

Sean says, “He started missing a lot of easy shots subsequently letting Rafa back into the match”

So Fed let his guard down, let his focus wander/wonder, and then Rafa attacked. OR Rafa started attacking and Fed choked/panicked?

It’s a subtle difference, I’m aware, and maybe both are “choking” but if it’s the first scenario, it’s a difference that doesn’t talk as much to Fed’s mental fear of Rafa as to his wandering focus. I thought he started missing a lot of shots AFTER Rafa started coming back actually, but I’d have to re-watch to determine which came first.

Fed knows Rafa like the other players do. Once you let down against him, even for the tiniest second, he pounces. And then the momentum shifts, and then the rest is history. Or almost.

You didn’t really address that this is a PATTERN for Rafa against many players, not only Roger.

The trick is to stay in every single point, like Rafa does, and not many players can do that against Rafa on clay. Can we even count Ferrero’s win since Rafa was injured? The point is he’s won 108 out of 110 matches on clay for a reason.

nadalian Says:


An interesting thing about Roger’ game disintegrating like that against rafa highlights that he is for sure hitting a mental block whenever he’s playing these clay-court extravaganza’s against nadal. While most people would call me crazy for saying what I’m about to say,I personally think roger has a way more balanced game even on clay than rafa,as his cross-court shot making ability combined with his controlled agression on the forehand and deep baseline shots makes for a much more desirable package.In response to my “unusual” perspective on this matter,most people would ask then why is it that he is unable to beat rafa on clay especially in cirsumstances when he’s built such sizeable leads and he fails to convert the big opportunities.My answer is that there is definitely the weight of history on his shoulders as he perhaps tries a little too hard on various points against rafa which is quite unusual given the fact that he rarely makes those mistakes against almost any other player on the circuit.I do believe we should be fair in accepting that a majority of the unforced errors he makes against nadal on clay,which also is incidentally too high by his standards,is not really attributable to rafa forcing him to makes those errors but a combination of some persistant defence from rafa coupled with his impatience in wanting to pull the trigger too fast on certain rallies as well as an inability to slug out certain passages of play especially when rafa brilliantly keeps the focus away from his forehand and continously forces him to rely on his backhand.I think Federer knows his rightful place in the history of this sport and it really all comes to him possibly at moments like when he was 5-2 ahead and with a set point opportunity in the first set and he really lacks the inability to shrug off the emotions through which he possibly feels overwhelmed.

fed is afraid Says:

fed is a mental chipmunk. he won 12 slams against mostly cupcakes, except for rafa of course. and last year rafa almost won wimbledon, if it had been far for both men he would have won it. and rafa took fed to 5 sets at wimbledon and roger has never taken rafa to 5 at the french.

jane Says:


good name.

“a combination of some persistant defence from rafa coupled with his impatience in wanting to pull the trigger too fast on certain rallies as well as an inability to slug out certain passages of play especially when rafa brilliantly keeps the focus away from his forehand and continously forces him to rely on his backhand.”

Well this makes more sense to me – you’re admitting it’s a combination of factors, and giving credit to Rafa’s incredible persistence, not simply saying Fed can’t handle playing Rafa and mentally implodes.

He does have a 8:10 H2H with Rafa after all, so he knows he can beat him; and he beat him at Hamburg last year, so if anything, that should be the place he’s MOST confident against Nadal. I guess we’ll see how he does at the French, but lets give credit to Rafa, too, for playing a wonderful match.

Tennisnakama Says:


Because of matsuoka’s incident, medical time-out was changed to the current rule. Refer to:

I am only suggesting it’s time to redefine and clarify the medical/injury time-out. That’s all.

fed is afraid Says:

the head to head is 6-10, in favour of nadal.

alex Says:

i don`t believe what you are writing about federer. he is mentally weak?!

mental weakness is to say a thing like that.

rafa is just such a hard worker that each player confronting him knows he will have to smash him. the only way to defeat naadal is to smash him with super agressive game from the base line. forcing net game is of no use against him. federer and djokovic will remember that. with his super top spins it is suicidal to force net game when you are playing him.

i don`t think federer will ever win RG . he just has not that consistency in agressiveness from the base line. his game is versitile and he is used to short points that when it comes to really long and intense rallies he is in deep trouble. in that respect, i would say djokovic has much bigger chances at RG this year.

jane Says:

fed is afraid – thanks for clarifying the H2H, but obviously fed has beaten Rafa 6 times, so that’s something.

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

fed is afraid Says: last year rafa almost won wimbledon, if it had been far for both men he would have won it.

if it weren’t for federer’s uncommon luck that rafael getting injured nadal would have been the wimbledon champion

Sean Randall Says:

Tennisnakamura, that wiki entry is misleading. The only major change was that it was now allowable for a player to get treatment for cramps. Prior to Shuzo players were unable to get treatment for cramps but able to get worked done on just about anything else.

See the bottom of the story linked to below:

That said, I will ask again, how would you enforce the policy? What needs to be changed?

Nadalian, Roger does have a more balanced game than Rafa on clay, but that doesn’t mean he’s better than Rafa, especially on the clay.

I’ve said it before, Roger just doesn’t match up well with Rafa on clay. A guy like Djokovic for my money has a better chance than Roger, and it just comes downs to styles.

Roger plays too loopy and his backhand is more vulnerable vs. Rafa than it is on other surfaces. And of course there is that mental factor.

Fed is afraid, I think you are getting a bit carried away by claiming Roger to be a “mental chipmunk”. In that case who in your book isn’t?

Jane, I did touch on the pattern. In Djoko’s case I thought he maintained his high level whereas Fed just really tapped out to lose that first set. Big difference.

Dr. Death Says:

To repeat something I have beaten on in the past, there is a fine mental edge to winning. Winning is a learned art developed – by winning.

That edge, ever so slight as it is, has gone over to Nadal. Federer, for whatever reason, has lost it.

To take this particular win or loss and to write off Federer as a challenger is wrong. To write Nadal off on non-clay events is also wrong. Evolution is part of the nature of this sport. It continues; it is not static.

The momentum is in favor of Nadal at the moment. But one blister, one muscle pull, one cramp, can change all of that. Buys your tickets for the rest of the season now.

Shital Green Says:

Tennis Fan,

Your posts hardly give me an indication that you play tennis or enjoy watching tennis more than venturing character assassination. I don’t think tennis court is the best place to look for emulating a personality if that is what you are looking for. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall reading anything from you that discusses physics of tennis, racket and body movement coordination, and how erroneously or successfully a player makes or creates shots, volleys, serves, footwork, etc. As opposed to comparing skills between players and how each has evolved and is evolving as an all round tennis player, all you are doing against Djoko is ad hominem, i.e foregrounding extraneous behaviors erroneously while burying his skills in the background. And then you shamelessly talk about me going after a player’s behaviors because we are supposed to be talking about tennis here? Cite me an instance when I attacked a player on the basis of how a character behaved on and off the court. I quoted your phrases factually. They are there. In those posts, you don’t talk about tennis in a any real sense. I find it annoying to talk about personality traits and pretend we are shrinks or social police. I leave that to ITF and ATP to decide what is in/appropriate on-court behaviors and umpire to implement rules, including court etiquettes. I would rather spend my time praising a player’s moves and learning something out of it so that I can play and enjoy tennis better. I play exclusively on hard court, so you would hear more from me during that season with some novice input. I would be more than happy to have a healthy discussion on tennis skills in proper, especially during a match. In this blog, my intention is to learn how to talk about tennis and derive surplus pleasure out of it, and you can see that if you ever came across my live posts during the match. I would appreciate if you could contribute to that effect.

By the way, as a philosophy enthusiast, I take any comparison with Nietzsche or other philosophers as a complement.

Rather than looking at under-scholarly Wiki, see at least The Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche, if it is too much to ask you to go through his works from Beyond Good and Evil onward. One essay from that Companion will answer your question about “Nietzsche’s ad hominem,” Robert Solomon’s “Nietzsche ad hominem: Perspectivism, Personality, and Ressentiment.”

Daniel Says:

All in all, I think Fed’s chances are increasing. In the last years he lost to Nadal easier. This year he lost sets 7-5 and could have won 3 other sets between the 5 they played on clay so far. He is improving against Nadal, and, off course, the mental part is getting worst. At least he is having the lead first, and if it happens again in the French, I bet my b… he won’t drop it.

As much as Nadal played good (against Djoko he was better) people forget that in both comebacks it was Fed who start missing a lot, Nadal didn’t do anything out of what he is use to.

So, let’s wait and see, as always!

grendel Says:

Jane, contrary to what you imply, I pointed out that Nadal might have beaten Federer even if he hadn’t choked. I wasn’t talking about Nadal. I don’t disagree with what you have to say about him. I was talking about Federer against Nadal on clay. In my opinion – which is only an opinion, but one which I notice is pretty widely shared by people who otherwise are at odds – Federer invariably at some stage becomes strangely passive against Nadal, negating earlier promise. There is no question but that he tightens, and for long stretches becomes unable to play properly – according to his own lights. This seems so obvious, I am surprised anyone should want to question it, except of course, opinions are rarely formed in a vacuum.

As for taking the foot off the pedal, insofar as Federer cannot match Nadal for maintenance of concentration, there is something in that. But of course, it could also be part of the problem. There could be a slightly childish thing going on, which surely we’re all familiar with: the end is in sight, so we pretend we’re already there, the stress is suddenly overwhelming, anything to avoid it. I couldn’t say whether this is the case or not, and in any case, it’s hardly straightforward. But I am quite clear in my mind that Federer has huge problems with Nadal – first of all on court, but also in his mind. Perhaps I am wrong, but that’s how I see it.

jane Says:

Okay, grendel, so we agree in this “As for taking the foot off the pedal, insofar as Federer cannot match Nadal for maintenance of concentration, there is something in that ” as well as in this “I pointed out that Nadal might have beaten Federer even if he hadn’t choked.”

It did seem, however, that many posters were saying that it was a matter of a simple choke by Roger and that’s what I was trying to address. I’m sorry if I mis-implied what you meant or said.

I was also trying to address the opinion that while Federer may have a lack of belief (or some sort of mental glitch) against Nadal, we shouldn’t overlook Rafa’s tendency to claw back from the throes of defeat against other players as well, not only Roger.

In short, I was actually trying to give a little more credit to BOTH players – to say that it wasn’t all Roger’s doing or fault, in losing those 2 leads, and that credit is due to Rafa’s ability to subvert what seems to be a winning lead by another player.

Maybe, too, Rafa’s got an “aura” on clay similar to what Roger used to have everywhere else?

grendel Says:

“Maybe, too, Rafa’s got an “aura” on clay similar to what Roger used to have everywhere else?”

No doubt about that. You hated that in Federer, don’t seem to mind it in Nadal. This is not an accusation – human beings are allowed to be inconsistent. Only robots keep strictly to the party line.

It’s a curious thing about “choking”. Federer will never admit to it, for all sorts of reasons, not all to do with self-importance. The most spectacular choke I ever saw was Jan Novotna in the Wimbledon Final. She had Steffi Graf at her mercy, teaching her a real lesson in grass court tennis. When you saw how Novotna was all over the great claycourter, you couldn’t help wondering, how on earth did Graf win so many Wimbledon titles? Partly by having a mind like steel, I suspect, but anyway, Novotna adamantly refused to admit that she’d choked (she threw away a 5 love lead was it?). The evidence could scarcely have been plainer, but Jan wouldn’t have it.

Not every player is like that. One the eve of his final with Ivanesevic, Rafter was reminded by some pushy interviewer of his strange capitulation to Sampras, in the first set in the previous year’s final. “That’s right, mate” Rafter smiled encouragingly, “I choked”. He went on to add that if he did that again on the morrow, he’d have no hope.

“And d’you think you will?” inquired our intrepid reporter.

“Dunno, mate” came the reply. And Rafter smiled again.

Tennisnakama Says:


Thank you for the NY Times link. The Djokovic 4 time-out was outrageous! I totally agree with P. Mcenroe’s comment.

“Right now, there’s too many players that abuse the rule,” McEnroe said. “Being physically fit is part of tennis.”

I don’t know how to enforce the rule to avoid abuses. But at least I thought it’s worth discussing it.

Anyway, I enjoy talking to you and Zola. Now I go back to my own blog (Japanese). I threw this injury time-out issue also on my blog and got a lot of response. I just want to see how American people (I assume) react on this issue. I found it interesting difference.

Nobody on my blog think Nadal exploited the rule. But there are some nuances. Do you remember Roddick’s attitude against Kei Nishikori? It looked a cheap thing to do in order to win from a young kid. Anything-goes-attitude in order to win (including taking time-out for minor cases) is not appealing to Japanese. Because it’s not fair. While Federer had Mono which is a serious desease, he fought through the games. We have a famous saying, “Samurai rather starves to death to hold his pride high” And many Samurai died indeed. For foreigners, it may sound stupid. It’s a different culture. This time-out issue is interesting because it reflects values.

jane Says:

“No doubt about that. You hated that in Federer, don’t seem to mind it in Nadal. This is not an accusation – human beings are allowed to be inconsistent. Only robots keep strictly to the party line.”

I hated it in Fed, in part, because of the “everywhereness” of it (affecting not just nearly every player, but reaching to press and fans alike), as well as its length (4 years!); the underdog in me couldn’t help but rebel. Admittedly, too, it may’ve irked me because I’ve never liked him as much as I like Rafa. But if Rafa does have an aura, it’s only on clay, which is a relatively short season, so it hasn’t bugged me as much.

Still, I don’t enjoy watching anyone choke, in the sense of falling apart, unraveling emotionally. When Novotna teared up talking with the Duchess, so did I – even though I was cheering for Graf in the match.

I felt sort of badly for the guys who lost their leads against Rafa this year, and yet for some reason, it doesn’t seem as much like a choke against Nadal, for me, as much as his own comeback.

Perhaps, like the aura, it’s a matter of subjective perception.

jane Says:

Here’s a nicely wrought ponder on the final, for those care to take on extra reading:


Von Says:


“Roddick pulled out? I am sad. But only because I would have wanted to see him crushed by Tsonga, Nadal, Federer, Kohlschreiber, etc.”

“Okay, Von. Defend your heartthrob! :) ”

To say I’m disappointed about Roddick’s recent and persisting injury is putting it mildly. However, I’m more concerned about the grass season than the FO, since he’s done well on grass and can go further. Additionally, he has his title at Queens to defend.

Glenn, be careful what you wish for. Roddick is good on grass, and can rack up Ws. Hope you’re not too disappointed. You’re a puzzlement to me, Glenn. For one so gung-ho on decorum and sportsmanlike behavior, how could you wish for someone to be injured so openly? Remember, Glenn, in life we need to temper justice with mercy. The donkeys are in need of a breather. Don’t load up on the willing asses too much, they might start kicking back in retaliation, and I hope that you wont’ be on the receiving end. :) So much for my defense of Roddick.

Since Federer/Nadal are the topics of conversation/discussion, I’ll add my two bits/bips/bytes here on my observations.

During the Hamburg tournament, Federer, having not been pushed to play against top quality opponents, was able to keep his errant forehand dulled/lulled into submission, or at bay. On Sunday, playing against Nadal, the forehand again, began it’s journey into never, never land. The errors began piling up. On those occasions, I closely watched Federer’s face — he was visibly nervous, and panicking. My conclusion: the errant forehand becomes erratic when he’s nervous, and it’s not a case of timing. What does this vision say to me? The same as has happened to Roddick — Pavlov’s Bell begins ringgg-ing. The self-doubts begin creeping into Fed’s mind, and the Nadal phobia, begins surfacing. This is not about Nadal — it’s about Federer’s subliminal which surfaces. Can I, will I, or won’t I? And, it’s in those moments that Fed’s concentration blows through the window — in his case, the door, along with his focus, and skills/shot making. Talent and skill can only help us for a while, but, when fear steps in, that fragile organ, the human brain, becomes our enemy. I’m sure anyone looking at Fed, would question his shots in those nervous moments, and wonder hy, did he do that.

It goes without saying, that Nadal played a very good match, however, it was not one of his best. Nadal’s match with Djokovic was of a higher calibre as opposed to his match with Fed. I had mentioned, after Nadal’s match with Djokovic, that Rafa seemed slower, and he was, but as usual, he can always manipulate and out-maneuver Fed into submission. Additionally, this older, wiser, youngman turned veteran of the clay, is brimming with self-confidence. It’s almost as though he’s courting and wanting to tempt the odds — coming from behind to even up the score, and then lunge forward to win the spoils. His, is no longer a clay court match on those ocasions, but a game of minds, steely grit, and flirting with the unbelievable – an ‘I’m enjoying this, attitude’. Toying with his opponent’s head. (In some ways Federer is reaping some of his own medicine. Isn’t this what he does to his so-called inferior competition?) Nadal plays best by the light of his burning bridges, and his propulsion fuel is daring and beating the odds — keeping his opponent under his thumbs, and never letting up. There’s a certain amount of heady/giddyness that one derives from this type of competition, wherein the neurotransmitters all meld with tympanny and fanfare, and we see an invincibility that is unmatched. He’s crafty and cunning, knows when he’s got his opponent exactly where he wants him, and becomes even more unrelentling and formidable in his punishment. An animal smelling his prey and tasting/savouring the meal. I’ve seen at times when Fed got up to the net, made a good volley, and Nadal just makes an unbelievable, thread-the-needle shot down the line, with Fed standing helpless, watching the ball speed past him. I actually saw fear and resignation on Fed’s face on those occasions. Nadal, on the other hand, sends Fed the message, of I dare you to do that again, and what does Fed do, he cowers and refrains from so doing. It would be advantageous for Fed at those times, to continue hitting his shots, and show Nadal that whether I win or lose, I’ll not budge an inch, and he’s not going to let Nadal grind him into submission. Instead he plays right into Nadal’s hands, — upon which Nadal thrives.

This may sound stupid/trite/hilarious, but I think Federer would find it extremely beneficial to sit down and speak to whom? Not Pete Sampras, not Tiger Woods, but — Andy Roddick. Who best could put into words exactly how Federer feels at those moments when he watches his dreams of the elusive FO or MC/Rome, go up in smoke and once again, succumbs to the humiliation, cruel criticisms, and loss of confidence — Andy Roddick.

On another note, I’ve seen some of Djokovic’s fans now criticizing him, and vice versa, Federer fans, ditto. Guys, to thine own self be true. It’s very difficult for another poster, me, to understand for whom you’re rooting. Stop vacillating — stay true to your players, remember, that it’s not everyday that it’s Christmas, and learn to take the good with the bad. As a Roddick fan, I’m fine-tuned to these lulls — you could call it being heavily marinated in the sauce of disappointment, however, the bad times are what makes the good times more pleasurable, and the reality is that each man has his season. Fed’s more or less the proverbial ‘man for all seasons’, except in the clay court season, however, that’s only one-quarter of the whole season. For whom will you root the next three-quarters?

Remember: “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date”.

Is there a Doctor of gloom who wishes to rise to the above — s clue, sonnet — what number?

Questions Says:


Surely most people will agree that abusing medical time-outs is wrong, unsportsmanlike and not honorable. But let’s go back to when you first brought it up. (May 19, 2:40 am). You wrote: “Nadal’s injury time-out was not fair. I paid an extra attention to his footwork before and after and draw the conclusion that his time-out was to affect Roger’s rhythm.” That’s your interpretation of his movements, and your interpretation of his reasons. You also write that you know he looked guilty. That’s an interpretation of his body language after the match,… but there could be all kinds of other reasons for whatever that body language was.

Then, in your last post (May 19, 7:34pm) you wrote: “Nobody on my blog think Nadal exploited the rule.”

So in your blog you were the only one who believes Nadal exploited the rule. And in this blog you are also the only one, I believe, to express this view. So perhaps you could listen to what various people have been writing in both blogs and wonder whether perhaps you may have mis-interpreted Nadal’s reasons and needs for the time-out.

Please consider that it is a very widely held belief, including among many professional commentators, that Nadal is just about as sportsmanlike and honorable as sport people come. That this view is so widely held surely counts for something in something like this? (“You can’t fool all the people all of the time”).

You have not answered the questions that were addressed to you several times…, including Federer not closing out the first set from 5-1 to 6-1 … BEFORE the medical time-out.

And please be fair… consider what others have written about the positive reasons (and most likely the only reasonse) for the medical time-out: there was some pain and Nadal wanted a) to find out whether there was a risk to jeopardize his chances of playing in Paris in a week’s time — and defend his three consecutive wins there, and b) get a short treatment to allow him to continue playing this final, in all fairness to himself, Federer, the tournament organizers and the viewers.

jane Says:


” I’ve seen some of Djokovic’s fans now criticizing him”; I hope you’re not referring to me riffing on Tennis Fan’s “bad boy” comment…because I like bad boys and will continue to root Djokovic on and defend him when applicable or worth. I can’t be bothered trying to covert people who have blinders on to the guy; like I said to someone above, they’ll either come around and begin to appreciate him more or they won’t. No skin off my back. I am a dedicated Djoko fan, but as you know I have about 4 others in my books too.

And take heart – Roddick will be back for the grass; I am convinced.

Von Says:


“I hope you’re not referring to me riffing on Tennis Fan’s “bad boy” comment…because I like bad boys and will continue to root Djokovic on and defend him when applicable or worth.”

Emphatically No. Not you — you’re Djoko’s best fan. :) As you know, I’m not a Djokovic fan, so it doesn’t really bother me — I’m just baffled that’s all. Without being slaughtered, and/or opening a proverbial Pandora’s Box, I would like to jog your memory to go back in time, the AO to be precise, when I was very vociferous concerning my dislike for Djoko’s behavior. I was literally humiliated by one specific poster who grandstanded on Djoko’s behalf by misinterpreting my comments. This poster’s opportunistic usurpation of that situation, enabled him to expound on his expertise of mental health, and further proceeded to call me a racist, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. (The King of Siam here – me. :) ) Now, this same poster has become anti-Djokovic and is now killing Djokovic.

Further, when Federer hissed at Djokovic’s parents, and I voiced my dislike for his behavior, I was referred to as a Federer hater — now, I see that same poster, is admiring Djokovic. End result, one helluva confused poster here.

“And take heart – Roddick will be back for the grass; I am convinced.”

I’m hoping for a good prognosis. I would like for him to do a Dubai repeat. Now, the anti-Roddick fans can laugh, and satisfy their day’s quota of laughs – laughter being the best medicine. And, I mean it in the nicest way. :)

grendel Says:

Yes, I was cheering for Graf too, but with a slight feeling of unease. I recall quite vividly the feeling, as Novotna fell apart, that all Graf had to do was keep the ball in play, and the match was hers – and that seemed wrong, somehow. One felt, somehow – sheepish. I was glad when Novotna finally got her win, not just on sentimental grounds; her particular game was worthy of a Wimbledon crown. As, incidentally, was Rafter’s. I was appalled when he retired.

Daniel Says:

Questions and others

tennisnakama is not alone, I mentioned it earlier. Here the double standard come along: If Fed took a time out in the third set, cooled Nadal off, and turn the match away, boy we will have at least 50 mentions of it. I think in this tread that are other two or three that noticed it too.

I can’t say for sure what happened but it was at least strange! Fed drop his leval, Nadal face expressions was as he was saying “I’m sorry”, he wasn’t even rooting for it. I watch the match at tennis MS TV and the commentors mention that was a strange atmosphere. I don’t know if he called the time out earlier, thinking he was going to loose 6-1 and have the attendance after the first set, if so, it was really genuine, but if he decided to call it later, could be suspicious.

The fact is everybody thought he was going to retire anytime soon. Serving 2-5 he kept moving his leg, as if he was testing it. If he had lost that game and the set, I think he would quit. But after he won it than he keeps playing. These things affects a player in a match, even Federer, who was watching it live and known Nadal played Djoko for 3 intense hours the day before.

You think: how can’t I win against a guy that is injured?! Anyone who played competitive tennis, or played with passion to win knows it, it’s a awkward situation. The guy has cramps in his left leg, so you make the guy run side to side and keep pushing short balls in his left. You have to be mean to see if he can do it or give the match to you. I learn this when I was 14, and use it, and suffer it too, imagine this guys who are professional. The pressure is entire in who is healthy, and the more you can’t win it the more you go crazy. It’s one of the worst feelings you can experiment in a tennis court, a very easy situation to loose foccus, because a new factor that wasn’t planned come along, you don’t go to a match predicting it. These kind of things diminish a match.
Wouldn’t it be way more satisfying if this fact didn’t happened?!

So, I think this topic is valid to be mentioned here and I like to hear the opinion of others about it too.

Btw, tennisnakama, your name in portuguese sound really funny, is it intentional?:)

Tennisnakama Says:


Thank you for your respond to my comments. In my first comment, I said Nadal looked fine to me. That’s still my impression. I understand why my comment upsets many people. I understand fully what you’re saying. But sometimes it’s healthy to hear different views. I respect your opinion and I want you to respect mine.

Why I wrote my comment at the first place, I just wanted to discuss about the issue of injury time-outs referring to Nadal’s case in the final. If Federer had been in the Nadal’s shoe, would Federer have taken injury time-out? Probably not. I’m tired of circling around the subject without any fruitful discussion. So I withdraw from this thread.

Only one thing I would like to add is that you skipped the most important part re: my readers reaction. I said “nobody think Nadal exploited it. (I should have used wrote instead of think) But there are some nuances.”

“But there are some nuances”
What I wanted to say is that nobody directly pointed out Nadal had exploited it but left nuances of suspect. It means nobody wrote it clearly like I did but their comments left impressions he might have done it. They didn’t slap the winner with a dirty shoe. But between lines they expressed. I didn’t explain enough, so you were puzzled. So, it’s my fault.

It has been an interesting trip to US. I learned a lot. But it’s time for me to leave. I hope i will be back and continue conversations.


zola Says:

sorry about Andy’s injury. I am sure he will be 100% very soon and hopefully will come back in Queens and Wimbledon.

you just throw accusations to Nadal in a very subtle way and don’t even attempt to answer to anything I am asking. That’s not a discussion anymore and I don’t understand your motivation.

i repeat:
1)Federer lost his serve ( on set point) to Rafa BEFORE the injury time out. what happened then?

2) Federer won the second set and still lost the third. the momentum was with him and nothing happened to disrupt it . how did he lose the second set?

How did federer lose to Rafa in Monte Carlo this year, FO 05-07, Rome 06 and the other times? did Rafa disrupt his momentum?

You think making excuses will help Federer? go ahead. blame Nadal. Write to ATP to suspend every player who asks for injury time out. Everyone is a suspect in your opinion, unless proven otherswise.

But these will not help Federer. Th problem is not in a tired Rafa taking injury time outs. It is in a tireds Rafa still fighting for every point. That’s what Federer needs to deal with and find a solution.

You can stay in your imaginary world, arrest suspects, but that won’t change the reality one little bit. The task before Federer is real and enormous and it is called Rafael Nadal.

zola Says:

btw, everyone,
just read today that Edberg will start playing. I really wish to see some of the senior matches.

Von Says:


sorry about Andy’s injury. I am sure he will be 100% very soon and hopefully will come back in Queens and Wimbledon.”

Thanks for your kind words concerning Roddick. I too hope he will be fine soon. He’s smart when it comes to injuries — he allows himself the time to heal. I respect that kind of thinking in anyone. It’s better for a player to give himself the opportunity to heal, rather than push himself, and make the injury worse.

About Rafa’s injury timeout — I don’t know if you saw my post on the other thread when Nadal beat Djokovic last Saturday. I expressed the concern that I noticed Nadal was moving slower than normal, however, I attributed his slight loss of quickness to the blisters. It was very apparent to me, that there was a problem. Thus, the injury timeout on Sunday in his match v. Fed, was not a surprise. I personally thought Rafa would give Fed a walkover, or retire early in the match, because he played for 3 hours the previous evening, which could make the blister problem flare up. That in itself was bad for any player in a night match no less, before a final. Additionally, I also posted on the unfairness in scheduling not allowing for enough recovery time.

Some mention that Rafa was not pumped up because of his alleged guilt — the medical timeout. I feel differently. He was obviously in a lot of pain, and how can anyone, even Rafa, be pumped up when in pain. This can be debated back and forth, the question, you as a fan, need to ask yourself, vis-a-vis, do you feel that he was injured enough to warrant a medical timeout? If your answer is in the affirmative, then that’s all that should matter to you, and ignore the semantics. I hope this helps. :)

Dr. Death Says:

Von – Shakespeare; dont know the # without cheating. I reckon from the sructure an earlier one – below # 20?

OR it is Fifty Cents from his album Get Rich or Die Tryin.

zola Says:

.All the best to Andy. I think with a good rest and no injury, he has a good chance for Wimbledon and US Open.

thanks a lot for your mice words too. I don’t care about negative talks. People who want to find excuses, always find something. If it was not the time out, would have been something else. Imagine if he had retired!

I just reply to comments like Tennisnakama, becasuse I want the records to be straight and I want to show that they have no answer, even when a question is asked 10 times. Just like a broken record reiterate what they want.

Rafa took the time out AFTER he broke Federer. yet the naysayes say he disrupted fed’s rythm. Again fed lost 2-6 in the last set after winning the second set. He had the momentum and no one took a time out.why did he lose?
Of course they can’t answer to that question either. fed has bigger problems when he faces Rafa and a million excuses like this won’t help him.
you are quite right about Rafa being in pain. After the match he said in an in court interview “everything hurts” and then in his after match presser said that he had some tests and there is a small problem with Hamstring. I am quite sure that the injury was in his mind with RG ahead.

zola Says:

Von, I am the typo queen. :)
mice words=nice words!

Glenn Says:

Dear Von,

Methinks that you have some blinders on for Roddick. I don’t know how you could have interpreted what I said to mean that I “wished [for him] to be injured.” The most you could take from what I said was that I am NOT a Roddick fan. Would you like to reassess my comment?

Also, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, even if I don’t like a player, if he/she wins because of his/her skill, then that player obviously deserves it. I’m not going to complain. But I will ALWAYS hold unsportsmanlike/assinine behavior against any player, whether they win or not. I’ll be willing to forgive their behavior if they show evidence of change.

grendel Says:

Tennisnakama stated explicitly that he is a fan of Nadal’s – adored him since he was 14 – and not of Federer’s. Again, he stated that he cared nothing for Federer’s loss. So making a comment like:”Federer lost because Rafa plays his best on clay and he is consistent. Bringing up excuses won’t help federer” (Zola) is quite irrelevant to the point Tennisnakama was trying to make. I am not interested in this point myself, and have no opinion, but I couldn’t help noticing the lack of communication. Tennisnakama seems to have been too polite to point it out, but I think he was exasperated by this continual lumping him into the Federer camp, not only because he is not in it, but because it had nothing to do what he wished – correctly or not – to say.

One thing I am interested in, though, which emerges from this, is that there are different ways of being a fan. Some will brook no criticism whatever of their man. That’s up to them. It’s certainly not my way. I am a bit eccentric, I admit, but there are plenty of people, I think, who steer a kind of middle course and criticise their man if they think critism is justified. If this is not understood, all sorts of unecessary misunderstandings can arise.

Von Says:


I apologize it was an oversight — you stated you want to see Roddick crushed. My mistake.

Von Says:

Dr. Death:

It was No. 18.

Skorocel Says:

Ryan said about Djoker: “Nobody else has got what it takes to beat nadal on clay not even fed.”

Has Djoker EVER beaten Rafa on clay? NO is the answer. On the other hand, Fed did beat him (if even once), and was the only one who could CONSTANTLY trouble the Spaniard on his favourite surface (whereas Djoker could only trouble him once out of 4 tries – that being the case in that Saturday’s semi). Djoker definitely has a chance – there’s no doubt about that. If for nothing, then for the fact that, instead of Fed, he’s got that double-hander (which can usually cope with those crazy Nadal’s FH topspins better), but we need EVIDENCE. Let’s just wait till June the 8th, and then we can make some conclusions. One swallow won’t make a summer…

y0s3v Says:

Roger Federer -the greatest of all- does not need to beat Rafa all the time. He just needs to beat him once in RG, and I think, he is going to pull it this year. The man with the achievement of 12 grand slams within 3.5 years will not go down without a fight! It doesn’t matter how you all argue, he is, by far, the best of all.

Tejuz Says:

Its become more like pattern when Fed breaks Nadal early in every set and the surrender’s the initiative with a poor service game. This clearly shows Fed appears to stumble upon a mental block when he is leading Nadal on clay. What is also evident is that everything is on Fed’s racquet than Nadal’s. And also that Fed clearly has the game to take it to Nadal on clay. The way he went ahead 5-1 in that openening set was beautiful tennis by Fed.. then he just lost it. He still dint give up after conceding his serve early and player beautifully to beat Nadal 4 games in a row. Also when he was 5-5 0-40 down.. he played great and also the tie-break to take it to the third set. He was coming to the net often and won a lot of net points compared to Djoker in the semifinals.

Also, it was a firecely competitive and high quality match, just because the winners to unforced errors ratio for both players was pretty high compared to the Nadal-Djoker match. Even though Nadal is favourite to win the RG, i dont discout Fed stealing it from him this year, just because he is cleary the second-best clay court player in the last 4 years and has managed to take 9 sets of Nadal on this surface.. no other player can boast of that record.

jane Says:

I don’t know which match was the more competitive, but I do know that Djoko had many more break point chances against Rafa than Roger did: Djoko converted only 4 out 19 (!) break points against Rafa, whereas Fed converted 4 of 7 chances. So was Djoko creating those opportunities? Sure looked like it to me. However, Rafa was able to fend him off and/or Djoko wasn’t able to get them.

Meanwhile in the Rafa vs. Roger match, it was Rafa who had lots of chances to break Roger – Rafa had 17 chances and converted only 6. I think this is why I was under the impression that Roger’s serving saved him at times. But it was clearly patchy. Roger served at only 61% first serves; Djoko at 64%; and Rafa in the mid 70s both matches.

Both Roger and Djoko could’ve served better in these matches, and that might’ve made the difference.

But it seems to me Djoko was more able to create opportunities to break Rafa’s serve, which bodes well for him against Rafa in the future.

Djoko and Roger were both successful at coming in against Rafa; Roger more so, but Djoko knew that’s a good play and used both the net and drop shot fairly effectively. But I thought Djoko did a nice job of hanging with Rafa at the baseline.

In short – both Roger and Djoko can beat Rafa on clay, imo, but they need to take good care of their own serves and keep the pedal to the metal.

RG should be fun.

grendel Says:

Sound analysis as ever, Tejuz. In retrospect, I regret my hyperbole “the psychiatric couch”, cleverly mocked (though with due restraint) by Jane, by merely reproducing it without comment. Even so, I do think you somewhat underplay the mental aspect. I also agree with Jane that “Djoko did a nice job of hanging with Rafa at the base line”.

I think that when someone is an overwhelming favourite – I have seen this happen again and again – we all scrabble around trying to think of reasons why someone might topple this favourite from his perch. And sometimes – rarely – he is. And often the cause is completely unforeseen.

Wimbledon will be a different matter altogether. Very open indeed. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Federer, but I wonder – a touch irrationally – if 6 is just one too many….I always remember Sampras’ absolutely baffled expression when, out of the blue, he was beaten by Kraijeck, thereby effectively putting an end to his hopes of taking Borg’s record. He knew that 9 times out of 10, he’d beat Kraijeck ; just could not do it on this critical occasion. Nature can play funny tricks….

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

too bad about Arod’s injury but he is a sissy on clay anyway. :)

jane- De Niro was watching Djoko at the USO, liked what he saw tennis-wise and personality-wise, and promptly invited Djoko and his team to have dinner at his NYC restaurant. Djoko apparently returned the favor by inviting De Niro to sit in his box for the final. It makes perfect sense that actors would be drawn to Djoko, of course. He’s quite the character.
thanks, I was wondering about the deniro connection and why he suddenly showed up.

Glenn- I’ve only been a Tennis fan for a little over a year, and have not seen Federer do such things.
federer celebrates points by sticking his finger up the same way djokovic does.

Sad Smiles Says:

Hi Guys,

This may not be the correct post for the answer I am looking for but can anyone of you list the clay court tournaments in order of slowness. This guy at work said that Hamburg is fast like hard court and it is nowhere near French OPen clay. Please shed some light here Or educate me / pass me links on tennis court slowness. I think Hamburg is as slow as French but not as hard possibly that is why ball does not bounces more. Correct me if I am wrong?

jane Says:

Sad Smiles,

I’ve been corrected on this myself – Hamburg apparently plays slower than RG and Rafa’s top spin does not work as well (hence the conclusion by some that it’s Roger’s best place to beat Rafa on clay); however, I’ve read elsewhere that due to the warmer weather in Hamburg this year it was playing a little faster.

Here’s a link to some comments by Bruguera and Muster on last year’s final, in which they discuss the surfaces of Hamburg vs. RG:

zola Says:

Rafa has a tear in that muscle and has to rest for two days, no practice.
Tennisnakama can say till the end of the workd that he or she is a Rafa fan. I still don’t understand his point. Why should Rafa not take an injury time out when he feels something in the muscle? he said that it was stiff . He came to the match after another 3 hour less than 21 hours ago. what kind of a fan implies the time out as gamemanship?

I asked him several times to tell me how that injury time out affected Fed’s service break at 5-1? before the time out? and I got no answer.

The time out is there to be used and if someone who has played a grueling match less than a day before and has a tear in the muscke, can’t use it, then who is eligible?

I appreciate Tennisnakama’s politemess, but he has a way of going around the arguments and not replying to anything I say. I seriously don’t believe he or she is a Rafa fan.

zola Says:

this is an interesting quote from Federer:

I can’t say I liked it.

zola Says:

I remember someone ( Scorocel or Shital?) posted the Olympic points here. Can you post them again? thanks.

grendel Says:

Zola: it may well be that Tennisnakama is wrong. but I do think he was irritated by the assumption that he was coming from federer’s corner – which he twice indicated was not the case – and that could account for his declining to answer your particular points. Incidentally, even though it is wrong here, I see nothing untoward in a fan making a charge of gamesmanship, or anything else. To me, being a fan means particularly liking the player’s style of tennis. It is true that emotion then tends to come into it. But I don’t see why that should entail a black and white view of the player. I suppose that is the most usual state of affairs. Doesn’t mean to say we all have to hold to it.

Regarding the Federer link: the headline (“Federer tips Rafael to wilt in Paris”) is indeed lurid. But unless you have other info, there is no indication he said anything like that. What he evidently said was:”But from Rafael’s standpoint, he is perhaps struggling a bit more due to the stress with the levels of the last few weeks. I am completely fine and I will be ready for the tournament.” – Doesn’t seem anything to cause offence here.

Fed-Rafa Says:

I read that “Federer tips Rafael to wilt in Paris” article and thought some Nadal fanatic is going to crazy reading that headline and sure enough…..

That said, Nadal is not really the paragon of fitness, right? As we saw at Rome, if he is not 100%, there are players good enough to take him out. Nothing is a given in sport.

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:


lol djokovic admitting that he cant win without gamesmanship tactics lol

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

that nytimes article had me rotflmao

djokovic actually admitted that he could not win without employing gamesmanship tactics lol

zulu Says:

Stich backs Djokovic to succeed Federer

momo Says:


It seems you are the only sensible tennis fan in this thread re: tennisnakama’s comments. I am amazed by so many people having black & white views. True fans are objective and don’t just give blind support. Why? Because constructive criticism will help players grow. You need a balance of views.

jane Says:

I agree with the view that a fan should take the good with the bad; I try to be balanced in my views about Djokovic no matter how enthusiastic I am about the guy, e.g.,admitting he has things on which to work, both in his play (net, service consistency, stamina) and his demeanor (not his confidence; I like that, but perhaps his nerves).

What may get fans backs up, however, is when charges are made against a favorite player without further back up or without balanced consideration of the charge, and/or when it’s obvious the person making the charge is decidedly biased.

bearbee_malaysia Says:

hohohohohoho!!!!!!!!i’m very excited n damn happy!!this is the first tournament i watched rafa LIVE in this yeaR!!!he won!i think,i enjoy the match between rafa n novak more than rafa against roger.novak is better than roger…he play exactly same with rafa,but the experience differentiate them..rafa is KING OF CLAY,no doubt!hopefully he will win at rolland garros!!!

zola Says:

I don’t understand your argument at all. Let’s say i am very wrong. Does it give nakama the privilage not to answer a question I asked at least 3 times? He knows that his argument will be void the minute he answers just to one of those questions.

I went back and looked at my comments. I have not accused him of being a Fed fan I( not that there is anything wrong about that!). All I want from him is some answers. yet every time he goes around the argument and throws the same thing in the middle. It is frustrating for me too.

If Tennisnakama is not using the injury timeout issue, why bring it up after Rafa’s match? Just notice the manner he has brought it up:

**I love Nadal but today I’m not proud of him. I saw the final twice today and am convinced that Nadal’s injury time-out was not fair. I paid an extra attention to his footwork before and after and draw the conclusion that his time-out was to affect Roger’s rhythm. Look ar Nadal. He knows. He looked not so happy in the ceremony. He looked guilty. Injury time-out rule should be reconsidered. Too many players abuse it!*****

what do you take from that post? He repeats it time and time again. Rafa had an exam and has to rest two days for a muscle tear. Did we want him not to take injury time out when he needed to? Why?

Why is he not proud of Rafa? what has he done wrong? of course the injury time out!

I explained to him that the timeout was at 5-2.***AFTER**** Rafa broke Roger.

Roger won the second set and had the momentum. there was no injury time out. How did he lose in the third set the? I aske these questions to prove to Tennisnakama that Rafa does not need deception to win Federer . he has done it 9 times prior.

Ryan Says:

To skorocel: There is a lot of difference between the djokovic of early 2007 and the djok of early 2008.He has been in 2 slam finals,1 slam under his belt.He has beefed up his serve and his court coverage has become incredible.The djoker of last year could not take a set of nadal.But the djoker of this year troubled him so much as to take a set 6-2 in the second.Even in the 3rd it coulda gone either way its not like nadal was pounding him in the 3rd.The first set again he had the lead.One of the reasons why I think djok troubles him more than fed is that djok’s powerful groundstrokes get to nadal whereas fed’s does not.Nadal cannot keep going to djok’s backhand all the time like he does to fed.Fed plays great tennis for a while and then starts missing.Thats the problem.That has always been the problem.You tell me……. fed could not beat a tired nadal on clay but djok had a better scoreline to display…..7-5 2-6 6-2 whereas for fed it was 7-5 6-7 6-3(that also when fed had the advantage)I’m a fed fan and fed is a great player ofcourse but nadal on clay is his achilles heel.But nadal also knows that some day fed will learn not to blow all these leads that he gets against him.Maybe thats why he looked a lil depressed in the ceremony.This could also be because of the partisan racist crowd.

Dr. Death Says:

Come on guys – coulda, woulda, shoulda…………

The score goes down in the record books with no ***. The current crop of gamesmanship is nothing compared to Jimmy Connors, Nastase, Johnny Mac, and the generation before them.

This is all part of the game, any game. Did you ever hear what football players say to each other on the line?

And someone made a comment above about Nadal’s fitness. Please! The shoes and socks one uses prevents blisters. It has nothing to do with fitness. Actually, one could soak one’s feet in vinegar. That might toughen up the skin a fair bit.

Any volunteers to experiment on?

Andrew Miller Says:

I cant underestimate Jose Higueras’ support to Roger Federer at the French.

Higueras is a proven commodity – he is up there with Darren Cahill in terms of the best coaches of the era. (Better than Brad Gilbert).

I think Federer, if he listens to Higueras, will win Roland Garros. If he doesnt, so be it!

Tejuz Says:

Grendel, Jane..

I never said Djok-Nadals match was any less entertaining and less competitive. It certainly was, because of the occassion. It wasnt just for a place in the final, but it was also for No 2 ranking and a place in Fed’s opposite half in Roland Garros.

Fed was much more effective againt Nadal’s serve compared to Djoker for sure. You should check the return points won in both those matches.

Yes, Both Fed and Djoker need to have good serving days to topple Nadal. And that is something which is comforting to both of them before the French Open .. because they are capable of that.

Fed can clearly up his first serve percentage.

jane Says:


Djoko against Rafa – 1st return points won – 42%
Fed against Rafa – 1st return points won – 33%

Thus – Djoko better returning 1st serves

Djoko against Rafa – 2nd return points won – 50%
Fed against Rafa – 2nd return points won – 66%

Thus – Fed better returning second serves

Djoko – total return points won against Rafa – 44%
Fed – total return points won against Rafa – 41%

Thus – Djoko won more return points overall.

Which means the following statement of yours, statistically speaking anyhow, is untrue: “Fed was much more effective againt Nadal’s serve compared to Djoker for sure.”

I also think it’s telling that Djoko had 19 break point chances versus only 7 for Roger. Had Djoko been more able to convert on his chances, well, it’s elementary – he would’ve won.

Daniel Says:


You know where can I find match statistics of the final, and other old matcjes too? I can’t find it in ATP nor the Hamubrgo site, which is one of the worst ever. I wanto to check the serve percentages of both too. Thanks in advance!

jane Says:

Hi Daniel,

Go to the ATP website, then click on a player in the rankings. I’m guessing you’ll want to check up on Roger maybe? ;-)

Once you get to the player’s page, click on “playing activity” under “more info” in the margins, from there you’ll see all of the matches your guy has played this year, and you can get stats from all of those matches. You can do this for previous years, and narrow to specific tournaments too, but don’t get too carried away!

naresh Says:

i totally agrre with u Jane, Djoko definitely played better than Fed against Rafa. i saw both the matches and did’nt need to check out statistics to know that. I also thought that Rafa was playing much better against Djoko than in his match with Fed, which Rafa himself admitted after his match with Fed.

As Ryan pointed out, the Djoko double handed back hand, works much more consistently than Fed’s single handed one, cause it has a lot more power & control to it. Fed routinely mis-hit his backhand in the course of the match, which endedup not just as U errors, but also dropping the balls short for Nadal to obliterate the ball with his Forehand. Fed did the same thing against Stepanek in Rome, on crucial points that too !

Having said that, his forehand was also not that effective against Nadal, for some reason. not only did he make a few errors, but he was’nt able to hit winners..that might have something to do with Nadal being able to cahse every ball from here to timbuktu !!

Fed has admitted that he needs to get more 1st serves if he has to win cause Nadal is one of he best return of serve players !

grendel Says:

Zola: “I have not accused him of being a Fed fan” – well, you can understand why he thought you did with your comment:”Federer lost because Rafa plays his best on clay and he is consistent. Bringing up excuses won’t help federer”. And :”you think making excuses will help Federer. go ahead.” These are not relevant things to say to someone who considers himself a Nadal fan. Furthermore, Tennisnakama, insofar as one can understand his somewhat fractured English, seemed to be much more concerned about making a general point abouit injury timeouts, and I think he conflated this with the Nadal issue. Certainly it is obvious that he is not in the least bit interested in Fed/Nadal rivalry – and this in itself is sufficiently unusual to create misunderstanding.

Also, you are extremely aggressive and insulting to him, I imagine he was both outraged and bewildered. From his Japanese perspective – and cultural backgrounds matter – your hostility is not only unintelligible, but could only be justified by his having personally insulted you. of course, in a sense he has, I doubt if he can even begin to understand how central Nadal is to your life. Truly, you both have such different concepts of “fandom” it’s not surprising you refuse to acknowledge him. In these circumstances, deeply offended (just as you are), he is certainly going to ignore your urgent demands for clarification. Perhaps also,(but here I really am ploughing into unknown waters) he changed his mind – but wasn’t about to concede that to you! That’s human nature, my friend. Sometimes we’ll admit things, but rarely if we are harassed, especially if the offence is seen as unprovoked.

grendel Says:

Tejuz, one of the things that struck me about Djokovic’s returning of Nadal’s serve was how aggressive it was, calculatedly so too. By that, I mean he was taking a risk – and it worked pretty well. Federer always seems to have had trouble with Nadal’s serve – he sems to find fast serves easier to handle. Be interesting to see if he changes his approach. It’s not generally his way to attack the serve – do you agree? He seems to like to ease into the game, probably not a good idea with someone like Nadal. Kind of handingn over the iniative.

Tejuz Says:

well i dont agree.. In the past, Fed was content in just blocking Nadal’s serves back in play.. but his last two matches against Nadal at Monte Carlo and Hamburg.. he was attacking the serves (both 1st and second) giving him more chances.. and in fact he did manage to break Nadal atleast 4 times in each of those matches. He never was able to do that before.. infact he had lots of missed oppurtunities on Nadal’s serves last year. For this reason.. i think Fed has amuch better return game than Djoker this tournament. Also about Djoker’s back hand to Fed’s… i guess Fed had more back hand winners than Djoker in the whole match.. and his winners to UFE ratio was much superior to that of Djoker.

The only cause of concern in this match was to hold his own service game when he was laeading… and that holds true for Djoker as well.

But i am confident if either of them have a good serving day .. they could derail Nadal…especially Federer.

jane Says:

I agree about Djoko’s aggressive approach to returns, not only against Nadal. I’ve said in the past how fantastic Djoko returned at the AO as well, against both Roger and Tsonga – even though a lot of people were talking about his serve then. His return game seems to be getting better actually. His service game is good too, but if he could be a little more consistent with first serves and hit a few more aces, then he’d really be cruising. Add to that a powerful ground game, an improving net game and his incessant ambition and Djoko is certainly formidable. He needs to sort out the stamina, anxiety, and breathing issues too. But I suspect he will.

jane Says:

In the final against Rafa Fed mixed up his returns a lot, but he did better when he was aggressive right off the return. For example, Nadal serving 4:2 in final set: Fed goes up love 30 after two deep returns, then he hits a weak forehand return short and Rafa is all over it. 15:30. Next, Roger hit a backhand crosscourt, directly back to Rafa. Rafa dictates again. 30 all. Next, another crosscourt backhand return, almost directly to Rafa. 40:30. Next, Fed steps around the backhand and hits an aggressive forehand return to the corner and now it’s deuce.

I won’t go on, but you can see the pattern. The aggressive returns yielded better results in this game. I’d have to rewatch the whole match to determine if that’s a consistent factor in this match.

zola Says:

Rusedski on RG:

and Davenport is out of RG for personal reasons:

First of all, I can say that I am a Federer fan, but I am very disappointed at him, because he said so and so, or did so and so and open a can of worms here. Does that make me a Federer fan?

Similarly Tennisnakama comes here after Nadal/s win and says he is disappointed about Rafa for the injury time out, implying that the outcome of that match was affected by Rafa’s injury time out.

I asked him two questions to show that it was not the case and he never answered.

In my opinion Federer lost that match for technical reasons, not because of the injury time out.

I have no hostility towards him or you or anyone else. You need excuses to crucify me here, go ahead. Today is Tennisnakama tomorrow someone else. you will find an excuse anyway.

zola Says:

how will that aggressive return work on different surfaces? will Fed or Djoko be able to return more or less efficiently in RG? I am hoping for the fast surface and the high bounce to help RAfa.

Skorocel Says:

To Ryan:

Did Nadal really looked so “depressed” after the match? :) You know, I could only see the match itself, not the ceremony…

P.S. Btw, which “partisan racist crowd” are you speaking about? I didn’t notice any abnormalities…

jane Says:


That’s an excellent question because Rafa’s serves may be tougher to handle at RG, in particular for Roger’s one-handed backhand return.

We all know how amazingly well Rafa did in last year’s final at staving off break points – he saved 16 of 17 break point chances!! That’s 94%. Roger won only 33% total return points (30% 1st serve; 45% 2nd serve). Djoko’s match stats were similar to Feds, the difference being that Roger’s were over 4 sets and Djoko’s only 3 sets. But while many people say Djoko didn’t trouble Rafa last year, they forget that the first two sets (7:5, 6:4) were very close, only one break being the factor. Should they meet up this year, Djoko has a better shot. I am hoping if they meet it’s in the final.

zola Says:

hey Shorocel,

was it you that posted the points given to the tennis players in the Olympics?

Can you post those again? Thanks.

zola Says:

typo again. :)

Skorocel, sorry to mis-type your name!

zola Says:

thanks. What about Djoko’s serve in RG compared to Hamburg?
In Hamburg he did not have any ACE’s. I think the slow surface might have helped RAfa there. What do you think about RG?

Do the players change their serve according to the surface?

jane Says:

Another good question; I don’t know, but I do think Djoko’s serve is not as effective on clay as on hardcourts. He had no aces AND only a 61% first serve percentage vs. Rafa at Hamburg. He’ll need to hope for a top-rate service day if he’s to beat Rafa at RG.

As to whether or not they change their serves for the service, I don’t know. Maybe add more spin?

jane Says:

service should be surface – some sort of weird pun glitch going on in my head, I guess.

Daniel Says:

First of all, thanks again Jane!

Regarding serves, Fed is much more agressive returning Nadal’s serve now and almost all the games he break he had good deep returns. One time Nadal even miss a first shot in his foot, what doesn’t happen all the time! And Fed made some return winners too, which we don’t see in RG.

Djoko also has a tremendous return, very similar to Nalbandian, and that gives Nadal trouble.

The mistake they both made was not to hold serve, but if we look at both matchs almost all the games the one who was returning made at least 30-something. I thing no game was 40-0 or 0-40 and break. All the points count, and that’s where Nadal makes the difference. He knows that he won’t lost a returning game 40-0, he puts pressure all the time, every point.

These last two matches looked like WTA matches, very tense amd with a lot of breaks!:)

Shital Green Says:

Jane and Zola,
I am total illiterate on clay. The couple of instances I tried, I felt right away the same serve on hard court is not going produce the same result on clay, which should be obvious to any one. I needed to adjust, but that does not happen in one day. It may work for some players with the same serve, though. I don’t know. But if you are playing against the master of clay court like Rafa, you may have to learn to produce different kind(s), specifically designed for clay. It is always relative to the opponent’s returnability because one needs to quickly figure out the opponent’s weakness and be able to exploit it. Djoko largely sticks with the same, albeit uses more force, thus not quite effective. He needs to devise some clay serves, equip himself with variety and try them and see which ones are most effective against a particular player. Also, he needs to suppress or dissimulate any indication of direction that could be perceived by his opponent in advance.

Dr. Death Says:

Literacy or lack of it will not help on clay. It is placement, placement, placement. It has been a long while since I have seen a first class broadcast, but occasionally at the majors etc., they will show you the clusters of where a player hits the serve. Federer as an example is not even close to Roddick’s speed, but in ’07 his placements were outstanding.

A little too much is being made about the speed of different clay surfaces. Clay is almost living. Humidity, dryness, how recently the court has been rolled will all affect the bounce slightly.

Still the best surface for the over 30 crowd!

zola Says:

I have never played on clay and at my level, it really doesn’t matter where I serve!( It won’t be an effective serve anywhere!)

but with the bounce being different on clay and even being dependent on many other factors, I , too feel that serving on clay has to be different.

That’s wahy I was curious to see how Roddick would do on clay. He still had lots of aces in Rome.

I think Rafa’s serve is more efficient on clay. Also about disguise, Rafa once indicated that one difficulty with Fed’s serve is that he has the same motion for every serve so it is very hard to read. yet, in Hamburg Rafa was able to return Fed’s serve.

Maybe that’s what happenes. Maybe the slow start of Rafa and falling back is partially because Rafa can’t return and then starts to read the serves ( both Fed and Djoko) after a while.

grendel Says:

Zola: “First of all, I can say that I am a Federer fan, but I am very disappointed at him, because he said so and so, or did so and so and open a can of worms here. Does that make me a Federer fan?”

It might do – why not? I don’t see things in black and white, but also, there are fans and fans. Some are very, very dedicated, like you; others just like the player. Silly to have the same word to cover two such different types – but there you are, that’s language for you.

Incidentally, I certainly agree with you that Federer deserved to lose the match, that Nadal deserved to win – had nothing to do with the timeout. That wasn’t at all the point I was trying to make.

grendel Says:

“I think Rafa’s serve is more efficient on clay”. Zola, you may be interested to know (if you don’t already) that when Nadal beat Agassi in Agassi’s last match at Wimbledon, Agassi said afterwards he couldn’t figure out Nadal’s serve at all. And without having the stats to hand, my impression was that Federer had huge difficulty with Nadal’s serve on the grass – he rarely seemed able to attack it. Just blocking Roddick’s serve, on the other hand, can occasionally create winners. There must be huge spin on the serve, I assume, to induce such concern. A very deceptive serve, I’d call it – can look innocuous, but is anything but. He also can serve faster than Federer, who rarely goes above 125 m.p.h. – but he seems to hold that one in reserve. For surprise effect, or saving himself?

zola Says:

I don’t say a fan can’t be critical. What I meant was that coming here after a match, implying that Rafa used the time out unjustly to manipulate the match, is not something you expect from a fan. So, I wrote to him that I did not think he was truthful in saying that. to me, he just said that to be able to throw that argument in.

I get your point about the level of the discussion and I will try to rememebr that. I think we can talk a lot about the game and never have a heated discussion. But when it goes to that level of targeting a player’s integrity by throwing false accusions, the discussion can get more heated.

zola Says:


thanks about the note on Rafa’s serve on grass. His placement is very good but I am not sure about the pace. I think this year he is getting a bit better. I so wish for him to be able to serve like Federer or Sampras, 4 serves and game!

***He also can serve faster than Federer, who rarely goes above 125 m.p.h. – but he seems to hold that one in reserve. For surprise effect, or saving himself?***

you think so? I admire Federer’s serve so much. He served very well in Wimbledon, but later in MAdrid and Paris, he was phenomenal. I don’t know if Rafa can serve over 125! isn’t his mostly below 120 mph? I don’t know understandg is that he changes the placement on crucial moments.

grendel Says:

Yes, but every now and then he throws in one at 130 or so. It’s quite a surprise!

zola Says:

I should start following the speed from now on. I wish they put that in the Stats. like”highest serve speed” or something like that….

I guess RAfa does that because he doesn’t have a huge serve. To survive, he has to change a few things and keep the other guy guessing. I just looked at Hamburg stats. Fed had 7 aces and no double faults to Rafa’s 3 aces and 3 double faults. also Rafa’s second serve percentage was pretty low .33% against Fed and 50% against Djoko. that’s maybe something he can work on.

Von Says:


One very important point you need to remember — stats don’t give the true picture. They’re just hard, cold figures, and does not state how the shot was placed/executed, the amount of top spin, and in the case of the serve, was the server serving to the backhand, forehand, out wide, or to the body. In Nadals’ service pattern, he mixes things up, and in so doing, the mph per serve becomes irrelevant. Have you not seen stats where the loser has more winners than the winner, and 12 aces, etc.? However, he still lost — end result execution, and as Dr. Death stated, placement, placement, placement.

Some play percentage tennis, again, the stats do not reflect that type of execution/play. Hnece, instead of concentrating on Nadal’s serve mph, look at his placement and tactic and you’ll realize that the stats just show a smidgen of what actually transpired in the match.

Do you know whether Nadal asked for a late start at the FO regarding his torn calf muscle? If he did, then he should have some additional time to recuperate. Don’t worry, be happy! :) Your guy’s just going to be fine — he’s fine, but in a different sense — get it!! :)

zola Says:

thanks a lot.:)
I know Rafa has an effective serve because of the variety and the placement. The fact that he can come up with aces against Djoko and Federer in crucial times tells a lot. But on grass and on hard courts I would like to see him earn cheap points by serving harder. I know that he has increased the pace lately, but I don’t know by what percentage. I know stats and nymbers don’t show everything. but I would like to see the highest serve speed they came up with in a match.

According to a Spanish newspaper, Rafa has a micro tear in his hamstring. He was given 2 days of absolute rest, plus shock treatments and anti-inflammatory. He has to go back to practice gradually. So a late start will be great. Someone wrote that he has requested for a late start in RG.

He is doing great. Defeating Djoko and Fed in HAmburg gave me lots of confidence, but honestly, the Rome experience after Barcelona jubilation, is still in my mind. I am just hoping for RAfa to assrive at RG 100% . No injuries please!

I hope Roddick is doing well too. he will be all rested and fresh and hopefully injury-free for Wimbledon and can be a great threat on grass.

zola Says:

***he’s fine, but in a different sense — get it!!***

do I sense some admiration for Rafa here? lol! . :)

Von Says:


“do I sense some admiration for Rafa here? lol!.”

I have an eye for beauty — handsome. I have ‘very ‘fine’ son too. Drop dead gorgeous like his mom. Get it!! Now my inflated head’s too big for my body — some helium up there. Get it!!LOL. :)

Glenn Says:

I just watched a replay of the FO ’06 Final between Federer and Nadal on Tennis Channel. I noticed Federer’s returns as the match progressed were almost always short. Maybe it’s the spin Nadal consistently places on the ball? Maybe it’s the heat?

I like Tennis bullies:
Didn’t see Federer throw up the #1 sign any time during the ’06 match. You must be thinking of a very young Federer. Federer is a champion now, and he acts like it.

Del Torri Says:

I posted this under a different thread, but it seems to have evaded discussion.

I’m obviously a new poster here (having been a ‘lurker’ for a month or so); I feel compelled to point out something I recently read about a *certain* player, having read a *certain* post on this blog!

This is addressed to Glenn, in response to some remarks you made about Mardy Fish, in Sean Randall’s blog “Djokovic out for Number Two Ranking…”:

Glenn says,
“Mardy Fish aside (BTW, who WOULDN’T be respectful to such a nice guy like Mardy Fish!)”

“The only ones I can think of right now who fit the bill of “heroes” are Nadal, Wawrinka, Bolleli, Fish, Kohlschreiber, Blake and Federer”

I’d now like to draw your attention to a post made in the forum “Kings of Clay” (

NF says:
“At Madrid last year, he said ‘I’m gonna beat his f*ckin ass’ after his opponent PHM took a lengthy injury timeout, and at the end of that match he referred to him as a ‘f*ckin shitty frenchie’. I have to admit that I found the whole sage hilarious to watch, but still that was deplorable conduct from Fish.
Against Nieminen at the Aussie Open this year, he incessantly cussed and swore following a code violation from the umpire.
At Miami 2004, during his defeat to Benneteau he shouted to his supporters ‘I cannot lose to the worst player in the draw’, and after the match he said to Benneteau at the net ‘this is the last time you’ll beat me’, and not in a jovial manner.
The guy has frequently insulted fans who have the sheer cheek to root for his opponent, and has used the f-word to address fans who are seeking his autograph at the end of matches.
If he regularly went deep at the big and televised events, he would be far more notorious than he is currently is.” [Source: ]

Now I have nothing against Fish, and obviously this is only one poster’s opinion, but it definitely casts a shadow of doubt over his character. Having read the above extract a few days ago and your comments, Glenn, just a few minutes ago, I just thought that it would make an interesting read, to say the least!

Tejuz Says:

i think conversion on second serve is crucial on any court. If a player has less than 50% win ratio on his second serve, its a cause for concern..And more often than not the crucial points do go to second serves.

Regarding Djoker-Nadal finals.. Djoker has go thru Federer first before he can reach Nadal.. and i dont think Fed would find Djoker’s game too much of a problem compared to Nadal. So i guess it will again be a Fed-Nadal.. with Fed having a 33% chance of winning it. Another 33% he might choke on big points and 33% Nadal out hits Fed.

zola Says:


***I have an eye for beauty — handsome. I have ‘very ‘fine’ son too. Drop dead gorgeous like his mom. ***

More reasons to like you! .:). Is he into tennis?

Hs Rafa’s game changed compared to 06? what about Fed? can you compare Fed’s game in FO 06 and Monte Carlo 08?


.. Djoker has go thru Federer first before he can reach Nadal.. ****

this Rafa fan certainly hopes so. The draw is tomorrow and I am crossing my fingers for Djoko, Nalbandian , Ferrer, Tsonga and Davydenko to end up in Fed’s half! .:)

naresh Says:

what about Hewitt.. is he taking part in FO ?

I think Djoko’s the best bet for taking out Nadal this year, ( Fed needs to figure out wether he can hit his back hand deep enough after the 2nd set ) ! Djoko’s the newest threat and if he can mixup his groundies along with a better 1st serve % and sieze any opportunity to come to the net, he’ll save energy and that way he might be able to last more than 3 sets..or maybe it will not go more than that and he’ll win..( who am i kidding !)

The FO is Rafa’s tournament and it’s gonna take next to a miracle to dethrone the’s hoping for one !

zola Says:

Hewitt will be in FO, but he has a hip injury. I did not see him in any other clay tournament aso perhaps his prep is not as good as he wants.

Come on! don’t ask for miracles against Rafa! ask for one that let him 4-peat his win here and break a record!

Skorocel Says:

To Zola:

Huh, it took me some time to finally find that Olympic points breakdown, but anyway:

Gold Medal – 400
Silver Medal – 280
Bronze Medal – 205
Loser 3rd/4th – 155
Quarterfinals – 100
Round of 16 – 50
Round of 32 – 25
1st Round – 1

Note: those are only Entry points. About the Race points breakdown, I have no clue :(

P.S. I accept your apologies re: the misspelling of my name – no problems there…

P.P.S. Re: that serve speed, I guess they only show it on Slams, and this only on the official website of the given tournament.

Voicemale1 Says:

It’s worth remembering that Hamburg is by far the slowest of the clay courts that lead to the French Open. The court’s heavier, and the cooler weather keeps the ball low – that’s why Federer’s won that tournament 4 times. The ball bounces off that court more like it does on grass, only heavier. With that in mind, the advantages were clearly with both Federer & Djokovic against Nadal there, since Nadal’s Fearsome Forehand wasn’t exploding off the court and bouncing up as high anywhere near as much as it will at Roland Garros – which plays much faster, a lot more like Rome & Monte Carlo. Nadal beating both of them IN HAMBURG might be his biggest accomplishment this year.

Agree with Stich to this extent, Djokovic has a better chance against Nadal than Federer, since Federer choked against Nadal in both Monte Carlo & Hamburg this year. But “better” is a relative term here. Djokovic has played both Federer & Nadal during this clay season and lost both matches. Federer actually matches up better with Djokovic, and should THEY meet in the Semis, that’s the match that could be the Hell-for-Leather one. Two huge hurdles for Djokovic to win the French: he’ll likely have to beat BOTH of them if he wants to win this, and it’s tough enough to beat one of them on clay – but both of them over Best of 5 Sets is, well, let’s just say that’s a big ask; and Djokovic has some suspect stamina issues. He had favorable conditions to him in Hamburg, not only with Nadal’s forehand working at only 70% effectiveness with the slow court, but also the lack of a draining heat – the air was so cool because of the rain & dampness that you could see the steam rising off Nadal’s body every time he served. Yet, Djokovic was patently running low on energy by the Business End of the 3rd Set against Nadal, with many of his shots looking clearly fatigued by that point.

Nadal confessed that at last year’s French Open he played the whole tournament (an a lot of the clay season too) with his left foot basically anesthetized. So even a semi-healthy Nadal this year at the French Open, with the faster courts and Best of 5 format is likely to prove a winning formula – again.

Skorocel Says:

To Glenn:

As you may have noticed, Fed was totally helpless when returning Nadal’s serve in the ad court in that FO2006 final (especially in its later stages). In 99 % of the cases, all Nadal had to do was to hit it wide to Fed’s backhand (as usual, of course), and the Swiss would almost always make an error out of it or hit a very defensive (understand: short) return. Just for your information, I too have reviewed that match a couple of times on tape, and came up with around 15-20 mistakes just off this particuar shot… In my opinion, mastering this stroke is without any doubt one of the keys for Fed if he wants to finally beat Nadal when it matters the most (i.e. in Paris), and the Swiss indeed worked on it a bit in these last 2 years. Anyway, we’ll see within 2 weeks…

As for that heat, it certainly could’ve been a factor (I guess Fed indeed mentioned it after the match), but I still feel most of these mistakes can be attributed to the fact that Fed was simply “fed up” with all those high balls to his backhand, and therefore didn’t even try to change something (I guess Wilander mentioned this too in that famous “no balls interview”)…

zola Says:

thanks a bunch for the ranking points. I think race is 1/5 of the ranking points.

I hope they finish the matches in a week or so and do not drag it for the whope two weeks.

great analysis. I too, think Rafa’s win over Djoko and Federer in Hamburg is worth more than just the title. Both had advantages over Rafa and Rafa had a much tougher draw than both of them. Such a win will give Rafa lots of confidence and will be demoralizing for Fed and Djoko. Rafa has so many weapons that even at less than 100% he can beat them. I am just hoping for Rafa to be healthy in RG. I really don’t want a bizzare injury /accident or whatever like Rome.

I really wish Djoko and fed to end up in the same half. That will be great for Rafa. He has played Djoko for the past two/three years . Now it is Fed’s turn to have him.

zola Says:

***(I guess Wilander mentioned this too in that famous “no balls interview”)…***

yes, but have you seen his interview this year? he is trying to make up for that “not very pleasent” remark. I don’t think him and fed will be best friends!

Skorocel Says:

To Dr. Death:

Absolutely agree with you re: that senseless talking about the speed of each and every clay-court (and other) surface… I mean, clay is a clay, hard-court is a hard-court, isn’t it? 2 years ago, everyone was talking that the best chance for Fed to beat Rafa on clay is on a RG/Rome/MC type of clay, simply because he can allegedly hit more winners on it, as it is (once again, allegedly) “quicker” – and will be even more on a sunny, hot day. Last year, however, lots of those “experts” suddenly came up with statements that for Fed to beat Rafa on clay, he has to play on a rainy, cloudy, cold day, where the clay plays extremely slow (like that one which is “allegedly” in Hamburg). Surely, it may negate that wicked spin from Nadal’s shots a bit, but still, the conventional wisdom would tell you that, the slower the surface, the more chances are there for Rafa to win the match, so I just can’t understand what’s the fuss?

Everyone says the biggest chances for Rafa to win a non-clay slam are at the AO (where the local hard-court “allegedly” plays quite slow), but what’s the truth? The guy didn’t even reach a final (despite having literally a dream draw this year), yet he’s already twice a runner-up at SW19 (where the surface should “allegedly” be the quickest)… Really, this endless chatting about this and that court’s surface is slowly but surely getting on my nerves… It seems to me that some people would go as far as to compare the bricks which the given clay-court has been made of :)

Skorocel Says:

Zola said:

“I really wish Djoko and fed to end up in the same half.”

Well, as long as your man plays Nalby, I wouldn’t mind :) Boy, would I love to see that match to happen!

P.S. Is Mats really trying to make amends? :) To tell you the truth, I still have that interview on my hard disk (the video has cca 20 minutes), and, despite being a Fed fan, I must say I really liked some of his views! I guess the guy really must’ve had a couple of drinks in him when doing that interview :) He was simply lovely :)

zola Says:


***Well, as long as your man plays Nalby***


He is going to end up in Fed’s half too. Along with Ferrer, Tsonga and Davydenko!

About surfaces, I understand you can’t formulate one’s game by the surface. I wanted to know initially how each of these would affect the serves ( from Rafa and Fed ). Rafa’s wins in HAmburg showed that if he is healthy, slow/fast would not matter because he can come up with winning strategies on any clay surface.

Daniel Says:

Skorocel, you took the words out of me.

I can’t believe that we are trough another clay season and Nalbandian and Nadal won’t have a clay match. In the last two years Nalby was on Fed side. I hope this year he will be on Nadal’s, in the quarters. We got see this match!

Nalbanidan usually do well at RG, he just miss that win in the final stages to boost his confidence.

Btw, regarding Nadal getting easyer draws, this will always happen, because he is more vulnerable to a lot of players in tour, on the contrary, Fed has those HxH, and his matches always take longer time, so Fed will always have less court time too.

Voicemale1 Says:

To Skorocel:

The differences in the clay courts are most often extolled by THE PLAYERS. So if you’ve got more insight than they do, I would love to hear about it. After all, they only play on these courts year after year :)

Agassi, Sampras,, said throughout their careers there were plenty of differences from court to court no matter what the surface. Those differences can make a world of difference to outcomes. Indian Wells and Cincinnati are hard court tournaments. But go ask tour players if those two surfaces are the same. They’ll all tell you – they aren’t. Cincinnati is a much faster surface.

ChrisM Says:

“As to whether or not they change their serves for the service, I don’t know. Maybe add more spin?”

Can’t speak to each player’s strategy, but I know that Patrick Rafter used to string his racquet at greatly different tensions depending on the surface.

Skorocel Says:

To Voicemale:

You’re perfectly right that the players should (well, not should, but do) know better which court plays slower/quicker than us – “couch sports enthusiasts”, but I really can’t understand all that unnecessary fuss about it… Has Rafa (or Roger himself) ever mentioned/admitted that Roger won that Hamburg 2007 final because of the local court being allegedly “slower” than the other clay-MS courts? Of course not! They both knew the conditions were the same for both of them, and that’s about it! But then again, if you think Fed has a better chance on the “slow”, Hamburg-type of clay (which may or may not eliminate those high Nadal’s topspins a bit), then how the hell can Fed have a better chance to beat him there, when the rallies on such a type of clay last EVEN LONGER? I’m sorry, but I just can’t understand this logic…

The truth is, the BEST match which Fed’s ever played vs Rafa on clay (actually, maybe the best match which Fed’s EVER played on clay thus far) certainly WASN’T that Hamburg 2007 final (which, of course, still counts as Fed’s lone win against the Spaniard on the dirt), but the Rome final one year before… Yes, the Rome 2006 final! A match, which was played on (allegedly) the “quicker” type of clay – and in a best of 5 sets format, no less… On that day, it was ENTIRELY Roger who had the outcome of the match in his hands, playing exactly how one should play Nadal on clay virtually throughout the ENTIRE match. Rafa could do nothing but to play safe in those 2 matchpoints, but we all know what happened… But well, that’s another story…

Voicemale1 Says:

To Skorocel:

*No one made a “fuss’ about it – just mentioned it as the fact it is.

*Federer didn’t say he beat Nadal there in 2007 because of the court surface, per se; Federer said he won that match because Nadal was “jaded” (Fed’s word) from the streak pressure, But Federer HAS said that HE does well in Hamburg because of the fact the ball bounces lower than in the other clay tournaments. He’s even said that about RG, where you have to adjust to the weather, because when the air is cooler & more moist, the ball doesn’t bounce as high and it gets heavier to hit. And cool, moist air is exactly what you get in Hamburg in May.

*If you can’t understand how Federer is helped by Nadal’s uber-topspin being negated by a slower court, then I’m not sure you understand why Nadal owns Federer on clay. It’s not simply the length of the rallies that beats Federer when he plays Nadal – it’s Nadal’s Forehand exploding off the clay forcing Federer to hit his single-handed backhand from up around his ears instead of around his waist. THATS what a fast clay court does for Nadal – he gets the Superball effect from faster clay. If you don’t understand this dynamic then it’s no mystery why the logic escapes you. That’s why Federer’s backhand is rendered useless against Nadal on clay – it gives up a lot of errors & doesn’t hurt Nadal. So, Federer then tries to overcompensate by running around to hit forehands – but he’s best hitting his forehand from an offensive position, not the defensive position running around the backhand tends to give you. As a result, he ends up making score of errors of the forehand side too because of the pressure to keep hititng winners from essentially one shot. That pressure mounts further when Nadal proves he can go several games without an unforced error.

And their match in Rome was probably the begining of what we now see Federer do today against Nadal on clay. The Rome 2006 match was the first time The Federer Choke came into prominence in their clay court matches. Nadal fought his way back from 0-3 down in the 5th Set that day AND from 2-4 down in that Final Set tiebreak. This of course after Federer blew 2 Match Points in the 5th Set with his forehand, hitting errors that were out by feet instead of inches when he served for it at 6-5, 40-15. So, aside from beating a “jaded” Nadal in Hamburg last year, Federer has choked against Nadal in every other match they’ve played on clay since Rome 06 for the simple reason that, after 4 years of matches together, he has no answer to Nadal’s high-kicking forehand into his single handed backhand.

jane Says:

Zola- wouldn’t you rather that Rafa win the title by fighting through some challenges? The way you describe the ideal Rafa draw, no one who can even challenge him will be on his half of the draw. But aybe you’re being facetious / joking?

Skorocel- “Fed was simply “fed up” with all those high balls to his backhand” – good pun.

As to the surface discussion, I liked the way Dr. D. described clay as “living” because obviously the climate affects the stuff and the way it plays.

I also think Voicemale’s right about the fact that it’s the players themselves who initiate the surface discussions through their own comments – I posted a link earlier (in this thread I think) about Muster and Bruguera’s comments on Hamburg vs. RG and they relate the surfaces directly to the Fed and Rafa’s games based on *their own experiences* of playing at these tournaments.

You’re right Skorocel that after a while stats and/or surface discussions are maybe just tennis-babel.

Voicemale1 Says:

Sorry..when Nadal served for it an was down 15-40.

zola Says:

**wouldn’t you rather that Rafa win the title by fighting through some challenges? The way you describe the ideal Rafa draw, no one who can even challenge him will be on his half of the draw. But aybe you’re being facetious / joking?***

I have to say ( shamefully!) no!
I know Rafa can beat them on clay. I want him to be injury-free and fresh to win the Wimbledon title as well!

**hangs head in shame!*** . :)

Von Says:


“As a result, he ends up making score of errors of the forehand side too because of the pressure to keep hititng winners from essentially one shot. That pressure mounts further when Nadal proves he can go several games without an unforced error.”

I’ve mentioned this after the Hamburg match — to summarize this — when Federer is in a tense situation his nervousness is manifested into handful of errors per game from the forehand. Ergo, it’s not that the forehand is mistiming, as was, or has been argued previously, it’s plian and simple, Federer’s nerves come into play. Federer’s mental toughness has been praised from all quarters, but as we’ve all seen that as the competition becomes stronger, vis-a-vis, from Nadal and Djokovic, and if I might add, the other players, who’ve embellished their games, Federer’s nervousness is blatant. Hence, it can be argued that Fed is mentally tough with weak competition, but displays mental weakness/insecurity with tough competition.



Thankfully, I’m the only tennis freak in the family. My son is into money (economics) and bookish, but his main squeeze is only ONE girl. I’m thankful for small mercies. :)

jane Says:


You’re too funny! It’d be nice to see Rafa do what Borg did, I admit. But I wouldn’t mind seeing him fight along the way. Maybe against Djoko in the finals ;-)

No need to hang your head, b.t.w. – you just want the best for Nadal – no shame in that.

sensationalsafin Says:

Idk why Federer’s mental toughness is so praised because he really isn’t that mentally tough. You can’t say he’s tough against weak players because that doesn’t make a lot of sense. He wins when he’s supposed to win. A person’s mental toughness is determined when he’s tested and Federer has failed countless times when he was tested. He’s had good matches. He hung through Djokovic’s choking at the US Open. And when he’s played well above his opponent he’s managed to come through even when down (Roddick at Wimbledon, Agassi at the US Open). It’s hard to generalize Federer because he has won some tough matches (last year’s Wimbledon final). Even against Baghdatis at the 06 AO he had to dig deep to reach a high level. But Nadal is obviously tougher in the mental department. I think Djokovic might be, too.

Von Says:


“You can’t say he’s tough against weak players because that doesn’t make a lot of sense. He wins when he’s supposed to win. A person’s mental toughness is determined when he’s tested and Federer has failed countless times when he was tested.”

You’re answering your questions here. I don’t understand what you mean by “he wins when he’s supposed to win.” You’re right that a person’s mental toughness is determined when he’s tested, and that Federer has failed innumerable times. Ergo, he’s not that mentally tough with tough competition. I’ll again reiterate, that with easier competition he wins, BUT, in the difficult matches with the more mentally tough players, he becomes extremely vulnerable, and makes tons of errors, and struggles. It will be locker room knowledge that at the present time, a player needs to really take it to Federer, and if they are patient, hello, surprise, surprise, he’ll crumble. If there were 4 more mentally tough players, apart from Nadal during 05-06, we would have seen dramatically different results in the wins department for Fed.

zola Says:

the way you describe your son, I need to make a trip to NY!

mine is just a bit younger right now! no girls yet!

*** I’ll again reiterate, that with easier competition he wins, BUT, in the difficult matches with the more mentally tough players, he becomes extremely vulnerable, and makes tons of errors, and struggles. ***

I agree that Fed can struggle whe players are aggressive and tough. Still, in Fed can be evry tough too, because he knows he can win. Against Tipsy in AO and against Hidalgo in MC. Against Rafa on clay or Nalby on hard ( when NAlby actually plays!), there comes a time that he knows he can’t win and then things change.

I agree completely. Rafa’s topspin forehand to fed’s backhans is what causes all those errors. On top of that the bounce is not always the same, so Fed has to be very focused on his backhand for 5 sets and in the meantime he has to play them above his shoulder. It is very very diffucult for 5 sets. That’s why Fed tries to finish the points earlier by coming to the net, but then Rafa can pass him.

Well, I hope this all happens again in RG. I don’t want any surprises like Rome this year or Hamburg last year!

It was the same for Madrid 06. I thought Rafa would win and he was out in QF. So I need to be patient. One match at a time!

you are just lovely! let’s hope Djoko gets into Fed’s half ( with nalby) and then we can speculate about the final!

*head up again!*

Von Says:


You’ll be going around and around in New york — I no longer live in the Big Apple. Enjoy your son now — they turn into Dr. Jekyl and Mr, Hyde around 13, but there’s hope, they again change around 21.

“That’s why Fed tries to finish the points earlier by coming to the net, but then Rafa can pass him.”

Again, to reiterate my post after Hamburg, Fed tried doing this, and what did Rafa do, he passed him ever so sweetly by threading the needle, down the line or over his head. He actually dared Fed to come to the net again. The guy’s got chutzpah galore! :) Rafa is young and with youth there’s a certain amount of fearlessness — akin to children in the water. It comes with the territory. Djoko has some of that fearlessness, but unfortunately for Djoko, he’s not that physically strong, and that affects his game. So sad, but hopefully, he can work on building up his physical strength and immune system.

Last evening I watched the ’06 RG finals for the umpteenth time, and Fed’s nervousness was evident again, in the 3rd and 4th sets, by the forehand errors. I’ve learnt to watch him closely when he begins to make the forehand errors and his facial expression changes, also, he bites down on his lower lip hard when serving.

“So I need to be patient. One match at a time!”

That’s the only way to survive the anxiety attacks. Is the draw out yet, or is it tomorrow? Why did my little guy have to be injured, and why did that big lug nut have to experience so many problems this year? I have to borrow another fave.

zola Says:

OK, no trip to Big apple!
I have to yet buy the RG finals. MAybe this year. I usually don’t watch the matches again. The only one I watched was Rome 06 final and that was just phenomenal. Like you, I am the only tennis/RAfa freak in our household. My husband and my son went to the movies and I stayed home to watch a 5-hour tennis match! but I enjoyed every minute because I knew RAfa had won. The same with Dubai 06. That is a great match. Rafa has so much energy!

the draw is at 11:30 am Paris time ( 5:30 Eastern time) and it is going to be on the web , live!

I don’t think I will watch. I need my heart!

zola Says:

***Why did my little guy have to be injured,***

come cheer for Rafa with me!

Rafa for FO /Wimbly 2008!

Agassifan Says:

Fed has a problem against players who are:

1. Stubborn
2. Quick on their feet
3. Strong off both wings
4. Speak Spanish (Nalbandian, Nadal, Canas)

Nadal on clay becomes an unplayable beast – its not just Federer who loses to him on clay, EVERYBODY does, ALL THE TIME.

In fact, federer has the BEST record against Nadal on clay, amongst all the players on the tour – Fed has won 1 match and 9 sets against Nadal, out of 9 matches that they have played on clay. 7 other sets that he has lost have been 6-7 or 5-7. That’s 16 very competitive sets.

Can you name ANY player that has a better record against Nadal on clay????????????

That said, Fed does choke against him on clay. It has happened in 3 matches already, 2 this year. And Nadal is mentally tougher than Fed. BUt then, NAdal is mentally tougher than anyone else on tour.

Nadal on clay is the perfect storm. the only 3 players who could have really beaten him on clay, IMO, are Lendl, Borg, and Guga (in their respective primes – the Borg of 1979-80, The Lendl of 1986-87, and Guga of 2000-01). No other french open champ would have beaten nadal on clay – he would have chewed up players like chang, courier, bruguera, muster, costa, ferrero, moya, wilander, connors, etc. So Fed is not faring any worse on clay than most of these other french open champions (who wouldn’t have bene FO champions in Nadal’s era). Again, only Lendl, Borg, and Guga could match him on clay.

To be objective though, again, Fed does need to toughen up mentally, but only against nadal on clay. Everywhere else he is as tough as anyone else out there.

jane Says:

I can’t believe this thread has 257 – oops 258 – comments; is that a record or something?

Von Says:


“Speak Spanish (Nalbandian, Nadal, Canas).”

Do you think the above-mentioned Spanish players put a hex on Fed in Spanish before their matches with him? :)

“he would have chewed up players like chang, courier, bruguera, muster, costa, ferrero, moya, wilander, connors, etc”

Don’t you think if Coria had remained healthy, he would have been a very, very formidable opponent against Rafa, making their matches very competitive?

jingyonfan Says:

I didn’t know Rafa is not 100% in 07 RG. Now, I have no uncertainties that he will be able to win his 4th FO title. I agree absolutely with Voicemale1. I cannot believe we are still posting 4 days after Rafa’s win in Hamburg. I, too, think that these 3 clay court wins of this year are another milestone for Rafa in addition to his impressive 108-2 clay court wins for the past 3 years. Lastly, I have already blocked my schedule in the coming weeks to watch FO. Just can’t wait to witness history in the making! VAMOS RAFA!!!

Skorocel Says:

To Voicemale:

Of course, you don’t need to be a tennis expert to realize what’s Fed’s biggest problem when facing Nadal (at least on clay)… That wicked FH topspin to Fed’s BH is simply one helluva pain in the ass for the Swiss – no doubt about that!

Yes, it could also be true that the clay in Hamburg may negate that topspin a bit – that’s fine. But personally, I still think it’s a 50:50 situation for both sides, since even though Nadal’s shots may kick not as high as usual in Germany, he, on the other hand, can run down even more balls than on the RG/Rome/MC type of clay (where there could be a bigger possibility for Fed to hit a winner)… You can, of course, have a different view on the whole thing, but I just don’t consider that “lower” Nadal’s FH topspin in Germany to be THAT big of a factor…

As I’ve already said (and I’m sure you’ll concur), Fed’s best clay-court match vs Nadal wasn’t the Hamburg final last year (or, for instance, this year’s final, where he too played some top class tennis), but the one which they played in Rome 2006 – simply because Fed was able to keep a very high level of play virtually throughout the ENTIRE match (whereas in the vast majority of the other matches vs Nadal on clay, he did that ONLY IN PATCHES), and moreover, had the outcome of the match fully in his hands…

Re: the “quicker”, RG/MC/Rome type of clay – well, Nadal’s topspin may be at its “highest” there, but on the other hand, there’s a bigger possibility for Fed to hit a winner in these tournaments, so I don’t see any reason why should I favour Nadal more in these tournaments (and, vice-versa, Fed in Hamburg)… What’s true is that Nadal is without question the BETTER player on clay from these two, and it’s up to the Swiss to find a way how to beat him again (most preferably on June the 8th, of course)…

Federer is betterer Says:

Roger will win Roland-Garros this year. Mark it down…

grendel Says:

Sensational Safin: I don’t think it is at all easy to say what mental toughness is, there are too many variables. I discount, in any case, the opinions of those heavily parti pris; here, minds are made up and “evidence” (i.e.subjectively based “observations”) is used not to try and assess what’s what, but to reinforce an “opinion” (i.e. feeling) which itself is based on dislike – at best. This is familiar.

Really, I think you have to measure someone up against himself. I know little about Nadal, but I understand he has a very placid temperament. This could take a player in several directions, of course, and one might be to release the mind to focus absolutely for long periods, and this is what Nadal can do better then anyone. If a situation is perceived to be hopeless, however, he fades away like anybody else – think of the manner of his defeats against Tsonga, Davydenko and Djokovic this year.

Federer, on the other hand, was well documented as having been, to say the least, brittle as a youngster. A head case, he was called. This was a player of phenomenal gifts , everyone in the tennis world knew this – but where was he going? The graveyard is full of those sad cases of people of genius unable to come to terms with their talent. Federer made a conscious and determined decision to avoid this path, so insidiously beckonning. This was an act of courage, which I personally am inclined to salute.

We are haunted, are we not, some of us anyway, by the tribulations of our childhoods and youths. It is not to be expected that Federer could throw off all of his demons. That’s not how it works , we are not machines. Even so, he has seasoned himself into a remarkably gritty performer. Not always, no. But time and again, through sheer doggedness and, yes, mental toughness, he has dug himself out of deep holes in competition against the very best. And this is a player whose game is far more subtly balanced than most, the timing only needs to be a little bit off, and he can look aweful. That is the price which is paid for the seemingly miraculous and effortless timing we have seen so often.

Courage is an elusive quality, hard to define, enacted most often in humble quarters out of the sight of most of us. But occasionally you see it demonstrated in public, and I’d like to suggest that Federer, whatever his faults, has shown notable courage in his time on the court. I reckon he is mentally tough, alright, I’m not going to say more so than tennis player A or tennis player B, that way madness and stupidity lie. But he – like a number of other players – has this quality in abundance.

Yes, he has a huge mental problem against Nadal, partly for physical reasons (i.e.his style does not match up well against Nadal on the clay for reasons well documented). My hunch is that this gritty, couragageous man, if he meets Nadal at RG, is going to fight and fight and fight. Knowing that he has been weak, determined to turn that around. That’s mental toughness.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think he’ll win – Nadal’s just too good for him. But I think he’ll lose in a manner which will at last give him a bit of peace. And if not this year – then next. He’s not going away. This is a man who tries, not always successfully, but he tries and tries again.

Tejuz Says:

SensationalSafin: “A person’s mental toughness is determined when he’s tested and Federer has failed countless times when he was tested.”

Lets count it .. 2008(7 losses), 2007(9 losses), 2006(5 losses), 2005(4 losses), 2004(6 losses).. all in all 31 losses in last 5 years… thats countless for you. 10 of these came at the hands of the No 2… againg 8 of which were on clay against the ‘King of clay’.

Fed certainly choked … but its was on clay against the very best. He is the only guy out there who has tested Nadal number of times on the red-dirt. Roland Garros is a fast surface.. but what if it rains and is damp during the finals.. that will be to Roger’s advantage (if his mind holds up).

I still think Roger has the best chance of taking out Nadal. Djoker wont be able to beat Nadal and then Federer back to back in 2 best of 5 matches..He is still not physically there yet.. or will be.

sensationalsafin Says:

Those are countless times, to me. But I’m not saying Federer is extremely weak mentally. Nadal is definitely tougher and Djokovic might be, too. But that just means Federer is 3rd. The top 10 is placed in order of mental toughness. Right now Federer is 3rd on the race and that’s where he probably belongs. The last 4 years he has been number 1, and that was where he belonged (except for during the clay season against Nadal). I’ve been tracking Federer all these years so I know what he’s done. I know how many matches he’s won that he should’ve lost. How many times he dug himself out of a hole or 2. I mean the guy didn’t lose a match in straight sets for something like 194 matches. That’s ridiculous. If anyone knows how to fight it’s Federer. But he has come up short in some pretty big moments.

Mohd Zaki Zakaria Says:

Rafa won Hamburg Masters physically but Roger won mentally.

I agree with Voicemale1 with regard to their facial expression. It certainly was very exciting match during the final day of ATP Masters Series of Hamburg. For the first time i felt less tense for hoping Federer to win the title. Although, he lost the match, i could see that mentally Rafa was worried about Federer attitudes toward the game. It seemed that Federer is now capable of taking the throne of French Open from Rafa. For this match it seemed like Federer was allowing Rafa to adjust himself and raise his game from his poor recent form. For me, Rafa has just been lucky to surpass Djokovic.

Federer is a true competitor. He values his nemesis to raise the level of play to the highest possible and then he wanted the fight to be fair mentally and physically. He, Rafa, and uncle Tony knows that Roger has encountered Rafa in every aspects and corners of the game and this time is going a very very tough for Rafa to regain this French Open title. In fact during presentation, Rafa could not concentrate on what he is saying coz in his mind, Federer is like giving him chance to take the title.

What Federer has done was allowing Rafa to get more points away from Djokovic and raise his game to the level equal to that during his first win of French Open in 2005 and during wimbledon last year. If Rafa is having his form like what he had during wimbledon last year, I believe Djokovic could not giving so much pressure to Rafa and i dont think Djokovic stands any chance to take French Open. Whatever it is I praise Djokovic as a great tennis tactician.

Roger imperious form in clay court this year is far more different from last year. He seems now very impossible for anyone to beat on clay. Uncle Tony knows that, i believe. What I believe is that Roger likes to play final against Nadal more than any other player. Tennis is not really about winning but it is how beatiful the game is played. For me, at Hamburg, both players have played the game beautifully and raise the level of their playing to their true standard; the highest! Finally, it seems that Roger Federer finally knows how to solve Rafael Nadal on clay.

Tejuz Says:

I wouldnt say that Fed just gave away that final tp Nadal.. he lost it and Nadal did win it.. But Fed was enjoying the match during the 3rd set… smiling and applauding Nadal’s shots cuz he knew his game was quite on and was troubling Nadal more often that it has in the past few years.

I hope this confidence can get him the RG title.

E Acosta Says:

Re: Federer choking. I’d rather be a choker than a cheater. If Federer does get nervous, that is human. Cheating is immoral. That is why, in my opinion, Nadal apologized after his win in Hamburg.

Top story: Wimbledon Cancelled, Tours Suspended Through July 12, Season In Doubt