A Happy Holidays Post
by Sean Randall | December 30th, 2008, 12:21 am

Nothing spells the Holidays quite like two-plus weeks of good, hardcore vacationing. That said, I hope everyone had a great Christmas and has an even better New Year. I’m just glad to be back home again with computer access and football on my TV – my relatives abroad still don’t understand the web and the Lions 0-16!! ADHEREL

And don’t look now but the 2009 tennis season is just a few days away – at least I think it is! I believe the season starts on Sunday or Monday in Australia and I’m sure somewhere in the Middle East.

I’ll have to start getting back into a tennis frame of mind.

But in the meantime if you missed the last month of tennis news as I have (was there any?), I’ll post something Tuesday or Wednesday to get myself and everyone up to speed as best I can.

I will say though that this off season felt a little longer than those of the past, but maybe that’s just me. Whatever you feel, it’s over in less than a week!

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59 Comments for A Happy Holidays Post

jane Says:

Happy 2009 right back – and to all the posters. Here’s some tennis “news” from Canada’s Globe and Mail, if you can call it news:


MMT Says:

For my money, Murray and Djokovic are the favorites given their form at the end of 2008, and for my dark horse, I’d say watch out for a healthy Tsonga again.

As for Federer and Nadal, it wouldn’t suprise me if both of them are not yet at the tops of their games early on, given their knocks at the end of the season, but they’re both so good that anything is possible.

For Nadal – he has to play a little more like he does at Wimbledon to win on hard courts, so unless we see some tactical changes from him, I think he’s vulnerable. And Federer, good as he is, has quite a few bogeys in the draw that could cause him trouble, namely Murray and Simon. Djokovic is also a tough out in Melbourne, and anyone of them could throw a monkey wrench in any plans he has for a resurgence.

At the end of the day, I think Murray and Djokovic will play the final if they’re on opposite sides of the draw, but even if they meet earlier on, one of them will win the AO in 09.

FoT Says:

I don’t know what’s going to happen in 2009 but my wish is…

Roger to win the AO and tie Pete’s 14th grand slam;

Roger to finally get the monkey off his back and win that French Open while setting the record for the 15th grand slam. What could be a more perfect way to break the record for a Federer fan;

Roger to get his Wimbledon crown back and then set himself up for a chance at a true grand slam;

Roger wins his 6th straight US Open and finishes the year like no one has since Laver;

And why not cap off this fantastic year by winning Basel (his home tournament; and then winning the Year-end master’s event).

Of course, by then, Roger would have reclained his #1 ranking and shut up the doubters about whether he’s ‘done’ or not.

Hey… I did say this was MY WISH, didn’t I? lol!

grendel Says:

At the moment, any speculation as to what’s going to happen at the AO is just that – speculation; interesting, perhaps, but not informative. That’s why the prospects are exciting. We really are all in the dark, and this at the time when the quality at the top is unprecedentedly high. These are intriguing times indeed. Personally, I rather liked it when Federer had it relatively easy, which is why I used to do battle with Jane, and others. But I’ve come round to the pluralist point of view. It may not be so comfortable, but it’s definitely more exciting. I can’t help being amused by FOT, who declines to have any truck with this newfangled revisionism. Well, perhaps she is just being more honest with herself, I don’t know.

But whereas we really have no idea who’s going to emerge on top in the coming battles, I think we can, in advance, draw certain conclusions about what defeat or victory will mean to some of the challengers. I think if Nadal, Djoko and Murray reach the semis, no significance can be attached to any subsequent loss. A measured disappointment will naturally follow, but also a cautious optimism for the immediate future. Nothing will have been decided. Tsonga could lose in the first round or win the final and – deeply interesting though either of these events would be, neither would be especially surprising. Tsonga will continue to be Tsonga, gleaming unpredictability through his every pore, and long may he thrive.

But the joker in this particular pack is Federer. I suggested on the other thread that his recent choice of comment on the nature of his 2008 play – and one would dearly like to know how considered this comment was – was either very brave or very rash. How Federer does in the AO is critical, imho, to his prospects for the year ahead. He doesn’t have to win, but he has to get very close to it – or he will be seen as in terminal decline even by his fans. And I think there would be justice in this view, because a weakened Federer seems to be especially vulnerable – it is hard to see him stolidly biding his time and, after a long lean period, pouncing a la Sampras. That said, this may be a misjudgement. People can adapt and evolve in ways which you just can’t anticipate – sometimes.

Andrew Miller Says:

My wish is for Andy Roddick to win a Grand Slam tournament in 2009 – my caveat is that it can be singles, doubles or mixed doubles (heck, even Canadian Doubles, mixed or normal).

I would not mind Roger Federer winning the French Open – if that’s where #14 has to come, so be it. For any of you and Mr. Randall, if you have seen Slumdog Millionare, the big line is “it is written.” I think it is written (destiny?) that Federer will pick up his #14 grand slam singles title this year, hopefully before July. If he has been active in the off season (practicing) then he might have a crack at Melbourne.

Otherwise I will take the season as it comes! The hunch from other very sharp comments (especially for the off-season! I am impressed by the poss!) that an in-form Andy Murray/Djokovic could spell trouble may be right, given that both are now “in shape” and can endure many, many sets over many days. Add to that, both genuinely like hardcourts.

With regards to the women’s game…we shall see. Looks to me to be more Williams, maybe a Sharapova cameo in the winners circle? Perhaps it-girl Ivanova is ready to overcome herself and not go where Iva Majoli went…hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm at the moment her beau Fernando Verdasco, who I pegged for absolutely nothing lifetime given his sky-high talent and canyon-low results, has, deservedly, overshadowed Miss Co-Serbia 2008. But, if 2008 was the highlight of both of their careers, if not their friendly international relations, that is fine too. A Davis Cup triumph in hostile territory and a French Open win, on the back of an Aussie Open final, are pretty amazing career results.

Personally though, in the women’s game I would like to either see the Williams triumph some more, or another player get a breakthrough win, like the hard-working Dinara Safina (kind of like Capriati in 2000-2001). If neither of those three find themselves hoisting grand slam trophies, then I would like to see a skilled player, like the second coming of Justine Henin, but from somewhere else (surprise me!) post some big results. I would vote for Elena Vesnina (nice game) but survey says Elena may never see herself in the top 10, let alone within reach of a major. (I am totally in love with Maria Kirilenko, but despite a nice game, I dont think a slam will happen for her, and gosh darn it that Andreev character is the man of the moment!)

If anyone can come with some imaginative guesses at who would be a good new winner for 2009, it would be great.

jane Says:

Federer will not go quietly into that good night; I expect him to rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Sorry FoT, I expect it is a fading, if ever so slightly). I agree that a win for him at the AO would be restorative. Anything less than the semis would be a slide.

The same goes for Rafa; he’s going to want to clench his teeth even tighter on those trophies this year. Less than a semis will be a slide. A win or a finals appearance in Oz would silence the “he can’t do well on hardcourts” or “his knees are toast” critics and secure his throne in one fell swoop.

Djoko and Murray will both want to make their marks here too. So again, at the very least quarter final appearances are crucial for the both of them. Semis would be solid. Finals or a win could signal a potential surge by either one of them to push Roger and maybe even Rafa.

But the field is so wide and deep that it’s ultimately utterly unpredictable: what about Roddick and Gasquet, with their new coaches? This might be a crucial year for both of them to make another stab at a slam run. Roddick could pick up lots of points at all of the slams this year, since he didn’t do well at the majors last year.

Tsonga, JMDP, and Simon will want to solidify their top ten spots with good showings.

Then there are the potential climbers – Cilic or Gulbis – they’ll be looking to make a good run too. And re-climbers like Baggy or even Safin and Ancic. Who knows? Maybe Verdasco will finally fulfill his potential, or Berdych???

The point is, I guess, that a lot is at stake in this first slam of the year, perhaps more than usual, since this is a moment in tennis when the winner seems to be a looming question mark.

Kimmi Says:

Nadal knees are a big question mark for me. It is the first time since a long time Nadal had to pull out of 2 important tornaments, that indicates the seriousness of the problems.

Are the two months enough for him to recover and run fully blown for five sets ??? we will see.

I read somewhere re Nadal and how much he has made a lot of changes to his game, he is playing more inside the court, more aggressive…finishing points early etc etc. Especially this year I have seen those improvements but imo his game still requires a lot of court coverage.

I cannot see anyone stopping nadal to win the FO this year…but strange things have happened.

Lets see if the Djokovic TMC win will give him the confidence to continue in the AO

It is the year of interesting unknowns. My best wish is for Andy Murray to win his home turf..wimbledon but Federer’s win would not be bad either. Exciting times.

Von Says:

Here, here, Andrew Miller, I’d also like for Roddick to win a Slam this year!! You’ve voiced my thoughts — even a doubles title will do — I’ll take it any which way he can. Albeit the field is a deep one, I think with Stefanki in Andy’s corner, the voice of an experienced coach, should do much for A-Rod subliminally, I hope. Considering ’08 has been one of A-Rod’s worst years, and he has managed to find some semblance of form despite it all. He has shown signs of wanting to be moving on up, however, it will all be dependent on what he’s been doing in the off season, how much he wants it, and is prepared to work to achieve good results. I hope for good results from Andy.

With respect to Djokovic and Tsonga, anything less than repeating their respective ’08 AO results will be a slide. If Djokovic fails to make it to the SFs, and Fed does, then Djoko’s aspirations for attaining the No. 2 spot will have to be put on hold. Nearly the same scenario can be expected for Tsonga to remain in the top 10. Anything less than a repeat performance will have him sliding out of the top 10. For both of these guys to remain status quo they would have to either do well at their warm up tourney, and failing that, will have to match their ’08 AO results. This scenario would and/or should place a huge psychological burden on both of them.

As I see it, of the top 4, Murray has the least pressure to do well at the AO, having lost to Tsonga in the first round, but Murray has to at least make it to the semis at Doha to maintain a decent distance from Davydenko, who is just 1,000 points behind him.

Both Federer and Nadal have SF points to defend at the AO. If Fed goes out early at the AO, then he could lose the No. 2 ranking to Djokovic, while simultaneously placing a damper on his hopes of remaining within some reasonable distance between him and Nadal for the No. 1 spot. However, that would also be dependent on Djoko’s and Nadal’s AO performance as well. This scenario will place a huge emphasis on how well they all fair at their respective warm-up tourneys. Of the three, Djoko has the most pressing repeat situation.

Of the 4 top players, Nadal and Murray has the least amount of stress with regard to maintaining their ranking positions, and it will be interesting to see how they play in their pre-AO tourneys. Their performance in those toureys will give us some indication as to where their level of performance lies, especially for Nadal. Is his knee problem history or still on-going?

As I’ve mentioned previously, this year the Top 10 will be somewhat of a revolving door and considering the present crew it’s a very likely scenario. Both Murray and Nadal have knee problems, Federer has a niggling back problem, and Djokovic has some health/breathing problems which makes it difficult for him to be consistent. Hence, in light of the realism of their respective health issues, the race will be a tight and exciting one, whereby much number crunching will be involved.

The bottom half of the top 10 will be determined by the performance of the top 5 — a sort of domino effect. I can feel the excitement mounting already …

The days of predictability can be considered more or less passe’. The possibility of any one athlete performing as consistently as Federer has done in the past could be considered an impossibility. He has been a one of a kind athlete for 4 years and it would be safe to assume that none of the present top 10ers will be able to duplicate his results,ever. Albeit, I’m not a Fed fan, but we have to give credit where it’s due, and that’s how it looks to me. Nadal will do what he normally does, excell in the clay season and Wimby and then begin to fade slightly, with sporadic positive results through to the TMC. He won’t be a consistent No.1 like Federer, who has performed predictably well from the AO through to the TMC for 4 plus years. The other members of the top 5 will win some and lose some, and that to me is the way I see the cookie crumbling. consistency will have to be the buzz word for Tsonga, Simon, and DelPotro, for them to remain in the top 10. We’ll see …

sar Says:

I am hoping for a Brisbane win for Novak–then win AO again.

Andrew Miller Says:

Wow – from what has been mentioned (underscored by Jane) it seems that the only “no brainer” is a triumphant Nadal come clay-season time. Von’s analysis of the psychological and real pressure on the top 10 resonated, and that sounds quite accurate.

For history’s sake, I’d just like to briefly note that the Australian Open (in my opinion) often rewards players who are most fit – who can endure the super-hot court conditions with the least impact. Rafael Nadal has improved every year in Australia – that much I’ll give him. Andy Roddick has, historically, been ready for the first day of the Open. Diddo for Novak Djokovic. Andy Murray I’ll take a pass on – he’s due for something big, but I just cannot peg him for the big WIN down under. He might prove that assumption wrong and take it – so be it – and we already know he will arrive in Melbourne in good condition, and we also know that the surface is comparable, even more so now than two years ago, to the US Open Deco Turf II – from the news reports, players like the plexi-cushion surface and note that it rewards all styles, and is neither too fast nor too slow (again, that would seem to favor Andy Murray’s game, allowing him to speed the pace up or slow it down as needed.

But that would also favor Roger Federer. A court that is the right pace means he wont get aced off the court by a big player (a gulbis or roddick or cilic). Someone will have to play VERY WELL to beat him.

I think this tournament is going to be won by a top 4 player. No more predictions from me for the men’s or women’s side. Thank you for allowing my comment!

gulu Says:

Federer, Murray and Tsonga are the best on HC ! And please give up the idea of Simon beating Fed at the Oz Open now, I bet he won’t ! I hope Fed to be at his best in the crucial times, coz when he’s at best, I’m also at my best in rejoicing on his wins !

gulu Says:

Please don’t pounce on Fed for what he said, he’s just spoken what he truly believed to have happened to him in 2008 ! That said his judging himself may not be always
correct, still we shouldn’t try to censor him
all the time .

Daniel Says:

Tomorrow the season start in Abu Dhabi with Roddick x Davydenko then Murray x Bake, the winner of the first encounter meets Nadal and the other Fed on Thursday. Oddily Fed could face Murray in his first match of the year, after his last match of 2008 regular season was an epic batle with him, very interesting. I hope this time he prevail because he lost aready two batles,Wimbledon amd TMC, and if he keep losing this kind of matches it could shake his confidence.

jane Says:

Von, you’re right about Djoko; he needs to at least get to the semis at the AO (as grendel also suggested). A quarter final won’t be enough. A loss in the semis will be a “slide” from last year but not a worrisome one. Of course it depends to whom he loses and how he plays, but a semis showing at any slam is a good result.

Kimmi Says:

Daniel, Don’t worry too much about Federer in Abu dhabi. Abu Dhabi is only an exhibition. They will not take it too serious. A loss here is not a big deal…the season start next week.

Von Says:

Jane: My comments ref: Djoko and Fed hinged mainly on their ranking positions, as only 10 points presently separates the Nos. 2 and 3 players. For instance, the No. 2 spot is up for grabs, with Djoko having most of the pressure placed squarely on his shoulders. Both he and Fed will be playing in pre-AO tournaments, but Djoko has championship AO points to defend, as opposed to Fed’s SF points,(Fed 500 points, Djoko 1,000), which makes it easier for Fed to hold onto the No. 2 spot, than for Djoko to overtake him.

If Djoko wants to settle into the No. 2 slot, then he’ll have to do well at both Brisbane and the AO, since Fed will be playing at Doha and the AO. True, an SF result at any GS is great, but for Djoko at this year’s AO it would be a bit catastrophic if he were to only reach the SFs, due to the closeness of the race and what’s at stake. However, this could be pure conjecture on my part as to the severity of the situation, because it could very well be that neither player, even though I find it difficult to envision, might not at all be concerned about their present ranking position, and playing out this scenario could be a moot one. But, let’s indulge for the sake of argument, that they both care about their ranking positions, then it would be of the utmost importance for Djoko to do well in Brisbane, and get to the AO finals. Fed, on the other hand, has similar pressure to do well at both of his tournaments, but luckily for him, he has a 500 point cushion separating him from Djoko at the AO. Winner’s points for both Doha and Brisbane is 250 points each. I’ve only mentioned one scenario taking place, there could be a few more, and the AO will be the determinant as to who will be the Nos. 2 and 3 players, respectively.

On the topic of to whom Djoko loses — this is immaterial, as the other top 4 players will be playing at Doha. In Fed’s case, if he were to lose to Nadal then the gap in points would be widened between Fed and nadal and Fed and Djoko, and that scenario could ultimately benefit Djoko going into the AO.

The AO is a different matter, because if Djoko lands in Fed’s half of the draw then they could meet in the SFs and the victor could emerge as the No. 2 ranked player.

grendel Says:

Gulu, I am certainly not wanting to censor Federer – or anyone else. But I do think his comments are a hostage to fortune, and in this sense, a publicity canny manager would probably have vetoed them. You know how these days, the moment a politician opens his mouth, unless he is of a very special breed, one immediately switches off with a view to avoiding apoplexy – a near fatal condition induced by an overdose of blandness. Some sports stars have contributed to this distressing ailment, but I am glad to see that Federer is not one of them.

Personally, I was pleased to read Federer’s account of his relative decline because if it is correct, then we may be privileged to see some of the great days again. One is bound to be a little sceptical, though – after all, the slip in his own high standard seemed to begin before the onset of the mono (eg, his somewhat unconvincing defeat of Djokovic in the 2007 US Open final.) Then again accurate and objective self-assessment is surely rare in any walk of life, and a bit of special pleading seems to me entirely understandable.

But I may be wrong, and Federer may be spot on. Here’s to being wrong! Of course, you’ve got to consider this possibility. Federer may have got it absolutely right, and yet still his results will be disappointing. That will be owing to the quality of his rivals – all of whom are right in their prime and improving dramatically all the time. In this scenario, ironically, Federer may be saved by injury – to one of the rivals. As Von has pointed out, all seem subject to it one way or another.

No, I think Federer’s comments add spice to the situation. You may be sure Nadal, Murray and co will have taken note and will want (privately) to ram them down his throat. That makes for interest. We guys, lolling in our armchairs, like a bit of blood to enliven the proceedings, as we reach for the bag of crisps….

Kimmi Says:

Von, I think the issue is who will be No.2 before the AO not after the AO. This will be important, as will affect the seeding going into the 1st grand slam.

After the AO, federer does have a lot of cushion before monte carlo to lift himself back again, anything can happen during this time.

Von Says:

Kimmi: You’re one of the people I forgot to mention in my greetings list for Christmas and the New Year. I’m late for Christmas, but just in time for the New Year, so a very happy, healthy and tennis-filled 2009 for you.

I agree with you that the No. 2 ranking is important to both Fed and Novak going into the AO, but I was atempting to address Jane’s comments wherein she mentioned Djoko’s AO results would not be entirely worrisome for him if he makes it to the SFs. In the 4th paragraph of my post I touched on the importance of both players doing well at Brisbane and Doha. Their performance in those tournaments is crucial with respect to their AO seeding, and thereafter. Normally, for Fed, the lead up tourneys wouldn’t matter at all, but this year there’s been a sort of seismic shift in points and Fed has to put up a good fight if he wants to hold on to the No. 2 ranking — he’s always had a good cushion, points wise. Fed has now found himself in unfamiliar territory and it would be interesting to see how he handles this situation. You’re probably on pins and needles waiting for Doha. :P Hopefully, some of the matches will be shown on live streaming.

Von Says:

Andrew Miller: Please don’t refrain from voicing your predictions — I enjoy your posts.

Perhaps you might still have a chance with Kirilenko, and not have to endure the pangs of unrequited love, every time you see her, :D despite the fact that Andreev is her main squeeze. All you need to outshine him is a pair of straight legs — his are bowed. :) Ha, ha. Anyway, that aside, do keep on posting, especially about A-Rod.

Von Says:

Sean Randall:

Did you vacation in the Ozarks or Penn Dutch Country where technology is unheard of? Anyway, happy new year to you and glad to see you back.

Kimmi Says:

Hi Von, thanks. Same to you !! I also accept xmas greetings as i am still in Xmas mood. My xmas tree is still going on.

You were answering jane’s comments ! look at me, i need to pay attention next time !! Yes, I am in pins and niddles but very happy, we have tennis at last.

I just saw the live score Nikolay beat roddick in abu dhabi, roddick will start preparing early in Doha.

gulu Says:

Hi Grendel ! We can trust Fed at the slams. As far as Murray/Rafa/Nole are concerned, Fed’s not much to worry about. He’s in decline doesn’t mean he’s anything less than great. In the past,Fed was The Best, even now he’s one of the best & less than none.

gulu Says:

I’d have loved to see Rod beating Rafa at Doha, that’d have been a Super-great start to 2009 ! However, there’s still hope of Fed beating Murray at Doha, that’d be just as cool ! Come on Rod, Wishing you all the best for the Qatar open !

gulu Says:

Or is it Abu Dhabi? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

grendel Says:

I’ve just watched Murray dispose of Blake fairly easily – and so far as I could tell, both players were trying quite hard to win. So what gives with these exhos?

Kimmi, I’m not quite convinced with your response to Daniel. If Murray beats Federer tomorrow, that will be 4 out of the last 5 I think. That’s got to matter, surely, to both players? Alright, no points on offer, just money – nice, but not critical for two very rich young men. Just an exhibition, is what both players will say when they come off court tomorrow, smiles and harmony all round.

Harmony? I doubt it. There is a struggle for ascendancy going on here, and it will take on different aspects in different types of tournament. I assume that each player has a limited store of energy which he must, to a degree, husband quite carefully over a full season. No idea how this works, but I suppose at a somewhat subconscious level a top player will be inclined to hold something in reserve in an exho – so if things are going very badly, he’s not going to leave his guts out on the court in an attempt to battle back.(but even here, it’s not sensible to be dogmatic; it is easy to imagine players, against their better judgement perhaps, getting drawn into a real dofight; conversely, in a really huge match – say the French Open final – one of the players might give a philisophical shrug of the shoulders towards the end of the second set, in effect calling it a day; that, too, can happen, can it not? Reality is no respecter of theory).

In this sense (if you can remember what I was on about), an exhibition match lacks some significance. But not all, I would contend. Murray has something to defend, Federer something to gather back; so the match tomorrow assumes importance as part of a wider campaign.

It will be useful, not critical, to either player to win this battle, a setback (not a disaster) to lose it. Confidence, that will of the wisp, that capricious quality which comes and goes like a demented lover – you could say this is the banner under which Federer and Murray will be battling tomorrow.

I think it is a prospect to savour, a match not without importance.

gulu Says:

grendel, the points which you have tried to prove in your recent post on this thread’s scary good and true to a great extent. I believe that be it Fed or Murray, whoever loses the Abu-Dhabi encounter, would try to bounce back in their next
clash !

Kimmi Says:

Grendel, I hear you. This senario is tricky !!Federer is a player who needs to build momentum as he picks himself to lets say a “grand slams”. To play Andy Murray in the 1st match of the year and expect to win it easy is tough. I expect Federer to be rusty on both FH and BH. Did not see Murray/Blake match but it looks like Murray played very clean or Blake beat himself with a lot of errors. I would have more confidence in him if it was a semi in Doha or semi in AO. Thats why I am thinking this loss here will not matter too much. Remember Kooyong 2007 or 2006 ??. He lost to Roddick and look what happened in AO.

OK, OK, OK.. you can argue, it maybe not the same Federer and/or Roddick is not Murray but I think we should not worry too much. Lets just enjoy the match its nice to see them back on court again.

grendel Says:

If Federer is rusty, Kimmi, then he’s in trouble, because Murray was anything but against Blake. I’m not sure about Federer, he’s a hardish man to read – but I am sure that Murray will be dead keen to win tomorrow, and he will accordingly pull out all the stops. That actually raises the stakes for both men, since Federer will be aware of Murray’s intensity, and surely that will act as something of a goad to him.

The Kooyong analogy re Roddick/Federer I’ve heard many times, and have generally agreed with it. For some reason, it’s only just occured to me today that there is another possible interpretation. That is, maybe it was not just a question of Federer raising his standard for the AO, but of Roddick dropping his. Yes, I know that Roddick was playing well in matches prior to his semi with Federer, but he might still have had a comparative let down. Didn’t see the Kooyong exho, so have no idea. But it’s a thought.

gulu Says:

Kimmi, I like your logic ! Neither you nor I must lose sleep over Fed beating Murray, he’d do it sooner or later. We must have faith in Roger as always ! Doesn’t matter if Fed loses the battle, he must win the war (in slams ! )

gulu Says:

I’m just gonna relax and wait for the Abu Dhabi results. For me, the slams which are as important and full of pressure for Roger as anything are not going to be fun this tear, I’d take them really seriously, loss for Fed in slams’d make me really

Daniel Says:

I saw the second set of Murray x Blake and he was playing great, like every other tournament, maybe with less talking with himself, but even so, very focused.

That’s why I think it’s important for Fed to win, one thing is to lose a Kooyong match, another is start the year losing, again, for a guy along with Nadal that has a winning record agaisnt him. To me today’s match is very tricky!

Daniel Says:

Wow!! Look like every Fed x Murray match will be like this. Fed fought back 1-4 in the third, then fought back 3-6 in the tie break to miss two forehand in 6-6, unbeliaveble! Butt it was a good match, he used a lot of drop shots, and some weren’t working, but he’s applying them.

Now let’s go to Nadal x Davy, who ever win will be interesting agaisnt Murray.

Kimmi Says:

Yes Daniel, a very good match. A lot of slicing and dicing. Federer played at the net a lot, just one point in the tie break separating them. Murray and Federer both knows how difficult it is to play each other. I start to enjoy their matches now…I just hope federer win next time.

grendel Says:

well, Murray handed the first set to Federer (lost his service game from 40 – love up, 2 doubles I think), and in general, it DID have an exhibitiony feel about it. it was quite funny, because Murray seemed to have the match in the bag, Federer didn’t seem to be interested in pushing. However, after he’d pulled back two breaks and could scent an unexpected victory, certainly Federer went for it and certainly Murray pulled himself together.

But – Daniel, you mentioned two missed forehands in tiebreak, there may even have been 3. I do believe, looking back on it, that if significance can be drawn from this match, this is it. Again, when it mattered, Federer’s forehand let him down and lost him the match – at a stage, too, when there is no doubt he was fighting to win. Furthermore, the fh’s were not difficult – as so often, when he has time to line them up, a bizarre error ensues.

After the match, there was the usual banal interview, but Federer slipped in a strange comment which no doubt was intended to be humorous, but came across to me as bitter. He expressed the hope that he would have another “terrible” – that’s the word he used -season like last year’s, winning only one grand slam. If he could repeat such a “terrible” season, he would be quite happy.

Can he, though? With his best weapon consistently letting him down at the critical moments – you have to wonder.

Daniel Says:

Yes grendel, there was another one at 2-3 I think! Let’s hope that in Qatar he will be more accurate!

Looking at Nadal x Davy, almost every game Nadal serve he faced break point, and saved them, as always.

Kimmi Says:

Gendel, Federer always say things as they are, and a lot of times he is perceived to be arrogant.

I still think he needs that time on the court and soon he will bring his confidence back. Was not a very bad match from him today, that match could have gone either way.

Bring on Doha.

Nadal is playing very well with Davy, will be good to see Nadal Murray match.

Daniel Says:

Davy was 2-0 and break point, them he lost 6 straigh games and several chances. Nadal is looking great, won a point when after a lobby and I think made 0 unforced errors after 2-2.

grendel Says:

Has anyone right now got a better forehand than Nadal? It’s truly awesome, on a par (imho) with Federer’s in his great days. Of course, you can’t compare utterly different talents and styles, but one attribute of how Nadal plays his forehand – which Federer might care to note – is that it is both careful and fearless. Oh, that’s two attributes, isn’t it – although in a sense, one. I mean, you know, he doesn’t set out to be first careful, and then – having got that sorted – fearless. Controlled power, you might say.

It is sad to watch a very great player coming apart in his own speciality. When he does one of these stray forehands, Federer often acknowledges it ever so slightly, just a little twist of the head as if to say:”strange, I used to be able to do this so well”.

Ah, youth. Nature is remorseless, no?

jane Says:

Thanks for the reply Von; with regards to a semi-final showing, I was thinking in terms of how it would bode for the rest of the year (i.e., it’s a great result, so not too worrisome), not so much about ranking points, and over-taking number 2. But of course I am sure the players have those points on their minds!

Kimmi is right that number 2 matters most with regards to seeding in the AO. After that, it’s not such a big deal to me, as a fan. I just like to see my faves in the top ten.

I see Murray got the better of Federer today – missed the dang match so can’t comment. But it does go to confidence.

Any thoughts on the last minute forehand errors from Roger? These happened in the last moments of the 08 Wimbledon loss to Nadal as well, and several other matches. The forehand does seem to let him down in key moments more often now. An exo doesn’t mean much in the end (Federer lost Koo Yong to Roddick in 07, and then won the AO without losing a set!) but this may play on the player’s minds, as has been mentioned. Hard to say. Probably Federer will bounce back fine.

gulu Says:

I think that Fed’s bad luck (his decline !) was sent to him in the form of mono – it broke his momentum (most important), finished his magic, ended his invincibility, killed his form, shook his confidence ! Lady Luck was just flirting with Fed, no ? ;-)

Daniel Says:

Jane, what make those moments when he misses silly balls with his forehand more strange is because he fought back 3-6 in the tie breaker, saved 3 match points, had the momentum, put a first serve in but when Murray returns (which he does with the usua exceeny) he misses a second ball! Seems like he doesn’t kept the killing form anymore. Even last year US Open, when he was playing great, he made a lot of errors.
I don’t know, maybe as he used to say: he is the one taking the risks, but sometimes I think he should cut some mistakes and pass the pressure to the other side.
That’s why I think he made those comments regarding Murray’s game last year. To me it is as he knows he can beat Murray when his game is on, because Murray tends to defend too much not going for the balls, and when he loses, he knows it was due to his errors. Today if 8 more forehands during the match were in, he would win.

Murray also is developing a very Nadal’s how to play Fed. Everytime Fed came to the net, Murray put a low ball on his feet in the backhand side, making Fed net or return easy balls. Very few of them he coud win the point or prepare to a better volley. Another thing is Murray returns in the deuce side, he’s always returning backhand paralel to Fed’s backhand, making Fed move to hit the ball, specially second serve. You could see that Murray can move to return with his forehand, but he prefer to do it with the backhand.

Fed better watch out in Doha, cause he is on a thin line creating a second monster that could be even better than the other one!

Daniel Says:

Sorry, “(which he does with the usual excelency)”

jane Says:

Thanks for your thoughts Daniel; I wish I would’ve caught the match. Theirs is turning out to be a good rivalry, with all/most of the matches very close.

Maybe Roger needs to not go for winners right away but to wait for the right moments, to not be impatient? Is that what you’re saying here: “but sometimes I think he should cut some mistakes and pass the pressure to the other side.”

Certainly Nadal has shown how patience pays off. Maybe Murray has picked up on that too, although Murray has added a healthy amount of aggression to his game now also.

grendel Says:

Daniel says:”Everytime Fed came to the net, Murray put a low ball on his feet in the backhand side, making Fed net or return easy balls. Very few of them he coud win the point or prepare to a better volley.”

Absolutely! How well you put it. Tremendous skill from Murray, again and again But I did think sometimes Federer was a bit slow,almost complacent (no need to hurry sort of thing) and would arrive sometimes unnecessarily late on the ball.

This business of patience Daniel and Jane bring up. Nadal is patient, yes, but always looking to be aggressive, and when he finds the moment, it’s controlled aggression. You get the feeling with Federer a certain amount of panic informs his game now; so many silly misses, to use Daniel’s word, that he just doesn’t quite believe in himself and so goes for it unrealistically, almost hoping for the best. But when he doesn’t have time to reflect, and plays on instinct, that’s when we seem to see the Federer of old.

Incidentally, I suspect Murray’s “healthy amount of aggression” (Jane) is a work in progress. It’s not quite natural to him yet – you see him sometimes retreat into his shell – but I guess within a year or so the transition will be complete. A bit like Nadal, who is now instinctively aggressive – it didn’t happen all at once, though, did it? An excellent case in point today was when Davydenko lobbed him. Not only did Nadal hare back to retrieve the ball, he didn’t simply stick it back into play, he gave it a good whack from a very awkward position, managing to land it quite deep. A surprised Davydenko – who of course assumed he had won the point – returned the ball rather lamely, Nadal pounced and smashed it for a winner. Davydenko left scratching his head, what can I do about that sort of thing – but he could have done, of course. His mindset was all wrong.

jane Says:

I saw the replay of the 3rd set tiebreak at youtube. Federer seemed too casual, not too impatient, on at least two of the forehand errors (I think there were 4 by my count), especially on the 6-6 one. After evening up the tiebreak, it seemed like Roger didn’t think through that forehand he netted; he just hit it casually. The final forehand on match point, however, which was long, was a good miss. Federer really whacked it, and it could have been an excellent winner had it not been long. It’s the ones he nets that are more troublesome. But it’s early in the season, it’s an exo, he still has it. I am sure he will be a top contender all year. Can we expect less from Federer? Nah. He’ll have another great season, and I think he’ll tie Pete this year, though I am not sure at which slam.

gulu Says:

My Dear Jane, thank you for your encouraging words about Fed that he’s still good & among top contenders ! I’d also say that Fed’s always been a champion & would continue to play like one as long as he really can.
Hope you are enjoying Fed’s matches !

gulu Says:

By the way dear Jane, I’d like your Novak’s a good 2009, after all he’s as good as Rafa on the hard courts
and has a penchant for performing well during the clay season. All said, Murray’s the real guy, my guess is that Murray’s gonna win multiple
slams .

gulu Says:

Murray’s talent & mental fortitude is getting closer & closer to the the Fed of the ‘Fed Era’. With the decline & misfortune of Fed, this is the right time for Murray to become invincible, yes he can be so !
For me, Murray’s certainly better than Rafa !

gulu Says:

Oh tennis gods, please do something with Fed’s errors, enough is enough now !

Daniel Says:

Grendel and Jane, you just improve my thoughts! The “instinct” Fed (the one we saw against Naby in Base final) will show up this season, I hope at the right times!

Nadal is having really low first serve percentage against Murray, but they are playing great, a lot ralys just like US Open, and Murray is not serving great either.

I think Murray will win in two. Nadal won’t give everything for an exo when next week wi be the real deal.

gulu Says:

Ah… Fed’s instinct, right? But what’s happening to my Rod’s instinct? Rod, you must not let others to stop you, you halting others’ march would be just great ! Come on Rod & Fed, rock my world & wreck your rivals’, all the best to you guys !

grendel Says:

Daniel, I have to disagree with you – but I speak from the vantage point of the end of the match. Exhibition – what exhibition? I thought it was a colossal match, and in the third set in particular there were some quite astonishing rallies which I am not sure if I have seen the like of before. I don’t pretend to be a judge of these things – but dammit, can anyone really say Murray and Nadal could have given any more?

One or two points: in about the middle of the second set, Nadal was given a sitter to put away – and he shanked his forehand to yield break point! So, not only Federer does that! As it happens, it didn’t matter, since although Murray broke, he was immediately broken back, and lost the set.

Nadal was monumental in the third set, just pouring on the pressure, with Murray somehow hanging on. Murray looked tired and weary – had the defeat of Federer, a la Shangai, taken it out of him? His second serve was dismal, his first only adequate. The tough kid from the hills who likes to get his hands dirty was showing Murray what it’s all about when crunch time looms. But Nadal couldn’t quite put his man away and, amazingly, his opponent seemed to get a second wind. Right at the heart of the battle for the match three quarters through the third set, the two went toe to toe again and again, and if anything Murray had slightly the better of these exchanges.

And then – Nadal cracked. He had given his all and Murray had lived with him. Nadal was nonplussed, the intensity crumbled. Would you believe it? Several unforced errors from the hard man from Spain – the first, virtually, for a set, Murray held his nerve – and, totally unexpectedly given the run of play for the last ten games or so, he won.

Exhibition? Maybe. But Murray has proved something today, for one can only see him getting better. If Federer wants to catch Sampras and overtake him, he’s going to have to get a bloody move on. In a year or so, I suspect Murray is going to be be a real monster.

Daniel Says:

Yes Grendel, desagree with me too, my coment was just after the first set. Now after I saw the whole thing, it wasn’t an exo at all! Nadal must have thought, I won’t let this guy beat Fed than me right in the beggining of the season, that was the feeling I had. But as you well puted, Murray was just better.

Murray beat Nadal in his game, fighting for every ball, runnig drop shots, and those magnificent lobbys. In the end, Nadal miissed more than Murray.

Next week will be great, as long as the top seeds don’t lose earier.

gulu Says:

Grendel, well, Murray can’t stop Federer from breaking Sampras’s record, not at all ! Murray already seems the best right now & that makes it pretty interesting, may be Tsonga has something to say about this or even prove at the Australian Open ! ;-)

gulu Says:

Fed’s like a mountain which will never run away from or surrender to the storm-like Murray !

Kimmi Says:

Grendel, nice to read the Nadal Murray analysis from you. Wow ! Murray is really the real deal.
I did not see the match unfortunately, during that time I was somewhere between UK and Canada. As soon as I arrived i checked results and I was a little surprised to see murray won but very happy.

A lot of people discounted Murray’s win over Nadal at the US open saying that nadal was tired, now I guess they will give murray credit. I hope he does well in grand slam, if he wins wimbledon that will be the icing on the cake. Is murray the person we have been waiting for to challenge nadal in Roland garros ??? OK, OK don’t get carried away !!

gulu Says:

Roger’s the true challenger of Rafa on clay… without doubt

gulu Says:

Listen !!! Rafa’s not gonna let his no.1 position go away easily, he’d give his all to defend it, he deserves to stay at the top for a reasonable time. I’d hate to see Rafa dominate longer, but he’s a true gladiator ! Love the Roger v. Rafa
matches :-) !

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