No Federer, No Murray Leaves Shanghai Masters Field Wide Open
by Sean Randall | October 10th, 2009, 11:08 am

We are winding down on the tennis calendar with just a handful of big events to come, one of them begins tomorrow in China with the Shanghai Masters. ADHEREL

Roger Federer (rest) and Andy Murray (back) both withdrew earlier leaving the field wide open and at the ready for someone to make a surprise Shanghai run and possibly cement a berth in the London finals. But who will it be?

Peering over the draw I think top seed Rafael Nadal is in trouble right away. If Ivo Karlovic gets through James Blake in the first round I think the Croat will beat Rafa. Ivo has absolutely been blasting serves at an unprecedented clip of late (78 aces!) and I’m going to pick him to keep it rolling and bank the upset. With Nadal out I like another lefty Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, to emerge into the semifinals. “Hot Sauce”, however, will have a tough time navigating through my man Gael Monfils and possibly Ivo in the quarterfinals. Some good first rounders in the section with Hewitt-Isner, Monfils-Mathieu and Blake-Ivo.

In the second quarter we find three very dangerous players: Juan Martin Del Potro, Robin Soderling and Jo Tsonga. DelPo seems to have lost his touch after a surprising upset in the first round last week in Tokyo. So between Soderling and Tsonga fourth round clash I’m picking the Frenchman. Ferrer-Gasquet sets up as in interesting opener in this section.

At first glance, the third quarter looks like Andy Roddick’s section, but is it? I think Roddick could in trouble in the second round against Stan Wawrinka and even if he gets through I think Fernando Gonzalez will be waiting in the quarterfinals. Nikolay Davydenko is always a tough out, but in a “pick-em” section I’ll take a flyer and go with Wawrinka to reach the semifinals.

In the bottom section, I like Novak Djokovic to get through over Gilles Simon. Marin Cilic is also in that quarter as well but if Tomas Berdych doesn’t get him in the first round, I think Simon will. Djokovic, meanwhile, should cruise over Ernests Gulbis and Tommy Haas.

That leaves my semifinals as Verdasco v. Tsonga; Wawrinka v. Djokovic. And my winner is Tsonga beating Djokovic in the final. Allez Tsonga!

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72 Comments for No Federer, No Murray Leaves Shanghai Masters Field Wide Open

i am it Says:

this post belongs here, so i c&p.

Shanghai draw is out. my man delPo has the toughest draw cuz he’s my no. 1 fav. rafa has the easiest draw.

in Gulbis, Dj has the toughest 1st rd, followed by Roddick, who’s Wawa, and dePo, who’s Chardy. Rafa should cruise to the semi. The rest face stiff opponent in their quarterfinals.

1st quarter
Rafa: blake or Karlovic in the 1st Rd; Robredo or petzschner in the 2nd; Verdasco, Monfils, Isner, PHM, or hewitt in the quarter.

2nd quarter
delPo: Chardy in the 1st rd., Gasquet or d. ferrer in the 2nd rd, Tsonga, Soderling, or Kohls in the quarter.

3rd quarter
Roddick: Wawa in the 1st rd., ferrero, stepanek, or acasuso in the 2nd rd., Davydenko or Gonzalez in the quarter

4th quarter
Djokovic: Gulbis in the 1st rd., Haas or becker in the 2nd rd., Simon, Cilic, or Berdych in the quarter

i disagree with the author on rafa. big guys don’t bother him. cannot see monfils or verdasco making to the semi.

you may be right about delPo, but i suspend my judgment on this.

and dj will have hard time getting to the quarter. should he get to the quarter and run into the counter-punching machine simon, it will be tough to get past the frenchie. if dj wins the title tonight, i can see him doing well in Shanghai or not?

i don’t see Wawa troubling roddick or getting to the semi. that’s just crazy prediction. i predict roddick to reach the semi. after that, i don’t know.

you could be right about Tsonga reaching the final, but winning the title? don’t see that happening.

so you may turn out to be right about 25%. remember this.

sensationalsafin Says:

Djokovic should cruise over Haas? I hope so but that seems like a weird prediction considering they’re last 2 encounters. Why would Tsonga then beat Djokovic? I think Djokovic is gonna wanna finally win a Masters final, so he’s gonna have a little extra motivation. Wawrinka beating Roddick? On hard? What? Del Potro lost his touch because he played one bad match? Is that how we base player’s games nowadays? I usually like your predictions but it seems like you’re just picking names out of a hat.

i am it Says:

i overlooked this: “Marin Cilic is also in that quarter as well but if Tomas Berdych doesn’t get him in the first round, I think Simon will. Djokovic, meanwhile, should cruise over Ernests Gulbis and Tommy Haas.”

this is the craziest i have read in a while.
however, i like the illogical dj-cruising part.
i do not want see berdych / simon beating cilic, so that’s not gonna happen.

i am it Says:

this post of mine from another thread is more relevant here.

On Oct 19,
Soderling 3020+ 180 (Beijing)- 20 (Barcelona)- 70 (Madrid) + Shanghai= 3110+ Shanghai

Simon 3250- 700 (Madrid) + Shanghai= 2550 +Shanghai

Simon will keep his No. 10, if he reaches final, and if Sod loses before the 2nd Rd. since Sod is unlikely to lose in the 1st rd, Simon will have to win the title to keep his ranking. Looks improbable, if not impossible.

it looks very likely that Sod will replace Simon for the no. 10 spot right at the conclusion of Shanghai.

P.S. correct me, please, if my math is wrong.

jane Says:

Sean, your predictions are, er, interesting. Maybe you’re just bear-baiting. Anyhow, just like i am it says, I like your statement that Djoko should cruise over Gulbis and Haas. Haha – should is the operative word. Gulbis pushed Tsonga to 3 sets at the last 2 events, and has hired a new coach; besides, he’s always a threat. I wouldn’t count him out so quickly. With Haas, I am not sure what to think; sometimes he rocks, other times, not so much. Depends which Tommy shows up. But Djok would have to pass the Ernests test first.

I think Roddick should get by Wawa, but I actually agree with Sean that Stan can be very, very dangerous and can play excellent tennis on hard, although his best surface seems to be clay. So Roddick will have to take care and I think he will.

Rafa has Blake or Karlovic in the first round? That’s not easy. I actually kind of agree with Sean that it could cause an upset? Although Rafa will be in mega-fight mode after the crushing last night. :)

Delpo has a fairly tough draw, he seems to do well against power hitters; I believe Tsonga has never beaten JMDP. Soderling is another case though. Delpo should beat Chardy, but there is no doubt Jeremy can be really good and has a great serve. But again, I think JMDP will be in cautious, fight mode after losing early in Tokyo. Can he gain a spot on Murray or even Djoko if he wins this event? Could he get to number 3? I am sure that would be in his mind.

i am it Says:

just for fun, let me make one crazy prediction to rival the writer. i’m gonna reverse his, so please don’t take any offense.

if Sela or Zeng don’t in the opening round, Sod will eliminate Tsonga in the next rd.

Gulbis will down DJ in the opening rd.

if the qualifier does not beat Wawa, roddick will.

Ljubicic or Benneteau will give Verdasco 1st round exit.

OK, have i eliminated all of his 4 semi finalists in the 1st or 2nd round? Yes, i’ve.

now let me replace his semifinalists with his early round exits. my semifinalists prediction: delPo vs. rafa; roddick vs. cilic/ simon.

tell me, folks, whose prediction is more plausible? whose prediction percentage will be higher?

Sean Randall Says:

i am it, we shall see! I’m picking Cilic to go down only because he’s a young kid and I’m betting he has a letdown after a big week in Beijing.

sensationalsafin, I’m not throwing out DelPo, I just didn’t like his result last week and based on that he’s probably not at the level we saw him over the summer. And yes, he could very well lose to Chardy but I think Tsonga will get him and based on momentum I like Tsonga to beat Novak on the final. JW is a big “mo” player.

As for Djokovic v. Gulbis/Haas. Yes, both Gulbis/Haas are dangerous but Haas and especially Gulbis often keep it close but they hardly ever walk away with the end win. In this case I think Novak should win both in straight sets.

sensationalsafin Says:

Sean’s is.

i am it Says:

j. says, “I actually kind of agree with Sean that it could cause an upset?”

can you give us some basis for this to happen?

which big server or serve & volleyer has ever troubled rafa? did you check the h2h with big servers? Is there a pattern? i mean there has to be some basis, right?

sensationalsafin Says:

Soderling, JMDP, and Tsonga are big servers. Tsonga served and volleyed in their AO match. Karlovic has taken Nadal to 3 tiebreakers during his FO, Queens, Wimbledon run.

jane Says:

i am it – very feasible predictions. I can see Benneteau causing an upset; he has come near to it with both Djok and Murray this year, so he could take out Verd. I don’t want to see Djok lose early, but Gulbis and then Haas is tough. And I can see Sod taking out Tsonga – they’re pretty even as far as power goes. It will depend on how aggressive Tsong is. I already stated Wawa will not be able to take out Roddick. They’ve played only twice and Rod beat wawa easily on hard. The win had was when Andy retired against him at Rome with an injury. So Roddick should get deep at this masters – semis, final, win?

jane Says:

i am it -@ 12:34 – I think Blake just pushed Rafa to the brink here in China, so will that mean he could get the win in Shanghai? I think Blake has a slight better chance to get the upset than Dr. Ivo. But Ivo has also pushed Rafa to the limit, on grass, at Queens. So it depends. In the big points, though, Rafa should come through. But that was why I said it *could* happen.

i am it Says:

“Can dePo gain a spot on Murray or even Djoko if he wins this event?”

on my quick surface scan, he won’t be no. 3, for sure. i think he will replace murray, if he wins. at the end of this month, he may even replace murray without winning shanghai.

Sean Randall Says:

i am it, very plausible and I could go 0-4. I would take Novak as the best chance for a quarter, then Tsonga, then Verdasco then Stan who’s a real longshot!

What you did was pick the favorites in three of the four quarters with Rafa, DelPo and Roddick leaving just Novak to tumble Ernests.

Yes, Gulbis has the game to beat anyone but he’s yet to show he can finish the job. Until he can do it and do it consistently it’s a struggle to pick him over top players.

jane Says:

Sean, Tsonga has never beaten JMDP in three tries, two of which were on hard. At the YEC last year, JMDP won in straights, but they were both tiebreaks. But JMDP has improved since then; has Tsonga? I can’t see Tsonga beating him right now. Maybe, but I suspect Tsonga’s best stuff will be in Paris.

i am it Says:

thanks SS and J.

but there is a difference between pushing and winning, esp. when we are talking about rafa.
tsonga is one of the most versatile well-rounded player. he can play from any place.
sod and dePo are not only big servers. they have big forehand and are flat hitters. we don’t remember them as big servers per se. neither rely solely on serve to win a match like Ivo does.
so, not a solid predictor. at least, i am not buying into it.

Sean Randall Says:

Jane, true. I’m just thinkin DelPo’s cooled off a bit from the summer, maybe lost some edge whereas Tsonga’s the hot guy right (assuming he closes out Youzhny tomorrow).

DelPo is the more complete player but right now if the match happens I think JW finally gets a win (he’s going to someday!).

i am it Says:

be honest, SS and J., and tell me would you put your money on Ivo over rafa?
i won’t, even against the rafa i saw last night. but that does not mean upsets don’t happen. they do, and that’s why they are called upsets.

sensationalsafin Says:

I don’t think Karlovic can beat Nadal. I don’t think Karlovic can beat anybody. He lost a match where he hit 78 aces. I think that says enough about what kind of player he is.

jane Says:

“but there is a difference between pushing and winning” – ah, indeed. Well said, i am it. And hence, to answer your question, no I would not put my money on Dr.Ivo upsetting Rafa. Besides which, I am not a betting girl. I might offer to eat my sock if Blake pushed him to another 3rd setter, but that’s another story.

Sean, it could be that you’re a 100% right and Tsonga will get his win over JMDP this time. But remember that Tsonga played deep last week, and is now into the finals, likely to win, this week, which means he may (?) be tired or experience a letdown this coming week. In which case, as I said before, we’ll see him peaked again at home, in Paris.

i am it Says:

sean says, “What you did was pick the favorites in three of the four quarters with Rafa, DelPo and Roddick leaving just Novak to tumble Ernests.”

that was not my intention. you know it. be honest. my intention was to reverse yours. and it turned out that way. my luck, i guess.

i am picking Ivo over Blake. it’s 55-45 in Ivo’s favor.

grendel Says:

“Karlovic has taken Nadal to 3 tiebreakers during his FO, Queens, Wimbledon run.” Yes, but Karlovic is Karlovic, and when his serve is on, he will take ANYONE to a tiebreak. But then, to a top player, he will lose the tiebreak – generally. He did beat Federer last year, to my surprise – has he ever beaten another top player?

Sean Randall Says:

sensationalsafin, let’s not lump Ivo in with the guys like Gulbis who never complete the job. Sure Ivo loses a lot when he serves big ace numbers but he does steal the occasional win. He did beat Hewitt at Wimbledon way back. He did close out Fed at Cincy (I think it was there) and this year he has wins over Tsonga and Verdasco (both at Wimbledon). He beat both Soderling and Djokovic at the end of last year in Madrid.

That said, he may very flame out to Blake in the first round!

jane Says:

grendel, Dr. Ivo eliminated Tsonga at Wimbledon this year, much to my chagrin as I was hoping to see Fed/Tsong on grass.

jane Says:

oops I just read Sean’s post and I realize he already pointed out some of Dr.Ivo’s other big wins.

i am it Says:

after some thought, i offer my apology to Sean for calling his prediction crazy.
i arrived at this conclusion when i started thinking about how my serious prediction would look like, in comparison to the one i did above for fun. would my serious prediction look more plausible than the funny one? not sure.
i realized maybe all predictions could turn out to be crazy.
sorry, Sean.

jane Says:

I like that Sean goes out on a limb with some of his predictions as at least it gets us thinking “outside the box”, to use the nearest cliche.

Sean Randall Says:

Thanks Jane, but I’m starting to feel that limb is going to give way under the weight of that Stan pick! That’s going to haunt me I think.

i am it Says:

Sean and J., the point i was trying to make is it is easy to question and criticize another person’s prediction, or opinions in general for that matter, but when you start doing your own, predicting or expressing thoughts, they may turn out to be equally questionable and no less ridiculous. do you see what i mean here?

jane Says:

I do i am it.

jane Says:

Just a quick correction Sean – Murray is out for his wrist, not his back.

i am it Says:

j. CYI, this acronym stands for something. what’s that? try to find out but don’t answer.
hint: google won’t help.

joppuehh Says:

Grandslam champion cant be rated only “dangerous player” he is contender like Djokovic and Nadal and not “dangerous player” lol.

“DelPo seems to have lost his touch after a surprising upset in the first round last week in Tokyo.” Whats wrong with you?

Anyone who watched that match could see that Delpo has hampered by Stomach bug and couldnt serve and move.

Picking average players like Tsonga and Söderling over him is embarassing.

seda Says:

What just because Fed head & Murray ain’t going to be there it is an open field? You should go & stick your head back into the sand where it’s been obviously forever. Murray is number 3 deh!, and Fed head only got to number 1 cause the best man has been injured for months & Fed can’t even beat Rafa when Rafa is fit. Buggers belief when this type of hype(coughs, crap) is written. Did someone actually pay you to write this. God I think I will become a tennis journo, at least I will give the facts. I hope Rafa finds his savvy & be 200% fit & kick arse just to shut you knockers up.

blah Says:

tsonga and soderling can both take out top contenders… they are dangerous, especially in 3 setters.

simon over soderling. no serious picks from me this time.

I can kick your a** on a tennis court Says:

What it be too much to ask to substantiate these predictions? What makes them even less interesting is you’re hardly ever right.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but some people read to make them think…

Vulcan Says:

Unfortunately I have to agree with your prediction that Nadal will lose to Karlovic if Blake loses…I also have to agree with Von that something looks amiss with Nadal. Considering he beat Karlovic back at Queens Club one might think he would have at least a decent shot…but the way hes looked against DP and Cilic I think he has some serious regrouping to do in terms of figuring out what to do on hard courts against the flat ball hitters. Regarding Cilic, the stuff he showed against Nadal makes me wonder if he isn’t the best of the tall guys…I mean even better than DP. The main thing I couldn’t get over was his quickness and reflexes…very tough to get the ball by him. The Nadal match was pretty much just a repeat of the DP USO match…Nadal had absolutely nothing in his repertoir to deal with what was being thrown at him…on top of that he played relatively poorly with a lack of characteristic consistency.

i am it Says:

when I make tournament wide predictions, I am influenced by what I want to see, by the desired result, and try to calibrate that with reality, the material, objective symptoms, i mean take into considerations players’ current results and form, etc. and after watching 2 rounds, i had some facts on hand. that was how i had a hunch and conveyed my foresight of Djoko’s winning the China Open, which turned out right, but i got one wrong that rafa was not in the final, though i had all 4 semifinalists correct.

this kind of day-to-day prediction, based on certain signs, i can often get right.

but, for Shanghai, at the beginning of the tournament, i am unable to form any vision. it’s too complex. there are more variable than constants right now. safter 2 rounds, when the field becomes narrower, maybe, but not right now.

as for predicting how a player will do in the span of next 12 months or 2 years, that can be attempted, based on certain indicators and desires, but often such predictions are off the mark by a wide margin. i think such long term predictions are guided, on the one hand, more by desires and hope than physical indicators, and on the other, the ratio between variables and constants fluctuate a lot more during a longer span of time than, say, within a week or month.

yet, as grendel said in another thread, the predicting game is pleasurable and fulfilling, that we feel like we have an ability to dictate the course of the future whenever we happen to be right. maybe, it just provides an occasion to say, “I told you so,” and the little satisfaction we get out of it. but for me, i rejoice in confirming or fabricating my ability to read a pattern in the vast canvas of chaos. at the end, i think it’s a game in its own right.

how about you guys? how do you go about the predicting business, tournament wide, monthly, yearly, or the entire future career of a player, etc.?

jane Says:

” Regarding Cilic, the stuff he showed against Nadal makes me wonder if he isn’t the best of the tall guys…”

Me too – I am beginning to wonder as much. I was blown away by his match against Haas at Wimbledon. He was so close to winning that; too bad they had to come back the next day and play those final points as I think he might’ve won that match otherwise. However, Cilic needs to marshal some consistency, cut down on errors. He’s confirmed one thing this week, which was evident more this year than last – his determination to win, and accordingly, that he won’t fade as the match progresses, which we saw more of in 2008. For e.g., he put up a valiant fight in the 2nd set of the final, and he stayed right with Rafa as he was starting to come back in the second set of their match.

“he [Nadal] played relatively poorly with a lack of characteristic consistency.”

Yes, what I found most striking was that Nadal’s serve, particularly his first serve, was nowhere near its normal consistency or effectiveness, especially in the first set, during which it dropped as low as 50% first serves in. He also played too passively in general, but he sometimes does this on hard against the flat hitters. Yet other times he fights and handles the flat hitters. Maybe it’s a lapse. He knows what he has to do, but when faced with a barrage of flat, hard-hit groundies, he lapses into defense mode. Given that he’s handled some flat-hitters, you’d think he could do it more consistently. Maybe he’s still not 100% fit or confident and that’s part of it.

sensationalsafin Says:

Nadal sucks at tennis. What more explanation is needed?

Duro Says:

Alleeeez allez allez alleeeez, No3-leeee, No-leeee!!!
Jane, are we happy or not? Love is in the air…
I am so sorry that you missed the first set, not only because of the great Nole’s game, but drop shots! I know how you’re getting mad when he pulls one of these (me too, I must admit), but today those were perfect in addition with some brilliant lobs (no wonder why Nole finds these shots the favorite ones to him). This title is a big thing in many ways for our Champ. Wait and see what’s next! Ajde Nole, ole ole ole…

Sensationalsafin, since your idol is retiring soon and your passion obviously needs someone to fulfill it, consider to switch to “sensationalnole” after Marat the Great finishes his career. You’ll have plenty to cheer for, only 22 and a sky as the only limit. Alleeez allez allez alleeez, No3-leeee, No-leeee…

i am it Says:

let me attempt, if i may, a slight disagreement with the rafa assessment, or you could say i am just trying to add another component to the equation.
if you guys mean the rafa of AO and IW by 100%, yes he is not there yet. but that was the beginning of the year. he usually does well during that time, sustaining at times all the way to Canada Masters. however,

pattern: rafa has not done well during the last part of the season in his career.

i guess your counterargument would be he is well-rested this year, so he should be doing as well as at the beginning of the year. my rebuttal would be we don’t have a pattern to suggest that rafa can do well in the last part of the season if he is well-rested because this is a one-time case. his 2005 result is an anomaly: he won beijing and madrid that year, both coming after USO, but did not play any tournament for the rest of the season.
maybe, somebody else can jump in here and fill in.

w.r.t. jane’s point about rafa’s first serve, or his serve in general, imo, has become a liability against players with wide wing spans who can hit flat (Soderling, dePo, and Cilic). maybe, these guys have figured out how to go about rafa’s serve. maybe not. we will find out when we think he is “100%” and playing against them.

vulcun says, “Regarding Cilic, the stuff he showed against Nadal makes me wonder if he isn’t the best of the tall guys…I mean even better than DP. The main thing I couldn’t get over was his quickness and reflexes…very tough to get the ball by him.”
i think this is a bit exaggeration, except maybe arguably about the “quickness and reflexes.”
replay dePo and cilic’s two encounters at the Grand Slam level, AO (5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2) and USO (4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1), both this year. i am sure you can find the video clips online. dePo dominated cilic on both occasions, except 1st sets, which dePo usually starts slow. i can cite a dozen of sold records in favor of dePo to show he is way up there, in the areas of power, consistency, flatness, serve, baseline lateral movement, forehand, etc. cilic is not there yet, though i’d rate cilic higher in one area, his vertical movement, coming forward and net play.
here is one record, if it relevant:
against top 30, cilic has 7-8 (47%) this year.
against top 30, dePo has 21-8 (73%) this year, 7 of them coming at the hands of the top 4, meaning dePo lost only once against a player ranked between 5-30.

don’t get me wrong i have high regard for cilic, i like his game, and see his potentiality to become a top 10 or higher ranked player very soon.

been there Says:

Re Cilic:

Yeah, he seems pretty good. I got eggs all over my face ‘coz just as recent as USO, I laughed when I saw he actually won a 5set match ‘coz he always seem to be caught up in nasty 4 or 5setters at slams & even though he makes a come back, once the 5th set comes, I’m always ready for him to lose. & my further surprise when he won his next two matches in straights before succumbing to Del.P. Not to mention all my criticisms of is body language at such times…..always seemed so lethargic. Don’t know how it all clicked for him between Wimby & USO.

Though his main problem still remains the same – closing out a break, set or match point. He let far too many break-points go against both Rafa & Djoko, especially when leading 0-40. Nervousness peraps….’coz most were UE as opposed to winners from the opponent. . I’m sure he knows this & hope his team is working on it. C’mon!!

i am it Says:

correction in the percentage: dePo has three times as many as cilic’s win against top 30.

been there Says:

Duro, is it Allez or Adje for Nole?

Great times for Nole…good to finally see him win a decent final (i.e. not offence!)The main one is next week though & would be good to see him with a big one after so many semis & finals attempts in ’09.

sensationalsafin Says:

I haven’t even thought about changing my name. Safin will always be the greatest, retired or not. But if I were to change it, I wouldn’t make it sensationalnole, that’s just weird. I’m thinking along the lines of devastatingdjokovic. NO ONE BETTER STEAL THAT IN CASE I DECIDE TO USE IT. IT’S OFFICIALLY BEEN COPYRIGHTED.

been there Says:

“…how about you guys? how do you go about the predicting business, tournament wide, monthly, yearly, or the entire future career of a player, etc….?”

No predictions from me…I just sit & calmy enjoy best-of-three tournaments whoever is playing, popcorns in hand….but when it comes to slams, quite a different story….hide behind sofas with mini hear-attacks. lol.

In the past, i.e ’till early ’09, there was no need for predictions as such ‘coz it was basically assured Fed & Rafa are in semis & finals. So the prediction was for the other two, in which case it was probably Djoko & whoever else is playing great tennis at the time.

This year though it’s anyone’s game, so still no predictions from me…though I’d never bet against Rafa or Fed on all surfaces, whatever their condition leading to a tournament.

For Shanghai, Djoko, Rafa, Tsonga, Del.P all want it…and are all very capable. Throw in Roddick who must want to back up his Wimbledon performance. Then there are the rest…Cilic, Soderling, Monfils, who will go as far as they can get…what I get is a very wide open unpredictable field….though we may as easily end up with the rather ordinary Rafa-Djoko final.

jane Says:

i am it, interesting post about the nature of predictions; I don’t usually go in for them, unless I feel pretty sure. Occasionally I’ll make a call on a match, or as in my first post on this thread, make judgements on quarters / first round matches in draws, but as for picking a winner, I rarely do it. I will usually say who favorites are though. But that’s not too tough.

As for Rafa, you raise a good point about this part of the year being his weakest over the course of a number of years now. Thus, even though his injury would’ve given him rest, he’s also not at his best physically or mentally, AND this is his weakest time in the season, so there are multiple reasons why we are seeing him struggle. Introduce a few new contenders in the mix and you’ve got the makings of a tough stretch for Rafa. All that said, he still made the semis!

Duro, yes of course, I am very happy for Djoko’s win; I hope he can use this victory to propel him into more good results.


Regarding Cilic vs. Delpo – i am it makes a convincing case for Delpo, who probably has better stamina and confidence that Cilic at this point. Perhaps also power.

However, as been there points out, Cilic has quick reflexes. He’s also got good movement/bend/reach, and strong shot variety, making him someone with huge potential. He’s clearly still in the fledgling state in terms of match experience against the big guys, and because of his lower ranking than JMDP, he hasn’t come up against them as much this season. But to take out Murray, Davy and Rafa, all rather decidedly in straight sets in the course of a month or so, signals that he’s ready to turn things around. As for whether he has what it takes to win a grand slam, I see him as still developing, but as a definite dark horse at Wimbledon next year. He has a calm demeanor, so he doesn’t seem to get too rattled. But he still needs to build confidence for the big points in big matches. I think he’s on his way.

Duro Says:

been there, of course it is, but allez rimes with Nole, and one correction, it’s ajde, not adje! I agree about Shanghai, it would be great if he takes it. No2 in sight! Anyway, alleeeez allez allez alleeeez, No-leeee No-leee…

i am it Says:

j. you underscored cilic’s variety. i tend to agree with you on this. he is probably more well-rounded than dePo. also, celic’s retrievability could be a tad bit better, not sure, though. but my guy uses his “limited” weaponry more efficiently, accurately, and consistently and is mentally stronger.
i agree with the rest of your assessment. i too cilic is his way.
i admire Croats’ calm demeanor, Ljubicic, Ancic, and cilic. Mario and Marin’s academic credentials are rare and special.

i am it Says:

s/b i too cilic is his way = i too think cilic is on his way.

Duro Says:

Sensational, devastatingdjokovic will do just fine! I’m acknowledging you as an official bearer of the copyright and protecting you as a holder of an intellectual property right! Since it’s my official job (among other things) I’m fully entitled to do so!

jane Says:

This is for you, i am it; it’s an article on your man Delpo:


i am it Says:

thank you, j.
he sums it up: “That was hard, being alone in front of the crowd and speaking to everyone.”
stardom can be lonely. you are surrounded by a lot of people all the time, yet you feel alone. i don’t think dePo likes to be thrown in that position, but he will have to get used to it, and he will, as time passes.
poor kid: he admits he is mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted by the homecoming festivities. “I need a vacation to be in good shape for next year.” i don’t blame him.
I am gonna have to cut a slack on him if he fares badly at Shanghai and Paris.
and what a weekend for dj ! his assistant coach Todd Martin won 30-and-old Outback Champions Series on the same night, by beating no other than Agassi.

Vulcan Says:

i am it Says:

“in the areas of power, consistency, flatness, serve, baseline lateral movement, forehand, etc. cilic is not there yet”

Boy I don’t know about the movement part…the way he was moving against Nadal was out of this world for a big guy. With his large wingspan it took some of the most extreme angles Nadal could muster to get the ball by him. I don’t recall him hitting alot of backhand slice and dont think he really has alot of variety but what he does he does extremely well. I recall his match against Djokovic at the US Open and it was some of the hardest, cleanest, continuous ball striking i’ve ever seen.

jane Says:

Vulcan, Cilic did use some slice in last night’s final. I actually found 3-parts posted on youtube so got to see more of the first set. Anyhow, he does tend to hit hard, but when Djoko started to mix up the pace, Cilic followed suit here and there.

i am it, yes, do cut him some slack. For some it’s tough to be catapulted into the limelight. JMDP will come back stronger next season for it, though.

blah Says:

good to see cilic joining the party, though a lot of guys go away after making some noise. You are never really “there” until you win a slam. Murray is the one that needs a slam more than any other player right now.

blah Says:

another thought: I don’t see Nadal returning to his ao form until clay season/fo of next year. he really needs to be careful with his body.

been there Says:

Duro @ 5.41pm

Thanks for that….so i guess I’m obliged to cheer him properly….adje Nole! & congrats for Beijing. Monfils remains my main man though, so allez Monfils! Lucky you Nole is in a good position to get so many titles.

Should Djoko get to #2 or #1, I’ll definitely remember your ‘alleeeez allez allez alleeeez, No-leeee No-leee…’….very funny…it would indeed be something to sing about seeing that he’s waited so long for it. You just know how good Rafa & Fed are when trying to hold on their 1,2 positions….so it’s gonna take a flawless performance from Djoko in the remaining tournaments. All the best to him in Shanghai.

blah Says:

fine, a bit more serious picks for shanghai- which will turn out horribly wrong.

Tsonga over Nadal and Roddick over Simon. Roddick over Tsonga. I put simon in there just because.

Roddick needs to at least reach the semis. He went out early in uso and and in the last tournament, he needs to get back on track. He shouldn’t lose to the guys from that section. not to wawrinka on hc, not to those guys in 2nd round, not to davydenko. Only one is gonzo and if Roddick keeps him on the court long enough gonzo will implode again. There’s no federer around and Roddick could beat all of the guys from the fourth section.

Tricky draw for Djoker but a lot of times the tricky section resolves itself. Murray missing is interesting because he’s still the best 3 set hc player. The rest of the field can get valuable points here.

blah Says:

Cilic needs to be able to sustain his play. When the match goes long he usually loses. Though he looks very promising, he pushed djoker last year in uso before going away, beat murray in 3 straight sets and now has beaten nadal in 2 straight sets.

I am surprised by some people saying cilic might be the best big man though… wouldn’t that make him like top 3 right now? Del Potro is without a doubt better. so far him and djokovic are the only ones that got a slam from fed/nadal’s grip. Cilic doesn’t have the power game that Del Potro has, which is what gave him the slam win this year.

been there Says:


Seems like I’ve got the wrong spelling again!…I copy-pasted what I thought was the correct spelling from your post. My apologies…I’ll make excuses by my not understanding a single Serbian word, so spell-checker can’t help me & Monday blues!

Let me try again, this time keeping my eyes wide open: Ajde Nole! I’m sure I got it write this time :) ajde!!!

jane Says:

hi blah, you said “so far him and djokovic are the only ones that got a slam from fed/nadal’s grip. ”

Just to add to that, there was Safin in 2005, AO, and not sure if Guadio’s 2004 FO title would count, but I would think so since Fed was dominating other slams by that year.

I think both Roddick and JMDP will be threats at Shanghai since both will be wanting to right the ship from early losses last week. Also all those looking for a YEC spot will be gunning for it, including Simon. :)

It’s not that I think Cilic is better than JMDP now, but I think he *could* be up there with him in the future given his talent.

blah Says:

Jane- I was referring to the period when fed And nadal took over. i dont think nadal really started to solidify his place until 06. but even if you count safin, that’s still only 3 out of 20 slams won by others. My point is until these players win a slam or until fed and nadal stops winning at least 3 out of 4 slams every year, i remain skeptical about their gs chances. Murray still hasn’t gotten “there” yet if it’s counted this way, and we all thought he would win at least one slam this year.

Anyway, the next two tournaments should be fun… they still play paris right? hopefully fed and murray decides to join by then. Still not a fan of the round robin yec format though…

Duro Says:

been there, ha ha ha! I was just on my way to tell you that (your misspelling of ajde) when I saw you already did your “homework”!
Re No2 spot, if Nole wins Shanghai (which is more than possible) that would be an option to count on very seriously, not instantly after Shanghai, but in real perspective (in particular considering the fact that these 2 guys at the top have a very visible expiring date). So, as I said before, alleeeez allez allez alleeeeez, No3-leeee, No-leeee… (hopefully No2-leeee, No1-leeee…)!
Cheers, been there!

huh Says:

What wide open, the field still is ridiculously dangerous and tough for (whoever may be!) the title aspirant/s.

sensationalsafin Says:

How can you not be a fan of the round robin format? What better way to make sure all the top players play each other?

blah Says:

meh, I guess it’s a good change up when it’s only one tourney at the end of the year. it’s just that usually i find the master series played right before it more exciting than the yec itself…

sensationalsafin Says:

The YEC is a fabulous idea. If the players had more time to rest and be fully fit, then there’d be so many great matches. There’s no waiting for Federer to make it to Murray or whatever, it’s gonna happen. Or Djokovic vs Del Potro, stuff like that.

jane Says:

Well, they don’t always meet for certain, since there are the gold and red groups and still a process of elimination. Last year Djok played Delpo, Tsonga, Simon and Davy but not Fed or Murray since they cancelled each other out and neither made it to the final stage. But I get your drift.

I am generally like blah, and kind of “meh” about the YEC. I have usually felt that it’s anticlimactic. However, for some reason I am looking forward to it this year, maybe because it’s at a new venue, in London, so that’ll create a different atmosphere, and maybe because – and this could just be wishful thinking on my part – the gap is closing between the top 8-10-20-100 guys on the ATP tour, and thus, well, anything can happen! I hope there is a surprise winner there this year. (Probably blah and I are on the same wavelength here, too.)

been there Says:

“I am generally like blah, and kind of “meh” about the YEC.”

I guess I’m also the same. meh. lol. Quite the word for it. For me, the robin round format best works when many teams are going at it…so I prefer it for Davis Cup.

>>But my main problem with the YEC is that I find the ATP really trying to big it up with the whole “WHO will qualify for the world tour final!!”…It’s such a big campaign by the ATP…but in reality, there isn’t any contention or surprises about who qualifies. Ok, maybe for the last two spots, but the remaining ones, not quite….same old, same old. Sure, it’s nice to predict it, & I’ve even gotten carried away by the whole top8 stuff, but that’s about it…just predictions of which 2 players will qualify….& those two spots are gonna be for players who are not mass favourites as such; by that I mean not a Fed or Rafa or Djoko…so it’s not that of a big deal….more like, whoever qualifies, qualifies.

>>And since it only involves 8 players as opposed to the whole ATP, how much excitement can be built for it on a world-wide scale for all tennis fans? e.g. If a French player doesn’t qualify, will the French in general tune in? I feel that although masters have less ranking points, for whatever reason, a masters tourny carries more importance to the players than YEC…maybe unless it’s being held in a particular players country.

For me, YEC is just for prestige & for a top10-15 player to say ‘yeah, I qualified’ than anything else. ‘coz even when they qualify & withdraw, e.g. Rafa last yr…the records still show they qualified…it’s like qualifying is more important than actually playing it…but if it was a masters, then it’s a rather big deal with the player lamenting at his woes & fans ‘mourning’ etc.

The following case just about says it all for me. Notice how players ranked between 10-35 gave excuses when they had an opportunity to attend last year’s YEC. …(via wiki)

“Although the ATP Rulebook states that the two players immediately ranked after the last qualifier at the Masters Cup should be selected as singles alternates, and be present at the event’s location, only two players ranked in the Top 35 of the ATP Race, after Gilles Simon, accepted the invitation to come to Shanghai : 26th-ranked Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, and 35th-ranked Nicolas Kiefer of Germany. Among the twenty-four players who declined to come – because they needed to prepare for the Davis Cup final, for reasons of injury, or to preserve themselves for the next season – were….”

blah Says:

yeah, I agree with jane. the thing about yec is that I don’t think the players care about it that much, whereas the atp is trying to paint it as the most important event outside of the four slams. There are usually alternates and I don’t think the winners are really remembered… who won the 07 yec for example- I can’t recall without looking it up.

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