Roddick, Cilic, and Davydenko off to a Running Start, Murray disappoints at Hopman Cup
by Ben Pronin | January 10th, 2010, 12:34 pm

And the Best Player in the World is…

Nikolay Davydenko. I recently read an article about how in 2002, the official World Number 1 wasn’t the same as the best player in the world. Lleyton Hewitt was number 1 but Andre Agassi was the best. Well, I think that applies for 2010, too. At least right now, since Federer hasn’t been the best since the US Open. Roger Federer might be a living legend, but it’s hard to say he’s the best or most feared player on the ATP. That honor goes Nikolay Davydenko. ADHEREL

The guy beat a lot of the hottest players of 2009 in the World Tour Finals and has continued his success by beating World Numbers 1 and 2, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, to win the 2010 Qatar ExxonMobil Open title in Doha. After nailing 100% of first serves in the first set against Federer, he went on to claim a comfortable 6-4 6-4 victory over the Swiss. This in no way means that Federer’s on the decline (as everyone likes to assume) because I’d like to see anyone beat a professional male tennis player when he’s hitting 100% of first serves.

Then Davydenko performed a true miracle in coming back against the tenacious Nadal after being bageled in the first set and saving two match points in the second. For Nadal, there are some good and bad things to take from this loss. The bright side of this loss is that he finally got close to winning despite losing. This was the first time he won a set in a loss since his loss to Robin Soderling at Roland Garros.

The ugly side is that he choked against a guy who used to be known as a huge choker. But Davydenko is really bull dosing whatever mental blocks he once had. I know this wasn’t a slam or even a Masters event, but give the guy some credit for knocking out Nadal and Federer in his second straight tournament win!

“[In the second set] I started to find my game and started to come back. I should have won the second set at 5-4 with set point, but I didn’t and I was lucky in the tie-break,” said Davydenko. “The match was long, I was really tired, but in the third set I still felt I had some power and maybe I could continue and win the match. I don’t know what happened to him at the end. He tried a winner at 4-4, he didn’t make it and it was 5-4 for me. I think he lost a little bit of concentration and lost the match. For me it was a really good fight today.”

You know a guy is feeling good and confident when he’s saying he should have won at a particular moment against Rafa Nadal.

“Sure, it’s better to win, especially when you have the chance,” said Nadal. “But, that’s tennis and probably this match I needed a little bit more calm. But playing at this level I am sure I’m going to win [a title].” If only he hadn’t choked.”

Roddick no Davydenko, and Neither is Radek…

Andy Roddick claimed his first title since Memphis by beating Tomas Berdych in three sets in the semifinals and then a straight-set-double-tiebreaker win over Radek Stepanek in the finals. Andy Roddick served for the title at 5-1 in the second set, blew that. Then was up 6-1 in the tiebreaker, and almost blew that before winning it 9-7.

“I don’t think I’ve ever squandered a lead where I’ve been putting in first serves and making approach shots,” Roddick said. “And in the breakers it was the same deal. I kept making first serves so that was helping me hold on to the last shred of sanity I had.” 

Nice to see he’s put the Wimbledon final out of his head.

Stepanek said, “I was able to come back from 1-5 down in the second set against a player such as Andy with a tremendous serve, to break him twice in a row… I was fighting until the last point; I never gave up.”

Stepanek’s a real wily player and he’s playing some of his best stuff late into his career. He’s still a jerk.

As far as I’m concerned, this was an absolutely great win for the American. He’s not like Federer or Nadal who rack up big titles year after year. Since roughly 2006, Roddick has been winning about one or two titles a year and they’ve rarely been overly important. This is a great win for him over a few quality players early in the year and it’s especially good after all the tough losses he suffered last year in title matches (Federer at Wimbledon and Del Potro in Washington).

However, Roddick claims his knee isn’t as great as he’d like it to be and I think that any limitations he may have will be a huge factor should he face the top dogs at the Australian Open. As for Stepanek, well, last year he beat Fernando Verdasco to claim this title then suffered a double bagel in the final two sets when they played in Melbourne. This guy will always be a threat in a best of 3-set format, but I don’t see him doing any significant, if at all, damage at the slams.

A Growing Trend?

Marin Cilic successfully defended his title in Chennai when he beat Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in another double-tiebreaker final. Everyone’s saying how great this year is going to be because the competition is so even and everyone is so great and the whole bit. So all these tiebreakers should be expected, no? Even Nadal and Davydenko played a helluva tiebreaker in their final. While the double-tiebreaker thing seems coincidental, I have a feeling there will be no shortage of tiebreakers played throughout this season. I’m going to look up the most tiebreakers ever played in one season and compare it to 2010 at the end of this year.

As for Cilic, it’s always good to see an up-an-comer defend a title (we’re still waiting, Novak). Cilic has been showing real promise since 2008 but had to wait until the 2009 US Open to reach his first slam quarterfinal. I think he surpasses that this year at least once but he hasn’t shown the champion’s mentality the way del Potro did when he broke through in ’08.

After winning, Cilic said, “Starting the year well like this gives me a lot of belief and satisfaction in all the work that I did in the off-season. I’m very proud to defend my title and win twice here. This is the best way possible and gives me a great perspective for the rest of the year. Obviously winning the title here will give me more confidence going into the Australian Open. I’ll have a week off now, go to Melbourne, rest and have a few days of practice before the tournament starts.”

I think he can make some real noise at this year’s first slam.

There’s not much to say about Wawrinka. He’s a good player who’s had good results here and there and has wins over three of the top four, but he’s not a real threat to anything big. He has reached a Masters final and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him reach maybe 1 or 2 more at some point, but I don’t see him winning anything besides some small titles here and there.

Spain wins Hopman Cup over Great Britian…

Because Andy Murray blew it. Despite helping draw large crowds at Perth, Murray really disappointed in losing to Tommy Robredo when he had the chance to clinch the tie. Spain was too good in doubles but I have to say it’s pretty damn hard to win a doubles match when you’re partner is 15 and 4 feet tall and a girl (I thought Laura Robson might get fatally injured every time she served to Robredo).

Murray did dismantle Robredo in the first set before the Spaniard really started going for it. More of the same of being unable to beat aggressive and hot players from the Scot in ’10? I don’t know what he could’ve done differently, to be honest. Robredo just caught fire and was hitting lines off of everything. He could do no wrong. Murray played fairly aggressive but hopefully he’s got more in store when the Australian Open comes around.

Australian Open Predictions:

I’m going to update this at the end of next week and once the draw comes out, but as of right now, I’m going to make some bold predictions. I’m also going to assume the draw will play out in a specific way that is impossible to validate.

Davydenko def Cilic in semifinal 1, Djokovic def Federer in semifinal 2. Djokovic def Davydenko to reclaim Aussie crown.

You Might Like:
Off Season, What Off Season? Early 2010 Player Schedules
Early Road Easy For Federer, Nadal’s Draw Tougher at Wimbledon
Djokovic Reaches SF, Federer v. Roddick Ahead in Shangai
Near Perfect Davydenko Foils Federer-Nadal Final in Doha
Nadal, Federer Lead 7 of Top 8 as ATP Season Begins

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141 Comments for Roddick, Cilic, and Davydenko off to a Running Start, Murray disappoints at Hopman Cup

Kimmi Says:

Ben: You are so transparent. Djokovic will win AO because ___________(fill in the blanks here). Are you basing your predictions on current form or wishfull thinking? He has not even played a match this year yet you think he will win AO. At least Cilic and Davydenko have impressed a little but please…its too early to make any predictions and I will advice you not to even go there.

Kimmi Says:

Agreed with you Ben about Murray. He has no business to lose to Robredo. I watched the match and in the second set Robredo decided to hit his FH as hard as he could. Some of those FHs went out but a lot went in..he just went for broke. I think guys have figured out, if you hit thru Murray, you have a chance..and it working.

Murray needs to continue to be aggressive. He played well in the 1st set but then he started to defend too much in the second, which gave robredo a lot of belief.

I am sure Murray knows what he has to do. He should not lose on hard courts too often to guys ranked below him. (Cilic, stepanek and now Robredo)..maybe I am being harsh on him but Its very worrying to his fans.

anonymous Says:


Why do you feel so offended with Ben’s pick? Just post your prediction with your fav player and that’s it. C’mon Nole, it is Glory Days again!

margot Says:

kimmi: I agree with you, Andy needs to step up now. In the article jane posted greg couch said Andy thinks too much, am inclined to agree. He needs to put his demons aside and just go for it, or else he’s gonna be forever the bridesmaid, which, given his talent, would be a gr8 shame. Miles needs 2 kick a—e!

jane Says:

Great summation of the week’s events Ben; and yes, some bold predictions, considering there is no AO draw yet. ; ) Of course, we’ve had predictions on who will end the year number 1 too, so we’re all taking a few leaps of faith early in the season.

I like your notion about tracking tiebreakers, and would be curious to hear the comparison stat you uncover by year’s end.

I did find the Hopman Cup result to be a let down and hope that Murray gets the final Kooyong spot to get in a few more singles matches before the AO.

been there Says:

A nice read..but just a small correction: on this:
“but I have to say it’s pretty damn hard to win a doubles match when you’re partner is 15 and 4 feet tall and a girl”

Laura Robson is 5ft 10in tall…i.e. as tall as most WTA players & still growing. Taller than or equal to the following top WTA players: Serena Williams (5′ 9″), Kuzzy (5′ 8.5″), Wozniaki (5′ 10″) Azarenka (5’10”), Jankovic (5’ 9.5”), Zvorenava (5’ 7.75”), Radwanska (5’ 8”)…yes, I love numbers.

Also, as with all other mixed doubles events, which the Hopman Cup is, whether a team wins or loses, a man/boy must be matched with a girl/woman…so Murray the boy had no choice but to play but with a girl. Unless the article meant a grown 18yr+ adult woman? But that would have been covered where it says she’s 15 to show how young she is. I’m being picky, but just sayin’….

Kimmi Says:

Anonymous: I am not offended..I am just expressing my views and wondering on what basis his prediction were based on?

rafa Says:

Davydenko def Cilic in semifinal 1, Djokovic def Federer in semifinal 2.

Good joke. :D

If it comes true, you will be called the modern Nostradamus.

Kimmi Says:

been there: “Laura Robson is 5ft 10in tall…i.e. as tall as most WTA players & still growing. Taller than or equal to the following top WTA players: Serena Williams (5′ 9″), Kuzzy (5′ 8.5″), Wozniaki (5′ 10″) Azarenka (5’10”), Jankovic (5’ 9.5”), Zvorenava (5’ 7.75”), Radwanska (5’ 8”)…yes, I love numbers.”

LOL :) Yes, she is tall.

Skorocel Says:

Lu def Cuevas in semifinal 1, Sela def Tursunov in semifinal 2, Sela def Lu in the final after Lu tanks the match because of feeling ill.

LOL :-)

Kimmi Says:

“[In the second set] I started to find my game and started to come back. I should have won the second set at 5-4 with set point, but I didn’t and I was lucky in the tie-break,” said Davydenko.

Yeah, nadal should also have won the match when he has the two match points. You find your only luck davydenkoa..and you did very well in this occassion.

Very humble guy, he always says he won because the other person play bad..not that he played better…I remember when he beat Djokovic in Shanghai, he said Djokovic was a better player in that match…maybe when he win more of these matches he will admit he is a better player. All in all, great win davydenko.

cha cha Says:

You won’t wait long.Djokovic will defend his title in Belgrade. Remember just recently people were saying Djok couldn’t win back to back titles, then he did this year.

Roddick won his first since Memphis. What is that really saying? No one was playing in Memphis and not much was playing in Brisbane.

I think Robson is overrated. She could barely win any of her singles matches at Hopman. She got a WC to Sydney but Serena will knock her out soon.

TomA Says:

Come on mate, Laura is Hewitt’s height, and she’s damn good for her age. Hit an awesome 152km/h forehand winner down the line straight past Robredo in the deciding mixed doubles. So angry at Murray for losing to Robredo….

sportsfan Says:


federer def delpotro
djokovic def nadal

federer def. djokovic

Fot Says:

I think it’s too early to even predict who is going to be in the AO SF’s and F since we haven’t even had the draw yet! lol!

Murray was the ‘hot’ player coming into the AO last year. Now it’s Davydenko. It didn’t help Murray win it and I don’t think it’s going to help Davydenko because he (Davydenko) isn’t confident playing best-of-five set matches throughout 2 weeks. He said it himself. Murray is a pretty good best-of-three set player but he hasn’t proven anything in the slams yet. We haven’t even seen Djokovic or Del Potro play a match yet in 2010. So who knows what will happen! lol!

cha cha Says:

excuse me Robson got a WC to AO.

Fot Says:

I thought someone said Robson got a WC to the “qualifying” AO? She got a wild card right into the main event?

jane Says:

Thanks for posting the S.I. predictions link cha cha; it’s always intriguing to see what the pundits are saying, even if somewhat meaningless in the end. I mean, who knows what’s going to happen! : )

I just hope both Murray and Djoko win a slam, and if possible even Roddick gets another. I kind of hope Djoko repeats at the AO, Roddick gets a Wimbledon and Murray gets the USO. I am somewhat assuming the French is out of contention if Nadal is playing to capacity, as he’ll win it hands down, but if there is a break-through by someone new there, I hope it’s either Djoko, JMDP or Monfils who win it.

Most of the pundits seem to think Fed will win a slam this year, and that does seem likely – perhaps most likely at Wimbledon imo. He was in the final of all of them last year, so it’s tough not to see him win one this year, but something tells me it will be tougher. Maybe not, but the pack is getting hungrier.

Mainly it’ll break my heart if Djok and Murray don’t get one each. </3

Kimo Says:

I like Davy, and there’s no doubt he’s the hottest play in the world right now, but winning a major requires more than just being confident or being hot. It’s something else. Everything has to click in order for you to pull of just one major, which makes Roger and Rafa, especially Roger, in a class of their own. Things click for them often.

Djoko was the hottest player at the end of last year, but he failed to qualify to the Tour Finals semis. Murray was the hottest player going into the Aussie Open last year, he flamed out to a rediscovered Verdasco. Both players aren’t lacking in terms of their belief and their confidence (ok, maybe Djoko doesn’t really believe against Rafa on clay, although I wonder if the two meet on clay right now how things will turn out). Murray is downright cocky, too over-confident for his own good.

So, as much as I like Davy, I don’t think he’ll ever win a major. Someone compared Davy to Nalby when he was in shape, and I think that argument works. He’s like a much fitter Nalby, he has enough talent to trouble the big guys, but not enough to trouble them at majors.

sonic Says:

Amazing how people like to jump on hype band-wagon! Davydenko enjoys a little streak a now he’s best in the world? Even thou only few months ago it was actually Djokovic. I bet you were also thinking Nalbandian is the best in the world when he had his little fall-indoor sweep? Get reall already, we’re talking about a player that never played in a slam final, and god knows he’s been around. He’s mearly the inform player, and he’ll probably end AO like Murray last year…

Cilic…big dissapoinment. Doesn’t seem to have improved at all over the break. Perhaps the conditions were hard, but he’s still so far from the top 6, or even 7, it’s a bit silly to call a SF for him…based on a measly Chennai title. Bet you’ll update the SF list with Sidney winner if it’s a name player. Jeez.

cha cha Says:

FOT you are right, I was wrong. She got WC qualifying.

Von Says:

I haven’t posted on this site for quite a while now and never thought I’d do so again — I still read the posts and articles though. However, it’s difficult to pass on the inane comments written by Ben and his yes followers, the ‘in fan-girls group’. I find some of Ben’s comments in his articles (as was in the past when he was blogging) to be ridiculous, written off the top of his head, comprehension challenged, and as per usual there’s always a put down of players he ‘hates’. vis-a-vis:

“Stepanek’s a real wily player and he’s playing some of his best stuff late into his career. He’s still a jerk.”

Pray tell me Ben, why is Stepanek a jerk? Just because Roddick beat him? I didn’t hear you say Steps was a jerk when he literally didn’t show up at the USO and handed the match on a platter, adorned with every kind of trimming, to your fave, Djokovic. You were just glad he did so, weren’t you?

Additionally, you stated:

“As far as I’m concerned, this was an absolutely great win for the American. He’s not like Federer or Nadal who rack up big titles year after year. Since roughly 2006, Roddick has been winning about one or two titles a year and they’ve rarely been overly important.”

How very magnanimous of you Ben!! It’s not possible to just say Roddick deserved to win and leave it at that, considering he hasn’t played in over 4 months and with an injured knee? You had to ramble on about his wins being unimportant, et al., didn’t you? You’re a prime example of how dangerous a little power can affect one who’s affected.
jane: “Great summation of the week’s events Ben;”

As usual, you run true to form and never disappoint, being a bundle of contradictions, vacillating and swinging like a pendulum in whichever direction you can gain approval! I agree, i disagree, but i see what you mean, however, etc. How boring!!!

Ben put down Roddick’s achievements on winning his title to almost meaningless, and you call that a great summation? I suppose if he had knocked ‘your boy’ you’d not be so quick to say Ben’s summations are great, would you?? You’d be jumping around, and up and down, seeking out and submitting links, coupled with very tedious bit of information you can dig up to justify that he’s great. OY VEY!!

“Roddick won his first since Memphis. What is that really saying? No one was playing in Memphis and not much was playing in Brisbane.”

No kidding!! I suppose 32 players in the draw, and they’re not much?? LOLEST!! Not much was playing at Belgrade either, was there?


I know Roddick’s decision to opt out of Davis Cup was mentioned on another thread, but there are many who are off topic here, so no big deal if I do the same — why would Roddick be afraid of Djokovic or the Serbian crowd booing him? He’s not into hogging the limelight as some players love to do and obsesses about it forever if he’s slighted. Considering Roddick beat Djokovic in their last three (3) matches, why would Roddick be afraid of the Serb? What a load of hog-wash from the pro-Djokovic fan girls!!

Anyway, carry on smart-lessly, as you always do.
Madmax: Do you own Federer?? And, are you the birth mother of his twin girls?? Do try to be objective will ya. However, that’s a bit difficult when one’s in love, isn’t it, as love is BLIND.

Goat Galz Says:

Hey guys, Nurse Ratchet is back. Didn’t take long for nutjob Von to show herself and ruin this forum.

Von Says:

Pavlov’s bell is ringingggggggg!!

jane Says:

Happy new year to you Von. Good win from Roddick, especially because he had to play such a feisty Stepanek. I heard it’s cold in Florida – stay warm.

Goat Galz Says:

I still read the posts and articles though
So the obsessed one reads every post here. Bellevue gives you weekend visits home I see. A complete rest from the internet is the best medicine for you. You make no useful contributions to this site and your only reasons for being here are to insult people.

Do you feel so reviled by your own obnoxious nature that you must take it out on other people? We all get along fine when you are not about. Good riddance.

Ben Pronin Says:

What?? I put down Roddick? Are you kidding me? If anything I thought I was being overly nice to him. I wasn’t even trying to subtly insult the guy. I’m really glad he won because he doesn’t have the luxury of a trophy case that includes all 4 slam trophies. And this is a great start to his year considering he’s been injured and considering he suffered several heartbreaking losses last year.

As for why Stepanek is a jerk, it has absolutely nothing to do with Roddick. I wanted Roddick to win. I watched Stepanek play at the US Open a few years ago and he came off as a real jerk to me. He was playing Potito Starace and my younger cousin somewhat accidentally bumped into both guys before the match and while Starace signed his ball, Stepanek totally blew him off. He also smacked the balls wherever he pleased after he finished his service games, making it unnecessarily difficult for the ball kids. That’s why he’s a jerk.

For those who don’t understand my predictions (Kimmi). First of all, I even said that I realize it’s premature to say anything but I’m just having fun and I’m going to change/update my predictions until right before the event starts. I also didn’t say Davydenko would win the AO, I said he’d get to the final. And why do I think Djokovic will win it? 1) The form he showed at the end of last year. 2) I read that he’s training insanely hard for the upcoming slam. 3) He’s somewhat under the radar and that should help him. Even though he didn’t reach the semis at WTF, he showed great form at the end of the year and I expect more of the same for at least a little while. What’s the harm in making some bold predictions? Wrong or right, who really cares? It has no affect on the actual results.

Von, I totally agree that there’s no reason for Roddick to be afraid of Djokovic. I just don’t understand why you’re going so crazy. I didn’t say Roddick’s win was meaningless. In the long haul of tennis achievements, no one is gonna care that he won Brisbane just like no one is gonna care Federer won Doha way back when. It’s a small title. But it’s great for Roddick. If Nadal had won in Doha, his fans would be jumping up and down claiming he’s gonna go on to win the calendar slam. Roddick isn’t going to win a calendar slam, but he still has at least 1 slam in him and winning a big title starts with winning a small one. Like Federer said, it helps build up momentum and confidence. Therefore, Roddick’s win in Brisbane is, in my opinion, very important for RODDICK going forward.

About the Laura Robson thing, I know I exaggerated her height, but I explained why. When serving the Robredo, I was legitimately scared for her and even Murray (since he was at net sometimes when she served) because I felt like her serve was 5 mph compared to any return from Robredo that looked 5000 mph. The difference between women and men is drastic. But I did like Robson’s overall play. I think she can make some noise if not this year then in the next few years. She hits a heavy ball (for the WTA) for such a young girl.

Ben Pronin Says:

And honestly Von, aren’t you the pot calling the kettle black in regards to madmax. She is a Fed fanatic no more than you are a Roddick fanatic. She defends him (goes overboard often) but she doesn’t make a habit of insulting the crap out of everyone else. Considering I didn’t say anything bad about Roddick…

Skorocel Says:

Ben Pronin: “What’s the harm in making some bold predictions? Wrong or right, who really cares? It has no affect on the actual results.”

Then, why to even make some predictions? ;-) I mean, I can say Sela wins the title, but what if Lu goes on a tear and beats everyone (including Dudi) down? LOL :-) Everybody and his brother knows that Davy, JMDP, and also Djoker have been playing pretty well as of late, whilst the Fed & Nadal duo is still defending 3 out of 4 slams in 2010, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to proclaim them as one of the favourites for the AO, does it?

Von Says:

“She is a Fed fanatic no more than you are a Roddick fanatic.”

No kidding!! As I said, the ‘in-group’ sees no wrong.

Ben, I think you need to read some more, and comprehend also, because I see insults galore written ad nauseam. You must be wearing rose tinted glasses.

Brady aka Goat Galz, Goat girl: Touche’.

Ben Pronin Says:

Like I said, it’s fun. A bunch of distinguished writes predicted winners not only for the AO but for each of the slams. Why can’t I predict the finalists?

Goat Galz Says:

I just don’t understand why you’re going so crazy.
Ben, don’t try to understand nutbag. Von isn’t going crazy, she really IS crazy. She probably sees enemies in her soup. No one here likes her or misses her. She is a control freak who is impotent right now and can’t fathom we all get along just fine without her.

PS You do a wonderful job with your columns.

Von Says:

Ben: Where did I go craz? Did I scratch your eyes out go postal? Get a grip, because you write words you don’t understand or know the meaning therof. I merely stated that Roddick is not afraid of Djokovic nor the Serbian crowd. How’s that going crazy?

Ben Pronin Says:

Von, you wrote a fairly lengthy comment about how I apparently put Roddick down in my post and called people who agreed with me “groupies”. And I never ever said Roddick is afraid of Djokovic or the Serbs.

Goat Galz Says:

Von is screaming for attention. Thankfully her weekend leave from Bellevue is over at midnight. Here’s hoping she will be straitjacketed for the rest of the week.

Ben Pronin Says:

Goat Galz, there’s no need to insult Von directly. I just don’t understand why I was attacked for saying what I said about Roddick.

Von, so, I see no wrong in over defending Federer because I like him? Is that what you’re saying? That’s not true because I’ve told madmax a number of times that I think all the number she mentions about Federer are meaningless. And you’re not even defending Roddick here, you decided I insulted him so you attacked me directly.

Von Says:

Ben: There’s that comprehension problem surfacing again. I DID NOT say you stated Roddick is afraid of Djokovic. I stated the following:

“I know Roddick’s decision to opt out of Davis Cup was mentioned on another thread, but there are many who are off topic here, so no big deal if I do the same — why would Roddick be afraid of Djokovic or the Serbian crowd booing him? He’s not into hogging the limelight as some players love to do and obsesses about it forever if he’s slighted. Considering Roddick beat Djokovic in their last three (3) matches, why would Roddick be afraid of the Serb? What a load of hog-wash from the pro-Djokovic fan girls!!”

I hope you understand and grasp the foregoing, because I stated ‘fan girls’ and I’m hoping you haven’t changed your gender since I last posted here.

Brady/goat Galz: What harmony is there on these threads? Every time I read I see you being blasted by some of the posters for your inane comments, e.g., ‘YOU SUCK’!! Remember that one? Just a few days ago you were blasted for some more of your drivel. Stop sucking up to ingratiate yourself with the crowd — you’re too transparent for it to work!!

BTW, don’t get your knickers twisted and become alarmed that I’ll be posting again — I merely stopped by, because I’m entitled to do so, and will do so as I see fit. And, get this, I’m not running for Ms. Congeniality — I’ll leave that to you and those who want the title. — Translation: I don’t care if I’m missed by you and the ‘harmonious gang’.

BTW, put some lip softener on your worn out lips, as they are now parched from the kissing up you’ve been doing to Ben. Ciao baby!!

Goat Galz Says:

OK Ben, if you want to spar with Nurse Ratchet, go right ahead.

Von Says:


“Since roughly 2006, Roddick has been winning about one or two titles a year and they’ve rarely been overly important.”

The foregoing, to me, is putting down Roddick, whichever way you want to spin it. So, the titles won weren’t big titles, but he did win a title or two every year for the past 10 years, and that in itself is a great achievement! The ATP website praised Roddick’s achievements, so why is there any need for you to mention those titles weren’t ‘overly important’. Do you get my drift, Ben? Sometimes, less is better!!

Anyway, moving on and out!!

Ben Pronin Says:

And you don’t see how it’s good that he already won a title in 2010 to continue his streak of titles each year for a decade?

Von Says:

Brady/Goat Galz/Goat Girl:

Remember this terminology: “Associative Identity Disorder” = multiple personalities = multiple post names. Bellevue awaits, hon!! I see the men in white coats and ambulance waiting by your bridge. Gather up your shopping bags!! I’ve had my laughs for the day. LOOOOL. Catch ya sometime SOON.

Von Says:


I think it’s fantabulous for Roddick’s mind-set to have won a title for this year, albeit ‘not overly important’. Hence, do you get what I’m saying?

Anyway, that’s all I stopped by to say, which could have been resolved from my first post, if you had taken the time to read it, instead of saying I was going crazy by getting the Davis Cup stuff convoluted.

Ben, and believe it or not, I do find some of your articles very illuminating and insightful. But, then again, I’m sure you remember I always praised your posts when you were blogging.

Dan Martin Says:

Ben, I am holding off any semifinal predictions until I see the draw. Davydenko could be slated to play Federer or Djokovic in the quarters and Cilic could face any of the three in the round of 16. If Novak plays Cilic in the 4th round and then Davydenko in the quarters to reach a semi against Federer, then those four players can’t be the final four. The odds of all four players winding up in 4 different quarters of the draw seems as low.

Dan Martin Says:

(edit from above) “seems as low” should read seems low.

Ben Pronin Says:

I know that’s why I made sure to mention that it’s very possible the draw could work out in a totally different way.

To be honest, one thing about Davydenko is that he’s no Federer or Nadal in that he can be upset in the early stages. It doesn’t happen to him often but who knows. Hell, who knows about any of this.

jane Says:

margot, Kimmi – f.y.i., just read that Andy Murray will be taking what I think (?) is the final spot at Kooyong, which is good news, as he can get in another singles match or two before the AO begins.

blah Says:

good to see everything is back to normal. I agree that steps is jerk. I don’t think davydenko has what it takes to make it that far in five setters, but I think cilic isn’t that far off from doing so. I don’t think this is Roddick’s slam. Out of the title winners this week: I would say cilic, roddick, davydenko, in that order have the best chance at ao. Maybe we could get one semifinalist out of that group, I think two is pushing it, especially with the draw and what not. Until federer loses before the semis, I am always going to put him as one of the final four. I still don’t buy murray and with nadal it depends on who he runs into in the draw.

Rick Says:

Since his return, Nadal does so poorly to play against the top 10! As for Federina, I think you guys have underestimate the damage did to him at the US Open. Probably as serious as his 2008 Wimbledon final defeat! And also the defeat at the final of Swiss Indoor! A tournament that he once owned! Fed Allstop hasn’t really been the same since those loses!

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Good point Rick. Because after that Wimbledon 2008 defeat, Fed has only been in 5 straight grand slam finals and won 3 of them. Here’s hoping that USO loss affects him so terribly.

Long Live The King Says:

Good one TV :)

Hi Von…. happy new yr :)

rsp Says:

fed came back after wimbledon 2008 to win the next grand slam, the US Open! So Rick, I am not sure if I understand you, but I think you just predicted that fed will win this Aus open :)

madmax Says:

I’ve only just noticed this thread, and want to wish you Von, a happy, healthy New Year. I really do. I dont know why you want to bring my name into conversations on this forum when you havent been here a while, so I guess I must have made an impression on you – good or bad – I am sorry you dont like what i have had to say.

Yes. I admit it. I enjoy and love watching Federer play. But in case you didnt know or were aware, I am not “in love” with him. There is a huge difference Von. And didnt you mention that you were some kind of psychologist? This being the case, shouldnt you work on your own “psyche” and try and work out why you want to project such bad thoughts on other players and posters?

I dont mean to be mean Von, at all but I dont like the nastiness which occasionally creeps in on this forum – but I have been told to ignore and to stay calm and to try and grow a thicker skin –

Von says:

which isMadmax: Do you own Federer?? And, are you the birth mother of his twin girls?? Do try to be objective will ya. However, that’s a bit difficult when one’s in love, isn’t it, as love is BLIND.

January 10th, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I loved reading your long, insightful posts on tennistalk, Von. You are very much missed over there, especially by Native and I do hope you return one day.

I also hope we can have some meaningful conversations which dont become personal, the way you have made them.

All the best Von.


The very fact that you may think I am “over the top” at times, is called enthusiasm and passion. Something that I have for tennis. I dont need to put on airs and graces to be the person that I am. I’ll remember next time not to enjoy reading your articles or comment on them in a positive way as I feel, you may becoming a bit too big for your boots. What a pity. You never used to be this way.

Nina Says:

Proud of being a Djokovic fan girl! :)

@Ben… I agree with your predictions 100%. Great post.
@Jane… Don’t worry, I’m completely and utterly positive that both Murray and Novak will win some if not many slams. They are very young and talented and it’s a matter of time until Fed starts losing his form.

Kimmi Says:

jane: re Kooyong. I am glad Murray is playing. It is a good draw to practice with…Yes, one week more to go, can’t wait for the AO.

Voicemale1 Says:

Murray is now playing Kooyong because Federer declined to accept the last spot they’d been holding for him. First dibs on his spot allegedly went to Roddick, who passed after winning Brisbane – feeling he’s got enough under him. The Hopman Cup is more a training ground for the Women than the Men – Murray faced no other Top 10’s there. If he plays Kooyong he’ll face a bunch of them. So in a way Kooyong is an after thought for Murray.

Voicemale1 Says:

Ben Pronin Says:

“To be honest, one thing about Davydenko is that he’s no Federer or Nadal in that he can be upset in the early stages. It doesn’t happen to him often but who knows. Hell, who knows about any of this.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Evidently, Davydenko does. Regarding his chances at winning a Major Title, he was asked to assess his own chances about that after he won the YEC in Londaon. “If they make them best of three (sets)”, said the Russian. He knows all too well that his chances of winning 7 Best of 5 Set matches over two weeks are slim to none. After winning Doha, he oddly complimented Nadal in a backhanded way, saying that when he was as “on” as he was in the First Set there’s not much anyone can do; then he saw Nadal lose his concentration and start making more errors. It’s like saying he hung in there because he figured Nadal might lose this match to him, which he did. But if Davydenko had to win a 3rd Set from Nadal that night, all bets would’ve been off. That’s his issue at the Majors.

He’s 28 now, and his best chances to win a Major were at the French Open twice: 2005 and 2007. He made the SF’s both times. In 05 he had Puerta on the ropes, losing a heart breaker in the 5th that day. In 07 he actually had Federer dead to rights. Kolya was up a break in every set before the occasion got to him and he started choking, squandering the leads he worked so hard to build. How ironic that he has the belief now to beat Federer & Nadal over three sets (and he’s been helped by Federer’s coming down to earth over the last two years), but no longer has the legs to do it over five sets, as he so flatly pointed out in London. If he doesn’t like his chances to win a Major, I don’t know how anyone else could.

Gordo Says:

Ben –

Nice posting. It is good to see you settling in.

It’s not premature to pick who may win the AO but it is a tad quirky to pick how the semis and the final will go prior to the draw being set, because out of Davydenko, Cilic, Djokovic and Federer we could possibly see all 4 in the top half of the draw.

But that’s okay – you did say you were going to update it after the draw came out, and this is a good way for us to see how you are leaning.

Everyone else – I am not sure where you are reading that Ben is anti-Roddick, but I don’t see that at all.

As for predictions – remember last year at this time everyone was dubious of Federer and after he lost the AO final to Rafa it was “He’s done.” Well, 2/3 of subsequent 2009 Slam trophies have Federer’s name on them. Call him arrogant, call him boring, call him spotty, just don’t call him not up for a Slam. Like it or not, he is the most consistent Grand Slam achiever in the history of the game (22 consecutive semi-finals). That streak may be broken this year, but I for one would not bet against it.

jane Says:

The Davydenko/Fed semi-final at the USO in 2007 was interesting. I believe Davy was up a break in 2 of the 3 sets (one was a rout) but I remember watching it, and every time he’d get a break he’d be broken right back. His serve was, if not atrocious, very weak. So he couldn’t back up his breaks or his great groundstrokes. He lost two of the sets 5-7. I remember thinking then that if he had had a decent serve he might’ve had a slim chance, if not to win it, at least to push it to 4, maybe even 5 sets.

His serve has improved now, and that could be what’s making the difference, in addition to increased confidence? In any case, if he himself thinks he can’t win a slam, I’d question his chances.

Gordo Says:

Jane –

Good point. But don’t forget that Federer’s serve was remarkably absent when he played Davydenko in the semis in Doha.

Fed’s game these days goes with his serve. His serve saved him several times last year, most noticeably at Wimbledon, where if he had not hammered out – what was it – 51 aces? – Roddick would have won that match.

If Federer’s serve is on then Davydenko has problems even winning a set against him.

I may be proven wrong later this year, but we’ll see.

margot Says:

jane, and kimmi too: good news that Andy is playing Kooyoong and will get some more practise in. A v. good article in today’s paper. Andy says that “…this is probably the best I’ve felt going into the start of the year.” Also, he’s been doing a lot of work on his forehand to add more power and spin. Apparently it was his best shot when he was a junior. Fingers crossed.
jane: emailed Dan Crouch re his predictions and got such a nice reply. He too is a member of the “Murray Drives ME Insane” club. Must be at least half a dozen of us here…..

Voicemale1 Says:


Regarding Murray and his forehand. If it was his “best shot” in the Juniors, then that tells you the world of difference between the Junior Majors and the Pros. It’s highly doubtful his Forehand went away or got worse; he just found out how poor it was when compared to guys who make a living off that shot. Truthfully, no matter what he does to improve it, it’s not likely to ever become the shot to equal Federer’s, Nadal’s, Del Potro’s or even guys like Verdasco and Gonzo. You have to already have that quality of shot by the time you get to the Pro’s and THEN tweak it or refine it. It’s too much to expect muscle memory to take hold and learn a brand new way to hit a forehand during the short time of an “off season” – it takes years for that to manifest fully into a player’s game.

He’ll need something to get over the hump at the Majors, that’s for sure. Jimmy Arias pointed out the problem Murray has had in these Best of 5 Matches: the deeper he goes into the tournament, he still essentially waits for the better players to lose the match to him. And that’s exactly because he doesn’t have that Killer Shot to dictate points. Every players level drops during a match, and when that happens in a Best of 5 it’s a huge advantage to have a big forehand you can keep blasting away with to change things. If you’re a counter puncher like Murray you have no real recourse when your level drops. You end up having to hope guys lose to you by their level dropping farther than yours does. Look at who he lost to at the Majors last year: Verdasco, Gonzalez, Roddick and Cilic – all of whom basically either hit or served him off the court.

I’ll be curious to see what he does in 2010, since his 2008 season led everyone to proclaim him the Next Best Thing and that’d he’d win at least 1 major last year. He’s now fallen to #5 from a high of #2 six months ago. I’m not sure – but I don’t think guys like him or Djokovic are helped much by their Coaching Entourages – complete with a Head Coach, a Specialty Shot Coach or Specialty Surface Coach, and numerous other “personnel” around them giving advice. Seems like a lot of clutter for the brain with that many voices rattling around inside your head during every match. Maybe these two would be better served by picking one coach and sticking with them through hell and high water.

Goat Galz Says:

I’ve had my laughs for the day. LOOOOL. Catch ya sometime SOON.

I rest my case.

sar Says:

Ditto from a complete Djokovic fan girl.

jane Says:

Gordon “Fed’s game these days goes with his serve. ” To a degree it certainly seems to, though he’s got a strong second serve so is still able to hang in even if the first serve isn’t firing. As for the Roddick loss at Wimbledon, sure the 51 aces helped, but Andy will be regreting that missed volley from here to enternity. ; )

margot! So glad to hear you received a reply from Mr. Crouch – with a name like that you’d think he might be low profile. Ha. Anyhow, I loved his article mainly because of the dead pan humour, but there are some keen insights there none the less. Cheers.

jane Says:

Sorry that should be Gordo – forgive, it’s early!

jane Says:

VM1 says “Look at who he lost to at the Majors last year: Verdasco, Gonzalez, Roddick and Cilic”

Oh wow – I hadn’t noticed the pattern but now that I see those names lined up, one certainly can’t help thinking he’s got an issue with big hitters: serves/forehands.

I wonder why he has done so well against Fed then? Maybe it’s a match up thing? Or perhaps it’s the 3-set issue.

Anyhow … interesting point VM1. Will be watching for that now.

Ben Pronin Says:

Regarding the junior-to-pro transition, VM1 is completely right that a best shot in the juniors could very easily be a terrible shot in the pros. Look at how good Young was (is?) in the juniors and how much trouble he has on the ATP. Monfils also took a while to get comfortable as a pro after dominating the juniors. You look at a player like Querrey who would lose to Young because of consistency but has had quite a lot of success in the pros because he has raw power.

I’m a tad bit confused as to why Davydenko can’t manage in best of 5s. The guy has always been supremely fit, is it because he wouldn’t be able to close it out?

I don’t know about Murray and his coaches, but Djokovic has been saying that he’s been spending a lot of time with Todd Martin. It seems like he’s the main coach right now and that’s who Djokovic is listening to primarily at the moment. Martin is a pretty clear-headed guy so he could help Djokovic maintain clarity as well.

Just out of curiosity, does anyone here believe that a kill shot can be a stroke that’s NOT a forehand? All the experts and critics are saying that Murray needs to develop a weapon in order to end points sooner. But when they say weapon, would a killer backhand suffice? I personally doubt it. How many (multiple) slam champions had a huge backhand and not-so-good forehand? Better yet, how many players won majors when their forehands weren’t clicking?

Madmax, how am I becoming too big for my boots? Why even bother justifying that you’re enthusiastic and passionate? I know you’re a huge Federer fan and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that since you never directly attack anyone on this forum. You also don’t randomly accuse people of insulting Federer, you rightfully accuse people who wrongfully criticize Federer and start predicting the very worst for him. I don’t see where you got offended by me…

margot Says:

Voicemale 1: I always appreciate your comments/observations and did so re Andy. Am inclined to agree that you can’t develop a “killer” but can surely improve on all shots? Look at Roddick. And completely agree re coach. He needs a new one and fast, it’s all too cosy round Andy at the mo. But he is a very stubborn young man and I rather think does not take kindly to be told what to do. But here am I going into his head!! Silly me! Only he knows what goes on there..
jane: did I mistype? Think it’s “Couch.”

margot Says:

Ben: also take your point about adapting to pro tennis but Andy is still only 22 so I live in hope. Many players seem to get better and better, either psychologically or game wise, as they mature, Messrs Davydenko and Soderling being cases in point.

Ben Pronin Says:

I didn’t say Murray can’t improve. Clearly he’s had fairly minimal issues transitioning to the pros (he is number 4 in the world, after all). I was more or less generalizing with a few examples. Murray is leagues above Young, Querrey, and Monfils.

margot Says:

But in two ticks he’s gonna be numero 5!! Sob!!
And yes, he’s heaps better than those but, as we all agree, the slams the thing.

jane Says:

margot, perhaps you wrote Couch, but that works ironically too. ; ) Anyhow, keep the faith alive re: Murray. I agree with Nina above. I do think (and certainly hope) he’ll win a slam; it’s just a matter of time.

Voicemale1 Says:

jane Says:

“I wonder why he (Murray) has done so well against Fed then? Maybe it’s a match up thing? Or perhaps it’s the 3-set issue.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Up to now I always had thought of Murray’s game as essentially the dissection of the other guy’s strength – but that’s it. I’d have to go back and look at their matches again, but what I remember is that for a while there, Murray was very successful at getting Federer to play Low Percentage Shots too often. Murray was able to force Federer to either play his Forehand from his backhand court Down The Line (to avoid the Murray Backhand), or get stretched so wide on his Forehand side that he had to go cross court from a weak court position. And it wasn’t just continuous east west movement – Murray was good at throwing in enough north south stuff to keep Federer continually off balance. He was successful at preventing Federer from running around his backhand to hit his forehand with any real authority. When Federer’s movement was slowing down a bit, Murray constructed his game around that; he created the holes in the court to hit into when he played Federer. He also gave Federer a lot of Junk and watched the errors pile up.

Federer’s just onto those patterns now, and moving better than he was when he was being exploited for it. It’s highly unlikely Federer will lose to Murray in a Major. And I’d say now even in the Best of 3 events he’s unlikely to be as bamboozled as he used to be. That’s why he’s won their last two meetings.

margot Says:

jane: thought “couch” was quite funny, as in “couch potato.” I do keep the Andy flag flying, but good job I like many other players too. My wishes for slams this year are: Murray, Djko, Tsonga and Daydenko and if I’m really truly honest the most likely of those is Djko, at the F.O.?

madmax Says:

your post at 9.10 Ben:

“She defends him (goes overboard often)”-

I dont really want to become involved in your “conversation” with Von, Ben. I dont like nasty posters. But I dont think I go overboard – how can being positive and enthusiastic and respecting other posters favourite players be “overboard” ben? You are a forum writer now and to be fair, if any criticism can be levelled at you, isnt discussion supposed to be by the posters on this blog?. If anyone goes overboard with their comments, then it has to be you because you love debating your own article!!!!

You are on both sides of the fence now Ben, and I try really hard to understand everyone’s point of view. I just dont see how someone who I have had limited conversations with (Von), can be so nasty. But there you go.

I really would like to get things back on track and discuss the forthcoming AO, becuase that is far more exciting to me – (now I am worried about going “overboard”!).

Peace Ben.

Ben Pronin Says:

And here I thought I was defending you when Von started attacking you out of nowhere.

I do go overboard in debating my own articles. But I don’t do it on purpose. I just like to talk about tennis, now I happen to be able to start the debate myself.

madmax Says:

i love you ben. you know i do. if you were defending me, then thank you. but you know where i am coming from. i know you love talking about tennis, remember, i suggested you enter the competition at TT? we’re fine ben.enjoy your evening/afternoon/morning. I cant change the enthusiastic person I am. It’s me.

jane Says:

margot, imo? Djok’s best shot would be another hard court slam. He could maybe win the FO if by some miracle he didn’t have to face Rafa. Fed could be a problem too. But if there was a surprise final I’d give him a very good shot – he does well on clay and has been in two FO semis. However, even better, he’s won the AO and been to the final of the USO, with the only person to stop him in the last 3 years at the USO being Fed, so that’s why I think his best shot is at a hard court slam. I know he wants to win the European slams though, particularly Wimbledon.

madmax Says:

Here is a preview on all players tennis.x posters, to ponder and debate away. catch you all tomorrow.

(the article includes murray, novak, ferrer, davy, roddick).

Goat Galz Says:

I just dont see how someone who I have had limited conversations with (Von), can be so nasty.
Madmax: Unfortunately you have now experienced what many have known about Von for a long time.
By the way, Fed will get back on track and win two GS’s.

sar Says:

Jane, here is the site for Novak’s clothes. I heard they dropped Flavia and Tommy Robredo has changed clothing sponsors from Sergio Tacchini to LOS clothing.

mary Says:

Von: Happy to see you back! I thought of you when Roddick beat Sexy over the weekend. Despite the god awful calls, both played well.
It’s best Roddick won b/c my laptop would have melted from the Sexy worm slithering if Sexy won. I think you can trace global upheaval from the unbridled heat wafting through the atmosphere from Sexy’s worm dance.
Hopman Cup:
Hobson more than held her own against Robredo during the final mixed doubles. I look forward to watching her in the AO.

I don’t like to pick finalists for the AO because it truly is the WTF Open, which, in my opinion, makes it the best one.

Daniel Says:

Now that Von is back, other oldies (not age related) bloggers could return also. I remember zola and grendel having a big discussion concerning Davy being unable to beat an inform Nadal way back in Miami 2008.

Anyhow, different points of views are always valid, even when we don’t hear what we want to.

Nice to have you back Von, I always thought nobody should stop posting in this blogs no matter the reason. I as a Fed fan muyself even miss “Fed is afraid” and his sharp coments every time Fed is beaten! :)

Ben Pronin Says:

That’s quite a memory you have, Daniel. People get upset around here because it’s so pro-Federer but how can it be more balanced with all the other fans leaving?

Kimmi Says:

I wonder what happened to Zola..

jane, are you watching some live tennis. Serena vs Maria Sanchez are on at the moment. I remember they had a good match in the US Open R16 I think. And that other controversial match at Roland Garros. Hopefully we get another good match.

Safina just won against the older Radwanska, she started really bad..5-0 to Radwanska..then she found her game and came back winning 7 straight games..she seem to be moving well.

jane Says:

Hey Kimmi, I wasn’t watching, no, but maybe I’ll try to tune in to some. Yes, I wonder about zola too; grendel pretty much announced his intentions so he’s off enjoying the tennis from his armchair, as we know. But where did zola go??

jane Says:

sar – just saw that link. I think I will have to wait and see it live to make a judgment call. But I read somewhere he’s still using his adidas shoes, so Duro, who was so worried, can rest assured that his success won’t be foil by faulty footwear.

Kimmi Says:

I can’t find streaming from Kooyong matches, are they playing…or maybe not started?

Ben Pronin Says:

Starts next Wednesday, unfortunately.

Kimmi Says:

Commentator is saying, its 40 celcius on the court in sydney, very humid they sure get very hot during this time of the year.

Kimmi Says:

Thanks ben. Wednedsday will be tommorrow evening here.

jane Says:

Kimmi, I posted on the other thread that the forecast for the coming week in Melbourne (I could see temps up until the 18th) looks like it will cool down somewhat with temperatures around 29-25 degrees and with some scattered showers. Hopefully, it’ll be in this ballpark once the AO begins as well.

mary Says:

Ben, are you under the opinion that Murray et. al. will be doing double tournament duty?

Kimmi: Check these links. One, or more, usually carries the matches during the season for most of the tournys at every level. Feel free to watch Sydney and Hobart now.
Fromsport is the best to use, so start at the top.

There are some others, but these are the ones I get in the US. There’s no downloading involved.

Would it be possible to have a permanent link to the live streaming sites? As I mentioned above, these are good for the year.

Kimmi Says:

aha, I did not see your post. 29-25 not too bad. yes, hopefully it cools off even some more. Its just above 30 in sydney at the moment but the courts are always about 10 degrees hotter…

sar Says:

Wow, Bryans got knocked out in the first round in NZ.

Kimmi Says:

mary thank. I have used some of those before. Espn360 does not work in canada. But I will make sure to bookmark all the others.

I am watching WTA thru at the moment..they are showing sydney WTA.

Hope we will get good coverage on TV in Canada for the AO..fingers crossed.

Kimmi Says:

Serena won easily this time. No problems at all.

sar Says:

No, who does she play next?

Kimmi Says:

All seeds are out in serena’s half. Zvonareva, JJ, and will be unseeded player to the final.

jane Says:

Did you see when they called “foot fault” on Serena? The crowd kind of gasped and then snickered. And the announcers said the serve would’ve been an ace. Anyhow, Serena better nip that foot fault issue in the bud before the AO. I must say, she looked very fit and seemed to be moving well around the court.

tenisbebe Says:

Skorocel says: “Everybody and his brother knows that Davy, JMDP, and also Djoker have been playing pretty well as of late, whilst the Fed & Nadal duo is still defending 3 out of 4 slams in 2010, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to proclaim them as one of the favourites for the AO, does it? “ Hear, hear Skorocel!!!

Jane says: “He (Djokovic) could maybe win the FO if by some miracle he didn’t have to face Rafa. Fed could be a problem too.” Jane, I just don’t see Novak winning a best 3 of 5 2-week clay court tournament, namely the FO, even if he didn’t have to face Rafa or Federer. Obviously, the AO is his best shot at winning another major.

btw, saw Nadal vs Ferrer (missed the final, rats) SF from Abu Dhabi (first I’ve seen him since 1st match at YEC) and was struck how much Rafa’s HC game has improved, particularly his serve – he really mixed it up well in that match. His groundie’s were flat & penetrating and he really hugged the baseline. I thought his game looked great and I am psyched for his chances at AO. You all have maybe already discussed this on another thread but he’s got alot of points to defend….

jane Says:

Hey tenisbebe – no eh? He did well on clay last year at the MS events (reaching a couple of finals before the marathon semi in Madrid) and he has been to the semis twice at the FO, only to be stopped by Rafa, so I maintain that his chances are pretty good, particularly if there are some upsets (as mentioned).

But yeah. I agree with you that his best chances are at the hard court slams: AO (or imo USO too).

Ben Pronin Says:

Why can’t Djokovic win the FO? He’s easily the third best and arguably the second best clay courter in the world. He’s got to the QFs, SFs, SFs of the FO from 06-08. The Madrid SF against Nadal took a lot out of BOTH guys which contributed to their early losses at the FO. But still, why can’t he win the FO? I’d say as of right now he’s got a better shot there than Wimbledon, although he wants Wimbledon more.

tenisbebe Says:

Jane – Hi ya. Happy New Year!! Yes I am aware of his successes in the MS clay tourney’s (2 of 3) & his 2 semis but just don’t see him being able to go all the way. Your boy really came on in the fall, the YEC not withstanding, so you have to be hopeful that he has more than a good shot.

jane Says:

tenisbebe, Happy 2010 to you to! Yep, am keeping the hope alive for Djok and Murray this season; would be thrilled to see them each get a slam. Like you, I also hope to see Nadal back to form; I didn’t see the exo matches, but he looked strong in the Davy match last weekend, particularly in the first set. I thought that he may’ve retreated a bit too far behind the baseline as the match wore on, and his first serve went off a little in the final set, but either he or Davy could’ve won that match; it was extremely close. The commentators compared his court positioning versus Davy in Shanghai to this recent match, and while he’d only spent 10% of match time on or inside the baseline in the former, it was more like 25% in the latter. So he’s making the adjustments.

Kimmi Says:

“The Madrid SF against Nadal took a lot out of BOTH guys which contributed to their early losses at the FO’

I don’t believe you guys are using this match as the factor for both Nadal and Djoker losing early at RG. Why are you making these professional players to be so weak..That match was best of 3 in a master series..not even a final..not even a GS. If these players can be affected by a match like that then we could all say DOHA match is going to cost both davydenko and Nadal at the australian open?

jane Says:

You don’t mean me do you Kimmi? I never said that. While I agree that the match/loss took a lot out of them since it was long, brutal and full of great rallies, I don’t think it’s to blame for their early FO losses. They had a week or more to recover physically. Now, it may’ve tweaked Nadal’s tendonitis but that’s a chronic condition. I do know that the loss affected Djoko mentally (his confidence) for a while as he’s stated as much in interviews. He felt he’d played so well and yet still lost. I think that’s when he began saying that defeatist “born in the wrong era” stuff. He was disheartened. (I guess Fed must’ve felt that in some of his losses to Rafa as well.) But Djok’s over that now, and I think Martin helped him get over it.

tenisbebe Says:

Kimmi says: “I don’t believe you guys are using this match as the factor for both Nadal and Djoker losing early at RG. Why are you making these professional players to be so weak.” Well I didn’t post what you are referring to above however, I do believe what many, many pundits pointed out that the match was very emotionally & psychologically draining for both players and that it did affect their performance in the FO – not an excuse, an explanation. And it wasn’t at the beginning of the season but rather at the end of an intense clay court season.

jane Says:

It’s worth pointing out that while that match was “not even a final..not even a GS,” as you note Kimmi, it was nevertheless cited in a number of 2009 tennis recap articles as one of the best matches of the year, and it was also very long (longer than some grand slam matches) — even if some of that length was due to the slow serving rituals etc, there were also several outstanding rallies. So I don’t think it’s really that comparable to the Davy/Nadal one. That was a good match but I doubt it’ll be touted as one of this year’s best. : )

tenisbebe Says:

Jane – read on another post that Novak is working almost exclusively with Todd as of this moment. What’s the scoop with Marian? On vacation or do you suspect Djoko is trying to distance himself? I was so surprised (and pleased) when Martin was hired by Team Nole. He’s such a good egg and hopefully will be a calm, insightful and positive voice in that camp.

Ben Pronin Says:

Kimmi, well Jane kinda said it for me. I meant it took a toll on Nadal and Djokovic mentally. I’ve often said that I think it’s bs to give players the excuse that they’re tired or whatever. But more on that later. Djokovic admitted that it took him a while to get over that loss. Both him and Nadal had similar expressions in their losses at RG, sorta listless, like “what’s the point of even being here today?” kind of look.

But to be a little fair, that match was 2, no, 3.5 sets shorter but only 13 minutes shorter than the 09 Wimbledon final. And it was on clay. That’s pretty draining.

tenisbebe Says:

Jane says: “…and it was also very long (longer than some grand slam matches)…” Wasn’t it like 5 hours and 14 minutes long or something nuts? Now I’ll have to look it up.

jane Says:

tenisbebe, I know Martin will not travel throughout the year with Djoko, so I assume he’ll come in a key times in the season (i.e, the slams) as well as being present throughout the USA swings. For example, Martin was not around (as far as I could see) during the late fall swing, though he did go to London to watch the WTF. So Marian is still in the mix. But I am happy about the addition of Martin too. I know some people think it’s might be “too many cooks” in the kitchen or whatever, but I think some players work well on their own, some with one stalwart coach, and others with a team. Hey – whatever works.

Kimmi Says:

ooops, I should not have generalize it..Ah, it was Ben who said that.

I really don’t think nadal was affected by that match emotionally at all. he has been involved in bigger matches than that. I think Nadal problems were soderling to a larger degree and his knees.

Djoker problems..I find it strange that he would say this match took his confidence away, jane. He lost bigger matches from winning position before..US open final from federer etc…Anyway..maybe he was gunning too much to beat nadal on clay …but strange to say the least

See you guys tomorrow

Kimmi Says:

One more thing before I go.

jane: “….and it was also very long (longer than some grand slam matches)”

Was it federer who was saying that match was very long because both guys takes too long between point?

I just thought I should bring federer’s point could be a point to consider when making an argument if you think about it..

Ben Pronin Says:

I think Djokovic’s situation was similar to Roddick’s several years back. Roddick expanded so much energy and focus to beat Federer that he kinda lost his way elsewhere. Djokovic worked so hard to beat Nadal on clay and he came as close as possible yet still lost. Not exactly the same but similar, I think.

Long Live The King Says:

Agree with Kimmi. Rafa has played out bigger matches and turned up fine.

Djoko has been sucking at slams since 08 wimbledon. has looked listless and abject in all GS losses beginning with the loss to safin.

tenisbebe Says:

Kimmi – I said this before during the summer but I think Rafa’s problem’s were his knees and his parents breakup (he just didn’t look into that match) and of course an onsong Soderling who took advantage and attacked, attacked, attacked.

jane Says:

LLTK – I thought Djoko’s loss to Fed in the USO 2008 wasn’t bad but I agree with you on the rest of them. He has looked pretty crappy at his losses in the slams.

Kimmi – I already brought up the point about the long serving rituals in my 12:15 post. Sure, they are both slow servers, but the match was still really long and well contested.

As for the loss of confidence thing, I don’t find it strange. Because he felt he was getting close to beating Rafa on clay and that match showed that he was; he played so well, had match points, he even won more points in the match, but still, after all that, he lost. Plus his H2H with Rafa was getting more and more lopsided. He’s met Rafa in more matches than Fed, in tons of them. So I don’t think he sees his losses to Fed in quite the same light. Keep in mind too that Rafa, age-wise, is Djok’s contemporary, so maybe that makes the rivalry more charged? I can see reasons why that loss took a lot out of him.

But it’s done and dusted.

Can’t wait for the AO. Doubt I’ll follow much of Kooyong unless I get the chance. But very much look forward to the Happy Slam.

jane Says:

Ben @ 12:44 – interesting analogy. I can see the similarity.

Long Live The King Says:

Good comparision ben.@ 12:44. He had a similar loss in Hamburg 08 and turned up fine.

I just think he doesnt handle the favorite tag well. he plays the under dog role well, but when he is touted favorite, he has misfired a little too often. After madrid he was anointed as 2nd best clay-courter (not by me) and i feel he succumbed to the pressure.

He’s the sort of guy who finds it easy 2 reach the top, but cant stay there 4 long.

Long Live The King Says:

Jane @ 105:

Djoko appeared clueless in the match. with the NY crowd firmly with Roger, he didn’t look like he wanted to win. it’s the best of all those GS losses i mention, but still falls in the “listless, y am i here” category.

I would say in his GS performances, he doesn’t look purposeful :(

Hoping he changes that in 2010 :)

Speaking of that match, fed hit a totally awesome shot

Ben Pronin Says:

There’s a pretty big silver lining for Djokovic. He was fairly listless in all of those GS losses since the Wimbledon shocker and yet the score lines were usually very close. He took the second set off of Federer in 08 and had chances in the third before fading away. He took the first set off Roddick by outclassing him in the tiebreaker in their 09 AO match. He was up 4-1 in the first set against Kohls before going blah. He lost a tight 4-setter against Haas at Wimbledon claiming nerves as a problem. And a lot of people said despite the close score, Djokovic never looked like he had a shot at winning against Fed at the USO. Nonetheless, the score was pretty damn close.

Djokovic is incredibly talented and, unlike Davydenko, I believe he can beat anyone on any given day in best of 3 AND best of 5 set matches. He’s young, he’s getting more fit day by day, and he’s got a great all around game. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it, Djokovic is the only other player besides Fed and Nadal who is legitimately good, if not great, on ALL surfaces.

contador Says:

madmax, kimmi, jane, been there, huh, and everybody – i have missed reading since you the yec!

busy as i am now, gonna try to get my tennis fix in, can’t miss the AO action, tho watching live really is dangerous for my day job!

love ya’ll!

i predict rafa will defend his title in melbourne, unless nolee is super fit, confident and conditions are right for him as in 2008.

much as i love feddy, madmax, i have to wonder how he remains motivated….let’s hope he suprises us, right?

and if not rafa, an argentine or frenchie to win FO

madmax. i am a totally crazy for the winter olympics–starling soon too! xo, contador- love watching all the ski events.

roddick, please, oh please win wimbledon for once

Ben Pronin Says:

Just had to post this clip. It’s 10 minutes of highlights from the Brisbane final between Henin and Clijsters. Absolutely incredible tennis. This clip has pushed me 10 steps in the direction of becoming a real fan of women’s tennis.

margot Says:

jane: was at FO (uh..hem..!)two years ago when Rafa was on fire. Is my memory playing tricks or was it not Djko who was the only player to make Rafa break sweat? Fed was certainly murdered there.

blah Says:

I watched those highlights and wow, that was a great match. probably best women’s match in a while. a couple more matches like this andd these two could make wta watchable again. glad to see clijsters win it after that backhand was called out.

Nina Says:

My guess… if weather conditions are good in Melbourne (and I believe that’s a very important factor), Nole will do great in the AO and possibly win the title. But I think only Nadal and Federer are the other real contenders and maybe Delpo.

Kimmi Says:

Contador: happy new year.
We share those feelings for federer but deep down I am hoping he surprises us.

Ben: i saw the clip and part of the live match (third set). It was amazing the way they hit the ball. Very high quality was a shame somebody had to lose. Hopefully we get some great matches like that in the AO. These two are definetly the one to beat.

jane Says:

margot, yep, Djok was the only to push him to a tiebreak, but it was still at straight set loss. Rafa murdered everyone at the FO that year!

Hi contador. Happy new year to you. Looking forward to some of the Olympics events as well!

LLTK – Djok seems to have had a problem handling pressure in the past (i.e., being the favorite). Sometimes that can be a maturity thing, though, so perhaps he’ll get over that hump and just learn to play tennis and not worry about the rest. Hope so anyhow. : )

sar Says:

Jane, it’s Ljubicic who is playing Kooyong for the last spot.

sar Says:

Tenisbebe, good to see you back. Got my tickets for Indian Wells and looking to go back to Cincy if all goes well.

tenisbebe Says:

Sar – Hi ya and Happy New Year! I think you will really enjoy the Wells, such a beautiful spot for a venue. Hope you didn’t buy nosebleed seats, for the matches later in the week especially, as they are much stricter about seating than we/I am at Cincy and the main stadium is HUGE (too big imo). What days will you be attending? You can shoot me an e-mail if you like.

Skorocel Says:

Nina said: „My guess… if weather conditions are good in Melbourne (and I believe that’s a very important factor), Nole will do great in the AO and possibly win the title. But I think only Nadal and Federer are the other real contenders and maybe Delpo.“

Which tells us that Federer, Nadal and Delpo are all all-weather fighters. Nole’s not. ;-)

mat4 Says:

When you analyse the Djoko’s crisis, you can see that in ’08 it starts with Hamburg – a close affair with Rafa, then the turning point of the season is the Queen’s club final, another match against Rafa. In ’09, Madrid.

I honestly think that their rivalry is the key rivalry for Djokovic, and that Nadal is kind of his nemesis.

mat4 Says:

Then, if you look his best match last year, it is again against Rafa in Paris, when he almost destroyed him: he had a stretch of 31 points to 4 with 25 winners. I also believe that that defeat delayed Rafa’s recovering till the DC.

jane Says:

mat4 – I agree.

Djok has suffered some of his most difficult and closest losses to Nadal (those you mention, plus the Olympics too), and it’s Nadal who’s mainly (though there were a couple of other instances) held Djok back from number 2 (e.g. Hamburg and maybe Queens too). So that’s mentally challenging for him, much like it is for Fed (i.e., Nadal holding him back from a calendar slam, from winning the French, etc).

Let’s face it, Rafa is so focused and tenacious, he’s like the ultimate competitor in some ways! There has been a slight hole punched in that characterization since last year, as Rafa was physically injured but also emotionally hurt, so he’s been more vulnerable. Yet he’s *still* getting to the semis of most events. He’s such a fighter.

Djoko should take heart and try to follow Rafa’s lead. Just focus on the match, be confident, etc. I think we saw a movement in that direction in their most recent match in Paris; though that would’ve been closer had Rafa been in better shape, I still think Djok could’ve won, as he was focused, came on court with a clear game plan etc.

But Rafa is just a tough match up for him – esp off hard court. Djok’s only wins over Rafa have come on hard courts (They’re 7-3 on hard in Djok’s favour), although he has come very close to winning on the other surfaces (0-9 on clay; 0-2 on grass). Maybe he can turn it around in the future, but he’ll have to put his nose to the grind to do it. I am still waiting to see how he makes out in 2010. I hope he is focused and fit!

Andrew Miller Says:

Andy Murray: the man with no weapons other than boring the opponent to death.

rafa Says:

Nando just defeated Ben’s favourite for AO 6-1,6-2 :D

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