Americans Roddick, Fish, Isner, Sweeting Prevail; French Suffer Upsets in DC

by Lynn Berenbaum | August 4th, 2010, 9:13 am

Andy Roddick eased through his second match last night versus qualie Grega Zemlja to start his run at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic title. Roddick only fired four aces in the match but never faced a break point against Zemlja, didn’t lose a point in his last four service games, and converted all four of his break chances. ADHEREL

Roddick’s a three-time champ in DC, and has a career 30-5 record here, who’s seeking to add a fourth LMTC trophy to his resume. Roddick said in the presser, however, that his real focus is using this time on the American hard courts for US Open preparation. “If anyone tells you the end goal isn’t to be prepared and ready by the US Open, they’re probably not being completely honest with themselves or with you. The best preparation for a Grand Slam is winning.”

In one of the popcorn matches of the night, third seed Fernando Verdasco narrowly avoided an upset against Michael Berrer. Verdasco faced two match points in the second set, and was trailing 2-5, before winning five straight games to close out the set. The Spaniard pulled out the win in a third set TB, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (6).

“Even when I was match points down, I was just trying to put all the balls in and make no mistakes,” Verdasco said, adding, “I think I was also lucky that he didn’t make like a pretty good serve close to the line to win the match or a winner to the baseline or something like that.”

In the last match of the night, fifth-seeded John Isner and Thiemo De Baaker went to two tie-breaks, with Isner sealing the win with three aces in the second set TB producing a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (8) win. Quite a change from their last meeting, when Isner was easily dropped by De Baaker after his marathon match with Nicholas Mahut. Both Isner and De Bakker had really strong service games. Isner had fifteen aces for the match, with De Bakker getting nine. De Bakker saved the only break point of the entire match.

Mardy Fish pulled out an easy 6-4, 6-3 win against Viktor Troicki, who double-faulted six times in the match, including three times in one game during the first set. A somewhat disappointing result for Troicki, who took out Roddick in ’08 and advanced to the final here before losing to defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro.

Other second round winners included fourth-seeded Marin Cilic with a surprisingly easy win over Denis Istomin 6-4, 6-2. Closing out the first-round matches, Marco Chiudinelli took out Brian Dabul 7-6 (3), 6-2; and Alejandro Falla got through against Rendy Lu 7-5, 6-1.

It was a bad day for the French players, with four players dropping out: Richard Gasquet, who retired with bad back in his opener against Kristof Vliegen; Julian Benneteau def by Xavier Malisse 7-5 6-4, Michael Llodra, who was upset by American Ryan Sweeting 6-4 6-2; and ’06 champ Arnaud Clement, who was downed by Janko Tipsarevic 6-4 6-0. These losses left Gilles Simon as the lone French winner for the night after he dropped Igor Kunitsyn 6-1 6-2, while LLodra and Benneteau are sticking around in dubs action.

Another popcorn match was served up for fans in dubs action when top seeded team Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic took a first-round loss, falling to Czechs Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek, 6-4, 4-6, 10-8. Fans crowded the stands 10 people thick to see the match that definitely opens up the draw for other teams, including second seeded three-time champions Bryan Brothers, who are in headline action tonight.

STADIUM start 4:00 pm
[6] Sam Querrey (USA) vs Janko Tipsarevic (SRB)

Not Before 5:30 PM
Alejandro Falla (COL) vs [11] Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)

Not Before 7:00 PM
[WC] Andrew Courtney (USA) / Michael Shabaz (USA) vs [2] Bob Bryan (USA) / Michael Bryan (USA)
[1] Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)

GRANDSTAND start 4:00 pm
Mardy Fish (USA) / Mark Knowles (BAH) vs Marcelo Melo (BRA) / Bruno Soares (BRA)

Not Before 5:30 PM
Horacio Zeballos (ARG) vs [8] Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)
[7] Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) vs [WC] David Nalbandian (ARG)
Kristof Vliegen (BEL) vs [16] Andrey Golubev (KAZ)

COURT 1 start 4:00 pm
[9] Ernests Gulbis (LAT) vs Illya Marchenko (UKR)

Not Before 5:00 PM
Marco Chiudinelli (SUI) vs [10] Radek Stepanek (CZE)
John Isner (USA) / Sam Querrey (USA) vs Julien Benneteau (FRA) / Michael Llodra (FRA)

COURT 2 start 4:00 pm
Simon Aspelin (SWE) / Paul Hanley (AUS) vs [3] Mariusz Fyrstenberg (POL) / Matkowski Matkowski (POL)

Not Before 5:00 PM
Rohan Bopanna (IND) / Aisam-Ui-Haq Qureshi (PAK) vs Martin Damm (CZE) / Oliver Marach (AUT)

Live streaming begins Thursday, and TV coverage begins on Friday on ESPN2.

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Nalbandian v Blake in Washington; Harrison, Isner Also in Action
Roddick, Isner Highlight Tuesday in Washington; Blake Bounced
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56 Comments for Americans Roddick, Fish, Isner, Sweeting Prevail; French Suffer Upsets in DC

Kimmi Says:

hello everyone.

gulbis, what is the problem? he retired..losing first set 6-1. another injury..oh nooooooo!
Is it a different injury..he was OK in LA. :(

Grendel – I saw your post on the other thread. Tipsy was always going to be tough for querrey. Querrey had to save MP in LA to beat him.
I agree that this loss would do querrey good. need some rest.

hewitt vs falla is on. Falla up a break already. since that wimbledon match with federer..anyone playing falla should be very careful. he like to go for broke and he is very consistent now-a-days.

well dear Contador..i had falla beating hewitt. the new falla is a danger to anybody not named nadal, methink.

Zeballos vs baggy is also on. baggy to win i think. but wouldn’t mind if horacio wins….go horacio

Chiudinelli up a set and a break against, more upsets? radek still in the honeymoon mood?

contador Says:

hey Kimmi=

i just posted my woes to grendel on the delpo thread.

: ( gubis. NEVER pick him. poor thing. i hope he fixes the problem.

sheesh. i forgot sexy steps might be worn out!

dari Says:


contador Says:

sure, falla. that was dumb to pick against him.

might as well have horacio zeballos win and wawa over nalbandian and round out the evening with tsurnov over berdych. hahahahaa

i think golubev might beat vliegen. wooot

Kimmi Says:

Golubev, golubev.

from 82 ranking before hamburg to 37 after winning that tourny. now he is seeded. can u believe it..good for him.

I love his game. i wonder how he would fair up on HC. Go golubev.

a day for swiss”wawa over nalbandian?” No way contador..GO NALBANDIAN

Hope gulbis injury is not serious. needs to be fit for the US OPEN. he missed 2 slams already..c’moon gulbis

dari Says:

This would be a convenient time to have streaming. It looks like falla won with Hewitt retiring. Hmmm…. will read later

Kimmi Says:

yap, you are right dari..2 retirements already. Hewitt still with injury…

contador Says:

is gulbis injured?

he was off the court in 36 minutes! that’s all i know, Kimmi. it took richie 37 minutes to retire yesterday and hewitt was out there for a futile 90 minutes.

okay, okay. go nalby! i picked him to beat wawa.

i don’t know about these guys. the retirement bug is contagious isn’t it?

Kimmi Says:

Golubev match point..go go go

Kimmi Says:

great win golubev

Kimmi Says:

contador – a bread stick for wawa. GO NALBY

Kimmi Says:

mmm i should not get too excited. wawa is starting to play better now..

contador Says:

it must be hot and humid out there. i googled the weather in D.C. and it doesn’t sound like a place i’d like to be playing tennis but i’m spoiled. it’s hot here but at high elevation, there’s a nice breeze, not at all humid and cools down at night.

all i found on gulbis was a small AP blip saying he retired due to heat. can’t say i blame him. : ) rest up ernie!

nalbandian won! great job.

you must have done well today, right?

if berdych loses. that’s it for me. hahaha tsurnov has 3 break points right now.

Kimmi Says:

YAY! congrats nalby. one match at a time.

contador Says:


tsurnov broke. wake up berdy!

contador Says:

janko and alejandro were men on missions today.

who do you pick ? falla or tipsy?

contador Says:

okay order is restored. birdman broke back and held

Kimmi Says:

I did better but not perfect

Querrey, stepanek and gulbis messed up my bracket today

So it was heat exhastion for gulbis. oh dear. Its been hot in toronto too. hope it cools down next week..he has to be OK here.

Kimmi Says:

falla vs tipsy..I pick tipsy. I feel he is inspired somehow. since the daviscup he is been playing excellent.

Will probably be a close match tho

contador Says:

but even though querrey is out, who do to you pick between falla and tipsy, Kimmi?

should be a good match? or will janko be satisfied having beaten sam and look for an air conditioned room? : )

contador Says:

okay. i thought you’d say falla. he’s inspired too. i really didn’t even notice falla until he nearly beat federer.

i pick falla but cheer for janko.

Kimmi Says:

Since wimbles falla is a changed man. I agree that match with fed has opened up something in him. good for him. he is a talented player.

but I don’t know if he can beat tipsy. tipsy is playing his best tennis right now. If he can beat him then hats off

tursunov hanging on with the berdy

contador Says:

are you right in toronto?

contador Says:

i had already checked toronto to see how hot is will be for poor gulbis : )

forecast looks nice.

berdych can’t get a break.

Kimmi Says:

Yes i am in toronto. But i am not going to rogers cup this year. i will watch on tv.

contador Says:

poor ailing gubis. doesn’t he need to hold on to his ranking to be seeded in NY?

c’mon berdych!

contador Says:

someday i’ll get to an atp tournament. : )

you have been to rogers cup then?

this match is going to a tie break

Kimmi Says:

gulbis does not have much to defend in american HC I believe. he needs to hold to his ranking to be seeded at the USO. i hope he does.

Its always difficult to come back strong after an injury.

tursonov dissapeared for a long while. now he is back. berdy just a little slow…i still think he will come thru

Kimmi Says:

Yes i have been to rogers cup twice. 2006 and 2008. It was nice..but my seats were to high up. so i could not see them on the court properly.

But it was nice to be there. federer won in 2006, who won in 2008..was it nadal..yes it was nadal.

contador Says:

meant set going to tie break

and yeah, c’mon tomas!

no, he wouldn’t have anything to defend, you are right.

a hamstring torn, if that’s what it was, can take a long time. i hope it wasn’t a bad but he sure has lost his ……

YAY! one more set berdych!

gulbis seems a wreck after RG

Kimmi Says:

the berdy took the tie break..order is restored

contador Says:

that would have been incredible to see federer in 2006!

some friends of mine saw him play IW in 2006. actually had a chance to go with them. i regret not clearing my schedule and going!

oh boy, berdych drops his first service game 2nd set.

contador Says:

no time for a nap or whatever you are doing tomas!

wake up!

Kimmi Says:

yes, it was nice to see federer. i was too crazy about him then..

he beat gasquet in the final i think…

tursonov should take this set..he should learn to take his chances. i think the berdy must be too rusty. i remember how solid he was at wimbles. too much time on vacation

contador Says:

i would like to turn back time and see federer in 2004 or masters cup in houston 2003!

gasquet. ah richie.

well the top seed picking was right in LA but not now. like i said, reading roddick’s quote in the 2nd paragraph above makes me want to take back my picks. berdych may be thinking something similar. hey, radek lost today. they could hang around another day and play doubles, then get out of the heat.

or, berdych could break back!

Kimmi Says:

what is with that roddick quote contador..he is just saying he need to win to prepare well for the USO. that is very good imo. it shows he is serious about winning in DC.

Kimmi Says:

at least tomorrow we can watch some tennis contador. time for me to go to sleep. Good luck to the berdy. Nite nite.

contador Says:

there was that window of time when going to see federer play would likely mean seeing him win. now, it’s not known.

i don’t think he’s over but i wouldn’t go expecting he wins. i think it is nadal’s year and nadal will win US Open. he must be thinking it probably won’t be federer there in the final and really, i can’t think of who is playing well enough right now to challenge nadal.

nadal is being very careful with his schedule.

alright birdman win the decider please!

contador Says:

i took it to mean he’s not in this to win it necessarily, but to prepare for US Open ( roddicks quote ) some of the lower ranked and seeded know they don’t have much of a realistic shot at the us open this year and will give their best to win D.C.

good night Kimmi

contador Says:

so maybe i am confusing that last sentence. federer would say it doesn’t matter. i keep thinking about what federer said last year when he was asked if his cincy win gave him more confidence going in to US Open. he said something like not really, he had won US Open without winning cincy. that was federer.

federer doesn’t play legg mason. and his us opens were not predicated on wining the lead up hc tournaments to US Open. sometimes he won one, sometimes not.

maybe federer can pull another us open out of his hat : )

looks like tsurnov might be toast. 3-0 berd in the 3rd

grendel Says:

Kimmi: “he beat gasquet in the final i think…” – i.e.Federer in 2006. If that’s the match I think it was, Fed won first set, Gasquet took the second and was primed to break right at the beginning of the third, but Fed hung grimly on and eventually beat the Frenchman off. After that, it was plain sailing for Fed. Before that, my impression was that Gasquet was looking marginally the better player – and Fed was playing well.

The point about this – there is a certain myth growing that “in the old days” Federer would simply waltz through his matches. You’d see some in which he did do just that, and then memory plays its usual tricks, and takes the occasional wipe out victory to be representative rather than exceptional.

The converse of this is that the change for the worse in Federer’s play is not so dramatic as is sometimes claimed, and that there is reason to hope that from time to time, he will be able to pull off a BIG surprise!

grendel Says:

Interesting article on why Nadal will win several Wimbies (and this written before Nadal’s recent triumph) and Fed only one French.

Actually, I was reading that Bodo fellow, and he reports that Sampras used to drive Annacone nuts by his occasional determination to beat his opponent at the latter’s own game – rather than playing HIS own game. Sounds like Sampras had a streak of Federer like obstinacy – but not as bad, because apparently he took note of what Annacone had to say. Perhaps Paul can do the same for Federer?

One thing, though, which I haven’t seen anyone pick up on, although it seems to me blindingly obvious. No doubt Annacone will feel honoured to help Federer if he can, but how can he possibly feel the same commitment he did for Sampras – a close friend? Sampras LISTENED to Annacone. Will Federer? Truly?

jane Says:

Kimmi, lucky you to have been twice to Roger’s Cup. We’re thinking we may visit family in TO next year and then hightail it over to Montreal for some tennis. If you go next year, maybe we can meet!?

jane Says:

grendel interesting article, with the comparison of “total football” to Nadal’s smooth shifts between offense and defense. The paragraph on Fed’s stubbornness may be a bit overblown, as I have seen Fed step around the backhand on the service return, maybe not regularly but he does it sometimes. At least they point out his use of the dropper now. But no doubt Fed, Sampras, Borg, J-Mac, etc, they all have a stubborn streak, yet Rafa does seem incredibly malleable, not only able to consistently adapt, but *willing* to. That’s what makes him as successful as he is.

SG Says:

grendel Says:

One thing, though, which I haven’t seen anyone pick up on, although it seems to me blindingly obvious. No doubt Annacone will feel honoured to help Federer if he can, but how can he possibly feel the same commitment he did for Sampras – a close friend? Sampras LISTENED to Annacone. Will Federer? Truly?


Annacone: Rog…you need to S&V first and second serve and chip and charge all your returns….Rog?!?…are you listening? Stop twittering Tiger and give me a minute.

Roger: Paul, did you say something?

Annacone: Rog…you need to listen to me. I helped make Sampras the best player of all time.

Roger: Hey! Wait a minute Paul! I’m the best player of all time!

Annacone: You were the best of all time.

Fed: I think we need some time apart to “evaluate” this relationship. Ah hell, you’re fired.

And such is the story of the Fed-Annacone experiment.

grendel Says:

jane, by all accounts, you should add Murray to that list, and even send him to the top. I gather the split with Gilbert was because Murray disliked Gilbert’s notion of being more aggressive. Miles Mcthingy evidently said that to get Muray to do anything, you had to suggest it slyly in such a manner that Murray would think the suggestion had come from himself – and he’d then be prepared to act on it!

About Nadal – I’ve tended to resist all the admiring talk of his modesty, being conscious that there has long been a concerted (and very sensible and successful) effort in the Nadal camp to keep him under the radar, thereby reducing the pressure on him to the minimum. But of course, there is no logical contradiction between Nadal actually being modest and the fact that a public parade of modesty is very useful to his career.

To this particular sceptic, it begins to look as if Nadal is genuinely modest, and it must be this which makes him so “malleable” as you put it. Stubborness is not necessarily a sign of conceit – actually, it can signal a certain insecurity. What, people like Federer, Sampras, Borg etc harbouring insecurity? Maybe to begin with, “insecurity”, providing it’s not too debilitating, can act as a drive for success. The trick then is to shed it. That might be difficult, I don’t know. Why would a very famous person be insecure? Don’t ask me. But the evidence suggests it is often so.

Nadal is very obviously not insecure. So he can genuinely listen to people without taking offence. I suppose that’s back to Margot’s and SG’s idea of self esteem.

jane Says:

grendel, v. much agree that insecurity can be a driving force for success, and weirdly the outward impression of “conceit” may even mask a deeper seeded uncertainty. I’ve known people who seem full of themselves but who are actually quite insecure on closer inspection.

How stubbornness plays into that I am not sure, but you seem to have a good take on it. While it seems counter-intuitive, i.e., I’d think the *insecure* player would be the “moveable” one, open to advice and willing to change, according to the Nadal example, if a player is secure, grounded, has self-esteem, etc., then he or she is likely to be more comfortable with and *open* to new / different ideas without that seeming like a negative thing (i.e., rather than thinking of it as “I am not good enough [insecurity] so I have to change”, s/he may think of it as “I want to get even better and win more, and I can” [self-belief].)

There may be a certain stubborn belief in some players that if their game has worked so incredibly well so far, why fix it? Or in Borg’s case, the notion that it simply can’t be fixed, so quit. The competition has caught up. Seems pretty narrow thinking.

Fed’s hiring of a new coach, or trying it out anyhow, suggests at least that he has the desire to consider input. Doesn’t it? This is surely a good sign as everyone has pretty much concurred on the early thread.

As to Murray, yes … I worry. He does seem the stubborn type and it’ll be interesting to see what happens now. If he picks up Cahill as an advisor, and just finds some Joe Schmoe hitting partner, will this be enough? Or will he draw more into himself and his own “stubborn” notions? Tough to say. But am hoping for the best.

Maybe it’s all about being open to change, as opposed to hanging onto “tradition” or what has worked or a certain style.

grendel Says:

yes, jane, but it’s one thing to reluctantly admit the need for change, quite another to put it into practice – after all, it may feel incredibly awkward. But I did read somewhere that Annacone has said about Federer that he has so many different options at his disposal, it is a pity he doesn’t use some of them more often. That’s a bit cryptic, but it certainly suggests Paul has some ideas in mind. Let’s hope Federer is less intransigent than SG suggests…

Very interesting what you say about Borg. If you think about it, it’s a very polite way of saying that Borg no longer felt he could beat McEnroe. I’ve often wondered about that. But bear in mind that Borg was – according to McEnroe’s own testimony in his autobiography – very much a burnt out case. And he wasn’t helped by officialdom, either, which was criminally obstructive to him.

midsun Says:

Heard the Rafa and Nole are teaming to play doubles in Toronto. That should be exciting. Would be nice if they showed at least a little on TV.

jane Says:

grendel “it’s a very polite way of saying that Borg no longer felt he could beat McEnroe” – oops, don’t know if I was polite or not; well of course it must’ve been a combination of things for Borg to retire so young, relatively speaking — burn out (no fun), wanting to stay on top but realizing his style might need changing (i.e., to beat Mac and others), and apparently (after a quick search) he wanted to play less events but was not able due to ATP rules. There are also, according to some forums, other less savoury rumours which am not going into …

grendel Says:

“to beat Mac and others” – actually, I don’t think there were any others. I don’t think Borg feared anyone else, certainly not Connors, for instance – just McEnroe. That was my impression.

steve Says:

It’s the usual nonsense from the usual suspects. Bodo loved Sampras and everything has to be seen through the lens of Sampras for him. It seems difficult for him to accept Federer on his own terms.

As for the French, people thought Federer wouldn’t even win one. Of course he then proceeded to do just that. So I don’t put a lot of truck in that.

Sampras always came across to me as a bit dour, more of a pure competitor. Federer seems to enjoy himself more on court.

Sampras is actually more like Nadal, mentally. A cold winning machine, whose level never fluctuates through the match.

But to return to Federer, someone with that much raw talent and variety of shots usually ends up like a Gasquet or Gulbis, a headcase who collapses mentally attempting to manage the limitless options at his command. Usually they make lots of mistakes because every time they hit a shot, they have to choose, not from one or two options, but from seven or eight. And they can’t do it consistently enough to win a match.

Federer’s one in several billion in that he learned how to do it.

He had to become more rigidly disciplined, to cut down on his options, in order to become a great champion. He had to learn how to stick to reliable patterns and play the percentage shots in order to win. He had to restrict himself.

By nature he’s a hot-headed player and he loves to produce new and nifty shots. In his early days he would try for flashy trick shots and insane winners off of every point, and he would play beautifully–and lose. It took him years to learn patience and not to go for it all the time.

In 2004-07, he was using maybe a little under 50% of his game. He didn’t need any more, because he could hit winners at will, from any position on the court. So he stuck to that approach, because it worked, and because he feared that if he deviated too far from it, he would relapse into the mentality of his early days when he wouldn’t be able to control his vast arsenal of shots. And then he would lose.

So when people call him “stubborn”, I think it’s a mistake to see it in isolation, merely as an unfortunate character trait. It’s a survival mechanism he imposed on himself in order to manage and control the chaos of having so many different kinds of shot.

At this point he will adjust his tactics and patterns, using different options to supplement and replace the ones that don’t work now because of his decline in speed and power. Once he has done that, his opponents will once again be left wondering what the hell hit them.

And perhaps his many years of experience will allow him to abandon strict patterns and be more comfortable improvising and experimenting on court, secure in the knowledge that he has a solid foundation to fall back on. Since he already has all the records, he’s free to play for himself, rather than worrying about history’s verdict.

Just as an artist, say a poet, may stick rigidly to strict forms in his early career, such as sonnets, in order to maintain control. But as he matures and gets more experienced, he may begin writing free verse, experimenting with looser and more abstract forms in order to find new means of expression.

We may see a late Federer, like the late Cezanne, seeking to create pure tennis freed of the artificial constraints that the tennis academy imposes. Who says, for instance, that serve-and-volley can work only on fast surfaces? Why can’t it be made to work on clay?

These are the kinds of problems Federer will be pondering in the next few years. It will make for some amazing tennis, I am sure.

margot Says:

steve: what a very interesting post, also enjoyed reading your thought provoking take on Rafa on another thread, might not agree with all of it, but that’s beside the point. You might add Andy M to your list of “head cases” too. Preferred him b4 airbrushing by the way, but he was flayed alive by the media so whaddya expect?
jane, grendel : Yes, I think Andy is “insecure” “stubborn” and, most oddly, lacking in confidence about his ability. Only that can explain the gentle return of slow, middle of the court balls he should be killing!

steve Says:

@margot: Thank you. Yes, Murray is an interesting case.

Of course it’s taken brilliant performances from Federer to beat him in the two major finals he’s reached. But the British media just won’t let up on him. When the Queen announces she’s cleared her schedule to attend the Wimbledon final if you make it there, that’s huge pressure. I have some sympathy for him, for he faces a burden of expectations from his home country that no other player today has.

He has a rather gruesome habit of punching his racket face, cutting his hand on the strings. This happened against Querrey, so badly that he bloodied his shirt. It reflects something unhealthy, for lack of a better word, in his mentality. There are players who beat themselves up on court, but none do it quite so literally as Murray. He should ease up on himself, but maybe that’s what it takes to make him play better.

margot Says:

steve: re Andy, you’re being very tactful here. However, I’d say self-harm is coming from a very dark place, whoever’s doing it. When it’s kids, it rings all sorts of alarm bells doesn’t it?
On tennis courts all your foibles are on view: Rafa’a rituals, Soderling’s towel, Zvronova’s (? spelling) melt down, etc. It always strikes me how calm Fed is on court and lacking all these extras. For sure he gets tetchy if he loses, but generally he just gets on with the job with minimum fuss.
On a different note, from Beeb website, I read Serena and John (Isner) are playing mixed doubles at Hopman Cup. :)

grendel Says:

Interesting post from Steve. Not sure who are the usual suspects, but I disagree about Bodo. He is quite self-important, without doubt, but his closeness to Sampras does not get in the way of his being fair to Federer. He is clearly a great admirer – I suspect the term TMF (The Mighty Fed) which he invented is double-edged; partly it is mocking the worshippers at the shrine, but partly it is a genuine gasp at the absurd abundance of gifts the gods alloted to Federer.

I think Steve’s analysis of Federer’s stubborness is insightful, if a touch rosy, for all champions are stubborn – it goes with the trade. “he will adjust his tactics and patterns, using different options to supplement and replace the ones that don’t work now because of his decline in speed and power.” This is doubly partial. No mention is made of the fact that others have caught up with, and in certain respects overtaken him – his decline is not just about age. And then it is assumed (“his opponents will once again be left wondering what the hell hit them”) that he will calmly succeed in his adjustment.

Life ain’t so easy, chum. I prayerfully hope Federer does succeed, at least to a degree, for time is time and it’s not a bad idea to ackowledge that. But a measure of the difficulty he faces – and clearly accepts – is his remarkable approach to Annacone. And b.t.w., it was Annacone who said that it was a pity that Federer did not make more extensive use of the arsenal available to him. He didn’t say this in at all a critical spirit. Steve has described eloquently how Federer was obliged to discipline himself in his pursuit of success. Going back to the bank, so to speak, to draw upon squirreled away reserves, will not be remotely easy, I wouldn’t have thought – and not surprisingly, Federer has decided he needs help.

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