Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer, Who’ll Be the Next No. 1?

by Sean Randall | March 21st, 2011, 12:44 pm

Before either Novak Djokovic can finally ascend to No. 1 or Roger Federer return to the highest perch in men’s tennis, Rafael Nadal is going to have to stumble. Until yesterday, the thought of Nadal suffering a “down” 2011 season, looked plausible.

Already in the first 2.5 months of the season Rafa was hit by a flu bug and suffered a leg injury. And since the US Open, which is also the last time he has a win over a Top 10 player in traditional tournament play, Nadal has just one ATP title that coming in Tokyo early last October. However, in the Sunday Indian Wells final against Djokovic Nadal played a terrific first set of tennis.

Similar to his US Open play last September, Nadal was pouding his serve into the 130s MPH cut out the errors we had seen from him earlier in the week. Count me among the people who thought after the first set Nadal wasn’t going to be denied. But credit to Djokovic who hung tough, withstood Nadal’s best and came through in the end winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

You have to tip your cap to Djokovic and recognize his improvement as a player both in his game and between the ears. Just a year ago there was no chance the Serb would have been able to recover from a set down to Nadal in a big tournament final. But thanks to a newfound mental and physical toughness, Djokovic picked himself up, accepted the challenge and it paid off handsomely in the end.

It was a deserving victory for Djokovic who extended his current win streak to 20, 18-0 in 2011. For now, regardless of what happens in Miami, which I don’t think he’ll win, the Serb is the best player in tennis.

But back to the original question, who’ll be the next No. 1, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer? As it usually and rightfully does, the No. 1 ranking goes to players who win Grand Slam titles. And this year you’ll need to hold at least two of them to get the top spot.

After watching Nadal yesterday, despite the loss I think he has to be pleased with the way he played that first set. If he can get his serve back (it did drop a few levels in the 2nd and 3rd sets), Rafa’s going to be very, very tough to beat on any surface.

That said, I don’t think Nadal is going to sweep the final three Slams like he did last year. I still feel like the French Open is Nadal’s tournament. Djokovic is playing his best tennis and is proficient on clay, but to take three sets off Nadal on dirt is still among the toughest things to do in men’s tennis. Yesterday, on his very best surface – hardcourt – Djokovic had to do all he could just to win two sets. So unless Rafa’s battling an injury, suffering from paella poisoning, dealing with a family divorce or a breakup with girlfriend Xisca, for Djokovic or anybody else to beat Nadal in a best-of-five is almost a pipe dream.

So Nadal is looking good through the French.

Still, if Nadal does slip on the clay Djokovic is the guy next in line followed by Federer and then Del Potro as my picks at Roland Garros.

On the grass, right now I still make Nadal a slight favorite over Federer then Djokovic who has never been to a Wimbledon final. If Rafa can bring that amped-up serve to the green lawns he’ll be that much better.

And despite his erratic play of late, I still think Federer can beat anybody on grass and get back to the Wimbledon winner’s circle. Especially if he recaptures that aggressive style we saw him execute in London last November.

But I do think Rafa will play well enough at Wimbledon to maintain his top ranking into the early summer hardcourt season, and that’s when things could get really interesting.

While Federer is going to struggle on the hardcourts, Djokovic should thrive perhaps winning both Tennis Masters events in Cincinnati and Canada. Del Potro will also be a major factor and so too will Nadal and hopefully Murray. And at the US Open, it could be an absolute war with Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Del Potro and maybe Murray all vying for the final Slam of the season.

If Djokovic can play like he has thus far in 2011, it’s hard not to put him as the favorite to win in New York and finally takeover the No. 1 ranking. If this was August he’d be my pick and I think by then he would have accrued enough points to put himself in position to pass Rafa with a title.

As for Federer, I hate to write him off (again) but it’s now looking unlikely that the Swiss will ever get back to No. 1. Not only does he have to deal with Father Time (he’ll be 30 in August and Father Time is undefeated and untied in history!) and the heightened risk for injury as he ages, he now has resurgent Djokovic to beat in addition to Nadal plus Murray and Delpo hovering.

To his credit, Federer’s still playing a good brand of tennis. He’s beating to players he should and this season and in the last 12 tournaments since Wimbledon the only players to defeat him are Djokovic, Murray and Monfils. So at least he’s still going deep in tournaments and losing only to quality foes.

But outside of Wimbledon I don’t think he can get another Slam right now – injuries, slumps and upsets to his top rivals can of course change that.

If not Djokovic or Federer, I think Del Potro is next in line for the top spot. The Argentine’s rapid recovery has really been an encouraging surprise on the tennis scene this year. If he can stay healthy and keep improving he could be back at 100% full strength by the French Open. And if he can somehow grab a French title – if there’s someone who can beat a healthy Nadal on clay in five sets might it be him? – he could run the summer hardcourt table and win the US Open. Ok, that’s asking a lot this season but maybe next year?

And what about the forgotten man, Andy Murray? The Scot who was in the Australian Open is slowly getting pushed out of the mix, isn’t he? With the rise of Djokovic, the return of Del Potro and the continued strong play from Federer and Nadal, there’s hardly any room left at the top for Murray. And I think Andy is starting to come to the realization that with D&D playing so well maybe his best chances to win a Slam are behind him. And it has to be disheartening. Can Murray really beat an in-form Djokovic, Nadal, Del Potro or even Federer in a Slam final? Because the way it looks right now that’s what it’s going to take for him to break through.

The 23-year-old Murray is also in the same age range as Nadal, Djokovic and Del Potro so he’ll likely have to deal with them for the remainder of his career. Plus, there are the young stars like Milos Raonic who figure to get into the Top 10 discussion in the very near future.

However, Murray is about to turn 24 which I believe is the peak age for tennis players (Nadal turned 24 last year and look what happened!). But Djokovic is also turning 24 in May and Delpo will reach that age in September 2012.

So for me, if the top guys stays healthy the sport is about to enter into an incredibly competitive period of tennis with four, maybe five quality Hall of Famers playing exceptional tennis and all vying for the top spot at one time. And right now Djokovic is the man to beat, a statement that may very well be reflected in his ranking six months from now.

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129 Comments for Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer, Who’ll Be the Next No. 1?

stu Says:

Just stay healthy, Novak!

billyboy512 Says:

Almost as tedious as hearing about Federer and the myth of him regaining number one is the myth that Andy Murray will evolve into a threat of any kind. Andy Murray has quickly become the UK version of Andy Roddick…his fans are always living in the wish.

Zman Says:

How can you ignore Soderling as a high potential pick to win the French? The guy is a beast at Rolan Garros: beating Rafa and Fed the last couple of years on the Parisien red dirt while getting to the finals twice in a row. I’m no huge Sod fan, but odd omission.

Lulu Iberica Says:

Just looking at the rankings breakdowns, it is very plausible that Djoker can take the #1 ranking. He has a lot of room for improvement in Masters hardcourt results, and if he keeps up like this I’d make him the fave for USO. I don’t see Roger getting back to #1, but he could always surprise me!

Polo Says:

Soderling has already peaked. He cannot go any higher than where is now. He is no threat to those guys mentioned favorably in the article above. I agree in leaving his name out.

stuffs Says:

Rodger is passing his prime, though his “average” play is still worthy of top 3 status, phenomenal. Do not forget that these guys are jockying for the #1 spot, which federer held for nearly 5 consecutive YEARS..just a few weeks shy of the all time record by Sampras. best of luck to all of them, no one has a game as complete and pretty as federer did(does).

stu Says:

stuffs – yes he is in the top 3, in his prime he was #1. don’t understand why everyone is so uptight and ready to pounce here…

jane Says:

Interesting…gets us thinking anyhow. Rafa being toppled from the top? He’s just so tough.

Hope Nole can stay healthy too, stu; it’d be great to see him have a really consistent year. I would count Murray as a grass fave and would add Dolgo witth Raonic as a rising star. Roddick may be able to surprise on grass too, if everything clicks. Berdych, Soda – can’t count them out either. Phew.

Should be an exciting summer.

Polo Says:

Yes, Roddick may be able to suprise on grass…I would be suprised to see him in the semis. He is another one who has peaked. Poor guy is so desperate he harrasses umpires, linesmen and ballboys when he plays. I liked him briefly then he became such a bully.

Kimberly Says:

miami draw is out!

Lulu Iberica Says:

Stuffs, I agree with all you say about Federer. I am a huge Rafa fan, and I have never thought he would be as dominant a #1 as Roger was, and recent events are making me worried that he will not even be #1 for long! My fondest fantasy is for Rafa to eventually surpass Fed’s slam count, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I would be very happy for him to just get close. Yes, these are exciting times in tennis, but I’m a little sad that us Rafa fans are never going to have that long period like Fed fans had, where they just KNEW their guy was going to win almost everything!

Lulu Iberica Says:

On second thought, I’m being a little greedy. I guess fans of most greats couldn’t count on them winning so consistently — that’s what makes Fed the greatest. Second, so far Rafa fans have been able to count on him winning most everything on CLAY, so I should be grateful for that, no?

Cindy Brady Says:


You remind me of that guy in american pie, who does you-know-what with a pie his mom bakes. Your analysis is more like that of an immature fan girl/boy than that of a rational writer.

Think about the effort novak expended to win a Masters title. He almost looked dead at the end of it all. Just to win ONE title. To get that no.1 ranking off nadal, djokovic will need a lot of help from rafa himself. I dont think Rafa will lose the no.1 this year. You and djokovic fans can keep dreaming but novak will NOT reach the no.1 this year. Maybe rafa will slump next year, but who knows where novak’s game will be at that time?

I love to see Andy Roddick/Serena bully those fools on the court. I wish one of the chair umpires has the courage to stand up to them and challenge them to a bare-knuckle boxing match on the court. Enough of these politically correct hypocrites making the game a snooze-fest. If someone is bullying you it is because you are an idiot who cannot stand up for yourself. Survival of the fittest. I hope Andy punches that long faced funny haired djokovic in his ugly face in front of the newyork crowd. Go Andy. I like bullies :)

Cindy Brady Says:


Rafa will be just fine. If the world ran according to what tennis-x writers wrote, nadal would never have been no.1

You should check the archives for a wonderfully stupid article (was it Sean who wrote that?) which proclaimed Rafa would never be no.1. I think that was after Djokovic won his 1st GS title. Look how that turned out?

dont lose heart. The Rafa Vs Roger show will still be the main draw for ATP. Novak is just not in the same league as those two champions. Novak has been proclaimed as no.1 for 3years now and he has not even had a sniff at it.

stu Says:

Definitely looked almost dead at the end of the match yesterday, especially when he served those massive balls that Rafa 1) shanked 2) sent long 3) returned weakly so that Novak’s response was so powerful that Rafa could only dump it into the net.

Cindy Brady Says:

Really? remember that when rafa will be running djokovic like he is his b!tch in miami and the tournaments thereafter.

Remember hamburg 2008? madrid 2009? USopen 2010? aren’t you guys even ashamed to make your posts that novak is greater or a better player than rafa? i guess that is too much to expect from novak fans.

RZ Says:

I think health and injuries are keys to who ends up #1. As we know, Rafa is injury prone, and he’s defending a ton of points between now and Wimbledon. Of course he has the U.S. Open too, but that might not be enough to keep his #1 ranking if Nole keeps playing the way he has been. But speaking of the Djoker, he tends to have health issue fairly often. I’m not sure how long he can keep up his incredible form. If he has breathing problems like he did last year, his results will taper off. If both guys are hit by injuries or health problems, I can see Federer or Del Potro sneaking in to the #1 spot within the next year or so.

RZ Says:

BTW, don’t forget about Robin Soderling. He stumbled at Indian Wells but aside from that he’s had a solid year so far.

stu Says:

“Remember hamburg 2008? madrid 2009? USopen 2010?”

Are those really the best you could find as examples of Rafa “running Djokovic like his b!tch”? rofl

Mark Says:

Really don’t share your supreme confidence in del Potro, and I think it will be a while yet before I’d feel comfortable including his name alongside Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, and even Murray as top players on the ATP tour.

As for Federer, I love him, but he’s about where Andre Agassi or Pete Sampras was when they were his age. He’s still a top player, still capable of beating anyone in the world on a good day, but he’s having fewer and fewer good days, and his good days are growing less and less good. I can see him making a few more Slam finals, perhaps even carrying one or two more away, but he’s not going to reach No.1 again and I think Wawrinka will probably pass him as top Swiss by the end of next year.

Raonic, Dolgopolov, Tomic, Berankis, Anderson, and Harrison certainly bear keeping an eye on, even if I don’t think any of them are serious Slam threats in the short term. Wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing a couple of them make it through to the quarters pretty regularly, though.

Kimberly Says:

cindy, stu-probably the two RG semis (07, 08) where Nole never really had any shot would be the best example. Not that i dislike djoko (usually, this week is a small exception) but since you are asking. The Hamburg, Madrid and USO named above were somewhat competitive.

Kimberly Says:

and if djoko fans want to monday morning quarterback that yesterdays match was not competitive, that’s fine. But it was.

Until set point #6 in the second I was pretty sure Rafa was going to take it in straights. For the first set and a half he completely outplayed Novak (not that Novak played particularly well in my opinion for that time). Then he crumbled and served under 30%. You don’t win a match serving under 30% agianst the man of the moment. Or any top ten player. He also got increasingly frustrated with his failure to put in a first and it radiated to the rest of his game.

The descriptions of this beatdown i’ve seen on this blogsite are simply not the match I watched.

stu Says:

Kimberly, I completely agree that yesterdays match was competitive. I stopped watching for a bit after Rafa broke Novak in set 1, because it seemed like Rafa had all the answers. The reason I mentioned Novak’s serves in the last game (where Rafa shanked a return and pushed another one long) was to argue that Novak was nowhere close to “almost dead” at the end of the match, as CB seems to think.

And yes, RG 07 and 08 were blowouts, and I’m sure there are others too but she just picked the worst examples.

jane Says:

Kimberly it was a topsy-turvy match. Nole started nervous and serving horribly, in the 40% range, compared to how he started versus Fed the day before serve-wise, and it took him a while to work his serve back up to decent form, but by the end of the match it was reliable. The opposite case for Rafa: he was in high 70% and serving 130 speed serves and then lost them by mid second set and never got them back. As he said he kept thinking about the serve, which caused him to make more errors in the rest of his game. Strange momentum swings in that match. I think the most competitive matches between these two were Mardid in 09 and Queens final. Both super close. Re: RG 2008 – it’s worth noting that Nole was the ONLY player to push Rafa to a tiebreak that year; Rafa literally bulldozed the competition, including Fed in the final. That had to be one of the most dominant slam wins of all time! Nole’s had a few matches versus Rafa on hard court (2xs at Cincy and once at Paris) where he played better than he did to win yesterday imo.

stu Says:

jane, you’re really good at remembering Nole’s past matches! when you bring them up i have my “oh yeah, i remember now” moments, but i never think of them when i need to make a point!

Kimberly Says:

THe CIncy 2008 was an extremely impressive win by Novak as Rafa had looked essentially unbeatable that summer after the dramatic wimby 2008 he won toronoto ..he had a serious streak of something like 32 matches starting in Hamburg. And yes, your guy absolutely blasted him off the court.

Polo Says:

The Djokovic I have been watching since the beginning of the year is a very disciplined player. He is different from the Djokovic in the previous couple of years. If he keeps this new attitude, it could help him reach his full potential. Whether that means he will win more majors and/or reach number one is not solely in his control. There are many factors to consider. The important thing is that he is trying to be the best he could ever be as a tennis player. There are rewards that can be had with that.

Kimberly Says:

the match at the WTF 2010 cannot be counted. Djoko had his contact lense drama and Cincy and Paris 09 were in Nadals gloomy days. I heard their match at the Olympics was close but I have never watched it.

Obviously their most competitive match was Madrid 09, a true classic.

stu Says:

Aaah the Olympics semi. Best. Match. Ever. Mainly bec. there was so much at stake. High drama throughout. Botched overhead from Nole I think, lost him the match. The gold medal lost on that one point, and the poor kid left in tears.

These 2 have had some _really_ good matches!

Skeezerweezer Says:

Who said Sundays match wasn’t competitve? There joking right?

That was a knockdown battle until the 3rd. Any match that goes the distance like this is a very competitve match. They both had there troubles. Rafa serve and for awhile Novak couldn’t buy a return off Rafa’s second…..

Kimberly Says:

stu-i have never seen any of the olympics matches, shame.

They have had some great matches. I’m sure there will be many more chapters, hopefully cleaner played than IW 11 on both parts.

Andrew Miller Says:

Mr. Randall’s assessment is excellent. I agree completely with this analysis. Much as Mr. Randall noted, I tip the hat to Djokovic! But, the season is long and the Australian winner, the past few times out (2008, 2009, 2010) hasn’t had breakthrough or “2nd to none” years – more like “very good years but not the best, despite a slam”.

This whole article was on the money. I especially appreciated the below sentence – Djokovic clearly is playing the best ball of his life at the moment. I think Del Po as dark horse is a good call also.

“You have to tip your cap to Djokovic and recognize his improvement as a player both in his game and between the ears.”

zola Says:

Congratulations to Jane, Sar, Duru and all Djoko fans. Fantastic effort by Djoko.

He played a great tournament and won decisively. I think it is still a good result for Rafa after not playing for six weeks. Nobody can win everything. Rafa has to work on his serve and come back to win more titles.

Kimberly Says:

i might be committing bracket suicide, taking murray deep.

Duro Says:

Zola, thanks.

Sar, thanks for the link. 7:6 Rafa, 4:3 Rafa in the second, Nole serving.

Duro Says:


jane Says:

Hey zola, nice to hear from you, and thanks. :)

blank Says:

I am with you. I have Federer Vs Murray final and Federer winning!

Duro Says:

Ha ha ha… Great, great, great! On the match point they decided to exchange several strokes on the net deliberately, 2 meters distance and after couple of those Rafa won and lifted his hands towards the sealing pretending to be soooo happy…

Nice anyway. They obviously had a great time. Lots of loughs etc. Lucky those with tickets…

Cheers all. Nole streak is over! Yay!

tennis coach Says:

Thank you Skeezerweezer, In my opinion it was another epic match. They had crazy long rallies, and of course they were bound to make more unforced errors and therefore winners were more difficult to hit. Both players had a problem with serve. Again, it was a great match worth the final.

leslie Says:

Rafa Nadal is Number 1 and don’t make the mistake of writing him off the way most did at the start of 2010!
Vamos RAFA! A most deserving champion with on and off the court excellence! Will be cheering you on all the way!

Skeezerweezer Says:

Stu, jane, duro, sar

Know u can’t get enough of this;

“I don’t think anybody is unbeatable. I do have the best period of my life on the tennis court, but nobody is invincible.”

Great attitude. He’s finally got “it”. Let’s hope some other guys get this too :)


Skeezerweezer Says:

@tennis coach

stu Says:

thanks Skeezer :). what’s better than grounded, in-form Nole? grounded, in-form Nole for 12 months or more!

Tennis Vagabond Says:

I think the flaw in your thesis may be this: the slams could easily be split, and the most masters crowns will determine #1. Nole has 1. He might get 1 or 2 more on hardcourts. Say Rafa wins French, the question is, does he win 2 or 3 on clay? If he gets 3, Rafa will probably get #1. If he gets 2, who gets the 3rd? Nole or Fed.
I also think Nole and Fed are 2 and 3 on clay, though in which order I don’;t know yet. I imagine Ferrer is going to be a threat too.
But I think after the French, Rafa could very well be done. He’s going to play a hell of a lot of tennis over two months, possibly getting to the finals of 4 or 5 tourneys!
Athletes injury bugs simply do not get better with age, it just doesn’t happen. I think Rafa will limp through the rest of the year.
Rog will take Wimbledon. What happens in the summer? Looks good for Nole now, but I can see Del Potro, Murray or even Fed giving him trouble.
So, on the one hand, the winner of the USO could determine #1, but on the other hand, so could the winner of Toronto or ROme.

Daniel Says:

Anyone checked Miami draw yet: Nadal and Fed to face off in the semis and Djoko and Murray in the same quarter. Amazing turn of events, who would have thought of this possible two scenariums in the same tourney so soon?!

jane Says:

^ Yes, come play the fantasy bracket Daniel; it is fun.

jane Says:

margot, just read a very good piece in the Independent on Muzza & Nole’s friendship. Nole talks about Gasquet as being the most naturally talented of their group coming up together in Juniors. Link here:

jane Says:

skeeze, thanks for the article. Agree with you and Polo that Nole seems to be adopting a more professional attitude to his tennis a.t.m. Very happy about this.

stu, i do tend to recall details well. :)

contador Says:

hey- peeps,

was on the road over the weekend. but the good news is: i got to watch all the matcheds dvr’d.

big congrats to all nole fans and to skeezer, for winning tennis-x bracket. ajde nole! nole was the best : )

thanks to Kimberly as always and commies (commiserations) to all rafa, delpo , and fedfans .

even got to see the doubles final. so, robbie koenig obviously didn’t watch alexavier beat the bryan bros. alex showed his net and volley skills, the pogo serve was on and he took honors for beating mike and bryan. bryans were trying to avoid sascha. but in the final vs federinka, malisse was the main man. all in all after watching alexavier courtside, i’m a dubs fan! i hope dolgo and malisse can carry on with their exciting, happy doubles style – they were a joy to watch. also hoping IW run wasn’t a fluke.

federer isn’t over. that was another great federer-djoko match. delpo-nadal, not so much. but the final was great.

my slam predictions: rafa of course wins FO. and i think he takes wimbledon too. djokovic gets us open. the end.

delpo, federer, murray, raonic, soderling, ferrer and others can cause bracket twists of the plot but basically the best is djokovic on hc atm and rafa on clay and health permitting, grass.

not counting federer out – thinking of picking him to win miami, strangely. and i can’t help but pick murray going deep. he’s just too good to imagine going out early again. he’s also in his home away from home in fla., and overdue for a win,

right now i have federer beating both nadal and djokovic. not realistic but it seems kinda much djokovic winning again. and a fedal semi win by federer is wishful thinking. probably will change. thinking of picking murray to win. i dunno. murray has consistently been a bracket demolition man, but…

who is everyone picking for miami??

contador Says:

sorry, can’t type tonight. meant ” dolgo takes the honors for beating bryan bro.”

stu Says:

And here’s something for Rafa and Nole fans..okay maybe only the female ones…to enjoy together!

Who knew they could salsa? :D

skeezerweezer Says:


“so could the winner of Toronto or Rome”…How do you figger that..can you share details? Just curious, no bite back here….:)

Kimberly Says:

Contador I have Murray and rafa in the final now, keep alternating the winner. Not sure about rafa because of whole bogota trip and AWOL first serve. But he usually is able to make adjustments. Not sure about Murray because he is Andy Murray.

For a minute I took federer to beat rafa in the semi but it gave me a slightly nauseated feeling so I changed it back. I physically couldn’t do it.

I had a-rod beating fed and now I have him losing to cilic. struggling with ferrer and wawa too.


And what Murray can be equivalent to bracket suicide, either way.

Kimberly Says:

Btw, was offered box seats to the quallies today but couldn’t go. May go before sat but definitely sat!

skeezerweezer Says:


Me would take Wawa over Cilic, only because I saw them live in IW, and Wawa has got skills and more of a fighter than I thought. Don’t know what happened with that match with Fed?

Anyways…some interesting decisions in the bracket;

Milos? How far will he go?

Davy? Is he in a slump? But he has proven he can run through the draw.

Harrison? Fluke or just starting to believe?

IF Delpo can get by SOD man, then how far?

The way Novak has been playin, he should get through to the final, but is he worn out mentally? IF he is physically ( worn out ), then he needs to work on that, cause the bulk of the season is in front of him.

AR won last year? He is always capapable of making a run, will he?

Gas man playing tough, but he can rin into Fish and Murray.

Where is Murray in all of this anyway? MARGOT??

Like Dolgo’s chances to go deep…err…..I think

I like my odds to be at the bottom this time…as I am picking to risky


Dory Says:

Federer of course unless Novak shows he can stay at this level for really extended period of time..something Roger and Nadal have shown but Novak yet to show. Extended as in dominating a whole year and half a season next. Federer will be back to his rightful place at No.1. Nadal has what, 10000 points to defend? (1000 x 3 at the three Masters and 2000 x 3 at the 3 Slams) and 1000 more at various tournaments he won or reached the semis of. That’s why Federer’s dominance from 2004-2007 is “unbelievable” and “very difficult”, no?

Dory Says:

Btw Miami draw is so different and exciting now that the rankings have changed. This tournament has been dominated by players who named begin with “And” (6 x Andre Agassi, 2 x Andy Roddick and 1 x Andy Murray) LOL. There’s no way Roddick can defend his title with RF in the same section. There might be JMDP vs Soderling in the third round and Dolgopolov vs Nadal in 4th round! And finally the big Fedal semi.

Kimberly Says:

I took mills out to ferrer

skeezerweezer Says:

BTW troopers the Surface in Miami is Laykold Cushion Plus courts which have been rated slow by the ITF, in fact category 1, slowest of all HC, which is the category of Clay. So go figger…….who is that gonna help?


Kimberly Says:

My husband has played on it, said it seems average. He prefers fast courts. Much faster in the day than at night.

skeezerweezer Says:

Played on the surface also….and it’s no indoor HC nor concrete based….if its got rubber underneath or lots of sand in the texture on top……it’s slow….not the HC that were born on…

Kimberly Says:

He’s played a few tourneys at the key biscayne stadium. Desnt complain like when he plays clay tourneys. In the day he says it plays faster. He said an average south florida court.

Except for our club they are all pretty slow I think. No coincidence, our tennis club the hard courts play super fast.

With the exception of London, Paris and cincinatti aren’t they all pretty slow now?

skeezerweezer Says:


yep :) Believe it or not the grass at Wimby is actually slower than some HC, but me thinks they had to do this for the game. Today they are hitting the ball close or at 100mph on the groundies..yikes… but the really fast courts have there place…me hopes they keep all the variants for the surfaces….the complete player will bubble to the top ….look what your fav or Fed accomplished to adapt as an example… :)

Drew Says:

Check the ITF surfaces for 2011. Laykold Cushion is Category 5 – fast! Dont know why – the non cushioned Laykold is Cat 4. med fast

dari Says:

Novak winning inspired me to scroll through his tweets.
I found one with this picture.
So much denim.

blah Says:

Gasquet is Gasquet. I don’t think he’ll ever go on to win something of significance; I just hope he can pull some upsets instead of choking away leads against top dogs now. It’s a little hard to see Djokovic winning Miami after that many straight matches won, but credit to him he has had a fantastic year. I almost want him to save himself a bit for FO because I think his game is beautiful on Clay. I think someone else takes Miami.

Riaan Putter Says:

Djokovic commented after beating Rafa at Indian Wells that Rafa is the greatest player. I cannot help but wander on what basis Djokovic made such a comment?

Federer’s vast records speak for themselves, many of which Rafa (or anybody else) still has to achieve AND maintain.

Rafa is undoubtedly a great tennis player, but to rate him the “greatest player” of all time is not 100% correct.

Federer’s name should forever be proudly displayed in the tennis hall of fame.

I don’t believe that Rafa would equal or better Federer’s grand slam record. Unfortunately for him, there is someone called Novak Djokovic.

If only Federer was 23 years old….

Tennis Vagabond Says:

It is easilly foreseeable that we have 4 GS champs this year. Less likely but still possible, Nole could get the 2 hard courts and Rafa the two naturals.
This means the winner of most Masters will get year end #1.
As I explained, Nole has 1 HC Masters already.
There are 3 clay masters. I think Rafa can be written in for at least 2. If he wins all 3, frankly, I think he will get year end #1 as its unlikely Novak will win 2 more HC masters. However, if Rafa wins just 2 clay masters, the 3rd is up for grabs: it will go to Nole, Fed, Ferrer or Soderling, I’d wager. If Nole gets it, then he will have 2 masters and Rafa 2 entering the summer HC season. Given Rafa hasn’t won a HC masters in over 2 years now, this would give Nole a huge advantage going in to Toronto, etc. Of course, there’s no guarantee Nole gets a clay Masters, even if Rafa falters.
So I just picked ROme and Toronto at random among the Masters to show that this is where the battle for #1 will be fought.
The one thing I feel fairly certain of is that Rafa will not dominate the season post clay.
I also will not write Rog’s funeral oratorio yet. He has lost 3 times this year, all to the very best player in tennis right now.
In my books, that makes him the 2nd best player in tennis right now. He beat Rafa comprehensively at the YEC. Rafa has lost to Davydenko and Ferrer and faced a lot of weak competition in between, his draw in Indian Wells was a joke.
I expect Rafa to come hard on the clay, but I expect Ferrer to be closer to him than ever too.

2011 will be the most competitive year in tennis since the great Roddick-Ferrero-Federer tussles.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Rereading my post, I don’t want to give the impression I am denigrating Rafa. He looked awesome at Oz until he faced Ferrer. But I’m saying he hasn’t proven anything in 2011. He was really manhandled by Fed at YEC and by Nole on Sunday. So I think its clear Nole is playing as #1, it is less clear who is “real” #2. But thats hard courts. Clay, Rafa will be #1.

jane Says:

That salsa video is funny, lots of screaming girls in the background. Ha ha.

I am so torn on the Miami draw… I do think Rafa has a very good shot to win it.

grendel Says:

“Djokovic commented after beating Rafa at Indian Wells that Rafa is the greatest player. I cannot help but wander on what basis Djokovic made such a comment?”

Riann Putter – Djokovic was not trying to make an objective assessment, he was simply reporting his own experience on the court. He found that Nadal was the more difficult man to beat, the better player in fact. Soderling, on the other hand, has intimated that in his experience, Federer is better.

It is not surprising that different players come to different conclusions since, as everybody knows, match ups do count. Thus, A can beat B, B can beat C – you think C has no chance with A? Not at all, C wipes the floor with A every time. All this makes for merry viewing and difficult times for the bookies.

grendel Says:

Tennis Vagabond

I am about to stray in the tricky area of what is regarded as special pleading – but I reject that, it is based upon a misunderstanding.

My belief is that at the moment, when Nadal is healthy, match fit, and uncompromisingly motivated (which is not so often as you might think), he is the favourite to win on any surface against any player, and not only to win but to win convincingly.

Lulu Iberica Says:

Tennis Vagabond, I didn’t see what you said as denigrating Rafa. I totally agree that so far this season he hasn’t beaten anyone of the highest caliber, and his play has not been at USO levels. Heck, I was scared of Delpo (needlessly, thank goodness.) BUT, Rafa was very positive about his results at IW after his initial disappointment wore off, and I think he now knows what he is facing in Djoker and others, and he will be preparing to come back strong and fight hard. I would LOVE to see him win Miami and get a new Masters shield, but I will be satisfied if he just gets to the semis. My hope for the season is that Rafa maintains his clay dominance, wins FO and Wimbledon. If Djoker wins USO, then as you say, Masters titles will determine #1. Wouldn’t it be exciting if WTC actually determined #1?

Kimberly Says:

Wouldn’t it be exciting if WTC actually determined #1?

Not for Rafa fans! According to Cahill its the worst possible surface for Rafa!

Rafa had a shot of regaining number one somehow in 2009 at WTF and didn;t win a set!

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Grendel- I’m pretty sure all your conditions were satisfied Sunday. And Nole won. Two things are possible: Nole is now better overall on hard courts, or Rafa had an off day and Nole had an exceptional day. These things happen in any sport. The old Any given day phenomenon. No need for excuses.
Rafa spoke of his serving problems. So in his mind he just had an off day, and that’s a fair response. I don’t think his motivation or health were in question.

jane Says:

Rafa’s serve was off at IW final in sets 2 & 3: that much was obvious. But I also don’t think Nole was playing as well at IW as he did at the AO. His serve was up and down too. If Nole was serving in the 70s it would have made a difference for him too, and he never reached that for the match.

Lulu Iberica Says:

Kimberly, I know it’s Rafa’s worst surface, but look how well he did this past year! I know the win over Djoker has to be discounted a bit due to the whole contact lens drama, but still. It was only an exceptional Roger Federer, playing on perhaps his best surface, who managed to beat Rafa. I was so proud of him for getting to the final and getting a set off Fed, even if he did get whipped in the end! Vamos Rafa!

grendel Says:

Tennis Vagabond – certainly Nadal’s health was not in question. But his match tightness was. And that must affect motivation which, among other things, is bound up with confidence. Nadal hoped he’d win against Djikovic the other day. He knew he’d win in the US Open final (insofar as one can ever know anything).

I’m not saying Djokovic, or who knows somebody else, can’t reverse this. But right now, Nadal seems to me the man to beat if he is properly prepared.

grendel Says:

As a matter of fact, I’d claim – and I know this is going a bit out on a limb, just my opinion – that last Sunday’s final bears out my point. When Nadal was winning, he looked a hugely more accomplished player than Djokovic, who was hanging on for dear life (and all credit to him for that). When Nadal’s serve collapsed, and hence the rest of the game, I did not feel this was due to Djokovic at all – Djokovic took advantage, of course, which is a different thing, and he deserves credit for that, too. It took guts. But Nadal’s fate lay firmly in his own hands. Annoying, but there it is.

jane Says:

^ grendel, Nole was serving below 50% in the first set though. Surely that’s worth considering in the scheme of the match. That would’ve been different if he was serving in the 70s, like against Fed first set. If Nole can earn easy points on serve, which he wasn’t, he can put a lot of returning pressure, just like Rafa. If I remember correctly, didn’t they break each other in the first set, once, before Nadal got the second break to serve out set one?

I am not suggesting Nole would’ve won if Nadal’s serve hadn’t gone awol. Because Nole was hanging on. But i am suggesting that part of the reason Nole was only hanging on is that at one point he hit as low as 43% first serves in set one! Where Rafa started confidently, Nole was clearly nervous/tight and probably just a little tired. And yet, he held on and finished confidently. if you’re going to take into account Rafa’s poor serving for the second half of the match, you have to consider Nole’s lack of a first serve for a set and a half.

Daniel Says:

Nadal could have changed that just putting some first serves on court as he did his whole tennis carrer pre US Open 2010. HE always serves above 65%. The differnece in last Sunday was that he knew Djoko si the best returner in the game and insisted on serving heavy, he was going for aces all the time, for the lines. Watch the match again, Nole remove some accuracy just to put some balls in, that’s why they were playing almost all points, no easy points on serve. Seems to me Nadal thought, well I prefer losing tring to see if my serve clicks than reverting to my old serve and risk some retunr wippers.
I don’t by your invencible factor for Nadal grendel. By you and other saying his serve collapsed it’s to show that Nadal was actually poretty dumb sticking to plan A. He only plays great now if his fast serve is working.
TYhsi was the first time we saw Nadal serve few first serves for two sets. It’s not like he was collapsing as Fed did versus del Po in US opne 2009 with more than 10 Double faults. Djoko wasn’t hurting his second serve. He insistede on going for too much on his first thinking that eventually he will find it again. But he didn’t.
NAdal is too smart of a player to be that stubborn on court, unless he felt some pain whihc affect his mechanics, which I don’t think happend due to power of his serve.
Plus Djoko didn’t serve that great either, both overall played their B+ game and Djoko was better.
As jane said, Djoko AO form was way better.
Nadal on hard is never a sole favorite, he will be co-favorite.
I only agree with grendel in the part regarding motivation during stretches of the year. When he said Nadal isn’t as motivated as we think in all tourneys. He won’t kill himself to win Miami knowing that he can win 5 clay touneys to (MC, Barcelona, Rome, Madrid and RG).
That’s why I think it will be Fed, Murray or Djoko again. Deep down once Nadal hits quarters or semis he will know clay and redemption is ahead of him. But that’s me!

skeezerweezer Says:


Its CAT1….slow

ITF has not updated its website…
from the manufacture….

and there certrificate from ITF

skeezerweezer Says:


Your take on the whole serve/return issue was right on the money from what I saw also…

Lulu Iberica Says:

I tend to agree with Daniel that Rafa is never the all-out favorite in a hardcourt tournament. I’ve always considered Djoker to be a slightly better hardcourt player than Rafa, with USO last year being an exception. Even then, I think Djoker didn’t play his absolute best. I expected this IW final to be a battle, with probably Djoker winning based on recent form. During the first set I started thinking, “Nole fans are going to be upset, because he’s not bringing his best against Rafa here. Maybe he’s no longer intimidated by Roger, but Rafa still scares him?” I expected Raf to win then. But, when Rafa couldn’t break back and lost the second, I sensed Nole was gonna win, because he stopped being all negative, and he was just moving better and faster than Rafa. With or without Rafa’s first serve, I just saw Nole getting to things that Rafa couldn’t get to. That’s scary!

Tennis X sucks Says:



contador Says:

happy to read you posting again, grendel : )

skeeze , thanks for the info about hc surface for maimi. but now back to bracket for serious second and third guessing. :/

Kimberly, picking murray to win? you can’t pick against nadal, can you? : ) rafa’s gonna win miami. agreeing w/ u jane…oh dread, the fedal semi :/

c’mon smart ppl – join kimberly’s tennis-x bracket group – fantasy atp website challenge! gotta raise the average : )

Skeezerweezer Says:


Butt your here aren’t ya? Why bother. Why post? Plenty of talk sites to go to. They didn’t moderate your post did they?

The writers here don’t go boastin about how good they are, and they can be controversial and many times wrong, sometimes right. Predictions in any sport is risky stuff, but worthy of discussion. If it wasn’t I would be a betting man for sure.

There writing generates discussion, hits, and keep up to date stuff happening like the “Videos”. Look behind the article critique you gave and ask them how many hits they get here. That will tell you if this site sucks.

That said good luck in finding a great tennis site for you, there are others out there….

Nina Says:

I just wish Nole stops winning so I can get on with my life. ;)

stu Says:

^^ haha my sentiments exactly :)

grendel Says:

“The differnece in last Sunday was that he knew Djoko si the best returner in the game and insisted on serving heavy, he was going for aces all the time, for the lines.” Daniel, that’s an excellent point, didn’t occur to me – although it is still a bit odd, not easily explicable,seeing as the serve was so good in the first set. Nevertheless, it’s a good argument that Djokovic to a degree forced the poor serving.

jane, you have a point, but Djokovic’s serve was not so dramatically offline as Nadal’s became, so we don’t quite have symmetry or equivalence here. I still would maintain that Nadal played by far the most exciting tennis in the first set – he has a flexibility, a quite amazing looseness which, imo, is way beyond anyone apart from Federer at his very best. I am a reluctant admirer. I always want to see Nadal beaten, and yet I am frequently staggered by the sheer brilliance of the play. It’s not that Djokovic isn’t brilliant. Of course he is. But Nadal at his best is in a different league – at least, that’s what my eyes tell me. Uneducated eyes, perhaps….

Conty, do we really want to see a fedal semi? If you knew in advance that Federer was going to win, the answer to that is yes, no? Let’s go and hire a soothsayer…..

Carol Says:

“If only Federer was 23 years old….”

Yes, Riann Putter, if only. I think fans of some players can be thankful for that, or else, very few would be winning/beating Fed as they are now doing. The players who are in Fed’s age group, Haas, Hewitt, Roddick, Safin, would all have been glad to face the present aging Fed at 23, and I bet their H2Hs would have been better. DelPotro, Murray, Djoko couldn’t beat the Fed at 23, no way. I guess aging is the great equalizer. sigh

jane Says:

grendel, obviously, being biased towards him, i think Nole is amazing to watch, loose, so incredibly flexible, and now faster than ever before, with an improved, wicked forehand. But sometimes it does seem tougher for him to achieve difficult shots than the ease with which Rafa/Fed seem to achieve them i concur. Yet he does reach that sort of “flow” or fluidity sometimes, and it was evident at the AO, where he could just dictate at times, with seeming ease to my eye – uneducated as it may be. What I like about Sunday’s win (and frankly Saturday’s too) was that he wasn’t playing his A level but he won. True, Rafa’s serve dropped down to a shocking 25% in the second set, much lower than Nole’s 43% in the first. And that allowed Djoko to grab hold of the match…and never let go. Thankfully. I think we mostly agree.

Carol Says:

Most players will win if their opponent’s only serving ar 25%. Anyone who knows the game can agree 25% is tennis suicide.

contador Says:

lol…grendel. yes, only if we knew in advance federer would win. and he would need to have one of those days like at WTF. but…nadal having just lost in a masters 1000 final to djokovic? oh no. rafa will take no prisoners in miami. we know it!

never do i wish any harm to anyone. but my best guess is that only a physically compromised nadal would lose. also guessing he’s fine tuning the rocket serve right now.

i was lucky to watch nadal live in match play and on the practice court while in IW. his mannerisms on court don’t bother me as much in person as they do on TV. and yet i still support whoever is his opponent. at the same time he bugs me, i watch his skills in amazement.

atm, i imagine rafa is hoping to face djoko more than anyone. rafa will settle the score. wouldn’t you think?

jane Says:

B.t.w, Agree that Daniel makes an excellent point about Rafa’s serving, going for a lot since Nole’s one of the best returners in the game. Rewatched highlights and some of Rafa’s second serves were on the lines.

grendel Says:

jane, certainly Djokovic is everything you say. Clearly, he is already one of the greats. Nadal is just a different type of animal, different in kind almost. He seems to me like an india-rubber man. He’s given the whole concept of looseness another dimension – that’s the impression he makes on me and I daresay others. Maybe for this reason, I am inclined to overestimate him. He really does seem to be a kind of superman who, when on, can do little wrong. But I expect that is an illusion. There are other types of strength which he doesn’t have.

Contador, for the reasons everyone’s been saying, I’d be surprised if Djokovic made it to the final. Would be quite nice to see someone at least not in the top 3 reach the final.

jane Says:

lol grendel “He seems to me like an india-rubber man” – to me it’s his forehand that looks so bendable and easy. But he is obviously one of the fastest around the court! Fed flows or floats more though. Nadal’s movement – and form – is heavier.

Maybe Delpo will surprise, but he needs to beat Murray, presuming they meet. And Murray usually has his number.

I am picking Murray on that side, but still debating Rafa or Fed on the other… I have Rafa in there now as he will be looking for a win. But you never know, Fed could win too.

Skeezerweezer Says:

“I still would maintain that Nadal played by far the most exciting tennis in the first set ”

As i pointed out right after the match Nole was choosing to hit to Rafa’s fh, which changed to hittin 76% to the BH 2nd set. Hitting to Rafa’s FH consistently will produce exciting tennis for Rafa anytime

Daniel Says:

Plus, tense matches make a difference. In last year US Open, it wasn’t Nadal’s fault, but his draw was ridiculous easy. By the time he was in the finals he was mental and physycal rested and ready to die on court, to say the least. I know is not an excuse but Djoko was just reliefed by the Fed win after losing to him in 2007-08 and 09. If it wasn’t for the rain it would be finshed in 3 easy sets for Nadal. Although he didn’t faced the Super Saturday effect which some thought would be Nadal’s big obstacle winning US Open. Somehow the match wasn’t in equal terms.
when Nadal won in AO 09, he came after a grueling 5 setter with Verdasco and untill 2-2 fifth set, he looked more like: I will fight hard but whatever comes is fine. He had no business winning that match, even with Wimby 08 confidance.
When Fed imploded he grabed his chance.

Last Sunday the match got tense and Nadal failed in his most unique weapon. His Maimi run will depend on how he wins the matches, and he can have some tussle along the way.
By the time he and Fed play the beggining of the match usually tell us the history. WTF Fed start brilliant, AO 09 Fed got broken to start the match.

Agreed with grendel, Nadal’s firts set was amazing, and by the first point he started attacking Djoko, his shots wer very deep and hard, way different than in the final set.

Carol Says:

Somehow I don’t see Djokovic as being equal to Nadal in flexibility, and his fitness is still suspect. Nadal is way higher in everything over Djokovic. We fans, see and hear what we choose to, so it’s OK with me if one of djoko’s fans sees him as equal to nadal. I disagree that’s all.

I never said djokovic needed an excuse if he loses. I said it was mentioned here already. I don’t see Djkovic posting here, which means it had to come from one of his fans, and it did.. Check the comments.

Not interested in getting into anything here with anyone, nor being one of the pack. I mentioned my fiance (should’nt have done that) is a Fedal fan, more Fed, less Nadal and I’m Fed, Berdych, and few others’ fan. My point is, he has been posting here way back to 2006, and I’ve been reading over the past 18 months. He has warned me about the pack sticking together, which I got a whiff of a few nights ago. So, I’m not going to argue with anyone. Let’s just say I’m an informed consumer. hehe It’s obvious the djokovic fans are super-sensitive. Now that he’s won the three tournaments, he’s superman and equal to Nadal, and his fans are that also. Too bad.

Daniel, I was told you are one of the fair guys here, and from what I’ve read, you are.

contador Says:

have to disagree about nole. looking at those in his draw, including poor murray, djokovic would need to try hard to lose.

prior to AO, i didn’t know who would come out dominant in a muzznole match. they hadn’t met for quite awhile.

of course i could be wrong but i don’t think partnering in dubs with nole increases murray’s current chances against nole. drop the buddy, buddy thing, muzz! with nole in his present confident form, he’ll not feel empathetic. as i mentioned above, i was wondering if nole would be empathetic to his “friend” murray. not the case! just the opposite.

what bothered me about murray at IW was his apparent lack of ambition….losing to donald young? muzz was great fun to watch on the practice court – very impressive. and i borrowed binoculars so i could watch him playing soccer with monaco, troiki and others…

we’ll see grendel. i’ll eat my words maybe. btw would love to see your picks – not too late to the join tennis-x bracket group that kimberly set up on atp website. it’s fun! ; )

Carol Says:

“Nadal’s movement and form is heavier”. eh, what?? How could anyone’s movement be heavier? Heavier would mean more labored. don’t get it.

Skeezerweezer Says:

How about “being lighter on there feet in movement?” me gets it

Carol Says:

Lighter and faster me gets also. not heavier, me no get, cement shoes.

jane Says:

E.g., some people “are light on their feet” – that’s how I see Fed – whereas others don’t have that ” lightness”. Rafa is super fast and agile, but to me he doesn’t have that almost invisible footwork Fed has, esp., on hard court, where Fed’s footwork is almost silent. But of course Rafa slides around on clay like a dream.

jane Says:

Skeeze you beat me to it, just saw your reply. :)

contador Says:

hahaha “india-rubber man”……never seen anyone stretch like djokovic ( to myself i call him gumby ) i think he can do the splitz in both directions. his ability to return serve is unique. he dives, gets the racket on it somehow then he recovers and is in position for the next shot. i don’t think nadal can do the splitz in both directions….hahaha …i vote djokovic most flexible.

so we all see players differently. have to agree with jane about the lightness of feet federer has as opposed to anyone. not talking speed. murray, nadal and djokovic have speed. murray has a spring in his speedy steps. and dolgo is a speedster, boing! and wow. delpo is a pure stretcher…sheesh….lunge and stretch!

yeah. i have delpo going deep. maybe too deep. but he’ll lose against djokovic or murray, even with the argentine cheering section….what i think. delpo is not quite ready to go the distance but getting there.

skeezerweezer Says:

contador – gumby = nole lol! I have Delpo going too deep too, must be the mutual IW thing…

jane – ;( sorry didn’t mean to take away your post.

How about “running hard”? lol? Anyways, this is a fun one. So. Novak runs fairly light but is the only guy I have ever seen that slides like that on Hard, and effectively. When he stops and turns direction, it’s hard stuff!
Hope for the Nole fans he never turns a ankle, cause when that happens the sliding stuff will be over. Novak is extremely hard on his ankles, but it is an asset to is game for sure.
Rafa pounds the court with his legs when he runs, imho, and thus not surprising with the body issues, it starts from the bottom and runs up through the bod. Fed is the lightest gent me has ever seen on the court. When, in his long career, have you haver seen him with a injured leg/foot? I think I can only remember once he had his upper thigh wrapped?

Different running/movement for different folks….it’s all good


tx for the tip on waiting. Now I see the qualies entries and can go to bed in peace :). My picks will surprise everyone…..I am destined to be at the bottom again where I belong…

dari Says:

Oddly enough, while waiting for the subway this evening, I had this very conversation about movement, having not read these tennisx posts! I agree with what moat are saying.
Nole is unmatched in flexibility, and is lighter on his feet than Rafa. but his on court gymnastics are frightening. The cartwheel serve returns, the splits- sometimes they are so aggressively done I am sure it will be the last.
As for pure speed, I think Murray may have them all, but nole gets to a ball and resets a point like no one ive seen lately. Rafa gets to the ball, can muscle through and bend the ball in the court.
As for novak, I don’t know how he does it, but he surprises with an unbelievable get, and often enough its a ball that the other guy can’t simply put away. He gets back into position and a few balls later he’s won the point.
I’ve said too much, but I’ve gone from disbelief to awe of this aspext of his game.
Makes for exciting tennis!

dari Says:

ps, went to the bracket to change after Q’s came in, but immediately upon opening, my brain fried and i just submitted as i had it.
buen suerte a todos!

jane Says:

^ dari, ha ha – I did the same thing. Just left it. Feel VERY unsure of my choices this time. : /

margot Says:

conty: watching Andy think, he could have been a very credible short distance sprinter. Love watching that sudden explosive speed from no-where. Especially, as most of the time on court he does not look especially alert!
Movement is my favourite part of the game so probably why I’m not so keen on Delboy, Sod etc.
Lordy, lordy skeeze, don’t know why I’m giving YOU tips ;)

grendel Says:

well, conty and jane have convinced me that perhaps “flexible” was the wrong word to characterise Nadal’s unique movement – but the right one to characterise Djokovic; certainly about the near-splits movement. I have also in my mind’s eye Djokovic going one way in anticipation, being wrongfooted, but somehow managing to lunge in the opposite direction – clearly off balance – and still putting in a respectable shot which does not subject him to the kill. I’ve seen Nadal do that too, but Djokovic does it most startlingly.

jane says:”to me it’s his [Nadal’s] forehand that looks so bendable and easy”. Now that captures it perfectly, although it doesn’t quite convey how unique it is. Personally, I can’t think of any other shot from any other player remotely like it.

Absolutely, Federer is the lightest on his feet – that’s the panther quality which Sampras had, though Fed’s taken it into another stratosphere. Maybe it is Nadal’s anticipation – but he’s become absolutely lethal at the net (if we disregard bizzare smashes like the other day in the final!)suddenly he’s there when you’d thought he was about 10 miles behind the base line, placing the ball with the precision a surgeon would be proud of – this contributes in my mind to the impression of flexibility, although strictly speaking it’s got nothing to do with it. Flexibility of mind, perhaps. So an impression gathers in your mind.

“By the time he and Fed play the beggining of the match usually tell us the history. WTF Fed start brilliant, AO 09 Fed got broken to start the match.” Daniel, once is happenstance, twice is a nice story, three times you begin to suspect something – but then, dammit, the fourth time up pops the counter example to lay you flat on your face. D’you remember that claycourt match (was it Monte Carlo?) when Federer raced into a 4-0 lead, looked to be wiping the floor with Nadal – and the silly bugger still managed to lose! I found it hard to forgive Federer for that – I had the feeling he was momentarily star struck as he was pulling the hapless Nadal all around the court(“aren’t I just the bees knees?”) and thereby lost his concentration. Nadal broke back, and instantly Federer’s bubble was broken and we were back to that old woebegone look (“this chap is just unfair, how is anybody supposed to play him?”). Also, didn’t Federer win the first set, easily too, in the RG final with Nadal one year?

Little Wing Says:

Rafa totally outplayed Djokovic in that first set, and really made him look mediocre and djokovic must know it. Rafa did indeed panic when his 1st serve percentage dropped knowing that djokovic is a good returner but his biggest failure in this match was his mind. Djokovic wasn’t even returning well in this match and only really started to attack Rafa’s 2nd serve in the 3rd set. If Rafa had just kept it together mentally and played with more colm he could won the 2nd set and match even with a crappy serve. He had already won the highest percentage of 2nd serve points for the whole tournament. Although Rafa’s usually so strong mentally he’s not a machine and he had a mental meltdown, i’m sure it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last.

Nina Says:

@Carol… As a fan of Nole I don’t have any problem admitting that both Nadal and Federer are superior players as their achievements indicate. But to say that they are way high over him in avery aspect of the game is deceitful and it can only come from a very biased fan. Otherwise how do you rightfully explain that their encounters are always very close affairs with just some points deciding the outcome and that he has beaten both guys so many times?

I accept that you have your opinion but I cannot take it at face value.

jane Says:

Good point Nina – obviously Fedal have the edge over Nole and Murray in achievements and some other areas, (mentally, though Fed’s focus isn’t always as sharp, and forehand-wise, though Nole’s has gotten better, and at the net, though Andy has the skills, just doesn’t use them, and have been more consistent) but these two have been right behind them for years, sitting at 3 &4 in the rankings for a reason. Nole has ro be the one of the players besides Fed to have met Rafa on clay so many times, in finals or semis,, and it’s due to his (and Fed’s)own proficiency on that surface. Also Nole & Murray have played Fed a lot on hard courts too. Both are excellent players. I think Nole has raised his level mentally to start this year and it has put him closer. Murray just needs to build confidence with some wins.

It is testament to Fed’s talent that he is still right there, even though he is nearing 30.

This question of speed – Murray’s is outstanding as margot and contador point out, but it goes hand and hand with his anticipation, which is fsbulous. He is on his way often before the ball is struck. I think return and defensewise, Nole, Rafa and Murray have an edge on Roger now, though Fed is still one of the best at first serve returns, e.g., he’s often been able to neutralize Roddick’s best weapon. Fed’s defense is still top level but he is maybe a step slower now, and some players run him side to side because of that. His aggression when he really turns it on, is still, basically, the best or near to it – blitz on a fast hardcourt.

jane Says:

Little wing, “He had already won the highest percentage of 2nd serve points for the whole tournament” – interesting stat. Yeah I noticed that normally Nole is so much more effective at taking advantage of second serves, but he couldn’t do much with Rafa’s second serve at first. Nole did get his own serves up to 60% by the end of the match but he was tight, serve-wise, at the beginning. Rafa was very aggressive and in control to start. Although Nole did break him in set one, but after they exchanged breaks, Rafa got the definative one. It was reveresed in the second, where they exchanged breaks but Nole got the definitive one. No, no one is a machine, and even Rafa has the odd mental lapse, although they are rare!

grendel Says:

” Although Rafa’s usually so strong mentally he’s not a machine and he had a mental meltdown, i’m sure it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last.” I confess, I was inclined to think that, seems unthinkable, so you start looking for other reasons. And, after all, mental meltdowns don’t take place in a vacuum – there is a context, if you can find it. What about Nadal being rusty – he didn’t particularly distinguish himself in the tourney by his standards – combined with respect for Djokovic’s defence?

I too noticed how Djokovic could do little with Nadal’s serve in first set – and couldn’t help contrasting this with how he handles Fed’s serve these days. It’s an amazing thing, when you think about it. 2 or 3 years ago, Fed’s serve was supreme, everyone understood how great it was just because, relatively, it lacked pace. So it must have had something else going for it, eh, eh? And meanwhile, Nadal’s serve was generally reckonned to be workmanlike and not much else – although I noticed some years ago that it was very effective on grass, few free points but very difficult to attack.

And now – perish the thought – it’s Fed’s serve that seems to be workmanlike and – uh – not often a great deal else. It’s a puzzle. Look at Karlovic. Any chance Fed can turn back that irritatingly ticking clock at least where the serve is concerned?

Little Wing Says:

Grendel, regarding the mental meltdown I’d agree rustiness and as you mentioned early lack of match toughness were the main factors and of course having a player of Djokovic’s caliber on the other side. Rafa mentioned in one of his pressers that after a layoff he tends to more nervous and I noticed that in his early matches against Sweeting and Devaarman he really seemed more nervous than usual which i think contributed his poor showing in those matches. It’s quite amazing that a player of Rafa’s caliber and with everything his accomplished especially last year he still gets really nervous. It’s as though sometimes he forgets his greatness and for me that’s one of his endearing factors.

Little Wing Says:

Also regaring Rafa’s 2nd serve, I’m not sure if i’m the only one who’s noticed but it seems he’s definitely improved it and seems to be hitting it alot deeper and maybe with less spin. Rafa’s 2nd serve has always been difficult for most to handle because he puts extra extra spin on it and it just moves away from you so you have to catch it a the right time unless of course you’re 6’6 and it jumps right into your strike zone. I know Murray’s also said on numerous occasions how difficult it is to deal with Rafa’s 2nd serve.

skeezerweezer Says:

lotta good reads on this thread ;). I have no comment at this time cause mine would be inferior to what is already written. I shall read on :) :) :)

Daniel Says:

Jane, “Nole is so much more effective at taking advantage of second serves, but he couldn’t do much with Rafa’s second serve at first”

I think Djoko intentionally returned every ball to the center of the court deep, right into Nadal’s body, He didn’t want to give him angle right to start the point. I was getting irritated with this, since he has the shot to go for return winners, even Fed are doing those nowadays. But maybe Djoko was with a game plan and he sticj to it all the way. As skeeze said, once he start pounding Rafa’s backhand he got the edge in the match.

grendel, I was referreing to hard court matches, my bad. That’s why I mentioned WTF 2010 and AO 2009. Those clay matches in 2008, specially that Monte Carlo one, when Fed served 5-1 40-30 and missed a forehand on set point 3 feets from the net wide gives me the chills till today.

Daniel Says:

Litle wing, I notice it too. It’s more flat and close to the serve line. It used to be only spin. Nowadays you almost see nobody running away from the backhand to attack with a forehand, since the serve is more flat and fast.

sheila Says:

maybe im delusional, but i just dont c anyone winning nadal in a best of 5 & therefore he will maintain #1 for @ least another year. not counting him out of going beyond rogers record 16 slams. this coming from a huge roger federer fan. nadal is simply 2hard 2beat in a best of 5. hes the tuffest mentally in this sport. i simply dont c djokovic getting #1 from him.

Tootie Says:

Good article. I would love to see Nole break Federer’s records and I think he needs to get married. Thank how cute it would be to see little ones come on the court with Daddy!

Braca Says:

@ Carol: “DelPotro, Murray, Djoko couldn’t beat the Fed at 23, no way”

… because they were 16 or 17 back then :) You simply cannot compare people who peak at different times, they will never be comparable … I am Novak’s fan but I very much respect the greatness of Roger (especially) and Rafa. That being said, and not to take anything away from Roger’s dominance during the last decade, I think the circumstances to some degree went his way … He didn’t have any injuries, not even minor and he didn’t face exacly the stiffest competion out there … Pete was already gone, Andre not even close to his best, Roddick way to one-dimensional (I think he is better now then he was then, actually he was better during 2009-10 than as a number one in the world), Hewitt limited by his size and Safin – mental case (although in my opinion probably the most talented and complete player ever, and beautiful to watch when he is on, like when he won those two Slams, but still huge underachiever).
Anyway, the sole fact that he is still far better player than anyone on tour not named Rafa or Novak, says it all. He is probably, until proven otherwise the GOAT. I like Pete Sampras more, but that’s just personal preference, the facts go in Roger’s favor and until somebody wins all Grand Slam titles in one year (probably impossible) together with Olympic gold (even more impossible), Federer is going to be the most obvious choice (although he doesn’t have the Olympic gold or Davis Cup like Rafa does).
To go back to Carol’s sentence from the top that inspired me to write this longer than expected comment … Roger will never be 23 at the same time as Novak, Rafa, Murray or Delpo, but they will also not be 30 when he is 30, some other guys will have a crack at them then and we will see how they handle it … The point is we should enjoy that we have so many great players out there in the present who can give us a lot of pleasure from watching them … It would be great to se 23 year old Roger and Novak go at it other or Roger and Rafa, or Roger and Delpo, but that’s just impossible and the fact that Roger at that stage of his career was beating everyone, doesn’t mean that he would beat these guys, because personally, I think this crop is much better that those guys I mentioned earlier ever were.

Polo Says:

@ Carol: “DelPotro, Murray, Djoko couldn’t beat the Fed at 23, no way”

Easy to say, isn’t it? Because there is no way we can go back to the time.

Also easy to say that Fed couldn’t beat the Djoko at the same age… which Nole is now (23) and has already beaten Federer three times. And that is a fact, not some fantasy scenario which you proposed.

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