Nadal, Spain Host France; Djokovic, Serbia Welcome Argentina in Davis Cup Semifinals Friday
by Staff | September 16th, 2011, 1:16 am

It’s Davis Cup semifinals and there’s little rest for the two best players in men’s tennis. Just days after his US Open win, Novak Djokovic and his defending champion Serbian team host the visiting Argentines led by Juan Martin Del Potro in a tie played in Belgrade.

“Nole is coming back today, we will see how he will feel and whether he will be ready,” said Viktor Troicki, who is expected to replace Djokovic if needed. “If he is not ready, I am. I will fight for every point to help my team reach the finals for the second year in a row.”

In Spain, Rafael Nadal was selected to play singles for his country against the powerful French who feature a trio of established stars. The red clay will be kind to Spain who will have the home court in Cordoba.

“I am tired for sure,” said Nadal yesterday. “It’s only Wednesday, I played a very long match on Monday. I arrived late yesterday and for sure it is a challenge for me to be here. I am trying for my country, but it’s tough.

“I am happy with what happened in New York,” continued the Spaniard. “I fought a lot, I was playing in the right way, but Djokovic did fantastic. For me it’s not a mental problem (playing Davis Cup), it’s more of a physical problem. If we talk about the mental part, I am ready to play.”

Davis Cup Capsules courtesy of the ITF:

Head-to-head: first meeting
(Please note that the head-to-head record between Yugoslavia and Argentina was used to determine choice of ground for this tie. Yugoslavia led the series 1-0).

R1: Novak Djokovic (SRB) v David Nalbandian (ARG)
R2: Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) v Juan Martin del Potro (ARG)

R3: Janko Tipsarevic / Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) v Juan Ignacio Chela / Juan Monaco (ARG)

R4: Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Juan Martin del Potro (ARG)
R5: Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) v David Nalbandian (ARG)

Defending champion SERBIA won their first Davis Cup title by defeating France 3-2 in last year’s final in Belgrade. Serbia became the 13th nation to win Davis Cup. It was the 6th time a nation had won the Davis Cup trophy on their debut in the final. Serbia were also the 2nd unseeded nation to win Davis Cup after Croatia in 2005.

Serbia defeated India 4-1 in the 1st round in Novi Sad and Sweden 4-1 in the quarterfinals in Halmstad to reach the semifinals for a 2nd consecutive year and just the 2nd time overall. Viktor Troicki played as No. 1 in both ties and is undefeated in 4 singles rubbers played in 2011.

Serbia first competed in Davis Cup in 1995 under the Yugoslav flag. Yugoslavia was renamed Serbia & Montenegro in 2004 before Serbia became an independent nation in 2007. Before 1995, Serbian players represented former Yugoslavia, which reached the World Group semifinals three times in 1988-89 and 1991.

Serbia are on a 7-match winning streak in Davis Cup. The Serbians have only lost 3 times at home since 1995. The last team to beat Serbia in a home tie was Belgium in 2005, which was also the last time Novak Djokovic lost a singles rubber in Serbia.

At No. 2, Serbia are ranked at their highest position to date in the Davis Cup Nations Ranking.

If Serbia win, they will be at home in the final against Spain or away to France.

ARGENTINA are into the semifinals for the 7th time since returning to the World Group in 2002. They have reached the quarterfinals or better every year since 2002. They are looking to reach their 4th final in history.

Argentina defeated Romania 4-1 in the 1st round and Kazakhstan 5-0 in the quarterfinals this year. Both ties were played at Parque Roca in Buenos Aires.

The Argentine team is looking to win their first Davis Cup semifinal away from home. Since the inception of the World Group in 1981, Argentina have made 9 semifinal appearances, losing all 6 on foreign soil (l. Sweden 4-1 in 1983; l. Australia 5-0 in 1990; l. Russia 3-2 in 2002; l. Spain 3-2 in 2003; l. Slovak Republic 4-1 in 2005; l. France 5-0 in 2010).

David Nalbandian won his 32nd Davis Cup rubber (singles and doubles) by defeating Adrian Ungur in the 1st round to put himself in 2nd place on the all-time list of most Davis Cup wins for Argentina. Only Guillermo Vilas (57 wins) has more victories for Argentina.

Argentina is a 3-time runner-up in Davis Cup: in 1981 (l. USA), 2006 (l. Russia) and 2008 (l. Spain). Its defeat to Spain in Mar del Plata ended a run of 13 consecutive wins at home. Argentina is one of only 3 nations, along with India and Romania, to contest more than one Davis Cup Final without winning the title.

If Argentina win, they will play France at home or Spain away in the final.

Head-to-head: Spain lead 5-2

R1: Rafael Nadal (ESP) v Richard Gasquet (FRA)
R2: David Ferrer (ESP) v Gilles Simon (FRA)

R3: Feliciano Lopez / Fernando Verdasco (ESP) v Michael Llodra / Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)

R4: Rafael Nadal (ESP) v Gilles Simon (FRA)
R5: David Ferrer (ESP) v Richard Gasquet (FRA)

France ended an 87-year wait to defeat Spain for just the 2nd time in history in last year’s quarterfinals. Not only that, but Guy Forget’s team also whitewashed their opponents 5-0 – it was only the 2nd time that the defending champion had been defeated 5-0 since the inception of the World Group in 1981.

SPAIN are making their 15th consecutive World Group appearance.

Spain have reached the semifinals for the 3rd time in the last 4 years after defeating Belgium 4-1 in the 1st round in Charleroi and USA 3-1 in the quarterfinals in Austin, Texas.

Last year, Spain won their 19th consecutive tie at home when they defeated Switzerland 4-1 in the 1st round, setting a new World Group record for the longest run of wins by a nation at home. Spain’s last home loss was in 1999 (l. Brazil), which was also the last time they lost a Davis Cup tie on clay. They have won 21 straight ties on the surface since that defeat.

Spain have been crowned Davis Cup champion 4 times since 2000, having never previously won the title. The Spanish lifted the trophy in 2000 (d. Australia 3-1 on indoor clay), 2004 (d. USA 3-2 on indoor clay), 2008 (d. Argentina 3-1 on indoor hard) and 2009 (d. Czech Republic 5-0 on indoor clay).

If Spain win this weekend, they will have an away tie against Serbia or a home tie against Argentina in the final.

Spain are currently No. 1 in the Davis Cup Nations Ranking and are one of 5 nations to rank No. 1 since the rankings were introduced in 2001 (alongside Australia, Croatia, France and Russia). Spain were ranked No. 1 between September 2004 and September 2005, and have also held the top spot since July 2009.

FRANCE are bidding to reach back-to-back finals for the first time since 2002. Last year, the French lost 3-2 to Serbia in the Davis Cup Final in Belgrade. The French reached the final without losing a live rubber against Germany (4-1 in Toulon), Spain (5-0 in Clermont-Ferrand) and Argentina (5-0 in Lyon).

France have advanced to the semifinals for the 2nd consecutive year after defeating Austria 3-2 in the 1st round in Vienna and Germany 4-1 in the quarterfinals in Stuttgart. Jeremy Chardy was the hero of the 1st round tie, which was played in an airport hangar, winning both of his singles rubbers including a decisive 5th rubber against Martin Fischer.

This is France’s 4th consecutive away tie. They have won 3 of their last 4 away ties in the competition.

France have been crowned Davis Cup champion 9 times and are joint-third (with Great Britain) on the list of all-time champions, behind USA and Australia. They have also reached the final a further 6 times. Their last title win came in 2001 when they defeated Australia 3-2 on grass in Melbourne.

Only France and USA have won a Davis Cup Final on all four surfaces (grass, clay, hard and carpet).

France are one of 5 nations to have held the No. 1 ranking, alongside Australia, Croatia, Russia and Spain. France held the top spot between February 2002 and September 2003 and again from April 2004 to July 2004. The Davis Cup Nations Ranking was introduced in 2001 and is updated after each round.

France have only twice been absent from the World Group since its inception in 1981. Their 29 years in the World Group is second only to Czech Republic, Sweden and USA, who have competed in the World Group for 30 of the 31 years.

If France win this weekend, they will be at home to Serbia and away to Argentina in the final.


Romania v Czech Republic (s) Centrul National De Tenis, Bucharest (clay – outdoors)
(s) Russia v Brazil , Kazan Tennis Academy, Kazan (hard – indoors)
(s) Israel v Canada, Canada Stadium, Ramat Hasharon (hard – outdoors)
South Africa v Croatia (s), Fanie Du Toit Sports Stadium, Potchefstroom (hard – outdoors)
(s) Chile v Italy, Estadio Nacional, Santiago (hard – outdoors)
Japan v India (s), Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo (hard – outdoors)
Belgium v Austria (s), Lotto Arena, Antwerp (hard – indoors)
Australia v Switzerland (s), Royal Sydney Golf Club, Sydney (grass – outdoors)
(s) = seed

Czech Republic are looking to protect their record of only having been absent from the World Group once since its inception in 1981. Along with Sweden and USA, the Czechs have been present in the World Group for 30 of its 31 years. Their opponents, Romania, are making their 6th straight appearance in the play-offs. Their only loss in a play-off in that time came against Sweden in 2009.

Russia have played in the World Group every year since 1993. The 2002 and 2006 champions will be looking to continue that streak of World Group appearances. Brazil are looking to return to the World Group for the first time since 2003. They have lost at this stage of the competition for the last 5 years.

Neither Israel nor Canada competed in the World Group 1st round this year, so both remain undefeated in 2011. Israel, who reached the World Group semifinals in 2009, are looking to reach the top tier for the 10th time, while Canada have only made 3 previous World Group appearances.

South Africa have not been in the World Group since 1998. Conversely, Croatia have only been absent from the World Group once since making their debut in 2002.

Italy has a perfect record against Chile and even defeated the South American team to claim their only Davis Cup title in 1976. Chile have been in the World Group play-offs for 6 of the last 8 years. Italy are looking to return to the World Group for the first time since 2000.

The only all-Asian clash in the World Group play-offs sees two teams who have played each other 21 times in the past. India hold an 18-3 advantage over Japan but have not won on Japanese soil since 2001.

This is the 9th successive year that Austria have been in the World Group play-offs and their only loss in a play-off in that time was against Chile in 2009. The odds are stacked in their favour against Belgium, having played and won all 4 of their previous encounters.

This is Switzerland’s 7th consecutive World Group play-off tie. Last year the Swiss team lost 5-0 to Kazakhstan at this stage and are faced with an Australian team under a new captain looking to return to the World Group for the first time since 2007.

Many players are playing Davis Cup this year in order to be eligible for the London Olympics. Per ITF rules: “A player is eligible to compete in the Olympic Tennis Event provided they are in good standing with their National Association and the ITF, and have made themselves available for selection to represent their country in Davis Cup or Fed Cup for two of the following years – 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 – provided one of those years is 2011 or 2012.”

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54 Comments for Nadal, Spain Host France; Djokovic, Serbia Welcome Argentina in Davis Cup Semifinals Friday

contemperory Says:

In the favourite grass court, this looks to be an amazing match between Fed and Hewitt – Fed has come back from a set and break down to lead 2-1 sets and a break.

Amazing 80 winners and 21 aces to 35 unforced errors by Fed and 64-29 for Hewitt.

Wheeler Says:

And no one cares about Davis Cup. I am surprised the tennis machines (players) are playing again this week.

scineram Says:

Aussie-Suiss could be huge. Stan will definitely have to be on form. Two matches from Rog are not enough, remember the Cechs?

Semis are interesting too. Serbia coule host Spain in the final, that would be epic.

scineram Says:

Just saw the Friday results. Tomic came back against Stan. the Suiss must win the doubles now, I would not count on Lleyton losing the decider,

vox777 Says:

Serbia vs Spain in finals would indeed be epic. Also it would be first time for Nole to play Nadal in front of home crowd. And I will have to pay a hefty sum to watch that, but who cares! When they are playing in Serbia, I’m definitely watching!
Congrats to Nole and Nadal on showing up on Davis cup matches!
Hope Serbia wins! Spain also!

Brando Says:

Spain 1-0 up. Rafa beat gasquet 6-3 6-0 6-1

alison hodge Says:

@brando so glad for spain,but delighted for rafa showing no signs of a us open hangover,so dissapointed to miss arguably the greatest ever clay court player win on his favourite surface.

dari Says:

Nalbandian was up 5-1 serving for match against troicki and vik broke him. older guys having trouble serving it out these days. wonder if vik can come out the winner in this match somehow, think it would be a big boost for the team if they can get it done without novak. it certainly SEEMS possible

dari Says:

david gets it done on the second try, no heroic comeback for vik today.
no clue about tipsa and delpo next. tipsa playing up to his potential and delpo not really at this point.

Swiss Maestro Says:

the ball is in the argies’ court now. if delpo and nalby can win their points over tipsy, we will get a argentina-spain match on red clay.

and how about a delpo-djoko showdown on sunday?

too bad france is playing spain on clay. simon/richie should have put up more fight than that, though.

Swiss Maestro Says:

here’s tomic on fed :

“The youngster admitted to first-set nerves, not least at the sight of Federer watching courtside. ‘I was a bit nervous – having Federer watch you, it’s a bit difficult to have your idol watching.’

How about playing you? Tomic sounded every bit the big kid he is when he looked ahead to his first meeting with the Swiss master: ‘I just pray that he doesn’t like my game. If he likes it, I’m screwed.”

it is going to be fun seeing these two and to see tomic up against the best. against rafa in melbourne and novak in wimbledon, he gave a good account of himself, that kid.

Brando Says:

@Swiss maestro: I think tomic is the best young talent coming through. He did well against rafa and nole but more importantly he’s got a game that can trouble the big boys, is very confident and enjoys the big stage as if he feels he belongs there. He’s top 60 atm, should be top 20 at atleast this time next year!

Swiss Maestro Says:

brando, i agree with you regarding tomic. he has all the makings of a future no.1 i wish he served better though. with a height of 6 4 or thereabouts his serve does not live upto it. it is something he should work on.

here’s a funny cartoon on roger’s hot-dog shots :)

El Flaco Says:

Tomic’s serve is very similar to Andrea Petkovic. It’s not a pretty sight.

Umer Says:

All the best Nadal.

Humble Rafa Says:

Roger struggling against Tomic on grass. WOW.

scineram Says:

Rog won, what is with he other match?

Brando Says:

Nolebshall beat dwlpo, decider will be balmy- tipsarevic which is a close call

Brando Says:

Frigging iPhone

Kimberly Says:

Djokovic retires against Delpo?

Kimberly Says:

Spain v. Argentina final

madmax Says:

Wheeler Says:
And no one cares about Davis Cup. I am surprised the tennis machines (players) are playing again this week.

September 16th, 2011 at 4:02 am


They have to play. It’s a condition for Olympic entry next year.

Humble Rafa Says:
Roger struggling against Tomic on grass. WOW.

September 17th, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Not at all. Roger played well, considering a 24 hour flight, a 4 hour semi final match and a different surface with hours rest before he went on court.

Brilliant Maestro.

dari Says:

Too bad I don’t have tennis channel anymore, there was a gripping 5th rubber from what I hear with wawrinka and hewitt in 5th set 5-3 when play was suspended due to no light!
And hear the Djokovic retirement was quite tearful and drqmatic. That was too much to ask after USO for Djokovic. Hope he is ok.

grendel Says:

hope quick change of topic is permissible. That interview with the likeable Vajda, Djokovic’s coach, which mat4 posted: there was something he said which has tickled my curiosity. Talking about D’s return of serve (in tones of wonder) he said it was a “gift”. That suggests he didn’t have too much import into its composition himself. It also implies a bit that the level Djokovic achieves with it is kind of beyond practice. Steve Tignor recently made the strange comment that Djokovic’s return is equivalent to a serve – it is that potent. Of course he was alluding primarily to the number of breaks of Nadal’s serve in the final.

One question occured to me. For years, Federer has been struggling to find an answer to Nadal’s targeting of his bh, and he has been unable to do so. Hardly likely, at this stage, that he ever will. What about, I wonder, concentrating on the return of serve? Federer has tended to find Nadal’s serve difficult, whereas Djokovic laps it up – at least, the non 2010 US Open serve. Surely Federer has the capacity to modify his return of serve and to learn from Djokovic how to pummel Nadal’s serve?

Or maybe not. Maybe Djokovic just has a gift, as Vajda said – and it’s non-communicable!

Brando Says:

@ grendel: I do agree that nole’s return is excellent. But he needs to sort his serve out if he wants to continue staying at the top. How I see it is if nole sorts his serve out then he stays at the top. BUT if he doesn’t andnsay rafa gets his USO 2010 serve, then he’ll struggle since as good as his return is guys like rafa and Murray can break his serve and ultimately what’s the point of breaking if you can’t hold your own serve?

Brando Says:

P.S: I read somewhere that this was the 1st USO win by someone since 2001 that was won by someone who isn’t a great server (Sampras, roddick, federer, del potro) or was serving great ( nadal) . Had nole faced rafa of USO 2010 or federer- meaning someone with a serve then it would have been difficult for him considering nadal himself broke nole atleast on 5 occassions.

Brando Says:

Does anyone know if this retirement counts as del potro 1st win against nole or not? Also whether it counts as nole’s 3rd loss this year? Thanks in advance.

Kimberly Says:

Nadal may sack Uncle Toni? Or BS journalism?

dari Says:

Novak on the ground and Argentina celebrating,
Davis cup drama.
There are more where delpo is hugging and applauding novak, but this photo was particularly striking.
Re uncle toni, I never thought I would see the day when this diacussion was even happening! Sounds like rafa wants to be his own man, we shall see. But yeah, uncle toni needs to spend more time with his own kids, I’m sure, besides any tennis elements of a possible split

Brando Says:

Poor nole- bad luck for him. But he should know that he is a LARGE part of the reason that Serbia are even in this position! He’s served them well, no doubt!

Brando Says:

“I am not saying I would have won if I had been 100% fit because Del Potro played at a very high level and never in my professional career did I struggle with my return of serve as I did here.” high praise from nole for del potro. Del potro hopefully shall finish in top 10 this year, then next year watchout for the big man!

Humble Rafa Says:

Nadal may sack Uncle Toni? Or BS journalism?

No, it’s serious though I have not made a decision. Uncle Toni keep saying run fast, moonball, moonball. But moonballing is not working.

But I do have a water boy and bag carrier positions open. Uncle Toni can apply.

jane Says:

Get better Nole! His rib / back injury and his shoulder earlier all all connected to his service motion I suspect. He arcs his back so much. It seems like his serve is a shot that doesn’t come easy, although it was great at the beginning of the year, but over time it deteriorated. It’s still better than 2009-mid 2010, but he needs to sort it out.

Congrats to Argentine. I would love to see them win it all! They have been three time finalists but haven’t won. Is that right? However, I suspect Spain will win again. Congrats to Spain also, for reaching the finals again!

mat4 Says:


Djokovic served much better at the beginning of the season. I checked the other day stats from the AO, and they were much better than at the USO. It seems now that he struggled a bit because of his back.

But I agree. Although Djokovic has a serve very difficult to read, he needs a bit of precision and pace on the T.

Charles Lin wrote that Rafa had a shoulder problem after his last USO, so he reverted to his old serve. But sometimes, I find all the story with his “once in a life” serve strange.

mat4 Says:

Hello, Jane. Glad you’re here too.

I watched the first set, then I had to leave for a while. DelPo played a great first set, serving well, hitting flat, making few mistakes. I don’t have the stats but there were so few unforced errors.

Although an injury is never good for a player, at least Djoko will rest a bit. He needs it.

mat4 Says:

@Skeezer, Grendel…:

The other day, comparing the play in the semi and the final, I started thinking that Nadal had made the 3D revolution in tennis. He uses so well the height of the ball (and the spin, of course). It allows him to change the pace, to slow the game at will, retaining a heavy, fast ball. Is it what makes him retrieve so well?

In comparison, Federer Djokovic played essentially in two dimensions (though the angles are absolutely unbelievable). Is the third dimension what the new strings, the incredible spins have added to our venerable game?

jane Says:

Hi mat4, hope you are well. So do you think Nole’s injuries are service motion related? Or am I out to lunch on that?

Interesting idea about Rafa and 3D tennis.

mat4 Says:


Perhaps. He hasn’t serve faster than 126 mph since Wimbledon, and he also used a lot of sliced serves.

But with the high rebound of the ball at the USO he also had to use his shoulder in a similar way for lots of forehands. Then, there is the return when he stretches a lot. That didn’t help.

With the popularity he has in China (and the money Tacchini is making there) I see him playing Beidjing and Shangai. I think he will skip Basel and Paris to rest and work.

The allegations about Rafa parting with his uncle Toni are interesting. I tend to think it could be wise, if he can find a good coach instead.

Brando Says:

@mat4: no doubt about that mat4. He needs his serve back at AUS2011 level, going forward. It shall make things easier for him. Re rafa: I do not know where the serve went. I remember post USO 2010 he was still serving big in thailand and the japan open. After that it’s gone AWOL. Rafa’s no idiot- he knows that serve helped him massively. I suspect the only reason why he’s lost it is that it causes him alot of strain on his shoulder. But then he was injury free in the last 4 months of last season, so how much strain could it have put on his shoulder?

Brando Says:

It would be good for rafa if he loses uncle toni at this stage of his career.

madmax Says:

grendel Says:

One question occured to me. For years, Federer has been struggling to find an answer to Nadal’s targeting of his bh, and he has been unable to do so. Hardly likely, at this stage, that he ever will. What about, I wonder, concentrating on the return of serve? Federer has tended to find Nadal’s serve difficult, whereas Djokovic laps it up – at least, the non 2010 US Open serve. Surely Federer has the capacity to modify his return of serve and to learn from Djokovic how to pummel Nadal’s serve?

grendel, hi. I think Federer will be studying the dvd’s of novak’s strategy against nadal! Even though he found an answer to him in November. It’s not even been a year since he beat rafa, but I do think that a lot of it has to do with confidence. And those lovely loopy shots that he has brought into his game completely took rafa by surprise last November at WTF. In fact, he found many answers that day not only to nadal’s tennis but the critics too. It was a great day in sport. And not long to go now before the WTF are upon us in November.

Will be going again too.

jane Says:

Wow, this gossip about Rafa and Uncle Toni splitting is so intriguing as they have always seemed to have such a strong relationship. But it shows Rafa still wants to take it to another level, even after ten slams.

mat4, true, the many strains could factor in; I had only scores on, but I read he was taken out on a stretcher. i umderstand China/Shanghai is important but ai hope he doesn’t take the court again until he 100% or close to it.

Brando Says:


could not agree more re rafa. The man is a fierce competitor and if he feels a new coach can help him tackle the djokovic problem- DO IT! Get a new coach!

Nole: I actually want him to win in the masters cup and 2 other tourny’s so that he has the UNDISPUTED best season ever! He has a once in a lifetime oppurtunity here but im not too sure if he wants to go for it or not. I think he should, he’ll have a couple of weeks of rest and recovery.

mat4 Says:


I think Novak will play the Beijing tournament. Tacchini owns him 20M $ for this year and he gets 10% of the sales in China. It is a lot of good reasons.

Is the back injury serious? I just hope that only the muscles are affected. Then, two weeks should be enough to recover.

Then, nobody comments my 3D vision of Rafa’s game, Jane excepted. I was so proud of it.

grendel Says:

madmax, I was thinking more at slams, which is where Nadal plays at his absolute best. D’you really think Fed will study videos of Djokovic? I’d like to think so, but it’s kind of hard to visualise. Federer has always thought he is the best. It is the reason he has enjoyed such success. And it also may be the reason why success will now elude him. Times change.

“Congrats to Argentine. I would love to see them win it all!” I absolutely agree jane, – but no chance, I fear. The final is to be played in Spain on clay. Nuff said.

The guy who manically arches his back is Cilic – has he paid the price yet? I’m not an experienced Djokovic watcher, but even I can tell that his serve – when you compare him to someone like Federer – wobbles up and down alarmingly. If he can sort that out, surely he will be unassailable for the next couple of years or so.

Interested to read your comments mat4, though not sure I quite understand them. Nadal has always seemed to me to have a touch of the voodoo about him – perhaps that’s the non-technical way of putting it. Count on him to spring a surprise or two next year.

jane Says:

Oops, have just realised my typo after grendel quoted it, lol. I meant congrats to Argentina!

Brando, what I found interesting in that article is Rafa’s voice is so assertive, claiming he has his own “opinions” and ideas about things. Maybe he is sick and tired of following Toni’s dictates? Uncle Toni always did come across as someone who was stingy on praise for his prodigy but who lavished it on others. I guess one could see this as working in Rafa’s favour, though, as it perhaps always made him seek, never allowed him to get comfortable and rest on his laurels. A tough love psychology maybe. Anyhow, I am very curious if this is true and how it will develop. Imagine: two of the top four hunting for a coach! Muzza and Rafa…

Brando Says:


That would be something if both murray and rafa were to look for a coach.

Murray: Should go to gilbert i feel. I know he tried him in the past but gilbert can help murray toughen up mentally i feel- and also has the b**ls to tell murray like it is, get him out of his comfort zone and play aggressive.

Nadal: A coaches dream- you just know whatever you ask of him in order to improve, he shall do it. He needs a coach that shall help him with his serve, to flatten the BH, play more aggressively and develop a strategy for nole. Looking at his requirements and the available coaches- he should steal Annacone from federer:-)

Little Wing Says:

Rafa’s not parting with Uncle Toni. The quotes in that article are from an interview done with Rafa by the Wall Street Journal before the USopen after which journalists started speculating that Rafa would split from Uncle Toni. Rafa responded in Spanish via twitter quite annoyed saying that some journalists had completely misinterpreted what he said and that his relationship with uncle Toni was great as it has always been. Uncle Toni also responded saying that obviously since Rafa is older now the dynamic of their relationship does change somewhat. He also asserted that he still enjoys training Rafa and there’s no plans on splitting.

Tennislover Says:

Grendel: What separates Djokovic from pretty much any other player on tour are his offensive ROS and his offensive defense although he is not always very consistent with the former. However, I think it is understandable. It probably is similar to having good rhythm on your serve on a good day. When D is playing well and all facets of his game are working well, the pressure on his opponent is relentless and there is no breathing space. Nadal still gives you some breathing space. Both Federer and, to a lesser extent, Nadal just can’t put that much pressure on an opponent’s serve from the get-go especially on a first serve and certainly not with any degree of consistency. This gives the server just the amount of breathing space he needs to either take control of the point or start the rally from a relatively neutral position. D, OTOH, attacks the serve so well and with such consistency(even on a first serve) that it is indeed a big weapon for him. If D is having a good day, the server is in trouble unless he can place the serves absolutely precisely and keep D guessing. Pace, without good placement, doesn’t seem to trouble him much.

It has been suggested that he has sharpened his ROS because his serve wasn’t that great last year but Vajda suggests otherwise and I’d like to largely agree with him. Anticipation, quick reflexes and an incredibly agile body are needed to react quickly especially when returning from close to the baseline and aiming to return it deep and quick. D seems to have all these attributes although I am sure a lot of practice must be responsible for helping the “gift” shine much more brightly and consistently.

Regarding Federer’s ROS, apart from slower reflexes now, one issue I have always thought of is his tactics especially while receiving in the deuce court. He just doesn’t make the adjustments to at least make the server think differently. He remains close to the baseline hoping to make a decent return. A recent example was the wimby match against Tsonga where he should have tried changing his return stance and going a lot more behind the baseline to get a bit extra time to return his down-the-tee bombs. One sees Nadal doing that all the time. Of course, the ad side is hampered much more by the lack of a double-fisted bh which results in hopeless court positioning even when the return is made to the slider. I have often wondered if the his camp ever studies Nadal’s serving patterns. I find his serving to be very predictable with very few surprises. He serves a lot of body serves on his second serve and Federer, for some strange reason, is just not able to guess/anticipate it. Without that, he can’t prepare or modify his reaction. Instead of making the server think by changing his return patterns, Federer is largely content being predictable. Way too laid-back, I guess. This is in sharp contrast to his serve where he almost always keeps the returner guessing.

By the way, really liked your take on the Olympics on the other thread. Left a response too.

Kimmi Says:

hewitt and wawrinka should be restarting their match shortly. 5-3 wawa in the fifth.

C’mon wawa, dont choke please, just serve it out.

grendel Says:

Thanks for your interesting response, Tennislover. You say:”Nadal still gives you some breathing space.” That’s a curious thing – I remember Federer saying exactly that a few years ago, in the context of discussing Roddick’s serve, of which he was a great admirer. You mention Nadal’s body serve which always seems to tie Federer up. It is very strange that he doesn’t anticipate it more – it’s got him on crucial occasions including, I think, the 5th set at Wimbledon when he was 30 love up on Nadal’s serve and, had he broken, would have served for the championship.

As you say, in the ad court, he is (not always, but often enough) restricted by his one handed bh. It makes you wonder: to be a great returner of serve, is it absolutely necessary to have a doublehanded bh? The evidence seems to suggest this. With Federer, too, you get the feeling he doesn’t instinctively take return of serve seriously – it sometimes seems to be little more than a means of getting into the rally. Of late, he has changed this approach and tries to be more aggressive, but perhaps old attitudes dies hard. The contrast between Federer on the return and Federer on serve- he is above all the poet laureate of the serve, nobody has ever had or ever will have his variety – is, as you point out, striking. Djokovic, you feel, glories in the return – he loves it because he is so good at it, he is so good at it because he loves it. At any rate, he loves it and is incredibly good at it.

re the Olympics – it’s pure greed on the part of the tennis community, not for money but for attention. It’s a bit pathetic, frankly. I remember Agassi’s attitude when he was swanning it with all the super stars – he being, as he was happy to point out, one of the biggest of the super stars. Aloofness from the vulgar mob was the name of the game apparently. That kind of Hollywood mentality is alluring to some, and whilst that is a matter of taste, I feel it has no place whatever in the Olympics.

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