Nadal v. Roanic Tonight In Tokyo; Murray Keeps Playing, Keeps Winning
by Sean Randall | October 5th, 2011, 11:09 am

Burgeoning star Milos Raonic is back on the courts this week in Tokyo. The Canadian who had been sidelined with a bad hip won his first match since the injury on Tuesday, and tonight in the second round he’ll face Rafael Nadal.

Raonic first came into the tennis spotlight a year ago when he played Nadal in the exact same circumstance, the second round of Tokyo. Rafa won that match 6-4, 6-4 and I expect a similar outcome tonight. But I think eventually Raonic has the power and the game to turn that head-to-head in his favor.

“It felt really good. I’m happy to be back after a difficult summer with rehabilitation. To be back on a tennis court playing matches is an amazing feeling,” said Raonic after his first round win. “I’m really happy I found a way to win today. It was tough and I hope I can just keep getting better and better by the day.”

Added Nadal following his win over Go Soeda, “For me, the balls were a little heavy so I found it tricky to hit my forehand topspin. My next match against Raonic will be really tough.”

Last night, Andy Murray won his in three sets over Marcos Baghdatis. For someone who says the ATP calendar is unfair and too taxing, Murray continues to play tournaments he doesn’t need to. But at least he’s winning. The Bangkok champ has won 17 of his lat 18 matches. He’ll playing singles and doubles today.

Mardy Fish, who’s making a strong push to reach the London finals was also a winner last night over Ernests Gulbis. If Fish can put together just a few decent results this fall he should get in, and I think he does. He’ll play Bernard Tomic Friday in the quarterfinals with a potential showdown against Nadal in the semifinals.

And fresh off his first title in Kuala Lumpur, Janko Tipsarevic was stunned by Dmitry Tursunov.

In Beijing, Tomas Berdych and Fernando Verdasco had good wins. Ana Ivanovic upset Vera Zvonareva in the women’s field.

The slumping Verdasco is hopeful of turning his game around.

“Last year, I lost in three first rounds during the Asian swing, but my form is like in 2009,” Verdasco said. “I am trying to win all the points I can and I will give my best for sure. I want to be back in the Top 20 then push towards the Top 10.”

Today, Marin Cilic, JW Tsonga and Caroline Wozniacki headline.


CENTRE COURT start 12:00 noon
[Q] M Ebden (AUS) vs [3] D Ferrer (ESP)
[1] R Nadal (ESP) vs M Raonic (CAN)
A Bogomolov Jr. (USA) vs [2] A Murray (GBR)
I Dodig (CRO) vs D Nalbandian (ARG)
A Murray (GBR) / J Murray (GBR) vs [WC] T Ito (JPN) / K Nishikori (JPN)


[13] A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [2] V Azarenka (BLR) – WTA
Not Before 3:00 PM
[1] J Tsonga (FRA) vs [WC] Z Zhang (CHN) – ATP
M Cilic (CRO) vs F Fognini (ITA) – ATP
Not Before 7:30 PM
[1] C Wozniacki (DEN) vs K Kanepi (EST) – WTA
[7] S Peng (CHN) / J Zheng (CHN) vs [3] G Dulko (ARG) / F Pennetta (ITA) – WTA

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31 Comments for Nadal v. Roanic Tonight In Tokyo; Murray Keeps Playing, Keeps Winning

Brando Says:

I wish would start to hit his flat forehand more often. He can do so and has done brilliantly in the past. I think it’s something he should do more often on HC and against nole in the future. It shall still win him the point pretty much as often as his topspin FH I feel.

El Flaco Says:

Tsonga, Fish are looking pretty good here to qualify for the WTF the way they are playing and the point cushion they have.

Berdych is playing well too, but he doesn’t have much of a margin for error. A few bad losses and some good wins by some other guys could knock him out of the top 8.

Almagro is in the hunt, but he sucks indoors and there are no more off season clay court events to pad his ranking so he probably won’t get in. Maybe if he plays in the 5 remaining tournaments(there are more, but some are scheduled the same week) and he gets 1 or 2 wins in each he can sneak in if Berdych implodes or gets injured.

Soderling will be rusty so I don’t see him getting good enough results to leap into #8.

Simon, Delpo and Tisparevic still have a chance, but they are going to need big results like winning a 500 event and finalist at a 1000.

6 Fish, Mardy (USA) 2,685
7 Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried (FRA) 2,600
8 Berdych, Tomas (CZE) 2,350
9 Almagro, Nicolas (ESP) 2,280
10 Soderling, Robin (SWE) 2,080
11 Simon, Gilles (FRA) 2,065
12 Del Potro, Juan Martin (ARG) 2,050
13 Tipsarevic, Janko (SRB) 2,030

sheila Says:

murray maybe winning smaller events but when it comes 2the big ones(slams) he cant get passed nadal in semis. he should because i think hes got the game 2beat nadal, but mentally he doesnt believe he can beat nadal(a healthy nadal, that is). murray is winning small tournaments & seems he will pass federer in the rankings because roger isnt playing but as i said, until ic murray beat the likes of nadal in a major i just dont believe he can accomplish winning a major.

Anna Says:

It was odd to read the statement that Raonic has the game to turn his head to head around with Nadal, as if doing so would make him one of the greats of the game. Actually, you could probably say the same about Ryan Harrison or any number of young rising stars in tennis. And then replace Rafa’s name with Roger or Nole and it could possibly still be true, but it doesn’t mean that any one of them will ever reach the level of champion that the top 3 are now. I saw Harrison and Raonic play at IW this year. Now that’s a match up that will be worth watching in the years to come. I hope both those guys live up to their promise.

racquet Says:

> sheila Says:
> until ic murray beat the likes of nadal in a major

He has done it…twice! Where were you during USO 2008 and AO 2010?

Patty Says:

Eventually Raonic will beat an aging Nadal. But right now i expect a rafa win!!!

Kimmi Says:

Replying to Wog boy from another thread. I dont think ana ivanovic problem is mental, it is the serve. if she can fix the serve I am very sure she can win another major. She is better that JJ imo. And she has bigger weapon..the FH.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

If Milos’ body holds together he could be a top tenner… but this is his second match after pretty much half a year off. He hardly got through someone I’d never heard of yesterday. He’ll be knocked out pretty easily by Rafa tomorrow. And that’s fine. He just needs to get matches under his belt to start ‘er all over again in January.

jane Says:

i agree with you Kimmi. I think Ana does get tight sometimes in matches (mental) but mainly it’s the serve, as we saw in her match versus Serena at the USO. Had her serve been working, who knows how much closer that match might’ve been. Ana’s forehand was on song there.

Wog boy Says:

Kimmi, it is hard for me to find the words in English what I meant by “emotional”. She doesan’t fear anybody,whatsoever but she tends to get carried away by her emotions. My english vocabulary is not rich enough, I love the girl but sometimes she looks so vulnerable, that I have feeling she is just litle girl that needs protection. What she did to Svetlana and Vera tells me that she is on the right path with her new coach and I wish them, from the bottom of my heart all the best.

grendel Says:

Nadal after his match with Raonic: “His first two service games I didn’t win a point.
But it’s fantastic mental practice to try to stay focused on your serve and to wait for your chances on the return. Today I didn’t have one break point on my serve, which is a very positive thing.”

Pure Nadal. When Federer bagelled him in the first set of a Wimbledon final, he was asked after the match what were his feelings at that point, what was he thinking?

To get his name on the scoreboard, he replied. No despondency, just get into the match, and anything can happen. Sounds simple – in fact, in your first Wimbledon final against the great Roger Federer who has just made you look a charlie, it took a very rare competitor to take advantage of the unique tennis scoring system and start again as if it were a new match.

As it happened, in Federer’s next service game, he served an ace at deuce but for some reason it was called let. That proved to be Nadal’s pass into the match. This chap is never dead until he’s dead.

Look forward to Nadal/Murray. You always feel Murray has a reasonable chance against Nadal in a 3 setter. Also, Ivanovic against Radwanska could well be a cracker.

Kimberly Says:

I’ll be honest, I just don’t think Ivanovic has the mental stregnth or talent level of some of the top players. I would be interested to see her play Wozniaki. That would tell me a lot about where her game is at.

Berdych, Gublis, Verdasco to me are players with the talent level but inconsistent mental abilities. I’m not sure its confidence, they all know they are awesome but maybe there is a nagging doubt in their minds about consistency.

Kimberly Says:

its that time again, shainghai draw out saturday, very very small window to pick.

jane Says:

Ivanovic was in two slam finals FO 2007, AO, 2008, and she won tne FO in 2008. She has a great forehand, and she hits big from the back. If she could get her serve firing, make it a weapon, it could help her confidence,imo. But to be in two slam finals and win one, you’ve got to have a decent talent level, imo.

grendel Says:

“I would be interested to see her play Wozniaki. That would tell me a lot about where her game is at.”

Well, she is playing Radwanska next, who is arguably a better player than Woz, certainly has much more variety at her command. Her serve is not as good, of course. Imagine Radwanska with a big serve! Anyway,that encounter should tell us a good deal, should it not?

By all acounts, Ivanovic was awesome against Zvonereva – but on the other hand, the gifted Russian appears to be going through a bad patch.

As for the question of Ivanovic’s talent, I can see how it can be questioned, because she does go to pieces like almost nobody else and on such occasions looks almost bereft of talent. But then again, when she’s hot, she looks like she’s on top of the world. Contrast a player like Kirilenko who has every shot, who never lets you down, but who simply lacks firepower. How often have you seen Kirilenko hit a wonderful approach shot, go steaming to the net, do everything right, and yet end up losing the point because there just isn’t the oompf on her volley.

Ivanovic is the inspirational type player – I don’t think it’s right to compare her to a Gulbis or Berdych or even Verdasco. She’s genuinely unpredictable, so who knows whether she’s mentally strong or not. Sometimes, she’ll play like a goddess, sometimes like a crippled dunce. Glad she’s back – she brings flair and excitement back into the game.

Kimberly Says:

agree with everything you said above grendel. The radwanska match should be telling about where her game stands. I know what Ivanovic’s results have been Jane, but as Grendel said sometimes she appears completely bereft of skill and sometimes she looks hot. The reason I made the questionable talent comment is that with Ivanovic I see definite glaring flaws in her overall game that are magnified when her confidence is lacking. When she is confident they aren’t as noticeable.

Contrasting Kirilenko like Grendel Ivanovic does does have firepower but she does not have all the shots.

Anna Says:

Radwanska has always been one of my favorite players, but I never thought I’d see her lift her game the way she has this year. Now I’m chomping at the bit for every match. This must be what it feels like to be a Djokovich fan.

Swiss Maestro Says:


you must hate djokovic more than me to compare radwanska’s fans to djokovic.

please enlighten me on aggie’s achievements before this year? maybe you should compare her to tipsarevic. djokovic has achieved way more than radwanska even before this year started.

i dont mind the comparsion, however. i am the last one to complain when novak gets wronged.

Kimberly Says:

i dont mind the comparsion, however. i am the last one to complain when novak gets wronged.

I’m probably the second to last these days!

jane Says:

Kimberly, fair enough. I still think Ana has a good deal of talent. I agree with grendel that she’s inconsistent, and I think you’re right that she has confidence issues. Still, she moves well, she has a world class forehand, her backhand is very strong, and she is not bad at net, at least as good as Sharapova, imo. The main thing that’s lacking, in terms of shots, is a serve that serves her well.

Not sure about Radwanska: I thought when she beat Sharapova at the USO years ago that she’d amount to a great player, but she’s always been kind of stuck, perhaps because of her lack of serve, and because she tends to play defensively much of the time.

There’s the difference between her results and Ivanovic’s: neither has a serve that’s a weapon, though Ana’s has been at times, but Ana is the more aggressive player; she looks to finish points with a winner. Aggy doesn’t always do that. She counter-punches more.

sheila Says:

in response to racquets response 2my remarks: i said a healthy nadal. yes he has won nadal twice but according 2the commentators nadal had injuries.i have yet 2c murray take it to nadal when nadal has been free of injuries.

Brando Says:

@sheila: Montreal 2010 SF. Andy beat a fully fit rafa. In a slam I would say AUS 10 in the quarters, ha rafa not retired hurt then Murray would have won since he was playing really well. Rafa played well in that match but did not have much luck. It was during his 9 months w/o a title period. I think andy’s problem against rafa is that I feel he respects him far too much- says that rafa is his favourite player and also GOAT- and also that he tries out playing rafa at his own game.

grendel Says:

sheila – surely Nadal was not injured when Murray beat him at US 2008. Match was spread over 2 days, though, which arguably favoured Murray.

grendel Says:

jane – Sharapova has a nice drop shot which she uses sparingly but astutely. Her volleying is generally embarrassing. She always looks to me like someone who is earnestly trying to apply the lessons from coach; sometimes it comes off, sort of. It does not look comfortable.

Whereas, to someone like Radwanska, the volley iis just one of the many shots in her armoury, which she executes with quiet competence. Incidentally, although she IS a counter puncher, I am slightly unhappy about the labelling. It suggests someone relentlessly defensive, content to wait for the error. Whilst in fact she can be quietly, insidiously even, aggressive. Not by launching into the ball, bam-wham, but by teasing her opponent with her odd placements, and then being in place to finish off the point. Quite often this requires a difficult shot, since her style of play encourages aggression from her opponent. To win like this requires a high degree of skill. Not for nothing has she been compared to Hingis.

Kimberly Says:

Radwanska has a 52 mph second serve, anyone who calls themself a player should hit winner after winner on it.

grendel Says:

And her first serve isn’t a great deal more menacing. You wonder why such an incredibly clever player can’t adapt her serve in some sense – to render it at least difficult to hit a winner off. There’s a certain kind of bowler in cricket who delivers the ball just short of a length; it’s a nagging kind of delivery which is hard to score off without taking some kind of risk. There doesn’t seem to be an equivalent in tennis, although Nadal came close. Probably Radwanska does more with her innocuous looking serve than is apparent to an untutored observer.

dari Says:

She’s not hitting those 52’s all day though, and the rest of her game is causing trouble for most of her opponents.
I saw her at USO this year and she was crafty as hell, and put herself in court positions that most could not handle.
I also appreciate her movement and placement, she gives off the impression that she is always putting the ball EXACTLY where she wants to. I can’t do that, so I love to watch it.
Also a fan of that train wreck talent ana ivanovic.
She’s almost TOO into it, if you know what I mean?
Incessant fist-pumping and “ajde” – ing. I’ve watched too much fed and Pete, the stoic types. Love her though

dari Says:

Actually, thinking of aha, she is pretty stoic, no?

Sean Randall Says:

Agnieska is a poorer version of Wozniacki.

Kimmi Says:

Sean, Nooooo!!! I enjoyed watching radwanska way more than wozniacki. something must be very different.

jane Says:

Nole’s officially withdrawn from Shanghai: ‘I’m sorry not to be playing in Shanghai, one of my favourite tournaments, but I have not recovered yet from my injury,’ Djokovic said. ‘I did another check this week, and the results are not good, so I need to continue my rehabilitation.’ Djokovic had been due to play this week in Beijing but opted out, leaving it doubtful as to whether he could front up in China’s commercial capital of Shanghai for the event he won in 2008.

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