Federer, Nadal Surge In Doha; Murray Limps But Survives In Brisbane

by Sean Randall | January 5th, 2012, 12:34 am

Three of the big four are in action this week and so far they are all undefeated in 2012. After a humdrum showing at the Abu Dhabi exo last week, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal shifted into high gear today.

Federer upped his win streak to 19 matches Wednesday after blowing out Slovenia’s Grega Zmelja 6-2, 6-3.

“It can be tricky when you enter the first tournament of the season, and right away you play an incredibly tough three setter, let’s say,” Federer said. “The body feels that, and that’s why I’m happy to be through into the quarter-finals without too much trouble.”

Federer, who won the title last year beating Nikolay Davydenko (and beat him again Tuesday), will play the soft-serving Andreas Seppi on Thursday.

The injury-riddled Nadal seems to be finding his groove. Buoyed by a bad shoulder and a heavier racquet, Nadal blasted an overmatched Denis Gremelmayr 6-2, 6-2.

“I think I’m returning better, especially [compared to] the last part of the 2011 season,” Nadal said. “So that’s important, because the beginning of the points a lot of times are the key.

“I’m happy about how my return has worked the two days here and how a few things have worked well with the new weight of the racquet. I’m starting to have good feelings.”

“Good feelings” often equal good results. But with Rafa you don’t know anymore.

Nadal now faces a tricky opponent tomorrow in Mikhail Youzhny. The Russian is among the few that have four or more career wins over Nadal, and “Dr.” Youzhny won both their previous Middle Eastern meetings, those in Dubai.

If forms holds, Nadal would meet Gael Monfils in the semifinals, Federer would draw JW Tsonga (again!) this Friday.

Down in Australia, top seeded Andy Murray limped through two early three set matches. Murray hinted of some niggling injuries but the Scot, who more often than not feigns physical ailments on the court, doesn’t seem terribly worried. With new coach Ivan Lendl now on his team, though not with him in Brisbane, expectations are remain high for success this month.

“The more matches I can get this week the better so it’s been a good start,” Murray said after a shaky 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-0 win over Gilles Muller.

On Friday, Murray gets the his Brisbane doubles partner, the popular Marcos Baghdatis, in a battle of former Australian Open runner-ups in the Friday quarters. And the winner could face talented Aussie Bernard Tomic in the semifinals. Gilles Simon, in action as a write, is the No. 2 seed there.

In Chennai, future Top 10 Milos Raonic is through to the quarterfinals. As is Stan Wawrinka. Top seed Janko Tipsarevic and No. 2 Nicolas Almagro play their second rounders on Thursday.

And in women’s tennis Serena Williams is once again the center of attention. She yammered about not loving tennis and then promptly twisted her ankle yesterday in Brisbane. Her rant on the sport is virtually meaningless – does anyone take her words seriously anymore? But the ankle tweak is significant and it would be a downer should she be unable to play in Australia 10 days from now. Love em or hate em, tennis is that much more entertaining with the Williams sisters around.

CENTER COURT start 3:30 pm
A Ramos (ESP) vs [3] J Tsonga (FRA)
[8] A Seppi (ITA) vs [2] R Federer (SUI)
[1] R Nadal (ESP) vs [7] M Youzhny (RUS)
[4] G Monfils (FRA) vs [5] V Troicki (SRB)

PAT RAFTER ARENA start 10:30 am
[6] J Jankovic (SRB) vs [3] F Schiavone (ITA) – WTA
S Giraldo (COL) vs [2] G Simon (FRA) – ATP
K Kanepi (EST) vs [2] A Petkovic (GER) – WTA
Not Before 7:00 PM
I Benesova (CZE) vs [5] K Clijsters (BEL) – WTA
[6] R Stepanek (CZE) vs [3] A Dolgopolov (UKR) – ATP

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32 Comments for Federer, Nadal Surge In Doha; Murray Limps But Survives In Brisbane

van orten Says:

either the courts at doha are playing very fast or fed just creating incredible pace on his groundstrokes…!!!!

van orten Says:

fed is being tested right now…but that is good ..needs it at the beginning of the season !!!

Kathlin Says:

Federer was quite off today making 41 errors of which most came in the second and third set. Well tomorrow is another day, hopefully he finds his A game.

carlo Says:

Very flat performance from Federer. Lucky for Fed, Seppi couldn’t win against him when given the chance.

Go Dr. Youzhny

grendel Says:

I didn’t see the match, carlo – but I’ve seen Seppi trouble Federer before, and still manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as they say – I suspect it’s a classic instance of someone just not believing when it comes to the crunch. Federer still does that to some players. Here’s an extract from Eursport’s live commentary:” – FEDERER 6-3 5-7 5-3 – Ace for advantage, and Federer – after a real test from Seppi who had two break points – holds as Seppi shanks his next return into the net. Seppi serving to stay in the tournament.

– FEDERER 6-3 5-7 4-3 – Slack from Federer as he is forced on to his second serve a couple of times and Seppi responds well, pinging a return beyond him for break point! But it’s level to deuce now as Seppi inexplicably backhands into the net from a decent position after controlling a second-serve rally. But another error from Federer – poor forehand into the net – gives Seppi break point again. A ‘out’ on a serve that looked in – Fed challenges, incorrecty. Second serve is a cracker though. Deuce”

Sounds like Seppi had his chances, but predictably blew them.

margot Says:

Meanwhile Rafa is looking terrifyingly good and moving like a blooming gazelle!

carlo Says:

grendel, I suspect those Eurosport commentators usage of adjectives and exclamations was meant to flatter the match. It would be a real stretch of imagination or die-hard Fedfan to call it exciting. Federer cruised through the 1st set and I was guessing he have it done in under 60 minutes. Then Federer fell asleep or went somewhere on a mental holiday. Seppi took his opportunity reluctantly winning 2nd set and came out to go up a break while Federer was still lost in space. In the end it was as you say, Seppi, “snatched defeat…”

carlo Says:

It won’t be hard to guess Tsonga will win if Federer plays like he did v Seppi.

Nadal – it’s comical watching him and thinking about his injury. What injury?!

carlo Says:

Have to say I’ve enjoyed Youzhny’s effort v a very in-form Nadal. Youzhny isn’t bowing down to Nadal. Nadal serving it out. Nadal giving Youzhny 3 bps but Youzhny can’t take them. Deuce it is, and a fanastic backhand from Youzhney gives him another bp. Youzhny takes a chance and misses. Deuce. The end is not easy for Nadal. But finally Rafa has a match point and gets it done. 6-4, 6-4

Federer win 1hr 38 x 3 sets
Nadal win 1hr 48 x 2 sets

carlo Says:

Federer barely had a pulse and Nadal played, in his humble words, “really, really well.” He did. 31 winners to Youzhny’s 15.

Lulu Iberica Says:

No, Nadal does not look injured, though he already said his shoulder was better, but the muscles around it are weak from lack of practice. Anyway, I think the extra weight on his racquet is helping with his depth of shot, though he’s still hitting too short much of the time. Youzhny gave him a good fight, especially in the 1st set, but Rafa got a bit lucky because Youz basically gave away that 2nd break in the 2nd set. I thought Rafa looked pretty good, but I didn’t see anything that would scare Djoker, Murray, or even Ferrer or Tsonga on one of their good days. Of course Rafa always has to work his way into form, so hopefully he just gets better from here!

alison hodge Says:

lulu i agree with everything you just said,but one things for sure the competitor in rafa means hes never afraid of a challenge,its also great to see him with that desire and passion for the game back again,which seemed lacking for a while,if he could bag this title it would be a great confidence boost,also great to see that the shoulder was ok too.

Drake Says:

Hope fed improves his game for tommorrow. After he returned back to 5-5 I really expected him to win the 2de set, but no, he messed up. Credit to seppi though for not giving up. Federer also took the lose of the second set in good humour during the oncourt interview. Robbie Koenig asked him what was going through his mind at 1-5 down. Roger replied”: getting back to 5-5 so that I can lose the set 7-5. LOL

carlo Says:

Monfils v Troiki. Monfils about to hand back an early break. Terrible.

mem Says:


maybe you should put in application to coach rafa since you seem to have all answers. this tour is not about beating just djokovic. there are a lot of tough players; we saw that today with youzhny. he can’t beat djokovic in any tournament until he gets to final and to get to the final he has to win other matches against very good players. that’s how silly you constantly sound. i said it before and i’ll say it again, novak is not invincible; people are promoting him as being invincible and gullibe people like you buy it. i’ve never seen a player that couldn’t be beat. no player is invincible. novak is only invincible if others players go on the court thinking that he is.

you people could never be champions; you just don’t possess the mindset. why would rafa need to concern himself with novak when he’s playing youzhny?

one of the many things i admire about rafa is that he is realistic and possesses a lot of wisdom. he respects that novak has had an incredible year but he also knows that despite popular opinion, he has had a very good too. you don’t get to remain #2 in the world by having a devastatingly poor year.

with fans like you, he doesn’t need enemies.

you are entitled to what you think and believe, but there’s a difference between objectivity and pessimism. you are definitely a fan of the latter.

rafa has the right attitude; go with flow, continue to improve and let critics like you continue to write and predict what will or will not happen in the future.

in the words of rafa nadal (paraphrased); matches are not played on blogs or on paper; they are played on the court and you can’t win the match before you play it.

novak and rafa have not played yet! we will see what happens when they do. for now, he has to focus on the semis in doha. great match by rafa!

enjoy the season!

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Rafa used to beat Novak for fun, and their matches have always been close but last year Nole got the spring in his steps, it was his year even when Federer and Murray had match points against him he still went on to win, but Monfils gave him a good fight in Abu Dhabi and Rafa only has to break the spell and normal service will be resumed.

Roger played like a beginner against Seppi. Both of them played Challenger tennis, to be honest.

alison hodge Says:

as a fan of rafa im just glad to see hes got that passion back,and thats all i really care about at this moment in time.

Pamela Says:

Is novak not playing in Doha or brisbane?

skeezerweezer Says:

“Everyone is entitled to my opinion”

Awesome ;)

jane Says:

Pamela, No he isn’t. He usually opts to play only exo events pre-AO. In the past he’s played Hopman and KooYong and this year he played Abu Dabi, and that is all. I can’t decide if this is a good thing for him or not, but since he’s won the AO twice now, it can’t be too bad of a plan.

carlo Says:

I’m missing Djokovic. But the line-up later tonight in Brisbane looks good:

Murray v Baghdatis
Tomic v Istomin

(Istomin’s 1st opponent retired and his 2nd opponent was a walkover) Not sure if this is good or bad for my bandwagon favorite, Bernard Tomic.

Clijsters v Hantuchova
Schiavone v Kanepi

Colin Says:

I love the name Everyone entitled to my opinion. Reminds me of the joke about the boss who told an underling “When I want your opinion I’ll tell you what it is.”
I don’t think Murray “feigns injury”. As I said before, he’s just a guy who automatically grimaces and clutches himself when he feels a twinge. Still, it wouldn’t be a tennis article, would it, if the writer didn’t at some point take a poke at poor old Andy? And yet the same writer finds the appalling Serena Williams “entertaining”. Sheesh!

Lulu Iberica Says:


No, I most definitely should not be the coach of anybody! Yes, I am a pessimist and would never make a champion myself. That is why I admire Rafa — he does what I could never do! To be honest, I don’t play tennis and am a fairly novice tennis spectator, so of course I don’t think I know better than Rafa or his team. Obviously he has to beat other good players such as Youzhny, and his play today was quite a step up from what it has been. I don’t think Djoko’s invincible, but he is in Rafa’s head (or at least he was last season) and I think for that reason Djoko can get away with playing worse against Rafa than he could against Fed, for instance. In my most humble opinion, unless Djoker takes a major tumble in his level or mental state Rafa is going to have to play at his beast-y best to beat him. I want Rafa to win more slams, so yeah, my expectations are high. What’s it to you, anyway?

grendel Says:

Colin – I like the boss joke. D’you remember the singer Adam Faith? I saw him interviewed once, and it turned out he had been in a bad car crash. A legacy of this was a tendency to massively over-react to really quite small things, even sudden noises – and this was years and years after the event. Do you think Murray may be a fellow sufferer? If he is, then he certainly shouldn’t be criticised for it, for these reactions are involuntary. They cannot be helped.

mem Says:


revisit my comments and i’m sure you will find a statement that begins with, “you are entitled…
that should clear up any questions you might have; however just in case it doesn’t, i’ll indulge.

quite frankly, your thoughts about rafa don’t mean anything to me. let’s be clear here, since you claim to be a rafafan, i responded because i made an observation of your endless criticism and pessimism for a player whom you call your favorite. if i didn’t know any better i would think you are the one playing the matches, not him. you sound like a critic who is lying in wait to find something to harp on, but then, you’re you, and i’m me. make no mistake, the way you handle your business means nothing to me.

Kimmi Says:

what is this rumour I hear fed injured his back yesterday?

I have read it on two blogs! I wonder if its true. I know fed does not talk much about his injuries so I am hoping its nothing serious.

Lulu Iberica Says:


Yes, you did say I was entitled to my opinion, but I felt rather attacked by your previous comments. I just don’t see a need to make tennis commentary personal. Anyway, I’m not lying in wait to pounce on Rafa — I know the type you mean. I genuinely like Rafa. It’s just that last season was so demoralizing. He did have a good year getting to so many finals, but he seemed deflated and appeared to make little progress against his biggest foe. I was watching this match for a hint of what I might expect in the rest of the season, particularly the AO.

mem Says:


like i said, you;re entitled!

Lulu Iberica Says:


Well, I hope the fact that I’m entitled means you will refrain from making snarky comments directed towards me in the future.

grendel Says:

“Those two women will never agree”, observed the Rev.Syney Smith (an enlightened early Victorian clergyman – and wit),”they are arguing from different premises”. He had been observing the women, who were neighbours, shouting at each other over the wall. On another occasion, Smith remarked:”Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out.”

I can’t help feeling Smith would have been interested in the exchanges between mem and Lulu. There does indeed seem to be an impenetrable wall between them. As a fan of both of them, I am sorry to see this, but before I shed too many crocodile tears – it is kind of fascinating.

skeezerweezer Says:


Thanks for the insightful post @ 1:15. Missed the match and was nice to hear some objectivity on Rafa’s match :)

mem Says:


this is an open forum and if i decide to respond to certain comments, i will. you’re not obligated to respond back. if you feel that they are snarky, simple, ignore them. you need to grow a thicker skin and maybe you won’t be so sensitive. if you feel rafa’s 2011 season was demoralizing, so be it. it doesn’t change my life one way or the other. i happen to think that he had a very good season, not excellent by his standards and the standards of others, but certainly not as gloomy as you guys make it out to be. i happen to think reaching 10 finals including winning a major, a masters and a 500 tournament is a very good feat, considering the level of competiton and especially considering arguably the “greatest player ever” (roger) didn’t win a single slam. that speaks volumes in terms of what it takes to win even one major year after year. if you call that demoralizing that’s your perrogative!

i guess you expected rafa to win all four majors and beat everybody in his path, but i try to stay inside the realm of reality. when a player has been in the top 1 or 2 for five or six years, one would have to be a total idiot to expect a player to exhibit the same intensity year after year after year without faltering at some point. how many years has novak been in the top 1 or 2? how many years has he won at least one slam? sure, he has had a terrific 2011, but has he played with that kind of intensity for several years? you get my point!

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