By Securing The No. 2 Seed, Did Rafael Nadal Just Win The French Open?
by Sean Randall | May 22nd, 2012, 3:07 pm

Cutting right to the chase, yes, that’s what I think. I know many of you reading didn’t put much weight into the benefits of the No. 2 vs. the No. 3 seed, but I did. And it’s especially important for Rafael Nadal.

What’s critical is being the second seed 100% assures Nadal won’t run into the only player with the best, most realistic chance of beating him in Paris until the very last day. Of course I’m talking about World No. 1 Novak Djokovic who beat Rafa twice last year on clay (Nadal’s got him back this season).

Sure, had Nadal lost on Monday or had the ranking numbers not worked out as they did, Rafa could still have ended up on the other side of the draw to Djokovic as a three seed, but now he doesn’t have 4-5 days of worry. Rafa’s and his armada pretty much know he’s booked into the finals.

And in that final if it is Djokovic just imagine the circumstances for the Serb on that day. Djokovic will have to withstand the pressure of finishing off the “Djoker Slam”, something that no player has done since Rod Laver in the 60s, and to do it he’ll likely have to beat the greatest clay courter of all time and someone he’s already lost twice to in straight sets this clay season. And if that’s not enough, Djokovic, who’s never won the French or even been to the final, just isn’t performing at the lofty levels he was a year ago.

Had this been just another Slam for Novak or if he could meet Nadal in the semifinals, I’d give him a much, much better chance. He’s got wins over Nadal (14 of them!), his game matches up well with the Spaniard and he’s hungry. But in a pressure cooker of a final, I just don’t know how he’s going to get three sets off Rafa with all that’s going to be at stake.

Djokovic’s obviously done well in big matches before (Davis Cup, Slam finals, etc), but there’s little that can prepare him for this. It has to be a different kind of weight on your shoulders. More nerves, more expectations and thoughts of “will I ever have this chance again?” Ask Roger Federer who failed. Ask Pete Sampras who failed. Even Rafael Nadal failed. Is Djokovic really going to do one better than them?

Novak can catch fire at the French. But often the first two matches are lopsided affairs against qualifiers or lesser knowns. Maybe in the third or fourth round he’ll play someone decent, before the quarterfinals and semifinals. So he’ll have 2-3 matches to get his game back up to form against worthy competition before Nadal. Is that even enough time? We’ll see.

As for Nadal, after his sweep of the red clay season (again), he’s the overwhelming favorite to win a seventh French Open so he didn’t need this extra help. But he’ll gladly take it.

With Nadal cemented at two, Federer will be the big floater when the draw is released on Friday. Federer’s best chance now is to land in the Djokovic section because he’s not beating Nadal either. There are really a handful of guys who can takes even take sets at this point, outside of Federer and Novak.

Handicapping the rest of the field:

Andy Murray has been struggling this clay season so it’s a longshot he’ll return to the semifinals.

David Ferrer is capable, but capable against just about anyone other than Rafa.

The Frenchmen of JW Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon and Richard Gasquet have tons of talent but they don’t have the belief.

John Isner is a threat on any surface but Rafa won’t have to worry about a rematch until the quarterfinals, a round Isner’s not going to reach.

Tomas Berdych has been dangerous but does anyone really think the Czech can mentally keep it together to win three sets against Nadal? Nope.

Milos Raonic could be a late week one, early week two fourth round opponent at the earliest, but it’s a hard to say he can even win three matches and get there.

There are other guys like Nicolas Almagro, Fernando Verdasco, Janko Tipsarevic, Ivo Karlovic, Juan Monaco and David Nalbandian who all can maybe get hot for a period, but best-of-5 is Nadal’s best friend here.

The only guy other than Djokovic with a good shot of beating Rafa is Juan Martin Del Potro and there’s just a 25% chance he lands as a possible Nadal quarterfinal foe. And to play Rafa in the semifinals he may have to beat Federer or Murray – I’d have to also wonder how healthy the oft-injured Del Potro would even be at that late stage!

Del Potro played Nadal tough in a four set loss in the Davis Cup final last year – that was also the last time Nadal has lost a set on red clay. And he’s stunned Rafa on the big stage before. But since returning from that wrist injury two years ago, Del Potro hasn’t beaten any of the Big 3.

So barring an injury to Nadal, a surprise surface change to blue or girlfriend or gambas problems it really looks like everyone’s just playing for second in Paris, again. But as Rafa will tell you, Being second is better than third, no?

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111 Comments for By Securing The No. 2 Seed, Did Rafael Nadal Just Win The French Open?

Krishna Says:

Good article :) The difference between #2 and #3 is pretty major (no pun intended :P) ..If Rafa was #3.. he might end up having to beat Djoker in the Semis..and then Roger in the finals (easy)..most likely Djoker and Nadal would have a slugfest..and maybe (unlikely) Djoker might be able to beat him..

pretty big that Nadal is #2 and not #3..

Gaga Says:

interesting view ! did not think of that for a moment – makes lot of sense – to Rafa,
but regarding Nole – not sure,
that’s going to be a lottery – Rafa has a lot to lose too – he never lost in RG – Nole – could win a lot – what he has to lose ? 4 slams in a row, that’s an added ‘extra’, would be nice – but he’s much more mentally tough than that – and might just add an extra stimulus to him really (he’s not the guy that will easily freeze – though you could speculate that given last year’s SF w/ Roger – but that was 40 something run, different thing – and a set of other circumstances).
Actually, my view is that Nole did let Rafa go through easier -win the Rome – as getting the Rafa two times in a row is tough – I think Nole stands much better chance now to overcome the previous 2-0,
give it some math – after the last year and 2 times for Nole on clay,
and this year 2 times for Nadal,
I think NOle is up next,
though NOle had 7 (I think) times in a row ,
who could tell :)

mmm Says:


Rafa has lost at RG, to Robin Soderling the year Federer won the title.

Brando Says:

@gaga: you say novak may have FROZE against federer on the back of a streak. So WHY can’t he freeze in the scenario of possibly facing clay GOAT for nole slam? IF he did succumb to the pressure of a successful streak then he CAN also succumb in the face of a once in a lifetime oppurtunity. BUT all this talk is BS- who knows what is going to happen. PS: IMO novak didn’t freeze against roger- federer played his BEST tennis against him. Match of the year for me.

skeezer Says:

Well if Rafa is such a guarantee pick, guess the excitement is gone. Why watch unless your a Rafa die hard? If the Rome final was a representation of what FO will be like, i’ll be watching the World Bocce Ball finals in Galapagos.

dari Says:

The answer to your question is yes.

Of course once the tournament starts and if fed gets far I will still be in front of the tv hoping for a miracle. Hopeless.

Enjoy it rafa fans

Gaga Says:

@Brando – of course you’re right, all this is just speculating – I agree w/ you, Fed was just better –
however, Nadal is facing a prospect of ‘NADA SLAM’ :) – so that’s going to be going against Nadal.
BS, I agree, but 2 vs 3 makes sense.
I’m only relatively certain that Roger is not going to win – as he’d probably have to face both of them – which is hard – though could happen…
I think Nole has a good chance – let’s wait a bit, to get the feeling of them

RZ Says:

I’d love to see Federer win, and for that reason I’d prefer to have Federer in Rafa’s section. I think Federer has a better shot at taking out Rafa at the F.O. in the semis than in the final for purely mental reasons. And although Rafa is the clear heavy favorite to win at R.G. again, I think Novak has a pretty decent shot against him in a final.

It’ll be interesting to see where Ferrer, Tsonga, DelPo, Berdych, Almagro, and Monfils (yes, Monfils – he tends to do well at R.G.) end up in the draw. Less likely to play spoiler but still with a shot are Isner and Raonic. I’d add Gasquet but he crumbles on French clay sadly.

Kimberly Says:

the hottest contest in town! All are welcome, not quite as user friendly as the ATP bracket site but still fun!

Leon Says:

“Ask Roger Federer who failed. Ask Pete Sampras who failed. Even Rafael Nadal failed.”

Why so modest, Sean? Is Nadal’s unprecedented “humbleness” so contagious? Why not to write unambiguously: “Even the GREATEST of the GREATESTS Rafael Nadal…”

Well, Sean is in his full right to be entitled to his opinion and put Nadal wherever he wants among the greats. And why not, if Rafael in fact has already self-proclaimed himself the greatest. With the very same short word. Yes, “even”. Remember his assessment of Novak’s 2011 season? Smth like: “Incredible. Practically impossible to repeat, EVEN FOR ME.”
[Thank God, we have an ultimate measure at last.]

No, no, I have nothing against such frankness. Very natural for real champions. Go, Rafa.

Kimberly Says:

got the RG app on my Iphone, ready to go!

Brando Says:

@kimberly: LOL, thanks for the link! Will join once draw is made- look forward to it:-) PS: do these points count in the circuit one for ATP? Well BEHIND you guys on that one….

Brando Says:

IMHO the MC and Rome loss have done LITTLE to hurt nole’s chances at RG. He CAN still win and beat rafa too. BUT what is more concerning is that in both tournies- bar the federer match ( which some have voiced their opinions over Feds play- legitimate or not)- he hasn’t been ANYWHERE near his convincing best on clay. The only thing sure about him at RG is he definately needs his A GAME in order to win-atm it’s not there at all, IMHO!

Lisa Says:

Dont think Djokovic will even reach semis at FO……

Sorry, an early exit for him….IMO…..

Kimberly Says:

Brando, no grand slams stand alone. A one shot deal. Pay attention to the scoring rules on the entry page.

Gregoire Gentil Says:

Great article! Unfortunately, nothing more to say…

Andrea Says:

Agree with skeezer.. Hope someone adds dimension to RG and takes rafa out before the final. Clay season is becoming a snooze fest. Nadal is very fortunate that clay season has so many master events and smaller ones leading up to the French.

Anna Says:

It’s a common sense analysis and one I like, but there’s always the possibility that someone doesn’t get the memo and screws up the whole plan. Hope not though.

Skeezer – Have fun in the islands and watch out for the Boobies.

Miles Says:

“Nadal is very fortunate that clay season has so many master events and smaller ones leading up to the French.”

There are exactly 2 clay Masters (3 if you count blue “clay”) and several smaller ones, of which you can realistically play only 1 because the clay “season” has been compressed to just a month or two.

All those hardcourt specialists are very fortunate that hardcourt season has SIX Masters and three times as many smaller events, and it lasts practically the whole year.

Michael Says:

Being No.2 is critical for Nadal. Not that he cannot win Rolland Garros by beating Novak and Roger back-to-back. He can well do that being the GREATEST CLAY COURT PLAYER EVER. But his task is now relatively easy with him have to compete with Murray or even Roger if the draw so transpires. Roger in his early years would have given Nadal a stiff fight even on Clay. But now Roger is over 30 years and past his best although he is playing pretty good Tennis. However it is still not enough to win against Nadal in Clay more particularly the French Open over five sets. So things have got tough for Roger due to the ascendancy of Nadal at the French. As regards Novak, his completing a career grand slam will put him under immense pressure at the French. But he is a player who is eager to play under pressure and perform. More than the calendar grand slam, Novak would only be thrilled to beat Rafa at Rolland Garros something which was not possible even for Roger. Only Soderling has done that beating Nadal in four. So beating Nadal there would give him some pleasant moments to cherish all thorough his career. But the task is quite difficult if not impossible and Novak should play his best to have any semblance of chance there against Nadal. As far as Murray is concerned, I think Rolland Garros will just be a practice session for Wimbledon. He will not hope for much there.

Michael Says:

Things have become rather monotonous at Clay Courts and more particularly Rolland Garros with Nadal winning again and again. Such dominance doesn’t make Tennis interesting. We need some competition over there just like Roger who had Nadal at Wimbledon. Things are looking quiet rosy for Nadal. Hope Novak can turn this around and make Clay courts more interesting than it is today.

Anna Says:

Yes, Rafa has been lucky to have 3 ms1000’s on clay, but not as lucky as Fed and Nole who have 6 hardcourt ms1000 tournaments to thrive on. Of course Rafa has won a few of those himself, but then Roger and Nole have won a few on clay. The best h/c players have the greatest advantage.

Michael Says:

“David Ferrer is capable, but capable against just about anyone other than Rafa”

Yeah Ferrer gets beaten by Nadal but he always gives him a tough fight. It is against Federer that he is yet to win and is finding tough to even win sets.

Peter Says:

Nadal is fortunate that he is playing in a weak clay court era.

King Federer Says:

Federer gets the raw deal in the masters because his best surface is not hard courts like nole, but Grass. you look at Roger on Grass and you know he’s been created to glide on a surface where others have trouble with their footing. during the 1st week of wimbledon, when grass is at it’s slickest, you can notice how federer is well above the others, nadal included, when it comes to movement on grass.

this movement is also the reason why nadal tends to have much tougher matches in the 1st week than 2nd week (soderling in 2007, gulbis in 2008 and petzchner,haase in 2010). contrast that with federer who has no problem in the 1st week (except for the rare falla trouble). in the 2nd week nadal gets more sure about his movement with all the grass drying or damaged as the baseliners wreak havoc.

as great as roger is on hardcourts, with 2 Masters a season on grass or maybe even 3, it is not inconceivable that the Greatest player on Grass of the last decade would have hauled in a 10+ title haul to set his MS total at 30+

so please dont include Roger as the benificiary because of 6 MS titles on hardcourts. Federer is spectacular on hardcourts and miles above anyone in this decade. but on grass, he puts daylight between him and nadal, the 2nd best grass courter of his generation.

let us also not forget that a fast hardcourt like paris/cincinnati is way different from a slow hard court like miami/indian wells. where as the clay surfaces are slow slower and slowest. god forbid, there is a different surface like madrid and you will see a guy like nadal who has zero concern for tennis’ tradition and rules suddenly remember about tradition and history!

King Federer Says:

if i am not mistaken, roger has 11 grass titles, rafa 3 and nole 1.

King Federer Says:

As for the analysis from Sean, i would suggest look at it from nole’s point of view.

He does not have to worry about playing rafa before the finals. and if Roger lands in rafa’s half, nole’s GS comes down to just one match against a guy he matches very favourably with. i would say rafa/nole’s worries end only after the draw comes out.

would you want federer/murray in your half? even raf@tards will answer that one correctly.

so sean’s analysis that the no.2 seeding gives rafa an advantage over nole is flawed. the no.2 seeding was more critical for fed. nole would be as happy as rafa because rafa is no.2. federer would be the one disappointed because he lost the opportunity to have murray in his half. now he has to choose between nole/rafa – who are way better than murray – even more so on clay.

Rick Says:

If Federina runs into Del Potro or Berdych could means early exit.

King Federer Says:

another thing sean, please dont lump rafa, pete and roger together in their quest of a SLAM!

sampras lost to a 2time french open champ jim courier in the QUARTER Finals of his 4th slam.

rafa lost to ferrer – a real nobody as far as slams are concerned in the QFs again.

Federer, the 2 times he had a shot at a Roger slam, made it to the final and was 2 sets away from a Roger slam against the GOAT of clay on his favoured surface.

there’s one guy who made it farther than the other 2 in the SLAM quest and he is not rafa.

Rick Says:

Fed is crap on grass, since Rafa destoryed his dynasty. He was taken to 5 sets by Falla and Roddick. Defeated by Hewitt, Tsonga and Berdych.

King Federer Says:

if nadline keeps picking her butt and then picking her nose every freaking time before she serves, she might not even make it out of 1st round.

Rick Says:

Fed Allstop would has an early stop at the French. Donot think that he could be wins against Del Potro, Berdych or Gasquet in five sets. And Fed not won has many titles on clay. The ones he has are crappy ones like Hamburg and Madrid. And we all know how he won the French.

skeezer Says:

Who is nadline?

Rick Says:

Sampras will always be the grass player withink his serve and volley game. Not Fed!

skeezer Says:

rick says,

“And we all know how he won the French.”

He won it cause ……..he won it. Your man couldn’t get to the finals that year remember? Apparently, he wasn’t good enough.

Rick Says:

I hope Fed runs into JMP or Berdych. These guys are playing well on clay. Good chance for them to nurse on Fed in five sets.

Rick Says:

Also, Simon Gillies and Gasquet. Hope Fed doesn’ run into them.

Rick Says:

Fedrina choked against Tsonga last year at Wimbledon.

Nims Says:

I don’t think Rafa is happy about No 2. He knows that he is going to be No 1 in next 2 months. That’s what his focus is.

roy Says:

”if i am not mistaken, roger has 11 grass titles, rafa 3 and nole 1.”

if you’re not delusional, roger is significantly older than nadal and nole.

not to mention, halle is a much weaker field than queens, where all the contenders go. halle is a backwater tournament in comparison. with nadal this year it might finally be a challenge. if federer played queens every year the title count would be significantly lower.

federer has a much better serve than nadal. so for nadal to have beaten federer on grass, clearly nadal must have made up for this handicap by being better in general play. claiming nadal is inferior in movement of all things is ridiculous. or nole for that matter.

“Federer gets the raw deal in the masters because his best surface is not hard courts”

grass is a niche surface and has been for a long time. few players can even play effectively on it because it exists in very few places. pretending it’s unfair because it isn’t the standard surface on tour is retarded.
federer is extremely well adapted to hard courts as his stats show. the fact that the majority of masters events are hard court, 2 slams are hardcourt and that the year end is indoor, makes it downright idiotic to say federer has been hard done by because of surface.

”rafa lost to ferrer – a real nobody as far as slams are concerned in the QFs again.”

do you even watch the tour? or just sit and drool in front of federer posters while cuddling your feddy bear?
if you did, you’d have noticed nadal pulled a hammy in that match, was looking at his box considering a retirement, and played on out of respect for his friend.
without the injury, he’d probably have won the grandslam, given nole was yet to catch fire.

King Federer Says:


how are you going to explain that Roger has the best winning % on grass? is that because of age too? because raf@tards like you are dumb enough to claim that.

rafa had injury? what’s new? did he get this injury while skiing or vacationing? no! the dude got the injury because of his brutal beast-like game. the same style that wins him all those buckets of titles on clay kills him and injures him on the clay? if he could adapt to hardcourts and play more aggressively he wouldn’t be injured every freaking time.

face it! roger was much closer to a slam than rafa ever was. not once, but twice.

and let us not forget raf@tards like you and rick are the kings of stupidity! so talk to me if you got the numbers.

Roger has the greatest winning % on grass. If there were 3 masters on each of clay, grass and hard courts. fed would have had 30+ Masters by now. he is definitely the player that has lost the most because of no MS on grass.

Queens has tougher draws? please. this year the @$$ picker will play halle. so all your raf@tards’ dumb theories will go out the window. look for lady serve to go out early like he does at queens!

Michael Says:

Sombody here making an absurd claim that Roger is crap on Grass. Common. This man has made seven straight finals there at the premier Championship and yet you label him so. Those making such claims do not know Tennis.

Kathy Says:

Leon said, “Remember his assessment of Novak’s 2011 season? Smth like: “Incredible. Practically impossible to repeat, EVEN FOR ME.”

The words EVEN FOR ME were not said. Here is the actual quote taken from the transcript of his USO interview,
“the season is probably impossible to repeat.
That’s why. His level for sure is fantastic. He’s doing very well mentally everything. So just accept that. Accept the challenge and work.”

It’s always better if you don’t add your own words and thoughts to what is intended to be a quote.

Leon Says:

They have been said, I clearly remember I’ve read them in one if his interviews. I even had a short exchange with grendel about that at this site. The problem is that I have no time right now to find exactly that transcript (there were more than one after USO). I never add my own words in a quote (and I supplied that not literal quote with “smth like”). Of course, I’d better give a link immediately. I hope to be able to do this later, if the corresponding archives still exist.

jamie Says:

Fed’s best chance of winning another slam is at the USO.

He’s declined a lot on grass since 2009.

Taken to 5 sets by Falla and Roddick.

Losses to Hewitt, Tsonga and Berdych.

Mark Says:

Jamie. Who is winning FO?

jamie Says:

I think Nadal will win RG.

As for Wimbledon, since 2007 the winner of the last masters series played during the clay season has gone on to win Wimbledon.

2007 Hamburg winner won Wimbledon.
2008 Hamburg winner won Wimbledon.
2009 Madrid winner won Wimbledon.
2010 Madrid winner won Wimbledon.
2011 Rome winner won Wimbledon.
2012 Rome winner wins Wimbledon?

We’ll see.

mrmilbury Says:

I’m very interested in a possible FO semi-final between Federer and Nadal.
This two guys have always met each other in the FO final with a lot of pressure on Federer and with a ton of confidence on Nadal.
It will be interesting if they will land on the same part of the draw.
May be Rafa will continue his incredibile streak, but may be the semi will change something.

mrmilbury Says:

And don’t forget that even Nadal is getting older. His game isn’t strong enough without an incredibile fitness and freshness.
Year by year he grow tired some week earlier than the year before.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Coming into the clay season, I would have pegged Rafa just ahead of Nole for RG. With his two big wins (granted, an asterisk for MC) he has clearly made himself a heavy favourite. In fact, I think Rafa is the favourite vs the field.
I could give something like
Rafa 55%
Nole 25%
Fed 15%
Field 5%
Of the field, Del Potro, Berdych or Raonic might get a major scalp, but I don’t think it likely. Two major scalps for those guys, impossible. Ferrer has an awful record against the Big Three, not just Fed.
Its Rafa’s tournament until someone shows him otherwise. I am a huge Fed fan, and I hope he will win. As I said above, I think he has an outside chance. But this is Rafa’s house. I think Rafa is actually not getting the kudos he deserves for coming back from this devastating losing streak. He kept saying he would keep working to find ways to compete with Novak, and he did. One can criticize Rafa for some things, but he has surely shown a champion’s heart to get back on the podium against Novak.

Polo Says:

This is shaping up to be Nadal’s year. I think Federer will be shut out in all the majors again. He is no longer the dominant figure he once was on grass. He is not as fast. The lightning and genius-like reflexes he used to have had dwindled with the years.

Dan Martin Says:

I think Rafa is in a great spot to win. The only silver lining for Nole is that losing 4 straight sets to Rafa on clay may have taken some of the 4 straight talk off the front burner. Still, Nole would rather be riding a 9 match winning streak vs. Rafa instead of a 2 match losing streak.

Polo Says:

Rafa hardly needs any impetus to win the French Open. But give him more confidence and some momentum and nobody can stop him. And he has those two elements now. I agree with most people that the only time he may be stopped is at the US Open and even that will require some good effort by the rest. I will be happy to see Roger reach the final in the 2 remaining majors. As a Roger fan, I would not be surprised if the biggest disappointment will come at Wimbledon.

Polo Says:

I meant 3, not 2.

skeezer Says:

“Rafa hardly needs any impetus to win the French Open”

Very true. But yet here we go again some Rafa fans have to piss on Feds all time records and achievements to prove how great Rafa is. Same ole song and dance of envy and jealousy.

Polo Says:

What do you mean “here we go again…have to piss on Feds all time records…ole song and dance of envy…” ?

I don’t think there was anything at all in my comment that merits your complaint of jealousy and envy.

skeezer Says:


As I read through the comments here they start with Rafa and his win and his chances to win FO, etc, by the Rafa fans and others. Then for some they feel the need to bring Fed in the mix to justify there cause. My point is via your comment, they don’t.

Polo Says:

@skeezer: OK.

I usually do not pay too much attention to people who belittle Federer’s achievements because no amount of words can whittle down even by a bit whatever Roger has achieved.

jamie Says:

@ Polo

I think Nadal will win his third Channel Slam and Federer will win the USO. Federer is looking better than a year ago, he won Rotterdam, Dubai, IW and Madrid so I think USO will be his swan song like it was for Sampras in 2002.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Certainly not outrageous predictions. The missing element is Olympics. I just cannot believe the Rafa can win French, Wimbledon and Olympics in short order. Even if he were that much better than Fed and Nole on grass, which he certainly isn’t, his body won’t take that much work. I agree that Fed has been playing better than a year ago though. While he is not at the same odds-level as Rafa and Nole on clay, I think he will be very close on grass and fast hardcourts- he just won Indian Wells, beating Rafa after all.
So I think we have Rafa with a slight chance of Novak for French, but then I think it becomes a threeway, and even Tsonga and Del Potro and Raonic will really emerge as challengers.

Forehand_lob Says:

If you’re already registered for the inner board, participate in the 2012 French Open contest! Rules are here:

If you aren’t already registered, you can look at posting your entry in this thread, and I’ll put it in. Currently the board is having issues, so I’m not sure new people can register.

the mind reels Says:

@roy and King Federer: before you guys kill yourselves over grass courts and Halle/Queens, consider these facts:

Queen’s (2009-2011):
Avg. ranking of seeds: 14
Avg. career win % of seeds on grass: 66%

Halle (2009-2011):
Avg. ranking of seeds: 18
Avg. career win % of seeds on grass: 63%

…so, negligible difference between the tournaments in terms of relative strength of the field, at least as far as the seeds are concerned.

jane Says:

the mind reels, I’ve also noticed some players have gone back and forth between Halle and Queens: both Nole and Tsonga have played both events, for example. And Hewitt has won both if I am not mistaken. So the players must think they are equally viable. I think Queens has a certain prestige due to it locale, and the fact that champs like Sampras, Mac, Connors etc played and won there. Fed seems to have helped raise the profile of Halle, or am i mistaken? Maybe Becker played there too? I am not up to speed on the history of Halle.

the mind reels Says:

@jane: yes, that’s true about players switching. And, as many have noted here, this year we’ll have Nadal in Halle.

Queen’s certainly has a more “illustrious” history in that it’s older (Queen’s started in ’69, and Halle began only in ’93) and has typically featured more guys who’ve gone on to win at Wimbledon than Halle as you say (Becker, too, was a Queen’s regular), but I do agree that its locale to Wimbledon is largely a draw for most guys. I think it mostly comes down to habit/preference. Hewitt and Haas aren’t grass-court chumps, and both of those guys have often made Halle their go-to for Wimbledon warm-up. Haas is German, so it’s common for Germans (Kohlschreiber, too) to play a “local” tournament.

I went to Halle in 2007 and saw Berdych and Baghdatis duke it out for the title that year. Federer withdrew since he’d contested the FO final that year and was gassed afterward. It’s a fun tournament in a beautiful setting.

Interesting fact: Fred Stolle won the first Queen’s championship by a score of 6-3, 22-20.

RZ Says:

Jane and The Mind Reels,
A big reason for the switching between Queen’s and Halle has to do with tax money. The British government had a rule where they taxed a players’ endorsement money for appearances in Britain – even if the endorsement had nothing to do with playing at Queen’s or wherever. That was the reason why Rafa switched to Halle this year. Apparently the British have relaxed the rule, probably based on complaints and with the Olympics being held there this summer.

More info:

jamie Says:

Federer or Murray will win the Olympics.

Most likely Federer.

jane Says:

RZ, thanks for the link, yes we touched on that fact recently on another thread.

jamie Says:

FO: Nadal
Halle: Federer
Queens: Murray
Wimbledon: Nadal
Olympics: Federer
Toronto: Nole
Cincinnati: Murray
USO: Federer
Shanghai: Murray
Paris: Not a top 4
WTF: Nole

jane Says:

I can totally see Murray winning the Olympics. The three-set format on grass might be ideal for him; he’s won Queens a couple of times already.

Humble Rafa Says:

I can totally see Murray winning the Olympics. The three-set format on grass might be ideal for him; he’s won Queens a couple of times already.

Playing at home, Olympics -playing for the country. Mr. Lady Forehand will absolutely CHOKE this one.

the mind reels Says:

@jane: true he’s won Queen’s twice, but in neither case has he had to beat anyone inside the top 10, nor has he ever beaten Nadal on grass (0-3; he’s never played Djokovic or Federer on grass). I agree the 3-set format is ideal for him, but I’m not sure about the surface. Who knows — perhaps all of his clay-court woes will be shed and he’ll have a great month on grass.

jane Says:

He beat Tsonga last year; I had thought he was inside the top ten? But maybe not yet. And Tsonga went on to have a fantastic Wimbledon. Also Andy M has beaten Roddick on grass at both Queens and Wimbledon. I think grass is Murray’s best surface. But it’s true we haven’t seen him play Nole or Fed. He did get a set off Rafa last year, and I felt like he might’ve got another had he not mentally unraveled after a bad error. That’s the issue with Andy; he needs to be mentally strong and stay focused on his game plan so he doesn’t revert to passive play.

the mind reels Says:

Tsonga was seeded fifth but actually ranked 17th in the world at the time…but for the sake of discussion, OK — close enough!

I agree that his mind is his own worst enemy.

Rick Says:

Serious threats for Federina at the French. JMDP, Isner, Simon Gilles, Berdych!

Rick Says:

Also, Raonic and Gasquet!

the mind reels Says:

An astute list, Rick. You’ve more or less copied the names of those players that the blog post above identifies as guys to look out for at the FO this year as possibly pushing Nadal (and thus generally playing well and being regarded as threats to the field).

Rick Says:

Isner kicked Federina’s ass on clay for the US, and would do it again at the French. Lets hope that Federina would not runs into him!

jane Says:

Speaking of Hewitt, looks like he’ll be playing Queens this year:’s-wild-card/

Gordo Says:

Rick writes,

Fed is crap on grass, since Rafa destoryed his dynasty. He was taken to 5 sets by Falla and Roddick.

Yeah – taken to 5 sets WHEN HE WON IT.

Do you call you uncle Daddy?

Honestly – even on the low standards that the Internet now sets, what a wSte of space you are.

leo vixen Says:

Djokovic will succumb to the pressure and be out by the quarterfinals. No way does he make it to the final. Rafa all the way!

the mind reels Says:

Nice article in the NYTimes today, btw, about Francis Tiafoe, a promising 14 year-old world-class junior out of Maryland.

madmax Says:

Anna Says:
Yes, Rafa has been lucky to have 3 ms1000’s on clay, but not as lucky as Fed and Nole who have 6 hardcourt ms1000 tournaments to thrive on. Of course Rafa has won a few of those himself, but then Roger and Nole have won a few on clay. The best h/c players have the greatest advantage.

May 23rd, 2012 at 12:02 am

Can someone explain this to me please? Rafa has won more clay court tournaments, because there are more clay court tournaments to play. That’s a fact, so don’t know what Anna is talking about.

Anna, can you validate what you said please?

the mind reels Says:

@madmax: Anna is speaking specifically about Masters 1000 events. She’s trying to refute those people who argue that Nadal’s Masters 1000 title haul is inflated because there are more clay-court Masters 1000 tournaments by saying that, while yes there are 3 clay Masters 1000 tournaments each spring, there are 6 hardcourt Masters 1000 tournaments throughout the year, and so “the best h/c players” should have a greater chance of winning more Masters 1000 titles than Nadal does on clay (6 chances per year rather than 3).

There are probably plenty of arguments to go either way, but generally speaking, my thoughts are, in no particular order:

* the 6 “hardcourt ms1000 tournaments” Anna points to aren’t all comparable in terms of surface. Even the ATP distinguishes between “Hard” and “Indoor Hard.” Shanghai and Paris (and London, for that matter) are all indoor tournaments.

* fine, probably, to lump the other 4 together as being similar, though one must admit there are variations among the conditions in IW, Miami, Cincinnati, and Toronto/Montreal (just as Madrid now is something of an ex-factor, though still technically a clay tournament). So, all else being equal, there are 4 “similar” hardcourt Masters 1000 tournaments just as there are 3 “similar” clay Masters 1000 tournaments. But…

* clay is more a specialist surface than a hard court, and I think that a larger set of the field is more competitive on hard courts than on clay courts (driven in part because they all generally spend more time each year on hard courts than on clay). This makes it much harder to dominate on a hard court in the way Nadal does on clay. The 5 years that Federer dominated at the USO, he faced a different opponent each year in the finals. Same is true of his 4 wins at the AO, and his 4 wins in IW, etc. With the exception of 2005 and 2010, Nadal has faced Federer in every FO final, some combo of Djokovic/Ferrer/Federer(/and once Verdasco) the last 5 years in Rome and MC finals combined, and Ferrer the last 4 years in the Barcelona final. I’m not trying to take anything away from Nadal’s accomplishments — they stand for themselves as wildly impressive — just stating an observation that since he’s the superior player on clay to Djokovic/Ferrer/Federer, he’ll basically never lose a clay final and has arguably had to adapt to fewer challenges on finals Sunday on clay. So, it’s *relatively* easier for him to rack up those titles.

Leon Says:

@Kathy, May 23rd, 2012 at 5:10 am
“…The words EVEN FOR ME were not said…”

Here is the link to Nadal’s interview:

“…My experience says this level is not forever. Even for me when I was last year winning three Grand Slams, my level of last year is not forever. Probably the level of Novak of today is not forever.”

Here is the link to our exchange of opinion with grendel (if you wish):
See comments on July 5th, 2011 at 8:13 am, then July 7th, 2011 at 4:38 pm and finally July 7th, 2011 at 9:04 pm.

It was even a post-Wimbledon interview, not after USO (but I did not state the date. I clearly indicated that it was the message that quoted, not a literal quote). You can easily see that I did not distort the sense or “add my own words”. Only Nadal’s words.

Dry residue: (i) those words have really been said; (ii) you are wrong, sorry; (iii) it was a charming attempt to teach me some manners…

skeezer Says:

* the 6 “hardcourt ms1000 tournaments” Anna points to aren’t all comparable in terms of surface. Even the ATP distinguishes between “Hard” and “Indoor Hard.” Shanghai and Paris (and London, for that matter) are all indoor tournaments.

^ To add HC have changed over the years to slower. Check out each HC surface now and there ratings ( ITF ). Some are as slow rated as Clay……

Its indisputable who plays better at fast or slow, no? For an example, if Clay now played fast like an indoor do you really think Rafa would be winning them?

Wog boy Says:

Novak looks nice in new outfit, it is five years contract.
I bet uncle Goran negotiated good deal:) the one that neither Nike nor Adidas would give him. That bloke, the owner is supose to be the richest man in Japan, methinks?
Now I am sure he is going to play Asia leg this year included Tokyo, and he is going to finish year as #1, am I right Jamie?
But if he only can do FO I wouldn’t care if he finishes as any number:)

jamie Says:

@leo vixen

Maybe. Sampras and Nadal lost in the QF when they were going for the NCYGS. Only Federer reached the final twice when he was attempting to win 4 slams in a row. But Federer is the GOAT.

Wog boy Says:

“The Sacramento Bee” has nice artical about new contract, nice words by Nole about Uniqlo and the other things.

dari Says:

They have the 2011 RG final on tennis channel. What a great 7 or so games it was in the beginning. One of the greatest coulds shoulda woulda’s is that set point drop shot out by fed. Tsk tsk

Anyway, Allez ROG

Wog boy Says:

If we talk about pressure and Novak we should take in consideration that he is very familiar with the same, from the moment when he, as 12 years old boy, left home for Germany, being separeted from his family for two years knowing that his father is borrowing money from the loan sharks when one life didn’t worth much in Serbia. The pressure was everyday part of his life and still is, tell me about that.
Pressure wasn’t the reason he lost SF at FO last year, brilliant Federer was the reason, he was playing out of this world tennis and than choked in the final;(

jane Says:

I agree Wog Boy. I would add that after a historic start to the season, with 40 plus wins IN A ROW, he might have been rather mentallly, and possibly even physically, tired. It wasn’t that he caved in to the pressure. He fought the good fight. Proof lies in the fact that after the FO he took time off, skipped Queens, and regrouped, and then he went on to win two more slams, including beating Rafa for the first time in a slam final to win Wimbledon and secure number 1. That is pressure too methinks.

Wog boy Says:


Alex Says:

Major Fed fan, but he only wins with some help–Nadal out early, for example (and perhaps necessary). I agree he could take out Nadal before the finals in the semis. The problem with FED is that Nadal is in his head. Remember, last year Fed took out Nole in the Semis of RG.

I think a lot of the commenters here underestimating Nole and his mental toughness. He is going to be GUNNING for this RG title. A Rafa-Nole final will be fire-powered.

Rafa is always the favorite, barring an injury (heaven forbid) because of his “brutal” game, as someone already said.

As for the rest of the season, I still think Fed needs help to win any Major. I think he can still take out Djoker, but not sure he can take out Rafa in a 5 set final anymore. The past couple of years have been tough for me to watch. I don’t know what it is, but my opinion: he needs to take more chances on the games he isn’t serving and try to break.

That’s my rant. I am just glad there are other DIE-HARD tennis fans out there. I don’t get why hardly any of my friends love tennis. What a great sport!!!!!!

Alex Says:

Wog boy. YES! Fed CHOKED in the FO Finals last year!!! He SO had the 1st set wrapped up. It was horrible!

Dave Says:

Sean: “Federer’s best chance now is to land in the Djokovic section because he’s not beating Nadal either.”

That’s the logical presumption. But wrong.

If the seedings hold to the semifinals, Federer’s best chance of beating Nadal and winning the French Open is to meet Nadal in the semifinals. After five best-of-five set matches, Federer will be in peak condition physically and mentally at the semifinals. That’s the best time for him to take on Nadal and give it everything — either beat Nadal to regain the No. 2 ranking and have the chance in the final to stop Djokovic from winning his fourth consecutive Slam… or else lose and have two extra days’ headstart and rest to play Halle, and make up 250 points of the lost 480 points for not reaching the FO final. Federer will be motivated to try to beat Nadal more quickly in the semifinal, instead of getting stuck in a gruelling battle. And Federer — if he is leading Nadal — needs to be prepared for Rafa dipping into his bag of tricks to disrupt the match, e.g., banana got stuck in the throat… oops, been there, done that before.

If Federer reaches the FO final after beating Nadal, he knows Djokovic will not present as gruelling a match as Nadal can against him — so he will be motivated to fight to the bitter end if necessary against Novak.

Can Federer beat Nadal in a French Open semifinal? We’ll see. But one thing is certain: Federer is entering this year’s French Open looking better in game, fitness and confidence — by one to two levels — compared to last year’s warm up Masters tourneys. Even so, at last year’s French Open, many considered Federer the best player overall and his match against Djokovic was considered the best of the year… even though Nadal won the title (e.g., see link). If Federer doesn’t get over confident and cut short his training sessions, it’s likely Federer will be playing his best tennis since 2006/2007, even better than anything we saw over the last six months when he twice beat Nadal or at last year’s French Open. If Federer gets on a roll, we have seen Nadal stutter in the past (even last year’s FO final in the first set) — Federer must show no mercy, no let up, no walkabouts.

I expect either Djokovic or Nadal to lose before the semifinals. Nadal has lost some of his invincibility on clay that he had a few years ago, and this FO there are several players who have a chance to beat him if they play the clay game of their life and/or catch Nadal on a rare bad day (Federer, Ferrer, Del Potro, Isner, Berdych, Almagro, Murray, Wawrinka, Raonic, Monfils, Nalbandian, Verdasco, Andujar, Bellucci, Monaco, Seppi, Simon). Of course they would have to play the clay match of their life and it depends on the draw.

By the end of summer (US Open), we will know whether Paul Annacone has earned his fee and whether Federer has done everything possible to win another Slam and regain the No. 1 ranking.

madmax Says:

The Mind Reels,

Thank you for your explanation. Very thorough. I just get the impression that people disregard Roger’s achievements on hard court, when I always believed the clay court tournaments, well, there were more of them during the year. No one disputes Rafa’s achievements but honestly how can one compare what he has achieved to what Roger has achieved? and the fact is that more of rafa’s achievements, masters OR slams have come on clay. I don’t know how or why people dispute that.

Jon’s mailbag is interesting this week, I chose two stories, one about rafa (and why the french are supposed to hate him), and one about raonic. Raonic has always been criticised about his movement, but for a big guy, seems he moves pretty well.

Now that it’s French Open time, there’s one question that I’ve never had an answer to so I turn my lonely eyes to you. Why do the French dislike Nadal? He reveres their tournament, he gives 100% every time he’s out there, and he’s an honorable champion. Is it because they favor style over substance, or they don’t like the Spanish, or what? It’s not exactly like he’s kept a group of French superstars from hoisting the trophy, so what gives?
— Craig Berry, Park Forest, Ill.

• Clearly there’s been an absence of warmth, if not an outright chill, especially for a player who had more success in Paris than Gertrude Stein. A teeny bit of this probably stems from Nadal’s “banana match” against French player Paul Henri Mathieu in (gulp) 2006. A teeny bit probably stems from a few remarks Uncle Toni made with regards to Nadal not getting enough respect. But mostly, the French crowds A) like being part of the spectacle and will use any opportunity to get involved and B) side squarely with the underdog. (One example among many: They didn’t dislike Hingis in 1998, so much as they sided with a thirty-something Steffi Graf to beat the successful top-seeded teenager.) Whatever the case, I doubt Nadal is losing sleep over it.

Hey Jon, discerning Canadians want to know: Can Milos Raonic do well at Wimbledon? Sure, he’s got possibly the best serve in tennis which should bode well for grass, but he’s also a big guy with awkward movement. He may not be able to get down low enough to those skimming ground strokes. Your thoughts?
— Michael, Halifax

• Thanks. I decided to throw this one to the well-regarded Canadian tennis scribe Tom Tebbutt, who has seen a lot of more Raonic than anyone in the media. Here’s his assessment:

“Of course Milos Raonic can do well at Wimbledon – and by well you have to mean at least reaching the quarterfinals. A year ago, he won two rounds on grass at Halle before losing a close one to Philipp Petzschner. At Wimbledon he outplayed Marc Gicquel and I remember afterward how impressed the 34-year-old Frenchman was by Raonic’s big game.

Against Gilles Muller in the second round, he was already up a break at 3-2 in the first set when he had to retire with that fateful hip injury. I think he’ll be a lot better this year – he’s a quick study about everything on the tour. Of course getting down to low balls isn’t as easy for him as it would be for Albert Montanes (5-foot-9), but then the Spaniard could never have nearly as devastating a serve as someone like the 6-foot-5 Raonic.

The Canadian moves fine for a big guy and there’s no doubt he’ll be dangerous on grass in Halle, at Wimbledon and in Newport, where he plans to play the week after Wimbledon. Ask anyone who follows the game closely about whether Raonic could do well or even win Wimbledon this year and, outside the Big Four, they might only pick Tsonga and Berdych before Raonic’s name is mentioned. He’s definitely among the top 10 favorites.”

Read more:

Read more:

Humble Rafa Says:

After a few days of contemplating, I have come to this conclusion. Beating the Egg Lover just doesn’t do it for me. It feels like someone just gave me the trophy to lick without playing in the tournament. Contrast that with the “rivalry”, where I feel “good”.

I hope the Roland Garros folks slowed the court down and use better balls than last time.

I want to win without losing a single set. Otherwise, it will be a miserable French Open.

Dave Says:

I said before that Federer performing the role of Player Council president can affect his tennis success. And yet Federer is seeking re-election for a third term when his current term ends in June this year. This article by The Times’ top tennis correspondent Neil Harman confirms that.

“(Federer) the president of the ATP Player Council and the only member of the top ten who has put his name forward for another political stint, both Nadal and Novak Djokovic having decided that it is interfering too much with their prime sporting objectives.”

Thomas Says:

Jamie, are those YOUR predictions or the psychichs? Didn’t you say earlier that the psychic said that this years FO would be the last slam win of nadal’s career?

Polo Says:

Humble Rafa, you will disappoint me if you win Roland Garros without giving a bagel set to your poor victim. Triple bagels from you will be great. Two to kneel on to protect your knees (kneeling will highlight your humility) and one to bite on together with the trophy.

jane Says:

Fed’s spoken out about proposed ITF changes to future Olympics qualifications:

oui Says:

Lisa/Von or is it Von/Lisa?
LOL, everyone knows.

oui Says:

Your predications have changed in the last 3 months. Have the planets changed?

jamie Says:
Predictions for 2012:

AO: Djokovic(duh)

FO: Nadal

Wimbledon: Murray

Olympics: Federer

USO: Djokovic

WTF: Djokovic

February 27th, 2012 at 9:15 am

jamie Says:
FO: Nadal
Halle: Federer
Queens: Murray
Wimbledon: Nadal
Olympics: Federer
Toronto: Nole
Cincinnati: Murray
USO: Federer
Shanghai: Murray
Paris: Not a top 4
WTF: Nole

May 23rd, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Skeezer Says:

Dave 10:27

So, they can’t handle the responsibilty to help others?

Dave Says:

Skeezer: You might be accused of being a cynic :) I read it as they “having decided that (not fulfilling their agenda of self-interest) is interfering too much with their prime sporting objectives.” The tennis correspondent Neil Harman should know what he was writing since he was the first tennis writer to be awarded the Sports Journalists’ Association’s “Sports News Reporter of the Year”, is the winner of the ATP’s Ron Bookman Award for Media Excellence in 2005, and is a former president of the International Tennis Writers’ Association.

Btw, the link is a full copy of the original Times article on the ITF and Davis Cup issue (on which jane’s article was based).

skeezer Says:


“…having decided that (not fulfilling their agenda of self-interest) is interfering too much with their prime sporting objectives.”

No i still read it as “Me, Myself, and I”. ;)

Dave Says:

skeezer: ROTFL

Tennis Fan Says:

Feds draw is absolutely horrible for the French Open … he’s got everybody capable of coming up big for a week or two. Virtually every other section is almost a walk for a good player. Murray’s quarter is a complete joke. It almost looks fixed.

Gordo Says:

Tennis Fan –

Don’t sell Federer short. The way he has been playing I really think only Del Potro has a shot at him, and Fed has owned him as of late, so I do think everyone can posture all they like in here, and throw around insults and what-ifs, but at the end of the day (that end of the day being two weeks from now after the quarters have been played) I will be SHOCKED if Nadal, Djokovic and Federer are not 3 of the 4 semifinalists. Murray? I am not so sure.

Will It Be Nadal v Djokovic In The French Open Final? Men’s SF Picks And Pans Says:

[…] scary I-saved-four-matchpoints mojo thing happening which he had when he won the US Open last fall. I talked about the pressure Novak faced coming in with so much on the line, but those matchpoints saved should do wonders to ease that weight of what’s at stake for him […]

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