Grass Preview: Nadal, Federer Heat Up Halle This Week
by Staff | June 9th, 2014, 11:37 am

The players are still brushing the red clay from their shoes, but the grass court season begins immediately and in earnest (and with Ernest Gulbis) beginning today.
Only qualifiers and lower-ranked players will see the court today in Halle, Germany at the Gerry Weber Open, but the seeds are stacked with French Open champ Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Milos Raonic and Tommy Haas among the stars.

The men’s Aegon Championships in London are equally stacked with seeds including Stan Wawrinka at No. 1, Tomas Berdych, Andy Murray Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Gulbis others.

The 56-player London draw has no lack of early-round matches to watch for including (1) Wawrinka after a bye likely vs. (WC) Marcos Baghdatis, (14) Jerem Chardy vs. Sam Querrey, (5) Tsonga after a bye likely vs. comer Dominik Thiem, and (12) Dmitry Tursunov vs. Dutchman Igor Sijsling. Also watch out for unseeded Lleyton Hewitt, the former No. 1 and Wimbledon champion.

The women only have one event this week, the AEGON Classic in Birmingham where, like the grass court seasons on the WTA tour every year, the stars fail to come out until Wimbledon.

No Top 10 players are entered in Birmingham, but the seeds contain some names with former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, Slam winner Sam Stosur, and rising players Madison Keys, Monica Puig, Caroline Garcia and Alison Riske.

Who will benefit from fast starts on the men’s and women’s sides?

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72 Comments for Grass Preview: Nadal, Federer Heat Up Halle This Week

contador Says:

Ernests Gulbis is the new #10 in ATP rankings. He and Thiem are playing in London. And Nishikori is back – hopefully in good health.

Amelie Mauresmo and Andy Murray has a nice ring to it: AM and AM.

Margot Says:

There’s another grass court warm up at Devonshire Park Eastbourne 14th to 21st I think. Lots of the top women go there to play. Open to men as well.
It does indeedy have a nice symmetry to it :)

Margot Says:

Am loving watching players on the green, green grass again and watching someone called Traver, of whom I know nothing, slip sliding all over it!

M Says:

Why is Shakira in the lead picture? Is she running to Germany to watch Roger & Rafa? Says:

From March to September is an annual feast of tennis: 3 slams and 8 masters in 7 months. But these back to back slams are the heart of it, and the turn to grass the most exciting moment. Something huge has just happened, and something huge is about to.
Players who have fought and clawed to the top of tennis find the season and surface changes, the glass bowl has been shaken, and everyone must start over again in proving where they belong.

This is the time of What have you done for me LATELY? Says:

My inclination is that grass is, like clay, a highly stratified contest on the ATP. There is really the Big Four and everyone else on this surface more than anywhere else (on clay there is just a Big Two).

We know Berdych and Tsonga can play great grass court tennis. No one else really ranks as “special” here (especially with Del Potro out).
Still, I am excited to see what the New Second Tier can do: Raonic, Wawrinka, Nishikori, and Gulbis.

SG1 Says:

As a Canadian, I really want to see what a sharp, healthy and focused Raonic can do on grass. With his return and movement improving daily, I would expect him to make it to at least the Wimbledon quarters.

The other point of interest for me is Federer. I think we’ll find out if he has another major in him or not. He’s healthy, has more firepower with the new stick and has so much pedigree for grass. If he doesn’t make it to the finals at Wimbledon, I think his days of winning majors are done.

I can’t see Novak being mentally recovered from the RG loss yet and I think Rafa left everything out on the court the last two weeks. To me at least, there’s a great chance for Andy Murray to get another slam here. He had a very nice run in Paris and lookd ready to get back in the slam winners circle. Says:

Don’t you think Andy will suffer serious confidence issues after that loss?

SG1 Says:

I don’t think Andy ever imagined he’d be in the FO semi. Losing to Rafa on red clay…even in a rout, isn’t a shame at all. It was a bad match-up for Andy and he took one on the chin.

Being back on grass with the monkey off his back, I suspect that he’ll play more freely.

SG1 Says:

I guess what I’m saying is that a loss in this case, is just a loss. It’s Rafa, it’s red clay. Better clay courters than Andy have taken it on the chin from Rafa (Novak, Federer, Ferrer, Soderling etc.), just to name a few. Andy should be able to turn the semi-final run into positive he can build on.

FedExpress Says:

you cant rule Fed out for winning a slam till he retires. At the end of the season we could be sitting and discussing that he won Wimb and US (which asks too much tbf) but never rule the maestro out. If not this year then next:

Okiegal Says:


Maybe TX is trying to stir up trouble between him and his girlfriend……bringing back memories of the video they did together……might influence them into fussing and fighting…..Rafa loses focus and bingo his tennis game is suffering big time!! Just a thought…..LOL

Humble Rafa Says:

The less important part of the tennis season starts.


RZ Says:

Looking forward to the grass! I wonder how much the RG final will affect Rafa’s and Djoker’s abilities to do well at SW19. Regardless, I don’t think we’ll have a repeat of last year’s Wacky Wimbledon. We may get something closer to 2012’s Roger and Andy show. We’ll find out in a few weeks!

James Says:

Rafa wants to do well at Wimbledon again. I think he will be there in the second week of Wimby this time.

contador Says:

Watching Melzer and Evans right now on some lush, cool looking grass. Melzer will forever be important to me for reluctantly signing my RF cap.

Grass makes me really want to get out and play tennis.

contador Says:


Home watching the tennis channel today, nursing my bruises and road rash from crashing my bicycle. Finally I have the Daniel Gimeno-Traver match vs Hewitt on that you watched hours ago. Hewitt can hit a backhand slice all day long.

And what about Boodles? Isn’t that coming up as well?

gonzalowski Says:

No affair with Shakira at all…
she supports Barcelona Fc, Rafa Real Madrid ;)

Margot Says:

Boodles is weird. An exclusive club that lets us plebs in once a year to watch a… kind of exhibition, I guess.
Believe Nole, Raonic, Isner, Foggy et al. may be there. Think Andy played once but I may be wrong.
Am going to Queens and Wimbledon, so probably won’t bother…;)

contador Says:

lol, I am familiar with the type of Club. Do they allow women in all parts of the club? Or is there an area, bar, and an elevator for ‘men only?’

Dan Martin Says: I’ve got my latest Power Ranking up. I am looking forward to the grass season and Halle does have the better draw this year, but normally Queen’s Club is a little stronger. Upsets as people transition or recover from fatigue will likely mean a surprise winner at one of these two events. Is it a surprise if it is likely? I’ll have to ponder.

Humble Rafa Says:

I have to extra protective of my gf. I hear Boris is mad.

Eric Says:

TennisVagabond, you’re just wrong about grass. Grass is the most upset-friendly surface. Look at how many upsets there are at Wimbledon — Rafa (twice) and Roger in absurdly early rounds just in the last two years. Middling players like Kohlschreiber often go bizarrely deep. Has-beens like Hewitt can push the Big Four to the limit. I would bet every other slam has a better average ranking for the quarterfinalists over the past decade.

Humble Rafa Says:

Also, I will be distracted in the next few months watching my beloved country in the World Cup.

Cows can eat the grass.

skeezer Says:

Insulting. Grass is THE all time historical most popular Slam. Clay? Pffft.

Humble Rafa Says:


I understand you are still in recovery mode. Take care of yourself, you cats need you.

skeezer Says:

Me? With 17? Never in recovery mode. You mean …you right? Always in recovery from supposed injuries. Hows the back, whiner?
Btw, I have no cats, try something else, dirt lover. Remember, pigs love the mud. How are your pigs? Take care of them , they make good bacon.

Michael Says:

I am sceptical about Rafa’s participation at Halle after his win at Rolland Garros. But so far there has been no news from him and his team and so seemingly it is still on, which would make Halle very interesting as Roger and Rafa might probably meet in the finals after a long hiatus in a grass court tournament. Tennis fans all over the World would be eagerly awaiting this blockbuster finals if that manages to fructify.

Michael Says:

Novak is the only top player who is skipping preliminary tournaments leading up to the Premier event of Wimbledon. How that is going to help him when it takes considerable amount of time to adjust to the change of surface ? Even last year, he sticked to this strategy, but still made the finals. This time around, I hope Novak sets aside his French open loss and approach Wimbledon with a fresh mind. He can definitely make necessary amends at Wimbledon.

skeezer Says:

Tennis X staff,
Write up of Nadals 14 vs Sampras 14? Who has the edge in variety and quality of Slam achievements? Which 14 is better?

jatin Says:

He deserved to win all four Grand Slams

Nadal: “I cried the day that Federer won the French open”

HOW can anyone hate this guy ?

Goatexpert Says:

Nadal’s 14 is better than Sampras’s 14, I have to accept that. First, Nadal has won all 4 slams – Sampras has one semi at the French, that’s all. Second, Nadal has beaten Fed and Djoke repeatedly to win his slams. Sampras had much less competition.

So with this win, very clearly, Nadal > Sampras, no doubt at all.

So far, Fed still > Nadal. But Nadal is catching up.

As for Wimbledon,

Djoker is now the choker. Quite disappointing the way he is constantly loosing slam finals. I don’t think he makes it to the final in Wimbledon.

Nadal? Grass really exposes the limitations of his game. He might have 14 slams, but his game is not that rich. He more than makes up for it by his mental strength, fitness and movement – but still. I don’t think he wins it either.

Murray is a notch below these guys (Fed, Nadal, Djoke). He has won one, I don’t think he has it in him to win another.

That leaves Fed. He might. This is his last chance. Lets see.

Berdych? Naah. Tsonga? He’s done.

New Guys? I really hope Raonic goes on a run here. He certainly has the game to win Wimbledon. Dimitrov? May be. Gulbis? No, too much attitude. Grass is a different beast.

Giles Says:

@Jatin. I am very pleased you posted that link which is something I was contemplating doing but changed my mind thinking “what’s the point”. It just proves what a great sportsman Rafa is .

James Says:

@Jatin, Rafa also said this in an interview with El Pais:

El Pais: You said that you cried when Federer won RG.
Nadal:Me emocioné.
El Pais: Would you cry for a Djokovic win?
Nadal: I don’t know. I’m not a person who likes to cry much. I have a good relation with Federer. Not sure I’d have emotions for Djokovic.

Despite the hatred from some of Federer fans, Rafa likes and respects Federer a lot. And it isn’t just PR talk as he doesn’t say the same about Djokovic or other players.

gonzalowski Says:

Thanks James and Jatin, got the article…
Giles: congratulations for Nadal’s victory, you are the bravest fan.

“At 2013 I wasn’t well with my knee. I played the whole year taking anti-inflammatories, every day Voltaren pinchs, all year to the limit. Grass demanded from me a mental and physical effort I couldn’t stand nor assume.(…) Seeing me impotent, not being able to opt to something motivating, blocked my effort.” (…)
“It wasn’t fear of the grass, it was pain (..) When it hurts, it hurts, when there is a limitation, there is”

R. Es que me dolía la rodilla. Miedo no. Dolor. No es un tema de miedo. No soy una persona que tenga miedos, pero cuando duele, duele, cuando hay limitación hay limitación. Voy a Halle porque quiero intentar jugar bien en hierba de nuevo. Después, si la espalda no me responde, o la rodilla no va bien… así será y yo lo habré intentado.

WTF Says:

If the Djoker wins a 250 tune up event on grass going into Wimbledon he will be ranked number 1 in the world, in spite of not holding any slams.

As it stands he will still be seeded 1 at Wimbledon because of their peculiar ranking system giving more weight to grass results which Nadal has none of.

jonathan Says:

Murray is finally rounding into form and Queens will allow him to get back to his peak in time for Wimbledon.

Federer is in great health, has had extra time to prepare for grass and Wimbledon is his true objective this year to extend his 17. Never count him out especially on grass.

Nadal has played five finals at Wimbledon proving his abilities on grass.

Djokovic is a true champion and perhaps a bit of a wild card coming off such a disappointment now losing his last four slam meetings against Nadal and having won just one of his last six slam finals.

There will be other interesting story lines from the younger breed (Raonic, Gulbis, Dimitrov) but the gold standard Top 4 are the true contenders as usual here.

Polo Says:

I still see one of the big 4 as the winner of the next Wimbledon. It’s very hard to think of anybody else breaking through that circle in slam events. Occasionally, somebody surprisingly sneaks in but that almost looks like a freak accident, only 4 (Gaudio, Safin, Del Potro, Wawrinka) in the past 10 years.

calmdownplease Says:

`Murray is a notch below these guys (Fed, Nadal, Djoke). He has won one, I don’t think he has it in him to win another.
That leaves Fed. He might. This is his last chance. Lets see`

Hehehe, we will see who’s a notch below who soon enough won’t we?
Murray is the number one grass player on the tour right now.
He is the only big 4 player, bar Federer, in the top 20 best ever grass players.
Actually only one of 3 players from the last 30 years and more slams were grass based before then.
So unlike clay, he can obviously play very well on it, and I believe will straight set either Fed or Djokovic on this surface this year should they meet. There, I’ve stuck my neck out.
Nadal is Andy’s nemesis, but I have to wonder how well he can resist Andy too. A channel slam is probably a step too far now, as the last 2 years have clearly showed.
Nadal needs a lot of practice, probably a final showing in Halle rather than just dropping out all things considered. But I have a feeling that he gave his all both mentally and physically to hold onto RG, and will not be a factor.
Regardless, I would now put a match on this surface between them at 50/50.
Andy should be finally in form by the 2nd week of this tournament (if he is not knocked out early).
That was the main benefit of his particular RG campaign. Says:

CDP, all I remember is the shellacking Rafa gave Andy in the semis a couple years back.
I would not be so confident in Andy over his rivals, but good for you for sticking your neck out.

Its true of course that upsets happen on grass, but the finalists at Wimbledom seem always predictable. I’ll say again, grass takes its own skills. Someone can get lucky and have a day painting lines, but only the Big 4 plus Berdych and Tsonga have shown the affinity for grass to come up with big matches repeatedly.

Now, in the Big Four era the same can be said of ALL the slams, as these pigs monopolize the buffet. The difference with grass is we have no Masters to gauge if others are challenge-ready. On hard courts we know a Raonic, Wawrinka, Ferrer or others can make deep runs. We don’t have the same evidence on grass. Says:

And those discounting Rafa might want to consider the prevailing winds against him a few weeks ago. Short memories.
Rafa has won twice, with three other finals appearances. To say he is unsure on grass is asinine.

I would put Murray, Rafa and Novak as favourites, with Fed not far off.

I am most interested in watching Gulbis, Raonic, Wawrinka.

calmdownplease Says:

5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 is certainly not a shellacking.
Last week at RG, now that was a shellacking!
He could have went up a break in the 2nd back in `11 but shanked it if you remember, & that was that.
The defeat in 10 was straight sets but not lopsided, they were closely fought, again this was the developmental Murray always seemingly drawn with Nadal, the least suitable player for him to be drawn with in his formative years.
The mentally immature, pre Lendl, pre slam pre Wimbledon Murray.
If you think Nadal is capable of a channel slam at this stage with his game where it is at & two previous first round exits to nobodies fair enough. Not being a fan of his I personally don’t see it.
Every year is another year on the clock for those knees too.
But it’s sport and one can never right him off.
But no, he wont be `shellacking` Andy if they do meet this time. That at least is a certainty.

contador Says:

Tennis Vagabond – exactly. Can’t wait to see how Raonic, Gulbis, Wawrinka, and for me, also Nishikori perform.

Though I don’t hold a lot of hope for Kei being recovered and tuned up. We know Stan can be pretty good on clay. Gulbis and Raonic are very interesting question marks. Should be good.

Hopefully Murray arrives prepared as well. Says:

CDP, I emember those matches well, and I think you wear rose coloured glasses. I agree he won’t dominate Andy, I just thinking your writing Rafa off as a rival to Andy on grass is similarly optimistic.

Contador, I don’t think Raonic moves well enough to excel on grass yet, but with his aggressive game, who knows? Gulbis moves really well. He has a big man’s game and he moves like a small one. Wawrinka’s movement has improved so much that he could really surprise as well. Dolgopolov’s game should translate well to grass- hope so!

This is also the time of year we see old times Hewitt and Haas shine, look for that!

calmdownplease Says:

Did I write him off as a competitor?
No, I said 50/50, but only because of the difficult match up, not because of his grass form.
The reality is that he has been knocked out in the first round, twice in a row!
So who now out of the two of us is looking at this situation with rose coloured glasses, eh? Says:

CDP, you could be right. I’m not really a fan of Rafa’s, so I doubt I have rose coloured glasses. I am a Fed fan trained to fear Rafa as a competitor, that may be my problem. But as RG just showed, and the Oz finals, and the last USO, Rafa is formidable, and Rafa is in Slam winning form.
His streaks end suddenly. Maybe this will be it. But if he gets Murray, I’ll meet you here for a Tennis-X prediction throw down.

calmdownplease Says:

Sure you’re on :)
And yes Rafa is most formidable.
I don’t mean to be disrespectful to Fed and Novak either. They both might beat Andy, but Novak is a little crushed for the time being and Andy really is a better GC player than he is, he is yet to gain a set from him on grass.
People are saying Fed is possible but only because it is `Fed`. There’s no other reason to believe he will pull it off as he has shown no form whatsoever these past few months.
Last time he assumed world number one status after winning Wimbledon.
It seems a long time ago now.
Even Nadal eventually had to play seeds at RG (although they were useless)so I doubt Fed will get the Sampras style last hurrah draw.
I just think it looks a bit better for Andy in this tournament.
Nadal is a big problem for him but he played the right way against him in Rome and the fast, low boumcing conditions in Wimbledon will assist him.
And Rafa might not be at his best in the semis/final of another slam after all of this.
And has played only one grass match in 2 years.
Well its all merely speculation.
We shall see soon enough.

Humble Rafa Says:

Rafael Nadal confessed that he cried the day that Roger Federer won the French Open. “I got emotional. He deserved to win that tournament, after so many finals and semi-finals. He deserved to win all four Grand Slams,” said Nadal in an interview published in ‘L’Equipe’.

If any Arrogant people cried after I won the FO, please contact me immediately.

Margot Says:

But you did suggest that Andy snuck those 2 slams because Rafa was otherwise indisposed. Suggests a somewhat Rafa bias TBH. Apologies if that wasn’t you.
Que sera :)
It’s gonna be really interesting to see what Amelie brings to the coaching table. As long as she’s heard shouting, “Get off that baseline” I’ll be happy!

SG1 Says:

I’m picking Murray to win again. Federer and Rafa are a kind of Kryptonite to Andy but he’s got to be getting that hungry feeling for another major. Where better than Wimbledon to quench that hunger?

SG1 Says:

Where exactly are those images of Rafa crying when Federer won? LOL.

Giles Says:

SG1. Do you want the cameras focused on Rafa 24/7? He was obviously in the comfort of his home watching the match.
Sorry, you have been denied images! Lol

Steve27 Says:

He cried because he likes drama, and Federer winning in 2009 had a lot of drama. Very moving, indeed! Says:

Margot, as I said, I’m a Fed fan. But unfortunately, reality has a pro-Rafa bias. Says:

OK, I don’t want to be seen as Blindly Pimping Rafa, so here’s my Rafa Worries: Rafa has never been known for long periods of success. He wins slams then disappears for slams. Whether that’s focus, fatigue or injury, I don’t know, but Rafa’s current hot streak is a relatively long one. He’s due for a few early losses or time away entirely.

Wouldn’t surprise me if he loses week one, but if he makes week two, I think he’ll be the one surprising the doubters here

This may sound crazy, but I think only Federer can beat a hot Rafa on grass. And that Federer may not exist any more.

calmdownplease Says:

These kind of Fedal arguments are becoming archaic.
Federer hasn’t beaten Rafa at Wimbledon for 7 years.
Or any slam for that matter.
I just don’t even know what to say about that other than Roger should have come up with an answer to Nadal the way Nadal clearly came up with one against Roger.
Novak and Rafa are constantly adapting their games almost solely to deal with the one another.
I will also say that your lack of faith about Murray’s Nadal defeating abilities certainly has justification and is no doubt also soldified when seen through the prism of Federers losses to him as well.
Isn’t it one of the reasons so many Fed fans have become overnight Novak converts, despite his game being rather similar to Nadal’s?
The 3 main differences for me however between Federer and Andys prospects against Rafa going on are the following.
a. 6 years age difference
b. A Double Handed Backhand
c. The lessons of Novak Djokovic
I am reasonably chilled about this rivalry as I still feel Andy has the most untapped potential of the 3 of them so I am just going to let it unfold without worry.
Off the clay & on his day Andy can beat anyone.
And win or lose I’ll be fine about it as long as he doesn’t not turn up & plays the best he can on the day.

calmdownplease Says:

*with the other

Tennislover Says:

“This may sound crazy, but I think only Federer can beat a hot Rafa on grass. And that Federer may not exist any more.”

That implies that a hot Raf is basically invincible on grass too since “that” Fed may not exist any more. While Raf has proven that he can play very well on grass, it is not a surface he is comfortable with when the grass courts are lush green. Hence his troubles in his initial matches. Once Wimby moves into the second week and after the courts have taken a pounding and become “bald” – most of the area around the baseline has very little grass in the latter part of the event- Raf becomes as good a contender to win the title as anybody else. Five wimby finals and two titles are still better than any other current player except Fed. The slowing down of the courts/balls and the higher and consistent bounce have helped the baseliners thrive on the surface. However, I do think that Raf is probably the first among equals – and not unbeatable even if he is hot – along with Murray and Djo if he manages to reach the latter stages of the event. Of course, it remains to be seen how Djo responds after his Paris disappointment and whether Murray can handle Raf if he does meet him at some point in the event. Raf has to be brimming with confidence after the Rg win and a kind early draw could potentially see him make another great run at Wimby.

calmdownplease Says:

Yeah he has said that in the second week it almost becomes like a clay court.
And while I think that’s more to do with mind games (on himself)the back of the court does indeeed wear down & slow down so it might be prudent for anyone facing him in the quarters and onwards to consider dealing with him by coming in more & playing around the net rather than just an exclusive baseline strategy.

SG1 Says:

Rafa crying when his competitor won?!? To steal a phrase, “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!”. I’m a Rafa fan but I’m not buying it…not for a second. Says:

Gulbis out. Not a good sign, but hopefully just a French hangover and he’ll be able to use the first week to round into form.

Dolgopolov also struggling. Monfils and Nishikori in a very competitive match as well.

RZ Says:

@SG1 – Rafa mentions in his book that he cried for half an hour after that final. It’s in the beginning of his book.

Not sure why people are viewing players crying as a bad thing. It shows that they care about the result.

SG1 Says:

RZ…I guess anything written in a book must be true…LOL.

RZ Says:

@SG1 – well it’s Rafa’s autobiography, so we have to take him at his word. Says:

Milos out to arch-rival Peter Gojowczyk!

That’s not good.Milos might have needed this grass warm-up more than any other top tenner.

skeezer Says:

“Not sure why people are viewing players crying as a bad thing. It shows that they care about the result”
It all started when the Nadal fan lovers pi$$ed on Fed for losing to Rafa in there last meeting @ AO. Silly complaint really, the players put so much emotion into the game, at times they let there emotions get away from them. At that moment, its everything. And Rafa responded at that moment like the man he is, and comforted Fed. Regardless of players crying or not, it’s who holds the trophy that gets recorded, not who cried, or hurled, or laughed, or even who bit the trophy or not.

jonathan Says:

^^^ their, not there

Excellent points skeezer.

Okiegal Says:

Jonathon, the new Colin (grammar police) or “old” Colin with a new moniker! Lol Skeezer, you better read your post and check it twice……Santa Claus is watching you……lol

Okiegal Says:

Calling people out for grammar errors…..rolling eyes.


Okiegal Says:


Yes, Rafa did respond like the man he is. Rafa totally understood, as I’m sure his mind wandered back to Wimby 2007. Nothing wrong with men showing emotions….I am deeply moved by that reaction from a man……and was so happy Rafa got to bite that particular trophy…..the end result is what’s important, after all.

jonathan Says:

jonathan, not Jonathon.

Okiegal Says:

Just testing…….one, two three!! LOL. Fair enough, Jon Boy!!

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