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The Netcord Jungle 11/17/2008 - 4:55 PM

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by Pete Bodo

Howdy, everyone. The silence in TennisWorld is, as they say, deafening, right? It seems like just over a week ago, I was grousing about the endless season and what was shaping up as a Sharade in Shanghai, and now I'm feeling a little paranoid and darting glances left and right: Hey, where did everybody go? What, no tennis? It's an outrage!!!!!!!

When it comes to this game, it seems that there's a little bit of the kid left in all of us. One moment, we're gorging on ice cream (okay, feel free to post your favorite flavor - I'm going with Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia), the next, after the tummy ache has worn off,  we're clamoring for. . . more ice cream.

I think I feel this way partly because I just finished a new post for ESPN, on how the Tennis Masters Cup managed to produce a logical, clear end to the year. Ironically, as I write this my last ESPN post , on what went wrong with the YEC, is still featured on the tennis home page. But these back-to-back columns, one bemoaning the state of the YEC, the other praising the outcome, aren't a testament to my fickle nature. I'm just following my nose, and sometimes the trail takes a sudden turn - thank God.

Anyway, before we delve any deeper into the post mortems of the TMC, I want to thank Rosangel for all of her invaluable work in the past few weeks (and an assist to Andrew Burton). You know, trying to run what is essentially a one-man,  24/7 tennis blog where the coffee's always on and the fire is always burning in the hearth isn't all the easy. It isn't so much a matter of content - something is always happening in tennis. It's the logistics - being around to post a new Crisis Center, or extend a thread, and generally minding the store to ensure that readers don't check back periodically and find that nothing has changed. That's the tough part.

It's especially hard for me at this time of year, because I give up a fair amount of weekend, holiday and vacation time in the summer in order to feed the beast (and I'm glad there's a beast to feed). Come fall, I'm itching for a break, and it's my preferred time of year (I get drunk on joy in the autumn woods). It's also the start of the new school year for my loco cowboy Luke and a busy time for my  working wife, Lisa.

Lots of good things have happened to some Tribe regulars these past few weeks - Andrew Burton is running amuck in Calgary as big cheese at his company, Easy Ed McGrogan is hitting his stride as a full-time employee here at Tennis.com, Andrew Friedman landed a nice book contract (about a competition among some of the best chefs in the world), Asad Raza submitted his film to the Sundance Film Festival, El Jon is deep into his book on Roger Federer . . . Anyone else care to volunteer information on what they're doing? Feel free - this is a pretty freewheeling post-season celebration we'll be having in the coming weeks.

In the coming days, we'll have a book-group meeting to discuss the book I published with Pete Sampras this summer (A Champion's Mind); I think we'll just do a Q-and-A type session, live, so you can comment on the book and/or ask any questions you may have for me. I'm also planning to produce a special feature with Greg Sharko, the not-so-mad genius of the ATP Tour. I'll also be visiting with Nick Bollettieri at his eponymous academy in Bradenton, Fla., sometime in the next few weeks, and I'll have a full report on that.

But before we close the book on 2008, here are some final thoughts. As I wrote in my new ESPN post, I thought the end of the TMC was, to use the precise word, "appropriate." More bluntly put, the tournament saved itself.  Novak Djokovic sloughed off whatever had been ailing him (you could describe his illness as Competitive Abundance Syndrome, or CAS, and it's been known to strike certain Serbian players more viciously than most other pros) to end the year just as he began it, by bagging a big title and affirming his status as part of tennis's ruling triumvirate (along with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal).

Djokovic needed to remind us of this, and perhaps he himself needed a wake-up call, what with Andy Murray, Jo Wilfried Tsonga, Juan Martin del Potro and even (perhaps) Gilles Simon emerging as authentic challengers to the supremacy of the big three.

And to a lesser extent, Nikolay Davydenko also made a statement - if he had crapped out in Shanghai, it would be pretty hard to refute that contention that Kolya the No Longer Obscure shot his wad in Miami, and that his triumph in a big Masters event underscored rather than undermined his status as a mid-level predator in the netcord jungle - the coyote of the tennis tour. You know how it is with coyotes: they decimate the fox population, but when the wolves show up, it's Armageddon for the fabled "Trickster" of native American lore.

Somehow - and luckily for the ATP - the Djokovic-Davydenko final was both unpredictable and unsurprising (kind of a lesser version of that 11-10 final score in the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Diego Chargers game - everybody knows the score is possible, it just hasn't happened before in 12,837 games!). All the talk in the fall was of Andy Murray, Jo-Willy, and Juan Martin, with Federer and Nadal looming in the background. And while nobody (at least nobody in his right mind) wrote off Djokovic or Davydenko, only their cluster of diehard fans paid the same attention to them as to the jockeying in rest of the field.

On top of that, all of the subplots (Gillies Simon, Nadal's knee, Radek Stepanek, Federer's tummy and Murray's hot start) indicated that the TMC could add an additional and not entirely credible name to the mix at the top - November tennis is unpredictable and not entirely reliable tennis. I don't know if my doubts and criticisms were rash, but if you just look at the results and rankings, the finalists were hardly mystery guests. At the same time, Djokovic was man who needed this title the most in order to sustain the general momentum he's built over the past few years. This is going to put him in a great frame of mind for the first major of the new year, in which I think his watchword is going to be "focus." 

To my mind, Djokovic lost his way a little at about the mid-point of the year, and especially after Roger and Rafa made 2008 all about their rivalry. Djokovic's lack of focus seemed evident in his game; where it was once extremely clean and compact, a kind of looseness seemed to creep into it as the months rolled by. It was a little like buying a car that's sleek and tight and quiet, only to have a series of rattles and vibrations emerge once the odomoter turns 20,000 miles. You understand the perils of wear and tear, but you don't expect to have to deal with them so soon.

These are, of course, gut feelings. And tennis seen live, over a good chunk of tournament, is a much more reliable indicator than the televised product. One thing is clear, though, Djokovic is likely to be a hard-pressed no. 3, with Murray, Tsonga and del Potro bearing down on him - and Andy Roddick seemingly dedicated to hanging in there as well.

In the long term, that might be the best thing that can happen to Djokovic. If he's bent on fending off the challenge from below, he's going to be better equipped to meet the challenge from above because it will entail so much less pressure.

So what of Nadal and Federer, then?  For the first time in about three years, I feel confident saying that those boys have their work cut out for them.

When Nadal launches his 2009 spring clay court campaign, he's going to be in a better and different position from the one he held in 2007 and earlier this year. That's just one of the many long-term benefits he'll reap from his epic win over Federer at Wimbledon. I'm not sure I can think of a single tournament win that has comparable potential as a career game-changer for the winner - perhaps even for the loser.

The Wimbledon final was the gateway to the no. 1 ranking that Nadal finally seized in August. It also officially extended his empire to surfaces other than clay - he now has both ends of the surface-speed spectrum covered, which is as important for Nadal, psychologically, as it is sobering for his rivals. Does anyone doubt that the player who can win at Roland Garros and Wimbledon will be able to figure out the hard courts of Melbourne or the US Open?  Because of the role of surface, you never assume you can do something in tennis until you've done it. That's the main contribution of tennis's multi-surface tradition.

Still. Until this July, it seemed pretty obvious that Nadal operated like an old-fashioned warlord. His probing, opportunistic, sometimes tentative forays to kingdoms beyond clay were financed, so to speak, and generally supported by the tight grip he held on his own turf.  You have to wonder if Nadal, despite his clay-drenched heart, will feel as obliged to defend his domain, now that he's so successfully expanded his range beyond it. Nadal is untouchable on clay, which is great reason for him to concentrate on the series of tournaments leading to Roland Garros. But his tendinitis of the knee, and his outspoken criticism of the spring workload he's faced these past few years, makes me think he might feel confident enough to cut back on his front-end work load. Just what he does may be determined by how he fares in Australia, on hard courts that suit his game.

Ironically, the emergence of Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Juan Martin del Potro may work to Nadal's long-term advantage. If more players take slices of the overall tournament pie, performance in the biggest events will assume greater importance. Playing fewer matches in the Spring would leave Nadal more fit for Wimbledon and the summer and better positioned to defend his no. 1 ranking - provided Federer, his main rival, isn't winning the events in which Nadal falters. Spreading the wealth will take the load off Nadal (and Federer's)shoulders, and perhaps make the battle for the top ranking less a question of who wins the most than of who wins the biggest events. That could inspire the top two players to surpass even themselves.

As for Federer, I think he's in great shape for the final stage of his career - a period during which he'll be free to focus on shattering Pete Sampras's all-time Grand Slam singles title record. Besides playing on a winning Davis Cup team (which is something within his grasp now, thanks to the maturation of Stan Wawrinka), it's the last mountain for him to climb. Because of the standard Federer set, it's tempting to pronounce his 2008 year a disappointment. On the contrary, I can think of a handful of ways in which this was a transition year for Federer, and getting to three Grand Slam finals (winning one) while feeling the tremors of change in the soles of his feet (and battling a subtle and insidious illness), isn't exactly caving in. Besides, he was within a few points of winning Wimbledon, and if he'd come through in that final against Nadal, what would we be saying about him now?

To my mind, the big issue here is the degree to which Federer can play like. . . Federer. . . even when he's not winning everything sight. This is a matter of confidence. Unlike some players, Federer did not have that surpassing confidence at the start of his career, which is why he was relatively slow out of the blocks as a Grand Slam champ. But once he dialed in his best game, he was unstoppable. Unless I'm mistaken, what he'll need to do in 2009 and beyond is bide his time and get beyond the point where his confidence is related to his week-to-week form. Oh, I have no doubt that he might be able to recapture his form of two, three years ago, and for extended periods. He's still young enough. But I don't know that he will or, more importantly, that he'll need to do that.

When you're Roger Federer, you have options. And now his main rival does too.


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Posted by Marian ( walks in boxers on the court) 11/17/2008 at 05:03 PM

Lol First and last?

Posted by first 11/17/2008 at 05:08 PM

first

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2008 at 05:10 PM

"I'm also planning to produce a special feature with Greg Sharko, the not-so-mad genius of the ATP Tour."

Pete,
Is there any way you can get Greg to have the ATP list each player records on each surface? When I hear ESPN2 say that Player A is 30-7 on clay in 2008, I want to be able to access it easily but when I go to the ATP website, I can not get that info.

I agree, Pete, that Roger has had a good year winning the United States Open(13th Slam), finals at French Open and Wimbledon, losing to Rafael who had a great year, and a semifinal at Australian Open,losing to Novak who won AO and Tennis Masters Cup.

Posted by SadSmiles 11/17/2008 at 05:16 PM

Pete - I am not sure what you mean by the following "As for Federer, I think he's in great shape for the final stage of his career - a period during which he'll be free to focus on shattering Pete Sampras's all-time Grand Slam singles title record."
What do you mean by final stage of his career ? How many years are you talking ? If Fed wins say 2 slams in 2009, will you say that 2010 as final - final stage of his career.

Posted by 11/17/2008 at 05:18 PM

OMG I'M SO FIRST!

Posted by beth 11/17/2008 at 05:23 PM

love the ice cream analogy , Pete
so true
I wish I had some tennis to watch today , as I am just sitting here shoveling my way through the mountain of laundry that has built up here .
BTW - my favorite is pralines and cream

Posted by Arun 11/17/2008 at 05:28 PM

"On the contrary, I can think of a handful of ways in which this was a transition year for Federer, and getting to three Grand Slam finals (winning one) while feeling the tremors of change in the soles of his feet (and battling a subtle and insidious illness), isn't exactly caving in."

As Christopher mentioned 2 days ago, though Fed was winning a lot in 2007 there were many 'shaky' victories. He responded emphatically in TMC'07, but due to the illness AND the emergence of the new players (plus, Nadal's improvement), I think Fed has been shaken off from his comfort level during this season. I strongly feel it will do him more good than bad (though it was disappointing to lose some biggies during this season, obviously). All these losses this season, would help him analyze and improve more on certain aspects of his (and his opponents') game, which he might have been stubborn not to do previously (because, he was winning the biggies anyway and was so far ahead on ranking points). Right now (and in the past 5 years), he's been improvising on-court. But, I strongly believe he can do it off-court too, once he feels it's necessary. Don't ask me why - but it looks like he's reached that breaking point 'now' - I think he seems more inclined to do that during this off-season in addition to his usual training.

Posted by Samantha Elin 11/17/2008 at 05:31 PM

Glad to see everyone is doing great. Cool, Ray doing a film. I'm just looking forward to the holidays and all the shopping I'm going to do. I think Roger is going to have a great year and will be a contender for all the slams including the FO. Serena, Venus and Sharapova will be the players top contenders for all the slams except the FO. I think Safina and Ana will have a good chance on the clay. Go Caroline, Scandinavia's #1!

Posted by Arun 11/17/2008 at 05:32 PM

To clarify, I didn't mean Fed was losing to many youngsters other than Rafa, Murray (coz, it seemed more like a mini-payback time for some of his old bunnies). I just meant that he seems to be realizing more about the threats these young cubs can pose!

Posted by Sam 11/17/2008 at 05:38 PM

Direct link to Pete's ESPN post:
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3708478&name=bodo_peter

Posted by Maha (All Hail The Mighty Federer) 11/17/2008 at 05:58 PM

OMG the first two things that came to my mind when I saw the top of this thread:

The first (and more Maha-ish):

OMG ROGER LOOKS ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooH. <3<3<3 *heart racing*

The second:

The two pictures couldn't be more different! Seriously! MAJOR contrast :D But an interesting one.

*still dazed by over-exposure to awesome Roger Federer pictures - was looking at some before on the photo wire*

Posted by Maedel 11/17/2008 at 05:58 PM

Pete,

Your essay is very thoughtful on many levels. Thanks for the post, which recognizes Rosangel's hard work and communicates your thoughts about the season ahead and how the Top Three might approach it.

I wonder, though, why, as you discuss the players who will challenge Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, you mention Del Potro rather than Simon--three times. (Well, the first time you mention Simo--with a qualifying *perhaps* in parentheses. I don't have any quibbles with the other two you name, Murray and Tsonga.) But according to today's ATP rankings, Simon is #7 and Del Potro, #9--and Simon did go further in last week's tournament, beating Federer along the way...Hmmmm?

Posted by Kenneth 11/17/2008 at 06:50 PM

Funny Pete, I thought from the title of this piece it would be all about the strange number of net-cords Davydenko hit on first serves in the final. My count was up to ten in the second set alone. Has to be a record.

Anyway, glad to see you've assembled your own line-up of winners; congratulations to your team.

Like you, I anticipate hard fought battles all next year. And Nadal's #1 ranking might be more secure than previously thought, especially if the hard court titles are more evenly split between those below him.

Here's to a 2009 that is as awesome as 2008 has been. Cheers!

Posted by tson 11/17/2008 at 06:50 PM


Normally i don't approve of Samantha Elin's worship of Henin

but i agree with her

Wozniacki of Denmark is the WTA future

along with Wozniack of Canada

plus another W: "Williams, Venus"

Posted by Syd 11/17/2008 at 06:51 PM

Pete,

Thanks for the red meat—delicious. Thanks also to Rosangel for her work in keeping the ship running. * tips hat to Rosangel. *

Not sure though that Nadal is going to be in a better position in 2009; he has loads of points to defend and how his knees hold up is going to be an important factor. There are any number of guys that on a good day are capable of taking him out on a hardcourt and not just the guys you mention, and I will be really surprised if he wins a major on that surface.

Totally agree that Federer is entering the last stages of his career. How long that period will last, is anyone's guess—I'm thinking three to four years tops. I would really like to see him go out on a high, i.e., after he surpasses Sampras—tennis gods willing.

Posted by tson 11/17/2008 at 07:03 PM

"Spreading the wealth" theme:

tournament titles will be more evenly distributed in 2009

no one will lionize the tournaments

tsonga, murray, simon, del potro will take their share.

this bodes well for Nadal to keep his lead in points in the Majors.

It's ironic that Fresh Talent will actually help Nadal

remain World Number 1 until August 2009.

Posted by rog 11/17/2008 at 07:07 PM

how do you people post first all the time do you sit and wait for a new blog to appear!! yeesh.. roger has always planned to retire in 2012 with a last olympics, so if everything goes as planned he will be 31?, and he has plenty of time to rack up the slams. Rog may not win 3 a year but i expect at least one a year, probably never the french as long as rafa is healthy. I think this is nadal's best year ever he is not a dynasty like federer and he will sputter out in the years to come. This was the best year rafa will ever experience. I can't wait for '09.

Posted by C Note 11/17/2008 at 07:17 PM

Great post, Pete!

Totally agree with you that at the end of the day, the TMC worked out fine and teed up 2009 nicely. Nole definitely needed this title and thankfully he got while showing the brilliance that we saw early in the year with his aggressive, scrambling tennis. It was really nice to see the kid smiling again.

In response to Maedel's point on Simon, I see Simon as a bracket buster but not so much a Grand Slam threat. He's going to continue to tag some major scalps and ruin a number of dreams, but I don't think the guy has the weapons to win a Slam. Delpo on the other hand is young and still growing into his game. And that guy has, in addition to an awesome unibrow, solid weapons.

I agree that Fed is transitioning into the final stage of his career, and I don't mean that as a knock on him. But as Christopher and Arun pointed out, Fed had been winning but it wasn't coming as easily as it was before. Even he has to realize that. I think his quotes from today, about wanting Wimbledon and Pete's record, speak to his own mindset about next year and the years ahead. I think the guy has at least 4 Slams left in him, but he's going to have to focus his energy on the Slams and less so on the rankings and points.

Lastly, nice point about other players' ability to take down Fed will only help Rafa. Didn't he say in a presser that this had to happen?

Posted by Tson 11/17/2008 at 07:17 PM


i agree Roger should give up obsession with the number-1 rank and focus on winning at least one Slam a year and his cherished Olympic gold in singles at London 2012. To stay healthy, he should chose events well and not over-exert himself and risk injury.

One more Slam title and he'll officially become "GOAT" -- even if he only ties Sampras' record, he'll already be GOAT no doubt.

Posted by lois 11/17/2008 at 07:25 PM

I have all the faith in the world that my 2 babies(Rafa and Roger)will come back with a real need to buck-up against any and all players and show just what they are made of. Not trying to take anything away from Djoke,but it seems to me when ever he has won either Roger was sick,hurt or tired and the same with Rafa.
I would like to see all of them in the same Mix(you know what I mean). However with Roger having 14 shields and 53 titles and Rafa with 12 shields and I think,35 titles. I must say Djoke has a long way too go(and Rafa is only 1 yr. older),that is when I will speak of his name in the same sentence with the 2 greats.
Stay Well and Safe Everyone!

Posted by rafadoc 11/17/2008 at 07:28 PM

Pete: Loved this post...well thought out and written...and I actually agree with most of it!

C Note: You read my mind...I swear Rafael recently said, basically, that he needed some of the other guys to beat Roger and that would help him.


Posted by Bismarck 11/17/2008 at 07:37 PM

Master Ace,
go to a player´s profile on the atp website.
then click on "career match record".
you´ll see a list of results on atp tour/slams, challengers and futures, each broken down to YTD and career for each surface (even indoor/outdoor, and titles on each surface).
for nole in 08 for example i see:
hard court 43-12
clay 16-3
carpet 0-0
grass 5-2

that´s what you were looking for, right?

Posted by Annabelle 11/17/2008 at 07:37 PM

Heya. Pete, thanks so much for your dedication and exceptional posts. Thanks Rosia, for your incredible involvement. Good on you.

Now did I miss the para an on Andy Roddick? :-) What a year for everyone.

fav icecream: Streets Old English Toffee. And chocolate and mocha gelati. Am in the States this week, so must try some Ben and Jerry's. I've heard so much about it. How exciting!

Posted by tarheelguy 11/17/2008 at 08:10 PM

That's a great article Pete.

The confidence issue is definitely REAL there and others are gaining in their respective confidence in relation to Federer.

Congrats to Novak Djokovic, and here are some moments that led to the loss of confidence for Federer and some interesting reads.

I disagree with tson about Fed being GOAT.

Here's why:

The whole season is "it is what it is." Federer is "really tied" with Djoker for #2 year-end and all the "ailments," that's part of growing up to be age 27. There has been a steady progression from Djoker and decline in Federer. Djokovic Mastered Fed at the beginning of 2008 and it was NO FLUKE, see

DJOKOVIC'S TRIUMPH - NOT AN UPSET...
-->http://www.thetennisphile.com/index.php?section=blog&articleID=40

And anybody who's been following tennis knows that Djoker is at least EVEN=Fed's EQUAL with Fed on HC and more than likely BETTER than Fed.

And too bad when it's all said and done, tennis insiders know that Federer's gaining of his "aura of confidence"-which has been destroyed starting with the loss to Rafa-was gained in a weak era of tennis, see

WIMBLEDON PERSPECTIVE ON GREATNESS
-->http://www.thetennisphile.com/index.php?section=blog&articleID=7

Tennis Insiders know that Fed's slams count and records are inflated so no matter if he surpasses Sampras' records, he still will NOT BE GOAT!

And as for Fed vs. Djoker, check this...

The beginning stages of the losing of the aura, after Canas and several other losses and transition of POWER.

Djokovic defeat Federer in 2007 Montreal Final
-->http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEJHyV4m9PM

Djokovic vs Federer Aus Open 2008
-->http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJAYNGiJnWY

Congrats Djokovic.

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2008 at 08:21 PM

Bismarck,
I meant to say it like this on player record. When ESPN2 have a list of what Players A thru E record is on a current surface, I want to see all players on the same sheet and not under their individual profile.

Posted by 11/17/2008 at 08:26 PM


Djokovic win at Melbourne 2008 was a fluke (cf. results vs Tsonga)

Djokovic quit at Monte Carlo "due to sore throat" while nearing defeat to Fed.

Is that the mark of a champion who's supposed to be better than Federer?

I dread the day Djokovic will be proclaimed GOAT instead of Federer.

Posted by Sam 11/17/2008 at 08:53 PM

I agree with Pete and C Note that Federer is transitioning to the final stage of his career. I think he’s at a similar point that Sampras was circa 1999 – past his best years but still an excellent player capable of winning/contending for Slam titles. And I expect his focus to become more Slam-centric.

Posted by gary 11/17/2008 at 09:11 PM

tis all in the eye of the beholder.

Posted by Sam 11/17/2008 at 09:25 PM

Pete: Looking forward to the "A Champion's Mind" book-group meeting and special feature with Greg Sharko.

Posted by Bang Bang 11/17/2008 at 09:36 PM

"Shot his wad" sounds pornographic to those who are ignorant of firearms.

Posted by VE 11/17/2008 at 10:02 PM

This is a weird stretch, the post-tennis year. I always look forward to the end of the season and am always starving for tennis by the time the Australian summer events start.

I think Pete's close to right about Nadal and Federer going forward.

Nadal, having won Wimbledon and playing better on the hardcourts than ever before, will not feel the need to play as much on clay. Monte Carlo, Barca, Rome, Hamburg, Paris is a murderer's row of a spring season. I think the one thing Pete left out is Nadal's hunger going forward. Rafa's long salivated over the Wimbledon trophy, it's the one he grew up wanting to bite. France was a natural conquest, victory almost preordained. The Olympics and Davis Cup have sated his will to win for his homeland and he's finally taken down the guy he's called ad nauseum the GOAT to win the no. 1 ranking. To me, it seems possible, if not likely, that Nadal will inch backward next year. Game aside, Nadal's a player of sheer, inimitable will. I don't know if he has the same will to win in Melbourne or New York having scaled the mountains he's scoped out for so long.

To me, 2008 said as much about Federer than Nadal. His reign has seemed bloodless; his strokes, performance art; his matches, coronations. From '03 - '07 watching Federer play anyone other than Nadal was frankly like watching the Harlem Globetrotters. This year, the guy showed some fight. He stumbled, his famous forehand went off-kilter, he got angry, he got beat. Suddenly, the guy was not only more likable as a player, but he was doing what makes tennis so compelling, he was looking for a way to win. Federer has gotten infinitely more interesting this year, call it mono, call it a bad back, call it a case of Rafaelitis, Federer has shown a propensity to work for it this year and I couldn't be happier. This will be the hallmark of his late career, much like it was Agassi's. Natural talent isn't going to get this guy four or five more slams. It will be his heretofore rarely seen grit, his mental game and his desire to work for it that does it...if anything.

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2008 at 10:06 PM

Congratulations to all the contributors along with Pete and Steve Tignor for making TennisWorld a place where people from all around the world come to discuss tennis and many other subjects. Personally, I would like to thank Rosangel for keeping Crisis Center on schedule along with her many contributions on Rafael Nadal, her knowledge on the ATP and completing her Rafa/Euro Calendar Slam, Ed for his Monday Net Post and work during the Olympic Games from Beijing, Andrew Burton for his astute analysis on the ATP especially on Roger Federer.

Posted by rafadoc 11/17/2008 at 10:34 PM

Well said Master Ace.

Posted by Azhdaja 11/17/2008 at 10:41 PM

Aahahaha...Bodo, I stopped reading your post after this:

"One thing is clear, though, Djokovic is likely to be a hard-pressed no. 3, with Murray, Tsonga and del Potro bearing down on him..."

lol

Djokovic is hard-pressed for his #3 position, and Roger is not for his #2 with his 10 ATP points higher than Djoker!!!

LOL Are you really saying that 10 ATP ranking points make such difference???

Are you really saying in the same colmund that 10 ATP ranking points make huge difference since you never mentioned that Roger's #2 position is hard-pressed by Djoker breathing his neck at a just 10 points away???

Can't stop laughing because it is not the first time You put things like this one.

P.S. BTW, I thought you said Del Potro is gonna win this one!! LOL
Advise, Mr. Bodo: pay attention to what you write, b/c someone might read it!!

Posted by Joseph Zohar 11/17/2008 at 10:42 PM

Hi Pete,

I believe that in 2009 Roger Federer will have to raise the level of his game to match Rafa Nadal (especially on clay at the French Open), as well as Djokovic, Murray, and other players. I believe that he CAN and SHOULD improve his backhand, serve, and footwork. The following is my assessment as to what he can do SPECIFICALLY to achieve the above.

BACKHAND: Footwork - step with the right foot toward the ball, not across the body. Take the ball as early as possible, preferrably inside the baseline (low contact point), rather than well behind the baseline (high contact point).
Stroke mechanics - step toward the ball, stay crouched with knees bent when hitting the ball (using leg extension, hip rotation, upper body rotation, and arm), rather than straightening up (using upper body and arm only).

SERVE: Stroke mechanics - watch a tape of Pete Sampras’ serve. ‘Freeze’ after ball toss, left arm pointing up. Pete’s right shoulder is almost directly under his left shoulder, which allows him to swing up-up-up, rotating his shoulders almost 180 degrees before hitting the ball. The upward swing produces enormous topspin as well as pace, resulting in a higher first serve percentage and an effective second serve.

FOOTWORK: In general - when executing footwork, RF needs to keep his knee and hip joints bent when hitting the ball, to be able to use his leg extension and hip rotation to produce topspin and hit with pace and control, especially on short balls which must be hit over the net and land inside the opponent’s court. RF sometimes straightens his legs before hitting the ball (which tends to flatten the flight of the ball).
Specific footwork - one of RF’s favorite shots is to ‘run-around-the-backhand’ to hit a forehand. On service returns, he skips sideways to his left, and hits an open-stance forehand. On slower balls hit to his left, RF turns to his right, takes several quick steps backwards, and hits a forehand. Problem - RF sometimes gets jammed when the ball comes at him fast, before he completes his footwork. Solution - change to a faster type of footwork, like a carioca/grapevine dance step, crossing the right foot behind the left leg, and stepping backwards with the left foot. Result - an open-stance forehand, quicker footwork, with the added advantage of being able to use hip rotation and leg extension for greater power and control.

Joseph Zohar
Physical therapist, USPTA certified
Irvine, California

Posted by Azhdaja 11/17/2008 at 11:04 PM

KING DJOKER!

Posted by Azhdaja 11/17/2008 at 11:04 PM

AJDE NOLE!

Posted by Azhdaja 11/17/2008 at 11:08 PM

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO IS GONNA WIN SHANGHAI 2008!!
P. Bodo, 5 days ago!

What a prediction!! As always.

Posted by Azhdaja 11/17/2008 at 11:11 PM

Roger's class? LOL...read here:

***Be quiet! OK!? (talking to the crowd!!).
And the God deleted the ball mark that was right on the line that was called "out" against his opponent???
IS that The Class?? GOAT? A shame of an athlete.

You be the judge:

"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpd23dTcT6c&feature=related"

Posted by Andrew Miller 11/17/2008 at 11:17 PM

I agree with everything Mr. Bodo wrote.

Interesting that Nadal could take some pressure off the rest of his season by putting the pressure on at the BEGINNING of the season: winning the Australian Open.

And if Nadal does pull off that feat in epic fashion, that may just set up Federer as an under-the-radar Roland Garros favorite (meaning he has a good chance to perform well at Roland Garros). I also think that Federer has refound some of his love of the fight, thanks, ironically, to losses to Nadal, Gilles Simon, and Andy Murray. Federer is a guy who absorbs a few punches and then takes over. Perhaps that is because his competition has caught up to him somewhat - but there is only one Federer. It may take him a little while, but he, as he showed with the US Open title, is up for the challenge.

That said: I think the Masters event was quite a signaling, and in Djokovic's winning it, showed that he is not down and out (a surprising performance from Davyedenko as well - for a member of the old guard, he seems to show no intent of spoiling his stature as one of the most consistent performers on the tour - even more so than Andy Roddick - I don't think that is a stretch to say at all. Davydenko just goes farther, more often, than almost ever other player outside of the top three of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic).

I think the other huge statement was how the work is cut out for the top players. It certainly is. Almost everyone playing breakthrough tennis up to the Masters Cup in Shanghai really brought out some excitement - Gilles Simon and Tsonga take center stage here with Juan Martin del Potro and company. Those performances did not look like flukes to me, though one never knows. Such is tennis.

Posted by Mrs Tennis 11/17/2008 at 11:46 PM

I believe that Rafa (and Tony) executed a brilliant campaign to get him to the number one ranking. He played the tournaments that mattered and that would strategically get him to the pinnacle of men's tennis and guarantee he ended the year there. His drive to get there was nothing short of phenomenal and perfectly characteristic of his competitive spirit we have come to know and (some of us) appreciate. After that, the brilliance of it shined through when he selectively stepped away from the tournaments that would cost him physically without bringing him gain.
Rafa has said that his focus is not on ranking points, but on titles. It's the titles that bring the ranking points that bring the desired ranking - in Rafa's case, it was number one.

I don't believe for one moment that Rafa and Toni made the moves they made this season (up to the very end) without keeping a close eye on Rafa's ranking points and the effect each tournament would have on them - what round he needed to get to, what points he needed to defend. I think the only tournament that slipped out of their control was Rome. Even they couldn't predict the blisters. I think they were wise to pull out of Paris, skip Shanghai and Davis Cup (though on some lofty level he wanted to play for his country) and head home to rest, repair and prepare for next season.

And don't think that they will not strategically plan just as brilliant a campaign to keep him at number one, healthy, and prospering in a long and productive career. I admire and applaud this focus. It speaks of a vision that transcends the banality of the sport and that showcases the unique combination of physical gift, strength of heart, and sheer hard work and discipline that describes Rafa.
He's a gift to tennis, to sports, and to the community that is the world. Appreciate him. This type doesn't appear often.

Posted by Syd 11/17/2008 at 11:46 PM

mmm, clearly I missed the point that more people winning on the hardcourts will help Nadal keep the #1 spot.

But "he might feel confident enough to cut back on his front-end work load. Just what he does may be determined by how he fares in Australia, on hard courts that suit his game."

I cannot imaging Nadal skipping a single one of his clay tournaments. That indeed would make things very interesting.

Posted by arbiter 11/17/2008 at 11:47 PM

Federer should play more serve-and-volley game. He plays it so well, and it saves his energy. If Djokovic had his net game, he would have been #1 already.
If Stepanek can have success with such a style of playing, Federer, with his athletic abilities (which are the best in tennis, by the way), could do much better. That is also his natural game, I think that he played that way at the beginning of his career.

Posted by Andrew 11/17/2008 at 11:52 PM

Evening, all.

Thanks for the kind words, Pete. Only a little cheese at my company, but it's kept me busy in the last few months (it's taken a lot of discipline to keep the live streams going during the biggest financial crisis in a century, but a boy's got to do...)

Azhdaja, old chap: rubbing out the mark signals that the ball was good, and the point should be replayed. It's a courtesy to the opponent, and the umpire (who doesn't have to get out of the chair).

The ATP is in a lovely spot right now, with outstanding players and fantastic matches being played at every tournament. The first set of Murray-Federer was as good as anything in the last two years, up there with Federer-Nadal Shanghai SF 2006.

This year saw three players at Shanghai who were there in 2006 (Federer, Davydenko and Roddick) with Nadal injured. For 2009, I'd expect to see Nadal and Federer, but Davydenko and Roddick are bubble candidates going forward. Turnover is the name of the game.

Sam and I may have to politely disagree on his 8:53pm...

Posted by Andrew 11/17/2008 at 11:56 PM

BTW, welcome, Joseph Zohar. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to instruct Mr Federer to bend his knees when he's hitting the ball, but you're clearly the chap to do it. :-)

Posted by Syd 11/17/2008 at 11:59 PM

Andrew: lol.

Posted by istase2000 11/18/2008 at 12:10 AM

VE, I think this was very well said. 2008 fed made me a fan. =)

"This year, the guy showed some fight. He stumbled, his famous forehand went off-kilter, he got angry, he got beat. Suddenly, the guy was not only more likable as a player, but he was doing what makes tennis so compelling, he was looking for a way to win. Federer has gotten infinitely more interesting this year, call it mono, call it a bad back, call it a case of Rafaelitis, Federer has shown a propensity to work for it this year and I couldn't be happier."

Posted by istase2000 11/18/2008 at 12:12 AM

Pete, your writing is so compelling and this was a great post. Thanks!

2009 should be an exciting and unpredictable year. I do hope Fed will bounce back with the almighty confidence once again.

Posted by rg.nadal 11/18/2008 at 12:19 AM

Congrats to Nole. Played unbelievable tennis in the final (especially in the first set).

Posted by Azhdaja 11/18/2008 at 12:21 AM

arbiter, Rog's net play is awful. Sometimes he looks funny. Murray made him stare at the net. m affraid it's too late for him to learn that.

Posted by rg.nadal 11/18/2008 at 12:54 AM

Hope Roger's back gets ok and so does Nadal's knee.
Frankly do not see players other than the top four winning a slam next year. Murray has an excellent chance to win a slam next year. The AO is his best chance. He can gain a lot of points there as he lost in R1 last year.

Posted by Sherlock 11/18/2008 at 01:03 AM

Azhdaja, does the number 13 mean anything to you?

When Djokovic gets 12 more slams, come back and talk to us.

Posted by jewell 11/18/2008 at 02:10 AM

I'll second (probably fifty-fifth by now) Master Ace.

Thanks, guys.

Posted by Lleytsie 11/18/2008 at 02:11 AM

jeez - i feel like an night owl

its 2.10 in Ann - and I read it in one go

LOVELY Pete - love the ending where you say, rodge needs to get past his confidence being influenced by week form -

cheers mate

Posted by tina 11/18/2008 at 02:23 AM

Big red carpet event tonight, and completely beat now.

Seems to me that nobody is proclaiming Djokovic the GOAT, but it seems clear Fed's opponents are no longer as intimidated as they once were. Fed will likely beat the Sampras record, but the competition is getting more fierce. And as for the vaunted "class" - call me cynical, call me Hollywood, but while I agree he's a nice person, I also think it's *partially* a carefully constructed persona, which elicits reverence even from other competitors who should still be gunning for him. Having grown up in the world of country club tennis, while knowing that my faves were not from this milieu, has always made me suspicious of the concept of "class" with regard to this sport.

Djokovic will eventually win another slam or a few. And will likely, eventually, be at the number 1 spot, no longer occupied by The World's Greatest Number Two anyway. But he isn't Federer, doesn't seem to want to be Federer, and is happy to be himself. He's not perfect, and thankfully doesn't pretend he is.

Nobody thought Roger Maris's home run record would be broken, either - and much as I really want Fed to take down the Sampras record, that's more about Sampras than it is about Federer.

Posted by C Note 11/18/2008 at 02:33 AM

Andrew @ 11:56 = Money.

Posted by Vincent (Nadal = Bolt = Phelps) 11/18/2008 at 06:33 AM

I disagree with Pete. With the emergence of Andy Murray, Nadal's chances at winning either the AO or the US Open have become infinitesimal. Nadal can't win against Tsonga, Djokovic, Murray, Federer, when they are at the top of their games, and the probability of him not encountering at least one of these players is quite slim. And that's assuming his knee tendonitis will have been healed.

Hopefully 2009 will end with a different number 1 that 2008.

Posted by sasha 11/18/2008 at 07:08 AM

Hopefully 2009 will end with a different number 1 that 2008"

Nadal all the way!

Nadal can't win against Tsonga, Djokovic, Murray, Federer, when they are at the top of their games"

We shall see!

Posted by sasha 11/18/2008 at 07:16 AM

Lovely post by Mrs Tennis @11.46pm
May Nadal's reign continue in 2009. He is indeed a deserving champion in every sense of the word.

Posted by naughty T, The Carnival is Over. 11/18/2008 at 07:37 AM

Azhdaja .. let me explain this slowly for someone that clearly knows not much about tennis. On a clay court it is customary to rub out the mark of the ball when conceding a point. Roger was being his normal gentlemanly self when interrupted by the ghastly djokerbaitches.
maybe you need learn a little more about tennis before you reveal just quite how dim you are.

Posted by Gabriela Valentina 11/18/2008 at 07:45 AM

Hard to find a crack in this analysis of the last year and what lies in store for us. I do wonder though why you seem to give a bit more credit to Delpo than to Simon. Both are worthy contenders. I wouldn't have favoured one over the other. is it a personal gut feeling sort of thing or was it based on something concrete?

Your post was almost elegaic . The tone was so much in the vein of "fare-thee-well till we all meet again beyond the horizon"...Aren't you going to be covering DC???

I certainly hope you will be! and I reiterate your thanks to the wonderful Rosangel!! ...and add my own to you for making this spot available to us. Thank you very much!

Posted by sasha 11/18/2008 at 08:12 AM

"Tuesday, 18th of November

Rafa Nadal is the third most popular athlete in the world wide web based on a report published by 'www.lalistawip.com'. A website that specializes in capturing and measuring all the information uploaded on the internet about famous personalities.

The Mallorcan No.1 tennis player in the world accumulated more than 28 million references yesterday and is only eclipsed by footballers, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Behind Rafa, the next Spaniard is Luis Aragonés, who is behind Ronaldhino and Maradonna. The president of FC Barcelona, Juan Laporta, is close behind in 10th position.

But who are the 100 people who generate more content?…Politicians, Barack Obama and Bush top the list with 200 million references and in case you’re wondering, Rafa appears in 21st position overall.

Reference: El Mundo Deportivo"

Posted by skip1515 11/18/2008 at 08:27 AM

A great wrap-up, Pete, and a lovely reminder of how deep the addiction runs: Yeah, the season's way too long, but what am I gonna do between now and January? Who said these guys could have any time off, anyway?

Two points, if I may...

1. Nadal's injury is as much a function of his style of play, and of how much tennis he's forced to play by winning so much, as it is the length of the season. By and large, tendonitis is an overuse injury, as opposed to traumatic injuries (a rolled ankle, or strained back). Lord knows I'm not blaming Nadal, just commenting on the consequences of style.

Now, it's not as if Uncle Toni or Nadal sat down when the kid was 9 and decided on his style of play. How one approaches match play in tennis about as organic a decision (or fate) as they come, Fischer changing Sampras' backhand notwithstanding. Nadal no more chooses to be so fiercely intense on every ball anymore than Connors did. It's in their DNA. But in Nadal's case it's had consequences that are exacerbated by the long season, but not created by them alone.

2. With Federer and Nadal we've witnessed something that I believe hasn't happened before, although Sharko or others might find me wrong with the stats. For 5 years we've counted on Federer, soon joined by Nadal, to make it to the finals of every tournament they've played, and in an incredible number of instances they've done so. Not since the Rod and Kenny Show have the finalists in any tournament been so predicatble, and I'm not sure their results were the equal of Federer and Nadal's, only seeming so at the time.

As a result, the leads they've maintained over the "lesser" players have been ginormous (long "i", pls). Like you, I won't be surprised if this trend ends in the coming year, with more jockeying of players at the top. It will be more a return to the historical norm, though, which should make us all more appreciative of what we've enjoyed.

Posted by Raven 11/18/2008 at 09:21 AM

I have to disagree about Nadal and the surface speeds. The grass has been slowed down so that it is not the opposite end of the spectrum from the clay. That slowness is in fact what allowed Nadal to perform as well as he did. Hardcourts and particularly carpet are the fastest surface now.

Posted by Syd 11/18/2008 at 10:17 AM

Skip:

Thanks. Well done and well said on both pionts, and perhaps you're right. About the mixup we might be seeing at the top next year—It sure feels like it. All the harbingers seem to be in place. But I'm still hoping that the great one is going to surprise us–and by "the great one" I mean Federer, of course.

Posted by Syd 11/18/2008 at 10:18 AM

Raven: I second your point, thanks for making it.

Posted by nimportequoi 11/18/2008 at 10:19 AM

Normally, I'm a lurker but since I read your blog everyday I owe you a big thanks for a fantastic year of tennis writing. No year end championships for writing, but I always get the sense the blog does justice so well to the players, to the plots, to tennis history, to the enthusiasm of fans that it has at least accumulated untold heaps of those intangible ranking points that keep a reader checking back a couple times a day. Thank you thank you.

What I am doing? Writing a term paper about Deleuze & Mallarme in Berkeley, CA & heading back home to Bradenton, FL for Christmas in a month. Despite growing up there I have never seen a tennis player!

Posted by SwissMaestro 11/18/2008 at 10:26 AM

on Nadal: "he now has both ends of the surface-speed spectrum covered" WHAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!?! really really doubt it as the grass at Wimbledon is as slow as ever it has ever been... To me this causes the most important tournament in the world to loose its identity big time... but hey! the slower the surface the longer the rallies and the more the spectators get in return for their money, right? Rubbish!

Posted by Joseph Zohar 11/18/2008 at 10:38 AM

Andrew @11:56PM - Thank you for the welcome. Rather than 'CHUTZPAH' (which I can spell in Hebrew, having been born in Israel), it is simple common sense and telling the great Roger Federer what I see, that prompted me to spell out what I believe he needs to do to improve his backhand, serve, and footwork (my post @10:42PM).

Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that Roger Federer will ever read my suggestions, unless Peter Bodo e-mails them to him. Hopefully RF will raise the level of his game in 2009, perhaps following in-depth consultations with Mirka in Dubai - Barack Obama style.

Joe

Posted by Gynormous 11/18/2008 at 10:38 AM

"I also believe that there are personalities in the men's game, much more than in the women's. We must capitalize on this as we can bring more fans to the game," said McEnroe.

Wow! What a diss to the 0+ on the tour.

Posted by Pete 11/18/2008 at 10:39 AM

Grass is slower than it once was; it is not a slow surface, though, and cement in general is far slower than it used to be. And just to clarify, I never called del Potro to win Shanghai, I just said watch out for him. I rarely make predictions. Anyway, keep the discussion going here - I'll be back later in the day (after shooting another round of videos. . . arrrgh)

Posted by Kate 11/18/2008 at 10:59 AM

Poor Pete, such a life hah! Well the season has finally come to a close and like everyone else is thinking "where is the tennis?" We as fans would like it all year round (where is the tennis channel when you need it?) tournaments but of course that is not possible and whilst bemoaning the fact that the season is far too long, it will soon be time for exhibition matches, Doha and the Australian Open once again.

I for one will ponder over the great matches, tennis of 2008 and hope that we may have much of the same in 2009.

Posted by bolofan 11/18/2008 at 11:11 AM

the only question for 2009 is if Nole
is going to give us more of that
unbeatable tennis. If so everything
is clear. Go Nole....

Posted by sic (Rafa Nadal, 2008 Year End #1) 11/18/2008 at 11:25 AM

Great analysis, in fact I wrote something very similar over on the ESPN blogs a couple of days ago. As Pete says, I think the important thing is for Rafa to keep his stranglehold on the clay tournaments and at least make the F at Wimby again this year (if healthy, I can't imagine anyone but Roger beating him over 5 sets on grass). With those points locked down, I suspect all he really needs to do is have strong showings on HC, just as he does every year. A couple of wins mixed in with a lot of SFs should be enough to keep his #1 spot. Why? Because it doesn't look like Roger is going to win everything else, like he has in years past. He'll win his fair share, but so will Murray, Djokovic and some of the other young guns.

I predict that Rafa will end 2009 with less total points than 2008 and still be #1 - Djokovic #2 (although I admit it's possible that Novak hits #1 if he defends the AO and wins the USO and TMC) and Murray #3.

Posted by Fim 11/18/2008 at 11:29 AM

Azhdaja rubbing out a mark is a signal to the umpire that the ball was good & telling his parents to "shut-up" or "be quiet" or whatever, is a public service.

As to the rest of your rantings, it is just that.

Posted by sic (Rafa Nadal, 2008 Year End #1) 11/18/2008 at 11:34 AM

Mrs Tennis @ 11:46 PM: very nice post. I agree that this season was adroitly navigated by Team Nadal, but I suspect that there was a lot of debate on which tournaments to cut short/skip. Rafa's major defect is that he is too game a rooster. I'm hoping that he manages to keep his match total in the low 80s this year without losing his top spot.

Posted by Pete 11/18/2008 at 11:47 AM

Let me get on the, Joseph, right away. Roger@GOAT.com. CC: Mirka@Wheresthering.net. . . ;-)

Posted by Well Left 11/18/2008 at 11:51 AM

Hey sic, you're apparently predicting a Federer o-fer for 2009?
Nice Wilanders, bro.

got any spare stash? I doubt it

Posted by alex 11/18/2008 at 12:04 PM

Nice article, Pete. But I see your sticking with the 'triumvirate', presumably resisting the term 'big four' as premature, and placing Murray at the head of the closing pack. Yes, there is an argument that you can't be 'big' until you've won a slam event, but there's a fair chance that, by a run to the semis in Oz and picking up a modest number of points over the clay court season, Murray could be #3 by Wimbledon. 2008 was also the year Fed's invincibility was shattered and, while I wish the best for him in 2009, he has 1000 points to defend at Wimbledon ...

Posted by elenas 11/18/2008 at 12:07 PM

Wow! what a year this has been! Roger losing number 1 rank, AO, Wimbledon, Justine retiring - No one would have predicted what happened this year. The year started very well for Nole. I thought he'd be number 2 midyear but Rafa had other plans. I hope Roger does better next year.

Murray has arrived as well, Tsonga, Simon, Delpotro.... its all too exciting
WTA was a bit dissapointing this year, hope next year is better.
Im hoping for someone to challenge Rafa on clay though...its way too easy for him right now

wonder what 2009 has instore for us :-)
I think Roger will do better, I wonder if Rafa will hold on to the rank, Will Murray and co really continue where they left off this year, what will happen in Wimbledon?


Posted by Arun 11/18/2008 at 12:12 PM

BCC: Luthi@canireallycoachroger.com

Posted by Well Left 11/18/2008 at 12:17 PM

*wipes Kool-Aid off lips with the back of his hand*
Fed's invincibility was shattered in 2008?
I'd say the ceiling above Nadal was shattered, now he and TMF are occupying the same rarified air. The closing pack entertains thoughts of taking them out 'the next time' while secretly hoping some other player gets the task/draw.
Says Djokovic, 'man, my throat hurts!'. If that happens in Oz, I would be supremely disappointed.

Posted by alex 11/18/2008 at 12:30 PM

It's going to be hard for Fed, at 28 next year, to find another gear, which he's going to have to do to stop the others passing him. Wimby marked the changing of the guard this year but, clay courts aside, I don't see Nadal ever being as dominant as Fed was. It's hard to seeing anyone enjoying Fed-like dominance in the foreseeable future, talented though so many of them are, which is what makes things so exciting.

Posted by jb (i miss my keyboard) 11/18/2008 at 12:36 PM

Great post Pete. SEE - TMC wasn't useless, no? We weren't crazy to be all sorts of caught up in it! (well, ok, maybe we were, but that's just business as usual, no? :) )

I think next year is going to be incredible. Lots of drama. lots of points for Rafa to defend. Lots of things for Nole to prove. Lots for Fed to aim for. All the while with Murray steadily improving. For my money - he's next year's spoiler, big time in a big way. We'll be talking about the Big Four in no at'all imo!

Posted by Well Left 11/18/2008 at 12:49 PM

I'll be rooting for the snaggle-toothed Andy to be a spoiler.
He's got the goods.

Posted by Caroline 11/18/2008 at 12:50 PM

Does anyone know what the rules are regarding ATP 500 tournament participation? The original ATP press releases said that there was a 'commitment' from the top players to play four, but I'm not sure that any of them have until now.

There's been a lot of speculation (and comments from Tony Godsick) about Roger's schedule next year and from the chat on rf.com he seems to have excluded all the clay tournaments except the mandatory Masters (Rome and Madrid) and Roland Garros. Even Monte Carlo looks as if it's being dumped. Also, Roger doesn't seem to have four 500s - only Dubai and Basel.

Posted by sic (Rafa Nadal, 2008 Year End #1) 11/18/2008 at 01:30 PM

Well left,

I think that Roger has a shot at winning the USO again or possibly Wimbledon, but I doubt that he will win multiple slams ever again. Too much competition and he doesn't appear to have the motivation to put himself through the wringer to get back to Roger 2007. Djokovic and Murray are 21 year old forces and Nadal is already one of the all-time greats and is still only 22! If Roger ends up #1 or even #2 in 2009 it will be an amazing feat, but I just don't see him having the necessary desire to put together that kind of season. I suspect he's going to start picking his spots more and not try to win every single tournament.

Posted by BabyRafa 11/18/2008 at 02:18 PM

Did anyone read this...
http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5j6ijPsBELE9xUVqsTQrPSI4A4EhA
A petition was put forward to delay davis cup for rafa to recover

Posted by BabyRafa 11/18/2008 at 02:24 PM

Why is the grass slower now...Had it not been for the past 5 years when fed was winning!!

Posted by 11/18/2008 at 02:28 PM

naughty T's 7:37 am is nastier than I expect from TW

Posted by Libby 11/18/2008 at 02:35 PM

"El Jon is deep into his book on Roger Federer"

I am SO EXCITED about this. I can hardly wait.

Posted by jb (i miss my keyboard) 11/18/2008 at 02:39 PM

oddly enough anon at 2:28 - i thought naughty t's comment at 7:37 was more restrained than the post he was responding to deserved....

*shrugs*

Posted by ball 11/18/2008 at 02:47 PM

lois...Not trying to take anything away from Djoke,but it seems to me when ever he has won either Roger was sick,hurt or tired and the same with Rafa.

you are obviously not familiar with tennis, what a patetic excuse for djokovic achievements..

Posted by Syd 11/18/2008 at 04:09 PM

Not sure what Master Ace means when he says Roger will have to learn patience; it has often seemed to me that Roger plays with his food in a straight up and down manner, extending points instead of ending them. Perhaps that changed this year and he was trying to end them a bit earlier. I think it's going to come down to his serve though. If his world beater serve is on, he's going to have a good year. That wasn't always the case in 2008, and sometimes it let him down when it mattered most—especially against Murray in Madrid.

Posted by Syd 11/18/2008 at 04:10 PM

Babyrafa; there you go again, asking the awkward questions. :)

Posted by Justin 11/18/2008 at 05:01 PM

The only bad thing about the TMC was that because it was on Fox Sports Net, there were certain markets that couldn't watch it at all on TV (like myself in Philadelphia!).

Posted by k 11/18/2008 at 05:04 PM

it's funny you can say "shoot his wad" but in all your other posts you say "hail" instead of "hell"

Posted by Master Ace 11/18/2008 at 05:19 PM

Syd,
Yes, you got it on the mark when you said that Roger tried to end the point quickly. Also, there were some shots that he thought he hit a winner until he realized the ball was coming back over the net and this caused him to miss some easy shots.

Posted by Frank 11/18/2008 at 06:05 PM

Naughty T,

having read many of your posts recently, no matter the subject or player, I have just one question:

Bitter much?

Posted by moxie 11/18/2008 at 06:06 PM

When you're Roger Federer, you have options. And now his main rival does too.
----------

And so finally do tennis fans who have been bored stiff and put off by Federer's boring domination for the past four years. We can finally get back to watching some great tennis by many players, not just one, and being fans of the sport of tennis, not just fanboys of the so-called mighty Fed.

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