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Your Call, 2.10 02/10/2009 - 1:17 PM

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by Pete Bodo

Hey, how about that call on the USA squeezing out a Fed Cup win? You know, it was hardly on the media radar, and in the grand scheme of tennis things, it probably isn't destined to be what they call a "historic moment" when compared to, oh, Spain's upset of Argentina in the 2008 Davis Cup final, but I guarantee you this: these American girls who turned back Argentina over the weekend are ecstatic, and none more so than Melanie Oudin. After all, she provided WTA staple Gisela Dulko with some pretty firm opposition in the first match, only to lose. Then, in her second match, she endured a 2-6 nightmare of an opening set only to claw her way back into the match and win in three. The comeback win ensured that the tie would go the distance, decided by the final match - the doubles.

Pause a moment to appreciate this: Jill Craybas got the USA off to a good start by hammering Jozami, two-and-one. Oudin then had to play Dulko, with pretty much nothing to lose. Dulko is no. 44 in the world; Oudin no 147. Dulko was playing an underdog to try to keep Argentina's chances alive in the tie, while Oudin could swing from the heels, knowing the USA had a match in hand. If it was a high-stress situation, but only for Dulko. But within 24 hours, it was a different story indeed.

Dulko handled Craybas with ease in the third singles of the tie, so Oudin had to meet Jozami with the US on the brink of elimination. Okay, on paper Jozami had to be the nominal favorite; after all, at no. 134, she was ranked 13 places above Oudin. But the reality on the ground was that Oudin was looking at a winnable match, against an equal, with her team's survival on the line.

The funny thing about "pressure" is that it's something felt equally by all players. The degree of pressure that a David Nalbandian faces upon meeting a Fernando Verdasco, or Nikolay Davydenko encounters when he squares off against James Blake, is no different in intensity or substance than what Oudin must have felt before playing Jozami. You don't feel less or more pressure depending on your status, unless it's notably higher or lower than that of your opponent, or some extraneous factor comes into play. And let's face it, one of the reasons top players are ranked where they are is because of their superior ability to handle pressure - not because there is any more or less of it. Pressure is all about the conditions, and the degree of pressure is created by a potentially volatile mixture of temperament, the match-up, and whatever vibe is in play - in this case, the whole cluster of issues that arise from an international, team competition.

And on that playing field, it's pretty easy to forget that when it comes to any competitive athlete, there's a point where it doesn't matter who is - or isn't - watching. It isn't about the hype, and it isn't about the press. It isn't about the endorsements, and it's not about size of the trophy. It's about you, the team, (vaguely) the nation you represent and, in a small way, about the record books. You go into the books as someone who pulled your team and nation through a tough but winnable tie, and it's. . . sweet. Oh, so sweet! And at some level that we fans and pundits easily ignore because we're so focused on Roger and Wimbledon, Serena and the Masters Series, Rafa and the Davis Cup final, this matters in a way we can understand, but rarely sit back and appreciate.

But this, in a nutshell, is also why people like Melanie Oudin (and Betina Jozami, for surely there will come a time when the shoe is on the other foot) continue to play this game, despite triple-digit rankings, and it's the moments like these when the differences between them and Serena and Ana and Maria are, well, irrelevant. The truth of the matter is that a Wimbledon final is played a few thousand times each year on the tour, on clay, indoors or out, by individuals destined never to decorate the cover of Tennis magazine. Every once in a while, conditions congeal to create a special moment of importance - a break from but also a payoff for all those hours of frustration, tedium, matches whose significance, win or lose, is pretty hard for anyone - including the person experiencing it - to fathom.

But there's also this: Players exist to be found by moments like the one that located Oudin on Sunday, and such moments will enable them to look back on their careers one day and allow them to feel satisfied, to say something like: Yeah, it was tough, I always felt the blow of a setback like a slap in the face, and I know the sting of defeat. But it was worth every hour and ounce of effort I put into it.

So let's share Melanie's moment here, and also acknowledge first-time Fed Cupper, Julie Ditty, who joined with reliable Liezel Huber to clinch the match with a fine performance against Dulko and Jozami in the doubles. Happy 30th birthday, Julie! Here's to hoping it was, indeed, worth the wait.

Any further questions on this, just address them to the ultimate Fed Cup warrior, Flavia Pennetta. But she's a story for a different time. Enjoy the tennis, everyone. I am working on a red-meat coaching post, which I may or may not get done today. Stay tuned, enjoy the tennis and leave your always insightful comments below.


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Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/10/2009 at 01:27 PM

Hey Pete and everyone.

I am really looking forward to the coaching post. :)

Posted by Sher (On TypePad no one can hear you scream) 02/10/2009 at 01:27 PM

[You go into the books as someone who pulled your team and nation through a tough but winnable tie, and it's. . . sweet. Oh, so sweet!]

[The truth of the matter is that a Wimbledon final is played a few thousand times each year on the tour, on clay, indoors or out, by individuals destined never to decorate the cover of Tennis magazine. ]

Exactly! Thanks for this Pete.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/10/2009 at 01:28 PM

oh God, that was not at all insightful.

Posted by Master Ace 02/10/2009 at 01:29 PM

Paris Order of Play for Wednesday:

http://tinyurl.com/clvtqt

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/10/2009 at 01:29 PM

I meant my comment, in case that wasn't obvious.

Posted by Syd 02/10/2009 at 01:31 PM

Thanks Pete, for acknowledging the rank and file.

Posted by gauloises 02/10/2009 at 01:34 PM

jewell - now you know how I feel every time I'm accidentally first :)

Posted by avid sports fan aka *back at work* 02/10/2009 at 01:35 PM

Hey Pete, Thanks for this post on the "lower" players we all seem to forget about. I can never forget the one on Bethanie Mattek after her USO loss. These players also give their all even if they never get to where the top players get to.

I was particularly impressed with Melanie for being able to pull off that win in in a "must win" situation after dropping the first set and despite the rain delay. Also kudos to Liezel and Julie for puling off the doubles win to clinch the tie.

Posted by sblily (Gil Reyes KAD) 02/10/2009 at 01:37 PM

Woohoo! Ferru won. All's right in my (tennis) world for today.

And it looks like Grigor "Is he legal yet?" Dmitrov also got a good win over "HE WAS WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS" Berdych. Has Berdych won a match since the AO?

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/10/2009 at 01:38 PM

LOL, G, I did anyway, but I think I'll just drape a towel over my head and pretend the world isn't there for a few minutes. I hate being first. ;)

ooh - avid, I remember that post as well! Funny how some stick in your head. I felt so sad for her.

Posted by avid sports fan aka *back at work* 02/10/2009 at 01:40 PM

Master Ace - Thanks for the Paris OOP.

Posted by Sher (On TypePad no one can hear you scream) 02/10/2009 at 01:40 PM

jewell, it was too insightful. i am also looking forward to the coaching post. it's like you saw inside my mind. :P

Posted by gauloises 02/10/2009 at 01:41 PM

avid and jewell - I think about that Matthek post all the time. I don't know why, but it kind of haunts me. Glad I'm not the only one.

Posted by Sher (On TypePad no one can hear you scream) 02/10/2009 at 01:41 PM

sblily, Berdy was a little injured in AO, it didn't help to play five sets probably...

Posted by Master Ace 02/10/2009 at 01:42 PM

Avid Sports Fan,
Kvitova lost to Karolina "Ted Watts score keeping" Sprem. Indeed, the US win Sunday was a good one for the team with them missing their top 4 players and Fed Cup QF hero a year ago(Serena, Venus, Lindsay, Bethanie, Ashley)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/10/2009 at 01:42 PM

Haunting is exactly the word, gauloises.

Posted by sblily (Gil Reyes KAD) 02/10/2009 at 01:43 PM

Sher - Berdy had an injury? Other than the one between his ears? Hmmm, didn't know that.

Posted by greenhopper 02/10/2009 at 01:45 PM

Didn't Roger come back from a 5-1 deficit or something to beat Denis Gremelmayr last year?
The dude is losing badly to Roko now.

Posted by avid sports fan aka *back at work* 02/10/2009 at 01:45 PM

jewell and gauloises - I'm happy I'm not alone on that piece!

Master Ace - Yeah I was surprised that Kvitova lost to Sprem. I mentioned it in the other post. I guess consistency is what the young players have to work on and true about team USA pulling off the win without their top four players.

Posted by avid sports fan aka *back at work* 02/10/2009 at 01:47 PM

greenhopper - Hope you enjoyed SAP open yesterday. Did they give any reason why my "take home" man did not play Pete S?

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 01:49 PM

greenhopper: he lost a set to him on clay in Estoril (and Djokovic lost a set to him in 1R at Roland Garros), but you're thinking of Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo, he of the one rolled up sleeve.


Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/10/2009 at 01:49 PM

avid - are you feeling better?

I'm also glad *I'm* not the only one who remembers that post. :)

Posted by greenhopper 02/10/2009 at 01:49 PM

avid - yeah, so much fun.
I posted a bit about Blake here: http://tinyurl.com/azsg93

Posted by greenhopper 02/10/2009 at 01:50 PM

oh ok. Thanks for that, crazyone.

Posted by avid sports fan aka Sigh-Rena *back at work* 02/10/2009 at 01:50 PM

jewell - yes I am thank you. But I am still getting occasional pains. I don't know if it's because of the stitches.

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 01:52 PM

*And it looks like Grigor "Is he legal yet?" Dmitrov also got a good win over "HE WAS WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS" Berdych. Has Berdych won a match since the AO?*

Sblily, I still laugh when I think of that line of JJ's. Poor Tomas.


Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/10/2009 at 01:52 PM

I just flove that name - Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo. Mmm.

avid - *glad*

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 01:52 PM

For some reason my Rotterdam stream stopped working and can't connect to the media anymore.


Posted by avid sports fan aka Sigh-Rena *back at work* 02/10/2009 at 01:55 PM

greenhopper - Thanks. Oh no my "take home" man *sigh*. I hope he gets better before his singles match *sigh*

Tennis Fan - I just saw your response about the WTA spreadsheet. Thanks. You could also just give us a summary of what you have from time to time. That will do.

Posted by neil in toronto 02/10/2009 at 01:57 PM

c1, i've had that problem with the stream since yesterday, i've officially given up on Rotterdam watching-wise.

Posted by Sher 02/10/2009 at 02:01 PM

sblily he took an injury timeout sometime in the 4th or 5th set in the match vs Fed and had his thigh taped.

Posted by Sher 02/10/2009 at 02:02 PM

>I still laugh when I think of that line of JJ's. Poor Tomas.

what's this? :)

Posted by gauloises 02/10/2009 at 02:03 PM

Dani H now ranked 35? Ouch.

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 02:04 PM

Sher, during the match, JJ was providing a running commentary on Berdych. During the first two sets he thought that Berdych had finally turned the corner on all his headcase issues and was ready to fully utilize his rather significant talent, but yeah, as the match turned in Federer's favor it became clear that no such event had occurred. So when the match was over, JJ wrote that we could now say:

"HE IS WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS!! HE IS WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS!!"

Posted by gauloises 02/10/2009 at 02:05 PM

My bad, 39. Plus de ouch.

Posted by Stella 02/10/2009 at 02:07 PM

I'm also having problems with the stream it says connecting to data and then it turns green and messes up my computer.

Posted by Sher 02/10/2009 at 02:09 PM

crazyone,

First: LOL!

Second: oh I thought you meant Jelena J!

Posted by Mrs Tennis 02/10/2009 at 02:09 PM

Two thoughts on five setters:
1. I do enjoy them. I like to be able to sink my teeth into a match and sit back and watch the play. Best of three just wets my appetite. Fivers bring out the potential and the possibilities of players recovering, players rebounding, players playing, players being forced to pull from deep within - especially if the matches go five sets. The main thought is I believe that for the future generation of tennis players, some of the matches other than the majors should be required fivers so that the young ones coming up who may not get into main draws will know how to play them, how to train for them, how to persevere through them.
2. On the other hand, the toll fivers can potentially take on players may just warrant the justification for restricting them to four times a year.
But as one of my favorite commentators puts it, when we get a good one - "My oh my!"

Posted by sblily (Gil Reyes KAD) 02/10/2009 at 02:11 PM

Sher - Thanks for the reminder. I missed that injury -- I'd probably already rolled my eyes and turned away from the match in disgust by then. :)

Avid - LMAO at "take home man."

Vie - Thanks for Rafa vids you posted on the previous thread (esp. the dandelion wish clip).

*joins crazyone in laughing hysterically at "HE IS . . . " God bless Dennis Green for giving us what has turned out to be one of the greatest phrases in sports history.

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 02:12 PM

the stream is working for me now.


Posted by avid sports fan aka Sigh-Rena *back at work* 02/10/2009 at 02:14 PM

sblily - LOL!

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 02:14 PM

ivan's defense on that point was outstanding. I was sure that was going to be a winner by Murray.


Posted by Pspace 02/10/2009 at 02:16 PM

Stream for Rotterdam, please. Does it work on non-Windows systems (Linux)?

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 02:18 PM

*Does it work on non-Windows systems (Linux)?*

No idea, but it's good to see you're not hiding it anymore.

http://www.abnamrowtt.nl/cctv/

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 02:21 PM

BTW, I was glad to see that Andy's take on the final and how well Rafa and Roger played in it was the same as mine...


Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 02:22 PM

Murray breaks aided by two DFs by Ljubicic.


Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/10/2009 at 02:24 PM

crazyone - what did MAndy say?

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 02:25 PM

jewell, I think it's in Sher's post in the last YC thread...


Posted by Pspace 02/10/2009 at 02:25 PM

c1, Nope it needs Windows Media Player :-(. What did the Muzzinator say?

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 02:27 PM

jewell and Pspace:

http://tinyurl.com/bzfnd4

*The Scot said: "I thought the situation made it a great match but there were a lot of mistakes, especially in the fifth set.
"Federer didn't serve particularly well throughout the match and there were parts when Nadal looked tired and missed some shots he wouldn't normally miss but there were some incredible points.
"I thought if Nadal could win the first set it would mentally make a big difference. Because of it being Federer's possible 14th Grand Slam it was probably always going to go the wire."*


Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/10/2009 at 02:29 PM

thanks crazyone. :)

I'd kind of go with that as well, adding feverish and unfounded speculations as to the whys and wherefores, of course. :)

Posted by Pspace 02/10/2009 at 02:31 PM

c1, thanks. His analysis is always good.

Posted by Sandra 02/10/2009 at 02:31 PM

I have to say I'm reallly disappointed that the Tennis Channel isn't carrying any of the 3 tournies being played. I know they will show the semi's and finals of the WTA tourney this weekend, but still. I guess they have to spend so much of their resources now to carry the big events that they don't have the money to pay for these smaller tournaments. Hopefully once they start making more money, they will get back to televising these smaller tournies along with the biggies. It's just not the same trying to watch a match on an internet "thumbnail" - you lose too much of the details to really feel like you "saw" the match.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/10/2009 at 02:31 PM

There's an awful lot of spin in that headline, too, not really borne out by the article itself, imo.

Posted by Pspace 02/10/2009 at 02:33 PM

T""There's an awful lot of spin...""

It's Rafa's world after all, no?

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 02:34 PM

jewell: yup, which is why I didn't mention it. That's not really what Murray said.


Posted by avid sports fan aka Sigh-Rena *back at work* 02/10/2009 at 02:34 PM

"There's an awful lot of spin in that headline, too, not really borne out by the article itself, imo."

jewell - spot on!

crazyone - Thanks for the article on MAndy's take on the AO final.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/10/2009 at 02:35 PM

"There's a blaze of spin in every shot..."

Lol, Pspace.

Posted by greenhopper 02/10/2009 at 02:36 PM

Just for you, avid.
http://i42.tinypic.com/f4hfmt.jpg

Posted by avid sports fan aka Sigh-Rena *back at work* 02/10/2009 at 02:38 PM

greenhopper - awh :) Thank you so much. I like it when he's all clean shaven though ;-)

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 02:39 PM

it was Sher who initially posted that article.


Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/10/2009 at 02:40 PM

in that case, thanks Sher, as well. :)

Posted by avid sports fan aka Sigh-Rena *back at work* 02/10/2009 at 02:41 PM

oh thanks Sher ;-)

Posted by Sandra 02/10/2009 at 02:41 PM

The author of that article uses a bit of hyperbole in the title, but the quotes from Murray were pretty close to the author's characterizations, I thought.

Posted by ptenisnet 02/10/2009 at 02:42 PM

The hawkeye replay is a lot quicker in Rotterdam than it is at the slams.

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 02:44 PM

Sandra: I don't think so, in the quotes Murray acknowledges a possibility, while the headline says that Murray thinks that that event is *probable*. Not the same thing.

Ljubicic is really getting owned here.


Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 02/10/2009 at 02:46 PM

*off to cook etc*

see you all later. :)

Posted by Pspace 02/10/2009 at 02:48 PM

""The hawkeye replay is a lot quicker in Rotterdam than it is at the slams.""

Less pressure?

Posted by sic (Roland Garros, Wimbledon and AO) 02/10/2009 at 02:50 PM

Funny little video about Nadal's righthandedness.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nge5tuWnMk4

Posted by Pspace 02/10/2009 at 02:52 PM

Simon and Dima played dubs? Now, there's a hoot. Bet it was pretty entertaining.

Posted by ptenisnet 02/10/2009 at 02:52 PM

Jeez Mandy.
Not that I am unhappy about Ljuby not eating a bagel.

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 02:52 PM

wow, that ended up being a TERRIBLE game by Murray. DFing all over the place, on match point and break point.


Posted by Ruth 02/10/2009 at 02:53 PM

"I have to say I'm reallly disappointed that the Tennis Channel isn't carrying any of the 3 tournies being played."

I agree, Sandra. Instead, they were showing Davenport/JJ in Dubai 2005 the last time I looked in. And to think that, years ago, I actually thought that TC would be the vehicle whereby we'd see many of the smaller tourneys that the "big networks" didn't care to carry. Things change, I guess.

Posted by Pspace 02/10/2009 at 02:54 PM

c1, I think he felt sorry for Jubby :-). Why wouldya wanna bagel that guy?

Posted by avid sports fan aka Sigh-Rena *back at work* 02/10/2009 at 02:54 PM

MAndy does not want to embarass Ivan ;-)

Posted by Bismarck 02/10/2009 at 02:55 PM

errh ... birdy?????????
losing to 17 year-old baby baby federer (square-baby federer?) is just ghastly.
and you, grigor, grisha, baby baby federer, are on my hateration list already. may your career be as successful compared to baby federer´s as baby federer´s is compared to (original) federer´s.

congrats to Boduor and Arun though. jajaja.

thumbs up to ferru and muzz (yeah not over yet, but really ... any doubt?).
and to JJ. those statements are the first useful thing she has done in 2009. bit pitiful that her tennis is crap so far, but at least off the court her form is decent, no?

have to run now. i´ve been late the whole day and it´s kinda piling up the longer the day goes. why did i even write this post? i should have been out of my flat like 30 minutes ago... ´later.

Posted by neil in toronto 02/10/2009 at 02:55 PM

hmmm seems Ivan saw his favourite movie last night " No Carbo's for Old Ljuby"

Posted by sblily (Gil Reyes KAD) 02/10/2009 at 02:58 PM

sic - Thanks for video link. Love it! LOL at the look Rafa shot Uncle Toni after throwing the dart with his left hand.

Posted by Pspace 02/10/2009 at 02:58 PM

Btw, all the guys here might wanna check out C Note's blog. Some picks from the SI swimsuit edition with Hantuchova, Golovin, and MaKiri. Yowza! Smokin'

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 02:59 PM

*errh ... birdy?????????
losing to 17 year-old baby baby federer (square-baby federer?) is just ghastly.
and you, grigor, grisha, baby baby federer, are on my hateration list already. may your career be as successful compared to baby federer´s as baby federer´s is compared to (original) federer´s.*

As usual, I find your hateration hilarious. I hope Grigor Dimitrov does have some success so we can hear more such comments ;-)


Posted by Stella 02/10/2009 at 03:01 PM

MAndy won, seems that I didn't miss much. It was a DF party they both serve horrible, 50% really MAndy that is just awful.

Posted by Pspace 02/10/2009 at 03:04 PM

crap...Damn you Bird...now Rafa gets two one-handers in a row? Whatevs.

Posted by avid sports fan aka Sigh-Rena *back at work* 02/10/2009 at 03:13 PM

"now Rafa gets two one-handers in a row? Whatevs. "

Pspace - One match at a time no? ;-)

Posted by avid sports fan aka Sigh-Rena *back at work* 02/10/2009 at 03:13 PM

Nice win for Dani 2 and 2.

Posted by Sher (On TypePad no one can hear you scream) 02/10/2009 at 03:17 PM

Pspace,

Just remember, Rafa indicated he may not go to Dubai if he does well in Rotterdam so VAMOS RAFA! ;-)

Posted by Pspace 02/10/2009 at 03:20 PM

Sher, yes, I know! I want him in Dubai....one guy gets a cupcake to F if he doesn't come. Besides, if you're worried about a Fed matchup, he has to get by SF first.

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 03:21 PM

ehhh Sher. There's still Murray at Dubai, and I think I want Federer to play Rafa a few more times in small tourneys off clay, try out a few things, get used to being the underdog, perhaps get a win or two.

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 03:26 PM

the Grem beat Roko.


Posted by Sher (On TypePad no one can hear you scream) 02/10/2009 at 03:26 PM

>Sher, yes, I know! I want him in Dubai....one guy gets a cupcake to F if he doesn't come. Besides, if you're worried about a Fed matchup, he has to get by SF first.

Eh?

I just want Federer to win Dubai, then he and Rafa can duke it out in the HC masters.

crazyone, I think the above sentence also answers your comment :) Plus, so not concerned about Murray.... :)

Posted by Arun 02/10/2009 at 03:27 PM

"may your career be as successful compared to baby federer´s as baby federer´s is compared to (original) federer´s."

Bissy: That was pretty mean even though I know what your favorite playing style is.. But, what C1 said re your hateration list! :)

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 03:32 PM

I'd definitely trade Dubai for a masters, especially a clay one.

C'mon Fed, win Rome :)


Posted by Sher (On TypePad no one can hear you scream) 02/10/2009 at 03:32 PM

crazyone,

Basically, I will start to worry about Murray if and when Federer is playing him in slams. I know how dangerous Andy is, but I just don't get as worked up about any potential loses Roger may suffer to him outside of slams.

Whereas it would be rough to have a Federer/Nadal final AGAIN immediately after Dubai. I'd rather Roger won that and went on to DC with a little less pressure, then come what may once the American swing starts.

So Vamos Rafa! Hope he wins in Rotterdam and focuses on DC which is one of his goals for this year anyhow rather than going to Fed's camping ground in Dubai.

As for the other finalist in dubai being a shoe in, even Fed is not a shoe in for the final. Are Roddick, Murray and Djokovic playing for sure?

/ fannish ramble

Posted by Pspace 02/10/2009 at 03:33 PM

Arun, What is Bissy's favorite playing style? Nole and Marin? I didn't know his hateration had anything to do with the style of play. If so, he is the first person I know of who hates one-handers across the board. Steffi too?

Posted by Sher (On TypePad no one can hear you scream) 02/10/2009 at 03:34 PM

* immediately after Melbourne.

And I don't see it as inevitable that winning Dubai means he won't win others. In fact, as other people never tire of saying, confidence is everything in tennis. If you are winning in one place you are more likely to be winning in another place. I don't see how a few smaller titles could hurt going into MSes, especially since they'll be prove to him he's doing better than last year already.

Posted by greenhopper 02/10/2009 at 03:35 PM

Mathieu is serving at 17%, but throws an ace down to save the last break point. But Gasquet breaks anyway.

Posted by Sher (On TypePad no one can hear you scream) 02/10/2009 at 03:35 PM

But I enjoy haggling over unwon tennis tournaments however ;-)

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 03:37 PM

Sher: what I meant was, I think Murray is definitely a stumbling block for Federer *in* Dubai. His 3-set record over Federer is stellar, and I don't think that will change. So if you're worried about Nadal being there or not being there in terms of Fed winning the title, I'm saying there's still one huge opponent, if not others (Verdasco is also playing Dubai, along with Djokovic, Roddick, the Giant-Killer, and others).

I really think Federer needs to get used to playing Nadal like an underdog. One of the disturbing things about that final was that he kept assuming he'd won points that he'd end up losing because he was surprised Nadal kept fighting for them. And I think it might make him somewhat looser on serve.

Against everyone else in Slams I think the self-perception of himself as a favorite helps him--post Wimbledon 2008, however, he should regard himself as an underdog against Nadal and fight accordingly.

This probably only makes sense in my head.

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 03:38 PM

Pspace: yeah, he generally has a strong hatred for one-handers (which he frequently expresses). There are a few exceptions: Haas, Almagro, and Kuerten.

Posted by crazyone 02/10/2009 at 03:40 PM

Sher, no one is saying that we don't want Federer to win Dubai. Of course I do! But I don't know that Nadal's pulling out increases his chances that greatly in a best-of-three format on HC, where he's most vulnerable to a host of players. All we need is Il Divo to have a huge serving day over two sets and then Fed's out...

Posted by Pspace 02/10/2009 at 03:42 PM

c1, that's bizarre. How can you dislike one of the most beautiful shots in tennis? I should ask him sometime...I thot it was just a Federer thing, and anyone that reminded him of Fed...which is a lot more understandable...I think ;-).

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