Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Weapon of Choice
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Weapon of Choice 01/18/2010 - 5:17 PM


Howdy, everyone.  Thanks for getting the Australian Open off to a great start - over 2,000 comments on a table-setting post. That's something to crow about. I expect more of the same tonight, and this will be your venue. I watched last night, of  course, and thought that Maria Sharapova's loss was a little sad - not because I have a particular soft spot for Sharapova, but because of what I'll call the Arias Syndrome. Those of you who remember Jimmy, one of Nick Bollettieri's first successful proteges, may already know what I mean.

Jimmy reached as high as No. 5 and was in the Top 10 for two years in the early '80s. He pre-figured the game to come with his huge forehand and emphasis on racket-head speed - no mean feat back in the day when most pros still played the standard-sized rackets and sought to control, rather than liberate, their swings. But the outburst of innovation that brought us mid-sized and larger rackets raced through the game like a prairie fire, and soon everyone was swinging from the heels, using large-head rackets, different new string combinations, and frames made from exotic materials.

I simplify, of course, but Jimmy felt (rightly, I believe) that he lost a big advantage when others could get comparable pace with more forgiving rackets and other technological aids. Technology leveled the playing field. Jimmy came along a few critical years too late, but late enough to show the way to the emerging gestalt. He got caught up in the gears of change.

I thought about Jimmy watching Sharapova last night, because I think she's in similar trouble. This time, though, the issue is less about gear and more the evolution of women's tennis (although I'm sure polyester strings have some role in this - can anyone shed light on that for us?). Some time in the last few years the women as a group figured out that they didn't have to work extra hard, and often with scant reward, to develop the same chief attack weapon the men use, the serve. They would focus instead on the return. Built-in limitations on power make owning a big serve an unattainable dream for most women, but the return, which feeds off the pace of the serve, can be transformed into a fearsome weapon even a woman with less than outstanding power can have.

Or, let's put it this way: Given reasonable mechanics, a player (man or woman) can work his tail off and realize perhaps a four or six percent gain in serving velocity and spin; bump that up to eight or ten percent if we include second serve quality and placement. Most players of either gender basically serve with what Godot gave 'em.

But the return - that can be improved more dramatically, partly because the returner isn't obliged to provide all the power, and thus face a self-determined ceiling. When you return, you're not just trying to get the most out of your shot; you're trying to get the most out of your opponent's shot (the serve) as well. This is a dangerous gambit among the men, because great serving can shut down great returning. But since very few women can serve an opponent off the court, the serve -- especially on the second ball -- is clay with which the returner can work.

This explains quite a few things about women's tennis, including the nearly comical way (from a narrow, traditional and gender-blind view) that service holds sometimes seems a more important stat than breaks of serve.The most dangerous shot in men's tennis remains the serve. Among the women (with a few choice exceptions, led by Serena Wiliams), the most dangerous shot is the return. Remember that big story that developed at the last U.S. Open, about why women had such miserable serving statistics? The answer is fear - fear of the return. It's as if the WTA rank-and-file realized, heck, why bang our heads against the wall, trying to become something beyond our grasp? Let's be something attainable - great returners.

And that's where Sharapova is in trouble, any time she can't serve at her absolute best. If she were, say, Justine Henin, she might be able to compensate for this vulnerability with other elements in her game. But given her limitations as an athlete, she has a declining ability to repel attacking returners.

There was a moment last night when Mary Jo Ferandez, Mary Carillo, Brad Gilbert and Pat McEnroe were discussing Sharapova's loss to Maria Kirilenko, and about three-quarters of the way through the analyses, McEnroe cut to the chase. Watching the match, he and Gilbert decided that Sharapova simply didn't move well enough when Kirilenko managed to pressure her. That, to me, was the key to the match. And more and more these days, when it comes to attacking, the service return is weapon of choice.

Thus, it was poignant when Sharapova, in a revealing moment of bitterness, said in her presser that she would be back to play on the second Saturday in Australia one day. She even added something like, "you just watch." More power to her if she can; she certainly works hard enough to maximize her potential. And she's an extremely determined and focused individual. But, like Arias, she may be a victim of history - caught in the gears of a churning, ever-moving game. 

-- Pete

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Posted by rg.nadal (Vamos Rafa! Allez Justine!) 01/19/2010 at 08:43 AM

Hope Henin's ranking improves enough so that she does not have to play the likes of Elena in the subsequent slams.

Posted by Tfactor 01/19/2010 at 08:43 AM

It wasn't me but I hope it's Ok to look you up too if I'm in Jamaica ;-)

We don't get TC here either and for some reason the Cable company thought it a good idea to change one of my ESPN channels, which used to provide different tennis coverage (different commies, more match time, zero interviews, etc) to the same feed from ESPN2!!! Brilliant (not!!)

Posted by rg.nadal (Vamos Rafa! Allez Justine!) 01/19/2010 at 08:44 AM

Tfactor: I am happy for Yanina W. Hope she aint too tired after playing quallies and that long R1 match.

Posted by Tfactor 01/19/2010 at 08:46 AM

I was thinking the same during her first match, wondering if it was going to be too much for her. We'll see what she has left for Flavia.

Posted by Karen 01/19/2010 at 08:50 AM

TFactor, you will always be welcome to look me up when you are in my neck of the woods. If you would like the link to the Tennis Channel live stream, here it is.
It works like a dream

Posted by tina 01/19/2010 at 08:54 AM

My first AO all-nighter of 2010! Well, I think I dozed off after Nole for a bit, but then discovered the Gasquet/Youzhmonster match. A lot of interesting match-ups for Wednesday.

How cute was it that Santoro figured out the "four decades" thing? And that his press conference mentioned names from Connors to Courier to Čilić. Au revoir, Fabrice!

Posted by Tfactor 01/19/2010 at 08:54 AM

Thanks. Saved for later use (at work right now)
Same here. Feel free to look me up if you're ever in St. Kitts.
BTW, I'm picking up Ruth later today for a second meeting, this time here by me.

Posted by rafadoc 01/19/2010 at 08:57 AM

Tina: Way to go! I am exhausted and missed the middle of the night matches. Woke up on the couch to Nole winning.

I need a nap already. I guess I have to build my tennis watching stamina!

*shakes fist at Chardy* I just saw he lost. Dumps me out of the SP for the ATP. Oh well.

Posted by TennisFan2 01/19/2010 at 09:01 AM

Great Aussie Open so far!! So tired...

If you live in Massachusetts get out and vote for Martha Coakley today!

Posted by Tfactor 01/19/2010 at 09:02 AM

The problem is that we'll eventually get used to the odd hours but by then the AO will be over and other tournaments will be played in different time zones with more adjustments needed. Oh well, all for the love of the game and our faves...

Posted by linex 01/19/2010 at 09:04 AM

A pity that 2 favourites of mine like Gasquet and Malisse lost in five setters. I have to say that they both are usually involved in tough 5 setters. What a pity that once again Gasquet is defeated in an epic 5 set match. I only got to see the 5th set and I have to recognize that Michael played very aggresively since the moment he broke Gasquet back. Richard got tired in the end and was not taking much risks.

The Andreev meltdown which I got to see until almost the end reminded me of the Chucho Acassuso meltdown. They both dominated Roger for long parts of the match, they both had set points in a fourth set and they both ended losing easily in the 4th set after the depression of knowing that they had choked away the match. Of course all credit to Roger, as Igor said he is the number one for something.

Posted by ladyjulia 01/19/2010 at 09:07 AM

From ESPN:

"John Isner's week began well.

Strolling near the player cafe Sunday, he was stopped in his tracks by all-world Roger Federer, who extended a hand and congratulated the surging Isner on winning his first title Saturday at Auckland's Heineken Open. It probably made up for his bags not arriving from New Zealand on time.

"That was pretty cool," Isner, whose baby face counters his towering 6-foot-9 frame, told reporters. "I didn't really think he would even know, but he did. Anytime Roger can talk to you, let alone congratulate you, it's pretty neat.""

Posted by Cotton Jack (Jonas Kaufmann to complete a career slam in 2010) 01/19/2010 at 09:18 AM

Good of Roger to give a confidence booster to a guy who's in the same quarter as Nadal and Murray ;-)

Posted by rafadoc 01/19/2010 at 09:21 AM

Hi Tfactor! I know...oh the life of a tennis fan. ;-)

linex: Sorry about Richard. That looked like quite a match.

ladyjulia: Congrats on Roger's win.

I read Andreev's presser. The lead-in segment said he was crying after the match. *sad face*

Posted by ladyjulia 01/19/2010 at 09:24 AM

I don't know if somebody posted Roger's presser are some quotes:

"ROGER FEDERER: No, tough match, you know, like I knew from the start. It was not gonna be an easy one. He's got incredible acceleration on his shots, obviously, especially his forehand. He's very physical and intense, so I was happy with the start I got today.

A few hiccups, but I think those are more due to his good play and because of also playing against the wind. So it was a good first round for me anyway."

Q. After such a tough first three sets, how do you explain 6‑Love in the fourth?

ROGER FEDERER: It might be just that one step slower than he was in the beginning, you know. Instead of hitting the forehand close to the line, it clips the tape. It's that one or two shots, and then you have to start taking more chances and then you get frustrated. Then it's over quickly, you know.

Q. Would you say that you saved more the set points or that he missed a little bit of those set points he had?

ROGER FEDERER: I'm sure he could have played better, you know. But it was a very crucial, you know, moment in the match. There was a lot of tension. I could have won the set twice before; he could have won the set twice before.

So it was just one of those moments where anything can happen, you know. You need a bit of luck. I definitely got that in the third set today.

Q. Nikolay Davydenko said everyone in the draw is scared of him. Are you scared of him?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, respect the way he deserves. Yeah, sure.

Q. Not scared?

ROGER FEDERER: "Scared" is a bad word. I don't like that word. Ask a boxer if he's scared of the other guy. I don't think he's going to say yes.

Q. Was the back bothering you during the Australian Open last year?

ROGER FEDERER: Actually I don't remember. I think I was just worried that it was gonna come back, and so maybe I was playing with a little bit of doubt, you know.

But I still thought I played a great Australian Open last year, even though I ended up losing in five in the final. I think that final match we played against each other was one of the best we've ever played. I still walked away feeling good about my game."

Posted by Karen 01/19/2010 at 09:25 AM

TFactor, I thought Ruth had left. I am hopeful that I will get a chance to meet her as well as she seems like a fantastic person. We talk on skype all the time now which is really cool. I think she is like the mother I just lost. Such a warm person.

Posted by Ruth 01/19/2010 at 09:25 AM

I've saved that veetle link, too. Thanks, Karen, and whoever posted it on TW.

Everyone who knows me and my tennis likes/dislikes knows how much I hate it when a player who wins 2 of the first 3 sets in a 3/5 match ends up losing in 5 sets. There were 3 such matches overnight... aaargh!...but I can't help feeling good about the Youz's win. He's one of my favorite tennis crazies. :)

Also smiling about the Blake, Vania King and Monfils wins.

Trivia note: In addition to being a tennis player, Vania is a trained singer. She sang the National Anthem at one of the two Florida Fed Cup ties that I attended some years ago. Beautiful voice.

TFactor: I can tell from the TW play by play that you followe a lot more matches than I did last night, so you'll fill me in when we meet later today. I'm going t0 put in at least one solid hour of work on a report that I've promised to complete and submit to the US by e-mail before a 1/24 deadline. Then, I'll be heading to the ferry.

Glad that my prediction on Deuce Club about my dear Venus turned out not to be accurate. I guess Safarova wasn't as "revitalized" as I thought she'd be.

Go, Venus!

Posted by ladyjulia 01/19/2010 at 09:25 AM

he he...CJ

Posted by Heather H 01/19/2010 at 09:29 AM

In addition to poor movement and a deflated serve, Maria's other big limitation is her one-dimensional game. She does not have a great return of serve. She cannot hit a traditional volley or overhead (at least not as far as I've observed), and her default plan B response to hitting hard is to hit harder with no margin for error. To keep up with women's tennis, especially with a nagging injury that diminishes the power of her serve, probably on a permanent basis, Maria needs to develop a more multi-faceted game.

Posted by ladyjulia 01/19/2010 at 09:32 AM

Hi rafadoc,

yeah..I also read that Andreev was in tears..but i thought the USO match would have hurt him more (that was five sets?). Anyway, he's played Roger three times and three times he's had his chances.

One of these days..he's going to take his chances and win. Roger called him a wonderful player. I just hope that Roger dosen't draw him for the rest of the year..or atleast not in GS this year.

Good luck for Rafa.

Posted by Karen 01/19/2010 at 09:33 AM

Hey Ruth, I thought had left to go back to the US. Hmm, have no idea where that came from. I have to say that I am a bit miffed that Gasquet lost, not because he is a fave of mine, but I cannot deal with Youzhny's theatrics. One minute you are cramping and the next minute you are running around like a rabbit and no longer need the trainer. Whatever. And all the fist pumping and stuff I can also do without.

Posted by Karen 01/19/2010 at 09:34 AM

Someone just sent me an email that Cayman just had an earthquake. Not sure how much on the richter scale it was. Watch this space.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 01/19/2010 at 09:37 AM

Finally a post I can agree with 100 percent!

I have been preaching a return-based tactical philosophy to my women students for a few years now, having seen this trend developing for quite some time. In fact, mentioning Sharapova makes me think back to the AO final a few years back when Serena completely dismantled Maria, something like 6-1, 6-1, by first-strike return of serve tennis. Of course, as Pete mentions, Serena also has a serve that is a weapon - but she is rare.

I was watching a couple of 10-year-old girls playing a match a few years ago in a big clinic that brought kids in from all over our state and region. They were trading break games as each girl teed off on the other girl's serves, generally hitting outright winners or causing an error with the return. One of the girls was getting particularly distressed about this pattern, and had fallen into the self-destructive habit of dropping her shoulders and giving up when she saw her opponent swinging for the fences off her first serve.

After watching a few games and seeing this one girl getting so distraught, I walked out onto the court and approached the girls at the net as they were changing sides. I introduced myself as a sometime PTR teaching pro, and I would like to share my observations, if they would allow. they perked up their ears as I explained what I was witnessing, which was a very natural and common occurrence, even in the women's professional game. So, I said, what do we do about it? And that's when I focused my attention on the distraught llittle girl, and told her that the secret was twofold: first, using service placement to blunt the opponent's return as much as possible; second, be ready to run to the corners after a big return, and get that ball back into play in a part of the court athat will have the effect of resetting the point. In short, I told them, they needed to expect a big return, hustle like mad to retrieve it, and do their best to hit a deep ball that cannot be taken advantage of too easily, essentially neutralizing the return and putting the girls back on an even foot.

And I still believe that is the key to women's tennis, with the big, powerful racquets and the big swings on return.

Posted by Master Ace 01/19/2010 at 09:39 AM

First round WTA matches(top half) to be played on Day 3 along with the bottom half of the WTA and ATP brackets

Zvonareva/Kucova - Chang/Benesova - Vesnina/Garbin - Date Krumm/Shvedova - Voegele/Czink - Cohen-Aloro/Azarenka - Wozniacki/Wozniak - Paszek/Goerges - Voskoboeva/Pironkova - Hradecka/Peer - Hantuchova/Kutuzova - Groth/Arvidsson - Dubois/Szavay - Erakovic/Li

Posted by sokol 01/19/2010 at 09:41 AM

good morning...
I was able to catch the end of Misha's match. Good job by him to fight through cramps. Very happy for him.
Commies to many Gasquet fans though...

and the biggest upset on men's side is... Soderling lost? the first round loss? I think this one is even bigger than maria, since she's still questionable on serve... but Sod was playing steady lately, even though he lost to Ginepri about a week ago...

so far I'm a happy camper, many of my favorites are going through, even though I was knocked out of SP by Sela (will never pick him again....). I'm still alive in women's Sp, so I need to go check out the schedule and hopefully pick a winner for next round...

Posted by Nic 01/19/2010 at 09:45 AM

I imagine the tears would have come because Igor's had such a terrible run on hardcourts since around the USO. I think this is possibly the 8th or maybe even 9th first round loss he's had in a row. On top of which, he somehow managed to put all that aside for a brief period of time today, to step up to the Federer challenge. He played well above his form. To go through tha whole match and ultimately not secure the win, would be devastating.

Posted by sokol 01/19/2010 at 09:46 AM

"Onto Felya or Kodal wars, whatever you prefer :-)"

no way :-)

Posted by VC 01/19/2010 at 09:51 AM

The Guardian is fairly critical and feels Federer could be pretty vulnerable this time. Have to say I can't really disagree. But we'll see, maybe it's the tough early-round Slam match Federer usually has.

Posted by sokol 01/19/2010 at 10:00 AM

nice schedule today. To start things there will be all-Russian Sveta-Nastya, Woz-not Woz, Vika, Vera (will be interesting to see her form). There will be something to watch for me, unlike yeaterday...

Posted by toonie 01/19/2010 at 10:08 AM

Someone warned me about picking Starace....I'd like to kick his butt for going out in the first round.

Posted by sod'sfriend 01/19/2010 at 10:08 AM

i am stunned into silence about my friend's ouster last night.

before i went to bed he was leading 7-5,6-2,3-2 on serve!

only to wake up this morning to discover he lost last 3 sets 4-6,4-6,2-6!


but cheer up warrior, go back to work on your game, better days are ahead!

Posted by just a note 01/19/2010 at 10:14 AM

Hi Karen - trying to catch up and saw your post. All credit goes to crazyone for the Veetle (TTC) link. She posted it a couple of weeks ago and I bookmarked it just in case my cable goes out. So glad it worked out for you.:) If I ever get to Jamaica, would love to meet and share a cool drink or two!

Posted by Anne 01/19/2010 at 10:18 AM

I hope this is not the beginning of the end for Soderling-what a bummer. Am watching the rerun of the Fed/Igor A match. Andreev is no ususal 1st rounder-he has a killer forehand. Luckily for Rog he has a hard time sustaining the brilliance. Awesome Richy Gasquet/Michael Y match-I love whoever said Youzy is a favorite "crazy"! Also loving the 'Mericans: V King, D Young, J Blake, Johnny I, not so much Melanie O.

Posted by Master Ace 01/19/2010 at 10:19 AM

Sod's friend,
At least you were good to post about Robin situation today. Robin normally do not do well during the AO swing so he should be in good shape despite the result on Day 2

Posted by rafadoc 01/19/2010 at 10:25 AM

Thanks for the good wishes Lady Julia.

Yes, maybe Igor will do it some day. Oh well. He can focus on cheering on his gf now. :)

Posted by Nic 01/19/2010 at 10:29 AM

I'd like to see Berdy/Korolev tomorrow. Between those two crazies, you never know what you're going to get. Although chances are it's going to be a shemozzle.

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 01/19/2010 at 10:29 AM

Sod'sfriend, commiserations. Sure wasn't expecting Soderling to go out to Granola Bar. A lot of experts had him going out early. To my surprise they were right!

Posted by Ruth 01/19/2010 at 10:29 AM

No, Karen. I have five more days in this wonderful place. Leaving on Sunday, one day before the elections!

Now, off to St. Kitts to visit with TFactor! Hope she can keep her eyes open after all that tennis last night and overnight! LOL

See y'all later.AC

Posted by Nic 01/19/2010 at 10:30 AM

There's also doubles for Igor with (3rd wheel) Evgeny.

Posted by tina 01/19/2010 at 10:31 AM

I'm still trying to figure out that sheer overlay on Masha's dress. Doesn't look like a fabric I'd want to sweat in. Catch you all tonight! Good luck to all my hrvati!

Posted by Karen 01/19/2010 at 10:34 AM

Jan, thanks for that and yes you are quite welcome to come to Jamaica and I will get you more than a cool drink.
C1 anytime you are in Jamaica my friend, we will have Appleton shots - LOL

Posted by Karen 01/19/2010 at 10:35 AM

Toonie, I know I picked Starace as well but when I checked the picks and results thread this morning I saw that I was still there. Are you sure he lost? *goes off to check SP results again

Posted by Karen 01/19/2010 at 10:36 AM

yup Toonie you were right. Now I am in red. Bummer

Posted by Master Ace 01/19/2010 at 10:46 AM

Yes, Starace lost to Robert. TAT staff should have everything updated before play starts at 7 PM EST

Posted by sod'sfriend 01/19/2010 at 10:48 AM

thanks master ace,

good to know others have faith in le sod

he will surely come back!

Posted by CherryNYC 01/19/2010 at 10:55 AM

Sod's friend, I'm so sorry. I can't believe the Marquis Le Sod went out to a Granola Bar. Marquis is my favorite nickname, and I'm going to miss it. I need to check the draw now.....

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 01/19/2010 at 10:58 AM

Sod's friend: your man may not get his share of lovin' around here, but his game is highly respected......I, for one, expected him to go deep. Come join the few of us (maybe just Sokol and me) who are rooting for Kolya!:)

Posted by Master Ace 01/19/2010 at 11:06 AM

All courts, except for Rod Laver, Court 5(doubles), and Court 13(doubles), will start off with a first round match from the WTA. Wozz Battle on Hisense, Queen of Nastiness on Court 2, and Kimiko on Court 8. ESPN 360 will stream matches from Laver, Hisense, Margaret Court, Court 2, Court 3, Court 6, and Court 8.

Posted by Anne 01/19/2010 at 11:06 AM

Here's one more for Koyla-Go, Nikky D, go!

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Tears of joy in '10! 01/19/2010 at 11:11 AM

Morning everyone

Fed Igor rerun is going on.

What to make of this Gasquet character eh? How many 5 setters (or 3 setters in ATP) he has in him before realizes that it is "best of" and "not all"? I like him though.

We all have a barn burner tonight (wee hours EST) folks. Henin and Dem. Can't wait. I probably will get a bit of shut-eye and get up for that one. you all watching that?

Posted by just a note 01/19/2010 at 11:14 AM

I too enjoy Robin's game and am sad to see him out. Hope he's OK. Sorry sod's friend, I know you were looking forward to him doing well.

Posted by sod'sfriend 01/19/2010 at 11:22 AM

CherryNYC, Mr. and Mrs. D.,

thanks for the sympathy. marquis le sod (and delPo) are my men in this slam. 2 big bad boys to break the fedal jinx at the top of the men's game.

now with delPo having a "wrist-watch" i may be out of horses before too long.

kolya sounds good, he beats the big boys, and maybe murray can surprise us all and fulfil his huge promise!

Posted by Peg 01/19/2010 at 11:25 AM

Awesome matchcall, NP.

Posted by sod'sfriend 01/19/2010 at 11:39 AM

thanks too, just a note!

Posted by A Tennis Coach 01/19/2010 at 11:41 AM

Hey Pete,
Really love ya man, have for a long time- but this technical analysis side of you is...well, it's not your forte. Any coach worth his salt has been teaching the return side of the equation starting in the juniors for as long as I can remember and I remember before the beatles...Kind of late to the technical party with this one my man, stick to personality profiles or try coaching rec players for a season or two , it might teach you more about the game then all the years you spent in the press box. Geez, I hope the next post isn't about 'watching the ball'
Hang in there, still love ya

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Tears of joy in '10! 01/19/2010 at 11:44 AM

Kolya is either talking too much or been talked about a bit much.
Doesn't bode well. Remember Soderling?

Posted by Karen 01/19/2010 at 11:44 AM

Indian Wells will be broadcast on Tennis Channel starting 13 March. Spread the word.

Posted by beth 01/19/2010 at 11:51 AM

le sigh - I am so disappointed that Gasquet lost another tough 5 setter . If this young man could win one of these after his unfortunate year last year- I think it could make a great difference in his whole game. I guess we fans of his should be glad that he is even back on the court . I keep hoping that it will come - perhaps I am too optimistic about him ...
I keep thinking someday . watching the match it just looked like he ran out of gas
I wish i knew just how many people get inspired and play tough tennis when they have an injury ? Is there some statistic kept there ?
anyway - congrats to Youzhny and his fans - hope he continues to play well . It will really be a bummer if after that match that he fought so hard to win ,that he just flames out

The bright spot of my day was that the Sod lost - sorry to his fans , and I know there are some - but I am not one of them . And anytime I do not have to watch that man on my tv or screen is good with me . Now - would it be really evil to hope that he crashes out of the French really early as well ?

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/19/2010 at 11:51 AM

Hello all. :)

Interesting results from the morning. Sad for Gasquet; thanks, NP, for the match call.

Does anyone know what happened to JCF? I saw Dodig take the third and then had to go to work.

Posted by Pspace (The Curse of Tommy Robredo) 01/19/2010 at 11:58 AM

Oh Reeshie...he's prolly lost a five setter in every possible way :-((. Maybe he needs some lessons from Fed on how to put away a lead, and from Rafa on how to win in tight spots. Three two set leads coughed up. That has to be a record.

Speaking of records, on a personal node, for the first time, I've surived two days of SP! can only get better.

Posted by sod'sfriend 01/19/2010 at 12:04 PM


you are happy le sod crashed out because your horses can breathe easy, no? federer was a possible semi or nadal in final.

at least he did not blame his loss on his elbow tendinitis - he is a viking warrior, he makes no excuses!

Posted by Cotton Jack (Domingo never won a GS on clay either) 01/19/2010 at 12:06 PM

I'm really hoping that in the 4th round we get Federer - Baghdatis. Lots of other tasty possibilities like Del Potro - Cilic. Shame only one out of Tsonga, Dent, Tipsarevic and Haas can make the fourth round!

Posted by Chirag Dua 01/19/2010 at 12:06 PM

Jewell: JCF lost in 5, 6-2,6-1,4-6,1-6,1-6. Another one who blew a 2 set lead.

Posted by Maplesugar (at home) 01/19/2010 at 12:08 PM

a little late...but just wanted to thank carnap for his hilarious weather forecast!
His reference to Vegemite just totally cracked me up.

Well, this AO is pretty exciting right from the get-go. I bit my fingernails down to the quick, watching Fed's duel with Igor. And, one of the most intriguing upcoming matches will definitely be Blake v. Crazy Elf. You guys still call him that here?

Posted by robbyfan 01/19/2010 at 12:08 PM

sods' friend-sorry your boy did not go through. I have lots of experience in that with R. Ginepri! Clay will be good to him, look forward to that.

Posted by Pspace (The Curse of Tommy Robredo) 01/19/2010 at 12:10 PM

LOL, Jo knows what he wants. But, he doesn't get it:

Q. I don't think we know yet who you play next, do we?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: We don't know yet.

Q. Do you have a preference on either?


Q. Why?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Because he's not really offensive, so it's better because I don't have to run when the player in front of me is not offensive.

Dent up next.

Posted by beth 01/19/2010 at 12:14 PM

well, sod'sfriend - yeah - I do see Soderling as a threat to Nadal - not so much to Fed , as Federer clearly has his number . So for that reason , I am glad he is out
but that is not the only one - I simply do not care for his personality on court . He just seems rather hostile and contentious.
Maybe it is just being competitive , I don't know - I am just not a fan

sorry that your favorite lost for you though . I know that takes something out of the excitement of the event

Posted by sod'sfriend 01/19/2010 at 12:16 PM


it's lonely out here when you back a horse that only performs in spurts - like yours and mine!

i like robby too, but our joy is far and in between - like boston red sox until 2004- haha!

Posted by robbyfan 01/19/2010 at 12:16 PM

There are some wonderful pictures on beth-some wonderful pictures of Gasquet

Posted by CL 01/19/2010 at 12:17 PM

Well, for a Fed fan, that was all too interesting last night. There certainly were some shakey moments, but one of the things that impressed me...again...was Fed's amazing defense. And he was chasing down balls that were hit with tremendous pace and depth by Igor. In either an exo or Doha interview, I think he mentioned that he was trying to work on his 'explosive/first step out of the gate' movement. I'd say it has payed dividends. He kept making Igor hit one more shot and eventually that took a toll. (Maybe Fed has taken a leaf out of Rafa's book. ;-)) Though in truth his 'D' was always pretty darn good. Now its better.)

ESPN - I have e-mailed them repeatedly and have never even gotten so much as a boiler plate reply. If anyone has a more direct e-mail opposed to the tweeting twitters that Matt Z posted... (I neither twit nor tweet), could you pls. pass it on. I cannot tell you how profoundly grateful I am to have TC/Direct TV multi- court coverage. Of course, that will last only for the first week, but wow, it is just SO great not to be dependent on ESPN's atrocious and jingoistic broadcast choices.

Posted by beth 01/19/2010 at 12:21 PM

thanks , robbyfan for the info
will check it out

but - in other good news, I am still in the suicide pool ! Apricot Bars did not fail me , nor did Chiudenelli - so on to day three
must go pick my player of the day

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Tears of joy in '10! 01/19/2010 at 12:24 PM

CL: Word on Fed's "D".

I think over the years, my "D" against the US broadcasters and their retarded ways have gone way up. I pull up my coffee table and tune to ESPN360 version (nowadays) of the said match. Also I have and channelsurfing and other streams ready and just a click away. You get dinged for so long, you learn the Pavlovian defense. Be it "expert commenting" while a LIVE match, or doing the "human side bar" (aka Bob Costas syrupy documentaries) on fav. american players...or just yapping to self promote...they just don't seem to learn. It is not their fault. All American sports are tuned to "talking" nonstop while the action happens and all of them have preset commercial breaks. It is in the contract. This is the ONLY way they know. And they struggle retrofit this model to Tennis (never mind Soccer, no not at all).

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/19/2010 at 12:29 PM

Hi Chirag, welcome to TW. :)

I knew he lost but the match seemed to change so suddenly, and I wondered if JCF was carrying an injury or had picked one up.

Posted by Pspace (The Curse of Tommy Robredo) 01/19/2010 at 12:30 PM

CL, hehe, was the D really good enough to invoke Rafa's name? There was just one really good get, at BP 0-0 in the 4th. Rafa pulls out about 5 or 6 of those in a set ;-). 3rd set defense was mostly slice-related, which Fed always has. And, Andreev doesn't have the precise DTL to the open court. Still, good for a first round.

One of the commies on my stream remarked that Fed nowadays plays a lot of tactics rather than imposing himself on the opponent. That struck a chord fwiw. But, I much preferred him winning with winners. Here's an interesting quote from Fed yesterday:

Q. Santoro said today he had the most respect for you out of the whole career. Do you have any words for him?

ROGER FEDERER: Sure, it's nice to hear. We're good friends and we get along well together. He enjoyed playing against me. Same for me. If I could pick a guy to play against, I would like to play against him. Every day I would pick him. He would try something different and I would try something different.

We would almost allow each other to do that; whereas with other players you get tangled up in the same rallies. He's not the power player and he uses a lot touch. So obviously I have a lot of respect for everything he's done in our game.

It must be pretty tedious defending that backhand side for 7 years or so ;-)

Posted by CL 01/19/2010 at 12:31 PM

Count me as those genuinely sorry that Rockin' Robin is out. I wish I knew how to link pictures from there, because at there is a freakin; hilarious picture of Robin peeking over the fence at Fed's practice. You can just see the top of his head and his eyes...looks like one of the 'Kilroy was here' sketches.

Triple F - yeah...pretty impressive. Now if he can just up the 1serve % and CONSOLIDATE those break, he will be good to go.

Posted by VC 01/19/2010 at 12:34 PM

That Ferrero-Dodig match is really puzzling. Would be nice if anyone could throw light on why the scores were so lopsided.

Posted by beth 01/19/2010 at 12:37 PM

guess I did not look at the scores - but did Robredo lose yesterday ?
did I miss this mess ?

Posted by mcakron 01/19/2010 at 12:39 PM

CL -- agreed about Fed's defense last night. That's why I walked away feeling better than after Andreev victory at USO '08, where I thought Fed's defense was extremely shakey (by his standards) until the Djoker and Muzz SF and F. Plus, there seemed a little more TMF last night .. re: the third set TB and fourth set. And, oh yeah, we didn't have to go to a fifth set. ;-)

NP -- yeoman's work on Youzney/Gasquet.

Posted by beth 01/19/2010 at 12:41 PM

answering my own question - yes , Robredo lost
that stinks

Posted by Anne 01/19/2010 at 12:42 PM

I second the wish to see Rog winning with, well, winners. Am I the only one who thinks he's a half a step or so slow these days (was watching the AO SF with Safin and thought he just flew all over the court)? I think he just can't get to the ball to make those crazy sick winners (remember the AO Fed Funhouse?) Also, serve goes MIA way more than it used to. And the BP chances, geesh. But I do really love to watch him play, so I'll take a half-baked Rog any day!!

Posted by zenggi 01/19/2010 at 12:43 PM


I saw Robin's picture on Don't want to tread over the poster rights though and post it here.
I'm also sorry that Robin lost. He can play 5-sets with the best of them as shown in RG. Not a fluke at all. Just a bad day, I guess. I also like his dimples :)

Posted by CL 01/19/2010 at 12:43 PM

Pspace - well, seems to be there was more than ONE great get...and you notice I DID put a ;-) when I dared to mention Fed in the same sentence as Rafa re D. Not THAT crazy. I understand your larger point, and admit I have not seen the match stats yet, but seems to me Fed had a fair amount of winners last night. He was hitting a TON of winners in Doha...until part of the EG match and the DavyD match. Granted, the earlier matches were against 'lesser' players, but the idea that Fed is not going for his shots, I find somewhat puzzling. And long as he WINS. :-)

Posted by sod'sfriend 01/19/2010 at 12:47 PM

beth, women are from venus, men are from mars, is all i can say!

le sod is very attractive on court - strong and in your face! no backing down.

Posted by beth 01/19/2010 at 12:51 PM

not that I am the expert Fed watcher as many of you here - but , he looked awfully sharp to me last night in the closing set of that match with Andreev
My husband insisted on watching 24 , so I was on my computer through the early part of the match
then when his show was over we switched to tennis to see Roger come roaring through the set
and Andreev just sort of folding his tent
When he lost that third set tie break , he could not muster any more game

He tried , but Roger was just too good
At least , that was my take

And - I love the blue shirt and white shorts - I know it is classic and simple - but damn , it just looks so crisp and sharp . The man really does have a way of "wearing " his clothes . Why can't they all be like that ?- Why do we have to see these people in clown pants and flashy prints , or what looks like black silk pajamas - cough , cough Djokovic ?-
This tried and true look just works . Don't mess with success .

Posted by Pspace (The Curse of Tommy Robredo) 01/19/2010 at 12:52 PM

CL, at some point in the middle of the fourth Fed had 33 Winners to 38 UFEs. Probably ended up with positive nos at the end. But, there were just too many shanks when he tried to be aggressive. Muzz had more winners in his 3 set win...with a 33% first serve ;-).

As for Doha, yeah, I thought he played good in the first two matches, before stinkers against Ernie and Kolya, where he was just pushing the ball around. Used to be that you couldn't outhit Federer...a lot of his trick shots seem to have disappeared.

Posted by VC 01/19/2010 at 12:53 PM

"But, I much preferred him winning with winners."

I miss that Federer. But he's going through the mid-to-late career adjustment that all sportsmen have, they cannot win with awe and brilliance forever. He's been in this phase for the last year-and-a-half or so. I'm not sure his success nowadays can be all attributed to tactics though. It's partly aura, part scrappiness, and part drawing errors with the slice.

Posted by Tigress 01/19/2010 at 12:53 PM


Monday, January 18, 2010
Roger Federer Countdown to 287: 21 (Twenty-one) weeks
Weeks #1: 266
Ranking Points: 10,550
Points gain/loss from last week: 0
Point Lead: 1240 (Nadal), 2240 (Djokovic)
Points Lead gain/loss: 0 (Nadal), 0 (Djokovic)
#1 Weeks Rank: 4th
Target Date for Record #287: June 14, 2010
Pete Sampras Record for #1: 286 weeks
Target Date for 3rd Rank #269 (Connors 268): February 8, 2010 -- 3 weeks
Target Date for 2nd Rank #271 (Lendl 270): February 22, 2010 – 5 weeks
1st time #1: February 2, 2004. 237 weeks
2nd time #1: July 6, 2009. 29 weeks (ongoing)

Short Term Outlook: Only Nadal and Djokovic are realistic threats to challenge Federer for #1 in the next two months. Only Nole can catch him this fortnight at Melbourne.

Fed v. Nadal: . Nadal cannot pass Federer for #1 at AO, since he cannot add points, while Fed leads by 1240 and can lose only a maximum of 1200 (l180). Nadal must win the AO to have any chance of gaining significantly on Federer. If he wins AO, Fed will add at least 1600 points to his lead. Nadal will have little chance to gain major points after Melbourne until RG, because he won so many points during that period last year. He has to get close here to have a short term chance at #1.

Fed v. Djokovic: Nole trails Fed by 2240 points. He is defending only 360 points (“09 QF loss). Theoretically, he could take over #1 at Melbourne. To do so, he must win the AO (gaining 1640 points). He would then need Fed (who is defending 1200 points) to lose at least 695 points, winning 505 or fewer. Thus, Fed would have to lose in the QF or before. If Federer loses before the SF and Djokovic wins the tournament, Nole will be the new #1. If Nole does not close the gap with Fed significantly at AO, he’ll have little chance for #1 until the French Open, because he is defending many points until then, and Fed is defending relatively few until his 1000 winner’s points at Madrid.

Posted by CL 01/19/2010 at 12:53 PM

Anne- you seem, at the moment, to be in the minority re Fed's Fed's movement. Agree about serve and BP chances though. And ROS? Last night I thought he was trying to hit over his BH on ROS quite a least in the early going. It is a tactic that I basically approve of, but I thought WHO he was doing it against and WHEN he was doing it could use some more thought. He doesn't really have to do that to Igor...his usual chip will work pretty well, so why not save coming over his BH for the big points? And also, speaking of tactics, what on EARTH was up with those Roddick/Kamakase like net approaches early in the first set. Yeesh.

zengi - I know how you feel about posters' rights...too bad, cause it actually IS one of the more hilarious sorta off court tennis pictures I have ever seen. We need someone with lower ethical standards. Hmmm....

see ya all later...

Posted by zenggi 01/19/2010 at 12:55 PM

I understand why Federer likes (liked) to play against Santoro. Every point is played differently. At the same time I understand how Marat (oh, where are you?) hated it.

Mr. Davydenko is starting to find out that winning has side effects. Like being asked what he thinks about being one of the favourites to win the AO and other stupids questions.

I've seen a picture of Mirka with one of the twins. Adorable.

Posted by CL 01/19/2010 at 12:56 PM

beth - agree about Roger's fashion choices...but a bit blue with the bleu. He's look great in a nice dark/forest green.

The murse, however, really DOES look like a diaper bag...for twin boys.

really off now.

Posted by beth 01/19/2010 at 12:56 PM

sod'sfriend - as I say , to each his / her own
I find what you call his never back down and in your face to be obnoxious , contentious and unappealing

But that is just me -
doesn't mean he isn't a good player , cause clearly he is
I just don't cheer for him

Kind of like I never cheer for Notre Dame football
I always cheer for their opponents :)

Posted by just a note 01/19/2010 at 12:57 PM

Anne - I see the same thing as you, a little slower, just a fraction and those "crazy sick winners" are not there. The serve, which he can control, and the break points lost, which he can't control all the time, are the other concerns but, like you, I'll enjoy every moment he gives 'cause there's just too much good stuff.:))

Posted by VC 01/19/2010 at 12:59 PM

I agree Fed's outfit this tournament is the best I've seen from him for a while in a Slam. Though it was pretty good at last year's USO as well. Good work Nike.

In Doha, I actually thought he played a good first set that would have got the job done against most players. Kolya was simply on fire in that first set and blasting away left, right and centre. Second set, Kolya had a dip but Federer also played ordinary. At the WTF, he was simply awful starting matches and only woke up after a set. Yesterday was also a bit like that.

Posted by beth 01/19/2010 at 01:00 PM

CL - I did not see the "murse "
Roger does have a tendency to over accessorize sometimes :)

and yes, I would think a dark / forest green would look good on him as well
but , I like the blue - it is cool in what should be the hot summer of Australia

anyway - gonna go get some things done around here before live tennis starts up again
talk later

Posted by mcakron 01/19/2010 at 01:03 PM

Yeah, Djoker's getup looks like it should come with a kimono.

Posted by Anne 01/19/2010 at 01:06 PM

CL I am glad I missed the RAndyesque approaches-yikes! Interesting about the non-slice ROS's. As far as Rog's movement goes, we're only talking a teensy bit slower now, but enough to make trouble for Rog if the other components of his game (those darn missed BP chances always come to mind) go a bit wonky.

Posted by Chirag Dua 01/19/2010 at 01:09 PM

Thanks Jewell!

Jewell, VC: JCF hurt his ankle in Heineken Open, that may be the reason.

Posted by mcakron 01/19/2010 at 01:09 PM

Anne -- I'm with you in the "lost half a step/step" camp, but I also think it's been true of Fed for a couple of years now. Btw, if you think he looks fast against Safin in the AO SF, check out their AO F which I believe was from the year before -- 2004. There are a couple of gets where Fed looks like greased lightning.

Anyway, it's completely natural for it to have happened and he's adjusted to it quite well ... a'la points made by VC and Pspace.

Posted by Alexis 01/19/2010 at 01:11 PM

Haven't been here in a few days. All I can say is *whew* after Roger's first match. But then I wasn't terribly surprised. We knew when the draw came out that Roger had the toughest first round match of any top player, based on the rankings:

Andreev is ranked #37 (damn close to being seeded!!)
Hewitt's oponent was ranked #194
Davydenko's #175
Djoker's #74
Roddick's #80
Del Potro's #90
Murray's #148
Nadal's #70

Gotta give credit to Carsten Ball (#129) who gave Verdasco all kinds of trouble! And to Granollers (#113) who took out Soderling.

Posted by mcakron 01/19/2010 at 01:20 PM

Alexis -- one thing I wondered about is how a 1 thru 4 seed could draw someone under 64 in the first round. I thought the Slams did a range of rankings per rounds of seeding. Oh well. Fed's thru; that's all that matters.

P.S. Ball might be a comer -- a potential late developer like Sod. He damn near won that LA event in August (after emerging from the challenger series), and his S&V can be a genuine weapon. He just needs to clean up his RoS and groundies, though easier said than done, of course.

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