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Out of Remission 09/16/2010 - 10:16 AM

104107413

by Pete Bodo

So you think Andy Roddick has had it tough, being denied an almost certain Wimbledon title and pehaps another U.S. Open championship as well. Well, it might be cold comfort but consider the plight of Novak Djokovic. Like Roddick, he's been stuck and spinning his wheels with one major title to his name (Australia 2008). But unlike Roddick, Djokovic is an all-purpose—or, all-surface—threat whose next Grand Slam title is just as likely to be captured on the red clay of Paris as on the verdant lawn at Wimbledon.

The just completed U.S. Open final accurately framed his dilemma; he wants to win, he's ready to win, but then...up pops Roger Federer. And if it's not Federer, it's Rafael Nadal, who's more of a contemporary of Djokovic's than of Roddick's. Roddick had one iconic player with whom to grapple even under the conditions most favorable to his game; Djokovic has two.

I'm not sure that, until the early stages of the fourth set on Monday, I've ever seen a Grand Slam loser play as boldy and courageously as Djokovic did against Nadal (well, there was that Federer-Roddick final at a Rafa-less Wimbledon in 2009...) Nor have I seen a truly great effort buried so deeply under the volumes of earned praise heaped upon the victor. Sorry, Novak, wrong place, wrong time. If it's any consolation, Roddick and Andy Murray often experience much the same problem.

Still... Everything was working for Nadal in the final. He's never played better on his least favorite surface, and were not for a newly developed serving superiority he still might have been in trouble. That's because Djokovic played remarkably positive tennis. And the adjective is the operative word for our purposes.

The narrative that emerged over the past few years has cast Djokovic—the ultra-talented, curiously personable Serb (has anyone from his part of the world seemed simultaneously so "exotic" and so familiar to us?)—as a perpetual semifinalist or quarterfinalist at the majors. The guy who, having already earned national hero status in his homeland, could certainly pick up the odd Masters 1000 title here and there. But he was soft at the majors. Sometimes, he seemed too preoccupied with entertaining the crowd and acting as an unofficial ambassador for his nation to pose a serious threat to Federer or Nadal.

But let's remember, 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro is the only man other than Djokovic to have won a major since Djokovic first played one (Australian Open 2005). It's a mind-boggling statistic, and enough to tempt any player to fling up his hands and say, To hell with it, I'm just going to have a good time and pick off whatever low-hanging fruit comes my way. I'm serious when I say that Federer and Nadal may have inadvertently ruined any number of otherwise impressive men. After you spend a few years in chains, you might find their rattle musical.

But on the floor of Arthur Ashe Stadium the other night, Djokovic suggested that he wants to cast off those shackles. He often outmatched Nadal in force of shot, and he managed to look—accurately—as a man both confident and fighting for his life. At times, the grunt accompanying his swing was almost otherworldly, more evocative of a death rattle or cry of anguish than the pleasantly guttural exclamation of a guy doing his job with complete attention and effort. More than once, he loaded up and tagged that forehand in a manner that made me think, Surely, this is the last tennis shot this guy will ever hit, and he's determined to go down in a blaze of glory and self-destructive abandon.

Yet those balls continually fell inside the lines. Djokovic made Nadal's life very uncomfortable for three-plus sets at the National Tennis Center.

You could put this heroic, almost Wagnerian degree of effort expended by Djokovic down to desperation. That extra day of rest he earned via the postponement of the final because of rain on Sunday was a godsend. But it's all relative. As many players have shown, the effects of a tough, emotional five-setter in New York aren't wiped away in fewer than 48 hours (just think about Fernando Verdasco, playing his semifinal against Nadal). Djokovic insisted after the final that he felt fine, physically, but I suspect that after the win over Federer, his emotions took charge and demanded that his body—the corporeal realities—stay out of it. But they never do. He was, in my view, more tired than he knew, but men are capable of doing extraordinary things when properly motivated.

I wrote yesterday about Nadal's forehand. But in the final, Djokovic hit one more winner (he had 22) off that wing than did Nadal. Nadal hit 12 backhand winners, to Djokovic's 9, giving Nadal a slight edge in the winner count (49 to 45). The key statistic was unforced errors: Djokovic had 47, Nadal just 32. So Nadal finished with a +18 net in the error-to-winner ratio, while Djokovic ended up -2. But the most important thing this tells you is that Djokovic was more inclined to swing for the winners.

The most startling element in the match was the way Djokovic played when he found himself in a do-or-die situation. He converted three out of the only four break points he held—a tribute to his courage as well as to Nadal's talent for taking care of his serve. Nadal, by contrast, converted a dismal six of 26 break points. But nobody who watched the match would call Nadal to the carpet for that 23 percent break-point conversion rate. Djokovic played so well with his back to the wall that Nadal was moved to joke about the trouble he experienced breaking serve.

"In the statistics of the ATP I was No. 1 in break points converted," Nadal said, grinning. "So I think after this tournament I don't want to [he meant "won't"] be No. 1 on the break points converted."

All this must have been a bitter potion for Djokovic to digest, but he took it like a man. The good news is that in the latter stages of the tournament, Djokovic played anything like the perpetual semifinalist. I had to ask him if he felt as if he reinvented himself. He replied: "I've played the best tennis certainly in the last seven, eight months, maybe the whole year... I feel much more comfortable on the court, more confident, and getting this aggressive game back, the game I need to have in order to stay at the top, and a game that has been a part of me, always."

A part of him, yes, but sometimes in remission. It was nice to see it back.


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Posted by CL 09/16/2010 at 05:13 PM

jewell - that's just me, messin' with TMFunk's name..Funkster, etc. Just ignore. i'll grant you it is some tricky typing.. I can't tell you how many 'near misses' I have had typing...VERY CAREFULLY...'Sherlock." And ptennisnet, (much missed) was also challenging...**shudder**

As to your point about tiredness...you are probably right but it raises the question of why either should have been tired given the 'extra' day off both had. Also, I think the sputtering about 'tiredness' had as much to do with frustration regarding the USO schedule as anything else. My take anyway...just a (relatively) innocent bystander this time.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 05:13 PM

I think the word Asteriks should be banned from the human vocabularly quite frankly

Andrew Thank you.

Posted by Matt Zemek 09/16/2010 at 05:14 PM

Since asterisks are the theme here, a question for everyone here:

Do we know - I ask this question already knowing the answer, and I ask it especially for American sports fans in the crowd - when the insertion of an asterisk in a record book first became a point of substantial controversy?

Those who know the answer can inform those who don't, and then we can revisit this topic of sports asterisks.

Posted by CL 09/16/2010 at 05:15 PM

gauloises- very dim bell ringing in very dim brain...but maybe something about his wife? But even if I did hear that, consider the source - JMac or Mary C.

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 05:16 PM

I hate to admit it, but I think you're right, jewell - with your point about the whole fatigue issue.

Thing is, I genuinely can't help but think of Rafa as some sort of superhuman who doesn't get tired. Irrational? Sure. But watch him hand out beatdown after beatdown to your favourites, sometimes against seemingly-impossible odds, and I defy you not to think the same way.

Posted by zenggi 09/16/2010 at 05:20 PM

Here you are. Great posts. I'm also against the use of little stars attached to a win.
Why couldn't Pat Rafter win that match? I'm still asking that question. Goran scared me and not only for his monster serve.

Gauloises,
Can I contact you through jewell about going to Bercy?. I promised my daughter we'll go there.

Posted by Grant 09/16/2010 at 05:21 PM

MZ - Roger Maris?

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 05:21 PM

Well Rafa has got tired to me in a game last year if my memeory serves me correct

Kolya beat him quite convincely on a hard court.

To me Kolya has the weapons to still worry Rafa.That Miami final some years ago still is in my memeory.I know the Rafa of 2010 on a hard court has made improvements.

Posted by Master Ace 09/16/2010 at 05:22 PM

"Master Ace will remember - I did jokingly suggest before the tournament that we should call it the Asterisk Open, whoever won, in the absence of JMDP. :)"

Jewell,
Indeed, you did. Speaking of USO, 2011 version will be called The TV Open since television in USA play a big role on who play on where and what time they play. Thought about Kim Clijsters Open but TV Open won the rights.

2011 Slam Names
Australian Open - ??????
French Open - The Rafael Nadal Invitational
Wimbledon - Williams-Federer Classic
United States Open - TV Open

Posted by Kombo (GOAT-curious) 09/16/2010 at 05:23 PM

Grant - "Asterisks don't make sense to me when there is no anomaly involved. Repetitive stress injuries aren't anomalies. Aging is not an anomaly. They are inevitabilities."

Well put.

Posted by beth 09/16/2010 at 05:23 PM

AM - you are welcome
Here I thought it was just the logical choice of a coach putting the best team forward
and then I have been reading through some of the french articles ( slowly and with translation help )
to discover controversy and drama
leave it to the French
The Davis Cup team seems to be picking up where their soccer team left off
rivalries - reunited teammates - and possible injuries
nothing like a good controversy to keep things interesting

Posted by CL 09/16/2010 at 05:23 PM

gauloises - I will venture VERY delicately into the territory of Rafa as superhuman just long enough to say this...I think he has had the reputation longer than he has had the superhumaness. It was a tag put on Rafa from the moment he burst on the scene. But I clearly remember times EARLY in his career, when he indeed looked tired to anyone who was paying attention. That match in Miami where he was up two sets on Roger and Roger came back to win it...by the end of the match, Roger was much the fresher of the two. Of course that makes sense as Roger was an adult at the time and Rafa was still a teen. But I remember being aware that as they were calling the match, the commies just couldn't see that Rafa was tired, because even back then he had this huge reputation of being 100% indefatigable. And the evidence in front of their eyes couldn't overcome their assumptions. Again, this, and other matches somewhat similar were very early in his career, and now I think the reputation is well earned. Though, FWIW..I think it is still possible to tire Rafa..not easy..but possible.

Posted by Matt Zemek 09/16/2010 at 05:25 PM

1963USCTennis:

You are entirely right as far as it goes. Irrefutable, in fact.

Yet, there is still that thing called context, and it tells us that Federer - almost 28 years of age and given this rare path to the title without Nadal around during the second week - played with an otherworldly amount of pressure on his back, pressure that Nadal - at 24 years - did not feel to the same extent in New York.

After the butt-kicking Fed received from Rafa in 2008, it was hard to imagine Roger ever being able to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros. Rafa seemed destined to retain possession of that event without interruption, and he had steadily beaten Fed with progressively MORE authoritativeness in the Roland Garros finals they played.

Those of us dwelling in Federlandia were increasingly pessimistic, even resigned, about the whole matter. When Rafa lost to Soderling at Roland Garros, I and several other Federistas panicked, knowing the hurricane of "now-or-never-ism" that would float through the press, combined with the even more annoying (see this past Friday's torrent of Federer-Nadal finals previews as a classic example) "he's got this in the bag" meme.

Sunday night, the night before the Haas quarterfinal, I began my occasional habit of chanting mantras here:


HAAS.


HAAS

HAAS.

One word: HAAS.

Then "Monfils. Monfils. Monfils."


"Quarters. Quarters. Quarters."


Then "Delpo. Delpo. Delpo."


"Semis. Semis. Semis."


One.

Shot.

At.

A.

Time.


If there was ever a good sports-based approximation of the phrase, "carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders," Federer fit the image that second week at Roland Garros. I'm diminishing zero about Rafa's thoroughly dominant performance this past fortnight in Flushing; I'm merely saying that Federer's Roland Garros performance in 2009 is not to be minimized at all. The pressure he successfully endured ranks as one of the great demonstrations of grace under fire that we will ever be privileged enough to see in our lifetimes.

Posted by Colette (US Hopin' - ON CLOUD 9) 09/16/2010 at 05:26 PM

MA, for AO, would like to think of everybody healthy and in top form and call it the Wide Open

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 05:26 PM

Beth Oh No!

Also may I add the French do Drama with Flair lol!

Posted by Matt Zemek 09/16/2010 at 05:27 PM

Haas was a fourth-rounder, of course. (See - I even got ahead of my own self.)


One.

Word.

At.

A.


Time.

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 05:27 PM

Thanks, CL. I hope it's nothing too serious. I really like Vajda.

AM and CL - oh I know Rafa gets tired. I've seen it. That's where the irrational part comes in.

zenggi - you can email me on ybounden@hotmail.co.uk :)

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 05:28 PM

Colette LOL! Coming from Down Under I cant wait for MA title for the AO 2011.

I have several titles myself locked away

Posted by zenggi 09/16/2010 at 05:28 PM

CL,
I welcomed TMFunk when he started posting here. He decided that TMFunk was his moniker of choice. What I don't understand is why he hasn't changed it yet instead of using three letters that I always confuse with The Music Factory.

Gauloises,
I read that Marian couldn't go to New York with Novak for personal reasons. I can try to find the link if you want.

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 05:29 PM

French DC drama, Beth? Do tell :)

Don't worry, zenggi, I was just wondering if any more details had emerged. (Gossip-monger.)

Posted by Matt Zemek 09/16/2010 at 05:30 PM

Yes, Grant. Who was the man connected to that controversy - i.e., the man who wanted to impose an asterisk on Maris?

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Vice-President...eek! 09/16/2010 at 05:30 PM

I like "TV Open". Too much interference, for me! and none of it seemed to be very sensible.

Posted by zenggi 09/16/2010 at 05:32 PM

gauloises,
Got it. Thank you. You'll hear from me tomorrow.

Really off now.

Posted by beth 09/16/2010 at 05:33 PM

Colette - I love your suggestion !

yeah , AM , the french are up in arms and divided once again
some side with Llodra, Forget among them , seeing as how he was the hero of the tie with Spain - others feel that as the highest ranked available player Richard should have been given the chance.
( Gasquet is ranked 29 - ahead of Llodra at 30, Simon at 41 , and Clement at 60 )

Gasquet , so far , remains quiet on the subject . But he did pose with the team for their team photo . Only he was not wearing the team uniform as everyone else in the photo was . We shall see what enfolds
I wonder if they will all just stay on the team bus , and eat cheese - like the soccer players did :)

Posted by Grant 09/16/2010 at 05:34 PM

"2011 version will be called The TV Open since television in USA play a big role on who play on where and what time they play."

We're gonna have a TV party fortnight
Alright

We've got nothing better to do
Then set it up so that the players get screwed

Don't ask where the final is
You don't wanna know
We're dedicated
To our favorite shows

Judge Judy!
Random soap operas!
Two and a Half Men!

Posted by Master Ace 09/16/2010 at 05:35 PM

Colette,
Will keep the Wide Open in mind. AO is one Slam where a player may repeat but do not 3-peat in the Open Era on the ATP. Serena can 3-peat in 2011 for WTA(last person to do it was Martina Hingis 1997-1999).

Posted by Colette (US Hopin' - ON CLOUD 9) 09/16/2010 at 05:37 PM

MA, imo the AO produces more "surprises" perhaps than others??

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 05:38 PM

Beth LOL! Well the French do cheese well

Richard has improved to me over the last couple of months as well.I kind of feel for him.
I feel this would add to his confidence.Though winning is the name of the game.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 09/16/2010 at 05:39 PM

I would not put asterisks against any tennis player's names. I would, however, add a small paragraph about Monica Seles and the fact that a lunatic had stabbed her in 1993. This was unprecedented in the world of tennis and shocked the whole world, not least Monica. There needs to be some explanation as to why she was absent from the tour for such a long time before she made her comeback.

Posted by beth 09/16/2010 at 05:41 PM

gauloises - the drama centers on the removal of Gasquet from the team ,
At first , it looked like Forget made his choice against Richard because he has a history of not performing well against Nalbandian and the matchup would not favor him. Putting him under a lot of pressure
And , well , that certainly makes sense , given Richard 's history of letting 5 set matches get away from him.

But the press has latched onto the story that Llodra publicly announced he wanted to play dubs with Clement - not Richard .Seems , in spite of the acrimonious breakup of the two when their dubs career ended - at Llodra's insistence - he prefers to play with his old partner rather than Richard . And made no bones about it in the press. Forget bowed to his wishes , allowing Llodra to pick his partner and play singles as well.
There seems to be a lot of trouble in paradise ,if the reports are true
Arnaud was shocked that he was asked to be on the team - and practiced dubs with Richard - thinking MIka would not want to play with him at all - and then quel surprise - this morning the team was announced
Controversy - see ?

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 05:42 PM

Later, zenggi.

Thanks for that, Beth. I have to say, I agree with Forget's decision - and I tend to think that DC performance specifically is a sensible criteria for team selection. But I suppose it's like football managers - if France win the tie, I don't imagine there'll be too many complaints; if not, knives out.

Posted by 1963USCtennis 09/16/2010 at 05:44 PM

Ok Zemmek,

just keep this in mind though. If the world champ wins the next major, ALL boat references (for players of this era) will be made referring to him.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 05:45 PM

Well I will have fingers crossed Australia is trying to get back into the main world group.There tie will be in Cairns.Ironically it was the Belgium team who knocked them out of the World group.This tie with Belgium I hope the Aussies can get there revenge lol!

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 05:47 PM

... And thanks for your fuller explanation.

I *see*. Player power, eh? C'est problematique.

The Argies, in contrast, seem to be getting on almost scarily well.

http://tinyurl.com/22ogyb6

Of course, they always seem like the best of friends until they lose, when they start slamming each other into lockers. Then they're the best of friends again. Love that crazy lot :)

Posted by beth 09/16/2010 at 05:47 PM

gauloises - I agree that Forget made probably the best decision - given the team members he had against the Argies .
I hope they can win for his sake - as well as the French players
All now centers on Llodra once again being able to carry the load of 2 singles matches and the doubles as well
we shall see how it plays out .

Posted by Kwaku 09/16/2010 at 05:51 PM

[OT Warning]:
In the previous thread I have just posted an explanation to the Nadal-Federer h2h that two kinds of people will be happy to read: a) Federer fans; b) people who enjoy mathematics.

Posted by Glenn 09/16/2010 at 05:51 PM

I'm not into GOATS or Asterisks(they kind of go hand in hand), but i would like to give an asterisk to poor Armando Galarraga who got robbed of a no hitter by a bad umpire call !

Echoing the sentiment of Andrew from a post about 2 months ago, I would say," There are no GOATS, but if there is one, it's that young man from Salzburg who died way too young."

Posted by beth 09/16/2010 at 05:53 PM

http://www.daviscup.com/news/gallery.asp?galleryid=257&set=2

strange photo of the French team on the Davis cup site :)

Posted by Mr Rick 09/16/2010 at 05:54 PM

gauloises - I agree with your comments about Nole - he wastes a lot of energy on the court reacting to this and that. I was surprised how much he was doing it during the final, especially since overall I thought he was playing extremely well. He needed every drop of energy he had. Drama queen Nole was not helping him.

Hopefully, it is a maturity thing. He definately seems to have become less negative. He needs to just drop the court jester thing. People REALLY like his tennis. Liking HIM will follow if he just focuses on the tennis.

Posted by beth 09/16/2010 at 05:56 PM

hmmm - my link is not quite right - although you can see the photo in the thumbnails
let me try again for a bigger version
http://www.daviscup.com/news/gallery.asp?galleryid=257&set=2

hope this works this time
sorry

Posted by Colette (US Hopin' - ON CLOUD 9) 09/16/2010 at 05:56 PM

"but i would like to give an asterisk to poor Armando Galarraga who got robbed of a no hitter by a bad umpire call !"

+1!!!

Posted by beth 09/16/2010 at 05:57 PM

nope - you just have to check out the thumbnails on the bottom of the page
speaking of bottoms
that is the shot
the french have their backsides to the camera

weird , official photo to post

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 05:57 PM

Mr Rick Hi.Players that waste mental energy on court usually find themselves on the wrong end of the score board.I feel too Novak has to find a balance.

Posted by Matt Zemek 09/16/2010 at 05:58 PM

1963USCTennis:

How about we let the careers play out in the fullness of time?

I have (and have had) my opinions on the matter - shared mostly last year; nothing recent - but I did go on record on July 8, 2007, as saying that Nadal would reach the very highest pantheon of the sport.

We gonna see, no?

:-)

Posted by Mr Rick 09/16/2010 at 05:59 PM

C
B
S

Can't
Broadcast tennis for
Sh*&

Posted by lollipop 09/16/2010 at 06:02 PM

thanks for this,Pete. After the final,it felt bitter sweet. Nole had turned a corner. he was fighting like crazy. he was hitting 92mph FH winners. but still not good enough. either way, this is a million times better than Nole 2009 would have played. I'm so glad he's 'reinvented' himself...I've missed his attacking, agressive play so much. After all, that is what drew me to him in the first place. For sure my favorite memory as a tennis fan is now those 2 match points against Roger. I never thought he could do that. It was amazing to see that from him.
going forward, I have no idea what to expect from Nole. He's tricky like that. get your hopes up, he'll crush them. don't believe, he'll prove you wrong. I hope he proves me wrong for the rest of year, and for many more years to come :)

Posted by Mr Rick 09/16/2010 at 06:04 PM

"We've got nothing better to do
Then set it up so that the players get screwed"

Grant - LOL!

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 06:08 PM

I'm not sure I entirely agree it was a waste of energy - admittedly I watched the final through a haze of exhaustion (and wine) - but a lot of the time I think reacting can actually give one energy; a release for whatever's getting tangled up inside.

Not always of course. There has to be a balance.

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 06:09 PM

Beth - I'm not at all opposed to shooting the French team from the back, I just wish they'd zoomed in a little :)

Posted by NP 09/16/2010 at 06:10 PM

I've commented before on how Goran is underrated as a baseliner (he ain't no Ivo Karlovic of the '90s!), but one aspect of his game that I think deserves special here is his return game. Revisit the '92 Wimby final and you'll see some spectacular returns along with the familiar aces. I also remember when he pulled off 4 passing shots to break Sampras in the 4th set of the '98 Wimby final, which remains, at least in my viewing experience, the best return game I've ever seen anyone play against the grass-court great in SW19. But like Pete himself Goran gambled and took huge cuts on his RoS, so it was often a win/lose proposition. Which often led to abrupt points, which in turn drew yawns when the two played each other on grass.

Of course, there was always the possibility that the Crazy Goran would make his un/welcome appearance, as he did in the '98 final committing a whopping 20 DFs and ultimately suffering, in his own words, the most painful loss of his career. (I still remember wondering if Verdasco could break Goran's "record" in his embarrassment of a match against Davydenko at this year's AO. I believe he fell just short of claiming the distinction by himself.) But we all know the most joyful triumph of Goran's career came on the same (not surface-wise) hallowed ground three years later.

If Goran had Rafa's or even Roddick's mentality, Sampras probably would be looking at fewer than 7 Wimbledon trophies right now (not literally--I think those trophies are now enshrined at the Tennis HoF Museum).

One of Goran's serving exhibitions:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKIUYkop5tY

P.S. Watch Goran's aces at 0:18 and 4:16 and and the serve readings afterward. They registered a mere 210 and 204 kmh respectively, which would equal about 126-130 mph. You can bet that serves that big would not clock in so low on the radar guns today.

Posted by beth 09/16/2010 at 06:12 PM

joining gauloises in the shallow end of the pool :)

however, they included way too many of the older coaches in the photo
I did not need to see that

Posted by NP 09/16/2010 at 06:22 PM

I'll leave y'all with some nifty stats. There are only 7 instances (and 5 separate players) in the Open era where the champions lost only 1 set en route to their USO title:

Nadal - '10
Lendl - '85, '86 & '87
McEnroe - '79
Vilas - '77
Connors - '76

I believe Nadal shares the record with Roddick of losing serve the fewest times (five) at the USO.

But there's only one player since '91 to win a major while losing serve only twice:

the one and only Pistol Pete

'97 Wimbledon.

Mwahahahahahahaha! Nadal who?

Later.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 06:30 PM

NP Yes you are correct with that stat shared with Rafa and Roddick.If Rafa won in straight sets at the USO he would have become the first player I believe in the Open Era.Last person to win in straight sets was Aussie Neale Fraser in 1960.

Of course there is always Pistol Pete like who could ever forget him

Bye!

Posted by TMFunk (formerly the prone-to-error typing TheMightyFunk) 09/16/2010 at 06:32 PM

Kombo@4:51 pm - "please don't even half-heartedly try to rationalize asterixes" - I guess I wasn't particularly articulate with my post. There was zero attempt to "rationalize" asterixes. Only a resigned attempt to describe why I think they were unfairly applied to Federer in the first place that I thought had been left out in Andrew's original post.

CL, jewell, zenggi - Sorry to have made your life a bit harder than it need be. I aim to please, so I present to you - TMFunk! :)

p.s jewell: I hope you didn't think I was actually offended by the addition of the 'y'. I don't take offense very easily, even less so about a fictitious nickname. :)

Posted by Sherlock 09/16/2010 at 06:32 PM

So Lendl only lost 3 sets from '85-'87 at the USO? That's rather insane. :)

Posted by Sherlock 09/16/2010 at 06:34 PM

Btw, AM, yes, I saw your note and thanks. I got busy with work and forgot to respond. But I doubt that surprises you. :)

Posted by TMFunk (formerly the prone-to-error typing TheMightyFunk) 09/16/2010 at 06:35 PM

kwaku @5:51 pm - hmmm...since I qualify on both counts, I'm intrigued...

** off to read kwaku's post on previous thread**

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 06:36 PM

Sherlock Thanks.Well at least keeping busy at work keeps you from other things.Which I wont go into.

Posted by Glenn 09/16/2010 at 06:36 PM

Who is this pistol guy NP keeps talking about. Was he a famous tennis player ?

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 06:38 PM

Glenn LOL! Please dont start

Posted by Sherlock 09/16/2010 at 06:38 PM

AM, lol. I appreciate that. :)

Glenn, some has-been with a huge serve and nothing else. Think Isner. :)

Posted by Mary Lennon 1980 09/16/2010 at 06:40 PM

My two cents worth. Congratulations to Rafa Nadal, an inspiring performance. And also to Novak, he perservered and won many hearts. This heart, however, belongs to Roger Federer. I'm still bummed and depressed, but his flashes of brillance in this US Open made me happy to be a Federerphile. My favorite match was the Federer/Soderling match. Most of the time my mouth was hanging open due to Roger's awe-inspiring play and total concentration in horrible conditions.
But on to the TV coverage. F minus! CBS should be ashamed of their so called "coverage". Tennis to CBS is a bas----child. How many of you had to scramble on Labor Day to find any matches? Our local CBS affiliate aired the Jerry Lewis telethon (I support the MD foundation, so please don't come down too hard on me )butI had to watch the US Open on our "doppler weather channel". Pathetic. ESPN has the best broadcasters in Fowler, Cahill, Gilbert (when he remembers to take his pill beforehand)and Patrick McEnroe. They are a well-oiled team and they deserve to take the Grand Slam coverage to the finish line.Last but not least, PLEASE, Johnny Mac, give it a rest. After two weeks, my head was pounding with every syllable you uttered, and you uttered many, many syllables, non stop, non stop. I swear, if Jimmy Conners had not been broadcasting on the Tennis Channel, JMac would have found a way to cover a few matches. Matt Zemek, I like your comments (Andrew, too) Where can we, write, call or email to put this CBS debaucle to bed for good?

Posted by Amber 09/16/2010 at 06:41 PM

Not sure if this has been posted:
Slam Power Rankings
http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/usopen10/columns/story?columnist=ubha_ravi&id=5575202

Posted by manuelsantanafan 09/16/2010 at 06:42 PM

Visual confirmation that there are asterisks on at least the first 14 of Federer's titles in the majors:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQbyDGHlTd4

Look closely. If you can't see the asterisks, schedule an appointment with an opthamologist.

Btw, before I visited this blog, I always mispelled "asterik."

And, Maris getting more than 154 games to hit 60 home runs: Big Fat Asterisk. Then again, I believe Ruth was awarded one or more home runs in his 60 HR season that would have been ground rule doubles under modern day scorekeeping. But, on the other hand, Ruth "lost" some HRs due to the "last seen" rule.

In the end, both Ruth and Maris are justifiably famous and Ruth was able to finance the happy-go-lucky lifestyle he so much enjoyed.

(Save ink. "Mispell" only needs one "s.")

Posted by Amber 09/16/2010 at 06:47 PM

"some has-been with a huge serve"

That was funny!

Great to appreciate players from previous eras but there is always the risk of not paying enough attention to what is going on in the present.
Hopefully those who seem to live in the past do pay enough attention to be able to bring up today's players into the conversation 20 years from now. :)

Posted by Glenn 09/16/2010 at 06:47 PM

AM & Sherlock : Just could not resist that one ;)

Posted by Matt Zemek 09/16/2010 at 06:48 PM

NP:

And you call this the weak era.

Sampras's 1997 Wimby draw - off the top of my head - finished with Woodbridge in the semis and a middle-aged (not-too-sprightly) Pioline in the final.

The rest I'd have to look up.

My blood hasn't quickened, my temperature hasn't risen, but my eyebrows did assume a... shall we say.... Nadal-like position (following a curious question from the press) when I saw 1997 Wimbledon used as something of a feather in Pete's cap.

:-)

:-)

(PS - I do think this is a weak era, by the way. I just don't think the mid-to-late 1990s was appreciably better.)

Cheers!

Posted by Kate 09/16/2010 at 06:52 PM

Just say no to asterisks. Forever.

(I am also a firm no-goater.)

It hit me the other day. I have been witness to two (2! II!) men completing the career slam in as many years. How long since the last one?

We live in a priviledged time, my dears. We are witnesses.

Posted by Game Lover (Let's go Rafa, let's go!) 09/16/2010 at 06:53 PM

Indeed Nole played courageously, but he simply didn't have the stamina to keep up with Rafa!

Like Pspace put it: "too much energy on the other side of the net".

Even the set he took, it was due more to the rain delay then anything.

And this was happening while Rafa was clearly more nervous then usually, proof being his poor play when he had BPs and he's low early, during the second set.

Nole's FH's were better, his BH were surprises for Rafa and also his ROS were superior to Rafa's. So lack of stamina and also the fact Carillio mentioned that one "can't red line all the time"...

Rafa being so strong (see his off balance BHs), Zen master and with that unique technique in top spins (plus other improvements, such as serve, volleys, flatter FH etc), he was simply too much for Nole in 3 out of 5 sets, after the former beat Roger...

Besides, everybody and I mean everybody (including Nole probably) wanted Rafa to achieve his GS....

Posted by Game Lover (Let's go Rafa, let's go!) 09/16/2010 at 06:54 PM

Indeed Nole played courageously, but he simply didn't have the stamina to keep up with Rafa!

Like Pspace put it: "too much energy on the other side of the net".

Even the set he took, it was due more to the rain delay then anything.

And this was happening while Rafa was clearly more nervous then usually, proof being his poor play when he had BPs and he's low early, during the second set.

Nole's FH's were better, his BH were surprises for Rafa and also his ROS were superior to Rafa's. So lack of stamina and also the fact Carillio mentioned that one "can't red line all the time"...

Rafa being so strong (see his off balance BHs), Zen master and with that unique technique in top spins (plus other improvements, such as serve, volleys, flatter FH etc), he was simply too much for Nole in 3 out of 5 sets, after the former beat Roger...

Besides, everybody and I mean everybody (including Nole probably) wanted Rafa to achieve his GS....

Posted by Sherlock 09/16/2010 at 07:01 PM

Glenn, he he. Well done. :)

Amber, I couldn't resist. :) Though I think Sampras was about as good as it gets. I think people DO often forget how great he was.

That said, the Woodbridge semi and Pioline final, from Matt's post, must have been pretty tricky for Pete. :)

Someone throw Pete a belated cupcake with asterisk sprinkles.

Posted by Amber 09/16/2010 at 07:05 PM

Sherlock,

Pete was great indeed. I was/am a fan but that was then and this is now, if you know what I mean.

Posted by Kwaku 09/16/2010 at 07:08 PM

"After you spend a few years in chains, you might find their rattle musical."
Lol, Pete, is that yours?

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 07:08 PM

Amber I wish you could convey those thoughts to my hubby

He still sleeps with Petes auto biography under his pillow and when goes away to work takes the same book with him

In ways my life has been living with 2 Peters.Yes you guessed my hubbys name is also Pete.

Posted by ladyjulia 09/16/2010 at 07:11 PM

If Fed's FO 2009 win is asterisked because its an acknowledgment that he was lucky, I don't really mind.

Ofcourse he was lucky.

But do we take the trophy away from him? No.
Do we take the ranking points away from him? No.
Will he be known in history as having 15 slams instead of 16? Nope.

So, the media can asterisk for all they want. As long as they say that Fed has 16 slams, they are acknowledging he won it fair and square.

To be fair to the media, I heard asterisking more last year...but this year, haven't noticed it as a theme among commentators, print media etc. I think it will soon be forgotten.


Posted by ladyjulia 09/16/2010 at 07:12 PM

*off to read all the comments on asterisk issue*

Posted by Amber 09/16/2010 at 07:14 PM

AM,
LOL! I feel for you! Having one Pete obsessed with another Pete has got to be challenging.

Seriously though, all these great players of yesteryear and today are unique in their own ways but this is Rafa's time!

Posted by ladyjulia 09/16/2010 at 07:15 PM

Pete,

"But let's remember, 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro is the only man other than Djokovic to have won a major since Djokovic first played one (Australian Open 2005)."

What JMDP did is phenomenal. Also, its easy to forget that JMDP was double bageled at the AO 2009 QF. To get over that hump (it must have been terribly demoralizing) and fight it out for full five sets in a final of a major is big for a 20 yr old.

Posted by ladyjulia 09/16/2010 at 07:20 PM

"He was, in my view, more tired than he knew, but men are capable of doing extraordinary things when properly motivated."

I really didn;t see Djokovic physically out of it at all. He didn't look tired in my opinion. And he had a day of rest. He is a professional, young tennis player. If he is going to be tired (emotions driving the physical tiredness) after a 3 and a half hr five setter and getting a day of rest, its sad.

He's got to step up to the occasion no matter what the situation is.

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 07:23 PM

"Also, its easy to forget that JMDP was double bageled at the AO 2009 QF."

Not for me :)

Posted by Tuulia 09/16/2010 at 07:23 PM

I disagree with Pete and agree with Colette - Nole's fabulous effort was not ignored. It was praised during and after the match by commentators, and has been praised in just about every article I've seen about that match. Apparently everyone agrees he played great, fought valiantly until the end, and showed a lot of heart during the match. Also, he was truly graceful in defeat right after the match finished, during the trophy ceremony, and in his presser, which has also been widely recognized.


Jewell "Rafa's problem at the USO wasn't in the shape of one single player, and to me, not going through Roger to take the title wouldn't make anyone think about asterisking."

This is true. Previous years it was more a question of when Rafa would lose at USO, not if or to whom. I certainly never expected him to win it - until this year. USO was named as a target months ago by Toni (can't remember when... early this year, or even sometime late last year?), and later named as such by Rafa, too. This sort of thing has happened before, so I expected it again... he really, really aims for something, really wants it, sets his heart on it - he gets it. Anyway, Rafa's pre-USO hc form didn't exactly inspire confidence, but his actual play at USO starting from the 1st rd did - he usually gets better during a slam, so it was to be expected to happen this time, too, and it did. Healthy, well rested, visibly happy, playing better than ever at USO, and on a mission... Well, mission accomplished. This year, unlike any previous one at USO, it really would have been an upset if he hadn't won it - regadless of who he was playing. As for the opponent in the final, I think Nole is a worse match-up for Rafa than Roger, we all probably got a better match with Nole in it than we would have with Roger. No disrespect to Roger, but when Nole is playing really well - like he was at this USO - he can be a nightmare for Rafa... and not only on hc, either. Even tho so far he has never beaten Rafa on natural surfaces, there have been some almighty battles. With Nole in the final, the post-match proceedings were no doubt also better. ;) I thought I'd miss Roger in the final, but I did not.


*waves at lollipop* Your guy was awesome, lots to be proud about.

Posted by Sherlock 09/16/2010 at 07:29 PM

Amber, I do. :)

Lol, G. If you'd like, I could give you some tips on the best ways to forget a match ever happened?

Once upon a time, there was this young Spaniard who got 6 games against an Argentine fireman....

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 07:31 PM

Does it involve drinking a lot? Because I keep trying that and still ...

"Once upon a time, there was this young Spaniard who got 6 games against an Argentine fireman...."

I like this story so far :) What happened next?

Posted by Sherlock 09/16/2010 at 07:36 PM

"What happened next?"

I always knew, deep down inside, you were cold and heartless. :)

Posted by ladyjulia 09/16/2010 at 07:37 PM

Sherlock,

"I kind of wish Pete would give it an asterisk, just so all of Fedal is on equal footing. "

Nooooo...that would be setting a trend, no? We don't want it to percolate. I think media has already forgotten it this year. Sure, it was upsetting last year...but if its soon forgotten, nobody will dig it up.

Now..Pete apologizing for it...that would be a positive trend. :-)

But whatever, as long as Pete dosen't rob Fed's house and take the replica of the Coupe de Mousquetier (forgive spelling) away..its fine. And I DARE the ATP/ITF to put an asterisk when they list the FO champions.

Posted by Sherlock 09/16/2010 at 07:37 PM

Though actually the next part didn't bother me half as much as the 6 games. :)

Posted by ladyjulia 09/16/2010 at 07:39 PM

gauloises, but it made USO sweeter,no?

There's nothing like snatching away something from a guy who gave you a beatdown 9 months ago. Revenge is a dish best served sweet, no?

Posted by Glenn 09/16/2010 at 07:42 PM

AM: As a joke, you should put Agassi's book underneath your hubby's pillow ! Then record his reaction on Video. Lastly, please post it here so we can all have a good time. :)

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 07:44 PM

I suppose :) I didn't really feel the revenge thing though. Just amazed at how far he came in one season.

Sherlock, I never knew that was even remotely a secret :)

Posted by John 09/16/2010 at 07:54 PM

Once upon a time, there was this joung Spaniard that beat 14 times to the player than someones considered to him like the GOAT

Once upon a time, there was this Spaniard young player that was out of the court for several months because a bad injury and when he came back he wasn't ready 100% even 60% to play and then he got games against an Argentine fireman and other players

Posted by Sherlock 09/16/2010 at 07:55 PM

Lol. Well, I can be a bit slow at times, but I've certainly seen the light now. :)

Posted by ladyjulia 09/16/2010 at 07:56 PM

CL,

"Roger showed up at PLENTY of FO finals to get his hat and head handed to him by Rafa, whereas Rafa, until this year was no where to be seen at the USO finals - yet somehow this is a mark against Roger..not Rafa...Go figure."

But this is Roger's fault,no? And it is a mark against Roger, IMO.

The thing is that its Roger trying to unskew the H2H...not the other way around. Rafa can do as he pleases w.r.t the H2H. He is in the advantageous position by already racking up 14 wins.

Its upto Roger now to do everything in his power to equalize the H2H. If Rafa didn't make the finals of USO for six years, its not Roger's fault but it does affect him (assuming that Fed would have won here sometimes) and it only affects him because his H2H with Rafa is so skewed. The one year Rafa does make the finals, it was upto Roger to show up and win. If he loses, he gets buried even more. If he misses, its still 14-7.

Roger loses in both situations. The only advantageous situation for Roger is now to meet up with Rafa and win. Rafa can do as he pleases w.r.t that H2H and he will still be in a position of advantage. Its the other guy who has to step up.

And that is because Roger got behind in that H2H in the first place. He's got to pay for it one way or the other. The other rival cannot be blamed for it because he has already proven whatever he wanted to prove w.r.t H2H. So, it is a mark against Roger that he had one chance to decrease the skewness, and he failed at it. What happened previous six years at USO w.r.t H2H becomes irrelevant. Sure, Fed would have won sometimes if Rafa had reached the USO final few yrs back...but when it finally fell into Fed's hand for that chance, he failed at it.

I think I am "for" putting a mark against Roger for it.

Posted by TMFunk (formerly the prone-to-error typing TheMightyFunk) 09/16/2010 at 07:57 PM

kwaku - If you are around: left you a comment on the previous post

Posted by £££ 09/16/2010 at 07:57 PM

from yahoo.com (comment page)

Fed said he is so jealous that Novak got to hug and rub Nadal after losing to him.
He says "I would have been a better loser, I would have given him 4 kisses, one for each cheek."

oh ha ha. I liked this. For the record, I did not write the above fictional report from Fed; it's from the yahoo's comment page.

Posted by Tuulia 09/16/2010 at 07:57 PM

That video claudia cg posted on page 1... I never saw that moment on tv (it wasn't in the tv coverage I was getting), but had heard about it and saw it earlier today for the first time. Lovely stuff. Now watching it again... and was comparing Nole's face at the start and a few seconds of Rafa consolation later... :)

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 07:57 PM

Glenn I have Agassi's book and Peter did read it.Hmmmm some of his comments are not printable here lol!

Posted by Sherlock 09/16/2010 at 07:58 PM

Oh, John.

Posted by Glenn 09/16/2010 at 08:01 PM

AM: WOW ! Your hubby is hard core. At least you got Rafa.

On a different note

Posted by John 09/16/2010 at 08:02 PM

Oh, Sherlock.

Posted by Glenn 09/16/2010 at 08:04 PM

On a different note, i wonder how a healthy DelPo would have fared at this years rather windy US Open ?

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