Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Two "Characters" in Search of a Semi
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Two "Characters" in Search of a Semi 11/27/2010 - 9:51 AM

Novak

by Hannah Wilks, TW Contributing Writer

Sometimes you expect much more from a match than it delivers. This has been the case a lot this week, whether because of the weaknesses and flaws inherent in the round robin format or because sometimes it just happens that way. The strength of the ATP is so concentrated in its elite players that even among the top eight, a natural division has quickly emerged between the best and the rest. Three semi-finalists have already been settled, with the fourth to be determined by tonight's clash.

Surely this one won't disappoint. Two players from whom one never knows quite what to expect; Novak Djokovic, an unpredictable firecracker, prone to lapses of concentration and bizarre physical reversals, and Roddick, the workhorse who can be relied upon to give his all, but whose game can run the gamut from almost unbeatable to ineffectual.

Their head-to-head is 5-2 in Roddick's favour, which in theory looks one-sided, but most of those wins have come for the American during Djokovic's prolonged slump. I understand it's strange to use the word to describe the progress of a consistent trophy-lifter who has been, during his 'decline', as high as no. 2 in the world. But since Wimbledon 2008, Djokovic's game has touched for periods on every variant of toothless. His serve has been broken down and rebuilt, he's visibly struggled for confidence. He's often looked like a shadow of the cocky upstart who barged on to a world stage dominated by Federer and Nadal and demanded that they yield the floor.

But all of that has seemed like ancient history since Djokovic's September resurgence in New York, wher he defeated Federer and stretched Nadal in the final of the US Open. Surely this time he can take it to Roddick.

An extra frisson is added by the fact that at times these two don't seem to like each other very much. Whatever latent animosity exist came to the fore following Djokovic's last victory over Roddick at the 2008 US Open, when the Serb's attempts to retaliate against Roddick's mockery saw him booed by the New York crowds. That the spat was public seems inevitable, as both have well-deserved reputations for being entertainers, earned with Djokovic's impersonations and willingness to make fun of himself, Andy Roddick's sardonic wit in press conferences and on chat shows. They're frequently referred to as 'characters', actively seeking to be larger than life.

One thing that doesn't disappoint is Djokovic's entrance. Aware of the fact that the abiding impression he has made this week came when contact lens problems derailed what promised to be a classic encounter with Nadal, he takes the court accessorizing his grave expression with a rakish black eye patch. Solemnly letting the small mascot lead him to his chair, he fits the eyepatch on to her head and sends her on her way. It's possible to read the stunt as a plea for affection, but the twitch of his lips, betraying his own enjoyment, suggests that in the final analysis he did it because he knew he would relish the joke more than anyone. It's a generous piece of slapstick, and the crowd love it. It's hard to imagine Roddick doing the same thing.

There's an odd, tense atmosphere. The crowd are more well-oiled than usual, enthusiastic but ragged, with no consensus favorite. Someone yells out during Djokovic's service motion and is roundly tutted for his pains. On the evidence of the first few games, it's going to be a proper tussle - maybe not in terms of quality of tennis, but it promises to be a prolonged bout of psychological grappling. Roddick pushes from the baseline, mixing up spins and pace, giving the Serb all the rope he needs to hang himself. It works; the rallies end more often than not with an error from Djokovic. Seduced into these circuitous exchanges, Djokovic's aggressive instincts seem to desert him. It's puzzling;  how can Djokovic be out-defended when he's so much better at it? The simple answer is that Roddick seems to bring out the worst in Djokovic.

But Djokovic has come a long way. He rapidly gathers himself and finds purpose and aggression. As soon as he starts hitting forehands moving forward into the court, everything is different. You expect Roddick to hold his ground, but as soon as he meets with resistance, he crumbles, giving up the first service break with a backhand slice that drifts wide. He holds the next game, but cannot find the wherewithal to finish points. At one point, he was obliged to wait for Djokovic's third defensive, desperate lob to get the miss. Roddick gives up the set - and I do mean gives up - with another unforced error long over the baseline, and we plunge deep into the realms of the anti-climactic.

Djokovic has qualified for the semi-finals, and he knows it. All that is left on the line for the American is pride. It seems like that should be enough, but he still cannot capitalise on the momentary lack of attention with which Djokovic starts the second set. In fact, it's the American who is lacking in intensity. The usual audible heavy breathing, the huffing and puffing like a steam engine which seems to get him around the court, is absent. After a failed Hawkeye challenge, Roddick stares at the umpire with obvious displeasure. The crowd cheers, hoping for Roddick to shed his patience and get fired up. But his unbelievably passive play continues. Roddick has had his health issues this year, but this seems almost a trend, and it's worrying. How can such an energetic and forceful person play so timidly?

One could also ask how someone as complex as Djokovic, with all the faults and fissures of his past, can play a game so miraculously smooth? I could watch him hit all night, not that Roddick seems likely to enable it. I've been searching for an image that describes the flight of his groundstrokes, when it comes to me; the limpid parabola of a stone skimmed across water. There's so much talent evident in every stroke. It's exciting to watch, simply because we don't know yet how his week, his year, his career, will turn out.

Roddick, it is plain, has no surprises left. He makes a gallant last stand to hold his final service game, but succumbs on yet another unforced error long over the baseline. He leaves London with no wins, but the crowd cheer him out of the arena with an affection that clearly demonstrates that Roddick is best-liked these days as a plucky loser.

Djokovic stays to chat, joking with the crowd, friendly and adrenaline-drunk. He's twenty-three years old and has proved he has the ability to stay in the mix; he has unnumbered chances left to shape the rest of his story. Roddick's opportunities are growing few and far between; his time in London has already run out.   


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Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 11/27/2010 at 04:40 PM

What a volley!

Posted by Blue moon 11/27/2010 at 04:40 PM

YES woo that was lovely.

Posted by x-fan 11/27/2010 at 04:40 PM

2 more BPs for Fed. Surely he can convert?!

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 04:40 PM

Break here Fed..

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 04:40 PM

Now that the way to play a volley dead? Thank You Roger

Posted by WTF 11/27/2010 at 04:40 PM

Man the way the sliced that volley, like a knife. Followed of course by dumping a ball in the net.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 04:40 PM

What is with Fed and breakpoints???? What is this love affair with the net?

Posted by Blue moon 11/27/2010 at 04:41 PM

Oh come on, Fed! What is your BP conversion, like, 3/20?

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 04:41 PM

2 BPs for Fed. And there's a 2nd serve again! Nole's lucky Fed's been obliging on BPs so far. It's gonna catch up eventually.

Posted by Blue moon 11/27/2010 at 04:41 PM

WOOOO! FEDAL FINAL FEDAL FINA-- okay okay still getting ahead of self.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 04:41 PM

Just don't get broken Fed...

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 04:42 PM

Roger just steps around and nails that one and he gets the break

Allez Roger

Posted by x-fan 11/27/2010 at 04:42 PM

Phew! I was starting to worry he would let Nole off the hook again.
One more game...

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 04:42 PM

Yup, Fed takes it this time. Nole, you're a dumbass. Make sure to work on your serve before the DC finals, and during the off-season.

Fed to serve for the match. 5-4.

Posted by crazyone 11/27/2010 at 04:42 PM

oh man, I see I missed some awesome play from Fed.

Let's see if he can serve it out.

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal in sight. Yum! Yikes! 11/27/2010 at 04:42 PM

His Majesty, the mythical bird with all its beauty and beastliness is on the prowl again folks. Isn't there a better sight! Is there!

Posted by izidane-It's t-shirt tyyyyyyyyyme! Nole face/hawk shirt on. 11/27/2010 at 04:42 PM

Crap. Fight back Nole!

Lol, feels futile even as I type it.

Posted by Northernboy 11/27/2010 at 04:43 PM

Does anyone else notice how Djokovic plays much smarter, high percentage tennis when he's defending BPs?

I mean jesus - Fed's 4/10 this match, Rafa was 4/28 or something insane in their USO final. And Nole was 1/1 here, 3/3 in New York. Great BP conversion, but even if you're outplaying your opponent you're going to lose if you give them that many BPs.

And WTF Nole - twice in one game you let Fed run around the FH and hit straight down the court and you just stand there?

BREAK HIM BACK DAMN YOU!

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 04:43 PM

Allez..Fed

Posted by Northernboy 11/27/2010 at 04:44 PM

That's the way to play Nole, hit right at Fed and handcuff him on the FH side, it's the source of all Roger's shanks.

Posted by WTF 11/27/2010 at 04:44 PM

Those slomos are like tennis porn to me! They should make a DVD out of them: Best of Federer's FH, Nole's best stretches and grunts etc.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 04:44 PM

30-15...the suspense is killing me

Posted by Northernboy 11/27/2010 at 04:44 PM

Nole was in control of that 15-30 point but blew it.

Posted by crazyone 11/27/2010 at 04:44 PM

izidane, did you actually purchase one of those Nole/hawk t-shirts? That's hilarious, if you did :)

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 04:45 PM

Congrats Roger and to his fans well done for making the final

Roger has played well all week and still for me he is the one to beat here.

Bad luck Nole you tried though Roger when it mattered was too good today.

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 04:45 PM

ok, I had to go run an errand at 3-1 Nole in the second set, come back to find Fed serving for the set at 5-4? Exactly how did that happen??

Posted by crazyone 11/27/2010 at 04:46 PM

whoa, Federer-Nadal again.

Posted by RogerFebeRRRergetsme,uhIcan'tsayit 11/27/2010 at 04:46 PM

I'm probably the most ardent Rogie fan in my neck of the woods.

I RRReally, RRReally like him. Sometimes, when he's playing RRReally, RRReally well, he gets me, uh I can't say it.

Feddybear was so great today.

He is the overwhelming favorite against the Beastish One tomorrow.

Timothy, do you think the Beastish One will even win one game tomorrow?

Love you Feddybear.

Posted by WTF 11/27/2010 at 04:46 PM

FEDAL!

And can they stop with the revenge stuff? Dude has played Nole 3 times since the USO. I think he's over it!

Posted by adicecream 11/27/2010 at 04:46 PM

I don't see how anyone could not love Federer's play today.

Posted by Northernboy 11/27/2010 at 04:46 PM

Predict Federer gets trounced by Rafa tomorrow, even though I kind of hope he wins. Fed becomes a mental mouse against Rafa and his intelligent play will go out the window. Rafa just owns Fed, gets in his Fedhead.

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 04:46 PM

So we have a Fedal final. Rafa will need his USO serve if Fed plays at this level tomorrow. Should be a good one.

Later.

Posted by x-fan 11/27/2010 at 04:46 PM

And that does it!
We have a Fedal tomorrow!

On to DC for Novak. I will be rooting for him and his fellow Serbians.

Tomorrow will be intense on TW :)

Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 11/27/2010 at 04:47 PM

Brilliant play by the Federer!
Best match he's played all tournament.
Congrats to all my fellow Fed fans
Commies to Nole fans (including myself)
Also, I think Nole is a better returner than Murray

Posted by thebigapple 11/27/2010 at 04:47 PM

Yeah!!

May Fred continue to sleep with the fishes.

Fedal...do not expect too much Fedadorers...Roger has a match-up disadvanatge with Rafa Nadal. That has not changed.

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 11/27/2010 at 04:47 PM

Whoa!

Be afraid, Rafa. hehe

Federer cruising through this whole tournament.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/27/2010 at 04:48 PM

that must be the best 4 matches in a row Fed has ever played right?

clocking 4 Top 10ers, Ferrer, Sod, Murray and Djoker, pretty impressive...

but he's a big underdog tomorrow, again, good homework for 2011, give Annacone something to work with and strategize over ...

Posted by crazyone 11/27/2010 at 04:48 PM

what time is tomorrow's final?

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 04:48 PM

The last official match of the year..and its Fedal. The top 2 in the world.

These guys know how to end the year.

ps...excluding DC, talking about non-national competition.

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 04:51 PM

tba - I dunno - I feel Fed has a shot tomorrow...bring it on!

Posted by x-fan 11/27/2010 at 04:51 PM

Ladyjulia,
I have officially lost (but as you can see not really that bothered by it) ;-)

Hope Fed takes the title tomorrow but most of all I hope it's a competitive match. I'm more a fan of tennis than of any particular player.

Posted by izidane-It's t-shirt tyyyyyyyyyme! Nole face/hawk shirt on. 11/27/2010 at 04:51 PM

'Does anyone else notice how Djokovic plays much smarter, high percentage tennis when he's defending BPs?'

That he does and he's quite spectacular at it.

Congrats to Roger's fans, well played. Commies my fellow Nole fans, our boy was outplayed today. They were probably even for a game or two but the rest was all Roger.

I'll be in a van, down by the river with a bottle of wine.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/27/2010 at 04:51 PM

Except for the lapse in set 2 to lose his service game, and the breakpoints squandered (failing to convert after going up 40-0), this was an exemplary performance from Roger, playing at an astonishingly high level.

Unfortunately, his tendency to get tight on breakpoints, and the letdowns he has in at least one service game in a match (against Soderling as well as against Djokovic) will be costly against Rafa.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/27/2010 at 04:51 PM

Except for the lapse in set 2 to lose his service game, and the breakpoints squandered (failing to convert after going up 40-0), this was an exemplary performance from Roger, playing at an astonishingly high level.

Unfortunately, his tendency to get tight on breakpoints, and the letdowns he has in at least one service game in a match (against Soderling as well as against Djokovic) will be costly against Rafa.

Posted by x-fan 11/27/2010 at 04:51 PM

Ladyjulia,
I have officially lost (but as you can see not really that bothered by it) ;-)

Hope Fed takes the title tomorrow but most of all I hope it's a competitive match. I'm more a fan of tennis than of any particular player.

Posted by crazyone 11/27/2010 at 04:51 PM

it seems to be no earlier than 12:30 EST.

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 04:51 PM

what an end to the year...ATP and WTF could not have asked for more...

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 04:51 PM

tba - I dunno - I feel Fed has a shot tomorrow...bring it on!

Posted by x-fan 11/27/2010 at 04:52 PM

Oops sorry for the double. Typepad is making it hard to post.

Posted by VamosRafa 11/27/2010 at 04:52 PM

Well, I was wrong. Fed does feel confident about his chances against Rafa........this could be a repeat of Aus open'09.

Posted by RogerFebeRRRergetsme,uhIcan'tsayit 11/27/2010 at 04:52 PM

Timothy . . . .

Timothy . . . .

Feddybear is such a big favorite tomorrow.

Would I lose money betting on him?

Love you, Rogie

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 04:53 PM

xfan,

sorry about ur pick..but the Fed is determined...the guy didn't even smile after winning.

Don't have high hopes tomorrow though.

Wish I had a logical argument to convince myself about 14-7, 6 GS losses and 29 yrs old. I've already got that sinking feeling.

Posted by WTF 11/27/2010 at 04:53 PM

Hoping for a great battle tomorrow. #1 vs #2 as it should be.

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 04:53 PM

VamosRafa - Or Madrid 09...

Posted by Pspace 11/27/2010 at 04:53 PM

Is there any tennis on these days? ;-)

LOL....was kinda hoping for Mandy to tune Fed in the final. Guess I'll have to settle for Fedal.

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 11/27/2010 at 04:53 PM

Tomorrow, Rafa will have to bring Roger back down to planet Earth. Make it a grinding match, lefty forehand to one-handed backhand all day! Make him rally and rally and rally. Fed came up with some great winners off the backhand wing today. He'll have to do that over a dozen times each set tomorrow. Vamos!

Posted by Christopher 11/27/2010 at 04:53 PM

Very happy about that. This has a been a great YEC that has really separated the men from the boys, as it were.

I thrilled that there will be a Federer-Nadal final but I can't deny I'm getting nervous already. Federer has tended to follow up great matches with...um...not so great matches lately. Still, hoping for the best...

Posted by thebigapple 11/27/2010 at 04:54 PM

The old man is a big underdog tommorrow...I wonder if he can fashion himself a powerful two handed backhand to deal with the high serve to his backhand..or to expect when the forhand will come after he is pinned down on his backhandside for a while.

Come on Annacone, you have a few hours to teach him that.

Of course, you know...it is something when you are still in the heat of battle against guys 5 years and more your junior. Really the succeeding generation.

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 04:54 PM

ladyjulia - Those 7 didn't happen by accident :) 7 can become 8. Good news is it cannot become 6 :)

Posted by Kim (Swiss in Brisbane) 11/27/2010 at 04:54 PM

Commies to Andy and Nole. Especially Andy that was a tight affair.
Well, my nightmare came true. Another Rafa vs Rogi.
Congrats to Rafa and Roger!

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal in sight. Yum! Yikes! 11/27/2010 at 04:55 PM

This is one incredible display of power, precision, grace and accuracy.

FEDAL it is!

We need moderators on riot police gear tomorrow. Horse mounted ones with tear gas shells.

Will be 8-14 or 7-15? A WTF no less!

That means these two have met everywhere except USO finals. I want this Fed to come to play. Should be an awesome match. Am drinking heavily. Can't sleep for zhite tonight...

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 04:55 PM

TMFunk,

Feeling optimistic, are we?

Don't know how you do it after 14 heartbreaking losses. Its not like Fed has a tactical solution, no? What's he gotta do to win?

Posted by x-fan 11/27/2010 at 04:55 PM

Ladyjulia,
It's fine. I don't think about the overall h2h in this case.
This is 3 sets on an indoor court and Fed while playing later had a much easier match. I really think he can win tomorrow. The top 2 seem about equally determined to me. Should be a good one!

Posted by CL 11/27/2010 at 04:55 PM

Wow! Except for that little burst of 'I think I'll see what its like to try and play while using only the frame of my racket' at the beginning of the second set, that was a pretty impressive display from Mr. Federer. Were there even shades of TMF? Yup, I think so. (Sometimes I think Fed fans are almost scared to acknowledge TMF when he does show up for fear that he will vanish again to be replaced by Fred.) His BH was especially immaculate today and he will need that...and a good deal more tomorrow. But that's then and this is now - a good time to appreciate the Mightyness that is Fed.

Posted by izidane-It's t-shirt tyyyyyyyyyme! Nole face/hawk shirt on. 11/27/2010 at 04:55 PM

crazyone- lol. I'm wearing it in spirit form. No I did't buy one, but if I go to USO and find someone selling it..I'm game. Just didn't want to leave Papa Nole hanging.

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl VAMOS RAFA WINNER OF ALL FOUR GRAND SLAMS) 11/27/2010 at 04:56 PM

and finally it happens! we can all rest in peace now and hold each others hand in a colourful kumbaya frazzle fest tomorrow! oh dear....
when was the last time rafa beat federer? when was the last time federer beat nadal? oh the possibilities, we'll all cry our hearts out one way or the other!!!

WOOHOOO FEDAALLLLLL IS A GO!!!! VAMOS RAFA!

Posted by thebigapple 11/27/2010 at 04:56 PM

Funky, of course, he has a chance. He is playing, ain't he? :)

Even you and I would have a chance. :)))) (microscopic!)

Posted by lightforce 11/27/2010 at 04:57 PM

Congrats to all the Roger fans and as far as the fans of Nole, hope and pray your guy and the other Serbs win the DC next week.

Good match tomorrow.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 04:59 PM

TMFunk,

Hmm..I think this is Annacone's big test. Does he have a tactical solution for the Fed or not.

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 11/27/2010 at 04:59 PM

So it's everyone else's dream final, after all. Congrats to all of you, may Naderer meet another few dozen times to catch Martina and Chrissie.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 04:59 PM

Pspace Is that really you>

*faints*

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 04:59 PM

ladyjulia - If it was that hopeless it would be 21-0, no? Yes, the matchup issue exists, but not in isolation as the only factor contributing to the H2H. Surface, confidence, rhythm matter too. I feel Fed has a shot? Odd-on favourite to win? Of course not. But he's playing well enough on a surface that does not particularly play to Nadal's strengths to win.If he brings his A+ game, he can win. I am confident about that.

Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 11/27/2010 at 05:00 PM

The Fed is in the final for a reason.
He's damned good at what he does on this type of surface.
No frazzling from me.
I am confident in my guy besides its not as if he'll be surprised at the game plan.
Here's to a great match tomorrow.
Allez Roger.

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 05:00 PM

tba - lol! You maybe, not me!

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 05:01 PM

tba - lol! You maybe, not me!

Posted by GB 11/27/2010 at 05:01 PM

Wish I had a logical argument to convince myself about 14-7, 6 GS losses and 29 yrs old. I've already got that sinking feeling."

How about 3 hrs v 1hr, Fed looking fresh as a daisy while Rafa looked dead from the 2nd set onwards; 2 -0 to Fed in indoor matches; and a low bouncing court. I match your sinking feeling:)

Posted by kbw 11/27/2010 at 05:02 PM

Nice of Fed to wish Nole well in Davis Cup. If Serbia wins that this loss will be a dim memory. Fed has had only one tight set all week and should be fresh for tomorrow and two minor walkabouts. Go Fed!

Posted by Pspace 11/27/2010 at 05:02 PM

LOL, AM. Hey! Oui, c'est moi. How's it going? Haven't been watching much tennis these days. Guess I'll have to watch tomorrow. What's up with you? How's Rafa looking? I'm guessing he's gonna win tomorrow ;-)

Posted by thebigapple 11/27/2010 at 05:02 PM

The Nadal nation are already picking out their party clothes. The Fedadorers are nervously trying to look composed.

That lucky Spaniard does have a shot that goes like an arrow to one of Roger's most classic shots...Rafa built his career on that shot.

Whatever, we will be with Fed in force. Yield not.

Yup, there will be blood.

Posted by GB 11/27/2010 at 05:03 PM

You didn't watch Rafa-Muzz Pspace?!

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/27/2010 at 05:04 PM

Congrats to Roger anded his fans. Commies tp Nole and his fans.

Sorry to say I dozed off mid way through the second set.

Posted by Hot Shot 11/27/2010 at 05:05 PM

Tim, what's to strategize, Feddy and Annacone both know what's coming, they just have to stop it!!!

Posted by GB 11/27/2010 at 05:05 PM

I hope Nole rebounds from lensgate/being totally outplayed here to win DC!

Posted by Pspace 11/27/2010 at 05:06 PM

GB, nope. Hehe...it was a nice morning in San Francisco...I figured I'd rather be running outside than watching tennis. And, I thought Muzz would lay an egg like he (apparently) did against Fudd. Sounds like it was a good match? ;-)

Posted by thebigapple 11/27/2010 at 05:07 PM

Do not worry about it, Lynne, we did not miss you. We managed.

Clean, elegant tennis does tire the eyeballs a bit.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 05:07 PM

Pspace Good thanks.Have you settled into your new abode ok?

Well Rafa v Murray was the tight encounter I thought it would be.Rafa down in the 3rd set t/breaker? though you know thats when he is at his best.The match point was just vintage Rafa.Murray had his chances and I was disappointed to see his lead get away in the 3rd set.

Moving on Well we have the final I guess we all have wished for.I hope its comepetive and both players play well.

I guess you will have to tune in.I will watch the match in peace like today and of course with "colm" lol!.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/27/2010 at 05:09 PM

Fred has had his worst year since 2003, and Rafa his best year EVER ... what part of 'favorite' dont Nads fans understand? he's the huge favorite, huge lead head to head, why cant you OWN it and step up?

he's No. 1 by a mile, and he should win this event, end of story ... any other angle is nonsense, but yes, of course, its a fascinating prospect because of who Federer is and what he's capable of (lets hope) ..

its all win win for Fed at this point, the pressure's off him now, he's got all the records, and me must personally relish this kind of chance ...

and we all know the crowd is gonna be totally in Fed's corner...

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/27/2010 at 05:11 PM

ladyjulia: "I think this is Annacone's big test. Does he have a tactical solution for the Fed or not."

Mental fortitude more than tactics will be the key, methinks. That's been Roger's downfall against Rafa more often than not. I think Roger is in great form. But, just as he played those mediocre points to lose triple breakpoint on the Djokovic serve - that could happen against Nadal tomorrow. And that is what Roger will need to avoid - he needs to block out the importance of the point from his mind, and keep the nerves at bay. It will be a touwith the form he has displayed in this tournament, victory is entirely possible. However, if he doesn't stay composed, he doesn't stand a chance.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/27/2010 at 05:11 PM

ladyjulia: "I think this is Annacone's big test. Does he have a tactical solution for the Fed or not."

Mental fortitude more than tactics will be the key, methinks. That's been Roger's downfall against Rafa more often than not. I think Roger is in great form. But, just as he played those mediocre points to lose triple breakpoint on the Djokovic serve - that could happen against Nadal tomorrow. And that is what Roger will need to avoid - he needs to block out the importance of the point from his mind, and keep the nerves at bay. It will be a touwith the form he has displayed in this tournament, victory is entirely possible. However, if he doesn't stay composed, he doesn't stand a chance.

Posted by GB 11/27/2010 at 05:12 PM

Well, if nearly killing me is a measure, then yeah Pspace:) Muzz was on fire to break Rafa in the second. Bromance you would have been happy to avoid at the end.

Posted by Pspace 11/27/2010 at 05:12 PM

AM, yeah, the new abode is great ;-). I'm lovin' all this great weather.

*off to take a walk*

Later every1. Don't over-frazzle!

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 05:12 PM

TMFunk,

The problem is that Fed can never play his A game with Rafa because of the matchup issue. So, its not really what he really brings A or A+..its what he can implement against Rafa.

And if there was something he could implement against Rafa..he would have tried it by now.

If this was Rafa from 2005, sure...Fed would win on indoor...because Rafa at least had some deficiencies then. Now, he's even stronger and he'll do the same thing to Fed what he has been doing for 6 years.

I mean sure Fed has a chance...I will grant that. He will have his chances ofcourse. He might even have 17 breakpoints...who knows. But winning? Sure, he'll have a chance.

But I wouldn't bet any money on it.

GB,

Rafa is a 24 yr old, in good health. If he can't recover from tiredness for the match tomorrow to play with a 29 yr old who won't finish his press duties till 11 pm tonight...he dosen't deserve to be #1 then. There have been other #1s who played till late night and still turned up to play the finals next day. And they find a way to win. That's what #1s do. Tiredness is not an issue for a 24 yr old who is #1. Just look at other #1s in the past.

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 11/27/2010 at 05:13 PM

GB: lensgate? Come on, turning up yesterday in an eye patch was a clear indication that he had already rebounded from that.

Now, sure, this was my turn for frazzling and disappointment. But in Novak's case, there's next week - and next year, etc. The future.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/27/2010 at 05:13 PM

GB: "How about 3 hrs v 1hr, Fed looking fresh as a daisy while Rafa looked dead from the 2nd set onwards; 2 -0 to Fed in indoor matches; and a low bouncing court. "

Do you recall the Australian Open '09 final ? Enough said !

Posted by x-fan 11/27/2010 at 05:14 PM

Lynne,
You were probably tired from the drama this morning :)

Well talking about mental fortitude and as determined as Nadal has looked in this tourney he was in control of his semifinal match a couple of times and still allowed it to get to a tiebreak in the third set. I think he hasn't been all that composed himself.
We gonna see, no?


Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/27/2010 at 05:16 PM

ladyjulia: "I think this is Annacone's big test. Does he have a tactical solution for the Fed or not."

Mental fortitude more than tactics will be the key, methinks. That's been Roger's downfall against Rafa more often than not. I think Roger is in great form. But, just as he played those mediocre points to lose triple breakpoint on the Djokovic serve - that could happen against Nadal tomorrow. And that is what Roger will need to avoid - he needs to block out the importance of the point from his mind, and keep the nerves at bay. It will be a tough match even with his A game, but he can pull it out considering the form he has displayed in this tournament. However, if he doesn't stay composed, he doesn't stand a chance.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 05:17 PM

May I say every player even in a 3 set format when the game has been tight like it was today between Rafa and Murray goes through "up and down" periods in their level of play.I wasnt over worried with Rafa and I knew how much this means to him and he picked himslef up physically "when it mattered" thats the part I was wishing to see and he just brought it and took the match away from Murray.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/27/2010 at 05:18 PM

Oops ... sorry for the multiple posts. Don't know how that happened.

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 05:18 PM

ladyjulia - Got to say I disagree with you on this one. Except for FO 2008, all Fed/Nadal matches have been close. On clay, I agree the matchup issue of a clay-assisted heavy lefty topspin to the backhand makes it almost impossible for Fed to bring his A game. But on other surfaces, the matches I'd argue have been decided by a couple of points here and there or a drop in level by the Fed combined with Nadal's mental toughness rather than a tactical advantage due to the matchup issues. Thats just my thoughts...

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 05:18 PM

"Hehe...it was a nice morning in San Francisco...I figured I'd rather be running outside than watching tennis."

P, no wonder you're such a food Nazi. You belong in SanFran. Tell your city council to leave the rest of the nation alone.

The Rafa-Muzz match was quite good, though the level dropped off in the 3rd set. Among this yr's indoor matches, it'd be my 2nd pick after the Sod-Llodra SF at Paris.

And now that today's action is over, here are the money shots that I referred to in my 10,000-word essay earlier.

Pete's approach shot and volleys on Corretja's MP in the 5th-set TB of their '96 USO QF:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sua__p9kVtA#t=5m02s

Fed's I-O FH against Haas at the '09 FO:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KU6HzEw-E6I

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