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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 toronto2010 11/27/2010 at 06:36 PM

Federer over Nadal
6-4, 7-5

Posted by Diane 11/27/2010 at 06:39 PM

Hi all

I really enjoyed watching Roger play today, a bit like The Mighty Fed! As Nole is my second favorite, I felt for him but do hope he can win the DC. I didn't see Rafa's match but it seems that it was exciting.

Like Ruth, I must say that to read all these comments from fans of both players, looks like no one will win tomorrow.

I hope it will be Roger but the odds are not in his favor. He is playing well but so is the # 1 player in the world.

Rafa will not be tired for tomorrow's match.....have you all forgotten his 5 setter against Verdasco in Australia?

I will go to church in the A.M. and return and watch the match and hope Roger plays well. I may stay away from TW as I have a feeling that emotions may run high here!

Posted by toronto2010 11/27/2010 at 06:39 PM

If Roger wins tommorrow than it will be pretty impressive considering he is out of his prime and Nadal is in his prime. Although Roger is not the player he once was he is still able to dominate at a tournament that is the toughest to win. Yes folks it is tougher than a major because every match is like a major final. The winner tommorrow has a leg up for the beginning of next year at the Aussie Open. There will be tactical changes made tommorrow and they should be evident from the start.

Posted by toronto2010 11/27/2010 at 06:41 PM

Roger is 29 while Rafa is 24. Rafa played the first semifinal while Roger played the 2nd semifinal. All this is good for Roger because should he win he will have beat an in prime Rafa while he himself is not in his prime. BTW, I think the winner of tommorrow's match will have huge confidence going into Australia.

Posted by Master Ace 11/27/2010 at 06:41 PM

Sunday Order of Play from London:

Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi vs Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic at 10:30 AM
Rafael Nadal(71-9; 11-4) vs Roger Federer(64-13; 15-6) at 12:30 PM

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 06:44 PM

toronto2010,

It will not be impressive just because Roger is out of his prime.

He will be beating the winner of 3 GS this year, the #1 player who has 4000 points ahead of the field and the youngest career GS winner.

If Roger loses, its the same old story (seen it multiple times before).

But if he wins, its going to be huge.

Posted by Or 11/27/2010 at 06:44 PM

I was in the match. It was orgasmic. Point. I flove Rogi. I was cheering like mad. He must take it tomorrow! He has to!!!!! Full Flight Federer, from great seats, live.

The only thing the tournament lacks is reply on the big screens, I don't understand why they don't do it? They do it on the USO!

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 06:45 PM

Well Plexicushion is a comepelte different surface to this one for starters

Wher it actually suits Rafa's spin more

You cant compare a round robin format of 3 sets to 2 weeks in a GS slam

I wish it was the old days and this final should be best of 5 sets

Oh Well maybe one day again

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 06:45 PM

Or,

Great you had a wonderful time! Roger was sweet today.

Are you watching tomorrow?

Posted by adicecream 11/27/2010 at 06:50 PM

Or, I'm so happy you got to see this great tennis!

Posted by Diane 11/27/2010 at 06:52 PM

Or

What a great day for you

I'm counting on you to cheer on Roger tomorrow

Annie will be there and cheering for Rafa so TW is well represented

Posted by Jimbo 11/27/2010 at 06:54 PM

Tim!!!
No one can say you don't stay on message!!!!))).
Are you a political consultant?)))))).

Posted by L.Rubin 11/27/2010 at 07:00 PM

"I was in the match. It was orgasmic."

Holy crap! Djoker is a handsome one, no doubt.

And what's all this about flying to London for Fed's matches? We all know you're there in order to snatch Prince William from that Middleton character. Fess up, Princess!

--Liron

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 07:02 PM

L.Rubin LOL!

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 07:02 PM

From the BBC:

"Federer might have a losing record against Nadal but he expects to be as excited as the 17,500 spectators inside the O2 Arena for Sunday's final.

"I'm really looking forward to playing against Rafa," he said. "Who wouldn't? I'm no different.""


Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 07:03 PM

L.Rubin I see the Roger V Rafa match has made you come out

Gee is that what it takes?

Hmmm these 2 should have more match ups

Well there is 2011

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 07:03 PM

From the BBC:

"Federer might have a losing record against Nadal but he expcets to be as excited as the 17,500 spectators inside the O2 Arena for Sunday's final.

"I'm really looking forward to playing against Rafa," he said. "Who wouldn't? I'm no different.

"What he's achieved is amazing at his age, to win the career Grand Slam, and he already has three in a row again on another great streak. He's obviously a wonderful player, he's proven himself he can play on any surface. The ones who still call him a clay-court expert, they still don't know much about tennis."

The pair have met just once this year, with Nadal winning on clay in Madrid, and Federer knows he must take advantage of the indoor conditions on Sunday.

"We haven't played in a long time," said Federer. "I'll try to take it to him, play aggressive, attack his second serve, see how it goes."

And asked whether he expected Nadal to suffer physically after his lengthy semi-final, Federer responded: "I don't think it's going to have much effect on him, to be honest. He's been done a few hours now, he might be tucked up in bed already while I'm still doing my press conference here.

"That's his advantage, that he played early.""

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

So tell me this...how does Roger who is supposedly over the hill beat Murray once and Djokovic twice in the same tournament and in straight sets... 2 men in their prime.Hmmmm?

Baffling! And Murray took a prime Rafa to 3 sets as did Roddick ( by the way Andy is 28)....nothing is a given here folks.Just saying!

Posted by L.Rubin 11/27/2010 at 07:06 PM

AN,

:)

You're one bad-ass Aussie, AM!

--Liron

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 07:09 PM

L.Rubin Well at least you didnt say I was a

"DumbAss"

Phew!

Posted by Metro 11/27/2010 at 07:12 PM

Or,

Good for you to experience Roger in fine form. He made it easy on his fans' nerves with a straight win and most are floating on clouds. Saw many good natured Federer fans who even chanted songs a la football terrace. Have fun for tomorrow's final. You will have your work cut out to support Roger with all the vocal Nadal fans.

Posted by Joe 11/27/2010 at 07:16 PM

Ok Fedex, "that is his adventage because he played early". What about you that you didn't play on friday and today Nole didn't play well so your match was a lot shorter????

Posted by Mike 11/27/2010 at 07:19 PM

Just realized how close MAndy came to beating Rafa after the latter won the first set. Isn't Rafa something like 65 and 4 when he wins the first set?

That will be key for Fed tomorrow ... get that 1st serve clicking, switch things up, attack Rafa's 2nd serve, keep the match moving along ... or else! LOL

Posted by L.Rubin 11/27/2010 at 07:21 PM

Metro,

I'm not privy to the thoughts and preferences of the O2 fans, but do, for whatever reason, suspect that TMF 's fans will come out in force.

AM,

Perish the thought! You're a Rafa fan, AM-- brilliant, discerning, and, well, bad-ass! A sister-in-arms, you are . . .

Posted by Metro 11/27/2010 at 07:26 PM

L.Rubin,

Both players have loyal and vocal fans. As I indicated, Federer fans chant support, have their various hats, flags, RF logo shirts and even cow bell.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 07:31 PM

L.Rubin

Yeah and you forgot to add still looking good at age?

Well Borg and I are just great in that age area

Let me tell you.Though I havent as yet got the Silver hair going.

Posted by Joe 11/27/2010 at 07:40 PM

Of course both players have loyal vocal fans. Nadal's fans wants Nadal wins, Fedex fans wants Fedex wins but who knows who is going to win. It depends to many factors, I know this kind of surface is not the best for Nadal and his serve in this tournament is not the best (VERY IMPORTANT FACTOR) but.....we'll see tomorrow. If Nadal's serve is good he will beat Fedex for sure and if his serve couldn't be so good he has a big chance too

Posted by Ross (FOE, even Gael) 11/27/2010 at 07:47 PM

Back from the water park. Did I miss some good tennis? :) Guess I'll see now. TC is occasionally worth it.

Posted by thebigapple 11/27/2010 at 07:48 PM

Or, good for you. Cheer strong tommorrow.

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 08:10 PM

Mats Wilander: seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander said in an interview. "I think Fed is as good as ever, but he's just not winning [titles]."

Didn't Wilander say (not in so many words of course) just a few days back that Fed was done? Some of these former greats suffer from an acute case of short-term amnesia...

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 08:16 PM

TMFunk,

Didn't he make that comment some time ago? I don't think its a recent comment.

I can't stand suspense...if someone would just tell me who wins tomorrow, I will be able to work better.

Todd Martin commented on tomorrow's final..from ESPN:

"If he wins, a lot about Australia gets pretty interesting," two-time Grand Slam finalist Todd Martin said in an interview. "It would be great for Melbourne and tennis if Fed walked away with the last trophy of the year. If he loses, I don't think he will let it bother him."


Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 08:18 PM

oh, maybe ladyjulia. It was quoted in an espn post-SF article, so I assumed it was right after the match...here's the espn article

http://espn.go.com/sports/tennis/blog/_/name/espntennis/id/5856657/the-long-awaited-dream-finale

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 08:21 PM

TMFunk,

It was the same article i was reading...they must have called him then.

So, he is picking Rafa essentially for the title. But Mats is no oracle.

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 08:27 PM

ladyjulia: I didn't think he was picking Nadal for the title. I think what he meant was that Fed's play hasn't declined as many were saying, just that it hadn't resulted in titles. Don't think he was talking about tomorrow

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 08:31 PM

TMFunk,

oh...ok..that's what he meant.

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 08:36 PM

and btw ladyjulia, to your point about tactics - don't you know Fed has added the moonpie to his toolkit recently? its gonna change everything tomorrow... :)

Posted by Nina 11/27/2010 at 08:42 PM

Great article, Hannah. :)
Shame that Djoko lost, he didn't put much effort into it. Today federer wanted to win more than him, that was clear. Novak's mind was clearly on DC.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 08:43 PM

TMFunk,

he he...it will be ironical if he wins with that.

Did you watch the Fed video? He's so calm and composed about tomorrow..I am beginning to think he's an alien. No celebrating after today's win either. Maybe TMF's shown up after all.

Will you be able to catch a replay after work?

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 08:45 PM

ladyjulia: You do know its Sunday tomorrow? :) I can't watch coz I don't have it on tv...I think...maybe I shd confirm!

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 08:47 PM

TMFunk,

oh...what abt streams?...this is too good to miss. I don't think you have espn3 in canada.

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 08:49 PM

my problem with streams is that I can only watch on my work computer and it does not deal well with streams...yeah, don't have espn3 in Canada...

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 08:52 PM

TMFunk,

oh...oh...scoreboarding will be torture..on the other hand, you will be protected from watching the shanks.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 08:53 PM

Djokovic on today;s match:

“Every ball kind of listens to him,” Serbia’s Djokovic, who can now concentrate on next week’s Davis Cup final against France, told reporters. “I think he was playing unbelievable from the first moment.

“He was playing smart. He was coming in. He didn’t give me any time to try to get into the match. In just half an hour, it was already 6-1.”

Posted by TMFunk 11/27/2010 at 08:57 PM

anyway - off to watch a movie with the family...g'nite!

Posted by Mrs Tennis 11/27/2010 at 09:00 PM

Why isn't Tennis Channel showing the final live?

Posted by Master Ace 11/27/2010 at 09:02 PM

Mrs Tennis,
ESPN2 is covering the final live.

Posted by Andrew 11/27/2010 at 09:03 PM

Evening, all.

I scheduled my Saturday tennis lesson for 3:30pm ET. Erm, mistake?

So I DVRed Federer-Djokovic, then tried to watch it in "real time" once I got home. Then I had errands to run (pick up restrung racquets, take the pup for a run in the snow). Finally back.

Good result. Commiserations to Djokovic fans. I had a sense, once Federer broke back in set 2, that Novak didn't fancy two more hard sets then a quick turnaround vs Nadal with DC coming up. But maybe I'm wrong - perhaps he was putting his heart and soul into it.

Congratulations to Federer fans. Federer won 66 to 46, or 59% to 41%. Clean kill. Sort of a replay of Cincinnati F 2009. Federer's looked in very good nick all week: it would be a shame if he doesn't cash in tomorrow.

Though doubtless one or two Tribe members would prefer the other fellow to win. That's part of why this place is fun.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 09:03 PM

TMFunk,

g'nite...hope ur prediction comes true tomorrow.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 09:04 PM

Andrew,

anything on tactics that Fed should do different so that it dosen't become 15-7?

Posted by thebigapple 11/27/2010 at 09:12 PM

Tactics? Fed should hope Rafa eats some bad pasta and stubs his toe coming to the stadium. He should also ensure that Fred stays attached to a cement block in the Thames...

Posted by thebigapple 11/27/2010 at 09:15 PM

Andrew, Murray played really well today. Pity it did not work out.(I mean that despite my unfounded prejudice against him)

Posted by CL 11/27/2010 at 09:15 PM

Liron - still there? this is my new default position for any and all Fedal wars and/or GOAT debates.

When they arise, no matter what it said, I am just going to say,

"I'm with this guy.":

http://img545.imageshack.us/img545/7547/483009d1jw6dbksqjg1buj.jpg

Posted by Deuce 11/27/2010 at 09:15 PM

CL - I'm in agreement with your 5:36! "Where's Andrew? How do I know what really happened/what to think unless he is here to tell me?" Felt a bit lost reeading the match call and reaction without Andrews wonderful and insightful input!

Posted by Deuce 11/27/2010 at 09:18 PM

Though Andrew - we hope your tennis match went well and the pup had a nice walk! Looking for a good match tomorrow and of course will be estatic if Fed wins! Cheers everyone and until tomorrow!

Posted by One who knows 11/27/2010 at 09:18 PM

A couple of "things" about Rafael Nadal and his stamina/strenght:

1.) Nadal=doping (yes, that´s right)
2.) Nadal=steroids (oh yes, that´s also right)

Posted by Andrew 11/27/2010 at 09:24 PM

*Waves to Deuce* Thanks for the nice words - FWIW, I also felt very flat knowing I was watching the match without being plugged into TW. And I haven't rewatched it yet - and one thing I find is that a match sticks in my memory much better when I'm doing the two game summaries at the changeovers.

As for tactics - I dunno, they've played each other often enough - it really comes down to execution, as Murray found at 6-6 in the third set TB. I think the slice serve has worked well for Federer this week. I don't want to see Federer charging the net straight up as Berdych did against Nadal - let Nadal set his feet and he'll pass fifteen ways from Sunday. But I do like the way Federer took on the Djokovic second serve. He's much more aggressive on the service return than he was five months ago - or rather, he seems to have a much more varied set of returns.

Nadal surprised me today by serving a lot to Murray's FH. I don't think he'll do that as much against Federer, but he has a lot more variety on the serve than he used to have. If I'm Paul Annacone, I'd tell Federer that if he gets a BP to ad, sit dead red for the T serve. And don't hold anything back - last match of the year.

Now off to pizza and a movie with Cathleen and Sylvia.

Posted by CL 11/27/2010 at 09:27 PM

Deuce- Well, frankly, I give Andrew a B- for that effort. ***frowns at Andrew*** But off course, since the dog sorta ate part of his homework, it is understandable.

I am grading him down because of his non mention of Fed's...make make that TMF's.. brilliance in the first set. Sure, Novak helped with a Df and a biffed volley, but there was FFF there. Did I mention the brilliant volleys? I think we Fed fans, and maybe all tennis fans, have lost a bit of our ability to spot TMF when he is there. He has played well most of the fall...he has played superbly during this WTF. If we could affect some sort of time warp and pretend this match had a 2006 sticker on it, it would seem like a perfectly 'normal' TMF win. And yet in 2010 we don't seem to see it as such. Partly that is due to the many appearances of Fred/Ferd over the last 2 or 3 years or so and partly that is because, BECAUSE of Fed, everyone is playing better, more complete...more Federesquely. But these matches have, I think, re-established, without question that TMF lives. Will he always be able to bring out TMF in every match like he did in the past? Probably not. Might Nadal hand him his RF hat tomorrow as per usual? Maybe. But maybe not.

PS - I really like this Rumsfeldian style of answering one's own questions...very handy. ;-)

Posted by CL 11/27/2010 at 09:28 PM

Oh phooey - now I have to give him and 'incomplete.' **frowns in general**

Or - So glad you saw such a GREAT match and such great TMF! Lucky you!

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 09:31 PM

tba,

"He should also ensure that Fred stays attached to a cement block in the Thames..."

I would pay a large sum of money to the person who can ensure that..

Andrew..thx..I hope Fed dosen't charge the net too often..passes are awesome only when its your fave doing it.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 09:34 PM

"If we could affect some sort of time warp and pretend this match had a 2006 sticker on it, it would seem like a perfectly 'normal' TMF win. And yet in 2010 we don't seem to see it as such. "

That could be true...

Posted by susan 11/27/2010 at 09:50 PM

rumsfeldian! known knowns, unknown knowns and unknown unknowns.
the last one is for epistemologists to grapple with. and how could we categorize what we know we know, what we know we don't know, and what we don't know we don't know - about rog & rafa?
ugh, i don't want to think about it.

just watched the replay of the match. i don't think Nole was absent at all. fighting to the end, in my opinion. a few chest bumps even.

now i must go out in the fresh air. i stayed up at ungodly hour to watch the match.

i loved Or's report. straight from the heart. must have been exciting to see.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/27/2010 at 09:53 PM

if the Old Swiss wins, it will be huge... amazing in fact, he's a senior citizen, no?

I think its funny that Nadal kinda talks as if being tired is not part of a pro athlete's life and the challenge they all face... is he somehow removed from the reality of pro sports? maybe he should win in two sets if he's in such poor shape, or so worried about his fitness ...

I just dont understand this about him

Posted by I know who you are 11/27/2010 at 10:12 PM

One who knows

TROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/27/2010 at 10:26 PM

Nam but this is the whole point--to avoid the pain of losing, rafa and some of his fans are disingenuous about his odds of winning and if he's the favorite or not--

THIS is the whole point some of us make! When Fred was NO. 1 he owned the mantle and knew he wwas always the favorite, too bad Rafa cant do the same... its actually more disappointing than anything, or baffling, but also, frankly dishonest from my view

Posted by Sampras fan 11/27/2010 at 10:29 PM

Oh mighty Nadal, please stop Fed from ruining one of the last remaining Sampras's holy record! Just like you did for stopping him at 1 week before ruining the all time most weeks ranked at number 1.

And Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) and other Fed and Nadal fans. shut your pie holes. Only asking Rafa since this kid is no threat at YEC for Sampras's legacy. Sampras all the way!

Posted by FoT 11/27/2010 at 10:30 PM

And the world no. 1 has, predictably, set himself up as the underdog for tomorrow's final.
"Seriously I was a little bit tired in the second set," he said. "I don't know what going to happen tomorrow, how I'm going to feel. You can imagine, right now, I am very tired."

Watch him run like a rabbit tomorrow and retrieve ball after ball. Nobody deflects pressure better than the current number one !
=====================================

you got that right! Remember Nadal was suppose to be SO tired after that long match with Verdasco at the US Open and he was running like a jack rabbit. All I've heard from announcers, other players, fans, etc., is how Nadal is the 'best athlete' in tennis; how "Nadal never gets tired"; how "Nadal wears down other players", etc. So I don't want to hear any excuse about him being tired in a 3-set match. Like Roger said after his match today with Djokovic - that


And when asked whether he expected Nadal to suffer physically after his lengthy semi-final, Federer responded: "I don't think it's going to have much effect on him, to be honest. He's been done a few hours now, he might be tucked up in bed already while I'm still doing my press conference here.

"That's his advantage, that he played early."

Add to the fact that Nadal has a 5-year youth advantage on Roger... too. Like Time said -NADAL IS THE FAVORITE! If we Roger fans can't even be the underdog against someone like Nadal who 'owns' Roger - when can Roger be the underdog? *scratches head*?

Posted by Old man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/27/2010 at 10:32 PM

I preditct that Fed will totally beat Rafa!!!

on the art of tennis ebay aution that is about to end in a day's time.

Tim the moonpie man, I trust that you will bid on the auction and stop that puny Rafa kid from winning if needed. C'mon.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/27/2010 at 10:33 PM

What's this about Federer being old or past his prime?

Laver won his second Grand Slam when he was 30-31--a year in which Laver played 122 matches.

And Laver continued to play top-level tennis into his mid-30s, admittedly not as consistently as he did in his second Grand Slam year.

So, no reason to start shedding tears over Senior Citizen Federer.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/27/2010 at 10:36 PM

i like jimmy arias too, he's snarky, knowledeable, isnt kissing anyone's ass, and tells it like it is, so rare these days with all these commentators having side deals and conflicts of interest ... its been a great week of viewing

Posted by susan 11/27/2010 at 10:38 PM

tim, he IS the favorite, and i'm not sure why he always downplays it. didn't rafa say that murray, pre-match, had been modest because he was reducing the pressure on himself. rafa does the same.
i hope it's a competitive match. federer IS at a disadvantage, having played the earlier match. going out..

Posted by susan 11/27/2010 at 10:38 PM

having played the later match. not enough sleep!

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/27/2010 at 10:39 PM

well msf, maybe u should talk to that 24 year old Spaniard who's so darn tired after a few matches, with a day off inbetween!

the contradictions of Nadal's persona and athletic abliite and stamina continue, can someone make any sense of them?? LOL!

Posted by Old man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/27/2010 at 10:41 PM

BTW, if you are a TRUE Fed fan or Rafa fan, then behave accordingly like your idol.

For Rafa fan, you are always an underdog. Doesn't matter you are playing Gasquet on clay. You ARE always underdog, get that? So timid. I pity you.

For Fed fan, stop saying your idol is underdog, you idots. Fed always says he believes that he's the favorite. That confidence won him 16 slams + 23 or 24 straight SF. It's a night and day between his confidence and that puny Rafa kid's lack of condidence. Maybe the exception of Monte Carlo or something, you are hero IS the favorite and say "bring it and I'll whoop your behind!" like a man, you chickens.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/27/2010 at 10:43 PM

tell the media idiots that susan, but yes, common sense sometims prevails, thats' the problem anyone with any brain can see nadal is just deflecting pressure, why cant the media?

anyway, i think nad's honeymoon is over as of 2011, theyre gonna want some new stories to tell, and dig for the dirt on him ...

for the most part i AM enoying Fed's fall season lots of highlights here, its been great to watch him.

i woudl dearly love to see him make it through this, he deserves it, if he holds his form and serve, he wins...Annacone on his team has got to help you know he's seen all their matches and screamed like the rest of us at Roger's baffling strategy at times

Posted by Great tennis 11/27/2010 at 10:44 PM

hehehehehe, it's funny how Fed's fans are trying to *help* him and to find the right way that he should play to Nadal........

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/27/2010 at 10:49 PM

well thts because Federer has so many options, unlike Nads, who plays the same damn shots every piont, moonpies to the backhand, without a shred of imagination or variety, just relentless repetitive moonpies and stalling between points ... find the the 'right' way to play for Nadal is easy because he's got only ONE way to play! heheheheh

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/27/2010 at 10:53 PM

Tim writes:

"if he [Federer] holds his form and serve, he wins..."

Sounds like you're saying that Federer is the provisional favorite.

About time you admitted the obvious.

Thanks.

And, by the way, now that I no longer get Tennis Channel, I haven't seen or heard Arias or Navratilova commenting in a while, which I regret. On most days, they are far better than most of the other commentators.

By the way, why do you keep blowing off that Federer fan who keeps on posting and asking for your affirmation?

Posted by Great tennis 11/27/2010 at 10:55 PM

hehehehehe and the MOST FUNNY ONE.............TIM!!!
Don't you know how many times Nadal has beat to Fed with *the same damn shots*????

Posted by Bhai Mirzai 11/27/2010 at 10:57 PM

I enjoyed the fact that anacone also showed excitement when Fed broke back in the second set. Prior to that I had always seen him as just totally stoic.

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

There is a new inane/insane post offered by Bodo...we should migrate there.

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

"Nadal has beat to Fed with *the same damn shots*????"

Yeah, dead borin' ain't it? I mean really, doesn't he owe it to tennis to beat him w/some new and different shots? Otherwise, we might as just replay some old matches. Hey! Great idea! Let's replay one of Fed's wins over Rafa at the YEC/WTF. You can pick.

Pfft...don't be silly MSF...everyone knows that the elderly Laver played in a weak era.

And anyway, if 29 year old Fed shouldn't be tired, why on earth should 24 yr old, 5 weeks rested Rafa be tired? Does not compute.

susan - I haven't forgotten my epistle on the Federer psychology of denial/optimism/reality. Maybe next week. :-)

Oh darn, i have forgotten ALREADY my vow not to get involved in Fedal wars. *le sigh**

I'm with this guy:
http://img545.imageshack.us/img545/7547/483009d1jw6dbksqjg1buj.jpg

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

Tim,

The media treats the players as they treat themselves.

If the dominant #1 player gets the earlier match and gets 24 hrs for recovery while being 24 yrs old and complains about being tired, while the 29 yr old dosen't get out of the complex till 11 pm for a noon match tomorrow but still has enthusiasm (and no complaints about being the 2nd SF) to meet the guy to whom he has lost 14 times...you can pretty much infer who is really enjoying tennis.

For one player..its war, for second..its love. That is how i would interpret how they approach their matches, that is how they treat tennis.

From what I have seen and read at the WTF...Rafa dosen't seem to be really enjoying his dominant #1 status...infact he's more tense, more at the edge.

It tells me one more thing...Rafa dosen't handle pressure well. He'll do anything, say anything to get rid of it. Fed, on the other hand, is the coolest guy around. Whether he's #1 or #2...you can make out that he really enjoys the game. He likes the pressure, and responds to it like a champion.

Rafa is on the learning curve a bit here..its the first time he's won 3 slams in a year..its a transition time for him. He has to start enjoying tennis a bit, cool off in matches and he'll be fine. He does enjoy tennis i think..but after USO...he's always at the edge.

Give him some time. He'll admit to the pressure sometime.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/27/2010 at 11:08 PM

no msf, Im saying Federer is the best tennis player, when he's on, but lookin at the results and rankings points this year, who could NOT pick Nadal? buy yeah, nice to see nads kids own up to the truth, no one can play the brand of tennis Fed plays when he's on, no matter how many Slams rafa gets over Birdbrain, nads is younger now and concentrates better and his game is just less complicated and he just pounds away til he wears guys down, as he did today... he does the same thing from start to finish, nothing pretty about it, but its hard to break down The Wall without big time power or point ending weapons (murray lacks both) ...

only Fed has the tool kit to do it

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/27/2010 at 11:09 PM

msfan - Comparing Laver in 1968-69 to Federer in 2010, is laughable! The game has evolved considerably from back then to where it is now. Racket technology and improved physical conditioning has turned this into a far more physically demanding sport compared to the 80's or 90's , let alone the 60's and 70's - which was a completely different era altogether !

In Laver's time, it was not unusual for players aged 40 and beyond to continue competing at the highest levels. In the 80's, the prime age of a tennis player decreased by a few years. Still, Jimmy Connors played and won titles at the ripe old age of 40. Then came the 90's, and it became more difficult for a player to stay in the top 5 or top 10 past the age of 32 (except for Agassi). Now in 2010, there are no players past the age of 30 in the top 10.

Federer is by no means "old", but his consistency has declined appreciable within the last 3 years. It is a huge ask in this day and age, and given the depth in the mens' field and the quality of the topmost players, for a 29 year old to maintain a high level of play tournament in and tournament out. So, while he is far from hobbling on one foot, there is no question that he is past his prime years when his focus, drive and physical conditioning were at their peak.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/27/2010 at 11:12 PM

well julia, i would agree with that .. very well said and I think, very very true ... i wonder how much Nads really enjoys playing, maybe he's always kind of negative, because he DOES see it as work?

interesting, thanks for sharing that, and i do think that's part of Nads psychology, and for many of his fans quite frnakly to share it with him ... i never thought of the concept that maybe he doesnt enjoy the game as much as Fed does, but CLEARLY he doesnt enjoy being No. 1 the way Fed relished it, and the proof is he's constantly downplaying his role as favoriite

i think fed is enjoying the hell of out tennis and his life right now, as well he should@ in the wise words of Kathy Griffin, the media can suck it! lol

Posted by Great tennis 11/27/2010 at 11:12 PM

CL, what tennis are you watching? don't you think that Nadal has different great and new shots? if you can't be able to see that you are watching something else, maybe another sport.... or another guy

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/27/2010 at 11:15 PM

what new shots are u referring to?

moonpies, topspin, and running its the same nads for years now, somehow he's got a better serve lately, oh yeah the grip change LOL

Posted by Master Ace 11/27/2010 at 11:18 PM

Pete has posted a new thread for us to continue our conversations and prepare for Nadal and Federer...

Posted by GC20 11/27/2010 at 11:22 PM

Tim - You're a good tennis player. What do you think accounts for the out of the blue 20 mph increase in Rafa's first serve? Arias was dubious of the grip change as well but offered no further explanation.

Posted by Great tennis 11/27/2010 at 11:32 PM

Wonderful match Nadal/Murray, the best match of the tournament, that's tennis!!!!!!!.
Murray 22 aces, Nadal just 4 but......good game is always good game

Posted by Jai 11/27/2010 at 11:39 PM

"It tells me one more thing...Rafa dosen't handle pressure well."

Yes, that's how you stay in the top 2 for more than five straight years - by not handling pressure well.

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

Jai,

I meant pressure from press/media.

Obviously Rafa has defended RG multiple times..he can handle that pressure. But he can't handle pressure from media.

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

Jai,

When a player goes out and says...I am #1, I am the top seed and nobody can stop me winning this title...that's creating pressure using the media.

All Champions do it. They declare it to the media, and they live up to it.

Rafa, for some reason, cannot do it.

Posted by Jai 11/27/2010 at 11:55 PM

ladyjulia: these things are usually a function of personality - like it or not, it IS possible even for someone at Rafa's level of achievement to be sincerely self-doubting (just as it's possible for Federer to make arrogant-sounding statements without actually being smug or arrogant).

Personally I see no evidence that Rafa can't handle media-imposed pressure. But yes, if Federer's attitude and achievements are to be the benchmark for everything Rafa does (e.g. winning three Slams in a year thrice), then it's a clear no-win situation.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 12:00 AM

Jai,

Its not Fed's attitude...all champions are like that. Some of them enjoy it, some of them don't, but they all admit to it.

It is a part and parcel of being the top seed. Rafa's personality of self-doubt has nothing to do with that.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 12:01 AM

Jai,

Its not Fed's attitude...all champions are like that. Some of them enjoy it, some of them don't, but they all admit to it.

It is a part and parcel of being the top seed. Rafa's personality of self-doubt has nothing to do with that.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 12:03 AM

Jai,

Its not Fed's attitude...all champions are like that. Some of them enjoy it, some of them don't, but they all admit to it.

It is a part and parcel of being the top seed.
Let me rephrase that...you can't rout the field again and again and say that the pressure is on the opponent.

A champion always admits that there is pressure being the top seed..whether they will win or not is a different matter.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/28/2010 at 12:03 AM

Crazy-for-Rog writes:

"msfan - Comparing Laver in 1968-69 to Federer in 2010, is laughable!"

What's laughable?

The technology changed but the humans playing the game have not materially changed.

Certainly, humans have not significantly evolved physically in the last 40 years. The records for running the mile/1500 meters, the 100 meters, high jumping, etc., have not improved much (percentagewise) over the past 40 years. No reason to believe that top tennis players are significantly better athletes now than they were 40 years ago.

Top tennis players certainly benefit from better medical/surgical care than was available 40 years ago. But that doesn't make them appreciably better athletes than their predecessors.

A major reason that top tennis players don't play into their 30s like Laver/Rosewall, etc. is that they don't have the financial motivation that Laver/Rosewall did.

After earning tens of millions on and off the court, it is not surprising that Borg/Sampras/etc. don't have the motivation to keep on busting their asses into their 30s that Laver/Rosewall did. Unlike their successors, Laver and Rosewall lost a great deal of money in their 20s because tennis wasn't "Open" during the late 1950s and most of the 1960s.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 12:05 AM

oh dear...triple posts now..

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 12:16 AM

Jai...either way, my point was that Rafa dosen't seem to enjoy tennis...the OCDs on court, the problem staying within time limits...its like war for him. Every single point is like war.

Usually, a person admits to pressure in the media because it dosen;t affect them. They are relaxed about it, they enjoy the game.

Rafa dosen't admit it, so i think he dosen't enjoy being a dominant #1 (at least from what I have seen/read...based on post-USO performance).

At least he is not relaxed about it. He may have self-doubts...but he's not relaxed and cool about it.

Yesterday, he tried to put the pressure on Murray in the presser. He dosen't seem comfortable about his opponent taking pressure off themselves. If he was just enjoying the game, he wouldn't mind really. Instead he spells it out clearly that the pressure is on Murray.

Just my perception by the way.

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