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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 jackson 11/27/2010 at 12:36 PM

Rafa looks absolutely exhausted in the on-court interview. This has really drained him I think. Hope the semi tonight is just as competitive so that it's a relatively fair match tomorrow.

Aiieeee. I still can't believe he pulled that match out. What a fighter he is.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 12:37 PM

I just realized Nole has won YEC...in 2008...

Posted by GB 11/27/2010 at 12:37 PM

"I think the Muzz can walk with his head high."

+ 1 million. He was playing at home, with insane pressure, lost the first set and stepped it up in a major way to come back. He saved multiple break points and 2 points separated them in the end. sad for Muzz:(

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 12:37 PM

Actually, it just dawned on me that Muzz would've prolly won this match if not for the dumbass DS. Ugh! Alex, a good talking to is in order.

Posted by Old man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/27/2010 at 12:38 PM

What is DS? double Shot? no idea.

Posted by wilson75 11/27/2010 at 12:39 PM

Ladyjulia: Yes, Novak beat Davydenko in that final.

Posted by L.Rubin 11/27/2010 at 12:39 PM

Old Man fed,

Drop shot.

Posted by Old man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/27/2010 at 12:39 PM

BTW, did you hear Rafa's speech? He said to british crowd, "don't put too much pressure on Muzz, he will win many many grand slams, for sure". He is telling them to not to do it while he's doing it in the same sentence.

Posted by jackson 11/27/2010 at 12:39 PM

Rafa's signing hundreds and hundreds of autographs. Can't get off the court. He's so good with his fans. No wonder he's so beloved.

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 12:40 PM

Great, exciting match. Impressive stuff from Murray, for sure!

But I'm always amazed that Rafa fans frazzle so much, after so many escapes like this. It didn't enter my mind that he might lose.

Posted by for the love of sport 11/27/2010 at 12:41 PM

So was that 'trilling' (to quote ana ivanovic :-)) or what???
Great tennis from Andy...just greater tenacity from Rafa...hope the other semi is as exciting...bye all...was fun watching in your company today...feeling a bit weak...will go lie down now...

Posted by Old man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/27/2010 at 12:41 PM

If Rafa somehow comes back and wins tomorrow and I am not saying that he will, but he will so dead tired that he will have to pull out from his exos in late Dec.

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl VAMOS RAFA WINNER OF ALL FOUR GRAND SLAMS) 11/27/2010 at 12:41 PM

AND I'M DEAD! and he has to play fed/nole? tomorrow! frak me! this is like AO 09 all over again minus the five sets over the top melodrama, but who cares 3 or 5 SETS its all the same to rafael nadal parera!!! pfff...

its a hard calling being his fan!!

Posted by x-fan 11/27/2010 at 12:41 PM

Drop Shot.

NP,
I think both the first and third set were down to one point at the most. It was that kind of a match. Andy couldn't keep up the momentum when Rafa's level went down and I have to give credit to Rafa for winning a match where for almost a set and half he looked completely out of it.

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 11/27/2010 at 12:42 PM

wow wow wow...what a match! beginning to end, couldn't pick a winner.
MAndy is a gamer, and Rafa is too.

Rafamazing! Go get the title, Vamos!

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 12:42 PM

TMFunk,

Feeling optimistic, are we today?

I think I would bet on Fed to win, but i might change my mind if Fed loses the first set.

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 11/27/2010 at 12:43 PM

Is the final best of five or best of three sets?

Posted by Old man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/27/2010 at 12:43 PM

It's a good 10 min after 3+ hour match and this fool is still signing autographs. tsk tsk tsk. Further diminishing his already non-existing chance tomorrow. The only equalizier would be if Fed-Djoker goes close to 2:30, but I highly doubt that. Fed doesn't have stomach for such snail-paced match.

Posted by Arun 11/27/2010 at 12:44 PM

Yep, tina. Just read some of these posts. Always feels good to keep the expectations low, I guess.

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 12:45 PM

x-fan, don't get me wrong, I fully agree that Rafa deserves the win. Just a little frustrated with Muzz. The ill-timed DS is what killed Muzz against Fed Thursday and against Rafa today. But again I liked much of what I saw from Muzz in this match. He should build on it, hopefully with the help of a good, permanent coach.

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 12:47 PM

Papo, all the finals except at the majors and the Olympics (and all the DC ties) are best-of-3 now.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 12:49 PM

The problem for Muzz is that Rafa and Fed are big match players...at least the Fed is winding down, but Rafa is peaking. They know how to play big pressure points..and experience helps them...while him..not so much.

Upon that, Muzz has to carry the pressure of NOT having won slams. If he conquers it, he'll be tough to beat..if he dosen't, he will just bury himself.

This one's gonna hurt though. At least it wasn't a slam final.

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 11/27/2010 at 12:49 PM

Man, used to be the YEC final was best of five. There were some epic matches with that format. Now it's just a regular best of three, pfft.

Posted by x-fan 11/27/2010 at 12:49 PM

NP,
Sure, I understood your point. The part about Rafa deserving the win was just an addition on my part because I thought he was going to lose it.
I agree with you on Murray. He knows how to play Rafa on hard court and perhaps with the right coach (you hear me Andy?) next year he will also make inroads on grass -not too sure about his game on clay yet though.

Posted by Arun 11/27/2010 at 12:49 PM

So, it's now confirmed that Djokovic will finish YE #3 for 4th year in a row. And Murray at #4 for 3rd year in a row. Just crazy good. What would have happened in the absence of Nadal and Federer?!

Posted by Ruth 11/27/2010 at 12:50 PM

I'm so happy for TW's Annie that she'll be able to see Rafa in the final, too. there was atime when I feared that she'd have to settle for 3 hours in the semis. :)

The BBC Sport tennis web site calls the semi a "brilliant match" and states the Nadal beat a "gritty Murray." Let's hope that the rest of the British sports media can be as complimentary about Andy's performance today.

You did good, MAndy!

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 12:52 PM

"There were some epic matches with that format."

Yes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lryUo253f8g
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sx0KDBQqS_U

Either of these guys would've eaten Rafa and Muzz alive.

Posted by imjimmy 11/27/2010 at 12:53 PM

I have no idea why Nadal always makes it so tough for himself against Murray. He could have served MUCH better and been more assertive with his backhand in particular. He scrapes to a win. Probably not his finest, but sometimes you win a little ugly.

Great match from the intensity perspective, even if not for the quality of tennis. Both guys looked spent. Dunno how much Nadal will have for tomorrow's final. But still making the Final on his worst surface, when he is not at his best, is a good outcome for him.

All said and done, Nadal will need to make some adjustments or Murray will continue to be a formidable obstacle in the big matches at the slams...

Posted by x-fan 11/27/2010 at 12:53 PM

Ladyjulia,
I think that's it. Murray has what it takes to beat both Rafa and Roger as he has shown on various acassions but Rafa and Roger still manage to find something extra when matters most. (and yes I'm still leaving Roger in that category and I think he will beat my pick later) ;-)

Posted by rg.nadal 11/27/2010 at 12:53 PM

Kudos to Rafa and his fans!

Posted by Mike 11/27/2010 at 12:53 PM

Wow ... hugs for MAndy fans, congrats for Rafa fans. That one could have gone either way, a number of times. Hope the next semi is at least close to as thrilling ... as long as Fed wins. ;)

Posted by zenggi 11/27/2010 at 12:54 PM

Wonderful match. Congratulations to Rafa and fans. Commisserations to Murray and his fans.

It was so close that Murray won more points than Rafa but couldn't win at the end. Oh well. Let's see how the next SF goes.

Posted by Old man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/27/2010 at 12:55 PM

Fed is warming up now and Sky sports showed Djoker, who just seemed to come in from his hotel, watching the end of the match at the sideline.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/27/2010 at 12:55 PM

In light of how well the Brits have supported this tournament this year and last, the ATP had better think long and hard before moving the YEC to another site after the current contract runs out.

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 12:55 PM

x-fan, Muzz has a long way to go on clay, I agree. For one thing his footwork on clay isn't as good. Perhaps Alex could help him on that.

But he really needs to get a more permanent coach. Either Roche or Stefanki would've been a great choice, but both are occupied with Hewitt and Roddick now, respectively.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 12:56 PM

xfan,

yeah...its tough for Muzz. The Fed said that when Muzz wins one slam, it will open the floodgates for him.

I think Fed defeats Nole too..but i might change my mind after the first set. If Nole wins the first set, the Fed might unravel. if Fed wins the first set, Nole might unravel.

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 12:57 PM

imjimmy, what do you think about Muzz's form today? Are your impressions in sync with mine?

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 12:58 PM

Wait, does the next SF start at 3 PM?

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 12:59 PM

I agree with msf, it will be a loss if the ATP moves the WTF away from London..the crowd/media buildup/organizational details..have been wonderful.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 12:59 PM

NP..yes, the second SF is at 3 pm. Starts at 3 pm.

Posted by Andrew 11/27/2010 at 01:02 PM

When a match comes down to 6-6 in a final set TB, most likely both players will have deserved to win. But only one can.

Murray played the second TB much more aggressively than the first, and his reward was a 3-0, two MB lead. He played the next point aggressively, but he hooked a FH wide to deuce. And at 6-6, he went for a big forcing I-O FH and sent that one 3/4 of an inch wide.

It's just amazing to me that six years in, Nadal and Federer are the two mountains in the mens game. You can take the bet that that won't be the case in 2011, but it's been a loser since 2007 or so.

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 01:03 PM

ladyjulia, thx.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 01:03 PM

Why did they have to start it 8 pm London time? That's the only gripe I have with the organizers.

The final is tomorrow during the day.

Isn't 6 pm a better starting time for the second SF? Why 8 pm????

Posted by wilson75 11/27/2010 at 01:03 PM

MSF: Considering the fact that the ATP has eliminated the week between Paris and WTF from 2012, I think it's more than likely that the London will become the permanent home of WTF. But I agree the ATP would be foolish to move it from there.

Posted by zenggi 11/27/2010 at 01:06 PM

Hannah/Gauloises,

Thank you very much for your insightful analysis of the match between Djokovic and Roddick. It's a pleasure to read your articles. Anytime, anywhere.

I agree that Roddick seems to bring out the worst in Djokovic. The opposite is when Novak plays against Federer. Let's hope we have a good but short match next. The winner will have to be ready for the final against Nadal. Not an easy task as he is the favorite.

Posted by Old man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/27/2010 at 01:07 PM

Wilson75, they will move it after 2012. Money always win. I am thinking it would be somewhere in middle East like money-bai. I meant Dubai, cough, cough. It was in Asia and in in Europe now. Was in U.S. not too long ago. So it leaves Aussie and Middle East and with no time after Paris, Aussie will never get YEC now.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/27/2010 at 01:08 PM

NP:

Leaving aside Roche's likely unwillingness to travel as much as a Murray full-time coach would be required to travel (reportedly, Roche will only travel 20 weeks a year for Hewittt), I strongly doubt Roche would be willing to put up with the BS Murray has too often directed towards his coaches.

I haven't observed much of the Murray-Corretja public interactions, but have never wanted Corretja to be full-time coach for Murray.

For many of the top players--I believe that Murray is an example--coaches probably don't add much, once those players have reached the top levels. But, of course, only a few additional points at crucial junctures in important matches can make the difference between winning majors or not, and being ranked No. 1 or in the 2-3 range.

Is a coach worth those extra few crucial points? Apparently, most top players believe so.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/27/2010 at 01:08 PM

Congratulations to Nadal fans and commiserations to Murray fans, he must be gutted. I only got to see the first set, but as I said at the outset, the matchup between these two can definitely produce riveting tennis. Sounds like that was true this afternoon. Hope it will be true for the next semi, as well. Anxious for those first-hand accounts!

ladyjulia, the second double semi-final precedes the Federer/Djokovich match. Mariusz Fyrstenberg/Marcin Matkowski and Mahesh Bhupathi/Max Mirnyi should be taking place soon. I agree that the winner of the second semi is at a disadvantage given an afternoon final.

Posted by Old man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/27/2010 at 01:10 PM

Roche is no good. He is too old, so he won't travel that much. It's the reason Fed dropped him and Hewitt only will have another part-time coach when Roche doesn't travel.

Posted by imjimmy 11/27/2010 at 01:12 PM

""imjimmy, what do you think about Muzz's form today? Are your impressions in sync with mine? ""

NP: This is not new. Murray ALWAYS plays excellent against Nadal, since his game matches up so well. If it had been Fed today, perhaps Murray would be clobbered in straight sets.
The fact that Nadal hasn't made many adjustments against Murray, means that Murray always looks good against Rafa. See their last 7 matches or so.

I'll wait to see Murray perform against the entire field consistently, but still he is done well at the tail end of this year. As of now, I see him as a guy who can potentially upset Nadal in the AO SF, but would need some luck to actually win the title..

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 01:13 PM

MSF, I'm not sure exactly what "BS" on Muzz's part you're talking about. Maybe a few examples would help?

Posted by Arun 11/27/2010 at 01:14 PM

"If it had been Fed today, perhaps Murray would be clobbered in straight sets. "
As we can safely infer from Fed-Muzz H2H. Oh wait.

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 01:15 PM

LOL, imjimmy, why am I not surprised by your response. Dunno, for one thing Muzz did start out serving 70+% today. Don't think that can be attributed 100% to the matchup.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/27/2010 at 01:16 PM

Holds2love,

oh..i didn't realize there was a doubles match before the second SF.

Either way, the Fed has been in every SF since Wimby..and they all were scheduled as the second one.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/27/2010 at 01:17 PM

Old Man Fed:

"Money always wins."

Generally true. But, if money is the reason the ATP moves the site, the additional money the ATP is offered should be carefully weighed against the probable loss of goodwill for the sport and visibility.

Incidentally, I agree with those who believe that eliminating the week off between Paris and the YEC is idiotic.

Probably, a decision that hurts both tournaments--right after a year when both those tournaments were/have been very engaging--despite the repeated disparagement of post U.S. Open fall tennis by some.

Posted by imjimmy 11/27/2010 at 01:18 PM

""As we can safely infer from Fed-Muzz H2H. Oh wait. """

LOL Arun. That's why I said perhaps :)

I agree, though, Murray has done well against Federer too. But for whatever reason, BOTH haven't played well together in one match since the YEC Shanghai in 2008.

OTOH Nadal-Murray matches are almost always close. I predicted this one to be a barn burner, and it was.

Posted by Kristy 11/27/2010 at 01:20 PM

So sorry for Murray. He played brilliantly. But like Tina, I was sure Rafa would pull it out.

Murray should be encouraged, though. This was very impressive.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 11/27/2010 at 01:20 PM

Well I think we have seen from that match

Rafa really wants to win this tournament

Good Morning Everyone

I am with more "calm" now

GB I was reading your comments as usual Your Crack Me Up

A bit disappointed with Muzz in the t/breaker?????

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/27/2010 at 01:21 PM

NP:

I was referring to Murray repeatedly openly berating certain coaches during matches.

In Brad Gilbert's case, probably some of the abuse Murray directed Gilbert's way was merited and perhaps some was preemptive--in light of the all the moronic things Gilbert has said and will say while being paid to comment on tennis matches--some of which Murray may have anticipated witnessing while in front of a TV.

Posted by wilson75 11/27/2010 at 01:23 PM

Old man fed: Unless, Paris is made non-mandatory I don't know how the players are going to get from there to wherever far-flung place to play WTF the next week. And WTF was held in Sydney in 2001.

Posted by Arun 11/27/2010 at 01:24 PM

I can agree with one, imjimmy.
IMO, Rafa-Murray and Fed-Murray are currently the best matchups among the top 4, irrespective of the results.

Posted by deeps 11/27/2010 at 01:24 PM

Fantastic match. It was decided by the brain farts by both but they played some really good tennis to make the brain farts matter so much. I hope Nole Fed is as good. It was fun to see Murray and Nadal do to each other what they do to other players.

Posted by Arun 11/27/2010 at 01:24 PM

*that one.

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 01:25 PM

BTW, the entire '96 Sampras-Becker YEC final is now on YT:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYiJiPGZ1Eg

Seriously that was one hell of a scrap. Def one of the greatest matches ever.

Also, what remains unknown to many is that the two had played two more indoor matches previously, and Becker won both of 'em by the slightest margin (another 5-setter at Stuttgart and a RR match at the same YEC that ended in 2 close TBs). And trust me, Pete didn't do much wrong in both matches (Boris even then was very clutch in TBs, and he ended up with one of the best winning %s against fellow top 10ers ever). Shows what a fantastic indoor player Becker was.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 01:25 PM

imjimmy Hmmm Muzz has to do better in big points and when he gets leads

Same old story at times with him.

Posted by deeps 11/27/2010 at 01:25 PM

Arun,

I would put Nole-Rafa in there too.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 01:27 PM

Arun Just to go o/t for a min

Apparently we have found a way to bat?

Posted by Arun 11/27/2010 at 01:27 PM

deeps: In terms of pure 'intensity' and power packed tennis - yes. But I don't see the same kind of point construction and creative tennis that I can enjoy in the other 2 match ups. But that's just my opinion.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 01:28 PM

deeps Hi! your thoughts on the match.I watch in peace and of course with "calm"

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl VAMOS RAFA WINNER OF ALL FOUR GRAND SLAMS) 11/27/2010 at 01:28 PM

i'll see u guys tomorrow, i'm pooped, i need a massage, lots of stretching, and rest!
might pop in to say hi and check score, as i wish u all an uneventful or just drama-less semis, and wouldnt u know it nole once more is the djoker in this card game! will he fold or foil the plans of dream final?

Posted by Arun 11/27/2010 at 01:29 PM

You did, AM. Big time. Much to my chagrin. kind of. :)

On that note, I think I'm logging out of the forums for the rest of the weekend.
Enjoy the matches, everyone.

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 01:30 PM

MSF, "during matches"? I don't remember this. Has he actually called out his coach in the middle of a match?

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/27/2010 at 01:32 PM

Murray expresses his unhappiness with Brad Gilbert:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9TzSjzgZzI

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 01:32 PM

Bye Arun!

Eclipse Girl You should be use to Rafa's matches by now lol! Bye

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 01:33 PM

Holds To Love

When has Murray been happy? lol!

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 01:36 PM

NP I am a bit surprised to read and I did post that Roche is going to coach LLeyton Again?

I hope he dosent nod off too much in LLeytons matches

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/27/2010 at 01:37 PM

Just can't put Nadal away. The guy is superhuman ! There's no player capable of keeping up with him - he is relentless, and there can be absolutely no letdowns against him. It has got to be absolutely draining to play him.

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl VAMOS RAFA WINNER OF ALL FOUR GRAND SLAMS) 11/27/2010 at 01:37 PM

AM
knew u were lurking , you're already out of your rafa-induced mini-coma?
ha i was all over the place, here ,on my pc, standing screaming at rafa on the tv...

still this wasnt as bad as wimby 08, i passed on breakfast and lucnh coz i couldnt move from in front the tv, and i was too wind up to eat anything except for drinking water now and then....

i loved his smile at the end, he really wants this!

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 01:40 PM

If any1 cares, Becker ended up with a 121-63 win-loss record against top 10ers, Sampras 114-60. So 65.7% and 65.51%, respectively. Fed is the only one I know with a higher % (67.19%, 129-63), which, even after taking into account his competition, is pretty damn impressive, and which should tell you his mental strength is underrated (you don't make 23 consecutive SFs at the majors if you're a mental puss).

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 01:40 PM

eclipse 22 Seeing Rafa has been soo uptight in this tournament and not swinging freely as I would have liked eg USO tournament.I know he wants to win this tournament.

I think in todays match we all witnesses that fact.Rafa is a great fighter he has his eyes firmly on this prize.

Posted by GB 11/27/2010 at 01:41 PM

You were laughing AM, but you weren't providing vodka. Pffttt

Posted by Ruth 11/27/2010 at 01:41 PM

Nadal is one of those players (Serena is another) that you can always think or hope or expect to be able to pull themselves out of a deep hole in a match. But any fan/admirer of Nadal who did not think that, after those 3 stragiht breaks of serve, he just might have been a goner today must be absolutely crazy -- or have more faith than the average fan.

Question: Will the new ATP schedule go into effect in 2011 or after the commitment to have the WTF at the O2 ends in 2012? If next year, I'm surprised that the O2 venue would be available for a changed WTF date on such short notice. These kinds of places are usually solidly booked even years in advance.

Posted by Fern 11/27/2010 at 01:41 PM

Forgive my ignorance here, but is it definite that the WTF moves venue every 3 years or so? I'm asking because I visited this tourney twice over the last week - the place was buzzing on and off court, they've had huge crowds even for afternoon doubles matches... Even if 'money always wins' surely that puts the O2 in a strong position to be the permanent WTF home?

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 01:41 PM

AM, I was, 2. I thought he'd be too busy with his Aussie team-building duties. Didn't he just team up with Rafter for DC?

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl VAMOS RAFA WINNER OF ALL FOUR GRAND SLAMS) 11/27/2010 at 01:43 PM

AM
u'd think so! heck all of us should know better by now!
but i'm like an alcoholic, addicted with no cure in sight...(and not really wanting to be cure) watching rafa's like a workout without the sweat!
ok bye... chores to do , now that i'm 'colm' again...

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/27/2010 at 01:43 PM

point taken, AM. although Murray does have something of a reputation as a serial coach abuser, but it reached its nadir with Brad Gilbert. He has spoken about the difficulty of spending so much time one on one with a coach.* So the team format seemed like a better fit for him, and there did seem to be plenty of camaraderie and humor on team Murray, prior to the alleged tension over the role of Corretja.

*mum excepted? ;-) Judy Murray doesn't seem to type to put up with any lip. which reminds me, aren't we waiting on a Hannah/Judy interview?!?

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 01:43 PM

NP Roche will be say a secondary coach to Pat in the DC

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 01:44 PM

GB Okay I will pass 2 bottles of Vodka to you in the final ok.

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 01:45 PM

Rafa's win-loss % against top 10ers is 62.62% (62-37).

BTW Fed's and Rafa's %s don't include the YEC results. I'll update both stats after today.

Posted by NP 11/27/2010 at 01:46 PM

Make that after this tourney.

AM, gotcha.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 01:47 PM

Holds To Love

I think in ways Gilbert was good for Murray.Though that indicent in Hamburg where Murrays wrist went and Brad called him names from the side I thought was very unproffessional as a coach.Murray had to retire in that match and hads time off the ATP tour and then of course he came back with Myles.

Murray is stubborn in ways.Though has a good tennis brain to me

Do you think he needs a coach? apart from his mum who seems to be able to get on with him.

Posted by deeps 11/27/2010 at 01:51 PM

Hey AM,
It was a fun match. I enjoyed the tennis a lot. There were some brilliant moments mixed with some equally true WTF moments from both players. It was the best 3 set match of the year for me on the mens side. The first serves were very important in the match. It was nice to see Murray go for his forehands and play a lot more aggressive. And his defense was outstanding. He made Rafa hit 4-5 winners to win a point and then to see Rafa go blindly for the lines and miss. Usually we see Rafa do this to other players.

I love that Rafa has tried to go for his backhand more this tournament. Its still loopy most of the time but he hit some really good ones this match and that's because he kept at it from the beginning of the tournament. I hope he continues to do this in the masters, early rounds of slam etc... to get that b/h working and consistent again.

Posted by deeps 11/27/2010 at 01:56 PM

Arun,
Yeah Murray does a good job of getting Fed and Rafa become creative to put him away.

NP,
Word on Fed's mental strength.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 01:57 PM

deeps Me too with the b/hand it has gone missing big time.I have always said on a hard court Rafa's b/hand is his big weapon in ways.I was watching the AO09 final the other day again and Wow didnt it come into play then.Imjimmy brought up that same fact yesterday.He has improved with every match here.I am delighted after last years dismal performance he has made the final.I feel it has been playing heavy on his mind.He has got to the final I feel we might see a not soo up tight Rafa he hasnt been swinging freely as yet.Though he is such a great fighter when he wants he usually gets it.

Posted by imjimmy 11/27/2010 at 01:58 PM

I also thought Nadal looked gassed at certain times in the match. I'm also not sure about his serving. Against Djokovic, he looked to be serving well; the avg 1st serve speed was close to 120 and there were a few 130 mphs thrown in.

Whereas, today against Murray, Nadal's serve could be at least 5-7 mph off on average. Very few serves actually crossed 120 mph, and the serving got a little worse as the match progressed. Is it the shoulder? Furthermore, the fact that he was NOT aggressive enough from his backhand started hurting him. I thought Nadal was out of the match, BOTH in the 2nd set and when Murray broke back in the 3rd. However he fought back well, and Murray was a little unfortunate.

Let's see what happens tomorrow, and if Nadal recovers physically. At this pt, I would slightly lean towards Fed winning the title, assuming the Swiss plays the same way he did against Murray, Soderling in the RR. He's been the most impressive player in the WTF for my money..

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/27/2010 at 02:01 PM

imjimmy I have also said Roger to me is the one to beat in this tournament.Though I will never write off Rafa period.

Posted by Kwaku 11/27/2010 at 02:03 PM

Wow, what a match!
I did not expect Rafa's energy levels suddenly drop so blatantly around the middle of the second set, never to really recover again. And this was not even a 5-setter.
Is this boy is a fighter? Yes! Is he the fittest player on tour? No, I'm afraid.

Posted by trz 11/27/2010 at 02:03 PM

Rafa has practically won this match with unbelievable heart and mental toughness.

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

Hello everyone - that was a splendid first semi-final which I thoroughly enjoyed. Congrats to the Rafalites. He battled, as he always does, through whatever fatigue and funk got to him in the second set and rallied for the win. It was a bit disconcerting to see him miss a couple of MPs, (welcome to Federworld!), and fail to serve out the match. I think that is only the second time (?) I have ever seen that. But in the end, Rafa was Rafa, therefore he won.

As for the Muzz...some absolutely first rate/A+ tennis from him. At times in the second set he utterly dominated Rafa. I do have a suggestion for his coaching team however; outfit the guy with an electric shock collar and for about 3 mos., every time he tries a DS -ZAP!!! He came so close...one of the few times I have actually felt sorry for Muzz. But he had a hand in digging his own grave.

As a Fed fan, I DO hope this isn't a repeat of Bercy semi day...where there was a long, great first semi and then a long, not so great for a Fed fan, semi with Fed on the losing end. Fed has beaten the Djoker twice since the USO, but I think this court tilt things a bit OED's way. Frazzle me frazzled.

Posted by imjimmy 11/27/2010 at 02:06 PM

AM: AO 09 was the peak for Nadal's backhand. See the match against Tommy Haas and against Fed in the AO final. I mean, I've never seen Nadal hit the backhand so well, so consistently, ever since. He could literally hammer out cc backhand winners from anywhere and in any position, at will! His ROS from the backhand was also super aggressive.

I think Steve Tignor said in his column in '09, that he's never seen Nadal hit his backhand better and he was not sure, if he ever would. I guess Steve was right. While several parts of Nadal's game (serve and the slice most notably) have improved this year, the backhand has most definitely regressed.

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