Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - The Man Again
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The Man Again 05/21/2007 - 3:29 PM

Fedhamburg“If I have to lose to someone, he is the man, no?” Rafael Nadal asked in a gracious and not-totally-devastated concession speech yesterday in Hamburg. He was right in two senses. As the world’s best player, Federer was indeed the man to end Nadal’s (borderline insane) 81-match clay-court win streak. It was dramatic, historic, appropriate—and it makes the French Open a whole new kettle of fish. But Federer was also The Man once again in the Michael Jordan-Tiger Woods sense of the word, something he hasn’t been for months. It was actually surprising to seem him bring his best. (Maybe it was the Awful Red Shirt—seeing him in that thing again naturally made me recall all of his recent debacles.) As the third set rolled on and he hit winner after winner and won game after game, I found myself asking the television, “Is this really happening?” The TV kept saying yes.

In my reviews of their past clay-court duels, I found myself describing many brilliant individual plays by Nadal. The sneaky aces at big moments, the clever net game, the spectacular scrambling. Eventually I started to wonder when—or if—I would have an opportunity to itemize Federer’s brilliance. Yesterday he finally gave me a chance.

This time it was Federer standing on top of the baseline and controlling the rallies, sliding across the back of the court to track a sure winner down, making well-timed forays to the net, and using his serve to get him out of trouble.

Take a look at the game Federer played at 2-0 in the third set, when he had just grabbed the final bit of momentum he would need to make his run to a 6-0 final set. On the first point, he made two instinctive sliding volleys, the second of which he put past Nadal—these cat-and-mouse duels have almost always gone the Spaniard’s way in the past. At 15-0 Federer stepped into a Nadal return of serve and drilled a forehand into the opposite corner for a winner; I hadn’t seen anything that aggressive, that blatant from him in any of their matches on clay. At 30-15, Federer fooled Nadal with a wide kick second serve that landed dead in the corner and won him the point. The table had been turned.

After the last Federer-Nadal match, when Nadal tuned him up in Monte Carlo, I wrote an eight-point plan for success for Federer. Now he’s had the success. Does he owe me Tony Roche’s final weekly paycheck? Let’s take a look.

1. Don't change your game, but use more of it
You're a complete player, but usually you don't need to be. You can win by rallying and waiting for a mistake or drilling a forehand. That doesn't cut it against Nadal on clay. He doesn't miss enough, and when you play defense, he bullies you.

Learn from James Blake (I know that's tough to swallow, but just do it) and use combinations. Go hard to the forehand to push Nadal back and open up the backhand, or slice low to his two-hander to get a short ball. Your forcing shots don't need to be perfect. Make him beat you with a pass; it's better than sailing a forehand long.

Federer did go at Nadal’s forehand, though I don’t agree with the Tennis Channel’s Aussie color commentator that this was the single decisive maneuver. And the slice backhand to Nadal’s backhand that we’ve heard so much about? Didn’t need it.

What was key was Federer’s willingness and ability to stand in and take high-bouncing Nadal shots early. He did this at the beginning of the match, fending off two break points in the first game by going after his forehand. In the last two sets, I thought his extension through the ball on both sides was much better and more complete than it had been against Nadal in the past; Federer looked like a man let out of a cramped cell, suddenly free to swing away and take full cuts at the ball.

2. Guess on the return
Nadal almost always serves to your backhand, yet you miss many of those returns. Lean that way and try to get in after the return early in the match; you might get in his head.

I don’t know whether Federer guessed more often on his returns, but he was in better position for the backhand in general and missed far fewer in the last two sets. He came over many of them and snuck them into Nadal’s backhand rather than letting him come around for an inside-out forehand, which is how Nadal has so often gained the advantage in the past. At 5-2 and deuce in the second, Federer put a punctuation mark on his set-long resurgence by stepping into a second serve up the middle and ripping it past Nadal.

3. Think first-serve percentage
You made 55 percent of first serves Sunday. That's too low. Nadal attacks second serves, but on first serves he often sends back a hacked, floating slice backhand. Get the first serve in.

This was clearly not necessary yesterday. Federer served an even lower percentage than he did in Monte Carlo, 51 percent, and he didn’t appear to be taking anything off his first one. He did use it well on a few crucial points in the ad court.

Federer will need a higher percentage if he meets Nadal at the French Open. Nadal failed to take advantage of second serves in the second and third sets, but Federer doesn’t want to have to rely on his ground strokes to save him from mediocre serving over three out of five sets against the Spaniard.

4. Push him back, not wide
It's hard to beat Nadal out wide. But his long strokes mean he can be handcuffed by a deep drive down the middle, even on his forehand side. This may earn you a high, short mishit.

I suppose you could say Federer did this. He didn’t use the hook forehand to stretch Nadal wide to his backhand side the way Nikolay Davydenko did in Rome last week. Federer went after both forehand and backhand with flatter, deeper, driving strokes. These didn’t elicit a lot of short mishits from Nadal, but they kept Federer in control of most rallies.

5. Listen to Pete
You're a baseliner, so it's hard to become a net-rusher. But consider Pete Sampras' words about Nadal. He says he would have liked his chances because he could have gotten to the net on him. This is difficult on clay, but Sampras' confidence and mindset shouldn't be ignored.

Again, Federer was not all over the net on every point, but the aggressiveness he showed yesterday put him there regularly. On what may have been the biggest point of the match, at 2-6, 15-40, with another break and another disaster waiting to happen, Federer hit big from the ground, flew forward behind his strokes, and ended the point by knocking off a running forehand volley. It was as athletic a play as he's made against Nadal this year. It was a different mentality from Federer, and, from that point on, it was a different match.

6. Change the routine
Nadal pumps his fists, you hang your head. Don't let him monopolize the intensity in the arena. You're going for history -- getting pumped up now and then will remind you of that, and change a negative dynamic.

On the point following the one I just mentioned above, at 2-6, 1-1, break point, Federer moved in behind a good serve and wrong-footed Nadal with a forehand for a winner. The score was deuce and Federer yelled, “Come on!” (or something like that). Is it a coincidence that this first show of any sort of emotion from Federer against Nadal in either of their matches this spring would signal the beginning of a turnaround? Rather than accept the routine, Federer had used the opportunity of a saved break point and a second straight winner to send a message to himself that he was still in the match.

7. Have no regrets
Try everything in your arsenal. If he beats you after that, it wasn't meant to be. Remember this is all easier said than done. You're still No. 1, and surface variety is the spice of tennis.

I’m sure he doesn’t

8. Go win Wimbledon
And let us not speak of clay until next year.

As of this moment, it feels like his Hamburg win could help Federer through the rest of the year. It gets him past the Roche situation and the “slump” in one fell swoop. Of course, that goes straight out the window if he loses badly at the French Open.

What about Nadal? How did he let this happen? How tired was he? I saw him get more weary with each match in Rome last week, and then he had to do it all over again in Hamburg. He played five matches in five days there, including an exhausting three-set push fest against Lleyton Hewitt on Saturday. So, as he said afterward, he must have been somewhat mentally weary.

That said, if I hadn’t known this, I wouldn’t have said Nadal was overly tired. He was breathing heavily as he served at 2-5 in the second, but that’s the only time I noticed anything unusual. His performance over the last two sets reminded me of the first set of the French Open last year, which he lost 6-1. Both times he was pulling his backhand wide, which he rarely does, and which to me indicates sudden, surprised panic at the turn in his fortunes. There’s simply no reason for him to miss that shot in that manner.

Nadal took the defeat well. He smiled and talked easily with the tournament director Walter Knapper, who gave both Nadal and Federer a big hug of thanks for rescuing his event this year (good luck downgrading Hamburg now!). Nadal’s Uncle Toni also seemed at ease with the defeat, more so than Federer’s girlfriend, Mirka, ever appears to be when Federer loses. It was sad to see Nadal lose his streak by eating a bagel, but it may be the best thing for him at Roland Garros. There will be pressure enough trying to win a third straight title there.

How will all this otherwise affect the French Open? I don’t think it hurts Nadal until he meets Federer in the final. As I said, there will be less pressure, and now that he’s lost he may come out like a caged animal in his first few rounds.

But it helps Federer immensely, not just in a possible final against Nadal, but in his confidence through the earlier rounds. After struggling through a few three-setters last week, he has to feel that he can win on clay again. More important, now that he’s reasserted his No. 1 status, Federer may, for the first time, go to Paris thinking he should win.


 
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Comments
 
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Posted by roland garros 05/21/2007 at 03:36 PM

patrick, here are my picks for istanbul tomorrow:

masha - pironkova: masha
schnyder - chan: schnyder
williams - putchek: williams
king - senoglu: king
castano - groenefeld: castano
kloesel - afinogenova: kloesel
mirza - shaughnessy: mirza
sevastova - yakimova: sevastova (i'm picking the qualifier)

Posted by roland garros 05/21/2007 at 03:39 PM

patrick, over in strasbourg, in what has to be the shocker of the day, maes beat morigami in straight. what's up with morigami? when she's on, she can beat nadia in the first round of the french and win a tournament. when she's off, this happens.

anyway, here are my picks for tomorrow:

malek - bacquet: malek
camerin - pratt: camerin
bartoli - kriz: bartoli
yan - vesnina: yan
fedak - medina garrigues: fedak (upset of the day)
birnerova - osterloh: birnerova
tanasugarn - s. sun: tanasugarn
nakamura - dubois: nakamura
molik - baker: molik

Posted by roland garros 05/21/2007 at 04:29 PM

steve, nice analysis. who's your pick for rg: fed or nadal?

Posted by Alista 05/21/2007 at 04:41 PM

Great analysis. Federer finally broke through. I do think he will always have trouble with Nadal's forehand into his high backhand, though. That shot will always give him trouble. But it was a wonderful effort which makes Federer KADs like me very happy:-)

Posted by Beckham 05/21/2007 at 04:43 PM

Steve:
This may not mean anything for the FO but this was HUGE for the Fed...The scream after he won the match looked like he was exorcising some demons...add to the fact that he went over to Mirka which he has never ever done...I don't know what would have happened to his psyche if he had lost the match. This as Fed rightly alluded to doesn't mean anything once the FO starts but now he actually knows he can beat Nadal...as we all know there's a big difference between thinking/knowing you can beat someone and actually doing it. He has finally found his confidence and FH here's hoping he finds his serve by RG. Onto RG let the games begin :)

Posted by tom 05/21/2007 at 04:48 PM

i think nadal will win and will suprise us with new games
and he will get stronger

Posted by tom 05/21/2007 at 04:58 PM

hey steve, what do u think about Lleyton Hewitt?
i feel he is the 3rd force for RG

Posted by Jenn 05/21/2007 at 05:02 PM

Thanks for the analysis, Steve. I think you deserve part of that paycheck! Of course, Tony R. may have been screaming at his TV during the Hamburg final, cursing that Fed finally followed all of his advice only AFTER he canned him!

As a Nadal fan, it was very difficult to watch that last set. I still don't quite understand - the analysis aside - how we went from Nadal total domination of the first set and 2 break points to go up a break in the second to Nadal losing 11 of the last 12 games, but I was happy for Fed and as a fan of the game it makes Roland Garros (my favorite slam!) that much more interesting.

I thought it was nice to see Uncle Toni smiling and acknowledging the moment. It was a moment for both players - great win for Fed, possibly year-definining win, depending on how things turn out - and also a time to celebrate Rafa's brilliant streak that I cannot imagine will be broken anytime soon.

Posted by sane 05/21/2007 at 05:06 PM

The claycourt rivalry between Roger and Rafa is now a proper rivalry. Of course, as Federer knows, beating Nadal in a Roland Garros final will be a much bigger ask.

Would Federer have beaten a fully functioning Nadal yesterday??Perhaps not. Nadal will refresh himself, and will be a different opponent if they meet in Paris. Plus, it would be best-of-five sets."

Posted by omar 05/21/2007 at 05:12 PM

Steve, Slow down here, okay buddy. Don't hurt yourself with all these pats on the back. Anyone who has ever played tennis knows that it's always easier to play your best when you sense that your opponent is not at his best, bacause you feel less pressure. Fed sensed in the middle of the second set that Nadal was maybe a little bit stale, and it gave Fed the confidence to really unload his game from that point on.

When he plays Nadal in the French Open Final, though, and he sees Nadal is not stale mentally, will Fed still be able to play with the same daring and confidence? That's a tough one. I would be more impressed with Fed's win if it had been close all the way thru, but the fact that Nadal only won 2 games the last 2 sets is a clear indication that his powers were just not there yesterday.

Congrats to Fed, cause this win makes the French really exciting to look forward to, but at the same time don't be surprised if they play in the FO Final and Fed is not able to duplicate yesterday's performance. Also remember Fed had no pressure yesterday, but he will have ALL THE PRESSURE if they meet in the FO Final. That could be the difference. For what it's worth, I hope he does repeat this performance, though. Let's test Nadal's metal to see if he's really on par with Borg for GOAT status on slow courts.

Posted by Gavin 05/21/2007 at 05:12 PM

Great stuff, Steve, just a couple caveats of my own:

I thought Fed didn't have his best stuff, and was completely out of it in the first set, especially his serve and his movement. I've never seen him push so many shots. Ever. At the start of the second, when he fought off two break points, that was the turn around. After that, he started to hit out on his groundies, his movement got better, and his first serve percentage went way up. I didn't see a percentage for the third set, but if you dismiss the first set and just take the last two, his 1st serve percentage had to have been above 70 for both sets. His confidence and game both soared, and he definitely takes that to Paris with him.

Nadal just looked tennised out. Even in the first set. Not exhausted, but like he's played a bit too much and his style of play is starting to wear on him. Not that he won't be springing back to the baseline like always in a week.

Should be a great FO!

Posted by M-Life 05/21/2007 at 05:13 PM

Roland Garros-

You're awsome guy. Nobody is more committed than you about the WTA. And I thought I had a sickness. At least I follow the men.

Told you to watch out for Kostinic-Tosic. She is a pretty good player and a wiley veteran who is not yet past her prime. Not a world beater, but she's underated. You might be right about Shedova Yarislava becoming a top 20 player. I know some people like her game. Is she another big forhand hitting, double backhand, baseliner clone who is a bit better than most of the others? I really haven't seen enough of her to say. (any really) But all these "potential girls" will have stumbles along the way. This one just looked amply right. Hey, do you know when the FO draws come out?

Next time I'm in Dubai, I will look you up and we'll have some beers.

Posted by M-Life 05/21/2007 at 05:18 PM

Frances-

So glad you are out there. Nobody fires me up more than you. I can't wait till next week when you really get going with your absurd, ridiculious, statements. Just so I can fire back at you. So much fun!!!

Posted by Marcelo 05/21/2007 at 05:37 PM

yeah! hewitt played some great tennis this past week. I hope he keep it up, its good to see him in Roland Garros.
Fed and Nadal will have some tough matches until the final, but probaly they will make through!

Posted by patrick 05/21/2007 at 05:52 PM

Here are my picks for tomorrow:

Strasbourg:
Birnerova in 3 over Osterloh
Bartoli in 2 over Kriz
Bacquet in 3 over Malek
Vesnina in 3 over Yan
Medina Garrigues in 3 over Fedak
Molik in 3 over Baker (Glad to see Molik playing)
Pratt in 3 over Camerin
Dubois in 3 over Nakamura
Tanasugarn in 2 over S Son

Istanbul:
Williams in 2 over Poutchek (6 games or less)
Kloesel in 3 over Afinogenova
Mirza in 3 over Shaughnessy
Yakimova in 3 over Sevastova
King in 2 over Senoglu
Schnyder in 2 over Chan
Castano in 3 over Groenefeld (Groenefeld downfall continues for now)
Tatishvili in 3 over Dzehalevich

Sharapova in 2 over Pironkova (5 games or less). Maria will be on the court practicing more than match play tomorrow.

Posted by roland garros 05/21/2007 at 06:01 PM

m-life, you were dead on about tosic. she is wily and she's pulled off some notable upsets (the one i remember is when she beat stosur at this year's ao). all i know about shvedova is that she has a HUGE serve and she's won a tournament this year. i've been following her for some time now and, i have to say, i think clay just isn't for her. i had picked this tournament for her to go deep but she doesn't seem to be ready yet.

i believe the rg draws come out on friday, since the tournament starts on sunday as opposed to a monday.

i've always followed the women more than the men, and ever since i got the eurosport channels, i've been completely hooked. i think they have some kind of deal with the wta to show every tournament live that is tier ii or above. hey, works for me!

besides, lots of lovely ladies out there. much easier on the eyes than the men.

Posted by Anjali 05/21/2007 at 06:06 PM

Steve,

Terrific analysis. Quick question though: Did you notice anything different in Nadal's serve at the Hamburg final? That is, he usually has an absurdly high percentage for his first serves, and wins points. This time he had a high percentage again, but the points were not as forthcoming. OF course, Fed's aggression may have had something to do with that but I kept noticing that as Nadal disappeared in the 2nd and 3rd set, his first serve lacked penetration, and was not hit as deep or with as much spin. Why is it that Nadal's serve wins him so many points on clay, when we all know that even #100 on the men's circuit has a good shot at breaking Nadal on other surfaces? I guess this question is also based on Fed's comment that he has a hard time returning on clay.

Lastly, any thoughts on Nadal going out BEFORE the final at RG? i have a feeling that may happen.

Posted by steve 05/21/2007 at 06:12 PM

anjali,

it's true, nadal's serve was softer than it has been. very few service winners, which can't just be chalked up to federer playing better. i don't know what the answer is beyond some weariness. the serve is the most energy-consuming shot

going out before the final? hmmm, nadal may regret playing hamburg and messing with his preparation of the last 2 years. but who is going to beat him for 3 sets? it is possible, of course, but there's nobody who i would pick to beat him.

if he does lose early, it would make it harder to justify keeping three mandatory clay masters before the french. my guess is that nadal would not have played this week if he hadn't had to.

Posted by roland garros 05/21/2007 at 06:18 PM

patrick, you and i are identical on istanbul.

some interesting differences on strasbourg, however. the ones i don't quite understand are bacquet and dubois. i've never heard of the former and dubois is quite a marginal player whereas nakamura beat mirza at the ao this year.

i really hope yuliana pulls this one out. it would be a huge win for her.

Posted by patrick 05/21/2007 at 06:35 PM

Roland Garros,
Well, sometimes a player that is not known to the mainstream will pull off a upset from time to time. An example of this is where Masha opponent tomorrow beat Williams Sr. at 2006 AO.

Posted by Zola 05/21/2007 at 06:43 PM

watching Rome and then Hamburg, you could see the tiredness in Rafa's games. It started with the three setter with Davydenko in Rome and he was not himself there. Afterwards he said that he was very close to losing and the match took a lot from him mentally.

then he went to Hamburg with only a few days of rest. those who think he has not play a lot , have to remember tht he played doubles in almost all tournaments except Hamburg. In Hamburg he looked visiblt tired. just look at his picture on Hamburg website. So, I think he mentally and physically drained himself .His matches in HAmburg were not close to those in MC or Barcelona. The semi with Hewitt was the last straw to me and fed saw that too!

Federer came with much rest and lots of motivation and lots of sympathy, with a relatively easier draw. Besides he was the master of drama before coming to the finals . He had endured the worst tragedies in a champion's career all in the span of three months. Everyone wanted him to win and revive.

His performance in Hamburg was surprisingly patchy, but enough to take him to the final. In the final he played very clever, as if this was not the Fed who played Canas, Volandri or even Monaco or Moya...How much of it was strategic, only he knows. Fed is a chess player, and he knows his moves. Federer came just in the right time, played brilliantly and I think a mentally tired Nadal just couldn't react to him.

but did Nadal lose completely? No. He reached the final and kept the gap between himself and Roger as close as possible, while still being ahead in the race. He expected to lose the streak some time and perhaps psychologically had prepared himself for such a day. He said when the streak was still about 70, that he didn't expect it to go far.

He was drained from his match with Hewitt, which he said he did not play as 100% and as he said himself, if it was time to lose, who better than world No 1?

This win broke Nadal's streak, true, but it gave away some of the tactics fed can use. It made Nadal underdog again and took off two huge pressures off him, the streak and being the favorite in FO (just look at the poll in tennis.com) . Now having won Hamburg, where Fed claimed in a radio interview that he finally decoded nadal's game, the table has turned.

I see this more of a chess game than a tennis game. fed won the title, but he has a more difficult task against a fresher, more motivated Nadal who has less pressure on him. We can only wait and see.

Posted by Zola 05/21/2007 at 06:45 PM

I am sorry for such a long post!

Posted by Beppo 05/21/2007 at 06:49 PM

Federer has been getting closer and closer to "figuring out" Nadal (mainly, how to attack and how to handle the topspin going to his backhand). They've had some really close matches on clay, where Federer was only a few shots away from the upset (like Rome last year). I think the tables are turning. I'm not saying Federer will consistently beat Rafa on clay now, but I think it will happen more often, and I think it'll happen at the French Open at some point, perhaps even this year.

It does make the French Open more interesting now...

Posted by Anne 05/21/2007 at 06:53 PM

No way, no how is Rafa the underdog for the FO! Fortunately, Rafa is still young enough to not even care that he is the favorite-he just goes out and plays with wild abandon. Watched his concilatory speech for Hamburg on youtube-Rafa is toooo cute!

Posted by steve 05/21/2007 at 06:55 PM

thanks, zola. you stick by your guy but it makes sense. i was amazed after rome to think of nadal even going to hamburg.

i'm not sure i think of federer as a "chess player," though. i think he's more of an instinctive athlete, mover, and shotmaker. i think of nadal as more of the chess player.

not to say that federer isn't a smart player who can change tactics, of course.

Posted by michelle 05/21/2007 at 06:56 PM

Zola, you're so right! He looked tired even against Hernandez. Wish he didnt play Hamburg. *tears in eyes, snuff*

Posted by Anne 05/21/2007 at 06:56 PM

And my previous post is coming from a Fed fan-Rafa wil be super dangerous and wanting to win. Rog will lose again if he brings his 06 RG final game-he's got to bring his 10 slam game with him. I think his Hamburg win will do wonders for his RG state-of-mind.

Posted by helluvaforehand 05/21/2007 at 07:02 PM

Rafa is winning at RG. He proved his talents once again in the first set. He then psychologically gave K-fed a false sense of confidence. Also, K-fed won't ever measure to Pete. Pete had much stiffer competition.

Posted by Anne 05/21/2007 at 07:10 PM

Good Lord, Rafa is 20-he could go out and drink sangria all night and still be ready to play!!

Posted by Beckham 05/21/2007 at 07:11 PM

*Federer came with much rest and lots of motivation and lots of sympathy, with a relatively easier draw*

I beg to differ...Fed effectively took out the Ferrer, Ferrero, Monaco and Moya...I won't call that an easy draw...as they are all very adept on clay (and they all went to 3 sets except ferrer)... And there was no sympathy either...he was being crucified by the press...he was apparently in a slump and was given absolutely no shot against Rafa. Rafa played who??? Igor, Oscar, Lleytsie, and Gonzo who he took them all out in 2 sets except lleytsie who took it to him. I won't call Igor, Oscar, Gonzo or even Lleytsie world beaters on clay would you???

A fresher Nadal???

Frankly it is sort of belittling Fed's win that Rafa was mentally tired...Ummm Fed played over 100 matches last year...where he had to consistently step up to the plate...why didn't he loose a few matches here and there and chuck it up to tiredness and mental fatigue...Besides Nadal has played fewer sets this year than last year...and are we really saying that Nadal was so mentally tired that he couldn't pull out one game in the final set???

*Now having won Hamburg, where Fed claimed in a radio interview that he finally decoded nadal's game, the table has turned.*

Rafa is still the favorite as everyone is attributing his loss to being physically/mentally tired right????

I have nothing against Rafa but I find it highly annoying that his loss is being attributed to mental/physical tiredness...What happened to the Rafa who was the fittest player on tour???who was so mentally strong that Fed couldn't beat him???? shouldn't it just be that on this day that Fed was just the better player and in RG we will see who the winner is. Besides Rafa wasn't that tired when he destroyed Fed in the first set and was up two break points was he????

Posted by Beckham 05/21/2007 at 07:16 PM

*Rafa is winning at RG. He proved his talents once again in the first set. He then psychologically gave K-fed a false sense of confidence. Also, K-fed won't ever measure to Pete. Pete had much stiffer competition.*

Following your analogy...Rafa is also part of the weak competition right??? And in effect Rafa tanked his match to give Fed a false sense of confidence right??? *rolls eyes in disbelief* I guess you didn't see all the FH winners that Fed ripped right???

Posted by Anne 05/21/2007 at 07:23 PM

I think Beckham may agree with my sangria comment. Look, folks, it comes down to this; Rog brings the Hamburg final game, he beats anyone and everyone at RG. He brings his Volandri/Rome game, he loses, possibly even before the RG final. I've always believed any match Rog plays rests solely on his racquet. Could he beat Sampras/Laver/Borg in their prime? Don't know and never will. I do know that GS trophies are not given away (no matter what anyone feels the level of competition is) and it is extremely difficult to win 1 slam, much less 10. Watching some of the best players to play my beloved game is a real treat! Why can't ESPN pla RG all day-I can't get that cursed Tennis Channel!

Posted by Beckham 05/21/2007 at 07:34 PM

One point I forgot to mention...if Rafa was going to tank a match...why would he tank it to the one player who is his contender at RG???? If you are going to tank I doubt you tank to your main rival...Because winning the match would have destroyed Fed's psyche and confidence, no?

As Fed said he didn't think Rafa was tired...but if Rafa was tired he took advantage and if he wasn't he played fantastic...I am just glad the Fed FH and movement is back...awaiting the serve to find its way back :) Onto RG...let the games begin.

Posted by Anne 05/21/2007 at 07:35 PM

Wow, have this post all to myself. 'Nother thing, I firmly believe this 1 win brought Rog back from a potentially cruddy rest of '07 to a potential calendar GS for Rog. Again, I say-Wow.

Posted by patrick 05/21/2007 at 07:36 PM

Anne,
Wished ESPN would play RG all day,every day for the next 2 weeks but unfortuately, NBC has the weekend rights.

Posted by Rob York 05/21/2007 at 07:38 PM

Don't forget, this is the fourth time Federer has won Hamburg. Clearly, this is his favorite clay court event, and it is not much of an indicator of his future success at Roland Garros.

Posted by Anne 05/21/2007 at 07:40 PM

Patrick, does that mean we have to listen to Johnnie Mac all weekend? Oh, brother! I love listening to "Killer" Cahill!

Posted by patrick 05/21/2007 at 07:54 PM

Anne,
Hopefully,not. But, ESPN will probably have live coverage on the weekend early in the day, so you can listen to Cahill, before leaving the air so Johnny Mc can earn his money. Also, you know that ESPN will ask Cahill on the Fed coaching situation.

Posted by Anne 05/21/2007 at 07:57 PM

Wouldn't that be awwwesome to hear from the horse's mouth that Killer Cahill and Rog will be a couple?

Posted by Chris 05/21/2007 at 07:59 PM

You can talk all you want about what Federer needed to do tactically but I said when he lost at Rome this was all about the lack of 'fight' in the man. He needed to learn fight on the clay (different from just wanting to win). You could see in his matches at Hamburg leading up to Nadal, that though he was still struggling, he was learning to fight. You could see the emotion. You could see how fed up he was his play. Check out 1-1 in the 2nd set with Federer on serve at 30-40. After he hit that winner was the 1st time I've seen true fight in him on clay since Rome last year. Though it's easy to say now, at that moment, I truly felt he was going to win the match. Now on to Roland Garros with great confidence for Federer. But if you think Nadal won't come back hungry you don't know the man. If we get the dream final everyone wants to see I fully expect to see Nadal in top form that day, looking for revenge, and most likely an epic match with Federer.

Posted by patrick 05/21/2007 at 08:00 PM

Anne,
Interesting indeed but do you remember that Gilbert did not actually say on ESPN when he was commentating that he was leaving to coach Andy Murray but when you are getting paid almost a mil to coach not only Andy but the entire British system(Main pupil-Andy Murray)

Posted by Beckham 05/21/2007 at 08:03 PM

Hmm didn't Cahill just move with his children to Australia??? who's to say he wants to travel full time now??? And Fed needs a full time coach none of that 15 weeks nonsense...I want a full time coach...there's only a small window left for GOAT...Here's hoping Mirka likes Cahill..because alas we all know she's the deciding vote :) Allez Mirka Allez :)

Posted by patrick 05/21/2007 at 08:05 PM

Beckham,
Well said about the real coach,Mirka. I guessed that why he gave her a kiss at Hamburg yesterday. She probably formulated the game plan to beat Rafa.

Posted by Zola 05/21/2007 at 08:09 PM

Steve,
thanks. As far as the "chess play" goes, I was almost sure that Fed will come back in Hamburg. I even knew he could win this final and there was no way he would play the same in the final the way he played Moya or Monaco. But I agree that Nadal is not stupid either. All this shows how much the GOAT means to Federer. He is a real contender.

my dear Beckham,
what is the Fed H2H with Ferrer, Ferrero or Monaco?

being a Fed fan, it is probably hard for you to accept that Rafa was tired, but that is my impression and many others agree. Just look at the level of his matches in Hamburg and MC. I would have been happy if he withdrew any minute. show me a month that Fed played three tournaments in singles and doubles. Didn't he lose to Murray in Toronoto, just because he was too tired? I don't know how many matches he had played.

Anne
***Good Lord, Rafa is 20-he could go out and drink sangria all night and still be ready to play!! ****

Don't be so generous. you forgot he is still human! You would't want that for Fed I bet!


what I wrote was the outcome as I saw it and I don't expect my fellow Fed Kadz here accept those. They should be proud of their hero. A win is a win ans a loss is a loss. but this was a master series final. The slam is still ahead of us.

Posted by Kingdavid 05/21/2007 at 08:11 PM

yeah ...just got on this Blog...everyone likes to SPIN this the way THEY want to see it...you know politics...liberals / conservatives,,,atheists/ Christians...on and on and on...
simplifying things people who love Rafa are HATING today...people who love Rogi...totally basking in sunshine...it's human nature...yah know???
I do agree with Steve...after that EPIC Hamburg win...Rogi is entitled to be called " The Man "...of course me being a HUGE Rogi fan...
oh by the way now Rogi can hang up his Red Shirt...he proved it was NOT the shirt!!!
Yeah I know this Blog has their Rafa " groupies " on it ...Zola and the gang...that's cool...you should stand by your man...HOWEVER.. what's this newly coined " K-Fed " CRAP???
Is that comparing Rogi to Kevin Federline...Britnnie's loser trailer trash ex??????
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDIN' ME IF IT IS!!!!
anyway....
Roland Garros...have GOT to get you a little bit into the ATP bro...just so you can keep up the conversation when it veers off a bit from the WTA...
listen Roland....why don't you get things started with a NEW Hot List of ladies on tour...that should get this Blog heated up again...
Did you see the outfit Dani was wearing in Rome???
Dude ...she tanked in the Quarters...but I'll be damned if she didn't look like a Movie Star out there....golden glistening tan skin and all...THATS what I'm talkin' about!!!!!!

Posted by Beckham 05/21/2007 at 08:23 PM

Patrick
You maybe right because I don't think Fed has gone to his box before after a win even in his 1st grandslam he didn't go there...lol...kudos Mirka for a well thought out game plan...lol..Now if she could make him find his serve that would be fantastic :)

Posted by Anne 05/21/2007 at 08:24 PM

Zola, only if i got to partake in sangria with the Fedster-hee hee!! Do not underestimate the resilience of youth!! Rafa may be as close to a machine as there is-otherwise there would've been no 81 match streak!

Posted by FoT 05/21/2007 at 08:31 PM

Thank god for Beckham!

I'm reading through the posts and I can't believe some of them - from some regular posters - who said things like Roger had an "easier" draw? The way Roger had been playing lately - no draw was 'easy' for him. As Beckham said - he was being crucified by the press left and right. He was losing (for god's sakes) to Volandri of all people! So for him to come through almost the entire Spanish Davis Cup team - clay court specialists - I think Roger's draw was pretty hard indeed!

And for the other poster who said Roger's won Hamburg in previous years and it's not an indication of how he will do at the French. You are correct, however, with what Roger has been going through the last 4 tournaments - any win before the French was good for him. Roger also mentioned that they will start at ground zero for the French, but anyone in their right mind would love going into the French with a win vs 4 or 5 straight tournament loses! That's a no brainer.

I just think, like Beckham said, just accept the fact that Roger won and try not to take anything away from this win. When Nadal was winning everything in site, we Federer fans just congratulated him and moved on to the next tournament....where he promptly won again! lol! Roger wins his first clay title in 2 years and it's all analyzed on how he lost because Nadal was mentally tired, blah, blah, blah.

Again, Roger himself said (as Beckham pointed out again) that IF Nadal was tired, he took advantage of it (which you are suppose to do as a player); and IF Nadal was not tired, then he said he just played fantastic.

One other thing to remember is that for all of Roger's so called 'funk' he was in, for the slump some people said he was in, etc., Roger has beaten Nadal 3 of the last 4 matches. For having such a bad record against Nadal - that's a positive step for Roger and for his fans. Remember, Nadal was even beating Roger on hard court regularly at one point...so this is a good thing for us Federer fans to know that at least in 3 of the last 4 times they've played, he's come out on top. So for the French - anything can happen. I just hope both of these players makes it to the final so we can witness another great match between the #1 and #2 ranked players in the world - as well as the #1 and #2 ranked clay court players in the world. That would be fantastic.

Posted by Tim 05/21/2007 at 08:47 PM

FoT youre learning to fight the good fight, i love it!

Posted by soobydoo 05/21/2007 at 08:50 PM

Ah, I wish I would have watched the game. It looks like Fed finally broke through. Almost reminds me of Sampras vs Chang back in 1994(? can't quite remember) U.S. open match. Until then, Chang, surprisly, used to dominate Pete: Chang was #2 player in the world and Pete was #1. In that match, Chang again took the first set in a tie breaker. However in the second set Tie breaker, somthing happened. Pete totally began to dominate and disposed of Chang quickly. After that match, Pete just dominated Chang until he retired. Could it be the same thing? I hope not, it would be boring.

Posted by Tim 05/21/2007 at 08:51 PM

one thing is clear: the last cobweb re Nadal in Fed's head is gone...now, its just about two great players, playing on the day... lets put that 'in his head' phrase to rest, shall we?

Posted by Tim 05/21/2007 at 08:56 PM

lets harken back to the Aussies re the 'nadal was tired' crapola...

if you walk on court, youre fit, no excuses, well played, mate ...

rafa himself said he felt phsyically perfect, maybe mentally tired... well, this is his season to rack up ranking points and titles, so it comes with the territory...can we stop making excuses here, rafa sure doesnt wish some would follwo his lead...

Posted by Zola 05/21/2007 at 09:05 PM

FoT,

please look at the posts on Sunday. Me and almost all regular Rafa fans congratulated you and Federer immediately after the match. I don't know how you can disregard that. As I said a win is a win and a loss is a loss. But each side has the right to have their own interpretation.

Anne here thinks Rafa can play tennis every day of the year and don't get tired and I don't agree.

You think Fed's semifinal with Moya was harder than Rafa's battle with Hewitt and I disagree...

You have every right to be happy with Federer's win. It meant a lot to him and the fans obviously and in that it broke Rafa's 81 win streak, was a historic win. But I always said that to me he was never in a slump. A loss even to Volandri didn't mean anything, as his loss to Murray in Toronto and to Roddick in kooyong didn't mean anything and I was sure that he will come back the same way he came back and won USO and AO.

The media can be cruel, I agree. RAfa has had lots of hard time before IW and I know what you mean.

If you didn't read my posts on Sunday, I again congratulate you and Fed for this win.

Posted by Zola 05/21/2007 at 09:07 PM

Tim
***one thing is clear: the last cobweb re Nadal in Fed's head is gone...now, its just about two great players, playing on the day... lets put that 'in his head' phrase to rest, shall we?***

I agree. This will just make FO much more interesting. No more excuses.

Posted by Chris 05/21/2007 at 09:33 PM


Beckham, your facts about Fed and rafa in Hamburg Masters made alot of sense and I couldnt agree more.

With the slump Rog had to endure, the draw looks pretty tough. He would have lost against Moya if he hadnt stepped up his game and took control of the match. As for RG, I have watched most of the finals (dating back to '89 edberg-chang)....full of surprises and plenty of exciting moments I'd say. Let's hope there will be a Roger Slam before the clay season ends.

Though I am a huge Roger Fed fan, it was obvious that Nadal played differently in the 2nd and final set. And I wasnt quite sure why because he seems to always find a way to turn the match around. I was literally screaming with joy when Roger won and I think it woke my parents up fr sleep. Mind you, it was night time in Malaysia during the rog-rafa final. cheers everyone !

Posted by FoT 05/21/2007 at 09:34 PM

Thanks Zola... I will go back and read it from Sunday. For the most part you and all of the regular Nadal fans have been great. I guess some posts were just getting to me and tried to put a damper on my job... But I won't let it! lol!

As a lot of posters said. I think what both camps want (Roger's and Nadal's) is for both of them to be playinig their best tennis so they both can meet in the final. That's my dream. All I want (as a Federer fan) is for Roger to put himself in the position to at least have a shot at winning the French - like he did last year. Anything less will definitely be not only a dissappointment to me, but to him too.

And whether or not some people like Roger or not...you have to admit that by him winning yesterday really did make the French Open championships a lot more interesting. We now have 2 good story lines to follow (1) Can Nadal 3-peat; or (2) Can Roger win his first to complete a Federer-slam and the possibility of going for a calendar grand slam. Before Roger's win yesterday, #1 was all that most people would be inclined to think would be a possibility.

I do want to say to the Nadal fans...when you look at the streak in perspective...what Nadal did is just unreal. He has to be commended for that.

Posted by steve 05/21/2007 at 09:43 PM

yeah, i would say nadal was mentally tired, but if federer had gone down in straights, as it looked for all the world he would, there would have been talk about how he had just split from roche and was messed up by that, etc.

in other words, there's always something; all there really is is the result

Posted by hammerhai 05/21/2007 at 09:48 PM

- to back up anne in a earlier post -

hi zola, i know that you want to believe in your heart-of-hearts that nadal is the 'underdog' going into the fo like when we all believed in santa claus. but we all know that this is not true in any stretch of the imagination.

i know of only one player that has a 81 match win streak on clay and is a defending 2 time champion coming into the fo. and his name is definitely not roger federer.

sure federer won and hopefully cleared a mental hurdle against nadal, but the messiah of the temple of clay is still nadal and it will take a herculean effort on federers part to defeat him in the finals if they both make it that far [which i hope they do.]

no, the overwhelming favorite to 3-peat is nadal. i am just happy that federer won in hamburg because at least it does make the fo a little more interesting, because i am still pretty much ready to give nadal the trophy now so we can skip on to wimbledon...

my .02

Posted by Eddy 05/21/2007 at 09:51 PM

Nice post Steve. Nut I doubt it was your 8-point plan that got Fed the win. Fed found his game when Nadal was vulnerable. For some reason, Fed doesn't usually play well against Nadal on clay. But this result tells me he wanted it a bit more. I like how you said he may go into the FO feeling like he Should win. That's important.
Hey let's not treat Fed's win like some sort of miracle. Fed has had matchpoints on Nadal before. It was just a matter of time. Just came at a good time is all. Ya Nadal was tired, we already know that (he's probably won a lot of matches being tired, same with Fed). I don't like to see comments like "good job Fed", but with a tag added later on like "but". Like Steve said, "all there really is is the result". Fed still took it to him and earned the win. He also had the tougher tournament. Like I said before, Nadal is the last man who wants scraps like his fans have been throwing for him.
"besides, lots of lovely ladies out there. much easier on the eyes than the men."
Which is a fine reason if you're watching them for their looks.
Kinddavid, Beckham, FoT, Tim, thanks for having sense.
Cheers.

Posted by vamosrafa! 05/21/2007 at 09:53 PM

As usual Steve, you leave out the one component in Federer's game that allowed him to beat Nadal for the first time on clay: the simple fact that Nadal was overextended and obviously exhausted from nonstop playing.

The FedKADs are hilariously overreacting to their hero's fluke win. I dare say the poor souls will be mighty embarrassed and suicidal when their princess is humiliated again at Roland Garros by the ubertalented (and multidimensional) Rafael Nadal.

Posted by Beckham 05/21/2007 at 09:54 PM

Steve
If Nadal was mentally tired, shouldn't Fed be mentally tired also??? Fed has been on an unbelievable streak since 2003...everyone and everything is gunning for him on tour and he shows up time and time again...with all sorts of streaks on the line, and yet his performance of the last month or so is seen as a "slump", no one says his mentally tired, why??? then he finally beats his nemesis on his worst surface and everyone says his nemesis was mentally tired???? That just rubs me the wrong way and doesn't sit well. Can you explain this because I am scratching my head in confusion???? Why does Rafa get to be mentally tired after a month and Fed doesn't get that after almost 4 years????

Posted by vamosrafa! 05/21/2007 at 09:57 PM

>>> 8. Go win Wimbledon

Um, hell no. I'd like to see anybody BUT Federer to Wimbledon for once. Wimbledon is boring enough without the same robot winning every year.

Please Steve, for the sake of tennis.com's credibility, find another player to fangirl over. Your extreme bias towards everything Federer is so utterly embarrassing.

Posted by steve 05/21/2007 at 09:59 PM

beckham, read my comment again. i was trying to say that yes, nadal was mentally tired, but there's always something when every player loses.

i don't want to hear about people being mentally tired, the same way i don't want to hear about how a player was worried about his relationship with his coach and how he was going to fire him. neither matter—the result matters.

Posted by Eddy 05/21/2007 at 10:02 PM

Hehehe, when clay season rolled around Rafa KADs came out. Now that Fed has gotten a win on him, Fed KADs have come out. Just think it's funny. I can look at all the comments above to see what it means...more Debate!
p.s. Thanks for coming over here every blue moon Alista. Or whenever you can. Don't you blog at Pete's mostly?

Posted by ellen 05/21/2007 at 10:16 PM

wow steve...how nasty was that comment?

Posted by Kingdavid 05/21/2007 at 10:40 PM

to Vamosrafa...keep that crap to yourself.." someone to fangirl over " ????? what is THAT all about??? huh??? Fed is the NUMBER ONE player in the world and has been for a long time...his accomplishments NEVER get old...if Steve didn't write about how great he is...someone else would...Steve's bias is NOT what's embarrasing...but your post sure is...
relish the clay for a few more weeks...then its back to ALL FED the rest of the year..( or shall I say YEARS ).....yeah...THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!! Vamos Roger!!!!

Posted by ksajid 05/21/2007 at 10:58 PM

I am a Federer fan but I recognize the truth. Fed won several points by forcing the ball wide to Nadal's forehand and then taking the *short* cross-court forehand return on the rise. Well, don't expect Rafa to give such short balls in RG final. That means there will be longer rallies and we all know who will win when that happens.

Posted by jhurwi 05/21/2007 at 10:59 PM

Gavin at 5:12: you said Federer's first serve percentage had to be above 70% for the last two sets. Actually his first serve percentage for the third set was well under 50% (I think one article linked at Peter Bodo's site said 33%). The only part of the match I was able to watch were the first three games of the third set. Just as the announcers were saying his improved first serve percentage had won him the second set, he faced a break point in his first service game and I was sure Nadal was going to make a comeback. I still can't understand how he managed to win the set with such a poor first-serve percentage, let alone win 6-0.

Posted by Eddy 05/21/2007 at 11:09 PM

vamosrafa!, what is one man's princess is another man's queen. How dare you disrespect royalty! You don't have to like Fed, but I'd rather you didn't trash him like that. If you can't handle your man Rafa getting beaten by Fed with respect, what kind of fan are you? I wouldn't want you as a fan if I was Nadal.

Posted by Mod Squad 05/21/2007 at 11:39 PM

Steve,

I must say I'm a little baffled that some posters think you're too much of a Federer guy.
Anyone who reads you regularly would conclude you're pretty evenhanded.

Posted by steve 05/21/2007 at 11:48 PM

e: mine was nasty? just meant to be equally, well, something. every single match willcontain a reason for the loss, so none are really worth lingering over, unless it is out of the ordinary. mental weariness and coaching issues are just par for the course on tour. to make them a serious part of the discussion of a win or loss is just to cloud the real reasons for the result, which always happen right before your eyes.

Posted by rafaalltheway 05/22/2007 at 12:00 AM

To all RFed fans: Hamburg is one of his favorite tournaments - RG -> NOT! Do not expect miracles there.

If you think that Fed can repeat at RG, you better think again. Bring it on!

Posted by Nick 05/22/2007 at 12:02 AM

It's no mystery why Nadal would tire, mentally especially. His grinding game is largely about outlasting guys mentally, and gutting out the tight ones over & over again, coming out the winner far more often than not. I hope for his sake he learns to figure out a way to add more power to his game & shorten his matches. His game today is much more taxing, in every way.

This win is clearly good news for Federer, and if anyone needed a boost of confidence it was him, given what he's been through since the losses to Canas in the spring.

I agree with other posts here that say the French will see both of them swinging away freely. Federer with new found confidence that reaffirms TO HIM he's Number 1 in the world; and Nadal, with the media hype of the streak stuff now a non issue, fueled by the stuff that fuels him better than anything else: he'll be on a mission of vengeance, with something to prove.

Let the games begin :)

Posted by RedClaw 05/22/2007 at 12:16 AM

Nick,
Nadal has clearly succeeded at bringing more power and aggression and shortening up most of his matches. While he has played doubles as well this year, so it's harder to add up his total games played, he has played notably fewer games in singles so far this year - And all that with an extra tournament, Hamburg, which more than makes up for the lack of 5 set finals in Monte Carlo and Rome. (in games played, not mental stress/fatigue, shhh, that's a separate issue, I can hear some of you already)

So while he may've been mentally tired (I think he was, not that, as Steve said, that matters), even physically tired after his hard match with Hewitt, he's certainly succeeded in bringing the game to the opponents more and ending things faster this year.

Posted by rafafan 05/22/2007 at 12:16 AM

Guys, don't you think its a bit ridiculous that before nadal's loss, everyone pointed nadal as the high contender for French Open, and as soon as nadal loses, the surveys and articles (not just Tennis.com) suddenly choose Federer as the maximum candidate to win French Open? So Federer's slump over the last few weeks meant practically nothing, and Nadal's great streak of 81 matches- which no one has achieved, not even Federer in ANY court- was worth nothing? I think- despite my bias- nadal is the top candidate for French Open, and Federer for Wimbledon. I don't think this last match has changed anything- just the unfortunate end to nadal's streak. no?
-I haven't had time to read all comments, so if I'm just repeating someone's comments, or if I'm just not making sense, I apologize. But I just wanted to point out that the surveys are suddenly showing 60% for Federer's win at French Open, when just two days ago, Rafa was 60% to win Hamburg. Why the sudden change? If Nadal beat Federer on grass one day, which might as well be at Wimbledon, would that mean that Federer suddenly ceases being the King of Grass?

Posted by Beckham 05/22/2007 at 12:49 AM

I am a Fed KAD and I'm not carried away...Rafa is still favored to win the FO...As Fed stated he has won Hamburg 4 times and has never won the FO...lets not get carried away...everyone starts from zero...and 5 setters are very different from 3 setters...but it is nice to see Fed happy and confident going into the FO...we don't want a shaky psyche heading in...Fed just needs to find his missing serve before the FO begins...I was taking umbrage to the fact that the win by Fed was attributed to mental tiredness of Rafa...while Fed's losses were attributed to a slump.

With that bring on the FO and here's hoping that Fed finally lifts that elusive trophy :)

Posted by roland garros 05/22/2007 at 01:14 AM

kingdavid, as per your request, the all-new, revised wta hot list:

1) masha
2) nicole
3) maria kirilenko
4) myskina
5) tatiana
6) ana
7) jelena
8) anna c.
9) lucie
10) alona

honorable mention: daniela.

let's see yours, kd.

Posted by LJ 05/22/2007 at 01:22 AM

Nice, logical posts just above this one. I think Nadal is clearly the favorite at RG, given his consistency over best of 5 matches. I think both Rafa and Fed will be tougher to beat in best of 5, increasing the chance of a rematch final.

As a Fed fan, I wholeheartedly agree that Nadal was not his emotional self on Sunday. There were no shouts of "Vamos!" or leg kicks. Whether this was fatigue or frustration from Fed's game is hard to tell. I think, as some have posted already, this should boost Fed's confidence but not hurt Rafa's very much. I'd still take Rafa to win at RG in an even money bet (esp in best of five, where Roger is sure to love momentum and have to regroup and fight somewhere), but it's certainly more interesting now that the clay court monkey is off Roger's back.

Posted by tania 05/22/2007 at 01:29 AM

I think it was mistake for Rafa to play Hamburg.He has only one week to recover before RG.It kan cost him RG.

Posted by Tennista 05/22/2007 at 01:36 AM

I would be intersted in knowing what was the temperature in all H2H matches between Fed and Rafa. Any correlation between hot days and final result of matches?

Posted by ncot 05/22/2007 at 02:21 AM

rafa wouldn't have played in hamburg if he thought doing so would hurt his chances at roland garros.

that said:
1. roger won because he beat rafa. the score doesn't lie.
2. getting mentally and physically tired is part of the gamble that every player takes when entering tournaments.
3. rafa is still the man to beat at roland garros. roger is the close second.
4. poor roche. i hope he hooks up with lleyton soon. hewitt is my dark horse at roland garros.

Posted by Kingdavid 05/22/2007 at 03:00 AM

Come on Roland..NO DANI?????......you're killin' me!!
did you see her in that killer Nike outfit at the Rome Quarters???
well most of the rest I can agree on...except Anna C...she is a little rough looking..plus Dani has her number!!!!

1 ) DANI ( BY FAR )
2 ) MASHA S
3 ) ANA I
4 ) ALONA B
5 ) JELENA J
6 ) NICOLE V
7 ) TATIANA G
8 ) MARIA K
9 ) LUCIE SAFAROVA
10) MYSKINA

most of the rest in the Top 50 are Butt Ugly...Oh well....at least we have something
to look at!!!

Posted by balazs 05/22/2007 at 03:04 AM

Steve,

Don't you think that Federer was "struggling" only because he was "practicing" for the match against Nadal? I mean, to play aggressively on clay, which means more errors and a higher risk to lose against players that he could have beaten by staying back?

Posted by walter 05/22/2007 at 04:18 AM

how can anyone compare fed to nadal federer is by far the best ever !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Eddy 05/22/2007 at 04:21 AM

rafafan, 60% either way (Fed or Rafa) isn't saying much.

"roland garros, had it been one, maybe two years ago, I wouldn't have thought your list was quite so ridiculous. Myskina no. 10 to win RG? Comon! It's like you made a list of the hottest tennis players in order or something. Even then.... Kingdavid, yours isn't much better."
That was what I was going to say until I reread your post and realized it Was a hot list, lol! No offense.
Let the nightly WTA talk commence/continue.
What ncot said.

Posted by walter 05/22/2007 at 04:22 AM

how can anyone compare fed to nadal federer is by far the best ever !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ps iwish nadal would stop picking his ass

Posted by Eddy 05/22/2007 at 04:23 AM

walter, do I need to repost a past post where I point out that Nadal is actually better than Fed on clay? Or should I just show you the head-to-head between the two?

Posted by walter 05/22/2007 at 04:26 AM

ok whatever u say

Posted by walter 05/22/2007 at 04:27 AM

ok whatever u say

Posted by walter 05/22/2007 at 04:35 AM

2 bad nadal cant make it 2 any other grand slam final but whos always there and winning i might add hmmmmmmmmmm!!!!

Posted by walter 05/22/2007 at 04:35 AM

2 bad nadal cant make it 2 any other grand slam final but whos always there and winning i might add hmmmmmmmmmm!!!!

Posted by Eddy 05/22/2007 at 04:37 AM

Lol, stop double posting. I said on clay. No one is saying he's not the no. 1 in the world.

Posted by ncot 05/22/2007 at 06:16 AM

here comes another one of them, juvenile fans. :)

the things tennis does to people...

Posted by chloe02 05/22/2007 at 06:35 AM

Rafa had to play Hamburg as he and several other players had made the case for 3 clay court Masters prior to Roland Garros plus Rome was changed to best of 3 specifically for him and Rog. Of course he was tired - the guy had just won 2 back2back Masters and was gunning for a third. Using Pete B's analogy, Rog knew he had to keep tracking after his target and if you had to find a place where Raf was at his most vulnerable, Hamburg has to have been the place. But surely that's the name of the professional game of tennis - like a boxing match, it's who's left standing when the bell calls time.

However, Rog had to deal with his own demons as well as make the changes (as analysed by Steve) necessary to get the win. Btw, I think Rog also took some of Raf's athleticism away by playing behind him a lot and not letting the 'runner, run' if know what I mean.

Tell you what, this final sure beat the hell out of Stepanek vs Robredo last year!

Posted by papo 05/22/2007 at 06:54 AM

walter,

Were you watching last year when Nadal reached the Wimbledon final and took a set from Federer.

It should have been two sets if he hadn't choked serving for the second set :(

Hope he makes another good run at Wimbledon this year.

Posted by Andrea 05/22/2007 at 07:28 AM

Not taking anything away from Fed, but his service percentage was really low throughout the match and he was able to get away with it on Sunday. The commentator for the match noticed the same thing and said that this is one of the advatages of playing Rafa in a 2 hour, best of 3 match. He also said that Fed has been succesful against Rafa in patches and the French will be the big test as it is best of 5.
Steve, since you put up a 8 pt. plan for Fed and now that it's accomplished, maybe you should put up a plan for Rafa at the French and how he needs to beat Fed since Rafa is no longer "in his head" and lost the mental edge.

Posted by Andrea 05/22/2007 at 07:36 AM

Here's the trophy presentation from Hamburg:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=glF5dwAqAWI

After seeing his grace in such a huge defeat, I am a bigger Rafa KAD than ever. Vamos Rafa!!!
I thought it was interesting and cute that he wished Roger good luck for the french.

Posted by Alista 05/22/2007 at 07:50 AM

I'm a Fed KAD and I although I didn't see the match I can accept that Nadal may have been mentally tired, but that doesn't take anything away from Federer's win for me. A result always means something, like Steve said.

In terms of the matchup, it doesn't say anything about future matches for me either, except that it will probably help Federer's confidence against Nadal on clay which is a big thing for him. I do think Federer will always have trouble with Nadal's forehand into his high backhand ... it's just a difficult shot for him because he hits a one-hander. A one-handed backhand against topspin like that requires tremendous upper body strength and control to get a good return off the kind of topspin that Nadal hits especially when it gets high off the ground which is every time. So I really don't think that Zola and other Nadal fans have much to worry about at this point. I really believe that Nadal will always be a difficult matchup for Federer for the reasons I just described.

Posted by ksajid 05/22/2007 at 08:06 AM

Guys, don't get too much carried away by Fed's Hamburg win. This win should be seen in the light of Wilander's comment after 2006 RG final. Nobody expected Fed to win against Nadal at Hamburg, so he played that high risk game in second and third set, and had no fear of losing.

In RG, everything will be on the line. Fed's declining age tells me that this is his last chance or second last to win RG. That's when Fed will feel the pressure and go back to the game he played in 2006 final or MOnte Carlo final.

I will be glad if TMF proves me wrong though.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 05/22/2007 at 08:08 AM

hello!

I have no idea where to post things: is this the new place for the WTA discussion.........(apologies for double posting)

mmm, about Serena and RG: to be honest I have the feeling that it is less about Serena than actually the quality of her opponents,

I mean by that Mauresmo is "out" physically these days because of her operation and she won't have time to find her competitive marks, Petrova is down,Hingis is out, Henin well we saw what happened in Miami but most importantly in Poland.... Vaidisova-the new-Maria-that-never-will-be has a wrist injury (her sponsors must be very glad.... Btw is her wrist injury linked to her sponsorship with a watch maker???); Sharapova, well I'm not sure (and I really say I'm not sure about what she is capable of doing on clay with her injuries (and horrendous serve)...Ivanovic does not stand a chance against Serena even if Serena had dripping wounds all over her legs and was not able to serve (because she's busy holding an ice cream) or cannot actually see the ball.
That leaves us with Kuznetsova who lost on FOUR finals and Jankovic who is really doing great. Janko has the physical stamina to take on Serena....JANKO-SERENA That would be an interesting Final.

still, pretty grim when considering the level of women tennis.... That's why when Serena says that Venus will be one of the contenders, I truly believe her. Just like I believed her when she said she had good chances to win the Australian open (a true and absolute warrior moment......negating all the naysayers)

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