Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Fired Up for Fall?
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Fired Up for Fall? 09/25/2008 - 6:24 PM

ChinaHow do you know when you’re a truly sick fan of a sport? One measure is how much you like watching your particular game of choice when it’s at its most meaningless. I certainly qualified as a kid. I can’t think of many times when I've enjoyed tennis more than during the desultory fall European swings of the 1980s and 1990s. My dad and I loved seeing the muted, yawning crowds; hearing the stultifying thud of the ball hitting the racquet in a cavernous arena; laughing at the obscene winners’ checks and over-designed trophies—once derided as “golden helicopters” by Martin Amis—and getting to watch guys like Brad Gilbert and Michael Stich (Marat Safin, Nikolay Davydenko, and David Nalbandian are their descendants), who almost never won Slams, show off their best stuff when there was little more than money on the line. It was must-see viewing for any tennis junkie with a sense of humor.

I mourned when the granddaddy of all joyless and hollow tennis events, the ITF’s Grand Slam Cup, was discontinued. Somewhere along the line it merged with the ATP’s World Championship to become the more dignified but maybe not as enjoyable Masters Cup. That’s been true of the fall season in general in recent years. It still seems tacked on; it’s still a time for the second tier to shine; and the crowds still look a little bored. But the mandatory Masters events in Madrid and Paris have drawn better fields and made the events seem like more than just excuses for sponsors to display their logos. On the men’s side, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have each won in Madrid, and this year the No. 1 ranking is still undecided on either tour.

Despite this respectability, I still like the fall season. Part of me thinks we could live without it, but when the Tennis Channel shows every round of Madrid and Paris, and the best eight women and best eight men spend a week fighting it out at the season-ending championships, I know I can’t complain. Like any other season, fall ball deserves its preview. Here are five things I’ll be looking for:

1. Who will be the year-end No. 1s?
Nadal is the likely candidate on the men’s side. He’s ahead of Federer by 1100 points in the official rankings (for perspective, a Masters event is worth 500 points and most other tournaments about half that), and Federer is ahead of Novak Djokovic by another 1100. Nadal needs to defend a quarterfinal finish in Madrid, a runner-up finish in Paris, and a semifinal run in Shanghai. Federer is playing two additional smaller events, Stockholm (worth 225; he didn’t play it last year) and Basel (worth 250; he won it last year). The race isn’t tight, but it isn’t over (as far as I know; I'm not an expert), which puts something on the line when these guys play.

The women’s race is much tighter, of course. Serena Williams is No. 1 now, but Jelena Jankovic is just behind her and Dinara Safina and Ana Ivanovic are within striking distance. The wild card is Serena. How much will she play? Being No. 1 has never been a goal in itself for her. We know Jankovic will crank out points, Safina won a Tier I in Tokyo last week, and Ivanovic will likely get better the more she plays. It would be nice to see it come down to the big, $4-million-dollar, season-ender in Doha. I can just see the winner flying off in a golden helicopter.

2. Can anyone become the David Nalbandian of 2009?
It’s easy to imagine Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic suffering from a slight, maybe even subconscious lack of motivation at this point in the season. Last year it was enough to give Nalbandian a chance to hoist the trophies in Madrid and Paris. If the same thing happens this time, you’d have to think Juan Martin Del Potro would be voted most likely to succeed. He’s won four smaller events, reached a Slam quarter, and cut his teeth in Davis Cup. Next on the agenda is a Masters title. But blocking his path may be Andy Murray. He’s had a long year, just like the Big 3, but he’s gathered momentum in the last four months and has just one Masters win to his credit, so he should be hungry for these. He also shouldn’t be any more doubts about whether he belongs with the big boys.
Sleeper: Marin Cilic—tall helps indoors.

Nd3. What will the atmosphere be like at the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha?
Like I said above, this early November, megabucks event far from the sport’s capitals feels like Grand-Slam-Cup, golden-helicopter time. The WTA’s season-ending round robin was dead on arrival in L.A. earlier this decade and was quickly yanked out of Madrid in favor of the money in Doha. You can’t blame the tour for making the best deal it can make, but will the upshot be an airless, buzzless finale? The ATP’s shift in the opposite direction—its season-ending event travels from Shanghai to London next year—feels like the smarter long-term move in terms of visibility and fan interest. But we’ll see: The men’s tournament in Dubai this past year didn’t appear to be jammed, but it was livelier than I thought it would be. Maybe Doha will be the same for the women. Whatever the fans were like in Madrid, and they were hardly a raucous bunch, the tournament gave us the women’s match of the year last year, a three-set final between Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova. Unfortunately, neither will be in the area this time.

4. How much will Novak Djokovic put into his fall campaign?
I’m curious about this not just because he ran out of gas last year, but because he’s shown a tendency toward ambivalence about his fortunes as 2008 has progressed. Sometimes he competes with all he’s got, other times he looks like he’s trying to lose without actually tanking. (That's not an easy balance to strike; he might as well just try his hardest.) Now that he’s not progressing up the rankings anymore, what will his commitment be from match to match and week to week when there’s nothing huge on the line for him?

5. Who is going to win the Davis Cup?
The good news is that it’s Spain vs. Argentina; the bad news is that the Argentines are trying to play it on carpet indoors. If that happens, some of the traditional emotion of DC in Buenos Aires may be muffled, and the glory of seeing these two clay-court nations face off on their native surface would be missed.

Still, it’s a smart move. Why give Nadal a chance to beat you twice on dirt? Even indoors, I like his chances against Nalbandian or Del Potro, though both matches would be wars. Ferrer strikes me as the chink in the singles armor for Spain, and while that team is more settled with its doubles pairing of Lopez and Verdasco, Nalbandian is more talented than either and can carry his partner on a good day. Argentina has never lost at home. But as of now, and barring an injury to Nadal, I’ll pick Spain to close out the 2008 season on top. And to walk away with a very nice, very traditional trophy.


Posted by 09/25/2008 at 06:54 PM

I wouldn't give Spain the edge if Rafa and Ferrer go to the Masters Cup right before the tie and the Argentines don't. I wonder if the Spaniards would skip the Masters Cup - Davis Cup just seems a lot more important to them.

Posted by Shannon 09/25/2008 at 06:55 PM

I love fall tennis!

Posted by princepro110 09/25/2008 at 07:39 PM

I guess my tennis season always ended at the US Open but with your posts on it makes it a great year round event. Thanks!

I like your comments on Djokovic and his turning tanking into an art form. He didn't due a very good job of this new art form in the US Open as that was very blatant!

I would love to hear your opinion about John McEnroe Sr sucking up for the ATP job. His sons behavior this summer may have hurt his chances but John Jr. seems to get a free pass by all in the media and tennis world for his behavior. His F bomb trashing the Washington family in WTT and his one finger(racket) salute to the fans in Newport may have crossed the line for the suits in the USTA and their power brokers.

Posted by Master Ace 09/25/2008 at 08:38 PM

I like the fall season especially on the WTA as Tennis Channel(except ATP Masters Series) devotes its coverage. One thing TC can do better is to give the Tier I events in the WTA more coverage. Seeing the final only in Tokyo was not fair especially the field was loaded even though it was Davis Cup weekend. They could have found a way to show the semis on tape delayed.

Now on to the questions:
(1) Rafael Nadal and Jelena Jankovic. Reason for the WTA choice is Jelena is playing 5 tournaments and the YEC to end the season. However, I do agree that Serena Williams is the wild card. If Serena wins Stuttgart and Moscow, I will revise my choice. Also, if Dinara wins Moscow, she will have very strong case for number 1.
(2) Andy Murray is the Nalby of 2008. However, my dark horse is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as he has basically been forgotten since his run at AO. He is just returning to the tour after missing from the FO-pre-USO with injury.
(3) London is the perfect venue for the ATP WTF starting in 2009 as their matches can be viewed around the world in somewhat reasonable hours. Even though I like the WTA, I just do not believe that Doha will be able to create a decent atmosphere but I could be wrong.
(4) Great question on Novak and I believe his results will be better this fall as he will probably play Bangkok, Madrid, Paris, and the YEC.
(5) For some reason, I believe Argentina will find a way to squeak this one out even if Rafael was to win his 2 matches.

Posted by ND 09/25/2008 at 09:06 PM

I wish the ATP race was a little more close. But, yes, hopefully we will see a new Nalbandian. Maybe Muzzah is not that spend, and can put in a good showing. And, I miss Tsonga...hope he can upset one or more of the big three.

Posted by My Perpsective 09/25/2008 at 09:51 PM

If Nadal extends his ATP race points by 102 or more, he is the year end #1 no matter what Federer does. Even if Federer wins stockholm, madrid, paris, basel and TMC the max race points he can earn is 445. Nadal is ahead of Federer by 344.

Its a done deal for Nadal. The scenario of him losing before the semi finals of madrid, paris and TMC & Federer winnning out the rest of the year is one real long shot.

The interesting thing will be the difference in their ranking points at the end of the year. That could pave the way for fantastic battles for the #1 spot should they meet in finals early next year.

Posted by Eric 09/25/2008 at 10:05 PM

Steve, nice write-up at a time when there isn't much to write about.

One thing: I found it almost impossible, from any angle, to group Marat Safin with those other four dudes. I know things aren't always meant to be taken on the literal level, but even so, Safin is a too great a cut above BG and Davydenko in terms of game, and easily ahead of Nalby in terms of showings at the majors. Stich probably comes closest when you factor for both talent and Slam results, but even then, I think Safin is still probably in a different league entirely.

In any case, hope Marat's not reading this because if his on-court temperament is any indication of his day-to-day grip on his surroundings, a monitor was probably just smashed against a wall followed by some foul Russian vocab.

Posted by Biljana 09/25/2008 at 10:15 PM

Reading this article one can almost feel fall sneaking in between sentences announcing what is to come. Steve has that ability to lace simple game of tennis with poetry and that is why I enjoy reading his articles so much. While here in Canada everybody waits for hockey season to come, me and my husband(still more me than him) are still faithful to tennis and enjoy it as much now as we did beginning of the year and as a true Novak Djokovic fan I am waiting(with a touch of anxiety) to see what kind of emotion he is going to show this fall. I am hoping for an anger more fierce than ever for his game is unbeatable once he shows interest and it also brings excitement that no hockey game can ever bring. As much as I felt that his struggles were going to come starting Wimbledon that much I feel he is getting over them... I can not help it, his play and presence on court capture me completely.
On the other note we can already see Roddick(above)embracing the
fall by impersonating Chinese(it is forgiven for it was in pursuit of impressing the ladies)and just joking, of course. I must admit I
like his personality despite many bad judgments on his behalf in the past. I almost feel sorry for him for he seem to struggle in
finding his way.
To wrap it up I think Rafael Nadal will continue strong, Roger Federer will have good and bad days. I do not think there is going to be one athlete excelling but there will be a group of 2,3 players including Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will prove his worth.

Posted by VE 09/25/2008 at 10:19 PM

I'm another guy who pretty much considers the US Open the end of the tennis year. I'll watch Madrid, Paris, YEC (ATP WTF - what a brilliant acronym btw), but only with a passive eye.

I'm curious as to how Nadal approaches the fall. He's never played his best ball on the carpet and the No. 1 ranking is rather close to secure. He knows his best chance to do something else that really matters is in Melbourne, but I guarantee the year end No. 1 slot is on his mind more than he'd care to admit.

I'm taking this year off the WTA, I'm more ambivalent about it than I've ever been. Whoever gets the No. 1 ranking this year will have acquired it by part attrition, part dumb luck, part health at the right moments and yes, a shred of good play. Serena's the only woman in contention that I'd respect as No. 1 right now, though Dinara is making a strong case.

Posted by oski 09/25/2008 at 11:25 PM

Argentina will beat spain this time, Nadal won't be capable of avoid it this time. Spain won DC only at home....Even in clay I think Argentina can win.
Players to watch in Madrid-Paris: Del Potro, Murray, Federer.
Nadal will b

Posted by oski 09/25/2008 at 11:27 PM

Nadal will be No 1 this season.

Posted by Andrew Miller 09/25/2008 at 11:28 PM

Great picture. Really hope Andy Roddick wins one more major.

Kind of hard to see Ferrer go down: he's had a good boost on the bull ring. Kind of feel it all depends on Del P.

Posted by twist serve 09/25/2008 at 11:52 PM

Hey, Steve:

You said you like Nadal's chances agsint Nalbandian indoors (off clay I presume) in Argentina. Considering their head-to-head (6-4, 6-0 and 6-1, 6-2 Nalbandian), can you say what your confidence is based on?

Posted by rg.nadal 09/26/2008 at 12:27 AM

Fall season is swell, esp for WTA tour this year.

Good article, but was that nudge & hint towards Novak "not trying enough" really necessary?

Posted by Salgari 09/26/2008 at 05:35 AM

How will Argentina match Nalbandian and Del Potro for their ties against Spain. Will it be Del Potro - Nadal first, and Nalbandian - Ferrer secondly?

What I mean is, is Del Potro actually Argentina´s number 1?

Under my point of view Del Potro is still far away from Nadal on clay (everybody is). But if it were indoor... What a match!

Of course will Nadal be this years number 1. He deserves it!

And whatever surface Argentina chooses Spain will win:
- Clay. Spain 4 - Argentina 1(Nadal both, the doubles and one of Ferrer games).
- Indoor. Spain 3 - Argentina 2 (Nadal and the doubles will fall for Spain).

Any guesses?

Posted by rg.nadal 09/26/2008 at 05:54 AM

I would have to go with Spain irrespective of the surface, if Nadal is playing. Rafa's hard-court (in turn his indoor game) has improved a great deal and if fit he would be tough to beat.
It also would be very close between Ferrer and Nalby. The last time they played on indoors at last year's Paris Masters Nalby won a tough encounter.

Posted by Kenneth 09/26/2008 at 07:59 AM

I had no idea Nadal had so many tough rounds to defend; from the absolute convincing arguments that the dude just slacks off after Wimbledon, I was under the impression he had just first and second round losses in the fall. This makes things much more interesting. I said way, way back after Roland Garros that Nadal could be the first man to ever win three slams and finish the year #2. Clearly that's out of the question, but when was the last time a man won two slams and Olympic gold and still failed to seal the deal? Things are far more complicated than they seem.

It's either going to be Murray or del Potro. Funny that you give Nalbandian little chance to tri-peat his efforts; last year wasn't the first time he foiled year end efforts from the top guys. My feeling is that he'll want to avenge his desultory losses in DC.

Spot on about lackluster Djokovic. But also, only Federer in the past few years has been able to capitalise quickly after his first slam win. It usually takes much longer for guys to compound their interest, so to speak.

Are we still talking about the WTA??

Posted by Nancy 09/26/2008 at 08:19 AM

Nice post, Steve. Thanks.

"It’s easy to imagine Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic suffering from a slight, maybe even subconscious lack of motivation at this point in the season. Last year it was enough to give Nalbandian a chance to hoist the trophies in Madrid and Paris"

Well, Nalbandian didn't win these titles last year because the top 3 was lacking motivation. He simply elevated his game and improved his serve, With last year's form he could've beaten anybody whether they "lacked motivation" or not.

Regarding the DC final, It's hard to predict a winner. Nadal's HC game has improved alot from last year and Ferru isn't a cake walk on fast courts either. I won't talk about the pairing of Verdasco/Lopez cause I was never big on doubles and I don't know how much damage they can do. On the other hand, It's played on Argentine grounds and they never lost on their own land. Despite Nalby's injuries and poor form in 08, DC is the only time you could really count on him to rise to the occasion and on a good day, he can take out anyone. Del potro is a tough player and he proved he can handle the pressure very well besides, both of them prefer playing on fast courts so we'll see.
I wouldn't rush into crowning Spain as the DC champions.

Posted by Debanjan Roy 09/26/2008 at 09:20 AM

"...It’s easy to imagine Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic suffering from a slight, maybe even subconscious lack of motivation at this point in the season...".

The above statement represents a gross contradiction in terms: basically an example of convoluted thinking from Steve, what with two Masters, DC Final and Masters Cup, looming up on the horizon in this very season,promising a bounty of exciting Tennis for us.

Posted by linex 09/26/2008 at 09:38 AM

Let us hope Nalbi does it again ... but it is a difficult task.

On the other hand, Arg Spain will be very close, carpet is a good option to play the singles for Argentina but for the doubles the carpet favours Spain because Verdasco and Lopez have better serves than the argentines.

Posted by cliffie 09/26/2008 at 10:44 AM

I understand the number-crunching issues with #1 for ATP, having to defend points, etc. But honestly - if Nadal doesn't finish #1, it's kind of a sham.

In my mind, any man who wins the number of tournaments in any given year that he has won, PLUS wins RG, Wimby, and the Olympic Gold - well, there should be no question...

Posted by SwissMaestro 09/26/2008 at 11:21 AM

Are we all forgetting what Nalbandian is capable against anyone on a given day? Proof of that is that he knows how to beat Nadal on a fast indoor hard court or else remember Madrid and Paris 2007. I'll take Argentina for the title 4-1 over Spain with Nalbandian beating Nadal and loosing to Ferrer, Argentina taking the doubles and Del Potro beating both Nadal (yes, Nadal to loose twice) and Ferrer.

The year end No.1 is Nadal's to loose. Federer would have to win virtually everything he has left to play and Nadal would have to loose in earlier rounds that he did last year. Not very likely to happen...

I don't really "care" about the WTA without Justine and her fierce, competitive intelligence so I'll say Serena keeps the No. 1 ranking for the year end just to name someone...

Djokovic? He'll do better thanhe did last year but he won't close the year on fire. Wins Bangkok, finals in either Madrid or Paris (he could win in Bercy) and will loose to Federer in Shanghai (either in the group stage, SF's or F).

These are my picks for the las tournaments left:

Bangkok - Djokovic
Beijing - Roddick
Tokyo - Del Potro if he happens to play it.
Stockhom - Federer
Basel - Federer

Madrid - either Federer or Djokovic
Paris Bercy - Murray
YEC - Federer

Posted by daylily 09/26/2008 at 11:25 AM

the only reason, as you said, steve, that rafa tails off at the end of the year is injury/fatigue. this year he's in wonderful shape, seemingly, and i have confidence in his ability and motivation to finish the year as number one with little difficulty.

as always, nicely written.

Posted by SwissMaestro 09/26/2008 at 11:31 AM


I see your point. It just seems unbelievable the kind of mental as well as physical battle Nadal has had to endure during these past 3 years. Having to win so much and still come up short, it never seemed to be enough in the end, testament to his fighting spirit so credit to him for finalyy achieving it.

Posted by Jacko (Private Detective) Believer in Zheng Magic 09/26/2008 at 11:38 AM

great piece steve . . . .. . i too love the fall season!!
i love the SOUND of indoor tennis . . .there are also usually some really good matches (women's tennis of course .. . .i'm obsessed) . .. and the fact that eurosport usually shows every match from tuesday til the finals helps too!!!LOL

Posted by Tuulia 09/26/2008 at 12:41 PM

>> I had no idea Nadal had so many tough rounds to defend; from the absolute convincing arguments that the dude just slacks off after Wimbledon, I was under the impression he had just first and second round losses in the fall.


The claim that Rafa always has poor season after Wimbledon has never actually been true. It's all relative and people tend to exaggerate and over-simplify.

Posted by Arun 09/26/2008 at 01:07 PM

Good post, Steve.. I know I've said this once, but I don't/won't hesitate to say it again. Why would ATP want to schedule multiple BIG events in the same cities? London and Paris already have the privilege of hosting Grandslams - still why is the YEC being moved to London and what is the necessity of having an AMS tourney in Paris? Instead, why can't they schedule both these tournaments in 2 other deserving cities?

Posted by zola (Rafa 08) 09/26/2008 at 03:08 PM

nice post as always. Thanks.

We have to wait till Madrid to see if Nlby 08 is the same as Nalby 07. If that's the case, then Spain will be in big trouble and I wouldn't be so sure if they can win the final.

Year-end Djoko is another good question. He is doing wel so far. Advancing in Thailand. But he ran out gas after Madrid ( I think). This year he has a GS, but emotionally he might be tired. It is a year of just defending the points and getting a bit more heat than last year.

Ana seems to have hit the wall. She lost her QF match ( Again) in China Open. I think this year will be either Safina or Jankovic's year with Safina being the stronger candidate.

for the headless poster ( first),
I think for Rafa the master cup is more important. He said so himself after the DC match with Roddick.." first Madris, Paris, ...after, master cup ".." the priority is no 1, then davis cup"...( I am just rephrasing, don't remember the exact words!)

The travel and the jetlag is the hard part for whoever goes to Shanghai and Del Potro has a big chance of being there too. I think in that case Ferrer may not be a lock. and since Lopez/Verdasco seem to play the doubles, I think Robredo or Almagro might be the likely candidates.

***Steve has that ability to lace simple game of tennis with poetry ***

you summed it up. I have tried to say something like that a few times, but couldn't find the exact words. Steve is the poet and Kamakshi is the scientist! I love reading their posts.

Posted by luxsword 09/26/2008 at 03:08 PM

Nice of you to put a pic of the Bercy tree trophee, one of the few not-too-ugly trophees, but, you know, they chopped it down last year and made it look like a fugly spider. Criminals. :o
Look :

Posted by luxsword 09/26/2008 at 03:20 PM

I rather agree with Arun (1:07pm). I'm French, but I would find it fairer if Bercy was replaced by another big European city outside of France (Germany)?

Posted by SwissMaestro 09/26/2008 at 04:46 PM

Bercy should be held in Prague or Moscow.

Posted by Tigress (Lucky 13) 09/26/2008 at 05:00 PM

Rafa has never yet made it to the Masters Cup Finals. I doubt he will this year either, but agree that he has a better chance than ever to do so. I hope that he does, bacause I want to see him play Roger again and for Roger to get more opportunities to extract revenge for Wimbledon. Although full revenge can only be gained at Wimbledon itself.

Posted by crazyone 09/26/2008 at 05:19 PM

Tigress: the reason Rafa's never made it to the MC finals is that Federer defeated him in the SFs. Why must the revenge come in the final?

Posted by JillfromNY 09/26/2008 at 10:17 PM

Steve: As usual, very good read. Since you're a tennis bigwig, please contact James Dolan, owner of Cablevision, and ask him why he doesn't offer his subscribers (who have no choice but to get Cablevision if we want cable) the Tennis Channel??? Maybe, you'll get an answer.

Posted by dimi 09/27/2008 at 04:51 AM

1. Year-end number one will be Nadal. Definitely the best player this year. I am quite curious about the future. I think his biggest challenge will be being dominant the whole year. I think it could put a lot of pressure on him if he is not going to win a tournament during the first three months of the year
2. I a sure Tsonga will be very good this fall. If he is able to play like he did in Melbourne, he can beat almost everybody - he has one of the best attacking games on tour. Also i do remeber a great match against Nadal in IW.
I am convinced Federer will play very good indoors. First, he likes this surface and always played good there - even last year. Second, after his so-so year I think he has a lot of motivation left.
I don't count out Nadal for any big win. However, his focus will be Madrid, Shanghai and DAVIS CUP.
Not sure about Murray and del Potro. Murray is probably likely to win another masters event. Probably he will be good in Shanghai, because he matches up well with the top players. In my opinion del Potro is not a great indoor player, yet, but he will have some good results and shall make it to Shanghai.
3. -----
4. I think Djokovic will be better than last year. I can imagine him winning a Masters event and having a good run at the YEC/Shanghai.
5. Davis Cup is a very dificult question (50-50). Still I think the Nadal-factor will give Spain the win. Although a motivated Nalbandian indoors is one of the toughest challenges he could face.

Posted by Tuulia 09/27/2008 at 08:32 AM

>> I think it could put a lot of pressure on him if he is not going to win a tournament during the first three months of the year


I don't see why it would. He didn't this year, but it didn't seem to harm the next few months... ;)

Posted by aussiemarg{true lover of all things spanish,even learning the lingo} 09/27/2008 at 10:43 PM

steve, this time of the season is always fascinating to me,in more ways than one,this year with the olympics thrown into the schedule,it has been tough,for all concern,

rafa no doubt as been the stand out player of the year,also being crowned no 1 player,he was to me,mentally tired towards the q/finals and s/final in the us open,also i am not taking anything away from murray's win,i feel murry's best game is on the h/court surface

roger setting a record 5th title win,in the us open? is this one thing,that could turn around the winning ways of him?

the appearence of the new kids on the block,especially in the us open,this year,the match between del potro and simon was a beauty,

special k, as i call him,gee what a f/hand he has,cilic great talent,gee what great future,has the game

getting back to present,again,i think it will come down to,who has the most mental strength and physical ability,as we head into the final masters series,let us not forget the much anticipated DC final tie,rafa has always stated winning DC for spain,was of up most importance to him,i believe Spain will come out victors here,who has the most mental strength in our game at present,the no 1 player in the world,never underestimate him,i think we have all seen that over the years,especially this year.

rafa nadal will remain the no 1 player,we have roger,novak,murray,
breathing down,wanting to put the pressure back on,also the new kids on the block,gee they cant only improve?,

still in all,anthing can happen on the way,i am sure it will be a glorious ride,for some may be not.

Posted by aussiemarg{true lover of all things spanish,even learning the lingo} 09/27/2008 at 10:47 PM

daylily, i am so happy to see you posting again, i have missed you,pls continue to post,there is only one,you, the legend,miss bubbles! vamos rafa to you!

Posted by Ken 09/28/2008 at 12:15 AM

Regarding who will finish as the men's #1 at year end - it would seem to not be an important concern to Federer, who is chasing history by winning a minimum of 2 more Grand Slam events, perhaps in 2009. If that is achieved, the #1 ranking may follow, if not, so be it, his legacy as arguably the GOAT would be secure.

Posted by J-Block 09/28/2008 at 10:39 AM

Perfectly put about Djokovic's ambivalence now that he seems to have settled into 3rd. I actually think Murray will win a slam before Djokovic wins his next one. I also think it will take at least Murray passing him in the rankings, possibly others, to get Nole to play his best week in and week out.

Posted by J-Block 09/28/2008 at 10:42 AM

Also think del Potro, Tsonga, and Gulbis are the wild cards this fall. The first two could take a title, Gulbis is too inconsistent, but could easily take out a top 4 player early (particularly Fed or Nole) and have a huge impact on the points race.

Posted by Andrew Miller 09/29/2008 at 10:52 AM

Call me crazy, but I would really like to see Andy Roddick and Roger Federer meet the challenge of holding the fort and beating the up and coming generation. Federer I think has some tricks up his sleeve. I am hoping Roddick can win another big one.

Posted by Euphemism 09/29/2008 at 07:17 PM

As desultory as this part of the tour may seem in the abstract, if you actually get to go to one of these tournaments, it's pretty cool. I've been to the Paris tournament twice - there were no morning/evening sessions, so my ticket got me access to 12 hours of tennis a day; and I had a chance to see the very best in the world competing against each other from the very first rounds. In terms of bang for your spectator buck, no other tournament I've been to comes close.

Posted by roGER 09/30/2008 at 10:41 AM

I think it's ridiculous having any major events (or rather, events that attempt to be major) after the US Open.

The heat and chaos of Flushing Meadows provides a very appropriate climax to the season, to be followed by a period of rest and training.

The whole point of a season in sports terms is that it isn't a calandar year - tennis should simply promote itself and accept that its a 9-months of the year professional sport; much like other professional sports who also have 2-3 months when they don't play.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 09/30/2008 at 12:06 PM

I actually agree with your call on the Davis Cup final, Steve. And I, too, wish they'd hold it on the dirt. This is just one more reason why I do not care for the "host nation" concept.

At any rate, Spain will win the doubles on a fast indoor carpet, I'm pretty sure. So Argentina would need to beat Ferrer twice (doable, but not a gimme) and Nadal once (doable, but not at all likely). Therefore, I think Spain will win it 3-2, possibly 4-1.

Nalbandian could be the spoiler in all this, but he'd need to beat Ferrer and win the doubles, while his compatriot Del Portro would need to beat Ferrer. It's doable, as I said, but I think the clincher will be the doubles match on Saturday, which F-Lo and Tabasko will take.

Posted by TopSpin 09/30/2008 at 04:50 PM

I really like this part of the year - its true that many of the top players are not at their best but that hasn't always resulted in sub par matches.

Whats more this time of the year seems to be good to headcases that despite their obvious talent can't get it together for much of the rest of the year (think Safin and Nalbandian)...

Posted by daylily 09/30/2008 at 05:56 PM

aussiemarg, thank you for the lovenote....i can't bring myself to deal with tw any longer but it's nice and quiet over here, isn't it? and i love the placid waters, these day...

yes, desultory is a wonderful word to describe fall's finish to the tennis year, euphemism. though i miss rafa playing, i am restlessly content knowing that he's decompressing; i wonder, though -- will it just be that much harder to gear up again for madrid, paris, yec, and the davis cup final? remains to be seen.

andrew miller, what "fort" is it exactly that andy roddick is "holding?" i'm so mystified.....

Posted by Jeremy 10/01/2008 at 12:52 PM

nadal's post wimbledon runs for the past 2 years have never garnered him a win, unlike this year when he won toronto. last year, he went 8 months after stuttgart (a mini clay tourney he did post wimbledon) before winning another title.

it seems a lot of players are fired up right now. my guess is that nadal won't clean up.

Posted by Your worst fan 10/01/2008 at 04:34 PM


I forgot to write to you to ask you what you did when Roger won the open a few weeks back? Ashamed at what you had been writing for months? Will you once again start picking him to not reach the semi's of slams next year. I definitely think you may be one of the top monkeys he proved wrong. Your predictions before every major always gets me steamed, but this last story ended perfectly.

For future reference try not to count Fed out to early and risk looking like a total idiot once again. And for all the nonsense you put out against him over the last few months , go kick urself in the rear end.


Posted by jem 10/01/2008 at 10:09 PM

I think Nadal is a lock on #1 to end the year; Roger doesn't seem to be too concerned (he just pulled out of Sweden). But look out in '09 he has lots of room to pick up points.

I think it is entirely possible that Djokovic has peaked career-wise - if only he had his mother's fire. There are a lot of one-Slam wonders throughout the history of tennis. Still, he lives in Monaco and everyone who lives there can always use an extra million or two. He can't do worse at the Masters Cup than he did last year.

Nalbandian seems to have a good record indoors and Nadal still doesn't excel on the super fast surfaces, I like Argentina's chances. Nalbandian should have lots of energy left after another unsuccessful season.

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