Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Quarterly Report
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Quarterly Report 04/07/2009 - 4:35 PM

Rn The tennis season is long, but like anything else that doesn’t involve your own daily 9 to 5 labor, it passes with disconcerting speed—“Time is a jet plane,” Bob Dylan sang, “it moves too fast.” Maybe it’s the scattershot, peak-and-valley nature of the early-year schedule—massive tournament to start, nothing for a month, followed by two big events in rapid-fire succession—that catches us off guard. We’re not worn down by weekly results yet. By the time the players get to Europe and that grind begins in earnest, a quarter of the year—one Slam, two Masters/Premier events, a round of Davis and Fed Cup—is gone.

With that in mind, the time seems right to take stock of how the game and its players have measured up to expectations so far in 2009.

Victoria Azarenka

Just when it appeared as if the WTA would never give us another girl with the fortitude and irrational desire to be a champion, we get this 19-year-old Belarusian beanpole. Granted, Serena was hurt in the Key Biscayne final, and Azarenka did throw in a couple of anxiety-ridden double faults when she was trying to serve out the match. But instead of panicking when things go wrong, she gets mad and tries her best to figure out how to fix the problem. And if I don’t love the bird-like whoo-ooo she makes when she swings, I do like the swings themselves, especially the graceful punch she gives the ball on her backhand side. A

Juan-Martin del Potro

The gently brooding giant has bounced back nicely after his Davis Cup debacle last winter. He won in Auckland to start the year and reached his second Slam quarterfinal in Melbourne. While he suffered an embarrassing two-bagel loss to Federer there, del Potro bounced back again to make a Masters semi in Key Biscayne. Biggest of all, he recorded his first win in 14 attempts over one of the Big 4 when he came back to beat Nadal in Miami. That’s important—he had looked utterly lost and overwhelmed against the top guys until then. DP's development, after last year’s breakthrough, remains on track. He may take his losses hard, but he can forget them. A-

Novak Djokovic

We learn more and more about the wacky Serb every few weeks. When we first met him, he was quick to call it a day if events weren’t proceeding in a manner that favored him. Then he was serene and sure of his destiny to become No. 1. Then, when destiny was derailed, he was a ball of frustration ready to immolate itself at the first sign of trouble. Now, he’s starting to seem like a guy who can throw in an unmitigated clunker one week—see his dismal Indian Wells quarterfinal loss to Roddick—and bounce back a week later to beat Tsonga and Federer and make a Masters final. Djokovic lets his anger get the best of him, but he lets his pride pick him back up. Do you have any idea what he’ll show us next? I don’t. But I want to find out. B

Roger Federer

From a performance point of view, you’d have to say this is his worst start since he became No. 1 in 2004. At least last year he had a debilitating illness as an excuse. While Federer still knows how to work the majors, he looks more and more lost at the Masters events. Watching him self-destruct against Murray in Indian Wells, I began to think that his version of tennis artistry, defined by a 0-to-60-in-two-seconds-flat transition game, was looking a little dated compared to Murray’s side-to-side, slice-and-scramble approach.

But from an emotional standpoint, Federer has been the most compelling figure in tennis. He provided, to his chagrin, the signature moment of the year by bawling in Melbourne, and then he made our jaws drop with his stoically savage destruction of his racquet in Key Biscayne—it was like watching a magician destroy his wand. None of this should surprise us: Tennis players, whatever their outer selves communicate, are deeply emotional. Why wouldn’t Federer, the best tennis player, have the deepest emotions of all? B+

Indian Wells/Key Biscayne

These tournaments offered plenty to the fan willing to (a) attend one or both of them; and (b) seek out and stick with FSN as it stumbled its way toward covering both events. But for someone tuning into the semis and finals on the weekend, both tournaments left a lot to be desired. Federer was entertaining and revealing in one sense, but only in a negative way. The two women’s finals were ruined by wind and injury, respectively, while the two men’s finals were uninspired and only marginally competitive. What would the casual viewer of Key Biscayne have made of a Saturday spent watching Serena hobble and a Sunday spent watching Djokovic narrowly avert heat exhaustion? And as much as I like Murray’s style, I can’t view it as a good sign for the game that he won more matches than anyone by taking fewer risks then ever. C+

Ana Ivanovic

I know she says she’s happy with her new coach and back on track with her attacking game. And I hope it’s true. But even in her run to the Indian Wells final, Ivanovic was excessively up and down, not just from match to match, but from game to game. As of now, her confidence can still be blown away in the desert wind. B-

Jelena Jankovic

Poor JJ. Is her sudden and precipitous decline a product, like she says, of overtraining? Or is it an inevitable market correction for a woman who never belonged at No. 1 in the first place? Now that’s she fired her in-house fitness guru, Pat Etcheberry—he may have neglected to consider the finer points of Jankovic’s finesse game before trying to add 10 pounds of muscle to her—we’ll find out. JJ has bounced back from worse slumps before; but she wasn’t 24 then. D

Andy Murray

When did the game’s resident miserable brat become its most upstanding citizen? While Federer was smashing, Djokovic was staggering, and Nadal was blowing a seemingly insurmountable lead, No. 4 kept his head and body intact and left the U.S. with the best overall record of any player who was in Indian Wells and Key Biscayne. On a small scale, he weathered bad patches of play against Monaco and Djokovic with just the barest amount of testiness, before quickly reasserting his low-key control over both matches. Whether it’s a match or the season at large, he’s clearly thinking long term. My only reservation, as I said earlier, is that he has found a way to win that requires minimal risk. Good for him, but potentially bad for us. Murray has the variety to do much more, and eventually we’re going to want to see him use it again. A

Rafael Nadal

He’s extended his turf while tightening his grip on the top spot. As the champion in Melbourne and Indian Wells, Nadal is now the favorite to win any hard court tournament he plays. You might chalk this up to the sport's long-running move toward slower surfaces. But I’m going to chalk it up to Nadal’s dogged expansion of his own game. By now, his rallies can consist of anything—drop shots, low chips, stealthy forays to the net, exclamatory overheads, and, of course, the meat and potatoes, uncannily accurate topspin drives. There’s something for any tennis fan to like, which is no more and no less than what we want from the new face of the sport. Rafa is taking No. 1 in stride; he’s comfortable there without acting entitled about it. Why would we have expected anything else? A+

Andy Roddick

Like Murray but unlike Nadal, Roddick has assessed the modern game and found that less is more. Fewer risks, more balls in play, lots of running, and a big serve to back it all up is the recipe du jour. And as it is for Murray, it’s a winning recipe for Roddick, but it may not taste all that good to us in the long run. Roddick has won a lot of matches in 2009, but I’ve enjoyed watching him most during the few games where he let his strokes fly—à la 2003—against Federer in Key Biscayne. Of course, he lost that one, so chances are we won’t see it again. He's gotten too smart for that. A-

Dinara Safina

I like her story, her personality, her persistence, her intensity, her emotion, her mid-career surge— everything, in other words, other than actually watching her play. I’ve tried, but at Indian Wells and Key Biscayne Safina's game looked very labored, as if she and her strokes and especially her serve just didn’t want to be out there. I want to see more from a player who is at least nominally fighting to become No. 1 for the first time. B

Serena Williams

With her 10th Slam coming a full decade after her first, you might say this is a time to celebrate Serena, her longevity, and her apparently effortless dominance. And it is. There are many things to enjoy in Serena’s game—the coolly lethal serve, the exemplary racquet extension, the indomitable fight. It’s just that when I turned on the TV to watch her in Key Biscayne, I didn’t see those things. I saw her spraying shots, slumping her shoulders, acting like she couldn’t believe this was all happening to her, and standing still and hitting all-or-nothing shots because she had suffered another injury. The physical problems may not be her fault, and the erratic play and flamboyant frustration can be filed away in the “Serena being Serena” department—that’s just how she is sometimes. But when you’ve seen her focused and at her best, the way she was for most of the U.S. and Aussie Open finals, this version of her isn’t much fun to watch. I hope she gets better in all ways for the rest of the year. A-


 
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Comments
 
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Posted by Andrew 04/08/2009 at 12:21 AM

Hard to give Federer more than a B for 1Q 2009.

"Roger passed on the mantle of Head Of School to Rafael last year with exemplary courtesy, but he has seemed to struggle of late. He has usually been seen as a good example to Marat, one of the senior pupils, but lately some of the influence seems to have worked the other way, not to Roger's betterment. I did not think I would ever need to write this of Roger, but he must try harder to keep his emotions in check on Prize Day. Can do better."

Posted by philppe igoa 04/08/2009 at 12:54 AM

I see Roger making maybe one more GS final (probably Wimbledon) and if he doesn't win it I can realistically see him hanging it up a la Borg. The greatest talent of this generation and arguably of all time has an ego so fragile and is so stubborn/arrogant that he won't have anything in the tank mentally and injuries will start creeping in. I think impending fatherhood will also have an effect on his results. Roger will lose that killer instint;some claim he's already lost it. With that said, I would like to see him prove me wrong as his strongest supporter. I just don't know what he's thinking or if he really wants to be on the court sometimes and players are not fearful of him like they used to be. Roger also doesn't close out matches like he used to. I would really like to see Roger surpass Sampras' record who I think is even more arrogant than Roger without Federer's talent, maybe on serve only. Anyways, Roger, please get a coach, Johnny Mac is offering his services to you and claims he can help you reclaim your supremacy and even has a way for you to get your first Roland Garros title. Wouldn't that be nice!

Posted by Denizen 04/08/2009 at 01:06 AM

Thank you for your cogent writing and evenhanded analysis, Steve. I agree with most of your assessments, although I think that Del Potro will be a periodic flash in the pan, a la Tsonga.

Most of all, I'm looking forward to clay season, where mindless Big Serving followed by flailing attempts to even start a point are replaced by point construction and strategy - actual tennis. Tasty.

Posted by BlueDog 04/08/2009 at 01:19 AM

Andrew- I think the 'plus' was added to the 'B', just for the sheer beauty of the racquet smash. Even the compound curve Fed produced was MOMA material. Man's a genius :)

Posted by imjimmy 04/08/2009 at 01:33 AM

>>"Also, a little silly to call him the most feared player on tour right now as we enter the clay court season. And by "a little," I mean "a lot."">>

CPM - good point. Definitely not on the clay season. But surely on the hard court season which is 60%+ of pro season. Most people would agree that Murray owns Roger and Nole. With Rafa he has 2 wins and one loss among their recent matches since the time Murray came of age, so to speak. (again not including the exhibition match, which Murray won). So he has an edge there too.

There's no reason to expect Murray not to be a legitimate threat on grass. I must confess that I hate watching his game. But because he's extremely young, and is already dominating the tour in his early years, it seems pretty evident that he's the future of men's tennis.

Now, If only he could showcase more variety in his game as Steve suggested....

Posted by zoey 04/08/2009 at 01:48 AM

Lovely analysis, Steve. You are quickly becoming one of my favorite tennis writers. I only wish you could post more often.

Imjimmy, I have a question. When do you consider that Murray came of age? The reason I ask is that Nadal beat him in Toronto last fall, one week before Andy went on to win Cincy, yet you did not include that match in your head-to-head. But you include Andy's victory over Nadal at the USO, which took place only a few weeks later.

I do agree that Murray has risen extraordinarily fast, and one would do well to not underestimate him. I would hold back on calling him dominant though; he's not quite there yet.

Posted by justin 04/08/2009 at 01:54 AM

yes, azarenka has been playing great, but i think an A is still too generous

Posted by imjimmy 04/08/2009 at 02:03 AM

zoey: Good point. I was basically considering after UsOpen. That was the first time that Murray first beat Rafa ..right? That's when I thought he actually started believing he could do it.
The Toronto matchup was just after Wimbledon..(like 2-3 weeks later?). I recall the first set was tight..( A tie-break I think) in that match. But I remember watching Murray win the first 2 sets against Rafa in the USOpen and thinking that something had changed. Maybe it was the faster surface.

Anyway dominant might be a little too strong. But he's still the man to beat on the faster surfaces this year.

Posted by Glenn 04/08/2009 at 02:07 AM

Good Point Zoey! As a matter of fact i would add the match they played at Wimby (Nadal dominated).

Posted by Really 04/08/2009 at 02:09 AM

Steve, thanks for being fair to all players. It's really a joy to read all your posts.

Posted by Glenn 04/08/2009 at 02:11 AM

Good point Zoey! The match at Wimby should be included as well, since that showcased the new improved Murray getting completely beaten by Nadal.

imjimmy: the surface at the Beijing Olympics is the very same one used at the US Open.

Posted by Glenn 04/08/2009 at 02:12 AM

Looks like type pad is having problems.

Posted by Rob 04/08/2009 at 02:13 AM

Nadal is above the game.

Posted by Nick 04/08/2009 at 02:15 AM

how did fed got B+? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Posted by gretchen 04/08/2009 at 02:21 AM

Yeah I'd have to agree with zoey as far as holding off on the "dominant" adjective. Personally, I feel Andy broke through at Wimbledon last year, with that QF comeback against Gasquet. That's when I feel like cemented himself as a real contender. So if you start with that, his stats against Rafa are as follows:

Wimby '08: Rafa wins
Toronto '08: Rafa wins
USO '08: Andy wins
Rotterdam '09: Andy wins
IW '09: Rafa wins

Murray dominance? Meh. I'd still put my money on Rafa any day. Federer on the other hand? Different story, IMO.

Posted by gretchen 04/08/2009 at 02:26 AM

oops, Rafa & Murray played Wimby QF, so it was Andy's 4th round comeback...sorry

Posted by felizjulianidad 04/08/2009 at 02:40 AM

This is supposedly Nadal's weakest surface. You know, the one where his detractors gloat that any given big-serving, flat-hitting ball basher can send him packing. Kind of like how you shouldn't be surprised if Granollers-Pujol beats Andy Roddick at the French. Instead, we've seen him become an all-surface Slam winner (defeating the best HC player ever in the final), while also getting back at a number of players who had beaten him on HCs (avenging the Qatar '09 loss to Monfils at Rotterdam, avenging the AO '08 loss to Tsonga at Rotterdam, avenging the Rotterdam loss to Murray at Indian Wells, avenging the Madrid and Paris '07 absolute demolitions to Nalbandián at Indian Wells, avenging the Dubai '08 beat-down to Roddick at Indian Wells, etc). His loss to Del Potro was ugly and almost aberrant, so I understand why some would bring his grade down. Then again, we either stop saying it's his weak surface, or we let him off easy.

Posted by imjimmy 04/08/2009 at 02:47 AM

>>Then again, we either stop saying it's his weak surface, or we let him off easy. >>
Word,felizjulianidad.

hc's is Rafa's weakest surface. But he's also no 1. He's expected to win everything - including matches on his worst surface. Until Miami 09 Rafa had shown himself to be more than equal to the
challenges. Now we've seen a chink in his armor for the first time. Is the pressure finally getting to him? Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown....:)

Posted by hazel 04/08/2009 at 02:55 AM

felizjulianiad: Rafa avenged his loss to Tsonga even earlier than Rotterdam this year - he beat him in 2008 at Indian Wells right after the Oz Open!!

Posted by faiz 04/08/2009 at 02:56 AM

thank you steve for giving nadal A+..of course he deserve to get The A..he has improved his game so far, he is no longer a clay court specialist, but he is now master of the game..

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 04/08/2009 at 02:59 AM

imjimmy - I dunno about winning everything because no no. 1 player including the best has achieved that feat, perhaps a greater share of everything ;-) Still even after Rafa became no. 1 last year he lost matches didn't he, including one that he *was supposed* to have won against Simon. So I won't call losing to JDMP no. 5 player *revealing a chink in his armor* unless Rafa played spectacular tennis and he was beaten soundly which IMO is not the case. JDMP deserves his victory but I would classify the 6-0, 6-1 of Nalby in 2007 more as an amazing disaster ;-)

Posted by Victoria 04/08/2009 at 02:59 AM

I really doubt Nadal can win everything. He will apparently need a break mid-season (injuries, exhausted...). Last year he misses some tournaments and I think he will this year. The guy is human, too. He will try to minimize his points required to stay in #1, and with Fed and Djoko out of sort, he will stay there for a while. However, a clendar slam is unlikely.

Just a little reminder to Nadal's fan. 2 years ago, none could imagine the situation Fed's in right now. So, be prepared. Anything can happened in life. The higher you climb, the harder it hits when you fall.

Posted by imjimmy 04/08/2009 at 03:21 AM

">"
avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena".
I would argue the reverse. The loss was an amazing disaster because Rafa lost to a very ordinary player, not a in the zone big hitter who was playing the match of his life. Rafa's game fell apart and he throw the match away much like Federer has been doing recently.

Posted by Fran 04/08/2009 at 03:28 AM


Thanks Steve for not piling on Roger like most of the press.

I'm afraid I'm another who really doesn't enjoy Murray's style of play.I find it annoying and boring.
Means I don't get to watch a whole lot of play that I find enjoyable. Thtat's not good for tennis. I wonder if we'll see a decline in interest if Fed does not make it into finals in the future. The US Open and Basle were the last time I watched a final.

Posted by john 04/08/2009 at 03:44 AM

Fran, you certainly missed out on an extraordinary final between Fed and Nadal at the AO this year. Their level of play was ridiculously high (save the 5th set), and they probably produced some front runners for plays of the year.

Posted by felix 04/08/2009 at 03:52 AM

sorry i dont agree you guys! we should support Roger more
i expect Roger will be back !

Posted by kiki 04/08/2009 at 04:12 AM

shit

Posted by Lynnette 04/08/2009 at 04:59 AM

WOW, I could not agree more with you Steve. You read my mind. I sure hope Jelena gets out of her slump. Hopefully Azarenka can stay awhile. I like her style.

Posted by Jai 04/08/2009 at 05:20 AM

"Just a little reminder to Nadal's fans. 2 years ago, none could imagine the situation Fed's in right now. So, be prepared. Anything can happened in life. The higher you climb, the harder it hits when you fall."

Victoria: most of the serious Nadal fans I know are very aware of this. Like Rafa himself, we know how to treasure the moment and think about the short term rather than look at what may/may not happen 2-3 years down the line. (He said in an interview recently that every time he wins a Slam he has no idea whether he'll ever get another one.)

In fact, I'm constantly surprised when I hear people speculating about Rafa being a potential threat to Sampras's Slam count. That sort of thing is a very, very long way off - anyone who's constantly thinking about whether he'll be a contender in the GOAT discussions is in danger of ruining their enjoyment of the present moment. Personally, I've been very pleasantly surprised by nearly everything he's achieved over the last year. I certainly don't expect him to win every tournament or to match the standards that Federer set in 2006, just because he's now ranked number 1.

Posted by noleisthebest 04/08/2009 at 05:39 AM

Right, Federer's rudeness and tantrums are emotional and great.
When Djokovic vets out his hurt after thrashing Roddick at USO, he gets booed out and suffers ever since being scheduled to play in the hottest parts of the day ONLY.
Anyway, in the big picture, we all know who is who, as well as that there is far more to life than tennis.

Posted by ava 04/08/2009 at 05:40 AM

Wow, Jai you have echoed my sentiments.
I totally agree that most Nadal fans have very limited expectations about him mostly because of the fragile nature of his body and his physical style of play. He himself has said on many occasions that he will stop being #1. I think he's got real perspective something federer sadly did not have in his heyday.
I was kind of shocked when Fed said a about a year back that he expected to play till 35!
I too do not expect Nadal to win everything just because he's #1.

Posted by Victoria 04/08/2009 at 06:04 AM

I remembered in the interview after AO in Melb, Nadal refused to consider the possibility of "Grand Slam" and I reckon it is very wise of him. I hope he can leave the game when he on top because I don't hope thing happens to him like to Fed. Although I am not Fed's fan, witnessing the fall of the hero is very hard.

Posted by Corrie (not Carrie or Cory) 04/08/2009 at 06:06 AM

I'm not clear how Steve weights the grand slams relative to masters and smaller tournaments. And what about Davis Cup?
IMO Nadal should get A++ because he won the GS, surely by far the most important tournament, and played great in DC. - and won a masters. Surely this counts for more than anything else.

Roger got to AO final and took it to 5 sets, which should also count a lot, though his meltdowns since have been woeful. But if he was named the low ranked John Smith we'd probably think him worth a B+ for the AO final and two masters semis. OK, he's not Smith, that's the problem he has.

Surely Verdasco deserves a mention for his great AO effort. To me these performances are far more important than winning Dubai, Auckland etc etc. Also Ferrer in DC and Roddick.

Posted by Diego V. Ragaza 04/08/2009 at 07:09 AM

Roger Federer should accept the reality.

Posted by Master Ace 04/08/2009 at 07:20 AM

Justin,
I think Azarenka grade of A is spot on. How many people expected her to battle Serena at Australian Open before falling to illness? How many people expected her to be the best player on the Transcontinental tournaments(SF-Indian Wells and W-Key Biscayne)? I think she exceeded expectations so far.

Posted by jeferson 04/08/2009 at 07:25 AM

Hi,

I do not agree with with Rafa A+ and Roger B+.
I think Rafa would receive an A and Roger a C... Rafa because he has to prove he can beat everyone in hard courts (we saw he cannot) and Roger because, although I really like the way he plays, he is missing concentration and winner mind...
I would give A+ to Murray. He is showing he can win everything.

Jeff

Posted by kitty 04/08/2009 at 07:45 AM

The connection made between Roddick and Murray is atrocious.
More balls in play, lots of running (though Roddick doesn’t exactly do this) and a big serve might be the recipe for Roddick who does use his abilities to the maximum but it is simplistic to say that this is the winning recipe for Murray whose game is much more than this.
Yes, Murray pushes when he plays the lower ranked players but against the top ten players he brings more to the table.
Try this formula for Murray: great return, deep ball, short ball, slice, nice volleys, great passing shots , nice drop shots. Yeah, right, this is exactly Roddick style…
I especially don’t get why Steven suggests that Murray’s game is boring to watch and doesn’t make the same suggestions about Del Potro, Azarenka, Williams.
The final between Azarenka and Williams bored me to tears, just mindless ball bashing with Azarenka just hitting hard the ball back to Williams. No change of direction , no slice, no net play, no dropshots. And this is considered more exciting than what Murray does?
I love the way Murray can change the direction of the ball, I love the way he uses the slice , I love the way he brings the guys to the net with the short balls. And his lobs and crosscourt passing shots are absolutely stunning.
Probably I’d get bored if everyone played like Murray but he is quite unique.
There are plenty of other players with the same style as Del Potro or Djokovic but how many are able to play the game as Murray does? (no, Simon does not qualify since he has about half of Murray’s abilities).

Posted by tina 04/08/2009 at 07:50 AM

I'd also say that Roger's grade is a tad high - I'd give him a B - and Serena's a little low. I think her performance so far this year has been at least worthy of Murray's A grade.

Posted by Aussiemarg{Madame President in Comma Rehab in 2009} 04/08/2009 at 07:51 AM

Well I am Afraid Murray has only won on h/courts also just in 3 set matches.

The real test is to see if he can handle 2 weeks ot tennis in a Grand Slam.At the AO he could not,also US OPEN where he was in the final he didtn win there either.

Murray hasnt shown anything as yet on Clay and Grass

So at the moment yes he can won the best of 3 set matches on h..court also he has 3 Master Sereis win again on h/court also in 3 sets.

Posted by felizjulianidad 04/08/2009 at 08:26 AM

Hazel, you are correct, although Rotterdam favored Tsonga's game even more (faster surface than IW).

Posted by meeto_1 04/08/2009 at 08:41 AM

Not sure about your assessment of Murrays game. I dont think just putting the ball back would result in winning 4games in a row in the first set against 4consecutive players, 3 of which are top ten players.
Murray tailors his game to the opponent. The passing shots he came up with against djokovic, Roddick could never pull of so consistently.
How many points has he hussled from players who just need to smash the ball away. Del Potro was almost frightened of high lobs coming back.
I must add he volleys the best out of the current top 10. His backhand slice is amazing for a double hander and is more lethal then someone like fed.

Posted by Master Ace 04/08/2009 at 08:43 AM

Tina,
That is what I also say on Serena. Roger grade can range from B to C. I will say B due to him making the finals at AO and SF in every other tournament he has played. However, when Andrew is having a hard time giving Roger a B, we may need to relook at his season once again.

Posted by Master Ace 04/08/2009 at 08:46 AM

Jeferson,
Steve gave the correct grade to Murray. Reason is he lost in 4th round at AO and to Nadal in the finals at IW. Losing to Nadal is nothing to be ashamed of but losing in the 4th round when a lot of the media was naming him the favorite to win it is a difficult sceanerio altogether. Murray biggest questions are what will he do during the clay season and Slams.

Posted by neil in toronto 04/08/2009 at 09:44 AM

jeferson, i think your logic is a bit skewed. Andy lost to Verdasco at the A.O., the biggest tournament so far this year and he was considered the favourite. That's a big miss, and why he should not get a better grade than Rafa.

Also, if Murray can win everything, why did he lose Indian Wells?

Posted by daylily 04/08/2009 at 10:03 AM

agree with master ace -- roger doesn't deserve a B+ -- c'mon, steve, pity grades don't count. talk about dumbing down tennis -- as your colleague on the flip side would have it, clay is dumb -- let's not give grades that aren't deserved.

otherwise, perfect.

Posted by cysportsgirl 04/08/2009 at 10:05 AM

jai--i 100% agree. those of us who love rafa understand the possible physical limitations of the sport...i am so nervous and yet unbelievably excited every time he plays. his passion and intensity are unparalleled. i hated seeing him blow the 3rd set against DP--but to downgrade his 1st Q performance is a bit rough--no one wins every tournament. not even the great roger.

who i think is going to retire after the US Open...maybe take a break for 2 years and then come back to finally grab the elusive 14. emotionally he needs a break. it has been very hard to watch such surliness and poor temper. it is casting a serious shadow on his glorious reign and leading to speculation that maybe his seeming sportsmanship in victory was a thin veil over the temper below. him winning the sportsmanship award just smacked me in the face...yes, he's great and i love/respect his tennis, but the continued fawning is a bit much.

all will agree nadal has been the ultimate good sport and stronger competitor--heard a comment that nadal and tiger woods are the ultimate competitors in any sport ever.

Posted by cysportsgirl 04/08/2009 at 10:06 AM

jai--i 100% agree. those of us who love rafa understand the possible physical limitations of the sport...i am so nervous and yet unbelievably excited every time he plays. his passion and intensity are unparalleled. i hated seeing him blow the 3rd set against DP--but to downgrade his 1st Q performance is a bit rough--no one wins every tournament. not even the great roger.

who i think is going to retire after the US Open...maybe take a break for 2 years and then come back to finally grab the elusive 14. emotionally he needs a break. it has been very hard to watch such surliness and poor temper. it is casting a serious shadow on his glorious reign and leading to speculation that maybe his seeming sportsmanship in victory was a thin veil over the temper below. him winning the sportsmanship award just smacked me in the face...yes, he's great and i love/respect his tennis, but the continued fawning is a bit much.

all will agree nadal has been the ultimate good sport and stronger competitor--heard a comment that nadal and tiger woods are the ultimate competitors in any sport ever.

Posted by cysportsgirl 04/08/2009 at 10:08 AM

also, i hope toni and rafa study murray's game and figure out how to shut it down. murray's game is such a bore to watch--and his lack of personality makes him really a turnoff. from someone who was never on the djoko bandwagon, i am starting to root for him more and more. however, i don't know if he will bounce back this year. but having to deal with murray for some time to come? yawn....

Posted by alex 04/08/2009 at 10:13 AM

steve -

I agree with your grades but, while I see where you come from in interpreting muzz's tactic of pressurising opponents into mistakes as minimising his own risk, in another respect muzz's play could be seen as the most risky in the game right now.

I mean, who else, other than someone with incredible speed, lightning reactions and supreme confidence, would dare draw guys like delpo into mid-court with fairly soft medium-bouncers and tempt them to try and whack the ball out of court. It's as if he's saying, "Come on, pass me, look, there's an easy one, try that one, I double dare you ..."

Murray, IMO, with the heavily defensive positions he seems to quite consciously place himself in against the very best players, might be seen as a very high risk taker (and never moreso than last week).

Your problem seems to be that his risk is in defence, rather than offence (although I don't know many who would attempt some of the impossible angled passing shots he repeatedly threw out last week against delpo and nole); it's just that his risk is highly calculated and highly unconventional.

If experts like yourself don't appreciate this, though, I suppose it's maybe too much too expect for the fee paying public to enjoy it and, for that reason, I take your point.

Posted by nica 04/08/2009 at 10:14 AM

FSN's coverage is taking us back to the dark ages! At least broadcast the tournament in HD. Yes, they have a bigger audience but it means a bigger audience will be tuning away because the broadcast is not in HD.

Posted by daylily 04/08/2009 at 10:30 AM

nica, i guess many of us should have been careful what we wished for years ago when we expressed revulsion with ESPN's and CBS's coverage of tennis and longed for someone else to do the broadcasting, no? FSN ..... there are no words...

Posted by Eugene 04/08/2009 at 10:37 AM

Federer - definitely A+ . Such a huge transition (from tears to vicious racquet destruction) in such a short term ! Sure sign we will get Magician back soon. I am so glad to see him getting MAD !

Posted by babara 04/08/2009 at 10:40 AM

Federer, the so called greatest ever, gets a B+ for not winning any titles so far this year (the only top player without one) and for acting like a cry baby jerk in Miami, among other tournaments? Most other players would have gotten a C or worse.

Typical media bias and double standards strike again.

Federer has shown his true colors these past several months and it aint pretty!

Posted by Tfactor 04/08/2009 at 10:44 AM

Rafa because he has to prove he can beat everyone in hard courts (we saw he cannot)"

Jefferson:
Who didn't he beat? Maybe I'm confused.
He beat Roger, Andy M., Andy R., Del Potro, Verdasco, Tsonga. He even beat his 'nemesis' Nalbandian and other lower down in the rankings that I won't bother to mention.

As far as I am concerned he deserves the A+ for winning AO & IW regardless of who he beat. He racked up the most points for the start of the season

Posted by fd 04/08/2009 at 10:45 AM

I don't think Roger will make another grand slam final this year, except maybe Wimbledon. Just a hunch, I won't be shocked if I'm wrong.

Posted by Azhdaja 04/08/2009 at 10:49 AM

Rog has gotten better mark than Djoko?
No clue. He beat Roddick comfortably no doubt..but then his game tottaly fell apart in S/F. He forgot how to behave sporty too: didn't shake umpires hands in Doha nor in Key Biscaine??? What kind of mark one should get for that??

In soccer, he would've banned for next two matches he signed up for.

Posted by j6_strings 04/08/2009 at 10:50 AM

I find it funny how most everyone's comments are so heavily infused with bias for their favorite players and at times against those they don't like. It's natural of course, and I am surely not the pot calling the kettle black. I'll readily admit to a heavy Federer bias, and I am surely not a fan of Murray or the Djoker. I'm not really a big fan of Rafa, but at the same time I'm not a hater. I think it all comes down to achievement.

At this point in time, much if not all of the talk about Men's tennis players who are not named Roger or Rafa is somewhat speculative. We're talking about 19 GS titles between them, and a mere 2 for the rest of the field. Some of those guys might be up an coming, and they might wind up having accomplishments that would really put them in the same conversation, but right now, not so much.

Set the bar with the guy who has achieved the most this year, Rafa, and no one else should get a grade as high, no one. I might even lower Roger's grade myself, and I surely drink the Kool-Aid, because he ended three matches, in the three biggest tournaments of the year thus far, with a whimper. If his name was Gilles Simon, or Juan Martin Del Potro, then he should have earned an "A", but he is TMF, and as such earned no better than a "C+". It's not so much the lack of a title, but the lack of fire he showed in bowing out of those tournaments.

And just remember for all of you who are hyping up your unaccomplished favorites, Andy Roddick won a GS title in 2003, and hasn't done it since. The point is, don't get ahead of yourselves in disrespecting the only two real big boys out there, Rafa and Roger. If you feel they, or even just Roger, have been disrespecting your boys, just keep in mind that they have sort of earned the right (even if it's not in good taste).

Posted by fd 04/08/2009 at 10:51 AM

I love Azarenka too. She appears to be an excellent athlete in top shape and is developing a nice game. Looks like she would have beat Serena in Australia if it wasn't for the heat stroke. I love Serena, but as for her injury in Miami, I am not saying she's faking it per se, but she has a bit of Djokovic in her, exaggerating injuries or heat exhaustion when she feels she is going to get beat. She can never just get beat because someone played better than her.

Posted by Azhdaja 04/08/2009 at 10:52 AM

Del Potro sure is the hotest player out there. I expect of him to beat Rafa in RG, or at least one of MS clay events. He has great groundstrokes, charging the net very much and that's the forumla to win clay court events.

Very interesting season is coming.

Posted by Jai 04/08/2009 at 10:55 AM

Ava, Cysportsgirl: yes, I've been a very relaxed Rafa fan for the last few months, and that's been such a good feeling - because I was anything but relaxed at this time last year, when he was beaten in the Miami final by Davydenko and went into the clay season without having won a title in 8-9 months. Of course, I'll be back to frazzling if he goes through a bizarre slump in the next couple of months! Such is fandom...

Posted by j6_strings 04/08/2009 at 11:20 AM

fd - on Federer: there were many that thought Roger might, or at least should have hung it up after the FO thumping he took in '08, or the Wimbledon loss in '08 as well, and let's see....he was in the final of the next two GS tournaments, winning one of them. Let's not go throwing Roger off any bridges just yet.

Folks are acting like Fed is 37 yrs old, rather than 27. Having been something of an athlete myself, I would say that barring injury or a change of heart, there is nothing physically that would prevent a person from continuing on playing at a high level at that age. If anything, you are probably a bit more naturally strong and fast at 27 than at 22. The main problem that starts to set in is increased recovery time which can sap the motivation to train hard, so you have to learn some new training routines to stay ahead of the game. I don't want to imply that Roger is off in terms of fitness, but the physical can impact the mental, and if his old routine is causing him trouble, it could be affecting his confidence level.

Just a thought.

Posted by fd 04/08/2009 at 11:25 AM

I said it was just a hunch that Roger wouldn't make more GS finals this year, and it's certainly not based on my opinions about his physical abilities. I would not at all be surprised to see Roger make more GS finals or even win, and for the sake of tennis I hope he does. I just have a hunch that he won't this year. Nadal, Murray and arguably Djokovic are just as good as him on hard courts now. His best shot is Wimbledon because his grass game is still the best out there. But he is obviously not dealing well with the frustration of having been knocked down a rung, he is going to have a baby this summer, and I just don't see him being focused enough mentally.

Posted by Ally 04/08/2009 at 12:18 PM

"Del Potro sure is the hotest player out there. I expect of him to beat Rafa in RG, or at least one of MS clay events. He has great groundstrokes, charging the net very much and that's the forumla to win clay court events."

Azhdaja, I hope there's a touch of irony to this. If you were a true DelPo fan, you'd know that he's more proficient on hardcourts than on clay ... so why exactly would you expect him to beat Rafa in his Parisian house?

Del Potro is overrated, in my view, and his game very one-dimensional. His win against Rafa at Miami was all guts and motivation (while Rafa succumbed to some mental ghosts for once), not an exhibition of skill or variety.

Posted by Valevapor 04/08/2009 at 12:18 PM

Let's put Federer's presumed retirement-inducing slump into perspective:

~ Has made 19 consecutive GS semis
~ Has made finals or better in 10 of last 12 clay events
~ Has lost only ONCE on grass in the past six years
~ Has won the USO five straight times

Yes, he has shown a troubling lack of confidence in tight moments against primary rivals of late, but he has not lost this year to anyone outside the top 4, which cannot be said for anyone else. His only slumps are against Rafa in general and on medium-slow, second-tier hard courts, which has become the favored surface of Murray and many others.

Posted by Pica_pica ("Don't Give Up, Because You Are Loved" -- to my suffering heros) 04/08/2009 at 12:19 PM

In response of the unpredictability of Nole, I have created a song for him by changing the song "Maria" in "The Sound of Music".

Nole

He jokes around and laughs around
His face has got a smile
He waltzes on his way to court
And whistles on the bench
And underneath his sun cap
He has spikes in his hair
I even heard him singing in the stadium

He's always late for practice
But his penitence is real
He's always late for every ball
Except when he is on
I hate to have to say it
But I very firmly feel
Nole's not an asset to the GOATdom

I'd like to say a word in his behalf
The Djoker makes me laugh

How do you solve a problem like Nole?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Nole?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell him
Many a thing he ought to understand
But how do you make him stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Nole?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

When I watch him I'm confused
Out of focus and bemused
And I never know exactly where I am
Unpredictable as weather
He's as flighty as a feather
He's a darling! He's a demon! He's a lamb!

He'd outpester any pest
Drive a hornet from its nest
He could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl
He is gentle! He is wild!
He's a riddle! He's a child!
He's a headache! He's an angel!
He's a boy!

How do you solve a problem like Nole?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Nole?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell him
Many a thing he ought to understand
But how do you make him stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Nole?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

Posted by ravi 04/08/2009 at 12:21 PM

dats greatly said , vamos rafa come on u can win anything given ur mental concentration stays the same. u shd win the french first bcoz many scares turning up around u .

Posted by cat 04/08/2009 at 12:48 PM

Hello Steve !
Do you know that people watching tennis because of Rog, not
because of Rafa and Murray !
So many people stop watching final in Key Biscayn because its boring with out Rog.
Get a new job Steve !
Roge always A+

Posted by Carrie 04/08/2009 at 01:10 PM

cat- While Roger is fantastic- as someone who has watched tennis since I was a small child, I certainly hope that the sport is about more than just one player. Tennis existed before Roger and tennis existed after.

And I think Steve does a very good job- even if he dares to think that there is more than one player in the sport.

Posted by Carrie 04/08/2009 at 01:10 PM

cat- While Roger is fantastic- as someone who has watched tennis since I was a small child, I certainly hope that the sport is about more than just one player. Tennis existed before Roger and tennis existed after.

And I think Steve does a very good job- even if he dares to think that there is more than one player in the sport.

Posted by future rafa 04/08/2009 at 01:19 PM

rafa can only be described as one thing......THE KING OF TENNIS!!!! because he has overpassed all of his obstacles like not doing so good on hardcourts.....guess what he beat federer on the AO and Murray in the indian wells open.......yeah at some point he will loose on hard court but he has showed us he can do about anything......VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by juan lopez 04/08/2009 at 01:23 PM

well rafa is a true inspiration to me he has showed me that any obstacle can be surpass i hope that later this year he can win the next 3 grand slams.....French (i wonder who will win that grand slam :) Jk and wimbledon but most important the U.S. open hope to see him wim there. VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!! POR EL CAMPEONATO DE ABIERTO DE FRANCIA (FRENCH OPEN)

Posted by gretchen 04/08/2009 at 01:38 PM

jeferson:

How come Rafa has to "beat everyone" to get an A+ but Murray can lose in the 4th round of AO and lose IW, which somehow proves he can "win everything." Ummm, what?? That makes no sense. Unrealistic expectations for both players.

Posted by frances 04/08/2009 at 01:40 PM

cat: hands down there are a lot of people watching roger-- but there is also a lot of followers for nadal-myself included- and soon enough murray will establish a fan base of his own and so are the rest of the ments top ten--- its just tennis-- one comes and goes -- fans comes and goes

Posted by James 04/08/2009 at 01:43 PM

Federer is the greatest of all time, even Uncle Toni, Nadal's coach, says so. He will regain his form and win many more slams

Posted by frances 04/08/2009 at 01:49 PM

Jefferson-- there would be a riot here is Murray got an A+ and Nadal got an A--- hes won more yes...but nadal won what matters most in the first quarter considering ghe was not even the favorite--- its simple -- think of college:) Murray As almost all the quizzes (minor tournament) every week, but when the final test came--- he choke and barely passed 75/100 (generous way of saying he didnt make it to the quarter in the AO open)..whilst nadal past all his quizzes---80% in Doha,90% in Rotterdam, 100 %in Indian Wells, 77% in Miami-- BUT he was 100/100 highest passing grade in AO- heavily weighted-- so a much fight as you will defer-- FINAL GRADE MATTERS-- and thats why he got teh A+

end of story

Posted by hazel 04/08/2009 at 01:52 PM

the GOAT talk is pretty pointless because it's subjective and everyone has arguments one way or the other. case in point: i find it hard to call somehow the GOAT when they can't beat their main rival. his record against Rafa is BAD, and against Murray as well. that speaks volumes.

Posted by hazel 04/08/2009 at 01:56 PM

*someone*

Posted by rpf (not Roger Federer) 04/08/2009 at 02:02 PM

Apparently some would like Federer not even to exist in the orbit of the eclipsing stars, Nadal and Murray. Steve, what makes him so fascinating? After his meltdown in Miami, ignoring the autograph seekers, and the the surly presser, the Miami Herald reported that he was signing autographs in the parking lot, when leaving the stadium. I'm sure he was smiling sheepishly, and reconsidering that he would not want his child that he desires to watch him play, witness his play that afternoon. Also, if his parents had been there (we were not shown them), he might not have 'lost' it.

Posted by cat 04/08/2009 at 02:11 PM

To hazel !
Rog--13 grand slams
Rafa-6
and boring Murray -0
I think Rog get his game back very soon !!!!
He was #1 for 4 years-I want to see Rafa or Murray bit this record!
He is GOAT already my friend !!!!
Go Roger!!!!

Posted by lou seckler 04/08/2009 at 02:16 PM

It is about time Haines Underwear signs up Rafa Nadal (along with Mike Jordan and others) as their endorsee. Maybe this way he will do away with his trade mark before serving: the proverbial butt pick.

Posted by Ira 04/08/2009 at 02:23 PM

Steve...I thoughly enjoyed your grading system of the players and felt you were right on the money.....I've been a huge Rafa fan since he came onto the tour....I especially love when he beats the great Federer.......I do agree with you about Roger's Grade simply because he did make the Australian final and the semi's of Indian Wells & Key Biscayne....so based on those performances he deserves a B+.......even though they weren't up to the standards that Roger is used to......Keep up the great writing.......Bring on the clay season and watch Rafa shine!!!!!

Posted by hazel 04/08/2009 at 02:26 PM

to cat!
that's the problem - all their careers aren't over yet!! you can't stamp anything yet my friend! it's not possible till it's all said and done! it's an endless argument! deal!

Posted by frances 04/08/2009 at 02:47 PM

cat- roger was great in his time--the greatest is subjective at the era etc etc

your choice of standards is the number of slams won-- well... SAMPRAS then will be the greatest in your standards

Posted by Really 04/08/2009 at 03:18 PM

There is no GOAT. It's really the silliest, least interesting debate in all of tennis. If Roger's the GOAT, then surely Emerson was the GOAT when he retired? Nope.

Posted by kermit 04/08/2009 at 03:22 PM

first

Posted by fangorina 04/08/2009 at 03:25 PM

Sampras is the GOAT, and will alway be in my opinion. Roger is 2nd best GOAT until he has 15 Slams, then perhaps we'll see. RF may still do it though. I would give his year a C+ by his own standards, though not a B+. Easy draw in AO to finals loss. Bad loss in IW. Horrific loss in KB. No titles. Agree with most of the other grades. The Report Card after the clay season will be different, except for Rafa.

Posted by fangorina 04/08/2009 at 03:31 PM

Anyone know what Rafa's alleged "personal problem" referred to in his pc after losing to JMDP?

Posted by TennisFan2 04/08/2009 at 03:38 PM

Time to close the barn door on the GOAT debate!

Steve, your grades are great except for Serena. At 27 she has put a major effort into this year and deserves the A.

Posted by Corrie (not Carrie or Cory) 04/08/2009 at 06:52 PM

This is all degenerating into ridiculous subjective pushing for each fan's favourite - or against each fan's most hated.

Posted by bandit04 04/08/2009 at 08:05 PM

Have i missed something?! The hype surrounding Murray is quite incredible. Don't get me wrong...he is an excellent player, with a cerebral style that is a challenge to face...but until the man starts winning something other than BEST OF 3 Set matches...i will reserve judgment on his "greatness." Sports are a fickle thing...the media builds up and then rips down athletes quickly. Wasn't it just last year that Djokovic was all but set to be one of the dominant players in the world (according to many "experts") after his Australian Open win? But he hasn't exactly been lighting the courts on fire since. Until someone besides Nadal or Federer win a grand slam...it's those two player and THEN everyone else. Nadal has clearly claimed the #1 spot. Federer, though far from his best recently, is almost always challenging for a Grand Slam win. He won the US Open, he lost EPIC finals at Wimbeldon and Aussie...and if it wasn't for the greatest clay court player of all time playing in the same era as him...he most likely would have won a French as well. Now whether Federer will be able to regain his form is an altogether different question. But the point is Murray has yet to win grand slam...and that is a completely different beast than 3 set Masters matches. Plus, i am still not completely sold on his temperment or his fitness in a grueling 5 set match. If he goes on this year and wins a grand slam...my hats off to him. But until then...i will hold off thinking he is the "next big thing."

Posted by gretchen 04/08/2009 at 08:46 PM

bandit04: my thoughts exactly.

Posted by frances 04/08/2009 at 09:11 PM

bandit04 - i also definitely agree on you-- because actually it looks like murray is imitating the RAFA like defensive play even more -- and he runs almost all the balls just like how young rafa did-- very good in three sets because he can anticipate his opponents to force an error as he costantly keeps the ball play- however -- it is brutal in a five setter to apply his game-- and to me- especially if its a five setter-- the fifth set is all mental... best wishes to murray but MORE VAMOS to RAFA!!!!

Posted by bandit04 04/09/2009 at 04:30 AM

Murray certainly has improved and he definitely can chase shots down. But there is still SOMETHING about him that doesn't inspire full confidence for me. His temper still flares up when things get a bit dodgy. He also goes into lapses where he takes his foot off the pedal. Not to mention for a young player who has worked hard on his conditioning...he so often has a pained look on his face when he is pushed. And finally, he has yet to develop that one killer shot...a massive forehand like a Rafa or Federer. Don't get me wrong...he has excellent shot making capabilities and his serve has improved...but right now he doesn't have that huge weapon that will be an equalizer...especially in a 5 setter. I am by no means trying to rip the man down...he is still young and has showed great potential. But great potential is different than being a grand slam champion. If he goes on and beats guys like Rafa and Fed to win slam/slams...we can start truly putting him on the Rafa/Fed level. But as Djokovic, and many talented players before him, has proven...even winning a grand slam doesn't guarantee success or dominance. That is why some people in the media need to show more respect and appreciate the CONSISTENCY guys like Rafa and Fed show on the big stage...instead of always looking to build the next superstar after only a small glimpse of their talent.

Posted by tina 04/09/2009 at 06:08 AM

hey, I just caught this: "but she wasn't 24 then". hmmmm....

Now naturally one must agree that Jankovic has had a terrible start to 2009 - I won't go so far as to proclaim her a hot mess, this slang expression so over-used by samantha (give it a rest, hun, "hot mess" is sooo last year!) - but is 24 officially considered over the hill?

Posted by Corrie (not Carrie or Cory) 04/09/2009 at 07:58 AM

bandit, your comments on the top 4 are right on the money and considerably more sensible and realistic than most. The British press has too much influence in shaping opinion in their hyping of Murray. If he was from, say, a smaller, non English speaking country, there'd be considerably less interest and excitement and a bit more caution.

Winning a grand slam is just so different from everything else and is also the true measure. As is consistency in reaching the finals in the grand slams.

Posted by Manana 04/09/2009 at 03:54 PM

But as Djokovic, and many talented players before him, has proven...even winning a grand slam doesn't guarantee success or dominance.----

Bandit give Djokovic a chance. It's been a year since his GS. It took Pete almost 3 years to get his second one. Sheesh.

Posted by NDMS 04/09/2009 at 03:58 PM

A+ for Nadal
A for Murray
A- for Del Potro/Roddick
B+ for Federer
B for Djokovic

Thanks for the write-up, Steve. I agree with the above grades.

Indian Wells/Key Biscayne should get a C+ for TV coverage alone. FSN/Gimelboob is an abomination. How could the US-based tennis masters events be so inaccessible? Thank goodness, FSN is not interested in claycourt tennis so TTC takes over.

But one can't blame the weather for the lackluster finals. Blame it on finalists blaming the weather. If Murray complained about a spectator sneezing (R32 against Mathieu), then he would easily whine in the wind and Djokovic performing in the heat is an oxymoron.

Posted by bandit04 04/09/2009 at 04:49 PM

Manana,

I am not writing Djokovic off or do not think he is a tremendous talent. I am just talking about how some in the media try to make it a forgone conclusion that a glimpse of success means a superstar has arrived. As Djokovic has shown...talent alone doesn't bring CONSISTENT success. He has battled mental and physical problems since his Aussie win...and he is trying to sort himself out. Can he? Certainly. But before we anoint someone the next big thing...we should certainly see how things pan out over time. Same goes for when someone is going through a slump (e.g. Federer). In Murray's case...he has yet to even win a grand slam. Is he talented...absolutely. But nothing is a forgone conclusion as make it out to be.

Posted by Joe 04/09/2009 at 11:05 PM

cat, Roger 13 Grand Slams (27 years old)
Nadal 6 Grand Slams (22 years ols)
Can you imagine how many more Grand Slams Nadal can get as far as 27 ?

Posted by bandit04 04/10/2009 at 04:48 AM

Joe,

As great as Nadal is playing...it doesn't mean he will continue to win slams at the same clip as last year. As tremendously strong as Nadal is physically and mentally...durability will be the big issue for him as his career continues. If his body holds up...he certainly has a chance at many more...but again, you just never know how things turn out.

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