Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Musing on Madrid
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Musing on Madrid 05/11/2009 - 12:30 PM

86812134 In traveling from Rome to Madrid, we’ve gone from the peeling to the gleaming, from the historic to the high-tech, from the solemn-sounding Foro Italico to the postmodern-sounding Magic Box. And what did we find when we got there? Marat Safin with his hands in the air and his racquet bouncing on the clay in front of him.

The center court in Madrid looks great from what I’ve seen over the last hour on TV, though my first thought was that the light and atmosphere reminded me of the light and atmosphere in the similarly high-tech main stadium in Hamburg, the tournament that was booted off the schedule this year to make room for this one—the new has been replaced by the even-more-new. Otherwise, it sounds like it’s been a shaky start in Madrid, with Spaniards Nadal and Robredo noting the site’s deficiencies: few practice courts, buildings still under construction, cramped locker rooms, a silly blue clay court, and an owner, Ion Tiriac, with delusions of world domination. Are these legitimate beefs, or the gripes of touchy pros who have had their routine disturbed for the week? We’ll find out in the days and years ahead. What’s interesting so far is that Nadal, who is dead set against Tiriac’s idea of Madrid becoming a “Fifth Slam,” is turning out to be just as much of a traditionalist as his predecessor at No. 1, Roger Federer. Why would either of them want the sport to do anything differently? It might mess with their mojo.

The biggest change is that Madrid is a dual-gender event, which, according to most of the sport’s observers, is the best way for each tour to maximize its appeal. That means we have two draws to break down: Both of them feature virtually every player of importance in limited, 56-person draws—it felt a little early in the week to see Safin play Tsonga today. But both of them will have their own very different storylines playing out.


The Men


First Quarter
It may sound illogical, but the men’s event is now less about who can beat Nadal than whether he can keep winning all the way through to another French Open. That would mean five straight tournament titles, more than he’s ever pulled off in one spring. While that kind of sustained dominance may seem unlikely, what’s even more unlikely is that he’ll lose a match on clay in the foreseeable future. We’ll see if Nadal’s early irritation with the facility and the surface has any affect on his attitude.

Nadal’s quarter is loaded with fellow Spaniards—Ferrer, Verdasco, Ferrero, Montanes, Granollers, Lopez, and Almagro. Plus, there’s Argentina’s Juan Monaco, who nearly reached the semis in Rome two weeks ago. Of those, Verdasco and Ferrer have the best chance of making some inroads against Nadal. I might say the same thing for Almagro, except that I haven’t seen him once during this clay season, which isn’t a good sign.
First-round match to watch: Almagro vs. Kohlschreiber—nice backhands.
Semifinalist: Nadal

Second Quarter
This time Novak Djokovic, after losing to Nadal in the Monte Carlo and Rome finals, has the honor of appearing in the same half as the top seed. He’s slotted to play the winner of Tsonga and Simon in the quarters. Before that, he doesn’t have a lot to worry about—Sam Querrey has already knocked out 15th seed Radek Stepanek. I’m curious to see whether either Tsonga or Simon will make some kind of move heading into Roland Garros. There’s an opportunity here for each of them.
Semifinalist: Djokovic

Third Quarter
After a couple weeks of rest and practice, Andy Murray picks up his clay campaign again. He’s opposite his old friend Juan-Martin del Potro in this section; he’s near Tommy Robredo; and he begins with the perhaps tricky Simone Bolelli, an Italian who knows his way around a clay court. Will Murray’s momentum be slowed by his early loss in Rome? I don’t think so—he has the big picture in mind and seems to have learned not to sweat the day-to-day and point-to-point as much as he once did. On del Potro’s side is Stan Wawrinka, who could easily reach the quarters or beyond.
Dark horse: Tomas Berdych. He won his first event of 2009 last week, and he might face del Potro in the second round.
Semifinalist: Murray

Fourth Quarter
Roger Federer may not have it easy to start. He could get Igor Andreev, who had him on the ropes at the U.S. Open last year, in his opener, and then perhaps James Blake, who made an unexpected surge last week in reaching the Estoril final. On the other side are Roddick, Haas, Gulbis, and Davydenko. Why do I like Roddick’s chances, despite the fact that he’s coming off his honeymoon? He’ll already have nothing to lose on clay; now he’ll have even less than nothing. And despite most evidence to the contrary, he isn’t that bad on this stuff.
Semifinalist: Roddick

Semifinals: Nadal d. Djokovic; Murray d. Roddick
Final: Nadal d. Murray


The Women

First Quarter

After a spell of the routine and the random, there were suddenly a few sparks of drama floating around the WTA tour as this tournament got underway. They began when Serena Williams proclaimed herself, rather than the top-ranked Dinara Safina, the “real No. 1.” Safina countered by beating Serena’s sister on her way to a title in Rome. I was about to say that now we just need to cement the moment with a showdown between the two new rivals in Madrid, except, naturally, Serena retired in the first round.

Safina begins with a potentially tough first-rounder in Na Li. In the quarterfinals she might need to repeat her win in the Rome final over Svetlana Kuznetsova. Is Safina just another part-time No. 1, like Jankovic and Ivanovic, or is she ready to make it part of her identity? Last week it seemed to be the latter. We’ll learn more soon.
Semifinalist: Safina

Second Quarter
Jelena Jankovic has bottomed out and is slowly finding her way back to the surface. It hasn’t been a straight line upward, but she’s certainly in better spirits than she was in the U.S. in March. Hantuchova, Dulko, Petrova, Wozniak, Bartoli: Jankovic doesn’t have any insurmountable obstacles on her way to the semis. Let’s see if JJ is ready to take advantage of the opening and put herself back in the running for Roland Garros.
Semifinalist: Jankovic

Third Quarter
The new face of 2009, Victoria Azarenka, has kept up the good work through the spring, and there’s no obvious reason to think it won’t continue in Madrid—which, in WTA terms, means she’ll probably crash and burn in the first round. She’s scheduled to face Elena Dementieva in the quarters.
Semifinalist: Azarenka

Fourth Quarter
Serena and Venus were somehow been thrown into the same quarter—this is the problem with not caring about where you’re ranked, and, therefore, seeded. While Serena is out, Venus had a solid run to the semis in Rome.
Semifinalist: V. Williams

Semifinals: Azarenka d V. Williams; Safina d. Jankovic
Final: Safina d. Azarenka


I’ll be in Madrid this week, and at the tournament for a day or two. I will let you know how it is, and whether the tournament is running a little more smoothly from the fan’s perspective. Enjoy it back here. FYI: If you want to see the women, you’ll have to leave the Tennis Channel, which only carries the ATP feed, and hit TennisTV.com.


 
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Comments
 
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Posted by surinamer 05/11/2009 at 12:40 PM

O.O

Posted by ..... 05/11/2009 at 12:48 PM

roddick over federer and that too on clay?????????????...much as i appreciate your tennis brain Mr.Tignor but still........

Posted by ava 05/11/2009 at 12:48 PM

What’s interesting so far is that Nadal, who is dead set against Tiriac’s idea of Madrid becoming a “Fifth Slam,” is turning out to be just as much of a traditionalist as his predecessor at No. 1, Roger Federer.
-------
That is a very accurate observation. I was reading Nadal's quote and thought the same. He really reminded me of Federer speaking about tradition with the comment about preserving the history of the clay courts. Obviously, both do not want things to change as it may affect them adversely.

Posted by Tfactor 05/11/2009 at 12:49 PM

Steve,
Enjoy your time in Madrid and hope you get to see some entertaining matches.
My picks are not too different from yours with the exception of Roddick. While I agree he is not terrible on clay, I think the personal stuff does get in the way. Same reason I didn't pick Federer to reach the final. I picked Davydenko but more based on an elimination process than really thinking he can make it there. We shall see :)

Posted by ava 05/11/2009 at 12:52 PM

I think the altitude will help players with attacking games and I think a dark horse, for example, Fernando Verdasco, who has a good attacking game can take the whole thing. I will not be too disappointed if Rafa loses this time around.

Posted by chandra 05/11/2009 at 12:58 PM

Who in the world pick Roddick over Roger on Clay??? Nobody, not even Roddick himself...but our Tignor thinks so :). Mr. Tignor, you are completely out of your mind.

Posted by ava 05/11/2009 at 01:00 PM

I have high hopes for Azarenka for the entire year. I think she will really do well in the hard court season barring injury. Right now, I am not so confident in Vika's ability on clay especially in that crazy match against Kuznetsova but she is learning and all this is good experience for her.
I want Dinara to win Madrid as well although I'm not so confident whether she can do it mostly because of how long it has been in WTA since a player won 2 back-to-back big tournaments.
My pick is Kuznetsova although I'm not so confident.

Posted by SRao 05/11/2009 at 01:00 PM

Steve,I appreciate your break-down of the draw...to Pick Roddick over Federer...all i can say.."you've lost it"

Posted by SwissMaestro 05/11/2009 at 01:02 PM

Nadal will show some fatigue in my opinion this time around but it will take everything Djokovic is got to take him down anyway. This might be a good thing for the Spaniard to sandbag everyone but it will be good for the kid to take a lot of pressure off of him before RG.

SF:

Djokovic d. Nadal 6-4, 1-6 and 7-5
Murray d. Federer 6-3 and 6-1

Final

Djokovic d. Murray 6-3, 4-6 and 6-4

Posted by ava 05/11/2009 at 01:08 PM

Actually, I don't think Steve's prediction of Roddick is as crazy as some of you made out to be. Sure Roddick has done nothing this season but get married. Also remember that Roddick actually got to Rome semis last year and had to retire against Wawrinka. The altitude in Madrid is definitely a factor; the balls fly fast through the air almost like HCs. If Roddick gets past a few rounds and if he faces Fed I'd still like his chances. Not saying he will win but I don't think it is as crazy a prediction as it may seem on the surface.

Also, I do not expect Fed to make it that far. Especially with his unimpressive performances so far.

Posted by Paula Vergara 05/11/2009 at 01:09 PM

Steve,

Thanks for the great post! No question, Nadal will own this tournament, but the true test for him will be his ability to sustain his winning ways through RG. I heard that he doesn't like the altitude at the Mutua Madrilena Open, but will probably be able to bounce back before RG.

Safina will have the best chance of winning here, since Ivanovic is out with an injury. I don't think JJ is back to where she needs/wants to be, but anything is possible...

Enjoy your time in Madrid. Looking forward to your take on The Magic Box.

Hope you get a chance to step away from the media room to sample some of the churros con chocolate in Madrid!

Posted by ava 05/11/2009 at 01:10 PM

SwissMaestro, I think that's a very realistic prediction and can definitely happen. In my opinion Madrid is wide open.

Posted by Campi 05/11/2009 at 01:11 PM

Mu humble prediction. Rafa wins, again, without losing a set. He's just too good.

Posted by Ade 05/11/2009 at 01:18 PM

I also picked Roddick over Federer.

I pick Nadal winning the whole thing. He IS that good, a real wonder lately in my eyes. I can't see anybody coming close to him on clay. He is so comfortable and natural on that surface, he seems to just breeze right through all his matches. It's like it's in his blood.

I'm picking Mauresmo on the lady's side.

Posted by Droshot Dragon 05/11/2009 at 01:18 PM

I don't think Steve necessarily picked Roddick to reach the semis by beating Roger. Maybe he means Roger would lose even earlier than that. Either way, I don't think it's that outlandish at all. Roddick has absolutely nothing on the line.

I don't think it's a lock Djokovic will make the semis. He just won the Serbian Open. This would be the 3rd consecutive week of tennis. Some of the other guys Steve mentioned (Tsonga, Simon, Stephanek) could be the semifinalist.

Posted by Ronald 05/11/2009 at 01:25 PM

I am a big Andy Roddick fan but we have to consider that he has not played a single clay court match for the year except for two exhibitions and he has have real difficultybeating Tommy Haas however if he somehow beat Tommy Haas then Steve Tignor prediction might not be so crazy.One thing you guys have to remember is that Roger Federer and Andy Roddick never face each other on clay yet in all of their meetings.

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 01:30 PM

madrid might just be the tournament the could help djokovic regaind his #3 ranking- Of course I want Nadal to win- but distractions may definitely affect his game.

I still believe that federer will resurge back in the scene, the question is when. It would be great if Federer will get a win againsts Murray on clay- I was hoping that would happen... nothing against Murray just fyi... Robredo might be an interesting match against him.

if the Finals will include a Nadal- then I think the winner will be a "NADAL"

if the Finals will be Djokovic over Federer- it's a tie
if the finals will be Djokovic over Murray- I will pick Djokovic.

Posted by They God is Tennis 05/11/2009 at 01:31 PM

Wow! Roddick over Federer. Funniest thing I have seen since last week's "Office".

So, Roger beats Andy on hard courts two months ago. Andy has new coach/trainer. He is in the best shape of his life. He is playing with more strategy then a computer chess game and....wait for it....he still gets beat by Federer.

Now you want me to believe that after a month off and not playing any clay court matches Andy will come out and just click right into the semis. Ha. I doubt he gets to the quarters.

Steve, how did your Ferrer pick go? Hmmm.....

Posted by tennisfan 05/11/2009 at 01:34 PM

men's draw: nadal to the final over the joker. federer up in the air. murray working on his clay game.

women's draw: serena has had bad clay season. dinara looking good, kuzzy a possibility, azarenka a chance, venus unpredictable. jj working on her game.

Posted by KB 05/11/2009 at 01:37 PM

I know that the altitude may benefit Roddick however, he hasn't managed to even beat Roger on hard courts this year. I honestly don't see him getting through Davydenko. But there are always unpredictable things happening at tournaments. I wouldn't be completely shocked if Roddick made the semis. But I do think he is an unusual pick.

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 01:38 PM

JUST WANT TO SHARE MY THOUGHTS on PATTERNS

In every Tournament this year in which all the Big 4 participated- it seems that there's always 1 being upset. Who will it be- is open for discussion-- but lord please lord no Nadal upset in RG '09:P VAMOS RAFA!!!

Posted by KB 05/11/2009 at 01:39 PM

They God is Tennis:
I LOVED last week's episode of The Office.

Posted by lilscot 05/11/2009 at 01:41 PM

I've been a lurker for a long time here. Always love the comments. Just wanted to add my views on Steve's picks. I actually don't think it's that crazy to pick Roddick over Roger. Sure the stats don't speak to that, but it seems as if everything is different in Roger's world lately. At least he won't have Andreev to worry about in the first round.

As for my hero Rafa, I don't see him slowing down at all. Jason Goodall was saying during Rome that Rafa hadn't been playing as well as last year, even though he's lost nothing so far on clay. My take is that Rafa's team has a plan to keep him going longer by having him try to win with as little effort as possible in order to save his mind and body over the whole year stretch. Some of his matches have looked tougher than they are because of this. I mean, really, why race around like a maniac if you can win using just 90-95% of your strength. I think he's saving that for the Slams and the summer hard court tour. He has his eyes on the US Open now for sure.

Just my humble opinion...

Posted by lilscot 05/11/2009 at 01:43 PM

That's funny, my post came up but not my name.

Posted by lilscot 05/11/2009 at 01:44 PM

Okay, now I'm confused. My previous post went up without my name. Then I sent a second one mentioning that fact and it came up but now my first post is gone?

I'm a new poster here but a long time lurker. Always love the comments here.

Posted by imjimmy 05/11/2009 at 01:45 PM

Steve: Thanks for the preview!

Finally someone agrees with my picks: I have Murray in the final too! It's very likely that he will get there, even if he has to beat Federer in the semi-final to do so.

As for Nadal, I feel that if he has to be troubled(or to loose), it will be earlier- by someone like Verdasco in the QF - rather than later in the tournament.

Finally I hope(and expect) a blockbuster Nadal vs Murray final.

Posted by lilscot 05/11/2009 at 01:47 PM

Okay, now I see everything came up. Sorry everyone for all those posts!!

Posted by Master Ace 05/11/2009 at 01:50 PM

ATP
SF: Nadal vs Djokovic and Murray vs Federer
F: Nadal vs Federer(he finally win a match against the Big 3)
W: Nadal

WTA
SF: Safina vs Jankovic and Dementieva vs V Williams
F: Jankovic vs V Williams
W: Jankovic

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 01:51 PM

My thoughts on the Ticker message:

FEDERER:

Roger Federer, speaking to reporters in Madrid, on not having played Rafael Nadal on clay this year: "I've played solid [this year] but not quite my best against the best players. I'm hoping for that to happen [this week]; if it doesn't happen I'm going into Paris without having played Rafa and that maybe is not a bad thing...

"He's gotten confident by beating me [during lead-up events on clay in the past], that's made it a little bit easier for him facing me at the French Open. This year it hasn't happened yet but I still hope I can play him here because then I'm going to go through to the finals... I still think it is a good thing if we were to play in the French Open that we hadn't played beforehand."

COMMENT: He sounds like he's in denial or maybe just streaming positive thought to regain his confidence again. The bad thing about not being able to play nadal on clay this year is his "at par level" obviously is not "at par" against nadal yet.


MURRAY:
on gunning for the No. 2 ranking after having now clinched No. 3: "I know how the rankings stand and the points and I´ve got a chance of overtaking Roger if I can play very well the next couple of months. The most important thing is to concentrate on playing well and not the ranking. If you are always thinking about what time he is playing at and what his draw is like and what not then you´re not taking care of yourself and that´s the most important thing."

COMMENT: The irony of his response is I think by saying he's not thinking about how to reach no. 2 is he actually thinking how to reach no. 2- I've read a few of his press response in the past few months and he knows his points well so he's definitely been thinking about it..,,

NADAL

"Rafael Nadal, speaking to reporters in Madrid, on the tournament's desire to have blue-colored clay courts in the future: "I can say that no matter how perfect it is, I'm totally against it. I think that the clay season is one of the most historic in tennis and the clay court is red, not blue. Tennis is not just show business; there's history and tradition and that says it's red and there are symbolic things that the sporting world should preserve."

Comment: I can definitely tell that Nadal is not a Fan of Tiriac (ME NEITHER!!!!!) and the tournament. He's playing this tournment for (1)Spain (2) Requirement (3) Rhythm. I hope he will be able to block all this negativity out from his game. VAMOS RAFA!!!

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 01:51 PM

My thoughts on the Ticker message:

FEDERER:

Roger Federer, speaking to reporters in Madrid, on not having played Rafael Nadal on clay this year: "I've played solid [this year] but not quite my best against the best players. I'm hoping for that to happen [this week]; if it doesn't happen I'm going into Paris without having played Rafa and that maybe is not a bad thing...

"He's gotten confident by beating me [during lead-up events on clay in the past], that's made it a little bit easier for him facing me at the French Open. This year it hasn't happened yet but I still hope I can play him here because then I'm going to go through to the finals... I still think it is a good thing if we were to play in the French Open that we hadn't played beforehand."

COMMENT: He sounds like he's in denial or maybe just streaming positive thought to regain his confidence again. The bad thing about not being able to play nadal on clay this year is his "at par level" obviously is not "at par" against nadal yet.


MURRAY:
on gunning for the No. 2 ranking after having now clinched No. 3: "I know how the rankings stand and the points and I´ve got a chance of overtaking Roger if I can play very well the next couple of months. The most important thing is to concentrate on playing well and not the ranking. If you are always thinking about what time he is playing at and what his draw is like and what not then you´re not taking care of yourself and that´s the most important thing."

COMMENT: The irony of his response is I think by saying he's not thinking about how to reach no. 2 is he actually thinking how to reach no. 2- I've read a few of his press response in the past few months and he knows his points well so he's definitely been thinking about it..,,

NADAL

"Rafael Nadal, speaking to reporters in Madrid, on the tournament's desire to have blue-colored clay courts in the future: "I can say that no matter how perfect it is, I'm totally against it. I think that the clay season is one of the most historic in tennis and the clay court is red, not blue. Tennis is not just show business; there's history and tradition and that says it's red and there are symbolic things that the sporting world should preserve."

Comment: I can definitely tell that Nadal is not a Fan of Tiriac (ME NEITHER!!!!!) and the tournament. He's playing this tournment for (1)Spain (2) Requirement (3) Rhythm. I hope he will be able to block all this negativity out from his game. VAMOS RAFA!!!

Posted by Master Ace 05/11/2009 at 01:52 PM

Lilscot,
Welcome to TW.

Posted by Kofi 05/11/2009 at 01:52 PM

Tennis is a very psychological game, ok... but after some point, the skills are the overwhelming factor. Like if I play Federer, I have nothing to lose on clay either (like Roddick!), but Fed will still make me a bicycle (fyi, I play just for fun).
So I just mean that Federer beats Roddick on clay because he has the skills (or Roddick does not have them, as you prefer). Both if Roddick has something to lose or not, has married or not, has something on the line or not. In my opinion, of course.
As for Federer losing earlier, I could see it against Andreev (not Blake)... only if they were not playing into "thin air".
So my predictions:
Semifinals: Nadal d. Djokovic; Federer d. Murray
Final: Nadal d. Federer

Posted by kenbonez 05/11/2009 at 01:53 PM

i think venus will win this event...with serena retiring it opens up her quarter and safe passage to the semis where i think she'll encounter dementieva...azarenak is not that good on clay considering her poor performance in rome and dementieva is a good clay courter....as for the top...the safina kuzy quarterfinal could go either way, safina has had nothing but tough matche the past 3 weeks...eventually its gotta catch up with her, but with kuzy's weak mentality you never know so i'm picking a jankovic safina semi...which is the match of the tournament same with venus vs dementieva....i think safina and venus will meet in the finals but this will be a good tournament for jelena to see where her game is at before the french and what chance are of winning....ultimately i think the elder williams sister will be out for revenge as she had safina on the ropes in the semifinal last week, she serve better and this time close safina out in straights

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 01:54 PM

Master Ace !!!! i have the same THOUGHTS!!!!!!! BRavo- I always like your picks! and most importantly I TRUST your picks for some ODD REASON!!!

Posted by Kofi 05/11/2009 at 01:59 PM

frances, here is another deep thought on patterns: the last time Roddick beat Federer, he said "Going into the court I knew the stats were in my favor: nobody had ever beaten me 13 times in a row..." LOL!

Posted by imjimmy 05/11/2009 at 02:01 PM

"""Jason Goodall was saying during Rome that Rafa hadn't been playing as well as last year.....My take is that Rafa's team has a plan to keep him going longer by having him try to win with as little effort as possible in order to save his mind and body over the whole year stretch """

Sure Rafa's not playing as well as last year. That's pretty plain to see. But his opponents have not been playing well either. (Fed is way off his 08 form and Djokovic is not yet up to Hamburg 08 SF level) So it might not really matter (on clay at least).

Also, I'm not sure I agree with the theory of Rafa trying to win with minimal effort and therefore playing patchy tennis. I think it's more of a case of getting back in touch with more matches. He's played better with each subsequent clay tournament this year (definitely improving over his form in Miami and IW). Ideally he would like to peak(and make the most effort) during the 2 most crucial months in the season: around the time RG starts and then keep his foot on the accelerator until Wimbledon ends (July 5th).

Posted by Tfactor 05/11/2009 at 02:01 PM

Frances,

Thanks for those quotes.

"that's made it a little bit easier for him facing me at the French Open"
I love the Fed, always been a favorite of mine, but really? LOL

Also agree with you on Murray really thinking about rankings, he's actually been talking about reaching # 1 too :)
I like Andy very much too and I truly hope he can concentrate on playing his tennis and let the rankings fall accordingly.

Posted by Campi 05/11/2009 at 02:05 PM

I agree with Kofi... If you've always sucked on clay, it's probably because your game doesn't really suit the surface, and it does not mean that you'll probably make the semis just because "you have nothing to play for." The fact that "you have nothing to play for" should be an indication that it probably will not happen....

Posted by Campi 05/11/2009 at 02:06 PM

^^ Sorry, typo: meant "nothing to lose" not nothing to play for, obviously.

Posted by lilscot 05/11/2009 at 02:08 PM

frances: 1:51 p.m.

I agree totally. When I first read those comments from Roger on not playing Nadal before RG I had to laugh. I mean, I love Roger too, but lately the things he's been saying have sounded a bit hollow. To me he was making it sound like Rafa was only doing well at RG because he had ran into Roger beforehand and therefore had the necessary confidence to win. Huh? I don't think Rafa has any need to play Roger in lead-up tourneys in order to win RG. Just sayin'.

Posted by lilscot 05/11/2009 at 02:10 PM

Thanks Master Ace! I love it here, especially since my man rose to the top spot. Roger is still my second favourite although if he doesn't start doing something soon he's going to disappear off the radar completely. I'm not used to seeing so few stories about him.

Posted by Campi 05/11/2009 at 02:11 PM

Well, Roger has always manifested confidence in press interviews leading up to tournaments. He would never say he doesn't feel like he can beat Rafa, even on clay. Whether the confidence is real or fake, it doesn't matter. He's a proud guy, and stubborn as we all know, he's not going to change his style now.

Posted by Tigress 05/11/2009 at 02:12 PM

So Tignor picks Murray instead of Federer to reach the final. Typical, predictable, and oh so bandwagon. Sorry to inform you of this, but the Murray bandwagon lost its wheels when clay season began. And that bizarre pick of Roddick over Fed. So weird and off-the-wall it takes my breath away (except that it's Steve making it-hoping for a miracle so that he can seem prescient).

What planet are these people coming from picking Murray over Fed on clay and going to the finals? MC was an aberration and Murray is still very inferior on clay. How many more Romes will it take to bring people to their senses? Unlike the other Top 3 players, Murray is NOT an all-surface player. He is nowhere near it.

What's the fuss all about anyway. The latest Rafa coronation will take place on Sunday. At least Tignor got that one right.

Posted by imjimmy 05/11/2009 at 02:13 PM

BTW Federer's record is 0-7 against the big 3 after the Us Open. He desperately needs to get some confidence before RG. He's got a good chance here: I think the court speed and bounce should suit Federer's game- especially the kick serve (if he can get it to work well).

So reaching the Final over here would be a really good result for him, especially if he can do so while beating Murray.

Posted by lilscot 05/11/2009 at 02:15 PM

imjimmy:

I actually think most of the guys, except Roger, are playing way better this year than last and I believe that's thanks to Rafa. His work ethic has forced, or taught, the other top guys to work harder and improve on different aspects of the game. Most of the young guys coming up now seem to be developing a more complete game, like Murray. Even Nole seems to be playing a more complete game. We saw Rafa start to do that last year. Constantly working on his game and trying to improve on weak areas.

Oddly enough, the only player that doesn't seem to be doing anything different is the one guy who needs to the most, the Fed. I only hope he does so.

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 02:18 PM

Tfactor- No problem

I would love to see Federer play well (meaning up to his standards). Too much scrutiny is definitely not helping!

I like Murray too-I'm still trying to "like" his game but no doubt he's main asset is his tactics (which I admire)- he studies opponents very well- He has good chances to reach #1 ranking- but I think Nadal is more ready to accept that if it will inevitably happen than me:P LOL!!!

I'm definitely a fan of djoko's reactions and hopefully his "coming of age"

Posted by Kofi 05/11/2009 at 02:21 PM

Since the topic seems to be arising(?) again, I hope it is ok to repost (C&P) my and others' views from yesterday's thread:

"
Kofi: -Why would it be better for Fed or Nole not to meet Rafa before RG?

ava: -Kofi, that's because it will be better for them to come with a clean plate when facing Rafa in RG and not remember the matches where they lost to Rafa. I think.

md: -Kofi,that's what Fed said. Maybe he's counting on the surprise effect?:-)

Kofi: -ava, Nole's plate is already not clean this year, I think (MC, Rome). And Rafa is well established in Roger's head already. The slim possibilities any of the two have to beat Rafa at RG pass through a psychological change of momentum by beating him in Madrid thanks to: a) 3 sets not 5; b) altitude, balls' flight and bounce; c) Rafa exhausted or unconsciously feeling he deserves a rest; d) good day - bad day conjunction. (Some of these points were made by Pete Bodo too in relation to Fed, I think.)
P.S. If Fed said that, I'd like to know his rationale. Did he explain why? Clean plate theory? I already refuted that I think. Expecting to surprise Rafa with new tactics? He can still not use them against him in Madrid (but will have to show his game against other opponents at least, if he wants to practice the new tactics and test them...)
"

Posted by Mark 05/11/2009 at 02:23 PM

Rodick defending Federer on clay???? That is impossible!!!!! I believe Federer will end up in the finals!!!!!

Posted by Kofi 05/11/2009 at 02:24 PM

Like hesjimmy said, "Federer's record is 0-7 against the big 3 after the Us Open. He desperately needs to get some confidence before RG"

Funny, that his best shot at it (at least for Nadal) is not meeting him before RG, LOL! Like going into RG and thinking "This year things are going GREAT for me into RG, I have not met Rafa even once yet!"

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 02:26 PM


Lilscot! WELCOME to TW- I just started here too- lurking "regularly" (meaning all the time:P) since last year and eventually just started talking to people here! But yeah- like you said- I hope Federer will is not just thinking about how to beat rafa - he hasn't won against Djoko and Murray this year:( so hopefully he is also thinking about that.

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 02:31 PM

tigress!! I pick Federer in this draw!!

Posted by Aliah 05/11/2009 at 02:31 PM

"roddick over federer and that too on clay?????????????...much as i appreciate your tennis brain Mr.Tignor but still........"

haha, I was thinking the same thing!

Nadal d Murray in final....hmmmm...I'd take that! :)

Some of those predictions are little off the wall, but who am I to argue with the man who gets it jawdroppingly right every time! We are not worthy Steve...;)

Posted by Down the Line 05/11/2009 at 02:33 PM

I agree with most of your picks however, I think that venus williams will make it to the final. She played well in Rome and she has had some good resutls on clay before. I think she has enough desire to overtake serena in the rankings to give it a good effort.

Posted by Maria 05/11/2009 at 02:35 PM

Federer will get far this torunament, he's really motivated after his string of recent losses where he gave away the matches basically. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins in Madrid. The predictions are as usual quite off.

Posted by just horsen 05/11/2009 at 02:35 PM

I picked Fed over Roddick so we'll see. But, my biggest question is how is te altitude going to affect Djoko. I mean he's has the most problems with conditioning and stamina kind of stuff out of the big 4. That's the biggest reason I'm picking Rafa over him becuase he's been playing alot and is primed for a breakdown.

Posted by lilscot 05/11/2009 at 02:35 PM

frances:

Hey, thanks frances. Yeah, I've been lurking for about a year too. Took me a while to work up the gumpshion(?) to actually join in the conversation. You make a good point. All this talk from Rog about thinking he can beat Rafa on clay is fine, but as you said, he hasn't even been able to beat Nole or Andy either. He needs to stop focusing so much on Rafa and more on his own game. Rafa is in that stratosphere right now that Rog occupied for so long. At the moment he is untouchable so Roger should be focusing more on maintaining his number 2 spot and not so much on getting back to number 1.

Sometimes when you're so busy looking forward you forget to take a glance over your shoulder to see what's sneaking up behind you.

Posted by KB 05/11/2009 at 02:39 PM

Obviously Roger is using some backwards logic to justify why he thinks NOT having played Rafa on clay works to his advantage. I mean come on. Rafa has been in those clay court finals. The reason Roger hasn't played him is because HE can't beat the guys he needs to beat (Djoko/Murray) in order to get to the final. And, the men he loses to go on to lose to Rafa. Clearly what he is saying is that by not playing Rafa it works as a psychological advantage for Roger. And even that is stretching it. Sure, he doesn't have the recent memories of losing to Rafa. Ie, if he made it to the final in Rome and lost to him there. But the sting from last year's butt whooping at the RG's final (along with all the other subsequent losses) has got to be fresh. But to say that beating Roger on clay before RG served as some sort of confidence builder for Rafa seems lame at this point in Rafa's very very very dominant clay career. Like one of you said earlier, Rafa is thinking to himself, "Hmm... I haven't gotten a chance to beat Roger on clay yet this year. Oh no! This is detrimental to my chances to beat him in Paris." Psh. Please. I love Roger but pride or no pride, his statement laughable.

Ok. Now I need to get off these message boards and write some cover letters or I'll never get a job. Darn you college. Why did you have to end?!!

Posted by KB 05/11/2009 at 02:39 PM

Obviously Roger is using some backwards logic to justify why he thinks NOT having played Rafa on clay works to his advantage. I mean come on. Rafa has been in those clay court finals. The reason Roger hasn't played him is because HE can't beat the guys he needs to beat (Djoko/Murray) in order to get to the final. And, the men he loses to go on to lose to Rafa. Clearly what he is saying is that by not playing Rafa it works as a psychological advantage for Roger. And even that is stretching it. Sure, he doesn't have the recent memories of losing to Rafa. Ie, if he made it to the final in Rome and lost to him there. But the sting from last year's butt whooping at the RG's final (along with all the other subsequent losses) has got to be fresh. But to say that beating Roger on clay before RG served as some sort of confidence builder for Rafa seems lame at this point in Rafa's very very very dominant clay career. Like one of you said earlier, Rafa is thinking to himself, "Hmm... I haven't gotten a chance to beat Roger on clay yet this year. Oh no! This is detrimental to my chances to beat him in Paris." Psh. Please. I love Roger but pride or no pride, his statement laughable.

Ok. Now I need to get off these message boards and write some cover letters or I'll never get a job. Darn you college. Why did you have to end?!!

Posted by KB 05/11/2009 at 02:41 PM

* Sorry. I have NO clue why that posted twice when I pressed the button once. Hopefully this won't post twice too.

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 02:45 PM

Lilscot _

" Sometimes when you're so busy looking forward you forget to take a glance over your shoulder to see what's sneaking up behind you."

SPOT ON!!!

I for one would be upset if he will loose his #2 ranking. I know he doesn't "care" about being #2. He said that only #1 matters and winning slams. Anyway, the future will unravel itself and I hope he will put up a fight and deal with his demons

Posted by CPM 05/11/2009 at 02:51 PM

Roddick to the semis? Hmm, it's got some counter-intuitive charm to it, but I went the conventional route & picked Kolya to take him out. I just don't think he'll have the match fitness to take out somebody with real clay court game. Anyway, I picked Federer to come out of that quarter--Soderling, Karlovic, Blake, Davydenko & Roddick have all been his whipping boys since way back, and that'll probably carry him through as much as anything.

I have Federer meeting, & beating, Murray in the semis. Wawrinka could put up a fight in the QFs v. Murray, but I think Murray should come through. It was pretty much a toss-up between him & Fed, though, and I went with my gut and picked Federer to right the ship. Should be a good match, though.

I'd very much have liked to pick someone to upset Djokovic, since I think he's going to be worn down, but I don't think anyone in his quarter can do it. I have him beating Simon, but I'd frankly be surprised if Gilles-y makes it that far.

Nadal's got the toughest quarter--not that it means much. He'll mow through his countrymen, I'm betting, and mow through Nole, too. I'd be surprised if he drops a set along the way.

I'm thinking Fed puts up a valiant, but doomed, fight in the 1st set, and implodes in the 2nd. Rafa always gets 'up' for Fedal contests, and I don't think this would be any exception.

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 02:52 PM

KB

" Ok. Now I need to get off these message boards and write some cover letters or I'll never get a job. Darn you college. Why did you have to end?!!"

LOL-KB believe me after 4 years post college making money- the last sentence still applies.. DARN YOU COLLEGE WHY DID YOU HAVE TO END!!!!!

Posted by Griff 05/11/2009 at 02:56 PM

There is no way Djokovic will get to the semi.He played 4 consecutive finals in consecutive weeks.He'll drop out in 2nd or 3rd round.

Posted by Black Matt 05/11/2009 at 03:04 PM

Screw Roddick beating Federer. If Andy can beat Tommy Haas AND Davydenko on clay after not playing for a month, I'll be thrilled. The only thing I want from Andy this clay season is to make it to (at least) the 3rd round of the French.

Once the grass season comes around, THEN I can go back to praying (in vain) for Roddick to take out Federer.

It would be hilarious if it were to happen here in Madrid, though. I can just see Andy's presser now: "all this time, the key to beating Roger wasn't a better backhand, better volleying, better movement, or anything else...it was clay!"

Posted by tennisconnected 05/11/2009 at 03:05 PM

I will also be at the event all week. If anyone wants to catch some more insight.

Posted by sukhi 05/11/2009 at 03:07 PM

If the pattern persists...Fed is getting better with every tournament...So Finals loss here and a Finals wins in RG ..that will be something.

In Miami and Rome he gave away the games. In Rome he looked better game wise and serve wise (well not upto his standards) but still.

I think he has a very good chance of making the Finals here and if he does, I think that will give him enough confidence to make it to the Finals in RG. Also keep in mind its 5 setters in RG and that is always advantage Fed, atleast until the semi's.

Posted by lilscot 05/11/2009 at 03:16 PM

frances: 2:45 p.m.

He says he doesn't care about #2 but I don't believe that for a second. We're talking about one of the GOATS who is still just barely off his pedestal. HE CARES. I think if he were to fall to #3 it would be devastating to him. He can handle, barely, holding the second-banana spot to Rafa because of the mutual respect they have for each other and the history they share together. But to be behind someone else other than Rafa is unacceptable to him at the moment for sure. For sure, future tennis historians will never be able to talk about one of their careers without having to mention the others. They are forever joined that way.

He has to keep his #2 spot if he has any chance of getting back to #1.

I'm just sayin'...

Posted by imjimmy 05/11/2009 at 03:17 PM

"all this time, the key to beating Roger wasn't a better backhand, better volleying, better movement, or anything else...it was clay!"
Nicely put :)

""Like hesjimmy said, """
Kofi :)

""imjimmy: I actually think most of the guys, except Roger, are playing way better this year than last and I believe that's thanks to Rafa""
Lilscot: Welcome to TW, and plz remain de-lurked. Reg. your comment, I was actually referring to fed and Nole mostly. And I think Nole's not playing well enough. I believe Nole of Hamburg 08 would have had a better shot at MC F 09. But anyway, that's subjective so..

""I will also be at the event all week. If anyone wants to catch some more insight."""
TennisConnected: Thanks! Would love to hear your take.

""Ok. Now I need to get off these message boards and write some cover letters or I'll never get a job""
Amen to that!

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 03:17 PM


Sukhi- I believe TMF is 13-12 (or 11) in 5 setters -that’s win-loss by order.
Can someone help me how accurate my stats are?- I seem to remember this stat as they showed it during the AO '09 finals? If I', totally off then sorry in advance:P

And so for Finals five setters in a Grand Slam- Federer is 1-2. He won the five setter against Nadal at Wimbledon '07, and he lost 2 against Nadal at Wimbledon '08 and AO '09)

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 03:30 PM


Lilscot- I agree. To be honest, I find it very hard nowadays to coo-relate his responses on his level of play. He's oozing confidence during press conference before used to be an affirmation of his dominance. Some pundits before would at times attack his air of 'arrogance' but his racket just simply does the work to shut them off. Nowadays- I'm sorry to say this but it is just laughable:(And yes- I do believe that if he will lose his no.2 ranking- it will just get worse. Fact is I think Federer has accepted Nadal as his main rival. Nadal earned Federer's respect over the years. I am not sure that Federer is ready for Murray or Djokovic to join the wagon.


Posted by Sandra 05/11/2009 at 03:49 PM

This weekend I went back and watched my DVD's of 2008 Monte Carlo, Barcelona and French Open. Nadal was not vintage Nadal at either Monte Carlo or Barcelona (Jason Goodall and Robbie Koenig kept commenting on the "uncharacteristic" UFE's and losses of concentration by Nadal). It was not until the semi-finals and finals at the French Open that we saw vintage Nadal on clay. So, while I agree that we haven't yet seen Nadal's best tennis on clay, this was also the case last year. And I also remember at the 2007 Barcelona tournament, Toni Nadal and the Nadal camp being quoted as expressing concern that Nadal wasn't then playing at the prior year's level either. So if history repeats itself, Nadal should be good-to-go for the 2009 French Open.

Posted by steve thompson 05/11/2009 at 04:02 PM

Steve,

Is this your way of surging Roger on? Just write the guy a "open letter" like Chris did to Serena! Andy over Roger on clay come on.

Posted by Tfactor 05/11/2009 at 04:12 PM

Sandra,
I am so glad you bring this up too. I have been saying Rafa didn't play so great last year either. I think what happens is that what most people remember is the FO final which was, well, so convincing :)
Also, I do see a pattern of shorter matches by Rafa. I have been compiling total times from last year and this year. If he has not been playing at his best, it seems to me that if anything he has been more effective than last year in terms of the time spent on court versus win ratio.

Posted by Master Ace 05/11/2009 at 04:19 PM

Steve,
The WTA field is a 60 person field. Only players that received byes were the players that made the semifinals at Rome.

Posted by Tfactor 05/11/2009 at 04:22 PM

On the WTA side. I like your predictions Steve mainly because I like all your quaterfinals. I would love to see Safina win the whole thing, but I find predicting anything on the WTA these days is a scary proposition.

Posted by lilscot 05/11/2009 at 04:26 PM

imjimmy: 3:17 p.m.

Hey jimmy! Absolutely agree about Nole and Fed. Things are getting vewwy intewesting...

Posted by Stribs 05/11/2009 at 04:33 PM

Good discussions going on here, actually sticks to the topic (besides the office side plot which I agree is an amazing show)

My picks for tomorrows matches....

SAFINA v ni
VERDASCO v juan carlo ferrero
BLAKE v hanescu (my biggest worry)
V WILIIAMS v kleybanova

Have a nice bit of money on these matchs... Blake is my real worry really, but I think hes been in good form and should take it.

Posted by Ben 05/11/2009 at 04:39 PM

You have got to be kidding. Forget for a moment you said Roddick over Federer (on clay no less), how about Roddick over ANYBODY on clay? He doesn't beat the local teaching pro on clay much less a tour pro. Horrible projections in the bottom qtr of the draw. The rest appear to be legitimate selections.
Please spare us and get off the Roddick bandwagon though. American tennis will not flourish in the mud any time in the near future. Perhaps a young up and comer can arise and change our fate as Agassi did about 10 yrs ago.

Posted by Master Ace 05/11/2009 at 04:44 PM

Stribs,
Safina/Li is not scheduled for tomorrow per order of play.

Posted by Donald 05/11/2009 at 04:47 PM

Wow! If your point was to get people talking, you succeeded. But, Roddick will not beat Federer. Fed is 18-2 against Roddick. Roddick is beaten before they ever play. And Fed has been playing clay already and improving his results with every tourney. Roddick hasn't been. While Roddick may not be as bad as some say on clay, Fed is great on it. He has been to the French finals 4 times and, had he not been facing the greatest clay courter ever, would have 2 or more titles there already. Let's not forget that he is one of only 3 players to have beaten Nadal on clay ever. You may say "so what" to these historical results and want to base your thinking on recent events. If so, what has Roddick done recently to say he has improved on clay or shaken the Fed demon in his head? Nothing. So, if one is consistent and looks at the entire body of work or just recent experience, both favor Fed more than Roddick. Picking against Fed is popular right now but let's not check our brains at the door. For as many reasons as you could give me that Fed is vulnerable, there are many more reasons (recent and historical) that Roddick would be vulnerable.

Posted by Sandra 05/11/2009 at 04:53 PM

Tfactor: agreed that Rafa's "improved" style of play has resulted not only in shorter match times, but also garnered better results on faster surfaces. I expect to see him grow into this new style of play more and more. This weekend I also watched DVD's of some of his earlier matches (2004 and 2005) - what a difference between the pure grinder of those early years (he tried to play on hard court the same way he played on clay) and the Nadal of today! When Rafa says his goal is to improve, he really does mean it.

Posted by Jacko (Private Detective) Missing FED CUPness!!! . . . SMILEY JJ!!!! :) 05/11/2009 at 05:03 PM

Steve.....agree on the Dina JJ Semi........think Demmy will beat Vika though....but cudnt pick a final....as its unpredictable WTA!!!!LOL.....i wud love my Hot Mess JJ to win though!!!!LOL
i think the Muzzard cud be the upset of the top 4 on the ATP.......i hav Stan my Puppy in the semis in my bracket (a boy can dream!!LOL).......and Fed in the Final.......but i'm not exactly an ATP expert!!!!LOL

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 05:10 PM

Sandra - i want to add a phrase or two on your previous post if you dont mind:P

"So if history repeats itself, Nadal should be good-to-go for the 2009 French Open....Wibledon '09 and Beyond!!!"

Posted by Sandra 05/11/2009 at 05:19 PM

Frances: I like your style!

Posted by Mary 05/11/2009 at 05:25 PM

I'd just like to see Andy R win Haas 1st & it's good he's back,missed him.I hope Andy can make a decent run here & at RG.He's been working hard on the track alot to improve his fitness & his weight loss should help too.He had a good run in Rome making the semi's before his injury.Hope the altitude can help him in Madrid,good luck Andy.

Posted by lilscot 05/11/2009 at 05:31 PM

frances: 5:10 p.m.

Ditto to what Sandra said. I feel this is going to be Rafa's big year. He's going to have many more great years but all the great champions have that one year that other players can only dream about. Roger had a couple of those, winning three slams in one year and was on top of the wave. I see this happening for Rafa this year. I really do believe he's going all the way. I know I'm biased for sure, but just watching the field so closely this past few months, it is hard to see him slowing down anytime soon.

An interesting thing I noticed, maybe it was just me, but I see the other top guys like Murrary, Nole, Verdasco, etc., starting to try different tactics against Rafa with some success. The really cool thing is that no sooner have they taken a set or pushed him to a tie-breaker with these new approaches Rafa suddenly turns around and adapts to their changes. It's like, just when you get a game going against him that works he figures it out. Is unbelievable no?

Vamos!

Posted by Ed teach 05/11/2009 at 05:31 PM

Actually Murray told the Daily Record that he would be number one by the end of the year. So yeah, he lied and is thinking about rankings.

Posted by imjimmy 05/11/2009 at 05:32 PM

Tfactor and Sandra: Rafa was making fewer UFE's last year. While his Rome,MC 08 form might not be all that good, he did play some scintillating matches in Hamburg 08. Of course that could also be because Fed and Nole were playing (and moving) much better.

I agree about less time spend on court@clay 09. That's incredible, because he's not serving well and the winner/UFE ratio's not been impressive in his recent matches.

On another note: I can't believe Steve picked Roddick over Federer. I can understand Muzzah over Federer. But Roddick?? Especially after he's been out of action for a while...and on clay..Seriously?

Posted by Barbado 05/11/2009 at 05:34 PM

Come on JJ...win this one

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 05:41 PM

Imjimmy! Long time no chat- rafa is improving on serve!! U know I will never let that go:P(wink)!!!
And as for Fed- maybe steve is implying that roddick may not even face federer because be myt be upset earlier.. gee I find it very awkward just by stating that out loud- sorry to all fed fans in advance.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/11/2009 at 05:41 PM

Steve Thanks for your predications.

This surface will provide us with some shock results I feel.

Anyone with say a good kicker serve will have good results also so far we are seeing the balls seem to fly without controlled feel on the ball.Also top spin will be a advantage here.The flat hitters of the ball beware.

I concur I see Rafa winnning here.He has played in these conditions before and won.

I also feel Safina has turned the corner and I feel the conditions here will assit her.

Posted by Ko Jagiri 05/11/2009 at 05:49 PM

I just read Federer said that he can beat Nadal on clay. I wonder why he has not beaten him on clay this year. Well I know why. He got knocked out at Monte Carlo and Rome before facing Nadal.
Mr Federer, first reach the finals and then talk about beating Nadal. One more thing; so long as you choose to work without a coach you will never be number 1 again.

Posted by Ivo 05/11/2009 at 05:55 PM

SOME THOUGHTS on ROGER'S COMMENTS:

As someone who's followed his career for a long time I have to say I am more puzzled about who Roger Federer is now than ever before. Is he, after all, a total snob and a conceited prima-dona from Switzerland? Given his great demenure during the past few years my mind just refuses to accept such a judgment. But then again, there's another thought that creeps into my mind: first, it's always easier to look great when you're the "superman", when everything works your way....little mishaps here or there, little snotty comments here or there...everything is forgiven in this stage..all we are able to see are the positives in such a person - the greatness. And if he says something bad about other players here or there, or something which to some degree contradicts common sense (like his early comments about Nadal or Murray and their game). Well we tend to interpret those as some "heavenly wisdom" rather than as comments that one needs to examine critically. For we don't take such comments on the face of them, but only through the prism of champion's talk. It's a typical and delusional adulation of the best players on the side of the fans. And many of us are doing this with Rafael Nadal too (or his uncle Toni..the mysterious and cool coach). But one's character is really tested (and is revealed) when things go wrong, when they are shitty. And what I am seeing from Roger Federer these days...boy I can't help but think: was I also in a state of a fan's delusional mind when I thought that this guy was so modest, so down-to-earth, so cool....how come I didn't realize that Federer, after all, was just as conceited and crazy as all his "top" predecessors. And these days, listening to his comments about Rafael having a psychological advantage over Federer by beating him prior to RG is just one of the comments that make me doubt and think: who is really Roger Federer? For clearly, before his ass got spanked on clay he defeated Nadal on clay in Hamburg (the only time he did so). So it's not just that Roger's comment seems totally out of odds with what's happening to him and his competitors this season (and to his rivalry with Nadal overall)but even more tellingly, it's factually wrong. And Federer usually gets the facts right.
So I tend to think: oh now, RF is just saying it for the media...he can't be really believing any of the comments he's making but he knows this is the best way how to handle media, and his opponents. But then this would again point to something about him and his public persona which I don't like to see: the fact that on many levels he fakes things. And honestly, I've been having a feeling now for a while that Federer has been making up stories, exaggerating some and downplaying others in an intentional almost programed way...his story about mono, his back issues...all that becomes some public and typically repeated script by him...a strategic fakness?
To be honest, I have a feeling that I don't know understand this guy at all these days and the signals were are getting from him are truly bizarre: there's no consistency in his game, his public statements and his results. I mean they are all consistent in their own right but they are totally at odds with each other.
and I am only puzzled about who Roger Federer really is or how to understand him.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/11/2009 at 05:58 PM

If anyone remembers Roger came out last year in the press and said he had founn a way to beat Rafa at RG just before the tournament started

Yes Roger indeed you found a way to beat Rafa?

Nadal defeated Federer 6-1,6-3,6-0.

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 06:00 PM

Lilscot- Yes!! the tiebreak with Murray at Monte Carlo was a perfect example! When Rafa failed to close that set and got broken, I could sense Murray's confidence surging high as Rafa was missing simple crosscourt winners; but I remembered observing rafa's behavior keenly at that time. He looked like he accepted his mistakes (credit to Murray he was playing smart tennis backed-up with his talent) and instead of getting frustrated he look like he was was very focus on that tie-break. I'm not so sure if it's just me but I could sense especially on his 2nd Match Point (tiebreak was 6-4 with Andy serving) that he was going to win that play just by looking at him--I always noticed that look in his face- the look like as if nobody is around and all his energy is just drawn to that ball at that very moment!!! I just love that look!!!

This spring clay court season so far has got me to thinking- rafa not playing vintage rafa manage to win 3 consecutive titles without burning so much fuel- and if sandra's predictions (I also share it:)) are right- nadal at it's peak will be another milestone to defeat if that will happen RG '09 and beyond!!!

Posted by Lynne Danley 05/11/2009 at 06:09 PM

I can't stand Djokovic, but I am impressed by how well he is playing on clay. And he is really motivated to get his #3 back. Rafa seems out of sorts. Roger is accustomed to heights and seems to have been working hard. Murray is not the world's greatest clay court player but he's the best there is at dismantling the game of his opponent. But I think it's not quite his time on clay yet. So.....

Semi-finals: Djoker d. Nadal in 2; Fed d. Murray in 3
Final: Very hard to call, but I am going to go WAY out on a limb and pick Federer to win in 3.

Hopefully it's not just wishful thinking, but I think if Rafa is eliminated before the final it will spark something in Fed.

I'll pick Svetlana Kuznetsova to win the women's side. She has really found a kind of "zen" that is making her more and more dangerous.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/11/2009 at 06:10 PM

Well Rafa to me is just pacing himself nicely I might add.

Gee he hasnt being pushed at all to use his A game on the clay

I think Rafa has been playing well enough to win

Gee winning all clay tournaments so far? not bad indeed.

He dosent need to come out in every game and play lights out tennis? he is a player that needs rhythm in his game.

So at any tournament he Feels his way.When he gets the feel and touch as we have seen recently he dosent do too bad does he?

Posted by frances 05/11/2009 at 06:14 PM

AM!! morning- what time is it in Australia anyway? gee i always see you here-- all day long!!! :P

Posted by imjimmy 05/11/2009 at 06:15 PM

""Imjimmy! Long time no chat- rafa is improving on serve!! U know I will never let that
go:P(wink)!!!""

Frances: Hey! I bet you have Rafa's 1st serve stats of all his matches on clay this year :)
Nice post@6:00 PM : I think that the MC 09 SF was very close. Which is why I want a Rafa-Muzzah final in Madrid.

Ivo: Thanks for your thoughts@ 5:55 PM. Let's not write Federer off. I don't see him loosing here before the SF (at the very least). Also, I wouldn't read too much into his press comments. I think it's more a case of playing up his chances just because he does not want the media to get into his head and wants to avoid a spiral of negativity. So it's a way to urge himself on(hopefully).

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/11/2009 at 06:17 PM

Frances Ha.Ha. its 8.15am here.gee I went to bed at midnight

I have had enough sleep.Also I am used to staying up all night

I have worked night shift at hosiptal most of my working life

Yeah I am a night owl? lol!

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