Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - We Saw, No?
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We Saw, No? 09/14/2010 - 12:41 AM

Rn We’ve heard for years that the French Open is the toughest tournament to win. But what about the U.S. Open? It’s not on clay, it doesn’t require as many hours of work, but it does require that you play in two entirely different sets of conditions in each week, from the stiflingly humid to the chillingly blustery. Even Rafael Nadal, playing some of the best tennis of his career, dropped a set along the way. No shame in that: The last time a man won it without losing one was 50 years ago. Let's see how Nadal, and everyone else, fared over two tough weeks in 2010.

Rafael Nadal

In the next couple of days, you’ll hear a lot about Nadal’s heart and legs and cussed competitive spirit. You’ll hear even more about whether he can become the greatest of all time someday. But since I’m writing this a few minutes after watching his arduous, rain-delayed win in the U.S. Open final, I’ll let those topics go for the moment and talk about of a few other elements that made this performance a special one. It’s not hard to find them: Nadal’s wins are always in the details.

***

I watched the first few games on my press-room monitor before heading onto the court. Only there could I get an idea of what Novak Djokovic had to do to make any headway against Nadal’s shots. Even on routine balls, Djokovic was jumping, and grunting, and putting every ounce of energy he had at that moment into the ball. And then he was doing it all over again.

***

You know that phrase, “Make the other guy hit a volley”? It’s rarely heeded, even by the pros; it’s so much more fun to go for an outright passing shot winner. And no one hits those better than Nadal, especially tonight. But he also had the discipline, when the outright pass wasn’t there, to flip his running backhand crosscourt up over the net and at Djokovic’s feet, and let him deal with the volley. Djokovic, to his credit, handled these tricky shots well, but the tactic paid off for Nadal in the nervous final game. There, Djokovic hit a drop shot and followed it in. On the dead run forward, Nadal, instead of trying to rip the ball past him, went to the safe backhand flip again. It was just enough to get Djokovic out of position and set up an easy volley on the next shot.

***

As he did at Wimbledon, Nadal got tight after winning the first set. Djokovic started to dictate down the line and went up 4-1. Nadal bottomed out during the first point of the next game, when he hit a very uncomfortable-looking forehand long. But this is where the confidence that Nadal has built this season kicked in—even at 1-4, nervous and playing poorly, that core confidence was strong enough to generate its own momentum seemingly out of nowhere.

From 0-15 down, Nadal was a new player. He shrugged off everything that had happened in the second set to that point, began to hit with more depth, and carved up a neat drop volley to hold. On the first point of the next game, he tried an entirely new tactic, sliding a low forehand return down the line and following it up with a looped backhand deep and crosscourt. He won that point and broke serve. Nadal’s confidence, as I’ve said before, is tied up not with his timing or his ball-striking as much as it is with his intelligence. It’s often said that athletes shouldn’t think when they’re on the court. Nadal proves that cliché wrong.

***

In the third, it looked like Nadal was going to leave Djokovic behind. His shots had more weight than they’d had all tournament. But he couldn’t shake the Serb, who saved innumerable break points with lightning-strike forehands. When Djokovic saved a few more to make it 4-5, the crowd stood, pushing for him—New York loves a doomed battler. Nadal suddenly looked pretty lonely standing at the baseline to serve. He played two tight points to go down 15-30. If he lost this game, you could sense that the whole match might go with it. The dark-suited Serb fans in the section next to mine were on their feet, in full bellow. Nadal hit a service winner. He hit an ace. He hit another service winner for the set. Djokovic’s fans sat down. Afterward, Nadal seemed as happy and surprised by those three serves as he was his victory. “I have something happen that never happen before,” he said, “and believe me it was nice.”

We’ve heard about Nadal’s new serve, of course, but it wasn’t only the bomb that got him out of trouble tonight. It was just an additional weapon among many. He won tonight with 115 m.p.h. body serves, 105 m.p.h. serves out wide, 125 m.p.h serves up the middle. He only out-thought himself once, at set point for Djokovic in the second. Instead of the wide one, he went to the body, and Djokovic timed it for a perfect return and the set. That lost point was notable mainly because it happens so seldomly to him.

Nadal owns the career Slam, a stunning achievement at 24, and a ground-breaking one for Spanish tennis—there’s no precedent for him. He also has a couple of Davis Cups, an Olympic gold, and umpteen Masters titles. This was his most masterful and complete performance yet; as Djokovic said afterward with a laugh, the frustrating thing for Nadal’s opponents is that he's getting better. Can he become the best ever? Nobody can say. “We gonna see, no?” is how Rafa might answer the question. We gonna see more of Rafa. For tennis fans, that’s the best part of the story. A+

Kim Clijsters

It should be said: No Serena, no Justine. But from 5-4 up in the third against Venus Williams, Kim showed us everything she has. She shook off all of her considerable nerves, as well as a horrible attempt to hold two games earlier, and played what may have been the finest finishing game she’s ever played in a match of this magnitude and against a player of Venus’s stature. Then Kim went out and did it for two sets in the final, in a match where it didn’t appear she could miss if she'd tried. I’d like to think that match-winning hold against Venus might be a career-changer, but it’s probably too late for that for Kim. She’ll keep rushing when she gets nervous, she’ll keep throwing in clunker matches at unexpected moments, and on her best days she’ll keep giving us the finest combination of ball-striking and athleticism of any player today. A+

Novak Djokovic

From the first point, his quest to win against Nadal felt valiant and tragic. He won the first point after a barn-burning rally, and then came up limping. Djokovic brought everything he had over and over, lifting himself off the court to hit each ball, while at the same time acting like he didn’t quite believe it was going to work in the end. He was right, but he did everything he could to make sure.

It’s hard to remember now, but Djokovic was hardly considered a threat at the start of this tournament, and in the first round he was down two sets to one and a break in the fourth. He looked more likely to end up in an ambulance than holding the runner-up trophy two weeks later. But Djokovic returned to his finest form, his hungry form of three years ago, against Federer and Nadal. He surprised all of us by derailing the Federer-Nadal express and eventually giving us a final worthy of the one we had hoped to see. But my favorite Djokovic moment came in the trophy ceremony. He congratulated Rafa, thanked the crowd, and told his coach he missed him, all with the open-hearted honesty that makes him such a valuable—necessary—part of the emotional fabric of tennis today. Good to have you back, Novak. Don’t go anywhere. A

Novak Djokovic’s father’s shirt

Why not? Why not wear his first-born's face plastered across him? His first-born gave us more to watch over the course of the last two weeks than any other player. A

Pam Shriver

She’s not the smoothest sideline reporter, but how many other former Grand Slam finalists are willing to schlep around Flushing Meadows all day to track down interviews? It’s not often that we get to hear from Uncle Toni on the sidelines, but Shriver got him. A-

Vera Zvonareva

It would be nice to give her the benefit of the doubt, to offer some sympathy. And judging by many of the recent women’s finals here, it’s not easy to go out and play the Saturday night match for the first time. But after Zvonareva’s smart and patient dismantling of Wozniacki in the semis, it was a disappointment to say the least. All the old nerves and instability which she seemed to have banished came rushing back to the surface. Clijsters can’t play much better than she did in the final, but after this it’s hard to imagine Zvonareva taking the next step. B+

Caroline Wozniacki

She didn’t make it as far as she did last year, and she didn’t live up to her top seeding, but this was still a step forward. When Wozniacki won, she won convincingly, and her straight-setter over Maria Sharapova was an impressive display of control and opportunism. The trouble is, when a crack develops in the wallboard, as it did against Zvonareva in the semis, there’s not a whole lot that Wozniacki can do about it. Wallboards are solid and hard to move, but they’re not known for their flexibility. B+

Roger Federer

Federer looked like the player to beat through the first week, and he put on a dominating performance against Robin Soderling. Aside from his serve, he didn’t have a terrible day against Djokovic in the semis, but he can thank his reputation for helping him get as far as he did. Djokovic, who was up a break in the first set and narrowly lost the third, said afterward that Federer feeds off his opponents’ nerves. While Djokovic gave him plenty to feed off near the end, for the third time this year Federer couldn’t cross a match-point finish line. As he said afterward, the fact that this keeps happening could be bad luck, or good play by his opponent. This time it was clearly good play by his opponent; Djokovic said he “closed his eyes” and went big on the two match points, and there was nothing Federer could do about it. Yes, he served poorly overall, and yes, he missed some forehands at the end, but if there was a sign of decline for Federer in this match, it was equally a sign of incline for his opponent: In the fifth set, on the final weekend of a Grand Slam, a player was good enough to beat Federer when Federer was pretty darn good. That hasn’t happened all that many times in the past. B+

Venus Williams

This was a tough one, and maybe her last best chance at the Open. She began with an imperious display on her serve and forehand in the first set against Kim Clijsters, and then, just when Kim was ready to give her the second, Venus couldn’t find the court in the tiebreaker. However well, however confidently, she seems to be playing, it always slips away from Venus here. The fact that, as usual, it happened against the eventual champion won’t be any consolation for this proud player who believes she should win every match she plays. Maybe she should blame it on her dad. When Venus evened the second set at 6-6, Richard Williams suddenly popped up from his seat in the second row on her side—he was nowhere near the player’s box—and began to shout in her direction. I’m not sure even Venus knew he’d been sitting there. She barely won another point in the breaker. Before it was over, Richard was gone. B+

Stanislas Wawrinka

He’ll never be a dynamo or a crowd-pleaser, but at least his new coach, the bellower-in-black Peter Lundgren, had him using everything he’s got in this tournament. And while he blew a spot in the semifinals at the last second, it may have been the best sustained performance of his career. The first question for us now is: Are we ready for more Wawrinka? The second question: Are we ready for more of those guys in his player’s box? B+

Sam Stosur

She beat Dementieva in one of the better matches of the tournament, then faltered against Clijsters in the quarters. She struggled with her serve at times, and never matched her form from the spring. Net loss or net gain? Big picture, it’s as far as she’s ever gone here. Small picture, she couldn’t sustain her best when she had a shot at going even farther. B

Francesca Schiavone

After a tough couple of post-French Open months, it was nice to have her back and nipping at her opponent’s heels, pit-bull style. She was just hopelessly overmatched against Venus in the quarters. B

Fernando Verdasco

He looked like he didn’t believe against Nadal in the quarters. And why should he? He played the match of his life in Australia last year and couldn’t beat him. But before he went out, Verdasco did give us one of the great moments of the tournament: his scrambling, hooking forehand to win a fifth-set tiebreaker over David Ferrer, complete with celebratory fall to the court. B

Maria Sharapova

She’s only 23, but after this tournament, the question can be asked: Will she ever win another major? On this evidence, I’d say no. Too many things can go wrong with her game now, from the service toss to the most routine forehand. She’s always played on the risky edge, but no one gets more accurate as they get older. C+

Andy Murray

We’ve always asked when he’ll get more aggressive, when he’ll find a way to make use of his various talents. Maybe it’s time to ask whether he can change at all. When he tried to create against Wawrinka, he was clearly out of his comfort zone. And when he fell behind, his answer was to hit . . . drop shots. C+

Andy Roddick

His all-time high came here seven years ago, which only made this one seem one lower on the career scale. Roddick lost early, he lost a match he would and should normally win, and he lost his cool in embarrassing a tongue-tied lineswoman. Granted, Roddick came here on the heels of an illness, but it’s his attacking game that could use a cure. As with the other Andy, the patient style that worked at the Masters events wasn’t enough to get it done at the Slams. C

Gael Monfils

Conclusive proof that tennis is not, and should never be, entertainment and entertainment alone. It's no fun like that. C

The Fight Guy

Welcome back, New York tennis. We missed you. D


 
135
Comments
 
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Posted by Alexa 09/14/2010 at 06:09 PM

Thanks for giving Nole an out and out compliment instead of a backhanded one. Really like that kid. He's got class.

Posted by Corrie 09/14/2010 at 06:35 PM

"MEN's TENNIS - A+
When I see players like Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and the many other amazing tennis players who not only display such amazing athletic tennis skill but also such quality role model characteristics, it makes me humbled to call myself a tennis player. I can only try to live up to the model of excellence in human behavior that they display.

To be specific:
Nadal's humble and respectful attitude after winning the US Open and commenting on Djokovic's role model behavior! Not to mention his super human athletic skills.
Djokovic's endearing comments at the match end and how close he is to his "family" and his appreciation of the fans! Not to mention a missile launching backhand and forehand!
Federer's amazing patience with all the ridicules media questions in his post match interview. He demonstrates that patience on and off court. Not to mention he is considered in most tennis conversations re GOAT!
What an amazing trio of valiant and noble court warriors!

Yes I'm glad to be a tennis player! "


I just wanted to repeat this post because it's so good. It's possible to like and admire all three of these players, just as they get on so well themselves with each other. Whereas some fans are so petty and one eyed and vitriolic in dissing whoever is not their favourite!

And by the way, I'm sure if Fed had lost in the final he would have been perfectly gracious and not have cried. He did that once in a very difficult loss, under very particular circumstances and certainly didn't do it out of choice.
Djokovic has come on in leaps and bounds in all respects and is a terrific addition at the top.
The only major drawback in the top players is Murray's petulant losses in the majors this year.

GOAT discussions are absurd in the short term. True perspective is only gained when a player's career is ended. But we can certainly say that this is an exceptional era with two undoubted all time great players who are great guys as well. A definite A+ to men's tennis. When things inevitably change in the future we might then appreciate better just how fantastic this era is.

The situation in US TV coverage sound extremely damaging to the future of tennis in the US. Why on earth does the USTA allow this to continue? They should look at the excellent coverage in other countries. Here in Australia we have one sports channel that virtually devotes itself full time to tennis when the majors are on and thoroughly covers all the Masters 1000s as well.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 09/14/2010 at 06:49 PM

At this point the only possible conclusion, as far as I can tell, is that Federer and Nadal continue to polish each other's reputation at this point.

If you don't know what I mean, think of it this way, if they each end up with 17 slams, let's posit (not that Nadal needs to get there for this comparison to be valid, of course), this: I say it will be blatantly obvious ten years after they are retired that due to the age difference two spectacular careers overlapped, and that any of us who saw it happen live were incredibly lucky.

That is all there is to say.

Posted by dr no 09/14/2010 at 07:28 PM

a plus,rafas draw.. f, for his drug use, test this guy please>>test them all........

Posted by dr no 09/14/2010 at 07:30 PM

youzny in semi,s give novak a break,what a joke...lol punning//

Posted by Ryota 09/14/2010 at 08:38 PM

Why does Del Potro have to be included in this discussion at all? He beat an injured Nadal (abdominal tear) and now when he returns, he's automatically going to streamroll everyone and win all the slams out there. Um, yeah.

Congrats to the Nadal fans! I thought 2009 was historic (because of Federer's achievements) but 2010 proved to be even better. Now, I cannot wait for AO 2011!

I am SUPER glad that Djokovic has found his mojo again. He matches up well against Nadal and Federer. Ajde Nole! Let's get that 2nd slam in 2011!

Federer will always be in the mix. Are his winning days over? Maybe, maybe not. I just don't want him to be a sad and bitter version of himself in 2011.

Murray? Back to the drawing board. I was personally waiting for him to hire Lundgren but Wawrinka beat him to that.

Posted by pov 09/14/2010 at 08:58 PM

Tignor,
It seems you only become really ridiculous when you're commenting about Sharapova. I mean *really* ridiculous. Beyond inane. I wonder why that it is.

"No one gets more accurate as they get older" What? At age 23? That is one of the most idiotic things I've read anywhere, in any context. In fact both US Open singles winners are more accurate and serving better than they did at 23.

It's fine to not like any player but just own that dislike and stop pretending (to yourself?) that you're giving them an objective review.

Posted by kym 09/14/2010 at 09:20 PM

When Rafa won Roland-Garros, I wrote a poem to congratulate him and posted it on this website. When he won Wimbledon, I intended to write another poem to congratulate him and post it on this website. But I saw the way he served and won over Andy Murray and Tomas Berdyck, I knew he would win in New York. So I wait until last Monday to write this poem and post it below. Rafael Nadal is my tennis champ. More than that he is the people's champ. Here is the poem. Enjoy it Rafafans!

We are one billion Rafafans.
Thank you Rafael Nadal
For winning the US Open 2010
And making a career grand slam.

Now the critics have to shut up,
And the tennis pundits all agree:
You are the best or among the best of
Tennis players in human history.

In Roger Federer's camp, the little rogerlings
Start to panic and feel the earth's shaking.
Because the record of 16 grand slams
Can be shattered by Rafael Nadal.

With one billion Rafafans,
You deserve the title: the people's champ.
Please take a good care of your health and your knees.
Because these are now people's properties.

Also be good to stay in the people's hearts.
And don't fall morally like other celebrity scraps.

Posted by JayZee 09/14/2010 at 09:36 PM

What about Youzhney? I think he deserve an A_

Posted by JayZee 09/14/2010 at 09:55 PM

Live Streaming by IBM/Akami - A++!!

Posted by HONESTitwasout 09/14/2010 at 11:17 PM

Let's trade Pam Shriver and Fowler for a Tennis TV Sportscaster

Posted by susan 09/15/2010 at 12:50 AM

@weak40player

novak in an interview defended the t-shirt.

he said that his dad was a proud father,he's my father, and that if he wanted to wear that, it was perfectly ok (i can't remember the exact words).

He then went on to joke that he wouldn't wear it because "i don't like myself that much." That line I do remember.

Posted by Ian 09/15/2010 at 01:01 AM

This whole situation was outrageous.

The men's final broadcast on TV reminded me of that old Life commercial with the kid named Mike: Let's give the US Open Final to ESPN2, or ESPN Classic, or Tennis Channel. [fill in the blank] they will [eat] show anything. Is our home country's grand slam so undesirable that the TV networks have to pass the final around like some unwanted stepchild? And ESPN2 would have moved it to ESPN Classic because of the Chargers/Chiefs game. CBS needs to commit to tennis or not carry it at all. The scheduling fiasco should have been handled better since rain was forecast. Maybe Tennis Channel can replay the final with the McEnroe commentary. He's the best.

Next year, I'll plan on taking the day off from work to watch the final in case I need to change channels since apparently you can't trust CBS to air the whole thing.

Howard Beal, where are you when us tennis fans need you?

FYI: In 2008, the local CBS affiliate here in San Diego didn't broadcast the rain-delayed final at all, so at least it was on TV this year.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/15/2010 at 03:35 AM

Steve Many thanks for this post.

A day after Rafa winning the USO and achieving his career slam I am coming to terms with it more.

Rafa's serve to me was a important factor at the USO.To think he made the final in straight set and losing his serve twice was just amazing.

I also agree with your thoughts in the final he was picking his spots.The body serve into Noles f/hand causing him off balance was good thinking.His use of the kicker out wide again won free easy points.His 3 aces in a row in the final set? like was this Rafa Nadal lol!

Rafa has a good tennis mind and moves his opponent around the court and then pulls the trigger.His awareness on the faster hard court was a improvement during the whole tournament.

At just 24 years of age and to complete a career slam in ways still blows my mind.

Though I am certain I can live with it.

Posted by Kombo (GOATarded) 09/15/2010 at 07:51 AM

Ryota - "Why does Del Potro have to be included in this discussion at all? He beat an injured Nadal (abdominal tear) and now when he returns, he's automatically going to streamroll everyone and win all the slams out there. Um, yeah."

He beat Rafa two times before that as well. I guess Rafa is always injured when he loses.

Posted by 1963USCtennis 09/15/2010 at 08:44 AM

Here is the record

Rafael Nadal 4 Juan Martin Del Potro 3

2009 US Open NY, U.S.A. Hard S Del Potro, Juan Martin
6-2, 6-2, 6-2
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Canada Hard Q Del Potro, Juan Martin
7-6(5), 6-1 Stats
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami Hard Q Del Potro, Juan Martin
6-4, 3-6, 7-6(3) Stats
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells Hard Q Nadal, Rafael
6-2, 6-4 Stats
2007 London / Queen's Club Grass R32 Nadal, Rafael
6-4, 6-4 Stats
2007 Roland Garros Clay R128 Nadal, Rafael
7-5, 6-3, 6-2 Stats
2007 ATP Masters Series Miami Hard R16 Nadal, Rafael
6-0, 6-4 Stats

So Del Potro did beat him three times in 2009 during a period when Rafael Nadal droped below #1 in what most people with a rational mind believe to be a period of injury to his knees.

Unlike many who were soooo nervous before the US Open I had him as the favorite; I am also quite sure that if Del Potro had been there and faced Rafa that Rafa would have conquered him, Nadal of 2010 is a quite different player than Nadal 2009 post AO.

I hope that DelPotro recovers and regains his form so we can eventually see another clash of the two at Flushing Meadows.

But if I were to put my money on the outcome... I would go with Nadal.

Posted by Mr Rick 09/15/2010 at 02:57 PM

Thanks Steve!

Wow, as a Rafa fan, this has all been quite overwhelming. I was able to attend the final match - the rain and the poor scheduling made for some miserable moments - but it all turned out at the end and I could watch that match over and over again...

I would also give an A to the people of NYC. I am always shocked at how nice and forebearing they are.

Posted by rini6 09/15/2010 at 05:10 PM

I have been pulling for Nadal for the past year or two. He brought me back to tennis after a two decade, or so, hiatus. Initially, I just loved looking at him. Then I began to realize what an amazing talent he was. Now I am realizing that he is brilliant and on top of that, a mensch. I am so glad that he is healthy this year and that he is realizing his potential.

What an exciting tournament the Open was this year.

Posted by Mike 09/15/2010 at 06:15 PM

It's a shame that fans can't celebrate Rafa's wins and milestones without a few over the top KADs bashing his opponents. I do believe Rafa is on top of the game right now thanks to his accomplishments, not your bias.

Posted by FED FRED 09/15/2010 at 08:25 PM

Didi,

Do us all a favor with your stupid stats
that have nothing to do with ability....can them..

Drink your own poison hater aide...
Rafa is King.

Now crawl back in your worm hole.

Posted by The Fan Child 09/16/2010 at 01:25 AM

I'll throw in an A- for Mikhail Youzhny. And a B+ for Kaia Kanepi. I'll give the wind a C, and the heat a B+ (primarily for its lack of accompanying wind). I'll also throw a b- to Ryan Harrison. Tough that he blew 3 match points, but I absolutely enjoyed his style of play. Most American kids are serve and forehand, this kid has a lot more shotmaking and creativity.

Great writeup, Steve!

Posted by nick 09/16/2010 at 01:42 AM

Introduction of NEW hard surfaces slowed ball to 18%
Introduction of SW19 the new ball slowed ball to 7%

Congrats:
Nadal can compete on hard court now, and we can have bipolar milking cows and idol-brand means to have a lot of money from tennis
Well, we closed the gaps of skills that way that different surfaces do not matter any more
ALL IS JUST almost same speed
Ohhh, by the way, We also killed why 4 GS are 4 GS,....display of different skills
Well.....


who cares

Posted by nick 09/16/2010 at 02:06 AM

Oh by the way

However, Wimbledon, the most famous grass tournament, slowed down its grass courts.1. Players have said that the courts of Wimbledon have become slower, heavier, and high bouncing. Wimbledon organizers had changed the grass to 100% perennial rye in addition to changing to a harder and denser soil with both providing for a higher bounce to the ball. Grass specialist Tim Henman spoke out against this change, stating "What on earth is going on here? I'm on a grass court and it's the slowest court I've played on this year".


Well,......so you just know
In translation, I(the eye that looks you from the top of the dollar bill) can change parameters of game in favor one to the another, depending where I wanna bet:):):):)


Nadal coud NOT ever be near HCourt if there is no money that much in Fed-Rafa games
HE WAS HELPED

Posted by tina (forever proud to be in the "Đ-block") 09/16/2010 at 01:49 PM

Roddick gets a "C"? For shame, Steve - Fight Guy should get the C and Roddick "fight guy's" D. Fight guy had better manners by holding his punches and at least provided a bit of levity. Roddick's childishness erased the enormous good will he earned from non-fan's like me at Wimbledon last year. Whatever part of me briefly rooted for him, that's gone for good, now.

All the frothy talk about the "Dream final" as early as Thursday night - ha! Well, I GOT my dream final.

Posted by TENNISANA 09/16/2010 at 02:50 PM

MAYBE RAFA SHOULD BE TESTED FOR DRUGS.
WHO PLAYS TENNIS LIKE THAT????
NOBODY.
WHAT DOES HE TAKE TO KEEP UP THE MOMENTUM????

Posted by Marconi 09/16/2010 at 03:05 PM

Nadal won it with a superlative game. That said, he was a little more fortunate than Federer when he won his French Open last year. As soon as Nadal lost, Federer had no more clay nemeses left in the draw.

Berdych and Murray losing, and Delpo not even being there made Nadal's win a fortunate one.

This is NO way makes his accomplishment any less exceptional.

He still has ways to go before he can be regarded as the best ever. For starters, he needs to win at least 4 more slams, assuming Federer does not win anymore.

Posted by vv_varaiya 09/16/2010 at 03:22 PM

Missing gadget for Pam Shriver and Darrin Cahill: anemometer. IBM can't we have a weather station set up behind the Umpire chair measuring wind and sun continuously? We can then compute points won based on wind direction and sunlight intensity :-)

Posted by BrooklynNY 09/16/2010 at 03:45 PM

Nadals h2h with Federer is enough to say that Fed is not the GOAT.

Not saying Rafa is, but if I beat anybody twice as much as they beat me, I would like to think I am better than them.

Pam Shriver is just plain abrasive, seriously get rid of her, she is like nails on a chalkboard.

I'd like to think anyone would love her job, lets not give her too much credit for doing a job millions would die to have, former finalist or not. Since no one really remembers the finalists anyway, Medvedev anyone?

Posted by JDS 09/16/2010 at 04:12 PM

Lets be honest, todays commentators and media, and mindless tennis enthusiasts have watered down the argument of who is or will be the greatest player of all time. At the end of the day who cares and why should we have one anyway. They havent pinned down a greatest baseball player or football player of all time, why, because other sports realize that not only does it not matter, its almost impossible to determine, players from different generations( and yes Rafa and K-Fed are from different generations), played differenet games against differenet levels, in order to determine who the greatest player of all time is would mean having to first establish which generation was the strongest, which is impossible, but for arguments sake, in the early to mid nineties, almost all top ten players had major titles, nowadays, we are lucky if 4 in the top ten are major competitors. That is all.

Posted by Paul Daggs 09/16/2010 at 07:57 PM

Pam Shriver is horrible. Everyone I know can't stand her...sounds like the players don't like her too much either. I have emailed espn over 20 times with quotes from her...and how annoying she is. Even my 10 year old asked why the lady was dumbing everything down for us. She should be canned asap.

Posted by Franz Reichsman 09/16/2010 at 11:00 PM

Will Rafa turn out to be the Greatest Of All Time? It's to early to say. But he's definitely the Greatest Of Right Now.

Posted by amanaceo 09/17/2010 at 11:36 AM

Nadal needs 2 (or 3) more dominating seasons like 2010 to claim the GOAT. At the moment, Roger Federer is the GOAT. That Rafa has beaten Roger consistently adds to his case for GOAT, but that case is not closed yet. If all goes well for him, he may take it away from Federer. But you can only wait to make that declaration. Who knows what happens next year? Nadal's knees may buckle again. Or tennis may introduce testing for HGH. Or Nadal will grown up & recognize that he does not need to be baby-sit by his uncle.

Posted by Rain 09/17/2010 at 06:45 PM

I would give Vera Zvonareva an A. I didn't even expect her to make it that far in this tournament. Yes she did have a pretty open draw, but she seized the opportunity and killed Wozniacki in the semifinals. It's as if she plays better in the wind! She may have done a lousy job in the final but that's why I only gave her an A.

Posted by Panawe 09/18/2010 at 11:44 AM

I am a big fan of Gael. His tennis is not just entertainment! His just need to take his tennis to the next level and keep his entertainment. There is no other player fun to watch than Gael. I won't give a mark here but if at all at all he needs to be marked, he deserves a little more than all quarter finalist; and why? simply because he adds more fun to the game!

Posted by Irene 09/18/2010 at 01:04 PM

Please add and rate THE FINAL between those 2 happy (Gemini)people and give them A+++! From the moment Rafa fell on the court and Novak ran across the court to hug him in a really sincere way! What a pleasure !
If it was Federer, he would probably say that he was not feeling good, bad luck,did not practice because was doing that famous shopping etc.His strange box people,that fashion older woman with that kid haircurt -what a phonny or rather funny look ,comparing to unpretensious,joke alike statement from Novak box.Their support all the way till the very end ,even when all officials were already in the ally ready for the ceremony..Bravo!
So Federer was ignoring to watch the final ( even though nobody asked him,he said the same before anytime he loses) so we look like loosers sitting in front of TV and watch?
USTA- so many bad schedules, so many great matches on Amstrong and Ground when the same time Ashe was half empty.Lines and lines of angry people trying to see Nabaldian or Verdasco and others at Amstrong.Completely failure of that! Please wrote about this..

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