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Tipsy on the Cusp 12/01/2010 - 2:13 PM


by Pete Bodo

Novak Djokovic put it best in London, while trying not to think too much about this week's Davis Cup final as he played out his regular-season string at the World Tour Finals. He said that the Davis Cup finals were a preoccupation because he didn't honestly know when he, or Serbia, might get to that stage of the competition again.

I suppose most players, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal excepted, can say the same thing when they compete in a run-of-the-mill major at any of the four corners of the tennis universe. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych might back Djokovic up, each of them having reached one major final. But even more than at a Grand Slam, reaching the final round in Davis Cup involves a certain amount of serendipity. The alternating choice-of-ground rule, along with the fact that nobody can win a Davis Cup single-handedly (although some have come pretty danged close) ensure that your Davis Cup fate is never entirely in your own hands.

In any given year, a team may be able to play all of it ties at home; this year, Djokovic's Serbian squad played two of its three ties in the cozy confines of the Belgrade Arena, before a crowd already famous for its wildly patriotic, partisan tendencies. The one tie to which the Serbs had to travel was contested in Croatia—and let's remember that, all politics aside, it wasn't so long ago that the two nations were joined as one, at least in theory and on the world map, as the nation formerly known as Yugoslavia. It's unlikely that the Serbs felt like innocents abroad when they moseyed down the trail to Split in the quarterfinals and laid a beating on Ivan Ljubicic, Marin Cilic and company. Basically, the Serbs reached the final without having to leave home, and that helped their effort immensely.

The other issue—the fact that it takes at least two to secure a Davis Cup title—is a little trickier, and it may be the key to the upcoming final. When you have a towering star—a Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic—somebody else, preferably a singles player, has to find a way to add a win. It isn't as big an assignment as it may appear, because very few nations, at very few times in history, have two world-beater singles players. So even guys like Stan Wawrinka, Fernando Verdasco, Ljubicic, James Blake or Michael Llodra don't have to beat the other team's top player. But it helps the cause tremendously if they can beat the other team's No. 2.

Serbia's No. 2 in singles is going to be either Viktor Troicki or Janko Tipsarevic. On paper, you'd have to go with Troicki, because at No. 30 he's ranked 19 places higher than Tipsarevic. But Tipsarevic is an impressive 32-12 in Davis Cup play (25-10 in singles), and he's won the last four Davis Cup rubbers in which he played (including back-to-back semifinal singles wins over Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych). The last three guys to beat Tipsy in Davis Cup singles were Nadal, Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer, which takes us all the way back to 2006. Tipsarevic seems to be one of those players who steps up instead of freezes up in Davis Cup, and with the home crowd as a propellant and most eyes and hopes firmly tacked on Djokovic, he's even more likely to craft a hero moment.

Troicki, by contrast, is a tepid 7-6 in Davis Cup, and just 5-5 in singles. He lost the last two singles matches he played, against Cilic and Stepanek. So forget what the rankings suggest, Tipsarevic has built up an impressive head of Davis Cup steam, while Troicki has been pulling slowly on an uphill grade. But Troicki skipped the recent Paris Masters in order to prepare for Davis Cup, and the newlywed Tipsarevic cut short his honeymoon in order to focus on the upcoming tie. You can bet that both of them are staring at Bogdan Obradovic with hungry Labrador retriver puppy eyes as the practice sessions wind down.

Beyond that, Tipsarevic is 2-2 against French No. 1 Gael Monfils, and 1-0 against Michael Llodra, the possible No. 2. Troicki has no H2H stats with either man. Granted, Troicki was the surprise winner at the Kremlin Cup event in late October, on a surface very similar to the one chosen for the final by the Serbs. But it would seem foolhardy to me to put Troicki out there against a pair of players like Monfils and Llodra. And not least because each of them is a stylist, a little different from the typical baseline bangers who prowl the tour these days. Llodra is an aggressive, old school, frequent flyer to the net. Monfils thrives on playing defense and counter-punching with a degree of athleticism rare even on the ATP tour.

You don't really want to have a lot of on-the-job training in a Davis Cup final; by the time you get a feel for how the other guy hits the ball, and what he does or doesn't like, it could be over.

Pete Sampras once told me that one reason he never came back to take a wild card at Wimbledon after he retired was because he knew he'd have to play a number of pros against with whom he had no previous history. He hated that, and I imagine most other players do as well. Besides, who needs that kind of pressure when playing in your first Davis Cup final?  While the Serbs insist they haven't made a final decision, I think Obradovic is just trying to keep the French guessing. The only way I can see Obradovic selecting Troicki is if he's really beating up on Tipsarevic in the practice sessions. Those episodes, which have been going on all week, often have a much greater impact on final nominations that all the collected data.

In any event, Obradovic also needs a good doubles partner for Nenad Zimonjic, who got a little tight in his last Davis Cup appearance. He was partnered with Djokovic in the doubles against the Czech Republic, facing Berdych and Stepanek, and seemed overwhelmed by the occasion. He may be better off playing with a Troicki or Tipsarevic (with whom he beat the team of Cilic and Ivan Dodig in the quarterfinal round, his penultimate appearance). Zimonjic is a doubles specialist, and he's likely to be most comfortable and confident playing in yoke with either one of his own breed, or a singles player of no great reputation. So I expect to see Djokovic and Tiparevic playing singles, and Zimonjic and Troicki playing doubles.

But beyond the nuances of nomination—and one of the beauties of Davis Cup is that despite the small squads and streamlined order of play, the selection process is pretty complex—the overall theme of this Davis Cup is that it's all about Djokovic.

Federer and Nadal have turned Grand Slam events into a table for two, but the Davis Cup invites players to become national heroes—a call to which Djokovic is very receptive. The big question regarding Djokovic, the most accomplished player in the tie, is how he'll react to the intense amount of pressure he'll be under. For everyone not French is operating on the assumption that Djokovic is good for two Ws.

You know what they say: From him to whom much is given, much is expected. Djokovic is a whopping 5-0 against Monfils, but just 1-1 against Llodra, who beat Djokovic in Paris just a few weeks ago. The other day, Djokovic said, "This is the biggest occasion of our lives."

He's likely to find out just how big the moment is when he steps out onto the floor of the Belgrade Arena to hit those first balls.

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Posted by Master Ace 12/01/2010 at 02:39 PM

Davis Cup Final - LIVE on Tennis Channel

Serbia vs France (8 AM Fri - 9 AM Sat - 7 AM Sun)
Novak Djokovic vs Michael Llodra
Viktor Troicki vs Gael Monfils
Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic vs Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra
Novak Djokovic vs Gael Monfils
Viktor Troicki vs Michael Llodra

Gilles Simon is also on France's Davis Cup team

ALL lineups are subject to change as the draw is scheduled for Thursday

Posted by Master Ace 12/01/2010 at 02:44 PM

Reading Tipsarevic record in Davis Cup reminds me of Francesca Schiavone who steps up her game when she is playing for Italy instead of herself. Tipsarevic can be placed in that category for the ATP along Gonzalez and Massu of Chile. Neither Gonzalez or Massu has won any big titles except at the Olympics where they won the 2004 gold and bronze in singles and gold in doubles in Athens with Gonzalez winning a 2018 silver in Beijing.

Posted by AB 12/01/2010 at 02:53 PM

Pete: thanks for the write-up.

MA: I do think Fran's Fed Cup contributions powered her FO triumph.

I don't think Janko has the tools to be more than a spoiler in regular tour events, but I hope he has a good showing in DC.

Posted by Master Ace 12/01/2010 at 03:00 PM

I can not argue your point about Francesca's Fed Cup play helped her to win the French this year.

Posted by sokol 12/01/2010 at 03:02 PM

JJ and Novak in the exo match in Belgrade yestersay:

more pictures:

looks like they had lots of fun, even though this pic is weird, poor JJ :-)):

Posted by AB 12/01/2010 at 03:07 PM

sokol: I like JJ in her little black cocktail dress. Black suits her.

Posted by sf 12/01/2010 at 03:11 PM

sorry to butt in, but this is important (at least to me;-)...

robin soderling split from magnus norman.

so the rumor has been confirmed.

well i support robin no matter what. he is the one in the trenches and must know better.

i hope a new coach (or capable tennis-brainy partner) would join him soon, because i feel like 2011 could be make or break. 2009 and 2010 have been preparatory, 2011 must yield that elusive salm.

go robin!


Posted by sf 12/01/2010 at 03:17 PM

direct from the mothership...

Robin Söderling and Magnus Norman Will Not Continue Working Together in 2011

After two successful years together, Robin Söderling and his coach Magnus Norman are not to continue their partnership in 2011.

Magnus wants to put more focus on his personal life and new projects, and can therefore not provide Robin with the amount of time that he requires.


-“I have had the two best years of my career so far with Magnus as a coach, and I am very thankful for the commitment that he has shown during this period of time.” Said Robin. “It would have been fun and exciting to continue, but I have reached a point in my career where I need a coach who can put in the time necessary, and focus 100% on my tennis. Which is why I still feel as if this is the right decision for us both, and we part as good friends.”


- “ I look back on a fun and fantastic 26 month long period of time together with Robin.” Said Magnus. “I want to thank Robin for the faith he has had in me to take care of his career, a responsibility I have tried to manage in the best way possible.”

In a few days we will announce the coach that Robin is to start his 2011 season with.

Posted by Master Ace 12/01/2010 at 03:26 PM

Thanks for the official confirmation on Soderling and Norman. As I posted before and sorry to say this but I think Soderling will drop out of the Top 5 and he will do good to say in the Top 15. Now, if he wins a Slam, you can "rag" me all you want.

Posted by sokol 12/01/2010 at 03:26 PM

"I like JJ in her little black cocktail dress."

+1, AB

Posted by sokol 12/01/2010 at 03:28 PM

I'm very excited about the DC final. I hope we'll get good matches (even though secretly I'm hoping for easy wins for the Serbs :-))


Posted by sf 12/01/2010 at 03:32 PM

master ace,

no worries about your doomsday prediction - i know you don't mean it (take the excuse, bro!;-).

i think le sod will be fine. it is time for him to move to the next level, his 2010 was lack-luster at best. yeah he won paris and rotterdam, but we were expecting more than this after the 2009 he had.

he is a big guy and those don't last too long on this court, so he may be 26, but he may not last as long as a well-rounded federer, say, would.

i only hope he does not laze about, and that whoever his new coach is can keep him honest.

Posted by Ross (FOE, even Gael) 12/01/2010 at 03:34 PM

Play an exo to prepare for DC? Wild and crazy (and cool) guy.

Good to see it will be on TC.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeee!/We gonna see, no?) 12/01/2010 at 03:49 PM

Ah, Nole. Seeing him deal w/ the pressure and be the hero this weekend would make my year. :) I just hope that if Serbia does win the DC, going forward Nole pulls a Franny (national glory as positive fuel) and not a Demmy (Sorry Demmy fans, but I always thought she lost a bit of that drive to win a major after she won the gold in Beijing).

OTOH, I’d also be pleased if Gael played the role of hero this weekend. He has really grown on me, thanks to that catchy “Beeg Shot” commercial and my newfound zen attitude when watching his matches. :)

All this to say… I’m torn.

SF – Thx for confirmation re: Sod. Any word on possible replacements yet?
*briefly wades into shallow end of pool* I will miss looking at Magnus in Sod’s box, though.

MA – I missed your earlier post about Sod’s prospects. Why so (relatively) dire?

Posted by Master Ace 12/01/2010 at 03:57 PM

I feel with the breakup of Soderling and Norman that Soderling's results will dip.

Posted by sf 12/01/2010 at 04:00 PM


here's some thoughts on possible replacements from one article...

"Candidates to replace Norman include fellow Swedes Thomas Hogstedt, who currently works with Tommy Haas, and Fredrik Rosengren, the man who helped Mario Ancic reach the top 10 in 2006.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Another contender is former World No. 4 Thomas Enqvist, who knows Soderling well from his current role as Swedish Davis Cup captain.

However, given that Soderling speaks fluent English and resides in Monte Carlo for tax reasons, Norman's replacement will not necessarily be another Swede.

With few points to defend early in 2011 due to his first round exit in the Australian Open this year, Soderling could potentially crack the world’s top two in the coming months and will therefore need to have the right man in place as quickly as possible."

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeee!/We gonna see, no?) 12/01/2010 at 04:05 PM

MA - Ah, okay. I wasn't sure if you were talking about the breakup or if there was some aspect of Soderling's game that you saw as cause for concern. Soderling will be one of my 2010 storylines to watch... so many ppl have talked about Norman's positive influence on Robin's mental game... guess we'll see how well Robin has internalized those lessons.

Posted by Colette 12/01/2010 at 04:05 PM

*briefly wades into shallow end of pool* I will miss looking at Magnus in Sod’s box, though.

I'm right there with ya', sblily.

And I've been thinking the same thing re being torn about who to root for. The French have such a deep, diverse and simpatico field of players (from the cool, calm and collected to Gael). And who HASN'T become a Llodra fan of late. But it would be so signficant for the Serbs, especially Djokovic.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeee!/We gonna see, no?) 12/01/2010 at 04:08 PM

This made me laugh:

"...from the cool, calm and collected to Gael"

And this made me shiver:

"With few points to defend early in 2011 due to his first round exit in the Australian Open this year, Soderling could potentially crack the world’s top two in the coming months..."

Posted by sf 12/01/2010 at 04:15 PM


soderling will only slide if he gets lazy. as far as i know norman kept him on his toes - he said as much after winning rotterdam.

hope jenni and new coach (whoever he;ll be) can keep him on the up and up!

Posted by arbiter 12/01/2010 at 04:28 PM

I was 99% sure that Viktor has to play. Now, when I see that mr. Bodo, who HATES Serbia suggests that Janko should play - I am 100% sure that they worry that Viktor could help Serbia win it all. It has to be Viktor!

Thanks, Bodo, I just hope our selector will use this simple logic also.

Posted by Carrie 12/01/2010 at 04:48 PM

*OTOH, I’d also be pleased if Gael played the role of hero this weekend. He has really grown on me, thanks to that catchy “Beeg Shot” commercial and my newfound zen attitude when watching his matches. :)


I love that commercial- and his crazy game of fetch. :)

Posted by Ruth 12/01/2010 at 05:00 PM

I see that Henri Leconte, the guy in sokol's "weird" picture, is in Serbia. I wonder if he went for the exo (he is quite the clown at many of those events) or if he has a role with the French DC team.

I'm joining sblily and others the land of the torn when it comes to this DC tie. For one thing, my short list of players to take Gonzo's still unfilled former spot in my exclusive ATP "5 faves" includes Nole, Gael, and MAndy. For another, I fell deeply in love with Llodra and his game when I saw him play twice at this year's USO. The fact that I don't like Tipsy at all is helping to lesson my dilemma a tad. :)

Anyway, I think that this DC tie will provide a grand ending to my tennis watching season.

(Apologies for not paying attention when it was announced, but does anyone know where the DC final will fit in the shortened ATP schedule?)

Posted by sf 12/01/2010 at 05:13 PM

" love that commercial- and his crazy game of fetch. :)"

me, too, carrie. especially where he says:

"nothing is (im)possible." you almost hear "nothing is possible!" lol

Posted by Amit 12/01/2010 at 05:22 PM


Do you expect Soderling to do substantially better than what he has done in 2010? 2009 was a breakthrough year, and he basically hit the same major markers in 2010, didn't he? Finals at RG, mid-rounds at Wimbledon and USO. I don't expect him to start quasi-routinely beating the top 2 (win 3/10 matches with them, for instance), irrespective of surface. They've got far too much game for that. He needs a bit more variety to compete with Djokovic and Murray as well; perhaps a new coach comes handy there.

Posted by Ruth 12/01/2010 at 05:40 PM

I thought he was saying, "Nothing gets past me!" LOL

Posted by Ross (FOE, even Gael) 12/01/2010 at 05:44 PM

Me too, Ruth--it fits the rest of the commercial's theme. It's a good one.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeee!/We gonna see, no?) 12/01/2010 at 05:51 PM

Y'all are too funny. I have to confess that, as much I lurve that commercial, everything after "creh-zee game...ohhhf FETCH" is pretty much a blur, as I'm usually zoned out and bopping my head (or dancing) by then. I'll try to pay more attention next time. :)

Posted by sf 12/01/2010 at 05:53 PM


one slam is all i ask of my man. one slam. (of course, i'll take 2, and 3 and ...).

i am not so naive as to expect him to be a federer or a nadal, but he's shown too much heart and game not to snag a "big one" one of these days.

"hope is a good thing," is all i can say!!

Posted by ixvnyc 12/01/2010 at 06:16 PM

Here is what I think makes most sense for Serbia:

First of all Djokovic HAS TO win both of his singles. For points, but more importantly for the morale of the rest of the team and of the fans.

Beyond that: I'd play Troicki on the first day. If he wins, that should do it. If he loses, play Tipsarevic in the last match. With the whole enchilada on his back, his knack for giving his best at the biggest moment should come in full force. Doubles don't matter, as France will win that match no matter what. I'd play Troicki with Zimonjic, just to keep Tipsarevic fresh and healthy for the last match.

Note on the fans: forget Serbia's soccer and basketball fans, who are (for different reasons) among both the best and the worst in the world. They will not be there as the tickets were mostly distributed by invitations. Out of 15K, only 5K were sold to general public, and those for high prices for worst seats. Plus, Serbia's basketball and soccer hooligans don't give a rat's ass about tennis, as they actually much more strongly identify their clubs than with Serbia's teams (as the intentional sabotage of the Italy - Serbia soccer match by Red Star fans has shown).

In short: expect a regular Davis Cup home crowd. Rowdy for tennis, but nothing outrageous. In fact, since the French have made such a show of security concerns, knowing what I know about the Serb mentality (having been born and raised there) they are just as likely to make a show of restraint, just to spite the French for their talk of the trip to Serbia as some sort of a dangerous expedition into an uncivilized wilderness.

Most importantly though: let's hope for some spectacular tennis, as all involved are cable if producing. This is Davis Cup final, dammit!

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 12/01/2010 at 06:24 PM

Totally disagree with hardcourt specialist Kim winning player of the year while Serena is holding two slams. Not surprise with the status of sainthood Kim has received since becoming a mother. Serena and Vee have never been embraced by the tennis establishment so I figure Kim would win whether she deserves it or not. Kom sa, Caro, Kom igen Robin,

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 12/01/2010 at 06:29 PM

And no awards for Caro either. Phew!!

Posted by Maya 12/01/2010 at 06:30 PM

I hope Djokovic will win his two matches
Ans I wish Serbia to win
France has great players and tennis traditions which were rewarded by 9 Cups
but Serbia has made so much recently to develop tennis in their country they deserve at least one

Posted by ixvnyc 12/01/2010 at 06:33 PM

I wanted to add a bit more on Djokovic - Llorda. Llorda is the only player not named Nadal or Federer who has beaten Djokovic since mid-summer.

That has to sink hard in the stomachs of Serbia's fans, but there are two things different since that loss: the home crowd will be Djokovic's this time around, and secondly, count on Serbia making that hard-court the slowest in the history, contrasted by the one they played on in Paris which had to be made of glass or something! Watch for Djokovic's return swings and blocks to catch Llorda's serves much sooner. I think Djokovic wins that one 3:0, and if he doesn't, to loose it 0:3, as that one will be determined simply by the conditions, which you have to think will be firmly on Serbia's side.

I also want to add that I think the French would be wiser to play Simon than Monfils. Monfils chances against Djokovic are exactly zero. Simon might have a shot. Against Troicki, Simon is a sure shot. Monfils, not so much. Monfils is only sure to beat Tipsarevic, and if Serbia is wise, they will not let that match happen, and use Tipsarevic just against Llorda.

Posted by Red⁺ = Legacy Solidified 12/01/2010 at 06:37 PM

Good evening all.
I don't care who wins.
I just want to see Llodra play Djokovic.

Posted by Gina 12/01/2010 at 06:41 PM

I'm not Serb but I so really want Serbia to win for the sake of Nole!!! I'm going with him all the way, he's a natural born winner. Ajde! Go Nole Go!

Posted by Red⁺ = Legacy Solidified 12/01/2010 at 06:42 PM

Forgot to add the Tipsarevic/Zimonjic vs Clement/Llodra as well.

Posted by TMFunk (formerly the prone-to-error typing TheMightyFunk) 12/01/2010 at 06:45 PM

there is just no way Nole loses to Llodra in Serbia

Posted by Grant 12/01/2010 at 06:49 PM

I don't really have a horse in this race, but I'd prefer for Serbia to win, because a) what Maya said; and b) Nenad Zimonjic

Posted by Pspace 12/01/2010 at 07:01 PM

Allez Frenchies!!!

Posted by Grant 12/01/2010 at 07:04 PM

Allez Pspace!!

Posted by Pspace 12/01/2010 at 07:06 PM

Vive la Grant ;-). Howdy!!

Posted by Maya 12/01/2010 at 07:09 PM

Go Serbia!!!!!!

Posted by beth 12/01/2010 at 07:11 PM

I love Gael's commercial
the crazy game of fetch !!!
Allez !

I also read a tiny vignette article in which they interviewed Jo Wili - talking about his long time friendship with Gael .
He told a funny tale from their younger days about Gael claiming he could roller skate , only he did not know how to stop the skates .So he skated full speed ahead , into a parked sports car
A very expensive sports car
Somehow , it just had a total cartoon feel about the way he told the tale
and imagining Jo Wili's laugh as he spilled the dirt on his friend , also made me smile

Posted by Yolita 12/01/2010 at 07:19 PM

"Basically, the Serbs reached the final without having to leave home, and that helped their effort immensely."

Actually, it wasn't as easy as you paint it. When Serbia played in Croatia there were problems. When Nole appeared, somebody yelled "Kill the Serb" and there were disruptions, burning of Serbian flags, etc. Most people were respectful and Ljubicic helped a lot, but it certainly wasn't like "playing at home". I think for the Serbian team it's harder to play in Croatia than it is to play in many other countries. Novak behaved very maturely and managed to handle the crowd well. It wasn't easy. On the contrary, it was harder than most Davis cup crowds.

Posted by Maya 12/01/2010 at 07:31 PM

To what Yolita said
I would say France reached the final without having to leave home
Look, they beat their main rivals at home: Spain in Paris , Argentine in Paris.. ))

Posted by beth 12/01/2010 at 07:40 PM

I believe the tie against Argentina was in Lyon , not Paris
but it was most definitely in France

Posted by Maya 12/01/2010 at 07:51 PM

Well, ok, in France not in Paris. And they played against Germany in France either

Posted by Tigress 12/01/2010 at 08:15 PM

Au revoir and fond Fed memories from the 2010 Masters Cup/Y.E.C./WTF/etc. They need to come up with one catchy name and stick to it for this last of the 5 major tournaments. Perhaps we should just call it the "5th Major".

"WTF" just doesn't do it for me. Oh, WTF.

Posted by Maya 12/01/2010 at 08:24 PM

Masters Cup forever! All these YEC and WTF sound horrible

Posted by air max 90 12/01/2010 at 08:27 PM

When Nole appeared, somebody yelled "Kill the Serb" and there were disruptions, burning of Serbian flags, etc.

Posted by Maya 12/01/2010 at 08:40 PM

To air max 90
I know that, I saw a video of that, and I am not a Serb nor a Croat. How could a journalist specialized in tennis not know that and write things like "it's unlikely that the Serbs felt like innocents abroad" and "Serbs reached the final without having to leave home"? It's so unfair!

Posted by freddy 12/01/2010 at 08:43 PM

Leander Paes is another player who punches far above his weight in the Davis Cup, for India. His DC record is outstanding with several scalps against players who would normally beat him soundly in regular tour play. Also won Olympic bronze at Atlanta 96.

Dunno about Serbia having it relatively easy because their only travel was to friendly neighbour Croatia...Countries that get split often have the bitterest rivalries, so winning away in Croatia couldn't have been that easy.

Posted by Heidi 12/01/2010 at 08:44 PM

Pete, your love for Davis Cup has always drawn me in! I'd say that Tipsy seems like the obvious choice from my armchair (literally) but we'll see what they go with... I hope there'll be some fantastic matches.

Posted by Sergije Jovanovic 12/01/2010 at 08:44 PM

Just one comment about match between Serbia and Croatia. To say that this is like playing at home for Serbia is joke or almost stupid. The hatred between two nations is immense. To wave Serbian flag in Croatia would be very close to death sentence. For comparison I think American team would feel much better in North Korea than Serbian in Croatia. Players, particularly Djokovic and Ljubicic are good friends but it will probably take some years or generation before Serbs will feel fully comfortable in Croatia. So my advise to the author stick to tennis and leave politic and history.

S Jovanovic
(I can still call myself serbocroat)

Posted by freddy 12/01/2010 at 08:50 PM

Maya and S. Jovanovic's comments confirm what I suspected - it would have been war out there. Can relate totally, cause you have to see the atmosphere at an India-Pakistan sporting contest (any sport) to see how much is at stake...and we broke up 60 years ago!!

Sure, there is a common shared culture and rarely any bad blood at the individual / people level, but sports are something else :) In fact, asking Serbia to win away in Croatia would have been the toughest task in international tennis demanded of the Serbians...they would have rather travelled to Patagonia, given the choice...All credit to them.

Posted by freddy 12/01/2010 at 08:56 PM

Which by the way, is what makes the Bopanna (Indian) - Qureshi (Pakistani) mens doubles scratch team so unique. When they reached the USO final, it was impossible not to feel a lump in the throat during the awards ceremony.I remember being awed at what tennis could do - its never happened in any field, certainly not in any other sport. If there were a peace prize in Tennis / Sport, they should certainly get it.

Also, recently Sania Mirza married a Pakistani ex-cricket captain...another sign that things may be moving in a better direction.

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 08:56 PM

***decision, decisions,decisions*** Can I decide not to back a horse, dead or otherwise, in this DC race?

I have gotten quite fond of Novak, (when he is not playing Fed of course.), and his full time EMT squad. I kinda hate Tipsy and don't know Trotsky's great great grandson** well enough to have a strong opinion.

As for zee Frenchies...Allez! Is it for sure Llodra? I mean part of his Bercy success...and that match against Robin was a corker...was due to the court surface. Watching Gael is kinda worth the price of admission all by his own self...assuming he can manage to not break, strain or twist and shout something for more than one set.

I will probably most fun to watch w/out extreme emotional involvement for a change.

** I know, I know.

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 09:01 PM

Andrew if you are out there.

That was an olive branch? I will go back and read it again...but it seemed to me more of a hawthorne branch. But perhaps that is only my overly sensitive side talking...and reading.

Pspace - how nice of you to honor us with your presence. Do you still have your Rafa sneakers?

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 09:12 PM

Andrew - 1/2 olive branch, 1/2 hawthorne stick. And the dog in the night said, "woof." And dropped the bone.

Posted by Tigress 12/01/2010 at 09:13 PM


Saw you are here and just wanted to congratulate and thank you for your 'news' article on the other day on the Fed-Nadal match. It was one of the best I've read and puts most "professional" tennis writers and journalists to shame. Hope that as you said you'll write more in the future.

I copied it and put it in my 2010 WTF file (Fed WTF #5 and win #66).

Posted by Tigress 12/01/2010 at 09:23 PM


Thanks for explaining your "clean kill" rules for 3 set matches. But Fed was so excellent and dominant last Sunday (as he was all tournament) that I think we should invent a special category to describe this type of win.

How about "Quasi Clean Kill". I sort of like it, although it's a bit inherently tautological.

Posted by CL 12/01/2010 at 09:25 PM

Tigress - others have pointed out it wasn't, 'balanced' on the mythical scale of fair and balanced, at least not the last few paragraphs, and given more time and an editor, I definitely would have substituted 'perplexing' for ominous, but overall I thought it was an ok look from a different angle than a lot/much/some of what was out there.

Posted by Tic 12/01/2010 at 10:48 PM

"Watching Gael is kinda worth the price of admission all by his own self...assuming he can manage to not break, strain or twist and shout something for more than one set."

Seems he's well on his way even before any matches:

Just look at his poor, terrified teammates.

Posted by Pspace 12/01/2010 at 11:22 PM

CL, haha, of course I have my Rafa sneakers. And, in case you didn't know, AM bought me Rafa's shirt from RG this year. So, I go all decked out in Rafa's green shirt, Rafa's pink shoes, and Roger's K-factors. I wish my game lived up to the gear ;-).

Posted by Tic 12/02/2010 at 12:00 AM

More Gael acrobatics:

Posted by Tic 12/02/2010 at 12:11 AM

Pre-sleep stream of consciousness from tweeting Gael (end of the day, pressure coming, g-night):

Fin de la journée.massage time now....
La pression arriveeeeee....
Bonne nuiiiitttt twitter...

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/02/2010 at 01:15 AM

Morning everyone. :)

What a fabulous picture of Tipsy. :)

I think this will be snow day number 2, judging by the amount that seems to have accumulated overnight. Strange weather.

Posted by zenggi 12/02/2010 at 01:41 AM

Good morning,

According to Nenad's website, the Serbian players have already been decided:
Singl: Novak Đoković, Viktor Troicki
Dubl: Nenad Zimonjić / Janko Tipsarević

It's horrible weather here as well (-7 °C at the moment.) Specially the wind chill makes it very uncomfortable.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/02/2010 at 01:47 AM

Hey zenggi. :)

Tipsy can be such a great big match player, I hope he does get to play.

I don't know what the temperature is here but it is still snowing! I went out for a walk in it late last night, and there was swirling wind and pouring snow, and nobody was out - kind of a nice feeling.

Posted by zenggi 12/02/2010 at 01:57 AM

Tipsy looks "mean" in that picture. I wasn't very impressed last time I saw him play live in Rosmalen. He tanked the match, for sure. :)

And I read that Goran Ivanisevic won from Tim Henman. Did you watch the match?

I don't go out in this weather unless is strictly necessary.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/02/2010 at 02:16 AM

Pfft, must've been raining. :)

Posted by Northernboy 12/02/2010 at 03:44 AM

Samantha - Kim won 5 tournaments this year, 3 of them big ones (Miami, USO, YECs), despite missing the French with a foot injury, and Caro won 6 tourneys, 3 of them I believe were 1000 level events, after recovering from an ankle injury. Serena only ENTERED 6 events this year, after cutting her foot on a beer bottle and not playing for HALF the year. That does not a player of the year make. Hardly even debatable.

I do think Caro was a strong contender to most improved women's player, but in that mind that has to go to either Stosur or Schiavone. They stepped up.

But what does she care? As you'd say, she's beautiful, talented, and the world's #1!

Posted by nicothekou 12/02/2010 at 04:49 AM

Hi ! According to the french sports newspaper "L'équipe", Gilles Simon is the one to play against Djokovic. The idea is to preserve Llodra for the double (with Clément it seems) and for the decisive single against the Serbian n°2.

I think it's a good decision by Forget. Simon is more likely to tire Djokovic for his sunday match against Gael Monfils. As the surface is slower than Bercy, it's not sure that Llodra could match Djokovic returns. So the safe choice to me.

Allez les Bleus !

Posted by Or 12/02/2010 at 05:39 AM

This is a good desicion. Gilles would go all out vs. Djoko.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 12/02/2010 at 06:20 AM

Northernboy, the great thing about this board is that there are so many varied opinions on different subject and I would strongly disagree with yours. I believe Serena should have been player of the year because I believe that if we are looking at quality just as you did when you compared the tier level of Caro's wins, I believe that two slams and one being the MOST pretigeous in tennis, Wimbledon is greater than the one slam and other titles Kim won. I don't believe that quantity beat quality. Also, believe that Serena's work in Africa, building schools for impoverished children should have given her the humanitarian of the year award, but that was given to Sharapova, a player who is more favored in the WTA. Again, agree to disagree. Kom sa, Caro, Kom igen Robin.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 12/02/2010 at 06:29 AM

Like Ruth said, most people generally agree that the slams are how we measure players, but in here that seems to change when the player we're talking about is Serena. Roger became the GOAT for many. When? As soon as he passed Sampras slam record, not the lower tier events. Why? Because the slams are the highest quality of tournaments a player can win. Consistency anyone??? Not for some. Kom sa, Caro. Kom igen, Robin. Du er den bedste!!

Posted by Metro 12/02/2010 at 06:44 AM


Bopanna (Indian) - Qureshi (Pakistani) men's doubles did receive this year's ATP Humanitarian Award for their fundraising, promotion of regional friendship and charity work in India/Pakistan. I witnessed the ceremony after Nadal/Berdych match at the WTF. Good ovation from Heffner and the crowd.

Posted by nicothekou 12/02/2010 at 06:52 AM

It's out ! the first day Tipsarevic will play in single against Monfils while Troicki is in the double. Simon against Djoko. Double : Llodra/Clément vs Zimonjic/Troicki.

One word : logical.

Looking forward to it !

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/02/2010 at 06:54 AM

DC draw is made:

all from Davis Cup on Twitter: "The first name out of the draw is Gael Monfils, which means he plays Janko Tipsarevic first on court tomorrow. It should be a cracker. Next up will be Novak Djokovic against Gilles Simon - the Frenchman will have to play well to score a point there. The doubles sees Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra take on Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic on Saturday."

Posted by Master Ace 12/02/2010 at 08:01 AM

Davis Cup Final - LIVE on Tennis Channel

Serbia vs France (8 AM Fri - 9 AM Sat - 7 AM Sun)
Janko Tipsarevic vs Gael Monfils
Novak Djokovic vs Gilles Simon
Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic vs Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra
Novak Djokovic vs Gael Monfils
Janko Tipsarevic vs Gilles Simon

Posted by Or 12/02/2010 at 08:43 AM

I totally cannot call this final. I'm not even sure who I'm rooting for. I don't like Djoko, and I like the frenchies more, especially Gilles, but it would be hard for me to root against the Serbs on home soil, they'd be devastated to lose.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 09:05 AM

Hi Jewell and Or!

Looking forward to friday's matches. So tipsy got picked for singles instead of troicki. Makes sense to me. I think Llodra would have a better chance against Nole but maybe the french want to keep him in the dubs. Should be exciting any way you slice it.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 09:06 AM

btw, did I read somewhere that Serena has w/d from the AO? too bad. sorry to hear that.

Posted by Master Ace 12/02/2010 at 09:11 AM

Yes, Serena will not be playing AO and Hopman Cup. Heard that the hard courts in Belgrade will be slow therefore, the pick of Simon to play Djokovic.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 09:24 AM

MA: got it. thanks. wasn't thinking about the surface.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 09:27 AM

The dubs matchup for saturday should be a barn burner. btw, after the dubs final on sunday, Nestor and Nenad and Mahesh were all thanking their respective partners and saying good bye to them and wishing each other good luck with their new partners. It was like musical chairs and quite funny.

Posted by Master Ace 12/02/2010 at 09:31 AM

Yes, 2011 will have a lot of new doubles teams. I wonder do if teams change consistently now due to the excellence of the Bryan Brothers(11 titles which includes the AO and USO).

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 09:33 AM

MA: i was thinking the same! Are these guys changing partners looking for the magic duo that can beat the Bry's consistently?

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 12/02/2010 at 09:35 AM

Morning all !

I'm really looking forward to DC this weekend. As Novak is one of my favourite players, I'm hoping that he and his team can go out on a "high" note.

Special Hi to Annie :

So pleased that you got home safely ... and that you had a great time !

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 09:40 AM

Hi Lynne, thanks for the welcome home. It was a great trip all 'round. The tennis of course was the highlight but we had a chance to go into the countryside on monday too. btw, have you seen the vid of rafa getting the AS award in Madrid? Don't know if it was posted here but it's quite entertaining. He and Moya had to help a magician perform a magic trick. If you want me to post the link I will.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 12/02/2010 at 09:46 AM

Thanks, Annie, I did see it as somebody did post a link here but I can't remember who it was. Great tournament, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Shame that it was so cold though. Lots of snow in UK and, as usual, trains and 'planes have ground to a halt.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 09:48 AM

oh what the heck, i'll post it anyway. For Rafa, Moya and magic fans...

Posted by AB 12/02/2010 at 09:48 AM

Hi TWibe:

Annie, so glad you got to see your fave live and full-flight Fed. I thought Rafa's RR matches, especially the 1st sets, were very exciting. He played himself into form and gave himself a good chance to go all the way this year, picking up some points and affirming his scheduling decisions.

With Roger's resurgence and the rest of the pack trying hard to catch up with Naderer, it should be an exciting year.

'm going to try to make a big tournament next year. Don't want to put it off. You just never know what may happen.


Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/02/2010 at 09:50 AM

Hello Annie! How's it going?

and hey everyone else too. :)

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 09:51 AM

Lynne, you're not kidding it was cold. And snowing like mad on tuesday morning when we had to leave. The poor Brits really don't know how to deal with any kind of snow at all. And they seem to be getting more and more of it lately. You're not in the UK are you?

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 09:53 AM

AB: glad to hear you're going to get to a tournie. Nothing like seeing it in person. Don't know where you're located but my vote, of course, is get to IW if you can. Or any of the masters in Europe. Basically, any Masters anywhere!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 09:57 AM

jewell, hi! hmmm, how am I? idk, it seems whenever I go away for a few days my family falls apart. Not in a gnashing of teeth, emotional way but one kid didn't go to school, another didn't go to work...geesh. get a grip, people.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/02/2010 at 09:57 AM

I can attest to UK chaos, at least where I am. :) & it's still snowing a bit, too.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 12/02/2010 at 09:58 AM


No. I'm in Florida, although I went to UK in October to see the family. When I was a little girl growing up in Yorkshire we had a lot of snow which used to lie around for weeks on end.

There wasn't so much in the South though but the last couple of years it has got worse. Maybe they think it is just a temporary thing !

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