Road ahead for….

Now it’s what I like to call the first “summer” break of the season. January was tennis saturated, but left us only with the AO highlight. February is Davis Cup and smaller tournaments no top 10 players have a strong desire to participate in. But from Dubai, Rotterdam and on, 2008 is filled with action. Here is the road (predicted or desired) ahead for..

Roger Federer
People say Federer hit the top in 05 and 06, maybe even last year, but is headed down. I want to wait one more year before concluding anything. Yes, the fact that Federer was NOT in a slam final is actually close to being a historic turningpoint, BUT… it will be even more to write about if he can leave Paris with the RG title. First, he needs to defend Dubai (his second home), which he probably will. Then he needs to defend a stunning total of 80 points for all of March. Remeber, hard court = Federer = title. I think he can take one of the two masters and once again call himself the world’s best. On clay, I don’t know if winning the masters tournaments in Monte-Carlo, Rome or Hamburg will define his level of play in Paris, but beating Nadal will. If he can beat Nadal, AGAIN, in one of these it can get him closer to getting that last and complete the shelf of trophies. Wimbledon will be his again, as I don’t see Nadal in another final. People tend to forget that Nadal was close to eliminated in at least two of the matches in 2007. In New York and the rest of US Open series he is still by far the best player in the past couple of years. I would put money on RG, Wimby and USO for Federer in 2008, not so much on his much talked about competition. BUT still, watch out for the Djoker now that his chest has grown to immeasurable proportions.

Rafael Nadal
Has just completed his best HC slam performance. Might it bean the Dubai title again? No, Djokovic AND Federer will take him. Murray and Tsonga too, and don’t forget Youzhny. In March he will have to defend the IW title and a QF in Miami. If he wants to stick around as number 2, he must at least match that. And along came the clay. I think April-May might be the most exiting one yet. We know that Federer and Djokovic are great on clay, but can they beat Nadal? Based on last year… NO. Nadal will still rule the clay part of the season, although I think we might see Federer win one of the titles like last year. Could it be RG? At Wimby, I believe Nadal is depended on the draw. Some players he will slaughter, some he will have serious problems with. He should be happy with QF. But that’s me. I will not say what the road ahead is after that because I think he will play of confidence. If he manages to win Wimbledon, why not US Open? He is capable and is good enough. Then the question is only consistency and those silly knees. More questions than answers, and these players generally do not succeed in the long run.

Novak Djokovic
Strictly opposite to Federer, this guy needs to defend 500+350 points in March. That is easier said than done. He played on a very special level in Miami last year, can he do it again? It’s going to be hard, and if he does do it, it is safe to say that this might be another big name for many slams and years of number 1 position. Clay is the season for him to collect more points, not lose. Though I don’t see him doing well in Paris, or better, until he has no problems running around for hours. At the US Open I was afriad he would collapse against the much older Stepanek. Clay won’t be easier. Wimbledon is too far away right now. I mean, there is a difference in being number 2 and 3 seed, and Djokovic can pass Nadal before that.

And shorter versions for the slightly less of potentials

Davydenko: best year last year, plenty to defend. RG possibly SF again, but doing well in the summer is probably where his focus should be at. Last year he was losing with 12 double faults and the scandal was a fact. Stay clean and watch out for Ferrer and Roddick.

Ferrer: He had a normal “Ferrer” first half of 07. US Open and TMC were BIG victories for him and the question remains if he can stay a contender for SF and wins of bigger tournaments, or if he’s going back down and outside the top 10… The latter is more probable, considering the way Ferrer has evolved historically. Maybe he can win IW or Miami and get his great breakthrough.

Roddick: Last one.. The gap to Ferrer was considerably smaller just a two weeks ago. One thing that the Roddick critics forget is that much of last season, and especially in the fall, his focus must have been entirely on DC. Yes, he entered USO to win it, and TMC as well and played to his full potential, but DC win was his goal and that’s what he got. But what people aren’t seeing is that he didn’t play at all late fall, and the March-Apr part of last year suffered a hamstring problem which made the start of the clay season problematic. This year he needs to prove he is a contender and hunt for Wimby and USO, AND GET MORE THAN 5 points in PARIS!! And get any points in Monte-Carlo, Rome and/or Hamburg! That should be enough to blast past Davydenko and take back 4th spot. Goal: beat Federer (in order to win titles)


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