Archive for March, 2008

Nadal and Blake closing up

March 31, 2008

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One more match sends the two players in yet another QF clash. Who is better? Nadal beat Kiefer 2 and 4 with a rain delay. Blake spent 2hrs 15 min on what appeared to be a hot court. It was more like a freak show for the heat intolerant. I understand that the Miami sun can be opressing, but don’t tell me that was the hottest conditions they’ve played in. I checked the weather right after the match and the temp was mid 70s and humidity didn’t bring the felt temp up. Was the sun burning that badly in March? At 3 all in the third set, both players didn’t really give a damn and where sort of hitting the balls in the net to get themselves under the umbrella ASAP.

If Blake cannot handle that, he will have to book the 7pm matches from now on. Nadal looks like the favorite in a potential QF, even with unfavorable h2h.

So bottom half of the draw is at Last 16, and matches are;
Tursunov – Berdych
Canas – Andreev
Stepanek – Blake
Mathieu – Nadal

The two QFs should be Berdych-Canas and Nadal-Blake
If Nadal can pass Blake, there should be a final waiting for him.

Monday’s action is ahead. Federer will have to beat a figuratively speaking hot Soderling. Roddick needs to get past another qualifier, maybe in 2 sets this time. Johansson will be interesting to watch. And question is whether Davydenko can take advantage of being top seed in his quarter and get to the SF. Answers will come within the next 18hrs.

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Last 32 in Miami

March 30, 2008

Roger Federer has started his Miami campaign with a straight sets win over Monfils. Just about the same level as he started in IW. Next match will be harder, I think. Soderling has started 2008 really well and 6-0, 6-1 in the first match against Koubek is strong. He beat Wawrinka in 3 yesterday and might give Federer some trouble.

If not, Federer will probably sail through to the QF. Sela or Acasuso in 4th round won’t be a pain. Then there is Tsonga, who needs to get past Benneteau, to set up a 4th round with Roddick. You would think Roddick having to play a qualifier would be easy job, but he had to go to 3 close sets to get it. Troicki was giving him a much harder time than he needed this early. But it seems like Tsonga-Roddick is the most likely 4th round where the outcome is impossible to predict.

The big story from the 2nd quarter was Ancic getting even with Murray, after having lost in Marseilles. 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 sounds like a match I should have seen. 2nd biggest story is that Ferrer is out and that Johansson might go in as a good QF candidate if he can get past Youzhny. Likely 4th round matches are Davydenko-Ancic, Youzhny-Johansson

The lower half of the draw will play their 3rd round today. One match that I would like to see is Santoro-Blake. If you remember US Open 2007 you know why. A player to watch is Malisse, who took out Nalby 6-1, 6-4. He has a chance to get to QF if he can get past Blake or Santoro.

But the conclusion thus far is that we might finally see a new Federer-Nadal final. First one since Wimbledon! OR…. if you are an American fan, you would probably want to see a Roddick-Blake final. That’s more unlikely, but not impossible. What say you?!

Kevin Anderson (who?) d. Djokovic 7-6, 3-6, 6-4!!!!!!!

March 28, 2008
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The only dominant player this year is out of the second Master’s tournament of the season in Miami. The 21 year old South African Anderson is a one of the tall bastards (6’11”, 200cm) who served his way through a first set tie-break and broke back from a break down in third to beat the best player of 2008! How the hell did it happen?! It’s not rhetoric, I really don’t know because it is physically impossible to see the match on a tv screen.

For some stupid reason, the ATP masters series tv sends from Saturday. If they don’t send it, who the hell does? I’ve never watched Anderson play, but I’ve heard he belongs in the same category as Karlovic, Isner, Querrey etc.. They should start a club or something. The 2 meters and above club.

Enough with the creativity… Djokovic is out and this means that Nadal and Federer can reunite in a Master’s final. The tournament just got a little more interesting. Nadal might feel that this is his great chance to swap titles with Djokovic from last year. You just never know with Federer these days, so Nadal is somehow starting to look as the favorite to win the whole thing. Anyway… way to go Kevin Anderson, #122!

The end for Safin?

March 28, 2008

Marat Safin just completed the worst three months of his career perhaps. A horrible 1-5 going into April and clay is not where he wants to be. Need I mention that he is on his way out of top 100? He started the year on a poor 56th position and has fallen like a rock. His career has been filled with ups and downs and injuries and breaks, but I can’t seem to find one time where he has fallen consistently over the course of 1,5 years.

So what is wrong with today’s Safin? Has he grown old at 28? Is he tired of his job? Does he need another trip to the Himalayas? There’s certainly some level of carelessness when you see him on court these days and that is not what characterized him back in 2000-2002 when he was fighting for the #1 spot.

His last final appearance was in October 2006 when he lost to Davydenko in Moscow. You would not believe when he won his 15th and currently latest title. Does Australian Open 2005 ring any bells? Wasn’t that supposed to be his comeback?

I don’t see the road ahead for Safin, but he is clearly a guy who needs to win matches to keep himself going. If this form continues this year, I don’t see why he should continue playing. I just hope he does find his old self and starts challenging some of the top 10 clowns. In my opinion, he still belongs in the top 10 today.

Thoughts on Indian Wells

March 27, 2008

I don’t talk a lot about WTA, but when I think Indian Wells 2008, I will not think about Federer’s awkward loss to Fish, not about Nadal’s inability to defend title, Roddick’s first round exit in a hard court tournament, Haas pulling out once again due to illness or whatever, and not because an unseeded player reached the final. What I do think of is the fact that of over 200 countries where tennis is an existing sport, Serbia has produced three world class players who ALL are on the rise. 2 of them won their finals in Indian Wells, writing history for the relatively young country. Not only is this fact impressive, but Djokovic and Ivanovic are only 20 years of age and have so much more to improve on (I assume) in the next decade. I cannot remember last time such young players could show this high level of consistency. At this age, regardless of talent, consistency is more important than how well you actually play. Djokovic did not play ANY great match in my opinion, but won them all comfortably. A lot like Federer has done in many tournaments. This shows that Djokovic can win tournaments even when he is not playing his best.

Then the question is; have we entered a new era in tennis? The 90s and the start of this decade showed us that players could become world #1s with one or two strong weapons. Federer came in and took over with many strong weapons in all shapes and sizes, while supernatural players like Nadal followed the trend. Just think of how much Nadal has improved in the last few years. Djokovic is a combination, and as it seems now he owns only one weakness (age 20!!), and that is his fitness and breathing issues.  I assume that can be annoying for a tennis player in the long run and winning grand slams involves a whole lotta running. But Djokovic and Ivanovic gets an A+ for outstanding results and future great tennis players in the sense that they could (and should) be able to retire as some of the best ever.

Okay, that’s enough of the Serbia love. Back to business. Miami Master’s is on its way and the draw is similar to the one in California. Federer and Roddick in the first quarter, Davydenko and Ferrer in the second, Gasquet and Djokovic in the third, Nalbandian and Nadal in the fourth.

Federer and Roddick should be the first quarter, and the winner is Federer. Roddick could be taken out by Tsonga, but there is no guarantee Tsonga will get there. Murray could take out Davydenko for a quarter final spot. Youzhny is the only real threat for Ferrer. Third quarter is the most unpredictable one, but Djokovic sails as the only QF certainty. Nalbandian could go and set up a QF clash against Nadal.

As far as I can see, the draw doesn’t give us any real fun until the 4th round. We could see a Djokovic-Federer final I think, but there are too many players who want it differently… you just never now.

Limited Indian Wells coverage…

March 9, 2008

THE Blogger takes a break from blogging during this tournament and will be back for Miami March 24th. In the meantime I would really like to know if ANYONE, knows ANYTHING about the 2009 season. They’ve said something about Hamburg not getting what they want and they cannot set up the calendar until everything is taken care of. Fair enough, but why doesn’t it come ANY information from the ATP? At least an update on what the hell is happening.

Oh well… enjoy Indian Wells!

Roddick d. Lopez 6-7, 6-4, 6-2

March 8, 2008
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What a match! Although, I did enjoy the QF and SF more from Roddick’s half where he was far more agressive. One reason for not being agressive today was Lopez. Lopez did not allow Roddick to do anything really. The few times he made poor approaches to the net, Roddick was more efficient and took those vital points. I was actually wondering, when is Roddick going to get a chance to hit a big forehand?

I can’t remember it happening ONCE. Lopez kept hitting to Roddick’s backhand, which on defense, isn’t always poison. But several times, it bit Lopez pretty hard in the butt, especially in the final set.

One thing that was close to last night’s SF was the serving. Man, do those boys know how to serve! Lopez kept hitting himself out of tough situation with the lefty advantage and was brilliant on serve. At the net I don’t think he could have been better, although he missed a few easy volleys here and there. But we knew Lopez for serve-volleying, not effective baselining. Well how good was his forehand! 1st set, I thought Lopez was better than Roddick in most baseline rallies. If he can keep up that little “detail” for the rest of the year, he should be a type of Berdych, Karlovic, Ancic type of player who hunts a spot in top 10-15.

This coming week should be exciting in terms of candidates for the IW title. Will the top 3 return in their respective positions in tournaments? Will Federer even show up with his illness? Can Roddick make a mid-career breakthrough and “rejuvenate”? What about Murray and Nalbandian? It’s safe to say that March will be interesting.

Roddick 2 – Djokovic 0

March 7, 2008
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How about that!?

In my opinion this was the greatest achivement by any player so far this year. WHAT?! Did I forget Nole’s straight set win over Federer? Nope.

The thing is, one has to look at how well players play over a longer period of time. Yes, Federer was his usual self during those first matches in AO, but the first threat was Djokovic. Roddick has had to content with GS champ Ferrero, PH Mathieu, Nadal and Djokovic. What’s more important is not being broken once, winning all sets and beating number 2 and 3 back to back in two days.

It doens’t measure up with Nalby and Nole’s 1-2-3 runs last year, but for Roddick this is a huge boost. Only thing that would set him back is losing tomorrow against Lopez, who clearly is in a “once in a lifetime opportunity” situation. Did not realize Lopez is a year older than Roddick.

But what I saw in today’s match was some brilliant tennis. And certainly 80% of it goes to both player’s serving performance. Stunning from Djokovic throughout 1st set, hitting more aces than Roddick winning virtually all 1st serve points. Roddick…. well you know the story, 145mph serves are not easy to return, period!

They pretty much built their game from their serves all of 1st set and in the tie-break, Roddick was slightly more engaged in the situation and won it fair. HOWEVER! I must give enormous props and sportmanship of the year to Djokovic. At 5-4 on Roddick’s serve, Roddick hit a huge serve that was called let. Djokovic (and Andy I assume) both saw that the ball did not touch it. Hard to see from a bird’s eye view (me). Umpire Murier could not overrule that decision and gave Roddick set point. Don’t think all players would have that kind of gesture at 5-4 in a tie-break! Roddick also very fair and, I think that their shake/hug at the end shows what kind of sincere players they both are.

Second set was a break hunt for Roddick, when he himself was holding easily. Break came and serving for the match was synonumous with victory.

What surprised me, was one thing. Roddick was not allowed (or did not manage) to play AS agressive from the baseline today as he did against Nadal. Djokovic hits less spin and that might be all there is to it, but some of the balls Roddick could of hit flat and hard, turned into loops. Some were probably a miss or not very clean, but even more agressive forehand attacks would do him good. Djokovic was in some rallies dominant from the baseline, but once Roddick got some of them with pace and depth, he was very defensive.

I’ve seen Djokovic play better (especially in set 2) but he did not look to bad, and I think it was his best match so far this tournament. Any way you put it, a good warm-up for him when heading for California where he needs to defend a title and a cr…load of points.

Haven’t seen a minute of Lopez, so I cannot approach tomorrow’s final, but there is a favorite and an underdog. You be the judge. 

Roddick and Djokovic powering through…

March 6, 2008

…and will meet for their second match. Roddick will most likely meet more opposition tomorrow, although tonight his performance must be one of his very best.

I don’t want to brag, but I’ve written about people like Youzhny and Soderling, who hit a lot of flat and deep shots, as the biggest Nadal-threats. Deep and flat shots (with pace) is what you see Nadal struggles with the most. When you are on a fast hard court, that’s the way to go. In Indian Wells, Roddick kept hitting all his groundstrokes around the service line, and Nadal got in and angled the shots with his enourmous forehand and precise backhand. Today Roddick went for his shots and for the first time in a while, I see Roddick hitting flat and deep several times in a row. Just don’t get why he doesn’t do it more often and against Federer as well.

Roddick-Djokovic will be a nice one but I think it’s all up to Roddick. If he plays like today I cannot see why you should rule him out. I am sure 17 aces against Nadal should be 17 aces against Djokovic as well, maybe more. Djokovic, on the other hand, beat Andreev quite easily and must be filled with eager and motivation to be the only remaining top 3 player left. Big chance for him to take two of Federer’s titles before IW and Miami.

Davydenko-Lopez could go either way, but I haven’t seen Lopez play, so I don’t know how to rate his chances, but beating Ferrer doesn’t sound easy whether you’re Spanish, Japanese or Russian. Davydenko…. well he won against Murray. Murray was nowhere near the 1st round performance. Great chance for both for an important final, so this should be just as fun.

Seeds are actually falling…

March 6, 2008

Ferrer lost to Lopez and Andy “upsetter” Murray lost in straight sets against Davydenko. Now the first semifinal will be a fairly surprising encounter between Davydenko and Lopez. I don’t think too many predicted this as a plausible semifinal match. Davydenko has a real chance now of going into a Dubai final and making a “I belong in the top 5” statement. That’s the clue, stability, stability and more stability = good player.