Archive for April, 2008

Nadal d. Federer 7-5, 7-5

April 27, 2008

“Move over pal, I’m the best on clay!”

Don’t you just love this rivalry?! Federer seems to understand every time he meets Nadal, when he finally thinks he has some answers, BANG… straight sets loss. And even if I thought, during the match, that Federer should kick himself in the a.. for losing the curcial breaks of serve, I really mean that it’s Nadal who should get the credit. Probably will be the best ever on clay when we write the history books a decade from now. How can we say it this early? Just look at the freakin’ stats!! Of the last 100 matches he’s lost like 1 match on clay. That’s sick in today’s pro tour tennis. And it’s not the fact that he had the good ability to play on clay, but his mental strength is phenomenal. Have you ever seen Nadal NOT being concentrated when playing?! I haven’t.

This was just the first stop on the clay tour. There are at least two or three more to go where these two kids can meet in a final. I think even with Federer having won only once! against Nadal on clay, his chances are relatively good at RG this year. Just wait and see. We saw “patches” of the genius today, perhaps we will see more like games, sets and matches of genius as time progresses this spring…

Last 2 = Best 2

April 26, 2008

There aren’t too many sports where the teams/players are this dominant. This is the third year in a row where Federer and Nadal battle for the title in Monte Carlo. Best two freakin’ players in the world.

Djokovic was close today, but I really didn’t understand why he got hurt, or where for that matter. He played better than Federer at the start, and started to struggle towards the end of the first set. It doesn’t really matter, Federer played very well and tomorrow he will get his third chance to break Nadal’s winning streak here in Monte-Carlo. Can he get it a 4th time?!

Nadal powered through against Davydenko quite easily and is 19-1 in this beatiful place along the Riviera. The only loss came in 2003 against Coria. Nadal was 16! He is soon 22 and possibly a 4 time  champ with a 24-1 record. I think my money is on Nadal again, but who knows what magic Federer can bring to snap Nadal’s continued dictatorship on clay.

My gut tells me Nadal wins this close match in 3 sets.

Last 4 = Best 4

April 25, 2008

No question about that. The remaining players in Monte-Carlo are #1 through #4 on the ATP ranking. I would also say that it’s the four best of this season, AND add that it’s the four best on clay.

I was not surprised to see Davydenko knock out Andreev, but I thought that clay-Igor would have that extra something to tame the ever-fighting Niko. But when you rely on a big forehand, which doesn’t stick within the lines all the time, you have to give way for the Russian who takes the ball ruthlessly early and gives you no time to react. I cannot see Davydenko giving Nadal more trouble than he did in Rome last year, but it might happen.

Federer, oh the so-called GOAT….Why did you even lose that first set?! Federer finally got Mr. Nalby, but why in 3 sets?! Federer controlled most rallies in the first, though it was close pretty much every time. Federer had control until he got broken in a mediocre service game at 5-all. Anyway you want to see it, this was the QF and perhaps the match of the tournament so far, in terms of quality, shot-making, charm, talent… the whole fifteen yards. I felt sorry for Nalbandian, because I think he would have done good against any one of the other last 8. Federer will have to finally get a AO revenge on the kid from Serbia tomorrow, and based on today, I think it might happen!

Are you ready for another Federer-Nadal final?!

Last 8 Monte-Carlos

April 25, 2008

First of all. How many of you thought that Querrey would beat Gasquet when the score was 6-2 in the first? I didn’t think he would. But now it seems like this might be his break on the ATP tour, or mini-break, ON CLAY! Good JOB!

Federer will have his first exam on clay, and it will be somewhat tougher to pass. I think of Nalbandian as an excellent clay player, and it cannot be easier for Federer on the slower stuff. I don’t know, but Nalbandian lost only 1 game against another clay lover, Robredo, yesterday so…. ouch!

Djokovic defeated Murray quite fast, and will probably end Querrey’s run. Errr? Yes he will…

Andreev is probably in ecstasy, first because he won yesterday’s 50 match balls match, and second because the ATP tour finally hit the dirt. After a struggle in the first 3 months he seems more than qualified for the clay, and I think he will beat Davydenko today.

Ferrer vs. Nadal… Now this might be interesting, but Nadal still takes it in 2. Anything else would be a major, major shock.

So.. can we predict a couple of finalists?! No way… but I think that Djokovic and Nadal are most likely to reach it, based on a little h2h throughout the draw and some common sense. Nadal will of course take that match in 2 sets and be crowned Monte-Carlo dictator. But that’s me….

Shaky #1

April 24, 2008

What the heck is happening to Federer? Is that mono stuff over or not?! I understood that worst case scenario was that it could affect his physical condition for months. I’ve never seen Federer sweat the way he did yesterday, in probably the coolest condition of the season, so far. He will not win this tournament, and I will be surprised to see if he can take down the fast and furious Monfils. Monfils surely must be a bigger threat the Ramirez-Hidalgo. The reason for his loss, as far as I can observe, was his unforced errors. 1st serve was nothing out of the ordinary, but too low if he wants to beat the best guys. Everything on the baseline failed and his mental game was close to failing too. You got to give him some credit for getting the match after being 4 points away from defeat in not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 games! Wow! Good luck Fed!

Nadal looked a hell of a lot better! Ancic is not a clay monster, but if his serve is working well and he can manage to get some fast and easy points, he should be able to pull something against Nadal. Nadal wasn’t too interested and did his job perfectly as quickly as possible and wore down the big Ancic before he knew it. 6-0, 6-3! BigFed… watch out!

Djokovic also got a serving machine in Ljubicic. This was actually a home derby between Monte Carlo residents, where Djokovic came out victorious. 6-3, 6-3 is a good start for Novak. Murray is next, who defeated Volandri a lot easier than I though possible. I think Murray has improved his clay game, with the improved “maturity” and fitness. Could be an upset. Murray had enough weapons to send Novak home.

I would also like to give PatMac a message…. If Sam Querrey beats Gasquet today… You have to play him in Spain! I don’t know what the American has done to beat Moya and Seppi on clay, but with a win over Gasquet today he will be the biggest headline of the clay season.

Kuerten has lost it

April 22, 2008

When you get 1-6, 2-6 against Ljubicic on clay, you really cannot hope to do very good in Roland Garros. The difference was Ljbubicic had firepower and weapons, while Kuerten couldn’t do much. Shame, but when you have your mind and one foot in the retired business, you have pretty much lost it.

Murray got through Lopez in 2, which didn’t sound easy, but Lopez might be one spaniard who probably doesn’t favor a clay court over a faster harder one. I think Volandri will pose a greater threat to Murray in the next round. Kohlschreiber took out Acasuso, Tipsy downed Mathieu in 3, Ancic set up Nadal clash, and Ferrero got Llodra after being in trouble with poor tennis for 1 set.

Some of Tuesday’s hightlights include:

Safin-Malisse (two great talents in the waste bin?)
Djokovic-Ljubicic
…. and that’s it.. I think Murray will take Volandri, but it might be close.
Nadal and Federererer will hit the dirt tomorrow.

Querrey d. Moya 6-3, 1-6, 6-3!!

April 21, 2008

Are you kiddin’ me?!

Now is this a clear sign that Moya should seriously consider retiring, or was it just a Querrey-perfection? Hope some of you saw this one, because no offense to Querrey, but he isn’t the safest bet on a slow Monte-Carlo dirt surface. You cannot possibly argue that serve was too important. 49% 1st serves, winning 76% is just below average for a good server. Isn’t Moya a perfect example of a great forehand?! How the hell did he lose this?!

Anyway… more on day 1 later.

Federer clinhes title #1

April 20, 2008

Davydenko played a close and good match against Rog, but chose to retire up 2-1 in the second set. Why???

Anyway.. very weird start to the year for Rogerer. But let us steer the attention away from the practise in Estoril and head to the serious business in Monaco.

A breakdown…

April 19, 2008

All right, draw is out for Monte-Carlo and just to give som credit to the Americans… they did send Querrey as the one and only from the 50 states. Roger Federer will have a tough task, not only because he needed 3 sets to take down a German outside top 100, but also because he has his good friend Nalby in his quarter. If Nalby gets to the QF, he will be a threat, but it’s not completely out of the question he will lose 1st (2nd) round against Haas. And once again Fed+Djokovic=Semifinal. This will be a do or die for Fed. He just has to get it done if he wants that RG trohpy.

On this same half, I should mention that the (retired) Kuerten will play Ljubicic in 1st and get Djoko in 2nd. Who knows what Guga can do to the kiddo from Serbia?

Lower half is filled with clay lovers. Nadal has Ancic in his first match (or qualifier) and the first immediate threat I can see is Ferrer in a QF. Youzhny and Davydenko are the two other players battling for the last QF. But names like Andreev, Almagro, Monaco, Acasuso and Chela in that same quarter makes the cut more interesting. I think Fed-Nadal final might be realistic, but Federer will have to really get a monkey off his back and beat Nalby on clay.

Fed is 2-1 against Nalby on clay, and the last two went to Federer. However, both were close and could go either way. But the bigger BUT, is Nalbandian has won the last two. Cannot hurt his confidence!

I think that Federer will have to prove that his new coach and this warm-up tournament in Estoril was a good choice. We cannot weigh Fed’s performance too much in Estoril. He has this incredible ability to play average against poor players and outstanding against outstanding players. I’m sure he needs to beat Nalby though, to even believe it’s possible to take out Nadal and take that RG title.

Americans and Monte-Carlo

April 17, 2008

What’s wrong about this place? Visually… nothing! Is the atp schedule too much for Americans? Maybe.. Fact is that we could see a real hat-rick this coming weekend. If no Americans show for the singles tournament in Monte-Carlo, it will be third consecutive year without Americans present. Roddick, Blake and company seems to regard this as a tournament placed very inconveniently in April, when everything on clay happens in May. Wrong! Clay season, as we know it, goes from early April to early June. Are there no important points to catch here?

Roddick and Blake could potentially boost their ranking importantly before grass if they just signed up for it. You get 125 for a QF! QF reached by winning 2 matches! In comparison you need a 5-0 streak to win the 175 normal tournaments like Houston. Perhaps practice over ranking is the idea, but still don’t get why they choose not to play. The only reason I see is not wanting to travel from their home for Monte-Carlo and not come back until July when things start up in North America, meaning that they want to stick around at home until Rome in May and go nuts on clay from that point on. But here is an idea… you have to deal with Spain in September in DC… how about sacrificing this year’s faimily reunion and play all clay events for optimal prep? No? well you need all the help you can get before heading to Madrid, so good luck

Anyway.. these initial tournaments are boring. I am awaiting a Fed-Davydenko final on Sunday and Monaco on Monday. Who will win Estoril and who will hit the Monte-Carlo final?

Fed, Federer, Federererer i think