Pre-Clay report cards

The FedEx – B
Well, when you are sick on the day of the exam, you definitely will struggle to gain results. Hard work without results are not given credit unfortunately. Federer has yet to reach a final this year, and the mono probably gets the blame for the worst start to a season since 2003? Or let us see. If reaching a final is the measure, Federer has reached a final from Jan-Apr every year since 2000! In 1999 he didn’t, because he was still cruising on the challenger tour. I really have high expectations for him this clay season, and see him once again as favorite (+Nadal) to get the missing RG title. Playing Estoril (Djokovic not attending) is probably a good move to regain fitness and confidence. But he really needs to win it! But no more criticism, reaching a SF in AO with mono is great. He also played some good tennis in California and got to another SF. Played good all the time in Miami as well and finally lost to Roddick. I don’t really see how this is such a bad start for the #1 who actually only has lost approx 500 points this spring. B for FedExpress

BandaNadal – A-
Yes you heard me! Final in Chennai, losing because of the marathon match. SF in Australia, best ever for Nadal on hard court. Variable, but good performance in Dubai. SF in IW and final in Miami! What more can you ask of him? He has never had this many points, and is closer (almost) than ever to Federer. I don’t think he will pass him during the clay season, because Federer has more potential than what he showed last year. Nadal has once, again every single point to defend, except for Hamburg. But so far this year it has been the best start ever for Nadal and get a – because he somehow lost to Seppi in Rotterdam.

Djoker – A
First career slam (one year ago he was #16), winning IW, SF in Dubai. Those three are his main results. Considering the fact that he is still 20 years old, losing early in Marseille and now in Miami doesn’t mean anything. Might be the fitness issue, might be that he doesn’t manage to do 2×2 week tournaments at the same high level. ONLY 20 years old people, give him a freakin’ break! This kid could actually go in RG with the same result as in AO, shattering Federer’s dream and ending Nadal’s run. Just wait and see.

Davydenko – B+
Not very talented it seems, not very charismatic they say, not a whole lot of results to show, but what a fighter! The way he has risen on the rankings is remarkable. Very slow, but in turn very consistent rise from the several 100s to top 10. He has been steady top 10 player the past few years, but it’s clear that this guy didn’t get here by talent or luck. Probably hardest worker on tour right now. Hard work brings results? You bet, even if it takes 9 years. He has SF in Doha, SF in Dubai, and the win yesterday to be proud of. The rest is very questionable. AO he lost to Youzhny in R16. In Rotterdam lost to Llodra. And in IW lost to Fish. These are more Davydenko-like-results. However, winning titles is what counts, and Miami is known for being the mini-slam or 5th slam and he took it. He is heading to new heights on the ranking and has started to establish himself as the 4th best by a good margin.

Ferrer – C
VERY high expectations going into 2008, has been a relatively normal Ferrer year so far. QF in AO is not so bad. Losing in 3 and a bagel against Djokovic is bad. But he has lost to Johansson, Lee, Lopez, Zverev?, and Benneteau; all ranked FAR below. He has to improve during clay season as his ranking will be threatened by a clay-hater below him.

Engaged and underage – B+
That’s right! First of all, a little credit for letting Jimbo go. Turned out to help. Two titles this early is not normal for Roddick. San Jose is not the biggest tournament, but Dubai is! And this year probably harder to win than it should have been in Miami. Very good job. AO was a very big dissapointment, considering he was on the right side of the draw, but it’s human not to perform optimal all the time. Even Federer showed us this fact. Losing to Haas in the first round, IMO is the worst result for him. Somehow he cannot get Haas and that ruined a possible good tournament for him. However, here in Miami he goes from C+ to B+ just based on the Federer-win. There is something that each player needs to achieve in a lifetime, and after these past 5-6 years, it has been to beat Federer. I think this is bigger than winning Dubai and beating #3 and #2 back to back. What a lot of people haven’t focused on is that he actually has almost no points to defend between now and grass. He can pass Davydenko if he can get some close-to-decent results on clay. But he needs to play them! I will bring him down to D if he doesn’t play them.

Gonzo – D
Failed to perform in Aussie Open. Won Vina Del Mar (W/O!), BTW where he played three players outside top 100 and one on 78th. A few of them where too close! Failed in Vegas, Failed in IW, Failed in a challenger!!! in Florida, and lost in straight sets to Canas this past week. He has a Rome final to defend. Based on this year’s start, NO WAY! Only reason for not failing, is that he has a title. Nadal and Federer have none combined! HA!

Richy – D+
Gasquet gets more attention than Davydenko, but I don’t see why. The only respectable run this year was in Melbourne. He lost to the HOT Tsonga in 4 sets. Which sounds hard enough. Has lost to some good players, but if you wanna be top 10, you don’t lose to Tursunov twice in 3 months! R16 is the closest he has been a title this year. The Wimbledon SFist will have to improve on clay.

And list of other players good and bad:
Nalby – C+
Murray – B
Blake – B
Berdych- C+ (not a typo!)
Hewitt – C-
Youzhny – B
Tsonga – B
Robredo – D-

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