Posts Tagged ‘Federer’

Blake won! No gold for Fed

August 14, 2008

You have to feel bad for the man. This season has truly sucked for him. No GS, no Masters, no important bigger tournament win, no beating Nadal on clay, no GOLD! How will he ever recover? Will he be so down from this terrible season that it just keeps on going into USO? Or will he continue his continued win since 2004? But what happened?

Very simple, very straight forward tennis talk: Blake played better than Federer almost every game. To about 3-3 in the first set, Blake held easily, Federer struggled. At 4-4 and 5-4 it looked like Federer was coming up with some answers to Blake’s continued pounding. However, that last service game was so full of errors, winners, u name it, that it was decided by the best player of 1st set and that was Mr. Blake. 2nd set started with some other Federer I haven’t seen in a while. Got broken and Blake eased to 3-0 lead. Federer was not angry, but just walking around looking confused. Nothing worked at that point. However, at that point, IMO, it was Blake who was the best on all terms. Serve, forehand, even backhand sat on the line, hard and woops! 3-0. Federer played like 8 or 9 points on that world class level, but only enough to level it at 3-3. Then Blake played like in the 1st set, and Federer could answer on occasions. But not enough! Blake won the tiebreak comfortably 7-2. Blake was better and the h2h is now 1-8.

Djoko, Rafa, Gonzo are coming up…

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Olympics last 8 breakdown

August 14, 2008

Federer – Blake
Oh no. Blake is going in way too confident with a 0-8 record against the #1. He has even won ONE set in their 8 “close” battles. I’m not making fun of Blake, but if he were to pull a win today, it would be biggger than Roddick’s Miami win, Gonzo’s MC win, even Djokoivc’s SF Aussie Opne win. Blake has to my recollection never played his absolute best against Federer. I remember watching them in USO in 2006, Blake’s best fall season, where they battled in 2 intense tiebreaks, one of which Blake won. It doesn’t do him good to lose the 2nd set 6-0 though. That’s just plain embarassing. I would be stunned to see Roger losing a set today, but Blake seems to be tuning up his engine for the most important part of the season for him. But hey… Federer has lost to so many different jokers this year, maybe Blake can finally get a win as well.

Mathieu – Gonzalez
How about that Gonzalez?! He beat tiny Rochus 6-0, 6-3 and has eased through the opponents to reach another QF for Chile. Is he like a patriot or something? He hasn’t really done what he did last year and I can’t see him returning to Shanghai regardless of what he does here. But is he here to defend his Bronze? Just one more win now and that’s a good possibility. Although, likely opponents will be either Nadal or Djokovic. What about Mathieu? I big talent IMO, but somehow will never break through. He looked decent during French Open, but hasn’t done much since. Could be close, but Gonzo seems strong.

Monfils – Djokovic
Now this is interesting. Monfils took out Nalby in 2. I’m not saying that’s so great, but he has gone silently through the draw and ended up in a QF against Novak. I assumed Novak would have problems getting fresh air in his lungs on the very first day. However, he seems to come with the humid and non-fresh conditions. I think this match is all in Monfils’ hands. If he plays confidently like in French Open, he should have a shot at Djokovic. I haven’t seen Djokovic play at all, but I have a feeling he’s not giving 100%, maybe only 99.5. That’s usually enough to go 8-6 in a tiebreak in contrast to 6-8. However, my gut tells me Djokovic sees the Big 3 all still in and wants a damn medal just as bad as the rest. Beating Nadal in a SF on hard court shouldn’t be the hardest thing in the world.

Melzer-Nadal
I don’t know how Melzer would beat Nadal. I have to place him in the same category as Mathieu, only lower. He has never met Nadal, I’m sure he’s happy, and I think that he will be sent home packing. There’s no way Nadal will lose this match, now that he’s in a position to take on Djoko in the next round. Nadal will win. Safest bet of the day.

Is Federer’s racket his “problem”?

July 31, 2008

I found a very interesting point in this article from tennis.com.  Is Federer’s racket the weakness in his tennis bag? The point is that Federer’s old style mid-size or small size racket is very difficult to handle because of the small sweet spot. The surface area of this spot is significantly smaller than on the more regular 100 inch rackets. Those 10 inches could have been what ultimately decided the Wimbledon final. In darkness and wind, there’s no doubt that a larger racket would do any player good. The difference could be a slight miss or a complete shank into the crowd. For the best player in the world, you would think that he could perhaps hit the ball in his sleep. Well.. he cannot. There’s a reason Federer watches the ball longer and better than any other player. The 90 inch head is hard to handle and takes Federer’s talent magnitude.

Many will probably contradict this point saying that it’s just like anything else. If you have used ONE type of racket your whole career, it won’t do you any good to switch. Same might apply to Federer. Question being, will he still be able to hit his forehand as hard as he does now? Will he be able to create the same angles, spins, volleys…etc.? Probably not. He will have to work hard to be satisfied with the strokes.

On the other end, there’s some truth to the point in the article. Wouldn’t you think that Federer could beat you with a frying pan if he wanted? Roddick has done some trials in his charity events, hitting the ball like there was nothing to it. All I’m saying is that I think Federer’s talent is so big and his clean game is so good that any racket he picks up, he can play almost just as well with. It always takes some time to get used to, but I assume he would be one of the best to adjust as well. From the sound of Federer’s view on this issue, it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll switch any time soon. But it would be interesting to see how a Fed-Rafa racket swap would turn out. My tip would be Federer winning 0 and 0, because of Nadal hitting every other ball on the frame. Federer, on the other hand doesn’t need to change anything to be able to hit his normal shots. U see?

And one big point, which isn’t disputed anymore, is the fact that YES, Federer would have beaten Nadal more on clay, if he’d had a few more square inches. The only shot that Federer hates (when playing only Nadal it seems) is the high hit backhand. The 4800 rpm spin into Federer’s backhand at nose height, is VERY hard to get back with some decent pace. Running around is Federer’s desperate answer, but clay monster Nadal will outrun him on them. Evindently, Federer would have appreciated a bigger sweet spot on those occasions. If Youzhny can hit such a good backhand with a 100 incher, so could Federer.

I don’t think Federer would get any help now on the hard stuff in N.America, but switching racket on clay, or making a custom CLAY racket for the guy sounds interesting. If I was him, after 3 consecutive RG final losses, I would certainly do anything to try and improve my chances against the RAFA. If we get a Fed-Rafa final in Cincy, and Federer misses many on his backhand side, I’m going to conclude that the theory is at least close to true.

Federer – do or almost die

July 30, 2008

2 points from defeat and more than likely losing #1 spot this week, Federer saved his sorry self from a major defeat #2 in 2 weeks. So what’s the problem? Confidence shaken? Has the king lost it?
What would be awesome is if we get a Fed-Rafa final who decides who will take on the #1 spot. Don’t know if that’s possible for Nadal with the points he needs, but I assume some of you know better. My question is if Federer has his focus on achieving something that a player only can do once in 4 years, which is gold medal. Maybe that’s where his head is at.

Either way, a tremendous test for both Federer (under pressure) and Nadal (under hard court pressure, but with phenomenal confidence boost last week)
Yummy!

Roger or Rafa?

July 5, 2008

Third time’s a charm?

Federer and Nadal have been, without any doubt, the two best players of the tournament so far. Not because they got to the much anticipated final, but because I’ve never seen any of the two play 6 really good matches in a row in Wimbledon. I remember Federer as a shaky “first weeker” and Nadal just not good enough on grass. Since that 2006 final, they’ve both grown and grown and Nadal is now better on grass, hard, carpet, water, snow… all surfaces. The question is now; is he good enough this year?

If the 2007 final was a 60-40 Fed advantage, this year it’s like 51-49. It might be a Fed straight set win, but this time I actually think Nadal can take it in 3. Probably the hardest slam final they’ve played to predict. In all RG finals, Nadal was favorite. In all Wimbledon finals, Federer was favorite. This time Nadal seems just too strong to go home withouth the golden trophy. But like I’ve said before… I cannot think Federer will lose on grass until I actually see it happening. When Nadal reaches match point tomorrow, I will reconsider my decision, but right now Federer hasn’t been stopped in 6 years.

Federer wins in 4 and finally!!! gets his first slam of the year.

Outstanding and unstoppable

July 3, 2008

Federer and Nadal are in a different league I’m afraid. Nadal was expected to play better as the grass turned into hard soil, but I also thought that Murray has something more to show against the muscles from Mallorca. I’m sorry I had doubts, even at this stage, that Nadal would run into trouble. It wasn’t Murray who didn’t deliver, it was Nadal who completely ruined everyones hopes of having a Brit in the final. He simply outplayed him almost in every rally. That’s not a good sign.

Same thing goes for Federer. I didn’t expect him to lose a set against Ancic, but I was sure we would see a tiebreak! Kinda close in 2nd, but in reality Federer was in control and had no problems passing his troublemaker from 2002. I feel sorry for Safin and the winner of Clement/Schuettler because I would bet my blog that for the third year and for the 100th time we will get a Fed-Rafa final. That’s what everyone is hoping for it seems. For me, I want some more players to step up and take some slammers. The late 80s generation (Gulbis, Del Potro, +++) need to get better and take over soon.

We will see each other for the final on Sunday. I don’t think I’ve ever been more disapointed in the SF of a slam. When you know the outcome, you kind of don’t wanna watch. I think I preferred Djokovic and Roddick as the two other SFist just to spice it up a bit. But hey! They need to play! Two best of five matches and it’s not impossible we could have the sensation of a lifetime and see Safin play Schuettler in the final. Right….

The Brits are confident

July 2, 2008

Maybe too confident, about Murray’s chances, not only to win today against Nadal, but the whole damn thing. You can read BBC online and see how Murray’s chances are evaluated as very good. I’m not as sure. Even though Murrays has some of the elements we saw in Youzhny (when he beat him), he will also struggle against Nadal’s big forehand. As they all do. Murray’s chance is to slice it as much as possible to Nadal’s forehand, and preferably deep. Nadal used to struggle against the nasty flat hit backhand of Youzhny. Murray hits it with more spin and doesnt’t have the same quality in hitting it deep and low, but rather creating angles and placement. Murray has never beaten Nadal, so why start now?

I do think that the newfound confidence, and his actual improved physical condition, will help him make it a close battle. But when we saw him being 2 sets down against Gasquet we though he wouldn’t be able to turn it around. He did, but that was Gasquet. 16-12 for the year and because of his “early” loss he is now out of top 10 once again. In other words, he struggled big time against one of the worst top 40-50 players of the year. If he’s 2 sets down, or even 2 sets up, why should he be able to outsmart Nadal? I don’t think that’s statistically safe to think. If he can maintain focus for 3 sets and try to prevent from hitting hopeless dropshots again today, he might make it a close battle. If he gets broken early and never feels like getting a break in Nadal’s serve, then it’s a 3 set defeat in 2 hours.

In the other matches Federer will take care of Ancic. Though I would love to see Ancic giving the old Fed a hard time taking a set or 2. Safin has to win. Lopez, I think, has never been in a SF before, so this is Safin’s backyard. The last one is so hard to predict I’m gonna leave it to the pros themselves. Clement is old. Schuettler is old. Both have solid career records, but I don’t think any of them thought they would reach a SF this year either. Chance of a frickin’ lifetime!! The winner will be one tiny match away from a Wimbledon final. Question is, who will think of this first. I bet he loses.

Now that is tennis!

July 1, 2008

Phenomenal performance from Murray and Gasquet yesterday. They didn’t show their best tennis of all time, but managed to pull some good stuff to please the crowd and the millions of viewers. The errors were always just around the corner, but the stunning winners were also always close by.

It did help the match that Murray won @ home, but boy was he close to defeat! 2-0 and I think even a break down in the third. Doesn’t matter, really. Gasquet received the same brutal turnaround like he showed Roddick same time last year. Now Murray has to see what he can do with Nadal. I don’t think Nadal’s ease past Youzhny makes Murray a stronger believer, but didn’t we all think he would lose as they were playing set 3? We’ll see….

Federer past his “ultimate” test, probably the player with best results with the exception of Nadal. The tiebreak was a killer, but then somehow Hewitt fell apart. Don’t give up people! If you get Federer to 7-9 in a breaker, you are good enough to get it 9-7 the next time!

And then there was Super-Mario! Ancic was also heading for home, as he was struggling to do anything with Verdasco. 2 sets down and hope out. No… wait the score is 11-all in the final set! Yes 13-11 to Ancic after finally being able to break and hold, in that order. Now he’s played 10 sets the last two matches, both being intense. Don’t think it will help him going into the match against Federer on Wednesday.

Safin also pulled a win against 13th seed Wawrinka, and is heading towards a SF clash with the player he beat in Australia 2005. Cannot wait!

Lastly, Schuettler took out Tipsarevic, which came as a surprise to many. This was probably the most important match in terms of getting futher into Wimbledon than any one of them had hoped. So Clement or Schuettler will play Nadal/Murray in the SF. Who would have thought?!

Oh.. and also Baggy is out. Still can’t understand why he lost. He had match point in the final set, but never took it and gave it away to Lopez instead a few games later. Too bad, because I think Baghdatis could have given Safin more trouble than Lopez. So the winner of Wimbledon is hiding in these QFs:

Federer – Ancic
Safin – Lopez
Schuettler – Clement
Murray – Nadal

 

Roger Federer 1st up

June 22, 2008

The schedule for tomorrow’s matches will be from Roger’s half of the draw, including Novak and Lleyton, Nalby, Baggy and more…

Most people will probably watch the center court + court 1 action, but there are several great matches on the smaller courts. Here are the ones I would prefer watching:

Kohlschreiber – Verdasco
Kohlschreiber just got to the final in Halle (lost to the King), while Verdasco went all the way to the final in Nottingham, taking a set off Karlovic. No doubt that both players are ready for grass and seem to be more consistent than previous years when hitting grass. They’ve met twice, both won by Kohl, but both matches went to a third set. I’ve been asked to predict, but I feel an obligation to tell you that I get like 20% right, so don’t use them for betting.
Kohlshreiber will win in 5 great sets.

Gicquel – Nishikori
Both have done well so far on grass. Giquel lost to Ferrer in the final in Holland (I’ve given up trying to type the name of the location), Nishikori gave Nadal a light headache in Queen’s. And we remember him from earlier beating Blake and other big names. Fun to watch, and could be heading for a Federer clash.
Nishikori in 4.

Baghdatis – Darcis
Baghdatis has struggled a lot all year. He hasn’t been able to do anything special. Only two reasons he’s still at #25. 1 is QF in Wimbledon last year, 2 is SF in AMS Paris. Darcis is one of the (young) guns, actually older than Baggy, who has climbed from 485 in 2007 to a career high of 46 in March 08. He’s clearly heading up, Baggy is sort of going down. But we know how good Baggy plays on grass, and we’ve seen a lot of good stuff from Darcis this year (not A LOT, but winning Memphis is a big achievement). I believe it will be a tight battle and good baseline rallies.
Baghdatis in 4

Hewitt – Haase
Hewitt hasn’t performed to his full potential this year and hasn’t proven to be consistent enough to get himself back inside top 20, or maybe 10. Haase is like Darcis, going up. Hasn’t proven anything that should scare Hewitt, but could give him some trouble. I’ve seen Haase playing with Safin, and beating him in 3 sets back in Valencia; he was able to beat Murray in Rotterdam in straight sets AND took out Ljubicic in the first round of AO. Maybe not the favorite going into the match, but no joke.
Hewitt in 3

Federer – Hrbaty
Okay, this is interesting. Federer has a relatively bad record against this guy. Lost in 2000, when Hrbaty was much higher ranked, but also beat him in 2004 at Cincy. I cannot see Federer losing tomorrow, but can we get an early mid-term exam from Hrbaty? Why not?! Well… because he has a horrible 2-3 record this year, playing more on the Challenger tour and doing some doubles as well. Ranked 272 and really not going up anytime soon. I can only assume that Federer will play badly to lose a set tomorrow, but what do I know?!
Federer in 3

New King of Queen’s

June 15, 2008

What a final! Rafael Nadal has finally cracked the Queen’s club code and won his first title on grass. 7-6, 7-5 took some time to complete because of some tight, incredible, high level rallies. It was the match of the tournament and one of the best so far this season. Somehow the Nadal-Djokovic rivalry usually is more entertaining than Fed-Nadal. When Nadal and Djokovic meet there are few errors and some stunning rallies and general quality of tennis. Maybe the Wimbledon final will be Nadal-Djokovic. Who knows?!

Going into the final, I had Nadal as a favorite because of his immense fighting abilities and reluctancy to go home empty handed. Djokovic played over any excpectations IMO, but just didn’t get the important points in the breaker and towards the end of the 2nd set. Being up 3-0 in the first probably marked the turning point in the match, in terms of momentum shift. Because from 3-3 or 4-4 it was a battle for every inch, every chalk mark and every serve. The tiebreak was one of the best in a long time and Djokovic, much like in Hamburg and Paris, had the goods, but Nadal came out victorious. Poor guy!

Nadal and Djokovic are now grass integrated and I bet Federer is sweating just a little bit more as he heads for Heathrow. Nadal has not lost since Ferrero in Rome, which wasn’t a real loss, so in reality the final in Miami was the last real loss for him. My only concern about that is getting worn out and tired before the 2nd week in Wimbledon. 

Federer, on the other hand, got his winning streak to 59 on grass and there’s no reason to predict Nadal as the winner of Wimbledon 2008 quite yet. I agree with Roddick, “what does the guy need to do to show that he’s favorite?” Win Wimbledon 5 times in a row? Perfect record since 2002, meaning 59-0 in the last 6!! years!? I say Federer is still a big favorite until proven otherwise. And Djokovic? He will get his chances, but has to settle with #3 favorite for now.