Posts Tagged ‘Ferrer’

Safin runs over Djokovic

June 25, 2008

BIG UPSET! BIG BIG BIG! Why? I don’t know… Safin raised his game to a 2005-2006 level and was able to use Djokovic’s medium-poor play to his full potential. 10 double faults and way too many errors who are worth mentioning just helped a hot Safin on the way. I have actually excpected either Djokovic or Nadal to go on a big letdown these days. It happened to almost every player of Safin’s 80-82 generation, including the big talent Hewitt, Roddick and of course Safin. All of them have hit #1, won slams and beaten the best players of that time at a very young age. That description goes for Djokovic too. Now it will be interesting to see if Djokovic can let this pass and focus on maintaining the awesome consistency for the rest of the year. My point is; give the guy a break. He is only 21 (has he turned yet?) and got his slam and has done best on hard court in 2008 of ALL players including beating the best of all time in a slam. I hope for his sake, that Hewitt-Safin-Roddick story doesn’t repeat itself for Djokovic.

BTW. I forgot to mention the Ferrer-Andreev match. I didn’t realize the importance. Andreev has a tasty record against Ferrer, and being freinds won’t help Ferrer a lot more. I thought Ferrer in 3 initially, seeing how well he did in Holland. Maybe Andreev can pull a Safin and take out another top 5 player. #3 and #4 are out, why not #5? Can it happen? Sure! That would leave Fed-Rafa-Rod-Gasq-Blake-Waw. I bet the last three don’t last too long.

QF @ Roland Garros

June 3, 2008

Finally, we have come to the point where the BEST of the best remain!
Let’s start with today’s action:

Almagro – Nadal
No doubt that Almagro has made a good run here in Paris. He has never been past a 4th round of a slam and as his chance now against Nadal. Is is a chance, or is it merely an event that needs to be completed. IMO Almagro has never looked this strong, the only problem being that Nadal has arguably never looked this strong either. It’s Spain vs. Spain, Murcia vs. Mallorca, Defense vs. Offense. What I love about Almagro’s game is that he is not even clos to mainstream Spain clay game. He tries to hit winners ASAP and has probably the most vicious serve of the top ranked Spaniards. (not including Lopez) Could he pull it off? No, I would be surprised to see Nadal lose a set, but again.. I think this is the first match where Nadal plays an in-form player who just hit the highest rank a few weeks ago. He is actually en route to a place for Shanghai, being #9 at this point.
Nadal takes it in 4.

Gulbis – Djokovic
Ok. Logically this is Djokovic in three short sets, right? And it could be… However! Gulbis is probably the biggest talent since.. well Djokovic. I don’t know if he’s much of a talent, but he has a very mature and fine tuned game. Big serve, big groundstrokes, and if I’m correctly informed… clay is his least favorite surface. QF is his best, like Almagro, so argument is NOTHING TO LOSE! The only problem for Gulbis is that he hasn’t had a real opponent yet. Nothing compared to Djoko. Blake, Llodra, Lapenti, Greul… not the list of the best clay players. I think the match will go to Serbia, but this is a real battle between two miniscule countries with two great talented players. Think about it… Serbia vs. Latvia!! Where the heck is Russia and the US? I’m afraid Djokovic will take the advantage of having the lowest ranked player as opponent and do a fast workout in 3 sets
Djokovic in 3

Yesterday… all of Stepanek’s troubles seemed so far away..
Ferrer-Stepanek was a sick match. Physically sick, mentally sick… anyway you want it. Rollercoaster is a mild expression to a match where both players had momentum every other point, every other, game or most significant every other set. Stepanek took the third set 6-1, but still managed to lost the 4th quite easily. Was down 0-4 in the final, came back to 4-4 just to be broken back and losing the incredible momentum. It’s not only Stepanek who contributed to the rollercoaster, Ferrer was just as inconsistent with his groundstrokes. I don’t know how Ferrer will get past Monfils if he doesn’t show some more consistency.

Monfils on the other hand impressed me. He was more consistent than ever. He got broken too many times, but seemed to break back with ease a couple of times, against Ljubicic who has hit a very low number of unforced this tournament. Not the best tennis, but both players played a reasonable medium-paced game with a lot of combos and flat hit shots. Very nice to watch, and very nice for France to at least have gotten one out of the 5 players into the QF.

Federer and Gonzo sailed through in 3 sets and didn’t sweat their brains out. Therefore it might be some high quality tennis when they meet next time. Remember Shanghai 2007? Gonzo has actually beaten Federer now, so nothing is impossible.
That’s tomorrow… for now.. Enjoy today’s tennis

Last 16 and end of 1st week

May 31, 2008

Finally we have made it to the players who have deserved to be going into 2nd week. RG is IMO the hardest of the 4 slams to get past the first 3 rounds. There are so many clay lover below top 100 who could take the advantage and get instant fame. Who am I talking about…hmm
Well, there’s Chardy!! That’s the only one who’s left, but there are always a few players who come from nothing and get big wins against big guys.

Let’s go to today’s action and find the man of the day… IVAN LJUBICIC!!!

Why, you say? Firstly he was down 2-0 against the 4th best clay player, the robotic Davydenko. Second, he has fallen down from top 3-4 to #30 very fast and with no good results to show in recent time. Third, he is one of the BIG guys with the big serve as main weapon. History shows that these guys succeed more on hard courts and grass. Fact of the matter is Ljubi played great tennis, few errors and made Davydenko come up with the good stuff. He wasn’t able anymore after the first two sets, and Ivan took over. Great match, great setting and a great result for the big guy from Croatia. Kinda the only surprise left, apart from Chardy in the last 16.

Gonzalez did the same thing today, but you would excpect him to play a lot better than what he showed during the first two sets. Gonzo is a rollercoaster of another dimension and needs stability to get a big title. Wawrinka playing his best is perhaps not as good as Gonzo playing his best. That’s why Gonzo won, I think.

Ok, here’s a breakdown of the remaining candidates:
Federer-Benneteau (Federer just torn Ancic apart, will do it to Benne as well)
Gonzo-Ginepri (is this for real?! If Gonzo loses this, shame on him!)
Ljubicic-Monfils (this could go either way, depending on mental strength+best tennis possible)
Stepanek-Ferrer (probably to of the biggest dark horses to win the entire thing, super match!)
Gulbis-Llodra (big chance for both of them, is Gulbis mature enough to take it? 50-50 IMO)
Mathieu-Djokovic (either Mathieu plays his best and has a chance, or plays poorly and gets humiliated at home)
Chardy-Almagro (bye bye Chardy, Almagro losing this would be a big upset! who knows?)
Verdasco-Nadal (bye bye Verdasco. never beaten him, never even close, except for once on grass..Nadal in 3 I’m afraid)

Contenders for Roland Garros

May 23, 2008

All right. The draw is out. What d’ y’all think?! Before I get to the draw, here’s a list of the top contenders. There’s no point in analyzing the draw without the missing qualifiers. They are, more often than not, good enough to beat some of the other jokers.

1. Rafael Nadal
King of clay. Rafa will get the #1 position to win this title for many years to come I think. I mean, are there really any indications that this is wrong? All things considered, his clay season has been better than people want to say. Every player must experience an injury or some sort of problem SOMETIME!
Blisters was Nadal’s stop. Could this be decisive? I thought that this might be a problem for Rafa, but Hamburg proved that predictions wrong. I don’t know how two weeks of best of 5 sets will be any different. He might get the same problems, but he might also be perfectly fit. Perhaps he has grown a new layer of skin, who the heck knows? Let’s just say that if he doesn’t reach a final, it will be more surprising than any year.

2. Roger Federer
Will he make the final? I cannot see why. Like with Rafa, for every year he plays excellent tennis on clay, the bigger the upset will be if he DOESN’T make the final. Yes, there is Djokovic, but that’s it.
His clay season has only had 1 downside. Losing to Stepanek was bad timing. That Rome title was a must-win, especially after Nadal was out. Instead he let Djokovic take it and get CLOSER and CLOSER!
He will make the final, don’t you worry.

3. Novak Djokovic
Okay. Now this is new material. This time last year, we wasn’t too far away from #3, but still wasn’t in the same position he is today. Djokovic has had a great clay season. In fact, SF, W and SF in the masters is better than the two kids further up. He played a good match against Nadal and might play another one in the SF in Paris. He is still behind Nadal on clay. Best of 5 sets, is not gonna help.

4. Davydenko
As we speak, Davydenko is playing for the title in Austria. Doesn’t he EVER get tired? He actually had to play two 3 set matches in like a half a day! Do they make robots in Russia?! So no surprise to see him in another SF against Federer. A year (or 2) ago it would not be a big upset if he lost early. These days he gets to SFs and still has points to hunt in Wimbledon. The more he plays, the better he gets it seems.

5. Ferrer & Robredo
From this point on, I don’t believe we are speaking about contenders for the title. Ferrer finished 2007 on a perfect note. 2008 has been more routine-Ferrer. He hasn’t really too many good results to show in Paris, and based on the draw he has a good chance of getting to the SF, if he wants to.
I need to place Robredo just as high. They have performed almost equally on clay, and they might meet before getting to a potential SF with Federer. A match between the two would favor Ferrer (3-1) but you never know with Ferrer.

7. Almagro
Has done a good job this season. Started things good on HC and has improved on clay. He hit a career-high rank of 17 (now 20) and this might be the year where he can break through top 10. However, HC and Grass isn’t something he loves so that would be weird. He has only 35!!! points to defend. I can see him in 4th round, this year. But playing his best clay tennis, who knows?

8. Andreev
Has not impressed anyone on clay this year. Still a clay lover and last year’s QF must be defended. He seems to perform a little better in bigger events. It all depends on that forehand.

9. Wawrinka
Will Federer be able to say that they have a strong DC team, finally?!?! Wawrinka made quite a name of himself by reaching the final in Rome. The SF that Nadal was supposed to play. So a little lucky? You frickin’ bet! HOWEVER!! he has played well this year and if he has enough points to be #10, then sure why NOT?! No realistic contender of course, but one of the few who could surprise.

10. David Nalbandian
Likes to play on clay from what I know. He just needs to grab his you-know-what and get more disciplined or something! He has bigger potential than most people believe but hasn’t done anything big since Wimbledon final almost a damn decade ago. Okay, and TMC final where he beat Federer. But why not on clay? He has two SF to show in Paris. If you can get there, you can make the final. only #10 on my list though.

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….

Dubai – seeds still in

March 6, 2008

Although Federer, Gasquet and Berdych are out, we have some strong candidates for the title. Davydenko will have to overcome Murray (I’m sure he prefers him over Federer). Murray however, struggled against Verdasco and needed a third set tie-break to take the match. Why?

Ferrer has looked strong and taking Rochus to 3 sets isn’t always a weakness for him. He will have to down Lopez who took out big gun Berdych. Battle of Espana.

Andreev, who has not started strong this year, seems to have gotten in a good rythm. He took out Gasquet in 2 and should have something to say against Djokovic. But realistically the road stops here for him.

Then there are two guys who probably will give us the more interesting match. Hard court lover Roddick against hard court trainee (but one of the best) Nadal. Nadal won their last meeting in Indian Wells but the faster court in Dubai might motivate Roddick. I underestimted Nadal the last time they met on hard, I won’t do it again. But Roddick has played well and a clean service match and he might take it. A toin coss on this one.

Road ahead for….

February 6, 2008

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)

TSONGA, TSONGA, TSONGA!

January 22, 2008

Did you see him play?! I underestimated him big BIG time. Youzhny had gone through 4 matches in an impressive way and therefore thought that Tsonga would be tough, yes, but should be a close match where the Russian prevails. No WAY! Tsonga just played better than ever! He did not miss too many shots and those that were unforced, were not in decisive rallies or points.

I just cannot find anything I would give him a B+ for. Forehand was cool and precise. Backhand reminded a lot of Safin, with the angles with the precision, with the pace. Serve was rock solid and looked pretty heavy. Volley, probably to an A+. Considering that he is like 200lbs, 90 kg, being an effective serve-volley player…. well it ain’t that easy damn it!

And that’s another thing that amazed me. His movement and court coverage was beyond impressive. I’ve seen him in action before, but never this effective on every single aspect of his game. If this guy can move like that, I think players like Safin, Roddick, Berdych…etc. should have a look and learn.

Now it’s Nadal! Can he create some history and go all the way? I still think Youzhny and his game, would do more damage to Nadal. Tsonga’s game might be the offensive type that Nadal likes to play against. Nadal adores passing shots and there should be plenty of them when they meet. But that’s over a day away.

Nadal got through his match against Nieminen with ease. Nieminen didn’t seem to interested after that first set. It’s like players lose motivation when they see that they don’t get anywhere against Rafa. Oh well, that made Nadal’s road to a HC slam a little shorter.

Tomorrow Djokovic will try to beat another speedy gonzalez. But Ferrer should be tougher than Hewitt. It really depends on Djoko. If he has some of those periods where he makes numerous errors, this match could go long. And if Ferrer hits those groundstrokes like in TMC, well the match could be a short one in his favor. Unpredictable. 51-49 to Djoko.

Federer vs Blake. 7-0. Will it be 8? I want to believe it will not, but Blake just does not have that extra something to distroy Federer. Maybe he watched the tape of the Tipsy-match and stole some ideas… Federer will have to make 100 errors for Blake to win. It may happen….

Nadal headed for a PB

January 20, 2008

Personal Best that is. Less time on court can hardly hurt Nadal. Especially if knees and legs are still a concern this week. Now he only needs to get past Nieminen (never past QF in any slam) in the QF.  Nadal is 3-0 against the Finn, but there is a big BUT. Never met on hard court. I don’t know what surface Nieminen prefers but hard court must be his best chance against Nadal. I want to think that the Finn has a chance, but it doesn’t look good. Nadal is ready for his first hard court SF, and this is his best chance!

For tomorrow, there are a lot of goodies. Federer will beat Berdych. PERIOD. Blake-Cilic is another story. This past week was Cilic’s first win in a GS event ever! Born in 88 and big serve (that works) tells me this guy will hit top 10 in a short time. Blake is excpected to win and anything else with be a major upset. Cilic advancing to QF would be a BIG achivement. So.. at lot at stake here.

And for THE MATCH of the day. Hewitt-Djokovic. These two have met twice, both winning one. Their last encounter at Wimbledon was a tiebreak fest and a nailbiter. Given that Hewitt went to bed at sunrise yesterday does not help him. Djokovic has the advantage both physically and mentally. However, Hewitt is at home and won’t give it away. It will probably be Djokovic’s first real test. WATCH IT!

And lastly there is the civil war of Spain. Two guys with almost identical last names. Ferrero-Ferrer. The story here is that even if Ferrero is the one with most titles and experience in the top, Ferrer is 4-1 h2h. Ferrer kills Ferrero on clay, but the two HC matches were close battles. But you could ask yourself… isn’t Ferrer at his best these days? He probably wasn’t as good back when they met on HC. Stats tells me Ferrer takes it in 3. But I would certainly like to see this civil war go to 5 sets.

Just a last thought…. did you know that if Youzhny makes the final (which is not impossible) he will enter top 10 and pass players like Gonzo, Gasquet and Roddick?

Player Assessment #6 & #5

November 23, 2007

Andy Roddick #6
I feel sorry in many ways for Roddick. This guy suffers most playing in the Federer era it seems. Remember that this is the guy who last had the #1 spot before Federer started his dictatorship. 2007 has been once again mixed for Roddick. He started out playing very well; actually beating Federer in the Kooyong exhibition tournament. He wanted to do that again in the AO Semifinal, but Federer does not lose grand slams semifinals. Arguably best serve in business got bageled and humiliated.
I haven’t mentionded Davis Cup for the other players, but Roddick’s record is impressive and needs to highlighted. He played and beat Berdych ON CZECH CLAY and took the DC squad to QF.

Roddick played both San Jose and Memphis before IW and Miami and lost to the players who won the tournaments in the semi of San Jose and final of Memphis. At Indian Wells I was certain that he would go all the way and win the whole thing after Federer was out. Nadal did not allow him and taught him a thing or two about how to play on hard courts.
Miami looked even more convining for Roddick, getting some easy wins until the QF against Murray where he had to retire. That injury slowed Roddick down all the way to the grass season. He played, still injured, the Davis Cup tie against Spain and won his only match.

The only impressive performance on clay was 1st round of Rome, where he beat former RG champ Gaudio 6-1, 7-6. He also played well against Andreev in Paris, but Roddick just doesn’t seem to catch a break on clay.
Roddick finally got his first title at Queen’s club, not playing great but effective tennis. Same thing in Wimbledon. I’ve seen Roddick better there before but got quite easily to QF and was only a few points away from another SF encounter with Federer. Gasquet made sure that didn’t happen by taking 3 sets in a row and shattering Roddick’s confidence.
US Open series period was probably THE biggest dissapointment for him, even with the title in Washington. Once again, only two matches stood out this whole summer. US open 3rd round against Johansson and QF against Federer. Could not have played any better in my opinion.
The rest of the season Roddick healed from another injury, but still managed to reach his only big goal for 2007, reaching the finals of DC and being able to play it at home. I’m pretty sure he won’t let this opportunity slip. Overall, including the ups and down of TMC, Roddick could have done better in 3 of the 4 slams and probably in every single tournament on hard court.
In 2008, if Roddick wants to get motivation to continue at all he need to stay injury-free and MUST BEAT FEDERER! If not, end of the road I’m afraid
Ranking: 6 to 6, topping at #3 for quite some time
Titles: 2 (only!) but 5 SF, 5 QF and 1 F shows he is close
W-L: 53-16 (76.8%)
Grade: B

David Ferrer #5
No doubt that this guy has really shown what he’s capable of on a tennis court. His potential is clearly higher than shown all these years, but this time around he has shown more consistency of great play over a longer period of time. He started out the year with a great win in Auckland and followed up with a 4R at Aussie Open. He should have won against Fish in Melbourne, but Fish was just a little better than he usually is. Then the Ferrer spotlight break was long and lasted into Indian Wells where he got taken out by Djokovic in straight sets. In Miami, Roddick took him out comfortably in R16.

Ferrer really started his confidence build-up on clay. Quarters in Monaco, Semi in Barcelona, Quarters in Hamburg are a few OK consistent performances. He also got 3 straight wins in WTC in Germany before going down against Verdasco at Roland Garros.
Clay might still be Ferrer’s best surface based on his ability to stay more consistent in clay tournaments than other types. He got his 2nd title on clay in Bastad and ended clay season in Umag with a QF. His clay record for 2007 is 22-7 which for a #16 player is not too bad.

The first highlight was actually beating defending champ Roddick in Cincy on his favorite surface. That was probably a good confidence boost after a 50-50 1st part of the season still trying to break top 10. Little did he know that he would actually do it a few weeks later after beating Nalbandian, Nadal and Chela to reach the semi-final of US Open. That gave him enought confidence to go to Tokyo (without d.champ Federer) and win the whole thing.
The problem still though is the inability to stay consistent, even though he was just that for parts of 2007. Before heading to Shanghai and destorying everybody in RR, he had 2-3 the whole indoor season! Why? No clue…
For 2008, if he wants to stay where he is today, as I don’t see him moving too many spots UP the rankings, he really needs to start beating players he knows he is better than and run on momentum like most other top players do rather than KILL it completely.
Ranking: 14 to 5!! (lowest on 16th as late as mid-August!)
Titles: 3
W-L: 72.62%
Grade: C+ (Did you just call me crazy? Fact is US Open, Tokyo and TMC were the only tournaments where he performed above expectation, that’s the +… C is for average)