Posts Tagged ‘Nadal’

Historic day

August 18, 2008

Good job Nadal!

A little fact for you, just to show how much Rafa has deserved to finally top the ranking. He tops it now with 6700 points, but he has struggled since 2005 to believe how far away from Federer he has been over the years. HOWEVER, he really deserves it if we measure his accomplishments compared to the #1 players before the Federer era started. Andy Roddick was the last man standing at #1 before this, with 4535 points. I think this was his peak in the amount of points. Nadal, on the other hand, has been sitting on 4535 points several times during these three years. September 19th 2005, only a couple of months after hitting the #2 spot, he was up at 4475 points, and miles away from #1. He has gone up and down, like any other player, but his rise is remarkably constant considering that his clay season has been almost perfect every year, while a natural drop would occur during hard. The point is that he played poorly on hard in 05, better in 06, even better in 07, and 08 he has already won two Masters on hard + Wimbledon. So from September 2005, he has pretty much deserved to at least be associated with the top spot. Almost three years later, he can finally look at it and say “I’m better than Federer.”

Here they are. Medals for three very different nations.

August 17, 2008

Tennis nations that is. Chile has really carved itself into Olympics history by having players in the Olympic final the last two events, Nadal has given Spain a whole new respect in tennis this year, which is also true for Djokovi’s Serbia. Chile has had several good players over the years, but isn’t known for producing a large amount of them. There has been a lot from Spain, but most have done their job on clay. Now Nadal does it on every surface. This will probably go into history as one of the best years for a singles player (winning RG, Wimb AND Gold on hard) That’s hard stuff!

Nadal had no problems giving Gonzo the hard court lesson by two easy breaks of serve in the 1st and 3rd sets, with a slightly closer 2nd set tiebreak. The best man (without too much doubt) won the Gold medal. A very dedicated Olympics nation won the silver, and a new force in tennis got the Bronze. Good Job guys!

Now the biggest open of the fall, the US Open is 1 week away.

BTW… go to atptennis.com and look closely for a historic moment in about 5 or 6 hours.

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.

New World #1

August 2, 2008

The question is now, when? If he loses to Novak tonight, he’s gonna have to wait another couple of weeks before passing Federer. If he wins, but loses the final, he will have to wait another week, I believe. But best of all, if he wins the whole damn thing, he will get a sweet winning streak from April and #1 position on Monday. Can he pass Novak? I see NO reason why not.

In the other SF a couple of “newcomers” have entered the arena. Karlovic is one big man, and Murray has started to play very consistent compared to earlier in his career. This time in 2006 he defeated the virtually unbeatable Federer, but was losing many 1st rounders. This year he is reaching several QFs and SFs.

Who will play the final? Is it possible to NOT pick Nadal? The guy isn’t losing matches anymore. And do I dare guess that Karlovic will hit 10+aces? Scoreline will be something like 7-6, 6-7, 7-6. Murray is a good returner so I can’t tell who wins the third set tiebreak. I go with Murray.

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!

Nadal wins after almost 5hrs!

July 6, 2008

One of the best tennis matches I have ever witnessed in my 23 years on the face of the planet. This is by far the most intense, well-played, dramatic, multiple variabled, entertaining, nerve wrecking, nail biting match people of the newer and younger generation has ever seen. I don’t really know how people in the 70s, 80s and 90s were while watching this type of match, but I can’t come up with a comparison. We are in 2008, and the tennis is being played at an incredible and fantastically high level. Yes there are still unforced errors, but not once have I been more impressed in a Grand Slam final.

I thought I was speechless (and I was), but it’s easier to write. Nadal won a match, where he was ahead pretty much all the way. Federer was dangerously close to loss after 3 and 4 sets, but managed to pull his game together and get us into one of the best Grand Slam finals of all time. Winners were outstanding, aces came at critical points, passing shots were illeagally beautiful and power shots were picture perfect. This match lacked nothing! Rain delays, comebacks, championships points that were saved, stunning winners, stunning errors, stunning serves, stunning returns, stunnings rallies, and I could go on like this for quite some time, but I cannot come up with ONE thing that was disapointing during this match.

Nadal won 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7.  (I almost wrote 10-8, you kinda lose track of the figures). Is it really possible to analyze the match?!

Well, it was probably impossible to predict that Nadal would go on and win the first two, only to lose the next two and go to 9-7 in the fifth as the sky turned dark. If, I said, IF, Federer was able to hold (or break) and make it 8-8, the match would be finished tomorrow. Not only can be say that the match was decided on an inch, or millimeter, but it was decided with the minutes and seconds of daylight still remaining to get a champion tonight. The initial rain delay didn’t have too much contribution, but it did make the match go into darkness. But as Nadal started to play, there was a clear sign that he was the one to beat on grass this year. Or on any surface for that matter. He was playing a controlled and solid game both on serve and on return. Broke Mr. Rogerer in the first set and held incredebly all the way through it. Rafa got broken quickly in the second set, and everything was indicating a 1-all score. Did anyone get flashbacks from Hamburg perhaps?! Fed(erer) had a friggin 4-1 lead and was able to piss it away! Or was it Nadal’s phenomenal play that decided it?! A solid and great combination IMO. Federer did his share of unforced, but the wind was NASTY before the rain came in.

Okay, Rafa broke back and took the set. At 6-4, 6-4 there was a clear sign that this would be Rafa’s year. He played better than Roger, played the important points better, which always is the deciding factor on these occasions, and would most likely take the 3rd set as well. Roger held serve, and once more and once more, although Nadal seemed very solid during the entire 3rd set. Probably the most exciting set of the tournament at that point. Tiebreaker! Who was favorite. According to statistics, Nadal. But who gives a rat’s behind!? Tiebreak statistics are stupid and Roger was solid and proved to the world that world #1 is not gonna lose to world #2 in straight sets TWO TIMES IN A ROW! 2-1!

That fourth set is probably an ABC in how to play the game of tennis for ALL tennis players out there. You find forehand winners, ditto on backhand, volleys, passing shots, serves, drop shots, killer slices, returns, every damn aspect of the game! Even friggin MENTAL strength is possible to watch! Who was strongest mentally during the 4th set?! Well as Federer won, I think Federer! Even if Nadal had a 5-2 lead in the breaker or whatever it was. 2-all. Not bad, not bad at all!

Final set, and Roger and Rafa need to prove what the heck they are worth, figuratively speaking. Call me crazy, but the rain delays seem to have worked in Fed’s favor. At 2-all when they were interrupred, Nadal seemed strong as heck. Right after the delay, Federer was serving huge, hitting huge winners and playing his best. Am I crazy?! Nadal had break points on two occasions before he broke him! Right, but Federer was holding serve more comfortably than he had during the entire match, without THESE two break points opportunities. Even on Nadal’s serves, he looked very dangerous and I thought throughout this entire set that Federer is looking better than Nadal. The fact that Federer was still making more errors than Nadal was a results of the diffferent playing styles, no suprise. And that’s why he lost. A couple (yeah… like 2!!) balls he hit wide or in the middle of the net, which he couldn’t afford to. That’s why he lost. I genuinely think he looked stronger during that 5th set! Nadal played better for much of the other 4 sets and probably got what he deserved in the end, which was a VITAL break of serve. Federer hit the biggest, and the most inhuman and sickest return on the first match point, but couldn’t hold his shaking body together for the second (which was like match point #4 or 5 in total).

Deserved win is my verdict, but when a Grand Slam final, and not any slam, Wimbledon finals goes to 7-all in the final set, both players deserve the win. This match deserves to be watched when teaching kids how to play tennis, to replace coffee, to give people heart attacks, but also as a defibrilator. I think I’m gonna purchase this final and watch it every time I even consider tennis as a boring sport (which it certainly isn’t) or just if I’m in a bad mood.

This final will definetely end up as the best final every played. I said best! Borg-McEnroe in 80 was exciting, but these guys hit errors and did all sorts of junk. It was a nail biter, but I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a better final in the quality of tennis either! Nearly five hours and the best man of this spring wins and steals Federer’s 65 incredible winning streak on grass. 65 doesn’t sound too incredible, but that’s 6 (six) friggin years!!!!! Fantastic Nadal! And I want to congratulate him for his hard effort and his fantastic athletisism. His game has brought so much to tennis, especially this rivalry with Federer, which is far from over. I assume Federer will be more motivated to hunt down Nadal in Paris and give him the first loss there EVER, and maybe steal the golden trophy back. We all know Federer is capable, and that Nadal will be there to prevent it. I cannot wait!

Right now, Nadal deserves all the credit he can get from all fans, and go into this final part of the year with the hopes of breaking the #1 barrier. As he has achieved the unthinkable, this now looks like a very possible outcome in a few months’ time. He almost never has A LOT of poinst to defend in the fall, so here is his chance to get ahead of the great Roger. Fantastic performance from both and lets just hope that US Open will be a small fraction as entertaining. That will do!

Bravo Nadal!

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.