Posts Tagged ‘Nalbandian’

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

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Last 4, with several top 10 players

June 13, 2008

First of all… congratulations to Nadal. What a frickin’ fighter! You’d think that he was sick and tired of getting aced at the wrong moments during his QF against IVO.. but NO. As on clay, he has that sick ability to fight back and regain lost territory. 3 tiebreaks against Karlovic would certainly not indicate an easy match for the world #2. No rest allowed from the fireguns, tomorrow 4 times champ Roddick will fire his serves at Nadal. This could be interesting. Roddick and Nadal have been the only two in the Wimbledon finals since 2004. Roddick wins like 90+% on grass and Nadal has 1400+ points in the last couple of years. Wouldn’t you say that the winner of this match is the second best grass player? I would…

The other SF will be another surprise.. Djokovic! and last but not LEAST Nalbandian who just took care of Gasquet in a third set tiebreak. Djokovic looked good today, way better than against Tipsarevic and will need to play his best in order to defeat a Nalbandian on the rise. Of the two, Nalby can say that he has been in a grass final (Wimbledon) and Djokovic has not. Won’t matter. I think it will be close as heck.

My gut tells me Roddick is slightly better than Nadal on the Queen’s club grass, even though Nadal will fight superhumanly as always. And that Djokovic somehow is more consistent than Nalbandian, even on grass, and will reach his first grass final.(I hope that’s a fact!)

Federer sailed past Baghdatis today, and IMO will be meeting Blake in the final. Somehow Queen’s seems to be superior in importance to Halle. I say give them less points over there in Germany! Less status = less points, for crying out loud! No offense, it’s public opinion…

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….

3 finals & Next week

February 24, 2008

Soderling – Llodra
Soderling has had a smooth ride into the final. I haven’t seen any match of his, but the numbers speak for themselves. He has beaten every player pretty seriously, except for Baghdatis in the first round. I think he wil be the favorite going into the final. Llodra took out the big Ivo and might be heading for his second title of this year. They have never met, and the rankings could not be less decisive… Llodra at 58th and Soderling 59th. Coin toss goes to Soderling.

Roddick – Stepanek
So Stepanek managed to dismantle Ginepri after being down 1 set. People say that he has played consistent good tennis throughout this week, but when I look at his opponents.. well I don’t really know them! Capdeville, Reynolds, Lu, Ginepri – well I’ve heard of all of them but they haven’t really pierced into my tennis memory. Roddick’s opponents quite more difficult. Guccione – in good form, Nishikori – just won a title, Fish, Garcia-Lopez.
Anyway, it will probably be close like all of their 3 previous meetings, but Roddick will grap it.

Nalbandian – Acasuso
Now here I am not so sure. Nalbandian is predictable, but Acasuso is very good when he plays his absolute best. He has overcome players like Moya, Andreev, Volandri to get here and Nalbandian might be in for a ride. Important thing is, both are Argentinians and Maradona will probably not mock the opponent this time. Should we say Nalbandian in 3 due to lack of insight?

Next week is ALSO a tennisful week, if anyone didn’t know. Apparently some of the top 10 players don’t know it. Draw for Acapulco is not out as far as I can see, but in Memphis (soon to become masters 500) has Roddick and Blake in it. 8th and last seed is Soderling. Relatively strong field but still far from ideal if this trend continues next year. Then there’s Zagreb where Ljubicic (23) is top seed with Karlovic (24) as second. I still cannot see how all of the other top players benefit from NOT playing tennis in several weeks.

Federer still not activity since Aussie Open, Nadal failing miserably against Seppi in Rotterdam this week, Djokovic *cough, cough* sick sick sick (?), Davydenko has probably aged.. he used to play almost every week… the list goes on.

Lets just hope that Dubai will be a firecracker as a result of this “absence”. Strongest 32 draw in quite some time and we will see how players who play these two weeks will do in Dubai.
BTW.. what the hell happened to Tsonga?!

No top 5 players in sight, but…

February 23, 2008

There are plenty of players who show great potential for the upcoming master’s mania in March. One of them is Karlovic. He has played a picture perfect tournament so far, and based on ranking, is the favorite to clinch it tomorrow. Michael Llodra stands in his way today, who also has performed over his ability in Rotterdam. Both players show straight set wins over good players. On the other half, Gilles Simon and Robin Soderling seem just as strong. Soderling-Simon is hard to predict, but Karlovic’s 6-4, 6-4, win over Berdych is so impressive that I will give him the edge against Llodra.

I believe this year could be it for the big Ivo, and will probably have to win a lot on grass to achieve something before he gets old. Maybe finally win at Queen’s club?

Or maybe Roddick won’t allow him this year either. Roddick beat his pal Fish in 3 sets in San Jose and will hit Spain’s!! Garcia-Lopez in the semis. Fish had plenty of opportunities in the first set and won the second 6-1! I think it was Fish’s lack of ability rather than Roddick’s excellence that decided the outcome. Stepanek is another guy who looks back on track, but he will have to beat Ginepri who simply tore Blake apart 6-2, 6-2 in the QF. It might just be an all American final here.

By the way… if any of you saw Isner-Garcia-Lopez, please tell us what the hell separated the two… 7-6(4), 6-7(1), 7-6(11) tells me this match was relatively close, right? I imagine that Isner was inches away from victory and Garcia-Lopez was less than a game from defeat in second set. Based on this, Garcia-Lopez will probably struggle against Roddick tonight.

And on the red clay, Nalbandian seems to be on his way back, but I don’t know if he has had the real test yet. He will meet Chela in the SF, while Volandri and Acasuso will fight for the second spot. This could go Nalby’s way and catapult him into success in March. Err….maybe not solely based on this, but still a kick.

BTW, the post title could have been “no top 10 players in sight, but….” if Roddick wasn’t around. Federer, Nadal, Djoko, Davy, Ferrer, Gasquet, Youzhny, Blake, Murray… what the hell are they doing? Is losing early a part of their prep plan for Dubai and Indian Wells?

And I don’t really understand why Federer, will go through January and February only having played ONE tournament! 6 competitive matches! How is this good prep for Dubai?

TOP Australian Open contenders (pre-Draw)

January 10, 2008

I had eight of these for US Open, and I don’t see the value in consuming any time on more than one or two. HOWEVER! If Federer would get beaten early on, there would be several potentials. Anyway here is the list of potenital Aussie Open champs 2008

1. Federer 90%
We are talking about the fact that there are more than one or two contenders for this title. But can you imagine Federer NOT winning it? Really hard. The appearance of Nalby might be an important factor, but Federer is statistically impossible to beat on hard court slams these days. Less prep and a troublesome stomach virus gives him only 90% chance from me.
DRUMROLL…..

2. Djokovic (3%)
I gave this guy no chance of making the final in New York due to the brutal draw and fatigue issues along the way. But not only did he make it, he had set points against Federer in a slam final! A 20-year old Djoker! Give me one good reason to doubt him again! I would have gone and said that the draw would be crucial, as he is 3rd seed, but he seems to beat anyone. I don’t know if not playing any event would profit him but after a lame end to 07, he should be fired up and ready to go.

3. Nalbandian 2,5%
IF he shows up, I put him right after Djokovic. Why? Because he seems to beat Federer all the time, but the lower ranked players are obviously more difficult for him. I haven’t heard any news on him but I assume he will not withdraw before the draw tomorrow. If he sees his name in the same half as Federer… please consider to play anyway! If he is 100% fit, this should be his chance (last?) to get a slam. He needs this momentum to succeed.

4. Andy Roddick 2%
Who? What? Am I crazy? I am still going to state that this man is a great underachiever, and that he deserves more titles and GS to his name. I would really be careful of placing him in front of Nadal, but if I would say which of the two is more motivated and ready for a hard court inferno in Melbourne, it’s Roddick. Ending last year with Davis Cup title cannot be a bad thing right? I would actually put him up there with Djokovic if he had a more balanced h2h against Federer, but unfortunately ending up in the same half (or quarter) just means bye bye.

5. Nadal 1,5%
Nadal is a slam winner and two time finalist. Only Federer has a better record in this department. BUT!!!! QF is his best in hard court slamming. That’s almost a curse cuz he’s so much better than most other players on hard court as well. Perhaps his knees only accepts one week of hard court play? Fact is that you cannot rule him out. He did great in Indian Wells last year and clearly has more potential than most other players. Results and questionable knees are the big setbacks for him.

6. Hewitt and Murray 1%
Couldn’t pick one of the two. They share this last spot for completely different reasons. Hewitt is at home and Aussie Open title must be number one priority on his list. Two finals say he deserves it. However his results in the last few GS and tournaments say NO WAY. I would give him more chance if he’d gone and completed the two Aussie tournaments with respectable results, like at least one title. The fact that he is losing to guys he should take down with ease is reason enough to doubt him. Even Guccione (125) beat him. What can you expect then? Murray is a different story. He has not performed better than R16 in a slam, but played very well in Doha and ended last year relatively good after missing out much of the early summer action. Murray is still very much work in progress, and needs time. Therefore only a shared 1% chance with Hewitt from me.

Eventful 24 hrs

January 9, 2008

First. Not only is Federer in trouble (if he still is). Nalbandian has really screwed up his momentum, IF he pulls out of AO. While practising at the Kooyong exhibition tournament he got some problems with his back. Unable to hit the court a short weekend before the slam, does not look good. This resulted in Gonzo getting a w.o. in a match where the only incentive is to play, not neccessarily win. Don’t know if he is still in the tournament, but yesterday 3 matches where completed and they all had an element of suprprise.

Baggy scored big time by taking down Russian #1 Davydenko. 2-1 but still, Baggy hasn’t performed in a long time, and this is a good win. I predicted we would see tie-break(s) in the the Roddick-Ljubicic match…. once again predicting skills are rock bottom. Roddick took it quick and painful 6-3, 6-0.  And perhaps the biggest surprise, Murray lost to Safin. Like i wrote yesterday, Safin hasn’t won two matches in a row since July. Beating Murray in straight sets, regardless of how jet lagged or tired Murray felt, is a great boost for him. I don’t think Murray and Ljubicic can blame it all on the trip and resulting jet lag from Doha. It’s been two whole days and plenty of rest. Anyway… today’s matches are Murray-Ljubicic, Safin-Roddick, Davydenko-Klein?. Who the hell is Klein? Where is Baggy and Gonzo? I don’t know what’s going on down there.

As if Kooyong wasn’t filled with confusion and surprises, Mr Hewitt is probably not the best pick for the Aussie Open title. His big Aussie friend Guccione (WC) took him down in two breakers in Sydney. Top seed and AO hope Gasquet was also eliminated by Tursunov. If there is one guy who has played very well in the last 4 months or so, it must be Santoro. Has beaten Roddick, Blake, Djokovic + Karlovic on grass back at Wimbledon. I actually think he can take the title. Beating Korolev then Tursunov… not impossible.

On the other side, Berdych and Stepanek are most likely to fill the SF spots. In Auckland, I think the four seeded players are all heading towards the title, with Ferrer as a slight favorite.

Year-End Player Assessment

November 19, 2007

Let us look at #10 and #9. The ones just missing out of Shanghai. How has 2007 treated them?

#10 Tommy Robredo
The #3 player in Spain is actually one of the most experienced by now and has been playing on the pro tour since 2001 when he shot up to #30. 2007 has not been a bad year, but he’s been locked in the shadow of Ferrer and Nadal who happen to be better.

The face is 2007 started out quite good for Robredo. In Auckland he made the final and lost to Ferrer which also gave him a good 6th seed for Aussie Open. In Melbourne he made a good run to the QF where he (as most other players) was shot down by The Roger.

Another QF followed in Rotterdam where he lost to Djokovic in 3 sets. If people would’ve known what lies in Djokovic (then ranked 14) this loss is actually not a bad performance.
In Indian Wells Gilles Simon fired past Robredo and sent him to Miami, where he lost in the QF against Canas. Remember him? The guy who was in a Federer-killing mood in March?

The first obvious dissapointment came with the clay season, where he usually collects most of his ranking points. His best results were a SF in Estoril and the QF in Roland Garros, once again taking a beating from Federer.

Grass did not work out this year either and Wimbledon ended in 2nd round against the oldy Arthurs. Robredo continued on clay and played Bastad, Stuttgart, Kitzbuhel, and Sopot. First three were no good at all, though he got his first title of the season in Sopot.

From that point on he did not restore his best tennis until after the USO where he made the 3rd round and got a lesson from Gulbis. That sent the poor man down to #11.

In September and October things changed as he got to the final in Beijing and won Metz. That would perhaps have built up his confidence and give him enough points to qualify for Shanghai. That was not the case as he failed to perform in Madrid, Lyon and Paris, where he needed quite a few points to be competitive in the race. Overall, just OK

Ranking: 7 to 10, high at #5
Titles: 2
W-L: 49-26 (65.3%)
Grade: C

#9 David Nalbandian
If this was end of September, this guy would not get this spot in the blog! It was even a coincidence point-wise that he made the top 10. Nalbandian is a great player, when he plays with some consistency and stability. He started out the year in top 10, made the R16 in Melbourne and got some below average results in the start. The problem is that he had some big points to defend from 2006 and was not able to defend too many of them. By the time they hit the clay in Europe, he was #12. After Roland Garros Nalby was out of top 20. He actually entered Wimbledon as #25. The problem was that the first half of 2006 he was playing better than ever and this spring he had no results to show. In the fall there were less points to defend and showed that he had some skills against Ferrer in New York. He lost it, but the 5 set encounter was a breath of fresh air for Nalby fans. He’s still around!

Prior to October 15th his best result was a QF in Barcelona! 4th, 4th, 3rd, and 3rd rounds at the slams. Not top 10 material. I don’t know what sort of preparation he did for the last two masters tournaments, but Nalby was back to his early 2006 level. In Madrid he took out the three best players in the world in three days. A couple of weeks later he managed to beat Nadal, Gasquet, and Federer to get his second AMS title in a month. Now people are talking about him being a favorite for AO. I can see why!

Ranking: 8 to 9, but hitting a deep, deep low at #26 in the summer.
titles: 2 AMS
W-L: 31-18 (63.3%)
Grade: C+ (yeah! that’s right)

Groups ready today

November 7, 2007

And the news is that Nalbandian is not going to play anyway. Even if there is a last minute withdraw he is going to stay put. Roddick and Davydenko have both confirmed that they will play in Shanghai, so there was no reason for him to stick around.

Are there any threats for Federer? I don’t think so. Nadal might be on the rise and have a possibility in the final. Maybe a Federer-Nadal final? Federer-Djokovic?
Roddick can go SF if he gets the Nadal group and not the Federer group. But then, Federer probably awaits. Daveynko can also go SF, but I think Gasquet and Ferrer can and should beat him. I have an ugly feeling about Gonzalez. I think 0-3 is the outcome for him. But, HEY… do I have good predicting skills?! HAHAHA Just look at the post further down where I was certain that Nadal would win the final in two sets…