Posts Tagged ‘Youzhny’

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.

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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….

QF are ready to roll

January 21, 2008

… and I think the last 8 players are 8 best right now.

No big surprises in today’s 4th round. Djokovic beat a willing, but tired Hewitt. Ferrer beat his friend Ferrero as expected. Federer did not need 5 sets to send big serving Berdych home.

Tomorrow’s matches are the bottom two. First up in the mid-day heat, Nadal will have to overcome Nieminen. I think it’s comparable to Federer-Berdych. Nadal will take it in three but with some problems on the road. It seems like Nadal has been able to play better for every match and should be headed for his first hard court SF.

Now Youzhny vs Tsonga is a different story. Youzhny seems to handle defensive players quite well, but I don’t know if Tsonga will allow Youzhny to hit his backhand to often. Some people think Tsonga will get an easier match this time, compared to Gasquet. I think it depends on how well Tsonga is able to serve. If he can serve and be effective on the net, like against Murray, then he will be in a good position to take it. If Tsonga plays well enough in his own serve, he should be in a good, confident position to hunt for a break of serve. I would have liked to see these two in separate matches because I want them both to win. But as Youzhny has tried longer and is somewhat older I will probably want to see him in a potential SF against Nadal.  He also stands a better chance against Nadal than what Tsonga does. But that’s far in the future and just silly predictions.

“New” names emerge.

January 20, 2008

I try to be as neutral as possible. But I’m not! Why would I want to see Davydenko in a QF or SF, when I can get Youzhny up there? Even with Youzhny having the potential to beat most players on the tour, there was probably not much doubt that Davydenko would take the match. With some struggle, with some sweat and maybe even tears…

Instead, Youzhny played like a champ and took the match in 3 straight forward sets, playing better and better for each one.

Another one of my favorites is mr. Tsonga. I remember wanting to see him beat Gasquet at Wimbledon. Gasquet took that one. So who should naturally take this one? YUP, Tsonga! 6-2, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3

Awesome display (reliable sources say) about this late bloomer. Now it’s going to be a late bloomer show as he will take on Youzhny in the QF. What is a little fun, is that if Nadal advances, I really think any of these two can beat Nadal in the SF. We know Youzhny could, and Tsonga’s play is quite well suited for a Nadal semi final.

As I really did excpect, Kohlscheiber ran out of fuel and was nowhere near the play he showed against Roddick. Serve was back to normal or even worse. Still became a close battle as Nieminen isn’t the most reliable player either. Best man won either way and will wait for Mathieu or Nadal in the QF.

Speaking of which… Does the horrible record against Nadal mean anything to him? I have seen some of his time on court here and he seems to be playing his best tennis. Last meeting went to 3 sets on the hard courts in Canada. This could easily go to 5 sets if Mathieu is his regular self, but I won’t rule him out just yet. If Gilles Simon can make Nadal sweat and almost take a set, the more talented and experienced Mahtieu will dig deeper.

Youzhny d. Nadal

January 6, 2008

Not the first time, probably no the last either. But the numbers, damn! 6-0, 6-1!! Nadal had absolutely no answers in today’s match against the Russian, who consistently ripped deep groundstrokes almost every rally. Nadal seemed a little off physically and at 4-1 in the second called in the trainer. I am sure only to say that “I’m dead tired”.

What was most stunning was not how poor Nadal performed, because he did hit an awful lot of unforced, but the way Youzhny seems to handle Nadal’s extreme topspin. That one-handed backhand is sometimes just magic. Being able to blast those off at Nadal is something even Federer has trouble doing.

Youzhny also aced Nadal quite a lot and won many points off his serve. Close to perfect day at the office for Youzhny and great revenge from the defeat in Wimbledon, when he was up 2-0. 

The questions is, how important was this tournament for Nadal? Yesterday’s 4 hour SF, emptied his batteries quite a lot, and was it really necessary for him, with the knees and all? I would rather see Nadal contesting in Kooyong classic rather than getting these tough early matches that have injury written all over them.

Regardless of why he lost with 12-1 is two sets, Youzhny seems to know what he needs to do in order to beat Nadal. Deep groundstrokes with little spin and low bounce is not Nadal’s favorite. Most of his errors came of good deep shots by Youzhny. If you guys remember Nadal-Roddick in Indian Wells, that was exactly one of the problems for the American. He his most of his groundstrokes well inside the baseline, too often inside the service line. That is suicide against Nadal, and if Youzhny would have done that today, he would be the 6-0, 6-1 loser. Certainly easier said than done!

In Doha Murray claimed his 4th title and is good to go for Aussie Open. The kid needs to keep his head cold and start winning the important points.

Llodra won in Australia defeating Nieminen in the final. I don’t think Australia is very happy with their chances at the Open this year either. Hewitt must at least beat these lower ranked players. He doesn’t seem to have any chance against the top players.

Tomorrow there is action in Syndey and Auckland. Gasquet leads a strong field in Sydney with several top 20-25 players and Auckland has Ferrer as top seed with A lot of clay court nerds.

Moya! How many match points do you need?!

January 5, 2008

… to kick Nadal down? I was dead positive Moya would take the match in the second breaker. What does he do? Throw it all away to the kid. Come on!!

Nadal will meet the much feared Youzhny in the Chennai final. Might be another killer.

Davis Cup final draw

November 30, 2007

The Russians have decided to exclude Davydenko from the singles matches, which I was sure they would. Davydenko has 0-11 against Roddick and Blake. So h2h-wise it was probably the right thing to do. In addition we know that Youzhny’s and Turnunov’s play is more effective on faster courts and it was probably the right thing to do.

Roddick and Blake have not played Youzhny and Tursunov a lot, and total h2h count between these four is 5-3 for the Americans. Roddick has had a few close matches with Youzhny, but has won the last 3. He also got that marathon clay-inferno last year where Tursunov took the decider at 17-15!! Don’t think it will happen in Portland.

Doubles? Well….. Bryan/Bryan is the world’s best doubles team. Andreev/Dayvdenko is NOT the best doubles team. The Bryans simply cannot lose this match.

Here is the final schedule:

Friday
Roddick v Tursunov
Blake v Youzhny

Saturday
Bryan/Bryan v Andreev/Davydenko

Sunday
Roddick v Youzhny
Blake v Tursunov

Who will win today?
Roddick gave Tursunov some of his Wimbledon-prep play at Queen’s club this year, taking the SF in straight sets. I see something like that happening again. Best of five can be in Tursunov’s favor but only if he plays well. Where has he been the last few months? Well last week he made the final of a challanger in Ukraine and lost in straight sets to world # 102! Last good performance was his title in Bangkok in September and Indianapolis this summer.
Roddick doesn’t lose too many DC matches on fast surface and he is so close to achieving one of his top goals in his career he can smell it already. Roddick takes it in 3

Blake has had the same type of form as Tursunov. Last good performance was Stockholm and then back in the US opens series period. Youzhny has had a few good performances, but not good enough to stick around and fight for 10th spot anymore. QF in Paris, SF in St.Petersburg are the only ones where he played ok. I think it’s more open than the first one, but Blake is better at closing up sets once he’s on a roll. Might be a match with several breaks each set or a close one with tie-breakers and excellent play. Lets hope for the latter. I think Blake will win, mostly because I doubt Youzhny will handle the pressure IF Roddick wins the first match.

Nalbandian through

November 2, 2007

He did it. Barely though. David is a hard nut to crack, but he does the most awkward errors seen on a pro tennis court. He was playing splendidly and relatively consistent when he got to 3-4 in the second set tie-break serving for the next two points. He made two errors that reminded me of my own game after two years of tennis. Ferrer took the set, and Nalby had to sweat out the third as well. He broke early, got broken back, then broke back and once again, and got the set and match. He needs to build up some consistency and keep his nerves under control.
Now Nadal-Youzhny is up… I say Youzhny in two!

Will Gonzalez qualify?

October 30, 2007

Well… he is history in Paris, taken out by Youzhny today and got only 1 point. That might be enough, but now his spot is open for anyone who can do some damage in Paris. Murray? Haas just won and got 15 points I think. Robredo? Blake? Plenty of players who can get around SF which brings 50 points. Gonzalez will be knocked out if two of these make SFs.

Race still open and we are in the final lap!

W-L ranking

October 17, 2007

I think that ranking the best players according to their winning % is in many cases more accurate than point distribution. I wanted to prove to a friend that Davydenko doesn’t even belong in the top 10. I even said that Andy Murray could take his place. Am I right? Well.. I will do it again after Shanghai, but so far (as of Monday) here is the list based on winning %.

1. Roger Federer 90%
2. Rafael Nadal 84.9%
3. Novak Djokovic 82.3%
4. Andy Roddick 79.7%
5. David Ferrer 74.3%
6. Andy Murray 73.9%
7. Tommy Haas 71.7%
8. James Blake 70.4%
9. Juan Monaco 70.4%
10. Richard Gasquet 69.8%
11. Mikhail Youzhny 68.8%
12. Lleyton Hewitt 68.6%
13. Ivan Ljubicic 67.7%
14. Tomas Berdych 67.2%
15. Tommy Robredo 67.1%
16. Guillermo Canas 66.7%
17. Carlos Moya 66.7%
18. Nikolay Davydenko 64.9%
19. Juan Ignacio Chela 64.5%
20. Fernando Gonzalez 62.7%

Gonzalez is a good example of what I mean. He made the final of AO and had some good tournaments last year + final of Rome this year. But that’s pretty much it. Is he a top 10 player? 32-19 is not impressive at all. Doesn’t matter what titles or finals you achieved, but 32-19 is quite poor if you want to make the top 10 cut.

The ranking also shows the level of dominance from Federer and Nadal, and of course Djokovic as well. He has played a lot and made incredible runs at all slams but AO. Next year might, and should, be even better for him I presume.

Another example is Roddick vs. Davydenko. If these two met, I would put my savings on Roddick. Not only is he 4-0 h2h, but also wins roughly 80% of his matches. Davydenko wins only 65%. We know that Davydenko plays a lot! Still he has only played 77 matches this year, and Roddick 64. Roddick has skipped several important tournaments and had he played them he would have been on court almost as much as Davydenko, even with many fewer tournaments.

I don’t think it’s bad that the ranking favors players who play a lot, but I think that W-L ratio paints the picture more accurately.

other stats:
most wins: Djokovic 65
least wins: Gonzo 32
top loser: Davydenko 27!
bottom loser: Federer 6
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