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Archive for April 2nd, 2008

Rafa’s blog from Miami. From Katie. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 2, 2008

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, shakes the sweat off his body after defeating James Blake, of the United States,  3-6, 6-3, 6-1 during a quarterfinals match at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla. Wednesday, April 2, 2008.   

Katie

Here’s a link to Rafa’s blog from Miami at Tennis.com. I enjoyed the match today and was glad Rafa won. I like James too, but Rafa’s got my heart.

http://tennis.com/tournaments/2008/sonyericsson/sonyericsson.aspx?id=123358

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Federer-Roddick clash. Here we go again? Or is it different this time?

Posted by tennisplanet on April 2, 2008

Roger Federer of Switzerland looks on against Jose Acasuso of Argentina during day nine of the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on April 1, 2008 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) 
 

Federer leads 15-1. That stat alone must have defeated Roddick mentally, even before he stepped on the court against Federer. It’s been a futile exercise, no matter what he tries there’s an answer shooting back at him with even more mustard.

Andy Roddick celebrates after winning the second set 6-3 against Julien Benneteau during the fourth-round match at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla., Tuesday, April 1, 2008. Roddick won 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.  

There are many indicators here that point to a new outcome this time.

Have you noticed Federer has not had that easy a time with his early round matches as he has had at the AO and at Indian Wells?

AO:

1st round: 6-0, 6-3, 6-0.
2nd round: 6-1, 6-2, 6-0.
3rd round: Never mind – Tipsy.

Indian Wells:

1st round: 6-3, 6-2.
2nd round: 6-1, 6-1.
3rd round: 6-3, 6-4.

Miami:

1st round: 6-3, 6-4.
2nd round: 6-4, 3-0 -retd.
3rd round: 7-6, 6-2.

Roger Federer, of Switzerland, keeps his eyes on the ball as he returns shot from Jose Acasuso, of Argentina, during a fourth-round match at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla. Tuesday, April 1, 2008.  

Is that good or bad? It could be good in terms of him getting some quality time on the court, or it could be deflating to know he is not able to dispose off the tomato cans like he did at the other two events.

But Federer should be happy to see Roddick across the net. It reminds him of old times and how he used to beat up on Roddick over and over again. For the first time in his career Roddick is coming into an event with having won more titles than Federer for the season. He has two titles – San Jose and Dubai. At Dubai, he beat both Djokovic and Nadal back to back on his way to the finals against Lopez.

So Roddick is coming in with some momentum. But he was there end of last year too when he helped US win the Davis Cup and then folded against Kohlschreiber at the AO in five sets right after that. Can he get his act together this time and follow Nadal in conquering his nemesis and turn back the miserable H2H record?

If there’s any time to do it, it’s right here. Federer is still feeling his way back on the tour after being wobbled by illness, lack of match play and who knows what else? Federer’s record after turning 26 clearly shows a marked decline.

Andy Roddick celebrates after defeating Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic during day eight of the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 31, 2008 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) 

‘Strike when the iron is hot’ moment has arrived for Roddick. Wins over Djokovic and Nadal this month should be a great backdrop to start with to draw strength and belief.

If Roddick is able to pull off a miracle here, his chances of getting that ‘one slam wonder’ monkey off his back will receive a huge boost. This could be that proverbial one match that may fill his sails with the second wind to enable him nurse his wounds of disappointments on the big stage.

But Roddick’s stats so far in this event do not offer much hope for him advancing any further. He has clocked almost six hours on the court, is serving at just 58 percent, his unforced errors are shooting through the roof at 85 for three matches (that’s 28 per match). Silver lining? He is averaging 11 aces per match, but that can change radically against Federer as it has in the past, if the Federer of old shows up.

Federer, on the other hand, has stats that are downright scary. He is serving at 75 freaking percent. He had 12 aces in his last match, and has just 37 unforced errors (that’s 12 per match) in three matches. He has clocked just 3:03 on court. That may actually go against Federer under current conditions.

But overall, the way the two games match up against each other, it’s still difficult to imagine Roddick winning two sets against even this Federer. But Roddick did defeat Djokovic and Nadal back to back, something I would have never predicted.

So is it really time for 2-15 or are we shooting for 20-1?

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Nadal storms into his third semifinal of the season. Can he go any further?

Posted by tennisplanet on April 2, 2008

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates a point against US opponent James Blake during the quarterfinals of the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Florida. Nadal rallied for a three-set victory over James Blake Wednesday to book his semi-final berth at the Sony Ericsson Open.  

He reached the semifinals at the AO and Indian Wells too. He also has one finals at Chennai and one quarterfinals at Dubai. But despite all that he has no title going into his backyard next month.

All his five losses this year have come at the hands of five different players. That should bother Nadal if he is planning to do some damage in the second half of the season, unlike last two years when he was brought down by injuries and fatigue.

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating James Blake  3-6, 6-3, 6-1 during a quarterfinals match at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla. Wednesday, April 2, 2008.  

Nevertheless, this is a great victory for Nadal, even better than the win he had at Indian Wells over Blake. Why? First, it consolidates his supremacy over his nemesis. It was not just a fluke, it was meticulous execution of a new strategy to negate Blake’s risky but at times effective game against him. The tables have been finally turned. Maybe Blake is losing his timing and movement at 28, but I think it has more to do with the new found conviction and belief Nadal is playing this year in part due to that No. 1 carrot hanging on his windshield.

This has to be a huge confidence booster for Nadal. It may have come at just the right time, since he will need that confidence and more to overcome his next potential opponent, Berdych, who is having a better tournament on paper than he is. He is another player Nadal has never defeated on hard courts, and the way Berdych has disposed off opponents so far, it looks like a battle royal brewing up.

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating James Blake during day ten of the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on April 2, 2008 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) 

But these two victories over Blake and the one over Tsonga barely a week ago, proves that he can adapt and adjust his game on hard courts now, to the extent that he can take away the big weapons of his opponents with his grinding aggressive play.

Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic returns a shot against Juan Carlos Ferrero of  Spain during day seven of the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 30, 2008 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) 

But Berdych has clocked such low minutes on the court that he looks fresh and Tsonga-like. But Berdych is serving his first serves at just 51 percent so far compared to 70 percent for Nadal, although Berdych is more able to fire up aces to compensate for that weakness.

Nadal has to again go back to the drawing board and work out a winning strategy and execute it to perfection to set up a final meeting with Federer. He is more likely to defeat Federer than Berdych for many and obvious reasons. That would be a perfect way to go into his beloved clay season to mount his best assault on the top post.

Is this going to be the Miami for Berdych as it was for Djokovic last year? Berdych has the weapons but lacks the versatility of a Djokovic or a Federer. But since both are missing here, one in person and the other in spirit, can he make that quantum jump here and beat the world’s top two dogs back to back?

Stats certainly do support him. Is he the new black sheep breaking away from the herd this year? Answer coming up in couple of days.

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Watch Youzhny open up his own head with the racket and bleed. Geeeeezzzz!!!!

Posted by tennisplanet on April 2, 2008

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Federer vs Acasuso. From Sarah. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 2, 2008

Sarah

Federer vs Acasuso.

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Federer’s interview after Acasuso match. From Sarah. Good work. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 2, 2008

Sarah |

R. FEDERER/J. Acasuso

7‑6, 6‑2

An interview with:

ROGER FEDERER

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously pretty good serving day, would you say?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it’s always nice when you feel well from the beginning on your serve. Again, it was quite some wind on the court again, not as much from the side but more from the behind.
You could really serve well from one end and have to be really careful on the other end, you know, because you had a big advantage sort of in the baseline rallies. It was key for me to serve well, especially in the beginning and, you know, it was a good serving day today. I was very happy with it.

Q. Once you pulled out the tiebreak, seemed like he just went away. Does that happen often? Seems like it does. Do you sense that from the opponents sometimes?
ROGER FEDERER: I played a good game to break, you know, hit a very good return to go up Love‑15, and sort of from there everything’s a bit easier. But I think maybe his serve started to let him down a little bit where he really saved himself the entire first set.
I think he served quite a few break points he had, and then also he had already started to leave in the tiebreaker, you know, his serve. His serve he served double fault. I think I was serving better than him today, which is key.

Q. Out of all the sort of outdoor hard court places you play, how do the conditions here suit you? There’s wind and the humidity. How does this rate as a place to play for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I was successful as a junior already back in ‘98. Winning the Orange Bowl here. Obviously the climate was a little bit different, maybe not as humid. I always struggled in the humidity when I was younger. I also struggled in the wind actually, and in America in general.
So it wasn’t a place where I made a breakthrough very easy until one day I won every tournament there was to win in America. (laughter.)
The wind started to really become sort of something I enjoyed, you know, playing in. The challenge of, you know, choosing the right tactics, as my footwork and, you know, technique are better and better.
I think I really enjoy the challenge and the humidity. I started to not to enjoy but got used to once I started to really do these tough practice sessions in the summer in Dubai for the last three years. Ever since I’ve never had a problem again in the heat.

Q. If you win this tournament, will you sort of silence those people who began to doubt you a bit after your recent setbacks and problems, or do you think you’ve done that already?
ROGER FEDERER: Umm, I don’t know. I mean, you guys are writing the stuff, and some people always talk a little bit too quickly. Some guys, you know, are nicer to me. I can’t control that.
But for me it was really a matter of getting back on tour, playing matches, and hopefully playing well. I think I did well under the circumstances I was under.
I mean, I can hardly rate really the Australian Open too much because of what I went through, you know. I can’t even tell how my game really was. Now I feel like I’m playing well. You can tell, as well, I’m moving well and playing well and serving well. That’s what it comes down to for me.
All these matches are a grind. If you look back you always probably thought I won every match 6‑2, 6‑3. It wasn’t like that. I had many matches I came through in a close way, and that’s what made me the best player for so long, is winning those big points over and over again.
That’s what I wasn’t able to do against Murray and wasn’t able to do against Djokovic, and you’ll always get matches like this. Then right away it looks like you’re not on top of your game. A lot of those matches I just couldn’t pull it off.

Q. If there’s one thing that’s important playing in the wind, what is it? Is it patience? What aspect is important playing in the wind?
ROGER FEDERER: I think you’ve got to be able to keep your calm, you know, patience, in a way. I think you’ve got to have good footwork and be strong mentally of choosing the right shot at the right time but. You can play great but play wrong in the wind and you’ll have no chance, you know. So I think you have to really have to play smart in the wind.

Q. There’s going to be a three‑set final this year. How do you feel about that? There are mixed reviews.
ROGER FEDERER: This is a subject to talk about, you know. Because I’m a fan of the best‑of‑five‑set finals. But then if you look at the long run of every tournament, we’ve had many problems throughout the last few seasons where we play a five setter here and guys then pull out the next week.
It’s happened especially in back‑to‑back tournaments in Rome and Hamburg, maybe Toronto and Cincinnati before where they didn’t always have five‑set finals. But another tournament gets hurt under those circumstances.
I understand for the live audience it’s not good. For us, the players, we’d also like to play five sets. But if you have to back it up with tournament after tournament, it is better for the players and for other tournaments if you have the best‑of‑three finals.
So there’s good and bad in this story, and I think it’s fair that every tournament of the Masters Series level has the same format in terms of how the finals should be played. They’re best‑of‑three unfortunately, and that’s the way we have to play it here in Miami, as well.

Q. You’ve been in the U.S. now for three weeks. When you come here, is there anything culturally, whether it’s like silly reality TV or Final Four, something more weighty that you get into when you come to the United States?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I guess following the political race a little bit. First time I’m really into it to some degree.
I was following it more actually when I was in Switzerland and not playing. Now, in America, sort of, I don’t know, it’s almost too much of it, you know. I’m not following the Final Four, but I love coming to America, you know. I really enjoy this place. People are really friendly. Yeah, it’s a place I like to visit.

Q. You don’t have to, you know, pick a candidate, but from your perspective, what do you make of the political race from where you sit?
ROGER FEDERER: Just very interesting. You know, for me it’s hard to compare, because until now I didn’t really follow it. Four years ago I don’t remember being really into it, you know. So this is the first year, and so I just want to see how it really works. I couldn’t believe that it takes that long, you know. (laughter.)
There’s so much talk about it for like a year in advance, which is tough for the president, it seems. But, look, it’s the way it is. People are really into it. Seems like the younger generation is more into it. I think that’s key to this race.

Q. Since you bring up politics…
ROGER FEDERER: I didn’t bring it up. (laughter.)

Q. If I may, let me ask you about the Olympics and Tibet. There are a handful of athletes from various places if various sports from around the world who said they will protest in various ways because of the situation in Tibet.
ROGER FEDERER: Uh‑huh.

Q. Boycotting the opening ceremonies, wearing ribbons perhaps, that kind of thing. Is that something that you would think about doing, along those lines?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not so far. I don’t think I will. Honestly, I don’t know enough about the situation. I don’t know how much we athletes should be involved in this, you know.
That’s why we’ll see how it goes. I’ve been asked this question for the first time like a month ago, and didn’t hear anything about it.
I hope it’s not going to have any effect on the Games, because it should be a celebration of sport and not using it for political reasons, you know. We’ll see how it goes. I definitely will go, and I hope everything will be all right.

Q. Do you have any concerns about the air quality in Beijing? American runners are saying…
ROGER FEDERER: Not really, to be honest with you. We are holding a tournament there many, many years in Beijing. Never heard of any problems. I think I heard they’re going to try their very best to keep the air as clean as possible. I know it will be tough, but I have no reasons to be nervous for that.

Q. You may have Andy Roddick again in the next round. Are you ever wondering the law of averages will catch up to you with him?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, he’s beaten me before, but I have a definitely a very, very good record against him. Toughest places to play against him is always in America. I’ve had some close ones here with him over the years.
A guy I always enjoy playing against, we have a lot of respect for each other. I think it will be a great matchup for this tournament if he were to play in the next round.

Q. When you had mono, did you ever think of Mario Ancic and the fact he missed like six months?
ROGER FEDERER: For some reason I didn’t think of him, no, because it was over before it started for me. I heard I had it, and two weeks later they said it was gone.

Q. Did it surprise you it was so short?
ROGER FEDERER: No, because it can be over very quickly. Apparently I already had it back in 2006, hints of it, but…
Yeah, so it’s in the past.

Q. Just go back to the Olympics real quick. For most sports I think the Olympics are probably the pinnacle of the sport. In tennis, where do you think winning a gold medal would rank? I mean, is that Slam‑level achievement or Masters Series? Where do you think that ranks as far as tennis is concerned?
ROGER FEDERER: Depends on what you’ve won so far. So for me, it’s very big because I’ve won three of the four majors. I’ve won the Masters Cup. Definitely I think it’s bigger than a Masters Series and here for instance. Masters Cup is obviously very special because you only have the top 8. But for me, it ranks on a Grand Slam level, to be honest. I really do.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Live Scoring | Español
Schedule
Draws
Results

http://www.sonyericssonopen.com/content/20080401174317.html

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Federer tracking U.S. presidential race. From Sarah. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 2, 2008

Sarah |

Federer tracking U.S. presidential race

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) -Roger Federer says young people seem to be following the U.S. presidential race this year – and that includes him.

The Swiss tennis star said he became interested in the campaign during his offseason last winter.

“I was following it more actually when I was in Switzerland and not playing,” Federer said following his fourth-round victory Tuesday at the Sony Ericsson Open. “Now, in America, I don’t know, it’s almost too much of it.”

Federer did not identify his favorite candidate.

“For me it’s hard to compare, because until now I didn’t really follow it,” he said. “So this is the first year, and so I just want to see how it really works.

“I couldn’t believe that it takes that long, you know. There’s so much talk about it for like a year in advance, which is tough for the president, it seems. But, look, it’s the way it is. People are really into it. Seems like the younger generation is more into it. I think that’s key to this race.”

http://tennis.com/news/news.aspx?id=124090

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Not-so-firm and bulging reasons to get engaged before it gets out of OK hand.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 2, 2008

Andy Roddick changes his shirt during a change over against Julien Benneteau of France during day nine of the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on April 1, 2008 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) 

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Federer’s first serve percentage becoming a deciding factor, signalling slow down of his overall game?

Posted by tennisplanet on April 2, 2008

Here are the first serve percentages for the matches he has played so far this season.

Notice all the four losses came at serve percentage of 65 or below.

It appears anytime he falls below 65 percent against a quality or hot opponent, he goes down. This is a new phenomenon, since Federer’s career first serve percent has always been around that figure, but his variety and all round game with other potent weapons were more than enough to compensate for any aggression from across the net due to his lower 1st serve percentage.

He didn’t need his first serve to bail him out at crunch time. If the serve was off, the general consensus was that Federer is going to still win the point in 8 out of 10 cases. Not anymore. If the serve is returned it’s come down to 50/50 chance now against the top ten players.

That obviously has to be due to slower court coverage, lack of match play, mono and just pure decline in physical prowess after 26 years of age.

Coincidentally that trend has become quite conspicuous after the 24 ace outing against Nadal in his first five-setter in Wimbledon last year.

No. Opponent Pct. Event
1 Diego 76 6-0,6-3,6-0.
2 Santoro 68 6-1,6-2,6-0.
3 Tipsarevic 64 5-setter
4 Berdych 62
5 Blake 67
6 Djokovic 62 Australian Open Loss
7 Murray 65 Dubai Loss
8 Garcia 60  6-3,6-2.
9 Mahut 75 6-1,6-1.
10 Ljubicic 74 6-3,6-4.
11 Fish  52 Indian Wells Loss
12 Monfils 73 6-3,6-4.
13 Soderling 73  6-4,3-0.
14 Acasuso 78 Miami 7-6,6-2.

This is what it was at his nine losses last year:

1. Canas I: 57 percent.

2. Canas II: 55.

3. Nadal I: 54.

4. Volandri: 44.

5. Nadal II: 64.

6. Djokovic: 67.

7. Nalbandian I: 59.

8. Nalbandian II: 66.

9. Gonzalez: 69. 

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