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Archive for April 24th, 2008

Points race at Monte Carlo.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 24, 2008

Points to defend from last year:

Nadal: Winner – 500 pts.

Federer: Final – 350 pts.

Djokovic: 3rd round – 75 pts. Already earned 50 points by reaching the quarters as of today.

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The most feared weapon in tennis today.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 24, 2008

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Federer’s interview after defeating Monfils. From Jennifer. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 24, 2008

Jennifer

Federer’s interview after defeating Monfils.

MONTE CARLO, MONACO

R. FEDERER/G. Monfils
6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did that feel a bit better today? More comfortable?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think it definitely was a good, tough match from my side. Yeah, I mean, I think Gaël is a good player. You know, up-and-coming. Unfortunately he had some injuries.
I think he always sort of makes you, you know — he gives you a chance to play aggressive because he doesn’t like to do the game himself. It allows you to potentially make a lot of mistakes.
So I was patient enough. My forehand worked well today. And I was just happy, after yesterday, playing so well.

Q. Do you think in some ways now that yesterday might actually have helped you a little bit, just to have that much time on court, to work through some stuff?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know if it’s necessary for clay. I just think here getting used to the conditions here in Monte-Carlo, maybe yes. But other than that, on a different day you play in a different way, a different opponent. So many things change, you know.
I definitely made some errors yesterday which I shouldn’t have. You know, but today was fine again. It’s good I reacted so well after yesterday’s tough match.

Q. Did it play on your mind at all overnight, the way you played yesterday?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. Just right after, you know, I was sort of, you know, relieved, you know, I got through. And then important I think was to analyze what happened, you know, yesterday, just sort of the good things, the bad things, the end, why could I turn around the match, you know. Sort of stuff like this, it was important to go through that with Severin and Jose.
Yeah, we created a plan for today and it worked fine. It was an interesting 24 hours for me.

Q. Do you think that’s a different kind of plan than you might have created when you were basically on your own?
ROGER FEDERER: No, it gives me a chance to speak to somebody, whereas maybe in the past I would only go through it myself in my own brain, you know, which is obviously most important, that I feel comfortable with the approaches to each and every match.
I guess you can, you know, just ask questions that they saw the same way. Yeah, we had similar views, which is a good thing.

Q. How do you see yourself now?
ROGER FEDERER: My serve?

Q. Yourself.
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, myself (smiling).

Q. Do you feel honestly better, more confident every day?
ROGER FEDERER: Just feel normal again, you know. Playing every day, you know. One month, no match. I knew that was my plan, you know, in the beginning of the season. But on top of that, with the sickness, it made it that much more difficult to come back and feel normal again.
Indian Wells, Miami is a tricky season. There’s a lot of spare time. There’s a lot of talk going on, you know, always. Almost not enough match es for the long time you’re in America. For this reason, this is a good period for me now where I can play a lot of matches. When I lose, can I go home, practice on my game again. So it’s just easier to hide a little bit.
I feel fine again. You know, I’m playing enough. This is a normal rhythm again, and I think that was key for me, you know, getting enough matches. I’ve played seven matches on clay. I’ve won seven. So, you know, I’m just really happy the way things have gone.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. How did you think he played today compared with the previous match against him in Miami? Did he improve?
ROGER FEDERER: He’s a very good player. This hasn’t changed since the first time I played him in Doha. I was impressed by his game, by the way he moves, and by his athleticism. I don’t know how long he stayed off the courts, but it was a while, and still his game is moving forward.
He is making a good comeback. The match today was similar to the one in Miami. I was trying to dictate the game. But, of course, he was more aggressive in Miami, which is normal on hardcourts.
It is amazing how from the baseline he can read all the shots. I made no aces – Karlovic either. He has an excellent reach. I had to play well, otherwise it wouldn’t have been enough against him.

End of FastScripts

http://www.asapsports.com/show_interview.php?id=49130

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Likely reasons for Federer’s current form.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 24, 2008

Who freaking knows the real reason? Maybe it’s just Federer who knows. I don’t think even he has any clue. And at this point, so many factors have come into play to allow one to lay the blame at just one freaking one. So here we go with the speculating:

Mono: Duh!!!!! This has to be the most likely one, don’t you think? But how do you account for the nine losses last season, unless mono started back in 2006? If it is the mono, what has been done to address the problem? What I want to know is who the hell is the doctor who let Federer play the AO, leave alone the other tournaments, right after being diagnosed with the illness? Unless of course the No. 1 rank in contention made Federer override the joker’s restriction.

Based on what some of you, who have been down with the disease, and others who have treated it or have had close encounter with it, it appears to be quite debilitating and the only cure appears to be complete rest. If all that is true, how in the hell would anyone continue playing at this level and expect the disease to get better? Shouldn’t it get worse? Aren’t there enough signs that it IS getting worse?

It’s like using the same strategy despite getting the same result time and time again. And the on again off again feature you all have pointed out is on display for even a cucumber to see. Federer has a great match where he delivers a bagel (AO) and then goes out and has a string of sub par matches to reverse any ground he may have gained.

Federer has himself admitted to being slow and lethargic numerous times this year. Could it be that you are not reading the big freaking sign dangling in front of you – to rest and cure yourself of the disease before proceeding any further with your physically demanding career?

How freaking blind do you have to be to not notice a trend or pattern by now? OK, Tipsy five-setter was a fluke and Djokovic’s match was very very close at the AO. But then how do you account for a series of poor performances which are only getting worse with time? Murray (opening round), Fish (ranked 98), Roddick (H2H 1-15), Rochus (3-setter, No. 77), Gremelmayr (3-setter, No. 104) and Ramirez (No. 137, 3-setter).

The flashes of brilliance in between only confirms the nature of the disease (Off and On). But even that’s favoring the OFF recently.

Is there no one in the Federer camp who can see this phenomenon sailing under the radar? Or is everybody so focused on the No. 1 rank, or the cash flow he is generating for them, that it’s self defeating to even bring it up?

Personal life: If it’s not the mono, it’s bizarre for a top athlete to fall off the perch so abruptly that the thud is heard and felt all over the freaking globe. Personal problems and the acute trauma they can inflict can cause such a steep decline in performance. But Federer doesn’t seem to be the type of guy who gets too high or too down with what’s happening around him. Or maybe he is and we are just being shown the side that in reality is misleading.

The speculation has to be more about Mirka than anything between him and his parents, considering they have been dating since Adam and Eve with no sight of anything concrete developing at least from Mirka’s perspective. Maybe there’s trouble in Paradise and the public life they both live is adding to the stress of playing top class tennis day in and day out consistently. Who freaking knows?

Four year compact: If it’s neither of the two, then the break neck speed Federer’s been on for the last four some years is finally bringing back the chickens to roost. The physical and mental toll that kind of activity can take when compacted in such a short span has to show up sometime. I mean, none of the previous greats of the game has had such a run in such a short time. Maybe there’s a reason for it: It’s too freaking hard.

And now we are just seeing the results of the violation of a rule that says that you can either spread it thin or thick, but there’s only so much butter.

Just plain decline: If none of the above is happening then it’s just pure nature taking it’s course. There’s a reason why Federer was not so good in his late teens or early twenties. Nature had not run it’s full course. Well, it appears it has now. The talent pool has been exhausted and there’s not any more of it left. It’s all downhill from here. The window has closed or is closing fast to the inevitable end of the journey. And all these attempts to hire a coach and do this and do that is just too little too late. The train has already left the station. Just like the spark got abruptly ignited in 2003 with his first Wimbledon, the light may have gone out with the 2007 US Open.

Combination: To me it looks a combination of all of the above with varying degrees of gravy from each one of them in the pot. I get the feeling that not enough energy has been spent to address any of the issues. I mean the ones that are still open to debate and negotiation. Some may have already reached a point of no return and there’s nothing you can do about them.

But clearly there’s lot more on the table that’s begging for due attention and care, and that is still open to response if given the right stimulus. You have got to be a moron to not see those lights flashing all over the place.

Unless anything is done to effectively counter the factors still open to debate and negotiation, this current stance of hoping that everything will, on its own, just fall in place, is only going to lead to even more inconsistent play, eventually stifling the rare wins to zero. You can already see the trend now: How the ‘Ws’ are getting a little more difficult and ‘far in between’ to come even against tomato cans.

With the destination so close now, it will be a shame if all what has been achieved so far is not given a fair chance of ending in brilliance that the world can glow with.

Despite all Federer has achieved, all that matters at the end of the day is this: Do you hold more Grand Slams than anyone in the history of the game AND if that achievement is coupled with a career Grand Slam? Without these two jewels, history will not recognize you as the all-time great of the game, irrespective of how many finals you have reached or how many times you won three GS in a year, or how many straight finals you reached, blah blah blah.

There are many players with some kind of such amazing records, but they are never mentioned among the all-time greats. There are currently just two who are even mentioned in that discussion: Laver and Sampras. Reason? Because they possess one or more of those two jewels.

The run Federer’s has had, he truly deserves to be among them, but ten years from now, very few people will talk about the amazing shots he had, like no one does for Laver today. All people want to know is just one thing: DID YOU BEAT THE RECORDS THAT MATTER MOST? DID YOU SUCCEED? The answer in word only please: Yes or No.

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Federer returns to form. Soothes frayed nerves worldwide.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 24, 2008

Swiss player Roger Federer reacts during his third round match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Open tournament in Monaco, Gael Monfils of France, Thursday, April 24, 2008.  

Federer defeated Monfils in straight sets, a day after almost getting eliminated in the opening round at the hands of a tomato can. Go figure.

And he had not a single ace the entire match to boot, with first serve percentage at a mere 63%. Those stats have spelled a certain defeat for Federer in recent months. Does that mean his game did make a return? It must have, for Monfils himself had seven aces and served at 60% AND broke Federer once in the first set.

Roger Federer of Switzerland during his third round match against Gael Monfils on day six of the Masters Series at the Monte Carlo Country Club, April 24, 2008 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images) 

Or is it just the level of competition that his game is fluctuating with? The higher the seed the better he plays. The only problem is that the higher seed is showing up right after a tomato can for the acclimatization process to sink in far enough. Another trend that appears to be developing this season and later part of last season is the erratic swing of the graph. Early last year the unexpected loss was followed by a string of wins to again have another loss before another winning streak.

This year the losses have reduced the distance between the wins. Besides those victories are now being won with a lot less margin, even against unheralded players.

Roger Federer of Switzerland serves during his third round match against Gael Monfils of France on day six of the Masters Series at the Monte Carlo Country Club, April 24, 2008 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images) 

Maybe this performance against Ramirez could prove to be catalyst for better things to come this season. It surely has all the ingredients of being one such match.

Nevertheless, this Monfils match, without injury and retirement, is a much needed step that has been missing since the AO. Being on clay further enhances its significance. Remember, he could have been playing Grosjean or Verdasco or nobody due to illness etc. before moving into the battle with the big dogs, back to back to back.

Of all the contenders at this round, Monfils was the most qualified to be a stepping stone to the jungle awaiting in the next three encounters. Federer would have preferred Simon in the opening round to make it even better, but he will take this.

WIth all three next opponents of Federer virtually destroying the field so far, this match and the win, without an ace and 63% serve, could prove to be a big step confidence wise, specially following in the heels of a near embarrassment against Ramirez.

And what’s up with the next three jokers and their bagels? Each one has dished out a bagel already against quality opponents: Nadal against Ancic, Djokovic against Murray and Nalbandian against Robredo. They all appear to be in top form and gaining strength with every match.

It’s a tough stretch for Federer under current conditions, but like they say opportunity lies among challenges. If he can pull this off and even reach the final against Nadal, it could do a world of good mentally. Physically is a whole new story.

The problem is the alignment between his mind and body is totally off. He has the stroke in his mind but the physical wherewithal to execute it is sometimes there and sometimes absent. Have you noticed how some of his serves are ending up at the bottom of the net and his forehand is not even in the doubles alley at times?

This trio of jokers will surface at practically all the four events on clay. Might as well get into the ring and get it over with one way or the other.

One thing is what we all are expecting and hoping: A feast of incredible tennis display in the next three days.

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fed vs. monfils. From arbit. Thanks. Good work.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 24, 2008

arbit

fed vs. monfils
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sE-i7f0KkKU&feature=PlayList&p=0FE38CC009DBE0FC&index=16

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Federer talks about Ramirez match. From Dee. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 24, 2008

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Federer wins ATP awards. From Dee. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 24, 2008

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Federer interview after Ramirez. From Sarah. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 24, 2008

Swiss player Roger Federer serves the ball to Gael Monfils of France during their third round match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Open tournament in Monaco, Thursday, April 24, 2008.  

Sarah

April 23, 2008

Roger Federer

MONTE CARLO, MONACO

R. FEDERER/R. Ramirez Hidalgo
6-1, 3-6, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How did you get out of that one?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, I don’t know. A bit of a grind, I guess, you know. It’s always hard, you know, serving it out. It was tough on him, I guess.
But I was just hoping, you know, for a better spell where I was wasn’t making maybe so many mistakes, finding my attacking game was working a little bit better.
It all came together, you know, at the right times. I’m happy I got through this match.

Q. Was there a bit of fatigue after last week, or why do you think it wasn’t such a good day for you today?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, I don’t know. I felt a little bit slow out there today. I think, you know, my opponent played so bad in the first set that he sort of almost faked me out. You know, he couldn’t serve. He was making many mistakes from the baseline. All of a sudden, you know, after the first game, which I thought was average from his part as well, but he managed to win it anyway because I didn’t play so well. Didn’t miss any more. Started to serve better. And then after that I really struggled, you know. So I was really unhappy with my game.
But in the end at least it was fine, you know. But for one and a half sets, you know, I was quite disappointed.

Q. When you went down 5-1 in the third, you thought it was almost over or you still had hope?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I guess you have a little bit of hope. But more on the side of, you know, packing your bags and leaving, you know, that’s for sure.
You know, rarely am I in a situation like this, 5-1 down in the third, and I still manage to come back. Usually it’s much more even, you know, 3-All, 4-All, whatever. But, no, you know, I was disappointed with the way I played.

Q. Do you remember if you ever won a time after 1-5 in your career?
ROGER FEDERER: Don’t know. Your job (smiling).

Q. What does that tell you about what you have to do tomorrow?
ROGER FEDERER: No, look, I mean, it wasn’t all bad. You know, it was fine in the first set. It was fine in the end. Just in the middle, you know, it wasn’t good, you know. So for tomorrow, a new match, new day, new opponent. Everything’s gonna change.
So I hope I’m just gonna play better, you know, in all.

Q. Do you have the feeling that if you had in front of you a player more consistent than Ramirez Hidalgo today you would have lost or not?
ROGER FEDERER: Maybe at 5-1 down, yes. But first the guy’s got to get me to 5-1 down in the third.
His credit. I think he played really well, you know, in the second and third set. Didn’t miss much. You know, he played aggressive. Played far back in the court, you know. I didn’t serve very well, so I gave him a lot of opportunities, as well.
So your question’s irrelevant.

Q. What made you more worried about your own game? What wasn’t working as well as you would have liked?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, I mean, I’m coming in late this year whereas, you know, maybe the last few years I always had four, five days. You know, maybe once I think I even had six days. So this year maybe that’s just a bit of a difference.
You know, I had some adjustments. I definitely had the feeling, you know, the ball’s flying more here than still in Estoril. Conditions over there were very windy; tough conditions to play in. Come here, all of a sudden conditions are better, you know, but the ball’s still flying.
I just think it needs a little bit of an adjustment. Maybe that was one of the reasons I struggled today, I don’t know.

Q. And in terms of confidence, is there anything different this year compared to last year because of all these reasons you mentioned or not?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I’m feeling fine, you know. Six matches on clay, six wins. So I’m not complaining (smiling).

Q. Then you win three awards, as well.
ROGER FEDERER: On top of that, isn’t it great? It’s a great day (smiling).
Couldn’t be more happy.

Q. You won Fans’ Favorite and Humanitarian of the Year.
ROGER FEDERER: Did I? Humanitarian was last year.

Q. What were the three today?
ROGER FEDERER: Sportsmanship, the Fans and the Player of the Year.

Q. Happy with those three?
ROGER FEDERER: Sure. I mean, I think they’re very nice. You know, especially, you know, I think Fans’ Favorite is always nice. You know, I mean, I guess I’m so well-liked all over the world today that people vote for me, which is a nice thing.
Sportsmanship is just really a privilege. You know, that’s being voted by the other players, you know. I beat them so often and they still vote for me, so it sort of works (smiling).
But it’s just nice, you know, being recognized by the other fellow players. I try to play in a good way and, you know, be also sort of an idol, you know, to kids, you know, the way they should behave. It’s nice that other players vote for me.
And the Player of the Year is the obvious thing, you know, finishing No. 1 at the end of the year. In a way that means the most or the less (sic), depending on how you look at it.

Q. We just had a British player who lost 54 matches in a row. Had he lost 55 matches in a row, he would have set a world record for defeats.
ROGER FEDERER: You guys are rough, huh (smiling)?

Q. What would you say to someone who is in that kind of situation, losing matches week after week after week? Would you say, Keep going?
ROGER FEDERER: I would rather lose 55 in a row. At least that’s going to be mentioned more. But you’re going to mention him even though it’s 54.

Q. We have already.
ROGER FEDERER: You have already (smiling).

Q. Do you give him credit for carrying on?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, Vince Spadea had an issue at one stage. I think he lost 21 in a row, I remember. What are you going to do? I mean, all you can do is work hard, hopefully it’s going to turn in your favor, and it’s not going to happen again. You know, I mean, that is some streak to have against you.

End of FastScripts

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Celebrate Father’s Day With Federer. From Sarah. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 24, 2008

Switzerland's Roger Federer plays a return to Gael Monfils of France during their third round match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Open tournament in Monaco, Thursday, April 24, 2008.  

Sarah

Celebrate Father’s Day With Federer
By Tennis Week Tuesday, April 22, 2008

If you’re seeking the ideal gift for father’s day, your search is over. You and your dad can win the opportunity to play tennis with Roger Federer and you don’t have to own a world ranking, enter a qualifying tournament or be on a first-name basis with Roger and Mirka to do it.

Gillette is offering consumers a unique opportunity to play their favorite sport with their dad and one of the greatest athletes in the world through its “Play A Champion With Dad” promotion.

The campaign, which runs through August 15, 2008, will give five lucky winners and their fathers, the chance to play tennis with Federer, tee it up with Tiger Woods, or play soccer with French striker, Thierry Henry.

The grand prize winners will receive airfare, a multi-night trip and accommodations, $1,000 spending money, as well as the opportunity to meet Tiger, Roger or Thierry on a golf course, a tennis court or a soccer pitch.

There are also more than two thousand instant win prizes available.

To enter the “Play a Champion with Dad” Instant Win Game and Sweepstakes or for more information, please visit http://www.gillettechampions.com/ for all promotion details.

http://www.tennisweek.com/news/fullstory.sps?inewsid=549479

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The only mystery remaining this clay season: Can Djokovic dethrone Nadal at Roland Garros?

Posted by tennisplanet on April 24, 2008

Spain's Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Croatia's Mario Ancic during their second round match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Open tournament ,  in Monaco, Wednesday, April 23, 2008. Nadal won 6-0, 6-3.  

Unless Djokovic reaches the finals at all the big four clay events, the ratings for the finals are going to plummet drastically. With Nadal in such deadly form so early in the season, there is no chance of anyone even coming close to winning a title.

Djokovic is the only one who can challenge Nadal this year on clay. Although Djokovic has never defeated Nadal on clay (0-3), and has a 3-6 H2H, Djokovic has won two of the last three matches they have played on hard courts – in straight sets. Last one at Indian Wells was when Nadal was coming off long back to back Tsonga and Blake matches.

Spanish Rafael Nadal hits serves to his Croatian opponent Mario Ancic during their Monte Carlo ATP Masters Series tournament tennis match, on April 23, 2008 in Monaco. AFP PHOTO VALERY HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images) 

But Nadal is a whole new animal on clay. Based on how Nadal has performed on hard courts for seven years now, it’s reasonable to assume that his chances of winning another hard court title, with the big dogs present, is zero to none.

Granted he is still almost 22 and has lot of tennis in him, but various factors, from the physicality of his game, vulnerability to injuries, emergence of younger and talented guns to stunted growth of worthy clay court specialists, are making it even more difficult with every passing year.

Can he envision matching Federer’s 12 Grand Slams by just winning Roland Garros? Almost all previous tennis greats have had about that long a career. It’s difficult but possible. What kind of strange achievement would that be and if he never reaches No. 1 rank while at it, that would be even more bizarre, don’t you think? Twelve freaking Roland Garros titles. WOW!!!!!

Maybe it’s time for Nadal to cut his losses and devote himself solely to Roland Garros and the clay season, with token attempts at other major hard court events without compromising his health and fitness. These seven years have proven that if nothing else. I mean Nadal couldn’t win a hard court title despite being the only one to beat Federer, the best hard court player ever, consistently.

Djokovic may be having a stellar season so far, but to match Nadal in his backyard specially this year, with No. 1 rank looking more and more a possibility and his own No. 2 rank under siege, is like a mouse ‘belling a cat’. The only one who can dethrone Nadal is himself. If he gets over anxious and extends himself beyond his limits, he may be vulnerable like he was at last year’s Hamburg event. That aside, there is nothing on the radar, except Djokovic from now on, to even come close to troubling Nadal.

I think he should run with it instead of overly stressing the lack of hard court titles. You have to go with your strengths. Like in basketball, you don’t want Shaq shooting three pointers or Nash dunking on every possession. OK, lame analogy, but YOU try doing this without your medication AND ‘cardio’ with a Goat magazine. Hey, variety is the spice of life, isn’t it?

If Djokovic fails to reach the finals at these four events, look for a massacre from Nadal like the world has never seen on clay, this year. Djokovic’s critical test is tomorrow against Murray. He needs to win and win quickly to maintain his fitness / breathing to last at least till Wimbledon. Murray has the potential to extend Djokovic if he is not his erratic self and that could disturb the apple cart. Murray winning tomorrow will do nothing to cast a shadow on the eventual result. It will just spoil the fun for everybody, that’s all.

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Have you had a lemonade lately?

Posted by tennisplanet on April 24, 2008

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