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Archive for April 30th, 2008

The one word, that can emphatically declare Federer is back to his dominating self, for good.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 30, 2008


Even winning titles like he did at Estoril will not bring back that aura. Federer needs to put together a decent string of consistent victories, to convincingly declare to the world that he is back for more.

At the AO open this year, he started out brilliantly winning his first two matches in straight sets. Considering he was just coming off the mono illness that prevented him from playing at Kooyong, it was a very impressive showing specially when both wins had three bagels peppered all over them. One of them was against Santoro, 36th ranked player in the world, who had just destroyed a 22-year old 6′ 9″ Isner in straight sets in his previous match.

Uptil now it appeared Federer was back with vengeance and a repeat of last year’s AO, when he won the title without dropping a single set was in order. Then comes a 49th ranked Tipsarevic who takes Federer to a nail biting five-setter. The fifth set score? 10-8. The match lasted four freaking hours and 25 minutes. That’s after Federer had almost 40 aces to mere 12 from Tipsy.

Federer composed himself after that match and dispatched two dangerous opponents in Berdych and Blake in straight sets back to back, reviving hopes of fans worldwide. With Djokovic, whom he had demolished in straight sets couple of months ago at US Open finals, next, it seemed Federer had steadied himself for the big challenge.

But that inconsistency bug showed up again to allow Djokovic to win the match in three straight sets.

Federer took a whole month off, to hopefully rest and recuperate from the illness and the shock of having his calendar and Golden Slam hopes dashed abruptly so early in the season. But that also meant not playing any matches, a tag that appeared to be working against him since he had not played a match on the tour since November of last year, while everyone else like Nadal and Djokovic were getting their share of exposure and enough matches under their belt, to feel comfortable at the beginning of a crucial season.

Well, Federer comes out for his first match after the AO in March against Murray at Dubai and loses in the opening round. That was the second losing streak for him in about four months. Last one was in Oct-Nov losing to Nalbandian and Gonzalez.

Putting that behind him, Federer again goes on a tear at Indian Wells taking out all three of his opponents in straight sets, again stoking hopes of his return to the top. But again, true to the pattern developing so clearly, he falls to Fish in straight sets in the semifinals. Fish was 0-5 against Federer at the time and had won just one set in those five matches, apart from eating a bagel. He was ranked 98th in the world and despite his incredible run so far in the tournament where he defeated Davydenko, Hewitt and Nalbandian, last two in a third set tie break, there was no way he could get past Federer who appeared to be in such deadly form. But Federer failed miserably – again, losing in straight sets.

Moving on to Miami, Federer starts it all over again – by defeating all three of his opponents in straight sets, again giving hope to getting back to his dominating self. With Roddick whom he literally owned by now, next, it appeared another beating for Roddick was in the works. But once again, in line with the inconsistent play, he succumbed to Roddick in three sets.

So far Federer had come out with inspired play in the first few rounds of every tournament, only to disintegrate at the semis and the quarterfinal level, except in Murray’s case, where it was the opening round.

But as he moved on to the clay season, even that initial burst started to fade, as he struggled in his opening round against Rochus, winning in three sets. But he came back to post straight set victories in his next two matches to indicate that opening round match may have been a hiccup. But at the very next match, against a 104th ranked player, Federer dropped the second set of the tournament before winning it in three sets.

With Davydenko next, everyone feared the worst, based on the clear pattern that had developed by now. Besides, Davydenko was No. 4 in the world and had just won at Miami defeating Roddick and Nadal back to back. The first set went to a close tie break despite five break point opportunities for Federer and four for Davydenko. Federer barely won the set and Davydenko despite up a break in the second set called it quits and Federer won his first title of the year – on clay.

Monte Carlo: Federer now appeared to be starting a new pattern – struggling against early rounders like he did at Estoril, unlike what he did at all the other four hard court events before that. Sure enough, in his opening round match against a 30-year old, 137th ranked player, Federer was stretched to three sets and won the match in a crap shoot tie break in the third. With Monfils, No. 64 next, most had already given up hope and were on their knees praying. But to keep true to his inconsistent play, Federer summoned his form to brush Monfils in straight sets.

Everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief. But Nalbandian was next. There was no way he is going to get past him, everyone thought. Nalbandian was on a hot run even dishing out a bagel on his way. But Federer again returned to his form and defeated Nalbandian despite losing the first set 5-7.

Was he gradually coming into his own? This would be the time to do it, as another hot clown Djokovic was next. Djokovic had not only not dropped a set he had dished two bagels against quality players like Murray and Querrey.

But probably the history between the two players, forced a near perfect performance out of Federer, leaving Djokovic the option to lose or retire. He retired to allow fans a feast of Federer-Nadal final.

With so much momentum going in, it appeared Federer was peaking at the right time. But once again the inconsistency flared up to disallow Federer from cashing in on opportunities nobody else gets against Nadal on clay. He lost in straight sets despite being up a break in the first set and 4-0 in the second.

While Nadal had some part in that reversal of fortunes, it appears from the pattern that has developed since January and possibly before that, inconsistent play may be the real culprit.

Even though Federer and his camp have many positives to take from whatever has happened lately, this is no time to be celebrating. If you track Federer’s performance since the beginning of last year, the four step forward one step back has gradually been reduced to two step forward one step back.

It’s called inconsistent play. It usually shows up before the eventual end. Every great athlete experiences it. The old magic starts to appear only in flashes instead of being on all the time as in years past. And that light gradually goes out completely.

There are a lot of factors that preclude Federer from that possibility. Foremost among them being age. He is still just 26, considered near prime in the tennis world. The irreversible slowdown usually occurs around and after age 28 tapering out around 30-31. Even if you consider the hectic pace he has been on for the past four some years, the ease with which he has won matches during that time, erases the heavy physical toll theory.

So what is the reason for the up and down performance? Who freaking knows? Maybe even Federer doesn’t know. We can only guess. The most logical and ‘everyone should be hoping’ explanation has to be mono. If it’s not mono, then the trouble is very real and possibly beyond repair.

But the biggest silver lining to the whole season has to be his flawless showing against Djokovic. Was it just coincidental that his game showed up then or did the ‘how much was at stake against that player’ and the ‘next one to grab his throne’ scenario forced Federer to dig deep down to find his magic? It may not be coincidental. You think!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Translation: Federer is still capable of reaching far enough to find his game if the stakes are high enough, to will himself through a match. Djokovic played better than anyone else at Monte Carlo against Federer, far better, but it was still not even close. Everything Djokovic tried came back even harder and sharper, even from his backhand.

Considering Djokovic had defeated Federer in straight sets at the AO and everything that had happened to Federer after that, Federer, after winning that match, had the feeling he has already achieved enough. It was similar to Roddick beating Federer and then tamely going out against Davydenko. At this point, based on all the media hype, win over Djokovic is a lot sweeter than win over Nadal on clay. That was the peak for Federer who breathed a sigh of relief a little longer, for Monte Carlo trophy to be in his bag. It proved to be a reverse trap match for Federer.

Going forward this final appearance at Monte Carlo can bode well for Federer if he meets Nadal again in the finals at any of the three clay events left. Djokovic falling on Nadal’s half specially at Roland Garros cannot hurt. His best shot will again come at Hamburg, since Nadal is continuing his stubborn run of playing four events back to back to back to back – Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Hamburg – with not even a day separating any of the four tournaments.

This is critical time for Federer mainly because he has been able to reverse the tide for the first time this year. Although it’s still not seamless, the trend is vital for his confidence, which must have been in tatters before the start of the clay season.

Besides, now that his No. 1 rank is not under any immediate attack, Federer should be able to play loose and close to his natural game.

Can he keep the graph moving upwards or is the next step down just round the corner?


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Take a 15 minute nap twice a day and save your freaking life.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 30, 2008

You don’t need a five-star hotel room for that. Wherever you are, just close your freaking eyes and put your head down, if you can, for 15 minutes or more, twice a day and see what you are missing.

Don’t even bother straining your tiny brain figuring out the rationale. There is huge scientific evidence that supports benefits of napping.

But I know you freaking freaks are not going to just believe me.

Try this vid:

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A unique rivalry in more than one way. From Sarah. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 30, 2008


A unique rivalry in more than one way

The world No.1 is still searching for a way to beat the world No.2 on clay, writes

Rohit Brijnath

FRIENDS AND FOES: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are fierce competitors on the court and good pals off it.

Jimmy Connors, the belligerent, finger-pointing, 1970s version, would spit at the Nike feet of Rafa and Roger. You call this a rivalry, he’d snarl. This is more like a romance.

Where’s the animosity, like the professorial Prost explaining: “Metaphorically, Senna wanted to destroy me”? Where’s the intense dislike that led Joe Frazier to say of a bullying Ali, “God might not like me talking like that, but I hated that man”? Where’s the raw bitterness that infects duels between Rangers and Celtic?

Nadal and Federer are giving rivalry an awful name in an “obnoxious weed” universe. Once the Swiss actually accused Nadal’s uncle of on-court coaching, only for him to succumb to his gentlemanly instincts by giving the Spaniard a lift on his jet last autumn. Dear God, the only people who would approve would be those old sissies, Chris and Martina, who first tried to dismember each other and then consoled each other.

Pleasant champions

Maybe because tennis isn’t a full-contact, fibula-denting game like football, that there is more room for cordiality. Nonsense, truth is these are just nice guys, pleasant champions, grown up competitors, scrapping like warriors in Europe’s sandy coliseums, yet still full of aw-shucks smiles and “he’s too good” compliments. It’s a lesson the posturing Harbhajan and Sreesanth will never get.

But despite the charm of their shared respect, this is not what makes Nadal-Federer special. Instead, it’s the continuing insaneness of the numbers that tell us the best player ever-elect still has a losing record (9-6 in total, 7-1 on clay) against the second-best player of his time.

Because he falls so predictably to Nadal on clay, because he lets go even 4-0 leads (second set, Monte Carlo), we forget how capable Federer is on clay, especially for a fast-court practitioner. McEnroe, Becker, Edberg, Sampras won 231 titles on all surfaces between them yet only 10 were on clay. The Swiss already has seven on this shale.

Anyone else since that metronome from Sweden, Federer might have rolled past on clay, might have taken the French Open from. Lendl, Wilander, Muster, Gomez, Costa, Kuerten, Courier, Agassi, Bruguera, anyone. But this is different, this is like being the victim of some cosmic conspiracy, for Nadal is like a machine from Planet Sweat, perfectly designed to beat him on clay. He’s a leftie, a masochistic marathoner, a spin guru, the Great Wall of Spain against whom every shot comes back. As Bob Brett, former Becker coach, says when asked to place the Spaniard in claycourt history: “You’ve got Borg, and then you’ve got Nadal.”

Still, Federer keeps coming at him, looking for encouragement even in defeat, and there is some. In the context of his year, his performance in Monte Carlo was more confident, more pleasing, though his error count (44 to Nadal’s 20) suggests he is not yet in complete control (then again Nadal pushes players to go for too much because what they’re doing is not working.)

Making progress

In the context of Nadal, too, Federer made progress. Four time he broke Nadal in the final, and while he let him back in, it was interesting for even the Spaniard said no one breaks him so often. Says Brett, the Swiss also unveiled a short crosscourt forehand that yanks Nadal out of court, altered his pace, used the drop shot which he rarely does.

But most advice concerns his attacking play, and one howl is constant: go to the net. But Nadal’s geometric precision, his spin which makes the ball kick higher than a cancan dancer, means every attack has to be perfectly planned and executed, and it is a powerful pressure to carry. As Brett says: “It’s about finding the right ball to attack and how to attack.”

Terrific advantage

The Swiss will watch tape, listen to new coach Jose Higeuras, practice. The Spaniard may own him, but Federer has one terrific advantage in this rivalry. He doesn’t really need to make up ground, he doesn’t need to own a winning record on clay against Nadal. All he has to do is beat Nadal just once more on clay to be fulfilled. On June 8, in the French Open final.


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An Oasis on the Web. From Chicago fan. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 30, 2008

Chicago fan

An Oasis on the Web

Hello TP and everyone. I just wanted to thank you, TP, for hosting this site. I discovered it a few months ago, and I’m glad that I did. To the posters, I appreciate your commitment to good sportsmanship, sense of fair play, and love of tennis.

With everything going on in the world today, it’s easy to feel that one’s ship is being battered by the waves. It’s nice to find shelter from the storm–even for a few minutes.

I hope that you all have an outstanding day!

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A retard opens fire at Steph’s university.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 30, 2008


Some ‘tard opened fire at my University last night…

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Djokovic interview at BBC. From Adrian. Thanks. Good work.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 30, 2008


Recent interview by BBC to Nole. Why can he not be this nice in all of his interviews or on court?? Funny thing though: note how he responds when he’s asked about his relationship with Federer. It seems like he’s going to say “we’re good friends” but he hesitates and then says “we’re fr… we have a fair relationship” or something like that..!

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Djokovic tries to incite Nadal. From TuckerP. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 30, 2008


The video where Djokovic says he’s in control is pretty interesting from 2006.

Here’s the video.

And here’s one that I watched for like 10 minutes straight (doesn’t have anything to do with tennis.)


Posted in Djokovic tries to incite Nadal. | 26 Comments »

Borg picks Nadal to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year. Is the prediction tainted and biased?

Posted by tennisplanet on April 30, 2008

“Nadal looks extremely confident, extremely strong on the clay even right now, so that’s definitely the guy to beat for Paris,” Borg, the last man to win the French Open and Wimbledon back to back, in 1980, told “If he’s as good as he looks right now and is going to continue, and stay away from injuries and be motivated as he is right now, it’s going to be tough to beat him at the French.”

“If he can survive the first two or three rounds at Wimbledon, I still pick Nadal,” Borg said. “The final last year was unbelievable, and he was a little bit unlucky not to win.”

Federer, Borg said, has a realistic chance of winning the French until 2010.

“I think he’s going to improve his game, and I’m not going to be surprised if he’s going to be the winner of the French Open, but you have Djokovic and a lot of other players,” Borg said. “I definitely think Roger is going to win more Grand Slam tournaments. It depends on the motivation and if he can stay away from injuries. But if he wants to, deep inside, wants to stay around for many more years, he can do that.”

Djokovic, who complained of dizziness against Federer in Monte Carlo, was in better condition in Australia, conquering athletic Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for his first major and knocking off Federer along the way. Borg forecasts a rosy future for the third-ranked Serb.

“He’s playing unbelievable,” Borg said. “He’s only 20, he can play on all the surfaces, and he’s only going to get better. Who knows, at the end of the year, he could be the No. 1 player in the world. It’s going to be interesting to see what he’s going to do at the French and Wimbledon. He really believes in himself, that he can win the French and Wimbledon.”

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Changes at Wimbledon this year.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 30, 2008

-Champions will each receive $1.49 million this year, an increase of 5.8 percent. Total prize money for the two-week tournament will increase 3.4 percent to $23.46 million.

-New digital scoreboards will be installed, combining scores, the Hawk-Eye line-call challenge system and video.

-This year marks the end of the traditional sidewalk queues for spectators waiting to buy tickets. Because of health and safety reasons, there will be a single queue in nearby Wimbledon Park for those wishing to camp overnight for day tickets.

-Wimbledon officials ruled out scheduling matches on the middle Sunday— except as an “emergency option” in the event of a major weather backlog—and said the tournament will not follow the lead of the French Open by starting on a Sunday.

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