Hey there guys,
Sorry for the lack of posts, I’ve been kind of busy lately. Well, May is nearly at a close and that means the French Open is about to start. I’ve always liked how the French Open begins at the end of the school year. It’s sort of a cool way to usher in the summer.
So, what has changed in the line up for this year’s Roland Garros? Quite a lot actually. Nadal, has ended his losing streak against Novak Djokovic. In fact he’s beaten him twice now on clay, reestablishing himself as the best player in the world, on this surface.
I’m picking Nadal to win the French Open, although in my estimation, he’s no longer invulnerable to being upset. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are leading contenders to knock off the king of clay but another dark horse looms in the shadows. Milos Raonic. He’s proven that his aggressive all court style can translate on clay. Raonic, is a formidable threat on every surface and I wouldn’t put it past him to give Nadal all he can handle.
Roger Federer, is the new world number two. Congratulations Rog. I have to admit, I never expected him to get back to being ranked ahead of Nadal. But he’s proven me wrong, so now I’m looking forward to seeing him in action at Rome this week.
If he does well and carries this momentum through the French Open and into Wimbledon, I believe he could win his 17th slam at the All England Club. Is it likely to happen? No. Although I like his chances more right now than I did a few months ago. Same goes for his prospect at an Olympic gold.
Roger, pulled out a very tough win against Berdych. The match could have gone either way, many times. In the first set Berdych was able to overwhelm Federer with his power. As the match wore on Roger was able to get ahead but he couldn’t keep the lead when serving for the set. Berdych, got the break back both times but still floundered in the end. Roger managed to eek out a 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory over the Czech player. A very high quality match and a real nail biter.
It’s Berdych against Federer for the title of blue clay master. Who are you pulling for? I’m going with Roger, to win the tournament and hoist the
blue trophy over his head. Seriously, this tendency towards blue has got to stop. I’ve been hearing rumors about the ball being changed from yellow to electric blue for Madrid in 2013. I sincerely hope they’re wrong and it’s just a myth being stirred up by the tennis community.
Incidentally, I should mention that Roger will move up to two in the world if he wins the finals. This would be the first time he’d be ranked higher than Nadal in two years. That and it would tie his record for masters series titles with Nadal at 20 each. Given the significances of this match and Berdych’s comparative lack of experience in finals. I think Federer is a likely winner in their face off.
Fernando Verdasco, just scored the biggest upset of his career, by knocking off the king of clay in a three set marathon match. Verdasco looked finished in the third set. Having split the first two sets with Nadal, he quickly fell behind to a 2-5 deficit. But in an uncharacteristic change of events, it was Verdasco who came roaring back against the mentally tough Nadal to win the last five games and record his first win over the world number two, in 14 tries.
Verdasco, will now face Tomas Berdych for a spot in the Madrid semi-finals. Berdych, has a clear edge in their head to head and even sports a respectable 2-all record against Verdasco on clay. This should be an interesting one.
Going back to Nadal for a minute, his early round loss doesn’t come as a surprise to me. He’s routinely expressed his dislike for the Madrid tournament. The high altitude and faster court speed doesn’t suit his preference.
Not all courts are going to work out perfectly for his playing style. He’s got to accept that. But with that said, I think Madrid has gone overboard with the changes they’ve made. It’s obvious the players, aren’t comfortable moving on the blue surface. Djokovic, said he won’t be coming back to play in Madrid, if they don’t reverse their decision.
Some people might call it whining but I feel it’s a legitimate complaint. The tennis courts are the workspace of a professional athlete. The last thing they want is for something to distract them from their job. Imagine if you were working in an office and your boss comes in to tell you that all of the company’s computers will be changed to an inefficient model that no one is familiar with. Wouldn’t it be really annoying to have to learn all of the new functions, while still being expected to maintain the same schedule? That’s what this reminds me of. An unfortunate change which is compromising the tournament’s credibility. Madrid, is already very different from the other clay court tournaments. The slippery surface is not an improvement.
I hope they will bring back the red stuff for next year. The ATP has stated that the blue clay was an experiment for 2012. It will be decided next year whether they’re going to keep it or not. Given the negative backlash against the change and potential boycotting I’d be surprised if they don’t turn it back to red.
I have a must see video for you. And it’s a special bonus if you like American junior tennis or Sam Querrey and Donald Young. This movie is called Unstrung. It’s a documentary covering the life of high level junior players, who are trying to become tennis pros. What this movie really gets right is the cutthroat aspect to junior tennis and the overwhelming pressure to succeed. There are some scenes at the Bollettieri academy with Nick giving his synopsis of what it takes to become a pro. Then they cover the lives of the different players and show them competing in the National playoffs in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Great stuff, really cool. Check out the video and let me know what you think.
I found something interesting at tenniswarehouse.com. A thread on the Roddick vs Nadal 2004 US Open match. I was delighted to find a link to the highlights, because I’ve never seen the match before.
This was the first meeting between them. At the time Roddick was playing some of his best tennis and Nadal was years away from his prime, especially on the faster courts. Roddick destroys Nadal, then goes on to reach the quarter-finals where he lost an epic 5 set match to Joachim Johansson.
Roddick’s game was at it’s monsterous best right here. He started off serving in the 140-150 mph range, completely overwhelming Nadal with his raw power. Nadal was still in that defensive clay court mode. You can tell, he hasn’t figured out how to deal with an aggressive baseliner on a fast surface. He looks completely out of sorts in this match.
Now compare it to the US Open quarters from last year.
This time the shoe is on the other foot. Roddick is the one getting beaten down. His serve and forehand have lost considerable power. To compensate for it, he decides to come in behind his serve and pressure Nadal into hitting passing shot winners. On the surface it’s not a bad strategy, but the net has never been a particularly comfortable zone for Roddick. And Nadal is such a great player that you can’t beat him with volleys unless you’re able to keep him running. Andy knows that he can’t out hit Nadal, so he tries to rush him into making mistakes. Unfortunately, it backfires and he loses in straight sets.
These videos demonstrate just how much their games have changed. Roddick and Nadal were both # 2 in the world and defending champions at the US Open. Makes you wonder who would win if the 2004 Andy met the 2011 Nadal on a hard court?
Have you seen these before?
I just recently came across them online. I thought this was a great idea. So cool, that I’m going to buy a couple of them.
I remember Djokovic, played with a smiley faced dampener in the 2007 US Open final. Back when he was endorsed by Wilson, but I had no idea they had come out with a whole line of emoticon dampeners. The one that’s missing unfortunately is the traditional smiley face. Though it’s no big loss. I still like the one with it’s tounge out, the best.