Sunday, August 29, 2010

Players Talk US Open

I know they're not new videos but given that I am actually in Spain right now, this is pretty much all I'll be posting about the US Open because I wont see any of it.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tennis Greatest Of All Time Debate

It is next to impossible to pick a 'GOAT' for tennis with so many incredible players spanning decades of play, but if you were going to try you have to consider technology, play restrictions and characteristics of a champion, not just statistics. It is hard to deny the records of Roger Federer and his style of play, which at his peak was borderline poetic, but my pick for GOAT is Rod Laver ahead of Roger.

Before all of Federer's fans start protesting too strongly I think you also need to have a look at the level of the competition during each period. Rod Laver had a huge range of high quality players such as Roy Emerson and Ken Rosewall to challenge him, whereas, until Rafael Nadal came along, there was no real challenge to Federer. Yes, Roger was head and shoulders above the competition but the level of the competition was also a lot lower - we all know Andy Roddick and a wildly fluctuating Marat Safin were never really going to pose a challenge.

1 - Rod Laver

Grand Slam titles: 11
Calender Year Grand Slam: Yes, twice in 1962 and 1969
Career Grand Slam: Yes
Australian Open: 1960, 1962, 1969
French Open: 1962, 1969
Wimbledon:  1961, 1962, 1968, 1969
US Open: 1962, 1969
Olympics: -

Rod played a technically beautiful serve and volley game, with incredible touch at the net and a precision serve that allowed him to dominate players in a time where technology (strings, racquets) didn't predispose players to significant spin or power.

Even though the old school wooden racquets didn't automatically produce spin, Laver introduced topspin into the game and used it more effectively than anyone else was able to consistently produce.

Nicknamed the "Rocket", Laver reached all three Wimbledon finals (singles and both doubles) in 1959. He was also part of the winning Davis Cup Australian teams between 1959-1962.

Laver's ability to accumulate Grand Slams was restricted by different rules for amateurs and professionals prior to the Open Era. Had Laver not been restricted from play during his peak years he would likely have won significantly more Slams. After 1968 professionals were allowed to compete in the Grand Slams (Laver had turned pro in 1962).

Laver's ability, dominance and style of play has been long admired by other greats such as Pete Sampras and Roger Federer.

Rod had a long running rivalry with Ken Rosewall between 1963-1976, but remains the only player of the Open Era to claim a calender year Grand Slam, let alone two!

In 1998 Rod suffered a stroke mid-interview with ESPN. Since retiring from tennis Laver has lived mostly in America and has attended numerous Grand Slam events, famously participating in the 2009 Australian Open trophy ceremony during which Roger Federer sobbed as he watched his idol present Rafael Nadal with the trophy.

2- Roger Federer

Grand Slam titles: 16
Calender Year Grand Slam: -
Career Grand Slam: Yes - completed 2009
Australian Open: 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010
French Open: 2009
Wimbledon: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
US Open: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
Olympics: Gold (Doubles) 2008

Jimmy Connors once said "In an era of specialists you're either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist.... or you're Roger Federer."

The devastating forehand of Federer, combined with his all-around talent allowed Roger to dominate the sport between 2003-2007, only ever being stopped from gaining the Roland Garros title in these years, and therefore multiple calender year Grand Slams, by his greatest rival Rafael Nadal. While Federer's statistics speak for themselves, something we hear about regularly from tennis media, other players, and the man himself, it is hard to call Federer the GOAT when he is seemingly unable to beat the second best (current wold number one), Rafa. Rafa leads their head to head 14-7 and until Federer can turn that statistic around I will always favour Laver ahead of Federer.

Prior to 2003 Federer averaged mostly fourth round appearances in Grand Slams, and the year before he claimed his first Grand Slam (Wimbledon 2003) he lost in the first round at the same tournament. As soon as Federer peaked he stayed there, accumulating the most consecutive weeks at number one (237) and the most prize money in one calender year (2007 - $10, 130, 620).

Federer, who has won in excess of 55 million dollars in prize money, stands with only Rod Laver and Andre Agassi as plays to have claimed career Grand Slams.

One of Federer's most impressive records is the fact he reached 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi finals between Wimbledon 2004 and the Australian Open 2010. This year Federer also organized Hit For Haiti, a charitable exhibition match featuring numerous high profile players the day before the Australian Open to raise money for earthquake hit Haiti.

3- Pete Sampras

Grand Slam titles: 14
Calender Year Grand Slam: -
Career Grand Slam: -
Australian Open: 1994, 1997
French Open: -
Wimbledon: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
US Open: 1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002
Olympics:  -

Pete, Wimbledon's most successful player ever, has had a well documented career, and a well documented lead in the Grand Slam tally until Federer surpassed his 14 titles in 2009. While Federer may have passed him in that respect Pete still has two more career titles and one more week (total) as world number one than the Swiss. Pete was also consistently ranked year end world number one between 1993 and 1998.

Pete's career is famous for it's rivalries, most notably with Andre Agassi and Pat Rafter. Agassi and Sampras have long traded insults, with their issues most recently spilling over in to Hit For Haiti and into Agassi's book 'Open'. Their most famous match was the 2001 USO quarterfinals where Sampras defeated Agassi in four tie break sets. He again defeated Agassi at the 2002 USO final, the final match of his professional career.

Pete's rivalry with Pat Sampras reached a peak when the placid Pat became irritated when Pete made excuses in 1998 for his USO loss to the Australian. He later said "When I see him holding the US Open trophy, it pisses me off." Sampras got his revenge in 2000 when he defeated Pat in the Wimbledon final, claiming his 13th Grand Slam.

When Pete played Roger Federer in 2007 in a battle of the greats, the scoreline read 2-1 in favour of Federer out of three matches. What should be noted is that Pete wasn't training and only narrowly lost the second match in two tie break sets.

He also stands with Federer and Bjorn Borg as the only players to have claimed at least one Grand Slam in eight consecutive years.

4 - Bjorn Borg

Grand Slam titles: 11
Calender Year Grand Slam: -
Career Grand Slam: -
Australian Open: -
French Open: 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981
Wimbledon: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980
US Open: -
Olympics:  -

Borg became a professional player at age 14 and at 15 had represented his country in Davis Cup. He was known for his prowess on grass and clay, completing the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double three consecutive years. He was also known for his strong baseline play and double handed backhand which was unusual at the time.

He reached the finals of the USO four times but never managed to win. In reaching the Wimbledon final in 1981 he had accumulated 41 consecutive wins on their grass courts before this record was broken by John McEnroe in a great five set match that has been rated as one of the best matches ever seen.

Borg also had an interesting personal life. While Arthur Ashe likened him to Elvis, Borg was rumoured to have suffered a drug overdose, made a suicide attempt and neared bankruptcy (the first two he denies). After retiring at the ripe old age of 26 in 1983, Borg made a failed attempt at a comeback with his wooden racquet in the early 1990's, showing the huge disparity between racquet technology.

Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe are the only players to have defeated him in a Grand Slam final.

5 - Jimmy Connors

Grand Slam titles: 8
Calender Year Grand Slam: -
Career Grand Slam: -
Australian Open: 1974
French Open: -
Wimbledon: 1974, 1982
US Open: 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1983
Olympics:  -

Until Roger Federer surpassed his record, Connors held the record for most consecutive weeks at number one (160) between 1974-1977 and spent a total of 268 weeks in to top spot throughout his long career.

Connors is also the only player who can boast winning the USO when it was played on all three surfaces. In 1974 he was forced to miss the French Open and with it the chance to claim a calender year Grand Slam.

The lowest moment in Jimmy's career came in 1986 when he was ejected from a tournament in Florida, fined $20,000 and given a ten week suspension.

Connors player so well for so long that he made the USO semi finals in 1991 at the age of 39. He is also the player with the most number of match wins as a professional (1337) in the Open Era. Connors struggled after 1991 as his body started to feel the effects of his career, undergoing wrist surgery and rehabilitation on a back injury. Connors career was so long that he was part of the racquet and technology revolution that changed tennis to what we see now.

In 2006, after undergoing a hip replacement, Connors started coaching Andy Roddick for a 19 month period.

Connors stands alone as the only player to have reached 12 consecutive US Open finals and 11 consecutive Wimbledon quarterfinals.

6 - Rafael Nadal

Grand Slam titles: 8
Calender Year Grand Slam: -
Career Grand Slam: -
Australian Open: 2009
French Open: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010
Wimbledon: 2008, 2010
US Open: -
Olympics:  Gold (singles) 2008

Rafa Nadal once called himself "a very good number 2" as he sat behind Federer in the rankings, but since 2008 he has emerged as so much more than The King of Clay. While he has now made four consecutive finals at Wimbledon (excluding 2009 where he did not play), winning the last two, both times winning the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double.

Nadal played one of the longest, and highest quality, five set matches against Fernando Verdasco in the 2009 AO semi final before backing it up to defeat Federer in the finals. Nadal, whose sportsmanship is widely commented on (as well as his strange court rituals), comforted a weeping Federer after the finals win.

One of Rafa's more impressive achievements is his head to head record against Roger Federer. Rafa leads 14-7. Famously Nadal beat Federer at age 17 on the hard courts in Miami in the peak of Federer's dominance.

Nadal, frequently dominant at all clay court tournaments, completed the first ever 'Clay Slam' this year, winning all three Masters 1000 events and Roland Garros. The Mallorcan was also the only winner of the Olympic Gold to hold a Slam on all three surfaces (French 2008- Australian 2009). He is the holder of the most consecutive clay court wins (81), and the only player to win 400 matches in less than 500 total matched (401-91).

Nadal's injury issues, particularly in 2009, have been well documented.

7- Fred Perry

Grand Slam titles: 8
Calender Year Grand Slam: -
Career Grand Slam: Yes - completed in 1936 (not Open Era)
Australian Open: 1934
French Open: 1935
Wimbledon: 1934, 1935, 1936
US Open: 1933, 1934, 1936
Olympics:  -

For three years Perry was the world's number amateur player and turned pro in 1937 and was therefore unable to compete in Grand Slam events consistently. Despite being the UK's last winner of Wimbledon, he was largely given the cold shoulder by the British people.It has been suggested that this was in part due to his working class background as well as his attitude towards the tournaments traditions and his playboy lifestyle.

During his career he was briefly accused of match fixing before he spent considerable time working on his fitness, after which time these accusations fell away. During his career he only ever lost two 5 set matches.

8 - Roy Emerson

Grand Slam titles:12
Calender Year Grand Slam: -
Career Grand Slam: Yes - completed 1964
Australian Open: 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967
French Open: 1963, 1967
Wimbledon: 1964, 1965
US Open: 1961, 1964
Olympics:  -

While Roy completed a career Grand Slam and win doubles title (16) at all Slams, he slips into my GOAT list at number 8 because for the vast majority of the years he was winning Grand Slams, particularly the AO, he was competing against amateurs as the worlds best were unable to compete.

Emerson was part of a record 8 winning Davis Cup teams between 1959-1967.

Emerson held the record for total number of singles Grand Slam titles until Pete Sampras broke it in 2000.

9 - Ken Rosewall
Grand Slam titles: 8
Calender Year Grand Slam: -
Career Grand Slam: -
Australian Open: 1953, 1955, 1971, 1972
French Open: 1953, 1968
Wimbledon: -
US Open: 1956, 1970
Olympics: -

Rosewall did not turn pro until 1957 and made four Wimbledon finals during his career but was unable to claim the title. As a result of turning pro in 1957 he was subject to exclusion from some tournaments between 1957 and 1967.

After 1972 Rosewall won 7 tournaments and struggled during most of 1973, aged 38. In 1974, for the first time in 22 years, Ken didn't win a singles tournament.

Between 1952 and 1977 Rosewall maintained his position within the world's top 20

10 - Andre Agassi

Grand Slam titles: 8
Calender Year Grand Slam: -
Career Grand Slam: Yes - completed 1999
Australian Open: 1995, 2000, 2001, 2003
French Open:  1999
Wimbledon: 1992
US Open: 1994, 1999
Olympics:  Gold (1996)

Andre is one of only six players to ever achieve a career Grand Slam, however, he is the only one to do so and win an Olympic gold medal. His form throughout his career fluctuated with Agassi struggling with personal issues stemming from his father forcing him to play tennis as a child. Agassi has maintained that he hates tennis as an individual sport, often being stopped by Pete Sampras, but Agassi has always excelled when the tennis was for something greater than the individual (charity, Davis Cup etc).

Andre was the rock star of his generation, famously losing a French Open final because he was too busy worrying that his mullet hair piece would fall off and his thinning hair would be revealed. Agassi worked extensively on his fitness and training with Gil Reyes who he now works with as part of the Adidas player development programme.

While Andre frequently skipped Wimbledon he finally ended his long career at the 2006 US Open. He currently lives in Las Vegas with wife, and former tennis champion, Steffi Graf and runs a education facility in Vegas.

In 1997 Andre tested positive for crystal meth but managed to avoid suspension and publication of the positive test. When he revealed that he had, in fact, been knowingly taking drugs while on a break from tennis, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were among great tennis players to voice their disgust.

Andre is now best known for his philanthropic pursuits.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Player Profile: Feliciano Lopez

Full Name: Feliciano Lopez Diaz-Guerra

DOB: 20th September 1981 (28)

Height: 188cm

Weight: 85kg

Turned Pro: 1997

Highest Rank: 20 (January 2005)

Current Rank: 25

Plays: Left handed, single handed backhand

Career Prize Money: $5, 140, 539 USD

Feliciano Lopez was born in Toledo, Spain but now lives in the nations capital in Madrid. His father, also Feliciano, worked as a tennis coach and taught Feli and his brother Victor how to play from a young age. Victor currently works in the business sector but sometimes travels with Feli and works as his hitting partner.

While Feli has been well known in Spain throughout his career, a frequent party boy and a media favourite he has struggled throughout much of his career to maintain a consistent level of play.

In 2005 Lopez became the first Spaniard to reach the quarterfinals of Wimbledon since 1972 with his game that is perfectly suited to grass. Lopez can play a brilliant serve and volley style tennis and is also a skilled doubled player, frequently contributing in Spain's Davis Cup doubles rubbers. In 2008 Feli again made the quarters at Wimbledon but again was not able to take the next step.

His most famous Wimbledon victory came in 2007 when he defeated Tim Henman in the second round, ending Henmans Wimbledon career.

Interestingly Lopez has played the most five set matches on tour that have gone passed 6-6 in fifth, once reaching 14-16 in the first round of the Australian Open in 2009 against Gilles Muller.

His first ATP level title came in 2004 in Austria and Feli did not claim another one until 2010 in Johannesburg. He has reached four other ATP level finals. The doubles duo of Lopez and best friend Fernando Verdasco claimed a title in 2004 in Stockholm and numerous important rubbers for Spain in Davis Cup.

In 2008 Feli played himself in a Spanish soap opera called Los Serrano.

After a string of first round losses in 2009, Lopez made it to the finals in an injury riddled Shanghai Masters at the end of the season before retiring against good friend and compatriot Rafael Nadal with an injured foot.

2010 has been a more consistent year for Feli, but also a more tumultuous one in his personal life. This year he has reached the third round at Barcelona, the quarter finals in Rome, upsetting Marin Cilic on his way. Most recently Lopez beat Nadal in the quarterfinals at Queens before losing in the semi's to Mardy Fish.

In 2010 it was announced that he had split with on/off girlfriend Maria Jose Suarez, a former Miss Spain, after nearly five years of dating. Not long after Maria revealed she was pregnant, that there was no hope of reconciliation and that Feli was barely speaking to her. In the last week it has become known that the pregnancy had to be terminated when it was revealed the baby wasn't developing.

Throughout his career Lopez has mostly had first to third round results in ATP level tournaments, with occasional quarterfinal appearances coming mostly either on grass or in front of his home crowd in Madrid when they played on hard courts.

Feliciano has done modeling regularly throughout his career and continues to be well known for his partying, most recently hitting Ibiza with Fernando Verdasco.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What Happened To Juan Monaco's Wrist?

Juan Monaco revealed in Madrid earlier this year that he was struggling with a wrist injury. Before long he was announcing he had decided to favour conservative management over surgery without anyone actually realizing how serious the injury was. He took a brief rest from competitive play but continued to practice and not surprisingly the injury didn't improve. At the time his website revealed that he had "boney odemea" and "synovitis". But what does this mean?

OMERACT defines boney oedema as  a "lesion within the trabecular bone, with ill-defined margins and signal characteristics consistent with increased water content." Boney oedema is frequently seen in arthritic conditions. In Juan's case it is most likely caused by low grade chronic wrist instability. The swelling and inflammatory infiltration into the bone affects tendon function which is vital in trying to control the instability.

While there are a few different types of synovitis, Juan not specifying if he had one of the more common types - tenosynovitis - it is generally a difficult injury to treat and is not uncommon in the presence of boney oedema secondary to chronic instability and overload.

The synovium, a fluid filled sheath (or a thin tissue layer that covers the tendon), becomes inflamed due to the repetitive stress a tennis player places on their wrist during play. If this remains untreated, or if players continue to play despite having pain, the synovium can become thickened and irritable making it difficult to settle. Surgery can be done to remove the inflamed synovium (synovectomy) or correct the underlying instability but is most frequently treated conservatively.

Both conditions will usually be treated with relative immobilization, Kinesio tape, rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, strength retraining, cortisone injections, and biomechanical assessment and correction.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Player Profile: Carlos Moya

Full Name: Carlos Moya Llompart

DOB: 27 August 1978 (33)

Height: 190cm

Weight: 86kg

Turned Pro: 1995

Highest Rank: 1 (1999)

Current Rank: Retired

Plays: Right handed, doubled handed backhand

Career Prize Money: $13, 443, 970

Carlos Moya grew up in Palma de Mallorca, Spain and started playing tennis at the age of 4. Moya burst on to the tennis seen in 1995 and quickly became the first Spanish world number one. Moya, who is naturally left handed but plays right handed, the opposite of the player he would mentor, Rafael Nadal, is currently dating Spanish actress Carolina Cerezuela. At the 2010 Australian Open the couple became aware that they were expecting their first child, which is due at the end of August.

In 1997 Carlos was runner up to Pete Sampras in the Australian Open and then went on to hit peak form in 1998. After winning Monte Carlo he went on to defeat Alex Corretja in straight sets to claim his first and only Grand Slam title at the French Open. Also in 1998 he made the semi finals of the US Open and was runner up at the end of year Tennis Masters, losing in five sets to Corretja.

Moya continued this run of form into 1999 where he was runner up in Indian Wells, giving him just enough ranking points to secure the number one ranking for two weeks. However, at the 1999 US Open he withdrew with a back injury which later turned out to be a stress fracture in his spine. He was able to play only two more tournaments that year and the injury affected him into 2000 where Moya struggled to stay inside the top 50.

After he recovered from the stress fracture Moya was never quite the same player although he did produce some great results, although most of his success came on clay.

In 2004 Moya was crucial to the Davis Cup victory Spain achieved over USA. In 2005 when he claimed the Chennai title he donated his $52,000 prize money to the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. Despite his injury issues Moya managed to stay within the top ten (for the most part) between 2002 and 2005.

Moya's next significant results came in 2007. Moya was runner up at the Medibank International, a semifinalist at the Hamburg Masters and a quarter finalist at the French Open where he lost to Rafael Nadal. Moya spent considerable time with Nadal as a junior acting as his mentor and giving him tips for how to survive the ATP circuit as well as giving him a high level hitting partner to look up to. While the two remain close friends Moya has revealed that when Nadal was young he asked the young Spaniard if he wanted a career similar to himself. Apparently Rafa apologized before saying he wanted a better one. Both Nadal and Moya are frequently seen socializing with one another and occasionally play doubles together.

2009 was a disappointing year for the former world number one. Nadal had taken over from Roger Federer as world number one, becoming only the third Spanish player to claim the number one spot, but for Moya things were looking bleak. He had some dismal results in the few tournaments he played before announcing an indefinite hiatus from tennis to recover from hamstring origin tendinitis and a foot injury that he sustained from overloading the foot trying to protect the hamstring.

Moya had surgery on his foot but remained driven to return to the circuit, still passionate about tennis. However his 2010 return was short lived. He made it to the second round of Indian Wells before he had to withdraw with another foot injury.

Moya has not played since Madrid in May and has not made it passed the second round at any tournament this year. As a result he has continued to slide down the rankings, falling to 641 in March 2010, his lowest ranking since he turned pro in 1995.

UPDATE: Moya retired at the end of 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Off To Spain

Hi Everyone,

Just to let you all know I'm heading off on 7 weeks holidays as of today so I wont be doing any match reports for the US Open. I have scheduled some articles to be posted while I am away so feel free to come back to Tennis Perspective regularly to read the posts.

See you all soon,


Friday, August 20, 2010

Nadal And Federer Share Some Laughs

Roddick Survives Soderling Test

It took Roddick six match points but eventually the American finally defeated Robin Soderling 6-4, 6-7, 7-6.

In the first set Roddick took an early break and looked to be in control before he handed the break right back to the Swede. Roddick, who has been battling mono, battled the umpire during the match over Soderlings delay challenges, and was still enraged by the issue after the match. Despite the set back the American was able to hold tough to win.

"The first set and a half was really, really good. Played a loose game there and then didn't play a great tie-breaker. Again, kept it together in the third and was able to get through. I thought I served pretty well and returned pretty well. I think each match is getting a little better. I came here with not a whole a lot of expectation. This probably exceeds what my confidence level was coming in, so I'm gonna leave this tournament, regardless of what happens, a lot more confident than I came. That's the first time I've been able to say that for a little bit."

Nadal Survives Benneteau... Just

Rafael Nadal has saved a match point to defeat Frenchman Julien Benneteau and reach the quarterfinals in Cincinnati. Nadal scraped through with the 5-7, 7-6, 6-2 win. In a nice touch the players posed with a disabled child at the start of the match, Nadal initiating contact with the child (who looked ecstatic) and his family. The little boy cheered in the stands (while wearing a Nadal Nike bull logo hat) as the world number one progressed through the match.

Julien got off to a flying start, winning the opening game after over 7 minutes, and breaking the world number one in the process. The Frenchman, who is currently ranked a career high 32, then fended off two break points in the following game to hold for a 2-0 lead.  A beautiful down the line back hand to bring up another break point, followed by a cross court backhand, allowed Nadal to level at 3-3.

It wasn't long before Benneteau worked his way into the lead, seeming to have a brilliant read on the Nadal serve. Bennetear looked nervous as he tried to serve out the set, fidgeting with his sweat bands before finally getting the job done with a fist pump as he took the first set 7-5.

After getting off to a good starting, breaking Benneteau early for a 2-0 lead, Nadal was broken twice after playing two terrible games and serving poorly. The Frenchman's backhand was on fire as he raced to a 3-2 lead with a break in hand. When Nadal struggles on hard courts it's because his return depth is too short, and this was no different.

Nadal's response was immediate, getting things back on serve by spreading the court and using his forehand effectively.

In the second set tiebreak Nadal quickly found himself with a 4-1 lead but the sensational hands and net skills of Benneteau saw the Frenchman work his way to 4-3. Two aces gave Benneteau a match point with Nadal to serve. The Spaniard absorbed the pressure and let out a huge cry of "Vamos!" as he fought back to get his own set point, with friend Fernando Verdasco watching. A wild forehand from Benneteau gave Nadal the second set and a chance to have some blisters on his foot taped and Julien had his legs massaged.

During the first game of the third set Benneteau started cramping, his right leg twitching uncontrollably. Bennateau was attended at the change of ends but before long Nadal had a healthy 4-1 lead. From there Nadal accelerated to the finish line taking the match 5-7, 7-6, 6-2.

"A match like this gives me a lot of confidence. I think he played great; he played very good tennis. Especially in the beginning I wasn't playing bad; I was playing not perfect, but well. He was playing really well, very aggressive, very good shots from his backhand, even if he arrive in not very good position. His serve works very well. Was a very difficult match. It's important for everything. A match point? Yeah. I am doing this well. I am playing aggressive. But I need to do better the next few days."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Justine Henin's 2010 Season Over

Justine Henin has announced that her 2010 season has been ended by the elbow injury she sustained during a fall in her match against Kim Clijsters at Wimbledon a few weeks ago. Henin was last see at the exhibition match between Clijsters and Serena Williams that was originally intended to be 'The Best of Belgium'.

At the event Henin was wearing an elbow brace to try and rest a partially ruptured ligament.

"I'm doing everything required by my medical team to get a good recovery of the injury I had at Wimbledon. I took several medical examinations in recent days and (things) are going in the right direction, it is encouraging news. It is still a slow recovery so I need to be patient again until the end of 2010.

For my preparation for competition in 2011 I cannot take any risks, so I hope to go back to practice in October and I will work hard to get ready for the new season."

Nadal Defeats Taylor Dent In Rountine Match

Rafael Nadal has had a routine round two match against Taylor Dent, defeating the American 6-2, 7-5. The opening set was essentially one way traffic for the Spaniard as Dent struggled on serve, and had even more difficultly stringing consecutive points together.

In the first set Dent frequently over-played, trying early to find a way to penetrate the Nadal game. Error after error came off Dent's racquet and in almost 30 minutes Nadal had wrapped up the first set.

Dent found his way in the second set, finding his first serve along the way. He broke Nadal for a 4-2 lead after and incredibly sloppy game from the Spaniard, however, the world number one wasted no time breaking back. From that point Dent only managed to win one more game. Nadal put the break down to Dent's impressive service power. "It happens when I play against big servers like Taylor. The match was close, and I was waiting to have my chance, but you are out of the rhythm from the baseline because he's not giving you the long point. It's difficult to have feel for the ball."

At one point Dent threw down an incredible 149mph service ace, but struggled with his second serve, winning only 32% of these point. It may have been an uninspiring match from Dent (who seems to have added more than a few kilos) but we have to remember that most people look like novices against Nadal and Federer. Dent has previously suffered from a serious back injury that required surgery and kept him off the courts for over a year.

The win marks Rafa's 35th win in 37 matches over recent weeks. His only losses were at Queens and Toronto last week.

Despite his success in recent weeks Nadal will struggle as always at the US Open, with his serve lacking the bite to really penetrate the court.

Nadal next faces Julien Benneteau.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nalbandian Pummels Ljubicic

David Nalbandian's fine form has continued in Cincinnati, where the Argentine defeated 15th seed Ivan Ljubicic 7-5, 6-0. The players traded breaks early in the first set but after Nalbandian clinched the first set, it was all downhill for the tall Croat. Scarily Ljubicic only won 6 points in the second set and only won one point on a second serve the entire match.

So impressive was Ivan's collapse, that he served 7 double faults, a large number for a player with such an incredible serve.

David next faces John Isner who also had an easy first round win against Lukasz Kubot.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Federer's New Ads

Roger Federer has just participated in a few great ads - one for Gillette and one for Nike... Enjoy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Clijsters Defeats Sharapova For Cincinnati Title

Kim Clijsters came very close to being runner up in today's Cincinnati WTA final. Maria Sharapova was ahead a set and 5-3 in the second set with match points before Clijsters refused to give in, aided by a rain delay. When play resumed Clijsters managed to edge out Sharapova in the tie break - just. Kim eventually claimed the title 3-6, 7-6, 6-2.

When Clijsters tried to close out the match Sharapova returned the favour by defending two match points, but couldn't defend the third. The win marks Clijsters 38th career title. Late in the second set Sharapova started complaining of heel pain. "It just kind of flared up out of nowhere, so we'll see how it is."

"I was so close to losing and then this dark cloud came. I thought I was hitting well from the baseline with her but my serve wasn't working well. During the delay I had to regroup and refocus, and when we came back to the court I played aggressively and turned it around. I'm really happy to win.

When the rain started falling, I was like, 'Oh, no.' I was feeling like I could hold here and get a chance for a break. I didn't feel like I was really in trouble. Before the break, I thought the match could go either way. I felt comfortable playing my groundstrokes. That was good, because my serve was nowhere to be found. When we came back out, I knew I had to battle throughout, because you're not starting 0-0. You have to be ready to go." - Kim Clijsters

Murray Ends Title Drought

Andy Murray has ended a 9 month title drought after winning back to back Canadian Masters titles, something which was last done by Andre Agassi in 1994 and 1995. He has also performed an incredible feat by defeating Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer back to back  without dropping a set to claim the title.

Murray survived extensive rain delays to defeat Federer 7-5, 7-5 in a much needed confidence boost. It is Murray's first title of the season, and his first title since parting ways with former coach Miles Maclagan. Since ending his relationship with Miles, Andy has made the finals in LA and now claimed a Masters title ahead of Cincinnati which starts Monday.

The match had numerous momentum shifts, with Andy getting an early double break for a 3-0 lead before Federer pulled his game together and broke Murray back. A dip in concentration from the Scot allowed Federer another chance as he drew even at 5-5 before Murray struck again, serving to close out the set.

The numerous rain delays didn't allow Federer to find momentum on his forehand which produced multiple uncharacteristic unforced errors throughout the match.

Interestingly since splitting with Miles, Murray has talked about feeling free to express himself on court, which leads me to wonder if his last few months of poor form were caused by the deteriorating relationship in Team Murray.

"Just felt pretty calm on the court all week, and that's if you can put sort of the emotions and how you're feeling into I guess the way you're playing rather than sort of showing it after every point, sort of saving up and putting into the points and the rallies. I felt like it worked well. It was one of the best weeks I've had. It was just kind of expressing myself with the way I was playing. I played pretty free flowing tennis and didn't get too nervous.

Winning a tournament is always great, but it's the first time I beat Roger and Rafa in the same tournament, which is probably the most pleasing thing, and then didn't drop a set against either of them. So it's good for the confidence for the next few weeks."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Where Is Feliciano Lopez?

We haven't seen a lot of Feli Lopez since news broke that he was no longer going to be a father after his ex-girlfriend Maria Jose Suarez announced her pregnancy had ended in heartbreak. Feli seemed to thrive under the pressure and extra attention when news first broke that he was to be a father. However, recently we haven't seen much of Feli as he and Fernando Verdasco have struggled to find form over the last few weeks.

Thanks to Twitter we know what Feli's been up to.

In Toronto he spent some time with Rafael Nadal on the practice courts. He also spent some time with fellow Spaniard David Ferrer training and heading down to Niagra falls to enjoy life as a tourist.

Feli is next scheduled to play a qualifier in Cincinnati before a meeting with Nadal if he passes his first round challenge.

Second image from Vamos Brigade

Ivanovic's Form Halted By Injury

Just when Ana Ivanovic had found some form and was playing quite well she has been hit with a foot injury in Cincinnati. Ana had her foot taped during the match but it wasn't long into the match before she was wincing in pain and reported hearing a crack in her foot. Her opponent, Kim Clijtsters, told waiting media that she "knew Ivanovic wasn't faking it."

After the match Ivanovic said "I was very scared. All of a sudden on that one shot, I felt something crack a little bit. Just on that one forehand when I went to step around it, I just felt like pain all of a sudden, so much pain in my foot and I couldn't step on it anymore. I tried bit of tape, but I could not put any weight on it and there was no point in me continuing."

Doesn't sound good for Ana in the lead up to the US Open, particularly not if it turns out to be a stress fracture or a bruised sesamoid bone (like what kept Clijsters off the tour for a few weeks earlier in the year).

Ana's withdrawal means Kim is through to the finals.

Roddick On Way To Cincinnati With Mono

After his recent loss to Gilles Simon in Washington Andy Roddick said he would get to the bottom of whatever has been plaguing him, an he has. Roddick has revealed he has a mild case of Mono (glandular fever) the same illness that bothered Roger Federer early 2008 and that has kept Mario Ancic off the circuit (on and off) for nearly three seasons.

Roddick has long been honest that his poor form was related to ongoing fatigue issues of an unknown origin and is now relieved to know what the issue is. Despite the illness Roddick says he hopes to do well and the US Open.

“I've been dealing with a mild, mild case of mono for the last couple of months that I wasn't really sure about. They think I'm fine now, that I'm most of the way through it, if not all the way through it.  So I think more than anything else, it's kind of a mental relief. I enjoy training all day and running all day and doing all that stuff.  I opted out of probably four or five workouts this summer that I've never done that before.  So that wasn't fun.  It was just me wondering if I was out of shape or what was going on, why there was this lethargic feeling. I'm feeling better. I felt a lot better in Washington than I had training."

Roddick said his doctor approved his entry into Cincinnati, saying, "The good news is you're probably ready to rock. Be a little careful, but you should be fine to go."

“It's weird, the fear of kind of the unknown and not knowing what's going on. There were some days where it was good, and some days where it was real bad. So it was like you would have one of those two or three good days, and it was like, ‘OK, you're just being kind of a wimp.’ So it's nice to have a little bit of clarity moving forward. It's not something that's going to affect me, anything super-serious.”

What I don't understand is why it took so long for him to get his blood tested. Hopefully Roddick can find some form and work his way back into the top ten.

Murray Defeats Nadal In Straight Sets

Andy Murray is a step closer to claiming his first title without a coach, and his first title for the year after he defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 in 1 hour 44 minutes.

The key to Murray's success was re-finding the aggression he brought to his quarterfinal match against the Spaniard at this years Australian Open. Murray successfully kept the ball away from Rafa's forehand which is no easy feat. While Murray's over all service percentages were not too impressive, what was impressive was his ability to overpower Rafa and the way in which he forced Nadal back into defensive positions just when the Spaniard looked set to make a recovery.

Murray last claimed a title in November in Valencia and will be desperate to successfully defend last years Canadian Masters title and cease the title drought. At the moment Federer is leading Novak Djokovic 6-1, 3-3 so it looks as though we will see a rematch of the Australian Open final, and while Roger is suffering a 7 month title drought, I hope Murray can find the form to take this one home - he needs the confidence and we need a little more competition back in the sport.

With the recent poor (or less than stellar) form of Federer and Murray tennis has become almost a one way street and as much as I love to see Nadal win I do enjoy watching different players like Berdych, Nalbandian and Juan Martin del Potro get into the mix. Better players means more exciting competition and tennis needs more than just a Nadal-Federer rivalry.

“I always enjoy playing against him and I’ve played quite a few times on hard courts, been a lot of good matches. He’s obviously tough to play against because of his, I guess, desire. He defends very well, moves well and he’s got a forehand that, when he’s allowed to dictate play, is very, very tough to play against because you end up doing a lot of running. There’s always a lot of long rallies; you can always get yourself into a rhythm against him and there’s always a lot of entertaining points. I have to be pretty aggressive and serve well when I play him.”

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Federer Holds Tough To Win

Roger Federer has narrowly escaped defeat once again at the hands of Tomas Berdych, winnint their quarterfinal 6-3, 5-7, 7-6. Berdych had a chance to serve for the match at 5-2 in the third set but faltered.

Federer came out swinging early in the match, aggressively hunting down the ball in a way we haven't seen him do in some time. Notably Federer was not only letting his forehand swing freely but also his backhand, his weaker wing.

Berdych lifted his game in the second and fended off break point chances before managing to avoid a tie break and clinching the second set on a loose service game from Federer at 6-5.

Early in the third it seemed like one way traffic as Federer abandoned the aggressive play that got him the first set. As Berdych stepped up to serve the crowd went wild, screaming and chanting for Federer and something changed in the match as well. Federer fired up and Berdych was unable to stop him -only just. But in the end it doesn't matter how close it was. Federer has still ensured that all of the men's top four will contest the semi finals.

“Sometimes you don't have much say playing against a player with the power of Berdych and he's on a streak. This is why this is a great victory for me, great to stop him, good for me, for my confidence his week and next week and the following week.  I could definitely take a lot out of this victory. I don't want to lose any of the matches,  especially not against a guy once, twice, or three times in a row, but then you've got to give credit to the guy, too.  He's been playing really well.  He's been dangerous.  He's been taking advantage of tough draws now and making moves.  That's tough to stop him.

The crowds were absolutely amazing.  Rarely do you get those kind of atmospheres, so I knew that was something special.  I have always around the world great support, but when it gets so loud and so exciting, it's obviously something different.  Adrenaline starts going, and you hope you come out, you know, on the better end at the end, and that's what I was able to do.  I'm really, really happy. I thought was going to slip away again like at the beginning of the season, but I was able to turn it around.  It was definitely huge at this point.  It was the crowd on top of it... I tried to take out a few things from Wimbledon, but honestly, out there I was thinking of the Miami match, and that one kind of played out pretty similar except this time I made it.” - Roger Federer

“How can I be happy after losing 7-6 in the third when I was serving to close out the match? I'm really sad after a match like that. I think that's the worst thing… I hate losing any match."  - Tomas Berdych

Nadal Defeats Kohlschreiber For Semi Final Berth

Rafael Nadal has booked a place in the Roger's Cup semi final's where he will face Andy Murray in a rematch of their brilliant Australian Open quarterfinal which ended in Nadal withdrawing injured. Nadal struggled to find his momentum early in the match before racing to the finish like 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours.

In his opening service game Nadal quickly fell behind 0-40, he made a brief comeback before the aggressive play of Kohlschreiber won the break. The German, who has never beaten Nadal, quickly raced to a 3-0 lead, taking advantage of some short, high balls off the world number one's racquet.

Nadal shook his head in disbielf as he struggled to find his range in the beautiful day-time conditions. Philipp powered on, showing off some impressive net skills and pushing Rafa around the court anad forcing the Spanaird into defence mode. Nadal had been standing up in the court in his previous matches, but for the first set and a half Rafa seemed to morph back in to an older version of himself, standing well behind the baseline.

Somehow Nadal turned it around and reversed the scoreline by breaking Philipp and getting a handy 3-0 lead in the second set. Aside from that minor blip, Kohlschreiber was strong on serve, despite the slow decline of his first serve percentage.

After winning the second set 6-3, Nadal continued to work his way into the match, slowly but surely breaking down Kohlscreibers serve and forehand, taking the ball sooner and rushing the German into error.

In the third game of the third set Rafa had three break point chances, and after hitting another wide he thumped his shoe with his racquet - an unheard of expression of anger from the placid Spaniard. After fending off a fourth break point Philipp pushed Rafa deep in the court and followed it up with an intellegent drop shot landing just out of the quick Spaniards reach to hold.

Nadal struck in the seventh game, breaking Kohlscreiber to love to position himself comfortably in the lead at 4-3. Somehow Nadal dug a ball back that was behind his body to create a brilliant cross court passing shot. He finished off the game with a brilliant down the line forehand. It was becoming increasingly evident that the huge decline in Kohlscreibers first serve percentage (down from mid 80's in the first set to mid 30's in the third) that was making it easier for Nadal to control the points, and more and more difficult for Philipp to continue playing what was brilliantly inspired attacking tennis.

Philipp managed to do the unthinkable when serving for the match - beat Nadal's legs with a drop shot three times, saving the game with a beautiful cross court backhand. Playing faster between points,  (interestingly with no signs of the $500,000 watch) Nadal's forehand was lethal in closing out the match

After the match Nadal expressed disappointment with his play for half of the match but was happy to be in the semi's again. "Philipp played well at the beginning and I made a lot of mistakes, but I found confidence on my serve in the second set and finished the match much better.”

Men's Top Four Players To Battle For Roger's Cup

The top four players in the world, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, are the only players left standing to battle in the semi finals for a chance to win the title. But who will win?

I think it's probably fair to say Roger Federer will beat Novak but will it really be Roger's Cup?

Roger hasn't won a title since the Australian Open and Murray hasn't won a title all year so it's a huge chance for both players. Murray, if he can serve consistently well, will have a good chance against Rafa Nadal who is returning after a significant period of rest following treatment on his knees.

While both Rafa and Murray are a little rusty, I think Nadal is more likely to find his form in the semi. To his credit Murray, without a coach on the hard courts, halted the progress of David Nalbandian in little over an hour but I think Rafa's ready for (and always keen for) a battle.

Semi Picks

Nadal V Murray: Nadal in 3 sets

Djokovic V Federer: Federer in 2 sets

Finals Picks

Nadal V Federer: Nadal in 3 tight sets
Despite the fact I have a feeling Roger might actually win - he's shown he's hungry for a title and for an improvement by hiring a coach (even if it's temporary) - but I think we're about to see a shift with Rafa exerting his dominance over Federer on hard courts. Nadal's looking more positive and rested than he normally does this time of year and he'll be looking for titles to find his momentum leading into the US Open.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Nadal Finding His Range

Rafael Nadal has proved today that not only is he feeling rested but that his knees are also feeling just fine after confidently overcoming Kevin Anderson 6-2, 7-6. Anderson commendably tried to work Nadal around the court and keep points short by coming to then net but ultimately the Spaniard was too strong. Rafa shook off the rust after his match against Wawrinka and produced the aggressive play we've seen from him this year by standing on or inside the baseline for many of his returns, refusing to be pushed back into a defensive position by the enormous Anderson serve.

Both Nadal and Anderson opened with convincing service games, with the huge serving South African giant sending serves down regularly in excess of 215kmph. Nadal pushed hard in the third game, eventually finding his way to break point which he converted with a beautiful off balance backhand in the mid court after a back and forth net tussle with Anderson.

In the seventh game with Anderson serving, the South African was given a lesson about the perils of coming into the net on Nadal's backhand as the Spaniard easily changed the ball direction, pummeling it just out of Anderson's reach down the line. After a brilliant precision lob from the Spaniard that brought up double break point, Anderson stepped up and produced some smart play to fight back but an error at the net and a forehand passing shot winner from Nadal put the world number one ahead 5-2.

In the fifth game of the second set Anderson was forced to fend off triple break point after Kevin again made an approach shot to Nadal's backhand that was handily dealt with but he couldn't hold out for long. Nadal struck early just like he had in the first set.

Anderson suddenly started working Nadal's forehand - so well in fact that he broke back to level the set at 4-4 before holding confidently for a 5-4 lead.

In the tie break Nadal raced to a 3-0 lead before Anderson worked his serve and Nadal's forehand to get within reach at 3-2. An incredible half volley was just far enough out of Anderson's reach that Nadal extended his lead to 5-3. A huge forehand from the South African save a match point at 6-5 but the phenomenal forehand of Rafa gave him another chance, this time on his serve. When Anderson pushed the ball long, fireworks went off to signal the end of play after an hour and 42 minutes.

When he spoke to the media after the match Nadal said he was happy with his level of play. “Seemed like I had the match under control in the second, 4-2, but I had two mistakes with my forehand, and he played two good points. And after that was really tough second set, no? But I am very happy how I played, especially the first set. It was very good.”

Murray Struggles, Nadal Buys Some Bad Pants

Andy Murray survived a horror second set against Gael Monfils before winning the third round match 6-2, 0-6, 6-3. Both players came out attacking from the outset, but it was Murray who was the more consistent of the two, and more able to produce the shots he needed at the big moments. Monfils played his normal showy match which can, at times, cause him to produce errors that can ultimately cost him dearly.

As the second set began it looked like it might be a simple straight sets victory for the Scot who had been changing up his play nicely. However, Murray's game soon abandoned him again and he began throwing in errors consistently throughout play.

After Murray's mid match meltdown and an early break in the third Monfils continued to throw his body around the court as he is prone to doing, landing on his shoulder (one of his many injury plagued body parts) at one point. After the fall and an injury timeout Monfils looked less inspired and Murray ultimately wanted it more.

In other unrelated news, Rafael Nadal was seen out and about in Toronto with those unappealing brown loafers again, this time paired with some interesting pants... If you look back over some of Nadal's fashion decisions this year (brown loafers, horrid brown shorts at Indian Wells and more) there have been some interesting combinations and choices (although I have to give him credit for his clay court outfits).

Federer Beats Llodra In A Shirt Exchange

With Paul Annacone by his side in Toronto for the Rogers Cup, Roger Federer told media that he wants to claim 20 Grand Slams in his career. Given the fact he has already reached 16, I think this is not overly ambitious but it also gives insight to Federer's mindset - a man who 12 months ago would have been far more optimistic about the future of his career.

Federer may not have won a tournament since he claimed his 16th Slam in Australia earlier this year but he has beaten Michael Llodra 7-6, 6-3, rallying from a 1-4 deficit in the first set. Federer initially struggled with Llodra's chip-charge tactics, being rushed by the aggressive play that saw Llodra come within two points of taking the first set. Eventually Federer worked out a way to pass the Frenchman. “It is fun playing that kind of a style once in a while. I kind of miss it, obviously. Having come through the rankings back in '98, '99, 2000, I was facing many of those kind of players, especially on the faster courts indoors.”

Federer now faces a recent growing problem - Tomas Berdych. World number 7 Berdych has beaten Federer a few times this year, each time becoming more confident that he can overcome the former world number 1. Berdych clipped Federer in Miami and then thumped him in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. It will be an interesting match because I don't think Berdych is in quite the form he was in a few weeks ago and Federer will be out for revenge as well as looking for those few extra points to pass Novak Djokovic and position himself at number two again.

Interesting at the end of his match with Llodra, the Frenchman approached Roger shirtless at which point they swapped shirts. "Roger is a legend. It's a good present for my kids." Interestingly at one point during the match Llodra sent Federer an underarm serve - his first in all his years on the tour.

Nalbandian's Hot Streak Continues

David Nalbandian has extended his career best winning streak, now at 11 consecutive wins, after defeating Swede Robin Soderling 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. The Argentine was playing so well that he was rapidly changing the direction of play on difficult shots and when he missed it was only out by the smallest of margins.

After losing the first set Nalbandian came charging back, leaving Soderling bemused and at a loss for an answer after the former world number 3 would produce down the line winners from nowhere. Nalbandian put on a seamless display of tennis in the third set, dismantling Soderling's game with his incredible power an accuracy.

Robin, a consistent top performer this season, didn't seem to have any answers, even with his ability to produce incredible shots at end of range. An incredible down the line backhand thumped by Nalbandian brought up match point as he once again showed his ability to produce incredible shots at difficult moments. He followed it up with another brilliant backhand return that wrong footed Soderling and forced hm to push a ball wide.

“I think it’s a good victory for me. This match as a different category than a player from last week or even David Ferrer this week. But I’m feeling good. I felt good today. In the beginning I had chances and couldn’t take it. And then I played very good and I’m going to try and keep going. I’ve been out a long time on the circuit and I’m really enjoying this time now.

I just think like I get a long break. That makes me think like I have three or four more years to play at a good level. That stop made me think about that and gave me more motivation to come and play and enjoy and work at my last few years on the tour."

Nalbandian was pleased with his performance, drawing a smiling face with a tongue poking out on the camera after the match. He will now face Andy Murray who played a topsy-turvy match against Gael Monfils, losing the second set 0-6 before coming back to claim the match.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ana Ivanovic Rejects Montreal Wildcard

With one Williams sister missing (Serena) and the other (Venus) looking unlikely to attend Montreal and Ivanovic putting on a good show Cincinnati , tournament director Eugene Lapierre has had a change of heart about giving Ana a wild card. A few weeks ago he spoke to the press saying the Serbian had not performed well enough to warrant, or in his words 'deserve', a wild card.

It's fair to say Lapierre is eating his words now he has angered the Serbian, and there is no sign that she will ever return to the place of her former glory. When talking to the press in Cincinnati Ivanovic said, "It's very tough, you know. When you're not playing well and when you're low, you need friends who can help you, you know, not remind you of your poor form in the press as well."

Ana took to her website to express her disappointment.

"I would have loved to have played in Montreal, but I was quite hurt by the comments of Mr Lapierre that I was shown in The Montreal Gazette recently. I don’t think his comments were necessary, and they contradicted everything he had told my management previously: that I was not getting a wild card because I am not Canadian.

The fact that my original request was turned down isn’t really an issue. I would have been happy to play qualifying, but I felt that they kind of stepped over the line with this interview, making public our correspondence and even misrepresenting it. Unfortunately I don’t feel welcome at this tournament.

Even though I haven’t played many matches, the training and travel take their toll, and I think this is the right decision to make, for several reasons."

Nadal Passes Wawrinka Challenge

Rafael Nadal survived a rusty second round match against Stanislas Wawrinka after playing the longest tie break of his career in the first set, winning it 14-12. Despite the rust Rafa showed promising signs that his legs would carry him to New York where he hopes to complete a career Grand Slam and claim his third Slam this season.

After a little over four weeks off, Nadal committed an uncharateristic 27 unforced errors in the opening set. Wawrinka worked hard to push Rafa, almost breaking him in the tenth game before the two went into the epic tie break. The first set lasted 91 minutes.

Eventually Rafa was able to close out the match with his characteristic flare 7-6, 6-3.

“It’s never fun to play tie-breaks like this because lots of pressure in every point. But if you win, it gives you a lot of confidence, so always important win tie-breaks. I have a little bit of everything today being the first match after a while without competing. I had difficult moments. I had moments that I played well. I played more aggressive in the second set on the return. So I did a little bit of everything, and that's very positive.”

Nadal will next face the big serving Kevin Anderson who dismissed Sam Querrey in their second round match.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Djokovic Nadal Doubles Duo Doesn't Last

The much hyped pairing of world number 1 Rafa Nadal and world number 2 Novak Djokovic has ended before it really got a chance to start. The duo were beaten in the first round by Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic 7-5 3-6 8-10 in the Canadians ATP debut. The top two singles players worked hard to secure the first set before the underdogs ran away with the match, claiming the last three games of the second set quickly before bolting to a 4-0 lead in the tiebreak.

Djokovic and Nadal saved three match points before Pospisil and Raonic closed out the match. It was a disappointing end to a match the duo would have expected to win, and to a pairing many fans would have been keen to see.