Verdasco Upsets Nadal, Thiem Advances in Miami

Well it was another interesting day in Miami with second seed Nadal getting upset 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 by Verdasco who he owned 13-1 in the head-to-head before the match. It was also Verdasco’s second consecutive victory over Nadal who he beat in Madrid in 2012 on blue clay. I thought Nadal would go deep in Miami given the slowness of the surface but it has to be remembered that this is one of the few Masters he has never won. And it looks very unlikely that he now ever will. I think this was another telling loss. After Nadal won Buenos Aires he got some confidence and played well in Indian Wells, only to lose to a very good Raonic. But this loss tells me that he is still badly struggling with confidence which is to be expected really.

He is now in a similar situation Roger was in in 2013 when Roger had a confidence crises. How things have changed since then! Nadal said after the match that he was feeling very anxious on the court and that he couldn’t control his nerves. That is exactly what a confidence crises entails. But again I think it would be a big mistake to write Nadal off. The clay season is next which will be the true test. If Nadal fails to win the French Open then he has a problem. He also said after the match that he is confident that he can turn things around again and that he is going to work hard at it. He has come back from adversity too many times in his career to write him off. Look how many people wrote Roger off in 2013 and how he proved them wrong.

If Roger can do it then surely Nadal can too. Take for instance 2011 where he lost in seven consecutive finals to Djokovic. You would have thought that would finally break his spirit. But he came back to win three slams after that, defeating Djokovic in three of them, and winning six of the next seven matches with Djokovic to turn the rivalry around again. He has also beaten Djokovic the last four times in slam meetings, although admittedly three of them were at the French Open. No Nadal, we are not overlooking the fact that you desperately need clay to rack up slams and dominate your rivalries. So once he takes the fall in Paris you just know it’s going to affect him big time. And hopefully Djokovic is the one who gets it done.

He is the one that deserves it, but I wouldn’t bet on him doing it. They have met a staggering six times at the French and Nadal triumphed each time, including in 2013 when Djokovic had him by the balls. And that can have a big psychological effect. Anyway my point is Nadal is dangerous to write off and I will only reassess the situation after the French Open. I have gone off the topic a bit. I was happy for Verdasco who got another win over Nadal after all the chokes. I will say again that Verdasco is one of the most talented players on tour and when his forehand is on it is better than both Roger’s and Nadal’s. It is simply a devastating shot but unfortunately he is mentally too unstable to have made better use of it, together with his other gifts.

Against Nadal he hit some forehand missiles and it was a beautiful sight. And even though Verdasco was playing well he still needed help from Nadal to get over the finish line. In the second set when Nadal tightened the screws Verdasco quickly imploded again mentally. But it was nice to see Nadal lose again. I don’t get the kick I used to out of his losses because it happens so often lately, but it is still fun. And if Verdasco was mentally stronger this would have been the outcome of most their meetings. Well onto someone else named Thiem who I am quite a fan of an who comfortably defeated Sock 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the fourth round. It was a high quality match and Thiem once again reminded us why he is a player for the future.

Yesterday I was also made aware of the fact that he was forced to do military service by his country Austria which caused him to miss six weeks of training in the off season. So it is no wonder he started the year slow but it looks like he is finally gaining momentum again. He has already had some good wins in Miami and has a great chance to make quarters because he now plays Mannarino who defeated Stan. That is another big disappointment for Stan because Mannarino is the type of player he should hit off the court. But I’m not complaining. I’d like Thiem to make quarters and take a shot at Murray, although Murray now plays Anderson who is capable of taking big scalps and have already schooled Murray once in Montreal.

Either way the bottom half is now quite open and should have been even more open, but Tomic choked big time against Berdych after serving for the match in the second set. Murray is probably still the favorite to make the final in the bottom half and that would give us another poor Djokoray match up in the final. But rather that than Birdshit in the final. That would be the worst possible. Today Djokovic is in action again against Darcis which should be an easy win for Djokovic. The only other match I have some interest in is Dimitrov vs Isner. Other than that today doesn’t look like a very interesting day and I will probably only make a post again in two days after Thiem and Murray has played. Until then!

 

Highlights:

So Far in Miami

Hey folks. Just an update on what has so far transpired in Maimi as my first post about live action for The Ultimate Tennis Blog. Quite a few seeds have already fallen, the highest of which was Lopez(10). Lopez lost to Thiem who I like quite a bit with his one-handed backhand and his attitude towards the game. He has been struggling quite a bit so far this year, not quite living up to the promise he showed so far. So it was nice for me to see him finally get another big win. He seems to like playing Lopez because this is now his second win over Lopez after straight setting him in the US Open third round last year. Thiem will now play Sock who defeated 21st seed Fognini. Sock has been playing well lately so it will be a tough match but winnable.

Another youngster who is showing promise is 17-year old Alexander Zverev, who recorded his first Masters Series level win in Miami with a win over Sam Groth. And yet another 17-year old Russian called Andrey Rublev won his first Masters level match with a win over Carreno Busta. The future of tennis is looking bright with the rise of Thiem, Kyrgios, Coric, Kokkinakis, Zverev, and Rublev. And then there are of course the slightly older generation of Nishikori, Dimitrov, and Raonic who have already established themselves to a certain extent. So the future of tennis is looking good. As far as Coric goes he also played Miami and won his first match, but then got bageled by Goffin. So from the youngsters only Thiem is left now.

I’ll take Hantuchova :D

Raonic, Dimitrov, and Nishikori all had easy wins so far. The same goes for big four members Nadal and Murray. Nadal didn’t look particularly impressive against Almagro but you can always rely on Almagro for unlimited amounts of choking. Nadal’s draw is a bit of a joke with his usual Spanish yes men nicely lined up for him. He now plays Fernando ‘Fiasco’ Verdasco after which he plays the winner of Monaco and Garcia-Lopez. Gulbis(14) again did his seeding an injustice when he lost to Monaco and desperately needs to fix his forehand which is a monstrosity. The tragic thing about Gulbis is that he used to have a decent forehand but then changed it to the current monstrosity which is technically the most flawed shot in tennis probably.

Nadal isn’t complaining. An in form Gulbis could have been a threat to him but now he may instead face one of his biggest admirers in Monaco. Hopefully Garcia-Lopez wins as he at least has a win over Nadal. But I think on these slow courts Nadal should easily make semis. Then he could play against Murray or Stan which could get interesting. Finally I get to Djokovic who dropped the second set against Klizan after bageling him in the opening set. I watched the first set and the beginning of the second set where Djokovic got broken but broke right back. I figured it would soon be over and went to bed. This morning I found out Djokovic actually served for the second set at 5-3 after which Klizan went on a tear of four straight games to win the second set 7-5.

The serve has become a potent weapon for Djokovic

But as was the case against Roger Djokovic just kept his level up to bread stick Klizan in the final set. I’m not surprised that Klizan won the second set because he is actually a very good player who has a win over Nadal for instance. So it was the same pattern as the Indian Wells final where the opponent played inspired tennis in the second set but couldn’t keep it up and convincingly lost the final set. Djokovic’s consistent high quality of play is what makes him so damn hard to beat on slow hard court. To win one set you have to play unreal offensive tennis that is impossible to keep up over the entire match, so he just goes ahead and finish you off as soon as your level drops again.

It really is spectacularly difficult to penetrate his unreal defense and base line consistency for long enough to beat him on slow hard court, which is why he is already probably the slow hard court GOAT. His movement, backhand, and return of serve in particular is unreal. Then his serve has become a real weapon and his forehand has always been good. I think he will win Miami without too much trouble too and do a record third Indian Wells/Miami double. Roger did it twice and should Djokovic get it done, while at the same time winning a fifth Miami title, it would be another huge hard court achievement. He really is becoming one of the all time hard court greats but for the moment Roger is still well ahead of him in that regard.

 

Highlights:

Welcome to The Ultimate Tennis Blog!

(Please read everything)

Hey folks. Some of you have realized already that I have a new blog url and title. So I just wanted to explain what it is all about and welcome you to my new blog! Well not exactly brand new but a few important changes nonetheless. Now, before you get worried that my blog won’t be about Roger anymore let me calm your fears by saying that this is still very much a blog for Fedfans, as has always been the case. But as you know for a while now I have been trying to emphasize the fact that this is first of all a blog about tennis and second of all a blog about Roger. Which is why I am calling it The Ultimate Tennis Blog. But also because my blog is about the very best in tennis. Or on the cutting edge of tennis if you will.

The big three and Murray to a lesser extent have always featured very strongly on my blog. So my blog has really been about what is going on right on the cutting edge of the men’s game. That doesn’t mean it is just about the big three plus Murray. I also follow tennis as a whole. I have a few other favorites than Roger. And not necessarily guys that are ranked in the top ten for instance. I also like to follow the progress of the young players like Coric, Kyrgios, and Thiem who is now coming through. Tennis has always been a big part of my life and I never really wanted my blog to be exclusively about Roger. For people who wants to blindly worship Roger there is always Jonathan’s blog. And I don’t mean that in a bad way.

Jonathan has done a terrific job with his blog and has become much bigger than my blog. But his blog is very much exclusively about Roger, as the title of his blog indicates(PeRFect Tennis). I have followed tennis for too long and have too broad an interest in tennis for it to be exclusively about one single player. You could argue that has been the case in the past with my blog, but if you followed it closely you would have noticed I always had interest in other players as well. And I have always had a problem with people who blindly worships Roger. I hate bias and when people can’t be objective. And I think a blog name change has been a long time coming. I tried The GOAT Blog for a while but it still referred too much to Roger and the url for it was not available anyway.

I wanted a url that would make it clear that this is not a fan blog, which Jonathan’s blog is. So if anyone here wants to follow a Federer fan blog then they are welcome to follow Jonathan’s blog. Or they can read both our blogs. The point is I don’t want a fan blog and never really did. But because of the name Federer in my previous url that confused things. So now there is no more reason for people to act like this is a Federer fan blog and blindly worship him here with their bias. Roger is and probably always will be my favorite player, but I don’t tolerate bias and lack of objectivity very well at all. The way I see it this blog is now more for the mature Fedfan and for people who are also interested in tennis as a whole.

People who don’t have a problem with Roger when he played his best and simply got beaten by the better player. I have already said that I am not crazy about Fedfans in general because they tend to be spoiled and very hard to please. So now that kind of Fedfan have no more excuses to come here and claim that this is a Federer blog. Contrary to what you may think, this blog will be more appreciative of what Roger is achieving at this stage in his career than the typical fan blog. This is because the emotion of blind worship won’t be involved and we can objectively appreciate the fact that Roger is still competing right at the top of the game at age 33. I see people on twitter all the time who get so emotionally involved in Roger’s matches that they simply can’t appreciate the greatness that is happening in front of them.

And to me that is a damn shame. It defeats the purpose of being a tennis fan or even a Fedfan when you are so emotionally invested in the match that you can’t appreciate the mind blowing tennis that is being played in front of you. So with my new blog I want to completely break away from that mindset and focus on tennis itself. It is about enjoying good tennis and great contests. If Roger wins then that is just a bonus. As far as my writing goes it won’t change much. But at least I won’t have to feel like I’m betraying my blog followers anymore if I say something positive about Djokovic or Nadal. And yes there are people who are that fanatic. If you say something positive about a rival of Roger then it is treated as heresy.

I have had enough of that nonsense once and for all and from now I will compliment whoever I want whenever I want and no one will complain or take offense. So I am looking forward to blog without the burden of having to always take into account the sensitive feelings of biased Fedfans. That also means I will probably be much more laid back and calm than in the past, when I often had to be harsh to root out the blind worship. And I don’t like to be like that. I want things to be calm and friendly. Another thing I will do is to allow guest bloggers to blog for me just to mix things up a bit and also to give you more posts. And guest bloggers don’t necessarily have to blog about Roger, although like I said my personal posts won’t change much.

I will make posts that doesn’t involve Roger but I have done that in the past anyway. Finally I think I still want to keep blogging when Roger is retired, which means I can just continue with Ultimate Tennis. Blogging about tennis and discussing with my readers is something I enjoy. You guys mean a lot to me and not just in terms of tennis. I have had this blog for more than six years now and your support has always been very much appreciated. There are too many to mention but there are so many great commenters that know a lot about tennis and are just good people. So I am very grateful to have this blog and it has kept me going through some tough times. Therefor I don’t want to just quit when things are better.

I hope you like the new blog title and as far as I’m concerned Roger is the ultimate tennis player so it still works well from a Fedfan’s perspective. The Miami Masters have of course started already and you can view the draw here. Roger will not be involved which kind of fits my new blog because I will be making posts that won’t involve him much. I am looking forward to watch Nadal’s progress in Miami, as well as Djokovic’s, Murray’s, Nishikori’s, and Stan’s. I see Thiem has also won a match for a change and now plays Lopez. Kyrgios is out with an injury and Coric’s progress will be interesting to follow too, as his draw looks pretty decent. Will Djokovic do the double for the third time and make it a fifth Miami title, one short of Agassi’s record?

It looks likely.