Federer Scores 200th Clay Win Over Nieminen in Istanbul

  • Federer vs Nieminen

So Roger notched up his 200th career win on clay today with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Nieminen in the second round of the inaugural Istanbul Open. I watched and although it was not an awfully exciting match at least Roger got another win on clay under his belt after the Monte Carlo blunder. With a head-to-head of 14-0 between the two Nieminen was never gonna trouble Roger, but at least he put up better resistance in the second set and made Roger work a little harder.

Nieminen has about as many weapons as Wozniacki which means he provides Roger with a good practice hit basically. As far as Roger’s game goes he served well with 63% first serves and 9 aces, but he made too many unforced errors off the ground. Fortunately for him it was just Nieminen so he didn’t pay for it. Roger will play Gimeno-Traver in the quarterfinals who he has never played before and who is just about your standard Spanish dirt baller.

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The Spaniard has never won an ATP title in his life and sits at #62 in the rankings. Roger’s draw is now even easier on paper than it was at the outset because Gimeno-Traver defeated the 6th seed Kukushkin with ease. It looks like Roger will stroll to the title here which he should do if he wants to become a factor in the clay court season. The most difficult opponent he can face is Dimitrov who has had a pretty pathetic season so far. I won’t even be surprised if he loses before the final.

  • The Young Guns

As far as the youngsters go this week Alexander Zverev had a first round win over Becker but then lost to Kohschreiber. Kyrgios also won his first round in Estoril in the third set tie-break and just defeated his second round opponent too. Coric also won his first round in Estoril against 6th seed Chardy but plays his second round tomorrow. Finally, Thiem survived his first round in Munich by the skin of his teeth as he defeated Pospisil 9-7 in the third set tie-break. He plays Fognini tomorrow which should be very interesting.

The youngsters are coming!

Highlights:

Stats:

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The  is in your court.

Djokovic Withdraws From Madrid Open

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http://www.marca.com/2015/04/27/tenis/1430133677.html

An interesting development today as the Djoker withdrew from Madrid after having won four big titles already this season. He gets an exempt which means he won’t be penalized for skipping the Masters, after having played on the tour for a minimum of 12 years, as well as more than 600 matches.

  • An Opportunity for Nadal

The first thing that comes to mind after the Djoker’s withdrawal is Nadal, and the fact that he could very much use the title in Madrid for his confidence. I already argued that the Djoker playing Madrid and Rome is a good thing so that he can prevent Nadal from winning any titles before the French Open, in an attempt to keep his confidence low. But as it turns out, I don’t think this is a bad decision. There is a certain amount of risk involved, but I don’t think Nadal will win Madrid.

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“Try my best, no?”

If the Djoker was going to miss one of Madrid and Rome, then Madrid is the right one because it is the high altitude and Nadal is less likely to win it. There are plenty of players who can hit him off the court in his current form. Of course, Nadal will view this as a great opportunity with his nemesis not in the draw, and he will do whatever is in his power to take advantage of it. Nadal’s form is even worse than it was last year though, and already there he should have lost to Nishikori in the final of Madrid, was it not for Nishikori getting injured.

Nishikori is looking very good again this year so he is there for insurance should Nadal make the latter rounds. Nadal is always hard to predict and there is a possibility that he can win Madrid, but there is also the possibility that he can get hit off the court early on by several players. Someone that comes to mind is Isner who is very difficult to deal with in the altitude with his serve, but there are several others who could prove to be a problem for him. Who knows, maybe even Roger if he plays well.

  • An Opportunity for Federer

Roger has already defeated Nadal once before in Madrid on clay. He will be the top seed in the Djoker’s absence while Nadal will be the third seed. I hope Nadal falls in Roger’s half because I don’t trust Roger to defeat Nadal if they both make the final. In fact, a match with Roger could be just what Nadal needs right now because he loves playing Roger. I prefer they don’t meet at all, but either way there is an opportunity for Roger in Madrid in the absence of the Djoker.

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Fed and his clone in Istanbul

He probably needs to win Istanbul first though to have any shot in Madrid. The loss in Monte Carlo would have hurt and he needs the confidence of a title right now, especially one as small as Istanbul. If he can’t even win that then his confidence will take another hit. If he wins Istanbul then he can go to Madrid feeling good about his game and have a real shot at the title with the altitude which suits his attacking game. So this is pretty exciting for Fedfans, but first we need to see what happen in Istanbul.

  • An Opportunity for Nishikori

Going by current form, Nishikori is probably the second best player on clay behind the Djoker right now. He played some amazing clay court tennis in Barcelona to win the title and other than the big three he is probably the biggest threat in Paris this year. He already made the final last year in Madrid and would have won the title had he not gotten injured. He may, in fact, be the favorite for the title in the Djoker’s absence. I’m pretty sure neither Roger nor Nadal wants to see him in their half of the draw.

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A serious threat on the dirt

  • Some Closing Observations

With the withdrawal of the Djoker from Madrid it certainly makes the event more open and interesting, all be it at the risk of Nadal winning the title. Fedal, Nishikori, and the likes of Raonic and Berdych will all be sensing an opportunity here. Raonic and Berdych with their big games will be a big factor in the high altitude of Madrid as well. Definitely guys Fedal does not want to see close to them in the draw either. Madrid is now quite open like I said and I’m looking forward to a very interesting event.

I think the Djoker made the right decision too. He has played an awful lot already and he does not want to burn out toward the end of the year like he did in 2011. And the facts that he will not get penalized as well as Nadal’s poor form in the high altitude makes it an even better decision. It seems he is learning and becoming quite wise with the scheduling himself, the way Roger always was. This break will do him the world of good before the big onslaught in Rome and Paris.

If he is going to finally win the French Open this year and clinch the all important career slam in the process, then he will need to be as fresh as possible and be at the height of his physical and mental powers. Let Nadal cope with difficult opponents in high altitude in front of a crowd that is basically anti-Djokovic anyway. Why waste his energy on that biased crowd when he can recharge batteries and watch Nadal deal with the likes of Nishikori, Raonic, Berdych, and Roger in high altitude?

The  is in your court.

Gulbis Criticized Big Three in No Holds Barred Interview

In an interview with a Latvian newspaper translated by On the Go Tennis, Ernests Gulbis criticizes Novak Djokovic for how he’s changed since becoming successful.

“I’ve known him since I was 12 years old,” Gulbis said. “We trained and lived together in the same room in Munich. I remember he was a normal, cool guy. But when he achieved his first big success then the look in his eyes just changed. You could just feel it. It’s not like we argued or anything, I just feel like he has changed and I don’t like that in people. I like strong characters who don’t change when first success or money appear—that’s the most important quality for me and it’s also important for myself not to change.”

Earlier this year, Gulbis said that the men’s Top 4 players were boring. In the interview last week, he said top players are image-conscious, “money-earning machines.”

“To be honest I actually like to provoke others sometimes. I said few times about Nadal and other top players that they are boring in their interviews and such. Everybody just acts the same, everybody’s the same,” Gulbis said. “I don’t want to be like all the others, I want to be different. Top players are money-earning machines—if they would say something ‘not right’ then they could lose contracts, sponsors and they are afraid of it. If you have started to act one way then you have to continue to act that way—Roger started to act as Swiss gentleman and now he has to continue to act like one, if he did something different, nobody would understand that. I’m all for individualism.”

http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2013/09/gulbis-doesnt-how-djokovic-has-changed/49191/#.VTz-fSFViko

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  • Djokovic’s Character

Some good stuff here. I just went ahead and posted the whole article because most of it was quoted anyway. This interview was back in 2013 and not much would have changed since then. At first glance what Gulbis says about the Djoker is not very complimentary, and I for one don’t like it when success changes people. That is indeed a sign of poor character. It is something I don’t like about Djokovic, but we all have our flaws, don’t we? At least he is a funny guy.

I was just discussing the matter with someone on twitter and he noted that Serbian and Croatian people suffered a lot from war and that they have a very different mentality. They need a lot of love and appreciation. And again I can totally identify with that, coming from the emotional war that was my youth. There is no need to judge, and I don’t think that is what Gulbis is doing here either. He is just the kind of guy who says what is on his mind and I have a great appreciation for that too.

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The top players these days are a bunch of boring PR bots with zero personality. Gulbis is a strong individual because he does not care about popularity. The truth is more important to him and I very much identify with that too. To get back to Djokovic, coming from a difficult background gives people character and he certainly is a character. He is a much funnier and interesting personality than Fedal, and he does crazy things like insulting the spectators and smashing racquets.

  • Fedal’s Boring PR Images

In the second part of the article Gulbis talks about Fedal’s boring PR images. I totally agree with him here too. Roger’s interviews are at least a bit more interesting than Nadal’s, but it comes to the same. Just PR machines not saying what they really think in order to uphold their public image. And again, with Roger there is at least a bit more honesty compared to Nadal’s fake modesty. Roger says what he thinks mostly, but there is a line he won’t cross. And again this has nothing to do with judging.

Everyone has their priorities and everyone is different. But for someone like me whose first priority is truth and honesty, and not popularity, I prefer the likes of Gulbis. Roger is an individual himself in the sense that he is kind of an impeccable guy. He doesn’t seem to be corrupted by fame. He is just a very clean and real guy which is something rare for famous people. It is easy to succumb to fame and sell out. But Roger has always remained very grounded and exemplary.

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He is not boring per se. He is just the perfect Swiss gentleman like Gulbis says and he is now expected to conduct his affairs in a certain way. There is just a certain predictability and lack of freedom in that which I don’t care for. Of course in Roger’s tennis, there is no predictability and lack of freedom. I am talking about his personality. So like I said before, the Djoker’s slightly crazy personality and lack of predictability has been a nice change up. And, of course, the same goes for his game which is the exact opposite of Roger’s.

  • In Conclusion

The main thing here is not to judge. I’m sure some Fedfans will be delighted that I posted this so that they can now go ahead and judge Djokovic and my blog. Other than the fact that it will get your comment deleted, it will also make you look like a hypocrite, so don’t bother. I made this post to show that I don’t think the Djoker is perfect, just like I don’t think Roger is perfect. We are all different and we all have our different likes and dislikes, and there is no need to judge. There is also no need to worship blindly.

Roger has the perfect public image, but that comes at a price itself. And as far as tennis goes he was never mentally strong enough to overcome his main rival, who owns him in the head-to-head. Djokovic may be weak and insecure when it comes to the public, but when it comes to crunch time he is mentally as strong as they come. We don’t need any better example than the Wimbledon final last year where he edged Roger despite Roger’s best effort ever to get back into a match.

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And that kind of mental strength and will to win comes from adversity. So yeah, no need to judge anyone. Not even Nadal. I don’t like Nadal, but there is a lot to respect and appreciate. He is mentally stronger than Djokovic even and that probably comes from uncle Toni being really tough on him since he was a boy. I also think Djokovic has matured a lot over the years, and with the stability of a wife, a kid, and legendary status as a tennis player he is now more secure and comfortable in his own skin.

The 30 best quotes of Ernests Gulbis’ career.

The  is in your court.