Well what an interesting day’s tennis that was! First Roger got through to his 6th final in 9 events, and then Davydenko made Nadal his hard court pigeon with a 6th consecutive victory over him on the surface. Davydenko now leads Nadal 6-1 on hard court and 6-4 overall in the h2h. Davydenko, like Del Potro, has shown just how to dismiss Nadal on a hard court. It simply takes fearless and relentless ball striking from the back of the court to keep Nadal under constant pressure. There is no room for timidity that is for sure. But of course the double fisted backhand is a must against Nadal. This is where Roger is at a disadvantage against Nadal. That is why I feel Roger should come to the net more and not allow Nadal to expose his one-handed backhand. And he seems he is doing that more of late.
At the Master Cup his backhand was good enough form the back of the court, but the bounce of the ball favored him. I stand corrected on this but I think the commentators said there is something like a 50cm difference in bounce height between the Oz Open and the MC. Even if it’s less than that it still makes a huge difference. The higher it gets up the more difficult Roger will find it to control. Davydenko doesn’t have a problem with it because he takes the ball so early and can control the ball better with two hands on the racquet. To me it is great news that Davydenko is now back to his best. Nadal has had it too easy last year with the absence of two of his toughest opponents. Del Potro will still take some time to get back but at least Davydenko is now there. It just shows that Nadal is vulnerable on hard court to someone who is willing to take the ball early and use the angles.
I don’t care how much spin he puts on his forehand, he still takes a long swing and the ball still sits up on hard court asking to be spanked. It takes a longer time to travel through the air because he hits it high over the net, and therefor if someone like Davydenko takes it early it takes time away from Nadal. The cross court forehand angle to Nadal’s backhand is also very effective as Nadal hardly has a slice to speak of. Nadal seemed to be struggling with the after effects of fever again today but he was never winning this match anyway. At one point he was behind 6-3 and 5-0 and in danger of being bagelled. He then fought back to 5-2 and afterwards played doubles as well, so I doubt he could have been all that sick. Davydenko just owns Nadal on hard court. Simple as that. Del Potro has also beaten Nadal in their last three hard court meetings.
No doubt Nadal is not GOAT material on hard. It’s a bit of a shame to me that Nadal didn’t win, and he once again fails to make a hard court final against an in form GOAT, and Roger would probably have improved the h2h again. But that is ok. No one with any sense takes the h2h with Nadal seriously anymore anyway. There were just too many meetings on Nadal’s favorite surface and too few on Roger’s favorite surface. Looking at Roger’s match against Tsonga, he did what he needed to do. There was one break in the first set and in the second things were a bit more tight as Tsonga stepped up his game. In the tie break Roger was just too solid however as he ran away with it 7-2. This time Roger only managed to produce 3 break points and c0nverted on one. I guess you could say that it’s better then yesterday although percentage wise there isn’t much of a difference.
The main thing is that Roger was very solid on serve, winning several love games on it. That basically put the pressure on Tsonga going into the tie break where Roger proved to be too good. Roger takes a 14-2 h2h into tomorrow’s final against Davydenko which is proper ownage. I won’t read too much into that though as Davydenko is playing at a similar level when he beat Roger at the MC of 2009 and Doha of 2010. Having said that, Roger is at a different level from back then too and I expect him to get the job done without too many issues. There is a possibility of three sets here but I still expect Roger to take care of business. He has just been in such fantastic form of late that I don’t really see how he is losing here. Since Wimbledon Roger has now made 7 finals and 2 semi-finals, winning 4 of those finals.
Tomorrow he will have the chance of winning a 4th title in 6 appearances. I mean this is getting close to Jesusfed mode. Winning in Doha will also be a boost going into the Oz Open. Roger will be hard to stop in Oz given his form of late, Nadal or no Nadal. Back in 2009 when he lost to Nadal in the final he wasn’t coming off the same sort of year in 2008 that he had in 2010. He is just more ready this time. He simply has to stop Nadal from winning a the Nadal slam, or maybe someone like Davydenko or Murray will stop him. We will just have to wait and see. For now I’m looking forward to tomorrow and another possible title for Roger to get the year off to the best possible start. Good luck GOAT!
On court interview: