It’s Finalized – Top 4 All Through to Masters Cup Semis

As was pretty much expected, Nadal and Djokovic joined Roger and Murray in the semis today with victories over Berdych and Roddick respectively. Nadal won 7-6(3), 6-1, while Djokovic beat Roddick 6-2, 6-3. It was a pretty dull day at the MC. I thought Berdych could give Nadal decent opposition, which he did in the first set, but he never really looked like a threat. On the other hand I did say that Nadal could win this routinely, which he did as well. There is just no way the mental giant that Nadal is was gonna lose to the mentally much weaker player Berdych in such an important event. I knew Nadal was getting better with every match and this was his best match so far. He has now once again played himself into the best possible form for his semi-final clash with Murray. And I for one don’t believe Murray will stop him.

Murray has beaten Nadal twice on hard court in slams but lets face it, Nadal wasn’t the player that he is now. I believe if Murray made the semi-finals at the US Open this year, Nadal would have beaten him as well. The only guy that could beat Nadal in that form is Roger, and he has to be in the zone. We now have what should have been the US Open semis, but this time it is a different ball game I feel. Even though I think Nadal will be too good for Murray, it will still be interesting to see how the two match up. Then you have a different Roger from what we saw at the US Open in my opinion. Nadal is playing the first match again tomorrow, but if he wins this time I don’t think it will put Roger off in any way. Roger admitted that at the US Open his thoughts was already on the final and that it put him off, although he didn’t go into specifics.

This time I don’t think it would make any difference. First of all it is not a slam which means there is a little less at stake, but most importantly I think Roger would actually like to play Nadal. I think Roger will be too strong for Djokovic once more, and he will prove once again that the US Open was an anomaly. These days it is of course not impossible that Roger’s evil twin will show up, in which case he could lose. But I will put my belief in Roger one more time here given what I have seen from him this week. So I’m pretty much leaning towards a Fedal final here, even though they keep avoiding each other of late. Interestingly, Murray has said the following about his match with Nadal:

“I’d like to play against Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.

“It would be an incredibly tough match. I’ve watched his matches here and he’s been playing unbelievably well.

“I don’t seem to beat those guys in the big matches. I’ll try and win. But I’m not sure I’ve got a whole lot of chance if I play against him.”

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-sport/murray-federer-storm-to-atp-semi-finals-20101126-189ch.html

As you can see Murray has thrown in the towel already. I find that to be a disgusting attitude, and it is probably the reason why he has never won a slam. Nadal will see that and wonder how someone can have such a defeatist attitude for such an important match. It will also give him a boost before a difficult match, and he will see it as a license to kill. In a way tennis is very predictable at this point in time, and it has been that way for a while now. You have Roger and Nadal in a class of their own, winning pretty much all the slams. Then you have Murray and Djokovic who picks up the scraps from Roger and Nadal, and then you have rest. It is predictable, but at least you know you are gonna have the best guys playing each other in the important matches, and that makes it interesting. I am not going to preview a Fedal final now even though I think it will happen.

In tennis nothing is ever certain, so lets just wait and see what happens tomorrow. It should be two entertaining matches and I’m looking forward to it. If you’re gonna watch, enjoy!

Roger Federer


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28 Comments

  1. Federer saved energy by not losing a set, unlike last year when every one of his matches went three sets. Also against Soderling he seemed more comfortable mixing it up even during prolonged rallies. This will be key against both Djokovic and Nadal, when the rallies will be tougher.

    Berdych predictably melted like Jell-O in a microwave before Nadal’s glowering and “VAMOOOOS!”ing. I don’t like Berdych’s attitude; he was very happy to really go after Federer when Federer was not at his best, so he could get a big win over the great man, but he caves whenever anyone stands up to him.

    Soderling is not my favorite but at least he always gives it his all. He realizes being at the top requires being a professional in every match.

    Berdych is a total opportunist, just happy to get the feather in his cap when his opponent isn’t at his best, and then he folds when the going gets hard. He’s not a serious player.

    I agree Murray’s comments are truly pathetic. I don’t know how his fans tolerate this. How can you cheer for a player who doesn’t even believe in himself? He simply doesn’t have the heart of a champion, and without that, any amount of talent is useless.

    If he’s trying to use Nadal’s mind games against him by playing the underdog and deflecting the pressure, it will fail. Nadal’s a pitiless machine; he doesn’t have mercy on the weak. It’s only when he himself has problems that he begs for mercy.

    Anyhow, I am just looking for some good tennis from Federer. Whatever happens happens.

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  2. Hurrah! As I had hoped Roger will be playing in the 2nd semi final so I get to see him! I will be cheering loudly

    Andrew

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Awesome. All worked out well then ;-) Enjoy!

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  3. In answer to first poster’s idiotic premise on Berdych- that “he was very happy to really go after Federer when Federer was not at his best, so he could get a big win over the great man”- what the hell is this supposed to mean? Is federer some omnipotent God that must not be threatened on his pedestal? The whole point of tennis is to take advantage of players’ weaknesses whatever they may be on the given day you play. The pathetic bitterness of Fed fans at berdych’s win over him at Wimbledon seems only to sour more as time passes. Get over it. Berdych was the better player that day and he won! He wasn’t “happy” to go after a supposedly “weak” federer at the time. It is job as a professional athelete to try to beat anyone he comes up against. Do some Fed fans even have functioning brains?

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    steve Reply:

    Allow me to clarify: Berdych will not play his very best tennis unless he senses his opponent is less then his best.

    Professionalism entails you give your best every time, even when you might lose, even when things are going badly. That’s not how Berdych does it.

    He is like a guy who cuts the tail off a wounded lion when there’s no danger of being mauled, struts around calling himself a great hunter, and then runs for the hills when he encounters a healthy lion.

    It is job as a professional athelete to try to beat anyone he comes up against.

    No shit. That’s exactly what he DOESN’T do. He caves when the going gets tough.

    Unless his opponent’s a high-profile scalp, and unless the opponent’s less than his best, he won’t put it all on court. That’s the very opposite of professionalism.

    His recent spate of early-round losses are a sign of this. Now that he’s tasted the big time, he can’t be bothered to bring it against lower-ranked players, it seems.

    His only notable win recently was against a dispirited, subpar Roddick. Again he was happy to show up when he could take out a marquee opponent who was easy pickings, but not otherwise.

    The pathetic bitterness of Fed fans at berdych’s win over him at Wimbledon seems only to sour more as time passes.

    LOLs, as if you could read my mind. Sorry, you fail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.

    I’m guessing you’re not really a Berdych fan, simply a despiser of Federer and all his fans. A hater pure and simple.

    Berdych was the better player that day and he won!

    I completely agree. No question Berdych played a better match that day.

    Get over it.

    I don’t think I’m the one who needs to get over anything.

    Federer lost a tennis match. It’s not the first time it’s happened, and it won’t be the last. It’s certainly not the end of the world. It doesn’t detract from his accomplishments.

    But braying loudly “ZOMG Federer lost,” as if you discovered an end to world hunger, and going around and trying to rub everyone’s face in it all the time, that’s really quite pathological.

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    angouleme Reply:

    First of all your statement that “Berdych will not play his very best tennis unless he senses his opponent is less then his best” shows a glaring ignorance of the ebbs and flows of a tennis match. Of course, in a match when a player is not playing at the level he/she is capable of for whatever reason, it inevitably gives confidence to the opponent which they can make use of to enhance their play. This was somewhat the case at Wimbledon- admittedly, Federer was shanking shots, but it was Berdych’s play that finally won him the match. He was riding a confidence wave from his French Open run and this translated to his play. And secondly, your description of Berdych does not take into account the plays of mental confidence. Berdych himself admitted that he has had trouble adjusting to the increased pressure on him stemming form his early spring/summer success. It’s not that he apparently “can’t be bothered to bring it against lower ranked players”- how do you know what he can and cant do? Every player struggles with confidence- last year with Rafa, this year with both Murray and Federer- its not some new development that top players dump out of early round matches matches- witness Federer’s numerous losses this year after the Australian open, Murray’s slump in the spring and Djokovic’s woes springing from his serving woes. All of these were due to a decrease in confidence for whatever reason. And you really need to stop applying blasé and cliched emotions to complicated mental matters like Berdych was “happy” to take out a sub-par Roddick. He was not “happy” to do anything; presumably he was fired up from the possibility of qualifying though he had lost the first match, something that Roddick could not muster apparently on his side. And finally no one was “braying” anything about Federer’s loss and trying to rub it in anyone’s face. And LOLs back to you for attempting to guess that I am a Federer hater because anyone who happens to question your logic on labeling berdych as some sort of creature “happy” to “go after berdych” (what is he- some sort of primitive caveman?) has to be a Federer hater! LOLs indeed!!

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    steve Reply:

    I don’t see why my interpretations of Berdych’s mentality have any less validity than yours:

    presumably he was fired up from the possibility of qualifying though he had lost the first match, something that Roddick could not muster apparently on his side.

    So here you’re mindreading Roddick–whom you say “apparently” could not “fire himself up.”

    How do you know? He broke his racket, that was almost certainly an indication of desire and frustration. Or is that too “blase or cliched” a description of “complicated mental matters”.

    LOLs back to you for attempting to guess that I am a Federer hater

    Really? What’s this then?

    Is federer some omnipotent God that must not be threatened on his pedestal?

    The pathetic bitterness of Fed fans at berdych’s win over him at Wimbledon seems only to sour more as time passes. Get over it..

    What is this, if it’s not an attack on Federer and his fans?

    Every player struggles with confidence- last year with Rafa, this year with both Murray and Federer- its not some new development that top players dump out of early round matches matches

    Those players have proven themselves on far more occasions than Berdych. He has a very long way to go before he gets the same kind of indulgent understanding that is extended to them during their slumps.

    If he manages to continue performing well next year, I will say so.

    But so far I see a pattern of early losses to players when the stakes are smaller. Now suddenly he comes to life when he has the chance to take out another big name at a cheap cost, only to fold very badly once he meets stiffer resistance.

    Despite his victories over Federer, I certainly wouldn’t have the opinion of him that I do, if he didn’t fold so badly. It’s not very professional, in my opinion.

    His attitude against qualifiers and lesser-ranked players seems very different than when he faces big-name players who are a little off their game. A professional should take all matches seriously, not just the ones where he might have a chance to claim a big scalp. I just don’t see that from him.

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    angouleme Reply:

    While it is valid that the top players should be afforded more indulgence for their slumps as they have proven themselves on the big stage, I still dont see where you base your premise that Berdych does not try as hard as he should in smaller tier matches. Do you have some solid evidence of his attitude that bases your justification that his losses stem from some sort of arrogance rather than a loss of confidence or the fact that the opponent played better. And dont you think it is presumptuous as well as arrogant on your part to ascribe Berdych’s rise to No 6 in the world based simply on him taking advantage of “big-time players who are off their game?” His path to the French/ Wimbledon semis and finals cannot all be based on fluke wins against big players. Granted, that he had an extremely sub-par post Wimbledon season, but I still dont see how his bad play can somehow be ascribed to his unwillingness to put it all out there all the time. Sure, you may not be indulgent enough with Berdych’s slump, but that really should not spill over into insinuating that he does not try hard enough because he is somehow arrogant with his recent success. berdych had his breakthrough year from the french open onwards but his form dipped and he began to loose in the early rounds in most of the tournaments he entered. You say that he looses when the stakes are “smaller”, but yet he lost in the 1st or 2nd (I dont remember exactly) of the US open. I am sure that the US Open is not exactly a “smaller” stake tournament. In fact, it was after his loss to Federer at Toronto that Berdych’s free fall began- suggesting a general malaise of spirit rather than some sort of arrogance fueled by his success in Europe. And why do you keep referring to Berdych’s wins as over opponents who “are a little off their game?” It is not Berdych’s fault that his opponent is playing badly- he can only deal with what is across the net from him. And it would be ignorant to suggest that players dont approach different matches with different perspectives. As much as we would all like to believe in the ideal that players see all matches as the same- you and I and the players know that a Wimbledon final exacts more desire and pressure than say a final in a 250 event. So, it is not surprising that the more pressure filled matches or situations elicit either a fantastic or horribly muted reactions. For murray at the AO, the pressure was too much for him, but at Wimbledon for Berdych, he came up with the performance of his life but could not maintain it in the even tenser Wimby final against nadal. And by the way, losing early in a string of tournaments does not necessarily equate with someone not taking matches seriously- it could be because of a myraid of issues and in Berdych’s case it is the result of increased pressure as he himself said. Not every player can easily adapt to pressure- murray is still trying to break through. It takes time and if you cannot be indulgent of it for some time (which is your prerogative), you at least should not make insinuations about players that take aim at what being a professional sportsman is without some sort of objective proof. But I do agree with you that we will have to wait for next year to see if berdych can actually build upon his success this year and be prepared to deal with the extra pressure on him especially when he needs to defend his points from the Roland Garros/ Wimbledon run.

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    steve Reply:

    Clearly the burdens of being an elite player are proving to be more than he expected.

    His run began with his victory over Federer in Miami. That big win gave him confidence and belief that he could be at the top. All his great results in the majors came after that. After he came to prominence, he realized it wasn’t all smiles and sunshine, that it would take effort to remain at the top. And I don’t see many signs that he is willing to put in that effort.

    The cause of the “malaise” you describe is clear to me. He was obviously looking for the three-peat over Federer in Toronto. I’m guessing he thought Federer would be easy prey, and was eager to put another notch on his belt. That turned out to be wrong. It was quite a shock for him, and I don’t think he recovered for a while.

    After that started the string of losses; Llodra at USO, for instance. A match where he looked miserable and lost; mentally just not in it. He was in the position where a lower ranked player was challenging him, and he was the favorite, and he didn’t deal well with it.

    After a string of losses to lesser ranked players, he went away against Davydenko in Paris after having match point in the second set, I think. The first two sets were 5-7, 7-6(3), but Berdych was bageled in the third. Credit to Davydenko who’s a hell of a player, but a scoreline like that is really telling.

    When he played Roddick it was very tight until Roddick missed a set point. It was only then that Berdych sprang to life, started hitting harder, took the set, and completely battered Roddick in the second set.

    After that Berdych was surely feeling his oats and playing well for a set against Nadal. But after losing the first set he just went away completely. It’s not like Nadal raised his level phenomenally in the second. Berdych simply gave up.

    Now how is it that someone can have a string of losses to lower-ranked players, then suddenly demolish a top ten player after a months-long slump, then just as suddenly crumble dramatically when faced with stiffer opposition?

    My explanation: he just doesn’t have the stomach to really go after the opponent unless he can get a high-profile win, and if the opponent puts up a tough fight, he goes away.

    His pattern of development is somewhat lagging behind those other players who have broken into the top ten. After Murray and Soderling made their first major finals, they won titles in the same season. They took the next step beyond just upsetting big names, they developed the discipline and consistency to win tournaments. Not so with Berdych–he didn’t win a title all year, and he hasn’t even made a final since Wimbledon.

    Perhaps there is some truth in your assertion that he is dealing badly with the pressures of being an elite player, but perhaps the explanation is that after tasting the big stage, he’s just not that motivated to put in the hard work to go far in tournaments. That he’s essentially a glory hunter looking for quick fame by taking big scalps.

    Players like that don’t last very long at the top, so I expect we’ll have a more definitive answer next year.

    I notice you have said nothing to explain or defend the aspersions you cast on Federer and his fans. But perhaps that’s for the best.

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    angouleme Reply:

    I still think that you have come to your conclusions about Berdych’s motivation way too early. You cite Soderling and Murray as examples of players who backed up their finals appearances by winning titles soon after. But Soderling, who made the French open finals last year did not win a major title until this year- Paris 2010. And murray who made the finals of the AO was dismal in performances until Wimbledon. It takes time for players who clearly are not in the vein of Nadal and Federer to get over major defeats. So clearly though he entered the big stage, it took time for him to crack through mainly because of the quality of top opposition and also because he had to build up his own confidence that he could indeed play with the big guns. Similarly, so for Berdych- he has only broken through this year, so I think some time must be afforded him for him to prove himself as an elite player. And you keep saying that Berdych only puts in effort when he can notch a win against a top opponent, but in tournaments today, to even play the top guns, Berdych himself has to get through earlier rounds against lower opponents. So your assertion that he is “a glory hunter looking for quick fame by taking big scalps” does not really take into account the whole picture. He has to put in effort and win earlier matches in early rounds to even have the opportunity to take on the big guns. And aside from Toronto, he has not managed to get past quarters of most tournaments. So clearly it’s not that he is merely looking for upsets, but it is the fact he cannot actually find the game that propelled him to success in Paris and London. And it sounds bizarre to me that a player who has tasted success at the top would be hesitant to try to replicate it- why would Berdych not want to put in work to go deeper into tournaments and gain more success- it’s against human nature to do so. His performances at the WTF are intriguing. As the lone debutant of the group, he lost to Djokovic, but rallied against Roddick and then fell to Nadal. His mental fragility (which is well documented) does not necesaarily coincide with the effort put on the court to win as you seem to imply. He was mentally weak but that does not mean that he does not try to win matches. If someone gets tight in a match due to heightened pressure, does one automatically label the person as not trying to win matches. Clearly, the mental aspect of his game needs to be worked on if he is to stay at the top,but mental fragility is not the same as physically not trying to win a match. Undoubtedly, your mentality eventually affects your game, but it is not as you suggest berdych’s sole intention to not win early round matches. I firmly believe that he needs to be afforded more time before one can objectively rate him as any sort of player. And finally to the aspersions I cast on Fed fans- I was primarily referring to you and to your suggestion that Berdych was happy to take advantage of momentarily sub par players- a clear reference to Federer and his losses to Berdych at both Miami and Wimbledon. Again as I stated before, I didnt agree with the juvenile statement that berdych was “happy” to take out an opponent and secondly, who cares if an opponent was not at his best a certain day- that is a factor out of berdych’s control. If a player is physically fit enough to take to the courts, then all mitigating factors are out unless the player gets injured on court. The “subpar” performances of the opponent are the opponent’s fault and not berdych’s. I am sure that he did not personally forsee or bring upon Fed’s post AO slump, but he was one of many players who took his game to Federer and experienced success with as as did many other players (ex- Montanes at estoril, Soderling at French Open, Hewitt at Halle etc.) At the end of the day the winner and his performance matters most, not the opponents’ supposed problems or slumps. And the fact that you insisted on reiterating that berdych faced compromised top players to establish his success in successive replies to my posts unfairly detracts away from his great performances at the French and Wimbledon and betrays some lingering bitterness at fed’s successive defeats to Berdych. Anyways, you are entitled to your thoughts and hopefully we can see next year, if Berdych does anything of note

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  4. The semifinal lineup is certainly as you predicted. I think Djokovic will put up more spirited resistance against Federer than he did Nadal – since his USO pummelling I don’t think he believes he can beat Nadal – while, ironically, I think Murray will do better against Nadal in his semi than he did earlier against Federer. Despite the negative self-talk, which is a transparent attempt to take the pressure off himself, Murray is the only player who can defend almost as well as Nadal does. That will keep him in the points. Whether he can do something from that position we shall see. I think it will be very close. As for Nadal – well, the unremitting effort required to hit time and time again through a wall once again proved too much for Berdych, as it does for most Nadal opponents. Interesting, too, to see how Nadal continues to redefine the ‘Edberg standard of sportsmanship’, with his 3-minute tirade at the umpire and the consequent disruption of his opponent’s rhythm. But, for now, the gods of battle favour Roger for his next match at least.

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  5. Murray knows he can beat nadal, he is just trying to take pressure off himself. He doesnt really mean it.

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    steve Reply:

    Let me get this straight: when Nadal plays down his chances and says he’s not the favorite, it’s praiseworthy humility.

    When Murray plays down his chances and says he’s not the favorite, it’s a transparent attempt at gamesmanship.

    Is that more or less the gist of what you’re saying?

    You can hardly blame Murray for emulating Nadal, who’s been so successful in dampening expectations and making himself the underdog. Of course other players will try to copy a winning tactic.

    You should be truly pleased that others are emulating your favorite player–imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. So why so irritated?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    But when you emulate someone it shows that you are inferior to them. That plays right into Nadals hands if it was indeed mind games. The only way to beat Nadal is be your own man and stare him down. Murray is a fool.

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    steve Reply:

    Yes, Nadal will just take Murray’s words at face value and take the invitation to kick his ass.

    You cannot beat the master with the same tactics you learned from him.

    Murray has the tennis to beat Nadal on hard courts; he can mix it up enough to keep the Spaniard off-balance. The only question is one of courage, and he ain’t doing himself any favors by making comments like that, whether it was sarcasm or gamesmanship.

    It does have an outside chance of working, though. If it does work, I guess it means the master has a few things to learn about psychological tactics.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I hope that is the case. Whether he knows he can beat Nadal is another story.

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  6. Murray needs to get lessons from Roger when it comes to mind games. AO was class example, playing down your chances won’t help. He needs to stand up to Nadal as too often players lose him as they felt intimidated, irritated and scare of his aggression. It can’t wait for Roger on Sunday, hopefully he won’t dissapoint all of us.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Exactly, if this is mind games from Murray it is pathetic nonetheless. Murray has always worshiped Nadal which makes his words sound more like handing Nadal the match than anything. The only way to beat Nadal is to make it clear that you are gonna stand up to him. Anything else he sees as an invitation to tear you t shreds. Murray just isnt a champion and he will never be.

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    marron Reply:

    Even if he wins this whole thing, you wouldn’t consider him a champion?

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    steve Reply:

    He certainly isn’t going to be winning the whole thing now.

    He played very well, but just not clutch enough.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Exactly, must be those words in the press that killed him :-)

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    steve Reply:

    That was my first thought as well.

    I can imagine the headlines in the British tabloids. I’m sure they’re going to throw those words back in his face.

    Murray gets a raw deal from the tennis media. They hype him beyond anything, and then they demolish him after a loss. It’s not an enjoyable thing to watch.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Then its even more stupid of Murray to say something like that, if he knows the press will slaughter him.

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    steve Reply:

    Yup.

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    marron Reply:

    Well, I heard around that he was deadpanning that statement – he was joking, in his strange Scottish way. Think he’s getting tired of the Brit media monster – they really are tough on him. It’s not like Andy rolled over and let Rafa take the match easily.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well i didnt see the interview so you might be right. He played well today.

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  7. Dear Ru-an
    I’ve just left the O2 after the most amazing evening watching the GOAT. He was majestic! I know this isn’t a forum so sorry for clogging it up with my life! I hope u get to see him in 2011. Am looking forward to reading ur next post about tonight and tomorrow’s mouth watering final!
    Andrew

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Must have been awesome ;-)

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