Nadal Cruises to 26th Masters Series Title in Cincinnati

Not sure what to say anymore. Nadal beat Isner 7-6(8), 7-6(3) in the Cincy final today and has now utterly dominated hard courts since his 8 month break from the sport, a surface that historically was probably his worst. He has won every hard court event he played this year, and each of them was a Masters Series. It almost defies logic. He has also dominated clay the way he usually does, with only that loss against Zeballos in his first tournament back and the loss against Djokovic in the Monte Carlo final. The only flaw is his first round loss to Darcis at Wimbledon, and you have to wonder now how that even happened. So I’d like to congratulate Nadal. Like Roger he sure has the ability to bounce back from disappointments and he is the ultimate problem solver. He is also mentally the toughest player in the history of our sport.

The truth is he just doesn’t have many weaknesses in his game. Sure he is not as talented a shot maker as Roger, but he is not far behind either and he makes up for it in sheer will power and love of competition. No one can keep up with him in the mental department, not even Djokovic. Of course he is on a high right now and when he slumps again we will talk about his limitations, but his mental strength is undeniable. After being a set down against a rampant Roger he just hung in there, and took his chance when Roger could not capitalize on a game point at 4-5 and 40-30 in the 2nd set. Roger missed a regulation forehand and Nadal sensed his chance. Dropping the 2nd set was not that bad, but at the start of the 3rd set I saw that resigned look on Roger face and he then went ahead and dropped serve. He was regretting what happened and it cost him.

After that he tried fighting back but the damage was done. So that was really the key which I didn’t get to in my last post. Nadal never regrets. He stays absolutely in the moment and plays every point in isolation. No matter what we may have against Nadal, that is something to admire. Very few players are that focused and intense. I think it is wrong to always want to degrade the player you don’t like and act as if the player you like can’t do anything wrong. People should know by now my blog is not for those kind of people. Even the person you hate the most in the world have strengths, while the one you admire the most has weaknesses. Nothing is absolute in the universe. Personally I can both criticize by favorite and praise my enemy. This is after all what makes the Fedal rivalry and era so interesting.

You have two players who are vastly different and who has strengths in different areas. Both can learn from each other, but probably Roger can learn more. You have one player who plays aesthetically pleasing tennis and one who wins ugly. The one seems to have all the qualities of a GOAT, including achievements. Yet the other is a better competitor and refuses to listen to the critics. He doesn’t know when he is beaten and he doesn’t care for the opinions of others. In a sense I have great respect for this attitude of Nadal, because everyone else who was in his shoes would have given in and believed that he is just not talented enough to be the GOAT, or that he has some other limitation. Since we don’t know with 100% certainty that he is doping we may as well look for the good in Nadal. I have already said that there is a time to keep quiet and a time to speak out, and in this case I am keeping quiet.

I am not doing this to please those who say I always accuse Nadal of doping when he wins. I don’t care about those people. I am saying this because I want to, and because I believe there are positive things about Nadal. Like I said he is a better competitor than Roger. He doesn’t back off when things get tight. He doesn’t hesitate. He doesn’t regret. These are things that Roger does and where he can learn something from Nadal. Instead of getting the resigned look on his face at the start of the 3rd set against Nadal, he should already have refocused and forgotten about the 2nd set. It was over and there was nothing he could do about it. If he refocused quickly and didn’t drop his serve at the start of the 3rd set I’m sure he would still have won the match. But that is in the past too, and next time Roger can’t waste time on regret.

Can Roger wind back the clock a few years in New York?

The world waits for no one. Things move fast and if you don’t adapt fast you are left behind. Roger needs to refocus once again and make the best of the US Open. I think he can take an awful lot of positives out of Cincy. I think he actually played a brilliant match against Nadal, aside from the dip in concentration at the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd. You see it’s OK to lose concentration once. It happens to everyone. But then you gotta refocus and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Roger had to refocus straight away at the beginning of the 3rd, but he dwelled on the past and that was the end of him. As far as his game itself goes it confirmed what I have always said: the game is still there. There was nothing wrong with his shots. It was all mental. So this match should clearly prove to people that Roger still has the game to beat anyone on a given day.

But he needs to stay focused and not let things that is in the past bother him. He needs to take a page out of Nadal’s book here. If he does that I think he can actually do very well at the US Open. After Gstaad I was just hoping Roger would win his first round at the US Open. In fact I wasn’t even sure if he should play. It shows you how fast things change in tennis. Roger pleasantly surprised me with his performance in Cincy. He gave Nadal his toughest match of the tournament, while Djokovic and Murray both lost to lesser opponents. Roger may have slipped back to #7 in the rankings in Cincy, but he made a big statement too. He is pretty much as big a favorite as anyone to win the US Open. OK maybe Nadal is a slightly bigger favorite, but after that it’s almost anyone’s tournament. Murray and Djokovic both look out of form, which puts Roger, Delpo, and Berdych pretty much alongside them as favorites.

Ferrer I won’t even mention and hopefully he will be outside the top 6 soon where he belongs. So in the end things have worked out a lot better than I thought it would and I am now actually excited about the US Open. The goal for Roger is to reach the quarter finals again after losing 2nd round at Wimbledon, but obviously you like to see him go further. Semis would already be a great result. You never know. Judging by his form in Cincy he could go on a hot run and make it all the way to the final. The draw will be important of course and what Nadal does. I’m afraid Nadal remains a very tough nut to crack for Roger. Nadal goes to #2 in the rankings after winning Cincy. This means for one thing he will not be in Djokovic’s half, who probably still has the best chance to beat Nadal. Murray won’t be afraid of Nadal anymore after having won 2 slams either.

Hopefully Murray will at least be in Nadal’s half, and Roger in Djokovic’s half. It’s not getting any easier at the top but if the draw works out who knows. I’d say Roger can make at least quarters and winning the title is not out of the question. Roger showed in Cincy that writing him off is a big mistake. I’d like to think that even if he plays Nadal he has a chance, if he does what I say and not live in the past. As long as he stays in the moment and plays every point on its merit he will have a good chance. Berdych and Del Potro has passed Roger in the rankings but Del Potro has quarters to defend at the US Open and Berdych semis. So if Roger puts in a solid performance he could be back in the top 5 after the US Open. As for Nadal I think he is the current favorite to win the US Open. He also has no points to defend until after the Australian Open so he can easily be #1 again soon.

This will concern Fedfans but for me it’s all pretty interesting and I am not looking far ahead anyway.

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64 Comments

  1. Hey Ru-an!

    I waited for your post all day and I am so happy that you posted do quickly. I agree with everything you said. As much as I may hate Nadal (and I admit that I do) he is an icredible and merciless competitor. He could have been beaten on so many occasions but he kept digging and he kept plugging and it’s amazing what he has achieved.

    That being sad, I completely agree with you about the draw. I think a draw which puts Ferrer and Djokovic in the Federer’s section would be amazing. I think that if Del Potro and Murray land in Nadal’s section it would be great. Finally I hope for Berdych to end up in the Djokovic section.

    I agree that Roger should think of every single round but I really hope that he’ll have an easy and smooth first week. He really needs a nice and smooth sailing in the first week because if the draw is fortunate I sense that things can happen for him in this tournament. I think that Djokovic is somewhat vulnerable after tough losses at the French Open, Wimbledon, Montreal and Cincy, he is starting to doubt himself and Roger can capitalize on that should he get that far and if he is in his section. I sense the slump might be almost over and the US Open can potentially be very good for him.

    So far really no one can test Nadal better than Roger right now. Potentially Djokovic or Murray and maybe even Del Potro. Isner and Berdych obviously couldn’t get it done.

    So we’ll see. I just sense that Nadal will have some close matches in New York but he will beat his opponents and reach the Final. If Roger happens to do the same it might be the most important match of their careers. If they happen to play in the Final it will almost feel as Roger’s last stand.

    There will be everything to play for and Roger must understand that if Nadal beats him there it would complete the set of major wins over him. If Roger wins it would be his greatest win of his career. Winning number 18 in New York by finally killing your nemesis. On a surface that Roger is very comfortable on. All it would take is for Roger to get on a roll. I agree that the GAME is there and that he was very close to winning. I think that Roger should switch to that Darth Vader merciless mode and finish what he didn’t in Cincy.

    I know that everything depends on the draw but I just hope that it does materialize as I hope and that Roger would relish this opportunity.

    Right now it sounds so dreamy and unrealistic and almost as if even if the final dud materialize Roger can still potentially lose. But then again he can WIN. It’s not out of the question. It’s 3/5 after all. At the end of the third set in Cincy Roger was starting up get hot again. That means that 5 set match would not be out of the question. So we’ll see. I’ll stop talking now and will wait for the draw…

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  2. I have always found the GOAT debate a bit silly, it is impossible to compare players from different eras. Then there is the issue of matchups, most players have a bad matchup. A player they find hard, it doesn’t suddenly make them a bad player.

    I don’t think Nadal will win the US Open, I admire his mental strength like you and my god I would love his forehand, but on a hardcourt his big weapon, that mighty kick is reduced. He can be beaten by a more agressive player with flatter shots.

    Federer nearly did it, to be honest I’m amazed that he lost. I think the problem is Nadal is just more consistant. Federer’s A+ game is better than Nadal’s. He took a set off Nadal with a score of 6-1 at the French once.

    Federer’s problem is Nadal rarely has a let down, and even Federer can’t play his A+ game for an entire match.

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  3. hey ruan-yes, props to nadal and his remarkable tenacity. that said, i can safely say that many folks stop watching when nadal is on full speed (no puns intended!) and winning this much. i get exhausted watching him twitch and huff and puff his way around the court. but more power to him. i am betting on this blog that he will lose at or before the quarterfinals this year at the us open. there is no way he can keep this up without his body breaking down. i don’t care how good he is. as for fed, you’re right. this is an interesting time for us, since he’s clearly engaged and committed. i hope he surprises us with his results!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘i am betting on this blog that he will lose at or before the quarterfinals this year at the us open. there is no way he can keep this up without his body breaking down.’

    Pretty naive statement to make after Nadal has defied logic in this regard on countless occasions.

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    Pryzm Reply:

    Ruan,

    I certainly agree with you that Nadal is a great competitor, wherever he gets his rage – I mean, his fire.

    And with all due respect – I saw Roger’s disappointment after losing the second set too, but I didn’t see a resigned experssion on his face, and I didn’t see him resign on the court either!

    Also, hidn’t dwell on the past this time; instead, he fought like a tiger in the present – for the entire match, and to the last point. I think he fought off five match points, if you count the poor call on the last point.

    I want to acknowledge your superior tennis knowledge and experience, but with all respect I don’t think Roger’s errors were ‘all mental’ in this match – I think they were almost entirely physical, brought on by simple fatigue, exacerbated by playing ‘second-serve tennis’ for a large part of the third set, by his great come-back against Haas, and possibly by recent back problems – which have prevented him from getting to peak condition – as well.

    I definitely think he’s a favorite at USO.

    Respectfully,
    Pryzm

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    Sakhi Reply:

    I don’t think it’s particularly “naive,” given how we’ve seen him flame out after he’s had an excellent string of successes. The past few years are a testament to his uneven history of losses. Also, the best of 5 format will tax him more. And my sense is that Murray and Djokovic are holding their reserves for the big one. So, if it does happen, you’re going to have to blog about my so-called naiveté! And if it doesn’t, then I will bow to your superior knowledge!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Fair enough but he also goes on long stretches where he has no serious injury problems and dominates absolutely. For instance since the start of his comeback. He has dominated for long stretches before, and there is no reason he can’t do it now. Of course he will slump again, but it usually happens after he has dominated for an extended period of time. Nadal doesn’t tire easily. He had a long break after Wimby and winning two events won’t stop him. I can see him winning the USO and possibly the AO too. Underestimating the guy is a very dangerous thing to do. Logic means nothing when it comes to him. Right now he is unstoppable.

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    Pryzm Reply:

    Nadal also took the AO off this year, so he won’t be as burnt out at the USO as he is most years.

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  4. Nadal’s tenacity and sheer will to win is indeed unparalleled. With wins like this, and with a year like this, however, he only brings up more questions. Such utter dominance after an extended break just does not fall into a normal pattern of this sport, so we have to look for another pattern. And yes, it does bring up the elephant in the room. You mentioned we don’t know if Nadal dopes or not. Well, that means we also do not know if he has a huge mental strength or not. Because let’s face it, it is easier to have mental strength if you know you have a huge advantage over your opponent. And it is much easier to lose resolve if you know your opponent has this advantage.

    The facts, so far, are these:
    1. Doping brings immense advantages in a game where even a small edge can mean the difference between winning and losing.
    2. The stakes in fame and money are huge.
    3. The chance of getting away with it is almost 100%. The ATP clearly does not want to impose strict rules for testing, so you can count on not being caught, and if caught, on the issue not getting out. And why would it, ATP would lose just as much in credibility and respect as the top player exposed.

    So what would be the only logical inference from it? To me, it would sound like this: given all the facts, the chance of top players doping to some extent is almost 100%. The fact that we have not proof of Nadal doping does not mean the chances are 50-50. The chances are 99:1.

    And what does that mean? That the whole conversation about the mental strength is actually futile. Until the field is fair, the one who is the most cynical in using all possible kinds of dope will have the physical and the mental edge. It is easy to be a mental giant if you have a limitless supply of energy and strength, and you know your opponent chooses not to.

    Sorry to be so straightforward, but this is just a reality: if there is a loophole that can be exploited with great profit and little risk, it will be exploited. Those who are most willing to win at all cost will exploit it the most. It is silly to pretend the issue does not exist, and it does not make sense to judge players in an unfair field as if the field were fair.

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    Vily Reply:

    Hey, Ilya!

    I happen to agree with everything you are saying. And if it is true maybe one day it will be revealed. However, that shouldn’t stop people from trying to stop this monster even in his current state. I am not sure about Roger’s state of mind right now but I will try to get in the head of all the top 5 guys right now because I feel that it will be on of those 5 players who will win the US Open.

    1. Djokovic – I think that he is starting to feel the heat and that Nadal is out to get what is his – i.e the Number 1 ranking. Djokovic couldn’t slay the monster at the French Open and now he is paying for it big time. Nadal is a beast right and killing everyone in his path.

    2. Nadal – two words: MONSTER DEMOLITION or UTTER DOMINATION. The guy is on fire. He is crushing everything and everyone in his path. People get close to him but his mental strength (or doping or whatever) are helping him win. I don’t care what it is. Since he is not being caught or red-flagged after all these victories, I guess he is legitimate. To me he is the number 1 favourite for the US Open no matter what. He is just that unstoppable right now. He is already ranked number 2 in the world and if he wins the US Open he will be ranked number 1. It’s that crazy right now.

    3. Murray – he finally won Wimbledon and I feel that he is mentally exhausted after that. Honestly, that final game of the Wimbledon Final took so much out of him that he is just spent. He probably will make the semis but he will lose them. He just feels to relaxed as if he already did his job. Plus, he is not Number 1 player in the World type of player and I don’t see if he ever will get there.

    4. Del Potro – the guy is ready and is on the verge of making something great happen. He almost beat Djokovic in the Wimbledon Semis. He has had a very good American summer albeit the loss against Isner which was unfortunate. I think that wants to make an impact. He so far hasn’t tasted Rafa 2013 so he may be able to test him.

    And finally:

    5. Roger Federer: Ranked at the Number 7 position, he must be careful because he has to make the WTF. That being said, I sense that the worst of the slump is over. After testing the new racquet and seeing the results of returning back to the OLD and TRUSTED FRIEND EXCALIBUR (lol) he should feel very refreshed. Yes, he lacked some matches but the way he fought against Haas should give him belief. Also the way he played against Nadal was very promising. He was hitting his serves mostly and he was using the right tactic which worked for about 80% of the match. Yes, he didn’t get it done and that’s an issue but I think that if anything else Roger should be smelling blood and know that he is close. He is very very close. I think that Roger SHOULD WANT To play Nadal again. I think that the fact that he will have a chance very soon to do it should fuel him. I think that he should be obsessed with the idea of seeking revenge. I know that this sounds stupid right now given their head to head but I think that Roger should become a bit angry. The US Open has been a very successful venue for Roger and it is one if not the last venues for him to redeem himself. I know that it will all depend on the draw. But come on. If after all this shuffling around in the rankings, he gets Nadal in the QFS it would be simply ridiculous. So I doubt that would happen. I really hope for Ferrer in the QFS and Djokovic in the SMs. I think that if that happens Roger will be ready. Last year of the year before Djokovic might have been a tough opponent but with all these tough losses I sense that Novak is starting to lose it. Roger, on the other hand had his slump and I feel that he is now starting to get back in the groove. If I am right, the US Open would be the perfect opportunity to show it.

    So that would leave Nadal and Federer in my view as the two favourites right now based on recent form. I know it’s a bit wild but Roger really impressed in that match against Nadal. I’ve been saying for months how Roger left it all in Australia. He hasn’t played good at all since then. But that match against Nadal, in my humble opinion has been the best we have seen him play since way back in January. That gives me belief that he can make something happens. I sense it. I am not sure if I wlll be right but there is a certain level of destiny written all over it. I don’t know if it was because Sampras did the same (lost early at Wimbledon, tried a new racquet and then won the US Open with the old one against his biggest rival Agassi) or simply because at this point I don’t see a clear alternative to Nadal other than Roger at this stage of the game. I really don’t know. But I think that if they are to meet I just hope that it is the FINAL. If that means that Roger WILL destroy his NEMESIS and REMAIN the GOAT or if Nadal will WIN and LEGITIMATELY CHALLENGE for the GOAT Status I would be OK. I know that some people would rather not see this ultimate match because they would be afraid of the outcome, that’s fine. I, for myself do want to see that happen and I hope that ROGER thinks like me and WANTS this FIGHT to occur. To the death!!!

    Allez Roger!

    AlleZ! And NO FEAR!!!!

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    Pryzm Reply:

    Djokovic is definitely hungry, and I don’t think he is afraid of Nadal. He lost a couple of close ones this year, but he almost beat Nadal on his home court this year as well. Remember how they wouldn’t water the court, and how Nadal was milking the clock for every second? I think Dkokovic is definitely ready to make a fight of his next match with Nadal.

    And I don’t think we can discount Isner after this week either; at least I don’t think we can discount his effect on the draw. The ‘Big Four’ player who’ll have Isner in his draw – will surely wish it had happened to someone else!

    :-)

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    rich Reply:

    Ilya, good comment. I totally agree.

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    Pryzm Reply:

    Excellent post Ilya. I would just like to add that PEDs can put their users in a very combative frame of mind.

    I can speak from limited experience here: I used Androstenedione in 2001 after knee surgery – it’s what Mark McGwire used, that started all the controversy in his life.

    I didn’t know what it was at the time; it was something my brother suggested I use to help recondition my knee, and it was available over the counter, so I tried it.

    The ‘heroic’ frame of mind it put me in was not steroid rage, but I did feel completely up to any challenge. And the physical therapy for my knee went outstandingly well.

    Although androstenedione is not pharmaceutically a steroid, it was banned by an act of Congress around 2004 – 2005.

    I can only imagine the ‘warrior mentality’ I would have had if I were using steroids.

    So my point is even though knowing you’re stronger gives you a mental edge, there’s a lot more going on.

    That’s why I said in an earlier post that Nadal’s intensity on the court is more like steroid rage than anything I’ve ever seen on a court.

    Best Regards,
    Pryzm

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  5. I think US open will be very hard for Nadal to win. He can win it , no denying that, but it’s going to be VERY difficult. I’ll try to build my case:

    1) Murray is most certainly going to lift his game because he hasn’t had Lendl with him in these two Masters and he’s going to return for the open. With Lendl in the box, Murray will play MUCH better.He’ll be forced to.

    2) Djokovic is a beast and he’s going to up his game. It doesn’t take much for these guys to get their game up. In 2010, Nadal didn’t win Rogers cup, nor Cincy. I think he actually lost to Baghdatis in Cincy and to Murray (might be wrong here) in Rogers cup. Djokovic too hasn’t had Marian Vajda with him for these two masters. With Marian back, his game is only going to improve. It won’t get worse. He’s going to play like the number 1 player.

    3) Nadal, well he’s playing great but it’s going to be tough at the Open. He’ll definitely be VERY hard to beat. Toni will be back with him but because he’s already playing great, I’m not sure how much better he’ll get. AND his body can give away any time. The Aussie open 2010 and Aussie open 2011 come to mind. But having said that, he’s a favorite.

    4) Federer, definitely has a chance. He would’ve won Cincy if he had beaten Nadal. He played well and if things go his way like they did for Murray in Wimbledon, he definitely has a shot. Health is key. Motivation seems to be there. The game is there. Things go his way and he’ll pull off his 18th major.

    5) Berdych , Del Po : Dark horses who can take one of the above 4 out but hard to see them winning the thing all the way.

    So it seems it’s again a 4-man race between Murray, Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Great post Carlos. I don’t see Berdych winning it either but Del Potro is a dangerous dark horse. He has done it before and his form has been good(even though he should not have lost to Isner in Cincy). For the rest you have done a great job of summarizing their chances. Murray and Djokovic will sure be formidable forces. And like you rightly said Roger can’t be counted out here. He definitely has a shot if the draw works out for him. I think he’s hungry. He wants to prove a point and the way he played in Cincy makes him believe he can.

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  6. Hey guys.
    Congrats to rafa snd I stop at that.
    He was the best player throughout the week and deserved to win.
    As far as the ÙSO is concerned, I still think its gonna be either novak or andy or roger.I might seem stupid but dont let the form slump in novak fool you.he got beaten by a person who matched up well with him and novak was slightly off and gone
    Rafa is not winning this one you guys.
    All the top four bring their best in the slams and I think novak will be fuming right now that not only he lost his chance to create history this year but also the fact the nadal has dominated his surface up until now.
    Roger is due for something big at the us open and andy is the defending champion.
    On current form yes rafa is the favourite but rafas career cycle always turnr over at this time of the year novak would give it his all to protect his no 1 ranking and so I think that rafa wont win the uso and it will be between the trio of novak, andy and roger

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  7. Nadal went for 11 months without winning a title in the second half of 2009 through to mid 2010. Where was his much vaunted mental strength then? He went for a similar period without winning a title in 2011-2012. Another big mental lapse? He then takes an extended injury break in the second half of 2012 to return and experience one of the most successful seasons that he or any player has had in the history of sport. Sure, he is “adaptable”, but I am also pretty sure how he adapts. I have no proof he is doping but I know that he is.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Point taken Rich. Seems strange.

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    Mesao Frio Reply:

    Rich,
    Yes, we need the whole perspective. People forget that nadal ran away from the WTF and AO last year. Where was the mental strength then? He was scared and hiding like a big coward. It was downright unprofessional and embarrassing conduct for an alleged champ with 11 slams. And yes, his unexplained losses just don’t add up. No question in my mind the Spaniard is playing with PEDs.

    On court in broad daylight when fans are watching, nadal has no problems pulling blatant gamesmanship with illegal on-court coaching, fake MTOs, time violations etc. etc., you name it. Of course he’d cheat even more and better when nobody’s watching. That’s just common sense.

    Mental strength my foot. All things considered, it looks more to me like the “humble and innocent” one who typically refuses to play matches and tournaments he can’t win is also the game’s greatest fraud. So I won’t give a doping suspect any credit for his current victories because I know he didn’t achieve them based on his own natural talent. The larger truth for me is, nadal without his PEDs is actually a very average player. Just ask Rosol or Darci.

    No doping proof? Where was the proof of Agassi or Armstrong’s failed drug tests before Andre himself confessed in his biography that he failed a drug test and Armstrong’s teammates blew his cover?? Do people really need to be taken by the hand to see the obvious?

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  8. You hit the nail on the head, Ru-an. Some great observations by Ilya and Vily as well.

    Nothing much to add about Nadal although I will say that the slow and abrasive surfaces that abound in over 90% of playing surfaces worldwide, have much to do with enhancing his endurance-based game and he has the perfect game for these surfaces. A quick look at the stats in close matches that he wins will reveal that more often than not, the opponent hits more winners but also a truckload of UEs more than Nadal who tightens his game to eschew all risks and puts the ball back in court one more time till the other guy loses it. It’s not like he’s hitting winners to end points and win matches most of the time. His net clearance is also way higher than anyone else on tour which reduces further, the risk of hitting the net a lot less than players who hit flatter shots. This explains his high serve percentage and also the efficacy of his forehand technique.

    With a game and movement like this complimented so well by the surface, Nadal’s success on clay and hard court is not remarkable. Neither is the fact that the confidence bred by his early victories in the clay masters and French Opens, made it possible to strengthen his belief and mental toughness on the faster courts. This translated to more wins in bigger stages and the result is a more rounded portfolio of non-clay events.

    To appreciate this fact, imagine Roger with his game playing on 90% of surfaces that comprise grass, indoor hard, indoor carpet, outdoor fast hard court and clay. Unimaginable, isn’t it?

    Tournament owners who have the last say in deciding the speed of the courts, often slow them down to guarantee a final 4 showing of the world’s top players; who are usually named Djokovich, Nadal, Murray, Roger and the others behind them. These guys are also usually the most endurance-primed athletes in the ATP although these days, Roger is behind the others on endurance, still, he’s always a possibility of making it to the deeper stages.

    Make all hardcourt surfaces like Cincy or thereabouts and I guarantee Nadal would not be in the position he is in today. Ironically, he is yet to win Miami – the worst possible slow surface and a blot on the game!

    Enough has been written about his doping cycles and we will just have to wait until it is exposed. This doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon. Until then, I am compelled to admire his adaptability and fighting spirit that is unmatched in tennis.

    Here’s what Serena Williams noted in 2009
    :http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1894410_1894289_1894269,00.html

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  9. Ruan,

    One incredible stat – Rafa now has a winning record against every player in the Top 30. You are right – this man is a beast of a competitor. His name will be alongside Roger in the pantheons of tennis if he plays another 3 years although I think Roger is clearly the GOAT!

    [Reply]

  10. Hey Ru-an, one of the things I like about you is that you don’t judge.

    I have made no secret about it that I “love” Roger and that he is my hero, the reason I watch and started to watch tennis, to a point “the love of my life”.

    I have also made no secret about it that I do respect Rafa, I don’t LIKE him, never have and never will, that it has got nothing to do with him always beating Roger, that I don’t hate him, AND that I do think he is doping.

    Since december last year, when I started commenting, I have absolutely made no secret about these two things.
    BUT… as much as I don’t want to, I have to compliment Rafa once in a while. I did not like the fact that he won against Novak at RG this year, but he did deserve the title after that for the way he overcame him. That he won Montreal and Cincy, yes, kind of weird, but he did play amazingly for that.
    Now, you don’t mind it if I say strong things about Rafa concerning doping or that I once in a while praise him.
    Unfortunately, at Jonathan’s site, when I praised Rafa a little (because at that time I did think he deserved it) I got labeled “A Rafa Fan” !!! Which is to me basically the WORST thing you could say.
    To me (I know I am overreacting) it feels kind of like a knife in my back or heart or (yes, I know really stupid and really overreacting), kind of like I am “cheating” on Roger !!!
    And my people, when we go for someone…..

    So atleast to you, thank you for not judging and making it alright to once in a while praise players you don’t care at all for.

    Katyani

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Why would I judge? Sounds to me like you have been judged by the fanatic type I talked about in my post. The type who thinks their hero is perfect and that the rest are scum. I don’t have time for those people. I know Jonathan’s blog is like that, and although he does a good job I don’t like that about his blog. It’s too fanatical. Kind of like RF.com. My blog has never and will never be like that. I am a fan of tennis first of all and I will give other players credit and criticize Roger. I have been accused of similar things as you for giving Nadal credit, which is absurd. Not on this blog of course because I won’t tolerate it. But elsewhere. In fact there was a girl here who always criticized me when I said something good about Nadal and I banned her, even though she was a long time follower of my blog. She said she was leaving my blog anyway so I just banned her. Fanatics won’t be tolerated here. This is a blog for people with integrity and maturity and I commend you for complimenting Nadal, even though you think he is doping and don’t like him. That takes a lot of integrity. I don’t mind people accusing him of doping or showing their dislike of him here but I try to set an example by looking at the good in him too. Like I said I don’t think anything is absolute. He does have good qualities.

    [Reply]

    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Ru-an, thank you for your kind words and for understanding.
    And thank you for not making fun of me.

    Jonathan has a beautiful site and so do you and so does Roger. You all three have good commentators and bad ones.
    No one is perfect, not me, not even our Roger. Even on his own site they praise him, encourage him, some give good suggestions, but unfortunately they also say that he should retire and that he will never win again. They don’t even think about the fact that it is Roger’s site and that he might read it.
    So there are good and bad commentators everywhere. None of us is perfect.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right Katyani. I shouldn’t criticize. We are all on the same side after all.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    Ru-an, I give the same kind of credit to Nadal that I would give to a tool, like a hammer. Namely, for being mechanically reliable and obediently doing what its master wants it to do. That’s the only sort of credit he merits.

    Mental strength? It’s really an abuse of language, and a misunderstanding of the situation. It’s more precise to say that Nadal is totally empty-headed and utterly, slavishly obedient. He’s a good little boy, like a dog is a good dog for doing what his master wants. You scratch him behind the ears and give him juicy treats, but you don’t praise him for his courage or mental toughness.

    It’s kind of sad that he’s chosen to turn himself into a tool or a pet animal instead of trying to live his life and be a human being. But that was his choice. His free choice.

    In the last analysis, Uncle Toni never made him do anything. He could have always said no. He could still say no. But he would rather get the shiny prizes and mindless adulation and celebrity status, rather than take responsibility for his own life.

    No matter how much he wins now, he’s still going to have to live a long, long life after he retires from tennis. When the limelight fades, and the crowds are roaring someone else’s name, he’s going to have to come to terms with himself and how he’s conducted his life.

    Even such a great champion as Borg found it difficult to make the adjustment. I think Nadal is even more ill-equipped to deal with the tennis afterlife than Borg was, and I think he will provide the tabloids with plenty of fodder in his later years.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Not so Steve. You can’t ascribe everything to dope or to ‘being a good boy’. Dope doesn’t help you to sense a key moment in the match and to raise your game in that point. It doesn’t allow you to fearlessly go for your shots when everything is at stake. Dope doesn’t cause you to make those shots. Troicki is a doper and the guy utterly chokes in the key moments. So there is the proof. Dope gives you superhuman strength and endurance but it doesn’t contain an ingredient which makes you relish competition and play fearless tennis when the chips are down. I guarantee you there are dopers who chokes as much as any other choker. Dope doesn’t think for you either. It doesn’t help you to be a problem solver and to make constant changes to stay ahead of the competition. I know many Fedfans would like to think that Roger is the embodiment of perfection and Nadal is flawed to the core and helpless without his uncle, but it is just not so. You don’t win 12 slams across all surfaces with a pretty one-dimensional game with doping alone. I think you should give Nadal a little more credit than you do, and realize that Roger also has his flaws. The h2h is 21-10 after all.
    Also Nadal will have a sweet life after tennis. Millions of dollars and he won’t have to work a single day for the rest of his life, whether he is busted for doping or not. Everyone dreams of having that, and in our society someone like NAdal can have that, whether he deserves it or not.

    [Reply]

  11. Hi, everyone!

    I don’t know about you but with every day that passes I am starting to feel a REALLY good Vibe about Roger’s chances at this year’s US Open. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I just have a very good feeling. It was so bleak and terrible just a week ago. And today even though he us ranked at 7 and akin that, I just feel that he has turned the corner, guys. He really impressed me at that match against Nadal. He really did. So, even though he lost it was one of those very positive good losses that will give him belief. Obviously should they meet again at the US Open he’ll have to learn from Rafa and try not to have mental lapse but just the way he played was reminiscent of someone on a mission.

    Now, because if his ranking he is going to need a little help from the draw. Hopefully he’ll miss Nadal but then again he can get Djokovic or Murray do that’s not ideal either. Ferrer would be perfect followed by Djokovic.

    Anyways, I hustled wanted to share how I feel today. Hopefully on Thursday we’ll have a more clear idea if what’s going to happen. I am just excited and I hope you guys are too. :-) )

    [Reply]

  12. I feel the same way with a quiet certainty, Vily. It’s like the Nadal match unlocked the Roger we once knew. Of the big 4, he is the only one who seems to be peaking in time. Nadal has played and won too much already and will have to feel the pain at some point. Djokovitch is still fighting something within himself and Murray hasn’t shown what he can do yet.

    [Reply]

  13. Hi all, I’ve not had a chance to follow tennis for a while so I didn’t get to see the big showdown between our man and the Spanish beast while it was going on.

    It’s frustrating because this year, every time Federer seems to have turned a corner and be on his way back up, he encounters a setback. But I think mentally he’s fine at the moment. He’s practicing hard and is hungry to win. He looks to be moving well and serving well. Not perfectly, but well.

    He doesn’t waste time or energy brooding or moping over losses; he just uses them as a spur to push himself next time. He’s very good at hitting the reset button mentally.

    If he hadn’t been playing well Nadal would have pantsed him, but he made a tough fight of it at least, which means his game is improving. After getting straight setted by the likes of Brands, losing a close three-setter to a peak-form Nadal is significant progress and an encouraging sign. He played at a higher intensity than we’ve seen pretty much since AO.

    There is a hopeful precedent: in 2008 he won USO without much hard-court prep. Although it must be said that he had the confidence from winning the gold medal in Olympic doubles with Wawrinka. That was an underrated factor in his victory–not only was he in a good mood from winning a gold medal for his country, but his volleying was particularly sharp from all that doubles play, and he carried his attacking mentality over to the fast USO hard courts. This year he has no such victory to buoy his spirits, but on the other hand he is very hungry to get back to the top and win more big titles.

    To turn to Nadal, since he’s the one winning at the moment: in 2010, when he won USO, he didn’t do well in either of the two summer hard-court Masters. Nor did he do well there in 2011, when he made the final with the loss of a set and would probably have won the title if Djokovic hadn’t been unstoppable that year.

    Now if it had been so easy for him, if they could have had him win the two summer HC Masters and USO both without any consequences, why didn’t they do it when he was younger and more resilient?

    I don’t care if they’re using Star Trek levels of medical technology, as he gets older, it only gets harder for them to boost him to the level needed to win, especially on HC. Let’s not get carried away by Toni Nadal’s PR machine and start thinking he’s a robot who magically gets stronger every time he is beaten down. His is still a human body and it has human limits, especially given how inefficient his game is. He still ages.

    So they could have done this before, but for some reason (probably to preserve his body) they were more cautious and chose not to.

    Why have they now thrown caution to the winds and started juicing him for every single event he enters, even in the hard-court Masters? Because Nadal’s making a bid for the year-end #1 ranking. Hence they have no choice but to have him win all the events he enters, because he cannot play a full season. Before it was OK for him to make quarters and semis of some events, because he would still have enough points to be at the top. Now, with a limited schedule, he cannot afford to lose in the early rounds anywhere, not if he hopes to be #1 again. Even with 8 titles, including a Grand Slam and an unprecedented five Masters titles in one season, he’s still only #2. If he had played even a couple more tournaments, he’d be #1 right now. But still Djokovic is doing just enough to hang on.

    And unlike earlier years, when Nadal was faster and stronger, if he goes in underprepared into the Grand Slams, without match play, he may not have the margins in his game to survive the early rounds–as was emphatically demonstrated at Wimbledon this year.

    He has been fully juiced for every single event he’s entered this year. Who knows what that will do to him, mentally as well as physically? They’ve never done that before, not even in his anni mirabili of 2008 and 2010. In those years he was fully juiced only for six or seven events.

    Now he has won 8 titles, and he had to be juiced for something like 9 events. And he still has to be juiced for another two or three, at least–probably USO and WTF. Maybe Basel because I’m sure Toni is itching to have Nadal beat Federer in Federer’s own backyard and he’s just the kind of vengeful sort who would go out of his way to do that.

    Nadal’s never played this much hard-court tennis during the summer–except in 2008 when he won the Olympics and Rogers Cup and made the semis in Cincinnati. But he didn’t win USO that year.

    If he makes the final of USO he would be very difficult to stop, but it’s a long way to get there. And even if he does get there, it’s certainly not a foregone conclusion. He is not the only one who can get extra chemical help–both Djokovic and Murray will surely be looking to do so as well. After losing so anticlimactically to Murray at Wimbledon, Djokovic is itching to win another Grand Slam title and retain the top spot. Murray has his eye on the #1 ranking as well and a victory at USO would nearly seal it. And don’t count out our man. If he plays his best game, Nadal still has no chance. Even if they were to bring back the mega-serve of 2010.

    One last word about Nadal. Uncle Toni wants the world to see a proud champion in control of his own destiny, who’s just battled back against impossible odds to make a miraculous recovery from career-threatening injury to be better than ever. But as usual, it’s just an illusion.

    They are actually totally out of control. By now Toni Nadal’s ego must be colossal–perhaps even to the point where he views himself as a God-like figure manipulating the ATP, the fans, and the media like puppets on a string, molding his malleable nephew into a winning machine whom (he believes) can supplant Roger Federer as the greatest tennis player ever. I think his is the megalomaniacal type of psyche who’s determined either to win it all or burn down the whole world trying.

    He used to show more restraint, but Nadal’s recent level of performance shows that he and his team have lost whatever caution they had and are simply blindly chasing after the glittering prize heedless of what might happen. They are, quite simply, nuts. Their actions are not the actions of sane people.

    Toni is so blinded by his obsession with overtaking Federer that he’s lost his reason. Thanks to Rosol, Nadal lost nearly a year in 2012 when he could have won a couple more Grand Slams and retaken the #1 ranking. They are frantic and desperate to make up that lost ground. So desperate that they are willing to do absolutely crazy things, like juice Nadal to an extent that they never even considered trying before.

    If Toni were more sensible and decided to pursue only one or the other this year–either the #1 ranking or the USO–he might more readily achieve his goal. But he’s determined to go after the whole enchilada, and that’s a much riskier and perilous undertaking, one that may have lasting repercussions on Nadal’s career.

    Anyhow, back to our favorite player. Better than any other player, Federer is able to seize small opportunities and ride the momentum to completely turn the situation around. He just needs one small chance. Runs of bad luck do not continue forever. As long as he keeps working on his game and keeps his spirits up, he’ll be ready to take advantage of any openings that present themselves. “Chance favors the prepared mind,” said Pasteur, and Federer lives by that maxim–he always seeks to be as prepared as possible to take full advantage of whatever chances come his way.

    One match at a time, is the way for him to go. He’s rested, he’s practicing, he’s in good spirits. As long as he stays relaxed, he should be in good shape for USO. So c’mon Roger!

    [Reply]

    Grumpy Reply:

    Awesome comments, Steve! Like many of the others, I too believe Nadal is on the pill/drip/powder. He’s certainly not on the cake! I just wonder when he’ll be caught. That will be a day long remembered. Meanwhile, I am sending good clean thoughts and vibes towards Roger and I can’t wait to try my new Roger-influenced forehand on the rise later today!

    [Reply]

    Gordon Reply:

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for your contribution.
    Im curious as to why you think Nadal is after the No.1 ranking?

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    Hi Gordon, I have to warn you that my answer will be a rather long one.

    Because he’s never done this well during the summer HC run, even during his peak years of 2008 and 2010, even 2011 when he went on his run of five consecutive major finals and lost only to Djokovic in the majors.

    Also because he and his camp have repeatedly proposed various ways of rigging the tour so as to make it easier for him to secure the #1 ranking (two-year ranking system, more clay tournaments, a shorter season which presumably will contain fewer hard court tournaments and thus give greater weight to the clay season in the rankings). So obviously the #1 ranking is extremely important for them.

    Why do you think Nadal is setting a more torrid pace on his worst surface than he ever has in his entire career–this player who supposedly is so easily injured? Obviously it ain’t just so he can be #2.

    The guy bellyaches constantly that hard courts are bad for his knees, so why the hell is he playing so much HC tennis? It makes no sense unless he has a specific goal in mind that is so urgent that it overrides his sense of self-preservation.

    He’s won the USO before with very little hard court prep, so he’s not doing it to get match play. The only possible reason is for the points. And why is it that Nadal wants points? The same reason every tennis player wants points: to advance in the rankings. Either to set himself up for securing the #1 ranking next year, or to secure it this year.

    My money is on the latter. There is no way he would tax his body this much just to set up for next year. Much easier to lose in the semis of all the HC Masters, if all he wants is a little point cushion to build on for next year.

    In 2010, he became #1 merely by winning the clay season (MC, Barcelona, Rome, Madrid, RG). That’s three Masters, one 500-level, and one Grand Slam.

    This year he has won one Grand Slam (RG), a historical five Masters, and three additional smaller titles (including one 500-level), and made two other finals in addition to that. That should be enough to secure him the #1 ranking, and in 2010 it would have done so by a huge margin. Instead, he only just now barely edged Murray for the #2 spot!

    That’s the difference skipping a third of the season made for Nadal. He’s having to bust his ass on the surface that is most taxing for him just to get ahead.

    The rise of Djokovic and Murray is another problem for him. They are not the players they were in 2010 when he cruised past them in the Grand Slams. These days they’re able to stay with him physically for hours and hours on end, and they have confidence from winning multiple Grand Slams. Even if he beats them now and again, such grinding matches shorten his career significantly. And they will beat him from time to time, for sure.

    This makes it all the more urgent that he win as much as he can, while he can. Because who knows when those guys will lift their games and beat him, or if some other young hotshot will come along who can play the same kind of physical tennis and challenge the top guys.

    [Reply]

    Gordon Reply:

    Hey Steve thanks for the reply.

    So what Im getting from your post is that you believe that Nadal/his team are trying to win as much in the short term as they can. Reasons being Nadal’s constant injuries and his rivals (Djoker, Murray) aren’t walk overs anymore.

    Being a big Fedfan, and watching Nadal play its hard for me to see him in decline and I just see Nadal getting better every year. However I am most likely too biased and emotional to analyse the situation properly. Also I guess no one really knows the true situation of Nadal’s injuries besides him and his team.

    What I still don’t get is why the number 1 ranking? Isn’t number 2 enough so he doesn’t bump into this closest rival, Djoker before finals at tournaments?
    I feel like I don’t get the importance of being ranked number 1. Is it for his legacy?

    [Reply]

  14. Here’s my take from last week. He played the hottest guy on tour, and took a set off him, with one of the sweetest backhands of his career. You saw the confidence, and then, it started to wane. I think when Nadal loses a big match, he’s gracious to the crowd, but I would be when he’s alone, he’s in agony over it. Then over time, he gets over it. Roger is at a point in his career, where I think he is a realist, and knows he will win some, and lose some. If a guy at 32, can play like he did last week, and get mentally tougher, he just may have a few more slams left in the tank. Just my opinion. Take it, or leave it.

    G

    [Reply]

  15. Seems like this is turning into a Nadal blog! I think Jonathan has a very good blog. His posts are informative and non-judgmental.
    All the best for Roger at USO.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    How is this turning into a Nadal blog Sue? Nadal is Roger’s closest rival after all. This is a tennis blog, and we will discuss any tennis player we like.

    [Reply]

  16. this blog has become a comdedy blog with some haters accusing ruan of becoming a rafa fan lol..come on dude he is an expert and he has got job at his disposal ,he has to give credit to the opponent no matter who is he..btw folks rafa too is extraordinary in his own right ..no?

    [Reply]

  17. There are some fanatics here that accuse every top player of doping, whether its Nadal, Djokovic or Murray. Appearently all the top players are doping, its just poor Roger who somehow still manages to compete vs them despite being “clean” and 5-6 years older. Comical.

    The whole doping discussion on this site is simply a way for bitter fans to discredit anyone who wins a major who isn’t named Roger Federer. If Djokovic wins, i bet the accusations against him will continue. Ditto with Murray. I even remember one poster on this blog accusing Tsonga of doping when he had beaten Federer a couple of times. Pathetic.

    I have myself suspected Nadal but this is getting absurd. Some bitter fans accuse every top player of doping. How utterly pathetic.

    [Reply]

    Pryzm Reply:

    Hello Mike,

    Of course you’re entitled to your opinion, but have you read many of the comments here about why many of us think Nadal (and in my case Djokovic as well) are using PEDs?

    It’s not possible for me to summarize everyone’s reasoning in a single post, and I may misstate others’ views anyway, but I’ll try to give a quick overview of my own perspective so that our discussion can have some kind of rational basis.

    First of all, let’s see if we can agree that Nadal plays a very physical game. Also, in spite of great strength AND muscle mass, and despite the fact that he sprints after every ball, he almost never gets tired. (!)

    At the top of any sport, it’s just not possible to be the strongest and the fastest; there’s just too much physical talent at the top of the bell curve. But Nadal manages to be not only strongest and fastest, but also the best conditioned. That’s suspicious on its own, don’t you think?

    If you’re an athlete I think you’ll know what I’m trying to say here.

    And you may quibble with me about who’s the very strongest or very fastest, but that would miss the point in my opinion.

    And if you watched the AO 2012, you saw Nadal and Djokovic sprint for almost 6 hours, playing high-intensity tennis for the entire match; it was an incredible display. And that match was the confirmation (for me) of what until that point I’d only suspected (like you).

    But I began to be convinced at that time that both players were using PEDs, if only because no one in the history of tennis approach the level of fitness required for that kind of physical display. And people like Borg and others were incredible athletes.

    Roger’s game is completely different from Nadal’s and Djokovic’s. He plays a very cerebral, balletic game, shortening points where he can so that his body doesn’t take a beating. He plays the most beautiful tennis I’ve ever seen, and I think most of the all-time greats (e.g. Laver) will say essentially the same thing about Roger. There’s nothing about Roger’s game that requires the great physicality that Djokovic and Nadal absolutely must have to stay on top.

    And of course, these two are winning all over the place, especially (this year, anyway) Nadal! His latest comeback is incredible (maybe UNBELIEVABLE is a better word), if only because of the physical game he continues to play.

    I have to say (I’ve said it before) that Nadal’s intensity on the court, his will to win every point, his angry and self-destructive style of tennis, reminds me more of steroid rage than anything I’ve ever seen in the sport.

    Now I want to be as fair as I can (maybe not very, but let me know). Both of these players have excellent competitive qualities that don’t come from a bottle, and both are among the greatest players in history, in my very uneducated opinion. And I actually like Djokovic pretty well, based on my limited knowledge of him. I like his eclectic approach to tennis, using diet, yoga, meditation, in addition to training so strenuously. I like the way he gives credit to his opponent and tries to speak objectively before and after matches. He’s not perfect, but neither is anyone else. I used to like Nadal too, but that’s another story…

    Roger on the other hand, in addition to his cerebral (as opposed to physical) style of play – is losing a lot! If he’s using PEDs, don’t you think he must be going about it extremely poorly? :-)

    And you may be right about the presence of fanatics here who accuse everyone of doping. I haven’t read all the posts, so I won’t comment about that.

    But in any event, I’m not trying to speak for everyone else. But I do hope that by giving you my reasons for ‘suspecting’ Nadal and Djokovic, we have a basis for a reasoned discussion about the different points I’ve made so hurriedly here. That seems a lot more productive than simply saying my belief that the two most physical players in history are using PEDs position is a comical opinion; don’t you think?

    Best Regards,
    Pryzm

    [Reply]

    Mike Reply:

    Well Nadal’s comeback is surprising. I expected him to win the French Open, and to me that wasn’t surprising at all, pretty much everyone expected him to win the French Open. And the clay masters for that matter.

    What he has done on hardcourts has been surprising. If you would have told me that he will one one masters out of three hard court masters (Indian Wells, Canada and Cincinati) i would have probably agreed with you. To see him winning all three of them has been
    undoubtedly surprising.

    And yes Nadal is suspicious. It should have taken him about six months to regain his endurance after taking eight months off. That alone is suspicious

    I am uncomfortable with “convicting” Nadal or anyone else without a failed test or eyewitnesses. But it wouldn’t surprise me if we did learn that he was using some kind of PED’S.

    The problem i have is some of the posters accusing every top player of doping. They have already decided that if Roger doesnt win the US open. I do not for a second believe that all the top players are doping. And i guarentee that no matter who wins the USO, some of the posters here will accuse that particular player of doping.

    Some fans refuse to accept that Roger is getting older and he is ultimately losing to younger highly talented players. I can understand suspecting Nadal due to the Fuentes case, his comeback since his 8 month layoff etc. But accusing every top player and every grandslam winner not named Federer. It is being a fanatic. And i, for one, am getting tired of these fanatics.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    As the owner of this blog I agree with you Mike. Some people here do tend to accuse everyone of doping who starts beating Roger and I find that unacceptable as well. I have already said what I think of the fanatical fans who think Roger is the embodiment of perfection and everyone who dares to beat him is scum. They disgust me. This blog is certainly not for fanatics. It is not a fan blog. It is a tennis blog. Period.
    I will add that I suspect Nadal of doping, and have recently started wondering about Djokovic as well, just because he has made such a radical transformation and that he is able to match Nadal 100% in physical matches like that AO final. It seems to me that to be able to level the playing field you have to be doping as well. But like I said Nadal is the main suspect for me. He keeps doing unbelievable stuff and he is old for a grinder at age 27.

    [Reply]

    Mike Reply:

    For the record, i enjoy your blog and will continue to do so. I too am a Federer fan and a tennis fan too. I remember going to the tennis stadium to see my first tennis match 7 years ago. (Federer was playing Monfils, i believe). He made me a tennis fan.

    However this is not the same Federer. He is older, slower, makes more unforced errors, lacks the same confidence that he used to have. It happens to all great champions, whether its Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan or anyone else. Some fans simply refuse to understand that this is not the same player who dominated the tour. Its not his fault, but 15 years of constantly playing and a decade of playing at the top will undoubtedly take its toll.

    I think Federer cares too much for his legacy for him to go down that route. He doesn’t have any alleged connection to the Fuentes case, he did not take eight months off and then win 10 titles. He is one of the least likely candidates for doping, he is simply a very gifted and hardworking player.

    But he is getting older and some fans find that hard to accept. Hence the doping accusations against every other slam winner.

    Anyway, i am glad you have remained objective. I still think Federer can turn back the clock and win one more major. I hope he does, it will be a great end to a great career.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Mike. Objectivity is very important to me and it can be a challenge when you have a ‘fan blog’. People will also accuse you of being biased very easily, which makes it even harder. I am very objective for someone with a fan blog yet people accuse me of being biased all the time. I’m kinda used to it though. As far as Roger goes I don’t have a problem with the whole decline thing other than the fact that we see him play less. It’s never been very hard to deal with, because I guess I focus on the good and I know that there are ups and downs. I always know he will rise again and prove the critics wrong. Like the performance in Cincy was great and I know he is on the upswing. I mean what do people want anyway? To dominate forever? Won’t that get boring? Also he is not the only tennis player in the world. There are other things to follow too. But I guess for the fanatic type that is a bit hard to grasp.

    [Reply]

    Pryzm Reply:

    Mike,

    It saddens me to witness Roger’s decline, more than the decline of any other sports star I’ve seen (I was born in 1958 so I’ve seen a lot of great ones), possibly because I think his gifts are more inspiring than the rest, and that his light shines brightest of them all.

    But at this point his decline is a definite fact. For example, none of the broadcast ‘experts’ ever pick him as the favorite to win a slam any more, even at Wimbledon, and that saddens me too.

    But he still has the game to win one – and maybe, against all odds, he could somehow win two.

    And sometimes it strkes me very poignantly to think that so many of us here wish fervently to see Roger do it ‘just one more time.’ The fact that that’s what most of us at this great site are hoping for – ONE more slam win (fools like me, hoping for maybe another one after that some day) – is clear evidence that Roger’s best days are behind him – the moreso when we consider that most of the people who post here are among his most dedicated fans. And I’m very proud to be one of them.

    I can’t tell you how much I’d love to see one more, just one more win, or how much it would mean to me because I know how much it would mean to him.

    But I don’t want the best FROM Roger; I want the best FOR him. And on the occasion of every slam – well maybe not the French :-) , I’m always hoping – unashamedly – that ‘this will be the one.’

    I was very fortunate to see Roger’s 17th slam title at Wimbledon 2012, because that’s a busy time for my family every year. I remember the wave of emotion I felt for Roger’s sake, how glad I was for him – but at the same time, the feeling that sank depressingly and inexorably into my bones – that I was watching his last victory at a Major.

    I surely hope that my feeling was misguided, and that Roger can show us another magical moment.

    He’s not the best any longer, but he’s still good enough to beat the best. And I’m not sure when, or if, we’ll ever see his like again.

    Best,
    Pryzm

    [Reply]

    Tori Reply:

    Mike, I completely understand what you’re saying in regards to fanatics accusing every player that beats Roger. These same fanatics are the ones that give true fed fans a bad name.

    I think the issue is that lax drug testing makes every player a suspect (even though some players are CLEARLY more suspicious than others), and so it’s easy to for fans to accuse other players that beat their favourite (especially when they don’t won’t to accept that maybe their favourite player perhaps just played poorly :-) )

    That been said, I would have to disagree with your view that the majority of top players may not be doping. In actuality, I myself would not be surprised if doping is widespread at the top of the sport, because of as I said due to lax drug testing. I don’t know if you read Dick Pound’s fairly recent statements regarding doping in Sport. He said “‘it’s pretty clear just from the numbers of people being caught that drug use is rampant, and it’s rampant at the top end of sports. This isn’t people ranked at No 300 taking drugs to boost them up the rankings; it’s the people at the top who have used drugs to get there. I believe it’s happening across sports” In the same interview, he goes on to say that tennis has a doping problem. BTW Pound is the former president of WADA.

    If you read through the ITF’s methods of testing, what they test for, how often e.t.c players can use PEDs and in a nutshell get away with it. Sad but true.

    I have no problem with people speculating about which players may be doping (yes even if they speculate about Roger) but as long as they can provide a logical basis for their arguments and not just make statements such as “Well, if player A is doping then player B must be too”, illogical :D

    [Reply]

    Mike Reply:

    I think the main problem is that while drug testing can improve, doping methods are progressing at a faster rate. I don’t know how much can be done about it.

    [Reply]

    Tori Reply:

    Yes, there’s alot that can be done to improve drug testing. But when you have Stuart Miller (head of anti-doping at the ITF) sprout nonsense such as “It may be that tennis is not conducive to EPO…Maybe tennis is not a sport that is driven by a need to maximize stamina, which is what EPO essentially does.” and also “[Tennis] doesn’t lend itself to any one particular kind of performance enhancement drug” I have no hope.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Wow. Is he that stupid or that corrupted?

    [Reply]

    Tori Reply:

    I truly don’t know.

    Full article:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2009/07/steroids_anyone.2.html

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    This is true too Tori. Doping is probably more widespread than people think because it’s so easy to get away with. I guess it comes down to a balance in the end. It’s easy to see when someone is using doping as an excuse because their favorite player lost, as opposed to genuinely believing someone is doping. The people who just uses it as an excuse doesn’t even know that much about doping and don’t use logical arguments like you say. They also refuse to see any positive in the player they are accusing. These are the fanatic kind who are so obsessed with their player that he is not supposed to lose and that they can’t accept him losing. Again, this blog is firstly a tennis blog and would not exist was it not for tennis. No player is bigger than the sport itself. Without everyone that came before him in tennis Roger would be nothing today, and no one is more aware of that than the man himself. I happen to be a fan of Federer but tennis will continue when he is gone. Tennis is not dependent on him to exist. It is the other way around. He depends on tennis to exist.

    [Reply]

    rich Reply:

    Mike, there is a certain fanaticism (to use your own word) in maintaining again and again that opinions that don’t match your own are “pathetic”.

    There are arguments made here that doping could be widespread in professional tennis (based on what we know about its lax testing programme and the difficulties of detection, as well as suspicious individual performances.) If doping was widespread in the amateur era of sports – as we saw with the Eastern bloc nations in the 60’s and 70’s – then it’s a no-brainer that there is even more incentive to dope in the professional era, when a sportsman’s livelihood depends on their competitive success. Lance Armstrong, among others, has demonstrated that. It’s been estimated that ten years ago almost 90 percent of the cycling tour was doping.

    You don’t happen to agree with views expressed here that suggest most top tennis players now could be doping (which, incidentally, can’t be disproven.) Fair enough. But it doesn’t make those views “pathetic”.

    [Reply]

    Pryzm Reply:

    Good points Rich.

    I tend to think that a high percentage of pro tennis players use some form of PED, because it’s an endurance sport on the order of cycling in terms of cardiac intensity level.

    Since the estimate of 90% PED use by cyclists refers to a period in which riders were being tested thoroughly, and since the testing for PED use in tennis is nowhere near the level we have and have had in cycling, I’d also tend to think that the percentage of PED users would be even higher in tennis.

    I’m just saying ….

    [Reply]

  18. Roger plays for the love of the game. The media tries to create rivalries, say incredible stupid things, fail to focus on a lot of good players.
    We should just enjoy his game while we still can.

    [Reply]

  19. Well, guys!

    The US Open 2013 draw is out and once again Federer is in the Nadal quarter. At first I was very upset but then again I realized that it’s not all doom and gloom.

    For once Djokovic and Murray are set to meet in the SFs and Ferrer and Nadal are on opposite ends of the draw. That means that if Roger manages to beat Nadal he will again be able to walk into the Final.

    Berdych is in the Murray’s section and Del Potro is in the Djokovic’s section.

    Isner is in the Nadal’s section.

    So basically there is one HUGE thorn in Roger’s path to the final. And should he overcome his nemesis he is basically in the Final with a great chance to win.

    Obviously he has to go through the first week with smooth perfect tennis. Then the biggest test of his life will come – to beat Nadal at the US Open (Roger’s last stand). That being said I think that he CAN do it. It is FAST hard court and obviously that gives a slight advantage to Federer. If his game is clicking by then and he plays at 110% without MENTAL lapses he can beat Nadal.

    It will be difficult but not impossible. I just feel that The US Open and Wimbledon have been Rogers’s best majors and he has never met Nadal at the US Open. I also like that Roger is clearly the underdog and that will play into his hands. Then should he win he will be able to have his off match against Ferrer (hopefully not Gasquet) and then he is into the Final where he’ll only have to beat either Djokovic, Murray or Del Potro.

    I actually like that he’ll play his toughest opponent first. That means that it can all potentially be downhill from there. Nadal might not be up to speed by the QFs so Roger will have his chance.

    There you have it!!! Allez Roger!!! I feel good about this!!!

    [Reply]

    rahan Reply:

    Good remark Vily.
    I felt the same reading the news.
    I hope you are right.
    For me the final is now RF vs. Nadal.

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    Yup. That’s what I’d going to come down to. For once, actually I want them to meet. I don’t want Nadal to exit early. I want that QF to take place. The closest you’ll get to an indoor hard court is the US Open and potentially Cincy. In Cincy Roger was coming off a tight win which gave him some confidence but again he wasn’t sure of himself. I think that if he goes through the first 4 rounds win no scares and basically a smooth ride, he’ll give it his all with no looking back. I love the fact that he can leave it all knowing that if he wins he can still beat Ferrer quite easily and then go into a potential Final with plenty of rest and a ton of confidence.

    It’s so funny how things work out in Tennis. After all that Nadal dud this year, it can take only one match and one win by Roger to undo it all.. If Roger wins and he takes the US Open he’ll shut Nadal for good.

    Let’s hope. Still a long way to go but I was thinking about this and it’s the perfect opportunity for Roger. He may not ever get another one like this…

    [Reply]

    Bharata Reply:

    I was pretty annoyed when I saw the draw (see my post below) because I knew it would happen. But reading your comments have made my attitude more positive.
    in 2005-2010 I would give Roger the edge over Nadal on the fast courts of New York. He would school him in how to play fast court tennis. And at the 2012 AO, I thought Roger had his best chance, but as usual in the crucial tiebreaker, Nadal (despite playing with severe knee pain, of course) always played his risk free tennis and prevailed.

    At this stage in his career does Federer have the endurance to take 3 sets off Nadal? More importantly, can he maintain the mental concentration required (i.e. no slips like the end of the 2nd/start of 3rd set in Cinncy) ?

    I feel this is Federer’s last stronghold. He has been defeated (though narrowly) by Nadal at the other Slams. And now, in the twilight of his career, the publicity-hungry organizers will sacrifice his legacy and put him out against the juiced-up Nadal.

    But that’s why he is so great. Federer knew, like we all did, that this draw was inevitable. He won’t hide from it. Win or lose he will play with class and dignity.

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    I think that if Roger gets by the first 4 rounds with relative ease and he starts employing that first strike tennis that is so crucial at the US Open he’ll be ready for Nadal. Roger will have some potentially tricky matches with either Tomic or Nishikory but if gets by them he’ll be ready. I agree that in recent times in order for Roger to even have a chance against Nadal he’ll have to win the first set. It’s crucial. But if he does it will make it doable. It’ll be very hard considering Roger’s age but I think that he has one amazing performance in him.. Should he win, unless he plays Janowitz in the semis he’s guaranteed for the Final. And there I am not sure who would he rather meet right now? I am not sure. But in either case his chances of lifting the trophy would increase astronomically if he manages to beat Nadal. We can dream! It’s possible! :-) ))

    [Reply]

    rahan Reply:

    I would like that the match RF vs. Nadal will end in the same way as RF vs. Djoko. in Roland Garros 2011
    (I cannot forget the finger…)

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    That’s exactly what I mean. Roger can produce one Masterclass all year and that’s all it takes..

    Hopefully, he can do it. It will be so awesome for all Roger fans who have suffered enough this year. Roger will need 2 masterclasses to claim the trophy but I like the fact that they won’t have to be back to back performances and he would be able to rest if he plays Ferrer (which I hope picks up his game enough to get to the SFs)… I can’t wait for the US Open to begin.. :-)

    [Reply]

    rahan Reply:

    …and here is a link that you will probably like to remember …

    http://sports.yahoo.com/tennis/blog/busted_racquet/post/Federer-snaps-Djokovic-8217-s-43-match-win-stre?urn=ten-wp1276

    [Reply]

  20. Just saw the draw. As I commented in previous posts, the idiots who fix the draw made sure they maximized the potential for their Federer-Nadal TV ratings match. It will be on prime time US television. I mean honestly how ridiculous is that? Every single time they always happen to be drawn on the same side? Only the French had the guts to avoid this…credit to them. This nonsense will go forever, literally, unless somehow they both got to No.1 and No.2 The real curse of the ‘greatest match of all time’ in 2008 is that these money-hungry organizers want to recreate it.

    And Federer has to play the hottest player on tour (and Nadal probably gets other help, with good circumstantial evidence outlined above) once again.

    [Reply]

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