Tag Archive | Davydenko

You say mono, I say duo.

No predictions from me, as promised. I dare say you’ll read enough of it in the next few days anyway. Some thoughts on the draw and just a little shoutout to a notable first round match – Roger Federer v Lu Yen-Hsun.

 

Of all the people Roger could’ve gotten for round 1, he gets “mono guy”. Yup folks, Lu came down with mono just before Roland Garros, where he had to retire against Mathieu Moncourt. I’m not sure how well he’s recovered, but when fit, he can be a tricky and talented opponent. I’ve only seen Lu play a few times. No big weapons, but doesn’t make a lot of errors either, and volleys wells. You might remember him bringing down Bandy in 5 sets at the Aus Open earlier this year, or ending British hopes at the Olympics last year against Murray. Not to be underestimated. 

 

Can we get a Gavin Rossdale cheerleading team this year?

 

So – the Wimbledon draws are out! Let meaningless overanalysis begin.

I’ll say this much – cupcakes turn into muffins, which then turn to bricks. Never dismiss any section of the draw. I certainly thought Rafa had a dead easy path to the final at Roland Garros. Look how that turned out. 

 

Meaningless Draw Analysis: The Fab Eight


1. People Rafa should be scared of – errr everyone? Hewitt second round, what? This is what happens when you don’t seed Lleyton Hewitt. Shame on your Wimblydondon.

I’m not dismissing Nadal though. Why would anyone be that stupid? Even with those wobbly knees.

 

2. People Roddick should be scared of – Davydenko, Mathieu. Foetus Fed – Grigor Dimitrov? I don’t think so. Jeremy Chardy first round ain’t exactly a cupcake either.

 

3. People Andy Murray should be scared of – so should Andy really be scared of Ernests Gulbis? The guy who lost to Alberto Martin on GRASS last week. Unless Ernie pulls a hat trick, it’s beat-down time second round, if he even makes it that far. Murray’s ability to avoid land mines in the first week will depend on his return of serve, with Kendrick and Dent both in his section of the draw. Yes, and the heartbreaker Marat Safin as well.

 

4. People Gilles Simon should be scared of – ummm … himself

I’d say Gonzo is coming through this section. But how’s Blake v Santoro for a first round match? 

 

5. People Juan Martin del Potro should be scared of – Tommy Haas and Marin Cilic. 

 

6. People Novak Djokovic should be scared of – himself, but otherwise a relatively easy path to the quarters. Except for maybe Mardy Fish.

 

7. People Fernando Verdasco should be scared of – let’s face it, Verdasco ain’t gonna go the distance. At least not given his recent performances.

Tsonga on the other hand is one guy we should all be scared of. Especially Roger Federer. As much as I love the Frenchman and just want to eat him with chocolate pudding, his ability to just catch on fire and burn only half way through the draw is truly fearsome and frustrating at the same time.

Ivo Karlovic too? Surely the guy wants an annual payday?

 

8. People Roger Federer should be scared of – everyone. At least according to Dootsie. According to the rest of the world – no one. 

But really? Kohlschreiber, potentially a third round opponent, just beat Novak Djokovic 3 weeks ago, and made semi in Halle. It’ll also be interesting to see how Sodering follows up his Roland Garros run, or not. Theoretically grass is more suited to his game than clay.

 

CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

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Scaredycat.

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray are all out of Roland Garros before the semifinals. While we’re at it, why don’t we throw Nikolay Davydenko (long time world No 3) in that mix too.

 

AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau

 

Needless to say: normalcy in my Tennis Universe has officially crashed down on me. Roland Garros is cursed this year. Parisien waters have been spiked, and which ever Tennis God that’s writing the script for this tournament is a sadistic prankster.

 

I am scared shitless.

 

Most of my friends, the casual tennis followers among them, think I’m just a moronic fangirl fretting over nothing here.  What (and who?) is to stop Roger Federer from winning this tournament?

 

My answer to that: Djokovic lost to Kohlschreiber. Nadal lost to the Sod, who went on to blow Davydenko off the court. Murray lost to Gonzo. Correct that – Murray got bagelled by Gonzo. While not entirely shocking given Gonzo’s clay court prowess and Murray’s lack thereof, it is nevertheless considered an upset. And yes, it’s finally sinking in that the Sod could well make a grand slam final at Roland Garros. That fucker. Guess who I’ll be going for in that particular semifinal.

 

As for the quarterfinals on tonight – shh. Don’t think it. Predict nothing. Follow women’s tennis instead.

 

Mentioning women’s tennis, it disturbs me that I actually enjoyed the high-intensity ballbashing between Safina and Azarenka last night. It’s the only match I watched in fact, before a week and a half of sleep deprivation took its toll.

 

It’s also occurred to me that Victoria Azarenka isn’t making herself terribly popular out there on court. Serena has her enlarged ego, and dramatic flair. Sharapova has the Shriek and those Siberian Tiger glares. But Vika – she’s got all of those, with the addition of a smirk – Novak Djokovic styled. Attractive? Hardly. But oddly enough, I find it somewhat endearing. For someone who likes her female tennis players bold, sassy and carniverous, the Victoria Azarenka bandwagon parks firmly in my front yard.

 

And you gotta admit, in that first set of her quarterfinal match against Safina, Azarenka played the most spectacular tennis I’ve seen from her, ever. The pace of her groundstrokes, the ferocity of her attack, 93% first serves, 1 unforced error for that entire set – need I say more? At the end of the day, the difference between Safina and Azarenka came down to maturity – the ability to balance fight and passion with clear thinking. That Safina survived the Azarenka onslaught yesterday bodes well for her chances of winning this slam, and I admire this rite of passage we’re seeing from Safina ever since she took the No 1 spot. Is JJ taking notes?

 

And how about a little clap for Maria Sharapova? Out for 9 months with an injury, she came into this slam having played only 3 matches in Warsaw, and still, the girl makes it to the quarterfinals. Rusty, error prone, louder than ever, but fighting her enormous heart out all the way. Congratulations on bettering her results from last year by one round. Off to the blessed grass courts you go – here’s to winning ugly and winning it tough.

 

Still don’t want to think about the men’s side, and whoever’s still left in the draws there.

Don’t. Just don’t think about it.

 

xx doots

As boring as you like

How boring was Roger’s match today against James Blake? Mind-numbing.

 

After his surprise run over in Estoril last week, James Blake looked just about burnt out. Roger was in practice match-mode out there, zen faced, nonchalant. Mirka pretty in yellow, but utterly bored and entranced by her Blackberry. What else is new? But hey, if Roger wants to keep winning in straight sets, he can be as boring as he likes! 20 winners to 19 UFEs, 5 aces with 57% of first serves in. Could be better, but nothing majorly out of sorts for me to rant about. Like I said, boooooorring. 

 

Word is around that Koyla withdrew with a leg injury, so it’s Fed v Pandy Take 19. I do believe it’s their first ever meeting on clay? Should be interesting in a holy-shit-Roger-Federer-is-screwed kinda way … or routinely banal, as in a Roger-meets-Karlovic-on-clay kinda way. Take you’re pick and we gonna see.   

 

An underwhelming night of tennis all round. Murray v Robredo was full of disco fun for about a set. Robredo certainly had his fair share of chances, but alas – that’s the story of his entire career. Once the first set had been fought and lost, Mandy took control and Disco Tommy could dance no more. 

 

After insisting that Andy Murray has clay court potential a few weeks ago, I am starting to look like an idiot. Andy Murray does not look entirely comfortable or happy out there on this surface. Gonna stick with my initial judgment though: once Murray finds that aggression on clay, he could do some damage. But since Mandy is on Roger’s side of the draw, dootsie might have to sacrifice her good name and hope that she continues to look like an idiot. 

 

Djokovic v Seppi – the Djoker alternated between flashes of brilliance and mediocrity, clocking up 39 UFEs to 19 winners. But overall a fairly standard win. With Djokovic’s sudden surge of form of late, I don’t worry about him. Period. 

 

In an ever-changing world (and an ever-changing tournament), it’s nice to know that some features stay constant and constantly distracting …

 

2008 Year-End Wrap Up: ATP Pt 2, the Players

Some final thoughts on the players this year, by players, I mean players other than Roger Federer, who, as the header of this blog, deserves his own damn post.  😀

 

Player of the Year

Who else but Rafael Nadal. To say that Rafa has been the most dominant player this year is to state the obvious – the dude did end up as the World No 1. But it’s a different kind of dominance than the one I’m used to seeing in the past 3 years. Nadal spent a period of 8 months between Stuttgart 2007 and Monte Carlo 2008 without winning a single title, by the time Hamburg rolled around, Rafa was one match away from losing his No 2 spot to Novak Djokovic. In this sense, with the benefit of hindsight, Hamburg 2008 seems like a real turning point for Nadal. The fact that he weathered the storm and came through two very tight 3-setters (Djokovic in the SF, and Federer in the final) must’ve given him an enormous boost. Two more matches defined the rest of Nadal’s season – one was Queens and the other was of course the Wimbledon final. Sure enough, Rafa was seeded No 1 at Queens, but how many people had him as the favourite to win? After Queens, it was almost unanimous among tennis clairvoyants that Rafael Nadal was going to walk away with the Wimbledon trophy this year, and no matter how close Federer came to proving them wrong, ultimately, they were dead right, and it was precisely this sense of inevitability that made the 5 setter at Wimbledon so heartbreaking for Federer fans. I’m not one to believe in fate, but I came damn close during that match.

One last voice of doubt regarding Nadal though, since his win in Beijing, Nadal has gone titleless for the rest of the year, brought down by physical injuries and the sheer exhaustion of this long season. Has/Can Nadal’s body ever sustain him through an entire season? And how does this bode strategically for those who want the top spot? 

 

Novak Djokovic 

Twice this year, he came close to becoming the World No 2. Twice he fell short. Doesn’t take a genius to work out that I’m not the biggest fan of the Djoker. Every time I came close to warming up to him, he and his family would say or do something outrageously comical to repel me again. Examples? “the-king-is-dead-long-live-the-king” incident, the sore-throat/dizziness retirement in Monte Carlo, and of course, the infamous Roddickgate at the US Open…

For sure, Djokovic started the year looking very much like the next in line. Australian Open, Indian Wells, a few semifinal showings- I don’t need to go through the 2008 chronology.

But then something inexplicable happened – I watched him surrender meekly against Safin at Wimbledon, and something in his demeanour that day kept coming back for the rest of the year – an expression that spelt “I couldn’t care less”, “you happy now?” appeared time and time again – against Murray in Toronto, against Tsonga second set in Thailand, third set in Paris and at the Masters Cup. And of course, in the semifinal against Federer at the US Open, Djokovic never looked like he had an ounce of belief that he could win. Even in the eyes of a non-fan, the Djoker just looked like a guy who needed a hug by the end of that fourth set. 

Perhaps for this reason, I’ve really refrained from talking about the Djoker recently, except for a little dig at his ill-advised drop shots. I remember all the negativity surrounding Federer during the year, and well… you just don’t trash talk a player when he’s seemingly in a ditch. After his Masters Cup win, I feel much more free to ponder over Djokovic’s stagnation after Rome this year. At the end of the day, the conclusion I came to was that he’s probably just an overly sensitive guy who desperately wants to be respected, but chooses the wrong way to earn that respect. Either way, for me at least, what separates Novak Djokovic from Nadal and Federer right now is more his mentality than his quality of tennis. I’m not sure where the Djokovic’s get their victim-complex from, and certainly some players work well with a “Me vs the World”  mentality (Hewitt, for example), I’m just not sure Djokovic is that kinda guy judging from his performance in the latter half of this year.

Question: I was making highlights for the 99 Roland Garros final between Hingis and Graf, and it occurred to me – is Novak Djokovic a Martina Hingis? Not in terms of style (although I can see similarities) but in terms of personality and PR…

 

Andy Murray

A friend of my reckons Andy Murray is “kinda cute”. She might even have a thing or two for his hairless chest and tic-tac teeth. Can I say I’m horrified?

Okay but seriously now, Andy Murray seemed relatively irrelevant at the start of this year. I remember marveling earlier on this year that just over 12 months ago, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were at the same level, and since then, Djokovic has made the finals at the US Open and won himself a slam down under, while Andy Murray – where the hell was Andy Murray?

Just as well I kept those thoughts to myself, because not long after, Andy Murray began his rise to the top of the game. The real turning point for him, as I’ve mentioned, came during that match against Gasquet at Wimbledon. Since then, Murray seems to have acquired a new sense of maturity and clear thinking. No need for me to go through his match history since the US Open final. Not a fan of the person (he published an autobiography BEFORE his first Masters Series title? Without a decent grand slam showing? C’mon!), but I am a fan of his game. Dude’s going to be World No 1 someday, without a doubt. Barring a return of his former brain cramps or injuries, he’s due for a grand slam title, very soon. 

One last comment regarding Andy Murray – dude, DROP THE FRED PERRY LINE. You’ve gone down in history as the player who turned up to play McFederer in the US Open final dressed in a potato sack. Fugly with a capital F.

 

If I were an investor, and tennis players were stocks, I’d be looking to buy next year – 

  • Ernests Gulbis: I actually thought he’d make more of a mark this year, but in quite a few matches, he came short of pulling an upset. Doesn’t matter. I expect this guy to draw blood next year, now that I’m on the bandwagon. 
  • Marin Cilic: Love. Love. Love. The boy knows how to hit a two-handed backhand. Good first serve and forehand as well. There’s a lot he needs to work on. But the salient features are there. He’s going to be a great player one day.
  • Kei Nishikori: he’s been on my rankings watch all year. Something tells me he’s going to become the highest ever ranked player from Asia very, very soon. I’m interested to see how he’ll deal with the pressure from back home in Japan though. 
  • Lleyton Hewitt: if you sold him, now is the perfect time to buy. He’ll never be a contender grand slam-wise again, but the man’s still got more titles in him once he recovers from his hip surgery. Plus Aussie tennis’s hit rock bottom, and it needs a little bit more support from me. CAAHH’MAWWWNNN.
  • Undecided – Troicki. Yay or nay? 

Stocks I’ll be keeping

  • Juan Martin del Potro: it’s been his break through year, but he’s yet to claim top 3 blood. That’s going to change in 2009. But at the end of the day, as much as I like what I see, I do find him a little one dimensional. If we could combine the mentality and heart of del Potro with the talent of Marat Safin or Richard Gasquet, we could have another Federer.
  • After a year like this one, it’s a surprise that I’m still keeping Richard Gasquet. My commerce student friends would be screaming “SELL SELL SELL YOU ARTS/LAW/COMMIE HOE!” at me. Gasquet is going to make me broke (and bald) one day. But I just can’t bring myself to sell a stock that seems like it’s got so much potential. 
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: I have my fears about his fitness, and his high risk tennis isn’t the kind of thing you should get attached to if you are unsure about your heart condition and blood pressure. But I just love the flair, the raw power combined with surprising finesse, the outrageous things he does on a tennis court…. wins over 3 out of the top 4 this year. Rock on Tsonga!

Stocks I’m selling

  • Gael Monfils: I know he made semi at Roland Garros, and I do love watching Monfils play. Not to mention he’s got one of the most adorable personalities on tour. But I don’t think he’ll ever be a contender. And he hasn’t got the sort of spell over me that Gasquet has. So here’s a stock I can afford to sell. 
  • James Blake: again, another player who I dearly love. But Blake ended this year titleless, losing to a lot of players who he probably shouldn’t have lost to. I’d love to be proven wrong, but it seems like the Masters Cup run he had in 2006 might end up being the highlight of his career. =(
  • Andy Roddick: I miss Roddick v Federer matches. We didn’t get another one after Miami. It’s a shame to sell just when Andy’s growing on me after all these years, but gee Roddick’s had a miserable year. He started the year with a little outburst at the Australian, and ended with a withdrawal from the Masters Cup.  
  • David Nalbandian: he doesn’t believe in himself, so why should I believe him. It’s a shame because no one needs to be told of the obvious fact that Nalbandian is brimming with talent. I used to have a thing for imploders. These days, Gasquet is more than I can handle. Nalbandian must go. Sorry Bandy =(
  • Nikolay Davydenko: I’ve promised myself to watch him more in the future, after discovering how underrated and entertaining his game is during the Masters Cup (hey, I’ve watched the guy lose 12 times to Roger Federer, so it’s not my fault that has never hit me before). But once you realise he’s defending Miami next year, you would be selling too. Good chance that Davo will make it to the London WTF next year, but not a good chance that he’ll end up in the top 5 six years in a row.   

 

And fare thee well to Santoro, Bjorkman and Guga. You’ll all be dearly missed. Marat Safin – look on the bright side, you made semifinal at Wimbledon this year. I’m not ready to say farewell to you yet so come back for 2009 please! 

 

One more post on McFederer and that’s probably enough tennis writing from me for 2008. What am I going to write about during the off season? My day? But writing about your own day is like going through your own vomit to see what you had for breakfast. No. That ain’t happenin’.

2008 Year-End Wrap Up: ATP Pt 1, the Matches

Just goes to show how much more emotionally invested in the ATP I am compared to the WTA. What a year it’s been, and I’ve decided to separate it into different posts. So here’s the first one, matches of the year. And a little disclaimer before I start – neutrality has no place on blogs, so feel free to disagree/agree with my terribly biased opinions. 

 

Match of the Year

Do I need to spell this one out? Can anyone really pick another match other than this one? No, I’m seriously not going to mention it by name, if you can’t figure out which match I’m referring to, there’s something wrong with you. Not only did it have high quality tennis, Shakespearean rain delays/acts of divine intervention, and two players who both epitomise what the Wimbledon Champion should be like, but it was also a watershed moment in 2008. The man who won would go on to take over the World No 1 in a month’s time, but really, the moment he reached for the trophy at SW19, he already was the unofficial no 1. 

That’s probably as much as I’m going to write about THE match, though I think it deserves many posts solely dedicated to it, I do feel that it’s been theorised enough already, and frankly, I’m still too traumatized by match to talk at length about it (I have the HD version of the match on my computer, and it’s ZIPPED with the password “cardigan”. Maybe one day in 10 years time, I’ll meet a stranger at a pub, or on public transport, and smilingly nod when he/she asks me if I remember this match, but for now, to quote Federer “it hurt”, and it still hurts).

But one last thing I will say about this match was something that came up when I was talking to a friend of mine (also a tennis fan) the other day – what would’ve happened in an alternative universe, if Federer had won the match? 1) it would have been the best come back in the history of tennis. 2) as Federer fans, we would’ve all been a happier bunch. 3) Federer probably could have held on to his no 1 spot instead of subjecting us to his existential crisis from after Wimbledon right through to the doubles gold in Beijing. But think about the other side for a moment – Rafael Nadal would have been the imploder who served for the match, double faulted, and lost in 5 sets. If you remember Nadal’s face after the 2007 final, you would not wish that on him. You would not wish that on anyone. So maybe it was only fitting that Federer be the warrior who “almost” came back from a 2 set deficit than Rafa the imploder who double faulted and lost perhaps his last/only (I hope not) chance to beat Federer on grass. 

 

Non-“The Match That Shall Not be Mentioned” – Matches of the Year

Because The Match was so significant that it just overshadowed every other match, let’s take that aside for a second. The non-“Match” matches of the year (the ones I’ve watched anyway) are –

 

Best of Five

  • Gasquet v Murray Wimbledon: what can you do about Richard Gasquet, on the one hand, I give Murray full credit for coming back from a 2 set deficit, but on the other, it is so Gasquet to lose the match after being up two sets and so close to victory. From another perspective, both Gasquet and Murray (until recently) were at the time, what I would call “the tortured artists”, exceptionally talented, but with the mental fortitude of a stick insect. But since that match, how their lives have diverged – Murray’s gone on to establish himself as a strong contender at major tournaments, and Gasquet ended his year miserably titleless, and injured. *sigh* Had it not been for THE match, this would’ve been match of the year for me. 
  • Federer v Tipsarevic Australian Open: Tipsarevic came out of nowhere to push Federer to the absolute extreme, and he did play some phenomenal tennis. Federer had some brain dead moments too during the match that probably cost him in the first 3 sets, but once Tipsarevic took that 2-1 lead, Federer clicked into that extra gear, and didn’t give Tipsy much of a chance in any more of his service games. And the game where he broke at 8 all in the fifth was just sheer brilliance, from both ends of the court. Yet (and maybe I’m only speaking from hindsight), there was this ominous feeling after this match, that perhaps, the 10 finals in a row streak was about to end, and that perhaps something else is wrong.
  • Federer v Andreev US Open: I’ve still only watched half the match (downloaded to 90%), and from what I’ve seen so far, lots of unforced errors from Federer, but he wasn’t playing badly, Andreev was just playing the best tennis I’ve ever seen him play. I was scoreboarding the match during Constitutional Law, needless to say I didn’t hear a single thing about executive powers, all I heard was the buzzing in my ear from the general lack of oxygen. To add to the drama, I always thought New York was the last city to really warm to Federer, clearly I was wrong. Years of service from Federer was repaid with interest by New Yorkers at the US Open this year, and that was beautiful to see. Can we do the same down here in Melbourne for Australian Open 09? To be really sick and quote everyone’s favourite politician right now – “YES WE CAN!”
  • Nishikori v Ferrer US Open: I’ve still not seen the entire match either, plan to download in its entirety during the off-season. Ferrer I’ve always liked for his speed and doggedness, there are those who possess incredible talent, but only make use of a fraction of it (Gasquet, Safin), and then there are those who you wonder how on earth they even made it into the top 10, let alone top 4 for Ferrer at some point this year. But that is because Ferrer made 110% of the talent he does have. As much as I love Nishikori, I did feel quite bad for Ferru after the match. And how about Nishikori, I think we finally have a promising young talent from Asia. All hail Special K!
  • Haas v Gasquet US Open: REESHIE! *tears chunks of hair out* But this is another match between two “tortured artists” who really could’ve accomplished more in their careers with the talent they possess. I haven’t quite given up on Gasquet though, and I won’t until he gets to the age of 25 at least.
  • Those that never made it to five sets: who says you have to make it to 5 sets for it to be a fabulous match? matches I loved this year include – Gulbis v Roddick US Open, Federer v Gonzalez Roland Garros, Federer v Monfils Roland Garros, Nadal v Murray US Open, Djokovic v Federer US Open, Murray v del Potro US Open

 

Best of Three

  • Federer v Murray Masters Cup: it’s still fresh on everyone’s mind, so it suffices to say that I think it’s “the” best of 3 match of the year.
  • Before the Federer-Murray match, I thought the best of 3 match of the year was Nadal v Simon Madrid, again – the sheer drama, the Spanish fans, the unfreakingbelievable shots Simon was pulling off that had me pointing at my computer screen screaming “GET OUTTA HEYAAAA!”  I finished the match at 4am AEST, that’s how enraptured I was. 
  • Nadal v Djokovic Hamburg – it’s funny to think that Nadal is now safely in command of the No 1 spot when way back in May, he was one match away from dropping to no 3 (the position Federer, to my dismay, is in right now). Again, only watched bits of the match but it looked like high quality stuff, many thought it was the best match so far at that point in the year, until it was outdone by the match a day later.
  • Federer v Nadal Hamburg – aka the match next day – Federer shouldn’t lost the first set, but he did. Nadal shouldn’t lost the second, but he did. Therein lies the drama of this match, plus this match conned me into a false sense of security that the Roland Garros final was going to be a competitive match, until Nadal showed up in Clay Monster mode and Federer showed up… well Federer never really showed up. 
  • Roddick DEF Federer Miami – Roddick’s had a pretty disappointing year even by his own standards. But he can walk away from this year thinking “hey, I WON ANOTHER MATCH AGAINST FEDERER”. That almost counts as a grand slam in Roddick’s books these days right? Given that it was not long after Dubai (where Roddick beat both Nadal and Djokovic), there was every reason at that point in the year to think that Roddick was going to be relevant again. Until he lost to Davydenko the next day that is. Don’t you miss the days when Andy Roddick was making grand slam semis and finals, coming up with some classic presscons and acceptance speeches along the way? 
  • Federer v Nalbandian Monte Carlo – both players played out of their mind, and Federer prevailed in 3 sets, but that was the sharpest Federer had looked since the Australian Open. In fact, it was positively TMF/JesusFed. I had my doubts coming into the match, I hit the panick button half way through, and I ended the match back to being the Zen Master that I really am. Kool-Aid Drinker? Me? Never!
  • And that sinkin’ feelin’ continues…I don’t want to remind everyone but just think of what we had to live through this year – Fed the Dead v Simon Pt 1/Pt 2, Fed the Dead v Ginepri Cincinatti, Fed the Dead v Murray Dubai, Fed the Dead v Mardy-Fish-who-rhymes-with-Dish Indian Wells, Fed the Dead v Blake Beijing, Fed the inexplicable vs Stepanek the Worm in Rome, Fed the inexplicable vs Karlovic Cincinatti. The only thing I can say about that sinkin’ feelin’ is that old sayin’ – “what doesn’t kill ya makes ya strongaaaa”
  • Non-Masters Matches deserving of a mention: Cilic v Fish New Haven (Marin wins his first title, and I hopped on the bandwagon); del Potro v Gasquet Stuttgaard (del Potro started on his four titles streak, I lose more of my hair over Richard Gasquet); Kei Nishikori v James Blake Delray Beach (Kei wins his first title at the expense of my second favourite forehand in the game)

What’s Hot and What’s Not in Shanghai

I’m sick, and it’s Sunday here in Aus, and being sick on a Sunday means that you get to stay in bed all day with English Breakfast tea and your beloved Macbook. Hoorah! Still thinking about the Masters Cup and what a farce it turned out to be, at least for me anyway. So here’s the hot or not list from my sickbed. 

 

What’s HOT?


Davydenko, aka Davo

This is just plain weird for me. Davo’s never been on my hot list before. To me, he’s one of those players who I do enjoy watching, but at the same time, hate because he just never seems to have the belief that he could win against some of the top seeds. When you look at his game, there’s not much wrong with it, he has good movement, good weapons, a great attacking game, he’s quite comfortable at the baseline and he’s quite comfortable at the net. So why doesn’t he win any slams? I have a feeling that the answer to that question lies more in his head than in his game. In any case, I was watching his match against Tsonga last Sunday and it hit me just how entertaining a player he is. Unfortunately, while I’ll be rooting for him in a few hours time, I am also unconvinced that Davo’s self-belief is where it needs to be right now. So I’m picking Djoko for the Cup, but then again, who expected Davydenko to win Miami? 

 

 

Roger “Thou-Shall-Never-Retire” Federer

When is Federer NOT on my hot list? But then again, I’m still thinking about the Murray def Federer match, which could most probably turn out to be match of the tournament.

I know a lot of fans are disappointed with the result of that match, but ever the Zen Master, I’ve actually taken it quite well given my FedKadism. Here’s why: Federer could’ve lost the second set 6-2, he could’ve lost the 3rd set by an even more pathetic scoreline given the 0-3 break at the start, he could’ve been finished off at 6-4 in the 3rd, but the final scoreline stands are 4-6, 7-6, 7-5. Now you can “tut tut” and say that a loss is still a loss. But this is an injured, exhausted man, who’s played a hell a lot of extra matches this year outside the normal Masters Series and grand slam schedule, and all these matches alongside a debilitating illness at the start off the year.

Coming into this match, I didn’t expect Federer to win, I didn’t even expect the scoreline to be so close. Even Federer himself thought he needed “a miracle” to get through to the semis. Had he gone through to the semis, he would’ve been too burnt out to play anyway.

So for me, given his physical condition (and compare that to Murray, who hasn’t had a grueling first half of the year), I saw enough in the match to assure me that when healthy, if Fed and Murray met 10 times, Federer could come out with a win on more than half those occasions. You can proclaim me to be in denial/rationalising as much as you want, and maybe we all find what we subconsciously seek. But that’s just my gut feeling from what I saw in that match: It was great tennis, and had Federer been healthy, we might well have had a different winner. 

And one last comment re Federer – 766 career matches and not a single retirement. Perhaps he was thinking about this record when he needed to sit down in the linesman’s chair to wait for his opponent to serve. I was reading a Chinese interview of Federer’s driver for the tournament, and the guy told the media that at the start of the third set, he was told by the organisers to get the car ready because they half expected Federer to retire. But at the end of the day, here’s a guy with moral principles that he is prepared to push himself to the extreme to uphold. In the future, all the youngsters in the game will be going after and breaking many of Federer’s career records, but I think this one will stand forever as one of those statistics that speaks volumes about the player and the person that is Roger Federer. As always, I’m full of fangirly admiration. Hot.

 

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Giles Simon

Down a set and a break, Simon had Federer exactly where he wanted him to be. Watching the Federer v Simon match was like living through Federer’s post-Wimbledon nightmare all over again. Last year, it was Canas that Federer should have never lost to, this year, it’s Simon. 

But all the credit to Simon though, while I’m not an admirer of his style of play, I do admire the player himself: powerful, undaunted, rock solid, almost dogged. Consistently producing “How on EARTH” shots and looking like he didn’t mean for them to happen. Like Federer said, the better you play, the better Simon plays.  I was rooting for him to get to the finals and do it for all the underdogs of the sporting world, and it did actually turn out to be a surprisingly close affair. Too bad Giles – you’ve already had both Federer and Nadal’s scalps this year, let’s save Djokovic for 2009. 

 

The Shanghai fans

I just love the way Shanghai fans “oooh” and “aah” during the point. Love their unabashed support for the top dogs as opposed to the underdogs. Love their appreciation of aces. Love their cowbells and crazy signs. So glad the city is getting its own Masters Series next year when the Masters Cup move to London. 

 

wonder what mirka's thinking?

wonder what mirka's thinking, it looks like two guys holding up that sign too. 😀

 

And lastly, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the high percentage play is totally hot. Although he only won one match in his RR, I thought he played beautifully, save for a few minor brain dead moments, this Frenchman has flair and I flove it.

 

EDIT// I can’t believe I forgot to mention Andy Murray. But kudos for not tanking the match against Federer, I know beating Federer means a lot to him, and probably he didn’t expect Federer to put up such a fight either, but by going all out in RR, he deprived himself of a decent chance against Davo in the semis. It’s not strategic, but it’s admirable. 

 

What’s NOT?

 

Tennis Masters Cup semifinals without Rafa, and Fed (and Tsonga for my own preference). The tournament organisers must be wondering what on earth they did wrong to be punished like this – Djokovic and Davydenko for the finals. I blame it on dodgy ATP scheduling this year that tired the top seeds out, how are you meant to go through such a grueling season and still remain healthy and fresh for the Masters? 

 

Andy Roddick – pulling out of a tournament is never that hot, even if Andy is growing on me a little. I’m sad that we didn’t get to see another Andy/Roger match this year after Miami. I do like the match-up, not even because Federer usually wins. And now that I think of it, it’s sad to see Andy end his year on such a disappointing note too. 

 

The Spanish Davis Cup team – I still don’t know who is actually playing. I’m assuming Lopez and Verdasco are both in? They’re my favourite Spaniards. What a country of beautiful men Spain is. Gotta visit one day. Wait, this is meant to be the “not hot” section – well not having Rafa and Robredo is just down right cold for Spain. I feel for them. =( Now can’t we put Granollers in there somewhere? Please? 

 

Novak Djokovic’s failed drop shots: there’s a few guys on tour who can do some fineee drop shots, Ernests Gulbis and Andy Murray come to mind. Novak Djokovic on the other hand seems to do some pretty fugly drop shots that backfire in his face. And I just hate watching drop shots backfire.

GO Davo!

Ever wonder why Davydenko isn’t so popular in Australia? It’s the name. A little word of advice to Koyla – drop the “ydenko” and tell the Aussies to call you “Davo”, we’ll loveya. 

 

But seriously now Murray, sif kick Federer out and then lose to Davo. And Giles-Beautiful-Eyes-Simon, *almost*, you make all of us underdogs proud. 

 

Djoker v Davo it is! 

 

And I can’t believe Federer is still down for that exho in Malaysia. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! After all of Borg’s snide little “predictions” this year, I can’t believe Federer still wants to play nice. If I were him, I’d suggest a few places for Borg to stick his tennis racquet the next time he feels an urge to make a few predictions, but then I’m not as big as the Fed.

What’s Hot and what’s Not

What’s Hot?

Zvonareva: a friend of mine who doesn’t follow WTA tennis asked me who qualified for the year end championships last week, and I named 7 easily off the top of my head. The one I needed to think hard to remember was Zvonareva, who’s also been the most unstoppable this week, winning against Jankovic, Dementieva, Ivanovic, all of whom she has had losing H2Hs to. 

 

What’s Not?

I thought Ana Ivanovic’s troubles were over when she beat Zvonareva a couple of weeks ago in Austria. Clearly I was wrong. Having won none of her matches, this week, she pulled out, citing illness. Not to mention she’s got my favourite ATP eye-candy in her box. Not hot Ana, NOT. HOT.

 

What’s Hot? 

Venus Williams, beating, no, thrashing, no… 3 sets over your own sister can’t be counted as a thrashing can it? I don’t get Serena, she completely blitzed through her match against Safina, but looks downright confused in her match against Venus. In any case, Venus Williams is a total anomaly to me, she can play mediocre tennis for the most part of the year, or just simply not bother with the minor tournaments, and just turn it on for the majors ones. So glad she decided to play the YEC this year. 

 

What’s Not? 

I love Jankovic. I really do. But whatever she might say, she doesn’t “deserve” to be the year end No 1. I know the age-old argument is that it’s not necessarily about the majors, it’s also about consistency throughout the year. Tell that to someone who cares. I know Jankovic has had an amazing winning streak since the US Open, and certain those back up her claim to the Year End No 1, but without a grand slam win, there is just little legitimacy. She at least needed to win in Doha this week to substantiate her No 1, and kudos to her for making it to the semifinals, the last set against Venus, I’m aware, took an hour. And yes, I’m aware also that she had 5 chances to break back in the deciding set. A loss to Venus can’t be seen as bad loss, since Venus, despite being ranked lower, is clearly the best in the business, along with her sis. But Jankovic is the no 1, and we require our no 1s to be better than that. Again, the point is, she fell short, and it didn’t seem to matter, not rankingwise anyway. Well it does, as it should.

 

What’s Hot?

“We’re not dating”, replied Federer with a chuckle, as he was asked about Nadal’s absence. I don’t know about you, but I really floved this air of defiance emanating from Federer this year. This thought bubble visible above his head sometimes that just spells “O.H. Y.E.A.H?” as he serves up an ace, or smilingly retorts in a presscon. Don’t get me wrong, Federer’s the epitome of a class act, but sometimes, it’ll be nice to see him tell the media to stick it, not in those words, but “we’re not dating” is probably as catty as the Fed is going to get. 

 

What’s Not?

Dementieva: if I were that hot, I’d just walk around naked. Or dressed top to toe in armani. Classy ain’t I? But seriously, the girl has so much undiscovered potential fashionwise. 

 

 

What’s Hot?

The ATP Mafia

 

First words that come to mind when I say

Roger: the God Father, no, just God. Period.

Dojokovic: the Sulky Second Guy (in a shiny suit)

Andy Murray: going to his first prom

Davydenko: needs hair

Tsonga: suspicious hand in pocket

Simon: *sighs dreamily*

Del Potro: unibrow, ousted mafia guy

Andy Roddick: latest victim

 

What’s Not

The ATP Mafia Gone Wrong

 

Seriously, the suits, the shiny, wrongly coloured, badly fitted suits! Poor Simon looks tiny. Del Potro looks like a tall poppy. Federer and Murray clearly own the house. Djokovic needs to relax with the buttons. And the doubles players need to be a little more than background accessories. 

Not hot. Not hot at all. 

 

 

 

Other Hot Pots of the Week

1. Roger in warm fuzzies, Mirka with flowers

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2. Simon’s eyes. *dreamy sighs*

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3. Tsonga: “The Year of Living Dangerously”, *elicits more dreamy sighs*

(The man clearly knows how to dress himself, thumbs up for the outfit.) 

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4.   More of Roger.

Key words: the chatterbox, dashing in suits, nice hair, nice skin, nice smile, cleanly shaven. Way to goo Fed. Nice to see a bit of love between him and Djokovic, this whole persona grudge thing between the two is most likely a figure of fangirly imagination. At least until Djokovic’s next outrageous comment. 

 

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Don’t know if it’s hot or not….

Verdasco in Ana’s box. Verdasco’s hot. But is he still hot in Ana’s box? One pissed off, jealous, catty, bitchy lady right here. I mean, the eyes. The hair. The tan. Seriously. Can’t even form a coherent sentence.

 

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