Monthly Archives: May 17, 2021

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal lost in the semifinals at Indian Wells by the same lopsided score.

Two matches with identical scores: 6-3, 6-2, and the losers were the number one and two ranked players in the world. At least Rafael Nadal had an excuse. He played tough three set matches against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and James Blake his last two times out, and here he was playing the number three player in the world – Novak Djokovic – in the first semifinal at Indian Wells.

Nadal said he felt slow on the court and it showed. A number of times Djokovic’s deep shots bounced up and Nadal couldn’t control them. That’s not something you see every day.

Roger Federer had a tiny excuse. His quarterfinal match was a walkover because Tommy Haas developed a sinus infection and dropped out of the tournament. That may have affected his rhythm:

Federer’s semifinal opponent was Mardy Fish, though, and Federer had given up exactly one set in five previous matches with him. Federer looked terrible out there. He couldn’t keep his forehand in the court, he didn’t serve well, and he couldn’t do much with his backhand either.

Not that Fish is chopped liver, of course, and Federer went to great pains to point that out when a journalist mentioned Fish’s current ranking of 98:

It’s not like he’s been 98 for the first time in his life [and] he just made a career breakthrough breaking into the top100. The guy has been top 20 before, and he’s had big matches here…Let’s not talk about 98 in the world. We know he’s way better than that.

Federer is right, Fish was ranked as high as 17 and last February he was ranked 22 before he missed time with an injury. But Federer was pretty snarly in his response and that belied the calm he likes to project after a loss. Maybe he looked at the stat sheet and saw that Fish got only 34% of his first serves in and still managed to beat him handily.

It looks to me like the wheels are coming off Federer’s reign even if the players don’t agree. When someone asked Fish if players view Federer differently now that he’s having a tough time winning tournaments, he dismissed the thought:

We just kind of laugh at it. We just think it’s kind of a joke. He’s only played two tournaments. Semifinals (at the Australian Open) while he had mono is pretty good.

I don’t believe it. Federer didn’t used to lose this kind of match and as far as I can tell, he hasn’t lost a match 6-3, 6-2, since January 2003. One person, for sure, who’s licking his lips is Djokovic.

Nadal won this tournament last year and after Miami, he has to defend almost the entire clay court season and a final at Wimbledon. Djokovic reached the semifinals at the French Open and Wimbledon last year so it’s entirely likely that he’ll be breathing down Nadal’s neck by summertime. Djokovic could be the one to unseat Nadal at Roland Garros, not Federer, the way things are going.

How did Fish beat three top ten players at Indian Wells? By being the aggressor. At the first opportunity, he hit the ball hard to one corner or the other. He’s been going for shots before his opponent has and, according to Fish, his opponents were not comfortable with that:

They all defend really well but the way their bank accounts have grown is because they’re aggressive and they’re the aggressor. When I’m the aggressor, I’m not sure they like that as much.

Someone at Fish’s postmatch media session pointed out that the Indian Wells trophy has a whale on it in honor of the corporate sponsor Pacific Life, whose symbol is an airborne whale. A fish trophy for a Fish. How cool is that?

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 234 user reviews.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal lost in the semifinals at Indian Wells by the same lopsided score.

Two matches with identical scores: 6-2, 6-3, and the losers were the number one and two ranked players in the world. At least Rafael Nadal had an excuse. He played tough three set matches against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and James Blake his last two times out, and here he was playing the number three player in the world – Novak Djokovic – in the first semifinal at Indian Wells.

Nadal said he felt slow on the court and it showed. A number of times Djokovic’s deep shots bounced up and Nadal couldn’t control them. That’s not something you see every day.

Roger Federer had a tiny excuse. His quarterfinal match was a walkover because Tommy Haas developed a sinus infection and dropped out of the tournament. That may have affected his rhythm:

Federer’s semifinal opponent was Mardy Fish, though, and Federer had given up exactly one set in five previous matches with him. Federer looked terrible out there. He couldn’t keep his forehand in the court, he didn’t serve well, and he couldn’t do much with his backhand either.

Not that Fish is chopped liver, of course, and Federer went to great pains to point that out when a journalist mentioned Fish’s current ranking of 98:

It’s not like he’s been 98 for the first time in his life [and] he just made a career breakthrough breaking into the top100. The guy has been top 20 before, and he’s had big matches here…Let’s not talk about 98 in the world. We know he’s way better than that.

Federer is right, Fish was ranked as high as 17 and last February he was ranked 22 before he missed time with an injury. But Federer was pretty snarly in his response and that belied the calm he likes to project after a loss. Maybe he looked at the stat sheet and saw that Fish got only 34% of his first serves in and still managed to beat him handily.

It looks to me like the wheels are coming off Federer’s reign even if the players don’t agree. When someone asked Fish if players view Federer differently now that he’s having a tough time winning tournaments, he dismissed the thought:

We just kind of laugh at it. We just think it’s kind of a joke. He’s only played two tournaments. Semifinals (at the Australian Open) while he had mono is pretty good.

I don’t believe it. Federer didn’t used to lose this kind of match and as far as I can tell, he hasn’t lost a match 6-3, 6-2, since January 2003. One person, for sure, who’s licking his lips is Djokovic.

Nadal won this tournament last year and after Miami, he has to defend almost the entire clay court season and a final at Wimbledon. Djokovic reached the semifinals at the French Open and Wimbledon last year so it’s entirely likely that he’ll be breathing down Nadal’s neck by summertime. Djokovic could be the one to unseat Nadal at Roland Garros, not Federer, the way things are going.

How did Fish beat three top ten players at Indian Wells? By being the aggressor. At the first opportunity, he hit the ball hard to one corner or the other. He’s been going for shots before his opponent has and, according to Fish, his opponents were not comfortable with that:

They all defend really well but the way their bank accounts have grown is because they’re aggressive and they’re the aggressor. When I’m the aggressor, I’m not sure they like that as much.

Someone at Fish’s postmatch media session pointed out that the Indian Wells trophy has a whale on it in honor of the corporate sponsor Pacific Life, whose symbol is an airborne whale. A fish trophy for a Fish. How cool is that?

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 170 user reviews.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal lost in the semifinals at Indian Wells by the same lopsided score.

Two matches with identical scores: 6-2, 6-3, and the losers were the number one and two ranked players in the world. At least Rafael Nadal had an excuse. He played tough three set matches against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and James Blake his last two times out, and here he was playing the number three player in the world – Novak Djokovic – in the first semifinal at Indian Wells.

Nadal said he felt slow on the court and it showed. A number of times Djokovic’s deep shots bounced up and Nadal couldn’t control them. That’s not something you see every day.

Roger Federer had a tiny excuse. His quarterfinal match was a walkover because Tommy Haas developed a sinus infection and dropped out of the tournament. That may have affected his rhythm:

Federer’s semifinal opponent was Mardy Fish, though, and Federer had given up exactly one set in five previous matches with him. Federer looked terrible out there. He couldn’t keep his forehand in the court, he didn’t serve well, and he couldn’t do much with his backhand either.

Not that Fish is chopped liver, of course, and Federer went to great pains to point that out when a journalist mentioned Fish’s current ranking of 98:

It’s not like he’s been 98 for the first time in his life [and] he just made a career breakthrough breaking into the top100. The guy has been top 20 before, and he’s had big matches here…Let’s not talk about 98 in the world. We know he’s way better than that.

Federer is right, Fish was ranked as high as 17 and last February he was ranked 22 before he missed time with an injury. But Federer was pretty snarly in his response and that belied the calm he likes to project after a loss. Maybe he looked at the stat sheet and saw that Fish got only 34% of his first serves in and still managed to beat him handily.

It looks to me like the wheels are coming off Federer’s reign even if the players don’t agree. When someone asked Fish if players view Federer differently now that he’s having a tough time winning tournaments, he dismissed the thought:

We just kind of laugh at it. We just think it’s kind of a joke. He’s only played two tournaments. Semifinals (at the Australian Open) while he had mono is pretty good.

I don’t believe it. Federer didn’t used to lose this kind of match and as far as I can tell, he hasn’t lost a match 6-3, 6-2, since January 2003. One person, for sure, who’s licking his lips is Djokovic.

Nadal won this tournament last year and after Miami, he has to defend almost the entire clay court season and a final at Wimbledon. Djokovic reached the semifinals at the French Open and Wimbledon last year so it’s entirely likely that he’ll be breathing down Nadal’s neck by summertime. Djokovic could be the one to unseat Nadal at Roland Garros, not Federer, the way things are going.

How did Fish beat three top ten players at Indian Wells? By being the aggressor. At the first opportunity, he hit the ball hard to one corner or the other. He’s been going for shots before his opponent has and, according to Fish, his opponents were not comfortable with that:

They all defend really well but the way their bank accounts have grown is because they’re aggressive and they’re the aggressor. When I’m the aggressor, I’m not sure they like that as much.

Someone at Fish’s postmatch media session pointed out that the Indian Wells trophy has a whale on it in honor of the corporate sponsor Pacific Life, whose symbol is an airborne whale. A fish trophy for a Fish. How cool is that?

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 202 user reviews.

I’ll write about the women’s semifinals tomorrow morning but here are a few quick hits to tide you over.

Fishing

Whoa, Mardy Fish took out David Nalbandian in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(4). Earlier in the week Fish said he changed his attitude towards tiebreakers – previously he was content just to get to a tiebreaker and now he’s trying to be more aggressive and focus on getting his first serve in. I guess it’s working.

I’m going to concentrate on the women today so I won’t say much, but I did watch Fish’s match from the Media Center here at Indian Wells while I was pecking away. Two things: 1. Fish beat Nalbandian by serving well and attacking the net. 2. This is Roger Federer’s lucky day: Tommy Haas dropped out of the tournament due to a sinus infection so Federer got a pass to the semifinals, and now he’ll face Fish instead of Nalbandian who beat him at both the Madrid and Paris Masters events last fall. Wanna bet Federer was watching this match with great interest?

Freud

Ana Ivanovic is surprisingly well read in the field of psychology. She’s currently reading a book by Freudian psychoanalyst Karen Horney and she ably explained how her understanding of psychology helped her tennis game. When someone asked Maria Sharapova about Freud, however, this was her response: “I don’t know who that is?”

A few years ago I was in the same media interview room when someone asked Roger Federer a question about Freud. He didn’t know who Freud was either. When someone explained that he was a psychologist, Federer said, “Nope, never needed him.”

Gambling

I tried to click through to an article about Andy Murray that I picked up through a google alert but the site was blocked by the server here on site. Its turns out that the article was on a betting website and all betting sites are blocked by the server.

You know, I’ve been wondering: if the U.S. decides to legalize offshore gambling and I get an account on a betting site so I can watch streaming video, will the ATP and WTA find out about it and refuse to give me media credentials? I ask because ATP player Federico Luzzi was suspended for six months and his agent, Norman Canter, mentioned that Luzzi might sue the gambling site he bet on because they divulged private information to the ATP.

I can see the ATP doing background checks on applicants for media credentials. Clearly they have a working relationship with the betting sites because they were able to get Luzzi’s records. Damn, and I was looking forward to getting access to that streaming video. I’ll have to get a beard – a term for someone who stands in for someone else – and get my beard to open an account in his or her name so I can use it. Don’t tell anyone.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 263 user reviews.

Rafael Nadal outlasts James Blake and Federer gets a free pass to the semifinals.

032108-james-blake-mask.jpg

James Blake came out firing in his quarterfinal match with Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells last night and the home crowd was delighted. Everyone screamed when he hit a rocket return in the second game that gave him three break points. Nadal followed that up with an error and Blake had his break to go up 2-0, but the rest of the set was very close: Blake hit the ball as hard as he could and Nadal returned it just as hard.

Until, that is, Blake made a mental mistake that cost him the set. He was serving at 5-5 when he stopped in mid-rally to challenge a call on break point. You can’t take a chance like that unless the ball looks like it’s taking off for the moon because you lose the game if you’re wrong. The ball hadn’t taken off anywhere, it had landed on the line and now Nadal served for the set. Blake got three break points in the next game but he hit five straight errors and Nadal was up, one set to none.

The obvious complement to Blake’s power baseline game is a strong net game, particularly because his speed gets him to the net so quickly. He’s not a great vollyer but it did get him through the second set. Blake came out firing again and hit a beautiful cut volley in the second game of the set to go up 2-0. Serving for the set at 5-3, Blake hit a lunging backhand volley off a searing Nadal passing shot for set point. On the next point, Nadal hit a drop shot that looked like it was miles away from Blake, but Blake covered the territory with room the spare and hit a winner down the line. See what I mean by quickness? The match was now even at one set each.

The third set was more of the same, but long about the middle of the set, Blake started missing and that’s one of the problems with his style of play. It’s very difficult to maintain over the course of an entire match because, sooner or later, if you aim for the lines, you start missing. It’s probably the main reason he has such an awful record in five set matches. I don’t think he should change his game, obviously it suits his personality and skills. He said as much after the match:

I’ve heard a million times so-called tennis insiders telling me to be more cautious. I’ve heard it on TV, I’ve heard it in papers, and it’s almost laughable to me, because they honestly would never be talking about me if I played that game, because I’d be retired by now.

This so-called tennis insider never told him to be more cautious, though I may have suggested developing a secondary strategy when his power game isn’t working – specifically, attacking the net. But what I want to know is this: when he started losing it in the third set, did he lose focus or was he getting tired?

I always assumed that Blake was in superb condition but last night, he looked like he tired out. Nadal broke him to go up 5-3 in the set and then the wheels came off. He had trouble keeping the ball in the court. Nadal was on his way to the semifinals with a 7-5, 3-5, 6-3 victory.

That has been the revelation of this tournament for me: Nadal’s deep reservoir of composure. He is the epitome of focus. He outlasted a barrage of shots, volleys, and on court celebrations from Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, then won the last five games in the third set to win the match and he did it again today. Roger Federer is the other player who compares to Nadal in that regard but I don’t think his composure compares to Nadal’s when he’s behind in the score.

I hope Nadal’s injuries don’t shorten his career because I’m looking forward to watching him for many more years. As for Blake, clearly you lose focus when you get tired and his high power game would tire anyone out. A little more treadmill work should help but how do you improve focus? It helps to feel supremely confident but you can practice it. What do you think Nadal’s incessant ball-bouncing and butt-picking is about? It’s his way of focusing in and maintaining his rhythm regardless of what’s going on around him.

I don’t want Blake to slow down his game but he could learn something from Nadal by slowing down and gathering himself before each point. Besides, the rest would do him good.

Someone just announced in the Media Center that Tommy Haas has withdrawn from the tournament with a sinus infection. Big groan from everyone here. A sinus infection? Haas battles through three shoulder surgeries and he can’t play because he has a sinus infection? That means Federer gets a free pass to the semifinals and there he could face his latest nemesis, David Nalbandian. Nalbandian has beaten Federer in the last two Masters Series events. Will it be three in a row? Stay tuned.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 180 user reviews.