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Good day everyone. The Davis Cup final is around the corner but today we have the last ATP event of the season: the Tennis Masters Cup final between Roger Federer and David Ferrer. Six months ago I did not expect to utter those words. David Ferrer? But he’s been on fire. The only player hotter was David Nalbandian who won the last two Masters Series events of the year after failing to get past a quarterfinal in the previous nine months.

Federer has stumbled into the year end championships here in Shanghai: two straight losses to Nalbandian, an early loss here to Fernando Gonzalez and consecutive losses for the first time in four years. He found his game against Andy Roddick, however. He looked like his old silky smooth self spinning out slices and reflex volleys like the best in the game.

So sit back and enjoy as the energizer bunny Ferrer tries to run the calm and cool Mr. Federer off the court. Please leave comments and we’ll include you in the conversation.

Nina Pat, whaddya think, Ferrer is 0-7 against Federer. Can he beat him today?

Pat Well, stranger things may have happened I suppose, Ferrer did manage to get a set off Roger in Hamburg this year. But Roger looked so sharp last night against Nadal, what a bell-ringer that was. So Ferrer is going to have to run like crazy, just for starters.

Nina Wow, I didn’t realize Roger won 20 out of 21 points in the match with Nadal yesterday. I have to go with Patrick, I don’t see any way. Having said that, if Roger’s stats drop just a bit and David can get a break, he has a chance. If the sets go to a tiebreaker with the way Roger is serving, it goes to Roger.

Ferrer 1-0

Pat There was a streak there early in the second where I think Roger won something like eleven straight points? Ferrer had a good hold in the first game, interesting Fed is so eager to challenge and yet the one he needed he did not challenge. Oh well. And the things Ferrer had to do to win the last point, up one line and then way over to the other, that is just too high a level to maintain though. Great game for Ferrer.

Nina This is something we haven’t talked about enough this week: the surface. This has historically been faster than an ice skating rink and the clay court players used to complain about it but you don’t hear the Spanish players complainingthis week and that’s one reason David is here. Remember, by the way, that players have three challenges here per set, not the usual two.

Federer 1-1

Nina Holy crap, they’re right! David is number one in three of the four return categories in the ATP stats. Wow.

Ferrer 1-2 (Federer breaks Ferrer)

Nina That game explains just how perfectly David has to play to beat Federer. No loose ground strokes into the net. He just can’t afford it.

Pat You’re reading stats now too? God, how many screens do you have open, Nina? lol Ferrer did not stick that volley and his game went off from there, he is feeling the pressure already and a few errors creeping in.

Ferrer 1-4 (Federer breaks Ferrer)

Nina Uh oh, this is the worst scenario imaginable. Roger serves lights out and David can’t keep his shots in the court. By the way, I have six windows open. I feel like I’m at a military command post. Pat, is it’s David’s incompetence or Roger’s transcendence?

Federer 6-2

Nina Okay, the match isn’t enthralling us so we have to go on to other subjects. I agree with the “calm” theory – the idea that hitting the ball in a relaxed manner is a good thing to develop. Pete Sampras had the same relaxed manner and he played a long time, Agassi had very efficient strokes. It does two things: it gives you a long career and it enable you to be relaxed in very stressful match situations – in particular in slams, and it means you can perform better.

Pat Whoops, sorry about not keeping up there. You are at a military command post, didn’t we tell you we’d drafted you, Nina? haha Being relaxed is vital, but how does a player develop that except by gaining confidence and that comes with more wins. I know when I am serving I tell myself early on to keep my shoulder girdle loose and relaxed, just by putting a moment’s concentration in that area. It helps. Then the trick becomes, how do you achieve that state MOST of the time you are on a court.

Second Set
Ferrer 2-6, 1-0

Nina Look at it this way: Filippo Volandri’s serve is awful but how can he change it now? If you don’t learn relaxed strokes from the get go, you’re not gonna get it after five years on the tour. Having said that, the players we’re talking about are hard court players. I’m trying to think of a graceful relaxed clay court player. Strangely enough I’d have to say Borg. He had the extreme grip and his calmness was skin deep but he was efficient. Can you think of someone else?

Federer 6-2, 2-1

Pat Wow, Federer’s defending really well. Ferrer hit two good shots right up the line, the first time he did not come in and lost the point, the second time he did come in and Roger passed him with the backhand up the line. What’s a boy to do? Love those legs, David. Maybe you’ll let me pet them, if I’m good. How about Thomas Muster, I know they consider him one of the grinders, but he seemed like a guy who looked relaxed enough, played within himself. Seems like they have to be tremendously fit though, and Muster was.

Ferrer 2-6, 3-2

Nina I wonder if Andy Roddick gets embarrassed when Lacoste shows that panning crotch shot in the middle of their ad for him (for people watching this on ESPN2 (US)). Reminds me of the beer ad that overdubbed the sound of a horse to suggest something about size. My attention is slowly getting back to the game. Two solid holds by David and the match is evening out. David still isn’t getting any long points though and until he does, Roger has the upper hand.

Ferrer 2-6, 3-4 (Federer breaks Ferrer)

Pat You cannot be serious, Nina, Roddick probably LOVES that commercial. I think I know the scene you mean, pretty racy if it’s the one I think you mean. I think Roddick should sign on with Jockey, what with all that crotch-grabbing he does. It’s a nervous thing I figure, the front end version of the Nadal Butt Pick. Someone with a camera should follow players around and put together a reel of their little tics. We could call it that: My Little Tics.

Federer 6-2, 5-3

Nina David got what he wanted – long points. Two backhands into the net – one of them a volley – and that was enough to lose the break. Yeah, I don’t understand why Roddick doesn’t get lampooned just as much for his crotch grabbing as Nadal does for wedgie diving. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. David has to be perfect today and he is not. Strategically, Roger is feeding him a steady diet of slices and David can’t generate any depth or speed, or even consistency, off the low ball. By the way, luckily for David, this is a best of five final. One other thing, that slick backhand passing shot shows another thing he’s doing: hitting the ball very early. That’s how you deal with speedies like David.

Ferrer 2-6, 3-6 (Federer breaks Ferrer to win the second set and is now two sets up)

Pat I liked that Ferrer tried to hang with him early in the set, but then the gap opened up again. I am thinking back to the women’s final a week ago, and how nerve wracking that was to watch. I could use a little frayed nerves right now. It would liven things up.

Third Set

Federer 6-2, 6-3, 1-0

Nina How many deuces in the last game of the second set, a ton. Ferrer is getting better and better but he’s still only just hanging in there. And now he’s not making his bread and butter shots – an easy passing shot into the net. The only hope we have is the length of the match. Three sets is a long time to go without a letdown. And here we see a little one as David gets three break points but he still can’t convert.

Pat I was hopeful too when Ferrer had that break point in the opening game. Oh well. Frankly I am glad this won’t be going to five sets, don’t think we could take it, could we? Do you think Roger will come out against Sampras this coming week and try to blow him away or will it be polite?

Ferrer 2-6, 3-6, 1-3 (Federer breaks Ferrer)

Nina Oh noooo, Roger is the scooter and the energizer bunny today. I can’t believe he ran all the way to one corner then all the way back to the other corner then hit a passing shot that landed in a such a small window that David couldn’t handle it. I’d have to say it really is over now. By the way, I don’t like the three challenges per set. It begins to slow the game down too much. It’s moving towards US football where replays take forever. Whaddya you think about three challenges Pat?

Ferrer 2-6, 3-6, 2-4

Pat I don’t have a firm opinion yet on the three challenges. I want to see it play out a bit more. Some matches seem to run out of challenges, and that is not good. Maybe the powers that be should just make the system workable for any close call, but I suppose they feel that would take some of the strategy suspense away from the game.

Nina One other thing about three challenges: the more challenges you have, the less strategical you have to be. You don’t have to worry as much about when you can use them.

Pat That’s true, I think overall the goal should be: what can we do to make the game more compelling? So maybe they should stick to two per set. I liked how Federer used a lot of backhand slice cross court to create things, then he hits the flatter backhand up the line for the winner.

Federer 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 Federer wins his fourth straight Tennis Masters Cup.

Nina We’ve all been looking at the downside of Roger Federer’s career and even though I think that day is here, he’s still going to win at least a few slams for the next few years and how would you like that for the downside of your career?

Pat I think we should do something about that BNP Paribas baby commercial. Any ideas? Serve him up? A roasting perhaps? Turn him into a coach? Ferrer is speaking now, you know his English will improve a lot ’cause I think he is going to get interviewed a few more times next year. Speaking of next year, I quite concur with Pat Mc’s comment about Roger wanting to send a major message to the field for next year. Lately we have started to doubt Da Man, but no doubts today.

Nina The only way we’ll get rid of the BNP Paribas baby is to improve tennis’s popularity. I might sound obnoxious but I’m happy we don’t have to suffer through ten million ads for lite beer – a product that it slightly better than water and requires endless silly commercials to try and make it interesting. On the other hand, it might be nice if we had some tennis stars that appealed to the beer crowd instead of the Mercedes crowd. Then we’d get some damn viewers!

Pat Actually Corona used to have some great, racy beer commercials, they have cut them back a bit now. Lite beer I would not want for tennis, but Corona would work. I thought the American Express ones of Roddick last year were terrific and funny. Maybe others will join the fray.


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1830’s: Louis Daguerre and several others invent the process known as photography. We could now freeze time and hold the portrait of a loved one in our hand.
1844: Samuel Morse sends the first message by telegraph from Annapolis Junction (near Baltimore) to Washington. We could now send a message instantaneously.
1869: The last spike is driven as the Union Pacific tracks joined the Central Pacific Railroad to create the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. We could now travel from east to west in six days instead of three months.
1877: Leland Stanford, one of the four principals in the transcontinental railroad, pays Edweard Muybridge to take images of his celebrated trotter Occident to see if the horse ever lifted all four hooves at once. Muybridge’s system of tripwires and fast shutters gave us the stop motion images that pre-dated the the modern world of movies and television.
1891: Stanford founds Stanford University on the former site of his horse farm. Stanford researchers go on to start a number of pioneering Silicon Valley companies and host part of the ARPANET, the predecessor to the internet.

(Timeline courtesy of Motion Studies: Time, Space and Edward Muybridge, a fantastic investigation into time-shifting and the origins of cinema and the internet by Rebecca Solnit.)

2007: Please join us as we live blog the tape delayed final of the WTA Championships which took place earlier today in Madrid. Join Pat and me as we re-crown the champion in our own good time using our own version of time-shifting, television and the internet. Please join in by leaving comments so we can include you in the broadcast.

Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova are our finalists and one of those is a big surprise. Sharapova has played only 49 matches this year due to recurring shoulder problems. There’s wisdom in resting before the championships. Henin missed the last two months of the season last year’s season with a knee injury then turned up at the championships and won it handily.

Pat: Good afternoon everyone, we are nearly ready to start. I really like Sharapova’s chances today, I think it is important for her to win this match, more so than for Justine. I think Maria has more to prove today. She will be ready. Three sets do you think?

Nina: The way Maria is serving, three sets is a good guess. But I’m going with Justine. Not to be a stathead or anything but Justine is 5-2 lifetime against Maria and Justine played the fall indoor season whereas Maria did not.

Pat: I did not check their head to head, really, Justine is 5-2, eh?

Sharapova 1-1

Nina: Yep, and I agree with Tracy Austin: Justine is much more athletic. Any fashion comments by the way :0)

Henin: 2-1 (Henin breaks)

Pat: So Justine draws first blood with the break. She’s returning well, and I like how Maria moved into net even though she chipped the volley wide for the break.

Sharapova 2-2 (Sharapova breaks back)

Nina: Justine can move Maria around but she can’t win without a strong first serve. As Justine’s serve goes, her chances will follow. Not because she has a big serve, she doesn’t, but she can’t dictate a point with a second serve.

Sharapova 4-3

Nina: I suppose I agree that this event is more grueling than a two week grand slam event because it’s more compressed and you play more top players. But the conditions are much easier. There is nowhere near the pressure because the event has not been a big event on the calendar for some time. Not that many people turn up. Also, it’s round robin. If you lose a match, you’re o.k. You can play another day.

Pat: Somehow this week does not strike me as grueling for the players. The top players had way too easy a time. Maybe they will make up for that today, huh? Wow, how often do we see Justine netting two backhands in a row? That was an intense game 7. This is good stuff, wonder who will blink first?

Henin 4-4

Nina: Justine was the Backhand That Couldn’t for a while there. She almost blinked but the battle continues and I am so happy that this is a tough, competitive match. We’re due. By the way, Michael Joyce is beginning to look like Yuri Sharapov’s brother. They’ve been spending too much time together!

Sharapova 5-4

Pat: Hey, Michael is probably the Second Father Figure by now, you wonder how the guy does it(?!) We need a slam bang match after this week, these two girls have a lot of sins to atone for, if you will.

Sharapova 6-5

Nina: Yep, it’s Maria, Michael and Yuri – a trinity in it’s own right. I don’t understand why they don’t just give Michael his due and call him coach. As for the game, I’ve missed Maria smashing the ball for the past few months, all year long in fact. You can see how hard she hits the ball, Justine barely has time to get halfway to the net. Wow, what a fantastic Maria backhand on the deep corner for game point and another one to win the game.

Pat: Well Nina, she certainly smashed that backhand up the line! You’d have thought Maria had match point on that the way she reacted. Great stuff! Tiriac can come out of the shadows now and feel proud of his brood.

Sharapova 7-5 (breaks Henin, wins first set)

Nina: What was it, four double faults and how many second serves for Justine? Eight set points for Maria and I lost track of the number of deuces – wait, ten deuces. What a game! It was a combination of brilliant shots and ineptitude. If Maria had played the fall indoor season, she’d probably be up a break in the second set by now, she’d never let eight set points go by without putting the game away. I’m wondering if conditioning will be an issue for her in the second and (possibly) third set.

Okay, Pat, so what caused Justine’s problems: the pressure of expectations or ongoing problems with her serve? Love the trophies by the way but that cheap Rubbermaid trophy stand kinda takes away from the beauty and grandeur of the event.

Sharapova 7-5, 2-1

Pat: I think the pressure got to Justine there on her serve, but it got to Maria too, letting all those set points go by!

We’ve got a great one going, and I like Maria’s nerve fighting to hold serve there in the second set first game. Nice work, Justine had chances but Maria was there to slam the door.

Henin 5-7, 2-2

Nina: As close as the match is and as close as I think it will be, I predict that if and when Justine gets some firs serves in and Maria wilts just the slightest bit, Justine will pull it out. This match does make me wonder, though, how Maria has lost so many matches to Justine. Also, I wonder if her shoulder really is healed. And, while I’m at it, one more question: how much havoc can Lindsay Davenport wreak at the Australian Open. I am so looking forward to the Australian Open for lots of reasons

Sharapova 7-5, 3-2

Pat: That’s a big if, Nina, and also Justine has made a very high number of errors for her. So if her serve isn’t working right, and the errors are too many, I think her chances of winning are slight. I don’t think Maria will wilt, she took care of things when she had to so far.

Henin 5-7, 3-3

Nina: Right about now, Pat, you are definitely looking prophetic. Notice that little bit of star power there? Sharapova threw up her arms and started to move to the service line as if to say that Henin’s serve was an obvious fault and that moved the chair umpire to overrule a good serve and make it a fault. I don’t think that would have happened if the 100th ranked player on tour pulled that. That serve could have won Justine the game a few points earlier.

Pat: I did not notice that, but I get caught between typing/watching, which is why I am recording the TV also so I can see the match later.

Sharapova 5-7, 4-5 (Henin breaks Sharapova)

Pat: Ooohh, maybe I spoke too soon Nina, Justine just got her break. Let’s see how Maria responds, if she can.

Nina: Yeah, I can’t wait for infallible voice recognition software so I don’t have to type. Whoa, that inside out forehand return by Henin was over the top. The woman has, um, cojones. It’s the only way she’s gonna get anywhere today because Sharapova is not losing her serve easily. And that could be the shot of the second set because Sharapova followed it up with a double fault. Those small things can make a huge difference. Henin breaks Sharapova to go up 5-4.

Sharapova 5-7, 5-6 (Henin breaks Sharapova)

Nina: Can we say turning point :0) Three games and three breaks but Justine is starting to get some first serves in and Sharapova has played about as well as she can. I could, of course, be very wrong but either way, I love these marathon games. Three break points for Justine before she finally got the break. Definitely one of the best matches of the year. I’m scratching my head to think of another one. Pat, help me out – other good matches this year?

Henin 5-7, 7-5

Pat: Well, my tape is filled! This is going to be a very looonnnnggg match, since Justine is about to hold at luv it looks like, and off we go into a third set.

These two are going to interfere with our Shanghai men, who are about to come on Tennis Channel at 5 p.m. west coast time. Quel horreur! I think we should stay with the women though, what do you say? Can they make a match of it? lol

Henin 5-7, 7-5, 1-1

Nina: Time to get a DVR Pat. A match longer than three hours for a women’s championship, how cool is that? We haven’t had a competitive grand slam final all year. Marion Bartoli got five games off Venus Williams at Wimbledon at that was the most competitive slam final of the year.

Sharapova 7-5, 5-7. 1-2 (Henin breaks Sharapova)

Nina: Hi Maria, thanks for joining us but you know the results already :0) (Maria lives in Madrid). You even know the results of the men’s matches! Keep commenting though, we’ll patch you in. In this part of the world, Maria (Sharapova) is indeed looking just the smallest bit tired and that was enough for Henin to break her. What do you think Pat, does Maria come back?

Pat: OK, Justine with the early break in the third. She really wailed on that backhand crosscourt, seems like she’s hitting the ball harder now than in the beginning.

Tracy Austin just uttered the “T” word about Maria, as in “tired.” We shall see.

Where’s that banana??

Sharapova 7-5, 5-7, 3-2

Nina: Maria is hanging in there but it’s sheer will on her part and now she’s called for the trainer. She’s having trouble breathing. It’s something to remember that Madrid is at altitude, all the more amazing that Sharapova has come this far. On the other hand, my guess is that this is a “convenient” time out to get her breath.

Pat: I am feeling whipped, I know how Maria feels. Uhoh, the trainer is out there, we may need more than a banana, huh? (I have a cocktail, nah nah ne nah nah).

You see what these women do? They lead me to drink!

Hi Maria, looks like you guys all got your money’s worth in Madrid today(!)

Sharapova 7-5, 5-7, 3-4 (Henin breaks Sharapova)

Nina: Wow, what a difference a break makes. Maria breaks Justine to get even then give the break right back. Maria doesn’t seem to have quite enough energy to keep up the good serving and that’s critical.(Don’t worry Pat, it’s the men’s doubles from Shanghai, not the singles)

Pat: That was a tired looking double fault from Maria, I don’t know if she can come back Nina. But then she broke Henin in the last game, so who knows?

This is nervewracking. Tennis waterboarding, anyone?

Henin breaks Sharapova to win the title, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3

Nina: Wow, good to the very last drop. A marathon game at the end of the first set and another one here. Five match points and tons of grit from Maria and Justine finally does it. That Justine, she’s a killer and Maria is not far behind. Join us for the Shanghai event and see if it can be anywhere near as exciting as this.

Pat: It really did not turn out to be a battle of “One Serves, the Other Doesn’t.” It really came down to the superior athleticism of Henin, her conditioning and nerves. But Maria is no loser here either, she had a great week, it was a great match for her, considering how little prep/match play she had coming in.

Now the ball is in the men’s court: can they deliver a final as good as this? Whew!


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Good morning everyone. Welcome to the Paris Masters final on this beautiful Sunday morning (or afternoon as it may be). This tournament usually features the second tier of players but now that the ATP is “encouraging” the top players to turn up by promising $1.5 million dollars if they win the most Masters Series points AND play both Madrid and Paris, we have a fantastic title game: David Nalbandian and Rafael Nadal.

Nalbandian has improbably risen from the ashes by winning in Madrid – and beating Rafa along the way and Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – after reaching only one quarterfinal this year.

What are the issues here? Can Nadal and his knees hold up for an entire tournament? Can Nalbandian hit the ball hard and fast enough to take time away from Nadal and WHO is that woman in the spacy silver outfit who looks like she was imported from Las Vegas?

Nina: First off, a quick poll. Who’ll win this match: Nalbandian or Rafa? I’ll fall behind my co-writer Pat Davis (who is here today) in the ATP fantasy tennis game if Nalbandian wins so, of course, I’m all in for Rafa.

Pat: Good morning everyone, are we living yet? God, the things I do for Nalbandian! I did not see that girl in the silver outfit, Nina, but she probably WAS imported from Vegas. The French would love to think they can compete on the Las Vegas front, no?

Nina: Didn’t Paris start it all with the Folies Bergere? Whoa, I knew Andy Roddick was thinking of opting out of Shanghai but it never occurred to me that Nalbandian could end up in Shanghai if Roddick did opt out. Bad news for Federer and his number one ranking.

Nadal 2-1

Nina: Routine holds of serve so far. Rafa seems to be dialed in on his forehand and Nalbadian is serving well. Two things that both players had trouble with in their matches yesterday.

Nadal 3-2

Curious to me that Nalbandian appears to be attacking Rafa’s backhand. Most players attack his forehand because it takes him so long to wind up that extreme topspin forehand stroke.

Nadal 4-3

Pat: Apparently Nalbandian is the first alternate??? So if Roddick decides to pull out of Shanghai, David is in, I presume. That would be something, because if anyone deserves to be in that field, it’s him. Nalbandian earlier had an easy ball at the net and I thought for sure he would go inside out up the line with his forehand, but instead he knocked it to Nadal’s backhand and he was there and ended up winning the point. He is serving well, I like his chances so far.

Nina: Nalbandian is the first alternate if he wins today. How can someone deserve to be in Shanghai if they had only one quarterfinal going into the last three weeks of the year? To me that is not a good thing.

Pat: Nalbandian has beaten much of the field already for Shanghai, he is hot right now and playing good tennis so I’d like to see more of him. I think he could emerge there as the best player of them all, and that would be utterly fantastic. Frankly Roddick may have earned a place based on earlier play in the year, but lately he has come a cropper and I don’t expect him to have much of a good time in Shanghai. But Nalbandian will have to win today apparently.

Nalbandian 5-4 (broke Nadal’s serve)

Nina: Oooh, Rafa was luck Nalby put the ball into the net at 30-30. Nalby is able to get Rafa on the run pretty regularly now and that’ll be the main determinant in this match. Rafa was losing badly to Baghdatis yesterday until he started playing more aggressively but it’s not clear that Nalby will let him play more aggressively. Especially if Rafa hits second serves. And that’s precisely what happened, Nalby winner off a second serve and he gets the first break in the match.

Nina: Wow, Nalbandian got a second serve gift and he certainly made the most of that return! Lovely backhand up the line, he and Murray did lots of that this week off the service return. Now, can David close the deal?

Nalbandian 6-4

Nina: He did indeed close the deal and that sharp angled slice volley duel at the net was fantastic. Nalby is doing exactly what he should be doing: attacking second serves and hitting hard flat shots to the corners. I cannot believe that this guy – who is terrible in important matches and is known to have problems closing out sets – doesn’t seem to be having problems with either of those issues. Whats the explanation for that? Can’t just be a new coach, can it?

Nina: Roddick only played in one fall tournament. His game is well-tailored to playing on indoor hard courts and it seems that he is “saving” himself for Davis Cup. Have you ever heard of anyone skipping the year end championship to play Davis Cup by the way?

Nablandian 1-0 (broke Nadal’s serve)

Nina: Whoa, I looked away for a moment and it was 0-30 on Nadal’s serve. I thought Rafa might have been alright with the slower court but apparently not. Of course, Nalby is playing perfectly. How many unforced errors does he have? Can’t be many.

Nina: By the way, readers, feel free to leave comments and we’ll put you right into the discussion.

Nalbandian 3-0 (broke Nadal’s serve)

Pat: So Nadal was up 40-0 serving, and Nalbandian fought his way back to break! That’s the knife in the heart, that one, 3-0 now. Nalbandian is just feasting on those second serve returns. I notice he is playing nearly on the baseline, Nadal is getting backed behind it.

Pat: I read that Roddick was “saving” himself for Davis Cup, I guess Pat McEnroe should be thrilled, no? If that is what he really wants, then I say he should stub his toe in Shanghai and let Nalbandian into the field. Let him have Davis Cup and Nalbandian can go to Shanghai. Fair enough?

Nalbandian 4-0

Nina: Two breaks in a row for Nalbandian. He’s just dominating. He’s doing what everyone else does to Nadal indoors but he’s just doing that much better. I did say at the beginning of the day that I wasn’t sure Rafa can last through to the end of hard court tournaments. His body seems to break down. Particularly as Rafa has an excellent record in finals historically but is now having trouble in the later stages of hard court tournaments.

Nalbandian 5-0 (broke Nadal)

Nina: Okay, now this is ridiculous. Nalby is looking like Rafa. He retrieved an impossible shot and hit a winner off it.

Pat: Hhmmm, do you smell bagels baking somewhere? I smell bagels in the works. Utterly awesome play from Nalbandian. Roger is watching somewhere and thinking, “I don’t feel so bad now.” The serving (or lack thereof in Nadal’s case) has been the story of the match. And some absolutely wild and crazy angled shots.

Nalbandian wins the match, 6-4, 6-0

Nina: A bagel in the second set. Are you kidding me? I have to go back to my point, Rafa cannot seem to play out in hard court events. What say you Pat? Nalbandian played exceptionally well but Rafa couldn’t get his first serve in and he couldn’t get his forehand deep. Nalby, my god, here’s a guy who’d never had a Masters Series win (except for his Masters Cup win over Federer in 2005) and only had five career titles and now he has two Masters Titles in three weeks? This is absolutely awful of me to say and you can all pile on me but I have to say that I didn’t think to myself – performance enhancing drugs. Awful I know but I’ll forget about that for now and enjoy this fantastic dance performance by these very cool women and men. Why don’t they do that for every title ceremony?

Pat: Nina, we kid you not! I looked at Nadal carefully to see if he showed any signs of knee/leg problems but he seems to be moving ok. Nalbandian just rose mightily to the occasion today. It is somewhat puzzling to me that Nadal does not play better on the hard stuff, although I still find these courts not really very “hard” in the sense of that word. He plays so well on grass that I guess I expect that to translate to other fast surfaces but it doesn’t.

Pat: Do you think this loss was as thorough as Nadal’s to Nalbandian last month?

Nina: Well, if you look at Nadal’s record on hard court this year, he had trouble in Montreal and Cincinnati and left after the fourth round at the U.S. Open clearly having trouble getting around. Quarterfinals at Madrid – I don’t know if that was a worse match than this, the second set today was a dominating turn by Nalby. I’m not sure how well Rafa will be able to do on hard court the rest of his career.

Pat: Performance-enhancing drugs?? Nina, shame on you! (lol) I think we can probably safely say, without fear of contradiction, that Nalby is probably being tested RIGHT NOW as he walks off the court. Still the question would come up, given his amazing run.

Pat: So I take it you really like his chances already at the Australian Open in January? I do too. And somehow I think David will find a way into that draw in Shanghai. I am praying to my tennis gods!

Pat: Nadal’s stats were something like only 18% of points won on second serves? Positively anemic by anyone’s standards and certainly by his. And only 5 winners I think. I’ll go back and compare today’s stats with three weeks ago but this may be the worst of the two drubbings Nalbandian served up.

Nina: The announcers suggested that Nikolay Davydenko might drop out with his elbow problems but I have a hard time seeing Davydenko drop out of anything. I also cannot see the ATP letting Roddick “drop out” of Shanghai. Anyway, whatever happens, it’s been a fascinating tennis season so far and now we have what everyone has been clamoring for since Federer took over the game: a tossup in Shanghai and a real possibility that the Australian Open will be competitive for a change.

Thanks Pat, see you at the Shanghai final (what ungodly hour will that be?).

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 223 user reviews.

Welcome everyone to our live blog of the US Open men’s final.

World number one Roger Federer is in his tenth straight slam final and could win his fourth straight US Open. The numbers just keep piling up and except for a funny string of breaks in the third set of his semifinal match against Nikolay Davydenko, he has looked invincible. Andy Roddick threw everything he had at Federer and still lost in straight sets.

Number three ranked Novak Djokovic is the first Serb to reach a slam final and he’s well on his way to making the Federer-Rafael Nadal twosome a threesome. He got to the semifinals at the French Open and Wimbledon and now he’s in the final. He had to battle through a few slow starts and a marathon or two to get here and he had some breathing problem in his semifinal so it might be a bit much to expect him to win his first slam today. On the other hand, but he was the guy who beat Federer to win the Montreal Masters last month so he’s the best opponent we could have.

Settle in and enjoy.

Nina:

Uh oh, overtime of the Miami/Washington NFL game on CBS. Not only that but with no time on the clock, Washington threw up a Hail Mary that Jason Taylor batted down in the end zone only to see it go into the hands of Washington player Antoine Randle El. Unfortunately for us, that means overtime because Randle El couldn’t find the end zone. So close!!!

Meanwhile, while we wait for football to end and tennis start, did you ever hear of the Heidi game? In 1967, the Jets and the Raiders played a football game and with 65 seconds left in the game, the Raiders scored a quick 14 points to come from behind and win the game. No one saw it though because NBC switched from the game to a presentation of Heidi and they’ve never lived it down so we’re unlikely to get our tennis until the damn game is over!

Pat:

It seems we are waiting on Denver, they just kicked a field goal to win as the clock ran out!! Oy! Guess our boys won’t be waiting much longer in the tunnel to go on court.

You must be getting a different game from CBS ’cause you are in L.A. and I am up in the bay area.

God, I am feeling as nervous as a little porker at a Memphis barbecue! I wonder what the nerves will be out there, I’m feeling as nervous as Djoko is probably. I feel for him. His first Grand Slam final! I don’t want him to stomp my man Roger, but I hope the nerves are at least okay for him. Speaking of porkers, is everyone having a tailgate party out there? Or do tennis folks indulge in such?? Oh, oh, look out, we’re singing God Bless America…

Nina:

Uh oh, Liza Minelli. Does that portend drama on the court? I hope so. I don’t want a straight set yawner like the women’s final.

Pat:

Everyone’s wearing black at this event, how times change. When my boyfriend moved to L.A. in 1990 he was the only guy, beside a few Asians, who ran around in all black. He got lots of S**t for that. Today it’s de riguer for everybody it seems

Federer 1-0

Nina:

Djokovic will be one of the more charismatic number ones if he gets there. He’s perfect for the youtube era with his player imitations. He even has Sharapova in his box!

Federer, 2-1

Pat:

Well Novak looks ok as far as the nerves go, both guys are settling in nicely.

Federer 3-3

Nina:

Federer looks like he’s trying to slam Djokovic off the court. Not the strategy I would take because Djokovic is all power. How would I play Djokovic? A bit of rope-a-dope and good serving. Djokovic is a good mover but not as goos as Federer. What strategy would you use Pat?

Federer 4-3

Pat:

I would want to feel him out a bit more, maybe some of both, that is the power with the finessing. Roger needs to keep those first serves coming. Djoko is serving well, Roger has to find a way to crack his serve.

Federer 5-4

Nina:

Nate just joined us: “djokovic has to be hitting himself for not taking advantage of that opening loose service game…” Yep, and now he coughed up an overhead and went for a big shot out of position. He’s probably a bit nervous. Nate and Mary Carillo disagree with me. They think Fed should take it to Djokovic to keep him from hanging around.

Djokovic breaks Fed, Djokovic 6-5

Pat:

Oh oh, Roger looks a bit tight on that serve and those missed forehands. I like the idea of keeping Djoko running side to side, wear him out. Let’s see if Roger can break back.

Federer breaks Djokovic, Federer 6-6, first set tiebreak

Nina:

Ooooh, Fed is lucky that Djoko finally realized the enormity of what he’s doing. One question though, if Fed wants to hit Djoko off the court, doesn’t he have to get to the net? I don’t think he can hit him off the court from the baseline.

Federer, 7-6

Pat:

Oy vey baby! Can you believe that? Let’s all share in the tightness, shall we??? They’d both get tight, then come back, then get tight again. These guys are going to put me in my grave today, I tell ya! Great stuff. Almost too nervewracking to watch. Is everybody ok out there? LOL

Federer 7-6, 0-1

Nina:

Nate called it a choke and that’s probably not too harsh. But Djoko should take heart that Fed still hasn’t found his game. He’s still hitting tons of errors and he’s giving Djoko time to get his head together. Not a good thing.

Federer 7-6, 1-2

Pat:

I’m surprised Roger did not go after that second serve of Novak’s a little more, I would have thought he would be out there early taking it to him. To his credit Novak has not dropped off the radar. His mom though looks like she’s nibbled past her nails and up to her knuckles about now.

Djokovic breaks Federer and holds serve, Djokovic 6-7, 4-1

Nina:

See why I say he can’t hit with Djoko from the baseline? When Djoko’s forehand is on, it’s just too powerful.

Djokovic, 6-7, 4-2

Pat:

He has to use it judiciously. He can hit with him on the forehand side, I am more worried about Fed’s backhand. I wonder where the higher gear is today

Federer breaks Djokovic, Federer 7-6, 3-4

Nina:

Nate and I think Fed is out of rhythm and he was out of rhythm because he was letting Djoko take it to him from the baseline. However, we may be seeing why Fed doesn’t need a coach let alone our help. He just kept plugging along with his strategy and now it’s paying off.

Federer 7-6, 5-6

Nina:

We’ve hit a lull here but Nate thinks it could be over if Djoko doesn’t do something exceptional soon and I agree with him. That’s the power of Federer. Once he does get into a groove, it’s becomes a metronomic march towards the end result.

7-6, 7-6 Federer

Pat:

Guess Roger was hiding those laser first serves, huh Nate? Scary when he does get it going, it’s just he seemed so la de da there and then suddenly, there he is! Djoko should throw his hands up. But he had his chances. Maybe Federer got a bit of luck too. Now Djoko probably will go away mentally. And yet I still feel Federer hasn’t put all his cards out there yet.

Federer 7-6, 7-6, 3-2

Nina:

Djokovic just let a ball land on the baseline that was good. A rookie mistake indeed and that’s how I thought this would go. Djokovic would play well, which he has, but it’s his first slam final. I’m expecting him to win at least a few slams and possibly overtake Nadal but today, the poor guy is missing just a bit of experience.

Nate: “top-spin’s a pain in the ass, huh djokovich?” I assume you are referring to Fed’s serve.

Federer 7-6, 7-6, 3-2

Pat:

Uh oh, Mirka just checked her watch. Not a good sign at all for Djoko. Must be waiting on dinner at Le Cirque. Novak just held, to his credit. But no cigar today, baby

Federer 7-6, 7-6, 4-3

Nate: “commentators have made jokes about it before, but i’m beginning to think fed really does make dinner reservations counting on a straight sets win. so many times you see mirka checking her watch when fed gets a break or a break point in the third set…” Okay, we all agree, it’s over.

Federer breaks Djokovic to win the US Open title, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4

Nate: “4-5, 0-15: gorgeous point. djoko’s drop shot was a good one, but not good enough…” Yep, a beautiful backhand overhead hit with grace and prudence, hit just hard enough to get the angle and the point. Quintessential Roger Federer and now he has slam number 12.

Pat:

Alright, I guess dinner won’t wait! Djoko’s dropshot was great but he seemed a little surprised, and a tad late, in tracking it down crosscourt. As if he didn’t realize Federer could get to it. And then that backhand overhead, nifty stuff.

Nice show for the kid, and he’s made me a believer, he will be back next year and I’d wager the result might be different. He’s gonna make a huge leap up in his learning curve from this match.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 284 user reviews.

Nina:
Hello everyone. If you live in Sydney Australia it’s 11pm. If you live in New York it’s 9am. If you live in Los Angeles, it’s 6am. If you’re lucky enough to live in London it’s 2pm. Wherever you tennis fanatics are, we’re ready to roll with live coverage of the men’s final at Wimbledon. Feel free to leave comments and we’ll respond as we go along.

It’s cloudy and overcast, which is no surprise, but Rafael Nadal is in the final again which is a surprise to us here at Tennis Diary. In our reader poll, exactly one person chose him to reach the final for the second year in a row and it definitely wasn’t me. What is it about Nadal and Bjorn Borg? They get to the finals of the fastest and slowest surface but can’t win the US Open? [correction: it’s sunny and bright. Weatherunderground.com lied earlier this morning]

Pat:
Good morning all, although it feels like the middle of the night! The things I do for these guys! Rafa and Roger look so nice in the all white as they came on court, the tailors at least worked overtime. Let’s hope we have a barnburner today.

Pat:
Well, nice opening for Roger, up 3-0 now. Both guys seem nervous and the kinks getting worked out. Nice move by Rog stepping around the second serve and driving the forehand up the line.

Federer 3-0

Nina:
Excellent serving by Federer. Average service returns – a lot of them have been short. I hope he runs around his forehand on second serves a bit more. Two excellent passing shots. How many volleys into the net is that for Nadal?

Federer 3-2

Pat:
Hi Nate, Yes I think Rafa has a chance, he is covering the court well, returning well, and he just broke Rog right back, so hold on to your hats

Federer 4-3

Nina:
If it goes to five sets, Rafa has a good chance. That’s his forte. Neither player has played a five set slam final. Looking at Rafa and Roger’s five set matches, it’s always been Rafa who’s pulled it out. On clay, yes, but Rafa is better in those situations.

Federer 5-4

Pat:
Nice hold from Roger when it counted just now, he seems to be holding serve easier than Rafa, but Rafa is hanging right with him. Nice match shaping up! Keep up the good work guys.

Federer 6-5

Nina:
Nate, if effort decided this match, no contest: Rafa. Federer is beginning to force his way to the net a bit more. If he doesn’t Rafa will take it to him. What does it say that Rafa is the second best grass court player at this time?

Federer, 7-6

Pat:
Wow, what a great first set, we’re in for a stellar match. Roger a little stronger in the tiebreak, but it took him a while. Good aggression moving in on that last point and putting away the backhand volley. I want to see more of that from him, he needs to step it up. Rafa is returning really really well.

Federer 7-6

Nina:
See what I mean, though, if it stays close, Rafa has a good chance. Nate, that Wimbledon record was why Rafa had to win the first set. Good chance was wrong, better to say that it’s Rafa’s only chance.

Federer 7-6, 3-4

Pat:
Isn’t it nice to have a good first serve?? Fed just hit three aces in a row to hold onto serve at a critical time. But how impressive is Nadal staying right with him?

Federer 7-6, 4-6

Pat:
Wow, talk about flying by the seat of your pants! That shot from Rafa sitting down on the baseline was great, hope someone got a pix of that. I tell you, Rafa has more than a fighting chance, he is playing extremely well. Now it’s Roger’s turn to go into overdrive. If he doesn’t lift his level he may not win this after all, groan! Roger needs a bit more intensity, I’m sure it’s coming.

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 0-1

Nina:
I was worried that Roger wasn’t farther ahead because Rafa is making errors since he can’t hit his safe topspin. Here’s the deal: Roger is the better grass court player but no one has pushed him for five sets or, really, pushed him that hard in a slam final. If Rafa does, Rafa’s mind will outdo Roger’s skills.

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 3-4

Pat:
This is headed to five, and probably tiebreaks all of them.

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 4-5

Nina:
Federer is hanging in there with his serve but why isn’t he pressuring Nadal’s backhand and trying to get to the net? I think I’ve been spoiled by Gasquet’s backhand down the line, where’s Roger’s? It doesn’t look threatening at all.

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 5-5

Pat:
You are correct, it doesn’t feel threatening, more like he’s just using it to work his way into it. Isn’t it nice to have a good serve to help you out? He dodged a bullet there down several break points. Still need more aggression from Fed already

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6

Pat:
Wow, I guess we’re seeing the old Pete Sampras theory of playing Wimbledon: you hang around a set and take care of your serve, get into the tiebreak, step it up and grab those few critical points and off you go. But I don’t count Rafa out, this is still going down to the last point. What a squeaker! Have you got sweaty palms yet, Nina?

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6

Nina:
Roger is way lucky because Nadal was the aggressor in that set. But this is also why Roger loses on clay and Rafa loses on grass. Roger has to go for extra big shots on clay to make up for Rafa’s steadiness and speed. On grass, Rafa has to go for the big shots and eventually, as he did in the tiebreak, the shots start to go long and wide.

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 0-3

Pat:
Wow, that was cute! Roger challenging Hawkeye, haha! Is he nervous or what? Is he going to make a battle here in this set now that he is down two breaks? Or dance around and put it all in the fifth?

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 0-3

Nina:
Not a good time for sloppy play. Two loose volleys and double break down and what did he say to the umpire, can you turn Hawkeye off? Confident players don’t usually do that!

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 1-4

Pat:
Roger is really cranky on the changeover, still yakking about Hawkeye to Carlos Ramos in the chair. At least he held serve for 4-1, but what next? Roger picks his wedgie?? I’m hanging onto my sea

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 1-4

Nina:
Rafa’s knee is wrapped, he’s looking up at his box, this is not looking good. Roger should forget about the drop shot though, that’s Rafa’s game. Come to the damn net willya, pressure him. It will be really unfortunate if the match turns on his knee because this was beginning to look like a classic.

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6

Pat:
I don’t think the knee will bother him, more activity may loosen it up, I’m not worried. I am more worried about Roger, he has played the critical points well, but overall Rafa has outplayed him.

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6

Nina: L, they may have turned Cyclops off if it seemed to me messing up in the past and I don’t know what the rules are for ignoring Hawkeye though I assume the umpire has some disgression, but those Hawkeye calls looked good, Roger was the only one complaining. A rare, rare show of discombobulation from him. Nate, when Nadal started coming to the net I thought it was all over for him, trying to end points quickly, but now he seems to have calmed down a bit.

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 2-1

Pat:
Great hold by Fed, but have you noticed Nadal has picked up Roger’s first serve especially and is getting it back much more often now.

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 2-2

Nina:
It would be hard for Federer to keep up that level of serving and now he doesn’t have a tiebreak to lean on. He has to break serve else we’ll be here all day because there’s no fifth set tiebreak at Wimby.

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 2-2

Pat:
Wow, Roger had to fight to hold serve for 3-2, good hold. Whoops, forgot about that no tiebreak in the fifth set, and we probably will be here all day!

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 3-2

Nina:
Whoa, this is giving me a heart attack. Roger had opportunities to come to the net and didn’t use them. I feel like I’m talking about the French Open, not Wimbledon.

Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 4-2

Nina:
I’m reminded of Dunlop Maxply’s opinion on why Rafa beats Roger on clay: because Rafa never gives him an opportunity to be on the defense and when Roger gets stretched, he has an opportunity to make some great shots. That game had a few great shots.

Pat:
What a break from Roger! What a hold to back it up! These guys are giving me near heart attacks. Is it too early to drink yet? Nina, he didn’t have to come to net on the break game, Nadal helped him out with those few stray errors. How close is this match! I’m dying here

Final score: Federer 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2

Pat:
What a finish! Unbelievable! Roger is one lucky so and so. Notice how he finally – FINALLY – hit a key backhand up the line winner! Where the hell was that shot? That’s really the shot he needs to open up the court a little more. I’m a nervous wreck. And Nadal’s nerve just let him down that little bit. Now, does Borg present him the trophy?

Nina:
And then, just like that, it was over. Federer hung in there, fought back from 15-40 more than once, suffered through a mental lapse and a lost set, and with that patient, eternal calmness he waited till the fifth set for the slightest lapse by Nadal and then, only then, was he able to raise his game and take it. It did turn out to be a classic. An absolute classic.

Pat:
I liked Roger’s comments just now, how he felt kind of lucky to grab one of these Wimbly titles because Rafa was going to be around for a while and he will have lots of chances here. Rafa is ready to win here, he does have the game, it came down to just a few points. Roger seemed to know what this guy is capable of now though on grass. He knows he got pushed today more seriously than any of us thought. I’m thinking Rafa will win this next year. I have a lot of respect for Nadal. And I still say Roger was a bit lucky. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 226 user reviews.