Monday, September 29, 2008

Tsonga wins Thailand Open

This is the time of the year when the ATP tennis season starts to calm down. With the US Open now over and the Davis Cup finals not for almost two months, there isn't very much to report on, after all, most of the important tournaments won't be held until next year but I was excited by how well Jo Wilfried Tsonga played at the Thailand Open, this past week. Tsonga crushed most of his opponents including Djokovic (in straight sets) on his way to the title.

Tsonga, has been plagued with injuries throughout most of his professional career which is unfortunate because he's a great player, I think that Tsonga, will probably break into the top ten before the year is over, he's 16 in the world right now and I'm really looking forward to watching him next year. Hopefully, without injuries.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Spain will play Argentina in the Davis Cup finals

Juan Martin Del Potro has had a tremendous season and although he is ranked lower than David Nalbandian, Del Potro, has become the anchor for the Argentine team. The head-to-head record between the Argentine and Spanish players slightly favors the Spaniards with Ferrer and Verdasco having won the majority of their matches against Nalbandian and Nadal and Ferrer with a winning record against Del Potro. Nalbandian, however has a 2-0 head-to-head record against Nadal. Both victories came last year and were on hard court.

Spain last won the Davis cup in 2004, after defeating the US 3-2 in the finals. Argentina, finished as the runners up in 2006 and will be looking to win their first ever Davis Cup against Spain. The Argentines, will have the advantage of playing the final at home and will also decide which surface the final will be played on.

Prediction: I think that Argentina, does have a good chance of winning their first Davis Cup title but it will require Nalbandian to play well. Nalbandian's record hasn't been very good this year in fact he lost the last match he played to Nikolay Davydenko, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Nadal or Ferrer roll over him. I expect Del Potro, will continue to play well and will probably keep hope alive for Argentina. I'm not sure that the effort of Del Potro alone will be enough to win, so I'll take Spain to win over Argentina 3-2.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rod 'The Rocket' Laver vs Roger Federer: Battle of the GOAT part 2

Ok here is a video of Federer vs Roddick at the US Open 2007

And here is one of Laver against Roche at the Australian Open 1969. (Laver is the guy with the white hat.)

It might seem kind of absurd to compare the styles of tennis players or athletes for that matter who played more than forty years apart but I believe that this is the only way know for sure who the better player was. I think that it's also worth noting that I had never seen Rod Laver play before I watched the video and I was actually impressed with what I saw.

It's apparent from watching the video that Federer serves and returns much harder than Laver does. The shot placement from both players is very good and Laver's volleys are very precise. Both of the players move exceptionally well although the slower rally allows Laver a bit more time to get to the ball than Federer has. All in all they both played very good against their opponents however if Laver and Federer had met in their primes with the technology being consistent with their times (Laver with a wood racquet and Federer with a graphite Wilson K Factor) Fed would easily win. The racquets back in the 60s lacked the power to hit passing shots like the racquets today can hit. This would probably be enough for Federer to defeat Rod Laver's opponent Tony Roache and can you imagine Laver trying to defeat a player like Andy Roddick when the average players in the 60s hit hit their first serves in the 90 mile an hour range? I can't. Roger Federer's, average first serve speed is probably between 114-120 mph.

In conclusion, I think that Laver was a pretty good player and probably the best during his time period but is he really the GOAT? No. His style is just too dated to actually beat any of the best players in the world today or probably within the last 25 years. Their never will be an official greatest of all time because it's speculation it comes down to what you believe and who you think that person is. Hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you have any comments please feel free to post and I'll be back next week with the Davis Cup. :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rod 'The Rocket' Laver vs Roger Federer: Battle of the GOAT part 1

Thank you
and for supplying the pictures.

Recently, I've been posting on Tennis Warehouse Forums and I've noticed that several of the threads mention Laver, as the GOAT or greatest of all time. I found this kind of surprising, after all Laver, only won 11 majors and yet he was considered to be better than Federer, who owns 13 majors or Sampras, with 14? I decided to do some research about Laver, so that I could better compare him to Federer and Sampras.

After doing some reading about Laver, I realized that it's difficult to judge how many majors he actually won. Wikipedia, listed him with the following achievements:

Rod Laver

11 major titles. The majors were won from 1960-1969.
Two calendar year grand slams (winning all of the majors in the same year.)
185 titles. Although some of those are amateur level.

But as I've mentioned before, prior to 'the open era' in 1968 all of the grand slam tournaments were open only to amateur level players, so it's impossible to compare Laver's amateur grand slam victories to Federer's Professional grand slam victories. Which means that in order to compare Laver to Federer I would have to exclude all of Laver's grand slams before 1968. Now there were professional level tournaments back then. The US Championship, The French Championship, and The Wembly Championship. These were like the majors today except there was only three of them and they were only played on two surfaces, grass and indoors. In 1963, Laver turned pro and won 8 of these tournaments over the course of four years. Unfortunately, before the Open Era the amateur circuit was more popular than then professional circuit and sometimes the professional tournaments were cancelled because people wouldn't even go to watch them. The quality level of the players who played at these tournaments varied from year to year so it's difficult at best to judge how important winning these tournaments actually was. Laver, only won 5 grand slam tournaments during 'The Open Era' and these are the only majors that can be directly compared to Federer. Basically, Rod Laver cannot be compared to Roger Federer based on achievements. If I tried to it would look like this.

Rod Laver

11 grand slam titles (5 pro) (6 amateur)

12 straight major semi-finals (or better)

There was no ranking system back when Laver was playing but most historians believe that he was the best player from 65 until 69.

Laver, did win the calendar year grand slam but three of the four majors were played on grass. Which was Laver's best surface.

Roger Federer

13 grand slams (professional)

18 straight slam semi-finals (or better)

#1 player for 237 straight weeks

Did not win the calendar year grand slam

That makes it really hard to compare them. Well since achievements are out I decided to compare videos of Federer and Laver. In the next part I'm going to post some videos of Laver and Federer and compare their playing styles.

To be continued...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

US Open Final: Roger Federer vs Andy Murray

At the beginning of the US Open I would not have expected Federer to make the Finals, actually I wasn't sure that he would even make it to the fourth round. It seems kind of ridiculous to think that the four time defending champion wouldn't even make it to week two but that's how inconsistent Federer has been this year. His victory over Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals was huge. He played more like the Federer that we've known in the past and not like the one that loses to Karlovic, Simon, or Ginepri in the first round.

For the people that follow tennis history closely you may realize that if Federer were to win the match he would be tying another record today. That record belongs to "Big" Bill Tilden. Now if you don't know who he is it's no big deal. Tilden won the first of his five consecutive major titles almost 90 years ago. Unfortunately, Tilden won the titles as an amateur player because prior to 1968 all of the grand slam tournaments were open only to amateur level players. While, this is still impressive, it doesn't hold the same kind of ground as Federer winning them all as a pro. Federer really is the first person to ever go for this record.

Now onto the match

US Open Final: Roger Federer vs Andy Murray

Federer and Murray successfully held their first two service games. After that it was Federer all the way for the first set. Murray, was broken at 2-3 and 2-5 to win an easy first set. Federer got off to an early start in the second set by breaking Murray to go up 2-0. Murray then got the break back and tied things up at 2-all. The next game Murray had a triple break point against Federer which turned out to be controversial, Federer hit a ball slightly out during the rally at 15-40, Murray did not challenge the call and eventually lost the point. After the point Murray complained that one of Federer's returns had gone long during the point hawkeye reviewed it and determined that it was long however Murray challenged too late and didn't win the point. Both players held serve until Federer got a break late in the second set to win it 7-5.

The third set was extremely one sided. Federer broke Murray twice to go up 5-0. Murray held serve and then broke to make it 5-2 but Federer broke again to win the match and his 13th grand slam 6-2, 7-5, 6-2.

Great effort from Federer. He earned this one. Murray played very well in parts but was too tired from playing two days in a row. Federer, is only one major away from tying Sampras's record of 14 majors total. Do you think he can do it? I think that he can.:)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Murray/Nadal match part 2

US Open semi-final: Nadal vs Murray part 2

Nadal comes out to the court looking much fresher than he did on Saturday. From the announcers box John McEnroe, Marry Carillo, and Dick Enberg talked about the rain delay being good for Nadal, Mary Carillo, said that Murray has a good chance of winning the match.

Nadal, served first at 3-2 and held easily, Murray then held serve at love. Two more easy service games brought the score to 5-4. Nadal, struggled to serve out the set and Murray got a break point opportunity. Nadal hit an ace to bring the score to deuce and won the next two points to win the third set 6-4.

Murray, faced a break point in his first service game but still managed to hold serve. Nadal, was in serious trouble when sering at 0-1. Murray had 7 break point chances but was unable to capitazlize on one. After 8 deuces Nadal held serve and Murray dropped serve the next game at love. Both players held their next service games to make the score 3-2. Murray, started to play more aggresively and broke Nadal back. No breaks until 5-4 when Murray hit some amazing returns to break Nadal and win the match 6-4 in the fourth set.

What a match. Some unbelievable shots in the fourth set especially by Murray. Roger, better play his best today or he won't be winning his 5th straight US Open title.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Super Saturday: Federer makes it through Nadal/Murray stopped by rain delay

Usually the last Saturday of the US Open, (often referred to as Super Saturday by the sports announcers) features the men's semi-final matches followed by the women's final but the rain from Tropical Storm Hanna halted play during the Nadal/Murray match so the second semi-final match along with the women's final, will be played today starting at 4:30.

The first semi-final between Djokovic and Federer, was a repeat of last years final. Now, Djokovic, has been growing unpopular with the New York crowd because of his self-congratulatory antics. After he beat Andy Roddick in the quarter-finals he celebrated by pointing at himself and screaming. The crowd didn't like this and started booing him. Djokovic, made things even worse by saying in his post match interview that the crowd thinks that he's been faking injuries even though he hasn't been. The negative energy followed Djokovic into his match against Federer and the crowd really got behind the Swiss player. Roger played great during the first set and won it 6-3. Djokovic, played much better during the second set and broke Federer's serve win the second set 7-5. The third set went the same way as the second except it was Federer who got the break to win the set 7-5. Djokovic, looked deflated by the end of the fourth set and Federer broke him twice in that set to win the match.

Final Score: 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.

Strong performance from Federer, he looked much better playing against Djokovic than he had for quite some time. If Federer, wins tomorrow it could be yet another turning point for him.

The Murray/Nadal match started early because rain was predicted for the late afternoon. Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal started warming up for their match just after Djokovic and Federer finished their second set. It was incredibly humid and overcast when Nadal and Murray started playing. Nadal, looked really flat against Murray, he got broken in his second service game and then again at 2-4. Murray's, play was excellent, he hit lots of winners, his backhand was particularly effective when he hit cross court and he served unbelievably well. Murray's level of play was so good that he didn't even face a break point. In the second set Nadal somehow held onto his serve long enough to take it to a tie-break. Murray, on the other hand was better than ever and went to deuce only once while on serve. In the tie-break Murray showed the slightest signs of vulnerability but Nadal was still having difficulty finding his game and Murray took the tie-break 7-5. Nadal got his first break point chance against Murray early in the third set and converted. Both players remained on serve until 3-2 when the rain hit and the match was stopped until today at 4:30.

In my next post I'll cover the rest of the Murray/Nadal match. I can't wait to see what happens:).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Monday week 2.

The US Open has been pretty straight forward this year. Not very many upsets and so far it's been easy to predict the winners of the matches but despite the predictability I would not have expected Mardy Fish or Gilles Muller to still be around in the round of 16. Both players have very, well... average styles. There really isn't anything that they do that sets them apart from the other players yet both of them have played great tennis and have won matches over high ranked seeds on their way to the fourth round.

Match 1 Gael Monfils vs Mardy Fish.

In the first set things were very even and most games went to deuce. Monfils, went up a break at 3 all but lost serve the next game. Fish, got a break at 6-5 to seal the set.

Fish quickly went up 3-0 in the second set and Monfils (who seemed to be slowing down) called the trainer. He got his knee taped and play resumed . Fish, got another break when Gael was serving for the match and led 7-5, 6-2.

Fish played very well in the third set and broke Monfils early on. Monfils got two break points the next game but failed to convert. Fish then broke Monfils at 5-2 to win the match.

Match 2 Querrey vs Nadal

Querrey, played a tentative first set and got broken twice. Nadal, played well during the first set although he got into some kind of an argument with the umpire midway through the set.

Nadal broke and Querrey traded breaks in the beginning of the second and then Nadal broke again to go up 4-2. Querrey, was down a break point in the next game but he managed to hold serve and broke Nadal at 5-4 and 5-6 to level the match at one set all.

Nadal, broke Querrey in the first game of the third set, (Querrey had two double faults) but he was struggling to hold serve. Sam, eventually broke back at 4-3 and the match went to a tie-break. Nadal, was able to raise his game enough to beat Querrey 7-2 in the tie break.

Nadal, served first to open up the fourth set and almost blew a 30-love lead. Querrey, continued to put pressure on Nadal's serve and most of the time Nadal was just barely able to hold his own service games. Nadal, did get a break at 4-2 and although Querrey had 7 break points opportunities he wasn't able to break back and Nadal served out the match at 5-3 to win in four long sets.

First tough win for Nadal at the Open this year, he was lucky that he wasn't playing a great returner or he probably wouldn't have won the match. We'll see how he does in the next round against Fish.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Federer easily gets through the first US Open test. Roddick plays well.

As a huge Federer fan, it's been disapointing to watch him exit in the early rounds. This hasn't been a good year for him compared to his performance in other years (although, from his interviews, he seems to be ok with that) but when I watched his match against Radek Stepanek I saw moments of the old Federer shining through. The Federer that could only be stopped by Nadal on a good day. It gives me hope that he can still turn around his slump. Maybe not this year but possibly the near future. Anyway onto the match. In the first set Roger was able to hold easily thanks to his serve. Radek, played badly on his first service game and gave Roger an early break. Stepanek did manage to break Federer at 4-2 only to loose serve the next game. Federer, then served out the set 6-3. Stepanek, tried to get back into the match during the second set but by this point Federer was playing much better, he easily won the last two sets 6-3, 6-2.

Gilles Muller, came from behind to win an extremely long match against Nicolas Almagro. Almagro, took the first two sets but Muller leveled the match by winning the third and fourth sets in tie-breaks. Almagro, was visibly tired late in the fifth set and Muller had just enough left to win 7-5 in the fifth.

Andy Roddick dominated Andreas Seppi during the first set of their match. Seppi, played decently but Roddick was way too consistent and hit Seppi off of the court. Seppi, stepped up his game and held serve until late into the second set when Roddick finally got the break. Seppi, got his one and only break against Roddick early on in the third set but he couldn't hang on to it and the set eventually went to a tie-break which Roddick won to clinch his spot in the fourth round.