Monday, April 26, 2010

Verdasco wins Barcelona Open

Another great week for Fernando Verdasco, but certainly not an easy one. After clawing his way back from a 6-7, 2-4, deficit against David Ferrer, in the semis. Verdasco, was poised to take on his biggest challenger yet, Robin Soderling, a player who held a 4-1 record against him (2-0 on clay) and was last years French Open finalist. It took some great playing from Verdasco, but he was able to wrap up the match and win the Barcelona Open, for the first time in 3 sets.

Soderling, played a good match but lacked the aggression needed to win. He'll need to improve a little more, if he wants to make another deep run in Roland Garros, He's also going to have a huge test, later this week in Rome, where he's scheduled to face Nadal, in the quarter-finals. This match will be very important for both players, Rafa needs to beat Soderling, in order to get their head-to-head back in his favor and Soderling, needs to upset Nadal's momentum on clay and hopefully get in his head a bit more.

These guys don't like each other and that could lead to some super high quality tennis and on-court drama. Of all the possible match-ups, this is the one I'm looking forward to the most. I would also love to see a rematch at the French Open but only if they're both players are playing well.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Monte Carlo finals: Nadal vs Verdasco

This was a strange match. From the score line, you'd think it was a blow out but Verdasco, actually pushed Nadal, quite hard, even managing 5 break points against the Spaniard's serve. However he didn't handle the big points, well at all. There's one particular game that stands out to me, where Verdasco, had won 3 of the first 4 points and was serving for a 2-1 lead but then choked it all away by double faulting twice. His game was way too inconsistent to beat Nadal but reaching the finals was a great showing for him and he was able to get enough ranking points, to pull himself back in the top 10.

Nadal, played an unbelievable tournament. He lost just 14 games which is an ATP record and it should send a message to Roger Federer, that if he wants to defend his Roland Garros crown and potentially achieve the calendar year grand slam, that he'll have to do something he's never done before. Beat Nadal where it really counts, in a five set match in the finals of the French Open.

This next Roland Garros, could be very exciting. I'm really looking forward to it. It's still a bit too early to know if Nadal and Roger will both be in the finals. Nadal, looks set to do it but Roger has been bombing out of tournaments for the last two months, he hasn't made a serious run since the Australian Open but given his tendency to peak at the majors, I think it's likely that they might meet again in the French Open finals and then possibly again at Wimbledon.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Murray falls, Nadal and Djokovic both through to the quarters

Looks like this clay court season might be a great one for Nadal. So far, he's lost just 1 games per match and his form has been better than ever. His next opponent is the clay court veteran, Juan Carlos Ferrero. Now, ordinarilly Ferrero, would be a sizeable threat to anyone on clay, but given Rafa's, current playing level, I don't think Ferrero's, chances are all that good. If he plays aggressively and tries to hit Nadal off the court, then he might be able to make it a close match but I'm picking Nadal, to win this one in straights.

On the other half of the draw, Novak Djokovic, managed to overcome a stern test from the 20th ranked, Stanislas Wawrinka. Djokovic's, game looked pretty good in the match. He'll need to return a little bit better but he'll continue to improve as the tournament goes along. He's definitely a favorite to reach the finals, although his quarter-final opponent, David Nalbandian, might have something to say about that.

And then there's Andy Murray. The poor guy has really struggled over these past few weeks, his game was way off when he played Mardy Fish, in Miami and it was even worse today, against Phillip Kohlschreiber. It sounds like Murray, is having a mental or emotional battle with tennis, he said that he's "Fallen out of love with the game" and that could be the reason for these recent losses.

We'll have to wait and see what happens with him, but my guess is that he'll have his head back on straight by the time the grass season starts. Wimbledon, is an extremely important tournament to him, he's got a lot of points to defend from last year. I doubt he'll let that get by him.