Archive for May 2011

May/11

31

Novak Djokovic Is The Greatest Challenge Of Rafael Nadal’s Career

There’s a simple explanation for why the all-time King of Clay’s game and confidence are looking and sounding rather shaky this fortnight. Rafael Nadal is facing the greatest challenge of his career – Novak Djokovic.

Never in his illustrious career has Nadal struggled so mightily to overcome one opponent.

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May/11

31

The Heaviness of Being Rafael Nadal

Nadal has never been a carefree, light, flowing-type of a player. There has always been this fighter’s imbroglio burning inside him, the way he bounces up and down, side-to-side before a match, his crazy zig-zag sprint to the baseline after the umpire’s meeting at the net with the players, his yell-grunt on his forehand and his exaggerated fist pump after winning big points. If Nadal were a writer, he’d be Fitzgerald–all that inner turmoil–not Hemingway, the pompous calm of an egoist.

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This is an Argentinian who’ll be 32 in a few months. He’s always been discounted even in his own country, following in the heels of Nalbandian, Del Potro, Coria, Gaudio and others. And here he is in the quarters after beating Alejandro Falla. Now that’s a nice draw, having to beat Falla to get into a Slam quarters.

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Djokovic is up a break in the fourth set up two sets to love. He has come out today and taken the game to Del Potro and the big Argentine cannot move or hit the angles to match the Serb. I know Nadal looked impressive against the qualifier today, but does anyone seriously think anyone but Djokovic will come out victorious next Sunday?

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May/11

28

Del Potro is like a lion…

As astutely noted by Dan Markowitz in Delray Beach, Juan Martin Del Potro bears resemblance to a lion in by how he sometimes makes that fierce territorial grunting sound while striking the ball. Watching Delpo battle with Djokovic yesterday, the ferocious Argentine also showed the lion-like ease in how he lopes around the court so casually between points. But when the chase is on to win the point is on, Delpo instantly transforms into an aggressive, relentless hunter.

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May/11

27

Biofile with Fabio Fognini

First Tennis Memory: “I have a lot of memories in my career. When I was young I was playing tennis and football too. When I was 14 I decide to play tennis because I play a lot on the courts, so I have the mentality, if I lose, I lose. And I win, I win.”

Tennis Inspirations: “I have to work all the time. I have to work. The highlight of my career we will see when I finish if I get closer to a good ranking, if I stay like this. I can’t tell you now.”

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May/11

26

Ballpersons Share Memories Of The Players

The best seat in the house for pro tennis is on the court where the ballpersons are the closest to players. Here a few ballkids share some of the memories of being on the court with the pros…

* “My most memorable story was getting admonished by Agassi on court in Cincinnati because I gave him a bottle of water he asked for but I forgot to peel off the label – he wasn’t sponsored by that brand.”

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May/11

26

Roland Garros Day 5

I didn’t see the Querrey-Ljubicic match, but it seems it’s another case of water reaching it’s maximum level. Sam went down in straight sets. Now Luby is a tough player, but he’s #37 now and 32 years old so you’d think Sam might be able to hold-rank and beat Luby here.

Fish had trouble with Robin Haase in the first set, but then rolled the Dutchman to win in straight sets.

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May/11

25

Roland Garros Observations

Radek Stepanek is the only tennis player who still tucks in his shirt.

Juan Martin Del Potro might be the nicest champion in tennis history. He said even if he doesn’t beat Novak Djokovic in their third round match that he would like to see the Serbian win the tournament and become #1 because he likes him as a friend and that he’s “doing everything perfectly to be #1.”

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May/11

25

How Come They Conduct Post-Match Interviews in English at Roland Garros?

Isn’t that very strange. Cedric Pioline interviewing Novak Djokovic in English after Victor Hanescu retired. Why do they do that? This is a French audience. It’s in Paris, after all. Very strange. I wouldn’t think they’d conduct post-match interviews in Madrid in English. Is this a concession to the American television audience?

Also, amazing how loose the security looks at Phillipe Chartrier Stadium. After the Djokovic match, I saw kids reach out to Djokovic and Djokovic go right up to them in the low-seated stands.

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