by Craig Hickman
(1)Roger Federer (SUI) vs. (16)Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP)
If you're looking for an upset, look here. The Spaniard has quietly, efficiently made his way through the draw of an event he's already won twice. He showed big balls against Richard Gasuet in their quarterfinal. He loves the conditions and it's not as though he's never beaten Roger, no matter how long ago it was. (See: Canas). Roger's mood is in the toilet this week. He's jaded, ornery, and has played scratchy tennis for most of his run here. Sure, he usually raises his level when he has to, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he fizzles out of the tournament right here. Wouldn't be the end of the world. Not sure how another Nadal beatdown would help his overall cause on the terre battue this year. Nevertheless, jaded or not, Federer will find a way to get through to see where his game against Nadal stands.
Postmatch remarks: Ferrero led 3-1 in the first set and had two break points to take a 4-1 lead. On the second one, Federer's mishit forehand clipped the tape and dribbled over the net. After that bit of Leo luck, it was all downhill for Ferrero. He lost 7 games in a row to fall behing 0-2 in the second set. Though he recovered his early match form shortly thereafter, it was too late. Federer advances to his second consecutive Monte Carlo final.
(2)Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. (10)Tomas Berdych (CZE)
Several tennisheads have predicted that if there's an upset today, it will most likely happen here. I poured that Kool Aid down the drain. So what Berdych has gotten the best of Rafa on hardcourts the last three times they've played. This is Rafa's kingdom, people. He will not be denied in this round or the next. And he'll be eager to avenge his last loss to Berdych in front his home fans. It got ugly. Rafa felt completely disrespected and verbally attacked Berdych at the net during the handshake. I expect him to do all his attacking between the lines this time around.
Postmatch remarks: In the first set, Rafa cleaned Tomas' clock to love in 27 minutes. But the Czech fought back in the second set, got to the net a bit more, and managed to win 5 games, exactly the same number Nadal surrendred in his quarterfinal. A tight service game at 5-5 was the Czech's final undoing. Nadal served out the match to 15. Tepid, perfunctory handshake.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
by Craig Hickman