Monday, November 23, 2009

World Tour Finals Day 2

A spectator cheers on Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro during the ATP World Tour Finals tennis match against Britain's Andy Murray at the 02 Arena in London, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009.

A spectator cheers on Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro during the ATP World Tour Finals tennis match against Britain's Andy Murray at the 02 Arena in London, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009.


Today is the rematch between Rafa and Robin, their first since the earthquake in Paris.

Who's taking it?

Round Robin Day 2 Order Of Play

[2] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs [7] M Mirnyi (BLR) / A Ram (ISR)

Not Before 2:15 pm
[2] R Nadal (ESP) vs [8] R Soderling (SWE)

At 7:00 pm
[4] L Dlouhy (CZE) / L Paes (IND) vs L Kubot (POL) / O Marach (AUT)

Not Before 8:45 pm
[3] N Djokovic vs [6] N Davydenko (RUS)

Yesterday's Results

Group A Singles
A Murray (GBR) d JM del Potro (ARG) 63 36 62
R Federer (SUI) d F Verdasco (ESP) 46 75 61

Group A Doubles
M Fyrstenberg (POL) /M Matkowski (POL) d D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) 64 64
M Bhupathi (IND) / M Knowles (BAH) d F Cermak (CZE) / M Mertinak (SVK) 63 63


b said...

Anyone else out there watching rafa-soderling.... Seems to be a pretty tight match.... Great fight back from Rafa and now he's seeking to level at 5 all

b said...

wow - what terrible mistakes by nadal right in last game..... perhaps the last person i would like to see him lose to is the sod

Helen W said...

My feelings exactly, b. Too bad he didn't challenge that first serve that was called out but in fact hit the line. But that does not excuse his play in that game.

Why are the commentators so firmly in Soderling's camp? It seems like whoever Rafa is playing they are pro his opponent.

b said...

HW - It's laughable how nervous they get when Nadal is gaining ground - and how they can barely restrain themselves when Soderling gets his break back.....

Too bad I cannot sit and watch the entire match but I'll try and catch bits as it goes along.

Helen W said...

Hi b -- please join my Dump Robbie Koenig campaign and complain about him to TennisTV. You don't have to be a member -- just use their "feedback" option.

oddman said...

Urgghhh. Cannot STAND them - Robby and Jason - had to shut off my feed. Their yap is enough to gag a maggot.

Craig Hickman said...

I have Leif Shiras and Jimmy Arias calling the match on Tennis Channel.

They are being fair. Critical of Rafa, but fair. Not cheerleading for Soderling at all.

Helen W said...

Craig I have no problem with commentators criticizing someone -- even one of my favourites -- when it is deserved. What I have a huge problem with is total partisan commentary. While it is true that once in awhile Robbie & Jason acknowledge Rafa's good shots, they are firmly in Soderling's camp, and can hardly wait to start slavering over his successes. Totally unprofessional.

Helen W said...

This was a most uncharacteristic way for Rafa to lose a match -- losing crucial points on his own serve at the end of the games. To me it shows that while is game is almost back, his confidence is not. In some ways that gives me more hope for his future, because we know his personality enough to know that he can get his confidence back.

Whole Sight said...

Yeah, I'm not a big fan of RK - but hHey, I like Soderling! I don't like it that he was rude to Nadal several years back - didn't see that match but mocking an opponent isn't the way to go. But I do enjoy the rude power of his game. And yeah, I was rooting for him against Nadal - even though I like Nadal & bear him no ill will whatsoever.

As for Nadal being back near the top of his game - no way. His serve especially has become a major problem for him. It was a weakness early on in his career & has become so again. Not just the bad percentage when he gets tight, but the fact it's no longer close to being anything like a weapon. I think the fact he can't win cheap points on serve contributes to his overly defensive play these days.

Helen W said...

Whole Sight on reflection I agree with you about Rafa's serve -- it hasn't been anything like a weapon, nor as good as it was before (and of course it is problematic for him anyway being that he is a natural righty but is playing & serving left handed). My understanding is that the serve is the last thing to come back after a layoff, so hopefully it will improve.

lynney62 said...

Sod didn't win that match, Rafa handed it to him. Too many slice BH's, too many short balls, played behind the baseline again, played defensively again, little effort on return of serves, mentally on walkabout much of the time. I think it's time Rafa considered a new coach to bring fresh input and ideas to the table. This current strategy hasn't been working well for several months now. Rafa's passion has gone idea where. Bring in someone new to start a new spark.

vw said...

Koenig and Goodall seems to really dislike Nadal and Djoker.

Craig Hickman said...

Koenig and Goodall like Raja and Murray. A lot. Everybody else is supporting.

Craig Hickman said...

Rafa is going through the motions. Has been for some time now. Not sure if it's about the layoff or that and something else. Even his fist pumps don't convince.

oddman said...

From Rafa's postmatch interview:

'The second half of the year was difficult for me, and probably I lost little bit this necessary out of confidence and this necessary calm in that moments.

But I am working really hard to come back at my best level. I think I'm not far away from my best level. But I need little bit more confidence and more calm in that moments, no?'

Does sound like a confidence problem. I have faith he'll get it back eventually. Probably not in London, but it will come back.

oddman said...

lynney62, I like your thoughts about bringing in someone new. Not to replace Tio Toni, who I think is wonderful, but another set of eyes and strategic mind - Darren Cahill, you seem to like Rafa, why not offer??? I think Cahill would be perfect for Rafa.

PeytonAllen said...


Didn't see the match but agreed. He hasn't mentally been all in since the spring. The last time we saw "Nadal" was against Djok in that epic semi-final on clay. Can't remember where it was, and I'm too tired to look it up.

I think the players who win so early die young. It's been proven time and time again on the women's tour, and the men's...look at Chang and Hewitt. Is Nadal the next Hewitt?

After winning slams and reaching #1, Hewitt while still in his early 20s lost some of his fire. He played good tennis here and there, but he was oft injured and never showed the same passion and physicality.

I think Rafa has more game to take a detour from the Hewitt career path, but its clear as you said, mentally he hasn't reached the "beast" level we've seen in his past.

I think getting back on clay and playing Davis cup in a few days will help get some confidence back.

He should hire a specialist to help him with his serve. But he and Murray both have to learn you can roll shots back against the top guys.

The book on Nadal now seems to be, the hell with it, just end the points early. Don't play his game.

On this surface its easier to do.

At any rate, it's Rafa's backhand that controlls a match, when he dips it for angles and hits with pace.

We'll see what '10 brings. His record in his comeback against the big hitters is startling.

Whole Sight said...

PeytonAllen said: "Mentally [Nadal] hasn't reached the 'beast' level we've seen in his past ... getting back on clay and playing Davis cup in a few days will help get some confidence back."

Great word choice - "beast" level.

But what if Rafa's vanished beastliness is not the solution to his confidence crisis, but the cause of it? What if we have here is something like a tennis version of "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"?

The beast was a glutton, a monster; and as a result he blew out his knees. Rafa has been told he must be more careful - must learn a new service motion, a new restraint, a new attitude toward his schedule. The beast has become a threat to a player whose magnificence consisted of morphing into that beast as often as possible.

If this is the cause of Nadal's lack of confidence, he will never again be the player he was, because he can never again drink the magic potion.

PeytonAllen said...


Good post. Agreed.

I think he can have the 'beast' again, but he's got to realize he has to start hitting through all of his shots. It's not a long offseason, hell, its not even an offseason, but in December he and Toni have to do something about his serve. Opponents are just teeing off on it, and early. Rafa needs a more aggressive service game, which in turn would save his body some.

And he has to find that mix between working the body blows with his spins and being aggressive with his groundies.

But right now, I think it's just his mental state that's troubling. He's come back from his a layoff a different man. His gf shows up to matches, etc.

He's not the teen hellbent on winning every point. He's a made man.

The question will be, how hungry does he remain?

oddman said...

I agree, PeytonAllen. The 'beast' is still there. But mentally Rafa's gone walkabout.

He's had some good moments on court, just hasn't found the way to keep up the intensity again.

Me, the eternal optimist, I think he'll find it.