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Miner Willy
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I'm a massive fan, but I'm not sure. Maybe I'm pessimistic, but I think he needed today in order to get there. The French is clearly out of the question; the Australian and US Opens have Djokovic to worry about (and he's only going to get better, while perhaps Nadal will improve his hard court game); and Nadal's now truly proved himself at Wimbledon. It's going to be very, very tough.

It is going to be tough, I agree, but the US & Australian Opens still represent a very good chance for him to overtake Sampras' record.

You're evidently someone who doesn't just follow tennis for two weeks in the year, so you don't need me to tell you that Nadal's record on hard courts is far from great. His game is improving all the time but he still has a long way to go if he's to fine tune it for Flushing Meadows & Melbourne Park. There are so many more players who can play through him at those venues & of course the insane topspin that he generates is nowhere near as effective there as it is as Roland Garros & the current-day, sloooow grass of Wimbledon. They're also that much more punishing on his joints, which, as an aside, is a huge fear that I have for him long-term: unless he somehow adapts his game his knees are very possibly going to give out before he hits 25, which would be a tragedy for the sport. But, having said all that, if he can learn to flatten out some of his shots on the hard courts then the rest of the men's game should be terrified.

Djokovic has improved immensely, of that there's no doubt, but I think many forget that Federer really shouldn't have played the Australian Open this year. He was always going to defend his title of course, but he evidently was still recovering from his illness (& arguably still is, to an extent) & was far from his majestic self.

The big question, & it is a huge one now, is whether Federer can bounce back from a defeat that has left him floored & shell-shocked. I may be being a little over-dramatic but there are worrying parallels with Borg's defeat to McEnroe in 1981. He certainly isn't going to walk away from the sport like he did, but it's going to take an immense effort to reclaim the crown of world's best player.

But anyway, what a truly classic final & an absolute privilege to watch. In over 20 years of avidly following & watching tennis that was unquestionably the best match that I've ever seen & the single greatest sporting contest that I've ever witnessed. It was a perfect example of why, for me, no other sport can compare to tennis for sheer epic drama, nerve-wracking tension, heart-pounding intensity & sublime skill. And it was all played out by two of the most decent, likeable men in all of sport.

My mum & my grandad would recount tales of the 1980 final between Borg & McEnroe to me as a child & I'd sit enraptured by tales of what sounded like something never to be equalled. Well, now it has, & our generation has a final that will be spoken of for decades to come.

Absolutely fucking awe-inspiring. ;)

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It is going to be tough, I agree, but the US & Australian Opens still represent a very good chance for him to overtake Sampras' record.

You're evidently someone who doesn't just follow tennis for two weeks in the year, so you don't need me to tell you that Nadal's record on hard courts is far from great. His game is improving all the time but he still has a long way to go if he's to fine tune it for Flushing Meadows & Melbourne Park. There are so many more players who can play through him at those venues & of course the insane topspin that he generates is nowhere near as effective there as it is as Roland Garros & the current-day, sloooow grass of Wimbledon. They're also that much more punishing on his joints, which, as an aside, is a huge fear that I have for him long-term: unless he somehow adapts his game his knees are very possibly going to give out before he hits 25, which would be a tragedy for the sport. But, having said all that, if he can learn to flatten out some of his shots on the hard courts then the rest of the men's game should be terrified.

Djokovic has improved immensely, of that there's no doubt, but I think many forget that Federer really shouldn't have played the Australian Open this year. He was always going to defend his title of course, but he evidently was still recovering from his illness (& arguably still is, to an extent) & was far from his majestic self.

The big question, & it is a huge one now, is whether Federer can bounce back from a defeat that has left him floored & shell-shocked. I may be being a little over-dramatic but there are worrying parallels with Borg's defeat to McEnroe in 1981. He certainly isn't going to walk away from the sport like he did, but it's going to take an immense effort to reclaim the crown of world's best player.

But anyway, what a truly classic final & an absolute privilege to watch. In over 20 years of avidly following & watching tennis that was unquestionably the best match that I've ever seen & the single greatest sporting contest that I've ever witnessed. It was a perfect example of why, for me, no other sport can compare to tennis for sheer epic drama, nerve-wracking tension, heart-pounding intensity & sublime skill. And it was all played out by two of the most decent, likeable men in all of sport.

My mum & my grandad would recount tales of the 1980 final between Borg & McEnroe to me as a child & I'd sit enraptured by tales of what sounded like something never to be equalled. Well, now it has, & our generation has a final that will be spoken of for decades to come.

Absolutely fucking awe-inspiring. ;)

I totally agree with almost everything you said (I was going on about Nadal's hard court record in this thread just last week actually), and I almost posted earlier today that the hard court slams are looking very much like Federer's best chance of adding to his slams, because of the way grass plays now.

Still, the problem as I see it is that Djokovic is arguably as much of a threat on hard courts as Nadal is on grass (though not clay, of course). You're right to refer to Federer being ill at the Australian, but I recall Djokovic largely outplaying Federer in last year's US Open final, and only really falling short due to inexperience and perhaps a lack of belief - which he now has, of course. I do feel the US is Federer's most favourable slam now (marginally ahead of the Aus due to his record and some of the unbelievable performances he's put in there), but not only is the competition stiff; he'll need to get his head back on in about six weeks, which will be tough. I'd love to be wrong, but I'm concerned.

I really hope Federer can get over this, surpass Sampras' record and challenge at the very top for a few years. In a way I wonder if losing the top spot will help him, because I think he perhaps needs to realise that in order to be the beat the level of challengers he now has, he must play without fear or inhibition. Too often against Nadal he has seemed hesitant where he needed to be totally fearless (wasn't it only desperation that brought out his true inner strength after two sets of slightly hesitant play yesterday?). In my experience it's easier to be positive when in the position of challenger aiming to take top spot, rather than defending it. It's the old adage about having nothing to lose, of course, but while it's slightly simplistic I do think it can have an effect in terms of the positivity of your mentality, or otherwise. Obviously I don't know how that works at the very highest level of professional sport: we'll see, I guess.

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I really hope Federer can get over this, surpass Sampras' record and challenge at the very top for a few years. In a way I wonder if losing the top spot will help him, because I think he perhaps needs to realise that in order to be the beat the level of challengers he now has, he must play without fear or inhibition. Too often against Nadal he has seemed hesitant where he needed to be totally fearless (wasn't it only desperation that brought out his true inner strength after two sets of slightly hesitant play yesterday?). In my experience it's easier to be positive when in the position of challenger aiming to take top spot, rather than defending it. It's the old adage about having nothing to lose, of course, but while it's slightly simplistic I do think it can have an effect in terms of the positivity of your mentality, or otherwise. Obviously I don't know how that works at the very highest level of professional sport: we'll see, I guess.

Losing the World number one certainly helped Sampras. I think it's a distraction, focusing on defending your points.

As for Hard courts, I know I was badly wrong about Roddick at Wimbledon, but I still think he's a danger at the US Open along with Djokovic, and I think realistically you have to expect Nadal to improve his hard court game. His serve isn't right for it at the moment, though.

I missed large chunks of the final, yet always felt involved in the spectacle, such was the event.

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As for Hard courts, I know I was badly wrong about Roddick at Wimbledon, but I still think he's a danger at the US Open along with Djokovic, and I think realistically you have to expect Nadal to improve his hard court game. His serve isn't right for it at the moment, though.

The thing about Roddick is that when he meets the top three he's probably better over three sets than five. In a shorter match I think he can blow people away with his serving (like he did Federer a few months back... Indian Wells maybe?) - but I just don't think he can serve at that level for three sets, and obviously he's just not as good as Federer and Djokovic from the back of the court. We'll see - I'd like to see him do well there, but I think he'll come up short. He seems to feel the pressure there too, and obviously the US is on a bit of a downer about its men's tennis right now, so that probably won't help. I'd like to see Blake do well too.

The thing about Nadal is twofold: firstly, can his body hold up on the hard courts after the amount of tennis he plays through the clay/grass season, and secondly, can he genuinely adapt his game sufficiently, given that his biggest weapon - ridiculous top spin - is far less effective on the surface? I fully expect him to get better, but the ball seems to travel through too quickly for him on hard courts. Tsonga made him look like a little boy at the Australian, rather than the absolute beast we see on clay and grass. And then there's comprehensive defeats to Djokovic, Youzhny and Davydenko this year alone. I certainly think he'll get better, but I don't see him winning either the US this year or Australian next. Arguably his best chance would be if Federer and Djokovic ended up in the same half, and Federer were to beat Djokovic in the semis: even on hard Nadal has a decent record against Federer I think, whereas I don't think he would beat Djokovic on a hard court at the moment. But that's assuming he gets to the final... and he's only ever made one semi to date.

We'll see. It's building up to a superb US Open for sure. I really hope Tsonga can get fit and find some form too. :wub:

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Great match. Naal was great but I still reckon Federer was maybe only at 90-95%, he missed so many points you'd have expected him to bury. Not sure whether this is a change of guard or if Federer will be spurred back for another couple.

I agree with this. I felt for the whole match that Federer wasn't quite there, while Nadal was playing the best game of his life and still nearly lost. Federer might collapse, but the game actually convinced me that Federer is better than Nadal, for now at least. The next slams will be interesting.

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I agree with this. I felt for the whole match that Federer wasn't quite there, while Nadal was playing the best game of his life and still nearly lost. Federer might collapse, but the game actually convinced me that Federer is better than Nadal, for now at least. The next slams will be interesting.

For the first two sets, maybe (though I don't think Nadal was playing that well then), but I don't think you can argue either of them were playing far below their maximum ability for the remainder of the match. Certainly not considering how long they'd been on court by the end.

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I agree with this. I felt for the whole match that Federer wasn't quite there, while Nadal was playing the best game of his life and still nearly lost. Federer might collapse, but the game actually convinced me that Federer is better than Nadal, for now at least. The next slams will be interesting.

I was lucky enough to be there and that's the impression I got from watching it live as well. Federer was making some really poor mistakes, but when he was 'on' he was awesome - he blew Nadal away in the first 3-4 games of the second set but then lost it. He was playing much better after the second rain break though, but I think Nadal's consistency was the deciding factor.

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With Roddick, it's easy to forget he's won once and been in the final another time (2006, so only two seasons ago). I actually think Murray will do well, but I don't see him beating Djokovic. It's certainly pretty open!

Yeah, but now there are two players that are clearly better than Roddick, rather than just one. I just don't see him beating either Federer or Djokovic over five sets, which he'll almost certainly have to do.

I also think Murray will do well. It's probably his best surface, and I'd love to see what happens should be meet Nadal on a hard court: I still think his backhand has the capability to give Nadal problems... it would certainly be more even than last week.

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I think Nadal's consistency was the deciding factor.

I think that's the key. Nadal plays close to 100% all of the time. I guess it's a mixture of hunger, youth, fearlessness, and a game built around wide margins for error. Federer's very best is perhaps a touch better than Nadal's (on grass, anyway), but it fluctuates that bit more. When he's not totally on it, Nadal pulls away and can put strings of games together like nobody's business. He's done it time and again against Federer. I just think it must be mentally exhausting to play Nadal, knowing that you can't drop your level for a minute.

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I was lucky enough to be there and that's the impression I got from watching it live as well. Federer was making some really poor mistakes, but when he was 'on' he was awesome - he blew Nadal away in the first 3-4 games of the second set but then lost it. He was playing much better after the second rain break though, but I think Nadal's consistency was the deciding factor.

Yeah, sometimes he was playing a bit shite (by his standards) and sometimes very well. Nadal was always at his best and still nearly lost.

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Yeah, sometimes he was playing a bit shite (by his standards) and sometimes very well. Nadal was always at his best and still nearly lost.

Nadal was seriously not at his best in the third set tiebreak or on the key points in the 4th set tiebreak - it could very easily have been 3 sets, I think you're being pretty generous to Federer.

Edit - that's not to say I think he doesn't deserve praise for the match, because I think he does. I just think 'nearly lost' is a strange way of looking at it.

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For the first two sets, maybe (though I don't think Nadal was playing that well then), but I don't think you can argue either of them were playing far below their maximum ability for the remainder of the match. Certainly not considering how long they'd been on court by the end.

Nah, Federer seemed to repeatedly miss volleys close to the net, and there were a couple of times he missed balls long that had the crowd grasping in shock. In a close match, might have made the difference.

I should add I know absolutely nothing about Tennis :P

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Nah, Federer seemed to repeatedly miss volleys close to the net, and there were a couple of times he missed balls long that had the crowd grasping in shock. In a close match, might have made the difference.

I should add I know absolutely nothing about Tennis :P

It was a close match and I think they would have made the difference!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Does anyone think Murray has a chance tonight?

His first ATP masters final so you would imagine he will be up for it and having beat Djokovic last week, he certainly has the talent.

However, Djokovic ended the Nadal winning streak last night will some really impressive play. Not many win a set 6-1 against Nadal.

I think it should be a good match either way.

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Yes certainly impressive. He will be up to 6 in the rankings on Monday. I reckon he can get top 3 at this rate.

The British public will have to accept that grass is one of his weakest surfaces though and if he is going to win a grand slam then its unlikely to be Wimbledon.

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Yes certainly impressive. He will be up to 6 in the rankings on Monday. I reckon he can get top 3 at this rate.

The British public will have to accept that grass is one of his weakest surfaces though and if he is going to win a grand slam then its unlikely to be Wimbledon.

I'm sure its been said by people for years and Murray himself that hes hard court man he won the US Juniour open afterall on hard courts. I thought he was gonna bottle it when Djokavic started coming back in the seciond set but he didnt, mad props to Andy.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, the US Open starts next week and looks like being one of the most open slams in recent years. I really can't wait. I'd say there are three obvious most likely winners (the big three of course), plus Murray as a decent fourth with his game and recent hard court form. Interestingly, all four are in different quarters (as sixth seed, Murray could have ended up with any of the top three, but he's landed in David Ferrer's quarter, making it a nice spread for the four).

I just had a quick look at the draw, and it's looking good for Nadal to reach his first hard court final:

Top quarter (Nadal): Not easy (Karlovic, Berdych, Nalbandian & Blake are the potential hazards), but I can't help but feel that with the form he's in (he was utterly immense in winning the olympics, and seems to have developed an air of invincibility on hard courts now too) he's going to have an excellent chance of reaching his first hard court slam final.

Second Quarter (Murray): Unfortunately for Murray, he's in the same half as Nadal. If he were in a half with Djokovic or Federer I'd have put money on him maybe reaching his first final, as he often does well against them, but Nadal seems to have a spell over him, even on hard courts where Murray's strongest. Murray could meet Wawrinka, Ferrer & Gilles Simon, but otherwise the quarter is fairly ok. I'm prediciting his first slam semi.

Third Quater (Djokovic): Djokovic could meet Roddick, Gulbis, Safin, Tsonga or Ginepri... none of which would be easy, but I still expect him to come through to the semis without many problems though.

Fourth Quarter (Federer): His quarter isn't easy (Tipsarevic, Haas/Gasquet, Davydenko), but I can't see Federer failing to reach the semi of a hard court slam, bad form or no.

Prediction time: I'm going to bet on Nadal to cap an amazing year by grabbing his first hard court slam. I'm not writing Federer off entirely, but I think if he meets Djokovic in the semi it might prove too much. Federer's belief must have taken a beating this year, and I just don't know if he can beat Djokovic at the moment... and if he can, can he beat Djokovic and then Nadal in a final? I very much doubt it, sadly.

If it's a Nadal Vs Djokovic final it could be amazing. Djokovic definitely has the game to beat Nadal on hard courts, but over five sets? I'll take Nadal to grind him down. Can't wait. :ph34r:

Anyone else want to put their predictions down?

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I predict Federer will flop it again.

Like in the 12 grand slam finals he has won, and the 18 consecutive grand slams where he reached a semi?

I think you need to understand the quality of players at the top of the game right now before using words like 'flop'. He's lost to Djokovic and Nadal (twice) in the three slams this year, reaching two finals and a semi in the process - and on three different surfaces too.

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