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Ricky Dimon

  • French Open preview part 3: Draw analysis

    2009-05-22 19:14:14
    This is the third of Ricky's five-part French Open preview series, running through Sunday.

    Part 1: Nadal vs. Federer
    Part 2: Top 25 contenders at the 2009 French Open
    Part 3: Draw analysis
    Part 4: Weekly "Approach Shots"
    Part 5: Full tournament predictions

    The big question, of course, heading into Friday's draw ceremony was on whose side of the draw would Novak Djokovic fall—Rafael Nadal's or Roger Federer's.

    Nadal got a break with Djokovic getting placed in Federer's half, but that's the only break Nadal got. Aside from Djokovic being in the bottom half, this is an utterly top-heavy draw. Nadal's quarter is brutal, while Federer's is one of the easiest in recent memory.


    Nadal's Quarter


    This is by far the toughest quarter of the draw. Once again—just like in Madrid—Nadal, Fernando Verdasco, and David Ferrer are all in the same quarter. As if that isn't enough, Nikolay Davydenko and an in-form Stanislas Wawrinka are also in this section. So, too, is Robin Soderling, who—for the second straight year—destroyed everything his path at the World Team Championships.

    If Djokovic was in this half of the draw, Nadal would have one of the most difficult roads to a final in Grand Slam history.

    Best First-Round Matchup — Lleyton Hewitt vs. Ivo Karlovic. Hewitt has never beaten Karlovic in three tries, and one of his three losses was extraordinarily memorable. Looking to defend his 2002 Wimbledon title, Hewitt bowed out to Karlovic—pretty much unknown at the time—in the first round. The former world No. 1 also lost to Karlovic at Queen's Club in 2005 and in Tokyo two years later. In sets, Hewitt is a dismal 1-7 lifetime against the 6'10'' Croat.

    They have never met on clay, however, and this surface should provide Hewitt with his best chance of pulling off a victory. He has never gone beyond the quarterfinals of the French Open, but he has been there twice and has not lost prior to the third round since—amazingly—1999. Karlovic is surprisingly decent on clay, but he is just 2-5 at Roland Garros and has never reached the third round.

    If nothing else, this will be a fascinating contrast in styles. Hewitt likes to wear his opponents down by keeping the ball in play and grinding out grueling points; Karlovic wants to hit one huge serve and be done with it.

    The only other legitimately interesting matchup in this section is Ernests Gulbis vs. Sam Querrey. Both youngsters are hailed as up-and-comers, but Querrey is stuck in neutral and Gulbis is going downhill fast. One will come out of this with some sort of momentum; and it better be Gulbis if he does not want to fall off the map of the ATP rankings (he is defending quarterfinal points).

    What to Watch For — How hard Nadal has to work during the early part of the second week. The only conceivable scenario in which Nadal wouldn't win the French Open was Djokovic being in Nadal's half and either, 1) Djokovic beating him in the semifinals, or 2) Djokovic wearing him out for Federer like the Serb did in Madrid.

    But we now know that can't happen, as Nadal got a nice break with Djokovic being in Federer's half. Aside from that, however, the latter stages of Nadal's draw are brutal. The world No. 1 should not come close to losing a set during the first week of the tournament, but he will most likely face Ferrer in the fourth round and Verdasco in the quarters. It's hard to imagine Nadal losing to either countryman, but he could be sputtering somewhat heading into the final weekend.


    Murray's Quarter


    This is definitely not the most difficult quarter, but it also isn't the easiest. Murray has to open against formidable clay-courter Juan Ignacio Chela and could have some trouble with Mischa Zverev in round two and possibly either Radek Stepanek or Marin Cilic in the fourth round. The real danger to Murray, however, is Fernando Gonzalez. If Gonzalez is healthy, a scorching quarterfinal clash between Murray and Gonzo should be on the menu.

    Best First-Round Matchup — Wayne Odesnik vs. Gilles Simon. Odesnik is the only American I can think off whose favorite surface is clay. Simon, meanwhile, should be good on the slow stuff based on his style of play, but he simply is not. Furthermore, the world No. 7 has been in dismal form since reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Odesnik reached an ATP final at the beginning of this clay-court season (lost to Hewitt in Houston) and in his first appearance at the French Open in 2008, made it to the third round. You can never expect such a monumental upset, but if one Top 10 player goes out right away, this is where it will happen.

    Gaston Gaudio vs. Stepanek probably won't turn out to be the best match in this part of the draw, but at the very least it is one of the most intriguing. Gaudio, as a former champion (2004), will be a big draw in Paris until whenever he retires, especially since his triumph came in such dramatic fashion (came back from two sets down to beat heavily-favored Guillermo Coria 8-6 in the fifth). He remains the last man other than Rafael Nadal to win the French Open.

    Gaudio does not have a great chance against Stepanek, but he is actually playing pretty well during his comeback to tennis and Stepanek has cooled off bigtime since a torrid start to the season.

    What to Watch For — Gonzalez's early form. The draw could not have shaped up better for an on-fire Gonzalez. First and foremost, he is in the quarter everyone wants to be in (Murray's). In addition to that, his nearest fellow seeded player is a slumping Marat Safin and his nearest Top 10 player is a slumping Simon. This sets up perfectly for Gonzalez to reach the quarterfinals and quite possibly even the semis.

    The only real question mark is a possible ankle injury. Gonzalez pulled out of both Munich (two weeks ago) and Madrid (last week) citing that problem. In all likelihood, however, the Chilean probably just wanted some rest after playing—and winning—so many matches. If Gonzalez looks good in rounds one and two, albeit against soft competition, expect him to go a long way in Paris.


    Djokovic's Quarter


    There's Djokovic and Juan Martin Del Potro, and then there's everyone else. The rest of the seeds in this quarter are simply not going to put up much of a challenge; unseeded players could present more danger for Djokovic and Del Potro than the other seeds. Djokovic's first semblance of a test could come in the third round against either Juan Carlos Ferrero or Ivan Ljubicic. Del Potro could run into Juan Monaco in round four. Overall, Djokovic and Del Potro appear to be locked into a collision course for the quarterfinals.

    Best First-Round Matchup — Ferrero vs. Ljubicic. This is definitely the best all-unseeded matchup of the entire first round. Both players, although aging, are experiencing a bit of a resurgence after disappointing, injury-marred 2008 campaigns. Ferrero is a former French Open champion (2003) and he recently won a clay-court title in Casablanca. He is nowhere close to as hot as Ljubicic, however. The 6'4'' Croat has already reached quarterfinals in three Masters Series events this season, including two on clay.

    The matches might not turn out to be great, but there are plenty of other big-name matchups in this section. Monaco vs. Marcos Baghdatis looks awesome on paper, but Monaco is in outstanding form and should crush a reeling Baghdatis. Fellow Frenchmen and occasional doubles partners Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Julien Benneteau have to go head-to-head right away. Del Potro will have the crowd against him when he takes on Frenchman Michael Llodra, who reached the fourth round last year. Finally, Fabrice Santoro and Christophe will take their similarly different styles of play into a showdown that could easily last four or five hours.

    What to Watch For — Unseeded Cinderella stories. Only two of the seeds in this quarter, Djokovic and Del Potro, look anything close to unbeatable. The other six seeded players are completely ripe for an upset. With unseeded threats like Ferrero, Ljubicic, Monaco, Baghdatis, Benneteau, Santoro, and Andreas Seppi in this section, get ready for a ton of upsets and at least one or two unseeded players in the fourth round.


    Federer's Quarter


    This is—without question—the weakest quarter of a Grand Slam draw I have ever seen. Ever. And "weakest" is putting it nicely. You could also just call it "bad." There are only two remotely dangerous unseeded players in this section (Simone Bolelli and Jeremy Chardy) and seven of the eight seeds are seeds that any unseeded player would want to play. Americans Andy Roddick and James Blake have been just barely better than horrible on clay (and they have been especially inept at the French); Rainer Schuettler, Paul-Henri Mathieu, and Jurgen Melzer are all slumping; Gael Monfils is going to withdraw from the tournament due to injury; Tomas Berdych is arguably the most mentally-challenged of the 32 seeded players.

    Federer is going to win this quarter and reach the semifinals without any trouble, and there is a great chance he will do so without losing a set.

    Best First-Round Matchup — Simone Bolelli vs. Tomas Berdych. Both of these guys have Top 10 talent, but rarely does either one put it all together. Bolelli will have a slight edge in terms of surface, but Berdych showed off some clay-court prowess by winning a recent title in Munich. That, however, came at the expense of a weak draw and he had to win multiple matches in third-set tiebreakers. Bolelli looked awesome at times against Murray in Madrid, but still went down in straight sets.

    This is another one of those matchups that looks better on paper than it will probably end up being on the court. The chances of both Bolelli and Berdych playing great at the same time are slim. In all likelihood, one will play incredible tennis, one will play bad tennis, and the result will be a straight-set blowout. Either way, there will some spectacular shot-making.

    What to Watch For — Upsets. Federer is the only reliable seed in this entire quarter. There are going to be a ton of upsets, and it wouldn't even be that surprising to see Federer and three unseeded players as the last four remaining in this section.


    Overall


    Despite the fact that Nadal's road to the semifinals is unimaginably tougher than Federer's, you could still come up with a legitimate argument that Nadal got the better draw.

    Djokovic's placement in the field was easily the single-most important aspect of Friday's proceedings. In that respect, Nadal got lucky and Federer didn't. As a result, everything is in line for Rafael Nadal's fifth straight French Open title.

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Comments

Again. Fed got the easiest draw for a grand slam i have ever seen. Co incidence. I think not. I dont know, but you cannot consider a guy top 10 of all time, when he gets blake in a master sereis final (cincinnati 07) or Mark Philphousis in a grand slam final. Not to mention 35 yo agassi, roddick, safin, hewitt, 19 and 20 yo nadal murray and dojo.

ronaldinho , 5/22/09 7:53 PM


^^ here we go with the same old crappy drivel.
Anyway,
.Djokovic's quarter is not much to speak of either.
As for Nadal-He should have no problems disposing off everyone.Bigger names on Roland Garros clay are going to mean nothing for him.The only decent ones I see are Ferrer and Verdasco.
Murray-Much depends on how he's playing and how comfortable he is on the red clay.

janhavi , 5/22/09 8:07 PM


Ok I concede somewhat! If Ricky says Nadal's draw is "brutal', I'll believe him as he knows who is on top of their game or not. Yeah! Davydenko is back.

Still think all contenders in Rafa's draw will be on the receiving end of "brutal."

zoey234 , 5/22/09 8:14 PM


You nailed it Ricky! I can always count on you (and tennis talk) for the goods. I am really glad that Fed will have to earn his way into the finals (by meeting Novak)...

I think Murray may go down to Zverev, unless he really ups his clay play - I just don't seeing him doing anything here, but I hope he proves me wrong...

I think Rafa is gonna crush his Spaniard Buddies and Verdasco got as close as he is ever going to get to him in a major in Melbourne - but, hey, this is why they play the matches - can't wait!!!!

thefanchild , 5/22/09 8:14 PM


ronaldinho: could u be more specific on what u mean please? they r helping Fed?. if they were they would not put Nole on his side. why would they anyway?
so Ricky no analysis on semis?

niloofar , 5/22/09 8:14 PM


I got my wish: Nole on Roger's half. Just hope now that Nole makes it to the semi along with Roger. Rafa can't seem to escape Nando, can he? Played him last year. Different Nando then, though. Surely it'll be faaar more competitive.
Would've preferred if delPo was in Murray's quarter, though. I love their matches; so much spice...

But you're right, Ricky. Roger's quarter is beyond ridiculous. Who knows, though... Grand Slams do funny things to people.

tennisdeva , 5/22/09 8:21 PM


^ obviously Fed's a chump who's draws have been rigged all this while :D

janhavi , 5/22/09 8:21 PM


niloofar - this is just an analysis of the draw...not an analysis of specific matches at the end of the tournament.

I'll have that with my predictions in upcoming blogs.

RickyDimon , 5/22/09 8:25 PM


janhavi. We are not saying that fed is a chump. We are just saying that his stats are misleading when talking about top 10 or top 6 players of all time. Otherwise, no matter what, 13 grand slams, 15 masters 1000, 58 titles. Hell, that is just ridiculous.

ronaldinho , 5/22/09 8:27 PM


Seems to me that most of the better clay-courters are on Rafa's side and what ones are on Fed's side, he doesn't have to worry about because they will have to go thru Nole first before Fed.

fan4tennis , 5/22/09 8:28 PM


thefanchild, I completely agree with you about Rafa's Spanish mates and was typing the question:

Nadal lose to another Spaniard at Rolland Garros on the heels of being dismissed by Federer in Madrid?

No chance!!!

Of course, as a fed fan I have the heartfelt wish for Federer to add the RG winner trophy to his collection but.....

Ronaldhino. I would hate to believe anything is rigged. Is that what you believe?

zoey234 , 5/22/09 8:29 PM


I couldn't agree with Ricky more! Its a good thing that Nole balances out Roger's otherwise easy draw. I'm hoping that Nole doesn't waste energy dropping sets on his way to the semis, so that we see a real contest with Roger!

stu , 5/22/09 8:31 PM


Right on Ricky!!!!!!!.......i do agree that Fed's quarter is 'a walk in the park' up to the semis!!!!!.........but that seems to always be the case where Fed is concerned, esp when it comes to a GSlam!!!!

But guys......plz dont underestimate any player! (unseeded or poor claycourter) .......like tennisdeva said.....

"Who knows, though... Grand Slams do funny things to people."........and produce some unlikely outcomes!!!!

As far as im concerned I just hope Rafa takes it one match at a time.......and he wins his 5th consecutive French Open titles!!!!!!.......then he will be well on his way to be the undisputed GOAT!!!!!

MonaLisa , 5/22/09 8:32 PM


Hehehehee stu, you mean a real Nole-Roger contest like we saw recently in Miami? That was just lame tennis all the way around. It was pathetic.

What about that Bernie Tomic? He had some teenage troubles lately but I thought he was impressive at the AO.

zoey234 , 5/22/09 8:37 PM


As far as Nadal's quarter, I can't see underestimating Ferrer or Nando. Ferrer reached the final at Barcelona and Nando has imroved and offers a different game than before (along with being a lefty). Wawrinka has already beat Fed on clay this season and you can never count out Davydenko. Soderling..........Rafa would crush again in an instant--lol.

fan4tennis , 5/22/09 8:42 PM


This is a best of five sets tourney, from that point of view, Nadal should be able to win through to the final. Federer is a lucky old guy, but assuming that the big four (perhaps not Murray) should get to the semis, that is where the fight will start.

I am rooting for Rafa to get his 5th straight win, so

VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

carrie , 5/22/09 8:51 PM


Here we go again , Fed gets a cupcake draw and all the best clay courters are in Rafa'a half of the draw; he does seem to have to work harder than anyone, although I draw the line at implying Fed somehow rigged his draw !!





Nam1 , 5/22/09 8:54 PM


Hey guys do you know which half is playing on Sunday Nadals or Feds?

TopDog , 5/22/09 8:59 PM


I think you are deluded Nam1....No way has fed got an easy draw or a cupcake draw....ridiculous assumption...where on earth did you getthat from? Next you are going to be telling me that Rafa is gonna breeze through!!!!!!!!!!! No way..

Look out for Monaco..He is hot right now.

malteser1 , 5/22/09 9:23 PM


Ricky could be wrong ya'll. Or rather, overlooking an inspired darkhorse. This is a GS event and I am forced to agree with Monalisa about underestimating opponents.

However when I get an idea about someone like perhaps Delpo managing a surprise win uh...have to ask if Delpo or whoever is up to the 5 set marathon with Rafa. Who has the stamina and will.

I am not betting against Nadal in any match-up.

What is the weather forcast? Heat is no good for Nole. Wind not good for Fed:D



zoey234 , 5/22/09 9:26 PM


Rafa and Ana Ivanovic took part in the draw so it's not rigged, it's the luck of the draw as they say. Rafa will have his own back at Wimbledon. The easy draw is only good until the quarter final then the big boys will have to meet each other. Roger breezed through Wimbledon last year without breaking sweat, but Rafa went home with the title,

Let's face it, even if the draw was more even, both Rafa and Roger would most likely have made it to the semis or final anyway, it's just that Roger might not have to work so hard.

carrie , 5/22/09 9:41 PM


There are the usual streaky but potentially dangerous players. Like watch out if Gonzo is well, cocky Berdych, lefty Muller, my fav Baggy, Cilic, Ancic -nevermind, he must be rusty, or Marat Safin gets on a roll. Wasn't he retiring? Not that I hope he does.

All in all, aon closer inspection, it is Nole who got the princess draw! LOL

zoey234 , 5/22/09 9:49 PM


"What is the weather forcast? Heat is no good for Nole. Wind not good for Fed:D"

Zoey234.......you are so naughty.....but i like it!!!......hahahahahaha!!!

You forgot.......heights are no good for Rafa!!!......lol!!!

Isnt tennis just lovely?!!!!!

MonaLisa , 5/22/09 10:10 PM


^ malteser1: totally agree, Monaco is more dangerous this clay season than what Ricky made him out to be.

Delpo has started to beat the top 5, but I think the big man will be at a disadvantage playing 5 sets on clay.

fuzz , 5/22/09 10:25 PM


I wouldn't be so fast to jump to conclusions on who I'm discounting or not discounting. I simply analyzed the draw here. You will see my picks soon enough.

As I noted in this, though, I will have SEVERAL unseeded players in at least the fourth round.

RickyDimon , 5/22/09 10:36 PM


Funny, Peter Bodo has a very different take on Federer's draw and predicts he won't make the semis.
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/tennis/05/22/french.draw .ap/index.html?eref=si_tennis
although most of his argument is some superstitious notion that you only get 3 tries at something (e.g. betting Rafa in the FO final), he seems to back it up by saying that Mathieu, Berdych and Monfils are dangerous.

Bodo also puts Montanes in the semis...

I think Bodo is better for flaring post-match commentary than for predictive analysis. In fact his draw analysis is totally wacko. Go Ricky!

fuzz , 5/22/09 10:37 PM


^ sorry, wrong link to Bodo's draw. Here it is
http://tinyurl.com/qjjdfs

fuzz , 5/22/09 10:40 PM


BTW, for what it's worth,
-Federer won exo today against Stan
-Murray lost against Mathieu
-Nadal won against Llorda

fuzz , 5/22/09 11:02 PM


Lets not in any way think that what happened in Madrid is any indication that Nadal is not as sure a bet at RR as he has ever been. I am from Spain, and I will tell you, Madrid is not really "home" for someone from Mallorca. It was Verdasco's home. And the conditions were way different than Paris. RR is Rafa's "true home". There, the playing conditions are ideal for him. As for the rest of the field, including Roger we have little or no indication that they any farther along in conquering Rafa on clay, with the possible exception of Nole, but even so, there is Rafa on clay, and Rafa on the Frenh Open clay, and yes there IS a difference. So the final will either be Roger or Nole vs. Rafa and Rafa will prevail in straights just like he did last year.

grafight , 5/22/09 11:23 PM


So true grafight. This is for Nadal fans.....VAMOS RAFA!!!

Rafael Nadal: Here, I feel the ball
I don't want to compare Madrid with Roland Garros, because it's pointless. From the first moment I started training here, I found my sensations back, the ones that enable me to hit the ball with control, which wasn't the case in Madrid. There, the courts were fast, the balls were "flying". Besides, it's true that I didn't play well in Madrid except for a set and a half against Novak. I'm very happy to be here, everything is going well, I'm in shape. Regarding Roger and his victory. I have nothing special to say about it, you'd rather have to ask him about that."

http://www.welovetennis.fr/roland-garro ... s-la-balle

fan4tennis , 5/22/09 11:32 PM


Hey MonaLisa. Yep, you are on to me and right, I forgot to mention Rafa does not like the ground too high where he plays tennis. LOL

However I think it has been proven that he is just fine and comfortable at Rolland Garros!

Oh yeah, What is the only thing more lame and pathetic than Federer under windy conditions, Nole tennis in the sweltering Aussie heat and Rafa tennis above what, 5,000FT?

A French on French match!!! Still the most pathetic match-up ever had to be Monfils v Simon!!

Aw groan.....hehehehehehe

Gotta check out the link fuzz posted for Bodo

zoey234 , 5/22/09 11:55 PM


Personally, Federer did not luck out. People think it is conspiracy to have him make the final if so, he would have a tougher draw to toughen him up, and Novak would NOT be his semi opponent. I was honestly hoping Federer would have some good warm-up matches, not to threatening, not...lame?, inept? I don't want to insult them, since some of them are fabulous in general so maybe, clay challenged is a a better word. I suspect, Novak may go down to Federer though, the guy won the first set, and at a slam, I see Federer not losing the focus. However, I would say Novak was looooooking goooood against Nadal. I really think he deserved that.
Murray, will not even see Nadal in my opinion. Poor Andy...

Recordbreaks , 5/23/09 1:48 AM


nadal OWNS verdasco 9-0, how is that considred a hard QF?? someone like del potro wud be tougher, who at least has beaten him before. nando choked on a hard court, choked on a clay court (and that was for a set, not the match), and u think hes gonna be a challenge for rafa at RG? i think he will get about 3 games. as for wawrinka, hes a good player bt i dont think hes really much of a threat to anyone escept muzza - who is not in his draw. and ferrer... well i dont reaslly see anything coming from that. soderling? uve gotta be kidding. federer's draw may be a cakewalk 2 the semis, but for nadal ,his draw is a walk to the finals. this IS nadal we all talking about. i really dont see how hes gonna be tired or even drop a set, but we will see.

kaitepai01 , 5/23/09 4:26 AM


Recordbreaks, it's joke and not meant to insult Rafa, Roger or Nole personally. Just poking fun at the absurd defferential notion of offering each perfect conditions under which he can win their matches. I forgot the new one to me which was correct elevation for Rafa and Monalisa reminded me.

And Gilles Simon is one my favorite players as is Monfils. But their match-up at the AO this year was well, I have to say it: lame and pathetic display of what should be top level tennis. Might as well giggle about it now. There was an absence of discernable competitive fire. Made me hope they don't play against each other in a grand slam quarter again. And I really don't wish to see my favorite of favorites, RF play in wind again. A very silly absurd wish. Of course there will be wind. That's all.

zoey234 , 5/23/09 4:48 AM


Oh my bad grammar and sentence failure alert! Sentence should read: ... perfect conditions under which he can win his his match.

There. The end.

Goodnight all.

zoey234 , 5/23/09 5:15 AM


ricky..........you get sooooooooo prickly when people disagree with your analysis..This is a forum right? where people can disagree with you right?

I mean to be fair ricky.....yours and cheryl's predictions regarding rafa winning madrid were incorrect...right? I did ask cheryl if she wanted to comment on her predictions....but surprisingly...she didn't reply! Also....having seen an interview with rafa straight after the madrid match, where he said SPECIFICALLY....'I was NOT tired...Roger played BETTER than me....' and then for you to report that djokovic had 'almost' handed the match to roger and I think cheryl had said something about a thigh injury? Pah! ...I thought was really biased and unfair reporting......you could have said the same about verdasco at the AO, but rafa was able to beat roger...so there shouldn't be any excuses at all, mostly from the fans.....Roger is under no illusion that he is going in as the underdog to rafa....and I for one, feel that any of the early rounds can still be dangerous....I don't think for one moment that roger will go in being complacent...but his opponents will all feel that they have a shot against putting him out early, and then make their own name by 'beating the legend'.....Roger will be fully pumped and focused and raring to go....He has made it very clear that he wants to be the FIRST to challenge rafa and he MOST CERTAINLY does not underestimate Rafa's game on clay at the FO....the very idea is utterly ludicrous.

regarding a certain person on this thread...now saying that the draw isn't rigged....because it was carried out by rafa and anna.....yet on another thread she accused the draw of being rigged! tut...tut....tut...

this is a professional competition being run at the highest level...the very thought that this could be rigged is ludicrous.....it's always been the case that if roger (for some strange reason....always him).....has got an 'allegedly easier' draw that it must be a scam......some people cannot just accept that it really is 'the luck of the draw' to use a cliche.......having said that...whatever the draw, I always feel that the early rounds are the most dangerous, whoever the opponent is.....

There can be easily be some early shockers.....Fed is right up there in terms of reaching the final....his record in slams is unmatchable.....

Go Fed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

malteser1 , 5/23/09 9:12 AM


ronaldhino...as carrie pointed out on another thread...the draw was made by rafa and anna ivonesovic ('scuse spelling)...so how could it be rigged......????? as janhavi said you speak 'crappy drivel' sometimes......

malteser1 , 5/23/09 9:27 AM


malteser. I am not going to come down to your level and i think ricky wont either. People like you , drad ppl to their level and then make them feel bad.

Plus. I think you have completely lost your mind. bEing a pro sports does not indicate that it cant be rigged. There is more to it then you see on television you dope. How can you be so dumb. There is rigging in all sports, dont know about tennis but to some extent there is.

ANd nadal saying that fed played better than him, does not indicate whether he was tired or not. He was tired, and that is why fed was able to play better than him.

Not taking any credit away from fed, after all, its not feds fault that nadal was tired. Nadal should ve been more serious in the semi and should ve finished it inside 2 hours.

Anyway. Federer is a great player no doubt but when comparing with other legends like Agassi, Lendl and Sampras, He just falls short, easy draws, stupid players for most of his so called 4 year dominance.

Sampras had agassi all his life on his heels. Lendl had many, borg had many, laver had many. Who did federer have? Roddick? safin? hewit. rofl. Gimme a break.

ronaldinho , 5/23/09 10:00 AM


I can see that everyone is getting the M.Treatment. When did I say the draw was rigged???? I said Rafa had Karlovic, and Roger had the Americans. I said very early on that Rafa was going to Paris to take part in the draw, how would I then say it was rigged.

Anyway, Rafa said after Madrid that he wasn't very tired but that it was difficult to play Roger when you are not 100%.

carrie , 5/23/09 10:16 AM


ronaldinho-by taking credit from Federer you actually insult Nadal
By your logic -None of Nadal's four RG slams are credible at all.There were no Djokovic or Murray to ' trouble' him till 07( although I still cant see how they are providing him such great competition..nothing out of the world if you aske me).About the same and Murray is yet to prove himself at slams.) and as you said Fed as it is falls short when compared to Laver and Sampras et al.Plus,Roger's an all-court player and the surface where he performed his best in those years was always HC followed by grass.
Note-This is your utterly flawed logic against your own boy.Tit for tat.You underestimate Roddick-Who just beat Djokovic twice and who has a slam unlike Murray and who's been in the top 10 for last ten years.Safin-Who has two slams,spanked Djokovic at Wimbledon and in his good years was one of the most talented players on the circuit.Hewitt-Who again has two slams which right now even Djokovic dosent and Nadal-Who according to you was too young but nevertheless, an early bloomer whatever you say and was picking up FOs and reaching Wimbledon finals.
If you're talking about current status-Murray aint that young ..he was good enough to reach USO finals where Fed beat him fair and square no matter how hard you try to argue that. Djokovic won a slam last year and reached USO finals in 07.So even then Fed beat him fair and square.
You argument fails when you say Fed beat young players like Murray Djok in his early years-You forget that tennis is a young man's sport ;D and both Murray and Djokovic were pretty good when Fed beat then at slams where it counted.

janhavi , 5/23/09 10:57 AM


please everyone stop saying it's rigged...so what u count Wawrinka,Karlovic,Ferrer as threats.Roger beat Karlovic in Rome,he also beat Stan yesterday...I bet Roger would have guys like Karlovic and Stan on his draw,but Novak on the other side!!the worst thing for Fed was having Nole on his side which he has now.please don't make accusations when u have no document.

ronaldinho:
in this GS and the past 2 Roger had Novak on his draw,it's not his fault that Novak retired in AO to make an easy path (according to u) to finals for Fed.or it was rigged??!! besides ,u said that Roger falls short compared to great players like agassi and Sampras. here is a qoute:"Roger is playing a level I have never seen before" u know who it is from,don't u ?? it's from Agassi(somehow these words),so he puts Roger higher than Pete.Hewit and Agassi were not weak competitors,but Roger was doing pretty well at that time.he did not have the competition Sampras had, that's for sure,but a player's skills could be evaluated by experts in any case,and former great players such as Rod Laver,Sampras,Agassi consider Fed as one of the best. Pete names four guys as the best ever:"Sampras,Rod Laver,Borg,Federer" and not the ones u mentioned.

Ricky: u r right,I'm sorry!

niloofar , 5/23/09 11:07 AM


quote......'malteser. I am not going to come down to your level and i think ricky wont either. People like you , drad ppl to their level and then make them feel bad.

How on earth can lil' ole me make YOU or ANYONE ELSE feel bad..?....You give me far too much credence and power honey...I am a nobody in anyone's life here......so if you feel bad or anyone else, it is because of YOU/THEY and how YOU/THEY deal with it.....the power of choice 'n all that...so you mustn't project any outcome on someone else. You take responsibility for your own thoughts and reactions....No one else...certainly not me....

'quote.....ronaldhino......'Plus. I think you have completely lost your mind. bEing a pro sports does not indicate that it cant be rigged...'unquote...

ronaldhino....easy tiger......if anyone brings this thread down it's yourself a long with a certain other person...In terms of ricky's and cheryl's comments. They got the predictions wrong....it was there for all to see......I asked for cheryl to comment on her prediction. she chose not to....that is not to degrade what she said...just to say that we can ALL get things wrong sometimes and it takes a bigger man to admit it...simple as that.

Furthermore......my comment was as a response to yours about rigging...it never crossed my mind actually that rafa/roger/novak'S games could be rigged? Because of the way that 'invited guests' do the draw.....unless of course they are 'in on it'....may be my mind isn't that macavellian?.....perhaps it is in my naivity....but I guess because in terms of tennis being a 'clean' sport on the whole, I think tennis comes out squeaky, when you compare with rugby baseball n football......despite the current woes of gasquet.....


so really ronaldhino....do me a favour, and look at the comments that you spread on this page and the ripple effect that you use...oh so effectively...especially when you talk about fed......thank god for janhavi for putting you right, or does she also bring things down to a lower level when she talks about federer...I'm surprised you even put me 'on a level'....just a chatty blogger really.....enjoying the debate and the convo....you can choose to ignore what I say or to respond....it's called a democracy...right? You cannot expect tho' to say some of the things you do and then reduce them to a level that ONLY YOU can do my friend, and expect others not to respond....silly theory really.....

I think niloofar also kinda put a defence forward in terms of your comments...so does he/she bring things down to a level, tiger? or is it that just YOUR comments count? Yeah...right...that's fair!

malteser1 , 5/23/09 11:41 AM


malteser: although I agree fans shouldn't take any credit from Fed's win, I do think Rafa was not at his best...and he did say that playing 4 hours a day before did not help....
I mean Fed was brilliant and deserved to win,ppl should stop saying he won 'just' because of Rafa being tired, but it's inarguable that Rafa was not at his very best and Roger said that this loss won't affect him at all for FO,and he will be 'rock solid again'...

niloofar , 5/23/09 11:44 AM


niloofar I absolutely agree with everything that you have just said above honey, it is just irritating when this is brought up time and time again....it could always be raised that whoever played the longer match in any tourney, that the next game is always gonna be affected...part of the job...right? but to keep banging on and on about it, just kind of undermines what great athletes all tennis players are...that's the angle I am coming from niloofar...none other.....

previous post....spelling of machiavellian...corrected....apologies....

niloofar......it's the same argument that murray had at USO last year, that he won against rafa in semi and therefore that was the reason why he lost to roger in the final....after a while it kind of gets tiresome....

anyways....should there be a novak v fed semi at RG.....then that is gonna be an E-P-I-C...right? so whoever wins.........GOOOOOOO ROGEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRR!!! is gonna be at a disadvantage in the final...right???....it's just all swings and roundabouts.....see what I mean?

malteser1 , 5/23/09 11:50 AM


malteser: cool down honey!! these discussions on rigged draw and...are ridiculous!! just watch RG and enjoy!! (I hope u enjoy more by seeing Roger do well)

niloofar , 5/23/09 11:54 AM


I totally understand what u mean malteser,there was no chance to enjoy the Madrid tiltle due to these discussions. and yes: GO ROGER!! I just want to enjoy the sport,let's cool down on it.

niloofar , 5/23/09 12:01 PM


niloofar.....as a greek lady....I have PASSION....for EVERYTHING in life.....my gorgeous father who adores tennis....especially bagdhatis.....Go Marko!!!!!!!!!!!! (family joke)......PASSION for federer.......Go........Roggerrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!! How is it that Brits can be cool about sport? It's so intense....mostly brings all cultures together to celebrate great athletes......Fed all the way..................Hot! Hot! Hot! like the cypriot weather!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

malteser1 , 5/23/09 12:33 PM


Hi, I'm new here (and quite new to watching tennis). I never know when to start commenting because the fan rivalries here just go on and on =) but there's been talk of rigging of the RG draw, I found the process on the RG website: "On Friday 22 May at 11.30 am at the Club des Loges, the draw for the men's and women's singles tournaments will be carried out, with reigning champions Rafael Nadal and Ana Ivanovic drawing the seeds by hand. The remaining 96 players in each tournament will then be drawn electronically. Follow the draw live on rolandgarros.com as the players' names appear one by one in the two sets of brackets!"
Link: http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/news/articles/2009-05-19/20090519124 2746332359.html

Hope this clarifies anything

:)

p.s. I should probably put it out there that I'm a nole and nadal fan (in that order) but not from serbia, or europe for that matter...

EYC , 5/23/09 1:02 PM


wow ...i came back to find out nole in fed's half ....and i was thinkin to myself the rafa fans must be happy ...and im happy cos when feds wins, finally this time they wont give any more excuses ....boy , was i wrong !! ..now you guys are complaining about him having a tough quater and fed having an easy one ...we have completely forgotten bout nole being in fed's half have we ...
i dont think nadal will loose but this insurance policies his fans start taking out prior to his matches are just getting annoying .

NADAL will make it to the final !!! his fans know it so stop saying that he will have a lot of competition ..will be tired ....knee caps might fall out and etc etc .... how long he plays the semifinal and how he decides to play in the final its all his doing !!! enough with the excuses .

As for the other half....we do not know what will be happening . Fed , Djoker ? we dont know ...Im of course routing for fed ...but if he does loose its all his fault ...not cos he is tired ...not cos he had a tough semi or any of that crap ...unless the organisers make him play an extra match that no one else played....i wont complaint . at the same time ...if he wins ...its also ALL HIM !! not cos the opponent was tired and all that rubbish...

GO ROGERRRRRRRRRRRR !!!!




fedexfan , 5/23/09 1:05 PM


Yeah, let's not give any more excuses. No more mention of mono, back, bad light, wind, etc. And no crying too!

danny , 5/23/09 1:23 PM


welcome here EYC...me too a nole and rafa fan..........but i love the latter more

wat is he name of the qualifier that rafa is playing??? does nyone have a idea??

vrael , 5/23/09 1:57 PM


danny boy!!!!!!!! my main man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lots of crying please danny....lots and lots....lots of tears from everyone when they win especially....show as much emotion as possible......oh yes......the crowd will be there for all of our players and the emotion will be riding high...so no limitations....all the emotion and passion of the game should explode on the court...........and beyond!!!!!!!!!

Go Rooooogggeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

malteser1 , 5/23/09 2:06 PM


Here's a little taster before Ricky's analysis from Jon wertheim........

The resurgent Roger Federer is still chasing after his elusive French Open title.


SI.com's Jon Wertheim breaks down the men's and women's seeds at the French Open. Read on for the top first-round matchups, dark horses to watch and his predicted winners.

Top 16 seeds
1. Rafael Nadal: Sure, he could have done without the Madrid result. But let's be honest here: The four-time champ has never lost a match at Roland Garros. His record in sets: 82-8. Absurd. Until proven otherwise, he remains the overwhelming favorite. This may be the best clay-court practitioner ever. Sit back and enjoy.

2. Roger Federer: The plot got a bit more interesting after the unexpected -- and unexpectedly easy -- win over Nadal in Madrid. Still, an awful lot of stars have to align for Federer to take down Nadal in Paris. Plus, he'll get an early test against Alberto Martin.

3. Andy Murray: So hot after Key Biscayne in early April, Murray has, well, slid a bit on clay. Assuming he gets past Juan Ignacio Chela, an unpleasant first-round opponent, Murray ought to cruise for a few rounds. Still, it's unlikely his much-anticipated Slam breakthrough will occur here.

4. Novak Djokovic: The Djoker has played Nadal close, closer and closest on clay this spring. But he still was unable to get his first clay-court win over the Spaniard. Along with Federer, Djokovic is the "next-best pick" after Nadal. But where does that get you?

5. Juan Martin del Potro: A second-round loser last year, JMDP opens against French lefty Michael Llodra, a potentially tricky one. The Argentine is a former French Open junior champ and can play on clay. Certainly in the "if you had to pick someone other than Nadal" cluster.

6. Andy Roddick: Track record speaks for itself. Since 2002, he's won two matches at Roland Garros and none since 2005. On the other hand, he acquitted himself well in Madrid and sure can't complain about his draw. No threat to win, but don't be surprised to see him in the middle weekend.

7. Gilles Simon: Possesses the precise, patient, physically efficient game to do well on clay. Unfortunately, Simon looked like a journeyman in his tune-up events -- five losses in nine matches, none to a top-30 foe. Plus, as the highest-ranked Frenchman, he comes in with loads of pressure.

8. Fernando Verdasco: Powerful lefty is coming off a semifinal showing in the previous Grand Slam, the Australian Open. He's shown he's a capable top-10 player, able to reach the quarterfinal rounds. But does he believe he can compete for the biggest prizes? In this case, Nadal looms in the round of eight.

9. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: The body is always an issue and not much momentum coming in. A shame since the view here is that he's the best of the French brigade. We eagerly await a possible quarterfinal encounter with del Potro.

10. Nikolay Davydenko: Given his health issues in 2009, even if he makes it to his first match against veteran Stefan Koubek, you have to believe the Russian -- though a former semifinalist -- will be making only a cameo.

11. Gael Monfils: Still in the draw as of this writing, though bad knees + clay = disaster. A surprise semifinalist to crowd's delight in 2008. The best pure athlete in the game is a threat on physicality alone. But his frail state is cause for concern.

12. Fernando Gonzalez: Your guess is as good as his. (Though he might get to third round without having to face a top-100 foe.)

13. Marin Cilic: A bit of a sophomore slump for lanky Croat. But, particularly given his draw, he could make a run.

14. David Ferrer: Haven't heard much from most fit player in the game. Not a threat to win a major, but the type of grinder no one relishes facing. Too bad he's in Nadal's pocket of the draw.

15. James Blake: Has finally shown some life lately -- on clay, no less! -- and couldn't ask for a kinder and gentler early draw, with a qualifier and then the Andrei Pavel-Tommy Haas winner. But we all know the history here.

16. Tommy Robredo: Looks like another year of "win a few rounds and then bow out in the middle weekend."

Seeds 17-32
17. Stanislas Wawrinka: Yes, the "other Swiss" beat Federer on the clay of Monte Carlo. And he is a former French Open junior champ. But he still needs to prove himself in a major.

18. Radek Stepanek: Usually plays well at majors -- a good big-match player in general.

19. Tomas Berdych: This generation's Marat Safin. He's as good as he wants to be.

20. Marat Safin: Just to be safe.

23. Robin Soderling: Sulking Swede posted fine results lately.

25. Igor Andreev: Like Safin, a Russian with Spanish ties and clay-court skills.

31. Nicolas Almagro: Haven't heard much from hefty Spaniard in 2009.

Dark-horse nation
Albert Montanes: Little-known Spaniard comes in on hot streak.

Juan Monaco: "The Principality" (the sport's best nickname) is on his surface of choice.

Viktor Troicki: One of the better players you may never have seen. Unfortunately, del Potro looms in second round.

Ernests Gulbis: A thoroughly forgettable 2009 so far, but the slide has to end at some point. Doesn't it?

First-round matches to watch
Ivo Karlovic vs. Lleyton Hewitt: It's Wimbledon 2003 all over again.

Gulbis vs. Sam Querrey: Cruel draw for both.

Wayne Odesnik vs. Simon: Odesnik the rare American who thrives on clay.

Juan Carlos Ferrero v. Ivan Ljubicic: Former champion against former semifinalist.

Blue-plate upset special: Bobby Reynolds over a hobbled Monfils.

Doubles winners
Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic: Defending champs have been getting it done on clay.

Semifinals
Nadal vs. Total Surprise (Montanes?)

Djokovic vs. Federer

Final
Nadal vs. Djokovic

Champion
Nadal

To order a copy of Jon Wertheim's' new book, Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played, click here.




malteser1 , 5/23/09 2:15 PM


Thanks Vrael =)
The qualifier is Marcos Daniel from Brazil...dunno anything about him though...

EYC , 5/23/09 2:32 PM


danny...we constantly start arguments that r totally irrelevant to the topic,but I can't help answering this one. I won't say anything on the mono and back issue,because it's a matter of each person's point of view how to take them and I know I can't convince u.but about that wind,since Miami I've been so frustrated that anti-feds keep mentioning the wind excuse...read the interview transcript.
the 'interviewers asked' about the wind,and roger just sayed that (paraphrasing): "when a player takes the upper hand,and the conditions r windy it's hard for the otther one to regroupe...but it was the same for both players...he managed the wind better..." do u see any excuse???? honestly,do u?

malteser: of course it's great to have passion and I do support my favorite with passion,I just thought you're getting frustrated...that's all!! go on with passion!:)

niloofar , 5/23/09 3:00 PM


malteser. I think you are completely mistaken. I am not complaining about you responding to my comments. I am just saying that , not to use some offensive words that you use in your comments directed at the other commenter. Make your point and then wait for the reply, instead of insulting others.

AS for jhanvi. Look, you dont seem to understand. You cant take nadal in, as It is always fed who is moaning about his losses and talking high about his achievements and many a times, is self proclaimed "the best player". Nadal has never done that, and nadal is not considered for the GOAT cuz he is too young.

What i was saying was that, AS COMPARED to sampras and others, fed had a weak spot. YOu talk about hewitt? against which players did hewitt win those titles? You talk about Safin, I think everyone knows that, yes he did have the potential but after his first slam, kinda lost it all with the leisures of being a top player with all the clubs and all.


He made far too many unforced errors and kinda handed matches to his opponents. Just have a look at his win loss ratio. You talk abou nadals credit being taken away. I dont know how you come up with that logic. He beat federer in all his slams so that kinda kills of what you started as an emotional war .

I am not trying to fight here. So you can be a bit "NOT A HOT HEAD" while presenting your points.

Excuse me, Djokovic retired. Roddick didnt beat him at the slam. Plus, though nadal was winning and murray too. These were far too young as compared to fed, like half a decade younger, so they maturity level was a little less, when it came to playing the right tactics at the righ tmoments of a grand slam final.

And hewitt and roddick have thos slams because there were no nadal, feds to take em all. That is why Djokovic doesnt have more. Dont try to mislead here. Everyone can see that, the RODDICK HEWITT JUAN CARLOS era was the dark era of tennis with no ONE player dominating and each had such obvious weaknesses.

That is what i am saying for all of rogers slams. His opponents had such obvious weaknesses, some couldnt move well, some had weak backhand, some were mentally broke and some didnt know how to hit winner.s

Look at nadals, murras and djoovics game. Hardly any weakness at all, if there is a weakness in their game, its to the minutest of levels, like federers. That is the reason why they compete with fed so much.

Pluys, saying that Murray was good enough to reach this and that. THat is a bit not true as, we all know that Tennis players reach their peak from 23 to 28, and murray nadal dojo were way behind when they lost in the finals to fed, while fed was above 23.

Note- MUrray had like less than 24 hours to recover after his match against rafa in us open 2008 while fed had 2 and a half days off. Strange..... I think not.

PLus, they had two main courts, Scheduled for two semi finals, knowing that there would be rain, yet they delayed rafa's matchby one hour although there was no match being played on it and in that time, feds match was still going on.

Coincidence. I think not.


ANd niloofar, Sampras is not like THE ONLY AUTHORITY. ALot of people consider lendl to be the best ever, Connors and plenty more, each have their own arguements though it can be said that majority say those four names.

ronaldinho , 5/23/09 3:00 PM


RG is yet to start but I am doused already by the constant flooding of malteser1. Woman reserve some energy for the main event wilya?

Raindrops , 5/23/09 3:03 PM


lols Raindrops. Good point, Though one is this malteser and jhanvi, they get frustrated so much and so early. Doesnt come as a surprise that both are women.

ronaldinho , 5/23/09 3:05 PM


hhehe...ronaldinho ....that was uncalled for....but u had me smiling there for a bit ( im a guy malt & janhavi , sorry ! )

fedexfan , 5/23/09 3:17 PM


lolz. What exactly do you mean there :) fedex

ronaldinho , 5/23/09 3:30 PM


easy tiger....ronaldhino....quick quote here from you...(and by the way...I am smiling as I type this....)...not to use some offensive words that you use in your comments directed at the other commenter. Make your point and then wait for the reply, instead of insulting others.

Pray tell what are my offensive words? I know not what you mean?..seriously.....
Honestly...you don't know me, you read words black and white on a screen, with no tone....I do the same...and I admit sometimes things may come across as more than they are.....I dont think I have purposefully insulted anyone....in fact, I could say the same in terms of people having a go at me when I defend my fed.....rightly so...there seem to be more trash talk with fed than for any other player.....

so really.....yeah...it's liberating to be an emotional woman...I love it....I'd hate to be an automaton, robot with no passion for life, for tennis, for danny, you know.....
I could also ask you ronaldinho to watch what you say.....your comments can be very disparaging and yet you don't see that about you? May be you are 'joking?' I don't know...even so....no offence intended to anyone.......unless of course I have to defend myself....hey...what did Jacko say...'I'm a lover, not a fighter'! tee hee!!!!!

and ronaldhino...do you wanna be with a woman with no emotion? but I smiled when I saw your comment on Jan and me being women.....no offence take at all.

raindrops....hi! my arch enemy!!!!! no constant flooding...It's just day time....!!!!! so have come out to play.......am sure you will flood the thread as soon as RG comes alive...hey tiger?

malteser1 , 5/23/09 3:35 PM


Vamos Rafa!!!!!!!

Rafa believes in hard work, so he'll know that he's got his work more cut out than others so he'll be ready for the task. This is not the first time he has had a tough draw. Roger breezed through Wimbledon last year until the final, and look what happened. If Rafa is meant to win RG this year, he would, no matter who he plays to do it, and if Roger is meant to win it he would also. Both players usually make it to the SF or final anyway, except that Rafa may have to work a bit harder, but he has beaten all these people before, so why shouldn't he do it this week?

I just keep my hopes up and wish Rafa all the best!!!

VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!!!!

carrie , 5/23/09 3:36 PM


"Doesnt come as a surprise that both are women" ...thats what i meant ronaldinho ....and i believe malteser has responded to that :)

btw malt +jhavi ....i love your passion for tennis ... ......GO ROGER !!!! ...or in 'his' words ....COME ONNN!!!!!! :)

fedexfan , 5/23/09 3:48 PM


Vamos Rafa!!!!!!!

Here is another very interesting analysis:


The Paris Parse
Posted 05/22/2009 @ 6 :24 PM

Another year, another hotly debated, highly anticipated French Open men?s tournament. And in the end, another foregone conclusion, right? It?s remarkable how much anticipation remains for these two weeks despite the fact that since 2005 they've been controlled, more tightly each year, by one player. Did we look forward this way to Wimbledon during the often-stultifying reign of Pete Sampras? Yeah, I guess we did. The remote but dumbfounding possibility of seeing the king deposed, like the possibility of buying a winning lottery ticket, keeps us coming back for more against our better judgment.

This year, the possibility that Rafael Nadal will not win the French Open feels just about as remote as it has the last few springs, which is to say, distant. But it feels a little more plausible than it did a week ago, before Roger Federer proved that the Spaniard can be beaten on clay. Granted, it took a four-hour match the day before and an altitude he didn?t like, but the point is, it happened. There are 127 players lined up below Nadal on the French Open drawsheet who will try to make it happen again. Who has a chance?

First Quarter

In his presser today, Nadal sounded happy to get back down closer to sea level, where, according to him, the ball doesn?t fly off the strings so haphazardly. Separating Paris and Madrid so distinctly in his mind is probably a good strategy; it will allow him to think of his loss on Sunday as an aberration rather than a harbinger. And instead of rattling him, I think it will make him come out with a fighter?s, rather than a defender?s, mindset. He has a little bit to prove again, which isn?t a bad thing.

Who or what stands out in Nadal?s section of the draw? Actually, kind of a lot, now that I look at it. There?s a Hewitt-Karlovic opener that could provide him with his third-round opponent?neither is a gimme, though neither is as dangerous as he used to be. After that, there?s fellow clay dog Ferrer, who pushed him hard for a set in Barcelona; Davydenko, another dirtballer who has troubled Nadal on the surface and has reached the French semis; Wawrinka, a solid Top 20 kind of guy; Almagro, a flashy but perpetually disillusioning fellow Spaniard who was drubbed here by Nadal in 2008; and Verdasco, a, um, flashy but perpetually disillusioning Spaniard who was drubbed here by Nadal in 2008.

This could be a slog for Rafa, but would he want it any other way?

First-round match to watch: Gulbis vs. Querrey

Semifinalist: Nadal

Second Quarter

With that many strong players migrating to the top of the draw, Andy Murray has been left with, on paper at least, fairly easy pickings. Lopez, Stepanek, Cilic, Gonzalez, Safin, Hanescu (?), and Simon are the other seeds here. Of those, Gonzo is most likely to succeed. This is a positive for Murray, who has shown his lack of total acclimation to clay since Monte Carlo, at which point I thought he might be the biggest threat to Nadal in Paris. Now, just a couple weeks later, his passive game seems to leave him vulnerable to heavy hitters, like Monaco and del Potro, his recent conquerors, who can hit through the court more easily than he can. Murray will face one of those guys, sorta, in the first round when he plays Juan Ignacio Chela.

Wildcard to watch while you can: The last pre-Nadal French champ, Gaston Gaudio

Semifinalist: Gonzalez

Third Quarter

It seems like old times, doesn?t it, wondering which side of the draw Novak Djokovic will fall on? It makes a certain cosmic sense that he and Federer get each other?Djoko and Nadal must be sick of each other?s faces at the moment. The Serb is in high form again and would make a fine sleeper pick to win it all. He believes in his fitness, he?s found that precious and precarious balance of control and aggression, and he realizes that he?s a cut above the pack, a fact that seemed to escape him for a few months there.

Which members of that pack will be chasing him? First there?s del Potro, who I would consider a threat except that he?s never taken a set from Djokovic, or even reached a tiebreaker?the Serb seems to relish facing him. Other than that, we?ve got Tsonga, a home fave who has never won a match at Roland Garros; ex-champ J.C. Ferrero; the savage forehand of Igor Andreev, and, buried far from Djokovic, Monaco, who opens against Marcos Baghdatis.

Player to watch for the last time in Paris: Fabrice Santoro, who opens with C. Rochus

Player to watch for the first time in Paris: Bernard Tomic, who opens with Kohlschreiber

Semifinalist: Djokovic

Fourth Quarter

There are some names to consider in Roger Federer?s quarter?Berdych, Blake, Monfils, Roddick?but are there any threats to the three-time finalist? The only one who sticks out as of now is Berdych, who was up two sets to love against Fed in Australia. So he is a possibility, but they wouldn?t play each other until the fourth round, plenty of time for Federer to find his footing on Chatrier, a court he has had to learn to tolerate over the years.

Federer seems more relaxed in Madrid than he has all year. The racquet-bashing was out of his system for the moment, and I think he feels like he has a shot at the whole thing after not just beating Nadal on clay, but doing it on his terms, and doing it without playing his absolute best. The bottom line? Federer doesn?t lose before the semis, of any Slam.

Semifinalist: Federer

Semifinals: Nadal d. Gonzalez; Djokovic d. Federer

If Federer and Djokovic face each other, it will be a battle of two players who come in with a lot of confidence, and a lot of confidence that they can beat the other guy. Djokovic must feel like he?s figured out a rope-a-dope method of coaxing Fed to self-destruct, while Federer must feel like he?s in good enough form to put their last two matches behind him and exact revenge on a cocky whippersnapper who has always bugged him. But I think the stronger self-belief, as well as the more natural clay-court game, belongs to the Serb.

Final: Nadal d. Djokovic in straights

VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!!

carrie , 5/23/09 3:54 PM


fedexfan......sky....jan....zoey....niloofar.....RG awaits.....

carrie.......am sure that Roger will give it the best shot of his life so far........as will rafa.....

but Roger to win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
GOoooooo ROogggggerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!! Whoop! Whoop!.....diddly do dah day.........feel sick now...........

malteser1 , 5/23/09 3:57 PM


Lolz. Nadal lost to world number 109 in a single set match 7-5 in Paris. HAHAHAH.

Is this of any concern guys?

ronaldinho , 5/23/09 3:58 PM


ronaldhino.......gonna be some shockers....the first round is always a scary time for every player as you well know....having said that......when do you nadaliers think that rafa's knees are gonna give?

malteser1 , 5/23/09 4:02 PM


4 years after fed retires. Oh wait. Nadal is almost 5 years younger. Oh yeah, 5 years after fed retires.

ronaldinho , 5/23/09 4:07 PM


Fed's 'easy' slam wins against safin,roddick 30 year old agassi, bla bla bla is to be blamed on Nadal not able to get into the final of other Slams other than RG losing out to people like Ferrer,gonzalez, tsonga to name a few and let's not forget the 2 winby wins against Nadal. I dont think there should be any debate on the level of field especially that Sampras beat the likes of Micheal Chang, Todd Martin, Cedric Pioline and also Nadal beat Marion Puerta to capture his 1st RG. Nuff said.

torres9 , 5/23/09 4:25 PM


Torrest9 . Nadal beat Federer in the Semi of 1st Rg. PLus, not 30 yo agassi, agassi wupped feds butt when he was 30. Agassi was 35 when fed beat em. PLus, which world do you live in. Micheal Chang, was a great player. Plus. Do you know how many times fed got punked when he reached 22. Go check wikipedia. 4rth round losses all the way. Nadal is gonna be 23, and we ll see, how many hard court finals he gets to.

If i take your logic. Then how come fed is in his downfall despite the fact that he is still beating the players (with ease) he used to beat the crap out of, in his 4 years of dominance? He is only loosing to more matured murray dojo and rafa. that alone proves my point.

ronaldinho , 5/23/09 4:41 PM


ronaldinho......first of all NEVER cite wikipedia as a source...it is unreliable, not validated and run by volunteers........fact of the matter is that Federer, much as you despite the guy, is well thought of for his tennis genius.....he may have lost more recently, but hell....he gotta give the other guys a chance...right?!!!! after all, I mean..uh hum.......for all the info you give about fed...he still beat enough of the 'young 'uns to reach the last 14 of the 15 majors....right? so I guess he can't be THAT over the hill, and I guess because he recently beat a 22 year old on clay...well...hell.....I guess he still in the mix...right?

I mean 27 is soooooo old.....the age of Nadal's knees must be what? 90 in terms of tennis years? right? you say fed is in a downfall? I guess because rafa lost madrid he is over? right? W-R-O-N-G-O!....fed had a lapse....for what? 9 months? many times other players would kill for Fed's 'awful' 2008...I mean winning a USO slam, double olympic gold and reaching final and 'almost'....and I say 'almost' because it could have gone either way as you well know........reaching the final of the GREATEST MATCH OF ALL TIME.....Wimby 2008.....as said by Johnny Mac, Nick Boterrelli....and other commentators of repute, so really...I don't think your argument holds.....And hey....Fed shows his consistency much more than others.

Has Djoker defended his only slam?
Has Murray won a slam?

I think not.

That is not to say that I don't think that one day they will...but they still have a lot to prove....Fed has proved his worth 13 fold and more....he is a B-E-A-S-T despite what you think....I think you are in a minority with your thinking....but wait...I hear a few other nadaliers out there who will agree with you......

You bring age into your posts a lot. Why? Isn't it about winning, irrespective of age? We have had this argument before in terms of sport and winning, Beckham, Dame Kelly Holmes, Colin Jackson...all in their mid 30's and beckham still going.......yet roger is only a baby at 27!!!!!!

I am not going to use any excuses for roger...I am just glad he is still out there giving us the best of his tennis and there is still more to come......

malteser1 , 5/23/09 5:06 PM


Oh my God are you for real. The arugments you bring are pathetic to say the least.

The only and I say, the only way , Federer could have beaten nadal on any surface was the one he got in Madrid. Plus, Your knee arguement is as dumb as hell.

Secondly, I dont know whats it gonna take to get it into your head. That i am just saying that Fed is not in the top 5 players of all time, he is definitely in the top 10 players of all time. That is what all i am saying.

ANd where does nadal come in this conversation? interesting to see how you have not answered any of my arguements rather put all the burden on nadal. I am not a nadal fan and I certainly do not think of his as a contender for GOAT, the GOAT discussion will never have anyone coming out on top. You can try all you want, but even if fed wins french open, gets to 20 slams. Still there will be people who will question him.

Its like the creation of the earth. No matter how many proofs you give, there will always be disagreements.

And I did not say fed is old. Stupid women. ahhhh. You know what. Your are really really stupid. And i am not going to waste even a second of my life on a stupid women who doesnt know what she or he (you sucking hermaphrodite) is talking about.

ronaldinho , 5/23/09 6:21 PM


Vamos Rafa!!!!!!!!!!

My main worry is that Murray is in Nadal's half of the draw, and Sky Sports viewers in the UK, you know what that means, if their matches clash we will have to watch Nadal on the red button!!!!!! No opportunity to record his matches, rewind, pause or anything.

They seem to think that everyone in the UK would prefer to watch Murray than Nadal....................WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

GRgrgrgrgrgrgr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

carrie , 5/23/09 6:36 PM


The Order of Play is on the website.

carrie , 5/23/09 7:12 PM


Vamos Rafa!!!!!!!!!!!!


Rafa is going to be in a pink polo shirt and grey check shirt, with matching bandana and wristband.

This is so exciting!

VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

carrie , 5/23/09 8:04 PM


carrie,I know what you mean.Eurosport international (and I mean international,not British Eurosport) is doing the same thing too. Especially in Roland Garros,they never give Rafa's matches if it clashes with another "important" match.

sisterofnight12 , 5/23/09 8:06 PM


Vamos Rafa!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I meant grey check shorts, not shirt!!!!!!!

Rafa says he has to win 7 matches to win the title. Rafans, lets take it one match at a time!! Forget about Ferrer, Verdasco etc. they won't meet until the second week. I believe in Rafa, I know he'll do his best.

Rafans are not for pride before a fall, lets remain calm, Rafa will do the rest.

VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

carrie , 5/23/09 8:14 PM


Ronaldinho, it's very easy to explain how Fed is whooping the guy he used to beat like Roddick, Safin, Hewitt. They get OLD too. Wow, you just showed your low level of reasoning there LOL. Calling malteser stupid and yet you just expose your stupidity there.

And the fact that Roddick still can beat Novak and also beat Rafa last year in Dubai shows that he's good enough to beat the upcoming rising stars. And how did you arrive that a 1-slam Micheal Chang is a great player. He's good but not any better than Safin or Roddick or Hewitt.

And how is Djoker Murray is more matured than Roddick,Safin or hewitt. Fact is they were young and had time to adjust to Fed's game b4 breaking through. Murray (0 Slams) took notes of how Nadal beat him. And Djoker is just a good attacker but I dont think he can beat a young Fed this consistently.

Your reasoning is flawed. GO study more.

torres9 , 5/23/09 8:26 PM


To Djoker fans, I do not hate Djok. In fact, his game is my second favourite to Fed. He's attacking play is what I love to see along with Fed.

torres9 , 5/23/09 8:29 PM


Vamos Rafa!!!!!!!!!!!!

The thing is all the players who are in Nadal's draw will not like it. They will be wishing they were in the bottom half, so it cuts both ways.

VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

carrie , 5/23/09 8:58 PM


just listened to borg's preview on RG....and he ALSO mentioned the fact that COMPETITION NOWDAYS is xtremely high!! according to him the level of competition is so high that its very tough to make predictions...overall he said roger can win bt rafa is the firm favorite and can win many more RG titles,aswell as many other grandslams as he can play on any kind of surface! VAMOS RAFA!!! 5th strait Rg wud be incredible as they say that RG is the toughest slam to win...said by borg/lendl/agassi.....

vamosrafa , 5/23/09 9:17 PM


Vamos Rafa!!!!!!!!!!

Bullish Nadal warns rivals

23 minutes ago

Reigning four-time champion Rafael Nadal has warned chief rivals Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic he has been playing "almost perfect" tennis in the run-up to the French Open.

With both British number one Murray and Djokovic showing signs of improvement on clay and world number two Federer buoyant after beating Nadal in the final of the Madrid Open last week, the pretenders to the Spaniard's Roland Garros throne are queueing up.

But Nadal is supremely confident of continuing his flawless record at a grand-slam event he has made his own over the past few years. "I am very happy about my clay-court season, very happy," the Mallorcan said.

"Winning in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome and reaching the final in Madrid makes it an almost perfect clay-court season.

"I am very happy with how I have been playing. And it's always a pleasure playing at Roland Garros - coming back here gives me a special sensation."

VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

carrie , 5/23/09 9:31 PM


Mind games.....


let the games begin.............

Goooooooooooo Roggeerrrrrrrrrrrrrr............!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

malteser1 , 5/23/09 11:03 PM


CAN ANYONE BEAT RAFA???
Candidates: W-L
FEDERER : 7-13
MURRAY: 2-7
DJOKOVIC: 4-14
VERDASCO: 0-9
FERRER: 3-7
TSONGA: 1-3
SIMON:1-3
DEL POTRO: 1-4
WAWRINKA: 0-4
DABUL: 1-0*********this must be the ONE!!!!

agf25agf , 5/23/09 11:41 PM


Unfortunately, he's in the other half of the draw!.....wait! The only chance he'd meet rafa is in the FINALS!

GO BRIAN!>>>>GO BRIAN!!!

agf25agf , 5/23/09 11:59 PM


I don't think an "easy" path for Federer to the semis will do him any good. He needs some good solid matches before he meets Nadal, and Djokovic for that matter. If Djoko gives Fed a hard time like what happened to Nadal in the Madrid semis, then we could be looking at another one sided final like last year.

cable , 5/24/09 6:36 AM


:)

fan4tennis , 5/24/09 8:17 AM


i wouldn't worry too much cable about Federer....he the most experienced, the most talented in terms of variety of shots and will work very hard to make this his first FO.....am sure that rafa will be waiting for him.....but roger will be the underdog so the only pressure put on roger will be from himself.....he will just go through each round focusing on that one only.....no point in looking too far ahead, he gotta get through the early rounds first......

Go Roooogggeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

malteser1 , 5/24/09 9:38 AM


agf25agf ....that stat you posted with verdasco 0 - nadal 9 ......normally ...looking at the trend...there will be one instance where verdasco is going to create a memorable upset ....hmm...could this be his time ? remember JMDP ? he had his shot ....maybe verdasco might have his now ...maybe ...

fedexfan , 5/24/09 12:20 PM


Hewitt/Karlovic

Karlovic won the first set in a tie-break, he is 5:4 up in the second, although Hewitt broke him, Karlovic broke back so it's going with serve. Karlovic has served 22 aces so far, Hewitt - 7. I am rooting for Hewitt, because I want Karlovic out so we can watch tennis, instead boring aces all the time.

carrie , 5/24/09 12:47 PM


karlovic won the first 2 sets wid his monster serve

come on hewitt u can do it!!!!!!!!!!!!

vrael , 5/24/09 1:21 PM


ronaldinho...your qoute:
"...as It is always fed who is moaning about his losses and talking high about his achievements and many a times, is self proclaimed "the best player". Nadal has never done that, and nadal is not considered for the GOAT cuz he is too young...."
ronaldinho , 5/23/09 3:00 PM

when did Fed claim he's the best ever??? during the AO he was asked who he thought was the best ever,and he said:"I think u will never know..." after winning the US open 2007 he was asked about Sapmras record,and he said that he 'hoped' he could win more than Pete but he was not sick ambitious about it....he did not bring the GOAT argument in,it was the fans,media,and former players..and if u did not mean the best 'eve'r he does not call himself the best current as well,he has said 1 millions of times that Rafa is the best at the moment.besides I did not say that Sampras is an authority I said he and other players who r actually experts in tennis vote for Fed as one of the best ever.
and about US open,don't bring up that excuse for murray.only ONE AND HALF set of his match with Nadal was delayed...does that make s.o. who deserved to win,lose in straight sets????(and I guess the delayed match was held on saturday,and the final on monday,u said he had less than 24 hours,I think not but I'm not sure..anyway it was not the whole match!!) none of your reports r complete,Roddick actually had almost beat Nole when he retired in AO... and so far I don't see for example Murray a more serious threat than Agassi,hewit,Roddick and Safin(I said so far,maybe he shows us more)... Fed is not in his best form,if he was in his 2004-2007 form I doubt u could count the current Murray a rival for him...
the discussion is totally irrelevant,everyone here are discussing the RG and look at us!! I already accepted that sampras had a more difficult competition,but today's competition is not that high level as well. and I think putting Fed in top 10 is a bit of underrating...I don't think there is a GOAT actually,I don't believe in it, but there are a group of the best evers and Fed is in the top 5,and this is not 'my' idea.

niloofar , 5/24/09 1:38 PM


Karlovic has served 44 aces and they are 3 all in the 4th set, please someone beat him before he gets to the 3rd round!!!

carrie , 5/24/09 2:19 PM


Vamos Rafa!!!!!!!!!!!

Karlovic is OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WELL DONE HEWITT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

carrie , 5/24/09 3:13 PM


niloofar.....the GOAT as you know is purely a subjective one....but you might be interested to read the following from an article published today.......where borg...in his MIGHTY opinion states that he thinks Federer is the best ever....

How can Roger Federer finally win the French Open?

It is the last unsolved mystery of men?s tennis. The Swiss has won every grand slam but this one. Each June in Paris Rafael Nadal thrashes him in the final. That fate looms again when the tournament starts on Saturday. And at 27 years old, Federer has few chances left.

So I solicited advice from Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and Serena Williams. Between them they have won 10 French Opens. They could charge fortunes in consulting fees. But Federer can get their wisdom for the price of today?s Financial Times.

When I asked Borg he chuckled, said, ?Errm?, and then paused. The Swede, now in elegant middle age, was sitting on a lawn a mile from the court where he won six French Opens. He recalled Federer?s humiliation in last year?s final. The Swiss had uncharacteristically rushed the net a lot, and was thrashed even harder than usual.

?You should always go out and play your own game,? said Borg. ?He cannot handle that particular game he played against Nadal.? Perhaps Borg was thinking of his own trauma. In the final of the US Open in 1981 against John McEnroe he uncharacteristically rushed the net a lot, and lost. Three months later he retired.

Borg said: ?People say it was because of John coming up, but it was not because of John. It was because I was losing my interest, my fun, my enjoyment. Federer still has the motivation. Even today I regard he is the best tennis player ever to play the game.?


enjoy niloofar...am off to watch some tennis now....

malteser1 , 5/24/09 4:58 PM


malteser!! I loved it ...thank u!!:D although I said I don't believe in the GOAT thing, honestly it feels good to hear the former players calling Fed the GOAT!! thanks,enjoy!!

niloofar , 5/24/09 5:22 PM


not just THE FORMER PLAYER niloofar....but we are talking about BJORN BORG here......five times wimby champ.....5 or 6? times french open champ.....and forever a champion....to hear HIM comment on how B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T Fed is and regard Fed as THE B-E-S-T- E-V-E-R is truly an accolade.....

malteser1 , 5/24/09 5:50 PM


Maybe he meant "the best ever.....before Rafa". :-)

danny , 5/24/09 6:18 PM


sure malteser!! :D :D
thank u danny but Borg does not need interpretations. u did not respond to my post which was directed to u,will u??tnx.

niloofar , 5/24/09 6:23 PM


Yes Malteser1! Read the piece in FT.com (financial times) last night. Great to hear how and why both Matts and bjorn would like to see Federer win RG and especially the why part!

zoey234 , 5/24/09 6:45 PM


Which was that again, niloofar?

danny , 5/24/09 6:50 PM


danny...it was 5/23/09 3:00 PM,but it's quite out of the topic,I justed wanted u to read it(u had posted a comment on the 'excuse' issue )....really out of the topic!!:D

niloofar , 5/25/09 12:16 PM


GooooooooooooooRogeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!
cannot wait to see him play today.....

malteser1 , 5/25/09 12:25 PM


looks like Montanes didn't make the semis, as Bodo predicted...

fuzz , 5/25/09 6:07 PM


malteser, the great and MIGHTY BJORN BORG said the same thing last year - that Fed would win the French Open. See what happened. Of course Fed can win it but opinions are still opinions and same with predictions. Many of Rafa's fans felt he'd win it last year and he did, so does that make our opinions more valuable that Borg's? Don't let Mighty Borg's opinion stop you from enjoying the game and making your own predictions. I personally give little weight to legends' predictions. I don't think they mean anything more than our own two cents worth. Borg was later criticized for predicting that Rafa would win Wimbly but he turned out to be right that time, as did some of us. Anything can happen.

remi , 5/26/09 4:18 AM


I have to agree w/you Remi about legends predictions. Malteser posted the article as a boost for Federer fans. The part about regarding Federer as the greatest to play the game is nice to hear coming from Borg. Will he remember he said it? Whether he says it or not, it's been my opinion....greatest of our time.

zoey234 , 5/26/09 5:38 AM


Hi remi.....as zoey said...posted the article which referred to borg saying that Fed was best ever....that was all and for me.....it was just incredibly uplifting and insightful.....to hear/read borg say this about fed...just wanted to share it with the fed fans...'twas all........i don't think I commented on what borg's predictions were...????just his opinion on the GOAT issue....

of course we all have our own opinions....and we run away with our dreams for our own players but as you well know....dreams can also become a reality if we visualise and make them happen!!!!!which is why I am visualising that Fed is going win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gooooooooo Rogggggggggeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!

malteser1 , 5/26/09 10:55 AM


how more boring Nadal's fans can be:seriously you guys you cant even celebrate the guy when he is actualy crushing everybody in the way:
for the stuipet one who said Federer again had the easiest draw ever:do you want your guy to make it 5 times on row by beating guys like Sontoro, come on!give your idol some respect he didnt got djokovic in the way:what are you afraid of Wawrinka,Fererr or are you having nightmares because of Verdasco! seriously:and by the way Roddick is not that bad anymore on clay lets admit that he won set with Federer when your idol did not!
bottom line here if Nadal won this year again it has to be thorugh wiining against the best and those names are not close to Djokcovic standers so rest your case:you have to admit that Nadal of 08 on clay is better than this year but he still winning,so cut the crap and by the way philpssouss bet Sampras once on grass you idiot!so he wasnt bad and whom ever makes it to a grand slam final deserves some respect,Federer won 5 on row before in 2 GS so it is not like it wasnt done before

tennislover , 5/26/09 3:33 PM


malteser, my mistake. I realized after sending that you weren't speaking of predictions. No offense. I didn't have time to resend a correction right away. I agree, it's fun to run away with dreams. A lot of us do it. Why not? It makes life fun!

zoey yes, as a fan, it's nice for you to read borg say that. Everyone has an opinion on the issue and there are varying opinions on it. I believe it's more fair and accurate to argue for the era rather than 'all time great'. Maybe I have too much respect and awe for some of the past greats of the game and who's to say what talented dude is going to emerge in future. Not an easy one to argue amongst tennis fans.

remi , 5/26/09 5:05 PM



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