Ricky Dimon

  • Approach Shots: Federer, Djokovic, Murray return to action

    2009-11-01 23:27:17

    “Approach Shots” is Ricky’s weekly look at what’s ahead (or “approaching”) on the ATP Tour. Every Sunday he’ll preview all the tournaments scheduled for the upcoming week.

    For the first time since his U.S. Open final loss to Juan Martin Del Potro, Roger Federer is taking center stage on the ATP Tour. Federer headlines the action this week as the top seed in his native Switzerland at the Davidoff Swiss Indoors. With two 500-point tournaments on the schedule, however, Federer is far from alone this week. Andy Murray is making his first tournament appearance since the Open as the No. 1 seed in Valencia. Murray will be joined there by Nikolay Davydenko, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Fernando Verdasco, and Gilles Simon, while Federer will face Basel competition in the form of Novak Djokovic, Fernando Gonzalez, and Marin Cilic.

    Davidoff Swiss Indoors

    Where: Basel, Switzerland
    Indoor Hard
    Top Seed:
    Roger Federer
    Defending Champion:
    Roger Federer

    Draw Analysis: The select few who are not fans of Roger Federer will likely be crying foul—again—over the world No. 1’s draw. Federer will begin against qualifier Olivier Rochus on Monday, after which he will face either Andreas Seppi or little-known Swiss Stephane Bohli. Federer's nearest seeded opponent, whom he could face in the quarterfinals, is an out-of-form James Blake.

    Assuming he reaches the semifinals without any trouble, Federer will go up against whomever emerges from an up-for-grabs second quarter of the draw. Among the contenders in that section are Fernando Gonzalez, Philipp Kohlschreiber, John Isner, St. Petersburg runner-up Horacio Zeballos, and Switzerland’s own Marco Chiudinelli.

    In the bottom half of the draw, Novak Djokovic—like Federer—should have a remarkably easy time getting through his first two matches. After that, however, things will get difficult. The second-seeded Serb could face Lyon champion Ivan Ljubicic in the quarterfinals and Marin Cilic in the semis. Cilic has two recent runner-up finishes; to Djokovic in Beijing and last week to Jurgen Melzer in Vienna.

    First-round matches to watch in Basel include Gonzalez vs. Inser, Ljubicic vs. Stanislas Wawrinka, Cilic vs. Philipp Petzschner, and Zeballos vs. Richard Gasquet.

    First-Round Upset Alert
    : Ljubicic over (6) Wawrinka. Ljubicic has been rock-solid all season long (four Masters Series quarterfinals) and is enjoying especially stellar play at the moment. The 30-year-old Croat is coming off a title in Lyon, while Wawrinka has done almost nothing since the spring clay-court season. If Ljubicic recovers from his long week and does not have to play until Wednesday, he should have too much for Wawrinka on a fast indoor hard court…even in Switzerland.

    Blake also has a good chance of going down in his opener as he takes on Jeremy Chardy. Neither man has been in good form, so that one looks like a toss-up. Isner generally struggles outside of U.S. hard courts, but he can trouble Gonzalez if he is making first serves. Petzschner also has the game to beat Cilic if the fourth-seeded Croat is still feeling the effects of a long week in Vienna.

    Momentum Builders (Players looking to continue recent good form): Novak Djokovic, Marin Cilic, Horacio Zeballos, Julien Benneteau, Ivan Ljubicic

    Slump Busters (Players hoping to resurrect their games): Stanislas Wawrinka, James Blake, Andreas Seppi, Jeremy Chardy, Ivo Karlovic, Rainer Schuettler, Benjamin Becker, Jan Hernych

    Semifinal predictions: Federer over Kohlschreiber and Djokovic over Cilic

    Final: Federer over Djokovic

    Valencia Open

    Where: Valencia, Spain
    Surface: Indoor Hard
    Points: 500
    Top Seed: Andy Murray
    Defending Champion: David Ferrer

    Draw Analysis: While the Basel draw appears to be evenly distributed, the Valencia Open is extremely bottom-heavy on paper. That’s music to the ears of Andy Murray, who headlines the top of the bracket as the No. 1 seed.

    Playing in his first tournament since the U.S. Open (he has been sidelined with a wrist injury following a Davis Cup appearance), the fourth-ranked Scot should be able to coast through a few matches as he gets back in gear. Murray’s nearest seed is defending champion David Ferrer, but Ferrer has been slumping and should not be able to trouble Murray on an indoor hard court. In fact, all three of seeds other than Murray in the top half of the draw are Spaniards (Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, and Tommy Robredo).

    The bottom half, meanwhile, is just loaded. No. 2 seed Nikolay Davydenko is joined by a trio of in-form Frenchman—No. 3 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 5 seed Gilles Simon, and No. 6 seed Gael Monfils. Also looking to contend in this section are Juan Carlos Ferrero and recent Moscow champion Mikhail Youzhny.

    Notable first-round matches will feature Tsonga against Youzhny and Ferrer against Almagro. Possible second-round showdowns include Simon vs. Tomas Berdych, Verdasco vs. Janko Tipsarevic, and Tsonga (or Youzhny) vs. Ferrero.

    First-Round Upset Alert: Almagro over (8) Ferrer. Ferrer has done nothing recently to suggest that he has any chance of successfully defending his title. Furthermore, his 2008 success on the indoor hard courts of Valencia is more of an exception rather than a rule for the eighth-seeded Spaniard. He is far more effective on clay courts. Almagro, too, is much better on clay, but he has a huge first serve that can work well on faster surfaces.

    None of the other seven seeds should have much trouble in round one. Tsonga recently blasted Youzhny in the Tokyo final, so there is no reason to think anything will change this time around.

    Momentum Builders (Players looking to continue recent good form)
    : Nikolay Davydenko, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Janko Tipsarevic, Mikhail Youzhny

    Slump Busters (Players hoping to resurrect their games): David Ferrer, Victor Hanescu, Igor Andreev, Igor Kunitsyn, Marcel Granollers

    Semifinal predictions: Andy Murray over Fernando Verdasco and Nikolay Davydenko over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

    Final: Murray over Davydenko

    Comments and your own predictions are appreciated!

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i dunno about valencia...murray could have his work cut out with tsonga, verdasco and davy all fighting over points to qualify for london.

my predictions have all been so wrong....totally insecure. 'ptsd' prediction trauma stressed disorder post asian swing.

go federer!

zoey234 , 11/2/09 8:41 PM

"The select few who are not fans of Roger Federer will likely be crying foul--again--over world no.1's draw." RickyDimon

hey, where are "the select few"? lol...eerily silent are the majority on TT.

i don't count out horacio zeballos....ever again! RF could trip up underestimating Z-ball...or gonzo (he's in the hunt for London qualifying), PK can be tricky, or Isner? RF wears the target on his back.

i doubt anyone in the bottom half will give nole too much trouble....cilic could if they meet but... that was a less than impressive final for marin in vienna. ljubi is old and it'd be surprising if he's not tired....great effort and win for him in lyon.

valencia- i wanna pick murray't pick one.

zoey234 , 11/3/09 12:53 AM

there is no "select few" here at TennisTalk. Everyone here worships Federer.

There are a "select few" elsewhere, however.

RickyDimon , 11/3/09 3:47 AM


well, i disagree about the posters. more rafans on TT than fed worshippers. and a handful of nole fans here plus the anti-fed rafans who would "cry foul" and
"conspiracy" about the draw.

what i was wondering are where are the nole fans like stu, posmatrac ... and the fans who generally post a prediction? i am too chicken this time to pick.

i know where the TT rafans are: mostly all over the agassi story or waiting until paris.

great tennis in both tourney's this week!

zoey234 , 11/3/09 4:32 AM

Murray's got in easy IMO, he can beat them all.
I personally cant wait to see a Fed-Nole final! gonna be gooood =]

mriiidula , 11/3/09 4:45 AM

I'm here, zoey, and I can't remember the last time Nole was a "Momentum Builder" in Ricky's Approach Shots!

stu , 11/3/09 6:25 AM

here, watching from the distance :). fed had a clean first match so hoping nole will follow.

posmatrac , 11/3/09 7:37 AM

okay...this is more like it! calling all nole on! well, that is, if i could pick.

yeah stu, look at that. must be somebody's fave. but he picks federer. makes sense: on federer's home court, having won the past three years...we'll see.

i'm with mriiidula. would love a Fed-Nole final, if they both make it that far. ???

zoey234 , 11/3/09 7:40 AM

Its been a long time coming but....come on Andy!

deuce , 11/3/09 8:09 AM

For Basel, I honestly will be surprised if it isn't a Fed vs Nole final, unless Cilic pulls off an upset and it will be Fed v Cilic. My money's on Roger to take the title in his beloved home tournament, but Nole/Cilic will give him a serious run for it.

My prediction for Basel:
Semis: Fed over Gonzalez or Chiudinelli, Nole v Cilic 70-30
Final: Fed over Nole/Cilic

Sorry, can't pick a straight one!

For Valencia, somehow seeing a Spaniard in the final! Koyla's on a roll, so definitely betting on him for the finals. Murray should get to semis but am not so sure he will get into the final...hmm. Hard picking for Valencia, some good and solid players.

My prediction for Valencia:
Semis: Verdasco over Murray, Davy over Tsonga
Final: Davy over Tsonga; Davy's gunning for London!

Should add that I am never good at only recent correct prediction was that Fed will lose USO cos 6-in-a-row is completely freakin' jinxed. Or the whole consecutive record breaking thing in general anyway.

jyannis , 11/3/09 12:21 PM

Only Nole can be any threat to a Fed title in Basel I suppose, and probably not even Nole. This is a very fast indoor hard in Fed's home town and Fed is coming rested for this event.

Federer over Gonzalez - Djokovic over Cilic - Federer over Djokovic.

Valencia is much more open but my personal favourite for the title has to be Davydenko. He's got all the motivation and his form since summer has been stellar. If Murray's wrist is ok he should be a finalist, but we can't know that or his motivation to have a long week with M1000 and London around the corner. Probably Verdasco as a finalist from the top half.

Verdasco over Murray - Davydenko over Tsonga - Davydenko over Verdasco

derstatic , 11/3/09 4:55 PM

Ohh I like this. ExFed over Nole...every1 so shure....
Why do you think Nole did come to Basel after all...
He has bloodrage...he has come for head hunt. So I wont be so confident about ExFed over Nole final...

zare , 11/3/09 10:18 PM

I don't even care how far Nole makes it in this tournament, my sights are on Paris. I fear an early burn out there if he does well here...

stu , 11/4/09 3:13 AM

hey glad that federer is playing again.....the great man should reach the final....well rested...feeling relaxed and fly....will be a dream to see between fed and djoko...a repeat of semi final of USO (sort of)...and would be wonderful to see the 'shot of the year' in that match....though been watching cilic a lot more recently, in his final particularly against Melzer...cilic was looking good....very strong.....excellent serve...shoud fed and cilic meet....fed's serve going to have be 'game on!'....

zoey.....i think it was....on another thread asking for fed's schedule 2010...i did post it here....for some reason....looks as if been deleted/dropped into cyber space?....will post again....may be this time it will stick?.....take it easy zoey....

stu....djoko been playing you not think the match practice will do him good? readiness..for paris?

malteser , 11/4/09 7:47 PM

hey malt. hope you are well and yeah, very glad federer is playing again. never saw your post. that's strange. i did read fed's schedule on gototennis tho.

i'll keep an eye out for you but gonna take a break from tt. not enough fed fans here and it's not as much fun and you are sleeping when i am awake and vice versa. take care.

zoey234 , 11/5/09 4:42 AM

hey zoey....deliberately got up v-e-r-y early this morning to see if i could catch may still be up...send me your email...please....fed go...go...go!!!!!....again, tried to get livestreaming for basel....need a call to the satellite people later! a friend suggested going to try that later today.....

always great to see you zoey...i think sky has the right idea in taking a break from TT...and be back on for the slams!!!...havent seen torr, or fedex for what seems like ages....!!!!


malteser , 11/5/09 6:44 AM

hey malt and zoey....and all federites ..
been watching the results of the FedExpress . He has been mighty impressive on serve . I still see a bit of the holiday rust but I reckon he will be firing on all cylinders come paris. its nice to see his movement on court again ...just so smooth ...thats has been missing in tennis for the past 6 weeks .
Basel does not seem to be very straight forward ...i think the semi's and final is going to be tough ...but i hope he pulls through. no more pressure guys ....just playing for fun :)

Malt , The FexEpress train will be overflowing with Federites come paris and london .
I think we need to give the maestro a break :) ....let him play this one with no expectation or pressure from us ..:)

C'MON !!

fedexfan , 11/5/09 11:45 AM

Malty! Zoey! Fedexfan! So great to see you Federites hanging around! Just peeking to see the FexExpress is still ALIVE and well... :) the Fed will take on the World of tennis... AGAIN! :) LOL Feels good to see you guys/girls out there! Cheers.

sky , 11/5/09 12:42 PM

Woo hoo, I actually got my Fed v Chiudinelli prediction right!! Of course, that's the only correct prediction I have so far, muhaha. Totally off track for Valencia; but hoping for Younzhy to take it over Andy M...and I'm kinda impartial for Fed v Nole. Am more excited at the prospect of the match up rather than the outcome. :D

jyannis , 11/8/09 10:51 AM

2008 Valencia was played on clay in the spring and yes Ferrer was defending champion but ob clay. And when he's on he's very good on HC, too. He won titles in Tokyo and Aukland he was Dubai and TMC finalist so hardly Oscar Hernandez....

acionescu , 11/9/09 9:31 PM


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Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
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