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Ricky Dimon

  • Handing out World Tour Finals grades

    2009-12-01 19:58:52

    Now that the World Tour Finals have ended at the attention is about to shift to Davis Cup, it’s time to take a look back on what transpired in London. Who was good? Who was bad? Who was merely decent?

     

    A-plus - Nikolay Davydenko. Despite losing his very first match of the tournament against Novak Djokovic, Davydenko went on to win the year-end championship. And he did not even do it at the expense of worn out or injured opponents. He did it with absolutely incredible tennis. After taking out Rafael Nadal and Robin Soderling to reach the semifinals, the 28-year-old Russian scored his first-ever victory over Roger Federer (7-5 in the third) and then hammered Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3, 6-4 for the title...a title that is, to date, the biggest of his lengthy career.

     

    A – Juan Martin Del Potro. Since winning the U.S. Open, Del Potro had been plagued by wrist and abdominal injuries and struggled to win any matches at all. He had even retired from his quarterfinal match at the Paris Masters in early November. Many thought Del Potro, like Andy Roddick, would not even be able to show up in London. Well, he ended up doing a lot more than that. The 21-year-old Argentine lost his opener to Andy Murray, but he bounced back for victories over Fernando Verdasco (7-6 in the third) and Federer. Del Potro then survived Robin Soderling (also 7-6 in the third) before running into an on-fire Davydenko.

     

    A-minus – Robin Soderling. Needing a Roddick withdrawal just to get into the event, Soderling quickly became the talk of the tournament with two consecutive straight-set drubbings of Rafael Nadal and Djokovic. The underdog Swede, however, lost to Davydenko in his final round-robin match and then blew a break lead in the third set against Del Potro in the semifinals. While it did not turn out to be the dream week that it appeared to be in the early stages of the tournament, Soderling still did better than expected.

     

    B – Roger Federer. Federer had not been playing especially well heading into London, having lost to Djokovic in the Basel final and having been upset by Julien Benneteau in his Paris opener. The world No. 1 did not play great tennis at the World Tour Finals, either, but it could have been much worse. He lost the first set in all four of his matches and was two points away from round-robin elimination before pulling out the second set against Del Potro to qualify for the semis. Federer even showed flashes of brilliance (in the third sets against Verdasco and Murray), but he was merely decent against Davydenko, and “decent” was never good enough to beat Davydenko last week.

     

    B-minus – Fernando Verdasco – Verdasco went winless in London, but he was a considerable underdog in every match he played. And the Spaniard wasn’t that far from going 3-0 in round-robin play. He led Federer 6-4, 5-5, 0-30 on Federer’s serve before falling in three. He also came back from a set down against both Murray and Del Potro, but Verdasco eventually lost both matches in third-set tiebreakers. Making his performance all the more commendable is that Verdasco most likely needs minor foot surgery after the Davis Cup final this weekend.

     

    C+ - Andy Murray. Favored to reach the semifinals, Murray missed out on a spot in the last four, but he was close enough that tournament officials had to sit around for 20 minutes following the final round-robin match of Group A punching in numbers on calculators. As it turned out, Del Potro edged Murray by a mere one game (in percentage of games won, which was the necessary tiebreaker after total record and percentage of sets won both resulted in ties). The 22-year-old Scot did not play any bad matches in London, but he failed to score any convincing wins. Getting blown out by Federer in their third set and losing the second set to Verdasco sealed Murray’s fate of early elimination.

     

    C – Novak Djokovic. Like Murray, Djokovic was eliminated in round-robin competition despite compiling a 2-1 record (Soderling and Davydenko knocked him out via percentage of sets won). But the Serb, who was the hottest—maybe even too hot—player going into the World Tour Finals, bowed out with far less fanfare. He struggled through a victorious three-set match against Davydenko only to get handled by Soderling in straight sets two days later. Although Djokovic needed just two sets to get past Nadal on Friday, the tennis from both players was lackluster. Perhaps the world No. 3 simply ran out of gas at the end—well, before the end—of a simply grueling 2009 campaign.

     

    D – Rafael Nadal. Some people (probably Fedtards) will argue that Nadal deserves an ‘F’ for his performance in London. After all, not only did Nadal fail to win any matches, but he also failed to win any sets. However, Nadal easily could have won the first set against Soderling had he challenged what should have been an ace—his point—on game point at 4-5. The second-ranked Spaniard took Davydenko to a tiebreaker in the second set of their match, and also pushed Djokovic to a tiebreaker in the first set of their showdown. No, Nadal was not good in London; he played the worst tennis of all the participants. But he wasn’t--contrary to popular opinion--a complete failure.

     

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Comments

Well........speaking as what you call a "Fedtard",or as I prefer a "loyal Roger Federer fan"......overall.........I agree with how you graded the players performances.
You did seem to be easy on Nadal on "should haves" and "could haves".
He DIDN'T win a match.......he DIDN'T win a set!
HOW does that constitute a "D" and NOT an "F"

missyRF , 12/1/09 9:10 PM


Thats because he put in a decent performance on his least preferred surface, when his confidence is at its nadir, against the best players in the world, when he is coming to terms with the injuries that have plagued him.
Also the fact that no excuses about injuries were made. He admitted he did not deserve being no . 1 the way he was playing. U get grades for factors other than way u play tennis :)

vmk1 , 12/1/09 10:38 PM


Ricky,
You seriously need to take math tutoring.
Federer, Djokovic, Murray, and Soderling received equal points and equal prize money out of WTF: 400 ranking points and $240K.

All four defeated who they were supposed to defeat:

(1) Federer defeated Murray and clinched year-end No. 1 and widened the margin for next year;

(2) Djokovic defeated his arch-rival Rafa, closing the overall H2H gap and leading 7-3 on hard, and he defeated eventual champion Davy, avenging the Shanghai loss; the 400 points that Djokovic gained against Rafa will be crucial to oust Rafa from the No. 2, should the Spaniard fail to defend Australian Open title, which is more than likely to happen.

(3) Del Potro gained immensely, by beating Federer and another power house Soderling, but he failed to oust Murray and take the number 4. He was lifeless in the final, having to go to bed at 3 a.m. the night before.

(4) Soderling gained in ranking but would have replaced Davydenko had he beaten him in the Round Robin and reached the final.

(5) The 2 Spaniards were the biggest losers of the tournament, with zero win. Rafa was worse than Verdasco for not winning a set.

MurrayFan , 12/1/09 11:37 PM


"U get get grades for factors other thanway u play tannis" vmk1

so very true. especially when the blogger is as anti-fed as ricky and a complete rafatard blind worshipper.

zoey234 , 12/1/09 11:39 PM


MurrayFan, you seriously need to take some common sense tutoring.

"Djokovic defeated his arch-rival Rafa..." -- i stopped reading at that point.

RickyDimon , 12/1/09 11:50 PM


"U get get grades for factors other than the way u play tennis"

not in this case. I graded this tournament only, not anything else, and certainly not how the players act off the court.

If I had done that, Nadal would have gotten an A, well ahead of both Federer and Soderling, just to name a few.

Instead, he got a D. Big difference.

RickyDimon , 12/1/09 11:52 PM


"Some people (probably fedtards) will argue that Nadal deserves and "F" ..."

blogger loses all credibility for being anything other than an average biased poster.

MurrayFan was more professional.

zoey234 , 12/2/09 12:04 AM


Everyone needs to realize that the grades are based relative to a player's expectations.

Djokovic went 2-1 and got a C. Verdasco went 0-3 and got a B-.

Djokovic was supposed to win the tournament. Verdasco was supposed to go 0-3 without being competitive.

RickyDimon , 12/2/09 12:18 AM


LOL! it's a fair guess the blogger/ poster added that slight to those of us supporting federer, just to get a rise. bloggers don't include such slurs without intention.

how very proud you must be. i have no argument with the rafa grade...lol...it is what it is. i like rafa and for tennis as a whole, hope he gets his 2008 and ao 2009 form back. cheers

zoey234 , 12/2/09 12:37 AM


zoey - mostly correct. altho it wasnt intended to get a "rise" out of "us supporting Federer."

I would have mentioned Nadaltards, but there is nothing to say about them. They stayed quiet last week (for obvious reasons).

RickyDimon , 12/2/09 12:43 AM


fair enough. peace out! and.....

go gulbis!

zoey234 , 12/2/09 12:47 AM


Aww! Rafa got a 'D' on his scorecard. Well, if I were in charge I'd say he gets a chocolate chip cookie and a gold star along with that 'D'. So there. But yeah, I think he'd be the first to agree with you there RickyDimon.

ooooooo, Federer got a Beeeeee!

And what's a "Fedtard"? Judging by the uproar, it's NOT a good thing? Seeing as they'd want Rafa to have an 'F' I'd say they sound like meanies . :/

*sigh* RickyDimon, I think you nailed all of the scores. Though, I'd give Verdasco a 'C' , the reason being that he faded away during his matches when the going got tough. But as you pointed out, the grades are relative to a player's expectations (or rather, OUR expectations of them). So does that mean we expect Verdasco to go all mushy when things get tight in a match? If so, B- it is!

I don't mean to pile on, but if I'm being brutally honest (or just plain brutal) I'd say Murray gets a C, I think his performances were rather disappointing considering he had home court advantage. I just felt like he never really got into things and didn't really put his heart out there on court. There was never a sense of purpose and intensity. Though, it was the end of a looong season, so it's tough to be critical of that.


MiniArbre , 12/2/09 1:12 AM


Good grading. I actually happen to completely agree with the grades. Both Nole and Fedex had sets 6:1 or 6:2 lost to their opponents which is pretty disappointing given they were favorites to win the WTF! I wish I could argue on behalf of my favorite guy Rafa but unfortunately this time I must be satisfied with a D :( (Yet his performance was far from an F. As Rafa stated himself: "It's not disappointing...It's disappointing if you arrive here with the feeling that you have a big chance to win. But I didn't arrive here with that feeling.?
We shift focus on DC! Vamoooooos

natashao , 12/2/09 1:18 AM


Look at Ricky getting out. Agree with all the grades. Are you still predicting a slaughter for Berdy and Steps? Just wondering.

chr18 , 12/2/09 2:09 AM


chr18 - lets just say that if Nadal plays Berdych on Friday, Berdych will not only not win a set, but he also will not take a set to anything closer than 6-4.

RickyDimon , 12/2/09 3:42 AM


My grades:-

ND- A++++
JMDP - A
RF- B- (He should have won against ND, 2 points away AGAIN!!)
Soder- B+
Djoker- C+
Muzza- B-
Nando- C- (I expected him to win at least 1 match)
Nadal - No grades (Rafa was absent, it was a lookalike who played in the tournament. Real Rafa is at home sleeping)

torres9 , 12/2/09 5:00 AM


RickyDimon, while I'm all for positive attitude and such...let's not upset the Tennis God, shall we? I believe that Rafa can win his matches and will try 100% to get the victories and because his heart is set on winning the Davis Cup for his team I reeeaaaallly hope he does everything he sets out to do. But we must remember that anything can happen, no? On any day anybody can beat anybody because that is sport. I get a bit crazy when people start predicting scorelines. It makes me...how you say?...nervous? In any case, VAMOS Team Rafa! Kick butt! (sorry Steppy! You know I love you too man!)

Do you know if Rafa will be playing doubles as well?

Torres9, I have to say that the struggling, I-can't-hold-my-serve-so-this-is-what-it-feels-like-to-be-on-the-WTA-t our Rafa was indeed Rafa. Take the good with the bad because the bad will make the good. There's no progress without struggle, no? And because he learns from his losses and beat downs, I have to say that it was a necessary (and painful) journey he had to experience. I believe he will be the better for it. It's a normal part of the evolution of him as a player. So we'll take the 'D', chocolate chip cookie and golden star that RickyDimon handed out and we'll move on. :)

MiniArbre , 12/2/09 11:27 PM


got the match we (or I, i should say) wanted: Nadal vs. Berdych

RickyDimon , 12/3/09 3:48 PM


Well said MiniArbre!
And as for Nadal Berdych(Woo hoo!!)
Vamosssssssssssssss

vmk1 , 12/3/09 6:28 PM


Have to agree with Ricky's grading, as I think grading should be done based on expectations of the players' performance. If we expect Rafa to win but he failed to even win a set, then that will deserve a F, however we are not expecting much from Rafa at the WTF, so a D is about right.

luckystar , 12/3/09 9:28 PM


Davis Cup is a non-event in tennis. Which network was televising this event around the world? The outcome was also non-climactic as everyone knew this would happen. The only strong message from DC is how deep-rooted Spain is with tennis talent, and will continue to bring up the next Rafa's. I only wish Rafa changes his game before he retires in a wheelchair.

jngannex , 12/8/09 9:49 AM


^^^The tennis channel and a lot of LS were broadcasting the Davis Cup.Davis cup is history and tradition in tennis.I would hate for these traditions to be lost.

When Spain played the DC in Argentina last year, no one thought that they would win,so you never know and I'm sure that the CR kept that incident in mind.

Jngannex,you have very little faith in other countries.there are other strong countries that players are starting to develop,such as France.

I love the whole comradery of team competition.

Rafa is a smart young man and i pray that he will NOT retire in a wheelchair.

alik , 12/8/09 12:00 PM


Rafa won't retire on a wheelchair. Uncle Toni loves Rafa too much to allow that to happen. The worst case scenario is for Rafa to play only clay and grass court tennis and skip all the hard court tournaments, if Rafa is still passionate about playing tennis, and is not too bothered about the ranking. I don't foresee that to happen anytime soon, and I hope Rafa can get a USO title first, should the worst case scenario really happens.

luckystar , 12/8/09 1:01 PM



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