• Nadal, Roddick lead field in Tokyo

    10/3/10 8:26 PM | Kelli DeMario
    Nadal, Roddick lead field in Tokyo World No. 1 Rafael Nadal continues his Asian hard-court effort this week, seeded first in a field of 32 players set to compete at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships. The Mallorcan is joined by second seed Andy Roddick.

    Top seed Rafael Nadal will commence his debut run at the 2010 Japan Open, signaling his second week of play during the Asian hard-court swing. The world No. 1 looks to rebound after a disappointing semifinal-round loss to countryman Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Bangkok.

    Second seed Andy Roddick makes his return to competition, following his second-round exit to Janko Tipsarevic at the US Open. The world No. 10 is competing in his second Japan Open, having reached the semifinal in 2008.

    Nadal is located in the same half of the draw that hosts a tricky selection of hard-court talents, including: Jurgen Melzer, Feliciano Lopez, Ernests Gulbis, Bangkok champion Garcia-Lopez, and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, who is taking part in his second tournament since January.

    The No. 1 seed will open his campaign against Santiago Giraldo of Colombia. Should he move into the next round, he faces veteran Florent Serra or qualifier Milos Raonic. The nearest seed to Nadal is No. 7 Gulbis, who looms as a likely quarterfinal opponent.

    Roddick must contend with defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Michael Llodra and Thailand Open finalist Jarkko Nieminen.

    The 28-year-old American begins his bid with first-round opponent Tatsuma Ito of Japan. Round two passage earns Roddick a meeting with either Jeremy Chardy or qualifier Edouard Roger-Vasselin. The closest marquee name for Roddick is likely quarterfinal challenger Monfils, seeded fifth at the tournament.

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hmm, Feleciano Lopez and Jurgen Melzer can't threat nadal, delpo: yeah in the future but not now. Easy for rafa....I'd watch out for de bakker, I saw he made big improvements now actually a quick mover around the hard courts and very solid.

2flow , 10/3/10 9:03 PM


nadline , 10/3/10 9:21 PM

I would rather hope he goes out in the first round and wins shanghai.

vmk1 , 10/4/10 12:49 AM

vmk, why would you want Rafa to lose in the first round, unless you are not his fan. Spare a thought for the world no.1, do you think he is happy to lose early in two consecutive tournaments? What it say about Rafa as a player, either he is not a good no.1 or he simply tanked his matches, you want that for Rafa? And after losing in Tokyo with a weaker field, what make you think he can win in a stronger field at Shamghai? If he wins there, isn't it more evident that he tanked in Bangkok and Tokyo? You want that blackmark on Rafa's resume?

luckystar , 10/4/10 5:32 AM

Noone is happy to lose you are right, but Rafa does not need these tournaments anymore.And Rafa has no business losing to world no 53. If he wins against the lower ranked players and loses against the first top 10 player that he comes across, what is he going to achieve. It is a lose lose situation. If he wins, it is expected. If he loses, it is that he is not taking it seriously. Why enter draws like Japan and Bangkok, when he chose to withdraw from Barca, his favorite tourney and we all know how it helped him? It is only that I want rafa to be healthy and not kill himself trying to beat the likes of Golubev and GGL who have nothing to lose and just swing away merrily.

Do u think he tanked matches in Cincinati and Toronto just because he won the USO. Or tanked queens because he won Wimby. The motivation level varies from tournament to tournament. I am sure if Bangkok was a prestigious tournament, we would have a different Spaniard winning it. So, the smart thing is not to enter these tournaments when he does not need the points since we know how fragile his knees are and we know what happened last year when he tried to win every tourney he entered.
So as a fan I just wish the best for him, a win in Shanghai would put to rest all concerns about Rafa's form but wins in Tokyo and Bangkok followed by a loss in Shanghai would again start debates about Rafa not being good enuf against the top players. Even the combined points of Tokyo and Bangkok is not equal to Shanghai.
Sometimes a loss is better than a win in the long run as we have found out already.
I would rather Rafa being a big tourney performer than someone like Andy :)

vmk1 , 10/4/10 7:09 AM

vmk1 - what is the point of talking now that you wish he didn't go to play in Bangkok and now in Tokyo when it is a reality now that he has to play both. So, for things that cannot be changed, we have to hope for the best, and the best is he does well in Tokyo, by not losing in the first round. Even he can't win it, at least lose to someone with a higher ranking, say may be Roddick. If he wins it better still. Now in Shanghai, even if he lose to say Nole or Murray, is there anything shameful about it?? Or you think Rafa is not good enough that he can't even reach the semi of both Tokyo and Shanghai?

Regarding skipping Barcelona, he skips it not because to save his knees but to go for his knee treatment. If you have read about Toni's recent interview, Rafa was having pain in his knees when he was in the Rome tournament, after he had his painful knee treatment. However, Rafa still went on to win the Rome tournament. Rafa lost in the QF of Queen's not because he choose to tank it, but its because there is a change of surface and he came to Queen's immediately after RG, so there wasn't any rest time for him and Lopez played well enough to beat him. Rafa losing to Murray in Toronto and to Baggy in Cincy weren't anything to be shameful about. Murray was no.4 in the world, and Baggy was in the twenties in the rankings and he was a finalist in Washington and had beaten Fed in IW. Losing in Canada and Cincy doesn't mean one cannot win the USO, as Fed shown in 2008, after losing both he went on to win the USO. Fed also won at least one of Canada or Cincy in 2005/2006/2007 and went on to win the USO, so losing or winning Canada or Cincy is no clear indication that one would go on and win the USO. Further examples: Rafa won Canada in 2005/2008 but didn't win the USO; Murray won Canada in 2009/2010 and Cincy in 2008 but didn't win the USO; Nole won Canada in 2007 but didn't win the USO; Delpo didn't win Canada or Cincy in 2009 but went on to win the USO.

To wish for Rafa losing in the first round in Tokyo won't do much good for Rafa's reputation, and it would look worse if he goes on to win in Shanghai. It shows that he didn't pay much attention to those two tournaments (Bangkok and Tokyo) while collecting huge appearance fees there, what would people there think about Rafa?

luckystar , 10/4/10 7:49 AM

@vmk1 , 10/4/10 7:09 AM
--- he chose to withdraw from Barca, his favorite tourney and we all know how it helped him---

Rafa had a knee PRP-treatment during the Barcelona tournament week.

Augustina08 , 10/4/10 7:52 AM

Fair enuf luckystar.All I am saying is there is no point killing oneself to win Japan or Bangkok.So rafa should not and will not try as hard to win these tournaments as others tourneys so if he comes across a lower ranked player who is on fire that particular day, well accept the loss and move on. You know a 70% Rafa effort is good enuf to beat the likes of the players in the small tournaments.
Regarding appearance fees, he gets those in these tournaments because he has donne well in the bigger tourneys. So playing these tournaments makes sense in prep for a GS, say a Doha but not now.
I do not think Rafa's reputation would take a beating if he does poorly at these tournaments. Rafa haters would always find a way to criticise him no matter what he does. And from you elaborate research,you say there is no correlation between cincinnati and USo but I just feel that the early exit helped Rafa developed that killer serve which helped him win at the big apple. But its speculation and its me.
we can agree to disagree.

vmk1 , 10/4/10 8:08 AM

Yes vmk1, we do feel that Rafa should not be playing three tournaments in a row especially on the hard courts. Since he already decided to do so, we can only hope for the best for him. He mentioned that he had missed the Bangkok tournament twice before and hence decided that since he is physically well this year, to go there to play and meet his fans. I was hoping that he won the Bangkok tournament, fulfilled his obligations to the organizer and his fans there, so that next year he need not feel obligated to go back there again, at least when planning his schedule next year, he need not feel obligated to do so. Too bad he didn't win there, and I really feel that he may end up going there again next year. Such is our Rafa, what to do?

Rafa not winning in Canada and Cincy this year was a blessing in disguise and it was proven so when he won the USO. Concerning Rafa's reputation taking a beating, I don't care about his haters, but rather how his fans in Thailand and in Japan feel, when he lost early there and win in Shanghai, that's my point. Rafa's haters and critics will always have something to say, so I'll just ignore them unless they go over the board.

luckystar , 10/4/10 9:07 AM

Dear tennistalkers,

All this agreeing and disagreeing - in a nice, Rafanatic manner - is very plesant to read indeed. What a treat these tourneys are for all of us! (even for Rafa), no pressure whatosever - what a change, huh?
It's amazing the symbolic value of having won this USO - Rafa will always be his never-yielding self but from now on one can feel that something has changed in him, he allows himself to change at will the rythm of matches and not let his opponents dictate, he's bolder in going for winners down the line.
Allow me to use a Dragon Ball Z simile; it's as if he's discovered, after much hard work, his 'super-warrior' power (sorry if this sounds too childish, but I love those cartoons :) and is now temptative in discovering its extent. An old-time Rafa but with supercharged powers :)
This is a double-edged tool of course, let's see how things fare from now on - another chapter in his tennis career, fascinating as ever - what other player has this?

Shireling , 10/4/10 10:30 PM

hey i love dbz fav line from the series.."8000???? Whaaat???Ur scouter must be broken" a more serious note,i agree with all those who think that rafa shouldnt have played one of these tourny,skipped either thailand or tokyo...3 tournaments back to back on hards isnt wat rafa's doctors would prescribe

vrael , 10/5/10 5:21 AM

Does anyone know a livestream for Tokyo?

nadline , 10/5/10 7:42 AM

me too vrael...I would have loved if Rafa stayed at home practicing, rather than spending time in Tokio playing with guys who have nothing to lose against him and who therefore offer their best tennis just to prove they can challenge Rafa...this is doing him no favor and losing to Lopez also does not sound nice in his resume...I still think he lost because he lacked motivation and was at his 60%...that is my opinion and I may be mistaken, but I'd rather think that than have him lost because Garcia outplayed him...there is no way Lopez was better, Rafa just was not after that win at all...but I also want him to do fine in Tokio since he is already there...another stupid defeat would just kill me...:)

Vamos Rafa!

natashao , 10/5/10 8:25 AM

another stupid defeat would just kill me...:)

Vamos Rafa!

natashao , 10/5/10 8:25 AM

I can see what you mean. I've told myself to calm down, it's only tennis. It's not a matter of life and death, and there are far more important things going on, but hey, Rafa's tennis is more important than all those. Lol

I am sure his Mum doesn't worry half as much as some of us do.

I hate just watching the scores, because it's hard to assess what exactly is going on.


nadline , 10/5/10 9:16 AM

you are so right Nadline :)...and this is just painful to watch..five break points which Rafa failed to convert and no live streaming...I hope it gets better for Rafa...VAMOS RAFA!!!

natashao , 10/5/10 9:34 AM

and there it goes the set for Rafa! judging by the live score not a great performance by Rafa or it is just that Santiago is playing is really hard to tell, but what matters is that Rafa has a set in his hands...Vamos Rafa!

natashao , 10/5/10 10:02 AM

Rafa ended up with a break point conversion of 29%. Not great, but he got the win. Since we didn't see it, we don't know how he played, but the stats indicate that he won about 79% of first serves and 52% of second serves. His first serve percentage was about 60%. I got these match stats from the tournament site.

He did enough to win, which was all he needed to defeat this guy. He will next play some qualifier that I don't know. He has a very nice draw. I expect him to play better each match.

The only livestream I know about his I got this from a Rafa fan forum, however, they will not begin showing livestreams until Thursday. So far, there is no other site that I am aware of that is televising the matches. It looks like more watching the live scores and stats from the tournament site for the next match!

Nativenewyorker , 10/5/10 11:08 AM

Rafa's match stats from the tournament site.

Aces - 4
Double Faults - 2
1st Serve % 62%
1st Serve Points Won 33/44 (75%)
2nd Serve Points Won 14/27 (52%)
Break Points Saved 4/4 (100%)
Service Games Played 10
Return Statistics
1st Return Points Won 17/47 (36%)
2nd Return Points Won 10/25 (40%)
Break Points Won 2/7 (29%)
Return Games Played 10
Points Statistics
Total Service Points Won 47/71 (66%)
Total Points Won 74/143 (52%)

Nativenewyorker , 10/5/10 11:15 AM

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