• Nadal, Federer kick off 2012 in Doha

    1/1/12 5:02 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal, Federer kick off 2012 in Doha The 2012 ATP season will begin with a bang in Doha. Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Gael Monfils headline a stellar field at what could be the strongest 250-point event of the year.

    A trio of 250-point tournaments once again kick off the ATP season; none more significant than the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha.

    Leading the way are two of the top three players in the world in Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Joining the top two seeds are flamboyant Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils. The crop of seeded entrants is rounded out by Viktor Troicki, Alex Bogomolov, Mikhail Youzhny, and Andreas Seppi.

    Nadal, Federer, and Monfils recently wrapped up their offseasons with appearances at the lucrative exhibition event in Abu Dhabi. Federer (lost to Novak Djokovic and Nadal) and Monfils (lost to Djokovic) went winless while Nadal fell to David Ferrer before defeating Federer 7-5, 6-1 in the third-place match.

    A field of 32 in Doha means no first-round byes for the top four seeds, and both Nadal and Federer could face tough openers. The top-seeded Spaniard begins against Philipp Kohlschreiber while the second-seeded Swiss starts off with familiar foe Nikolay Davydenko.

    Another opening-round match two watch is Youzhny vs. Ernests Gulbis in a rematch of a U.S. Open first-rounder that Gulbis dominated. An intriguing all-unseeded matchup in Doha pits Ivo Karlovic against Sergiy Stakhovsky.

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The Federer we've just seen playing in Abu Dhabi will be unlikely to get past Davydenko in R1 if he doesn't find some form post haste. :(

lluisa , 1/1/12 11:30 AM

what is the issue with spot near his eyes?

mani4Tennis , 1/1/12 2:19 PM

It doesn't look too bad.

tj600 , 1/1/12 5:13 PM

Halleluya, tennis is back!!!!

rafaisthebest , 1/2/12 9:10 AM

Good luck Roger. Tough 1st round but you can do it.

bleck , 1/2/12 9:35 AM

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 1/2/12 10:27 AM

Did Mirka give Roger the shiner by his right eye?

nadline , 1/2/12 10:30 AM

Yep, fed pretty disastrous at last week's exo, but everyone knows fed always peaks at the right time and the tendency of saving his best for the best will only increase as he gets older. That said, there was pride at stake against nole who ominously squashed everyone - seems like allhe needed was a bit of a rest.
rafa starting off with a sore shoulder BEFORE NEW YEAR and complaining about the calendar aready didn't sound too handy though ... what's he going to be like by november? I'm less positive about rafa than I normally am at this time of year.
I really don't see rafa or fed being able to rein in nole this year. and if muzz doesn't find another level, he could dominate as much as last year.
But you just never know ...

alex , 1/2/12 11:13 AM

According the the TT pole so far ...
Super Roger is going to be year-end No. 1 !!!
And Sooper-Dooper Roger is 16 times more likely than muzz to end at No. 1 !!!
And wow ... Delpo is 3x more likely than muzz to be end of year No. 1 !!!
Remember folks ... you read it first on Tennistalk !
LOL (with loud guffaws) !!!
I have a suggestion for whoever devises these 'polls'. At the end of the question, put in brackets: "By the way, this question doesn't mean 'Who is your favourite player?' "

alex , 1/2/12 11:27 AM

Nadal with a sore shouldre was able to take care of Roger in Abu Dhabi, that gives me a bit of hope for his prospects this year.

I like Nole's positive attitude, Rafa needs to learn from that. He is too negative for my liking at times. Being modest is one thing but talking down your chances constantly is not good for the psyche.

nadline , 1/2/12 11:37 AM

"According the the TT pole so far ...
Super Roger is going to be year-end No. 1 !!!"
This is almost impossible of course.

"And Sooper-Dooper Roger is 16 times more likely than muzz to end at No. 1 !!!"

Don't see any problem with this. It seems pretty accurate.

bleck , 1/2/12 12:17 PM

bleck -
yep, I guess you're one of the 37%. lol :-)

alex , 1/2/12 12:37 PM

Vamos Rafa and good luck - hope you have a good tournament.

schatz , 1/2/12 12:40 PM

alex, I just wrote that Roger finishing #1 "is almost impossible of course."

I only said that it's more probable for Roger to finish #1 than murray. Federer has finished every season ahead of murray.

So it seems pretty accurate that Roger has more probability of finishing #1 than murray.

bleck , 1/2/12 12:43 PM

Of course if you expect murray to win a slam (which I don't) like many people expected in 2009, 2010 and 2011, then maybe he has a chance to be #1.

But murray winning a slam in 2012 is a big IF.

bleck , 1/2/12 12:45 PM

ok bleck, so you're saying you were NOT one of the hundreds who polled fed to be #1 then. fair enough, I believe you.

but fed 16x MORE likely than muzz??!! please, be reasonable. i accept that there is little chance of muzz ending #1, but there must be even less chance of fed doing it at this stage in his career. the one thing in muzz's favour is that he - unlike fed - can still go up a level and that is what it will take for anyone to clip nole's wings as he seems ready to fly again.

What I will say is that there's more than a 50% likelihood of muzz ending nearer #1 than fed. Quote me on that at the end of the year and I'll eat humble pie if I'm wrong. And you're right, bleck, I do expect muzz to win a slam. If fed can say he's too good not to, who am I to thnk otherwise? For muzz not to win a slam would make a pretty freaky stat in light of the other achievements he has already had at 24.

But you missed my point. unlike you, there are many people who have no realistic expectation of fed ending up #1 but would still unhesitatingly poll him for end-of-year #1?

I don't want to be too harsh on TT though, since the poll is actually fascinating for what it REALLY reveals. It shows that objectivity is something a surprising number of fed fans seem resistant to, clearly reduced to clutching at straws now. Not all of them, of course, but quite a number whose love-blindness has hindered their ability to read and think properly. As a muzz fan, I had no difficulty polling nole for year-end #1 without in any way denying my personal support for muzz. I just find the resistance to reality genuinely surprising from fans of one who was always himself the picture of gracefulness on - if not always off - court

alex , 1/2/12 1:25 PM

Ah, isn't it good to have tennis back :-)

alex , 1/2/12 1:32 PM

alex, I polled Novak as no 1 year end. Who ON EARTH is going to topple him? Even more fascinating is the fact that 4.4% think someone unnamed is going to be no 1. Who the heck would that be?

deuce , 1/2/12 1:38 PM

alex, It's really down to Djokovic and nadal for the year-end #1. With djokovic being the overwhelming favourite. I believe some people may have voted with their hearts rather than their heads. But any reasonable tennis follower knows that Djokovic is the the player to beat right now.

As for Federer and murray the probability is of either of them finishing 2012 as #1 is so low that I don't think it's even worth comparing.

As for murray's slam chances, I think his best shot is wimbledon simply because it's djokovic's worse surface. The AO and US Open are djokovic's to lose and nadal is a lock for RG.

But It hink it will all be clearer after the AO.

bleck , 1/2/12 1:50 PM

deuce -

I hadn't even noticed that! they must mean ferrer, berdych, soderling or one of these guys! ha, ha!

Yep, anyone except muzz! And to think of perotta on wanting no more TALKING UP muzz's wonderful potential until he's won a slam.

We have the evidence on this very page of just who is being unjustifiably talked up!

Oh deuce, day 2 and these 'experts' are already in a different galaxy from us?

alex , 1/2/12 2:00 PM

bleck - can't disagree with any of that.

alex , 1/2/12 2:03 PM

"Nadal with a sore shouldre was able to take care of Roger in Abu Dhabi, that gives me a bit of hope for his prospects this year." der-or-lame-excuse-rafa-hedges-his-bets-with-latest-injury

Read. It sums it all up pretty well.

bleck , 1/2/12 2:45 PM e-excuse-rafa-hedges-his-bets-with-latest-injury

Just fixed the link. Everyone who thinks nadal's injuries tend to come and go as he pleases should read this.

bleck , 1/2/12 2:48 PM

Just read it bleck. Felt it was way too harsh.

There may have been some truth in it, but I couldn't help thinking how scary it is that the media that one year adulate a winner can so quickly turn on them when they stop winning.

Personally, I believe the best in rafa and think his biggest problem may be self doubt. Unlike The Mighty One, I think rafa can at times talk up others a bit too much, to the point up undermining himself, and I think this mindset can perhaps subconsciously blow up physical issues out of proportion.
It wouldn't surprise me if rafa is genuinely scared of nole right now and maybe even looking for things to hide behind. But geez, who wouldn't? It's too easy for sports journalists to become couch potatoes lobbing verbal missiles at stars who aren't performing for them as they would like. I'd like to see them do better. But then, their game is talk, not walk.

alex , 1/2/12 3:21 PM

It's just strange saying he is injured and he is going to take a month of in February.
Why not play and then after the AO say he was injured.

Why say it now and then serve a couple of aces against Roger. It seems he's making up excuses for a possible bad result at the AO.

And it generates this kind of comments from his fans:
"Nadal with a sore shoulder was able to take care of Roger in Abu Dhabi, that gives me a bit of hope for his prospects this year."

And why play an exho and a 250 if injured and compromise a slam?!

Either nadal is lying or is not very smart.

bleck , 1/2/12 3:27 PM

Ha! Serving an ace against Roger is hardly a yardstick to judge if someone is injured or not. Suggesting that he should wait until after the AO to announce that he is injured sounds more contrived to me.

I have a feeling he is fending off pressure on him to play Rotterdam and Dubai and he is recovering from a shoulder injury because he has been working on his serve.

nadline , 1/2/12 3:53 PM

bleck, if I were to post a link to an article of a Rafan dissing Federer to support my point of view, would you be stupid enough to accept it?

Rafa's fans can see through Mr Iliev, we were not born yesterday.

nadline , 1/2/12 5:41 PM

On many tennis sites many people are even predicting Rafa to drop out of No 3..guess not many expect anything out of him or are they actually cursing him..not sure :-)

Nice to see a Fedfan on this site bleck actually say year end no 1 will be fight between Nole and Rafa.

And yes I told it as back as RG 2011..Rafa is oh so freaking negative in his statements..its sick..cant tolerate it one hate to see your fav player talking such negative thrash all the time..yucks..I mean speak well about others tats ok, but why run yourself down all the time..can sumone tell him a simple principle - ' The more you start saying things it starts seeoing into your subcoscious and then turns into a mental monster'..and yeah I am a Rafa fan but I have lost sum respect for him because of this non stop cribbing and negative talk and underplaying his chances..atleast shutup for gods sake but dont talk negative

And yes I think as a fan you arent supposed to give excuses for your fav all the time..infact I think you should expect the best out of him and say it loud if you think somethings negative/disturbing

Nole was such a crybaby and whiner before 2011..look how hes changed now..I have hardly seen him talking negative last year and I mean telling things like ' Well yes why cant I repeat my last year, Ill try' is so much welcome than saying ' I dont know if I can repeat my 2010..its impossible no' what Rafa said beg last year..See the the statement and theres world of difference.

Hoping 2012 for Rafa is like his 2010..and I for sure dont expect it to happen at cost of Nole being injured (like it happened for Fed in 2009 at cost of Rafas injury) ..hope he beats Nole at his healthiest best and earns it..if Noles level drops down well thats something I cant say anything n downs are part.

sanju , 1/2/12 6:53 PM

and bleck..I ont think Rafas a lock for RG..I think Nole will have highest motivation for RG thats only slam missing to make up his calendar slam..

I hope Rafa wins atleast 2 slams this year..hope hope :-)

sanju , 1/2/12 6:57 PM

@ bleck and @ alex,

Nadal never stated his shoulder was affecting him in abu dhabi. He stated it affected the amount of time he had to practice prior to the tournament. His shoulder is just fine right now, as it was in abu dhabi. He is lacking practice, that is all. Please can everyone stop obsessing over the shoulder injury, its incredibly boring.

willmw101 , 1/2/12 7:11 PM

willmw101 -
I like rafa and am trying to be fair to him. this is actually the first time I've discussed his shoulder - which is the same number of times as you;) (assuming you yourself haven't mentioned it before), and no more than rafa himself - it was rafa who raised the issue.

alex , 1/2/12 7:44 PM


I was merely passing on some information to you and bleck as your discussion was based around Nadal's shoulder. As for you getting offended regarding me asking for a stop to the shoulder comments, if you take a close look I stated "everyone" not "alex". I addressed the shoulder info to you and bleck and the request for silence or fact based discussion to everyone.

willmw101 , 1/3/12 10:35 AM


Fed, Rafa and Nole, they have different characters. You can't expect Rafa to behave like Fed or Nole. It's Rafa's humility that attracts many fans to him, though now some of us prefer him to be not that humble and not always feels that he may lose to his opponents.

Sometimes, I couldn't help but blame Toni Nadal for Rafa's plight. Why must he make Rafa feels that other top players are more talented than him, so much so that now Rafa buy into it? Now that he lost so many matches to Nole, it'll dampen his spirit and his confidence even more. He's doubting his own abilities now. How many times in 2011 that we watched in horror as Rafa lost matches that he had the abilities to win, breaking his opponents' serves only to be broken back and ended up losing the matches?

I hope Rafa starts believing in himself again and please stops looking up to his player's box during matches. He makes his own decisions on the court and needs no approval from Toni. He just has to go by his own instinct and judgement and trust that his decisions are good enough for him to win his matches! I don't care whether he has injuries or not, but when he decides to play, just tries his best out there whether win or lose, so that no one can accuse him for tanking, or making excuses with his injuries.

luckystar , 1/3/12 1:18 PM

Like always... words of wisdom from Luckystar!
100% correct !

zare , 1/3/12 2:57 PM

willmw - Nadal's fans obsess over injuries. It's just a fact of tennis life. ;)

cherylmurray , 1/3/12 4:28 PM

Quick hands from Nadal on that point. 3 break points for Rafa.

cherylmurray , 1/3/12 4:36 PM

Nadal is playing a heavier, deeper ball than last year. Great signs for Nadal fans.

willmw101 , 1/3/12 4:46 PM

Serving bigger as well

willmw101 , 1/3/12 4:49 PM

Luckystar @ 1.18pm. You are spot on there and you are right, he should be bolstering Rafa's confidence instead of trying to undermine it all the time.

schatz , 1/3/12 5:15 PM

luckystar ..agree..Toni is the villian..I mean I could never tolerate him..

Half of Rafas injuriesa nd speculations in media are courtesy him..he talks way too much..Djokos and Feds coaches are known but they hardly talk to the media..Toni is all around blabbering and shooting his mouth..

And yes him undermining Rafa all the time gets way too much..

I wouldnt be sad if they go seperate ways professionally

sanju , 1/3/12 7:10 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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