• Djokovic overcomes Murray for fourth Australian Open title

    1/27/13 1:23 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Djokovic overcomes Murray for fourth Australian Open title Novak Djokovic comes back from a set down to beat Andy Murray and win his fourth title in Melbourne. Murray falls to 0-3 lifetime in Australian Open finals and 1-5 in Grand Slam finals overall.

    Novak Djokovic stormed past Andy Murray 6-7(2), 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the Australian Open on Sunday night. Djokovic needed three hours and 40 minutes to capture his fourth title in Melbourne and triumph at a Grand Slam for the sixth time in his career.

    Murray was ultimately rewarded for playing a much cleaner first set than his opponent (nine winners and 12 unforced errors to Djokovic's 14 winners and 25 mistakes). But it was Djokovic who had chances to prevent a tiebreaker. Melbourne's two-time defending champion earned four break points in the sixth game and one more in the eighth game, but he could not convert. Four ensuing holds without any drama set up the 'breaker, which Murray dominated from start to finish.

    Roles were reversed in the second set, with Djokovic fighting hard to stay alive before rolling through another tiebreaker. The world No. 1 dug out of a 0-40 hole in his opening service game, saving two break points with aggressive play and benefiting from one errant Murray backhand. He snagged an initial mini-break at 3-2 in the decider thanks to a Murray double-fault and never looked back.

    After 31 service games, the first break of the match finally came with Murray toeing the line at 3-4 in the third. Djokovic took control right away by winning a 36-ball rally and he eventually capitalized on his third break chance of the game when Murray netted a forehand. The top-seeded Serb closed things out immediately thereafter with a love hold.

    Djokovic had momentum squarely in his corner ever since the hold from 0-40 down in the second--and especially after the first break in the third. He never came close to relinquishing his stranglehold throughout the fourth. Murray, struggling physically, dropped serve at 1-1 and again at 1-3 with a double-fault on break point. Djokovic continued to hold from there and a final climb out of 0-30 at 5-2 clinched the championship.

    "What a joy. It's an incredible feeling," said the champion, who now owns six major titles. "It's definitely my favorite Grand Slam; my most successful Grand Slam. I love this court."

    Djokovic finished the final with 47 winners and 61 unforced errors. Murray, who is 1-5 lifetime in slam title matches, recorded 29 winners and 46 errors.

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sigh... the winner could easily be Wawrinka!

OnTheRise , 1/27/13 2:06 PM

unbelievable achievement, just unreal! congrats nole on your 6th slam and many more to come! deserved champion and the world #1. next onto RG.

rfzr , 1/27/13 2:14 PM

Wawa would not have won the title had he beat Djokovic

RickyDimon , 1/27/13 2:24 PM

Ricky, Wawa would have already beaten Djokovic so he would have been playing Murray in the final.

nadline , 1/27/13 2:29 PM

Well deserved win for Djokovic he is clearly one of the greatest hard court players of all time.

tennis2011 , 1/27/13 2:36 PM

Yes WAW would have most likely lost to Berdych had he beaten Djokovic

tennis2011 , 1/27/13 2:46 PM

If Wawa beat Nole, who's to say he would have beaten Ferrer?

I don't understand this logic.

Swansea beat Chelsea. Chelsea is the current European champion. Therefore, Swansea is the best team in Europe.

That's not the case. Everyday is a different day.

nemanja230690 , 1/27/13 2:46 PM

Many congratulations to Nole and his gr8 fans on here, especially zare and danica.
He was much the better player today. He is truly astonishing.
But "Maximus Andreus" will have his revenge in this life.
See you at Wimbledon :)

deuce , 1/27/13 3:10 PM

Too bad for Andy, really. He ran out of gas after the 2nd tb. I really don't understand why. He was 4hs with federer but before that he was the player with less time on court.

Anyways, he had the match in those 3 wasted bps at the beginning of the 2nd set when djokovic was kind of out in the match.

6GS for Djokovic, equals Becker and Edberg. Impressive.

Emiliano55 , 1/27/13 4:16 PM

There was quality in that match, albeit it never looked like being an epic. Congrats Nole! I'm getting used to you winning stuff :D

On to RG. Nole has unfinished business.

samprallica , 1/27/13 4:16 PM

Match wasn't really pretty. The right guy won. If Djoker can complete the career slam at RG then the calendar slam is a real possibility. Still not sure how people thought the second coming was here after one wind-aided GS title.

chr18 , 1/27/13 6:43 PM

Djokovic solid throughout apart from the 1st set and he deserved it. Thought he was very gracious post match. That slightly slower than average surface just suits him. He could easily end up with 5-6 AO titles.

Still it does put things in perspective. Murray was grabbing his legs between points and seemed physically worn down by the 4th. I thought Federer looked physically weaker and slow against Murray, and attributed this solely to his age. But playing a 5 setter with Fed seemed to take a bit of a toll on Murray by the end of match, a player in the prime of his youth.

Bharata , 1/27/13 8:39 PM

Ah samprallica the Rafa hater is out here again with his sly remarks. Why does this person, who claims not to be a Fed fan, hate Rafa so much? Or love Fed so much as to tell lies?

holdserve , 1/27/13 9:23 PM

If Muzza had played as well as he did on Friday, he would have won this. But sadly for us, he seems not to be superfit. The final was an anticlimax. Muzza needs to ignore his injuries when he comes to the final.
At this rate AO might be to Nole what RG is to Rafa. But no, that is not possible because Muzza too is excellent on this surface and from next year, it is probably going to be shared between the two.

holdserve , 1/27/13 9:31 PM

I had to pack it in at 3:00 am after Nole won the second set tb. So I woke up to watch the espn replay today without knowing who won.

Murray really came out playing so well in the first set. Nole seemed to be a bit out of sorts. I guess the key point of the match will be when Murray had Nole down 0-40 in his first service game in that second set. That seemed to relax Nole and he played more freely.

It was obvious that something was bothering Murray later in the match. I thought he would be fit enough for this final, given that he had a pretty easy draw. But I guess that match with Fed took more out of him. I don't really know. But it was a shame that he wasn't able to play at his best. I thought Nole got stronger as the match went on. Once he got the break in the third set and won it, that was pretty much it. I also noticed that Murray wasn't serving as well as he did against Fed.

Commiserations to Andy's fans. He will be back to fight another day. No question about that!

I have so much respect for Nole. That second serve really impressed me once again. The espn commentators mentioned that they asked Lendl about it and he said that it reminded him of his second serve. He felt that was the most underrated part of his game. It takes pressure off when you know that if you don't get your first serve in, then you can still hit a strong second serve. I also respect Nole's mental toughness. He didn't panic when he was down a set and not playing his best. He also did well to hold his serve in the second set.

This won't go down as a classic. But I know that we will be seeing more of these two this year.

Nativenewyorker , 1/27/13 9:54 PM

So sorry, I forgot to say congratulations to the Nole fans here! He deserved to win this final. Well done!

Nativenewyorker , 1/27/13 9:56 PM

Many congrats to nole and fans, this one goes to you and you deserve it.

Muzz must now stay positive, be encouraged by 480 points gained and aim to get to #2 in the rankings before the next slam, to be sure of avoiding nole before a final.

And to those who write off muzz on the clay when it comes - and I've hardly been positive on his clay chances in times past - don't forget he now has a RG champion as his coach ;)

alex , 1/27/13 10:39 PM

Not a Rafa hater, just stated that Nole's chief priority now will be RG. Regardless of whether Nadal is there, or fit enough - Nole will want to win this. Rafa is not a factor in him wanting it. Not everything I say revolves around Rafa, holdserve. I'm a Nole fan. I couldn't care less about what Nadal is doing now.

samprallica , 1/28/13 3:17 AM

"... That slightly slower than average surface just suits him."

actually not really true. andy said when asked about his ROS not being at where usually is, that the surface played faster this year. federer observed the same thing earlier.

rfzr , 1/28/13 3:24 AM

I am a Rafa fan and am glad he got the record RG slams over Borg last year but I think Novak is going to make a push. He got one step farther in 2012. If he does it and completes the career slam I will be glad for him.

pennster , 1/28/13 3:31 AM

^^ Yeah I've never actually begrudged Rafa a victory and I like him but somehow the Rafa fans on this site seem to think I'm insinuating something negative about him on every comment. Case in point, holdserve's response to what I said. I would love to see Nole beat Rafa and win RG but that has nothing to do with what I think about Rafa.

If there is a player I disliked from this era, it was Federer for rather immature reasons initially, and although I can't ever root for him I have grown to like and respect his game a lot.

samprallica , 1/28/13 4:24 AM

samprallica, more lies. But I know whose fan you are so you can deny till you are blue in the face. I suppose you think saying nice things about Fed and claiming he has a poor physique (implying he is not doping and Rafa is, by first establishing the fake premises that the main type of doping in tennis is muscle building steroids) will have more credibility if you claim you don't like him . Recently I saw an old movie, witness for the prosecution, where the wife's testimony (in favor of her husband) is believed because she claims she hates her husband. You are really sly, samprallica, but I am sure everyone here knows whose fan you are and have got tired of your lies and insinuations. I am responding only because I am not a regular and am still in the stage of being shocked by your lies.

holdserve , 1/28/13 6:53 AM

You make me laugh holdserve. Going by your logic, I could accuse you of being a Fed fan just because you want to make the Nadal fan base seem insecure and unbalanced.

samprallica , 1/28/13 7:11 AM

@ alex
How u doing, mate. Am sad but not dis-spirited. Looking forward to the rest of the year.
Re Andy's chances at RG? Not good I'd say. Compared with other top 5, his movement is inferior. He just can't slide.
RG will be a battle between Nole and Rafa, so do hope they are on opposite sides of the draw.
But Wimbles? Now you're talking.
Prepare. Attack. Destroy.

deuce , 1/28/13 8:58 AM

Well we will know in 4.5 months who will win RG, nothing can be said now.

We dont know how Noles form will stay for next 4 months, it may well dip like it did last year or it may well stay consistent like in 2011. Nole sure will he hungry this time, he was gunning for 2 milestones last year - Nole slam (4 in a row) and career slam - Rafa stopped him. How Rafa will return back after injury is a big UNKNOWN now. And theres the added complexity that they could land in the same part of the draw as Rafa can max climb to No 4 before RG . He may well stay realistially at 5 till RG as he has tons of points to defend from now till RG and he is already 1400 points below Ferrer,3000 below Andy,4800 below Roger. This makes it very complex as he may have to worst case beat all the top 3 in QF,SF,F to win the slam.

On a positive note , Rafa will still stay as the youngest to complete career slam at 24 years 3 months even if Nole wins it.

sanju , 1/28/13 9:13 AM

Who would have believed that Djokovic could knock Andy over with a feather. :)

nadline , 1/28/13 9:29 AM

Very nice read for all Djoko fans. He says it is the Melzer match that was the turnaround contrary to what everyone believe that it was DavisCup 2010 . ml

Last line is golden - Murray and the other members of the 'Big Four? could be forgiven for wondering why, on that critical day in Paris, Melzer could not simply have thrown in the towel. :-)

Come to think of it, Djokos transformation is indeed miraculous. He was a butt of joke of many players for retiring, cribbing, complaining, he never used to win the big ones against Rafa or Fed and see the turnaround - remarkable. I myself never ever thought in 2010 that Novak of all people would be this wall, thi mental beast that he has become with unbreakable defense. Truly admirable.

sanju , 1/28/13 9:34 AM n-Open-2013-the-great-rivalry-with-Novak-Djokovic-will-be-the-making-o f-Andy-Murray.html

Another very good one and he has a point

Federer made Rafa

Rafa and Fed jointly made Novak (not sure who developed Novak more, any thoughts? I think Rafa but not sure)

Djokovic will make Murray


sanju , 1/28/13 9:43 AM

Nole always has the talent there. Like Murray, what he lacks is fitness. Now that he has worked on it and is in his peak, we're now seeing his best tennis in full flow. To me, he's a hybrid of Fed and Rafa, hard to say who influenced him more. He'll never be the artist like Fed, or that humble and unorthodox warrior like Rafa, but he has his own style and personality and his own followers. I would also say Murray is also a hybrid of Fedal, with the varieties like Fed but
with the tennis brain like Rafa's.

It's a pity Rafa is injury prone, I feel we've missed seeing the best of Rafa. Hopefully we can see a better Rafa than the 2012 version, more aggression and with a better serve.

luckystar , 1/28/13 10:23 AM

sanju, why are you so pessimistic? Rafa will be playing many clay events and in three months' time, his fitness and match sharpness should be back to normal level as long as his knee is OK. Initially, he'll have his stamina issue, understandable, as he's out of competition for so long, and that's why I hope he works on his serves to gain some cheap points and shortens his matches.

Don't forget, Fed has 3360 points to defend before the FO; Nole has 2920 before the FO. Rafa has 4220 points to defend but he'll be adding points from the SA swing. He can gain points at Madrid too as he was knocked out early there last year. Whether Rafa will make it to top four, or two that also depends on how well the current top four are doing. Lets wait for Feb to come and see how Rafa plays, lets not worry unnecessarily.

luckystar , 1/28/13 10:47 AM

If Rafa remains at No.5 at the French Open, I hope he meets Djokovic in the quarters!

atul1985 , 1/28/13 12:05 PM

^^^ Why?

luckystar , 1/28/13 12:11 PM

Nadal will take at least 2/3 months to return to form but playing low profile clay court events makes no sense

tennis2011 , 1/28/13 12:33 PM

^^^ That is exactly WHY it makes sense.

Conspirator , 1/28/13 2:45 PM

If there is a player I disliked from this era, it was Federer for rather immature reasons initially, and although I can't ever root for him I have grown to like and respect his game a lot.
samprallica, 1/28/13 4:24 AM

This is how I feel about Federer. I'm a big fan of his game, talent, accomplishments, artistry, longevity, consistency, etc. but I could never bring myself to actually cheer for him for so many other reasons. I admit that I cheer for "anyone but Fed" yet I still marvel at watching him play.

I don't like that he passed Sampras in slam count (hey, I'm human) and could never forgive him for that. Media fawning, draw/schedule favoritism, his comments/excuses regarding other players pretty much cemented that feeling.

But he's still the GOAT IMO.

Come back Rafa!!!!!


Conspirator , 1/28/13 2:56 PM

Nadal will take at least 2/3 months to return to form but playing low profile clay court events makes no sense
tennis2011 , 1/28/13 12:33 PM

When Rafa took his first looooooog injury time out in 2004 he came back and won MC, Rome, Barcelona and RG straight off at the beginning of 2005, and he was far less experienced than he is now.

nadline , 1/28/13 3:39 PM

BTW, why isn't Muzz playing Dubai this year???

Fed has 2500 points to defend before end of March and Muzz only has 900 (incl. 300 from Dubai).

According to his web site, he is not playing again until IW in March.

ATP web site rankings not up to date. They are slipping. Usually they are very good at updating rankings immediately. Of course, nowhere near as bad as TT which still has Fed at No. 1. haha

Speaking of Fed, nice of him to clarify what he said to Muzz during that heated moment...


Conspirator , 1/28/13 3:45 PM

Lots of great musings from Tiggy here including Muzz vs The Feather and VikaGate, ...


Conspirator , 1/28/13 4:03 PM

@lucky - as we wouldnt have to wait till the finals to know who will win the french.

atul1985 , 1/28/13 4:07 PM

For those who haven't yet read it (and care to), great, great article (as always) from Tiggy on the AO final...

My favourite quotes...

"A few minutes later, he was unhappier still as he went down 0-40 on his serve. Djokovic was tense and out of sorts, slipping on the court, glaring at his player?s box, berating himself on changeovers, and struggling with his some of his favorite shots, including his patented defensive backhand.

In other words, Nole had his old friend Andy right where he wanted him. "

"Up 15-40 on Djokovic's serve at 1-0 in the second set, Murray had a look at a mid-court backhand that he could have smacked. He had smacked similar shots for winners in his last match, against Roger Federer. Instead, Murray, thinking that Djokovic was out of sorts and ripe for a mistake, pushed it back and hoped for an error. Djokovic chose that moment to stop being out of sorts. He saved three break points and held with a confident forehand attack. In those five minutes, the match had changed. Djokovic was on his feet again."

Conspirator , 1/28/13 4:13 PM

samprallica: inquisition is back :lol:. i'll tell you what; retards are destroying this tennis forum each day piece by piece, it is a lost battle.

rfzr , 1/28/13 5:10 PM

Tignor misremembers what happened

Murray DID go for the backhand at 15-40. He smacked it just long and wide to the backhand corner of the court.

RickyDimon , 1/28/13 5:56 PM

Sorry RD, no. Tiggy (as usual) was accurate.

Nole saves the second break point as Tiggy reports according to the live blog below...

From Eurosport Live Blog of the match...

- - DJOKOVIC 6-7(2) 1-1 - Ouch! Djokovic has completely lost his concentration and he quickly finds himself 0-40 down. Three break points to Murray. The first goes begging with a forehand long, while Djokovic saves the second with a forehand winner down the line. The third also goes astray for Murray. And Djokovic goes on to hold at the second attempt with a great drop shot, that Murray can only hit back into the net. That was another epic point!

Conspirator , 1/28/13 7:00 PM


Conspirator , 1/28/13 7:04 PM

"Still not sure how people thought the second coming was here after one wind-aided GS title..."

The wind `aided` Murray in New York, fetch Conspirator it was a conspiracy!
I have an idea, lets move the entire tour indoors where theres no chance of pesky things like Andy Murray supporting weather systems & the elements in general.
Oh and the 2nd coming is still on its way ;)

Twinge , 1/28/13 7:20 PM

Besides, last time I checked, don't players switch ends throughout the match or did the wind suspiciously change directions during change of sides?


Conspirator , 1/28/13 7:23 PM

Trust a fedfan to whinge & spin about a bit of wind.
And yes both players used the wind to tactical effect at the change of ends.
`Even` Novak is capable of doing that
The fifth set was very calm however.
and Im not just talking about the weather ;)

Twinge , 1/28/13 7:32 PM

Oh Conspirator @7.23pm

deuce , 1/28/13 7:41 PM

^^Was Conspirator being funny in that post?
This is a serious discussion Deuce please keep up and no giggling in the back!

Twinge , 1/28/13 7:46 PM

Twingey, didn't u know that Andy's fans caused the wind by blowing on their to speak.
Did u pick up my comment that I've read that Andy has had to play numero 1 in ALL his GS finals?

deuce , 1/28/13 7:56 PM

But our new tennis boffin contradicted you Deuce, somewhat.
Still I wonder how many times the other three had to play number ones in finals?
Particualrly Fed ie phillopussy and roddick bagdhatis and the like, oh but thats different of course and i heard it was quite windy in those finals so its only fair!
Oh well what doesnt kill ya can only make you stronger,
or drive you CRAZY

Twinge , 1/28/13 8:00 PM

"Twingey, didn't u know that Andy's fans caused the wind by blowing on their bazookas..."

Oh & i thought only I could pull that one off Deuce,
we are a talented bunch aren't we?

Twinge , 1/28/13 8:07 PM

The only one-sided wind worth mentioning is all of the hot air coming from all the fedbot fanboys. RogerLoverF aka tennisnba, you know what I'm talking about.


Conspirator , 1/28/13 8:08 PM

Twingey, did new boffin say 1 wasn't? Cos that's true, but the others....He's only played Fed or Nole anyway, 3 each? Apparently Lendl brought fact up in interview. Not many other players... not saying exact number cos anxiously looking round for boffin...have made 3 consecutive grand slam finals either.

deuce , 1/28/13 8:29 PM

All Rafa needs is to be fit and healthy the rest will take care of itself. Thankfully, Rafa had got the Nole mouse off his back with three straight wins and the one he lost was anybody's match it was that close.

nadline , 1/28/13 9:33 PM

^^^I meant 'monkey' not mouse. Maybe it was just a mouse he had on his back.

nadline , 1/28/13 9:47 PM

^^ Yes Rafa was unfit and unhealthy through 2011. A flu that persisted through the season? Incredible, that must have been one nasty virus. Also incredible that he was beating everyone but one man in the finals.

@Conspirator , 1/28/13 2:56 PM
The immature reason I alluded to was mostly being unable to accept that Fed was better than Sampras. Sampras still played in conditions that were a whole lot more polarized though.

rfzr , 1/28/13 5:10 PM

Seems to be a lost cause, but we can hope. Anything negative about Rafa is jumped on immediately.

samprallica , 1/29/13 1:37 AM

samprallica, Could you explain how by my logic I am a Fed fan? Clearly your statement is totally absurd. Anyway, I give you a chance to prove you are logical by setting out what is my logic and how by that logic you can prove I am a Fed fan.

holdserve , 1/29/13 3:21 AM

"Rafa had got the Nole mouse off his back with three straight wins and the one he lost was anybody's match it was that close..."

Wishful thinking & arrogant to boot, Rafa will use the clay season to boost his confidence but he hasnt got the Novak `mouse` off his back by a long shot. Nobody has.
Also this whole thing that Rafa was up a break in the fifth in the AO, Im sorry but against Count Djokula that's nothing!
Andy had what 8 MP's against him in Shanghai & the WTF and he still lost.
It will be very interesting to see but Novak is the number one player for a reason and wont be easy to vanquish this coming year for anyone including Nadal.

Twinge , 1/29/13 10:42 AM

"Twingey, did new boffin say 1 wasn't? Cos that's true, but the others....He's only played Fed or Nole anyway, 3 each? Apparently Lendl brought fact up in interview. Not many other players... not saying exact number cos anxiously looking round for boffin...have made 3 consecutive grand slam finals either..."

Not to your usual grammatical excellence in this one eh Deuce, it gave me a headache lol

Twinge , 1/29/13 11:00 AM

I don't agree Twinge. Rafa did have his chances at the AO final last year. I would also say that he had his chances in 2011 Miami final. Now if Rafa won that match, no one would be talking about Rafa's six losses in 2011! At that point, Nole still wasn't that v2 Nole just yet. It was after he beat Rafa twice in a row that his transformation was complete. Remember, Rafa was the only player he had not beaten then after the AO/Dubai (he had beaten Murray in the AO final and Fed in the SF and Dubai final). Also, those two defeats had caused much damage to Rafa's confidence and so led to further defeats along the way.

For some, they're not convinced by Rafa's three victories over Nole in 2012, but do remember Rafa had to battle many demons before getting those three victories. He ran the risk of losing his FO crown, losing four slams in a row, and on all surfaces, to one player, ie Nole. Were he to lose those three encounters last year, he would have lose to Nole ten in a row!! IOW, Rafa's reputation was at stake. You can see the relief on the faces of his whole team when he won the FO last year.

Whether Rafa would have confidence issue when facing Nole again, no one would know for sure. I do hope after this long break, his tendinitis problem would heal to an acceptable and manageable level; he would have no worry anymore and goes all out to play aggressively, at least tries his best to win as much as possible. Just hope that he manages his schedule carefully to prevent the recurrence of his tendinitis issue.

luckystar , 1/29/13 1:55 PM

^^You cant just say that, you are suggesting that it all turned on one match otherwise etc. Novak's real eureka moment was not defeating Nadal, it was winning the Davis Cup.
Novak had entered his prime, he had his tactics, he was breaking down Nadal's forehand making him play more and more defensively and getting him out of position, even if Rafa had won Miami it does not mean he would have denied Djokovic. But he seemed to have an answer to the challenge posed by Novak on his beloved clay courts for sure.
I am pretty sure however that Rafa WILL have a confidence issue with the other top players because he has been out for, frankly, ages. Hence the golden swing tour right? This might be all Novak needs to steamroller him again (but hopefully that wont happen, i was bored at the end of the Novak 2011)
I would prefer that none of the 4 players have confidence issues with each other, its best they play their best on the day, but Tennis is 50% in the head as they say.
Murray is a trainwreck in this respect but hey

a. Got his first slam
b. beat fed in a slam.

So it is inevitably improving itself.

Next destination...not too feel underconfident against Nadal on anything but a clay court!

Twinge , 1/29/13 2:14 PM

Agree with Twinge re Nole 2.0 release date.

It took a peak Nole to physically wear down and outlast Rafa at IW and Miami. He didn't get any better than that!


Conspirator , 1/29/13 2:18 PM

... Mind you it was more IMPRESSIVE that Nole carried that success onto clay vs Rafa, but it doesn't mean he was "better" than he was on hc.

All subjective semantics anyhoo.


Conspirator , 1/29/13 2:20 PM

Nole did go through a bit of a funk in terms of his level and consistency through the spring and summer last year - i'm surprised that hasn't been accounted for. his forehand and serve is closer to 2011 this year that it was the last so I'm confident he can do bigger things this year. Still feel grass is the tougher assignment because there are arguably two superior grass courters in the world than him. And his shoes are bad enough on hard courts :P

samprallica , 1/29/13 2:44 PM

^^^ Don't understand your above two posts. First, if Rafa had won that Miami match, he would have no confidence issue against Nole, not forgetting the next two encounters were on clay! Nole didn't transform his game overnight. Rafa's CC forehand was always to Nole's backhand and on clay, Rafa still had the advantage. By losing two HC masters finals in a row, it had dampened Rafa's spirit but at the same time, increased Nole's confidence and self belief. Nole might still win one of those two clay titles against Rafa, but I'm sure he won't be as confident as he was winning all of them. Don't forget, before that IW final, Nole had never beaten Rafa in a Masters final. Also, I'm not sure that had Nole lost some of those encounters, he would be the v2 that we saw in 2011.

By the time they meet on clay this season, Rafa would've played at Chile, Brazil, Mexico, IW and Miami, enough match plays to get him back on track. Why would he have confidence issue if his body is in perfect conditions? Even he he loses some of the clay Masters, he knows very
well that's because he's not back to his best level yet, not because he's playing his best and still lose; there's lots of differences there, IMO.

luckystar , 1/29/13 2:48 PM

He might have a confidence issue against the top players as he had not played against them for quite a long time. I'm not really thinking about the clay court run but in general. You cant just come back on the tour and all of a sudden be playing your best. Its unrealistic to expect that i think, maybe the golden swing will be enough, but now you mention it i would say that IW and Miami shall tell us a bit more about where Nadals game is right now. And that according to you was where it all began last time no?
Not beating Rafa on a clay court is not a confidence dampner for Novak, but it would be bad news for Nadal if he lost, i think, and if Novak won a few regardless, of the circumstances he would see himself as having a big chance at RG. Anyway its more likely he will not and at some point Rafa will get his groove back ;)

Twinge , 1/29/13 3:01 PM

I only agreed with Twingey regarding the timing of Nole's peak and already explained my opinion. Are you saying that Nole got even BETTER after IW and that said better Nole would have beaten Rafa even more convincingly? I don't agree at all.

Besides, IF the events occured that you descirbed above happened, THEN yes there might be somewhat different story lines, but they didn't so I'm not sure what is the point of this revisionism.


Conspirator , 1/29/13 3:02 PM

Actually other than Fed and Murray (if we exclude Rafa), Tsonga is another player who's very good on grass too. He's good enough to beat Fed on grass but spent too much energy doing so that he had nothing left for his next match against Nole. If he plays well enough to reach the QF and happens to be in Nole's quarter, then I fancy his chances against Nole. After all, Nole was't that impressive on grass last year, losing even to Delpo at the Olympics, and that's after Delpo's long match against Fed.

luckystar , 1/29/13 3:06 PM

^^I think the concern is that Novak is going to dominate Nadal when he gets back and so the revisionism is a way to show that that will not happen as it might never have happened anyway but for an unlucky IW and Miami.
Oh and an unlucky AO etc.
I doubt Novak will dominate Nadal (or Andy) again anyway but clearly its a cause for anxiety after 2011. However he is certainly going to be a lot harder to deal with than he was prior to 2011.
No one can disagree with that i think.

Twinge , 1/29/13 3:11 PM

Conspirator, did you follow the comments here? It all started when nadline mentioned that the three wins Rafa had last year over Nole would get the monkey off Rafa's back; it seemed that Twinge didn't agree and so we started this discussion. The verdict is not out yet as to whether Rafa would've regain his confidence after those three wins. We'll only find out when Rafa starts playing again.

luckystar , 1/29/13 3:14 PM

^^I didnt quite agree with that no.
For the simple reason that I think Rafa is the CCG and he was always going to have an answer to Novak on the the clay courts. I think it remains to be seen if that answer can be transferred to the rest of the tour on other surfaces.
It had to be done at the very least however.

Twinge , 1/29/13 3:23 PM

nadline , 1/29/13 3:59 PM

Winning davis cup was the eureka moment that set him on to the 2011 tour like a bat from hell & that nothing could stop him etc.
The other earlier was a ice cold reality check.

Twinge , 1/29/13 4:04 PM

Rafa was brassed off with tennis in 2011, he actually said he'd lost the passion for the game because it felt like he'd been on tour for 100 years. That surely had a part to play in all his losses against Nole. Rafa was pushed at RG by Isner, Anduja and even Lorenzi, he simply wasn't in the groove that year which made things easier for Nole.

Rafa has said that if you are not mentally tuned in to compete your game alone is not enough. After this break, he will be rejuvenated; he will not be longing to spend more time on his beloved island doing normal things that he's missed out on since he was 15. He'll be ready to roll.

I think Rafa always wanted to take a break, that's why he was fighting for the 2 year ranking system because he knew that to get his knees really sorted he needed to rest for a good length of time but he was scared of going down the rankings. He bit the bullet and he has done it. I hope this is it now and he will come back fit not having to be patched up with pain killers before nearly all his matches.

Rafa is the best in more ways than one.

nadline , 1/29/13 4:12 PM

"Rafa is the best in more ways than one..."

And i am sure you will describe every one of those ways in every way, every day that you can dear.
You talk as if he purposely took a holiday from Tennis when in fact he had to remove himself due to injury.
At least I think that is the case.

Twinge , 1/29/13 4:25 PM

At present nole is favourite against nadal in AO & Wimby,UO. I think nadal is clear favourite for only RG.

Murray is favourite against nole in Wimby, UO & AO (slightly).
Murray is favourite against nadal in US,Wimby, AO (Slight) [Murray isn't the same player as most of u think]
Murray is favourite against fedex in US,AO, Wimby (Slight)

Rafa is favourite against nole & murray in only RG
Rafa is favourite against Roger on all surfaces.

Roger is favourite against nole only in Wimby (slight)
Roger is favourite against murray only in RG (slight until their 1st meeting)

These are all as per present situation and unbiased view.

chenna21 , 1/29/13 4:31 PM

I agree with both nadline and Twinge. Rafa is the best. But going forward, after the injury break, we have a big question mark. When Rafa is fit (100%), nobody can beat him. The combination of his skills, physical attributes and mental strength is just the best in the business.
But, Rafa is coming back after an injury which is not properly understood by us. I am not even sure it is not an ACL injury. Players downplay the severity of their injuries in order not to give any psychological advantage to their rivals.
The length of the absence makes me worried, very worried. I will believe the 100% Rafa is back only if he wins Wimbledon. 90% Rafa can win RG.
If he repeats the channel slam.....

holdserve , 1/29/13 4:45 PM

Looking at chenna21's post, I do believe he tries his best to be unbiased. Thank you chenna for your post.

holdserve , 1/29/13 4:47 PM

"When Rafa is fit (100%), nobody can beat him. The combination of his skills, physical attributes and mental strength is just the best in the business..."

What anywhere?

Twinge , 1/29/13 4:52 PM

chenna21, let others be the judge of whether you are biased or not.

nadline , 1/29/13 4:55 PM

"Murray is favourite against nole in Wimby, UO & AO (slightly)..."

Did you SEE what happened last Sunday chennai?
Agree with wimbledon and 50/50 about the US Open.

Twinge , 1/29/13 4:56 PM

I am still thinking that murray is clearly the better player against nole in 1st 2 sets but just 1 or 2 points made the difference.

Also murray is clearly exhausted from semi and also due to these damn blisters. In the 1st 2 sets murray is dominating even baseline rallies, I think murray this year definitely going to win Wimby & US open.

chenna21 , 1/29/13 5:03 PM

Oh i'll go with all of that chenna21 (but Novak is still fav for the AO to me).
Careful however as i think you are morphing into a Muzzan ;)

Twinge , 1/29/13 5:09 PM

holdserve, I agree with your post except that I don't know what ACL means so can't say I agree with that bit. You are right that we have to wait and see the Rafa that comes back. Judging by his practice videos, I think he'll be exactly the same but fitter.

nadline , 1/29/13 5:10 PM

I actually think Muzz is more of a threat to Rafa than the other two if he gets his 'A' game going even though I would pick Rafa to win most of the time. Nole's game is awesome when he is accurate and doesn't miss because he just swings freely. There is not that much nuance to his game.

nadline , 1/29/13 5:16 PM

Rafa and Nole are 1-1 at the USO and the AO, I believe.

nadline , 1/29/13 5:17 PM

AO nole leads 1-0, US 1-1, RG rafa leads 4-0, wimby 1-1

chenna21 , 1/29/13 5:27 PM

I dont agree. Andy will not lose to Rafa most of the time anymore. Out of clay.
Even since Rafa has left Andy has become a different player & will continue to change.
Rafa was most clearly the player that highlighted Andy's main problem;
his lack off aggression particularly on the forehand side.
Well now that is clearly different .
Same with Novak I just can't see Nadal as favourite on any surface other than clay until he actually does it now.
These players do not exist in a vacuum, they are constantly developing but Andy is the one showing the most month by month improvements, he has taken a long time to mature and still isnt quite there yet.
Nadal peaked years ago.
It's logical to assume that in this instance the past will not be a garuntee of future dominance..

Twinge , 1/29/13 5:37 PM

Nole is a strong and clear 2:1 favourite over Rafa, Muzz and Federer right now for Wimby '13 according to Muzz and Fed are very slight favourites ahead of Rafa (and this is when Rafa has been out for seven months). If Rafa returns above expectations, based on current odds, he will be the second favourite at Wimbledon this year based on professional betting circles.

For FO, the favourites to win in order are currently Rafa, Nole, Muzz and Fed last.

For USO, current favourites in order are Nole with Muzz 2nd. Rafa and Fed are tied for 3rd favourites.


Conspirator , 1/29/13 6:02 PM

^^Well Novak has won it but that was 2011 & all that..
This far out I don't buy the odds, theyre just chasing the biggest noise at the moment.

Twinge , 1/29/13 6:05 PM

@Twinge , 1/29/13 5:37 PM

If you say so Twinge.

nadline , 1/29/13 6:05 PM

Yup novak will be favourite if murray gets another brutal draw like nadal in QF, Federer in SF and Finally Novak in Final..

Also fedex is Defending champion at Wimby, I think he may get some extra points while calculating seeding at Wimby also nadal is defending champion at RG so he is not going to gain so many points so that again he can be in Top 4.

So most probably seeding at wimby may be like this nole 1, fedex 2nd, murray 3rd, ferrer 4th, nadal 5th.

chenna21 , 1/29/13 6:22 PM

I believe that holdserve was referring to the anterior cruciate ligament. ACL is short for that. However, if Rafa did injure it then he would have needed surgery. I don't know that it serves any purpose to speculate about any other injury to his knee. His doctor has given reports on his diagnosis and treatment. From what I read, they decided to take the more conservative approach and not opt for surgery to repair the tear in Rafa's knee.

Rafa's people also mentioned that he had to have his wisdom teeth removed and that set his recovery back. As far as the length of time it took for the injury to heal, we should remember that Rafa was playing in pain since Miami when he had to withdraw after beating Tsonga in the quarterfinals. He was getting injections to get him through the clay season. That's how he played during RG. I am sure that this aggravated the injury. He had a few things going on in the knee, so I can see why it would take time for everything to completely heal.

We won't know anything until Rafa is out on the court playing in competition. That will be the real test for his knee. If it's okay and he can continue playing and getting into good form, then he could be ready for the clay court season.

There's a lot of speculation going on right now. Whether Rafa will struggle with confidence issues against the top players having been out for so long, cannot be known until we see him face them. It's not easy coming back after being out so long. But the important thing is that he is finally healthy.

Nativenewyorker , 1/29/13 7:17 PM

^^^I like.

nadline , 1/29/13 7:25 PM

ACL tear is no fun (I tore mine 15 years ago). Common way to tear it is by a sudden planting of the foot while pivoting. I'm surprised that we don't hear of many ACL injuries in tennis. Fairly common in hockey and football. I can't recall any professional tennis player injuring his/her ACL. Petkovic recently had a meniscus tear but that is relatively minor.

I think it would be extremely difficult for a tennis player to return to peak past performance after an ACL tear/repair. 6 months to a year recovery.

Conspirator , 1/29/13 7:34 PM

I believe that Rafa had a tear in a tendon in his knee. I don't exactly remember the specific diagnosis. But then there was this fat pad inflammation. It was like a few things that just seemed to build up as he pushed himself to continue playing.

ACL injuries do seem to occur in football. I have seen a few players suffer those in the middle of a game. You can always tell, because they can't move and the pain seems to be excruciating.

I have had experience with a meniscus tear but that's definitely nowhere near as serious. They actually didn't do surgery on me because it was a subtle tear that responded to a cortisone injection and physical therapy.

I have to agree that an ACL tear would take much longer with the recovery process. My understanding is that this type of injury does require surgery.

As I said, speculating about some other more serious injury really serves no purpose. Rafa's doctor has given his diagnosis, treatment plan and updates. I see no reason for them to be anything other than truthful. I think the fact that Rafa tried to continue to play with the pain is what made it worse and harder to heal.

Then Rafa had that stomach bug, but maybe it was best that he didn't try to return at Abu Dhabi and Doha and the AO. It makes sense for him to start out on clay.

I think we will know more once we actually see him play. At least Rafa has the chance to gain some ranking points in these first tournaments. We all know that he will want to be ready for the clay court season and especially RG.

Nativenewyorker , 1/29/13 11:49 PM

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