By Greg Rusedski
The Indian Wells masters series is always a difficult event for the players. They have to get used to playing in the desert air as the ball travels a little quicker and further than you expect. Thus they have to move quicker, tighten their racquet strings, or put more top spin on the ball to bring it into court. That is why the top players like to arrive as early as possible.
Roger Federer came into the event in great form having won Rotterdam and Dubai. Rafael Nadal on the other hand hadn’t played a match in 40 days and it would be interesting to see if he was rusty. Novak Djokovic had been playing well all year, even though he lost in the semi-finals in Dubai to Andy Murray. Djokovic looks very confident, he is not as concerned about winning every event as he was last year. He is comfortable being world number 1 and looks more focused on winning majors. This year expect him to balance out his schedule more and play a little less tennis.
By Greg Rusedski
Again, in the men’s draw it turned out to be all about the top four in the world. In the semi-finals it was Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic versus Andy Murray. Could Federer finally beat Nadal in a major again? The last time he beat Nadal at a major was 2007 in the Wimbledon final. Nadal leads Federer in their Grand Slam matches 7 wins to 2 losses.
Federer started like a house on fire to win the first set, but Nadal wasn’t worried. He knew he could not lose to Federer in a major because he knew that physically he would wear him down. When that happens Federer loses his concentration ever so fractionally and that is when Rafa pounces and turns the match in his favor. The strategy against Federer is simple for Nadal. Nadal’s left handed high heavy topspin forehand moves Federer all over the court and breaks down Federer’s backhand side. Physically, Federer cannot keep up with Nadal in a three out of five set match anymore. Federer has to beat Nadal in three sets, which is nearly impossible. Also on his serve Rafa can start the point on his terms because Federer cannot really attack his serve with the one-handed backhand.
By Greg Rusedski
The big Australian hope for the woman’s title Sam Stosur, the U.S. Open champion, went out in the first round which wasn’t a huge surprise. She said in all her press conferences before the event about how she wasn’t dealing with the pressure and home expectations. In my experience, even if a player is feeling that way they shouldn’t bring it up at a press conference as it could potentially give the opponent an extra belief. Sam will learn from this and hopefully get stronger for it.
On the men’s side, Australia’s big hope Bernard Tomic played well and is the real deal. He loves playing with the Australian pressure and expectation. Unfortunately for Tomic in the fourth round he came up against the great Roger Federer. It was another entertaining match from Tomic but Federer was just too good. Tomic is an exciting player to watch because of the variety in his game. He can hit any shot and mixes the pace of the ball all the time. He is a great thinker on the court and is a natural born winner. At only 19 years of age he should be in the top 10 very soon if he keeps working.
By Greg Rusedski
The Davis Cup final between Spain and Argentina was always going to be a great tie. The atmosphere was electric due to the huge Argentinian contingent in Seville who were present to support their team. Both the Spanish and Argentinian fans got into the tie and with 26,000 plus spectators the atmosphere was more like a football match.
The tie all depended on how well Juan Martin Del Potro played on the opening day. The feeling was that he had to win his opening match on day one for Argentina to have a chance to win the tie. No one was going to beat Rafa on clay, and the only player to have done so all year was Djokovic. The other problem for Del Potro was that Nadal and David Ferrer were 25 and 0 on clay in Davis Cup. Yes, Nadal and Ferrer were a little tired after the ATP World Tour Finals but playing on clay at home was a huge advantage. Nadal looked physically strong at the ATP World Tour Finals but was unlucky to have picked up a stomach bug and never recovered properly for the event. This was bad news for the Argentinians because he was going to take out his frustration on the clay courts of Seville.
By Greg Rusedski
There was a lot going on in the press at The ATP World Tour Finals before the event started. The press asked Roger Federer who was the favorite for the event. The press had implied that Andy Murray was the favorite because of the three tournaments he had won in Asia. Federer answered this question by saying that neither he nor Novak Djokovic had played in Asia so how could he be the favorite? Federer came into this event having won the last two tournaments of the year, this event on five different occasions and also as the defending champion. This set up the tournament in a great way because the only way to settle this discussion would be on the court.
The two groups were Group A; Djokovic, Murray, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych and Group B; Federer, Rafael Nadal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish. Group B was the more interesting and stronger group.
By Greg Rusedski
The Paris Masters was going to determine who was going to be the last players to qualify for the ATP world finals in London. The last few places were up for grabs and all the players that were in pole position ended up qualifying. The top eight for the field ended up being Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish.
The other story of the week concerned Djokovic and whether he would play after shoulder problems in Basel. If he didn’t play he would have missed his commitments for the master series events and it would have cost him over 1 million pounds in bonus pool money. He did play!
The season-ending WTA championships had many story lines. Could Maria Sharapova recover from her ankle injury to threaten at the year-end championships and become world number one again? Would one of the new major winners lift the trophy? Could Caroline Wozniacki continue her reign as world number one for a second straight year and win the end of season championships for the first time?
This is the first time the end of season championships have been held in Istanbul, Turkey. The crowds have been packed all week so it was an excellent choice of city. The stadium looked great and so did the green tennis court with the purple outer court. The tennis throughout was brilliant.
The end of season for the top players can be a tough time because of fatigue; all their work is based around peaking for the slams. With Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both out of action (neither have played since the last Davis cup tie) the top two seeds were Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray for the Shanghai Masters Series.
Murray has been playing really well having won in Thailand and Tokyo leading into the Shanghai event. Murray has made a concerted effort to play more aggressively, also the courts are faster and so it actually forces him to play more aggressively which is a good thing.
The Great Britain Junior Davis Cup team were trying to win the Junior Davis Cup for the first time in UK history. We have a great team and were seeded number 1 because we won the European team championships for the first time this summer.
The team consisted of Kyle Edmund at number 1, who at 16 had made the semi-finals of the junior U.S. Open, Luke Bambridge at number 2, and Evan Hoyt at number 3. We prepared very well by getting to Mexico 6 days early to acclimatise to the altitude, time zone, and heat. We were determined to win. The reason we arrived 6 days early is that it takes a day for every hour to adjust to the time zone. The ball flies quicker and further through the air because of the altitude. Also in altitude it is harder to breath because of the air.
As the number 1 seeds we drew Thailand, Germany and Canada in our group to qualify for the semi-finals. We had to beat all the teams to be certain of qualifying, which we did. We won all our matches but it wasn’t quite as straight forward as that. Evan Hoyt our third ranked boy was struck down with food poisoning an hour before his opening match against Thailand and our number 1 Kyle Edmund was on antibiotics for the whole event because of a fever and couldn’t play singles on the opening day against Thailand. These kinds of situations are always a balancing act, but the depth of the team is so good that we could play any one of the three boys.
The U.S. Open final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was one of the most physical battles ever seen on a tennis court.
The sheer speed of their groundstrokes and length of the rallies were incredible. Djokovic dominated Nadal in the first two sets, to win them 6-2 6-4. He was on top of the baseline forcing Nadal to play well behind the baseline and not allowing him to play inside the court and dictate. Nadal though is tenacious and was down a break three times in the third set and broke Djokovic while serving for the match to end up winning the third set in a tiebreaker. Unfortunately, Nadal had nothing left in the fourth set.