The Reuters global sports blog
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.
Nadal won the opening match easily against Juan Monaco to get Spain off to the perfect start. This meant Juan Martin Del Potro was under immense pressure to win. It was Ferrer and Del Potro’s first meeting on clay. Their head to head was two a piece, Ferrer came through in five sets after being down 2 sets to 1. Ferrer is a terrier and never gives up, Del Potro physically fell away in the fifth set while Ferrer seemed to only get stronger – the lack of matches played by Del Potro really hurt him.
On the other hand Nadal and Ferrer have had lots of matches coming into the tie, proving that practice can never substitute match play for sharpness on the big points. In the doubles, Argentina’s Nalbandian and Schwank beat Spain’s Verdasco and Lopez to send the tie to a final day. In my opinion Spain’s captain, Albert Costa made a tactical error picking Verdasco to play instead of Granollers. At the moment Verdasco is not playing well. This would have been a big mistake had Del Potro won on the opening day. In the end though, when you have Rafael Nadal to play on the final day in the first singles you are going to get your decisive third point. Nadal found a way, as always, against an inspired Del Potro to clinch Spain’s fifth Davis Cup title.
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.
Week two of the U.S. Open had many stories. Would the weather destroy the momentum of the event? How would the courts hold up? Will the U.S. Open finally make plans to build a roof? Who would be the men’s and woman’s U.S. Open champions?
On the woman’s side Serena Williams made the finals easily and was the big favorite to win the title against Sam Stosur. Stosur had the longest match in US Open history and played the longest tie breaker in U.S. open history as well, to make the finals. Nobody except Sam Stosur thought she would win. If she won, she would become the first Australian woman to win a major since 1980. She played the match of her life and won 6-2 6-3.
The first week of the US Open is always interesting. It’s easy to get a sense of what is going to happen, who is playing well and who is struggling. The weather conditions have been warm but not as humid and hot as last year, no major issues for the players – with the exception of Rafael Nadal and his cramps post match during his press conference.
On the men’s side Novak Djokovic has been sensational and has appeared to have had no issues with his shoulder that was worrying him in Cincinnati. Djokovic still looks like the favorite and is hitting the ball better than anyone in the tournament. Roger Federer has looked good as well, but had his first test against Mario Cilic. The big question mark around Federer is how will he play the big points if he plays Djokovic in the semi-finals but before getting there he has a tough section.
The men’s side of this year’s US Open is going to be very interesting.
Will Novak Djokovic’s shoulder hold up and can he win his third major of the year? Will Roger Federer win another major with one of the toughest sections of the draw? Can Rafael Nadal get his form back to defend the title? Will Andy Murray win his first major? And finally, who are the dark horses?
Djokovic’s first two rounds look comfortable, then his route gets interesting with a possible match up against Nikolay Davydenko in the third, Richard Gasquet in the fourth and Tomas Berdych in the quarters before he most likely meets Federer in the semi-finals, if Federer gets there! Berdych could be the danger man in the section if his shoulder recovers from Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Masters became a very important event before the US Open because a lot of the big names lost early in Montreal and needed to get match play before the Open started.
How would Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray perform? Could Novak Djokovic continue his amazing run of only one match lost all season, having just won Montreal a week earlier?
With Wimbledon starting on Monday, all eyes turned to the event in Eastbourne. It became very interesting because of Serena and Venus Williams participation. Serena has not played since winning Wimbledon last year because of a freak accident in Munich, were she stepped on broken glass while walking to her hotel room after a night out. She was walking bare foot and cut ligaments in her feet as well as cutting her feet up badly. It took her nearly a full year to recover.
On the other hand her sister Venus hasn’t played much due to a hip injury this year. I believe this is only her third event of the year. Serena played really well considering her lay off and beat Pirokova in the first round in 3 sets after starting very poorly. Pirokova was a tough match because she has made the semi-finals at Wimbledon and plays well on grass. Due to the long layoff Serena was not seeded at Eastbourne, because she has lost all her ranking points from last year. The ranking works on a 52 week calendar and if you don’t defend your points, your ranking disappears.