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from Left field:

Spain, Nadal and the Davis Cup

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.

from Left field:

Watch out for Federer in 2012

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.

from Left field:

Federer at his sublime best in Paris

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!

from Left field:

The future of British tennis

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.

from Left field:

“You just can’t speak to umpires like that” – Rusedski on Serena

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.

from Left field:

Rusedski looks to Cincinnati for US Open form

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?

from Left field:

“What a Wimbledon” – Rusedski

This year’s Wimbledon Championships had a lot of interesting stories. On the men's side it was all about the top 4 players in the world. On the ladies it was about Sharapova, the Williams sisters, and whether or not any of the young pretenders could win the Championships.

All of the top 4 cruised into the men’s quarter-finals. Only Rafael Nadal was a bit of a worry hurting his foot against Juan Del Potro in the first set. After the match he said he would have to take painkillers for the rest of the tournament and possibly miss the next 6 weeks after Wimbledon finished. This brought hope that possibly Andy Murray could beat Nadal if they both reached the semi-finals which they both did easily. Expectations were reaching fever pitch now with a real belief Murray could make the finals.

from Left field:

Djokovic and Kvitova lead European charge

Few things in sport can be sweeter than lifting the Wimbledon trophy, as Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova found out on Saturday and Sunday.

Djokovic even took a shining to the hallowed Wimbledon turf, describing his post-win snack as "well kept", but in all seriousness the Serb is winning fans left right and centre and on Monday will be confirmed as world number one for the first time.

from Photographers' Blog:

Wimbledon, William and a Mexican Wave

Rafael Nadal is hurt. A physio and a doctor have arrived on court to inspect his left foot. I scramble to position myself directly across the court from his chair to capture what could be a crucial moment in the match. It is towards the end of a tense first set. Temperatures have only cooled slightly from a sweltering 33 degrees C (91F).

In my haste to capture Nadal's injury I had left my original position with just a 300mm lens and Canon Mark 4 body, knowing I had to be agile as I joined a crush of photographers.

from Left field:

Mercury rises on Wimbledon’s ‘Manic Monday’

A record crowd for a Wimbledon second Monday witnessed some breathtaking tennis while finding the time to take onboard plenty of liquids as temperatures soared in London.

The Williams sisters found the going tough and their so far impressive comebacks hit the buffers, while women's number one Caroline Wozniacki's route to a first grand slam title also came unstuck, but in the men's draw there were no real dramas as the top four all hit their straps and made the quarters.

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