Monday, August 17, 2009

COMEDY SPOTS: Djokovic rapping for the Bryan Bros

Or more like attempting to rap for the Bryan Bros Band's new song, Autograph. Players Lounge, Cincinnati, Ohio, 8-17-09.

via @BryanBros

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cincinnati Masters Draw Breakdown

I tried to divert my attention from Montreal just long enough to check out the Cincinnati draw and here’s what I found out:

The Federer quarter

* Roger Federer and Andy Roddick could meet in the quarters.
* We could have another all Swiss third round (just like Montreal) if Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka get past their second round opponents.
* Hot first round match alert: David Ferrer vs Stanislas Wawrinka

The Murray quarter

* Defending champion, Andy Murray, and Federer could meet in the semis.
* Marat Safin has a rematch of the Indianapolis first round against Robby Ginepri, which the Russian had won.
* If Safin makes it to the third round, he could face Murray.
* Murray’s potential quarterfinal opponent is none other than his Montreal final opponent, Juan Martin Del Potro.
* Del Potro has a looming Fernando Verdasco encounter in the third round.

The Djokovic quarter

* Last year's Cincy finalist, Novak Djokovic, is drawn to face Nikolay Davydenko in the quarters and Rafael Nadal in the semis.
* This quarter also includes Tommy Haas, Gilles Simon, James Blake and IgorAndreev.
* Djokovic has a possible third round matchup against Haas, who has beaten the Serb the last 2 times (Halle and Wimbledon).

The Nadal quarter

* Nadal is drawn to face Montreal semifinalist, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters.
* Last year's semifinalist, Nadal, could face Ivo Karlovic in the third round.
* Other tough opponents in that quarter include Tomas Berdych, Gael Monfils and Fernando Gonzalez.
* Hot first round match alert: Tomas Berdych vs Fernando Gonzalez.

UPDATE: Juan Martin Del Potro has withdrawn from the event after picking up an injury during his final last Sunday against Andy Murray, and has been replaced in the draw by Julien Benneteau.

Quote of the Day - Murray relishing in #2 spot glory

"For five years it's been Rafa and Roger one and two."

"So it's such a tough thing to do because Roger and Rafa are I think are the two best maybe of all time."

"So it's pretty special to get in between them."

"Obviously in terms of rankings that's the biggest step that I've made so far."

And then the justification begins...

"I played consistently well this year and obviously Rafa had an injury but it was just really Wimbledon that he missed."

"I also took quite a big break after Wimbledon, so bar winning a slam, I've done enough to justify being two and getting closer to hopefully one day becoming number one."

-- Andy Murray reacts to becoming the new world number 2, after beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Montreal semifinals.

Am sure talks of Murray not winning a Slam yet, are just around the corner. I hope he's ready for all the drama. He worked hard to reach that spot but he can't act like Rafa missing Wimbledon has nothing to do with it... am I right?

Congratz to the Scot on reaching a new high. This will definitely spice up the action on tour the coming few weeks.

Murray faces Juan Martin Del Potro in the Montreal final today.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Murray one match away from becoming the world number 2

Andy Murray, who beat Nikolay Davydenko in the Montreal quarters Friday night, is now one match away from leapfrogging Rafael Nadal in the rankings and reaching the number 2 spot for the first time in his career.

The Scottish phenomenon who previously said that:

"If you get caught up in the rankings, you start to lose matches and start hoping that other guys lose."

"If I win my own matches, the rankings will take care of themselves."

will face Roger Federer's conqueror, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semis on Saturday.

Well it looks like Murray has done nothing but focus on his own matches, because the Scot has put himself in the right position and he certainly deserves it, but the coming few weeks will be nothing if not a bloodbath between the top 4 players.

Murray might rise to the number 2 spot come Monday, but am sure he knows he will have a hell of a fighter behind him, who will stop at nothing to regain what he's lost.

The US Open series could prove to be the most intriguing part of the season afterall. Montreal has done nothing but deliver some epic battles, and with the impending possible change in the rankings, we should definitely all stay glued to our TV sets.

Montreal Masters: Tsonga shocks Federer, Del Potro crushes Rafa

The top eight seeds faced off in the Montreal Masters quarterfinals last night, and the only top 4 survivor was third-seeded, Andy Murray. Meanwhile, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were all upset by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Roddick respectively.

It was a weird night for me especially when I got up during the Federer-Tsonga match when the Swiss was up 6-7, 6-1, 5-1, only to return and find the Frenchman delivering a major shocker by turning around the deciding set against the ultimate match closer, Federer, and winning the match 7-6, 1-6, 7-6. I know what you're thinking, why get up when there's supposedly only one more game to go, but I was at a dinner party and food simply beckoned!!!

"It happens in tennis, it's never over until it's over and it showed today."

"I think I should have won the first and he completely lost his game for an hour there."

'That's what Jo does. He doesn't make a return for three hours, then he puts in a few and then all of a sudden he's back in the match."

"I never should have allowed it but it did happen." --Federer after losing to Tsonga in the Montreal quarters

When asked what he is looking to improve for in Cincinnati, Federer said:

Closing out a match like that.

So compared to the rest of the matches, Federer's loss was definitely what shocked me the most, since I never really expected Nadal to beat an in-form Del Potro. The no-longer defending champion, who has been sidelined with an injury since last May, lost to Del Potro for the second time this year in straight sets, but assured his fans he was feeling well and happy with his performance after testing his knees. The Spaniard squandered a 5-2 lead in the first set tie-breaker, something I'm sure will be avoided in the future with more matchplay.

"I am back.. lost... but happy. Maybe the first time really happy after a loss. Today I travel to Cincinnati." --Rafael Nadal through his Facebook fan page, after losing to Juan Martin Del Potro in the Montreal quarterfinals.

"I have a good sensation. I know since many years, Rafa. I’m happy to beat one more time, but I’m happy to see him in the court fighting until the final. You know, is very good for me and for everyone to see his comeback." --A classy JMDP speaks after beating Rafa.

World number 5, Andy Roddick, displayed yet another solid performance, as he dispatched Djokovic in straights, however the match wasn't as straight forward as one might assume. Djokovic showed lapses of concentration (and some terrible serving) in between a stray of some ruthlessly placed forehands, while Roddick showed his best when it mattered the most, to seal a 6-4, 7-6 win over the world number 4.

Q. Would you like to proclaim yourself the real No. 4?

No. Rankings don’t lie.

Q. Did you know what to expect of yourself coming off of Wimbledon? How has it been compared to what you expected?

You know, I’ve certainly been nothing if not resilient in my career, and you know, I don’t think there’s a day where I, even after Wimbledon, where I resent playing tennis. I really enjoy what I do. So getting back out on court is never really an issue with me.

Q. If you’re playing Rafa, are you curious what his form will be? And a few words on Rafa.

If he beats Del Potro tonight I’m not worried about what his form is. (laughter.)

--Snippets from Roddick's post-match presser.

The semifinals on Saturday will be Murray against Tsonga (1-1 H2H), followed by a rematch of last week's Washington final between Roddick and Del Potro (Del Potro leads 2-0).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hopeless Safin admits hopelessness, Ferrero enjoying his time on court

Former world number 1, Marat Safin, suffered - yet again - a first round loss and this time it was in Montreal at the hands of Gael Monfils, who had been sidelined with an injury for the past 2 months.

The 29-year-old, who has repeatedly voiced his lack of motivation and his eagerness to quit the tour at the end of this year, admitted he has no hopes whatsoever in winning another title before his pending retirement.

"I'm realistic. I know I am not going to win (another title). There is no way."

"It's getting tougher and tougher with each tournament. It really gets into you and it's not easy to play."

"Every match is a battle. It's tough not to choke in the important moments. But I want to finish up in a right note. I should enjoy it more. I just want to finish up nice."

Safin had managed to level the match after winning the second set, however ended up losing 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to the Frenchman.

"It slipped away in the third set. I was just a little too nervous... It slipped away. I don't have a grip on the important moments. I wanted it too much."

"I know what I have to do but it's difficult. You know you don't have it -- it slips away and I feel it."

Safin's comments lately are just too contradicting for my liking. He says he just wants to enjoy his last few months on tour, yet he clearly sounds like a sad loser in most of his press conferences, saying he doesn't like the tennis life anymore, and how he can't wait to move on to something new. Then he goes on and says he wanted to win so much, thereby giving us fans a hint that he has enough motivation to actually WANT to win. Wait a minute, didn't he mention before that the motivation is gone?!?!

That man is sure tough to decipher despite being known for his blatant honesty in his pressers. I hope he manages to end his career on the "right note" because we all deserve to see some of that Russian magic before he calls it quits; something to make us disregard all the negativity he has exuded over the past few months.

Meanwhile, Monfils' next opponent is another former world number 1, Juan Carlos Ferrero, who unlike Safin, has managed to revive his tennis and is having an excellent season.

The 29-year-old Spaniard had to go through qualies to be able to play in Montreal, before he went on to dispatch Lleyton Hewitt, 6-1, 6-4 in the first round of the main draw.

"With the ranking I had with this tournament, it wasn't as good as I need, so I knew that I had to play qualies here. I realize, and I understand. But of course it's very tough to play qualies when you've been blah, blah, blah. So it is what it is."

"I'm feeling very good in the court with a lot of motivation right now, so much than at the beginning of the season, so I'm feeling good."

"I think after I win Casablanca, I give up my stress that I had. I wanted to win a tournament again, and after all this stuff, I start to enjoy more and playing a little bit better and playing very well in the court."

Besides winning Casablanca, 29th-ranked Ferrero has reached the semis in Queen's, the quarters at Wimbledon (lost to Murray), and the final in Umag.

I am just loving the Ferrero/Tommy Haas rejuvenation this season. Can't they just rub some of that form on Safin or something?!?!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Video: Federer and Nadal Montreal Interviews

World number 2 and Rogers Cup defending champion, Rafael Nadal, discusses the frustration that comes with being sidelined with an injury for 2 months, and whether he is 100% ready for Montreal:

World number 1 and possibly one of the happiest men in the world right now, Roger Federer, discusses all the craziness that has come his way over the past few months, from winning his first French Open, to the arrival of his twin baby girls:

All I can say is that lately it seems like when life looks up for one of those two, it almost instantly crumbles down for the other... and the beauty of it all is how they manage to pick themselves up so gracefully right after. I can't wait to see Rafa turn things around. And of course the best case scenario is when the two of them are at their best, sharing the titles and the success.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Quote of the Day - Toni Nadal on Rafa's goals in Montreal

It's finally been confirmed! World number 2, Rafael Nadal, announced through his website that he will be playing at the Rogers Cup in Montreal next week, as he returns to the ATP Tour for the first time since his fourth round exit at the French Open.

The Spaniard, whose knee injury prevented him from attempting to defend his Wimbledon title last month, will have a crack at retaining the Rogers Cup title, which he won in Toronto last year.

Nadal's Uncle and Coach, Toni Nadal, however stated that the title defense is far from the first thing on their minds right now:

"There is no particular objective at present. The challenge is to get back into form and to be in good shape for the US Open.”

Nadal has a tough few weeks ahead of him where he will try to avoid further slips in the rankings, by defending his title in Montreal, as well as his semifinal showings in Cincinnati and the US Open (not that the ranking is much of a priority on Rafa's list).

The 6-time Grand Slam champion could possibly complete a career Grand Slam if he manages to win the upcoming US Open; the only Slam which has eluded the Spaniard so far.