Archive for February, 2011

 

Are Roger and Rafa on their way out?

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

The short answer? No.

But that is just my opinion, and for the sake of reasoned debate I can accept that both sides have their good and bad points.

Novak Djokovic has proved that it’s possible to beat the pair, not only in a final but to knock them out of the tournament even before that. He and Andy Murray both proved that a final needn’t contain either Rafael or Roger at all. And what about Juan Martin del Potro’s victory at Flushing Meadows against Roger Federer in 2009?

Still, it doesn’t take long to count how many finals that haven’t gone to Roger or Rafa in the last few years. You don’t exactly need to utilise your toes to count the number of times they haven’t appeared in a final, either. Even Juan Martin del Potro’s victory was in a final that had Federer in it. And Rafa had a period of absence where he was struggling with injury, which he has bounced back from impeccably.

Federer and Nadal aren’t players that are going to burn out. Neither are they going to fade away. These men, like most players, know their bodies better than anyone. Federer obviously believes he still has some Grand Slams left in him, and I fully believe that Rafa has got so many years in his career left before him that it’s impossible to start talking about his demise.

What about their dominance then? So Ok, they’re not about to retire, but is there a new era being ushered in whereby Rafa and Roger are no longer the men to beat? Maybe in some sense. More and more players are more »

 

French Open Predictions

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

After the Australian Open has finished, what can we learn to carry forward to French Open? Are there any early predictions that can be made?

The biggest shift from the Australian Open to Rolland Garros is, of course, the move from hard court to clay. Playing on clay requires a different kind of player, and few make a smooth transition from one surface to the other  (even Roger and Rafa have found difficulties in moving between the two). Spanish players are particularly good at the clay, with European courts having a high number of courts of this surface for the young players to grow up on.

So, it’s a no-brainer that Rafa will be transferring well to the clay. That is, if he has time to fully recover from his leg injuries. The current estimates for the time it will take is about 10 days, but with Rafa and his propensity for dodgy knees, who knows if this might become a more long-term problem. Nadal is staying tight-lipped about the injury, which hopefully is a good sign that it is just a quick annoyance that he does not want to dwell on.

So, if Nadal is back to fighting form then he will definitely be a contender. What about the winner of the slam Rafa missed out on on Sunday? Novak Djokovic doesn’t typically do well on the clay, although he has been getting better and better year by year. And, after proving that he has on a pretty impressive streak of form, maybe this will be the year that he really threatens on the clay.

Of course, there are the host of other pla more »