Tag Archives: soderling

Roland Garros 2011: A Review Of The Remaining Matches In The Men’s Draw

1 Jun

Roger Federer. Often argued to be the greatest tennis player of all time. 16-time grand slam winner. Former world number one. Former winner at Roland Garros. Only man yet to drop a set at the French Open 2011. And yet he is still only the third favourite to win according to the bookies. In contrast to basically the entire rest of his career, Federer is not really under pressure to achieve great things here at the French in 2011, it is rather the two 24-year olds, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who have to play with the weight of big expectations.

Rematch

Nadal, being defending champion and the clay court player that he is, was the favourite prior to the tournament despite losing to Djokovic on clay twice this year already. Since the tournament started he has dropped down from that position in the estimation or rather guestimation of most tennis fans and bookies, largely due to his lack of form, or even the motivation for which he is normally continuously lauded. In addition Nadal has to face the man who ousted him from Roland Garros in 2009 in their quarter-final on Wednesday, while Federer, by virtue of an up-and-down win over Gael Monfils, and Djokovic, courtesy of a walkover, are already preparing for their much-anticipated semi-final clash. Nadal has admitted that he cannot win the tournament playing at the level he has thus far. Suddenly there is chatter that he might not even progress past the encounter against the Swede, Robin Soderling. Soderling managed to beat Nadal in 4-sets in 2009, but suffered a straights sets rout at the hands of the Spaniard in last year’s final. The result of tomorrow’s match will depend largely on which Nadal comes to play; if it is the somewhat despondent man we have seen thus far at the French, reminiscent of him during his failed 2009 campaign, it is likely that Soderling will have an excellent opportunity to achieve a newsworthy scalp at Roland Garros. With his immense power, and clear motivation to win attitude illustrated by his prolonged fist pumping celebration upon winning his 4th round match yesterday, it seems the big, tall man has a chance and could perhaps oust the defending champion for the 3rd straight year. For Nadal to win, he will have to hit some form during this quarter-final match. Should that happen, the top seed will in all likelihood retain that form, and go on to retain the title. Nadal in form, is truly unbeatable over 5 sets on the clay of Roland Garros.

The Hard Court Aficionado

Of course Andy Murray and Juan Ignacio Chela are still alive in this half of the draw. Murray, being the far superior tennis player, ought to win this match with some ease over the man still most well-known for his bouts of bad sportsmanship. Murray’s ankle injury however could prevent this result from being a given. Either way, it is unlikely that this match will affect who is the eventual champion at Roland Garros. Both Soderling and Nadal, the two possible semi-final opponents for Murray – should he win – ought to be the victor over the not-so-happy-on-clay Scot, who has a definite – not just according to the British press – chance to win one of the other two remaining grand slams of the year.

The Aging King and The Young Prince or at this point… David and Goliath

On the other side of the draw, we only have 2 men left standing; if Soderling is the winner over Nadal tomorrow as many expect him to be, the stakes surrounding the Federer-Djokovic semi-final will drastically increase. The odds appear to be stacked as follows at this point: If Nadal wins tomorrow, he will almost certainly go on to win the tournament. If he loses, the winner of this semi between the legend and pretender to the throne, will very likely determine who wins the Coupe de Mousquetaire come Sunday.

Federer might be playing fairly well here, but Djokovic is like I’ve said before, in the form of his life. His confidence is through the roof – almost everything he tries, he manages to pull off. Despite being past his prime, Federer is still the most technically gifted player to ever hold a tennis racquet. He is probably better suited to the playing conditions and the clay courts of Roland Garros too. All-in-all this match ought to still be won by the form man, Djokovic. It can be taken for granted that he will be playing at an incredibly high level throughout. The outcome of this match rests on Federer’s somewhat rusty racquet. It’ll be great to see what he brings to the court, and how much he troubles the currently staggeringly beautiful play of the Australian Open Champion.

The Odds

According to the bookies a Djokovic vs Nadal final is most likely. A match between these two players at this stage of their careers is likely to be epic, and an incredibly tightly contested affair. Like previously mentioned the Spaniard will be in form if he makes it this far in the tournament. This would be a great match which ought to bring to an end Djokovic’s unbeaten run. There’s no beating an in form Nadal on clay over 5 sets.

The Dream

 Having been a fan of the Nadal-Federer rivalry for all of it’s existence, I would love to see these two men in the final again. Just imagine the quality of the semi-final match between Djokovic and Federer, if the Swiss player played at a level able to end the incredible run of the younger man. Imagine if her were to bring that level of play into a final against Nadal, how amazing that match would be… This is very likely wishful thinking, but there are a lot of winners in this dream. Not least of all the viewers.

Who Do You Think Will Win?

 

(Then it would be great if you could share this entry via Facebook, StumbleUpon or Twitter. The buttons are available at the bottom of this specific entry’s page. Comments would be appreciated. Would love to hear how everyone else thinks the draw will pan out… And then finally, I am writing blog entries for www.tennisgrandstand.com. New entry The Top 5 Of The Last 5 Days Of Tennis At Roland Garros, would love it if you could check it out. S)

The French Open Draw: Men

20 May

The French Open men’s draw is somewhat easier to analyze than the women’s. For starters – not everyone can win. It’ll almost certainly be one of the top 4, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Andy Murray. They’re almost like the English Premier League Big 4 at the moment. Nadal and Djokovic consistently on top form, not unlike Chelsea and Man U, Federer would be Liverpool, older, wiser, solid, but lacking in spark and motivation. Murray is Arsenal. Highly inconsistent, can beat any one on a good day, and fun to watch. Enough of my abstract analogy – the point is, one of the four will win. All there really is to consider, is who in each quarter of the draw might prevent each of them from reaching the semi’s and how will the semi’s and final pan out…

Nadal’s Quarter:

Nadal has quite an interesting section of the draw. In the 3rd he could face Nikolay Davydenko, which on paper should be a good match up, but when you consider the Russian’s recent form, it’s unlikely that he will truly bother Nadal. In the 4th he could face fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco. Their friendship is likely to be mentioned as a factor making it an interesting match up, most likely this will not affect the outcome, Nadal has never really struggled with closing out matches, as other players might against a friend. On the other hand, (quite literally) the fact that Verdasco is a lefty might make the match interesting, probably not in terms of who wins, but at least will serve as an indicator of the kind of form Nadal is in. If his form isn’t at a desirable level it will often show in that he struggles a little bit in matches against left-handed, lower quality players. In the quarter’s, he could come up against the man who halted him two years ago, Robin Soderling. While this is likely to be a good match, I think the odds are highly in favour of Nadal winning. He is the superior clay courter, the French is his home court to a large extent. This match is more likely to resemble last year’s rout in the final, than the surprise Soderling win of 2009.

Murray’s Quarter:

Murray is not a brilliant clay court player. Despite this, the fact that he has a fairly easy part of the draw means that he is likely to still reach the semi finals relatively unscathed. A match against young up-and-comer Milos Raonic in the 3rd round ought to be interesting. It is unlikely that the young Canadian will have much effect on the clay with his hard-hitting game though. Murray will progress to face 8th seed, Jurgen Melzer, in the quarter finals. While Murray is the inferior clay court player, he should be able to take advantage of the Austrian player’s inconsistent game, and reach the semi finals.

Federer’s Quarter:

His first round match will be a telling encounter against another Spanish lefty. While it should serve as in interesting measure of Federer’s form, it is unlikely that Feliciano Lopez will challenge him for a win. While many will feel that the likely 3rd round encounter between Federer and Janko Tipsarevic will be a test for Federer, I think that Federer will continue on to the 4th round with relative ease. A fourth round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Stanislas Wawrinka will make for good viewing, but is still a match Federer should by all accounts win. As is the quarter final, which according to seedings, should be against David Ferrer.

Djokovic’s Quarter:

With the unbeaten run Djokovic is on, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to mount a challenge of note against him at least until the semi’s. Matchups he is likely to face include the always dangerous Juan Martin Del Potro, hometown favourite, Richard Gasquet and Tomas Berdych, who is capable of beating anyone on a good day. Of these, only Del Potro ought to be able to get more than a set off him, and will be an intriguing encounter that I for one won’t miss.

Semi Final 1: Nadal vs Murray

Despite Nadal having a few tough matches, he ought to get through, as should Murray, largely by virtue of his significantly easy draw.

Semi Final 2: Federer vs Djokovic

Federer is still the 3rd ranked player in the world, and hellishly dangerous. As such, he ought to  make it thru his quarter home safe. While Djokovic is likely to have a particularly tough match in the 3rd round against Del Potro, he is currently the best player in the world, and other than that match should make the semi’s relatively unhindered.

Final: Nadal vs Djokovic

Don’t bet against Nadal on clay. Murray is not as capable on clay as he would like. So I have to pick Nadal for that half of the draw. On the other side, I would love to see yet another, maybe final Federer vs Nadal classic, but I honestly don’t think the king has what it takes at the moment to challenge Djokovic on current form. It’s my opinion that Djokovic will struggle more against Del Potro in the 3rd, than against Federer in the semi’s.

Winner: Nadal

Don’t bet against Nadal on clay.

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