Tag: flushing meadows
Rafael Nadal dismissed David Nalbandian on the fourth round of the US Open. The 2002 Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian 7-6 (5), 6-1, 7-5 fell to the defending champion on a muggy afternoon with the temperature in the 80s. But no play in the game would be as shocking as the moments of tension lived by fans and reporters alike during the press conference. With little warning, and not even sure fo what was going on, Rafael Nadal was holding on to his leg and began to slide down his chair. He was leaning awkwardly over the chair and sliding down to the floor. His expression revealed that whatever it was that afflicted him (for at that point, only Nadal knew what was going on) was extremely painful. He called for a trainer just as he slid under the table and out of everyone’s eyesight. Painful cramps th simultaneously hit his right hamstring and thigh two hours after he had ended his game with Nalbandian.
Rafael Nadal had the best season of his career in 2010. He won at the French Open, at Wimbledon and by the time the tour hit the US Open, Nadal was the No. 1 player in the world and the No. 1 seed for the US Open. His way into the final was smooth and easy. He defeated Teymuraz Gabashvili, Denis Istomin, Gilles Simon, number 23 seed Feliciano López, number 8 seed Fernando Verdasco, and number 12 seed Mikhail Youzhny all without dropping a set, to reach his first US Open final. All of a sudden, he was only 1 game away from clinching his first US Open and reaching a career grand slam. Novak Djokovic, was going to make it just a little bit easier as he would play a heart stopping 5-set battle against Roger Federer in the semifinal. A well prepared Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic 6–4, 5–7, 6–4, 6–2 in the final.
Once again, Nadal is back at Flushing Meadows, this time as the defending champion and No. 2 seed of the US Open, but the circumstances have changed a bit since his appearance here last year. This time it is the Serbian Novak Djokovic who is dominating the season, having lost only two of his 61 games played in 2011. After the phenomenal year that Nadal had in 2010 it was expected for the 24-year-old Spaniard to keep his dominance in 2011, but he has been struggling with health issues that have kept him from playing at his best.
But 2011 would be Djokovic’s year. He has won at the Australian Open, he made it the semifinals of the French Open, won at Wimbledon and is now in the right track to win the US Open. If things go as expected, Djokovic should face Roger Federer in the semifinals. This will certainly be his chance to get back at Federer for breaking his winning streak in the French Open semis. If he does make it to the final, chances are that Rafael Nadal will be waiting for him there. And then it is on. Last year, it was Nadal who took the win. This time, it should make up for one epic battle, and should Djokovic win, it will be the perfect ending for the almost perfect season.
All good things must come to an end. But for many, and I among those, this wasn’t the end we were hoping for. Serbian Novak Djokovic had up to this point been the only force capable of menacing the extended dominion of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the ATP Tour. On a sport dominated by two players in what’s now been the better part of a decade, Novak Djokovic was a breath of fresh air. And what the Djoker, as he is known, is nothing short of spectacular. The end, however, was a bit disappointing, unfortunate.
The world’s top-ranked player was forced to retire in the second set Sunday because of a sore right shoulder, giving Andy Murray the championship at the Western & Southern Open. This was truly his first truly bad moment in what had otherwise been a perfect season. Ok, perhaps not perfect, he obviously suffered a hiccup against Roger Federer in the Roland Garros semifinal; but heck, since that sole lost of the season in june 3rd, Novak Djokovic had won 16 games, and before he retired against Murray, he was 57-1 for the season. That’s just an amazing performance, but at the end, the winning streak took a bit too much from Djokovic, both mentally and physically, and the symptoms were showing on Sunday.
Djokovic had mention that he was starting to feel a bit tired. He seemed a bit talked exhausted in Cincinnati. Let’s not forget that he was coming off his record fifth Masters series title in Montreal last week. Before the final match against Murray, Djokovic said his serving shoulder had been bothering him for the last 10 days. Still, with some physical therapy and certainly a good deal of courage he’d been able to manage the pain and keep on winning.
From the very start, we knew that it wasn’t the same Djokovic we had been used to. He was certainly showing signs of fatigue and pain in the title game against the fourth-seeded Murray. It didn’t take too long for Murray to take advantage of the situation and he won the first set 6-4. Murray kept the momentum and took an early 3-0 lead in the second set when Djokovic decided just before the rain came that he couldn’t continue. With his serve registering only in double-digits and his forehand limited by the pain, Djokovic realized he couldn’t compete.
The big question now is what Novak Djokovic’s performance going to be like in a few more days, when he faces the last Grand Slam of the season, the US Open at Flushing Meadows. The good news, if you will, is that one of his strongest contenders, and the defending Champion, Rafael Nadal, Rafael Nadal also has got some physical issues that could keep him from playing at his best. Truth is that Nadal is struggling with burned fingertips on his right hand that bothered him in Cincinnati.
On the press conference after the game Djokovic said: “Dear friends and fans, I want to apologise to all of you who expected a better and longer match today. Shoulder could not take it anymore, and it didn’t make sense to continue. Congratulation to Andy Murray for successful week.”
The Federer Express is back. At least he seems to be really back in his best physical shape. When one follows a complete game by Roger, especially when he plays lower seeded players in the first rounds of the tournaments, one can’t help but to wonder if he ever gets bored. There is something about how he plays, about the way he puts out his offensive arsenal, that one can’t help but to feel some sort of a mix emotion. For one-side, you are just amazed at the talent and how blatantly superior he is in the court. On the other hand (and this might, and probably is just me) I can’t really help but expect the underdog to somehow just come out and defeat him.
I don’t know if I am alone here. I do have a bit of a thing for Cinderella stories. Particularly because given the odds, sometimes I do like to take my extra risks and howler and even put down my bucks for the underdog. Most of the times I lose my bet, but still, at least with Roger Federer on the early rounds, it makes his games far more interesting when I cheer for the guy who is on the other side of the court, struggling to complete the returns, and deal with the physiological and mental dimension of a player who can pull stunts like he did on the first round game of this year’s US Open.
Just throw out a search for Roger Federer’s tweener against Dabul in the first round over at Youtube. Oh men that was beautiful. You have to see the face on Argentinean Brian Dabul. Ok, under any other circumstances and perhaps except for one other player in the professional circuit, Dabul’s long volley would have been a winner. But Federer was able to run back, not only pull-off such a difficult stun as a tweener, but yet, turn it into a winning point. There was a face of hopelessness and perhaps awe in Dabul’s face when the camera makes its close-up. One can’t help but to feel sympathetic for the guy.
On his second round match, Federer Breezed by Andreas Beck with a 6-3,6-4,6-3. He was playing in the Arthur Ashe Stadium at the very warm and somewhat humid day. Sure, he has struggled since the Australian Open. Sure, there have been to early 4th round losses in both Wimbledon and Roland Garros. And yeah, we know what it meant for him to loose at England.
Sure, at Roland Garros he had to play in clay (which is by no means his forte) but also three of his four games were played under the rain. But then came a couple of injuries, and quite frankly a lot of inconsistency. He has had some success after his experience with new personal coach Paul Annacone. Yes, 16 came easy. He played some of his bets tennis over at Australia to win his 16th Grand Slam title. He has the focus and the motivation, and we know, he sure is got the talent to win this tournament. 17 is a lucky number. Nadal is out there too. But let’s face it, at Flushing Meadows Nadal has not been a solid contender.
One last detail before we go. The Argentinean who defeated him last year in the final is not. The road is not wide open for Federer. But he sure knows were it leads to, and how to get there. He’s been at that final 6 years in a row.