June 30, 2010
This year’s Wimbledon semifinal bracket will be without a familiar face for the first time since 2003. Roger Federer’s stunning loss to Tomas Berdych was without question a landmine that left the remaining men in the field with an equal opportunity of taking home the title.
Who would have thought that of the top four seeds, Federer’s name would be inconspicuously absent come Friday? Dropping down to No. 3 in the world when Monday’s new rankings are released, Federer will have an unfamiliar armchair view of this year’s final four.
What are the chances that he’ll even watch?
Berdych’s first Wimbledon semifinal will be followed through a microscope when he faces Novak Djokovic, while 2008 champion Rafael Nadal will go toe-to-toe against top British hopeful Andy Murray.
All credit must be given to the fighting foursome who remain alive in the hunt for the most elusive title the sport has to offer.
Will we see a British male in the finals for the first time since 1936, or will Nadal place himself in prime position for his eighth Slam title?
Will Djokovic salvage his unsatisfactory year, or will Berdych finally dismiss his underachieving label?
The pairings have been made, and now all that remains is a few thoughts on how it may all go down.
Novak Djokovic vs. Tomas Berdych
Djokovic leads the pair’s head-to-head series, 2-0.
What we have here is two men that weren’t supposed to make it this far. For Djokovic, his form entering Wimbledon provided little in the way of a resounding result. Dusted early and often throughout the season, Djokovic had battled his technique, coaching changes, and of course mother nature. Suffering nine losses before entering the tournament, Djokovic’s progress to the semifinals is by far his best result of 2010.
Will the new world No. 2 have a enough to blindside the potent arsenal of the new Czech bomber?
The Bird man could be deemed the new Robin Soderling of this season. Reaching the Miami final in March, Berdych advanced to the final four at the French Open, before plowing through the field in London.
Defeating Federer for a second straight time on Wednesday, Berdych solidified himself as a big match player. But will the daunting Czech have enough mental fortitude to advance to his first career Grand Slam final?
Djokovic will undoubtedly hold the experience card between the two. Capturing the 2008 Australian Open, Djokovic has also reached seven other Grand Slam semifinals. Taking out the competent challenge of Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth-round, Djokovic benefited from not facing Andy Roddick, thanks in large part to Yen-Hsun Lu.
We are all well aware of Djokovic’s ability to go AWOL during close matches, but those loses have usually consisted of him being the underdog—excluding his Aussie Open meltdown this year against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
With that being said, one would have to favor Djokovic because of his wherewithal to grind it out. Berdych may have his machine gun groundstrokes ready to paint the lines, but Djokovic’s defensive ability will pay dividends when it gets close.
I’m not totally ruling out Berdych in this contest, for the primary reason that he seems to be finally enjoying himself on Tour. He’s under a calm aura of confidence at the moment, and his game has reaped the rewards.
Once bound to a cold robotic stare, Berdych now embodies the persona and execution of a formidable Grand Slam contender.
All in all, this match will come down to Djokovic’s experience and defense versus Berdych’s power and eagerness.
If recent results have taught us anything, experience—moreso at Wimbledon—usually wins out.
Pick: Djokovic in five sets
Rafael Nadal vs. Andy Murray
Nadal leads the pair’s head to head series, 7-3.
The bottom half of the draw was filled to the brim when this contest was confirmed. Pitting two of the fan favorites against one other in the marquee match up of the tournament, Nadal and Murray will be the talk of London come Friday.
For Murray, he’s tied his best ever showing at Wimbledon. Losing a close five setter to Roddick last year, Murray has lost only one set en route to the semifinals. The Brit continues to have the weight of Nation’s expectations on his shoulders, but for one reason or another (insert World Cup frenzy here) the pressure has been less this year than before.
We know how much this match means to Murray, and with Federer out of the way, the time couldn’t be better for a title march.
However, Murray does have a determined chap in his way, one who was never taught the meaning of giving anyone an opportunity that they haven’t earned.
Bidding for his second career Euro Slam, Nadal continues to prove that his trials and tribulations of last year are behind him. Dispatching of Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals, Nadal’s knees and focus were spot on against the Swede.
Using his crosscourt forehand and slice serve to great affect, Nadal’s crosscourt backhand will have to improve when he faces Murray.
Again, history and experience will play a big part in this one. Murray has proven that he can defeat Nadal at the hard-court Majors, but he’s come up short on the slower surfaces. Nadal did defeat Murray during their lone Wimbledon match, but Nadal was in untouchable form during his 2008 campaign.
The Spaniard still remains close to his best, and his variety driven game is better suited to grass. Although Murray’s game consists of a great deal of craft and artistry, Nadal’s arsenal holds a better slice and far more topspin.
Nadal will also hold the advantage in the forehand and power department, while Murray’s serve produces slightly more pop.
There’s no doubt that this is a tough one to call, but considering that Nadal has had to battle more than Murray during the event—that’s never a negative for Nadal—the Spaniard will have the confidence in his shots to fall back on.
John Isner and Nicolas Mahut gave us the longest match of the event, but Nadal and Murray could very well partake in the best match of the year.
Settle in, turn off all mobile devices, and get the popcorn ready bright and early.
I’ve gone against Murray in his previous two matches—Murray fans can thank me later—and if that’s an indicator as to what the result of this match is going to be, then I’ll stay with my initial pick before the fortnight began and choose the current world No. 1 and tournament second seed.
Pick: Nadal in five sets
June 30, 2010
Thursday’s order of play at Wimbledon will feature ladies’ semifinal action. Serena Williams will highlight proceedings.
For Thursday’s complete order of play, click the link below.
June 30, 2010
After his shocking four set defeat to Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon on Thursday, top seed Roger Federer will find himself in unfamiliar territory when Monday’s rankings are released.
Losing his championship points from last year, Federer will drop to No. 3 on the computer for the first time since November 10, 2003.
Failing to win a tournament since capturing his 16th Grand Slam event in Australian to begin the season, Federer said that he will “take the next two week’s off,” before resuming his training.
The Swiss star is next slated to see action at the Toronto Masters 1000 event in Canada.
June 30, 2010
Q. Difficult moment, but what couldn’t you do that you wanted to do? What let you down?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, well, I mean, I don’t think I played poorly. But, uhm, I think he went after it. I mean, I know Berdych. I think I’ve played him 10 times already before. That’s the way he plays, you know.
I think he’s been able to play more consistent last year or so, and I was just not able to defend well enough and I didn’t come up with the good stuff when I had to. So it was disappointing, you know. Yeah.
Q. You beat him almost every time you played him. Was he any different?
ROGER FEDERER: Like I said, I think he was a bit more consistent than in the past. I lost to him in Miami this year, where it was a really tight match as well.
But from my end, obviously, you know, I’m unhappy with the way I’m playing. I couldn’t play the way I wanted to play. You know, I am struggling with a little bit of a back and a leg issue. That just doesn’t quite allow me to play the way I would like to play.
So it’s frustrating, to say the least. Looking forward to some rest anyway.
Q. How do those physical things affect you the most?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, when you’re hurting, it’s just a combination of many things. You know, you just don’t feel as comfortable. You can’t concentrate on each and every point because you do feel the pain sometimes. And, uhm, yeah, then you tend to play differently than the way you want to play.
Under the circumstances I think I played a decent match, you know. But I’ve been feeling bad for the last two, three matches now. It’s just not good and healthy to play under these kind of conditions, you know.
So if there’s anything good about this it’s I’m gonna get some rest, that’s for sure.
Q. Some of these big, flat hitters seem to be having an effect on you. Do you need to alter your game to adjust to that?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, if I’m healthy I can handle those guys, you know. Obviously it’s a pity that Del Potro is not around, because I think he would have a run at world No. 1 or a run at another Grand Slam. It’s unfortunate for him.
But, you know, he’s been playing well, and these guys do play very well. I played these guys 10 times. They’re not going to reinvent themselves in a year, you know.
But I’m definitely struggling at the moment. That’s a bit disappointing.
Q. When did you first start feeling the problems?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the leg came in the finals of Halle. That kind of never really quite got away from me. Came back a little bit after the first?round match, and then went away again and just kept creeping back sometimes during the matches.
The back’s been feeling stiff the last five days, six days really badly. Also in the finals of Halle. It’s just something that’s been lingering on the grass. It’s normal that the back tends to get stiff, you know, in the grass court season because you have to, uhm, go for many more lower shots.
I’ve had that for many years. I think many players have it. But it’s not just not nice when it doesn’t go away and you can’t play freely. That’s what I was missing today.
Q. Did it affect your level of motivation or anxiety about the match before the match or in the early stages of the match?
ROGER FEDERER: No, it wasn’t that bad, like that I was just hoping to get to the finish line. I mean, once I enter the court, I am there to battle and to try to win with what I got. You know, otherwise I’m not going to walk on the court like I did once in my life prior in Bercy against Blake.
But it’s nowhere close to being that bad. It’s just uncomfortable. Yeah, like I said, you can’t play freely. When you can’t play freely, that’s the kind of performance you get.
Q. Obviously he’s going to come at you. Did you feel like you were as aggressive as you wanted to be in the match? You had some chances in the fourth set, Love?40 on his serve.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, his mistakes and my mistakes. You know, he played well when he had to. It was brutal for me. Every time he had a chance, he took it. On the breakpoints, he played great on those.
Then when I had chances early on, I was actually not too bad. I just felt like I got the unlucky bounce once in a while, you know. 30?All he got it on the line over and over again. I just felt like I couldn’t create enough chances to really get the breakthrough.
When I did have chances, I played poorly. It was just a frustrating match the way it all went.
Q. Timing issues for you out there on the ball?
ROGER FEDERER: No.
Q. A number of shots were sailing out and the crowd would groan and then they would suddenly curl in. What role do you think technology had on today’s result, strings in particular?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know what you mean. What do you mean, balls were flying out and they came back in?
Q. No. It looked like he was hitting balls that were going to land 10 feet behind the baseline and then they would curl in.
ROGER FEDERER: No, no, he didn’t play like that. You saw a different match.
Q. Will this make you hungrier to make you come back and show you can lift this title again?
ROGER FEDERER: Sure. God, I can’t wait for Paris and Wimbledon to come around next year again, that’s for sure. So, uhm, because they’ve been frustrating tournaments for me, even though it wasn’t too bad.
Quarters is a decent result. Obviously people think quarters is shocking, but people would die to play in quarterfinal stages of Grand Slam play. It’s not something I’m used to doing, losing in quarterfinals, because it’s not something I’ve done in the last six years.
So I am winning my matches. Today was a different story than Paris. I mean, I think in Paris conditions were tough. Robin played fantastic. Today was different. You know, I was struggling with my own game and with my physique.
Yeah, I’m looking forward to a rest, and then attack again in North America.
Q. What concern do you have that the injuries will linger?
ROGER FEDERER: Not much of a concern.
Q. Do you feel you can get back to a position of domination in tennis?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I do think that. That’s why I’m here.
Q. Obviously a very disappointing day for you personally. Who, in your opinion, do you think will go on to win this competition now?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, let’s wait and see who gets through today. But as we don’t know, I can’t answer. What a pity (smiling.)
Q. Which leg is the one bothering you?
ROGER FEDERER: The right one.
Q. Do you think the return was the most difficult part of your game today? Because sometimes you were returning a little slower and he was hitting a lot of winners.
ROGER FEDERER: That’s his game. He took a lot of chances, you know. I tried to slice it; I tried to play aggressive. You know, first you just want to try to make the returns.
But, you know, I mean, I had my chances. I don’t think I needed to change much. The way I returned, this match I could have won as well, you know.
But, uhm, I was just not playing well enough. And when he had to, he was able to come up with some good stuff, you know. But I definitely gave away this match, I feel.
Q. Will you shut yourself off from tennis totally now?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes. Two weeks’ vacation.
Q. The prospect of a men’s final without Roger Federer seems a strange one. Will you tune in on Sunday to see how it goes on?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t think so, no. I’ll be on vacation, like I said (smiling.)
Q. Andy Murray is playing a critical match at the moment. Nadal has been having some trouble. What do you think of Andy Murray as a player and do you think this might be his year, given some of the great players are not doing so well?
ROGER FEDERER: The end was what?
Q. I wonder if you think this might be his year, given some of the really threatening players haven’t been doing so well this year.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, true, Rafa played terribly lately; Soderling is not a threat either. He’s got an easy ride to this victory, that’s for sure. Djokovic can’t play tennis anymore it seems like.
Got to make your own work, please. Respect the players. Obviously Andy is a fantastic player and he’s got all the chances to win here. We all know that.
June 30, 2010
Q. That was some kind of slow start. How do you explain the slow start and the sudden turnaround?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I think in the beginning he start playing great, I think. I had 40?15 in the first game with my serve. I lost that serve. Was a hard start for me, because playing against a big server like Robin is very difficult to come back in the set.
And I think he started playing very well, very long, with no mistakes, lot of winners, serving great. I didn’t have a lot of chances in the beginning.
But after the first game of the second set, everything change.
Q. You were upset about the overrule call there. What did the chair umpire say to you? How did he explain that? You seemed to start playing very well after that. You had a run of points. What happened there?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, you know, for the umpire sometimes is not easy to make the right decision. For me today was too important point, because was 30?All to make this drastic decision. For sure if you asking me if that ball affect me, I said yes. When the line say ‘out,’ I play the shot like this without.
I mean, was a mistake, but everybody can have a mistake. Yes, after that I played very good point on the breakpoint against. I was little bit lucky to do the break in the first game on his serve in the second set. After, I think I played a great match.
Q. You seemed very fired up or angry immediately after that point. Do you think it helped you, the call?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, no. Was an important moment for me, because if he did the break in the first game of the second, gonna be hard to accept for me.
But anyway, I gonna fight all the match. But I saved that point, and after that change everything. I think I started to play much better. He started to do a few mistakes, because in the beginning he didn’t have no one.
I’m very happy. Very difficult and very important win for me.
Q. Serving for the set, he took a medical timeout. Were you surprised by his decision to do that at that moment? What’s your feelings?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, the rule says you can do it, so…
Q. Would you say it’s appropriate to do it at that time?
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s proper? What is this? Is in his hands; he can do it. The rules are the rules. And if he can do it and he didn’t have nothing wrong…
For me, the wrong thing is we wait for the physio five minutes. So that’s the bad thing. Because in the end, if you stop three minutes, it’s okay. But if you stop 10 minutes, it’s not okay. That’s was the problem for me.
You know, that’s all.
Q. How excited are you to be in the semifinals here again and the prospect of playing Andy Murray?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is a dream another time be in the semifinals here. Today was a very important victory for me, I think. Very difficult and very important. I’m very happy how I’m playing, how I arrive to the semifinals.
So I know I gonna have difficult match against Andy in semifinals, but I am ready to try my best and for try for sure to be in this final. Is gonna be difficult, but I am playing well.
Q. When did you find out that Berdych had beaten Roger and what was your reaction?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, for sure was a difficult match before, before the match start. You know when you play against these kind of players, like Soderling, like Berdych, they have a very good serve and very powerful shots from the baseline. It’s very difficult sometimes to stop these player, no?
Roger did amazing the last seven years here, so someday must happen this. Happen today. Well, sorry for him, and wish him the best of luck for the rest of the season.
Q. Most top players say, I’m just going to play my game. I have my game, and that’s what I worry about. But there’s a big difference between Soderling and Murray in styles. When you go to play the semifinals, do you have to change a few things in your game?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am happy how I’m playing, so I gonna try to do my game. My game is try to play aggressive. I gonna try to do little bit. Important thing is serve well. So, like every day, every day is the same.
No, I’m sure that this style of Murray and Soderling is completely different. But at the same time, I have to still playing at my best level if I want to have chances to win.
So we will see what’s happen. I don’t want to change a lot of things. I happy how I’m doing.
Q. I saw your mother and the ladies of your family here today. Have you more family coming now for Friday?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I don’t have the chance. I didn’t have the chance to speak with my family yet, no? Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe my father, but I don’t know yet.
Q. How are the courts playing? There’s been no rain at all. How are the courts playing?
RAFAEL NADAL: Perfect.
RAFAEL NADAL: Is dry.
Q. Just your conditions?
RAFAEL NADAL: Lot of clay behind the baseline (smiling.) You can move well, so… Perfect conditions.
Q. When you changed ends at 5?Love in the first set, the scoreboard showed that Roger Federer was facing match point at the same time. Did that register with you, or do you not pay any attention to that?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah.
Q. And if you did notice it, what did you think at that point, because he could have been out and you were facing a very nasty start?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sure, I saw that in the scoreboard. Well, doesn’t affect on my game, for sure, no? But, yeah, when I am in the changeovers I always watch the rest of the courts, the results. Yeah, I like to do it.
Q. Did you feel like the improvements in the score line from the second set onwards was a result of Soderling making more mistakes or you changing your game and improving different aspects of it or a combination of the two?
RAFAEL NADAL: Always is the same. When one player plays very well, the other goes down.
Q. Did you try to do something different?
RAFAEL NADAL: I tried to play a little better than I did before. Sure the important thing in the beginning, I didn’t have no one free point with my serve. But after that I started to win a little bit more points with my serve.
I starting to playing little bit longer points, feeling little bit better with the forehand, having the control of point more times than in the first set. And that’s the key.
If Robin have to play only two shots every point, gonna be easy. But if he must play three, four, five, or six shots to beat me, gonna be little bit more difficult. So that’s what I gonna try. Try to be focused on myself and do what I can on the return.
Q. How are you feeling physically? How is your physical condition?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am fine. After the second and the third round, especially the third round, the match of fourth round and quarterfinals, I didn’t have any problem. So that’s (knocking on wood.)
Q. Do you think with Roger losing at the quarters at the French Open and here will get him more motivated for the US Open, make it harder for you guys to beat him there?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think is not the right question. That’s my opinion, because always you have the same motivation for every Grand Slam, even if you lose or you win the last Grand Slam. And Roger always gonna be difficult opponent in every one, but not because he lose in French and in Wimbledon. That’s my opinion.
Q. Can you talk about the first couple sets at the Australian Open against Murray, which were at a very high level, and maybe how he was attacking you and how you tried to respond.
RAFAEL NADAL: I was very happy about my level in that two sets. I lost both, but I was ready to win both, too. I was a break up in both sets, I think. So, no.
Maybe the only thing I had a mistake in that moment was stay a little bit more calm. And that confidence I have now because I won a lot of matches in the last few months. In that moments remains the title for me, but the level was probably similar than now.
June 30, 2010
Q. You looked excited by your performance today.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it’s really refreshing, you know, to perform this way I’d say after a while. You know, I was struggling with the level of my performance throughout the last five, six months. It was a lot of ups and downs.
But right now I’m playing great. It definitely makes me happy.
Q. What were your thoughts when you heard that Roger had lost?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, all the credit to Berdych. He played a good match. I’ve seen the last couple of games.
But, you know, regardless of who I play, I mean, if I perform as well as I did today, I think I have a good chance.
Q. Can you describe the matchup in more detail against Tomas, the strengths you need to try to exploit in your game and what you need to work on against him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: He’s a big server and he has powerful groundstrokes. Obviously, his weapon is his forehand. Plays a lot of flat shots.
So, uhm, he’s played semis of French Open. He’s got some great results in last couple of months. So he’s one of the toughest players to play against I guess lately.
I’m gonna have to be patient and wait for the chances. Obviously, both of us, we gonna have a great motivation to proceed to the next round and finals. For him, that would be a first finals. For me, third.
But, still, you know, I would give everything to play finals in Wimbledon.
Q. It’s two years since you won a Grand Slam. Do you think you’re playing at your best now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don’t know if I’m able to compare my present game with the one from 2008 when I won the Australian Open. But definitely close, close to there. I had the best tournament in Australia.
Right now I think I’m raising my confidence level and performance level match after match. This is something that is very encouraging in this stage of the tournament.
Q. You expect a very difficult match in the semifinal. Berdych in place of Federer means for you a better chance right now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, we all know Roger always plays his best tennis in the end of the tournament. He has played, what, 23, 24 consecutive semifinals of the Grand Slams. He has definitely, you know, more pressure, I guess, and a bigger challenge playing against him in the semis.
But still, you know, Berdych, he’s a player who won against Roger in four sets. We cannot forget that. He’s gonna go for the shots. I think he has, again, not much to lose. He’s gonna be motivated. So there’s no favorites, I guess.
Q. You said the game has changed for you. You’ve been struggling for the last couple months. What has changed or turned the tide for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don’t think game?wise I was far away from my maximum and from my top game in the last couple months. It was more like a mental struggle, I guess. I wasn’t finding myself on the court. I was ?? uhm, had too much distractions, meaning mental discomfort on the court; wasn’t feeling great; had a lot of ups and downs.
But it’s a part of the sport, part of the career. You just have to accept it that way. I’m sure everybody has been through that little mini crisis if you want to call it.
But it’s important to take the best out of it and continue in the right way. That’s what I did. I just want to look forward now.
Q. The last time you reached this stage at Wimbledon, you were far from fit. Are you a hundred percent now? Are you looking forward to making up for that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. It was a much different situation back then. I was less experienced, but yet I wasn’t fit as I am today. I had to play three matches in three days, very exhausting matches. When I got to the semifinal stage, I wasn’t ready for that.
But this time I’m ready mentally and physically. Just barely waiting to get on the court.
Q. What does this opportunity at this stage of your career mean to you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Oh, look, you know, playing a semifinals of any Grand Slam is a huge result. But being able to have the opportunity and to reach the finals is even more encouraging, of course, and more challenging.
So, as I said, you know, I’ll give everything to be in the finals. I’ll give my best on the court. If the guy’s better, I will congratulate him, but I will definitely fight till the last moment.
Q. Will it be more difficult to fall asleep tonight knowing that in the semifinal you have a bigger chance since you’re playing Berdych?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. I already answered that question, so…
Q. You played Berdych twice. You never lost a set. It’s a different Berdych, the one that you have to play now. How different do you think he is?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: He has improved I think a lot from the baseline. He had the powerful strokes and shots always, but he was making a lot of unforced errors before. Now he’s cutting that to the minimum. He’s becoming more patient.
Of course, physically he’s very strong, very compact. And, of course, serve is always there. So if he serves well, he can be very dangerous.
Q. And you spoke also about your personal problems or distractions. What were you meaning, apart from maybe the tournament in Belgrade?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I mean, that was not one of the distractions. You know, you always face some things. Sometimes on the court you think about things off the court which you shouldn’t and you keep your focus away from what you should do. That’s about it.
Q. Are you really surprised that Berdych beat Federer today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, I mean, Federer is the best player that ever played this game. And still to be able to play this way after he has won so many Grand Slams is just great. I mean, you have to give him credit for everything he has done.
So it’s normal for him to lose. I mean, you guys, you know, you think he shouldn’t lose at all? I mean, you have to congratulate to Berdych for playing that well.
Q. Are you a hundred percent fit going into the semifinals?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes.
June 30, 2010
Q. Just how tough was it out there today?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, it was very difficult. I mean, obviously the first couple of the sets were very close. And, uhm, yeah, I mean, he was going for huge shots and not giving me a rhythm.
It’s very difficult to know exactly how to play when someone’s, you know, just going for broke on everything. Just had to hang in and, yeah, managed to win that second?set tiebreak. I felt a lot better after that.
Q. Were you surprised you played so well in the first two sets?
ANDY MURRAY: No. I mean, I’ve played him before. I’ve seen him play many times. You know, he can play incredible tennis. You know, when he is playing like that, he’s, you know, so difficult to beat, one of the best players in the world.
No, it didn’t surprise me. But the thing that you have to do is you’ve got to try and stay tough. It’s very difficult to play at that level and that sort of high?risk tennis for a whole match. Just managed to turn it around.
Q. What are your thoughts on the keys to playing well against Nadal?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, you need to serve well and you need to play great tennis. It’s not, you know ?? there’s not one way to play against him. You don’t want to leave the ball in the middle of the court to his forehand, because you’ll do a lot of running.
But you’ve got to serve well and, you know, try and, you know, keep a good length and play well really, really, really well.
Q. How much have you seen of Nadal here this year and what have you made of him?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I’ve seen him play a little bit. Not that much. You know, we’ve been playing a lot of our matches ?? we obviously play on the same day, and you’re kind of focused on your match and obviously preparing for that.
Uhm, I saw a little bit of his match against Robin Haase and a little bit of his match against Petzschner. I followed his match with Petzschner. I saw a bit of that.
He’s playing great. He’s in the semifinals of a Grand Slam and he beat Soderling today, who’s, well, playing the best tennis of his career. You know, he’s a great player, too. So he’s obviously playing very well.
Q. Do you feel different coming into this semifinal than you did last year?
ANDY MURRAY: No, not really. You know, last year I obviously played well going into the semi, and it’s a completely different match.
So in that respect, you know, it’s very different tennis to how you play against Roddick and how the matches against Roddick go. Not feeling any different.
Q. Do you take any sort of psychological edge after beating him in Australia?
ANDY MURRAY: No. I think, you know, he would definitely be the favorite for the match, you know, with his results here the last few years.
You know, he obviously didn’t get a chance to defend his title last year, but he’s played three finals in a row and now he’s in the semis here.
You know, he’s obviously a very tough player on any surface, but he plays great tennis here. No, I mean, psychologically I need to believe that I can win the match. That’s the most important thing.
Q. Your odds are now 11?5 to win Wimbledon, the shortest priced Brit since Fred Perry.
ANDY MURRAY: That means nothing at all ? at all. It’s totally irrelevant, the odds. Totally irrelevant.
Q. The beard seems to be doing the trick. Will you keep it on till the end of the tournament?
ANDY MURRAY: I have no idea. Might shave tonight. Might shave tomorrow. Might leave it till the end of the tournament.
Q. Not affecting your aerodynamics or anything?
ANDY MURRAY: I hope not, no.
Q. Ben Stiller was in the crowd today. I know said in the past you like Will Ferrell’s movies. I think Ben Still is in that genre as well.
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, he’s very, very funny. Actually watched Dodgeball quite a few times in ?? where was I? It was in Madrid this year. And actually, had extras as well. Watched the episode where he’s in that quite a few times.
Yeah, he’s a very, very funny guy.
Q. What would it mean to you to win this title?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, it would obviously be incredible. You know, winning a Grand Slam is obviously why you play the game. You know, obviously if it was here, to win the first one would make it, you know, extra special.
But, yeah, I’m a long, long way from doing that. Six sets away, and have to beat the No. 1 in the world if I even want to have a chance of doing that. So it’s a long way.
Q. The second?set tiebreak today, at 5?All when he left that backhand return, was that more surprise or relief on your part? Maybe you thought that was going to be your day then?
ANDY MURRAY: No, I mean, you’re not really thinking like that at that stage of the match. You’re kind of focusing on trying to win the next point.
Uhm, you know, I was obviously surprised that he left it, but I did really well to get a racquet on the serve. It was a huge serve up the T, and just managed to get it back.
Uhm, yeah, it happens. People make some misjudgments sometimes. I managed to win the next point and change the match.
Q. How important was the support from the home crowd for you today?
ANDY MURRAY: It’s always important. It’s one of the main reasons why, you know, the British guys play ? well, Tim obviously played very well here ? and one of the reasons I played well the last few years.
Yeah, it gives you a lift. It helps, you know, when you’re in tough situations, tough moments, when the crowd get behind you. Like in every other sport, having home advantage is very important.
Q. You revealed late on Monday night that you had had many messages of support and well wishes, one from David Beckham. Have you had any other notable messages?
ANDY MURRAY: No, not really. No. I’ve had quite a few. But no, not really.
Q. How would you describe ? for people who aren’t from this country ? what the whole atmosphere is like with the history that goes back to Fred Perry since the last champion?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I mean, it’s obviously been a huge, huge wait for us, and it’s still obviously going on now. I don’t know how it affects the atmosphere on the court.
But the crowd, yeah, I mean, obviously would love to see a British player win Wimbledon. It’s something that’s kind of joked about amongst players and people within tennis about how long it’s been since someone British has won at Wimbledon.
I don’t know how it affects the atmosphere in the matches or not. It’s something that you just, yeah, learn to deal with. It doesn’t affect the way that I play. It’s not something that you’re thinking about when you’re on the court at all.
Q. How have you learned to deal with it?
ANDY MURRAY: Just by playing here and playing in big matches, you know, how to put ?? yeah, you just learn how to put, you know, everything to the back of your mind.
I think it’s either something you can do or you can’t. I don’t think you can be taught how to do it. I think it’s something that you’re either able to do or you can’t.
I’ve been lucky enough the last few years to not let that affect me.
Q. In his post?match interview, Jo Tsonga is backing you to win the Championships. Can you talk about what he said to you at the net and what that means to you?
ANDY MURRAY: It’s obviously nice to hear that from the other players. Yeah, he said it would be a pleasure to see me win the tournament. Sort of like, yeah, Good luck from me.
Yeah, I mean, you know, he’s been around for quite a long time at the top of the game. He’s played some big matches and had good runs in the Grand Slams, so he knows what it takes to get to the latter stages. You know, it’s nice to hear that from him.
Q. What did you make of Federer’s shock defeat? Given he’s beaten you in your two Grand Slam finals, do you feel his exit has improved your chances?
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know if it’s improved my chance or not. You never know what’s going to happen on any given day in this sport.
But, yeah, it was surprising. But, you know, Berdych is a great player. You know, if he plays his best tennis, he can, yeah, beat the best guys. He’s won against Rafa a few times; he’s obviously beaten Roger a couple of times now; and I obviously lost to him at the French Open a few weeks ago.
You know, doesn’t look like such a terrible result anymore.
Q. Were you quite pleased in a way that Federer is out?
ANDY MURRAY: No, I don’t care whether he’s in and out of the tournament. Doesn’t affect me unless I win the next round. So, you know, I’m playing the No. 1 player in the world in the next round, so it would be a bit silly for me to look past him in any way.
Q. Your plans for the next 24 hours? What are you going to do to stay relaxed ahead of Friday’s match?
ANDY MURRAY: Just the usual: go home tonight, watch a bit of TV. Yeah, you don’t do anything. It’s pretty boring, but you just do the same thing. I’ll come in tomorrow, practice around 1:00 for an hour, hour and a half, and that’s it. Take the dog on a walk.
Just, yeah, you don’t do anything special. You don’t do anything different. You just have to, yeah, be as calm as possible. That’s what I’ll try and do.
Q. How is Maggie? We heard she’s not very well.
ANDY MURRAY: She’s fine now.
Q. Rafa was saying how the conditions are a bit like clay because it’s so dry out there. Do you think that could be an advantage for him?
ANDY MURRAY: I definitely wouldn’t describe the courts here as similar to clay. More like a hard court because the ball’s bouncing. The courts are very firm, so the ball’s bouncing pretty high. There’s not too many bad bounces.
Yeah, I think it’s a pretty fair court for both of us. And, yeah, hopefully, you know, I can play well, because when I have played him on hard courts before, I’ve always felt like I’ve had chances against him. Had some good wins against him on the hard courts. If I serve well and play like I have been, I’ve got a chance.
Q. You have family and friends watching you. Any more people coming down from home?
ANDY MURRAY: Not that I’m aware of. I haven’t really spoken to anyone since I got off the court. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.
Q. You played so many times on Centre Court. What do you like the most about it?
ANDY MURRAY: Uhm, I like the atmosphere there. It’s different to the US Open. I love playing there, as well. You know, the Australian Open center court is a great court, as well.
But the atmosphere here for me is a bit different because obviously the support is all with you. I think, as well, with the roof going in, a lot of the court is kind of ?? a lot of the crowd is kind of covered, as well. So I think the noise stays in even better now.
But, yeah, I mean, there’s not one thing in particular. I just, uhm, really like the atmosphere. And obviously having the crowd with you helps.
Q. Do you think the crowd has a strong knowledge and following of the ebbs and flows of the match? Does that in any way help you?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, I think the crowds at Wimbledon are, yeah, pretty knowledgeable. You know, they have watched a few of Tim’s, you know, long, yeah, up?and?down matches over the years.
So, yeah, I’m sure they’re used to supporting. I think they understand well when you need the support. Yeah, they do a good job.
Q. Would it be different for you psychologically, because obviously this time you’ll be going into the semifinals as the underdog, whereas last year you were the favorite? So how different is that?
ANDY MURRAY: No, like I said, it’s totally irrelevant what everybody else thinks, because on the day, yeah, you’re playing against Rafa, not against ?? you’re not playing against the bookies’ odds or anything like that. You’re just playing against him. It’s not going to change a whole lot.
But, I mean, yeah, I know it’s going to be an incredibly difficult match to win, but one I believe I can if I play well.
Q. Have you spoken to Tim? Do you think he’ll have any words of advice for a semifinal again?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I get ‘good luck’ texts from him all the time. I mean, I think everybody deals with those situations differently. I’m sure if I wanted advice I’d be able to call Tim, you know, as soon as I’m done here and speak to him about it. He’s always been very good to me.
But I’ve got the guys around me that I work with that I trust a lot. You know, I’ll chat to them about it, about the match, and everything that will be going on with it.
June 30, 2010
The departure of six-time champ Roger Federer from The Wimbledon Championships today could in fact be a telling tale for the remainder of the Swiss’ career.
Not only did the former world No. 1 lose before the finals of the event for the first time since 2002—he will also lose even more ground in the rankings race on Monday when he slips down to world No. 3.
Lacking in the MPH department off of his groundstrokes, Federer never recovered after losing his serve in the seventh game of the first set. Although the top seed managed to scrape through and take the second set, his attempt at tying Pete Sampras’ seven Wimbledon titles will have to wait until next year.
What was perhaps the most astonishing part of Federer’s loss to Tomas Berdych was the low scoring of each set. Considering that both players hold stellar deliveries (especially Federer), it became perplexing to not see a 7-5 or 7-6 scoreline.
Acting a tad miffed during his post match presser, Federer quickly made sure that the assembled media was aware of why he was defeated.
“Well, when you’re hurting (Federer was struggling with a back and thigh issue), it’s just a combination of many things. You know, you just don’t feel as comfortable. You can’t concentrate on each and every point because you do feel the pain sometimes. And, uhm, yeah, then you tend to play differently than the way you want to play,” commented Federer.
“Under the circumstances I think I played a decent match, you know. But I’ve been feeling bad for the last two, three matches now. It’s just not good and healthy to play under these kind of conditions, you know.”
I’m really not sure that Federer could blame his poor back, or thigh injury for his loss. Berdych simply played in his comfort zone for a majority of the contest, while Federer’s game was not up to the challenge. There is no doubt that Berdych played a whale of a match in prevailing. Striking 12 aces in total, Berdych’s ace count was overshadowed by the placement of his serve. Keeping Federer from throwing his momentum into his returns, Berdych only lost his serve on one of four occasions.
Losing serve four times, Federer’s shot at victory was halted by his inability to consolidate any sort of a lead. If anything, it appeared that Federer’s footwork and proficiency around the court was a shell of what we’ve seen in the past.
I suppose Federer’s early round struggles throughout the event were a precursor to his defeat against Berdych. Surviving a first-round dogfight, Federer was pushed to a four-set victory in his second match. Although the Swiss pulled it together quite nicely in the third and fourth-rounds, his level of play was never at its historic best.
Will the Swiss’ success for the remainder of the season be affected by an early loss at his most cherished tournament? I wouldn’t be surprised if a repeat of the latter stages of his ‘08 campaign weren’t coming right up.
Losing to Berdych in Miami during the spring, Federer admitted that the Czech’s form had become more consistent over the past 12 months.
“I think he’s been able to play more consistent last year or so, and I was just not able to defend well enough and I didn’t come up with the good stuff when I had to,” Federer.
Part of Federer’s on-court frustration was in fact related to Berdych’s new found consistency. In a day and age where the world of pro tennis hosts its share of ball-bashing specialists, Berdych by no means is exempt from that group. However, to the Czech’s credit, he’s finally figured out how to obtain the best of both worlds between power and consistency—enjoy the moment, and let the ball rip.
“Yeah, I think, you know, it’s many things. First of all, it’s that you win a couple of matches in the beginning of the year, and then you get a confidence. It keeps going and going,” said Berdych.
“I mean, it’s not only like about last two weeks. It’s already start I would say maybe, I don’t know, in the United States, Indian Wells, Miami. So it’s quite far ago.
“You know, it’s many things. You get more and more experience. I get, you know, a little bit older to be, you know, more focused, you know, mentally stronger than before. That’s what you need.
“But it’s many things together, so I’m very happy that it works. They are all together like in one pack. It works pretty well.”
“All together in one pack” apparently is simply all that Berdych needs.
Already reaching the final four at Roland Garros, Berdych will now have an opportunity to continue his stellar year against his next opponent Novak Djokovic.
Berdych will once again play the role of the underdog against Djokovic, but one would certainly favor his chances at this point.
The dawn of a new day has finally settled over the hollowed grounds of Wimbledon. It took eight years to make it happen, but something tells me that there’s a little more magic left to be discovered before the end of Sunday’s final.
June 30, 2010
Day 9 is men’s quarter-final day at the All England Club, and it promises to be a cracker. Local hero Andy Murray takes on the flamboyant Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, while Robin Soderling and Rafael Nadal renew acquaintances after their recent French Open final. Roger Federer’s quest for a seventh Wimbledon crown continues against the in-form Tomas Berdych, and Novak Djokovic faces Andy Roddick’s conqueror, Yen-Hsun Lu.
Day 8 Recap
Ladies’ quarter-final day at Wimbledon produced a pair of stunning upsets. The unheralded Bulgarian, Tsvetana Pironkova, repeated her 2006 Australian Open triumph over Venus Williams, and the only thing more surprising than the outcome was the ruthless manner in which it was achieved. Williams had looked shaky in her previous match against Jarmila Groth, but her experience and first serve allowed her to get through that match. Williams wasn’t so lucky against Pironkova who, having nothing to lose, went for her shots throughout the match and was duly rewarded with a 6-2 6-3 victory.
The second big upset on Day 8 eventuated courtesy of Vera Zvonareva, who wore down Kim Clijsters in 3 sets, 3-6 6-4 6-2. As noted yesterday, Zvonareva has an abundance of talent but also a fiery temper and some frail nerves. But the Russian held it together yesterday, not dropping her bundle after losing the first set, and it was Clijsters whose game fell apart. Injuries have restricted the Belgian’s match play in recent months and it showed in the critical moments against Zvonareva. Zvonareva advances to the second Grand Slam semi-final of her career, and will fancy her chances against Pironkova.
While Serena Williams was no doubt upset to see her sister Venus exit the singles tournament, the reality is that Serena’s toughest opponent on grass is now out of the tournament. The younger Williams sister must now be at unbackable odds to claim a fourth Wimbledon title, considering that none of the other 3 players left in the tournament has ever made a Grand Slam final. Williams advanced to the semi-finals with a workman-like 7-5 6-3 over the always-competitive Na Li.
The quarter-final between Kaia Kanepi and Petra Kvitova was almost certainly the least-hyped of the women’s singles matches on Day 8, but it proved to be the most compelling of all the matches. Kvitova saved 5 match points against her Estonian rival, eventually prevailing 4-6 7-6(8) 8-6. Kvitova considers she is playing the best tennis of her life at the moment, and she will need to continue such form, given that her opponent in the semi-finals is none other than Serena Williams.
Matches of the Day – Day 9
1. Roger Federer vs. Tomas Berdych
Roger Federer leads Tomas Berdych 8-2 in career meetings, with Berdych the victor in the pair’s first and last matches. Federer won’t be losing any sleep over the most recent loss to Berdych, which came on hard-courts in Miami in the form of a final set tie-breaker. After an unusually shaky start to the tournament, Federer has improved markedly in his last 2 matches, disposing of class acts in Clement and Melzer in straight sets. On grass, Federer’s movement, precision and experience give him a significant advantage over Berdych, but the Czech player does has the power game to hurt Federer.
Until this year’s French Open, I had always considered Berdych to be a major talent who would never live up to his potential in the Grand Slams. To my mind, this was epitomised by Berdych’s 5 set loss to Federer at the 2009 Australian Open. Berdych went up 2 sets to love and had all the momentum before he tensed up and subsequently slumped to defeat. But on the back of some good form earlier in the year (including a run to the final in Miami), Berdych had a fabulous fortnight in Paris, making the semi-finals and pushing Soderling all the way in a 5 set marathon. That fortnight has seemingly galvanised Berdych’s self-belief, but I think he will struggle against Federer, mainly due to the surface.
Federer will look to deprive Berdych of pace, and the Swiss master will employ an array of sliced, flat and off-pace balls to do so. For Berdych, it will be a case of taking his chances on the few occasions they are presented. He’s got the ability to win this match, but Federer has been in this position so many times before, and that counts for a lot. Federer in 4.
2. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Andy Murray
Andy Murray came a lot closer to winning last year’s Wimbledon title than most tennis pundits think. The best player at last year’s championships was not Roger Federer, but Andy Roddick. Unfortunately for Murray (and Roddick), the American played his best match of the tournament in the semi-final against the British number one, going on to lose the final in that epic against Federer. If Murray had made it past Murray, the final might not have been as successful for the Swiss master.
That’s because Murray is now a highly accomplished grass-court player. The Scotsman seems to understand that his peculiar mix of power, touch and counter-punching is probably most effective on grass, and he has backed up last year’s efforts by reaching this year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals without dropping a set, despite coming up against some difficult opponents. Tsonga has done well to make the quarters, which represents his best-ever performance at the All England Club. But unlike Murray, grass-courts don’t favour Tsonga, the surface depriving him, like his compatriot Monfils, of some explosiveness in movement. Accordingly, I’m backing Murray to make the final 4. Murray in 4.
3. Yen-Hsun Lu vs. Novak Djokovic
After Yen-Hsun Lu’s superb performance against Andy Roddick in the round of 16, it would be unwise to dismiss his chances against Novak Djokovic, whose form on grass over the past couple of years has been somewhat inconsistent. Lu has nothing to lose in this encounter, but I suspect the miraculous win over Roddick has drained the Taiwanese player, both physically and mentally.
Djokovic had some physical ailments of his own in his fourth round match against Lleyton Hewitt, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were of a strictly minor nature and representative of some gamesmanship on the Serb’s behalf. I was impressed by Djokovic’s play against Hewitt, who had been in great touch during this year’s grass-court season and who was priming himself for a deep run in this tournament. But Djokovic’s greater weight of shot, and some unusually sloppy play from Hewitt, told the story of the match. If Djokovic can serve well and hold his service games with relative ease, his abilities on the return of serve should present him with enough chances on the Lu serve. Djokovic in 4.
4. Robin Soderling vs. Rafael Nadal
In my opinion, this clash is the match of the day, pitting the best couple of players on the ATP Tour in recent months against each other. Soderling has now established himself as one of the best handful of players in the men’s game and as a leading contender in the majors. After winning his first 3 matches without dropping a set, Soderling was on track for a similar result against David Ferrer before the Swede’s concentration wavered and he was forced to 5 sets by the tenacious Ferrer.
In contrast, Nadal had a much easier time of it against Mathieu, but that result followed a couple of draining 5 setters, with the world number one forced to come back from 2 sets to 1 down against both Haase and Petzschner. The Soderling game was clinically dismantled by Nadal in Paris earlier this month, but the change of surface will benefit the Swede. Nadal won’t be able to chase down shots as effectively on grass as he can on clay, but the game plan won’t change for Soderling. The sixth seed needs to serve and return well, go for his shots and, above all, keep the points short. If he does all of that, Soderling should win this match. But if Soderling falters in any way, Nadal will be there to claim victory. I consider this match to be a 50/50 proposition, but I’ll take Nadal when it comes to the crunch. Nadal in 5.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow.
June 29, 2010
Wednesday’s order of play at the All England Club will feature top seed Roger Federer, No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal, No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic, and No. 4 seed Andy Murray.
For the complete order of play for Wednesday, click the link below.