November 30, 2010
World No. 2 Roger Federer, who capped off another sensational year on the circuit by capturing his fifth season-ending title at the O2 Arena in London, told reporters on Sunday that he’s looking forward to his Australian Open defense.
“Look, the goal is obviously not to lose first round, but trying to win it again,” said Federer. I like the pressure of being defending champion. The memories for me back in Australia are very emotional, very nice. I love playing there.
“I’m excited starting in Abu Dhabi and Qatar, gearing up for the new season. Looking forward to some rest and practice, too.
“I’m sure I’m going to play well. That never guarantees success. But I’m sure that the confidence I took away from this tournament could help down the stretch. And beating fellow top-10 players could always have some mental play at some stage of the season. So there’s many positives to take out of this tournament.”
Federer will be bidding for his fifth Australian Open title in January.
November 30, 2010
World No. 23 Michael Llodra told reporters ahead of this weekend’s Davis Cup final in Belgrade that he’s ready to aid France to their 10th title.
Reaching the semifinals of the Masters 1000 event in Paris, Llodra also recorded two tournament victories this year.
“I’m ready, but it’s up to [Guy] Forget to decide,” Llodra told the Associated Press.
Recently defeating Serbia’s top player Novak Djokovic during his run to the semifinals of the Paris Indoors, Llodra will join Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon and Arnaud Clement on the four man squad.
November 30, 2010
by: Nima Naderi
Serbian Team: Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic
French Team: Gael Monfils, Michael Llodra, Gilles Simon and Arnaud Clement
Riding a wave of emotions into this year’s Davis Cup final in Belgrade, the Serbian and French finalists have everything to play for during the last event of 2010.
While Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic were busy pulling in successful campaigns at the World Tour Finale in London, the French squad led by Gael Monfils and Michael Llodra were plugging away on the practice courts in the south of France.
It goes without saying that a victory for either team would translate into a monumental achievement. Serbia, a country of 10 million people, may never get another opportunity to fight for the Davis Cup title at home, while the rich history of French tennis seldom expects anything short of top honors.
Djokovic has publicly stated that his sole mission for this year year has been to bring his nation their first Davis Cup crown, while French captain Guy Forget—both a DC winner as a player and a coach—has remained confident and serene in his team’s chances.
With the court surface at the Belgrade Arena playing more like the O2 Arena in London, both Djokovic and Zimonjic will feel right at home from the first ball struck.
Davis Cup competition has always brought forth a completely different dynamic from any Tour event on the calender. Matches are played over five sets, and the partisan crowd can often dictate the outcome. We’ve seen Chilean hero Fernando Gonzalez play some of his best tennis when representing his country, and I’m confident the same can be said for Djokovic.
Although Djokovic has shown some nerves during the various Davis Cup ties this year, his competitive nature and defensive skills have aided him to victory. Serbia’s top star does have a few solid shoulders to lean on during the three day event. Viktor Troikci, a winner in St. Petersburg, Russia this fall, opted to miss the Paris Masters event in order to “be fresh and ready for the finals.”
How about the philosophical Janko Tipsarevic? The glasses-weary baseline guru has put together a competent year, highlighted of course by his win over Andy Roddick at the US Open. The 26-year-old posted crucial singles victories during the semifinal round against the Czech Republic, and will therefore be better prepared to deal with the pressures of playing at home.
When looking at the French squad’s chances, one has to wonder whether or not the substance and grit required for victory is present? Richard Gasquet has folded and faded under many circumstances, while Monfils and Llodra—although ultra talented—have been known to break down tactically in bigger matches.
I was impressed with Llodra’s demeanor at the Paris Masters, but I’m not convinced that his straight set victory against Djokovic will become a factor in Belgrade. With the court surface playing significantly slower, Djokovic’s return game and passing shots will be awfully tough to diffuse.
Monfils’ play will inevitably become vital towards his team’s chances of survival. Playing some of the best ball during the fall season, Monfils finally seems to be soaking in the wise words of his coach Roger Rasheed. However, I’ll never really be at ease with Monfils’ consistency or positive outlook towards his game, simply because he more often than not experiences way too many turbulent results.
In saying that, I do believe that this tie will go down to the wire. As much as pressure, confidence, or nerves may creep into the equation, it appears that both teams are healthy, and have been training hard. There’s never been any secrets towards the French squad’s annual success in Davis Cup, and while Serbia enters its first-ever DC final, there’s no question that the budding tennis nation is ready to become a regular force for the title.
I’d be inclined to say that France has a much better lineup to gain the doubles point, while Serbia’s singles players have posted better results this year.
French underdog and former top six player Gilles Simon could become a factor in the weekend’s action, posting stellar fall results, while playing his best career tennis on hard-courts. If Forget decides to use Simon, his skill-set will hold enough offense and defense to defeat any member of the Serbian team.
All in all, it’s been a hectic year on the circuit, and I expect nothing less than a blockbuster finish in Belgrade. While the 16,000 in attendance will be amped for a first-time victory, I do believe that many gasps of frustration, and nailbiting moments will occur before the final shot is won.
Already Belgrade’s most eligible bachelor, look for Djokovic to lead his anxious teammates towards their maiden title.
Winner: Serbia, 3-2
November 29, 2010
In this week’s edition of Movers and Shakers, Nima takes a look at all-time great Roger Federer, and his domination of the field at the World Tour Finale in London.
If anything, we can’t say that the season-ending event brought us many surprises. With the exception of the Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray semifinal, and perhaps the championship match, the well-designed O2 Arena was a showcase for many straight set affairs.
There was also that business of having the big four reach the semifinals (surprised?), and Diego Maradona sitting courtside for each and every match. Although the season-ender won’t be remember as one of the all-time great events in history, the elite eight tournament did create many enticing bridges towards the 2011 season.
What Did We Learn From London?
I think it’s safe to say at this point that Roger Federer is the best hard-court player in the world when he’s fully healthy. There’s no doubt that Nadal wasn’t at his physical best during Sunday’ final, but the Spaniard has never possessed the slice and flat-hit variation that the Swiss has produced on the asphalt.
More than anything, though, I was surprised at how aggressive Federer continued to remain throughout the one hour and 38 minute encounter. Crashing the net whenever he saw fit, Federer attacked Nadal’s backhand in relentless fashion, while hitting his off forehand and cross-court backhand with margin and safety.
Whether it was Paul Annacone’s influence or not, Federer displayed a renewed willingness to shorten the points against his greatest rival when it mattered the most. During the crucial stages at the beginning of the third set, Federer demonstrated his return of serve attack to break Nadal at 2-1. Taking the Spaniard’s second serve off-the-rise, Federer knifed an inch perfect forehand volley into the corner, before dropping Nadal’s backhand passing shot over the net for a winner.
With age comes experience, and with Federer turning 30 next year, he would be well rewarded if he continues to mix up his baseline and forecourt tactics throughout his matches.
By winning his fifth season-ending event on Sunday, Federer will enter the Australian Open with further confidence towards his title defense. Racking up 1500 ranking points with his London victory, Federer should have a crack at Nadal’s No. 1 ranking next year, even though the Spaniard will be tough to dethrone.
Looking Forward To Twenty Eleven
With all the jibber-jabber of the up-and-coming generation taking over the men’s field, I caution all the fans out there to expect a similar 2011 to this year.
Nadal still hasn’t entered the peak of his career—if that’s not a scary thought, I don’t know what is—and Federer appears healthy and strategically confident with the Australian Open approaching.
I’ve pick Murray to step up and take his first Slam title on a couple of occasions throughout the years, but when looking at the glass from whichever angle you please, there’s no denying who the Major favorites remain.
Capturing every Grand Slam except for three since the beginning of 2005, Federer and Nadal continue to own the upper echelons of the sport.
Annacone, who claimed that Federer “is physically in better shape than Pete Sampras was at 29,” will hopefully push the hard-nosed Swiss to keep up his net approaches.
Federer’s task of reclaiming the No. 1 ranking from Nadal will have to remain a long term goal. While Federer has over 2000 points to defend heading into Indian Wells, Nadal’s quarterfinal loss in Australia in ‘09 will allow him to gain further ground if he can reach the finals or better.
Federer’s chance at becoming No. 1 will likely have to wait until the clay and grass-court season—but that’s also where Nadal has enjoyed his greatest success.
The Spaniard will have to remain healthy, however, or a sharp drop in the rankings could take place.
With that being said, it was nice to see Federer and Nadal square off in their 22nd career meeting over the weekend, and here’s hoping that we’ll be able to enjoy at least three of four more meetings next year.
For now, Federer can hold his head high after ruling the O2 Arena, while Nadal’s season as whole can’t be overlooked by any degree.
We’re almost out of tennis to watch this year, with the exception of the Davis Cup final this weekend. I’m pretty confident that the Serbian and French teams are ready to put on a fine show.
Be good, and I’ll touch base with all of you next week for another edition of Movers and Shakers.
November 29, 2010
R. FEDERER/R. Nadal
6-3, 3-6, 6-1
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Fifth time you’ve picked up this particular trophy. How satisfying is it at the end of this week to have come through in the circumstances you have?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, obviously it’s fantastic. I’m really thrilled the way I played all week. To win a fifth time is obviously amazing, for the third time in a different place. Like I told you, it would be great to win in Houston, Shanghai, and also now here in London.
Yeah, I’m just really happy the way I was able to finish the season in style, playing some of my best tennis, really saving the best for last. Really playing a lot of, lot of tennis at the end of the stretch here, trying to really get myself geared up and ready for this particular tournament. Then obviously beating Rafa in the finals makes it extra special because of the year he had.
Q. At the end of the second set when he came back at you, what were your emotions then? Did you feel it was going to be a tough, tight third set?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think the game I got broken, I hardly made any first serves, if any. I don’t want to say I gave it to him. But obviously Rafa is good enough off second serves he’s going to win at least 50% off them usually unless you’re on a roll and he doesn’t kind of figure out your second serve.
But at that point, he was into the match. He knew the importance of it. He was able to find a way to break me in that game. So I just really tried to focus harder on my first serves to make sure I make them. You know, just focus even more of doing the right things. Then I knew that I could come through.
It was interesting the way he played. But I stayed offensive. I knew in the long run that could be vital, which it was at the end, so I’m very happy.
Q. Three games into the final set, did you sense his energy level dropped a little bit, and did you go more on the offensive then?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. I mean, I thought obviously the game I broke him at 4-1 all happened real quick. But I returned a few times real good. I was able to stay offensive. Rallies were never that long. I think that kind of maybe frustrated him.
Obviously, this is indoor tennis. This is the way I grew up playing. So maybe it played in my hands. But I always believed in a plan from start to finish. Like at the first match I came out and played against Ferrer, I think I always stayed true to how I wanted to play. It was the same thing today.
Even though I lost the second set, I’m really happy the way I stayed positive throughout the match today. I thought it was clearly a very high level. I don’t know if I could have played any better, so I’m really pleased.
Q. What do you think of the way you started the match, were playing really fast, not giving him any time, any rhythm? Was that part of your plan?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, obviously I tried to be aggressive. I hoped sometimes I was going to make less mistakes.
Look, as long as I wasn’t down in the score, there was no need to panic. I was serving real well, hitting my spots well, hitting my backhand well, which is obviously key against Rafa, because obviously with him being a left-hander, he finds my backhand a bit easier than other players.
I always knew it was going to be an interesting match. I think we obviously have a huge amount of respect for each other. I admire his game. I think he admires my game. That always makes up for a good fight.
Today was another great match, I thought, with some fantastic rallies. I know it doesn’t take anything away from his great season, because it was magnificent. For me, obviously this was a huge tournament. You know, winning the last one against top-10 players is extra special.
Q. How have you changed or have you changed the way you prepare tactically for the matches and the tournaments since Paul joined your team?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, first of all, I guess I had to regain some confidence. That only comes through winning matches. After having somewhat of a disappointing clay, Halle, Wimbledon stretch, where I wasn’t able to win any tournaments, maybe didn’t play some of my best tennis, played a bit passive, it was important, once the hard court season came around, that I was able to pick up my game, start moving better, start feeling well physically and mentally.
I’m sure Paul has helped in this regard. So has Severin. He’s helped, as well, over the last few years. That’s why I’m very happy with my team at this stage of the season. I can obviously thank them for great work. It’s through their hard work and my condition trainer, my physio, my wife and kids and everybody, it’s been wonderful traveling with them.
It’s been intense at times obviously, a lot of sacrifices. But, look, it seems like we made many right decisions towards the end of the season. My body was able to, you know, cope with a lot of playing I did. I played five tournaments in seven weeks now. So it’s been real intense. Obviously, I feel quite tired and exhausted at this point. But who cares in 20 years, you know. So very happy how I feel right now.
Q. Rafael Nadal was 11 months without winning a title. You had ups and downs last year. Many people thought it was an end of the domination of Nadal/Federer. This year you won all the four slams, you and Nadal. Is this going on now? Do you think the domination, Nadal/Federer, will go on also next year?
ROGER FEDERER: Who is ‘they’?
Q. Many, many, many journalists.
ROGER FEDERER: I’m not sure it’s that many. After all, sometimes you just stir up stuff and there’s nothing really there.
Look, obviously with Rafa having won three Grand Slams in a row, seems like not many people stopping him. And now that I’ve found back to my best form as well, when I’m on, that’s a hard thing to do, as well.
Look, Murray, Djokovic had another great year, maybe lacking some of the bigger titles. Murray won two against me in the finals, too. That is a positive sign next year for him. Then you have other guys like Berdych and Soderling that had another excellent season and were able to beat me a few times. I don’t know if they beat Rafa this year.
Look, I think tennis, the men’s game, is at an absolute high right now, with a lot of exciting games being played, with a lot of respect. Also I think having had me and Rafa both made the career Grand Slam already at a young age I think is great for the game.
We’re obviously playing not only for ourselves and beating the other guys, but also for history. I think there’s a lot at stake always in all our matches we play in the future. I think it’s wonderful.
Q. I want to know if the gap was bigger and smaller, between you two and the others?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know. I mean, possibly. I don’t know what the rankings are these days. I haven’t checked in a while.
Look, I have pressure in Australia. Don’t get me started (smiling).
Q. Some of your battles with Rafa were tough. Today you performed fantastic, especially the last set. What makes you give us such a good performance and how do you feel winning the championship?
ROGER FEDERER: It feels great. Look, I say I’m very happy to have won such a prestigious tournament. You ask all the top guys, we love this event. How do you say, the importance of it is obviously as important as any other tournament around the world. For me to come out and play and save my best tennis for last is an amazing feeling.
I played from start to finish fantastic tennis. Couldn’t be more happy right now. So I’m very, very pleased.
Q. I know money is not important, but you’ve won £1 million in eight days. Got your eye on anything particularly special?
ROGER FEDERER: I need holidays. Time is money these days. It’s nice to get money. Sure helps. But this is not why I’m here. Look, the memories I take away from this are much greater than all the money I won.
Q. After the magnificent form you showed today, do you have any plans how long you’re going to carry on playing or are you just going to do it as long as you can?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, as long as I can, as long as I’m healthy, eager, motivated, which I clearly am. I’ve played, I don’t know, 10 full seasons in my career really. Nine of them I made the World Tour finals. So I’ve had obviously always long and exhausting seasons. But I seem to, you know, enjoy it and take pleasure out of traveling the world, playing against the best, challenging myself in practice and so forth.
So it’s been an amazing career for myself. Yeah, at the moment I have no plans at all stopping, quitting, whatever you want to call it. Hope I can play for many more years to come. It’s a goal anyway. I think it’s possible.
Q. A question about the semifinal match with Novak. How would you compare this semifinal to the US Open semifinal? Was Novak really playing much better then or did you start playing better in Basel and here?
ROGER FEDERER: Possibly. Maybe I learned my mistakes in New York. But as I mentioned once before, I thought it was quite tricky mentally to prepare for that kind of a tough match knowing it was best-of-five sets and Rafa had an easy run through to the finals, that he was going to be completely fresh on Sunday. I didn’t know rain was going to come on Sunday. I didn’t plan with that. Maybe that’s why the second and fourth sets kind of were over in a hurry. That’s one thing that’s never going to happen to me again. You live and you learn.
I thought Novak played a great match. I could have won, should have won. I ended up losing because Novak played great. That’s the way I lost some matches this season. It’s been unfortunate at times. But I always believed that I still had a good season, which I did. I proved it again today, so I’m very happy.
Q. For some people you open a dictionary and your picture would be under the entry for gentleman.
ROGER FEDERER: Your call. I don’t know.
Q. In a certain way, do you think this tournament is also a message sent to people sometimes who question your form, your mental status, et cetera? As far as I’m concerned, you showed some flawless displays, saying 2011, watch it, I might be back?
ROGER FEDERER: Depends on how you see it, how negative you watch tennis. I think the fans I have, they believe in me regardless if I’m winning or losing. Obviously winning helps.
Look, I’ve had a good season. I don’t see how someone can say it’s been a bad season. I had some tough losses, sure. You’re not going to win every tournament you play. Obviously I can’t play every season, make 16 out of 17 finals like I did back in 2005. It’s just not realistic.
I’m happy I made another I think it’s been my ninth final this season. I’ve won five titles, won a slam. Everything was there. I think physically I was better than the last two seasons I’ve had. That obviously makes me be very positive for next year, that I believe I can have another great season in 2011, which is important to feel.
Q. On that point, how important was this title for you as you look ahead to defending the Australian Open in a couple of months?
ROGER FEDERER: Ask me after my first-round loss in Australia how important it was (smiling).
I don’t know. Look, the goal is obviously not to lose first round, but trying to win it again. I like the pressure of being defending champion. The memories for me back in Australia are very emotional, very nice. I love playing there.
I’m excited starting in Abu Dhabi and Qatar, gearing up for the new season. Looking forward to some rest and practice, too.
I’m sure I’m going to play well. That never guarantees success. But I’m sure that the confidence I took away from this tournament could help down the stretch. And beating fellow top-10 players could always have some mental play at some stage of the season. So there’s many positives to take out of this tournament.
Q. Most of us in December have to watch what we eat and drink because or waistlines get bigger. Do you have to watch what you do over the Christmas period? Can you indulge yourself a little bit, get crazy, have a couple nights out?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I can eat biscuits and everything, have fondue and everything, no problems, deserts 10 days in a row. I don’t know how it is with you. It’s a good thing to work out and to eat healthy. That’s what I do.
I never have to be too careful. I think when it gets dangerous is when you get injured and you can’t practice as much and all that stuff and you keep on eating the same amount, which you usually eat, because that’s what you kind of need to be able to perform well.
No, I eat very healthy to start off with. That helps to cause from not getting any bigger and heavier, even though heavier means stronger, but not all the time.
Q. A technical question.
ROGER FEDERER: I’m a technical guy. We’ll see (smiling).
Q. I would like to know what kind of string tension and weight of the racquet you were using in this tournament? You change given the surface and everything.
ROGER FEDERER: The weight has been pretty much the same for years. I have honestly forgotten the weight I have in my racquet. You should ask my guys there.
The string tension I do know, because that’s what I request on a particular match. But this week I played the same tension, which was about 22 kilos. I play half synthetic, half natural gut. I’ve been playing that since 2002. So I’ve had pretty much the same strings for quite some time now.
November 29, 2010
R. FEDERER/R. Nadal
6-3, 3-6, 6-1
Q. Could you give us your thoughts on today’s final.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, he played unbelievable. I think in the beginning was unplayable I think this first set. I still having chances in the second, and the beginning of the third, so-so.
But, anyway, my though is he played better than me, he beat me. I just can congratulate him for his victory and another great tournament for him. He played unbelievable during all the week without losing a set, being in the final. So his level was very high.
I try my best this afternoon, but he was better than me.
Q. Yesterday almost nobody believed that you were tired, because you’re never tired, but today you seemed to be tired. You were a little slow. Did you feel that in your legs, apart from Federer playing well, or not?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think is not the right moment to talk about that. The thing is everybody saw the match of yesterday, so everybody’s free to think his own opinion.
But I don’t gonna say I lost the match because I was tired. What I gonna say and what I feel is I lost the match because I played against a very good Roger Federer in one of his favorite surfaces. And when he’s playing like this, is very difficult to stop him, no?
I had little bit chances. I was there, but wasn’t enough.
Q. On what level did you find it difficult or the most difficult, most demanding, to play against Roger today? Was it on the physical, tactical, or mental level?
RAFAEL NADAL: He played very aggressive. He played great. His serve was good, with good percentage outside in the important moments, wide in the deuce. The forehand was unbelievable. And he was playing really well with the backhand, too, no?
Was difficult to play because he played very close to the baseline, going to the net. He tried to don’t play very long points from the baseline, no? He’s trying to play inside and play very aggressive. He did well, no? So everything. Roger is probably the more complete player of the world.
When he’s playing well, is difficult to find solutions. But for the moment, I found it. I am happy about my match of this afternoon if we think about the global conditions. Was very difficult final for me. I still won a set. So in general I’m very happy about this afternoon.
But I am more happy about all the week. Was a fantastic week for me. Four top-8 players in the same week in a difficult surface for me. So I think never happen that in the past. So that’s very good new for me.
Q. How has your rivalry and your relationship with Roger changed over the years?
RAFAEL NADAL: All the time? Another time you want to know?
I think everybody knows about our relationship, no? We have a great relationship all the time, no? Our relationship didn’t change a lot since the beginning because was all the time very respectful. The only way the relationship can improve is being closer and closer because we spend more time together, always being in the council, being on court, playing exhibitions together.
Right now we going to have these exhibitions in December, one in Zurich for his foundation, one in Madrid for my foundation.
So I think is not a rivalry. We were playing lot of important moments together. So I think that’s makes something like (speaking in Spanish).
THE MODERATOR: All these moments in tennis makes you appreciate it more.
RAFAEL NADAL: We never had any problem in all of our careers. So being a lot of hours on court, a lot of tension moments, never had a problem. I think that’s not easy. That says that we always had a really good relationship, no?
Q. Can you tell us what you’ll be doing over the next three or four weeks until you play those charity matches.
RAFAEL NADAL: This week I gonna work with the sponsors. I have to do some TV spots. So I have to work almost every day, tomorrow till next Monday. So that’s going to be my holidays (laughter).
After that, practice. I gonna start to practice next Monday. Practice as good as I can to be ready for January. That’s what I gonna try, try to repeat the same like last year, that I practiced all well in December and I arrived to the beginning of the season with very high level, but without calm to don’t win in a long time.
My opinion now, if I arrive with the same level like last year in the beginning of the season, the situation can change, because the calm going to be there after this probably more emotional and good season of my career, no?
Q. This is a time when we’re all perhaps a little tired, but we all like to reflect on the year that’s gone by. What would you say were the images that most come to your mind when you reflect on 2010?
RAFAEL NADAL: Everything, no? Was a lot of important moments for me during all the season. I think was a very emotional season, no? Was difficult for moments in the beginning, but after a tough time probably, because I had this difficult time, I was able to play with ambition all the season, no? All the time trying to convert the options, the chances to win and keep winning and keep playing well because when you spend 11 months without a victory, when you pass some difficult moments, you really know how difficult is win a tournaments, how difficult is be there, how difficult is be competitive every week.
So when you are there another time, for me the only thing that I was thinking all the time is, Be focused, don’t lose this dynamic, don’t lose this level, no, because with this level I was feeling I have chances to win in every tournament, no?
In general, was fantastic, no? For me the first two tournaments of the year — well, first one was Abu Dhabi. Was an exhibition, but everybody wants to play well there. Was fantastic level. In Doha was probably one of the best sets of my career, the first set against Davydenko. So after that I say, Well, I am here. I am playing well another time. I am ready to try to win and compete for the important titles another time.
It happened. Was very hard, very difficult to accept for me the Australian Open injury another time. But I was lucky because I had to stop three weeks, but after that I arrived to Indian Wells and Miami with another time a very high level. That was the key of the season: feel that I was playing really well, but don’t win.
So when I started to win the first time, first tournament in Monte-Carlo, everything was more easier, no, because I pulled out all the pressure, all this anxiety. After that I started to play really well. Roland Garros, without losing a set. Wimbledon, very difficult Wimbledon victory, with so many difficult matches, but finally the win. And the US Open the same, no? Don’t lose a set before the final.
You must be playing really well to be in two Grand Slam finals without losing a set, no? So in general was a very emotional season for me. I am very happy for everything and just can say thank you very much all the people that support me all the time when I had the difficult moments, when I was winning, all the sponsor that keep having confidence in me, and everybody was seriously really fantastic with me last year.
Q. Obviously you wanted to win this tournament, but you can’t complain because this season was absolutely fantastic. Next season you’re going to have to work a lot on how you’re going to deal with expectations. I know Roger is still there. A lot of the eyes are going to be towards you. A lot of people will think, Is he going to repeat what he’s done this season? How are you going to handle this, work mentally to prepare yourself for what’s going to come?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, is not the first season of my career. Going to be right now six seasons being in the top two of the ranking. So for me doesn’t make any differences if I won three Grand Slams this year or if I won one or two. It happened in the past.
When I start the season, everything starts. You know, I don’t think if I have to defend 100,000 points or if I have to defend 1,000 points, no?
In Australia or in Doha when I start the season, I have zero points. So we start from there. First goal is qualification for London next year, and after we will see. For me, every day and every season start, and I gonna work to be ready and be competitive to try to be in the top positions and to compete to keep winning titles.
But the pression for me gonna be the same. When I go to the tournament, going to be the same pression for me to play in Australia than to play in the US Open, doesn’t mean if I have to defend 2,000 points or 350 points, because the goal is the same, try to play well, try to compete against everybody, and try to be in the final rounds.
November 29, 2010
World No. 6 Tomas Berdych admitted that he voted for Rafael Nadal instead Roger Federer for ATP Sportsman of the year because of the “disappointing” comments the Swiss made after his Wimbledon loss.
Defeating Federer in four sets at SW19, Berdych felt that Federer’s post-match comments were inappropriate.
“I was trying to just decide between two names, him and Roger,” he said. “I just decide to go for Rafa. I think he really deserves it. Just was a little bit disappointing after what I read in London, when I play against Roger and beat him. He was a little bit complaining about how he was injured and stuff like that. It was just kind of surprise for me. So maybe that was just the reason I vote for Rafa.”
Berdych finished 1-2 during the round robin stage of the season-ending event. The Czech also dropped a straight set match to Nadal during the Wimbledon final.
November 29, 2010
In this week’s podcast, Nima and Parsa discuss Roger Federer’s triumphant win over Rafael Nadal at the World Tour Finale in London.
Has Federer ever played any better? What was the best match of the week? And what can we look forward to for the 2011 season. Nima and Parsa battle these questions and many more during the show.
As always, you can alternatively listen to the #1 tennis PodCast via iTunes and never miss another episode. It is very easy and completely free.
November 28, 2010
Barclays ATP World Tour Finale—London, England
World No. 2 Roger Federer capped off a brilliant week of tennis at the O2 Arena in London on Sunday by defeating No. 1 ranked Rafael Nadal 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in the championship match.
Needing one hour and 38 minutes to prevail, Federer began his charge to the title by playing a near perfect first set. Winning 100 percent of his first serve points, Federer converted on a crucial break in the eighth game to lead 5-3.
Nadal, who fought through a stern challenge by Andy Murray on Saturday, tightened up his return game during the opening stages of the second set. Capturing his lone break of the match to lead 3-1, Nadal stretched his lead to 5-3, before serving out the set.
However, Federer’s brilliant serving day would continue to pay dividends in the deciding set. Continuing to win a ridiculously high percentage of both his first and second serve points, Federer broke Nadal to lead 3-1, before running away with the match.
Improving his hard-court record over the Spaniard to 4-3, Federer notched his fifth career title at the season-ending event, while pocketing $1.63 million for being the undefeated champion.
Federer gave his opponent full praise for his fantastic season during the trophy ceremony.
“I know I didn’t spoil his vacation after this because he’s had an amazing year,” said Federer. “A year that any player dreams of.”
Reaching the semifinals or better of every event that he’s played since Wimbledon, Federer improved to 65-13 on year, and will finish 2010 ranked No. 2 in the world.
Entering the season-ending tournament with hopes of capturing his first ever title, Nadal will leave London with the optimism that his indoor game is in fine form.
“You played unbelievable all during the week,” Nadal said to Federer during the post match presentations. “So well done for everything.”
Erasing his 0-3 robin round record from 2009, Nadal ends the year with a 71-10 record, which included seven titles.
November 28, 2010
R. NADAL/A. Murray
7-6, 3-6, 7-6
Q. Give us your thoughts on today’s match.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I think was incredible tennis match, no? I think was very good level for both of us. I think Andy played at very good level almost all the time, and I was a little bit lucky in the beginning of the third with 1-0 for him and Love-30. He had two mistakes, very important mistakes for me in those moments because I was a little bit tired.
But in general I think was a fantastic match, no? I am very happy to beat a great champion like Andy. For me is an amazing victory. Just can say I am very happy for everything because was a really difficult match against one of the best players of the world. His level is unbelievable almost always. If he plays like this, I don’t have any doubt he going to have big chances to win very important titles.
Q. In the final set tiebreak, you were down 3-Love. Describe what you were feeling and how you came back into the tiebreak.
RAFAEL NADAL: The feeling is he make an ace and two winners. I didn’t have a chance to do more in the tiebreak in the 3-Love, no? In the 3-Love, he had a mistake with this close forehand.
But even when I was losing 4-1, 3-0 in the final tiebreak, I was happy. You know, I was saying, Just try to be there, because always can still a chance for me. But I was really happy because I was playing a great match. Even if I lose, I had a fantastic season. My image changed a lot from last year in this tournament, winning three matches, and playing a very good match in semifinals.
My thoughts was, If I lose against Andy playing like this, just congratulate him, go home very happy for everything, and practice for next year.
Q. The particular moment in the third set when you were Love-30 down, would you say it was a turning point in the match, more than what happened in the tiebreak? Also what was really going through your mind at that moment?
RAFAEL NADAL: What moment?
Q. Love-30 in the third set, 1-0. He had four straight games in a row.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, seriously I was a little bit tired in the second. So when I had a big chance in the beginning of the second, I saw him a little bit tired in the beginning of the second, and I had my chance with 15-40, no? But he played unbelievable second serve, and after very good cross backhand winner. Really I didn’t have the chance. I didn’t have a mistake in that moment.
So he played well. And when he break me, I said, Well, going to be very difficult to come back to this set. I didn’t have a break during all the match. So come back in this set going to be very difficult. I going to try to win my serve, but if is not happen, it’s okay because I needed to rest a little bit to start the third, no?
So in the beginning of the third, through my mind say, C’mon, start another time, because in the beginning was a little bit hard for me to start another time the movements, move the legs. Everything was little bit slower in the beginning of the third. So for that reason, I said in the last question, I was a little bit lucky he had a few mistakes. After that, I started to move another time, I started to play my tennis another time.
Q. How do you feel physically and how do you think you’ll be for tomorrow’s match?
RAFAEL NADAL: I repeat what I say always. I don’t know what going to happen tomorrow, how I going to feel. You can imagine, right now I am very tired. That’s the true.
Q. You repeat every day is it is the worst condition for you to play here. You are in the finals. How can you explain that?
RAFAEL NADAL: I play very well. I think I play better than ever in this surface. I am fresh mentally. Every day I play better and better. That’s the true. I am not saying anything wrong about that. I am not finding excuses, because I never find an excuse when I lose or something like this. I say the conditions are the more difficult conditions for me.
Q. In what ways? Surface too slow, too quick?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, the surface is not too slow, it’s not too quick, it’s okay. But here when you play indoor against the best players of the world, they are more specialists than me in these kind of surfaces. So I said before the tournament to somebody, I don’t know, but here you don’t have a big chance to defend if you are not playing very well, to play higher balls, to try to find solutions.
The only way here is play really well. Play well, play aggressive. You can play defensive for moments, but you have to come back to the attack. If you’re not playing really well, it’s impossible.
So for them maybe they play in these courts more times than me and is a little bit easier for the other players. If we saw the players, Federer is an indoor specialist, Djokovic, too, Andy, too, Soderling, Berdych, these players are specialists on this kind of surface, no?
So for that reason I say is the most difficult tournament for me to win – not only for the surface, for the opponents, too.
In general, I think if we know these both things, that makes the tournament really difficult for me. But I am lucky I played really well and I am in the final.
Q. Did you have to adapt anything in your game? Did you do anything different on this surface under these circumstances, like playing different balls, different tactics?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think I improved my game in general. For that reason, I am able to compete against these players this year, no? I think I improved a few parts of my game. Improved a lot the slice backhand. That’s give me another chance, another option to do when the point is long or I have to defend something, to change the rhythm.
My serve, is true, I served for moments well, for moments not that well. But in general my serve improved a lot since last year. And my position on court is closer to the baseline. What happen in this court for moments I lost the court. I went behind the court, and I didn’t have no one chance against Andy, no, because he was inside, he was repeating me against my backhand.
Every ball I was far away from the baseline, no? So is no chance. Only chance is try to be closer to the baseline. For that reason I am able to play well in this court now and to compete against the best players of the world because my position on court is more inside and I have more options to do.
Q. When you say you were feeling tired in the match, was it mentally or physically tired? What happens then? You lose a bit of concentration or do you feel a little bit slower?
RAFAEL NADAL: I start to feel a little bit the legs, little bit, harder little bit for a moment, stiff. So I am talking about that, not about mentally. Mentally, in general, I think I played a very good mental match.
Q. Andy said he really enjoys his matches against you. I wondered if you felt the same way.
RAFAEL NADAL: For me I say before, was a fantastic match. Is really nice to play against Andy, especially with his attitude, fighting all the time, trying to find solutions. He’s very talented player because he can do everything. His serve for moments was unstoppable. His defense was unbelievable, no? He’s very fast. He see the balls very quick, before than the rest of the players I think.
He can do everything. He can attack well. He can volley really well. His hands are very well. You have to all the time find solutions to play against him and to try to beat him, no? I think he’s a great champion.
For me play against him is a pleasure, play matches like this. Even I said before, even if I lost that match, I am going to come here and say I am very happy for everything because I think I played a very good match. When you arrive to this situation, anything can happen.
I won today. I am sorry for Andy, but I think he really must be happy about how he played this match because he had chances to win and he played I think in a very good level.