Thursday, 8 January 2009

2Hander's Take: The 08-09 Season

Right, I have finally got my insane thoughts together on this...

Like I have said before, I cannot wait until this season starts properly (which for me IS the Aussie Open!). Allow me to start with the usual suspects:

Federer: I start with him because for me, he is still No.1! He has dominated the Tour for the past 5 or so years. He has the most complete game out of them all because he has shown that he is the best, or a fairly close 2nd best, on any surface. Now, hoping he doesn't have any illness/injuries, I think he will re-establish himself on the Tour (Slams & Masters events) once again. I also think he will regain the No.1 spot at some point, However, given the progress of Djokovic and now Murray, it looks likely to change hands fairly frequently over the next 3 years at least.

I am glad the playing field has been evened out now. But I can't help but feel that Fed's inconsistency and thence mental blocks against lower ranked players is still a thorn in his side. When he's on form, he's unstoppable, even against Nadal - end of. His relative decline as king must have been hard to deal with (maybe he's still dealing with it!), but once he gets past it, starts to enjoy his tennis (like at the US this year), I hope the genius will come back rejuvenated.

However, I reckon he needs to sort out two vital elements to his game:

1) He needs to start coming to net a lot more regularly as his exquisite volleying is what earned him his first Wimby title.

2) The forehand. What happened to the once 'best shot in tennis'?!? Sort it out,'s on you, you know what to do!!


His improvement over the past year is summed up in one word: scary! I am a fan of his as he plays with heart, yet with signs of raw talent...bordering on genius! I LOVE his inside out forehand (on ALL surfaces) which just skims over the net and is always spinning away from his opponent. Although his volleying improved no end at Wimby 08, he actually won the final without having to do any. I would like to see this side of his game come out more this year, for this would be key to him winning a hard court Slam.

On clay, I can't see anybody stopping him this year. On paper, he is most likely to do a calendar Slam - by sheer virtue of RG being 'in the bag'!!

He's not even a natural left-hander!!!!!

Plus it will take me a while to get used to the sleeves!! HAHA!


After winning the Aussie, he rather underachieved. The best match I saw him play last year had to be the Queen's final with Nadal. Recently though, his body language on court is almost like he has lost the will to live! I know that media spat he had with Roddick at the US must have had an effect on him but prior to that, he lost to Murray in Cincinnati, not to mention exiting Wimby at the 2nd round. Apart from the extremities, last year was not a good year for him - only to redeem himself in Shanghai, just in time maybe...?

Nonetheless, he's always a contender for any tournament he plays in and if certain things go his way, there is nothing stopping him from bagging a few this year.


Well, Andy Boy has come leaps and bounds this year, all in the latter half of the year, mind you. After an early Aussie Open exit and not much of a show at RG, he had an OK Wimby til he met Nadal and was totally outclassed. Then came the North American hard court season where he had a storming run with a title win at Cincinnati, semi-finalist at Toronto and finally runner-up at Flushing Meadow.

It would be good to see him develop his clay court game as he has the qualities of a good dirtballer. He can grind out rallies (he wore out Nadal for pity's sake!! OK it wasn't on clay...) and then out of nowhere hit a deadly winner down the line! Against Nadal in Abu Dhabi, he finished quite a few points at the net. He's beaten Fed quite a few times this year, plus his record against him is rather enviable.

Many greats of the game think that Murray's time to win a Slam has now come, we'll just have to wait and see...

And apparently he's not a natural righty!!!

The rest:

I would have to start with Tsonga as he started last year with a bang, but faded away afterwards largely due to injury. His level of talent is still undiscovered (by him as well?!). He's got a big serve, he's got a strong forehand and backhand and he can volley!!!

Some may say I am being hard on Davydenko but for me, he is no more than a semi-finalist - particularly at a Slam! He's got sound and consistent groundstrokes, OK volleying now and again and an alright serve. I can't see him winning a Slam, maybe a Masters event or two...

There still may be another Slam left in Roddick, but I honestly can't see it coming this year. By virtue of the rest of the field being so much stronger, he may reach the odd semi and win the odd Masters event.

Also, I do like Blake as well. He looks like a b-ball player, be he bald-headed, dreadlocked or 'froed out! Mind you, Jason Kidd is his best friend. Right, as for his tennis, he has shown that on his day, he can beat the best. I can't help but feel that he has a lack of self-confidence at times. Still, he is a great sportsman and I hope that he doesn't get mentally scarred by his experience of lack of sportsmanship at the Olympics - HAHA!

Speaking of which, I am also a great fan of the Gonzalez forehand. I can see the odd Slam semi from him this year, maybe even an outside odds final - but doubtful. Still, that's a SICK forehand!!

Gulbis is my new found star of the last year. Has great movement on court for one of his height. Not to mention good groundstrokes and a great serve. Once again, perhaps a Slam semi and a Masters final.

This year has shown that Safin can NEVER be discounted, depending on which one turns up!

I'll dedicate a paragraph to the other French boys. Unfortunately, I haven't seen much of Simon playing, although he has had some notable victories last year. It would be good to see him build on this. Gasquet has faded into the background quite considerably, I am tentative on his progress this year. Though it would be a great shame if he already peaked! I am a fan of Monfils ever since he won Junior Wimby. It was good seeing him skid around the red dirt of RG last year. He's got a wicked serve (don't you think his action is similar to A-Rod?), good groundstrokes and fairly good volleying. I hope he also fulfils his potential sooner rather than later.

WOW! That could be a scary Davis Cup line in years to come...

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