Sunday, 23 August 2009

2Hander's Take: Cincy Semis

I know, it's another of my rare cameo appearances but I thought I'd take some of the load off Top.

Federer def Murray 6-2 7-6(10)

Well, going into the match the Scot was 6-2 ahead in the head-to-head matchup and there was an element of 'exorcising the demon' as Murray had won the last three matchups between the two. The first set was a mixture of Federer being on form, particularly the forehand and Murray getting off the blocks late. Federer broke him twice and was hitting brilliantly off both wings, but the forehand was connecting like the good ole days.

The second set was more of a matchup, there were no breaks of serve. In fact, Murray didn't have a single breakpoint in the entire match. It went to a tiebreak which saw Federer surge ahead initially, then Murray caught up and then it was ding dong til the end. Without wishing to tempt fate, but one does wonder if this match would have gone down the same line as previous encounters Fed would win the first set, lose the second in a hotly contested battle, then fade away in the third. He is coming up to a Slam with best of 5-set matches...mind you, he has played and won more Slams than I've had hot dinners, so I'll leave it in his more than capable hands.

Another way of looking at it is that he is getting better at closing out matches...

Djokovic def Nadal 6-1 6-4

This match was no different to previous matchup between these two over the past 18 months. The scoreline no way refects what actually happened in the match. It was another hotly contested, intense encounter at the start of which I thought Nadal would prevail. However, I soon realised that either Nole was playing a blinder, Rafa was out of sorts or a bit of both. You see, usually what has tended to happen was that they would be playing neck-and-neck with Nole just lacing each and every ball. Rafa would be playing around 90% with a little extra in reserve if need be. Rafa would usually take the first set either from a breaker or a cheeky break towards the end. Nole would then lose the will to live in the second and hence lose the match.

Not to be this time. He got broken twice in the first set and all through the match, most of Rafa's service games would give Nole a breakpoint at the very least. Which suggests his serve is quite a weakness. Mind you, if you have Nole trying to pound each and every ball, something is bound to give. Now, I am never one to give up on Nadal, he has shown in the past that he can come back from a set or two down - it is never over until it's over! That said, Nole was probably just as cautious as I was if not moreso - judging by the sheer relief on his face when he finally won the match.

Tell you one thing, if Nole could volley like Haas or Federer, he'd have probably won with the same scoreline but also with a lot more ease. I'll say it for the umpteenth time, the best way to beat Nadal is from the n-e-t...and I don't mean one's computer either!! However, he did the job quite well from a selection of sick groundstrokes from both wings.

As for the final, I think that Djokovic can actually cope better with high, loopy balls, even if they are deep. Federer's shots tend to be flatter, as do Murray's. Though Fed's shots can tend to kick away from his opponent quite early, especially on the forehand. In light of this, I would pick Federer in two quite close sets at the very least.

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