Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Cincy, Toronto Roundup...

(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Well that was altogether too efficient dontcha think?

Djoko seemed sapped of the intensity that carried him to the final and Murray seemed sapped of that and just about everything else.

But the way in which
Federer seems to have upped his game in those last two matches in particular means he may have come out on top whatever the standard and form of the competition. Top four or top seventy four.

Equally revealing has been the way in which
Federer executed two related but otherwise different gameplans against the second and fourth best players in the world.

The Murray match was almost a distilled version of the US Open final last year, with
Federer's net rushes and unwillingness to get involved in those frustrate-the-hell-out-of-ya rallies Murray's used to such good effect over the years.

Djoko, I'd say he knew he could outplay him at his own game, and elected to play clinical, aggressive tennis from the baseline.

Both those performances also had an almost
unrelenting uber-aggressive snarkiness about them as he assumed what he presumably thinks of as his rightful position atop the ATP food chain.

You might go as far as to say that he's surpassed anything he produced both at
RG and at Wimbledon.

But that as they say, is the nature of the beast.

Slams are won with a quieter and more measured intensity nurtured and then sustained over the course of two weeks.

It's been the
shorter, sharp bouts of unremitting intensity that have been missing over the last year or so. Which unsurprisingly coincides rather well with his two year drought at the Masters level.


You might say that this last week has promised much and delivered little.

With a top four semi final line up at
Cincy, and Elena, Shaza and a seizure-inducing cameo from Serena at the same stage over in Toronto, I think it's fair to say that this hasn't been the US Open Preview it could have been.

Novak Djokovic

Fascinating. I thought he was almost back in there in the early parts of the second set. Too many half court balls and too many at the bottom of the net. After a very worthy semi final performance that promised us so much.

Shame. But also, unfortunately, fast becoming an all too
familiar story.

Andy Murray

Too much tennis. That's what I put his semi final blowout down to. That win in Montreal, though impressive, meant that Murray had played more tennis in the last two weeks than anyone else.

del Potro, now wisely it seems, elected to pass.

Bloodied in Battle

It wasn't just the fact that he put about as many first serves in as
I might have done. Or that he looked like he'd gone without sleep for a week. Or that he played with about as much flair as a heatproof mat.

His shots lacked bite and purpose, and let's just say I've seen actual slugs slithering down my garden path less sluggishly.

Don't think punching your strings will help though. Time for a good lie down.

Rafael Nadal

Can we really fault a semi final showing? After a quarter final showing the week before? I think not. There were unmistakable signs of rust, and I'm not at all surprised by the way in which
Novak overpowered him. But the signs are that he'll be in fine fettle in New York.

Just don't go expecting him to win it.

Elena Dementieva d. Sharapova 6-4, 6-3

OK so let's just forget that final. For half of it no one seemed to want to serve. In the other half Shaza's arm appeared to give way. Elena should have put her away sooner, instead managing to somehow prolong that second set.

(Photo: AP)

There's been a largish debate about whether this win increases her chances at the Open. I'm thinking not. The serve's not in the same place it was at Wimby. I'd say it's regressed.

And not even the fact that she's probably my second favourite player will sway me from that opinion.

But equally I'd say her situation is more hopeful than the Vikas, Wozs and Dinaras of this world. In fact I rather fancy her chances against Serena after Wimbledon.

Sharapova continues to impress. In every respect except that serve, which unfortunately still has some way to go. It made pretty painful viewing watching her flounder away that first set.

Will the serve ever be restored to it's former glory? Probably a safer bet to say no. But that shouldn't prevent her from turning it into something more functional. Those groundstrokes are still as scary as ever.

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

One other thing. Did anyone else pick up on her insisting that Joyce (her coach) shush up about her 'arm hurting' during the on court coaching session? They're presumably both aware that the entire conversation is broadcast. Except that Joyce didn't seem to think much wrong with it, making reference to the fact that the arm had been talked about before.

It just concerned me a little. The last thing she wants after what by anyone's standards is an electric comeback, is a flare up. And it was very evident in the second set, with the way in which she played almost every stroke like she was wielding a 200 lb racquet, that something was up.

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