Friday, June 08, 2007

Men's semifinal preview: Guess who's coming to the finals?

All right, it's late, and I just had to watch Ilie Nastase moon a crowd (sometimes, TV people, replay is not that necessary), so let's get this preview done before I get ill again.
Roger Federer v. Nikolay Davydenko: You gotta admire Davydenko. The man's a freaking workhorse. If he could, he'd probably play a couple events a week. And he's looked good throughout this tournament. He grinded out wins against David Nalbandian and red-hot Guillermo Canas, only to be rewarded with this semifinal assignment. Could've been worse. Could've been Nadal.
There's almost a sliver of hope for Davydenko here. Clay is Federer's least-impressive surface, but he's playing awfully nicely on it this year. Fed's only hiccup was the boredom that ensued him during his quarterfinal against Tommy Robredo, and caused him to drop a set. But the fact that Federer is 8-0 against Davydenko sort of takes the suspense out of this one. (Did you know you can type "Federer" with two fingers?)
Rafael Nadal v. Novak Djokovic: Novak Djokovic is a fine player, no doubt, but that is an interesting hairdo. It's like a helmet made of cacti. Just an observation.
I recently read on a tennis forum that Nadal is merely a ball-basher, and I couldn't disagree with that more. The implication is that he's not thinking out there. I would argue that it takes a certain amount of thought, and even strategy, to understand that if you can hit with a lot of topspin, you can keep your opponent on defense for virtually an entire match. Speaking of defense, Nadal really displays his defensive skills on clay, running down every ball, and giving the opponent just enough rope to hang himself. In his quarterfinal showing, Nadal certainly didn't look thrilled beating his friend Carlos Moya, but he dominated him, and he'll do the same thing to Djokovic. Djokovic is, again, a fine and smart player, and one who's beaten Nadal before, but on this surface, it'll be hard for him to make a dent. Djokovic has also exhibited an ability to get really careless in patches. When he can maintain that focus, it'll be one of the last pieces of the puzzle that's missing for him.

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