Thursday, July 31, 2008

No pressure, Rafa ...

... but all you have to do to be Numero Uno, in addition to being the best player so far this year, is win this tournament.
That's right. Roger Federer lost early again, this time to Ivo Karlovic. Fed saved two match points, but came up a bit short.
Considering Nadal's form (most recently, a 6-0, 6-1 beat down of Florent Serra) it's not a bad bet he'll take the top spot this week. Except ... he's pretty much been playing nonstop since Wimbledon. But if you fly through matches the way he does, who needs a break?
If he gets it, Nadal deserves it. It says a lot about a guy who's able to hold on to the number two spot for so long, especially when everything under him rotates like supermarket produce -- and the top guy has been immovable.
Back to Fed, if Nadal topples him, the end of this year will be unbearable for him. Already, the stupid questions are starting, such as the gem after his loss last week: "To some extent, do you agree with Justine Henin's decision to retire at the peak of her career?" (Sadly, this reporter probably came up with this question and thought it was genius. "No one will ask this one!" they probably snickered. Well, bully for you, supergenius.) Unfortunately, for all of us real tennis fans, this is only the beginning. By the end of the Open (unless he wins the thing), folks will be asking him why he's still playing tennis.
Having said all that, Roger's clearly not in the driver's seat as he once was. Is it because of coaching? (Noticed Jose Higueras back with the camp last week. What's that all about?) Or is the field catching up? Or, could it be, as a friend of mine suggests, that Fed's lost the fire to be number one week in and week out? I open the floor.


van said...

Hey Naf, what's up? If you look at the three that are really making the moves (Nadal, Djokovic and Murray), they're all about five years younger than Federer. They're young and hungry, and really don't have that much respect for him because they want to be in that top spot. I think Federer will be OK for a couple of years, but those kids haven't even hit their peak yet. So he's really going to have to work hard to stay near the top.

yogahz said...

I'm late to this posting - I'm on vacation!

I think that the current state of the men's tour shows how remarkable Fed's been these last few years. Look at the women right now with the #1 spot staying with a player for a few weeks before the next woman earns her laurels (Go Safina!!). It seems like the men may be headed for a similar situation.

I think Fed will earn #1 back but it will start to go back and forth among the top players.

PS My husband and I won a mixed tournament this weekend :)

Naf said...

Good point, Van. He is going to have to work hard, but is he willing to put that work in? Sometimes, it's hard for a player to maintain that intensity for an entire career. Losing No. 1 will probably go a long way towards motivating him for now, though.

Naf said...

Yogahz! My husband and I won a mixed doubles tournament this weekend, too! Weird! I'm going to blog about it soon. If you want, you can share your tournament experience, too. I think it'd be fun to get another perspective!
I have to admit, the women's tour is getting more interesting with the jockeying at the top, but as usual, all the top players aren't around to really stir the pot. How different -- and exciting -- would this be if Sharapova, the Williamses, even Henin, were active? I hope this injury bug passes soon.