Robin Soderling


federer_nadal_indian_wells_sferturi_finalaThe 2 fair haired boys (above) are back at each other in Indian Wells.

BNP PARIBAS @ Indian Wells — Men’s Quarter-final (Approx. 10 PM EST)

Roger Federer:  – 140

Rafael Nadal:  + 110

…….
The h2h is still grizzly (Nadal, 18-10), which won’t be helped by Nadal’s precarious nature, because we don’t really see him making it too deep at the events where Federer can make headway in the h2h.  Just like when Roger was king, and he’d lose to Nadal at 2 Masters Finals and the RG Final every year–his reward for constantly going so deep–while Nadal hid from Roger at the events where Roger has a surface edge, like Cincinnati (where they’ve never met), the USO (where they’ve never met), and indoors (where they’ve only met 4 times and only at the YEC).

Tonight’s match, should Nadal keep his appointments, will be the 1st in the matchup since Key Biscayne in 2004 when the players have met before the semi-finals, and only the 2nd time ever.  Frankly, after watching Nadal handle Federer in Melbourne last year on Plexcushion (a 2nd terrible defeat against Nadal at Oz), we were shocked to see Federer have such an easy time with Nadal, when he beat Nadal 6-3, 6-4 here at Indian Wells.  Especially surprising also considering that in 2011 on a similar court with similar if not the same weather conditions–cool and windy–Nadal gave Federer what was probably the worst hard court loss he has ever suffered (6-3, 6-2 with a 62-39 edge on points).

But really, that was Rafa at his all time best, not too far removed from completing the career slam, and this is not.  Obviously Nadal is not himself, and any time when that’s the case, we’d favor Federer in the matchup.  Though Federer didn’t look all that hot himself in fending off Stan the Man last night.  Federer said that he and Nadal both “have issues” at the presser today.  Federer seems to have a lingering back issue that a lot of guys are speculating about.  We heard some good conjecture from we think Mark Knowles, who claimed that Roger is hampered, from what he can tell, on overheads and stretches.  But like the great Johnny Mac likes to say, the Fed back is an injury that hurts way more when he is losing.  We recall the whispers about Fed’s back within 48 hrs of the great man laying absolute waste to Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray at Wimbledon, 2012.  Federer, a picture of health usually, has shown a tremendous ability to shake off back problems, which while they do nag, they have not proven degenerative.  And then you kind of say ‘well Roger doesn’t seem too bothered’ when he goes out and plays well, because unlike some, Roger has not spent his career whining about injuries.  Then Roger will lose to a Berdy or Soderling or Tsonga and suggest that he wouldn’t have lost if the back were not a factor.

For us, we see it as pride before the fall.  We don’t think Roger played hungry tennis against Soderling (RG, 2010) or Tsonga at SW-19 in 012, and against power players like that, the great man hasn’t looked good.  Sure, eventually a guy like Berdych is going to win a night match on Ashe and eventually Federer is going to lose one.  But the power is a problem, and seems to be Roger’s worst one, especially when really taking apart the recent losses and all the trouble he’s had with guys like Berdych and Del Potro, who serve big and who can control the baseline.  We don’t see it as as great a problem on quicker surfaces, then again, we didn’t think Dubai was that slow.  We didn’t think London was that slow at the YEC or any of the back end spots where DP got him at the end of 2012.

So we don’t actually see Nadal as the great threat to Federer he’s always been, and we won’t either, until or unless Nadal finds a way to make his legs his biggest weapon again.  Especially on a clay like surface as bad as this one.  Until that day, Federer has a more comfortable matchup here, back willing.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Ms. Big Shot and The Master (above).

2012 US Open — Men’s Semi-finals

11:10 AM (CBS)

Tomas Berdych:  + 170

Andy Murray:  – 220

__ __ __ __

David Ferrer:  + 900

Novak Djokovic:  – 1500

__ __ __ __

2012 US Open — Ladies’ Final

7:10 PM (CBS)

Victoria Azarenka:  + 375

Serena Williams:  – 550

………..

All the matches on the slate are of course weather permitting, and right now, with steady rain in the city, it would appear that in the very least, that the start of play will need to be pushed back.  Not as far back perhaps if the USTA acceded to the very sensible suggestions this week, championed especially by Novak Djokovic, that the US Open should cover its courts during rain delays.  In fact, during an angry quarter-final day of waiting to get on, having spent some 10 hours in the players lounge, a frustrated Djokovic asked why no outdoor hardcourt event anywhere in America has the sense to cover courts during rain, saving what he said would be at least 30 minutes at every delay, as is done at Wimbledon.

Perhaps Master Djokovic has not considered the economic impact of allowing wet fans to find cover and comfort for as long as possible near uber expensive bars and concession stands.  We were at The Open during a long rain delay on day one, and we did not see the grounds crew particularly in any rush to get the courts dried once the rain had stopped.  By the way, he is Master Djokovic once again, especially on hardcourts, where he has now a 26 match win streak accumulated, and where, in our minds, he picks up his 2nd consecutive US Open title this weekend, and successfully defends his 2011 hard won crown.  And the win would cement The Djoker as the best player in tennis two years going, with 5 major titles, 8 semis, and 6 finals in the last 8 majors.

Djokovic often is drawn into matches by the pesky Ferrer, who notably beat Djokovic on a fast indoor surface at the YEC in 2011.  But aside from that, Djokovic has dominated this matchup on hards, and he comes in the fresher guy, having seen Ferrer pull out his QF versus Tipsarevic in a 5th set tie-breaker.  We like Djokovic to win fairly easily today.  It has seemed impossible to get a winner by him, and his defense to offense and transition game are both tops in the sport.  All the more impressive are his accomplishments at this Open when considered that he does not get many free points off his serve.  Djokovic is by far the best player in the world, shot to shot, and Ferrer can not dictate enough points and will not be able to take enough risks to keep him at bay.

In the first semi, we’d have to like Murray, despite his 2-4 lifetime mark with Berdy in the head to head.  Berdych had too much for Federer the other night.  It was an ominous development for Roger when Mardy Fish, forever a bastion of disappointment and weakness in our eyes, defaulted his round of 16 with Federer.  While Federer could overcome having a 4-5 day sabbatical in a fast court major during his mid to high prime (Haas, Wimbledon), he can not endure a disruption to his rhythm at this point in his career.  Are we blaming Fish for Fed’s loss?  No.  Federer got dictated to by Berdy’s huge forehand, and Federer always loses when he doesn’t dictate points.  But Federer uncharacteristically spraying forehands out by 25-40′?  Let’s face up to the fact that Federer came out flat and dull.

As far as Fish goes, who else is defaulting in the sweet 16 of the US Open?  Fish destroyed Monday’s schedule at The Open by defaulting that match, and we feel the default played some role in Federer’s outcome.  Fish is now obviously out of Davis Cup for next week, which is a good thing for the US probably because frankly, we feel both Querrey and Isner are bigger threats on clay, and less likely to implode, quit, or fade away than Fish.  So much was made of Fish’s new coach, the whole Mark Knowles dynamic, and really, that dynamic for us is just this: Knowles coddles Fish because Fish is just the sort of milquetoast in need of a super soft touch, showing over the years some of the least resolve we’ve seen on any pro, including Gael Monfils, and perhaps only excepting a Bernard Tomic for his nearly criminally poor effort here versus Roddick.

We don’t care how well Fish can hit a golf ball or a baseball.  We are sick of hearing it.  Tennis players play TENNIS.  Skipping the Olympics because you have bad memories from blowing a gold medal when up 2 sets to one on Nicolas Massu?  Even James Blake could potentially offer Fish some tips on grit and on the magnitude of showing up to and at majors and events of Olympic proportion.  Disgraceful.

Then on to the female Djokovic, our lady Azarenka.  On the women’s side, her shot to shot tennis is by far the best in the game.  She painted lines yesterday, used her feet, and out-willed Maria Sharapova, as we expected but no small feat on a surface where Sharapova won her a US Open by flat over powering another much much better player in Justine Henin (2006) once upon a time.  The Open is one of the few places where Sharapova can overpower Azarenka, but since Azarenka’s defense and D to O and transition games are so flawless, and her conditioning as well, she takes her rightful place in the final tonight.  Where she will probably fall to Serena’s power game, a bitter irony.

Serena at -550 is eerily similar to Serena’s line last year against Stosur, but Serena was just back from injury last year, and so Stosur pulled the unlikely upset.  Azarenka is a phenomenal player who is extremely mentally tough now, obliterating the knock on her psyche that persisted until she put Kim Clijsters out of her misery down under and went on to destroy Masha at Melbourne in taking the crown.  But the last time Azarenka played Serena, and most of those times in fact, it has been all Serena.  There will come a day when Serena hands the mantel over to Vica, but we doubt it’s today.  Still, Azarenka is a worthy champ who has had an incredible tournament.  Hitting a drop shot at 5 all in the tie-breaker versus Stosur to set up match point?  Brilliant and gutsy, and the perfect call, since Stosur had practically sequestered herself 5′ back of the doubles alley in the ad court, where she sets up camp to avoid hitting that ragged, weak 2-handed backhand of her’s.

We’d be least surprised to see an upset in the Murray match, though we think Murray’s defensive ability will negate Berdych’s power.  The Murrays, Djokers, and Nadals of the world do not have as much trouble with power and big serving as Roger does, who is almost certain to lose now when overpowered, as he has been at majors in the last few years by Berdych (twice), Tsonga, and Soderling.  While power often wins out on a fast hard, Murray obviously countered power very effectively in the Raonic and Cilic matches.

And Murray-Djokovic would be an excellent end to The Open for the men, as Azarenka-Serena will no doubt be for the women, provided that Azarenka can get her hooks into a couple of points here and there, and get to a neutral position somehow after receiving the huge Williams first serve.  Just a quick mention of USOPEN.org radio and how fantastic their coverage has been once again here, as it also was in Melbourne and at RG.  And we especially like Matt Cronin on that coverage, who provided us more new information about Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova in one set than we have gotten all week from ESPN.  Cronin’s account of the icy Sharapova-Azarenka was especially candid, humorous, and compelling.  It’s not too late to get two decent days out of that app, so download away.

Enjoy the tennis.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

The all-time greats, Borg, Sampras, Federer, and Rod Laver.

Well, if the master hadn’t handled the student today.  Roger Federer, seizing on a quick indoor Wimbledon center court, on which he made only ten unforced errors, played the perfect grass court tennis match pretty much, in dispatching Novak Djokovic, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.  Federer put his big serve to use, pounding second serves, where he also had a decided advantage. Federer won 72% of second serves, and that really got him out of almost all of his deep service games, in clutch fashion.  And when you think about clutch serving and Wimbledon, you have to think about Pete Sampras. Now Federer-Sampras comparisons are nothing new, but the twilight Federer-Sampras comparisons, we feel are very useful in demonstrating how, well, major they are.

The gameplan with Annacone all along was to get back to the top on grass, because that’s where serving and attacking take to the best.  Here they are.  And there Annacone once was with Pete Sampras, on the verge of a 7th Wimbledon title and what was then a record would be 13th major.  For Federer, it’s a Sampras tying 7th trophy, if he can get it, and 17th singles major.  That’s why we don’t see a lot of pressure on Murray in this spot, despite the fact that a British man has not won here in so long.  Since the Wimbledon champion is also commonly known as the champion of tennis, we think it fitting for Federer to be the 7 time champion of all tennis, pretty much the one record in major history that is most cherished and respected.  Murray doesn’t have the pressure on him that Federer does, though Murray is probably feeling it, and must relish a final without Djokovic or Nadal in play, to boot.

But here is where we think Federer has a good chance to come through.  Sampras had a few cracks at US Open trophies late in the game where he had gone out and played six great matches twice and then didn’t get it done in the finals, against Hewitt and Safin, younger guys.  We think in this older-younger matchup, Federer has a decided edge because of service.  Once again, a situation, as well, where Federer has not played one single match against Murray prior on grass.  Or clay, that we are at it.  For shame.  We would love an extension of grass court season, such as the one we will see this year with the Olympics being held next month in London, with perhaps a Masters on grass, at a state of the art place like Halle.  Because it’s better tennis.  We love our attack tennis, and that’s why we feel Federer is in a tremendous spot to handle Murray here and pick up the hardware.  Murray is not an attacker, and despite some big serving, we don’t see him as having the right makeup to attack Roger Federer on grass.  Djokovic is by far a better grass court player, and Federer handled him magnificently today, despite being outplayed at net by Djokovic, we might add.

I think we see the full fruition of the Federer-Anacone partnership right here.  Federer serving his way to major titles.  And it will be another similarity between Roger and Pete, that they came out and served well in big spots late in their career.  We’ve seen Federer capitalize on Murray’s inabilities to claim his most recent majors at Flushing and Melbourne.  In fact, we haven’t seen Federer pick up a major against anyone of Djokovic-Nadal calibre in quite a spell, recalling that the last four majors Roger claimed were against Murray, Soderling, Roddick, and Murray.

Roger must capitalize on this opportunity.  And ultimately, his durabilty, and his laterals are what gets him in this position, and of course, timely serving.  We have always slightly favored Pete because of what we perceive to be lack of clutch factor in Roger’s major finals, letting many nice opportunities go by the board, and unconscionably losing to Nadal in Melbourne on Plexicushion.  It’s why Roger needed an Annacone, and we see the influence on what Roger is doing, and we’ll see it on Sunday, we feel.  Annacone has essentially taken Roger’s two best shots, his serve out wide and his serve down the middle, and made them the staples of his gameplan.  Annacone, in his capacity as Captain of Great Britain’s Davis Cup team, worked intimately with Murray for a few years and no doubt has quite a book on the kid, who we feel is going to feel the enormity of the spot and the matchup/surface disadvanages.  At the heart for Murray, is a refusal to play attack tennis, an achilles heel for Murray throughout his career, which should certainly be exploited by Federer, best perhaps on these courts, where attack tennis should reign.

Federer only has to play the opponents who advance to play in the finals.  If he can do that, based on his overall excellence and longevity, he is going to have his chances sometimes against guys who might be tailored made for him at a given time.  Personally, we think it would take a lot for Federer to lose.  This is the opportunity that he lives for, and coming up with the goods against Murray has never been a problem, not at least at a major, where Murray has yet to break his cherry against Federer.  This is looking like vintage time warp Roger, circa 2007, and if he can find this level now, he may be able to find it a few more times before the lights go out.

If Federer wins Sunday, he would tie Sampras for 7 Wimbledon singles titles, and 12 US Open and Wimbledon titles, combined.  If Murray wins, he will become a first time major champion and the first Wimbledon winner from Britain since Fred Perry.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Tonight’s headliners, Milos Raonic (L.) and Roger Federer.

Up first at 8:30 PM EST, we’ve got a very good dog in Janko Tipsarevic facing David Nalbandian.  Here are the odds:

2012 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells — Round of 32

Janko Tipsarevic:  – 170

David Nalbandian:  + 135

…….

We very much believe that this line is a product of Nalbandian’s name recognition.  These guys have met just the once, in Melbourne, 2007, and Tipsarevic blew a 2-0 set lead and retired down 2-1 in the fifth.  That was five years ago, and a lot has changed for these two.  Tipsarevic has been strong, and sits at world #10, while Nalbandian is down around #74.  We feel that Nalbandian gets a lot of respect based on the past, but that he hasn’t done much to actually earn any in recent history.  We are going with the favorite here.  Nalbandian, though he plays close to the baseline, is a very old school grinder.  A grinder like him has to work very hard to win, and we haven’t seen him put a lot of work into any one match in several years.  This is a tale of two guys going in opposite directions, and in fact, we won’t be surprised if there is announcement forthcoming about Nalbandian, who loves the good life, horses, ladies, and fast cars.  We think he loves all that stuff at this point a lot more than he loves doing the work necessary to win.

Round of 16 — 9 PM EST

Nadia Petrova:  – 130

Maria Kirilenko:  even

…..

We just don’t feel Nadia Petrova is a good favorite.  The h2h is 4-3 for Petrova, and that’s been a slim margin, with the last two matches going to Petrova in 3 hotly contested sets.  Hate to be so un-PC (sarcasm), but we just kinda like the slimmer girl here on a slow as molasses hardcourt in a night session.  We also feel the Russian countrywoman rivalry can’t be overstated.  Kirilenko comes into this match as the higher ranked player for the first time in their 8 matchups.  Kirilenko seems to us to be the better player for a lot of reasons, and we are happy to see some nice odds by her name.  We also like her younger, hotter legs.

  Round of 16 — 9:30 PM EST

Marion Bartoli:  – 240

Lucie Safarova:  + 180

………

Bartoli leads the h2h 5-1.  We are going to stick with the same logic, or similar, to that used in our Petrova-Kirilenko analysis.  You should know by now that of all the players that play this game on the women’s side, Bartoli is one of our most hated, for the stupidest shot of them all, her signature two handed forehand.  While this surface does give her time to wield that ugly thing, she is the lesser conditioned athlete and Safarova has the younger legs.  Safarova makes a living by smacking players around who are favored.  We like her here.  In general, we like her variety, and she plays a lot of doubles, and has nice hands.  But what works best for her in this spot is her ability to scramble.  We are taking Safarova.

Round of 32 — 10:05 PM EST

Milos Raonic:  + 325

Roger Federer:  – 450

………..

I’d be shocked if Federer loses a set.  Really shocked.  Federer is playing magnificent tennis.  He has lost one tennis match since October.  He has been so dialed in on his service games.  We love Raonic, but we see the cracks.  The kid is about 20, or a young 21, and his lateral movement, while improved, is not Fed ready.  Last year at this time, we were very disappointed when Ryan Harrison, who scored a nice win over GG Lopez yesterday, upset Raonic and upended the Federer-Raonic sweet 16 matchup.  But the book on Raonic was thin then.  Now that the book is thicker, we can’t see him giving this year’s Federer, who seems, more alive than last year’s, any trouble.  In fact, we are predicting a bit of a Federer old school clinic.  Raonic served very comfortably the other day, and hit a lot of aces against awful Carlos Berlocq, as my mother could do.  Things will get very hairy for Roger come Nadal in the semis, but not tonight.  At least, we’d be very surprised if he is taxed by the kid.  There’s not a lot to be made off of a line so lopsided, but we have Roger advancing with ease.  Though we are very excited to see the first of hopefully many matches between the two, and acknowledge that Raonic is one of the very few players able to bring the big game to Roger, and that guys who have like Tsonga, Berdych, and Soderling, have had their moments.  BTW, a quick word on Harrison.  This kid had a terrible time winning matches after IW last season.  He really took his lumps.  We expect him to have a much better spring-summer this year, and to really climb up the rankings.  He’s a smart player, he’s an intense kid who wants to win, and we think he will take those lumps and turn them into positives.

Round of 16 — 11:30 PM EST

Ana Ivanovic:  + 140

Caroline Wozniacki:  – 180

………

Sofia Arvidsson played a great match against Wozniacki last night, and showed exactly how a veritable nobody can beat the Dutch Miss.  Arvidsson has played well this year, and surprised us with her win in Memphis.  She plays aggressive tennis, and she gave Wozniacki all she could handle, and frankly, a Wozniacki can’t really look in the mirror today and be proud of that style she plays, when she barely survives a player like Arvidsson, in approximately three hours, of which she was out played handily for the first two.  Wozniacki was warned for receiving in point coaching last night from her father, and you know what?  Her father should shut the fuck up because it didn’t help any, and we have to question whether anything he does helps any.  Wozniacki, we’ll say again, doesn’t think the game, and that is something that a coach, a real coach, would teach her.  How many more back foot forehands are we gonna have to bear, also?

In assessing her game, Lindsay Davenport, the anti-Wozniacki, said that she could be more aggressive off her backhand wing, that she has the ability to dictate with the backhand, but that her forehand basically needs a complete overhaul.  We concur.  And if you checked the stats last night after set one, Wozniacki had 4 forehand winners and lost her serve 3 times.  And she could not get her second serve out of the mid 70’s.  But we shall see.  If Wozniacki goes out early here, and fails to defend all these points from winning here last year, she is going to wake up 7th in the world next week.

She won’t need a fancy Rolex watch to know what time it is.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

America’s de facto singles A player, John Isner (above), newly outfitted by Lacoste (way to play it, big man!)

Giant John Isner was the bigger man today, stunning Roger Federer 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the second rubber of the 2012 Davis Cup’s World Group 1st round.  The win by Isner gave America a 2-0 lead in the tie.  Earlier this afternoon, Mardy Fish finally came up big for America, coming from two sets to one down to defeat Stanislas Wawrinka in 5 sets, 9-7 in the 95 minute 5th set.  While Fish-Wawrinka was laborious at best, Federer-Isner was downright jaunty in comparison.  Isner was able to take care of business in under 3 hours and notched his first victory over Federer ever.  The win was actually Isner’s first ever against any of the top four, previously 0-2 versus Federer, still 0-7 combined against Djokovic, Murray, and Nadal.

As Roger might be telling the media back in Switzerland right now, the record doesn’t tell the whole tale.  American tennis fans have had to take notice of Isner’s impressive display against Nadal on Spanish clay in 2010 in DC, which was as far as Nadal was pushed on the surface since the Sunday Bloody Sunday 4th round massacre he suffered at the hands of ball crusher Robin Soderling at RG in 2009, still Nadal’s only loss at the French Open.  And what about Isner’s performance against Nadal at the French last year, where he became the 1st man to take Nadal to 5 sets, and led in sets 2 to 1 before the Spanish comeback?

Isner is capable of some pretty big tennis, even on clay against the very height of the competition.  Aside from Djokovic, the only man able to beat Nadal at his own game on clay, the strategy seems to be to go right at Nadal, as Soderling and Isner do.  It’s not as though the big man is looking to trade shots on clay.  He is looking for knockouts, and looping spin often lands right in his strike zone.  Despite Federer landing some punches today on the red clay at Fribourg, he played tentative tennis.  Federer put 50 of 51 second serves in play, but did little with the ball on second serve in his middle game, creating enough opportunities for Isner to manage three breaks of serve, which proved to be more than enough.

Isner must be credited for playing so aggressively on clay today, and as habit.  On points the match was incredibly close, 126-120.  Probably not much of a coincidence that Isner took 14 points at net to Federer’s 8.  Isner has shown a penchant for knowing what it takes to have a chance against much quicker guys on clay, given his size and comparative lack of mobility.  Isner saved 11 0f 12 break points against, made 34 service winners, and out-winnered Roger on the forehand (28-22) and backhand (9-6) wings.  Let’s face it.  If you have more forehand winners than Roger, you are well on the way to having him beat.  Also impressive was Isner’s 7 first ball return winners, and that he won the total winner count decisively (85-66).

Back to the speed of the match for a moment.  While we appreciate that both men like to play fast, from the middle of the second set out, the match had a very Wimbledon/Tsonga like feel, obviously a problem for Roger.  Federer does not do enough to change the momentum sometimes in downhill contests, as this one was.  He seemed content to let this match sail by.  Big servers have stuck it to Roger in big spots over the last 3 years, and when these guys (Soderling, Tsonga, Berdych) get on their rolls, the match seems a fait accompli.

While Roger has to do more in the return game, go for more, mix it up more, stall more, take a timeout directly prior to an opponent’s serve game, take a stroll along the back fence or whatever, we are more concerned with praising those due right now.  John Isner played a phenomenal match, played the whole of it on his toes, and deserved very much to walk away the victor.  We have been touting Isner as America’s best big match player for some time now.  This guy is incredibly calm at all times, plays opportunistic tennis, and maximizes his chances.

We’d also like to offer a scant word of praise for our buddy Mardy Fish, who finally came up with important tennis in the spot, with a very impressive come from behind win.  Fish also played the bigger tennis today, and notably managed 34 forehand winners on a slow red court where his forehand tends to be rather anemic on most days.  Normally at this point in the tie, the Bryan sledgehammer would drop, and the tie would be virtually locked up.  But Bob Bryan and his swinging lefty serve will not participate in the tie because his wife has recently given birth.  Captain Courier, who has coached a hell of a tie so far, has made the curious decision as to partner Ryan Harrison with Mike Bryan tomorrow against Federer and Wawrinka, who make for a rather striking doubles team, and one who has had past success.

In our minds, both Fish and Isner are proven commodities in the doubles, and Harrison is a bit of a risk.  We hate to coach Courier’s squad for him, but it might be a wiser call to let Isner pair with Mike Bryan, especially since Isner was able to get off the court in reasonable time today.  Ryan Harrison has never played in a meaningful Davis Cup match, and so we’d be a lot more comfortable with a proven serve and volley doubles guy in this spot tomorrow with a place in the next round on the line.

Though America leads 2-0 and we could not be happier, Davis Cup often turns on or is decided by the doubles, and our ace pair, the 19-3 DC lifetime Bryans, will not be competing whole.  Should the Swiss pair win tomorrow, we can easily see Federer topping Fish in the 4th rubber on Sunday.  In that case, the tie would be decided by Wawrinka-Isner.  In that head to head, Isner leads 2-1 and has won their only matchup on clay (Belgrade, 2010).

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

2011 US Open Mens Quarter-final — 7:45 PM EST

 _________________________________________________________

Roger Federer:  – 275

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga:  + 200

…….

We like Roger a lot in the spot.  He looked tremendous versus Monaco.  It was an old school Federer hardcourt clinic.  Probably the best he’s played on hards since Roger dispatched Soderling in the QFs last year, in a very similar situation.  Also, Roger has yet to lose a night match at Flushing.  Ever.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.tumblr.com)

Mardy Fish’s lovely wife Stacey Gardner (above), who we’d be surprised to see in such good spirits tomorrow on court 1 when her husband takes on Rafael Nadal.

The big 4 on the men’s side have found their way to the quarter-final round for the 2nd straight major, and we’d be pretty surprised if they don’t all press ahead, making it two straight major semi-finals in which Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, and Murray participated.  Let’s review the latest lines from Caesar’s Palace:

2011 The Championships at Wimbledon Mens Quarter-finals

___________________________________________________________

Rafael Nadal:  – 600

Mardy Fish:  + 350

____________________________

Andy Murray:  – 1200

Feliciano Lopez:  + 600

______________________________

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga:  + 350

Roger Federer:  – 600

_________________________________

Bernard Tomic:  + 550

Novak Djokovic:  – 1000

……………

In what is fortuitous scheduling for 6 time champion Roger Federer, the great man takes on 12th seed Jo-Wilfred Tsonga up first on centre court.  Should we consider Federer will win, in what could be a tough match–probably the most “even” of tomorrow’s quarter-final matches–then we are counting the few hours of extra rest he will get over probable finals counterpart, Rafael Nadal, who is up second on court one versus American Mardy Fish.  So we are jumping ahead.  Should we not?  Maybe we’ll be sorry tomorrow, but we think not.  Federer is 4-1 lifetime versus Tsonga, and in his only loss, if truth be told, Fed seemed a tad disinterested after getting out 5-1 in the final set in 2009 in the quarters at Montreal.

Federer did not take a lesson from the experience, eventually playing a very disinterested US Open final against Del Potro, which he would lose after leading 2 sets to one–the only time Federer has ever lost a major final after winning 2 out of the first 3 sets.  Perhaps Federer had that in mind when he next met Tsonga, in an Australian semi which was an absolute clinic, 2,3, and 2.  Or perhaps, Tsonga’s balky knee and back were the reason he provided Roger so little competition, as were the rumblings fro Melbourne.  The fact is, Federer has taken 10 of 12 sets from Tsonga lifetime, and holds serve with tremendous ease against the Frenchman, a fact that bodes poorly for Tsonga on grass.

But how do we skip Roger through to the final though, when Djokovic still will stand in his way?  Well, we don’t think the Djoker has the swing of things yet on grass.  There are 2 supreme grass courters right now, and they are Federer and Nadal.  Federer has been playing the big game of late, moving in with ease, making multiple volleys on one point, drop shots, is ripping the backhand, and his forehand is moving quickly through the court.  Djokovic did not have a grass court warmup, and he isn’t quite in a league with the guys who can skip such a usual necessity.  We think it comes down to Federer getting a lot more looks on Djokovic’s serve than vice versa, but we’ll hold off from giving more on that until that matchup becomes a reality.

Speaking of the big game, was that Nadal playing it against Del Potro, for perhaps the first time in his life?  Indeed it was.  If Nadal plays like that the rest of the way, he’s a virtual lock to repeat.  If he plays like he did against Muller (who does have a win versus Rafa at Wimbledon in the books), then we see Federer getting his name on the chalice for a 7th time.  Nadal hit some 60+ winners, was only broken once, hit 13 aces, and played excellent tennis up at net in the round of 16.  So he went off for a little MRI.  Of course it showed no damage.  Are we suggesting Nadal is faking?  Let’s just say he’s quick on the trigger finger when it comes to trainers, and the crass mention of injuries as excuses, before and after he wins and definitely, when he loses.

We’ve seen this script played out before.  Mardy Fish may be 10 pounds lighter than the last time they tangled, but he is still zero for his lifetime against Nadal, and with good reason.  Fish can not hang with Nadal on the baseline and it’s a baseline game.  When he rushes the net, Nadal usually has the goods to pass Fish.  And don’t bring up Mardy’s aces versus Berdych.  So he struck 25.  Against Berdych.  Nadal is so far better of a returner than Berdy that Fish could turn around and go relatively aceless against Rafa.  You know we are notorious for going underdog, and for going against Nadal, but we think Fish is a terrible bet in this spot.  Has he ever really played well in a big match?  And in going back over the series, sure there have been some close sets, but Nadal has won 12 out of 13 of them.

Murray/Lopez has been all Murray in the past, and we expect it to continue.  Lopez can hurt Murray with his serve and the big lefty forehand, but the patient Murray always rides out Lopez’s hot streaks against him until they flame out.  We like Murray in 4, and in 4 matchups so far, Murray is yet to lose.  Let’s be frank.  While Lopez’s best surface is grass, he is a good cut and a half below Murray.  The only way we see this working for Lopez, or Fish for that matter, is if the ankles and/or knees/feet of their opponents fail.  And even then, we don’t see it.  Sure Murray goes out to centre court with a lot of pressure on him, but this isn’t Andy Roddick circa 09 that he’s facing.  Roddick has the ability to play enormously safe tennis, and usually does.  He lulled Murray into a sense of security in that match, and then stormed the palace gates.  Lopez is not the disciplined champion that Roddick is by any stretch, though he is the only man in the field left besides Roger with a win over Nadal on grass.

But tennis is all matchups, and Lopez matches better with Nadal than Murray, like Fish matches way better with Djokovic than Nadal, and has played him to many a nailbiter.  In tomorrow’s matchups, we are heavy with the favorites.  Bringing us to the intriguing Tomic/Djokovic matchup.  On paper, it’s all Djokovic.  Gun to our heads though, we might like the young Aussie.  He’s got a grass court pedigree, and in beating Soderling, we take from that his obvious capabilities.  Murray is a guy who practices on these lawns more than any other guy, because of Davis Cup.  We don’t necessarily feel the magic here with regard to Djokovic, who in our mind, has a lot to prove still on grass.

Are we going with Tomic tomorrow?  No.  Djokovic has lost all of 1 match this year, recall.  But we might like him as much or better than any of the other dogs, considering he’s playing a dog who has rolled over and quit in big spots in majors before.  And Tomic doesn’t have a lazy bone in his body.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

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