Monday, November 15, 2010

Of Paris Masters and WTF

by Savannah

I hope you all got a chance to see the semi final matches in Paris this past weekend. As you know I am not a fan of hard court tennis especially when it's played on super fast courts as Bercy was. Still Gael Monfils vs Roger Federer and Robin Soderling vs Michael Llodra were two of the best men's matches of the year. Both went three sets and both were edge of your seat exciting.
It was stunning to see Gael suck it up and play mature, focused tennis. He left the clowning at home and did not go away mentally when he dropped the second set. Roger Rasheed deserves to be praised for getting his pupil to this point. If this Gael shows up more now we're going to see him winning events instead of going out in the quarters. The match score was 7-6(7), 6-7(1), 7-6(4) for Monfils.

Michael Llodra, his wife and young son in the stands, showed that he is more than a doubles player. His match against Soderling was a war. He had an answer for everything that was being thrown at him faltering only in the home stretch. Still the match score was 6-7(0), 7-5, 7-6(6) for Soderling and that doesn't begin to convey the level of tennis both men played. In fact both matches showed that real tennis can be played on fast hard courts. Of course serving was key but there were some great points played by all four men. When the matches were over Patrick McEnroe tweeted that there should be more matches played on fast hard courts. I think PMac needs to slow his roll. I sat through an Andy Roddick match at the US Open - he was playing Fabrice Santoro - and bored to tears doesn't begin to describe what that match was like for me. There was no such boredom on Saturday.

It's a no brainer why PMac would take such a stance but remember these were four Europeans playing. Andy Roddick crashed and burned early in the event. Hard and grass court tennis can be enjoyable if the participants know how to construct points and engage in strategic play instead of the hit hard and harder play many Americans engage in.

It's unfortunate that Gael came into the Final flat while Soderling continued the level of play he exhibited on Saturday. Monfils was never in the Final but this time it was okay. Tennisheads now know what he can do and look forward to seeing more of it next year.

I didn't see any of the doubles play but still congratulations to the team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi on their victory.

The ATP World Team Finals

Yes I totally resisted the urge to use the abbreviation for World Team Finals. If they're brash enough to use those words they're brash enough to accept that people will call their year end tournament WTF. I'm just sayin'.

Anywho the field was set during the Paris Masters and will include the following players:

1 Rafael Nadal 11,450
2 Roger Federer 7,645
3 Novak Djokovic 5,635
4 Robin Soderling 5,380
5 Andy Murray 5,360
6 Tomas Berdych 3,755
7 David Ferrer 3,735
Qualifies for first time since 2007.
8 Andy Roddick 3,665
Qualifies for eighth straight year

With Andy Murray now ranked #5 the set up for the groups is going to be extremely interesting. The draw will take place on Wednesday November 17.


TennisAce said...

Even though my favourite did not win I have to say that I really enjoyed Bercy. Think this was the first time that I really enjoyed Bercy. I cannot for the life of me understand what is happening with Federer. 4th match this year where he has had match points and just played some WTF shots to lose matches. Ugh. Just continues to amaze me.

The difference between what you saw over the weekend in Bercy and the Roddick match that you referenced is that 2 of the 4 players forced the 4th player to play actual tennis. Federer and Llodra showed variety. Monfils was tired of losing to Federer and Soderling had to come up with something apart from the serve and hit hard that he usually does. That is what tennis should be about. Not coaching, not the constant war of attrition that slow hard courts and slow courts in general bring out which usually leads to injuries by players, but players using everything in their arsenal to outwit and outplay their opponents on the court.

One of the best matches that I have seen was the quarter final match between Serena and Azarenka at Wimbledon in 2008. In that match, think it was the first set, Azarenka is throwing everything and the kitchen sink at Serena and all Serena did was throw in one slice that had poor Azarenka so befuddled her next shot went straight into the net.

There are some players that bring out the best in others and then there are others who just make you play really ugly tennis. Clijsters makes players play really ugly tennis because her tennis is so ugly, but that is another story.

Savannah said...

As you know I'm a clay court fan but the Bercy semi finals are matches you want to use to introduce people to tennis.

And I agree about Clijsters ugly tennis and what happens when people play her. The only one who didn't fall under her spell in recent play is Nadia Petrova. She came out and said "I'm not having it" and ran Clijsters off the court.

TennisAce said...

Savannah, so true. As I wrote that Roddick sprang to my mind and I thought to myself, you know what has happened to Roddick? He has allowed too many people to get into his head and tell him what to do about his game. First they told him that he had to develop variety and now he has lost his forehand and his serve has become predictable.

As to Clijsters. OMG. Talk about ugly tennis. Just hitting the ball in a way that only club level players can hit it. I actually prefer watching Justine Henin play. At least with her you get tons of variety and the spin that she puts on the ball is a joy to watch. I do not like all the attendant hype of the commentators but I can really see how she makes commentators drool. You are right about Petrova who just really took it to her.

Did you see the article that Cronin wrote about the Williams Sisters. On the one hand he was correct that when both Sisters retire the WTA will be so much the poorer because there is actually no one that brings the amount of star power to the court that these 2 women do. I was surprised that he said that seeing as he thinks that Sharapova is the best thing that ever happened to women's tennis. Who knew?