ATP Tennis 360

August 24, 2009 11:56 AM

Four lessons we learn in Cincinnati

1-God bless Father Roger
The Swiss champion didn’t seem too much diverted by his one-month old twin daughters not to win his 16th Masters series title (in 25 finals), only one less than Andre Agassi, leader of this particular ranking. The surgical demolition of a slightly absentminded Murray and of Novak Djokovic are important signs of health, even more meaninngful with six days remaining from the last Grand Slam tournament of the season, where he could face his nemesis Rafa Nadal, before the final after four years.

2-Can Andy repeat last year final in Flushing Meadows?
Probably, yes. He’s deservedly number 2, the first different from Rafa and Roger to occupy one of the firt two ranking position after Lleyton Hewitt, and on hard courts he’s on his preferred habitat. But the lack of killer instinct he showed in the second set against Federer, when the benefits of his throwback tennis were cancelled by a series of errors in the key points, culminated in the final double fault, left a shadow of doubt. In Cincinnati he revealed his talent to the world years ago when, far from the top-10, defeated the Swiss in straight sets. Now his winning streak of five matches against the number 1 abruptly stopped. In his preferred Slam, where he 12 months ago he conquered the first final in a major, he will have to handle to increasing expectations, as at Wimbledon. And everyone knows how it ended there.

3-Suspended judgement about Rafa
A Masters Series semifinal after months of forced inactivity would be a bright result for anyone else but not for Rafa Nadal. The Mallorcan left a disappointing impression in the first set against Novak Djokovic and only his proverbial pride and fighting istinct sustained him in the second avoiding a more outstanding exit. He’s not on his surface, that’s true, but the lack of dinamicity, the decreasing efficacity of his most dangerous weapon could oblige him to almost superhuman efforts to defend the points conquered with the semifinal reached last year.

4-Novak bites the dust...again
The limbic season of the Serb seem not to have an end. He’s quite good, plays quite well, but this isn’t enough for the player considered an year ago the most dangerous rival for Roger and Rafa. But the racquet change (definitely a mistake), and a crack in self-confidence, exacerbated after the dramatic semifinal in Montecarlo against the Mallorcan, made his game become excessively passive and defensive. His bright display of strokes against Nadal was a swan song before a one-sided final. An year ago, in Cincinnati, he surrendered to Murray. This time against Roger Federer. But his attitude was the same, and the absence of tactical and technical relevant progress are convincing many that his Australian triumph and the Us Open final reached 2 years ago will remain the brightest stars in a left undone career.

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