Let’s start with the obvious:
Scary good and
Relentless against Stosur
Everyone else (including Justine) has
No chance to win the
Experiment with his plan
Realized that the match was an
Recreation for Roger
Disagree? Consider this an acrostic smack down.
Roger Federer probably won’t have as much fun against Nikolay Davydenko in the quarterfinals. Kolya’s beaten Roger the past two times they’ve played – including a 6-4, 6-4 beatdown this month in Doha – but he’s wisely downplaying his chances:
Q. If you play against Federer, who will be the favorite of the match?
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: I hope Federer.
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Maybe because he beat Hewitt today, and like say he won already a few times Australian Open. He’s No. 1. I’m No. 6. Why I need to be favorite if I’m not No. 1?
Davydenko struggled against Fernando Verdasco in a sloppy five set match on Monday. Fernando helped Kolya out by hitting 20 double faults – and Brad Gilbert was calling Davydenko the Dementieva of the mens’ tour? Anyway, it wasn’t only the Stosur-hungry Aussies who were thrilled when Kolya finally pulled the plug on his opponent: 6-2, 7-5, 4-6, 6-7, 6-3.
Davydenko may be mild-mannered when it comes to Federer, but he got a little cocky talking about his win over Verdasco:
Q. He (Verdasco) has a reputation of being one of the strongest and fittest players on tour. How much inspiration can you draw from winning in the fifth set?
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: He’s strong physically, but not mentally. For sure he was strong. For sure he can play five, six, sets. But concentration you can’t holding, you know, all five sets the same. That’s was I know he have power in the fifth set, but he can make mistake.
That’s what he did in him serve like after I break him 3‑2. I have few good return, and then couple baseline good rally and I won. You know, just return. That’s was also surprising me. Always, I know ‑‑ and if you see was today, I know Verdasco well. Always if I go until 4 or 5‑All and then I have chance to break him and then winning like every end of set. Today it’s was surprising I didn’t make it in the third and fourth set.
Verdasco says he’s not that impressed with the new, scary Davydenko:
VERDASCO: I think that Federer and Nadal in five sets are better than the rest. That’s why they always normally win all the Grand Slams. Davydenko, Murray and the guys just behind them, I think they’re not that level. Maybe they can beat them, but it’s tough, no? They had more experience, no, in tough matches. Nadal, for example, in finals in Wimbledon, Roland Garros, many times. It’s tough.
(Or maybe ‘Nando took Roger’s “Rafa and I know best” memo too seriously.)
Speaking of Roger, Billie Jean King had quite a lot to say about him in her Team Tennis press conference:
Q. Federer doesn’t have a coach. He doesn’t look at the box. Almost every player looks at the box. What does that tell you about him?
BILLIE JEAN KING: Personally, that’s the way we were. We didn’t have any money, so we couldn’t afford coaches. If we looked at the box, it was another player or friend or someone. We didn’t have a coach, okay? So it’s funny, because to me Roger is a throwback to the old days playing modern tennis.
He plays the modern game, but he plays like an old player, how he develops the point. He can hit a slice. He can come over his backhand. He’s got a one‑handed backhand, like most of us did, except for Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert. He knows what he’s supposed to do. He understands the sport. He watches video 24/7. The guys loves tennis. He’s passionate about it.
If you read the book I read about his childhood, you know, he left at 14 to go be the best. They ask every boy at this academy in Switzerland how good do you want to be. Every boy said the top 100 on the ATP Tour. He said, I want to be the top 100, then I want to be No. 20 by this age, then I want to be No. 10, then I want to be No. 1. So he was the only one. So he had a vision for himself.
He understands the game. When he gets a coach, I’m not sure this is what happened, but it looks like it from the outside, it looks as if he gets a coach, he learns everything from that coach, then he needs to move on. I think coaches should never take it personally when a player’s had enough. You just don’t take any of that personally. He absorbs information. He’s very observant, I think.
These are all guesses. I mean, I don’t know. Don’t you think? I always look at him and think, I wonder. But he enjoys hitting the ball. I mean, he loves it. He’s got the passion to play. And I hear through different sources that he works extremely hard physically. The way he plays, he looks effortless, but he really trains really hard. So he’s earned it. You know, you just don’t become No. 1 without paying a price, and he’s paid the price.
Piling it on: an ESPN piece on Roger Federer’s motivation. ***Cheesy line alert!***
In non-Federer news:
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Nicolas Almagro in a thumper of a five-set match – incredibly, the first five-setter the Frenchman has ever played. It was one of those “shame there has to be a loser” matches, so it’s fitting that the real winner is Novak Djokovic, who will meet Tsonga in the quarters after an easy, breezy 6-1, 6-2, 7-5 win over World No. 86 Lukasz Kubot.
(Youngsters take note: If you play tennis with a one handed backhand, you can break your other wrist and still make it to the Australian Open Round of 16.)
Venus Williams scraped past Francesca Schiavone in three. She’ll face Li Na next. Li upset Caroline Wozniacki in straights. Azarenka and Zvonareva are just starting on Rod Laver arena as of post time.
Before I go to bed, I’ll leave you with some Russian dreamin’:
Q. Have you allowed yourself to dream that it (an AO title) might be this time?
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Dream? No, no. No, I never dream. Maybe in the night, but not in the day.
And birthday girl Maria Kirilenko, who celebrated her 23rd birthday on Monday:
Q. I believe it’s your birthday in an hour.
MARIA KIRILENKO: That’s true.
Q. What are you going to do?
MARIA KIRILENKO: I mean, I don’t know. When I was a kid, I had a dream, you know, to be in a Grand Slam main draw in Australia when I have a birthday. I think my dream comes true.
Kirilenko plays Zheng Jie next.