Friday, August 1, 2008

A Changing Of The Tennis Guards

As I write this post, Rafael Nadal is serving for the match at the Cincinnati Masters against Nicolas Lapennti. Why does this Friday evening clash deserve special mention? If Nadal closes things out, he will be the new number one player in the world, ending Roger Federer's 4.5 year reign.
We could see this coming after Wimbledon, but the last few weeks have shown serious chinks in Federer's armor, losing his first round match in Toronto and his second match in Cincy. Rafa meanwhile carried his Wimbledon...

I pause because Rafa is now the number one ranked tennis player in the world. Good for him!

...momentum and won the Toronto tourney and is now rolling towards the finals of Cincy.
There can be no debate on whether Rafa deserves to be number one in the world; last year he began closing the gap, this year he has flown into the limelight with his incredible wins at the French Open and Wimbledon. He is clearly playing incredible tennis and it will be great fun to see how long his time on top will last.
For Federer, there is obviously much mental turmoil going on. No doubt the Wimbledon defeat is still on his mind and now after losing matches to Gilles Simon and Ivo Karlovic, it will be a massive challenge for him to regain his top form. He absolutely has the game to do it, but as I've preached here from the beginning, tennis is mostly played above the shoulders. Right now, Roger's head is clearly fogged up with negativity and self-doubt.

On the women's side, there is just ridiculous turbulence as no one seems to want to take the number one mantle. Yesterday it was Jelena Jankovic losing a match that would have given her the top spot. Today, Ana Ivanovic gakked away her shot.
Worse yet, Maria Sharapova announced that her ever-balky right shoulder will keep her out of both the Olympics and the US Open. There is no bigger draw or brighter star on the women's side, especially in New York, and this is a huge loss.
This year continues to gather momentum as one of the most fascinating in tennis memory; we've got an ascendant number one, a legend on the ropes, and a women's game where no one seems to want to take charge. If there has ever been a tennis summer with more riding on it, I'm not aware.
Oh yeah, my tourney is 3 weeks away and I'm trying to get ready. Played really well on Monday evening, have been working really hard the last few days and the rackets have stayed in the closet. Next week should feature much training, and I'm looking forward to it.

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