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September 22 • 12:59
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Joker Bails Out ($1.6M richer); Murray out; Isner beats Ferrer; Fed to semis

November 12, 2011
Turns out one 3 set match was all it took again this week to aggravate Joker's shoulder. This time, after eliminating fellow Serb Viktor Troicki yesterday in 3 sets, Joker quit rather than taking the court today against Tsonga (an opponent he was not going to beat with a sore shoulder, as he might have beaten Nishikori last week). Eleven or twelve days without competition will probably be enough to get him through one or more matches in London so he can collect another tidy sum to offset the UK sponsor taxes in their pay-to-play system. But Joker is learning the lesson every #1 seems to get after a HUGE year: the offset to the small fortune you win is the injury you end the year with. In 2006 Federer paid the price with an injury at the Masters finals after a 2nd year in a row winning 11 titles (he lost to Nalbandian in 5 sets after being barely able to win a game in the 3rd and 4th sets). Nadal has seen his competitive seasons end as far as winning titles in June ('06 and '07), August ('08), April ('09) and - presumably, June ('11). At least in part his efforts lagged in the hard court season because he never lost on clay and played too many matches in a row (before the clay season in both '07 and '09 he did win a hard title - Indian Wells).

Tsonga has a surprise opponent in the semis tomorrow: unseeded American John Isner, a winner over 4th seed David Ferrer, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 (atypical scores for an Isner win). This is the second straight week David's been upset by an unseeded player (last week it was Monaco in the Basel semis), which suggests the energizer's battery is running down as the season moves into daylight savings.

Isner's ranking will again match his highest ever, #18, as a result of reaching this semis. Were he to win tomorow to reach the final, he'd end the year at #13. Were John to win Paris, he'd be #9, and first alternate in London! Impossible? Any given Sunday... Wouldn't they like this in NY - 2 Americans back in the top 10. Imaginez cela!

Monaco had not such luck today against Federer, who played his worst match of the last 2 weeks, and could easily have been upset by a stronger opponent. Rog gave his serve away in the 1st set and made 35 unforced errors, winning only 67% of his points on serve (low for him indoors), but on the strength of his winning net play (17/20) and Monaco's help in the costly unforced error department, he went on to win a rather ugly 6-3, 7-5 .

Rog will face Berdych, who won a 3 hour battle with Murray today by being able to stay on more the aggressive. Andy's 1st serve, which in Asia last month had transformed The Scot into a Ghengis Kahn and allowed him to carry off the spoils from 3 titles, deserted him too often: he got just 50% of 1st balls into play. Berdych was all over Andy's too shallow 2nd delivery, taking control of points and making the Scot scurry like a lamb. None-the-less, their match got very close and both players got very tight toward the end of sets. I'd like to believe that Berdych's net game made the difference: he was 32/47 (winning 67% at the net), while Murray came in a quarter as much. But what decided the match was the last 2 games. Murray double-faulted at 5-5, 30-40, while Berdych remained cheerful and resolute during his own chokes and frustrations in a 10 minute service game hold at 6-5. The Czech is now 3/1 with Murray in the last 2 years.

Against Federer, Berdych won't get the short 2nd serves which allowed him to take control of points. Though Berdych is 3/2 with Roger in the last 2 years and can be counted on to provide very strong competition, Roger is playing well enough to force Tomas to do the running, and in that department, he's no Murray. Still, as well Roger's playing, I wouldn't take the Betfair odds on Federer to win this event: he's now more than 6/1 favorite.


Not Before 2:00 PM (8am EST)

[3] R Federer (SUI) vs [5] T Berdych (CZE)

Not Before 5:00 PM

[6] J Tsonga (FRA) vs [4] D Ferrer (ESP) or J Isner (USA)

Rick Devereux

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