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Guest Blog

Midweek Review, Remaining Suspense Leading to the Final Four

London, Wednesday


November 23, 2011 | 08:34 AM

As the year winds down and we head into quiet holidays (ha-ha), I'm going to adopt the more familiar voice of someone like Samuel Johnson who I spent a semester reading in college (a fact I'd forgotten all about until this moment) and assume that My Readers have been somehow following London along without me the last few days. There's been a lot going on that I'd love to have captured for you, both on and off the court. If you want to catch up on the withdrawals (Murray after 1 loss: groin; Fish after 2: hammy), the substitutions (SW&WC, another Serb and a Spaniard get a big pay day for showing up and taking the court), the quickest qualification (The King of England, again...), and the off-court political scuttlebutt (The USTA talking and moving as slowly as Congress on schedule and capital improvements), I suggest you use visit the ATP home page (The Barclay's World Tour Final website is worthless except for old interview transcripts from Sunday and Monday). If anyone finds highlight video from yesterday's Federer-Nadal match, let me know if it includes their 39 stroke rally on break point against Rafa in the first set - they played like two dogs chasing each other around the court and pulling on two ends of a stick. Don't miss today's matches either, though they may seem uninteresting on paper, nothing is quite what it seems these days:

JOKER v. FERRER: (Evening match, live 3pm EST) Joker hasn't won a match following his two three setters, so the fact that he's seemed out of David's league lately and beaten him on both hard and clay in the last year and a half doesn't mean much. Nor does the fact that David was able to dominate a hurting Scot on Monday.

BERDYCH v. TIPSERAVIC: (live at 9am EST) The Serb has a 3-0 record with the Czech this year (all straight set wins on hard courts), and has made a huge recent jump into the top 10 from a start of 49. Tipso likes fast, indoor courts which, on paper, Berdych should thrive upon. However, in his first match against Joker, Berdych choked like a gobbler on our national holiday, and he has everything to lose. Unless he has a Freud on his traveling team, or at least stops making stupid errors trying to change directions to hit down-the-line FH's from the middle of the court, look for Tipso to gobble him up once he gets into th match

Later I'll look at the startling match between Fed and Rafa, which rewards closer reflection and dissection than the top line stats during the broadcast or in the news media. With a closer look we'll see what was different about the 27th career match-up of the two most heavily scrutinized tennis players in the last decade. All 3 of their previous meetings in 2011, won by Rafa (two on clay and one on hard), have suggested their relationship on court is changing, but yesterday's match may shift our understanding of why and what to expect in subsequent meetings.

Rick

ATP 2011 11.223.11


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