Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Archive for guillermo canas

French Open – Roland Garros – Men to watch

 

EurosportTue, 22 May 00:52:00 2007

French Open – Believe it or not, a Rafael Nadal versus Roger Federer French Open final is not necessarily ordained from above. Jeremy Stahl runs through the list of contenders who stand a chance on the red-hot clay at this year’s Roland Garros.

TENNIS 2007 Battle of the Surfaces Roger Federer Rafael Nadal - 0

Rafael Nadal – The odds-on bet

We would be loathe not to mention the two-time defending champion as the easy favourite to defend his crown. The world number two is coming off of the heels of his first defeat on the slow dirt in more than two years, but his loss to Roger Federer in the Hamburg final takes nothing away from the Spaniard’s record-breaking 81-match win streak on clay. In addition to having a perfect record in his two years at Roland Garros, Rafa has yet to have even been pushed to a fifth set at Paris. Three titles in four claycourt tournaments in 2007 bode well for the 20-year-old man-child from Majorca.

Roger Federer – To be the greatest…..

From John McEnroe to Andre Agassi, the general consensus among tennis’ now wise (once wild) men is that Roger Federer needs to win the French Open and become the sixth man to achieve the Slam in order to challenge for the mantle of “greatest-of-all-time.” After a previously disappointing claycourt season, Fed-ex won his first clay title of the spring in Hamburg. More importantly, the Swiss Slam machine overcame one of his biggest goblins of the past two years and beat Rafael Nadal on clay for the first time in six tries. Though Federer had been coy about his Roland Garros hopes, the world number one is clearly anxious to get over the final hurdle of a brilliant career on the burning red dirt of Paris.

Fernando Gonzalez – Gonzo-mania strikes again?

The fifth ranked Chilean starts the French Open as the most credible challenger to the world number one and the two-time defending champion, having already reached the final of one Grand Slam and a claycourt Masters series this year. The man whose red-hot Oz Open run was only ended by an unstoppable Federer in the final, also reached the final of the Rome Masters before being trounced by Nadal. If he can somehow avoid the top-two in the draw, another Gonzo Grand Slam final is a distinct possibility in Paris.

Novak Djokovic – The other young gun

The Serbian starlet, who turned 20-years-old a week before the start of this year’s French Open, has not quite rivalled Rafa Nadal as the best young player on the ATP Tour this year, but he has come close. Djokovic, third in the 2007 ATP Points Race behind only Federer and Nadal, won titles in Adelaide and Estoril, and beat Rafa on his way to a Miami Masters crown in a brilliant first-half of the season. He reached the quarter-finals of last year’s Roland Garros before retiring hurt down to sets to eventual winner Nadal, but after gaining more experience against Rafa at the Rome, Miami, and Indian Wells Masters, is in the best-possible position to challenge his top-ten 20-year-old peer.

Nikolay Davydenko – Looks good on paper

A perennial Grand Slam quarter-finalist, the Russian had his best-ever finish at Roland Garros in 2005 losing to Mariano Puerta in the semi-finals. Despite his third consecutive quarter-finals appearance at the Australian Open this January, Davydenko’s 2007 had been anything but impressive with several first and second round exits. But then the world number four nearly showed what he is nearly capable of by nearly beating Rafael Nadal at the Rome Masters in a semi-final epic. Nearly will not be good enough at Roland Garros, however.

Guillermo Canas – The upset specialist

Returning to the ATP circuit from a 15-month doping suspension last fall, the Argentine gained a more positive notoriety this spring by beating world number one Roger Federer in two consecutive tournaments. Canas has the quickness and defensive agility to challenge the world’s best on the slow surface, as he proved in his encore victory over Federer in a thrilling 7-6(2) 2-6 7-6(5) victory at the Miami Masters. Having already beaten former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero on clay to win the Brazil Open, Canas went onto reach the finals in Barcelona before succumbing to Nadal. But only one victory in his last three tournaments means “El Gigantico Killero” has cooled heading into Paris.

Lleyton Hewitt and Carlos Moya – The old school

Though both the Australian and the Spaniard have faded significantly since their respective runs at the top of the world rankings, back in November 2001 and March 1999 respectively, both Hewitt and Moya have surged into this year’s French Open. The former US Open and Wimbledon champion Hewitt struggled after winning the Las Vegas Open in February, but demonstrated shades of his former attacking greatness against Nadal in the semi-finals at Hamburg before losing 6-2 3-6 5-7 to the Spaniard. Moya, the 1998 French Open champion, also started the season strong with a title on clay in Acapulco in February, before struggling up until an impressive Hamburg run, which was ended by eventual champion Roger Federer in a thrilling 6-4 4-6 2-6 semi-final. Between the 30-year-old Moya and the 26-year-old Hewitt, you have to give the edge to the Australian.

David Nalbandian – The long-shot

Another really strong contender on paper, Nalbandian reached his second Roland Garros semi-finals appearance in 2006 before retiring against world number one Roger Federer. The big-hitting 25-year-old has disappointed this season with only one quarter-finals appearance at Barcelona, but is capable of beating anybody in the world as he showed at the Masters Cup final against Federer in 2005. Prone to unforced errors and on-court nervous break-downs the hot-blooded Argentine has all the potential to win the French Open, but probably lacks the mental toughness to go all the way.

Philipp Kohlschreiber – The really, really long-shot

The 23-year-old German could turn a few heads and cause a couple of upsets at Paris, if he continues the form that has seen him to a career-best ranking of 32nd in the world. Kohlschreiber, a natural dirt-baller, won his first-career title on the clay at Munich last month. He pushed Rafa Nadal to four sets before losing to the Spaniard in the second round of the Australian Open, and reached the quarter-finals at Monte Carlo before falling to the eventual champion Nadal yet again. The added experience against the world number two could very well work to his advantage.

And the rest….

Andy Roddick, James Blake, Ivan Ljubicic, Tommy Robredo, Tomas Berdych, and Tommy Haas are threats in any major tournament, while claycourt specialists Juan Ignacio Chela, Juan Carlos Ferrero and David Ferrer could also do some damage.

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Nadal’s king, but these 5 can usurp the throne

Matthew Cronin / FOXSports.com

Breaking news! Rafael Nadal can be beat on clay — at least once every two years.

But despite his three-set loss to top-ranked Roger Federer in the Hamburg final, the Spaniard is still the favorite to win his third consecutive French Open title and become the first man since all-time great Bjorn Borg to pull off a triple. Here are the five best bets to take his title:

  • Roger Federer: Muddled in his longest slump since he became No. 1, Federer scraped and clawed his way to his third Hamburg title, needing three sets to overcome Juan Monaco, David Ferrer and Carlos Moya. Then in the final against Nadal, whom he had never beaten in five attempts on clay, he rediscovered his ferocious backhand, stepped further inside the court with his backhand to pick up the Spaniard’s high bouncing balls earlier and hit straight through his exhausted foe.Even though it was clear that Nadal had finally lost his legs after an amazing 81-match win streak on clay, the victory was a much-needed boost of confidence for Federer, who now believes that if he finds the zone, continues to hit out, serves huge and returns intelligently, that his chase of the calendar year Grand Slam is no quixotic quest. But if Federer is to win his first Roland Garros crown, he must play cleanly through his first five matches because he doesn’t want to enter the final weekend with tread-worn wheels.
  • Novak Djokovic: The hottest young player on tour has found his feet on clay and is looking all the part of a top five player this year. John McEnroe loves this guy’s composure and how he goes after the ball. He’s beaten Nadal on hardcourts, and he won Warsaw on clay.Interestingly, even though he’s a Serbian who has slid on plenty of clay courts in his life, Djokovic prefers faster surfaces. But he’s a good mover who can launch his forehand and rarely backs off the ball against elite players. He just turned 20 and is still a little immature, but unlike some of the veterans, he doesn’t fear Rafa or Roger. He’ll get after it, which is a sure sign of a future Slam champ.
  • Nikolay Davydenko: Hurt much of the year, the Russian rebounded in Rome with a semifinal appearance and a near win over Nadal. If he can find motivation — and find some heart — he’s a decent threat to reach the French Open semis (and maybe the final if Fed fizzles). He’s the tour’s most unknown top-5 player, but is a true backboard with pop and savvy.
  • Fernando Gonzalez: The Chilean slumped after the Australian Open final, overplaying and frequently losing his composure. The 26-year-old has huge weapons and a much-improved backhand, but he can be impatient and lose his focus. On clay, that’s a death sentence.Gonzo did revive himself at the Italian Open, reaching the final, but Nadal ran circles around him there and in Hamburg. If he can avoid the Spaniard until late in the tournament and catches fire, he can upset anyone on a great day. But he needs to show the same spunk he did Down Under.
  • Guillermo Canas: After a lengthy doping suspension, the veteran Argentine has run an incredible race back into top 25, grinding nearly every week since last fall and taking Federer down twice at Indian Wells and Miami.In his six appearances at Roland Garros, he’s played nine monstrous five-setters, winning five of them. Even though he can stay on court for eons, Canas has to be more of a risk-taker this year if he’s to pass the quarterfinals. Playing possum isn’t going to cut it as the tournament wears on.While the ATP Tour isn’t deep at the top level of the game, it’s near fathomless with men who have quarterfinal possibilities. Here are 10 other men who can reach the French Open final eight:
  • Graceful Spaniard Tommy Robredo
  • The talented yet erratic French hopeful Richard Gasquet
  • Czech powerballer Tomas Berdych
  • Argentine veteran David Nalbandian
  • Tireless Spaniard David Ferrer
  • The improving Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela
  • 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero
  • The up-and-down Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis
  • Argentine teen Juan Martin Del Potro
  • And two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia.Unless they receive a very sweet draw, don’t expect American top 10ers Andy Roddick and James Blake to reach the second week. They are bedeviled by the dirt.