It’s the last grand slam for the year, and all the tennis stars (save for a few names) are in Flushing Meadows in New York to battle it out and win the crown. The usual pre-tournament predictions are already out, and most of the commentators and observers are pointing to a win by Serena Williams. They all love the comeback story of Williams who was sidelined for many months and now has returned to form and competition. On the men’s side, also the overwhelming favorite is Serbian Novak Djokovic who is having an incredible season and has won the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year. He also won a number of Masters Shield this year at the expense of former world number one, Rafael Nadal.
It’s a tough field right now, and it will not be easy for Williams and Djokovic to win the crown. Rafael Nadal will not allow Djokovic to have an easy time in winning his 3rd grand slam of the year, and of course there’s Roger Federer who has his own streak to preserve heading to the US Open. On the women’s side, again I am pinning my hopes on Maria Sharapova who is having her own ‘mini’ comeback story but not as compelling as that of Williams. Let the games begin, and thanks to Star Sports for showing some of the matches!
I may not be a big fan of Roger Federer, but I say Happy Birthday to the world’s greatest tennis player of today. Without Roger Federer, the dominance and the achievements of my personal favorite may not be as compelling as it is right now. When I started watching and following tennis, it was the time of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. And what followed is the dominance of Federer, and prevented other upstarts like Hewitt, Safin and Roddick from achieving their own dream of dominance. The record number of grand slam owned by Federer is still standing and will stand for many more years. The Swiss ‘maestro’ as he is called has collected 16 grand slams, 5 clear of the next record by an active player, Rafael Nadal. Other noteworthy achievements of this player include 285 weeks at number 1, 67 titles under his belt and $63,653,278.00 in prize money.
Federer is still active and currently ranked at Number 3 and the titles no longer come consistently but make no mistake about it. This is still Federer, and at 30 he still competes at a very high level even better than 99 percent of the guys in the circuit. To Roger Federer, happy birthday and you may have many more titles to win!
Rafael Nadal showed why he is named the ‘King of Clay’ Sunday in Paris. The crown was taken in four sets against Roger Federer, widely considered as the greatest tennis player of all time. The score 7-5, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-1 on Sunday showed how tight the match was. Though this was not an instant classic compared to their other finals match-up still the match was full of action, and suspense.
For the first few games, Federer carried over the same form that allowed him to defeat Djokovic. Up 2-5, Federer sensed weakness in Rafa Nadal and held a set-point on Rafa Nadal’s serve. But this was the turning point of the match. Rafa managed to score 5 straight points to take the opening set, and the second set. By the third set, Federer managed to return back to form but this was not enough as he was just limited to just 1 game on the fourth set, giving Rafa Nadal the crown. With the win, Nadal equaled the achievement made by Bjorn Borg of record six French Open titles, and this sealed the 10th slam of the Spaniard. He is the second youngest player ever to earn a 10th slam. With the win, Rafa extended his own record at the Roland Garros which now stands at 45-1 and he keeps the number 1 ranking. To Federer’s credit, he still showed that he is still part of the conversation. But this win by Rafa will ultimately bear down on the record of Federer. The Spaniard now leads the head to head in grand slam finals, 6-2. Federer may be the greatest tennis player of all time, but he has a losing record against Rafa Nadal, his main rival.
This should serve as the first true test if indeed Novak Djokovic will be the next number 1. If he defeats Rafa Nadal on clay, on his favorite surface in the finals ofMadrid then count me in in expecting that the Serbian star will be the next number 1 player. There are a number of sub-plots at work here, after Rafa Nadal defeated Roger Federer in the semi-finals, and Djokovic defeated an upstart in the other semifinal match. One such story line is the debate on how ready is Djokovic to wrest the number 1 spot from Nadal. Another story line is the winning streak of the two players; Djokovic’s commanding 33-match winning streak and Rafa Nadal’s 37 match winning streak on clay. Now who will be the strongest person, and wins the title this weekend? I am excited for this match; two of the current best players in the circuit will slug it out once again, and many things are on the line. And yes, Rafa Nadal has more to lose on this match. Djokovic is riding high on his history-setting momentum. But will Rafa simply roll and give the match? I expect Rafa to play grinding tennis on clay once again, and I believe that Rafa Nadal will win in three sets. If not, it will be a sad and un-inspiring week for me. Vamos, Rafa!
Just an update: Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal to remain undefeated this year. This is an important victory for Djokovic considering the fact that this was played on clay and in Madrid! This was certainly a big letdown and disappointment to Rafa Nadal and his camp, but in a statement Rafa said that he was just overpowered by the more stronger player this year. With the win, Djokovic gains momentum for this year’s French Open. And I must say, he is the favorite, and he could end up as ATP’s number 1 player soon.
What I learned this week: It’s now a race between Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic; Roger Federer is showing his age; Andy Murray will continue to be a under-performer and Andy Roddick is done.
There are some constants that have developed in tennis for the past few years. Roger Federer and his amazing successive appearances in semi-finals of major tournaments, Andy Murray’s regular failures in major tournaments, Andy Roddick’s continuous failure to get out of that ‘one-slam’ wonder and Rafa Nadal‘s consistent dominance on clay. And this time of the year is clay time, and tennis fans know this- this is the time when Rafa Nadal takes center stage. And Nadal never failed again this year as he showed to the rest of the field why he is called the ‘King of Clay’ or perhaps the ‘greatest clay court player of all time’. To start his campaign, he won Monte Carlo Masters for the 7th time. Now talk about dominance of one player in one single tournament! He defeated David Ferrer in the finals, and though Rafa Nadal did not bring his A-game to the match, still he came out the victor. This was again repeated in the Barcelona where Nadal again won the tournament. What I am waiting for is the French Open. Will Rafa Nadal win this year’s edition of the Roland Garros? This year’s edition will be interesting since we will know the answer if indeed Novak Djokovic is for real; is he really a threat to Rafa Nadal? Other rivals to look out for include Robin Soderling and Del Potro who is making waves now in Estoril. Even with a resurgent Djokovic in the thick of the fight, I am counting on Rafa Nadal to win it all.
It’s that time of the year when the top players in the men’s circuit descend on the clay courts of Europe. And this is the time of the year when Rafael Nadal takes centerstage. And this is the time of the year as well when I’ll be excited checking results of matches knowing for a fact that Rafa Nadal has a higher chance of winning compared to the other ranked players. Together with Justine Henin, Rafael Nadal is considered as the most successful player on clay. He is the winner of five French Open singles titles. Rafa never lost a match at the Roland Garros until May 31, 2009 and this was the time when Robin Soderling took him out of the tournament. Because of the impressive run of Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros and the many clay court events, he was named as the ‘King of Clay’. Again, this year it is expected that Nadal will strongly figure in the many events involving the surface.
But the problem is that Rafa is facing a different scenario. If in the past he contends with Federer and Soderling, this time around he will need to battle it out with hot Novak Djokovic.
Remember the time when Rafa Nadal was the face of Kia a few years back? I know I blogged about that during my stint at my former company. Now for 2011, Rafa Nadal was once again named as Kia’s Brand Ambassador. Nadal was chosen together with Australian Open 2011 Champion Kim Clijsters.
In a statement that was made by the company which I sourced on this site, it seems that the moves of the company of getting stars like Rafa and Kim worked, at least financially. The yearly support of the company for the Australian Open and other events and its choice of ambassadors like Rafa Nadal helped in pushing for the bottomline of the company. According to the Korean automaker, its PR moves generated an estimated income worth $700 million. Now this is something to brag about, no? For its campaign last Australian Open, logos of Kia were flashed on screen and were seen by a billion people from more than 160 countries. It further said that this was an increase of 16 percent from last year. Logos of the company are often seen in nets, fences and bilboards. The nice thing about Kia is that it shows support for tennis. Unlike other companies, Kia has chosen tennis as its main focus sports. As part of its efforts to promote the brand, it handed out a fleet of 101 tournament vehicles, and it said that it has already provided 909 vehicles so far. Some of the vehicles issued include Carnival, Sorento, Sportage and Forte.
Pic courtesy of this site.
Remember the last post that I made about the new project of Rafael Nadal outside of the tennis courts? Well, it seems that some snippets of Rafa showing off some skin for an Armani add campaign had leaked in the internet. The new ad for Armani features sexy Megan Fox with Rafa Nadal, and the adverts are intended for the Spring/Summer 2011 campaign by the fashion label. The hot and sexy pics of the two were shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. Fox has already modeled for Armani, but this is the first time that Rafa Nadal took off his shirt for Armani.
With all the attention focused on the efforts of Rafael Nadal on Monte Carlo and Barcelona, it is expected that some tennis fans like me has failed to monitor the other results of other events that are played the same week. For example, there’s the BMW Open in Munich, and as expected this event wasn’t televised. But what to expect? Even the Barcelona event wasn’t carried by my cable provider. So that was an expected win for Rafa Nadal on the Barcelona event. Facing compatriot David Ferrer, Rafa ceded the second set but came back strong in the third set to bounce Ferrer, 6-1 4-6 6-1. It was Nadal’s fourth Barcelona crown after winning his record fourth Monte Carlo crown.
On the BMW Open, it was Gonzales’ turn to collect his 10th tour title. He defeated Simone Bolleli of Italy 7-6(4) 6-7(4) 6-3. This was Gonzales second tour title for the year. By winning the Open, Fernando Gonzales pocketed $92,000 and a sports car. The event was sponsored by BMW.
Roger Federer, the World’s top ranked tennis player since 2004 has partnered with Mercedes-Benz China. The two camps have entered into a multi-year advertising and strategic marketing partnership. This isn’t the first time that a well-known tennis player has signed contracts with an auto manufacturer. In fact, Spain’s Rafael Nadal also partnered with Kia and Maria Sharapova partnered with Land Rover.As part of the deal, Federer is set to join ‘Swing for the Stars’ a Junior Tennis Development Program that was launched by Mercedes-Benz in cooperation with the China Tennis Association. Federer in a statement said;
It’s exciting to work with a top brand like Mercedes-Benz in China. I look forward to helping them grow their business while increasing the popularity of tennis in China.
The project of the Mercedes-Benz, the ‘Swing for the Stars’ Junior Development Program is designed to help improve the skills of junior players and the coaches’ teaching level, so that they may be developed and in the long run help the development of tennis in China in the future.
Federer just recently won his first title for the year in Estoril, a clay court event. He also participated at the Monte Carlo Masters in Monte Carlo, where he lost to Rafael Nadal 5-7 5-7. Federer and Nadal has been ranked number 1 and 2 for many months now.