So when Robin Soderling comes back from not-winning-an-ATP-match-all-year-no-not-even-at-the-Australian-Open, he does it in style. He is into the final in Rotterdam after beating Nikolay Davydenko, he who has been talked about more this year already than probably any other year in his career.
Not having seen the match, I don't know if this is a case of Soderling stepping up his game or Davydenko falling off his a bit - Kolya is still obviously a form player, but I think it's going to take us a while to tell how that quarter final loss in Australia after being in such a commanding position is going to treat him. It's not often that you dominate a match like he dominated that match against Federer only for it to turn around in the blink of an eye and for you to find yourself totally crushed instead. But Kolya is a tough nut. I think he'll be OK - even if this round in Rotterdam went to Soderling.
Djokovic, on the other hand, is not exactly what I would call a tough nut. He's more an almond, or a pine nut, or some other really soft nut. He obviously hasn't always been like this in his career, but it's really been a while since Novak seriously looked like winning... which is a problem, considering he is the #2 player in the world in one of the strongest eras of all time. He got edged by Mikhail Youzhny in two tiebreakers today. Youzhny will now go on to play Soderling in the final.
Best of three tennis is difficult in that, yes, you can lose two tiebreakers and find yourself out of the tournament without having done that much wrong. But while a few of these two-breaker upsets do exist, they're not an epidemic. Players like Federer, Nadal, Murray - Roddick is another one you definitely see this with - do end up in breakers, sure, but for them to lose both of them? Two in a row? Not something you see too often.
Again, I didn't actually see the match, so I can't make any profound comment on how well Youzhny played or what went on with Djokovic. But it just worries me that Novak really hasn't looked like a real contender in a while - even in Australia, where he made the quarters. He didn't play a seeded player till the quarters, where he lost. Sure, Jo-W Tsonga has his number and it went five sets, but I would argue that Djokovic probably wouldn't even have got that far if he hadn't had such a total cakewalk draw.
So there's one to keep an eye on. Soderling/Youzhny is not the final most people would have wanted in Rotterdam, but I think it will be a good match nonetheless. These two, if nothing else, are tough nuts.
ETA: Welcome to the world, Alexia Wawrinka! Congrats to Stan and Ilham. And Myla and Charlene... I bet you'll have a new friend in the tournament creche soon enough!
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago