ATP 2007: And So it Begins…

The 2007 tennis season has begun in earnest. With the Aussie Open in the books, the question to me is what will this year really look like? I think just about everyone figured that Roger Federer would pick up at least two majors, and the early season hopes for the first male Grand Slam since 1969 was truly a possibility.

But I don't think anyone realized how truly possible it may be, at least not until the semis of the Australian Open. Watching R-Fed kick Andy Roddick's butt around the court at will was just an amazing feat. What made it more enjoyable is that A-Rod was at his best, and Roger had an answer or 10 for every single shot and point. Roddick was outclassed, outgunned ... heck, he was just out.

I'm not going to put Roger in the pantheon as the greatest player ever, but I will say that his shot-making in this match was maybe one of the top three exhibitions I have ever seen in my time on earth. He never looked hurried, he never looked frazzled, and he just was everywhere he needed to be to answer the attack of Roddick.

One point sticks in my head. I believe it was in the second set. Andy made a very strong serve up the center of the court, and Roger lofted back a weak return. Andy came to the net and hit a very good, deep, and well-placed volley to the forehand court. Roger came from nowhere, got his racquet around the ball, and hit a sharp crossing forehand passing shot that hit an incredible angle and landed just past the reach of the hardy American. I'm sure Roddick was stunned, and I know I was.

So, the men's game, unless Federer gets hurt or decides to retire midseason, will come down to Federer vs. fill in the blank for the rest of the year. I will probably be covering the U.S. Open in the late summer and having to fight for a spot in the press room as Roger steps to the microphone and is getting asked if he can finish the Grand Slam off. All the other press rooms will be empty.

The story for 2007 for the men will be more about who will rise from the rest to challenge Roger all year. James Blake took a major step backward with his early exit in Melbourne. Mardy Fish's run was admirable, but not repeatable. Rafael Nadal looked human again. I wonder if he'll be as invincible on clay this year as years past, too. Team Roddick seems to have righted the ship and put it back on course, but even the unexpected appearance of James Scott Connors wasn't enough to put Andy back in the lead.

Aussie Open finalist Fernando Gonzalez of Chile looked like a world beater for two weeks, and has shown enormous potential at times in the past. His three set loss to R-Fed was actually a good match, and closer than the final scores made it seem. Problem is, Gonzalez is not consistent and for the next few months, he will be playing on the slow European clay, a surface not specifically suited to his talent.

Of all the South Americans on the men's tour, Gonzalez is probably the least suited to the slow dirt. Fernando was exceptional last year on the grass during the U.S./Chile Davis Cup tie in California and has consistently performed on the hard courts over the past two years. You might ask why I am highlighting this performance. Gonzalez has moved up to challenger status, and looks to be taking the place held by Marcos Baghdatis in 2006, but probably will not be the one player to push Federer all season long.

Tommy Haas made a very good run to the semis. Haas has always been on the cusp of something really good. Personal problems and injuries have always gotten in the way before. Haas has the tools to be able to challenge Roger. Maybe he will be the one.

Brad Gilbert has done amazingly well with Andy Murray. Murray's loss to Nadal in five sets in the fourth round showed that on the faster surfaces, Murray has some talent. If there is anyone in the world who can teach a player to compete and be a true challenger, it's Brad. I wonder if young Mr. Murray has the drive to finish it off.

One down, three majors to go. Men's tennis will be both interesting and boring, not unlike men's golf when Tiger Woods plays. Federer will either dominate completely, or his absence at certain events will allow the rest of the boys to showcase their talent.

I'm rooting for Roger. Why bother wasting my breath for anyone else?

Comments and Conversation

February 5, 2007


Nice article for sure, but I am sure you are following a trend of (US?) writers that are suddenly surmising that Federer’s domination is boring. Tiger has been dominating Golf for some 6 years, and I have never heard once that golf was boring. Matter of fact, Tiger has now and has held wider leads from the #2 than Federer has.

Is it just that Federer is not American as Roddick and also Sampras have suggested? Does it mean we don’t want to see genius if it doesn’t come from our own soil? Afterall, tennis wasn’t that boring until the much awaited semi-final match between Federer and Roddick was over. Going by the hype in the media, one would have thought that Tennis fever was at its peak. But then what happened suddenly. Only thing I can see is that Roddick, the American, lost in the semis.
Why does the media have to hpye everything around the US players. To me, Federer-Gonzales match was a bigger match than the Federer + Roddick match.

Realize that some kid out there watching Federer could be inspired to become a future great! And make sure you don’t rule out that kid is from the US.

Because the way the coverage in the media is going, those TVs are being shutoff in the US when tennis is going on, and in particular when the greatest maestro is in full flow.

February 5, 2007

Uncle Buck:

I saw some of the RFed-Arod match and it was clear to me that Rod wasn’t playing any where near his best. I dont know where you get the impression that he was.

>>>Why bother wasting my breath for anyone else?<<<
Indeed. why bother watching at all when Federer “yawn” plays?

February 6, 2007


Were you watching the same semi match as I was?

Sure Federer was all class - but Roddick, dude the boy got stunned and forgot how to play the game after 4-4 in the first set.

Roddick got flustered - he didn’t play anywhere near his best. And all credit for Federer to cause him to do that - but I’d really like to see a Roddick at his best against Federer match, or anyone else at their best against Roger.

Perhaps then you will be more willing to waste your precious breath for all the other guys out there who are willing to put heart and soul every time they step out into that court whether Roger is playing or not.

February 6, 2007


Well, people are saying Roddick was not at his best. I guess you need not be at your best to win some matches. All you need is an opponent who is not his best. Everybody was saying that Roddick was at his best when he straight setted Mardy. Roddick cannot go from being best to not palying to his potential in a couple of days. It takes a great player to make you a mortal. That palyer was R-Fed. I totally agree with article. R-Fed made A-Rod look a mere mortal by just blunting his super fast serves.

If you look at the stats A-Rod was on an upswing. And was defenitely kicking some butt. He even took out R-Fed in Kooyong. He almost took out R-Fed in Shangahi. If that is not A-Rods best then I doubt he will ever be in the future. A-Rod needs keep his emotions in control. He should not loose his cool when chips are down. I guess the kid needs to work on that aspect if anybody asks me. R-Fed on the other hand has the amazing ability to not let himself out when chips are down. That I guess is the difference between a great player and a Player at his best.

February 6, 2007

Shane Gregg:

Listen, I have been watching tennis since 1989, and have probably watched every big match since 1990. I have watched Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Pat Rafter, John Mcenroe, Bjorn Borg, and yes Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin, and Fernando Gonzales. I here people all the time saying this stuff about tennis is boring and where are the rivals……and why isn’t anybody else winning tournaments…… Well i can tell you why and the words are roger Federer…….I loved watching Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras play in fact it is the greatest rivalry in my opinion in the history of tennis just ahead of Borg vs Mcenroe……..I would also have to say that andre Agassi is my favorite tennis player of all time…….but I will not lie and say that he is better than Roger Federer or ever was……it just isn’t anywhere close to being true…….I personally believe that tennis is more exiting than it has ever been because of what Roger is doing and would have done no matter what era of players he played against……I here people say all the time who would have won, Sampras or Federer at their peak……..and my response is federer won at wimbeldon in 5 sets in 2001…….you may say well sampras was not at his peak and my response is, well, he was a whole lot closer to it at 28 than federer was at 19……..the bottom line is I watched that match in its entirety and sampras would have beaten anyone else that day in straight sets serving at 71 percent! Federer did to Pete what he does to everyone today which is take the strength away and make them beat him with a part of their game where they are not as comfortable…..also I believe that the game is tougher today which makes it all the more special what roger is doing………when sampras and agassi dominated they would lose early in slams and that is why you saw more players winning tournaments and slams when they were in there primes…….i mean the most tournaments agassi and sampras won in a year were 6………compare that to roger federers 11 in 2005 and 12 in 2006 and it is not even close………..people say well if sampras or agassi were playing in there primes at this time federer would not be dominating like he has……….I am sorry to tell you that it would be the same scenario…… i said i played college tennis and have been to the us open and have seen sampras agassi, and federer and there is no doubt that we are watching the greatest tennis player and maybe before it is all said and done the most dominant athlete in the history of sports!…… quit getting all defensive for agassi and sampras and just enjoy watching the greatest tennis player ever play against the toughest group of talent I have ever seen in the top 50 for sure!

February 6, 2007


I agree with the above comments, Roddick was out of it in the semifinal match while Federer was completely in the zone. This unfortunately did not make for a good match. Federer is completely inside Roddicks head, Mardy Fish certainly is not. Many dominant players have the mental edge over their opponents and the semi-final proved this.
Good for Federer. Bad for tennis. (and Roddick)

February 7, 2007


A little bit respect for all the tennis players playing their heart out trying to find a way wouldn’t go astray.

Seriously, the last comment you made was ridiculous - perhaps when you have played at that level then you can comment.

February 7, 2007


I have seen sampras get blasted off the court by safin at US open final, forgot the year. I saw his humiliation at hewitts hands same place two years later.. it made me cry…. I was a big sampras fan since his demolition of brad gilbert at the Us open semis of 1990. i knew he was special back then and how has he proved it over the years..But that game of his would not survive in today’s tennis. Even at his prime, he would win a set maybe, but not the match.. Modern tennis has evolved so fast and so much, it has escaped everyones notice..Lleyton hewitt started this revolution of killing off serve & volleyers by his speed, agility and his never say die attitude. the period that he dominated was the most dull and uninspiring period in tennis for me , because it killed the gifted ones, the flair and the touch players..and brought on a generation of power and more power baseliners to slug it out match after match..more power, a new generation of superfit athletes, power equipments revolutions, new sports gears, super coaches, pampered and over coached athletes with a big entourage of fitness coaches, pilates coaches, yoga guru, masseuses etc etc etc I think this was the time was the time federer had a long thought about his game, and how to evolve his game and fitness as to counter this new age tennis.. he knew serve and volley would backfire today.. no doubt. he would have to be at the baseline and hone his gifts to counter superfit counterpunchers, speed demons, boomboom servers, massive forehands, bullet backhands..he knew back then there will not come another edberg henman et all. it’s over.. I see him now and and he has been proved right..

February 7, 2007


Roger is not only a great athlete, he is an incredible artist. Even if, during 07 no one else wins a tournament he has entered, the fun is watching him play. Graceful, speedy, intelligent, ourwardly calm, a fantastic shot maker, how can anyone say he is boring. I think I will never tire of seeing this guy destroy the opposition. Sportsfan should consider themselves lucky to have two exceptioonal talents like Roger and Tiger performing their magic in this very same era.

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