lørdag den 11. juli 2009

Oh happy day. Braves trade Frenchy!

Today was a great day for the team I spend the most time watching in any sport, the Atlanta Braves.

They FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY! Got rid of Jeff Francoeur aka failcore aka the human out machine.

It's hard to put into words the agony and frustration it has been watching him day in and day out the last couple of years. He has been one of the worst major leaguers for a while now, yet there he was on your favorite team constantly-consistently stinking it up. Costing runs. Costing wins.
When he was finally sent down last season it was only for 4 days and it did no good whatsoever. Only trash our hopes of a lenghty stay.

Now he is actually gone in what is clear is an absolute robbery of a trade.
I and most sane braves fans would have been delighted with almost anything for him and that the Mets actually in return gives up an upgrade, a decent serviceable major league ballplayer in return, Ryan Church, it is something almost too good to be true.

Reading my favorite Braves blog today following the trade was awesome.
Mac Thomason who runs it has been relentless anti-Francouer to a point where he has been rivaling Cato the Elder in his stubborn efforts against Carthago, and the reaction from everyone following this news was of course nothing short of ecstatic.

The cause of so much frustration finally gone. Oh happy day indeed!

I will admit however that at times I have been feeling sorry for Frenchy...

He took everyone by storm in his rookie year even getting on the cover of SI:

(almost painful to look at now btw)

and with his fellow "Baby Braves" of that year, 2005, mainly best friend the awesome Brian McCann, helped Atlanta to their 14th straight division title.
The future sure looked bright...

I don't consider myself enough of a baseball expert to say what exactly went wrong.
I do remember up until even the start of last season being hopeful that he could improve.
Baseball Prospectus 2008 in their writeup were even quite positive.
Saying he was more disciplined, now seeing a few more pitches while holding his strikeout rate steady.
The final words were: "Just 24 years old he may well become a star in 2008". Wow!

What followed was of course a nightmare year. No patience. No plate discipline. Super slow batspeed. No understanding of the strike zone, swinging at everything and even though he had put on muscle, not much power.
Resulting in horrible numbers across the board making him one of the worst starting outfielders in the league!

And this year?

They're even worse!

But yeah there is a tragic element when a hometown hero falls from grace like this and is just not able to live up to expectations, but I think most would agree that his attitude just hasn't been all that great. In a recent interview he said that if OBP was that important why don't they show it on the scoreboard...
It's just hard continuing feeling bad for someone capable of such stupidity or utter denial if you will.

A few years ago he was even offered the same extension that McCann got but rejected it.
Had he signed that he would have almost been impossible to move today, so thank god for his poor decision making in that situation!

I don't normally blog on baseball and probably won't very much at all in the near future since I don't feel I have a whole lot to offer and is still learning in many ways but this was such a great day for me personally as a Braves fan, that it just had to be done.

Man of the day is definitely general manager Frank Wren who taking over from legendary John Schuerholz has had very big shoes to fill.
I didn't like how he handled the Smoltz situation.
Watching Smoltz pitch without really understanding much of the game coming home late at night at weekends, sometimes drunk with nothing to do, was what helped make me a Braves fan in the first place, and to like the sport itself for that matter, which then weirdly enough stayed with me, for many years, until the arrival of MLBTV where I could finally watch consistently. Eh it's a long boring self centered story but to cut it short I loved John Smoltz and he should have finished his career in Atlanta!

But to get back on track. Wren in his position doesn't have room for sentimentality and as far as I can see overall has done a great job. Putting together a much better pitching staff and first with Nate McLouth and now with this miraculous deal, upgrading the outfield.

I still somehow haven't written one single word about Le Tour yet, but I am watching so hopefully that's about to change very soon!

mandag den 6. juli 2009

After the Wimbledon final

It was yet another epic Wimbledon final and Andy Roddick was closer than ever to victory.

He started of by serving great and apart from little dips in first serve percentage here and there he managed to do so throughout.
And even when his first serve percentage at times dropped he still survived and despite putting him to the test numerous times Federer just was not able to break.

Just tremendous credit to Roddick for holding his own.

But of course he did much more than that. In the first set he hardly made any errors. Something highly unusual against Federer but it was in some ways similar to what he did so well in his win over Murray.
He was just moving better and was in great position for his shots the majority of the time.

Again something he has really struggled with in the past against Federer.
This was something that made even his backhand a very effective shot in this match, despite Federer, like Murray in the last round, again and again putting it to the test.

I've seen and heard some commentators at least flirting with criticizing Federer for playing too defensive. Not taking enough chances.
Suggesting that was the deciding factor in making the match as close as it was.

I think that's too easy.

Federer over a 20 match sample size was 18-2 against Roddick.
Why would he change a gameplan that's enabled him to dominate this opponent, a world class opponent, to such an overwhelming extent?

Again and again in their meetings Federer has blocked the Roddick serve and then patiently moved him around the court "waiting" for either an opening to hit a high percentage winner of his own (he still hit many more than any non aggressive player would) or Roddick not being able to hang with him so to speak, sooner or later commiting the error.

Roddick (and Stefanki) deserves all the credit in the world for with better movement preventing those openings and making fewer errors.

With another almost absurd high first serve percentage, if I remember correctly consistently +75 percent in the first two sets, and that newly found very solid all-court game, Roddick edged out the first set and incredibly then found himself in excellent position in the second set tiebreak to go up two sets to love!

He was leading 6-2!

This wasn't just Ivanisevic with a couple of set points to go up two sets to love against Sampras in 1998, it was four mini matchpoints against the best player ever, who pretty much every single time they'd played had owned his very soul!

Safe to say I think, a real once in a lifetime opportunity, and what of course happened?

He blew it!

Too harsh? I'm not sure.
This is what happend and I've included a video so judge for yourself:

Federer started by hitting one of his trademark improbable right off the bounce impossibly angled backhand winners.

And in retrospect I think that was the first body blow, because I'm sure, even if just for one short second in that rally, Roddick could actually taste victory, only to have it instantly taken away from him with the kind of play that in the past again and again had left him totally defenseless.

Doubts MUST have crept in there.

Predictably Federer followed that up with two effective serves and suddenly it was 6-5 and suddenly the pressure was intense. As well as probably even more doubts creeping in!

Next his attempt at a first serve was almost as close to the backline as it was being being in...

Federer's second serve return was short, Roddick then makes a great decision running around and hitting an excellent approach forehand deep into Federer territory.

He is at the net plenty in time to deal with whatever Fed can come up with.
There is not much angle for an effective passing shot, so Federer just hits it really hard.
It's a bit high. Maybe mistimed?
But definitely a makeable backhand volley for Roddick. If not for a winner. Then certainly something in! But he completely fails to control it and it sails out...

6-6 and as if there were ever any doubt whatsoever Federer grabs momentum, quickly closes things out and wins it 8-6.

The video is decent/not great quality but there are such highlights as Becker's OMG at around 7.37 as well as a little later, not for the last time in this match when cameras were zooming in, money exchanging hands between Borg and Nastase up there in the royal box. Degenerates clearly!

Huge credit to Federer for never giving in, he wouldn't the whole match, and credit for Nastase for betting Federer would still go on to win the set!

But again probably most credit once again to Roddick for taking this huge blow square faced on the chin and refusing to get knocked out like most would after seeing an astronomical chance like that go down the drain.

That really set the tone for all the epicness that would follow and thank you very much Andy Roddick for that!

I also hope as I'm writing this that unlike Ivanisevic following 1998 he isn't on suicide watch.
I know I would be, but with Roddick's personality and of course wife Brooklyn Decker

I wouldn't be suprised if he sooner than most people is back to enjoying life!

I'm also calling it, right here right now, that he in fact will do "a Ivanisevic" and come back and win Wimbledon, very unexpected, probably from a low rank, maybe even as a wild card, say in... THREE YEARS!

You heard it here first.

The rest of the match basically was a huge battle.
Federer served well enough, with Roddick's returns still being below average enough, to win the majority of his service games comfortably.
As well as serving up an impressive 50 aces along the way to Roddick's only 27.

But Roddick played well enough. Served a high percentage enough. Very needed because despite popular opinion, Federer WAS more effective on the Roddick serve than Roddick was on his.
To just keep hanging on and time again time again come up with the goods when most needed.

Federer just could not break him while Roddick, the one time really where Federer's own first serve percentage dropped, took advantage, broke his serve and held on to take the fourth.

The fifth needless to say was just an epic battle.

It's hard to say this was a better final than last year where overall quality was absurd but this on the other hand was a classic old school grass court battle in many ways boiling down to serving and returning.
The kind that's more rare these days and to have it in a final and to have it reach this level... On Wimbledon it just doesn't get any better than that.

In the end of course it was Federer who came out on top.

Whether it was Roddick finally tiring. His movement was off in that final game, not getting in the usual great position for his shots.
Or to what extent it was whatever added pressure of having to serve not to lose time and time again, or if it simply was the, for a while somewhat inevitable, catching up to him, of Federer simply winning his service games very comfotably in the fifth, putting on a superb serving clinic, while Roddick moreso really had to dig deep in order to survive.

And at an unbelievable 15-14 in the fifth there would be no more surviving and the greatest animal of them all would win his 15th grand slam title

breaking Pete Sampras grandslam record.

Sampras like he had promised Federer was indeed present, for the first time actually at Wimbledon since his playing days.
Unfortunately for whatever reason it wasn't him presenting the trophy.
Maybe at Wimbledon it just HAS to be the Duke or something...

I'm sure had it been at the US Open it would indeed have been Sampras handing it directly to Federer, and that really would have been a great moment, but at least, he was there, which was in itself great and also resulted in nice photos such as this one, of probably the four greatest tennis players ever together:

That's also a pretty nice finish on this blog to this years verson of Wimbledon which I think was absolutely great.

Not sure exactly when again there will be tennis on here?
I don't really follow the ATP tour that closely anymore but I'm definitely looking forward to the US Open already, and I can't rule out watching, and maybe blogging about, some of the Master tournaments that takes places before that.

lørdag den 4. juli 2009

Before the Wimbledon final: Goran, Roddick, lots of rambling!

One of my all time favorite moments in sport was Goran Ivanisevic's amazing Wimbledon victory in 2001.

It was his fourth final and at least twice he had been desperately close.

In 1992 where he beat both Edberg and Sampras along the way, he succumbed in a very close 5 setter to Andre Agassi in the final.

With his huge serve and a game seemingly made for this era's game on grass I think most people thought that him winning Wimbledon was only a matter of time. Including probably himself.

In the following years at Wimbledon Ivanisevic did everything from badly underperforming to being the best player on grass not named Pete Sampras.

He was erratic but of course never boring and he was someone you always wanted to watch just to see what would happen.
From probably the most explosive serves ever, his all or nothing service returns, to his epic temper tantrums.

Most famously in a match against Hyung-Taik Lee where he smashed every racket in his bag and as a result had to default!

At that low-point he had slipped far down the rankings and the time where people seriously thought him winning Wimbledon was only a matter of time was far gone.

He was now seen as someone who had missed his chances.

In the 1994 final against Sampras he dropped the first two sets in tiebreaks, then fell completely apart and was humiliated 6-0 in the third.
At this point it was definitely becoming clear who the mentally stronger player was and it wasn't Goran.

Next year Sampras again was the nemesis edging out Goran in the semis in what was a great five set match.

In 1996, the year of the upsets, with both Becker and Agassi going out early and even Sampras losing in the quarters, he could maybe have had a great chance but was upset too, by Jason Stoltenberg of all people, also in the quarters.

Instead it was Richard Krajicek who brilliantly (especially when blowing out Sampras) grabbed the chance and with his powerful grass game beat Malivai Washington, of all people, in the final to win his only grand slam title.

A final probably best remembered for this moment:

The following year once more it was far less happy times for Ivanisivic.

He had been playing great and collecting ATP titles consistently for a while now.
Was the 2nd seed coming in, that was his highest ever, only to be knocked out already in the 2nd round, in an epic match against Magnus Norman. Losing 14-12 in the fifth!

By 1998 he was starting to slip down the rankings.
Wimbledon really seemed to be the only thing he truly cared about at this point, and from the 14th seed spot this time, he was able to reach yet another final.
His 15-13 five set win over Krajicek in the semis was extraordinary and this must have seemed like destiny to Goran.

Against Sampras (who else) in the final he started well and took the first set.
The second was very close and in the tiebreak Ivanisevic had a couple of set points to go up two sets to none.
Sampras being Sampras of course came back and took it 11-9 and eventually the whole match in five, for his, at that point, fifth Wimbledon title.

I remember feeling pretty bad for Ivanisevic after the match.
This was also the period were I was still always rooting against Sampras. Later there would be a dramatic turnaround. And I wasn't sure if I'd ever seen anyone so devastated following a tennis match.
He really looked like someone on suicide watch and I guess this old SI article, I found just now, from back then confirms it:

Ivanisevic, who possesses both a quick wit and a quick temper, was neither funny nor mad afterward.

He was devastated.

"It feels bad," the 6-foot-4 Croatian said. "I cannot describe it. It's the worst moment in my life.

"I've had some bad moments, you know, when you are sick or when somebody dies, but for me this is the worst thing ever. Nobody died yet, but it's tough."

Even the mention of Croatia's World Cup victory Saturday over Germany failed to brighten his mood.

"I cannot cheer anybody now," he said. "I can only kill myself."


It was probably at this point actually that I started seriously rooting for Ivanisevic but in the following years he kept slipping and was almost constantly struggling with finding form or with various nagging injuries.

What then happened at Wimbledon 2001 is of course legendary.
He needed a wild card to even play and when he ended up winning he was the first wild card entry to ever do so.

Generally my impression of him that year was that he wasn't the player he used to be.

His movement clearly was worse which of course is huge, but the touch was there and of course that incredible serve.
And I don't know if it's even correct but I remember my thinking at the time was that he was also going for his 2nd serve a lot more than he had in the past.
Out of need almost.
Recognizing that other parts of his game weren't what they used to be and now he had to maximize his one dominating strenght. The serve.
At times he was serving two first serves!
That's how I remember it anyway.

He beat both Roddick and Safin along the way. I don't really remember that much from those matches other than him serving incredible and coming up with those powerful service returns, just enough times in order to win.

The semi-final against Henman is of course now remembered as Henman's big lost opportunity and how rain interrupted when it seemed Henman had turned a very back and forth match into his favour.
Their shared nemesis now 7 time champion Sampras had of course already been knocked out by future Wimbledon ruler Roger Federer, who had then lost to Henman in the quarters.
So this was no doubt both men's golden opportunity and tremendous credit to Ivanisevic for being the one to take it, come back when the match once again was restarted, play great and turn everything around.

This time it definitely felt like destiny.

From another article from back then:
Goran Ivanisevic has crushed Tim Henman's dream of a place in the Wimbledon final by battling back from two sets to one down to win in five sets.

Henman had appeared on the brink of the final on Friday when he came from a set down to lead with some dazzling tennis.

But the rain delays which caused the semi-final to be played over the course of three days broke Henman's rhythm and worked to Ivanisevic's advantage.

After his win, Ivanisevic said: "This is destiny.

"God wanted me to win this game - he sent the rains."

And it was Ivanisevic's patience which was rewarded as he secured a fairytale fourth Wimbledon final appearance.

"I don't want to lose again - that would kill me," said Ivanisevic.

"Tomorrow's the biggest day of my life, I don't want to get that plate for a fourth time."

Asked about his opponent in the final, the Croat said: "He's a great friend and a great player - it's going to be tough."

I actually caught a replay of the final the other day and predictably ended up sitting through the whole thing and it was still very intense as well as still very moving in the end.

Both before he won, when he was struggling so immensely with his emotions and how much this meant to him clearly was there for all the world to see, as well as the pure joy in the end when he finally had done the seemingly impossible and achieved his lifelong dream.

The last game alone was incredible drama and throughout really, helped by the best atmosphere ever, cause it was monday and everyone could get tickets, the match was so close and so back and forth that you were nonstop at the edge of your seat.

After Goran, Rafter was probably the player I most wanted to see win Wimbledon and he was severely missed when he reitred, but for this one I was solely on the Ivanisevic side of things and him ending all the suffering and doing it from the most unlikely stage, rock bottom, of his career was just too great of a story not to root for.

Enter Andy Roddick:

Now I'm not saying it's the same. The stories are very different.

But even though I love Federer and I think he is the best ever, tomorrow I'll be rooting for the great upset. The "better" story.

Roddick has never been down and out like Ivanisevic was. He already has a major, even if that win seems like forever ago at this point.
But like I talked about in the Roddick-Murray post a few days ago, he is certainly someone who has been counted out. He has been much maligned and made fun of.
Been called the worst good player and stuff like that.
He will also probably, if he doesn't win another grand slam, be seen as a great underachiever.
Yet with him being surpassed by other more talented players in recent years, no one expected him to even reach finals anymore.

With his 2 wins out of 20 record against the best player ever, he will be a monumental underdog but he will also be the greater story and to win would without a doubt mean the the world to him.

Federer he just confirmed his all time greatness by winning the French.
He doesn't NEED this. If anything he needs to beat Nadal at Wimbledon not poor Roddick one more time!

He very likely will of course, and I'll be left with some degree of disappointment.

What would help that though would be, and the rumours are flying, if Sampras shows up and presents Federer the trophy.
Actually him showing up and then ending up presenting it to Roddick wouldn't be too bad of a moment either...

But he has said in the past that he would like to be there whenever Federer would break his record, and THAT would certainly be a great moment.

Even greater than that!

fredag den 3. juli 2009

A list of favorite people in sports

So this is the aforementioned giant (check) list of various all time favorite people in sports.

If I eventually get around to make entries about even half of these all very deserving people I'll be satisfied, but for now here is just the list itself.

Tomorrow the goal is to have some Roddick-Federer Wimbledon final preview stuff.
Maybe some Tour de France "prologue" thoughts (it's too long to be an actual prologue) AND maybe some transfer market rambling
OR what about some Confederations Cup stuff which I spent probably way too much time posting about on my favorite sports forum.

Everyone on the list is in no particular order and especially the soccer one seems to be constantly growing while the people in a lot of other sports, sometimes obscure sports, are often various childhood heroes:


Andrea Pirlo
Ciro Ferrara
Dejan Savicevic
Roberto Mancini
Alessando Del Piero
David Ginola
Pep Guardiola
Cech Fabregas
Andres Iniesta
Emilio Butragenio
Ariel Ortega
Patrik Vieira
Giuseppe Giannini
Jürgen Kohler
Fernando Hierro
Aleksandr Zavarov
Zinedine Zidane
Michael Laudrup
Fernando Redondo
Preben Elkjaer
Vladimir Jugovic
Gian Piero Gasperini
Robert Lee
Jose Mourinho
Simone Perrotta
Giorgio Chiellini
Iker Casillas
Gianluca Buffon
Sergio Arguero
Marcello Lippi
Martin Jorgensen
Gheorge Hagi
Gianluca Vialli
Javiar Zannetti
Alessandro Nesta
Gianluca Zambrotta
Alan Shearer
Mikael Essien
Wayne Rooney
Carlos Tevez
Davide Santon
Salvatore Bochetti
Lilian Thuram
Didier Drogba
Zlatan Ibrahimovich
Domenico Criscito
Frank Lampard



Preben Elkjaer




Kosta Tszyu
Julio Cesar Chavez
Pernell Whitaker
Mike Tyson
Chris Eubank
Marco Antonio Barrera
James Toney

I feel like I've mistakenly left out a few here hmmmmm?

Alpine Skiing:

Pirmin Zurbriggen
Alberto Tomba


Gianni Bugno (of course my all time favorite everything)
Laurent Jalabert
Marco Pantani
Johan Museeuw

Gymnastics (and this is where I lose all credibility...):

Dmitri Bilozerchev
Maria Petrova
Vitaly Scherbo

Ice Hockey:

Igor Larionov
Alexander Mogilny
Sergei Fedorov


Sergi Bruguera
Pete Sampras
Boris Becker (a note on Boris the commentator. I watched some of the Tennis today on BBC instead of the danish broadcast and it was my first experience with Boris Becker the announcer and sadly it wasn't a positive experience.
On court Boris had the ability to always come up with an ace when most needed.
In the booth Boris has the ability to at all times say whatever at any given point is far and away the most obvious thing ever.
At first it was funny. But it was so inane that it quickly became annoying.

I blame the BBC of course. Boris is one of the most charismatic personalities ever to step on a tennis court as well an opinionated guy. He loves fun. He loves women. He lovs pokah. He loves grass. He loves Wimbledon!
BBC I urge you, get more out of Boris!

Maret Safin
Monica Seles
Yevgenij Kafelnikov
Goran Ivanicevic


Garry Kasparov

(The Stars of) Track and Field:

Said Aouita


Alan Mcmanus


Morten Frost


John Starks
Tim Duncan
Manu Ginobili
Greg Popovich

Formula 1:

Alain Prost


Dmitri Torgovanov


Alexander Karelin


Alexander Popov

The end

Wimbledon semi-final: Roddick beats Murray!

I wil admit that I didn't think Roddick would ever reach another grand slam final.

And in the post match interview a few hours ago, after brilliantly beating the much favored Andy Murray, he strongly hinted that following last season, he didn't even think so himself, but after deliberation with swimsuit-model-wife Brooklyn Decker, decided making a full commitment:

Q. You said when you came off the court that you weren't sure, it's been a little while since you thought you'd make a Grand Slam final. Did you ever really seriously doubt that you would be back here?

ANDY RODDICK: Oh, yeah, yeah. Last year after I played here, I mean, that was a hard, hard couple of weeks.

You know, Brook and I had a lot of talks on where I thought ‑‑ if I still thought I could play and at least be, you know, towards the top of the game. I definitely openly questioned it at that point. You know, then the rest of the year I was kind of hurt.

So this off‑season, we said, You know what, if you're not gonna be up there, let's at least not wonder. Let's prepare yourself and give yourself every opportunity.

You know, I did work real hard and, you know, was committed, and have been committed, you know, from everything to diet to sleep to everything. So, you know, I certainly gave myself every opportunity to succeed.

Q. Back to the conversation you had with your wife at the end of last year of whether you could play or not. What side did you take and what side did she take?

ANDY RODDICK: It was a year ago here. I was probably leaning towards not really playing that well. She didn't really know much about tennis, so she thought I was playing real great (laughter).

Q. And she convinced you?

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, she thought I looked cute in the shorts.

Part of that commitment was hiring coach Larry Stefanki who previously in my opinion quite clearly helped lift the games of extremely talented enigmas such as Marcello Rios and Fernando Gonzalez.

As well as an already very accomplished player like Yevgeny Kafelnikov at a time when he was going a little bit stale.
Stefanki tuned him back into winning tennis, resulting not least in a second grand slam.

During a great Australian Open interview by Mats Wilander this year I was so impressed with Stefanki's thoughts and comments about the work that he had done with Roddick that I thought it to be a possibility even that Roddick could upset Federer in their scheduled match there.
Which I might add is really saying something!

Federer of course once again blew Roddick off court but I still had Stefanki's words printed in my brain and thought there was a chance at least that Roddick could have a great year.
I will touch more upon what Stefanki said in my final's preview tomorrow, since a lot of it was what Roddick would need to do to have any chance against Roger.

But one of the things he said, and we all know that by now, was that he had Roddick lose some weight.
15 pounds is what is being reported.
He convinced Roddick that he was a "big body guy" and that he had to lose weight if he wanted to improve his movement.

In order to have any chance whatsoever of playing the great all-court game he managed today against Murray his movement had to be much improved and it really was, whether it was sideways or well timed forward movement to the net.

Improved movement probably also helped him getting in great position to Murray's still weakish 2nd serve, which he unusually for Roddick, effectively took advantage of.
The usual clumsy return errors just were not present in this match.

In the Wilander interview Stefanki was very open about it and said, what we all know, that Roddick's return game just had not been good in 3 or 4 years now and improving it was top priority. Job well done I say!

Another focus point was what he saw as nervous energy always coming from Roddick and how he thought that was something to work on as well.

Something like that is of course difficult bordering on pointless to try and tell from an outside observer's point of view, but with a grain of salt I will say, especially given the unique environment, that Roddick came across as more calm and collected than what we've seen often in the past.
No frantic walking around between points, the obsessive shirt pulling or general signs of impatience.
Just focus focus focus.

Then yesterday there was this interesting article on BBC SPORT. These are the most interesting parts:

BBC 5 Live's tennis pundit Jeff Tarango says the outcome could depend on how aggressive Roddick is with his returns and feels he must take a chance by going for a winner whenever he can.

"With the first serve, you have to give Roddick the tilt. Then again, Murray could have the more successful winning percentage because Roddick's returning isn't as good as Murray's. That will be the number one key factor, and it will be close.

"The second factor is the second serve return. You have to remember that Andy Roddick's second serves are around 120mph - Andy Murray's second serve right now is between 75 and 90mph.

"But we don't know if Roddick is going to be too nervous to go after the second serve on a regular occasion, or just see that thing as a big beach-ball and crush it.

"If Roddick completely crushes every second serve he sees - and he is capable of it - then Murray is in a lot of trouble. If he doesn't attack, or get the chance to, Murray has a huge advantage and can win easily."

They last clashed in Doha in January, when Murray easily came out on top 6-4 6-2.

The memory of that defeat led Stefanki to suggest on Wednesday that Roddick could try less aggressive tactics this time in a bid to upset the Scot's rhythm.

Tarango, however, feels Roddick must ignore that advice if he is to have any chance.

"I think that would be absolutely terrible coaching," added Tarango. "If Roddick plays less aggressively against Murray, Murray will work him round the court, keep him on the run and wear him out - then he won't be serving as well.

"If his coach told him that, that might have just cost him the championships."

Tarango believes Roddick is now a better overall player than he was when he was world number one and was particularly impressed with the way he came through his marathon five-set quarter-final win over Lleyton Hewitt on Wednesday.

"I saw something in the Hewitt match that I have been speaking about to Andy's brother John this week," the American added.

"He started hitting his backhand better than he's ever hit it in his life. He was turning his hip a lot, poking that shoulder down and walloping it - and that's really what pulled that match out for him.

"If he is able to keep that shot up against Murray then he has got a fantastic chance."

But Murray's form this year makes the world number three the favourite to progress and Tarango still believes he holds the edge.

"Roddick has the best first serve in the world but Murray serves a little bit smarter," he explained.

"He's also a little bit better in terms of scraping balls out, grinding points out and adapting his game. Andy Roddick is kind of a cookie-cutter player - every single point, he's playing the same.

"It's very difficult to predict how this one will go but I think Murray will edge it in four sets."

After especially the first set today it was tempting to take Tarango's rather harsh dismissal of Stefanki's call for patience and make fun of it.

In that first set through his improved movement, as well as the backhand Tarango is talking about, Roddick played patient, mixed it up and just didn't give Murray, the great defensive player, anything real to counter.
And by not playing overly agressive of course he greatly reduced his number of unforced errors.

Common sense, like Tarango says, would suggest that this wouldn't give Murray much trouble and that his superiour hands and backcourt game would take control and move the usually somewhat clumsy Roddick around almost at will.
But Roddick throughout was right with him and in control.
No doubt helped along by an 80+ 1st serve percentage but still, he stayed with him in most backcourt rallies. Even controlling a lot of them.

If you can blame Murray for anything this match it was probably not adjusting more quickly there, and not keep waiting for Roddick to move in on bad approach shots or try for low percentage winners, cause that just wasn't happening today and Murray probably in that first set should have looked more for the initiative.

To his credit Murray did play more agressive the rest of the match and to be honest there really wasn't much between them at all.
It's easy to say Roddick's serve was just too dominating but arguably Murray with his improved 1st serve gave Roddick as much trouble as Roddick gave him.

One biggie like I touched upon earlier, and to his credit Tarango predicted this, was Roddick's demolition of the Murray 2nd serve.
I remember Patrick McEnroe already on I think Roddick's first year on tour declaring Roddick's 2nd serve one of the best ever and the incredible bounce he gets on it out wide is still great to watch.

All in all this was probably Roddick's finest match since the Gilbert days and huge credit to Stefanki as well for the work he's done with a player who had gone very stale and unlike all his rivals disastrously not improved for a long time.

Today the improvement was there for all to see and it was great!

torsdag den 2. juli 2009


And hopefully this 2nd run will be much longer than the original.

The plan is to follow especially soccer/football season very close but until then I'm not sure what to write about exactly.

Any requests? Be it something current or something in the past?

Right now I am of course following the transfer market which is very busy to say the least, and I'm of course watching Wimbledon as well.

I'm definitely looking forward to the semi-finals tomorrow and plan to write about those.

There is also the Tour de France coming up and while last years edition, following a couple of years in a row where I was left totally disgusted, for the first time ever never really caught my attention, this year the news of Lance Armstrong sensationally coming back has me very much looking forward to see what will happen.

For starters I'm quite sure that he won't suck, he just wouldn't be coming back if he was, but hopefully he will be very good and him and Contador will end up in the kind of drama Le Tour hasn't quite seen since "upstart" Lemond edged legendary patron, and not least his own team mate, 5 time winner Bernard Hinault.

I'm also looking forward to see just how good Andy Schleck will be.

Years ago I predicted he was a future Indurain and at times he has shown that incredible power.
So even if the Contador/Armstrong drama doesn't quite materialize there is still a potential duel between Schleck and Contador that's better than anything the Tour has seen for quite some time.

All right so that's it for now. My favorite baseball team the Atlanta Braves are about to start their game against the Phillies. I plan to watch that, as usual till I fall asleep, but WHILE watching I want to make a list of all my all time favorite people in sports, use it as sort of a check list and then in the future one by one write about them. Cause they deserve it ldo!

And since Wimbledon is going on, here is one of them, my all time favorite tennis player, Boris Becker doing his thing: