It was a packed quarterfinal day in Cincinnati. Three of the Big Four lost their matches, while Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych, Rafael Nadal, and John Isner all advanced to the semifinals. On the women’s side, Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams, and Victoria Azarenka joined Li Na, who advanced by walkover, in the semis.
For me, the day started out with Del Potro on Center Court. The Argentinian took on surprise quarterfinalist (and qualifier) Dmitry Tursunov, winning in three sets.
With his nice run in Cincinnati, Tursunov will enter the top 40 when the new rankings come out.
Next, John Isner took on World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, and pulled off the upset in three sets. It was a rough match from Djokovic, who hit too many errors and couldn’t convert on his chances. But it’s amazing what a difference playing in the States can make for Isner, who looked like he had lost the ability to play tennis just a few months ago.
I love taking photos of Novak Djokovic playing tennis — his defense is unreal.
Djokovic was frustrated by Isner’s strong serving.
On Grandstand, Andy Murray went out meekly in straight sets to Tomas Berdych, an opponent who has always given him trouble.
I captured Berdych’s ball toss at its apex.
Center Court filled up for the big attraction, the Fedal match. I’ll be honest: after watching Roger Federer yesterday, I assumed this would be 6-1, 6-2 blowout for Nadal, or something similar. I was entirely unprepared for the high level of tennis Federer produced, especially in the first set. He couldn’t sustain it for the whole match, but it was a good reminder to everyone that he can still play tennis. Maybe a good reminder to himself that he can still play tennis.
Two things struck me while watching the match:
The first was that this match was relatively unimportant for Nadal, in terms of having anything to prove. He’s never played well in Cincinnati. He’s beaten Federer so many times. There are a lot of reasons why the match wasn’t especially significant for him. On the opposite side, though, for Federer, this match felt much more important. If he had lost badly, his already low confidence could dip even further. If he won, he would’ve been able to fight the general belief that his best days are behind him. The result that actually happened? I’m not sure how Federer will take it.
It also occurred to me that the reason Federer is still out there playing tennis is because he can still beat the best players in the world on any given day. If things had gone just slightly different, Federer could’ve won the match tonight against the hottest player on the ATP Tour, even when his form is at an all-time low. As long as he believes he can do that, he’ll probably keep his career going.
Stressful times for Mirka:
I love watching Rafa’s face when he hits a serve. There’s the pre-serve snarl:
And the follow-through with so much intensity.
Quotes of the day:
Rafael Nadal on Federer: “The [current] ranking means that probably he didn’t play very well during a lot of moments on the season. But if he plays the way that he played tonight, his ranking going to be much higher in not a long period of time. So for example, in my opinion, he played a very bad match yesterday. I saw him play yesterday with a lot of mistakes, and today he was on court with a different tactic, with a different level of tennis. So if he is able to play this way and I’m sure he will be able to do it, I see his ranking is going to be higher at the end of the season.”
Roger Federer: “At the end, I think Rafa’s confidence and the way he’s playing at the moment got him through. So for me, I think it was a good step in the right direction. My mind’s already totally geared into what I’m going to do tomorrow, next day, and the following day, and, you know, looking ahead at the US Open.”
Q: “You said after the last match that one of the things that you wanted out of this week was to get information about your game and maybe about your body going into the US Open. What did you kind of get out of this match in terms of that?”
Federer: “Well, out of the tournament, I know my body’s fine and my mind’s okay, so that’s two good things looking ahead.”
“Then definitely getting information in terms of tactics, in terms of point for point mentality, it’s something that’s been really difficult to do for the last sort of few months for me. Either I won easily, and then I have some reason I didn’t play well in a match at all and I ended up losing. I don’t want to say without any chances because I rarely lose without having any chances at all, but it’s good for me to sort of have three tough matches here.”
“Even the Kohlschreiber match I had to tough it out in the second set. He had set point eventually, goes down a break, came back in that. And against Tommy, the situation was really difficult. Came back in that as well, played well when it mattered. And then tonight again it wasn’t a bad performance, so I can definitely take more things away from this week than I could for the last sort of three months. So I’m happy about that. That sets it up nicely for me for New York, I think.”
Federer on slipping in the rankings: “It doesn’t change anything for the US Open. For after that, as long as you’re either in the top 4 or the top 8, I think at this point that’s what matters. Or you’re World No. 1. So rankings at this point anyway is not what leads me. It’s about getting my game back on track, and that’s what I’m doing well. So that’s what’s exciting right now, not the rankings really.”
Q: Roger, can you talk a little bit about some of what your charitable foundation is doing around the world at this point?
Federer (sarcastically): Yeah, sure. It’s a good time to do that.
Serena Williams: “I definitely haven’t felt good all week, so surprised I’m still in the event, to be honest. I’m still alive, and that’s what matters.”
Williams: “It’s important to have fun on the court, and I feel like, for me, it’s a job and this is what I do. But today I was out there thinking, whether I win or lose, I’m playing tennis. I’m out here and I’m having a good time. Every moment is really cool to be able to do that.”
John Isner: “My record in the U.S. compared to outside the U.S. is shockingly different. I’ll take it any way I can get it. These are very fun moments.”
Isner: “It’s not rocket science, what I do.”
Novak Djokovic: “I just played a very bad match overall. Terrible match. From beginning to end, except the start of the second set, I was just a different player totally.”
Q: “There have been a couple of reports that you’re dealing with some left wrist issues again. Is that the case?”
Juan Martin del Potro: “Yeah, it’s bother me a little bit, but not too much. Trying to play a slices and play different shots in this tournament before the US Open to see how different I can play against the top guys or doing different things. I’m okay. My knee is okay too, and that’s important looking forward to New York.”
Q: “Is that kind of similar to what you were going through in Indian Wells, or is it maybe less severe?”
Del Potro: “Yes, something similar, but nothing dangerous. I’m always in contact with my doctor; he’s taking care of me all the time. I’m a lucky guy now.”