Bring Your Popcorn

Will be just like that tomorrow

Photo: Yahoo! Images

 

 

I’m no marketing genius, but I seriously think Indian Wells tournie organization should sell popcorn before tomorrow’s men’s final between Novak Djokovic, the no.2-to be, and the only man currently ranked ahead of him, Rafa Nadal (Rafa, the monster, leads the H2H, 16-7, with five of these wins coming in finals).

It doesn’t need to be something fancy or expensive. Only three buckets, red ones, like those you can buy in the cinema. Two sizes, maybe. One for couples, one for those who will watch by themselves. And, oh, a third size, for children – and this could be ornamented with pictures from Indian Wells’ previous editions, like a celebrating Chang or Federer lifting all the trophies of his three-peat.

Yes, they should totally go ahead with that. And the players should walk onto the court just like it happens at the World Tour Finals. Ok, Indian Wells is not played on an indoor court, like in the O2 Arena, but this is America, find a way. There should be spotlights and all the stuff.

And why? Well, because this is the more anticipated match of the year – and we’re less than four months into 2011. Squaring off, like two boxers, the no.1, who’s always at an outstanding level (Nadal compiled over 12,600 points in the last 52 weeks – and this can’t be legal), despite having an ill-induced fall to Davydenko at his first event of ’11 and an injury to once again deny him something further than the quarters at the first Major of the year, and, in the red corner, the challenger, who is showing some heavyweight skills in this new decade, and is yet to be beaten.

Tennis is a psychological game. And even though nowadays everybody is friends to each other, things are different when they are on the courts all around the globe, only them, their racquet bags and thousands of fans in the stands.

So, if Nole is making a new statement every match he wins – like when he won the Australian Open. Was a clear message: “I’m here to stop Fedal”. Or when he clinched the third straight title at Dubai. Wasn’t that something like “Meh. The ‘Fed’ part of it ain’t match anymore. Bring on the Spaniard”? And the bagels, breadsticks, cakewalks he had at Indian Wells, anything but a proud Nole advertising his fitness? “Heat can’t beat anymore. Neither heat or Golubev, Troicki, Gulbis, Gasquet… I’m starting to yawn”. Finally, today’s semifinal win over Federer can not be the last. Even though he clearly said, when all was said and done, and he hit his chest, shouting come ons all around, “This is getting ugly for the Swiss. Three in a ro-wow. I’m the number two and the number one better watch out. Bring on the steak!”.

It can’t be the last because Nole must survive the final test. The final test and Rafael Nadal – the Wonder Kid from Manacor (Can I call him that way? Will do it anyway. Have already seen too many stupid nicknames… plus, how many people will actually read this?) – is also up to some statements. He had a slow start tomorrow, got broken the first time he served, but slowly got into it, and was too much for nearly back to top-50 Del Potro – some kind of nemesis, who had won their last three meetings, including a triple-2 at the US Open two season ago. Nadal has a physical style, not so classy as Federer, but even haters probably shift on their seats when he reaches those impossible balls half a second before they double-bounce and hit a winner that shatters his opponent’s confidence.

Confidence not an issue. For none of them. Nadal’s mentally strong as…don’t wanna say rock. Like stainless steel. Can you break stainless steel? Or diamonds. Yeah, Nadal can be compared to a diamond – tough, rare, unbreakable, and it’s hard to find a girl who doesn’t like. And Nole, well, he showed all this confidence today, even though it was accompanied by some shakiness – in a given moment of the second set, Nole started hitting UFEs, struggled to hold serve and got broken twice. But this, you all know, because you probably watched the match. You also know Djokovic got through all of it, and then counted with a not common shakiness by Federer’s part to win the third set and seal his way to the final.

To be honest with you, prior to the semifinals, I thought whoever won the lower half would get the title. But after watching Rafa and Nole, I tend to think Nadal is the favorite. OF COURSE, a blog is for personal opinions, but I’m not THAT famous yet – and not sure I will ever be – so I need readers who are both Nadal and Djokovic fans. That said, won’t tell my preferences – even though all of you who follow me on Twitter will discover that tomorrow.

Closing it, a curious fact – or useless stat, you choose. Djokovic’s 17-0 kickstart is the best since Federer’s 16-0 in 2006. After recording sixteen wins, and winning two tournaments, one in the Middle East, and the Australian Openjust like Nole this year – Federer played Nadal in his third final of the year (sounds familiar already?) and fell. Nadal has also won the last two Indian Wells played in odd years (2007 and 2009 – defeating Djokovic himself in the first) and holds a 5-0 record in finals vs. Djokovic. Also, a last one: Djokovic never beat Nadal in a match he lost a set – all his seven wins came in straight sets and on hard courts.

A key stat for this final: the winner of the first set won all the titles since 2000, and only once in this span the Indian Wells final went to three: it was in ’08, when Djokovic outlasted Mardy Fish.

 

The preview part of it ends now. Will present you some stats from both Nadal and Nole😉

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Rafael Nadal final stats

Finals this year: Indian Wells (v. Djokovic)

Finals in 2010: Doha (l. to Davydenko), Monte Carlo (d. Verdasco), Rome (d. Ferrer), Madrid (d. Federer), Roland Garros (d. Soderling), Wimbledon (d. Berdych), US Open (d. Djokovic), Tokyo (d. Monfils), Masters (l. to Federer)

Career finals: 43-13 – 11-9 on Hard

 

Vs. lower ranked players: 31-9

1- Sopot-04 – d. Acasuso

2- Costa do Sauípe-05 – d. Martin

3- Acapulco-05 – d. Montañes

4- Barcelona-05 – d. Ferrero

5- Roma-05 – d. Coria

6- Roland Garros-05 – d. Puerta

7- Bastad-05 – d. Berdych

8- Stuttgart-05 – d. Gaudio

9- Canada-05 – d. Agassi

10- Beijing-05 – d. Coria

11- Madrid-05 – d. Ljubicic

12- Barcelona-06 – d. Robredo

13- Indian Wells-07 – d. Djokovic

14- Barcelona-07 – d. Cañas

15- Rome-07 – d. Gonzalez

16- Stuttgart-07 – d. Wawrinka

17- Barcelona-08 – d. Ferrer

18- Queen’s-08 – d. Djokovic

19- Canada-08 – d. Kiefer

20- Beijing Olympics-08 – d. Gonzalez

21- Australian Open-09 – d. Federer

22- Indian Wells-09 – d. Murray

23- Monte Carlo-09 – d. Djokovic

24- Barcelona-09 – d. Ferrer

25- Rome-09 – d. Djokovic

26- Monte Carlo-10 – d. Verdasco

27- Rome-10 – d. Ferrer

28- Roland Garros-10 – d. Soderling

29- Wimbledon-10 – d. Berdych

30- US Open-10 – d. Djokovic

31- Tokyo-10 – d. Monfils

 

1- Auckland-04 – l. to Hrbaty

2- Paris-07 – l. to Nalbandián

3- Chennai-08 – l. to Youzhny

4- Miami-08 – l. to Davydenko

5- Rotterdam-09 – l. to Murray

6- Madrid-09 – l. to Federer

7- Shangai-09 – l. to Davydenko

8- Doha-10 – l. to Davydenko

9- Masters Cup-10 – l. to Federer

Nadal reaches his 25th Masters final – has a 18-6 record, and his 18 titles stand alone as the record since this category of event was created, in 1990. Nadal holds the record since winning Madrid, over Roger Federer, last year.

Indian Wells:

His first Hard Court Masters final since Shangai-09 – l. to Davydenko (to whom lost two finals, tied with Federer for most)

– 3rd final there – tying Agassi (90/95/2001), Chang (92/93/98), Sampras (94/95/2001), Federer (04/05/06), Djokovic (07/08/11) and Hewitt (2002/03/05) for most.

– 5th Masters final in the USA – 2 for 2 at Indian Wells, 2-time Miami runner-up.

– 6th time Spain is represented in the final of Indian Wells – 2nd most; now accounts for exactly half of USA appearances (All-American 95 and 2001 finals count as two, not four).

– Indian Wells also the last Hard Court Masters event won by Nadal – in 2009

– A third title would tie him with Chang and Federer for most since ’87.

Career:

– 44th tournament would tie him with Thomas Muster for 2nd most among actives, 23 behind Federer.

 

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Novak Djokovic final stats

Finals this year: Australian Open (d. Murray), Dubai (d. Federer), Indian Wells (v. Nadal)

Finals in 2010: Dubai (d. Youzhny), US Open (l. to Nadal), Beijing (d. Ferrer), Basel (l. to Federer). Record: 2-2, all on hard

Career finals record: 20-13 – 16-8 on Hard

 

Vs. higher ranked players: 3-8

1- Canada-07 – d. Federer

2- Basel-09 – d. Federer

3- Dubai-11 – d. Federer

 

1- Indian Wells-07 – l. to Nadal

2- US Open-07 – l. to Federer

3- Queen’s-08 – l. to Nadal

4- Monte Carlo-09 – l. to Nadal

5- Rome-09 – l. to Nadal

6- Cincinnati-09 – l. to Federer

7- US Open-10 – l. to Nadal

8- Basel-10 – l. to Federer

 

Novak Djokovic reaches his 12th Masters final – and will try to even the record; also his first final appearance in exactly one full season – last got there in Paris, the last Masters of ’09 season; absent during entire 2010. Djokovic will also try to win a Masters more than once for the first time – all his five titles came in different cities – Indian Wells, Miami, Paris, Rome and Montreal.

– Has a 4-4 record in finals at hard court Masters, 2-4 in the United States.

– 21st title would untie him with Davydenko, putting him as no.6 with most titles among actives (Federer, Muster, Nadal, Roddick and Hewitt).

– Tries to win a final vs. Nadal for the first time.

– 17-0 start of year a ATP best in the last five years.

– Can join Agassi as the only players to have won two Indian Wells title after losing their first final there.

 

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Head to head:

– Nadal leads the overall, 16-7;

– Rafa can also win three-straight vs. Nole for a 4th time – did it in Rome-Roland Garros-Wimbledon in 2007, Hamburg-Roland Garros-Queen’s in 2008 and the record of the match up, five straight starting in Hamburg-08 and finishing at Madrid-09.

– Nole leads the Hard Court H2H, 7-5.

They never played before quarterfinals (but played twice in the round robin of Masters Cup)

Third Indian Wells meeting – Nadal won the finals in ’07, but Djokovic returned the favor in 2008 semifinals.

– Will play for the 7th time in the USA – Djokovic leads, 4-2, but Nadal won the most important US meeting: US Open final last year.

About Pete S. Liguori
Pete was born in São Paulo, Brasil. Loves sports - pigskin fanatic, tennis lover. One of his most famous quotes is "I'm no Tolstoi, but I love the Dallas Cowboys" His favorite quote of all time is "I'll keep playing", unknown author.

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