Was it just a year ago? ATP
Was It Just a Year Ago? - Men
One Year Ago on the ATP:
October 13: Madrid - First Round
Alex Corretja (WC) def. Rafael Nadal (WC) 6-2 3-6 6-4
At the time, we said, "Will we see a bigger surprise at Madrid this year? Don't bet on it. Let's try to put this in perspective. Alex Corretja started this year with a Top 20 ranking (meaning that he could get into any old event he wanted, and get seeded at a lot of them) and a big name that helped intimidate opponents. And he was Top 20 as recently as Roland Garros; it's not as if he quickly lost his ranking advantage. Whereas Nadal started the year with nothing -- two ATP matches, plus one qualifying match; he hadn't even played a significant number of Challengers (just two in 2002)! But Nadal came in #66 in the ATP Race (and would be higher if Challenger points counted), while Corretja is #107 and has seen his ranking fall to #127. And things have been getting worse rather than better for him lately. But the psychology of this match, at least, is interesting: Nadal grew up watching Corretja, and of course both players are Spaniards playing before a Spanish audience. That surely plays into things somehow. It's interesting to note that Corretja has only eight wins this year -- and two of them are over Nadal. In fact, Nadal is the second highest-ranked player Corretja has beaten this year (Nadal is #49; the only higher-ranked player Corretja has beaten was then-#46 Jose Acasuso at Indian Wells). Afterward, Corretja talked about his (lack of) plans for retirement and his future ambitions: 'Right now I'm working to get to the top again.... I haven't thought about retiring. I hope not to think about that for a while, three or four years.' Unfortunately, the win doesn't do Corretja a bit of good as far as his ranking is concerned; he reached the third round last year, so he needs another win just to defend his points. But it has to be a big relief: He won another match! Which has a secondary benefit as well: Not only does he come away with a win, but he'll get to play two matches in a week, which is something he hasn't been able to do for a long time. The match practice can only help." Corretja did revive a little at the end of this year -- enough to push toward the Top 100 again. But there is no sign that he is ready to return to the top of the sport; this year, he's back to struggling -- though he won his opening match this week also.
October 14: Madrid - First Round
David Ferrer (Q) def. Mikhail Youzhny 1-6 6-4 6-4
At the time, we said, "David Ferrer could get used to this indoor stuff.... When Ferrer arrived at the ATP level a year and a half ago, he was of course an all-clay player. His record last year was striking: On clay in 2002, he went 10-5 with a title (plus some qualifying wins). On other surfaces, he went 0-2 (plus a qualifying loss and no qualifying wins). But he has had a pretty miserable time on clay since Roland Garros (which is why his ranking has gone to the dogs), and he started winning indoors.... Not only did he qualify for Madrid... but he's now beaten a Top 30 player. Or, rather, a former Top 30 player. This is a bad loss for Youzhny, who has been very inconsistent in the last few weeks coming off of injury. He had 75 points to defend -- not a lot, really, but significant for a player ranked where Youzhny was. He came in ranked #29. This is going to drop him to no better than #37. As for Ferrer, he came in ranked #72 -- a distinct improvement from his #82 ranking of just two weeks ago, but still below his peak of #55. He happens to be at a spot in the rankings where it's tough to climb. Still, he should gain two or three rankings spots. And, perhaps, remind the Spanish that they have good young players whose names aren't Nadal or Ferrero." Interestingly, Ferrer had another good indoor result this year, at Lyon. But he hasn't really improved his overall results in the past year; he seems to have settled down to be just another mid-level scrambler.
October 15: Madrid - Second Round
Juan Carlos Ferrero def. Wayne Ferreira 6-3 2-6 7-6(7-4)
At the time, we said, "On a day when Wayne Ferreira was quoted as saying he would retire after the 2004 season, he very nearly retired the #1 player in the world. Had this not been Spain, he might have managed it. Ferreira was up two breaks in the third (5-2), and served for the match.... He made it to match point at 40-15. But the crowd had a little bit to say about that; observers thought the crowd noise interfered with his serving; he double-faulted away one of his chances.... Whatever the explanation, Ferrero broke to get back on serve. And made it to a tiebreak, which he won. And that's quite big, because Ferrero finds himself with not just the #1 but the #2 ranking on the line. Ferrero is currently 90 points behind Andy Roddick in safe points, which means that he has to reach at least the semifinal to be #1. But had he lost, he could have ended up behind not only Roddick but also Roger Federer. Indeed, he still might. But he's at least seen to it that Federer has to win Madrid to overtake him. Had Ferreira won this, it might have put him into the Top 25. Instead, the best he can do is remain at his current #28. Still not too bad for a guy who is so close to retirement age." A year later, Ferreira is retired. Ferrero -- well, he's playing, but he has all these points to defend....
October 16: Madrid - Third Round
Nicolas Massu def. Andy Roddick (2) 7-6(7-2) 6-2
At the time, we said, "And for Juan Carlos Ferrero, there was hope. This result once again raises interesting questions about Andy Roddick. On outdoor hardcourt, he was nearly unbeatable. Indoor hardcourt would seem, if anything, only to help him.... Except, maybe, it wouldn't. Because Roddick's serve can hardly get better. So maybe the indoor air helped Nicolas Massu's serve more. Or maybe Roddick just wasn't ready.... It was a most un-Roddick-like performance. And it of course set up interesting possibilities. It gave Juan Carlos Ferrero -- who had not played at the time Roddick lost -- a chance to stay #1. Ferrero won his match against Felix Mantilla, and that means he needs only one more victory... to keep the top spot. In addition, Roddick's loss gave Roger Federer, who beat Mardy Fish, a new shot of hope in the contest for the year-end top spot. And finally, of course, the win was very big for Massu, who now looks almost certain to break into the Top 20. And he will face another unseeded player (Juan Ignacio Chela) in the quarterfinal, and the top seed he could face in the semifinal is Sebastien Grosjean. If Massu wins that next match, he will be #15 or #16. Win the one after that, and he might be close to the Top Ten. Plus, if the Chilean can beat Roddick on a great Roddick surface, what might he do on clay next year?" The answer is, of course, hit the Top Ten (though it took him far too long) and win the Olympics. But he hasn't done much since, and now he'll be seeing big points come off.
October 19: Madrid - Final
Juan Carlos Ferrero (1) def. Nicolas Massu 6-3 6-4 6-3
At the time, we said, "College Freshman Composition classes aren't all the same, but most of them do feature at least one or two general-purpose tortures in the form of writing exercises. The author's professor was in love with a thing called the Five Sentence, Five Paragraph essay -- which, admittedly, forced a very balanced approach to writing: A first paragraph of five sentences summarizing what you wanted to say, then four additional paragraphs detailing the four points you made in sentences two through five of the first paragraph. Call it 'Best of Five as Torture.' Orderly it was. Exciting it was not. In a recent test of newspaper articles, for instance, the author found that some 75% of entertainment features -- movie reviews, sports stories, etc. -- started with a single sentence giving a sort of cute summary of what happened. In tennis, there are some folks who like the nice, balanced five-set match. But Juan Carlos Ferrero likes to get straight to the point: He broke in the first game of each set (and twice in other games). And the point was fairly historic. Ferrero had already clinched the #1 ranking when he reached the semifinal. But winning makes that ranking much stronger; until now, there was some risk of him losing the top spat at Basel. He also takes the #1 spot in the Race -- just barely, but he has it. And, because the Race is so close, that guarantees that they year-end top spot will be settled at the Masters Cup. And Ferrero suddenly looks like a strong candidate to do things there.... Clearly he is turning into an all-around player. As is Massu, for that matter. His titles are still confined to clay, but this is as good a result as any old optional title. The rankings payoff is certainly big. He came in at #21. He comes out at #13 -- obviously a career high. Though his Race standing is rather lower: He's #15, and has no real chance at the Masters Cup. This is because some of his points come from Challengers, which don't count in the Race. It's unlikely that he will have to worry about that next year. And that means exciting things for tennis. Even if we used five paragraphs to say it." A year later, Massu has won away from clay. The real worry, though, is what this does to Ferrero, who obviously improved his resume here but now sees these points coming off.
Five Years Ago: Mark this week with an "R": The week's two titles were won by Greg Rusedski and Marcelo Rios. It was perhaps especially big for the latter, who had already started on his round of injuries; Singapore, his third title of the year, was enough to keep him in the Top Ten for one last year.
Ten Years Ago: This week also featured two winners, Goran Ivanisevic in Tokyo and MaliVai Washington at Ostrava. It was perhaps a bigger deal for Washington, who had only four career titles; this was #3, and his first in two years; he would have to wait another two years for his last, though he would have two finals in 1995 and one very, very big one in 1996....
Q. When you've played as few matches as you have over the last two, three months, did you ever lack motivation to go out and practice?
ANDY RODDICK: Motivation? No. I enjoy what I do. I enjoy what I do. You know, I've never been one to, you know, blow off practice or, you know, do anything like that.
You know, I'd be lying if I said I'm looking forward to practicing the next two days as opposed to playing here. That part is gonna suck...(2010 Aegon Championships)