Mal: Who can catch Federer? Look at Andy, Coria, Nadal and Henman. [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Mal: Who can catch Federer? Look at Andy, Coria, Nadal and Henman.

Tennis Fool
03-23-2004, 11:11 PM
Everyone else is chasing Federer

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By MaliVai Washington
Special to ESPN.com

Now that we are through the first major of the year and the first Tennis Masters Series event, it's pretty obvious who the dominant player has been: Roger Federer.

At the beginning of the season, one might have thought Andy Roddick had a strong foothold on that No. 1 spot, having finished 2003 as the top player. But when you're ranked in that upper echelon of players, if you're not winning titles, your ranking will drop. Roddick has not won a title since the U.S. Open.

Whereas Federer has proceeded to increase his record to 27-1 dating back to last year's Masters Cup. Right now, it seems like no one can beat Federer. Andre Agassi said it perfectly after his semifinal loss at the Pacific Life Open when he said that Federer is playing a level of tennis that no one is playing right now.

It's really going to be up to the other players, now that Federer has a 200-point lead in the ATP Champions Race. They need to really step up their games. From an American standpoint, that charge will be led by Roddick. After Roddick played so well last summer, it is a little surprising that he hasn't won a title since the Open, but it should only be a matter of time until he does.

Usually there are a handful of Americans among the picks, but now it's shifting to a lot of Europeans and South Americans. It's a pretty scary thought to think that Guillermo Coria from Argentina will someday play as well on hard courts as he does on European red clay. He's continuing to show -- with his performance last week at the Pacific Life Open -- that he is more than just a clay-court player. He always has had the ability, but he's starting to believe that he can. It's interesting to see a guy, 5-foot-9, controlling points against bigger hitters.

Another name that we're going to see a lot of this year is Rafael Nadal. A teenage Spaniard who has as much fire in his gut and confidence as any teenager I've ever seen. It's his task now to harness his energy and talent to win titles.

Most people don't have as much ability as he does now by the end of their career. And he's just starting.

Tim Henman's surging performance is a pleasant surprise. He won his first Masters title in Paris last year. He's the only player to beat Federer in the last four months. And he reached the final of the Pacific Life Open.

Henman's year might make us appreciate the skill of his coach, Paul Annacone. It likely wasn't too difficult to coach a guy as talented as Pete Sampras, who likely would have been successful regardless who was coaching him. But if Annacone can improve a player who has some unrealized potential, and dare I say, turn him into a Grand Slam champion, it will really show some expertise. Don't be surprised if this is Henman's biggest year of his career.

Another guy I have a huge amount of respect for, having sat courtside and watched two of his matches at this year's Australian Open, is David Nalbandian. I don't think American viewers appreciate how good Nalbandian is.

He's a very deceptive player in that he's one of the quickest players around the court. Deceptive because many times big hitters throw themselves into big forehands or serves, but Nalbandian is very graceful around the court and has hand-eye coordination almost as good as Agassi. Surprisingly, he's one of the most powerful players on tour. If he doesn't win a major this year, he'll surely win a Tennis Masters Series event on hard courts. If he doesn't win at the Nasdaq-100, he'll do it this summer in the North America swing. If you're ever going to bet and put your money on a sleeper, put it on Nalbandian.

It's difficult to talk about any tennis event without bringing up Agassi. He never seems to go away. I feel like I've been talking about Agassi for the past 15 years. Now, he's No. 3 in the world.

Agassi has a knack for realizing his limitations. He understands what he can and can't do. He understands exactly what he needs to do to prepare. He has his whole routine down to a science. Just imagine what Agassi could have accomplished if he'd had this routine down in the early 1990s.

Agassi poses so many problems for players because he rarely beats himself. He rarely succumbs to the pressures of a match. He has faced so many pressure situations that he's usually the one who prevails. There's no substitute for experience.

With Roddick and Agassi firmly positioned as the two top Americans, rounding out those top few spots are Mardy Fish and James Blake. This year is probably the biggest of Blake's career. This is the year he has to establish himself as an elite player. This is the year he has to turn his ranking slide around and start methodically moving up the rankings as he did in 2001-02. The worst thing that can happen to young players is to have a two or three-year period where their ranking stalls. Then you start to question and doubt your own abilities to move to the next level. For Blake, that next level is becoming a top-15 player.

For Fish, he just has to continue to do what he did in 2003. Last year, he established himself as this young player with a huge serve to be reckoned with. A lot of that confidence came with his victory in the relegation round of Davis Cup against Karol Kucera. It was no surprise that a few weeks later, Fish won his first career title in Stockholm. He just needs to continue to do more of the same, and soon we'll see him in the top 15.

However it shakes out, this year's Nasdaq-100 Open will be a great event.

MaliVai Washington, a tennis analyst for ESPN, reached the 1996 Wimbledon final.

Billabong
03-23-2004, 11:12 PM
Thanks for the article TF,
we'll see what will happen in Miami this week;)!

Deboogle!.
03-23-2004, 11:17 PM
Um.... more stupidity from Mal... he might as well get his facts right, d'oh.

Chloe le Bopper
03-23-2004, 11:22 PM
Roddick hasn't won a title since the US Open, and Andre is number 3... bunk, do you dare to dispute either of these claims? ;)

Deboogle!.
03-23-2004, 11:27 PM
Roddick hasn't won a title since the US Open, and Andre is number 3... bunk, do you dare to dispute either of these claims? ;)

And question the omnicient Mal? :bolt:

:lol:

Plus that's just the beginning of it. Why is it "scary" that Guille is getting so good on hardcourts? It's not scary, it's fantastic!

I don't think American viewers appreciate how good Nalbandian is.

So this is the problem... ESPN thinks they know all the American viewers. I've never been asked my opinion, has anyone else?

With Roddick and Agassi firmly positioned as the two top Americans, rounding out those top few spots are Mardy Fish and James Blake.

Stupid topic to begin with, but if he's going to bother how could he leave out Robby and Taylor? and Spadea, to be fair, as well.


..... that's just the beginning lol. He really does never cease to amaze!

MisterQ
03-23-2004, 11:30 PM
As the fisherman said, Mal is a dum-bass. What a load of carp.

Deboogle!.
03-23-2004, 11:31 PM
As the fisherman said, Mal is a dum-bass. What a load of carp.

:spit: :haha:

Q, the world would be such a boring place without you to liven it up!

TennisLurker
03-23-2004, 11:33 PM
You would expect an ex-tennis player to write something more insightful.

lalaland
03-23-2004, 11:39 PM
Emmm, so Hewitt, Safin and Ferrero no longer post any challenge in the top tennis world, while Fish and Blake are?

Fish got his confident from that Davis Cup Relegation match beating Kucera? Didn't Fish really break out during Cincy last year when he got into final and came so close to winning that?

And for Agassi rarely beating himself, well, tell that to AgassiFan.

For Nalbandian, lots of people tip him to win Aussie before he lost to Federer, so it wasn't that much of a unknown fact that David is good.

Tennis Fool
03-23-2004, 11:42 PM
Mal's not gonna mention Marat unless absolutely necessary, given this, what, two year anniversary :lol:

lalaland
03-23-2004, 11:43 PM
Can we do something to not let Mal get away with writing craps?

Havok
03-23-2004, 11:44 PM
:secret: I think Mal smokes some crack prior to this write-up

TennisLurker
03-23-2004, 11:50 PM
:secret: I think Mal smokes some crack prior to this write-up

I was thinking just the same :eek: , I bet he smokes some pot and then he starts writing.

Deboogle!.
03-23-2004, 11:51 PM
Mal is perpetually on crack lmfao

Tennis Fool
03-23-2004, 11:53 PM
Okaaay. Besides obvious errors, what about who he picks as those to watch this year, and about Andy's game slacking, and how Andre could have Pete's record if he'd been more serious in his youth?

Tennis Fool
03-23-2004, 11:54 PM
Okay, I admit. What tournament has Andy won since US Open :confused:

lalaland
03-23-2004, 11:57 PM
Okay, I admit. What tournament has Andy won since US Open :confused:

lol. Hint: think small, tournament in America.

Deboogle!.
03-23-2004, 11:57 PM
San Jose

Tennis Fool
03-23-2004, 11:58 PM
San Jose. Right? Wow, that went right past me for some reason.

Deboogle!.
03-24-2004, 12:04 AM
as for your other questions TF, I think it's probably safe to say Andre would have a few more AO titles if he'd played it earlier on. Beat Pete's record? Hard to say but it does seem likely that he'd have a few more. It is really impressive though that he is still playing with the young guys so well. Even when he loses, he is pulling out the best in them. And it's really fun to watch. But to say what could've or should've or would've.... Andre obviously needed to go through that time in his life to get where he is. If Andre had been more serious earlier on, maybe he wouldn't still be playing now? Who knows?

I agree with Mal about how important this year is for Blake, he's got to have a good year IMO. And I also agree that Mardy can keep moving up if he keeps having good results, but he's gotta get over some mental hurdles to do that. He's shown he can beat anyone on a given day but he still seems to have mental blocks here and there that are hindering him.

As for Andy well I've talked about this ad nauseum, but in short... Compared to how he did to this point last year he's about the same. Aside from his very first tournament of the season and when he was injured, his losses have been very close, and hopefully have things he can take away from them and learn and grow from.

The only tournament he played where his results were disappointing for me was Scottsdale, I think he should have won there. And the fact that he was willing to go to Indian Wells and add a few radical changes to his game is by far more encouraging for the long-term of his career than anything else I can think of. I'm not worried, but he's really gotta step it up in Miami, he has a draw where he should make the semis and he's gotta start winning the close matches again like he did last summer.

Deboogle!.
03-24-2004, 12:05 AM
San Jose. Right? Wow, that went right past me for some reason.

Well don't feel badly, you're in good company with Mal :p

Chloe le Bopper
03-24-2004, 12:40 AM
Plus that's just the beginning of it. Why is it "scary" that Guille is getting so good on hardcourts? It's not scary, it's fantastic!

Some of us even saw it coming, Mal :cool:

So this is the problem... ESPN thinks they know all the American viewers. I've never been asked my opinion, has anyone else?

Heh. I think that maybe he's thinking that most American viewers wouldn't have heard of him due to ESPNs allergy to foreigners. That doesn't mean that he's correct, but I would be surprised if a lot of people knew who Nalbandian was. I'm in Canada, but we get a lot of a American TV, and a few of my friends know Roddick by name but haven't the faintest clue who Nalbandian is.

J. Corwin
03-24-2004, 01:45 AM
I think Mal just outdid himself here. :p

Fumus
03-24-2004, 02:48 AM
Mal is the man!! :haha: He's always the man in the stands. Lets go down to Mal, "Yea Cliff, looks like Roddick is going to have to keep the ball in bounds if he wants to win, back to you!"

Deboogle!.
03-24-2004, 02:54 AM
Well Fumus have you ever listened to him try to do REAL commentary????? :scared: :bolt: *hits mute button*

Fumus
03-24-2004, 02:57 AM
awww...don't tell them my real name...you'll break my cover

haha that Davis Cup nightmare...yea

Deboogle!.
03-24-2004, 02:58 AM
Oopsssssssssssssssssss :o I edited it, maybe no one saw???? :tape:

and yes, Davis Cup.... I actually YEARN for PMac!!!!!!!! *shudder*

Fumus
03-24-2004, 02:59 AM
wow he reached the wimbly final did every player catch a whooping cough that year?

Fumus
03-24-2004, 03:02 AM
Oopsssssssssssssssssss :o I edited it, maybe no one saw???? :tape:

and yes, Davis Cup.... I actually YEARN for PMac!!!!!!!! *shudder*

I think Pmac is sooo annoying..."the Dropper" "The Ripper" "Eye Dropper" "The Topper" "The Smasher" etc..

shut up!!

Deboogle!.
03-24-2004, 03:20 AM
Yes his "PMacisms" are obnoxious but at least he knows something about tennis and he's not boring as hell. Mal is just dumbbbbbbbbbb lol

TennisLurker
03-24-2004, 03:22 AM
Is Courier good?
He always looked like an intelligent guy.

Deboogle!.
03-24-2004, 03:25 AM
Definitely.... IMO probably the best one.

heya
03-24-2004, 06:28 AM
2-faced Pmac and Mal "Carlos Costa" have to rehearse their
lines before commenting. Otherwise, their charm and wit would be missed by home viewers.

Dirk
03-24-2004, 07:10 AM
Martina N is great too. Jim is cool but only does Wimbly and the Open. They should have him do their RG coverage after all he is the only USA guy to win it twice in a long time so he would know what he is talking about.

J. Corwin
03-24-2004, 07:11 AM
Mal is a monotonous robot when commentating.

Pea
03-24-2004, 07:19 AM
I wonder if they use cuecards on him during commentary.:o

Kiara
03-24-2004, 11:08 AM
another pearl from Mal and he left Marat out ...hehe what a shocker! :eek:

WyveN
03-24-2004, 11:14 AM
And another theory:

I think everyone will agree that the quality of men's tennis is far better, i.e to watch tennis at its best you watch the top males.
Therefore if women's tennis is not tennis at its peak PLUS there are no rivalries then reasons for watching are not very appealing.

Henin is extremely talented but at the moment no one can even give her a challange so we are not even seeing her at her peak as opposed to Roger who still has to battle sometimes.

star
03-24-2004, 12:30 PM
I think Pmac is sooo annoying..."the Dropper" "The Ripper" "Eye Dropper" "The Topper" "The Smasher" etc..

shut up!!

:worship:

Exactly what I think!!

Sjengster
03-24-2004, 04:18 PM
Methinks Wyven has his threads confused a little...

Pea
03-24-2004, 05:32 PM
LMAO sjengster. Shall we direct him in the right direction?:tape:

Leo
03-24-2004, 06:32 PM
2-faced Pmac and Mal "Carlos Costa" have to rehearse their
lines before commenting. Otherwise, their charm and wit would be missed by home viewers.

There was a player on the tour named Carlos Costa. No relation to Albert.

tangerine_dream
03-24-2004, 08:29 PM
ESPN needs to bring back Jim Courier and Johnny Mac as commentators. :worship:

vene
03-24-2004, 08:31 PM
Yeah, I agree. What happened? they can't afford to pay Johnny Mac's rates?

Kiara
03-24-2004, 08:34 PM
Sorry, but where did JMac go? cbs?

J. Corwin
03-24-2004, 08:54 PM
JMac has moved up and beyond the realm of ESPN. ;)

Deboogle!.
03-24-2004, 09:06 PM
well I know during the AO, Johnny Mac always works for the Australian station... he does the USO, but that's not on ESPN, that's on USA and CBS... I don't know 'bout Wimby or RG

vene
03-24-2004, 09:12 PM
He used to do Wimby, I'm not sure about RG

J. Corwin
03-24-2004, 09:56 PM
He does Wimby and I believe RG also.

Leo
03-25-2004, 06:24 PM
He does Wimbledon and Roland Garros on NBC, the US Open on USA Network, and the Aussie Open on Channel 7 in Oz.