Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mowing them down

The last man standing at the Queens Championships was someone I didn't expect to see taking a bite out of the trophy: Rafael Nadal. Not only did he win his first grass-court title (fresh off the dirt, mind you), but his feat was more impressive than the premier grasser of his generation, Roger Federer, who took Halle.

In Nadal's final three matches, he beat two of the biggest bombers out there—Ivo Karlovic and Andy Roddick—and probably the second-most versatile player, Novak Djokovic, taking him out in straights. It's been kind of tough for me to accept the versatility Nadal has in his own game, but I think this win squashes any doubts I had in me.

Federer did well winning Halle, but I think the level of the players there was totally different from that at the Artois Championships. I guess it doesn't matter for him who he plays on grass or where, as seen by his millionth match win on the turf in a row. He took out Phil Kohlschreiber pretty easily, which was to be expected after Phil beat James Blake yesterday. Personally, I'm a Blake fan, but I wonder about him sometime. I've said this time and again: There's so many matches he loses against guys that are so far below him in the rankings. He just can't be losing to guys like Kohlschreiber at certain stages in tournaments.

As far as R-Fed goes, I know there's been some wondering as to how that French loss will affect him. Personally, I don't think it will. I don't think he needed this title win at Halle for "a confidence boost" or anything like that. Don't worry about him, he's a-ok.

On the women's side, at the DFS Classic, the kid sister in the Bondarenko bunch, Kateryna, won her first career title, taking out Yanina Wickmayer that ended as tight as a match can end: the third-set tiebreak.

There were some clay-court straggling tournaments being played this week as well: Nikolay Davydenko won in Warsaw, Poland, and Maria Kirilenko won in Barcelona, Spain. Now, I can see Davydenko getting in some extra dirty work: He likes to play and despite making the fourth round at Wimbledon last year, he's probably the least grass-playing-capable member of the top 10. But Kirilenko, I just don't get it. It's obvious she can ball; shouldn't she have been playing a grass-court warmup? She's had pretty lousy results at Wimbledon, but isn't she still young enough to try and reverse that?

(Photo: Getty Images)

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