Men's Semi-finals Preview
by Sandra Harwitt|
Rafael Nadal (Spain) v Roger Federer (Switzerland) – In case you’re wondering, there is a tennis god. How do we know? We are being rewarded with the 23rd installment of the Rafa and Rog show right here in a Friday night semi-final at the Sony Ericsson Open. For a brief time on Thursday night, it looked like Nadal was in trouble against Thomas Berdych in the quarter-final, but he got his act together and kept things according to plan. Nadal is No. 1 these days, although he’s still looking for his first title of the year. In contrast, Federer is now at No. 3, bumped down by the red-hot Novak Djokovic, who beat Federer the three times he’s lost this season. Federer, however, has been in the winner’s circle this season, taking the honors in Doha with a win over Nikolay Davydenko. Federer will be better rested going into Friday night as his Thursday afternoon match lasted all of seven minutes when Gilles Simon’s sore neck sent him packing with Fed ahead 3-0. In contrast, Nadal went three with Berdych. Federer’s won this title twice, but Nadal is still in the hunt for his first Miami trophy. That said, Nadal brings his best to the court when facing Federer, whether it be on hard courts, grass or clay. The Spaniard now boasts a 14-8 winning record over Federer. However, the Swiss won their last encounter at the Barclay’s ATP World Tour Finals at the end of last year. This match will be tight, but it will be Rafael who rules.
Novak Djokovic (Serbia) v Mardy Fish (United States) – Mardy Fish comes into this semi-final match with a new air of importance – he’s now the top-ranked American man on the ATP tour computer. Fish needs that distinction to work in his favor and give him some extra confidence as he’s playing the hottest player on tour at the moment. There are not too many players that get to April 1st without having lost a match during the year. No, this is not an April Fool’s joke; it’s true. Djokovic has won every tournament he’s entered: the Australian Open, Dubai and Indian Wells. Including his run to at least the semi-finals here, Djokovic is currently on a 22-0 winning streak for the season, and if you go back to Serbia’s Davis Cup title winning effort in December he’s 24-0 without experiencing the agony of defeat. It’s true that Mardy is sounding like a self-believer these days, looking forward to enjoying a career high ranking of at least No. 11 next week. He’s finally feeling more like himself since he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism last fall. Treatment with radioactive iodine has finally put Fish’s thyroid levels close to normal and he’s feeling more energetic on the court. Make no mistake about it, Fish is definitely the underdog in this meeting. History tells it to be so. They’ve played five times in the past and the Serbian is 5-0 with a loss of only three sets in 16 played. Fish will not shy away from the task at hand, but Djokovic will not be deterred from making his fourth consecutive final of the year.
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