Monday, June 05, 2006

The Men's QF: It says something about the state of men's tennis that the biggest threat left to Nadal in the bottom half of the draw is Ivan Ljubicic. I'll grant you, Ljubicic is the the fourth seed and all, but he's an empty seed, serving only as a placeholder for the wasted potential of former top 10 players like Hewitt and Roddick, and perhaps a placeholder for the untapped potential of young Gael Monfils. At any rate, Ljubicic eked out two minor hard court titles this year, beating talented but awfully streaky players like David Nalbandian and Thomas Johannson, or specialists like Carlos Moya, and is unlikely to give Nadal any trouble.

The real wild card is Nikolay Davydenko, who might just be ready to make some noise. He is a solid clay player who was a semifinalist here last year and has managed to dig up a 6 seed based on his clay showings and a trip to the quarters down under. He also beat former French Open champs Gaston Gaudio and Carlos Moya pretty solidly on his way to the qusrterfinals here. I'll be cheering him on, if only because he threatens to stand in the way of Federer and Nadal becoming another boring Sampras/Agassi rivalry -- the clinician vs. the properly pumped-up wildman.

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