Saturday, January 26, 2013

Open Thread: Aussie Open Final

Here's something to tide you through what will probably be an epic men's final at the Australian Open.

From a recent interview conducted by The Tennis Space with Pete Sampras:
“I think tennis is a clean sport. There have been a handful of players – just a few – who have tested positive, but I believe they have just been exceptions. I just don’t think tennis players will go down that road of trying to get an edge, as it’s not in the culture. It was in the culture of cycling, and Lance Armstrong went along with that, but I just don’t see tennis players doing that. It’s not in their nature trying to get an edge that way. Armstrong has disappointed a lot of people and let a lot of people down. I thought he did as well as he could during the interview.”

81 comments:

  1. I thought the Murray/Federer semi-final looked vastly different than even their matches at Wimbledon and the Olympics last year. Murray was playing more aggressively in those tournaments than he had in previous years, but Federer still seemed to dominate more of the rallies which were won or lost by power on the forehand and/or ball-striking. I thought this semi reflected a complete shift where Murray has become roughly his equal in both of those categories. Murray was able to grind as he did last year, but he has seemed to add another level of power that he didn't even have last year. I'm not making any assertions about what that means, but it's the central point I took away from watching the match.

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    1. It's not entirely new - that aggressive approach has been something Murray has always used against Nadal, realising he couldn't live with his consistency/power in longer rallies - see the US Open semis 2008, but also Tokyo 2011 when he bagelled Nadal in the final. Also against Djokovic, depending on the surface - eg Rome 2011, Murray just came out swinging, realising his normal clay game wouldn't get close.

      Against Federer, Murray has always tried to extract errors, and it worked ..... in best of three (thus the h2h, Murray is 10-6 in bo3, although at one point it was 7-1). In the slams Federer suddenly turned up much sharper, so the same defensive approach left him a sitting duck. Thus, a more aggressive approach was inevitable, the first example of that being in Toronto 2010 as above, although their next slam match wasn't until last year's Wimbledon.

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  2. If Federer had had Murray's draw and vise versa, Fed would have beaten Murray in 4 sets, maybe 3. The draw won that match.

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  3. You know, it does not help this website's case when a bunch of butthurt Fedtards flock here and bellyache every time he loses a match. There is without a doubt doping in tennis, but the gaggle of Fedtards who bitch and moan every time their favorite loses, makes this site lose a ton of credibility. Is this a place dedicated to exposing the rampant doping in tennis, or a Federer fansite?

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    1. For the record, I'm not moaning. I'm stating the match as I saw it. I actually contrasted it with a match (at the Olympics) that Federer also lost. My analysis had nothing to do with who won or lost. Just how much different Murray looks this year than last. Federer's form in this tournament was also much better than it was at the end of last year. It is possible to at least attempt to provide unbiased analysis.

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    2. Murray's draw really did help him against Federer though. It's not a case of being "butthurt" in this instance. Federer doesn't possess the stamina or magical "recovery" powers of his adversaries and his tougher draw and extra hours on court left him fatigued against Murray and unable to find his extra level.

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    3. Murray played well though of course and is incredibly built these days. His natural physique is very slender and willowy, as we saw at the start of his career so he obviously works very hard in the gym to maintain his physique. Whether he has any chemical assistance or not I don't know. What we can all be sure off however is that Murray won't be fatigued in the slightest for the final and he and Djokovic will pummel each other into the ground!

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    4. Clark, you do understand that an entirely unbiased view of the situation can indeed lead to these conclusions regarding Federer? Surely it is understandable to side with players who are the least suspicious? Not that Dave was taking sides with this particular comment, as he has stated.

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    5. Is it you, Boreman? Yes? No? Be as it may, we (the "Fedtards"!) sure have missed such "arguments" for a short while already - as well as the age-proven method of trying to drag everybody, regardless of any criteria, into the mud-pool, where they all would appear equally dirty, so that the one(s) one happens to be a "-tard" of may appear equally "clean". Talking about being a 'Tard.

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    6. Yes. Boreman. I think you're right Melchekzanikhar.

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    7. Clark, dave is one of the most objective and impartial posters on this blog, but of course, you know that already.

      Why Clark, you seem to have changed your tone from pessimistic Nadal fan to Fed hater... or maybe you just forgot the personas of your different incarnations. We didn't.

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    8. LopiJanuary 26, 2013 at 7:36 AM

      Clark does have a point. That statement seems like a Fed fan complaining about the draw. Has nothing to do with doping.

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    9. Think what you want. I was replying to Dave's post saying that I don't think Murray has necessarily improved but that he had the easiest road to a SF in GS history, not even breaking a sweat along the way. But Federer at 31 still took it to five sets. If you don't think the draw has anything to do with a player's performance than you are deluded. But you just seem to be scouring this blog for Fed fans to call out. Whatever.

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    10. I was replying to Dave's post about Murray's improved performance and saying that I thought the draw had a lot to do with it. I don't necessarily think he's upped his game from the USO. If you don't think the draw affects the outcomes of these tournies then you're deluded. But you can spend your time trolling this blog for Fed fans to "out" if you'd like. Whatever!

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    11. Apologies, you are right. Federer looked quite human during that semi.

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  4. Gosh, there's been a load of inanities said about the subject, by all sorts of tennis-celebrities, but they all should blush in comparison to this one by Pistol Petey.

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  5. Andy's legs are noticeably bigger than at the end of last year. Just sayin'.

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    1. No they aren't.

      And even if they were, you know that your legs can get bigger naturally right?

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    2. Welcome back, Boreman. And tell us again why you come to this blog?

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    3. Imbecile, not everyone who disagrees with you is an alternate account.

      Do you realize how phony and stupid you come off for a guy who knows you are wrong?

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  6. That last sentence from Sampras pretty much sums up the credibility the rest of the paragraph deserves. He's basically saying that despite lax drug testing tennis players are good-guys, and would never do anything like that. Sure, every single other sport has cheats in it. Snooker players, table tennis players, baseball players... but not tennis players! Only a tiny exceptionist handful of tennis players would ever dope for millions knowing full well they can get away with it! They are all nice-guys of this world!

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    1. No one ever accused Pete Sampras of being imaginative. He believes in that gentlemanly code of conduct in tennis and can't imagine that the whole culture has become as corrupt as it clearly is. He didn't play the game to chase money or fame, and can't bear to think that others do.

      Amusingly, he wrote in his autobiography that "steroids...won't give you a game to beat Roger Federer." Well, we're pretty certain that there are now three players who put the lie to that claim.

      He's naive, not corrupt. But at some point naivete becomes willful ignorance, which is indeed a form of corruption.

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  7. Mystery, you've forgotten the chess-players! They surely profit more from PEDs (such as steroids, EPOs, etc.), and they as surely miss the sublime "culture" that the tennis-players inherit the very moment they, at the ripe age of 4 to 6, decide to join the Noble Order of the Jolly Racquet-Brandishing Sporty Knights.

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    1. Actually, chess players do use PEDs.

      http://voices.yahoo.com/anabolic-steroids-invade-world-professional-60819.html

      PEDs aid physical recovery, which in turn aids mental recovery. And professional chess is as insanely competitive as any physical sport. You have to be mentally sharp for days at a time.

      At the moment there's not enough money in chess to have the full-on steroid culture that baseball, cycling, and tennis have. But that could change.

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    2. If you really wanted to cheat in chess you could come up with ways to have an assistant signal the best move to you.

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    3. Why wouldn't they do both in chess? Some tennis players engage in illegal on-court coaching and PED use (see: Nadal, Rafael).

      Just get an edge, every way you can.

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  8. Naive from Pete. Its a shame - I'm sure he could have used some of today's juice to win a few French Opens.

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  9. With all of the evidence of corruption we've seen in the last 5 years--banks fudging the LIBOR, out-and-out fraud in the private sector from companies in numerous jurisdictions--we have plenty of evidence what people will do when tempted by riches. It's unfortunate, but we have to be skeptical about everything when so much money is on the line. It's just not convincing any more when someone suggests otherwise.

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  10. tim henwoman

    http://news.ripley.za.net/wp-content/plugins/rss-poster/cache/d8b07_120618014635-henman-wimbledon-95-ball-girl-horizontal-gallery.jpg

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  11. Neil Harman feeling the fallout from his article on Twitter. He finally tweeted: "Not getting involved in tiresome Twitter debate about my article on anti-doping. I simply want our sport to be truly clean. That is it"

    No wonder journos don't speak out more often. These days everything is so instant with Twitter and facebook, they don't stand a chance.

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  12. The problem for Murray is he isn't smart enough to get away with it. I definitely think something is up. He's not tiring out, and don't tell me it's conditioning. Djokovic is in top health and can't keep up with him. And Murray isn't breaking a sweat. And I watch a lot of tennis here.

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  13. What do you get when your performance is enhanced, AND you know it? Increased confidence we see in an Andy who fumbled at every major prior to this year. Murray's play is oddly exceptional. He can't even fake being tired, never bouncing the ball more than 3 times before serving the next point, regardless of the 31 shot point prior. It brings to thought the buff Jeff Goldbloom in "The Fly" where is gets so off on the physical enhancements from his new DNA that he doesn't care who finds out.

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    1. If Murray is playing clean, why would anyone dope? Surely there would be no advantage in doping if such abilities can be acquired naturally?

      If he isn't doping Murray could only be an advertisement for talent, hard work, good coaching and, um, patience - because it's taken him years of patent frustration to suddenly arrive at his current extraordinary level, after being the game's biggest perennial loser. The ill-tempered grinder who lacked real weapons in his game has, since the middle of last year, become the most imposing figure on the tour.

      On the other hand, if he is doping - well, there could be no better demonstration of how a sportsman can lift his or her game through dramatic gains in strength, speed and stamina mid-career.

      When I see how he is presently so easily fending off the gluten-free Serb I know which explanation seems more plausible for the Scot's renaissance. With calm ease that he is able to get to almost every ball - he now has so much time - the new-found power with the flick of a wrist, and the stamina that is unfazed by the longest rally, he reminds me of the rise a few years ago of a certain Spaniard, with whom it all seemed to begin.

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    2. Yes because he wasn't like this back in 2009. :rollseyes:

      He's always had this power, speed and stamina. He just played like a 6'3'' Santoro with a worse forehand.

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    3. Dude, he's been like this for years. Do you follow tennis?

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  14. Just finished the second set and we are already into the third hour of the match. This is probably going to be another 5-hour marathon.

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  15. i was wondering how long before djoko's "Stuff" kicks in .

    after 2h 20min he looks "Fresh as a Daisy" and more energized than at the begging!

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  16. Its nearly 6am EST and the second set of the men's final has just completed with Murray looking a little fatigued and the trainer coming to court.

    Anyway, it seems as if even Massive Murray can get a bit tired.
    For all that Murray was leading the match by the time I started watching, Djoker was making Murray do alot of corner to corner running which I was watching thinking " how can he do this every point, all night????"

    Especially given the fact that looking at Murray vs Djoker or Murray vs Fed, its like watching a heavyweight vs a middle weight. Murray is MASSIVE. His calves are double the size of djoker and fed. His thighs are like tree trunks and are on par with a player like Berdych. And yet for all his bulk and massive muscle, he is able to move like a gazelle and summon easy power from even the most awkward position. Its amazing with as big as he is, speed and agility is not sacrificed.....almost like a certain spaniard I know from 2005-9....

    Its funny, I was watching old youtube videos of matches. Its funny to see how gangly Murray used to be...and HOW MUCH BIGGER Nadal used to be. My god Id forgotten just how massive he was in his heyday of 2005-2008. And Murray used to be so spindley and skinny that he looked like an ostrich because of his larger than average adam's now. Now, Murray's neck is so damn thick, you can barely see it.

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    1. An interesting if slightly off topic thought - I wonder if all of Andy has grown proportionately or some of him remains in what you might describe as the 'spindly' department.

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    2. I doubt it. The fact that his adam's apple is barely noticeable now, when before he was skinny he looked like an ostrich tells you how thick his neck has become. I dont know how your neck, legs and thighs become massive and everything else remains relatively "spindly"

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    3. What a bunch of nonsense. I wouldn't put my hand over the fire for Murray, but he isn't nearly as suspicious as Nadal or Djokovic. He didn't go from weakling to monster in months, didn't equal Nadal's feat of winning 2 back to back 5 setters over an opponent who didn't have to work nearly as hard. He also never had these "cycles" like Nadal and never had these unexplained leaves from the game that could be considered provisional bans. He also never claimed that he doesn't lift weights.

      This is another example of the "we are so much more informed and in on the secret compared to others" syndrome. As if excellence in sports isn't physically possible without steroids. As if a guy cannot possibly bulk up naturally. Andy isn't a woman.

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    4. Oh Djoker and Nadal are definitely on the stuff...but to say Murray isnt suspicious given the way he has hulked out the past few years is laughable too.

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    5. Nothing that is physically impossible.

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    6. I'm an underdeveloped wimp, so everybody else must be also.

      If you lift weights, your legs can get huge. Seriously, what the fuck.

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  17. This is kind of sick. Now there is a group of three elite players whose encounters are decided largely by who happens to be better-doped on the day.

    First it was Djokovic dethroning Nadal. Now it is Murray dethroning Djokovic. No doubt Nadal will be back come clay season, equipped with new, superior juice to help him crush the other two. And they will respond by juicing even harder.

    The old Murray could occasionally beat Nadal in hard-court majors. This new Murray will surely be able to beat him anywhere except for clay.

    It's diminishing returns: the period of dominance each super-juicer enjoys before being toppled by another super-juicer is becoming shorter and shorter. If Murray reaches #1, it may be for less than a year. And they have to increase the juicing just to compensate for the aging process, leaving aside the problem of younger, stronger competition.

    Nadal was fortunate to have a three-Slam year during the interregnum before the rise of gluten-free Djokovic. Now we can be quite sure he won't have the field all to himself, ever again. Nor will the other two, for that matter, as it's unlikely that two of them will be out of action at the same time.

    The kind of toll this takes on the body is tremendous. Already Nadal's body can't sustain a top level of performance unless he skips the hard-court and grass seasons and plays only in the Grand Slams and clay season. And he's still only 26; what will he do at 28 or 29?

    Djokovic, who's more aggressive, can stay doped and play a full season, but he still trailed off at the end of 2011. Murray leans more towards the Nadal model of only juicing for the Grand Slams, as he was not much of a force in best-of-three last year but has now made three straight major finals, winning at least one (possibly two).

    This doping arms race is going to only intensify from here on out.

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    1. I dont think its that nadal only juiced for the slams, but that he definitely made sure he was ready for FO/Wimbledon. His problem was he either got off the stuff by the the time the USO rolled around or that even doped, his body was too fatigued to be a factor, that and he wasnt the best hard court player.

      After the USO tho, he definitely seems to cycle off.

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  18. Massive Murray definitely slowing down it seems. Which is funny when you consider his cupcake draw and relatively routine route to the final.

    Perhaps that Federer match took more out of him than even I imagined.

    The Murray serve and return starting to lose some pop, and seeing more random errors now.

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  19. As I said before, its amazing a guy of his bulk can retrieve and grind all day and not get tired.

    Then again. there is a certain spaniard.....but then again, I think nadal is 6 foot and Murray is what, ,6 foot 4? Thats alot of man.

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  20. Murray this,Murray that..... while djokovic is like cyborg(male one but with small balls too)

    Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos - ufc female doper

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  21. No point going on about djoker as its obvious he dopes.

    I still remember last year's AO final. Nadal during the trophy ceremony said " congratulations to your team, they do something amazing"/

    djoker shot rafa a cold look like "watch yo mouth" lol.

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    1. I remember that. Was very telling.

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  22. Murray running out of juice...in more than one sense.

    Djokovic is now the undisputed ruler of blue Plexicushion.

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  23. I think it's always fun to look back at old commentary on races(cycling) that are now confirmed products of doping; the commentators would constantly use phrases like inhuman, alien, incredible, unprecedented, stronger than ever.

    I'm getting this same feeling now listening to the tennis broadcast, the Dutch commentator kept remarking how physical the game has become, how overwhelmingly strong their performances are, how Djokovic won because he was the physically more dominant player - even against the uber-fit Murray.

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  24. I think Murray is doping but after the second set he went downhill pretty quickly. Even Murray gets tired I guess. Djokovic looked like he easily could have gone another few hours. Of course he had 2 full days after he crushed Ferrer in 89 minutes, while Murray only had 1 day off after going 5 sets with Federer.

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  25. Murray seemed to be holding his hamstring which he was also doing vs Federer. I thought some HGH would've sorted that out but hey maybe not! There is a faint window of faith possible for Murray after all. And don't tell me some blisters would've stopped him running so hard - it was the twinged hammy and nothing else.

    Congratulations to Djokovic. Four time Australian Open winner. Three time Juiced-AO winner. An open era (asterixed) record!

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  26. I hate to say it but Murray is ALWAYS clutching at his legs as if he's got some physical issues. This is nothing new.

    I do find it interesting though that Djoker showed no ill-effects of that marathon match against Wawrinka. I bet Murray is wishing Stan the Man had done the job for him. They really should have tested ND the day after that match with Stan. But why would they want to catch the world #1 doping?

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  27. I honestly didn't expect Murray to run out of gas like he did after the second set. That came as a surprise to me. He actually looked human today. Djokovic, however, is looking more and more like a cylon. He could have played another 4-set match today, no doubt.

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    1. Djoker's looking for that Calendar Year GS. Mark my words. He needs to be stopped!!!!

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  28. There is nothing more shocking than Djokovic who either doesn't or forgets to breathe heavily after such long exchanges. He just raises his hand as if he is playing a recreational game. It is so strange that in a game that involves so many long rallies, Djokovic never breathes heavily a single time. What drug can make the body forget about breathing after 30 shots rallies of heavy hitting???

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    1. It's too bad that Oprah did not ask Lance Armstrong this question during her "interview". Who else can better answer this question than the king of all dopers, Lance. If there is a way to dope, Lance has been there, done that, and officially denied it until he was buried under a mountain range of evidence.

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  29. I cut out gluten from my diet and now I run half marathons on a regular basis without tiring much. The other day I missed my train. So I just ran along with it and caught it at the next station, which is just 2 miles away. Who knew gluten (lack thereof, actually) could make one so powerful?

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  30. While it is true that effective nutrition is a huge factor and vegan/gluten free diets can enhance health, fitness and general well-being, I still feel it is impossible to play like Djokovic did without a PED. Diets generally help you when your level of activity conforms to natural levels of hard work. What Djokovic is displaying is unnatural, superhuman fitness. I'd be happy if he wasn't doping but it seems less likely every match he plays like this. Poor Sampras looks erratic and ordinary compared to this generation.

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  31. Dopers can still get tired. The use of EPO doesn't guarantee never-ending stamina. Two players can be in tip-top condition and both be using EPO to maximize their hematocrit levels. It doesn't mean they both will have the same stamina. EPO guarantees an athlete can have more stamina but doesn't guarantee an endless well of stamina.

    Let's assume that Federer uses EPO and manages his hematocrit level down to the tenth of a point. Let's also assume that without EPO he's conditioned to, essentially, his maximum level. So we're assuming he's both maximized his natural fitness and un-natural fitness. For all intents and purposes he's as fit as HE can get. Once he's gotten there if for some reason he believes he needs to get much stronger and adds 8 lbs of muscle his stamina level will suffer. It has to. More muscle requires more oxygen. More body weight requires more energy to utilize it.

    Now let's assume Nadal and Djokovic are totally clean. What did both of them do to help with their recovery and stamina? They both LOST weight and muscle. They were both so fit they really had no fat to lose

    Modern PED's are as much about maximizing recovery as they are about maximizing a single level of performance. Too much EPO is flat out dangerous.

    That's why it's utterly baffling to me why Murray continues to add muscle. I can maybe understand adding a lb of muscle and dropping a lb of fat, but Murray's never had any fat to lose so when he gains muscle he gains weight. He seems to be completely obsessed with it. I can't believe Lendl hasn't told him to cut the crap out and DROP 10 lbs. He added, according to his camp, 3 lbs of muscle in his 4-week offseason. It just doesn't make sense. Christ when he lost to Federer in 3 GS matches why on earth does he think the answer is MORE muscle? Murray had the ULTIMATE tennis physique in 2007. He was every bit as strong as Sampras ever was, Safin ever was, Djokovic ever was, Federer ever was. Anyone who looks at pics of him from 2007 can see he was in fantastic physical condition. He was a top-tier professional. He was already 21 or so and was basically peaking physically. However, his match stamina, assuming it was all-natural, wasn't enough to beat the big guys in 5 set matches and also seemed to tire late in MS events after having to play several 3-setters in a row.

    Instead of opting for becoming more offensive and shortening points to address his stamina issues he seems to have become obsessed with adding muscle. 2008 Wimbledon is when he began famously flexing his biceps after matches. Google "murray flexes biceps" to see a few pretty goddamn impressive pictures of a bicep. In my opinion his stamina has been maxed out for the last few years. However he keeps adding muscle, especially in his legs. He doesn't have the recovery "powers" of Djokovic and Nadal. He almost always slows down in long matches and to be honest he has usually lost the big, long matches and didn't have to recover in 48 hours.

    Now he's stuck with too much leg muscle and is most likely peaked out stamina-wise, even with EPO. And it should be very difficult for a pro tennis player to get legs the size of his. Muscles need a lot of rest after the types of workouts it takes to get muscles like that, or they need PED's to replace the rest. Tennis players don't rest enough to build that kind of muscle. When his camp says he added muscle by doubling his weight sessions the logical question should be "did he also double the amount of rest?" and the answer to that is "no."

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    1. Interesting point you make, surely there is an optimal muscle mass for tennis? I mean you have to have strength and explosiveness to complement stamina. Perhaps Murray thinks the key to an aggressive game going forward is more explosiveness.

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    2. In my opinion there is an optimal muscle mass for each individual. It isn't the same for everyone. I think boxing and wrestling basically prove that with the weight class system. Boxers and wrestlers compete at their personal optimum weight class. Almost any time they move up in weight class they gain power but lose quickness and stamina. The opposite happens if they drop down in weight class. That's how they find their personal optimum weight class. it's the class where their power, stamina and quickness are maximized.

      So to your point if Murray wants level 10 explosiveness he does so at the expense of stamina. He can have level 10 but only for maybe 3 hours every 48 hours. If he wants level 8 explosiveness he could have it longer. What surprises me most about Murray is that he was hailed by so many as such a brilliant tactical player. He must not have felt he ultimately has Federer's talent because he certainly possesses Federer's physicality. I guess he considers Nadal to be the ultimate tennis player because Murray could beat Federer but couldn't beat a "healthy" Nadal and Federer couldn't beat Nadal. For such a "brilliant tactician" and such a "student of the game" as Gilbert always calls him that was a huge mistake in my opinion. If Federer had Murray's backhand his matchup against Nadal would be totally different, at least as I see it. And if Murray developed his tennis skills and especially his nerves (the one area where Federer really outshines him) he could be more like a slightly faster, slightly stronger Federer with a two handed backhand. Federer never needed more power to beat Nadal. He more or less needed a two handed backhand, which Murray already has. But to beat Nadal Murray seems to think he needs to be more like Nadal instead of understanding he should have been more like Federer, except with his own backhand. Stop serving 130+ and missing too many first serves and do what Federer does and target 118 and the four corners.

      And for the record a couple days ago I referred to Murray as an "average talent." I was drunk on my ass and that was probably one of the stupidest comments I've ever posted, which is really saying something. "Tommy Hass" rightfully called me out on it.

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    3. I think Nadal really turned this sport into a nightmare. Djokovic was talented enough to grow into his prime without having to dope, but he chose to do a stupid racquet change that affected his game badly through 2009/10 and later realized he couldn't beat Nadal without physicality. I've always felt he didn't need dope to beat Federer, just a stronger mind.

      Same goes with Murray. While Federer was always going to beat them here and there because of his outstanding talent, they were going to beat him as well - natural progression with ages etc.

      Now I'm not really sure what to expect. Federer doesn't seem to be doping by the way he is just that much slower in changing direction etc., but with the present dope testing regime, nothing is conclusive.

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    4. "... Nadal really turned this sport into a nightmare." Spot on.
      "... [Djokovic] didn't need dope to beat Federer, just a stronger mind." The first part is questionable; the second part is obvious, so he got himself "a stronger mind" - by doping. The psycho-effects of doping are mostly overlooked, and they should not be.

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    5. Not sure about the "stronger mind" part. Pretty sure that Djokovic had a "strong mind" in 2008 and Federer managed to hit him off the court more or less while Djokovic was still playing outstanding tennis at the US Open. Unless you mean that he needed a stronger mind to make inroads on Federer at all, which makes sense. Djokovic dominating Federer was never going to happen without Federer declining, strong mind or not, but a Djokovic with nerves would always have a respectable record against him.

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    6. I'd generally refer to the USO 2007 and Montreal matches that year to demonstrate that he could beat Federer without having to dope especially given how many bad days Federer had since then. Also there is the factor of Fed's natural decline. So yes, he would have a respectable record and about 3 to 4 (maybe more) slams had Nadal not been doping.

      Shame - he was a pretty darn good player back in 2007/2008, just not as good as Federer. Taking the high road must have seemed less of an option with Nadal around.

      This doesn't mean I'm sure Fed isn't doping though. He could very well be and that would mean the system runs deeper than it would seem on the surface.

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    7. I dunno, a guy who dopes would probably not suggest freezing blood samples. :D If anything, that's a dopers worst nightmare.

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  32. There was an interesting discussion among the commentators during the final. Basically, one said he had talked to Murray's trainer and that each year, Murray takes a series of performance test. He did not say what these are, but in the context, I am assuming it is things like vertical jump, 40m dash time, or some similar tests. Apparently Murray had set records in each one of these test this year and the trainer had noted that Murray had added 3 pounds of muscles to his legs. The trainer also had stated it now takes 5-6 years for a tennis athlete to reach his peak because the training each year is cumulative and really doesn't pay off prior to 5-6 years. As such, he does not see young players threatening the top tier because it takes so long to train up. (Note, the trainer was not talking, this is what the commentator said the trainer told him.)

    Assuming the factual stuff the trainer said is true -- maxing his tests, adding weight, then this is basically confirming that Murray is doping. The trainer's explanation that there are little signs of improvement for 6 years and then suddenly all the working out "pays off" is ridiculous.

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    1. On ESPN? I think that was Tom Rinaldi. He also said the Murray has the "strongest set of core and leg muscles you'll ever see" or something very close to that effect.

      It's also interesting to me that these guys that claim to be so tired at the end of the season then seem to use their entire "off-season" "putting in the hard yards" as Brad Gilbert would say. If they're so worn out of the season how are they able to make such significant gains in strength and fitness at the same time?
      And for the record, adding 3 lbs of muscle in 4 weeks while also running miles a day on the beach (another thing Rinaldi said Murray does) is a significant gain. And if they're so tired and then basically put themselves through a bootcamp then wouldn't they be even more tired at the beginning of the season? But nobody ever really questions it.

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    2. I think it was Tennis Channel, which means it will repeat for the next week about 50 times. If so, I'll record it and transcribe it.

      What I find interesting is how secretive all the players are about their work outs, "recovery" methods, and anything to do with fitness.

      It has turned from "skill and technique are far more important than fitness" to "fitness is my secret weapon and I can't tell you anything about what I do because someone else will steal it." Then they go on to attribute all their "fitness" to "hard work" -- which should not be hard to describe or a secret. Something like, "I go to the gym and work out 5 hours a day, here are the 50 exercises that I do. You want to do them? Everyday for 5 years? Great, see you at the next tournament." I mean, which one is it? Does it take 5 years of hard work or is there some non-doping secret that would turn any mid level player into a top 10 if he/she got a hold of it?

      In terms of the "off-season," weren't all the players complaining about how the season was "too long" and that they needed to shorten it? (See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/sports/tennis/pro-tennis-season-can-nearly-a-year.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 noting "For years, players have complained that the season is too long and does not give them enough time to recover from injuries or recharge." Dated Sep 3, 2011). Now, it is "we work out so much in the off-season that it carries us through 11 months of tournament play and we can pack on speed, muscles, and aerobic capacity all in a month or two of working out."

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  33. I know it's a ton of work, but I really think it's important for this blog to keep up the pressure for the next few months. Here's my contribution for today

    Tennis news:

    http://www.iol.co.za/sport/tennis/tennis-anti-doping-programme-failing-1.1459746#.UQcXNehrVhE

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/tennis/tennis-stars-will-face-extra-drug-testing/story-fnbe6xeb-1226563770287



    Links re Fuentes trial:
    http://www.dw.de/spanish-doping-trial-opens-with-fuentes-at-the-center/a-16554663

    http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cycling/new-push-to-get-names-of-elite-dopers-from-spanish-raid-20130128-2dgzt.html

    http://blogs.channel4.com/keme-nzerem-on-sport/spain-doping-trial-could-spanish-football-be-implicated/520

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2013/0128/1224329368891.html

    http://www.scotsman.com/scotland-on-sunday/sport/other-sports/tom-english-fuentes-doping-case-silent-on-football-1-2761603

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    1. This has been a problem for a long time, as according to WADA "EPO, which was the drug of choice, was not being tested for to keep the costs down."

      Good thing Stuart Miller has been keeping to costs down by not testing for EPO. So, exactly what proof is there any any athlete is clean? There is no need to even beat the test because the test does not exist. Apparently all you have to do is be able to fill a cup with urine and you pass -- no tests of EPO, no test for HGH. Just don't kiss any girls doing cocaine and you are good.

      Thanks for all the links -- good articles.

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    2. Obviously it's not good, and fits with the fact that tennis has never caught anyone for using EPO ...... but, at the same time, you don't need to test very often for something to create a deterrent.

      Things like no off-day testing and the lack of OOC tests are qualitatively different, in that they provide loopholes for people to dope with zero risk. Why would anyone roll the dice against even weak areas of the anti-doping code, when they can exploit non-existent areas instead?

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    3. I think it raises questions about what information was communicated to the players. It doesn't work as a deterrent if you tell the players "We are not testing for EPO?" And, yes, the ITF has told this to players: http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.com/2009/05/cera.html

      Of course, the no off-day testing, the joke of the "whereabouts" system, etc are all bigger problems as you note. I am just highlighting this for the people who claim tennis is clean because there are so few positives. Well, if EPO is not being tested for, then how could there be any positives for it? People need to understand that just because a sample was collected, it does not mean that any drugs were actually tested for, and certainly not EPO. It is not clear what other drugs were screened for. Certainly an "employment drug test" is the cheapest, so this is probably what Dr. Miller ordered on all the samples. This explains why only recreational drugs are being caught as these are the only drugs being tested for -- because there are "resource constraints."

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  34. Hey, We have news of regarding our friend Rafael Nadal...

    He gave a an interview to a Spanish network saying he still has pain in the knees (http://www.marca.com/2013/01/29/tenis/1359471106.html)… however he is eager to play in Chile where he’ll also be playing doubles with Juan Monaco… go figure… Pain in the knees, out of competition for 7 months and he starts off by palying both the singles and doubles competition… gotta love his coherency

    Best

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    1. Maybe he isn't taking doubles competition entirely seriously and is eager to get some match rhythm going.

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