Robbie Koenig: Rafa Will Sweat Blood To Get To No. 1

It’s been a fascinating first four days in Cincinnati. Losing Andy Roddick to an injury was a big disappointment. Tomas Berdych continues to be the biggest under-achiever for me, considering all the talent and weapons he has. I have huge respect for Carlos Moya for his quality of tennis he has displayed has been outstanding. I thought Igor Andreev has been playing great lately, so for Carlos to finish off Nikolay Davydenko and then later in day beat Igor is a massive result. You can’t believe how tough the conditions are here – ie the heat and humidity – and Carlos is 31 now!

Ernest Gulbis is a star in the making. Remember, he’s only 19 and if gets a little better between the ears, he’s gonna mix it regularly with the big boys! He’s got some serious guts when the chips are down – especially on his serve! His match Friday with Novak Djokovic should be a cracker!

Then, of course, the big news of the week – Roger Federer going down to Ivo Karlovic. Before Thursday’s match, Fed had won nine of their 10 previous tie-breakers, which i think is astounding, so sooner or later something had to give. I had a chat with Ivo a little¬†while after the match, and he felt he’s been overdue for a while now, so considering all that has gone on the past seven months with Federer, perhaps this result is not as big a deal as everyone thinks?

That means the door is ajar for Rafael Nadal to clinch the top spot this week. He’s gotta win though – and he will. What he’s done over the past four months is unbelievable, and to play second fiddle to Federer for so long, has gotta be mentally taxing. Well obviously not! He will sweat blood this week to get the job done, and some might come close to beating him, Djokovic and Murray particularly, but I don’t think anyone will stand in his way. How ironic or appropriate would it be if he lost to Moya in the final…or beat his friend/mentor to sit atop the tennis world!

Enjoy the weekend, I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to it.