Daily Bagel: Roger Federer caught off guard by his missed backhand
The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.
• Video: Roger Federer is just as shocked at his backhand shanks as we are.
• Here's how Steve Tignor saw David Ferrer's upset of Rafael Nadal at the Monte Carlo Masters on Friday.
Rafa was uncharacteristically subdued throughout, and he saved his worst, least confident tennis for the most crucial 10 minutes of the match, the first-set tiebreaker. Hanging his head and playing tentatively, he virtually conceded the breaker after falling behind early. At 1-4, Nadal had a chance to take a rip at his favorite shot, an inside-out forehand, from on top of the baseline. Instead, he tried to thread a risky drop shot; too risky, it turned out, as the ball caught the tape and fell back. The shot selection, the execution, the demeanor: None of it was what we've come to expect from Rafa at these stages.
What we usually expect from a match between these two is an elemental battle of wills. Ferrer grinds, until you think no one could possibly have the mental endurance to stay with him—nobody except Nadal, that is. Rafa’s superior shotmaking always gives him the last word. Today, though, Nadal didn’t have those shots; he finished with 24 winners and 44 unforced errors, his backhand was short and often shanked, and at the moment in the first set when he appeared ready to come up with something special, he came up with something pedestrian instead.
• Nadal says he's struggling to find his confidence after the Australian Open. From Reuters:
After losing the Australian Open final to Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, Nadal won the Rio de Janeiro tournament on clay before being eliminated in the third round of the Indian Wells Masters and losing in the final of the Miami Masters to Novak Djokovic.
"Even if I won Rio, I played the final in Miami, it remains something in my mind and in my game," said Nadal.
"I'm going to fight to try to find that solution soon."
• Monte Carlo Masters semifinals: Novak Djokovic vs. Federer, Wawrinka vs. Ferrer.
• Fed Cup weekend viewing: The draws are complete and the weekend will feature some great matches in the semifinals. Czech Republic vs. Italy: Lucie Safarova vs. Sara Errani, Petra Kvitova vs. Camila Giorgi; Australia vs. Germany: Casey Dellacqua vs. Angelique Kerber, Sam Stosur vs. Andrea Petkovic. And the U.S.-France tie will feature Sloane Stephens vs. Caroline Garcia and Madison Keys vs. Alize Cornet.
• Video: Jerzy Janowicz rapping.
• Doug Robson of USA Today has a sneak peek at the new book by Richard Williams, Serena's and Venus' father.
A rambling tale of Williams’ poverty-stricken life growing up in Shreveport, La., “Black and White” describes the beatings and psychological abuse he experienced and that shaped his philosophy of life, which centers on faith, confidence, courage and commitment.
Some of the stories stretch credulity, and unfortunately, it sheds little light on the stunning story of the sisters’ rise from the Compton, Calif., ghetto to iconic, sport-altering figures.
• Make it 19 victories in a row for Bob and Mike Bryan, who are into the semifinals of Monte Carlo.
• I believe the business-speak word for this is "synergy": A new Sugarpova flavor is called "Speedy," and it's inspired by one of Sharapova's major sponsors, Porsche.
• Dominika Cibulkova saved 20 of 26 break points to earn her tour-leading 23rd win of the season.
• The ITF announced a year-end Masters event for the top eight junior boys and girls.
• Are tournament wild cards tennis' equivalent of a free meal ticket? And if so, shouldn't they be going to the people who are, well, starving?
• Non-tennis: Modern love.