It seems unfair to me that Birdy played his match so much earlier yesterday and then they don't put this the last match to give Andy more time to recover. If Andy didn't get to bed till say 4am as he predicted then it seems unlikely he'll be sufficiently refreshed to play the kind of tennis he needs to play to beat Birdy on clay, especially with what does appear to be a hip problem (not that I think that was the explanation for the weaknesses in his performance yesterday which seemed much more due to mental and physical sluggishness).
So I'm not going to shed too many tears if he loses, and may well go to a meeting I'd been thinking of going to and recording it. Even if he loses Andy has already had 5 hours of match practice so will probably be c7 hours by end of today and he can get over to Rome and prepare in the very different conditions there.
Ruthie, I couldn't understand the scheduling for the same reason. It doesn't seem to make sense to me.
Like you, I'm not suggesting that Andy's hip problem (I do think there is one) had a bearing on last night, or that it would be a reason for a loss today, assuming Andy does lose of course, but I do think being on last would have given him a bit longer to recover.
The way I look at it is that Andy is still in. In that case, if he can bring his best tennis, he has a chance. He loses when he loses, not before.
I also think that given that he didn't play Madrid last year, anything he has done this week has helped him gain some ground over Federer. The gap between Andy and Federer is pretty good now. Hopefully it will stay that way. He isn't done yet in Madrid, he could win if he plays as he is capable of, but even if he doesn't win, if he does well in Rome and has a good RG he will hopefully be in a good position going on to the grass, i.e. a proper tennis surface, where he does tend to do well.
Katie, I think it's too early to talk about Andy regressing this year. MC wasn't great, but it wasn't great last year either. He didn't play Madrid last year. Quarter finals (and hopefully beyond) on a surface people write him off on seems pretty good to me. I just think, as important as the Masters are, the main thing is the majors. As long as Andy plays well in RG I will be happy, and by well I mean the quarters or beyond.
With respect I think 2011 is a bit of a red herring with Andy on the clay. That year, after losing to Djokovic in the AO and losing badly, he did virtually nothing of any note until the clay season. I remember telling people that he probably wouldn't see much joy until the grass, so to see him play so well on the red stuff was great. However, maybe, just maybe, the pressure was off him. Maybe he thought, knowing clay is arguably not his best surface, that he had nothing to lose and went for it, getting some good results along the way. The thing is, there is something to lose now, in the rankings. I do think it is confidence more than anything to be honest, but I think it's very easy for onlookers to not understand that. I really do think that one great result on the clay would do Andy good. Hopefully it will come today.