WTF: To Rafanatics.


Rafanatics, feeling a little blue? Avoiding tennis websites like a plague? Living in a see-saw state of angst and zen? Feeling unwarranted hate for non-Big 4 players like Davydenko and Soderling?

You have slumpitivis! 

Trust me, I’ve been there. 7 months ago, Roger was struggling through matches, posting a succession of losses against the top 4 and crying his friggin nose off.

It was depressing. It was shithouse. I stopped listening to commentary during matches. I stopped visiting tennis websites, reading the media obituaries. In fact, I didn’t even want to watch tennis anymore. Except I did. But I didn’t. Only I did anyway

Yup. It’s a sadistic condition. 

The bad news is, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The good news? It is going to get better. You bet your ass. 

 

 

Watching Nadal v Davydenko today, I was struck by a feeling of empathy as the commentators speculated over Rafa’s demise as a player. For sure, he was only a shadow of the player that he was at the start of the year, but are things really that bad or are we jumping to conclusions? 

More strikingly, wasn’t I there with Federer just a few months ago?

Tennis is all about the player: their talent, physical assets, their mentality, work ethics, and most importantly their inherent feel and intuition on a court. All these things decide the course of a player’s career. 

Tennis reportage however, is all about the form: hot streaks, recent wins, player of the week, players of the month. In that coverage, what is often neglected is the caliber of the player, the context and the power dynamics in which they exist. 

Just two weeks ago, Robin Soderling had failed to make any sort of impact during the indoor season, having narrowly missed out on qualifying for the WTF. This week, he is a force to be reckoned with. Suddenly, people are talking about whether he has the goods to win a slam.

Two weeks ago, Novak Djokovic was the player du jour, even though he had posted poorer slam results without an injury compared to Rafa with. 

Just last week, we were wondering if Nadal was going to suddenly find a streak of good form and take the No 1 spot from Federer. This week, murmurs of “will Nadal ever win another slam” are surfacing in tennis world.

 

 

But that’s mass social media for ya: it’s all about the “right now”, the “shock jock” statements, the impact of an unsubstantiated prediction. So without making any grand assertions, let’s remind ourselves of the facts: 

# Rafa is still the No 2 player in the world and 23 years old.

# He won a slam, and 3 ATP 1000 tournaments within the space of 5 months this year. 

# Up until his mid-year breakdown, he was “the” player to beat on all surfaces. 

# Since his return, he has made semifinals in Cincy, the US Open (with a 15 mm tear on his abdomen), Beijing, Bercy, final in Shanghai. 

Nothing you didn’t know already of course. So here are a few more things to remind yourselves of during your bout of slumpivitis:

  • Rafa is a guy who has too much game to go anywhere. Mentality, intuition, natural physical talents, good work ethics – all the elements that make up a great player, Rafa still has it, even if he’s far from being player du jour at the moment. 
  • At the start of February, I got home after a vacation during the Australian Open. I turned on my computer and logged on to Google Reader. The first article I saw was titled “Was the Australian Open Federer’s last stand?” Well you tell me, was it? I’m glad I closed my browser and opted for sleep back then.
  • Federer’s slump came at the start of the year, with 3 slams still left to go and shiploads of points to defend. By contrast, Rafa’s year-end slump is more “garden variety”. Dude’s never done well during this part of the year. The last time he won a title post-US Open was back in 2005. His results during this part of the year have never been indicative of his future career.
  • Look at it this way: at least your guy didn’t smash a racquet in frustration, or lose to someone whose name rhymes with “Farty Dish”.

 

I guess the point in writing all this is simply a little empathy. A statement that “yes, I’ve been there. And yes, it comes and goes”. Tennis doesn’t have to be all about the battle of vultures between Fed-loving Nadal-haters and Nadal-loving Fed-haters. 

At the end of the day, we are all a bunch of freaks who invest too much of our time, money and emotions into a sport where people hit a yellow fuzzy ball across the net at each other in the hope that the other person stops hitting it back. 

Sometimes we don’t like each other, sometimes we have cyberspace wars, because we’re friggin morons. But mostly, we’re much the same people. 

And knowing how dark it can be sometimes for us idiots? We could all use a little empathy and some perspective before we start frazzling or sniggering over so-and-so’s demise. 

 

Happy Thanksgiving to those in the US. To those in less thankful countries, happy Friday, we’re almost there! 

xx doots

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45 responses to “WTF: To Rafanatics.”

  1. girl from michigan says :

    Ahh, Dootsiez, you made me actually cry while reading this post. Thank you so much. And yes, we are all freaks.

    Vamos, Rafa! On to the DC Finals!

  2. Jack says :

    ” Avoiding tennis websites like a plague? Living in a see-saw state of angst and zen? Feeling unwarranted hate for non-Big 4 players like Davydenko and Soderling? ” –

    thats exactly what i do when fed loses. Plus i remember during Roger’s slump last year, i really hated Stepanek. Don’t know why, just did. And thanks for reminding me of the mardy fish loss. To this day i will never understand how he lost that one, i mean its mardy fish….. MARDY FISH!!!!

    anyway, every great player has been written off sometime in their career; Roger, Maria, Serena… so at least Rafa is joining a prestigious list! :)

    I think Roger got it right though when he said he had created a monster, in the fact that everyone expects you to win and they make a bigger deal when you lose than when you win.

    • dootsiez says :

      “anyway, every great player has been written off sometime in their career; Roger, Maria, Serena… so at least Rafa is joining a prestigious list! ”

      That’s a nice way of looking at it. And you forgot the ultimate victim of media write-off: Andre Agassi!

      Urgh, no more Farty Dish. I saw the match and Fed looked positively green that day. Wasnt moving well at all.

  3. Mia says :

    Doots, you put into words what I felt in that period of discontent … misery, actually. But after the 15th — thanks to Federpoop — I’ve never gotten down that low anymore. That said, I still want him to win. I still avoid specific websites for about 2-3 days when he loses to the big guns — as he did today. But am no longer in the oh-I-just-want-to-crawl-under-the-sheets-and-never-have-to-watch-tennis-again mood anymore. Thank the tennis gods.

    As for Rafa, he may not be my favorite player but I have all the respect in the world for him. People writing him off do so at their own peril.

  4. AB says :

    Thank you this post. You put everything into perspective and you got it all right.

    I’m a huge Rafanatic and will always support him during his ups and downs.

    Vamos Rafa!

  5. anonymous says :

    “At the end of the day, we are all a bunch of freaks who invest too much of our time, money and emotions into a sport where people hit a yellow fuzzy ball across the net at each other in the hope that the other person stops hitting it back.”

    GIRL SPEAKS THE TRUTH!

    • beefromgoa says :

      I particularly enjoyed this reply (Girl speaks the Truth) because it does echo my thoughts, being a person who invests far too much precious time and money in a sport I have loved all my life, and into player’s who can afford missing out on a tournament win a lot more than I can to go and watch them!!! Having thought I was a through and through Rafa fan, the O2 has just proved that I am a tennis fan over and above everything else!! When all of these guys retire, I shall still be watching tennis, although perhaps with a little less passion!

  6. pban says :

    Iam worse, Iread all the websites and articles as if reliving the pain and agony somehow brings me closer to Roger(Iknow it sounds perverse but then Inever claimed sanity).You know the reason why we react so intensely to all his losses is selfish, we are scared that the one thing of pure and perfect beauty in our lives will end leaving us wallowing in an existence so drab that it is difficult to find reasons to get up from bed.I know the Roger of 2004 to 2007 is a thing of the past ,Ijust ask the tennis gods for Wimby and his no. 1 ranking anything else is a bonus.

    • dootsiez says :

      Nicely said pban. I have no “bottom line” with Roger, I’d love to see him win the WTF. And as for next year, would love to see him win the AO again, especially since 1) he’s never won on the new surface 2) I’M GOING!

      *happydances* Fingers crossed this guy makes our wish come true!

  7. Funke says :

    Great article,your points make me feel so much better.The funny thing is Rafa seems to be handling the streak colmly:)he is taking it better than his fans lol.
    Keep up the good work!!!!
    Rafa will be back——-

  8. Mariana says :

    It’s nice to feel that this is not a war, just sport. And I’m even more glad because there are lot of people who believe in media or pundits’ sayings but for me the “news” or the “story” had become a very cheap trick. We may root for a different winner but beeing a fan of a player or a team we share the same fortunes and misfortunes. And most of the commentators and journalists often look not only ignorant about simple facts but also absolutely lacking the empathy you talk about.
    Thank you.

  9. Holly says :

    “Rafanatics, feeling a little blue? Avoiding tennis websites like a plague? Living in a see-saw state of angst and zen? Feeling unwarranted hate for non-Big 4 players like Davydenko and Soderling?”

    Get out of my head!!

    Great blog, helps to put things in perspective :)
    Vamos Rafa!

    Here’s to 2010!

  10. aRafaelite says :

    Thank you – laughed my head off reading this! I was already in the happy tent and cheerfully ignoring all the press doom-and-gloom. The boy’s been through hell this year – of course he’s in a slump! At the end of the day whichever player we support – we’re all – as you say – completely nuts – and good to know we can empathise with each other’s slumpivitis! Here’s a hug *O* from a Rafan to a Fed fan – our boys would be proud of us!

  11. judipo says :

    I agree one million percent with your words. As a huge Rafa fan I understand what you went through.
    Roll on 2010

  12. Kathy says :

    A big THANK YOU from a huge Rafa fan.

  13. Mary says :

    What a great post…I am a grown woman, sitting here with tears streaming down my face…I think I will read this post every day for the next several weeks…or at least until Davis Cup…so beautifully worded…looking forward to checking out your blog…I do love Rafa the most, but RF is a close second!!

  14. Karla says :

    I felt so much better after reading your post. We Rafanatics are going through a really rough time right now but, it is good to know that a RF fan like yourself could do this for us. Rafa is and will forever be my No.1 player, but Roger is second. On behalf of Rafanatics here is a big hug for you

  15. Rafangel says :

    God bless you, what a fantastic post, thank you. I’ve been taking lots of comfort from Fed-ex’s situation and it’s GOOD GOOD GOOD to do away with the Fedal wars. It’s not like either of our lads act like that so why should we?

    Here’s to a 2010 squeaking with Fedal dominance of the highest calibre…

    • Helen says :

      I agree …let’s to do away with the fedal wars.I am a big Roger fan but was terribly sad watching Rafa struggling today against Jokovic.If that had been Roger I would have been crying.
      Roger is standing 100% behind Rafa like the gracious champion he is. I figure if Roger can reach inside to defend a “friend” than I can too.
      All the best to Rafa and I hope he rebounds for 2010.
      And good luck to Roger at WTF!

      • pban says :

        Agree with you,Ifelt miserable watching him against djoko.He was missing balls he could hit in his sleep. Rafa does not deserve this humiIation but then neither did Fed deserve that FOin2008. Ithink the tennis gods put every player they think is worth their attentions through this just to remind them of their fallibility and to see whether they are worthy of the abilities bestowed on them. Remember Roger at the beginning of this year, at least Rafanatics have not had to see their man weeping in front of the whole world and have his tears dissected by every tom dick and harry. If Rafa can motivate himself to come out of this he would have made peace with his mortality and be a far more balanced player and individual.Ithink like Roger he too loves the game enough to make the effort so here is wishing him a speedy recovery.

  16. Reinet Koornhof says :

    What a great letter to make us all feel better about our Rafa!!
    Good sportsmanship coming from a Federer fan!!
    I am also a grown woman in tears!!
    With the support of all us Rafanatics he will have the WILL TO WIN back soon again!!
    Thankyou once again Federer fan!

    VAMOS RAFA!!!!!

  17. frazzled fran says :

    Ha ha ha … was wondering who Farty Dish was!!
    But thanks for the perspective. I’m guessing it’s tougher for us fans than for “our” guys who, let’s face it, already have millions in the bank ANYWAY so what the fish …

  18. TennisFanForTheAges says :

    A great blog and I read all your great comments. I’m a huge Rafa fan but have a lot of respect for Roger- what he’s done and his talent. Although he’s not my fav, I felt so bad for him last year going through such a slump. Everyone wrote him off but what did the ARod say? “If that’s Roger’s bad year than I’d like to have his bad year too!”. Like you said, let’s remember the facts of their achievements! Hope to see Raf and Rog dominate again next year. To the two heros of tennis! *raises glass*

  19. Tyne says :

    I am also a great fan of Roger but I want Rafa to mend and get back to playing. Tennis needs them both…Fedal Rules!

  20. dootsiez says :

    Wow, thanks Rafa fans for dropping by. My head totally imploded from all the peace and Fedal loviedovies.

    Nice to end the year on a sweet note! :D

  21. Alex says :

    Doots – best article ever. I’m in tears.

  22. dutchgirl says :

    Thank you so much for this writing, it brought tears to my eyes as well!
    I’t so good to hear from someone from the ‘outside’.

  23. jane says :

    Dear Dootsiez,
    You are a healer of broken hearts! You have made me feel as great as after a Rafa’s win! Thank you very much!

  24. Anita says :

    Thanks for the uplift! I feel better now. Congrats to Roger for #1. And keep going Rafa no matter what the media says. You are the bomb!

    Thanks,
    Anita

  25. Valy says :

    Thank you, dootsiez, for all your kind words.
    My confidence in Rafa is really down right now, but you made me feel better.
    We should all have confidence in our favourite players, because they are professional, they work really hard, they are talented and high class players!
    Good-luck to everyone!

  26. xta says :

    oh, doots, you did my heart good…rafa is my #1, but i’m also a fed (and a baghdatis) fan…thanks for reminding us that every tunnel has a light at the end — we just have to keep riding…
    i’m hoping for a great davis cup performance next month, then 4 roger/rafa grand slam finals next year…and, oh yeah, a great roger/rafa davis cup match next year…

  27. Janet says :

    Thanks for the uplifting article!!! You have made us all feel better. I think all of the commentators should be shot. They can make you so depressed. I wonder if Rafa has heard the bible story of Sampson and Delilah? When they cut Sampsons hair, he lost his power and strength. Maybe the same thing happened when they changed Rafa’s look! Maybe he should go back to the old clothes for strength and power.

  28. gio says :

    Fantastic. You said it all.

    I’m a Rafa fan by the way. But you certainly made me see my way clear to finding a little more love in my heart for Roger.

    And yes, we are all utterly obsessed.

  29. Tuulia says :

    A brilliant piece, thank you so much. – Apart from the last sentence – what the hell was that all about? :( But otherwise, excellent.

  30. Jeu says :

    Pffffffffahahahaha

  31. Ru-an says :

    Nice article Doots, im impressed. I like hyow you are trying to heal the division between fans. Even though you and me dont agree on Rafa, i like what you have done here.

  32. kinski76 says :

    This is nice. While in my world “Fed-loving Nadal-haters and Nadal-loving Fed-haters” should ideally take a leaf out of their idols’ books and treat each other with at least a modicum of respect, I’m very much aware of the fact that people are entitled to their own preferences and that they’re perfectly within their right to “hate” one player if they see it fit. Liking both, it’s all the more refreshing to see people recognize the (sometimes striking) similarities between the two.

    • dootsiez says :

      Amen to all that, well said.

      Given how much those two actually like each other and acknowledge what they’ve done for each other’s careers, it’s a pity that their fans have to scratch each other’s eyes out every opportunity they get, when all it really is, is just a difference in taste.

  33. Roger love says :

    I am Roger fan. I love Roger

    Roger Federer is the Best.

    Roger defeated Sampras at the age of 19.

    It is a start of Roger’s career.

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