Let us skip the boring parts shall we: one paragraph about how untouchable Berdych was in the first set – committing a total of 2 unforced errors to 14 winners; follow that up with a few lines on how the ‘wily veteran’ hung tough and slowly gained a foothold on the match, eventually wrangling the second set from Berdy.
Let us go quickly through the final set, throughout which Berdych had the upper hand, constantly pressuring Federer’s service games with 0-30 openings while holding rather more comfortably in his own.
Even as Federer broke Berdych to serve for the match at 5-3, Berdy showed a presence of mind uncharacteristic of his reputation. Playing with sufficient aggression and outstanding defence, he broke back for 5-4, and just as it seemed a tiebreak was inevitable, the break that would decide the championship at 6-5 came out of nowhere. Like in the match against Raonic, Federer found the tiniest of chinks in his opponent’s mental armour, and cracked it just enough to weasel his way to a victory.
The stats came close: Federer hit 44 winners to 30 unforced errors, while Berdych counted 42 to 27. In the points-won department, Federer barely edged Berdych – 103 to 101.
Yet despite the closeness of the stats, for the majority of the match, it felt like Berdych played better. And perhaps he did - he was certainly more sensational, blasting winners off both wings, on the full run, off the return of serves. For a while, it seemed as if whatever Federer dished out, Berdych would return with sufficient interest to force Federer into a self-preserving state of mind.
But ultimately, the key to Federer’s greatness lies not only in his ability to play better tennis than his opponent, but also in his ability to win regardless of how well his opponent is playing, using whatever tennistical means at his disposal.
It’s a talent that has been more evident this year, as we watched him navigate his way through tricky draws in both Indian Wells and Madrid, and shrug off external factors like the wind, ill health, Smurf Clay, or some truly abysmal umpiring from the chump.
And therein concludes my pretention at being serious and offering any kind of constructive tennistical analysis, because – FUCK YEAH 2012!
Allow me to recount:
- A record 20 Masters titles (3 of the last 4), now tied with Rafa on the all time leader board.
- 10th title on clay, and the first player to win at least 10 titles on every surface.
- 10th consecutive year of winning at least 4 titles a year.
- 3 of the last four Masters tournaments played
- First time winning 4 titles by May since the golden year of 2006.
- First man to win 3 titles in Madrid, on 3 different surfaces no less.
- 7th title in 10 tournaments since the heartbreak in New York, and yet to lose a final in the last 8 months.
- Greatest Smurferer of All Time: ALL. TYMEEEEEE. *Kanyeface*
SHALL I GO ON?! SHALL I?!
I could recite and savour these numbers all day.
This win puts Federer back at World No 2, one step closer to World No 1 again. But Federer was careful post-match to downplay the prospect of him returning to the top of the rankings.
Back then I was just trying to stay world No1 and I never really looked at Pete’s record that much. I guess I could have chased it a few years ago, just really trying to beat that record. It’s no secret for any player out there that you’d rather be No 1 than No 2. But I look at the long term, maybe if I wasn’t good enough to break that record, then maybe I never will be.
I don’t need to beat every record Pete set, he’s my idol after all and I’m just happy I’m that close already. But it’s exciting times ahead for me. Winning so many tournaments and playing so well, obviously I do believe I can win the grand slams.
But I know the difficulty of the French Open and the focus will be a lot on Novak because he’s going for four in a row and on Rafa because he’s the defending champion. It’s going to be an exciting tournament.
Post match, Madrid continued to set the benchmark of postmodernity in tennis by bringing out Will Smith just to confuse the shit out of everyone. It wasn’t until Smith presented Federer with a framed suit from Men in Black III (wait – there was a MIB II?!) that it became obvious that this was a blatant publicity stunt. Geez, way to make me feel violated, Madrid.Something tells me Wodge might’ve preferred this as the trophy.
But like in previous years, the Madrid trophy ceremony had its fair share of “confetti moments”, as Federer ran over to his clan with some Mothers Day PDA for Mirka and cheek pinching for the Mighty Bébés.
Umm … I am FINDING it … VERY HARD not … to WRITE in CAPITAL LETTERS right NAO. EXCUSE ME AS I … gather up the … REMNANTS OF my … imploded LADYBITS.
ADOPT ME. I’m an awesome daughter. Seriously.
Woger will head to Rome today, and has until Wednesday to decide whether he’ll be physically ready to play the tournament, after some niggling hip issues last week in Madrid.
Between Federer and Nadal, whoever wins Rome will be seeded No 2 going into Roland Garros. Federer will remain No 2 if Nadal fails to reach the final. However, should Rafa reach the final, Woger will need to get to the semis at least to hold onto the #2 seeding for the French Open.
Here’s to hoping he’s well enough to put up a good fight for it.