Down Under Day 10: Yesimalivethanksforasking.
You know, I’m not sure that I actually want to recount the match.
For a set and a half, I could literally feel my stomach ulcerate as Roger struggled to actually hit the ball.
Nikolay played consistent tennis, but excuse my possible KAD bias here – Federer broke himself in that first set. Davydenko didn’t need to play “playstation tennis”, Roger could barely play 3 shots in a row. His timing, his reaction to Davy Dee’s serve, his feel of the ball … nothing was there.
So badly did he play during the first set and a half that the crowd was stunned flat, muttering under the breaths, “come on Roger”, “wake up Roger”.
To make matters worse, a sun was moving from the east side of the court to the west (where I was sitting), which made cross-court rallies go in and out of the shadow. Federer couldn’t see the ball, nor could he handle serving on the northern end of the court (looking into the sun).
It took Roger a set and a break to “wake up”. Dayvdenko had 2 breakpoints to go up a double break in the second set – Federer held, hitting his first forehand winner of the set in the process, and just like that, Mr Momentum turned.
By then, the shadow had pulled across the whole court, leaving the arena considerably cooler and the balls flying a little slower.
The crowd woke up, chanting “FEDUHRUH [clap clap clap] FEDUHRUH [clap clap clap] FEDUHRUH [clap clap clap]” during the change of ends, and when Federer broke in the next game, Dootsie jumped up so suddenly that she sent her frazzle-buddy and Picket Fence reader PJ‘s blackberry flying into the air.
In fact, the entire arena was on their feet. As the American tourist sitting next to us remarked, ‘oh now he’s here. He just wanted to make it interesting for us, you see?”
But Roger has had enough of “interesting”. In a rush, he reeled off the next 12 straight games, exposing the murky form that Davy Dee brought against Verdasco in his previous round.
While Dayvdenko momentarily found a bit of mojo in the last 3 games of the match, breaking back when Federer was serving for the match, Roger had rediscovered his range by the fourth set.
With some riveting play from both men, Fed broke for the last time in the match, and gave Dayvdenko no second chance. Roger served out the match with some of the most ridiculous kick serves I’ve seen from him in my lifetime, and the crowd was on their feet and screaming like a bunch of drunken Geelong fans on grand finals day.
Did y’all see me? I was the nutter jumping up and down, waving a GOAT-flag and hi-fiving PJ in the stands as we celebrated the fact that OH-MY-GEE! WE SURVIVED!
Special mentions to fellow Fedophiles Cecilia and Nina, who I met up with after they flew down from Sydney to attend the tennis. And to LJ, who was stuck outside, frazzling/hyperventilating/dying in front of a giant screen. I couldn’t have made it without your floods of text messages.
The quality of tennis may not have been high, but boy – the drama! The relief! The engagement of the crowd! The ECSTATIC JOY we all felt in witnessing the survival of the greatest streak in modern sport.
The stomach ulcers were worth it.