1. Oh Rotterdam, I asked for Nole v Davo, instead I got Sod v Headclobber … and somehow, that’s even better.
Solid results aside, since his impressive victory over Fed in Qatar, Kolya’s tennis has downgraded from Playstation to Tamagotchi. In particular, his 5-set win over Nando in Melbourne, which was the single worst match I’ve ever had the misfortune of witnessing.
Not that the Sod’s been playing Xbox tennis either. He almost let a 5-2 lead slip in the first set, after Davydenko fought back to bring about a tiebreaker. But with a bit of self-destruction from Davo and solid serving from Sod, Davydenko conceded the tiebreak 5-7 and the Sod clicked into bonecrush mode, finishing off the second set 7-6, (3) 6-4.
2. Who is this pusher and what have you done with Novak Djokovic?
There was a time, back in 2007-08 when I thought Novak Djokovic was the biggest wanker in town. Much of that prejudice, I’m afraid, carried through to this day, but even in my dislike, I used to be able to appreciate Djokovic’s shot-making. When he was shooting his mouth off, there was a certain defiant vehemence in his game. He was aggressive, free-hitting; he was hungry and desperate – it seemed – for some respect as a contender in this sport.
He made it. He won a slam. He ended Roger Federer’s streak of 10 consecutive finals. What then?
These days, I watch Novak Djokovic and wonder where all that defiance I once hated went? Where did this complacency come from? What’s with the grinder mentality when you have such solid weapons off both wings? More importantly – what happened to the serve?
In his first tournament as the World No 2, Djoko was upset by Mikhail “Headclobber” Youzhny 7-6 (5) 7-6 (6). With this loss, Djoko has yet to beat a top 50 player in 2010.
Never has the gap between the World No 1 and 2 looked wider.
3. The cold hard truth:
2003-7: Weak era.
2008-early 2009: Weak era exposed.
2009-early 2010: Weak era resumes.
Or so some simpletons out there would want us to believe. To that I reply with all the smugness I’m capable of mustering: my guy has 16 slams. Nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh.
As if anything else mattered.
4. What I hate about the two sides of the Federer debate is that there is so little appreciation for nuance from either side.
Pete Bodo’s piece on the Fedal rivalry this week sparked the sort of mass outrage from Federer fans that should be only reserved for the worst of the world’s dictators. Douglas Perry from the Oregonian then wrote a stirring rebuttal to Bodo defending Roger’s achievements (clickey, or read GTT’s concise guide to the “asterisk debate”).
Here’s the deal: there is nothing you can say about Federer or Nadal that would come as news to me anymore. The war of words has been fought to death, now can we get more tennis from those two and less fandom crusades?
On the one hand, Rafa has become a convenient “go to” for Federer-haters too unwilling to take Federer’s GOAT status without a pinch of salt. And Rafa happens to be of the savoury variety. Yummy.
And yes – Rafa bothers Fed. It’s stylistic. It’s mental. It’s everything to do with the nature of this rivalry. It’s why we find it compelling for fuck sake.
Even as a Federer fan, I am perfectly capable of admitting all that.
On the other, one can’t help by laugh at the hypocrisy of those predicting anyone but Fed to win the Australian Open pre-tournament, spending the entire off-season waxing lyrical about how close the gap is at the top of the men’s game, only to have Fed fry eggs on their faces in the blistering Melbournian sun.
How else are they supposed to respond? By shoving an effing asterisk down our effing throat.
By trying to discredit Federer’s achievements with factors completely outside his control like who he gets on the other side of the net en route to a slam victory. By punishing him for playing “catch me if you can” with the rest of the ATP and winning.
Murray tried. Murray was in a better position to win a slam than he’d been all his career. Murray failed.
And now, the Fed-haters are freaking out.