Indian Wells: Pusherama.
1. Apologies for the lack of Indian Wells coverage. If blogging while doing a double degree, working and having the pretense of a life was tough, try taking away home internet.
But praise Roger Federer, my internet is back and faster than ever. Now what have I missed?
2. After his quarterfinal exit at the Australia Open that saw the media hailing the end of Rafael Nadal’s career, Rafa spent the week in Indian Wells serving up humble pies to the obituary writers.
Want one? I hear he runs a good bakery.
But the real test for Rafa will come on Sunday, when he’ll face either Soderling or Roddick in the final (yes, he’s going to beat Ljuby. Are you kidding me?).
Should he walk away with the title in hand, it’ll be his first top 10 victory since “the World According to Rafa” came crashing down last June. Incidentally, it’ll also be his first ATP title in almost 10 months.
While there’s no need for us to get ahead of ourselves, you bet he’s ready for it. I can practically feel his energy through my screen.
3. I hate pushers.
Yes, it’s a somewhat disrespectful and often misused term to brand someone, but there is a certain brand of scavenging, defensive, uncreative tennis that deserves all the disrespect it can get. Brad Gilbert tried to make it hip, in a “self-help tennis” kinda way, but I haven’t got a problem with beauty. Let those who can’t win settle for ugliness, we all need something eye-pleasing to appreciate and aspire to, even if most of us can’t emulate the same kind of aesthetics ourselves.
Which is an awfully convoluted way of bringing me to the bizarre conundrum that is my love affair with Lady Jaja, the only “pusher” I’ve ever really liked.
It isn’t about the drama, the smile or the glitter. Liking a player because you appreciate their personality is a bit like eating ice cream because you like hundreds-and-thousands. The reason I love Lady Jaja and keep my fingers crossed for her win tomorrow comes down to this: she plays like a girl. She moves like a girl. Hell, she talks, dresses, acts, bitches, fights, laughs and cries like a girl.
I once I heard a tennis commentator compliment Serena by saying “she plays like a man”. With JJ (as with Martina Hingis I might add), it’s the exact opposite. And isn’t it just as pretty?
4. All this ‘philosophisationing” aside, Lady Jaja dismissed Sam Stosur in straight sets in the semifinal of Indian Wells to book a place in the final. She’ll be facing CWoz in the final, who also had an easy day against Aga.
Talk about pusherama. In JJ and Carol’s perfect world, points die from natural causes in their sleep. Get yourselves some coffee, ’cause we’re in for a long day.
5. Talk about pushers, scavenger tennis might bring you the type of consistency undreamed of by players like James Blake, but it also has a tendency to make you look utterly powerless when your opponent happens to be painting the lines with gusto.
We saw it at the US Open when Murray nursed some wristy problems and looked listless against Cilic. We saw almost two sets of it during the Australian Open men’s final and we saw it again today, as Muzz was booted out of the tournament by Dimples Sod, 61 76.
Talk about a ‘Soderporn Saturday’, when he wasn’t serving bombs and abusing yellow fuzzy things, Soderling found enough mental presence to dig himself out of a few early and late break points to race away to an insurmountable lead and close out the match in straight sets.
Regardless of your opinion of Sod, be it that he’s a douche or perhaps just a grossly misunderstood guy, the man’s certainly a straight-talker. Dootsie approves.
Q. How do you feel the way you’re playing in this tournament?
ROBIN SODERLING: I don’t care. [laughter.]
Never change, Dimplecakes. Don’t you dare get all smooth-talking on me.
6. I haven’t made any dramas out of what Federer said at the press conference after his loss to Marcos Baghdatis. In truth, I’m with Soddy on this, I don’t care.
People who think Roger Federer’s hair turned him from a tennis god into an actual god won’t care if he was brutally honest after a bad loss. The fact that Roger’s a tremendously sore loser is almost never relevant. (And it isn’t, not to me anyway. I like sore loser Fed.)
By the same token, people who claim to hate Federer, yet spend every minute of their day talking about him are going to spin it the same way they spin everything. So why bother?
What I will say is this: Roger Federer was pissy, annoyed and angry at himself after he lost to Baghdatis. And if you’re a Federer fan, that’s a good thing.
Who said he stopped caring about Masters? Off with their heads!
7. Serena, del Potro, and Maria Sharapova out of Miami. Roll on the 2010 casualty train.