Toronto/Cincy: First I was afraid! I was petrified!
He doesn’t care about Masters anymore.
He doesn’t know how to handle big hitters.
He’s no longer motivated after winning 16 slams.
The crowd is bored of a guy who has dominated tennis for the last 7 years.
Roger Federer’s brain has turned into baby poop.
With the exception of the last, Roger Federer proved all of the above statements to be false as he roared his way to a 63 57 76(5) win over Berdy.
To my fellow Fedophiles: take this rare chance to relish our smugness, repeat after me (resort to fist pumps and neck movements if necessary) FUCK YEAH FUCK YEAH FUCK YEAH FUCK YEAH.
And to those experts who called it otherwise: UP YOURS UP YOURS UP YOURS UP YOURS.
How do I sum up the match? Fed floated, he fell. He flailed, he fought. And boy, did he fight like the junkyard dog he used to be! Before the lung infection, before Indian Wells and Miami morphed Federer into a scrappy, slightly timid player, unable to claim the chances gifted to him. He dug deep, changed his body language after getting down 1-4 in the final set and found the emotional energy to stay strong in the match.
The first set wasn’t as close as a 63. The second set should’ve ended in a tiebreak. The third set should’ve been lost at 3-6. But it matters not.
What matters is that I saw deliberate wrong-footing tactics, instead of his usual go-with-the-flow approach. I saw an incredible 24 out of 29 points won at the net for a guy who normally looks too lazy to bend down for a volley. I saw improved movement around the court. I saw a set and a half of sublime backhands NOT dunked into the net. I saw some spectacular clutch serving at 5-6 in the third set when he needed the tiebreak. And best of all? I saw a crowd who treated him as one of their own and carried him to victory.
It wasn’t always pretty, but it was the sort of mental wobble he needed to battle past to become competitive mentally again, and regardless of what happens tomorrow or (should he win) on Sunday, Toronto has provided him with enough of an upward momentum for the US Open series.
That’s what matters.
As for Berdych – dude made a stand. He fought any breakpoints Federer had after the first set with positive, aggressive tennis – key to his ability to push this match to a third set tiebreak.
… and that’s as nice as I’ll be to a guy who fist-pumps and death-stares after his opponent’s errors. Mental games? You ain’t no Lleyton Hewitt bitch.
Numbers for you to crunch on.
Meanwhile, Rafa seemed to have contracted Roger’s breakpointivitis for a while during his match against Kohlismylover, eventually toughing it out 36 63 64 despite having numerous opportunities to break earlier in the third set. Kohlschreiber played an electric first set but made the error of letting Rafa into the match too early in the second set. From then on, Rafa started to loosen up and Kohly unknowingly fell into a more passive pattern of play, particularly on his returns.
Rafa will have to perk up for his next opponent, as Toothface had no trouble dismissing an out-of-sorts Nalbandian 62 62. Meanwhile Djoko breathed easily against Jeremy Chardy in the last match of the night session – 62 63.
We have a great weekend of tennis excellence lined up: in Canada, the men’s top 4 are through to the semis for the first time in tournament history, while in Cincinnati, 3 former World No 1s are due for some semifinal action.
Maria Sharapova prevailed in a dominant win over Marion Bartoli – 61 64 – despite a slight wobble when trying to close out the match in the second set. Not that I saw any of it – I was too busy eating Neapolitan ice cream with my eyes. She’ll meet Nastya Pavs for the first time tomorrow for a place in the final.
By the way, Nike? This double-helix thing isn’t working for me.
Ivanovic, on the other hand, defeated the 114th ranked Uzbek, Akgul Amanmuradova, in tongue twister 6-1 6-3. Woah, she’s back! Er … if by back you mean beating players outside the top 100, instead of losing to Julie Coin. Grand slam success surely just around the corner now bitches. You watch!
Kim Clijsters had a tougher time than I expected against Flavs, eventually coming through 7-6 (6), 6-4 despite making 39 unforced errors. You’d think she’ll make it past Ivanovic, you’d think, wouldn’t ya? Judging by form this week, I doubt it’ll be a walk in the park.
Enjoy the frazzles folks. We get to keep up the smugness for at least another day.