Offseason Ranting: Dootsie Beatdown 3 … 2 … 1 …

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I really wanted to “let this one go”, so to speak. I really wanted to be a bigger person. I did!

But you know what? I’m not a journalist. I am just another fan with another blog and I don’t have to be big about this. I’ve been trained to never step away from an argument, especially one so full of potential for fun and so baiting.

So I’m taking the bait bitch. You bet I am.

The “Esteemed” – terribly prolific – Mister Bruce Jenkins had some “Year End Thoughts” following the London Whu-Thu-Fuh last week, which he (or Sports Illustrated) titled “Roger Federer bested Rafael Nadal in London, but 2011 will bring Rafa Slam“.

Wow.

Either the Esteemed One gazed into a crystal ball and was immediately possessed by the ghosts of Khalil Gibran telling him that Spain has conquered Australia, OR he is simply incapable of logic. Because evidently, watching Roger Federer blaze through the Top 8 field at the Year End Championships like he was skipping through a field of tulips led Bruce Jenkins to only one possible, logical conclusion:

Rafael Nadal *will* win the Australian Open.

Reasoning skillz. You haz it.

But I mustn’t hold grudges so quickly. Give the guy a chance, ya know? Better journalists than he have resorted to a sensationalist headline here and there. Let’s read on …

It all started innocently enough, Jenkins proclaims in the opening line that “even with the 6-1 finish, this was spectacular entertainment”…

“it must have been heavenly to be there. From the standpoint of sophistication, international glamour and celebrity influence, the crowds at London’s 02 Arena were penthouse quality.”

For those not so well-accustomed to reading court judgements: whenever a judge is about to begin a legalistic trash talk to end all trash talks, he starts by praising the subject of the trash talk, raising them above and beyond the ordinary. Jenkins is employing a similar technique here, for you can almost smell a gigantic “but” in that line somewhere …

And here comes the “but”:

“The rest of the world? Bored, confused, or perhaps not even aware the event was taking place. It got terrible media coverage, as always, because the general public shuts down interest at the close of the U.S. Open — exactly when the tennis tours should end.

Own up. Break it to me guys: who exactly died and made Bruce Jenkins representative of “the rest of the world”?

Suddenly, I found myself relegated to “unworldly” status, since I was quite the polar opposite of “bored”, “confused” and “unaware” of the tournament’s existence.

Or perhaps he meant that the average sports fan, reading through the Melbourne daily papers, might miss the giant photograph of Federer’s roar plastered on the inside pages. Oh but wait, Melbourne’s not “the rest of the world either”. Tennis coverage down-under isn’t real coverage. Just like the Australian Open isn’t really a slam.

No. In Jenkins’ ideal world, “tennis stops when the US Open stops”. He of course forgets to mention that in his “ideal world”, tennis should probably start when the US Open starts too.

(Except for that brief period that the Year End Championships was held on that dinky shithole of a court in Houston. Those were the good days, I tell ya...)

That said, it would appear that Jenkins’ problem with the Whu-Thu-Fuh extends beyond mere timing, as he insisted: “B-B-BUT …

“Besides, this “year-end championship” didn’t decide a damn thing.”

Oh I’m sorry. Did you want the Year End Championships to “decide on something“? …. Other than – oh I dunno – the winner of the tournament?

Or perhaps if Nadal had won the tournament, it would’ve “decided” something. As many tennis writers trumpeted pre-match, had Nadal won, THIS WOULD’VE BEEN THE BEST SEASON OF ALL TYME. ALL. TIME.

(Except-for-those-years-where-Federer-won-3-slams-posted-double-digit-titles-and-single-digit-losses-BUT-let’s-not-let-true-facts-get-in-the-way-of-a-good-story)

Here is what the YEC did decide: in a field of 8 of the world’s top players, the person who fared the best against his closest rivals is the winner of the tournament. It’s tough. It’s competitive. It’s a tournament where you have no place to hide. As simple as that. Doesn’t take a genius to work that out, but it does take a full-blown hater with a jealous heart to see it as anything else. Continue on, I say!

For the first time all year — perhaps his entire career — Nadal looked flat and disheartened at the finish. He’s the stampeding warrior who fights for every point, yet as Federer’s climactic forehand sailed long (most of the fans seemed to feel that way), Nadal just surrendered. He’s far too classy to make excuses in defeat, but tennis.com’s Pete Bodo said Nadal’s voice “creaked with fatigue” in the post-match interview.

In my best Don Draper impersonation: Whut? WHUT? And WHUT? Nadal looked flat and disheartened? For the first time in his career?! (Wait … so he was actually perky and motivated when he lost 0-6 1-6 to Youzhny in Chennai a few years ago? Good for Youzhny then.)

This isn’t a slight against Nadal. Far from it. What I’m saying is that I’ve seen Rafa look flat before. I’ve seen him disheartened and resigned at times. The Rafa I saw during the match yesterday was simply a guy who tried everything. In fact, he’s been trying everything from the start of the tournament – against Roddick, against Murray … If he was “flat”, it was because the field and especially Federer had deflated him. If he looked disheartened … well, I would be too, if I had my heart whipped into pieces by vicious backhand winners.

As for Jenkins’ potty comment that Nadal “just surrendered”. How insulting. To Rafael Nadal that is.

And this is where Jenkins confuses me. He seems to think that the best way for him to make sure that no one discredits Nadal is by doing all the discrediting himself.

“Just because Federer won the World Tour Final doesn’t mean he won it” is the slightly confusing point Jenkins was making here.

Just like “just because you have a notepad doesn’t mean you can write.”

And just because something is titled “year end thoughts” doesn’t mean it’s the product of ACTUAL THINKING.

But don’t doubt his devotion to the Spaniard, as Jenkins gleefully muses:

“Can’t wait for their next match on clay, where the high bounces so perfectly suit Nadal’s strategy.”

Read: “can’t wait for the next time my Rafa boy kicks that stoopid fail of a 16 slam champ’s ass.”

I’d have no issues with reading that on somewhere like the Vamos Brigade. In fact, plenty of Federer fans have said similar things about different surfaces. But when I read it on Sports Illustrated, from a supposedly professional journalist, you bet I’m clicking into Smackdown Mode. Because those “silly”, emotionally invested, kool-aid drinking, smack talking fans I just mentioned live, love, laugh and cry over these wins and losses. And if there a journalist out there using his professional space to ruin the moment, then he deserves all the smack downs he gets.

And the smackdown shall continue, as Jenkins descends into Prophet mode.

“Nadal owns nine major titles as the tennis year ends. When the tour starts preparing for Wimbledon next summer, he’ll have 11. He’ll be intensely motivated to turn the Australian Open into a “Rafa Slam” — the distinction of holding all four major titles at once — and nobody’s beating him in Paris.”

I’m not going to argue about “favourites”, odds, or punters’ picks here. Because all those things are beside the point: Ivan Ljubicic won Indian Wells. Francesca Schiavone took home the French Open. If you think there is such a thing as certainty in tennis, then I’m sure you won’t mind me bookmarking this page for some future date when you’re proven batshit insane and I get to fist pump so hard that I accidentally punch you IN YOUR FACE.

This highly personalised trash talk from me does have another purpose. I hereby pose a challenge to the wider tennis community: Tennis Journalists of the World, I challenge you to tell me ONE thing. ONE. About Federer and Nadal that hasn’t been said before.

This was one of the points I raised back in the comments section a few posts ago. During the final on Sunday, Wertheim (SI) was asked who he was rooting for, to which he replied “for the better story”.

The two stories here are two sides of the same coin. Nadal, the hunter, the bull, the braveheart. On an inevitable path to glory, to surpass Federer. Who is declining, failing, perennially hunted, and finally at the claws of capture.

Every match, every win or loss, is fed into this mass media meta-narrative like an algebra equation. The scores and tournament may differ, but the essence does not change. We have been fed the same story in tennis for the last 4 years.

Can the narrative ever change?

Here is my narrative.

Nadal’s journey does not have to be defined by reference to Federer. Every media account of the rivalry need not portray him as a ‘lack’ to Federer, a gaping hole that needed to be filled, to the brim and overflowing. He does not simply have two modes: injured or winning. He goes through peaks and troughs just like any other tennis player quite independently of his physical conditions.

My narrative for Federer, despite all my anger directed at him, is not a narrative of decline, but one of the Great Unknown. We have a guy here who has gone where no man has *ever* gone in this sport. He is the only man who knows right now what it feels like to be sailing into unchartered waters. Instead of getting onboard and marvelling at the expanded boundaries of human achievement, the media wants to speculate over the ship sinking.

Go figure.

So I guess my point in this verbal diarrhea is that every media story out there has become the same as every other. But even despite this, we can have a different story, a different way of thinking. A different celebration of all things Fedal. And we get to board a ship and sail to somewhere unknown to mankind. So get, your fucking ass, onboard.

(Oh yeah, my other point that Bruce Jenkins should have his ass kicked to Uranus and back.)

And now, I will shut up at last.

Xx Doots

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88 responses to “Offseason Ranting: Dootsie Beatdown 3 … 2 … 1 …”

  1. LJ says :

    AMEN SISTER

    can we print this out and you know…mail it to Bruce as a FREAKING HARD COPY?

    so he can tape it to his bathroom mirror and read it EVERY MORNING

    99% of tennis journos are COCKS, the other 1% are just football journos masquerading.

  2. Sue says :

    Fucking yes.

    Your move, Bruce Jenkins…

    p.s. Loved seeing Tursunov laying into Ricky Dimon, just shows how far apart the tennis ‘journalists’ are from the actual players, and the self-important oracle-like images they build for themselves.

  3. tennis_diva says :

    I never read SI, Doots, but I read you. Great post! Thanks!

  4. PJ says :

    How many MARRY ME comments can I post on your blog? A lot, evidently.

    I clicked the link. Know I shouldn’t but I did and oh my god. That is journalism? It is very very dead. Bad writing, bad reasoning, bad deductions, zero logic overall. You just handed his ass to him on a platter and I wish to dear God that there will be some way Mr. Zero Jenkins can see this.

    Good bloggage. I want to be the bigger person, too, but “tennis media” makes it so hard sometimes.

  5. Carol says :

    Thank you Doots!

  6. pban says :

    WHO THE HELL IS BRUCE JENKINS??? more importantly who does he think he is and the 2nd question is not dripping with sarcasm….I am curious to know the answers to both???

  7. pban says :

    Speaking of Ljubicic did this moron even watch that SF in IW…..I am sure Rafa looked very perky in the 3rd set TB but Ljubicic being the far superior player smashed him to smithereens.

    • Deborah says :

      And do you remember how Rafa called his defeat “an accident”? I’m still waiting for that to be called “low rent”. Doots, you are so brilliant, I’m struck blind a half a world away. With your bad self!

  8. Vanilla says :

    Great post.
    There are so many things I could tell Jenkins and his friends from the media, but alot has been said already and I’d rather let Roger do the talking with his raquet.
    I like to be positive and I see 2 good things that came out of this mascarade:
    1- Fed fans united like I’ve rarely seen before. Check most tennis sites,and you’ll see Fed fans REPRESENT. We’ve always been around, because Roger has the biggest fan base among tennis players, but the media managed to push even the most die-hard lurkers to come out and say enough is enough. It’s not going to change anything, I know, but it means we won’t allow the media decide which is the better story.
    2- The pressure is off Roger, maybe for the first time ever. Because even winning the “fifth Slam” of the year doesn’t make him a favourite for next year’s majors, as far as these reporters are concerned. Jenkins can’t even imagine any other winner, he automatically assumes Rafa will have 11 Slams by Wimbledon 2011. So no more excuses, Rafa. The pressure is ALL on you . Can’t use the underdog card anymore and it’s about time too.

  9. abrnyc says :

    check this out… IN!

    Mr. Jenkins can shove this up his pompous arse!

    at least some journo’s make an effort to look at the facts:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/dailyfix/2010/11/29/the-federer-nadal-rivalry-rekindled/

  10. felini says :

    Well,Nadal did look rusty ,out of form and ironically fatigued as well while Federer was in splendid form. So, may be the loss was a result of both of these factors.It is not easy to play and win against Fed especially after a brutal 3 hr match with Muzz. Can anyone deny that Fatigue didn’t play a role in Rafa’s loss in Madrid 09, after playing a 4 hr epic against Djoko just 24 hrs before? Surely one can argue that how the hell Rafa ended up winning AO 09? Well three things- 1)Rafa had more than 48 hrs to recover, 2) It was a slam final, 3)Rafa indeed looked fatigued in the final of AO as well !

    • felini says :

      But still ,I think that Rafa was more rusty than fatigued. In fact he hasn’t played at his best level throughout the final.Muzz should have won that semi. He deserved it more.

      • felini says :

        throughout the “tournament”, not “final”. My mistake

        • Ceeza says :

          A 29 year old Rog played the finals in Shanghai, Stockholm, Basel, and then a semi in Paris leading into the WTFs … a 24 year old Rafa was coming off a 3week plus break … The fatigued arguement needs to stop..

        • felini says :

          Well, if you play a 3 hr plus match, and if you areasked to play another match in less than 24 hrs, fatigue will be a factor. Try to ask a soccer player to play another match in 24 hrs time.Anyway,I don’t think fatigue was as big a factor as Rafa’s rustiness.He looked terribly flat and out of form throughout the tournament while Rog was playing splendidly well.

      • dootsiez says :

        “Muzz should have won that semi. He deserved it more.”

        That is NOT logical.

        The person who won is the person who deserves to win, barring blatant cheating. There is no such thing in my books as “deserving to win”. If you played well enough to win and didn’t win, that is entirely your problem.

        • felini says :

          If you have seen the Muzz-Nadal semi ,and somehow this feeling that “Murray deserved to win the way he played”, didn’t spring into your mind, then I can’t help you. True, Nadal was good in that match as well, but you can’t deny that Nadal was “off” and not in his “best” form throughout the tournament. Still, somehow he managed to reach the final. No doubt Fed deserved to win the WTF as he was by far the best player of the tournament and no excuses can take that away from him, but you can’t deny that Nadal was slightly off the entire tournament.

        • dootsiez says :

          I’m not saying that Murray didn’t play well. I’m simply saying that the concept of “deserving to win” in tennis is ridiculous.

          Tennis isn’t about merit. You don’t get brownie points for playing well for an entire set and failing to find that extra level required to close out sets, to close out matches.

          I don’t friggin care if Andy Murray goes out there and blasts winners at 1-all: it’s about the key points. As simple as that. The person who plays better at crucial moments “deserves” to win. And that person was Rafa. I don’t dish out tea and sympathy to those who play well for 3 sets and loses 2 of them because they had it in their power to win. If they can’t – their problem.

        • felini says :

          I get your point and I concur with you. Of course ,Nadal played much better on key points. That is why he is Rafael Nadal.What I am trying to say is that Murray played one of his best matches ever against his greatest opponent who was slightly off his game, and I find it hard to digest that he didn’t win. Thats all.

    • steve says :

      Nadal had to play his very best tennis to subdue Murray.

      That wasn’t a bad performance from Nadal–it was a great performance from him. The only way he could beat Murray was to serve so well that it was just as hard for Murray to break him as it was for him to break Murray. Then it became a match of attrition, which Nadal will nearly always win because he’s more clutch. It was won, essentially, in the first set, when he served his way into the tiebreak. Murray was slightly more tentative, and Nadal was always dialed in, and he won the tiebreak. After that, even if Murray could level it, it was always going to be very difficult for him to win, because when it got close again, Nadal’s mental strength would prevail.

      In the final Nadal played very well for the first two sets–much more aggressive than he usually plays. His first-serve percentage was above 75%. It’s just that Federer played godlike in the first set, attacking constantly and allowing Nadal no breathing room. Nadal’s defense became useless, and he had to try to play offensively in order to keep up with Federer.

      Nadal was promptly able to take advantage when Federer’s first serve dropped, breaking in the second set and serving it out without facing a break point. Clearly he had to play at his peak to do that.

      The effort of playing so offensively and trying to match Federer’s pace and deal with the variation of Federer’s shots put enormous mental strain on him. By the third his game crumbled. It had nothing to do with his being tired, and everything to do with being comprehensively outplayed.

      • felini says :

        I agree that Federer was brilliant, and deserved to win the final. What I don’t agree on is when you say that Nadal was at his peak in the final. That is not true, and don’t blindly believe it.Go analyse all the Nadal matches in this tournament.

      • marcoiac says :

        steve, i don’t know where you live and if we will ever meet, but if we do, i’ll buy you a drink. perRFect analysis. only thing, not sure his game crumbled at the end. he was utterly frustrated, but fed also raised his level again. last 30 points: fed wins 22, rafa 8. of those 22, i counted 2 UE from rafa. the rest were either winners or forced errors.
        btw, i kind of noticed it, but in the moment of awe for his CC BH, his aggressive returns, the highly effective serve out wide on deuce side, i didn’t comment on it. fed also flattened quite a bit his FH. which made it even more effective than usual of course. but also shows his confidence and mindset. we all rely on topspin as a safety net. he wasn’t hitting totally flat, but mach flatter. key issue will be to be able to do it also on surfaces with higher bounce. timing will be key. but if he can play that FH a little flatter than usual, and do all the rest, there’s no game for anybody. NOBODY.

    • TGIF says :

      Thank you for point #3, which I completely agree with and often gets overlooked.
      When Fed beats Rafa people say, “no big deal, Rafa was tired”; but I know from experience that Fed is more than capable of losing to tired Rafa, with AO ’09 being exhibit A.
      Which is why I am proud of Feddy for every win over any version of Rafa.

      • TGIF says :

        FYI I meant to reply to felini’s post about how Nadal seemed tired at AO ’09 as well.
        Somehow my reply got detached from the original post.

      • felini says :

        You should be proud because Fed thoroughly deserved this win, the way he played. He was clearly the best of the lot. It makes Australian Open an enticing prospect.

    • Alex says :

      Whose fault is it that Nadal plays these 3 hour matches on a hardcourt? You can’t say it’s a lucky draw for Federer, because Nadal is just as likely to play a 3hr match against Djokovic! Bottom line is that Federer is the more efficient player and should dominate on all non-clay surfaces IF he’s not injured/sick.

      • felini says :

        I am not sure if Fed can “dominate” Nadal on non-clay surfaces. On indoor HC, yes Fed is a better player, but on outdoor HC and grass, they are pretty much toe-to-toe,and please don’t use this excuse “If he’s not sick”

  11. Jack says :

    This Bruce Jenkins guy sounds like a arrogant, bitter arsehole!!

    I mean, seriously, is there something in the apllication that says in order to get a job as a tennis journo, you have to be a utter dickhead!

    And you’d think they’d learn from past mistakes…..I’m sure last year they were all saying Rafa wasn’t going to get beat at the French and we all know how clever they looked then

  12. Matt Zemek says :

    Oh, my.

    HORNET’S NEST! HORNET’S NEST! WITH A CHERRY ON TOP AND DON DRAPER NOT KNOWING WHUT TO SAY.

    I’d say about 80 percent of these criticisms are spot-on, necessary, and highly arousing. No need to add to Doots’s customary brilliance and panache. The fatigue/surrender part is particularly odious and reprehensible, and yes, it’s insulting to Nadal as well as Federer. The tired (IRONY! IRONY!) perpetuation of old, stale memes in tennis journalism is the worst part of it all. Nadal and Federer win or lose only for certain limited reasons, and that does both men a great disservice.

    So, with that having been said, two things in defense of Bruce Jenkins (i.e., to address the 20 percent of criticisms that don’t hit the mark):

    Jenkins is speaking in an American-centric context, writing for an American sports magazine. Now, as an American political liberal, I regard it as tragic that Americans don’t understand much of the world beyond their own borders, to the country’s great detriment. I don’t like American-centric thinking on a political level.

    However, in tennis, the sport doesn’t indeed get any media coverage of note after the US Open. That’s just a reality. ESPN2 only televised the final match of the WTF and did not cover the Masters swing in October and early November. College and pro football completely overwhelm America at this time of year, and the Miami Heat have crowded their way into ESPN’s world as well, due to their over-the-top excesses.

    American readers of this blog also know that even in the US Open itself, TV bows to American football instead of the tennis, as evidenced by the disgraceful handling of the Monday night final and the trophy ceremony which followed it. Jenkins’s criticisms of media coverage and tennis’s visibility are entirely accurate within an American context, and since America is still a main driver of profits for both tennis tours, given the centrality of Indian Wells and Miami as non-major tournaments, it’s important for tennis to be seen as popular in America.

    As for Jenkins and Federer, while – as said above – Doots is largely accurate and admirable in eviscerating Jenkins’s genuinely pathetic perpetuation of the “fatigue” meme, it has to be said that Jenkins is a very thoughtful writer who holds Federer in the highest regard.

    LINK number one:

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2005-07-04/sports/17380898_1_federer-s-performance-wimbledon-centre-court

    LINK number two:

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2006-09-08/sports/17309795_1_roger-federer-andy-roddick-nikolay-davydenko

    Jenkins’s high-quality writing makes his – and his colleagues’ – susceptibility to these memes very frustrating, but make no mistake, these guys who write about tennis are very talented. Perhaps the long tennis season is a grind on them and their editors as well as the players themselves. (I would agree with such a statement; deadlines do reduce the amount of original thinking a sportswriter can produce. I experience this in writing about American college football. Sportswriting is not as easy as it might first appear.)

    Nevertheless, Doots, still a fantastic post. 80-percent brilliance is a Roger Federer kind of track record if I may say so!🙂

    • dootsiez says :

      Re Links 1 and 2 – refer to Steve’s comment a few scrolls down below. When he’s wining a lot, he is a tennis god. When he’s losing, he is a false god.

      The fact that Jenkins can go from writing high praises to “can’t wait til the next time Nadal gets him on clay” is probably the best proof of that.

      And so – tennis doesn’t get much coverage in the US outside the US Open. Nor does it in Australia, outside the slams (and it seems from next year – not even the other slams). I can’t think of a more presumptuous way of expressing it than “the rest of the world?” being “bored”, “confused” and unaware of the tournament’s existence.

      Readership or otherwise, it is a false statement to make.

      But I will take the 80% brilliance. High praises for my rants Moonpie.😉

    • pban says :

      Regarding the 2nd link you posted Matt it is a perfect example of the self tomtomming ass that JENKINS is. Fed will never have fans screaming for him …this Jenkins.guy just loves to live in his own airheadedness(is that even a word… anyway you get the drift)I am a Fed loyalist till retirement do us part but in the context of what has happened in past 3 years I wish Fed had not been the subject of such open fawning in 2005-06.All those poetic references just seem totally hollow now.

  13. sue.w says :

    CLAP CLAP CLAP !!! Well said Doots!! The ridiculousness of this article would be laughable if it wasnt out there for other people to see !!! What is he ON for gods sake !! Your latest blog should be posted all over the internet as the only *sane* thing written since the final!! Well Done !!

  14. Ceeza says :

    It just irks me that they insinuate that coming off off 3 plus weeks of rest that he’s not fit enough to get through 5 best of 3 setters(with days off in between)….how the hell does he manage to get through 7 best of 5 setters in majors having played several tournaments leading up to them.. Especially clay where he plays everything.. I just don’t get the tired arguemnt sorry …

    • felini says :

      Like it or not , If you play another match in 24 hrs time after playing a long 3 hr + semi, fatigue will always be a factor in the final. However,it is subjective how much of a factor it proved to be?If you ask me there were two bigger factors than fatigue 1) Federer was brilliant throughout the tournament 2) Rafa was rusty ,flat and out of form throughout the tournament. To me all three factors contributed to the result.However, having said that noone can take this win away from Federer.He thoroughly deserved to win the final and the WTF title as he was by far the best in form player of the tournament. So, Congrats

  15. flor says :

    Good post at last a writer with a brain, tired of reading confused posts, and happy of reading an intelligent post.Excellent.

  16. A_Gallivant says :

    Good write up Doots. I concur with your final point about journalist coming up with a new narrative. Ultimately that is what I find so disappointing about the way journalist cover Fedal. They decide the story ahead of time and express surprise/dismay when their predictions prove false. I just don’t understand why none of them explored Fed’s play post Wimbly/ USO just as a fact without reference to decline or in comparison to Nadal’s great year. Their job is to offer insight/analysis of the landscape, not be dismissive churlish fanboys.

    In a weird way, some fans have shown more perspective because we are invested in seeing how our favorites deal with adversity rather than pile on the obituaries, which takes the long view I wish most writers would take.

    P.S. fatigue is a part of sport to be managed, just like injuries and one’s calendar. One of the key things Fed has remarked on over the years is how important it is to manage how you pace yourself through tourneys. You may win battle, but lose the war if you don’t finish matches wisely.

    • dootsiez says :

      Fatigue can be managed, absolutely. – Nadal took 6 weeks off prior to the tournament and he only played 2 matches in Shanghai.

      Which is why I’m not buying it as an excuse from the media. You’re not going to sit there and tell me that a guy 5 years Federer’s junior can’t play a week of straight/3 set tennis without feeling burnt out. 3 hour matches are fairly standard for Nadal at the slam level.

      The simple fact is – he is *always* going to clock more hours on court than Federer coming into a final, don’t use that to insult him and suggest that the “the most athletic player on the planet” can’t lose without being injured or tired.

      • Alex says :

        Actually technically speaking Nadal had 5 weeks and several days between his Shanghai loss and first RR match in London. Yes I’m a stickler for getting it right!

  17. DetectiveLyd says :

    I definitely agree about not getting wound up about the ridiculous opinions of certain ‘journalists’, but then sometimes they are just people who deserve getting the smackdown brought to them as a consequence for their idiocy. And this guy definitely seems to have deserved it, sometimes I really do wonder how some people are able to become professional journalists when they write this kind of crap or draw that conclusion from seeing the WTF final.

    It’s pretty funny too how some of these guys seem to not realised that in a way they’re actually insulting Rafa’s ability as an athlete (which they seem so happy to constantly praise), when they claim he isn’t able to recover in enough time to pose an adequate threat to his opponent. Do they just forget when it suits them that the Masters 1000s and the majority of tournaments smaller than the Slams have players playing a match a day? These guys at the top of their league have to be used to it by now, it’s just the way things go on tour.

  18. roadrunnerz says :

    I love it when you’re angry!
    🙂

    I hadn’t read the Jenkins article until you pointed it out, but yeah…I couldn’t have written a better response myself.

    Truthfully, I kind of stopped reading post-match articles after the third “Fed beat a tired Rafa” one I read and I was getting ready to bang my head into a wall.

    That said, I do think Rafa (barring injury) will be the fave going into 2011, but man, if Fed finds a way to stay healthy AND keep up the form (and those are always the big ifs for every player, aren’t they? which of course makes tennis so fabulously unpredictable) he had at the WTF, what an exciting year 2011 could turn out to be.

  19. marron says :

    dootsie said: ‘Nadal’s journey does not have to be defined by reference to Federer. Every media account of the rivalry need not portray him as a ‘lack’ to Federer, a gaping hole that needed to be filled, to the brim and overflowing.’

    Thank you, thank you, Dootsie. Love this comment. As a Rafa fan, I loved it.

    And big HELLO!, Matt Zemeck. Foundja here, din’t I? LOL!!

    • Matt Zemek says :

      Hey, there!

      Congratulations on a fantastic year, one of the best in tennis history!

      If Rafa and Roger win two majors each next year, do we have a deal?😉

      Love,
      Matt

      • dootsiez says :

        Oi NO DEALING AWAY SLAMS!!!!!

      • marron says :

        Deal, buddy! And sorry, dootsie, this goes back a ways, don’t it, Matt.🙂

      • marron says :

        Yes, Matt, this really has been the best year for Rafa fans. Amazing. I knew Rafa would need a touch of luck to get that USO, and he did grab some, to go with his Jes*sServe. (no blasphemy intended). I’m happy too for Fedfans, for Fed to come through and bookend his year with big big wins – that’s got to feel so good, and give you lots of optimism for 2011. Fed dead? Off with your head!

        Back to the battle, Matt. Now I’ll ‘hate’ you again, LOL.

  20. Carotid says :

    Hi doots and fellow Fed friends,

    Lurker surfacing for a sec to mostly applaud your post. I thought I’d point out that there are some tennis writers who would push back against a ridiculous sour grapes article like Jenkins’. See, for example, http://blog.oregonlive.com/tennis/2010/11/rafael_nadal_doesnt_need_your_excuses.html

    • Deborah says :

      A couple of days before this, I had posted one of my crying about the double standards applied to Roger and Rafa pieces and the author was mildly amused and quoted me and all, almost with a “there, there, you poor deluded Federer fan” and then the Jenkins piece appeared. Instant karma gonna’s get you.

  21. kanjisheik says :

    I’m speechless. That is all.🙂

  22. Ann Ames says :

    You are a delight – thanks for many gleeful laughs. 🙂

  23. astraldrops says :

    *claps for this mighty post* You have indeed translated what I have felt when I read that article.

    Fedal stories are always the same. Nadal win- Federer is a loser, out of touch, good bye goat shenanigans. Nadal Loss- oh he was tired, fatigued, tendonitis, Fed was just lucky…etc of bullshitness.

    The sad thing the no tennis journo has picked up on is that Fed who happens to be 29 (that’s like 39 in tennis years) has beaten a guy 5 years his junior who dropped out of Paris for precautions, who looked like he wanted to win it- fought hard for it too (Roddick and Murray match anyone?). DOESN’T THAT BLOODY SAY SOMETHING about Roger’s win? Despite being way past his prime he can still whip Nadal’s ass to the bakery and offer him some breadsticks. I hate tennis journos; never have, never will.

  24. natalia says :

    I just LLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE this rant, LOVE it, LOVE it, LOVE it, and did I say I LLLLOVE it??????

  25. Wonderbra says :

    Maybe the reason Nadal lost is in that first picture. Look at his shorts.
    Does anyone else think he might have been a little…scared?😉

  26. marcoiac says :

    also, the ‘nobody is beating rafa in paris’ is a load of crap. if fed plays aggressive as at WTF, and actually a bit more (because he’s just transitioning to a more aggressive gameplan, and he can definitely improve in that department) he can beat rafa on any surface. i’d love to see fed and rafa at the peak of their game in 2011 so that they play tons of finals. if the federluthicone stays the course and fed stays healthy, he’ll fix the H2H with rafa. he can beat him, anytime, multiple times, anywhere, even in moron jenkins backyard

  27. TennisAce says :

    It must really grieve them that Federer uses Roddick as his punching bag. The great American player who would be the saviour of American tennis after Pete Sampras. The one who would bring American tennis into higher heights and places unknown. Just as the British media keep fawning over Murray and he cannot deliver. It must really gall them that Federer has achieved so much.

    Now the talk is always about how important Davis Cup is. Who the hail watches Davis Cup? How come all of a sudden Novak Djokovic is a contender. Just like many before him, he got lucky and won a major. Look at DelPo. Injuries have laid him low for most of the year.

    The question that should be asked is how come Nadal who took 5 weeks off, skipped Bercy is not able to compete against a man who has played almost 6 weeks straight, winning titles along the way. Federer has reached the semis or finals of every tournament he has entered since the USO. Nadal cannot say the same and yet the narrative that is being written is that Nadal is tired. Tired? He is 24 years old. 5 years younger than Federer. As a matter of fact there are those who like to say that when Federer was coming up he only played against the old guys. Apart from Djokovic, Murray and DelPo, show me who are the young ones that Nadal is competing against.

    FWIW how can you be the greatest ever when you are susceptible on a surface that you play on for 6 months out of the tennis season. The constant complaining about the schedule. The constant griping about injuries. Just the constant never ending griping from the Nadal apologisers makes me want to puke. In case people do not know this, in the time when Federer was winning most of his MS titles, it was best of 5. The Masters C up was also best of 5. It is now best of 3 and he is still winning them. Something needs to be said about that.

    • Alex says :

      Andy = Sampras on steroids LOL

      Rafa is 4 years 10 months younger, let’s be accurate! Every month counts in tennis, like dog years.

  28. jfK says :

    Doots, you go girl!! I’m sick of journos cheapening Roger’s win over Nadal with the tired and injured crap. Just never seems to end. I actually had a Nadal fan on MTF tell me that Nadal does not lose on any surface unless he is tired or injured. The quote from Bodo about Nadal’s “creaking voice” was just as bad. It made me want to throw up.

    • ClayBuster says :

      I think I know all too well which ‘Nadal fan’ (put between parenthesis as I sincerely believe that any honest fan couldn’t be THAT delusional) on MTF you mean.
      There’s a good reason why I don’t go there anymore.
      And Bozo… don’t even get me started on that ‘click-my-blog-and-I-get-more-$$$$’-attention seeker.

      • TGIF says :

        It wasn’t Bodo who wrote that, it was a guest blogger writing on his site.
        She’s a talented writer and did a nice job overall this week, but I also didn’t like that turn of phrase at all.

        • dootsiez says :

          Yaya. Leave Gauloise out of it. And all other contributing writers around tennis blogosphere for that matter.

          Journalists put themselves out there and have had experience and background to deal with criticisms and finger pointing from fans. Guest bloggers don’t, and are there to provide thoughts on personal experience and opinions.

        • ClayBuster says :

          Of course, I know. But that doesn’t make Bozo’s blog anything less bad.
          sorry for any possible misunderstandings, I was just hinting at Bozo’s blog in general.

  29. Ceeza says :

    Ps will someone PLEASE link this to Wertheim, Cronin, Jenkins, Bodo and all the other worthless tennis journo hacks PLEASE!!!

  30. steve says :

    Thanks for a wonderful defense of

    Federer is a great champion who is upfront and unapologetic about his greatness. There’s a tendency for people to feel threatened by someone so open and to tear them down to make themselves feel bigger. Federer has a remarkable ability to raise his colleagues’ spirits and make them feel part of a great tennis community, even as he dominates the field; obviously this is not the case with tennis commentators.

    They find it hard to fit Federer into a simple and dramatic narrative; he’s too complex to be so easily put in a box. The only way they can relate to him is to proclaim either “Federer is God” or “Federer is a false God,” depending on whether he happens to be winning or losing at the moment. They are the ones who built up the “GOAT” idea, declared Federer the “GOAT”, then proclaimed a new “GOAT” when Nadal started winning everything. It’s pure sensationalism, designed to advance their bottom line.

    For next year there are players besides Federer and Nadal to talk about. I frankly don’t think much can be expected from Djokovic and Murray as far as winning majors goes. They have had more than enough chances to prove themselves in that department, and they’ve come up short at the crucial times (Djokovic’s AO 2008 aside). I am hoping for the return of Del Potro and Roddick and the long-awaited breakthrough of Marin Cilic.

    But of course I root for Federer:

    “Age cannot wither, nor custom stale
    His infinite variety; other players cloy
    The appetites they feed, but he makes hungry
    Where he most satisfies…”

    • dootsiez says :

      “The only way they can relate to him is to proclaim either “Federer is God” or “Federer is a false God,” depending on whether he happens to be winning or losing at the moment.”

      — Is the truth.

  31. Alex says :

    You know back in the day the pundits must have been writing the demise of Magellan.

  32. ClayBuster says :

    What a FANTASTIC rant, Dootz – you virtually smacked down that Jenkins-fellow as hard as did Federer his opponent in that third set at the WTF final (who I actually like a lot, in contrary to Jenkins!)

    After some five years of reading all kinds of published rubbish on how Federer is ‘fake’, ‘arrogant’, ‘plays in a weak era’, etc., I thought it really couldn’t get any lower. But apparently, some Bozo called Jenkins managed. As an official journo for SI Mag, no less. Un-f**king-believable. Even the hormone-driven haters from VamosStalkers would be ashamed about writing down anything like that.

    But you really nailed him down, point-by-point. If Nadal won’t manage to win the 2011 AO, I’ll be sad for the guy, but the mere thought of Mr. Jenkins having to eat heaps of crow will surely help me manage to smile again…

    “As for Jenkins’ potty comment that Nadal “just surrendered”. How insulting. To Rafael Nadal that is.

    And this is where Jenkins confuses me. He seems to think that the best way for him to make sure that no one discredits Nadal is by doing all the discrediting himself. “

    This, especially, is so SPOT-ON.
    Will there ever come a time that journo’s start to realize that depicting Rafa as some kind of sugar-doll whenever he loses, doesn’t at all do the guy any credit? What are they thinking, that Superman truly exists? The Male Xena? I’m afraid they actually believe so.
    Well once again: Rafa is just human, and has his good and less good days, like all of us. At times… he might even bump into another player who happens to be playing BETTER. And that’s exactly what Federer (who’d have had a lot more ‘rights’ to be ‘tired’!) did. Rafa didn’t ‘surrender’ (oh, I thought that that’s something he never does?), nope, he got BEATEN. By the better player on the day. Deal with it!

    Ah, sorry, I better stop ranting now, you’re far better at it than me!🙂

    Greetz from a Fedal fan – who loves the guys, but keeps on getting disgruntled by the ‘media’.

  33. Joanna says :

    Thank you for the post, it was kind of cathartic🙂 I think you echo a lot of Federer fans’ thoughts. I am so frickin sick of the double standards imposed on Federer; everytime he wins it’s always the same excuses – Nadal is either tired or injured.

  34. yesicanada says :

    I LOVE YOU DOOTS!! Marry me already! We can start planning the ceremony now and then we’ll tie the knot when I’m in Melbourne this summer! (eeerrr, someone is telling me Aus is as late as France regarding gay rights… That could be a problem. So make Julia change the law, yo! I know you can do it!)

    Okay enough with silliness, but honestly you are so good with words it’s disgusting :p
    Anyway, I’ve just sent this mister Jenkins the video of the match point + your article, and I hope many more will do that, even though I’m not being delusional about the impact of it…
    To me, it’s symptomatic of the larger crisis of journalism, a profession that I once thought about embracing, but that I now despise fiercely. And of course I do not mean only sports journalism, far from that. Stories are what rule the profession in every area, and it’s not even new stories they’re after, it’s not stories like it would be with investigative journalism, it’s basically the same storylines EVERY. FUCKING. TIME. Anyway, I won’t go on because 1. it would be tl;dr 2. It’s not really the point of your post (Bruce Jenkins being ass-kicked to Uranus (and not back, please :p) is way more important) 3. I wouldn’t quite be able to say it in English anyway🙂

    Oh, and please doots, never think of letting those infuriating articles go, firstly because you’re so good at taking care of them, but mostly because to me being the bigger person just means showing lesser persons how it feels to be owned :p But I know you won’t! That’s the ass-kicking lawyer in you speaking, can’t fight who you are, right?😉

    • yesicanada says :

      CRAP, forgot to log out!!
      Oh, well.

      • dootsiez says :

        😛 Poooooooooo. I know who you are anyway!

        Oh my! It would seem that I’ve acquired myself quite a few illegal wives!

        (And you won’t go into journalism, you were made for law!) I so *wanted* to be a bigger person and let it go, but honestly, if you’re a sports writer, you put yourself out there, why *shouldn’t* you be held accountable if you are hypocritical or just blatantly false?

        And I shall reiterate that you need to return to twitter! Your twitter pals miss you!

        xx Doots

  35. Katarina_YYZ says :

    whoa! i was just here 24hrs ago and now there’s a new post and 59 comments! When I saw Fed’s picture and the word ‘beatdown’ I’m like oh no what has Roger done now?😉

    But seriously…, I just roll my eyes at these kind of articles and don’t wanna waste my energy on it, but actually that’s just lazy on my part. This tripe deserved a beatdown and so I thank you for finding the time and energy to administer the richly deserved beating. I’ve seen some sites where in the article comments if a comment gets enough ‘thumbs down’ clicks, it is removed, or it says you have to click to see it. I wonder what would happen if they put that system to the articles themselves?.

  36. wellspring says :

    Great post, doots.

    I have been saying for YEARS (as early as 2006) that the media treatment of the Roger Federer Phenomenon was wrong from the very beginning. There was this incessant deification of the guy – oh, he is a god, oh, he dwells on the Olympus, oh, he will win everything, oh, he walks on water – as a Fed fan, It was terribly frustrating. I don’t object to purple prose, but I do think this was lazy journalism, lazy thinking seeking refuge in clichés and Jungian archetypes. All this religious reverence bred was emotional distance from the subject of it and a glaring inability to perceive him as a PERSON whose achievements are the result of a great talent – but also of huge struggles and triumphs. And I remember all too well the complaints about him being ‘robotic’. Sure, you take a guy, choose to perceive him as otherworldly, a creature strange to the human race – and then you complain he doesn’t seem sympathetic. How surprising.

    And when the narrative has started changing and Fed stopped being the all-conquering deity – what then? Obviously, there was nothing left but to perceive him as a falling god, a Chronos replaced by a Zeus. And since they have never related to Fed properly to begin with, they will need a through reform of their ways of thinking to become, umm, more reasonable now. Frankly, I don’t think many journalists, if any, are up to this effort. The result? Such ridiculous pieces as provided by BJ.

  37. Freudo says :

    Thanks Doots. This is the ony place entirely safe to go for satisfaction, rants and reflections in many flavors. What bothers me most these years, and years to come, is the single narrative style of journalism. It demeans both Roger and Rafa, two very different people and great players, and makes reading artviles, boring at best, bad for my health, at worst. I root for Roger, and maybe have paid the price of near psychotic pleasure, devotion, but I know each player has his/her own professional arc, and respect each player in their moments of fulfilment. Sometimes a few weeks after the fact when Roger is the opponent. I love the point you make of Roger venturing in unchated waters, and accept your invitation to travel with you and others, on that journey. My list of people I send your blogs to thank you, too…Clap! Clap! Clap!

  38. Matt Zemek says :

    You know, Federer’s 2004-2007 WERE like a guy on top of Mount Olympus, and what’s more, I wasn’t complaining with or objecting to the analogies, either.

    Were you?

    I highly doubt it, fellow Fed fans.

    The problem has been the last three years with, as Steve rightly notes, the “false god” meme and the perpetual (perpetually laughable) notions of a Federer decline or the end of Federer. THAT’s the big problem.

    Let’s also be more nuanced about fatigue. Look, there are excuses and then there are REASONS. Two different things.

    The problem is a little more specific than just using the word fatigue in these kinds of situations.

    Sportswriters are supposed to identify fatigue as a factor if they think that’s what’s happening. Was Nadal probably somewhat fatigued – mentally more than physically, perhaps – after the 3-hour Murray semifinal? Probably was, folks.

    Was Nadal probably at least a little fatigued after the 4-hour Madrid semifinal in 2009? Yeah, he was. No shame in mentioning the F-word, there, either.

    The PROBLEMS arise when:

    A) The fatigue becomes the dominant and overwhelming center or heart of the narrative. That’s where the media is most centrally guilty.

    B) Federer is not given due credit for moving through the many rounds of a tournament with more efficiency and less wear-and-tear on his body than Nadal. That’s Federer’s virtue, as other commentators here have noted.

    C) When Federer’s fatigue is not given due notice, instead being replaced by a perpetuated meme – namely, that he’s in decline and is losing his form/technique/precision.

    Federer was fatigued – mentally more than physically – in the Toronto final after playing a long 3-set nighttime semifinal, whereas Murray played a straight-set daytime semifinal and had much more rest. I don’t think stories on the final referenced Roger’s fatigue — someone please dig up a link to disprove me if you have one — and THAT represents a true abdication of journalistic responsibility.

    Fatigue does decide sporting events. NBA basketball teams are tired when they play games 500 miles apart on back-to-back days. American football teams fade in the fourth quarter because they have too many injuries on the defensive line. Gilles Simon and David Nalbandian would get hot for 2-3 weeks but then crash because they were spent. Sam Stosur was certainly mentally fatigued in the first round of Wimbledon. Fatigue should be cited if it’s making a difference, but fatigue is rarely if ever used to describe Federer; it only sticks to Nadal, while Federer’s quality of tennis receives far more criticism than it should.

    Except, of course, from 2004-2007, when he rather was like a god.

    • TGIF says :

      Here’s Reuters:

      “With Federer back on court after two punishing three-set matches, including his late night semi-final over Novak Djokovic on Saturday, Murray went on the attack breaking the sluggish Swiss to open the match.”

      Guardian:

      “Murray then held serve to love, broke surprisingly again, and galloped to 3-0 so fast that he threatened to accelerate away and leave Federer standing.

      Some of this was due to a slightly sluggish start by the Swiss, who may have been feeling effects from two tough back-to-back matches against Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic. It took the 29-year-old a full 20 minutes before he began to look a little more lively.”

      So a couple mentions. Seems they tought he started off sluggish and then picked up some energy later in the match.

      • Matt Zemek says :

        TGIF:

        Thanks! That’s good to know – now, I need an American/Canadian press clipping! But at least a few outlets did recognize Fed’s fatigue. That’s a good start.

        YAY REUTERS and THE GUARDIAN!

        BABY STEPS!

    • roadrunnerz says :

      I’m glad someone mentioned the Toronto final this year. ‘Cause honestly, it’s one thing I was reminded of, seeing the constant “Rafa was tired” articles after the WTF final.

      Fed had a gruelling, LATE semi in Toronto against Novak, that ended around 10pm, and lasted two and a half hours (after playing nearly three hours the day before). The final the next day was at 1:30pm, in what were paticularly hot and humid conditions.

      Like you, I don’t remember reading any “Murray beat a gassed Fed” articles following his victory. It’s one of the reasons the “Rafa was tired” narrative really bugged this time around. Especially considering he playing the FIRST semi, and the final didn’t start until 5:30pm the next day.

      Double standard, much?

    • Deborah says :

      Sorry for being late to the party but this discussion is too good not to participate. I became a Federer fan (some say lost my mind) following Wimbledon 2006. The drumbeats to tear down Roger had already begun. JMac declared Rafa the real number one, no matter what the computer said during that final. Since I was new, I spent the entire summer reading about this Swiss guy that had totally captured my imagination. I was puzzled by the stories about his dominance being bad for tennis (something I have never heard about Rafa’s clay dominence, btw). I was baffled by the descriptions of robotic since he seemed the most fluid and elegant thing I had ever seen. Things quieted for a while as he went on to win everything he entered between the US Open and IW but the vengence with which the sports media turned on him when he lost those back-to-back matches against Canas rocked me. It would be too much like right to ask journos to build a Nadal narrative based on Nadal but then how could they continue to exlpoit the world wide fan base Federer built without their help.

      And Doots, since I’m as old as dirt, maybe adoption rather than marriage.

    • ClayBuster says :

      A very fair post, thank you for this!
      Just one slight remark, on the matter of Fed being ‘in decline’ – I’m sorry, but I happen to believe that he is (as it’s just a natural proces that at a certain time, clunks in in every top athlete’s career – don’t bash me for this please, folks) – but that of course doesn’t mean that he’ll ‘never’ win again, or even more, will ‘never’ show his brilliance anymore. He just did, at the WTF, and I’m over-the-moon about it.
      Hope he’ll continue at this high at the start of 2011 and continue to show some consistency again – not dropping out of tournaments against the likes of Montanes, Baghdatis and Gulbis, I mean – , and then we might indeed conclude that the ‘in decline’-comments were premature.

      • dootsiez says :

        Oh you party pooper😛

        You missed the point ClayBuster and fell into the same old thinking. I’m not being an denialist here. No one is saying that this isn’t a natural process, or that Federer can go on winning agelessly like some kinda tennistic Dorian Gray.

        The point is: the battle ground here isn’t about facts but perception.

        The media narrative on Federer is negative because that’s what they think sells papers. Instead of shouting “THIS GUY IS NO LONGER WINNING 3 SLAMS A YEAR HE IS A FRAUD OF A TENNIS GOD”, the storyline could just as easily be “this guy won 16 slams by the age of 29, now every time he walks out on court, he is on his way to accomplishing something that no one has ever done before”.

        Hence the unchartered waters note.

  39. flo says :

    One could say Rafa gave up at 1-5 in the 3rd but that’s just a reality setting in that a loss was inevitable. Before that point, no. Also, the entire tennis world needs to stop it with the justifying/rationalizing losses.

  40. bwlass says :

    I’ve watched the match several times and Nadal was NOT fatiqued. He tried everything to beat Roger and failed. That BH was working overtime.

    And that piece by Jenkins? Utter garbage!!!

  41. paisley says :

    I’ve never posted here, but I must say this……….Oh thanks Doots…….you have me in stitches!
    Thanks SO MUCH for your brilliant ranting, your blogs are always a joy to read!
    You uttered exactly what Fed fans like myself who desperately want to express but couldn’t !!!!
    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!

    Urrhrr… I won’t ask you for marriage, I’ll just give you a BIG HUG!

    take care

  42. Liz says :

    This is my first time posting here and I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed browsing. Brilliant post Dootsie. I’m a bit older than you so I won’t propose marriage even though I’m on the spot in Melbourne. Besides, my hubby couldn’t cope with two concubines.

    My gripe is that, like the US, the media here in Australia don’t take the WTF seriously ( the name doesn’t help). It hardly got a mention in the mainstream media – not that the Davis Cup does either. It needs to raise its profile because it really is like the fifth Slam.

    It was a great win and a really outstanding week for Roger, and whatever pettifogging, US -centric journos may think, it will go into his resume to add to history’s judgement on his greatness.

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