Aus Open Days 7-8: Weekend Blues


The end of Week 1 always makes me a blue.

The first week of the Aus Open has a village fair atmosphere to it, so full of youth and vibrancy. People come for the tennis, but also for star-gazing, freebies, amusement park-styled stalls, and a little rock-and-roll with the live bands.

By the second week, the smell of sausages is gradually replaced with the smell of gun-power … or Dootsie’s hair on fire. This is serious business bitches. So serious, that it must be spelt SRS BSNS.

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Anyone heard John Isner’s Barmy Army at the Aus Open?

Here they are. In their own universe, it all made sense.

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So getting down to the SRS BSNS: I spent my entire weekend right where I spent the last one: at Melbourne Park, making it 9 consecutive days of dawn to dusk tennis, and by close of play on Sunday, I was bleeding yellow fuzz coming of my nostrils.

There is such a thing as tennistical overkill, after all.

1. Canadian tennis. It like … exists or something.

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As of Sunday night, when Andy Roddick was whipped off the court by the Wawrinka backhand, Milos Raonic became the only “North American” left in both the men and women’s draw. He eventually ran out of steam today against Ferrer, losing in 4 sets after taking the first emphatically, but I saw him earlier, against Youzhny, where he clobbered the Headclobber with icy power.

Not much not to like – massive serve, attacking, purposeful baseline game with a good affinity to the net – an unfortunate resemblance to Mark the Poo. Let’s hope Milos has more motivation and less of a penchant for reality TV than Scud.

The only thing I’m sure I’ll grow to dislike: hearing his migrant family story over and over again in the years to come.

2. New balls, pwease.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen one day when I lose my Swiss muse. As much as I love tennis, words just flow more when I write about McWoger – or rather – they burst through a dam of angst, anger and adoration.

But new faces are focussing out of the blur too – faces that I think I could get used to:

  • Cilic Peppers, despite losing erratically to Rafa last night, is looking less like an empty shell and more like the shot-twisting stick insect that he was one year ago.
  • Dolgopolurrrve seems to have caught the annual Aussie Open giant-slaying bug, literally slaying the gigantic Tsonga and Soderling. I remember the first time I ever saw his name at last year’s Brisbane International: “how on earth did Bernanrd Tomic lose to someone named Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jnr?” I asked. I don’t think anyone would be saying that after the spirited performance he put on against Soderling yesterday.
  • The Petkorazzi, newly crowned Miss Popularity of the Aussie Open, danced on the grave of Maria Sharapova after defeating her in straight sets. As much as I hate to admit it, Shazza has completely lost the zinging presence she used to have on court – her movement exploited, her power matched, but her mind and spirit as eager as ever. As a fan, it’s been a hard journey watching her attempt to rediscover her slam-winning form pre-injury, a journey that del Potro fans will take in the coming year.
  • Petra Kvitova, shotmaking brilliant in its sheer randomness, eyes shining with desire and determination. Sam Stosur couldn’t have done much more to neutralise the deluge, and mercifully, most of the Australian media have picked up on this assessment.
  • Bernard Tomic, almost universally disliked in tennis fandom, deserved a lot of credit for the pressure he unexpectedly exerted on Nadal. I wonder if sometimes, it takes a little bit of brattishness to be nonchalant to the occasion of playing the top seed and one of the great guys on the ATP tour. As for his style of play, until he moves with the kind of cat-like court coverage that Murray brings to the game, I think we can stop with that comparison. If anything, Tomic plays like Marin Cilic with greater variation.

None of them stirs up the kind of dam-bursting desire to blog that Wogie McFed does, perhaps I won’t find another muse like him for a long time, but they are reasons to keep watching and keep returning to the moving tides of tennis, to see if these tiny ripples converge into tidal waves of awesome further down stream.

3. THE MATCH.

I could come up with a wittier tag line, but I think CAPSLOCK suffices to express my awe. You know you’ve just witness something that transcends tennis when your non-tennis following friends ring you to let you know, “I just saw the most amazing tennis match …”

There is a difference (or so I’ve always felt) between fearlessness and bravery, being not just the mere absence of fear. Sometimes, it is precisely brave to overcome your fear, to play through it and live dangerously. To paraphrase a well-known truism, “it is better to have fought and lost than to have never fought at all.”

And third set between Schiavone and Kuznetsova epitomised this sentiment to poignantly. Neither wanted to lose, both struggled physically and mentally to hold and to convert match points. Yet neither relied on the other to hand the match over on a silver plait. Neither stopped making their shots, swinging for the fences. Neither stopped attacked, or fell back into their comfort zone. The longer the match went for (the clock finally stopped at 4:44), the more they put on the line. Winner takes all, loser is left with nothing but the tale of a lifetime.

Unlike the Petkorazzi or Kvitova, there was no merry dance to celebrate this fight to death; there was no youthful, eager spark in the eyes of either woman, a desire to prove oneself on a big stage for the first time in their career. Sveta and Franny played with such bravery, maturity and hearts of steel that they made the contrast between girl and woman on the WTA tour an incredible sight to behold in a single tournament.

Perhaps the best moment after the match was when Svetlana Kuznetsova logged onto Twitter after the match with this tweet:

i was worryed that i gaig one kg…i think i ve lost it)))

It takes a giant well of optimism to joke about your own heartache.

4. The Outsider

The amount of Wawrinka-hate I am being exposed to in tennis fandom these days is making me sick.

Such is the absurdity of human existence, that when a man decides, for whatever reason UNKNOWN to us, to end a relationship and inform the world of it, our first reaction is to judge. Our second – to hate. Our third – to wish a fellow human being ill. As my nan would say, if you haven’t got anything nice to say to that, don’t fucking speak at all.

At the end of the day, Wawrinka is a tennis player. What he chooses to do with his private life is none of our fucking business. He’s never going to be the next Mister Family Man, but without cheating on court, without bringing an inexcusable attitude to tennis, I had no reason not to cheer him on as he played like a man possessed to dismiss Roddick, hitting a total of 67 winners to 19 unforced errors.

I hope Wogie McFed saw the stats sheet.

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xx doots

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8 responses to “Aus Open Days 7-8: Weekend Blues”

  1. pban says :

    wonderful summary doots….true no one makes our hearts soar and sink into despair like Feddy. Can’t even imagine life without frazzling for him

  2. whynotme says :

    Semifinals, baby!!! I would say I’m relieved, but I didn’t even have the time to frazzle lol! Also I’ve looked up on your twitter and saw that in the end you attended the match…. 12/12, are you kidding me??? You rule, bitch!

    Anyway, I subscribe to everything you said here. Especially on Tomic and Stan. I may disagree entirely with some of the things they’ve done or said, but I like their games (actually I’ve loved Stan’s game for a long time), and tennis needs them to win because they make things more interesting, so everybody who wishes they lose every single match just because they want to hate on them is actually wishing for tennis to be more boring.
    And of course like you said about Stan, it’s his personal life and unless he’s been convicted of a crime or something, it has nothing to do with his ability to play tennis.

    Also, on a side note, not only do we not know the details of what happened (and I do not want to know them) even though it’s been made clear he left wife and kid, but we also cannot pretend that we know what would have been better to do. I mean, I don’t think Stan would have made his family happier by staying with his wife, if it had made himself frustrated and unhappy to do so. I forgot the exact saying, but there’s one which states more or less “The only way to make people around you happy is to be happy yourself”. Sometimes selfishness is actually less selfish than it appears. If he had stayed and everyone had been unhappy, who wins?? I just hope he still finds time to take care of his kid, because that’s the most important.
    So I don’t think I would ever put my career or job or anything before my family because I just don’t have that much ambition or whatever and have other priorities in life, but first you never know what will happen in your life, and second I get that people are different and have different needs, even if it doesn’t mean that I condone or uphold it.

  3. steve says :

    Thanks for the update, dootsiez. How do you find the time?

    Re: Roger: Exhibition-quality stuff near the end of the second set. He was toying with Stan for that last game, and Stan knew it, but could do nothing but attempt to stay in it in the face of an overwhelming torrent of sheer shotmaking genius. Of course, he couldn’t.

    The ESPN commentators were very down on Wawrinka, complaining he wasn’t competing. That was very unfair. He was trying hard for the last two sets at least.

    Probably they were embarrassed that their overblown hype predicting a five-set classic was scotched by Federer’s level of play, and they were trying to blame their failure on Wawrinka’s lack of heart, rather than own up to how wrong they were.

    • Nancy says :

      I agree with you about the ESPN commentators. They are very annoying, especially Brad Gilbert. I prefer to watch the Australian Open Mix channel, I think it might only be available with DirecTV; they have Australian commentators who are very funny and don’t feel the need to blabber constantly or incite false drama. If my heart can take the stress of watching Federer, I might have to mute the TV.

      BTW, Dootsiez, your article on SI.com was fantastic. I was very proud of you. A little part of me wants to keep you at this site forever (or until Wogie stops playing tennis) but you deserve more recognition and success in a larger forum, you earned it.

  4. Freudo says :

    thanks Doots. I missed most of the first week with the flu, and returned to full consciousness, and find the tournament winding down without having fully experiences the fullness of the first week. The trade off, is I’m not experiencing my usual feelings of where did all the players go, as you are. There were exceptions to my day and night sleeping. Roger’s matches. Roddick vs Wawrinka. Schiavone vs Kuznetsova, thank good ness for replay on espn3. Anyway, hang in there, bullet proof vest for the conclusion. Hope we get the fireworks we are looking for! And thanks so much for stopping to write your blogs. I enjoy them so vvvvvvvvv much!

  5. Matt Zemek says :

    When the Australian Open is over, maybe we can have a rational discussion about Wawrinka. Doesn’t seem like one can be had at the moment.

    That’s meant as a reflection of the overall climate, not any one person, post, article, or viewpoint. It’s the collective reality.

    February 5 or 6, maybe we can talk about it. We gonna see.

    • dAri says :

      Is that a little Rafa speak, that last line there?
      I have wawa in my year end top ten. Let’s talk in a while. Kill it, Roger! Djoko up next. It’s an understatement that he will have to play well, we will probably also need some federmagic!
      Rogerrrrrr

  6. Freudo says :

    ps I worry too about what happens to my fandom after Roger. Sighs. I am old enough though to sometimes worry about whether I’ll make it to the end of his career. One of my worst fantasies is having a heart attack and being stuck in a hospital without cable duirng a tennis tournament! I’ve had a few passions before Federer, but nothing quite matches him. My first heroes were Seixas, Trabert, Hoad and Richard “Pancho” Gonzalez!

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