Belated Miami Wrap.
Because this is much belated, I’ll keep it short.
I was … angry? Frustrated? Disappointed?
All of those things, despite my best efforts not to be.
There he was, playing prime time tennis, semifinals against THE rival of his career, and the guy couldn’t keep the ball in court for more than 4 shots. Within two short sets and with most of the Miami crowd feverishly behind him, Federer managed to commit a total of 38 unforced errors, and looked – as he often does when he’s losing – infuriatingly placid.
Nadal played a clean match, served phenomenally well, but I think it’s a fair assessment that Federer barely put up a fight in this one.
Interestingly, even as the match was progressing, I started to brace myself for what would come after the match: a fresh round of “it’s over”, “dude you should just retire”, the clichéd “beginning of the end”, the same rehashed speculation that “the gap” is widening here and closing there.
Not that all these propositions are groundless. The fact that they do resurface match after match suggests that they have some merit to them. But at the same time, I’m simply sick of having to view every loss, every win, every tournament as some kind of watershed moment to foretell all eternity.
In the glare of the media spotlight, with the burden of “legacy”, history, the cruel, semi-paranoid passage of time, nothing about Roger Federer is allowed to simply be a non-event of no lasting significance. And judging from the hysterical reactions from both media critics and a large section of Federer’s own fanbase, this kind of incessant “historicising” of every. frakking. match in Roger Federer’s career has put a strain on everyone. Including – I think – the man himself.
So there I was, in the immediate aftermath of the match, drawn again into some pointless Twitter discussion about whether Federer should retire with his dignity in tact, or continue to “rage against the dying of the light”. Eventually, my sickness took over and I headed to bed for some sleep.
Sleep was just what the tennis gods ordered it seemed, for when I woke up refreshed, relaxed, non-feverish, it was suddenly cleared to me that … well, Federer played an awful, disgustingly bad match. For once, after a match against Nadal, I wasn’t talking to someone about strategy, shot selection, crucial moments in the match simply because there was none. All these things were a non issue when your guy simply can’t find his game on the day. It was frickin shit, and that was just that. And I refuse to join those won’t allow this to be an inconsequential dud, whose reasoning starts with “Federer played a bad match” and ends at “Federer should just retire”.
Of course, in the grand scheme of things, things are starting to shift away from Federer after the amazing end to the year he had just 4 months ago. Djokovic (and to some extent Nadal) finished the North American circuit in good command, and if Wogie McFed wants to rejoin this conversation, he’ll have to pull a wabbit out of his hat at some stage during the clay season. But who’s to say he can’t? As long as we’re talking about 13 consecutive semifinals, and an almost perfect record in the last 7 months against everyone but Nadal and Djokovic, YO TENNIS WORLD – why work yourself into despair or schadenfreude?
By the way, this was the best moment in the whole friggin match.
It’s not often that Rafael Nadal loses three finals in a row, let alone three that went the full distance. Despite what he insist,
Satan Djokovic is breathing down his neck. In fact, the way he’s playing and surviving through matches these days, Djokovic might as well be breathing fireballs into Nadal’s astronomically aligned water bottles.
But if there is one good thing for Rafa fans to take away from Indian Wells and Miami, it’s that it was in the United States when Rafa finally made a belated mark on 2011.
Up until then, it seemed like he had barely registered on the tennis consciousness this year. This was in parts due to injuries, lack of matches played and lack of quality draws to play memorable matches against. But in Miami, Nadal scored his first top 10 victories of 2011. The quality (length) of the final and the win over Roger in themselves should be enough to keep the vultures at bay, despite the fact that he is still without title in 2011.
But look on the bright side of this – the first clay court masters of the year is just a few days around the corner. Titlelessness will probably be history 2 weeks from now.
My Nana once said: “good tofu never attract flies”. Oh hang … wrong Nana saying … “If you ain’t got something nice to say about someone, don’t say it”.
So in spirit of my dead Nana, I shall keep this delightfully brief: once upon a time, the joke was on the Djoker. Now the bull’s eye is.
BRING IT ON ATP!