Oh hullo, lovelies! How’s Zombie Jesus weekend treating you all?
It’s been a while since I’ve properly had time to check in on tennis and within that time, Rafa has taken his 70-billionth Monte Carlo title; Ferrer has firmly established himself as the second best clay courter of the season thus far; and Wogie has gone McDodgie on us all again, as another semifinals-or-better streak bit the dust on the terre battue.
Which leads me to my point:
SEVEN BREAK POINTS? SEVEN FUCKING BREAK POINTS?! DID YOU THINK I WAS NOT CAPABLE OF DELAYED RAGE? DID YOU THINK THAT I WOULD JUST – oh I dunno – “LET IT GO”?
WELL YOU THOUGHT WRONG! *tosses a Federbear into a clowder of feral cats*
Phewww! Don’t mind me. Just had to get my acidic, corrosive RAAGE out there. Now that I feel much better, please let us continue:
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know. – the eloquent wisdom of Donald Rumsfeld, Our Great Teacher of What-Not-To-Be-In-Life.
What do Volandri, Stepanek, Wawrinka, Montanes and Melzer have in common? It seems that in every clay season since 2007, Roger Federer has given us one of those unknown-unknowns of tennis losses – unpredictable, random, dispirited, and in all sense of that word – a genuine upset.
But while the opponent in these losses may be an unknown-unknown each season, the pattern of loss is known-known:
- tightly contested sets, often featuring tiebreaks or multiple breakpoints on both sides, all of which Federer would inevitably lose with the kind of frustrating calm that makes you want to PUNCH HIM where the future of Swiss tennis is stored;
- a spirited opponent, looking comfortable, if not confident for the majority of the match
- B-level game, nothing to warrant total doom or direness (Montanes notwithstanding) but nonetheless, the kind of tennis Federer brings to these occasions always seems to stand in stark contrast to the energy and gusto of his opponents
The match against Melzer had all of these elements. It was disappointing because Monte Carlo would’ve been the perfect place for Federer to gather some steam, with its moderate-to-high level of competition and strange status as a “near-Masters”. But at the end of the day, it was a fair loss to a better (and very likeable) opponent, on a day where rough winds did shake the darling curls of his head.
Didn’t see much of the match between Murray and Nadal, but judging from the score line and post-match buzz, it was a bit of a thriller. Once again, I was reminded of how much the tennis landscape is filled with the known-unknowns. One minute, you could be the Australian Open finalist, jetsetting around the world with an unhinged jaw and 125% more teeth than the average human being. The next, you’re getting your ass whupped by Bogomolosomething and the esteemed members of the British press. Two weeks later, you’re on your worst surface, sailing through routine wins over solid opponents, and taking the ONLY set off Rafael Nadal on clay for just under a year. Things change, often with unexpected speed – that much we know we don’t know. Or something.
By the way, just how many sets do we think Nadal is going to lose on clay this year? I’m going with 4 in total.
Don’t mind my cynicism, I love Nadal. What I don’t love is the clay surface, compounded by the utter sheer lack of unknown-unknowns during this part of the season. It’s one of the reasons why I love watching Federer on clay and Nadal on a fast hard court (if they still existed). We never quite know which version of them we’ll get.
But cynicism aside, Monte Carlo was a strange kind of win for Rafa. There were moments when he looked vulnerable, error prone, off in
Mirkaland Xiscaland. But the next thing you know, he’s up a double break and about to close out the set with a love service game. And all of it went by so quickly that you wonder if you’d imagined it all, simply because it’s you wanted to see, just to break up the monotony of the known-knowns.
What else is there to say? This week, over at the Rafael Nadal Open in Barcelona, Dodig became the only non-Spanish player to progress beyond the quarterfinals. He’s joined by Almagro and Ferrer, but SPOILER ALERT: someone called Rafael Nadal wins.
On the vaginal side of things, Sam Stosur scores what seems like her first solid win of the year, taking out Vera Zvoom 26 63 76(3), while Dinara looked inches away from death at some point during her 64 26 64 quarterfinal win (over Pivovarova) – two women trying to stop themselves from slipping into the Wild Moor of Lost Souls and never returning. Elsewhere, Caroline Wozniacki exacts revenge on Petko, and Maria Sharapova collects a handsome appearance fees in the Bahamas. Good times for the Weird Sisters Tennis Tour.
That’s it from me. Hopefully, this is a return to what I hope to be more regular bloggage, after a spate of virus, assignments and work took over my life. Enjoy your long weekend (5 days for us Aussies this time, hee!), I must be off to take care of some Lindt bunnies.