Madrid Wrap: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
“Novak Djokovic Untouchable” – Politika
“Djokovic Dominates Nadal on Clay”
“The best player currently defeated the Spaniard on his favorite surface and continues his fabulous series of victories,” the daily commented, estimating that ‘Nole’, the nickname used by Serbs for Djokovic, could “soon be the (world) number one.” – Danas
“The King Nole.”
“The King has fallen. Long live Nole who outclassed Nadal in his backyard in Madrid. Nadal is still world number one, but there is no doubt that Djokovic is the best player at the moment.” – Sportski Zurnal
“Definitely the Best.” – Blic
Just a selection of quotes and headlines from the euphoric Serbian press yesterday as Satan scored his first ever win on clay over Nadal.
Missed chances – Nadal had ’em, but Satan never missed ’em to start with. Call it form, call it class, call it “a little magic potion known as confidence”. But personally, I call it THE CURSE OF THE TWEENER.
With the final being Federer-less and played at an unearthly hour in Australia, I have only seen the highlights. They showed me no more than a fact shocking in its simplicity and obviousness: Novak Djokovic was outrallying Nadal on clay. And no one outrallies Nadal on clay and walks away a loser. In the grand scheme of things, Rafa didn’t play badly. But he was just not in the kind of steamrollering form he typically has been during this part of the year in the past.
And of course, the underdog complex of Rafael Nadal kicked in post-match:
“The number one ranking is not in danger – it’s finished. Let’s not lie to ourselves, that’s the reality. Nobody likes to lose.
“I have to see what’s missing and working with a cool, open mind to decipher things and find the solutions. To try to do a little better next time.”
Resignation? Defeatism? Humility? Pessimism? How you read these statements depends entirely on your opinion of Nadal. For what it’s worth, it was the exact kind of statement I expected from Rafa.
While he has stepped into the role of World No 1 quite comfortably over the last 2 years, there’s no question that psychologically, Nadal prefers to see himself as the hunter as opposed to the hunted. It’s no surprise then that even before he has had a chance to defend his No 1 position, Nadal has moved into the psychological mode of acceptance. Acceptance that he’s no longer the best player on tour.
Implicit in this acceptance is also a new benchmark – that he must work harder, do better, and beat Djokovic. If Rafael Nadal preferred the role of the hunter, then the bullseye is squarely, prominently, and largely on Novak Djokovic. How soon can he be hunted down?
(And who wants to bite a spikey dildo of a trophy anyway?)
What of the semifinal?
To say that a Federer v Nadal match is highly anticipated these days is a bit misleading. For the most part, they come with a lot of snark and cynicism. Roger and Rafa have set themselves an impossible standard to live up to with Wimbledon 2007 2008 or Rome 2006. Each time they play each other and fail to meet that impossibly high standard is reminder – not of the rarity of such magical, sizzling tennis – but of the mundaneness of a mediocre tennis match in contrast.
For my part, the possibility of a Fedal match-up still fills me with a bubbly sense of anticipation. I differ from some Federer fans out there in that I neither dread Nadal nor wish to avoid him. If tennis was a microcosm of life, then surely, the point of it is not to fear and flee from the challenges thrown at you, but to charge straight at them. And if you get knocked down, if you lose, so what? For me, watching Federer struggle with the kryptonite to his genius has been precisely the poetic, endearing part of his greatness. The struggle itself the very thing about Woger McFed that continues to inspire me.
So without further ado, let’s start with the negatives:
- Federer’s first serve percentage hovered in the 40-50% for the majority of the match. Ironically, while Nadal’s serve got him out of trouble on many occasions, Federer’s serve was missing its diamond encrusted clutchness. On breakpoints, in tight situations, he no longer had the luxury of a serve to get outta jail.
- THE NUMBER OF TIMES HE GOT TO 40-15 ONLY TO BE BROKEN. I CANNOT … IT WAS LIKE … NO REALLY … I’M … I’M … I’M … I’M NOT HAVING YOUR BABIES ANYMORE, ROGER FEDERER. *crosses hands over my ovaries*
- The repeated shoulder exercises during the change of ends have me worried. Fingers crossed it’s just a little soreness from the buildup since the match against Lopez.
- Nadal had a grand total of 1 comfortable hold in the entire second and third sets. In every other service game, he had to survive at least 1 break point. Have you seen a more competitive 6-1 set than the second set? Did it feel like an even contest, even at 5-3 in the third? For Federer NOT to have broken Nadal even ONCE in the last two sets is partly testament to the effectiveness of Nadal’s two “go-to” serves on breakpoint (the body and backhand), but it’s mostly testament to Fuckerer’s same old aversion to breakpoint conversion.
But finishing on a positive note …
- Thou shalt not dictate was the Swiss mantra of the day. Nadal didn’t stomp on court on Saturday and dictate play, as I half expected him to do. In fact, he couldn’t dictate play all match. Wogie McSmokeyPants was either smackin’ it like a lil’ rock star, or getting it so spectacularly wrong that it was exhilarating and painful to watch at the same time. Win or lose, Federer made sure that it was on his racket. The brashness of it all reminded me of some of his matches back in 2001-2003.
- Just like he had no business losing the second and third set the way he did, Federer ironically had no business winning the first set. Nadal was up an early break. Nadal had triple break points at 5-5. Tennis “journalists” had begun to irreverently, prematurely predict a disappointing, straight sets beat down. But there was a certain gusto in Federer’s game throughout the entire match that we haven’t seen in his last two tournaments.
- Execution might’ve been an issue, but the intention behind many of the shanks were spot on, and in the context of Roland Garros, Federer is just short of where he needs to be right now.
- For all the fandom snark , Federer v Nadal still has that friendly, yet polarising chemistry that makes the dynamics of a Nole-Muzz match about as interesting as table salt. To that, I say MOARR! MOARRR! MOAAAAAARRR!
- Magic. The man still has it by the shiploads and I inhaled every bit of it like a fat kid with chocolate cake. It was tennis at its most nom-ilicious, yo!