Match in a game.

By this stage of Woger’s career, 90% of tour matches come and go with a degree of mundanity. The early rounds in particular are cast more often than not as simply a means to an end – the finals. But once in a while, an early rounder pops up that has all of tennis world salivating at the stylistic spark, the chemistry, the respect or disdain between Federer and his opponent, and in Cincinnati, this came in the form of a new bromance deserving its own moniker – the del Pooperer.

Take just one game for instance:

It’s 5-all in the second set, Federer has had numerous opportunities to break early on, and being on an apparent mission to challenge Roddick’s status as the worst breakpoint converterer on tour, the darling boy had missed all of them with enthusiasm.

Del Potro walks up to serve for 6-5 and bangs down two unreturnable serves faster than Novak Djokovic confronted by gluten.

30-0, my heart sinks. The window of opportunity to avoid a tiebreak is creaking to a close.

But if Wogie’s heart sank with mine, you wouldn’t know it as he sneaks in to the net sprightly on the next point to draw an error from del Potro.


The next point, Federer moves around his backhand to blast a forehand down the line like it offended Mirka’s honour, and then he’s up at the net again – finishing off what he started before del Potro could regain control of his limbs from gravity.


Pure defence, as McFed deflects an array of rocket-speed forehands launched at his twin mangoes by del Poop until del Potro nets, frustrated by the sheer impenetrability and lack of pace from Federer –

30-40 –

and FUCK ME GENTLY WITH A CHAINSAW, the man takes it. And he takes it whipping a forehand winner cross court while my ovaries sang an ode to joy …

I painstakingly recount this because rarely does a single game tell the story of a match but this one came pretty close.

For most the match, Roger absorbed the pace from del Potro. He played positive, aggressive tennis. He visibly gave himself encouragements, even in the most mundane of moments – the 40-15s, the 2-alls. He was engaged, not indifferent. He served at 75-85% for the match, and when he came to the net, he came in looking like he knew what he wanted to do, not because he thought he might try it, yer know – just to see what it feels like.

Federer played with the kind of mindset and attitude he had today not just because he wanted to win, but because he wanted to win against del Potro. And watching him serve out the match today, I saw the same player who served an ace on match point against Djokovic a few months ago in Paris, or yanked the first set from Nadal’s hands in Madrid: determined, focused, hungry, authoritative.

It is these types of matches that make me wonder why we so wish for easy draws for our favourite players, and why we want them to avoid certain land mines en route to a title.

Of all of Federer’s slam wins, Roland Garros 2009 and US Open 2008 will always be the two that resonate me with the most, and they do so not because they were won with style, but because they were won with hunger, grit, and focus; because success isn’t always meant to be easy; and because early round matches shouldn’t always be means to an end, but rather part of the journey itself.

Go Roger. Go del Pooperer.

xx doots

PS. Having said that, Wogie – if you lose to James Blake next round, I will brutally execute Federbear with a HOT SPORK. DEAL? 

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12 responses to “Match in a game.”

  1. Matt Zemek says :

    Awesome, Doots!

    Zhouerer the Devourerer of tennis matches and Showerer of wisdom.

    Wasn’t able to see this match live, but am seeing the replay on Tennis Channel. McFeduruh be HUNGRY.

    I want the head of Berdych Friday. With fondue.

  2. marco iacoboni (@marcoiacoboni) says :

    hey julie,
    thanks for posting this. being in italy atm, and being busy with my own tennis tourneys on clay (lost SF in singles, won dubs title) i didn’t even attempt to watch this match. nice to watch its critical games. i think fed’s problem is to keep the hunger day in and day out. not easy for a guy who won all sorts of titles and made all sorts of records. if he wants to win majors again, or masters, he really needs to keep his motivation high. when he plays those tourneys, he plays many players that are really good, and only with the kind of determination he showed against delpo he can bring the title home.
    easier said than done, of course. there will always be hungry players (clearly, nole is the hungriest now). fed needs to find his internal motivation. against delpo it was easy. i think he should focus on the fact that he has won at least one major every year for many years (9?), when he enters USO. that fact may give him enough motivation to keep the streak alive and to play hungry every one of those (hopefully 7) matches

  3. FortuneCookie says :

    Ooooooh I like the top (yep this is the first I’ve seen of him since The Match That Shall Not Be Named a couple of months ago)!

  4. jbs10is says :

    “he came in looking like he knew what he wanted to do, not because he thought he might try it, yer know – just to see what it feels like.”

    this in particular made me laugh aloud. and then I stopped and groaned – cause its TRUE AND ACTUALLY NOT FUNNY atall!

    He IS just wandering in, finding himself at net and “thinking, oh crap, what was I doing? OK, well, there’s a player over there lets just hit to him – he’ll know what to do”.

    I have bruises from all my headdesking.

    Now if we can JUST get him over that aversion to taking break points…. 🙂 While the one he took in the 2nd set was lovely, I’m ok with more quantity vs spectacular quality. A nice serviceable volley, fh, bh, lob; anything’ll do, really. 🙂

  5. Ramesh Prabhu (@zbrain) says :

    Great post! This was the first match of Roger’s that I caught on TV since the Wimbledon QF. I just can’t seem to understand the TV schedules. WTF is more important than broadcasting the greatest tennis player of all time? Well, that’s a rant for another time.

    Delpo isn’t exactly his old self of ’09 yet, but you could clearly see signs that he’s close to getting back there. As for Roger, what stood out for me was (besides the fact that he had a game plan 😉 that he was using every damn weapon in his arsenal… the serve down the T, the can opener as Matt Zemek likes to call it, the drop shot, the inside out forehand, the volley, and last but not the least, the best weapon for these courts, the slice! Not only was he using everything at his disposal (and it’s a whole damn lot), he wasn’t giving Delpo the same look twice, keeping him off balance for most the match.

    If he plays as well and as smart as he did last night, I have complete faith and belief that he will win Cincy AND the USO. Go Roger!!

  6. Pratha says :

    You bet Doots,it was a GREAT match – and even that feels like an understatement!
    It was early morning for me and I had school,so only watched the 1st set,and man did he blow my mind off!!I found myself gasping and breathless grinning from ear to ear and dancing around the room and shouting – at 6:30 am 😀 He played such delightful tennis!After today’s match,I’m not one bit nervous about facing the Bloke…….

  7. pban says :

    I still can’t believe i slept thru the 1st set…feddy see what you have done to me

  8. jfk says :

    Sharp Stuff from Roger! I was soo nervous about this match. Thanks Roger for winning in straights. Sorry I doubted you!

  9. TennisAce says :

    Funny that those 2 Championships as well as Wimbledon in that same year are my 3 best moments. In 2008 most people had written him off and unless you were a die-hard fan, you had no hopes or expectations that he would rise again. Come 2009 and it seemed like all the hard work in 2008 was for naught as he was again beaten by He Who Shall Not be Named. Come the spring of that year though and it was like Harry Potter all over again. You think he is going to win but there across the net was one more opponent striking fear in the bellies of all Federbitches everywhere. Every moment during that French Open seemed like an eternity, until on that final Sunday he got what he should have had a long time ago. A Roland Garros trophy and then he backed it up with a Wimbledon one. How good could it get.

    I don’t mind that he lost to DelPo. I like Juan Martin and think that if he can stay healthy he has a shot of collecting more Grand Slams but last night I made sure that I ended my boycott in order that I could see both of my guys play.

  10. Deborah (shackle52) says :

    Great stuff, Doots. I love the way he won, playing with all his stuff and acting like there was more where that came from cause there is. With his bad self!

  11. PSP says :

    Love your writing. 😉 I didn’t see the match as it was office hour in my country. So glad that he won.

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