Report from Abroad: Rhapsody.

In another life, I had decided to write a long post about the World Tour Finals tournament in London in general – the venue, the crowd, the atmosphere, the matches I had seen. But in that other life, Federer v Nadal had yet to materialise before my now very privileged eyeballs, and of course, everything changed after that.

They say a picture paints a thousand words, so I hope to sum up – in a single GIF – my experience sitting through a Fedal match last night:

The day started in a rather ordinary fashion with Tsonga v Poisson in the afternoon session. It was my third day at the tournament, but the novelty of attending the World Tour Finals still hadn’t worn off. I still remember my first reaction upon sighting the O2 Arena –  “err … it’s finished, right?” I DUNNO OKAY?! IT DOESN’T LOOK … DONE.

But done it was, and done so well.

In a bizarre way, the O2 Arena was everything the US Open venue should’ve been had the Americans been more people-minded and less focused on size with their stadium design.

I saw way too many people take photos with this pole. AND THEN I FELT LIKE A PROUD MAMA 'cause it was like MY POLE. Okay?!

Indeed, despite the location, the O2 Arena has a bizarrely “American” feel to it. Packed with restaurant chains, Starbucks, a cinema, a fanzone where fans could watch players practise even without a ticket, the O2 is like a two-in-one event venue and mall where tennis fans could eat, drink, play and spectate without being stranded in the middle of fucking nowhere and 50 miles away from the nearest supplier of alcohol and/or caffeine.

But of course, most of them come to see the tennis, and last night, they counted their lucky stars and came to witness a match-up occurring at a rarer frequency these days than ever before – Fedal.

There is an inclination in tennistical circles to confuse a “long match” with a “epic match”, and a “short match” with … let’s say – a “meaningless match”. But I am of the opinion that in a democratic society, one should always listen to the masses.

Having sat through 2.5 days of slugfest tennis, by the time I got to Fedal, it was the first time I felt the O2 Arena positively gyrate with the energy of a large crowd wetting themselves in excitement. And where the match lacked in competitiveness, it made up for with the pure … whateverthefuckthatwas that Federer put on display last night.

At last, no more slugfests and tedious baseline rallies, no need for third set tiebreaks and desperate chokes that do no justice to the match … despite the scoreline, it was a highly entertaining affair for all (except for the die-hard Nadal fans). You know Federer is tennistically entering the fourth dimension when sections of the crowd starts laughing and groaning at his shots like actors in a soft porn movie. At some point towards the end of the first set, a guy sitting next to me called out “Oh STOPITT ROGER!” as Federer cooly drilled a forehand down the line – on the run – and oil sprung up from beneath the earth’s crust where the shot landed.

Oh boy did I need a cold shower. Preferably with Roger in it.

Nadal shirt change - for the 1 and a half Rafa fans that lurk around here. This is my method of consolation.

But it was all over too quickly, and perhaps mercifully for Nadal. As the song goes, caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.

While one win here and there hardly changes the overall dynamics of the Fedal H2H, last night did serve to emphasise the obvious role of surface advantage in the Federer v Nadal rivalry: a 4-0 win/loss record for the pair on this surface is no longer just a stat – it becomes a pattern. In a way, this underscores how hard Nadal has had to work on surfaces that Federer is inherently good at, and how in turn, Federer’s own clay credentials have been largely overshadowed by his singular inability to beat Rafa on that surface. For 2011 at least, indoor hard courts remain Federer’s last bastion of defence for various reasons relating both to style and longevity.

Given the lopsided scoreline, there will of course be discussions of what Rafa did wrong, or more infuriatingly – what wrongs his body did to him. But a one-sided match such as this can also mean something quite different: that occasionally, a player in his element, on a surface favourable to his game, with a mind hungry for victory, can come up with something truly awe inspiring. Nadal did it at Roland Garros 2008, and what Roger Federer did on court yesterday was nothing short of unplayable.

And for that whole hour when I sat inside the O2 Arena, with my mind flooded by endorphins, I felt truly privileged to have seen it all and felt it live.

Since leaving in August on this trip, there have been such a lot of world to see and so many amazing individuals along the way to meet. But knowing my greatest addictions in my life, you had to leave it up to Federer to put that glazed cherry on twop.

xx doots


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14 responses to “Report from Abroad: Rhapsody.”

  1. marco iacoboni (@marcoiacoboni) says :

    oh doots, i saw you at the beginning of that world tour in angel city. it was late august (or early september, i forget). who would have thought at that time that the next fedal would be such an orgasmic thing?
    he was so much on fire. OK, rafa’s ball was a bit short, but that doesn’t automatically make fed’s shots the beauties they actually were. fed had to hit those shots. it was glorious, epic, and fast. yeah, i like fast. who needs five hours of moonballing?
    keep going to the O2, lady, and let’s hope for some more magic hitting from the genius, the artist, the poet, what else? oh yeah, the MAESTRO!!!!!!

  2. Deborah says :

    Great stuff, Doots! So glad you were there to bear witness. I don’t know how it felt in person but watching it on TV, Roger seemed other worldly and Nadal looked like he didn’t know what hit him. He had the same dazed look as Berdych in Paris and he managed to win more games.

  3. Katarina_YYZ says :

    I love Roger 😀

    By the way, that pic you posted — Roger, the umpire and some tournament person waiting at the net, while Nadal is sitting at his chair, adjusting his bottles… making everyone wait for him… for the millionth time… Well, it’s not just a random pic to me. He does it every time. It’s not by chance, it’s not carelessness or OCD. I don’t care how many ‘humble’ pronouncements he makes, I will never like that guy.

  4. abby55 says :

    Ooooh Doots you lucky , lucky girl!! To witness such magnificence from Wogie!! He must have know you were there !!! lol I have never seen anything so exciting in my life and especially as it was against RN!! I admit I dont like him one bit BUT even I began to feel slightly (for a nanosecond anyway) lol sorry for him!! What a thrashing of immense magnitude!! The determination and focus on his face was a joy to behold and I hope he can keep it going !! Loved it and love Wogie for being, well, Wogie !!!!!
    For once the media/comms were amazed and delirious too !! I cannot get enough of the press atm except for the few who have decided to diss Roger in his interview re Toothface when he didnt even mention his name FFS!! Arrrgg !! Anyway I refuse to allow these maggots to spoil this win !!


  5. Freudo says :

    Now I know why you planned your months abroad!!!! I was hoping you’d be there, so glad you were!!!! Are!!!!! Hope we get another Rhapsody!!!! Enjoy!!!! And many THANKS!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Matt Zemek says :

    You had your picture taken with him… and then, only then, did he find the strength to thrash Nadal like this.

    Doots, the Mistress of Excellence.



  7. Kyle Johansen says :

    It was absolutely fantastic to watch live on a stream – you must have been in heaven to watch it live! It was a fantastic match to watch, and Rafa really didn’t do much wrong. There is just nothing he could do because Fed was overwhelming him. There was one rally where Fed hit 4 backhand half-volleys from the baseline and all of them were perfect. Nadal just doesn’t have any space on a fast court, and Fed has all the time in the world. Nadal was perfectly fine, he was just manhandled. And it was mind-numbingly beautiful.

  8. moodyjude says :

    Thank you so much for your take on all this! Love your blog, you’re my favorite Fed chronicler

  9. Northcay says :

    Nice one. Good for you

  10. jfk10s says :

    Am so jealous you got to see that live!
    Basel, Paris , and London! I think this calls for some Federporn friday this week :p

  11. lapinroyal says :

    So glad that you able to witness one of his best weeks… You better drop your work (Congrat by the way for the confirmation of your job!!! EEEK) and be at the 2012 Wimbledon and Olympics games, so Wogie can win both of them!!!

  12. Jonathan says :

    Must have been a great match to watch live, I think I’d trade the Ferrer semi for this one all day long!

    Just hoping he keeps this up into 2012.

  13. Carol says :

    Come back Doots! We need you!

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