Roma 2013: The Silver Linings Playbook.
Inevitably after another Federer loss to the Clay Monster, I go through the stages of fury, demoralisation, resignation, and the search for silver linings. And here are the silver linings:
- Roger made the final. And as kaput as his side of the draw was in Rome, he took it one match at a time and played some gorgeous tennis during the course of the week.
- If Federer’s main goal in Rome was to get some much-needed match play before Paris, then consider it mission accomplished.
- Rafa goes into Roland Garros seeded #4, which means that provided Murray doesn’t pull out before the draw, Federer and Nadal cannot meet unless it’s in the final. And would I take another Fedal final in Paris, even after so many frustrating years of little success? YES I WOULD BITCHES. In a heartbeat.
- In giving him a new haircut, Federer’s hairdresser had clearly cut off some chocolatey strands of SHEER AWESOME, which would explain the slump in form. But never fear bitchessssss, that only means we’re in prime position for the greatest comeback in the history of HAIR.
- HE LOOKED LIKE A GIANT GRANNY SMITH ON LEGS. I MEAN, WHO LOOKS CUTE IN APPLE GREEN? ROGER FEDERER DOES APPARENTLY. IS THERE ANYTHING THE MAN CAN’T DO? (Other than, ya know, beat Nadal on clay over 5 sets). NO. THERE IS SIMPLY NOT. That is all.
For many, Nadal’s 61 63 win over Federer yesterday was simply another instalment in the same script on repeat. The same high bouncing topspin forehands breaking down the Federer backhand. The same wild and wilful shanks eliciting groans from a crowd only too eager to see a real battle. The same dropshits from odd court positions that inevitably tell your opponent that you are in a mental state of desperation. The same mental scar tissues materialising in the form of odd, inconsistent strategies, poor shot selection, a high number of unforced errors (32 from Federer to Nadal’s 8) … must I go on? You know how this ends.
But not to be lost in how badly Federer played yesterday is the fact that Nadal held up his end of the bargain in Rome – coming through a tough draw, challenged by opponents of polar opposite species in the form of Gulbis and Ferrer, and capping off the week by winning Rome with another dominant performance against Federer.
This is Nadal’s 8th consecutive final since returning from injury and his 6th title. And if Federer had been forced by the media to time and time “prove” himself by overcoming his version of a slump in form, Rafa has also had to contend with this strange need we have for him to justify his injuries and continue to prove his longevity. Given his stats and performances since his return, how can you not appreciate the way he’s proving the naysayers wrong?
And so another Fedal match has been won and lost. The stats are analysed, the numbers tallied, the win gloated and the unhealed wounds licked clean and stinging.
But like a tennistical masochist, I find myself wanting no more and wishing for more at the same time, whether “more” comes in three weeks or three months. Because the point of competitive sport, after all, is not to be resigned to defeat.
P.S. Heading to Roland Garros for the first three days (oh yeth, fan slam HERE I COME). If you happen to be in town and want to meet up for fun times filled with fine wine, know that I am totally up for it.