Roma 2013: The Silver Linings Playbook.


Le sigh.

APTOPIX Italian Open Tennis

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.

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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.

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7 responses to “Roma 2013: The Silver Linings Playbook.”

  1. bridgepea says :

    Thank you so much Doots for the Monday morning laugh. I am still laughing over the Granny Smith apple as well as the greatest comeback in the history of hair. You are a star. Never stop blogging

  2. mattzemek says :

    Great to have you back on the Fence, Doots!

    Some notes for everyone:

    First, this was the 20th Fedal final. It’s the 13th final on clay. That’s 65 percent if you’re calculating at home.

    Rafa is unquestionably the best claycourter in the history, no? What he does and has done on the soorfrayce is simply spectacular. Moreover, as another Fed fan who generally likes and admires Nadal, I’m aware that there are many arguments to make for him on an all-time scale.

    That said, the fact that roughly 2 out of every 3 Fedal finals have been contested on clay is a reminder of how weighted the Fedal rivalry – and Rafa’s accomplishments – are weighted to clay. For all of the all-time comparisons, Rafa needs some more hardcourt majors to truly change the equation.

    MOREOVER (here’s the money line from a Federer perspective), for all the Wogie fans who hate seeing Fed lose to Nadal on clay and don’t want ClayFedal to happen ever again, just remember this: Federer’s ability to continue to make clay-court finals (and lose to Nadal) is *precisely* the kind of thing that Nadal has not been able to do on hardcourts. There are two hardcourt majors and one clay major, of course, meaning that one has twice as many chances to make a hardcourt final each year. Yet, RIGHT NOW, Federer has more claycourt major final appearances (5) than Rafa has hardcourt major final appearances (4 — 2 apiece in Melbourne and New York).

    Losing these clay finals to Rafa, while empirically being the most conspicuous and decisive failure(s) of Federer’s career, is — simultaneously and quite paradoxically — one of the very things that makes Federer’s all-surface resume that much more complete. If Pete Sampras had been able to make this many claycourt finals, and if Bjorn Borg had been able to win the U.S. Open when it moved to hardcourts in 1978, those men would have substantially improved their places in history.

    Fed’s clay trophy count is comparatively low because of Mr. Nadal. That Fed has created 13 clay-tournament finals against Rafa will continue to add to his all-surface (and all-time) legacy when all is said and done.

    Onward, ride or die, etc.

  3. Alex (@FedFanForever) says :

    Doots – my attitude since 2009 Wimby is that it’s all bonus time. No loss is of any importance, but every win is magnified.

  4. Roadrunnerz says :

    I hate Fedal finals (yesterday’s final only hammered in how much. ugh) and I hate how horribly Fed’s game matches up with Nadal’s. In that sense Rafa-Nole is a much more interesting match-up to me.

    But would I take it if that means Fed makes it to the finals at RG?

    Hell yes!

    ps: Nice to see you back here!

  5. Katarina_YYZ says :

    I like the new look very much 😀 I mean the blog, not Fed’s hair 😛 Well, the hair is not so bad. It’s growing on me. More importantly, it’s growing on him (growing back, that is).

    I sure didn’t enjoy Sunday’s final, but it is good to see Roger in a final, and I will take what I can get from him at this point. Hope you have a great time at RG, Doots! 🙂 Allez!

  6. jfk says :

    Glad you’re back, doots! The final was hard to watch. I expected him to lose after how he played in the Paire match, but just not so badly. Oh well onto RG where I hope the draw gods will be kind to him. Have fun and please take lots of pics!

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