Semi-final stage has been set, and we all know what’s going to be on the menu. Before I go into dissecting the fine dishes for tonight and tomorrow night…some random thoughts to wrap up the events of the last few days.
1) Federer-Delpony. A match that I was excruciatingly nervous about, just because of USO09 angst. Yes, Delpony isn’t the player he was – but still, I couldn’t discount the damage he can potentially do, with that forehand. From the start, I thought this would be the quarter-final match up – helped that Mardy Fish got hooked and grilled by Falla. At first, seemed like my worry was displaced as Federer started brilliantly in the first three games to break Del Potro (recording something insane like 8 winners and 1 UE in those games). All cool if he keeps up, right? But noooo…dude got broken and I was sitting in a meeting at work feeling my stomach curling up in ulcers. But as Delpony was serving to stay in the set, a couple of great returns from the Old Man seemed to rattle him, and he tossed in a double-fault to give Fed the first set. Set 2 seemed to roll around like the first – early break for Fed but a tough service game as he was attempting to serve out the set. I was so worried that it’ll be a repeat of USO09 (NIGHTMARE! NIGHTMARE!) but Fed hung tough and served it out. Third set was pretty much kinda smooth-sailing and straightforward with Fed taking a double break and serving out the match prettily, much to my relief.
2) Nadal-Berd. Berd will be kicking himself in the head FOREVER on that flubbed volley on the second set tie-breaker…which would’ve given him the second set and a two-sets-to-none lead against Rafa. As it goes – if you let Rafa back into a match, it will most probably be curtains for you, and that was what happened with Berd…went bye bye Berdy in 4 sets. He had his chances – the second set, and early break in the third set – but just couldn’t capitalise on them. I’ll refrain on commenting on the so-call controversies though, because in the end, it is what it is. Doesn’t make a difference either way.
3) Muzz-Nishikori. Nishikori had nothing left in the tank after his 5-setter against Tsonga (which was quite brilliant, by the way. He really showed a lot of steel to outhit and outlast Jo) AND baking two hours in the sun for mixed-doubles before his match with Muzz. I expected an easy straight-sets win, and that was what happened. The general consensus was that he didn’t play that well (apparently served kind of horribly) but Kei-chan had no energy/legs left to really pose a huge challenge. Still, a fantastic run for Nishikori and top 20 is beckoning. He’s a good kid with quite a solid game, definitely one of the potential ones to break out in his career. Hope he continues to do well, and inspire more tennis players in the Asian region.
4) Djokovic-Ferrer. Oh, Lord F. I cannot believe you were straight-setted by Djokovic. You were supposed to be able to run faster and longer than gimpy old man Hewitt (who had one leg for half the match)! But as it is, Ferrer CAN run faster and harder but Hewitt had the edge over him in arsenal and shots, as well as guts and heart and spleen. Lord F had his chances in the second-set tiebreaker, but suffered mental lapses to allow Djokovic to take control and take the set. Might have been different if he had been able to take a set…but he didn’t and went down tamely in the 3rd.
So for the third time in the last 4 Slams – the Top 4 is in the semis. I honestly think the depth in the men’s game – when it comes to the Top 4 – is probably the best it has been in recent years. Of course, I still think #3 is the tops. 🙂
5) The unlikely quarter-finals between Shrieky Sharapova/Ekaterina Makarova and Petra Kvitova/Sara Errani yielded the likely results. I thought Makarova had half a chance seeing she was spectacular against Vera (I didn’t see the Serena match) but Shrieky was simply too good for her. Kvitova, however, didn’t play well, but it was enough to beat Errani in straights. But if she doesn’t pick up her game today against Shrieky…I think she’s goners for sure.
6) Azarenka outhit and outshriek Radwanska to make the second semi-final and Kimmie beat Wozniacki as expected. I know Woz was number 1, but her game just isn’t good enough to combat Kim’s power hitting and aggressiveness. In losing to Kim, she loses the number 1 ranking, thus ending the complaining and discussion of a Slamless #1…for now. When AO is over, the WTA #1 will be a Slammy one – because it would either be Kvitova, Sharapova or Azarenka. And Azarenka will have to win AO to assume that spot. Hip hip hooray – no more mocking the WTA for a while at least!
And on we roll to Semis Day 1. (Get your frazzlepants on)
Hola, loyal Fence
sitters readers. Yes, you’re again stuck with some of my guest blogging for this year’s French Open. With Dootsie facing exams, interviews, working a zillion jobs a week and preparing for her big exchange and trip-round-the-world, I’ve been asked to give our favourite Aussie Federbitch a hand in maintaining the Fence for this Slam Season.
So, Day Two of the French saw our beloved Roger Federpants taking on Feliciano Lopez for his opening match. I’m sure we all don’t need reminders on how “Matchpoint Lopez” took Fed to three TBs in Madrid. To be honest, I wasn’t THAT concerned, simply because – well, I don’t think Feli can hang with Fed in best-of-five, in a Grand Slam setting. That being said, I wasn’t exactly doing jumping jacks of joy, for Deliciano IS tricky, and is probably one of the least-wanted person for a first-round match-up for any play. I expected a fight, because I know Feli wasn’t going to go away easily.
Roger had breakpoints in Feli’s very first service game of the match – 4 break points in fact – and he sort of farted two, and Feli saved two with some solid serving. Have to admit that I did feel a slight sense of OH MAH GAH CRAP when Fed didn’t manage to convert – thought that he’d get broken in his next service game. He didn’t, though (thank you for proving me wrong, darling!) and he did well to convert his 5th breakpoint late in the set – and served out the set with relative ease.
Set 2 was as straightforward as it gets as well – for Roger, anyway. Again, he had a couple of break points in Feli’s opening service game, and again, he didn’t manage to convert, and again, another opportunity came later in the set where he managed to capitalise, convert and then clinched the set.
Set 3 was more neck-to-neck, with Feli and Fed piling the pressure onto each other. No break points were offered, and inevitably it was to be decided in a tie-breaker. Feli gave up two mini-breaks through some pretty uninspiring play, although he got one back on Fed’s serve. But then Feli double-faulted to give Roger match point, which he happily took it with an ace – game, set, match, FEDERPANTS, through in straight sets in two hours.
As far as a round 1 match goes, it was a good match. Feli actually played quite well, but just couldn’t keep it together well enough to pressure Roger like he did in Madrid. Momentary lapses and a couple of loose points by him was all it took for Roger to pounce. And Roger played a good, solid match – with more than just a couple of breath-taking plays of amazeballs (exhibit A, Dootsie’s post just before this).
And also, the Man was looking all gorgeous and fiery in cherry-tomato red. I’m still not sure about the horizontal stripes (I’m not a fan of horizontal stripes – period) but I like the color and the white shorts. Here, you all be the judge.
On other players, in tid-bit format:
1) The SHOCKING Win of the Day: French qualifier Stephane Robert beat Big Berd Tomas, semi-finalist from last year in 5 sets. What made it even more BWUZZAH HUH was the fact that Berd was up TWO sets to love. He led by a break in the 5th set, and had one match point, but couldn’t find a way to win. Robert, a veteran at age 31, ranked 140 in the world, has never beaten a top-10 player, never won a main-draw match in Paris, never won a 5-setter. To call this the biggest win of his life may be a mild understatement even.
I tuned in to a bit of the final set in between watching Fed and Feli – and Robert was just giving it absolutely everything – really really gutsy play that paid off more often than not, props to him. The French crowd was 101% behind him (which helped) but the mental collapse of Berdych in sets 3 and 4 is kind of puzzling. To lose in this fashion – to a qualifier – was even more Old Berdych than the Old Berdych, if you get what I mean. Although I kind of doubted whether did the New Berdych really arrived, or it was just Old Berdych in a fancy suit for a couple of months. Anyway, congrats to Robert – but I have a feeling he won’t get too far.
2) The Crowd-pleasing Win of the Day: Everyone’s favourite comeback kid Juan Martin Del Potro defeated Dr.Ivo Karlovic in four sets. A tight contest in the first which saw the Doctor prevailing in the TB, and then relatively straightforward for JDMP to break once in each of the following sets to win the match. JDMP did waste like a zillion break points (obviously bidding for that exclusive membership into Federer’s special club) but he won in the end, and is now a step closer to the Djokovic 3rd round showdown.
3) The Whatevs Win of the Day: Satan Djokovic steamrolled Thiemo the Bakery, giving him a pretzel and a breadstick in the process. Streamed about two games of the second set, and Bakery was giving it as much effort as it would take to lift a Styrofoam ball, so that’s that. Speaking of Djokovic – his quarter has just been cleared beautifully with Marin Cilic and Berd both biting the dust…so let’s see if JDMP can do anything here.
4) The Breaking Aussie Hearts Win of the Day: Carlos Berloq, Argentinean journeyman, gave Bratface Bernard Tomic a lesson on how to play clay-court tennis, bundling out the youngest player in main draw in straights. For the first time since 1949, there will be no Australian men in the second round of the French. Oh Aussie (men’s) tennis…what can you do to shine again?
5) The Breaking PJ’s Heart Win of the Day: Marsel Ilhan beat Tommy Haas in 4 sets. I guess that’s not unexpected with Haasi barely having any match-play for the last 14 months, but in my little fangirl heart, I hoped. In his post-match conference, Haasi expressed that he was happy to be able to finish the match, and hinted at possible retirement on the horizon:
“I’m just kind of right there where I’m not sure where the body will be. All I try to do is to get it back to a place where I feel really comfortable for a few hours playing a match.”
“And if that’s possible, then I’ll continue to play if I still have some success. And if I know it’s next month or the end of the year that that’s not the case, then I know where I am at and I can make a decision if I continue to play.
Which clearly showed that he was actually not ready to play at all – if he was concerned about just finishing the match. Adding onto the recent injury woes of the likes of Ferrero, Roddick, Hewitt (fine, I admit it…so mock me)…it’s approaching a point where I have to wave goodbye to all my early favourites, which makes me all contemplative and melancholy and sad – although I certainly hope The Ultimate Favourite hangs in there for a few more seasons.
6) The WHOA-She-Did-It Win of the Day: Anastasia Rodionova beat 25th seed and doubles partner Nadia Petrova in three sets. Even when she was up a break in the 3rd, I fully expected Rodi to brain-cramp, freak out, smash racquets and eventually lose the match. But she didn’t. And she joins Sammy Stosur in the second round – let’s hope Jarka Gajdosova can make it as the third Aussie laydee to advance!
Other tid-bit wraps: Michael Llodra and Milos “Next Big Thing” Raonic are the other men’s seeds to fall – Llodra losing to Belgian qualifier Steve Darcis amidst hissy fits towards the umpire about crowd control, and Raonic to Michael Berrer in 4 sets. It’s pretty disappointing for Raonic in a way – although the red stuff is not his favourite, I did think he would go further. Nikolay “Last Big Thing” Davydenko avoided another first-round slam loss, beating Denis Gremelmayr in straights. Kolya CAN play on this stuff (two-time FO semi-finalist) – I, for one, really hope he can sustain some semblance of his old form.
It was a relatively smooth day for the ladies’ seeds – top seeds all cruised through comfortably with no notable upsets. Christina McHale and Sara Errani provided the drama for the women though – with McHale leading 5-0 in the deciding set…and promptly ended up losing the match 7-9 in the third. Ouch.
Day 3 sees some exciting match-ups – notably Clay Monster Rafa Nadal taking on Big John Isner, as well as Jarka, Shierky, and MAndy in action. Ryan Harrison scored the last lucky loser spot and will be taking on Bobby Sod (good luck, Ryan, GO BOBBY) and my favourite ponytailed headcase Alexandr Dolgopolov takes on Rainer Schuettler for his first-round match. Dude, don’t make me embark on the journey to quit you because I actually really like you.
Good day of tennis impending!
P.S. photos taken from daylife.com
A couple of days late, but I thought I’ll just string a post to try and keep the AO2011 posts sort of complete.
Day 3 of the tennis…well we all know what happened Day 3 of the tennis. Roger got taken to five sets by Gilles Simon after being up two sets to love. That was one match that I would not have survived live, I barely survived it watching the TV. However, there ARE people who survived it live, and Head Bitch is one of them. Read her fabulous on-the-spot account as a guest blogger on the SI Blog here, and trust me when I say you really really should.
As for my own account…well. The first set he was playing so well, and second set as well although he did get broken that one time. But there was nothing to signify that Wogiekins would not win this in straights, in fact I was pretty much certain he would. And then Simon upped his level. TREMENDOUSLY. And Federer responded by dropping his level, proceeded to get broken three times (although he broke back twice, but that was not nearly enough innit?) to drop the set.
Truth be told, Simon has always been tricky (2-0 H2H, anyone?) and I wasn’t freaking out too much…until Simon just kept blazing this balls past Federer. Until Federer very visibly began panicking and making stupid shot selections and lost his forehand and backhand. Until he got broken in the fourth. Until he lost the set and got pushed to a fifth. Then I couldn’t take it. It was nearing midnight and I went out for a run in the gardens. Yeah, the possums probably thought I am some crazy insane retard. I came back when it was 2-all, and I literally couldn’t watch it. I couldn’t bear the thought of Roger going out second round, plus I have Sunday tickets and Tuesday quarterfinals, what the fuck am I going to do with those tickets otherwise? I seriously do not think I could enter Melbourne Park again for any kind of tennis knowing he lost in the fucking SECOND ROUND.
When he broke, I was nearly weeping with relief and yet so worried that he was going to get broken back. When he didn’t, all was good. When he held those three match points on Simon’s serve and didn’t manage to close it out, all was not good. When he got to match point and played the most stupid dropshot, all was VERY BAD. When he closed out the match with an ace, I felt like I had just run ten marathons. But he was through. That was all that matters.
Other tidbits and observations of Day 3:
1) Tipsarevic served for the match TWICE against Verdasco, blew both chances, blew the tiebreaker, blew the fifth set. Yes, Tipsarevic really blows.
2) Kohlscrubber didn’t manage to scrub out the Berd-shit despite taking the first set. But Berdych came back to take the match in four sets. Evidently it was some powerful pigeon shit.
3) Dimitrov – the 345843th Baby Fed – got taken out by Concubine Fed (Wawrinka) in straights. But it has been a good tournament for him, and I honestly do like the guy’s game. Hope to see him reach a landmark in his career soon.
4) Mahut lost to Bert Minion Troicki (who then proceeded to retire against Master Bert, WTF). But Mr. Amazing Anime Hair has gained some points through this tournament, so I hope he’ll be able to make the main draw of slams soon.
5) After beating Davydenko, Florian Mayer crashed out against Nishikori Kei. Dude, you beat Kolya and lost to Nishikori? If you want to.
6) Roger’s potential 4th round opponent, fondly known as Farty Dish on le Fence, lost to Disco Tommy R. Can’t say I’m surprised. The Fish is just not consistent at all.
7) Venus pulled a stomach muscle against Scream Girl Zahlavova (boy her screaming was…ear splitting, deafening, screechy) and lost the first set in a tiebreak, but quickly came back to win the match, serving a bagel in the process. And oh, her dress was truly horrifying and kind of very ugly.
And some Day 4 tidbits and observations from yours truly:
1) Rafa had another slam dunk easy yahoo sleepy match against Ryan Sweeting, giving up only 4 games. Critics say Rafa is in imperious scary form. He may be so, but seriously, you cannot make that assumption based on those two matches.
2) Deliciano was definitely not delicious in losing to Bratface Tomic in STRAIGHT sets. Bratface reckons he’ll “give Rafa a run for his money”. I say to all of those who will be at RLA tomorrow evening, bring a bread bag to collect freshly baked goods from centre court, courtesy of Rafa.
3) Mandy Curry was curiously emotional and grouchy while steamrolling Ilya Marchenko.
4) Nalbandian retired against Berankis after only winning one game. Couldn’t go on, said he was too tired, and too drained. I can picture Lleyton Hewitt dialing CALL-A-HITMAN…
5) Del Potro put up a fight against Baghdatis, but too little match-play, and a wrist that he was clearly still very concerned about (hence it may not be 100%) saw him exiting in 4 sets. Bagman got the win, and his fans are as annoying as ever.
6) Bobby Sod continued flying under radar, beating Gilles Muller and achieving his best ever result at Australian Open.
7) Sammy Stosur put up a wonderful display to trounce Dushevina. She’s looking good, and I hope she’ll go far.
8) Other Aussie Molik lost to Nadia Petrova, exiting what may be her last Australian Open. Been a decent run for her.
9) Jankovic unexpectedly lost to Peng Shuai in straight sets. That is a bit flabbergasting, in my opinion.
And that’s all I have to say regarding Day 3 and Day 4. Will try to write a Day 5 post before tomorrow. Caved in and bought ground passes for Day 6…good matches on Margaret Court Arena that I am kinda stoked about.
Hope y’all are enjoying the tennis!
P.S. Photos from daylife.com
One of the above isn’t like the others…
Oh yeth. British PeeEm David Cameron gathered the Top 8 for some photo ops at the Ministry of Tragic. Evidently, the ATP’s idea of “tournament promotion” is to dress the world’s best players up like a bunch of balding investment bankers and congregate them at a place not accessible to fans.
What could possibly make them look more like a bunch of privileged, private-schooled, well-moneyed, jet-setting douchebags removed from the grassroots of tennis?
GET THEM TO SUCK UP TO AUTHORITY OF COURSE.
If you’re going to be a snoot, at least be in on your own joke.
Now that I’ve gotten the snark out of my system … you know those models that press themselves against hot cars?
In the unlikely event I suddenly grow a few meters in height and become one of those supermodels specializing in being the token Asian in photoshoots, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO PRESS ME AGAINST THIS CAR. In fact, don’t bother having car windows.
Hey this photo is actually less injurious on the eyes! What am I missing …
No, Big Berd. Roger doesn’t actually want to socialise with you.
I have nothing snarky to say on this photo. I just like my men tanned. That’s all.
Personally wouldn’t mind a crooked smile either. But Rafa dear, when Fernando Verdasco asks if you want his left-over bottle of hair gel, JUST SAY NO.
Andy Toothface was eager to point out that, like Federer’s Wintour and Rafa’s Gypsy, he too has friends in high places. Friends he can matchy-matchy his tie with, and chat at length about things like haggis and deep fried arteries …
“It’s the second time I’ve been here. It was nice. He [David Cameron] likes tennis, which we knew beforehand. We spoke about tennis and some of the past players. It was good fun, I really enjoyed it.”
I iz disappoint.
He doesn’t care about Masters anymore.
He doesn’t know how to handle big hitters.
He’s no longer motivated after winning 16 slams.
The crowd is bored of a guy who has dominated tennis for the last 7 years.
Roger Federer’s brain has turned into baby poop.
With the exception of the last, Roger Federer proved all of the above statements to be false as he roared his way to a 63 57 76(5) win over Berdy.
To my fellow Fedophiles: take this rare chance to relish our smugness, repeat after me (resort to fist pumps and neck movements if necessary) FUCK YEAH FUCK YEAH FUCK YEAH FUCK YEAH.
And to those experts who called it otherwise: UP YOURS UP YOURS UP YOURS UP YOURS.
How do I sum up the match? Fed floated, he fell. He flailed, he fought. And boy, did he fight like the junkyard dog he used to be! Before the lung infection, before Indian Wells and Miami morphed Federer into a scrappy, slightly timid player, unable to claim the chances gifted to him. He dug deep, changed his body language after getting down 1-4 in the final set and found the emotional energy to stay strong in the match.
The first set wasn’t as close as a 63. The second set should’ve ended in a tiebreak. The third set should’ve been lost at 3-6. But it matters not.
What matters is that I saw deliberate wrong-footing tactics, instead of his usual go-with-the-flow approach. I saw an incredible 24 out of 29 points won at the net for a guy who normally looks too lazy to bend down for a volley. I saw improved movement around the court. I saw a set and a half of sublime backhands NOT dunked into the net. I saw some spectacular clutch serving at 5-6 in the third set when he needed the tiebreak. And best of all? I saw a crowd who treated him as one of their own and carried him to victory.
It wasn’t always pretty, but it was the sort of mental wobble he needed to battle past to become competitive mentally again, and regardless of what happens tomorrow or (should he win) on Sunday, Toronto has provided him with enough of an upward momentum for the US Open series.
That’s what matters.
As for Berdych – dude made a stand. He fought any breakpoints Federer had after the first set with positive, aggressive tennis – key to his ability to push this match to a third set tiebreak.
… and that’s as nice as I’ll be to a guy who fist-pumps and death-stares after his opponent’s errors. Mental games? You ain’t no Lleyton Hewitt bitch.
Numbers for you to crunch on.
Meanwhile, Rafa seemed to have contracted Roger’s breakpointivitis for a while during his match against Kohlismylover, eventually toughing it out 36 63 64 despite having numerous opportunities to break earlier in the third set. Kohlschreiber played an electric first set but made the error of letting Rafa into the match too early in the second set. From then on, Rafa started to loosen up and Kohly unknowingly fell into a more passive pattern of play, particularly on his returns.
Rafa will have to perk up for his next opponent, as Toothface had no trouble dismissing an out-of-sorts Nalbandian 62 62. Meanwhile Djoko breathed easily against Jeremy Chardy in the last match of the night session – 62 63.
We have a great weekend of tennis excellence lined up: in Canada, the men’s top 4 are through to the semis for the first time in tournament history, while in Cincinnati, 3 former World No 1s are due for some semifinal action.
Maria Sharapova prevailed in a dominant win over Marion Bartoli – 61 64 – despite a slight wobble when trying to close out the match in the second set. Not that I saw any of it – I was too busy eating Neapolitan ice cream with my eyes. She’ll meet Nastya Pavs for the first time tomorrow for a place in the final.
By the way, Nike? This double-helix thing isn’t working for me.
Ivanovic, on the other hand, defeated the 114th ranked Uzbek, Akgul Amanmuradova, in tongue twister 6-1 6-3. Woah, she’s back! Er … if by back you mean beating players outside the top 100, instead of losing to Julie Coin. Grand slam success surely just around the corner now bitches. You watch!
Kim Clijsters had a tougher time than I expected against Flavs, eventually coming through 7-6 (6), 6-4 despite making 39 unforced errors. You’d think she’ll make it past Ivanovic, you’d think, wouldn’t ya? Judging by form this week, I doubt it’ll be a walk in the park.
Enjoy the frazzles folks. We get to keep up the smugness for at least another day.
A few quick thoughts before I leave it to PJ to update the Wimbly fall-out.
Haven’t seen the match yet. I’ll give it some time before I do. By “some time”, I mean … a few years.
I found out the results by walking past a pub with a plasma screen. Couldn’t make it to the end of the block, my feet literally refused to move anymore. It’s amazing how quickly the man is capable of sapping my energy, the same way he put a sprint in my step a few days ago when I went to see him at Wimbledon. I would give anything to be less emotionally invested right now.
Of course, when I finally doubled back to the pub, ordered myself a drink and connected to the pub wifi on my iPod touch, tennis fandom was in the thick of a wave of fury over Federer’s press conference.
So here goes:
- The last question of the presser: either you have the IQ of a piece of fungus, or Federer was being sarcastic. But of course, IQ and sarcasm-radar has nothing to do with it: people who want to hate on him will always jump to the worst conclusion without a lead.
- Surliness: I probably won’t be with the majority here – I loved the press conference. The worst part of the US Open 2009 wasn’t that he lost, it was that he lost and didn’t seem bothered by it. (Sure, the babies, Roland Garros and Wimbledon probably eased the blow back then). But this is Wimbledon, the man just lost for the second time in 7 years on his home turf. If he turns up to the press conference his usual smooth self, if he appeared to be unbothered by it, I’d tell him to retire. As long as he’s surly, sarcastic, as long as he’s out there looking for explanations, he still cares, he still wants it. There is no greater assurance for a Federer fan than that.
- Besides, what’s the point? I’ve watched him be magnanimous in defeat over the years, only to be preyed on the vultures the tennis media, only to be knocked down again and again by haters. It would’ve taken a lesser man less time to tell the tennis media to shove it. As far as I’m concerned, if “surly” is as bad as Federer ever gets on his worst day, it’s a pretty good reflection on his character.
- Bringing up an injury was an excuse, it was his way of rationalising the loss. Again, as with the surliness, it’s oddly comforting. Kim Clijsters did essentially the same thing after her Australian Open loss to Nadia Petrova. (Funny how she’s still the epitome of class and nicety on the WTA tour isn’t it?) It all comes down to this really: Roger Federer just lost in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. There is nothing rational about it. It is not okay. I am not okay and he shouldn’t be either. So if he wants to turn up to a press conference grasping for a way to explain this so that it hurts less for him and his fans – be my guest, Fed. I have no insecurities when it comes to Roger Federer – I don’t need him to say the right thing 100% of the time to be convinced that he’s a classy guy. I know that for a fact.
- The injury: those of us in Federer-fandom have known about his leg strapping since last week (here), and anyone familiar with Roger Federer knows how often we see a part of him strapped or bandaged: about once every half a decade, the last time being during Masters Cup 2005. That should tell you its significance. Funnily enough, not a single member of the media cared to ask.
- Regardless of the injury, just like there is a presumption of innocence in law, there should also be a presumption of health in sport. You’re well enough to step on court, you’re well enough to play (and you’re well enough to lose fairly). So no, Federer doesn’t get much credibility for bring up an injury after a loss, with a minor caveat – the man has never retired from a single match in his career. He could barely stand during the 2008 Masters Cup match against Murray and he still kept playing. Do you see him pulling out of Wimbledon, ever?
- Double standards. Hypocrisy. It runs both ways. If you’re a Rafa fan, I’m sorry, you don’t get to judge. Equally, if you’re a Federer fan who’s had a go at Rafa over the years for bringing up injuries after a loss, then you don’t get to not-judge Federer on this either.
- US Open. Roger will win it. And if he won’t? He’ll still walk away from 2010 with a slam. It’s what I asked for at the beginning of the year, the hardest part was telling myself not to be greedy.
- I realise this is where I part ways with some of you: Rafa for the tournament please. I’ve always said that if someone tapped me on the shoulder and told me the bandwagon I’m on is about to tumble off cliff, I’ll probably still stay on it. Yesterday, my bandwagon crashed, and I have a feeling that Rafa fans know exactly what this feels like. This time last year was a low point for Rafa too. He hit rock bottom, stayed there for a while, and eventually found his way back up to the top.
The story gives me hope, that someday,as Federer fans, we may make it out of rock bottom too.
You and me. Could write a rad bromance.
It seems just yesterday that Miami wrapped up with Randy and Kim feeling the good vibrations, suddenly, we’re entering the hustle and bustle part of the clay season as the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters kick off this week.
Much like the principality itself, the tournament threw a lavish players’ party, attended by Rafa, Nole, Jo, the Nandopez (Felicinando?) and the Ljubs.
Raise an eyebrow, if you must, at Rafa’s choice of shoes.
Dapper Jo can do no wrong. He’s bringing out the shoulder-fetish in me these days.
Nole needed his better half present to upstage the competition.
Unfortunately, the security was a tad lax and a couple of hobos managed to crash the party.
Since Rogie and Mirka are going to adopt me, these guys can be my godparents. Have you ever seen anything sweeter?
Mrs Ljubs totally channelling the Mirka vibe there. You go Boss.
There are two extremes of matches. On one end of the spectrum: arthouse displays in which nothing dramatic ever happens. It doesn’t sizzle, it doesn’t explode into fireworks, yet it leaves you with a feeling of infinite wonder and satisfaction. In Federerarian terms, we’d call it a “TMF sighting”.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are the blockbusters. The script is cheesier than macaroni, the acting is close to parody, but despite everything, the sheer drama of it all grips you by the hormones and drags you to the edge of your seat.
By that criteria, the Clijsters v Henin match was your typical trashy, yet strangely addictive blockbuster.
It was error-prone. It was neurotic. It was filled of confusion and anarchy. The best lacked all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
From 2-6 0-3 in the second set, it was as if neither of the players wanted to win the match. Kim had a breakpoint to go up a set and a double break. As far as her tennis was concerned, Clijsters was in tennis nirvana – crushing the ball with authority from all corners of the court.
Justine on the other hand, couldn’t stay in a rally past 5 shots without trying to hit a winner on the back foot. When she wasn’t banging the cover off the ball, Jujubear was spraying routine forehands like her name was Fe – … oh fine! I’ll cut him some slack.
Down 2-6, 0-3, Justine saved a breakpoint to hold. From this seemingly innocuous moment onwards, the match took a turn for the bizarre – all of a sudden, Kim seemed to lose all conviction in herself. Double faults flowed. Mid court putaways found themselves at the bottom of the net.
Mama Kim, the confident, mature player constructing points with so much power and instinct sudden looked like the Clijsters of old. The one-slam wonder of yesteryear that I could never bring myself to like, despite Kimmy being so goddamn likable.
In the end, like in Brisbane, it came down to a tiebreak. One point at 6-all, Kim found herself at the net with a reflex volley and for a split second, you could hear the crowd gasp – it’s going out.
The second passes and the ball lands in. Match point Clijsters. And much like in Brisbane, Justine Henin had used up her chance.
Close, but as the saying goes, no cigar.
Plenty of cigars for Venus Williams, who bested a serve-troubled Marion Bartoli, 63 64. Perhaps Marion needed to concentrate more on what’s happening on court than off.
“I saw Serena before the match. I said to her, ‘It’s not fair you’re dressing up so nicely. I’m going to watch more what you’re wearing than the ball.’
I think she had a red dress and some really, really, really high heel shoes. Maybe something like 14 inches of heels. It was pretty high.”
Like Venus, Boby Sod also clobbered his way to a routine win against the Headclobber himself, Mikhail Youzhny. He’s due to face T.Bird, who came through by virtue of Fernando Verdasco’s sheer retardedness that saw him lose a set and break advantage.
Go away Birdy. Spoiler of my Citrus Final. Now that Bobby Sod and Rafa are still in the draw, no one is spoiling my “V is for Vendetta” Sunday blockbuster.
“My game has issues at this moment,” Federer said. “I’ve had timing issues the last couple weeks and it leaves my confidence lacking.”
Let’s see – up a break early in the first, 8 breakpoints and 0 converted in the second, and match point in the third set. Apart from the first set horror story, respectable quality tennis through most of the second and third sets.
And yet, we’re left with a Federer loss as Birdy def Ferdy 64 67 76. Just wait til I’m done with you, Federbear!
The million dollar question still remains – why hasn’t Roger Federer done well in Indian Wells and Miami for the last 4 years?
Sure, we can excuse him for his recovery from mono in 08, back injury in 09 and I suppose playing 3 matches in 2 and a half months didn’t do him any good. But excuses aside, what it is about Indian Wells and Miami that just seem to bring out the worst in Fed?
Just throwing this out there for y’all to chew on:
The difference between tournaments like Indian Wells or Miami and the likes of Cincinnati, Madrid or Hamburg is that the IW/Miami double are an end unto themselves. In the grand scheme of things, they’re the anticlimatic climax. Winners pocket fat cheques and become hot topics for a week or two, before the abrupt start of the clay season kills the buzz.
Do they lead to legacy? To glory? To something worth talking about in 10 or 20 years?
By contrast, tournaments like Cincinnati and Madrid are means to an end – grand slam glory. Like all Masters Series tournaments, they are statement victories, but they also provide the momentum going into a slam, they boost a player’s odds as well as confidence. They are the final pit stop before the climax.
By the same logic, the flip side of a warm-up tournament is that underperformance raises self-doubt and questions in the media as to who is the real favourite at a subsequent slam.
Carrots and sticks, it’s what drives donkeys … and apparently Monkeys.
For Fed, who climaxes his year around the 4 slams, Indian Wells and Miami provide neither the carrot nor the stick for him to compete with gusto. Or even to attend a warm up tournament in Dubai. If he wins, the momentum doesn’t roll over into the clay season. And when he’s lost early, the results equally haven’t bled onto the red dirt of Europe.
But can I say this for good luck? “Thank God the hard court season is over.”