Where do we start the story of Stanislas the Manislas? He who was made extra manly on this Sunday in history. PJ below has but already expounded on his manliness so I guess let’s start at the beginning of the day.
My inner circle of federites arrived early hoping to catch our man practicing but alas as he was playing the 1st match he was done by the time the gates opened. Instead I amused myself by reminiscing about my childhood tennis watching days seeing these guys out on court.
Lleyton was practicing and he looked sharp and ready to go. He looked like he was going to “Cut a bitch” today. I was scared for Stan, but then I didn’t even know if Stan was playing, I spent the majority of the day thinking I was going to cheer on poor Marco who was going to be destroyed.
Rog started off blisteringly against Tomic, taking fast aggressive grass court tennis to the teenager. Shutting down his slices with venom, and like always showing who’s freaking BOSS.
But then Mirkaland happened along wind, leaves/twigs and stuff littering the court and tarpaulins blowing off makeshift broadcast towers in the 3rd…causing complete distraction. Tomic then took it with his own brand of aggressive tennis, and I was impressed with his effortless power. If the kid can dial his game and tactics on the hard courts, he’s going to be top 20 for sure.
But then by the 4th, it ended just as fast as it started. Rog was pushed but he was never really in danger.
So…tied at 2-2…we heard that Stan would be playing the final deciding rubber. I had all but given up hope for a Suisse win. Gimpy Useless Stan against Lleyton “I will cut your heart out with a spoon and eat it in Davis Cup ties” Hewitt on a dinky grass court in Sydney? All signs pointed to a steamroll by Hewitt.
So I took my leave of the court in the break between matches and chilled by the railing outside waiting for Roger to come by. Dude took his freaking time, the 1st set was over before I went back in again and all because I wanted to take photos like below for all you perverts out there.
So I get back into the main court. On serve 2nd set. Then Stan pulls a break near the end to take the set. Okay we thought, he has a set, he can lose without embarrassment. And then the 3rd set happened. Breaks were traded like the WTA and at 5-4, Stan had BP 30-40 to take the set. Rusty drops it short at the net, Stan comes in for an easy backhand pass up the line…and he MISSES IT by inches….OUUUUUUUUUT.
I threw my hands up and went “STAN YOU NOB!!!!!!!” I thought that was it. Rusty comes back, drives off another few BPs in that game and holds later to take it to the tiebreak. Up a few early minibreaks, Stan brainfarts 1304987102397109273 set points and loses the 3rd in over 70min. We all thought, this is it…Hewitt will roll through the 4th.
I should also mention that at this stage it started getting ridiculously cold in the stands, the sun was going down, PJ had a flight to catch, we ALL wanted the match to be over and done with so we can go home to hot chocolate or something.
But then something happens in the 4th. Rusty double faults a few times, clearly not having enough leg strength to push off on the serve and suddenly…Stan wins the 4th…the stands are going FUCKING NUTS!!!!…WE WERE GOING FIIIIIIIIIIVE…my Swiss flag was out and I waved it obnoxiously around all the Aussie supporters around me.
Suddenly we all started caring…like WHUT??? but 2 hours ago, we were all happy for Stan to just lose and get it over and done with…what the hell happened? It was getting tense…and dark. So cold and dark that I stopped taking pictures. We all feared the worst, BAD LIGHT, will it get called off before it finished?
At 2-2 Stan somehow broke again, I don’t remember much of it other than utter disbelief that he broke, and then cheering like a madwoman. At 4-3 Pat Rafter had a long argy bargy with the UMP, I thought it was going to be called then but no…2 more games the UMP said. Stan Holds…5-3 and it finally gets called. Mutters of discontent ring around me. Personally I was glad they freaking called it, I couldn’t survive a “real life version of Wimby 08” and I don’t think Roger would have appreciated it either.
So we all got on the buses and went home, with none to return the next day. It would be up to fate we gathered. But in our conversations afterwards we were all incredulous at Stan’s effort, pretty much summed up in this gem of a quote by Princess Rog. That night we would all do anything for Stan.
After such a performance the Day before, there was no way that I would be happy unless Stan won the match. It only took 1 game on the morning of the 4th day to decide it. Against a seriously injured Hewitt, all Stan had to do was keep the ball in play and thus as anti-climactic as it was…the tie was won. Le Suisse was back in the world group and Australia again has to spend another year in the wilderness of group I.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to talk about Hewitt. What an absolutely tenacious human being. You know, I used to hate him with vigour, everything he embodied irked me. But in his old age (for a tennis player) he’s really hard not to root for. And he left himself out there on that court, he fought, he struggled and he almost took it. He put in possibly the most effort of all the players in this tie and it must be gutting to not have pulled out the win.
Davis Cup is a maker of men and fraught with more drama than Dynasty. It’s where tennistical battles are fought, leaving courts bloodied in the wet salty tears of a country’s favourite sons. One only has to watch the utter agony of Djokovic retiring to Del Potro to understand that there is something intrinsically more to Davis Cup than just tennis.
So it is that which makes Stan…THE MAN…of this tie. He went in a gimpy boy, sulking at his own misfortunes and came out a man whom made his own destiny in the twilight of a Sydney spring. We can no longer question his commitment and tenacity in Davis Cup. After this gutsy performance Wawrinka has proved himself and we are all better for it.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this collection of mishmash wraps and photos from the Davis Cup tie. I myself felt nothing but complete privilege to witness 3 days of amazing tennis and drama…and of course…Roger Federer on grass. Certainly a dream come true and nothing less. It was a completely epic and captivating tie and will leave me an experience to cherish forever.
We hope to bring you some FPF before Shanghai kicks off with more tennis next month.
~photos by moi – Day 3 all here
This entire Davis Tie has been a genius chess move by Pat Rafter (or whomever else orchestrated it) and here’s why:
1. They picked the best surface possible. They picked an ordinary grass court. Marginally better than your local club. It was adequate but it’s not up to tournament level (Halle/Queens). Now grass is the hardest surface to shift to. Your lower body, especially the quads and hammys take a lot of strain, reaching the low balls and making sure you stay upright on dinky grass. For Roger coming from a deep showing at the US Open meant extra strain and soreness. For Stan with a leg/foot injury, it wasn’t ideal either.
I don’t know if international peeps understand but the court is literally built on the centre court of a row of grass courts at a prestigious golf club here in Sydney. They then build stands to seat 3700 people on the 2 sides. It like attending a big community tennis tournament.
2. They picked the best team possible: Hewitt, wimby champ, Tomic wimby quarter finalist, Guccione big server, tall huge wingspan, great at the net. And yes Rog has 6 Wimbys but Stan has never made it past the 4th round. Grass is arguably his worst surface by FAR,
3. They picked the best tactics. Putting Tomic up against Wawrinka, knowing that he had a better chance winning than against Fed. Teaming Guccione with Hewitt for the doubles, which meant resting Tomic for the reverse singles.
4. They were the best prepared,
“Gooch’ and I were up for it – we’ve been preparing for this for the last couple of weeks.” – Hewitt
In all honesty today’s rubber was brought to you by Chris Guccione, Tennis Journeyman, who was damn clutch today. After an easy giveaway break in the first game, Guccione was impenetrable and even though the Swissies lost, they really couldn’t really have done much against Guccione’s serve even if playing their best. But it’s sad to hear that the achilles injury he suffered sometime during the 3rd set may cost him his career. That’s tennis I gather, heartache and happiness in one sport.
As for the Swissies, Fed left his heart on the court, he didn’t play well but he was trying. Stan, not so much. After much discussion with fellow Federites today we’ve concluded that Stan is perhaps just a bad Davis Cup Player. There’s a sort of mentality a player needs to succeed in Davis Cup, some have it without as much singles success (Nalbandian, Hewitt) and some just can’t seem to rise to the challenge like Wawrinka.
Yes he was injured, but the entire tie you could feel this air of “Get me the fuck outta here” from Stan. Yes his leg was hurting and he hated the grass, hated the court, but could he have dug deeper? is the question.
anyhow, after a tough 4th break tiebreak, Australia came through 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5).
Final day reverse singles looks grim for a clearly gimped and hobbling Swiss team. Tomic having been well rested on the 2nd day looks good to cause an upset against old man Rog. And Wawrinka is waiting on order from the docs to see if he plays the final tie. Switzerland may need a miracle to get through but I’ll be there along with the others cheering them on.
Even if it is Marco Chiudinelli in the end…
Rest of Today’s Photos by Moi, Here
So finally returning to Sydney after 9 years, Wogie Mcfed and his fellow Swissies take on the bright lights of Aussie tennis. The ground is the hallowed grass at Royal Sydney Golf Club. A Club so exclusive that for mere plebeians it probably takes 20+ years just to get on the waiting list.
Luckily due to the current ironic plebeian nature of tennis spectatorship, a bunch of us got to mush the golden paddock beneath our feet and it was glorious.
First up, young Tomic took on a slightly hobbling Ewok. Grass being Ewok’s least favoured surface it was clear that he pretty much just wanted to get out of there. After taking the 1st set, My Friend Stanley promptly rolled over to Tomic’s junk balls and excellent poise in 4 sets, 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-3.
Tomic showed maturity and patience, outlasting Stan the man in most rallies and waiting for his opponent to implode on the rest. Stan looked far from best and he realised that his man, Rog, needed to save the day.
Before Rog took the court, myself and my merry band of Federites tried a bit of stalkage at the walkway to the court. Alas, he kept alluding me, the others may have got better pics, but for me he hid behind bushes and his physio before he miraculously appeared red and ready on court.
Rog started fast against Hewitt who was having an AWESOME serving day. But once Hewitt adjusted his returns, Rog turned to his furdish ways an couldn’t find a 1st serve and subsequently lost the 1st set 5-7. My entire row of Federites went white as sheets and by the time he went down a break early in the 2nd we were all swearing precociously at him.
But thankfully, he finally figured out that he was here to play tennis and not just look pretty against the green backdrop. Hewitt fought valiantly but there was a clear night and day between the pace of his strokes and that of his Swiss nemesis. It all ended happily for us 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-3 with some insanely high quality stuff in the 3rd and 4th sets. Revenge taken for that epic 5 set loss back in 2003, which in actuality, let’s not forget, started the Reign of Fed the Great.
So first day over 1-1, doubles tomorrow, hopefully more Wogie and *finger* crossed Swissies come out with the win.
Now I’ve see Roger Federer play on grass, I can finally attest to him being an absolute religious experience. For at least 2.5 sets today, anyway 😉
~photos by moi, the rest are here