It seems like a case of life mimicking fiction, that Andy Roddick would have the last laugh – leaving the sport of tennis having won the last encounter in his non-rivalry with McFudderer; and McFudderer in return would manage to steal the headlines from Roddick on the last day of his career by crashing out of the US Open “early”.
And as tempting as it is for me to start with Federer’s utter no-show against Berd, I’m going to start with Roddick, because there is a fundamental difference between McFudd and Roddick’s exits from the Open yesterday: McFudd will be back with his cowbells ringing (moooooooo…), but Roddick has truly said his last goodbye to the sport at a competitive level, and as one rather whimsical Spaniard would tweet: even our guitars were crying.
Before London 2012, and perhaps Beijing 2008, tennis at the Olympics was a blip on the radar. Although taking part as an original sport from 1896 to 1924, it didn’t make it’s modern comeback till Seoul in 1988. But compared to the slams, or even the masters, no one gave a flying rats ass what happened in the Olympics, until now (although seemingly Philipp Kohlschreiber still didn’t manage to get the memo)
It’s a shame that she stumbled over Virginie Razzano in Paris, because we missed that process in every grand slam tournaments where Serena Williams gradually plays herself into form and self-confidence. She might’ve been messy, disengaged, and left fumbling for her game in the early rounds, but as many champions do, Serena has this ability to rise to the occasion as the tournament enters the quarterfinal and semifinal stage.
Coming into the match, Kvitova was the logical favourite. Despite her mediocre performance in 2012 so far, Petra has sailed through the Wimbledon draw looking fit, focussed and sharp. Serena, on the other hand, was coming off her worst ever grand slam result at Roland Garros, struggled in the early rounds against Zheng Jie and Shvedova. Read More…
There was this match at the French Open. You might have heard about it.
Roger Federer, frustrated to the fullest possible extent, was trying to find his game, trying to pry open an opportunity, trying to gain an escape hatch against a man he immensely respected. Down two sets to love in the high-stakes poker game known as a major-tournament tennis match, Federer once again found himself in the position that tests a professional like none other. Trailing by a substantial margin and unsettled to no end, Federer encountered his worst critic – himself – and had to deal with the human voices that are always the most unsparing: the ones that lie within. Read More…
Ah, gay Paree and clay Paree. I’m not a huge fan of clay-court tennis, or Roland Garros in general – my best moments of the Slam stands alone at Ferrero winning and Federer winning. Adding on the magnificent time difference from Land of Oz plus hectic times at work…let’s just say I haven’t feel so disconnected from a Slam in a very long time.
But still, it is a Slam, and it still invokes feelings of excitement and anticipation in me, even if, so far, I haven’t had the opportunity to properly watch a full match that features another player not named FederBrainfart, or read up on full tennis analysis and news etc etc etc. And things have been happening. Man, have they been happening.
Perhaps the biggest news thus far is Serena Williams losing to Virginie Razzano in the first round. It may be worth noting that Serena has never ever lost in the first round of a Slam – until now. It was a match full of drama and momentum swings and stuff that’s Hollywood-worthy, or so I heard. Serena was up 5-1 in the tiebreaker in the second set, lost the set. She was trailing 0-5 in the third, and clawed back nail and tooth and guts and spleen to come back to 3-5. Razzano needed 9 match-points before finally managing to win the last set 6-3.
At some point in our lives as tennis fans, all of us have taken a look at Roger Federer, with his bouncy curls, swooshy polos and trophy-studded life, pulling off an impossible shot while skipping through fields of tulips, and wondered out loud to ourselves:
How did ‘e do zaaaaat?
These questions have come far more often in 2012 than in previous years. It has been pleasantly surprising to discover that even as time takes away some aspects of our former talents, we can still get better. This year, Roger Federer has reacquired that leech-like ability to simply cling onto his opponents for survival, no matter how hard they try to pull him off. Read More…
LJ’s last words on her Dubai wrap: “…I don’t really care how Fed does really…Rotterdam/Dubai have been so much fun, I’d think we’d be a bit spoilt if big things happen in the 1st US swing, but hey…tennis is weird that way.”
I like to say that I echoed her sentiments except that a (not at all) secret part of me that wants Federer to win every single tournament under the sun…and guess what?
The Old Man decided to spoil us, by winning the freaking tournament. And yes, tennis is weird and wonderful that way.
To say he didn’t begin the tournament well is an understatement. The tournament had been dubbed Indian Unwells for a virus that managed to drift around and attack everyone in attendance (official name: Coachella Valley-wide virus. Unofficial name: IW virus). 6 players, including Monfils, withdrew even before the tournament began. And throughout the week, players continued to be waylaid – Schiavone, Seppi, Kohlscrubber…to name a few.
Well, well, well. Who said old men can’t boogie? Because Roger Federer, aged 30 years, 6 months and 11 days, just ran, slid, skipped, hopped, danced and boogied his way into his 71st career title. Not to mention a 12th straight year with at least one title to his name.
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)
The Fence is flooded with blog posts today! Be sure to check out Matt’s posts just below this one, where he wrote a USO week 2 preview and looking back at Wogie’s rather defining (also known as heart-attack inducing and hair-tearing) Slam matches over his career.
I’m just going to do a quick point-form recap of the day’s happenings, just to keep the wrap posts together.
1) As expected, Dave was able to give Rafa some trouble early in the match – securing a break with some dazzling play involving the rather effective Nalbandian backhand. But Rafa always do as Rafa always does, as he broke Dave while he was serving for the first set, and from then on, it was Rafa all the way, rolling through for a straight sets victory.