I’ll spare Kim fans the cringe worthy wordplay. When your name is just one syllable, the temptation is too much, TOO MUCH I TELL YA.
It was just over 3 years ago when Kim Clijsters began her confident, self-assured procession to a US Open title, culminating in a 75 63 win over Caroline Wozniacki for the second slam of her career, in the second stage of her career.
A lot happens in 3 years – rankings change, careers bloom and wilt, injuries and desires get in the way. Day 2 and 3 of the US Open saw the exit of both Wozniacki (now title-less for over a year and struggling to stay in the top 10) and Mama Kim, who punctuated a full stop on her grand slam career with a characteristic smile and a wave.
We like to talk about the changing of the guard whenever an older player loses to a young’un, and perhaps it is. In her 67 67 loss to Laura Robson today, Clijsters was the one who looked increasingly more tentative, lingering well behind the baseline, unwilling to move out of her comfort zone. Robson on the other hand put her much underrated lefty serve to good use, and played a brand of brave, attacking tennis that might in fact benefit Murray one day in his neverending attempt to score high on the Murrayometer.
And so the tide advances. Exit Clijsters, enter Robson on the stage where the former shone the most. Or so we hope. It’s a neater, more poetic narrative for Clijsters to finish her career to a ‘Federer‘ and not a ‘Becker‘.
Yet none of it was surprising in the end. Clijsters had been plagued by injuries and planning her retirement for some time now. There was ultimately always something half-hearted and ‘gravy-on-top’ about Clijsters’ second career. Although she won more grand slams than in her first, and had gone through a more intense period of domination in her short 3 year return than she ever did in the first career, Clijsters’ second career always served to enhance the legacy of the first. As if to say: ‘look, I’ve always had it in me.‘
And so she did. That easy power, the movement and flexibility. The sense of calm and ease she brings to a sport that often inspires the very antithesis of calm and ease. During the first part of Clijsters’ career, I was in the camp that thought Clijsters had all the talent in the world, but minus the killer instinct to truly realise her talent. In her second career, Mama Kim proved me wrong and showed that maturity and self-assurance can equally be a vessel for success. Not all champions are created twisted and scarred.
So without making this sound any more like an obituary than it does: bye bye Kim. Mother, champion, and an all round nice gal.
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)
Dear Tennis Gods,
Last I checked, we’re SEVEN FRIGGIN days into 2012 so WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING!?!??!
Well, well, well. What an absolutely craptastic start to 2012. A week in and the tour is already littered with injuries and retirements. Among them, the big names and the big people.
With the last minute withdrawal of Venus, Wozniacki’s draw is still packed with land mines, with Wicky, Ana, Cibulkova, Stosur early on. Roland Garros champion, the newly crowned Miss Popular with the sponsors, Li Na is the second highest seed in this quarter and set to play only her 5th match since Roland Garros.
As for how she’ll do this US Open series, your guess is as good as mine. Personally, I think Li might be tempted to go on a mental offseason early this year.
The draw gods so like to have their little giggles that they’ve put ARad – Vera’s latest conqueror, in the same section of the draw as her. After her winning her first premier title in San Diego earlier today, Aga told the press that she had high hopes for the US Open. By “high hopes”, she ‘only’ meant semifinals.
“I was pretty close [to reaching a Grand Slam semifinal] a few times, but I was always against top players and it was always close,” she told reporters. “But I think I can do it, and if I play like that, for sure.”
While no one denies that she has the guile to slay a top seed now and then, whether she’ll ever get past her quarterfinal voodoo is another matter, especially when more power ball machines such as Azarenka has had enough trouble shaking off their quarterfinalist fate at slam level.
Other than ARad, power rules in Vera’s quarter, with Jarka/Petrova, Petkovic and Kvitova lurking pleasantly around the corner like a couple of blast-ended skrewts. Oh joy.
BYO earplugs and heavy metal music, for this is the screechers’ quarter. Vika is due to face my compatriot Dokic first up, followed by Flavs/Kiri, Dani and yes – the original Screecher herself, Maria Sharapova.
Meanwhile, keep an eye out on Marion Bartoli, who’s on ambitious hamster rampage to become the WTA player with the most wins this season.
Jankovic and Serena, Clijsters. Crammed into one tiny 16th of fulsome awesomesauce, or bitter disappointment. The road doesn’t get easier on Franny’s end of the quarter, with the winner of Maka and home favourite Marino first up, and Sveta (oh remember her?) or Safarova in the 16th.
First of all – because I’m a petty and ridiculous human being – I’d just like to say how much the above picture makes me feel awesome about myself and my unfailing ability to ERASE INCRIMINATING PHOTOS OF MYSELF FROM EXISTENCE.
But back to the tennis and Satan has scored himself a Satanic draw from HELL with Davydenko first up, followed by Cilic/Del Potro, and the winner of Trotsky/Isner/Monfils.
Watch my face: *ECSTATIC JOY*
Birthday Boy’s quarter
McFed may not have landed himself with a McDraw, with a Tsonga rematch hovering in the distance like a dementor upon all our souls, but it’s the kind of draw that could send sparks flying.
More intriguing than Jo-Willy would be an inter tennis-generational clash between Tomic and Federer, which – incidentally – would build some hype over the Australia-Switzerland Davis Cup tie in Sydney in September. Gasquet or Almagro bookend the quarter. It’s not a breezy sashay in the park, but it’s doable and challenging, which is a problem only of the first world kind.
(That said, Woger – if you lose to Tsonga again, I will personally pole vault my way to Montreal and chase you down with a wok in hand. No pressure.)
Farty and Toothface sandwich this quarter of sheer whack, with match ups between Wawrinka v Nalbandian, Lopez v Stepanek, Llodra and Youzhny. Ooooof. I feel like a connoisseur just typing those names out.
Possibly interesting first round against Dodig, while Baldasco and Tipsy battle it out for the title of the ATP’s Favourite Minion.
On the other side of the quarter, Berdych (how is this guy still in the top 10?) takes on Dolgopolurve early, and hopefully, with a bit of cray-cray from Dolgo, we might say bye-bye to Berdy extra early in Montreal.
Oh yeah, apparently, Tommy Haas is still playing tennis. Who knew?
Play kicks off in a few ungodly Australian hours. Until then, bonne nuit!
Theoretically, Pablo Andujar should be munching on bagels and breadsticks in the Bakery of Rafael Nadal. But nope. Rafa’s round 2 match, although a lot less dramatic than his round 1 match, was anything BUT straightforward.
It’s kinda puzzling to see Rafa Nadal failing to consolidate a break – on clay, in Paris – but it’s downright Twilight Zone to see him failing to consolidate a break THRICE. But to see him down 5-1, 40-0 in the third set was complete Twilight Zone in Alternate Reality as the tennis world again erupts into a flurry of disbelief: Rafa Nadal, what the FUCK are you doing?
Let’s give Pablo Andujar some credit. He played well, very well in fact, to hang with Rafa and keep him constantly challenged in the first two sets. The fact that he was up 5-1, 40-0 in the third set was not completely of Rafa’s own undoing – and even if Rafa was about three zillion kinds of crap in the third set, there was no denying Andujar’s spectacular shots at opportune times helped him with the commanding score-line in his favour.
Most tennis players would have lost the set when facing three set points, double-break down. Not Rafa Nadal. But of course, on the flip side – one can argue that most tennis players would have WON the set with three set points and insurance breaks in his pocket. Most tennis players would have taken at least ONE of the EIGHT set points offered. Unfortunately, not Pablo Andujar.
Andujar choked – there was no other way to put it – when he had three set points, his forehand was landing everywhere BUT inside the court. And I woulda think with that break, Rafa would go on to hold easily and force Andujar to try and serve for the set again. Nope, think again. The games that followed were utterly weird as both Rafa and Andujar seemed to try their hardest NOT to win the set, which sort of went like this:
Rafa: *hits a double fault* Hey, Pabby, I know I just broke you, but here are four – count them, FOUR – set points! I am so nice, no?
Andujar: Awww Rafa, that is SO VERY nice, but I couldn’t possibly! *hits a crap forehand*
Rafa: Okay. Then I break you again, no?
Andujar: Oh, if you must.
Rafa: Many sorries, no? Here, have another set point!
Andujar: Hmmm…not shiny enough. You can have it instead.
Rafa: *shrugs* Okay.
Andujar: My legacy: Guy Who Wasted Eight Set Points Against Nadal! Yee hah!
It eventually went into tie-break, which was kind of yo-yo. They traded mini-breaks before a couple of bad errors by Andujar gave Rafa a 5-1 lead – but Andujar clawed back to 5-4 only to play the most horrendous drop-shot at the net to give Rafa match point.
Gee Rafa, whatever happened to “a little less drama, please”?
Honestly, it’s just unusual to see this Rafa – a Rafa that is less than 100% confident of his game, a Rafa who shank forehands, a Rafa who couldn’t land a first serve, and a Rafa who, at times, just look completely lost out there (against both Isner and Andujar). It’s disconcerting to see him struggling so early on in RG, as shades of Federer at Wimbledon last year flash through my mind. I don’t quite know what to think yet, but I do know I should never ever count out Rafa in Paris. Struggling or not, I somehow still think he’ll find a way to bulldoze his way into the final.
But time will tell.
The rest of the day played out as such:
1) Rafa avoided any significant drama, but not so for Jurgen Melzer. Following the footsteps of fellow semi-finalist Big Berd, Melzer found himself unceremoniously dumped from the tournament by unheralded Berd compatriot Lukas Losol. Melzer was serving for the match in the 4th set, and curiously just lost it. He began smashing racquets in the 5th, but couldn’t hang on for the win, and POOF! Murray’s quarter is as pretty as Djokovic’s right now.
2) Speaking of MAndy – he was as exciting as a wet smelly sock in his own match against Simone Bolelli. But y’know, it’s Simone Bolelli. Served for TWO sets, led by breaks a few times, but ultimately succumbed to Mandy’s teeth and his inability to take a set. So Mandy is through in straights despite smelly-sock play, while Bolelli and Andujar should get together to get drunk and soak their heads.
3) Bobby Sod was in no mood to lose anymore sets this round, outplaying Albert Ramos in straight sets, THANK YOU, SOD.
4) My sentimental favourite Nikolay Davydenko’s Playstation batteries went flat against Croatian qualifier Antonio Veic, losing in 5 sets. I have been hoping for Kolya to upgrade his Playstation but that just doesn’t seem to be happening. Veic will play Rafa in the 3rd round, squashing my hopes of a Kolya/Rafa meeting.
5) Hairbandwagon, meanwhile, is still rolling after Dolgopolov’s neat dispatch of Andreas Haider-Maurer in straight sets. Dolgo most unusually hit more winners than unforced errors, including a ridonk drop-shot off Haider-Maurer’s second serve that WORKED. This is what happens when his crazy works for him. Anyway, he’ll need ALL his winners in his bag of tricks to overcome Satan Bert Minion Viktor Troicki, who was clinical in dispatching Tobias Kamke.
6) The other half of the Ponytails, X-Man Malisse, however, fell against Fernando Verdasco in four sets – in what must be a relieving win for the dude.
7) Mardy Fish is the last American man standing after Samurai Sam bite the dust against Papa Ljubs; Marcos Bagman (l. Leonardo Mayer), Kevin Anderson (l. Juan Ignacio Chela) and Florian Mayer (l. “I Took Federer to Five on Grass” Falla) are among the seeds to crumble on Day 5.
There was no lack of drama on the ladies’ side either. First off, Mama Kim shockingly lost to little known Dutchwoman Arantxa Rux – after serving for the match and holding match-point in the second set. She noticeably had ankle issues but denied that her loss was due to that. She put it down to lack of matches and lack of confidence when she lost the match points. Props to Rux for holding her head together to pull off the upset – a rare feat among the ladies, that’s for sure.
Shrieky Sharapova came within a whisker of joining Kim on the next flight out, losing first set and was down a break to French wildcard, 17-year-old Caroline Garcia. Garcia was imperious in the first set, leaving Shrieky looking almost befuddled as she ran way with the set 6-4. Even MAndy tweeted with an unusual touch of mild enthusiasm:
The girl sharapova is playing is going to be number one in the world one day caroline garcia, what a player u heard it here first.
But as Garcia’s serve began to crumble as the occasion loomed upon her. She hit double-faults to hand Shrieky a break when she was up 4-1, allowing Shrieky to regain her momentum and ran off with the next 11 games, dishing out a bagel in the third.
Even so, girl’s got game, development and loads of time on her side. I hate to agree with Toothface – but she may be a great force to be reckoned with.
Other than that, it was fairly uneventful for the women:
1) Li Na came up against some resistance from Silvia Soler-Espinosa, but still managed to prevail in straight sets, but the other girl on Lenglen, Victoria Azarenka, pummelled Pauline Parmentier into oblivion, only allowing her one game.
2) Jarka Gajdosova survives in straight sets to advance – Aussie men’s tennis may be looking shabby but the girls are still flyin’ the Aussie flag!
3) In the match of Ana Ivanovic’s first-round Slam conquerors, Ekaterina Makarova defeated Johanna Larsson in straight sets.
4) All the seeds survived except Alexandra Dulgheru, who lost to countrywoman Sorana Cirstea.
That’s the wrap for Day 5. Am seriously honestly hoping for a DRAMA-FREE Day 6 – especially where Roger is concerned. Ferd, please stay locked in the toilet and do not come out…forever.
Stay glued to your screens to cheer for the Swiss Pants, y’all!
P.S. photos from daylife.com
Day 13. Semi-finals day for the men.
Play starts 2PM local (Parisian time)
Court Philippe Chatrier:
Rafael Nadal (ESP)  vs Andy Murray (GBR) 
Roger Federer (SUI)  vs Novak Djokovic (SRB) 
P.S. Did a rambly sort of semis thoughts here. Something just a little more substantial.
1. Say what you want about these collarless crews Nike has dished up for Fed since Miami – sure, they’re drab, unimpressive and generally forgettable. But they do have one advantage over Federer’s usual array of shirts: they highlight his wide, suit-wearing SHOULDER BLADES OF GLORY rather nicely. (And the V-neck highlights his moobs, but that’s a whole other conversation we can have privately, ya know?)
It was a fairly routine win over Kohlismyrubber, as Wogie sashayed his way past his practice partner in 50 minutes with minimal effort. Say WHUT? A clay court match that doesn’t slug on into temporal infinity like a tennistical rendition of Wagner’s Ring Cycle? Surely, Federer must be doing it ALL WRONG.
As Roger quite accurately assessed himself, we’ve seen Kohlschreiber play better, but with stats like 21 winners to 9 unforced errors, there’s nothing for me to complain about aside from the lack of a bonus shirt change. Oh well, can’t have your Federcakes and eat him too.
Federer plays Marin Cilic next (H2H 1-0) after Cilic’s opponent Riba retired.
Elsewhere, there’s nothing like the feel of terre battue underneath a downtrodden Spaniard’s feet. Daveed Ferrer spared no friendly shots for Feli, taking out the Hardened Abs of the ATP 62 60. Also a good day for la République as Gasquet channelled some red dirty mojo to defeat Garcia Lopez 62 61 and Monfools passed FabFog 75 62.
2. In other news you can’t use, I recommend sunglasses and SPF 30+ before you lay your eyes on PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE of Serena Williams, back on a tennis court after her foot injury, surgery … blood clot, pulmonary embolism, hematoma … bird flu, anthrax, Sars, a common cough and cold … oh WAIT
Seriously though, welcome back to a tennis court Serena. You’ve been missed. And I can’t think of a more appropriate way to remind us all of your larger than life presence/absence in tennis than by wearing a giant. pink. condom.
Hang on, did I say “seriously“?
Why would you believe me?
3. Kim Clijsters in doubt for the French Open. All hail the health of the women’s tour. In all senses of the word “health”. At least the Danes are excited.
That’s all, bitchezzz.
For the second year in a row, Federbear and I watched Wogie’s first match at Indian Wells with a degree of trepidation. Igor Andreev, also known as the Right-Handed-Nadal-But-Shit (…I mean, dude’s even friends with Ferrer. What more need I say?) seems to be one of those players who finds an extra ounce of suicidal instinct in himself whenever he plays Fed. The combination of pace and spin from his forehand, his inclination to spank the snot out of every ball, coupled with the all-or-nothing mentality he brings to a match against Federer makes him a particularly dangerous player in the early rounds of tournaments.
But of course, in 4 matches he has yet to squeak a victory past Wogie McFuckerer, regardless of how close the match got. If you want to know why, just watch the second set tiebreak from his match against Federer today.
Furd’s backhand might’ve skipped off during the second set, muttering that he is no Robocop. Wogie’s first serve percentage might’ve dropped from around 70% in the first set to under 50% in the second. Break points might’ve been neglected like some poor unwanted child. Momentum might’ve shifted from the time Federer went up 2-0 to when he was down 6-5 … but at the end of the day, once again, Andreev became first person to crack. One miss by Igor at 4-4 in the 2nd set tiebreak was all that Federer needed to break out of his Vortex of Funk.Two serves later, Lemon Drop Wogie emphatically closed out his first ever straight sets victory over the Russian.
Sting like a bee, float like the omnipresent holy GOAT…
On a side note, I liked this answer from Lemon’s pressure.
Q. If you could take anybody’s shots, whose shots would you take? You’re famous for your phenomenal forehand. What shot would you take from the other players?
ROGER FEDERER: Um, well, I guess always a good serve is a good start, you know. Then you pick the obvious suspect, you know. The ones who are hitting aces and unreturnable serves and can clutch serve all day.
One of those guys, you know, one of the big guys, like John or Karlovic or Roddick and so forth. You know, guys who have proved themselves over a long period of time, of course. And also have variety.
And then, you know, backhands and forehands all come from the top players, really. If you look at the top 10, you know, I guess there’s always someone who does a few things better than others.
Um, but then at the end of the day, you know, you’re happy with what you’ve got, and that’s what you’ve got to work with.
Then again, I don’t know how much, how effective it would be, I don’t know, Murray’s backhand with my game, you know. My game needs my onehanded backhand, I feel, and I don’t know how his game would work out with my forehand.
So we all get used to with what you have, and, you know, your strengths and weaknesses. That’s how you go along.
At the end of the day, you’ve gotta work with what you’ve got. Your strengths, your weaknesses … At the end of the day, you’re happy with what you’ve got.
Advice we could all use.
A quick note on women’s side of the draw, Vera Zvonareva was her usual neurotic self, losing 64 67 46 to a tenacious Domi Cibulkova. But the most “upsetting” match of the day featured Mama Kims, who put on her stink-face and stank her way through an absolute stinkfest of a match, committed a total of 50 unforced errors (13 double faults) on her way to a 63 26 64 win against Sara Errani. My condolences to anyone who sat through the entire match. That was 2 hours of your life you will NEVER GET BACK.
The Frazzle Post for Monday (Aussie Tuesday) is up. Enjoy le tennis while I catch up on some well needed Zzzz, bitchezzz.
We have a blockbuster Saturday coming up in Woop Woop. Wafa faces off first match against a resurgent del Potro. Normally, I would not worry, but given Rafa’s performance in his last two matches, del Potro seems to be in with a chance to win.
In a dystopian world, my anticipation of a Fedal final would be completely derailed by both delPo and Satan.
BUT IT IS OKAY.
Unlike every other tournament, this time in Woop Woop, we get a second chance to reach Dootsie’s ovarian happiness. FEDRINKA plays Dolgopolove and Xman in some kinduva alternative dream doubles final.
Either way, the firelog routine – IT HAS TO HAPPEN. I WILL DIE OF A THOUSAND SQUISHY PENGUINS IF IT HAPPENS.
OOP – STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
 R Nadal (ESP) vs J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  R Federer (SUI) – ATP
Not Before 3:00 PM
 B Mattek-Sands (USA) / M Shaughnessy (USA) vs S Mirza (IND) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA – DOUBLES FINAL
Not Before 4:00 PM
A Dolgopolov (UKR) / X Malisse (BEL) vs R Federer (SUI) / S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP – DOUBLES FINAL
It had been raining for days and days, and a terrible flood had come over the land. The waters rose so high that one man was forced to climb onto the roof of his house. As the waters rose higher and higher, a man in a rowboat appeared, and told him to get in.
“No,” replied the man on the roof. “I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me.” So the man in the rowboat went away. The man on the roof prayed for God to save him.
The waters rose higher and higher, and suddenly a speedboat appeared. “Climb in!” shouted a man in the boat.
“No,” replied the man on the roof. “I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me.” So the man in the speedboat went away. The man on the roof prayed for God to save him.
The waters continued to rise. A helicopter appeared and over the loudspeaker, the pilot announced he would lower a rope to the man on the roof.
“No,” replied the man on the roof. “I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me.” So the helicopter went away. The man on the roof prayed for God to save him.
The waters rose higher and higher, and eventually the man on the roof was washed away and drowned.
Upon arriving in heaven, the man marched straight over to God. “Heavenly Father,” he said, “I had faith in you, I prayed to you to save me, and yet you did nothing. Why?”
God gave him a puzzled look, and replied “I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”
- The highest seed and the defending semifinalist in Murray’s quarter – Sod and Tsonga – were both taken out in 5 sets by a guy who had never beaten a top 10 player before then.
- The highest seed in Murray’s half lost to a man who was not and had never been a slam contender.
- The highest seed in the other half, the man who stopped Andy Murray from winning a slam final on two previous occasions, lost to Novak Djokovic.
- The Australian Open final was played on the only 40C+ of this summer – a summer typified by rare cool weather. Murray’s opponent was a guy who was well-known to develop ear cramps, bird flu, SARS and the common cold when forced to play in hot weather.
All this is my very long-winded way of saying: dude, the Tennis Gods sent two cupcakes and a hair-dryingly hot final against a guy who hates hair dryers and WHAT MORE DID YOU EXPECT?
You blew it. You blew it straight out of your nana’s best haggis and you’re lying through your Starbucks Trente-sized teeth if you keep insisting that this one didn’t hurt.
I know, I know. You don’t kick a player when he’s down. Especially the esteemed members of the British media are doing all the kicking themselves. But alas, this energy-draining, buzz-kill vibe Andy Murray brought to the final, it just makes me angry.
Instead of watching a player rise and shine on a big stage, we’re always left watching Murray exhale like a deflated balloon in a grand slam final. Djoko played well enough, but without discrediting his performance, it is worthwhile to note that for the majority of the first set, Djoko was shanking gratuitously on key points, a sign of just how nervous he was. Through the latter half of the second and third sets, he could barely hold serve. In other words, Djoko peaked in his semifinal against Federer, but in the end, he was good enough to win the final in straight sets because mentally, physically and strategically, Murray no-showed.
Onto the vaginal side of things.
Without descending to the level of some WTA defenders out there (playing out their own inferiority complex in their defense of women’s tennis, but more on this another day), the Australian Open 2011 truly belonged to the ladies.
Whereas I expected the men’s final, between two players closer in ranking, age and experience, to be competitive, I expected the ladies’ final to be a blow out. Afterall, Kim was well known to be on the serving end of those, and Li Na, despite winning their last match in Sydney, wasn’t the kind of player you can count on to mentally show up for a match.
But show up she did, and for a set and a half, Li managed to become one of the few women in tennis capable of overpowering and outhitting Kim Clijsters from the baseline.
But Kim came through in the end, to my bitter disappointment. She turned the match around with 1 part variety (giving Li different spins in the second set), 1 part defence (thou shalt make your opponent miss one more shot) and 8 parts mental strength and experience. Just watch the way she served out the last game to win her first non-US Open slam. Not a lot of women, or men, have as much courage and steadiness.
It sucks to back the losing side, but sometimes you just say “too good”. Wotcha gonna do?
Last but not least …
“Doesn’t matter whether you are fat or skinny, handsome or ugly, I will always follow you, I will always love you.” – Li Na
I try so hard to write well, to speak eloquently; I use big words, I read pretentious novels. Then an amazing moment comes once in a while when I feel utterly humbled by a person who speaks only a little English, who isn’t Shakespeare or Tolstoy or Franzen, who doesn’t use big words or fancy long sentences.
Once in a while, I realise just how superfluous language is in the face of the honest sentiment underneath.
Thanks, Li Na. You couldn’t have said it any better.
PS. Family vacation and a little down time for me. Shall be back, ready to rock before Dubai. Take care, my darlings.