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
You know you’re ready for a quarter-life crisis right NAAOOOO when you realise that Pat Rafter – the sex-symbol of your tweenage years, tennistical equivalent of Hugh Jackman and a legend in his very own lunchbox – is now being marketed as a “family man” while growing fast in a horizontal direction.
But sporting a double chin as accessory hasn’t stopped Pat from looking utterly scruffy adorable and talking like a Queenslander, as evidenced in a new series of hotel ads featuring the nominal former World No 1.
But yer know what? Double chin or not, Pat Rafter still rocks my best pair of wooly Bonds socks. Wogie? WHUT WOGIE?! Hmmph!
I don’t need to say much on this really: he did this for the 2005 Tsunami Relief effort. He took charge last year of Hit For Haiti; and this year? He saw the devastation in Queensland and rallied fellow players for support.
In a nutshell, Roger Federer wins at life.
‘Along with many of the other players I was moved by the devastation caused by the floods in Australia.
‘We just wanted to do something to help aid the recovery because we know there are thousands of Australians who will continue to suffer as a result of this disaster.’ – Federer
But make no mistake, this is hardly about Federer. The whole of the tennis community – the ATP, WTA, individual players and fans – have gotten behind Queensland, who is suffering its worst natural disaster in history.
‘This is a terrible tragedy, not only the loss of life but the destruction of people’s homes. I am pleased to be able to contribute in some way to help bring it to the attention of the world and raise some money for the victims in the process.’ – Nadal
‘As an Australian I cannot help but be touched by such an awful turn of events. It is a disaster on a massive scale.’
‘Australians are incredible at pulling together in times of crisis and this is certainly one of those times. If the tennis community can also help play a role in the recovery then we should, both in Australia and internationally. I just think at a time like this it is a case of getting all hands on deck.’ – Hewitt
Roddick has already donated around $10,000 to the Flood Relief. Likewise, Sam Stosur has been donating $100 to every ace she serves this summer.
‘A lot of us just want to make some sort of contribution. It breaks my heart to see what is happening to thousands of people in these floods.
‘I am rapt that the biggest names in our sport are so keen to focus on this despite the fact that the Australian Open starts the next day.’ – Stosur
In addition to 20-dollar tickets for the Sunday exhibition, the ATP and WTA will pledge 10 dollars for every ace served by players at the Brisbane International, Medibank International Sydney, Moorilla International in Hobart, with all proceeds going to flood relief.
As Australians, I know many of us have already donated to the Flood Relief, which has raised over $35million dollars. International readers are also welcomed to donate, or keep those affected by the floods in their thoughts and prayers.
And OF COURSE, I will be there with the already sold-out crowd to celebrate the power and generosity of tennis.
PS. I CANNOT WAIT to see Pat Rafter and Federer on the same court again. TOO MUCH. TOO MUCH. *shields eyes from the glare of excellence*
It says something about Australian tennis, that Pat Rafter is still cleaning up tennis-related sponsorships during the Australian tennis season.
As in … it says something other than the fact that Pat Rafter is completely, utterly, cautionarily hot potatoes.
Nope! We’re not having Federporn Friday this week – OH MY GAWD STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT PEOPLE IT’S ALL FEDDY’S FAULT.
I’m not looking at your pretty hair and moobies this week Roger! YOU MAKE DOOTSIE SAAAAAAD.
BUT that’s not to say we won’t be having any porn at all.
Please say g’day to this week’s Federporn Friday guest-star …
The competition may have stopped, but the news certainly haven’t.
Here I was thinking that I can just sit back with a stack of trashy romance novels and enjoy my summer, apparently, relaxation isn’t in my dictionary. And I much prefer lowbrow tennis writing to Mills & Boon. Who knew?
So let’s cut the crap shall we?
This came from the Wimbledon blog, thought I might give them a crack just for fun. What say you?
So here we go… Five Wimbledon Questions
Earliest Wimbledon memory? Oh dear, don’t actually remember … I have a series of vague impressions from 2001 onwards of Wimbledon finals, but can’t tell you much apart from those vague impressions. Ah – those moody teenage days…
The earliest match I could actually recall would be the 2004 Wimbledon women’s final between Serena and Maria.
Favourite match? These questions are deceivingly hard. In all three of my favourite Wimbledon men’s matches, I was on the losing side of the fence – 2001 Wimbledon final between Rafter and Ivanisevic, 2008 R16 between Murray and Gasquet, and of course the 2008 final between Fed and Rafa.
So I’m going to pick a women’s match – the 2005 final between Venus and Lindsay, the one a decade earlier – the 1995 final between Steffi and ASV ain’t bad either, though I only watched it in hindsight.
Best dressed player? Bethanie Mattek! Okay I kid, I kid… must I answer?
The infinitely dashing Sire Jacket, Mr RFed. Although Andre Agassi would give him a run for his money in the attitude department.
Dream doubles partner? Martina Hingis. There was a time when the best doubles team in the world was Martina Hingis and whoever she was playing with. Pat Rafter for men’s, because he’s Pat Rafter.
Secret Wimbledon crush? Roger doesn’t count – there’s nothing ‘secret’ about it. That takes Marat out too. So … Goran Ivanisevic? Zheng Jie for the girls.
I don’t write about myself much, maybe because writing about yourself is actually a lot harder than writing about the larger-than-life players of Tennis Nation. But with the offseason well and truly underway, and most inhabitants of Tennis Nation in hibernation, I’m left with way too much time to wonder how the hell I got to become a tennis blogger/youtuber/highlights maker, and those players who drew me into this strange and wondrous world of yellow fuzzy balls. So here is my story, fangirl styled…
As a child of the late 80s, one of my biggest tennis regrets was missing out on most of the golden Sampras years. When Sampras was owning the sacred lawns of Wimbledon like it’s no one’s business, Dootsie was still busy eating candybars, learning her ABCs, and dreaming about a future as a great female astronaut.
So it’s hard, really, to pinpoint my first tennis love. I’ve asked a lot friends of my generation who their first tennis love was, and generally, I get one of 3 people – Sampras, Agassi or Martina Hingis. But truth be told, I was never truly a fan of any of these three at the time. By the time I started following tennis as a cocky, know-all fourth-grader, Tennis Nation was approaching the tail end of Sampras’ career. Perhaps it was because of my inherent underdog-complex, or the aloofness of Pete Sampras as a person, or maybe the fact that up until recent years, as a Melbournian, the only slam I ever followed was the Australian where Agassi was a more familiar figure, Pete Sampras never quite grew on me. But I’m reading “A Champion’s Mind” right now, so who knows? A biography might be just what I need to find the Sampras-love within.
Agassi on the other hand began to endear me immensely towards the end of the 90s, and especially as we entered the early noughties. There was so much to be admired about Andre Agassi, his aggressive baseline game, his half-volleys, the way his groundstrokes came with extra venom… Moreover, he seemed to be one of those rare people who defied the natural bell-curve of an athlete’s career. Personality-wise, Agassi had both the class and sportsmanship of an elderly statesman worthy of every respect, and a history of rebel attitude that drew the fascination of a teenage girl.
Another person from the same era who I actually learned to appreciate much more in hindsight was the great Steffi Graf. I mentioned that one of my greatest regrets when it comes to tennis was missing out on most of the Sampras years, well – perhaps the greatest regret of all was missing out on the good stuff from Graf, for Steffi has almost become my WTA-Federer in hindsight. But at the time, I only ever remembered Graf as a sentimental former champion, plagued by injuries, overtaken by Hingis & Co, her possible retirement always seemingly on the agenda, though nevertheless unimaginable. But perhaps it was precisely because I’ve always remembered Graf with a feeling of nostalgia but without any clear recollections of her significant triumphs, that I’m always on the hunt for vintage Graf matches, and when I do find them, I’m always impressed.
As we launch full scale into the noughties, another player who came close to being a “tennis love” should be noted, and that is good ol’ Pat Rafter. Sure enough, I’ve always rooted for the Aussies – Rafter, Hewitt, Philippoussis, hell we’ve adopted Dokic too (though she always seemed to be in two minds about which country she wanted to play for). But my admiration for Pat Rafter went beyond mere nationality. As a player, Rafter was delightful to watch, inspiring many “ooh-ahh” moments as he lunged for impossible volleys, speared the ball in unexpected directions and attacked the net ruthlessly. There was something of a daredevil in the way Rafter played the game. As a person, Pat Rafter symbolised what we used to admire about Australian sportsmen – he was a fair competitor, he was charitable (donating half of the prize money from his 1997 and 1998 US Open titles to the Starlight Children’s Foundation), he was a diligent person who took a while to work his way up to the top echelon of the sport, but did manage to accomplish the impossible through good work ethics. For a while, my greatest wish was for him to win Wimbledon, and God knows he came painfully close, perhaps too painfully, seeing that he retired in 2002. For me it was sadly ironic to see such a fine serve-volleyer walk away from the game without a Wimbledon title.
So the early noughties, the good old days when Britney Spears still beared semblances of sanity…
One of the reasons why I say that I feel as if I’ve missed out on most of the Sampras years is probably because back then the ATP was somewhat of an afterthought for me. The WTA was my real love (quite surprising seeing that my favourite pastime these days seems to be ranting about the mundane quality of women’s tennis). But the period between 2000-2003 was an exciting time for the WTA, never was women’s tennis more attractive with Hingis and Kournikova as its poster-girls (or “Spice Girls of tennis” as they self-dubbed). But more importantly, never was the tennis more enjoyable. For early noughties marked the rise of the power generation with the likes of Lindsay Davenport and – the two players who really drew me to tennis – the Williams sisters. And the Williamses were much more than powerful ball-bashers. As tennis players they were creative, gusty and sensational. Because of them, for once, tennis could be seen as something more than an elitist, snobby sport. The Sisters were and still remain the populist face of tennis. I should also mention that the same period saw the early signs of two future contenders from Belgium – Henin and Clijsters. When people say that men’s tennis is about to enter into a “Golden Age”, in my eyes the only “Golden Age” I lived through and remember was the age of the WTA Power-Gen and the coming of the Sisters.
After 2003, strangely enough, I lost interest in tennis. Maybe I got sick of watching Serena beat Venus all the time, maybe I just needed to bond with the other passions of my life, develop my interests in music, art, literature and … boybands (!? Oh-the-shame!). Or maybe I was just a teenage dirtbag disinterested in all things in life. Yes, I’m regret to say, I suddenly stopped following tennis after 2003.
And if you’ve been reading my blog, you’re probably predicting the next turn of events – Roger Federer became the Saviour who rekindled my interest in this sport, who brought me back to Tennis Nation and turned me into the tennis fantard that I always was. If that’s what you were thinking, then you thought wrong.
Yes, a particular player did bring me back to this sport, but his name wasn’t Roger Federer, his name was … well … Rafael Nadal.
A friend of mine couldn’t believe it when she found out that I used to be a Rafa fan. Even more bizarrely, I used to be a Federer-hating Rafa fan. I did mention that I have an inherent underdog complex, didn’t I? Well, back in 2004, when Federer was winning everything under the sun, and humiliating Rusty, my fellow Aussie, with double bagels at the US Open, it was kinda hard to like the bastard.
And Nadal – Nadal was like a fashion statement, and I’m talking about so much more than the sleeveless tops and the pirate shorts. Nadal’s fashion statement was his attitude – the firey antics on court (okay, and the butt picking too), his incredible mental fortitude and steadfast work ethics, not to mention the way he took baseline tennis to the extreme. There was much to be admired about such an exciting young talent. Nadal was the challenger, and Federer the establishment.
And about Federer – in the early days of his career, much of my dislike for him stemmed from the fact that he appeared to be devoid of both mercy and emotions, sporting an unsightly ponytail and five o’clock shadow, wearing a series of badly fitted sacs, and inspiring a ridiculous amount of praise from commentators. As for the tennis, sure it was as impressive and elegant back then as it remains today, but when I heard that he had come to the Australian Open in 2005 having won Doha without losing serve, I couldn’t help but think to myself – “someone stop this bastard on his rampage!” And happy hippo did, by the name of Marat Safin, who I forgot to mention, was an on-and-off love of mine (but who didn’t have a soft spot for Safin?).
You know that moment in Pride and Prejudice, when a series of events forces Elizabeth to recognise that she had been blinded by her prejudice, and that underneath his pride, Mr. Darcy was really a generous and kind person? Well the same thing could be said of my opinions of Federer. No one was as shocked as I when I watched him get up to make his acceptance speech at the Australian Open in 2006 and suddenly turn into a pile of blubbering, sobbing putty. Mind you, I was rooting, as always, for the underdog Baghdatis. But something about Federer that day – the fact that a 7 time grand slam champion could still be genuinely overwhelmed by the occasion – made me see him in a new light. Perhaps Roger Federer wasn’t as indifferent, unfeeling, and devoid of attitude as I thought he was. And viewed in that new light, I became more and more partial towards Federer. How could you not be after a year like 2006? I remember during the 2006 Masters Cup final, after Federer hit his zillionth backhand winner, Barry Cowan muttered softly to himself “yes, you are that perfect, without a doubt.” In 2006, instead of being annoyed at the amount of adulation Federer was getting from commentators, I was beginning to understand why. But still, the thought of committing “treason” against Nadal never occurred to me.
The real moment that nailed me to the Federer bandwagon came, again, at the Australian Open in 2007. I remember there was a lot of talk coming into the Australian Open, that Andy Roddick was finally “closing the gap”, after having defeated Federer at Kooyong. I for one had found Roddick to be too overrated, though I have developed a lot of respect for the guy, so I didn’t entirely buy the “gap-is-closing” hype the media was building up. But even so, that semifinal match …. how do you describe a performance like that? How do you do it justice?
…At some point, I think I might’ve been on my knees, rocking forwards and backwards in worshipping motion. Sure Roddick didn’t play a good match, but even so, sort of high percentage shots Federer was pulling off with utter nonchalance was just astounding. In the fourth game of the second set, when Roddick, seemingly in control of the point, unleashed one of his forehands that landed almost right on the baseline. And Federer, on the full run, simply leaned to his left and neutralised Roddick’s monster forehand with a casual cross-court backhand half-volley. He then stopped cooly to brush back his curls, fiddle with his strings, and raise his hand half in apology to Roddick, half as an acknowledgement to the crowd, who was by then howling with laughter at the slo-mo replays. Utter ridiculousness. If you haven’t seen the point, you shouldn’t even be on this blog.
And just like that, the 2007 Australian Open semifinal marked the beginning of the end of my tennis story – I was converted, I was convinced, I saw the light. I understood what David F. Wallace was talking about when he wrote that famous essay on “Roger Federer as religious experience“:
“It was like something out of “The Matrix.” I don’t know what-all sounds were involved, but my spouse says she hurried in and there was popcorn all over the couch and I was down on one knee and my eyeballs looked like novelty-shop eyeballs.”
We’ve all had those moments.
And despite my “treason”, I still remain very partial to Nadal. How could you not? Even after he traumatised me by committing regicide at Wimbledon this year, Nadal remained the same player who first endeared me and brought me back to the sport of tennis. I still smile every time I watch him line up his water bottles. His butt picking is still cheap amusement should the match even take a turn for the mundane. And the way his eyes dart from side to side suspiciously as he walks along the baseline always reminds me of a little schoolboy waiting to be scolded or shanked for doing something naughty.
And where to now? I feel myself drawn to the young guys – Gulbis, Nishikori, Cilic. But not to the same extent as Federer. It could take a long time for someone to wow me like that again. Andy Murray – thumbs up for his improvements this year, but there’s just no need to write an autobiography at his age. Tsonga came close to giving me another “wow” moment at the Australian Open this year, and he continued to impress after he returned to the tour from his injury. WTA-wise, Venus and Serena are still hanging around, but unfortunately, I don’t see enough talent among the Russians and Serbians dominating the game today to get me excited. Vaidisova looked like she could be the next big thing for a while, but what happened to her? Stepanek? I like JJ, but she’s yet to prove herself on the big stage. Who knows, I could have another Pride-and-Prejudice moment with Ivanovic, but so far, I see her as a good player, but way too overrated.
So this ‘Golden Age’ of the ATP better keep me sufficiently amused, or I might let my partiality for cheesy boybands take over again.