Wimbly Day 6 (by PJ): The Drama of Rafa
This is going to be a quick recap of Wimbly Saturday, ahead of Wimbly Frazzle Monday.
Rafa Nadal was stretched to five sets – again – on Centre Court against the 33rd seed Philipp Petzschner. Petzy put up a great fight to lead Rafa two sets to one, but it was a lead that he could not ultimately sustained, as he was broken twice in the next set, and once again in the fifth to give Rafa the victory.
There was some inspired play by Petzy, but Rafa wasn’t known for giving up, quite the contrary. Of course, two other main incidents on the court revolved around the medical time-outs Rafa took, and alleged on-court coaching.
I don’t really know what to make of Rafa’s MTOs. Many claimed it was gamesmanship – in an effort to throw Petzy off his rhythm, and it was something that Petzy agreed with.
…I thought he was moving great. I only could say if I would be injured like this once I would be happy. No, but I don’t know. Maybe he had something. Maybe it was just a clever part to take a timeout there.
Petzy went on to say that ultimately he couldn’t keep up and Rafa deserved the win. However, the debate was still centered around on the fact that Petzy may have won otherwise. “May have” are the keywords. We just wouldn’t know for sure.
My own take is that, I’m not so sure what to believe. It was a bit iffy that Rafa continued to move unimpeded after his MTO. However, after seeing him retire against Mandy in AO this year (which hurt me and made me sad face), I’m more inclined to believe him than not, actually. Rafa himself claimed that he was bothered and worried by the knee, hence he called for a trainer. The argument is still whether was Rafa’s injury serious enough to warrant a MTO. Then again, Rafa has always had trouble with those knees. Call me naïve, but I’m not so quick to decide that it was a move purely for gamesmanship.
On the coaching issue – Rafa was visibly angry when he received the warning, and had this to say in his press-con afterwards.
…Sometimes, yes. Not today, in my opinion. But, yes, sometimes in the past Toni talk maybe too much. And when it happened, and the referee or the umpire give me an advice, and if it is continuing, later a warning.
But not today, in my opinion. Yeah, no.
So does that mean, yes, on occasion, he DOES receive coaching from Toni? I’m sure we remember that Rome 2006 final where Feddy called Toni out on coaching. For this incident though, I’m not so sure. Even Petzy was inclined to believe that there was no coaching involved.
… I think there was no coaching involved. That’s what I think.
Having said that, I think there may be coaching in the Haase match. Rafa was looking up towards Toni and was very obviously saying something – a lot of things, in fact. Of course, I could be wrong again, but that certainly looked suspicious. My opinion? Rafa is the world #1. He should NOT, in any circumstances or in any time, be receiving coaching from his coach, minor or not. I like Rafa. If he isn’t playing against Feddy, I’ll root for him 80% of the time. But I have to admit this trait of his isn’t something that is endearing to anyone at all. Certainly hoping for the rest of his matches to be coaching-free. It does not bode well at all, that the world #1 receives coaching in a Grand Slam match, nope nope.
So Rafa survived, again, and hailed by all as the Matador, the Fighter, the Hero. Sure, I agree that it takes a lot of guts and strength to come out of two consecutive five-setters. But what irritated me was that Federer, in contrast, gets criticism, questions about his form and suggestions that he was outta the whole thing, with the first round battle and that dropped set in the second. Hypocrisy at its best, y’all! I supposed I should be used to these double-standards, which has been the case since forever and a day. I don’t care what anyone says about different expectations for Feddy and Rafa. Give credit where credit is due. Roger dug deep to come out with those wins. Recognise that, plzkthx.
Rafa plays Paul-Henri Mathieu next, and I will be VERY surprised if he was stretched again. PHM doesn’t have nearly enough – skills or mental strength wise – to beat Rafa at Wimbly. But it all remains to be seen.
Mandy Pandy, still gunning for that elusive GS title, first for Great Britain in 150,00 years, stayed on track, outing Gilles Simon comfortably, not that I didn’t expect him too. Simon has been fading since a rather stellar late year season in 2008. Mandy’s form has been solid lately (frazzle frazzle) and he is looking rather good to go further.
Bobby Sod also beat Thomaz Belluci easily enough, keeping the hopes for a Rafa/Soddy QF. Now this is one match that I will not miss, folks. And Bobby Sod, please not to be as uninspired as you were in that RG final. This is Wimbly, and I think he has a very good chance here. Soddy, that is.
Other players still alive in Rafa’s half: David Ferrer, Samurai Sam, Jo-Willy, Julien Benneteau.
Less than 4 hours to the frazzles, folks. I unfortunately am forced to go for a movie that I promised two weeks ago, and won’t be home till midnight-ish. It wouldn’t be the worst if I missed the match on the account of Feddykins winning comfortably in straights. In fact, I pretty much hope that is the case.
Frazzle on my behalf!
P.S. Quotes from Wimbledon player interviews!
Picspam: A fresh batch of convicts to send to Australia.
Do head shots ever look good?
I love Kendrick’s face – he looks positively constipated.
Special mention to Gael Monfils though, the guy actually managed to look normal. Overall, a much better batch than the ATP’s previous attempt.
At least they don’t look like drug lords in these.
Montreal Day 4: the Fabulous 8.
For the first time ever, the top 8 of the ATP tour are through to the quarterfinals. Clap clap, well done guys.
Federer def Wawrinka 6-3 7-6 (5).
Vintage Federer in the first set, 2009-hard-court Feduruh in the second.
Credit to Stan though for some massive serving towards the business end of the second set – I have no idea where that serve even came from. The backhand was as sizzling as it was erratic.
But as always, Federer fought back from being down 0-3, hung on to the set and found a way to win. Much less rust than his first round performance. He’s got a step it up for Jo-Willy, and most likely Murray, should he make it past the next round.
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson
Tsonga def. Simon 6-3 6-3.
Did I declare at the start of the tournament that I’d be okay with Jo-Willy beating Federer?
Well, I am a friggin liar.
Jojo had a solid performance against Simon to kick the top 10 pretender out of the tournament.
Simon hasn’t been playing stellar tennis for a while now, so I wouldn’t regard the match as a good litmus test for Jo-Willy’s form.
What is clear is that Tsonga has a lot of trouble with massive servers, but not so much with the counterpunching types. What’s also clear is that he likes his little “happyjump”.
Murray def Ferrero 6-1 6-3.
Barring a “be quiet please” styled performance from Federer in his next two rounds, Murray’s going to win this thing.
Tough luck for JCF, he has managed to draw Murray in the last 3 tournaments they’ve both contested. And it appears that Ferrero is just a terrible bad match up for Murray – offensively not strong enough, and defensively, he’s never going to outpush Muz.
Nadal def. Petzchner 6-3 6-2.
Petzchner is not the hardest competition, but Rafa won comfortably, as he should’ve, which is a sign that the knees are holding up just fine.
Roddick def. Verdasco 7-6(2) 4-6 7-6(5).
Didn’t watch the match at all, but from the score line, it could’ve gone either way. Tough luck for Verdasco, as always, he comes up short on the big points.
Oh yeah, Novak Djokovic won his match against Youzhny in straight sets. Can’t be bothered pretending that I care.
Final Tidbits: Goodbye to all that.
Wait – there are tennis tournaments going on this week?
Sometimes I just want to stop the world for a bit and savor the moment, but that can’t be done, so it’s bye bye, Wimbly. You’re not my favourite slam. Actually, I hate you like an unloved child. And just because I’m a Federer fan, doesn’t mean I buy into your pomp and stickupyerassness the way TMF does.
But hey, you’ve delivered, yet again. You can go away now, with my parting thoughts…
1) If Brooklyn is okay with it, ARod and Dementieva should get together for a drink and some serious commiserations. They both had hugely improved their games. Both conquered some demons and played the match of their lives. Both knew that their chances to win another slam (a slam in Dementieva’s case) were running out – it was now or never for the pair of them. Both had points in their matches that will haunt them forever – Roddick in the second set tiebreak, and of course Dementieva and her dramatic match point.
Both faced opponents heavily favoured to win, but nevertheless didn’t play their best tennis on the day. But both their opponents served near-record numbers of aces to save their asses. Both Fed and Serena dug themselves out of deficits, and practiced the art of survivorship – being the last man/woman standing, which takes slightly more than just day form. Roger and Serena didn’t end up with set points or match points that would haunt them forever. They survived long enough to put themselves in a position where just one flinch from their opponents would give them a lifeline. In the end, they both earned their victories thoroughly.
And thus the difference between Fed/Serena v Roddick/Dementieva? 25 slams. My deepest respect for the losing pair aside, my faith in Fed and Serena was reaffirmed by those two matches, not that it needed anymore reaffirming. But Roger, Andy, Serena and Elena will remain the four heros of the tournament for me.
2) Wimbledon as a tournament irks me, and the trophy presentation irked me too. You had Borg, Laver and Sampras sitting there in the Royal Box – why couldn’t any of them have presented the trophy instead of the Duke of Whatever? They were the real royalties on Centre Court.
And how did the photographer manage to make the four GOAT contenders of men’s tennis look this fugly?
Other Wimbledon stuff-ups that irked me: the girls-on-centre-court issue, the not-so-subtle ignorance of Novak Djokovic issue, the trying-to-call-Henman-Hill-Murray-Mound issue…
Redemption points for their tweeting and Facebook page. Best use of social network sites ever.
3) This question was posed to Lleyton Hewitt after his third round defeat at Roland Garros:
Q. If you look to this tournament you see some former No. 1 players like Safin, Ferrero, you. You’re not still in the 30s, but it seems like your generation cannot pick on anymore. How do you see that?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Roger is doing all right for our generation. We’ll just hang on to him at the moment.
No need to hang on to Roger. With the exception of Safin, the rest of the ‘old balls’ – Ferrero, Hewitt, Haas and Roddick – all came roaring back during Wimbledon. And Ivo Karlovic too: in his 30s and making his first grand slam quarterfinal. Maybe it’s because of these guys, but we saw some fairly old-school tennis during the fortnight – massive serves, tactical S&V, there was a few singlehanded backhands hanging around that did not belong to Roger Federer too. Meh.
4) I’m a bit stuck on Venus Williams – I keep rooting for her to win a slam this year, and keep feeling disappointed whenever she loses. At least she played divinely to get to the final, but Serena wasn’t to be denied.
Oh well, I’m already on the bandwagon, so how about … I’ll support her like crazy again for the US Open? Can’t be that far-fetched, can it? *sigh*
5) Still ignoring Dinara Safina, and obviously failing at it. Actually why don’t we ignore Jelena Jankovic too. When your opponent hit double the number of winners as you, it’s a case of sour grapes to say that she has no weapons.
While we’re at it, Caroline Wozniacki is dangerously close to being in the Ignore Club. I’m still waiting for her to step it up at a grand slam. When you’re announcing yourself as the next, next big thing, it’s probably not good enough to lose to Dokic, Cirstea or Lisicki before the quarterfinals of slams. I did enjoy “Bumpgate” though.
6) Random-assortment-of-forgettable-players-worthy-of-a-mention: Dudi Sela, Philippe Kohlschreiber, Francesca Schiavone, Virginie Razzano (yay top 20), Amelie Mauresmo (come on she’s pretty forgetable these days), Radek Stepanek, Melanie Oudin, Sorana Cirstea …
Just because you fell before the finish line doensn’t mean you didn’t have a fantastic tournament.
And a better draw for poor old Rendy Lu next time, please?
7) And the almost-heroes:
Sabine Lisicki – any girl who can serve that well deserves to be in my Bandwagon Park.
Stanislas Wawrinka – Stan decided to step it up in a major way, and flaunt his backhand now that Reeshard is no longer around. He still fell valiantly short, but showed that he deserves to be back in the top 10. Keep it up: onwards and upwards to the Masters Cup!
Lleyton Hewitt – a round of applause for Rusty for taking out del Potro, surviving dangerous opponents like Petzschner and Stepanek, then taking Andy Roddick to a thrilling five sets. Didn’t like him a few years ago, but it was good to see him hanging around again. Let’s hope the hip holds up.
8.) Regardless of your opinion on the so-called ‘Big Babe tennis’, the WTA needs its Big Babes to do well right now. Not a fan of either of them, but I was glad to see Daniela Hantuchova and Ana Ivanovic pull reasonable performances at Wimbledon.
Slightly freaked out about Maria though – I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that the rust will eventually wear off. She’s young, she’s still got time, right? RIGHT?
9) Who wants to sign my “Roger Federer needs a coach ASAP” petition?
Here’s what the stubborn Roger had to say about his team during the French part of the post-Wimbly presser:
Pouvez-vous nous parler de votre équipe ?
J’ai cru dans mon équipe. Cela a payé. Je suis très fier car je n’ai pas fait les changements drastiques que tout le monde attendait. J’ai eu raison, vous avez eu tort (sourires). »
Can you talk about your team?
“I believed in my team. That paid off. I am very proud because I didn’t make any drastic changes as everyone expected. I was right, you were wrong.” (Laughter)
No we’re not wrong. I still think Federer should get a coach, but let me just hide that petition somewhere for a rainy day.
10) Like Serena, Federer now hold 3 out of the 4 grand slams. Unlike Serena, Federer is No 1 in the world. I’d like to shut up about the WTA rankings, but it’s so goddam hard.
Mentioning rankings, I’m feasting my eyes on this …
Potential to rise for Andy Roddick. Potential to crash and burn for Gilles Simon.
11) Rafa to return in Montreal. My guess is that Roger’s pulling out.
12) I thought Andy Murray dealt well with the pressure and expectations at Wimbledon, but his smacktalk pre-Wimbledon appears a little silly in hindsight. Truth be told, whether or not Federer should’ve chosen to comment on Murray’s game after their match in Dubai last year, he was pretty spot-on with his assessment. Larry Stefanki said almost the same thing about Murray on Wimbledon Radio after the semifinals:
“Besides Roger Federer he is the best mover in the game. He has the best footwork and he is technically very sound. He has to change his mentality of the way he wants to play this game at the very top level.”
“He is going to have a great future if he gets to the point of recognising balls to attack and to come into the forecourt and play there rather than 15 feet behind the baseline.”
“I like Andy Murray a lot and I respect his game. He plays it very smart but I still believe the game is played in the forecourt and at the net in order to win some big titles.
That’s one area that Nadal has hugely improved on in the last year: choosing when to come forward proactively and attack, and when to defend. No reason to suppose Andy Murray can’t improve on the same front.
13) And onwards we roll: what are Andy Murray’s chances at the US Open? Good? Very good? Sure bet?
After Roger’s wins in Paris and London, I don’t even care if he wins the US Open anymore, if he does – cherry on top, any slam’s a bonus. If he doesn’t, I’d like to see him at least keep the semifinals streak alive.
I haven’t done the calculations, but is there any chance of Rafael Nadal dropping to No 3 in the rankings before the US Open? Hell, I do NOT want a Federer/Nadal semifinal.
14) I miss/hate Richard Gasquet.
15) 15th tidbit for 15 slams: HURRAH! YAY! WOOHOO! Still basking in the afterglow of Federer and Serena’s victories.
Having said that, the GOAT debate is now slightly more annoying than the grunt debate, which is slightly more annoying than grunting itself … which is saying a lot.
Time to take that “GFC” icon off my sidebar, me thinks. The irony of it all is that Federer said at the end of Miami “thank God the hard court season’s over”. I wonder what he thinks about this upcoming hard court season.
Wimbledon Day 6 Tidbits: Time, Truth and Heart.
1) I never cease to marvel at the “orderliness” at Wimbledon. For a tournament of rules and traditions, it has a strange protective effect over the top seeds, it shields them from freak upsets in the first week. It also has the ability to realise pre-tournament predictions, be it an ultimate Federer/Nadal-Roddick showdown, or a Williams final. We may or may not get Federer/Murray and Venus/Serena in the finals this year, but that just seems to be the way Wimblydondon rolls.
Not that upsets don’t happen at Wimbledon, but they’re less likely to happen. Particularly on the WTA side of things, I had expected Ivanovic, Safina or Dementieva to fall much earlier. On the men’s side, I had been predicting Simon and Verdasco to exist early, but both seem to have found their range in their respective third round matches. Even Amelie Mauresmo is putting up a solid performance. Dare I hope that Momo takes down Safina? Dare I? Looking at her first service game against Pennetta, no – I dare not.
But go Momo nonetheless!
2) Ana Ivanovic played the best match I’ve seen from her in quite a while. It’s a pity she had to take down my compatriot in doing so. When that ball toss is right, Ana has quite a good serve, and she seems to be learning to take her time with the ball toss. Good signs? Whatever. I was too busy paying attention to the hunk in her box. Oh Adam, we could’ve been beautiful together. *puppy face*
That said, if Venus loses to her I might just throw myself into the Yarra again. I had Ana as a dark horse for Wimbledon, and she may turn out to be just that. Wimblydondon Gods, protect thy champion!
3) Of course if Venus plays the way she did against Suarez Navarro, I don’t see it happening. How DIVINE was this woman? The first set of the match just topped the Azarenka and Safina quarterfinal at Roland Garros as one of the most enjoyable dominant performances by a player. Interesting to see the number of times she approached the net, even S&Ving on quite a few serves. By the middle of the second set, Suarez Navarro had found her range and her presence in the match, giving us glimpses of the kind of game that saw her advance to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. But in the end, Venus just had too much power, athleticism, and wingspan for Carla. Great to see her commitment to coming to the net at this tournament, it gave me warm-fuzzies to see a player’s game continue to evolve at the age of 29.
4) Raise your bone-china teacups at our homies in the US of A, who found a 17-year-old sweetheart to swoon over yesterday. With Aussie TV coverage stuck on Hewitt v Petzschner, I switched to livestream to catch a glimpse of this girl. Must say I was quite impressed. Oudin was 20% head, 20% legs, and 60% heart. With all of JJ’s dramatic “woman problems”, the girl remained focused. When she had four set points in the first set and couldn’t convert, I was so sure that she was going to go quietly into the good night, but I was wrong. The girl remained positive, ballsy, took risks and reaped rewards. Considering she almost could’ve lost in qualifying, fourth round is a pretty impressive showing for a 17 year old debutante. I like her guts, and her hoop earrings.
5) Someone whose guts I don’t like – Jelena Jankovic.
Oh JJ, remember the times when we used to be best friends? Okay no, that was just wishful thinking on my part. But I don’t even want to be manicure buddies with you anymore. I like the sore losers and the bitchiness in the WTA, it makes it fun to follow, but this is a little too sore for me.
Q. She’s still very young, but can you tell us what you think her potential is?
JELENA JANKOVIC: No, it’s tough to say. But, you know, from what I have seen, you know, she can play if you let her play. But she cannot hurt you with anything. She doesn’t have any weapons, you know, from what I’ve seen.
You know, I played with half pace. I served, you know, like almost my first serve was like a second serve and all those kind of things. But if I had a little bit more ‑‑ if I felt a little bit more fresh at the end of that second set, I could have won in two sets.
But I just was ‑‑ the more I ‑‑ the longer I stayed on court the worse and worse I felt, and that was not good for me. I know my chance was to win that second set, but unfortunately didn’t happen, and then everything went in her favor.
Q. Except for her movement?
JELENA JANKOVIC: She’s a consistent and quite solid player. She doesn’t make so many mistakes.But she doesn’t do anything either, so it’s like she’s depending kind of on you. And, as well, it’s another story when she’s young and she has nothing to lose, no pressure. You know, even when it’s an important moment, she can just go for it.
And nobody’s expecting her to win, so it’s just a bonus if she does well. But if she loses, you know, nobody will tell her anything.
So it’s a different, you know, situation for those kind of players. And then for players like me, which you’re expected to win, you have pressure on yourself, you have expectations, as well. She just goes out there to enjoy it and give her best.
The pot calling the kettle weak. Perhaps we should remind JJ that she hit 14 winners while her opponent with “no weapons” hit 38?
6) One last Aussie standing out of the original four. Lleyton Hewitt scored a solid straight sets victory over Petzschner, who has the most annoying name to spell. But Petzy can play, I must say, I seem to remember him winning something during the indoor season late last year, or at least I remember making a failed attempt to learn his name at the time. Lleyton did well towards the tail end of each set. Now one more round at least. Pretty please?
I’m uber impressed with the Fanatics at Wimbledon.
7) ARod is still doing that shuda-been-straight-sets-but-ended-in-four thing. I’ve been saying that he’ll make it into the final, but I’m so not sure now: Murray’s played fairly dominant tennis in the last two rounds.
Mildly cross-eyed, no?
8.) How about the other New Balls guys? I can’t believe how well they’ve been doing this tournament.
The Tennis Gods are smiling on Tommy Haas at last, and gave him a second spring. I never liked him much in his early days. Sure the guy played beautiful tennis, but he spent half the time acting like a monkey on court, and routinely blew two sets to love leads while looking like someone stole his banana.
Tommy Haas wasn’t about to blow the fifth set when he came out at 6 all in the fifth against Cilic. The oldest guy left in the draw against the youngest. Old school serve and volley (since when did Tommy Haas S&V? Since now apparently…) versus new age fearless power tennis. When serving for the match, Haas clearly tensed up and threw Cilic a lifeline with two break points. But it was Cilic who proved to be the tenser of the two. He had Haas on the ropes, the court wide open, and shanked his forehand each time. I like the kid, but I wasn’t sorry he lost. He has something on his side that Haas doesn’t have. Time.
9) Another living fossil who’s resurfaced again during the grass season – JC Ferrero. At the beginning of the week, I laughed when I read JCF’s presser, where he talked about becoming motivated again and returning to the top 10. Two rounds later, Ferrero claimed his first top 10 casualty since Rome(?) last year and that motivation showed. Despite being outaced and outgunned by a more powerful Gonzo, JCF remained consistent, making just 15 unforced errors in 5 sets.
The match was also dramatic for the intermittent rain, dimming daylight, and the shambolic announcement (while the players were on court) that the match might be moved to centre court where the roof had been put across. Are you that desperate to use the roof, Wimblydondon?
JC continued to sound positive in his presser.
Q. Are you surprised to be in the second week at Wimbledon?
JUAN CARLOS FERRERO: Not at all. I was before, so it’s not the first time. I knew before the tournament that I was playing very well on grass because I made a great week on Queen’s. So I came here, you know, after a week practice and at home, doing not a lot physically and ready to be here.
That’s the way I want it to be, no? Physically I’m 100 percent okay, and I’m not surprised to be in the second week at all.
I’ve stopped using the word “vamos” in the last few years because of my Roger conversion, and truth be told, “hopp” just doesn’t have the same musicality to it. It makes me feel like Heidi half the time. Time to abuse “vamos” again. With no points to defend for the rest of the year, to the top 20 and beyond I say – VAMOS JCF!
10) Not so surprised that Lisicki took down Kuzzy, who just doesn’t feel it on grass. When I first saw Lisicki play at Hopmans earlier in the year, I had no idea who she was, but loved all that I saw except for her DFs. Sabine plays high-risk, gutsy tennis that either ends up giving the match to her opponent with unforced errors, or making every single person watching the match fall in love with her killer instincts and positive energy. It’s fantastic to listen to a commentator who has yet to see her play slowly come to the realisation of what gem the girl is. Not sure that I like her quite as much as I like CWoz yet. But how could you not love this face?
11) For a while it looked like we could have another American pulling an upset. But Stan’s shotmaking rescued him in time. Looking forward to Wawrinka v Murray, not that I think Stan has a chance, but great result for him, reaching the second week at Wimbledon once again.
12) In other results… the Worm came through in five sets against David Ferrer, with some pretty dramatic knee problems along the way. He’s due to face Hewitt next round, can you image the amount of fist pumps, disco moves and lawn-mowing going on?
Only watched the last set of Berdych v Davydenko, and saw all I needed to see. Tomas Berdych is on fire and ready to burn.
He came into the match with a 0-8 record against Davydenko, but bullied Davo into submission in straight sets. After 6 days of play, Berdych is the only guy left in the draw who’s yet to drop a set – I’m just glad he’s on the other side of the draw. Roddick ought to look out. It would be a huge disappointment if he came into Wimbledon with such solid results, only to fall to Berdych fourth round.
Was Chace Crawford at Wimbledon? Oh yeth he wath…. ahermmmm
Your thoughts …