Brissie/Doha: Who needs a Prince sponsorship when you have cheques like this.
Technically, Nikolay Davydenko is ranked 7th in the world.
Technically, he just won two tournaments back to back, picking up exactly where he left off in 2009.
Technically, he became the second player in history to beat Federer and Nadal back-to-back in two tournaments (take that! Daveed).
Technically, he’s 4-0 against the Mighty Fedal since November last year, and now leads his H2H against Rafa 5-4.
Oh, it’s that sweet, sweet feeling of victory.
It’s Love, Actually.
Someone else’s “Love, Actually” was also there.
What was more impressive was that Davydenko won against the Fedal this week by giving them each a dose of their own medicine.
Against Federer, Kolya served at 100% for an entire set, winning free points on serve, moving fluidly, taking the ball early with impeccable timing. Against Nadal, Davydenko won a match with the sort of mentality that we were more accustomed to seeing from his opponent.
To put it simply, he won a match that he had no business winning. After having Rafa shove a bagel down his throat in the first set, Davydenko went back to basics. He upped his level, saved 2 match points in the tiebreak before winning the second set 7-6(8).
Rafa looked to be back in control in the final set after going up an early break. But it appeared that Kolya had stolen the Spaniard’s supply of “never-say-die” mojo, tallying 52 winners all up to Rafa’s 37 to win match 06 76 64.
Despite his recent record against Fed and Rafa, Davo tried to downplay expectations at the Australian Open.
“I can beat them in three sets but in five sets, I don’t know. I’m quite used to calling the shots in three sets.
“The climate in Doha suits me better than that in Australia. I’m better off playing in Doha’s 18 degrees than the 30 at Melbourne Park, so it will be very challenging,” he added.
Whatever dude. You’re finally getting the spotlight you deserve and you’re not going to take it? No way.
For Rafa, it was the best tennis we’ve seen from him since returning from his knee injury last year.
While it must’ve been tough to lose such a commanding lead, Rafa has gotten what he wanted out of the week – his mojo, some pre-AO match practice and an antelope in a box.
Over in Brisbane, Andy Roddick blew a double break but closed out a very tight straight sets win against Radek Stepanek – 76 76 – to claim his 28th career singles title. Rad stayed strong all throughout the match, but against a more consistent Rod, he could only make sex faces.
Close, but as they say, no cigar.
DC Picspam: They thought we weren’t looking.
Blech. This was meant to go up pre-final, but just in case the fifth set between Steps and Ferru isn’t entertaining enough …
FACT: life is 67% sexier with Feliciano Lopez in it.
Also FACT: Good ol’ Daveed Ferrer is incapable of being in a photo without looking like a sleep deprived zombie.
Rafa drew the first blood on Friday with a convincing win over Berdych, effectively ending his 4 match losing streak. Birdy provided a weak response after losing the first set, dude’s still as nutty as ever.
I care, or not. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Quick, which two countries are in the Davis Cup final this weekend? This century-old team tennis tournament barely registers on the global sports radar these days, and many in the tennis community are lobbying to simplify a truncated schedule that begins in March, resumes in July and again in September before concluding at year end. But the International Tennis Federation insists all is OK with its tournament.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Gotta agree with the WSJ. The Davis Cup needs a format change if it ever wants to be relevant outside the small group of hardcore tennis followers.
Let the record show that the only reason I ever follow it is because of a small fetish for the Spanish Armada, which – let’s face it – is one hot team full of hot men, not exactly indifferent to the idea of groping each other in public.
Nando’s hair actually brings me pain. I keep expecting baby sparrows to fly out of it any second.
The Czech team in their toilet janitor uniforms.
Likey likey. Can we get Fed and Rafa to sit in a row and both do this at the same time. Oh-my-knickers!
While we’re on the topic of the Armada, an adidas ad with Fernando being his usual so-wrong-but-feels-so-right self.
Don’t ever change, Nando. Or quit your day job for that matter.
Pahree: Whatever. Life still hates me.
So Djokovic took down Nadal. As much as I was rooting for him to stop Rafa, I felt horrible that it actually happened. Mind you, Rafa probably shoulda lost first match, it’s amazing that he even tumbled into the semifinal like he was there by accident. And it showed: he was outclassed. He was passive. He was made to run around like a rabbit.
And it was sad to watch. 😦
I’m in a sadistic relationship with Nadal, which is a lot less hot than it sounds. He gives me more grief, fear, horror and angst than any other player. But at the end of the day, he’s kinda one of “my boys” too, and Nole is kinda not.
Sorry pup, not this year.
Can we stop this “Djokovic beat Fed and Nadal both in two weeks, he’s serving notice for 2010” business?
Sure, Nole is one of the guys in contention for slams next year, but I wouldn’t place so much weight by the fact that he beat Fed and Nadal in fall.
The last time Rafa won a title in fall was back in 2005, and Fed hasn’t won an indoor Masters since Madrid 2006. My point being – they don’t care about this part of the year. Tennis post-USO is more focused on the race to the WTF and cleaning up depleted fields than outshining your opponent. Just take a look at the guys who have traditionally been successful in doors – Safin and Nalbandian. There’s a reason that 2 out of Djokovic’s 3 titles this year came after the US Open.
Having said all of that, he does deserve an ATP 1000 title in 2009, after the number of times he’s made the final and gotten screwed by Murray, Rafa and Roger this year. So good lu—
Okay, that was a little too nice for comfort.
In the semi that no one gave a fuck about, Monfils needed 3 to down the Worm. Props to the Worm. We talk about fitness, we talk about craft, and Steps is both of those things. The fact that he’s still going strong in Paris, after winning a string of titles early in the year, is huge credit to him.
As for Monfils? I’ll jump on the bandwagon as soon as he develops a brain and starts thinking on court.
Although … Monfils with a brain: it scares the living daylights out of me.
Enjoy your Sundays (Saturdays, for those in less civilized time zones 😛 )
Basel: You have my permission to FRAZZLE.
If you were Novak Djokovic: you’ve played two bad matches, two good ones. You’ve posted good results all year, but with a terrible record in finals. And now you are presented with an opportunity to take out Roger Federer in Roger Federer Stadium, in front of his home crowd, right before the last Masters Series tournament of the year, is that extra motivation?
Or is that just Dootsie freaking out on a finals day over some potato-nosed douchebag from Basel?
Like Stan the day before, Radek Stepanek had his chances, 3 match points in fact, and all credit to Nole for digging himself out of trouble with good serves and solid play. But he’s going to need some extra motivation … or for Roger to be off his game a little, which I’ve been waiting for all week, but it actually hasn’t happened.
I never thought I’d say this, but I miss the days when Novak Djokovic was just a pain in the ass. What happened to him? He learnt political correctness. He learnt to pay lip service to the press and other players. He learnt to downtalk his own game. He’s a lot nicer a person, less spectacular a tennis player. Like so:
“I wouldn’t say necessarily it was my good shots that prevented the loss. It was luck only,” Djokovic said. “I just tried to get some first serves in and at least get that advantage. On this (hard-court) surface, it’s crucial.”
Must admit, I rather enjoyed the tensions between Jelena Ristic and Nikki Vee more than the match itself. Pumpkin-coloured and over-animated she might be, Jelena Ristic is full of win.
Some ‘Federnelli’ piccies to warm your ovaries. Unless you don’t have one, in which case, you poor deprived child.
Picspam: Yes Roger. That was the look on my face during the fifth set.
With Federer pulling out of doubles due to exhaustion/jetlag/cbf-ness, the Swiss lost in doubles to the Italians in straight sets.
Roger was not amused.
Either that, or Myla, Charlene and/or Mirka kept him up all night.
Reuters strikes again! REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito
No Mirka sighting, but Stan’s Concubine was there for moral support.
Either that, or she enjoys the Wawa/Chiuchiu eyecandy.
In other Davis Cup news, Spain and the Czech Republic set up their finale clash with respective 3-0 wins over Israel and the Croatia.
As always you can depend on Feliciano Lopez to supply us with plenty of pony-riding, manwich-making, homoerotic LOLs.
JOSE JORDAN/AFP/Getty Images
Don’t ever change, boys.
Equally dependable to induce “headdesks” and “facepalms”, the Worm subjected us to a strip tease after he and Berdych sealed the deal in doubles to put the Czechs in the Davis Cup final for the third time in history.
HRVOJE POLAN/AFP/Getty Images
Just in case you didn’t know what Radek’s monkey face looked like…
HRVOJE POLAN/AFP/Getty Images
So who the hell is going to defeat the Spaniards? Just don’t see them losing.
Davis Cup Picspam: We got spirit yes we do!
FACT: Homelessness is a huge problem on the ATP tour.
The Davis Cup semifinals and World Group play-offs are underway this weekend across 3 continents. What we love about the DC is that it’s filled with manhugs, bromances, and Swiss campfires. It all comes down to having “the spirit”.
What we hate about DC is that no one cares enough to televise much of the action.
The hobo in the picture, also known as Stefan Koubek or more widely as “Federer’s Practice Buddy”, came back from two sets to love down, only to lose to Capdeville 6-4 in the fifth.
Earlier Massu defeated Melzer to give Chile a 2-0 lead over Austria.
In other ties, Gael Monfils appears to be still missing his marbles as he was stunned by birthday boy Thiemo de Bakker in 4 sets. WHO?
Only marginally more dependable, Jo-Willy did his bit for la Republique and leveled proceedings with a comfortable win over Jesee Huta Galung.
Also tied at one all are Sweden and Romania with Soderling and Hanescu both scoring wins on each side. This means, as le Sod tweeted, “no party til Sunday“.
You gotta feel for Ahndee Mooray. It sucks to be this good on a team that’s this bad. But Toothface felt compelled to save Britain’s Davis Cup hopes from full scale extinction by playing with a bum wrist.
Martyr. That boy.
It’s all very well, until you realise that this is only a zonal play-off, and even with his martyrdom, GB is tied at 1-1 against Poland.
Hey Muzz, there are some things worth sacrificing yourself for.
For others, call a sicky.
Onto more riveting stuff, the two Davis Cup semifinal ties were contrasting affairs.
The deep-pockets of Spain delivered time and time again, as Ferrer and Ferrero both score straight set wins over surprise semifinalist Israel. Color me surprised if Spain doesn’t successfully defend its Davis Cup title this year.
On the other hand, the efforts of the Czech Republic in putting themselves into a 2-0 lead over Croatia have been nothing short of epic, eliciting man-hugs all round.
It took Radek Stepanek five hours 59 minutes to beat Dr Ivo 67 76 76 67 16-14 in a match that featured Ivo raining down a staggering 78 aces, besting the world record (his own) by 23. Yeah Ivo, spank that ace.
Random thought: if it took Karlovic and the Worm almost 6 hours to finish the match, how long would it have taken if played between Rafa and Djoko?
And just in case you weren’t exhausted by the Ivo v Worm mindfuckery,
Berdych then took almost another 4 hours to ‘shock’ Marin Cilic, 63 63 36 46 63. Tough luck for the Red Hot Cilic Peppers, the picnic blanket brought him no mojo this time.
As for the Swiss… errr, WHAAAAA-
As I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted by Kanye, the Swiss sailed to a 2-0 lead over the Italians, with Stan and Roger both winning comfortably in 3 sets.
Roger Federer, THE WANKER, made 66% first serves, 10 aces, 0 DFs.
The “if-onlys” killed me.
He converted a respectable 6/15 break points. Umm … if you need me, I’ll be in my backyard, digging a hole and throwing my Federbear into it.
No Roger, not even a smiley Monkey Face will save you from my rage.
Although, I did discover the Swiss voodoos behind Roger’s rare break point conversion success:
Roger aside, the rest of the Swiss team was the epitome of cool.
Even Luthi had “the spirit thing” going.
I may be prepared to forgive Roger if he brings back that Fedrinka campfire.
Not to be denied,
Davis Cup Picspam: Hot or Not
HOT! Toothy smiles from gorgeous boys.
NOT! So you think you can dance … dance … dance …
“Spank that ace” vs “the Robot Worm”
HOT! Feliciano Lopez. Period.
NOT! Feliciano Lopez eating a shoe.
AP Photo/Carlo Baroncini
HOT! His Royal Gorgeousness.
AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
NOT! WC janitors.
HOT! Davis Cup bromance.
NOT! Best-of-five set matches days after the US Open.
USO Day 8: Everybody has a story.
As much as I like to complain about all the big names dropping out of the tournament like horse shit, one of the benefits of having some of the lesser known players hang around is that you get to find out a little more about them. Turns out that the old truism ‘everybody has a story‘ still rings … true.
Yanina Wickmayer survived a close one today against Dina-slayer Petra Kvitova, prevailing 46 64 75 to reach her first ever grand slam quarterfinal. As a result, I found myself reading the transcripts of her press conference for the first time.
It seems that for many members of the press, it was their first time interviewing the Belgian too. When asked about why her English was so good, Yanina revealed that she had spent 3 years in Tampa after her mother died of cancer when she was nine.
“I went there when I was nine. I lost my mom when I was nine. I wanted to get away from home. I loved playing tennis.
“I was actually only playing for half a year. So I really enjoyed it, but just wanted to get away from home and do other stuff, be around other people. That’s why we left.”
Wickmayer admitted that it was a mature decision for her age at the time, but it was a decision made easier by the reaction of her father.
“I have to admire him for giving up everything he had. He gave up his job. He gave up his friends. Yeah, he gave up the house, his cars, and we just left.
Yeah, he put his whole life, yeah, in point of me, so I respect him for that. Everything I have now is a little bit because of him just because, yeah, he trusted me. He wanted to make me happy no matter what.
I guess he always believed in me. He always supported me. Even when I had some few tough years, I didn’t get through well, but he always been there next to me and supported me.
Yeah, he’s a great guy.”
He certainly sounds like a great guy. Tennis dads take note! Papa Wickmayer’s decision to leave Belgium had nothing to do with a gamble on his daughter’s career.
“…he didn’t leave everything because he expected me to be a champion. Actually he just left everything to make me happy. I guess that’s a whole lot of difference.
When I was nine, I wasn’t even I loved playing tennis, but I never thought I was going to be a professional and do this every day. I still went to school when I was nine. I was just a little girl enjoying playing.
I guess every year I kept on playing. I loved it a little more and I got a little better. That’s how the story goes.
But he gave up everything just to make his little girl happy, not to make her a tennis champion.”
Tennis isn’t all about the Serenas and the Sharapovas of this world. Sometimes, it’s just as heartwarming to get to know a little more about that Belgian girl who’s neither the one, nor the other.
A tissue for you softies?
[Wickmayer plays Kateryna Bondarenko next for a spot in the semis, after the KBond destroyed Gisela Dulko with a double bagel.]
The Russian Roulette keeps firing, as Melanie completes another Oudini escape from the jaws of defeat, outlasting Petrova 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3.
So here’s the deal with this kid – she’s no Justine Henin. Just because someone doesn’t play big babe tennis, doesn’t mean that she’s an Henin or a Hingis. Melanie Oudin is neither, a better comparison is probably Lleyton Hewitt. Like Lleyton, she’s a little babe trying to play big babe tennis, and in doing so, outlasting her bigger, stronger opponents with sheer belief and a terrier-like mentality.
Because there’s already been enough Oudin-worshipping going on, for the sake of being a contrarian, I’ll point out that to a large extent, her last 3 opponents gifted her the match with their neuroses.
Essentially that’s one of the many problems with women’s tennis these days – too often, it’s about outlasting the other player rather than outclassing her. Each player seems to have a ‘dark place’ with a tendency to go there when they’re moments away from victory.
Still, I won’t pretend that there isn’t something oddly inspiring, and oddly “American” about seeing a teenager defy all odds against her (frankly) more talented, more experienced opponents. This is a kid that speaks with exclamation marks, plays through tears and with gusto, writes the word “Believe” on her sorbet coloured shoes and talks about having a dream.
Gimmicky? Yes. Endearing? Hell yes. Once upon a time, I too spoke in exclamation marks, and had a preference for sorbet colours and corny mantras. Didn’t we all? She may not be the most talented youngster out there, but something about Melanie Oudin resonates with the country, and indeed the tennis world.
Not sure that I’m on the bandwagon just yet, but we just might get there one day.
Melanie Oudin faces Caroline Wozniacki next match, who pushed past Sveta Kuznetsova. And I mean pushed. Caroline is a sweet girl and a fabulous personality to have in women’s tennis, but watching her tennis is only marginally more interesting than watching paint dry. At least in this match.
Kuzzy spent the first set and a half blowing Carol off the court with massive serves, blistering forehands and deft volleys. There’s a reason why this girl happens to be Roger Federer’s favourite WTA player – some talents don’t need gimmicks.
But Sveta being Sveta, she imploded bizarrely with a string of unforced errors in the second set. At the end of the day, all CWoz had to do was to keep sending the balls back and watch Kuzzy self-destruct.
How can we keep Marat Safin away from this gal?
On the men’s side of things, Roger Federer had a smashing time against Tommy Robredo, breezing past 7-5 6-2 6-2. The first set was a little tight, but once Roger got that one in the bag, he unleashed the funhouse for the next two sets.
Unlike most other players out there, RFed makes a beating look beautiful.
Unsurprisingly, it was fun for Roger as it was for us. He claims that despite scoring so many victories over his opponents, it’s not just about winning.
“It’s not like even trying to beat him again; it’s just about having fun out there, playing a good match, playing good tennis, enjoying the moment, playing in packed stadiums. It’s something not many people get an opportunity to do.
I think everybody would love to be in my shoes. Why should I give away my spot really because I enjoy too much and people love to come see me play? So this is motivation alone for me. I mean, it’s plenty. I have plenty of reasons for me to keep on playing.”
It goes without saying, which is precisely why I should really say it with a little salut and all: RESPECT!
Roger faces the Sod next, who was up 2 sets to 1 against Davo when the Russian retired with an injury. Robin celebrated his impending meeting with the Fed by … eating jellybeans.
That’s just 100% adorkability. Robin Soderling, the most misunderstood man in tennis? Quite possibly.
My worst enemy for the next two days? Definitely.
In other men’s matches, Djokovic had a straightforward squashing of the Worm, but the real highlight was his reconciliation with the American crowd. I thought it was nice for Darren Cahill to offer him an olive branch, a chance for Nole to redeem himself with something that made him popular in the first place – imitations.
It might seem like all fun and games, but with Roddick out of the draw and the crowd seemingly warming towards the Djoker again, how will it play out for Nole’s confidence?
He seems to be a player desperate for acceptance and particularly bothered by the dialectics between popularity and notoriety. Would being portrayed in a more positive light put some wind under his wings?
Who knows. Just don’t tell me you didn’t see him comin’.
BACK TO FRAZZLING,
Picspam: the power of teeth.
We asked for head shots that don’t make the players look like convicts – the USTA listened.
Their latest batch of head shots (courtesy of Getty Images) are in stark contrast to the ATP’s two previous attempts: clickey and clickey.
In fact, Fabio Fognini looks positively smouldering. If only his eyebrows weren’t permanently knotted…
I love the way Thomaz Bellucci narrows his eyes seductively for the mugshot, and then puts on the most innocent little smile for the happyshot. You’ll go far in this industry, m’boy.
Street thug or daddy-next-door? You decide.
Devin Britton, my worst enemy for the next few days. Sorry, cutie patootie.
What a difference a toothy smile makes! Well done USTA.
But unfortunately, even teeth won’t save the Worm. I wish he didn’t try smiling – it obstructs my view of his sexy lips.
FACT: Radek Stepanek has dimples. My perfectly neat world order is now in disarray.
You know you want him,
Cincy Day 4: Gone with the Wind
Boy, I’m so glad I didn’t watch the match between Ferrer and Federer live today. Just watching a recording of it made me want to stab myself in the eye with a pen.
MAJOR eye baggage:
Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images
For someone who likes to play in the wind, Fed was having so much trouble adjusting to it. The forehand was gone with the wind, the backhand stayed home to look after Myla and Charlene. He clearly didn’t get much sleep last night, and decided to take a nap in the middle of the first set.
I think at the beginning maybe my footwork was just a touch off. After that I think got it together, you know, and started to play better and better. In the end when it goes your way, all of a sudden you can actually use the wind to your advantage in a big way. That’s what I actually hoped to do the whole match today, but it’s not so easy sometimes.
It’s all your fault Myla! Barf on him Charlene! Threaten him with another set of twins Mirka! Do it for the Federer fans who have lost nails, hair and developed stomach ulcers from watching this guy play.
And in case you were wondering why we’re still sadistic enough to watch Federer if we’re slowly developing bald patches because of him: I, for one, live my life from one Fedgasm to the next. And despite his sub-par performance, Roger did deliver some Fedgasms towards the end of the third set:
Roger is due to face Lleyton Hewitt next round, who took out Roddick conqueror Sam Querrey 6-1 2-6 6-3. Real trouper, Lleyton, but you’re a Kiwi to me, for at least the next 24 hours.
Ahndee Murray had a much easier time squishing the Worm 6-4 6-1. Didn’t watch it, but with Murray’s defense and control over the ball, I expect him to feed junk balls and passing shots back at Stepanek. No problems there with the wind.
Huh? AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson
Rafa was down 0-3 briefly in the first set before rallying past Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-5 6-2. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Rafa play properly, but it was befuddling watching him slice. Has he always done that?
In other matches, Gilles Simon took out Davo 7-6(6) 6-4 6-4. Lucky Loser Julien Benneteau downed Garcia-Lopez in three sets to set up an unlucky meeting with Toothface. Djokovic took out Chardy in straight sets 7-5 6-3, and no one cares.
Lastly: someone requested the music to the Rolex Federer ads. This was sent to me anonymously a few weeks back, and the link expired, so I reupped it. Clickey.
Your thoughts …