Tag Archive | Tomas Berdych

Australian Open 2014: Frazzle Post

I start with the men’s draw on the premise that we are headed for a Rafole final in Melbourne in two weeks unless someone stops them. But who might actually be capable of tripping the current Big Two?

Murray? Even the most die-hard fans of British tennis would have to concede that Toothface is nowhere near match-fit and ready to win the Aus Open.

Del Poopy? Surely, he is long overdue for a slam win over Rafa.

Wawrinka? There may be some level of cosmic balance overdue to My Friend Stanley after his five set loss to Djoko in Melbourne last year, but given Stanley’s draw, I doubt it.

Here’s a closer look at the men’s draw.

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Roland Garros 2013: Deriving Cachet From a Cliche

France Tennis French Open

Welcome to the beginning of All I Need Is A Picket Fence’s coverage of the 2013 Roland Garros tournament in Paris.

Doots, Le Foundress of Le Fence, is living “Le Life” in the City of Light. She’s attending the tournament in person and will have all sorts of tales to tell. You’ll get pictures and on-scene observations of the experience of attending Roland Garros, Doots’s final leg as part of her now-completed “Fan Slam.” She’ll tell you all about it very soon.

(Hey, wait a minute — there was this Swiss guy who completed a Grand Slam in Paris as well, and a Russian woman who did the same thing last year. Doots is following in the footsteps of the two tennis players she primarily blogs about. Paris is a city made for blending life and art, dreams and reality. Feel the poetry, Picket Fencers. Feel the poetry.)

While we wait for Doots, let’s get our Roland Garros coverage off the ground by overviewing the first two days of competition. Many unremarkable things have happened:

On the WTA side, Nadia Petrova suffered a stomach-punch, come-from-ahead loss. Serena Williams threw down the proverbial hammer. Sorana Cirstea and Ana Ivanovic took their fans through an all-too-typical emotional rollercoaster. Julia Goerges continued to struggle.

On the ATP side, it wasn’t quite business as usual — not to the same extent as the WTA. Lleyton Hewitt fought valiantly and lost in five sets. Gilles Simon played a long, drawn-out, and exasperating match (against Hewitt). Other than those familiar occurrences, the men threw a lot of curveballs at tennis observers. American men (yes, PLURAL) actually WON first-round matches. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won without fuss or drama, and Richard Gasquet did the same. No French absurdist theater at Roland Garros — not yet.

You want to know how shocking the first two days of men’s competition have been in Paris? ROBIN HAASE won a tiebreaker! That says it all, does it not?

“NOBODY BEATS ROBIN HAASE 18 TIEBREAKERS IN A ROW!” — Vitas Gerulaitis, probably

The women’s tournament has given us some precious gems and poignant moments from two days of play: Venus Williams emptied herself on Court Suzanne Lenglen, giving everything to tennis — just as she has throughout her distinguished career — only to fall short against Urszula Radwanska, whose lobs and mixed-pace shots ultimately frustrated Venus in a 3-hour, 19-minute scrap of appreciable quality.

Virginie Razzano, who — remember — lost her fiance two years ago, earned a second-round paycheck with the possibility of a third-round prize. Razzano has suffered shattering, devastating grief… and lived to find sustenance from sport. The first days of a tennis major are special because they give the likes of Virginie Razzano a day — and a payday — in the sun, validating many years of perseverance. Razzano will make almost $53,000 U.S. even if she loses her round-of-64 match. That take-home pay will cover a lot of expenses, justifying the decision to continue playing in the shadows of loss and loneliness. The greats play for championships, but many players at the majors are playing for that big infusion of prize money in the first week of the tournament… and for the love of a sport that has meant so much to their lives.

With that general recap in the books, let’s move to our featured selection from the first two days of Roland Garros 2013, a quick reflection on the difference between the elites and the pretenders in the sport.

France Tennis French Open

In one corner stands Rafael Nadal, the best male clay-court tennis player of all time. In another corner stands Tomas Berdych, a player with evident major-championship talent but only one appearance in a major final and only three semifinal showings. The matches these two men played on Monday in Paris revealed so much about their careers.

With Nadal, the obvious narrative was nevertheless the narrative that genuinely applied to his first-round encounter with Daniel Brands. Nadal absorbed an opponent’s best punch for nearly two full sets and found himself down 3-0 in the second-set tiebreaker, already trailing by a set. This was not about Nadal failing to perform; Nadal was staring at the possibility of a two-set deficit because Brands adopted and executed the distinctly Rosolian approach of going for low-margin shots at every turn… and usually making them. Brands played like a man possessed, but as soon as a second-serve return missed at 3-0 and a nervous chipped approach missed at 3-2, Brands lost confidence. Nadal, tied at 4-all in the breaker, pounced on short balls in the last three points, clearly relishing not only the challenge he was given, but his ability to meet said challenge.

There is something to be said for the claim that the best competitors are the ones who really are joyful — not just free from fear, but filled with song — in the face of tense and decisive hinge-point moments. Mindsets make the men and women who surmount obstacles and grow bigger when the stakes become higher. Nadal didn’t play all that well for much of this day, but when the moment mattered the most, he became the big dog in the arena. Brands hit so many big-league shots, but he couldn’t call forth the thunder when he really needed it, when he could have gained a two-set lead and — later — when he was on the verge of breaking back to even the third set at 4-all. This is how great players survive upset bids, and it’s how people with Daniel Brands’s level of ballstriking ability wake up at age 25 and realize how much money they’ve left on the table in their professional careers.

With Berdych, the Nadalian dynamic was inverted — as it so often has been for the Czech in his career — on Monday against Gael Monfils.

You will recall that in the 2012 Australian Open, Berdych was on the verge of taking a two-set lead over Nadal in the quarterfinals, but couldn’t close the sale. Berdych has suffered that kind of loss so many times in his ATP existence. In this match against Monfils, Berdych faced a talented opponent who was performing well and playing in his home country. Berdych received a brutal draw at this tournament and had to play what amounted to a “road match” in round one. Losing here — given the way Monfils played on Monday — was not a great sin in itself. What will linger for Berdych is that, in a clean inversion of the Nadal pattern, Berdych played well until those moments when he really needed to elevate his game.

Through 4-all in the first-set tiebreaker, Berdych had competed really well. Monfils came out of the blocks with force and fury, lashing his crosscourt forehand and generating substantial depth on his groundstrokes. Monfils’s past year on the ATP Tour has been ravaged by injuries, uncertainty, and an inability to make a major mark on men’s tennis, but the Monfils who shoved around Berdych for much of the first set is the player who made the 2008 Roland Garros semifinals and has displayed the kind of ability commensurate with a top-10 player. Berdych stood up to Monfils and had given nothing away when 4-all arrived in the first-set breaker.

Then, however, Berdych wilted. An inside-out crosscourt forehand — poorly chosen and poorly executed — gave Monfils a crucial piece of leverage. Two more errors a few moments later handed Monfils the first set. Berdych erased a two-set deficit and very nearly pulled out the match in the fifth, but that first-set failure made Berdych’s mountain that much tougher to scale. Whereas the Nadals of the world struggle for much of the day but then succeed in defining situations, the reality of tennis life takes a 180-degree turn for the Berdyches of the sport.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for Doots’s dispatches and more Fencing as the tournament of the terre battue rolls along in Paris.

US Open Week 2 Recap: Je ne regrette rien.

It seems like a case of life mimicking fiction, that Andy Roddick would have the last laugh – leaving the sport of tennis having won the last encounter in his non-rivalry with McFudderer; and McFudderer in return would manage to steal the headlines from Roddick on the last day of his career by crashing out of the US Open “early”.

And as tempting as it is for me to start with Federer’s utter no-show against Berd, I’m going to start with Roddick, because there is a fundamental difference between McFudd and Roddick’s exits from the Open yesterday: McFudd will be back with his cowbells ringing (moooooooo…), but Roddick has truly said his last goodbye to the sport at a competitive level, and as one rather whimsical Spaniard would tweet: even our guitars were crying.

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Circumstances, Yes. Excuses? No.

It is one of the simplest but most important distinctions in everyday human discourse: separating excuses from reasons, partitioning whining from the helpful explanation. The two get mistaken and conflated all the time. In the wake of the loss of the hero/central persona/object of fan affection on this, a fan-driven tennis blog maintained by people who are NOT paid to operate it, it’s worth diving into the difference between an excuse and a reason.

One of the best tennis commentators not found in front of a television camera is Andrew Burton (@burtonad on Twitter), longtime Tennis.com board moderator, RF.com content contributor, occasional in-person major watcher, and – most importantly – a man in full, an observer of the tennis scene who is magnanimous in all seasons yet unsparing in analysis if it needs to be critical. Mr. Burton calls ’em as he sees ’em, living up to an analyst’s creed even while he carries the flag of Federer fandom with evident love and fidelity.

I reference Mr. Burton because he is the champion of the view that there are no asterisks for any tennis match, ever. I respect the view and the thought process Burton uses to arrive at his strongly-held assertion. I largely agree with it, but I do reserve a few occasions in which that little mark – made infamous by Major League Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick’s application of it to Roger Maris’s home-run record, established in 1961 – is justifiable. This sets the groundwork for our larger discussion of “excuse-versus-reason.”

(Side note: Frick applied the asterisk because Maris broke Babe Ruth’s previously existing home-run record in a 162-game season. Ruth set his original record in a 154-game season. We can debate that topic until the cows come home, but that’s the first and most (in)famous occasion in which the notion of an asterisk entered a mainsteam sports conversation.) Read More…

Madrid Wrap: Postmodern Adaptation

Federer pondering the same question we’ve all struggled with for the past year: how the fuck are you meant to hold this thing without sniggering?

Let us skip the boring parts shall we: one paragraph about how untouchable Berdych was in the first set – committing a total of 2 unforced errors to 14 winners; follow that up with a few lines on how the ‘wily veteran’ hung tough and slowly gained a foothold on the match, eventually wrangling the second set from Berdy. Read More…

Dootsie rants: Fuuuuck. I’m running out of clever blue-related titles already.

When I was a li’le girl in school, there were many classes I hated, either because of the subject itself, or because the teacher in charge of it hails from the lower spectrum of mankind. And the more I hated them, the more I complained to my mother about them, the worse I did in those classes. I couldn’t wait until the day I got old enough to drop them and study only the things I like.

Which brings us, of course, to the flamingly obvious: Djokovic and Nadal did not fall to the Rise of the Minions merely because they could not adjust to the new surface, they fell because they would not adjust to it.

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Report from Abroad: All of the lights.

There comes a moment in every girl’s life when a teeny little voice in her head says: “hey Doots, go to friggin Paris this weekend.

It was this little voice I followed last Thursday, as I headed to the City of Lights where Bercy – the last Masters tournament of the year – just “happened” to be playing. Oh what a coincidence … right?

As a tournament, Bercy has always been considered the least of the Masters. Being the second last ATP tournament of the year, it is the one most plagued by pull outs, retirements and walkovers, populated by a partisan and often hostile crowd, and not to mention being played in quite possibly the most hideous stadium I have ever seen.

The POBP complex was built to resemble mossy molehill with grass growing out of its sides. Grass that could not be sat on, walked on or played on and thus serves no apparent purpose other than to scream “LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME!” and perpetuate Paris’s unfortunate relationship with modern architecture.

Oh man, it all went downhill fast after the Eiffel Tower …

But architecture was not what I came to Paris to see, and luckily for me, the inside of the Bercy stadium had the energy and buzz of a heavyweight boxing contest: the dimmed lights, the club-like intro to every match, the excitable crowd and MC … everything about it was perfectly primed for hardcore tennistical showdown. After months of travelling, the atmosphere had me salivating for some live tennis action – namely Federer v Gasquet.

Despite booking tickets separately, Picket Fence readers Whynotme, jfK and myself managed to beat the slim odds and be allocated seats randomly next to each other. Didn’t take long for us to whip out the Roger merchandise …

Even though he was playing a Frenchman, a sizeable contingent in the crowd stood vocally behind Roger. This was somewhat an anomaly for this part of the world – the Parisian crowd has always had notorious reputation for partisanship. Normally I would disapprove of their eagerness to boo players at every opportunity, but as a spectator in and amongst them, it was fabulous.

Every emotion you felt from the stands was shared and heightened by those around you. Matches became far more interactive than they normally are. And despite my uneasiness about some of their behaviours, I’ll say this in defence of the Bercy crowd: they either treat a player like a slug or like their prodigal son, and they are just as likely to boo someone until his neck sinks back into his torso as they are to weep tears of joy at his triumphs like a horde of proud mamas.

Woger clearly fell within the “prodigal son” and “non-slug” categories as far as the French crowd was concerned. It was evident to all his opponents that Federer more or less enjoyed a “home crowd advantage” whenever he played in Paris, even against the Frenchies.

While at the tournament, I saw 3 of McFed’s matches – against Gasquet, Monaco and Berdych, and in all three, he was simply divine.

You forget about it during the year, but every indoor season, I am reminded of the reason why some of my favourite Federer wins have come at the year-end tournaments: there is something about Federer on an indoor hard court that is simultaneously devastating and stunning. It’s almost as if he does away from much of the subtleties in his game during the indoor season, and just decides to whip out a hammer and start bludgeoning his opponents off the court with scorching aggression. Never has violence been so entertaining.

Compared to the relative ease with which Federer wrapped up his first Bercy title, the other quarterfinals and semifinal I saw were more representative of the overarching themes of the indoor season – physical struggle. They were more about stamina, service games, tiebreaks, about keeping your head above water and your body injury free:

Berdych and Murray was a marathon of see-saw momentum, long rallies, never-ending games and a crowd cheering, groaning, throwing their arms about at every point being won or lost.

Tsonga v Isner was about French nationalism on full display – flags flying, feet stomping, chants echoing through the stadium, 10,000 people inhaling in unison – before erupting with revolutionary fervour when Tsonga danced around the court in victory … I arrived everyday nervous and pumped, and left each night with my ears ringing with the sounds of live sport.

Mahuteau. JUST BECAUSE.

To top off my days of perfection spent at the tennis, there is something about being in a foreign country that makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do, or more precisely – make requests you wouldn’t normally make …

Get your barfbags ready aaaaaand cue music.

In case you were wondering, I was totally shitting myself … MULTIPLE TIMES cool about it, told him I was from Australia and wished I didn’t have toilet bowl hair wished him luck, then considered fainting into his open arms moved back to admire from afar.

Ahem. So yeah. One piece of advice – don’t look like such a complete retard if you ever meet someone you have a mild crush on.

Roger was so sweet with all his fans.

I never made it to the Bercy final. It seemed like a shame to come to Paris without seeing the city away from the grassy slopes of POPB, so on the advice of Paris local Whynotme, I headed out on finals Sunday for some serial ice-cream eating culture at the Centre Pompidou, which instantly overtook the Bercy Stadium’s status as the Greatest Showoff of a Monstrosity in Paris. Oh Pareee, why?

Urgh. 

“Modern art”. Apparently.
(Just kidding, the permanent collection was actually wonderful.)

Me: I LOVE *slurp* ICE CREAM! *slurp* IT’S MY FAVOURITE *slurp* THING IN THE WORLD. *slurp slurp slurp burp*

Whynotme: … Really?

Me: *slurp* OF COURSE!

Whynotme: You like ice cream more than you like Roger?

Me: …. okaynoidont.

This was before I had FLOWER SHAPED ICE CREAM though. Maybe I like FLOWER SHAPED ICE CREAM a little bit more than I like Roger. Just a little.

After a long day of grappling with “modern art” and ice cream, I finally got the call I was waiting for from Whynotme, who watched the final live.

Wogie won!!” she screamed over the phone.

UARRGGGHHHOMIGOSH! HE WON?!” I shrieked back in English, causing nearby French pedestrians to glare at me like I just farted into their sofa.

We met up later for food, celebration and an evening stroll along the Seine. Everything was so endlessly charming and quaint.

Perhaps it was because of Roger’s win, perhaps it was simply that Paris is so glitteringly handsome at night, but at that moment, I felt so completely sated with happiness.

xx doots

P.S. Many thanks to all those I met up with in Paris for making my trip so perfect! You know who you are.

Miami Players Party: Y/N

Sometimes, a mighty, barf-inducing PICSPAM is the only appropriate thing to do. So indulge me, if you could, in a simple game of Yes/No, Yay/Nay, Oui/Non … UNF/URGH!

Well, they say a picture paints a thousand words, so I shall say no more. It’s Miami, it’s tennistical, and IT IS A FASHION-DISASTUHHHH.

64044335


JJ

group

Vika

Vera

ANNAKAY

Vee

Feli

Tsonga

Isn’t it refreshing when a teenager dresses like a teenager? Did Laura Robson get the memo?

Oudin

Hello, I am Sweet Caroline and I just crawled out of a cabbage patch.

Carol

First and last time I’ll say this about Ferrer…

Ferrer

Just the clothes. I swear.

Czechitout

hang on

Swuss

udderly awesome

swisscheese

wally

suitedwodge

(Watermarked photos courtesy of Tennis Panorama)