Gauloises at New Balls, Please go to watch the Elf/Fed match from a corporate box at O2. And her writeup is pretty damn awesome. So for all your Elf/Fed "WTF was that???" needs, read her post.
I mean, really, people.
It's also easy to heap criticism when you're not a fan. If you're an anti-Rafa KAD, then sure, this is a pretty glorious time for you. You get to heap all the revenge on him for all the Chicken Little heaping that Fed endured last season. I was looking through my high school yearbook a few weeks ago and had to laugh at one of my senior quotes: "When your opponent is drowning, throw the asshole an anvil." All that is to say, I get it. Hell, I did to Fed last year.
So this note goes out to the Rafa fans, of which I count myself one of, though I don't think I'm as "big" of a fan as a lot of people. You guys need to CALM DOWN. I have no doubt that many Rafa Fans have engaged in their own amount of critique, speculation, doom and gloom, not because they don't like Rafa, but because of self-preservation. You lower expectations in order to protect yourself from what may (or may not) happen. All fandoms do this. I'm an AnaKAD. You think I haven't engaged in self-preservational behavior for the past year? If I didn't I'd probably be in a K-hole right now (probably crying on Curtis' shoulder).
What has happened to Rafa isn't unprecedented. He always falls off the ledge at the end of the season. Let's not forget, last season he was so hurt he couldn't play the Davis Cup final in Argentina. This season has been even more troublesome because of serious injuries that prevented him from defending his Wimbledon title. But he always bounces back. Last fall there were just as many articles about Rafa's broken down body and the impact of his style of play over the long haul. What happened?
This. This happened.
He came to Australia with new aggressive hard court game that saw him fight through Fer and Fed in two epic matches. And let's not forget about Fed. Think about his year from May 08 to May 09. But he healed up, sorted out his head and his personal life, and now he's King of the World. History is on Rafa's side. He's is an amazingly talented player who is only 23. 23!!!
Things change in this sport. And great champions. Find a way. Just ask this guy:
So cut the guy some slack, media, enemies, and fans. No more doom and gloom. Just close the book on this year (a year that he dominated for 5 months) and look forward to next year. Cuz it's gonna be FUN.
It was indeed Kick and Ginger day in London and Fed was happy to oblige.
After playing a pretty crap first set, (no aces, 5 winners, 13 UFEs), Fed raised his level and started attacking Muzz's second serve and, really, anything short. The difference was that he was actually making the shots, whereas in the first set he was spraying them everywhere. After taking the second set 63, he blew Muzz of the court 61. The win locks up the year end #1 rank.
Tough one for Muzz. He can still make the semis with a win over Fer and get another crack at Fed if he makes the final. As for Fed, oddly, he's still on the bubble to qualify. If Elf beats him in 2 and Muzz beats Fer in 2, Fed's out because of the sets won/lost differential. That makes Thursday mildly interesting.
Don't worry, folks. Dina's still alive.
(Pics from 200 Proof)
Fed vs. Muzz. This will either be a Fed blowout or a tight three set win for Muzzard.
I'm leaning towards the former.
Day Session 12.30 pm GMT (7.30 am ET)
Bhuapthi/Knowles vs. Fyrstenberg/Matkowski
Del Potro vs. Verdasco
Night Session 7 pm GMT (2 pm ET)
Nestor/Zimonjic vs. Cermak/Mertinak
Federer vs. Murray
Well that was an up and down match, but thoroughly enjoyable. It was a shame one of them had to lose.
The first set was all Kolya, as he was dictating play and Nole looked a bit rusty.
In the second set, Nole raised his level and Kolya dropped his.
And the last set was pure fun. Nole broke ahead with the early break before Kolya played a GREAT game to break back to 5-5. But from there Kolya would flinch and drop the next two games.
But it all doesn't matter. Because this happened:
I can't wait for the day when the guys realize that the truest, purest form of sportsmanship is exchanging shorts.
Well-played match by The Evil One. Rafa was discombobulated and definitely failed to keep colm through the match. It's a tough loss for Rafa for a lot of reasons but I just can't get over his refusal to challenge that line call on game point at 4-5 in the first set. Serving at 40-30, Rafa hit an ace that was called a fault. He thought about challenging but didn't. Replays showed the ball was in, which would have given him the hold at 5-5. Instead, the game went to deuce and Sod won the next two points to take the set. I'm definitely not saying Rafa would have won, but boy that hold would have made a huge difference.
Afterwards, Rafa was, as always, frank about his performance:
"I didn't play really bad. But in the important moments, I didn't have this calm, this necessary calm, to win these matches against the best players of the world."
"If you want to still talk about me (being) No. 1, I can, but I think is not the right moment. My level right now I think is not to be No. 1."
So, you know, nice win, Sod. You're still a piece of shit.
Tennis Erectile Dysfunction, aka T.E.D: A common men's health problem characterized by the consistent inability to sustain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse or the inability to achieve ejaculation, or both, but like, in a tennis way. Impotence can vary. It can involve a total inability to achieve an erection or ejaculation, an inconsistent ability to do so, or a tendency to sustain only very brief erections, but like, in a tennis way. Tennis Erectile dysfunction is also called impotence. But like, in a tennis way.
Poor Fer. He shows not just flashes of brilliance, but good sustained brilliance. But it seems like even in those cases where he's brilliant for 99% of the match, there will always be *that* double fault. He wasn't brilliant for 99% today. But he played well-enough to win, I thought. But after dropping the second set 5-7, Fer would get 'sticked by this guy:
I'm bummed for Fernando. He had a really good shot of *finally* getting that big scalp that he needed to really legitimate his year. Think about how many epic amazing, tight matches he's had against the top guys this year. But other than his win over Muzz at AO, he's always flinched at the end. You need to get something for that T.E.D., Fer. It's getting embarrassing for everyone involved.
As for Fed, he's almost guaranteed that he'll end the year at #1. As I understand it, Fed would have to lose every match from here on out and Rafa would have to run the table and win to get the #1 ranking.
My feelings can be expressed by both Mirka and Mama Fed:
Well the hometown boy (not really, I mean, he's Scottish) didn't fuck up on the first day. So there's that.
The match went pretty much as expected. Andy was able to control the points early before Elfie got his forehand grooving. They would split the first two sets and then Andy simply outlasted Elf, taking it 63 36 62.
Play on, Playa.
Top dubs seeds Nenad and Danny dropped their opening match in straight sets to the Polish team of Fyrstenberg and Matkowski, 64 64. If Nena and Danny had won all their round robin matches, they would have guaranteed a year-end #1 ranking. As it is, the Bry Bros now have a shot.
In the other dubs match of the day, this happened:
I don't want to talk about it.
According to this Dutch article, Flavi was photographed cavorting with Ruud Gullit, a Dutch football coach and former player. Apparently the dude's marriage (to his third wife) is on the rocks.
I don't know if I believe this one. On one hand, how the hell does a Dutch footballer know Flavi? On the other hand, of course she would find the guy who coined the term "sexy football."
Thanks to RevAll for tweeting the link.
But where are the top hats and monocles? Talk about a missed opportunity.
Either that or this is a brilliant viral marketing campaign by Planters, a la this.
Ok, I'll stop fawning but I love love LOVE the ties the ATP made for them. The hunter green and grey? Swoony McSwoonerson over here.
Aaaaaand I've stopped swooning. Thanks, BonerKillerer.
I will say this about Fed. I'm glad he's procreating so that he can pass on that head of hair.
Ahem. No kids yet for Kolya. No coincidence I'm sure.
I wonder if Simon Fuller, at some point, will drug Muzz, throw him into the back of a van, drive him to some dark alley, and get a one eyed Asian dentist in a wheelchair to fix his teeth. Because boy, those things ruin a lot of pics. That said, they're also why I love him. I know, I'm not right in the head.
Rafa looks so different from picture to picture. Does the dampness of his hair make *that* much of a difference?
It's weird to see Andy actually look bigger than Rafa.
Oh yeah. This guy.
The first question is, collar or no collar?
According to Boyfriend's Twitter feed, Nole will be leaving Adidas and moving to Sergio Tacchini for 2010. First of all, PHEW! It's not K Swiss, which had been floating around as a possibility. Second, more promo pics with Flavia!
Third, does anyone find all the switches by Muzz and Nole odd? I'm still a bit shocked that Andy would leave Fred Perry to go to Adidas. Obviously, that's a money grab. Adidas had to know that they couldn't have both Nole and Andy on the payroll, so they had to pick. Given the state of the game and the huge opportunity in the UK market, it's not surprising that they chose Muzz. It's a shame though. They spent a lot of money developing Nole's Falcon line. As for Muzz, I would have wanted him to stay with Fred Perry. Keep things in the family. But his new management at 19 Entertainment is trying to elevate him to Beckham levels. So the move makes sense.
As for Nole, while I think he'll look great in Sergio (very clean, very simple, well-tailored stuff) I'm really going to miss him in his Adidas gear. I always thought Nole had the best kits of the Big 4 because Adidas really made him look like a professional athlete. Fed looks like he's going golfing, Rafa either looks like he's going golfing or he's wearing something on a dare, and Muzz looks like he's going to water the lawns at Wimbledon. Sergio Tacchini, unless they start designing things differently, is going to make Nole look like a golfer. A classy golfer, but a golfer nonetheless. I'm guessing that since Tommy wears the collared stuff, Nole will get the crew shirts. Which again...look blah.
Last point, I've seen and felt Sergio gear and they definitely don't employ a sweat-wicking/cooling fabric equivalent to Dri-Fit or Climacool. Given our boy's tendencies to overheat, this could be an issue.
If Shanghai made the boys look like Hitmen, London has turned them all into the most mischievous group of prep school kids this side of Manhattan. And I LOVE it.
The battle for Class President begins here.
Nice to see Rafa's hair decided to dry for this pic.
The faves. Or so "they" say.
Not sure why I can't find his stock picture. Did someone arrive a little late to the party?
The WTF Draw. Should be interesting.
Tough call on who this will play out. But in the end, I think Rafa has a damn rough draw given his form. But I'm excited to see Muzz/Fed. Will Fed decide to win or lose? I mean, it's all up to him, right?
As for Muzz, that's a pretty good "revenge" draw for him. What better way to get the crowd into it?
As for Dubs...
Then I saw 14 year old Andy. You go on with your bad self, you gangly Scot.
Oh, Fed. Just when I had decided to lay off you for a while...
Yes, as an attacking player the game is in your hands. UNLESS the "defensive" player doesn't allow you to attack. I'm not saying Fed is wrong. But JESUS, it just sounds so offensive the way he chooses to phrase it.
However, Federer believes he copes with opponents like Murray better than he did in his early days against men like Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian. "I had a lot of trouble against those baseliners early on just because they were too consistent. They could always get one more ball back. Maybe they didn't have the best serve, but I wasn't the best return player, so I couldn't take advantage. My serve wasn't solid enough yet, so I would always get tangled up in those horrible baseline rallies.
"Murray can still do that to some degree, but when I play too well or too offensively I can take time away from him now. And I'm too physical, whereas in the beginning I couldn't do that. I couldn't get around backhands like I can now. Now I can mix up my game too well for him to get under my skin.
"I know what I can do and I know what he can do. When we both play well it's a close match, but I always feel it's the attacker who holds the key to success, so it's up to me whether I win or lose, not up to him. That's why I don't mind the match-up, to be honest.
"It's like when [Pete] Sampras and [Andre] Agassi played. Agassi was more aggressive [than most counter-attackers], but still Sampras held the key because he was serving, pushing the limits, taking the risks. Which Murray doesn't do so much – though that doesn't take anything away from Murray. That's just his game style.
"I just flew here all the way from Paris and boy are my arms tired."
Last night, The Russian Cup awards were held to honor our favorite crazy Russians. Kolya was honored as Tennis Player of the Year (5th straight year as the top Russian player), Dina for Achievement of the Year (possibly for that whole #1 brouhaha but more likely for surviving the year without killing herself), and Sveta for Success of the Year (likely for this pic...or RG).
But the man of the hour was The Marat, who received yet another farewell. Go To Tennis has a pretty great Google-Translate of the festivities.
Not just any sentence. The first sentence.
That's just infuriating and a slap in the face to tennis fans. No one, and I mean NO ONE, would consider the 09 final the Greatest Match Ever, *especially* given the fact that it came on the heels of, oh, THE ACTUAL GREATEST MATCH OF ALL TIME. Shit, it wasn't even a good final. Most everyone that I know who watched thought the actual match was boring as shit, but the drama that built as they kept holding serve was what made it fun.
Oh, and by the way, if you're going to call it the Greatest Match Ever, shouldn't you be nominating the guy who actually won the match?
Fail, Albert Chen. So much fail.
Augh. Marat retires, Goth Bols gets married, and now Janko is engaged.
He proposed to his girlfriend, TV presenter Biljanu Šešević while on vacation in the Maldives.
Thanks to Funkadelic for the link.
It's obviously a bit of a slow news week as we wait for the Elite Eight to descend on London. Rumor is that A-Rod will withdraw due to his lingering injuries and if he does then General Sod will replace him. It seems wrong if Andy doesn't compete. Both he and Sod were integral players in the ATP 2009 story.
Thankfully, instead of just living with dead air, tennis journos who, you know, actually have access to players, did a bit of digging over the past few weeks to give us some new and interesting articles on Rafa and Fed.
In Rafa's interview, he talks "openly" about the effect of his parents' divorce on his mentality and how up and down this season has been:
Federer overcame his French Open neurosis to win his 14th grand slam while, three weeks later, he achieved his record-breaking 15th victory at Wimbledon. "It was a hard moment for me," Nadal admits. "I can't play Wimbledon and it's my favourite tournament. I also lost at Roland Garros and I have a few personal problems. So everything coming together made it hard."
Nadal's gaze remains steady as he recounts the source of that turmoil. "My parents' divorce made an important change in my life. It affected me. After that, when I can't play Wimbledon, it was tough. For one month I was outside the world."
Nadal looks terribly young amid that quiet admission. "I am OK now," the 23-year-old says of his parents' divorce, "but you need time to accept. And it's more difficult to accept when you are outside home and don't know what's happening. At least the injury gave me time to be with my friends and family."
He also gave a rather extensive interview that was translated and summarized over at GoToTennis.com.
The Times Online caught up with Roger in Basel and the interview itself is quite good, though the actual writing by Paul Kimmage is haaaaahrible. Was this necessary?
He did not marry a supermodel (Roddick). He does not make fun of his rivals (Novak Djokovic) or pick continually at the crack in his backside (Nadal). He has worse fashion sense than Andy Murray.
But the interview is interesting insofar as it gives Fed the opportunity to process not just 2009, but his entire career. Interestingly, he had this to say about his famous "God, it's killing me" quote:
“That quote . . . was seen the wrong way. The thing that was killing me was having to talk while crying. What I meant was, ‘I wish I could stop crying and could talk normally and give Rafa the stage he deserves and not make everybody feel so bad [for me]’. This was upsetting me more than having lost the match. The last thing I wanted was for people to feel bad for me. I played a great tournament. I was happy with the way I played. I wish I would have won, but I had to accept, and accepted without a problem, that Rafa was better on that day. So it was [misinterpreted].
“I left the court and went on holiday and came back and heard all these things like, ‘He started crying . . . He’s gone . . . This is it . . . The downfall’, and I was like, ‘What?’ I have been crying after losing matches since I was five years old, so to have cried after the loss of a Grand Slam final was normal for me, but there was this big fuss that I didn’t understand. It was almost amusing how it was taken out of proportion.”
Sure, there will be some who'll say he's trying to revise history. But I actually buy this explanation, if for no other reason than that he admits he's a total crybaby and he cries all the time. Hee.
Rafa and Fed both have a chance to end the year at #1 given their results in London. If Fed finishes #1 that'll be expected, but if Rafa finishes #1, wow, what a crazy year.
Remember what JJ the Oracle said: Year End #1 is all that matters.
Bepa, with the assistance of the WTA, has launched an official site. Yay!
In her first diary she talks about her ankle surgery, desire to visit Cuba, and yes, she's still with Sam! Yay!
Man, that's two "yays" in one Bepa post. Something ain't right.
Be sure to doink around her site. There are some gems. Like these:
Look! WTAers like to read!
You're welcome, boys.
Ana at a Zira promotion in Belgrade last month.
The slap bracelets are killing me.
And we know how much she loves recycling outfits. Here she is rocking the boho look in Singapore with Adam "Miami Vice" Scott. If he's Crockett then that would make Ana....
For the second straight week, Nole spoiled the hometown celebration, eeking out a three set win over the local favorite, 62 57 76(3).
This match really could have gone either way. Nole dominated for a set and half before coming back to earth and letting LaMonf come back to take the second set. Nole would dart out to a 4-1 lead in the third before losing his game for a bit and LaMonf took advantage, breaking back and forcing a deciding tiebreak, much to the loud cheers of the Paris crowd.
But in the end, Nole showed a maturity that I haven't seen in a long time. Instead of losing his head after losing his lead, he recomposed himself and played a solid tiebreaker, taking it 7-3 on a LaMonf double fault.
In the end, it seemed like this result meant a lot to both. To Gael for performing well in front of the home crowd and electrifying them with the game that we have come to love and hate, and Nole, who picked up his 5th title of the season, second title in a row, and first Masters of the season.
So everyone was in a pretty good mood.
Obviously Nole's got all the momentum going into London. And given his party pooping ways, you gotta like him if he plays Muzz in London. But who knows how much he has in the tank. That said, he was absolutely revelatory this week, playing with confidence and precision. Hats off, Falcon!
Perfect. Well, at least for a set and a half, he was.
I mean, wow. This match was an amazing reminder of what Nole can do when he's firing on all cylinders. As Rafa acknowledged after the 62 63 loss, he didn't play poorly. Nole was just *that* good. I was giggling like schoolgirl watching some of the winners he came up with. Keep it going, Falcon!
Nole won't have the crowd behind him for the final, as LaMonf outlasted Radek in a 64 57 64 win. Nole should take this but you just never know with Gael. Unpredictable, that one.
Oh, and before I forget, Nole and Rafa's wins in the quarterfinals guaranteed the 8th WTF spot to FeVer. Get your chastity belts out, London. Papa's come to play.
But all the talk of "talent spotting" and "detection" immediately made me think of this:
Anxious to get home to Kim, I see.
A tired Muzz fell to Steps in three, 16 63 64. Hungover from the Marat celebrations, perhaps?
For better or worse, Andy wasn't the only seed to fall today, as Kolya and FeVer both lost. The good news for Kolya? Fer's loss guarantees Kolya the 7th spot in London. So watch out, ladies. Kolya's coming to London and he's...oh, Irina's coming too? Uh, nevermind.
Fernando's in a tougher position. He'll have to see how Paris plays out to determine his fate. If I read the ATP's chart right, Fer is eliminated if Sod makes the finals, or if Jo wins the tournament. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
We get it. You're a fighter. A bull. Ain't nobody gonna hold you down.
Seriously, you don't have to prove it every.fucking.day.
Rafa saved one match point to survive an inspired day from Tommy. Poor, poor Tommy. He still hasn't been able to beat Rafa, and this was probably his best chance.
Rafa being Rafa, still found a way to find the positives:
"The better new is I didn't play my best but I played much better than yesterday," said Nadal. "I felt the ball much better than yesterday. For moments, I felt I have the control of the ball. I have the chance to play big rallies without having mistakes. So that's very important for me."
Well he better find his game quick because he faces Jo tomorrow. And Jo is looking good, even though he had to oust the hobbled Chicken today.
Gotta love it.
On this week's FD Podcast, we wrap up the WTA insanity, debate whether Roger cares about the non-Slams, re-evaluate (through tears) Marat's career, and I relent and actually discuss Meth-Gate.
And Victoria and I crush some Tecate. Yeah, that's right. We can multitask like you wouldn't believe.