I didn't watch the match. Part of it was tennis fatigue, part of it was Moose-related depression, but most of it was the fact that I find Fed/Rafa matches played outside of a Slam to be the opposite of riveting. I'll tune into their matches on clay because I just love clay-court tennis, but otherwise, meh. The hype is always deafening, the hyperbole mind-blowing, and the quality tends to be rather disappointing.
I don't mean this to be a knock on Rafa and Fed. I actually think that if I could watch the match on mute and not read or hear any journo or fan commentary in the days and hours leading up to the match I actually might enjoy it. I mean, they're both very good tennis players. Two of the greatest. Simple science would indicate that a match between the two of them should be riveting stuff.
But I'm a hater. I'm a contrarian. And if I have to listen to hundreds of people tell me that "IT DOESN'T GET BETTER THAN THIS!" then I'll pretty much throw up a middle finger and tell them to shut the fuck up. I won't tolerate any "IF YOU DON'T LIKE THIS, YOU DON'T LIKE TENNIS" proclamations. I will not stand for any insinuation that just because these two guys are on the court, it is the best match of the week, let alone the last six months.
I'm not saying I'm right and I'm not saying it's mature. I'm just saying this is how I feel. Please don't shove this rivalry down my throat. Please don't hype one storyline (FED HAS TO WIN THIS MATCH TO REMAIN RELEVANT) only so your story pitch works either way (FED'S STILL RELEVANT! FED'S TOAST!).
It was a match, played at a tournament that is not a Grand Slam, at the end of the year, after Fed had gone 21-2 since the USO and picked up two indoor trophies. Fed hadn't dropped a set all week and looked sharp. Rafa was forced to scrap through two three-set matches, one of which was the best three setter of the year just yesterday.
The result? Not surprising. Fed never went anywhere. He's the #2 player in the world for a reason. He won a Slam this year and he is *always* part of the conversation. He hasn't gone anywhere and this rivalry will be relevant until Fed retires.
So congrats to Fed. He bookends his 2010 season with a couple of significant titles and reminds all the idiots who have forgotten -- seriously, who are these people, where are they, and why do journos and fans keep referencing them? -- that he should be feared in 2011.
(Pics: Getty, AFP)