Pfft. You bastard.
It was five sets of scintillating tennis. For two sets, Fed seemed absolutely untouchable, and the inevitable beatdown seemed...inevitable. Realizing that continuing to play within his comfort zone would only lead to another third-set whacking, Gilles stepped it up and reminded everyone why was 2-0 against Roger and has the ability to beat anyone on any given day. For the remainder of the match he would walk the tightrope of going for winners while still playing patiently and intelligently.
It worked. Fed's groundies began to let him down and the rallies evolved into mini-games of Chicken. The two would softball back and forth, changing angles and spins, until one decided to pull the trigger, which led to a mad scramble to see who could come up with the more ridiculous get and winner. Little Chicken Legs would take the next two sets, rather shockingly, and force a deciding fifth. The shot-making, the movement, and scrambling was jaw-dropping. Check out the highlight reel. You won't be sorry.
But all it takes against Fed is one bad game, one bad point, and for Gilles, after running around for three hours, the fatigue and the pressure would cause some rough misses in that last set to give Fed the break he needed to finally serve it out. Gilles made him earn it for sure, saving four match points (serving to stay in, he dug out of 0-40 hole to hold) before Fed finally ended it on an ace.
Afterwards, Gilles was, as he always is, thoughtful and good-humored. When asked whether he could take positives out of the way he was able to play Fed he said yes but cursed the draw, bummed that he was playing well, had a chance to make a run here, but drew Fed in the second round. "The problem is that I left second round. Tomorrow you will forget it," he said with a chuckle to no one in particular.
Forget it? How could we forget it? Just like Ana you fought valiantly, showed so much heart, and went down swinging, beaten by the better player on that day.
Never forget, people. Never forget.
(Pics: Getty, Reuters)