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The Problem-Attacker 02/05/2008 - 3:44 PM

[All photos by our very own Rosangel! - PB]

You know who I've been thinking about a lot lately? Rafael Nadal. I suppose this is because of the progress Novak Djokovic made over the past eight or so months, as well as the degree to which Jet Boy has been spinning his wheels over the same period.

Rafa5_3So how big does Roger Federer's win at Wimbledon last July look now? To me, plenty big - if not as a career-shaping encounter then as a huge missed opportunity for Nadal. I'm open to the idea that Rafa hasn't been quite the same player since that loss.  Certain matches stay with a player much like a lingering cough or cold sometimes remains with us so long that we forget what it's like not to have it.

To attribute Nadal's results in the second half of  last season, and so far in this one, to that Wimbledon final would be presumptuous, unless Jet Boy indicated otherwise. But unlike, say, Federer's recent loss to The Djoker in Australia, there's some distance now between us and that Wimbledon final. It looms fairly large in the rear view mirror, although it's more useful as a reference points for events of the recent past than as a predictor for future ones.

Anyway, I've been thinking that Jet Boy is in a bind. A pattern has been emerging over the past few years, and it suggests that Rafa isn't as well designed to compete in an 11-month season as in a six- month one. Throw in Rafa's increasingly frequent struggle with injury and the case becomes even more persuasive. The long year presents special problems for a player whose game is nothing if not "effortful" and whose zest for combat denies him the use of cruise control.

I wrote some time ago that Nadal is a child of the sun and south, while TMF is a man of the chill and hard north. I stand by that, and believe that the actions and sensibilities of both men bear that out. We are each the sum of history, of particular times, places and antecedents, albeit subject to subversion to greater or lesser degrees - and with greater or lesser consequences.

In an earlier era still dominated by Anglo venues, values and game theory, Nadal would have been deemed a "novelty" - an exotic, volatile, idiosyncratic and unorthodox challenger who was as formidable in his natural environment as a leopard on the veld, but as lost on unfamiliar turf as that same leopard in the boreal forest. The game once was choc-a- bloc with such characters, right into the early Open era. You could call them "provincial" contenders ("provincial" really being more about surface and surroundings than specific geography; remember that for a long time European clay was considered an aberration). Of course, when the "provincial" contenders made the long trip abroad, they often floundered. So let me ask you this: if you had to cast TMF and Nadal as the city mouse and country mouse, is there any doubt over who would play who?

We resist this kind of thinking today for fear of causing offense and stereotyping. We also like to think of tennis as a "one world, one game" enterprise, dedicated to a level global playing field. This reinforces certain strivings for "fairness," never mind the big theme of the brotherhood of man. So we conveniently forget that a playing field is only level in a meaningful way if the athletes bring the same skills and mind-set to it.  Of course, man certainly is more adaptive than a leopard (and you underestimate the powers of a leopard in any environment at your peril). But it's easier to understand people if you see them through the naturally imposed filters.

Hence, Rafa's clay-court game is still a clay-court game, even when it's played on grass, just as a leopard is a leopard even if it kills a stag on an Alpine peak - something of which a leopard is more than capable. The hard bits for the leopard are navigating the foreign terrain and habits of its prey, and whatever degree of instinctual confusion it experiences while so doing.

Rafa4_3Okay, that's a pretty highfalutin' comparison. There are on-the-ground aspects to consider as well. Practically speaking, all players are subject to conditioning, which is why it's usually important for them to establish winning traditions on various surfaces or at a variety of venues early in their careers. Nadal has accomplished this, on a large scale, with his Wimbledon performances and Masters shields.

Yet you could argue that Jet Boy has achieved that mainly on the strength of his fighting spirit and exuberant athleticism; in this interpretation, those have overrun the built-in controls and determinants. In theory, Nadal should not fare nearly as well as he has on those faster surfaces, but then the New York Giants weren't supposed to win the Super Bowl. One of the main reasons we love sports is because of their potential for sedition; we love to see theory ruined and expectations blown up. It tends to reinforce our hope that anything is possible in a way that poses no threat to our equally strong conviction and hope that it is not.

One critical aspect of Nadal's nature is that the non-clay tournaments in which he does well tend to be different from the clay events in which he shines only in the particulars having the most to do with technique and strategy - areas that are of lesser importance to Nadal's genius than others. That is, he does well at events that suit him, in some temperamentally  rather than purely technical way.

Nadal's performance at Wimbledon last year was impressive to me because he kept his desire and spirits up despite the rain and gloom, not because he managed to cobb together a passable game to go with his mental and emotional strengths. The further Nadal gets from the warmth of the sun, the breezes that wash over a court, and the smell of freshly watered clay, the less well he does. Come the Paris Indoors, and he's a mess of conflicting signals - never a good thing for a predator. I think he responds to environment in as significant a way as he does to surface speed, and I know that's a pretty radical notion.

The most puzzling aspect of Rafa's resume is his relatively poor performances at the sunny, warm, colorful US Open. But in this, he's similar to many other players who are essentially provincial. The American major has proven to be a formidable stumbling block for many players from outside the U.S., and often for reasons obviously having nothing to do with the surface - and everything to do with the full menu of New York's famed distractions. In fact, Roger Federer's ability to overcome the habitual European fear of the American challenge is a particularly powerful testament to his versatility and underscores the degree that he has transcended whatever provincial urges once defined him. His most valuable asset in that regard has been his cool temperament; he took measure of the event and then tailored his approach and game to ensure a good fit.

TMF is a problem-solver; Rafa is a problem-attacker.

That suggestion may ring true for those of you who are familiar with all those studies about how little boys tend to try to break through walls while little girls are more likely to navigate around them. Nadal's greatest strength, as well has his most outstanding weakness, is his boyishness. This is a lingering condition that all but defines him to many of us. It is why so many people love him, and why disliking him has always seemed to me a little like disliking a kid brother. Rafa is the Little Engine that Could, never mind that he what he "could" do is blast a tennis ball through your forehead with such force that it would leave a volleyball-sized exit wound on the back of your skull.

But for all his bellicose instincts (does anyone else spank the ball as gleefully as Jet Boy?), he continues to engage us with incredible charm and insouciance. We all know how Uncle Toni insists that Rafa not get a swelled head - that Toni makes Rafa carry his own bags, and has him sweep the court after practice. We all know that the photo ops of Nadal tend to produce images of Rafa blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, surrounded by Spanish journalists in some press room, rather than shots of him with a dude all in black on one side, and a ranking fashionista on the other.

Rafparis_3 Nadal has resisted, or is impervious to, sophistication. If Federer is the game's ambassador to the world, Rafa is its poster boy; frankly, I'm amazed that nobody has come up with a comic strip character based on Nadal yet; instead of lugging around a football or a security blanket, he could drag around a tennis racket. We love TMF for his skill, we love Jet Boy for his exuberance. If there is a caveat to that, it's this: Going forward, it may be increasingly difficult for Rafa to rely on exuberance (and in him, even his stamina, strength and will seem subordinate to it) to the same degree he has so far in his career.

What got me thinking along these lines has been Djokovic's progress. Another man of northern inclinations, Djoker has matured as a player at an amazing rate. I get the sense that he's measured up his mission with a cold eye and concluded, "I can do this. This is what I need to do to make this happen." Yet when I try to come up with a comparably simple (and perhaps simplistic) formulation for Nadal, I come up only with: "I go and play my game and I fight, we see what happen, no?"

That approach is disarmingly honest and touching. And like any child - or, in this case, manchild - Nadal does "touching" very well. I'm not suggesting that Nadal would benefit from an intensive course of Tennis Technique and Strategy, 101. It's too late for that, and the elements at play here go much deeper. The boyishness of Nadal, which has always been such a great source of his appeal, may also hold him back. A comparison with Bjorn Borg seems in order here. Borg, at 16, played like he was 23, and at 25 he played like he was 23. Nadal at 16 played like he was 18, and at 21 he plays like he's 18.

Of course, you can reduce the line items on Nadal's resume to X's and O's. Sure, he could flatten out his forehand, play more from inside the court on hard courts and really force the action. But it would be naive to assume that Nadal and his team haven't thought about that; it's more likely that Nadal's game has changed so little because: a: it works, and, b: he has a temperamental disposition to play the way he does.

Hail, at some deep level, he may enjoy playing the way he does too much to bother with all the rest of it. Leave that to the "students of the game" and to those who are more inclined to calculation. This kid is having fun in a way he has not outgrown yet.

Whatever the case, Nadal is only 21, and - injury aside - he's got plenty of time to figure things out. I've always liked my youth young, if you know what I mean.


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Posted by de-lurking 02/05/2008 at 09:10 PM

Margaret, right on! Your 7:20 post is excellent and a breath of fresh air.

How anyone can consider Rafael Nadal unsophisticated is beyond me. The guy comes from a fine, educated family and travels all over the world as a top echelon professional tennis player. He's got more than his share of world-class experiences and sophistication. Dressing like little Lord Fauntleroy and touting yourself endlessly seems to pass here as a sign of cosmopolitan sophistication.

As for his so-called poor hard court season, how could anyone with eyes or a brain have expected anything different. Nadal's knee was badly injured at Wimbledon from being driven mercilessly, playing day after day without rest while Federer, chosen to win Wimbledon via the orchestrated wearing out of his semifinal and final opponents, lolled around and rested on his laurels. The knee was a factor in all of Nadal's matches for the rest of the year and prevented him from winning Wimbledon (which he deserved much more than the pampered, grossly favored and prissy Federer). That also dashed any chances Nadal would have at the U.S. Open or year-end championships (not to mention preventing him from being any threat to Federer).

Nadal has gone further and done better at the Aussie Open than he ever has before but all you hear is how he's not improving.

A far more interesting issue is how quickly Federer is going to slide from the top position, given that he didn't truly win the Wimbledon title and he escaped from a beating by Djokovic at the U.S. Open solely because Djoko was still too raw and afraid to take the title he could have had easily had he not choked repeatedly after getting the upper hand. Fortunately for tennis, Djokovic matured enough not to let Roger escape another time.

It's just a shame that Roger Federer is such a sore loser that he's spent so much time after the match pretending he wasn't really beaten and getting people to release reports of how "sick" he was despite the fact that more than a week before the tournament he pronounced himself fit as a fiddle. I think it's a first in the men's game - someone pretending after the fact to have been sick once they lost a grand slam final.

Again, nice post Margaret, and thanks for injecting some sense into the discussion.

Posted by Lucius the Luscious 02/05/2008 at 09:13 PM

CM - We were just comparing my feelings towards Fed ( I know I should love him, but don't, like him, just don't LOVE him) and Rafa (love him and I can't explain why) to the dating analogy. I think neither one would be good to date, since 1) the are both very single minded and 2) they are rarely home! But I do see your point. Polite, handsome, rich, polished, and 'the nicest guy ever'....not so bad!

LL

Posted by beth 02/05/2008 at 09:15 PM

Lucius - know what you mean about watching tennis when you allready know the outcome
I cannot stay awake all hours of the night and day - so I tend to watch the matches on tivo and post later

CM - I see what you mean about Rafa - other than his looks he really is not the 'bad boy' type - but at least IMO - he is not vanilla white bread either . I do find Roger bland and uninteresting as a personality. Sorry - he is exactly the kind of guy my mom tried to push at me . and I never fell for those.
Anyway - it was just an analogy for why I don't get all excited about Roger , even though I can see he has many good qualities

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 02/05/2008 at 09:16 PM

Beth,

I'm afraid I have to side with CM on this one. I don't dislike Rafa, but if I had to choose which one to date, it's Roger hands down. In fact, he is my current boyfriend. He just doesn't know it. LOL (So much less complicated that way.)

I never gravitated toward the bad boys. If you know any polite, well-mannered, sophisticated, smart, single men ... send 'em my way. :)

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 09:17 PM

gee de-lurking...can your Fed hate get any more obvious? Saying Roger didn't deserve his Wimbledon win is about the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Roger deserved to win Wimbledon and the US Open and TMC. Rafa totally deserved his FO win. And Djokovic totally deserved his AO win. Go somewhere else and eat your sour grapes...

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 02/05/2008 at 09:18 PM

Hart,

LOL! I'll have to add that to my checklist. It's time I learned to drive one of those things, right? :)

Posted by RedTennis 02/05/2008 at 09:18 PM

Tari..Thanks for the welcome..I always read all the articles and posts and I'm starting to get into posting. It is nice to have a tennis community to discuss with real tennis fans who know, love and appreciate the sport.

Margaret...I wouldnt write Fed off so quickly. He won both Wimbeldon and the UP, and he was sick before the AO. I agree though that I was a little disappointed in him using that as an excuse. After all Djoko did play well...It wasn't exactly a fluke that he won.
Anyway I still count on Fed winning in Miami..and then later in Wimbeldom

Posted by abbey 02/05/2008 at 09:19 PM

i'd love to comment first before i read the rest of the posts.

i love, love, love it, pete. i was doubtful at the start but i think you've pretty much nailed it. as a fan, you've also hit the reasons why i was drawn to him (it brought tears to my eyes ;)). the worrying part is that i think we're starting to see a bit of the exuberance and insouciance wear off. although i also tend to think that that's cyclical, and he'll get those back once the pressure of getting to no. 1 or retaining no. 2 goes away.

and the thing about his style of play on hardcourt...moving forward, hitting flatter forehands, you're right again. of course they know their problems. reading his blog and q&a this ao, he kept getting questions and tips about this. i could sense the irritation (not really the right word, but anyway), in that it's as if the fans assume he doesn't know the problem and that he's not working on it. it does seem more than just a technical issue.

thanks for this post, pete. *goes back up to read the rest of the posts*

Posted by Ren 02/05/2008 at 09:20 PM

"Certain matches stay with a player much like a lingering cough or cold sometimes remains with us so long that we forget what it's like not to have it."

This is an excellent statement, but this state of being sick and not remembering being well, happens only to people in extreme conditions. Almost everybody wants to get rid of a bad cold or worse, of a lingering cough for the desire to feel normal and healthy. And I guess, Nadal is of the latter kind. At this age, his zest for the game is impeccable, and nothing, not even his Wimbledon loss, would remain fixated in his memory to dampen his spirit, much less his desire to achieve!

Posted by beth 02/05/2008 at 09:20 PM

Hart=my son goes to his grandfather's alma mater
and my daughter is applying there
so yeah , gpa is very proud of both

grandpas are special people
mine were terrific

Posted by malimeda 02/05/2008 at 09:21 PM

Being myself an island girl and witnessing first-hand the teen years of a couple of local rich boys, I can totally relate to Rafa's desire to blend in with his old school pals, fishing, swimming, footballing and clubbing. It's a privilege to be accepted and being rich you must not be ostentatious. Islanders are a straightforward lot, anywhere in the world: you have to be simple and open, otherwise they'll shun you. Everybody knows everybody's business, how and why you became rich or poor, what are you having for your dinner, to which madhouse you have committed your loony old aunt, whose underage niece you have shagged etc. When you need help, they help you, but only if they deem you worthy. And young islanders are even more difficult to fool. If Rafa put any rich-boy or celebrity airs, they would just laugh at him and avoid him. And that woman who took him out of his Kia and gave him something to drink at her house after he bumped into a pylon and just sat there all dizzy, she was only too happy to help a kid from the Nadal clan, certainly not some famous tennis player. The Nadals are rich and respected, tennis notwithstanding. The first thing an islander inquires a toddler in the street is, literally translated: "Whose house do you belong to?" There is a bit of a Sicilian in every islander.

Posted by Aussie Ange 02/05/2008 at 09:22 PM

About stick driving in Australia we call it driving a car with gears. Everybody drives a gear car except for me. Also automatic cars are more expensive than gear cars. My gf has a very powerful gear car which is way faster than mine. My sister has just gone back to driving a gear car and she loves it.

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 09:23 PM

***I never gravitated toward the bad boys. If you know any polite, well-mannered, sophisticated, smart, single men ... send 'em my way. :)***
_________

Me either, Tangi. But like I said...I don't see Roger nor Rafa as a 'bad boy'. Both are so polite, gracious, nice, etc.

Posted by Lucius the Luscious 02/05/2008 at 09:24 PM

Beth,

The Aussie Open was a strategical nightmare for me when it came to making sure I didn't see or hear any of the scores before I watched the match. I couldn't even skip ahead and watch the rafa matches because I'm sure at some point they would have mentioned who beat who (or is it whom?). That's why I love the US Open only a 3 hour time difference for me!

LL

Posted by beth 02/05/2008 at 09:26 PM

Tangi-I know you guys love Fed . and that is fine
there is someone for everyone - right ?
I have always been drawn to the bad boys - that is just me -
I married a guy with an edge -my mother thought he was the wrong guy
22 years later - she has come around

I am afraid I don't know that many single men anymore
all of our friends are married or involved in long term relationships
or going threw messy divorces - you sure don't need that

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 09:28 PM

***Margaret...I wouldnt write Fed off so quickly. He won both Wimbeldon and the UP, and he was sick before the AO. I agree though that I was a little disappointed in him using that as an excuse. After all Djoko did play well...It wasn't exactly a fluke that he won.***
_________

Roger has never said he lost because he was sick. He said that Djokovic totally deserved to be in the final. Djokovic played well all tournament and deserved to win period. But I'm getting sick and tired of people saying that Roger blamed illness on the loss - he did not. Now maybe the press wants to push that idea...

Posted by RedTennis 02/05/2008 at 09:30 PM

I love the Fed/Rafa dating analogy

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 02/05/2008 at 09:30 PM

Hi, CM,

Totally agree with your sentiments. Upon closer inspection, Rog/Rafa may have more in common than one might think. :)

Roger has been so focused on holding off Rafa the past few years, it will be interesting to see how adding another foe to the mix affects his approach. I think it might actually make him more relaxed playing Rafa if he's not he only one Roger has to concentrate on. Does that make any sense?

Posted by Lucius the Luscious 02/05/2008 at 09:34 PM

Beth and I never meant Rafa was a bay boy literally. We were equating their tennis style to a personality, Fed style of play is polished, poetic, polite, transcendant (like the guy your mom wants you to date), Rafa style is more smash and grab, wild hair moving all around, with lots of grunting (like the "bad boy" you wanted to date). I think we are BLESSED to have two such seemingly nice guys to represent the sport we love so much.

LL

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 09:34 PM

Tangi, I think Roger and Rafa are much more alike than their KADs want to believe. I sure as heck didn't want to believe it, but I do now. Actually, I see Roger and Rafa as more of a team to keep Djokovic out. Roger has stated that when he loses his #1, he would like to see Rafa have it. And no doubt Rafa wants to keep #2 away from Djokovic...so they have something in common! :)

Posted by Steve 02/05/2008 at 09:35 PM

I would love to make a long comment on this post, going in-depth on your (many) points. However, I'm following the super tuesday coverage so all I have to say is, I sure am glad I get to be witnessing these two, well what the heck throw Novak in there too, do battle with each other over these few years. The contrasting personalities and styles are magnificent to see. Right now, I'd classify myself as more of a Federer fan, but really all three appeal to me in such different ways, that I'm just enjoying the ride.

Posted by beth 02/05/2008 at 09:35 PM

so - Tangi and CM - I am just curious
when your teenage self brought a boy home - and your mom said
"what a nice boy "
you didn't just wince - just a little
and your mom's never tried to fix you up with her friends's sons
even though you thought they were the biggest losers this side of the Mississippi

My mom sure did , and those guys who received her stamp of approval were immediately on my reject pile

that is why I try to refrain from saying too much about the boys Missie likes
I figure if I am too thrilled with them , she will reject them
It sure worked that way with jake - I learned my lesson

Posted by Lucius the Luscious 02/05/2008 at 09:36 PM

I don't have a opinion of Djoker yet, but I can't wait to see you ends up as number one at the end of the year. It's exciting that it's not a foregone conclusion!

LL

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 09:36 PM

LL and Beth...I agree in saying that with their ONCOURT PERSONALITIES...Rafa would be the 'bad boy' and Roger the "nice guy parents would love". But offcourt, they both would be dream dates in my opinion!

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 02/05/2008 at 09:38 PM

Aussie Ange,

A "gear car." That's cute. You stick to your automatic, AA. I need some company. :)

Lucious,

Where do you live? The Olympics are really a nightmare when trying to avoid finding out the results. Someone at work told me that Tara Lipinski beat Michelle Kwan in '98 and it just ruined it for me. I was soooo bummed.

Posted by Lucius the Luscious 02/05/2008 at 09:38 PM

*I see Roger and Rafa as more of a team to keep Djokovic out.* CM - LOVE this! I'd vote for that ticket! Ok, maybe I do have an opinion about Djoker...

LL

Posted by beth 02/05/2008 at 09:38 PM

thank you Lucius
you explained what I was trying to say
with your 9:34 post

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 09:41 PM

Beth, I was the only girl with three brothers and the "golden girl" at that. My brothers were all bad boys so trust me, the last thing I wanted to do was date one. As a matter of fact, I was always nagging my brothers about the way they treated their girlfriends. I always thought their girlfriends were idiots to put up with that kind of treatment. As adults, my brothers are pretty good guys now - thank god.

Maybe because I grew up with three 'bad boys', I learned quickly that it was not something I wanted.

Posted by Lucius the Luscious 02/05/2008 at 09:41 PM

Tangi - I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

CM - OK, I'm trying not to come off like a 12 year old girl, but I will say it. I think both Fed and Rafa are DREAMY! Ok, back to my normal, mature, love tennis for the sport and not the cute boys, self.

LL

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 09:42 PM

What do you know...it's early in the week and we're comparing notes on Rafa and TMF.......:-) I actually have to read through Pete's article here and return with some more commentary.

But first.......

ELI ELI ELI ELI ELI ELI!!!!! EASY E!!!!! WAY TO GO GIANTS!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

Simply amazing everyone. I am a little sad I didn't get to share the experience together but I had a good evening testing my liver once again. At least the eats weren't entirely toxic. The Tomato and Mozzarrella platter I brought to the party won high marks. There were also fantastic stuffed mushrooms, chicken quesadillas, and some trememndous buffalo wings...spicy, but with a little smoky BBQ taste.

Posted by beth 02/05/2008 at 09:43 PM

all right
I have to go eat and head out to a basketball game
missie is cheering tonight
and we have a chance to win and make the playoffs
this is some uncharted territory for our high school
so we are excited about it

talk to you all tomorrow

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 09:45 PM

Good evening Beth, Tangi, CM, Hart, Aussie Ange, and Luscious Lucius...welcome. It appears you have some company regarding your affection towards Rafa and TMF...:-D

Posted by RedTennis 02/05/2008 at 09:45 PM

CM...I wasn't saying he blamed his loss on being sick..but he definetly mentioned it. I also said that Djoko clearly played a great tournanemt and won on his own merit.
I think there has been to much press on te end of Fed when he lost one match in the semis...the truth is no one really knows how much Fed being sick contributed to his loss..but I'm not saying this to discredit Djoko but Fed didn'd play any tune up tournaments before. I guess time will tell..and all these questions will be answered.

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 09:47 PM

***CM - OK, I'm trying not to come off like a 12 year old girl, but I will say it. I think both Fed and Rafa are DREAMY!***
________

I totally understand. I'm old enough to be Roger and Rafa's mother (okay...I would have been an underage mother, but still) and it's so funny how little-girlish I act over Roger. I lost my ability to speak when I met him in Miami the first time!

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 09:47 PM

....and a good evening to you Beth....good luck during the game!

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 02/05/2008 at 09:49 PM

CM,

Isn't it funny how Djoko has emerged as a unifying force for Fed/Rafa fans? :)

Lucious,

I agree ... on court Rafa would be the bad boy of the two. :)

Beth,

Honestly, I was just never a rebellious type. I never looked for trouble, although it seemed to find me. LOL My mother never really liked any of my boyfriends ... the "no one ever measured up" kind of thing. Never tried to set me up with anyone. I think she always worried that I'd get too serious too young. She always encouraged me to be very independent and do my own thing, mostly because she didn't have that opportunity. But it wouldn't have bothered me if she thought one was "nice." It bothered me when she REALLY didn't approve of someone. I was such an easy daughter, Beth. Although I'm not sure she would agree. LOL

Posted by de-lurking 02/05/2008 at 09:52 PM

CM, actually, as you know, the grapes are very very sweet these days. Very sweet. Anyone who really loves tennis has got to be overjoyed at the re-vitalization of men's tennis at this Australian open.

What I don't like is Federer's narcissism, his inability to admit when he's beaten and his repeated lack of sportsmanship. Even at 26 going on 27 he has not learned these lessons. He'd be a lot more likeable if he did but can't expect an old dog to learn new tricks.

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 02/05/2008 at 09:57 PM

Hi TennisRone!

Still on a high? That's awesome! I thought of you when I saw this headline in my hometown paper Monday:

"Packers fans thrilled with Giants' big win"

... "in some ways, the Giants' win was a small victory for Packer backers ... it made their team's overtime loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship Game in Green Bay look less like a fluke."

There was also a nice story about the Giants' kicker giving a ball to a little Packer fan before that game.

So, can I count on you to be nice to my Packers and me next football season? :)

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 09:58 PM

Redtennis, Roger did not blame his loss on the illness. Did he play as well as he can? No, but alot of that was due to Djokovic playing well. The press asked Roger whether his illness prior to the tournament affected him and he said he didn't know...which was true. But he gave all credit to Djokovic.

I honestly don't see what the big deal is. Many times a player might have a nagging illness or injury that affects how well he plays...but that doesn't take away from the fact that the other guy played well and deserved to win. Didn't Rafa say that he might have been tired in the Hamburg final? Which is a legitmate reason since he hadn't lost all clay season! But that did not mean that Roger didn't deserve to win.

Sure Rafa got killed in the Chennai final but everyone knew (even Youznhy) that he had to have been tired from the semi. Didn't Roger's lack of practice and fitness hamper him in the 2005 Shanghai final? Of course it did, but that does not take away from the fact that Nalby played well and won. He deserved to win.

This happens all the time. Luckily neither Roger nor Rafa ever takes away from the guy that won.

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 10:04 PM

de-lurking...obviously your definition of sportsmanship is vastly different from most of the world if you say that Roger doesn't have any. I guess the rest of the players don't know either since they repeatedly vote Roger the "Sportsman of the Year". Roger is always gracious whether he wins or loses. Same with Rafa. Not sure I can say that about Djoker yet. Hopefully he will learn to be more like the #1 and #2 players in the world...maybe then I'll like him better.

Posted by Siggy, waiting for TMF 02/05/2008 at 10:07 PM

Gaaahhh, not the old Roger = hubby; Rafa = lover meme again...! I should know better than to jump into the fray BUUUTTTT... I so dislike binary thinking.. especially when Rog is always cast as the cool and cerebral one (brain, hmmph) while Rafa gets to be earthly and emotional (the heart, darn it!).... who among us prefers reason to feeling, the jury is out!

I would like to point out that I adore Roger because he's so boy-shly GOOOOOFY under the cerebral, sophisticated exterior, thank you very much. Under the "skill" lies a heart, one that beats and palpitates...

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 10:10 PM

Hey Tangi! All I can say is that it would probably be comparable to your taking out the #1 seeded Bears in Chicago for one victory, beating the Cowboys at Dallas (esp. considering Favre's challenges there), and then ending the Denver Broncos undefeated march towards history (only AFC team I could think of you might have a beef with). That combined with the ridiculous scrutiny the Giants have received and the triumph over that is absolutely tremendous.

I think I shared this with you...but you couldn't find a NY fan that was in Green Bay for that game that didn't have a good thing to say about it. Everyone was awed by the experienced and was stunned how cordial everyone was in the parking lot and in the stadium. hopefully they weren't too obnoxious during the game (we have a tendancy of being so...:-)). The #1 rated sports show had a Saturday episode that featured a one hour interview with a local Packers fan he met the night prior. It was a tremendous interview.

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 02/05/2008 at 10:10 PM

Hey Siggy!

Mamma Mia is back in town this week ... I may have to see it again. :)

Roger's beating, palpitating heart makes mine do the same ...

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 10:11 PM

TennisRone...congrats to the Giants. They were definitely the better team that night. They actually were the best team in the playoffs, I think. The Pats were the best team of the regular season, though. I must admit that I was hoping the Pats would win only because I wanted to witness a 19-0 season. I doubt it will ever come that close again and it would have been cool to see.

It's weird...I don't like Belichick at all, but I like Tom Brady. And I feel bad for Junior Seau that at 39 will most likely retire without a SuperBowl...too bad. I'm not a big Giants fan either, but you can't deny that Eli came into his own in a big way during that game. So even though I wanted to see history, I can't feel too bad because the Giants earned it.

Another reason a Pats win would have been nice - to shut up that insufferable Mercury-whoever from the 1972 Dolphins. My gosh, what an egomaniac!!

Posted by abbey 02/05/2008 at 10:11 PM

oh, i have to add that i also think rafa's a great tactician. often overlooked, which is kinda sad for this fan. and the way he remembers points post-match, wasn't agassi like that, too?

*raises hand as someone who drives a stick shift and has only driven stick shift all her life* but i promise, the next time i can buy a car, i'll buy an automatic. traffic's a pain in the butt when driving stick.

and tennisrone, congrats on the giants' win.

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 10:12 PM

***Mamma Mia is back in town this week ... I may have to see it again. :)***

Yeah! I've seen this three times - once in London, once in Las Vegas, and once in Colorado!

Posted by Yummy Prince Fed - Still No. 1 02/05/2008 at 10:18 PM

I am always amazed at the writings of Mr. Pete Bodo. I know I will have to read this article once again to see whether or not I have gotten the nuances in the article. From a first read I tend to agree with what Pete has said, except that I wish to add that if Nadal does change his game it could mean that he may not be as successful as he is now. And while some of us may disagree I think it is fair to say that Nadal is first and foremost a clay court specialist who has amended, rather than changed his game to play on other surfaces. In so saying, I am not sure that his fighting spirit, which is an important element of his game will not ensure that he becomes more successful on other surfaces. Perhaps like you say Pete he may decide that grinding it out day in and day out is not the way to go.

In so saying we look at Novak's game. He has come a long way in 8 months. Does anyone think that his game can improve even more. I am still trying to figure out what is so fantastic about his game. As I had said in a previous post, some players just do nothing for me when I watch them play. Novak is one of them. While I will be sorry to see Fed go, I am not sure there is anyone right now who would be able to get into the hearts and minds of fans the way he has, which leads me to my next point - does anyone believe that any of the up and comers who have been up and coming will endear themselves to the present fans of the game or invite new fans to the game the way Fed has. If so, who and why?

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 02/05/2008 at 10:18 PM

Hey TennisRone!

Your good mood is infectious! I love it! Could you make that scenario you painted in your opening paragraph come true????

A ONE-HOUR interview with a Packers fan? That's kind of hilarious. A local NYC sports show?

You hadn't shared that with me previously but thanks for doing so. :) Midwesterners are very friendly in general, and well, Green Bay is probably small town America at its best. I loooove NYC, though.

I saw a cool interview w/the Miami Dolphins' kicker who described traveling to Lambeau Field as "majestic simplicity." They stay in Appleton, my hometown of 70,000, eat at Lombardi's Steakhouse, with all the Packers memorabilia and then drive through the neighborhoods to get to the stadium. He said he felt like he was in the movie "Hoosiers." LOL Anyway, I'm glad all your fans had a good experience.

Here was the headline the day after we lost:

"Kicked out in the cold."

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 02/05/2008 at 10:21 PM

CM,

Was it equally good all three times or did you have a fav performance? You live in Colorado, right? :)

Posted by Rosangel 02/05/2008 at 10:22 PM

All the stuff about stick shifts is hilariious. because where I come from it's unusual not to drive a car with gears. I know one person with an automatic car, but I've never learned to drive one - it wouldn't feel like driving a "real" car!

I don't believe that Rafa's family is lacking materially - don't they own a second home by the sea that he often uses when in Mallorca? - but he does seem very grounded in basic family values and good manners. And, in spite of reputedly being fairly introverted, he still manages to project a lot of himself on court - perhaps all the more intensely because of being a bit introverted. I do think he (and his family) have been able to draw on the previous experience of having a well-known sportsman in the family, his uncle Miquel Angel, and they have all used it well. Not to mention that Rafa has also benefited from a young age of learning from his fellow Mallorcan, Carlos Moya (about whom I've yet to see anyone say anything derogatory - he seems to have been a wonderful mentor for the younger player).

Posted by Siggy, waiting for TMF 02/05/2008 at 10:22 PM

...hmmph, am I allowed to take back the, umm, adolescent gushing above...? I forgot to be my usual cordial (meow) self, just returned from the worst dinner ever... snapped at kind dinner companion, I'll have to apologize, and I dislike apologizing even more than being patronized, pffft...

Hi Tangi, mama mia! I would not mind seeing it again myself! ;)

Byron not Black (can I call you Don J.?), contratulations! That was an awesome game! ;) By the way, where in NYC do you live? (let me guess... Upper West Side?)

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 10:26 PM

Tangi, I enjoyed all three performances of MAMMA MIA. Obviously the first time in London was special because it was new and I did not know the story. But at that performance...they did not sing "Waterloo" at the end like they do regularly now. The Las Vegas show was great too (at the Mandalay Bay) because I saw it with my mother...and of course, that is a mother/daughter show in alot of ways. The Colorado show was a traveling show in town for a few days - but still a great production. I saw it with four friends who had never seen it, so it was fun again.

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 10:27 PM

Mike and the Mad Dog is the #1 Rated afternoon sports talk program in town (it may be #1 rated in that slot period, but I can't honestly verify that...if you want to listen, wfan.com has podcasts and saves interviews they do for replays). "Mad Dog" Russo has a Saturday show and he brought a local fan he met in the bar the previous evening onto the show with him to discuss how the Packers fan was approaching the game. He also interviewed Jerry Kramer, Chuck Mercein, and Sam Huff during that program. It was one of his best ever. I was driving to my sister in Maryland at the time in radio ecstacy.

Appleton....do you know the family that was portrayed by the Flags of Our Fathers book? I believe the last name was Farrell....but it escapes me at this time. That is a must read IMO for ANY person alive and walking this earth. Especially kids under the age of 18....tremendous reading experience.

I need to get involved in the tennis discussion again! Sorry guys...you have no idea how tremendous this Giants accompishment is!!!

Posted by Aussie Ange 02/05/2008 at 10:28 PM

About gear cars the guy I lived with wanted me to get a geared car which meant I would of had to have extra driving lessons as he thought if anything went wrong I would be able to drive his car. Also I have noticed automatics use up more petrol. Don't worry I am not giving up my automatic car. I love it to bits.

The only time I found Fed not gracious in defeat was after he played Canas. I have always found Fed to have a great deal of sportmanship. I must admit I like Fed a little bit more than Rafa but are mostly flove for both.

Well I live in Perth and there are no single men in my city. They are all married by the time they get to their early 30's.

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 10:29 PM

Siggy....of course you may call me Don J.....but you might have to remind me if I have a senior moment.

I currently reside in Westchester County, NY. Very North of the Upper East Side...:-)

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 10:31 PM

BTW......Automatic. I semi-know how to drive stick. One of my goals this year is to force my Dad to drive around with me in his Ford F-150. I need to re-learn stick on that jalopy. I FLOVE that truck.

....and I love my current car...I have no interest in buying a new vehicle at this time...and it would be an automatic tranny....

Posted by Siggy, waiting for TMF 02/05/2008 at 10:35 PM

Is this OT or am I going to get banished to Siberia again...?

This just in: Romney won Utah. Wow.

Those of you who wondered how a rich person can be provincial, ummm, W as... exhibit A?

Don Juan, a... senior moment? Very funny, such a young buck you are, and you're talking senioritis...! Westchester county, OK!

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 10:36 PM

Thanks Abbey and CM!! I will probably be floating emotionally for some time. That was an unspeakably outstanding experience.

I can see why those 72 Dolphins guys covet that record so much. It's extremely unique...but they do get a little too much attention. Especially Mercury morris. At least he is ok to listen to......

YOu snapped at your dinner companion Siggy? Oh...do tell. *nudge nudge, wink wink*

...i could use a dinner partner some time....

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 10:36 PM

***does anyone believe that any of the up and comers who have been up and coming will endear themselves to the present fans of the game or invite new fans to the game the way Fed has. If so, who and why?***
____________

Yummy Prince Fed...there are so many things that endear fans to an athlete. Some get enamored early by a style or a personality of an up-and-comer, while others grow to love an athlete as the career goes on. Some are beloved, some become beloved.

Like I said, I have followed tennis for over 30 years and only two players were 'beloved' by me - Borg and Federer. Now, I very much liked alot of other players and admired a ton...but those two did it for me. I never thought I would love a player as much as I loved Borg, but I have even more admiration for Federer.

Is there another tennis player who may some day get that kind of response from me? Of course...but I have not seen that player yet.

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 10:37 PM

***does anyone believe that any of the up and comers who have been up and coming will endear themselves to the present fans of the game or invite new fans to the game the way Fed has. If so, who and why?***
____________

Yummy Prince Fed...there are so many things that endear fans to an athlete. Some get enamored early by a style or a personality of an up-and-comer, while others grow to love an athlete as the career goes on. Some are beloved, some become beloved.

Like I said, I have followed tennis for over 30 years and only two players were 'beloved' by me - Borg and Federer. Now, I very much liked alot of other players and admired a ton...but those two did it for me. I never thought I would love a player as much as I loved Borg, but I have even more admiration for Federer.

Is there another tennis player who may some day get that kind of response from me? Of course...but I have not seen that player yet.

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 10:37 PM

oh darn...sorry about the double post

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 02/05/2008 at 10:38 PM

TennisRone,

Do you mean the Bradley family? John Bradley was one of the six men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima. He grew up in Appleton but then moved away after he came home from the war. No, I don't know them, but I'm tickled you've heard of little 'ol Appleton, Wisconsin. :)))

Did you go to the ticker tape parade today? How does the excitement compare to a Yankees World Series win?

I hope the fan that Mad Dog plucked from obscurity represented us well. I'm a little worried about this. LOL

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 02/05/2008 at 10:40 PM

TennisRone,

BTW, shouldn't you be watching election results tonight? Didn't you say your job was in politics? :)

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 10:41 PM

I have to apologize...I often find myself steering these thoughtful tennis discussions onto other non-tennis related topics. That's kind of poor thread-etiquette...I think.

I thought Pete did a masterful job of capturing TMF and Rafa...again. It's strange how Rafa does have depth personally and we can prolly all agree regarding his tennis acumen...but it does seem like there would be someplace where he could reduce the stress on his game with some variety (looping balls, more spins, etc.). But....that wouldn't be Rafa. On harder, faster courts, his balls just stay up too long and the "bigger" players can take advantage of it.

TMF is...well....TMF.....

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 10:43 PM

***The only time I found Fed not gracious in defeat was after he played Canas***
________

I can't remember what Fed said, but I know Roger does not like any kind of cheating - drugs or otherwise. I imagine that may have really irked him inside to lose to a guy just returning from a drug suspension.

Posted by Siggy, waiting for TMF 02/05/2008 at 10:44 PM

CM, Borg and Federer? I can see why.... Like I said to somebody recently, I much prefer quiet intensity to bombastic bravado, I guess you feel similarly? ;) What about Edberg...? I liked him a lot, though not nearly half as much as I adore Rog...!

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 10:45 PM

My work is not related to politics. I think Tari mentioned she worked for some election groups. However, I am tuned in. I giggled at Siggy's comment regarding Romney and Utah...teeehhee. I can't believe how well Huckabee is doing...I'm very proud of America for that. I'm not going to say he's the squeakiest clean guy out there...but he's certainly not mainstream, and to be so competitive is a tremendous feat. Romney is done. That doesn't bother me.

*Disclaimer: I am VERY MUCH against the Clinton campaign...on multiple levels, not necessarily just Hilary...although I'm very unmotivated by her and scoff at an Arkansas native whom claims to represent New York...BAH!*

GO OBAMA!!!!

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 10:47 PM

Yes Tangi! The Bradleys!! Didn't they opne a funeral home in Wisconsin, though? *buzzing of lightbulbs in head*

Posted by dnrood 02/05/2008 at 10:50 PM

This was a very insightful article Pete. The comparison of Nadal to a leopard is appropriate. The more I watch Rafa the more he reminds me of a wild animal on court. He neither gives sympathy or expects it in return. Something that causes many fans to refer to him as a bully on the court. I just think it is his make up. When Rafa gets trounced he always keeps trying as hard as he can and there never seems to be an ounce of self pity. In the same vein when he sees and injured opponent he goes after them and finishes them off. Otherwise known as the law of the jungle.

It is this base nature of Rafa that produces the qualities I admire so much about him as a competitor. His ability to stay in the moment and concentrate on every point, to fight for every point like its the last he'll ever play is something you don't always see in the pro athlete. I would say he is as good a competitor as I have seen in any sport. He simply is not going to give anything to his opponent. He may get physically overpowered, aka Tsonga at the AO, but he is going to make you win every point and give you nothing. If this shortens his career, so be it. I can't imagine Rafa playing any other way and I wouldn't like him nearly as much if he changed.

The reverse of his on court persona is his kind and respectful nature off of it. Obviously, we don't know everything about him and undoubtedly he has faults, but what we see at press conferences and off the court activities (blogs at tournaments) reveals the best in a professional athlete. He seems to go out of his way to respect all his opponents (possible exception Soderling) and give them credit and not make excuses for losses. He seems modest and sincere, lacking any sort of polished veneer (sophistication?). I think the fact that he and Roger seem so respectful and to genuinely like each other speaks volumes about his character. Also, that Roger would want Rafa to be the eventual No. 1 says that Roger sees the kind of qualities he wants in the ultimate ambassador to the game.

Posted by Siggy, waiting for TMF 02/05/2008 at 10:50 PM

Dear Don Young Buck Juan, you really are a funny one! Oui, I snapped at my kind dinner companion, would it suffice to say that he does not understand my, uumm, luuuuv for...TMF... among other things? ;)

So you work in politics? Do tell! Btw, Aristotle said, man is a political animal, non? This election year is turning out to be as fascinating as... the emerging Roger-Rafa-Djoker triumvirate, don't you think?

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 10:51 PM

BTW....I fall into the category of "Nice Guy"/"Guy Mom wants you to date"...however, I definitely have an affinity for the "Not so Nice Girl". It's amazing how that works...right? I'm not really vanilla, but I definitely don't exactly consider myself a risk taker/social misfit/revolutionary type. I like my women to have a little edge to them. Too girly doesn't usually keep me interested...although that certainly won't stop me from engaging with one...*toussles hair*

How do I look?

Posted by abbey 02/05/2008 at 10:51 PM

oh, and one more thing with the rafa flove coming from fed fans, i've said this before but i just want to say again, that this place has made me appreciate roger more.

Posted by jbradhunter 02/05/2008 at 10:51 PM

TennisRone- clearly the Giants win has acted like barrel full o' moonshine and you're seeing double things like flying avacados and water falling up from the ground... Hillary should be on the Dem Ticket. I will just pass off your Obamalaise to wicked homegrown whiskey.

Posted by FoT 02/05/2008 at 10:52 PM

Well, one good thing that Djokovic has done that many others couldn't do earlier in the year... He seemed to have brought us Roger fans closer to the Nadal fans and vice versa! Go Roger and Rafa! lol!

Posted by jbradhunter 02/05/2008 at 10:54 PM

TennisRone- I forgot to add

:P

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 10:55 PM

This is definitely the most exciting election in some time. Prolly since 1992. 2000 was pretty good....but not as hotly contested. We've only just started...too. This thing is going to get crrrrazy.

Ah, Siggy...I find that outside the confines of this fine forum that most NY women don't find TMF on their radar screen. Generally, "McDreamy" gets a universal vote along with other random faves (Derek Jeter, *enter 21-25 male actor whose name escapes me*, etc.) I would be hard pressed to find myself getting into such a discussion. But oh, do I hope that is in my future!!!!

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 10:55 PM

Siggy...I literally fell in love with Borg when I accidentally turned on the TV and saw him win his first Wimbledon. As a little girl...trust me...he was a Blonde GOD!! I knew zilch about tennis but because of Borg, I became of fan of the game. I'm an extrovert and for some reason, I am immediately drawn to the opposite. I find quiet confidence such an admirable quality because I dont have it, ha! You can always tell a supremely confident person...because he/she doesn't need to remind you of it. Whenever I talk to someone and that person has to be the center-of-attention or is continually reminding me of how great he/she is...I know it's all a facade and a real turn-off.

Like I said, I fell in love with Borg's looks but his silent demeanor and killer focus made me love him. Roger was different. The first time I ever heard of him was when he beat Sampras at Wimbledon. I didn't like Sampras so I was just eager to see the Swiss kid who took him down. It still took me another year or so to really flove Fed but when it happened, it happened in a big way.

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 10:57 PM

We'll agree to disagree Jbrad. <%-) Anything in particular you find yourself most impressed with regarding Ms. Clinton? Any specific policy angle? Or is it more of a "Get-The_Republicans-Out-Of-Here" vote?

Posted by Tim ($3.03 today on Starbucks!) 02/05/2008 at 10:57 PM

i hear ya on Djoker... is anyone gonna care if he's No. 1 (if and not when) given his game is kinda cookie cutter, not flashy, not pretty, etc. He's a more modern Hewitt from his style, more aggressive certainly, but eh, i cant see him exciting too many non tennis fans... in his first Slam final he didnt even have the crowd on his side and I really think both Rafa and Roger will be crowd favorites this year when they face him now ...

i do think Rafa would be a much better No. 1 for tennis than Djoker, but as Pete's story says, it seems less likely he's gonna manage it, given the rise of Djoker and all these other powerful hitters who can knock him off the court (not clay of course) ... Fed is so so special that Djoker just looks completely bland in comparison ... Rafa is far far more of a star for tennis, but i really wonder if these big strong tall guys are just too strong now, and gettting stronger... we shall see!

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 10:58 PM

*enjoying moonshine laced with Bailey's*

Posted by jbradhunter 02/05/2008 at 11:03 PM

TR- I mostly like that she's politically very experienced and she's a lady- I'd like for a woman's perspective to lead the country, really

After she serves her 4 years- then I think Obama will be ready :)

though- if he wins the nom- I'll certainly vote for him- and I really do belive he'll be fantastic in the position

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 11:03 PM

Only $3.03 at Starbux today Tim?

I would love to see how Rafa's game would look if some finesse crept in somewhere. He just comes with the same pace almost all of the time....and with that heavy topspin sailing towards the center of the hitting zone for the bog boys (Tsonga, for example), they can just unload and put Rafa in a very defensive position.

one also has to believe that people are catching up to Rafa's unusual ball trajectory...it wasn't going to confuse folks forever. I think TMF does a great job as Tennis' ambassador. I think it's good to finally have a sports star you can idolize for their talents and their humility. Not that Rafa wouldn't be great...but his boyishness and attractiveness would most certainly be the focus of the advertisers and marketers attention. TMF is just very eloquent and does a tremendous job taking the game to a level beyond the tennis played within the intimate confines of a tennis stadium.

Posted by Arcilla Tacones/ Andrea 02/05/2008 at 11:04 PM

Pete, I loved this piece on Rafa!
It's true that the "boyishness" is what won me over. I first saw Rafa on tv at miami '05. He was leading Fed 2 sets to love in the final and was running and jumping all over the place. Seemed like a "nicer" version of hewitt. so it all started there.

About the injuries, yes Rafa has had his share of those, but look at the other guys his age who are supposedly his "threats". Murray missed out much of last year, tsonga had major injury problems, djokovic calls out the trainer nearly every match, monfils is...what did happen to monfils...? so my point is, atleast Rafa hasn't had MAJOR injuries to where he couldn't play for months. hope it doesn't happen either, it would definitely be a loss for tennis if he disappeared early...or atleast for me.

btw, in his aussie wrap up, el jon reported that rafa flew back to mallorca economy class. probably a mix up, but he seems to have plane issues.

Posted by jbradhunter 02/05/2008 at 11:06 PM

we're having storm cells in middle TN- one just went thru- some hail and also tornado warnings- another one is coming after midnight here

Posted by Siggy, waiting for TMF 02/05/2008 at 11:06 PM

CM, it took you a whole year to fall for rog..? boy, you're a hard sell! It took me like 10 minutes.. OK, hyperbolic I am, 20 whole minutes! ;) Roger in movement is sooo... cat-like graceful, that's what did it for me! ;)

Don YB Juan, good to know you're not exactly vanilla! I'm no green girl, but... I'm a very girlie girl, and I'm a Clinton-ite all the way...! Good thing the good old U.S. of A. is founded on the right to dissent, non? (translation: we can still be friends, non? ;))

Posted by Jamie 02/05/2008 at 11:07 PM

I guess I read a different article. I found it condescending, patronizing, and insulting to Rafael Nadal. North vs South? Playing for the love of the sport with no thought to what he's doing out there? I know you watch clay court matches so you know better Mr. Bodo.
Only Northern Europeans have the ability to reason and think while Southern Europeans are happy go lucky children? My oh may where have I heard that sort of thing before?

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 11:07 PM

***Tim wrote: I cant see him exciting too many non tennis fans... in his first Slam final he didnt even have the crowd on his side and I really think both Rafa and Roger will be crowd favorites this year when they face him now ... ***

I think you are right about this Tim - I think the fans will cheer for both Roger and Rafa against him (for the most part). It's weird because Djoker was a crowd favorite in NY. But even with that 'love'...Roger was still very much cheered for in that final. That's respect. And look how different it was in Australia. That is what I was talking about a few weeks ago. There is a difference between cheering for someone and actively cheering against them.

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 02/05/2008 at 11:07 PM

Siggy,

Agree on the quiet intensity. Still waters run deep. *sigh* And I liked Edberg. Roger is the first tennis player I have ever loved.

You changed your moniker ... you are no longer waiting for DMS? And what are you waiting for TMF to do? :)

CM,

My mother was big on the "don't toot your own horn" philosophy, too. :)

TennisRone,

If you are going to put yourself on the TW market, you will have to tell us your age. :)

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 11:08 PM

Personally, I think Hilary has one platform, and that's health care....and i don't particularly support her view on it. I think everything else she is a mirror of her husband and just goes with what the polls tell her. Plus, she seems a lot more motivated about the achievement itself than representing America, IMO. I think Obama has been consistently playing this "unity" angle (even though it will be blunted by Congress were he to be elected). He's not experienced....but I don't think he's a loose cannon either. I think he's very intelligent and has personal standards. Hilary's standards are whatever puts her in the best electable position. Frankly, I think she should have kicked Bill to the curb back in the day. But...that is my opinion. I liked Bill at first...but he wore down as things moved along.

Don't worry jbrad....there will be a female leader...and it won't be too far off in the distance. There are better female leaders out there, they'll surface.

Posted by jbradhunter 02/05/2008 at 11:09 PM

you know what- I went back and watched Rafa's semi and final at IW- and he wasn't standing right on top of the baseline or anything- he was still about 2-3 ft behind the baseline but by the last 2 matches he was hitting very aggressively with his forehand- he was timing his dtl forehand very well

Posted by jbradhunter 02/05/2008 at 11:11 PM

TennisRone- you ARE Don Juan- I noticed upstream you were the lone male poster in a cyber room full of women

uh huh :D

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 11:11 PM

"Don YB Juan, good to know you're not exactly vanilla! I'm no green girl, but... I'm a very girlie girl, and I'm a Clinton-ite all the way...! Good thing the good old U.S. of A. is founded on the right to dissent, non? (translation: we can still be friends, non? ;))"

You'll always have a place in Don Juan's heart....Don Juan likes to being out the best in his company...he enjoys accentuating the positives....;-I) <----notice Don Juan's moustache!

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 02/05/2008 at 11:12 PM

Hi jbrad,

Have you recovered from your first football game, yet? :)

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 11:13 PM

....bring out the best....

Posted by CM 02/05/2008 at 11:15 PM

***CM, it took you a whole year to fall for rog..? boy, you're a hard sell! It took me like 10 minutes***
__________

After Borg retired, I didn't watch tennis as religiously as I did before - mostly GS. Remember back then, we didn't have the TV coverage and Internet influx like we do today. Because I didn't like Sampras, I wasn't as interested in tennis because he was always beating Agassi, who I liked more. I did take notice of Fed when he beat Sampras but I only saw highlights of the match, so I hadn't yet been hit with his true genius. His 2003 Wimbledon win was the first time I saw a complete match of his. I remember being so moved when he cried after winning. I definitely knew who he was in 2004 but I was still an Agassi fan first. My KADness started very soon after that, however! :)

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 11:15 PM

It must be the way I roll my R's jbrad that keeps me standing amongst such beautiful company.

*wink wink wink*

Age? I am younger the Andre Agassi and Older than TMF.

Posted by Siggy, waiting for TMF 02/05/2008 at 11:15 PM

Tangi, yeaaaahhh, quiet intensity rules! ;) Umm, DMS is a busy monkey these days, and TMF, well, our Rog has been less than his spectacular self for a while now, hasn't he? I'm waiting for him to unleash celestial tennis once again....

Don YB Juan, are you perchance a pollster? (I happen to know one, and he sounds eeeerily like you!)

Posted by jbradhunter 02/05/2008 at 11:18 PM

I must say that I certainly picked a fantastic first football game to watch pre-show to new episode of "House"

I still can't believe that receiver caught that ball from Eli up in the hair and then smushed it against his helmet with the defender pulling him down and eve still managed to hang on to the ball- with less than a minute left, 3rd down?, and the Giats needing a life-saving TD

whew!

Posted by TennisRone 1000 (recently blue, still not Byron Black) 02/05/2008 at 11:18 PM

I try on many hats Siggy....pollster is not one of them.

Most people thought I should be a teacher. Currently I work in Finance....maybe not for long the way things are going for my employer...:-S....but I at least work for a stand-up crew.

Posted by colin 02/05/2008 at 11:24 PM

cool post. rafa is my fav player on tour, with djoker and donald young close by... Rafa is getting better and he does have tennis IQ/ otherwise he wouldnt be where he is. This year looks bright! he had his best showing EVER at the AO- tsonga caught em off gaurd, it happens (tsonga was on fire for that tourney). rafa will stay in the top 4 for sure this year. What i think would improve his game is having a assistant hardcourt coach, planning a better schedule for events (lessen the strain at the end of the season) and adapting a style similar to agassi. maybe like some1 said, having a home-y vibe in the us open to boost his self confidence there too! Hes a fan fav here in the usa! im rooting for em.

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